Gentlemen, behold: I humbly present to you the Key to Women. But first, a word of caution, if I may.
Perhaps, young gentlemen, you have noticed the preponderance of chain emails and sitcom snippets and refrigerator magnets and poorly Photoshopped pink-spattered pictures that women like to use as a sort of bait. These various, lavishly-perfumed, lipstick-smudged tidbits will present themselves as a “girls-only” affair, a dreamy or frustrated rumination on those qualities that are necessary for a man to be The Perfect Guy.
|Exhibit A. Keep a keen eye out, lads, for here there be DRAGONS.|
Upon discovering one of these, an alert and enterprising young man will take extensive notes, believing himself to have stumbled across a packet of secret correspondence, an internal memorandum of vital information disseminated among the Axis of Women-Folk that might once-and-for-all hold the key to being irresistible to females worldwide. He will stroke his devilishly charming mustache in deep, manly thought, and, adjusting his monocle, exclaim, “By Jove! If I but master each of the clearly delineated elements in this list, no woman shall stand before me without swooning!” Then, he will perch his top hat atop his head at a jaunty angle and commence to confidently courting the next thing in which he notices a lack of Y-chromosomes.
|“A capital idea!”|
And that, my dear gentlemen, is precisely where our man falls flat on his face. He crawls home, perhaps that very evening or perhaps later that week, with a shaken spirit, a sullen demeanor, and five painfully feminine red stripes across his watery face. He has been defeated, and in the worst way, as if he had horribly failed an open-book spelling test. Flinging his stylish cane aside, he wails by the fireplace in the log cabin he built with his own bare hands, dropping to his knees upon the rug he made with his own bare hands out of the bear he killed with his own bare hands, shaking his fist at the sky and shouting, “How? Confound it all! I am all that is man, and all that she herself declared she desired by liking that picture on Facebook! How could this have happened? O GOD, WHY HAST THOU FORSAKEN ME?” He is faced with the brutal, soul-sucking thought that the Secret List of Insights Into Woman was, in fact, meant for his eyes – meant to lure in crowds of hopeful men so that each in turn could be tossed into the garbage, sifting through the refuse until the perfect Prince Charming is found at last – and that our man himself is not such a prince, but merely a rather amorous pauper. The Venus Flytrap closes in around him, and he is lost to its depths.
Perhaps this is you, sir, or perhaps it has been in the past. Undoubtedly, innumerable droves of men throughout history have found themselves in a precisely identical predicament. Many of these men blame themselves for their perceived inadequacy to measure up to such minimal (and yet somehow impossibly lofty) standards. Still others place the burden on the shoulders of the woman, who took the time to list all the qualities she desires in a man and yet rejects a man who is doing his damnedest to exhibit every last one of them.
Gentlemen, behold: there is a third option, a third set of figurative shoulders on which to place the blame. The blame clearly, squarely lies on the shoulders of none other than…
wait for it…
…that little picture that started the whole thing.
No, not THAT picture. Not the picture of qualities she desires in a man that she pinned to her “Hopes and Dreams” board on Pinterest (which you, in a well-intentioned and concerted effort to learn her interests, have surreptitiously been attempting to follow and make sense of for the past week and three days). This picture:
|As a side note, if your advances toward her looked
anything like this, you were probably coming on too strong.
The difference, for once, is not in the details here. It is not in the small and seemingly trite conditions she laid out for your success in her tweets hashtagged #BoysShouldAlways. It is actually in the big picture, the fundamental dichotomy and complementarity instituted between man and woman by divine providence at our very origin in Genesis. (That’s how you say “God made man and woman different” LIKE A SIR.) Of course, we can’t fully cover all the ins and outs of that difference here, or in all the books in the world (although all the books in the world are indeed about that difference), but we can try and get you a shot at a few more dates, which I feel is quite an acceptable compromise.
See, as men, we tend to be very goal-oriented, list-driven, meet-the-conditions-and-check-all-the-boxes-and-it’s-done kind of people. When we see a list of things that need to be done, we go down the list and do them, one by one, and when we’re done with the list, the job is accomplished. Women… well, women don’t think that way. Just look at the difference between our trips to the grocery store. A man goes to HEB with a list of 36 different items, finds each of them in turn on the shelves (systematically working his way from one side of the store to the other), checks out, and is back home with the bags unloaded into the pantry, all in less than an hour. A woman goes to the same store with only bread, milk, and Q-tips on her list, and returns home in three hours with two carts’ worth of groceries, a new set of potholders, and a bag from JC Penney.
The list of attributes a woman wants in a man works kinda like her grocery list. One thing on the list will cause her to think of another thing, or it will be sitting right next to something else that she didn’t plan on getting but would just go GREAT with it, or it will make her walk past an aisle full of something she forgot she needed to get when she made the list… basically, she isn’t looking for just what she put on the list. She’s really looking for a much larger, more substantial and cohesive package. She’s not looking for a list of characteristics. She’s looking for a person.
As men, we see the list and think, “That’s the person she wants,” when in reality, the list is only describing characteristics, not a person. She’s not looking for a guy who does all of these things – she’s looking for the kind of guy who does all of these things. Do you see the distinction? The former is the things you do because you want her to be attracted to you; the latter is the things you do because that’s just the type of guy you are. She wants a dedicated, loving, humble, hardworking, sacrificial man – and all the things in the list she so kindly (and confusingly) provided for you are simply the natural extensions of those qualities, the things that such a man naturally does of his own accord.
So in order to get her, hook, line, and sinker, you must paradoxically not be actively trying to get her. It’s simple, and yet very difficult – you must work on yourself as a man, growing in humility and virtue. You must learn the meaning of true masculinity, as exemplified by none other than Jesus Christ. You must fill your waking moments with strength and sacrifice. You must memorize this Scripture verse and let it echo in your head every day of your life: “‘For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31-32). Learn the meaning of these words and understand them. You must become a Real Man, and in becoming a Real Man, you will discover that Real Women are feverishly, unquenchably, and ravishingly attracted to Real Men.
|I mean, just LOOK at that swagger.|
What, then, does it take to become a Real Man? In order to become a Real Man, you need to have PMS. That’s right, PMS. I said it and I meant it. However, what I meant is probably not what you were thinking. PMS means:
- Prayer. Real Men pray. More than that, they spend time in prayer, beyond the mere few seconds it takes to convince yourself you’ve said your requisite sentence to God for the day. Develop a routine of prayer and stick to it even when you don’t feel like it or when it’s difficult to manage time-wise. I suggest beginning each and every day with the Litany of Humility, for starters. Make frequent use of the Eucharist and Confession.
- Mortification. This basically means beating and exercising your spirit into shape, like you would with your body by working out. Real Men get themselves used to doing things they don’t want to do, when they don’t want to do them. Thinking about sitting down to play a little Xbox or Playstation? Stop yourself and go clean something first, THEN play your game. Going to get on Facebook? Go take out the trash first, THEN get on Facebook. Dishes need doing? Well, do them yourself, damn it, and do it by hand just so you’re not tempted to take the easy way out and throw it all in the dishwasher. It’s hard at first, but the more you do it, the more you assert control over your desires, and the easier you will find it to tear yourself away from temptations and give yourself to good things. (Note: This WILL NOT WORK without regular prayer.)
- Support. Our culture today emphasizes the idea of independence, of not needing to rely on another for help. Real Men, however, recognize that such an idea is patently stupid. We need community – friends who will help us grow, both in times of happiness and sorrow, but especially in the mundane times in between. We need friends who are seeking holiness and True Masculinity alongside us, to give us courage and strength, and whose passion will ignite our own hearts when the flame dies down. If you don’t already have a circle of strong Catholic friends, it’s time to start hanging out at the church after Mass and seeing who you can meet. Also, find a spiritual director. Priests, deacons, and some lay ministers will often offer spiritual direction to those who ask.
Surgeon General’s Warning: Side effects may include a desire to have a large homeschooled family or to become a priest.