VIEW FROM THE HILL- Bad choices cross the gender lines, too

Why do good women pick bad men? -Anonymous

The question posed recently to yours truly is difficult, if not impossible, to address. In all honesty, I do not know the best way to answer this.

However, I can make observations based on my own experiences.

First, the question reveals some information about the questioner. It assumes a woman is asking the question. It also suggests the woman’s character and behavior is acceptable, if not admirable.

Second, the phrase “bad men” indicates the man’s character and behavior is neither good nor acceptable, if not despicable. In addition, the discovery of his true nature is not discovered until it is too late to change the couple’s relationship.

To be fair, one can easily pose the question in the reverse: Why do good men pick bad women?

Years ago, a conversation at a high school class reunion brought this point home with clarity. A comment by a former female classmate was “I don’t need to marry a man to get what I want. One phone call and I can have whatever (man) I want.”

Perhaps she was merely grandstanding and joking for the crowd’s benefit. But I doubt it.

I cannot imagine living a life like that under any circumstances. That statement, however, underscored my experiences many years ago. The dating landscape looked more like a battlefield littered with broken bodies than a road to a happy, fulfilling future.

For a historical perspective, the period was the late ’60s and early ’70s. Though Gloria Steinem and her followers were just beginning the women’s liberation movement, the impact of those early events molded my own environment.

As if the movement needed an exclamation point, Helen Reddy hit the music waves with “I am woman” and became the icon of the movement.

If the former classmate’s statement was intended to be an affirmation of the single life, that a woman need not be married to be happy, that a good, loyal friend-male or female-was but a phone call away, I would have endorsed the declaration and responded with, “You go, girl!”

In reality, this was a pointed reminder that there are no differences in acceptable human behavior between the sexes. Women (and men) are free to “play the field” as it were, free to use, abuse and discard relationships as they see fit.

As a parent and distant observer of dating relationships that involve our children and their friends, nothing has changed between my generation and the younger generation. Each gender has used the other to meet his/her selfish needs.

While attending a distant university, one young man began what appeared to be a loving, caring relationship with a female student.

Two years later, after successfully completing the required coursework, thanks to the excellent tutoring by the young man, the relationship was over.

Later, he learned the woman “used” other men on her way to a promising career.

Perhaps one may address the basic question differently. What makes a man or woman incapable of discerning the differences between good and unacceptable behavior, especially before the relationship goes beyond the superficial level?

For one thing, the old saying, “love is blind” may be truer than we care to admit. Altruism is a noble desire. We thrust our hopes and dreams upon the relationship before it has the capability to discern the true nature of the person.

The heart, though driven by passions not understood rushes blindly onward. “Hush! I think I’m in love!” says the heart to the mind when red flags come into view. Ever hopeful, it complies.

Friends’ notes of caution are unwelcome guests in the crowded house. “Two’s company and three’s a crowd.”

If the one falling in love is young, the parents raise legitimate concerns. They do not count for anything. They are, after all “parents” and, to put it bluntly, old.

Lastly, there are times when one has observed all precautions and has taken every imaginable step to ensure there are no surprises. Yet, one discovers this was not enough.

Deception implies premeditation and intentional completion of a future act. It suggests a deep character flaw that has been groomed for one reason-to advance the purposes of the individual and none other.

Not all relationships that end badly mean an intentional deceptive act was to blame, however. One can arrive at a decision to terminate a relationship at any time, even for the best of reasons.

However, I have learned from observation, that many relationships share the common one character flaw of deception. It is selfish, it is deep-seated and often difficult to detect until it is too late.

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