Reddit’s dating strategy for women turns love into a game. Does it work?
For a long time, Jenny thought she was to blame for the men who treated her badly.
“I have often thought that I had to change and accept whatever came my way,” said the 36-year-old.
Finding out about the Female Dating Strategy (FDS) subreddit helped her take control of her love life.
“When I started reading the articles on FDS, I felt very empowered.
“Being able to connect with other women on the forum has helped me realize that I subconsciously look for guys who are not for me.”
The women-only forum on social media platform Reddit has 100,000 subscribers and describes itself as a place to discuss effective dating strategies for women.
That’s a strong subscriber base given that all members are women and Reddit is a male-dominated space, says Dr Emily van der Nagel, senior social media lecturer at Monash University.
She says the easiest way to understand SDS is to think of it as a reaction to the phenomenon of “artistic pickup”.
“The mindset and goal of the pick-up artist is really to turn chasing women into a game – assuming it has specific rules and women behave in certain ways that are ripe for exploitation.
“FDS fuels this model. It treats dating and relationships like a game.”
While this has helped Jenny stop settling for toxic men, SDS’s ingrained ideologies mean it’s not a safe space for everyone.
What is the dating strategy for women?
Female Dating Strategy encourages women to ‘take it to the next level’ and seek out a ‘great man’ who will treat them like a queen.
“We’re discussing how to maintain a healthy relationship that benefits you,” the bio says.
Subscribers are encouraged to read the FDS manual before posting, and are cautioned that any post contradicting the group’s ideology will be removed.
That’s typical of a successful subreddit, says Dr van der Nagel, who says it pays to be specific about what is allowed. (People will vote for relevant content and vote against what is irrelevant.)
Some of the principles of the group include:
- To be a “valuable” woman – a woman who does not revolve her life around men, with her own career and hobbies;
- Let the men run after it. The role of a man is to be the pursuer, to convince you that he is the right man for you. As a woman, you don’t have to prove yourself to him;
- Not having sex until the engagement has been established.
Other themes that hint at the sexually conservative nature of the subreddit include disapproval of consensual BDSM and watching porn.
“The idea is that it is aimed at women who are looking for healthy relationships – and that seems to be a positive thing,” says Dr van der Nagel.
But she says it’s valid criticism that the group only offers a specific version of female dating.
“It’s a space for monogamy and heteronormativity. It’s not gay friendly.
“It leaves no room for women who want to sleep – which is a great way to approach dating if you’re a woman whose dating pleasure comes from casual encounters with men or other women.”
Jenny says that while she doesn’t agree with all of FDS’s beliefs, it has helped her change her perspective on men.
“Although I consider myself a modern, feminist woman, I can’t say that the modern approach of taking the initiative to ask a man out has always worked for me.
“[FDS] helped me realize that a lot of men are still programmed to love the hunt and don’t always respect women who are easy to win by taking control.
“Men want to feel like they have to work to earn your love and if they don’t treat you to your standards from the start, they never will.”
Should Dating Be Considered A Game?
Dr van der Nagel says FDS tries to “beat the boys at their own game”.
Whether this is a good thing or not will depend on your personal perspective.
Ruth Sowter is a sex, romantic and relationship coach in Melbourne.
She says women drawn to the female dating strategy have likely had bad dating experiences in the past.
“It’s a human tendency to want to protect yourself and understand how to behave around people.
“We want to go out together in a safe and [where] we are treated well, but the movements [like FDS] vulnerable and angry people really suck in, and they kind of fuel those feelings. “
She says it’s okay to treat dating like a game, as long as it’s fun and sweet.
“It should be fun and playful. The energy you put in is the energy you get back.
“When it becomes a survival game, then it’s a negative scenario.”
Tips for using SDS
Jenny says from her experience that you don’t have to completely agree with everything in the SDS manual to benefit from it.
“I consider myself to be a woman who is not currently looking for anything serious and if the opportunity arises I am open to having a one night stand or friends with benefits.”
Ms. Sowter says if you’re going to dive into FDS just try to pull out what works for you.
“It could be one of those things, take what works for you and leave the rest.”
She also recommends trying a bunch of different things when it comes to dating.
“It’s easy to follow one path, but a good rule of thumb for learning more dating skills is to mix them up.”
Dr van der Nagel says there are a lot of positive stories on FDS such as “My ex was doing this and making me feel bad, but now I have a great man and he is respectful”.
“It reflects very traditional gender roles, but if I was actively looking for a positive message, the general message of ‘You are a queen, you deserve a man of great worth’, if that is what it takes for it. ‘get, that might be a good thing. “
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