Dating can feel like a game, and some women report feeling like they are stuck in the role of chasing men to gain even a little interest. What used to be a game of cat and mouse, today feels like two people playing chicken. Both the man and woman expect the other to lead the chase and show their hand. Neither person invests much energy and potential connections are missed.
The question: who’s chasing whom?
It used to be that a man pursued a woman he was interested in romantically. In today’s society with more singles, there is a so-called ‘paradox of choice’ happening. The paradox is that with more options people are less likely to choose any one person.
Also, people’s expectations have gotten higher. Why should I settle, when a better partner might be only one swipe away?
Having high expectations for a mate, however, are not new. Women who grew up watching Disney and the movie the Notebook expect men to pursue and be gallant. In her fantasy, if a man wants to be with her he will slay a dragon, build her a house and write her a letter every day. Chasing men is not her idea of the role she wants to play or what she thinks romance looks like.
When reality doesn’t match the fantasy
In today’s more casual society men are less likely to wine and dine a woman. It’s not even called dating anymore. The new term ‘hanging out’ describes getting to know a person in a less formal way.
With the loss of formal courtship, there is much more ambiguity. What do these new changes look like?
Do I dress up to hang out?
Does he pay for my Starbucks?
How will I know he is romantically interested in me if he doesn’t pursue me?
While the process feels casual, the truth is that people are still falling in love. The difference is that the courtship process doesn’t begin until after two people catch those “loving feelings”. Two people fall in love then they decide to court each other. It’s that subtle, yet not so subtle change that has everyone feeling confused. The game of chicken has started because of this subtle shift.
The truth is that men want to feel desired and cherished as much as women do. Men have been more outspoken about feeling they are wasting time pursuing women who only want friendship. The literature on what makes for long-term successful relationships concludes that those couples who are more equal are happier.
Traditional relationships are a thing of the past. This equality translates to most things including household chores (a very common complaint later on in relationships).
If the ideal relationship thrives on more equal terms, this means that neither the man or woman chases. Both parties find a way to connect, pursue, court and explore what’s possible with a potential mate.
Being successful means you stop chasing Men & quit playing chicken with your partner.
Here are five ways how to find love in modern times.
If you are a woman you can show a man you’re interested without chasing or feeling like you’re desperate.
- Give him green lights: women look for red flags and men look for green lights. On a date make sure you are giving a fair number of green lights. While you may think you are obvious men are sensitive to rejection. Try to be warm and friendly if you are interested. Be direct and tell him you would like to see him again.
- Ask why: instead of asking what he does for a living or what he does in his free time, ask him why he does what he does, why he finds meaning and value in things. You will find out so much more about his passion and values. First dates shouldn’t feel like an interview but rather an interesting exploration.
- Stay calm: if you are too anxious; you will over-talk or shut down, try to be calm and excited. Practice mindfulness and meditation, exercise before your date, do deep breathing and calm down first.
- Be confident: speak up about yourself and what you are looking for in a relationship with conviction. You can do this without overly boasting or bragging, but instead of talking about topics you feel positive, happy and strong about participating in. And never forget, confidence is contagious AND sexy. Time and again men report that confident women are the most attractive to be around and that is a good thing.
- Be vulnerable: get personal and talk about what’s important to you. Don’t be afraid to tell too much about yourself. When people share things that are personal you are more likely to feel closer to them.
A new take on old ideas…
On first dates, it was once the rule to stay away from controversial topics such as your ex, politics, or religion. While I would still avoid talking about your ex, go ahead and talk politics, religion and about your dreams. Many people connect with potential love interests by having things in common and/or mutual life goals. A shared interest in a cause, or point of view can go a long way in conversation, giving you the opportunity to open up and practice the 5 steps above.
Remember that time is precious. Because of this, the first date matters. If you don’t strike that proverbial cord with a date, your first meeting will certainly not lead to second ones if they are devoid of personal information. At the end of an average date you think, “sure I would go out with them again,” but now you are also competing with new matches who may do a better job of engaging on a first date. The best advice is to practice the 5 steps and learn from the process. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.
You need to stand out in order to not get lost in the sea of vanilla options. You don’t have time to waste. What forms a bond between two people is connecting on mutual topics, even if the topics are similar things two people hate (you can read more about that idea here).
If you are looking for someone with shared values and interests, it’s going to be hard to find this without talking about meaningful topics. When you are vulnerable there is no mistake that you are interesting and interested. While everyone wants chemistry it’s often more complex than mere attraction.
The Chicken Or The Egg?
One of the biggest worries women have in letting go of the pursuit fantasy is that if a man doesn’t chase her at the start, he never will. But is this true?
No, it’s often only the beginning of a relationship that is casual. As relationships become more serious over time and men catch feelings then it’s in his natural biology to want to provide, protect and to keep something he values. Men do pursue women but only after they know the feelings are mutual. A man wants to know that a connection is real and that he won’t be rejected, once he does then he feels freer to invest.
Bottom line, chasing men or playing chicken doesn’t work
Waiting for your Prince Charming or playing games with the men you meet, you are either waiting or pursuing, neither feels good. Dating can be fulfilling for both people when each person is taking responsibility for their part.
Dating is more satisfying when both partners are authentic and vulnerable. If you are interested in a person to say so, if not, say so. Good communication is less about the topic you choose to discuss but more about being comfortable in your own skin and focusing on making a special connection.
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