The Fishing Theory

17 Dec

by Stacie Smack

I regularly wish I taped my therapy sessions. There are some real gems that come out of the conversations I have with Tito (as one would hope, given the steep fee I’m charged for those 50 minutes of uninterrupted me-talk). Because of basic common sense and because good quality wires are so expensive, I don’t tape them.

Recently, he and I established that my approach to dating is like fishing. I’ve never gone fishing but I have a basic understanding of how it works, thank you television. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into fishing, a lot of planning, and it’s not a simple task. Yet, there is a clear goal: to catch a fish.

As it turns out, when one goes fishing, one does not jump into the ocean and yell “I want fish! Come to me fish!”. This would be too direct, too noisy, and too obvious and the fish would get scared and obviously swim away.  Instead, there’s bait designed to be deceiving. The idea is to convince the fish that you want nothing to do with them – in fact you conceal the hook (what gets you what you want) to look like food (something that they want that you would never actually want to eat yourself!). You give the wrong impression and that guarantees that you’ll get the fish!

I’m hoping that by now, the metaphor has become quite clear. I spend a lot of time sitting on that big leather chair, telling him how much I want a man to fall in love with me head over heels. And as I tell him, I realize that  we go out to bars and we talk to guys and we do everything possible to seem cool, unattached, and as far from desperate as possible. We conceal what we really want so well, because we are so scared (perhaps rightfully so) that if we approach the process directly, all men will see is flutter in the water and they will swim away.

I mean, really, can you imagine what would happen if you went up to a guy and said “Hi, I’m Blah Blah and I want to be married by 26 and start having babies at 27, would you be interested in finding out if you are the one I should do it with?” Luckily for me, I don’t want any of those things. But I run out of fingers and toes if I try to count the number of girlfriends I have who do want that. And, you can bet your ass that by the time you finish that sentence, you’ll be talking to a wall.

I know I am generalizing here. Not every girl dresses “to impress men” and no woman should. But at least I know I am guilty of dressing in low cut shirts and short skirts, not just because I feel confident and sexy, but because I know that guys will notice me. I egg them on in conversations that quickly begin to insinuate that they have a chance with me. Obviously, I’m totally hiding my real intentions and desires, and instead I play on to behavior that I hope will hook them, but that gives an impression that affects their behavior towards me.

I guess, when it comes to fishing, if you get the spicy ahi tuna to bite on the bite, it’s much more likely that it will get hooked and that you’ll have something for dinner that night. The fish won’t really run away once it’s on the boat. The same does not apply to men. Just because you get them to fall for the bait, either but getting a number or by getting into your pants, it does not guarantee that you’ll have what you really wanted.

I guess the point that Tito was trying to make is that perhaps dating is not like fishing and it should not be approached as such, but for some reason both men and women have been conditioned to play games that end up looking like that.The problem is that then you spend a couple of months dating someone, and you finally feel comfortable to say “hey, let’s be exclusive, let’s put labels on our relationship, and let’s work hard on this in case it can be forever” and this will still cause the fish (man) to jump overboard. You take away his bachelor status and he realizes that he can’t breath outside of the water. He starts choking, feels trapped and jumps! Even if there are other predators in the water, at least he’s in his natural environment!

The difference is that once you catch a man, the metaphor breaks. Being in a relationship does not equate to eating a caught fish for dinner.

So what now? For starters, I’m working on being more honest. Perhaps by not lying about what I do, or where I am from, or what I like to do. Perhaps by breaking Stacie’s Rules of Dating, and responding to a text immediately rather than waiting the necessary 4 hours.

So what now? It’s obviously not all me. Betty can tell you about this much better than I can, but perhaps guys need to stop feeling life fish out of water the second that a relationship starts getting serious. We are not trapping you, catching you, or taking you from your natural environment. Are we?

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