zack reynolds

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The Problem of the Heart-Stealers

Problem
(thanks to Amber for posing this question)

What is to be said of the modesty of the gentlemen’s demeanor? I dare say that I have been witness to multiple men who encroach upon certain emotional depths and steal away with said lady's heart by such means as the aforementioned demeanor.

Solution
First off...recognize and affirm girls who are ladylike. Encourage them to be ladylike.

Many girls get discouraged because they are trying to be ladylike and not attract attention, but yet, they still want to be appreciated for their efforts. Thank girls for being ladylike and modest—but don’t flirt (um...yeah...don’t ask me how I know... ). And some of that comes with just having an open, honest, relationship. I am much more free to compliment girls on being ladylike without them thinking I’m flirting with them in an open relationship.

On that note, I wouldn’t advise going up to random girls and saying, “Thank you for acting like a lady. I really appreciate it.” (or else you might find that proverbial irate father’s fist rather too close for comfort... ), although it can be a very good idea, and I would highly recommend doing so if you can.

Now the reason I said to affirm women who are being ladylike is because part of being ladylike is not putting oneself forward, and in general, girls who are being ladylike are not noticed and appreciated for being so. In other words...men need to initiate. Am I saying that women shouldn’t start conversations? Certainly not. But part of being a lady is having some degree of reticence.

Men need to take the initiative so ladies can be ladies! If we don’t take the lead, the ladies get frustrated! If we don’t initiate, the result will be that some girls will be more bold and initiate, whereas other girls will just retreat.

In either case, we’re not fulfilling our role as gentlemen.

To fulfill our role, there is some degree of being forward we need to have. What is often referred to as “forward” or “froward” in girls is actually something that many guys lack, and that is leadership and taking the lead in relationships...oops, did I just say the “r” word?

Now, what about our manner (or manners)? Do we flirt or create expectations in girls by our actions and words?

Let me tell you...girls are emotional. They read into our actions and words, perhaps more than we intended—and this is exactly why I highly recommend open and honest communication. So often we think we are clearly communicating our non-romantic intentions—but that message doesn’t always come across.

For example, if you are friendly to one particular girl, and go talk with her for a couple hours, she might get a message. And it probably reads loud and clear, “INTERESTED!” And the real bummer is that you won’t know that she just got that message.

Don't assume that your actions make it clear what your intentions are. Back those actions up with words.

Now that’s the trouble with going up to a random girl. I would hope in a deeper relationship that you are open and honest regarding your intentions. For example, in all my deeper friendships with girls, I’ve told each one of them that I wasn’t using the relationship as a means to “check them out” or pursue them. Does a simple statement like that fix all problems? By no means. Relationships generally don’t have a one-time fix. A relationship, if it is alive, is constantly changing and growing and shifting—perhaps at times the change isn’t noticeable, but it does happen.

So you need to reaffirm your statement. I mean...when you’re married, do you only say “I love you” once, and then never worry about it again? No, no! You repeat it...why? Not because you stopped loving them, but to reaffirm that love.

It’s the same way with other relationships—save, of course, that it generally isn’t wise to say “I love you” to just any girl—even if she is a friend and knows what you really meant to say.

But it is often wise to reaffirm your non-romantic intentions—and make sure your actions back up your words. Actions do speak louder than words, you know, and while you may be speaking in a normal voice, your actions are yelling something else.

And it's a good idea to remember that not all girls think like you do as far as what communicates romantic attentions. Respect their beliefs if they truly believe talking to guys is a bad or inappropriate thing.

So what about talking one-on-one with a girl? Again...guys need to take the initiative in the relationship. Be wary lest you give the wrong impression, but yet on the other hand, do initiate conversations. Don’t let your fear of creating the wrong impression scare you off entirely.

But…be careful about trying to force girls to open up to you. Relationships are built on trust. Are you trustworthy? Trust in this sense is meant in more than one way. But primarily, we’re looking at treating her 1) like a lady, and 2) not creating expectations that won’t be fulfilled.

Does this mean if she gets a crush on you that you’ve failed in life? No, no, certainly not. To some degree, crushes are just going to happen. Some people get crushes on other people just by looking at them (sad, I know, but also true). And if you actually talk to them...well, just recognize as a sad, but true fact. Crushes are going to happen. The idea is to work through crushes, not to ignore or avoid them.

Or what about emotional attachments? Ah…this is a tricky area. For there is more than one type of emotional attachment. And everyone forms emotional attachments on some level.

But what people generally mean by “emotional attachment” is actually “romantic emotional attachment,” which is a thing of a totally different caliber. And it is one of those things that is dealt with by honest, open communications, IMHO.

And there can be good kinds of emotional attachment. If you are truly friends with someone, you share an emotional bond. Is that a bad thing in a guy/girl relationship? Not necessarily. In fact, I would say that a friendly emotional bond can be extremely beneficial and rewarding.

I've learned a lot through talking to my female friends. I encouraged open communication, and thus I have learned about things I do that at the very least, make people raise their eyebrows, if not downright irritate them.

I've also learned to be gentler with the ladies. Handle them with care, guys! Like it or not, believe it or not, want it or not, girls ARE fragile. Mentally picture every girl with the label, "Fragile; Handle Carefully."

And so…treat women with respect. Treat them like ladies.

____

Addendum

There is something called prying/being nosy/being rude/unwelcome intrusions. And...it's not a good thing.

Just because we can talk to girls doesn't mean we can give them the "Tell-Me-All-About-You" drill, or play the 20 questions game.

First off, we're expecting openness and honesty that the level of trust doesn't warrant.

And second, it's just plain rude--and ungentlemanly--to force an unpleasant situation on the girl, who may not want to answer, but feel like she has to out of politeness. It's very rude and ungentlemanly to force yourself on someone like this and make them very uncomfortable.

And about trust. Relationships are all about trust. Trust is not something we deserve and automatically get. Trust is something we have to build. Don't expect people to tell you all about themselves if they don't trust you. And don't expect them to just answer any question you throw at them, either.

I've slowly been learning to temper questions that may be uncomfortable with a, "You don't have to answer that if you don't want."

I also keep a close eye on comfort level. If she appears uncomfortable, I leave off. Now, if she's a good friend, I might try to discern why she's uncomfortable, but I have discovered that it's generally not a good idea to press the issue.

For you see, being a gentleman is not just about your conduct, but about how others perceive your conduct. In other words...you may think you're acting like a gentleman by kissing girls' hands, when, in fact, that might be very offensive.

You have to adapt to the lady's comfort level. Some girls don't feel comfortable chatting with strange guys. Don't blindly step on that comfort zone. Be aware of it, and respect it.

Some girls aren't comfortable with pms or emails or phone calls from guys. Respect that.

Work within their comfort zone, and--AND--don't take advantage of them. DON'T take advantage of them. Maybe she thinks pms are fine. Don't flood her with pms unless you know she doesn't mind.

And I don't mean the "Well, I guess she's fine with it. She hasn't said anything." kind of know.

That is one of the questions you should ask. Ask her if you make her uncomfortable. Ask her if you press her too much. And if she has trouble answering the question, you know the answer if yes.

Okay, you say, what about the girls who just don't say ANYTHING? They don't ever reply to my emails or pms. What then?

My code in dancing, and I think it applies to real life, is that if you ask a girl to dance, she has the right to say no with no explanation. I think it's the first unalienable right of women.

In other words...women have the right to refuse to talk to men. And in some cases, this might be a non-answer. Some girls find it easier just to not answer rather than write back and actually say, "No, I don't pm guys, sorry."--besides the fact that they might think it wrong to reply in the first place.

What to do? Respect that.

Perhaps the cardinal rule of being a gentleman is: Respect women.


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