How Feeling Entitled To Women Spreads Toxic Behavior

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I remember being so crushed when this woman told me she didn’t want to date me anymore. It wasn’t just sadness, I actually felt entitled to dating her. I was angry she wouldn’t “give me a chance.” Even when she told me she wasn’t interested, I still kept trying to change her mind. It was wrong and unacceptable.

Eventually I learned that she doesn’t owe me anything. I wasn’t “friend zoned.” If I valued her as a person, I would have been happy to have her friendship. But again, I was entitled to think that I deserved more. The #MeToo campaign deals with both assault and harassment. However, it’s important to realize that bothering women after they say no in any form is part of the problem.

Coming to realize this was very hard. I always thought I was a “good guy” as many people like to think of themselves as generally positive. However, I had some pretty awful ideas about relationships and having those ideas created strong dissonance between being a good person.

Feeling entitled to women’s attention or their bodies is a toxic idea that infects many men in our world. It’s a learned behavior and not our fault that we are exposed to such terrible messages. However, it is on us to try and become aware of it and do better. Yes, anyone can feel entitled to anyone else, but we do see a lot of messages of men feeling entitled to women.

Classic examples of entitlement include romantic movies where the man’s persistence is seen as romantic and eventually he dates/marries the woman at the end. It doesn’t matter that the woman said no, if the guy keeps trying, it works in these movies.

That is all unacceptable. People should always respect other’s boundaries. Full stop. If someone says they are not interested, we should move on. We are not entitled to them and they don’t owe us anything.

I’m glad to see many men on my Facebook feed admitting their past problems and trying to do better. My Patheos colleague recently wrote about some of his own problematic behavior he learned from. It’s a constant process of listening and trying to get better so everyone starting now will be much better to the women in their lives if they stick with it.

We can’t change what we have done in our past, but we can learn from it and try to do better in the future.

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