Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Sam: Gender Confusion Disorder


Recently there have been huge changes in the dating and flirting scene. For people who come out of a long term relationship, they have said to me that it is a little like stepping out of a time machine into a completely new world. Internet dating is now huge, speed-dating is commonplace, there is a whole new ‘Sex in the City’ generation of women who have grown up with powerful and different dating role models.

What you might have found, and certainly what many of my clients find, is that because of this, there is a lot of confusion about gender roles and what the new rules are. Who asks for the phone number? Who suggests the next date? Who makes the first move? Men don’t know if they should make the first move, women aren’t sure if they should be more assertive. I call this gender confusion disorder.

What you need to know is that though we are living in the 21st Century, effectively the rules for flirting have very much stayed in the 20th Century.

The question that many people ask is who does what? What are the new rules? Well a useful way to think about it is imagining that flirting is like a puppet show. The woman take the roles of the puppeteer and the man the role of the puppet. If you are watching them, it seems like the man is taking all the action. But in reality, it is the woman who is guiding and controlling what the man is doing – he is simply responding to her decisions. It is exactly the same with flirting and many people seem to forget this.

If you are the woman, you need to guide the direction you want the flirting to go. If you are a man, you need to respond to the woman’s guidance by taking action.

Key points for you if you are a woman:

* We live in the 21st Century, but generally gender roles are still basically the same as the 20th Century.
* If in doubt take the traditional flirting role
* Make it clear that you are interested
* Let the man take action
* Realise that men may be intimated by a very direct approach
* Play the puppeteer, not the puppet.


Key points if you are a man:

* You are the puppet on stage – you need to respond to the puppeteers orders!
* It is up to you to take action – either look for a flirting green light (see future posts) or on dating websites make sure you fit the criteria and then take action
* If in doubt, take the traditional male role


Essentially the gender rules for flirting are quite simple. The woman picks the men she is interested in and makes it clear that she is available. She guides the action – from first giving eye contact, to hinting that she would like to go out for a drink sometime. It is the man’s job to take action, watch out for the signals and act by starting a conversation with a women who gives you a flirting green light, asking for her phone number when she hints it might be fun to catch up for a drink, giving her a call and arranging the next date. If in doubt, stick to tradition.

I must end on a caveat. Flirting and dating rules are changing, but very slowly. It is OK for a woman to make the first move – what you have to realise is that if you break the traditional flirting rules, then there is the danger that things won’t go to plan. If you are very confident in approaching men, getting their phone numbers etc., good for you – but you need to stick to the task with gusto. If you are going to take that role, then stick to it! Don’t expect the man to suddenly start chasing you!

9 comments:

Rosie said...

This was a bit confusing. You mention that things are different today in dating, such as Internet dating and then give rules for the old chestnut of meeting in person.

Maybe because I'm a 'mature' woman who never really dated much back in the day it is all rather confusing.

Urbane Spaceman said...

For Odin's sake man, don't be creating new "disorders". We've got enough dubious "diseases" created by big pharma without you adding to them.

In the meantime I'm just going to hope I don't have to worry about this stuff again ;)

Boy said...

Whaaaaaaa? Are you telling me if I go out and successfully get a girls number, it was all her and none of my hard work? Gutted.

I'm off to re-assess my life.

Jack said...

Absolutely agree with everything. Great post, Sam. Especially the caveat about the women taking the role and sticking to it.

I'm tempted to say things are different today but only at a superficial level. We might meet people online, go through different rituals to get a phone number, send text messages instead of just calling but at the end of the day people are still going through the same process of attraction. It's no bigger a gap than, say, dating in the big city vs. dating in a small town.

Virago said...

"Flirting and dating rules are changing, but very slowly. It is OK for a woman to make the first move – what you have to realise is that if you break the traditional flirting rules, then there is the danger that things won’t go to plan. If you are very confident in approaching men, getting their phone numbers etc., good for you – but you need to stick to the task with gusto. If you are going to take that role, then stick to it! Don’t expect the man to suddenly start chasing you!

So if I don't act the submissive eyelash-fluttering wallflower I'm not going to get any cock? Bullshit. Firstly why should men and women follow these ridiculous gender roles and secondly if I were to "break the traditional flirting rules" does some kind of beacon light atop my head so from then on I can only act in that way?

This blog should be used to explain that yes, some people feel safe following these flirting traditions from the last century but real human beings with brains and spines realise that individuals will behave how they wish. I was very direct when asking men out for drinks and yes, I terrified a few of them but that's not my problem. I wouldn't want to spend time with somebody who couldn't deal with me being me. Whatever your gender just flirt, make eye contact, maybe a little conversation and then ask the other person (male or female) out for a drink or whatever.

If they can't deal with that because you're being too direct/not direct enough/not following the 'rules' do you really want to get to know them any better anyway?

He Who Bangs The Drums said...

I've never understood all this rules nonsense, and I've only ever seen myself as an individual governed by my own decisions however true that may or may not be in practice.

As a teenager I felt hopelessly inadequate but as I matured quite a few years before my peers I had by the age of seventeen lost patience with my own awkwardness. I decided that whilst I didn't feel attractive or particularly interesting I was definately interested in the opposite sex and didn't see why I should limit myself. In short, 'worthiness' or 'leagues' made little sense to me, it was time to couple up with someone who floated my boat.

I also disregarded the values my peers and the media put upon me. Did I find them interesting and attractive? Yes, so who cares what anyone else thinks!

Maybe I was lucky to be so over analytical, but my approach worked. I bowled into situations with women with maybe a little too much gusto, but I talked to them like the human beings they are and I had a lot of fun as a result.

A few relationships on and I'm happier than ever with my current partner, meanwhile the supposed rules of dating still mean very little to me.

I think the key is this: Treat potential dates with the same respect you have for yourself, and enjoy yourself. That's all there should be to it.

Ys said...

i gave my number to the guy i fancied and things worked out great! i never understood all the rules, either. i still don't. i doubt i ever will. it makes it more exciting :)

Anonymous said...

With virago and drums.
"Rules" - *yawn*. Just be yourself.
It's pretty stupid to suggest that actually, if someone takes on a particular "role" they should stick to it. We can all behave completely differently from day to day depending on mood. Is it impossible to imagine an equal, mutual relationship...you know, where *both* people fancy each other, would like to go out, and mutually agree to go for a drink? Huh? If I was doing all the asking out I would wonder if the other person really wanted to.

*And - bad post title. I seriously thought this was going to be about gender dysphoria, an actual medical condition.*

bloggorazzi said...

It's pretty simple really, all you have to do is be witty, charming and drop dead sexy. Or at least think you are. Other than that there are no rules.