The Rules of Engagement
This article was first published in Sense & Style Magazine Philippines
Has courtship become a thing of the past? Is it deemed out-dated to let men do the chasing? While some men seem to drag their feet in relationships, others chase and commit.
Courtship used to be vital for a man to earn a lady’s consideration. Not so long ago it was expected that the male should actively “court” or “pursue” the female, thus encouraging her notice of him and her openness to a proposal of marriage. This notion of the gender roles of males and females in courtship may have altered in today’s modern society, nevertheless, might an updated version of it not be the best way to get the right man to chase and commit to you?
We all know women who seem to constantly be dating the “wrong guy”. Men who undervalue and take them for granted. While some women accept this kind of treatment from the men in their lives, are they not as much to blame for the fact the men are reluctant to commit to them? Some women it seems stay in dead end relationships because they’ve convinced themselves that there is a shortage of good men out there, so they're just thankful to have “somebody”. Sadly, some would even rather be in a bad relationship, than have no relationship at all.
A while ago, I met such a woman. Juliette was 36 and dreaming of marriage and children. Once quite an attractive girl, she now had an air of sadness caused by a life spent too long disappointed by failed relationships. Eric, the man she shared her life with for the past five years, was in no hurry to commit to her. Juliette was still madly in love with him, while he was simply happy to have her around. Travelling to all four corners of the world, Eric had a promising financial career, and at 37 he felt the world was his oyster. Juliette on the other hand, had a mediocre marketing job at a publishing company that underpaid her and took advantage of her accommodating personality.
As the month and years began to fly by, the ticking of Juliette’s biological clock became louder and more deafening. She felt the increasingly urgent need to bring up their future plans together. In those instances, Eric would be incredibly uncomfortable and simply try to change the subject. And while poor Juliette made her hints of yearning for a marriage proposal more and more obvious, Eric began to feel increasingly distant. In fact, her strategy would always backfire and he would end up declaring in an icy voice, that he didn’t feel ready and that he needed more time. The subject would then be dropped, but every time it was raised, it chipped at their already stale relationship, which was rapidly and unavoidably coming to a dead end.
Does this story not sound vaguely familiar? Juliette is just one of the many of women out there who has chosen to keep waiting for the man in her life to commit to her, while wasting the best years of her life and sinking into depression. Many women find it hard to leave the man they are with because they've formed a "habit" of being with him, or because they think that they can change their companion in time. In some cases there is fear of embarrassment, or pressure from family and friends. But unfortunately, many people are simply afraid of being alone.
It's clearly a flawed relationship when it centres only on sex or when there is no sense of belonging, loyalty or trust. Other signs of a bad relationship are estrangement, disrespect, no communication, no laughter and of course no exchange of values, dreams or goals. Co-dependency is also a classic sign of why a person settles for a bad relationship. When one feels that they cannot continue to exist without the other person, even though they’re miserable with what's happening between the two of them. And when it comes to holding on to a pitiful relationship, the psychologists agree that between the two sexes, women probably wait the longest before giving up. Boys and girls are often raised differently. Boys are given more chances to experiment and sow their wild oats, so to speak; consequently, they find it easier to search for other alternatives because they've been allowed to do so. In many countries, even the most developed, girls are still educated to be “nice” and occasionally even “dutiful”; as a result, they lack that sense of empowerment and the conviction to feel that they deserve a healthier and better relationship. Thus although it is sometimes easier in relationships to blame the man for not committing, who can really blame him for keeping a girl around who sleeps with him without expecting much in return?
In earlier centuries, young adults were required to court with the intention of finding a marriage partner, rather than for social motivations. In recent years, conventional dating has progressed and taken on the properties necessary to sustain itself in today's society. This can be seen in the rise of Internet dating, speed dating, blind dating and the rapid growth of apps like Tinder, Hitch around the world. Some speculate that courtship as it was known to prior generations, has seen its last days and that now the roles are often reversed with women doing the courting and sometimes even the chasing.
Yet thousands of centuries of evolution haven't changed human nature and even the most knowledgeable of women daters will have stumbled upon male behaviour that defies belief. “He acts like an absolute Caveman!” she may declare. And do you know? She isn't far from the truth. Why? Simple, man is a hunter; that is what he was intended to do -- Hunt.
This in essence means that in the dating world, the man wants to hunt you, even if you are the easiest prey on earth. Women overlook this reality and ignore it at their own risk and peril. To get the man you want, you have to make them pursue you and believe they have achieved something when they finally get to put their arms around you and give you that first kiss. They need to feel proud when they finally have you on their arm. If that sense of triumph is missing, your hunter will go on searching and you will be left on the sidelines.
The dating world is filled with opportunities to play both the role of the hunter and the hunted. While many people enjoy the thrill of chasing down prey, it's often more desirable to be the one being chased. Learning to attract and keep a man's attention is the key to getting a man to chase you. But to get a man to chase you, you first need to be “chase worthy”. Do you have your own convictions, beliefs you stick to? Do you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally? And you don't have to be a conventional beauty at all. Do you enjoy your job and have interesting hobbies and friends? Do you have your own purpose in this world? A man will do the courting, if there is something to court. Men are generally attracted to upbeat personalities that have a passion for life. Nothing is sexier than an intelligent woman who is dynamic and who has an interesting and full life. Men love a woman who can make them laugh and who doesn’t take herself too seriously, but who is also a good listener, a loyal friend and creative in her own way. Showing appreciation for what he does for you in terms of his courting is always a way to ensure he will try to make you happy and proud of him again, by continuing to court you and surprise you in the future.
Being positive is also a big winner for most people and not just for men. Who wants to be bogged down with someone who has tons of emotional baggage and lots of negativity? Ultimately, self-respect is probably one of the most important and key attributes for any relationship to grow and flourish. Why would a man value a girl if she does not value herself enough to look and be at her very best, and vice versa? To get him interested in the first place, a girl must be attractive, but more importantly she must emit positive and confident energy and her own brand of charm and sexiness. The great Irish writer and poet, Oscar Wilde, once declared that as a man “It’s beauty that captures your attention; Personality which captures your heart.”
And this quote, in my opinion, embodies exactly what attracts men and keeps them interested. The more men pursue and chase, the more rewarded they will feel when they at long last succeed. And without doubt our hunter will calm down and give up hunting. But only if his lady makes him feel like he has conquered and attained his true love. At this moment our hunter thinks he has captured his lady all by himself, but perhaps, could it just be, that she let herself be caught?
Men like to pursue and conquer something, be it your admiration, respect, trust, sexual favours and of course your love. So if you want to tame your hunter, keep him chasing YOU girls! Continue to interest and intrigue him long after he thinks he has caught you. Persist in gently encouraging him to go on courting and chasing you, and he will feel more of a man for it. After all, is it not possible that men are the most uncomplicated of creatures? In the end whatever you do in the dating world, never EVER consent to be an easy catch.