Listen to this story
I often daydream about being a fly on the wall for dates I am not on. Not to be intrusive, but to observe. I hear, “you aren’t like other women” so often I’m left to wonder, what the hell could be so different? I have the requisite parts.
Over the years there have been hints.
A man I was seeing emailed me an autism-spectrum quiz after I asked why he listed himself as ‘athletic’ on his profile. It seemed a fair question. The pictures were accurate, the description was not. What was his take on the disparity? I was genuinely curious.
The answer was that I might have Aspergers.
This is why when men are excited about me early on, I tell them to lower their expectations. Much, much lower. It seems inevitable I am going to put my foot in my mouth. This has made me a world-class apologizer. Sometimes, I even mean it.
Another difference is that I don’t respond well to the hot pursuit. It gives me hives. For a lot of women that effort is validation of their attractiveness, but I don’t need or want that. I like to upend courtship by being my real self from the get-go, which for some men can be as off-putting as my frank observations.
I look for something closer to friendship with a generous helping of forbearance (and making out). I don’t want to be caught, I want to be known.
The difference that may be at the heart of the matter is that I am not passive, or perhaps, soft. The latter isn’t true, but I don’t offer that up front. It comes with comfort and attraction.
Most of the men I date are also divorced, and somewhere in the getting to know you phase they lament their choice, the things they didn’t see. I often ask what was the draw, assuming there was enough good to proceed. The response I hear most often is the woman they married had the hallmark signs of being a good mother. She was a kindergarten teacher, sweet, easy-going (hahaha).
On the face of it, there isn’t anything wrong with those characteristics, but they bely some persistent myths about what makes a woman a good partner. Namely, passivity. I took on raising three children I didn’t give birth to as a full-time parent so who’s winning now? Yeah, still not me.
My point being that sacrifice and the capacity to love do not live in a woman because of her passivity, or lack of it. Fierce women who must be reasoned with and give their consent to plans also make great mothers.
A man I was chatting with told me he was reading a book on the evolutionary theory that feminism has been held at bay through mate selection. Men tended to choose women who displayed passivity during courtship and reproduce with them.
It pained me to hear this because that sounded right. I felt passed over a good bit in my twenties. I suspect my forthright manner sent the wrong signals, or the men held erroneous ideas on how to choose a woman.
Somewhere in my forties I finally gave up on trying to be less ‘Rebecca’ (unhelpful advice I got). Instead, I have settled into myself and filled all the cracks and crevices with the woman who most interests me.
I let any ideas go of being more conventional. It’s no longer possible, probably never was, and that outcome is fine with me.