Lately, I have stepped away from the fictional utopia of romance novels and immersed my brain in a seemingly endless collection of “dating guides” that seek to show women what men “really” want.
It’s natural. We all want love, and we all feel it, whether requited or, more often, not. Many of us look for aid in finding it, through books, peers, or online. We’re living in a new age, one where the classical courtship we crave has been replaced with new ways of connecting.
Where Are We Getting Our Love Advice?
Some wonder whether this new age is teaching us to think differently about love. Which behaviors are being normalized? Are we damaging or improving the landscape for forthcoming generations through our behaviors? And can any of this be changed?
Of course, such a fraught landscape comes with various attempts to help guide us, but many of these books give the same clichéd advice I was fed through popular magazines in my early teens: lessons on “the chase” and how “to play the field” — the same destructive advice that turns love into a game with more losers than winners.
What Dating Strategies Are We Teaching Women?
Often, dating handbooks paint a women’s natural benevolence as a flaw. In the eyes of the writer, to be beautiful to a man, one must be “The Bitch,” a common trope in modern dating guides. Why Men Love Bitches, by Sherry Argov, is one of the bestselling self-help guides of the 21st century. It promises to deliver no-nonsense advice on how the reader can avoid the trap of being a “yes-woman” and become “The Bitch.”
These books preach the same message: Dating is a game in which nice girls finish last.
Men Don’t Love Women Like You, by G.L. Lambert, is another bestseller that says the same thing…with a bit more brute force. Written by a man who promises to turn the reader from “placeholder” into “game-changer,” Lambert teaches women that selfishness is their savior, as well as how to be ruthless and how to keep feelings separated. To be benevolent is to be beneath women.
These bestsellers preach the same message: Dating is a game in which nice girls finish last. To win, you must be prepared to lose. But, perversely, playing games attracts players, and men of high value don’t have time for games. No wonder so many women feel they start with a losing hand.
Is Love Really All Down to Strategy?
These books rarely talk about genuine love, but frame everything as strategy. Modern dating culture begs us to complicate and confuse ourselves in love — seeking to elevate infatuation and completely missing why people crave such companionship in the first place. A dating guide will rarely bring you to a place where you can find true love. Dating can be fun, but true love is organic. If real, it will not require tactics, and most importantly, it will never require you to become something you’re not.
In a world of the fake and filtered, more than ever, humans are desperately searching for something real, something natural. The ultra-cold, fearless “bitch” that the books teach females to be is far from womanly.
Is There Any Wisdom in These Advice Books?
Now, one helpful line I took away from the books is the rule that “anything you chase in life will run away.” While I still say that’s a slight exaggeration, it’s true that neither gender is attracted to desperate behavior — we can often sense it coming from miles away. Anxious or needy tendencies are bound to push anyone away, especially in the early stages of dating. Therefore, exuding confidence is an essential quality when entering the dating world.
Neither gender is attracted to desperate behavior.
But having confidence and having bitchiness are two very different things. Women who rely on tactics to attract the man they desire will often find themselves repeating the same mind games further down the line. Naturally, there’s an “I can change him” mindset that lingers in some women, but the sad truth is — you can’t. Think about how difficult it is to change aspects of yourself that you don’t like. Now try doing that for another person — you’re most definitely playing a losing game. Seeking out and trying to fix men you already find difficult is a waste of time — you will gain nothing from it.
What Does the Science Say?
At present, there’s little evidence showing that men enjoy women who act aloof, try to be “The Bitch,” or play hard to get. In the 1970s, an American psychologist, Elaine Hatfield, led a series of studies looking into whether playing “hard to get” works — all five experiments failed.
A more effective guide is the “rule of reciprocity,” which says that we’re generally more inclined to like people who like us and to dislike those who don’t. We reciprocate positive behavior and respond best to it. It’s unnatural for us to be drawn to negative behavior; nasty behavior will not lead to attraction. If it does, it’s probably from the wrong type of person.
What Are High Caliber Men Looking For?
I can say with every fiber of my being (along with many others) that a high-quality man is not going to seek out a “bitch.” If he is, odds are he’s the male equivalent. No sane human will suffer a headache if they can avoid it.
A high-quality man will seek out a high-quality woman.
In the modern day, many seek excitement in relationships, but negativity attracts negativity, and bad technique will attract the wrong sort of person, in particular, the bad boy. Sure, many of us may like the idea of the bad boy, but in the long-term, going for the bad boy is an inevitable failure. Good guys will seek out good women, and vice versa. By using manipulative techniques, you will attract manipulators who enjoy playing the same game. With toxic relationships already constantly glorified in modern film, it’s essential that we work to ensure the relationships we seek are healthy.
Rejection Can Often Be Healthy
Maybe you’re using dating guides to secure a man who didn’t show as much interest as you would’ve liked. Though this may be frustrating in the moment, I’ve been told “rejection is often protection.” Of course, that’s not to say you should never put in the effort or give things a second try. But sometimes it’s good to walk away from people. If he’s not responding to your advances, often the best thing to do is walk away.
To gain respect in the wider world, people will need to know you’re capable of walking when they mistreat you. You don’t need to subject yourself to harsh actions or evil deeds, as no one benefits from cruelty. Self-respect is one of the best things you can teach yourself. Those with self-respect love themselves enough to accept rejection, and they don’t allow the opinions and desires of others get in the way of staying true to themselves.
Men with self-respect will not appreciate your intentional lack-of. These dating guides may seem like they have your best interests at heart, but they’re not teaching you how to find love, because love is not something that can be taught. Love is the purest feeling we have; it doesn’t require technique or manipulation, anything that does ceases to be love.
Being a nice girl is not a flaw. In fact, I fear that it one day may become a rarity. It’s imperative we act with kindness and compassion in a world that seems so eager to strip us of it. Good character will attract good men. A high-quality man will seek out a high-quality woman. The wrong people will “love” you when you’re playing a game. You’ll know when you find the right man, he’s the man who connects with your soul, sparks a warm flame, and can be trusted to love you in your old age.
He isn’t found among those seeking hedonism, he’s found among those seeking heart.
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