In less than a week, VSB will celebrate its 5th anniversary. As of today, we’ve published 1289 entries, and those entries have received 472,695 comments. And, between the comments, email, Formspring, Madame Noire, Twitter, Facebook, and people recognizing the shirt and chasing me down at bus stops, the number of dating/relationship-related questions I’ve been asked and answered numbers in the thousands.
That’s thousands of questions about men and money and sex and cohabitation and celibacy and intimidation and exes and dating and independence and texting and where to meet people and dating men with ashy elbows from thousands of different people. And, controlling for occasional outliers, I’d say that (at least) 75% of the women asking questions already know the answers before they even ask.
So, why do they continue to ask? Well, the most common question I receive—and the fact that this particular question happens to be the most common question—answers that question.
As I’ve stated numerous times before, I’m not a dating and relationship “expert.” My particular form of “expertise” is just me combining my experience, education, and observations to give the most practical and objective advice I possibly can. That being said, there is one particular sub-subject I—and many other men (and women)—do have a real expertise with:
Random Woman: “Is he into me?”
While it comes in various forms and is constructed various ways, this is the question I hear the most. Unfortunately, after they’ve asked the question, and have volunteered the background info I’ll ask for to give a better assessment, the answer usually is “Sorry, but probably not.”Â
Anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a “Damn, I guess they don’t like me as much as I hoped” conversation or realization knows how it feels. And, knowing how it feels, giving that answer (usually) is not fun.Â It’s even less fun when realizing that they already knew the answer before asking.
This sounds delusional, which fits one of the most common stereotypes men have about women and relationships. But, delusion (usually) has nothing to do with it. It—and most of the rest of the questions I receive—is all about hope,Â hope that manifests in two separate ways:
1. “I know the answer already, but I hope someone agrees with me so I can be more sure about my decision.”
2. “I know the answer already—I can feel it in my gut—but I really don’t want to believe it. Maybe, hopefully he’ll tell me my gut is wrong.”
Much of the pushback people who dole out this type of advice receive is also related to the concept of hope. According to them, people (the advice givers) have positioned themselves to profit off of people’s (primarilyÂ women’s) hope by putting a tux and tails on common sense and calling it “genius.” While their concerns about the intelligence/independence level of the people asking questions—and the true motives and agendas of the advice givers—are warranted, this pushback has the tendency toÂ minimizeÂ the fact that it’s easy to be objective when you’re not invested. Of course it’s easy to read an email or a tweet and deduce that person A doesn’t like person B as much as person B likes person A, and that person B is an idiot for even asking. But, when you’re person B—and, as mentioned earlier, we’ve all been person B at some time—it aint always as easy.
The variables constituting love and attraction are so intangible and so subjective that a level of hope isÂ necessaryÂ to want, pursue, and maintain it. I mean, knowing how love has a tendency to completely and thoroughly f*ck us up, who in their right mind would even want that? Well, we do (Most of us do, anyway). AsÂ delusionalÂ and idiotic and nonsensical it seems, we hope it’ll be different for us. And, as long as that hope exists, relationship advice—an awkward way of finding some truth in a haystack of hope—will too.
—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)