Single Dudes

Note: The following unsolicited advice is intended for men who desire to be with a woman and also be honorable. If that’s not really your thing, your mileage may vary.

I see you. At work. At church. You’re downtown. The local University is teeming with you. And I’ve seen your attempts at moving into relationship with women. Sometimes, women I know. You seem like you’re really trying, but you also seem pretty bewildered.

One point of clarification: if your goal is to meet and hang out with lots of women and participate in super-fun activities with them, I think you’re doing a good job. If you like the fact that over time, you build a reputation for being nice enough, but also tone-deaf and weak and non-committal, then by all means continue. But in a small town like this one, I fear you’re eroding the likelihood of finding one meaningful, sustainable relationship—the sort of relationship that could potentially turn you into a man.

Romance-wise, you seem caught between two options: Lots of shallow, anemic relationships with women in your community or sporadic, sudden and very deep relationships that have nowhere to go. Those are lousy options. As I’ve lived among you, I’ve come to believe that—in most cases—you have good hearts, but perhaps you’ve been tricked by three lies about women. These lies are told everywhere. Most confusingly, by some of the women you’re pursuing. Stop for a minute. Think honestly about past missteps. Here’s why:

Lie #1: You think you’re the same.

Even if you have tons of stuff in common and, on paper, want all the same things, I promise you’re processing the relationship differently. The woman you’re after is not the same as other women. Don’t ask other women for advice and think it’s formulaic. She’s also nothing like other women you’ve dated. That’s obvious. But, here’s the harder thing, Mr. Blindspot: you’re also not the same. You’ve changed since high school. Hell, you’ve changed since breakfast. Try to move toward who you should be and celebrate how different that is from who she is becoming. You’re not growing apart, you’re just growing. Diversity is good. Difference is good.

Become a student of how incredibly unique she is.

Lie #2. You think you‘re just friends.

If you have a meaningful relationship with a woman that you’re characterizing as friendship, one of two things is absolutely true: you have hidden feelings for her, or she has hidden feelings for you. Those feelings would like to go beyond friendship. Every time. That’s just how it works: Interest leads to knowledge. Knowledge leads to affection. Affection leads to reliance. Reliance leads to intimacy.

Stop cultivating deep friendships with single women if you’re not prepared to (quickly) grow that relationship as your sole jam. This will make you feel lonely. This will leave an empty place in your life. That’s by design—deal with it.

Lie #3: You think it won’t matter.

Because of Lies #1 and #2, you’ve come to believe that these women are very much like your bros, but way better. They’re more thoughtful. More intuitive. They make you feel good about yourself. They attend to you and make time for you and really seem to want you around. But you’re squandering it. Over and over again. Both of you are being formed constantly by everyone around you. By everything you’re reading and eating and thinking. Hear this: Your posture toward her is leaving indelible marks. Every tiny gesture. It matters if you wait and text her back tomorrow. It matters if you invite other people to come along. The words you choose and the way you say them matters. A lot.

Take her—and your responsibility in her flourishing—seriously. Seriously.

A strong drink for any single dude who wants to engage me on this stuff . Come ready.

Agrarian designer from Virginia.

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