A short story about dating has gone viral – and the varied reactions from men and women are just as revealing as the story itself.
The story – called Cat Person – follows the courtship of a young 20-year-old woman, Margot, and a 34-year-old man named Robert, as they try to form a relationship of some sort built on nothing more than a shared interest in movies, art, jokes, and cats – some of the most poignant sections highlight experiences that are relatable to women when it comes to modern dating.
At times during the story, Margot is unsettled by Robert’s apparently manipulative behaviour, his rough and distant manner in bed, their age difference, and his attitude to women.
It ends with him sending her a string of abusive messages after seeing her with another man.
It has struck a chord with women because it seems to closely mimic real-life modern dating. However, male readers have reacted quite differently to the story – whether because they feel victimised, they are “not like other men,” or because the story forces men to look at their own actions. Rather than come away from the story with a deeper understanding of the female experience, many men have felt the need to criticise the story or defend the character of Robert.
Easily the most uncomfortable and awkward section of the story, Margot and Robert decide to go back to his house to have sex after seeing a holocaust movie (his choice) for their first date.
Despite realising she is not attracted to Robert, as a person, or sexually, Margot finds herself in a position where she is unsure how to not have sex with him, especially as she was the one to initiate it.
Constantly trying to appease the sensitive Robert, even apologising when she laughs when he asks if she is a virgin:
The end of the story, in particular, is also resonating with readers for its relatability and for summing up modern dating, especially in the age of online dating.
A month later, Margot sees Robert at a bar, where Margot is getting drinks with her friends. He texts her later that night.
“Hi Margot, I saw you out at the bar tonight.”
“I know you said not to text you but I just wanted to say you looked really pretty.”
“I hope you’re doing well!”
“I know I shouldn’t say this but I really miss you.”
“Hey maybe I don’t have the right to ask but I just wish youd tell me what it is I did wrong.”
“I felt like we had a real connection did you not feel that way or . . .”
“Maybe I was too old for u or maybe you liked someone else”
“Is that guy you were with tonight your boyfriend”
“Or is he just some guy you are f******”
“When u laughed when I asked if you were a virgin was it because you’d f***** so many guys”
“Are you f****** that guy right now”
Interestingly, the story that has received such a strong response from women for its relatability has had the opposite effect on men. On Twitter, the outpouring of responses about “Cat Person” from men and women display a clear juxtaposition.