It doesn’t hurt to flirt

Women and men approach the dating game differently. Call it genetics, call it societal constraints, the average man and woman differ in their approaches. It would seem men have an “I shall overcome” mentality while women have the view that one rejection is a prelude to more to come.

I have always marvelled at the ability of men to think you are not talking to them when you look them in the eye and say: “You disgust me and I would rather chew off my arm than let you touch it.” This seems to translate to: “I am being coy and truth be told it would be very nice if you would offer me another drink and, possibly later on, your male parts.” The other option is they seem to think you are addressing the poor unfortunate soul behind them.

A male friend taught me the phrase “perseverance over persistence = success”. With this wisdom a great number of interactions with men made sense. Every woman has a harrowing tale of “the man who refused to take the hint”. Not replying to instant messages, crossing the road to avoid him, pretending you have a boyfriend, pretending you do not live in the city/country. None of it mattered, all excuses a mere hindrance to the greater cause.

Women, on the other hand, seem to have an over-active sense of rejection or an under-active sense of “water off a duck’s back”. This could stem from the outdated idea that we are not meant to pursue and thus when we do attempt and fail it confirms this archaic idea. Once a potential even gives a hint of disinterest we head for the hills, our tails between our legs. When we are rejected it is not merely by the one who rejected us but the entire demographic they represent.

With men it’s just the object of his (brief) desire that rejected him and somebody will soon relent.

One must applaud the ability of one man to approach a group of women and enter the conversation. He is unabashed by the deafening silence that descends or the death stares coming from the “sassy one” in the group. Her crippling stares mean nothing to him (she is probably the one who wants it the most) and he inserts himself into general interaction. In some cases even proceeding to dominate it.

Why do women not follow the same thought process? Why do we not take the same chances? Go to a table full of men or women, with one of them in our sights, and just insert ourselves? Text the object of your attraction every day until they reply? Why do we not go into a space and hit on people we find attractive until one of them “gives in”?

It is because we see our rejection as confirmation of our reality — that we are not supposed to be doing this and thus shall not succeed at it. The same male friend explained to me “the idea of that greater fool is the one who always believes they will succeed”. Men believe they will always succeed, if not now, then later. They must succeed. Often with women there is a (large) part of us that believes we may not. Or should not. Hence when we try and fail we see it as confirmation rather than a mere hindrance.

I was once personally rejected after attempting to be a modern independent woman, my male-prey told me he was observing lent and was trying to stay away from one of his key vices, namely women. What his rejection said to me was “you are heinous and awful and must crawl back into the hole from hence you came”.

Lent? Are you kidding me?

Needless to say, despite having had success with men before, that night changed my entire modus operandi.

Granted I later found out this was true, but it was too late. My carefully constructed “Amazon hunter queen” image was destroyed. One smudge on my track record had me hanging up my hunting bow and arrow and looking to return to the more agricultural methods of courtship open to women. I went back to sowing the seed of interest and growing it with healthy doses of hints, flirtations and patience. But this has never been the case for any of the men I know. I have seen some of my guy friends crash and burn in spectacular ways and they brushed it off as if nothing had happened, neither taking the time nor requisite shot of whiskey to quell the sting. To some of the crazier ones it seemed to spur them on.

I admired and despised it.

Women’s fear of rejection far outstrips that of our male counterparts. Or maybe men are just better at hiding it and during those times when they have cast the net wide and not been blessed with a catch they go home and turn on the “be strong man” playlist while nursing a mug of hot chocolate and Kleenex.

But as women we must not be afraid of rejection, we are the catch. It’s just a hiccup in the road as we all know that women are far more likely to find a bedfellow than men. We must embody the die-hard attitude of our male comrades and convince ourselves the rejection coming our way is for the person behind us. Or the one rejecting us is, in fact, certifiably crazy.

Women who use more subtle methods of flirtation and have found themselves catching small fish it may be time, in 2014, to change bait. Think about how many not-so-amazing men are with amazing women. We should not be paralysed by this fear of rejection, we must boldly go where we want to go and hunt where we want to hunt. We cannot complain that there are no prospects if we are not willing to cast the net far and wide because if you are sitting around hoping your next good meal will walk on by. You may end up starving to death.

Image – AFP