ROSS IN RANGE
Women, Teasing, Tests, One-itis, and Hope, or
Ross in Range Stands in for Dear Abby
Copyright 2003 by John Ross. Electronic reproduction of this article freely permitted provided it is reproduced in its entirety with attribution given.
One of the Internet discussion boards I visit is an exceptionally civil and well-run shooting-oriented board. Recently, a young man posted there, asking for advice. He had met "the girl of his dreams" and in a few days was going to have his first date with her. He was taking her shooting, something she was eager to try and had never done. He did not explain exactly how he’d made the offer, but it was clear he was putting a lot of hope into the upcoming date, and was desperate to have it go well. He listed the guns he had available, and asked which ones he should bring and how he should structure the date at the range.
Most of the advice others gave him was good, as far as it went. They stressed the importance of safety instruction, using light-recoiling guns like .22s, and suggested bringing targets that did something interesting when hit, instead of just punching holes in paper.
These were all valid points, but from the tone of his post, I saw that this man really needed advice focused on a different area. He was obviously a safe shooter and knew to bring light-recoiling arms for a first-timer. His risk was not that the day would go badly if he brought the wrong guns. It was that he would do the kinds of things that men so often do when they decide a woman is "it." I began to think of this guy as "Anxious in Austin" and myself as the Relationship Advice Columnist. Here is my reply, edited a bit for Ross in Range.
If this really is "the girl of your dreams" I have a few suggestions that don't have to do with what guns to bring, as others have given you good input on that score.
1. Maintain an air of quiet competence. People in general dislike motormouthed know-it-alls but are impressed when they see knowledge and skill at work. This is doubly true when the activity in question has the potential for danger if safety concerns are ignored.
Explain, don't lecture, and early on say something like "If I see you doing something dangerous I'm going to stop you immediately. You probably won't, but I'm telling you this now so you won't get upset if I raise my voice. I don't much care about your marksmanship today but I care a great deal about safe gun handling."
2. Do not fawn over her. Pretty girls get this so much they lose all interest in the guys who kiss up to them. New mindset: You are LETTING HER join you in something exciting. I hope the invitation was "I'm going shooting this weekend--it's going to be perfect weather and there's a great range I use. If you'd like to join me I'll pick you up at 8:30, if you've got something to wear that you won't cry about if it gets a little dirt on it" (said with a grin.)
When she said "yes," I hope you added "I'm assuming you're not one of those flaky women who thinks 8:30 means 'sometime before noon.' I intend to be at the range by 9:00."
3. Pack up and quit shooting while she's still having a good time. Do not wait until her shoulder or hand hurts or she's tired.
4. After shooting, do not make plans right away to do something else next weekend, no matter how well you think things went. I cannot stress this strongly enough: DO NOT SELL TOO FAR IN ADVANCE. Not even if she rips your clothes off on the ride home. End your first date with her while she's still wanting more, and don't be too eager to plan the next one. This holds for future dates as well. And don't think of them as "dates," think of them as "I'm doing this and I'll let you join me if you behave." New mindset: Welcome to MY world.
5. Be prepared for a test. (Men call this a "shit test," which is a more accurate term, but from now on I’ll avoid the vulgarism for the sake of Internet decorum.) You may get such a test before you pick her up for the date, a phone call at the last minute telling you her best friend just broke up with her boyfriend and needs consoling, so she has to cancel. It may be an attempt to get you to do something different than what you planned. Do not accept this. Call her on any attempt to change plans. Make it clear such behavior is unacceptable. Be ready to say "Next."
Pretty girls have a different reality than you or I have. Their reality is that men almost always do whatever they demand. Believe it or not, the women are tired of this. The "test" is a way to cull out the mediocre males and find the ones with backbone. It's instinctive for women, because it works so immediately and so well. When you pass one test, you will get another, sometimes right away, sometimes later. This usually goes on as long as you remain involved with a woman, but as you keep passing her tests, they become less and less frequent. Be aware of this, and act accordingly.
6. Whenever you find yourself wondering what to say or how to act, and wanting to avoid screwing up because you think this girl is THE ONE, imagine how you would treat the hottest babe in your zip code--who happens to be your little sister. You'd tease your little sister, right? You'd laugh at her and call her on it every time she tried to get YOU to behave the same way she gets all the other guys to worship her and do her bidding. When she was acting exceptionally princess-like, you'd tell her of your surprise that she'd wear such a tight skirt when it made her ass look so fat, or a hairstyle that made her ears stick out. Then you’d tell her you liked the way her nose wrinkled up when she got mad, and would she bring you a soda from the kitchen? If you don't think this works, you've never tried it.
7. Don't get "one-itis." Talk to EVERY girl that catches your eye. Tease them. Let others come shooting with you on other weekends (if they promise to behave.) Pretty girls have lots of options--it just happens. You can have lots of options, too, but it won't just happen. You'll have to see to that yourself.
ABIGAIL VAN ROSS
He posted a reply:
I'll try to keep these things in mind. And yes, she definitely is something else, truly the girl of my dreams, and not just because of how she looks, although she is striking.
I've got #'s 1, 2, 3, and 4 covered, there should be no problems there.
#5 is a little more difficult... she is exceptionally intelligent and may try to use this tactic on me, what's the appropriate defense? It's hard to be ready to say "next" when that's what I've been saying on all my previous dates with other girls because all I've been thinking about is going out with this one girl.
#6 sounds suicidal... or very risky at best... and it's too late for #7. Thanks for the tips, I'll try to keep them in mind. And I'll let you all know how it goes.
This was worse than I thought, but since the date hadn’t happened yet, I wrote back:
Anxious in Austin, the best defense for #5 is preparation. ASSUME you'll get a test (and then another) and have your response READY. These tests are instinctive with most women, so don't think because she's intelligent it's a conscious decision. It's in the gene from hundreds of thousands of years of needing to select the best mate for survival, the same way and for the same reason that sitting in a restaurant with your back to the wall, facing the entrance, is instinctive for men.
Bad behavior (especially flaking) is much less likely to happen if
a) you pre-empt its occurrence by making it clear in advance you don't tolerate it, and
b) you DO NOT tolerate it when it happens, BECAUSE IT WILL HAPPEN. Examples:
Her, 5 minutes into the shooting session: "The noise is giving me a headache. Let's go."
You: "I don't get to practice here as often as I'd like, so I bought a Cosmopolitan and a Shape magazine in case something like this happened with you. They're in the back seat. Keep your earmuffs on and the windows rolled up and your headache will go away. I'll drive you home when I'm done."
When she suddenly decides she doesn't want to eat where you do:
You, grinning: "If you're buying, pick any place you want. I love the taste of any food when it's free" or "That's okay, you can go wherever you like after I drop you off."
Think of the possible tests she will give you and have your responses ready. A test is of course any attempt to get you to do something you don't want to do, but also it's trying to see if you'll do what she says when you don't much care either way, just to see if you’ll do it. DON'T DO THIS. Be nice to her on YOUR terms, not hers. She’s intelligent? Find a gift like a thought-provoking book, and tell her why you think she'll like it when you give it to her at an unexpected time. Ignore Valentine’s Day, or do something you like doing by yourself on Feb. 14 and let her join you. DON'T EVER let her dictate the way things are going to be. If you do, you will become one of the men that no longer interest her. Go where YOU like to eat on Saturday, and let her come. Then two weeks from now, tell her you're going to have dinner at [the name of her favorite restaurant] and ask her to join you. She'll get the message, I guarantee.
Whatever you do, don't help or advise her with anything resembling a personal or relationship problem. Don't even let her TELL you about it. This is a test of whether you are relationship material. If you fall into this trap you are now and forever in the "let's just be friends" category. In LJBF-land, I guarantee she will call YOU when she needs consoling or her furniture moved or whatever, then she'll go boff the brains out of someone who refused to get pulled into this "nice guy" trap. And then she'll TELL YOU about how great the sex is with the other guy, but she doesn't know how to handle him and it's driving her crazy. Cut this one off at the pass. Old boyfriend or ex-husband problems? Say "That's something you need one of your girlfriends to talk with you about. I'm not good at that and have no interest in getting better." Moving to a bigger apartment? Give her the numbers for the movers or U-Haul, and tell her your time is too valuable to do manual labor. If she's otherwise been treating you well, tell her that since she's been a good girl, you'll pay half the moving bill. Or drop the hammer and tell her she knows dozens of guys who'd move her stuff for a wink and a smile, but you're not one of them. Don't do the things that all the losers would jump at the chance to do for her in the futile hope that she'll be attracted to them. It has the opposite effect. Do nice things for her that YOU think of. Give her the gift of being part of your exciting life. Let her unload on some other guy about how great the sex is with YOU but she doesn't know how to handle you and it's driving her crazy.
All-purpose response for any question starting with "Aren't you going to..." such as "aren't you going to buy me a drink, open the door for me, etc."
You: "What do I get out of it?" or "what are you going to do for me in return?" One of three things will happen:
1. She'll pretend to be stunned or offended. MAINTAIN YOUR CALM DEMEANOR AND DO NOT BACK DOWN. ("You mean you expect people to do things for you with no thought as to what you should do for them? I don't think I've ever met anyone that self-centered before.") This will probably cause her to switch to response 2 or 3.
2. She'll smile and offer to do some thing for you. No matter what this is, I always hesitate as if considering her offer, then say "Nah, not good enough." If she suggests a sexual favor (this DOES happen, it's another test), say "No, I'm pretty particular about who I do that with and I don't know you that well." She will now either up the ante, hit you on the arm, or go to number 3 (all are good things).
3. "What do you want?" This is where you REALLY have fun. Always go over the top, where it's 100% about you: "Cook me veal cordon bleu for dinner, give me a half-hour backrub, then rub my feet while I sip an after-dinner drink and smoke a cigar."
Your comment that Point 6 sounded suicidal: It isn't. Not if you go with self-assured teasing and not meanness. The Bratty Sister Frame implies "You may get the little boys with the pouty look and the low-rider jeans, but I was on to that game before I was shaving. Keep insulting my intelligence that way and I may have to spank you. And where's that soda you were supposed to bring me when you got back from the kitchen?"
Your last comment, on point 7: NO. It is NEVER too late to get over one-itis, and the sooner you do it the greater the chance you'll get the girl you want. Businessmen and bankers can tell when they're the only option for the struggling small business owner who needs capital. Women are ten times better at telling when a guy has all his chips on their number AND IT TURNS THEM OFF. Didn't you ever have someone (maybe in grade school) who followed you around all the time, and wanted you to like them? Were you attracted by this? Me either. If you really like this girl, have other choices or she'll lose all interest. I cannot say this too strongly.
Final point: If you do these things it will probably work out for you with this girl. When it does, DON'T TURN INTO THE GUY I'M TELLING YOU NOT TO BE. When she starts to fall for you, don't pour out your heart and tell her how wonderful she is and start letting her dictate terms and become like all the guys she passed over to be with YOU. Don't do it. She will lose all interest in you. You wouldn't like it if she got stupid, ugly, and boring, instead of smart, striking, and exciting like she is now, would you? Keep being the person she fell for. Always.
I got some more feedback, mostly positive. One fellow said (in all caps) that if the guy listened to me he'd probably never have another date in his life. He said I advised "playing games" and told the man to "just be himself." As if this young man's natural condition is to be anxious, frustrated, and doing things he doesn't want to do. I did get some private emails from women telling me that my advice was dead on, and one of them attached a digital picture of herself. She was wearing low-rider jeans with a thong showing, and a pouty look.
I think this Relationship Advice Columnist stuff suits me.
John Ross 7/7/03
7/13/03 Update: The young man just emailed me. The girl flaked on him. Left a message at the last minute on his phone recorder that she couldn't make it. Abby's comment: The Girl of Your Dreams does not flake, ever. Next.