Monday, November 23, 2009

Are Men More Likely to Be Jerks?

If you believe what you hear from the media, you might think so.

The December issue of First cited studies claiming that if a married woman becomes ill, her husband is 80% more likely to cheat on her or leave her. It made me wonder: Has anyone thought to do a study on the percent age of wives who leave or cheat on sick husbands?

We’ve been told over and over that the planet is loaded with substandard men, but there are some lovely, loyal, loving ones out there, too, and I fear they’re overlooked. And when someone finally notices them, they’re dismissed as weird or too nice. They just don’t fit the stereotype.

Substandard men do exist, of course. I once knew a girl who cut off her father after learning he’d had an affair while her mother died. I don’t blame her. But women can be jerks, too. I knew a wife who indulged in a series of romances after her husband went blind. A good friend of mine (a guy) had a friend who cared for his wife while she battled cancer; she dumped him for another man shortly after she recovered.

The media (TV shows, tabloids like Star and Us) pump us with stories about women done wrong, but in my experience, females are just as likely to cheat or to mistreat a spouse. Men don’t have a monopoly on bad behavior.

It’s dangerous to think otherwise. When we go about life believing that men are inherently less moral than we are, we lower our expectations. Some of us put up with the cheater because — what do you expect –men are hardwired to spread their seed wherever they can. We give the guy who walks out on his sick wife a pass because, well, he’s a guy. He’s not programmed to be a caregiver.

And then, others who want a relationship with a man avoid getting involved because they just can’t trust anyone with a Y chromosome (these are not the same women who are happily single and want to remain that way). Still others will get into a relationship with a guy and sabotage it to sideswipe disappointment.

I think it’s better to see men and women as people, to understand that some of us are capable and willing of treating others as we’d treat them, and to proceed accordingly.

Will the guy you’re dating run out on you if you become sick? It’s an excellent question and bears thinking about (because how many women rush into marriage without even discussing whether they and the bridegroom are even on the same page when it comes to having kids?).

Before you put your life in a man’s hands, get to know him.

See how he treats people, particularly elderly people.

Is he patient with them? Is he kind to them? If he’s got a grandfather in a nursing home, does he make time to visit him, or is he “too busy?” At family gatherings, does he help the old aunt to the table, or does he trip over her like a piece of furniture? Does he visit sick friends in the hospital, or does he shake his head and say, “That’s too bad,” and log on to Facebook.

Don’t get caught up in studies and statistics. Men tell you if they’re worth your time. They tell you exactly who they are.

Are you listening?