Drilled Since Diapers

I recently read a blog post judging a dude’s dating choices. In it, the author, Charity, explains that this dude gave her female coworker a dozen red roses after a first date. He also offered to fly Coworker to Las Vegas later that same month. Charity opines that Dude’s “generosity” is a sure sign that he’s a straight-up player, which I concede is likely, but seeing the stream of comments that followed agreeing and calling for Coworker to dump him raised my hackles.

I don’t think Dude should be written off so fast. Coworker should be careful, absolutely, but Dude’s poor dating decisions may be the direct result of years of gender role tropes such as “Women want to be doted on” and “Women want to be provided for.” I think he should be given some slack.

source: www.etsy.com/listing/91052242/furniture-for-monster-high-dolls?ref=related-0
I couldn’t resist. (photo credit: monsternitezzzz on etsy.com)

Full disclosure: I’m as gay as a Monster High doll on a chaise lounge. Why do I feel qualified to weigh in on this issue? Not only am I an impartial observer, I also was raised, through no fault of my parents, to be a Real Man.

When I was little, I remember older relatives instructing me to eat my spinach so I could grow up big and strong. The implication being a woman wouldn’t want me otherwise. I remember TV programs showing me how proper men wooed prom dates with limos and crisp tuxedos. “Women want strength” and “Women want to be wooed” are two more common tropes, in my very unscientific opinion. Tropes like these are just as pervasive now and, Mila Kunis-Kutcher, are they getting specific. Magazine articles dictate what women expect on first dates. Commercials pinpoint the jewelry store from which women prefer their diamond rings. In other words, I, along with almost every other guy in America, have been drilled since diapers on society’s expectations of how to be The Man in a relationship.

photo credit: Jessica Thomas  http://fp1001photographyblogjessicathomas.blogspot.com/2010/11/power-of-colour.html
photo credit: Jessica Thomas (source: fp1001photographyblogjessicathomas.blogspot.com)

That said, maybe Dude is just sticking to misguided tropes because he’s confused by all of the instruction. Yes, he may have less than noble intentions, but I can also see how he might think roses are a good idea. He likes this woman. He wants to make an impression on her in order to stay at the top of her boyfriend contender list. It’s lazy, sure, but it’s the centuries-old answer men have been taught women desire.

What about the meaning of a dozen red roses, you ask? I think many young women would be surprised at how little some men pay attention to the arbitrary meanings of flower-gifting. (Read in: about as much attention as they give to the cleanliness of their bedsheets.) A man sending those roses after a first date either knows exactly what he’s saying or has absolutely no clue.

Dude’s choice to fly her to Vegas is harder to parse. It’s over-the-top, no doubt. But is it surprising he’d play the “I Can Take Care Of You” card so early in the relationship given that he knows he’s in a competition? I don’t think so.

These tropes, and the miscommunications surrounding them, are what make the two sides in the dating game so mutually exclusive. Again, I’m not saying Dude isn’t a player. I just take umbrage at his immediate dismissal by commenters. That is, unless I find out Dude didn’t open the car door for her, in which case she should totally dump his inconsiderate ass!

(source: my Facebook feed as I was editing this post)
(source: my Facebook feed as I was editing this post)