A Good Man is Hard to Find

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‘‘From the way that people have always talked about your heart being broken, it sort of seems to be a one-time thing. Mine seemed to break all the time.’’ ~ Heather O’Neill, Lullaby for Little Criminals

The other Friday, I met with my friend to hang out and we had a lot to talk about. She told me about what happened with her since the last time that we saw each other. She had slept with a young man and the two became a little more than cordial, but when she left to visit Toronto she never heard from him again. I was furious when she told me. “Why do guys act like this?” I said. “It’s like everything’s good and all of a sudden they disappear.”
“I know that I shouldn’t have given it to him in the first place,” she said. “But I like sex!”

Why it is the woman who should withhold sex, even if she feels like it? Unfortunately, I have found that there are a lot of assholes out there, a large number of which are disguised as great guys.

They say that three’s a trend. In my case, the last three boys I have been involved with have all pretended that I didn’t exist afterwards. And all of those guys were friends of friends and seemed like good guys upfront. Clearly, I was mistaken.

The first guy was my friend’s roommate. In August, I went to her birthday party and ended up spending a lot of time with him on his balcony. It was raining outside, and I was still hanging out, putting off going home in the rain without an umbrella even though I lived two street corners away. He kissed me after everybody left. And one thing led to another…
When I left the apartment the next morning, I felt pleasurably high because it had been months of abstinence. When I went home, it was still raining, but the warm drops felt good.
We spoke a week later after we both came back to town. He gave me his phone number so that we could meet each other later that night. I tried to contact him a couple of times, to no avail.
The next day, he finally wrote me back, blaming his allergies and the fact that his friend was heartbroken. ‘‘Even the girl at the pharmacy laughed at me this morning.’’ I accepted his excuse. A day later, I hadn’t heard back from him and our time was running out. I had to leave Montreal and so did he.
Slightly pissed off, I confronted him (something I usually avoid doing on the Internet, but hey, I was tipsy and frustrated). He repeated the same excuses over and over again. I told him that I understood, but that we only had two days left to see each other. He never answered, and has been travelling around the country ever since.

I met the second guy at a college bar in London, Ontario. Kevin was the friend of a friend of a friend, and he was sitting there with a nice shirt on (somewhat a rarity in the small-scale city). We spoke for a bit and he didn’t waste any time to flirt with me. He gave me a glass of beer, we danced, and he held my waist. I was practically sober but the attention was appreciated. I remember thinking that it was too easy to be true, and unfortunately it was.

After two hours of sweaty dance moves, I wanted to leave and so did he. We left the crowded bar and on the street, he asked me if I wanted to come over. I took a few seconds to answer because I wasn’t sure. And frankly, I should have said no. When it comes to boys, my new rule is: when in doubt, say no. But at that point, I felt like I could do with some company, so I said yes.

The apartment itself should have been a warning sign. It was a total bro pad, with tacky posters of New York City adorning the white living room walls. There were no books in sight, and when I see none, I always think about that brilliant John Waters quote: ‘‘If you go to somebody’s house and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.’’ An excellent piece of advice.

Anyhow, I was sitting next to Kevin on his couch, and we were having a good talk about sports, our lives and languages. He was telling me that my English was excellent, better than a great number of Anglophones, despite it being my second language. He probably said that to get into my pants. Again, I should have left, but I stayed. We went to his bed. It was nice to feel his body warmth, but I didn’t want to have sex with him. When he started getting more intense, I stopped him in his tracks.

“I would prefer not to sleep with you. Last time I slept with someone it didn’t go down so well.”
“But I want you,” he said.
So I gave in. I shouldn’t have. I gave in because his dick was hard and the blood flow was rushing to his head, making him lose focus. He wasn’t even good in bed.
The next day, I left bright and early. ‘‘You’re gonna call me, right?’’ I asked insecurely as I was leaving, to which he nodded. But he never said yes.

A couple of hours later, angst grew on me and I intuited that he would not call. I started playing “Fuck and Run” by Liz Phair over and over again. It comforted me in my sadness. ‘‘I didn’t think this would happen again, with or without my best intentions,’’ she sings. Sigh. I felt silly and regretful, but it was over with and there was nothing I could do but wait. I wasn’t that much into him, but I still needed to talk to him again. I realized that I can’t do one-night stands anymore. I need to see the person again to have a sense of closure. But he never called.

I hate when men suddenly ignore women, especially if they said that they’ll call or that we’ll hang out. It pisses me off even more when they push for sex, and then pretend that they don’t know your name. I’m not saying that people should marry everyone they sleep with, but being respectful and honest goes a long way. As my friend Roseline said, ‘‘they’re not able to realize that their acts impact others.’’

The third man initially rejected me, as if the red flag wasn’t large enough. But a month later, back in Montreal, he added me on Facebook. Clearly puzzled, I accepted and started an online conversation because I just didn’t get it. We chatted for a bit, he told me that I was funny and he invited me out for a drink.

I went to meet him at his place and we talked on his couch. We were both a little shy, but my shyness is manifested in more chatter. We were wondering where to go so I suggested a bar up the street for the dim lights and the good music. We had two beers, and we each paid a round, which was another red flag. When the waiter came with the second round, I counted 1,2,3 in my head before taking my wallet out. I looked at him and he was looking down.

Most women I know think that men should pay on first dates. A philosophy teacher once told my class that men should pay on first dates because of women’s inherent biological intuition. If a man pays on the first date, it shows that he can provide and can be trusted for the long term. A theory I adhere to.

But back to the date. Our conversation was flowing. He was smart yet cynical, and highly attractive. I was asking him questions, trying to pierce his mystery. We left the bar, smoked a joint in the street and he held my hand because I was having trouble walking in my heels after all of this. It was romantic.

We hung out in his room under a red light, talking and kissing. Because of my two previous experiences, I didn’t want to sleep with him on the first night. (And thank God I didn’t.) I told him that the two guys I had previously slept with didn’t call me back.
‘‘Poor little one,’’ he replied with a smirk on his face. I could not interpret whether this was empathetic or misogynist, but I thought that he understood how I felt.
He was sweet and sexy and held me for most of the night.

The next morning he told me that he didn’t sleep well.
‘Why?’’ I wondered.
‘‘Because you were in my bed,’’ he replied with a smile.
He was in bit of a grumpy morning mood. I was annoying him simply by touching his face. I finally got him out of the bed a little after noon. I asked him for a coffee and told him that I would be on my way because I had a friend to meet and I was already way behind schedule. We sipped coffee and orange juice while listening to an up-and-coming electro band. We kissed for a good two minutes before I left.

I went home with butterflies in my stomach. Two days later, I was still thinking about him and so I asked if we would see each other again before my departure to Ontario. ‘‘Let’s hang out when you’re back,’’ he said.

I was coming back a month later, and our future date seemed like a distant dream for all of October. I spent the month obsessing about him, stalking him on social media, re-playing our date in my head over and over again. I felt sick many times throughout the month, as if my body was telling me that something was wrong.

I didn’t feel any trust. I was suffering from his indifference and from my romantic ideals. I was holding on to something that didn’t exist. When I’m playing ‘‘How will I know?’’ by Whitney Houston over and over again and I’m singing it at the top of my lungs, I know that I’ve gone too far.

I complimented him on his blog via Facebook chat once. He replied two days later, brushing it off, not saying thank you. Then, three weeks later, I wrote to him because I was coming back to Montreal. I just mentioned that I was in town. No reply.

Love mixed with social media obviously adds to the lethal cocktail of dating in 2014. The entitlement generation I am a part of ignores each other more often than not and fails to make plans (or cancels them) on the regular. Friends do that to friends, lovers do that to lovers, and strangers do that to strangers. So that’s also part of the problem, and it’s not only about women. Two of my guy friends recently protested when I spoke about the issue. They said that things like this happen to them as well.

Eventually we connected and he replied that he was willing to out for a coffee. I answered and tried to arrange a time, but he never agreed.

It becomes stressful to communicate when you witness the object of your affection online on Facebook. Talking to him too much could kill things quickly, but not talking to him could lead to nothing at all. I’ve had endless conversations with my best friend about how e-communication is tricky. Online chat traps us. ‘‘What should I type next?’’ we wonder to each other in various states of despair.

The problem with silent treatments is that it drives the other person insane. It happened to me a couple times before, and in most cases, I’ve had the opportunity to put guys back in their places. They have apologized because they have realized that their behaviour was stupid. They came to understand that silent treatments are awful. Indeed, they are a form of psychological violence and manipulation.

A couple of nights ago, I was watching a panel on the CBC. They were talking about how ‘‘women are afraid of coming forward’’ after being assaulted. I would argue that it’s the same with women who have been wronged: they are afraid to speak up.

If they do, they will likely be portrayed as crazy, sentimental and manipulative. I have been discouraged to speak up many times. My friend Kyle told me not to write to Kevin and to ‘‘spend your energy on your new guy.’’ Look how that turned out.

On the one hand, it is true that spending energy on a loser is a waste of time. On the other hand, if nobody speaks up, everyone keeps treating each other like garbage and the world loses its humanity, one cold heart at a time.
Too many people prefer to pretend that everything’s cool or to ignore each other when they could be having a 10-minute conversation instead. It only requires a little courage and balls, something that many guys seem to miss. As Lily Allen sings, ‘‘forget your balls and grow a pair of tits, it’s hard out here for a bitch.’’

That being said, I’m conscious that not all boys are like this. I know that there are many wonderful men out there who know how to treat women like human beings and I have plenty of them around me.

That being said, it’s difficult not to be pissed off and sad. As always, I end up taking time off to be properly single, but loneliness creeps back in. The need for affection and intimacy strikes back.

Whatever happens, I’m going to take things slowly now. I don’t want to feel too invested, fooled or heartbroken for someone who can’t even care to reply. I know that I’ll eventually meet someone, but at the same time, I’m under no false impressions. I know that a good man is hard to find.


Photo: Olivia Palermo and Johannes Huebl for lifestylemirror.com

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Marrying Young

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I met my ex husband by eerie coincidence. I was nineteen years old and living in London, England on a working holiday visa. It was January 2008, and I was looking for a second job, possibly one of the worst moments in history to do so. My best friend was visiting me for three weeks and she was helping me look for work, paying special attention to adds in shop windows. We saw an ad on the window of an exotic-looking corner café. It was written in questionable French, and was looking for French lessons from a native speaker. ‘‘Inquire within,’’ it said. Without missing a beat, my best friend said, ‘’Let’s go!’’

We went in. I was surprised to discover that the person in question was a 23-year-old Polish boy wearing a purple American Apparel hoodie (it was still trendy at the time). We spoke for five minutes and he took my number in order to have a ‘‘trial lesson.’’

A week later, I showed up at another café on the same street.

He had all of his material prepared. All that I had to do was to speak to him in French and translate obscure expressions. My Quebec accent was challenging for him but he was up for the challenge. I found him very serious, but I could tell that he was a good person and that we would work well together.

A few months later, he told me: ‘‘I didn’t think you were the best teacher the first day. But you were so funny that I knew I had to see you again.’’

Twice a week, we met in a café for two hours where we tackled the difficulties of the French language. We spoke about our lives and so we became closer. My dating life at that point was horrible: I kept dating guys that didn’t want to be in a relationship, or slept with me and then ignored me, or other similar situations.

When I was with P., things were different. I felt a degree of trust I had not previously encountered.

One day, he invited me to his place for dinner. I arrived late. He kept texting me: ‘‘When are you coming?’’ I arrived dripping wet and very late. He was with chilling with his roommate in the living room. They had already eaten, but had kept food for me. His roommate wasn’t very talkative with me, and so we ended up continuing the conversation in P.’s bedroom. There was sexual tension growing between us. We got closer, almost to the point of kissing.

‘’I don’t know if it’s a good idea,’’ he said.

‘‘Yeah, but it’s hard to help it,’’ I answered.

We ended up kissing and sleeping together fully dressed, and he hugged me the whole night, not letting me go even once. I knew right then and there that he was a keeper. But I had a little problem: a week before, I had planned a date with a guy I had a crush on and it was scheduled for the next day. In the morning, P. asked to see me again that night, and stupidly I answered that I had a date. He became pissed off and jealous. I should have lied.

Our next lesson was scheduled for the next day. It was February 14th, 2009. I arrived at the café puzzled and sad because my date had abandoned me in the middle of the night and I felt very guilty for pissing P. off.

I had also lost my phone the night before. P. arrived an hour late. He had texted me but I didn’t receive it. He came wearing his black leather jacket, saying ‘‘I know it’s cheesy, but…’’ and proceeded to take out a single red rose from under his jacket. My heart melted. He had me. It took only a couple of dates to know that we were a new couple. He was the first guy to consistently take me out on dates to the restaurant, to the park, to bike rides around the city. We were two kids, expats living in East London, happy about having each other. I moved to his place three and a half months after the beginning of our relationship and it cemented our affections.

We began to have deep conversations about our future: I had to come back to Canada eventually as my visa was running out. I waited for him for a couple of months so he could have his temporary passport. We travelled to France together and hung out with my dad at a film festival for which he was the official photographer. We went to the beach and it was his first time there: he was glad I took him. We went to Paris, where he applied for a visitor visa and it got refused. We didn’t know what to make of the future quite yet.

We parted ways in Marseille, on a train platform, a scene reminiscent of a dramatic romance movie. I remember thinking that I might never see him again, or at least not for a while. The train left and I cried.

I got back to Montreal on a damp and depressing day. I was weirded out by everything about my hometown: its accents, its architecture, its culture. I had to learn how to live again. Meanwhile, P. moved to Berlin and applied for a long-term passport, which he was granted after a month and a half. He moved to Montreal on November 25th, 2009. We did not know that we would get married at that point. It was after many meetings with government immigration experts that we came to the conclusion that it would be the best option if we wanted to stay together.

We hashed and re-hashed the decision. We were scared as shit because we were very young and we had already made huge commitments to each other. First the move, now the wedding. We got married because we felt like family at that point. I got married because I wanted to have somebody to rely on, and to have somebody rely on me. To have a real exchange and commitment towards each other, as opposed to silly young loves that lead to nothing.

We got married on January 14th, 2010, on a cold and grey day. It was a lovely and small wedding, with only my best friends and my parents in attendance. We ate and we drank and laughed.

The next day after waking up, I knew that I had made the biggest decision of my life. I was happy but scared, and I think my intuition was on to something.

That winter was by far my harshest yet. While we were together, P. couldn’t work because he wasn’t on any visa that enabled him to. I was working part-time in a café. It was still the economic crisis and jobs were hard to find. Needless to say, we were broke, but it’s not like we weren’t trying.

A couple of months into our marriage, I came to the realization that I was not in love anymore. I was on my way home when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I remember going back home, taking a shower and crying, gasping for air.

P. was sad and became lazy. He wouldn’t get groceries when I gave him money to but preferred to spend the day staring at his laptop screen. He was an introvert, so he was mainly only friends with my friends. It was hard for him to get out of his cocoon. That being said, our couple dynamic became very hard to bear and I didn’t feel in love, but rather responsible. I turned twenty-one and I felt as though I had a child to take care of.

We moved to a new place that summer, and he was unhappy with it. We kept fighting. We finally separated on July 26th, 2010. He told me that there was work for him in London and that he could go back. I didn’t stop him. I had had enough. We had fought so much and we were in such a difficult situation that I needed fresh air, but yet I didn’t know how to live without him.

I was supposed to say goodbye to him the day after my best friend had thrown a huge party. I came home sad and hungover. The house was empty. Some of his stuff was there, so I assumed that he had just gone to the corner store or something. I started cleaning and waiting for him. Half an hour later, I realized that something was wrong. I went back to the bedroom and looked at the stuff he had left. I realized that he was gone. I gasped out loud and started crying.

I went outside to the pharmacy and to the grocery store to buy some food and cleaning supplies. I felt so vulnerable, like a baby bird venturing out of her nest for the first time.

I felt like I was coming out of a coma, a feeling I’ve never felt at any other time. As I was walking down the street, my florist stopped me. ‘‘Hey, what’s wrong? You look sad.’’ ‘’I just broke up with my boyfriend…’’ I answered.

‘‘There, there!’’ She started picking up flowers from various containers and putting them together to create a beautiful bouquet. She was now telling me about her own ex-husband and separation. ‘‘It’s better to be alone than to be with somebody that’s wrong for you,’’ she said. ‘‘It’s a beautiful day!’’ she said, and I smiled when I turned the corner. I was starting to feel free.

Getting over him and our failed marriage was not easy. In some ways, I feel that I will never completely get over it. But I’m happy that I got married young because I tested my limits and someone else’s. I had to grow up and learn how to be responsible fast. I also learned that fighting endlessly leads to nothing.

Two years ago, I saw P. again in London and I understood why I loved him but also why we are not together anymore. I care about him so much, but it’s another kind of love now, it’s like an old friend that I need to keep in touch with. It’s now been a little over four whole years that me and P. have been separated. It’s horrific how time flies. We are both realizing that now. We talked on the phone a couple of weeks ago. We still need to talk in order to update each other on our respective lives.

The reason why we haven’t divorced yet is simply because I am still a student and I don’t have the means to do so before finishing my Master next year. But I’m looking forward to divorce. I’m not scared. I know that it will be a private celebration between both of us. It will be a departure from our past and our lives chained together by the links of marriage.

We will meet up again, dress up and go out for lunch. We’ll have food, hang out and have a drink. It will assuredly bring a sense of closure. We will find our full freedom again. It’s going to be a new departure. Another cycle will begin. Who knows, I might even get married again.

Photo: Olivier Gariépy http://ogariepy.tumblr.com/

Lili Monette is a multidisciplinary entertainer and writer, and the Associate Editor of Blonde. She is currently a student in the Master of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.

Pushy is Not Passionate

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Cheyenne Jackson

Lately, as we see debate of women’s rights erupt even more so in the social media world I find myself contemplating what constitutes as acceptable and breaching women’s rights. Personally I wouldn’t say I am an extremist but I am a feminist if you must put a title on it. I try to avoid titles but the fact that there even is a term for belief in equality of women proves that there is still a need for awareness here. We don’t hear the term masculanism thrown around do we? Even if we did hear this it would likely not connect in our minds to any of the similar ideals of feminism.  Does it not also say something that spell check does not even recognize this word?

There are the main areas our minds jump to when we hear the phrase feminism but what if we are not even acknowledging the every day-to-day situations where we are pushed passed our boundaries of comfort and security; The moments we have begun to consider normality in our lives as females.

An issue we still face in society today is the belief of entitlement. I hate accepting a drink from a guy at the bar because I know where his mind is going. I have experienced men getting upset when I say no to an invitation home at the end of the night although I never asked for a drink nor did I lead them on with flirtatious suggestion. We do not deserve to be treated disrespectfully just because we are not giving you our bodies. In no manner does anyone have a right to what is yours. While at Sasquatch Music Festival I met a guy at a show one evening. In the beginning he seemed pretty cool so we made plans to meet up the next day but it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have much of a connection with him. For some reason I still let him kiss me but all of a sudden he came on extremely strong. When I told him I wanted to leave he made comments that I was no fun and not “freaky like I looked”. Sorry dude but I wasn’t trying to channel that I wanted to get freaky, possibly you shouldn’t make judgments?  He continued to stick with me for the next while as I continuously tried to brush him off.  I failed to stand up for myself in a reluctance to not be offensive, yet I was hearing constant criticism from him the more he realized that he was not getting anything. Whether female or male, no one deserves to be subjected to someone knocking you down. Why didn’t he walk away? Because he thought he might still get in my pants. Why didn’t I walk away? Because I was being an idiot. It took me until he actually shushed me and asked if I was going to fuck him or not to give a clear enough message and walk away.  I am not a supporter of misandry; I am no man hater that is for sure. I love men. I love people, but why in our modern world today do people so often still have such close minded outlooks and think they can treat others in such a manner.

To be honest in past situations I have slept with men just because I did not know how to stop it. I am sure I am not alone in this either. As crazy as that sounds I found it was almost easier to follow through with it than to build up the confidence to escape the situation. I saw this as a flaw in myself as media has brainwashed us to believe that this behavior in men can be acceptable, making the woman simply promiscuous for allowing it to happen. How corrupt is this idea? As a friend stated a great point to me, “We raise women to avoid and prepare for situations but we do not always raise men to deter from them.”

We need to change the way we approach this as a society. Men need to realize that consent is not lame to ask for but extremely desirable. Pushy is not passionate. Just because a girl may not have the confidence to say no does not mean she is saying yes. There are many areas in life that pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone can be rewarding but when it’s concerning our rights and feeling of self worth this is not one of them.

This is just one example of challenges women face but there are many occurrences in our lives we no longer even acknowledge as abnormal but have accepted as reality. Our perception of reality needs to change. In saying all of this I am not discrediting male rights in any matter as I believe bringing equal attention to this is also important in having equality for women. We need to view every category with equivalence. A fact brought to my attention recently was that more than 40% of domestic violence victims are male. A study was conducted to see the reaction of bystanders during female violence against a man and vice versa. People were quick to intervene in defense of the woman but laughed or ignored the situation when the male was victimized. We raise men from the beginning with phrases and ideologies that portray they must suppress their emotions and be dominant. We need to be conscious of how we are raising our children; the messages we are giving society. I like the quote from Gloria Steinem which states, ‘We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like daughters.’ There is an unrealistic expectation on both genders and if we can dissolve this and be more open with others in turn we may be more open with ourselves. Stand up for your rights but be mindful of others’. To find balance we need Yin and Yang. Moon and Sun. Feminine and Masculine. To find balance we need equality.

 

Cheyenne Jackson is a consciousness enthusiast from Calgary. Recently rediscovering her love for writing while blogging throughout travels in Asia. You can connect with Cheyenne on Her Instagram, ToukaKoukan or check out her blog, http://jinseiryoukou.wordpress.com