“Ugh, men are such a dicks!”
I sensed my disheartened friend was moments away from entering an LTR (long-term relationship) with her vibrator. I don’t know what her man did yet, but I didn’t need to. Because, they just are… Right?
Instead of blocking him on all socials - as others in the group chat had suggested - I advised her to upcycle him instead.
Google defines ‘upcycling’, as to reuse discarded objects in such a way to create a product of higher value than the original; you know like how Kirstie Allsopp paints an old boot and calls it a flower pot. In short: Turning trash into treasure.
So in the Tinderverse, where everyone is seemingly disposable, would it be alien for us to upcycle our old lovers too?
Too often we throw away men before we know what really happened, (apart from that they hurt us), but when there’s so much left unsaid, it can make it difficult for us to obtain closure.
Because our minds – and emotions – enjoy a clean break, when we don’t get one, we end up obsessing; where did it all go wrong? Was it my fault? Should I have done that kinky thing with a bowl of custard that he begged me to do?
Despite what ‘upcycling’ may imply, you’re not about to make him over like an episode of Queer Eye. But rather, giving your now-ex some home truths in the hopes he will fix himself up before re-entering the world of dating.
Why send dick pics when unsolicited reality checks are a thing?
I used to handle these situations like everyone else in the group chat, until I began to notice a pattern in how the men I dated treated me – and needless to say, that was my reality check.
When I first confronted a guy about how his disrespect and game-playing had impacted me, he seemed genuinely shocked. And I was genuinely shocked that he was genuinely shocked.
How could he not have been aware of his behavior? Was he walking around with sh*t in his eyes?
The next man who made me feel second best then came along, with ‘no idea’ that messaging me whenever he broke up with his boyfriend and then ghosting me when they got back together would make me feel like I was worth less.
So I felt it was my duty to speak up again: an activist for those suffering in emotional turmoil at the feeble hands of selfish men.
By the third time, I’d become an expert at explaining to men how their actions affect others.
Although I empathised, I wasn’t surprised to hear him outline depression, drug abuse and low self-esteem as the reasons for his behaviour. I knew deep-down he wasn’t a bad person, but now I finally had closure.
However, for my words to open the eyes of three well-educated guys, I couldn’t help but wonder… were men fucking stupid?
I’m sure they frequently were. But at this moment, more than anything, I felt like they were just clueless.
Motivational speaker Will Bowen once said: “Hurt people, hurt people”. It’s the self-explanatory notion that people who inflict pain do so because of their own.
Rather than questioning our exes’ motives, we make assumptions about their behavior and leave it at that. We become so focused on the pain they’re causing us, it never occurs to us to question that pain might be the origin of why.
It’s our instant belief that they’re assholes that intentionally meant to trample our hearts. But what if the reality is that they’re just damaged? Too wrapped up in their own hurt to notice that they’re inflicting it on us.
Once we reach a higher understanding of human behavior and the psychology of pain, are we able to see (many) men for what they really are; not dogs, nor douchebags or dickheads, but humans. Humans failing to cope with their own hurt.
Being men, it can be hard for us for us to admit to ourselves that we’re struggling in life, let alone communicate it to the person we’re seeing.
This concept of recycling revolves around education; by calmly and respectfully communicating your truth of the situation, many will drop their guard and reveal theirs too.
But why should you bother? Or even care? Well it works on a multi-faceted level:
Firstly, you gain the aforementioned closure that will help you move forward, as well build-up your own self-esteem that blind-siding behavior tears down. So you can deal with loose ends without guzzling Peach Schnapps and going down on a Doner kebab.
But more importantly, it encourages him to see things in a broader perspective, while helping to dismantle the chain of human hurt. Meaning that if more men go forward with awareness, understanding and selflessness, less of us are likely to end up broken.
As gay men, we've struggled enough. It only makes sense to make finding love and healthy relationships easier - for ourselves, them, and everybody else.
To read more from the Single & Fabulous? series click here.