Every guy has a priority list. You can easily figure out where you stand on your guy’s list by observing where he places his time and energy. And, by how you feel. Realizing you fall below his “top 10” priorities in life is an easy assessment; you hurt. You know you’re not getting the parts of him you need to remain connected.

You’ll wonder why everyone and everything else takes precedence, and you’ll question why reading his Twitter feed takes priority over texting you. Is he “bad?” Or is he just a casualty of the new rules of pursuit?

When a woman doesn’t feel like a priority in a guy’s life she’ll often default to labeling him as “bad,” or a “player.” It’s a common mistake. It’s one that’s made every day and reinforced by concerned friends’ as they add their own fears to the mix. Who’s right?

Certainly, there are men who are bad boys and players. And while some women may be in the unfortunate position of discovering their lover really is a cad, many times that’s not the case. Something far more disruptive is occurring within the world of modern dating: we’ve trained men to see us as a non-priority.

The rules of courtship have shifted in the last decade. Women are now the ones who pursue. This singular, bizarre and twisted ideology has created the very thing women now detest— a minimal ranking on their man’s priority list. Slowly and consistently men are being trained (by all the women they date) to abdicate their “effort” in the act of pursuit. Why bother?

With the majority of women they meet willing to take on this role for them, why chase? It’s far easier to go about their day-to-day business knowing that job has been handed off to the female. One less thing to worry about. And if the woman in pursuit doesn’t get the response she seeks, the games begin: threats, tears, demands, emotional manipulation, and in a last ditch effort, inciting his jealousy.

Here’s where the whole dynamic falls apart. The more women pursue men, the lazier men become. The more women force the connection, the greater the likelihood of games. With more and more games being played in this ego-battle over who’s in control, men are getting further away from being real and more skilled in gamesmanship. Everyone loses.

The more we chase men, the more they learn to be chased. The more we act like men in pursuit, the less men feel the need to pursue. The act of pursuing and maintaining a woman has been moved so far down the list of men’s priorities that it has become negligible. We, as women, have created this horrifying fact. And we, as women, are to blame for the tears we shed.

Having noted this sociological shift, I find myself paralyzed by the “new rules” of courtship. Under the weight of the new rules of female behavior I have increasingly felt the agony of either having to get up to speed and chase a man, or lose him.

But no matter how I try to contort myself to the current standards of dating, I can’t seem to do it. I don’t want to force a man’s attention or time. I don’t want to chase him in the hopes that, maybe, with enough effort on my part he will step up to the plate. I can only state my feelings about all of this (and my feeling for him), and let the chips fall where they may. I can throw in the grenade of honesty and hope in the fallout it clears a path for him to rally.

Several years ago, I confused a former boyfriend by not chasing him once we had become intimate. He wrongly assumed, by my lack of keeping to the new rules he’d learned from his former partners, that I didn’t care about him. His assessment was, “I thought you didn’t like me. You weren’t calling and texting me.” No. I wasn’t. I thought sleeping with him made that fact clear! I didn’t know I was also supposed to be chasing him. Our three-year relationship got off to a rocky start due to this shift in the new rules of pursuit.

Perhaps we all need to take a step back and reassess the dynamic of today’s dating process. As women, we could continue to pursue. We could take on the task of making the contact and creating the connection we crave.

We could continue the constant texting, calling, and making ourselves available all hours of the day and night. But is that the role we want? Some women feel empowered by this. They feel they are in control by doing the active work of choosing a mate, and negotiating the capture of him.

My concerns lie more in the long-term effects this creates in the balance of desire men have for women. In taking away their incentive to pursue us, we remove their reasons for this quest. In taking on the responsibility of chasing a man, we will continue to create a society of men who have learned the subtle art of emasculation. Then, we will peruse the horizon of available men and see nothing we want. In looking for a real man none will be found.