- Written by Dave Barry
Contrary to what many women believe, it's easy to develop a long-term, intimate and mutually fulfilling relationship with a guy. Of course, this guy has to be a Labrador Retriever. With human guys, it's extremely difficult. This is because guys don't really grasp what women mean by the term relationship.
Let's say a guy named Roger asks a women named Elaine out to a movie. She accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later, he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and soon neither is seeing anybody else.
Then one evening, when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Elaine. She says: "Do you realize that we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"
Silence fills the car. To Elaine, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself, "Geez, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he feels confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks that I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation."
And Roger is thinking: "Gosh. Six Months."
And Elaine is thinking: "But hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really know this person?"
And Roger is thinking: "So that means it was... let's see... February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means... lemme check the odometer... Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here."
And Elaine is thinking: "He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship—more intimacy, more commitment. Maybe he senses my reservations. Yes, that's it. He's afraid of being rejected."
And Roger is thinking: "I'm going to have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say—it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent, thieving cretins six hundred dollars!"
And Elaine is thinking: "He's angry, and I don't blame him. I'd be angry too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure."
And Roger is thinking: "They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty. That's what they're gonna say!"
And Elaine is thinking: "Maybe I'm too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting next to a perfectly good person who's in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl fantasy."
And Roger is thinking: "Warranty? I'll give them a warranty!"
"Roger," Elaine says aloud.
"What?" says Roger.
"I'm such a fool," Elaine says, sobbing. "I mean, I know there's no knight and there's no horse."
"There's no horse?" says Roger.
"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" says Elaine.
"No!" Roger says, glad to know the correct answer.
"It's just that... I need some time," Elaine says.
There is a 15-second pause while Roger tries to come up with a safe response. "Yes," he finally says.
Elaine, deeply moved, touches his hand. "Oh, Roger, do you really feel that way?"
"What way?" says Roger.
"That way about time," Elaine says.
"Oh," says Roger, "Yes."
Elaine gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last, she says, "Thank You, Roger."
"Thank you," he responds.
Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted soul weeping until dawn, whereas when Roger gets back to his place, he opens a bag of chips, turns on the TV and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czech players he never heard of. A tiny voice in his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he figures it's better not to think about it.
The next day, Elaine will call her closest friend, and they will talk for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said. They will continue to discuss this subject for weeks, never reaching any definite conclusions but never getting bored with it either.
Meanwhile, Roger, playing racquetball one day with a friend of his and Elaine's will pause just before serving and ask, "Norm, did Elaine ever own a horse?"
We're not talking about different wavelengths here. We're talking about completely different planets in completely different solar systems. Elaine cannot communicate meaningfully with Roger because the sum total of his thinking about relationships is Huh?
He has a guy brain, basically an analytical problem-solving organ. It's not comfortable with nebulous concepts such as love, need and trust. If the guy brain has to form an opinion about another person, it prefers to base it on facts, such as his or her earned-run average.
Women have trouble accepting this. They are convinced that guys must spend a certain amount of time thinking about the relationship. How could a guy see another human being day after day, night after night, and not be thinking about the relationship? This is what women figure.
They are wrong. A guy in a relationship is like an ant standing on top of a truck tire. The ant is aware that something large is there, but he cannot even dimly comprehend what it is. And if the truck starts moving and the tire starts to roll, the ant will sense that something important is happening, but right up until he rolls to the bottom and is squashed, the only thought in his tiny brain will be Huh?
Thus the No. 1 tip for women to remember is never assume the guy understands that you and he have a relationship. You have to plant the idea in his brain by constantly making subtle references to it, such as:
- "Roger, would you mind passing me the sugar, inasmuch as we have a relationship?"
- "Wake up, Roger! There's a prowler in the den and we have a relationship! You and I do, I mean."
- "Good news, Roger! The doctor says we're going to have our fourth child—another indication that we have a relationship!"
- "Roger, inasmuch as this plane is crashing and we have only a minute to live, I want you to know that we've had a wonderful 53 years of marriage together, which clearly constitutes a relationship."
Never let up, women. Pound away relentlessly at this concept, and eventually it will start to penetrate the guy's brain. Someday he might even start thinking about it on his own. He'll be talking with some other guys about women, and out of the blue, he'll say, "Elaine and I, we have, ummm... We have, ahhh... We have this thing."
And he will sincerely mean it.
(Reader's Digest, January 1996, pp 109-11)