When I started dating again after a long relationship, I thought being older and wiser would work in my favor. However, I found it really hard to keep a guy interested in me once he learned I have a steady job, I’m self-sufficient and not super needy. I was curious if this was in my head so I tried a different approach for a bit. Sure enough, as soon as I started acting a little helpless, dudes flocked to me.
- I guess I seemed more approachable. I had no idea that my self-confidence informed how I carried myself in a public setting. If I was out with friends and I giggled and flirted, I found more men came up to talk to me than when I just kept to my circle and did my own thing. Overall, I think there needs to be a balance. I don’t want to come off too intimidating but I also don’t want to act like a child to get guys to talk to me.
- They kept telling me they liked being needed. I’m typically the one delivering that line. I like being needed—I’m a natural caregiver, so it’s hard for me to imagine being on the other side. It seemed like if I wanted a guy to stick around and not be scared off by my independence, I had to feed into the BS idea that I needed their help with things I was perfectly capable of handling myself.
- I was super low-maintenance. The truth is, I’m not, but when I acted as if I just needed to be understood and validated, it didn’t put much pressure on any of the guys I dated at the time to please me. They could simply empathize with whatever tough time I was dealing with and leave it at that. It was the perfect scenario and kept them interested to know they didn’t actually have to put in much of an effort.
- They knew I’d be loyal. I learned that when I started seeing a guy that found me to be sort of distressed, he could easily dominate certain parts of me. He knew by making me feel important and loved, that created a certain loyalty to him that he needed to feel. I tend to be loyal by nature anyway but I saw it in a whole new light when it was being directed toward a person who needed to feel like he had the control in the relationship.
- It helped them make promises for a long-term future. Helpless girls like validation and reassurance. In fact, they crave it. I’d been there in the past but once I grew up a little, I realized that was my insecurity talking. I did notice that after tabling my self-sufficiency and pretending I needed saving, I was getting reassurance almost constantly and without asking for it. I just knew it wasn’t coming from a healthy place.
- It made them feel manly, which kept them happy. Feeling confident is important and I know that firsthand. If I was able to ask for assistance on “dude” stuff, like fixing things, the guys were more than jumping at the opportunity to shine. I got more attention the more I acted like I didn’t know how to take care of random things around my house. WTF?
- I realized so many dudes still subscribe to outdated, sexist relationship tropes. There was such an emphasis years ago that the man in the relationship “wore the pants” and the woman supported her partner. No matter how far we’ve come as women, a lot of men still see that as the healthy way to go about a partnership. I’m not saying all men are like this, but I still found that a lot of guys want to be the leader and expected me to follow along and not have much of a voice.
- It set expectations that the favors need to be returned. I know relationships can’t be one-sided, but it can take an unhealthy road if the guy is only doing things for me to get something in return and he retaliates if I don’t give into that. I may be easy to please if I’m playing the needy role, but just because he doesn’t feel the pressure of having to impress me, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t expect his needs to be validated too.
- It clearly attracted the wrong type of men for me. Even if my calendar was full and I was able to more easily get guys to ask me out and continue pursuing me, they weren’t the men that I could see a future with. I learned I’d much rather be myself, a strong woman who is self-reliant, and wait for a guy who will appreciate and support that. It’s a bit disheartening to see how many guys are still drawn to women they perceive as “weak” for whatever reason, but I still believe a good guy who will value my independence is out there.