I’m seeking some advise regarding a good friend of mine who I’m worried about. Some background detail: I’m a woman in my mid 20’s, married. My friend, “Tom”, is a man in his mid 20’s who has serious issues with women.
Tom and I grew up together. Now, Tom has never been the best at empathy. I remember when we were kids, he bullied other kids sometimes (never me). As a teen, Tom began to tease people and make sexist or politically charged jokes–and then struggle to understand when feelings got hurt (he still does this–he says he likes to “stir the pot”). Tom’s not a bad guy–he is genuine, honest, and trustworthy. But his weakness with empathy seems to stem from a lack of emotional intelligence.
Tom has wanted a wife for years. See, Tom and I come from a culture where it’s expected that you date to marry, abstain from sex until marriage, and marry young. Contrary to mainstream culture in the USA, in our culture, it is very common for people to date for 1-6 months and then rush to the altar. Tom is very immersed in this cultural narrative–he is desperate to find a woman to be his future wife, date her briefly, and marry her.
Tom has been in a frenzy of dating, desperate to find his future wife. Being able to find a wife is a big part of masculinity in our culture. Tom, who is fairly rigid in holding himself to masculine ideals, is definitely affected by this. However, as you know, desperation SHOWS, even when people try to hide it.
Tom goes on a date or two with a woman, becomes instantly and deeply emotionally invested in her, texts her constantly, feels that he may have finally found the One, the great and future Wife…. and then is really, really hurt when she either ghosts him, or tells him she sees him as a friend. I’ve tried to tell him he’s scaring them off, his male friends have tried to tell him the same… to no avail. And Tom has started to hate women.
Tom 100% blames the women who ghost him or don’t want to continue dating him. He believes they led him on; or they were too immature; or they were vicious jerks. Remember when I said Tom was bad at empathy? Yeah. He seems completely incapable of empathizing with the women he dates when they reject him. And this lack of empathy is spreading to Women In General. He makes comments about women being emotionally manipulative, and just out to hurt men. He sneers at the Me Too movement and insinuates that those women actually wanted the sex, and then lied about it to tear the men down. The sexist jokes he made as a teenager, just to get under people’s skin? As an adult, he seems to actually believe them. When I or his male friends call him out on it, he backtracks and says he was just joking. (Ironically, he does not include ME in this assessment of women, since I have “Just One Of The Guys” status).
Since Tom has been so unsuccessful in finding The Wife among women of our culture in the States (he does not date outside the culture), he has begun an online relationship with a woman from another country. This woman shares our cultural background, but she doesn’t speak English well. Tom, being raised in the States, doesn’t speak her language well. They make it work, but communication over text PLUS a language barrier? Poor woman doesn’t have a clue what she’s getting into. Tom’s planning on flying her to the States to live with his parents and marry him (his parents are OK with this, since their background is from her country).
I, my husband, and Tom’s other friends, see a disaster in the making. I think this woman is going to run home screaming when she meets Tom in person and feels The Cringe. I think Tom is going to blame her for it, and view her as another Manipulative Woman leading him on. Only this will be worse, because Tom’s more invested this time. And, honestly? I’m not sure where Tom got the ideas he has about women in the first place. Although our culture is in some ways very conservative, women are viewed highly as spiritual leaders and sexism is discouraged by male and female cultural leaders alike. So… I don’t know. Got any insights?