Women and Approach Anxiety

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Women and Approach Anxiety Empty Women and Approach Anxiety

Post by V on Sun May 10, 2015 2:15 pm

We often hear about how approach anxiety can be a big hurdle for men.  I know I wasted many years overcome by this problem.

I am curious about how women experience their own "approach anxiety".  I'm using quotation marks because I'm not thinking particularly about the traditional male role of getting up and approaching a women overtly (although I certainly don't wish to discourage any discussion about women doing this). Rather I am interested in the traditional female role - smiling, eye contact, batting of eyelids (or is it eyelashes?).  That sort of thing.  So it could be called "flirting anxiety" or "approach seeking anxiety" or indeed just plain old approach anxiety.

To me it seems to require quite a degree of vulnerability and the effort is often underrated in certain quarters.

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Post by Caffeinated on Sun May 10, 2015 3:38 pm

One way this can manifest is in something we see a lot of in media: the stereotype of the woman staring into her closet in despair, saying she has nothing to wear despite the closet being crammed with clothes; or trying on a dozen different outfits before going anywhere; or taking two hours to get ready to go out when a guy would only take a few minutes; or the need to go shopping all the time. The question of how to present yourself can be very anxiety-inducing. Women know that there is no such thing as neutral look for a woman, anything we wear will send a message, and if we're hoping to be approached, we're supposed to send just the right kind of message to attract the right person.
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Post by reboot on Sun May 10, 2015 4:01 pm

For women that approach but are not interested in sex immediately, there is a big fear that the man is going to assume that because she was bold enough to approach him, sex is on the table from word one. This is an unfortunately common attitude in some places and social circles.

Getting a "no", especially for ONS or casual sex,  is also very scary for women because of the common stereotype that no man will say no to a woman unless she is exceptionally repulsive (and sometimes not even then). This is a myth, of course, but women who get rejected for sex are very, very gun shy about approaching again because the rejections are thought to mean that she is hideously ugly.
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Post by reboundstudent on Sun May 10, 2015 5:00 pm

reboot wrote:
Getting a "no", especially for ONS or casual sex,  is also very scary for women because of the common stereotype that no man will say no to a woman unless she is exceptionally repulsive (and sometimes not even then). This is a myth, of course, but women who get rejected for sex are very, very gun shy about approaching again because the rejections are thought to mean that she is hideously ugly.

That's the message I've gotten from male friends and guys on Internet forums. The idea is that you, as a woman, should be able to go out and get sex/numbers/dates with barely a snap of your fingers. If you can't, then you are either aiming "above your league" or you are horrendously ugly.

For years, when single, I did the approaching; I'd go talk to guys first, or manufacture "Oh look we just happen to be talking!" occurrences. Any guy I went on a date with from online were guys I'd messaged first. I had a perhaps 2% success rate, and even then, most of them were only vaguely interested, in a "Hey you boosted my ego" kind of way.

But just walking up to a guy and getting sex that same night? Never happened, even when that was my goal. When I tried asking for advice from guys online, the response was always "Wow you must be horrendously ugly."

And yeah, I am to like 99% of guys out there. So why bother ever approaching? For me, it isn't necessarily the rejection of approaching that hurts; it's why that rejection happened (more confirmation of my horrible looks.)

There is also some anxiety around being approached, like Caffeinated said. The message women get is that they need to dress sexy enough to attract the right guy (because why would a guy approach her if she doesn't look good?), but not too sexy, or else she'll come across as "slutty" and thus none of the good guys will want her. You also can't dress too sexy or else you're "intimidating" all of the nice guys and only jerks/players will hit on you. So figuring out how to present yourself so you attract only the "right" guys is this high tightrope act of being sexy/demure, confident/unintimaiting, open/not open to everyone.
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Post by V on Mon May 11, 2015 9:22 am

Thank you for the replies.

Certainly that whole "how far are things going to go tonight" issue can be a minefield for both parties.  A few times I've turned down women's explicit offers of sex, not due to lack of attraction but I just didn't feel entirely comfortable right then (the women concerned escalated very quickly).  I certainly didn't wish to hurt their feelings and did feel somewhat awkward and "unmanly".

Regarding concern over dressing and getting the right look and not being too available/unavailable, sexy/too sexy and such, is this a reiterative process that can be calibrated over time?  Does it get easier with experience or does each new outing/ party etc bring its own worries?

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Post by reboot on Mon May 11, 2015 9:54 am

V wrote:Thank you for the replies.
...
Regarding concern over dressing and getting the right look and not being too available/unavailable, sexy/too sexy and such, is this a reiterative process that can be calibrated over time?  Does it get easier with experience or does each new outing/ party etc bring its own worries?

It does not get easier because life and the circumstances you enter are constantly changing with age/time. What works at 21 works less well at 25 and not at all at 30 and is very situationally dependent, like college party vs post-work happy hour.

Another thing that makes approaching anxiety inducing for women is the lack of scripts or models, even bad ones. Almost every depiction of a woman approaching a man in media is because: a) she is desperate and it is played for laughs; b) she is somewhat unhinged; c) there is a nefarious purpose behind the approach. If you do not fit in any of those categories (and most people do not), it is hard to figure out how to approach. Women will often ping too aggressive or too subtle because they are flailing. Couple this with the "men do not say no unless you are hideous" predominant narrative, the rejections are both more likely and sting deeper, since rejections are not supposed to happen to women.
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Post by V on Mon May 11, 2015 12:46 pm

Thanks for that reply Reboot.

I think that for some men, myself included, rejection gets easier to cope with by virtue of experience and perhaps easier to avoid if one gets better at reading signals.

The lack of positive models for women approaching must be very frustrating.  

I live in Japan and women certainly approach quite a bit here. I think the general way of socialising in smaller groups and in smaller bars where people are more likely to know other people makes even cold approaches not so cold and less high stakes.

You said "the rejections are both more likely".  Are you saying that women who approach men are more likely to be rejected than vice versa? (That seems to be exactly what you are saying, just checking).  Why do you think that is?  The "flailing", men not appreciating women being assertive or other reasons?

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Post by reboot on Mon May 11, 2015 1:24 pm

V wrote:

...
You said "the rejections are both more likely".  Are you saying that women who approach men are more likely to be rejected than vice versa? (That seems to be exactly what you are saying, just checking).  Why do you think that is?  The "flailing", men not appreciating women being assertive or other reasons?

Oops. That is not what I meant. Lack of clarity on my part, sorry.

What I was getting at is that the two extremes women who approach tend to go for, too subtle or too aggressive, will result in more rejections. But there are not many models for anything in between for women. There are not many depictions of boundary respecting, but direct, approaches for women that might be more successful.

So it is not that women who approach are more likely to be rejected, but that so many of our approaches are terrible.
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Post by V on Mon May 11, 2015 2:12 pm

OK.  My mistake.  However your clarification answers why women fail at approaches.

If you don't mind, Reboot, could you give a few examples of "too subtle" and "too aggressive"" in regards to approaches by women.  

Oh, and another thought.  What are some features of good approaches by men that may be able to transfer over to women?

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Post by reboot on Mon May 11, 2015 2:28 pm

Oh jeez, aggressive usually involves intrusive and boundary crashing touch and subtle is doing things like inviting places but not calling things dates OE indicating it is anything but friendly.

This reddit has a good sampling of both types of fails
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Post by V on Mon May 11, 2015 2:38 pm

Thanks.  I'll check that out.  Tomorrow (it's very late here, in fact it is tomorrow)Smile

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Post by Caffeinated on Mon May 11, 2015 5:41 pm

reboot wrote:Oh jeez, aggressive usually involves intrusive and boundary crashing touch and subtle is doing things like inviting places but not calling things dates OE indicating it is anything but friendly.

This reddit has a good sampling of both types of fails

Good lord, that reddit is outrageous! I have trouble with the notion that people can be so oblivious.
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Post by Autumnflame on Mon May 11, 2015 6:56 pm

Okay, some of them I'm like, "Yeah, I can see how that would be confusing, and I can legitimately think of instances where something like that would be offered with nothing ulterior to it." Still would have been smarter to at least ask the question rather than pretend nothing happened, but hey, we've all been dumb.

And then there's the ones where she goes "I WANT TO GIVE YOU A BLOWJOB."

How. HOW.

(To be fair, my first boyfriend emailed me out of the blue after tracking down my email through the college directory, invited me out for drinks with the rest of the kung fu club and then to his place to play Valkyrie Profile, and I thought he was just being friendly. But at least I wised up when he put his arm around me and then did that intense-preliminary-to-a-kiss look.)

(On the gripping hand, it kind of casts the guy who never initiated anything but always agreed enthusiastically to anything I suggested - including the time I went, "Look, I want to go over to your place and make out with you, it's been like three months" - in a different light.)
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Post by reboot on Mon May 11, 2015 7:05 pm

Personally, I think the super direct, "I want to give you a blowjob" ones were ignored because the men/boys did not want a blowjob, for any number of reasons, but did not know how to say no. And now they are posting to share the story for laughs or because in retrospect they wish they said yes.
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Post by Conreezy on Mon May 11, 2015 7:45 pm

reboot wrote:Personally, I think the super direct, "I want to give you a blowjob" ones were ignored because the men/boys did not want a blowjob, for any number of reasons, but did not know how to say no. And now they are posting to share the story for laughs or because in retrospect they wish they said yes.

I've been there. I laughed it off then, because I didn't know how to respond. I still laugh now, because that girl was shamelessly bold. (It was in a convenience store. Were we supposed to go to the bathroom?)

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Post by Guest on Mon May 11, 2015 7:56 pm

Caffeinated wrote:
reboot wrote:Oh jeez, aggressive usually involves intrusive and boundary crashing touch and subtle is doing things like inviting places but not calling things dates OE indicating it is anything but friendly.

This reddit has a good sampling of both types of fails

Good lord, that reddit is outrageous! I have trouble with the notion that people can be so oblivious.

Oh, these reddits are loads of fun. There's at least three large ones like this out there. But, I can relate to these pretty well when it comes to obliviousness. The one that always stuck out at me in particular was:
Reddit wrote:"I can deep throat and have no gag reflex."
"That's weird. Did you have bad tonsillitis as a kid or something?"
That's pretty much the kind of thing I would say, hah.

But I have to agree with reboot that the overtly obvious ones were, more or less, guys not really wanting what the woman was offering. At least at the time, anyway. Some of these took place in high school and University, where I can safely say I would have had similar reactions. Weird, not-quite-no's because men 'can't say no' to a good shag and painful obliviousness.


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Post by V on Tue May 12, 2015 12:03 am

Yes, there is some truly hilarious stuff there.

I'm prepared to take most of it at face value.  Never underestimate the power of men to be oblivious I say!

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Post by reboundstudent on Tue May 12, 2015 1:20 am

V wrote:
I'm prepared to take most of it at face value.  Never underestimate the power of men to be oblivious I say!

Eh, for years when guys would reject my extremely-overt gestures, I chalked it up to "guys being oblivious." It didn't help that my friends always claimed guys needed a "clue by four" to the face when it came to a woman being interested in them. But slowly I started realizing.... no. They knew exactly what I was offering. They just didn't want it. I didn't need to be more obvious; I needed to accept the Soft No.

Part of this was observing over the years how the same guys would be "oblivious" to my romantic gestures, but the slightest bit of a hint from someone they were attracted to, and they were more than happy to pick up the ball and run with it. I'm happy to say that I don't think I've (unintentionally) creeped anyone out for a number of years by just accepting a guy's lack of attention to my interest at face value. Sure, there's a tiny chance he's oblivious. But that's the exception to the rule. More likely, he's just not that into you.

I've gotten some hard push-back from fellow ladies about my giving up at the first sign of obliviousness, but I feel it's better to err on the side of "accept rejection, avoid creepy behavior" than hope the guy just needs a neon sign and it turns out you're making him deeply uncomfortable.
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Post by kath on Tue May 12, 2015 2:03 am

i'm not trying to approach people for romantic reasons, and I find eye contact with strangers really difficult (I am also pretty shy with strangers / in situations where I'm not comfortable with the rules and how I fit into them).

I really wish we had more pop-culturally-popular, easy-to-refer-to examples of different-gender, totally non-sexual interactions, where both parties are still attracted to the opposite gender. Commercials are the worst Sad.
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Post by Guest on Tue May 12, 2015 2:55 am

reboot wrote:Oh jeez, aggressive usually involves intrusive and boundary crashing touch and subtle is doing things like inviting places but not calling things dates OE indicating it is anything but friendly.

This reddit has a good sampling of both types of fails

Gosh. I have a love/hate relationship with those reddit threads. For one, from a dude's perspective, they're pretty funny as I could almost hear the 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' theme playing as I read a bunch of these.

But at the same time, I feel awful for these girls who have to deal with our dumb-boy-asses.


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Post by Werel on Tue May 12, 2015 5:59 am

Autumnflame wrote:(On the gripping hand,

A++ love this book, perfect use of phrase, 1000 points to you.
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Post by Izmuth on Tue May 12, 2015 7:07 am

reboundstudent wrote:
I've gotten some hard push-back from fellow ladies about my giving up at the first sign of obliviousness, but I feel it's better to err on the side of "accept rejection, avoid creepy behavior" than hope the guy just needs a neon sign and it turns out you're making him deeply uncomfortable.

So much yessss.

In highschool there was a girl who was making me deeply uncomfortable with her "flirting", and I tried to ignore it in the hopes it went away but it didn't.

At university me and a friend were talking about her, and he was like, "I don't know how to tell you this, but she was crazy attracted to you", and I was like "DUH, you really thought I didn't know?".

On the other hand, I've also just ignored signals because my anxiety was just too bad (I asked as many women out as I have been propositioned for NSA sex by random men on the street!)

That's why in general (I know that you don't feel like it works out in your case ReboundStudent), I advice women to just ask a guy out if they feel like they need to ramp up the obviousness of their signals from lightly flirting to potential boundary crossing behaviour.

Less chance to make people uncomfortable.
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Post by V on Tue May 12, 2015 11:47 am

RBS ( I hope you don't mind the abbreviation) I guess I was projecting my own obliviousness onto the matter and the reddit stories in particular.

Yes I guess some men do consciously ignore women's advances and thus are delivering a "soft no".

When making approaches I myself err on the side of bailing out early if I think I'm not getting any strong signals.

If your friends are telling you that you are bailing too early it probably indicated that you are not being creepy.  Not that friends are always right or get to deny other people's boundaries.

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Post by reboot on Tue May 12, 2015 11:53 am

V wrote:RBS ( I hope you don't mind the abbreviation) I guess I was projecting my own obliviousness onto the matter and the reddit stories in particular.

Yes I guess some men do consciously ignore women's advances and thus are delivering a "soft no".

When making approaches I myself err on the side of bailing out early if I think I'm not getting any strong signals.

If your friends are telling you that you are bailing too early it probably indicated that you are not being creepy.  Not that friends are always right or get to deny other people's boundaries.

Pushing past the point of creepy is a stumbling block many women who approach have. Since both men and women tend to hold the myth that men are always game and welcome any approach by a woman, men struggle to give a direct " No" and women fail at recognizing men's "soft No". Hopefully this will change as more women approach because hot damn have I seen women, including me, pull some creepy ass, cringe worthy shit!
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Post by Guest on Tue May 12, 2015 12:10 pm

reboot wrote:
Pushing past the point of creepy is a stumbling block many women who approach have.  Since both men and women tend to hold the myth that men are always game and welcome any approach by a woman, men struggle to give a direct " No" and women fail at recognizing men's "soft No". Hopefully this will change as more women approach because hot damn have I seen women, including me, pull some creepy ass, cringe worthy shit!

Please, do tell what you ladies have done! Razz I'm genuinely curious because I've never really been approached much (And this sounds funny to me).

I've been approached a few times, maybe? Once by the girlfriend of a friend asking if I knew where he was and another... I don't remember.

Although, once I was groped in the street by some girls when I was in high school. That was really weird. :/

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