Privilege, Entitlement and Dating

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So over the past few days and the past few articles, I’ve seen a pair of issues come up over and over again: the idea that men somehow have it “harder” in dating and that women set the social agenda in order to make men leap through hoops for their amusement. It’s come up when we’ve talked about issues with men displaying “creepy” behavior. It’s come up in dealing with online dating and the different approaches that men and women take with regards to screening out potential undesirables. It’s come up when we’ve talked about using Pick-Up Artist material.

Frankly, it’s rather annoying how often it’s ended up being a topic of discussion, usually derailing the conversation in the comments threads… but it’s also extremely symptomatic of a deeper issue when it comes to men – especially men who aren’t the most socially adept or experienced – and dating.

It’s about fear mixed with a sense of entitlement when it comes to women, sex and romance. And it’s costing men potentially rewarding relationships because they simply cannot seem to look past this issue.

So I think it’s about time we actually sat down and talked about it.

You Aren’t Owed Anything

Somewhere along the lines, a lot of men have developed the idea that the world owes them a woman. Sometimes it’s a specific one – The One, in fact. Sometimes it’s less specific; a man may not think that he’s owed Kat Dennings, to pull a completely-random-and-not-at-all-because-she-won’t-take-my-calls example, but he is owed a woman of equivalent hotness, regardless of his own physical appearance or level success, talent or achievement.

“Just keep walking, nerd boy.”

There are plenty who will take umbrage at the idea that no, they can’t have a woman who’s a perfect 101 without some significant accomplishment of their own; they will rant and rage about how it’s unfair that in order to have a beautiful woman they have to be beautiful themselves, richer than dreams of avarice or more talented than a god.

And really, what could be more fair than being able to attract a woman of unparalleled beauty without having to put in any effort at all on your part? I mean, shit, I think it’s totally unfair that I have to work for a living instead of getting paid just for being awesome. 

To quote one of my favorite movies: “You say [that it’s not fair] so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is.”

Newsflash: Life ain’t fair folks, and that goes doubly so for dating.

It’s not surprising that the idea that we are somehow owed a beautiful woman is so deeply entrenched in the male psyche – after all, it’s an integral part of popular culture. I’ve covered this before, but just about every form of consumable pop culture with a male protagonist has “hero gets awarded a princess” at the end of the story. If the story isn’t about the actual courtship – which will end with them overcoming whatever bullshit drama Hollywood decided to throw their way  – then the hero doesn’t completely win the woman until after he achieves something. He blows up the aliens. He saves the Rec Center. He finally graduates from college. As soon as he does: he gets the girl of his choosing.

When you grow up on a steady diet of women as the prize in the CrackerJack box, you start to think that you too are owed a hot babe for… well for something. For being you. For being her “friend” and collecting enough Nice Guy coupons until you can trade them in for sex.

Unfortunately, real life isn’t the movies and women in the real world tend to take offense when you assume that they are somehow obligated to give you access to their person, regardless of their wishes.

It’s Just So Rude To Be Attractive But Unavailable.

On Monday, I wrote an article about why women might not be writing back on dating sites when the topic of screening came up. Some women will add qualifiers to their profile – that they’re not there to find dates, only friends, that you should only message her if you meet X, Y and Z or if you’re not looking for sex…  A common complaint that men have – one that was echoed in the comments on the article – was that this is somehow a violation of the Dating Site Contract. That women who, say, create an OKCupid for the various quizzes and aren’t looking to meet men are somehow Using It Wrong.  If you’re on a dating site – so the implied contract goes – you’re supposed to be willing to consider anyone who stops to email you.

To a woman, saying something along the lines of “I’m interested in meeting as friends, if something more develops, great” means “I want to take things slowly and make sure that the person I meet up with is willing to respect my pace and boundaries.” To a man with entitlement issues, it’s putting up a barrier between herself and any men who might want to get to know her; after all, who is she to set the terms of how to meet her? I’ve seen far too many people for whom the idea that a woman has decided that she is only open to certain types of relationships or why certain types of individuals shouldn’t bother trying to contact her is a personal insult. In fact, copping an attitude is one of the most common mistakes men make in online dating. Just about every woman I’ve known who has tried online dating has received a variation of “FUCK YOU, YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO NOT LIKE ME” when she didn’t respond immediately with a “YES, TAKE ME NOW IN A MANLY FASHION” to his unsolicited email – or worse, didn’t respond at all. It’s rather startling to watch “You’re really pretty I think we should go on a date” turn on a dime to “Fuck u, ur an ugly ho u crazy bitccccch” when the woman in question didn’t respond in the pre-approved manner quickly enough.

The perception that placing some sort of artificial restriction on the men who are “allowed” to communicate with her bothers these people because, frankly, they resent the fact that there’s a woman that they’re cut off from. Men already have a complex stew of entitlement issues and serious insecurities warring in their heads. On the one hand, any man who isn’t in the top 10th percentile of whatever metric you might want to use to gauge male sexual desirability is painfully aware of this fact. On the other hand – tying back into that “fairness” issue I mentioned before – they resent the fact that they might not get the hottest/sexiest/richest woman because of it. However, instead of turning their attention inward – dealing with their self-esteem issues, working on improving their lives, accepting that maybe they hold women to impossible standards- they decide to externalize their anger… and put the blame for their lack of dating success firmly on women because they’re rejecting the unwritten rule that men are owed their sexual attention.

Of course, in many cases it goes well beyond the idea that somehow women aren’t keeping up their end of the social contract… it’s a full blown conspiracy! Y’see… women are in total control of every social interaction they have with men and men are forced, forced I say!, to accede to their wishes.

What? You didn’t know that? Oh well, then you just need to ask yourself this one question:

  1. I hate rating women on a numerical scale, but sometimes it’s a necessary shorthand for the conversation []

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