The dating game: Are sisters turning the tables and getting mean

ARE sisters simply getting in touch with their inner girl-power — or turning the tables on men and cynically playing them at their own game?

It’s a big issue out on the dating scene where ‘playerettes,’ as they’ve been dubbed, are now calling the shots, leaving male egos bruised by their hard-nosed attitude to romance.

“Women are looking for sex but they won’t bring you back to their house and they’re always gone in the morning,” complains *Michael, a 30-something IT worker:

“I was on a date with this girl recently; she was in her late 20s and she wore a short skirt and looked beautiful.

“Suddenly she came back from the loo and whispered that she’d just taken off her panties. I asked her if that meant I’d to go in and take mine off too!

“It’s a very tough scene now. Girls are very different than they were 15 years ago — they’re much more confident.”

“One girl invited me to have a f*** only minutes after I’d met her. I didn’t even get her name! She just asked straight out whether I ‘fancied a f—-!”

“I refused and her friend wanted to know if I was mad. She said this girl was hot, hot, hot!

“It’s very upfront with women now. They’re very forward. I know there are nice girls out there but I just don’t seem to attract them.”

Are these young women following strong female role-models such as Rihanna (above) or perhaps the example of the very racy HBO series, Girls? Are they perhaps viewing themselves as participating in a post equal-opportunities world where effectively the winner (female) takes all, and the feelings of the loser (male) are not the issue?

Even after spending the night with a man, says Michael, some girls display no interest in a relationship: “They’ll say ‘give me your number and if you hear from me, you hear from me.’

If they do call, he says, all too often it’s purely for sex:

Sexual health is inevitably a big issue — statistics show about 60% of all new STI cases are in those aged 20-29 years, warns Anne Marie Cussen, psychologist and author of Dating Guide for Ireland.

“By rights people should have STD tests prior to starting a new relationship but they don’t.

“People are becoming a little too easy-going about jumping into bed and not thinking about the consequences.”

Men are also encountering an arrogance and sense of entitlement in some women, says Feargal Harrington director of the Dublin-based Intro Match Making Agency, the only fully Irish-owned match-making agency with registered offices that clients can visit.

Harrington recounts the story of one young man who met a girl in a nightclub.

During the night they repaired to his car for sex:

“She wasn’t satisfied with his performance so she locked him into the car for an hour. She was looking for good sex and she was annoyed when it wasn’t as good as she expected.

“Now it’s the men who are coming in with their confidence shattered and their egos bruised.

“Girls can be scary,” he says.

“Large groups of girls can react negatively to a guy who comes up to talk — they’re not particularly interested, they’re just out to enjoy themselves and have a laugh.

“The confidence level increases no end, and they’ll react in a very arrogant and unpleasant way to the guy. ”

Female players often display a strong sense of entitlement he says: “It’s about what you do, what car you drive. They’re playing the guys at their own game, it’s right-back-at-you.”

This is familiar territory to Cussen who is also creator of “Modern life has opened up opportunities for women to play the field,” she says.

“They enjoy the power.”

While there are fewer ‘playerettes’ than traditional male players, Cussen has come across several. “They’ll have four and five men on the go at the same time. The man will find it to be quite an empty relationship because the woman’s behaving like a stereotypical male player — they call them playerettes.’”

Such women have no real interest in a relationship, she says. Even when they meet a guy who’s clearly besotted with them, they’ll continue to date.

Often she says, such women won’t see themselves as playerettes. “They don’t want to admit to that. They’re enjoying their moment and very rarely will they admit to themselves or anyone else this is what they’re actually doing.”

*Sean, a businessman in his 20s from Co Louth, believes that for some 20-something women, it’s only about the thrill of the chase:

“They’re attractive, they realise it, they exploit it. She’ll get a couple of drinks and some attention and that’s all she wants.”

“A lot of girls will go off with anyone. There’s a lot of promiscuous girls out there.

“They get the name of being a player and then all the lads want to get with her.”

The problem, he says, is that now some women who genuinely want a committed relationship believe they have to be ‘playerettes’ to get with a guy — but he warns, that’s a mistake.

“If a girl’s a player the decent guys won’t want to know her. The old double standard is still there and often girls don’t find that out til it’s too late.

“Girls have much more to lose by becoming a player than a guy. Guys will take it if it’s offered but they won’t settle down with someone who has the reputation of being a player.”

Why are women behaving like this? Sometimes it’s a need for validation and having a false sense of male interest, says relationships counsellor Mary Kenny.

“It makes them feel attractive and desirable. They’re not emotionally mature enough to be in one relationship or to sustain a relationship.”

For others it’s purely a matter of control, observes Cussen, because having it means they’re less likely to be hurt.

“It’s very much about power because they’re able to juggle all these men.”

Uncertainty is a given at the start of most normal relationships, she says, but these women, she warns, display “an almost animalistic detachment.”

A 40-something scientist in Dublin *Cathal finds he’s increasingly dating foreign women, because, he believes, they’re less likely to play games than their Irish counterparts: “I’ve met a lot of game players,” he says.

“There are plenty of women who just want to be able to attract a man to prove to themselves they can do it. Once he’s attracted, they feel they’ve scored and immediately lose interest.”

Many may have had bad experiences in the past with men who treated them badly he says, and “now they want the power and they’re not willing to be vulnerable — they want to be the ones in control.”

Their primary goal, he believes, is an ego boost.

He’s learned that while they are often attractive, sexy and self-assured, ‘playerettes’ will “interrogate you from the word go,” yet actively discourage queries about themselves.

Although he doesn’t indulge, he’s aware that often sex is there for the asking.

“It’s quite astounding when you come across someone you’ve never met before who’s willing to go the whole way.”

He doesn’t date 20-year-olds, he says, but he’s blown away by their behaviour.

“In the younger age group it’s now the women who are the hunters, they’re raking up the stats the way men used to do.”

Harrington, however, believes some women simply play the field in the desperate hope of finding the right guy:

“This particularly applies to women in their early 30s where you see a lot of serial dating.

“They play the field and see which relationship works out.”

It’s a case of throw enough mud at the wall and something will stick, he believes.

“They don’t see it as promiscuous or slutty, it’s viewed as practical. These are people who go on five to 10 dates a month.

“Some women don’t want to get emotionally involved with someone until they know that person is in there for the right reason.”

Female players in their 40s or 50s can be women who have been separated or divorced and feel hard done by.

“They won’t give their hearts away easily because they don’t want to make the same mistake again.”

But whatever their age, fewer and fewer people these days are prepared to take a chance on a relationship, he says.

“The idea is don’t put all your eggs in one basket; go on as many dates as possible and don’t invest emotionally until the guy invites you into an ‘exclusive’ relationship.

“People now are very alert and very aware of other people’s motives,” he says, adding that this insecurity is often what lies beneath the ‘player/playerette’ mentality.

The message is: “Unless I’m certain you’re the one, I’m out there for the taking.”

People will not invest in a relationship anymore, he says, unless they are “100% guaranteed” that it will stick.

* Personal details have been changed.


Esther McCarthy previews some of the Fleadh’s Irish and international offerings.How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

Whether you’re on staycation or risking a trip away, Marjorie Brennan offers suggestions on novels for a wide variety of tastesThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

Q. Sometimes I know that an orgasm just isn't going to happen. Is it really so bad to fake it?Sex File: Is it wrong to fake an orgasm?

Financial advice with Gráinne McGuinnessMaking Cents: You have made your home beautiful in lockdown, now make sure it is properly protected

More From The Irish Examiner