Wayne Current is one of my closest confidants. He’s also a fantastic writer and keen observer of human relationships. Although he was unsure about tackling the subject of relationships in a blog post, I knew if he gave it a go he would nail it. True to form, Wayne came through with flying colours!
I have to admit that writing a post for Nadine’s blog has been a really intimidating adventure. This all began with an email where she wrote to her guest bloggers saying,
“Thank you all SO much for agreeing to guest post on the blog while I’m away next week! Feel free to post about anything related to the subjects of sex, relationships, dating, body image, gender and the like. It can be any format you like – long, short, a list, an essay, whatever. It can definitely tie in to the stuff your writing on your blogs as well.”
Sex? Relationships? And dating? I was confused. These are all topics that are very far away from my area of expertise. When had I ever written about any of these themes? Certainly not on my little arts blog! Furthermore, I didn’t actually recall ever making a firm commitment to be a guest blogger at all. We did have a conversation at the Oak where I said I would consider it. At best I gave a definite maybe. I totally intended to bail on writing this post, but for those of you who know Nadine well, you will recognize that Ms. Thornhill has a way of getting what she wants so here is my first post on dating and romance:
Here’s something I’ve noticed as a single, heterosexual man, living in Ottawa: in most contemporary heterosexual courtships the expectation is still on the male to take the more active role in selecting mates, while many females wait passively with the desire to be chosen rather than be the one taking the initiative.
Now I have no scientific evidence to back up this observation (I warned you I wasn’t an expert!) but based on my own experiences, and those in my social circle, I think it’s fairly safe to say that this is a general trend. I became keenly aware of this phenomenon late last summer after I created an online profile at OKcupid (an online dating site.)
Most of my time on this site, was spent searching profiles, looking at photos, and then writing small well crafted messages to those who interested me (admittedly a small sample). At the time, I kind of assumed women were doing the same thing, but a week went by and I had yet to receive a message from someone I hadn’t contacted directly. In the meantime, I had acquired a pen pal (someone I contacted, who was seeing someone else, but who still wanted to chat). I asked her about this phenomena and she said this was totally normal. In her view, the online dating world mirrors society at large and this is the way that power is exchanged generally between men and women.
I conferred with a few friends, and while not true in all cases, this was again confirmed as a general behaviour particularly in the online world. Men would bombard women with messages and women would hope that one of them would be interesting enough to write back. To me this is a bit odd. In a world where a liberal society recommends women take control, over their career path, their reproductive choices, and well pretty much everything else, why are women not encouraged to take the initiative with their potential mates? Or are they encouraged to do so but just not acting on this recommendation?
After a few months I did receive a small handful of messages from women who obviously had decided to play a very different game. This was refreshing because it was such a rarity. I was much more likely to engage with these women in conversation because of this. If grades were awarded I would grant a half to full grade for those who weren’t afraid to reach out in a friendly fashion. In short, by going against the grain you stand out. It’s definitely more interesting and often more exciting (at least in the beginning).
Since I’m being honest, many of these conversations started by women went exactly the same way as those I initiated myself. I would lose interest or not be that attracted, they would lose interest or not be that attracted, or both of us would mutually lose interest. I’ve actually only ever met two women in person from this site and only dated one of those.
So why do you think this lack of initiative exists? Is it a problem? Do you have online or in person experiences of your own to share?
Wayne Current blogs about arts, culture and livin’ the good life in Ottawa at his blog, The Many Faces of Wayne.