I recently had a Tweet exchange with young woman on Twitter. She was annoyed that a man she had met sent her a message and said that he didn’t know what they should do for their date. He asked her to propose something. She said she wanted to reply back and propose he grow a pair and make a plan.
Here’s the thing. When men don’t ask for our help, we roll our eyes and say they’re arrogant or stubborn. But when they do, we quickly jump to the “be a man” defense.
We’ve talked about this whole attacking a man’s masculinity for not fulfilling our idea of what constitutes being a man.
Planning a date has nothing to do with being a man. Just like picking out a cute outfit has nothing to do with being a woman. Going for the jugular and waging war on his manhood just makes us look like shrews.
I agree that it’s nice when the guy has a plan. It takes the onus off of us. It makes us feel, say it with me now, valued because it indicates that he’s trying to impress us. I get it. But with gender roles and dating in general in a constant state of flux and change, we all have to be a bit more bendy.
There are reasons why a man might ask us to help plan the date. Such as:
1. He doesn’t know us very well and doesn’t know what we’d like.
2. He’s afraid we’ll think whatever plan he does devise is “lame.”
3. He’s got a ton of stuff on his plate and genuinely doesn’t have 20 – 30 minutes to go through Yelp and find a good place.
4. He has no idea where you’ll be coming from, where you work or live, and doesn’t want to suggest someplace inconvenient.
5. He’s half-assing it because he’s not terribly interested.
If he’s not that interested, there will be many other signs indicating that this is the case. You’ll know. Don’t assume that because he doesn’t have a map and itinerary drawn up that he’s being lazy and just trying to get you drunk so he can sleep with you.
This is another one of those things, along with Texting vs. Calling and How Long He Should Wait to Have Sex, that is about nothing more than us wanting the man to prove to us how invested he is and that we’re special. We want to know that they consider us worth the effort. We want them to impress us. I realize that many of us have experienced some disappointments. I know how hard it is to get up the energy to be open minded or to look forward to another date. If that’s how you’re feeling, then you need to take a bit of a break, because you’re creating exit strategies before you ever even meet the guy. If you’re going in to the date with your guard up or you’re looking for something to go wrong, something will. You’re wasting your time and his. If you sit there and make a mental note of everything he says and does, marking things off and checking off boxes, you’re missing the fun!
None of this is about gender roles or feminism or respect. All of these things are about how we view ourselves and our unwillingness to take a risk. We want to know exactly what we’re getting in to and if it will be worth the 90 minutes we spend getting ready and the $30 we spend on our pedicure.
It’s about not wanting to feel like a fool. So really, we’re coming at situations like this from the same place. Neither of us want to make a wrong move and end up looking silly or making a bad impression.
I think much of this desire for a “man with a plan” is that women use this as a way to gauge a man’s confidence and assertiveness. Maybe even his dominance. We don’t want a guy who’s too submissive. I understand that . But we should want a man who values our opinion or who isn’t afraid to ask us for help. That shouldn’t be held against him.
Another thing to consider is that, since many of our first dates come from meeting online, the first date is no longer what a first date used to be. Now you want to find a place that’s quiet, well lit…and has an accessible exit. We all have our favorite haunts. But is that really where we want to have our first date? A place where we know the staff, who maybe has seen us with other people, or maybe is too loud or rowdy? Let’s face it…people don’t just judge us on who we hang out with, but where. So if someone has two or three favorite pubs that they frequent after work or with co-workers, its unlikely they’ll want to meet you there. We want some privacy, right? (As a side note…if you live in NYC, check out The House on 17th & Irving Place. One of the best spots I’ve been to in a long time. Perfect if you’re going on a first date.) So, there’s a lot to consider. And it’s not always as easy as going through a listing of bars on some website.
Now, I do think it’s wise for a man to have an idea of what the first date should involve. But it shouldn’t be a requirement. Nor should it be one of those things we use to test a man’s mettle, so to speak. I don’t think it makes the woman too eager or too desperate if she makes suggestions or helps come up with what to do.
What do you think? Should a man be responsible for coming up with the first date plan? If so, why or why not?