Dating Scripts: A Personal Story

Miriam, who keeps churning out brilliant posts, just wrote an article on whether it makes sense to follow traditional dating scripts:

Conventional dating scripts are being challenged all the time, but they still cling to life in the form of movies, TV shows, Cosmo, and many other bits of culture. They also continue to drive the actions and desires of many people, albeit not of me and the people I hang out with.

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that they make things so deceptively easy. Dating outside of the conventions seems riskier, scarier. But in reality, it’s not. There’s so much joy and freedom in writing your own rules, or forgetting rules altogether. It opens up the possibility of meeting someone who likes to play by the same rules, or lack thereof, as you do.

I agree with Miriam completely and I wanted to share a personal story demonstrating why what she says makes a lot of sense.

N. and I met when he came to New Haven for a summer job. I had been planning to move to Canada for my last year of grad school, so we knew from the start that I would be moving to another country within three weeks. N. couldn’t (and still can’t) leave the US because of his visa issues, which we also knew from the start.

From the moment we met, we were so much into each other that we start living together on our second date. Now what you have to know about me is that I prefer to initiate everything during the dating process. I like to be the one who invites the man on a first date, initiates the first kiss and the first sexual contact, etc. That’s just who I am. It makes me happy. I’m a total find for a shy guy who is afraid of rejection and doesn’t know how to go about such things. N. is the perfect partner for me because he is precisely such a guy.

So I got the chance to initiate everything and we were both happy as clams. Then, the moment came for me to move to Canada. Since the relationship was going so well, I really wanted to move my stuff to Montreal and then come back to New Haven and stay with N. while he kept working his summer job.

Here, however, I decided to adopt the traditional female role of sitting there like a patient little wallflower and waiting to be invited to come back to New Haven. I didn’t do it because I enjoy this role. I actually hate it. And I didn’t do it because N. had given me any indication that he wanted me to be this way. He obviously doesn’t, or we wouldn’t be together still. So I waited to be asked. And he was waiting for me to show that I wanted to come back.

And then we waited some more. And some more.

Finally, when all of my stuff had been packed into the mini-van and I was on the doorstep, resigned to leaving and never seeing him again, N. blurted out:

“But don’t you want to come back and continue being together??”

Of course, I did come back and we hope to remain together forever.

It really scares me to consider that I almost lost the opportunity to be with somebody who was very obviously made for me because at a ripe old age of 31 I suddenly decided to fake being all passive and traditionally feminine. I was afraid that I’d scare N. away by being all pushy, in spite of how clear it had become that he liked my pushiness, which is an integral part of my personality.

So I agree with Miriam: all of these traditional behaviors and dating scripts are bunk. It makes no sense to force oneself into a role that one doesn’t enjoy. And what’s the point of attracting a partner by acting fake? It isn’t like one’s true nature won’t come out eventually.

11 comments on “Dating Scripts: A Personal Story

  1. ! So true. Different people want different things. And having different behaviors is ok. It seems like people are always trying to reveal what certain behaviors mean under the surface, or insulting people who have dating standards that aren’t in line with societal norms. I read this awful website the other day that made women who want nice guys out to be crazy psychopaths. I really want a guy who calls when he says he will and is very nice and I don’t want to be in a relationship unless we like each other so much that we want to spend a LOT of time together. That’s just who I am. I’m tired of being called clingy, insecure, power-hungry, etc.

    Here is the article, read at your own peril. http://www.heartless-bitches.com/rants/niceguys/niceguys.shtml

    • From the article: “Self-confident, caring, decent-hearted women find “Nice Guys” to be too clingy, self-abasing, and insecure.”

      • As a very self-confident, caring and I think pretty decent woman, I can say that this is complete and utter rubbish. Some people can’t deal with insecure partners (and they shouldn’t if it bothers them.) Some people can and they help their partners get over their insecurities (if that’s what the partner wants.)

      “I really want a guy who calls when he says he will and is very nice and I don’t want to be in a relationship unless we like each other so much that we want to spend a LOT of time together. That’s just who I am. I’m tired of being called clingy, insecure, power-hungry, etc.”

      • The thing to remember is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being this way. Nothing. Wrong. At all. If there is a couple who has this symbiotic relationship where they are always together, exchanging endless texts and phone calls during the day, knowing where the other person is at all times and they are both happy, then that’s perfectly fine. If there is a couple who is the exact opposite and they dig being that way, that’s also perfectly fine.

      The important thing is to find a partner who would want the same kind of a relationship as you do.

      As for sensitive, shy, nerdy, quiet guys with very poor social skills, there is a great demand for them. I should know since I’ve scored the heavens and the earth looking for the nerdiest, the most sensitive and the most shy of them all. :-) And we are very happy together, while other people might see our relational model as weird.

      • “Get this Guys: INSECURITY ISN’T SEXY. IT’S A TURNOFF.”

        – It makes just as much sense as if I wrote: “get this guys. Blond hair isn’t sexy. It’s a turnoff.”

        Sure it is. For me. Other people, however, might have different tastes.

  2. Oh christ THAT articale again I read it a year ago dismissed it as tosh ever since then its followed me wherever I go, I swear its haunting me with its toxic badness.

    Anyway wonderful story Clarissa (I hope you don’t think it weird but I really enjoy reading unconventional stories of how people get together because there aren’t that many outside the world of blogging) I’m allot like your significant other it seems I like pushy assertive women I think they’re cool they usually tend to be really smart as well which is always a great bonus. Its not that I’m insecure about my shyness but it’s always nice to know I’m not alone.

    • “I hope you don’t think it weird but I really enjoy reading unconventional stories of how people get together because there aren’t that many outside the world of blogging”

      – I’m happy you like my stories. :-)

      ” it seems I like pushy assertive women I think they’re cool they usually tend to be really smart as well which is always a great bonus”

      – My entire life I’ve been hearing: “Don’t be to aggressive, don’t speak too loudly and so much, men don’t like to be challenged on their opinions, men don;t like women who argue and talk back, you need to agree more”, etc. And the funny thing is that women who kept giving me this advice couldn’t scare up a date for years. Because some people might dislike aggressive women but most people really hate a fake.

  3. My own personal story: I met Mike originally on the Internet Hegel list. I’d been delving into Nietzsche and some other guy was mentioning Hegel, so I thought, oh well, I would delve into him, too (Hegel, not this other guy).
    Then Mike put me on his jokes list, so I received jokes he sent out periodically to his online pals. We wrote to each other and I said I was thinking of leaving Perth and he said I was welcome to stay at his place in San Francisco. Then I said, you know what, why don’t you come and stay here, instead?

    In the mean time, I went on holiday to Zimbabwe, came back and decided Mike had a very good character. He seemed pretty robust and tolerant.

    I continued to pursue the idea that he should come here. He decided he would ask for a redundancy. He received it and began selling all his household items.

    I made arrangements for him to stay in a motel for several weeks. I picked him up at the airport and we went directly to this motel. He immediately wanted to have a shower after 30 odd flying hours, and threw his clothes off: “Uncircumcised as you can see.”

    The whole process of picking someone up from the airport and wondering if he would turn up had been exhausting, so we lay down in the bed and had sex.

    After a few weeks of visiting him at his motel, we moved into a small, rental apartment together. That was in January 2001.

    We’ve been together ever since.

  4. What a great story! I’m glad to have served as the inspiration for your telling of it, and I’m glad your relationship with N has worked out so far despite all the cultural indications that it won’t.

  5. I think the writer of the article linked above by Liz has got her archetypes mixed up. “Nice guys” (TM) and generally non-assertive guys are not the same thing, although the non-assertive guy may often find himself described as being generally nice.

    Your & N’s story is lovely.

  6. Pingback: What to blog about | zinemin's random thoughts

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