I see these headlines all over the place: “How to Make Him Want You”, “10 Easy Steps to Be Irresistible”, “How to Tell If He Likes You”…I just read one, “22 Qualities Guys Look For in Woman that Will Make Him Stay”, and it basically outlined all these really vague things–“be honest”, “be supportive”, “if he’s into you, don’t play hard to get” (but wait, “How to Make Him Want You” told me to play hard to get? Now I’m confused…).
It could just be me, but when I read these articles at first glance, I never really question of the authenticity or credibility of the people coming up with these lists; I just kind of assume that, since someone wrote it, it must be true. It’s kind of like the popular kids in high school–because they are popular, you think what they are doing must be correct–they show up to school wearing socks and sandals, that must be cool. They stand by the flag pole in the morning, that must be right. They play “hard to get”, so it must work. Because a bunch of guys chimed in on “What they think makes girls most attractive” doesn’t necessarily mean those guys have any clout; they could totally be that greasy kid who sat in the corner, picking his nose for all we know, and his ideas on love are certainly going to be different than mine (but hey, every voice matters).
Besides just being click bait, I feel many of these articles offer no kind of constructive advice; in fact, all they do is ask us to engage in immoral behavior, do things that are out of our context, wear make up and stilettos and cheap perfume that makes us sneeze (did you know that you can buy pheromone spray that somehow adapts to your special genetic make up and it supposed to bring all the boys to the yard?). Because, like dieting, if there was one magic pill, or one magic way, to attract guys and to “make them stay”, then we would all be doing it…
At the root, all these articles are doing is encouraging us to change our own individuality to conform to some kind of societal standard. One article said, “avoid asking about his past relationships until after the third date”. Ok, but what if it casually comes up in conversation? Like, somehow we get on the topic of sitting outside in below freezing temperatures, I want to one-up him, and I want to tell a funny story about the time I accumulated 6 inches of snow on my lap from sitting at a sporting event…do I just deflect the conversation and say, “Oh but wait you will have to wait until our THIRD date to hear that one, because some girl on Thought Catalog told me to wait to bring up past relationships…Or, this other article I read said, “guys really like it when you wink at them”. So, if I can’t wink, or he’s sitting on my unwinking side, does that mean I’m not attracting him?…Another article says, “you should offer to pay for dinner” (Oh wait, I totally wrote that one…)
I think following social conventions, and adhering to whatever these people are saying, is what gets us in trouble. We read a bunch of stuff that says, “Here’s how to get him fired up on the first date”, so we think that everyone else is doing that, and we must too: wear the fake eyelashes, because those seem to be successful at least five of my friends who got boyfriends after their first dates? And, we read things like, “How to Bring Up The ‘What Are We’ Conversation”, and because it’s written from someone else whose situation is WAY different than ours, when we try to take their advice and text our date-ee, “Can I tell my friends I’m changing my relationship status on FB?” like the article said, it blows up in our face, and it turns out our status will be single for a very, very long time. And, when one article says, “Don’t reveal too much about yourself”, and another article says, “He likes honest, open girls”, and you take the latter’s advice and tell him about the poop splatter incident, and it turns out he’s highly sensitive to those kind of things, and upchucks everywhere…you aren’t gaining a boyfriend this round, honey.
Instead of spending time trying to change ourselves to whatever these click bait articles are suggesting, why don’t we spend time getting to know ourselves? Of course, I certainly believe that you have to try on different shells to wiggle around in them, see if they fit, and once you determine they do not, you molt them off. Sometimes, you have to try the whole “biting your upper lip to look more attractive” thing to determine that your Chap-stick is actually a very tasty flavor. Perhaps you have to date someone shorter than you, someone younger than you, someone who has long hair, to determine those are not your types at all. Or, maybe you have to receive some late night text messages to realize how traditional you actually are. All of this counts as ‘identity formation’.
Sometimes, I’ll catch a side comment from someone that says, “you are so open on your blog–aren’t you afraid that it will scare men away?” Well, not really. I don’t necessarily believe in changing myself to bend to social customs (this is what got the Victorians in trouble in the first place), and any man who I will work well with will be accepting of my opinionated nature. The same is true with how I choose to dress; I could certainly wear mini skirts and stilettos to the bar, but I’m limited on my dancing moves, and there’s always the possibility my knee is going to blow out, and any guy I end up with–who respects me as a person, and not an object–isn’t out prowling for a hoochy mama.
So, all the advice I’ve ever read, summed up in one post: It happens differently for everyone. We are all different creatures. We have different experiences, different preferences. Even our closest friends will have different needs than we have, and that’s great, because otherwise we would all be vampire fighting each other for the same specimens…
Don’t bend to social conventions, and whatever these irrelevant articles are teaching you. Just do you.