Dating as a woman: Balancing a desire for intimacy with the threat of violence

“Why don’t you date?”

My therapist’s comment took me aback. After a difficult relationship, why didn’t I put myself back out there? After all, meeting new people would be a healthy distraction, enrich my social life, and build up my confidence by reminding me how ridiculously charming and attractive I am.

Okay, maybe I don’t have a problem with confidence.

I have never been shy or reluctant to meet new people. But the idea of dating left me exhausted. More sexist men, more risk of sexual violence, more worrying that — Cat Person-style — a seemingly innocuous date would reveal a shock of coercion under his charm.

The Many Complications of Dating as a Woman

I’d experienced it all before — and I’m not alone. As the #MeToo movement has shown, dating can be a complicated, even traumatic experience for women. It’s not just the risk of severe forms of violence, though Margaret Atwood’s classic quote “Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them,” remains an omnipresent fear.

It’s also the fear of daily tensions, the sexist comments, the fear that our date won’t listen to our “no,” or will slut shame us if we say yes. Not to mention the double standards: The pressure to be likeable, to open up, and embrace intimacy on one hand; and the message that women should always be on the lookout for our own safety, on the other.

While the intimacy we gain from dating is an important force keeping us happy and healthy, constantly having to look out for our safety takes a real toll on our mental health. Faced with so many different kinds of pressure, what’s a girl to do?

We deserve to live in a world where all we have to worry about on a date is choosing a restaurant, not preventing sexual assault. Until we get there, here are some strategies to keep ourselves healthy while we navigate the sometimes-tricky terrain of intimacy.

Read the full article at Talkspace.

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