I was scrolling through Tinder when my eyes landed on a man who had ghosted me. Naturally, I swiped right to see what would happen with the ghost.
We matched, and then he messaged me asking me to go over to his place. I played along, saying that I first wanted to know why he had ghosted me before.
“I just felt things getting too serious,” he said.
“You mean on my end?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “So do you want to come over?”
For the record, I did not meet up with this guy again. Instead, I was angry – I was directly confronted with a common double standard that occurs while dating: the perception that women always want something more and are catching feelings, even when they say otherwise.
To me, I was merely seeing this guy casually and occasionally. I texted him sometimes because I’m friendly. But I guess, to him, this meant that I was obviously super into him, even though I never suggested such a thing. After a few minutes, I decided to use my negative energy for a social experiment: I started swiping on Tinder, and the first message I sent to my matches was “sorry, I’m not looking for a relationship.”
Of course, this experiment might sound extreme, as men don’t typically send first messages like this. However, the comments they make later on still carry the same implications: that what women say they want is not what they actually want, that women are always more emotional than men, and that things like sex always mean more to women than they do men.
These stereotypes are harmful for everyone. First of all, they’re heteronormative. Secondly, for heterosexual women, it sends the message that when women say they want or don’t want something, they might not mean it. We’re just too “shy” to say what we actually want, so men should assume. It should be simple: when women tell you want they want, listen to them.
Some men I’ve talked to have also said that sex means more to women than it does to men – as though every time a woman has bad or mediocre sex, she gets emotionally attached. Sex can mean something to a woman, or it could mean nothing to her. The idea that it always means something to woman is an outdated, patriarchal idea in which women obtain their value through a lack of sexual partners. Not wanting sex – especially casual sex – makes us “pure,” which is messed up.
These stereotypes hurt men too. The ideas that men always want sex and it never means something to them are also wrong. Men can be emotional, and men can dislike casual sex.
My point when messaging men this way was that we should never make an assumption about what someone wants from a relationship or a Tinder match just based on gender – especially when they actually tell us what they want. It’s lazy, illogical and offensive.
For the most part, the men that I messaged were totally baffled when I said “sorry, I’m not looking for a boyfriend.” I don’t think anyone had ever suggested that they must be looking for something serious. Instead, they probably deal with the opposite: the assumption that they, as men, are looking for hookups and one night stands. This is offensive as well.
Most of the men I messaged said they were down for something casual. I replied with “but you’d probably get too attached to me.” These words didn’t particularly offend most of them, probably because it just sounded ridiculous to them. But it’s something women hear quite often, in some way or another.
One man seemed taken aback, asking, “why did I say that made you think I was looking for a relationship?!”
And to that I say: exactly.