The Mystery of Men, Part 1

I like men. I have more than liked a number of them, I have adored them. One was my husband; a couple were lovers. Some have been friends or colleagues. But I do not profess to understand them. In fact, the older I become, the more I realize that I don’t really know much about anything, and where men are concerned, I suspect that any woman who thinks she understands them is delusional.

Men are mysterious creatures. I would liken them to dragons or griffins, except that I understand dragons much better than I understand men and griffins were said to mate for life, which makes the comparison to men completely unsuitable. That men are mysterious creatures has become all the more obvious to me as I have navigated the online dating world. Trying to make sense out of them from online photos and profiles, along with message and text exchanges, phone conversations, and dates, has proven challenging. And it is not for lack of trying or lack of accumulated understanding about the way things work in life.

I am lucky to live in a state that attracts and supports people who are active and appreciate the outdoors. I’m one of those people. But the online profiles of Colorado men are heaving with enough vigorous activities to make even a Colorado woman wonder how they bear the weight of them: bicycling, hiking, tennis, running, weightlifting, skiing (snow and water), snowboarding, rock climbing, kayaking, and football among them. Some of the same profiles also refer to less strenuous activities like golfing, motorcycling, fishing, playing pool, and walking.

Let me be clear: Many men are not talking about participating in just one or two of these activities, but profess to be regularly involved in several. And many don’t have much else about themselves in their profiles.

One man I know regularly (as in more than once a week) bicycles, hikes, golfs, and plays tennis, weather permitting. He and other men I know have admitted to taking naps. Does this not tell them something?

I’m a pretty physical person myself. In fact, I have been told that my astrological chart reveals my need to be more than usually active. Apparently, I will blow a few circuits if I don’t expend energy. I work out at the gym for three hours, three times a week, to stay fit. Do I enjoy it? Yes. There is a certain creature pleasure in using and challenging my body. But the fact that it makes the rest of my life more functional and viable is an important part of my commitment to it. It is what time at the gym does for me that keeps me coming back, not the mere heft of the weights, the whirr of the treadmill, the torture-rack-extension of the stretching equipment, or the bullying dare of the innocent looking thing called the mat.

My life outside the gym also gives me plenty of opportunity for physical activity because I don’t hire someone to do the manual labor I can do myself. I get the added benefit of being outdoors when I do yardwork. And yes, I love beauty, including the beauty of flora, so I get a bit carried away with gardening (which is not a passive pastime). I like to hike too, but I prefer having a hiking partner to either hiking by myself or being in a hiking club.

I don’t do any of these things merely to fill time. And I wonder if some of the men whose profiles I am looking at are.

Surely, most of the active men experience the same creature pleasure that accompanies using the body that I do. Surely, they like to be outdoors. Surely, they like what physical activity does for them. Many probably like some competitive aspect of what they are doing. But does the laundry list of physical activities suggest that some of these men are filling time with physical activities because they lack breadth and depth of interest in other things? Or are some of them just doing the online written equivalent of flexing their muscles to attract the female of the species? Is it a testosterone thing?

I admit that I am mystified.

It is true that the profiles of some of the men who have caught my attention have included an interest in the arts, an attraction to kicking back with their woman over a bottle of wine and steaks cooked on the grill, an appreciation for books and movies, or a boast about their ability to fix things. To the extent that there is something other than their sports activities listed in a profile, I hold out hope for an interesting (not just fit) man.

But I am still mystified by how men represent themselves and what it means. Do those men with the long lists of sports activities have room for a woman (beyond merely bedding her) in their lives? Do they want a woman as addicted to sports as them or do they want to partake of the sports with their male buddies and leave the woman to her own devices? If the latter, I refer back to the first question: Do they have time for a woman?

Or is all or most of what is on the profile fantasy and posturing?

And if it is, where does that leave me?


Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall



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