What unrealistic expectations do women often have about men when it comes to dating?

What unrealistic expectations do women often have about men when it comes to dating? by @grumblebee

Answer by Marcus Geduld:

The most unrealistic expectation I see women having is the same one I see men having: that there's some sort of secret code to the opposite sex, and if you can just crack it, all your romantic dreams will come true.

You see it expressed here all the time in questions like, "I texted a guy and it took him two days to respond. What does that mean?" "This guy I like offered to give me a ride to the airport. Why did he do that?" and "What do men want from women?"

All of these questions–and the male versions ("A girl smiled at me. What does it mean?")–operate within the context that there's such a thing as "men" (or "women"), not understanding that what actually exists is over three billion people who happen to have penises (or vaginas).

There are other mental and physical ways that one male tends to be similar to another, and there are cultural forces that tend to push people-with-penises towards behaving and thinking in certain ways, but they're just trends, and there are millions of exceptions to them.

There are so many exceptions that it's foolish to make assumptions. You don't know Greg very well or what he's into, but, men like sports, right? It's a pretty safe bet he'll like the Bronco tickets you got him for his birthday, right? Nope. He might be a football fan who hates the Broncos. He might be a sports fan who hates football. He might hate sports. It sucks that you can't take one look at him, realize he's male, and, just from that information, know what to get him for his birthday. It sucks to live in a complicated world.

What does a man want in a woman? Which man? Some men like smart women; some like stupid women; some don't care whether a woman is smart or stupid, as long as she has big breasts; some men prefer small-breasted women, or don't care about breast size because they're focused on legs; some men like to be dominated; some like to dominate …

There are a couple of writers here, me being one of them and Franklin Veaux being another, who keep posting variants of the same answer (though Franklin's are funnier than mine), which remind people that there's nothing that "men" want and nothing that "women" want. Here's Franklin's answer to "Do women love big penises or it does not matter? What's the truth behind this age old mystery?"

The truth behind this age old mystery is: different women are different. Some women really like large penises. Some women don't care. Some women don't like large penises. Some women don't like penises at all.

Many age old mysteries disappear when you realize that women are people, and different people like different things.

I don't know how often this happens to Franklin, but when I post answers like this, I get two types of disagreeing responses. The first is from (usually) men who either haven't read sex research or dismiss all of it.

The research suggests that while there are behavioral and emotional differences between men and women that are probably, to some extent, innate, they are small differences, and that within populations of a single sex, there's tremendous variation.

The second comes from (usually) men responding with some form of, "Okay, there are differences, but surely there are broad trends." Yes, there are trends, particularly within particular cultures and subcultures. But let's keep in mind the context of these questions. They're not scientific studies running statistical analyses; they're requests for dating and relationship advice. No matter how broad a sex-based trend is, there are so many exceptions, you are foolish to use statistics when relating to a specific, flesh-and-blood person.

You are probably safe (in my country) bringing wine to a party, even when you don't know the host or guests, because statistically it's likely people there will drink it, and since they know these statistics, they probably won't be offended even if they're not wine drinkers.

You are not safe buying a man you don't know football tickets, assuming he's looking for a girl just like the one who married dear old dad, or assuming he likes blowjobs.

People really, really, really want "men" and "women" as homogeneous groups to exist, and, if you convince them they don't, then they really, really, really want useful trends to exist. They start to get angry if you insist they don't.

Why? Because, for most of us, relationships with the opposite sex are the most emotionally fraught, scary aspects of our lives. When people are scared, they desperately want rules. "Just tell me the thing I need to do to get a boyfriend or girlfriend. Tell me the rules and I'll follow them!" I understand this. I sympathize with it. I am on the autism spectrum and, believe me, there's nothing I like better than a rule and nothing that scares me more than lack of them.

But what I've seen, over and over, is that the people who look for trends aren't successful in relationships. Men who try to date "women" and women who try to date "men" keep getting disappointed, as do men who try to do "what women want" and women who try to do "what men want." If you're dating George–or interested in dating (or even just fucking) him–you need to learn what George wants.

The people who are successful in relationships work hard (while enjoying the work) to get to know other people. They don't go in with all sorts of assumptions that, because these people have this or that set of sex organs, they're going to behave in such-and-such ways–even if they've found this to be statistically true. In other words, they don't go in with the assumption that the specific person they're dealing with is one of the norm, instead of an exception. He or she might be either.

They listen, they ask questions, they relate. They don't have the unrealistic expectation that the person across the table from them–or lying on the other pillow–is a statistic. They do the hard work–and it's way harder than relying on rules, but it's the only "technique" that works–of starting over, from scratch, with each new person they meet.

What unrealistic expectations do women often have about men when it comes to dating?


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