Last night, over a few drinks, my friend Caroline admitted to me that while on dates with guys, she purposely makes herself a little less capable than she actually is. She will make it out that she has a hard time opening a bottle of soda and seek help from her date. He’s usually quite proud of himself for having the strength to open something that she is too weak to open herself. She’ll pretend that she needs directions to get to the restaurant, when she knows this city like the back of her hand. He happily obliges her with his thorough knowledge of the streets of the city, even giving her suggestions on where she can park. And she’ll play down her job like she’s not the high-flying professional that I know she is. All in the aim of creating a non-threatening and “feminine” perception of herself to the guy that she’s dating.
I consider Caroline’s admission and it makes me think; I wonder if this is what accomplished, capable, professional women need to do in order to attract a guy these days. Are guys that insecure and threatened by today’s woman that they need this kind of placation? Has sexual equality progressed to such a level that men no longer feel like they are the stronger, more capable sex, and in order for a man to feel masculine, women must resort to these tactics? Or is this just all part and parcel of the courtship process where neither male nor female are truly themselves and we are all just playing roles until we feel more comfortable revealing our true natures?
My problem with this kind of deception is that once you start, where do you stop? Sure, it’s bottle caps and street directions now, but then you’re asking them to explain global warming (even though you’re a card carrying member of Greenpeace) and to put together an Ikea bookshelf (even though you have your own hand drill). OK, you say, these things are pretty harmless too. (I must admit, I’m struggling to come up with the types of things you could be deceptive about because it’s just not my nature!)
It does remind of this scene from the movie, Failure to Launch, where Sarah Jessica Parker’s character concocts an emotional crisis to get closer to her man:
Hopefully most women don’t feel the need to go these lengths!
However, it seems to be common enough that it has acquired a name: Silly Me Syndrome (SMS). Due to the apparent lack of quality men out there, smart women are dumbing themselves down in order to increase their chances of finding a quality guy. And then there are those women that aren’t proactively dropping a few IQ points with their date, but instead, are refraining from discussing anything that would make them appear too intelligent or worldly. Have I done that? Probably.
But I’d like to think that the right guy for me is someone that not only, wouldn’t be threatened by my intelligence, but would actually be attracted to that. Am I deluding myself?