The way my friends tell it, it always starts the same. When they were kids, they wanted to do cute things with the girlfriends they’d have. They wanted to treat girls the way girls said they wanted to be treated. They wanted to be respectful. Kind. Cheesy, even. But then the girl would go and break their heart, and they’d think it was a wasted effort. Why put in all that work if you’re going to get your world not just broken, not just crushed, but fucking splintered?
And then, the way my friends tell it, they turn a new leaf and think, “Fine, this is is how it’s going to be. I won’t put in effort. I won’t care as much. Not until I meet the girl who will make me care. It’s not worth it anyway.”
To be fair, projecting one mess of hurt feelings onto a future lifetime of relationships isn’t fair. Especially when it’s a bit hypocritical of a teenage boy to claim a teenage girl doesn’t know how to love. Hell, you can be an adult and not know how to love.
I know it’s not considered manly to admit that guys want to fall in love, like I’m throwing my fellow Y chromosomes under the bus here or something, but it’s true. We do. And you could argue that manliness is a construct, and we live in a weird world where the idea of being a man could use an overhaul, but even Don Draper fell in love. (Multiple times, with multiple women, but it proves if it can happen once, it can happen again.)
Popular media culture would like you to think we’re the bad guys. That we’re only in it for the hookups and the one night stands. That we’re not looking for “anything serious,” we’d “hit it and quit it,” you name the phrase, we’ve heard it. And some of us — okay, anyone on a dating site, really — perpetuate it.
But guys want to fall in love. Have a relationship. Get sappy with someone. The whole thing. Sure, our antics probably don’t suggest this and a lot of our lives don’t read “ready for romance” but if you look, the signs are all there. We’re human, after all. Humans crave connection, whether that’s someone sleeping over for one night and having that body heat next to you, or something more. And if you connect to someone (and if, I assume, you’re not completely ill-adjusted) connecting with them further will probably lead to feelings. Which, with the right person, can lead to love.
Writing all men off as womanizers and noncommittal children is just as bad as men writing women off as entitled princesses. Nobody wins. But the difference between men and women is that, while we both want to fall in love, we go about it in vastly different ways. Girls are active. They seek that love and that relationship. They’re vocal about trying to find it. Guys, on the other hand, tend to let it happen. When we find it, we find it. If we meet someone in between, we see where that goes.
This is not to say that women don’t do this, too. And they should, and shouldn’t. I mean, you should do whatever feels right to you. One route is no more effective than the other. One just has more hope; the other, fewer expectations. That’s all.
Because the way my friends tell it, when it hits, it’s great. It hits hard. It’s wonderful. These are the ones in relationships, the ones who are in love. But they fell into their status more often than not, and if they pursued a girl, it was only after they realized they found it. And they chased it. And they put in the effort. And they reversed all their bitter ideas about heartbreak. It happens. After all, guys wouldn’t be in relationships and getting married if it didn’t. And at my last check, we’re still doing all of that. We’re not completely hopeless.
We want to fall in love, too. We just hope you don’t write us off entirely before we get the chance to fall in love with you.