Question of the Week Answered

by Kim (Just Another Woman)

In answering the
“Question of the Week” regarding men’s and women’s roles in relationships, and the even more specific “should the woman initiate the defining of a relationship?” I will first respond by saying that if I hadn’t initiated the ever pivotal “DTR talk (Defining the Relationship) with my now husband, I’d still probably be single today. There were certain factors, namely a working relationship, that made his approaching me to initiate a dating relationship something that just wasn’t going to happen, at least not for a long while. Being his senior by 9 nine years, waiting that long, ambiguous “while” was not something I was willing to do. It wasn’t that my biological clock was ticking that loudly, per say. But, we all, to some degree, women probably more than men, need definition in relationship.

So, can a woman initiate that initial crossroads conversation? Certainly. Should she? Well…..

Consider this: traditionally men have been the ones to ask the woman out on a first date. They have been the ones who move the relationship in the direction they’ve wanted it to go. They have been the ones to propose. We now live in the 21st century when women are asking men out, both can have high paying successful careers, i.e. dual “breadwinners,” women are now the ones having to move the relationship along, and we even see on occasion a woman doing the proposing. In the name of modernity and various women’s movements we all accept these changes, or so we say.

Despite what we say we accept now socially and culturally, I believe we naturally tend toward specific roles for men and women to live out in this life with one another-- not in an unchanging “Leave it to Beaver” way, but rather in a framework that holds the complicated world of relationships together. We like definition. Look at homosexual relationships even: two people of the same sex inevitably fall into the roles of one being “the man” in the relationship and one being “the woman.” Or, even more extreme, look at a transgender person today: he or she does not want to be another kind of man or woman; he/she wants to be defined in all the ways and roles of the opposite gender.

Staci and John Eldredge, husband and wife and co-authors of Captivating contend that every woman is asking the question “Am I lovely?” and every man “Do I have what it takes?” The degree to which this is answered early on in childhood determines the security each person develops in themselves, and the “baggage,” as we like to call it today, that each person does or does not bring to a relationship. I think they are right. I know that unanswered question in my own life got me into big relational messes. Nobody likes messy relationships, broken hearts, and great friendships that become forever “weird.” Of course, those things are not totally avoidable. But, wouldn’t we try, if knew how to make this relationship stuff work the best that it could?

Well, then, I say, let men be brave, let them “have what it takes.” Women are hearing anyway on Oprah, and books like He’s Just Not That Into You (from a writer of “Sex and the City”), that they are supposed to be fought for. Men, when you find the woman worth fighting for, fight for her. If she’s not that one who is “most lovely” to you, stop taking her out, stop talking on the phone for hours (or e-mail, texting, etc..), stop the conversations where you are sharing your soul. Women, likewise. Don’t be so desperate to be lovely to anyone that you allow a crush to deceive you, and you to share your soul with one who will not eventually guard it “’til death do you part.”

Now, remember that I am the one who began this blog with the story of me, the woman, being the initiator in the relationship. A happy marriage, one wonderful son and another on the way later, I am VERY glad that someone got the ball rolling, even if it had to me. I think down deep, though, for the answered and unanswered questions we have in our soul about our self-worth, we all want and need the gender roles to be played out successfully in relationship.


At 10/17/2005 11:01:00 PM, Blogger Cabe said...

Rush Limbaugh on "Hannity and Idiot" on FOX Tomorrow!


At 10/18/2005 12:46:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

hey cabe, thanks for the heads up.

At 10/18/2005 04:23:00 AM, Blogger Goat said...

Dang it, a lucky man caught a good woman. In today's society if a woman wants to go out with a man she must ask him as he is afraid of a criminal case if he as much as opens his mouth around a female. Us good Christian men thus sit back and hope He brings her to us. The Femi-Nazis have me scared limp, so to speak, I am a good man and I don't dare open my mouth, I have to make a living. I am pretty much your everyday divorced Joe and this is my observations and feelings. Look forward to seeing you in Bible Study.

At 10/18/2005 06:03:00 AM, Anonymous GJ said...

Hey Kim,
Great post!!! Women definitely can initiate a relationship, and with some of the "baggage" that men carry around today probably should at times. However, if you are in a relationship where you, as the woman, consistently find yourself "initiating the contact" either: 1) the guy probably just is not that into you, or 2) the woman will be in a relationship where she is forever "wearing the pants." Even in my female-male platonic relationships this bothers me a lot because you feel like you are always imposing your viewpoint on someone else. This is like being in a relationship with yourself (which is not very fun).

P.S. Hopefully you can guess who this is. Hint: I followed your example identifying myself by my initials.

At 10/18/2005 04:43:00 PM, Anonymous Sleep-deprived said...

Women often have to initiate contact because WE'VE changed the rules of engagement.

The rules of engagement used to be much like a "game" that had a clear purpose and pretty well established rules and boundaries. Men didn't have to ask "what game are we playing????"

In more recent years, women have changed the game to something unintelligible. Let me ask, how fun is it to play a game when YOU don't know the rules? Especially when the person you're playing with not only "knows" the rules, but doesn't tell you what they are (periodically changing them along the way)and then slams you when you make a mistake!

Until women (either as a group or individually) more clearly define the game they want to play, men are less likely to initiate the conversation, because the current state of the game is confusing, and isn't much fun to play anymore.

As a final point - for many women who liked the way the game was originally played, it can be disappointing to learn that many men no longer remember the original rules of engagement - can we blame them?

Women initiating the conversation in the current environment is a way of leveling the playing field by saying, "look, this is the game I'm playing and the rules I play by, are you interested?"

At 10/18/2005 06:47:00 PM, Anonymous KO said...

GJ- it took me a few minutes, but I do know who you are :) The key word you mentioned in regards to this topic is "consistently," which I agree with you. If the woman is consistently initiating something is going on there- probably not the something she hoped for. (see you this weekend!)

At 10/22/2005 02:34:00 AM, Blogger Amy Middleton said...

I thoroughly enjoyed that Kim! BUT in addition I would like to know Lores' opinion too! :)

At 10/22/2005 02:54:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

Okay Amy, here it goes, in a nutshell.

i think that if a man does not rise take the step to raise the question, then the woman has another option: back off. if he wants you, he'll come after you. if he doesn't, then you don't want him.

While i do not believe that it is wrong for a woman to ask the question, i do have a concern about her level of vulnerability when she does ask. IF it's going to be done, then i would counsel someone to say something like, "we've been spending lots of time together. and, while i enjoy our friendship, i do need to know what your intentions are because this is not the quantity or quality of time i spend with my other guy friends."

the bottom line to me is that a woman can communicate through her actions that her heart and her time is worth more than what that man is paying. if he does not realize it, there are ways to ask the question and building that worth, rather than tearing it down.

i could say so much more. but, i have to stop somewhere :)


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