Dating is rough. Especially when there are still dudes out there who don't identify as "feminist," or who may have no specific problem with feminism but are constantly putting their foot in mouth in such a way as to perpetuate toxic patriarchal ideals. I am lucky enough to have met a guy who believes in gender equality, and enjoys the fact that I am both smart and ambitious. But before my current partner, I spent four long years dating men who felt threatened when I spoke loudly, were defiant when I was opinionated, and retreated when I succeeded. So yeah, even Millennial men, and even men into their forties, can still be weird about independent, talkative women.
There are certain red flags a feminist looks for in conversation with a new date. Of course, this isn't exclusive to just women — men, too, have red flags they should look out for on dates with women in regards to their views on gender equality. Dating is a two way street. And while I can't speak for all women who date men, the women I know aren't looking for machismo on a date. They're looking for someone who respects them. So there's my first tip: be respectful. Here are seven common mistakes guys can make when on a date with a feminist (that might be relationship killers):
1. Complaining Unreasonably About Their Ex
Ex conversation happens. It's fine. I'm not really interested in knowing someone's full sexual history, but knowing about an ex of note might reveal certain important things about someone's personality. So in the process of getting to know someone, ex talk will inevitably happen. It becomes problematic when a guy just starts calling his ex "crazy" and absolving himself of any responsibility for the issues in their relationship. It's also a red flag that a man might be likely to diminish a woman's emotions as "irrational," and a huge turn off for a feminist.
2. Flashing Their Money
J. Lo said it best: "If I wanna floss I got my own." A feminist doesn't necessarily care about your money, nor does she want to date someone who thinks they can use that to own her, or assert their power/status in the relationship. Be funny, kind and engaging —personality is more valuable than cash.
3. Slut Shaming
If a guy so much as uses the word "slut" around me I'm instantly on the back foot. While some feminists have started reclaiming the word "slut" for their own reasons, It's just never OK for a man to call a woman a slut. Nor is it OK for a man to police or judge a woman's sexual preferences, and while you might not agree with everything other people do, you can keep your mouth shut about those prejudices and live and let live. If you want to date a feminist, she's likely going to fiercely defend a woman's right to do as she pleases sexually, and she probably won't be happy about you being judgmental.
4. Body Shaming
It isn't his place to project his opinions about stretch marks, body hair, or anything else about the appearance of women onto his date. A feminist wants to date a man who values conversation and personality, and values the parts of herself that she loves, on the inside and out — and while there is no ignoring the factor that looks play in attraction, no one wants to be with someone who is cruel about women's bodies.
5. Brushing Off Important Conversations
Too many guys just brush off conversations when they don't like the topic. For instance, when the woman has received a promotion she's excited about. Or she has a differing or passionate political opinion. Or she had a tough day at work and needs to vent. Part of being a good conversationalist is listening, and engaging with people on topics that might not be immediately pressing to you, but that by talking about, you show you care about how the other person feels. A feminist doesn't want to be dismissed because her conversation is emasculating/threatening/too opinionated/emotional. She wants someone who is mature and capable enough to talk through a wide range of topics without taking it personally.
6. Using Condescending Pet Names
"Honey", "sweetie", and "baby" are not appreciated by a feminist early on in a relationship. Sure, if you've been dating for a while and pet names have been established together, that's a different story. But if you're on a first date and start using condescending pet names, you're probably going to put her off.
7. Mansplaining Things
One of the worst things a guy can do is mansplain, not in the least because men with good intentions do this too. Taking a women's issue — let's say for instance, reproductive rights — and repackaging it in man-lingo and then explaining it back to a woman? Is tacky. Assume your date is smart and savvy. If she asks for clarification on a topic, give it. If you agree with her, have a debate. But don't assume she doesn't understand things, and that you need to baby her through conversations. That's the fastest way to lose the attention of a feminist.