I've noticed that I no longer buy my girlfriend flowers. I am thinking about it right now, but as soon as I leave for work, I will get distracted and then I'll be on the subway home before I even think about it again. I can hear you saying "uhhhh huh," and I get it—I feel bad!
Actually, maybe that's something women don't hear enough. Men feel bad about things. We may seem like we don't, but we do. In fact, I polled a bunch of my friends to find out the most common causes—and their answers might surprise you.
"I feel guilty about criticizing her eating or workout habits," said one respondent. He wasn't the only one who said things (repeatedly) that he wished he hadn't said. Whether it was an off-the-cuff remark about your "work/life balance," an outfit, or (god forbid) your body, he feels guilty and likely knows you're obsessing over that comment in the back of your mind.
Over and over again I heard the same thing: "What I feel most guilty about? Waiting for her to leave for the day so I can jerk off." Yes, we like having sex with you...but occasionally (or in some of these cases, not so occasionally) a guy would like a little "alone time."
While I want to refrain from judging my fellow man, there were a few people in this group who came back to me with admissions of guilt because during one of those sessions, they jerked off while thinking of their partner's friend, sister, or cousin. These gentlemen say they would never in a million years act out on such an urge, but that when left to their own imagination, they're thinking why not?
Many of the men I talked to in relationships fell into my category of guilt: the "I used to be so spontaneous and romantic and now I'm a busy asshole" category. I wasn't the only one who hasn't bought flowers in a while. Other guys said they used to pick up candy after work or a little souvenir when they were away on a trip. A handful were in the habit of doing surprise date nights - elaborate dinner/drink/special-activity-we've-never-done-before events. These days they don't. Why? "I always mean to get small things to show her I love her…a card, candy, something small just so she knows I am thinking of her. With the grind of work, life, and the kid I tend to slip and forget. I feel guilty about that."
There are certain big dates that many of the committed men had to miss: your birthday, Valentine's Day, that major work event, your anniversary. Whatever big dates exist in your relationship, if your guy can't make it due to a family or work thing, he's definitely going to feel guilty for a long time to come. You don't need to say anything; he knows he's done wrong and will ideally try to make it up to you.
Guys who are newly in a relationship gave me a blanket "I used to sort of be a jerk" response when I probed for guilt. A number of guys felt like they had led women on. One said, "I feel guilty about that girl I hooked up with every weekend but didn't really see myself dating (even though I totally made it seem like we would)." Also: the slow fade—where a guy leaves longer and longer response times between texts and phone calls, ultimately aiming to never reply again—was a trademark move that many of the newly committed men I spoke to felt guilty about in retrospect.
So on behalf of all of us: We're sorry. And we'll try to remember the flowers next time.
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