The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a just a brief message to help welcome a new year while reflecting on the years that came before. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: dating
Finding Love Has Become An Extended Job Interview (And For Good, Yet Unromantic Reasons)
Being a self-professed romantic and an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I often scrutinize the nature of romance more than most. Whereas some might watch a movie or TV show and see the basics of a romantic sub-plot, I’ll dig much deeper. I’ll identify which romances are inherently flawed, why some work beautifully, and why love triangles are inherently awful.
That scrutiny goes beyond media, popular culture, and my own efforts to tell a good love story. I often find myself observing how romance unfolds in real life. Whether it’s how people have pursued romance in the past to my own romantic endeavors, there’s a lot to break down and it doesn’t always make sense. Love isn’t known for being rational, after all.
It’s because of this tendency of mine that I notice things that rarely come up in discussions about romance. Recently, I realized something profound while reading several stories about how modern dating has changed in recent years, of which there are many.
Modern romance has become more a job interview than an emotional journey.
I imagine some will roll their eyes at that notion. Some might even agree with it and not need any convincing. A few probably think I’m giving this too much thought, even for a romance fan. That may be a fair point, but I believe the evolution of modern romance is becoming a lot less romantic.
To be fair, finding has undergone many upheavals throughout history. It wasn’t until the past couple centuries that people actually married for love. Those who claim to champion “traditional” marriage probably aren’t aware that marriage and formal relationships were little more than passionless business contracts for most of human history.
Love and romance were always there. We, as human beings, are hardwired to form loving bonds. It just took different forms and people went about it in very different ways. Most people have a general idea of how people go about it today. It tends to go something like this.
- Two people meet, either in person or online
- There’s a spark of attraction
- They both pursue each other
- They go on dates to learn about one another and explore their romantic connection
- If the connection is strong enough, they forge a lasting relationship and build a life together
Granted, this is an exceedingly gross simplification. It still covers most of the basics. That’s the problem, though. It only deals with the basics and people are rarely basic.
It starts shortly after a mutual attraction is established. Once two people start pursuing one another, the dating phase starts. Movies, TV shows, and romance novels tend to be vague about how this unfolds. However, it’s here where the parallels with job interviews start to show.
While a love story may depict candle-lit dinners, coordinated dancing, and intimate gestures, the bulk of that process tends to involve more pragmatic acts. For two people to understand whether they’re romantically compatible, they need to get to know one another. To get to know one another, they need to interact.
That, in and of itself, doesn’t make dating indistinguishable from a job interview. For that, the modern structure of relationships is what fosters that and I’m not just referring to marriage. This affects couples who cohabitate, as well as those who are serial monogamists.
From a logistical standpoint, a modern romance has many moving parts. It’s not enough to just be attracted to one another, enjoy each other’s company, or have great sex. People often have to find a way to fit one another into their lives. There are jobs, career aspirations, and living situations to consider.
These days, people aren’t as likely to stay in the same place they were born in, especially if the opportunities in that town are limited. The same goes for their families. Even if they stay, sometimes their parents or extended family move away. Maybe it’s for retirement, going to college, or pursuing their own romantic interests. Having to accommodate all that into a relationship can be daunting.
In the same way you might be qualified for a job, but not in a position to take it, you might find yourself in a similar relationship with romance. All the emotional, physical, and sexual chemistry is there. However, you’re just not in a position to pursue it. You can’t maintain that relationship when you’re both living in other time zones or pursuing different paths.
That’s not to say long distance relationships can’t work, but it’s like trying to do a job remotely. There’s only so much you can do when you’re not present. If that weren’t the case, everyone would work from home or from a tropical paradise. I that as someone who has been unable to pursue major opportunities and broken up from good relationships due to distance.
Even if you can work around issues of distance and time, there’s also the matter of becoming entwined with family affairs. As the “Meet The Parents” trilogy so hilariously demonstrates, being with someone is rarely just about being with them, individually. At some point, if the romance is to be serious, their family will get involved.
That process can be as complicated as matching qualifications for a specialized job on a resume. You’ve got to make sure both families can get along. They can’t just tolerate each other at the wedding or during the holidays. They have to be capable of co-existing in a way that doesn’t undercut the romance.
It’s very similar from having a job that matches your skill set, but for an organization that is just insufferable. A lot of people have had to endure jobs they hated, even if they paid well or matched their various talents. When the organization within the job is awful, then even a dream job can be awful.
You can love someone with all your heart. You might even have someone your family loves. However, if your lover’s family is an absolute pain, then the romance will suffer. Now that relationships aren’t just business arrangements, we have to navigate around one another’s lives and their families. To do that, it’s necessary to treat dating like a job interview.
You have figure out if this person fits into your life.
You have to figure out if their hopes, dreams, and abilities match what you’re looking for.
You have to prove that your hopes, dreams, and abilities match theirs as well.
You have to determine whether you fit into the organization of their life and their family.
Ultimately, you have to build that shared life together around all of that, knowing that breaking up/being fired/quitting comes with a personal/professional cost.
On the surface, it’s hardly romantic. At the same time, there’s an undeniable pragmatism to it. As society has evolved, complete with more egalitarian gender roles and fewer taboos about being single, we’re in a better position to chart our own romantic path. We don’t just have to settle for limited options and few opportunities. We can dare to seek something greater.
As a byproduct, the basic romantic elements of intimate chemistry can never be enough. It’s necessary, if not unavoidable, to assess a prospective lover’s entire life to determine of that romance is even viable. It’s not easy and it’s exceedingly imperfect, as the rate of divorce and abusive relationships indicates.
However, being the romantic I am, I still say it’s worth pursuing. That process is still very likely to change as society, technology, and attitudes change. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to change it even more. Whether it becomes more or less like a job interview remains to be seen.
Filed under gender issues, human nature, Love Or Obsession, psychology, romance
Remembering (And Learning From) My First Date
We all remember our first crush.
We all remember our first kiss.
We all remember the first person we ever fell in love with.
These are pivotal moments in our lives. They help form the core of our romantic identity. Who we are and how we go about loving others starts with those moments. Ideally, we get better at them over time, as do our lovers. They aren’t always great. Sometimes, they’re terribly awkward. I admit I’ve had a few. As awkward as they were, I learned from them.
With that in mind, I’d like to get a little personal again. I know it’s been a while since I shared a little anecdote from my life. I’ve told stories about my sub-par flirting skills. I’ve also recounted stories that definitively prove how awesome my mom is. I like to think these are stories people can relate to and learn from. I hope this one is similar.
This personal story is about the first date I ever went on. It’s another one of those pivotal moments, but one that tends to be more mixed. Sometimes, a first date is a prelude to an epic love story that culminates in two people getting married, having kids, and building a life together. It can also be an unmitigated disaster. You don’t have to look far to find stories like that.
For the most part, first dates tend to be a mixed bag. They can either be utterly forgettable or a moment you treasure for the rest of your life. The story of my first date lies somewhere in the middle. I hope my now ex-girlfriend feels the same way because it was her first date too. She and I were both young, romantically inexperienced, and socially awkward. In a sense, our date was destined to be mixed.
That didn’t make it any less meaningful. In fact, it gave us an experience to build from, one that would serve us well throughout our relationship and even after we broke up.
It started out simple. I planned to take her to a restaurant at a nearby mall. She loved seafood and this was one of my favorite places. It was also the first date in which my parents let me borrow the car. It was exciting, but still nerve-racking. I saw it as a critical first step in our relationship. I wanted it to be part of a real love story for us. It didn’t play out like I’d planned, but it was still a story.
Before we even got to our destination, there was a setback. While driving to the mall, I take a wrong turn and end up in some office park across the street. Keep in mind, I knew this area well. I’d been going to this mall since I was a kid. Now, here I was, getting lost in familiar territory with a girl I’m trying to impress. It was not a good start.
Much to my ex-girlfriend’s credit, she didn’t make a big deal out of it. She even thought it was funny. I doubt she knew how much I was panicking. I remember gripping the steering wheel so hard, wanting this to be a dream I woke up from before going on the real date. I still put on a smile and tried to make small talk. I’m pretty sure I started talking about comics.
Despite that setback, we made it to the mall. We then make our way to the restaurant without incident. I’m still recovering. I’m also being extra-vigilant. I’m holding her hand, smiling at her, and staying close like a respectable man should. All the while, I’m trying hide how nervous I am. I know she was nervous too, but she wasn’t the one who got lost less than five miles from his house.
Things finally settle once we’re at the restaurant. It’s not an overly fancy place, but it’s no fast food joint either. It’s a place with waiters, menus, and a cocktail list. At the time, we’re both poor college students so this is a nice change of pace for us both. I tell her it’s okay to splurge a little. My parents even gave me some money. We certainly made the most of it.
It’s here where the most memorable part of the date played out. At first, I struggle to keep a conversation going. I’m still socially awkward. I met this girl on the internet. I’m used to having time to think my responses through before answering. It’s not an easy transition. However, after we ordered, something amazing happened.
We started really connecting.
I know it sounds corny. It may even sound mundane because it was a date. Connecting is kind of the point. However, keep in mind that this is my first date and she is my first girlfriend. I’m in uncharted territory. I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do. I’m just talking to this girl, trying to come off as the kind of guy she wants to be with.
Despite that inexperience, I managed to build that connection. We started talking about school. She started talking about her family. I started talking about movies, comics, and books I’ve read. At some point, I stop worrying about keeping the conversation going. I just talk to her like the person I’ve come to know from our interactions online. She really is that same person and that just endeared her to me even more.
The rest of the dinner goes great. I do recall eating a little too quickly and sloppily, but that didn’t matter. She ate the same way. I saw it as a sign. She also cursed a lot more than I did. She wasn’t big on making things too formal. She wasn’t trashy or anything like that, but she wasn’t the kind of person who censored herself. That ended up helping me navigate the night.
After we eat, we just walk around the mall together. I feel more relaxed. She’s more relaxed, as well. At some point, it doesn’t even feel like a date. We’re just hanging out, doing the kinds of things we like to do by ourselves. This time, we have someone to share it with. That, more than anything, is what made that date feel special.
It wasn’t a chore or some elaborate ritual. We were a young couple with a blossoming romance. We wanted to get to know each other and have a little fun. That’s exactly what we did. I learned a lot from that first date, both about the girl I was dating and the dating process, in general. If there are any lessons I hope to impart from that experience, it’s this.
A first date doesn’t have to go perfectly in order to be successful.
It can start off badly. It can even have a few setbacks. You can still make it work. You can even learn more from those setbacks than you would have, if everything had gone according to plan. I had a plan for that first date. That plan collapsed within five minutes of leaving my place. In hindsight, that was probably a good thing. It forced me to get back to basics on why I wanted to date this girl in the first place.
Even though that relationship didn’t work out, that first date set a good tone for us both. We were together for a good nine months after that. In that time, we had a lot of fun. We shared a lot of great moments, some of which I’ve recounted. There’s a lot I learned about myself during that relationship. It marked a major turning point in my social life.
Before that first date, I was still the same socially awkward mess I was in high school. I used to even joke about how pathetic I was because I’d never been on a date. Now, I couldn’t make that joke anymore. I also couldn’t say I was as socially awkward anymore. I’d gone on a successful date. You can’t make that claim without having some social skills.
That should give hope to anyone out there who feels like they don’t have good social skills, either. I’ve been there. I know how hard it can be to develop those skills, especially when it comes to dating. It is possible, though. I’m living proof of that. You just can’t stop yourself from trying. You can’t make excuses, either.
Those moments that I mentioned earlier are powerful and precious. After a year like 2020, you tend to appreciate them even more. Moreover, you can’t just wait for them to happen. You have to pursue them. It took me way too long to do so, but I did it. I encourage everyone else out there to do so as well. Hopefully, your first date goes even better than mine.
Lesson About Love I’ve Learned From Writing Romance
When writing, talking, or criticizing a certain topic, we often do so thinking we know enough about it to make it matter. It’s not until we actually make the effort that we realize just how inadequate our knowledge is. It can be distressing and disheartening on some levels, but it can also be revealing.
I’ve been writing romance stories since I was a teenager. I don’t deny that those first stories I wrote were awful. I’ve even gone back and deleted some of them, both from my memory and my computer. They were that bad. I made the effort because I believed I could tell a good, meaningful love story. It wasn’t until I started writing that I realized how much I had to learn.
I’ve learned quite a bit since then, but I don’t doubt for a second that I’ve a lot more to explore. The fact that I’m still single, unmarried, and not dating anyone at the moment is proof enough of that. However, after reading about and writing so many love stories, both as novels and as short stories, I’ve uncovered countless insights into love.
Writing about it, discussing it, and even observing it in people who have found it has taught me a lot. Much of those lessons have found their way into my writing over the years. In the interest of sharing those revelations, I’d like to offer a few of those insights for those still struggling to make sense of this emotion that drives so many people, both in real life and in the world of fiction.
Some may seem obvious. Others may seem corny. That’s to be expected. Love is one of those strange emotions that seems so simple on paper, yet so overwhelming in practice. That’s part of what makes it special. That’s also part of what makes it worth pursuing. Hopefully, these insights help with that.
Lesson #1: Love requires effort, but can become tedious if it turns into work.
Lesson #2: Love is often more opportunity than destiny. Fate may bring people together, but it’s through choice and effort that something comes of it.
Lesson #3: The line between lust and love is often blurred, but becomes more defined when those involved are honest with themselves and each other.
Lesson #4: It’s okay for love to be shallow on some levels, but greater depth is needed in order for it to blossom.
Lesson #5: Being in love means growing and evolving with a person. That means loving someone for who they are and who they’re trying to be.
Lesson #6: Being in love is only part of a functional relationship, but it’s a critical part that can make others work.
Lesson #7: Love isn’t always logical, but genuine love is coherent and consistent.
Lesson #8: You cannot control how, when, and where you fall in love, but you can control the situation around you.
Lesson #9: Being in love, like being in a relationship, is an ongoing feeling. Treating certain parts as endpoints only undermines both.
Lesson #10: In the same way love means different things to many people, the experience of love can be just as different. Even if others don’t understand it, that doesn’t mean the love is less sincere.
Lesson #11: Love is unpredictable, but there are often patterns that become noticeable when you’re honest with yourself and your partner.
Lesson #12: There’s no one right way to love someone, but there will always be many more wrong ways.
Lesson #13: Love build on lies is always unstable in the long run.
There are probably many more I could list or haven’t thought of. If you have some lessons in love that you’d like to share, please do so in the comments.
Filed under Marriage and Relationships, romance, sex in society
How And Why “No Strings Attached” Became My Favorite Romance Movie
A few years back, I cited “Crazy/Beautiful,” an underrated cinematic gem from 2001, as my favorite romance movie. That movie, which I feel has aged better than similar movies from previous decades, has a special place in my heart and it always will. It was the first romance movie that I genuinely enjoyed as both a movie and a love story.
However, I’m here to announce that my ranking has recently changed. I still love “Crazy/Beautiful,” but it is no longer my favorite romance movie. That rank now belongs to “No Strings Attached,” the sexy romantic comedy from 2011 starring Ashton Kutcher and future Thor, Natalie Portman. As of this moment, it’s a rank that will be very difficult for any future movie to top.
The premise of “No Strings Attached” and how it became my favorite romance movie is a remarkable story, in and of itself. This is one of those movies I didn’t expect to be so impactful. I ignored it when it initially came out in theaters. The premise sounded generic and it didn’t help that a similar (and inferior) movie called “Friends With Benefits” came out at the same time.
It’s a common romance trope. Two people decide to eschew traditional dating methods and just stick to sex. They don’t want anything serious. They just want steady, enjoyable sex, minus the complications that relationships bring. It starts off fun and sexy. Then, things get serious when emotion and jealousy enter the picture. Eventually, both characters realize they love each other and that’s the end of that.
It’s not an overly elaborate premise for a love story. I’ve written more than my share of those as an aspiring erotica/romance writer. It can be a great love story when done right. The problem is it’s rarely done right. It’s also painfully predictable. It’s next to impossible to evoke decent drama when the conflicts and resolutions are so obvious. That was what made “Friends With Benefits.”
That was also why it I didn’t bother seeing “No Strings Attached” for years. I thought it seemed too generic. Then, on a whim, I decided to check it out on Hulu. I fully expected to turn it off halfway through once the plot settled into familiar patterns. I freely admit I was dead wrong. I pre-judged this movie and that was a mistake on my part.
By the time the credits rolled, I was smiling from ear-to-ear and shaking my head in disbelief. This movie did something I didn’t expect it to do. I didn’t even think it was possible, given the sheer volume of romance I’ve written and consumed. It struck all the emotional chords it needed to and then some. Most romance movies these days are lucky if they can strike just a few.
To appreciate this, you can’t just look at the movie through its general plot summary. At its core, “No Strings Attached” follows the basic script of two people agreeing to casual sex in lieu of a formal relationship. However, what makes this movie stand out is how it navigates this premise through its two main characters, Emma Kurtzman and Adam Franklin.
Before these two characters ever start having sex, the movie takes time to establish who they are and why they decide to seek such an arrangement. Adam and Emma aren’t just a couple of attractive strangers who cross paths and decide they like casual sex. They’ve actually known each other for years, albeit informally.
The first 10 minutes of the movie are dedicated to showing that they both end up in such a frustrating place in their personal lives. Adam just broke up with his girlfriend, Vanessa. Then, his father, a former TV star, decides to start dating her. Naturally, that leaves him pretty messed up.
Emma’s situation is not much better. Before they reconnect, her father dies and she doesn’t demonstrate the greatest coping skills. Later on, her sister, Katie, is getting married and her coping skills still haven’t improved. Neither she nor Adam are complete wrecks, but they’re trying to navigate difficult personal matters and failing miserably.
These issues have nothing to do with romance, sex, or loneliness. They’re legitimate, relatable issues that real people deal with, even if they’re not as attractive as Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman. That makes their problems and their need for comfort feel genuine. It also makes their pursuit of a more casual, less complicated relationship more understandable.
This is where both the story and the romantic chemistry in “No Strings Attached” gains its endearing appeal. It helps that it’s a very sexy appeal, as well, but that’s only ever secondary, at most. As Adam and Emma pursue their new arrangement, we see that it’s not just fun and sexy. It’s genuinely good for them.
Being together in this unique arrangement helps them in many ways. They’re better able to navigate the other issues in their lives. Some of those issues have to do with work. Adam is trying to make it as a writer on a TV show while Emma is trying to further her career as a doctor. Others are on a more personal front with Adam’s dad being a heavy source of drama.
Whatever the issues, the relationship helps Emma and Adam in ways that are subtle, but noticeable. Being together, even if it isn’t romantic, is genuinely good for them. Even when new stresses enter the picture, they help each other get through it. They get to a point where you can’t help but root for them, both as individuals and as a couple.
That journey to something more serious than casual lovers does happen, but it’s chaotic. Considering how predictable stories about casual lovers tend to be, this is one of the most refreshing parts of “No Strings Attached.” It doesn’t happen all at once. There are even some major setbacks along the way. However, there’s a clear and logical progression with Adam and Emma’s romantic journey.
They start out as casual acquaintances.
Then, they start enjoying each other’s company.
Then, they become friends.
Then, they become lovers.
Then, they start to legitimately care about one another.
Then, they start to develop deeper feelings for one another.
Then, they confront those feelings together.
Finally, they fall in love.
Again, it’s not a smooth transition. There are moments in which the extent of their romantic connection is unclear. What Adam and Emma want from one another seems to fluctuate, which makes them feel very human. While it never comes off as entirely one-sided, it never feels like a bland love story in the mold of a fairy tale.
In addition, “No Strings Attached” also avoids the common trap of making sex seem like this huge complication for real romance. In many other love stories of this nature, sex is often framed as this make-or-break act for a couple. Either having sex destroys the romance or it makes the romance inevitable. It gives the impression that you can’t have sex without falling in love.
Beyond reinforcing harmful notions espoused by repressive purity culture, it undercuts the substance of the romance. It implies that it’s contingent on sex in order to blossom. The romance and the sex in “No Strings Attached” is portrayed with more complexity. One never depends on the other, but they do plenty to complement each other.
Ultimately, great sex isn’t the reason Emma and Adam start to fall in love with one another. It acts more as a catalyst. By being together, they’re not just happier and more sexually satisfied. They become better at navigating the various quirks of their respective lives. That’s basically the epitome of a healthy romance.
More than anything else, the end of the movie clearly establishes that these two people want to be together. Their love is not something they can’t avoid or escape. It’s not bound by destiny and ordained by higher forces. Emma and Adam get together because they choose to.
The love they find is not some burden that provokes jealousy or loneliness. They end up together because they want to be together. Their love works because it’s real, sincere, and genuine. This is what makes the final few minutes of the movie the most cathartic I’ve ever experienced in a romance movie. It was those final minutes that sealed “No Strings Attached” as my new favorite romance movie.
There are many other elements of this movie that I could praise for hours on end. I could probably write an entire book on why this movie worked so much better than “Friends With Benefits.” I’ll save that discussion for another time. For now, I encourage anyone out there with a taste for romance to check this movie out. Give it a chance, like I did. Let me know if it had a similar impact.
I don’t doubt more romance movies will come along and challenge “No Strings Attached” for the title of my favorite. I watch more romance movies than most straight men and it may only be a matter of time before another movie comes along that exceeds both this and “Crazy/Beautiful.” I honestly look forward to that day, but “No Strings Attached” sets the bar pretty damn high.
Filed under movies, romance, sex in media, sex in society
Answering (And Understanding) Where The “Good” Men Have Gone
Human beings are social creatures. We’re biologically wired to pursue social and emotional bonds. It’s one of the most fundamental traits for being human. Being a fan of romance, I certainly appreciate it. For that same reason, though, I think it’s telling when people encounter barriers in seeking those bonds.
In recent years, one particular question has been asked any number of ways. It’s often asked in many different contexts, which in turn inspires many different answers. The implications are still the same.
Where have all the “good” men gone?
Now, I put “good” in quotation marks for a reason. I hope that reason becomes apparent soon enough because adding that qualifier to the question frames it as a blanket statement about an entire gender. As a man, who sees himself as “good” by most standards, I feel I have a personal stake in addressing this question. However, I suspect the answers I provide won’t go over well with certain women and even a few men.
Before I answer, it’s important to add a specific context to what makes a man “good.” When the question is often asked, it’s often done from the perspective of women seeking men for marriage. We no longer live in an era where women have their spouses chosen for them or must seek marriage as a means of survival. Despite what some regressive individuals may say, I believe that’s an objectively good thing.
The complications arise when we start to establish the criteria of what makes a “good” man worthy of marriage. Most people, regardless of gender, understand there’s a difference between the person you hook up with and the one you marry. Ideally, this is a person you want to share your life with, for better or for worse. This is someone you genuinely love and go out of your way for.
The primary reason why this question is being asked, namely by women seeking a male spouse, is because they’re having an increasingly difficult time finding someone who meets that criteria. It shows in the data. According to Pew Research, about half of the adult population in America is married, which marks significant decline compared to what it was 50 years ago.
There are many theories as to why this is occurring, some more offensively absurd than others. Even the not-so-absurd theories have become mired in gender politics, which has a tendency to denigrate everyone in the grand scheme of things. I certainly have mine and I don’t think the answers are simple. Every person is different. People are complicated, in general, and so are the societies they live in.
However, this question about “good” men frames the issue a problem ascribed to men. It implies that the issue has nothing to do with a the overall desire to seek long-term romantic bonds. Like I said before, humans are emotional creatures wired to seek romantic bonds. The problem is that the men worthy of such bonds just aren’t there anymore. That’s why women are asking the question to begin with.
As a man, who hopes to one day find someone to marry and love with all my heart, I can offer my take on the answer. Simply put, those good men exist. They’re just not where you’re looking to find them. Even if you are, you might not even realize that those men are good because you don’t give them a chance.
Now, I understand that answer is basic and simplistic. It’s the sentiment of one person who just happens to contemplate romance than most straight men are likely to admit. Everyone’s situation is different, but there is a bigger forest to see and my opinion is only one of those trees. To see that forest, it’s necessary to understand the question better.
Thankfully, there has been research done on this topic. According to a study done in the Journal of Marriage and Family, a major factor driving this question could be a combination of demographics and math. To understand how, this is how they compiled the data.
Focusing their analyses on single heterosexual women, the researchers used data from the American Community Survey (2008-2012; 2013-2017) to predict the likely characteristics of these women’s husbands if they had husbands and then compared those characteristics to what’s actually available in these single women’s dating pool. More specifically, the researchers generated “synthetic spouses” for the single women in their sample by first matching them with demographically similar women (e.g., same race, education, military status, income) who happened to be married. The “synthetic spouses” were designed to reflect the characteristics of the husbands of the similar-married women. Thus, assuming women of similar demographics are looking for similar characteristics in their partners, this method offers a starting point for documenting the characteristics single women might be looking for in a partner.
The long and short of it is simple. The women in the study had criteria for the kind of man they want to marry. However, when that criteria was applied to the male population, there was a significant disparity. Over half the male population was eliminated on the basis of income alone. Essentially, the supply of men who meet this standard for marriage is not sufficient to meet demand.
That’s not to say that it’s the fault of women for having standards that are too high, although I know some have made that argument. While I agree that there are some women who make wholly unreasonable expectations of men, I think they’re the minority. I would argue those changing standards have less to do with gender politics and more to do social and economic factors.
Both women and men are able to be more independent today than they were 50 to 100 years ago. A basic consequence of independence is that you can afford to elevate your standards. When you have the money, time, and resources, you’re less likely to settle for less. It’s the same reason why you willingly pay extra for a better phone or faster internet if you have the means.
A much bigger factor, in my opinion, has to do with the economics and imbalances in marriage. Over the past several decades, the wealth gap has grown and the ability to make a comfortable living, which the women in the study prioritize, is getting considerably difficult. For a man, especially if he doesn’t have a college degree, it’s getting harder and harder to meet those criteria.
At the same time, the investment in relationships has only grown. It’s no longer enough to be a steady, dependable partner. Along with our newfound independence, men and women alike seek something greater from their spouse. That something often requires money, time, and resources. Between student loan debt and the rising cost of living, those assets have become increasingly scarce.
On top of that, the price of failure has gone up considerably as well. While both parties suffer significant loss when a relationship or marriage fails, men tend to take a bigger hit from a material standpoint. Between alimony laws and child custody, men stand to lose a lot if they don’t measure up to the woman’s ideals of a good spouse.
None of this even attempts to factor in the effects of other trends in gender politics, such as the anti-harassment movement. The criteria for a “good” man doesn’t even matter if it becomes overly difficult to be intimate with someone without fear of being accused of something. Even without such complications, the underlying question still evokes troubling answers.
Those answers still aren’t complete. There are still going to be women out there who cannot find a suitable partner for reasons beyond her control. There will also be genuinely good men out there who struggle just as much to find a partner of their own. As a romantic, I believe love does inspire people to make these connections, even when we insist on making it more difficult.
Daily Sexy Musings: First Dates
First dates are like the first sentence of an epic story. They’re a necessary and critical step towards turning that initial spark into something deeper and more passionate. Most people don’t know they’ve found the love of their life on a first date. However, if their love is meant to be, that’s when they take their first step.
I’ve had my share of first dates. I have mixed feelings about the date I went on with my first real girlfriend. It wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t some romantic epic, either. I took her out to my favorite restaurant, not knowing how to go about it. I was so nervous and inexperienced that I’m pretty sure I made a fool of myself at least twice. Later, I found out my ex was just as nervous and we both ultimately laughed about it.
Even though that relationship didn’t work out, that first date we shared told us that we had something special. It affirmed what we already felt to some extent and that was a great moment. Awkward moments aside, I look back at that first date fondly. To those who are still with their significant others, I’m sure that first date stands out in a great many ways.
A first date is just the first step in a much larger process. It’s a hell of a process, too. Whether or not you’re a romantic, it helps set a tone for a relationship. Strong relationships will often have memorable first dates. I hope this Daily Sexy Musing helps the established couples out there remember that first date fondly.
I just met you.
You just met me.
I don’t know you.
You don’t know me.
Tonight, we change that. I’ve dared to open my heart once more. You return the favor, accepting my invitation and sharing the unspoken intrigue that blossoms between us. Being near you, we both sense the heat of the chemistry between us. It’s like a tension that yearns to break, drawing us closer and beckoning our passions.
Every great love begins with a spark.
Every spark is only the beginning of a larger flame.
Every flame needs space, fuel, and energy to grow.
That’s what tonight is all about. On this, our first date, I intend to make the case that I am someone worth loving. I also hope to surmise whether that chemistry between us is more than just amorous instinct. You are beautiful. That much, I know to be true. Is the soul beneath that beauty worth embracing? That, I don’t know.
It’s a long, arduous process, finding out who someone is and surmising whether they’re the one for us. It involves more than just fancy dates, affectionate gestures, and heated lovemaking. Together, we seek to determine whether our lives can become entwined. Loving each other is only the first step. Being together involves many more.
No matter how many steps there are, I want to find out. In you, I see both passion and possibilities. I want to spend an entire night with you, learning about and briefly exploring your world. If you are willing, I’ll gladly share mine.
I take you by the hand.
I guide you into a night of shared intrigue.
I open myself to you in hopes that you open yourself to me.
This is our first date. We both know how we want this journey to end. Together, we take that first step.
Five Places Where I’ll Likely Meet The Love Of My Life
I’m a romantic at heart. Between the sexy stories I’ve written and the sexy topics I’ve discussed, I think I’ve made that abundantly clear. Love, in all its wondrous forms, is something worth pursuing, channeling, and embracing. It’s one of the few forces that can be as powerful in the real world as it is in fictional words.
It may be corny, but love is a wonderful thing. It’s easy to be cynical and jaded, especially if you’ve had your heart broken or been in one too many bad relationships. It’s just as easy to find yourself overwhelmed by all the joy and fulfillment it brings to your life. The hardest part is finding it, but finding it often requires vulnerability, dedication, and even a little blind luck.
At the moment, I’m single. I’ve been single for a number of years now, but I’m always on the lookout for love. I’ve tried online dating. It didn’t work for me. I’ve also tried having a family member set me up with someone. That didn’t work, either. I haven’t lost hope. I still believe that one day, I’ll find the love of my life. It’s just a matter of when and where.
While it’s impossible to predict the when, I know myself well enough to have a general idea of where I might find that special someone. Everyone in my family says it’ll happen when I least expect it, but a few have said I probably won’t be surprised where it happens.
With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment to speculate on where that magical moment might happen for me. I know myself. I know where I hang out and where I tend to meet new friends. If I’m going to fall in love, it’s probably going to happen at a place like that.
Granted, I could be wrong. It could happen somewhere completely unexpected. Love is unpredictable and erratic like that. That’s part of what makes it so amazing. In terms of sheer probability, these are the locales where I’m most likely to meet the love of my life.
#1: A Comic Book Convention
This is probably the most obvious. I’ve been very transparent with my love of comic books and superhero movies. It’s also one that has a track record. I met my last girlfriend on an online comic book forum. Having a shared interest is a great catalyst for love and comic conventions are the epicenter of it all.
I’ve met good friends and a few cute girls at comic conventions. I’ve documented my trips to the New York Comic Con multiple times. I’ve every intention of attending the New York Comic Con this year and for years to come. If I’m going to fall in love, it’ll likely be with someone who shares the same interests.
Maybe they’ll be a cos-player dressing up as one of my favorite characters. Maybe they’ll be someone I’m sitting next to during a panel. Maybe they’ll just happen to be stuck in line with me, waiting to get an autograph from one of my favorite writers or celebrities. Comic conventions offer all sorts of opportunities for fans and lovers alike.
If I fall in love with someone, I’d like them to share my interest. If I meet the love of my life at a comic book convention, then that’ll only give us more reasons to go every year. I can’t think of a better way for a romance to blossom.
#2: A Football Game
Like comic conventions, football games are a perfect celebration of something I love. I’ve been a football fan all my life. During the season, I schedule every Sunday around watching games and cheering on my favorite teams. Some of my favorite memories as a kid involved watching football with my dad and siblings. I hope to make similar memories with the love of my life.
I don’t go to as many football games anymore, but when I do, I encounter women who are just as passionate about the game as any man. That can be difficult to find in other walks of life. Football is often seen as a male-centric interest, but that has been steadily changing in recent years.
As with comics, I believe I’ll fall in love with someone who shares my passions. If I find a woman who can drink, cuss, and cheer during games as much as me, I have a feeling we’ll share an amazing romance. Through hard losses and major victories, we can give each other yet another reason to look forward to football season. Love has that power, even for things you already love.
#3: A Book Store/Library
This might be a bit trickier with respect to finding love, but I think it’s possible for the same reason as comic conventions and football games. Book stores and libraries may not be big events or gatherings, but they’re where I go to celebrate and further my love for great stories. Whether it’s romance or sci-fi, book stores and libraries are almost a necessary hub for a guy like me.
I’m the kind of person who could spend an hour in a book store, sifting through everything from the latest comic books to cheesy romance novels. The people you meet aren’t always in the mood to talk, let alone fall in love. However, it’s a lot easier to strike up a conversation with someone, especially when they’re picking out the same books you enjoy.
One day, I could be hanging out in the graphic novel or romance section of a book store. Then, a woman could just show up, start looking at the same books as me, and that’s all it would take. If we happen to share the same passion for the same stories, then it could lead to sharing passions of other kinds. It can start small, but grow rapidly. Like all great romance, it takes a little spark to trigger a great love story.
#4: A Sports Bar
This one has similar factors to that of a football game and a comic book convention. It’s a gathering spot for events, albeit on a smaller scale. It’s not flashy or elaborate, but that’s exactly why I think it’s a good place for a guy like me to find love.
I love sports. I also love good food and good beer. I go to sports bars to do more than just drink and eat, though. I like to hang out, watch whatever game is on, and strike up random conversations with people. It’s a great experience that has helped me develop the social skills that I didn’t have in my youth.
In the same way I can talk for hours about sports and comics, I’d like to find a special someone who can share in those conversations. We can share a few beers, a batch of buffalo wings, and an extensive discussion about playoff scenarios and draft picks. If I’m going to fall in love someone, it’s probably going to happen with someone I love talking to.
Sports bars aren’t known for being romantic. As a date, it’s probably not the first place you want to go with your lover. In terms of meeting that lover, though, I think a sports bar is one of the places where our paths may first cross.
#5: A Strip Club
I know. I can already sense the judgement pouring in through certain corners of the internet. Yes, I’m aware that strip clubs have a dirty, lurid reputation. I know it’s not the first place anyone goes when looking for a spouse. I also know most strippers aren’t looking to find love. I don’t care. I think there’s plenty of room for romance.
Strippers, be they male or female, seek love just as much as anyone else. It may not be the kind of epic romance that inspires Shakespearean plays or chick flicks, but it can be just as sincere. As someone who appreciates nudity and celebrating sex appeal, I think I’d connect with women at a strip club.
I don’t deny that there would be unique challenges. I’m aware that most strippers only pretend to like the men who go to clubs so they can extract money for their company. It’s part of the job. There’s also life beyond the job. Sometimes, you connect with people in unexpected ways over the course of their work. That’s the entire premise behind workplace romances.
Whether the person I fall for is a stripper or just someone who works there, I can imagine something starting out as a simple exchange that blossoms into something unexpectedly. I’ve been in my share of strip clubs. The women who work there are as varied as the women you find any another occupation. If they appreciate nudity and all things sexy like I do, I can see that as being a good foundation for love.
For now, these places are just educated guesses. Whenever or wherever I meet the love of my life, I probably won’t realize it at first. When I do, I hope the moment is as special as the location. Romance can blossom in many different places. For certain people, some are just more fertile than others.
Filed under Jack Fisher's Insights, romance, sex in society
Daily Sexy Musing: Stormy Night Passion
What goes into setting up a sexy mood? The answer varies from person to person. I don’t doubt for a second that a setting I might find sexy would be a huge turn-off for others. I happen to think candle-lit comic book stores are an intimate setting. I imagine I’m in the minority in feeling that way.
However, I believe that some sexy settings have a more universal appeal. One such setting involves stormy nights. I’m not just talking about rainy days or a light drizzle at sunset. I’m talking about the kind of storms that roll in late at night and bring plenty of thunder with it.
For some, it can be scary, especially if you have pets or kids. Then again, it’s not unusual for our brains to misinterpret fear for something sexy. I can easily imagine our hunter/gatherer ancestors huddling together on a stormy night, trying to stay warm. I don’t think it would take much for that sort of scenario to get sexy.
Howling winds, pouring rain, and flashy lightning is one of nature’s most basic spectacles. It’s only fitting that such a special could trigger some of our most basic instincts as well, including the sexy ones. With that in mind, I hope this Daily Sexy Musing gives you and your lover something to contemplate the next time you’re at home on a stormy night. Enjoy!
The rain pours harder.
The wind howls faster.
The lightning flashes brighter.
The thunder echoes louder.
In the darkest hours of the night, we find ourselves in the center of a storm. There is no peaceful quiet under the night sky. Nature is at its most volatile, reminding us we are under its whim and at its mercy. Within that chaos, we huddle together closer.
Only four walls and a roof protect us from such harsh elements. A few inches of material stand between us and nature’s wrath. We can do nothing to temper it. Our only hope is to wait it out. Under darkened skies, however, hope clashes with other feelings.
Out of fear, we huddle closer.
Seeking comfort, we embrace.
Feeling restless, we offer support.
From support, we evoke another reaction.
Nature won’t let us rest. If night affords us no serenity, then why should we offer ours? The world bellows with primal forces. Why not tap into our own? Together, behind these walls, and surrounded by danger, the heavens are daring us to start a storm of our own.
We answer the call.
We shed our clothes.
We slip under the covers.
We unleash a torrent of passion.
Harder and harder, faster and faster, we make our own commotion in the latest hours of the night. Like the winds and rain outside, we are neither gentle nor peaceful. We dare to be loud and reckless, not caring what peace we may shatter. Our love is a product of nature, but our lust is the storm that helped forge it. This time, we let the storm rage.
Daily Sexy Musing: Toned Muscles
We resist working out, but we’re hopelessly attracted to fit, sexy bodies. It’s ironic, but understandable. A fit, toned body takes work and not everyone is willing to put in that work. I’ve admitted before that I did not put in that work for a good chunk of my life. I’ve since come to appreciate the added sex appeal of fit, toned muscles on my body and others.
I’m no male model, but I’m not afraid to flex a little in front of a mirror. It’s not just that toned muscles look good. They reflect the work, sacrifices, and dedication that people put into forging them. Building muscle and losing weight is hard. There’s a reason why it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. However, it’s work that’s worth doing.
The fruits of that labor often show in intimate moments. Whether it’s a tender embrace or full-blown foreplay, toned muscles definitely add something to our collective sex appeal. In our own bodies and that of our lovers, toned muscles are a sign that we’re willing to put in the work so that they want to see us naked. That kind of commitment perfectly complements the best kinds of love.
I know it’s not possible for everyone to get fit beyond a certain point. The human body is a beautiful, but flawed system and many struggle to manage theirs for reasons that aren’t entirely their fault. It’s for that very reason, though, that toned muscles carry an extra level of sex appeal and this Daily Sexy Musing is just one way of highlighting that. Enjoy!
It takes sweat.
It takes strain.
It takes sacrifice.
In the end, it’s all worth it when I shed my clothes and show you the fruits of my labor. Your reaction is proof that I did something right and for the best possible reasons. From the soft purr in your voice to the glean in your eyes, I can tell you like what you see. I also sense you seek to do more than just watch.
I move in closer.
I welcome your touch.
I guide your hand around my hard, toned muscles.
I let your reaction speak for itself.
Your smile widens and so does mine. Briefly, I forget about the hours of lifting, sprinting, and grunting through constant fatigue. The meals I had to skip and the food I had to eat become a distant memory. Your touch and the desire in your gaze reminds me of the goals I’d laid out. Some were for me, but others were for us.
To be wanted is challenging enough, but to be desired on such a strong, intimate level takes hard work and grit. I had to push myself to be someone you wanted to want. I put in the work to give you something to touch, taste, and crave on a primal level. To you, my beauty is my gift to you and I want you to cherish it.
With every graze of your fingers, I feel your affection.
With every caress of your hand, I sense your arousal.
With every kiss of your lips, I exercise a new set of muscles.