I was at a college alumni dinner the other night and a woman, who was there, asked if anyone knew any single men available. For whatever reason, I exchanged glances with the guy next to me and we both said to each other, "Hey I'm single."...not that we were necessarily interested in this woman...I was not on any level...but, we just kind of both jokingly let her know we were available. To which she quickly dismissed, "Oh, I mean men who have their stuff together."
Now, she didn't know anything about us other than what we did for a living...had no idea how successful we may have been or even anything about our personalities. Maybe she just assumed no one at this "networking" dinner could possibly have their stuff together, otherwise why would they be "networking?" I really should have asked her exactly what she meant by her comment because it bothered me and everyone around me at the table, including some women. For once, I chose to remain "professional" and non-confrontational. I let it go without much condemnation. I let her get off easy.....Maybe it's the Prozac.
At any rate, after stewing over this for a few days, today, I recalled a woman who I met a little over 10 years ago. I can remember it like it was yesterday. At soon as we met, for lack of a more masculine word, I was smitten immediately. But I also thought...I can't possibly date this woman, not now anyway. She's a project for the future. Down the road...I would go for her. My hesitancy had nothing to do with a lack of confidence in her being into me; rather, it was all in my head. It was all about me. I did not feel like I had "my stuff" together. I felt like I needed to be able to give her "more" or somehow "be more" than I was at the time. And I'm not talking just financial...it was a combination of a lot of other things that I thought were important.
Yes, I put this woman up on a pedestal, thinking she was perhaps the most beautiful, enchanting and exciting woman I had ever met. And also thinking, just being a "fun" guy or a "good" guy would not nearly be enough....and again...it was not that I thought she was the type who would need anything more than that from whoever she dated. I just thought she deserved it. And you know what? She does. I still maintain a relationship with her today and I still feel the same way about her. Although, we never did end up getting together, I still believe the only reason was because she was not physically attracted to me...and had nothing to do with whether or not I actually had my stuff together.
So, it got me thinking even more about what it means for a guy to have his stuff together. What does it mean for a woman? And does anyone really have their stuff together? I mean...we're all crazy...in our own way. We all have issues. We all have baggage. None of us walk around free and unencumbered All of us have our share of stuff that's all over the place. Maybe a more relevant dating question to ask men is, "Do you know what you want from a woman?"
Keep in mind, this question is very different from asking "What do you want?" If you ask men this question you will all most likely get the same answer. Men want women. But knowing what you specifically want from a woman speaks to your unique personality and your relative confidence. Springsteen has a line in his song, Brilliant Disguise, "God have mercy on the man who doubts what he's sure of."
Part of the reason I love Bruce so much is that he always knows how to sum it up precisely and perfectly. Only a man who knows exactly what he wants is a man who truly has his stuff together. And as messed up as I am...above all else....I've never had a doubt what I've been sure of...and what I want....even as far back as the time I met that woman a dozen years ago.
For those interested...here's Brilliant Disguise, in it's entirety. It just happens to be one of Springsteen's most beautiful songs....complete with a very eloquent introduction from Bruce about the song, and about love.