A friend of mine got toasted the other day. The relationship had really been over for years but she had managed to delude herself that although this very boring guy seemed not to want to spend much time with her and did a lot of going to strip clubs and scuba diving with mates he really loved her. It is always very hard to believe that someone who claims to love you very much actually does not love you at all. Someone quoted Germaine Greer at me on the phone recently. ‘Nothing will ever change for women until they learn that what they think of as love is actually hate.’ This seems to me to apply to a million relationships I can think of. Never mind ‘he’s just not that into you.’ It’s more like; ‘He detests you and all women.’
Anyway, tedious guy, it turns out, is now going out with someone he openly sneered at while he was with my friend. ‘I mean, she’s so boring!’ my friend exclaimed. ‘AND ugly!’
‘That’s what they love,’ I pointed out. And it’s true. Men are not looking for the best looking, wittiest and most exciting woman they can find. They really aren’t. They like fantasising about Claudia Schiffer or whoever, but if she was actually sitting there all goddessy on the sofa every day they’d feel fat, bald and insecure. Because, let’s face it, they probably are fat, bald and insecure. It is famously true that very beautiful and very successful women find it almost impossible to locate a half-acceptable date. Most men want to have the upper hand and get competitive and abusive if they fear they might not have it.
‘Oh God, it’s true!’ my friend said. ‘He hated talking about politics with me because he knew fuck all about it and always thought I was trying to make him look stupid if I said something like; ‘Obama is a good president.’ But whenever we were with her he’d say to her; ‘Let me tell you about Barack Obama,’ and she stared at him all adoringly and said; ‘Ooooh you’re so clever.’’
I’m not just man-bashing here. I think it’s true of both genders, it’s just that most women know it and most men don’t. People don’t want to be with the best looking most gripping person in the world. They want to be made to feel, at least to one person, like the best looking and most gripping person in the world. It’s like that Queen Victoria quote. She said; ‘I sat next to Mr Gladstone and thought him the most interesting man in Britain. Then I sat next to Mr Disraeli and he made me feel like the most interesting woman in Britain.’ I might have got that wrong, but you get the picture.
Men who are constantly trying to entertain women, cracking jokes and telling stories, always end up with a lot of female friends. Men who get laid a lot know how to sit and listen and make you feel fantastic. And it’s always a shock, if they are good at it, when it turns out they weren’t that interested, they were just trying to get laid. The people you want to be around aren’t always the funniest and the best looking, but the ones who make you feel happy. For narcissistic men, feeling happy involves being the cleverer and the better looking one. That’s why Bill Clinton went for homely Monica, and, the other way round, why Britney Spears is with her homely manager. And those couples like Bernie and Slavica Ecclestone, where you get an unattractive but stupendously rich man with a stupendously attractive woman, are perfect because nobody feels insecure. They are genuinely equal. (Though, actually, they just got divorced, but I don’t suppose either party will be replacing the other with their looks equal).
It is strange and confusing. Wonderful, exciting women are so often asking themselves; ‘What’s wrong with me? I must be ugly/ boring/ have done something wrong.’ But half the time the opposite is in fact true. You were so fabulous that he got nervous, felt inadequate, couldn’t cope and then lashed out at you in the way that would hurt you most. By turning away with no explanation.
I worry for my sister, who’s 21 and my daughter who was nine this week. They are both staggering beauties and two of the most sparklingly funny, clever and accomplished girls who have ever glittered across the earth. My sister spent a lot of her teens worrying that nobody fancied her because only the absolutely psychotic sleazeballs dared approach her. The nice normal guys thought she’d never be interested in them and settled for the homely girls who flattered them. I know we all think our angels are too good for anyone, but some people really are too intimidatingly fabulous to cope with. That is, for narcissistic competitive men (most men) to cope with.
I once told my husband that he was the best looking man I’d ever been out with. He told me I definitely wasn’t the best looking woman he’d ever been out with. Perhaps I should have been flattered. So, next time your husband or boyfriend is spending too much time with a less interesting, less good looking woman, feel worried. They love that.