I was recently involved with someone who deemed himself a gentleman, but arguably didn’t consistently act in that manner. The ambiguous feelings I had toward him have subsided. Time, and the recent horrific events in Santa Barbara, have brought some clarity. And more questions. I write this in the hope it invites further dialogue as it relates to the realm of male and female relationships, which mostly reflect on our relationships with ourselves.
My particular situation, which saw me ultimately acting without integrity (I comment-vomited on his new girl’s Instagram), had me questioning my own sanity, despite the hurt I felt at his hands. So what’s the tie between the “nice guy” and my “crazy girl” behavior?
The hidden gradations our society has for the roles of heterosexual men and women work against us and the gender-relations’ cause.
The alpha male. The slut. The girl-next-door. The stalker. The gentleman. The bachelor. These are the roles that limit our capacity to love in a whole way. These are the narratives we let ourselves believe in order to limit ourselves, to limit uncertainty and the discomfort of acknowledging our ever-changing identities.
Elliot Rodger’s mental state and his YouTube manifesto, describing his loneliness, his frustrations with being a virgin at 22 and at having never kissed a girl, are incredibly troubling. The mental-health issues aren’t things I’m going to get into, and in no way do I want to downplay their significance. It’s the idea that an entire community exists, one centered around picking up girls – frustrations with girls – “playing” girls, (not to mention the unspoken solidarity females can exhibit when complaining about men), that also troubles me. It’s an indication we may have lost our way.
An old roommate once summed it up nicely: We are all just looking for a profound love. The path to finding that love can make for bumps on the road, perhaps more for some than others. But these hiccups are simply leading us to a place where, not only do we love ourselves, we can be the best partner possible to someone else.
It reminds me of a favorite quote: God has put people in our lives so that we may be a blessing to them.
Binaries can help us make sense of our relationships, for a time, but they aren’t truths. If Elliot Rodger had been mentally able to take a leap of faith to look beyond the “narrative fallacy” of him being the nice guy, he may have found himself in another position. As a boyfriend. As a husband, and later as a father. Watching that video – I saw a boy who had decided something about himself years ago. The irony, of course, is that the girls he felt had rejected him are reconciling their own heteronormative relationship roles, and he used theirs (“sluts”) against them. And now there are six victims who won’t be able to love on this earth again.
We are more than these roles. In love, we take advantage of others and find ourselves taken advantage of. We act without integrity, and surprise ourselves with our restraint. We don’t need to pigeon-hole it, or why. If you’re stuck in a relationship-role box, I encourage you to question it. And never doubt how whole you were all along.