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Ask the Coach Pt 2: Why are women so hard to approach?
In my attempts to avoid being a dragon lady, I’ve been trying to see things from a good guy’s perspective – and I have to use that adjective since most women I talk to feel there is a big distinction between a genuine guy and a creepy guy and I have to agree.
As a result, I am empathetic for these men who simply want to chat with women, who kinda don’t really know how to break the ice, and who get met with disdain. I’d love to say that most men mean No harm, No foul — if only this were true all of the time. And if only we women could reliably intuit when the guy means no harm.
But it’s not so easy.
And because of this uncertainty, many women put a wall up when approached by an unknown, solicitous man.
What are we women afraid of? Our own safety.
The stats of violence against women are staggering. How’s this:
- One in every four women have experienced severe physical violence by a current or former spouse, significant other or boyfriend.
- Stalkers victimize approximately 5.2 million women each year in the U.S, with domestic violence-related stalking the most common type of stalking and often the most dangerous.
- One in five women have been raped in their lifetimes, and nearly 1.3 million women in the U.S. are raped every year.
And from what I understand, many incidents of violence against women come from people that the woman already knows (but I can’t find a good statistic to corroborate).
But even still, the statistics cited above are sobering – even more so when we realize that these types of crimes are often the most under-reported.
So it’s no surprise to me that women can be less-than-receptive to a man’s advances.
“Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”
~ Gavin de Becker, author, The Gift of Fear
But clearly, meeting and interacting with others (often strangers) HAS to take place for people to fall in love. So what are we to do?
If you are a woman reading this post:
Since many men don’t understand that they need to make sure the woman feels safe, take responsible for your own safety.
The easiest place to begin is to look for the signs of insensitivity or lack of conscience or manipulation.For example, if while planning a first or second (or even third) date, he chides you when you insist on driving yourself to the rendezvous site, pay attention. If he tries to persuade you that he will “be good” or “a gentleman” when you say you’re not comfortable going to his house for a second-date dinner, stand by your boundaries. And take steps to protect your privacy.
Be clear on what you need to feel safe. Think about it ahead of time so you can express yourself confidently and firmly. To learn more, check out RAINN.
And if you’re a man reading this post, consider this:
As the man, you’re also responsible for making her feel safe and protected. Does that sound a little old fashioned?
Well, if you look at the roles of men in ancient cultures (and I mean ancient), you’ll see that the protector is part of the “warrior” aspect. Being a “protector” was considered a sacred role. (And if there is something I would love to see more of is men adopting a more sacred relationship with their masculinity. Divine Masculine anyone?)
I don’t fully understand how guys think, but given my observations, I don’t think women’s safety is often on their radar.
Now I’m not talking about just physical safety (though obviously that’s important too), but also emotional, and spiritual safety.
Certainly we have a long history of not only disregarding women but also of considering women to be inferior (and in some cases “evil” or in league with the “devil”). Let’s look to the witch hunts in Massachusetts for an example. Even amongst modern cultures, women are considered second class, or “sinful”, or even as objects to be traded.
Looking at the treatment of women across time, I sometimes wonder why women would even care about being more receptive to a man’s attention.
So guys, if you really want to approach women, you need to cultivate trust. And to convey trust, I’d recommend paying attention to how you interact with the women already in your life. Consider how you interact with them, and with others when the women in your life are around. Do your actions, words, and even thoughts reinforce that you are a protector and trust worthy?
Also observe how you express respect for women. Some guys have told me that holding doors is cheesy or needy. I suppose it can be if you choose to look at it that way. But what if you considered holding a door open as an act of chivalry, of good-mannered graciousness. (And by the way, I think that most women appreciate chivalrous acts – gallantry doesn’t imply that a woman is helpless.)
And what if you were to shift your mindset from doing something because you’re trying to impress to doing so because you are a protector?
I got some tips from my friend Charlie, who I feel to be not only a good guy, but also someone who embraces the sacred role of the warrior, the protector. (He is also always surrounded by women and, I might add, is the quintessential geek. His looks are definitely not the attraction factor – no offense my dear friend – which makes me conclude that his general attitude toward women is highly appealing.)
He had some interesting things to share on how to establish trust:
• Always think of how you can put her first. Allow her to order first, walk first, sit first, etc. When walking down the street, walk on the side that puts you between her and traffic. If you do this from a place of strength rather than need to impress, she will notice.
• Spend time in conversation learning about her and her world. Give her room to open up and don’t talk about yourself too much. When she shares a vulnerable thought, empathize and add your opinion in a caring way.
• Be genuine.
And it might do you well to start talking to your female friends and relatives about how safe they feel in the world – and what makes them feel unsafe and why. Learn to see things from the opposite of your perspective, to cultivate empathy. Your empathy will profoundly influence the way you interact with women and set you apart.
Now, I feel like I’ve just become an advice columnist so I’ll leave you with some good coaching questions:
Women: What would you need at each stage of the dating process (from initial meeting and conversation to the second, third date – and even beyond) to feel safe? What would you need to honor within yourself – and what would you expect from a man?
Men: How can you become more aware of women’s need for safety? And how can you incorporate women’s needs into your “approach”?
But for easy reference:
 Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Merrick, Chen & Stevens, 2011.
3]Black, Basile, Breiding, Smith, Walters, Merrick, Chen & Stevens, 2011.
Rennison, C.M. Rape and Sexual Assault: Reporting to Police and Medical Attention, 1992–2000, Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2002, NCJ 194530.U.S. Department of Defense, Sexual Assault and Response Office, FY 2009 Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, March 2009.