A female complaint is that when it comes to testing the waters of romance, guys generally seem to be reticent in making first contact. The following essay should give you a taste of the reasons for this male shortcoming. A person’s ego only has so much resilience; beyond that point, it doesn’t spring back and we might start to experience problems with anger, anxiety or depression. And the male ego has recently been the subject of many sound thrashings.

Over the last hundred or so years there has been a move towards female equality with males in life and especially in the workplace. This has been another stage to achieve equal treatment for all people: others were over race, sexuality and religion. In seeking this balance, one means has been to belittle those with whom equal treatment is being sought; so, for example, in working for better treatment for women, some have denigrated all men as atavistic self-serving troglodytes who only want to preserve their privileged lifestyle. Such extreme portrayals may be heard only from a minority and there are undoubtedly people like this (as someone said, with a full stomach and a full wallet, who wants to change things?); does this justify the claim that men are an unnecessary part of a family and, with the advent of artificial insemination, they are nothing more than genetic refuse?

Parts of the community are set against each other for contemptible reasons: advertising for example. Even on a radio station run by Christians, there was an ad where the father was disrespected: “Nice one, Dad!” (said ironically), and “Get with the program, Dad!” Attention can be lavished on kids at the expense of adults, even of their parents: products or programs are targeted to children or teens, and their adults are seen as obstacles to be avoided or overcome, rather than as protectors, providers and advisors. The father especially is seen either as the primary obstruction or as an ineffectual; a nuisance to be avoided, ignored or at worst placated.

However we respond to an attack, abuse has an effect – psychologically, names do hurt us. If you expect to be attacked, what is the natural response? Avoid the attack. Take yourself out of the reach of the weapon. Wait for the girl to show definite interest.

Surely we can strive for equal treatment without having to humiliate those we’re trying to be equal to? The natural reaction to attack is defence: the doors are shut, the path is blocked, and we have to work with much more effort to reach our goal. But consider Martin Luther King Jr and Mohandas Gandhi: their opponents had great political and military power, and no doubt did include people who preferred using their fists than their minds. Nevertheless, they did not use their opponents’ weapons: they chose to resist oppression without using aggression. They and their followers suffered for it, but they eventually won their goal: they may have lost the battles but they won the war.

These are some of the problems of the husband and father – that gives single men something great to look forward to, doesn’t it? But even if the guy is seeking a partner, what problems does he have to surmount? The first is looks: they do matter, especially at first. (The book has already dealt with this issue.) Not only what the guy looks like, but how he dresses and grooms himself. Too often, we judge a person by this standard. To illustrate this point, watch an episode of the Australian TV show called Taken Out [1]. No longer will you wonder why guys don’t often make the first move. The ones who do are either good looking and/ or very confident. The better looking and well dressed the guy is, the more girls will stay in the game. So based on his appearance and one bit of information, a guy might have all thirty girls leave their lights on (acceptance), or maybe two-thirds will turn their lights off (rejection) – these two results actually happened.

So if you aren’t good looking why would you make the first move when the odds are 66 per cent that you’ll be rejected straightaway? Perhaps if you’re a masochist or abnormally resilient. Let’s say for example (instance in my case) you go dancing. You meet a girl, dance with her a couple of times, and then ask her if she’d like to meet up for coffee. You receive a response like this: she freezes for a second or two, staring at you; and then says: “It’s not romantic, is it?” or “It’s not a date, is it?” If this happens several times, the bounce rapidly leaves your ball.

If a guy doesn’t make the first move because he expects that the girl will probably reject him, do you think he would be more likely to approach her if she is with a group of friends? “The girls’ night out” is a popular way for female friends to spend time together. If a guy sees a girl he likes but she’s surrounded by other girls, he’s as likely to approach her as to go cow-tipping in a minefield.

This problem of looks is made worse with the second problem: expectations. On Taken Out, when a girl rejects the guy in the second round, she may explain that she didn’t want to judge the “book by its cover” (this platitude comes up, in those words, about once a show) so she gave him another chance. Her stated reason for rejecting him at that stage is, not infrequently, she didn’t feel a spark or a connection between herself and the guy. This excuse seems to be the most common one for turning the guy’s light off. (This is an excuse and not an acceptable reason: read the chapter “It’s the real thing”.)

Likewise, most girls expect the guy to make the first move. Following the Socratic model of education through interactive questioning, I ask: If we are striving for equal treatment of the sexes, why do girls want guys to make the first move? I suspect the answer is self-protection; the same reason guys actually don’t initiate contact. We’re all afraid to be rejected. Guys once may have been proactive, but decades of emasculation by a politically-correct society working for a noble enterprise – to enable women to be treated as equals – have produced males who are relationally flaccid: if a man believes that he is neither needed nor wanted in the family or at work, that is a heavy burden to bear. Who would want to add to this burden by deliberately courting further rejection from the same source?

[1] For those who haven’t seen Taken Out, it involves one guy facing thirty girls. There are four segments; for the first three, the girls are given snippets of information about the guy and they have to decide whether they want to know more about him. The fourth segment involves the guy asking a question of three of the remaining girls, and then decides who he wants to go out on a date with. If there are less than three, the procedure is the same. If there are more, he has to choose three.