Who Has Dating Harder – Men Or Women?
Deliberately grabby blog title today – hopefully, sensible dating advice to follow…
I know this sounds strange but sometimes as a dating coach you read an email from someone and you’re like ‘ohhh I can see what’s going on here…’. And I can tell you now one of the easy indicators of a bad mindset around dating is when someone believes that they have it hard, and everyone else has it easy. So I wanted to write this blog to show that there are at least 2 sides to every story…
(Side note: if you do feel like everyone else has it easy, you not so much, I do understand. I remember a terrible time in my life, which I mentioned in my TED talk. For the months, years, following that, I was just not in a happy place. I was swallowed up by the unfairness of life. When that darkness hung over me if someone had told me it was my mindset that was off I probably would have thumped them… So I understand, but I would be failing as a coach if I didn’t try to share what I am continuing to learn about this.)
Making The First Move….
Some would call it a burden, others might call it freedom. Making the first move is a part of dating that has traditionally fallen to men. Many men are not delighted by this. They are feeling like they have to constantly summon up the courage to make the first move, and face rejection. All whilst their female counterparts are #blessed with the ‘picking and choosing’ role.
Now, I have thought about this and for my success at dating / pretty much anything in life, I think comes down in part to the ability to take full responsibility for it. So to me being unable to make the first move because it is termed ‘the man’s job’ or you don’t want to ‘scare a guy off’ is more restrictive. It is a lynchpin behind why a lot of women feel like they’re not meeting any men.
Still in dating women are often thought of as having more choice. However, even if a woman could hypothetically go into a bar and ‘pull’ this is a freedom that in reality, she is unlikely to exercise. This is because of a. there could be a safety issue b. there could be no attraction to anyone c. there could be scrutiny from other people for her behaviour. ‘Slut-Shaming’ IMO doesn’t help anyone – this is where a woman faces a negative social penalty for expressing her sexuality. So anyone – next time you think about calling a woman ‘easy’ can we just remember that someone’s worth isn’t derived by how much they restrict access to themselves.
For some guys out there, of course, that idea of choice sounds great. For men, often it isn’t a case of being shamed for expressing sexuality, but of the loneliness that comes from not being able to express it full stop. Years of no human touch and physical contact is a living reality for many men. As is sending out hundreds of online dating messages with no response. Whilst a woman might open her inbox to 100 messages and think, ‘I feel overwhelmed I don’t know where to start figuring out who might be a good match for me, and who is messaging me just because I’m female.’
A fantastic way to ruin a compliment is to add this qualifier, ‘you look great for your age’. Truly I think women get the rough end of the deal with ageist remarks in the dating space – and most spaces. I even once had some charming guy at one of my seminars many years ago asking, ‘So what are you going to do when you’re over 30 and your sexual market value drops?’. As in – women cease to be relevant or exist beyond a certain age. Now whilst I cracked my knuckles and thought, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet…’. There have been other times where I distinctly remember panicking ‘maybe time is running out…’. In short, women are often straight out bullied by society for daring to age or not fit a body ideal. Thankfully this is gradually changing.
However, it would be wrong to think that body-shaming is purely a woman-thing. It is guys that get unapologetic, ‘6ft and only’ in their face on many a Tinder profile. This is such a thing that for April Fool’s Day Tinder even released a Height Verification Badge as a joke. So I think we could all do with letting go of such strong expectations around someone’s physical appearance and focusing more on their availability to us, and personality.
Lots of people do not want to have babies. Some people can’t have babies. Others just don’t find the right partner on the right time frame. Science is improving, some stats around fertility are inaccurate. Sometimes it is the man’s fertility, not the woman’s that is an issue. That being said – the Fear Of Time Running Out (FOTRO??) that women have around dating is present and real. Worrying about fertility, worrying about ‘sexual market value’, worrying that simply all the good men have already gone.
(I don’t believe any of these statements to be true. But I can understand how a misguided remark about ‘have you got yourself sorted out yet?’ can hammer this message home.)
So women are understandably somewhat pre-occupied with spending their valuable time dating the ‘wrong guy’. With ‘wrong’ usually meaning someone they don’t feel the spark with and/or someone who doesn’t share the same relationship goals.
FYI – not all women want marriage and babies.
Because of this women usually become pretty discerning about who they spend their time with. This results in leaving many men feeling like their standards are so high that a mere mortal like them can never meet them.
Men, on the other hand, could often do with a healthy dose of standards. Also knowing that a woman simply replying ‘lol’ or an emoji to their suggestion of a date, is a good indicator that she’s not invested enough for them to continue pursuing. Of course, when you feel like this might be the only woman this year that’s expressing interest in you that’s easier said than done.
Note: if this is you today you can change this! Start by stopping pursuing that person who is giving nothing back.
Friends Or Lovers..?
The friendzone means that a person you’re romantically into only sees you as a friend. Bummer. Of course, no one owes anyone a date. But often when guys have tried to subtly communicate their attraction (they really took #metoo onboard) and find they haven’t been clear enough, this creates frustration. Guys may feel like they are walking around wearing a t-shirt that says ‘nice guy – only suitable for friendship.’ This isn’t exactly what’s happening, but it’s what may feel true for them.
Always being the friend isn’t something that just happens to men. Sometimes this happens to women too. She might be feeling like a full-blown romance is developing between her and the guy she likes, only to get 5 dates in for him to mention he’s not looking for anything serious. Now not all women want something serious, and not all guys want fun, but both sexes often find themselves at the annoying end of dating miscommunication.
So who do you think has dating harder, men or women?
I think I would say that whilst the challenges faced by men and women are at times asymmetric, that no person has a dating life that’s plain sailing. We are all struggling with the roles we’ve been given, the past that’s shaped us, and the opportunities we’ve had. All I can say is, that I do continue to believe in the power of working on this area of your life, and the ability to create change.
So whether you’re a man or a woman – that is in your hands.
(Postscript – appreciate this blog is very heteronormative. One of my goals this year is to invite writers from different perspectives to contribute. If this is YOU then email [email protected] to apply).