After my last relationship, I took several months off before jumping into the dating world again at the end of 2018. I have had awesome moments, some sexy moments, and some um… very interesting moments, but the highlight of my time in the field has actually been learning about our culture and witnessing the fascinating masculine/feminine dynamics that are dominating the LA millennial world.
One striking thing I observed pretty quickly is that men in their 30s-40s seem to have picked up some wounding around women jumping the gun and wanting commitment before they, the men, are ready. This leads to a lot of guys doing what they believe is necessary in order to send women the message that they aren’t ENTIRELY available (as to not get our hopes up).
I have dated men who I would classify as avoidant in this way. But recently, I’ve actually dated some AWESOME dudes who have spoken to me at length about this experience. About their intentions to stop these subconscious patterns and create something new. So while what I’m writing is partially observational, it’s also a lot anecdotal – going off of stories that were shared with me.
I’ve seen and been told that men protect themselves by not making full eye contact with us, by being stingy with their time and with compliments, by not fully letting us know where we stand or pulling away after sex. It’s as if they don’t want us to feel TOO special, for fear that we’re going to start fantasizing about wedding rings and babies. Yet I have come to believe that underneath their seeming wishy-washiness is empathy: they just don’t want to build us up to let us down.
The next dynamic I came upon pertains to myself and the women in my life. It’s clear that the men aren’t alone: the fears the men expressed go hand-in-hand with the fears shared by the women I’ve spoken with. Female friend after female friend, client after client, shared painful stories of men pulling away and acting ambiguously where emotions and commitment were concerned.
The byproduct of these experiences was the women feeling a great deal of rejection. They then carried that pain forward into the dynamic with the next guy they dated. “It feels hard to show up fully open, playful and free because I’m like, becoming braced for rejection. I think women are ready to have men distance themselves from us without even knowing why,” one of my friends stated. “And we’re ready to make it mean that we’re not enough, that we are falling short in some way.”
After fourteen nearly consecutive years spent in long-term relationships, the dating world is SO fascinating to me. It’s weird to say, but I literally never dated before I was 30. My first boyfriend and I met in high school; the second in college; the third through work; the fourth was part of my friend group.
Talking to my peers has led to me to a deeper understanding of those weird moments of disconnection I’ve encountered where I’ve had no clue why a man I didn’t even know if I was interested in began distancing himself and being cold after being warm. It’s safe to say we are stuck in an unconscious pattern, a bad feedback loop: men protect themselves; women feel rejected; men protect themselves more as to limit the rejection we feel; women are hurt and confused.
In my humble opinion, this is what the two sides of this equation are each missing:
Men: it seems you are experiencing women through a filter in which you are collecting evidence that we will get too attached too quickly. Is it possible for you to ease up on that filter? You know, turn the saturation down a notch? In an effort to be a “good guy” and make sure that you are in control, you are distancing yourself and hurting us preemptively. Outcome is same/same but different. And we don’t get to have the yummy bliss and ecstasy of even a fully present and luscious one-night stand. = Bummer. Not every woman wants you to be her husband. We are not just ready to forsake our independence so easily, the best of us will want you to EARN our trust, love and respect. You sabotage your shot when you underestimate our self-concepts. Many of us really do mean it when we say we want to take things one day at a time and see how it goes.
Women: we are feeling rejected by the way men are behaving and taking it personally, when a lot of these guys’ behaviors have little to do with us and everything to do with trauma from their pasts. When we shut down, get stuck in our heads and are worried that we aren’t enough (“or else of course this dude would be head-over-heels in love with me”), we are limiting ourselves. We contract. We dim our own light and then we really don’t have a chance of being recognized for the radiant creatures that we are. The less you can take distancing-behavior personally, the more you can source your happiness from within, the safer these guys will feel and the more they’ll open up and stay present with you. Patience and compassion works wonders here.
I want to be clear that I am undoubtedly generalizing. I know that my audience lives mostly in Western, metropolitan areas and are between the ages of 21 and 45. This post is for millennials in heterosexual relationships because, well, I’m a millennial experiencing heterosexual relationships. I also want to be clear that I do not believe this is all true for every woman nor every man. Please take what fits and discard the rest. The sample size I reference here is small and unique.
In conclusion, it seems to me that if each side can start owning their shit and is willing to get vulnerable and actually communicate about this patterning, we have a good shot at making this dating game a much kinder, lighter, more sexy and exciting experience for everybody.
Please leave comments on IG to discuss any and all of the above – I would love to hear your about your experiences and thoughts! xx