Why Is Women Not Approaching So Controversial?

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Post by Conreezy on Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:31 pm

Heck, I once got lectured because I'd made out with a guy, but refused to sleep with him, telling him straight out I saved sex for relationships; I was told (by several men) that I had "led the guy on" and come off like I was manipulating him (trading sex for dating.) See, because I had done the pursuit and made the moves. It's just a whole big kettle of confusing and frustrating fish that never seems freaking worth it.

Were you told that by the guy you made out with? Or by other people?

Seems to me that if you lay out the deal, and he accepts, then the consequences are all on him.

Just to add, I think there are many reasons why men might prefer to the approached, or prefer it some of the time at least, that don't amount to laziness/entitlement/thinking only attractive women will approach/women would have it easier approaching than them. A lot of men do want to approached for those reasons, but not all.

True. I enjoy it because it makes me feel wanted, and everyone likes that. I enjoy it because it shows that the women I'm talking to probably views the interaction as something more equitable than a performance on my part and a judgement on hers. I enjoy it because I like assertive people (to a point, I guess. No one likes arrogance or bullies.) I enjoy it because it makes me think that the time and effort I put into my appearance is actually working. I enjoy all those things even if I'm not attracted to the woman (or man, for that matter) who approached me.

Only one woman has outright asked me on a date, though. I married her.


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Post by reboundstudent on Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:37 pm

Conreezy wrote:
Heck, I once got lectured because I'd made out with a guy, but refused to sleep with him, telling him straight out I saved sex for relationships; I was told (by several men) that I had "led the guy on" and come off like I was manipulating him (trading sex for dating.) See, because I had done the pursuit and made the moves. It's just a whole big kettle of confusing and frustrating fish that never seems freaking worth it.

Were you told that by the guy you made out with? Or by other people?

Seems to me that if you lay out the deal, and he accepts, then the consequences are all on him.  

Other folks. I laid out the deal when it seemed like it was going into that direction; aka, I put a big road block in that direction, but towards the Making Out, the path was still clear. This happened to me a good three or four times, and I never did figure out the right "timing." In one instance, I told the guy flat out at the beginning of the date that I didn't kiss on the first date, and I was only interested in relationship-sex (we'd also met online where I tried to spell that out with my question-answers.) He then continued to accept dates from me, but was very pushy about physical stuff. He also would never come out and say he wasn't interested in a relationship, just made vague hints about his feelings. When I finally gave up and stopped responding to his texts, he got angry about me "leading him on" and "being flaky." *Throws up hands in defeat*
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Post by Conreezy on Sat Feb 14, 2015 4:49 pm

reboundstudent wrote:
Conreezy wrote:
Heck, I once got lectured because I'd made out with a guy, but refused to sleep with him, telling him straight out I saved sex for relationships; I was told (by several men) that I had "led the guy on" and come off like I was manipulating him (trading sex for dating.) See, because I had done the pursuit and made the moves. It's just a whole big kettle of confusing and frustrating fish that never seems freaking worth it.

Were you told that by the guy you made out with? Or by other people?

Seems to me that if you lay out the deal, and he accepts, then the consequences are all on him.  

Other folks. I laid out the deal when it seemed like it was going into that direction; aka, I put a big road block in that direction, but towards the Making Out, the path was still clear. This happened to me a good three or four times, and I never did figure out the right "timing." In one instance, I told the guy flat out at the beginning of the date that I didn't kiss on the first date, and I was only interested in relationship-sex (we'd also met online where I tried to spell that out with my question-answers.) He then continued to accept dates from me, but was very pushy about physical stuff. He also would never come out and say he wasn't interested in a relationship, just made vague hints about his feelings. When I finally gave up and stopped responding to his texts, he got angry about me "leading him on" and "being flaky." *Throws up hands in defeat*  

Sounds like that guy wasn't respecting the deal. Sounds like you didn't like the push on your boundaries and dumped him. Sounds like he blames you for his behavior. Sounds like he was a dick, and you dodged a bullet.

Sounds like smart dating on your part, right? Move on to the next one.

I've been that guy before, hanging around a bad relationship just hoping to get laid. It was all about my selfishness and cowardice, nothing else.

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Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:03 pm

I think a lot of the anger has to do with the myopia of many men about relationships and gender roles. I would suspect these guys discount any and all relationship work that isn't their own, and that they aren't even aware of how much work and skill it takes to be approachable. I suspect for a subset of them they're also revealing their own expectation that women should be entirely responsible for all emotional and relational work, especially for the parts that they themselves don't like.

That said, ouch. I'm eighteen years into a deliriously happy relationship where I approached him first. It really hurts to hear that people here think that my relationship is a mistake.
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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:24 pm

To be fair Kleene, RBS later clarified saying that she doesn't think women approaching and getting a good relationship was "impossible" just that she think it has long-shot odds and frequently backfires in exhausting and draining ways. It thus just isn't worth the risk for her, and she doesn't think it'd be worth the risk for most other women either - but she also acknowledged there are exceptional women for whom it does work out, and that individual women have the right to choose for themselves whether to approach regardless of whether its an objectively good idea.

On your first bit - the "don't get what it takes to be approachable" is a big part of it I think. From their point of view, women just have to sit back and wait. Furthermore, the only reason they don't get to do the same, is because women don't approach. So from their point of view, you're taking the lazy stance, and in doing so making them "do all the work". Which yeah, is understandably angering. And I'd probably be sympathetic if the logic wasn't also completely wrong.

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Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:33 pm

LadyLuck wrote:On your first bit - the "don't get what it takes to be approachable" is a big part of it I think. From their point of view, women just have to sit back and wait. Furthermore, the only reason they don't get to do the same, is because women don't approach. So from their point of view, you're taking the lazy stance, and in doing so making them "do all the work". Which yeah, is understandably angering. And I'd probably be sympathetic if the logic wasn't also completely wrong.

I could buy this if there wasn't evidence that women who do nothing (beyond the basics of hygiene and clothes) still do get approached. I used to frequent a forum for people with social anxiety disorder, and nobody was "making an effort" because that would be terrifying, and there were like 4 or 5 women in relationships to every one man on that forum.

Furthermore, so many women, particularly young women, have stories of relationships literally falling into their laps as they go about their day-to-day lives. Now, certainly, if you want to be approached at bars and parties and so on regularly, then that takes some effort. But, c'mon, I've heard so many women say relationships "just happened" and the like, which is code for "I wasn't trying at all".

Also I'm really pissed off that people are calling me an entitled jerk, a sexist, a lazy person, and other things because I'd rather women approach. Really pissed off...


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Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:35 pm

Well, I happen to think it's an objectively good idea for all women who want an equal partnership. I imagine there are a few exceptional women who get approached by men and still end up in equal partnerships, and individual women have the right to choose for themselves whether the risk of approaching is worth the (possible) reward of a fairer relationship model. But that's probably a topic for another thread.
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Post by kleenestar on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:38 pm

The Wisp wrote:Furthermore, so many women, particularly young women, have stories of relationships literally falling into their laps as they go about their day-to-day lives. Now, certainly, if you want to be approached at bars and parties and so on regularly, then that takes some effort. But, c'mon, I've heard so many women say relationships "just happened" and the like, which is code for "I wasn't trying at all".

No, what they're doing is constructing a socially acceptable story of how their relationship got started. Women are supposed to make all their work look effortless, which is a huge part of the problem. One way that manifests is that many women will pretend things "just happened" to them when in fact they were trying quite hard to make it happen.

The Wisp wrote:Also I'm really pissed off that people are calling me an entitled jerk, a sexist, a lazy person, and other things because I'd rather women approach. Really pissed off...

Let me be very clear then that I, at least, was not describing you. There's nothing wrong with preferring women to approach - hell, I do! The question is why some people get extremely shitty about that preference - and that's not you.
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Post by Enail on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:53 pm

TheWisp, the topic is people who get angry at the idea of women who decide not to approach; I don't think anyone is saying that these things apply to people who prefer women to approach but respect individuals' decisions on the matter. (And if anyone is trying to say that, stop).
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Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 15, 2015 2:57 pm

Enail wrote:TheWisp, the topic is people who get angry at the idea of women who decide not to approach; I don't think anyone is saying that these things apply to people who prefer women to approach but respect individuals' decisions on the matter. (And if anyone is trying to say that, stop).

Well, I am angry at the fact that women as a collective don't approach, and I am angry that individual women say other women shouldn't approach, even if I'm not angry if individual women choose not to approach for their own personal reasons.

And not because I'm entitled, or because I don't realize the downsides, but because society has made the choice of whether I can get into a relationship by being approached for me. It might happen, but it is extremely unlikely, and besides that approach would probably be a "very warm approach", not by an acquaintance or classmate, which means I'm (not) fucked, for now.
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Post by Enail on Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:03 pm

Oh, okay, I can see the difference. That makes sense.
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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:21 pm

Conreezy wrote:
reboundstudent wrote:
Other folks. I laid out the deal when it seemed like it was going into that direction; aka, I put a big road block in that direction, but towards the Making Out, the path was still clear. This happened to me a good three or four times, and I never did figure out the right "timing." In one instance, I told the guy flat out at the beginning of the date that I didn't kiss on the first date, and I was only interested in relationship-sex (we'd also met online where I tried to spell that out with my question-answers.) He then continued to accept dates from me, but was very pushy about physical stuff. He also would never come out and say he wasn't interested in a relationship, just made vague hints about his feelings. When I finally gave up and stopped responding to his texts, he got angry about me "leading him on" and "being flaky." *Throws up hands in defeat*  

Sounds like that guy wasn't respecting the deal.  Sounds like you didn't like the push on your boundaries and dumped him.  Sounds like he blames you for his behavior.  Sounds like he was a dick, and you dodged a bullet.  

Sounds like smart dating on your part, right?  Move on to the next one.  

I've been that guy before, hanging around a bad relationship just hoping to get laid.  It was all about my selfishness and cowardice, nothing else.  

I don't take RBS's approach to dating, but I also don't think it's entirely unreasonable for someone who ended up in a relationship with a person who was being selfish and cowardly to want to take steps to try to screen out that sort of partner in the future. After all, bad relationships come at a cost of someone's time and emotional energy, and not everyone is going to be ready to head out looking for a replacement partner.

I think it comes down a little bit to what kleenestar said about some of the angry guys:
kleenestar wrote:I think a lot of the anger has to do with the myopia of many men about relationships and gender roles. I would suspect these guys discount any and all relationship work that isn't their own, and that they aren't even aware of how much work and skill it takes to be approachable. I suspect for a subset of them they're also revealing their own expectation that women should be entirely responsible for all emotional and relational work, especially for the parts that they themselves don't like.

Like I said, I haven't taken RBS's approach, but I've kind of found both that these guys exist and that there seem to be a lot of voices supporting them in especially geek but also wider culture. I've talked about this before, but I get the message many times that I'm not allowed to want anything of actual value from a partner. When women want traditional male role performances like a good job and the ability to take initiative, they're reinforcing sexist stereotypes and are part of the problem. If they want physically attractive partners who are able to be charming when approached, they're shallow. If they want monogamy or a relationship leading to marriage, they're old fashioned. On the other side of things, requests for partners who do an equal amount of housework tend to lead to, "But men have lower standards about that sort of thing, so women need to lighten up," and requests for partners who do an equal amount of emotional work to, "Well, men don't tend to receive a lot of emotional support from their male friends, so they probably are going to lean more on their female partners for that, and they probably won't have as much practice at providing it as well." It's apparently acceptable to want a fellow geek or to care about someone's taste in media, but that's only of value to someone who cares much about those traits.

Basically, I can see where RBS is coming from by wanting a partner who's willing to do something to get the relationship started and whose willingness to do or not do that can be assessed fairly early on. I don't use that one, but the best criteria I've found is "no kids," because that at least means there's only one person whose wants and desires will end up ranked far ahead of my own, so it's difficult for me to tell her that hers isn't working.
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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:25 pm

The Wisp wrote:Also I'm really pissed off that people are calling me an entitled jerk, a sexist, a lazy person, and other things because I'd rather women approach. Really pissed off...

The Wisp wrote:
Well, I am angry at the fact that women as a collective don't approach, and I am angry that individual women say other women shouldn't approach, even if I'm not angry if individual women choose not to approach for their own personal reasons.

And not because I'm entitled, or because I don't realize the downsides, but because society has made the choice of whether I can get into a relationship by being approached for me. It might happen, but it is extremely unlikely, and besides that approach would probably be a "very warm approach", not by an acquaintance or classmate, which means I'm (not) fucked, for now.

So, I guess I'd see this as the flip side of your attitude toward RBS versus your attitude toward the social phenomenon. I don't think anyone is calling you an entitled jerk, a sexist, or a lazy person. I don't think you're personally any of those things. I do think there's a broad tendency in our culture that gives men a lot more leeway to be those things and still find relationships, though, and it makes me angry because it makes it hard for me to even picture, let alone ask for, a relationship where I'm not doing most of the work. Does that set complaints make sense in that context?
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Post by Raindancing on Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:38 pm

The Wisp wrote:Furthermore, so many women, particularly young women, have stories of relationships literally falling into their laps as they go about their day-to-day lives. Now, certainly, if you want to be approached at bars and parties and so on regularly, then that takes some effort. But, c'mon, I've heard so many women say relationships "just happened" and the like, which is code for "I wasn't trying at all".
One woman I know has a story about how she met her boyfriend in the grocery store, how they reached for the same onion, and knocked over the whole pile. She's a really good storyteller, and she tells this story adorably. The thing is, it's not true at all. They met on OKCupid. There's a lot of pressure to conform to the romantic-comedy narrative, especially for young women, so fabricating stories like that isn't unusual. I have another acquaintance who literally stalked a guy in college—like, in an obsessive, scary way—until he finally gave in and dated her for a while. I know she used the phrase "just happened" to describe how their relationship came about.
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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:57 pm

A couple thoughts on Wisp's comments - I think the difference between entitled and not in this context, is how much work you associate with each option (approach or be approached) and how heavily this motivates your desire for one or the other. If a person wants to be the approacher/approach-ee simply because they perceive that role to be less work, yeah that's kind of entitled, to essentially be getting angry over having to do more work for something the you would like. If it's more a matter of personal preference, or trying to play to your current skillset/personality, then yeah, I have a lot more empathy for that, and no I don't think that's entitled. I get the vibe that's essentially what's going on for both Wisp and RBS - RBS has a very assertive/forward personality and thus would rather be approaching, Wisp is more shy and thus would rather be approached. But in both cases society has contrived to make things way more difficult for each of them simply because they're the "wrong" gender for the role they would like to be in. Which sucks and is kind of BS.

Though, as far as women having "relationships fall into their laps" thing - there are some plausible explanations I can think of for that. For one, a lot of the "Be Approachable" work, for women, is required for a lot more then just romance. Women routinely have their competence judged based on how fuckable they are. Women have higher baseline expectations for maintaining their physical appearance. To give a concrete example - I just started a new job in an office environment, which includes "Casual Fridays". I noticed that most women's attire didn't change much at all on that day, whereas some men downgraded to Jeans + TShirt (ironically, its mostly in my department, IT). None of the women did, and given that I'm new, I'm not inclined to break the norm there. Given prior evidence I've heard on the topic, I can't help but think there's a reason for this.

Next - you specifically mentioned that it tends to be very young women who get these "free relationships". Except, I think everyone on the forum here has acknowledged that yes, young women (ie 20-24) have it disproportionately easier then older women as far as relationships. That's because that tends to be synonymous with "conventionally attractive woman" (our society has more or less defined it so). And yeah, if you're considered conventionally attractive by society, you get relationships falling into your lap, regardless of gender. I'm willing to bet conventionally attractive men don't view approaching as particularly difficult just as conventionally attractive women don't think they had to do much work to be approachable. So we're back to the same old standby, conventionally attractive people have it relatively easy, while the rest of us have to muddle through.

And yeah, based on what a couple of other posters have said, its pretty likely that at least a few of the stories you've heard are exaggerations if not straight up lies. Which kind of begs the question as to why women are more likely to lie about this. I mean I get that there's pressure to make it look effortless, but don't men have similar pressures too? To act like seducing women is no big deal? Aren't there equivalent narratives about "effortlessly attractive" men?

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Post by reboot on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:15 pm

I think that part of the anger comes from the perception that men do not have the option of choosing not to approach and the assumption that women have more approaches than they do.

However there are men that are the equivalent of the women who never have to do anything and have relationships fall in their laps. Such men cannot be too, too uncommon since I know about 6 men who never approach and are very rarely unpartnered and probably another two dozen who have been approached more than they approach. And, of course, there are women who are never or only rarely approached. I just think both groups are invisible to many because they do not exist in the dominant narrative.
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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:33 pm

It seems pretty clear though, that being able to consistently step out of one's prescribed gender role and still be romantically successful is a privilege afforded to relatively few people, male or female. I'm willing to guess that being conventionally attractive is a big plus towards having such a privilege, since it makes you both more approachable and less likely to be rejected when you approach.

Also, is it possible that there's a lack of "training" on both sides on how to go about the role of the opposite gender? Women are given tons of training on how to be approachable, men get lots of material on how to make the perfect approach, but there's probably not a lot for those who swap these things around. I seem to recall RBS relating some kind of story about asking "How do I approach men I want to date?" and basically being told she was doing it wrong, and what she really should be doing is be more approachable. And when was the last time you saw something teaching men how to passively flirt? It seems if we want to allow people to step out of their designated gender roles, we (as a society) could be doing a lot better on supplying relevant educational material.

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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:47 pm

LadyLuck wrote:It seems pretty clear though, that being able to consistently step out of one's prescribed gender role and still be romantically successful is a privilege afforded to relatively few people, male or female. I'm willing to guess that being conventionally attractive is a big plus towards having such a privilege, since it makes you both more approachable and less likely to be rejected when you approach.

Also, is it possible that there's a lack of "training" on both sides on how to go about the role of the opposite gender? Women are given tons of training on how to be approachable, men get lots of material on how to make the perfect approach, but there's probably not a lot for those who swap these things around. I seem to recall RBS relating some kind of story about asking "How do I approach men I want to date?" and basically being told she was doing it wrong, and what she really should be doing is be more approachable. And when was the last time you saw something teaching men how to passively flirt? It seems if we want to allow people to step out of their designated gender roles, we (as a society) could be doing a lot better on supplying relevant educational material.

I think that's very much true. I can't assess women's approaches well myself, but when I've seen women describe them online, men have invariably responded that the woman was either being way too subtle or (in rarer cases) that she was being gross and boundary-violating. On the other side of things, I do think that a lot of guys don't really understand the approachee part of things. The fashion bit seems to be easier to get across. The part that seems to be missing is that, well, do guys really do the thing where they call up a couple of dudes they know so they can get dressed up and go to the bar and see who talks to them, or is it only the men comfortable with approaching who do that? Are there guys who try to learn about something women mostly like as a hobby so they can join one of those clubs? That's the sort of advice that tends to be given to women who want to be approached - find a couple of women your age who like to go out, even if they're not your besties, and try to learn something about sports (or some other male-coded pursuit)  so you can be comfortable going to environments with lots of men. The women I know who don't do a lot of socializing tend to be single and are seldom approached, especially if they're not conventionally attractive but even if they are.
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Post by LadyLuck on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:55 pm

I can't assess women's approaches well myself, but when I've seen women describe them online, men have invariably responded that the woman was either being way too subtle or (in rarer cases) that she was being gross and boundary-violating.

Was about to say...there's also the thing about how women are taught to be "nice" with rejections while men aren't, since we just sort of assume guys don't get to do rejections but instead should just not as out women they aren't attracted to. Thus we gets tons of stories of women approaching and being rejected, but in a way that's horrifyingly insulting. Society not only discourages men from being approach-ees, but also just assumes that its never even going to be a possibility, and thus doesn't discuss with men how to handle it when it does happen. Which is obviously is insulting to men/men's sexuality, and ends up being a bit hurtful for women too.

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Post by The Wisp on Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:33 pm

kleenestar wrote:Let me be very clear then that I, at least, was not describing you. There's nothing wrong with preferring women to approach - hell, I do! The question is why some people get extremely shitty about that preference - and that's not you.

eselle28 wrote:So, I guess I'd see this as the flip side of your attitude toward RBS versus your attitude toward the social phenomenon. I don't think anyone is calling you an entitled jerk, a sexist, or a lazy person. I don't think you're personally any of those things. I do think there's a broad tendency in our culture that gives men a lot more leeway to be those things and still find relationships, though, and it makes me angry because it makes it hard for me to even picture, let alone ask for, a relationship where I'm not doing most of the work. Does that set complaints make sense in that context?

Okay, thanks for the clarification Smile

(I was just annoyed that there didn't seem to be any charitable motivations being ascribed to men upset that women didn't approach more)

And eselle, that set of complaints makes perfect sense to me (and actually have a similar fear of a gender reversed situation, but that's probably for vastly different reasons, so I can relate to the feeling). I guess I just don't get what they have to do with approaching/being approached, or being upset that you can't do one or the other due to gender roles.

LadyLuck, I like your explanation of the difference between entitled/not entitled in this context! Smile

LadyLuck wrote:I'm willing to bet conventionally attractive men don't view approaching as particularly difficult just as conventionally attractive women don't think they had to do much work to be approachable. So we're back to the same old standby, conventionally attractive people have it relatively easy, while the rest of us have to muddle through.

This is true. Of course, part of the reason is that being extroverted and not shy is apart of what conventional attractiveness is for men, whereas it seems that those are (except in the extremes) orthogonal to perceived attractiveness of women.

reboot wrote:However there are men that are the equivalent of the women who never have to do anything and have relationships fall in their laps.  Such men cannot be too, too uncommon since I know about 6 men who never approach and are very rarely unpartnered and probably another two dozen who have been approached more than they approach.  And, of course, there are women who are never or only rarely approached. I just think both groups are invisible to many because they do not exist in the dominant narrative.

I'm curious, which contexts are they approached? Do you know?

LadyLuck wrote:It seems pretty clear though, that being able to consistently step out of one's prescribed gender role and still be romantically successful is a privilege afforded to relatively few people, male or female. I'm willing to guess that being conventionally attractive is a big plus towards having such a privilege, since it makes you both more approachable and less likely to be rejected when you approach.

This is true. It kind of sucks, though, because I feel like the guys who most often get approached are the kind who could be the ones approaching fairly easily, given that men who are social, confident, extroverted, and so on tend to be much more attractive.

eselle28 wrote:The part that seems to be missing is that, well, do guys really do the thing where they call up a couple of dudes they know so they can get dressed up and go to the bar and see who talks to them, or is it only the men comfortable with approaching who do that? Are there guys who try to learn about something women mostly like as a hobby so they can join one of those clubs? That's the sort of advice that tends to be given to women who want to be approached - find a couple of women your age who like to go out, even if they're not your besties, and try to learn something about sports (or some other male-coded pursuit)  so you can be comfortable going to environments with lots of men.

But would women actually approach in a bar? I feel like even if the guy did everything right women likely wouldn't. Non-queer bars seem to be very much enthralled in traditional gender roles, though I have no experience so I could be wrong on that.

eselle28 wrote:The women I know who don't do a lot of socializing tend to be single and are seldom approached, especially if they're not conventionally attractive but even if they are.

I totally buy that. I don't think women in a similar boat as I am (don't get out much, shy, small to non-existent social circle, etc.) have it easy. It's not easy, and I don't want to minimize that.
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Post by eselle28 on Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:01 pm

The Wisp wrote:
And eselle, that set of complaints makes perfect sense to me (and actually have a similar fear of a gender reversed situation, but that's probably for vastly different reasons, so I can relate to the feeling). I guess I just don't get what they have to do with approaching/being approached, or being upset that you can't do one or the other due to gender roles.

Approaching is one kind of relationship work, one that's associated with men in our culture. If a woman is concerned about ending up with a man who's rejected traditionally male work but who isn't willing to do traditionally female work either, and who ends up contributing relatively little to the relationship, I'd say it's a reasonable if not the only response to seek out a partner who demonstrates that he's at least able to pick up the traditionally male end of things by approaching.

The alternative is to seek out men who demonstrate that while they have rejected more male-oriented roles, they've picked up some skills associated with women, but I honestly don't see a lot of men who have taken that route and actively cultivated skills like empathy and learned how to do domestic work, let alone approachee-oriented skills. I can see how someone who'd like a relationship and who doesn't want to do all the work might decide that the first alternative is more feasible.

I'm curious, which contexts are they approached? Do you know?

I can't speak for reboot's friends, but I have a friend who's had lots of relationships and who as a matter of principle doesn't approach women, and a few more who have always been in long term relationships and occasionally had casual sex despite (as far as I can tell) never being the aggressors. The first guy is very far toward the conventionally attractive end of the scale and meets women in a variety of ways. While he's not especially extroverted, he has a couple of groups of friends that like to go out drinking fairly often. Women he doesn't know at bars sometimes hit on him, and since he has a good reputation as a casual sex partner, he occasionally sleeps with female friends when they're in the mood. He also has an online dating profile that he uses very passively. He doesn't always get a ton of messages from women who interest him, but he's not very worried about finding partners, so he's seemingly content to wait until women write him.

The other few guys I'm thinking of aren't quite so far toward that end of the scale. They're decent but not amazing looking and are generally considered to be good guys and good relationship prospects by women who know them. When their relationships have ended, they've generally already had some women who knew them slightly who had already been somewhat interested in them and who made a move when the rebound phase was over. One of them also benefits from having a fairly outgoing sister who knows a lot of people and who's willing to include her brother in things that let him meet women she knows, and they all have some male friends who have BBQs and lake parties and other more low key social gatherings.

But would women actually approach in a bar? I feel like even if the guy did everything right women likely wouldn't. Non-queer bars seem to be very much enthralled in traditional gender roles, though I have no experience so I could be wrong on that.

Well, I do sometimes, and I've certainly seen my female friends approach and my male friends be approached. I mean, it's completely correct that a guy can do everything right and not be approached. The same is true of a woman. There have been many nights I haven't been up for approaching, have looked as good as I can, and have done all the approachee stuff, and no one happens to have been interested. That's kind of the nature of the approachee role - you don't have to deal with the risk or initiative parts of the interaction, but that also means that you have to let go of control over who you talk to or whether you talk to anyone at all. I do think it's worth noting the problems of men not knowing how to take the approachee role because it does go to a general dysfunction in the dating scene. Just as men who make themselves approachable don't always find that there are women willing to take the role of approaching, women who are willing to approach don't always find that there are any men around to pick up the other side of the burden and make themselves approachable.
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Post by Raindancing on Sun Feb 15, 2015 8:21 pm

The Wisp wrote:
But would women actually approach in a bar? I feel like even if the guy did everything right women likely wouldn't. Non-queer bars seem to be very much enthralled in traditional gender roles, though I have no experience so I could be wrong on that.

I used to.  There are lots of different kinds of bars, with different kinds of atmosphere, but picking the right sort of place is very definitely part of "doing everything right". And you can do everything right, and still not be approached, but that goes for both men and women.
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Post by reboundstudent on Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:45 pm

reboot wrote:I think that part of the anger comes from the perception that men do not have the option of choosing not to approach and the assumption that women have more approaches than they do.

However there are men that are the equivalent of the women who never have to do anything and have relationships fall in their laps.  Such men cannot be too, too uncommon since I know about 6 men who never approach and are very rarely unpartnered and probably another two dozen who have been approached more than they approach.  And, of course, there are women who are never or only rarely approached. I just think both groups are invisible to many because they do not exist in the dominant narrative.

That's partially my thought as well. I know plenty of guys who never approached, or who didn't work "hard" to find a relationship, but kind of fell into one. I also know women who worked very hard but made it seem incredibly effortless. Heck, when I ask for advice from female coworkers, that's actually a big central point: I, as myself, make dating look hard. I don't hide the fact that looking "cute" and being open and flirty and emotional supportive is work. I give off the impression that I am emotionally "high maintenance" by virtue of the fact that I talk about gender expectations, and don't always "perform" as I should.

Also, is it possible that there's a lack of "training" on both sides on how to go about the role of the opposite gender? Women are given tons of training on how to be approachable, men get lots of material on how to make the perfect approach, but there's probably not a lot for those who swap these things around. I seem to recall RBS relating some kind of story about asking "How do I approach men I want to date?" and basically being told she was doing it wrong, and what she really should be doing is be more approachable. And when was the last time you saw something teaching men how to passively flirt? It seems if we want to allow people to step out of their designated gender roles, we (as a society) could be doing a lot better on supplying relevant educational material.

I think that'd be great! In a truly egalitarian dating scene, I imagine people being able to adapt to the "gender role" of their choice. So guys who feel they are better emotional supports/eye candy/shy flirts can take on the "approachee" role by learning how to subtly flirt and show approachable body language. Women who feel they do better being assertive and want to choose their partner can more easily approach guys in public.

I admit, at this point in my life, it's a lot less about me not knowing how to approach guys, and me deciding it's not worth my time to. Echoing what Eselle said, the "approach" is really a way for me to try to screen out guys who are (either out of desperation, boredom, or their own personality) not willing to put in equal work with me. I'm sick of being expected to perform both the female and male gender roles (be hot, and also approach.) Cynically, I also don't think that learning how to approach as a woman would be very beneficial for me; I'm just not physically attractive enough. I think I could make a ton of good male friends, but I just do not foresee being able to override a guy's initial un-attraction to me through sheer force of personality.
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Post by Conreezy on Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:47 pm

I don't take RBS's approach to dating, but I also don't think it's entirely unreasonable for someone who ended up in a relationship with a person who was being selfish and cowardly to want to take steps to try to screen out that sort of partner in the future. After all, bad relationships come at a cost of someone's time and emotional energy, and not everyone is going to be ready to head out looking for a replacement partner.

Oh, totes.  I get that.  I just don't understand why she was attributing that guy's shitty behavior to the fact that she approached him, as if the revelation that he's an ass came about because of her.  I think she's being a bit harsh on herself, and not blaming the guy for being disrespectful, which he would mostly likely be even if he had approached her.

Like I said, I haven't taken RBS's approach, but I've kind of found both that these guys exist and that there seem to be a lot of voices supporting them in especially geek but also wider culture. I've talked about this before, but I get the message many times that I'm not allowed to want anything of actual value from a partner. When women want traditional male role performances like a good job and the ability to take initiative, they're reinforcing sexist stereotypes and are part of the problem. If they want physically attractive partners who are able to be charming when approached, they're shallow. If they want monogamy or a relationship leading to marriage, they're old fashioned. On the other side of things, requests for partners who do an equal amount of housework tend to lead to, "But men have lower standards about that sort of thing, so women need to lighten up," and requests for partners who do an equal amount of emotional work to, "Well, men don't tend to receive a lot of emotional support from their male friends, so they probably are going to lean more on their female partners for that, and they probably won't have as much practice at providing it as well." It's apparently acceptable to want a fellow geek or to care about someone's taste in media, but that's only of value to someone who cares much about those traits.

All that is too true and shitty.

Personally, I find those stereotypes more fear-inducing than the ones concerning male sexuality.

[quoteThe part that seems to be missing is that, well, do guys really do the thing where they call up a couple of dudes they know so they can get dressed up and go to the bar and see who talks to them, or is it only the men comfortable with approaching who do that?[/quote]

Just one guy here, but I've never known any straight guys who have done that.  They either go out to hang by themselves or they go out knowing that they will be initiating contact with other people.  

But would women actually approach in a bar?

When it's happened to me, it's been in bars.  Or anywhere with alcohol.  

Aren't there equivalent narratives about "effortlessly attractive" men?

I think so.  Too obvious an effort comes across as effeminate (read:gay) or douchey.  

The alternative is to seek out men who demonstrate that while they have rejected more male-oriented roles, they've picked up some skills associated with women, but I honestly don't see a lot of men who have taken that route and actively cultivated skills like empathy and learned how to do domestic work, let alone approachee-oriented skills.

LOL.  I cook, clean, launder, plan her outfits and get told I'm not romantic enough.  I thought that if I cook and clean, she's supposed to buy me a nice dress every now and then. Razz

Being on the flip-side of expectations can be mind-blowing for everyone.

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Post by reboundstudent on Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:55 pm

kleenestar wrote:That said, ouch. I'm eighteen years into a deliriously happy relationship where I approached him first. It really hurts to hear that people here think that my relationship is a mistake.

reboundstudent wrote:Now there are tons of caveats with this for me: maybe the woman has hit on a guy who does perform the traditional-feminine gender role. Awesome!! Best case scenario, ignore my advice. Maybe she's only looking for something short term and doesn't mind a little extra work or isn't expected to do as much of the social/emotional heavy lifting. Again, fantastic. Maybe for a particular woman the reward of selecting her own partner is worth the risk of the Easy Ride Relationship because she's got a fantastic man-picker. When I say "don't ask him out", it's meant as a broad, generalized piece of advice, not an iron-clad rule.

Seconding what LadyLuck said. I don't think it's a mistake for everyone, and like I said, there are lots of caveats. From what I can gleam of your relationship, your partner seems very good at fulfilling the traditional-feminine gender role (emotional supportive, kind, caring, etc) AND you have a great nose for sorting out who would be compatible in the type of relationship you are looking for. That's fantastic, and not at all a mistake. I just think those sorts of circumstances and talents are rare, and so a happy long-term relationship begot by a woman approaching is a lot tougher to achieve.

And, correct me if I'm wrong, but you were/are more conventionally attractive, which I think helps erase one of my big "approach" struggles, which is desperation. By being more conventionally attractive, it's a pretty safe gamble when a woman approaches that the guy isn't approaching her out of shyness or intimidation. When you're unconventional, that gamble becomes much bigger, because there's now a much larger chance that he wasn't approaching you because he just flat out isn't attracted to you.

To make me feel better (and stop me whining), my friends used to insist that guys don't approach me because they're "shy" and "scared" and "intimidated." However, I'd see these exact same shy/nervous guys approach women that were far more attractive than me. So if I'd listened to my friends, and been the one approaching, I would have either ended up getting rejected or getting "used" because it turns out the guys were genuinely not into me.
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