Tuesday, August 23, 2005

From Sunset re:Dating sites

I'm just gonna put some of her entry here- her blog is private, so you can't go read it yourself- but I don't think she'll mind and if she does it'll come off! You'll notice she's a really great writer:

That said, I'm not joining a Catholic dating site. My rationale for doing so is not passivity, but is something far different, which I will now discuss.

Imagine I joined Catholic Singles (or whatever). In putting up a lovely picture of myself, listing all my data, I would be saying, "This is my body, given up for you." Hey--that's a knock--but that's not a female "way of knocking!" In marriage, the culmination of courtship, it is the man who says, "this is my body given up for you" and the woman says "be it done to me according to your Word."

Men and women are different. We have different roles in relationships--and we have different ways of knocking when we want something! Women are different. Complicated. Confusing. Maddeningly so! We therefore have a different way of knocking when we like someone! We play hard to get.

There is no way a woman can join a Catholic dating site that could be read as saying "be it done to me according to your Word." It can only be "This is my body." How can a woman put herself out there on a website AND play hard to get? It says: "Here I am." Game over. Where is the batting of eyelashes? Where is the mystery? Where is the playfulness? If both a man and a woman say "Here is my body, given up for you," who will receive, when both are so busy giving?

Women get embarrassed. We're mysterious and we get mysteriously embarrassed when we like someone. We don't put ourselves out there. We don't ask men out on dates. We don't propose marriage. We don't serenade them. Putting ourselves out there makes us embarrassed. Guys have no problem putting themselves on a spreadsheets, while women are unspreadsheetable and that is our eternal allure!!

In my interpretation (which could be wrong), putting oneself on a Catholic dating website only makes sense for men. And by refraining from posting my stats on a Singles website--doesn't mean I'm passive, it means I'm a woman and even thinking about it makes me embarrassed.

If I like Mr. X, I'll play hard to get, won't look at him, get embarrassed and let him ask me out if he wants to. These are verbs. I'm not being passive. I'm knocking. This is woman's knock. I'm communicating to God that I want Mr. X in my own, womanly way (i.e., being mysterious and confusing). It's not woman's role to "kill the cow" and grab a husband. What then would the man's role be?

Woohoo! I want to clarify one thing before it gets misunderstood. Sista Sunset doesn't mean all women play hard to get as a game-- we all know that some women do that and that's not what she's talking about-- she means that for many of us, when we like someone, we get embarrassed and suddenly can't talk to them and can hardly look at them. This isn't playing games, because it is not intentional, but it is part of the dance. And I don't think she's saying that it's easy for men to put themselves out there- I'm sure it's not- but that's part of being a man. In our society, women have been told to take all these things into our own hands and to believe that that is only natural. Ask a guy to homecoming if you want (ahem, 1998), ask a guy to dance if you want to dance; God knows you can't count on them to do it. Don't sit around waiting for them! But it's interesting what has happened since this has become our mantra. Now men know that they don't have to make the effort. In the "old days" if they didn't make the extra effort, they would spend every Saturday night alone at home. Now, chances are quite good that they will have a date before they even thought much about the girl they're taking out. (Of course there are exceptions) And another result is that I think the fear of rejection, which must have always been present, has been hightened for men because they put themselves out there less often. They only want to ask someone out if they're positive they will say yes. But if it's someone like me or Sunset, there's pretty much no way they'll know this unless they know us really well. I repeat, this is not intentional! It's just that we suddenly feel like we're back in 7th grade, and the cute boy across the room glances in our direction and we turn red and focus hard on the graffiti on our desks until he stops. Not that we don't like it. And not that we don't want him to do it again. I can only imagine how frustrating that must be if you're the cute boy in question, but, that's the way it is sometimes. St. Joseph, help these guys out! Mary, help us to know how to encourage them in the right way.


Jen P said...

I never joined a dating site of any kind, Catholic or otherwise, but I do strongly disagree with this analysis. Not that men and women are different, but that somehow women's "passive" role *must* mean what Sunset says and what you imply.

It seems to deny that there is a continuum on the entire dating spectrum. Let's say that I'm dating a great Catholic guy who's just not sure what he wants. I know what I want -- marriage, to him. Do I merely wait? Do I make my desire to marry him clear? Do I eventually decide to offer an ultimatum? Sunset's understanding seems to only allow waiting -- and after all, this should be a relationship -- a giving, taking, etc.

In short, despite the fact that the entire question is academic for me (married for eight years with three kids, never dated online), I feel like it has a far-too-narrow vision of women's identity and what "fiat" means.

Devin Rose said...

I think women can keep an air of mystery even when joining Catholic singles sites, and men can also do the pursuing.

In my experience, it actually takes considerably MORE effort on my (the guy's part) to pursue a girl who lives far away. You really don't know someone from what little they put on their profile--at best you know the minimum requirements are met plus some attraction based off of their photo. So it takes a lot of work to get to know them when you can't meet and talk, but instead have to email for months and then eventually, in rare cases, actually talk on the phone with them, before finally, with lots more effort, get to meet them.

It is not the best way to meet someone. There is a high "activation energy", to use an engineering term, that must be overcome at each level in the online relationship. For example, if I see a girl I am attracted to at church or a get-together, I have to build up my courage to go talk with her, and then I do it. It takes about five minutes, and the toughest part is overcoming my fears. But to meet a girl you meet online, MUCH more is required, and you have to have a VERY strong connection in order to overcome the energy level needed to be patient in emailing her for months to get to know a little about her, and then to talk on the phone for weeks, and finally to go and get on a plane or drive for X hours to meet her.

May God bless us!