Dating for Independent Women

04Apr08

As a woman, it is so difficult to know when to be strong and when to be vulnerable. Even worse, confusing the two can spell relationship disaster. Like many women, I tend to put my guard up during the courtship. Subconsciously I think to myself, “Stay independent, stay in control, he won’t be able to hurt you.” If you tell yourself those things often enough, you will never fall. When it ends, you will feel no pain. Those mantras, however, are also likely to ensure that (1) there is an end; and (2) you will derive no emotional benefit from the relationship in the interim. How does that saying go? No risk no reward? Well, it applies to love and money alike. Ladies (and gentlemen, albeit in a different way), if only we could realize that in this context, our “strength” is nothing more than a manifestation of profound weakness. So when does the guard go down?

Like many other women, if I do allow myself to love someone despite my best subconscious efforts to the contrary, the guard goes down with the relationship. That is, I’ll be kinder and less “strong” as the relationship grinds to a halt. This is because regardless of emotional woes, I am a fighter. If I care about someone, I will fight for them, despite my personal dealings with trust and guards and abandonment and all of that. Unfortunately for me, this often ends with my morphing into a doormat, only to accumulate enough emotional baggage to ensure that I make the same mistakes the next time. That is why we women have this all wrong. It is during this phase that the guard should be up. When we get to this point, he may care but he has made up his mind about us. Efforts to fight it will only delay the inevitable and result in an entirely frustrating, emotionally draining breakup.

Therein lies my personal route to “relationship road kill” status. I guard myself, opting out of the traditional “hard to get”game in favor of a more austere and self-defeating “impossible to get” game. I’ve danced this dance with many and what I haven’t realized until recently is that men are more perceptive than we women give them credit for. They sense when we invest no emotional captial in therelationship. They know when we’re ready to leave if we have to. They know that we don’t need them (oh, we’ve made that clear enough). In the end, they know that on some level, they have nothing to lose.

If you’re like me and you play the “impossible to get” game, the worst isn’t over when you recognize this dynamic. The worst part is negotiating a comfortable yet functional line between “impossible to get” and “hard to get.” Or better yet, a line between safeguarding your heart and dignity and trusting someone not to mishandle them. To say that the guard should be up only if he mistreats you may be an oversimplification; but it’s close to the truth. Now, if only I could stop dating men with the same or similiar issues, maybe I could really make some progress.

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2 Responses to “Dating for Independent Women”

  1. 1 manorexic

    This post reminds me of a great Andrew “Dice” Clay line:

    “Some people play hard to get… I play hard to want.”

    As someone who’s actually been on a few dates with you, I feel particularly well qualified to comment on your hermitude*.

    *According to the urban dictionary, hermitude is a combination of the words “hermit” and “attitude,” indicating the suggestion of the ‘hermetic vas’ spoken of by Jung. In Jungian terminology, the Hermit is the archetypal “Wise Old Man.” The hermit, being “the primitive man who trusts the unconscious” (von Franz on Jung’s ‘Zofingia lectures’) is one whose way of life is concerned with authenticity, the inner attitude to life, and developing one’s inner and intuitive life, as opposed to playing a role in the external world of socio-politics.

    Let me qualify any statements regarding your “hermitude” by first explaining that they are mere offerings of constructive criticism, and are not meant to be derogatory or snide. I’m actually a big fan of yours.

    By way of example, I think it’s only fair to point out (for the benefit of your readers) that during the tenure of our courtship, you never once called me on the phone to initiate plans. While you were quasi-decent at returning my phone calls, your blatant passivity was such a turnoff that I eventually became completely disinterested (it also didn’t help that you were half asleep on two of our dates). Of course, in hindsight it could be true that you actually were completely indifferent as to whether or not our interpersonal dynamic progressed – but I don’t think that’s true. I’m willing to bet that you were just reluctant to open up. My point is that there’s a big difference between being guarded and exuding indifference; being guarded might frustrate your significant others despite their longing for you, while conveying indifference will disallow longing and thus result in an even lower tolerance for frustration on the part of your suitors.

    To quote your post, “How does that saying go? No risk no reward?” As a professional investor, I can assure you of this logical truism: If there is no foreseeable reward, then the assumption of risk is not justified. This conditional statement applies equally as well to relationships as it does to the stock market. Though I was sincerely interested in you, it was simply illogical for me to invest in you, because you hadn’t really given me any reason to.

    So for all the other ladies lucky enough to be reading these sage-like gems, take it to heart that the men in your life appreciate tokens of appreciation, like spontaneous phone calls expressing romantic sentiments. Let them know that though your hearts may be icy cold, they still beat somewhere under the bras that you’re trying so hard to keep on.

    Make yourself worthwhile, and (if he’s smart enough) a man will risk anything for a chance to be with you.

    Best of luck,

    -E

    P.S.: This new guy you’re dating seems like a complete douche. Just an observation.

  2. 2 Queen Samantha

    I appreciate your feedback, E, despite the tinges of bitterness that I could choose to take offense to. When it comes down to it, however, I really do believe that they represent only tinges, so I will overlook them. After all, on our last date you did request exclusivity, so my alleged sleepiness and cold-heartedness apparently didn’t phase you then. Hell hath no fury like a man scorned.

    The truth of the matter is that after months of meeting people I wasn’t all that interested in, I was tired of dating. So, it was true indifference that you detected and in hindsight, I shouldn’t have been dating you in the first place. After you, I laid off the singles scene and resolved to simply live my life. If I met someone, great, if not, that was preferable. I had no more energy left for dating — especially the kind of high-intensity dating that precipitated our acquaintance. I sincerely apologize for wasting your time (and I would say money, but I did my best to make sure we broke even — I think I succeeded at least somewhat in that regard).

    Regarding the guy I’m currently dating, he can often be a douche — after all, he is of the male persuasion. I kid, I kid. But he happens to be a great guy — I plan to write a post to that effect in the near future, once I feel ready to brave the consequences of jinxing myself.

    Thank you for teaching me the true meaning of “concerted” — take care of yourself.
    S


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