For over a month now, I’ve been trying to write something with the title, “Is He Really Just Not That Into You?” I even asked for some feedback on my social media accounts to try to gauge guys’ opinions on the book. I feel really bad for all the people who took time out of their day to respond to me because I am not going to write that article. I can’t. I won’t. And I don’t want to anymore.
Somehow in the lives of most heterosexual females, it seems that everything always ends up being about boys. How to be the girl who guys want to marry, date; the girl who guys want to want. I know independent, brilliant, educated, talented, successful women, and no matter how much of these things we are, what guys want us to be is in our subconscious as a matter of social conditioning, if nothing else. John Berger’s now classic article, “Way of Seeing,” which was my first academic introduction to the male gaze, states that, “Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.” And we do; well, in the spirit of non-generalizing, let’s just say I do.
But what does this have to do with dating rules? I think it has everything to do with dating rules. Men are the ones that are looking at women and are doing so from a position of power. Women are watching themselves being looked at and doing so powerlessly. We perpetuate and maintain these positions because of our socially constructed concepts of gender roles. And from these, we develop rules. And although these rules are at least subject to disagreement, dissent, and flat-out rejection these days; they are still the default logic for many of us. Our rules include that guys must make the first move, they must be the aggressive ones; guys must lead. And women, well, we should be more passive and gentle and allow the man to lead of course.
I consider myself someone who is fairly cosmopolitan and modern in a lot of ways yet when it comes to guys, I retreat to these customary dating expectations under the guise of being a “traditional girl.” And there’s nothing wrong with being a “traditional girl” if that’s what you want, but there is something wrong with thinking that this is the only way it should be. Women have to dance around and play this game and be this supposed girl that guys “want to end up with” even if we would be faking it to do so. And the more I think about these rules, the more I question them; and the more I question them, the less I would like these rules to be our default logic.
Take the well-known, “He’s just not that into you if he’s not asking you out” rule. But, what about her? Why is she not asking him out? And I have definitely come across many guys who have wanted to ask girls out but they thought that the girls weren’t into them for one reason or another. But what if the girls were into them? What if the girls were into them but were waiting for the guys, “to lead.” What if the girls solely abided by, “He’s just not that into me because he’s not asking me out,” and then decided to move on? My point is following dates rules can cause people to miss out on each other because we’re playing these games and abiding by supposedly unwritten natural laws to maintain the status quo. And I get it, conventional is safe. But does it always work? I don’t think so.
There is nothing in nature that explicitly indicates that a guy should be the one to ask girls out. Or make the first move or any of that jazz. Something also tells me guys today are a little confused. Women have come a really long way in the last century and their mentality has changed a lot. They can be assertive and aggressive in many facets of life. I know I am. So to all of a sudden cower into this, “traditional girl” who is waiting around for the guy to ask me out is well, bewildering. It’s mixed signals. And I can tell you fist-hand that this “let the man lead” thing has never really worked for me. Granted, I like a man who can lead but sometimes you literally have to grab a guy and show him the way. Because there’s different kinds of guys just as there are different kinds of girls. And you’ll just never know what kind will give you those butterflies in your stomach when they’re around. So you’ve got to work with what you’ve got and be willing to change as needed.
Dating is confusing. Men are confusing especially when you like them. And yes, women are confusing too. But do we have to complicate the matter further by creating rules and then calling them unwritten? Rules are for sports games and hotdog eating competitions, not people who are interested in other people romantically. Stop waiting for him to text or call you first if you want to call him first. Stop waiting for her to give you a sign and give her a sign — a clear, unequivocal, sign. Men — man up and women — woman up; and let’s forget about what we think are the dating rules, and dare to write our own.