Cut me some slack…
This is a Tinder exchange I’m still having. This is from seemingly a really nice man and I’m not the least bit upset with him, because he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.
He doesn’t know that he’s participating in male privilege by asking me to do the emotional labor of creating a relationship out of nothing more than his desire.
Our exchange began with a super like blue star which prompted me to swipe on him even though he lives outside of the city, which I’m normally not open to. He was so excited to match with me because he’d admired my FetLife page and is also an open water swimmer. I felt so flattered by his enthusiasm, he called my online persona an Iconoclast!
After a few pleasantries I asked him what relationship dynamics he was interested in and he couldn’t answer. After a few back and forths, I sent him a link to this, thinking the Relationship Anarchy Smorgasbord would jog his desires and boundaries, but still he couldn’t articulate what he wanted out of a relationship at this point in his life. So I brought up extremes by asking if we should get married right away or remain pen pals? Still nothing, and that’s about where the messaging picks up above.
I’ve encountered this before with men online, they don’t know how to talk about themselves, their desires or their boundaries and I suspect there are two comorbid reasons why.
Starting life in favor, boys grow into men not knowing the favors they’ve received, the doors already open for them, the kindnesses for nothing other than them being themselves. While this is usually greater in the white male population, unfortunately I haven’t met many POC men who don’t also have it. Getting called on more in class and experiencing a life where success is assumed, not questioned, leaves men high and dry in the realms of introspection and empathy. They’ve never needed to explain themselves in a world where showing up is not only enough, but often praised, simply for being a boy or a man. They get what they want and need simply by being themselves and showing up.
Scarcity Model of Sex, Love and Intimacy
Monogamy as a tool of the Patriarchy commodifies our romantic connections by creating a false scarcity model of this type of connection. Because, under monogamy, we are limited to one romantic connection, from a very early age people of all genders are trained to behave in a way that will improve their possibilities of winning a mate. I believe that in the online dating environment this manifests by avoiding talking about true desires for fear that the person they are chatting with will say they want something else and then they will lose the connection. They will fail at the life or death game of finding a mate. (Sounds extreme? Well try getting a colonoscopy as a single person in our society, who’s going to pick you up? But this is likely a whole other entry.)
I believe that this nice man, is likely actually very nice, and I believe he means the best, but I can’t cut him some slack. I have my own desires and boundaries and communication is both a desire and a boundary in my spectrum of needs within a relationship. I can’t cultivate and train another person to participate in a relationship with me ever again, that was my marriage and other LTR. Maybe in time this man will read books, partake in therapy, do some introspection and we will have a connection yet?