Maybe there is something of “the man” in me, but I love cars. No, I’m not interested in how they work, and I don’t like changing oil. But I love driving cars, really nice cars that round corners as if they were designed for the racetrack. I often carry on deep love affairs with my vehicles…if only for a little while…when the paint is still shiny, the aluminum wheels clear of scratches and scrapes from curb encounters, and the interior as clean as my house is in the five minutes following the housekeeper’s departure.
But after awhile, as we all know, the paint gets marred by encounters with Walmart shopping carts, we drive up against the curb at the post office and take a chunk out of the wheel, and our children trash up the interiors to the point that we just give up and decide we’ll live with driving around in a trash can on four wheels.
It’s not quite so unlike our relationships with men.
And after discussing the “two-year rule” with a girlfriend this evening, I decided it’s high time we ladies have the option of trading in our men the way we do our cars. Here’s why: men, like automobiles, start to lose their glossy perfection after about two years. It’s not because we grow bored with them, mind you, anymore than we would grow bored with our cars. I’d keep my car forever if I could count on it to last me till death without rusting, breaking down, or just plain giving up.
But men, like cars, have their heyday…in relationships, that is. Ever noticed how wonderfully attentive they are in the beginning? They listen to our problems, offer their sincerest empathy, kiss away our tears, hold us for hours and claim that they love cuddling. They open doors for us, hold our hands when walking down the street, whisper sweet nothings in our ears at restaurants, and stroke our thighs in the darkness of theaters as if we are the most tantalizing women on earth. They buy us dinner. They give us foot rubs. They cook stupendous meals for us. They make love for hours.
Then suddenly, about year two (sometimes sooner), they stop.
Some of us consider this a grand deception. We feel as if we’ve been deceived, duped, tricked into falling in love with a luxury car that has turned out to be a heap of junk.
But let’s face it: men are like cars. They wear out.
Because it really isn’t natural for men, in general, to be the doting lovers they appear to be when they are trying to win our affection and admiration or maybe even our hands in marriage. They know if they want a prime catch, they’re going to have put forth some serious effort and time. They’re not stupid.
Men know if they want to earn our love, they’re going to have to work for it. And they’ll happily do it for a little while, figuring all the trouble is worth the action in the bedroom. And some will keep doing it even after they’ve won our hearts to prove that they are more worthy than their counterparts who become turncoats after the wedding band is firmly around our fingers. But they won’t do it forever. They can’t.
Men just haven’t been socialized to give in the way women do. The energy and effort required for them to hold us for an hour while we cry is pretty enormous. While it may be a matter of course for women to sit with a distraught friend for hours, it turns men into anxiety-ridden heaps of beer-craving gunk. We thrive on being there for the ones we love. Men, on the other hand, feel like we’re sucking out their innards when we require emotional sustenance.
After a couple of years, the effort of being the perfect man becomes too much for even the finest male specimen to bear. He gives up, reverts to his former self, and leaves us wondering why the hell we ever fell in love.
Pretty soon we’re resenting him hard for not holding us while we sleep, not giving a shit when we complain about our bosses, and not calling us on our lunch breaks to say how much he misses us. Our eyes start wandering, but our hearts keep on believing this is just a temporary funk he will snap out of. So we hang on like a spider clings to a broken web, convinced this is just a phase. One day, we think, he will return to his role as perfect Lothario.
Ten years pass.
He still prefers a beer and football to our company.
My only consolation here, ladies, is to say that it is not you. It is just the way things are. Perhaps by the time our daughters (or maybe granddaughters) come of age, men will have completed their socialization into a world where it’s okay to love, and give, and feel, and need. But for now, it’s not gonna happen, I’m sorry to report. Most men are, as a friend of mine likes to say, “emotionally stunted.”
Hence, I’m advocating for a two-year lease.
To hell with this “to have and to hold” till death shit. How about “to have and to hold until he stops acting like the ‘Prince Charming’ he pretended to be in the beginning?”
This might require a flexible leasing option. While the average male can sustain attractive behavior and good grooming practices for about two years, some can’t keep it up (no pun intended) for two weeks, much less two years. Perhaps it all depends on whether you date a Kia or a Lexus.
The problem here, as my girlfriend pointed out to me, is that the two-year leasing option goes against the grain. We sign ourselves away on useless lifetime warranties that never pay out when the product goes bad because the originator of the warranty (Prince Charming) has gone out of business. Convention, no matter how stupid and unproductive, is a hard thing to buck.
But I’m all for being a pioneer and dumping the guy at year two if it looks like his behaviors are mirroring those of a Ford Fiat instead of a Mercedes E series.
After all, guys have been doing this for years. Sometimes they even carry on relationships with multiple vehicles at a time. They are not exclusively devoted to one make or model. Why are we?
Because we are suckers for the sales pitch. That’s why.
So next time a man seems like the perfect match for you, do a detailed inspection before you sign on for life. And if you’re feeling a bit skeptical (as you should), consider the two-year lease.