Why does straight women feels pressure to prove that they are intimidating?

 Why does straight women feels pressure to prove that they are intimidating?

Rarely do we hear the term “high-maintenance man”.

On dating apps, users make decisions in seconds, depending on profile pictures.

In my research of dating apps and straight matches, I found that men often portray themselves as handsome, brawny, and tanned even in their pictures to attract more women.

On the contrary, women often portray themselves in contrast to a cultural idea.

Women make profiles which show them as “not high-maintenance.”

What does ‘high-maintenance’ mean when it comes to dating apps?

“High-maintenance” is a category defined by physical and behavioural characteristics.

In her pictures, the high-maintenance “girl” (is often described both by the men and women), as someone who is wearing “too much” make-up, or body-hugging clothes. She would be in a party dress. She is either pouting at the camera for Instagram or carrying an expensive handbag.

Once she is labelled as high-maintenance, it was difficult to be perceived as something other than that.

Behaviourally, she was seen as difficult. She wanted many things, and also expected a high standard from her man. Men think there is labour involved if they date her, and ultimately a financial burden.

As one man indicated:

There are many attractive girls on dating apps but, I can’t afford to date a girl like that. They are too high-maintenance.

Women in my research usually present themselves as “beautiful” but “relatable”. They were careful to not “intimidate” a potential match with their pictures and behaviour.

One female user indicated that a high-maintenance woman has high expectations.

It’s a balancing act that needs to appear attractive but not high-maintenance.

They need an effortless, pretty, nonchalance act:

One woman said that her everyday look is oversized tee and very comfy clothes, but on her dating profile, there’s a festival picture where she is obviously done up and there are two other photos with her friends. I did feel the pressure of looking pretty, but at the same time looking relatable. It is because people shouldn’t be intimidated to approach you.

There is this pressure that means you should look friendly enough, but also pretty enough, but also not too friendly at the same time. It is weird.

Identity management

This type of identity management is not new, especially on social media. It is distinctly prevalent for girls and young women who are perceived as having (or being) too little or too much. Either it’s too fat or too thin; too clever or too stupid; too free or too restricted.

In case of dating apps, the line is between sexiness and effortlessness. Women felt the need to look pretty, but also not so pretty which might scare potential matches off.

Physical features, or ways of presenting oneself, were also often mixed with personal behaviours and expectations. Basically, women had to represent themselves as naturally pretty, capable, having less expectation, fun-loving, and, the most important one easy-going.

All to make sure a man is comfortable.

Hidden behind this apparently insignificant, even harmless statement, is something far more sinister.

It appeared to describe the many ways women reign themselves in to please men by not complaining, not demanding too much, suppressing their needs, and not having high expectations for emotional fulfilment.

In essence, not demanding anything, which is necessary for an intimacy based on equality and mutuality.

In the end, the “high-maintenance” woman was too much to handle – which has confirmed the stereotypes that men expect women to be quiet, submissive, without any opinion, and always agreeable. This means they shouldn’t be difficult.

It toughened feminine mainstays that a woman should smile and be nice. Not be too obvious, and eventually should not take up too much space.

A certain invisibility was required, even when dating online.

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