Ethics of approaching women

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Post by reboot on Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:58 am

It is easy to forget that anyone can read this Smile

While I was reading his piece I thought of my friend that is constantly hit on. I recently asked her about her romantic/sexual inclinations (because somehow after 20+ years the topic had never come up) and she confirmed what I suspected: she is asexual/aromantic.

So here we have a woman who, as far as I can tell, has not been able to go anywhere or do anything since at least age 22 (I cannot speak to the times before I met her but every time we are in public she is hit on at least 3-5 times minimum.... even now when she is over 40) without being approached by men who want a girlfriend/sex despite sending off some pretty strong "fuck off" nonverbal signals (e.g. never makes eye contact, never smiles at men, sits facing walls when in bars/restaurants, sunglasses/headphones) who wants to never be the sex partner or girlfriend of anyone.

As a society, we prioritize men's desire to approach her over her desire to be left alone when both desires should be of equal weight. That is pretty messed up.
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Post by Enail on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:41 pm

Wow, I'm not sure if the fact that the author is reading our comments about his article is flattering or paranoia-inducing! Laughing

nearly_takuan wrote:
Basically I've been reading a whole lot of "why is this a topic that keeps coming up here, on these dating advice sites, where people who don't need dating advice and don't want to give dating advice don't post?

Hmm, to me, the part that's troublesome is not that the topic of men cold approaching to find dates comes up here, on a dating advice-oriented site, so much as that it comes up so often in response to comments that are not actually about dating per se, but about things that women would like to not experience, like street harassment. Or in response to articles like this one, that are encouraging the reader in one way or another to think about the part of cold approaches that is not about dating: for an approacher, approaching is a segment of their lives focused on dating; for an approachee, chances are pretty high it's a segment of their lives focused on something else. Which makes it rather weird to think of cold approaching as a subject that's 100% about dating.

We talk about a great many things that are not dating here; people give and receive advice, encouragement and sympathy on a great many topics. I find it...discouraging that even on a thread specifically about looking at cold approaching from a women's perspective, the discussion turns immediately to how this affects men's dating lives, and it does seem like there's a gendered component to this. I think it's natural that we talk more than average about the dating side of things here, but does that mean it's impossible for us to discuss the half of a cold approach that is probably not about dating, without immediately jumping to the half that is?  Perhaps it does. But I find it unfortunate.
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Post by PintsizeBro on Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:58 pm

Reading all of the discussion about cold approaching (not just this thread, but in general) makes me wonder how much of the "But how will I find a girlfriend, then?" is just reactance - that is, the protesting guys wouldn't normally cold approach women anyway, but they're defending the practice precisely because they've been told that in certain contexts, they shouldn't do it.

I'm trying to improve my advice-giving skills because I've been romantically successful despite looking pretty undesirable on paper. But whenever I see guys defending why they should be "allowed" to cold approach or criticizing feminists for telling them that there are things they should consider before cold approaching... all I can think is, why would you even want to?

This may be a failure of empathy on my part. But I really, truly don't understand why so many guys want so badly to cold approach strangers. It's an acceptable method to having casual sex if you have the charisma to pull it off, but it's just... not a good method if you're looking for a relationship, or if you don't already have charisma in spades.

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Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Apr 02, 2015 1:11 pm

PintsizeBro wrote:Reading all of the discussion about cold approaching (not just this thread, but in general) makes me wonder how much of the "But how will I find a girlfriend, then?" is just reactance - that is, the protesting guys wouldn't normally cold approach women anyway, but they're defending the practice precisely because they've been told that in certain contexts, they shouldn't do it.

I'm trying to improve my advice-giving skills because I've been romantically successful despite looking pretty undesirable on paper. But whenever I see guys defending why they should be "allowed" to cold approach or criticizing feminists for telling them that there are things they should consider before cold approaching... all I can think is, why would you even want to?

This may be a failure of empathy on my part. But I really, truly don't understand why so many guys want so badly to cold approach strangers. It's an acceptable method to having casual sex if you have the charisma to pull it off, but it's just... not a good method if you're looking for a relationship, or if you don't already have charisma in spades.

That is exactly what I have been trying to say: I don't want to, and I'm almost certain that's also true of many other assumed proponents of the idea.
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Post by The Wisp on Thu Apr 02, 2015 3:08 pm

Enail wrote:Wow, I'm not sure if the fact that the author is reading our comments about his article is flattering or paranoia-inducing! Laughing

Totally paranoia inducing! Razz

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Post by eselle28 on Thu Apr 02, 2015 4:35 pm

Oh, the internet is an odd place sometimes. (In fairness to Dr. Bloomberg, he may have also found it a little surprising to find a long, rather rambling discussion inspired by his blog post on another site.)
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:37 pm

Mean Internet People can find this site(or at least DNL Prime) at anytime, screencap everything and do a pile-on on the more volatile targets. The chance is slim, but it helps to mentally strategize what you're going to do if such a thing happens.

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Post by Werel on Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:55 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:The chance is slim, but it helps to mentally strategize what you're going to do if such a thing happens.

Wait, you mean everyone doesn't just assume there are probably Mean Internet People doing a Helldump treatment of every single thing they ever post? scratch
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Post by eselle28 on Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:58 pm

BasedBuzzed wrote:Mean Internet People can find this site(or at least DNL Prime) at anytime, screencap everything and do a pile-on on the more volatile targets. The chance is slim, but it helps to mentally strategize what you're going to do if such a thing happens.

As a mod, I would ban that person. As for forum members, I strongly suggest that anyone who sees something like that going on should press the Report button. There are a lot of more fractious places on the internet that tolerate a bit of trolling, but I think we'd shut it down pretty quickly here.
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Post by nearly_takuan on Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:26 pm

Enail wrote:Hmm, to me, the part that's troublesome is not that the topic of men cold approaching to find dates comes up here, on a dating advice-oriented site, so much as that it comes up so often in response to comments that are not actually about dating per se, but about things that women would like to not experience, like street harassment. Or in response to articles like this one, that are encouraging the reader in one way or another to think about the part of cold approaches that is not about dating: for an approacher, approaching is a segment of their lives focused on dating; for an approachee, chances are pretty high it's a segment of their lives focused on something else. Which makes it rather weird to think of cold approaching as a subject that's 100% about dating.

We talk about a great many things that are not dating here; people give and receive advice, encouragement and sympathy on a great many topics. I find it...discouraging that even on a thread specifically about looking at cold approaching from a women's perspective, the discussion turns immediately to how this affects men's dating lives, and it does seem like there's a gendered component to this. I think it's natural that we talk more than average about the dating side of things here, but does that mean it's impossible for us to discuss the half of a cold approach that is probably not about dating, without immediately jumping to the half that is?  Perhaps it does. But I find it unfortunate.

With sincere respect (like, you're probably the third-greatest Canadian I've ever known of, and my math professor might not actually count since she moved here), the things that are not about dating are also not why I am here. Obviously I have participated in other threads about other things, but they are not why I am here. There are more focused places to discuss Pokemon and generic human psychology and civil rights; if those were at the forefront of my mind, I would not have clicked the links that led here. The URL of this site and its predecessors exists in my browser history solely because of the particular problem(s) I found myself stuck on, one year(ish) ago.

These sorts of sites are always going to attract an undesirable element (the pun was irresistible; sorry-not-sorry). I can't imagine you're actually surprised, so I assume you're mostly expressing disappointment.

I don't think I can directly help with that, but I'll offer some commiserations; I know the feeling.
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Post by Enail on Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:39 pm

Fair enough, NT. It wasn't intended as a rebuke, just a general frustration I have sometimes here.
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Post by kath on Fri Apr 03, 2015 1:31 am

nearly_takuan wrote:
Enail wrote:Cold approaches are not a major part of most peoples' dating life!

Being unable to get a date is also not a major part of most people's dating life, with appropriate adjustments for the magnitudes of "unable" and "major part". These conversations tend to make a big deal about cold approaching mainly because that's already all that's left*. I'd wager most of us dislike doing the cold approaching almost as much as our victims dislike being approached. But the alternatives are by definition only possible with a very narrow set of people, and that set only shrinks over time unless you're constantly cycling through your friend-groups (dunno about anyone else but I would see that as the reddest flag).
But the problem isn't about cold approaching being a thing people want to do. It's that the default mode of thinking about women in public is whether or not you would want to approach them.  I think you're reacting to something that feels close to home, but if you aren't doing that, isn't actually about you. But when one says "well, I'm not actually doing that, so I'm going to tell people to ignore it," that undermines the original thought too. Because not only people who are not actually doing that are going to be like "GREAT, IGNORED". And it's NOT actually advice you can ignore. The solution isn't ignoring that advice - it's remembering that you already do it. Doing something very conscientiously is not ignoring it, even if the last time you got told  to do it, you were a conscientious do-er of it*.

*It = considering women as other people with lives etc first, and people you may ask out on a date second.

I think there are a bunch of other misconceptions about cold and warm approaching in here (I don't agree that you have to "cycle through friend goups" to increase the number of people you might warm approach; I don't think cold approaches are ever "the only strategy left" because time continues so you also have other opportunities in the future, and you don't know beforehand what one is going to "work"), but I'm figuring it won't be on-topic to talk about them in detail. I would be happy to take that to another thread if people are interested.

Actually it kind of blew my mind when Bloomberg said that men don't chat with other men they don't know in public. Is that the experience of other people here? What are the boundaries for that?


nearly_takuan wrote:
To more generally address some of the rhetorical questions floating around: if it's true that society privileges men's desire for romance over women's feelings, privacy, and safety—I'm not saying that it isn't, but if it is—then there is something severely wrong with me/us—and I'm not saying that there isn't. I can't really fault the Dudes for taking issue with that implication, though, nor have any difficulty seeing why they do; it's a pretty normal/human thing to want to strongly disagree with ideas you don't like.

I might be able to understand why that is the response, but if the first of those things is true (society privileges men's desire for romance over women's feelings, privacy, and safety) I can, in fact, fault them for disagreeing, because their disagreement is with fact (again, making the assumptions as stated earlier, not trying to argue them in particular). I can also fault them for  lacking empathy, and for making my life about their problems. I can understand this, empathize with these bad feelings, and still find them to be at fault.

nearly_takuan wrote:And so there is no subtext to instinctively reject on the basis of "okay but surely I don't suck that much?".

If what you're getting is "but surely I don't suck that much" -- that's an instinctive, knee-jerk reaction. When you have those, the thing to do is stop and think, and sit with that feeling, and ask yourself if you are really being told that you suck that much. Often, no, in fact, you are not. Sometimes, maybe you are, and you can address that. But in this case, I am pretty sure, no, you aren't. Especially because this still makes it about whether men can cold approach, which was never the issue. The solution to this isn't "never cold approach" it's "think about women as people first and potential dates sometime after than - but maybe not even second". It's the world is not your oyster for dating. The world is the world and it (and the other people in it) go on doing their thing regardless of your success or troubles with dating. Understanding that is just being realistic. Ignoring or refusing to believe it is solipsistic.

I don't actually think you DO believe this, but I do think you're sort of having this very intense reaction to something that isn't actually attacking you. In fact, the only way in which it can be said to be attacking you is that it's not about you!

nearly_takuan wrote:
And again, I say: this is instinct. Most people would feel that way, I think; it's just that most people don't find themselves in the exact same position. Most people do at some point in their lives find themselves in the position of receiving harsh criticism, and the knee-jerk reaction (for them and for anyone else who may give a tiny shit about them) is to raise objections, even if those objections don't make any sense.
That doesn't mean it make sense for the people getting the knee-jerk reaction that makes no sense should pet the knee-jerkers. Knee-jerk reactions might be understandable, but to the extent that they are unreasonable, the can still be called out for that. Why should i be like "oh yes, it's OK, I want to make you feel better" instead of just being like "again I say, this is NOT abut your dating problems!". Which is exactly what people do!

nearly_takuan wrote:These are not rational discussions about rational things. I don't think this thread has ever really been about ethics. From the start it has been about the almost totally unrelated premises of an argument about ethical behavior, and the implications of such. Premises which directly imply that I (and many others here) am in some cosmic sense a worse less valuable person than the overwhelming majority of the people around me. I'm not arguing against that point or trying to show that the argument is wrong by contrapositive; but I'm pretty sure most people would at least start out wanting to. Is there a way to get people past that more efficiently? Hell if I know; this is a field where I find it consistently impossible for me to solve the most trivial problems.

I completely disagree that that these discussions imply that you (and others here) are "less valuable" than others (women? feminists?). Please explain in detail why you consider that to be the case, and I would be happy to go into detail about why I disagree - but unfortunately I can't break down this claim if you haven't supported it, and right now you've just stuck it on there.

(Also, you seem like you may be having a knee-jerk reaction to people being like "ugh, having to listen to this knee-jerk reaction whenever this topic comes up when it's really not a reaction to something this discussion is actually saying, and it distracts from that point of the primary discussion and takes these discussions off into How To Cold Approach and being about how to make dating easier for guys" ... which I gotta say, was making me pretty crazy, but now I'm sort of enjoying the meta!)
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Post by Guest on Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:40 am

kath wrote:Actually it kind of blew my mind when Bloomberg said that men don't chat with other men they don't know in public. Is that the experience of other people here? What are the boundaries for that?

This sounds kind of... dodgy? I'm very confused where Bloomfield got this idea. Even as riddled with social anxieties and hang ups as I am, I still manage to talk to men in public that I don't know. Is it common? No, but I'm not a social person. I would wager a far more social man than I would not baulk at the idea. I know my Dad had often gotten into conversations with other men he doesn't know in public.

Maybe it's an American thing? Aussies, in general, are pretty good at quick, casual chatter in public when neither people know each other and that includes male to male talk. Hell, if you go to a pub in Scotland, expect for a guy to come up and start a conversation.

I've had lots of good conversations and made some good friends from people I met at a bar myself. And these were instances where we just kind of started talking to each other.

Now, boundaries are fuzzy, admittedly. I just kind of took these interactions as, well, those little things that happen and never really thought about the circumstances upon which they started and both people seemed to be comfortable with it.

EDIT: Well, bugger, I did get his name wrong. Fix'd


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Post by reboot on Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:47 am

I think it is less common in the US, but Bloomfield lives in (or at least teaches) in the UK, so maybe it is not common in Nottingham?

EDIT: And please note I called him by the wrong name in my post this morning. It is Dr. Bloomfield. I blame autocorrect and not having enough coffee before posting
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Post by Guest on Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:58 am

Could be an English thing in that case, but that's honestly kind of surprising he's in the UK and he says it just doesn't happen. I laways heard the opposite was true from friends and expats.

I'll take it as just different experiences then. I may be the oddball here.

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Post by reboot on Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:04 am

MapWater wrote:Could be an English thing in that case, but that's honestly kind of surprising he's in the UK and he says it just doesn't happen. I laways heard the opposite was true from friends and expats.

I'll take it as just different experiences then. I may be the oddball here.

There is definitely a cultural component, though. I have been to many countries where men talk to other men casually (and some where they never talk to women). A Turk, Kurd, Serb, Iraqi, Lebanese, Angolan, Bosnian, Somali, Afghan, Pakistani, Spaniard from Andalusia etc. would be equally mystified by men not casually chatting with other men.
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Post by eselle28 on Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:04 am

I thought his observation sounded right for the interactions I've seen. I'm American and have lived in large cities on the East Coast where strangers very rarely talk to each other period, but even in the supposedly friendly Midwest where I live now, I'm far more likely to see women chatting with each other or men starting conversations with women than I am to see men talking with other men they don't know. Men don't even seem to like to sit next to each other on the bus or at a bar (I've even been asked to move over so guys could have two seats together next to me, even though there were pairs of seats open further down that were between men).
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Post by reboot on Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:23 am

eselle28 wrote:I thought his observation sounded right for the interactions I've seen. I'm American and have lived in large cities on the East Coast where strangers very rarely talk to each other period, but even in the supposedly friendly Midwest where I live now, I'm far more likely to see women chatting with each other or men starting conversations with women than I am to see men talking with other men they don't know. Men don't even seem to like to sit next to each other on the bus or at a bar (I've even been asked to move over so guys could have two seats together next to me, even though there were pairs of seats open further down that were between men).

It is very much the same way here, maybe due to all the Midwest transplants? Men will opt to stand on the bus or light rail rather than sit next to another man, unless the man is older (70+) or younger (<14). They will not sit next to another man at a bar, movie, etc if there are any other options. I have even noticed that they will not ask other men for assistance, directions, etc. For example, if my roommate and I are together, men and women will ask me questions but only women will ask Rooms questions.
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Post by Guest on Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:43 am

kath wrote:
Actually it kind of blew my mind when Bloomberg said that men don't chat with other men they don't know in public. Is that the experience of other people here? What are the boundaries for that?

Hell to the no. That's definitely NOT been my experience. I once spoke to this dude on the trolley once on my way to Downtown San Diego. He was telling me about his female drug-addicted roommate, interesting tale.

I'll do you one better and a more extreme example: men's locker/shower room,
Spoiler:
while naked. Cuz, oh yeah, I've chit-chatted with strange dudes and later made friends with some of those dudes in the locker room as we showered. "That 500-yd swim killed me!"/"I heard that, man." But then again I think it takes a certain level of maturity and confidence in your own body to do that. Razz

But I like to think we do. I saw dudes at my jury duty session chat for awhile in the jury lounge and become buddies. -shrug- I think so long as you aren't being a complete nut yelling at everyone

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Post by nearly_takuan on Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:54 am

Going out of order because it seems like the later things were where stuff got a little muddled....

kath wrote:you seem like you may be having a knee-jerk reaction to people being like "ugh, having to listen to this knee-jerk reaction whenever this topic comes up when it's really not a reaction to something this discussion is actually saying, and it distracts from that point of the primary discussion and takes these discussions off into How To Cold Approach and being about how to make dating easier for guys" ... which I gotta say, was making me pretty crazy, but now I'm sort of enjoying the meta!)

I regret the distress you were in, but that's also kinda partly on you for assuming things about me. Razz

As already noted, repeatedly, it didn't take long for a thread with "ethics" in the title to get derailed into not being about ethics at all. To the extent that I was and continue to be representative of the sort of person whose impulse was to commit said derailing, I thought perhaps I could try (again?) to show where it comes from.

kath wrote:I might be able to understand why that is the response, but if the first of those things is true (society privileges men's desire for romance over women's feelings, privacy, and safety) I can, in fact, fault them for disagreeing, because their disagreement is with fact (again, making the assumptions as stated earlier, not trying to argue them in particular). I can also fault them for  lacking empathy, and for making my life about their problems. I can understand this, empathize with these bad feelings, and still find them to be at fault.

It just seems like if people understood this we'd be seeing these arguments start off with something a bit more efficient than "why oh why do these topics always get derailed?" And I mean, what is the deal with airplane food?

kath wrote:That doesn't mean it make sense for the people getting the knee-jerk reaction that makes no sense should pet the knee-jerkers. Knee-jerk reactions might be understandable, but to the extent that they are unreasonable, the can still be called out for that. Why should i be like "oh yes, it's OK, I want to make you feel better" instead of just being like "again I say, this is NOT abut your dating problems!". Which is exactly what people do!

Well, yeah, don't bother trying to comfort people or whatever. Obviously there's no obligation, but on top of that it's pointless even if it were possible for you to mean it. But if you find yourself saying "again I say, __" a lot, I have to wonder...are you expecting different outcomes?

Shrug Maybe if there are conversations you don't want people to have here, the solution is just to do stricter moderation.




kath wrote:Actually it kind of blew my mind when Bloomberg said that men don't chat with other men they don't know in public. Is that the experience of other people here? What are the boundaries for that?

I've had more and longer conversations with men I didn't know than with women I didn't know while out in public, the few notable exceptions being women with very wrinkly skin, but that's only my own personal experience and probably not representative. I don't pay close attention to the types of interactions other people have with each other and sometimes (varies) put mental blocks around the male-female interactions that happen in front of me in public anyway.




kath wrote:If what you're getting is "but surely I don't suck that much" -- that's an instinctive, knee-jerk reaction. When you have those, the thing to do is stop and think, and sit with that feeling, and ask yourself if you are really being told that you suck that much. Often, no, in fact, you are not. Sometimes, maybe you are, and you can address that. But in this case, I am pretty sure, no, you aren't. Especially because this still makes it about whether men can cold approach, which was never the issue. The solution to this isn't "never cold approach" it's "think about women as people first and potential dates sometime after than - but maybe not even second". It's the world is not your oyster for dating. The world is the world and it (and the other people in it) go on doing their thing regardless of your success or troubles with dating. Understanding that is just being realistic. Ignoring or refusing to believe it is solipsistic.

I completely disagree that that these discussions imply that you (and others here) are "less valuable" than others (women? feminists?). Please explain in detail why you consider that to be the case, and I would be happy to go into detail about why I disagree - but unfortunately I can't break down this claim if you haven't supported it, and right now you've just stuck it on there.

Bit of a tangent, but okay, I'm game.

We begin with the necessary premise: men are a privileged class who have it easy in our society.

Maybe just for fun we can add other things, too, like the idea that women are forced to learn empathy and be solicitous of others' feelings and so of course they just understand people better.

Then we live for twenty-some years observing that while there are many people we value a great deal, there are no (or very, very few) people who value us that much. (For the record, I have felt valued and I don't mean to erase that. Unfortunately I also kinda have to say Platonic friendship is...apparently not always lesser, but still sort of different.)

The social consensus is that we as individuals are less worthy than other individuals. The social consensus is also biased to view the groups we belong to as more worthy. Is anything more impotent than a person who can't win even when they cheat?

So, that's that. If I were valuable as a person, I would be valued. Especially given that we have all these unearned advantages in place. Especially given that so many other people are so obviously valuable. If my value is so hard to see, I must not be very shiny. I can only conclude that it is hard to see, because I'm not valued, not like that. There's no one. Contrapositive. QED.

I understand that one component is an observation which is impossible to verify and, therefore, to contest. That's rather unfair, but I can't do much about that. Shrug
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Post by Autumnflame on Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:57 am

Premises that must be assumed to make those premises/observations true (putting aside the ick factor of "valuation" of people):

A) A person who is valuable must necessarily be valued.
B) A person who is valued is necessarily valuable.
C) All valuations are true and correct.
D) If someone is valued by the people in their lives, they must necessarily know it/it must have been demonstrated in such a way that said someone knows and must believe it.
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Ethics of approaching women - Page 3 Empty Re: Ethics of approaching women

Post by V on Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:45 am

I can second Map Water.  As a man, I can definitely say that men start conversations with other men.  This is in Australia and Japan.  

As for the not sit next to another man thing, that's a new one.

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Ethics of approaching women - Page 3 Empty Re: Ethics of approaching women

Post by eselle28 on Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:59 am

<mod>This thread has already wandered a lot, but I think it now needs to return to discussion of the linked article. I'm going to ask that people drop the discussion of why they're unhappy with the paths the conversation went down and whether that unhappiness is justified entirely. Discussions of specific dating problems or feelings about dating problems should be posted in new threads. Please don't post anymore comments or ask others questions related to these subjects on this thread. The discussion about men talking to men in public directly relates to the article, so that can continue if people want to explore it. Further digressions in the thread will lead to it being closed.</mod>
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Ethics of approaching women - Page 3 Empty Re: Ethics of approaching women

Post by readertorider on Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:29 pm

I've definitely seen men talking to/meeting other men in public (in the US), but then it's usually at leisure type activities--sports stadiums, bars, networking events (or if there's a cool car/bike/gun/bow/gadget in evidence)--where a common interest can be almost assumed. In The Mikey's locker room and jury duty examples too there's a basis for connection.

I think that's different from the cold approaches that normally come up in these types of discussions, however, because there is an assumed common ground/connection to build upon. When guys approach women at supermarkets or on public transport I feel like they're rounding up the possible conversation to talk to her because <she's cute, she won't make a scene, they're board, she's plain enough to be in their league, pick something>. Granted some people just like to talk (riding a bus around town has taught me a lot about the animals people keep as pets and where they take them), but I generally think the approach barrier for talking to men is generally different and usually higher than the one for talking to women.


Last edited by readertorider on Fri Apr 03, 2015 3:34 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Sorry Mikey. Also other typos.)
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Post by Enail on Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:43 pm

I actually have thought that a good rule of thumb for approaching in a way that keeps in mind that women are people would be "would you try and chat with a guy in this situation?"  (plus relevant safety concerns). If used honestly, this would allow for differences in personality and local social norms, and adjust to context.
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