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XXFactored Jan2011: First Dates, Rapists, Chauvinism & Break-up Sales

It’s been a gritty month here at XXFactor. I didn’t get as much writing done as I’d have liked to (even though my Drafts folder is overflowing). My reading has been more sombre than usual too. Here’s starting the Valentine’s month with some link-love:

  • My strength is not for hurting‘: An anti-rape campaign targetted at men. (via Facebook, link courtesy Kiran Manral)
  • First Date Questionnaire: 30 Something Edition‘: A crazy-ass questionnaire from that old favorite Thought Catalog.
  • Why Men Need Marriage‘: Very, very preachy & judgmental (though not as much considering the writer is a pastor).  (via Washington Post)
  • Can You Tell The Difference Between A Men’s Magazine And A Rapist?‘: I’ve never quite been able to reconcile pop culture’s permissiveness of porn with my fear of being labelled a prude. And now this article just makes me sad that I may have been right. (via Jezebel)
  • A Rant About Women‘: Women may get judged harsher than men. They’re also less inclined to take risks (of being wrong, of being caught, of looking foolish). This difference may be costing us more than we realize. (via Shirky, link courtesy Rehab Chougle & Phyrodite)
  • ‘Why College isn’t really necessary for girls’ or ‘How to prove you’re an idiot’. (On Facebook, link courtesy Johann Matthai)
  • You know how they say you should make a bonfire of the paraphernalia of a bad relationship? Instead, make some money off it by selling it off on Never Liked It Anyway.

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to the XX Factor Facebook Page.

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Ten Things Men Should Never Do While Dating

This is an old post, reprised from my archives. Here it is, a few years later but still valid.

~O~O~O~O~O~O

Dating can be a good way to meet a prospective partner. But the process can involve various situations, not all of which are savory experiences. There is a lot of advice available on things that one should do, in preparation of, during and after a date. Even so, people make simple mistakes which put off their date and potentially lose them what could have been a great relationship.

If you are a man, here are a few actions that you should cross off your list and ensure that you never display to your date:

1. Staring at her bust

There is just no excuse for this. A woman might be willing to accept that a random guy on a bus or across the street may do this. She might reason that he has the right to look where he wants. Then remember that she also has the right to mentally strike him off the list of people that she’d ever date. But when she is on a date with you, she don’t have that option anymore. If she’s reasonably polite, she has forgone the option of crossing you off at least till the end of the date. Respect that and don’t treat her like a sex object the very minute you start your date.

 2. Ogling other women

Some men use the excuse of ‘I can’t look at you so I’ll look at others’. Remember that you’re out on a date. That means you and she got together to spend time with each other. Focus on the last three words. One date does not tie you to her but it does warrant the courtesy of your undivided attention, at least.

3. Boasting

Showing off is a natural biological action peculiar to the male species, especially when in the presence of the opposite sex. Animals do it, insects do it and human men do it too. Just don’t go on and on about it. The showing off is a mating ritual among the aforementioned life forms and ceases once the connection has been made. Assume that the connection has been made the minute the date has been accepted. There’s really no reason to go on and on about the number of foreign trips you go on, how earth-shatteringly important you are to your company, how you were having tea last week with the Dalai Lama and how many thousand books you read in the past year. It’s off-putting and most importantly it’s boring. You can safely assume that your date tuned out the minute you started throwing numbers at her.

4. Not listening at all

It’s a conversation. That means both people talk and listen. Talk some, she’ll listen. Then let her talk and you need to do more than stare around the room, ask the waiter for refills and interrupt to talk about the movie you saw. Assume that she can interest you with more than her bust. She could have a sense of humour, an opinion and intelligence too. Give her a chance to show you that too.

5. Calling her names like ‘Babe’, ‘Sweetheart’ or ‘Honeybun’

It’s a first date. She could be your girlfriend but she is not, as yet. The two of you could be friends but you haven’t gotten to that place, right now. Undue familiarity and worse, sexist phrases are instant turn-offs. She has a name; use it. In time, she might permit you to give her a nickname, but at least be original.

6. Playing SuperShrink

You’ve probably heard that women dabble in pop psychology. Maybe she has issues. Everyone does, it’s normal. But don’t put her under a microscope and psycho-analyze her on a date. It’s immensely offensive to tell her that she’s afraid of getting too close to men because of her Electra complex. If you’re a doctor, that’s work during a leisure activity. BORING. If you’re not a doctor, it tells her that you’re just being a creep.

7. Caveating

It’s not cool to be commitment-phobic. Your messy love life and your crazy work schedules are not her concerns. You can go for a movie alone or have lunch on your own if these are true. If this date is happening, it’s because you agreed to it. Don’t waste her time and yours by coming to a date and then talking about why it can’t go further.

8. Bringing other people along

Are you serious? Friends? Parents? Siblings? Colleagues? If it’s a date, it’s between two people. Any more and it’s a party, a group or worse – an orgy. She may not mind meeting big groups of people. But not on a date. You ask people out because you want to spend time with them alone. You accept a date for the same reason. For group dos, you get invited and drop in or not. It’s different. Please get that, it messes things up if you don’t.

9. Self-help style follow throughs

This is important. If the date went well, it’s okay to keep in touch. Strike that, it’s good form, it’s good for you and for her to keep in touch. Please forget what you heard about waiting three days before calling (or whatever it was you learnt in school and college). Those games are for adolescents. Send a text message saying it was fun and you’d like to catch up again. Add her on Facebook. Email or drop her a note. Open a chat window and say hi. There are loads of embarrassment-free ways to say that you liked what you saw and would like to know more.

10. Being a jerk

This is super-critical so listen up: Do everything or anything in point.9 only, repeat ONLY if you are interested in going out again. There’s no easy way to say that it didn’t quite ‘happen’ so just don’t say anything at all. But don’t prolong the agony by keeping up the conversation. You’ve spent some time in each other’s company. If it didn’t work out, there’s no reason to waste any more of each other’s time. You don’t get brownie NiceGuy points for acting interested when you are not.

If the date didn’t go as well as you thought, just tell her so. She may be disappointed but that’s better than being disgusted. And if you’re that terrified of telling the truth, at least wait till the date’s over. Don’t scuttle it with games or lies while it’s in progress. People can always tell. She may not like it but she’ll respect you for honesty.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

Also posted to Love Beckons.

XXFactored Dec2011: Spanx, Girl Gamers, Period Jokes & Relationship Trends

December is the peak of my busybee season. So much has happened this year, as indeed, this last month.  I’m (pleasantly) surprised I managed to catch so much of good stuff online, as well.

In XX Factor news, longtime friend and well-wisher of my blogs, Meetu (also known as WOGMA) joined XX Factor as its newest guest-contributor, giving her own introduction with her first post ‘Mom-me‘.

  • Why Marriage Is A Declining Option For Modern Women‘ (via Guardian, link courtesy Gautam Ghosh)
  • Pick A Number‘: A hilarious point-scale of sexuality (via NewYorker)
  • A graph on how the sexes name colour – Do men and women really see colours that differently? Or are men just plain lazy? (via Venks)
  • The Top 10 Relationship Words That Aren’t Translatable Into English‘: Sex and the City gave us ‘La Douleur Exquise’ but who knew the deliciousness of ‘Retrouvailles’ or the sensuality of ‘Cafuné’? If you’re confounded, the article explains their meanings. (via BigThink, link courtesy Smriti Ravindra)
  • The Surprise Spanx Make-out‘: A fun read on the battle between getting help to look good & letting the world see that. (via Salon, link courtesy Lakshmi Jagad)
  • A dating site and my new project!: ‘Ten Things Men Should Never Do While Dating‘ (via LoveBeckons)
  • Biggest Relationship Trends of 2011‘: The accompanying images are more than half the fun! (via Glo)
  • She’s Got Game‘: I’m not the kind of girl gamer she talks about. But I’ve felt the same ‘You’re off your territory’ attitude in the comics section of bookstores. (via Michelle Oraa Ali, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)
  • A way to get men to stop making those %^$ period jokes! (via RaggedTag)
  • A funny cartoon on haircuts, men and women (link courtesy BlogAdda)
* Images via Salvatore Vuono, Idea go and Paul Martin Eldridge on FreeDigitalPhotos

You can catch the links as they come in and even post your own to the XX Factor Facebook Page.

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

XXFactored Nov2011: Texting Etiquette, Gaslighting, Movember & Facebook As A Wingman

The last few months of the year usually tend to speed up into one gorgeous flurry of parties, social events and conversations. 2011 didn’t disappoint XX Factor and I’m bringing you a hot bunch of links to chew over:

  • I want to believe that this is just an excuse to push for more boys’ nights out! ‘Being Too Chummy With Your Partner’s Friends Linked To Problems In Bed‘ (via The Huffington Post)
  • Why is talking about sex, suddenly taboo for men?: Women And Sex: Intimate Adventurers‘ (via The Huffington Post)
  • Fears of flying‘ What do our fantasy superhero powers say about us? And about our gender stereotyping? A great look at 1980s classics, Nagin and Mr.India. (via Ekantipur, link courtesy Annie Zaidi)
  • Apparently this does need to be spelt out: ‘6 Bits Of Information That Should Never Be Relayed Via Text Message‘ (via HowAboutWe)
  • We’re in Movember, which is the month that men are encouraged to stop shaving to raise awareness for prostate cancer. I’m not liking it but I’ll support it. (via HowAboutWe)
  • Thank God Facebook gives you time to check yourself…err, your profile, before that ‘special someone’ sees you!: ‘9 Things To Do When Someone You Like, Friends You one Facebook‘ (via HowAboutWe)
  • Why Women Aren’t Crazy‘ An interesting concept called ‘gaslighting’. But I wonder, what good does it do, just knowing that there is a problem? (via The Good Men Project, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)
  • Making the modern man cool is Brotips – logos & messages that are smart & PC (via Brotips, link courtesy Karishma Rajani)
  • The top 5 annoying habits of men (via AfternoonDC, link courtesy Ankita Gaba)
  • Why can’t women be more like men?‘ – an entertaining conversation in status update-and-comments (on Facebook, via Kalyan Karmakar)
  • A Gaysi poll but it’s non-sexuality specific! ‘Which is the most important personality trait in deciding if someone is relationship material?‘ (via GaysiFamily)
  • Vitriolic but sadly, steeped in fact: ‘Why Does India Hate Women?‘ (via India Journal, link courtesy Ashwini Mishra)

* Catch the links as they happen on The XX Factor Facebook Page. You can also share a link of your own (if it has to do with dating, relationships, womanhood, feminism, battle of the sexes or gender stereotypes) and you’ll be featured on the XX Factored post at the end of the month!

Featured earlier:

Size Zero Is About Self-Esteem, Not Body Measurements

I saw an image being shared on my Facebook timeline. It depicts a rolypoly cartoon woman in a bikini, holding out a bone to a dog and the caption goes,

“To all girls who die for a ‘ZERO FIGURE’, Sweetie remember real men go for curves, only dogs go for bones.”

I looked it up and found a Facebook page even dedicated to this ’cause’. I don’t have a problem with the statement itself. I just think that it misses the point.

Size zero is the fashion-friendly euphemism for anorexia (or dangerous inclination to it). Certainly there are more women falling prey it to. What’s really alarming is that it’s going down the age ladder as well, with younger and younger girls grappling with body image issues at an age when their worries shouldn’t extend beyond crushes and marksheets.

Liar

Image by Christi Nielsen via Flickr

Let’s examine this at its root. The impossible notion of beauty is being foisted on us by popular media, fashion gurus and the beauty industry. This includes fair skin, light-coloured hair and the bizarre size notions of barely-there waists, hips and thighs. It’s the cause for unhealthy diets, starving and purging (inducing vomitting after eating).

But you know something? It’s not physical. In order for a human being who is normally curvaceous to get to the hallowed size zero, the ideal has to have penetrated to a frenzied level, which takes it into the realm of the mind. The size zero issue is an issue of self-esteem, not one of body measurements. Victims of anorexia are known to have distorted perceptions of their bodies.

Now let’s look at that statement, in context. It may be true that men prefer curves to angles. First of all, that’s a fact that’s been parotted out for decades now and it still hasn’t stopped women from wanting thin bodies by dieting, exercising, surgery, drugs, smoking or purging. Secondly, even if it does have immediate impact on a size zero-obsessed woman, I fear that this is a superficial, if not foolhardy solution.

If a woman is starving herself to achieve an impossible notion of beauty, it is because she values what someone else tells her about her body over her own self. To tell her that a man actually likes her body another way is simply diverting that desperate need for outside validation from one source to another. Now, whether she gets her cues from Cosmopolitan or from the men in her life, isn’t it just as unhealthy?

Here’s another dimension to that above ’cause’. I’m a thin woman and fat doesn’t stick to me. I come from a lineage of lean people, male and female. I am a small eater but I’m medically fit and normal in my food habits. Does this mean that I should feel less than beautiful because I don’t have the curvaceous ideal that men desire? Should I feel like a second-class citizen because I’m a skinny woman in a land of well-endowed women? Any look can be disparaged and I’m sure the phrase, “She looks like a thirteen-year-old boy” isn’t unfamiliar.

I respect my body because it functions in every respect. I value my body because it is mine. I feel beautiful regardless of whether popular media or the men in my life think so. And you know something? When I believe it, the world does too. I know this because I’ve experienced body image issues too and I’ve come out of it on the other side – feeling beautiful and happy. That had nothing to do with measurements or validation and everything to do with looking into my mirror, thinking,

“Hey gorgeous, aren’t you lucky to be you?”

Flirting on Social Media

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

This post was inspired by a comment on my previous post. Apparently these days social media is a great way of meeting women (see slide number 25 in this ppt) .

So since I am out of touch with dating – I went ahead and opened up a Twitter account. Here’s where you can follow me.

And of course, I have a Facebook account too (who doesn’t?) so I got a little active there too.

So here’s the big discovery – it’s damn difficult to build a following on Twitter if you have an anonymous account. Nobody wants to follow me. But interestingly, a couple of women have been flirting with me – two have actually admitted that they believe in polyamory. Yes. There is justice in this world. One actually DM’ed me her email id and wanted to know my name – and even came on Gtalk. By the way, if you’re interested to connect with me on gtalk my id is marriedsingleagain 😉

On Facebook, there have been a few queries about my ‘relationship status’. And I guess it’s to do something with perceptual set. You know, the feeling when you buy a car and suddenly start to notice lots of cars of the same brand on the roads? Suddenly a lot of divorced/separated women have started noticing me. They pop up on FB chat or message me their number. Some of them are damn good looking – and it confuses me. Should I read anything more than sympathy in those messages? For example see these messages I get on Twitter.. why do women have to be so infuriatingly complex 😛

I was talking recently to a female friend who got divorced some time ago and she shared that the number of people who hit on her after knowing she got divorced is like almost 90% of the men she meets, and that men somehow think “a divorced women probably wants sex all the time cause she’s not getting it”

Some people suggested I try out a dating app called Zoosk on FB, and a dating website called BeNaughty – but they seem to be money making rackets – specially when a female in skimpy clothes (in the DP, no not that DP you dirty mind!) suddenly wants to chat with you as soon as you open an account – that’s fishy! And of course they want you to pay, for accessing messages sent to you :O Hello, this is the internet, peepullz !  So stay away from those crappy sites

So I’ve decided that social media is not really going to get me a date… and I am not going to make a pass on any woman using Facebook and Twitter… maybe a little flirting, being a little naughty online… but a relationship? Nah… Not until my divorce comes through and I resolve myself psychologically…

Yes, I do think I am not fit mentally to get into a relationship anytime soon. But flirting should be ok, right? 😉

XXFactored Aug2011: Relationship Anarchy, Divorced Friends, Crushes & Glorious Singledom

August saw XX Factor introducing its very first guest-writer, TheSingleMarriedMan. I’ve been asking him to write a guest post for ages but he only recently consented. He’s newly single (after a longterm relationship) and is bringing his own brand of humour, cynicism & wisdom to XX Factor. I’ve also been on the lookout for alternate voices, male or female for this space. The battle of the sexes, relationships, dating & love are too big for just one person to talk about, don’t you think? If you or someone you know is interested in being one of the voices of XX Factor, do write in to me at ideasmithy at gmail dot com. And until then, here’s what we were looking at in August:

  • Indian Relationships: A State Of Anarchy‘: In this age of limitless social interaction, are we also setting ourselves up to relationship predators? (via Yahoo!RealBeauty)
  • Tips for women on dealing with a male friend in the throes of divorce (via TheSingleMarriedMan)
  • You’re never too old for a crush! (via Yahoo!RealBeauty)
  • Socially Obliged‘: A passionate viewpoint on being single & the way society may be heading (via Facebook)
  • Would you want women-only subway cars to stop sexual harassment?‘: An angle on street harassment – should women have to be segregated on public transport for protection? The question is raised by a US citizen for the US but the discussion holds valid everywhere, even ‘safe’ Mumbai with its ladies’ compartment. (via TheFrisky)

XXFactored Apr2011: Facebook Etiquette, Men’s (Inner) Style & Stereotypes In Toy Ads

XX Factor has been having a few adventures this month. I contributed an article to Femina.in (linked below). I faced down a copycat attack and with a lot of support from the onlineverse, got him to take it down. Quarter-year and I’m also looking at diversifying the interests of this blog and changing its tone. I think it’s time to take XX Factor from a personal confessional into a full-blown social commentary space. It’s been on that path for awhile, all that remains is to make it ‘official’. But nothing happens without your okay so please use the pollbox or the comments section to tell me what you think of this.

And after that, here’s what XX Factor is featuring this month:
Read the rest of this entry

‘Are You An Annoying Facebook Couple?’ – On Femina.in

Remember when I pondered the question of ‘Are we ready to Facebook this’? The social network continues to twist itself around our lives (or is it the other way round?). This month, I look at ten of the most annoying things that couples do on Facebook. Admittedly, I’ve been guilty of some of these myself. But that doesn’t stop me from going ‘Gah!’ when someone else on my feed does it.

“Are your numerous ‘open to public’ personal updates, goofy fights, uncalled for PDA and more urging the other on your friends list to mock you, ignore you and sometimes even block you?”

The article will be on Femina.in till the end of the month. Go on, read it (I know you’re dying to find out if you’re one of the annoying ones!) and don’t forget to take it with a big pinch of salt! 😉 And if you’re tagged in this post on Facebook, I hope you’ll see it as a compliment – you inspired me after all!

XXFactored Jan2011: Dutch Dates, Blind Dates, Lipstick, Wingmen, Dumping, Sex & Style

The first month of 2011 opens bright and clear for me. I think I’ve gotten a grip on this Bookmarked feature but I’m still waiting for your inputs. Talk to me! Tell me if this works for you and why. Do you prefer getting the links as-and-when on the XX Factor Facebook Page? Or do you like seeing a ‘best of’ list at the end of the month? What else would you like to see? What would you like to dump?

Here are my picks for the first month of the year. We’re heading into the (not going to say it, not going to say it) pink, heart-shaped month of February and  that could mean a number of interesting things for XX Factor. Keep reading!

  • As a bonafide geek-girl, I guess these are the women, it would be a compliment to be compared to: Ten Classic Nerd Queens Over 40 (via Gunaxin)
  • To go dutch or not, that is the big question. Here’s some reasonably sound advice from a man: The New Take On Going Dutch (via ManOfTheHouse)
  • Pop psychology has its uses, especially in dating!: Judging A Guy’s Dating Potential By His Job (via YourTango)
  • There’s nothing quite like red lipstick. It really is the superhero cape for a girl! How To Do Red Lips For Indian Skin (via Republic of Chic)
  • If this were in a movie or a book, I’d deem it cheesy. But here, I’m all “Awww…”: “The customer is only enrolling so she can see you more often. The customer is in love with you.” (via PostSecret)
  • A Girl Who Set Up 15 Dates In The Same Bar…And Stood Them All Up! (via Nerve)
  • Find The Perfect Wingman! (via Foster’s)
  • Harsh but true: “You always post those “85% of people don’t have the courage to post this as their status” FB status updates.” (via ThatsWhyIDumpedYou)
  • On bad-boy-loving women and how to behave around them (via AskMen)
  • 12 Types Of Friends You Should Break Up With (via YourTango)
  • A matrilinear society in modern day India? (via TheGuardian, tipped off by Sveccha Kumar)
  • 10 Fun Facts About Kissing: See no.4 on this list! I’m tempted to say it’s worth living a short life if you live it rightly and kissfully! (via TheFrisky)
  • Tricky Tacky Trousers (via WTForever21)
  • Health is a privilege for Indian women: 70% can’t afford sanitary napkins, reveals study (via TimesOfIndia)
  • I’ll stick with ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’.:Passion Fades & The Phenomenon Has A LOLsy Name (via NakedCity)
  • What women really think of sex (via Twitter)
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