Women and Men: Men who love too much
He's clever, he's kind, and he gets on with your girlfriends, writes Eleanor Davey. That's right: he's a womanising swine
Sunday 10 November 1996
Sadly, like Diana's video sex-romp story, the ``new man'' turned out to be an elaborate hoax. And so, fingers burnt, women are left with ``old man'': either uncommunicative, hobby-obsessed bores - the man's man - or the good ones, capable of conversation. Most of the latter - if they know anything about moisturiser - are gay. The rest are multiple-booked on an ongoing basis.
For these men adore women. Unlike conventional philanderers, they respect them. They respect them so much that they would rather spend an evening with a girl than a bloke; and if they get sex at the end of the evening, well, why not?
"I have always loved women," says Dylan, 34, a copywriter in a small London advertising agency. "I have relationships, but that doesn't stop the next funny, beautiful, intelligent female, and yes, preferably with large knockers, catching my eye. Most of my friends are women. I always hated that all-male Friday night experience or the rugby club on a Saturday evening. My brother goes for all that, but I love female company; the conversation is so much more intimate and emotional. So, even when I am in a relationship, like now, I will have nights alone with my female friends. And we often end up getting a bit pissed and going back to her place. It's no different to my mind to men getting pissed at the rugby club and pulling their trousers down, it's just bonding."
Dylan is a friend to his girlfriend's women friends. They tell his girlfriend how lucky she is to have found a man with a sensitive side. He has, he claims, flirted with them all, and actually slept with two. "My girlfriend is always delighted that I get on with her friends. She says it makes a change. I have never made a move on her friends, they always came to me. I'm passably good-looking I suppose, but mainly it's because I amuse them."
Dylan has been with his present girlfriend for a year and a half. But it is, he claims, a casual thing, and he believes they have an open relationship. "I can't see how monogamy is possible, and I'm sure my girlfriend thinks the same. We're both in advertising, it's a very social profession. Sometimes I'll go a fortnight without seeing her when we're both out every night. It may sound weak or unsound, but sex with other people is inevitable. Actually, I have had more aggro over my behaviour from male friends than I have from women. They can't believe what a lucky bastard I am. But I listen to them talking about their Psions and realise that it's not down to mere luck."
"Some men admit quite openly that they prefer the company of women," says consulting clinical psychologist Dr Paul Brown, who specialises in sex and relationships. "And their penchant would tend to make them terribly attractive and probably quite fatal to women. These men will be quite upfront and say from the outset that they have never been able to make a long-term commitment. Often the women will take that as a challenge." The honesty and ability to communicate emotions will make him stand out from the traditional Neanderthal that women are used to dealing with. But of course he will still want to sleep with other people.
Post-feminism - whatever that is - has left western females more sexually and emotionally demanding. They no longer get so easily seduced into the you-cleaning-woman-me-lager-lad relationship, but instead have sought out a new kind of destructive relationship. One with a male who is all too aware of his imperfections, but just as helpless, it seems, to do anything about it.
Under no delusions that he is anything other than rubbish at relationships, John, 34, remains endlessly attracted to new women. "I am always faithful to one woman at a time, but I only achieve that by having a new partner every three months. I know I'm a sad git, but if it's there I take it. I know that I don't want to grow up (and if I didn't I've had so many women tell me this, that I would have got there eventually). But I don't want to live with anyone. I want an easy uncomplicated life. I don't want to get to know anyone's parents or go shopping in Ikea.
"I love women. I love to have conversations with them until six in the morning, and you only really get that at the beginning of a relationship. It's not that I stop fancying the person I'm with, it's more that I start fancying someone else too and I am a decent chap and so I give them the old heave-ho. I must be very shallow, because I let go very easily, I'm never bothered. And it always amazes me when I end it after just three months and a girlfriend can say `but I feel so close to you'. I want to explain to her that, no, actually I'm like that with everyone. She just thinks that she's close to me, but you can't say that, can you?"
While the old male chauvinist is busy on the outside of the tent pissing in, the woman-loving man is inside the tent pissing on your sleeping bag. The damage is more direct because they seem at first to be so empathetic, so much one of the girls.
"When a woman has a relationship with a man who seems to be utterly charming and understanding and yet announces himself `not the commitment type','' says relationship counsellor Lesley Parrish, "it is very common for her to think, `well, I'm the one that can change him, it will be different this time.' She cannot understand why, if they get on so well, he should not want to stay.
"It may be that he is the kind of person who exudes an energy and warmth that everybody loves. Particularly this happens with very successful or famous people, who often have enormous charisma. When someone starts a relationship with that charismatic charming person, they think that the charisma is exclusively aimed at them. In fact, that person may be addicted to the high of attraction or of popularity; they may not be able to control it. And let's not be sexist, it can cut both ways. It's just that men are still more able to get away with it. And because they are so charming, this kind of man often stays friends with his conquests. They see him as a lovable rogue who can't help himself."
Conventional wisdom would have it that men who are multiple lovers of women are dysfunctional. John Collings, professor of psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, says: "Men who are always falling for new women and can't maintain one lasting relationship are often quite inadequate, no matter how well-adjusted they seem on the surface. They are too anxiously trying to feel wanted by many women, when all the evidence suggests that men are healthier and happier when they are in one long-term relationship."
But maybe conventional wisdom is wrong and the men who love women are right. Maybe monogamy should not be the goal. Dr Brown thinks it's possible. "More than 50 per cent of married men and almost 50 per cent of women say they have committed adultery. Monogamy could seem like a waste of our natural skills of attraction and flirtation."
Long-term monogamy can be explained as a phenomenon peculiar to the post-Victorian era. Before this time, most relationships would have ended in the death of a partner before the issue of infidelity came up.
Dr Brown adds: "DNA studies have revealed that many of the animal species that were previously thought to mate for life don't."
So maybe the men and women who continue to form many relationships - but in positive, communicative ways - are right. Maybe biology dictates that we all want to flirt and have sex with each other all of the time. So maybe biology dictates that even trying to have a long-term relationship is like saying women shouldn't wear trousers.
SPOTTING THEM A MILE OFF
For the old-fashioned, who still want to avoid a man who is in love with all women:
1. He's still in touch with all his former girlfriends. They all seem lovely, if wistful, but they don't blame him
2. When you ask "what are you thinking?" he is happy to say
3. He doesn't like football
4. He has a valid opinion on lipstick
5. He has already got to know all your female friends ...
6. ... And they've started ringing him
7. You can tell him anything
8. He always notices when you're wearing something new
9. He seems too good to be true ...
10. ... He is
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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