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Mud About You

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Mud About You

I'm a recently divorced woman. With COVID restrictions easing up, I'd like to go out to bars again. I'm rusty on flirting etiquette. Should I have a "pickup line" or wait for a man to make the first move and then hint I'm interested?

—Unsure

Men do not speak hint. Hinting to a man is like trying to discuss a complex issue with your cat. It will give you a look like it's considering your points — while meowing something that means, "Shut up and die so I can eat your face."

In the wake of #MeToo, waiting for a man to approach you in a bar is likewise less than productive. Young guys tell me they feel "safer" using dating apps because a woman's "likes" and replies make it clear she's interested. (A few men joke — half-kiddingly — about having a notary under the bed during sex so they'll have signed documents of consent: "Your Honor, see page four: 'Agreement to go to second base.'")

Not surprisingly, evolutionary psychologist T. Joel Wade and his colleagues find that men prefer women's "direct" pickup lines — unambiguous requests for a phone number, a date, or sex. Direct lines "clearly convey interest" in a way "innocuous" icebreaker lines — like "What the hell is a macaroni 'n' cheese martini?" — do not. "Flippant" lines — cheeky, creative openers like "Are you an assassin?" — likewise leave men guessing (and often annoyed).

Though men will say they love when women ask them out, it's a risky strategy unless you're looking for a quick fling. Men evolved to be the chasers of the species and to expect to prove themselves to women with "high mate value" — which is why they cross deserts, fight duels, and build empires instead of napping. Effectively falling out of the sky into a man's lap can suggest you're desperate or broken.

Instead, make it totally (and repeatedly) clear to a man that you're interested — with brief touch, extended eye contact, and almost sickening flattery — basically clubbing him over the head 26 times with "YO, DOCTOR DENSE, ASK ME OUT ALREADY." Unless a guy's willing to risk asking you out, you won't know he's really interested. In contrast with female choosiness, men are "opportunistic maters," the researchers tactfully observe. Translation: Carpe dickum. Consider that there's no pickup artist movement for women because the only seduction skill a woman needs is the question: "Wanna go back to my place and be strangers with benefits?" Pug Trafficking

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  • Unsplash

I'm a single guy in my 20s using dating apps. It's been hit-and-miss (mostly miss). My sister showed me her account so I could see how other guys present themselves. I was confused by all the guys posing with cute animals. Isn't it kinda cringe to see a guy cradling a dog in a Halloween costume?

—Dr. Don't-little

It isn't just the men of OkCupid posing with adorbs animals. Back in 2014, kittens as photo props were a thing for the mass-murdering jihadists of ISIS — like suicide bomber and furbaby daddy Abu Hurayra al-Amriki: "Before I blow up a cafe of innocent people, I like to have a cuddle with my widdle bitty kitty, Butterscotch."

The men of OkJihad sneered at a CNN reporter's speculation that this was a recruitment ploy to lure lady militants (she-hadists?), but it seems to be more than a random marketing strategy.

Evolutionary psychologist Maryanne Fisher and her colleagues found that men on dating apps seeking committed relationships — aspiring Mr. Boyfriends and Mr. Husbands — were more likely than the aspiring Captain Hookups to post pics of themselves with kids and dogs.

Chances are the doggie and baby nuzzlers did this subconsciously — probably out of an understanding (shaped by men's co-evolution with women) of women's long-term mate preferences. By showing a willingness and ability to invest resources and care for a needy little creature, they're advertising themselves as "stay and pay" dads in a man mall of "hump 'em and dump 'em" cads.

Interestingly, cats appeared "infrequently" in men's profile pics. The researchers speculate that catdaddy "might not be as strong a signal of male investment," as cats require far less care, attention, and expense than dogs. (They even do their own grooming!) And bad news for our mass-murdering cat fancier friends: Cats are "often equated with femininity," and men who pose with them are seen by women as "less masculine, more neurotic and less desirable." (Take that, you ISISSIES!)

Now, before anybody shouts, "Hello, gullible!": Yes, some of these "dogs and babies are my pickup posse" dudes could be lying about wanting a relationship. For your purposes, that doesn't matter. Posing with a dog or a kid sends the commitment-minded ladies just the right message: "I can care for a more advanced life form than a fake plant."

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