Open thread: chiding women for turning men down

I’m hoping this sounds really, really bizarre, but does it sound familiar?

  • A man asks an available woman out.
  • The woman says no, thank you, because she’s not interested/not attracted to him/busy with her career or something else non-sexual that she cares about/is going through something tough to cope with and doesn’t need the complication of a new relationship.
  • Another woman who finds out about it – possibly even an alleged friend of the woman who was asked out – chides her for being so mean to the poor man.

Because this has happened to me more than once, and I don’t get it. It’s like, because the man screwed up his courage to do that, you owe him a date. It doesn’t matter how miserable you might be on this date. Doesn’t matter that maybe dating right now gives you anxiety attacks. Doesn’t matter if you’re still trying to sort out your feelings from a recent breakup. How could you be so cruel as not to date someone who’s asked nicely and wasn’t carrying a bloody chainsaw around at the time?

It also doesn’t matter how the man reacts. It doesn’t matter if he’s okay with it because he really had very little invested, or he appreciated your honesty, or he’s mature enough not to take rejection personally. Anyway I break down the reaction of the chiding woman, it seems to require the feeling that the asked-out woman has somehow neglected her duties as a woman.

Or is it that she thinks you’ve gotten away with something? Maybe she wishes she had turned down a few dates that easily instead of feeling trapped into giving a “yes” she didn’t mean, and in her envy, wants to put you down.

Anybody have any ideas?

Comments

  1. sbg says

    “You’re still single because you’re obviously too picky. He seems like a nice enough guy. Isn’t that good enough for you?”

    I think we’ve all heard variations of this at one time in our dating lives. For me it all boils down to how absolutely vital it is for everyone to be in couplehood, as if that’s the standard that has to be met in order to have a fulfilling life.

  2. sbg says

    Whoops, posted too soon.

    In other words, it’s better to be with someone you’re not really interested in than to be alone.

    So. Many. Things. Wrong. With. That.

  3. says

    I think it relates to the idea that women basically exist to please guys, that we’re meant to be available to them at all times. I know what you mean about women policing that behavior, but I don’t think the idea actually originates with women. Part of women’s socialization, after all, is policing other women’s femininity.

    I’m reminded, for instance, of the post on Shapely Prose about how maybe women just don’t want to talk to strange men all the time (or ever), and how if we’re not making eye contact or speaking to them or engaging in some other explicitly welcoming behavior (other than being female in public, which our culture perceives to be “welcoming” no matter how a woman might really feel), then maybe guys should leave us alone. You know, the radical idea that women have other stuff on their mind than engaging with men, and that when men force their presence on us socially, it’s invasive and even threatening.

    The backlash against that post was really terrifying. I wish I could say it was shocking, but it wasn’t. The situation you describe seems, to me, to be related to the attitudes that came out in response to that post.

  4. says

    Welcome to my life.

    I’m constantly having this conversation with my friends — I’m sorry, but someone else’s emotions/desires are not my problem! :P

  5. says

    This situation sounds very familiar to me, as does stranger-dude asks me out and then gets waaaaay over the top upset that I said no.

    Are we not allowed to have preferences? Our own opinions?

    The only reason to get upset that a woman won’t date you, FOR WHATEVER REASON or that a woman won’t date a friend of yours FOR WHATEVER REASON is if you believe every woman owes a date to each and every man who asks. Are men obligated to ask out every woman who isn’t actively boiling a bunny at the moment? No? Well okay then.

    Someone not being interested in you isn’t a referendum on your character or attractiveness.

  6. Anemone says

    I guess I should be grateful that the only woman who’s pulled this on me is my mother. I keep reminding myself, every time I hear her voice in my head, that the first stage of dating is attraction, and it’s not a good idea to skip stages if I want intimacy in a relationship. But I guess not everyone understands the concept of intimacy or authenticity in relationships.

  7. FM says

    I once considered dating a certain person but decided not to after he showed some signs of possessiveness and codependency, and my mom thought I was being so mean for not giving him a chance. Later, when I dated someone who ended up being abusive towards me, she said, “But you’re such a responsible person! Why didn’t you know to stay away from people like him?”

  8. says

    I wonder if guys ever do the flip side–chide a friend for not asking a woman out (the male equivalent of saying “no, thanks”).

    Actually now that I think about it, the first episode of FlashForward had that exact scenario but I still wonder if it’s used with the same frequency as amongst women…?

  9. says

    Oh god, I get this constantly. I got brought to “give him a chance” (said with a whine in the last word, chaaaaaaaance), and I dated a lot of guys that I had zero interest in, STILL had zero interest in after the date, I HADN’T “changed my mind,” and now the guy thought I really liked him back. Awkward and mean. I felt like I was leading them on for being normally pleasant, but they assumed, reasonably, that because I said yes, I was interested and liked them.

    Nowadays I practically have a seizure every time someone tells me I’m too picky and should give men a chaaaaaaance. The only times I’ve ever been glad I gave a guy a chaaaaaaaaaance were two out of the three times I agreed to the date before meeting the guy in person. If I already know I don’t like him in the flesh, I really am not gonna have a miracle occur if I actually date him. Yes, I know you were “friends first” with your guy, but it doesn’t work that way for me. If I wanted him as a friend, as opposed to someone I’d be just as happy never to see again much less date, maybe, but I DON’T LIKE HIM. Why must they nag me to?

  10. says

    My family just laughs and calls the relevant daughter a femme fatale. Occasionally someone will say, “Oh, the poor man!” but always in a sense of, “It’s a shame for him, but he’ll have to live with disappointment” rather than, “How could you do that to him?!”

  11. amymccabe says

    I’m flashing back to that guy that asked me out and my mother badgered me into accepting night and day until I finally did. I did not care for the guy before the date, really didn’t care for him at all after the date. I suppose he was nice from my limited contact with him, but he was nearly the exact opposite of all that I want in a man.

  12. amymccabe says

    @sbg

    I single woman is a dangerous thing! Without a man to keep her in line, she might start thinking thinky thoughts! Who knows where that madness might lead!

    /snark

  13. says

    I know what you mean about women policing that behavior, but I don’t think the idea actually originates with women. Part of women’s socialization, after all, is policing other women’s femininity.

    I totally agree.

    I’m sorry, but someone else’s emotions/desires are not my problem!

    Imagine this thinking applied to money: “Hi, pretty lady, could you give me $100?” The chiding woman would be all, “What a tool!”

    I wonder if guys ever do the flip side–chide a friend for not asking a woman out (the male equivalent of saying “no, thanks”).

    From what I’ve heard, men tend to advise their friends in exactly the opposite direction: “Dude, she’s like 5 pounds overweight! You can totally do better!”

    The only times I’ve ever been glad I gave a guy a chaaaaaaaaaance were two out of the three times I agreed to the date before meeting the guy in person. If I already know I don’t like him in the flesh, I really am not gonna have a miracle occur if I actually date him.

    Totally can hear that “chaaaaaaaance” echoing from conversations I’ve had, too. It might work for some people, and that’s great for them, but some of us are really good at first impressions and they don’t change later on. (The only times I’ve revised first impressions because everyone pressured me to, I have *regretted* the hell out of it, because my first impression was right, and the person really didn’t have my best interests in mind at all.)

  14. SunlessNick says

    I wonder if guys ever do the flip side–chide a friend for not asking a woman out (the male equivalent of saying “no, thanks”).

    Outside of Jennifer Kesler’s answer, the equivalent when it does come to chiding tends to centre on the notion of the guy failing himself – not going for what he should, what he deserves. Not in terms of failing the woman.

  15. says

    When I was first reading it, I was like “I’ve TOTALLY done that!”

    Except it was a dance, at a Halloween party, and the guy was totally hot, and I was like *faepalm!* that my best friend had turned him down. I think I secretly was hoping that if she was going to turn him down, she’d at least point him in my direction.

    I’ve heard the “you’re too picky” line before, but I don’t actually recall from who. So it must not have been important.

  16. salla says

    I hate how bad it makes me feel when people do that. I work in retail and sometimes I’ll get guys who don’t realize that my friendliness is not personal and is in fact customer service. They’ll either hit on me or ask me out all the while saying how much they love how nice and friendly and cheerful I am.
    I am a naturally polite and friendly person, its just in my nature and it makes me good at my job. I don’t even understand how they can even think that it is appropriate, they can’t seem to realize through their own privilege that even if I don’t like them I have to grin and bear it because they are the customer. Even if I am deeply skeeved out I can’t even tell them to get lost I have to be polite unless they’re actually slapping me on the ass(which thankfully has never happened yet).
    And then I’ll sometimes get my mostly female coworkers asking why I won’t give a guy a chance. I mean mostly my coworkers are just teasing because they get same thing but sometimes they’re actually serious and it really hurts my feelings and pisses me off. Not only does it make feel like I’m being too harsh and picky but it makes me wonder about my coworkers opinion of me if they feel like I belong with some deeply socially awkward unattractive creep. And all that pressure is rendered moot anyway with the fact that even if I wanted to I don’t have the time or money to date right now even if I was interested.
    And I am deeply sorry that this somehow turned into an essay.

  17. Maria V. says

    Hey Salla —

    The rage this fills me with (AND HOW COMMON IT IS!) makes me totally sympathize with the lack of commas. I swear to god, if I had a nickel for every time I had to point this out (apparrently big boobs means you HAVE to date every man staring at your chest!) I’d be a goddamn millionaire.

  18. Anemone says

    Salla, I once made the mistake of going out for dinner with someone who came into the store I was working in, chatted me up, and asked me out. It was agony! I’d forgotten it until you mentioned working retail and being friendly to customers.

    If this is such a huge issue with so many women, why don’t we have a ton of chick flicks on the subject already???

  19. says

    I don’t even understand how they can even think that it is appropriate, they can’t seem to realize through their own privilege that even if I don’t like them I have to grin and bear it because they are the customer. Even if I am deeply skeeved out I can’t even tell them to get lost I have to be polite unless they’re actually slapping me on the ass(which thankfully has never happened yet).

    Salla, that’s exactly how privilege works, and you should be proud you see through it rather than feel “harsh and picky.”

    Privilege is set up to keep the person who has it from realizing how much power he has. The customer in a customer service situation may not even realize how constrained you feel – he may assume that if you told someone “Piss off”, your boss would back you up. So he’s going along, thinking whatever exchange you have is motivated by personality rather than your need to earn a living and not get fired.

    That’s an extreme example. I usually find it hard to believe people DON’T realize the power they have in situations like that.

  20. sbg says

    When I was at the hotel five long years ago, I had some guy take an instant shine to me, insist I take a rather large tip (for doing nothing but smiling) and then proceeded to ask me out repeatedly. I always politely declined. Then he moved back to Italy, from where he’d call the hotel during my shift to chat with me despite me giving him no indication of interest.

    When he pushed for my home phone number so he could call at more convenient times, he was honestly stunned and angry that I would not give it to him.

    W.T.F.?

    So, yeah. Being friendly in a customer service job is … the job, not flirtation. Necessarily. Sometimes, maybe. But when the “no” is said, that should be it. The end. I’ll still smile at you as you pass through the lobby – that is not a come-on.

  21. says

    When I go to a bar or restaurant to have a drink or a meal by myself, it is not license for guys to come by and talk me up. I’m alone because I want to be during those situations. And I feel like I’m being rude when I just don’t want to talk to someone. Maybe I’m there to think, or to write, or read a book. Why am I suddenly a bitch because YOU engage me in conversation that I never asked for? And as others have noted, why is friendliness translated as flirting? Bugs me!

  22. Karakuri says

    That’s unbelievable. My friends would be more likely to be floored if I’d /accepted/ some random guy’s advances… But that’s why they’re my friends. It’d be so alienating to hang out with someone who chides me like that.

  23. says

    the equivalent when it does come to chiding tends to centre on the notion of the guy failing himself – not going for what he should, what he deserves. Not in terms of failing the woman.

    I find it interesting that in both cases it’s the man who deserves better. “Deserves” it why? is my question. But I kid. It’s rhetorical, really.

    Also interesting: that the same women (in my experience) who chide for not settling in the beginning of the relationship are the ones who will say “you deserve better” after the bad breakup (usually because the dud you “gave the chance to” was a dud after all).

  24. SunlessNick says

    I find it interesting that in both cases it’s the man who deserves better.

    Interesting with a silent “gah”?

  25. amymccabe says

    Salla

    I worked at a gas station/convenience store/ice cream stand and we had so many problems with men like that. I’ve had them come after me and I’ve had them come after the girls that work under me. And I really think that some of them DO know that you are stuck in a position where you have to be polite to them, or they can report you for bad customer service. I truly and totally believe that is the case. And the guys that came in, a number of them where touchy. Some would even go kiss the girls as they rang people up. Sadly management wasn’t supportive at all. And since occasionally one would take to stalking, it got really scary. I had one that even stalked me. He’d call at all hours demanding to talk to me. He’d trying touching me. He’d sit for hours and watch me. Eventually I got him to get lost by telling him that I thought he was a nice guy, but my boyfriend, who worked at the nearby air force station was a real jealous type. Then we all discovered and employed the benefits of the imaginary airforce boyfriend.

    After five years working there, where we were told we couldn’t say anything or do anything to protect ourselves, I’m really protective of women and girls I see working in those positions.

  26. says

    Karakuri, I detect a note of superiority in your response there. A sort of implied suggestion that any of us who “hang out” with someone like that are at least partially to blame.

    Problems with that perspective include:

    –Many people are related to people like that. Lots of ‘em. It’s either dump the entire family or try to ignore that shit. (I’m in favor of dumping families when it’s merited, but I’m not sure that one single failing would merit dumping otherwise supportive relatives.)
    –Many people work with folks like that, and unfortunately are in jobs where meeting other humans who might ask one out is possible.
    –Some of us live in regions where there aren’t many people who DON’T think like that.

    I personally opt not to have “friends” who treat me that way. That’s why I have about 3 offline friends. So, what were you describing as alienating? ;)

  27. mickle says

    Having been pretty completely anti-social since junior high (minus the years at my all women’s college), I don’t have really much to add in the way of recent anecdotes.

    I can, however, attest to the fact that this shit starts early. My first kiss (on the cheek, his) was at the ripe old age of 7. The boy in question had been teasing me for some time and (largely at the prompting of his mother, who was a yard duty) it was sexualized. (he likes you!) I was pretty much shamed by her into kissing her son. Not that specific act and certainly not in front of her mind you, but she was the one turning it into him “liking” me AND being not so subtle when I was around about how she thought I should be responding.

    At the time it was just annoying and embarrassing. Looking back it’s downright fucking creepy.

    “I personally opt not to have “friends” who treat me that way. That’s why I have about 3 offline friends. So, what were you describing as alienating?”

    heh.

    Well, you’ve got me beat. (Although several of my online friends started out as college friends and roommates.)

  28. Maria V. says

    What woman’s college? I went to Smith!

    Hey Jenn —

    I wonder if there’s a kind of age-ism in this? Where the “you should be grateful for any attention” increases as women age?

  29. sbg says

    Possibly. Doesn’t everyone know that the older a woman gets and remains single, the more desperate she becomes and therefore she should really be less discriminating and more grateful when anyone who breathes gives her the time of day.

  30. says

    Maria, I don’t think so – because this happened much more to me when I was younger. Maybe it was where I was living, maybe it was just the times (early 90s), but until I was 22, it felt like there was ALWAYS at least one matchmaking woman policing my dating habits. I thought it was just one more misfortune that came with being born female.

    I realize I phrased my earlier comment in a misleading way. This one thing is not the ENTIRE reason I have so few friends. L.A. is notoriously isolating, a tough place to make and maintain friendships, and that’s a big part of it.

  31. mickle says

    Maria – the other one. :)

    “L.A. is notoriously isolating, a tough place to make and maintain friendships, and that’s a big part of it.”

    I will second that for all of SoCal. That’s the problem when you absolutely need to drive 30 min (at 60-80 mph) to get pretty much anywhere that doesn’t sell gas or food. Even the walk to the grocery store or the movie theatre feels much longer than it ever has anywhere else I’ve lived, even though I know it’s technically shorter. But so much more of my time is spent driving everywhere else AND the walk takes me past insanely busy streets and even over/under freeways, so it’s an extremely unpleasant walk. Unlike the bike ride I used to take to the theatre in Eugene, which was largely through parks. All of which means I tend to leave my apartment less than I did in other places.

    Regarding the age thing…for a while, right after I moved back from grad school, an aunt of mine made noises about me dating and possibly maybe trying to set me up. She stopped a long time ago. (Which is fine with me as I do not trust her to know my taste in men and friends, which is why I was not responsive in the first place.)

    I think that age can actually bring less concern that you are fulfilling your womanly obligations (no matter your situation) because hey! who cares about you now anyway?, reduce the extent to which people feel they have the right to tell you what to do, and brings a certain amount of resignation in others that you are going to do whatever the hell you want no matter what they say.

  32. Jennifer says

    Oh, I’ve got a story for this thread. My married best friend is aware of the creeps that I attract, but when she was visiting this weekend, she wanted to go out to a bar. And sure ’nuff, I attracted two guys, one in his 40’s and one that had to be at least in his 60’s (note: I am 31 and look 21 at minimum), trying to pick me up. Spouting all kinds of crap about how they were an international photographer (I got to see some porny pics, thanks) and a guy with scripts in LA. To which I couldn’t help but think, “If you have LA connections, why are you living in this small town?”

    BF wingwomaned the crap out of the situation trying to fend them off. The guy in his 60’s figured out this wasn’t going well early on, but the other guy would NOT give up and kept switching his bait to her as well as me. But after they finally gave up and left, she was all, “Now I see it, you’re right, you REALLY shouldn’t be giving out chances to the guys that want to date you.” She had occasionally given me the “you don’t give chances” speech, but now she totally, totally, understands why I don’t want to any more.

  33. says

    About the whole “women in customer service jobs having to be polite to men flirting with them,” thing, the question occurs to me: Do men have to deal with that? Do they worry that women will assume they’re flirting, when they’re, in fact, just being polite and friendly, like in their job description. I know that I, personally,never assume that a waiter/male retail worker is flirting with me, no matter how they’re behaving. (Up to the point that I didn’t realize a male server at a catered event was flirting with me until he fled at the appearance of my husband! I just assumed he was being nice!) So, is that another part of male privilege? The privilege of not having it assumed that your friendly, polite banter, (that is an essential part of your job), is flirting? I would never feel free to believe that a man in the service industry’s behavior towards me is flirtatious, unless he were to actually ask me out. I’d feel that,if I were wrong, the response would be something along the lines of, “don’t flatter yourself.” So, the idea that the waitress/female retail worker is flirting with you, (when she knows you can complain if she’s not friendly), reeks of privilege to me. Men are free to assume that a woman smiles at him because she likes him, not because her salary depends upon “service with a smile.”

  34. Jennifer says

    In my experience, if a man is interested in you, it doesn’t matter WHAT you are doing, if you are flirting or not, or trying to ignore him. As long as you aren’t screaming in his face, he assumes you likey-like him back, period. Women do not assume this of men in general the way that men do of women in general. I don’t think it’s privilege so much as hormones and no sense.

    There is a woman in front of him, she is attractive enough, and she’s being at least superficially nice to him? Yes, she likes me! That’s what’s going on in their brains and crotches.

  35. says

    No freaking kidding.

    Last night I was at the bus stop and this guy was staring at me openly. uncomfortable, I moved to the other side of the shelter. He followed.

    I switched sides again, he followed. Then he came up to me and said, “In my eyes, you’re really something special.”

    Pause. Me, not meeting is eye. “Um. Thanks.”

    “So, do you have a boyfriend?”

    I don’t understand how could have made my body language or reactions say any more clearly that I wasn’t interested. But guys train themselves or are trained to just not see that.

    It’s frustrating. I think I deserve to be able to exist in a public space without being objectified.

  36. Jennifer says

    Guys do not care about your body language, either. They ignore any “no” that isn’t a scream. And heck, they probably ignore those too.

  37. says

    Not to excuse anyone, but just in the interests of understanding the bigger picture:

    Society neither teaches nor encourages privileged groups to read the body language and subtle cues of less privileged groups. Whether we’re talking men and women, white people and people of color, whatever… the privileged group is constantly given the subtle message that everyone “below” them exists to help them to succeed. Why wouldn’t they assume anyone in a less privileged not telling them to drop dead enjoys their company?

    Take these same men, and see if they can read the subtle cues of the boss whose approval they desperately need if they’re to move up to a better position. They can read it, then. That’s how privilege works – it’s always up to the “lower” person to read the “higher” person so s/he can anticipate that person’s ego desires, satisfy them, and hopefully win some crumbs.

    Now, my experience with men is a little different than what’s been described here: if I tell a guy “No” or “I’m not interested” or even “I’m just here with my friends, not looking to meet anyone”, he goes away. Every time, so far, knock on wood. All the problems I’ve had have, in hindsight, been that I was sending a guy SUBTLE cues that I thought were quite obvious. But when I look at the words I actually said, they weren’t anything so clear as “no.” And why is that? Because I’m trained to think I shouldn’t just say “no” flatly – it might hurt a nice man’s feelings, or it might enrage a mean man so that he wants to hurt me. It’s all about privilege – I’m taught not to be frank and open and honest, but to coddle the more privileged person’s ego. He’s taught to expect his ego to be coddled.

    And no, I’m not remotely suggesting all men take a properly delivered “no” for an answer. Nor am I suggesting that all unpleasantness could be avoided if women said no clearly – sometimes that DOES enrage a bully who thinks no woman has the right to tell him no. We can’t win – I’m just outlining one of the many ways in which we can’t.

    It’s all a recipe for disaster, and I suspect it’s intended to be. There is simply no way a society puts together a mess like that accidentally. It’s designed to keep the important people (in this case, men) happy at the expense of the less important people.

  38. says

    Anemone —

    THEY HAVE. Remember how one of the standard plots of chick flicks is that a girl meets a guy who irritates the shit out of her, but his persistance wins her over? Together, they make babies? Yeah.

  39. Anemone says

    Maria, I meant movies from our point of view, where we don’t get involved with guys that irritate us, but do bitch about the pressure to, before (maybe) ending up with guys we actually like and who are actually nice to us all along. You know, antidotes to the current crop of “she just doesn’t know what she wants” nonsense. There is so much intensity on this thread that I can’t help but think you could get a lot of good stories out of it if you wanted.

  40. says

    This was copy & pasted from a related discussion on my blog, as requested by one of the Hathor writers.

    I don’t think it’s about failing as a woman, I think it’s about failing as a person to fit into a monogamy-normative coupling with minimal on-again off-again drama. A lot of it has to do with loyalty and drama.

    The first part being “I like my friend, so what’s so wrong with him and/or my perception that you don’t date him” as though her not dating him is questioning the third party’s ability to judge character. The second point being that the social support network of someone with constant drama get drained. “why can’t you just date someone stable and boring and quit bothering me?”

  41. says

    Hmm, those both make sense, but I’m not sure either quite applies in this specific case.

    In my example, the man is NOT the friend of either party. He’s just some dude, perhaps even a total stranger, and yet the woman’s friend or acquaintance is more concerned with the woman’s failure to properly service HIS ego than with what the woman wants. Additionally, I – and the example was based on my own experience – have never created drama. It’s more likely the opposite – that my heteronormative acquaintances want me to create some drama in my life that they can enjoy vicariously, and I’m not doing it, so I suck.

    Hmm, now there’s a thought: in at least some cases, maybe the woman’s friend doesn’t give a shit about the man or his ego, but she just wants vicarious romantic drama. I hesitate to say this, but I’ve gotten this shit from married women more than single ones – maybe they’re bored, romantically, and miss their dating days, so they see me as a handily available woman to experience dating drama vicariously through.

  42. Karakuri says

    I apologize if it sounded superior. It’s the behaviour that I avoid, because it tells a lot about how I’m going to get along with that person – not a judgment of that person themselves. I tend to be critical of people for perfectly normal things that frustrate me, even though I know it’s unrealistic/unfair. Although in Australia, I think that behaviour’s less common.

  43. Elee says

    I am currently reading wildly through the contents of the site, pretty much everything that catches my interest, but the comments here have stirred so much of the shit I see problematic in my family, that I had to comment. So, one of the things: my personal experience was that the older I get the more I am pressured into having a relationship or give a guy a chance. With 20 it was formulated more like a suggestion “wouldn’t it be nice if you had a boyfriend, so that we are sure there is a chance you’ll procreate sometime? But of course it is a valid excuse that your education goes first” (though why this excuse was valid and the reason, that I haven’t met anyone to my liking wasn’t eludes me). Now with 30, when I am a single woman with independent income for several years relying on myself and occasionally on help from my relatives (moving is much less difficult when you have several uncles and cousins who are motorized and are more skilled in putting furniture back together or connecting wires than I could ever be – I am just unlucky that way), of course I must be desperate for a date, so now there is apparently no excuse for me STILL being single. Now, my grandma would even put up with me being in a same-sex-relationship if it means that there is nothing wrong with me for holding on to my celibate lifestyle (it was not particularly easy choice, but the only choice I am comfortable with enough. I’d prefer not to be alone but for certain reasons I don’t feel to the challenge of a long-term-relationship). Why is it, that women like my grandma, who had a pretty horrible marriage herself and still hates my grandpas guts whenever they meet, even though they are divorced for like 40 yrs, the one, who want to hand you to the next available guy? It irritates the hell out of me, that my mom is a lot more supportive (than f.ex. my female 30 yo cousin) because she may not understand, but can accept, that it just is not meant for me to be. And that it is ultimately none of their business, if I dig men, women or both, and I don’t need the condescending permission to have a same-sex-relationship, because it is the lesser evil than being single. The other point refers to Mickle’s comment: We currently have four kids in our family in the age range between 1 and 6, whom I all love dearly, but on every family event, be it a childs or an adults birthday party or be it Christmas, there is garanteed to be someone to try to coerce the children to kiss the nice aunt or the nice uncle, be it because otherwise the child would hurt the adults feelings or because it wouldn’t the gift. It is fun when the child is asked to do it and does it out of genuine affection. It has something so teeth-gnashingly wrong when they badgered into it (with all of three years of life experience and already stating their dissent at such pressure loudly!) and made feel guilty when they not comply, that I feel like shouting “For god’s sake, if he/she doesn’t want to, then let him/her be!” Problem is – they are not my children. So I can only express it in form of an advice or a caution, if I don’t want to alienate the parents, because my family knows my views on this. My family knows, that I was abused as a child by a family member. Maybe they dismiss it BECAUSE of my abuse experience, maybe it is really me totally overreacting. But when comes down to it – isn’t it just forcing a child to commit to level of intimacy it obviously doesn’t want? Even if it would make the Granny/Auntie/whoever happy?

    Sorry, just had to get it off my chest, maybe because I was reading Hathorlegacy the whole day and a lot of things were bound to surface. :-)

  44. says

    Elee, you are so not overreacting. Decreeing that the child has to do whatever the grownup wants, and isn’t allowed to draw their own boundaries, is exactly the behavior pattern of abuse.

  45. says

    You know, I have never understood why it’s not considered abuse for parents to harass kids about having “grandchildren” for them, which sounds like what’s ultimately going on there, Elee. You are not entitled to grandkids. You are not even entitled to kids. You are not entitled to any life but your own. As Kathmandu said, that’s disallowing another person’s boundaries, and that’s what abusers do. But because we worship the idea of blood relations without paying enough attention to whether the families being created are really healthy or even worthwhile, we overlook many instances of abuse when the “logic” of the abuser sounds saccharine enough. After all, they just want you to be happy, right? And they know what would make you happy better than you do because they’re experienced and they’re just trying to help, right?

    Yeah, it can sound great on a Hallmark card, but it’s still bullshit and it’s still not right. They may have good intentions – the way our society is skewed, decent people can find themselves engaging in abusive behaviors out of simple ignorance – but you’re right to react as you have.

  46. Jay says

    I think it’s very clear. The chiding girl has or has previously had feelings for the guy and is jealous and feels somehow less because she thinks that you have no interest in the one that she couldn’t get.

  47. says

    I think it’s very clear. The chiding girl has or has previously had feelings for the guy and is jealous and feels somehow less because she thinks that you have no interest in the one that she couldn’t get.

    I don’t think that’s a good theory at all, it’s basic Girl Math: 1 Girl + 1 Girl= CATFIGHT.

    Sometimes women have friendships that aren’t based on competition for men. It’s alarming, but true, our lives aren’t focused on you at all times.

  48. says

    Gnatalby, that’s true, but in my experience, a majority of men and women adhere as hard as they can to their gender stereotyping, so it does happen. I’ve seen it happen.

    But it also happens with men – just in a slightly different way. Instead of chiding another guy for not wanting a particular woman, men usually just accuse that guy of being gay and belittle him.

  49. Danica Bryant says

    Wow. College girl here, and this is just wow. I had never really thought of this issue until I stumbled across this lovely article. Well, lovely in the sense that I’ve been cringing since the first sentence because this happens way too much for comfort.

    For instance, I’m apparently supposed to know when a guy is hitting on me. I’ve read a couple of other comments that contain stories like this, and I’m relieved to find that I’m not the only one who doesn’t notice when a waiter is flirting or when a classmate is (it actually took the guy asking me out for me to get the picture with this one–I said no). I’m also apparently supposed to be dating now, since I’m probably the only member of the female side of my generation to not only be a virgin but to never have been kissed or even been in a relationship.

    I have also heard the “chaaaance” whine. Hate that, and sadly I’ve been hearing it a lot right now. Friends back home are telling me to give a chaaaance to a guy we went to high school with. I’m still trying to figure out that I only said yes because he, in complete sincerity, explained why he was interested in me and my physical appearance didn’t even register among traits such as intelligence and daring. Friends here at college are trying to convince me to give a male friend here a chaaance instead, despite the fact that he and I have both said there is no attraction.

    My own mother, who is the one who taught me feminism when I was still in the cradle and made sure I grew up knowing how to think, has been subtly trying to get me to date for the past couple of years. It wasn’t until I read this that I realized it, but she has her own way of telling me to give a guy a chance. I know understand why I’ve always avoided saying anything about my male friends to her.

  50. Mnemosyne says

    Wow. I thought I had this problem because of the country I live (Italy, where there’s so much crap about patriarchism because of Church), but I don’t know how to feel reading it happens in America and places I considered more liberal. Probably frustrated.
    I got into my first serious relationship because of the childing: my friends and family believed that I was doomed to become a sociopath if I didn’t accept to date a guy in my late teens. I started dating a man I wasn’t really interested, and except for a few months, it was an experience pretty much horrible: for the same idiotic comments, however, I was committed for about 2 1/2 years, before I finally have the gut to say “No more”. Best decision of my life, and still people look at me, happy and single, and said scorned that I am depressed and will regret my choices, and bitches because I turn down men who are jerks.
    I’m furios because a lot of women still thinks it’s better have a man who treat you like shit instead of a meaninful life free of stereotypes.

  51. DragonLady says

    And the part about this that is SO FRUSTRATING for me is that after however many repititions of “just give him a chaaaance”/”you’re too picky” you get from almost every woman you know over and over again for year upon year upon year… when YOU pick a fellow that doesn’t match some arbitrary social convention of theirs (he’s short/bald/a sci-fi geek/older than you/younger than you/Canadian/take your pick), all you hear is “him? Seriously? What’s wrong with you?” disapproval or the unsubtle “pretend it’s not happening” ignore.

    • littlem says

      “or the unsubtle “pretend it’s not happening” ignore.”

      I admit I haven’t seen this.
      Do I dare ask what it looks like?

      • DragonLady says

        The unsubtle ignore is where you are in a relationship but those around you act and talk as if you are not. An (admittedly extreme) example is the white woman dating a black man whose family calls him “her friend” if forced to admit his existence but otherwise refuses to talk about him. A more common example is you’re dating Man A who you like and your family tries to fit you up with Man B that they like.

  52. says

    In another blog post on this site someone was talking about how in the old days, if you were worried about your friend or daughter, you’d encourage her to be as pretty as possible so she could find a guy, stability, and children. I think it’s connected to that. Someone wants you to be stable and happy, and not left on the shelf forever, so they pressure you to give guys a chance, because maybe, you’ll really like them, and all your problems will be solved!
    Unfortunately, it’s such an old fashioned attitude.

    • says

      That could be true in some cases, but not mine.

      I wasn’t explicit about this in the post, but no one who actually cares about me has ever treated me like this. It’s always acquaintances and perfect strangers who feel entitled to lecture me for not dating men they consider in my “league”. So no, I don’t think they want me to be happy. I think they’re envious and feel I’m “getting away with” not having to put up with the bullshit that is dating someone you don’t really want just to be dating somebody. And I am, and it’s wonderful! :D

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