In the quest for love, we discover that the search for our happily-ever-after is more of a hard-fought battle than Disney’s wand-waving romances led us to believe. As human beings we have an innate desire be part of a set, to find the other who is our match. There’s no enlisting with Love, at some point we all discover we have been drafted and suddenly we find ourselves in the trenches, discussing battle strategies with our friends. When one of our comrades in arms is struck down by Cupid’s misfired hollow-tip arrow, we drag her back to the foxhole where she can be tended to by heartbreak’s medics, Ben and Jerry’s and Sara Lee. No matter how many times we feel we’ve been mortally wounded by love, we still go back up to the line because we know it’s worth fighting for.
Dating is a lesson in humility. When we look back at our dating history and the romantic buffet that was our twenties, we discover we were Mr. Magoo when it came to matters of the heart, stumbling along blindly and more often than not getting through it by sheer dumb luck. In our twenties, we’re still trying to figure out who we are while the opposite sex is trying to figure out how to get into our panties. Somewhere along the way, we discover what we want in our match through the trial and error of our dating experience and our own personal growth. Recently my friend Tricia and I were sharing our romantic war stories and she suggested we each compile a list of ten types of men we’ve dated that we think women in their twenties should avoid. I’ll provide that link when she’s got hers up. So for now, here are my Top Ten Types of Men to Avoid in Your Twenties, some are mistakes I’ve repeated more than once in my Mr. Magoo severely near-sighted hunt for love:
1. The Bartender – Sure the man who gives you alcohol is performing a sacred role, after a few of those cocktails, he starts to look appealing. He’s saying all the right things and suddenly, you’re at his Off Off Off Broadway play and you’ve got HIS lipstick smeared on your face. Of course you had to kiss him, there was nothing nice to say about his portrayal of General Custard at his last stand with Stuffing Eclairs, he was unconvincing as both an army commander and a pastry filler. You wonder how the hell you wound up there and the reason is simple: a bartender is an expert at the lines that work on women because he hears them all the time. And he uses them, on a lot of other women. But when he insults your intelligence with the “come up to my apartment, I won’t try anything, I just want to lay next to you” line as he has you pinned between a lamp post and a hard place, he gets irked you didn’t fall for it. When the relationship tanks, and it will because he’s got a constantly replenished supply of vulnerable women with alcohol-lowered defenses, what you wind up missing isn’t the guy, it’s the bar.
2. The Professional Comedian – Despite having an almost eidetic memory, I can be like an amnesia victim when it comes to dating. I have dated two comedians. I like to laugh, I like people who make me laugh, so why not date someone who can have a theater full of jaded New Yorkers roaring with laughter? Well, you don’t get to date that guy, he exists only on stage for the duration of his set. In actuality, he isn’t screwed up like the rest of us, he’s so fucked up, he needs the thundering of packed laughter to drown out his own horrifying thoughts. The first one loved my breasts because they reminded him of his mother’s, she would walk around in a tattered bathrobe, nipples protruding from the tears in the fabric, and because of his Oedipal Complex, a bowl of Cheerios gave him a raging erection. The second was a dark cloud, he saved all his funny non-suicidal thoughts for his audience, I got the doom and gloom. One morning I asked him to please pass the orange juice and he replied, “why, we’re all going to die?”. I responded with something like, “Huh. Well, do you have an ETA on this whole death thing? ‘Cuz I have a nail appointment tomorrow, I’m just wondering if I should cancel it”. He glared at me as he always did when I attempted to say something vaguely clever and started stabbing his eggs. And that was the day our relationship died, fortunately I was still able to keep my nail appointment.
3. The Professional Male Model – Never date anyone who is prettier than you are. Because no matter how attractive you are, when people see you together, they are going to assume you are the platonic friend or sister or AA Sponsor of the male model you are with. Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of guys out there who are of that caliber of hotness, so people tend to take notice. Even the cat he claims belonged to the ex rolls his eyes at the pairing. The problem with dating a professional male model is that you think you’re going out with this hot piece of arm candy but suddenly you’re sucked into his fragile world in which he’s tired of being judged by his appearance, he has thoughts too. EXCEPT HE DOESN’T. When you mention the Electoral College, he doesn’t think it’s that great of a school because he’s never heard of their basketball team. You discover he likes you because you don’t see him as a cologne ad, you see the person inside, you listen because you’re interested in what he has to say. Except, you’re really not listening, you’re blocking out his voice while you try to think of ways to get him to take off his shirt. You basically become the dude in the relationship. There are plenty of attractive men out there who aren’t professional models, they’re not quite as shiny, but you should sleep with them and fantasize about the model, that way your bathroom doesn’t suddenly get claimed in the name of Aveda.
4. Guys Named Stewie – There are adult men in this city who go by “Stewie”, if one asks you out, just say no, because they won’t let you rename them and the first date they want to take you on tends to involve driving to some remote location in their van with tinted windows. There’s only one person I think who should ever go by “Stewie”, Stewie Griffin from “Family Guy” and he’s a fictional matricidal baby. An adult male who goes by “Stewie” probably still hasn’t outgrown his Mommy issues. One of the first Stewies I met was at a bar in the Meatpacking district. He looked like Johnny Depp, which normally is a good quality in a man, except he looked like Johnny Depp in “Edward Scissorhands”. My inner Winona was a bit captivated by his paleness, we exchanged e-mail addresses. For our first date, he wanted to go rollerblading in Central Park. Now call me old-fashioned, but I think a date that involves sweating and knee pads should really be more of a fifth date kind of thing. Oddly enough, what wound up nixing it for me wasn’t his odd black leather outfits, it was his telling me he had sex with a man because he thinks every man should know what it feels like to be fucked at least once. He actually meant to sound sensitive, to illustrate that he knew what sex was like for a woman, but that’s a skewed perception of sex, it’s not a power struggle with the man being the automatic victor because he wields the sword. I mean, He-Man may have the power, but he gets it from the Sorceress who is the guardian of Greyskull.
5. The Billionaire – My Mom used to tell me that it’s just as easy to love a rich man as it is to love a poor man. She was wrong. I once dated a guy who was so rich, he totally forgot about one of the bathrooms in his penthouse. One of the ways in which “Sex and the City” lied to women is that Mr. Big had far too much time for Carrie. Men who are extremely successful have to work hard to keep their billions, especially in this economy. You date around their schedule, they’re not used to hearing no, so if you’ve got your own meeting that ran late, they don’t know how to process that, and more times than not, it sends them into passive-aggressive tailspin. If your goal is to be a kept woman then this doesn’t apply to you. But if you want your own life then The Billionaire isn’t the guy for you. He runs the relationship, he tells you when you are going out and where and every now and then, you’re stuck sitting around in your apartment in Spanx and an uncomfortable dress because he forgot to have his secretary call to cancel because something came up. Sure, it’s nice being picked up in ridiculously expensive cars, not having to worry if your date is going to have to sell his blood the next day if you order the lobster, but after a couple of months of dating, you wind up trying to figure out what’s wrong with the relationship and you realize, it’s not because he’s a Met’s fan, it’s because he treats you like an employee and not a girlfriend. I actually have more respect for gold diggers because of that, it requires a lot of patience to be in that kind of relationship, but for me personally, I’d rather buy my own shiny baubles than sit around waiting for the phone to ring.
6. The European Businessman – Sure he’s hot, he’s got a French accent and a sweet apartment his company keeps in the city, but when European men travel, they’re less about the souvenirs or romantic notions and more about the sexual conquest. I met a gorgeous chiseled Italian man on a plane once, a thorough masterpiece of masculinity, after having ruled him out as a potential serial killer, I went to his company’s posh apartment where he was staying. I suggested things we could do that afternoon, all of which he shot down. I excused myself to use his restroom where there was a Costco-sized case of condoms on the counter. I pulled out one of the strips, stormed out of the bathroom, condoms trailing behind me like a Safe Sex Kite Tail, and flung it at him. “That’s pretty presumptuous, don’t you think, a giant case of condoms?” He shrugged and said, “what, I’m a man, you’re a woman, come here…” The European Businessmen know chicks dig the accent, and they think they can shortcut their way into the sack with you. That’s fine if that’s all you want, just don’t start entertaining romantic notions that there will be some Hollywood ending where he’ll stay for you or he’s secretly a prince and you’ll go live in his castle and live happily ever after. But, if you’re someone who likes mixing European Businessmen with your pleasure, a fun little trivia fact is that European men tend to have larger penises than American men. Fully erect, the average American male penis is 5.08 inches. Leading the pack of fully erect European men is Hungarian men at an average of 6.5 inches, followed by France at 6.3 inches, the Czech Republic at 6.26 inches, The Netherlands at 6.24 inches, then Italy at 6.19 inches. France and Italy make the top five of countries with the best lovers while America is in the bottom five because American men are considered rough in bed, for which I blame porn.
7. Drummers – A band’s drummer is Girl Kryptonite, far more dangerous than the lead singer because the drummer is usually towards the back of the stage, partially in shadow making him all the more mysterious as he bangs out a primal beat. He’s better in bed than his fellow musicians, but he tends not to have a bed to call his own, leading a nomadic lifestyle. Drummers tend to wing it a lot, both personally and professionally. I was shocked to learn there are drummers out there who can’t even read sheet music which takes away from their musician appeal. At some point the amount of space his drum equipment takes up in your apartment outweighs his skill in bed and you oust him from your life. They are both the best and worst boyfriends you’ll ever have, exhilarating for a brief period of time, then there’s the dark ring they leave around your soul’s tub that takes a lot of scrubbing to get rid of.
8. Your Friend’s Stalker – Yes, it does seem illogical to date your friend’s stalker, but can’t one woman’s stalker be another woman’s really really attentive boyfriend? The answer to that is no. In college, I made that mistake. The guy seemed genuinely sweet, not bad looking and I figured he just fell for the wrong girl. I’m pretty good at establishing boundaries and my friend wasn’t really the firm type so I figured the whole stalking thing was just an emotional misunderstanding. I of course checked with her first to get her feelings on the matter and she dove for the phone, gleefully setting up a date for us before I even knew what was happening. After the date, which was just okay, nothing special, this guy was suddenly omnipresent. I would flinch when the phone rang and suddenly I would see him everywhere, in front of my door reading a book, hanging outside of a coffee shop I didn’t even know I was going to until five minutes beforehand, at my spot in the library. After expressing annoyance at his creepy behavior, he called me to ask me out on another date. I used the “this isn’t really a good time for me to be dating” which I assumed all men knew meant “I don’t want to go out with you” but then he asked if I had an idea of when would be a better time for us to date at which point I said, “Never. Don’t ever call me again, don’t ever wait around for me again, not in the lobby, not in front of my door, not in the cafeteria, not anywhere. I do not want to date you now or ever.” It was hurtful, but it got rid of him. As the saying goes, if he stalks you once, shame on him, if he stalks you twice, shame on you. He turned out to be the least terrifying of my stalkers, but please be careful, there are some crazy men out there with a lot of extra free time to go with their lack of boundaries. Every woman should know self-defense.
9. The Faux Artist – Even worse than the obsessive self-absorbed Artist is the obnoxiously arrogant Faux Artist because he has no actual medium, but still fancies himself a Renaissance Man. He is never wrong and is easy to spot. There will be some pictures of tree branches taped to his wall, he will be wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt, he will pronounce words like “Notre Dame” and “hors d’oeuvres” properly and will be bored with everything, with the notable exception of the sound of his own voice as he recites some of his truly dreadful poetry that will end with the word “cold” or “alone”. In his opinion, no decent music has been written since the end of the 19th century, which he will attempt to prove to you by dragging you to German opera. Just say nein.
10. The Not-As-Divorced-As-He-Claims – Married men have been slipping their wedding bands into their pockets and telling their wives they have to work late since they realized they might actually be able to get away with it. Once I pointed the ring finger tan line out to a guy trying to pick me up and he said he had vitiligo, the very rare skin disorder Michael Jackson claimed he suffered from, except it affected just that one finger. In your twenties, you have to become hyperaware of the signs of the wolf in single man clothing and every now and then, one slips passed you. I dated a handsome charming lawyer who told me he was divorced. I couldn’t imagine any woman letting this guy go, he was too good to be true. Something was up, I started to suspect he wasn’t as divorced as he claimed, I only had his cell number and a Yahoo e-mail account. When pushed, he admitted he wasn’t divorced yet, they were still in the separation process. I told him, that’s fine, it still didn’t explain why he never invited me over to his place or why I didn’t have his home number. “Well, that’s because, it’s complicated… we still live together…”. I told him it didn’t sound complicated at all, most married people lived together. “She has no idea that you’re separated, does she?”. I don’t think he directly answered that question, I vaguely remember him saying something about the Discovery Channel, that’s the last time I saw him. If you don’t object to having an affair with a married man for moral reasons, then there are logistical considerations. You never come first and your romance suddenly has a lot more factors, mainly the wife and kids, their lives and schedules start to impact yours. Men almost never leave their wives for their mistress, you wind up getting the short end of the stick while he gets to have his cake and eat it too, you deserve better than that.
So now that I’ve told you what types of men to avoid, I’ll key you on the most important quality a man could possess: kindness. I tend to go for the genius type and while I enjoy being intellectually engaged, only a gentle compassionate soul can be entrusted with the heart.