Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Girls without Girlfriends

When I decided to move to Chicago, my brother generously offered to let me stay with him (he has a three-story condo) until I figured out what neighborhood I wanted to sign a lease in.

So the other day, I was enjoying a rare night of weeknight TV on the couch when I heard the familiar sound of my brother's key turning the lock of the back door.

Only this time, there was an unfamiliar sound accompanying the routine noise.

A woman's voice.

I listened in shock.

Could it possibly be?

Brov was bringing home the woman he's been seeing!

Quick background: Brov has been seeing a woman for over a year. They seem happy. I hear them on the phone all the time. I helped him pick out her Christmas gifts. He refers to her in everyday conversations.

But since I moved here in December, I had NEVER seen her at our place. Not once.

I asked Brov about it at one point, and he initially explained that she had family visiting from out of the country and needed to stay home with them. (???)

And then later, he leveled with me:

"She gets along better with guys. She doesn't really do well with women."

Ahhh, she's one of those girls, I thought, reminding myself of a personal belief I've held for some time:

I don't trust a girl with no girlfriends.

Now first, to be fair, I acknowledge that any significant other my Brov chooses will have a tough time. He has two younger sisters who are super close and who adore their brother and thus have high standards.

That said, I just think every woman should be able to at least chat comfortably with other women.

True, women can be more caddy, judgmental, unforgiving and overly analytical than men.

We notice cute shoes. We compare bodies. We read into things that don't need to be read into.

But that doesn't mean women uncomfortable with these qualities should abandon the gender all together.

Because beyond all that inital Mean Girls stuff, other women can also be the most nurturing, empathetic, supportive and just plain fun girls to have. Cyndi Lauper didn't write the song for nothin'.

It's easy to be the one chick hanging out with a bunch of dudes. I have lots of guy friends, and admit it is fun being the only girlie one in the room -- the one getting all the attention.

However at the end of the day, I'm proudest of my friendships with girlfriends. Because those are the ones that have been tested and earned.

If you can keep at least a girlfriend or two, I think it says something about your mental toughness. It proves you are secure enough to penetrate to that level.

So when I heard my Brov's anti-girlfriend girlfriend in the kitchen the other night, I decided to give it my best girl scout try to reach out to her.

In total scrubby sweatpants, with no makeup on, I walked upastairs and said "hi."

The anti-girlfriend girlfirend seemed a little caught off guard, but I did my best to show her I'm harmless and friendly.

After a few minutes, I dismissed myself and went to bed.

I have no idea if the gesture will help inspire the anti-girlfriend girlfriend to change her ways. I'd love it if maybe it started to make her see that women aren't always over analytical and scary.

And maybe I'm reading too much into this. But she did come back over the very next evening.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Daddy's Girl Curse

The other day, I took a drive out to my parents' house in the suburbs.

As I sat down to a plate of my mom's cooking, Dad snuck off with my car (Gus) for a short while. Eventually, he joined us at the table and we went on with dinner.

I didn’t realize what my Dad had done in that window of time until I drove home and looked at the dashboard.

My gas tank was all the way full. Dad had gone out to fill it up, even though I never asked for it.

I was touched and grateful for the gesture, of course. But I can’t say I was surprised.

Since my sister and I were little girls, we could always count on our Dad to spoil us.

When we fell asleep watching TV downstairs, he’d carry us to our bedrooms at night. Our mom would scold,“You’re too big to be carried. Your dad will throw out his back.”

But Dad never complained. Even when I was fake sleeping.

Right after college, my Roommate, S.Anne, asked me to be the maid of honor in her wedding. On the day we agreed to shop for bridesmaid dresses, I planned to drive three hours to meet the girls in S. Anne’s hometown.

Dad volunteered to ride with me, just so I’d have company. On the way there, I told him I couldn’t believe he was willing to give up the day to be in a car.

“Hey,” he said. “You should never put a measure on the things you’ll do for the people you love.”

Maybe this all sounds really sappy, but there’s a point to my nostalgic rambling. Lately, I’ve been thinking about my Dad’s consistent doting, and I wonder:

Have I been unrealistically looking for a man who will treat me as well as my father?

They always say that women tend to look for guys like their dads.

But how could there possibly be a man who literally never gets mad at me; who laughs at all my dumb jokes; who would drop whatever he’s doing to do what I wanted?

I know I’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing father, and that there really is nothing to be complaining about here.

Except that I think I may now have a messed up view of what I should expect from a partner.

Because, really, how could I ever expect a strong, successful man to have nothing going on but thoughts of me? Who am I to expect a guy to think I’m perfect, when obviously, no one is?

I brought this up to my friend McConnell the other day, and she said she’s had similar thoughts. She, too, is Daddy’s Little Girl.

She said the way she’s made peace with the topic is this: we can’t be looking for guys who treat us like our Dads, because Daddy/daughter love is totally different from man/wife love.

McConnell said she thinks it’s smarter for us to look for someone who is a great partner, who may potentially love a future daughter in the way that we know well.

I think that sounds about right.

I’m happy to report that I’m now dating a pretty great guy, someone who definitely comes as close to treating me like Dad as anyone I’ve ever experienced.

But if there are days he’s not able to drop everything for me, I guess I'm going to have to cut him some slack.

And take a drive out to the suburbs.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Price of Butterflies

A few years ago, a friend of the family gave me some advice that didn't sit well with me.

She told me it's better to marry someone you like who has money, rather than someone you love who has none.

Her reasoning went something like this: If you like a man and you end up in a relationship where you're comfortable and have everything you could ever want, the love will come eventually.

If you love a man and you end up in a relationship where you're uncomfortable and always longing, the love will go away eventually.

I hated this idea. I thought, what a shallow and unromantic view of how to find your soul mate!

I especially hated the idea because money never crossed my mind when it came to dating. I mean, sure, I didn't go out with homeless guys. But I also never cared if we went out to Zaffiro's or Sanford.

Fast forward to today.

My friend Michael and his wife are getting a divorce. They seemed to be a perfect match a few years ago. Then they maxed out their credit cards. Michael got a second job to help pay some of the high interest rates. They cut back on everything – a $5 Little Ceasar's pizza was a splurge.

And just when things couldn't get any tighter, they found out they were going to have their second child.

Soon, the stress of the baby, the unpaid bills, and just the inability to do anything fun that cost money got the best of them. They fought incessantly, stopped talking, and now pretty much hate each other.

I hate this idea. But it happened. And, combined with other things I've been seeing, it makes me wonder if I need to reconsider the whole money factor in relationships.

Other things:

--Relationship experts say financial problems are the #1 reason couples break up.

--I know some well-off couples that didn't seem nearly as in love on their wedding days as Michael and his wife. But they're going strong.

-- Money has been a factor in some of my past break-ups. Sometimes I wonder, if there was tons of it around, would the relationships still have crumbled?

Distressed about the whole topic, I took the subject to my friend Bria's new apartment to dissect over wine and pizza.

"I can see some truth in what your family friend was saying, but I just don't think it's that simple," Bria said.

Bria noted that people who marry just out of like and money pay a price – they never get to experience true passion and butterflies for someone.

That's true, I was relieved to agree.

But I also feel like it's probably naïve to not take any of the family friend's wisdom into account.

So, I guess I'd revise the advice to say this:

It's easier to marry someone you love who has money, than it is to marry someone you love who does not.

Because money can put a huge stress on relationships. But in the end, butterflies still can't be bought.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Same Guy?

So maybe it's not just me that's falling for this trick. Hahaha. Have a great weekend everybody - and watch out for those scam artists. :o)

WEDNESDAY, April 2, 2008, 12:20 p.m.
By Linda Spice

UWM students warned about scam

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee police are warning local students not to give strangers rides in cars.

Investigators say a man has scammed at least four people in recent weeks in a ruse in which he told them he was out of gas and needed a ride. Once he is in the car, he then asks to borrow money, then takes off.

The most recent case was reported on Sunday when a UWM student who was leaving the Architecture and Urban Planning building was approached about 9:28 p.m. by someone who asked for a ride to a gas station because he was out of gas. Once the man was in the student's car, the man asked to borrow $20, which the student gave to him.

The man directed the student to drive him to Locust and Richards Streets and then to Providence Ave. and Newhall St., where the man got out of the car and ran.

UWM police put out an alert to students on Tuesday and have started receiving more complaints from students who provided a similar description of a white male, about 21 to 23 years old and about 5-feet-9. He was last seen wearing jeans and a dark jacket. The victim from Sunday's case said the man told him his name was Chris.

UWM police Capt. Michael Marzion said investigators are working to tie all of the cases together. He said there is no indication that any of the victims was threatened, and no one reported any injuries.

He said police put out the alert this week "to tell people not to do this."

"Realize that anything you offer people like this, you stand a great chance of losing it," he said.

He said although the students have shown "a spirit of wanting to help" that "he's taking advantage of their kindness."