14 July 2013

Ruling Out Mr. Wrong

In my last post, I received a little bit of flack for my so-called "rules."  Nothing rude, but valid points, mostly from men, that I might be being a bit too selective.  Is it fair to rule someone out just because he called in less than 24 hours?  No maybe not, but let's talk about how that rule came into existence in the first place.

But let me start by recapping the couple of "rules" I mentioned to refresh your memories:

  • Gives me his number instead of asking for mine.
  • Contacts me before at least 24 hours have passed (worst of all, within the same hour that I gave him my number!).
  • Asks me out via facebook.
  • Doesn't spell the word "you" with 3 letters.  (U kno wut i mean?)
Before I address these and a few more, I want to make it very clear that even though I allegedly have my "rules," these aren't hard and fast.  They're more like little red flags that warn me away from someone I personally probably don't want to get involved with.

"But Rachel, how do you know it's someone you don't want to get involved with if you haven't even given them a chance yet?  That's hardly fair.  Just because they don't follow the same social cues as you doesn't mean they're not nice guys."

Totally fair assumption.  In all reality, I've probably passed over plenty of really nice guys in my life, sometimes without even realizing it.  But I'll tell you why these rules are important to me in spite of that: because of the incredibly likely chance that a strange man I don't know is not a nice guy.  I was reading another blog recently that explained this really well, and I encourage all my readers and friends, especially my male friends to take a look at it and consider the perspective it is trying to get across:


The author, Starling, is attempting to portray something that a lot of men don't understand about what dating is like from the female perspective.  It isn't just intimidating because of the chance of rejection or of getting emotionally hurt down the line.  It's legitimately frightening at times because we are taking a risk with our own personal safety.  Starling talks about leaving the name of her date for the evening on a paper beside her computer so the police would know who to seek out if she didn't come home.  She says it with a slight note of self-deprecating humor, but what's telling is the fact that as a reader, my initial reaction was, "Smart!  I should start doing that!"  A more humorous take on this was sent to me by a friend, in the form of a comedy act that still rings eerily true.  You can watch it here.  (Please be warned of a a little bit of crass humor, though.)

Starling also talks about social cues and body language and how when men ignore those signals it triggers major alarm bells in our heads.  Why?  As she says, because you just ignored a "no."  It's not being persistent.  It's being rude and it's telling me that my choice no longer matters.  Things like this are so important to women!  Ignoring a "no" now means that "no" will probably not matter to you other more serious circumstances.

So to all my good guy friends out there, if she in any way is sending you "no" signals, please just back off.  It's not a reflection of whether you're a good guy or not, it's a reflection of her comfort zone, and as humans, we all have a right to this.  Obviously, the door swings both directions.  I have seen plenty of circumstances in which women cannot pick up on a "no" message even though the man is obviously wanting her to back off.  Although the statistics are a bit more frightening for the woman's side of this, everyone has a right to say "no," and everyone should respect that, regardless of gender or sexuality.

Now, the items I listed are not necessarily all about my safety, but many of them trace back to that on some level.  So where did my little rules come from?  Remember, these rules are totally individual and not something I'm necessarily suggesting for someone else.  Let's start with the first one:

Rule 1: Gives me his number instead of asking for mine.

For me, the girl who did not go to her senior prom because she didn't have a date, the girl who suffered from unrequited love for many many years, and the girl who chased someone she really shouldn't have once upon a time, this is an important factor.  You see, the message this person is sending me is that he's not that interested.  He just gave me his number.  That suggests that while he finds me attractive or interesting enough to want to hear from me, he's not interested in actually putting any effort in himself.  He wants me to contact him.  It's got nothing to do with gender equality in my case.  I think women can absolutely be the one to call the guy and initiate something.  Nothing wrong with that.  What it comes to personally is that when a guy takes the risk of asking for my number and then takes the even bigger risk of somehow reaching out to me, then he is placing value on me.  He's saying "Hey, I think you're worth going out on a bit of a limb for and I don't mind putting in a little effort on the chance of getting to know you better."  He is validating my worth to him, which is huge for me because I have had some very upsetting experiences with men making me feel worthless.  It's not all of them, obviously.  Many of my close friends are guys and they are fantastic to me and place a high value on me and my well-being.  If it weren't for them I would probably have given up on the dating scene altogether before even graduating high school.  But the fact remains that I have been treated badly, so when I first meet a guy, sending me that little signal matters a lot to me.  And that is why I'm no longer interested in a guy who wants me to call him instead of the other way around.

Rule 2: Contacts me before at least 24 hours have passed (worst of all, within the same hour that I gave him my number!).

Now here we do see a mild safety concern crop up.  There's a lot of things going on here.  First, I met a guy out on the town, let's say a bar, because that's the most likely place for someone to be chatting me up and then ask for my number.  First, congratulations, Mr. Guy-in-Bar, you've clearly done something right!  I actually gave you my number.  That means you just got a whole lot of yes sent your way this evening.  Yes, I was interested enough to continue talking to you long enough for you to ask for it (probably most of my evening).  Yes, I consider you normal and interesting enough to want to hear from you again.  Yes, I am giving you my personal information so you can do so.  But now you've blown it a little bit.  Let's say you call me an hour after I left the bar with my friends.  What are you expecting, Mr. Guy-in-Bar?  There's a few possibilities: You're testing whether the number was real or not.  Really?  All I can say is I find this tacky.  Alternatively, you're calling because you want to know where I am now, possibly because my friends and I were moving on to a different bar.  Why does this make me uncomfortable?  I just said goodbye to you.  We're done for the evening.  If I wanted you to come along, I would definitely have invited you.  Although I've given you plenty of yes, I did give you a no in that I didn't need to see you for the rest of the evening.  Inviting you along, in my opinion, is sending a signal to you that I may want to end my night with you.  Which leads me to the only other alternative I know for calling me an hour after I just saw you: You want to get some action.  Sorry, Mr. Guy-in-Bar, but I am just not that kind of girl.  We are clearly looking for different things.  You want to hook up.  I want a guy to take me to dinner next weekend.  I guess this is where we go our separate ways.  May we both find what we're looking for from other people.

What else has Mr. Guy-in-Bar done here?  He's made me feel a little bit nervous.  He's making me question what kind of signals I was sending tonight.  Did I act like someone who was hoping to go home with you for a one-night-stand?  I sure hope not.  But either way now I'm convinced that whatever conversation we had was only aimed in one direction, so even if you do call me after this to ask about that Friday-night-dinner, I'm probably going to say no because I now know that you're only interested in hooking up.  We are done here.  God forbid you keep texting or calling even when I am not responding, because now I'm going to get scared that I have given my number out to a potential stalker.

And then there's Mr. Second-Guy-in-Second-Bar, the one who I met later in the night and also gave my number to (assuming that the first guy didn't scare me away from any other men the rest of the night because God my blouse must be too low-cut or my skirt is too short or I knew I shouldn't have worn these high heels I must look like a stripper oh Jeez my mama would be so ashamed!).  Mr. Second-Guy-in-Second-Bar, you, too, have received a slew of "yes" tonight and received my phone number.  And you waited until 6 A.M. the next morning to text me.  Now, I won't be as inclined to immediately ignore Mr. Second-Guy's text, but I'm probably going to put some serious thought into it.  6 A.M.  As in, you may have been out all night, are super-drunk, and don't even really have a conscious awareness of what time it is or the fact that I only got into bed at 2 last night and really don't want to be woken up right now.  Mr. Second-Guy is also probably still drunk, and thinking with his other brain.  Mr. Second-Guy is showing lots of poor judgment right now because even if he's not drunk off his arse, he is ignoring how incredibly rude it is to send me a text at this time of morning.  Goodbye, Mr. Second-Guy, I just lost interest!  How unfortunate that there is actually a chance that Mr. Second-Guy really isn't so bad, he just partied a little too hardy last night.

So understand that when I talk about a guy who contacts me less than 24 hours after getting my number, this is what I'm talking about.  Not the nice guy who texts me at a similar time later the next afternoon or evening.

Rule 3: Asks me out via facebook.

I'll try not to dwell on this one too long because I think I covered the major points in the previous post and in Rule 1.

Oh Facebook Guy.  You walk on the safe side of life, don't you?  Like Mr. Texts-Instead-of-Calling, you are scared of rejection or of actual voice-to-voice interaction or are just flat-out lazy.

Or you're a crazy stalker.  There's always that.

You see, Facebook Guy has, from my perspective, taken a bit of a cop-out in facebook messaging me to ask me out.  He's told me that he doesn't think it's an interaction important enough to do over the phone or in person.  To be fair, Facebook Guy may be shy.  He feels safer talking to me on Facebook, and I'll be honest, I've gone out on some casual dates with guys who initiated something over facebook.  But that's not really who I'm talking about.  The real Facebook Guy is the person I met yesterday, or even earlier today, who has found my profile even though I didn't give him my last name or any real personal information.

"But he put in the effort to find you!  Isn't that what you've been saying you want from a man?  A little effort?"

Yes and no, friendly reader.  I do want effort, but this guy is crossing a line.  I have given him little to no encouragement, and yet he scoured Facebook (and I do mean 'scoured'—I have made it relatively difficult for people to find me on Facebook if I don't know them) and sent me a friend request or an e-mail when we have had no more than 5 minutes of conversation.  Facebook Guy is portraying the fact that his reactions to my social cues are totally disproportionate.  Depending on the interaction we've had, I may try talking to him and give him a bit of a chance if I think he's okay, but if any of my instincts are warning me away from him, I am going to listen to them.  Because self-preservation comes first.  If you read that article by Starling, then you will understand that I have to listen to my instincts and pay attention to these little red flags.  Otherwise they'll be showing photos of my mutilated body found in a dumpster next week. [excuse me while I make the sign of the cross in front of me and knock on wood about 80 times because that was such a horrible, morbid, yet realistic thought]

There's also the other Guy on Facebook.  Guy on Facebook is someone I haven't even met in real life.  Guy on Facebook does not understand that Facebook is not eHarmony or PlentyofFish or any of those other dating or hook-up sites.  Facebook is where I talk to my friends and family and stare at that little green dot next to my crush's name that mean's he's online like Gatsby stared at that light across the bay thinking of Daisy.  (Joking.  I swear I'm joking. Mostly.)  I don't really have to describe Guy on Facebook to you because most of you women have already met him.  And I have photos.  I present Exhibit A: actual screen captures of my inbox on Facebook.

Please notice the date and time stamps.  I rest my case.

(Side note, for all those concerned, you will notice that I blocked this user so he can't contact me anymore.)

Rule 4: Doesn't spell the word "you" with 3 letters.  (u kno wut i mean?)

Again, totally personal.  I am a heavy reader and an amateur writer.  I grammar-check my text messages and if I realize that I posted a status on Facebook with a grammar or spelling error in it I take it down as quickly as possible or else sit there and agonize over it for hours because someone commented on it and noticed and now I can't take it down because I will look lame and oh God I'm getting anxiety pangs just thinking about it.

Basically, this person and I have nothing in common.  NEXT!

What other rules do I have?  Oh, there's lots of them, some I'm probably not even consciously aware of.  Most of them do have to do with my feeling of safety.  For people who don't realize it, it really can be frightening being a young female wandering around a huge city alone.  There were multiple times in Chicago that I would actually get off the El train 6 stops early and wait for another train to come along to get away from men who were making me uncomfortable by ignoring my "no" signals.  Whether or not they actually meant me any harm.  They are Schroedinger's Rapist.  They are this guy without the humor  The only way to find out if they are good men or not is not something I am willing to explore.  [Why not just hop on a different car on the same train, you ask?  Because I don't want to risk getting off at the same stop as them or otherwise giving them an opportunity to follow me home.]

What I do want to mention is that there are rules and there are the so-called "non-negotiables."  Non-negotiables are what I call character traits that we are each looking for in our certain someone.  They are not necessarily safety related or designed to weed out creepers, they are the things that make someone a compatible potential mate.  Things we just can't get around the fact that we are not attracted to or interested in.  For an absurd [and hypothetical] example:

I am not attracted to blonde men.  There may or may not be logic behind this.  There may very well be exceptions to this rule (see: Chris Hemsworth and Justin Hartley), but in general, I will not go out with men who have blonde hair because I do not have that basic physical attraction to them to start a relationship.  It might be because of something serious like the fact that my next door neighbor as a child was abused by her father who happened to have blonde hair and somehow that seeped into my psyche and now I am subconsciously frightened of men with blonde hair.  Or it might have no rhyme or reason at all and I just prefer brunettes.

Now, if I meet Mr. Right and he is a perfect match for me in every possible way except for the fact that he has blonde hair, you're damn straight I'm going to give him a chance and go out on a date with him anyway just to see if I can get over the whole blonde-hair thing.  Hey.  He is Mr. Right.  Maybe he's willing to dye it.  Or maybe I actually will get over it even though I thought I never would.

I'm planning to write my next post about online dating, and part of it will tie in with comfort-zones and also non-negotiables, so I would love to hear from some of you about your online experiences with dating as well as your non-negotiables and rules.  Leave a comment below or send me a private message, whichever you prefer!

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