A Reddit thread has posed a fascinating question: “Men, what is something women have seen in romcoms that you wish they would stop expecting you to do in real life?”
Some of the answers were hilarious. One man said it was ridiculous for women to expect men to “hide secret talents that make us more attractive after we've known you for a while. If I could sing real good, our first date would be a karaoke bar, I wouldn't save that shit.”
But a lot them were illuminating, and actually quite sad.
Most men who replied were worried that wealthy male characters in romcoms (think Pretty Woman and Two Weeks Notice and The Proposal) create an expectation that a gentleman has to have money to be an eligible romantic prospect. “The ridiculously lavish lifestyles and impossible jobs these people have!” one fretted.
Another was worried about the bar being set high for lavish dates: “Let’s just get some food and watch a movie and walk around the park,” he said. “In the real world, we don't spend 4x what we earn and y'all are gonna have to accept that.” Another man said he wished women would stop “thinking that every night should be date night”, and told a story about an ex-girlfriend who wanted to be taken out on dates every night, and eventually split up with him because he couldn’t afford to do that.
But, to be honest, most of the comments were about the emotional impact that the strict romcom gender norms of “men chase and women are chased” has had on men, who wished women would do more of the courting.
One man told a story about an ex-girlfriend who wanted to be taken out on dates every night, and split up with him because he couldn’t afford it
The top comment on the thread is simply “Waiting 3 days for a text. That thing is old now.” It’s followed by a flurry of agreements. “I had a girl text me literally 5 minutes after a date once and it was the greatest feeling cause it just lets you know that they like you,” says one commenter. The old adage of “treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen” seems to be, in truth, “treat ‘em mean and make ‘em feel sad and insecure”.
Women shouldn’t wait for men to make the first move, they said. “Guys want to be asked for their number, too!” one man despaired. “We want to be told we look nice today.” Another boasted that his “current gf asked ME out, and I'm still girlishly giggling over how cute that is.”
Similarly, they wanted women to understand that men’s feelings about sex are just as complex as theirs. “Women don’t get to unilaterally decide things have progressed to the point of sex,” one said, telling the story of a woman who flew into a rage when a man said he didn’t feel ready to have sex with her yet.
But mostly, those who replied wanted to talk about the fact that much of the behaviour men exhibit towards women in romcoms is actually creepy and unappealing. “If you say ‘no’, then the answer is no and I'm going to stop trying. I'm not going to spend the next week trying to convince you otherwise. That would be called harassment,” said one.
“Most of us will not seductively stalk you,” another stated.
One said he even follows a romcom rule to make sure his behaviour stays on the right side of the creepy/romantic divide: “My rule to see if it's actually a nice story: replace Male lead with Danny DeVito. If it's still sweet, it's a winner.”