Thinking That The Rules Of Dating Have Changed is a Dangerous Illusion
Women have become more powerful. We know this because we hear about it every day. Women are reaching new pinnacles in politics, sciences, and the workplace. They run countries and businesses. Often, they earn more money than men, and they have well and truly escaped the confines of their kitchen and laundry room, swapping it for the freedom that the sexes equality affords them. Men have discovered that there is no shame in sharing some of the burden of child-rearing with their wives, and many husbands have become very adept in changing nappies and other tasks that previously were the exclusive province of women.
Looking at the social landscape, one would be justified in thinking that this rebalancing of power has eradicated the rules that govern the dating game, and one would be wrong. In fact, it is this exact shifting of power that has made sticking to the rules even more critical. This new powerful breed of women is making men scared. So scared, in fact, that an entire generation of young men is shunning sex and romantic relationships altogether. Generation Z is fulfilling the need for closeness and human contact primarily through digital connections. At the same time, women who have reached success in all other areas are finding their less accomplished colleagues are getting into relationships and marriage while they languish alone, wondering why men shun them.
Successful women are in a pickle. They want to use those strengths and abilities that made them successful in the workplace to get their man. They are not afraid to be proactive and decisive, only to find out that when it comes to love, these strategies do not work.
I started writing this article prompted by the tradition that during leap years, it is considered acceptable for women to get on their knees and propose marriage instead of the other way around. But is it really acceptable? In UC Santa Cruz University, researchers surveyed 277 heterosexual undergraduate students on their own attitudes toward proposals. Two-thirds of the students, both male and female, said they’d “definitely” want the man to propose marriage in their relationship. Only 2.8 percent of women said they’d “kind of” want to propose, but not a single man indicated he’d prefer that arrangement. Not a single student, male or female, “definitely” wanted the woman to propose. These results are particularly interesting because this is a liberal university, with the majority of students being flexible about gender roles. When explaining their answers, 41 percent of women and 57 percent of men — directly referenced gender roles in their explanations, citing a desire to adhere to gender-role traditions.
What we are seeing here is an adherence to the traditional roles of male and female where the man wants to conquer, and the woman wants to be won, and there is nothing wrong with that. This holds true in almost every species; the male is the hunter, and the female demurs, tries to run away, and finally yields to the alpha male. This is the game, and women cannot change the rules without detriment.
Even in those cases where women are the aggressors and eventually dominate the man in their relationship, it is a hollow victory. The man retaliates in the only way he can, which is to withdraw sex and often affection. The harder a woman dominates, the more likely it is for the man to eventually stray with another female who conforms to the traditional female role.
I find it challenging to convince some of these alpha women that they need to play the game and act “feminine” for the sake of their relationships. They get angry and start waiving feminist banners, explaining that things have changed, and my views are “old fashioned.” They say that they want to be with a man who is strong enough to be their equal and take them for who they are. “I don’t want to play games” is their repeating catchphrase. Meanwhile, the years pass, and they soul search to find out why their relationships don’t last. “I am successful, smart, pretty, and take good care of myself. Why can’t I meet Mr Right?” they lament as they hit their 30s and then their 40s.
Let me put it differently. Men view these assertive females with fear rather than desire. They cannot see how they can have a harmonious relationship with someone who is essentially an antagonistic competitor. It is the weaker, beta males that are attracted to these capable, take-charge women. They are looking for someone to make the decisions and provide them with the nest. But over time, even these men mutiny or secretly stray seeking to fulfil their gender stereotype.
There is no way to escape the “game,” and nobody really wants to regardless of what they say. Powerful women want to meet even more powerful men who will romance them and win them over. They are just playing an advanced version of the game and they suffer the lack of suitable opponents. They are “playing,” but it is a different game. At the risk of carrying the analogy too far, those who say they don’t like games are the ones who find themselves consistently losing without genuinely understanding the reasons.
Here are some of the rules to get you started:
• You don’t need to prove that you are smarter, more successful, or wealthier than your partner — If that’s the case, he already knows. Try instead to be supportive, non-confrontational and loving.
• Do not go after a man like you would after a client, do it the other way around. He should be trying to win your account and you are playing hard to get and shopping around.
• Dress like a woman. Show your curves and swoosh you shiny hair. Wear red lipstick and drive him crazy with your smoky gaze full of promises.
• Let him lead the way, agree with his suggestions (or at least don’t argue against them), be easy to get along, and every now and again, cook his meals and fold his laundry. It will not kill you to take care of your man.
• Don’t rub his face in his mistakes or whine when things don’t turn out your way. It may give you a brief satisfaction but believe me long term you lose.
Here is the good news. Overall, the game of love is a simple game with more than one winner. As an open-ended game, you must continue following the rules in perpetuity. It is also a collaborative game of give and take. The players learn how to dance together and how to avoid stepping on each other’s toes. The rewards are many and varied, and as you level up, your relationship deepens and flourishes.
Playing the game of love does not mean that you are tricking or deceiving your partner. All you are doing is learning the steps to a dance, so that you and your partner can twirl together harmoniously under the canopy of life.