Dating is Competitive Manipulation

January 29th, 2007.

I think I was around 19 years old when I became mildly interested in my co-worker, Jack. I fancied his voice and when you’re young, dumb, and pumped full of estrogen, that’s all it usually takes for a man to earn an eyebrow rise.

I casually made some inquires on Jack’s status and soon learned that he had a girlfriend. Now usually, a girlfriend is merely a small obstacle that can be quickly overcome, but in Jack’s case, this was a 4 year old relationship. At our age, a 4 year long relationship was an eternity. To me, that suggested that there were some real feelings between Jack and his girl. Maybe they were even in love.

Upon that realization, my mild interest abruptly turned to ‘I have to have him.’

The truth is women love to compete with other women. Women want to win men over. They want to be chosen by a man who could have any girl he wants. No woman of caliber wants to win a man by default. She wants her man to be a prize, a good catch, someone she can be proud of. When you tell a woman that her significant other is handsome or intelligent, she’ll likely beam with self satisfaction. In complimenting her man, you’ve complimented her. You have told her, in so many words, that she is capable of attracting a quality mate. The women who rail against this usually have a low self esteem and thus avoid competition because they fear they’ll always fail….or they’re ugly. You pick.

I’m not sure if this is socialization or biology. After all, how many men are constantly exclaiming that they couldn’t get a date to save their lives when they were single, only to snag a girlfriend and be surrounded by willing seducers? It happens all the freaking time. My situation was no exception.

And anyone who is shocked by the fact that I was about to cross a line and nefariously woo a boy away from his girl needs to give me a fucking break. When I was 19, I was not deeper or more self aware than any other girl my age. I was not ‘above’ anything. I was the same idiotic, short sighted twit as the rest of them. Cut me some slack, already.

Also, I’d like to point out that my ways of wooing a man are embarrassingly old fashioned. My great grandmother gave me all of my dating advice as a young adult and she was born in 1904, so it included such pearls of wisdom such as ‘never look at a boy first, don’t express too much interest, never start the conversation, and for god’s sakes, never initiate The Talk.’ But I’d also like to point out that my great grandmother was happily married for 52 years, so take her advice for what you will.

So I commenced with my wooing which included some light laughter, a couple of well placed accidental flashes of skin, and a few knowing looks. When Jack invited me to grab some coffee after work, I’d smiled at him coyly and say, “Now that would hardly be appropriate, considering your girlfriend…” and then I’d sashay away before he could answer.

Yeah, the logical part of my mind can hardly believe garbage like that works, either. But dating isn’t about logic. It’s all maneuverings and subtle manipulations.

After about 6 weeks of this, Jack invited me out to dinner, but before I could turn him down he teasingly informed me that he no longer had a girlfriend to insult my sense of appropriateness.

Girlfriend was out. I was in. We began casually dating.

But even as I tentatively claimed victory, I second guessed myself. After all, Jack and I were only dating. He and his girlfriend had enjoyed a four year long relationship. If I couldn’t inspire in Jack those same feelings for myself, technically, technically, I had not won. It wasn’t until I pondered this that I realized exactly how much competition had motivated my actions. Sure, I liked Jack. But had he not had a girlfriend, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to get to know him enough to like him in the first place.

I started thinking about all the other ways in which women compete. For example, fashion. Women don’t dress to impress men. Men are just as happy to see you wearing one of their shirts than in a smart pants suit. Women dress to impress other women. Women also compete with other women in terms of popularity and prestige. They gather friends and worshipers around them like little status symbols. Men don’t care about how many phone numbers a woman has programmed into her cell phone.

Before you claim that I am, once again, judging women too harshly, I will concede that a good portion of women grow out of this behavior as they age. True, in current generations enlightened women are becoming increasingly fewer, but who knows? The world isn’t stagnant. It can change.

But I’m digressing again, so back to my story.

In my muddled teenaged mind, I wondered if competition would inspire Jack like it had inspired me. So I decided to perform a little experiment.

I bought myself 2 dozen red roses. I wrote on the card ‘I can’t stop thinking about you.’ Then I placed them in the corner of my room, on top of my entertainment center. My goal was to make sure that they were visible without making it seem like I was purposely trying to draw attention to them.

That evening, Jack came to pick me up for our date. I did not mention or even glance at the roses. Instead, I quickly informed Jack that I had re-thought my wardrobe and I was going to go slip on a sweater. I went into my bedroom to change.

Now, the hall to my bedroom was decorated with 5 full length mirrors. So from my bedroom, I could spy into my living room. I watched Jack warily eye my roses. I watched him nervously pluck the card from its holder. I watched him put the card back and skitter to the other side of the room. When he was safely in the clear, I came bounding out of my bedroom cheerfully wondering aloud which movie the pair of us should see.

“I was thinking that we would skip the movie,” Jack replied, “I’ve got something else in my mind.”

I had never had so much fun on just one date. We went to some place and played laser tag. We went for a romantic hike in the woods. We ended the evening in an expensive Italian restaurant sharing plates of pasta full of good cheer. During dessert, Jack got serious for a minute. Finally, finally, Jack was initiating The Talk.

I’m having so much fun, he says. I want to see where this goes, he says. I’d like for us to be more serious, he says.

What he meant to say was that he’d like to beat the crap out of the mysterious guy who bought me flowers. Figuratively speaking, of course.

The point of my story isn’t to brag. I’ve been the girlfriend before and I’ve lost my man to a more fetching woman. However, I will stipulate that moments like that usually occur when one stops putting effort into the relationship.

The point of my story is to illustrate how inclined both sexes are to compete against their peers, even in terms of dating. Hell, especially in terms of dating.

I can usually tell if a relationship is doomed the second I hear a woman putting herself down in front of her boyfriend. Ladies! Constantly referring to yourself as ‘fat’ or ‘stupid’ or ‘worthless’ won’t inspire tenderness from most males. The only thing you’re doing is convincing him that he made a mistake in choosing you. It is no coincidence the second your self confidence evaporated was the same second he developed a wandering eye. You told him you sucked and now he believes you. He’s wondering if he could do better.

Men do the same thing. The self depreciating man who tells his girlfriend that he’s lucky she loves him because no one else will is begging her to suck his best friend’s dick. No woman respects a man she suspects would die fat and alone without her divine presence. What does that say about her that they guy she chooses to spend her time with is only with her because no one else would have him? Every time a man fawns all over his girlfriend because she had the benevolence to let him stick his pee pee in her, she starts to wonder if she could attract a guy who isn’t such a fucking tool.

And if you are a loser or a reject who struck gold by snagging your significant other? Pretend you’re not. Don’t constantly insult them by vaguely suggesting that they ‘settled’ for you. Besides, if your significant other is as wonderful as you say, they probably have solid, legitimate reasons for being in your company. Don’t underestimate yourself.

And if you have already lost respect for your significant other and wonder if you can do better? Drop them, already. Trust in the fact that there is someone, somewhere, who will see your ex as a good catch. Of course, your ex will probably convince them otherwise and get dumped again, but at least you don’t having to listen to that pitiful whining anymore.

Above all, respect the role that competition plays in our personal relationships. If you slack off during a race, you’ll likely lose that race. Likewise, if you slack off with your relationship, that relationship will probably bite the dust.

Unless, of course, you’re cheating. But in both cases, even the cheaters usually get caught.

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