All too often, as an editor of this feminist site, I am bombarded with angry emails from men who feel compelled to remind me that NOT ALL MEN are racist, sexist, rapists, etc, etc, etc. They are furious that I have published something from a point of view that makes them uncomfortable and challenges their perception of equality and their world. I am often called an aggressive feminist and accused of only publishing things that “further the female agenda” – as if the genders have different agendas(?!) So when I read an email from a reader who wanted to share how much he enjoyed one of our articles, Double Standards in the Dating World, I felt compelled to share the positivity with my Bitchtopia family. So without further ado, a conversation about dating:
First, this was an excellent, non-gender privileged look at the B.S. standards that most men and women either conciously or subconsciouly adhere to. In short, I appreciate you saying this and it makes me happy to know that there are those on both sides of the gender fence who don’t see relationsips as combat if you will. It inspired me to take some time from work and write. To let you and your readers know the guys you want to relate with are out there and not all of us have drank the “Men are from Mars” Koolaid or suffer from the Madonna/Whore syndrome. Please keep in mind that I’ve been the so called “nice guy”, then overcompensated with all this “hyper alpa sex tiger crap” and womanized. Then I thought more about what my daughter (she is 8) will face and that I have to be the example, push through my insecurities and obstacles. If I want her to have a good relationship, she must see me relate in one.
So, I’ve been through many, many years of dating and modalities of relationships. Then I settled in to a comfortable position where I decide what makes me a man and that my value as a person isn’t attached to who I’m sleeping with, what I drive or who I know. I do my best to share the views of trying to understand instead of attack each other.
And without further ado, a couple of things from the 39 year old divorced single dad’s view.
-“You know nothing about men and I know nothing about women”. We all date and relate our experiences into our psyche with what…maybe a few thousand people and then think we “know” the billions and what they are like and what they want? It is confirmation bias and hard to fight but not impossible. Until about two years ago, I thought women would all use covert emotional manipulation against me. It is what I feared, ergo it is what I found and the viscious cycle contined until I broke it. Most men think that every woman will manipulate their emotions in some way to maintain control or angle for position. It is simply not so. I know of men who are highly emotional and emotionally maniuplative and women who don’t seem to know how to express emotions and are so blunt it’s almost painful!
-“The man buys”. I couldn’t agree with you more. Why is my money less precious than a woman’s? Sure, we have all heard the “men make more”. Again, a generalization and the facts are not what we have been led to believe. Also, we men need to MODERATE OUR CHOICE OF FIRST DATE. I meet for A drink or A coffee. After all, the woman and I are strangers. Why would I spend money on a fancy dinner for a stranger just because she is female? Also, I don’t want a woman to feel obligated as buying something expensive (like a fancy dinner) is inappropriate and can put her on the defensive with “what is he expecting?”. If she likes me and is impressed then fine. I won’t use money or supposed status to try and make someone like me. Men really need to quit trying to impress and work on their self worth and value to the world instead of gimmicks, tactics, and lines.
-“Pretty Face/Height”. Most men I know want reasonably attractive for them, not the hottest woman they have ever seen when it comes to looks. Take me for example, if a woman has a pretty face but she is sack-full-of-antlers skinny, them I’m not going to be interested in a romantic relationship or even just sex. Me, I like curves and a saucy roll of the hips. However, at 39 a pretty woman has to become attractive to me to glean my interest. Her behavior makes or breaks it for me. I think this is where culture and evolutionary psychology theory become emulsified into an attraction cocktail. For instance, in the middle ages up until the renaissance pale and slightly heavier were desirable as it was synonymous with wealth and status. So, as we all know, society does infiltrate what we deem attractive and desirable. As to men under 5′ 9″, it seems to be a curse. Most every woman I know wants a tall man and short men compensate (i.e. how many soft spoken short men have you met?). Perhaps it is a primordial throw-back to a time when height signified able bodied men who could better protect and hunt. Popular media doesn’t help men or women as even if the leading man is short, the film or book doesn’t portray him as such if he is a sex symbol and sleights of the digital hand make him look taller.
-“Age”. Oh, here we go. As a good looking, successful, fairly emotionally well balanced and virile male I like women in their late 30’s through their 40’s. And I don’t just mean for the stability, maturity or any non physical aspect. They are sexually attractive to me in a variety of ways and I have plenty of male friends who think like I do. Sure, we may be programmed to take a glance at the hot young thing who just bounced in with her so-immodest-strippers blush- little Yoga outfit that spells out every curve and line, but it is a glance. We are much like babies on this front. After they are out of sight, they are out of mind too. All I have to think about is that she would like to go out at 10pm to a place that is too loud and by 10pm I’m already asleep most nights. When it comes to sex, mature women are usually much more comfortable with themselves and that is VERY HOT. Confidence is key for both men and women behind closed doors. At this age, I don’t judge or sexually shame them and they revel in it. It makes me feel good that they can express and not suppress. Not hide or lie about their wants or needs too. Yeah, and you are much more critical of your body than we are. Women complain about parts of their body or looks that frankly we never even notice or take issue with.
-“Earnings and status” I could give you a big bear hug for saying this. No, a woman shouldn’t look at a man’s measure of relationship ability based on his earnings. Should he be able to support himself and manage it? Oh hell yes. Me, I’ve dated women who made 5 times as much as me (lawyers, doctors) and I make a very decent buck. Guess what, they had problems finding men who could tolerate how financially successful they were! They told me it made most men insecure and that they felt like they didn’t have anything to offer them (because men think what they have to offer is money). So, in line with moderating women’s thinking about how much men earn, well, we men have to learn what to do with that money. It is effort. Case in point: My girlfriend’s bday is coming up later this month and there is nothing I could buy with a price tag or label so outrageous that would mean anything to her. Instead, I bought her some crazy colored crossfit shoes as I peeked at a pair in her closet to get the size, a wine journal and some excercise accessories that I researched after talking to other crossfit enthusiasts. Also, I’m sculpting something for her that I know is a theme dear to her heart. It has taken about 60 hours to make. And that is my message, you are worth my effort and thoughts, I pay attention to the details. It is how I show affection, love, even if I don’t have a hundred ways to express it like women do.
Like the author said. Date someone you wouldn’t usually date and think about your expectations. Do they make you happy or did society tell you that you would be happy if you did x, y, z?. Read up on male psychology and how we communicate. Move past your personal biases and take that leap. I did and it was the best romantic decision I’ve ever made. Yes, give us men a chance to open up without fear of being emasculated for it and realize that we express our feelings differently (but just as powerfully). Then you might find yourself in a great relationship with a man who feels delighted he can actually express something…other than what he is supposed to say or feel. And the same for you.
Just my two cents.