Men & Women
I have a friend – let’s call him Raul – who couldn’t take less of an interest in women, and naturally women found it completely irresistible. Of course, given his lack of interest it almost inevitably ended poorly, as either he would wander or simply lose interest. Which in turn heightened the quality of his personality that had attracted said women to him in the first place – they all thought they could change him, and his withdrawal into himself only increased the appeal. It generally ended in tears. This was a regular pattern for him, and happened with such regularity that the basic relationship dynamics became frighteningly clear to him.
Now, this presented a problem – he wasn’t malicious and had no interest in hurting these women, he simply lacked the empathy to understand others’ concerns or the sympathy to do much about them. On the other hand, on an abstract level he certainly recognized he was doing people wrong. Being a generally pretty well-meaning if spectacularly detached young man, this didn’t sit particularly well with him. And so he set out to remedy this state of affairs…in a way that didn’t require him to develop the interpersonal qualities in which he had so little interest.
So Raul hit upon the admirably simple idea of frankness. Upon a woman taking interest in him, and him finding her interesting enough to tolerate her advances, he would lay out to her his “deal”. He would explain to her his history with women, and the fact that he was pretty inattentive to the needs of others and was spectacularly ill-suited to be a serious boyfriend. He would frequently propose a complex set of rules and expectations saying, basically, that if this woman wanted to pursue something she would have to agree to abide by those rules. It was during this period that he once told me that “my model of the ideal relationship would have to be the Byzantine bureaucracy”.
Perhaps you’ve already guessed the problem with this – it even more strongly reinforced these young women’s desire to break through and change him. It again, generally ended in tears. So he hit upon a truly imaginative tactic – references. Some of his exes had handled breakups better than others, and with them he had remained friends. So whenever a new woman pursued him, he would give them a number of one of his exes who would patiently explain that “Yes, you think you can break through his shell and change him. I did too once – everyone does. Don’t entertain any hopes of it!” It drove women crazy and deepened his problem still more. Eventually he returned to his simple old method of thoughtlessly hurting women through his carelessness.
This story probably says something about human nature. I don’t know what. I just kind of wanted to record it.