Dear Chump Lady,
Today was the 30th day since my 2.5 year long divorce nightmare ended. And, tonight I’m feeling certain that I know a fundamental truth about women that I DO NOT want to believe. Tonight I am convinced that almost all women see men as a means to a shallow ends. Will he provide me enough, will he praise me enough, will he stay good looking enough, will he raise my social status enough, etc… and when he no longer does, will I still be young enough to find a replacement, when this man has served all the purposes I have for him now.
I know the fellow chump ladies would say, that is what their NPD would say of them. I know it is not just a female issue, there are sucky men out there. (Although, I don’t know them, while almost all my male friends have been put through hell by women like that).
I don’t want to be a bitter old man (I’m 50 now). I don’t want to be a misogynist. But, tonight, that feels like the real truth. That women see men not as mates, but as stepping stones, that mean no more than the dirt they wipe on them from their expensive high heeled shoes, as they walk all over the subservient, codependent men, on their way to their selfish version of happiness.
Please, CL, and the ladies of your blog, put me in my place, and tell me I am wrong. Before I become the bitter old misogynist I don’t want to be.
Excuse me, before I can answer your letter, I need to remove my Manolo Blahniks and stab some sniveling man with my heel. (I find that’s the best way to remove the dirt.) Ah, happiness! Next, I shall peruse the glossy holiday catalog that just arrived “Gold Digger — Upgrading Stylishly!” where I will page through pages of handsome profiles, (Biff Biffson, internet entrepreneur! Nils Hunkgren ski instructor! Walter Greedsnort, commodities trader!) and look at my husband askance to see if he measures up. Hmm. Lawyer. This is good. Hmmm. Wardrobe. Not so good. Maybe I could trade him in for a man who wears French cuff shirts.
But let’s get real, Steve, is a man with gold cufflinks, a guy who will buy me all the Manolo Blahniks I deserve — is he going to be interested in squigdy, middle-aged me? Maybe, if he’s 70 or something, and not that discerning. But to get the quality chump — you know, the sort of guy who will let me bleed him dry — I need to up my game. So before I chuck my clueless husband, first I’ll soak him for a gym membership and some liposuction. Straighten my hair, botox my inner thighs, shellac my eyebrows, pluck my ears, and exfoliate my elbows. Once made over, I’m the kind of flaky sexpot Walter Greedsnort could never resist.
Oh so what if there are 1,700 facsimiles of me profiled in the glossy catalog men get “Bimbos Better Than Your Wife” (Mindy Muffet, shop girl! ZseZse Planck, masseuse! Bitsy Drake, artful accessory! Inoffensive and nice to look at! And she doubles as a houseplant!) That’s what you men want, isn’t it? A pretty face, big boobs, and willing orifices?
No? You’re not like that? You want more? You want a friend too? A spiritual connection? A person who will sit through a Cubs game with you and like it? Someone to grow old with? The kind of gal who makes an effort but doesn’t spend $120 each week on elbow exfoliation?
Yes we exist, Steve. Of course we exist. And nice men exist too. Men who are more than the sum of their wallets.
You’re just having a fit that’s common to chumps at times — the I Hate the Entire Gender, They’re All Like My Crappy Ex.
You know why you’re feeling that way? Because it’s easier than feeling like a chump.
Hey, if the game is rigged, if they’re ALL like that, well you were never vulnerable, you never have to examine your picker, this is just How It Is. It’s inevitable that you were going to get played, because true love and commitment don’t exist. It’s just a shell game. HA! Now you’re on to them — and you won’t get conned again. Everyone who “loves” is going to get suckered, but not you!
Sorry Steve. Love is risk. You know when people are most prone to superstition? When they feel like they have no control. They create little rituals, or belief systems to give them a sense of control, to predict their futures. Don’t step on cracks on the sidewalk and Bad Things Won’t Happen. Avoid Green People, they’re all crooks and muggers. Touch the light switch 7 times, and your mother won’t die.
All Women Suck is just your stupid superstition. It’s not true. Some women suck, absolutely. Some women are gems. It’s up to you to fix your picker and learn to discern better. Judge people on their character, look for signs of entitlement. Value reciprocity in your relationships over the perfectly shellacked eyebrow and botoxed thigh. Don’t be shallow, and don’t attract shallow.
Is this a perfect solution? It’s the best I’ve got for you. Because life isn’t risk free. All you can control in this world is yourself. If someone mistreats you, you deal with that. You protect yourself. You don’t go all chumpy. You had the misfortune of being cheated on, you learn from it.
But don’t wall off your heart, Steve. Don’t close it to the millions of people out there who are not duplicitous and shallow. Who love with their whole hearts. Whose squigdy middle agedness might rock your world. You don’t know.
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite artists Alice Neel:
You should keep on painting no matter how difficult it is, because this is all part of experience, and the more experience you have, the better it is… unless it kills you, and then you know you have gone too far.
Keep painting, Steve.