It seems like my whole life I’ve been surrounded by men who only view women as things to have sex with. I do know a few men that break this rule, and I like to think that I am one of them, even though when I’m around the jerks that dehumanize women I will often uncomfortably laugh along with them because I don’t know what else to do. How do I explain to multiple people at once how negative the things they are saying are? Especially when I’m extremely outnumbered? Answers that I wish I had and hope I will one day with experience.
At my place of employment (I’m too fancy to say ‘work’ :P) today, something was said to me that was very surprising, yet very true. My coworkers and I have a bit of a running gag because I told them that my ideal first date is a picnic. I mean really, you get to listen to nature in a quiet place where you can talk and get to know each other while being in the sun, which is a proven mood elevator, and just really be together instead of some noisy restaurant where your phones are distracting and there’s always that awkward moment when the bill comes and if the guy doesn’t pay then he’s a jerk but if the girl doesn’t at least offer to help with the bill she’s a gold digger. Plus, if you see a pretty flower, you can pick it and put it behind her ear because there’s just something about a girl with a flower in her hair that is so beautiful. Based on what my coworkers say to me, I should be actively seeking as much sex with as many people as possible to get over my ex. Let’s dive into this concept.
Anyway, this joke comes up again today, because to the guys I work with I’m sure a picnic seems “gay” or like it’s too much pressure on the girl or something. So one of my coworkers says, “you have to be careful with that, girls just aren’t used to it.” This seems so odd to me. What aren’t girls used to? It seemed to me he must mean girls aren’t used to men who are vulnerable, actively trying to create romance, or looking for something other than sex. When I talk to a girl just to get to know her, I often feel dismissed, as if she thinks I’m making pointless small talk just to get in her pants eventually, but really I just want to be friends. I think that it’s assumed that men are only capable of wanting sex. We live in a culture where we don’t want any pressure put on us in a fresh relationship, we want to avoid any sort of real emotional connection so that we can jump ship as soon as we figure out what is wrong with the other person. I think that the men who only want sex have ruined romance because it has caused women to believe that a man who puts effort into creating romance must be trying REALLY hard to get laid, which means he’s trying even harder to hide his flaws, so something must be really wrong with him. I’m not really sure on the last half of that sentence, but I will continue my point. In this way, it seems likely that if I walked up to a girl and asked her to go on a picnic with me, she would immediately think “what’s wrong with him?” and reject me because of that. However, I contend that nothing is wrong with me, because when I ask someone for a picnic (or any other date, just using picnic as my example) it’s because I want to get to know them, and on the off chance that they are someone I could spend the rest of my life with, we had a damn romantic first date that we’ll be able to share as a wonderful story forever. Does that seem too pressurey to hope she’s the one on the first date? Maybe, but isn’t ‘the one’ what we all want to find? What’s so wrong with openly looking for that person and not lying about what I’m looking for. Men (and I’m sure some women) are shameless when they are open about only looking for sex, yet I’m ostracized and criticized for openly looking for a person to share my life with. Maybe I’m crazy, but I think it should be the other way around. Even the word ‘date’ is too much pressure for people anymore. People don’t ‘date’ anymore, it’s always, let’s ‘hang out’ or some other non committal word. Right off the bat, people are not communicating effectively in any sort of romantic relationship. Since when has that word become so taboo? I’ve been personally criticized for using the word date before. “Don’t say date, it’s too much pressure. Just hang out and get to know each other.” But if we’re just ‘hanging out’ isn’t there just a ton of ambiguity right off the bat?
Also, is sex not enough pressure in and of itself? I’m not sure if it is for women, but it certainly is for me and I think this rings true for a lot of men. Anxiety blasts its way into my mind when the possibility of sex arises. “Will I be good?” “Am I big enough?” “Am I hurting her?” “Will she finish?” “Am I better than her past sexual partners?” “If she doesn’t enjoy it, will she just ditch me?” It seems like in early relationships we put so much emphasis on how good the sex is that it can make or break a relationship, but that’s to be expected in a culture where using another human being to reach orgasm and then never see them again is seen as commonplace. There is nothing romantic about a one night stand, yet men are seen as idols if they successfully “hit it and quit it.” I have often heard the “you would test drive a car before you buy it” analogy more times than I can count, but people aren’t cars, they aren’t something you buy, yet we treat relationships more like business transactions than intimate connections between social beings. There’s always an “if you do this then I…” scenario, but that isn’t love, that’s quid pro quo, but love can’t be conditional or else it isn’t love (this is the best thing I ever learned from my ex, by the way).
I’m going to delve into sex for a bit, because it is an interesting part of a romantic relationship. We joke a lot about sex in our culture. Women will tell their friends if he was good or bad in bed, men will brag to their friends just for having it, but I don’t think there really is such a thing as bad sex. I don’t view it as something to just have a moment of ecstasy and then it’s done, to me it’s a way to deeply connect with the person you are having it with. I don’t enjoy when it ends, because then the connection is severed. I enjoy the feel of her body pressed against mine, staring into her eyes, and the feeling of really being connected to this person so much that I’m willing to risk becoming a father just to share this with them. Yet we are willing to completely cut ties with a person just because “the sex was bad.” Here’s a dirty little secret most people won’t tell you, if you are patient, communicate well, and don’t base the entire value of it on just how satisfying the finish was, two people can almost always have great sex, given time. Now, there will be exceptions, but I believe that we are too impatient as a society to give people more than one chance at things too scared of real connection to communicate how we feel, and even too confused about ourselves to even know how we feel sometimes. Our culture seems to shame people if they don’t separate sex and emotion, but those two things naturally go hand in hand.
But back to my original point. It always seems like the men who I often hear women complaining about, those that only want sex, are always getting the most of it. Now maybe they are just bragging more than the rest of us, or maybe they are outright lying about the number of women they have slept with. They certainly have traits that I don’t, like more self confidence and less social anxiety, but why are these traits correlated? I don’t have the answer to that, maybe one day I will. These men seem to just naturally be able to flirt and flatter until they get laid without ever actually having to make the time commitment that goes into forming a real emotional bond with another person. After my own heartbreak, I can understand the desire to just find temporary comfort in between some random person’s legs with no strings attached to try to protect myself from getting hurt again, but that isn’t fair to either person. I get it, we’re all human, we all have “needs” but too many of us are just content servicing our most basic needs instead of seeking higher ones. Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy? Yeah, that thing, why are we fine with satisfying the basic shit but too afraid to move up the ladder and seek real connection? Men are just going out to get laid, saying anything that it takes, women are letting them get away with it, and no one is being honest with anyone else because opening up would make things too “real” and that would be too much “pressure.”
This post is getting really long and I don’t have a generic answer that will work for everyone, and maybe my experiences are different than yours, but I’ll wrap it up with this. Men and women: Stop being afraid to be vulnerable. We’re social animals. Human connection is the crux of human existence. If you want romance, ask for it. If you’re going on a date, just call it what it is. Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve, and you deserve to have actual love and romance in your life, not just random hook ups that lead no where.