Men should do more.
For centuries men have gotten away with doing what was best for their gender ignoring the needs of women. When it comes to dating men need to do more. This isn’t a conversation about investing money, or being more aggressive to fit a “role”, but a call to action for men to show up emotionally for women.
Women have surpassed the days where they can take on all of the emotional labor in dating. As generations mature men and women are moving towards various types of equality and sharing the emotional burden of dating is becoming imperative.
All relationships impact our emotional, and psychological states and wellbeing yet women have been the sole guardians of feelings for centuries. The responsibility of expressing feelings, protecting feelings, and monitoring feelings have been the assumed job of women. This begs the question; what then are men responsible for?
A recent tweet by dating coach, Amy Waterman that said: It’s one of the great mysteries of the dating scene: Why do women feel responsible for making men feel like men…
While men don’t feel much responsibility for a woman’s emotional state at all?
When you Google the search terms, ‘How To Make A Man Feel Like A Man’, millions of results populate. The Dating Truth has published several articles on the topic – but none until now on the counter. Despite the complicated aspects of dating as a new social construct, the most undermentioned element of the process is the conditioning most adults endured from childhood, on what dating should look like, and be like.
Gender roles aside, women take on the responsibility of a man’s feelings with no hesitation, but men don’t do the same. And it’s time that changed. Rarely do men take on any responsibility for how their behavior makes women feel. They are hardly aware that their behavior affects women at all. Men almost seem naïve that their behavior impacts women even though it does very deeply. Any women called ‘crazy’ by a man was likely driven so by his behavior and his lack of acknowledgement of how that behavior impacted their relationship. Gaslighting anyone?
Men for the most part rarely speak to what their responsibilities are within any relationship, or in dating, except when it comes to paying for the date. Which is now in debate of how that duty fell into the man’s lap in the first place. Well, not allowing women to work was the start. The demand from men to make the cost of the first date a shared endeavor would be more readily accepted if other duties of dating were shared. If a woman could feel sure that the first date would never feel like a high pressure interview where sex was expected, then I’m sure splitting a burger would be her pleasure. But men are barely aware that this type of emotional pressure is placed on women.
First date 101 for women: try to reject your date with ease, and courtesy so he doesn’t physically hurt you, or feel hurt.
Dating is so dangerous for women that safety tactics like ‘Asking for Angela’ so the waitstaff is alerted of your discomfort, using technology like safety apps Verifsafe in case you’re unable to call for help, or wearing drug detecting nail polish to ward off date rape have become societal norms. But the bill should be split because it’s both of your time, right?
Men casually assume that their only responsibility is the financial investment of a drink. But so much more is required, and it’s time that men take on some of the emotional responsibility that comes with dating.
Respect Her Time
Your indecision is causing her anxiety. Should men care about this? Yes, if they care about women. Women have become so committed to men’s indecision that a man who doesn’t know what he wants is as common as a moth with wings. Instead of the appropriate head tilt, and side eye, society believes it impossible that a man should want a relationship until he meets the magical woman to have that relationship with.
Men live in perpetual analysis paralysis and its par for the course for the world to wait on him to make a decision. Does he want a relationship or not, is he going to commit to one woman or not? All the while, the days are ticking by as he gives the woman, or women, he dates crumbs along the trail. Just enough to pacify but not enough to satisfy. This type of indecision is anxiety inducing. The solution isn’t as simple as just walking away because psychologically once an investment of any kind is mad (or sex is had), it becomes incredibly difficult to move on. The sunken opportunity costs keeps women around, hoping that one it the wait will be worth it.
Men feel entitled to a woman’s time, and owed her patience. Instead of recognizing the psychological affects that hope creates, men assume that the woman would just walk away if she was that frustrated. This is often the rational that absolves pimps of their responsibility.
The illusion of free will, is an emotional loop hole. Men, who through conditioning, have been permitted to deliberate whether or when they will marry or couple, owe women the respect of her time.
For women time is critical. Every day of indecision that goes by is a day of investment on her part in a future that might never come to be. It isn’t a guess that most women want to move forward with the man they are dating. Men have come to believe that not knowing if they are ready to commit is normal. They have come to feel owed the time a women dedicates to his ambivalence.
The problem isn’t that men are indecisive, it’s that they’ve made the wrong decisions. They have decided that if they can waste a woman’s time, they will. They have decided that they will waste whichever woman’s time that they are given the opportunity to waste. They have decided not to become ready. If a man isn’t ready to commit to the women he is dating, then he is responsible for respecting her time by being honest about what he would need to be ready – and sometimes that’s just a different woman.
Reciprocate Her Actions
When a woman is investing in you, invest in her. This isn’t just the time you spend with her. This is giving her what she is giving you. Taking on the shared work of emotional labor means being vulnerable, honest, candid, and caring with the person who is being those things with you. If a woman is open with you, compliments you, trusts in you, and creates space in her life for you, pay her back.
Reciprocity isn’t just giving what you are getting alone, or doing for others what they do for you, in a transactional way. It’s also about checking in. Asking the woman in your life if she is getting what she needs. It’s calibrating how you feel with how she is making you feel. If she is open with you, and you are not open with her then you’re being irresponsible with her vulnerability. If she is honest with what she wants, and you are not honest with her about what you want, you’re being irresponsible with her emotional health.
Too often when women take on the responsibility of dating a man such as planning the date, or being accommodating, the man simply sees these actions as her role. She becomes the planner, or the one who texts first, or the one to suggests the date. Instead of looking at these actions as opportunities to give what he is getting, men resign. Or cavalierly shrug off the efforts as, ‘she wants to’. Conveniently ignoring that this woman feels obligated to fill in for the lack of reciprocity at the risk of having nothing at all.
It is a man’s responsibility to do what he says he’s going to do. There’s no doubt that dating is lacking integrity from men. The term ghosting, which society has assigned to an age old behavior, applies mostly to the actions of men. Instead of calling it out, men concede that the behavior women accept should not be accepted. What would be more appropriate is shining a light on the men exhibiting the behavior in the first place. It is his job to be the man that he has set himself forth to be. To be congruent in words and actions without fail.
There is nothing more imperative to what men should contribute to any relationship than their word. Having integrity means showing up as the man that you have presented yourself to be.
A lack of integrity looks like this:
- Not calling when you say you will.
- Not following through with agreed plans.
- Only showing interest when there is something to gain.
- Saying yes to appease the woman you’re dating.
- Agreeing to avoid the fight.
- Disappointing the woman you’re dating, and not owning up to it.
In order to be honest with a woman, men have to be honest with themselves. Whether a man wants sex, or something more, or just has no clue what he wants, it’s his responsibility to communicate this to the woman he is dating. Too often a man is living in ambiguity because he is afraid and his fear shadows his every move. He is afraid of asking for exactly what he wants because he might lose the interest of the woman he is dating.
Men have to be honest about where they fall short as a partner. Not only about what they want to contribute to dating but what they are capable of contributing. Honesty isn’t always easy. It’s admitting that you weren’t working late, or that you prioritized someone or something else, or that you don’t value the woman you’re dating as much as you pretend. Honesty in dating is being completely realistic about what you can give the woman in your life. Even if it means losing her.
Appreciate Her Investment
Dating can be very transactional. It’s a man’s responsibility to be aware of the investment a woman is making in him, and appreciate it. There is an illusion of equality in dating. There is a misconception that equal time spent means an equal investment. Time for time, sex for sex, dinner bills split down the middle, although she purchased a new dress, and he’s in a company sponsored Patagonia.
The reality is that women put far more value on having a man’s attention than men place having a woman’s attention. Blame conditioning. Women are told by society that being chosen by a man is a privilege. And it means something way more important to her identity than a man who has chosen a woman. Often a woman’s effort is simply labeled, she did what she wanted to do, when it fact, a woman does what she feels she has to do. The demand to follow protocol is placed on women to make men feel like a man, and on men not to make a woman feel threatened; hardly an even exchange.
Men should appreciate the time a woman spends on looking attractive, the effort she puts into being easy going and patient, her spirit of forgiveness for his awkwardness and assumptions.
The rules of dating have always applied to committed relationships. Only in the last few decades has society encountered men and women connected but not coupled. The idea that two people could be “talking” for an extended period of time is a new faction of the process. The rules were never meant to apply to individuals just “seeing” each other but not committed to each other.
In today’s landscape, men need to take on responsibility for the experience they participate in.
What you believe about dating – what it is, and what it should be – is just another story. One that no longer serves the society women live in. It’s evident by the fact that single adults currently out populate married adults. Women are finding it harder than ever to get into relationships, and the inability to couple has largely to do with how women look at the responsibilities of dating.
The reality is, while very few adults (if any) have had any formal training in the dating process they are almost inflexible when it comes to changing the way that they date. Ignoring the conditioning versus the reality makes dating harder than it has to be. There should always be emotional equity to make the relationship work. If men want to contribute to the change, they can start with deciding what that contribution will look like. Starting with intention is the first step.