There's a certain kind of intimacy I crave as a modern woman that I, surprisingly, can't seem to find. Frustration building, near desperation follows closely behind as I measure the weight of restraint against that of premature surrender. Because the older I get, the more intense my desires become. The more I understand them. The greater my willingness to consider opportunities to satisfy them. Yet I remain unfulfilled because the culture surrounding the *taboo* sends a loud message to me that may only be a whisper in the ears of my male counterparts.
Should it truly be so wrong for a woman...
to want a proper...
Seriously, though, "the D word" these days is really nothing short of D😏 repellent. The second you even suggest you're dating someone, all hell breaks loose. And I'll say now that herein lies a heteronormative perspective on the matter.
A man recently told me he wanted to bring me flowers, hold my hand, take me to the beach, go out to eat...
When I said that sounded like a date he said "No. Just an outing."
- God forbid we go on multiple "outings." That'd just be talking. And no matter how long that "talking stage" lasts, you shouldn't dare ask a man "what are we?" unless you want him to hightail it in the opposite direction.
Why is it so hard for us to call things what they are?!
Perhaps Shonda Rhimes is to blame for filling my head with Bridgertonian courtship fantasies, but I grow tired of the generational curse of being confined by the cavalier. As long as I've been "on the scene" I struggle to recall ever being properly asked on a date. Propriety in of itself is practically nonexistent in the social media age, and men can be so commitment-phobic that they don't realize the simple act of dating someone doesn't have to be a commitment at all outside of agreeing on a time and place.
I used to think this was a function of age: women tend to want to start exploring serious possibilities earlier on than men because of the bachelor versus spinster paradox (chalk it up to pressures for women surrounding attention to marriage-mindedness and the biological clock.)
- Oh how wrong I was. The same things can be said of older man as can be said of youth. Relationships take maturity and there's people of all ages without it.
Each relationship is different and should come with its own terms, but it's hard to even establish what those are because people also seem to struggle so much with integrity.
Questions like that "what are we" or "what are your intentions" are completely open-ended, yet they're incredibly loaded because they yield the assumption that the person asking is baiting the askee into some kind of trap.
I would rather you tell me to my face that you just want to sleep with me or get to know me while seeing other people than for you to tell me what you think I want to hear just so you can have your cake! Women today enjoy sex. We want it. I've seen studies that say we may think about it more often tan the average man. So if you genuinely asked, I might very well agree to just hooking up because I don't want to take you seriously either - and there shouldn't be anything wrong with that. Tricks and games and childish caginess are a recipe for disaster on all fronts, but even when I explain this to certain men, they say women are incapable of foregoing hasty emotional attachments to sexual partners or casual potentials.
I'm sure this is true in many cases but it irks me that men rarely own up to their side of that coin. Women are constantly being misled or misunderstood by men who can't conceptualize honesty or healthy boundaries. The fragility of the male ego only compounds the double standard. That same man who doesn't want to be exclusive with you will flip alllllll the way out if he knows you're with someone else. Jealousy, territoriality, and a hint of slut-shamey misogyny make it impossible for men and women to sustain dynamics with no strings attached - because even admitting the lack of fairness doesn't change the reality that a non-monogamous woman is simply undesirable. But kudos to him for pulling 'em in, right?
What a woman "brings to the table" has taken on its own sort of controversy, and for me that's because the picture of "wifey material" is a lofty and reductive social image that breeds inevitable comparison. You want to be ladylike with a low body count, but you can't be a virgin or a prude because he needs that good gluck gluck. You want to be intelligent, but not too opinionated because it's better to be agreeable than to challenge a man's authority. Playful and down to earth, but not too much like one of the guys. Accessible, but only to the right people. Classy but not uppity. Beautiful but only naturally. Dependent on him in some ways but independent in others. Willing and able to cook, clean, keep up with the kids...the list doesn't stop - and if you don't fit the bill, he'll find someone else who will. You have to keep in the back of your mind that you're dispensable. Replaceable. Much like an object. It's not unreasonable for men to want partners who are equally yoked with character and aspiration, but it never seems like that itself is enough. And to top it off, the purveyors of these attitudes are those same men who won't tell you what you're really getting yourself into when you start entertaining them.
Men are up against it, too. The culture is to blame for conflating being a gentleman with being a simp, and because of that it's hard not to feel like you have to settle or compromise as a woman because many of the men who actually treat you well only use their manners to overcompensate for other areas of deficiency. You finally find that needle-in-the haystack just to end up disappointed because it was all on the surface. There seems to be a very limited subset of men who are capable, kind, and without ulterior motive. And incredulous as it may be, those are the nice guys who finish last 90% of the time because women are so accustomed to toxic energy that decency, politeness, and willingness to accommodate seem like red flags. I even admit to being guilty of this on more than one count.
How, then, do we fix it?
We change what we're willing to accept.
It's the game of the chase. The concept of reward. What we take from others is what they will continue to give. After all, there's a reason you can't catch a deer by dangling a worm in front of its face. Holding people accountable informs how we're treated. By friends. By sneaky links. By true partners.
It is not to be taken lightly that the pervasiveness of deception makes it easy to get tricked and difficult to extend trust. But if relationship-seekers can find a way to stop obliging dishonorable prospects, their counterparts in the dating pool will be forced to change their behaviors in order to find the partnerships they seek. And when we honor the right matches by recognizing their efforts instead of pursuing that toxic alternative, the feedback loop reshapes in a manner that nurtures the values many of us say we want. It's all easier said than done, but it's ultimately a question of respect. For self and for others. And if we're going.to get back to that, it might not be a bad idea to give a few more of those old-school standards a try.
I am accepting the challenge to change my standards. Now if I could find a man who would meet me half way and take me on that date, the battle might just be won...