Why is Dating Focused on the Behaviour of Women and not Men?


Why is Dating Focused on the Behaviour of Women and not Men?

The advice related to dating, relationships and finding love given to women largely fall into three categories.

1. How to not attract emotionally unavailable men

Social media is full of relationship advice to tell women that they are responsible for their “healing”. These people advise what are the type of attachment, co-dependency, and emotional wounds, and how to deal with unavailable and narcissistic partners. Such advice goes on from patronising and manipulative, to nuanced and compassionate. Some of this advice can be helpful, but much of the advice is not.

One example that is not helpful is the cliché that in order to find love, you must love yourself first. Psychiatrist Dr Bruce Perry notes that in reality, it is not possible to love yourself unless you have been loved, indicating that “the capacity to love cannot happen in isolation”.

“Loving yourself” is a value modern society has perpetuated to get ahead. Constant self-improvement matters in a society focused on performance. It has made people objects of improvement and optimisation. Neoliberalism has assumed that women’s lives are formed by the deliberate choices for which they are only responsible. Little to no attention is paid to the circumstances that restrict women’s choices.

Being responsible for self-love and self-healing only fosters the responsibility that women should bear for their health, happiness, careers and relationships.

2. How to get a man to commit

Women are educated on how to gain a huge advantage over other women in the “battle” to “get him to ask you out. For instance, dating coach Benjamin Daly tells his Instagram followers of 500,000 that his book tells “the secret for getting any man begging for commitment”.

Not only are women encouraged to plan their dating moves, but they must also avoid making men feel emasculated, with authors like him that encourage women to be feminine and let men “lead”.

The tactics supporting such advice are confusing. According to author Emily Brooks, “We are told to do all the grunt work, but should wait for him to call.” It’s okay to hustle at work but in your relationships.

3. How to navigate toxic behaviours online

Online dating, which can be positive in some aspects, is basically a minefield full of toxic male behaviour.

This behaviour fluctuates from rejection violence, where women are subjected to violence when they turn down a man’s advances, to unwanted nude pictures, to more subtle forms of destructive behaviour. These include love bombing, where men barrage women with attention to gain control and breadcrumbing, where a person leads someone on but does not commit to them.

Advice on how to handle such behaviour is largely directed at women.

Why are these trends a problem?

Modern dating advice informs us that it is possible for women to fix themselves and their relationships, thus, they should do it. This is particularly harmful advice for the vulnerable women in our communities.

Telling women to love themselves before going into a relationship is at best, ridiculous, and at worst, cruel, particularly for those who had gone through mental violence with sexual assault and domestic violence.

As of 2021, 23% of women in Australia that is a total of 2.2 million women, had gone through sexual assault, and women are eight times more likely than men to experience sexual assault by their partner. The year 2020 was the most dangerous year for domestic violence in Australia.

One in six Australian women are a victim of sexual or physical violence who has suffered it from a former or current partner.

Some of the psychological effects of sexual, physical, and emotional violence are lowered self-esteem and a diminished sense of self-worth. They make “self-love” difficult.

Women need safety more than dating advice

Teaching women how to act effectively to toxic behaviour may help women cope, but it doesn’t address the important issue in intimate interpersonal relationships and that is safety.

Rather than teaching women how to deal with the risk of dating abusive men, the self-help industry should shift its focus on male behaviour – and not the reactions of women to this behaviour. Women need safety more than advice.

We need to redirect the focus to male behaviour

The most important dating advice this “self-help industry” can tell the male audience is to not harm the women around you.

Rather than teaching women how to retort to dangerous dating behaviours, the self-help industry should see what men are taught about dating and relationships. The self-help industry can educate online dating app users on how they can avoid perpetuating harassment, and sexual violence.

“Teaching” women how to deal with the men they’re dating is not the ideal solution to the problems related to modern dating and relationships.


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