Dating the Independent Woman

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Picture this.

I’ve been seeing a guy – let’s call him Tim – for about a month. Tim and I get along great and our chemistry is off the charts. He’s a nice, consistent guy, and we see each other about twice a week. We send text messages throughout the day; I’ve even met his friends on one occasion. Since I really like Tim and see a future with him, (picket fence, 2.5 children, weekend trips to Wisconsin), I’m trying to be a “good girl,” so I’ve held out on the bedroom scenario even though my love life has been drier than the Sahara on the hottest day in July, and the last time I shared a bed with anyone it was most likely a lunar eclipse. No one’s defined the relationship yet, so technically we are in the midst of some type of interesting dating limbo, and to pose the question “What are we doing here?” to get clarification would most likely send Tim running.

However, I REALLY like Tim and I’m one pinot grigio glass shy of throwing the good girl out the door and letting my vixen reign.

According to most dating books and advice columns, this tipping point is supposedly bad news for my future with Tim, as my biggest negotiating power, the “Capital P” (that for decades has successfully made boyfriends and husbands out of so many) is in serious trouble. If I were to follow “the rules” (which according to Steve Harvey say I should wait 90 days before I give it up and “keep the cookie in the cookie jar”), I should politely leave Tim at the door with a kiss on the cheek and wonderful fantasies about me and cozy up to my dildo until he asks me to be his girlfriend.

*Cue angry vagina*

Messages such as “he won’t buy the cow if he can get the milk for free” and “don’t give it up until you get what you want” are alive and well within today’s dating manuals, despite the fact that we live in an otherwise relatively progressive period of time. Grab any dating book or read any dating blog and the message is usually quite the same: “Keep your legs closed, make him chase you, play the game” and “That is how you get a boyfriend, ladies! Ta da.”

Because when it comes down to it, men will do anything for sex. Like fall in love with you… if you play the game right.

It’s 2014, right?

Now, before we get our panties in a knot, I know that there are many double standards, not all men are created equal and that the above is an extreme – if not outdated – generalization. I acknowledge that men are more than a gender driven by sex alone and also have evolved in their views of women and relationships. So I shouldn’t buy into any of the above – this is 2014 and we have evolved.

But have we?

While on the surface these traditional messages make sense to the cultural evolution of heterosexual dating and courting, both statements inherently give the man the power in the situation while defining a woman’s sexuality around something that she gives versus something she actively controls and honors as a self-aware person on her own terms and timing. The best-seller Why Men Love Bitches (which yes, I’ve owned two copies in the past) says, “You should give out your sexual favors from your ‘candy store’ like Jujubes- one at a time, and slowly. A man must earn your sexuality – with time, attention, dinners out and commitment.”

jujubes

Jujubes? Really?

My vagina is now a brick-and-mortar. What’s the big deed then – Willy Wonka Fu@%ing Factory?!

*Cue angry vagina again*

The passive person in this scenario is the woman, and she becomes something to conquer with bartering techniques. Nice dinner and ballet tickets? Deposit Jujubes. Spend time with my nieces on Sunday? Deposit more Jujubes. Tell me you love me after two months and book a flight to meet my parents? WILLY WONKA FACTORY! HOLLLAAA!

Let me rebut your rebuttal. I get that men and women think about sex differently and introducing it too soon can bring on all sorts of emotional trouble. We are not wired the same and I see value in the male as the “hunter” and woman as the coy role-player. This has been the basis of our culture for so long – not because it regresses the woman (even though it does), but because it excludes the fuzziness that can come from sex and allows the true relationship to come forth — the one based on mutual respect, understanding and deep attraction. But as I’ve gotten older, I’m hard pressed lately to wonder if we need to write in some amendments to the playbook.

Take for instance the alpha female. Like me. I’m a confident woman. When I want something, I go get it, and in my thirties, I know what I want from a man emotionally, mentally and physically. I don’t need to spend time beating around the bush and doing the old high school song and dance of “chase me”. Yet when it comes to dating, I still have the little voice on my shoulder telling me to play coy, keep my mouth shut and and let him lead the way and pursue me – waiting for him to give me some sort of clue that making a decision to satisfy my own sexual needs and make a deeper connection by consummating our relationship won’t result in me “losing the game.”

And that, quite frankly, pisses me off.

One critic recently wrote on how the media has it all wrong in her take on a recent episode of The Bachelor where one of the girls let her inhibitions go thinking that she had the green light – only to get chastised for it …

“At her own expense, Clare exposed The Bachelor’s sexual ethos, which is that the women are supposed to be relatively innocent and chaste, up until the moment the man calls on them to stop being so. (While Clare and Juan Pablo were doing the deed, another contestant—a 32-year-old single mother—was chortling that Juan Pablo had finally kissed her, like a teenager celebrating her first smooch. She was playing the game correctly.) If Clare had bided her time and waited however many episodes until Juan Pablo invited her into his fantasy suite, she would have been celebrated as a woman willing to make herself vulnerable for love. Instead, she got the easy-woman edit and a scolding about sexual propriety from a guy proudly wearing multiple women’s spit. It may be hard out here for a pimp, but it’s way harder for a bachelorette.”

I culturally get why this still exists. I was raised in the South, which means I know exactly how to play into these gender roles. And if getting a man was all I really wanted, I would have followed the “playbook” a long time ago. But I don’t want to get a man for the sake of getting a man, I want to get a man for the sake of getting someone who respects me and the woman I am – which is a woman that is confident enough to play by her own rules and not the rules of tradition. When and how I decide to invite a man into my room shouldn’t matter.

I’m mad that I’m living in a current dating culture that places restraints on my sexuality as a single, dating woman but not the same restraints on my counterpart. I’m pissed that while men can engage in the post-coitus high-five over beers, women are left sulking in self-judgement in the Plan B aisle, and I’m annoyed that we have a media and authors that continues to maintain positions that are antiquated and outdated.

Dating is a two way street, and we are dealing in a dilemma where the sexually independent woman is colliding with traditional morals and values all in the honest pursuit of love. She is losing the battle between her desires (sexual freedom and romantic love) and is being chastised for it when things don’t work out. And we are allowing it to happen.

And this is a problem.

Traditional courtship may have been all fine and dandy back in the day, and “the chase” and “the game” may be culturally necessary to our biological makeup and evolution, but while our gender roles have shifted, the rules from our mothers and grandmothers generations have largely remained.

I suggest we stop teaching our women and our daughters that it’s up to men to define and control what she wants and that the relationship is a game that she navigates while he drives. I also suggest we start teaching our sons that’s it’s about mutual respect and communication and not how long she waits to give it up.  This is the day of the strong, independent and sexually in charge woman; a woman who can be both sinner and saint, mother and lover, supporter and needer. Let’s stop sending her the message that she shouldn’t be doing that because we are married to some paradigm and are too uncomfortable with female sexuality and gender role evolution. There’s a difference between a women who is sexually irresponsible and a women who is sexually in charge — let’s not put them in the same category.

You can bet your sweet cookie jar that a revolution is brewing.

Pull over boys – it’s time to let the alpha female take the wheel.

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