THE DATING PROJECT #5. KISS. KISS
The Dating Project follows the adventures of three women Lou Lou ( 30s), Astrid (40s) and Iris (50s) as they navigate the tricky online dating scene. Along the way they have the support and advice of renowned sex therapist Bettina Arndt and relationship counsellor Rob Tiller.
It’s been a busy week helping Astrid and Iris get their profiles together and watching Lou Lou cope with the excitement of her first taste of internet dating. And yes, She Got Mail!
Before telling you all about their progress, we are delighted that The Dating Project has become one of the most read sections here at The Hoopla. How good is that? Yes, we know some people are irresistibly drawn to reading it because it annoys them so much – they have made their opinions very clear.
But we are very pleased to see so much lively debate about what we are doing. Keep your advice and comments coming.
Last week some readers objected to my attempts to encourage the women to write profiles that might appeal to men.
Of course we tread a fine line in helping the women shape how they present themselves without misrepresenting what they are really like. There is absolutely no point in faking it because there is nothing worse than turning up for a date and having his face fall because you are nothing like the person you pretended to be.
Men are always complaining to me about women using photos that are 10 years old, carefully airbrushed and showing a woman who is many kilos lighter than the current version. But equally I’ve been on coffee dates with men who were years older and many centimetres shorter than they claimed to be.
Not a good start to a potential relationship.
So authenticity is essential, but just as you hide the mould in the bathroom under fluffy towels when you are showing your house prior to sale, here too some judicious editing is called for to make the most of what you’ve got.
One more thing, we must point out. The women will not be sending men up when they write about their dates, nor seeking to embarrass them in any way. If necessary we will disguise some of their details so they can’t be recognised.
Everyone is vulnerable in internet dating and we are not interested in exploiting anybody.
Rob has been pondering on what lies ahead for the girls and has some advice.
After reading the women’s latest posts, inspiration hit me this morning as I was eating a bowl of plump, burgundy cherries from the Fremantle Markets. I thought maybe I should share some insights into the mysterious realm of men’s emotions to hopefully help them navigate some of the challenging feelings they may experience as The Dating Project unfolds.
In her book, Making Sense of Men, Alison Armstrong poses the questions: “What if men are responding to women?” by which she means: “What if there’s something I’m doing that is bringing the worst out in men?”
These are powerful questions that can help women re-entering the dating scene be more aware of themselves as well as the impact of their behaviour on prospective dates. Armstrong makes it clear it’s not about women blaming themselves for men’s bad behaviour but taking responsibility for their own assumptions, beliefs and judgements about men that can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings because “men are not hairy women.”
Men are highly sensitive emotional creatures with the capacity for connection, affection, intimacy and love. At our core, most of us are aching to drop our layers of heavy emotional armour and let trustworthy women see our softer sides. But many of us have been taught by our families and conditioned by our cultures that to reveal our emotions is a sign of weakness and opens us to ridicule, shame, attacks on our masculinity and possible physical violence. So we suppress our emotional needs and often act them out self-destructively which might make us appear edgy, grumpy and emotionally disconnected.
It takes a strong woman to see the good heart of a man behind his emotional armour. It also takes a brave woman willing to acknowledge the hurt she’s accumulated in her own relationships with men (grandfathers, father, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, boyfriends, lovers, partners, husbands, ex-husbands etc.).
Contemplating how these relationships have shaped and influenced the way you think about and respond to men may provide you with insights into why men have responded, and currently respond to you the way they do.
I realise this may all sound a bit daunting and y’all might be thinking, ‘why bother, my cat isn’t that bad!’
So here’s the deal, as you step into this new chapter where you would like to invite good men into your lives, the emotional baggage from your past is most likely going to come up. I’m inviting you to notice when this happens, exercise your emotional muscles and reflect on how your previous painful experiences with men get translated into your current thoughts and beliefs.
For example: “Men are shallow, emotionally unavailable jerks only interested in one thing.” Noticing and challenging these kinds of thoughts will contribute to future success with dates.
The big news this week is Lou Lou is online with her internet profile on RSVP and enjoying that first rush of attention.
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