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Hello, Awkwardeers, I’m guest-blogging at Feministe this week and next.  I’ll still post questions here as time allows, but today’s question, How do I define feminism for myself and my future kids?, is over there.

My inbox is bursting with questions right now, and some of them are really, really, really long and include all possible backstory and analysis. Some backstory and analysis is helpful to me and to readers, because, well, honestly, it usually means you’re answering your own question somewhere in the text.  But, as I don’t have time to spend editing questions for length,  I’d like to put a request out there to keep it around 500 words, max.*  Or, if you want, you can send a really long but oh-so-interesting question, and I might email you back and ask you to cut it down yourself. After all, I’m a wordy motherfucker, and I don’t judge!  Fair enough?

*FYI, this post is about 150 words, if you’re looking for a way to eyeball it.

Dear Captain Awkward, 

I met a guy. At a club. I know, I know- not usually the place to meet men you want to bring home to mother. But I approached him, we talked for a long time, and we later met up again a few days later. There was a strong attraction, and we made plans to have sex before he left, because he is in the Navy and his boat was scheduled for a month out at sea. I figured it would be a toot-it-and-boot it type of situation, but we had a lot of fun when we were hooking up and realized we might want to keep in touch. So we did. We emailed, we texted, then we started calling each other and talking through the night. We started to like each other, and said so. During one of our conversations, the topic of our sexual pasts came up. He talked around the subject, saying he hadn’t been with “too many girls.” We talked about something else. A few days later, I brought up the topic, saying, exactly how many sexual partners have you had before me? Again, he waffled. At this point, I felt uncomfortable and asked if I was his first. He said no, and finally said, okay- “there were two.” But his tone still seemed…off…to me. Like he didn’t want to delve too deeply into the topic. Again, I couldn’t put my finger on it; after all, I thought, well his words and presence have seemed honest and kind thus far. 

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Hey there Captain Awkward!  I found your blog a couple months ago and have been reading it religiously ever since!  Thanks for all the great advice!

I’m a fellow feminist blogger, writing on my blog mendaredo.com, and I have a question for you on dating that I was pondering a bit on my blog.  I’m a self-identified cis, straight, feminist dude, and to quote from my post:

But perhaps a “problem” as it were specific to dating is that simply stated: people who self-identify as feminists are a minority, so if you’re going to be out there dating and you’re a self-identified feminist, chances are you might be dating a non-feminist (or even an anti-feminist!).  How do you do that?  Should you bring it out on the first date?  Second?  Not at all and just let it come organically?

[…]

As a feminist man, when I find I’m with someone (either just socially or on a date) and a discussion of feminism comes up with a non-feminist, I frequently get something like, “You’re a lot more feminist than I am!”  It’s a peculiar position to be in, and not one that any of my prior feminist experiences really prepared me for.  After all, when you’re a feminist talking in a safe space with other feminists, you usually aren’t confronted with a lot of people being “more feminist” than others in the same way.  Of course, you have debates within feminist communities with more radical feminists on one side and less so on the others — there is a spectrum, but everyone in the room is still feminist.  My admittedly limited prior feminist outreach and activities was often in sexual assault prevention type stuff, and well, that’s obviously not dating.

So, I guess my question is this: what advice would you give a feminist dude who’s trying to date?  I don’t particularly want to be in a relationship with someone wants to adhere to traditional gender roles, but that be a tricky thing to suss out on a first date.  I also recognize it can also be pretty limiting to say, “I won’t date anyone who doesn’t share so-and-so beliefs.”  Thoughts?
-Jeff

Dear Jeff:
My rules of dating are the same for all people.  Let’s review:
  1. The other person is just a human
  2. Ask the person out sooner rather than later, before you get too caught up in a fantasy or invested in the outcome.
  3. Nobody owes you time or affection, so don’t approach dating with a sense of entitlement.
  4. Be cool with rejection.
  5. You can’t control whether someone will like you.
  6. Listen to the other person – pay attention to the actual interaction that is taking place and not the one in your head.
  7. Don’t date anyone who isn’t as cool as your friends.
  8. Acknowledge the awkward. Don’t try to be smooth if you’re not smooth.  It’s okay to say “I feel shy about asking you out, but I like you.”

These apply to the very early stages of dating where you’re just getting to know someone.  Obviously in those early stages you’re also probably finding out how the other person feels about books, music, movies, food, family, work,  alone-time vs. together-time, sex, and politics. Read More