I originally posted this as a comment in the excellent discussion at CMD-N’s latest post Courting and the Evangelical American Princess. Van Rooineck warned women of the unintended consequences of nuclear rejection:
Memo to the “ladies” — If you are rude to a man you’re not interested in, word may get around and the guy you ARE interested in, may never try. It’s even worse if you put down your unwanted suitor PUBLICLY, in front of a crowd… NONE of those men will ever try. (Yes, i’ve even seen that.)
I think there is an even larger message here. Women in general have abused the courtship process beyond all sanity. Nuclear rejections are a part of it. So is the extension of the period of time women expect courtship. It used to be just a few years, and women felt a sense of urgency to make a choice as well as a great deal of pressure to stick with that choice once made. Now women think nothing of deciding they won’t consider marriage until after 25, quite often later. Yet even Christian women who do this still expect the benefits of courtship all the way through. They want to be taken on dates, wooed, etc. One thing a man knows about a woman as she gets older is many other men have likely wasted their romantic investment in her. She from that point of view becomes a bad bet for courtship. She may still be marriageable, but she isn’t worth a large one sided effort to find this out.
What we need to explain to young women is not only that their own behavior will determine how willing men are to foot the searching costs, but that the behavior of women in general has already changed the rules. The whole point of courtship is finding out if there is a match there. Footing this investment has become a losing proposition for men in many ways. She can’t expect the man to know that “she is different”, because this is what the process is about. In the past women enjoyed a free ride here, but it came at the cost of pressure to not dither and make marriage a priority. The pressure is gone now, and so is much of the free ride. So all a young woman can expect now is the new baseline limited courtship which men have adjusted to. The older she gets the less of this she should expect. If she handles this badly she will gain a reputation for such and will receive even less than the age adjusted baseline. But either way she can’t expect what women received in the past, and even that is less than what Disney has likely sold to her.