Dating Wisely 1.56: All Together Now, Part 2

Top Two

This brings us to our second-to-last post in this Dating Wisely series. Over the last couple months, we’ve discussed 13 concepts that can help you to make good choices out there in the dating jungle. However, if 13 concepts are too numerous to keep in mind, let me simplify with the two most important ones: Dating Wisely Concept #1: Personal Growth Before Personal Fulfillment and Dating Wisely Concept #6: Differentiate.

Primarily Personal Growth

Dating Wisely Concept #1: Personal Growth Before Personal Fulfillment is necessary because that’s what happens anyway. Along with all their splendor, the best relationships are simply a lot of work for both parties, so you might as well accept this fact and make it your goal to let the relationship grow you up into the emotionally mature person you were born to be. It’s just pragmatic.

If you don’t accept this reality, you’ll simply project your expectations onto each other and try to get each other to conform to your fantasy. You don’t like that, and neither does anyone else, so don’t do it. In the end, you’ll be grateful that you surrendered to all that personal growth because it can leave you with a comfortable, life-long friend and partner.


Dating Wisely Concept #2: Differentiate is also just practical. The brain wants to grow up and be emotionally mature. It’s wired to do that, even with all the emotional baggage that comes our way and confounds the process. It’s simply the developmental trajectory of human beings, so you might as well surrender to it. Plus, it’s a relief to be able to just be you; it’s too hard to be anyone else.

As e e cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” I’ll say! It takes a lot of time, too, but the effort’s worth it. Guaranteed. If you want a long-term, committed relationship, that’s what it’ll take. We’ve been talking about how important it is to “know thyself,” as Socrates and others have said, when it comes to getting the love you want. When you do, you can live with no regrets.

Identify what you want in life and then apply that to your relationships. Have you ever written a mission statement for your life? Or considered what you want on your tombstone? I want my tombstone to say “She loved well.” If I can get to the end of life and legitimately leave that as my legacy, I will die satisfied.

Hey, how about exchanging mission statements or epitaphs on your next date!? That should make for interested conversation!

Two Concepts, Like Two Partners

These two concepts make great bedfellows. Figure out who you are and who you want to be (differentiate), and then go into relationship with the primary goal of developing into that person in every relationship (personal growth), romantic or not. Every relationship will challenge your resolve to be that person, particularly when you bump up against the differences between you and the other.

This is simply life’s gift to you, to help you grow into the kind person you can be proud of. If you’re choices are between pseudo and solid, solid always wins in the long run.

You’ve been a trooper! Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up our discussion with a nice big bow.

Dating Wisely 1.55: All Together Now, Part 1

Knowing, Believing, Trusting

Today brings us to the first of a few concluding posts in this Dating Wisely series. Over the last couple months, we’ve considered 13 concepts to help you identify your goal and make every choice support that end…or you simply won’t make it to your desired destination.

The difficulty is 1) knowing yourself; 2) believing in yourself; and 3) trusting your strategy will get you what you want.

To figure out who you are, you might start with figuring out where you are on the tough-minded/tender-hearted continuum. When you figure that out, you’ll likely be attracted to someone on the opposite side of that continuum, at approximate the same distance from the center. That means you’ll have to accept who you are and you’ll have to accept someone who’s different than you are.

So that’s a start to figuring out who you are. There are also a plethora of values inventories out there to help you identify your emotional map. There are no right or wrong answers here, any more than there are right or wrong places on the tough-minded/tender-hearted continuum. But the values you have and the values your date has won’t be exactly the same. For example, you may place a higher value on gratitude than your partner, and s/he may place a higher value on generosity.

Wherever your values are different, you will have some tension. No worries. Take it slow, and make sure that you aren’t committing to someone whose values so completely clash with yours that you won’t be able to accept the other without trying to change him or her.

Learning My Values

Let me offer an example. I used to value control, so I used to pursue the men I was in relationship with, because I was concerned that they would leave me if I didn’t. That never worked to get me anything but passive men, which isn’t ultimately attractive to me. After many years on my healing journey, I finally made it to a place where I just let a potential love interest pursue me. Many did, and it still took almost 10 years to find one man whose intentions and capacity were compatible with mine.

I also learned that rejection wasn’t so bad when I simply accepted myself. I didn’t need someone else to affirm me then. I learned to accept that rejection simply meant the relationship wouldn’t have worked in the end anyway. I no longer needed to pursue dead-end relationships, and I came to trust the process, whether that meant I’d end up with an intimate partner or not.

After I learned about intimate connection, I couldn’t settle for anything less. Most of the singles I met (men and women) said they wanted the same thing, but after being around them for a while, I learned that most didn’t know how to achieve that, so they bumbled around making all kinds of choices that didn’t serve the ends they said they wanted.

Living My Values

By the time I met Brad, I was clear about who I am and the kind of relationship I wanted. I knew, for example, that I don’t do casual sex, and I don’t do sex with someone with whom the relationship isn’t exclusive. I made this clear to Brad on our first date, and that was appealing to him, even though he would have slept with me much sooner than I was ready. If I had believed that sex was necessary to secure his interest, I would have made a choice that didn’t serve my long-term goal to be solid in relationship. He tells me that because I was different from any other woman he’d ever met, he was willing to wait as long as needed. In order to “separate me from the herd,” he says, he suggested that we commit to an exclusive relationship after four dates. I agreed.

Once it was clear that I wasn’t just another girl on Brad’s dance card, our relationship was able to progress to a deeper level. Prior to that, I kept my pre-commitment boundaries clear, while still offering my emotional warmth. Plus, I had to allow enough time for me to pop the STD question without too much awkwardness. When you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they’ve ever slept with, and I had to be sure I wasn’t going to get a gift that kept on giving. (Incidentally, the two men I dated before Brad lied to me about their STDs. Both had one.)

Knowing who I am, communicating it clearly to my dates, and being confident that my strategy of making every choice match my desired goal increased my market value for the kind of man I wanted to be with. We teach people how to treat us by creating the conditions for that to happen, and by not settling for anything less.

Dogs Don’t Meow

Brad tells me that I’m the only woman he’s ever known who didn’t project my issues and expectations onto him. I’m sure I haven’t been perfect in that, but it certainly has been my goal to simply accept who he is without trying to change him. If who he is isn’t right for me, the only option for me is to not be in the relationship. I don’t have the right to try to change him. Plus, I don’t want waste my energy trying to make a dog meow. I learned in my marriage what a futile effort that is, and I promised myself never to do that again. If that meant losing a lot of potential relationships along the way, so be it.

Tomorrow we’re going to continue wrapping all this up so that you can get out there and try it out.



Dating Wisely 1.54: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 9

Justice and Mercy

Yesterday we took a look at an energy continuum on which the energy of the universe runs: the tender-hearted/tough-minded continuum. We imagined a world with only one or the other. All justice and no mercy? Autocratic, unjust. All mercy and no justice? Dangerous, unmerciful. No thanks. We need these forces operating in tandem, simultaneously, creatively in a complex world.

With all the gains men and women of the Feminist movement have made—mostly in trying to inject more tender-heartedness in a tough-minded social system—there are some important losses that we need to solve for. For example, we need to get men back to a place of knowing their importance in the social fabric of society.

The Economics of Sex

The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture says it this way in their video, “The Economics of Sex”:

“By nearly every measure, young men are failing to adapt to contemporary life. When attractive women will still go to bed with you, life for young men, even those who are floundering, just ain’t so bad. In reality, men tend to behave as well or as poorly as the women in their lives permit. Economists say that collusion, women working together, would be the most rational way to elevate the market value of sex. But there is little evidence of this happening among women today. At least, not yet. If women were squarely in charge of how their relationships transpired and demanded a higher market price for the exchange of sex, so to speak, we’d be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, greater male investment, longer relationships, fewer premarital partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on. For a women to know what she wants in relationship and to signal it clearly, especially if it’s different than what most men want, this is her power in the economy. But none of these things seem to be occurring. Not now, at least. Today, the economics of contemporary sexual relationships clearly favor men and what they want, even while what they are offering in the exchange has diminished.”

If sexual economics favor men, it’s only a short-term gain. In the long-term, both sexes pay—with unstable relationships. If we want long-term gains, we’ll need to solve for the problem of unrestrained sexuality too, so that sexual responsibility tempers sexual freedom.

Know What You Want

That brings us squarely back to your next date, where the battle of this emotional process in society silently rages throughout your conversation. I suggested the other day that it’s important for people to know what they want in a relationship and to put it out there clearly when they’re dating. That way, folks who want a long-term, committed relationship won’t be hooking up with people who don’t.

Keep in mind that when you say yes to one thing, you say no to another, and vice versa. Identify what’s required (of you, first) to get what you need, and say yes only to those things that will help you achieve that. That may require you to say no to a lot of things, too, and it may take some time to figure it all out.

Know Who You Are

Fortunately, you’re now armed with a wealth of information that you can use to decide how you want to be on your next date…and for the rest of your life…which starts now. Who do you want to be? Can you believe in and hold onto your desire for intimate connection long enough to learn whether or not the person you’re with is interested or even capable of the kind of connection you want? How can you get to know the other as a human being, without requiring him or her to be what you wish s/he would be?

I hope these posts can help you do that. I encourage you to go back and read them over and over, like daily meditations, until they form themselves into a practical picture in your mind about yourself and how you need to be in relationship to get the kind of connection you want.

That’s what we’ll talk about tomorrow: how you can figure out who you are and how you can confidently present yourself to the world.

Dating Wisely 1.53: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 8

A Paradigm Shift

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that we may owe credit to the emotional process in society that we now call Feminism for a paradigm shift that may take us to an emergent reality in intimate relationships. Let’s keep in mind, however, that evolutionary movements happen at an alarmingly slow, practically imperceptible, rate—which means I won’t live to see what I believe can happen. But I can still do my part to spread the hope!

To that end, let me expand on a statement I made yesterday: “We have the opportunity to make peace with each other by appreciating and seeking out the differences in the intangible energy we bring to relationship.” This intangible energy continuum can be named in a variety of ways. Some call it masculine/feminine; some refer to it as left brain/right brain. In 1907, Philosopher William James referred to it as tough-minded/tender-minded.

Tough-Minded and Tender-Hearted

James identified the two ends of this binary to be a fundamental and irresolvable clash between two ways of thinking. True that. It’s a pretty good characterization of the battle of the sexes, with most men falling on the tough-minded side of the continuum, and most women falling on the tender-hearted side. While that’s a gross generalization, I realize, it does characterize most couples—heterosexual or not. Opposites attract, for better or worse.

If we’re going to emerge into a new, better reality, we’re going to have to make peace with those on the other side of the binary, the folks that we find ____________________. Fill in that blank and you have the reason why the battle of the sexes continues so hotly. Both sides fill in that blank in the same way, and both then try to shame the other out of thinking the way they do.

Imagine a world where there are only tough-minded folks. If you think patriarchalism is a bad deal, imagine it without any moderating influence of the tender-hearted. Now imagine a world where there are only tender-hearted folks, matriarchalism, with no moderating influence of the tough-minded. That picture isn’t any better, if you ask me.

Reconciling Opposites

Imagine what would happen instead, though, if both sides put down the sword for a minute, and simply accepted that the other way of thinking is just that: a different way of thinking. It’s not morally inferior, or unintelligent, or wrong. It’s just the way the universe is arranged. We need to reconcile opposites by accepting that they just are, and then trying to understand the other. If we were to do that, we could emerge into a whole different emotional process in society…a truly progressive one in which the two ways of thinking value what the other brings to the table.

Let’s take this into a practical arena—dating—and let use my relationship with Brad as an example. Like many couples, Brad and I tend to fall on stereotypical sides of this continuum. He’s tough-minded and I’m tender-hearted. It just is. We identified this as an unresolvable issue when we made a list of our perpetual problems one day, and we did this so that we would simply stop arguing about things on this continuum. He can’t change my nature, and I can’t change his, so we don’t try anymore. In our more emotionally mature moments, we even seek one another out for a view from the other side of the continuum.

Brad likes to say that solving the tough-minded/tender-hearted dilemma is a matter of choosing which to use and when. I like to say that in every situation, we have to be thoughtful about what balance of each to use. See? We can’t even agree on that, even though we pretty much mean the same thing. His is a more black-and-white way of framing the solution, and mine’s more gray. And we still love each other.

Human (R)Evolution

I may not gain popularity points with Fourth Wave Feminists by saying so, but I’m afraid we need to look beyond the Feminist Revolution to a time when men and women work together, not against each other, for the stability of human society. We need to look at long-term solutions, not just stop-gap measures, and envision a new way of being in which the sexes no longer battle or vie for power over one another. We need to value the various kinds of solidity each brings to the team effort of social progression. We need the next human (r)evolutionary emergence.

Tomorrow, we’ll bring this philosophical conversation back to earth again, right down to the table with your next date.

Dating Wisely 1.52: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 7

A Phenomenal Paradigm Shift

Today’s post is dedicated to all people everywhere who want to be in an intimate, committed relationship…which still happens to be most people. Despite some of the worst long-armed by-products (porn, sexual confusion, gender upheaval) of the emotional process in society called Feminism that began with the French Revolution 250 years ago, human beings are still social creatures who desire intimate connection. This, in fact, may be one of the best long-armed by-products of Feminism. Let me explain.

When (in 1792) Mary Wollstonecraft began calling for equal education for women so that they could be companions, not just wives, to their husbands, she was suggesting a phenomenal paradigm shift in how men and women relate. Instead of operating in entrenched sex roles, Wollstonecraft believed that men and women could relate on an equal intellectual playing field.

Education and Financial Security in Relationship

Women are now experiencing the advantages of an educational system that began to open to them, and eventually began to tailor its delivery to more typically feminine ways of learning. I mentioned in a previous post that women now out-graduate men from college at a rate of three to two, and women are participating at an unprecedented rate in professional life on the highest levels of leadership. Consequently, they’re more financially secure on their own than ever before.

So what do they need men for if they don’t need them for financial security and fixing things around the house? And what do men need women for if they don’t need them to be dependent on them for groceries and handyman tasks? Men and women who consciously grapple with these questions inevitably reach important conclusions for themselves and their relationships.

Same Same

It turns out that, despite all the social upheaval around opportunity and equality, intimate relationships between men and women aren’t hugely different than they ever were. The energy that flows between couples is still powerfully attractive: masculine energy compels feminine energy and vice versa. Certainly, when this intangible energy is the glue to a relationship, rather than his tangible ability to provide a paycheck and her tangible ability to produce children, there are some important implications.

Now that the days of dividing labor along gender lines are all but extinct, we’re going to have to learn to understand the strange differences that characterize these two very difference creatures who say they want the same things. That’s part of the problem, though. When men and women use the same words, they don’t always mean the same things. In fact, they rarely have the same motives for wanting and doing the same things. Complicated creatures we are, to be sure.

An Evolutionary Opportunity to Emerge

We simply have to get better at relationship, and that means we have to actually get to know one another, instead of assuming anything about the other. I could tell you clinical story after clinical story about the difficulties that couples have simply because we have contact with each other in ways that didn’t used to happen in agrarian society. Now that we’re all shacked up with each other all the time, we actually have to learn to get along with someone who thinks very differently than we do.

But that’s the joy of this strange relationship evolution we’re in. The Feminist movement, emergent evolutionary process that it was, may have sparked the emergence of another social structure, a paradigm shift that will make us stronger than anything we knew before, when gender roles were the accepted order of relationships. If society is going to succeed, we have to get to truly know the other in all his or her strangeness, and we have to accept the other without trying to change him or her. (That doesn’t imply we have to remain in bad relationships. It simply means we may need to acknowledge and accept when a relationship is bad for us and let it go.)

If you’re not familiar with the evolutionary concept of emergence, it refers to the greater, transcendent realities that emerge out of the interactions between many smaller ones. I believe we’re on the verge of an evolutionary emergence in the battle of the sexes! We have the opportunity to make peace with each other by appreciating and seeking out the differences in the intangible energy we bring to relationship.

Now we’re onto something, and that something will need to become the next societal emotional process if we want to stop regressing and start progressing toward relational and societal maturity.

More on that tomorrow.

Dating Wisely 1.51: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 6

Gender Construction

We’ve been discussing the balance between freedom and responsibility in the societal emotional process, particularly regarding issues of dating and sexuality in the 21st Century. These issues have some particular implications for young adults that don’t apply as much to mid-lifers.

With her book The Second Sex, published in 1949, Feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir introduced the idea that sex isn’t biological, it’s a construction of culture and conditioning. “One is not born, but rather becomes, woman,” she said. At this time, the word gender came into parlance in place of sex when it referred to male and female. Fast forward 50+ years and young people today hardly question that gender is a mere construction. Whatever your feelings about it, it’s today’s reality.

Teaching About Sex

Many parents don’t even realize that the concept of gender construction is “a thing” because it’s so far outside of their own comprehension to think that the gender of their child is mere conditioning. Furthermore, most parents feel awkward talking to their children about sex, so conversations about these issues don’t easily cross generational lines. This leaves young people to find out about sex in other ways…and find out about it they will!

For example, although the words fornication and adultery were used with utmost disdain in the extreme fundamentalist religious system of my childhood, the word sex wasn’t mentioned in the home, which left me vulnerable to learning about it through my big brother who offered me to his friends as a sex toy. What I learned about then was sexual abuse, not sex or intimacy, and it took me my entire young adult life to come to understand the difference, a process that cost me much time, energy and money spent in psychotherapy. The impact of my confusion about sexuality eventually cost me my marriage, as well.

Pornography as Teacher

Add to this picture the mass proliferation and accessibility of pornography, another by-product of the emotional process in society since the 1960s called the Sexual Revolution. Pornography, to the tune of $4 billion per year, is the main way that children learn about sex these days, and in case you’re not aware, the porn of today isn’t the same as the porn of the 20th Century.

A therapist with special certification to work with sexual issues, I could curl your hair (or straighten it) with the stories I hear about the pornography available today and its impact. Hentai porn, for example, depersonalizes particularly perverse and bizarre sexual acts through anime. Just the other day, I learned of a 25-year-old female who’s unable to be aroused by anything other than Hentai porn. Real human sex is no longer appealing to her, and she’s seeking help.

A young man told me the other day that he used his unusually large penis to become a porn model. The money was good, he said, but he had to continually masturbate to remain erect for many hours on the job. Now he can’t stop compulsively masturbating (several times a day), and he can’t engage in the kind of relationship he wants because of the impact of his porn acting on his sexual psyche.

I recently learned of young lady who was proud of herself for not letting a boy kiss her because she wasn’t interested in him, so instead she gave him a blow job. No lie.

Sexual Intimacy

These are some of the by-products of sexual freedom without sexual responsibility, and they’re the unique dating and mating issues that face our young adults in the 21st Century. If you’re a young adult in the dating world, I encourage you to seek information about intimacy, not just sex. Intimate connection is still a beautiful human possibility—different from all other species that engage in sex by primal instinct alone.

If you’re not a young adult, perhaps you wish you could be again, because of the easy access to porn and crazy, fun, free, primal hook-up sex without regard for responsibility or the future. But let’s not forget the costs of such freedom. The young adults I know would give an arm and a leg to have truly intimate connections; they just don’t have a clue about how to make them happen.

A Sorry State of Affairs

I feel I should apologize to young adults who haven’t had intimate relationship modeled for them or taught to them. Porn is simply sexual acting, and its exploitation of real people is damaging. Sure, porn helps a few, but for every individual or couple it helps, there are millions whose relationships it destroys.

Gender construction and pornography have certainly changed the dating and mating landscape for young adults, and their parents are somewhere between horrified and befuddled by the rapid social and sexual changes. Mid-lifer conflicts over sex roles are vanilla in comparison…and so last century.

Fortunately, into this upheaval, we can inject some wisdom. Tomorrow we’ll look at what solid romantic relationship can look like for young adults and for mid-lifers. It turns out that solid human relationship looks pretty much the same for people of all ages.

Dating Wisely 1.50: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 5

Freedom and Responsibility

We’ve been exploring the unanticipated by-products of the Feminist movement, an emotional process in society that began with the French Revolution 250 years ago. Incredible freedoms have come to the common people as a result of that movement, including greater sexual freedom for women. Greater responsibility must balance this greater freedom in order to preserve the integrity of the social fabric.

What might greater sexual freedom and greater sexual responsibility look like in the dating world? This brings us back to Dating Wisely Concept #6: Differentiate – Know who you are and what you want, and communicate it clearly. Take responsibility for your contribution to the dating world.

Make Every Choice Serve Your Ultimate Goal

If you go into the dating market responsibly, differentiated, you can tailor your way of being in the market to serve the outcome you want. If you want to just hook up, say so. If you want a long-term relationship, communicate that. Then make every choice you make serve your desired outcome–especially when it means turning down a date that doesn’t serve your ultimate goal.

For example, when Jack asked me on Date #2 what I wanted out of a relationship, I told him that I wanted to be with someone who, along with me, would be interested in using the relationship primarily for personal growth and only secondarily for personal fulfillment. Not long after, Jack told me, “I’m just not feeling it like I was.”

I was grateful that Jack was so honest and direct. We could each move on; no harm, no foul.

Don’t Waste Your Resources

Rob, however, never accepted my clear communication about not being interested in a romantic relationship. Most men, when I was clear about my disinterest in either romance or casual sex (which I was quick to determine and always careful to communicate), would hang around for about six months, trying to get me to change my mind, and then they’d move on.

Rob tried to get me to change my mind for five years, despite my carefulness to not lead him on. One way I tried to keep it clear that we were just friends was to pay my way for everything when we hung out together. When Rob even tried to pay for tires for my car (he was in the industry), I insisted on paying for them myself. Tires may be a gift from a father, not from a friend. I even refused to ride on Rob’s motorcycle with him because I knew it would send him an encouraging message…the wrong one…and that would only cause frustration for both of us.

Only when I had been dating Brad for a while did Rob accept that I meant what I said. For those of you who may be dating someone who just doesn’t seem as into you as you are into him/her, don’t waste your resources (time, energy, money). It would have been easy to have dates and gifts and attention for those eight years in the dating market before I met Brad, but I knew that operating like that would come at great emotional cost—sometimes for me, and certainly for the other.

Give and Require Respect

If we want sexual freedom without consequences, this is the kind of respect for the emotional world of the other that men and women need to have for each other. It’s simply sexually responsible. We can’t really complain that the dating market is full of players (male and female) if we’re participating in the games, can we?

If you’re going to be in the dating market, though, you have to realize that many folks are doing just that. They aren’t signaling their intentions clearly for a variety of reasons: 1) they want to hide their intentions (playing, rebounding, hooking up, marriage, financial security, friends with benefits, etc.); 2) they haven’t consciously identified their own intentions; 3) they don’t want to be rejected for their intentions; 4) they don’t want to have to deal with any disparities between their intentions and those of their dates; 5) they don’t realize or acknowledge that others may have different intentions than they do; 6) and so on….

How about you? Do you know your intentions, communicate them clearly and make every dating choice serve them? And do you ask about the intentions of your date? Gotta keep your head about you in this market. It’s a jungle out there!

Tomorrow we’ll look at some more impacts of the Sexual Revolution on your dating life, particularly regarding some unique issues of young adult dating.

Dating Wisely 1.49: Study the Societal Emotional Process, Part 4


So what does the massive emotional process in society called the Sexual Revolution (a by-product of the Feminist Movement) look like in romantic relationship? Conflict. As a family therapist, I see couples when they’re in conflict that they can’t seem to resolve. Some of this conflict is a result of the massive cultural transition in which we find ourselves—a transition that has been building since the French Revolution 250 years ago.

Let me give an example. When I began dating Brad, we could hardly be in public together without women coming on to Brad…in my very presence. Perhaps that doesn’t surprise you, but I was completely unprepared for it. Whatever happened to protecting our sisters? I wondered. I can’t imagine hitting on another girl’s guy! I didn’t remember this happening when I was a young adult 30 years ago.

Extrovert that he is, Brad engages in conversation with anyone and everyone, and he seemed oblivious to the advances of these women. I, on the other hand, could hardly believe what I was seeing, until it happened over and over again. I was shocked every time, and it took a while for me to figure out what I needed to do about it.

Honoring the Other

In my own experience in the dating world years before I met Brad, I had learned that men experienced my playfulness as flirtation, while women experienced the same playfulness as friendliness. When several people I trust brought to my attention that my playfulness was giving men the impression that I was interested in them when I wasn’t, I resisted with vigor…for six months. I couldn’t accept that I had to dull my essential nature to cater to the misinterpretations of men—until several men in whom I had no interest told me that I was giving mixed signals.

So as not to confuse anyone or lead them on, I decided that it was better to allow new male friends to only see my intellectual side, not my emotional side. I felt stifled and bored with myself, but it was better than being the recipient of unwanted attention from men I wasn’t interested in. I was angry to have to curb my real self, but it seemed more important to respect the way men were experiencing me.

After several women came onto Brad, I shared my experience with him, explaining that women were misinterpreting him. He responded just as I had—he was angry that he would have to blunt his way of being to cater to women’s false impressions. In the end, Brad began to see the pattern that I was seeing, and eventually he accepted that it was more respectful to curtail his charm when interacting with women, so as not to give them the wrong impression. It took him about the same length of time to reach the same conclusion I had reached about myself.

The Games People Play

Thanks to the Sexual Revolution, these are typical dating stories, not anomalies. I found it interesting, however, when Brad found a newspaper article from the early 1900s titled, “Are Women Lacking in Chivalry?” “[G]irls these days,” Edith Johnson said, “are amazingly self-sufficient…. They play upon a man’s weakness in order to secure flattering attention and gay entertainment, to win a man’s homage and stage a demonstration of their power.”

Knowing that female sexuality is tremendously powerful, I consciously chose to not play games in the dating world. I didn’t want men to toy with me, so I purposed not to do so to them. However, I was completely unprepared for women toying with my boyfriend in my very presence. The sexual freedom that women now enjoy is certainly having significant impact on dating relationships. Working this conflict through was enormously stressful for Brad and me.

If we want men to be chivalrous to women, should we not want women to be chivalrous to men, as well? And for crying out loud, can we not also expect that women be chivalrous to women? I had no idea that we’d ever need to call for such a thing! With greater freedom comes greater responsibility, no? Yikes.

More on the practical implications of the society emotional process that has given us greater sexual freedom tomorrow.

Dating Wisely 1.48: Study the Emotional Process in Society, Part 3

Two Centuries of an Emotional Process in Society

In just two days, we traced a colossal societal emotional process through over two centuries! Today, we’ll bring the process into the 21st Century, right down to Valentine’s Day, 2017.

We’ve been noticing how the French Revolution, with the demise of monarchies, began to open up a variety of rights to common men, women, and slaves. A by-product of that societal emotional process was the Feminist Movement, which has now gone through three waves of development. The first wave increased women’s access to higher education and eventually granted women the right to vote, along with the common man. The second wave expanded the movement’s scope to include legal and social equality. The third wave expanded the movement to include issues of sexuality.

Feminism is now considered to be in its fourth wave, a wave that uses advanced technology, particularly social media, to include broader ideas of equal rights. The idea of intersectionality is the new face of Feminism, combining with other social justice movements for solidarity against oppression, discrimination and domination worldwide.

It would be a challenge to find a system in our culture that hasn’t been impacted by the Feminist movement, which some are now calling the Feminist Revolution. Family, law, education, the workplace, the workforce are nothing like they were when this country split from England in 1776, 20 years before the French Revolution. For years to come, we’ll continue to see the effects of this radical (r)evolution of human society.

Feminism in the 21st Century – Impacts on Dating for Women

And with any radical change in society, mass anxiety amplifies, increasing the risk of mass reactivity and its signature Band-aid legislation that tends to help some and harm others. For example, women have certainly benefited from the changes in how education is delivered, which now accommodates how a female mind tends to process information. However, women now out-graduate men 3 to 2 from college. A woman myself, I’m grateful to the men and women who fought tooth and nail to make opportunities available to women that weren’t available in previous generations.

However, I have to ask, at what cost? What impact has the Feminist movement had on men, for example, since we’re talking about the battle of the sexes? In the dating market, one result is mixed-educational and mixed-economic relationships, which wasn’t a problem when men were making more money than women. But when it’s the other way around, intra- and inter-personal conflict can result. I’m not making a statement about whether this should or shouldn’t be, just that it is. You’ll have to decide for yourself how to think about it.

Many educated women say they no longer need men—they’re economically secure on their own, and they don’t need a man’s income to survive. So educated women are delaying marriage in favor of their careers, and by the time they’re ready to marry, the men with whom they would be best-matched are either already married (to someone who’s statistically less likely to be a college graduate) or are non-existent due to the shorter supply of male college graduates.

Feminism in the 21st Century – Impacts on Dating for Men

In addition, many men—particularly those in mid-life—have experienced women who take advantage of divorce law, which now favors women when it used to favor men. Since 1839, with the Custody of Infants Act which led to the Tender Years Doctrine, divorce law began to favor women/mothers, sometimes financially crippling men/fathers and alienating from their children. All 50 states have now adopted no-fault divorce, increasing the number of divorces, along with the number of women in the workforce…and the number of extra-marital affairs.

Just as many women are saying they don’t need men, many men are saying they don’t need women. For example, there’s an online community of men called MGTOW—Men Going Their Own Way—who are unwilling to commit to long-term relationship (most don’t engage in relationship at all), because they believe that the benefits of relationship pale in comparison to the risks and costs. Such men experience society as gynocentric—favoring women to the detriment of men.

Many men, even if they aren’t as angry as MGTOW’s, still say that they’re confused about what it means to be a man anymore. While women have been progressing, the way that life was organized has been eroding beneath them without their consent—not that anyone was conscious that one group might be advancing at the expense of another.

Add to this emotional upheaval the new sexual market, now that the Pill and abortion allow women to engage in sex without fear of pregnancy. Sex is up and commitment is down, and that has immediate implications for your future with your new potential love interest. Although I wouldn’t suggest laying this out on the table for discussion on your first date, it’s certainly sitting there under your beverage coaster. What the…!

What to Do?

The Feminist movement couldn’t have anticipated such fallout, but some folks are starting to evaluate the process more broadly, trying to find ways to retain and expand the gains of the movement without doing so at the expense of anyone else. These folks believe that society needs a masculine-feminine balance, and that to diminish either is dangerous to the social fabric. Some women, however, feel that men deserve any inadvertent fallout of the movement, sometimes expressing the sentiment, “It’s about time men feel what we’ve felt for so long.” Such women believe that male-female relationships are inherently oppressive.

And that brings us to the present with the societal emotional process called the Feminist movement. This is a paltry historical sketch of 250 years of its historical development, I acknowledge, and I encourage a much deeper study for yourself. For now, suffice it to say that this societal emotional process (and others) comes with you on your date, so it bears some introspection. What does the social upheaval of the Feminist movement mean to you? And how does that translate into how you interact with the opposite sex?

Tomorrow, I’ll provide some ideas about what we can do about this massive societal emotional process that impacts your love life. For now, I’ll just send some Valentine’s Day hugs your way!

Dating Wisely 1.47: Study the Societal Emotional Process, Part 2

The 19th Century and You

Yesterday we began noticing how the emotional process in society operates in the same way the emotional process in a family does. The emotional process of the battle of the sexes, for example, is reflected in the Feminist Movement–a by-product of the societal emotional process of the French Revolution 250 years ago. At that time, non-wealthy citizens–men, women, slaves–began demanding the rights and privileges of the wealthier social classes, symbolized by the right to vote, although democratic governments were still largely non-existent.

Over the next century (the 18oos), social conditions for commoners began to improve, including voting rights for common men, and higher education for wealthy women. Achieving these gains came at the cost of great social upheaval.

Our discussion yesterday brought us up to the 1900s, which saw incredible gains in the social conditions for commoners, with U.S. women achieving the right to vote in 1920.

20th Century Feminism – Equality

Twenty-five years later, WWII required women to do “men’s work,” while men were off at war. The unexpected by-product of that reality was that common women gained economic power, which they had never had before. Rosie the Riveter became the feminist icon of the time.

In 1949, shortly after the end of WWII, Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex, arguing that males and females were no different, and that sex is more a result of our choice than anything biological. Her contention that “One is not born, but rather becomes, a women” stirred what would become the second wave of Feminism.

As the next decade progressed (the 1950s), an unrest among educated women developed just beneath the surface. Welcome to the scene Betty Friedan and her book The Feminine Mystique in 1963. In this work, Friedan identifies “the problem that has no name”—the widespread unhappiness of educated suburban housewives, despite having need of nothing. Her contention: finding her identity in her biology as a mother may not be satisfying enough for some women. “I think this is a crisis of women growing up—a turning point from an immaturity that has been called femininity to full human identity.”

In the effort to bring women into the mainstream of American society in fully equal partnership with men, Friedan co-founded the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966. The Feminist movement ran parallel to the Civil Rights Movement, piggy-backing on the public sensitivity to oppression.

20th Century Feminism – Sexuality

Furthermore, the FDA’s approval of the Pill in 1960 allowed women to engage in sex without the fear of pregnancy, which significantly increased the availability of sexual outlets for both sexes, dramatically altering how men and women interacted with each other before marriage. Combine that with an increase of women in the workforce, and the accessibility of marital affairs also increased. Add to that the growing legislative thrust for no-fault divorce, which California was first to adopt in 1969.

Then in 1970, members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) began to press upon NOW for issues of sexuality to be included in the feminist movement. Friedan’s attempt to separate issues of gender equality and opportunity from issues of sexuality eventually failed, giving birth to the third wave of Feminism. This wave, with its manifesto Woman-Identified Woman, became the next face of Feminism. Betty Friedan withdrew from the movement to put distance between her and radical lesbians whom she called the “Lavender Menace” and whom she felt would illegitimize the movement in the eyes of the public.

20th Century Feminism – Social Upheaval

Is it any wonder why into this social upheaval Alan Toffler introduced the term Future Shock, publishing a book by that title in 1970, to describe “a sickness that comes from too much change in too short a time. It’s the feeling that nothing is permanent anymore. It’s the reaction to changes that happen so fast that we can’t absorb them. It’s the premature arrival of the future. For those who are unprepared, its effects can be pretty devastating.”

And the social upheaval would still continue. Through the 1970s, women continued to gain ascendancy with leaders like Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine. “As Ms. Magazine widened the reach of feminism, it helped usher in a new era of the women’s movement. In the years to come, the movement would migrate from an outsider’s insurgency to the mainstream of American life where it would lay siege to the country’s most established institutions, even the relationship between men and women” says the 2013 Documentary film Makers: Women Who Make America, Part 1.

Then in 1973 with the legalization of abortion, women gained even more freedom over unwanted pregnancy than they had even gained with the Pill. Over the next several decades, women climbed the professional ladder at lightning speed.

The 21st Century and Your Next Date

And that brings us up to the present. We’ll bring the historical discussion into the 21st Century tomorrow, and then we’ll take a look at how that societal emotional process comes right down to you and your date…just in time for Valentine’s Day.