The Dating Dearth: A Man's Perspective
By John Mallon
©Catholic Online 2004
"Why don't the men ask us out?"
This question—and lament—is one frequently sounded by women on many college campuses. I was discussing this issue last year with Mrs. Dale O'Leary, a Catholic writer from Rhode Island who does a lot of writing and speaking on Pro-Life issues and is active in the cause of Authentic Catholic Womanhood. She is very intelligent, feminine, and a lot of fun. Being a single man with a vested interest in the topic, I offered her some of my thoughts on the matter, knowing that she often gives talks to single women and hoping she might pass on an involved man's perspective.
I said, "Dale, these women are not giving us any cues that they want to be asked out, and without some indication or encouragement that he might be well received, a man is not going to risk the rejection—which men are far more sensitive to than women evidently realize."
She thought for a moment and said, "When I was college age, and I was at a party, and there was a certain fellow that I wanted to come talk to me, there was just a certain way I could stand, and he would be over within minutes!"
I responded, "Well, Dale, that's gone." She became very grave, "Really? Oh that's terrible... but these are the little things we learned at our mother's knee... you mean you don't see women doing these little unspoken things, that interest a man?"
I said, "Nope. In fact, many men have come to think women don't even like men, because of the way women react to their initial overtures, yet, the women wonder why men aren't asking them out, they're either not saying yes, or they're not sending the signals." Dale said, "Oh dear, this is serious, I have to talk to some of these women; something basic to our culture is being lost. No wonder so many women are so unhappy."
I told her that one of the rarest qualities to find in a young woman today—at least towards eligible men—was kindness. So many men are simply starving for kindness from a woman but so often find sarcasm and cynicism instead. One man commented to me on a climate nowadays of a prevailing hostility among women towards men. It is easy for a man to feel that some women are actually looking to find fault, ready to pounce on him at the slightest ill-chosen word or misspoken comment. In Christian women this can manifest in self-righteousness, or a kind of assumed moral superiority over men—often unconscious on their part. Men complain that they often feel around women that they cannot win, or say or do anything right. Such women drive men away.
Perhaps women today may have good reasons for these attitudes, but they are very wounding to a man, especially to an interested man who is serious, sincere, and sensitive.
Such a man will not ask such a woman out.
He simply doesn't want to be around it. I understand that in today's world it can be imprudent and even downright dangerous for a woman to be too kind too soon to a man she doesn't know well, and even then there still is chance of betrayal. The Sexual Revolution has ruined it for everyone as far as trust goes, but sarcasm and cynicism towards men have become epidemic in our society, and it has become so ingrained, so second-nature, that most women are not even conscious that they're being that way—but the men are. And they go the other way.
In terms of the risk factor, Mrs. O'Leary said that traditionally it has always been up to the woman to control how far things went and how fast, and, if she liked him, still keep the man captivated. I said that in the confusion of the day that that was perhaps one more thing that was lost, or at least severely damaged. What has been lost, Dale felt, was an ancient womanly wisdom that women in previous ages had always intuitively known, on how to "handle" (not manipulate) a man—that is, how to anticipate him and keep him happy.
A modern woman might interpret this sort of thing as "game playing" but it is not. It is a deadly serious business that holds civilization together. Quails and pelicans have their mating rituals and dances and so do humans.
According to the encyclical of Pope Pius XI, Castii Connubbii, the wife can and ought to claim the primacy of love in the home, as the husband claims primacy of authority. The heart must balance the head and vice versa. So, far from playing games, the maintenance of this delicate and glorious dance between the sexes is all important, and often calls for special wisdom, the shrewdness of love, from the woman. For women interested in this, Mrs. O'Leary recommends a book called Fascinating Womanhood by Helen B. Andelin (Bantam Books). This book attempts to explain to women how men view love relationships, what they really want and need out of them. I have been reading this book and as a man I can say from ...
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