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Men underestimate women’s need to feel safe

Posted Dec 26 2010 3:11am

We’d talked on the phone a few times but hadn’t met. It was early evening when we talked again and he said he’d love to take me to dinner that night. But he had a favor to ask: his Jag was in the shop so would I drive to his area for dinner?

He lived 45 minutes away in a newly gentrified part of a not-so-great area. It was already dark. I didn’t relish driving to his area after sunset.

When I said that, he scoffed, trying to cajole me. I wouldn’t budge. “I’m not driving there alone after dark.” He said he lived in a safe part of town. “But,” I responded, “I have to drive through a not-so-safe part to get to your part.” He got exasperated.

This wasn’t the first time a man had disregarded my concern for my safety. I hadn’t been able to articulate this before I listened to a recording from a seminar about men and women. The seminar leader asked how many men had been cognizant of their personal safety in the last month. No men’s hands raised. She then asked the women. Every hand raised.

In dating, women need to be conscious about creating safe environments for themselves. This is why we are advised to always meet a man in a public place for the first few dates, and to always drive in your own car until you’ve vetted the man. I’ve ignored this advice a few times and while nothing happened, it could have. In retrospect, I saw how stupid I was and how lucky I was that nothing happened.

We don’t want to be paranoid, yet if you are a trusting person, you give men that trust before they have earned it. I don’t even like a man to pick me up at my house on the second date. I’ve found too many see that as an invitation to more than I’d wanted.

Since many men don’t understand that they need to make sure the woman feels safe, look for the signs of his insensitivity. If while planning a date he chides you for insisting you drive yourself to the rendezvous site, he’s not the kind of conscientious man you want. If he tries to persuade you that he will “be good” or “a gentleman” when you say you’re not comfortable going to his house for a second-date dinner, he’s trying to manipulate you.

Be clear on what you need to feel safe. Think about it ahead of time so you can express yourself confidently and firmly. If he tries to negotiate what you state you need to feel comfortable, he’ll try to press your boundaries until he gets his way.

You don’t want to be paranoid, but few women have been sorry they’ve erred on the side of caution. The women who are regretful are the ones who ignored their inner voice screaming “this doesn’t feel comfortable” then allowing the man to lead them where they didn’t want to go.

You always want to be equipped to get yourself out of a situation that becomes uncomfortable. The challenge is that you may feel comfortable with a man on the first few dates so agree to things you know could be risky. You probably don’t know the man very well as you start dating. So he could be perfectly nice in public on the first few dates. But behind closed doors he could show a side that makes you uncomfortable. This is why it’s important to keep your dates to public places for a while. If he has controlling tendencies, they will begin to leak out soon enough.

Have you experienced men who try to convince you that your cautiousness is unfounded? How did you respond? Have you found yourself in situations that you realize could have ended badly? Any experiences that started innocently but caused you to extricate yourself because you didn’t feel safe?

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