Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Are Men Regressing?

So my phone rang at 7:45 tonight.  It was the guy I thought I had a date with tonight (or last night).  I didn’t answer.

The message he left me was kinda funny.  He was upbeat and enthusiastic and said how much he was looking forward to our next date.  And he wanted to know if I was available tomorrow or Friday or Saturday and then rattled off a list of things we could do.

No mention of the fact that he’d texted and emailed a similar message last week and that we had tentative plans for “early this week”.  No apology for blowing me off, or flaking out.  He just acted like it never happened.

I wish I could say I’d never seen a guy do something like that before, but I have.  Many times.  He’s hoping I’ll give him a pass and overlook it.  Not say anything and just play along.  Because I like him so much or am so desperate to have a guy in my life.  Um, sorry.  No.

I haven’t replied.  I’m planning on sending him a polite no thank you email tomorrow.

And then, 15 minutes later I get a text from the guy I had the really awesome date with last week.  We still don’t have plans for our second date.  We’ve gone back and forth with several days/times, but keep coming up against scheduling problems.  He was texting just to say hi.  I thought it was sweet and replied with my one pleasantries.

Then, I got a text from him 20 minutes later.  He was locked out of his apartment.

So, I was supposed to do what?  Invite him over to my place?  Suggest we get together tonight (which I might have been up for, actually, if he just came out and said, “let’s get together tonight”)?  He asked what I was up to and I told him I was finishing a project.  Which was the truth.  We texted back and forth for a few minutes until I said I really needed to go focus.

So we left it that we’d talk and figure out a time to get together.

These are grown men.  Guys in their 40s.  Men who’ve travelled the world.  Started their own businesses.  And they’re acting like children.  And sadly I see this kind of stuff all the time.  What gives?


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22 to “Are Men Regressing?”


  1. Hypatia says:

    Yes, men are regressing… (Or maybe they were always this way… I think I’m probably too young to really know.)

    Ok, my theory? (And I’m the BIGGEST feminist there is, and this is totally going to sound anti-feminism, but bear with me…) Is that men don’t know what their role is since second-wave feminism. I don’t think that’s the FAULT of feminism as much as it is the fault of men who haven’t been able to create a NEW, more modern, role for themselves.

    I think in the past it was expected that men would “man-up,” become grown-ups, become responsible. And I think, for the most part, men–like those of my grandparent’s generation–did. (Yes, this left the women with crappy roles to fill– so, yippee! that we broke out of that mold!) But with women no longer “needing” men to be grown-ups, and doing grown-up things on their own— Like, traveling the world, having careers, buying houses, and having babies… etc. Some men got stuck in a perpetual state of limbo… never quite grown up, because there was no longer a road map to follow.

    Anyhoo– That’s my theory. I think you’re at a particularly crummy age-range for it actually, because I think that guys coming of age now– in their 20s– feel a little more comfortable with ambiguous gender roles than guys in the 38-50ish range.

  2. MissMollyMoo says:

    I have to say, I am really impressed with your ability to turn a guy down. It is something I have always struggled with, how to say “not interested” to a guy. I guess my thought process was “a boy likes me. who cares if he is not right/not nice/only wants ass, he likes me. and what if no other boy likes me, so I should at least give this one a shot.

    Then last week my theory changed. I dealt with a 26 year old who acted in the manor of a 16 year old. Apparently age does NOT equal maturity. I’m done giving guys a chance just because they’re male and interested.

    So thank you for your ability to say no. It’s what I need to do, or I will end up with the wrong guy.

  3. Simone Grant says:

    -Hypatia
    I’ve had this exact discussion before. A few times. And while I buy parts of it, I can’t go all the way with you.

    The reality is women have always worked – just not middle and upper class women. But working class and poor women have never “stayed home”. Not uniformly. My grandmother worked her whole life, in factories. And there were millions like her. Although (and here is where I’m going to embarrass myself by getting way too academic in a way that I hope you’ll appreciate) there is this hegemonic myth that’s been created for my generation that EVERYTHING changed with feminism and that women are now free to live how they chose and no longer need men. Whereas, any lack of freedom in the past was usually, a) economic for those who were working for their daily survival or b)really a short lived cultural phenomenon. The concept of the American Housewife who cooked and cleaned all day only existed for a few decades. It’s the overwhelming weight/ naivity of this myth and the way it was piped into homes via TV that’s caused more harm than any shift in cultural norms. Boys who grew up believing in “Leave it to Beaver” can’t get past the idea that they might actually have a partner who says more than ‘yes dear’ and have never learned to cope with the reality they’ve been presented with.

    OK – sorry about the tirade. I hope you can appreciate the silliness of it. Now back to our regularly scheduled fluff.

    -MissMollyMoo
    Oh don’t be too impressed. I still accept dates that I shouldn’t. It’s hard sometimes. But yeah, age does not equal maturity. I’ve dated enough 45 year old children to know that for sure.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There’s a really simple solution to this. On the first date, tell him you’re the kind of person who is a stickler for details. Not everyone is. In fact, based on this, some might describe you as clingy. If you’re going to get bent about this, what other tests are you going to set up for him?

    “Thoughtless” literally means “thought less” – as in he may not have thought about this as much as you. So when he says “early next week”, ask for a specific day.

    We are not mind readers.

  5. Simone Grant says:

    -Anonymous
    Are you serious? Clingy? I’m not all that sure I want to see the guy again but he seems so into it (contacting me 2x in a half hour) that I decide why not. And then he blows it off. Early next week means Monday or Tuesday to EVERYONE. All he needed to do was follow up. He forgot about it. Fine. And then instead of manning up and admitting that he forgot (being “thought less”) he called and pretended that he’d never asked me out for “early next week”. I’m not asking the guy to be a mind reader. I’m asking him to be an adult.

    As far as I see it I lucked out.

  6. drumdance says:

    Ok maybe not clingy, but previously you made this very explicit list of things you want in a man and I don’t recall this being on it. Think about LT relationships – each partner does stuff that’s slightly annoying to the other and they either 1) communicate and fix it or 2) deal with it. This isn’t even red flag stuff, like is he an alcoholic or a womanizer. It’s just overly picky IMO.

    And look at this assumption: “he called and pretended that he’d never asked me out for ‘early next week’” – has it occurred to you that he forgot? When I’m dating lots of women, like I did recently, I sometimes I forget what I told whom. For all you know he also told another girl “early next week” and actually did follow up and see her.

    Assumptions are toxic to relationships, especially in the early stages. Maybe he really is a tool, but you made an assumption and therefore, yes, expected him to read your mind.

    In the meantime, you’re using this little mistake to write the guy off completely. Meanwhile you piss and moan about how you have to fight the urge to see arrogant assholes. Who probably by nature are really good at remembering they told you “early next week.” Picky picky picky.

  7. PiscesInPurple says:

    drumdance: It’s not a “little mistake”.

    Simone, my response to your question: What gives? I. wish. I. knew.

  8. drumdance says:

    Pisces: prove it.

    All we’ve heard in this vignette is Simone’s side, and it’s loaded with assumptions. Words like “pretend,” “blowing me off,” “flaking out” and “acted like it never happened.”

    She may be right about all those things, but she never even asked him.

    And this post is supposed to be about maturity?

    The funny thing is, I had a girl treat me the same way just a couple weeks ago. I confronted her about it (nice) and she had a crush on another guy and was pursuing him at my expense. So yeah, she was a flake, but I got the facts before deciding that.

  9. PiscesInPurple says:

    My point is that whether or not it’s a big deal is in the eye of the beholder. So if Simone says it is, it is. Simple as that.

  10. drumdance says:

    And that’s my point as well. This is all from her perspective. You asserted it was more than a little mistake. In her frame it is, but comments are meant to allow other frames. My frame is that she’s overthinking it.

  11. drumdance says:

    Oh and BTW I speak from very recent personal experience about assumptions. I recently (as in two days ago) got back together with a girl I dated and split up with because I made some stupid assumptions about her relationship expectations. We talked about it, I realized I was wrong, and we agreed to get back together. Three cheers for actually asking instead of assuming.

    (My assumption was also a “big deal” in my frame.)

  12. Simone Grant says:

    -drumdance
    I went out with 3 guys last week and will probably see 4 different guys this week. I use the calendar in my computer to keep them all straight. Very unromantic, I know, but also mature and responsible. I wouldn’t want to make plans and then forget about them. That would be flaky and immature. I didn’t think to list that I’m looking for a guy capable of remembering the plans that he makes/acting like an adult. Seems like a given to me.
    Oh, and as to assumptions being toxic to relationships – I agree. But I don’t have a relationship with this guy. We have one OK date and he’s since asked me for a second date (multiple times). But I don’t date men who can’t get the simple stuff right.

    Piscies,
    You’re a doll, as always. Maybe one day we’ll both find the answer to ‘what gives’.

  13. drumdance says:

    I’m not here to defend the guy. I’m just pointing out the silliness of accusing him of “pretending” and “acting” and “flaking” and “blowing you off” without actually asking him. That’s also “simple stuff” that the rest of the world calls “communication.”

    There are a million reasons not to date someone. Fewer that are worth blogging about. This one feels like you’re reaching for the latter when all you really have is the former.

  14. Simone Grant says:

    -drumdance
    Um. I’m the only one who decides what is and isn’t worth my blogging about. I’d guess that most things I choose to write about aren’t “worth it” in somebody’s book but it’s what’s on my mind in relation to dating and so I write about it. People can choose to read or not to. It’s a big web.

    You feel I should have communicated with him more. Asked him what happened in regards to his prior invitation to go out. I disagree. I feel that something like that is kind of embarrassing, for both parties (I can’t even imagine the conversation, “you asked me to go on a date with you “early next week and then didn’t follow up…” No, I don’t think so.) And more than that, I would never want to be in a relationship with someone who needed me to do the following up for them. We’d be a complete mismatch.

  15. Hypatia says:

    Simone– I totally agree with everything you wrote up above. What I meant was less a “Yes dear, no dear” kind of relationship, and more the fact that everything was (unevenly) divided out along gender lines. There wasn’t any ambiguity about who called, or who asked someone out, or who had to make the money in the relationship to be the “responsible” one… etc. It was just generally assumed that the man would make decisions & be responsible. …. (And yes, this did not always work, and led to abuses of power, and a host of other problems.)

    But, I think those expectations on men are now gone. Just as expectations on women are now gone. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I think that’s a great thing. But I think that men don’t feel “liberated” by those new possibilities the way that women do… I think they just feel lost. And so the regress.

  16. drumdance says:

    Ok last comment and I’ll stop beating a dead horse.

    Of course you can decide what to blog. And commenters can decide what to comment. Deal?

    My issue is that you used this anecdote to make a statement about men in general (or at least a subset), and I’m not convinced the anecdote really illustrates anything.

    Re: how to ask without being embarrassing, just make it casual. “What happened to early this week? I thought we had a deal.” if you say it in a semi-joking manner (as opposed to challenging), you’ll probably get an honest answer. Maybe he really did flake. He won’t answer it that way, but he’ll give you much more information than you have now.

    The art of conversation isn’t just about being charming, it’s also about getting qualify information that helps you to make better decisions. Good salespeople know this. (Most salespeople, and people in general, suck at conversation.)

  17. Simone Grant says:

    -drumdance
    I think the big problem here is that you and I are working from different assumptions. I really didn’t know if I wanted to go out with this guy again. I was leaning towards no. It was only because of his enthusiasm and “charm” that I said yes. And then I got turned off again (and there were already many things that turned me off about him) when this happened. Whatever happened, it turned me off. And I don’t/didn’t care enough to inquire further. Am I being too picky about guys? Maybe. Or maybe I should have said to the date in the first place and this is the universe telling me to go with my gut.

  18. Simone Grant says:

    oh sorry (really need more coffee, late night) Hypatia, I see where you are going with this. And I understand your reasoning. If that’s a way to make sense of it, OK. I had long talk last night with a guy my age about how so many guys never learned how to appropriately interact with women when they were young and how THAT was the answer to so many of the issues I’m having with men. I don’t know. I just find it bizarre and almost frightening.

  19. drumdance says:

    For me, at least, I don’t think it has to do with learning how to interact per se. It’s more that there are women who definitely prefer one way over the other. There are some who have no problem, say, going dutch on a date and others who feel the men should always pay (or at least that the fact that he didn’t offer to pay must “mean” something). Trying to figure that out can be confusing.

    Also, I dated a hardcore feminist in m twenties and found my assumptions constantly challenged. It took me a while after that to realize she was an outlier. (And she’s toned it down quite a bit as she’s aged.)

    I later dated married from China, where it’s customary for men to pay for everything. But contrary to what you might think, aside from that cultural difference Chinese women are very independent and generally on a par with men there.

  20. Anonymous says:

    this post is exactly why guys in their 30s and 40s like younger women … With older women it just seems like every little slight gets turned into an angry rant about how All Men Suck. Talk about your bitter and jaded. As a guy it is just unpleasant to listen to. And for the life of me I don’t understand what Guy No. 2 did that was so immature. He texted you that he was locked out of his apartment, so what?? Yeah what Guy No. 1 did is a little lame, but it is not like you even had set a particular date to meet (just “early next week.”).

  21. Simone Grant says:

    Wow, I just took a look at the comment count and realized that I want to twist this into a second post. I so appreciate everyone’s input, even where we differ (strongly) in opinion (although I can live w/o the nastiness, esp if you need to be anonymous to say it). Today is Friday, though, which means that I am posting a list post (I try to stick to my editorial schedule, I guess if you wanted to you could pick at that and say I’m being rigid).

    So, anyway, I’ll be posting my “response” post tomorrow.

  22. LPS says:

    Wow! A lot of comments here, and then I’m going back to reading the 2nd post written back as a result of all this. Everyone has their 2 cents worth, which is cool. It’s what the blog forum is all about.

    My comment: Simone, you went with your gut and maybe you should have elucidated further in the original blog as to why you weren’t overly keen on the guy to begin with. But I do understand what put you off about dude numero uno. If you really clicked, you would have answered the phone to begin with, and come right out with a jokey comment like “Hey, what happened to you?”

    As you weren’t so keen on him, the whole episode just annoyed you! We’re all allowed to have a gripe over such things.

    As for numero duo… yeah. I can see how that would have miffed you. Sure, he locked himself out, but it’s quite coincidental he locked himself out while texting to you. Sounds like he wanted some booty and he was too proud of being rejected to come right out and say it. It was this lack of confidence that annoyed you. The agenda behind it – if I am guessing what happened correctly – came across as sly. Not your type of dude.

    Again, if you really liked him, you would have either invited him over or met him halfway, while he waited for a locksmith or a buddy to bring a spare set of keys (if he, indeed, was really locked out).

    Poor bloke, here am I being overly suspicious about his absent-mindeness! I’ll probably lock myself out tomorrow, while I’m texting a guy! Lol!

    But I know your gut told you where to go on this. The heart and the mind compute things in different, & often, inexplicable ways.

    Hope this helps! Off to read the 2nd installment on this.