Recently, I’ve been troubled by an aspect of dating that some people might find flattering.
I’ve gotten a lot of offers lately—not offers to go out on a date or spend time getting to know another person; rather, it seems like all of the offers are sexual in nature.
I hear from other single friends that this is a common experience.
There’s something slightly damaging, for me anyway, about having a lot of people around who seem to only want sex—they don’t seem to genuinely care about me as a person, or want to be in a legitimate relationship.
I’ve been troubled by people who can’t take “no” for an answer, and people who are just hoping to get us into a vulnerable or inebriated state so that they can try to convince us to do something that we’ve already made clear we don’t want to do. We deal with this on top of all the other challenges of dating in the modern world like dealing with unsolicited “dick pics” and inappropriate sexual remarks directed to an online profile.
It might surprise you to know that the picture you’re looking at represents an actual person. Keep that in mind when sending offensive messages our way. We’re not just a photo on a screen. We’re actually real people with real feelings.
Your message laden with sexual innuendos are not flattering.
We can even skip over the glaring issues of consent when someone is vulnerable or inebriated and just look at the bigger picture of the unwelcome attention.
In the online dating world, we’re often treated like b*tches or gold-diggers when we don’t want to engage in a sexual conversation before (a) meeting, (b) going out on an actual, legitimate date (“hanging out” doesn’t count) or (c) even having a regular, ordinary, garden-variety conversation.
I feel like there’s an idea that women are expected to be flattered by all of this attention. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t know a single woman who doesn’t want to be told that she’s beautiful. And, hey, sometimes calling us “hot” or “sexy” can be flattering as well, depending on the context. We enjoy the right kind of attention.
Sometimes the kind of attention we receive feels like objectification because it doesn’t have anything to do with what we want, think or feel.
At this point, it becomes dehumanizing.
At what point did it become the norm for women to be treated only as physical objects, without care to our thoughts or feelings? The answer for that is probably always.
But you see we’re not just a physical presence. We’re thoughts and feelings and past experiences held within this framework. We’re not your plaything or your one-time use toy. We’re not your entertainment or your escape from boredom. We’re not your temptation or your dark, dirty little secret. We are not perfect or ideal or the answer to your prayers.
We’re not players in your game—and we are not here to amuse you.
We’re not what you have reduced us to with your words, your assessing looks, your hands that touch even when they are not welcome, your eyes that touch even when your hands don’t.
We do not deny the want of our skin touching another’s, murmured words, touches, sighs, melting and igniting and turning molten beneath those hands each time. We do not deny that being saturated with longing or held captive by our own desire so strongly intertwined with that of another’s.
But we long for more than touches and sighs. We long for our souls to be laid bare not by the intimacy of skin touching skin but by the raw, unfiltered power of love in that moment when we turn to another and realize our hearts are no longer in our own possession. In these moments, gladly give our hearts, trusting they’ll be safe. In those places, we begin to understand how deeply our love can be for another, tasting an intimacy that surpasses physicality.
Even if these relationships don’t lead to forever, we know that our humanity is a part of it, rather than having it be taken for granted.
Yes, we want desire but not just desire, not only desire. We don’t want the persistent unwelcome attention that comes after we say “no.” We mean what we say, and no amount of persistence or alcohol-clouded judgment will change our minds.
Don’t be with us if the only thing you want is to take something from us. If you want to keep company with us, do it because you’re interested in who we are and where we’ve been, what we’ve learned and seen and felt and experienced in this life.
Don’t do it because you want to scratch an itch or make a conquest.
We are surrounded by desire but not cherished. Pursued but not valued. Possessed but not offered the slightest affection. While we won’t deny that there are moments where we long for the fire, our souls are burning and yet not warmed in the slightest by the endless onslaught of unwelcome attention.
Remember this, and treat us gently—not as the weaker sex or as the fairer sex, though. Just treat treat us as humans who are valued.
We will treat you gently as well, treasuring the encounter of connecting with another—not with our skin against your own, or not only, but with our eyes meeting yours, our souls connecting for however long they’re meant to meet.
Let’s not reduce each other to less than we are.
Let us acknowledge the humanity in one another. And in doing so, tread carefully with the feelings of others, coming and going in kindness and sometimes staying if we find our twin flame, if such a thing exists. And we can all experience being cherished rather than being used, seen fully and not simply admired for something we’re not.
We are so much more than your desire.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Photo: otto-yamamoto at Flickr
Editor: Renée Picard