Why you cannot shag a guy you’ve just met. Even when you’re forty.

Remember that stuff your gender politics lecturer taught you about men and women? That the only reason we are different is because girls were given dolls to play with and boys were given guns? Well, I’m sure she was coming from a good place and bless her Birkenstocks for it, but fuck me, what a load of bollocks. For 20 years it’s been my job to navigate the tricky terrain of modern relationships and to try and establish what kinds of creatures men and women are and what we want from each other, and I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I’ve learned a thing or two. And the reality aint got nothin’ to do with feminism, dolls or guns.

Here’s a story by way of illustration (and this is just one of many I’ve encountered over the years). I have a guy friend; we’ll call him Michael because he will definitely read this and kill me if I use his real name. Michael is forty, has been divorced for a year and has one child. He is good-looking and owns a successful business. He’s moved on from the angst of divorce and is now ready to meet Somebody. Cue Chantal (not her real name). Chantal is also divorced, also has children and (hallelujah) is also keen on getting involved again. She is gorgeous (as in she’d look great hanging upside down from a stripper pole), has a good income and is ‘tough and kind and intriguing’ (in Michael’s words. I never did meet her to find out for myself. Read on).

Both understand the crapness of divorce; neither wants more children, and when he tells me about her he is more excited than I’ve heard him be about anyone. They have a strategy in place: in order not to affect their kids, friends or family, they will keep their relationship a secret – only seeing each other in private until they know one another better and are confident this will work. Great strategy, you might say – round of applause for these two adults, folks. Except, except – it’s very, very early days and strategies for how to involve children are just an element of what is required here. And in this, people, is where Chantal makes her fatal mistake.

I guess the girl wasn’t reading her Cosmo, or she was taking gender politics lecturer’s advice at face value. But, relationships with men (especially the skittish young ones and the battle-weary divorced) require some planning if they are going to work. You’ve got to see it like going into war. Because (ask Pat Benatar), you are. Relationships are a warzone where you have a 50% chances of getting out unscathed. Be smart, you’ll conquer the enemy. Be stoopid, you’ll get annihilated. So, back to Chantal. In the erroneous belief that they were both adults who had been around the block and the rules didn’t apply anymore, she shagged him immediately. Not once, but repeatedly. She showed up at his house during her lunch break and shagged him some more.

Then they go out on a date on Saturday night and he is (surprise!) distant. Of course he’s distant – this is Male Behaviour 101. Which is not offered as a first year course, but should be. He’s distant because this amount of availability messes with his brain. As much as we would like to believe otherwise, men (even at 40 and 50 and 60) cannot handle when you like them as much as they like you, and the fact that you’ve destroyed the mystery so early on in the game. They need to chase women. It’s hardwired into their genes, and it’s what makes sense to them on a level even they don’t understand. It’s about the fact that he needs to believe you’re a little bit better than him; a little bit hard to get, and a lot worth the effort. Even if you’re so smitten you’d marry him forever tomorrow, for god’s sake, don’t let him know. Come Monday morning Michael ended the relationship. And it could have been a really nice thing if only she’d played her cards right.

So, the moral of the story is this: If you like him and he likes you – as stupid and sexist and retrogressive as this may be – you have to play games. Men. Need. The. Chase. If you want this guy in a long-term kind of way, don’t shag him, don’t whatsapp him ten times a day and (even if it kills you) do not be available every time he dials your number. Because when you instantly offer yourself on a platter his brain short-circuits and he runs away, whimpering. It’s the oldest story in the world – even your gran knew this stuff. If he likes you enough, he’ll come get you. It’s just the way it works.

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19 thoughts on “Why you cannot shag a guy you’ve just met. Even when you’re forty.

  1. Bollocks! I understand the idea of generalizing for a story and message, but I think you are off with your understanding of men. You could take turn this around and say, all women are sluts? Also rubbish! Everyone likes the chase, the hunt and the capture. Not very nice being so rude to the XX chromosomes. For shame!

  2. I think you’ve found the meaning of life right there as nothing else really matters.Ask the rich,ask the poor.The chase is the only bit of excitement you get out of a relationship.(Just joking) :-P

  3. So if you do play the game, and get his interest and excitement going by being slightly unavailable, hard to get .. if you make him work for it .. but eventually you let him have it – then where will the thrill come from? Sooner or later he’s ‘won’ you, he gets a big feel-good out of it .. and then? Then your whole strategy has to change, if you want to keep him around. Or do you keep playing, keep making it difficult, keep challenging him all the way along? Very curious …

    1. No, I don’t think you have to keep playing games – that would be really difficult to pull off. I think that once the relationship becomes a little more established – even after a few weeks – and moves a bit beyond that of a purely physical attraction you’re okay. If you shag somebody right away you run the risk of being put in the ‘one night stand’ category as opposed to somebody who has a mind and opinions and is worth having around. Of course there are exceptions to this, I am generalizing. But I don’t think I’m off the mark, either :-)

  4. works the other way round too, men who are too eager to get into a relationship scare women away, women like the challenge and chase of winning the prize of a mans commitment. no-one values what they get too easily…think about this: someone walks up to you on the street and hands you the keys to their car, you’re gunna be thinking ‘what’s the catch?’…’why are they so eager to give me their car?’…”there must be something wrong with it’

  5. Wow you are amazing, this is the best advice a girl can get on relationships. Any guy who believes this is wrong is simply drinking form the big Egyptian river (de Nile).

  6. Personally – writing here as a male – I think you are a little off target though in the right area (with this thing called availability).

    My concern would be if she is such a ready shag then the first time she runs across another eligible man she’d be off shagging with the next fellow. Given that she even showed up for a ‘nooner’, how could one trust her?

    Best to dump her before things get complicated and she breaks your heart.

  7. I have shagged a guy right away, I became his girlfriend and then I dumped him. I have had friends with similar experiences. We are all quite independent and if a guy thinks like that he’s too shallow to keep.

    I do think people who want sex are greater in number than those who want sex + a relationship + are compatible with me. Thus if I jump into bed with a guy right away without finding out about him, or he, I, then chances are we won’t work out. Not because of the chase, but because the people I am compatible with are a small number of people out of the total number I would have sex with.

    I find “the chase” is actually related to independence. Someone independent with their own life is just intriguing. I want to know more about an independent person irrespective of being penetrated by them or not. Many of my male friends feel the same way, and they have ended their relationships not because putting their penis in a woman made her irrevocably boring and shit, but because they were incompatible.

    Sexual tension does add to a new relationship but it isn’t the only thing that drives the formation of a long term relationship. Furthermore for some people sex builds feelings of intimacy very quickly so your friend may wish to look at how he feels about sex and if those feelings are intense then he should consider taking things slowly rather than passively letting only the woman decide every step (he could wait until he is ready) then having some kind of freak out and dumping her and blaming her for not being “chaseable”.

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