“Feminists have a hard time finding guys who want to date them,” a classmate in my Social Psychology class expressed this sentiment one day during a discussion on stereotype. As a young feminist, who is in a healthy and happy relationship, this comment rubbed me the wrong way, as (unintentionally) my classmate had worded it in a way that made the quiet claim: men view feminists as unappealing.
More often than not, in my observations, my feminist friends are not at a loss for interested men and women to date; the problem with dating-while-feminist, rather, lies within finding the person who is both understanding of and open to feminism as well as willing to put many dating norms aside. I’m a lucky one; my boyfriend identified as a feminist even before I was brave enough to label myself the same, but what about the women and men who aren’t so lucky? How do you date successfully while maintaining your feminist principles and beliefs? The following is my best list of tips and tricks, things to live by while trying to find that perfect feminist match…
Before The Date
- Don’t hide your feminism; anyone who is scared off by that (trust me, it won’t be many) is not worth dating.
- This should go without saying but, I’ll say it anyways; you can make the first move, but there is no obligation to do so. Nothing drives me crazier than a woman who feels she has to wait for a man to ask her on a date; if you want something, go for it!
- I don’t care what He’s Just Not That Into You says, you shouldn’t feel obligated to play games; they’re messy, they’re stressful, and they often leave someone hurt. Any potential partner who requires a good chase to keep their interest up will, generally, lose interest once the chase ends (and it has to eventually, that’s the point!) Feel free to keep an ‘air of mystery’ about you, you don’t have to open up to someone right away by any means; but no matter what, please be sincere.
During The Date
- Consider splitting the tab, maybe even paying! Feminism is about options, we no longer live in an age where men make all the money and , therefore, need to pay for their dates. Consider picking up the tab if you initiated the date, or trading off, or splitting the costs… consider all of the options,just don’t tied to “tradition.”
- Even if your date does pay, remember, you don’t owe them anything. Don’t feel pressured into sexual contact or anything that you are uncomfortable with just because someone “took you out.” Your company alone is all they are “entitled” to.
- Don’t let your partner belittle you, ever. Someone who pressures you to change your appearance, your interests, or your beliefs is not someone who has your best interests in mind. Obviously, there are exceptions, partners who are really looking out for their significant other’s well being but these exceptions should be the only one allowed.
- Whatever it takes, maintain your sense of self. It’s so easy to get sucked into a relationship, and for good reason; relationships are fun! However, when you begin to lose your own sense of self – you drift from friends, let hobbies die off, stop feeling comfortable spending time alone… that’s when a relationship becomes a problem. The art is all within striking a balance between the black-hole-of-love and an island-of-self-sufficiency.
- Don’t give up on your goals and dreams. Compromise, of course, is an essential part of any relationship but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your goals to be in a relationship.
Making Out, Hooking Up, Sex, Etc…
- Use protection. Pulling out is NOT protection, birth control is not adequate STI protection without a recent negative STI test. Don’t expect your partner to look out for you, especially not in a new relationship; always take responsibility for your own protection.
- Remember: ONLY Yes Means Yes. In other words, without a decisive yes, sexual contact should not happen; simple lack of refusal is not enough, considering some people may feel too pressured into an act to actively resist. Make sure both you and your partner are comfortable with every act you participate in.
- If/when you take part in any sexual acts do it for you. Obviously you want your partner to enjoy themselves as well, but your primary motivation in deciding to participate in any sexual interactions should be because you want to, and only because you want to first. It’s just more fun when both partners fully desire the physically connection.
- Don’t make apologies; your partner should make you feel good about yourself; sexy, attractive, strong… if you don’t feel that way then it’s time to do some soul searching, about your personal confidence as well as your comfort in your relationship. Similarly, we should help our partners to love their bodies, just as they should help and encourage us.
- It’s supposed to feel good! Regardless of what society tells us, especially women, about sex the truth is sexual contact is supposed to be enjoyed by both parties involved. Don’t be too embarrassed or afraid to communicate your needs; the right person will only love you more for it.
People wiser than me…
This is just funny; a list of the ten things the author hates about heteronormative dating.
As a side note, while researching/writing this I was sad to see how few positive pieces there were about dating and feminism; most articles were geared towards men, explaining to them how to deal with a feminist woman. There awere some awful ones out there but I don’t want to direct any traffic their way so, no links!