‘The men I meet approach me by undressing me with their eyes, through sexual connotations or as if they have never seen a woman before’ (Picture: Neil Webb/Metro)
Welcome back to The Sex Column, our weekly series that sees experts advise daters struggling in the world of love and romance.
This week we’re helping out a woman who feels that the men she meets are just interested in her for sex.
She feels that she doesn’t invite this kind of attention because she doesn’t dress provocatively.
She was also brought up by her mother to avoid men who only want to ‘use’ women.
How should she proceed?
‘I’ve just turned 40 and have been single for a while.
‘The men I meet approach me by undressing me with their eyes, through sexual connotations or as if they have never seen a woman before.
‘Last year I met a guy through a dating app but he just invited me to his house. I don’t dress provocatively — quite the opposite.
‘I’m romantic, independent, neat and well-dressed.
‘I feel they only see me for sex so I must have an unconscious pattern because the same thing repeats.
Another thing — I grew up listening to my mother telling me to not let myself be groped by men who only use women, then discard and dishonour them.
‘What is wrong with me?
What the experts say…
First things first, there’s nothing wrong with you.
‘It’s very unpleasant to have people hitting on you all the time,’ says Rupert Smith.
‘While it’s true that there are many out there who are primarily interested in hooking up without any serious emotional involvement, it does seem that you’re sensitive to the fact that anyone might be attracted to you on that level.’
During your childhood, while you were forming beliefs about yourself and the world, your mother warned you of the predatory potential of men.
‘It seems that as a result of this, you have prided yourself on being decent, perhaps demure and not dressing provocatively,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin.
‘But the cycle we try to get out of is, unfortunately, the very cycle we find ourselves in. People see in us what we see in ourselves.’
We all have a bias toward focusing on information that confirms our own beliefs.
‘There’s lots of evidence that we find what we expect to find in people,’ says James McConnachie.
‘Happy people see smiles all around them. Depressed people see hostility, sadness and lack of connection. You’re seeing men through your mother’s suspicious eyes.’
Sexual desire is a natural part of human relationships.
‘But you associate it with being cheap and dishonourable,’ says Smith. ‘It seems that you are locked into a pattern that keeps you away from relationships, then you’re avoiding them when they do come along.’
We suggest you focus on unpicking your underlying attitude to sex and relationships while focusing on what men can give you, rather than what you fear they want to take away.
‘Spend time with men you work with or know as friends so that you can learn how to be with men in a non-sexualised way,’ says Rudkin.
‘Or introduce yourself to new men through interests and notice when they have been polite, pleasant, friendly and helpful.’
As you re-script your ideas about men, you will start to notice the ones who will respect and care for you.
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychology
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