“I regret my abortion.” »« Is All Pickup Advice Sexist?

Confession: I Basically Never Ask People Out

Every progressive has a traditional streak in them. It might be little, it might be huge, it might be a secret, it might be totally obvious.

Mine is this: I do not take initiative when it comes to sex and romance.

Save for some occasional exceptions, I don’t ask people out on dates, I don’t proposition people for sex, I don’t disclose romantic or sexual feelings to anyone unless they’ve done so first, I don’t initiate conversations about moving relationships “to the next level” (I hate that phrase, but it’ll suffice here), I don’t say “I love you” first, and if I ever get married I doubt I will be the one to propose.

This is not a random personality quirk, and it’s also very localized. In the context of friendships and professional relationships, I take lots of initiative. I let people know that I’d like to get to know them better and I’ve initiated lots of coffee/lunch dates with friends. In the context of existing sexual/romantic relationships, I’m also very assertive and often suggest dates or initiate sex. In general, I set and enforce boundaries clearly (although this costs me friendships and relationships) and make my needs known.

So what is it about initiating new sexual/romantic relationships and making existing ones more serious or committed?

For lots of people, this is difficult because they fear rejection. They find themselves paralyzed with fear at the thought of asking someone on a date or telling them they want to have sex. They worry that asking and being rejected will lead to ridicule or ostracism. They worry that the person won’t want to be friends with them anymore.

I don’t. Rejection bothers me to the extent that it bothers everyone–it sucks and it’s unpleasant. But that suckage isn’t nearly enough to keep me from pursuing relationships that could make me really happy.

For some people–a group that overlaps with the fear-of-rejection group–initiating things is hard because they are insecure. They believe it’s pointless to even try because nobody could possibly like them or find them attractive anyway. Perhaps they believe this because of past romantic/sexual failure, or because they have depression and this is what depression does to you, or just because they haven’t tested this particular hypothesis yet.

That’s not the case for me either. Although I have a few insecurities, I’m quite confident in my ability to find partners.

For me, passivity in initiating relationships has little to do with fear or insecurity, and everything to do with the lessons I’ve absorbed about what it means to be a woman who initiates relationships and how people–men, mostly*–have responded when I’ve done so in the past.

First of all, as I mentioned, I do initiate sometimes. It has ended very badly almost all of those times. Not in the sense that I got rejected or that stuff happened and later didn’t work out. Rather, what inevitably happened was that the guy I asked on a date or disclosed my crush to or wanted to have a casual friends-with-benefits relationship with would string me along to see what he could get, and then reveal that he’d actually never been that interested to begin with. In the friends-with-benefits case, the “friends” part would quickly disappear. In the crush case, he’d persuade me to have sex with him and then claim that I should’ve known it “meant nothing.” In the date case, he’d act bored and blasé on the date and explain that actually he hadn’t really wanted to go on a date with me at all but just didn’t think to say no.

Of course, I get that at the beginnings of things, it’s hard to know what exactly you’re interested in, if anything. But this is why language exists. “Sure, I’d love to hang out, but I’m not sure yet if I’m interested in you romantically.” “I’d totally hook up with you, but I don’t tend to stay friends with the people I fuck.” “Right now I don’t see you as someone I’d have a relationship with, but if you’re okay just being friends who hook up sometimes, I’m down.”

Now that I’m older and more experienced, I know what to look for when someone’s purposefully being vague just to see what they can get from someone who’s expressed interest in them. I also understand why men might do this. Having a woman initiate things is probably rare enough that they want to “take advantage” of the opportunity, even though they’re not actually interested and even though that’s extremely manipulative.

Nevertheless, this has happened most of the times I’ve initiated romantic/sexual things, and that makes me extremely reluctant to do it again. If initiating things means wading through someone’s obfuscations and asking them to specify what they’re looking for from the situation and knowing that they might lie and lead me on anyway, no thanks.

The second reason involves all the patriarchal stuff I’m sure you know. All my life I’ve been told that women who initiate are whores. In fact, I’ve been warned by plenty of well-meaning women that men will string women who initiate along to see what they can get (or just assume that what they can get is sex and act accordingly). Obviously, I don’t believe any of these things. But the latter happens to have been confirmed by my personal experiences, which makes it really difficult to break out of that mold.

Along with that are the fears that many of us probably still have and try every day to overcome. In my case, it’s that nobody will ever like me if I take charge and ask people out or whatever, and that everyone will think I’m “a slut” and make fun of me behind my back (this has also happened, so believe me when I say I’m not pulling this shit out of nowhere).

And yeah, people say that men who take advantage of a woman who shows initiative aren’t the kinds of men you’d want to date, and that friends who make fun of you and call you a slut aren’t the kinds of friends you’d want to have.

But does that make it hurt any less?

The third reason is that, in my experience, many men who claim to like women who show initiative don’t really mean it–and, more to the point–they don’t realize they don’t mean it. They say, “Oh, I’d love it if a girl asked me out.” “I’d love it if a girl asked me for sex.” But then it actually happens, and the caveats come out: “Well, sure, I like assertive women, but she’s just too aggressive.” “Well, I just felt intimidated when she asked me how I felt about her.” “Wow, she just seems really desperate and obsessed.” “I think she’s like, in love with me, and I’m not ready for that right now.”

It’s not a coincidence that men tend to feel intimidated by assertive women and to view them as aggressive, desperate, and obsessed. First of all, that’s how women who initiate sex and dating are constantly portrayed in the media. Second, while more and more women are feeling comfortable initiating things, it’s probably still rare enough that men might assume–without realizing they’re assuming–that if a woman asks them out, she must be so desperate or in love with them that she was willing to ignore our society’s taboo against women who initiate relationships.

People tend to talk about fear of rejection as the ultimate reason for not making a move and the biggest obstacle for folks to overcome if they want to take charge of their love lives, but honestly, I wish rejection were the biggest problem I faced when it comes to asking people out. Rejection seems like a walk in the park compared to this other stuff. At least rejection is honest. “Sorry, I don’t like you that way.” But in my experience, taking initiative means dealing with people who don’t say what they mean, or say what they don’t mean, or don’t realize that what they say they want is not what they want, or blatantly lie. Who has time for that?!

For me, it’s not so much a conscious decision not to ask people out or proposition them even when I want to, but rather a nearly-complete lack of any desire to do so. When I meet someone I’m interested in, I often find myself thinking that it would be nice to date or hook up with this person, but there isn’t really any part of me that wants to make that happen. Instead I sometimes befriend them and see what happens. Worst case scenario is that I make an awesome friend; best case scenario is that they initiate things. Often they do. (And note how the worst case scenario and the best case scenario are actually equal in terms of awesomeness.)

But this is what makes it hardest to fight. If I really wanted to do something about my feelings for someone, I could absolutely drum up the courage to do it. But I just don’t. Apathy is always the worst enemy. I’ll meet someone and get a crush and tell my friends and they ask me what I’m going to do, and I usually just shrug and say that I don’t feel like doing much of anything about it.

To be clear, I’m not happy with the fact that I’m this way. Although I don’t feel any guilt over it (I find guilt over not being “feminist enough” or “progressive enough” to be counterproductive anyway), I’d like to change and I hope I’ll be able to. But it’s not a huge priority right now because I’m more concerned with making sure my depression doesn’t relapse and that I move to NYC successfully and do well in graduate school and make friends and all that. Sex and dating is quite a few burners away from the front.

In any case, this post should not be taken as an endorsement of How People Ought To Be, and the personal history I described should not be taken as my impression of What Men Are Like. It’s just how my life has happened to go so far. It’s likely that someday my life will go differently. I will look forward to that day.
~~~

*I specified men because this post is primarily about my experiences with men. With not-men, I have a completely different set of challenges and experiences that I didn’t want to get into here.

Extra moderation note: Posts like this one tend to bring out a lot of condescension and unsolicited advice. Note that I didn’t ask for any advice in this post, so please don’t offer it unless you’d like to talk about your own story and how you overcame problems like these. I wrote this mostly to work through my own thoughts on it and see if anyone else feels the same way, and as much as I love you all I have other people to turn to when I need advice.

Also, if you’re going to comment with something like “wow I could never have expected this from you I mean YOU you’re always all like feminist and talking about communicating and going for what you want I mean wow if even you can’t do it” please consider just not doing that.

Comments

  1. ljbriar says

    It is very tough to get over the social expectation that, as a woman, you should not be the one to initiate dates, romance, sex, whatever, is very hard programming to undo. When I was a kid (and frankly, this pretty much persists until now), I was NEVER noticed by the men that I found attractive. I remember telling my mom, after I broke up with my first boyfriend, that I was determined to just go after men I saw and liked, and ask them out myself.

    The horrified look she gave me shut that idea right down.

    My experience also aligns with yours in that I find that men who claim to want assertive women actually mean, “Assertive in certain particular contexts, and only when I give the okay. And most of the time these contexts are in some way directly related to the happiness of my penis.”

    That said, after another triply miserable relationship experience, I went into therapy, and began to think about what I actually wanted in a man, which was literally something I’d never thought of before. And I realized that I wanted a man who wouldn’t be intimidated and hide under the couch if I asked him out, told him I found him attractive, or made a declarative statement in his presence. Sure, that was really going to narrow my dating pool, but that meant it would be a quick process to weed out duds, and really, how many boyfriends did I need to feel satisfied with my life?

    Anyway, it so happened that I ended up marrying the first guy I asked out so…uh, I’m really out of relevant thoughts here.

    And we rode off into Neptune’s sunset on an eco-powered rainbow unicorn rocket bike.

    Purple monkey dishwasher.

    • says

      Yeah, I’m useless here too. I married the girl next door, who I’ve known since third grade. I am the one who took the initiative every time, in dating and proposing marriage, though, and at least in my case it worked out well. But then I didn’t get involved with someone who was a jerk. That helps a lot.

      We rode off to Minnesota in a U-Haul truck. That doesn’t sound as romantic.

    • entitled says

      So you feel entitled to a marry the first person who asked you out? presumption.

  2. braidcutter says

    Speaking of giving up initiating, I gave up around the age 26. After collecting a good deal old fashion “no”s to sing me to sleep at night, and the “I think of you as a friend” speeches. I’ve always handled it graciously. Never a cruel word passed my lips about them, not behind their backs and not even in my mind. At 31 if I could have a female friend accept pizza and movie with me, (I could call it a date, at least to myself) and I would have the same level dating experience as your average 7th grader.

    By a somewhat different route, I find myself in your shoes. Though with a significantly different romantic life. My thoughts on this are pretty much a straight out mirror of yours.

    With the exception:

    “Rejection seems like a walk in the park compared to this other stuff. At least rejection is honest. “Sorry, I don’t like you that way.” But in my experience, taking initiate means dealing with people who don’t say what they mean, or say what they don’t mean, or don’t realize that what they say they want is not what they want, or blatantly lie. Who has time for that?!”

    Rejection is clearly the lesser of all negative outcomes. But after collecting a mountain of nothing else, at what point do you think all your described cases become preferable? I know that point it comes sometime before the prescriptions for Lorazepam, or Escitalopram.

    I do not begrudge you this tiny privilege.

    • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

      That seems to me, among other things, a fairly tone-deaf-at-best thing to say to a person who’s candidly discussed her own experiences with depression. Not cool.

  3. says

    Personally I find assertiveness to be more reassuring than anything else. I have a lot of difficulty establishing trust with people who are not willing to be aggressive with me because I worry about intimidating people (I am a very large human). It also feels like a display of trust in me- that there is no need to fear me reacting negatively to the expression of ideas/desires, even if my ultimate answer is ‘no’.

    That said, I have noticed with both friends and romantic partners that if I express a desire for assertiveness, I inevitably meet with surprise when my friend/partner discovers that I ‘really mean it’. Which suggests that my way of thinking about this is uncommon.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Hi Miri

    Nice post, and I can identify & sympathise with most of it as a straight male.

    The only thing I’d query is this line of thinking:

    “Rather, what inevitably happened was that the guy I asked on a date or disclosed my crush to or wanted to have a casual friends-with-benefits relationship with would string me along to see what he could get, and then reveal that he’d actually never been that interested to begin with. In the friends-with-benefits case, the “friends” part would quickly disappear. In the crush case, he’d persuade me to have sex with him and then claim that I should’ve known it “meant nothing.” In the date case, he’d act bored and blasé on the date and explain that actually he hadn’t really wanted to go on a date with me at all but just didn’t think to say no.

    Of course, I get that at the beginnings of things, it’s hard to know what exactly you’re interested in, if anything. But this is why language exists. “Sure, I’d love to hang out, but I’m not sure yet if I’m interested in you romantically.” “I’d totally hook up with you, but I don’t tend to stay friends with the people I fuck.” “Right now I don’t see you as someone I’d have a relationship with, but if you’re okay just being friends who hook up sometimes, I’m down.”

    in my experience, taking initiate means dealing with people who don’t say what they mean, or say what they don’t mean, or don’t realize that what they say they want is not what they want, or blatantly lie. Who has time for that?!

    Something that is true of all psychology but especially true of love, sex and relationships, is that people act and react on gut instinct, then subsequently come up with rationalisations and justifications, both to themselves and to the other person, after the fact.

    The problem with advice to “say what you mean and mean what you say”, is that often people don’t really have a clue what they mean! Personally I’ve had experiences where I’ve fallen into bed with someone on the mutual assumption that it’s a one-off casual thing, then before you know it you’re living together. Or conversely, where you do the respectful, three dates, getting to know each other, then find yourself in bed and the next morning you think, hmm, no, it’s not right. You then have to try and capture a complex web of emotions and self-reflection and come up with an explanation and put it into words, taking into account one’s own self-reflective insight (which might not be very accurate) and also trying to come up with a wording that involves neither losing face and self-respect nor overly hurting the other person’s feelings. Not easy!

    Then for good measure, we also have various cognitive self-preservation mechanisms in how we interpret the other person’s behaviour. The easiest thing for our own self-esteem is to externalise it. “She’s a bitch who was milking me for dinner and drinks” or “he’s a skeevy bastard who only ever wanted one thing.” It might not be true in either case, and usually it won’t be, but it is more comforting than “that person I fancied didn’t fancy me back.”

    Anyway, main point – socially constructed gender roles around dating and sex, they suck. Shaming and pressurising people into those gender roles, also suck!

  5. ariana says

    I’ve done this whole not initiating relationships thing for most of my life, and, while I didn’t have any problems with that in terms of dating men, I’ve been having a harder time with it now that I’ve realised I’m very rarely into men. I’ve been in so many situations where I’m interested in a person (and sometimes I hear way past the point where it was relevant that they were also interested in me), and it doesn’t work so well there. And then there are also the dates where I’ve sat thinking “do I try to hold her hand?” and the like. Asking people directly out loud has become my favourite thing, to the point where I now still ask to kiss even in established relationships where it would be less of a big deal if I didn’t explicitly ask.

  6. says

    Hm, this was interesting to read and ponder. I don’t usually initiate dating stuff either (with people I already know), but that’s more for the anxiety/insecurity stuff — I don’t usually initiate any social connections, which is something I’d like to get better about.

    What really got me thinking here was protocols for how to respond when someone asks you out and you’re not sure whether you’re interested in them or not. I’ve many, many times been in the situation where I’m thinking, “Yes, this person is cute and we seem to have stuff to talk about, but I have no idea whether I’d be interested in taking a relationship further, but eep! they’re asking me out so I have to make some kind of decision about it!” And yes, I could tell them all this before accepting, and on some occasions I have, but most of the time I feel like that would be weird and unwelcome. My default assumption is that a date is an opportunity to get to know each other better and find out if we’re both interested in a romantic connection. I feel like explaining carefully that I don’t actually have feelings for them at the moment would be… out of place.

    That said, if it’s someone I know or suspect does have strong feelings for me already, I’ll either say no or go into that explanation, because I don’t want to raise someone’s hopes without cause. I’ve been there, and it sucks. And if we’re talking about having sex, not just a date, I will expect more communication around the relationship. In general, in situations where someone is initiating romantic/sexy dynamics, I’m thinking a lot both about what I want, and my best judgement about what they want and how they’ll respond: how invested are they? Would explaining my reasons for saying yes or no make them feel more comfortable or less? Basically, how can I get what I want while protecting their feelings and/or pride as best as possible?

    And here we come to my point, because I am trained to do this through years of conditioning as a woman and acting out my social role as the responder, not the initiator. Most men, I think, have zero training in how to cope with this kind of situation. Which is not an excuse for the bad behavior of any of the men you’ve asked out — certainly not. It’s more a meditation on how the date-responder is as much of a social role as the date-initiator, and it requires just as honed a set of social and emotional skills, and straight men in our culture generally have not developed those, and might not even be aware that they exist to be developed.

  7. Ariel says

    Note that I didn’t ask for any advice in this post

    No advice to you then, just another personal story about women and initiative, this time from a male point of view.

    Many years ago we gave a seminar (together with my colleague). Regularly after the seminar all the participants used to go together to a pub or a restaurant. And there was a certain girl there, not really a student of us – she studied something else, but attended the seminar because of the topic.

    I didn’t know her well, she was simply one of the students. But one time, when we were sitting together in a restaurant (a group like ten people or so), suddenly she put her hand on mine. She continued holding my hand all the evening.

    “Surprise” is a mild word to describe my reaction. Since I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that myself, the gesture (especially coming from a young woman) struck me as incredibly bold. And wonderful. I asked her about it later. She told me that at my talk at the seminar she had an impression that I was speaking directly to her, that I was looking at her very often. (That’s in fact quite possible.) She knew also that I described her to someone else as very attractive. That’s all she had to go on.

    Perhaps I should add that I’ve been married to this girl for fifteen years.

    Of course a lot has happened since then. With someone that bold and energetic, it is perhaps not much of a surprise that soon this “delicate flower” starts telling you what to do, that she makes a career and ends up earning thrice as much as you, or that – satisfied with her success – she makes attempts to manage your career. (Woe to me! Our daughter is the same!) But in spite (?) of all of this, I’m not going to say “guys, don’t do that”. Quite on the contrary. Meeting this particular bold woman was about the best thing happening to me ever.

    Miri, there is no advice in what I wrote. It’s simply that when I read your OP, in particular the words “All my life I’ve been told that women who initiate are whores”, I felt the need to tell you this story.

  8. ischemgeek says

    I basically never initiate the start of anything social, in part because of the “women who initiate are whores” trope, in part because of being taught that I was domineering when I did it as a kid, and in part because of bullying as a kid. In general, people I had to approach were far more likely to bully me than those who approached me. I’m still wary of new people who approach me, but not as much as I am when I have to approach someone else.

    Once everything is rolling, though, I’m more comfortable with initiating stuff like, “let me get you a coffee,” or whatever, but before, not so much.

  9. Onamission5 says

    In the “people are different and weird” department, I’d not had much difficulty at all establishing dating relationships as an adult, but the key to friendship has long eluded me. I find (or did, before and up to Spouse) dating relationships far less confusing and fraught than friendship. Maybe because in a lot of ways, for me at least, there’s not so much on the line? More likely I just don’t know how to establish intimacy and trust without the shortcut of sex being involved, or, it’s more socially acceptable to get close to someone briefly then run away when the relationship is sexual than when it is platonic. I dunno. I’ve tried to make friends, but I often panic, bolt, and then go hide at the first sign (real or imagined) of a problem. Dating, to me, has always seemed much more straightforward and less complicated than becoming friends with a person for some reason that I haven’t really explored in depth and am a little scared to. Overshare and bolt, undershare and bolt, that’s my pattern. Friendship is scary.

  10. Beatrice (looking for a happy thought) says

    I’m mostly just terminally insecure (which is reason for more problems than just not asking anyone out – I have a hard time suggesting socializing to people I’m not already close friends with). I think a lot of my problems with social interactions would go away if I could talk to people without having thoughts like “Why are they looking at me like that, did I say something wrong/stupid?” “Oh no, I’m probably boring/annoying them” “Good job, they probably think I’m weird now” running through my head constantly.

  11. says

    I’m stuck in the position of a man who never initiates because a) I don’t know how, and b) even if I did, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to through with it… #notabravehero

    So I guess in a weird sort of way I kinda know how you feel… a tiny bit… insofar as I also don’t initiate for some reasons…

    So maybe not… but still…

    The third reason is that, in my experience, many men who claim to like women who show initiative don’t really mean it–and, more to the point–they don’t realize they don’t mean it. They say, “Oh, I’d love it if a girl asked me out.” “I’d love it if a girl asked me for sex.” But then it actually happens, and the caveats come out: “Well, sure, I like assertive women, but she’s just too aggressive.” “Well, I just felt intimidated when she asked me how I felt about her.” “Wow, she just seems really desperate and obsessed.” “I think she’s like, in love with me, and I’m not ready for that right now.”

    Would you believe that my chapter of AEPi is full of men like this?

    Most of them will claim to like a bold woman who makes the first move, but then when one actually does, they run away, only to initiate a one-night stand with somebody else.

    I get it, but it’s also wrong. I’m looking forward to the days when these expectations are gone…

  12. CaitieCat says

    I’ve shifted. When I was young, and people thought I was a man, I initiated generally.

    Now, when I am old(er – 47), and people know I’m a woman, I generally don’t.

    There’s probably a post in the middle between those two lines.

    Another good one, Miri, thanks for stirring up my little grey cells.

  13. says

    I do initiate, but what you say in this post definitely makes sense to me.

    Being autistic and being masculine-of-center probably helped me a lot; the former because it means I can’t perceive a lot of subtle social cues, so I’ve probably missed ZILLIONS of indications that people disapproved of whatever I was doing throughout my life, and the latter for more self-evident reasons. (I.e., even if someone were to say, “Girls don’t do that,” I would immediately respond with “But I do, and I’ve been told I’m a girl, so your definitions are wrong.”)

    All of the times (n = 3; I can think of two or three other people I’ve felt attracted to but said nothing to because they were total strangers as opposed to friends or acquaintances) I told someone I found them attractive I was turned down. The first and second times I did not take it well AT ALL. (As in sad, not angry.)

    I think I still hadn’t quite internalized that, just because I found them attractive, that didn’t mean they had any obligation to say yes to me. Which is funny because I’ve been on the other side of that often enough, and been unable to say “no” to some random person’s unwanted advances. (I think at the time I felt something like, “I’ve experienced rejection and it hurts, therefore I have a moral duty not to hurt this rando in the way I have been hurt myself.”*)

    I don’t remember exactly, but it does seem like both of these problems — being unable to say no and being unable to hear no — resolved themselves at about the same time, because of the same things. I think it was finally being in relationship (one that he initiated — I was not attracted to him until later) that did it. I told him about my problems saying no, and past exploitation by others, but didn’t make the connection to my problems hearing no. I said many enthusiastic yeses during this relationship, and also got some practice saying no. It was both easier and harder; harder because I cared about him, and it was hard to let him down (he had a MUCH higher libido than mine, as most people do), but easier because he cared about me and thus wouldn’t push.

    *There might be a Geek Social Fallacy along these lines.

  14. John Horstman says

    But in my experience, taking initiative means dealing with people who don’t say what they mean, or say what they don’t mean, or don’t realize that what they say they want is not what they want, or blatantly lie. Who has time for that?!

    Is that in contrast to dating when not taking the initiative? Either in your own experience or the aggregate? To me, that just sounds like “dating” (though I’m a guy and have only once had someone ask me out – in that relationship, I encountered the same problems you list – so my sample isn’t balanced enough for me to make any guess in which I’m confident about whether this is a function of gender, taking the initiative, etc.), or really any relationship where two parties might not want the exact same thing(s) from the relationship, from buying a car to running for Congress.

    Anyway, I’ve definitely heard similar things from other women, and there have been a number of survey studies recently that have found that men will – on average – see women who take the initiative as less attractive, even if they were interested in them before the women asked them out. You may only be speaking for yourself, but your experiences don’t sound atypical.

  15. MarieG says

    I’ve only managed two relationships, but the first I pursued non-verbally and it came out badly. For the second, I asked the man who is now my husband out and initiated all the dates. If I hadn’t, we would never have gotten together because he had been turned down by so many women that he didn’t think anyone would ever be interested. For the entire time we were engaged we were only hypothetically engaged because he couldn’t come out and ask me to marry him directly. I reminded him of that fact just before we fell asleep the night before the wedding so he asked directly then. I think that may have been the first time he asked me directly for anything. We’ve been married for 13 years and are closer now then we were when we got married so for me, the best part of my life only happened because I initiated it.

  16. truth says

    The pulsing black heart of feminism shall be repulsed by the light of truth and Men’s Rights.

  17. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    I also understand why men might do this. Having a woman initiate things is probably rare enough that they want to “take advantage” of the opportunity, even though they’re not actually interested and even though that’s extremely manipulative.

    I think men are actually socialized to have this attitude. I’ve wound up, in retrospect, more or less doing this at least a couple times, though unintentionally. Between exposure to toxic masculinity and issues with my family I still really struggle with differentiating what I actually want from what I think I’m Supposed To do and want, and it’s frustrating. :(

  18. Man-Witch of Angmar says

    Entitled, female-privileged, privileged, privilege-denying feminists bitching and moaning about Plank Megadick not asking them to the prom? What else is new.

  19. says

    Miri:
    On the communication thing, I completely relate.
    When I first came out of the closet at 20, the gay bars were exciting and fun. Hooking up for random sex was thrilling. Even then though, I wanted to date (though I knew fuck all about dating). There were more than two handfuls of guys I had hooked up with and wanted to get to know better, but in nearly all cases even though they said the same, their actions did not line up. I learned that sometimes people say things the morning after sex that they are not sincere about.
    Ok, I can deal with that (after the crushing bouts of insecurity that had me crying my 23 year old eyes out).
    I slowly began stating-upfront-that while I am perfectly happy having sex, I’d really like to get to know you.
    That has not worked out either.

    Though my insecurities have lessened in the intervening years, on a bad day I get really melancholy thinking of how I have been single for a decade with no prospects in sight. But that is not for a lack of trying or learning how to open up and communicate my thoughts (which of course I am still working on).

    As for initiating, I have done it more times than I can count. Usually it is asking someone out, but sometimes it is sexual propositions. My insecurities in this area have diminished significantly to the point that disappointment still exists, but shrugging it off doesn’t take hours of crying. I’m at the point now that I wish someone would ask ME out.

  20. says

    I’ve initiated a bunch of one-night stands, and I also initiated the chain of events that led to me dating my current beau… I don’t recall much of a difference in bullshit quotient between those I initiated and those I didn’t.

  21. Man-Witch of Angmar says

    Random question: can someone tell me why there exists a Wimmin in Secularism when it seems to be that about half of speakers at every other conference are wimmin anyway? It seems like a way for people who have it good to pretend they don’t.

    Oh well. Full steam ahead, Entitled White Middle-Class American Women in Secularism 3!

    • Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

      Isn’t the whole point of the ‘Witch-King of Angmar’ that he was such a sexist, when it was prophesied that no man could kill him, he stupidly thought it meant that he could never be killed – then a woman killed him?

      Why would you choose as your nym a character who was literally killed by his own sexism? Is it because you already know your stupid sexism is self-defeating?

      • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

        Not to mention it’s hard to see how someone who’s drunk so deeply of the toxic masculinity kool-aid wouldn’t object to being named after a guy who gets *ahem* stabbed from behind by a short man before being put in his place by a woman.

    • queequack says

      White Middle-Class American Women in Secularism 3

      Not that I actually looked that hard, because I don’t really care, but from what I saw of photos and stuff this is actually a fair criticism unfortunately bookended by obnoxious trollery. Too the point where it was sort of weird, actually- the gender ratio was flipped, but other than that the attendees seemed more homogenous that they are at your average conference. If WiS3 happens, real tangible efforts should probably be made in that direction.

      That being said, I haven’t seen anyone from WiS deny that reality was reality (and that reality had a problem) so that’s something.

      • smhll says

        I noticed, from pictures, fairly large swaths of white people at WIS2. (OK, and some pale-ish people that I might be miscategorizing.) So I think you have a point about limited racial diversity.

        But, at least the conference was held in Washington DC, rather than “centrally located” rather homogenous Midwest. It is within range of a large and diverse population on the central East Coast. It just needs to be more appealing, somehow.

  22. says

    “Worst case scenario is that I make an awesome friend; best case scenario is that they initiate things. Often they do. (And note how the worst case scenario and the best case scenario are actually equal in terms of awesomeness.)”

    This right here. I try to walk into any potential relationship hoping for friendship first. As a result, I’m actually pretty wretched at things like flirting and often don’t actually do anything other than hang out for often years. In fact, I’m sometimes so afraid that somebody will think I’m a creep that I let my more flirty best friend take the first steps to see if somebody would be even interested in flirting, though since he’s straight that only works for women.

    That being said, awesome friendships are pretty damn sweet. I’m happy with my friendships, and having that sort of base makes it less awkward if something else happens.

  23. queequack says

    People tend to talk about fear of rejection as the ultimate reason for not making a move and the biggest obstacle for folks to overcome if they want to take charge of their love lives, but honestly, I wish rejection were the biggest problem I faced when it comes to asking people out.

    This sounds like someone who has never actually been rejected. For one, I’ll note that there’s also the subsequent gossipy stuff about the gross loser with the temerity to ask someone out, from the assholes.

    • queequack says

      Actually, there really should be, let’s call it a distant cousin, of this “Schrodinger’s Rapist” trope, for men who ask women out. We’ll call it Schrodinger’s Bully and Asshole.

      • Stacy says

        For one, I’ll note that there’s also the subsequent gossipy stuff about the gross loser with the temerity to ask someone out, from the assholes.

        And women who ask men out never get that.

        Oh, wait. An unattractive woman who dares ask a more attractive man out is a fucking joke.

        http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AbhorrentAdmirer

        But MRAs rarely consider such women, and when they do, they dismiss them with scorn. (Object to the jokes, and you’re humorless, or Denying Reality.) Yet they believe an unattractive man ought to be able to ask an attractive woman out without rejection (sexual rejection = oppression,) or, if there must be rejection (because of course attractive women THINK THEY’RE TOO GOOD FOR HIM, TOO BUSY RIDING THE ALPHA COCK CAROUSEL, THE BITCHES), there must be no gossip or joking at his expense.

        (Why do I frame this in terms of more attractive/unattractive? Because that’s the only way your assertion makes any sense, queequack. People, even shallow people, don’t normally call somebody a “gross loser” just because s/he asked somebody out and was turned down. The fact that assholes do behave that way when the askee is perceived to be out of the asker’s league is awful, but don’t frame it as something that only happens to men.)

      • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

        Schroedinger’s Bully is real, but it’s not the “cousin” of Schroedinger’s Rapist; it’s a flea on the mouse that lives in his box with him.

        Perspective. Not actually fatal; you may even like it.

          • queequack says

            I’ve never said that and it’s obviously not true. I thought it was reasonable because you are a woman.

          • queequack says

            No, just different in this one particular aspect. If I was wrong, then I was wrong and I retract my assumption. You also didn’t mention the social consequences of rejection, which I assumed any rejectee would know.

            Anyway, even if I did think women’s lives were easier (which I don’t) it wouldn’t be sexist, unless you want to call the whole concept of privilege sexist, in which case this entire blog network really sucks, doesn’t it.

          • queequack says

            Well, I think it depends on the particulars of the situation. For me, I’d take the latter, because at least you get some. But then again I don’t have the luxury of doing that kind of thing whenever I want. I do agree that if you’re only looking for a relationship, a quick rejection is preferable.

          • says

            Even when I was searching for casual hookups, finding out that a dude was trying to manipulate me and string me along was a real mood-killer. It’s shitty behavior, regardless of whether it matches your desires regarding relationships vs. casual sex or not.

          • Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

            Anyway, I don’t think it’s an uncommon feeling that rejection is preferable to being strung along and used and THEN rejected and blamed for being stupid enough to fall for it.

            Hell, that’s *arithmetic*

          • queequack says

            SallyStrange, you’re going to have to define “manipulation” here, because there’s a not-so-fine line between that and just putting one’s best foot forward. I find that a lot of PUA “strategies” are, at their root, mostly just variations on playing hard to get. Is that “manipulation”? I mean, maybe, in the same sense that nice clothes are.

            Also, Miri,

            But since I DON’T want casual hookups, the fact that I can get them is absolutely useless to me.

            Okay, but I might argue that we often want exactly what we can’t get, because if we can get it, it loses its appeal. The human condition, etc. I think I’m paraphrasing some straight white dudebro philosopher there.

          • daniellavine says

            queequack, by “manipulation” Sally Strange is obviously referring to the scenario discussed by Miri in the OP and again in response to your ridiculous, question-begging comments.

            Specifically, leading someone on into believing that there’s a relationship when it’s really just about sex to that person.

            For me, I’d take the latter, because at least you get some.

            You really need to stop attaching your sense of self-worth to how often you get laid. In fact, if you get over that you’ll probably find yourself getting laid more often anyway. If that’s even what you’re really looking for. I thought it was for myself but the few times I actually got it I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected — or very much at all, really.

          • says

            “Manipulation,” as in, pretending to be single when you’re not.

            As in, not announcing before fucking on the same day we met that you have an irrational, hypocritical prejudice against chicks who dig one-night stands, and as a result, you’re going to be a gigantic douchebucket to me in the morning.

            That sort of thing, you disingenuous chucklehead.