Schrödinger’s Man

Schrodinger’s Man: A man who is both a protector and also scared of the person he is apparently protecting.

This week my best friend moved to North Queensland to start her first job as a newly graduated Marine Biologist. Her partner is fully supportive of her and her career, and together they are on their way to creating an exciting new life in the tropics.

This week I also came across a video on Instagram by a content creator who goes by the tag Professor Chesko or ‘thespeechprof’, who describes himself as ‘Dad, Husband, Professor’ and provides social commentary on other influencers/content creators, often on the topic of toxic masculinity. This particular video featured an American man with a greying goatee giving insight into dating a ‘masculine man’, and why such a man finds confidence in a woman to be a major turnoff. Here is a the transcript of the video:

Masculine Man: ‘If you want to date a masculine man, do not show up as ‘accomplishment-forward’…

The Speech Prof: ‘Now your first reaction here is is gonna be ‘wow’, that guy is really insecure, and you’d be right…’

Masculine Man: ‘Given the difference between ‘soft and broke’ and ‘hard and rich’ we will pick soft and broke. Because we don’t need rich. We are the providers and protectors.’

The Speech Prof: ‘To be fair, there is a lot of self awareness there. In order to be a provider and protector, you need to seek out a woman with no accomplishments, unable to provide for herself so you can to maintain that illusion, because you realise how little you have to offer.’

Masculine Man: ‘If you are leading with accomplishment and its working, you’re probably attracting emasculated men…’

The Speech Prof: ‘You heard it here, if a man is not intimidated by your strength and your confidence and your accomplishments, he’s emasculated. Real masculine men are terrified of strong women.’

The commentary continues in the comments:

‘I stand by that their desired woman is little more than a ‘hostage that cooks and cleans’.

‘What he means is, if you aren’t weak and broke, he isn’t needed and can’t control you.’

‘And these are the men who become incels and blame women for not wanting to be with them (eye roll emoji).’

‘This could be titled ‘Man proves sexuality is NOT a choice’ because if this is what the dating pool looks like no woman would choose heterosexuality’.

This last comment in particular speaks into the theme of my blog post today.

Let me give you a brief insight into my personal history of dating and relationships…

I spent the majority of my 20s in a long-term relationship.

I started my first serious relationship five months after turning eighteen. We met on a dating site (yes, they were websites back then), which was still taboo at the time. I was with that guy for two and a half years. I met the man who would be my next partner three weeks later, on a drunken night out with friends drowning my sorrows over my break-up.

I was just shy of 21 when I started seeing this guy. As I progressed through my 20s, I started to discovered who I really wanted to be. I wanted to write and travel. They were the two most important things to me. Not marriage or kids. No white picket fence was going to keep me in.

I was with my long-term partner for almost nine years, four of those engaged. We split up in early 2019.

It has been a real journey the past four years being out in the world on my own.

In 2021, after a lot of growth and a lot of healing, I decided to dip my toe back into the wild world of dating. It was a very different world to what I remembered from 2010.

A decade earlier Tinder hadn’t even been released. Now, dating apps were the way to go. So I downloaded a few (except Tinder- I have never ventured there). I created profiles I felt gave a holistic summary of me as a person in the limited space provided for my bio: I am a writer, an aerial and hula hoop entertainer, I practice yoga and meditation, I enjoy live comedy and music and spending time in the great outdoors. I don’t fit in a box (not a contortionist- I was very proud of that line!). I didn’t want to blow my own trumpet, but I honestly thought all of these things would be interesting to a man. After all, how many hula hooping crime writers do you come across in your life?

And why wouldn’t you want a self sufficient partner? I thought gold diggers are frowned upon. Turns out, they are the most appealing kind of woman to many men.

I first realised this might be the case while dating Dave. He was my second dating app date, and at first it seemed to be going really well. He was tall, tanned and fit. He had a wicked sense of humour, like me. We had a lot to talk about, especially as we were both into spirituality. I proudly shared with him that I was a circus entertainer, and he flinched. I was surprised at first, and should have been concerned. In fact, I should have run a mile in the other direction.

Over the month that I dated Dave, he actively tried to make me stop my circus training. He would attempt to sabotage this part of my life by making me run late to a class. He refused to be intimate after I had been training, claiming my body was ‘too tense for him to work with’. Again and again he tried to convince me to give up circus, even just for a month. When I asked him why, he could never give me a straight answer, but he did allude to the fact it was dangerous, and I suspected that he must have witnessed someone getting hurt doing something similar. He stated that historically circus performers were considered ‘outsiders’ and on the fringes of society, and that wasn’t a good look (this was clearly a projection of shame around his own life, and some aspect of himself that had been rejected). He also tried to use my writing as a means to pull me down out of the air, suggesting that quitting circus would give me more time to work on my books. I stood firm and refused to quit, and requested that he stop asking me to do so. In turn he asked me not to visit him after training sessions.

It all came to a messy end after a month. I was having some troubles with my housemates and he suggested I move in with him. There was no way I was going to do that: he was overbearing enough as it was when I stayed with him overnight, and I knew it would be a nightmare living with him 24/7. He decided rather than support me through my challenges, that he didn’t want me bringing my ‘negativity’ into his space and announced he didn’t want to see me anymore. (He subsequently came crawling back two weeks later, at which time I accused him of having a messiah complex and told him I hoped he got the help he very clearly needed.)

I did give up circus for a few years in my mid-twenties- way before Dave- due to having a part-time job that inhibited my ability to commit to gigs, and also feeling like I needed to choose between circus and writing. I always felt that there was this time limit on how long I had to ‘prove myself’ as a successful writer, which stemmed from growing up with family members, mostly men, who were strongly opposed to my love of storytelling, which has been with me since before I could even write. In the year following the split with my long-term partner, I finally came to accept that my life’s purpose wasn’t necessarily attached to earning money, and for the first time in my life I felt empowered to embrace my creativity. I was responsible and paid my bills, but I made writing and circus a priority again.

I started on my dating journey ready and willing to meet someone new, and I would discover I still had a long way to go on my journey of growth. As proud as I was of who I had become, I still felt inadequate when I told men about my creative approach to life, the shadow of disapproval still hanging over me. These insecurities still rear their ugly head, but I am mindful of them now, and care less about what anyone thinks, including men I date.

I was, and continue to be sometimes, quite self conscious of the way I live my life. My lack of a ‘traditional’ career and overall life path was what I thought would be a turnoff to guys. But it turns out, even if I did have a traditional career, that would be a turn-off too!

After a year’s solid effort riding the rollercoaster of modern dating, I decided to take a break and deleted all the apps. I felt despondent, fearing that I’d never find anyone. I was disappointed by the notion that my life passions, and all of these beautifully random activities that were involved in living those passions, was actually a turn-off to men. This notion cemented my feelings of worthlessness and being unlovable. I had read articles and listened to interviews with women, who were highly educated and successful, who described having to downplay their achievements in the online dating world to get any response at all. They had removed ‘Marine Biologist’ from their dating profile and put ‘waitress’ instead, and watched the matches roll in. I find two things incredibly sad about this: that a woman has to dumb herself down, and that someone working in the service industry would be considered ‘dumb’.

I have always been hopelessly optimistic, but the modern dating game brought out a cynical side in me that I did not like. Despite this, I still hold onto hope that there is a man out there who will embrace all that I am. Award-winning writer, President of a not-for-profit organisation, passionate traveller, circus entertainer. I won’t settle for anything less.

Me unashamedly holding my first international writing recognition, as a finalist of the Wild Atlantic Writing Awards (Ireland)

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