The Ugly Truth

The lat­est in­car­na­tion of re­la­tion­ship blog­gers won’t tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to hear – and is more likely to be wear­ing Cons than Mano­los while they do it, says Lisa O’Brien. O’Bri

CLEO (Malaysia) - - SMART REPORT -

First up: a con­fes­sion. When I started re­search­ing this story, my at­ti­tude could best be de­scribed as ‘pfft’. What could any of these dudes teach me about dat­ing that I didn’t al­ready know? Come on, I work in mags, have had re­la­tion­ships span­ning ev­ery­thing from six min­utes to six years, and can quote most Sex And The City episodes word for word – I am pretty much Car­rie Brad­shaw (mi­nus the neu­roses and ridicu­lous shoe­drobe).

But then I read one of these blogs. And another. And another. All of a sud­den I wasn’t feel­ing so con­fi­dent about my knowl­edge of the male species. Posts about why men stop calling cut par­tic­u­larly close to the bone, as the guy I’d been see­ing had re­cently done a dis­ap­pear­ing act. While my friends re­as­sured me, “He’s prob­a­bly just been re­ally busy,” An­drew from US blog The Rules Re­vis­ited (therulesre­vis­ited.com) had

Tales From The Males

Wel­come to the no-BS world of re­la­tion­ship blog­ging in 2014. This isn’t guys writ­ing for guys à la Neil Strauss in best-sell­ing book The Game or girls writ­ing just for girls like Ellen Fein

and Sher­rie Schneider in dat­ing bi­ble

The Rules. This is guys writ­ing for girls, pass­ing on all the things they wish they could tell us but never have… un­til now.

“I’ve dated count­less women and it has al­ways amazed me how lit­tle they know about men,” starts the in­tro to An­drew’s blog. “If noth­ing else, this blog is an out­let for voic­ing my as­ton­ish­ment at the typ­i­cal fe­male’s ig­no­rance of the male mind­set. At most, it is a re­li­able source of in­for­ma­tion for women who want to im­prove their chances with the op­po­site sex.”

An­drew’s not the only one tak­ing this rather, err, blunt path. For those of us who’ve grown up on a steady diet of Car­rie’s con­tem­pla­tive mus­ings, it’s a bit of a shock to dis­cover that the new catch­phrase du jour for re­la­tion­ship ad­vice is more likely to be “DTMFA” (“Dump the moth­erf*cker, al­ready”) than “I couldn’t help but won­der…”. DTMFA is courtesy of US re­la­tion­ship colum­nist Dan Sav­age, who has been dis­pens­ing no-non­sense ad­vice for the past eight years in Sav­age Love (thes­tranger.com), his col­umn for a Seat­tle news­pa­per that at­tracts thou­sands of read­ers each week. “Fre­quency is not a prob­lem that im­proves with time… You know what else doesn’t im­prove with time? Ass­holery,” he told one reader re­cently who asked about mis­matched li­bidos. And when another, whose boyfriend wouldn’t agree to an STI test be­fore they stopped us­ing con­doms, asked, “What do you say to some­one who con­flates a re­quest for STI test­ing with a lack of trust?”, Dan’s re­sponse was sim­ple: “Bye.”

While Sav­age’s col­umn isn’t writ­ten ex­clu­sively for women, he was one of the first to adopt this no-holds-barred take on re­la­tion­ships that has since been repli­cated by count­less oth­ers. Far from putting peo­ple off, An­drew says most of his read­ers ac­tu­ally re­spond pos­i­tively to his frank ap­proach.

“I’ve never re­ceived a sin­gle com­plaint about the tone of the blog be­ing too harsh or too blunt, but I’ve re­ceived hun­dreds of emails from read­ers ex­press­ing their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the blunt­ness specif­i­cally,” the 29-year-old blog­ger tells CLEO Aus­tralia. “I do get a lot of read­ers telling me they were ini­tially shocked or turned off by the blog, but they say they were in­trigued. So they con­tin­ued [read­ing] un­til fi­nally they re­alised that they agreed – at least with most things. And this is good, be­cause it’s ex­actly the type of re­ac­tion you ex­pect when you’re giv­ing ad­vice that’s some­what counter-cul­tural, yet true.”

Is Hon­esty The Best Pol­icy?

Ac­cord­ing to the ex­perts, one of the rea­sons these blogs are tak­ing the place of Ryan Gosling memes on RSS feeds ev­ery­where is women are tired of deal­ing with dat­ing and re­la­tion­ship ad­vice that’s lit­tered with mixed mes­sages and in­flu­enced by ul­te­rior mo­tives. “Women to­day are ab­so­lutely starved of hon­esty,” An­drew ex­plains. “Less at­trac­tive women are con­stantly told that in­ner beauty is all that mat­ters – yet their ex­pe­ri­ence tells them ex­actly the op­po­site – while more at­trac­tive women are plagued by the in­se­cu­rity of men try­ing to get them into bed, or be­ing trans­par­ently nice to them just be­cause they’re pretty. If a girl asks a male friend for dat­ing ad­vice, she knows it is li­able to be skewed by his at­trac­tion to her, and her girl­friends can some­times be too nice, or even jeal­ous.” If it’s just a mat­ter of be­ing hon­est, though, why do we need guys to tell us the truth? Why can’t we just man up, so to speak, and give it to each other straight? It may be be­cause of dif­fer­ences in how men and women share ad­vice and cop­ing strate­gies. “Re­search sug­gests women of­ten turn first to emo­tion-fo­cused cop­ing,” ex­plains psy­chol­o­gist Dr Joann Lukins from Peak Per­for­mance Psy­chol­ogy. “So if a friend is telling us about her break-up, a fe­male friend may spend time ask­ing her, ‘How are you feel­ing? What did you feel when he said that to you? Did that up­set you?’ A male friend is more likely to travel down the prob­lem-fo­cused ad­vice line: ‘What will you do next? Do you need help mov­ing your stuff out? Are you sleep­ing?’” But this fe­male fo­cus on emo­tions and feel­ings (cou­pled with our love of a chat over a vino or three) could be hold­ing us back. “Women are much more in­ter­ac­tive, so­cial and emo­tional thinkers, so they bounce ideas or sit­u­a­tions off a num­ber of dif­fer­ent friends be­fore draw­ing any con­clu­sions,” says An­drew. “This gives women this in­cred­i­ble abil­ity to cap­ture the big pic­ture and keep all of the var­i­ous as­pects of a re­la­tion­ship in the proper per­spec­tive, but I think they some­times lack the depth of in­sight into spe­cific prob­lems that’s needed to re­ally fix what’s wrong. So a woman might have 17 dis­cus­sions with var­i­ous friends about her dat­ing life, and learn valu­able things in the process, but never pin­point that it’s her OTT per­fume turn­ing men off, or her liv­ing sit­u­a­tion that is pre­vent­ing her from meet­ing new guys.”

Some­times, The Truth Hurts…

I’ve gotta say, while this kind of bru­tal hon­esty from An­drew’s blog dealt a (big) blow to my ego ini­tially, it also saved a lot of hours over­analysing the sit­u­a­tion with my friends and thus sped up the process of get­ting over The-Douchebag-For­merly-Known-As-Nick. Why spend time driv­ing your­self crazy with “what ifs” and “if onlys” when you could be swip­ing right on that hot­tie on Tin­der or chat­ting to the sexy suit at the bar? Just make sure you don a hard hat be­fore read­ing.

Women think they know, but they have no idea!

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