Men like the chase – they say.
Remnants from earlier times, where they were the hunters and we mere women the gatherers. Where a good clubbing over the head, and being dragged into a cave was considered foreplay and where consent was a word not yet invented. An easier time, I wager, regardless of all of the dark sides that come with it. Someone with a spare time machine around?
Men like the hunt – they say.
We live in an age where playing hard to get has been turned into an artform on both sides of the battlefield of love, with a hidden side of desperation that I’ve never really gotten the hang of. The etiquette of replying (or rather, not replying) has taken up entire books in our relationship discourse, and there’s goddamn workshops teaching people how dating works these days because ain’t nobody understand it if they’re not taught. It practically takes a degree these days, to figure out the do’s and don’ts of the dating world.
I mean, the fact that there’s now a word for people randomly disappearing of of the face of (your) world for whatever mystical reasons possible (#ghosting) – should tell you enough about how the hunt for these men (and women) is merely a pastime, as foxhunting was in the earlier ages. But if you didn’t want to be disowned by your rich noble daddy, you best still get on that horse and show the other bloodlines how it’s done (aka: not dating is practically not an option either. You can’t call it quits for fear of societal judgment).
When dating has become a sport instead of a genuine search for a massive part of a population, it becomes increasingly hard to find yourself in a mindset required to withstand the torrents of (online) dating. Or maybe that’s just the way my brain works. I don’t like having to do things that are expected of me, in the required ways, merely to conform to what everyone else is doing. I rather do things my way. Which, in the dating world, isn’t a great success when your way is different to the current tactics.
I used to not-think about all of these things all to much. In a time where dating was fun, I felt no wear and tear from the applied tactics, strange escapades and annoying time-wastes that came with a search for love (or fun). ‘It was all fun and games’.
So it never really mattered if the other party replied swiftly, or once a week, or ever at all. There were no thoughts about ‘what if he doesn’t message me right away’. No meaning attached to a shorter-message-than-usual or a disconnected dating profile. I didn’t have to time my replies to not seem too eager. Or too busy. Too desperate, or not interested enough or –insert 100s of other options here-. Things just flowed naturally (or didn’t), and all of that was fine. Red flags didn’t exist and dating was energizing all around.
But the ease with which I navigated the hunting parties once upon a different era – is no longer.
These days I find red flags where there are none, and find turn-offs in the weirdest of corners. Finding the drive to make an effort has become so fucking hard, and opening up more and more of an impossibility. No clue why.
These days I also wonder at my own red flags and the obvious flaws in my beautiful self that seem to be a deterrent for any person even remotely decent. I mean – I guess it MUST be me, seeing as I’m the common denominator in all of these dating horror stories. I can find boatloads, but none of them new, so there must be something else that’s changed, although I can’t figure out what that is. It can’t just be the higher number in the ‘age’ category. Can it?
Or maybe it can. They do have all of these memes that at an advancing age all the good ones are either gay, taken or damaged goods. Which puts me solidly in that last category, even though I quite like the way all my pieces are glued together.
But then I also find myself agreeing with my choices to not-make-the-first-move anymore. And the approach of ‘letting them decide the tempo’. Even when that tends to mean a quick fade and quiet death to any budding romance. Cause and effect, but without any knowledge on the whole question of the chicken and the egg. What came first – the unwillingness to try, or the lack of success. Did I stop trying because whatever the hell I was doing wasn’t working – or are things not working because I stopped trying.
Maybe I should join one of those clubs where they shoot clay pigeons. Learn how to properly hunt first. Put some holes in all of the red flags next time. That might work.
Men like the chase – they say.