There is a disturbing phenomenon going on in the Public Dating World. You've been there before; you're going to dinner, holding hands, snuggling around town, finding excuses to whisper in each other's ear...and it's nice. Nice to be around someone you find attractive and who clearly enjoys holding you as much as you letting them. When this happens for me, I'm not always immediately sold on whether or not we're compatible beyond any of the above, but there is a certain delight in being open to finding out if there's anything more to it. But recently, I had the oddest experience of getting third-wheeled...by my ladyfriends! Everywhere we went, women aggressively flirted, fussed and fawned over my companion...when I was right beside him! At one point, a girl actually followed us and then sat in-between us- during church! I was stunned at the lack of civility and blatantly assertive behavior by women I considered to be friends.
Make no mistake; I didn't feel I had claim on the guy who was taking me out and who was continually by my side with his arm(s) around me everywhere we went. But I did feel like his outward actions made some sort of statement to the public world...perhaps not what we were defined as, but that we most certainly had something going on. While I didn't expect either of us to be exclusive, I was certainly not prepared for the lack of civility that occurred day after day when we were amongst "friends."
I hear women complain all the time that they hate feeling like they need to "compete" for attention from men. That women universally dislike being or feeling catty or threatened by other women. Even though no one enjoys this experience, somehow, it continues to be perpetuated. I've considered myself unusually lucky in being surrounded by women I know I can trust and who support me; but this latest experience threw me for a loop. Suddenly having women friends interrupt as I was planning a date with someone, being bumped out of my own conversation and ending up a third wheel...it was all very strange. At one point, deep in conversation with a man I was connecting with, a "friend" interrupted (citing a great desire to catch up with me); I gently informed her that I was in the middle of a discussion and I'd love to find her in a few minutes to catch up as well. She glibly acknowledged interrupting and then continued to stand between us until I walked away (since it was not actually ME she had wanted to "catch up" with).
It was like being on "The Bachelor." And nearly just as awful.
Here's the thing, ladies.
There is no such thing as another woman being your competition.
No. Such. Thing.
You may think you need to make yourself known to a man. You may fear you need to draw attention to yourself in order to be noticed. You may feel that the presence of another woman intrinsically draws attention away from you. I'm here to tell you; she does not. And here's why:
Men know what they want.
I'm not saying they're always smooth. I'm not saying they always approach relationships in an ideal way. I'm not saying men are graceful, suave or that their plans are always executed well (or in a timely fashion). I am simply saying that men know when they want to approach a woman and when they do not. And no amount of thrusting yourself in their face is going to affect their intrinsic interest in knowing you as a person. Sure, you'll get his attention momentarily. Sure, you'll get maybe five minutes of face time. He'll also be looking over your shoulder at every other person who walks by and you'll be pissed. Then, you'll spend the next four days creating excuses for his cagey behaviour. And when he still doesn't call, you'll start saying derogatory things about his character and doubting his masculinity before your girlfriends, amongst other such stereotypically petty slanders. (Sorry, boys. It's true. This is how the social aftershock works.)
The problem is not that he doesn't have the courage to ask you out. The problem is not that he disrespects you or that he's mistreated or mislead you. The problem is that you forced yourself into the path of a man who would have otherwise not pursued you. And then, as he continues on his natural orbit of not noticing you, you are disappointed in having an expectation borne of your own efforts alone. You have worked yourself into a frenzy and wasted time and energy over someone who would have never gone out of his way for you to begin with.
On the other hand, there are men who will go out of their way to know you. I'm not saying they're the men you want going out of their way for you, but I am saying that they do exist. You know this is true because you know you have been approached by them before. We have all been pursued at some point or another, and while we cannot always choose who puts forth the effort, we can know with absolute confidence the difference between a relationship that is created because a man is interested enough to pursue something with you versus a relationship forced because you're continually creating reasons to interact with a man who otherwise has not put forth any personal effort to forge a connection with you.
The reality is that no amount of YOU putting yourself in front of another woman is going to make you automatically more attractive/interesting/"better" than her. Nor does it mean you are not attractive/interesting or someone else's "better." While men may find the attention flattering, all you are doing is feeding an ego; his. And, ultimately, feeding someone else's ego when it's unwarranted and he's done nothing to demand your attention or respect simply leaves you going out of your way for someone who otherwise would have not taken notice of you. And really, who wants someone like that in their life anyway?
So here's the lesson, ladies. We are not the enemy. We are not in competition. If anything, we are your best ally. Every one of us can name (easily!) five men we respect, admire and appreciate- but aren't interested in dating. Ever think that you could help a sister out and send him in the direction of one of your lady-friends who may be able to return an affection for him? It's more likely to happen than him sending you one of his bro's, that's for sure. What about introducing your girlfriend to someone at a party that you've met who's attractive...but you're not interested? How much do you think BOTH of them will appreciate the introduction and attention? The reality is that attraction exists; we gravitate toward certain people for a reason. Forcing a relationship by jumping your natural gravitational pull is less likely to create a new solar system than it is to place undue strain and pressure around your surrounding atmosphere.
So please. Don't hit on my boyfriend. If you're the one he's interested in, I'm sure he'll find a way to call you.