(This is a discussion thread, not an advice one.)
I’ve been thinking about this for a while and I’ve just watched House, so it was kinda inevitable. As we all know, there’s a long-standing belief that men should pursue women and a converse belief that women shouldn’t pursue them. This used to be the prevailing convention and probably still is. It has had varying intensity. Some people allow exceptions, some don’t. On the other hand, there’s probably always been some kind of backlash and the “what’s a girl gonna do” problem can’t be new. Additionally, modern times call for some more room for initiative by women. The fact that it’s already hard as it is probably plays a role too.
My personal feelings about the subject are more or less like this: men should pursue the same way men do, but it would be hard to forbid them (esp. while being a man), women shouldn’t have to skip a man just because he’s oblivious of their interest and hasn’t read their minds, men are sometimes subject to various circumstancial factors and should not be held to a Latin grammar teacher’s standard, let alone have their worth as men solely or predominately on percentage expected initiative shown without considering the rest of their qualities.
When applying colder knowledge and logic, traditional positions do seem to gain advantage. A man does need to face the risk openly and take it bravely, he needs to keep his act together and wishy-washy attitudes in relationships are inappropriate. It does mean a woman is right in thinking the guy has some growing up to do yet. At the same time, it doesn’t seem proper for a woman to look out for men the same way men do for women. Not in singular cases, as everyone knows a story of a woman who picked up a man and we likely have at least one such couple among our friends and there’s nothing wrong with that - it’s the spice of life - but when it happens on a larger scale or habitually, it does seem to conflict with proper gender roles and the way we’re wired or the society “should” work.
However, as much as I was brought up on chivalric literature and I have certain resulting inclinations, there are some obvious issues with the traditional ways, which the same cold knowledge and logic requires pointing out:
- They expect men to be decided before they realistically can be, leaving no room for a normal process of getting to know someone and making an informed choice, plus, they force men to exaggerate and appear more certain than they are (I will reserve some blame for early to mid 20th century, i.e. the emergence of “dating” and “asking out”).
- They expose young women who don’t receive enough instruction or example to the risk of starting to think that men are barely worth talking back to, and everything goes through father or brother anyway.
- They force women to pretend they’re cold, unaffected and apathic.
Needless to say, #1 conflicts with honesty and responsibility and is superficial, #2 isn’t the best example of charity, may cause doubts as to consent (that no other human being can supplant for the woman) and may impede healthy relationships by instilling gender war schemes of thought, #3 is fast track to personality issues and insanity, not to mention it impedes growth and prevents the experience of emotions and feelings, which I see as a part of human experience.
- Focus on initiative - taken as a wide standard existing in fact, not in terms of personal preference (we have a right to those) - seems largely to exclude shy types, introverts, guys with less experience etc. (there’s an overrepresentation of Catholic men vis-a-vis the whole populace at least in the last category if not the previous two), while posing risk of falling for one of the “bad guys”, who as a rule tend to be bolder, react faster, assert more and be more ready to make purpose-oriented declarations.
It needs to be said that one doesn’t need to worry about the nerds or the shy types. As one website puts it, after 30 things can’t go wrong for an alpha geek. Shy types will be fished out if they don’t run away and as years pass, they’re probably more and more likely to be seen as humble and unassuming than as socially inept. Things won’t necessarily go equally well for the women who initially rejected them for a rebel. Plus, a guy is extremely unlikely to remain make-a-move-challenged past age 30 (developing commitment issues is more of a risk). It’s the women who risk more here. Men mostly risk just some unpleasant adolescent and young adult experiences that won’t keep them down forever and may actually make them better people.
To explain myself especially with regard to #1-4 above, I’m not a fan of dating. I don’t believe in wide pools and rosters, let alone romantic encounters on a non-exclusive basis with semi-random people, and I’m not a big fan of “pairing off”, either. I reject the idea of previous relationship experience with other people as requirement for healthy marriage, although I do believe that a person can’t develop in a full and healthy way without interacting with both sexes, friendship included, including conversations one on one. Finally, even though I believe neither in non-exclusive merry-go-lucky dating, nor in foolish pairing off, I don’t believe in arranged marriages or ones based on cold pros and cons. These premises affect my reasoning above (and below).