Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Rules: Six through Ten

Is anybody else bothered by the word "date?" This has been on my mind since I started writing this set of blogs.  Did I date before I got married? It was more like we all just hung out together or worked together and then eventually we paired off. My now ex-husband took me on dates when we first started going out but before that, I doubt it was that formal. The guy would invite you to a party or the bar, you met up with all his friends (or your friends), he drove you home and you made out in the driveway for a while before going back in your parent's house. Is that dating? It may just be that my fears of dating are derived from the fact that I have absolutely no idea what I am doing because I have never done it before.

So this is part III, of the Man Diet discussion and a look at Rules 6 to 10. Parts One and Two (rules 1 to 5) can be found at the links.

Rule 6 – Take a Break from the Games

You know the game, right?  Don't call for 3 days, take at least 30 minutes to answer a text, and longer for an email. I really don't know how to do this. If you write me an email and I get it, I'll answer it. Probably on the same day. Likely within the hour, assuming the day is going that way. If you text me, I'll answer as soon as I get it unless I'm driving my car, I'm in class, I'm on my bike, or my phone is off for some reason. To me, it seems like too much wasted energy to have to think about when I can safely answer without looking too eager. Don't you want me to be eager? Aren't you excited that I am willing to take the time to reply in an expedited manner?  Or is that a chick thing?

And the fact that we know people play these games on purpose is what, ironically enough, contributes to women thinking you still are interested in them when you really aren't. He's just not calling because he's waiting the required amount of time. He's playing the game. I'll just call him instead.  

I'm too old for games. I hope you are too.

Rule 7 – Do Not Pursue

The sad thing is, contrary to what I just said above. Playing hard to get, which is also a game, actually works.  It goes back to what I said in the first instalment: "You always want that which you cannot have and that which is unavailable is always most attractive."   Ever since my trauma in University in Philosophy class, I haven't been able to be the pursuer. And I have to confess, if I'm playing hard to get, I'm not doing it on purpose. It really is just because I haven't noticed you yet. It probably explains why, when you ask couples how they met their significant other, women in particular, usually say, "Finding a relationship was the furthest thing from my mind."  And if I look back on my relationship history, I would say the same thing. Virtually all the men I've had serious relationships with across my life from 14 to 40 I was not thinking about meeting someone when I did and I certainly was not the pursuer. It doesn't mean we were meant to live happily ever after but it was still a fun start.

And as much as most men support women taking on "non traditional" roles in other areas of their lives, they aren't quite ready to relinquish the fun of the pursuit of that which is evasive. The author of the book did research for a previous book where she interviewed dozens of men about how they felt about women making the first move. Most men were OK with it, 60% in fact if I recall correctly, so she tested the theory and started asking men out and keeping tabs. She found that the number of acceptances she got was nowhere near 60%.  So while men might be in favour of women being the pursuers in theory, in practice their behaviours don't match. This, my evolutionary psychologist friend would tell me, is the conflict between being socially acceptable in your opinions and the evolutionary unconscious drive of reality.

I’ve noticed this too, even in the online environment where I made the first attempt at contact about 4 times in nine months, only one guy has answered (25% response rate with a pretty low sample size) and the conversation petered out pretty quickly despite an overwhelming number of things in common.

And I’m not a supermodel but I'm a reasonably attractive woman. I’m athletic and a reasonable weight and I take care of myself. But it just ain’t that fun for men if there is no hunt. And to be perfectly honest. I enjoy being hunted.  So while I flirt shamelessly and often indiscriminately with men I'm comfortable with, I don’t make first moves. At least not early on.

Rule 8 – Take a Break from Internet Dating

Yes, this is now a no-brainer.  In addition to what I’ve written recently on the subject, and the book, coincidentally, uses the same words I used to describe the experience (catalogue, disposable), the book also makes one other additional good point. Too many choices are confusing. And when one woman doesn't work out, sometimes for the most benign of reasons or flaws or imperfections or deviation from the cookie cutter vision he has in mind, he shuffles on to the next one because the next time he opens up his email, there are 6 more women to look at.

I'm not sure if the book actually made this point or if I simply inferred it from the chapter. Isn't online dating like the definition of desperation and pursuit, for women? I can't speak for men. But it seems to me that if you make yourself that available, the man is guaranteed to not be that interested in the real you because you've already thrown yourself at him with your online plea and sales pitch. I'd like to be wrong about that but my experiences have shown otherwise. And I'd love to hear about men's experiences with online dating because they probably get some horrible stuff going on from their end too.

But as I wrote in that other entry, I’m out of the online environment as soon as my membership expires. It is a waste of my time and my money. I want to meet someone and be friends first because I intend for my next relationship to be with someone I consider my best friend.  

Rule 9 – Dwell on Your Sense of Self

The chapter tells many stories of how failure with men can overshadow your personal success in other areas of your life. As women we have been conditioned to believe that we are somehow lesser human beings without a man. Our friends and family don’t help matters by constantly prying into our dating lives, “So, anyone nice out there for you yet?” Sigh…  “In a relationship, everything is rosier, right?” – I was married once, I can tell you this is a myth. The number of friends and acquaintances that have spilled their marital woes to me since my own marital woes became known, tells me that relationship unhappiness is a plague.  You can still have, “warmth, validation, and ecstasy,” while single.  We are looking for a fairy-tale. Commercialism, dating sites, and jewellers prey on this desire for a fantasy to come true in advertisements.  Similar to how advertisements make us feel bad about our weight and appearance so that we’ll spend money, they make us feel bad about being single and lacking romance so we’ll spend money.

And if you are busy doing lofty things, you should feel good about yourself, because you are more likely to find someone you love by doing the things you love to do. 

Rule 10 – Know Your Obstacles

I admit, this is the category where I score a grade of F. I can’t tell when a guy is ready for a relationship or is suffering from that quiet vulnerability of one who is still seething from some past ex and needs some attention. They all look the same to me. Overly attentive in the beginning, a dream come true, and then as soon as you begin to have real feelings, they begin to slip away. Or maybe they don't look the same and I'm just good at ignoring the signs when I'm getting that, "Too good to be true," feeling. The book describes the men to avoid: Married and willing to cheat, Charming with no intention, Keeping the options open men (which basically means, "you'll do" to fill the void right now but you're gone when someone "better" comes along), Good looking and boring, Douchbags, Asexuals, Those with Ex issues, The networker, the evasive mystery man, and worst of all, all your past ex's.  I've experienced them all in one way or another, except for the ex. I can honestly say I've never "gone back" to someone I've dated in the past.

But really, in relationships there are only two obstacles. You and him. You can't settle for someone because you should like him because he's nice and treats you well but there's no spark, or because your friends like him. The only person who has to be excited about him is you. And he has to be meeting your needs. If he's charming as anything in your presence and ignores you in-between, or he says one thing, and does another or doesn't follow through, he isn't worth your energy and you are not his priority. And I'm really bad at that. I'm really bad at getting a soft spot for guys who are broken, and healing, and lost. I could write an entire post about my naivety. Maybe one day I will.


Lisa said...

Finally put my foot down and took a break to read your recent entries.

I love how you write, Kim, and how you phrase your feelings. Knowing you like you do I see change coming down...in what form, I'm not quite sure yet, but suffice it to say, it's all good...

Kim said...

Thanks Lisa, I sorta have it figured out now. Sorta.

Now we just have to keep me from chickening out about dealing with the e-publishing thing. ?lofty

Terri said...

Oh now, going back to an ex isn't always a bad thing... ;)