I have come to the conclusion that either men in their 40s are all wimps and far more desperate to find “The One” than women are, or those chicks who wrote those ridiculous Rules books were bang-on.

I have been dating a man for a little while off and on — he’d like it to be way on, I’d prefer for it to be practically off — and I couldn’t have more decidedly won over a man’s heart than if I’d bought The Rules myself and pored over every word. The more I push this guy back, the more he convinces himself that I am the woman his life has been leading to. I don’t call. Sometimes I don’t e-mail back. I tell him “no” when he pleads for me to call him while I am on assignment or on vacation. I don’t invite him to my house. I don’t initiate any dates. I don’t wait longingly for him to call, either — I simply don’t care one way or another. When we do spend time together, it’s pleasant enough and we laugh and have fun, but I don’t miss him when I’m not with him.  My girlfriends tell me I have turned into a guy and that he is the fretting, jittery chick over-analyzing every blank screen, every failure to return a call, every non-commital response.

But I have devoted most of my adult life to husbands (there have been two) and/or children. Now that I am 44, I have had enough of answering to men. The very thought of being back in a committed relationship in which I have to answer to someone or feel bad because I’d prefer to be with my girlfriends or on my laptop makes me feel ill. I am just not into it anymore. Been there, done that, and for my troubles I ended one marriage because he was so NOT into being married to me and then had my heart ripped out by the second.

Pretty much everything I need, I can get from my laptop anyway. Friendship, sex (hello YouPorn.com!), laughs, wisdom, entertainment, etc. If I crave actual physical affection I can go and cuddle with my children or my kitty cats. I am financially independent. I simply don’t need a man for anything.

And nothing, oddly enough, seems to make me more attractive to them. I guess it’s actually, and depressingly, true, as much as I’ve spent my life thinking it was just a silly stereotype — men love the chase.

There is an old French saying that goes along these lines: The one who cares less has all the power in matters of the heart. Those of you desperate for a man? The secret is this: act like you couldn’t care less whether they lived or died, but give them a little bit of sugar every now and again. You will be heavily in demand.

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