Monday, October 12, 2015

The Chasing Game

“A man who wants to make a relationship work will move mountains to keep the woman he loves.”
― Greg Behrendt, He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

            I remember the first time I decided I didn’t want to wait around for a guy to pursue me. It was in the seventh grade, and there was this really cute guy who I was way too afraid to talk to. Every time he looked at me and smiled, my first reaction was to hide. I was shy. But then he lost interest, or maybe assumed I wasn’t interested. I mean, it was seventh grade. Either way, I realized I had lost out on a chance, so I decided I didn't want to be shy anymore.

            I wanted to be this empowered confident female, or at least work my way on becoming one. I was growing up with “Girl Power” and listening to the Cheetah Girls sing about not waiting in a tower for prince charming to save her. Waiting around did not appeal to me at all. If I was interested in someone, and could do something about it, then I wanted to at least try. Though my aim was to be confident and empowered, it took nearly ten years for me to realize that I was doing something wrong.

            Since I was in high school, I started asking guys these question, “Do you want the girl to make the first move? Do you like being pursued?” Every guy my age always answered, “Yes.” They told me it felt good to know the girl was interested. It felt good to be pursued. They liked not having to put in the initial effort by making the first move, because it can be really scary for them. So, I listened to their advice, all throughout college too. And what I learned? What they were saying wasn’t true. At least not in any of my experiences, or the experiences of any girl I knew.

            I once wrote about how guys like to pursue girls (Are Women Prizes to be Won?), because they like the chase. It boosts their ego to know that they put in the effort to win over the girl they wanted. It makes them feel accomplished, happy, and more manly. This isn’t news for most people. But what about girls who make the first move or pursue guys? How does that make both men and women feel? I read through countless dating articles to try to figure this one out, but also had enough experience to know how I feel about this subject.

            First, guys can actually like it when a girl makes the first move. This all depends on the type of guy. Some guys might be uncomfortable with it, because he thinks it’s unladylike, he’s intimidated, he feels emasculated, or he’s just traditional. Personally, I think society is too hard on guys who think they should be making the first move. It’s not because they want to put women in their place – instead, it’s to allow them the opportunity to impress and woo the woman they’re interested in. It’s to show her how important she is to him. For guys who like it when women make the first move, they think it’s confident, sexy, and takes the initial pressure off.

            The phrase “first move” can definitely be interpreted in many ways, so let me make it clear what I mean. On Match.Com, Dave Singleton has a very good definition, “the first move doesn’t entail throwing yourself at a man. Acknowledging him with eye contact or giving him a smile is definitely a first move, and guys love the feeling of being flirted with by a woman.” EHarmony has some more advice on this subject, when a girl makes the first move, “It lets them know she’s interested (and it’s a real confidence boost!).” So, to all the women out there, don’t be afraid to let him know you’re interested. He’ll appreciate it and it stops a lot of the useless guessing games.

            But here’s the big mistake that happens, just because a girl can make the first move, doesn’t mean she should make the next few ones. EHarmony also adds, “Guys want and need to be part of the delicate dating chase. If you do all the work, they’ll just stop chasing.” Regardless of what any guy I’ve talked to has said, though he may like the idea of feeling pursued, no guy likes or appreciates a girl who came easy to him.

            Coming from the perspective of a girl who has pursued too many guys, I don’t think it’s something we should be doing. I am not saying girls shouldn't put in effort. I’m not saying girls can’t make the first move. I’m not saying we have to wait around for some prince charming and just be inactive. All those things suck. I’m saying that if you’re a girl, you are worth being pursued. You are worth letting a guy put in the effort to win your heart.

            For some reason, there are countless articles inspiring and encouraging women to go out and get the guy, be proactive, confident, and bold because guys love that. I understand the messages. Statistically, girls are more insecure than guys, so we need a lot of encouragement. We live in a growing feminist culture that is pro woman doing anything that men can do. Most importantly, the norm has always been guy chases girl, and this generation is all about breaking norms and traditions, especially when it comes to gender. So, I understand why those articles and advice exist. But what about all the reasons girls shouldn’t pursue guys? I didn’t find much of that. So, I’m going to discuss a few reasons.

            Stephen Hussey, co-writer of the book Get the Guy, gives a really good argument for why women can approach men and make the first move. Yet, underneath all of his pro-feminist talk, he still touches on some truths about men, truths that I used to hate, but have now accepted. Hussey says that women can approach men first, “As long as he feels like he pursued and earnt her attraction. See, it’s true on some level that men like to feel like they have done something to impress you, but there’s no reason this has to be on the initial approach.” He goes on to advise, “Even if you give a guy a flash of initial attention, you can now make it his job to try and keep your attention. This is what really makes him desire you and feel like you’re a prize.” I don’t understand what it is, but guys love to put in the work for someone they are genuinely interested in.

            There were only two articles I found that encouraged women to let men pursue them. One was on, where Miss Solomon gives insight on the chase between men and women. At the beginning of her article, she said something that hit home hard with me:
“I see it alot in dating. When a woman meets a man who acts aloof or ambiguous about dating her he instantly becomes incredibly desirable. Instead of being patient and strategic in her dating most women become impatient and borderline desperate. Even worse, they settle for treatment that is less than they deserve.” Yup. That has been me. It has been my friends. It has been other girls I hardly knew.

            In retrospect, I realize my reaction to guys who didn’t show interest in me was mostly fear-based. It’s embarrassing and pathetic for me to admit, but I know I am completely crazy when it comes to guys. I used to believe they made me feel insane, but I was making myself feel that way. In my head, when I met someone who had potential, I would take an interest. Often, it seemed he would take an interest too, but then somewhere down the line something would happen and it was like he was running away from me. It always made me feel like I had done something wrong, or worse, that something was just wrong with me because I scared guys away.

            So what did I do when they would start running? Well, chase after them of course! It even made me like that guy even more, becoming totally convinced that if I just got him to stick around, it would lead to my happiness. In reality, I was just scared of being alone. I had hope with those potential love interests, and it was too discouraging to admit to myself that they just weren’t right for me, because it felt like giving up and just accepting loneliness. I was chasing the wrong guys for the wrong reasons. I eventually learned that every guy who ran away either was just not interested or he was only interested in something casual and knew I wanted a lot more.

            This actually leads to the other article I found about why women should let men pursue them. Dennis Hong, in a very honest article, explains the kind of guy he used to be and what girls should look out for. He says that girls make excuses for guys, such as “he’s just shy, that’s why he hasn’t asked me out.” Hong argues, “that cute guy who flirts with you and acts interested, but never actually does anything about it… He’s not timid, or awkward, or nervous. He’s manipulating you.” How, you wonder? “This is the guy who’s not looking for anything serious (or, more specifically, not looking for anything serious with you), but wouldn’t be opposed to a casual fling,” says Hong.

            Hong explains that this guy may seem like a good guy, because he never makes a move on you and even tells you that he doesn’t want to hurt you or play you. Yet, if you make all the moves, he won’t stop you. Hong used to think, “if I let the girl make the first move, then I don’t have to be the douchebag who acts interested, gets the girl into bed, then dumps her immediately after.” This logic goes deeper, “If she makes the first move, then I’m the one being chased. And if I’m the one being chased, then I’m the one who was never sure about hooking up. And if I’m the one who was never sure about hooking up, then I have a perfectly valid reason to pull back at any time.” Hong adds that this guy often tries to do “the right thing,” but ends up rationalizing his way out of it. Don’t believe guys like this exist? I do, because I almost dated one. I chased a guy like this for months, who thought he was such a great guy, but ended up being the worst guy I have ever met. And because I chased him, and got hurt, he put all the blame on me.

            Now, I know these examples may seem extreme. How often can this actually happen? What is the harm in pursing a good guy? Well, there was another guy I pursued who ended up becoming my boyfriend. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever known. He did his part in wooing me, but I was never really happy with him. I felt like he really didn’t do anything to win me over, even though at the time I was completely against that kind of thinking. I came to easy to him, and even though he fell in love with me, I couldn’t get over the feeling of being unwanted by him.

            The majority of these examples are my own experience, which could be very different for other people. But I’m not the only one who believes women shouldn’t chase men. My parents have told me most of my life to not pursue the guy. My mom explained that I’m worth letting a man take me out and treat me right. My dad gave more concrete commands, saying, “Never go to a guy. Let him come to you. Don’t pick him up. He should pick you up. He should pay for the dates.” All of my uncles told me similar things. But I thought their thinking was old-fashioned and outdated. In truth, my parents were teens in the 80s and raised me in the 90s. They’re not that old, and definitely not old-fashioned.

            They gave me this advice for a good reason, which many other people also explain. Miss Solomon says, “If you’re dating a man who isn’t calling, texting or advancing the relationship then you’re just not dating the right guy… A man will show you who he is by how he dates you and communicates with you. If you aggressively pursue him then you run the risk of never seeing that side of him.” Hong says, “If I really like a girl, I’m going to make the first move.” Of course, there are exceptions. There are legitimately shy guys, woman who were successful in pursing the guy, and so on. The important thing is to know what you want, and do you really want to settle for anything less? Will you still be happy settling for less?

            I don’t have an archaic mindset. I don’t think a guy should put in all the effort and girls should be stuck waiting around for him. I do believe in equality. I believe in letting a man pursue a woman, because she is worth it and he wants to show her that. Women should also put in effort, and be thankful and appreciative of everything men do for them. Relationships are a two-way street. It can’t all be one-sided from either person, then it’s not really a relationship, at least not a healthy one.

"If a guy doesn’t call you, he doesn’t wanna call you. If a guy is treating you like he doesn’t give a shit…he genuinely doesn’t give a shit. If a guy gives you his phone number instead of taking yours, he’s not interested. And also, if a guy wants to see you, believe me, he will see you. If a guy wants to date you, he will make it happen, okay? He will ask you out."
 - Alex, He's Just Not That Into You


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