Next up in the Times of London's cavalcade of man-children complaining about how women just don't get them is "Matt," who says women don't understand how men want us around, but don't want to interact with us except for sex.
Matt, who claims to be 34 years old and is (unsurprisingly) single, says his girlfriend left him because he wouldn't speak or listen to her when 24 was on. But, he says, it wasn't his fault: his girlfriend just didn't understand that talking was only for the first six months of a relationship.
If you examine this conversation in its wider context, I'd suggest I wasn't to blame at all. She was right, we did use to talk all night, but that was during the honeymoon period, when both sides make all sorts of temporary concessions to nurture new love. She had failed to recognise that the honeymoon period was over, that we were into the hard slog of the actual relationship. No more whispering sweet nothings, no more philosophical ramblings of a lovesick couple.
In other words, Matt was willing to talk to her when he was infatuated with her — but infatuation ends and a Relationship begins, and Relationships mean no more talking, no more emotional generosity, and no more "I love yous."
Matt's reasoning behind his complete emotional withdrawal is that he just doesn't like to talk, and he damn well doesn't like to engage in physical contact in which his penis doesn't come into contact with a woman's orifices.
This is not to say that I didn't love her. Or want to help - how do you say? - fulfill her emotional needs. Just not endlessly and for the sake of it. And then be expected to round off a loving, nourishing chat with some nonsexual cuddling.
I mean, my God, what did the woman expect? That the guy who she started dating would keep acting the way he had when he wanted her to love him back? How entirely selfish of her to want to understand why he didn't want to talk to her, touch her or tell her he loved her.
Matt wants you to know that all men, without fail, are like him: they don't want to talk to you about anything, let alone anything important. Once the "hard slog" of the relationship has begun — not that he's ever considered why every relationship might be "hard slog" after he's stopped engaging with his girlfriends — there's not even the slightest need for a man to engage in that sort of talking nonsense.
[Men] hate talking about our relationship, other relationships, feelings, emotions, things we need to talk about. It's a cliché because it's true, and that's the trouble with men. The trouble with women is that they refuse to accept this.
So, although Matt admits that it's important to emotionally engage, he says that men won't ever do it anyway, so the best solution is for women to accept "hard slog" relationships as silently as men do. And to let him watch 24 without talking to him, and certainly without cuddling with him.
I think all of us, Matt included, know that Matt stopped talking to his girlfriend long before season 2 of 24 got going. His idea of a relationship is one in which the talking happens all up front, and then all further spoken and non-sexual interaction is kept to a minimum. He believes he shouldn't be expected to tell his girlfriend he loves her because she should know, even if he won't speak to her or engage in non-sexual physical contact; he shouldn't be expected to communicate that his preferred method of relationship maintenance is emotional withdrawal (not that he's scared of increasing his level of emotional engagement or being more vulnerable or anything); and he shouldn't be expected to make even the minimal sacrifice of pausing, recording or missing minutes of his favorite television show because his girlfriend has reached a breaking point in their non-communicative relationship and needs to understand why or get out.
I'm not saying that all men have to talk, or like to talk — or that all women should or can either. I've been in relationships with men that are very open to ongoing communication about more than the weather and with whom I can initiate (or who initiate with me) conversations about the nature of our relationship, our goals and how things are going for both of us. I once dated a guy who, like Matt, abhorred relationship conversations with every fiber of his being: unlike how Matt felt about his girlfriend, however, he loved and understood me and was actually willing to meet my emotional needs if I could meet his. We came up with an arrangement that worked for us through — and this might be shocking — talking about how he didn't want to have to talk about our relationship any more than necessary. Our deal was that, once a month (and not during a football game), I could initiate a relationship conversation and he would engage in a discussion with me for as long as I needed; in exchange, I didn't try to initiate multiple conversations on various relationship minutiae. I respected his need to talk about it as little as possible; he respected my need to have some sort of regular conversation. And we snuggled regularly while watching TV.
I know, it's crazy, right? A 34-year-old man who likes watching football AND shows in which U.S. law enforcement tortures potential terrorists was able to sit down with his girlfriend — an extremely talkative feminist — and work out an arrangement in which both of them got their emotional needs met. What a wuss that guy must have been, eh, Matt? Well, at least he's not sitting around his house tonight mentally wanking to Jack Bauer and torture porn: he'll probably be in snuggling with his new girlfriend on the sofa, watching 24 and happily not talking about their relationship. That's some crazy shit, that respectful communication stuff. Sometimes, if you can deign to engage in it, you don't end up all sad and alone wondering what's wrong with women.
The Trouble With Women: They Always Want To Talk [Times of London]
Photo via skedonk