I have two Masters degrees, a great job as an inner city school librarian, I recently bought my own house, and I am becoming more and more successful in roller derby. My issue is that I have a seriously problematic dating life. Because of the aggression required to participate in roller derby, and my brash, independent personality, I have adopted a seriously masculine energy in my dating life. No matter whom I date, he ends up acting entirely emasculated. The men always end up behaving more, um, “romantically” (i.e. texting to say “I’m thinking of you,” dropping L-bombs, bringing me flowers when I’ve explicitly stated my dislike of that gesture, etc.) than I could ever find attractive.
I know other girls find that kind of stuff sweet, but it is entirely unattractive to me! From the athletic blue collar worker to the successful white collar types, I cannot find any man desirous of retaining his independence while dating me. How can I attract a man who desires equal respect? Someone who does not equate being walked all over with being a good partner? Is dating out for me until I can become a sports-hating, chick flick-loving, dependent woman? I am lonely but unwilling to mold myself into something I’m not to snag a partner. — Man Eater
Woah, sister, you need to step back and get a little perspective. It’s cool that you’re independent and that you kick ass at roller derby and don’t want a man to buy you flowers, but if in your world a man is weak or “emasculated” if he “drops the L-Bomb” or tells you he’s thinking of you, your problem isn’t in finding a man who “desires equal respect”; your problem is 100% your attitude. My feeling is that you work so hard at not appearing vulnerable, especially during roller derby which, let’s face it, can become all-encompassing to those who are involved with the sport, that you’re afraid to be vulnerable in your dating life. You see any act of romance as an assault on the wall you’ve built to protect yourself. But, romance is not an act of aggression. Love is not an act of aggression. And the aggression you embrace in your world of roller derby is not a synonym for strength. In order for you to move forward in life, you need to sort all that out and realize the difference. Sometimes, it takes much more strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable than it does to constantly be on the defense (or offense, for that matter).
You know how in the roller derby, big fat bruises are, like, badges of honor? You wear them with pride, posting photos of them on Facebook and showing them off to whoever will look? Well, think of your love life in the same way. Instead of feeling afraid of getting hurt or having your heart broken, see each bruise — each failed relationship or bad date — as a badge. Those “love badges” mean you are opening yourself up to finding happiness. They mean you’re putting your heart on the line. You’re risking pain — emotional pain — and defeat for the ultimate win: a true, long-lasting, fulfilling love.
Vulnerability is not a feminine trait. And strength most certainly is not just a masculine trait. You do yourself and your gender an enormous disservice when you designate emotions this way. Instead of cultivating “masculine energy” because you think it makes you seem stronger, you need to work on cultivating sexual energy that embraces strength. What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that you need to take off the helmet and knee pads at the end of the day and do something that helps you balance the aggression of roller derby with something that’s a little more … inviting to the opposite sex. I mean, harness all that aggression and turn it into something hot. Get in touch with your sensual side.
You don’t have to be a chick flick-loving Molly Homemaker to land a man. But you’ll definitely get a lot further in finding the kind of guy you want if you have something to offer beneath your tough exterior. You need to make some deviled eggs to sprinkle all your red hot pepper on, girl, so get cookin’.