So over the past week, I’ve been hearing from friends in different parts of the world how non-commital men in their lives are being. For example, friend in India complains of boy ‘blowing hot and cold’ (apologies to concerned person for using your angst as material for blog but noone will know its you). In the Americas, friend says her boy cannot be pinned down to a dinner date unless she invites him three days in advance and even then, he may not commit. Friend in HK complains that boy in her life cannot be pinned down to a date until the very last minute – thus invites to boy will result in cryptic “maybes” and then sms at 4 am going “where are u”.

I refer to them as boys because they cannot be considered men until they GROW UP. Though in most cases, they never do.

Over Vietnamese lunch, had this conversation with E (friend in HK). Asked her how it’s going with guy she met a couple of weeks ago and who she says she really really likes and who she feels she forged some kind of connection with. A few weeks ago she had that kind of delighted glow which comes with the feeling that you’ve found someone who is damn near perfect and who you just spend a day and a night with in endearing love coccoon.

Two weeks down the line – not so happening.

Yes, these things happen, but in this case – E is still infused with the glow-dregs of the last time they met and from the tidbits of hope he keeps feeding her. I hate to be a cynic (ok but I am) but as an objective third party listener it sounded a lot like emotional fuckwittage (bridget jones to the rescue again!). Like, one week after the blissful day and night together, she finds out that he has a messy girlfriend situation. Everyone you meet in HK seems to have one of these stories – some ex-girlfriend/wife they were totally in love with and for some reason it did not work out (often due to girlfriend/wife cheatinf on the guy concerned/them going fat which is equivalent to cheating in this banker-dominated society) but that’s another story. E is sensible enough to be suspicious about ex reference and asks boy what it means. He says “You just really make me happy”.

See, this statement at the time of bliss is bound to sound completely different from what it sounds to the rest of us in the cold light of day. I myself have in the afterglow of well, sex said to a boy “I can’t give you a commitment but can we just have sex” (or something to that effect – how stupid was I? What male would say no to commitmentless sex… it’s their version of heaven) and he smiled at me beautiful (god, he was beautiful) and said “Whatever makes you happy”. And I was so touched. How naive.

But the thing is, like E, I am still confused over whether that was a line because he really truly looked like he meant it. Whatever.

Even if he truly meant it (guys are famous anyway for saying – but I really meant it, at the time) future behavious was not promising. Guy was supposed to meet her over weekend and ditched on ground of work. I am too nice to point out of E that if a guy really likes you, work, of all things , is never an issue. Next week – again ditched on grounds of work and because he is going to England the next day. This is where alarm bells start ringing – if it’s so special, then how come he’s buzzing off to England, without telling E when he’s coming back.

Because, to tell her when he’s coming back is to indicate that he owes her something and that would be too scary for him to comprehend. As I was explaining to E, guys don’t do this at a conscious level. If it’s conscious at all, it’s at a very fleeting level. Almost like automatically forwarding to trash. Scent of relationship-like behaviour, close eyes, bury head and pretend you don’t know what’s going on.

The beauty of it is – when he comes back and if he still wants to pursue this he can claim “but I told you I was going” and the woman will feel ridiculous to point out “but not when you’re coming back” and soon she’ll be thinking that she’s screwed up.

What E has said is that although she is all for hippie-like floaty behaviour, when it comes to dating, because there’s so much emotional angst on both sides, a strict code should be adhered to. Like, not ditching if you’re saying your interested. Like if you’ve made declarations of being interested, then behave accordingly. Etc.

Of course, if you are always smsing a guy and initiating contact, forget it. He’s not interested – enough. He’s interested in a I-like-her-but-she’s-not-worth-the-whole-hog because really, when guys are interested properly they can sit up and beg. This may be good enough for you right now, but recognise it for what it is. There’s also a chance (slim – and this is what we live on) that guy really does like you, but is seriously commitment phobic and will come around eventually. The thing is for such guys – being the first to initiate contact is not the right way, because they will then get even more commitment phobic and keep backing away. If you don’t initiate contact, they will actually one day wake up and realise “hey I really liked that girl – what happened” and then when they call you, you can train them to behave properly.

Anyway, the above spiel came out longer than I intended it to and was actually prompted by my own parallel experience of non-commital man. Not husband – because thank god, he has already committed but PR guy of BSE.

The story goes like this – I am doing story on BSE and contact PR guy of BSE about getting some comments from big boss. He sounds pleasant enough – like a real PR guy for once, unlike NSE PR who sounds like he just awoke from sleep and is frightened to be called – and asks me to send an email. Email sent. No response – although email requests that he respond. I call – did you get it. Oh no! says PR guy. Now the thing is – when PRs say this there are two possible ways to read it:
1) he really didn’t get it
2) he’s avoiding you

Just like the “I have work excuse” – you have know way of knowing which and because they sound sincere, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. I resend and call to check that he got it. He says, “I’m in a meeting. Will up to the office and check in about an hour and respond that I have recieved it”. No response. I call again. “Oh yeah, we got it. Will respond in a couple of days.” No response. I call. “Uhhh… I’m just drafting the response you should get it this evening.” In the evening, no mail. I call the next day. “What’s your name… Oh ya, I sent it to the CEO for his approval, will check with him.” I wait a day and call again. “Sometime really big has happened. Our server crashed yesterday but I’ll send you that and the response.” Next day – no response. Give up hope and find someone else to talk to. This story is also funny.

Me: Is there a possibility that Singapore exchange can still guy a stake?
Investment Banker: Theoretically yes. But… only time will tell.
Me: Hmmm (interpret that as highly unlikely)

Next day – announcement from BSE that Singapore exchange has bought the stake. The barefaced liar!!!!

So, that the ‘something big’ that the PR was talking about. Mail him – “was really surprised to hear that SGX got a stake. And I haven’t recieved your response”. No response. Call him. “Oh, I sent it to you…. I’m in a meeting. Will go up and resend”. No sign of mail. This is my deadline day. He is not picking up phone. Finally call BSE board line and get colleague of his. “Oh he’s been in meetings all day” (so maybe he wasn’t lying). She promises to remind him to send and that it should get done by six. Which is 8 pm my time. No response. I finish the story and send it off without the BSE comment.

The problem with this situation is that he did not deny me a comment. So if I print without his comment he can actually be pissed that I did not print his comment and claim that he sent it. So much like men in relationships leaving that door open for them to be able to walk in and out of. But I figure I’ve tried enough and he’s just been dicking around.

This morning his repsonse is in my mail. Gahhhhhhh

This is the story of my life. And at some level of all our lives.

The moral: Sometimes, they really do come through.