The Chase. The Pursuit. Whatever you call it--it has been on the minds of men, women and psychologists for ages as a key ingredient in pre-relationship attraction. I wrote a post a while back about the biological and psychological theories of attraction. Since then many more have attempted to explain what triggers attraction and more importantly (and somewhat absurdly)--how to manufacture attraction. Regardless of your choice of theory, they all point to the chase (the pursuit, the hunt!) as a necessary element in early stages of interest.
Women often think the chase is a game we must play. To some degree, while we may enjoy the attention, we also think the chase is unnecessary. A good guy, the right guy, we say to ourselves, will be someone we recognize. He won't need to chase after us. There will be an immediate attraction and- voila! Two kids and a dog later, we live happily ever after.
After talking to a few of my guy (and girl) friends it is clear that despite what men might tell us and what we might think, men really want to--nay, need to--pursue a woman. They need to feel they have worked hard to get what they have. That they are deserving. And that they did something someone else wasn't able to. They need to see themselves as heroes who conquer allusive targets, break down concrete walls, cross oceans and walk through fire--never getting hurt, looking just as good (if not better) as before they embark on their quest.
To the average man, this pursuit, in basic terms, seems to be centered around getting under a woman's skirt. Once there, most men consider their pursuit a mission accomplished. And so, much of the courting, dating, and how-to-get-your-man 'literature' for women has centered around not letting a man in, not being available, not showing who you are until much later in the game. 'Once he has had you, you're damaged goods,' suggest the gossip magazines (and my dad, for that matter).
It's not that I'm in a hurry to sleep with a guy but seriously--do people really think that that's where the pursuit ends?
Think about it. After a certain age, getting to the sex part is easy. We're all adults. We've done it before. It can be fun. We'll do it again. Sex, my dear Dateologers, isn't the end of the pursuit...it's just the beginning. I'm here to tell you that it's not getting to sex, but what comes after the sex part that's the real thing. That is the thing that takes real skill. Forget gameboy, Xbox, Wii--they're for children. Getting past the sex is a whole new level. It requires concentration on all fronts and ability to deal with surprises at every corner. No hints or guidebook included.
See, up until the sex part, both men and women are focused on the feelings that each bubbles in the other. Men think about sex, and women--well, they do too...but they also think about what their friends will say, how their parents will react, how you compare to the ex-boyfriend, etc. You see- once a women slept with you, almost instantaneously, she starts to think of you in terms of potential. As you're calming your breath on the other side of the bed from all those maneuvers we pulled on you, we're thinking to ourselves "is this the sex I want to have for the rest of my life?" We pay attention to details that until that point we (blissfully for you) haven't: "is he getting me a glass of water or one just for himself?" "Is that so thoughtful the way he just handed me a tissue or what." It's true. All true.
Just like you guys couldn't stop imagining us naked, we can't stop looking at you as a life partner. See, as long as you hold off, we'll cut you huge slack. Yes- we're still assessing and judging and pondering your husband-material viability but, once in bed--once you got what you thought you wanted--the gloves come of and it's our turn. And as most of you know, once you get us thinking and asking questions, your hero status can quickly disappear and voila--there you are in flesh and blood. A man. A mere mortal. Sex, in a way, is the button that starts the very same chain reaction most men try to avoid. If you only knew it.
But you do have a saving grace. Most women, you see, don't remember how much power they actually have. They think that once they have sex with you they will have relinquished all control. That you'll think less of them. That once you get what you want you'll be out. And sometimes you both believe this story and then you are gone. And we get insecure and sometimes bitter and we call our girlfriends and eat ice cream in front of the TV. Or something like that.
The chase, and the conclusion thereof (read: sex), is an essential attraction builder it seems. And while both men and women claim the other has the power, one thing is clear: just as you guys think the hunt is over and you've got us under your paw, we already start to think about the next thing: you as a person in a relationship with us. And although the hunt may be instantly done after sex, the real conversation, you see, has just begun.