As a woman and as a victim of sexual assault, it’s been hard for me to like men. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really like Harry Styles and Timothee Chalamat (as we all do), but when it comes to men that I actually have a chance of dating, I have a hard time. It’s a mixture of everything, with overthinking and anxieties and all. It’s living in fear of being taken advantage of again, emotionally, mentally, physically.
So when I stumbled upon How To Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson, I thought, “oh my god I need to read this.” Not only because I was curious, but because I wanted to see if it would help me get over the “all men are trash” mentality I have–not for the sake of the male population, but for myself when I’m in the dating world.
I wanted to find out if my dating habits were normal or if the thoughts and feelings I had were normal. I wanted to see if, by understanding the idea of dating, I’ll be more open to it and more open to men and seeing them in a better light.
This book has been broken up into sections within each chapter. There are some quotes that stood out to me the most, so I included them too. This is what I got out of it:
Dating should bring you JOY.
“To feel joyful about love, you have to feel that you’ve opted into it, not that you’ve been forced to participate in it.” (pg. 19)
It’s okay to be single. It’s okay to be in a relationship. You don’t have to be coupled up with someone just because your friends are, or because people put pressure on you to find that person. Whether or not you have a partner doesn’t matter—what matters is that you find joy in everyday life doing whatever you’re doing. You don’t need a man or a woman or a relationship status to be deemed “worthy” of things, especially a joyful life. Or, to put it simply: you don’t need to be in a relationship in order to be happy.
Having crushes is hard but also really, really fun.
“…I was under the impression that it was proper to only have one crush at a time. So after much consideration, I got serious and chose to love just one boy who would never love me.” (pg. 21)
Still, to this day, I always that if I developed a crush on a guy, I couldn’t develop a crush on anyone else. I should tell you, dear reader, that as I write this, I am also texting a boy to tell him how I’m talking to someone else and feel weird talking to more than one person. (Yes, I could’ve ghosted, but that also makes me feel weird.)
This doesn’t excuse cheating. I’m talking about developing crushes on multiple people when you’re not in a committed relationship. I guess the question is: can we have more than one crush? I mean, if boys can do it, so can we.
Don’t force it.
“…Women attracted to men have to selectively ignore the fact that their partner benefits from a culture that oppresses women and that he probably actively participates in culture in many ways.” (pg. 39)
We’re all humans. We all have attributes that make us lovable. We’re not all perfect and not all of us are evil. If you like someone, so be it, and if you don’t, so be it. You shouldn’t have to continue to like someone just because they like you. We all want to like someone who likes us back, but it shouldn’t be forced.
Should I play “hard to get”?
“To be respectful about pursuing someone in a way that ultimately involves bodies and/or hearts, you do want to start small and gently become progressively more frank as you get the consent of the other person.” (pg. 49)
Sometimes it’s really, really hard to decipher signals in the early stages of flirting or a relationship because they’re either subtle or nonexistent or poorly executed.
Apparently, to the author, playing “hard to get” just means you’re flirting and you’re giving a signal that you like this person and you want them to know that you like them, but they should shoot their shot before they miss out on the opportunity. I mean, I get it. That’s fair, but to me, playing games is a big no-no. I don’t like the chase. As time goes on, I hope “giving signals” becomes easier and less awkward and we are able to make our interest known. Why can’t things just be easier?
Actions speak louder than words…
“If you need to analyze someone’s texts to find a reading that means this person is into you, then maybe they aren’t into you.” (page 54)
If you ever had one (1) English class in high school and college where you dissected every sentence from a class reading, you know that sometimes language can and should be analyzed. I’ve read and reread Madame Bovary a few times and have enough notes and questions in the margins to prove that the characters might be saying something more than what they’re letting on. It’s hard not to analyze every text message because as a Writing major in college, that’s just how I was raised.
Yet, if someone likes you, they will make that obvious. You won’t have to dissect every text, emoji, gif, or a selfie they send. You won’t have to analyze how often they text you or if they like your photos on Instagram.
How do I know when it’s a date? I still don’t know…
“We’re living through an age when a) casual sex is normal and b) smartphones exist.” (pg. 86)
Sometimes it’s hard to know if a date is, well, a date. For me, 90% of the time, when I go on dates, I think “do they like me and that’s why they asked me on this so-called date? Or are they just being nice because they want to sleep with me?” Unless it’s explicitly stated, it’s pretty unclear the intentions of a date. A lot of us are pretty skeptical about dating for so many reasons, especially when it comes to dating apps, one of them being because of the hookup culture we’re in. It’s so prominent and sometimes people can be shady with their intentions.
Date the person you want to be.
“…the next best thing is to date someone and hope you absorb some of them by osmosis….Why not be inspired by your partner, I say, screaming into the woods, alone! I believe there is a lot of joy in that.” (pg. 99-100)
You know that cute romantic phrase people say sometimes – “you make me want to be a better person”? Yeah, it’s like that. Your partner should inspire you to be greater. Your partner should motivate you to develop an admirable character.
For example, if you want to be an adventurous person who jumps out of planes or, less drastically, who willingly moves to another state for a job without knowing anyone, date someone who’s like that. They’ll inspire you to step outside of your comfort zone. Or, if you want to be a kinder and more loving person, date someone with those attributes and they’ll show you the ropes.
This is to say that you shouldn’t neglect yourself and who you are, but if someone has traits that you aspire to have, try and absorb some of that.
Romantic friendships are a thing!
“Romantic friendships are different from “the friend zone,” a thing invented by men who think all women owe them sex. This is a friendship where you could theoretically date and you perform dating without actually dating.” (pg 150)
“Romantic friendships” are actually a thing and my mind has been blown. I think about certain guys I’ve been good friends with and realize that although we were friends, things were also way too intense to be just that. I had a best friend (a guy) who I hooked up with a few times, but we spent more time having platonic sleepovers and spending time together during the day more than anything else. Apparently, romantic friendships go back as far as the Renaissance Period–people were writing poems about it even then.
When it comes to dating and developing relationships with people, I know there’s so much more than just swiping on dating apps or shooting your shot when you see someone cute at the bar. It’s so much more than having a good conversation. It’s about feelings and who you are when you’re single and who you are when you’re in a relationship. It’s about understanding that you two are on the same page for what you want and don’t want. It’s really so much more than I thought.