I used to do quite a bit of work in political circles. I still find myself there from time to time. Recently in our state, like many, there has been an eruption of stories of sexual abuse and harassment by male legislators over the years in our state capitol. I suppose we have Harvey Weinstein to thank for all of this.
His decades of abuse finally became the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back and now a lot of women are done being silent. It’s about time.
A few days ago I was talking to a friend about the “list” of men who work in our state capital that I’ve been given “the warning” about or who I’ve had personal experiences with that were inappropriate. That list is longer than it should be. It’s probably not nearly comprehensive enough. Women in every workplace quietly and politely share their list with new female co-workers.
This is nothing new. What’s new is the friend I was sharing my list with is male. We were talking about it because now we’re all talking, and that’s probably a good thing, especially for men.
He’s a good guy. He’s a good friend. He’s a good enough friend that I’ve called him on very short notice to join me for meetings with men who are on the list of men I don’t meet with alone.
He’s shown up for that duty more than once without asking questions, knowing full well why he was invited.
There are a lot of good men, and good men are finding themselves in really choppy waters right about now. They are having to navigate a lot of conversations and relationships with what feels like a target on their backs that they didn’t earn just because they are male. They feel the anger welling up in women. These good men are listening to the stories. They are reading the articles. They are affected on many levels.
The good ones are hearing the messages loud and clear. The challenge is, they aren’t the ones we needed to get the memo. We need the abusers and assholes to get on board, but they are not moving to the right side of this issue willingly. They are being moved through lawsuits and public humiliation. They are very busy right now victim blaming and dodging their history while the good guys are trying to find their way to man up responsibly.
The good guys are quietly struggling to find their way in relationships, especially the single ones.
This is an excerpt from an email I got from a single client recently. He gave me permission to share it. “I have been talking with a woman in a department at work that I have very little contact with professionally. There is no reason for us to chat regarding work. However, we connect a few times a day. It’s been a lot of fun, but I feel really awkward right now saying, I think we’ve been flirting. I don’t’ want to be that guy.”
He went on to say he doesn’t think he’s crossed any lines. I, in fact, believe him. She often seeks him out. By all accounts, it seems like she’s into him. However, he’s found himself feeling very uncomfortable that this is happening in the workplace. He thinks he likes her. He’s thought about asking her out. He hadn’t worked up the nerve. Now, though, he finds himself avoiding her and that feels awkward too.
This man is a good guy. I know him. I’ve worked with him for awhile. The reason he’s hyperaware isn’t that he’s afraid of getting sued. It’s because he doesn’t want to offend her or put her in an awkward position. Because he’s such a nice guy, he’s really quite the catch. It’s not hard for me to imagine what this woman might be thinking right now. She’s probably wondering why he’s not interested in her anymore.
Players are not hard to miss. They are bold. They are flashy. They push boundaries for sport. Good guys have always been more difficult to spot. They are more likely to stand in the background vs. trying to be the center of attention. They are more subtle by nature. They may not have game and might be more prone to land in the friend zone.
The good guys are going to be harder to see than ever before right now because they are the ones asking themselves the important questions and they are way more likely to err on the side of caution. This is making dating even more challenging than it was before because the man you should be looking for might be even harder find.
For women, the power dynamic is shifting, because we are shifting it. That is a very good thing. However, the days may be gone forever where a woman can sit back and expect to be actively pursued just because she is a woman, especially if she wants to be in a relationship with one of the good guys. The good guy is going to be very weary of being too aggressive or crossing any boundaries. If you’re looking for one of them, you might have to make the first move or even the second and third moves.
If you want a relationship with a man who’s going to respect you, you might need to look for the guy that hasn’t made a move.
You may want to be prepared to overtly let him know you’re interested in him by asking him out first. You may need to be willing to make the call enough times to let him know you want him to call. You might want to flirt more openly with the guy that doesn’t seem that flirtatious initially.
I’m not going to tell you how to spot or avoid a player or an abuser. I am going to say that if you want to attract a man who’s going to treat you like a partner and an equal, you’re going to need to look beyond the players and make your move with the guy who might not be making moves at all. That guy might be worth some risk. That guy will take more effort, especially initially.
Women aren’t prey.
We can choose men.
We can pursue and if we want to find relationships with really good men, we may have to pursue and that’s ok.