“Never a bridesmaid. Never a bride.” That used to be my expression that would describe the relationships, or the lack there of, my friends and I had with the opposite sex. It was an intriguing phenomenon. We were successful in our education, career, and life in general, but were failing in the dating game. Simultaneously, I was seeing clients in my practice, with the same presenting problem. This dilemma inspired me to investigate the research on relationships, as well as engage in my own interactive learning experiences (e.g., a plethora of practice dates). The common denominator I found with this dilemma is not all progressive feminism ideas work when it comes to romantic long-term relationships with the opposite sex. Based on this information I have developed a few basic rules to help those of you who would like to be successful in the dating game.
Rule #1 Always let him be one step ahead (or at least act as if he is one step ahead.)
It may have started innocently with the Sadie Hawkins dance in middle school, by the girl asking the guy to the dance, but it has been shown to be detrimental for women seeking long-term relationships. Examples of breaking this rule may be asking the guy for his phone number or saying the “L” word before he does. With the belief that woman should be able to do anything a man can, I tried both of these. Both were an epic fail. Men gravitate towards a challenge. The more he has to work for a woman’s affection the more he will appreciate her and ultimately take care of the relationship. Think about it this way. Would you treat Louis Vuittons shoes different from Sketchers? Of course you would; you would have to work harder to earn them. The same idea works with men; they are not that complex. Now I can also speak from experience, when I had followed this rule. I cannot explain the amazing feeling this causes in a 1000 word article, but I can guarantee it is worth being patient and following this principle. Being pursued is one of the great perks of being a female, and we should embrace it.
Rule #2 Abdicate a bit of your independence.
Many years ago I bought a foreclosed house. It was a goal of mine to fix it up with the help of my fiancé. That is until we broke up. There I was left with this house that was filled with “man work” to do all by myself. One afternoon, after coming in from the pool, I was determined to lay the tile in the master bath, all by myself. Without even changing out of my bikini, I cut the tile with the wet saw and laid it piece by piece. It was a liberating experience! At that point I proved to myself, that I can do a “man’s job” and even look better doing it. Despite this revelation, it did not help me in all aspects of my life. I found this attitude of being independent and not needing a man to work against the goal of finding love. In my own unscientific research of discussing this theory with men, I have found 100% of them with an overwhelming response, agreeing with the statement “A man needs to be needed.” If he does not feel needed in the relationship, he will find someone who does need him. It is biologically innate; a man wants to be a woman’s knight in shining armor. This is as close as it is going to get to those Disney Fairytales we were raised on. So while I appreciate the fact that I can be independent, if absolutely necessary, I love being in a relationship knowing I can rely on a man. Ladies, we have proven that we can adapt to the historic male roles so much better than they can adapt to ours, but it makes life so much easier and happier when we can rely on them.
Rule #3 When it comes to sex, make him wait! The sexual revolution in the 60s and 70s pushed and succeeded in sexual freedom for all. However, this too is working against women pursuing long-term relationships. I once had a guy tell me “If you would have slept with me on the first night, I would have thought you were a….” I quickly responded by saying “Well what would that have made you?” Unfortunately, double standards still exist. I lost count on how many conversations I had about this topic with the opposite sex. The responses were the same. After sleeping with a woman on the first date, he wonders how many guys she did that with, and immediately disqualifies her as wife material. The main culprit in this dilemma, is the male sex hormone, testosterone. This hormone causes males to be turned on through visual attraction, causing him to be solely focused on one thing. If he gets what he wants before an emotional connection is established, then he is significantly less likely to stick around for a relationship. If the woman makes him wait, then he starts to become emotionally attracted as well as attached, while he tries to sexually pursue her. While this may not seem fair, I prefer to have an optimistic view on the topic by emphasizing the power this gives us while laying the foundation for a healthy relationship. In addition, because there is sexual tension built up and an emotional connection, he will automatically have a greater sexual experience with that woman when sexual intercourse finally occurs.
I have the utmost appreciation and respect for all of the strides females in history have made for us, so that we may have the freedom to enjoy a fulfilled life. However, we must acknowledge there are some gender differences that we cannot change, and it benefits us when we embrace these differences. By following these set of rules, many of my clients have found love and I have been able to change my expression from “Never a bridesmaid, but finally a bride!”