He didn’t give me a chance
“It’s like he didn’t give me a CHANCE.” pouted my friend Ariel.
She and Rob, an internist at Mount Sinai hospital had been hot and heavy with one another for a good 3 months before he called the whole thing off. They went from not being able to take their eyes and hands off one another, to de-friending one another on facebook, after he abruptly ended their passionate affair with a two-line email.
Another friend of mine, Emily, had complained to me about how this Williamsburg hipster guy had gone out on just one date with her, and then never called her again. She said she knew it was because she was not cool (or rather, “deck” in hipster slang) or enough of a hipster for him.
She listens to Taylor Swift and Rihanna, and loves too-good-to-be-true Hollywood Happy ending movies like Pretty Woman. He on the other hand favors litle known indie music bands like Matador and Smells Like Records, and lives off a steady diet of foreign and indie (or better yet, foreign indie) films instead of real food (which probably explains his 2% body fat percentage).
“I am upset not so much because of the rejection, but because I felt like he just never gave me a chance to prove myself.” she explained. “I mean if he had gotten to know me past ONE miserable date, he would be able to see beyond my preppiness and gotten to know the REAL me, and he might have really liked me!”
So here were two smart, gorgeous women, both complaining about not being given a chance by men. I started to wonder: When it comes to dating, do women feel like contenders in a match, where we have to “prove” ourselves to the man, in order to “make it” to the next “round” – whether it be the next date, becoming his girlfriend, moving in together or getting the ring? Shows like the Bachelor, that have women competing for the man, certainly feed into that mentality.
“There must be SOMETHING I can DO to get him back” ponders Ariel, interrupting my musings as we brunched at Essex restaurant in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
“I know. I am going to get into really good shape, show up at his gym in the sexiest yoga outfit, and make him WANT me back.” She proclaims, as she crosses her toned runner’s legs and Michelle Obama-worthy arms.
“You are already in great shape!” I protest.
“Well, there is always more work to do,” she replies. After a thoughtful pause, she continues, “You know, maybe it is because my body is something I can actually control. There is NOTHING in this situation within my control…he wanted out, he doesn’t see me as the perfect fit that I see him as… but my body? THIS I can do something about to win him back.”
So there we had it. She felt like she had to, could, in fact do something that would have Rob running back into her already toned arms. And her body was the one controllable variable in the messy equation of man plus woman does not always equal everlasting love.
Perhaps this need and belief in our ability to control our love life is the result of the female empowerment movement. Women are now taught from a young age that we are in control of our lives and destinies, that as long as we did certain things and worked hard enough, we could get what we wanted – the good grades, the good school, the good job.
Perhaps our mothers should have warned us however, that these rules go out the window in the world of dating; that there are no right or wrong moves, no ten step plan to getting the man of your dreams, and that getting a guy and keeping him is not about working or trying harder (and that it may, in fact, scare him away).
Wiser ones than I have often said that the best relationships happen when two people feel comfortable being truly themselves in front of the other person, and are simply “in sync” with one another. So rather than contorting ourselves into being the woman we think a man wants us to be, or “proving” that we are worthy of him, I think the best dating “strategy” for women, is to be comfortable in our own skins, enjoy the process of knowing and being known by someone, and most importantly, to realize that we are inherently worthy of love.