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You don’t need to impress men

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Why you shouldn't try to impress men

Women receive a lot of messages from friends, family, media, and more about how to impress and attract men. It’s taken for granted that of course women want to do this, and we need to use all our estrogen-infused wiles to do so. We’re told that this is an essential part of womanhood.

This is nonsense.

Sure there a certain men you may want to impress – your boss, good friends, someone you have the hots for – but impressing men as a group is a fool’s errand.

Amazingly, men are individuals

There are guys who will be thrilled with how well you warm up frozen dinners, and there are guys who won’t be impressed with how you save lives everyday. Some men find sincerity nauseating and love a woman who has a chilling disregard for the wellbeing of others. Some guys aren’t into women at all.

All this is to say that there are billions of men in world, and they don’t all want the same thing from people. If you’re trying to look or act a certain way to make an impression on men in general, good luck. I mean, even something simple like how much cleavage to show on a date would receive a myriad of opposing opinions if you asked dudes what they think about it. (Or let’s be honest, some dudes, you’re getting an opinion whether or not you asked for it.)

So when you’re told, “Men like traditional women,” “Guys don’t want a high-maintenance girlfriends,” “You should be skinny, but not too skinny,” “Wear make-up, but make it look natural,” and on and on and on, it’s all bullshit because it cannot possibly be true for every man. Even if you miraculously fulfill every imperative there’s going to be some guy who doesn’t like you.

But what if the majority of men like something? I don’t know, dear reader, what if you didn’t give a shit instead? A life where dudes you wouldn’t like self-select out of it sounds pretty sweet to me.

Falling for the Cool Girl trap

I haven’t read Gone Girl, but I do know that the explanation of Cool Girl struck a chord with a lot of women. There’s an evocative description of Cool Girl; the gist is she’s “… basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain.” Also, hot. Also, not real.

Trying to be Cool Girl is usually an attempt to make guys think well of you. The idea is that they enjoy your company, think of you as one of the guys except for wanting to bone you, and don’t treat you like “other girls” who have awful things like wants and feelings, then you’re golden. For a while, this method seems to work, especially compared to the strident, wet blanket method. (Why yes! I do have experience with both! #wetblanket4life)

The trap is that the kind of people who need you to act like a fantasy in order to tolerate your presence will never think of you as a human being. If you need to be Cool Girl instead of a person, you were never with the in-group in the first place. Plus, at some point you will crack – a joke goes too far, the expectations are too much, you stand your ground – and all the friendliness drains from them once they see you’re not who you were pretending to be.

Were they impressed, though? I’d say similarly to seeing a dog walk on its hind legs or a self-cleaning litter box.

Most men’s opinions are inconsequential to your day-to-day life

Remember how there are billions of men, and they’re all individuals? You’re also not going to interact with the vast majority of them. They’re not going to have an opinion about you because they literally don’t know you exist. Their opinions, whether or not you agree with them, will have a very limited impact on your life.

Even the majority of people you do meet in your day-to day life will not have a significant impact on it. They probably don’t even have much of an opinion about you. By all means be a decent human being, but whether or not these dudes think you’re smart, nice, or sexy is usually inconsequential.

Because we live in a society, sometimes you do need to consider the opinions of other people, including guys. Sometimes impressing them is a good idea. So consider this, when was the last time a guy impressed you by twisting himself into knots for your approval? Why would you think it would work the other way around?

What men want vs. what you want

Okay, these things aren’t mutually exclusive. For example, nearly everyone loves cancelling plans.

But the pressure to consider what random dudes want from women versus what you want can bog you down. It’s one thing if you feel like your wants always align with whatever you’ve been told dudes like. But what happens when they don’t? Moreover, what happens when you’re not exactly sure what you want yet?

Being told X is what men want and you will be loved, secure, and desirable as long as you provide it, can get in the way of following your dreams or figuring out who you are. Whether that magical thing you must provide is a certain type of beauty, obedience, children, sexual openness, or a love of sports, what makes it important is not what you want, but what a hypothetical man wants.

Because men are individuals, there’s no magic list of qualities that will guarantee anything. I hope I’ve established the idea that what men want cannot be pinned down in a trite list and runs the spectrum from saving puppies to tofu breakfast burritos to genocide.

What is guaranteed though, is that you will have spent more time worrying about what strangers you may never meet with potentially repugnant beliefs want than how you can build your own happiness.

Crystal is a questioner of many things and a writer of essays and fiction. She loves ballet and opera almost as much as football.