Male IOIs.

2 Nov

Happy Election Day, Americans.  (At least I hope it ends happily for me, which, living where I live, is an iffy proposition. We few, we happy few…. But I soldier on, pen in hand, mighty as the sword, or at least a plastic butter knife…)

I have some thoughts percolating about “fat bigotry” in light of the recent Marie Claire ~scandal~, but until I get them organized, I thought a post about male IOIs might be a good pasttime.  I suppose this will end up being a discussion appealing mainly to the ladies here, since persons of one sex find their sex’s IOIs extremely obvious.  For example, I can always tell when a woman is trying to attract a man’s attention, but quite often the man may as well be wearing a bag over his head.  (Then the man goes home and complains that no women like him.)

These are the IOIs I usually recognize from men:

  • Staring
  • Prolonged eye contact
  • Attempts to isolate
  • Attempts to monopolize time/attention
  • Standing too close
  • Overly earnest compliments about my appearance
  • Overly earnest questions about myself
  • Upper arm touching
  • Seeking me out

Feel free to add/subtract/correct me if I’m wrong.  I think a lot of confusion arises for a woman when she feels she is receiving IOIs but they don’t translate into dates.  Then she is stuck with the dilemma of whether the man is just being friendly* – does he treat all women this way? – or whether there is something wrong with her that he won’t make a move.  For a woman, context is key, so if she doesn’t feel she is getting a clear read on the situation, she will spend too much a lot of time, usually with girlfriends, analyzing each situation for clues to the man’s mental state.  This is why He’s Just Not That Into You was such a watershed moment for a lot of women.  It gave women the freedom not to waste time and emotional energy analyzing men’s motives.  It’s a great relief to have a more or less bright line test for men’s interest:  if he asks for a date, he’s interested; if he doesn’t ask, he’s not interested (or at least not sufficiently interested).  Not that asking for a date means that he thinks he is developing feelings – he could just be trying to get sex – but it’s a much more concrete move, at least.

* How to know a man is not attracted to you at all and considers you well beneath his standards of attractiveness for even association:  he will act like you do not exist.  This means never making eye contact, never saying hello, never making small talk.  This is why reasonably attractive men who are also genuinely kind and friendly have so many women nursing crushes on them.  Even the smallest amount of attention is manna from heaven.

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30 Responses to “Male IOIs.”

  1. Joseph Dantes November 2, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    When I was but a young pup, filled with confusion, there were a couple of women I very much liked. But my head was full of anti-dating rhetoric, my social practice minimal, my self knowledge tenuous.

    In sum, my feelings were obvious but I lacked knowledge on the ways to proceed, and took many signs to heart as setbacks that probably weren’t. Pride, fear and social pressure also checked my advance.

    Plus, being in love fills everything with dreadful significance, and I’d read lots of Shakespeare.

    In sum, ladies, if you recognize the IOIs, and you like the guy, you’d be well served to bridge the gap, because he may be locked in a private hell, with yours the only key.

    Determined to rid myself of this humiliating and paralyzing curse, I eventually found other women, with whom I was not in the highest form of love, where the courtship proceeded smoothly. Now neither hell nor key exist for me any longer.

  2. Joseph Dantes November 2, 2010 at 11:22 am #

    I have it: I felt I had to earn her in my own eyes, an impossible task. And thus advanced and fell back under my own lash.

    Had she released me prematurely from this torment by declaring her affection, I would’ve been as grateful and loyal as a half-drowned puppy ever thereafter.

    But woman is as she is. The way past her battlements is not a chivalrous procession through the main gate, but by mines rising up through sewers and crypts.

  3. Joseph Dantes November 2, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Had I known then what I know now, I would have sacked her soul’s fortress with barbarian zeal, to own the pure spirit within.

  4. Rivelino November 2, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    “This is why He’s Just Not That Into You was such a watershed moment for a lot of women. It gave women the freedom not to waste time and emotional energy analyzing men’s motives. It’s a great relief to have a more or less bright line test for men’s interest: if he asks for a date, he’s interested; if he doesn’t ask, he’s not interested (or at least not sufficiently interested).”

    Well said. And that is why The Rules was an even greater watershead moment.

    People will treat you the way you let them treat you.

  5. Josh November 2, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    The list you have is pretty spot-on as a general-purpose guide. But I don’t think what most women want is just a lot of IOI, I think they want the IOI to eventually lead to some kind of exclusive relationship.

    In this, not all IOI’s are equal. It’s pretty easy to get staring or prolonged eye-contact. Just dress in a revealing way, turn the eyeshadow to 11, and you’ll get plenty of IOI. This is basically an involuntary reaction, and this kind of IOI may not convert to what you want.

    Also, many shy men deliberately avoid conversation or eye contact with stunningly beautiful women. They might build up their courage first by talking to her friend. They may even deliberately avoid isolation, knowing that they will clam up and become awkward. Even players will “warm-up” by working a room or a circle of people, approaching their true target later on. Many women will be given false IOIs.

    As a man, I generally know when a buddy is into a girl because he starts to act “out-of-the-ordinary”. His behavior cannot be explained except through sexual attraction. This might be a “takes one to know one” situation, but if you know what the normal behavior of this man is – how eager or reticent he is to talk, the speed of his movements or speech, his usual level of charity and helpfulness, and you see something different, that can’t be explained, than that is an IOI.

    This is probably not very helpful for women, so let me give a piece of concrete advice. Men love the touch of women they are attracted to, and they hate the touch of those they dislike. So just find a reason to touch him and see what happens. Place a hand on his arm, give a playful punch, a pat on the back, see what happens. If he reacts positively (smiling, laughing, moving closer), that’s an IOI.

    As Haley commented once, she chronically underestimates the sexual drive of men, and that is a good thing to keep in mind. The smooth softness of female skin and the faint floral scent of shampoo/body-wash/perfume is something all men want, probably more than you know. If he’s interested in you, he’ll want to touch you, for you to touch him, and just be close enough to smell you. It’s an animal drive, like dogs in heat, circling and sniffing.

  6. Josh November 2, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Addendum:

    I should add that if he’s just too shy, he may be scared to death to touch you, as if he’ll be electrically shocked. Sorry, can’t help you there. But I guarantee that if he’s interested in you, he wants to, but he might show no outward sign of his desires.

  7. Julie November 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    It is very possible to receive interest/attraction signals and for them not to turn into any sort of pursuit. Seems like men are just attracted to a lot of women. He may be attracted to you, but even more to someone else. He may be attracted to you, but not think you fit with his life mission. He may be attracted to you, but not be ready for an LTR/marriage. He may be very attracted to you, and yet still willing to hold out for his ideal.

  8. novaseeker November 2, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Indeed, Julie.

    I think this is a big difference between men and women, and something that can perhaps lead to confusion for women interpreting male behaviors in this area.

    Haley recently wrote that typically a woman might be attracted to one out of every twenty men she encounters in a given day, if that. That’s just not the case with men *at all*. The “cutoff” for a woman being “unattractive/invisible” is much lower for men than it is for women, generally speaking. This does not mean that men find all women to whom they may be attracted visually to some degree, to be equally attractive, or to be suitable for anything. That ranges from (1) worth a look to (2) worth an extended look to (3) worth an approach/flirt to (4) worth a bit more energy. And so on. Each of these is, in a very basic way, an “IOI”, but it doesn’t really get to what a woman would consider a “real IOI”, I think, until it gets to a type (3) or (4).

    Which takes it back to “He’s Just Not That Into You”. If a guy has been observing you and not approaching, for whatever reason, you’re in category (1) or (2). That may be because you’re not attractive enough to merit further effort, or it may be that he is involved with someone else, or it may be that you’re bordering on, if not actually in, a category he considers to be “out of his league”, and therefore not meriting the rejection risk of a (3) or (4). So the best IOI is when he’s actually making a move — approaching you, speaking with you, telling jokes and trying to get you to laugh and so on. Basically approaching and flirting. Everything else is just “girl watching”, which is a favorite spectator sport of most men most of the time, but which is not an indicator of any real IOI in the sense that most women mean.

  9. Julie November 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    Novaseeker, thinking back to my single days, it was common for men to approach, flirt, “hang out” etc. and yet not make a definite pursuit. That was what was frustrating, not the men who merely looked me over and nothing else.

  10. Aunt Haley November 2, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    Josh–
    The smooth softness of female skin and the faint floral scent of shampoo/body-wash/perfume is something all men want, probably more than you know.

    Now I’m waiting for the “I’m not like that” chorus to start protesting, “I hate perfume! I wish women wouldn’t ever wear perfume! Floral smells are awful!”

    Julie–
    Novaseeker, thinking back to my single days, it was common for men to approach, flirt, “hang out” etc. and yet not make a definite pursuit. That was what was frustrating, not the men who merely looked me over and nothing else.

    What you’ve just described is the bane of youth group culture.

  11. Julie November 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm #

    “What you’ve just described is the bane of youth group culture.”

    And college fellowships, and church singles groups, and any Christian campus or organization anywhere.

  12. CAB November 2, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    I was going to write more, but it turned into an overly-personal ramble. Instead, I just want to echo Josh about avoiding the stunningly beautiful, and add to his caveat about touch.

    Hearing those conflicting voices (“Oh my goodness. She’s *gorgeous*.” vs. “Dude, seriously, not a chance.”) sucks. I find it genuinely painful sometimes, honestly, seeing a woman who is just out of my league. And yeah, if you don’t convince yourself that you have a chance, you never will, but the odds that you’ll marry (let alone have a lasting marriage with) a girl that pretty are astronomically small if you’re average-looking yourself.

    And some people are just not fans of most touching, especially if it’s unexpected — if someone, girl I like or not, touches me unexpectedly, I’m very likely to reflexively cringe or pull away.

    Julie, on your first comment, exactly. Men ARE attracted to lots of women. I don’t get the flirting and hanging out without it going anywhere, though, unless they got to know you just well enough to find any sign that things wouldn’t work out. (Which may simply be a guy internally justifying his own unwillingness to ask you out, rather than him finding a real sign of incompatibility.)

    I have to admit, I read a lot about this youth group/singles culture, but have yet to experience it, as my soon-to-be-former church has next to no singles. I rather hope that knowing what to expect and avoid will work to my advantage when I find a church that does actually have some eligible women.

  13. Samson November 2, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    @Haley:

    Now I’m waiting for the “I’m not like that” chorus to start protesting, “I hate perfume! I wish women wouldn’t ever wear perfume! Floral smells are awful!”

    Hahaha… here you go: I hate perfume. I cannot for the life of me understand why women think it enhances their appeal. It burns my eyes, gives me a headache and makes me sick to my stomach. On the other hand, fruity scents can be pleasant, but in any case smells don’t do much for me at all.

    (There was one particular undergraduate biology class to which this young lady used to wear copious amounts of perfume, and sit next to me. I never could figure out if she was just inexperienced in the amount she was supposed to apply, or if she actually thought she smelled “sexy”. I still run, not walk, from women wearing offensive perfume, which is all perfume as near as I can tell.)

  14. Hermes November 2, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    One possible explanation for the “flirting and hanging out without it going anywhere” is that he finds you somewhat attractive, and enjoys the validation he gets from you, but has oneitis for some other girl. I don’t know if this covers all instances, but it’s definitely a place where I’ve been.

    I didn’t understand this phenomenon when I was living back in Philadelphia. There, I did not know of any large gathering of young Christian singles, and therefore I simply wasn’t meeting any attractive Christian women other than the one I had oneitis for through most of my twenties (no joke.) Back then, when I would read complaints about this behavior on Boundless, I was utterly perplexed; I couldn’t understand, beacuse I figured if I could get ANY decent-looking Christian girl interested in me, I’d marry her in a heartbeat. Where I live now, I’ve become involved in quite a large church social circle, and I can now understand this flirt-and-“hang out”-but-don’t-pursue-her behavior, and even sometimes get sucked into it myself.

  15. Aunt Haley November 2, 2010 at 9:10 pm #

    CAB–
    Touching requires a rapport with the other person, no exceptions. Most people, even people who are into touch, do not enjoy being grabbed/manhandled out of the blue. But once you’ve established some warmth with the other person, you’d be surprised at how many people enjoy hugs and shoulder squeezes. I think we live in a touch-starved society, with a lot of people not even realizing how much they need to have some physical contact with others. It’s sad that some people go through their entire week with no touches from anyone, other than maybe some random jostling in a crowded elevator or on the sidewalk.

    Samson–
    Some people just don’t understand that there can be too much of a good thing. I remember in college I used to walk by tables of boys in the dining hall reeking of cologne, as if that somehow was a substitute for showering. (For the record: it’s not.) It was like walking into a literal wall of fragrance. In my book, the ideal amount of perfume or cologne is just enough to make you want to get closer, not choke you from lack of oxygen. Done right, it can be very enticing.

    Hermes–
    One possible explanation for the “flirting and hanging out without it going anywhere” is that he finds you somewhat attractive, and enjoys the validation he gets from you, but has oneitis for some other girl.

    I don’t think he even has to have oneitis for some other girl; that she is convenient is often more than sufficient.

  16. AM November 2, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    here’s my reason for perhaps contributing to the Christian “hang out but not pursue” culture

    there are females in my group that I am definitely attracted to, but there are one or two issues with each one which I envision being problems were we to be married

    now if I weren’t a Christian, I could easily ignore these issues for a while and just date them, and have fun for a bit then move on. However, I can’t do this because 1) it isn’t “Christian” to date without the intent to marry, and 2) I really do like them as people and don’t want to hurt them.

    knowing all that doesn’t change the attraction though, hence all the “IOI’s” I’m likely giving off, and causing the kind of confusion often discussed here

    side note: too much perfume is definitely a turn-off. At the same time though, a clean light scent that I identify with a girl I like can be intoxicating.

  17. Josh November 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    I said FAINT floral scent… I hate strong perfume as much as the next guy. First floor of Macy’s…whew.

  18. Thursday November 2, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    The blog is gone. It has been fun.

  19. Will S. November 3, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    Good luck, Thursday; I hope we will still see you, or at least see you again before too long, in the manosphere.

  20. Samson November 3, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    The blog is gone. It has been fun.

    Whoa, hoss – there was some really valuable stuff on there; stuff I’ve linked to at times. Ah well, we all have our reasons. Maybe it’s part of the heavenly design that each generation has to figure this stuff out anew.

  21. ASDF November 3, 2010 at 8:38 am #

    What happened, Thursday? Did your work find out about it?

    Haley, can you do a post on side hugs?

  22. Aunt Haley November 3, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Thursday–
    I’m sorry to see your blog go.

    ASDF–
    What happened, Thursday? Did your work find out about it?

    He posted at Ferdinand’s that someone from real life found his blog or figured out it was him.

    Quite a reminder to the rest of us that we’re only anonymous until we’re not.

    Haley, can you do a post on side hugs?

    The odious side hug? If you insist….

  23. Joseph Dantes November 3, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    I started and abandoned a few blogs before hitting upon the notion of tiered blogging. Bottom tier is “rough drafts,” with zero expectations or effort. Upper tiers can be built at your leisure.

    As for anonymity, writeprint means it will never exist for any prolific writer – and all real writers are prolific. Assume anything transmitted over email or the internet will become part of your permanent record. My solution is to not care, and keep the worst to myself. Primate social fear is oversensitive in modernity, and relationships that can’t endure honesty aren’t worth having. Practicing excessive honesty will improve the quality of the relationships you do have. If you truly can’t say something publicly, you need to think hard about whether you’re right to think it. And if you are, maybe it desperately needs saying.

  24. ASDF November 3, 2010 at 11:33 am #

    I recall that some time ago I was bored, and googled him based on his translations of Ecclesiastes or something that he had posted on his blog. I forget his real name now, but it was there for all to see.

  25. Hermes November 3, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Haley, if you’re taking topic requests, I’d be interested in your thoughts on women bolting for the door the second the church service or singles group gathering is over (and then complaining that they don’t get asked out.)

  26. Esau November 15, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    ” I think a lot of confusion arises for a woman when she feels she is receiving IOIs but they don’t translate into dates. Then she is stuck with the dilemma of whether the man is just being friendly* – does he treat all women this way? – or whether there is something wrong with her that he won’t make a move.”

    Not a churchgoer myself, but let me hazard a guess here in a more general situation: the generic “he” won’t make a move until/unless he gets a more positive indication of interest in return. In short, “she” needs to make herself inviting and approachable, to look as though it is likely she will actually accept an invitation for a date. It never ceases to amaze me, that so many women who receive an IOI just stand there dumb and unresponsive, doing nothing while expecting the man to approach and do more. Never forget, the _vast_ majority of approaches by men are rejected; it should not be surprising that, after such a history the typical man will want an indication of better odds before putting his ego on the line yet again.

    The exceptions to this reasoning are usually men who have zero respect and regard for women and so aren’t bothered by rejection. Obviously saying yes to such a man is a bad idea, but that’s what women will limit themselves to if they continue to both reject men at very high rates while also expecting men to do all the initiation and take all the acute risk.

    Honestly, the self-absorption of women as a group continues to amaze me. They seem to think they can waltz through life taking no risks and putting in no effort beyond standing still, and then — as evidenced by this post — think something is askew in the universe if men aren’t lining up for their chance to be rejected yet again. So, here’s my advice, ladies: Instead of asking “Why didn’t he make a move?”, ask yourself “What, if anything, did I do to make myself inviting?” Instead of asking “Why won’t he take a risk?” ask yourself “When was the last time I took a risk?” Be honest, and you may discover something new and important.

  27. Rebekah November 18, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    If, however, a woman ‘makes herself inviting’, (or even friendlier than usual) with men in a church setting – she’s labeled as a tramp, even where that is ludicrous to those who know her well. That’s too much to risk on our end… it could literally mean not being considered marriageable. It’s a catch 22. This must all be headed towards a ridiculous breaking point.

    What describes an “inviting” woman who wouldn’t appear to be fast or overly interested to outsiders?

  28. Wayfinder November 18, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    @Rebekah
    Is she? Or just by other women? As a guy, I’d be much more concerned about how she dressed in church than if she happened to smile at someone…

    For a while I thought that I had trouble approaching women in general, and then I realized that it was just the church girls who were actively being defensive and avoiding letting me talk to them.

  29. Joseph Dantes November 19, 2010 at 4:19 am #

    ” This must all be headed towards a ridiculous breaking point.”

    Ridiculously inefficient and hypocritical societies are the rule, as far as I know.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Linkage is Good for You: You Know What the Pattern Is Edition - November 7, 2010

    […] Haley – “Male IOIs.“, “Why Girls Bolt After Church.“, “Writing a Successful Online Dating […]

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