A Page from the Male Dating Playbook: The Napkin Metaphor
Originally published on SexReally.com on April 21, 2010.
Originally, I was writing an article about what men wear on first dates. The plan was to interview a bunch of guys to see if they purchased new clothes prior to a night out on the town. But I ended up getting much more information than I bargained for. I hit gold, my friends. What follows is a glimpse into the male mind when it comes to relationships. In fact, I would go as far as to say I got a sneak peek into the Male Dating Playbook. It started, like most good stories, with a guy and a girl at a bar, talking about sex.
The Napkin Metaphor
I met my new guy friend, Brian, out for a couple of beers to talk about sex, fashion, and dating. My big break into the Male Dating Playbook began with this question: “Do you know at the time you ask a girl out if it is someone you just want to sleep with or if it is someone you want to pursue a relationship with?”
Brian grabbed a paper napkin from the bar and unfolded it.
“Let’s say this unfolded napkin is everybody I would sleep with – if they wanted to sleep with me, of course,” he said.
“Okay,” I replied.
He folded the napkin in half. “Now, out of that group of women, this is the number that I would actually really consider dating.”
“Okay,” I replied again.
He folded the napkin in half once more. “Now here is the number of women who I would actually consider getting in a serious relationship with.”
Uhmmm…what? Before I get into it, let me clarify something: Brian is not a douche. He is actually someone that is highly datable – smart, funny, intelligent, cute. Your all-around normal, great guy. What makes him different, it would seem, is his complete candor when it comes to the male approach to relationships and dating. So, when he broke down the napkin idea, I simultaneously had the reaction of a) complete exasperation and b) knowledge that what he said rang true when it came to my own, and my girlfriends’, personal experiences.
If you didn’t quite catch what Brian said, let me break it down for you: According to him, when a woman goes out on a date with a guy, she has a 1 in 4 chance that he would consider a meaningful relationship with her.
Furthermore, when I asked Brian if he knew which category a girl was in prior to the date the answer was, “of course.” He went on to say that there are “borderline” cases – girls who teeter on one side of the napkin but might get placed within another section. However, those cases tend to be the exception instead of the rule.
What makes the last group of girls, that small section of the napkin, different from the rest? And how are we supposed to make sure, if we’re interested in the guy we’re dating, that we make it to that last quarter of the napkin? According to Brian, the women in that quarter are the ones that he would wait for. “When it’s someone who I want to pursue a relationship with I will wait if she isn’t ready to have sex. I will make an effort when it comes to dating.”
Blowing. My. Mind. Okay – let’s get this straight – this whole napkin thing isn’t to say that women are powerless when it comes to dating. Or to say that women shouldn’t purely pursue sex if that is what they desire. Or to say that all women want to have a serious relationship with every guy they go out with. It is more about the differences between men and women when it comes to dating – how women might see dating as a platform for possibility, while men know their intentions even before the girl answers the door on date night.
Of course all of this is generalization – not all men think this way about dating. But, the napkin metaphor sure as hell answers some questions. Namely, those that have arisen in conversations I’ve had with girlfriends over the years, such as, “Why didn’t he call? Where did he go? I thought our first date went well – why didn’t he want a second?”
The answer: You thought you were on one part of the napkin. He thought you were on another section of it entirely.
And, my lovely girlfriends, you deserve to be within that last segment of the napkin. You deserve to be wooed. To be fought for. To feel comfortable waiting to have sex until you are ready. You always have the power of choice. And if the guy you are on a date with isn’t showing you the respect that you deserve, know this secret from my playbook: the love that you are seeking is already within you. You just have to own it.
Kaarin Moore is the owner of Closet Caucus, a fashion consulting company located in Washington, DC. Her goal is to help clients express who they are through the medium of clothing. You can reach her at www.closetcaucus.com or on twitter (@closetcaucus).