5 things women need to stop feeling embarrassed about in dating — and life

TL;DR — themselves.

Going out to get food or drink alone

Going to restaurants alone. Going to bars alone. Going grocery shopping — alone.

I really and truly don’t understand why so many women struggle with some or all of these things.

Like, how are you even living your life if you can’t feed yourself on your own? Terrified to go out to eat and uncomfortable grocery shopping ? Srsly, I love you, but how are you eating? Do you phone a friend each time you’re hungry?

Two friends I was talking to recently both said they won’t go to bars by themselves, because it’s “weird” for women. They don’t think girls “do.”

And I’m just like, what. Because I’m a girl, and I do. When I was a consultant who traveled ~100% of the time, we all did, and many of us were women. So… there’s that, so it’s obviously not 100% true. Get over it.

But more importantly: believing that you can’t go to a bar or restaurant alone as a woman in this day and age is as bad as believing you couldn’t go to a city park as a woman alone like, what, 100 years ago? You want to subscribe to that model? Go for it.

But the reality is that you actually can feed yourself, or buy yourself a damn drink, without being chaperoned. You can even travel alone, move to a new city alone, buy a house alone, or run a company — alone. Eating and drinking are basic human functions — mere child’s play. You’re really fine with pretending you can’t do those things for yourself?

The sky won’t come crashing down, and your ladylike virtue will not go up in flames.

Going to do anything else alone

You wanna see a movie, go see the movie. Go shopping, go to the gym, go to that art gallery — whatever you want. You do not need anybody’s permission, and you certainly do not need the buddy system.

If you can’t go out in public with yourself, you’ve got a serious self-love and comfort-in-your-own-skin problem to address.

You’re a grown-ass woman, my darling.

Flirting with someone you didn’t know was taken

Dude. This shit is on the other person, not you.

I was recently listening to a podcast episode titled “The Most Embarrassing [Bar] Story Ever.” And I was like, “wow, most embarrassing ever? This is gonna be interesting!” I mean, it’s gotta at least be actually embarrassing, to say the least, right??

It wasn’t.

In it, the two podcast hosts (both women) told the story of how they’d gone out together and approached a group of dudes at a bar. Apparently one of them hit it off with one of them; cue extended small talk and initial chemistry and potential sparks.

Until Mr. Could-Be Right bounces to the bathroom, and his (Mr. Do-Gooder but shitty wingman) bro turns to our two lead ladies and says, “uh, he has a girlfriend.”

While retelling this story to their listeners, one of them mourned, “we looked dumb.”

And like, girl… No.

You didn’t look anything except socially-acceptable; two normal-ass women out to meet some dudes, responding appropriately to conversational green lights. You didn’t look dumb. Homeboy looked dumb. You only picked up what he was putting down; he was the one laying out bullshit.

Being stood up

When I first realized people feel embarrassed when they are stood up, I was like, “Wait. What?”

Because, like, holy fucking shit — are you also someone who blames rape victims? In the words of Ethan from Something Borrowed, “I can’t take this ‘daddy beats me because he loves me’ excuse.”

If I’m stood up, you want to know how “embarrassed” I feel? Zero fucking percent. You want to know who I think should feel embarrassed? The other person. 100%.

This includes dates, interviews, and anything in between.

If I feel anything, it’s irritation. I wasted my time, and I don’t like that.

But in the realm of karma, my shit’s just fine — it’s their’s that’s fucked. So how, in god’s green earth, do you actually find any room to feel embarrassed about anything here? Stop.

Looking less-than-perfect

Hokay… honey cakes, I would just like to point out:

It is not your job to always be put together for other people.

You are a human person, with imperfections. What’s even sexier than pretending otherwise and putting on airs is honesty and acceptance and comfort with yourself.

An acquaintance recently told me that she refuses to talk to dudes at the gym, because “I don’t want to talk when I’m all sweaty and stuff — that’s weird.”

No. It’s not weird. What’s “weird” is pretending that you don’t sweat — at the gym. Or avoiding someone because, god forbid, they might see it. At the gym.

Same goes for putting on full makeup to go to the grocery store (for those that do it on their own, #highfive) or whatever else.

I’ve been on first dates in jeans and flip-flops — with dudes I later dated for years, who were also the sort of suitors my mom and girlfriends later told me they were “super jealous” of me for dating.

You don’t have to be polished to perfection to get a “high quality” man.

You’ll get much farther in life — and love — being comfortable in your own skin. And putting *that* out there.

Mansplaining makes me laugh

Because every time a dude mansplains, all he’s really doing is revealing his insecurities.

I was recently riding my motorcycle on the highway during rush hour, crawling at 20 mph or so in the left lane, and this guy pulls up next to me with his window rolled down and shouts, “your lane ends in a few miles!”

I literally laughed.

Because 1) I take this route almost daily. I know quite well that the lane ends. But 2) even if I didn’t, it’s a permanent lane merge on a major highway. There’s repeated, overly-conspicuous signage — massive yellow signs overhead and additional white block letter warnings painted on the asphalt. Meaning: you’d pretty much have to be an idiot to miss all of it. And yet this guy felt compelled to warn me. 😂

And hey, maybe it had nothing to do with gender. Maybe it was just because I was approachable on the bike — and maybe, if he’d had it his way, he would have happily gone car to car and warned them all. Maybe he was “just being nice.”

Sure. Maybe.

Though somehow I doubt that.

Mansplaining is insecurity

It’s not simply a matter of a dude knowing more (or thinking he does), because plenty of well-socialized individuals can know more about a subject than the person with whom they’re speaking and say nothing.

A mansplainer’s primary motivation is not to know more, but to talk over the other person — regardless of knowledge.

It’s about air space, not accuracy.

And yeah, it stems from feeling (or wanting to feel) superior, but it’s such a desperate grasp at demonstrating it that I can’t see it for anything other than what it obviously is, which is: true feelings of inferiority, and a compulsion to overcompensate accordingly.

Men don’t just do this with women. They do this with each other, too. Mansplaining is just another dick-measuring contest.

“My dick is bigger”

The “mansplaining” I get most often are all the guys, nearly every day, who approach me to talk about my motorcycle — with the sole purpose of telling me they ride or used to ride, and that, most importantly, their bike was bigger.

I can’t help but laugh afterwards each time, because the unstated insecurity and grab for masculine superiority is so obvious.

Being bothered by mansplaining is insecurity, too

I don’t get upset about mansplaining in the same way I don’t get upset about a child explaining something I know more about.

I might think the kid is a know-it-all little shit, but more likely I’d just laugh it off. I wouldn’t take it as a personal attack, or chalk it up to “ageism.” He’s just a kid, being a kid. And it’s just that some of us don’t ever outgrow that and develop self awareness.

It’s an 8-time divorcee might give relationship advice. Or an obese person might get preachy about what we should and should not be eating. Or mansplainers.

But it’s getting this diet or relationship advice when I am happy with my body image and love life — and knowledge.

If I am truly secure in something, the worst impact any “helpful advice” should have is make me laugh.

The only reason we would feel threatened by mansplaining is if our value systems are suffering — i.e., that we either assign too much of the value to men that they so desperately grasp… or, more likely, that we don’t assign enough of it to ourselves.

Why you don’t really want to be financially “taken care of”

They’re buying something of equal or greater value, and it’s not loyalty, sex or love.

Financial support isn’t love

I have had several serious boyfriends who offered to pay for everything — nice meals out, international travel, the full rent in luxury places; one who wanted to pay off my student loans; another who only half-joked about buying me an Audi to match his own, and later, my Ducati. (I did not take either of them up on those offers.)

To a lot of women, this looks and feels a lot like what we’re told is “the perfect relationship;” even “love.” After all, isn’t “being taken care of” the big goal? It certainly was for my mother, who encouraged me to stay with these dudes and took their side after I dumped them, “friends” who told me they were jealous, and numerous other women out there in society who dream of Prince Charming “saving” her by way of financial support.

But it’s not the easy ideal we think it will be.

They do it to benefit themselves, not you

Financial support is a power play, subtle or overt. Because whoever has the gold makes the rules.

At its best, the power play is subtle

Men like this get off on feeling that they are “taking care of you” — i.e., that you are someone who needs “being taken care of” — i.e., someone lesser.

It may not feel like this at first (even to them) because it’ll look like the “love” we think we want, but it’s not. (Unless you actually think of yourself as lesser, but I don’t.) Consciously or subconsciously, he’s paying for position.

At its best, you are a live-in, long-term escort — someone expected to dine and smile, have a nice time, be nice company, go on trips with him, maybe drive the nice car and carry the nice bag… it all sounds fun, right? Really livin’ the dream. Until you realize that you are effectively a tote bag with a pretty face. And at the end of the day, if you have any self-respect, that becomes emotionally and psychologically deflating.

At its best, it is benevolent sexism— the pinnacle, perhaps, of an “ideal” heteronormative relationship. The notion that a man’s role is to provide; the woman’s role is to be a pretty, passive consumer of a lifestyle bought and paid for by someone else.

And sure, her end of the deal is, simply: to enjoy. But the unstated dark side of that is: always, and without real complaint.

He may give you play-pretend arenas of power — choosing the restaurant, the vacation, the house, the couch, the car, the bag, the babies — and he may yield to your requests, but always because he’s assured you only have superficial power in meaningless areas, while he holds the real power of earnings, and yes or no.

He’ll swear up and down that he loves you, but it’s all a safe-space sandbox within the context of how you fit into his life.

At its worst, the power play is overt and abusive.

The worst ones will throw the financial support in your face any time they want to end a fight or silence you. They will engage in emotional warfare with “I could kick you out at any time” or “most women would be grateful for what I do.”

The only way to renegotiate power is by taking away their financial stronghold and paying your own way — or leaving.

The heartbreak

Too often, people don’t know how to love as equals, without subjugation or submission — and that’s what this is.

If you are happy to exchange your self-worth for (false) “security,” then being “taken care of” financially is fine. You don’t really love him (you love the security he provides) and he doesn’t really love you (he loves the ego-boost of providing) — so this is balanced in other ways.

But if you are looking for love — and equality — the exchange becomes draining. The heartbreak happens when you approach these relationships thinking they will be loving, because they aren’t.

It may take you a while to realize it, especially if you have a lot of direct and indirect encouragement from other women and society, but eventually you’ll hear your self-worth whimpering in the night.

And then you’ll have to choose between that and those high thread-count sheets in which you hide.

How to be happily not married at 30

It’s not about “marriage” so much as it is about the men who want to marry you, and why.

Every boyfriend I’ve had — all of them “high quality suitors” who were good-hearted, made good money, or both — has wanted to marry me.

Most of them who told me just a few months into dating that they wholly intended to get married — and continued to remind me of this during the entire tenure of our relationship.

Most women would swoon — because that’s the goal, isn’t it? Marriage — but I don’t.

The issue is: they just want the idea of me. They want possession and the security of “someone like me” in their life.

I know this because:

  1. That’s all it can be just a few months in. They don’t even know me at that point — we’ve never traveled together, cried together; I’ve never confessed my biggest aspirations or fears. They just want to marry me without actually getting to know me —and that’s not love.
  2. That’s all it is when I ask them years later why they love me, and their first answer is, “because you’re beautiful.” Full stop. (Because, all romantic notions to the contrary, “beauty” is not love.)

I actually have nothing against marriage — I would marry for real love in a heartbeat. But I refuse to marry a man who loves the idea of me, or me on the surface, or “me” in some partial form or possession. And so far that’s all they’ve been.

Too often, we make “love” into something violent — either submission or subjugation; a power play and ploy for personal interests. And if that’s the way it’s gonna be, I ain’t wanna play.

I’d sooner be alone and happy than legally tethered to someone who says big phrases like “marry me” when all he really means is “I want to make you — or rather the ‘you’ as I see it — all mine.”