When I am not writing columns I spend my time in an office which works with and for young people. Last year we tried a new event for young adults which we called Dating & Degustation. The evening consists of a five-course meal in an upmarket hotel. At the start of each course the male participants change tables according to a preset list, so that each person has the opportunity to have a mini-date with five different people. While there are many events at which young adults can meet and mingle, we wanted an event that was explicitly pointed towards the goal of good relationships.
Of course we had no idea how this scheme would be received and whether or not we would even achieve the minimum number of forty people to actually book out the hotel restaurant. The risk with dating events is that a person who might interiorly be interested has to rather explicitly admit to themselves (and others) that they are interested in (a) meeting someone with whom they could enter into a relationship and (b) one day marrying such a person and in the 21st century we knew that would be a rather large call. None the less we created the event, started advertising, and, to be sure, the registrations began to come in. Within a short space of time the twenty female tickets were gone and we began a waiting list of ten, twenty, thirty extra women. However, the twenty male tickets were barely moving.
Naturally, an event like this could only be held with equal numbers of men and women so we began adjusting the advertising to target men specifically. At one point it felt like we had to beg men to register. Happily we ended up securing enough men, resulting in a total of sixty participants at the dinner (the maximum the restaurant could hold). The night went really well, conversations flowed freely and the feedback was very positive.
In fact the event went so well that we have now hosted it on three separate occasions, and each time we have had the same experience: the female tickets sell out with little energy and there is a significant waiting list, while the male tickets sell last with much greater effort and a small waiting list, if any.
So I am left to wonder where are all the men? In my mind the whole situation is highly ironic because men are naturally (supposed to be) the initiators of relationships; they are the ones who most often ask a woman on a date, and they are most often the ones who drop to the knee to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage. Study after study shows that women do not want to be the ones to ask their man to marry them. And nor should they.
This order of behavior is not merely a social construct; there is something within the man which summons him to action. Yet every time this event is on we almost have to send out special invitations to men. This is just another indicator of the depressing low which dating has reached in Western society. In fact it would be fair to say that traditional dating has effectively been killed off and replaced with a free and easy approach to relationships where everything is on the table except any talk of possible commitment. That may suit men (for the time being) but it sure doesn’t suit women.
Thankfully, we see that women’s hearts are still in the right place. They desire opportunities to meet men, to be taken on the classical date, and are willing to take a risk in the search for love. Perhaps it is because men have, seemingly, forsaken their role as initiators (many of them to sit at home with their mates and their PlayStations) that women have felt the need to be more daring and active in the dating scene.
Perhaps an event such as ours provides an opportunity for women to be a little proactive. However, even with the opportunity laid out for them, too many men are impotent (pardon the pun). Any single men reading this need to realise that there are many wonderful women out there who are anxious to just encounter a man who would be brave enough to also take a risk in search of “the right one”.
Bernard Toutounji writes at www.foolishwisdom.com where this article was first published.