I’m about to say a lot of stuff that’s really kinda extremely foul about heterosexual dating norms. In my defense: the truth hurts sometimes.
So, I consider myself to be a very progressive person, politically-speaking. I like challenging traditional gender roles, breaking down binaries, and all that good open-minded “gender spectrum” stuff. At least, that’s what I used to do in my 20’s. As a woman dating in her mid-30’s however, I have to say that I had to throw a lot of my personal philosophies out the door. Why? Because we live in a very patriarchal world. You either gotta work with it, or try and work around it (however, the latter option is a tough one).
I used to find a lot of guys that were interested in being with a non-traditional, non-girly-girl woman. However I’ve found over time that my chances of stumbling upon those types of gents are few and far between. Is it because guys in their 30’s and 40’s are more traditional when it comes to their beliefs around what men and women should be (do they think that men can play around forever while women have to be young and subservient)? Is it because men feel more free to be their sexist selves and not hide it in their latter years? Is it because I’m not dating people in college anymore? Who knows.
As one guy I was (pseudo-)dating once told me, men tend have three primal urges: 1. To dominate/enslave, 2. To win (to be challenged and overcome)…and 3…well, I forget what the third one was. No matter, the first two are interesting enough.
If I wanted to be real and drop some knowledge on some other young women about how to attract and keep a guy, here’s what I would say: (Disclaimer: I would never admit to the following statements out-loud)
1. Just be really physically attractive. That’s it.
Okay, okay, that may be #1, but it’s not just about one’s looks! It’s also about…
2. Be very easy to get along with and cause minimal hassles (in their eyes).
3. Everything you do (on your personal time and on your shared time together) should: 1. serve them in some way, 2. make you more attractive in their eyes, AND ESPECIALLY — 3. stroke their EGOS. Anything you do that detracts from your ability to compliment or serve men is viewed as unattractive. This includes having your own fulfilling life, because men need to feel wanted. Except when they’re busy. But even when they’re busy, they want you to want them so that they have the power to say no (then go back to #2).
4. Everything you do or say must make men feel good about themselves. Oh is that redundant with #3? Well, it’s worth repeating.
So yeah. After several years of dating, I’ve learned my lesson the hard way. I used to think that most men wanted to be with awesome, capable women. But that’s not true at all. I mean, a woman should be capable enough to not cause them hassles (don’t become a drain on their time and resources), but you can’t be so capable that it seems as if you don’t need them and can live just fine without them. Men must feel needed, powerful and important. Thats the dating golden rule.
As one of my friends once told me, “I used to think that I liked interesting women, but in reality I just want someone that’s pretty and easy to get along with”. Nuff said.
Even my non-conforming guy friends who work for progressive/left causes (labor union organizers, ethnic studies professors, radical artists, etc.) – when they talk about the women they’re interested in, all they talk about is how hot they are, how nice their boobs or ass are, (etc.) No one is talking about how cool or smart or amazing or funny these women are! Women are supposed to laugh at their jokes, not vice versa.
It’s funny, but even though women are seen as the emotional ones, the reality is that everyone – regardless of gender – reacts mostly through emotions than logic. In fact, MEN are often the ones with the high emotional needs, perhaps because our (Western) society tells men to suppress any “feminine” behaviors and tends to judge a man’s worth through his demonstrated masculinity and heterosexuality. They need to be validated, feel good about themselves, feel attractive. Women on the other hand tend to have more physical needs. I mean look at me – I just want someone who I can go do things with (like go backpacking through the Sierras), who can fix my computers and can work with me to build a home (literally and physically). Many women want a guy with a job (shit, I’m not even asking for that as a prerequisite! Is that bad?). I mean I would like someone to talk to when I have a bad day or am going through a tough time, but really – I just need a guy to fix my fucking laptop when I have a hard deadline the next day.
So yeah. I’m looking for a guy. I’m doing that by going to the gym, watching what I eat, and buying more feminine clothes. I’m learning to ask a lot of questions about them and not be bothered by the fact that they only ask me one or two questions like, “Do you cook?” or “When’s the last time you were in a relationship?” or “Are you pretty clean?”
Yeah I’ve completely given up on my personal values. You young people might judge me and say that I should just wait for the guy that’s more egalitarian, that maintains a similar worldview and values – someone that’s respectful and kind – and that I shouldn’t settle for anything less. But in reality, the chance of me meeting a high quality person like that above the age of 32 is about 1 in 10,415 (oh yeah, I did the math).
And is settling in a relationship really that bad? When there are millions of people (here in the U.S. and around the world) that lack access to healthy food and clean water, who lack political voice or a roof over their heads? Love is a luxury, a bourgeois concept anyway. Who fucking cares in the end. As long as everyone’s happy, healthy, and out of harm’s way.
(The sad thing is that I’m only half-kidding about all of this)