Girls like that might go for guys like you
Sometimes the unexpected happens.
“I could never”.
Much as I like Custard (the band, and the buttery-yellow gloop, especially if there’s a skin, and it came from powder), I have one big, turgid, boner to pick with them. In their seminal nineties track Girls Like That these omnipotent Brisbane minstrels gave voice to one of the biggest problems we face when it comes to finding love.
Keen readers, or Aussie-alt-rock-afficionados, may already have a tingling in their thinky-bits about just what that may be, having noticed my omission of the track title’s proviso in parenthesis:
To wit, Girls Like That (Don’t Go For Guys Like Us), an explainer that explains a lot more than the song, and a song title that talks about something we ought to. Something that lies at the heart of any hopelessly frustrated romantic life.
What is it?
Let’s find out by way of role play!
You are walking down the street. You feel OK today, having remembered to both wash hair and teeth. You see someone approaching. They are hot, they are divine, they would feel excellent wrapped around your body, and they are walking your way, and they are looking at you, and then you think: “But I could never..."
I could never get, never tap, never have, never hold, never impress, never interest, never touch, never talk to, never be with, never ever never even dream of asking out someone like that. Girl, guy, it doesn’t matter. The great second-guess doesn’t sex discriminate, even if it makes sex much less likely.
Doubt. Damn doubt, gross misapprehensions, and bloody insecurity – are people ever really out of our league, or do we just think they are?
I think it could be the latter. And I think the thinking occurs on a micro and macro level. Identifying and overcoming these two obstacles is the key to success.
Psychologists who offer relationship advice to people who are plagued by self-doubt suggest the unfavourable behaviour can be linked to self-absorbed parents. In her book Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers, Doctor Karyl McBride suggests, among other things, parents who are narcissistic – that is parents who see their children as extensions of themselves – are brought up to question themselves excessively, and worry whether they’ll ever ‘measure up’. The associated guilt and uncertainty breeds unhealthy levels of self-doubt.
But I’d like to further this discussion by touching on cultural narcissism – that idea raised by WW Norton in 1979, way before Facebook et al – and how it relates Down Under (both as a nether region and nether-regions...). Because we all know there are problems with the way we love and shag and date in Australia. We know this because of what we observe without and within us. And we should try and fix it.
“Cultural Narcissism”, according to Norton, speaks to a specific period in American history when the cultural landscape was dominated hedonism and empty of liberalism. Gone were the elements that forced people to ask big questions and face up to uncomfortable answers – ‘real’ art, religion, and intimacy – and left was a society outwardly cocky and inwardly cowardly. In short, a society happy to gaze at its mirrored reflection but unwilling to delve too far below the surface lest something unflattering is found.
There are similarities with contemporary Australian culture, and contemporary Australians (#landrights #boatpeople #etc).
Just like Darryl Kerrigan’s dreamin’ sequences, when they sing about women they couldn’t have crack at, Brisbane’s very own Custard boys are drinking from certain kind of chalice and spitting out the poison - one that cuts poppies, knocks blokes about, keeps sheilas to heel and stops people from getting all bloody-up-themselves. Brewed up from a few centuries of cultural uncertainty, the bane of our collective psychology is our inability to just ‘be cool’. Call it the great Australian Awkwardness if you will, it is cultural narcissism all the same and many of us are affected by it.
This is why I reckon this whole girls/guys like that business can be corrected.
Much like children learn to overcome self-doubt, so too can cultures. It just takes time and effort. We need to rehabilitate the sense of self and kick the cringe which hampers possibilities, be they possibilities relating to states and war or opportunities concerning dates and, well, sex.
I certainly know I’m trying.
So, much as I love Custard, next time I see a guy I like, even if I think he wouldn’t go for a girl like me, I’m going to give it a red-hot go. And this time, I’m serious.
How about you?
Do you doubt yourself when it comes to intimate dealings with other people? Do you ever let ideas about leagues get in the way of love? Do you think that Australians suck at dating because of an overarching insecurity? Or are you too cool for school (Barack Obama, that means you).