What Happened to Wooing?

I don’t know… maybe this post is coming from the fact that I’ve had Frank Sinatra on repeat, or that fall is the most romantic time of the year, or maybe because I’m tired of being surprised when a man pursues well.

But I just need to ask a question for a second:

Gentlemen – what happened to wooing?

I don’t mean the unrealistic movie wooing. I don’t mean Noah from the Notebook or some other rom-com. I mean true passionate wooing. When men took delight in pursuing a woman and she felt the freedom to enjoy it. There weren’t messy friendationship lines. There weren’t weighted words and expectations of understanding assumptions.

You put on a sport coat and I put on a dress and maybe some high heels. You picked me up on time, opened the car door, and took me to a restaurant. The only decision I had to make was if I wanted chicken, steak, or fish. We’d sip wine and enjoy conversation. I didn’t have to worry about if you were paying or I was. I didn’t have to worry if I was reading in to something. I didn’t have to worry about if we were just friends. My only worry was making sure broccoli wasn’t in my teeth.

And maybe after dinner, if it wasn’t too late, we’d go to some fun place and have another drink and listen to jazz or big band or something else nostalgic. Maybe you’d even feel brave enough to take my hand and lead me out to the floor and twirl me around and around. I’d probably laugh and step on your toes and apologize profusely.

Eventually you’d bring me home, walk me to my door, and say goodnight. Maybe you’d sweetly kiss my cheek and the hold door for me as I went inside having no expectation of anything further. I would fall asleep that night holding my face because my cheeks hurt from smiling so much.

There is nothing glamorous or highly romantic about this — only a simple pivot towards intentionality and respect. And I think we’ve lost that. Try to tell me that there isn’t something that inspires you when you see the Humphrey Bogart’s and Fred Astaire’s of the world. I think a piece of us longs for the simplicity of dating back in black and white.

And the wooing goes beyond putting on a nice suit and tie. It goes down to romancing the deepest parts of our heart while continuing to pursue our Papa. In fact, some of your best pursuit of us might be when you’re wearing pajamas and drinking coffee in the wee hours of the morning while you talk to Papa.

Okay, I hear you, protesting. Telling me that you want to do this but girls will get the wrong idea or get freaked out or it’s too much or whatever. Guys, I’ll talk to the ladies about this later, but trust me when I say, EVERY girl wants to be wooed.

It may not look the same for all of us, but there is some way that each of us feels wooed. If you’re interested enough in us to ask us out, be interested enough to figure out how we’re best pursued. It will potentially save you money and time if we don’t like dinner dates but would rather be hiking. Plus if you’re not interested enough in us to figure us out, are you sure you should be taking us to dinner?

Gentlemen, I’ve said this before. I truly believe in you. I’ve seen the men you are and continue to become. I know we’ve failed you, I know we’ve let you down, I know we’ve hurt you, I know we’ve rejected you. I know.

BUT here is where you get to fight to win it all back.

So please, win back the art of wooing?

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2 thoughts on “What Happened to Wooing?

  1. Hi Rachel,

    Great writing. If it matters, in 1945 Humphrey Bogart divorced his wife and married his co-star, Lauren Bacall. Ms. Bacall was 25 years younger than Bogart, which quite angered his ex-wife. Even that marriage deteriorated though, with Bogart’s drinking and Bacall’s love of exuberant nightlife.

    If you are really asking, and not just making a point, I’ll take a stab at the answer.

    Men today don’t need chivalry because women don’t require it. When a society (especially twenty-somethings) finds comfort in post-modernism, lacks the idealism that comes from a strong father figure, and trades chivalry for realism, women looking for the 1940’s Bogart romanticism will be disappointed. In fact, women of the 1940’s didn’t really even find that Bogart romanticism.

    I think we have a tendency of seeing the past as more romantic and shiny golden than it actually was, putting us into a perpetual state of looking in the rear view and talking about the “good ol’ times.” But we all do it. I suppose it creates a better story than what we experience day-to-day. And maybe there’s hope in that, I don’t know.

    Men don’t fight for women because they don’t have to, or maybe more simply, women don’t feel like they are worth fighting for. Either way, men have traded real-life chivalry for much easier distractions. We’ve traded bravery, courage, and absolute heartbreak for Facebook, iPhones, and Candy Crush. But was Bogart any different?

    Thanks for penning the article,

  2. As an Anerican male, I wonder too what women really want. I read what you’re saying about the desire for wooing and all, but there’s a pretty strong vibe coming from American women these days that’s not communicating that desire to us men. What we are seeing is more standoffish, it’s more of an “oh please stop with the attention already I only wanted you to admire me from afar.” It’s a lot of things. It’s the cumulative effects of our culture (movies, peers, social norms, trends, family culture) that have produced in women something that’s becoming more mysterious each year.

    But I have noticed (as well as most of my male friends) that there are women who communicate a “wow, the attention of a man and I am so enjoying it” type of attitude. And the women I’m referring to are almost always foreign-born women. I meet and interact mostly with Vietnamese, Hmong, Central American, South American, and other Asian-origin women and I can say hands down that it’s so much more enjoyable to chat with these women than most American women. The foreigners seem to enjoy attention from a man – unlike the mixed signals I get from Anerican women. Even at work last week I asked a woman where she was from “cuz I know you’re not from around here.” “What gave it away?” she asked. I told her it wasn’t just her accent but that I could just tell by her mannerisms and interactions with me that she couldn’t be local. She’s Canadian (via Toronto and BC). (A very subtle accent of course) I discover this truth more and more and check my data with my closest guy friends. We’ve concluded that foreign women, for whatever reasons, run circles around American women. They respect men more as a whole, enjoy their attention, come across as more feminine, don’t get upset at female stereotyping, smile a lot, get a little shy around a man (Anerican women have replaced shyness with just plain being irked or other body language) and usually just want a man and some babies. And there give off no confusingly mixed signals. It’s a wholly different experience than meeting an American woman.

    I still meet wonderful Anerican women. But it’s becoming a rarity. And it’s a Pandora’s box trying to guess what will unfold. Good post. It’s hard to encapsulate such an intricate subject in so few words. Perhaps it could continue?

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