Relationships….one word, millions of reactions. When it comes to relationships, opinions come in all shapes and sizes from the do’s and don’ts, the roles that are to be played by each partner, expectations and what the ultimate relationship should consequently amount to. Our impression on these things is far from ubiquitous and what works for one person is abhorrent to another. One thing that seems almost always universally acceptably however, is the notion that a relationship should be initiated by the man (my focus is solely on heterosexual relations). This idea is rooted so deep in us that it is almost absolute. It comes so naturally and we obey it with unquestionable reverence.
Once upon a time, I really liked this guy. They say that women can tell a few minutes into the first encounter with a man whether he is a road worth treading on or not. He was worth it. Mr. Guy was a cup overrunning with that good humuor, he was easy on the eye, intelligent, smelled divine and possessed all other things that would make a woman’s heart flutter round the clock. I was sold …heart, body and mind. He and I spent a lot of time together doing the things that friends do. Each day spent together was a confirmation of the idea that had been blossoming in my head, that he and I would be a match made in heaven.
One random evening as we were busy texting I decided to bare my heart and feelings to him. Scrapped every morsel of emotion from my heart and shared it with him. It was no big deal. My mind was telling me that this would be something beautiful and urging me to go for it. And so I heeded. Take note that Mr. Guy had also been putting out signs that he was interested. I think he had mentioned it or something close to it in that vague way most men do. Armed with this knowledge I was good to go. Or so I thought. His reply was what you would call playing it safe. He was trying hard not to wound my feelings with a well crafted text that basically said NO.NOT INTERESTED. I was confused and hurt. I was hurt because unrequited love stings hard.
The self pity followed and as with a typical love rejectee I fell into the blame game. Perhaps I was not intelligent enough for him, was not good looking enough, maybe he didn’t like the way my front teeth were dented or how my right boob was slightly bigger than the left, maybe it was the scar above my right eye…trivialness become a way of life. It was not until a couple of years later that he told me emptying my heart out to him had put him off. It had scared him. It was un-womanly. It was a sign of desperation. As outrageous as it sounds, my only relief then was finding out my boobs were okay. Plastic surgery is expensive. Phew!
My case is far from unique. A lot of women have been through this experience and what it does is push them into thinking that something is innately wrong with them. Our thinking has been fenced around this archetype (that a woman should wait to be asked) and we are comfortable living this lie. Of women who feel too liberal to initiate anything, demeaning labels are mercilessly hurled at them.
A relationship is a connection between two people. Connections do not necessarily arise in equal measure. Sometimes a man feels for a woman more than a woman feels for him and vice versa. Society has gifted men with the confidence to go ahead and act on their feelings, express them fearlessly regardless of the outcome. The accepted mondus operandi here is that, until a man gets to a place where his feelings match or surpass that of the women he desires, then nothing should be born of it.
A woman on the other hand can and should wait. It doesn’t matter whether a tornado of emotional need is bursting and tearing through the banks of her heart. Nothing should stem unless it is initiated by the man.
But these are the rules of men and more often than not the rules of men have been found to be unfavourable. Some of us prefer to do the asking. It doesn’t mean we are control freaks, Gold diggers, that we are loose of character or that we have self esteem issues. It simply means we are go-getters, it means that we are not ashamed to like someone before they do us, it means we care too much that we feel the need to offer the best in us to those who we deem as worthy, it means we are passionate and it also means that we refuse to subscribe to gender socialization that seeks to undermine women.
And any woman who feels brave enough to ask a man out or express her feelings should be ready for the outcome. The answer can be yes or no which is fair because not everyone you like will like you back. The older you grow the more and easier the fear of rejection dwindles. My friend Alex told me the other day, that if a man says ‘No’ it’s because he really does not feel the same way for you, which is an okay thing. You should not feel too bad about it; you have probably rejected a number in your life. Quit beating yourself up for it. He also let me in on the fact that sometimes men just need a little nudge to see what is before them.
The success stories are there of women who proposed to their husbands or relationships that were initiated by women and are doing well. In some societies stereotypes surrounding women initiating relationships have abated and the people are more open to a two way approach when it comes to who should make the first move. So ladies don’t just sit hopelessly like this is 1800 and you are Cinderella waiting to be rescued by prince charming. If there is that guy you have been eyeing and desperately want to ask out, DO IT! Fellas don’t be too judgmental or rude when a girl asks you out. Don’t let your head swell with false mentalities that have been imposed on you by society. She could be a good girl looking for love, a potential wife or maybe one just trying to get that good good 😉
Of course this will not be everyone’s thing because relationships are unique and everyone has their views on what is acceptable and what is not. Do you.