May I call you, darling?  Just as soon as theyve invented the telephone, that is...

"May I call you, darling? Just as soon as they've invented the telephone, that is..."

The next thrilling instalment in our series “Men behaving wisely” is…

2. Don’t date or court women who can’t retain your respect (or who fail to respect you).

Sounds rather awful when put baldly down like that, doesn’t it?  “Aye, laddie, watch oot fur they wee minxes that grow their fingernails lang and chew gum in the street!  Yer mither would turn in her grave—uh, if she were deid…”

What’s this rule about then?  Well, it’s really another piece of astonishingly anodyne common-sense, I suppose.  [Lector: “Fancy that…” ]  It is less judgemental than it sounds.  The shelf-life of a relationship in which one or both of the parties has insufficient respect for the other cannot be expected to be long.  Sometimes, for no fault of the insufficiently-respected party, their counterpart has an aversion to a particular character trait or piece of habitual behaviour or persistent attitude that drives them potty.  It might be something as small as a habit of interrupting other people mid-sentence, or something as serious as a malicious or deeply selfish streak.  Sometimes these failings in the would-be spouse can be lived with, overcome or even embraced as a part of the otherwise-wonderful creature he-or-she is.  Marvellous, and a sweet victory for love over irritability.  But often it is otherwise. 

It would not even be necessary to delineate this rule were it not for our weakness (admit it now, chaps) for becoming attracted to women whose behaviour is often egregiously bad.  If the bad behaviour is such (e.g., throwing tantrums when thwarted, outrageous flirting with all and sundry, getting squiffy and argumentative at the drop of a hat, etc.) that you would be embarrassed and disgusted at it in the conduct of a friend’s gal, you are well advised to resist whatever other charms you are attracted by, because trouble’s almost certainly a-brewin’.   

You may think that her beautiful figure and charming sense of humour, her kindness to animals and refreshing lack of physical self-consciousness outweigh the irritation you feel every time she acts out the bad behaviour, and she may actually be a decent enough person and all of that jazz—but be vigilant about your inner responses.  Watch out for troublesome symptoms like frequently being drawn to take the opposite side in a disagreement or argument from that of your amour, or becoming uncharacteristically resentful of her small misdemeanours on a regular basis.  If these manifest themselves often enough and early enough, you may need to re-assess your suitability as her beau.  She is, after all, a beloved creature turned on God’s wheel in the image of Himself, and needs someone who can respect her for who she is, if such a one there is.  If, for whatever reason, you cannot muster enough respect for her general person  and character, you let both yourself and her down by persisting.  You will both value yourselves less if you manifest this lack of respect: she because she doesn’t feel respected, you because you’ll feel you’re “settling” for less that you deserve in a relationship (and, if you’re a decent enough cove, because you feel badly about not being able to repect her more).  And this can only lead in the long run to treating one another badly, at some level or other.

It is as important, of course, that you can be sure that she respects you.  If, for example, she is highly critical of your involvement in a centrally important pursuit in your life (let’s say, singing in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas—though it could at a push be battle re-enactment, or playing the spoons) without good cause, and goes on about how stupid/boring/hypocritical such a pursuit is, that’s a danger-sign.  You need her to be able to respect any important enough innocent part of your life, and you (probably) deserve that respect. 

A sign of having truly fallen in love with a woman is a (non-pathological) feeling that she is somehow more worthy of your attentions than you of hers—should she return them, you really feel like the luckiest man alive.  You skip, you jump, you babble, you write drippy blog-posts.  If on the other hand you feel she’s got a pretty good deal in you and she should be jolly grateful (even if a neutral bystander might think the honour even between you), you may be suffering a lack of the relevant respect and devotion.  It’s just not meant to feel like that.  This is closely related to the “pinch test”, about which I will blog anon…

In the certainty that I’ve missed out or misrepresented some of what I meant to say here, I’ll leave this McRule in its rude and thready state.  Rough-hew it how you will.