Why must dating in Athens suck so much? Why are all the super-hot guys I want to hook up with not dating material? Why can’t I find myself attracted to the guys who would be good boyfriends? Why is this town so damn small?? I ask this half-joking, half-serious. Plz halp.
Darling, you are singing my song. This exact issue has been on my mind a lot lately, and it’s one of the reasons I’m currently taking a break from dating—I just can’t do it anymore. It all feels so pointless sometimes, and it’s always my fault, isn’t it? As women, we’re taught that any struggle we have with dating and relationships is our fault. It’s so tempting right now for me to look in the mirror and think, “It’s you, Bonita. You’re not the type anyone would ever want to be seen in public with, anyway. No one wants you to meet their parents. No one wants to wake up beside you. Look at you.”
We internalize rejection and blame ourselves because we’re taught that men’s needs come first, to always be something to someone else before we are true to ourselves. So we downplay the pain and neglect our own emotional and social needs, and some of us deal with our perceived inadequacy in unhealthy ways. I know way too many women in this town who want love but use alcohol and disordered eating to kill the pain of seeking it out.
There are more women than men running around this place, and that gives the men the power to choose. Those men are, mind you, mostly artists and musicians—types that are highly sought-out in our local dating scene. So the burden of forming partnerships is on the women in Athens, because the men have plenty of potential partners to choose from.
Throw in the inescapable influence of misogyny and toxic masculinity on the American male, and the scene becomes classless and cruel to the tender-hearted. Guys don’t have to respect us or see us as people, because we are so easily replaced. All a moderately handsome male artist has to do in this town is sit back and wait for the girls to swarm, and if one of us gets angry or tries to hold him accountable, who cares? You’re a drop in a flood, chick.
So where does that leave those of us who want honest connections and real companionship?
Don’t get me wrong. I firmly believe that most people have love in their hearts, and I’m sure there are plenty of hip townie types who make great boyfriends. But I’m fairly positive most of them are already partnered up, leaving the rest of us ladies to dig through the dollar bin. I don’t know what it will take for some men to stop seeing women as things to use and consume and to instead see our humanity and our worth. Feminism helps teach men to unlearn their misogyny, and if you’re a feminist I’d like to encourage you to be shameless about it in the presence of chauvinists—or any man, really. They need it, even if they don’t think so.
Make dating easier by stating your needs and desires plainly and clearly, and do this very early on in any dating or sex situation. If you’re just trying to get laid, say so, and in no uncertain terms. If you’re looking for a boo, let men know you’re not interested in casual dating or hookups. This kind of honesty can be difficult, because we ladies are never supposed to disappoint men, but dig deep and take your power back—it will feel good to be the one setting the tone for a change.
Also, this is a place where no one talks about anything, so your honesty is gonna put a serious damper on your sex life. But that’s OK. You’re weeding your garden so you can see the blossoms that have been there all along. It will probably take a while, but if you’re honest with yourself and with your partners and if you refuse to settle, you should attract the people you deserve.
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