In my experience dating, which has lasted enough consecutive years that I consider myself to be an absolute expert on the subject (especially on the topic of dating badly), I have found increasing evidence of the disparity between what qualifies as acceptable behavior in women vs. men. I’m not talking about things like who pays the bill, leaving the seat up, following exes on Instagram. No, I’m talking about the subtle things—the seemingly ordinary words and actions that men can somehow get away with that, were they uttered or executed by women, would cause the other party to run for the hills.
Though seemingly harmless, lesser-educated women—those new to the dating game—read into these things, dissecting them in such a manner as to infer greater meaning. One would think that men know that when they casually invite a 3-days-fresh girlfriend to grab coffee with him and his parents over the weekend that the woman is possibly led to believe this means something, but I’ve begun to believe that these dudes don’t have the foggiest idea about intention and, worse still, misinterpreted intentions. They’re just throwing spaghetti around, not even caring what sticks to the walls.
And so I’ve thought about a handful of things that have been the topic of conversation on more than one occasion, when a girlfriend has plopped down next to me and tried to understand how a guy could do or say this or that and then, no less than two days later, stop even bothering to respond to text messages. Newsflash: They’re not being cruel; they’re just being clueless. Stop even bothering to analyze.
1. “Hey, want to help me pick out some furniture for my new apartment?”
What a girl thinks: He anticipates me being around long enough that I will one day be using this sofa on a regular basis.
What a guy thinks: Shopping for bedside tables in my bachelor pad is boring. Two friends bailed before this and I could still use the company.
2. “My sister really likes you.”
What a girl thinks: I am winning over the family, which means I am winning over him.
What a guy thinks: My sister really likes you, but that has nothing to do with how much l like you.
3. “You should listen to this song by this band. I think you’ll enjoy it.”
What a girl thinks: This is just like that time in elementary school when Brian Borchart made me a mix tape and covered it in hearts. This guy is totally falling in love with me.
What a guy thinks: You should listen to this song by this band. I think you’ll enjoy it.
4. “Yeah, you should totally come with me to St. Barths.”
What a girl thinks: He likes me… and he’s rich.
What a guy thinks: Wonder if she’ll sleep with me before I actually have to pull the trigger on this fictionalized vacation.
5. “You’re the best.”
What a girl thinks: I AM THE BEST!!!! I AM THE BEST!!!!
What a guy thinks: You’re pretty okay amongst other pretty okay babes. [Pats shoulder like an utterly platonic baseball teammate.]