The Age-Old Question

A few days ago, my younger brother-in-Christ and I took my 13-year-old little cousin out for an impromptu night of male bonding.  We figured he would appreciate it.  After all, his is currently being raised by a single mother and has very little contact with men that he actually gets along with.  We could relate to his plight, for we were raised pretty much the same way.

Our real motivation for taking him out was the news that he and his mother were having a lot of issues.  He is at that age where little boys commonly begin challenging the authority figures around them.  Unfortunately, this has led to a lot of issues within his household and in his classroom at school.  He is very intelligent, but he is also on the verge of being labeled as disrespectful.  Such a label would be disastrous for him, so we organized an intervention at Buffalo Wild Wings.

At first, things pretty much went as expected.  As the three of us ate our wings and potato wedges, my little cousin explained his perspective on the recent events in his life.  We gave him a few pointers here and there.  He agreed that he would work on changing his attitude (and also made a point of trying to keep up with us by eating some hot wings that severely burned his mouth).  Then it happened.

“I want to ask you both a question that is completely unrelated to this topic,” he said out of nowhere.

“Sure,” I replied, “What is it?”

“Why do smart girls always go after bad boys?” he asked.

My little cousin was growing up.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “Because we’ve been trying to figure out the same thing for years.”  It was true.  There were so many times in my life where I had wondered the same thing.  It reminded me of a time when I was still in college and my frat had been invited to participate in a sorority’s forum on dating.  We got there and realized almost immediately that we had been invited for the sole purpose of representing the perspective of the undesirable nice guy.  No matter what we said, the women there went out of their way to explain why they didn’t find nice guys attractive.  When it was over, we managed to laugh it all off (and make unflattering remarks about them in the process).

My little cousin then told us the story of a girl in his 8th grade class who had gotten accepted into one of the best schools in the city.  She was in a relationship with a guy in his 8th grade class who had just been expelled.  It seemed to bother him a lot.  We tried to make him feel better by telling him that girls will like him if he just remains true to himself.  However, he didn’t buy it.

“I did an experiment,” he continued, “One day, I just decided to use a lot more slang [likely meaning profanity] in my conversations with my female friends.  They all looked at me differently, almost like they were interested.”  A part of me wondered if a lot of the trouble he had been having lately was the result of this “experiment.”

As sad as I was to admit it, he had a point.  I had a few female friends who didn’t seem the least bit interested in me until they got me angry and then saw that there was indeed more to me than the nice minister.  (No, I didn’t curse anybody out.)  Then, they went out of their way to be in my company.  (For reference, any woman who has gone out of her way to get me angry over something petty has been quickly eliminated from my list of potential mates.  That’s a huge red flag for me.)  It was disturbing to see how quickly I could go from the minister whose sexuality is being questioned to a prime target for female affection just by coming across as angry for a few seconds.

My little brother-in-Christ tried to help the situation by adding that young girls tend to erroneously feel that the nice guy is too weak to protect them and pointing out that it is necessary for nice guys to show that we are more than our nice guy shell.  At the same time, we knew that what we were saying was of little consolation to my little cousin.

“When you get older, things start to change,” I continued, “However, it’s usually because those smart girls have gotten tired of the nonsense that the bad boys have put them through.  Unfortunately, they also tend to have a lot of baggage which nice guys like us have to deal with.”  I looked at my little cousin’s face and realized that even my effort to be optimistic had failed.

We tried to end the conversation by acknowledging that women were complicated and reminding my little cousin that even though it may not seem like it, there is some girl out there who would actually like him for who he is.  Then he hit us with another question.

“What happens if a girl who claims not to like you ends up dating somebody who is just like you?” he asked.

Out of respect for my little cousin, I’ll place the rest of this conversation in the classified “little cousin” files.  Still, it felt good to be there for him as he tries to figure out the complexities of the dating world (even though I am still figuring out most of those complexities myself).  The conversation finally ended after the three of us foolishly tried to eat blazin’ wings.  From then on, we were unable to do anything except for acknowledge that  Buffalo Wild Wings’ blazin’ wings were indeed blazin’.

Thankfully, we were able to leave the restaurant with the knowledge that we had tried our best to make a difference in my little cousin’s life.  The rest was now up to him.

What about you?  How would you have answered my little cousin’s question about smart girls and bad boys?

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About Spencer

Spencer T. Clayton is a typical millennial who believed his mother when she told him that he was capable of accomplishing great things (and as a result has amassed a large amount of student loan debt). When he isn’t blogging, he is either out with friends, writing and performing music, or busy working as an Executive Pastor and Consultant while simultaneously pursuing a PhD in Public Affairs.

  4 comments for “The Age-Old Question

  1. June 19, 2012 at 11:47 am

    Good entry. I haven’t been on here in a while. That was a great conversation. I would give my insight, but i already have (I’m the little brother) lol

    • June 19, 2012 at 11:58 am

      true. thanks again for helping out with my little cousin and contributing your insight. the conversation would have been much less interesting without you.

  2. Louis
    June 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    It’s been a minute since I’ve been here, boy. Wait…when was this dating seminar? I don’t remember being there, because I probably would have put my 2 cents in if I was. In any case, your answers were good and true. The issue, though, was that it wasn’t going to help him now, which is what it seems he wanted. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t know what to say that would help him now. But, thinking off the cuff, I would gear something towards showing his “bad boy” side through his conviction level. It doesn’t mean that he needs to start cursing and fighting, but just a general demeanor that says “yeah, I’m a nice guy, but I will stand up for what I believe in”. Thinking about it now, it’s a shame that we equate toughness with dealing harm to others when in reality the truest case of toughness stems from challenges that we face and how we overcome them. Delving deeper, it becomes pretty apparent that that is the sort of men that women desire. Unfortunately, the way they want us to show it is by being a bad boy, probably because it’s the quickest way of seeing it. The “bad boy” attitude is merely a perversion of a good trait – mental toughness. I AM A GENIUS!!!

    • June 19, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      it’s good that you haven’t had to deal with this issue for a while. in hindsight, my dating outlook is much less bleak than it once was. for the record, you were at the seminar. I remember you being one of our more vocal defenders.

      we did manage to give my little cousin similar advice to what you suggested. I believe I even used the phrase “know when to show your inner bad boy.” then we tried to give him examples of what that meant. unfortunately, I’m not sure how much of it he understood. I think our examples may have been too abstract. besides, he also has a very low attention span and was too busy trying to prove his manhood to us by sampling our spicy wings in spite of having a low tolerance for spicy food. if (meaning when) the conversation comes up again, I will be sure to use your point on mental toughness being the actual trait that women desire.

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