Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nothing’s Sexier than a Guy Who Wants You

Warning, 4/17/08 “The Office” spoilers to follow!

First a bit of back story: A couple weeks ago my daughter broke up with her boyfriend of two and a half years. It was their second break-up: the other time was a year ago when her boyfriend called it off. It only took him like two weeks to beg her to take him back, to give him another chance, which eventually she did. He made a lot of promises, everything from quitting smoking eventually to marrying her eventually. Well, a year went by of her waiting for that ring, hoping he would change his various ways, and while at first it look promising, time told another story. Finally, when pressed, he admitted he didn’t really want to get married at all.

The “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” rule went into play, and now my daughter is single again, and surprisingly happy. There are worse things than being single, and one of them is being with a guy who doesn’t truly want you—at least not enough to compromise his other wants.

So, this past Thursday night my husband and I were watching “The Office,” and our favorite TV couple, Jim and Pam, were up to their usual charming hijinx all episode. Finally Jim mentioned, humorously, that he intended to propose to Pam—not right then, but eventually. This was the same line that had been used on my daughter, but somehow coming from Jim, we knew he meant it down to the soles of his feet. Or so we hoped, anyway.

Next scene, Jim is talking to the “fourth wall,” the cameraman, and tells him he really means it. He whips out a small black box, flips it open, and there’s the ring! He says he bought it a week after they started dating and is just waiting for the perfect moment.

Wow. If you’re wondering what my daughter thought of this, she hasn’t yet seen the episode as of this writing. But David and I couldn’t help sighing and wishing it had been Jim who was our hoped-to-be son-in-law.

My daughters’ generation abounds in commitment-phobes, much to the dismay of both my girls (the other one is just looking for a nice guy to go out with once or twice and they even balk at that). Too many of these young men simply don’t want to grow up and be responsible for a wife, a home, and possibly even children. They need their time for playing computer games, hanging out in bars, or watching sports. They need their money for iPhones, trips to Europe, and lots of beer. One figures they will eventually develop different priorities and start to see the value of nurturing a relationship with a long-term companion, building a home, and setting goals for significant personal achievements.

There’s that word again: eventually. Meaning not now, maybe later, maybe.

These same guys don’t have a clue what being a real man means. Masculine virtue—the kind that makes a male attractive to the opposite sex and admirable to his own—lies on the other end of the scale from “eventually.” It encompasses qualities like determination, responsibility, reliability, devotion, maturity and discernment. The virtuous male also recognizes the value in a good woman, a woman who has the qualities to make a happy and secure home with him, and wants her in a proactive way. Not just in a “hey, it’s cool, we’ll just hang out” way, but in a “let’s take the steps to make a real future together” way.

Which brings us back to Jim. He knows Pam well enough to have figured out the two of them can be happy together. His conclusion: Why not get married? Why not promise to spend the rest of their lives together? In fact, his excitement at the idea is obvious and infectious. Who can help but envy Pam, that a good man like this wants her so bad?

Jim Halpert has been pretty damn sexy for the duration of this show’s four seasons. But I think he reached new heights Thursday night.


Janet said...

Interesting post, but I don't think that it is descriptive of just your daughters' generation. Way back in the 70's (are we feeling old yet? ) we were faced with the same thing; men who found other things they'd rather do than commit. Providing, of course, they could define the word and their role in commitment.
The problem is the ever changing definition of a "man" and his role in society and relationships.
I am often surprised to find men who are (a) in committed relationships and (b)happy with their role in said relationship. There seems to be so few.
I am also often surprised to find women who (see above).
You've posted before about the changing gender roles and how it affects society. I think this is one more example of how we have lost the definition of "who we are" in a broad spectrum of issues.

Just my $1.98. :)

Diana Laurence said...

Enlightened comments, Janet. And really, the root of the problem is not experiential or generational, but deep down in human nature. We all, to one degree or another, will place instant gratification above long-term happiness, and our own needs above those of others. And while values shift with every generation, there are always things any generation tends to place above relationships. I dare say in the 70s it tended to be "personal freedom," and now it is probably more materialistic.

I am one of the fortunate ones to have found a man who is happy in a committed relationship, and makes me happy to be likewise. Not something one should ever take for granted!

Thanks for your wise and true post.

Lee said...

The problem is that there is little incentive for a man to be in a relationship.

Being masculine by your definition is relegating oneself to a life of servitude. Determination and whatever are only deemed virtuous in their function of providing for women.

Diana Laurence said...

"Relegating oneself to a life of servitude" is an interesting way of interpreting it, Lee. I like to think men are capable both of finding individual ways of self-satisfaction AND at the same time devote themselves to making another person happy. Women do this all the time and I know plenty of men who do too.

I will admit, however, that there are some women out there who are so demanding in their relationships that they give their mates the idea that the only way to get by is to comply with the woman's every demand. That approach by the female is just as bad as men's commitment-avoidance. But I'm very sure most women out there are just looking for someone to meet them halfway, to give and take.

The problem occurs only when one or both partners only want to take.

Self-actualization for guys can and does come from anything from career success to mountain climbing; I'm just suggesting it can also come from devoting yourself to your romantic partner in a long-term relationship, and I think that idea has been largely lost today. Your comments would tend to confirm that, in fact!

Miss Organizized said...

Daughter responding finally!

The irony of this episode is just too much really! The more I think about it, the crazier it is. In any case, above all else, Jim gives chicks like me hope that guys like this still exist. There are way too many men out there who think that all we want our diamonds, big houses, and trips around the world. And obviously some of my gender is to blame. But when you get down to it, all I want is a man who appreciates me in his life (as I do him in mine) and that fact alone makes proposing, and eventually marrying me not scary at all, but rather a gift that he wouldn't trade for anything in the world. The fact that Jim got that ring a week after he and Pam got together says it all. I like to imagine Jim and Pam being real people and them watching my last few years on tv and just shaking their heads at the way my relationship unfolded and then met it's ultimate demise. Then again, that's the difference between tv and reality. But there still remains a glimmer of hope that television, in this case, doesn't have to be all that far off from reality. Call me naive, call me a cockeyed optimist :) At the end of the day, I'm just a girl who deserves it.

Diana Laurence said...

Thanks for posting, daughter! And beautifully said. I like the mental picture of Jim and Pam watching you on TV. :-) Fortunately, the demise is not a sad story, but more along the lines of the kaput relationships Ted experiences on "How I Met Your Mother." Just side trips on the road to the ultimate mate. See, I guess I'm a cockeyed optimist too! LOL

Miss Organizized said...

That's a good call :) I'll have to remind myself of that from time to time. Now if only I could meet Ted Mosby, architect...sighhhhh....

Dating Consultant said...

I'm probably going to be the odd-ball female here and say I don't think men are any more commitment-phobic than women. In my line of work (the dating "biz!) I get just as many guys that complain about finding the right girl.

I think, however, that there has always been the challenge to find the right person especially for you. When you do, then being together becomes, as "the daughter" has said, a gift! (Very well said, at that.)

Diana Laurence said...

Cherie, you are indeed something of an expert on the subject of dating, so it's great to have your input. And encouraging to think there really ARE guys out there just as hopeful about settling down with the right person!