The wise and mirthful Dogsquat (who I amazingly haven’t linked yet, welcome to the blogosphere amigo) riffed on the difference between what outsiders see in a relationship versus the actual reality, only experienced by the people inside.
Over about a two year period, I was involved with:
-A cocktail waitress
-A psychology grad student
-A yoga instructor
-A semi-pro model/sommelier
-A professional modern dancer
All of these girls were attractive. Most were fun. Some were smart, a few were funny. I had a reputation for dating beautiful women. Once a week someone would say,”Dude, how do you do it?!” On the surface, I was doing great. My acquaintances were envious. My very close friends were ready to pack me off to a monastery. Why? Here’s a more accurate list:
-A stripper (‘nough said)
-An architect with an eating disorder
-An alcoholic cocktail waitress
-A psychology grad student with poorly controlled bipolar disorder.
-A yoga instructor with daddy issues and pronounced gold-digger tendencies – come to think about it, she had some issues with food, too.
-A cokehead semi-pro model/sommelier who’s abusive ex-boyfriend/dealer tried to stab me
-A professional modern dancer with sexual identity problems (weird, weird shit, man - not suitable for children, the aged, or the infirm.)
The sequence reminded me of “The Cheerleader Effect,” coined by How I Met Your Mother‘s dashing ladies’ man Barney Stinson. In the episode “Not A Father’s Day” (in which Barney invents a holiday to celebrate the resolution of a pregnancy scare), Barney lectures the rest of the gang that a gaggle of women at McLaren’s are not actually attractive.
“The Cheerleader Effect is when a group of women seems hot – but only as a group. Just like with cheerleaders – they seem hot, but take each one of them individually? Sled dogs.”
Barney notes other names for the phenomenon: “The Bridesmaid Paradox; Sorority Girl Syndrome; and for a brief window in the Nineties, the Spice Girls Conspiracy.”
This bit of sexual-marketplace wisdom was punctuated by a panning shot of the girls in question, revealing grievous faults in each of them which were invisible when seen as a group. The only clip of the scene I was able to find is in Italian, but it illustrates the point just fine.
DON’T MAKE COMPARISONS
It’s very tempting to get into comparisons when you’re sharpening your game. It’s easy to pat yourself on the back for your successes over your pals, or to mope that so-and-so has bagged more notches since he got into the game than you have.
I’m here to tell you, it’s a very self-destructive pattern, because it takes your focus off of improving your own game and moves it over to copying someone else’s. It’s also pointless, because as the above shows, there’s an inside story to every couple, and it’s often a lot less rosy than we want to believe.
Lots of men have had either or both sides of this experience: being jealous of another man only to find out later that the girl he was dating was batshit crazy, orbeing the envy of your friends with some hot or sweet or wicked thing on your arm, only to feel a growing pit in your stomach dreading the breakup because you’d get so much crap from your in-the-dark friends.
Sometimes, people get together with or even put off breaking up with toxic partners because of this social pressure. Sometimes, sadly, the participants themselves are blind to the pitfalls and neuroses of their partners.
SOMETIMES ENVY IS A JUSTIFIED RESPONSE
There are some moments where it’s OK to sit back and say, “that guy has it good.” So long as you understand that every pair has caveats, there are some couples you can look at and think their model is something to shoot for.
Like Athol Kay, for instance. His wife Jennifer joins with him in making a great home, enables him to act as a quality husband, abhors yelling and conflict, and (of course) indulges with him in a highly active sex life, which she’s OK having plastered across the Internet for the benefit of other couples. (Jennifer copyedits every MMSL post.)
If anything were to happen to him, his blog is a full-length advertisement for her fitness as a wife to another deserving man.
I’ve noticed that almost every guy I’ve known with a great wife has said he was lucky. I never took this as an indictment of his value, or as a sign of pedestalization that he thought his wife was better than him – rather, I saw it as an acknowledgement that it’s hard to find a good woman, and you have to be lucky as well as good to get one.