Bachelor #1 is just so sensitive.
You can tell him anything, and he’ll hold your hand and empathize. You can watch chick flicks together, and he’ll hold the tissue box. He’ll do anything you want to do…
And you just don’t feel attracted to him. You can’t help it. There’s no spark.
Bachelor #2 is so rude.
He’s not the slightest bit interested in your feelings. He enjoys going out with you and doing fun stuff, but there’s no way he’s going to sit on a bench at the mall while you peruse endless racks of clothes. He’s got better things to do. He’ll eat a meal if you cook it, but he thinks candles are overkill. And he’s really keen on dragging you to the cinema to see the latest blood-soaked blockbuster.
You’re already imagining the wedding invitations.
Your mother can’t get it. “But the other boy was so nice!” she complains. “Why don’t you ever choose the nice ones?”
You can never explain it to her satisfaction. It’s not your fault, okay? You can’t help who you’re attracted to.
And that is actually quite a good explanation.
As women, we’re attracted to masculine men. It’s how we’re built.
Alpha males are just plain hot. And beta males are just … well, not.
Women have struggled with this dilemma since the dawn of time. Bad boys are irresistibly sexy, but they’re also seriously bad for you. So have a fling with the bad boy, but do give the nice boy a try. He’ll make a better father.
Fast forward. You’ve won the heart of Bachelor #2. The wedding invitations are in the mail. And you’re on the phone with your best girlfriend.
“I just don’t get it,” you tell her. “He’s so emotionally distant. I never know what’s he’s thinking. He won’t let me in. I try to draw him out, but he just gets annoyed. Like, yesterday, he even yelled at me, ‘Can’t I get any peace around here?” and grabbed his car keys and slammed the door and left. I don’t know what to do.”
“I hear you,” she says. And she does. She’s been in relationships with guys like that before, too. And she hasn’t had any better luck than you.
The very guys who win us over with their devil-may-care attitude turn into boyfriends or husbands who just don’t care.
At first, their insensitivity looks like strength. Insensitive guys are manly. Nothing soft about them. They’re beyond the point of caring what other people think of them. They’re in control. They’re powerful.
Which surely means there’s a gooey soft center inside that hard shell. The first girl who cracks it will earn his devotion for life.
That’s what lures us in.
We believe his insensitivity is just a façade. We truly believe, deep in our hearts, that all he needs is a woman’s kindness, patience, and love. Under our tutelage, he’ll get in touch with his own feelings again. He’ll transform into the ultimate romantic hero: tough to everyone else, and soft to the woman he loves.
I’m not going to tell you to give up the bad boy.
But you do need to know how to deal with his insensitivity, given that you might be stuck with it for life. Here are three tips.
1. Be tough.
You’ve got to be tough with a bad boy. You’ve got to lay down clear boundaries and make your expectations clear.
Bad boys will run all over starry-eyed girls, but they’ll respect the steely-eyed ones who make it clear they don’t put up with any nonsense. (Bad boys tend to adore their mothers, which tells you something.)
You may have to risk losing the relationship in order to win his respect. If he knows you’ll back down (because you love him too much to risk driving him away), then he’ll do whatever he likes.
So stay firm. Better to lose the relationship than stay with someone who’s got you under his thumb.
2. Don’t expect him to change.
A guy who was insensitive when you were dating isn’t going to transform into a tender, romantic husband who fulfills your every need even before you ask. He’s not going to wake up some day singing the praises of empathy and consideration. He is who he is.
So love him for who he is, and go elsewhere to top up your emotional support. No woman should be without a strong support network of friends and family. That network becomes even more important when you love a man genetically incapable of heart-to-hearts.
It’s okay if you feel like your best girlfriends understand you better than he ever could. He doesn’t have to understand everything about you in order to love everything about you.
3. Connect with him in other ways.
As much as we women love sharing secrets, talking all night, and learning what makes our loved ones tick, those aren’t the only ways to connect.
The bad boy doesn’t have to write you poems or dedicate a painting to you to show you that he loves you. He can show you in other ways.
Maybe he does thoughtful things for you around the house. Maybe he drags you out on weekends to partake in his favorite activities. Maybe he lets you know how much he physically desires you.
What matters is that he shows you he cares, not how he does it.
That’s going to have to be enough.
Life’s too short to waste it wishing he were a different kind of man. You chose this relationship, so learn to love it. Celebrate what he brings to your life: his sense of adventure, his spontaneity, his enthusiasm, his very maleness.
And if you need to vent about his insensitivity every now and again, your girlfriends are right there on the other end of the phone. Might not mention it to your mother, though. No point in letting her know she was right.