I don’t know what ruined men for me — men themselves or men in young adult novels. Novels crafted these dream-like romantic worlds with meet-cutes that I fantasized about as a teenager. Now, though, I’ve experienced those supposed meet-cutes.
But in real life, men are flawed. Actually, no — men in books are also flawed. But books teach us that women can save them. Women can heal them. Women can put the pieces together, fix broken boys and build perfect relationships. Women are 2-in-1 girlfriends and therapists for the beautiful boys who admire them.
Of course, in a relationship, partners should support each other. But there needs to be some sort of balance. Sometimes I go on dates that make me wonder if I agreed to go on a date or provide a man with a free therapy session. I think this is, in part, because many men feel as though they can’t talk about their emotions with everyone. They’re supposed to be tough and unemotional (unless they’re angry, which is totally fine according to the How to Be a Man handbook). A guy I went out with told me this before. He can only talk to women about his feelings, he said. He would never talk to men about that kind of thing (thanks, toxic masculinity).
Additionally, women are conditioned to believe that they can and should fix people. It’s not completely bad. I think it’s good to be compassionate. It’s good to care about people and their wellbeing, whether that person is a stranger or your boyfriend or a Tinder date. Everyone has problems and they shouldn’t have to face them alone. However, at a certain point, it becomes too much for a woman to take on. Besides, we shouldn’t aim to “fix” people. In some cases, it’s downright dangerous. Some women put up with a lot (violence, toxic masculinity, etc.) because we’re conditioned to stick it out and try to help. We’re conditioned to believe that all men can change, are willing to change and will change if we just stick around a little longer.
The novels didn’t prepare me for the rollercoaster I’d ride. They didn’t prepare me for the trap I’d get stuck in sometimes. And they didn’t prepare me for the abundance of “meet-cutes” with men in search of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
In reality, the man who calls you intelligent and enjoys hearing your thoughts about feminism as you sip coffee together spends his free time calling other women sluts and sulking about how they’ve rejected him. In books, the man is a little problematic but that makes him oh so intriguing. He was a slut shamer until he met you — a girl he thought was slutty but shockingly turned out to be intelligent, wow!!!!!