Thursday, May 14, 2009

Don't Shoot The Messenger Part II: For The Men

Ok, the much anticipated Part II … Men, know I’m on your side too and trying to help. Please feel free to refer to the title of this blog in any moments of doubt.

I start with a story. When I was a 23 year old law student, I visited my grandmother in South Florida during Winter Break. One day at the beach by myself, I met “Bernie.” Bernie was more than twice my age, with a belly the size of a woman carrying twins and hair that had abandoned his head to make a sizable carpet on his back. I was friendly to Bernie after he struck up a conversation with me (for starters, I was a captive audience and didn’t know how to extricate myself – damn that sugar and spice ... see April 23rd blog). At one point, Bernie mentioned that he was a lawyer and so I was slightly more interested in continuing the conversation (as everyone in law school tells you, network, network, network).

On day two at the beach, there is Bernie again. After chatting with Bernie further about law school, etc., I’m actually looking at Bernie now as my “friend,” Bernie, the lawyer. So when Bernie overtly hit on me on Day 3, I was in utter disbelief. “You have got to be kidding me. Is this guy for real?” were just some of the thoughts that went through my mind as I left the beach in disgust. To me, it was as if I had just been hit on by one of the men at my grandmother’s bingo social. I went back to my grandmother’s condo, interrupted her bridge game and proclaimed something I finally grasped at the tender age of twenty-three: there is no limit to men’s egos … they all think they have a chance! *

In New York, we all see Bernie at the bar - hitting on all the pretty young things and declaring that he’s not interested in dating anyone even remotely close to his own age. He’s hypercritical of women who he doesn’t care to even get to know, critiquing their every physical and personality trait while he is far from the perfect catch. Now, the guys are likely reading this Blog and saying “well this one’s not so bad, after all. It doesn’t even apply to me.” It does.

See, the problem is NO guy sees himself as Bernie at the Beach.

Ok, fine. Maybe the average male in NYC is closer to a “Pete at the Party.” Pete’s not looking to meet a girl half his age – he just wants a minimum of 5 to 8 years younger. Pete doesn’t look pregnant, but he’s definitely not in the great shape he was in college. He still has hair, damn it – though it’s not like it was and, ok, it’s receding quite a bit. Ok, and maybe graying. Oh, and the height issue – we’ll let’s just say height’s not his best selling asset. Men, even if you consider yourself “not bad looking” because you aren’t carrying around the beer belly your buddy Bob has, and you still have a good amount of hair, chances are high that you are the same level in looks as the girl you’re rejecting for being not attractive enough.

But fortunately for the men, most women care far less about a guy’s looks than they do about his ability to provide for the family they hope to have someday. By the way, did I mention that Pete has a decent job at such and such law firm/bank/[fill in the blank] which allows him a “fine” life in the city, but he ain’t making Crain’s 40 under 40 in this lifetime. To create a parallel to last week’s blog, like men, the women of New York also expect the best. You value looks and weight? Well, the women are just as discerning when it comes to the qualities that make them evaluate whether they consider YOU a suitor worthy of their time. We all know very well, this city is full of real estate moguls, private equity investors, and investment bankers with substantial salaries. Gentlemen, even if the numbers on the singles map are in your favor, know that you have some stiff competition. Now, it goes without saying, women value many other qualities in their potential partner besides the ability to provide (among other things, most women are looking for a man with a great sense of humor, who puts on a nice appearance, who is sensitive and thoughtful, etc.) but a man’s success in his career is certainly high up on the list for many worthwhile NYC femmes.

And once again, before the reader concludes that based upon the candid comments above, this is all about which guy has the most money, let’s be fair to “head-turner.” She doesn’t have to necessarily be driven solely by the prospect of meeting someone with loads of money/prestige/power, though these guys are hitting on her daily. She can hold out for Mr. Uber Successful who is also extremely attractive, smart, funny and nice because that’s who’s also hitting on her and she can get him. And, Lord knows, she’s trying.

That being said, Pete at the Party, who doesn’t necessarily make it to the top of the list in any aesthetic or financial category, is nevertheless fixated on asking out the hottest girl in sight -- the drop dead gorgeous girl every guy at the party is trying to ask out. The “head-turner.”** And because of this, he’s not “wasting” his limited time getting to know the many other wonderful ladies just an arm’s length away. No, he’s set his sights on the stunner by the Sangria.

Some may wonder, why doesn’t Pete hit on the girl he actually has a chance with?*** Because, any man will tell you, they all secretly want to end up with someone they consider slightly “out of their league.” The problem is that these men don’t realize that they’re not in the All Star line up but rather warming the bench in Double A. Triple A would be a step up.

Message to Pete: You’re not getting THAT girl. She’s not interested. Neither is her also hot, but maybe not quite as hot, friend. You're wasting your time and theirs. If you hit on the girl in your own league you’d be much happier and closer to getting want you really want in life.

If Pete spent the next few parties leaving the girls who want nothing to do with him alone, had realistic expectations about who he is going to end up with in life (this is NOT code for settling), and went straight to approaching the woman who is objectively attractive, sweet, smart and fun (but perhaps not the “head-turner”) he’d be in relationship bliss already (men, this is also great game theory. Think John Nash at the bar in a Beautiful Mind And isn’t that what Pete’s after anyway?

Pete doesn’t think he’s losing valuable time by not pursuing the girl who would likely to be his most compatible match? I have a bit of interesting information Pete can put in his pipe. Women are not the only ones who have to worry about age affecting their ability to have children (or to have children without genetic problems). I attach for my audience’s reading pleasure and edification.

If Pete were to start hitting on and pursuing the women who could be a real future partner for him, who will stick with him for better or worse, who will be a loving mother to his children, a best friend and someone who will still challenge him intellectually long after either of them can turn any heads – well, then, I’d say he’s getting the MVP.

Oh my, this is just the tip of the iceberg, there’s much more to come on this subject …

*As one friend said, I would love to buy that circus mirror these men have in their houses – you know, the one where you look insanely tall and slim and are far hotter than the model who just graced the cover of Shape Magazine.

** The head-turner, by the way, is not to be dismissed as attractive and nothing else. She is often the woman who is fantastic in a million other ways besides her great looks.

*** To be expected, one male friend has countered, why wouldn’t Pete hit on the girl way out of his league? What does he have to lose? Further expounding the virtues of this theory, my friend concludes if Pete hits on enough of these Major League beauties, at some point he’s bound to get lucky. Legend has it, it’s happened to Pete before. Sure, maybe Pete got the “drop dead gorgeous” girl one night when she drank too much wearing her D&G champagne goggles. Maybe he was the beneficiary of a few dates when “drop dead gorgeous” was frustrated by the guy she really wanted to be dating but who was giving her the run around and so turned to her sycophant to boost her ego. Or maybe Pete “got” her earlier in life before he became what we can now call “Pete at the Party.”

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Don’t Shoot The Messenger Part I: For The Women

Ok, this one’s gonna be personal. It’s a serious one, liable to result in all sorts of hate mail to the Sunday at Noon Blog coming from Anonymous-es everywhere. But I proceed nonetheless because - please know, ladies - this comes from a good place. It comes from the keen understanding that there is a need for someone to say it like it is and get the knowledge out there - because knowledge is power. And don’t worry, my female following, the next blog - “Don’t Shoot the Messenger Part II” - is directed squarely at the men. So here goes.

New York is a city where you can get the best of everything. Travel to pretty much any other city in the world and their best theater seems like your high school summer stock production in comparison to even New York’s off-off Broadway shows. We have the top hospitals here, the top law firms, we shop at the world’s best luxury stores, enjoy the benefit of having the leading stylists and salons in the world. We expect the best service at restaurants and anything less is not tolerated lightly. The point is: we’re spoiled. We expect the best because we can get it.

New York men are no different. They are looking for the girl who’s got it all because they can get it. She’s here in NYC, in spades. Like you, she’s really bright, went to great schools, she’s good at what she does, she’s fun, she has a great sense of humor, she’s sassy, and she is all around a great girl – and on top of all that, she’s gorgeous. You can’t stare at the blond, 5’9” Barbie doll look alike in this city and think smugly, she’s probably a cocktail waitress. Nope. She went to Yale and she’s a vice president at a private equity firm. This girl understands that to get the guy she wants she needs to make it to the gym and cut back on the grande mocha frappucinos.

So, ladies, in a city which sets the bar high, if you need to lose, say 20lbs, you are 20lbs away from getting the guys you want. A few jean sizes away from improving your dating life a hundredfold.

Now, if you are saying to yourself indignantly “I wouldn’t want to be with the guy who isn’t going to date me simply because I need to lose 20 lbs”, you’re wrong. You do. He’s the guy you are going for and he’s not interested. Rather, he is thinking after he meets you “great girl, I’m just not attracted…she’s just a little bigger than I am interested in.” Friendly reminder: the title of this blog is “Don’t Shoot The Messenger.”

Please know, I speak to single men every day about what they are looking for in a partner and I know what I’m talking about. I didn’t create the rules, ladies. But I know them and I am sharing them with you. And if you deny that these are the rules of engagement, you will continue to operate at a disadvantage and not get what you want. This is the reality of New York or the “Big City” we live in. Looks and being in shape carry a high value. If you’re thinking to yourself “it shouldn’t be that way” maybe you’re right. There shouldn’t be poverty or war either but, unfortunately, I tend to believe there always will be.

And no, you can’t chalk it up to the men being shallow. They are men. If they don’t want to sleep with you, it doesn’t matter how much you know about art, opera or sports or that you love X-Men and Family Guy, have traveled all over the world, speak several languages, play tennis or go to weekly wine tastings. If you are outside the realm of slim, these things are wonderful but irrelevant if the guys can’t get past that “do I want to see her naked” threshold. There are some universal truths and this is one of them …

And to be fair to the men, these men are not looking for size zeros or women who could be body doubles for Dancing with the Stars pros (ok, a few might be but that’s not who I’m talking about here). Nor are most men looking to be with the girl who looks like she hasn’t eaten in weeks and desperately needs to be fed. But they are looking for women who are objectively slim. If you’re describing yourself as “average build” in your online profile, the cold hard truth is you’re likely not an average build by New York standards. And even if you are, the vast majority of men are so extraordinarily attuned to the weight issue that I have been told by several men that if you are putting “average build” they will instantly move on to the next profile.

As one male friend bluntly put it: “If I show up on a blind date and the girl is not slim, it’s immediately over for me.” I know it might sound hard to believe, ladies, but this friend is not an [fill in the explicative]. He’s truly a good guy and he’s looking for something real. He’s just articulating what most other guys are in fact thinking.* Anyone familiar with on-line dating knows the lay of the land – most of the profiles written by the men that are in decent shape are very specific that they want a women in good shape and fit.** In fact, they’re adamant about it to a point you can tell they have encountered too many women who have simply not been honest about their body type (ah yes, the problem with on-line dating. And the men post pictures from when they had hair).

Ok, still thinking that these men of whom I write are shallow? Let’s think about many women’s criteria for a minute. Most women that I interview want to meet a guy who, among other things, is successful and has a good job. They want to meet someone who is financially secure and who is going to be able to provide for the family she hopes to have someday (yes, even if she does well herself). So, if you met a guy who explained on your first date that he was living with his parents, had a dead end job and had a ton of credit card debt would you be so keen on going on a second date with him? Doubtful. Even if this guy had a heart of gold. Does this make you a materialistic, shallow woman looking for a sugar daddy? We all know the answer to that one … (guys, if you’re reading this, it’s “no”).

What eludes most women who stick by the “someone should just love me exactly as I am” mentality is that they in fact have serious competition in this city. There are thousands more single women here than there are men.*** And these women are wonderful and offer the whole package (too bad many of the men in NY are not adept at appreciating them). As I stated at the beginning of this blog, knowledge is power. Feeling powerful and in charge tastes far better than flourless chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream ever could (though, that does sound pretty darn good…).

Summer is around the corner and it’s almost bathing suit time. Make yourself and your fitness a priority the next few weeks and boy you’re gonna draw all the eligible suitors you can handle!

Ok, next the men …

*Unfortunately, it doesn’t help to reason, “well I’m ok with the guy who needs to lose a few pounds too” as he is also holding out for the slim girl. Because he can.

**Men want to be with women who are well put together, live a healthy lifestyle and take pride in their appearance. As my same jerk/non-jerk friend articulated, sure, when men are just looking to have sex, they will hook up with women who don’t meet their physical criteria. But when they’re considering who’s going to be their lifelong partner, it’s a totally different ballgame.

*** Can’t say whether it’s 10 single women to every singe guy, but New York is certainly a mecca for the ambitious, single women. Check out this relatively recent article from the New York Observer --