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Is Ryan Gosling real?

You know how Ryan Gosling doesn’t exist?

I’m serious. He’s not a real person. I mean, sure, he occupies a corporeal form and is a great actor, but the guy from the memes, the one who wears sweaters made out of boyfriend material and who acknowledges that gender is a social construct but that everyone likes to cuddle and who breaks up fights on New York streets (oh wait that last one’s TRUE)? He is a figment of heterosexual female imagination, born of sheer desperate longing. There is (almost) nothing wrong with this. The only thing wrong with this is that real men are not at all like Ryan Gosling the Dreamboat. That’s why we had to invent him. Because he doesn’t exist.

EXCEPT HE DOES. He is a real person but his name is not Ryan Gosling.

His name is – get this – Rory. HOW CAN ANYONE EVEN HAVE THAT NAME? Rory is a real person with a preternaturally adorable name. We just have to deal with it and move on.

Rory is currently in the process of sweeping my friend off her twitter-pated feet. She is both embarrassed and ecstatic to tell us about Rory because she’s afraid of rubbing our noses in it. He is basically perfect. Let me paint a very shallow picture.

First, we’ve seen his picture. He’s a hottie with a body. Enough said.

Second, he’s a doctor. He saves human lives for money. If Rory were trying to fulfill a perfect man stereotype, so far he’s 2/2.

Third, he met my friend at a church dinner and politely asked her on a date. Since their first, he has continued to ask her on weekly dates, even though he only has one day off a week.

On these dates, Rory pays without hesitation. Gender roles and icky money stuff aside, this means that my friend never has to wonder if what they are doing is actually dating.

Their dates comprise EVERYTHING THAT TICKLES MY FRIEND’S FANCY: classic films, indie bookstores, Italian restaurants. They magically have the same interests and Rory is even more excited about everything than my friend is.

On top of that, Rory moves slowly. Eventually, on like their fourth date, my friend asked if she could hold his hand – and out spilled Rory’s history.

Turns out, that history is pure as the driven snow. He’s never had a relationship before, he was nervous, but he really likes my friend and wondered if she’d be his girlfriend? My friend said yes, of course, and they wandered blissfully hand-in-hand through falling leaves like lovesick yearling fawns.

Ryan Gosling doesn’t exist. But Rory does.

I hope that at least some of you were fighting your gag reflex while reading this. But Rory’s existence begs the question: What do we do with a guy like this? Is he setting the bar too high? Are these realistic expectations to have for someone we date? Which of Rory’s qualities are actually important ones?

When Not to Say I Love You*

  1. When you’re drunk
  2. In the middle of sex
  3. At dinner when you’re meeting their parents for the first time
  4. When you’re saying goodbye on the phone and hang up before they can respond
  5. When they’re breaking up with you
  6. After a fight about your ex
  7. When you don’t mean it

These may or may not be based on first-hand experience…

*for the first time

Why Won’t She Sleep With Me!? On Sluttiness (Part II of II)

This is a question men ask a lot, usually about specific women. While I can’t speak for the women in your life (although, the answer is probably just she doesn’t want to. Move on), I do want to tackle this question from the perspective of women who refuse casual hook-ups with randoms or acquaintances more often than not. Women won’t sleep with you in this context for a couple reasons, fellas.

1. You (usually) call us sluts afterwards.

I’m not saying you wake up and insult your partner to her face, but you don’t have to. Society does it for you, and you’re a part of that. Women get the sharp and ugly end of the double-edged standard here, to mix a couple metaphors. We all know that men who sleep around are studs and players (even the word “player” has a positive connotation if applied to a dude by other dudes, even though it has a negative one if applied to a dude by a woman), while women who sleep around morph overnight into big ol’ Slutty McSlutbags.

Society tells us that women just have inherently lesser sex drives than men. In fact, women have as much of a variety of sex drive as men do, but they have been oppressed for so long in the expression of that sex drive that women often further repress their urges themselves for fear of judgment and puritanical crackdown from every corner of society.

That translates into a no for you, guys. Want more sexual encounters with enthusiastically consenting women?

Then stop calling us names for joining you between the sheets.

2. You (usually) don’t bother to be good in bed.

Or, more to the point, you just don’t know how yet. This is eminently forgivable, but the problem is when the lack of skill is combined with an arrogant assumption of your own extreme sexual prowess.

For many women, making the decision to hook up with a new dude is a trade-off: will the sex be good enough to make up for the fact that they’re likely to be judged by friends/family/society the next morning? Will it be good enough to put their personal safety at risk by heading home with a stranger that evening? Or will it be good enough to even want to deal with getting home/kicking him out of the apartment the next morning?

The sad answer to that is often: no.

For women over whom the word “slut” has little or no power (kudos!) (and see my previous post On Sluttiness), it may just be that the sad fact of the matter is that men are not well trained in the art of pleasing a female body.

Enter Porn.

Porn is totally fine in a lot of contexts. It’s also terribly abusive and degrading in others.

I’m talking about porn specifically as a learning tool for young men. The use of mainstream, hardcore porn as instructional videos has bred an entire generation of young men who can and will pound away at you for a half hour while you’re dry as a rock and who will never so much as touch a nipple or have the faintest idea of how clitorises differ on different women or that it takes more than random, arrhythmic rubbing to get a lady off, and who, if they have any cunnilingus game at all (to be fair, I’ve never been with a guy who hasn’t willingly and happily gone down on me, but I know there are head-avoiders out there), are sloppy and lack finesse.

Dudes, my challenge for you: 1) Start changing the status quo among your group of friends by immediately putting a stop to any language that disrespects sexually experienced and experimental women. 2) Watch (real) lesbian porn if you want to learn, and don’t forget to use a soft touch. Not to say that many women don’t like it rough, but it’s better to start gently and build up to harder play based on body cues, explicit verbal requests, and the context of your sexual encounter.

Good luck out there – go forth and do not multiply/use protection.

On Sluttiness (Part I of II)

A few months ago, not long after breaking things off with Heath, I hooked up with a friend of mine. BAD IDEA, you holler, but chill out; we were more friends by association. Our social groups overlapped significantly, but not to the point where I saw him every weekend even when we lived in the same state – which, at time of hookup, we hadn’t in three or four years. I’d had a very minor crush on him since undergrad,  because he is tall and not horrendous looking (tall and not horrendous looking is my type) and occasionally funny. (Funny is my REAL type, but it’s a rare quality. Dudes don’t THINK it’s a rare quality, but it really, really is.)

Regardless: we’re at a friend’s wedding, he stares at me all night, he gets grabby at the after party, we hook up.

Yay!

Right?

Not right. The hookup was meh at best. Of course, while unfortunate, a meh hookup is forgivable.

What is unforgivable is my reaction to this below-average hookup.

Before he scooted out the door post-bizness time, I kissed him and revealed my crush. I told him I liked him. In my defense, I at least qualified it; it wasn’t like I spilled my heart all over the place or anything (I think I would’ve stuck my head in a oven the next day if I had), but nonetheless, I told him I liked him. I told him I had liked him for a while.

Why? Why did I do this? That question has been revolving around my head since the event. What made me tell a guy for whom I had  neutral feelings, during a boring and unfulfilling sexual experience, that I like liked him?

Why did I give him that power?

Slowly, it came to me. One word, spiraling up from where it had been hidden all along:

S

L

U

T

I told a guy I didn’t really like – not in that way – that I liked him. In that way. Because I was afraid to be the kind of person who might be identified as “slutty.”

Once I figured this out, I sat and stared at a wall for about an hour.

I am not someone who puts any stock, at ALL, in someone’s promiscuity or lack thereof. Slut-shaming is vile and upholds double standards that have no place in my life. I don’t care if you sleep with someone on the first date or after marriage or never. As long as the sex is enthusiastically consensual and protected, knock yourself the hell out.

Therefore, the realization that I confessed something embarrassing because of societal pressure on women to not be “slutty” was disappointing in so many ways.

Allowing yourself to be categorized, or to categorize others, as sluts merely gives men power over women in bed that they do not deserve to have.

Next up: Why Won’t She Sleep With Me!? On Sluttiness (Part II of II)

Memory vortex

It’s been a few months, but I’m still dealing with a breakup from this guy Heath that was totally mutual, totally loving, and totally mature. The relationship itself was rarely mutual, loving, or mature, so I have reason to be content with our split. But I’m not. My brain is thwarting any attempt at happiness BY TRAPPING ME IN A TIME VORTEX.

Not just any time vortex. A ROSE-COLORED time vortex. A time vortex wherein everything that occurred in said relationship was perfect and charming and cozy and sweet, and therefore I am a fool for having thrown it all away.

Now, I know very well that we fought like siblings, that the sex was underwhelming, and that we were terrible at communicating and responding to each other’s needs. I KNOW THAT.

So why, why, why do I miss him so?

I think it has a lot to do with the way human memories are not only incredibly selective, but also become warped and untrustworthy over time.

Call me crazy, but, in theory, I actually like that my brain does this. I think it says a lot about how I cope with and adapt to sorrowful events. My brain doesn’t want me to be full of regrets and horror. It pulls up the good stuff and represses the bad, idealizing the past so I can look back at my relationship with Heath with some measure of satisfaction.

Unfortunately, this has a nasty side effect of slowing down the moving-on process. I keep forgetting why we never worked in the first place, and I’ve been having to forcibly restrain myself from texting him late at night.

So, what to do? It sounds horrible to say, “dwell on the bad stuff,” but doing so might provide the much-needed reality check that our brains are reluctant to give us. Proceed at your own risk, however – only enter this territory if you are confident you can dwell without bitterness.

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that I’m not alone here, but for science’s sake, please tell me in the comments so we can know for sure. Anyone else out there have a “Heath”?

Gather round

*lifts an overly full glass of wine*

Here’s to the young.

Here’s to the restless.

Here’s to all the lovers and fighters and stay-up-late-at-nighters.

Here’s to bad dates and great sex, to awkward chest bumps when you meant to hug, to sweaty hands, to long kisses, to deep companionship, to the tingle of not knowing where you stand.

Here’s to OKC. Here’s to Match.com.

Here’s to “talking” to someone for months and hoping it turns into something more.

Here’s to all of us 20-something flounderers.

I’ve got some thoughts about the whole wonderful mess of millennial dating.

Stay tuned.