Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Modern Dating

Here’s a scene from the world of modern dating. A woman writes to Miss Information on the Nerve site:

I'm newly single after almost three years. I've been trying out the dating thing and, until about a week ago, I hadn't really come across anyone who I wanted to invest my time in. But then I ran into a guy who I've known for almost a year. (He would come into my workplace on occasion and we would briefly chat.) Well, in this recent run-in, I was immediately smitten. As soon as we parted ways I shot him a text and invited him out that night. He couldn't make it, but followed up saying that he'd like to hang out soon if I was interested.

But after a week of talking every day and hanging out most of the week, the communication has faded. So now I'm confused. He seemed so into me every time we talked and hung out. The last time we were together, I admitted to him that I was starting to really like him. And he agreed that he liked me. Did I scare him off? He mentioned at one point that he doesn't chase girls, but I don't want to "chase" him and come off as desperate. On the other hand, I also don't want him to think I'm not interested if I'm not trying. Help!

Miss Information, aka Cait Robinson, begins by saying that she stands in violent opposition to chivalry. As you now, she has to say that. If she didn’t say it she would have to answer to Amanda Marcotte.

But then, Robinson adds, apparently because she has read a book called He’s Just Not That Into You, that when a man wants a woman he will not only show up, but he will go to the ends of the earth to win her.

She continues, wisely, to explain that this woman’s confusion derives from the absence of gender roles. Who might be responsible for that state of affairs?

When no one knows the rules or the roles, then the dating process will be shrouded in ambiguity and confusion.

I would underscore the point that I made yesterday, namely, that there’s a name for women who proposition men, and that name is not—wife.

The letter writer does not make clear how intimate she was with the man in question, but she propositioned him, he accepted the proposition, they hung out, they probably hooked up, she told him she had feelings for him and he stopped calling her.

Just what you would expect from a man who had been propositioned.

Then, Miss Information offers some less-than-perfect advice.

If we want to say that the letter writer was trying out what must be called modern dating, then she might have looked at her experience and concluded that it had failed.

Miss Information, however, tells her not to change her ways: she has mostly gotten it right. She is so wonderful that some great guy will surely find her. 

Note well that Robinson is telling this woman to wait to be found. It directly contradicts the notion that the woman has done great, but it does, rather subtly, point her in the right direction.

In Robinson’s words:

You made a connection (+3), you were brave enough to express your feelings (+3), and you unfortunately had it fizzle (0). Dating can turn into a defensive cold war of "who can be less vulnerable," and it's to your credit that you didn't fall into that. You can't control whether or not your affection falls on fertile soil, but you can take pride in your own honesty.

You've got the openness and vulnerability down. Now trust that worthy contenders will show up.

The way the one-week relationship turned out was highly unsatisfactory. The letter writer was far too aggressive and far too open to a man who didn’t show very much interest in her. I assume that she had sex with him and then started developing feelings for him. She made the mistake of telling him that she had feelings.

Given the kind of relationship she had established, it was a dealbreaker.

Perhaps her fragile ego cannot bear to hear that she messed up. She would be better served if Miss Information had been clearer about the simple fact that the rules of dating are not arbitrary constructs and that those who defy them do so at their peril.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

I'm saying she scared him off. Too soon; much too soon. Whether or not sex raised it's ugly head; too soon.