In my last post I highlighted the fact that 40% of men report feeling ‘fear’ when meeting someone for that all important first date.
This could explain the well-known phenomenon in the dating event industry that sees men only really booking up at the last minute while women tend to book weeks in advance. Some may churlishly suggest this is due to men’s general inability to plan, or an innate fear of commitment.
For my money the truth lies elsewhere.
Over time, the idea of online dating, app dating and indeed dating events in general has become more publicly acceptable. At least to talk about. Yet there is still reticence, particularly among men, to admit that they are the ones doing it. It’s as if admitting as such is somehow emasculating – I’ve failed in my ability to find a ‘mate’ in a normal way which is why I’m seeking assistance.
The two main reasons men give for avoiding dating events are: Fear of rejection and fear of humiliation. These can essentially be combined. Rejection is, after all humiliating. One man I spoke to who had eventually braved an event after two years of toying with the idea explained, “I felt as if I was giving up control… that I would somehow be at the mercy of the night unable to do anything about it while also failing miserably to impress anyone.”
There are a couple of odd ideas here. The first is the notion of giving up control. Going to a speed dating event formalises a process of introduction in which individuals have total control with a timed escape route built in. Compare this to standing in a bar with a group of mates competing with other groups of mates for the attention of the person who you can’t really focus on the other side of the room because you’re too drunk. Rationally it’s a no brainer. But in a sense we’re pack animals and there is safety in numbers. You can’t fail if you don’t try and if nothing happens you can console each other.
The second is the idea of ‘failure’ to impress anyone. To paraphrase John Gray, author of Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, women want to feel cherished and men want to feel admired. Fear of failure is more a concern that admiration won’t be forthcoming. It appears that for men, we’d rather remain alone than risk acknowledgement that to some we’re not ‘admirable’. This is at heart an egotistical imperative. If we could only supercede our egos and see the situation as less one where failure is possible, than one in which ‘success’ is probable.
But what do we mean by success? It’s not that one ‘pulls’ or gets phone numbers or sleeps with someone or gets a date. It’s the very fact of pleasant interaction. As men, we mistake the (false) success of avoiding a lack of admiration for the real success of simple engagement.
Almost every guy I have spoken to after an event has expressed surprise at how relaxed and fun the whole thing was. Once the idea that a pleasant feeling of interaction with a group of people of the opposite sex has superceded the fear of humiliation, men genuinely enjoy the company of others. It’s quite literally, a buzz.
The whole alpha male show of not caring or only being there for one thing is simply a mask to hide the fear that one will not be admired. The irony is that it’s precisely such an approach that is most likely to result in a lack of admiration. However, if such a mask is used such a man can pretend it was all part of the plan – that he was in control. Funny how the complete opposite is true.
So what can we do about it?
While it’s easier said than done, take the plunge. But if you need specifics, there are three sure fire ways to get around this egotistical avoidance.
1) Bring a close male friend. Preferably someone you don’t have one of those odd competitive ‘let’s see who can get most pissed and pull’ relationships with. Thus you’ll fulfil the need for a sense of solidarity without scaring everyone else off.
2) Bring a close female friend as your wing buddy. You’ll be helping each other out and she may well be able to tell you when you’re kinda getting it wrong but in such a way that you won’t feel as if you’ve failed.
3) Come with the idea that actually meeting plenty of people is a success in itself.
It’s not easy being single in London. But you can at least give yourself a fighting chance.
Fancy taking the plunge after my little rant? Check out a latest events here and hopefully we’ll see you soon.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS