With the beginning of every new year come the resolutions to find a boyfriend. But how do you find somebody to date? What are the secrets to finding a partner? Better yet: How do you find and keep a good man?
In my experience, I’ve found that applying feminism to my dating life has worked wonders
Here are my top seven feminist dating hacks.
1. Don’t Be Afraid To Take The Lead
While you don’t need to be as forward as my friend Claire and message all your Tinder matches with “hey wanna bang??,” you shouldn’t be afraid to keep things moving. If you want to meet your online match in person, ask them to coffee. Show your romantic interest by engaging in some flirty touching or playful dialogue.
I understand that rejection is scary but men are (unfortunately) not mind readers and have limited amounts of energy. Sometimes, if we want to get anywhere with them, we’ll have to suck it up and make a move as well.
2. Kick Sexual Taboos To The Curb
Do you and your partner want to have sex on the first date? Go for it. The second? Sure. The 470274938th date? Sounds good. If your guy judges you for your being too “slutty” or “prudish,” then guess what? He was definitely an asshole anyway and you’re much better off without him. Sex, particularly in the context of relationships, is not about appeasing one person or doing what you think is “socially acceptable.” When you let go of the idea of what sex “should” be, you can enjoy it more. It becomes a mutually enjoyable experience rather than just a prerequisite of the relationship. In turn, this experience will help you and your partner bond.
The ONLY important things are that you are happy, safe and comfortable.
3. Know It’s OK To Have Feelings
I myself am frequently criticized in the feminist community due to the high value I place on my romantic relationships. I’m told it makes me “weak” and that I should focus more on my career, my friends, and blah, blah blah.* But I recently realized that having feelings and wanting a life partner does not make me any less of a feminist. Feminism is about choice and about not being seen within the context of your gender. Even if I was not focused on my career or my friends, why should my choice, of my own free will, be shamed? We celebrate stay-at-home dads and househusbands.
Furthermore, when we shame women for romantic feelings, we enforce the false idea that feelings are a weakness. Needless to say, this idea is incredibly toxic. Everybody has feelings – Even men.
So as you go along your dating adventures, don’t shame yourself if/when you have feelings or think it makes you “weak.” Shutting yourself down or monitoring your emotions will only make it harder for you to connect with people.
4. Remember That Men Have Feelings Too – They’ve Just Been Taught To Repress Them
The ways in which the patriarchy hurt men are numerous and hard to quantify. Most obviously, it has taught men that they cannot rely on or feel deeply for another human being. Women, furthermore, have bought into this lie and become convinced that men are soulless and sex-crazed robots. If we get one to date us, it’s less to do with their feelings and more with their desire for sex.
But here’s the secret: Men honestly just have as many feelings, sometimes more, than women. Men fall in love faster. A higher percentage of men want “more romance in their marriage.” And most men will take longer to get over a breakup. So if a guy seems into you, then it’s likely because you’re awesome and not because he has some hidden agenda.
I understand that, in order for women to protect themselves, they have to assume every guy is a player until proven otherwise. Plenty of men (and women) will misuse their power for sex. It can be tricky to spot what’s real. But you can’t shut down every possibility because you might get hurt. If something feels genuine, you do a disservice to him, yourself and men at large, by insinuating it’s not.
5. Be Clear About Your Needs & Desires
Don’t beat yourself up for having needs in a relationship. If people didn’t have needs in relationships, we probably wouldn’t have them in the first place. And unless you’re demanding that your man move across the world or marry you after the first date, you’re probably not asking for anything too crazy.
If something is bugging you, tell your partner. Maybe you want them to call you every day. If that’s the case then be clear as to why you want it and what it means to you. Then, if they have an issue with meeting that need, see if you can come to a compromise. Maybe their busy job prevents them from calling every day but they can send a “goodnight” before they go to sleep.
REMEMBER TO TALK. IT. OUT. Extensive research has actually demonstrated that couples who constantly talk about their needs/problems are much better off.
If you think your needs are reasonable and you’ve tried to communicate, but still coming up short, don’t be afraid to cut it off. It doesn’t make you “needy” to want things and it doesn’t make him an asshole. Most likely, you two have different emotional needs in a relationship and are subsequently, not a good match for each other anyway.
6. Be Your Own Prince Charming
Buy yourself flowers. Get the extra fries. Spend an hour drinking wine in the bathtub. It’s amazing how when you’re happy with yourself, the world will always follow you. While it’s perfectly OK to want a life partner, it should never come at the expense of yourself. Loving yourself and having a life outside of your romantic endeavors will endear you to more people and (more importantly) protect you from ending up in sub-optimal relationships.
7. Don’t Settle For Less Than Total Respect
Women are often told to “stop being so picky” when searching for a life partner. We’re implicitly told that even if a semi-mediocre match comes along, it’s probably the best we’ll ever get. So we might as well lock it down in order to not die alone.
But, unless a woman is looking for an Idris Elba look-a-like and Harvard billionaire that brings her flowers every day, her standards are probably fairly reasonable. Really. We just want a nice guy who kisses us on the forehead, helps us with the dishes, and responds to our text messages. We want somebody who doesn’t take us for granted.
This year, remember that you deserve this type of love.
You deserve that respect.
Settling for less is both a huge disservice to yourself and to the thousands of other men who are out there. There are good men out there and you deserve one.
Because let’s not forget what’s at stake here: You are ideally trying to find somebody who you will be spending every day with for the rest of your life. And while no marriage is perfect, ending up in one that is consistently unhappy (or that ends in divorce) can have serious health consequences. It’s always better to be happy alone than it is to be unhappy with somebody else.
So if he doesn’t treat you with respect, puts you down, or makes you feel anything less than special,
THROW. HIM. IN. THE. TRASH.
Put on some Lizzo, walk out that door, and find somebody who values you for the queen that you are.
Keep your head, heels, and standards high.
Thanks ladies. Happy new year.
I’ll see you then!
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*This is, of course, despite being a top-tier grad student with a plethora of amazing friends.