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Thursday, March 16, 2017 12:11 am

Pleaser burn

PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
Amy Alkon
My problem is that I’ll go on one or two dates with a girl and then get the whole “I just wanna be friends.” And they really mean that. They want me to do lunch and go shopping and talk on the phone about their guy problems. How can I nicely tell these girls, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but no, I’m not going to be your friend – and I especially don’t want to hear about your new guy”? I guess the problem boils down to the fact that I don’t want to make a woman mad. – Frustrated

Over and over, you hear the same thing – basically, “Sorry … we have to turn down your application for CEO, but we’d love to have you as our parking attendant.”

By the way, your first problem is that you’re wrong about what your problem is. It isn’t how to tell a woman you aren’t up for the role of pet eunuch. It’s how to be the man holding her in his arms instead of the one holding her purse while she’s exploring her options in the tampon section.

Consider what the ladies tend to want – whether the ladies are hermit crabs or humans. Evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers’ theory of “parental investment” explains that in species that provide continuing care for their young after they’re born, females have evolved to go for “dominant” males. Dominance translates to being more able to “provide protection and material support” (through physical ability, as well as high social status).

However, the term “dominant” is a little … uh … unrefined. Women aren’t looking to be dragged off into the sunset by some thug. Social psychologist Jerry M. Burger and one of his students, Mica Cosby, took a nuanced look at dominance and found that women overwhelmingly want a man who is “confident” and “assertive” as their ideal date or romantic partner. And though most also want a man who’s “sensitive” and “easygoing,” none – not one – of the 118 women they surveyed wanted a man who is “submissive.”

Chances are, “submissive” is exactly how you’re coming off. Your pleaserboy bottom line – “I don’t want to make a woman mad” – suggests a hunger for women’s approval and probably leads you to wilt like a man-daisy to avoid even the slightest conflict. Unfortunately, that won’t get you out of the friend zone. What will is self-respect – and the assertiveness that comes out of it: showing that you have opinions, needs and preferences, and tough tostadas if a woman doesn’t like them. This, of course, doesn’t mean being rigidly uncompromising. However, when you do sacrifice your needs, it should be because you feel good about doing something nice – not because you’re dreaming of a day when your “Well, hellooo, gorgeous!” won’t be followed by “Thanks! And I seriously appreciate your watching Senor Fluffyface while I’m on my date.”

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