Friday night. You know what that means: Grab a beer, pull up a chair, and let’s talk about how fucked up people can really get when it comes to sex, love, and all manifestations of them. I usually spend a lot of my time on this blog dissing the problem of Nice Guys® (Here’s this week’s hipster edition—dude, you’re at vinyl happy hours. You’re not completely uncool. If you can take the chip off your shoulder and talk to a girl—remember, girls also enjoy having their opinions listened to, so do some listening as well as talking!—you might be pleasantly surprised at the response you get.), but this week, I want to address a female version of the Nice Guy®. What this woman shares with the Nice Guy® is the ridiculous belief that performing actions A + B will equal result Y from any given man, if she performs action A and B correctly, and if that doesn’t work, then there’s something terribly wrong—with her, the objects of her affection, etc.—and that what she needs is to start being more manipulative. She is, like Nice Guys®, also wrong.
Unfortunately, she wrote Cary Tennis, which means that she got advice to meditate, which strikes me as largely useless. He also uses a lot of fancy language to basically agree with her basic, incorrect assumption. The comments, which were heavy with the resident Salon misogynists suggesting that more self-hatred and self-punishment will cure any woman’s ills, were also useless.
LW’s problem is that she’s 32 and feels she has to get married very soon. But! She meets guys and sleeps with them, and fears she can’t stop, though she remembers hearing something about cows and milk and about how no one marries girls who give it up. Let’s read a sample, starting with a typical “girl meets boy/they fuck/boy doesn’t call/girl realizes he is not going to marry her as she was hoping 2 hours after meeting him” scenario:
Because this is not my first rodeo, I slowly come to realize, AGAIN, that I’ve completely ruined any chance he and I ever had by sleeping with him right away. And it’s my fault; I ruined it and now I feel absolutely worthless. The whole thing crashes down and it’s MY FAULT. My fault for being spontaneous, for wanting to have fun, for being a fun girl. It’s MY FAULT because it’s my responsibility to say no, to know that a guy couldn’t possibly stop it and beyond that, has no reason to do so.
Nice Guys® do this, too: “The problem is I’m TOO GOOD FOR THESE BITCHES. They want someone who ABUSES THEM. Guess I’ll have to be AN ASSHOLE.” As a well-trained woman, she is overtly making this about herself—she knows the rules say that everything is a woman’s fault, including men’s choices—but let’s face it. She’s blaming these men for being too weak and stupid to understand how awesome it is that she’s spontaneous. Guess she’s going to have to adopt a bunch of negative traits, starting by being more manipulative, in order to get that goddamn elusive ring that men just hang onto like they’re so fucking special anyhow.
What was interesting to me was that it never occurred to LW and apparently not the Cary, either, that perhaps it’s not that men automatically reject women they see as “easy”, but that she’s doing something in the space between going home with them and saying good-bye that’s turning them off. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I can pick up her desperation in this letter, dudes she sleeps with pick it up fairly quickly, too. I’m not a man, but I am a tedious feminist who believes men and women think more alike than Time magazine wants you to believe, and so I imagine that if desperation is off-putting to me, then it’s off-putting to the dudes, as well. I would also suggest that one of the most attractive things you can do is actually display genuine interest in another person as a person, and so if a guy picks up that you’re not seeing him when you look at him, but seeing a ring, that’s going to put him off.
But most of the world is so busy thinking about what women do with their vaginas, we don’t stop to think that the words coming out of their mouths, their body language, and the desires they project on the world might matter, too.
I’m a mean asshole, for sure, but I want to be more helpful here than Cary was, so I’m going to offer some genuinely useful advice that has nothing to do with trying to manipulate men with sex.
1) Men are unique individuals, so treat them that way. Some men (called “douchebags”) do think that a girl who sleeps with you isn’t worth dating. Some men don’t. Some men might find it exciting that someone gets swept into the moment. Some men want to get married. Some don’t. Some haven’t thought about it as much. Many of these men are great. Many suck. Dating is about giving yourself the time to discover these things about men you find attractive. But one thing is for certain: There’s no one “rule” that works to lure men into liking you that wouldn’t otherwise, especially not in the long-term, because you can’t hide your true self forever.
2) Men can genuinely love women for themselves. The whole “don’t sleep with them too soon” rule is based on the assumption that men never really love women as human beings. Instead, it’s assumed that marriage or commitment is a product of a tense exchange where a man commits in exchange to access to sex. The assumption is no man in his right mind would simply choose to be with a woman, and that he has to be bribed. This assumes that men are not only cold-hearted and incapable of love, but that they’re stupid. A man who genuinely doesn’t want to commit isn’t going to be all like, “How will I ever get laid if I don’t pretend to like a woman?” It’s not like your body is a donut and that guy was brought up on a desert island.
3) Desperation is unattractive….to the right people. Like I said, there’s no hard and fast rules determining what all people will like all the time, except of course the few ones that are so obvious they’re not worth stating. (Hint: Regular showering is a plus for the vast majority of us.) I won’t say that some men aren’t drawn to desperation. They are. And in the boring feminist world, we have a term for them: “abusive dickwads”. While it is true that abusers have coupled with confident women and not confident women alike—and I’m sure some abusers like the challenge of breaking someone’s will who has a lot of it—most of them are just too lazy. They want someone who is highly motivated not to leave the first time they start showing their dark side. So giving out that desperate vibe isn’t really the way to attract the winners.
Decent guys, however, are mostly going to want confident women. This statement may stir up resentment in you, so I point you to advice point #4:
4) You aren’t entitled to anyone’s love or affection. Love isn’t a charity. Decent guys have every right to reject women who are clingy and desperate, and in fact, that they don’t subject themselves to women that make them miserable is part of what makes them decent. Masochists are not really that great a catch. Now, not all men who reject desperate women are decent, of course. They have to hold themselves to the high standard that they hold others to. But a guy who treats women well and expects the same in return—in other words, a guy who prefers low drama situations that put the emphasis on fun and mutually beneficial pleasure—are the best kind. Those are the ones you want.
5) Release the desire/get a hobby. Giving off that desperate vibe that runs off anyone who’s a catch can be prevented by dialing down your desires. It’s not wrong to want to get married. But it is wrong to make that such a high priority it cancels out other concerns. Live in the now a little more. Get some hobbies, so that you have other ways of fulfilling yourself so that marriage doesn’t seem like a cure-all. Get to a place where, if you don’t get married, you won’t hate yourself or be unhappy. Until you can chill out a little, you won’t be able to see men as individuals, just as rings to fit on your finger, and that will run them off. To achieve our goals, often, we have to let go of the desire. This is triply true of love. No person wants to be seen as a goal, an item on a checklist to mark off.
Plus, a good set of hobbies and interests means that you have more to talk about on dates, which in turn makes you a better catch. Though that’s not the reason to pursue these things, but just a side benefit you can reap while working on yourself for your own ends.