Sunday, August 29, 2010

Princesses, Queens and Courtiers

At Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition this year, I saw a T-shirt that said
"Bitch (formerly Princess)" 
and it got me to thinking about what it is that makes dating women in their 20's and 40's so easy and pleasant, and dating women in their 30's not so much.  Think about that for a moment and you'll churn out a bunch of insights of your own: 'bio clocks,' irrepressible 'demandingness' (aka 'entitlement') and generational issues among them.  I suspect the reasons are more subtle and rooted in 'expectations.'

Courtiers (intentionally avoiding use of "courtesan"), traditionally, were women who attended court and basically made it a pleasant place to be, exchanging pleasantries, being welcoming, looking good and listening more than talking about themselves -- engaging visitors to the court.  The notion that they were sexually available was a more recent attribute injected into the role of a courtesan.  It belittles the importance of their role as 'facilitators', influence-peddlers and social lubricators.  Courtiers had to be genuine, fun and interesting to hang around with.  Their younger and less mature counterparts who are very sexually available, but don't have much to offer in terms of conversation, might be labelled "Groupies," ready to put out at a moment's notice just to briefly feel special.

Yes, I'm going to generalize again in trying to understand the life stages or 'emotional benchmarks' women pass through that make connecting such a challenge for men who are no longer very interested in merely 'hooking up.'

Firstly, a nod to the youngest women in the singles realm today, many of whom take a turn under the "Groupie" mantle.  While I am in a cohort in which the female members fully embraced 'feminism' as a movement, as a tool to shake off the cultural restrictions of a bygone era on the role of women in the home and workplace, today's generation has matured in an environment that was not only ridiculously protective ("No, Nicolai, you can't walk to school because all the child molesters are out there!"), but it was also relentlessly 'affirmative' ("Will you choose the red or green socks today, our precious little 3 year old, Evette?").  Even the kids who we all know, without much doubt, are never going to get far in life because they just aren't all that smart have been told ad nauseum "You can be ANYthing you choose to be, little Austin!" Ah... Actually a very significant proportion of kids cannot.  They aren't equipped to do so.

Young women today have no need for feminism, they feel totally empowered to act out their childish 'princess' fantasies in exercising their newly developed femininity/sexuality to attract men (see the 'foot fetish' photo in an old post below), while remaining fully convinced that nothing they do will impede or restrict their rise to CEO of Fortune 1000 corporations.  Add in readily available, mobile/wireless, 24/7, HD, live video feed, free access porn of the most explicit kind and you have girls who get together with friends to offer '3-Way' oral sex to random boys in their class or at raves just for "something to do."  (Yeah, of course not all of them, but enough to make it a right of passage one drunken evening for many, along with the digital cell phone photos to prove it -- wrap your heads around the phenomena.  It's happening right now with all kids and isn't going away ever, it will only become exacerbated with new technology.)

Wow!  Kind of a wake up call for their moms in the Gen X and trailing Boomer generations who are now re-entering the divorced singles market.  Yes, these young vixens are your competition.  No, not all men over 35 are pursuing the young hotties, but make no mistake, our species has not reached the point of exhausting the planet's resources by giving men the instincts to be attracted to females who are near or past the stage of fecundity (the potential for easy and prolific reproduction).  ALL men are pre-programmed, no matter how dedicated we are to our wives of 10-20-30 years, to be MOST attracted to women in the post-pubescent to early 30's age range.  (Turning to science and nature for some clue as to what the exact 'tipping points' are, the production of ova in human females rapidly ramps up at 18, and rapidly drops off after 28.  Fewer ova mean fewer pregnancies.  Natural selection determined for us what the ideal age span for carrying babies to term successfully is in our species.)

Deal with it, ladies, it is not a choice or a culturally imposed bias/choice, it's the way our species is.

Lately the spending potential of the group of women in their so-called 'cougar' and even 'saber-toothed tigress' stages has created a novelty craze driving media hype about their cohort, but honestly, outside of a small percentage of young men with a fetish for older women, the vast majority of men aren't naturally physically attracted to women who have matured.  Intellectually and emotionally, however, there is a vastly different story going on, hence this post.

In chatting to numerous women and girls over the past years, I've noticed distinct differences in their outlook on life and men...

Non-Sexual, But HIGHLY Romantic Pre-Princesses

From about as early as 4 through to about 15-16 girls from all cultures in the world become obsessed with stories of princesses and princes/knights in shining armour riding in to whisk them off to "happily ever after."  There is little real awareness or interest in sex or reproduction, outside of a built-in desire to one day 'be a mommy' -- their fantasies are innocent and fairly uncomplicated:
  1. Handsome prince sets eyes upon them, 
  2. Finds them utterly irresistible, 
  3. Puts them on a pedestal and... 
  4. Worships them for the rest of their lives, showering them with riches and the power to never have to work for a living, but simply be worshipped for being achingly beautiful.
This fantasy is closely connected to their tendency to become blindly and deeply obsessed with male teen idols.  You see it today in YouTube videos of girls as young as 3-4 crying at the sight of a Justin Bieber poster and tearfully saying she just ADORES Justin.  We've seen it for many decades in the screaming girls feinting at the foot of the stage for Elvis, the Beatles, Bay City Rollers, NSync, etc. and the Disney films get replaced by 'Vampire Romance' novels towards the end of this stage ("He's not just a BAD boy, he'll steal your soul with a single 'penetration'!"  And there is nothing you'll be able to do about it -- a variation on 'love at first sight'.).  There is no rational explanation for it, yet the utter, overwhelming devotion they feel is very real, yet it's not exactly sexual in nature at this stage.

They project the uncontrollably intense 'infatuation (love) due to appearance' that they desperately wish for themselves onto these attractive, popular, successful, sexually mature (at least compared to themselves) young men.  They imagine one of these 'objects of their desire' doing to them what they are displaying to the males, hearts palpitating at the mere sight of them and swooning in their presence.


From their mid to late-teens through to their late 20's (and for some into their early 30's), especially today, girls mature into what I see as their carefree, largely non-judgmental period.  Their focus remains resolutely on utterly mind-blowing feelings of 'true love' and the 'White Wedding,' that enormous, meticulously planned event that will, for many for the only time in their lives, put them up on stage, in the limelight, in their full Princess regalia.  But while that event is in the back of their minds as the 'exit strategy' (if you will), the day-to-day reality of their lives and loves is fairly uncomplicated.

This shift seems to begin (rapidly) at the moment that their hormones (and the accompanying feelings) match changes in their bodies. I.e. the moment that they notice that sexually mature males are starting to show sexual interest in them.  [Note that, due to improved/excessive diets, girls are hitting puberty, with the flood of sexualizing hormones that it brings, as early as 9 years old.  Not all of the early sexualization we see in younger girls is media-driven, much of it is very real and, despite their lack of commensurate maturity, they WILL dress, act and experiment with adult make-up whether their parents and teachers approve or not.  They are acting out instinctual drives, not making conscious choices.]

They fall in love easily and quickly in the early years, with the boy at the Burger King, with the neighbour lad, with the young man at Dad's office, with the guy at the beach on summer holiday.  Then later with a fellow student at college, with a guy at work or a customer who comes in regularly, or with that HOT 'bad boy' they ran into at a nightclub.  Often, at the 'point of entry' into this phase, at the point when they become sexually active, they experiment with their sexual appeal in a "Groupie" phase, mixing their  early teenage adoration for teen idols with 'hooking up' for casual sex with team sports players and 'bad boys' playing in local bands.

What is telling about all these romances, many of which do turn quickly into the 'white wedding' scenario followed by two kids and a mortgage, is that, despite all the fireworks of early love, the guy could have been just about anyone.  He wasn't selected based upon any really stringent criteria, he was just in front of them, sorta cute, the sex was great (well, plentiful and new, anyway) and she 'projected' onto him all the other criteria she wanted:
  • He'd never cheat on her, 
  • He'd always give and give and give to her unconditionally, 
  • He'd always be the calm, strong, assertive, powerful male figure (but would NEVER hurt her in any abusive way),
  • He'd always stay in shape playing team hockey (sub in soccer, board sailing, etc.), 
  • He'd never have a mid-life crisis, realize that she no longer looked like the hottie he'd married and that there were still many young hotties who would date him, and up and leave her and the kids,
  • He'd allow her to change anything in him she didn't like.
'Projection' is at the heart of ALL of our relationship failures, virtually without exception.  (You can beg to differ, but think about it long enough and you'll come around.  We project our perfect vision onto our partner, then get very frustrated/angry when they can't live up to it...)  So in this stage of life, it really isn't very important whether the guy actually IS the ideal match for her, she simply 'fills in the blanks' with projection and gradually gets more and more angry/disappointed with him for not really having those attributes.  Over time this leads to Divorce #1.

These 'Princess' girls, unless they have an unusually high IQ, aren't terribly interesting to hang around and talk with.  Yes, they'll 'put out' at the drop of a hat, but having a considered point of view on any topic isn't their strong suit -- unless the subject is hot bands or fashion brands!


Something happens to women in their late 20's who did not settle down and have the white wedding.  It seems to be a combination of the 'empowerment' assurances they got in their youth, the "You are just sooooooo SPECIAL, Honey" ("...and here's a trophy for merely having shown up at soccer every week -- remember being talented or skilled is NOT important, Dear!"  More than anything else in modern society, it is this new trend that contributes most to the 'Millennials' sense of entitlement.) and the fact that they grew up seeing women in positions of power that earlier generations did not, combined with the fact that they are still 'hot' (recent studies suggest that women reach their peak of appeal/attractiveness at about 31 -- and the subsequent decline in their 'hotness' is rapid and profound) and they have become financially independent.

Think about the attributes of never-married women in this age group:
  • Never-married and now between their late 20's and late 30's,
  • Working in a self-sufficient career, 
  • Owners of nice condos and new cars, 
  • They've gone through several relationships of varying lengths plus have had many sexual experiences, 
  • They have skin and figures that are still taught/firm, 
  • Plus they have a newly gained confidence, fashion sense and poise that attracts men from 18 to 58,
Yet they have never yet met 'The One' that Disney assured them since the age of about years old that they would.  What flabbergasts me (and you can browse through several dozen of their profiles on POF or LavaLife and be equally amazed) is that their confidence in meeting 'The One' is unshaken.  That, and the fact that they are even MORE convinced that their 'hotness' alone will win 'The One' over.  Rather than the laundry list of 'mandatories' their 'One True Love' MUST possess gradually becoming shorter, it has grown to several hundred points, variously related to 'depth of character,' morals, reliability, sexual 'generosity', etc.

What amazes me still further is that, when pressed, they will fight viciously against evidence that they are so self-absorbed that they have relatively little to offer on the 'depth of character' front.  Unconditional 'worship' is an entitlement and cannot be compromised on.  They have moved up the food chain from mere starry-eyed 'Princesses,' they are now fully entitled 'Queens,' unwilling to compromise on their vast list of mandatories -- yet unwilling to admit to any short-comings of their own.  This is, of course, a classic set-up for major disappointment, whether or not we include or ignore the "Bitch (formerly Princess)" T-shirt slogan.

Before you jump down my throat on this point, yes, I'm generalizing, but Lori Gottlieb would not have sold so many copies of her book (Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough) if this was not a verifiable phenomenon out there.  No, many women of this cohort don't wear the mindset on their sleeves, but it is there, at play insidiously beneath the surface.  (And it certainly is heavily influenced by the fact that 'romantic love' has been proven to be an addiction for many of these women.  Link)

These women differ distinctly from their sisters who DID get married and produce children.  If the latter women are now divorced (or even if not!), all the illusions of perfection, of any man ever truly being 'The One' have largely evaporated.  Once divorced and facing the possibility of single motherhood indefinitely, I've found most of these newly singled women to be delightfully relaxed, open and flexible versus their unmarried counterparts.  These 30-somethings have already moved into their "Courtesan" phase, yet they do know the specific criteria they will not settle for second best on.  

Are you finding it tough to figure out the difference between differentiating the 30-something year-old 'Queen' from her welcomingly mature 'Courtier' sister?  Just take a look at the age range they have posted in their online profile for potential mates.  The 'Queens' at age 35 will say they'll accept any never-married man from 25 to 35, those who have successfully transitioned into their 'Courtier' stage by 35, often with two kids playing in the background (or none, but with the strong 'biological clock' drive to have some soon), will say any man from 35 to 45+. That little change in what age range they're willing to accept in a partner illustrates a significant shift in how they perceive themselves in the world!

The irony for the Queens is that the never-married men their own age (or younger) come from their own generation, meaning that they are nowhere NEAR their "Kingly" stage, most are still "Princes," reveling in their independence, their financial freedom and their ability to pull the 20-something "Princesses."  These guys, while 'hunkier' and more 'White Knight-like' than the older men (even the "King Arthur's" ;-), simply are not ready to settle down.  Further, some amongst them provide the older 'Cougars' (who are resisting becoming Courtiers), with fresh meat and perpetuate the bizarre notion that a boy in his early 20's who is not just willing to have casual sex with, but is actually interested in dating, women his mom's age is somehow NOT severely emotionally challenged. 


Married or not, once a woman passes the big 4-0 (but it starts in their mid-30's), a remarkable transformation generally takes place.  They tend to become funnier, more relaxed, more comfortable in their aging skin and much, MUCH more flexible.  Yes, it is confidence, in part, but it is also something (I believe) far more fundamental -- they have had to release all of the vanity that was so much a part of their younger personas.  Sadly, as a woman matures past the mid-30's, a rapid transformation takes place in their skin, hair and figures, no matter how much they take care of themselves.  

Outside of 'enhancement' and 'augmentation' (which is almost always readily apparent, Dolly Parton being a bizarrely 'tightly tucked' aberration), there's little they can do but work with it and move on, egotistically.  And what this brings about, I think, is often a blossoming of their perspective, both externally and internally.  Once a woman realizes that her days of demanding unconditional fealty in return for the privilege of worshipping her 'princess-like' physical attributes, her personality takes flight.

Freed from constantly examining potential mates for flaws, she is now able to look in the mirror and see her own flaws, first externally, then internally.  It is a change that brings the Queens down a notch and, most often, turns them into engaging, more open-minded Courtiers: fun to be around, interested in what men have to say, and equally giving in terms of their own mature perspectives and opinions, introspective and thoughtful.

As a member of the Courtiers' age-group, I have to say I'd prefer their company any day of the week.  As a childless human male, however, sadly my instincts drive me toward finding a woman in her early 30's who has, by some stroke of incredible luck, both matured into her Courtier phase and appreciates experienced men!  ;-p  


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