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Girls like that might go for guys like you

Date
Sometimes the unexpected happens.

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).

And now, for your listening pleasure...

kfeeney@fairfaxmedia.com.au

255 comments

  • In my limited experience of "punching above my weight", it just isn't worth the hassle.

    Women are hypergamous by nature - always searching for a bigger and better deal - so they'll always end up wanting something better. It's in their genes (jeans?) ...

    Alpha or bust.

    But I'm just a dog. What would I know?

    Commenter
    Scooby
    Location
    Eating dog food for breakfast before my walk
    Date and time
    September 14, 2012, 6:38AM
    • There you go City Kat, refuted in the very first post. It's not me, it's them.

      Commenter
      bornagirl
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 7:53AM
    • Unfortunately I agree in part. I've dated a few women I would have called out of my league. But they were unfortunately either rather vile, or quite vapid. As friends though, they were much more enjoyable to be around.

      Commenter
      dave
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:02AM
    • Dave, if they are vile and/or vapid then why would they be out of your league?

      if you are going to apply a classification system, i.e. a hierarchy of best to worst, then would not a person with an unpleasant personality be somewhere near the bottom as opposed to at the top? Or does their physical appearance (and presumed youth) systematically move them to the top regardless of personality?

      So in this case does 'out of my league' means superior physical attractiveness as dictated by media ideals?

      Commenter
      Jill
      Location
      psychedelia
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:21AM
    • @Dalliance, cheers
      @rudy, nope, it’s what I always believe in.

      Commenter
      Victorious Painter
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:22AM
    • hm, re-reading my previous comment, i probably should have worded it better.

      I've pursued a number of women out of a purely physical attraction (i'm just a normal looking guy, and would consider them out of my league). Upon dating them I have found that they were either one of two things. Simply not pleasant to be around, and quite rude to other people (something that i very much dislike). Or interested only in going out and writing themselves off two or three times a week, every week (which is fine once in a while, but not constantly). Yes, pursuing these women without knowing them was probably fairly unwise. More than anything this means i'm not a good initial judge of character, but the experience as a whole has said to me that these gorgeous women are not a good bet (not for me at any rate).

      Commenter
      dave
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:23AM
    • Well, not much it seems Scooby. Not much at all.....

      Commenter
      AT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 9:55AM
    • Dave,

      You say you 'pursued a number of women out of a purely physical attraction' and then get all stroppy and let down when they somehow, in your opinion, do not match up personality wise to the pedal-stool you have put them on based on outward appearances only?

      Shallow pursuits end with shallow gains, Dave. Maybe they gave you only what you were after.
      Then to say that 'these gorgeous women are not a good bet', of course Dave, a beautiful woman MUST have something lacking hey? Otherwise, shock horror, you may have to face up to your own inadequacies and insecurities.
      Give jack, get jack Dave....

      Commenter
      AT
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 10:08AM
    • @Jill

      To a degree, yes. Physical attractiveness is certainly a factor for me when I look at dating. Youth, not so much, but I'm mid 20s so I don't really consider it. You can't honestly tell me that people can't (or in fact, don't) make judgements based on physical characteristics. If I see a stunning woman, of course I'm going to want to get to know her. Like most men, I have two brains. I'm not particularly worried about the lower one sometimes doing the thinking, whether or not applying such a shallow assesment is morally or societally proper. Fact of the matter is that it does happen, and it's not just me. We can't be completely without flaws. Anyone who thinks otherwise is likely expecting too much of a mans psyche.

      Commenter
      dave
      Location
      sydney
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 10:25AM
    • The great thing about dogs is their loyalty. They don't care if you're a 1 or a 10. :)

      Commenter
      MO4
      Date and time
      September 14, 2012, 10:58AM

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