Now it’s time for the men’s stories: under what circumstances do men feel like commodities rather than friends or potential partners?
You may be able to guess some of them. They’re all real stories from people I talked with, I just changed the names. Unfortunately, I think the women enjoyed talking more than the men did, so I don’t have nearly as much from the men. But, I think the men who did share gave some great, common examples of how men can feel when taken for granted. And, as with the women, these stories represent how these men felt, and are not necessarily indicative of my opinions: the point is to understand where they’re coming from. Here we go…
Steven: More like a commodity than a person? Well, since I was usually the one initiating a date, I was probably more guilty of commoditizing women than the other way around. I guess the worst that I might have felt was as if I was a checklist more than a person–served a mission, check; active church-goer, check; orthodox believer, not-really check; business-major who’d pull a great income, no-way. I suppose those are the sorts of dating pressures I’ve occasional felt, but I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship now where I don’t feel so evaluated.
Marco: What stands out most for me were my cars. I had two. The first was an ugly, rickety, tin can, orange Kia Rio, (which) was my primary vehicle. Several women whom I asked out turned me down. However! My other car was a sleek, silver, two seater convertible which I seldom drove. Some of the women who turned me down for dates in the Kia sprang to new life upon seeing the convertible. “When are you asking me out again?” “Never.” I had heard of such shallow practices but never believed them to be true. They’re true.
David: I’m pretty sure some girls made their decision not to date me based on what they perceived my financial situation to be. I have mixed feelings about it because you don’t want to tell a woman, “No, you have to be poor!” But sometimes you’d like them to see that relationships can be built through struggling together, and that her husband might make more and more money as time goes on, and even if he doesn’t it’s still not the only factor.
I do know that shortly after I moved (in with my roommate) Ethan, he got a new job, and I distinctly remember hearing one girl in the mid-single’s ward say that of course she would date him now that he was making $95,000 a year.
It was just weird to hear somebody make such a distinct correlation between a guy’s salary and whether they would date him or not. That’s why a girl shouldn’t look at a guy’s present financial situation as the prime indicator of whether they should date him or not, because his situation could change for better or for worse. The economy took a downturn and he lost that job just three years later, and was mostly out of work for almost six years after that.
Jeff: This is a challenging question to answer. I came from the last generation where men paid for the date and I still feel that way. I felt like commodity in marriage, but never during dating. I worked very hard to support us. I felt like I rarely asked her to do much. Late in the marriage when the Bishop himself began to challenge her to do more to help with the marriage, and she didn’t do anything, I was like, “why am I sacrificing for this marriage like this, when she won’t do anything?” The divorce quickly followed. The first year we had both worked: my money paid the bills, her money she spent on herself. The 2nd year she stopped working and started raiding our checking account, and stopped going to church too. The 3rd year we divorced.
Abraham: I have never chosen to feel like a commodity, regardless of what anyone has said or done. I don’t manifest my insecurities that way. If I start to feel hopeless, I get offended and swear. If I feel like I’m not in control, I stay up all night. If I feel I can’t get what I want, I eat something. If I want to avoid the truth, I watch TV or play mindless video games. Lastly, more to the point sometimes I feel like a nuisance and a bother around others which isn’t good, practically when you’re trying to impress someone; I guess that’s my insecurity.