Love And Hope And Sex And Dreams: Make a Man Uncomfortable Today

Love And Hope And Sex And Dreams

I do plenty of things that are commonly considered bad habits but that I’d argue are Actually Good: eating a diet that consists mostly of cheese, tweeting while drunk, leaving my hair in a topknot for a week instead of washing it–you get the idea. Although some people would say that these tendencies are of debatable social value, they’re all things that makes my life a little bit less tedious. Without a doubt, though, my favorite activity on that list is the proactive infliction of small discomforts on men.

Like cheese-eating and hair neglect, which came to me naturally, making men uncomfortable has always been part of my disposition, even though a lifetime of socialization has done its best to lead me astray. Women are trained from birth to be creatures of comfort-creation, soothing and supporting those around us, often to the detriment of our own emotional needs and especially when the people around us are men. In turn, men use our care-taking as affirmation that their bad behavior is natural and they’re entitled to it, and crushing social pressure and occasional safety concerns often stop women from disabusing them of that notion. It’s not the greatest trick the patriarchy ever pulled, but it’s up there.

On a macro level, I have literally no idea how to solve this problem; I’m not a sociologist. I am a woman who’s been dating in New York City for the better part of a decade, though, so I have some theories about how we can all tackle it in our own, micro lives. Namely, by really, truly leaning in to all the situations in which you might otherwise feel compelled to pull back in order to avoid making the men you’re dating uncomfortable. (This is what that fucking book should have been about.)

Before we go any further, we should establish a definition for “uncomfortable.” I’m not talking about making anyone feel unsafe, physically threatened or even vaguely uneasy about your respect for healthy boundaries. I’m certainly not talking about any sort of stalking beyond a casual scroll through a man’s Instagram feed when you’re bored and feel self-defeating. What I’m proposing is that you do your best to duck out from under the pressure you feel not to “be weird” in your social and romantic interactions with men.

Discomfort is a wildly effective check on bad behavior, and for proof of that, look no further than almost any woman you have ever met. Plenty of us stay quiet when our feelings are hurt, apologize to those from whom we actually deserve apologies and show kindness to people who persistently treat us like shit, all in an effort to avoid being thought of as bitchy or overly sensitive. That’s what happen when things run amok; in more modest amounts, though, social discomfort simply encourages people to treat others with respect, and frankly, it’s high time men got in on that action.

The next time a man takes four hours to return your text when you can see that piece of shit sharing articles about Bernie Sanders on Facebook, don’t just complain about it to a friend on Gchat–text him again. If a man constantly cancels on you, don’t be the Cool Girl who has fallback plans anyway–tell him you think it’s rude and you would prefer to wait and reschedule for a time he knows he can keep. Fave his subtweets. Start reclaiming little bits of your power, no matter how small. They add up.

These actions, when explicated, sound silly and obvious. Of course it should be okay to show irritation when someone is thoughtless. Nonetheless, plenty of women shy away from putting the tiniest screws to the men in their lives for fear of driving them away. That’s not an empty fear; men who are otherwise reasonable humans often turn into giant babies when a woman puts even the most gentle pressure on them, and women have learned to avoid these behaviors for a reason. If you’re ever going to date a guy who treats you like someone worthy of respect, though, you’re going to have to set about the unpleasant job of alienating the men who don’t.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Your post made me feel uncomfortable. I hope this comment makes you feel likewise, because your proposed behaviors towards men (which I presume should also be applicable to women exhibiting similar behaviors) sound rather unpleasant, silly, and not at all obvious. However, since I believe that kindness is a more effective check on egregious behavior than discomfort, I will complement the skill exhibited in your writing. Unlike your content, it is very pleasant indeed.

    • What is wrong with saying, “It wasn’t cool of you not to reply to me 4 hours ago. I just need you to let me know if we’re going out or not.” ?

      Why should women continue to stay silent and “be cool”? I don’t care if its a casual fling or a full on relationship. All parties have to communicate their needs so they can respect each other.

  2. Holy shit do not take any of this advice!!!!!

    If someone plays these kinds of games, just ditch them. Playing their game (which is EXACTLY what this article advises) will make you feel shitty, and it will tell the dude that if he treats women like shit, he’ll get attention. Which is exactly what he wants.

    • What I’m advising is exactly the opposite: demonstrate to people who are playing games that you understand what they’re doing and aren’t willing to be manipulated by it. Often, confronting poor behavior has the side effect of getting rid of the person perpetrating it, and that way, there’s no doubt in his mind why he lost his opportunity.

    • I think you misunderstand. It’s not about “playing games”. It’s about holding men to the same standards that other men do. If man doesn’t show up when expected and left another man in the lurch “Hey man! Where the hell were you? I was stuck waiting an hour before I could get a bus home” is a completely appropriate response. It should be for a woman dealing with a man as well.

      • Amen. I think this is great advice. We should always call people on their B.S. instead of coddling their delicate feelings.

      • If that dude is a long time friend, I’m going to ask him if he’s alright, and if he keeps acting like he’s playing games, I’m probably going to slowly stop making plans with him.

        If that dude is – like the dudes the author is referring to – someone I met recently, who I’m trying to be friends with, I’m going to be like, “Holy shit, this dude I just met is playing games and would probably be a bad friend, so fuck that guy.”

        Dating is basically the same.

  3. If you want to further gender progress, please stop generalizing both genders. This isn’t a man v. woman problem. It’s a selfishness problem. I’ve had plenty of women take forever to return texts and consistently cancel plans on me. But I don’t make generalizations about women because of it.

    Like B said above, don’t obsess over it. Just move on and find a better person.

  4. Hi — I’m a man, so don’t hate me immediately. But if guys you date do this shit, dump them immediately. They won’t change. I know men really well.

  5. “The next time a man takes four hours to return your text when you can see that piece of shit sharing articles about Bernie Sanders on Facebook, don’t just complain about it to a friend on Gchat–text him again. If a man constantly cancels on you, don’t be the Cool Girl who has fallback plans anyway–tell him you think it’s rude and you would prefer to wait and reschedule for a time he knows he can keep.”

    I agree D. I would never date a guy that would do those outright rude things in the first place and why stick around to shame the guy for being an natural a**hole? Just drop him like he’s already dropped you, he doesn’t deserve any more attention. Shaming him into being a better dater won’t make him any more of a man than the douche he already is and the last thing he wants to do is start dating someone who scolds him like his mom. If this is the beginning of “molding” him into better behaved boyfriend, good luck on changing his behavior deeper into the relationship.

    • Other two very possible scenarios we haven’t addressed yet:

      1) he takes the feedback to heart and apologizes profusely, because he wants to be mothered and nurtured.

      2) he leaves you hanging & shows your texts to his friends and goes “huh huh look at this crazy chick,” but secretly takes the advice to heart and treats his next target more kindly at first

      Either way, the point is still that this dude is shitty & giving him attention is not going to achieve justice. The closest you’ll get to achieving justice is ignoring him.

  6. “The next time a man takes four hours to return your text when you can see that piece of shit sharing articles about Bernie Sanders on Facebook, don’t just complain about it to a friend on Gchat–text him again. If a man constantly cancels on you, don’t be the Cool Girl who has fallback plans anyway–tell him you think it’s rude and you would prefer to wait and reschedule for a time he knows he can keep.”

    I agree D. I would never date a guy that would do those outright rude things in the first place and why stick around to shame the guy for being an natural a**hole? Just drop him like he’s already dropped you, he doesn’t deserve any more attention. Shaming him into being a better dater won’t make him any more of a man than the douche he already is and the last thing he wants to do is start dating someone who scolds him like his mom. If this is the beginning of “molding” him into better behaved boyfriend, good luck with that, future full of disappointments.

  7. Why can’t this article read “Love And Hope And Sex And Dreams: Prioritize Your Own Comfort Over Someone (Potentially Male) Who Is Clearly Disregarding Yours? It’s super disheartening to see such emotional wisdom dressed up as some sort of vigilante gender justice/revenge. So, with all the offenses listed, is anything really beyond just generic “dickhead” material? I’ve been treated all of the listed ways by women, so I’m not sure where the divide truly stands. I also don’t really think that doling out a one-off of your own version of gender role re-education to someone you barely know is going to end up abusive more often than actually successful. Maybe the Berniebro’s phone died and his tablet still worked, resulting in him not being able to get texts. In that scenario, you’re just a quick to judge asshole.

  8. I just dump them if they show any kind of disinterest or starts acting like he doesn’t care to get back to me…. Perhaps this is why I’m still single, but I figure that this type of courtesy should be a part of their natural desire to be with you, if not I have no desire to chase them down. The problem tends to be they start chasing after I dump them, once its too late. I have absolutely no issue in making a man uncomfortable!

  9. I thought this was going to be about actually confronting dudes about their sexism, not about how often people text each other.

  10. Yeah… As a woman engaged in this modern society, I want to say first: sometimes it’s ok to not respond to someone immediately. Need time to think or just doing your own thing doesn’t need to take full attention for a casual text conversation on a non-priority issue. Put down your phones and go outside for a while, ok?

    Secondly, this is not a gender-specific problem, though men and women have been conditioned for generations to act a certain way according to their gender, I think we’re growing culturally to address this gap. The take away and action items:
    Ladies: Speak up for yourselves in a kind, compassionate, respectful and genuine way. Be upfront and honest. Be real. Don’t be jerks. Don’t guilt trip. Don’t gaslight or be gaslighted. Love yourselves and do what feels good for your heart, soul, life.
    Men: Speak up for yourselves in a kind, compassionate, respectful and genuine way. Be upfront and honest. Be real. Don’t be jerks. Don’t guilt trip. Don’t gaslight or be gaslighted. Love yourselves and do what feels good for your heart, soul, life.

    Leave the games to the kids.

  11. It seems you really can’t avoid pop-feminism nowadays. You have scrolled past it on Instagram, only to find it in your news curator list. Sigh. I hope thinking that you were born, or that men assume you’re born for their sole pleasure is enough to reassure you of your being a victim. Because actually accepting that it’s a bunch of nonsense would force you to reevaluate your beliefs, and that’s just, *like*, too hard…

    What you described above is an affliction to both genders. Just google it, and you’ll see that for 10 women complaining about dating in this era, 10 if not more men are complaining as well–about the same ish you ascribed to the workings of patriarchy and male entitlement. The fact that many of y’all “feminists” ascribe simple life hardships to sexism and patriarchy just shows a disturbing disconnect from reality.

    But hey, don’t mind me, I’m just “mansplaining.”

  12. Oh, and if leaving someone is harder for you than wasting your time in such a pathetic manner, then it’s not hurting men “delicate feelings” that you’re scared, it’s hurting your own. Women as callous as you are not concerned with other people’s feelings, it’s all about them and everything they can do to avoid feeling any sort of emotional pain.

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