Breaking Old Habits and Why Women Don’t Approach Men

22 Oct

No, thank you.

I’ve recently found a new favorite blogger, Doctor Nerdlove (no, he’s not a real doctor), that strives at teaching nerdy, geeky, or otherwise socially awkward men how to talk to, approach, and date women in a positive and ethical way (bonus scavenger hunt: check out his last few entries and see if you can find me).  One subject I’ve noticed he’s broached a few times is why women don’t approach men.  Many shy or introverted guys complain about this all the time, and the complaints range from fear of seeming creepy,  to fear of rejection, and to outright calling women lazy and unwilling to do any of the dating legwork.  I can see these complaints are coming from a place of fear and anxiety (Disclaimer: “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to suffering” – Yoda), and I do understand that place on a very personal level.  Approaching new people is hard and stressful, especially when you are introverted, and it’s even hard when you don’t want a romantic connection and are just trying to make new friends.  I know it is a HUGE issue for me, and has been discussed at length with both my friends and my therapist.  That being said, there are very good reasons why women tend to not approach men.


The biggest one is that women have been socialized from an early age that they are supposed to be passive players in the dating arena.  The message is, “If you approach, call, or ask out a man first, you have taken the chase out of the game and he will lose all respect for you as a human being.”   Now, as much as we would all like to throw that out the window by arguing, “But, feminism!”  It just doesn’t work that way.  Yes, I am a feminist.  Yes, I am acutely aware of the socially constructed reasons I am not going up to the cute boy at the bar.  No, it does not change a damn thing, because just because I’m a feminist and have evolved past outdated gender roles, does not mean he has.  I work under the assumption that most men do not identify as  feminists, and for the most part, do not try to impose my views on them, unless they actively engage me on the subject.  Women are also socialized to be nice to strangers.  Even when we are rejecting a stranger’s approach, we usually try to do it politely, unless the way the stranger approaches us is inappropriate, offensive, or downright threatening, and even in those cases, we tend keep things as civil as possible.

“Do not want!”

On the other hand, men can be downright cruel when a woman they do not find attractive dares to approach them.  Depending on the contingent of the venue, responses to unwanted approaches can range from laughing at the woman to pointing out all the reasons that she is not worthy of his attention (usually in terms of physical flaws) to just ignoring her and turning away.  However, if the guy in question finds the woman approaching him attractive, then he assumes that she is looking for a lot more than just conversation.  The response becomes overtly sexual in nature, to the point where it can be downright scary for the woman who only wanted to talk to the guy and get to know him better.  Even if the conversation doesn’t turn that way, and there is just flirting, there are many men out there take a friendly approach as permission for sex.  Not every woman out there is savvy enough not to let a friendly stranger walk her home after she was drinking, and her drunken state combining with her supposed sexual enthusiasm can lead to a sexual encounter that is not exactly consensual.  I know it’s a stretch to go from approaching a man in a bar to date rape, but not all guys are good guys, and women do not have a special power to tell the bad from the good on first glance.  When we let a guy come to us, it lets us set the pace of encounter, and essentially keep ourselves safe.  The approach carries a higher risk for women than it does for men.  The worst consequence for an unsuccessful approach for a man is a cold shoulder and a “no, thanks”, while the worst consequence for a woman might be date rape.

The other big reason why women do not approach men is because we suffer from the same insecurities that men do, if not many many more.  That girl you’ve been eyeing across the bar might be eyeing you back, but is too insecure to come say “Hi”.  Our culture tells women that we are primarily valued for our looks, and the standard that is set is almost impossibly high to achieve for any normal woman.  Many men perceive women as these gatekeepers to sex/relationships/etc., standing there like Empress Nympho from History of the World Part 1 saying “No, no, no, no, no, no, Yes! no, no, no, no, no, no, no, Yes!”  That is not the case.  There may be a handful of very attractive women out there who play this role, but the majority of single women out there do not get approached as much as men might like to believe.  I know plenty of beautiful women who scrutinize every tiny aspect of their face, body, and hair until they are thoroughly convinced that they are some sort of deformed monster and no man would ever touch them.  Just recently, I purchased a vanity mirror for my room to avoid lugging make up back and forth to and from the bathroom while getting ready.  This mirror turned out to be the Satan’s own tool, because while one side of it was just a normal mirror, the other was magnified.  So, while I was blissfully unaware of my face for years before, now, I get a clear view of every single pore and blackhead and budding pimple.  Now, I can’t go out in public during the day for fear of sending young children crying to their parents upon gazing at the monstrosity that is my face!

It isn’t just the standard.  As I’ve mentioned, our culture primarily values us for our looks.  Hillary Clinton can log in more air miles than any other Secretary of State, but the media will still comment on her lack of make-up or slight weight gain.  In our culture, a perfectly average (or even unattractive) man can approach a woman and dazzle her with his sense of humor and wit, and leave the bar with her in tow, or at least her number in his pocket (or smartphone).  Alternatively, no matter how funny and witty and smart a woman is, if she doesn’t measure up to a man’s standard of physical attractiveness, she is not seen as a potential date; she has no romantic value.  Granted, this is a sweeping generalization, and of course there will be exceptions, but in general, women are much more able to alter their physical preferences to allow kindness, sense of humor, and intelligence to make up the difference.

Please, please do not read this as piece accusing men of bad judgement, behavior, etc.  This is a comment on our system.  The system that benefits no one.  It doesn’t benefit women, and it certainly doesn’t benefit men who often feel so disenfranchised by dating.  I don’t have solutions to this, other than trying to plead with both genders to be more understanding towards each other.  The men who put women at risk of approaching them are not the men who are reading this, so saying “Be nice!” or “Don’t rape!” does not really apply to the current audience.  What I can advise men struggling to approach women is lower your physical standards.  You may find that “what is pleasing to the eye and what is pleasing to the touch are seldom the same thing” (Pulp Fiction).  Some of those standards you hold may not even be standards that you arrived at yourself, but rather those dictated by our culture.  Forget about having a girl to show off to your friends, because in the long run, your friends will appreciate a girlfriend that they can get along with and laugh with and socialize with, rather than just a girl they can gaze at and be envious of.  Break old habits, and things will get better.  I promise!

On a side note, tweet me @onlyYevster if you’re feeling down about yourself and I will tweet you back an affirmation or something that will (attempt to) make you feel better!

20 Responses to “Breaking Old Habits and Why Women Don’t Approach Men”

  1. Orv October 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    Hi Yeva! Saw DNL retweet your link and stopped in to look around. :)

    • blogsfeme October 22, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Welcome! Glad to have ya! Enjoy!

  2. Orv October 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    Hi Yeva! Saw DNL tweet the link to your post and stopped in to say hi. :)

  3. OldBrownSquirrel October 23, 2012 at 8:14 am #

    “the majority of single women out there do not get approached as much as men might like to believe.”

    This idea comes from men? During some of the online discussions of creeps, one will frequently hear Manichean second-wave feminists asserting that all women are tired of being approached anywhere, ever. As I see it, the “let women ask men out” idea is primarily a response to that idea, and it’s either rhetorical, leading by reductio ad absurdum to the widely ridiculed “then the world will stop breeding” conclusion, or it’s embraced by men who are tired of being rejected and are looking for an excuse to stop asking. “I’m going to do the women of the world a favor and stop asking them out, and maybe someday someone will love me for the consideration I have shown.” The former category doesn’t sincerely believe that model, and the latter uses it as a rationalization.

    “The system that benefits no one. It doesn’t benefit women, and it certainly doesn’t benefit men who often feel so disenfranchised by dating.”

    Thank you. I’ve had discussions with feminists who seemingly hadn’t reached this conclusion yet.

    • blogsfeme October 23, 2012 at 8:27 am #

      I think the miscommunication occurs when it comes to the types of spaces where the approach occurs. Women complain about being approached in spaces that are not socially appropriate for meeting new people, such as buses or the street, where they may feel cornered, bothered on their way somewhere, or downright unsafe. That’s a whole other discussion, and it’s been covered extensively by other bloggers including Dr. NerdLove.

      I am not the first feminist to recognize that the patriarchy hurts men as well as women. I do however see a new breed of guy emerge, characterized by a life rich in hobbies and interests, possessing friends of both genders, and generally unassuming about the opposite sex, i.e. approach and talk to women with the express purpose of only making a new friend, without regard for superficial qualities. Hopefully, this trend catches on and helps women feel more comfortable in approaching strangers in public.

      • Karl August 14, 2013 at 6:57 am #

        >> Women complain about being approached in spaces that are not socially appropriate for meeting new people

        Did you see that youtube video of the guy who hired some actors to follow him around in a mall AS IF he was a celebrity. Girls started following him. The closing shots of the video show one of the mall girls offering to come over to his place.

        you’re only upset when the guy is not hot.

        If he was hot, you would say you had a great day. If a plurality of females ran into McBadBoy Rockstar Drummer at church, a plurality of females would approach him unsolicited – and have sex with him very quickly. Why do you think guys form bands? Because they want the groupie harem.

        • Yeva August 14, 2013 at 8:54 am #

          First of all, hotness is subjective. Yes, finding a man very attractive will raise a woman’s tolerance threshold for questionable behavior, but that can be said for men as well. I’ve known men who tolerate controlling and manipulative behavior in women because they found that woman attractive. That being said, if I was approached on a bus or subway by a wall street “alpha” dude with a square jaw and a rolex, and he got in my personal space and was aggressively hitting on me, I would NOT be having a good day.

          Second of all, I don’t know any men who would want to be followed by “girls”. All that guy proved was that girls are curious about possible celebrities.

          Third of all, guys form bands because they want to play music. Women are not attracted to Rockstars, women are attracted to men who are talented and are passionate about something.

  4. cafeaulait13 October 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Thanks for writing on dating while feminist!

    • blogsfeme October 23, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

      You’re very welcome! Writing on dating while feminist is remarkably easier than actually dating while feminist. I will try to keep these coming more often.

      • cafeaulait13 October 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

        Let us all know how you do it! Because actually dating while feminist is really confusing!

  5. Nichole December 6, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    Late to the game but wanted to weigh-in. I would also argue that sometimes, maybe even often, women don’t approach men because we don’t want to. I find women are pickier about who they are interested in, and as a result just aren’t as motivated to go up and hit on or start a conversation with men as frequently as men will with women.

    I think of it like: men hunt with shot guns, women with sniper rifles. (PS: I <3 Borderlands)

    Of course this doesn't apply to everyone, but I've noticed most of my girlfriends and I will have fun at a bar looking at men and picking out whose cute, but we don't really have any desire to talk to them. Men, however, seem to have a compulsion to talk to anyone they find remotely attractive. Perhaps this is a result of women looking for relationships, where as men are looking to hook up. I know girls are far more likely to approach a guy they find attractive if they have seen him in the same place multiple times, because he feels more familiar, but very rarely will go over the first time. This also plays into the issues of date rape, safety and trust that you touched upon in this article.

    A good example of this mentality: I was recently in a Mexican restaurant, a food stop at the tail-end of a long, fun night of drinking, with my boyfriend and his friends from work. Two young, beautiful girls came in after us and were sat at a table right next to ours. The single guys at the table immediately all started whispering to each other about how they HAD to go talk to those girls, they COULDN'T allow them to leave without talking to them. There was also a fair amount of chest-puffing and daring to the conversation, like talking to the girls was a challenge and the first man to complete it would have bragging rights.

    So they lean over, and ask them a bunch of dumb questions. The girls were super polite, but to my perception, were clearly uninterested. The boys kept pushing, of course, and eventually the girls gently excused themselves and left. The boys all shrugged and talked about how the girls were dumb and unresponsive, and not good at making conversation.

    I spoke up and said my interpretation of the situation was that the girls were likely themselves at the end of a night of drinking/clubbing, came in to get a taco before heading home, and probably had boyfriends. Instead of being able to have some fun, juicy girl-talk at the end of a fun night while unwinding over naughty food, they were interrupted and held hostage in a conversation with the boys at my table, simply because they were attractive. Not because they expressed an interest in socializing, in fact, by their body language, quite the opposite. They then had to leave before ordering food because it was clear they wouldn't be left alone.

    The table exploded with arguments about "if you don't try, you'll never know." I tried to gently explain that by a girl's body language, you actually can know without trying whether she is open to meeting someone in that moment or not, but it went on deaf ears.

    Point is, a lot of times girls go out together to hang out with each other. A lot of times boys go out together to meet girls. So, maybe girls aren't approaching guys because they don't feel like it. I can't tell you how many girls nights out have been ruined for me by men seeing a group of girls together, out in a bar, and assuming they are entitled to come over and hijack our evening, despite the fact that our body language suggests that we are not interested in entertaining strangers.

    • Herschelle February 1, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

      Youre right. I think that even if we account for the cultural expectation of women to be passive and risks associated with approaching men, a difference will still remain because women simply find fewer men attractive. I think very attractive men are approached all the time by women in all kind of settings.

    • aphexahoy July 4, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      Classic aphex fallacy.

      Men are FORCED to use the shotgun approach because our success rate is so low that we have to play the numbers game.

      Of course, the only men you pay attention to are the ones who like to approach (hence aphex fallacy), and that’s why you assume that all men approach everything at all times because they want to.

      Here’s a fun thought: I’d love to be able to go after the occasional woman who crosses my path and whom I find interesting, but the irony is that there’d have to be 10 of her for 1 to say yes. If I played the game like a woman, I’d die an unmarried, unboyfriend’d virgin.

      Welcome to the male life!

      • Nichole July 4, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

        I think you’re missing the point I was making – having a low rate isn’t a bad thing to most girls. We have low rates too, because we’re being more selective and a lot of times not looking just to hook up. If you’re looking to get laid, then yeah, shotgun approach is probably good for your goals. But if you’re looking for a relationship, a shotgun approach is actually a hindrance.

        For instance – I’m a chick, I was single for two years. Happily. I don’t like dating, so when I’m single I just stay single until I meet someone really special, and then I enter a relationship with them. You could say my “rate” is insanely low, one person in two years, but for me my rate is perfect.

        The biggest reason I’m happy when I’m single is because I don’t enter every day with a “OMGIhopeImeetsomeone!!!!!!!” mentality. I wake up every day thinking, “I’m going to have a great day hanging with my friends / shopping / working out / doing errands / working on my blog / etc.”

        I was trying to point out that guys seem to enter every social situation not to enjoy themselves, but to meet someone. The night’s success is based on if they got numbers (got laid) or not. Whereas a lot of girls base the night’s success on if they had a good time with each other, if the food/music/booze was good, if they had on a cool new outfit, etc.

        I don’t feel bad for guys because I feel like they bring on their own misery. I’m not attracted to men that are all stressed about the last time they got laid – to me, that seems like a narrow view on life and one that misses some of life’s greatest offerings like good food, friendship, quality alone time, attaining goals/dreams. This certainly doesn’t ONLY apply to men – I have girlfriends with this mentality and they are miserable. They never have fun when we go out unless they get hit on, they’re impossible to talk to, distracted the whole time. I just feel your average male is more likely to have this mindset due to cultural expectations.

  6. Just some guy May 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    “Even when we are rejecting a stranger’s approach, we usually try to do it politely, unless the way the stranger approaches us is inappropriate, offensive, or downright threatening, and even in those cases, we tend keep things as civil as possible.

    “Do not want!”

    On the other hand, men can be downright cruel when a woman they do not find attractive dares to approach them. ”

    I have to say that this is complete bull.

    In my experience, in the few times I’ve seen women approach men it’s always been well received. It is such a complement because it’s so out of the ordinary. I have only seen men act positively to it — or go completely nervous/anxious because they arent prepared for it.

    Women on the other hand… I’ve seen/experienced

    – Women laughing in a man’s face
    – Women turning their backs on you
    – Women physically assaulting men (and everyone laughing because its SO funny when a woman assaults a man)
    – Women throwing drinks at men
    – Groups of women all mocking a man that approaches together (and then posting his photo on facebook regaling in how they mocked him)
    – One woman tried to get her boyfriend to beat me up for talking to her (I didnt know she had one, and that he was there)
    – Before you say a word to her, she looks at you and just says “NO.”
    – Running away when you turn your back

    Do you understand how humiliating and horrible these experiences are? No, probably not because you have the female privilege of being approached and sitting in judgement of men.

    And regarding physical requirements, women have them too. But they are different to men’s. Just take a look at for example. Do you think any of those women react nicely to a 5’5″ guy approaching them? Do you think they give him a chance, or would reject him politely?

    You claim to be a feminist but refuse to work against gender roles that benefit you, because it’s uncomfortable to you. Meanwhile males don’t have a choice. If we’re introverted or suffer from anxiety, tough shit, you have to “man up” and approach anyway. In my mind the majority of your reasons are excuses.

    How do you think anything will change unless people like you decide to act differently?

    • Karl August 14, 2013 at 7:05 am #

      >> claim to be a feminist but refuse to work against gender roles that benefit you, because it’s uncomfortable to you

      No she refuses because she’s VERY HAPPY with the current system. She gets to reject guys for 2-3 years, and only pay attention to the MOST ALPHA guys.

      Then 10 years later, she’s chastising “nice guys” for declining the privilege of buying the milk that she was giving away free to luckier guys when she was 22. Oh yeah, she’s a single mom now, and that kid will ALWAYS BE HER FIRST PRIORITY. Says so right in her OkCupid profile!!

      Men…. the sexual marketplace is a war, and the game is FIXED against males. Don’t marry!!

      • Yeva August 14, 2013 at 8:14 am #

        Are we talking about me here? I’m pretty sure I don’t have any kids, so I don’t know who’s okc profile you’re stalking…

    • Yeva August 14, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      I don’t think you even read the whole article, and if you did, I don’t think you understood it.

      Yes, women and men assholes exist on both sides of the coin. However, the worst-case-scenario consequences for a woman to approach a man (personal safety, rape) are very different than for a man (hurt feelings). All I said was that men need to start making the dating marketplace safer for women and more women will start approaching men.

    • dave August 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      Just Some Guy – Nice try,bud! The women are not listening …… unless, of course you agree with them!

  7. The Real Truth November 8, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    I would certainly love to have a woman Approach me for a change since they are Usually Very Nasty when i Approach them, and today the women are Totally Different than the ones years ago when it was Much Easier meeting a Good one back then.

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