How to Pick a Lover

The game is not worth the candle.
—Michel de Montaigne, Essays

You have met a man, an attractive man, an interesting man. He moves with assurance and has a gleam in his eye. He speaks your name like a song and dances like a dream and reminds you of the gypsy rover who was always supposed to be coming over the hill but never did. He is interested but does not press you too quickly. He is attentive, but not overwhelming. Wow! Now what? Well now, you play a game of wait and see. You know what he seems like. What is he really like?

The first step in picking a lover is to screen out those men who are obvious losers. As delightful as it may be to have a lover, there are some men who are such unlikely prospects that entering into a relationship with them is not very likely to be worth the costs in terms of emotional distress, disenchantment, or actual danger.

The most obvious of the obvious losers are the mentally unbalanced. Most women are taught from an early age to be wary of strangers who seem to be paranoid or emotionally unstable or who have delusions or obsessions. These men signal, in many ways, that they are not likely to behave as ordinary, sane, and therefore more or less predictable human beings.

More dangerous than the obvious misfits are men who seem to be ordinary citizens but who have some characteristics which render their potential as worthwhile companions and lovers very low. They present hazards because, in some circumstances, a woman may find herself embroiled in an affair before she fully realizes the kind of man she is dealing with.

One young woman I know was attracted to a mysteriously mystic young man, with staring hypnotic eyes, who talked a lot about the occult. Since many aspiring members of the counterculture are interested in the occult, just as they
are interested in bean sprouts and granola, she did not pay much attention. It was not until they were in bed together that she discovered a small tattoo in the form of a satanic symbol. And it was not until after she asked him about
it that she discovered that he was not only a practicing warlock—a male witch—but was actively involved with one of the more fanatical satanic cults. She was able to make a prudent retreat, but other unaware young women have found themselves accidentally embroiled in rituals and rites far beyond their experience or their ability to cope.

There are many distant early warning signs of impending trouble. Fortunately, except in the case of a true psychopath, men who are going to be trouble usually tell you about it in advance, if you are only wise enough to listen carefully. Psychiatrists talk about “listening with the third ear,” which simply means attending to communication on many levels—verbal and nonverbal, explicit and implicit—and taking your own intuitions seriously.

Among the men one might specifically guard against are the misogynist, the closeted homosexual, the predator, and the incipiently violent man. Different women have different levels of tolerance for the bizarre, but for everyone, there is a point where weird and wonderful simply become a bad choice.

As an aside, I am not suggesting that all homosexual men per se are obvious losers. My focus here is on the closeted homosexual. As a straight woman, a lover relationship with a closeted homosexual who has a strong desire to pass as “straight” is not likely to be a positive experience for you or him.

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Comments on: "How to Pick a Lover: Screening Out the Obvious Losers" (2)

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