I am a traveling salesman and it takes me a little over two weeks to cover my route. Each of my trips means living in hotels, and eating meals in restaurants. A long time back, my wife and I decided to have a committed relationship, and so far, I have not succumbed to the temptation of good looking, willing ladies. So during these trips, I spend most my non-business hours by myself.
My end-of-the-day routine is a visit to the hotel gym, a shower, and dinner. This is usually followed by a visit to the hotel lounge for a nightcap or two. As a longtime, regular customer of my hotels, I’ve become friends with a few of the hotels’ staff; mostly the waitresses who take care of me in the restaurants, and those who take my drink orders in the lounges.
During this trip, I was following my regular routine. After a relaxing meal, I headed for the hotel lounge. I had just seated myself at a table, when three young women sat down in a nearby booth. I could see black streaks on one woman’s cheeks from the tears that had destroyed her mascara and eyeliner. I don’t think they noticed me sitting within hearing distance of their booth. Not noticing me was somewhat unusual; since the four of us were the only customers in the lounge. Considering what they discussed, I thought they would want privacy; or maybe, they just didn’t care.
The tear-streaked woman was Amy something or other, and she was ranting about her husband Bob having an extramarital affair with some bimbo. During the ensuing argument, she learned he had been involved with other women on several occasions during their marriage.
Earlier today, Amy filed for a divorce. Now, her two friends were trying to be supportive of her. It was the usual dribble about her being blameless. It was all his fault. I knew they were going to start it, and as I expected, I heard them voicing the standard ‘male bashing’ statements that women always seem to make about how rotten men are to women.
‘Male bashing’ really pisses me off!
If you stop and think about statements like ‘all men are ...’ and ‘the only thing men ever think about is sex’, it is self-evident that the statements are not true. When I hear that type of all-inclusive and exclusive statements about men, I get angry. To be truthful, I know the statements are true of some men, but not all men.
I’m not like that, and most of my friends aren’t like that. I’m tired of women lumping me and other men who have good relationships with their women into a group with the overgrown little boys who can’t spell relationship, much less create one.
I could not keep from overhearing their comments. I tried to tune them out, but after a minute or so, I gave up. There was no way that I could tune out three women loudly engaged in ‘male bashing’ who were less than twenty feet away.
While trying to tune these women out, a cocktail waitress appeared beside me, and asked, “Can I get you something to drink, Hal?”
The three ladies’ comments had destroyed the good mood I was in when I’d first sat down. I was scowling when I looked up, and saw that it was one of my favorite ladies: Doris. I had been staying at this hotel for close to two years, when I was in town; Doris seemed to be a permanent fixture. We had chatted on several occasions and had become casual friends. We usually talked about how our day had gone and almost never mentioned our personal lives.
“Yes, Doris, I would like my usual tonight, but make the first one a double. I will need it to endure the usual Sisterhood rhetoric,” I said, with a wave at the booth.
Leaving my table, Doris stopped and took the three ladies’ drink orders before heading to the bar to get our drinks. On the way back, she dropped off the ladies’ drinks before bring me mine.
Since there was no one else in the lounge, she sat down at my table.
“Okay, Hal, what’s wrong? It’s not like you to come down on other people.”
“I’m sorry, Doris. I shouldn’t have dumped on you like that. It’s just that I get angry with women who indulge themselves in ‘male bashing’. It’s a pet peeve of mine, and I just can’t seem to control it. Although, I should say, I can’t control my thoughts and mouth. When I’m that irritated, I sometimes forget to engage my brain, before I put my mouth in motion.”
“Ah, that’s okay, Hal. Amy and her two friends are semi-regulars here, and I have gotten to know them fairly well. I can understand your feelings about ‘male bashing’, but you need to understand that her husband’s infidelities destroyed their relationship. He’s responsible for their breakup, and she is really hurt by his actions.”
“I have to disagree with you, Doris.
“I agree that learning of her husband’s infidelities was undoubtedly the ‘last straw’, and that knowledge ended their relationship. However, if I were to apportion blame for their relationship’s failure, I would say it’s likely close to 50-50. If I knew more about the two of them, I would probably divide that a little differently, but generally, both parties in a relationship failure are almost equally to blame.
“Listen to what her friends are telling her. They mean well, but they are just perpetuating the problem.”
“What do you mean by that, Hal? Everything they are saying about her husband is true.”
“Yes, I know Amy is probably telling the truth, as she sees it, and her friends are being sympathetic and supportive.
“The other side of the coin is her husband is probably sitting in a bar with his friends. He is telling them what a cold bitch she turned into, once they were married. His justification for his relationships with other women is likely, ‘she pushed him away, and he had no choice but to seek out other women’. His friends are probably being sympathetic and supportive of him, also. I suspect they are making similar comments about women. To me ‘woman bashing’ is just as bad as ‘male bashing’.
“The reason these three women, Amy’s husband, and his friends are wrong about who is responsible for the destruction of the relationship is, they are only looking at the end of the relationship. The actual cause of the relationship’s problems happened much earlier in the relationship; so they are all missing it.”
“But, Amy and her husband were happy together. They didn’t have any problems, until she found out about his cheating.”
“Oh! ... Doris, if they were so happy, why did he feel the need to chase other women? Were they really happy, or did it just seem that way to you, an outsider. Most marriages have problems, and we don’t know what their life was like in the privacy of their home. We only know what Amy chooses to tell us, and I doubt we are getting the whole story from her. Besides, most people present things in a way that makes them look blameless, and they rarely talk about the problems caused by their mistakes.
“Doris, ... almost every relationship failure, be it boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife, is caused by the same basic reason. Do you know what that reason is?”
“No, but it seems unlikely to me that there can be a single reason for all relationship failures.”
“Not all failures, Doris, just most of them.
“Think about a man and woman when they first meet. He finds her of interest and she finds him of interest. That’s when they make their fatal mistake. They start assessing each other using the wrong selection criteria. ‘Wrong’ may not be the best word. Perhaps, poor or improper would be better; however, ‘wrong’ really says it all for me.
“The man usually claims he is interested in having a relationship with the woman, when he is actually looking for a one-night stand. He selects the woman based on her physical charms. You know: a nice figure, pretty face, and big boobs. However, if it is close to closing time, he may not be that selective.
“The woman, usually accompanied by one or more friends, says she and her friends are just out to have a bit of fun. Each of the women is actually looking for a strong, dominate man who can provide for them, and any children they may have. She selects her man based on how the man makes her feel. I’m not sure if that feeling is caused by the man projecting physical dominance, or implied danger, but women seem to be attracted to the athletic types and bad boys.
“As they get to know more about each other, each of them sees and ignores the little signs that the other person is not what they seem to be, and not right for them. Far too soon, they both decide to add sex to their budding romance. The physical intimacy further clouds rational thought. Finally, they each decide they found the ideal mate; they know enough about the other person to get married.
“As we both know, Doris, before a couple marries, each of them is trying to impress their partner; they are each sort of putting their best foot forward, while trying to mask all of their negative personality traits. Once married, each of them starts to relax and their true personalities start to come to the forefront.
“Over the next few years, the image they projected crumbles, and they each see the real person they married. That is when relationship problems usually start, and the problems are usually handled poorly. The end result is the relationship goes down the drain. They may stay together, but they are no longer a close, loving couple. The truly ridiculous part of the whole mess is they both claim – it’s not my fault.
“When you want to form a strong, lasting relationship with a man, Doris, what do you use as your selection criteria?”