Old-Fashioned Or Misogynistic

Old-Fashioned Or Misogynistic? How To Tell the Difference in Modern Dating

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In the world of modern dating, women are rediscovering the allure of old-school romance amidst the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced lives. Whether you’ve been juggling the roles of a single parent, a business owner, or a high-powered manager, the call for a return to simpler times is resonating louder than ever.

For those women dipping their toes back into the dating pool after a hiatus, the longing for a partner with timeless values who lets them revel in their femininity at home is palpable. But here’s a word of caution: navigating the dating landscape, it’s all too easy to mistake genuine old-fashioned charm for the sinister undertones of misogyny.  So, how can you discern whether someone is old-fashioned or misogynistic?

In this deep dive, we uncover the intricate dance between traditional values and the unsettling prejudice against women, known as misogyny. It’s a journey through the twists and turns of society’s expectations, where perceptions of old-school romance intersect with the shadows of harmful beliefs.

1 – Objectification of Women

One of the stark manifestations of misogyny is the objectification of women. This insidious behavior reduces women to mere objects whose primary purpose, according to those harboring misogynistic beliefs, is to be aesthetically pleasing to men (or women, depending on sexual orientation). This reductionist perspective hinges on the idea that a woman’s worth is intrinsically tied to her physical appearance.

One often overlooked signal that someone objectifies women can be seen frequently on dating apps.  Imagine you’ve been chatting it up with someone and things seem to be going along swimmingly, when the other person asks you to send them more pictures (please don’t).  

A good response in this case is to simply end the dialogue at this point.  If they spent time chatting it up with you, they could easily invite you for coffee at the very least.  Anything else is a red flag that they objectify women.

Rating Women on a Scale

Misogynistic individuals often indulge in the degrading practice of rating women on a numerical scale, a crude attempt to quantify and categorize their worth based on perceived attractiveness. This not only objectifies women but also perpetuates harmful beauty standards, fostering an environment where self-worth is contingent upon meeting these arbitrary criteria.

Sadly, this has become a trend on social media, with the quip, “She’s a 10, but [insert random trait, personality type, or behavior].

This might be common practice in high school, but it should never be accepted in real life dating or relationship situations as adults.  This is a blaring sign of not only misogyny, but also a severe lack of emotional maturity.

Derogatory Language

In addition to numerical ratings, misogynists employ demeaning language to describe women who do not meet their subjective standards of beauty. The use of derogatory terms to label “unattractive” women perpetuates a toxic culture that devalues individuals based on their appearance, fostering an environment where self-esteem is intimately tied to societal beauty norms.

Another way misogynists use derogatory language against women is by calling women c**t, whore, and slut when they are trying to instill fear, trying to put a woman “back in her place”, or trying to remind her that what her identity boils down to is her private parts.

Further, her womanly parts are really all she’s permitted to use, not her brain or heart or voice or passion. And so, when a misogynist calls a woman a c**t, they are saying: Know your worth — you are here for no other reason than for me to use.  

Criticizing Young Girls

Disturbingly, misogynistic attitudes extend beyond adult women to include young girls. The inclination to criticize the looks and bodies of underage girls underscores the pervasive nature of these harmful beliefs, impacting individuals at various stages of life. This aspect of misogyny raises concerns about the broader implications for the self-esteem and mental well-being of young girls.

This is never appropriate.  There’s a reason social media has gotten a bad rap for harming the mental health of young girls and teenagers.  If your partner or someone you’ve been dating engages in this behavior, it’s time to find the escape hatch.

Controlling Behaviors

Misogynists often employ controlling behaviors, dictating your clothing choices, as well as how you style your hair and makeup. This goes beyond expressing preferences, which is a normal aspect of healthy relationships. This person may insist on you changing your outfit if it doesn’t align with their liking. Their influence permeates various aspects of the relationship, encompassing, but not confined to, your job, eating habits, clothing, hobbies, friends, and connections with family. Increased isolation often amplifies their control.

THRIVE program2 – Collecting Women as Trophies

Another facet of misogyny involves viewing women as trophies to be collected, showcasing them as status symbols rather than individuals with agency and autonomy. Their self-esteem is dependent on having a nice “arm piece” when they walk into a room.  They also like to rotate women and brag about it.  Don’t take this to mean that the person in question is vulnerable or fears genuine intimacy.  At their core, misogynists feel entitled to treat women this way

Individuals who collect women as trophies often derive great pleasure from the perceived status of having an attractive partner. The concept of an “arm piece” is emblematic of this mindset, where the presence of an aesthetically pleasing partner becomes a source of validation in social settings.

But make no mistake, these worthy women do not receive any special treatment back at home.  If you’ve ever seen Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman, it gives a perfect example of how misogynists treat their partners in real life.  Despite outwardly appearing to lead perfect lives, Charles is emotionally and physically detached, exhibiting verbal and physical abuse. Simultaneously, Helen, grappling with unemployment and boredom at home, is fervently attempting to salvage her crumbling marriage.

On their 18th wedding anniversary, Helen returns home only to discover her possessions packed in a U-Haul, as Charles reveals his intention to abandon her for Brenda, his younger mistress and the mother of his two sons.  Meanwhile, Helen wanted children, but her husband cheated on her and abused her domestically to the point that she had many miscarriages.

Sadly, this (or similar events) is how things often play out for the partners of misogynists.

Rotating Relationships

A strong aversion to any form of emotional connection drives these individuals to consistently cycle through various relationships.  Through a continuous rotation of partners, they sidestep the vulnerability and intimacy associated with forging deeper emotional connections, mainly because they have no interest in doing so.  This pattern not only perpetuates a shallow understanding of relationships but also contributes to a cycle of fleeting, superficial connections.

Serial Cheating

When an individual with misogynistic tendencies enters a monogamous relationship, they harm women by consistently breaking their commitment and engaging in a pattern of infidelity. Their sense of entitlement to pursue sexual relationships with whomever they please becomes a justification for cheating. They may attempt to shift blame onto you by asserting that your actions or presence were insufficient to meet their needs.

3 – Strained Relationships with Significant Women

A crucial aspect of understanding misogyny involves examining the individual’s relationships with significant women in their lives, such as their mothers, sisters, or grandmothers. While a challenging relationship with a woman does not inherently make someone a misogynist, the unresolved emotions stemming from these interactions can manifest as anger towards women, influencing both romantic relationships and general attitudes towards the entire gender.

Family Dynamics

Misogynistic attitudes can often be traced back to family dynamics, where strained relationships with maternal figures, sisters, or other important women contribute to negative perceptions. Unresolved conflicts from these relationships can manifest in destructive ways, influencing the individual’s interactions with women outside the family unit.

The unresolved emotions and anger resulting from difficult relationships with significant women can become a powerful force in shaping an individual’s attitude towards women in general. This transference of anger may manifest as hostility, objectification, or a pervasive sense of distrust towards women in various aspects of life.

4 – They Act As If You’re a Gold Digger

It’s one thing to stick to a budget or save for retirement.  It’s another completely to act as if you aren’t worthy of a fancy date night or special gifts, even when they have the means.

Do they take you on cut-rate dates?  Do they refuse to buy you gifts for special occasions and then call you a gold-digger if you bring up that it sometimes feels you’re being taken for granted?  Misogynists believe that most women are parasites…out to get what they can.

Alternately, misogynists often take the approach to relationships that, when first getting to know a woman, they’ll intentionally take her on super cheap dates, and once they know she isn’t after their money, they’ll “reward” her by spending more money on her.  This stems from his belief that women consider having money spent on them as some kind of intrinsic reward. 

Misogynists believe all women are out for money and this is especially evident in divorce proceedings, with many narcissistic misogynists guilting you into believing you are a money-hungry monster.  This is an attempt to have you sign away your rights in the case of divorce.  Even if you are/were a stay-at-home mom or were asked to stay home at their request, you are still entitled to your fair share in the event of divorce.  Let your attorney handle the details and don’t have any personal conversations with the narcissistic misogynist as they will try to make you believe you don’t deserve anything

The Misconceptions of Old-Fashioned Or Misogynistic

It is essential to address the common misconception that misogynistic behaviors are synonymous with old-fashioned values. While traditional values may encompass a set of beliefs and practices rooted in the past, they do not inherently endorse or justify harmful attitudes towards women.

Confusing Respect with Control

In some cases, the confusion arises from a misunderstanding of traditional gender roles, where respect for women may be mistaken for controlling behaviors. Traditional values emphasizing respect and courtesy can be misinterpreted when they veer into restrictive expectations and limitations on women’s autonomy.

It is crucial to challenge stereotypes and dispel myths surrounding the conflation of misogyny with traditional values. A nuanced understanding of respect, equality, and healthy relationships within the framework of traditional values can help dismantle harmful associations and promote positive, respectful attitudes towards women.


If the traits I’ve described align with your partner, you have now had the chance to identify them as someone with harmful attitudes. It’s essential not to assume that your love and influence can bring about change. Unless you’re comfortable with a lifetime of submission, belittlement, and disrespect, this person is probably not the right fit for you. My advice: consider going in a different direction.

Shifting the focus from a toxic or indifferent partner to yourself is a crucial step in healing from toxic relationship dynamics. It empowers you to take control of your own life and work on your emotional well-being.  If you know that rising out of fear and pain and into healing and happiness is something that you dearly want, I’m inviting you to take on this journey, with me beside you, just as I and thousands of other Thrivers have.

Get Started On The Stages of Emotional Healing 

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Even if you don’t reach what you think is 100% “being healed,” life can transform in ways you can’t imagine from where it is now.

The Break Free Program is my most popular program—no toxic positivity. No fluff. Just deep principles of recovery.

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M says April 24, 2024

More thoughts on the clothing issue…I think it’s OK to tell somebody you like a certain style or color on them, but that’s about it.
I have a problem with anyone trying to control what I wear and dictate how I “should” look.
I don’t do that to other people, so it’s a matter of respect.

People with narc traits/tendencies like to criticize while being unaware of their own flaws, I’ve noticed.
That night when he was screaming at me to change my shirt, I just felt so bad in that moment.
There was nothing objectively wrong with my outfit but he just made me feel so ugly and ashamed of myself.
It reminded me of all the abuse and bullying and discrimination I dealt with growing up. What’s more, his own clothing wasn’t much better than what I was wearing to dinner that night.
So it felt horrible being spoken to that way.

I think with people who are misogynistic or have a narrow view, there is a need for control and dominance.
They project shame onto others. So you can be of a normal healthy weight (or even slightly underweight) and they will call you “fat”.
You can have good hygiene, wear nice clothing and they will say otherwise. You will always fall short in the eyes of a narcissist.
And they will always try to make you feel insecure…you “embarrass” them, you act weird, you say the wrong things, you aren’t smart or successful or attractive enough to impress their friends/family, etc.

I dated some narcs in my teens and twenties. I didn’t realize that my husband had it in him, too.
Not until that night when he acted in such a terrible way. And he never apologized or explained himself.
It was bizarre. He also hides me from coworkers and people associated with his job, which is odd considering we’ve been married 15 years.
His female coworkers don’t dress better than I do (in my opinion) and they aren’t models or anything…just normal-looking women. So it makes me feel that he holds them in higher esteem for some reason, while looking down on me, even if it is on a subconscious level.

It’s just one more reason I would probably leave him if it were possible. It’s one thing if my clothes were dirty, wrinkled, stained, full of holes, ill-fitting, or trashy…but they were not.
He is not only misogynistic, he is also a snob because he hates people with tattoos and judges complete strangers by their clothing, even if they are simply minding their business. I understand that image matters but how we treat people matters more. I may not like what someone is wearing, but I wouldn’t bully or shame them. We may travel again at some point…I will make it clear that he is not to ever speak to me that way again.

M says April 18, 2024

Oh yes, and the idea of all women being gold-diggers/parasites. He has accused me of this before.
Many years ago, he called me a “moocher”. He has never given me flowers just as a simple gift.
He withholds compliments. I also remember that when we were dating, he expected me to have a high-paying job (but he is only a teacher himself).
This was to elevate himself in the eyes of his coworkers and family.

I also remember that when we were dating, he insisted on giving me spending money often (like an allowance).
I felt weird about it because I was just a girlfriend at the time, not yet his wife, and I don’t feel comfortable just taking money from people.

He would give me all this money and then it was like he would complain that I was taking advantage, something had to give, etc.
It was just weird. I think men who do this partly do it as another type of control. “Look what I do for you and how you just take, and oh what a selfish bitch you are, and that’s what women do”…that is how these guys think.
It’s manipulative on their part. I also feel that misogynists are more likely to visit sex workers and because those women deal with them based on money/transactions, they are more likely to associate ALL women with simply wanting money.

I think those of us who have been either stay at home wives or moms eventually wake up to the fact that we must have our own income, or financial stability, to deal with men that are abusive or try to control us with money.
*Disclaimer…to any men that are offended, I’m only talking about misogynists here. This doesn’t apply to all men. Just the ones that engage in the harmful behaviors outlined above.

M says April 17, 2024

More food for thought! Thanks. I’ve known many misogynists in my life (mostly male, but a few were female).
A lot of this definitely fits with what I’ve noticed.

I dated one who would always complain about my clothes. He expected me to look perfect at all times…his idea of perfect.
That “relationship” (if you can even call it that) lasted maybe two months. It was long-distance so it wouldn’t have lasted anyway.
But that guy was such a clown. Just a shitty personality and constantly putting me down. It was a relief when I never saw him again. It’s just one of many regrets I have about my younger days, that I even dated a person like him.

I later married somebody whom I believe has narcissistic traits, although I’m not sure if he is truly a narcissist.
He does the whole rating system and uses language (about women) that is either somewhat demeaning or sexualizing, depending on if he likes the way a woman looks or not.
And again with the clothes and controlling behavior! He has done this before, but the most extreme (and upsetting) time was in 2022 while on vacation.
We had dinner plans after seeing a show and he was in a foul mood that night. He started screaming at me to change my outfit.
It was disturbing. I’ve experienced horrible treatment from people so that’s nothing new…but this was on another level, and I was so hurt and disappointed because I never expected it from my husband.

The outfit that bothered him? A simple sleeveless top (no cleavage or midriff showing) with a beaded neckline.
Dark blue jeans and a pair of heels. My makeup was neutral, brown eyeliner and a glossy lip.
None of this should have provoked such a terrible reaction from anyone. He started screaming at me “change your shirt! change your shirt! change your shirt!” over and over.
He turned red, he shook, veins were popping out, he was acting insane. I am used to people doing/saying weird things but this had me really alarmed.
There is no reason why anyone should be that angry over what another adult is wearing.

At that point, I realized that he had a problem. This was misogyny but I also believe he may have been cheating on me (more on that later) and his outburst was some type of projection, or him feeling guilty about his actions.
It was just so fucking weird! My apologies for the profanity, but it was nuts. Absolutely nuts.
I just looked at him in disbelief. Had it been possible, I probably would have divorced him on the spot.
I would’ve been back home on the next plane without him if possible. I still don’t see him in the same way after that.
I still feel hurt and shaken and somewhat dehumanized after that incident, two years later.

He never apologized or explained himself. I didn’t change my outfit, either. I wore it anyway because he needed to see that his behavior was abusive, it was not OK, and I am an adult who is capable of choosing my own clothing.
I would have left him immediately if he had shown signs of that behavior in the early phase of our relationship.

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