I’m no sociologist, but a good chunk of male thinking revolves around being perceived as manly and macho. Being a muscular man is attractive to women, and that’s what drives a lot of men to act the way they do. Being dominant is a must, and that’s what gets you the women.
From a very young age, however, I have never believed in that kind of thinking. (Granted, I was never very humorous.) It didn’t help that my dad tried to cultivate my love for reading, so while peers of mine picked up some Hardy Boys or Harry Potter I was already reading Boccacio’s Decameron during my fourth grade.
One of the stories in the Decameron that struck me was the tale that featured a man named Federigo and his falcon. To summarize, Federigo was previously a rich man that had fallen into poverty but was besotted with this widow. Shit happens to the widow’s child, and when the child begs to see Federigo’s beautiful falcon for the last time, he merely confessed that the child could no longer see it because they ate the falcon. The child dies shortly after, but the widow, seeing Federigo’s love for her, marries him and they ended up happy.
I also read The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry that same year, and I think those two stories have molded me to try to become a man as decent as the male protagonists of those tales. While I may have had some lapses, I tried to be as decent a guy to women, and I think I did and am doing well.
The dark side to those tales, however, was that I ingrained in myself the belief that love shouldn’t be experimented on. I hesitated from going beyond friendship with a lot of women because I didn’t want to take a risk: if there was something a bit off, I’d stomp whatever budding feelings I had into rationalizations. In short, I was afraid that my love wasn’t going to be as beautiful as those two stories.
It took me 11 years to realize that loving was a risk: it took me that much time to realize that any human love was imperfect, and that one would have to accept mistakes from both sides. I don’t think I was that retarded emotionally, mind you: I also prioritized my academics before anything else. As I come from a lower middle-class family, I had to make up what for what we lacked in finances with a consistently good academic performance.
So it was only two years ago that I willed myself to trying to get to know a girl I think is still very attractive. The sad thing about that was the fact that I was so inexperienced with women that initiating conversation with that lady was excruciating: I relied on my knowledge as my cushion, but I must have bored the hell out of her. I must have scared her along the way, too, but I wish her all the best.
I’m still single now: love just hasn’t been among my top priorities (excuses!) after that girl, as licensure examinations and problems close to home put that on the back-burner. I think my path is the wrong one, though.
Love, I think, is a matter of paraphrasing Beckett: “Fall in love. Fail in love. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”