“AM I WRONG?” WINGMAN: THE CASE AGAINST RUINING THE SURPRISE

Whoever said that all’s fair in love and war had obviously never been on the losing end of a fight with a woman. We sulk, we take passive aggressive digs, and sometimes we flat out refuse to admit that we’re wrong.

But sometimes we aren’t wrong. Sometimes you’re wrong, boys. And the only way to determine who the exculpatory party is vs. the One Who Eff’d Up is to allow a jury of your peers to decide. Or at least, an uninvolved and impartial party, such as yours truly.

That’s why Miss Wingman created the “Am I Wrong?” feature, to give dudes a platform to plead your case when you feel wrongly blamed by a female sparring partner. And it’s my pleasure to bring you an all new edition of the blame game, courtesy of Paul in Ohio.

The set up: Paul, our friendly protagonist (or antagonist, it’s yet to be determined), has been dating his girlfriend Harriet for a little more than a year. They do not live together, mostly for “practical” reasons that involve Harriet needing to live on-site at her counseling job, and her apartment not feasibly accommodating two people. But they have had several conversations regarding their future and believe each other to be “the One.”

The argument: “About two weeks ago, I was out shopping with my girlfriend of nearly 18 months. We were walking in an area rife with jewelry stores, so I decided to see if she wanted to pop into one of them and ‘take a look around.’ Obviously I meant to check out engagement rings. She hesitated for a second, but after giving me a weird look, agreed.

We spoke to a very nice sales lady who showed my girlfriend several different shapes and cuts of diamonds. After trying on about five, she settled upon a square-looking one, which I guess you girls call a “princess” cut. We thanked the woman for her time, left the store without purchasing anything (it was just meant as an info-gathering mission on my end) and went home.

But as soon as we were home, she started acting upset. When I pressed her on it, she admitted that she was really disappointed that we’d just gone ‘engagement ring shopping.’ I told her that no, we hadn’t gone engagement ring shopping, we’d gone engagement ring browsing, and that the shopping was something I’d be doing solo one day in the future.

She said it didn’t matter, that now she knew it was coming, and that the surprise she would feel from the proposal was ruined in her mind. She’d wanted me to run my own recon mission to find out her design preferences without her knowing so that it would be a complete shock when I finally asked. I told her that she still wouldn’t know when I was doing it or how, but no matter what I said, she was still bummed out over the whole thing.

I’d only intended to get her input on what style she preferred and maybe get a ring size while I was at it, hell – I have no clue what girls like  – but she said that if I really knew her well enough, I’d know what her style was. I disagree, we could be dating 10 years and I’d still not know whether she wanted a round, princess, or a goddamn triangle for that matter. But apparently, I’ve somehow messed the whole thing up?

It’s not like we fought or yelled, it was just hearing her tell me that I’d ‘ruined’ the engagement surprise she’d been looking forward to her whole life that made me feel like a huge jerk. So, Miss Wingman, tell me – am I wrong? Am I the idiot, or is she overreacting?”

The verdict: Yikes. And also, sucks to be you, Paul. Not to mention, is that really your girlfriend’s name? Man, I didn’t know people were still naming their kids Harriet after, like, 1935. What the hell are her sisters names, Edith and Muriel? Sorry, just took me a minute to get past that… But the answer to your question, if I’m being serious, is in reality probably a little blame on both sides. And here’s why…

You were just trying to be a conscientious boyfriend, to be as considerate as possible. I get that. You did what you thought was the logical thing, so as not to have her smile through gritted teeth when you snapped open the box to a ring that was decidedly not her (and that she’d have to stare at for the next, oh, say, 40 or 50 years). If “Sex and the City” taught men nothing else, it should be to fear the “ugly ring” conversation. (Hey, don’t blame me, blame Carrie Bradshaw).

But even though you were just covering your bases, what you didn’t realize is that, for a lot of women, the idea of being proposed to is something we daydream about since we’re little. No, strike that. Not most women. All women. Even me, who hates the idea of all things girly and fairytale-esque, and who couldn’t care less about floral arrangements or picking out dresses. And why do we fantasize and wonder about our proposal? Because it’s a big frigging deal, that’s why.

The idea of asking someone to forsake all others and devote themselves to you every day until they die is kind of a tall order, don’t you think? So forgive us if, even if we aren’t interested in any JumboTron or sky diving antics being involved, we want your proposal to be as special as humanly possible. And that, in our minds, involves the element of surprise. (Not to mention some seriously heartfelt words. Don’t forget the sentiment, gentlemen).

On the other hand, while I can sympathize with your girlfriend’s disappointment – unintended though it may be – I think she needs to accept the fact that she was giving you entirely too much credit. I’ve come to learn that women have a grossly overestimated view of how much guys really know about engagement rings. I know we all assume that you’ll just hijack one of our own rings for sizing, enlist the covert help of our inner circle and embark on some stealth shopping mission armed with your own innate knowledge of clarity and carat size, but in real life? That shizz ain’t happenin’.

I’ve actually had girls tell me that their boyfriends contemplated buying them a heart-shaped ring, because, you know, all girls like hearts and shiny things. Don’t they?

Hahaha. Wait…hahahaha. No judgment intended, boys, but that just confirms how little you know about our tastes (and rightfully so). Also, if you’re dating the kind of girl who actually would like such a thing, RUN. Or else you have a lifetime of rose-colored furniture and floral bedding to look forward to.

So the takeaway from all of this is that yes, she has every right to feel a pang of disappointment from thinking the element of surprise is somewhat tainted. But no, that doesn’t give her the right to tell you that to your face and make you feel guilty. You were only being pragmatic and (you thought) considerate, you intended no harm.

Granted, you can’t undo the incident, but what you can do is make sure that, on the day that you finally do pop the question, that she knows exactly what she’s meant to your life and how much you love her. Speak from the heart and I promise you, all prior tipping of the cards will be forgiven.

As for the rest of you, until next time, keep sending me your issues, and I’ll keep giving it to you straight, honest, and completely unfiltered. Just the way I like my men, but that’s a post for another time. Good luck, fight fair, and remember to keep your head (and your dukes) up.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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“CAN I PULL THIS OFF?” WINGMAN: MONKSTRAP SHOE EDITION

In honor of the Papal Conclave, Miss Wingman thought it only appropriate to do a little clergy-inspired style story of my own. Besides, why should cardinals get all the buzz? Monks can be fun, too.

In case you haven’t heard of the male shoe du jour (actually, it’s been popping up the past few seasons), then clue yourself in to the tasteful alternative to lace-up or loafer dress shoes: the monkstrap.

Image courtesy: GQ

With its roots hailing from European monasteries in the Alps, the story goes that a friar visiting England introduced the strappy style to a larger audience and voila! A cobblers delight was born.

The monkstrap experienced a resurgence when it resurfaced on the runways last year, and now dudes everywhere have been putting their best buckled-foot forward.

But, as in all “Can I Pull This Off?” features, the question remains: How do you, the non-fashion editor, non-male style blogger-type Regular Joe pull off this snazzy look? It’s easy, just follow these three simple steps.

1) Decide which monk best suits your style. One strap or two? For a shoe that’s already pretty formal, the double monkstrap may not be for the fashion faint of heart, but everyone has a preference. Find out which one’s yours.

2) Shop around. There are so many designer variations on the monkstrap, with price points running the gamut from $140 Banana Republic kicks to $1350 for Ralph Lauren Purple Label Narvells, (though I prefer their Obrian Calf monkstraps). Or you could have a little fun and add a hint of wingtip to your toes by opting for Ben Sherman’s Montaigne style.

Image: Thom Browne via Selectism

My personal favorites are Alexander McQueen’s perforated leather monkstraps, Paul Smith’s Fosters (with a bit of fringe!), and the classic Peal & Co. single strap (if double’s not your thing), available at Brooks Brothers. But don’t just take it from me, hit up sites like Polyvore and Mr. Porter to check out brands like A.P.C., Saint Laurent, Mark McNairy and a host of others. Your feet will thank you.

The final and most important thing to consider when contemplating a monkstrap purchase is how to wear them. As in, “do these pants make my ankles look fat?”

Kidding. But seriously, what you pair them with is more than half the battle, and is the key to pulling off this dapper look with ease. The good thing about these monastic mo-fo’s is that they’re versatile. You can wear them with a well-tailored suit or dress them down with some dark-washed or distressed denim and a cardigan. Just make sure the hem is slightly cropped so as not to hide your footwear flair.

Image courtesy: Tumblr

Or, you can even pair them with a double-breasted sports coat, pocket square and chinos, if you’re feeling particularly preppy that day.

Image courtesy: Menstylefashion.com

The important thing is to be mindful of fit. If you’re brave enough to try monkstraps, then you should be undaunted by a cropped and cuffed hem or narrow-legged pant. Add a tie for a little extra polish, or just a casual jacket over a slim-fitting sweater. And if you really want to go full monty, then invest in some striped or bold-hued socks to add a pop of color. They’re like Christmas for your feet.

From friars to frat boys, monkstraps look good on pretty much everyone, so long as they’re executed properly. So wear them with confidence. Wear them with style. And soon enough, you’ll be wearing them religiously.DAPPER WINGMAN

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THE REAL REASONS WHY WOMEN DUMP YOU

Nothing lasts forever, especially in matters of dating. But even though the song tells us “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” that’s not always the case. Sometimes, if we know exactly why it wasn’t working, breaking up is actually pretty damn easy to do. A relief, even.

So what would make us cut the romantic cord and not look back? A few things, though the official reason we give you might not be the real one. Look no further than a recent study conducted by the dating postmortem website Wot Went Wrong (and yes, the pseudo-British spelling of “what” really bothers me, too).

The site surveyed men and women (though I’m not entirely convinced of it’s scientific integrity), and found that one of the top 10 reasons that women offered for breaking up with a man – in a short term, 6 date maximum situation – was that he was “too tall.” Um, what? Ten percent of women also claimed that the men they were dating were “too high maintenance.” Again, WTF? Haven’t women called “shotgun” on the whole high maintenance thing? Who are these guys they’re dating anyway?

Furthering my contention that this survey was complete and utter bullshit is the fact that, in only slightly longer relationships (1-6 months), women cited the #1 reason for breaking up to be that their “dietary habits differed too much.” They also buried the “You don’t make enough money for the lifestyle I want to have” reason further down the chart, hovering only slightly above “lack of punctuality.” (cough*bullshit*cough)

So allow me to set the record straight, men. Even though we’ve talked deal breakers before, phase outs and even exit interviews, the only way to get an honest answer is to ask a woman who won’t sugarcoat them. Besides, people are notoriously inaccurate when self-reporting data. Sad but true.

I think the most important thing to lead off with is the distinction that women in a long term relationship, where we’re dating you for a significant amount of time (8 months – several years), really only end things for one of two reasons. *Cheesy disclaimer: Yes there are exceptions, but for the most part things funnel into one of two categories. So don’t kill the messenger.* Drum roll please…

Either there’s someone else, or we’ve realized that you’re not The One-slash-we clearly want different things. Sound oversimplified? Nope, it’s pretty accurate actually.

Women generally won’t end things in an otherwise good relationship unless they’ve fallen out of love with you (or into lust with someone else) or unless they’re convinced it won’t go anywhere in the long run. We don’t want to waste your time, or our own. Sometimes there are other life circumstances that might mistakenly make us think we’re not on the same page (i.e. a quarter life crisis or plain old timing), but for the most part, thems the breaks, boys.

Short term dating, however, is a very different story. Women will end things for much less profound reasons, and they’ll likely be less forthright with you about why to spare your feelings. Oh who am I kidding? To spare an awkward confrontation – a move we learned from you, I’m afraid.

Some of the primary reasons we’ll close up shop? Physical attraction, for starters. As in, “there was one initially, but it’s fizzled now and I don’t want to keep hooking up with you.” Or possibly that we’ve already hooked up with you, and it was so lackluster that we’re trying to avoid an encore. I know a man who believes that women should always tell guys outright if she’s just not into him physically, and I strongly disagree. While it would effectively clear up any ambiguity, it would also level someone to hear that. Who wants to be told that they’re not as attractive as they’d previously thought? OUCH.

We’ll also end things if you have annoying habits, like being stingy with money or rarely leaving your couch in your free time. Your friends and/or family could factor into our decision, in both short and long term set ups. Or if you work too much and we fear you don’t have room in your life for us. Scheduling can suck, after all.

Sometimes you bring out something about ourselves that upsets us, like criticizing our physiques, dieting or beauty habits (Think that stuff doesn’t mess with a girl’s head? Think again). Other times, I hate to admit it, but women really do like you for the wrong reasons – as in paycheck reasons – and they’ll flee if they don’t think you’ll provide them with a certain lifestyle, like the survey said. That one always sickens me, but it’s too prevalent to ignore, so there it is.

A huge reason for breaking up with a guy in a short term dating situation, and one that Miss Wingman can’t emphasize enough, is lack of self awareness. Allow me to repeat that for the cheap seats: Lack of self awareness. Have trouble picking up on social cues? Don’t realize when a woman’s not into you? Generally have zero concept of how people view you, or the image you put forth? This spells disaster, guys.

Why? Because it makes us view you as less than manly, even bordering on pathetic in some extreme cases. Self awareness is to a woman’s dating radar like a hot body is to a man’s. Even a woman with an underwhelming face can be viewed as highly dateable if she has an exceptional figure. And even a guy who looks more like Zach Galifianakis than Zac Efron can have his pick of women if he’s really self aware, I’ve seen it happen. (Because we’re better people than you shallow men are, obviously. Kidding). But the reverse is also true, so beware.

There are also a bevy of other reasons why women would pull the plug on a casual dating relationship, like if we think that you’re the wandering eye type (or if we suspect that you’re sleeping with other females). Or maybe if religion is an inflexible issue, or if people in our inner circle feel that you don’t bring out the best in us. Hell, even geography can be a sticking point. Not for us New Yorkers, but apparently you LA folks aren’t willing to brave gridlock for love (and understandably so).

So it’s a mixed bag, but one that we most likely won’t open up and let you peer into completely. Unless you send us a survey, of course. No matter what ultimately causes us to call Time of Death on our budding romance, once the headstone is in place, make sure you take that as your cue and walk away. That way you leave with your dignity – and your dating cred – intact.THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID

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