Am I too honest?

Should I say what women want to hear, or tell them the truth and watch them walk away?


Cary Tennis
April 23, 2004 11:40PM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

I am a 30-year-old male, living in a Midwestern city where I just completed my MBA, having moved from New York. I have family here, but I'm really suffering in the dating scene for various reasons. I dated a fair amount in New York, but here all the women I meet immediately want to know my intentions, whether I plan to get serious, marriage, kids -- and if not, no dice, period. This usually happens with women over 30.

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One woman is 34 -- a good friend, whom I care a lot about. We are both experiencing somewhat lengthy dry spells and it would be great to just work things out physically between us and have that be that, but she's not having that. Unfortunately, she is looking for The One, and I have told her that, frankly, that ain't me. And this leads to my problem, if I have one: I am too honest with women.

Women want honesty, and in the long run, both parties are probably better off this way. And as one raised around women (four sisters and a mother) I have pretty much always been straight with them, often to the detriment of my own physical pleasure. I broke up with my last girlfriend, in part because after a year and a half, I knew it wasn't going any further, I wasn't in love with her and, at 28, she deserved to know that. Her complete sexual and general life inexperience (a 16-year-old in the body of a 28-year-old), and my inability to bring her up to speed was also a major factor there. Still, over the years I have missed out a number of times by "doing the right thing" and, frankly, I'm sick of it.

Times when I was dating a lot, I often didn't care that much about the women, and I don't think I was dishonest about that. I have now hit that level again. Is it OK to suspend honesty, or at least not specifically lie to them, just not say anything, merely to get laid? I think I'm the only one toeing the line anyway, so what's the difference? And what's up with these women anyway?

Honesty the Best Policy?

Dear Honesty,

No, you may not start lying about your intentions just to get laid. I don't need to go into why it's wrong. You seem to know that. But there are two things you can do to improve your social life. You can go out with younger women who haven't started thinking about settling down yet. And you can indulge in playful, flirtatious persuasion.

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That is, I think you can be basically honest about your intentions without being passive or completely transparent. You can say, for instance, that you're not looking to get married but you haven't ruled it out completely. You could say, for instance, that you're not looking to get married but if you were, present company would be in the running. There's nothing wrong with being playful or a little roguish. Nobody says you have to act like a deacon. Just don't be a sleazeball. Don't make promises you can't keep. Don't act out feelings that you don't have.

There's a difference between a decent, good-natured guy who's frankly on the make and a deceptive user, a creep, a sociopath. Part of the difference is in the calculations you make. If you tell a woman what you think she wants to hear and it's the truth -- for instance, that you think she's beautiful and sexy and just your type -- that's one thing. But if she tells you she's only interested in potential long-term partners, and you tell her that's what you're looking for too, then I think you've crossed the line.

Use your intuition. Use your good judgment. Don't be rigid. Tell the truth but have some fun. And try to date women who aren't looking to settle down.

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Cary Tennis

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