Monday, July 16, 2007

A Hopeless cry for help

A reader asked for my advice, and since I know her problem is a common one (many a woman will shout, “can I get an amen?” when they read this), I got her permission to answer her on the blog.

Q: I'm a 33-year-old, attractive, single, six figures, no kids, never married, never engaged, African-American woman. I'm living in Charlotte now and ready to meet a guy who I can get into a possible relationship with.

I've attended several events where I knew men around my age would be in hopes of meeting someone. Well, I guess I am a little "old school," because I like for the men to approach me. But after talking with some of the men on my job, they all say the same thing: if you want us, come and get us (in other words I have to be the man now and they are the girl). Its 2007 and the men have become liberated?!

Needless to say, I'm still single. I'm not sure if I should wait on them to make eye contact with me and wink or what. Should I also offer them my lipstick and bra? I'm confused -- am I the man or the woman and at which point should I act like the man or the woman? I have heard men say that they don't want a woman to be too aggressive ... OK. What do men want now?

Feeling Hopeless in Charlotte

A: Hopeless, girl, I feel you. I'm no relationship expert, but this topic has come up in conversations with my girlfriends, so I'll tell you the same three things I've discussed with them.

First: Never do anything that makes you uncomfortable. If you’re uneasy, that probably means you’re acting in a way that is not true to yourself. People often behave in a manner they think others want, which leads to relationships built on unsteady foundations. Case in point: You ask what it is that men want, but the question should be what do YOU want. Stay true to yourself and when you find The One, you'll know he loves you for you, and not some mirage you've created.

Second: That “if you want us, come and get us” stuff is crap. Plenty of dudes believe their own hype and think they're players worthy of being fought over. Men who are looking for meaningful relationships will at least try to bypass the drama (no accounting for exes and family issues). Hold out for a man who'll treat you the way you want to be treated.

Third: Here's the deal -- women already make the first move. Haven’t you seen those Discovery channel shows about male-female attraction? A woman uses body language to let a man know she'd be receptive to his approach. (Sure, some clueless dudes will hit on anything in a skirt, but most men will wait for a sign.) See a guy you like in a store, in a bar, at the gym? Patiently wait until you catch his eye, hold the glance for a second, then look away. At this point the guy is going, "hey, is she ...?" and he's checking you out to see if he might be interested. If he is, he'll wait for another glance, which you'll give ... and this time, you'll hold it for a beat or two longer than the last one, and smile. Or if you pass by him, either stop to say hello (if you feel comfortable doing that), "accidentally" brush against him and apologize (it's fake and you both know it, but it works) or simply keep walking, again with the smile. Any man will get the message and make a move if he's interested. If it looks like he's waiting on you to come to him, move on -- you prefer men who make the approach, so this one is obviously not for you.

Now, Hopeless, don’t offer a man your lipstick unless he’s a drag queen who likes the shade (but be sure to wear lipstick in a color that flatters your skin tone and tastes good, in case there are kisses). And don’t offer a man your bra unless you want a one-night stand (but be sure that it’s a nice bra, because pretty lingerie makes you feel pretty).

Don't feel hopeless, Hopeless: Dating is hard for most of us singles, no matter where we are. Stay positive and go with your gut. If I run across a great guy I'll let you know, because you, sister, are a catch!


Anonymous said...

Single, successful, good guy here. And this is what I read.

Dear Deidre,

I'm so great, and yet guys won't come and fawn all over me. Why do I have to initiate conversation or approach a guy? Shouldn't they flock to me?

Sincerely, I'm so hopeless.

And that's a load of crap. And if that's the vibe I'm getting from a girl I'm not hanging around long either. If you're too good to approach someone then don't bother wondering why you're alone. That isn't how it has to work every time, but if the perception of who you are in person is like how you wrote, you may need to reconsider things. This may not be how you wanted to get your point across, but that's how it came across anyway, and that in itself may be reason for you to step back and think about how you act. Don't cry about missed or lost opportunities when you do next to nothing with them yourself.

Anonymous said...

It's not that you're "too good" to approach -- it's that you're a GIRL. You want to be approached, flattered, won over. It's a feminine thing to want to be "dominated" -- not that plenty of females and males don't switch up roles or break the mold -- even in social situations, and we want a guy to feel confident in himself and excited about us. Guys (the ones I'm interested in anyway) should be strong enough to do that!

Anonymous said...

Women's Liberation:

The shoe doesn't fit the same on the other foot.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with this comment
"That “if you want us, come and get us” stuff is crap. Plenty of dudes believe their own hype and think they're players worthy of being fought over. Men who are looking for meaningful relationships will at least try to bypass the drama"

When a man is completely smitten by a women, he will make the first move and approach her.

Anonymous said...

"When a man is completely smitten by a women (sic), he will make the first move and approach her."

And if it were a woman smitten by a man? Well, he's just supposed to be psychic, pick up on her vibe, and come over with the absolutely purr-fect thing to say, being careful to avoid being sexist, or too strong, or too wimpy; more Goldilocks-like "just right" and then she MIGHT acknowledge his existence?

Keep holding out AND your breath!

Anonymous said...

Well it is simple if you find someone attractive that you would like to conversate with approach them male of female. Otherwise don't complain about not being approached. It is 2007!!!

btw I am an african american male

Anonymous said...

Deirdre, what makes you think Hopeless is a catch? She writes:
"I'm not sure if I should wait on them to make eye contact with me and wink or what. Should I also offer them my lipstick and bra? I'm confused -- am I the man or the woman and at which point should I act like the man or the woman?"

That passage shows 1) insecure passivity; 2) sarcasm (offer a bra and lipstick?); 3) confusion (when should I act like a man or a woman?).

I bet most men couldn't care less that Hopeless makes 6 figures and is attractive.

If she can't be flexible in her approach to life and doesn't have the confidence to meet a man's eyes or cannot stop herself from belittling men for not doing what she wants, why sign up for that insecurity and snottiness?

--Signed, a 40-year-old woman who makes 5 figures, is 10 pounds overweight, doesn't play games, and found her soul mate at 35. My husband's first conversation with me? "Wow, it's nice to meet a woman who is direct and doesn't play games."

36yrold White Guy said...

Hopeless, take Deidre's advice. Give the look and the smile. Guys are constantly scanning the room just to see if they are getting any attention. If you get the opportunity to brush up against the guy always face us. It lets us know you are interested and is a great opportunity for some close up eye contact. Also as you do more of this you'll get more comfortable. Don't be affraid to buy us a drink. If the bar isn't too busy the bartender will deliver it for you. If the guy is interested he'll come over. I would. You don't want guys falling all over you so dress a little sexy but don't go to far. Know what you want is the biggest thing. Are you looking for anything specific? Watch guys for a while before you start making you moves.

Anonymous said...

Deirdre is right. Lots of us can relate to Hopeless. I've heard the same thing from men. Approach us; we're flatterd. (As if women aren't flattered by being approached???) If approaching first is the woman's personality, then that's great. What happens when it's not your personality, however, is often a disaster. Your nerves show. The conversation doesn't flow if it ever gets started at all. Unless he's charmed, he's turned off by your low confidence level. (Many men say confidence is a turn on.) My theory here is you approached a guy who wasn't interested in you ... or your type.
Hopeless, go somewhere where you are comfortable being yourself, can talk maybe in a group and then perhaps continue the conversation with someone who is interested in you. It will be totally natural and you might not even remember who made the first move. ... Also there really are guys who do make the first move. They are nice and fun, smart... varied ... but they are not usually Brad Pitt anymore than you are probably Angelina Jolie.

Anonymous said...

I know where she is coming from. It is hard to meet a guy, but it is a 2 way street. After living here for about 2 years now, I finally met someone who I can connect to. He is younger than I am and doesn't make as much money, but he's nice and we have fun together. Maybe you should try dating a white guy and leave the black ones alone...I've noticed a lot more black women dating men of other races and they seem to be happier. Just something to think about.

Anonymous said...

"Single, successful, good guy here" You sound bitter and not so hot to me!!! I've noticed that guys are not the same as they used to be either. Men in their 20's and 30's don't exert the same confidence as older men and they do tend to think it is more about them (don't get me wrong, we can think the same thing). There are some things that many of us women like to keep traditional. I mean, when you think about it, we do make the first move...they eye contact, the smile, the gentle touch, etc...all you have to do is respond and have a little conversation. I mean, men are the FIRST ones to say they like confidence, but if a woman is not Angelina Jolie, but is confident, you wouldn't notice anyway b/c she is not "pretty" her self esteem may go down a bit.

Women know what they be in a relationship with a man who they can depend on and he can depend on them. MEN are the ones who go thru this whole roller coaster ride of emotion...should I commit? What if the hag down the street wants a shot at this? My ONE little penis needs to shop around some more to see if there is something else out there. Give me a break!

Anonymous said...

I had no problem meeting men when I lived in NY, there are so many public spaces for people to mix. On line at the bank or checkout counter, waiting for the train, going to the museum, sitting in the park...Here, it seems limited to church, work and bars. If you're not in a pew every Sunday, are against dating coworkers and are not a barfly-- what to do?

Where do single middle aged people meet in Charlotte? So many of us want to know ! I have both male and female friends that haven't met anyone decent since they moved here.

John said...

Hmmm, well I admit that things seem a little confusing these days! I think many men hesitate to make that first move, because we fear that a woman will say we are sexist or something. And, women know they hold the cards in the game, and they can flip things anyway they want them. I've dealt with some who seem to suggest that they want to talk to me, by dropping comments in my ear, and when I approach them, they say there's nothing there. So I think the real difficulty is that both men and women just play too many games!

Anonymous said...

Having read this post, and being an African-American male, I've already made some assumptions about this damsel in distress. So as to not offend anyone here--especially said damsel--let me simply say this:

The woman who ended up marrying me made the first move.

For someone like me, who didn't have a great deal of confidence in dealing with women, which was further eroded by the fact that otherwise smart women seem to want the very type of man who is absolutely the worst for them, that was a tremendous relief to me.

There were no corny pickup lines, no posturing or posing. It was just someone expressing an interest in getting to know me. And because that pressure was taken off me at the onset, I felt comfortable just being me and not trying to put on a front.

Men have been conditioned in our society so that they feel they must make the first move. But women, having fought long and hard for equal opportunity in business, the military, and other facets of life, should feel equally free to approach a man and strike up a conversation or ask a man out. Contrary to popular belief, many men do not think less of a woman who knows what she wants and doesn't resort to silly games to try and get it.

So, dear damsel, the way I see it, you have one of two options:

1) You can continue to sit around and wait for Mister Right to show up on your doorstep, or

2) You can take the initiative and find Mister Right.

A confident, forthright woman who doesn't need a man is a very sexy thing to me. You, my dear damsel, will be surprised at how many other men feel the same way, if you just give them a chance.

Anonymous said...

to ano 10:37am
Charlotte has been voted the worst place for singles.

Anonymous said...

The "damsel" responds:

Thanks for the responses to my post (positive and negative). I would like to say that my confidence is fine (never knew I was a damsel...thanks i think)...its just that I feel discouraged at what I've seen so far. You go thru college, make some personal accomplishments, take care of yourself in every way possible, takes advantage of living life...but one day you realize that you need something your girlfriends and family can't give. That sums it up for me. After 15 years of dating...I'm tired of the hustle and would like for someone who is real to approach me. And yes, I am considering dating outside of my race to open my options.

You see, I am usually the aggressor and it has not worked out. I want to be on the receiving end of being pursued for a change. As a woman, we like to give you something to think about, but I haven't really met anyone who gives me anything to think about (and in all fairness, they may have felt the same way). I wanted to step back and let the man take charge for a change and see how things would go.

I'm not saying anything uncommon (to either sexes)...I'm just feeling that the roles have changed to the point that its become confusing and is no longer fun. I know that this is the only part of my life that is "missing" and has been for years. I don't care what anyone need to have intimate, personal relationships that help you learn to share yourself on a deeper level. And right now, I want a mutual, emotional, sensual, and spiritual, connection.

Take care everyone, I hope you have love, and I admit that I am a hopeless romantic ;)

unicorn1824 said...

It's a matter of what you happen to like and how you were raised. I suspect most men prefer to be the aggressor but most of us have gotten conflicting messages as to what we're supposed to do. I just take it one step, one person at a time.

BTW, I'm an unmarried white male but I LOVE successful intelligent women of any color. How do I get to meet you? (Talk about being aggressive... trying to openly ask you out in here....)