Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 4.2

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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29 Comments

  1. “Men misperceive sexual interest in women?”

    Finally, a scientific study that confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

    I think at least part of it, though maybe not a large part, is due to the general teaching my generation received early and often that ‘boys and girls are exactly the same’.

    Once a male hits a certain level of sexual maturity, the field of women he is interested in sexually is well over 50% of his female peers. He will, generally, be especially nice to those he desires the most.

    That fact, coupled with the “we’re all the same” meme, will easily lead a male into misinterpreting a female being nice as a female being sexually interested.

    It works best to just assume a woman isn’t sexually interested in me unless she makes it explicit. Which is a touch sad, but it leads to less embarrassment.

  2. Here is an interesting book. It is written by a lesbian who over the course of a year posed as a man in various “male environments”.

    As part of this process, she hit the hetero dating scene…and found it very challenging. Gaging female interest is not all that easy.

    Jake is spot on when he says we men can be clueless, but that women are not generally so clueful either.

    That said, here is a true story: when I was about 25 years old, I literally figured out over a decade later that a girl I knew when I was 14 had been interested in me. I was just thinking about how she would follow me around and offer to help me do things. Then it hit me…followed shortly by a hand to the forehead.

    I mean, in retrospect, she couldn’t have been more clear short of making a blunt declarative statement. Talk about clueless!

  3. “It works best to just assume a woman isn’t sexually interested in me unless she makes it explicit.”

    But that doesn’t work very well either because they generally won’t do that. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

  4. I mean, in retrospect, she couldn’t have been more clear short of making a blunt declarative statement.

    See, personally I think that should be the default mode of indicating interest for both sexes, but clearly we don’t live in my ideal world.

  5. “But that doesn’t work very well either because they generally won’t do that. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.”

    You are correct, and that pretty much just means we’re gonna have a lot less sex this way. Is trading sex for lack of embarrassment worth it?

  6. I have been dating now for about 6 months after having been in a long-term relationship for 13 of the last 15 years, and I can tell you that at 37, I understand women less than I did at 21 … I agree with you Joshua – there SHOULD be a uniform default mode of expressing interest … I also follow morsec0de’s approach to just assume that a woman is not sexually interested unless she makes it explicit.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing more obvious than missing what should be “explicit” … About two weeks ago, I had this situation where I was having these long conversations with this cute, smart 25-year old and when she gave me her number (I didn’t ask for it), I STILL didn’t get it (well, eventually I did – we’re going out on Friday) … So I don’t know which is worse – assuming there are too many signals of sexual interest or too few … Any thoughts?

    It also varies significantly from woman to woman … You take your knowledge from the last dating experience you had, and it doesn’t really translate into the next one.

    At this point, I just try to have conversation until something clicks or it evolves on its known … But invariably, even if it does evolve over a few weeks, I find myself either pushing too hard or not pushing hard enough (or so I’ve been “told”) … I suppose I will eventually find someone who I balance with – i.e., chemistry.

  7. Many years ago I was listening to a psychic call-in show. One guy called to ask the psychic, “I know this girl at work who keeps looking at me funny and making kissy faces. Do you think she likes me?”

    The host (not the psychic) said that he didn’t need a psychic, just some common sense.

  8. Yeah, I don’t know what happens to our common sense … Still, in the grand scheme of things, a man is genetically closer to a male chimp than a woman, so maybe we’re just dreaming that we will ever bridge that divide.

  9. “Yeah, I don’t know what happens to our common sense … ”

    It just takes a vacation. The key evidence is that it is always so obvious when it is someone else, but for ourselves…

    “It also varies significantly from woman to woman …”

    Yeah, and the vast majority each thinks her reactions are typical and thus should be easy for you to interpret.

    “See, personally I think that should be the default mode of indicating interest for both sexes, but clearly we don’t live in my ideal world.”

    Ah, yes, clear communication. That wonderful virtue we would all love to see…in everyone else.

  10. Oh, they’re not posting, because they’re logging everthing we say so they can use it against us later! LOL

    And I thought men actually “evolved” faster than women, due to the XY chromosome. We don’t have the genes on the other X to suppress mutations on the Y. Although I heard it on “Science or Fiction” from the SGU podcast, and it might have been fiction… pretty sure it was actually science though.

    I’ll reveal a little more personal info to the internets than I usually prefer in saying that being brought up in the 90s put the fear of girls in me, even to this day. I could have swore that there was no such thing as female interest in sex. I thought women only had sex with men as a favor to us or a means of manipulation. At least, that’s the impression I got from popular media growing up.

  11. “I thought women only had sex with men as a favor to us or a means of manipulation. At least, that’s the impression I got from popular media growing up.”

    I used to think the same thing (having grown up a Christian Fundy) but my experience tells me there a great many women who enjoy sex for the same reason I do (and sometimes are more interested than I).

  12. Haha – I also noticed that this seemed to be a male-heavy thread. Nothing wrong with that. Everyone had interesting contributions.

    Ah, yes, clear communication. That wonderful virtue we would all love to see…in everyone else.

    Very well put, The Czech … and that certainly crosses gender boundaries, doesn’t it?

  13. “but my experience tells me there a great many women who enjoy sex for the same reason I do (and sometimes are more interested than I).”

    On behalf of all of us who have never met such women:

    I hate you.

  14. “Oh, they’re not posting, because they’re logging everthing we say so they can use it against us later!”

    … Probably, and I wonder if the only reason we males are not uncomfortable (double-negative intended) talking about this on a blog called “skepchicks” is that we know we will not meet any of these skepchicks.

    “I thought women only had sex with men as a favor to us or a means of manipulation. ”

    … Spoken like a truly skeptical male!

  15. You want clear communication? Assume every woman you meet IS interested until you get a blunt declarative statement to the contrary. Does it make life easier? No. Is it more accurate? No. It does, however, do wonders for the ego if you can convince yourself, and chicks dig confidence (or so I’m told).

    Generally, you’ll find the number of blunt declarative statements is pretty much a constant, so you get to think of yourself as extremely attractive and desirable. If you can turn the few such statements into humor, then you’re golden, so get in the habit of saying “We’re all just going to shut up and let me think that” and winking a lot.

  16. TheSkepticalMale –
    Ironically, I indeed met one of the skepchicks just a couple weeks ago, albeit briefly.

    I’m always nervous in situations like this. With the open-mindedness around here, I’m sure our comments are being (at least mostly) taken the way they are intended. I’d like to know if the females around here are surprised that us skepdudes think this way, and how they feel about it. I always wonder how much of my attitude is something I consciously decided to adapt, and how much was shaped by my upbringing. How much to “blame” am I for it?

    For instance, I am close to my mom, and am the middle child, and only male, between to sisters. I think this has given me a superhuman level of patience, and the ability to touch feminine hygiene products without flinching, but at the same time, my ability to make friends with women might even be a little off-putting. Anyone?

  17. Dread Polack-

    So you have met a real skepchick in person? Lucky you … Since I live in the American Southwest, I doubt I will ever meet a skepchick, but if I do, I’m sure I will recognize her.

    I don’t know how much is nature or nurture. I’m the youngest, not particularly close to my mother, and most of my best friends are women (not skepchicks though). In considering myself to be a somewhat enlightened heterosexual male, I have no problem touching feminine hygiene products; nonetheless, you can call me a romantic, but if she pees with the bathroom door open, the relationship is over.

  18. Rystefn: While certainly that’s the most reliable way to get sex, I don’t think it’d make you a lot of friends. So it really depends on your priorities.

    When I was a little younger than I am now, I probably would have ranked the having of sex a bit higher (in fact, I’ll just come out and say it: I was a constaly-whinging bastard about not having it), but nowadays I don’t mind going a while in between partners. And there are a lot of cool gals out there who simply don’t have a sexual interest in me (and sometimes — shock and awe! — vice versa), so I feel like I’m better off not bluntly pursuing anybody I’m half-interested in just in case she might want to have sex. I might not be getting laid all that frequently, but I think I’m happier for it over all.

  19. Polack- There’s nothing I hate more than the “I could never date you, you’re my friend” statement from women. In my experience, it’s a lie. The woman is just saying that to be nice when really she’s just not attracted to the guy.

    Of course, it’s kind of skeezy when a guy tries to be friends with a woman *only* because he wants in her pants. Most of us can pick up on that and it’s off-putting.

  20. It’s definitely a fine line for a guy, between being positively confident and being cognizant of when it’s better to assume a girl-who-is-a-friend has no interest. I have a lot of guy friends, and I’m pretty sure that I have no sexual interest in most of them. In all of them, really . . . if I’m interested in a guy, he should probably know based on the number of dirty text messages I send him.

    But then, I may be a bit of an oddball in that respect. I tend to be direct with people, and god forbid if I have a few too many drinks — I may as well rip my heart out of my chest cavity and pin it to the sleeve of my jacket.

  21. You are, in fact, an oddball in that respect. But frankly, I think that’s one of the things people like about you. Having to constantly cryptanalyse everything people say to parse out the real meaning is tedious as all Hell. Meeting someone who communicates directly is always refreshing.

  22. As I mentioned above, I used to act in a much more typically girly fashion about these matters. Not nearly as bad other other girls seemed to, but now, now that I’m off the market and more or less settled with a kid, I look back and wonder why I wasted so much time and/or many opportunities. Just as some of the guys here have commented on overcoming the ideas they were raised with, I had to do the same thing. Now, I say things straight out. And my partner now probably wonders where the quiet girl went :)

  23. Joshua: “While certainly that’s the most reliable way to get sex, I don’t think it’d make you a lot of friends. So it really depends on your priorities.”

    You’d be surprised. Most of my friends are female, many of whom I find very attractive, and all of whom know precisely where they stand re: me wanting to sleep with them. Maybe I’m just lucky that way – or maybe I’ve got something else going for me that overcomes my oddness of personality, but things seem to work out well enough for me. I can’t say if it’s the most reliable way to get sex (I’m pretty sure that would turn out to be metric shit-tons of money if we looked into it), but I can say that with three or four exceptions, all of my former lovers are still my friends, and I put the credit for that squarely on being forthright and up-front about things from day one.

    Your mileage may vary, of couse… I AM the prettiest man alive.

    …and we’re all just going to shut up and let me think that, right?

  24. Yes, we are. ;)

    Actually, I do tend to tell my female friends when I’m attracted to them, unless it’s obvious (even to me!) that there’s no sexual interest or if there’s some other extenuating circumstance (like if either one of us are involved with somebody). However, I don’t bring it up until I already have established a history with them and, basically, they know me well enough to realise that I’m not just interested in getting in their pants and that I actually mean it when, if they turn out not to be interested, I say that I still like them as a friend. So far, I’ve never had a friend who turned into something more, but I’ve never lost a friend that way either.

    On the other hand, I have lost some potential female friends by springing the “by the way, I’m attracted to you” thing too early. I blame all the “nice guys” out there for training girls that “it’s ok, I still want to be friends” secretly means “I will stalk you until you realise that I am the only person who will ever love you enough”. Which it, unfortunately, does for quite a few guys (and probably, admittedly, for me once or twice), but generally I make the effort to say what I mean.

    This is what I meant by wishing that more people would just communicate directly, though. There’s a critical mass of bad apples that can make people permanently defensive and unable to believe that at least some people are actually honest.

  25. I hit on people and flirt constantly. I’d say I can’t turn it off, but honestly, I’ve never tried, so I wouldn’t know. I may tone it down for someone who’s in a relationship, but I can’t make myself see that as a total barrier. Don’t get the wrong idea here, I’m not saying that I’m the sort to cheat or encourage others to cheat – but I am the sort to tell you that if you’re relationship is going well, then you shouldn’t be worried about me flirting with your girlfriend.

    I understand that many people have been hurt and/or seen others hurt by all kinds of crap, and it often shapes people’s behaviors in unpleasant ways, many of which have become very common (for every girl “trained” not to believe that a nice guy really is, there’s a real nice guy being “trained” the women only want guys who will treat them like crap). Most of life has taught us to guard ourselves, not to trust too freely, and to doublymistrust anyone who seems to be different in that regard. This has led us to the whole giant mess of head-games and politics that we have when it comes to looking for relationships in our culture.

    If I lose a potential friendship or relationship because someone felt they couldn’t trust me or whatever, I’ll feel bad that life has treated them so that they feel that way. If I lose a friendship or relationship or miss out on a part of one because I didn’t tell someone how I felt or what I wanted, then I could never forgive myself. The things we regret most in this life are the chances we didn’t take, and it’s not like we get another one afterwards, is it?

  26. This is an interesting dialogue – men don’t usually discuss this sort of thing among themselves (at least in my experience) …

    I like to think that the whole indirect/mixed signals thing from women may be attributable to the fact that they may not know themselves exactly where “it” is going, and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that … Most of my lovers have been friends first (actually, I think ALL of them have) …

    I am in this dance at the moment (I know her well from talking in a work context, but we are going out on a first “date” – uh, I mean we’re just hanging out, and I get the distinct sense that she is looking to see what happens in a date context … I am inclined (at least, it’s my natural inclination) to play it like Rystefn – if for no other reason than that a lack of self-confidence/mojo is truly unsexy, but an abundance may go either way (i.e., better to overshoot a bit, so to speak).

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