A commenter at Donal’s asks: if there are so many desperate tradcon young women, why aren’t the tradcon young men courting them?
As a young man who could accurately be called a tradcon, I am going to tell a personal story from this winter which might illuminate.
I was on a Christian dating site, and sent a short message to a girl, she responded. After a few messages back and forth I invited her for coffee, she accepted and we met. Over the next month we went for coffee a few more times and I had her over for dinner and cooked her some Yakisoba. She was a sweet girl with good values, feminine, and joyful; somewhat plain, but attractive enough. I was the first man she had ever gone out with and she was taken with me and I was growing rather fond of her.
One night, I visited her church for the Christmas play service where she was playing Mary. After we went for coffee, chaperoned by one of her friends. We talked for an hour or two, at one point the topic of why she was on a dating site came up. She said it was because there were no men at her church. This confused me (well, it would have had I not been a reader of the manosphere), because I was sure I saw at least 3 or 4 unattached men at the Christmas service (not to mention she had previously told me stories of her interactions with one of her male friends at the church, from which, even never having met him, I could tell he liked her). So, I told her, ‘what do you mean, I saw a bunch of single men at your church.’ Her and her friend both had the same reaction: ‘yeah, but ewww.’
I did not press the point further, although I was happy I was no longer in the ‘ewww’ category as I had been years before.
My family celebrates on Christmas Eve, so we went to my parent’s house to meet my family, have Christmas dinner, go to our Christmas Eve service, and such. We had an enjoyable time, the atmosphere was relaxed and festive, my parents went out of the way to make her feel welcome, and they all took a great liking to her. Things went well.
The next day we went to her parent’s for Christmas. It was not to be their Christmas celebration for that was a major family get-together that was to take place at a different time, so it was just a basic supper. We drove out to their farm together. We walked in and I was sort of ignored (her parents, three of her brothers, and two of their wives were there; the girl was the only daughter with 5 brothers). I didn’t really know what to do, I had expected them to at least say greet me at the door, or say hi, or something. So, I said ‘hi’, put my gift on the table and sat down on a couch. I was then ignored for about 20 minutes. As regular readers may know, I’m not that good in social situations; Only twice before had I asked permission of a girl’s father and I’ve never been in a situation where I was in someone else’s home and been ignored, so I was out of my depth and experience and didn’t start a conversation with anyone but the girl. After a while, the father got to opening my gift, made a few jokes, then went back to ignoring me. One of the brothers did show me and the girl a cattle pen he had made, but other than that nothing. After another while, we all ate; nobody really talked to me and I didn’t really say much.
After supper, the parents seemed to notice my existence, and asked about me and the girl. I told them that we had gotten to know each other a bit, I was fond of her, and I would like their permission to court her. They then presented me with a list of dozens of questions (I’m not sure if this is the exact list, but if it isn’t it’s close enough for government work), saying me and the girl should go over them. I said we would. The parents then proceeded to grill me with questions straight off the page for the next hour or two.
I answered fully honestly. I am a mostly responsible, decent young man, but I am not perfect and have my failings. So most of the questions on employment, finances, home life, responsibility, church life, etc. I answered fine. Out of the many questions asked though , the parents got stuck on three major questions: alcohol, physical contact, and Bible reading.
I drink responsibly on occasion, but they were absolutely against any imbibement at all and they hammered on that point over and over, even though I said, if it was necessary I stop drinking while courting her I would (leaving it unsaid but implied that we would decide the alcohol question in the long-term as a couple; the girl herself didn’t drink but didn’t have problems with moderate alcohol consumption).
They asked about physical contact, I told them her and I had already discussed and agreed upon limits for physical contact previously (and they were strict limits) and although her desired limits were stricter than mine I would respect hers. Despite this they still did not like that my limits were not as strict as hers (for one example of the differences, I thought the engagement would be a good time for a first kiss, she wanted to wait until marriage); they then spoke approvingly of a young couple they knew that had worn boxes (actual, literal cardboard boxes) whenever they were alone together so they would not be tempted by physical contact.
The last was Bible reading. I answered that I don’t read daily; I tend to read sporadically but in-depth when there’s a topic I want to look into, but that I would take my duties as a leader of the family seriously and lead both my wife and children in regular Biblical study. That was not good enough for them, so I said I would start reading daily (and I did read daily for the next four months or so, even after the relationship ended).
A fourth area of concern was when they asked me what my greatest struggles in the faith were (this was after the Bible question): I said, ‘well, I guess I should read my Bible more and like most young men I struggle with lust.’ They then asked me about pornography, so I admitted in front of a dozen strangers that I do struggle with watching porn, but hadn’t watched in the last few weeks and was trying to stop (I stopped watching after our second date and continued to abstain for a few months after all this). Oddly, this didn’t seem to be that big deal to the parents, it was barely mentioned after that except for a joke (the alcohol question was far and away the big one, followed by the Bible one), but I mention it as this was the one that seemed to matter most to the girl.
After the grilling, the parents conclude that while they have concerns but aren’t going to kick me away. They get my e-mail and say they’ll keep in contact with me.
After we’re done, I drove home with the girl (and her friend who chaperoned us there and back on the 2-hour drive); we spend the first half hour in silence, then we talk, she was disturbed by the porn thing, so we talked about that, and she concludes she wants time for us both to think and pray, so she wanted a break for two weeks (when we were never even officially dating). So we had no contact for two weeks.
The parents e-mail me a couple days later and we go back and forth a bit as we discuss my readings of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs; things seem fine. A week or so later, I get a 2-page, heartfelt handwritten letter where she says we can no longer court (from the letter it sounds like its her idea), so I assume we’re done. I don’t respond as I agreed to no contact for two weeks andI didn’t have time to write a letter back. Then on the exact day the two weeks are over she texts me. We meet for coffee and talk. She offers to be friends; I say no, it’s either a relationship or we part ways. She thinks, and decides on a relationship; we then spend a happy evening walking outside in the January chill. We’re back together; we make plans to meet on Sunday.
On Friday I get an e-mail from her parents saying we can’t see each other anymore. I get a text from her a little while later; we text a bit over it. She says she’s going to obey her parents, and I encourage her to do so. We say goodbye. I respond to the parents asking if there’s any way I can earn their trust; I do not get a response. Me and the girl have not contacted each other since.
Maybe this is where the tradcon young men are: stuck between ‘ewww’ and and the impossibly high standards of parents. How many young men could possible be able to give the positive, hoped-for answers when surprised with a grilling on five dozen questions? (Oddly, had I simply lied or stretched the truth, we’d probably be courting).
Of those very few who could possibly meet those requirements, how many will not be ‘ewww’?
I would guess there is probably a huge positive correlation between being able to meet those dozens of parental standards and being an ‘ewww’ guy.
If parents and young women make it impossible for young men to live up to your courtship standards, how can they possibly complain about being unable to find young men.
This brings us to the next part, Moose Norsemen finds someone (Thomas) arguing why courtship is fundamentally flawed. I agree with Moose and I agree with courtship, but Thomas does make some good points.
The courtship movement eliminated dating and replaced it with nothing.
Or, put another way, they replaced dating with engagement. The only tangible difference between an engagement and a courtship is the ring and the date.
The goal of courtship is not to prevent marriage, it is to promote marriage by helping find suitable mates for men and women. Right now, it seems from what I’ve read around the web, that it is often used to destroy relationships rather than to create marriages.
A father should find a good man for his daughter, but how can he expect to when the first thing that happens when a young man comes a-calling is to grill him about every aspect of his life and boot him away if he doesn’t answer all 50 questions correctly?
How can a young man possibly think the risk and unpleasantness of that kind of grilling and the huge expectations of courtship is worth it for a girl he barely knows?
If I hadn’t gone on a number of dates and already developed a fondness for her in the month before meeting her parents, I would not have thought it worth it to go through that. What kind of men would willingly deal with that kind of ritual humilation before even spending any alone time with a girl? (The answer: The kind of man women go ‘ewww’ over).
You rarely hear of fathers trying to find and introduce good young men to their daughters; from the impressions I get, fathers seem to act primarily as a negative filter in courtship rather than a positive one.
There is no perfect young man, so if any flawed young man is rejected, who could there possibly be available to date young tradcon women?
So, if we want a better courtship, one that isn’t broken, what we need is one devoted to creating marriages, not siphoning out young men.
Parents should act as a positive force for marriage. Instead of simply screening out young men, they should be actively looking and screening in young men for their daughters. Introduce young men you approve of to your daughters (and vice versa). Meet with other families in shared family events to get young people together.
Courtship should be more relaxed. Courtship is not engagement and it should not be treated as such. It should, at first, be somewhat casual (with the long-term goal in mind) so the young couple can get to know each other. Young people in group activities, young men attending relaxed family events with the girl’s family, a few outings to public places, etc. Let them get to know each other before dumping all kinds of expectations on it. Expectations and seriousness should escalate over time.
Questions like those above should be gone over, but over time. Instead of playing bad cop on the first meeting, get to know him and learn these things over time by spending time with the young man.
It should be recognized that young men aren’t perfect. Instead of a father rejecting a generally good, but flawed young man his daughter fancies, he should work with the young man to help him better himself. (If the young man refuses to try to better himself, that is another story).
Courtship is not about keeping young men away from young women, it is about actively trying to create godly marriages.
In my particular case, it’s possible that the problem is me, as a commenter at Moose’s stated:
If it were me getting shot down by a bunch of dads as viable husband material for their daughters, I’d be asking WHY. I wouldn’t assume it was a problem with them first: I’d assume it was a problem with me.
I know I could be a better man in many ways, but I’ve only ever been shot down by that one father before, and most of the older adult males in my church and life seem to respect me and think well of me, enough so that I at their behest I have led the young adult small group in the past and, again at their request, am entering a leadership residency in my church. But I thought I should mention this as it might seem an explanation.
Because I’m sharing, here’s one more small story from university when I was just starting to work my way out of omega. I was part of a small group at my university Christian group. In this particular study there was me and one other guy and three young women. These young women were all in the 7-9 range. One I had asked out a year-and-half before and been rejected (she was the first girl I ever asked out), another I had asked out a few months before and been rejected, and the third had just broken up with her boyfriend a couple months before and we had been getting close to each other (we ended up dating later that year).
The topic of the sermon we were watching was dating, so we were talking about this. At one point, one of the young women said dating was hard because there were no good men. The other two agreed with her. I was shocked, so didn’t respond but I should have. I had personally asked out two of them and was very obvious in my intentions to the third.
All of these girls were very attractive, good girls and could have had any man they wanted. The one I knew the best had many male friends, I knew at least 3 or 4 guys (who were good men, if a bit socially awkward) who had either asked her out or were so obvious about liking her even someone as socially oblivious as I could tell. One had just gotten out of a year-long relationship, her third relationship in 3 or so years. The final one was one of the most beautiful women I had ever met and would occasionally tell stories of guys who had gone out of the way to compliment her.
I was an ‘ewww’ man at the time (but improving), so I didn’t count. I guess those other men didn’t count either.
These two stories are why I don’t believe women when they say they can’t find a good man or there are not good men. I have seen women who could have almost any man they want, who had numerous suitors (who were good men), , who had good male friends who obviously wanted them, who had been asked out by me specifically say there were no good men, when it was simply untrue. Unless a woman lives in a village of 50 people in the middle of nowhere, there probably are good men, the women’s probably just not counting them.
Oh, and just as a last little bit, two of those three women are married. The most attractive one is not; she’s 29 this year and, as far as I know, is still single.
So, for tradcon young women and their families, maybe it’s not that there are not good men, maybe it’s that men are stuck between ‘ewww’ and impossible standards.
Instead of young women and their families holding out for a suitor who is both super-attractive and able to meet a parent-approved 50-point bullet list, and rejecting any suitor who is not perfect, maybe give them a chance.
Parents, instead of rejecting that young man your daughter fancies, work with him* to help him improve himself. If she doesn’t have a suitor, work to help introduce her to good men. Be a positive force for marriage rather than a negative force.
Young women, instead of rejecting or ignoring those men you don’t see, make yourself available and say yes when you are asked out even if he is kind of awkward.* The worst that can happen is a few hours of unpleasantness and maybe you’ll be able to work with him to improve those awkward things that aren’t quite attractive.
* Obviously, I am not talking about unrepentant degenerates, those unwilling to try and better themselves, and the like here, just the normally flawed.