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the she loves ny guide to etiquette and the like

urban courtship: the theory of perceived expectations


1.0 Control
There exists in any courtship a battle for power between the gentleman and the lady whom he is courting. The gentleman attempts to maintain control of his wits while the lady does what she can to disorient the gentleman and in doing so gain an advantage by having immobilized his one edge—his wits. And to be sure, on average the gentleman’s wits are no match for the lady’s natural charms. But, if the gentleman can be mentally tenacious while he carefully maps and then controls his expectations, then he can hope to keep his wits about him.

1.1 Expectations
Secondly, when a gentleman is to attempt to engage the lady for one or more dates, he is to first ensure that he is in control of his expectations for the journey on which he is about to embark; it is in control of his expectations that he will achieve the state of controlled mental tenacity for which the task calls. He will not rely upon the lady to dictate his expectations with her behavior because this will lead to his demise for one very important reason: If he does not set his own expectations ahead of time, and set them well, the gentleman runs the risk of appearing too eager, aggressive, or cocky—all adjectives not ever attached to a gentleman worth his weight in Kobe beef. Of course, the gentleman knows that the lady can, perhaps literally, smell his eagerness and if she does the gentleman’s demise – in the form of complete loss of control – cannot be far off. (The gentleman will see Chapter 7 for guidelines on setting expectations.)

1.2 In Which a Simple but Crucial Point is Made
The gentleman will understand that successful courtship bares far more resemblance to a marathon than it does to a sprint, and he will set his expectations accordingly.

1.3 Expectations Versus Perceived Expectations
Though the gentleman knows that it is mostly perceived expectations to which this section refers, he knows better that he is more likely able to control his perceived expectations by controlling his actual expectations. Therefore the distinction between the two is not made.

2.0 The Expectations Rule Applied
Let us say the gentleman is at a corner table with the lady who has after a period of time – so long that if patience is a virtue then the gentleman must be the among the most virtuous – agreed to join him for dinner. He is pleased with his ability to secure the restaurant’s best table; he sees before him a woman more radiant then that he had remembered her from their last meeting; he believes the lady to be flirting with him. This is precisely the sort of trifecta that might provoke the gentleman to change his expectations for the evening.

2.1 But
But, and this next sequence of words the gentleman will understand are among the most important words he will read in this Most Important Reference, if he alters his expectations and the lady perceives this change, he will have engaged the lady in a battle for control. Here, the lady will have sensed the gentleman’s decision to try to bed the lady at the end of the night and she will make quite certain that he does not do so, even if in changing her plan she knows that whereas they were just seconds ago in agreement on the evening’s dénouement, they will now disagree. The gentleman understands this to be fact, not because it bears any resemblance to logic, but because he understands that the lady’s first and foremost objective in courtship is to maintain control and get her way.

2.2 The Proper Handling of the Trifecta
Now suppose this same gentleman, now aware of and able to control his expectations, faces this same trifecta. That he is on a first date will dictate to him (as he will learn in Chapter 7) that he may be so lucky as to get a kiss at the end of the evening. It is with this end game in mind that he sits with the lady. The lady, having flirted with the gentleman and having on her own decided that she is with a gentleman worthy of her time, may have herself come to the conclusion that a kiss at the this night’s end won’t suffice; she has altered her strategy in earnest, because without having detected a change in the gentleman’s strategy, she has not taken reflexively defensive measures. Now, with her strategy altered, the cunning gentleman will gain control because he has convinced the lady that she is now the controlling of the two.

2.3 Does The Lady Really Want Control?
A sidebar discussion of this question. Ultimately, we conclude that the cosmopolitan lady prefers to assert herself first and then relinquish control several dates down the line, when she is confident that should she so wish, she could regain control with little to no effort.

3.0 Preparedness
As the gentleman on any occasion takes a lady out for an engagement he will be aware that at any moment he can be taken victim by the lady’s charm and therefore lose his wits about him, and as such, the mental tenacity that he needs to maintain his gentlemanly control of his environs. Therefore the Urban Gentleman will convince himself that by the lady’s loveliness, he cannot be taken hostage.