Why is there such a negative connotation associated with the idea of women setting decent standards for potential partners? We’re not all asking for a Harvard grad working for NASA who volunteers their time-saving puppies or a well-traveled person who speaks three different languages and is an activist for social justice. But in the wise words of my girls in TLC, we don’t want No Scrub.
I look for someone who shares the same values and goals as I do. Simple enough. I’ve been single for a while now and often get asked why. Honestly, I can’t give you a definitive answer, but I do know why I’m not dating some of those that may have seemed promising at one time or another. There are certain traits and personalities that I know I don’t mesh well with. If a partner doesn’t have some of these, I know we aren’t going to work and I don’t want to waste either of our time.
Of course, saying this and putting it into action are two very different things. I went on a date recently with a man I had met only days earlier. I didn’t know much about him until we spent a couple of hours chatting and grabbing a drink on our first date. Things went smoothly, but red flags were flying. Not “I’m going to kill you in your sleep” type of flags, just comments that gave me an idea of how he perceived and judged the world. Our values already didn’t seem to align after his idea of a hilarious pick-up line was perceived as incredibly inappropriate and definitely cringe-worthy. He really didn’t seem like he was any match for a woman who craves independence and considers herself strong-willed.
I’ll spare you some of the most unpleasant details but leave you with a little snapshot of how we left things. Possibly the worst situation of all came at the end of the night when I just wanted to return to my car and head home. He insisted on teaching me how to drive stick on his Honda Civic to which I replied with a firm “No”. He continued to push for this and I continued to politely decline until he finally asked to negotiate. I replied with “No means no, it’s not up for negotiation” to which he countered with physical intimidation by implying he was stronger than me so I didn’t have much of a choice if he decided I didn’t get one. Not in so many words of course, more like a “Yeah, but I’m stronger, haha” type of way.
Don’t worry, hon, that ‘joke’ didn’t mask your abuse of power.
Luckily the drive back to where I had parked my car was short and I knew I would never be seeing this guy again. I was feeling extremely glad I didn’t have him pick me up at my place at this point but also slightly irritated with myself afterward that I even got in the car at all.
So, why did I even consider it? The next day I found myself answering his text messages, never alluding to the fact that he made my skin crawl. What was I doing? I knew how turned-off by him I was, but I kept catching myself thinking maybe he should get a second chance.
I immediately texted my best friend and told her all about the situation. I told her about the red flags, described the conversations that surrounded them in detail and explained how appalled I was at some of the things that came out of his mouth. Yet I kept feeling like I owed him a second chance. Maybe he was nervous? Maybe it was his backwards way of impressing me? Was I being too critical?
The answer? Absolutely not. I don’t believe I can be too critical where my personal comfort is concerned. Women are so often encouraged to be understanding and accepting, passive and quiet. We are socialized from a young age to give people second chances, to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, I’ll fight to the death against this stereotype in my dating life and I hope other women will as well. If your gut reaction is telling you that something about someone doesn’t sit well with you while you’re on a date, believe it.
It may take a day or two, it might take a few more days of follow-up text conversations, hell, it might even take a second date for it to click and for you to realize that a woman’s intuition is an incredible gift. I know it took me that extra day to not only remember but stand true to my beliefs. I wasn’t being too critical and I knew that, it just took a bit to accept that.
This guy made some offensive comments towards me, women in general, and members of certain religious groups. He had the most ridiculous stereotypes about men and women and even tried to use his strength and stature to ‘jokingly’ intimidate me. At no point did I feel that my safety was ever threatened, but my comfort was and that’s enough for me.
So after recapping with my girlfriend, I was irritated with myself. Why in the world would it even be a possibility that I would see this guy again? Because I was trying to be nice. Because that’s what I was taught to do. I’ve been conditioned and taught to look out for the “good nature” of others even if it means sacrificing my own well-being.
Well, to hell with that. When I thought about it the next day, I reminded myself that I need to be confident when I detect those immediate concerns. Trying to justify or excuse his behavior does nothing in helping me to feel safer or more secure if I were to ever see him again. The sole purpose of me trying to justify the comments he had made, was to make him feel better.
I know I’ve talked about my experience here with one man, but this article isn’t meant to be gender specific or even dependent on whether you’re currently dating or not. If you take away anything from this story, I hope it’s that as women, we need to be confident in our decisions. We need to believe in ourselves, in our intelligence, and in our capability of making the right decision when a situation makes us feel uncomfortable and we no longer want to be a part of it.
I often find myself feeling guilty or worried about upsetting someone if I’m in an uncomfortable situation and I want out. That’s not the healthiest or safest option for me though. I know I will continue to try to practice in my life and I hope that you will too.