Most people don’t really like to date. It is a necessary stepping stone that they approach with resolve, dread or even fear. Because as much as we all want a person to love and understand us there is a certain element of Russian roulette to dating. Did you draw a dud? Is this person smart and fun? Will this date go down in bad date history? You just never really know.
If the person across the table seems normal, what does that tell you? The first few dates are like job interviews, with everyone on their best behavior. Who knows what will happen when your date becomes a real person a couple of months down the line?
Each gender has a unique set of fears based on their biology and the normal socialization we all go through. In this article, we’re going to look at the most common fears that men have when they are considering a dating relationship.
Are these universal? Of course not. Are they common? You bet. Here they are in no particular order.
Fear #1: You’ll Come Between Him and His Friends
Oh, he knows you’re not going to say, “Listen, I don’t want you spending time with your friends.” It’s much more subtle than that. It can start with a, “Sports again? I made plans for us to go on a hike,” progress through, “That guy Joe is really a jerk!” and on to, “I don’t like how you act when you’re with these guys!” Before he knows it, he has traded a core of lifelong friends for a woman who likes to make up rules.
Perhaps these are legitimate observations. He may be boorish when he’s around his pals. From his perspective, it doesn’t matter. No guy wants to start a relationship with a woman only to end up estranged from his buddies six months later.
Fear #2: You’ll Soak Up All of His Free Time
“Together time” is an interesting concept. Some people need lots of together time when they date — lots of calls, texts, strolls and evenings spent watching TV cuddled on the couch. Some feel comfortable with a couple of dates a week. While together time needs vary wildly independent of gender, many men have a fear of being confined in a relationship (just as many women have a fear of being abandoned in a relationship). They worry about an ever increasing schedule of together time activities that cuts into other things they enjoy.
Of course, if he didn’t want a relationship he wouldn’t be dating, but all men have seen friends who lose their grip on beloved activities once they enter a serious relationship. There are guys who love golf and then can’t find the time for a round — or guys who take cross country motorcycle trips and then end up selling their bike. Let’s not forget about guys who are always good for a round of wings and a football game and then are never free anymore. When a single man thinks about those friends he doesn’t think, “Wow, why weren’t they strong enough to stand up for the things that were important to them AND have a great relationship?” Instead he thinks, “Danger! Women soak up free time.”
Fear #3: You’ll Pretend to Be Sane and Turn Out to Be Crazy
Certainly, no one wants crazy in their lives. If there was a crazy-meter that clicked like a Geiger counter whenever you came across a nut job, they would be a mandatory purchase for all daters.
Men are especially scared of the masked crazy woman because they are much worse at reading signs and picking up subtle hints earlier on. Women seem to be masters at figuring out what’s underneath the surface. Men have a harder time looking past the surface and those early date niceties to see what dangers lurk beneath.
But again, this fear is born out of what men have watched their friends endure. There’s the sweet guy who ends up with a woman who calls his cell phone every 20 minutes, who yells at him (more on this below), and cannot be satisfied with any earthly pleasure. We’ve all seen the look in this poor man’s eyes, and thought to ourselves, “I will never let this happen to me.”
We know that this guy isn’t stupid. He fell in love with an attractive woman who was lots of fun, and somehow after he made his choice and pushed out to sea with her, the water got rough. But it’s too late, he’s in love, and all her childish rants and demanding illogic can’t get him to leave.
A bird’s eye view of this kind of relationship can chill a man to the bone. Again, it may be impossible for him to understand how his friend is contributing to this terrible relationship. All he sees is a crazy woman and a pathetic friend.
Fear #4: You Won’t Respect Him
A wise psychologist once wrote, “In a relationship, women want to be cherished and men want to be admired.” Men do want their partners to admire them. Not in a ticker-tape parade kind of way, but as a quiet nod of respect for what he does and has accomplished. We all know this on some primal level.
There is a scene in the Sam Raimi movie, “A Simple Plan,” that illustrates this perfectly. Two brothers find several million dollars out in the woods. They lead happy but humble lives in a small town, and go through many twists and turns trying to figure out how to keep the money and not raise suspicions.
In the end, one brother decides to burn the money. His adoring wife, who has been quiet and supportive the entire film, turns on him like a rabid dog: “Do you think I like the life you’ve made for us? Do you think I like wearing used clothes, and scrimping and saving to go to the grocery store? What kind of man are you?” The entire theater gasped! There’s something so cutting in having this woman verbalize her lack of respect for her husband.
In the real world, this presents itself in many ways. Criticizing a man in front of his friends is a typical one. Whether it is true or not, dragging out a foible in front of a guy’s friends is humiliating and usually has the friends thinking, “She’s airing his dirty laundry! Poor guy.”
Fear #5: You’ll Be High Maintenance
High maintenance is a term that gets tossed around a lot. Because money makes “high” and “low” relative, we suggest that the whole maintenance scale be replaced with a “fussiness scale.” How fussy is your date, and how much fussy can you take? A fussy woman scares men to death.
She’s fussy because she cannot be pleased. She has a very narrow range of what is acceptable to her. She likes only certain foods. They must be prepared a certain way. She only likes a few activities. Hiking? “No, I don’t like to get sweaty.” Roller Coasters? “I’m scared.” Skiing? “No, I don’t like the cold.” Any kind of physical discomfort is intolerable. Often times she is quick to suggest things the guy can do to make her more comfortable like, “Would you go ask the bartender if I can have another drink, this time with more orange juice and less ice?”
Ask her why she’s so fussy and she’ll say, “This is what I like. Am I wrong to want the things I like?” She may not be wrong to want what she wants, but trying to please her is a full time job.
All this stuff is very scary to most men. Because a woman like this is unlikely to ever utter the most pleasing phrase a man can hear: “You know what? I’m good.” When you’re at a baseball game and it starts to rain and you forgot your rain gear and you turn to your date and say, “I’m so sorry,” and she says, “You know what? I’m good,” and smiles, a man’s heart does double back flips of joy. Seriously.
When the chips are down and things go wrong, a woman who just kicks back and says, “Who cares? I’m good!” is a beauty to behold.
When it’s all said and done, fear drives a large percentage of all our lives. The things we eat. The places we live. The jobs we take. These choices are made based on some mixture of fear of negative outcomes and desire for positive ones. Dating is no different. Knowing what men instinctively fear can be a great way to think about your own behavior and the effect it may have on your dating life. Of course, it takes two to tango and in a relationship if one person is super fussy; the other person is putting up with the super fussy behavior. Each bears some responsibility for the dynamics of their life together.