Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Dating Advice, Gender-Essentialist Style

Oh, you know me and my dating advice. I can never get enough. Yahoo has delivered the goods again, this time with David Wygant's "Six Dating Behaviors That Scare Single Men Away".

First, I gotta say this guy is list obsessed. all of the other things he has written are "10"this and "14 "that. Most all of them, of course, are aimed at what women do wrong, or what men need to do to "catch" women. Ugh.

In the spirit of my usual flying finger to all gender-essentialist bullcrap, I offer the following counterpoints to Wygant's "Six" behaviors guaranteed to turn off single men.

Wygant- 1. Trash-talking your ex. Don't talk negatively about an ex-boyfriend in front of a guy you're dating. I don't care if you're on your first date or on your 15th date with a guy, don't ever trash-talk your ex. Your ex is somebody you dated, invited into your life, and with whom you spent a lot of time. So don't talk negatively about your ex in any way, because what a guy thinks when you do this is that if he ever becomes your ex that you're going to trash-talk him the same way. So, when a man asks you about your ex, you can politely say, "We are no longer together. It was a great relationship while it lasted, and I learned a lot." That's it.

Neko- 1. Don't Expect women to be soulless mannequins. Nothing pisses me off more than the old saw that men just want you to be perky, Perky! And talk about happy things like potato chips and the weather. Let them know you have-gasp- feelings, and baby, it's all over. This particularly pisses me off when many guys make a habit of specifically targeting women on the "rebound" because they think they'll be easier to manipulate. Better advice- Expect the women you date to have emotions. If you are knowingly dating a woman who has just ended a relationship, expect their to be some ex-talk. Of course, anyone going on in rude ranting-and-raving form is going to be a turnoff, but someone electing to share some of her feelings is not necessarily ranting and raving. And here's a shocker- women can and do experience anger, too. Sometimes emotions-talk will be about anger. If you want to make a person who is opening up about a past hurt feel better, be willing to share with her, too. Let her know you can empathize, and that you don't want to repeat old patterns, and before long, the talk is most likely going to center on this relationship and not the last one.

Wygant- 2. Paranoia Runs Rampant. Here you are dating a man you really like, and the first couple of weeks are going well. Then, that first boys' night out happens. In the beginning, you send him a text that says, "Have a great time tonight!" As the night progresses, however, seeds of doubt start forming in your mind about what he's doing, and you start to think "Is he cheating on me? Is he flirting with other women? Where is he right now?" So then, you lob another text in to him asking "What's going on? What are you doing right now?" Even though he tells you he's just hanging out with his friends, you proceed to make a major blunder:
You start checking up on him with continuous texts throughout the night. This paranoia will push a man away.
You start checking up on him with continuous texts throughout the night. This paranoia will push a man away. So when you are dating a man and he's out with his friends, respect his "guy time" -- it will make you the cool woman he's always wanted to find.

Neko- 2. The truth hurts. All women aren't paranoid psychos who are out to "control" men. sorry- it just isn't true. And if men don't like women checking up on them- they shouldn't cheat! Our society does a lovely job inculcating in women the belief that men just want to fuck around, and sooner or later, they WILL cheat. Add to that the actual experience with cheating partners many women have had, and you can't really blame them for getting a little nervous, can you? Better advice- Be honest and up front with women. If you want an open relationship, say so. If she doesn't, move on. Don't play up male cheating stereotypes by constantly ogling other women and flirting shamelessly in front of your partner. If you want to go on a "guys night" in a new relationship, and your partner is nervous, ask her along. Show her there is nothing to fear. If she's worth calling a girlfriend, she is worth treating AS a friend. Don't just dismiss her. if she gets too paranoid, talk to her. If she doesn't have legitimate reasons for her mistrust, move on. But above all else, be willing to communicate. Oh, and figure it out- women don't want to be "that cool woman he's always wanted to find". They want to be themselves.

Wygant-3. Trash-talking other women. A huge mistake many women make is trash-talking other women in front of the man they're dating. For example, you are out with him when a woman walks by wearing a skimpy short skirt. You say, "Look how promiscuous that woman looks! I can't believe she is going around in public like that!" What you are doing when you make comments like this to a guy you're dating is telling him that you're not confident in the way you look. It tells him that you don't love who you are and haven't embraced your own body. You are planting a seed of doubt in him, causing him to wonder if he he should date someone else who is more confident (and tolerant). Don't trash-talk other women. It makes you look really insecure.

Neko- 3. Don't be the pot calling the kettle black. Men trash-talk other men, too. News flash- insecurity happens. Any person who goes around 100% secure in themselves is either a liar or an egomaniac. Sure, trash-talking people is bad. No one should do it. But people do. All the time. So what to do? Better advice- Get to the root of the problem. I'll talk more about women's insecurities in the next point, but suffice it to say, everyone can use an ego boost now and then. Make your partner feel good about herself with honest compliments, pay attention to her, and don't make her feel like you are always looking to upgrade to a better model. It'll amaze you how much less she will feel the need to run down other people if she feels good about herself.

Wygant- 4. Fishing for compliments. This is something that can drive a man crazy. Here is a typical scenario: The guy you're dating looks at you and says, "You really look beautiful tonight!" Ten minutes later, you look at him and ask, "How do I look tonight?" Stop fishing for compliments. Real compliments come from the heart. Allow us to compliment you when we really mean it. If we don't give a compliment at the exact moment you desire it, just accept it and be OK with that.

Neko- 4. Don't expect your partner to be bulletproof. Women's low self- esteem is a feature of the system, not a bug. Women are taught from an early age that they are only as good as they look, and that they look awful. Pretty screwed up, isn't it? Any woman who isn't always secretly hoping for compliments either is fully liberated from patriarchal gender-norming and beauty standards, (pretty rare), or lying to you and herself. And if a woman does like her looks? She's branded a stuck-up, self absorbed bitch. Better advice- Give your partner compliments. Understand the fucked-up system she navigates, and applaud her for her strength, don't ridicule her for her weaknesses. Give compliments about things other than the way she looks too, and clearly communicate to her that you like the way she looks, but the rest of her is even more important to you. Don't expect a woman to be "OK" with your thoughtlessness.

Wygant- 5. Clingy and possessive. You don't need to do everything together. You're still getting to know him. If there are things he likes to do that simply don't interest you, be cool with it. You don't have to be joined at the hip. If you are going to a cocktail party together, you don't have to be next to him at every moment. If you see him speaking with some woman at the party, do not immediately run over and start grabbing his hand and giving him a big hug -- and certainly don't do this all night long. You are being clingy and possessive when you do this.

Neko- 5. Get over yourself, all ready. Wanting to spend time with a new boyfriend isn't necessarily being clingy. It's called infatuation. People in the beginning stages of a relationship often want to spend every minute together possible. it usually wears off after a while, and then- OMG!- people tend to miss the "good old days" when every minute together was bliss. Insecurity can also be a factor in "clingy" behavior too, so refer to #4 and #5 above. Better advice- Enjoy the infatuation stage while you have it. If you don't find yourself wanting to be with your partner a lot, ask yourself why, and be honest with her about the answer. Set boundaries early on, and if things seem to be getting out of control, talk to your partner. Try to find activities the two of you can do together, instead of just doing things you want to do. Don't take your partner to a cocktail party where she knows no one else and expect her not to gravitate to you- the one person she knows- all night. And don't get flirty with other women and expect for her to nod and smile. If you really just want to play the field, do it, and stop pretending to be a boyfriend all ready.

Wygant-6. Pushing friends on him. Avoid pushing friends on us too soon. Example: A woman will hang out with a guy on the first or second date and say to him, "You have to meet my friends Jenna and Amy. You also have to meet my friends Phil and Anne; they're such a great couple, and you'll love them!" A man hears this and thinks, "I don't even know you yet. Can I get to know you for a month or two before I have to go meet all of your friends and be put on display as 'the boyfriend?'" We don't want to be "the boyfriend" right away. It's too much pressure. We want to get to know you slowly and learn what you're all about. Believe me, once we get to know you -- and like you -- we will be more willing to get to know all of your friends.

Neko- 6. Stop being antisocial. Women are taught that they gain status through relationships, and the romantic relationship is one of the most important status-givers for a woman. She's also showing off her "assets" to you- see how many people like her? Think this is screwy? No duh. Patriarchy is pretty illogical. But it's the system that gives you your male privilege, so you better not piss on it too much. Better advice- If a woman invites you to meet her friends, take it as the high compliment that it is. Again, set boundaries. Let her know how much time you are willing to spend with people you don't know. And if you don't want to be "the boyfriend" right away? Walk away now. Because I'm betting you won't feel like being the boyfriend any more in six weeks or six months. Seriously. if you are dating someone, and you don't even know if you "like" them yet, you are the one with the problem.

Wygant- Snappy conclusion. Following these tips will help you get past the first month of a new relationship with a man and avoid some of the major pitfalls that can end a new relationship before it even starts. Be the confident woman you really are so we have a chance to embrace you. Don't scare us off before we have a chance to get to know you!

Neko- Exasperated conclusion. Following these tips will help you see your partner as a real human being, and not just a cardboard cutout! Heck, it might even help you see that you are not, in fact, the center of the universe! And if these don't work? The relationship probably wouldn't have, either. Better to get out quick, rather than drag both people through the muck.

Oh, and if you know we are "confident women" you want to embrace, what's all the pissing and moaning about in the first place?


MaryAnna said...

Right on, Neko-Onna! I'm with you 120%. In fact, I recently wrote a book on this very topic, though it focuses on online dating. It's title is (why) I Hate to Date (online). Still, the concepts are the same. It is my most humble opinion that dating in general has has lured myriad businesses to prey on the desperate and lonely singles of the world.

Check out my web page:

Keep up the good words!

MaryAnna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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