I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this discussion with girls: What is he thinking? Are we just friends? I don’t want to read into anything, but I have no idea what his intentions are! And he asks these probing questions, but does he really expect me to answer a hypothetical “would you date me” question? How am I supposed to respond to that? Why can’t he just tell me what he wants?!
And all the women in the world said, “Amen.”
Why can’t he just tell us what he wants? I think many women wish for the days when courtship was something that was easy to see (why do think we love Jane Austen novels so much?). If a suitor was pursuing a girl, she knew. It was obvious to her and to those around her because there were societal rules and norms for how to pursue. And it was always led by the man. But then the sexual revolution happened and chaos between the sexes ensued.
Women don’t know what to do anymore. We still want to be the pursued, not the pursuer. But then we get into these friendships with guys and we don’t know how to read the signs. We try not to read into anything, but it’s difficult. Especially when guys start asking questions like “Would you ever date a guy like me? What does he have that I don’t? Am I your type?” Those questions put women in an awkward position—it can appear to change the role of pursuer and pursued. And we don’t want to be the pursuer. And we don’t even know if those questions mean you want to pursue. We have no idea what those questions are supposed to mean. So guys, make things easier on us all and don’t ask them. [For the record, I’m not talking about all guy-girl friendships—there are specific friendships where this type of thing happens.]
I don’t think guys know what to do anymore either. There’s no clarity between gender roles. What does it mean to be a good woman or a good man in the 21st Century? There’s a whole lot of “what not to do” out there, but little instruction on what to do and far too many mixed messages in the media. That will be an entirely different post, but as it relates to pursuing here are my thoughts and recommendations.
First and foremost, women want to be pursued. As I said in an earlier post, woman’s deepest desire is to be wanted. The clearest way to see that a man wants a woman is that he pursues her. He doesn’t wait for her to come to him. So for the men reading this post, make the first move. Be the pursuer. Don’t let her be confused as to your intentions. It’s as simple as saying, “I’d like to pursue you and see where this goes, if that’s ok with you.” Even if she is not interested in being anything more than friends, she’ll respect you for your clarity (and probably want to set you up with every good friend she has because she realizes what a catch you are). And--bonus--being so direct is considered assertive and, as I've covered before, women like assertive, dominant men.
Now, if you’re a guy and you’re just friends with girls be sure to not ask vague, leading questions like I mentioned above. Male-female friendships are totally doable—just be sure to keep it casual. If you’re texting her frequently every day, sending “good morning” or “good night” messages, and frequently going out together with just the two of you then you are sending the wrong signals. Ask yourself “Would our relationship look to others like we’re dating?” If so, then there’s a good chance that she’s confused about your intentions. And don’t think you can have one DTR (define the relationship) conversation where you tell her you aren’t interested and then continue to act the same as before. She’ll continue to be confused—actions speak louder than words, remember?
I’d also like to remind women to be kind and generous if a guy makes his intentions clear. If you aren’t interested, be respectful and direct in your response. No, ‘Right now I just want to be friends’ talk—that leaves it open for later and is disrespectful to him. If you aren’t interested, simply say “I think we should just stay friends, but I’m really flattered.” Being direct allows him to move on to find someone who does reciprocate his feelings.
And finally, since I just threw the word ‘feelings’ out there, I’d like to also remind women that it isn’t easy for guys to talk about their feelings. Even the “I’d like to pursue you” is difficult for men to say—so be aware of that and be very thankful when he puts aside his own discomfort for you. It takes courage and women should respect that.
So men, please be the leader and make the first move. Women everywhere will sing your praises for it.
[For the record, this is no passive aggressive attempt on my part to any male in my life. This conversation has just happened so often with women I know that I wanted to clear the air.]