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Where the Boys Are

[whitespace] Three men on fishing in the San Francisco dating pool

If women are feeling a little jaded these days, what's the story with the opposite sex? While most men agree they are somewhat adrift, trying on different roles to see what fits best, when it comes to the real nitty-gritty, some feel damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don't. "Dating is difficult, period," says Guy A, a 28-year-old carpenter. "Both men and women tend to idealize."

Far from the Mars/Venus themes popularized by John Gray, the whole idea of "genderizing" conventional roles seems passé to Guy B. A dry-witted writer, the 34-year-old says the equality game means women have become more aggressive--and pragmatic. "I definitely get a sense of women thinking, 'If you don't fit into my schedule I'll find someone else,'" he says. "But that's fine." As a straight male in San Francisco, Guy B confesses that when it comes to dating, the odds are in his favor. "If your neurons are firing and you're reasonably attractive, there is action to be had," he says loudly. "San Francisco is a gold mine!"

But beyond the kissy-kissy, Guy C, a 27-year old environmentalist, says there are many misunderstandings between the sexes. "When a guy comes into a relationship, he's high-energy at first," he says, looking serious. "A woman tends to sit back and observe, to see if this guy's for real. But if the fire's not there after a few weeks, the guy is going to leave. Women don't seem to understand that." Even though relationships can be hell, Guy C is concerned that people have abandoned depth in favor of options.

"I know too many single people. We've shunned dating conventions and roles--and in many ways they were outdated--but we're all lonely," he says sincerely. "Sometimes relationships are very businesslike."

All three seem to agree that honest communication is the key to dating, not to mention relationships. "My only complaint against women is that they put everything emotional on their terms," says Guy A. "Men have feelings, too." But how well do they express those feelings? "I think we don't ask. We're just used to getting what we want," admits Guy C. At least he's being honest.

The bottom line, despite changing mores, high expectations and putting the toilet seat down, says Guy B, is simple: "Ultimately, women need men and men need women. That's it." As a woman, apt to get the last word, all I can say is "Right on."

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From the May 24, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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