A few weeks ago, I wrote a response to an achingly lovely Modern Love column, which is a weekly feature in the New York Times’ Style section. I’ve decided to respond to this week’s Modern Love in what I hope becomes a recurring Anti-Girlfriend feature.
In this week’s Modern Love, Teresa DiFalco writes about the breakup of her marriage of 12 years due to her husband’s extramarital relationship which had begun after he posted an ad in the Casual Encounters section of Craigslist.
But DiFalco’s essay wasn’t about her husband’s experience on the hook-up and sex site. It was about her own. After she learned of her husband’s infidelity, she hastily created an ad for herself and uploaded it:
My decision was impulsive. I was sitting on our back patio, listening to the snores of our family dog and laughter from my children. Against this backdrop, my act felt sordid. Three mouse clicks put me into “w4m” (women for men). I hadn’t thought it through but managed a serviceable ad on my feet. It read: “Freshly divorced and want my confidence back! I’m 5’10”, long sandy blond hair. I’m new at this, a little nervous. I don’t know what to put down.”
After she posted her ad, she immediately received a bevy of responses, which provided her with some of the amorous attention she had long been lacking in her now-ended marriage. Yet she was reluctant to meet up for sex with any of the men who contacted her. ”Many were too forward for me. I needed some pretense of small talk,” she writes.
Though I have never put up an ad on Craigslist or a similar sort of hook-up site, I have posted profiles to online dating sites and feel similarly when it comes to the lack of pretense. When someone writes to me on one of those dating sites, I only respond if the man seems to have read my profile by referencing something in it. Furthermore, requests to immediately meet up in the first exchange are summarily ignored. (Of course, the reverse is also true–who isn’t annoyed by online correspondence that drags on indefinitely without any end or meeting in sight?)
It’s not that I’m prudish and will only meet and sleep with a guy after a lengthy courtship. But even on the occasions that I’ve brought home a guy I met at a party, I spent the hours leading up to the hook up engaged in pretense–drinking, conversation during which we learned about the other even if neither of us was truly interested, even if we both knew we were merely counting down the minutes until sex.
Pretense is dishonest, I know, but sometimes I like being lied to. When I want total honesty, I’ll listen to rap songs. MCs rarely beat around the bush when it comes to what they want from women. In his autobiography Life and Def, Russell Simmons even suggested that rap lyrics provide a service to women, warning them about what’s on a man’s mind. Now while I wouldn’t go as far as Simmons and say this actually constitutes a service–I think deep down we know the game even if we spin a romantic yarn–I will admit that the truth can occasionally be refreshing.
As for Ms. DiFalco, she ultimately never followed through and met with any of her potential sex partners, which is a fact that made her feel guilty for misleading the men who were upfront about their desire for sex above all.
And that’s where she went wrong–it takes two to play at the game of pretense.