What I Hate About Dating Women vs What I Hate About Dating Men

Aka why I am terrible at relationships

Something like 80% of women fake their orgasms sometimes. What does this mean?

It means that, when women date, they’re optimizing for something that’s not sexual pleasure. So what are they optimizing for?

Security and status, I think. Sure, not all women, but a lot of women. Enough women. And, maybe you think that lesbians aren’t like straight women on this front, but enough of them are for it to be inconvenient. I have observed, from going to lesbian venues, that a few things matter a lot when I’m trying to date women.

  1. My style, and if it is adequately queer.
  2. My social status within the community (lesbian events that are tech oriented, where I get to be a “programmer” and that’s seen as an admirable thing, tend to be better for me than lesbian events where I’m just another rando.)
  3. My willingness to do stupid and possibly dangerous things (like fighting sports, for example.) I don’t do sports like that anymore, but I did, and I’m pretty sure from talking to a bunch of women that I’d be hotter to them if I was still doing them.
  4. My adherence to lesbian political beliefs

One thing is, when attracting women, their attention always seems very contingent — contingent to my continued conformation to a certain set of standards. However, what’s weird is what they say to me will be nicer than what men say to me. I dated a guy who told me he’d dump me if I put on 10 pounds; I can’t imagine a women ever saying that. However, I have definitely received a frosty “no calls returned” after voicing a few controversial political opinions. A perverse irony is that men actually tend to be a lot less superficial than they claim (when I told 10lb guy obviously we could never have kids because he’d dump me, he cried and said he hadn’t been serious) and women are often a lot more superficial than they claim. But, women won’t vocalize their judgements. Men will knock out all this hurtful shit, but when push comes to shove, sometimes they don’t actually care. Women often won’t complain, but will seethe in silent dissatisfaction.

And, yes, these are all generalities. I know. #NotAllWomen and #NotAllMen — but there are trends that I’ve noticed from my experience, and talking to other people about their experience. And these trends have reasons that I’ll get into later.

Men, on the other hand, do voice their dissatisfactions. They seem to derive significant parts of their identity and masculinity from traits their partner has, traits often their partner can’t control. So, the nice part of this is that, once you make the cut, you have relative freedom. I can have completely different political opinions from the men I date, for example, and this usually isn’t a problem. On the other hand, if there’s something they don’t like about you, the game’s over before it begins. You don’t get a chance, there are no personality admits to this ride.

And, this has a deeper more sinister, objectifying vibe. There are three things that seem to matter the most to men I date:

  1. How pretty I am
  2. How smart I am
  3. If I am willing to physically bear young

The third one is often assumed (something lesbians never assume, btw) which usually leads the first two being the criteria of judgement. Often when dating men, I feel like a horse being analyzed as breeding stock. Men don’t date me because they think we can have a nice life together, they date me because they think I will produce good children. (And, while I have met men who didn’t want kids, I have never dated one. They’re a little rare.)

There is also something a little bit socially darwinian about the whole thing. The overriding assumption with guys I date seems to be that the most valuable thing I have to contribute to my children is my DNA. My life experience and wisdom? Worthless. I mean, maybe that’s too harsh — many men do care about personality — but only after I’ve made the DNA cut. And, it’s worth mentioning, I think many men care about intelligence more than looks, so they’re not “superficial” exactly, but they view intelligence as an inheritable trait and they like me because they think my kids will get that trait from me. My primary bartering chip with men is what I was born with.

Anyway. Why does all this matter?

I guess, to summarize it, I never feel loved from the people I date. I do feel loved by other people. I feel loved by my friends. I feel loved by family. I feel loved by my religious community. But my partners? Usually I don’t feel loved by them.

And, you know, maybe it’s me! I’ve worked under the assumption that it was me for years, that I didn’t love myself enough to be loved by others or something. But… as the years go by, and as I find myself surrounded by love in other arenas, that’s starting to feel false. And, the particular ways I lack love from my partners seems very much to fit into how society oppresses people at large.

Women have historically been denied the ability to form social status in their own right. They used to get social status from the men they married — and, it seems like this mindset has continued (and, even penetrated into the lesbian community.) Additionally, women continue to earn less than men, and often need help with the logistical aspects of life. Many women are willing to sacrifice their sexual desires in favor of material support. I’m constantly plagued by the fear that this woman isn’t really into me when dating women. I’ve had to work through some internalized homophobia, because for a while, I sort of believed women weren’t able to be strongly attracted to other women, but this was proven false by several of my own very strong, same sex attractions. And, though logically I know because I’m strongly attracted to women, other women must also be strongly attracted to women, I often just end up feeling like an outlier. I feel like I’m some weirdo, as if there’s something wrong with me.

So then, because I feel like my attractions are freakish, I usually don’t express when I’m super into a girl — I wait to see if she expresses interest in me. But, if she acts like me in this way, then she won’t express interest, and the cycle of terrible continues. (I mean, nowadays I force myself to express something, but I still find it difficult.)

I think this comes from a deep, culturally instilled shame women have about being turned on by people. Which, like, makes sense actually. If you’re a woman, being turned on by people is dangerous. If you’re someone whose only path to material stability is through the person you marry, marrying for lust puts your entire future at stake. You need to marry for far more rational reasons. So, you learn to repress feelings of lust — you tell yourself I never really wanted that anyway, and settle for someone who will take care of you. Sometimes, I feel women making this particular trade off when they date me, and I have infinite sympathy for it, but oh my god I really, really don’t want my partner to look at me that way. I think for me, dating a woman who can support herself is an absolute necessity for this reason, but uh… actually, a high percentage of lesbians don’t seem able to do this. Many lesbians I have dated seemed to be barely getting by, and this is absolutely because of the intersection of female and queer oppression, and I can’t blame them for wanting to ease their life, but I also want to be loved for being something other than an ATM.

Men, on the other hand, have been brainwashed into being ATMs. Most of them seem to blindly crave a different kind of love than they receive, but can’t really articulate what, why or how. Most men that I know have devoted a significant portion of their happiness and personal freedom in their 20s and 30s to making money. The Oatmeal’s comic on what red velvet mites have to teach us about love basically sums up how I view men in society now — at least the ones I know. The male red velvet mite goes and builds a little nest, and if a female red velvet mite likes his nest, she’ll make some babies with him. Men in their late 20s to 30s start building these little nests and hope women will come. And, it’s kind of sweet, actually. I have no problem with that.

Where it gets icky, is that men have to devote considerable time and resources to building their nests (or, “money-piles” if we’re gong to use less cute language) and they expect a return on their investment. Women become a commodity, and they’re seeking to get the “best” woman for their money. Because their nests are so costly, many men give up on their personal desires and dreams to build them, so things like “a woman with shared interests” becomes less important. Why date a girl with shared interests if you had to give up all your hobbies to attract her? And, yes, #NotAllMen, but too many men. I’ve seen too many men give away too much of themselves trying to attract women with their material success.

When dating, women look at me and wonder “will this girl give me the life I want?” and men look at me and think “is this girl worth the money I had to earn to get her?” For women I am a provider and for men I am a purchase. But, is any of that love?

As much as we wish it weren’t so, it’s very hard to step out of our assigned social roles (though I do think it’s possible.) I don’t think these things are love, but it’s possible that these dynamics can exist alongside love. But, for many people they don’t. Many people opt for what they can get from their partner, and assume that is love. But it’s not. Liking a person because they support your lifestyle or liking a person because they’re hot aren’t really expressions of love. They’re just a trade you’re willing to make to get the resources you want or need. And, that’s important. Resources are important.

But, there’s something else too. My friends don’t get these resources from me, and yet they love me anyway. Is it possible to access that kind of love in the context of a romantic relationship, or do the barter-like dynamics inherently ruin such a possibility? Can we changer our relationships such that our material needs aren’t blocking our access to deeper, more open kinds of love?

I don’t know. I hope so!