Dating Advice That Might Make You Mad

Dating Advice That Might Make You Mad

I was going to post this in the comments for my last blog, but felt it was worth its own post. It’s in response to another ad nauseum debate between two camps on this blog:

Women who think that everything is someone else’s fault and that everyone else should change. And women who understand that you can’t control anyone else’s behavior, all you can do is adjust to the world as it is.

Suggesting that all of you don’t value yourselves because you’re asking for dating advice? Suggesting that if you are happy with yourself, your romantic relationships should just fall into place?

A reader wrote:

If a woman values herself she doesn’t need a man–hence she doesn’t need a matchmaker or dating advice.

If a woman is happy in herself she doesn’t need a man–and her relationship decisions spring organically from who she is at her best.

And then all of her relationships–with her lover or husband, her friends, her kids, her coworkers, whomever–will just fall into place.

As a dating coach, this set me off. A regular reader is insulting all of my other regular readers?

Suggesting that all of you don’t value yourselves because you’re asking for dating advice? Suggesting that if you are happy with yourself, your romantic relationships should just fall into place?

I’m sorry, but my entire CAREER is proof that this is not true.

My clients are amazing. Smart, strong, successful, happy, confident. Relationship-oriented. Content being alone; would prefer to find a partner. Know that something’s not working. Want to learn what they can do differently. Reach out for my help in this most important of arenas.

How can you say that there’s something wrong with these folks?

Good, smart, self-aware people with high self-esteem can want a relationship and seek dating advice. That’s why I have a job, as do dozens of other dating coaches and matchmakers, many of whom are my good friends. If you think we’re preying on the weak, you don’t really understand what I do here. I’m not sure why I care about this, but I’m always baffled when people take offense to my reality-based dating coaching.

I realized recently that, as much as I write about dating and relationships, I’m not really expressing my opinions on how the world should be. I’m issuing my observations about how it IS.

It would be great if the hottest, youngest women on Match.com weren’t so self-centered and flaky. But they are. It would be amazing if short, fat, balding men with no money could have an equal shot at dating one of these women. In my experience, they don’t. I could spend all my time trying to change hot, young women into mature, soulful, generous and empathetic adults, but I’m powerless to do so. I could spend all my time railing against them for being judgmental about men’s looks and wallets, but I don’t.

I simply point out what I see.

So, if you, as a reader, feel personally indicted by anything I write, do me a favor:

Ask yourself exactly why you’re getting angry.

Chances are it’s not because I’ve lied or said something that’s factually untrue. It’s probably because I’ve pointed out some way in which the world works that you don’t like. Yet I don’t see what there is to get mad about.

I simply point out what I see. So, if you, as a reader, feel personally indicted by anything I write, do me a favor:Ask yourself exactly why you’re getting angry.

Observation: Men won’t always call after sex.

What You Can Learn From This: Don’t be surprised if 50% of guys don’t follow up. Stop sleeping with men if you can’t handle the consequences. That’s all you can control.

What You Yell at Me For: Men have no integrity. What’s wrong with them? Sex means something to me and it should mean something to him. Tell men to change because it’s really not cool to sleep with someone and not call her again. Men suck and you shouldn’t defend them for sucking. You should make them not suck.

Observation: Men don’t respond to women who are critical and boss them around.

What You Can Learn From This: The things that make you successful at work aren’t always effective in love. Alpha males usually don’t want alpha females. You get more with honey than you do with vinegar. Men like a soft place to land when they get home from work.

What You Yell at Me For: That’s not fair! Why do women have to change? What’s wrong with society? I’d rather be alone than be with a man who can’t take the fact that I’m strong and have strong opinions. I’m not somebody’s Stepford Wife. Why are men so intimidated by me? Men need to learn to change with the times because I’m not going to be subservient to a man. I’m not changing for anyone.

Observation: Men aren’t always commitment-minded

What You Can Learn From This: Men reveal themselves in their efforts. They don’t always know where a relationship is headed. You have to be patient and allow him to choose you. Trying to define your future too soon will invariably backfire since men don’t like receiving pressure. It only makes you look weak and doesn’t make him want to commit to you. Commitment is a great goal, but men like to buy – they don’t want to be sold.

What You Yell at Me For: I don’t want to waste my time on a man who isn’t marriage minded. He should know after 3 dates if he wants to be my boyfriend. He should know after 6 months if he wants to marry me. And I have a right to learn this information as soon as possible. If he doesn’t like the fact that I’m asking about “us” too early, he’s not the guy for me. Why are no guys sticking around?

The simple fact is that all of the free advice I dole out on this blog is simply observations about male behavior. I don’t endorse or condone it. I observe it.

We can go on and on with this, but the simple fact is that all of the free advice I dole out on this blog is simply observations about male behavior. I don’t endorse or condone it. I observe it. Yet all of the things about which we argue are things that you CAN’T CHANGE.

Don’t forget: I am a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women – most of whom are 35-55 and are serious about finding love.

The ones who do are the ones who are open to changing. The ones who don’t are the ones who complain that life is unfair.

Which one are you going to be?

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Comments:

  1. 91
    amy

    Huh. Interesting, and maybe not so strange. Puts me in mind of English 19th-c novels full of common-law marriages and people past childrearing years in their own cottages. You always get the impression in them that most of the poor widows with children have men because one turned up and wouldn’t go away and besides was handy, but besides that the widows themselves weren’t overly bothered about the lack of a man. Being busy & all. It’s only the upper classes that seem to be worried in those books about old-maid sisters. Which I suppose makes sense if the aim is for the sisters never to work for money.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised if the push for all young people to marry, in the US, came out of the devastation of WWII. You send that many young men off to a horrible, decimating war, and by the time they get back, by God, all you want is love and babies, and gentleness, and happy times. But that was a long time ago now.

  2. 92
    A-L

    When women post about guys who are never willing to compromise, or who expect someone with no backbone, or are generally just rude (needing a 24-48hr window for a specified time to call?!) I am incredulous that any woman with decent self-esteem would stay in such a relationship. I would say that only a woman desperate to have a man would remain with that kind of person. A woman who doesn’t feel she is in need of an LTR would just walk away rather than deal with that garbage.

    Fortunately, though, I don’t think that kind of garbage is the majority. I think most men are kind and desirous of pleasing their woman. Some of them are clueless about how to do it, but with some positive direction they do everything in their power to make the woman they love happy. And I don’t think that telling a man that you’d like to receive this item, or have him do this thing, or showing your honest joy at something he’s done well is a managerial/training job. It’s communication and acknowledging your partner’s contributions to your relationship. Something that most of the women here would like to receive from their partner.

    Admittedly, most women have had to bear the majority of the costs (time & loss of employment opportunities) related to raising the children. But some of the men have brought up interesting points in regards to income, childrearing, and partner selection. The majority of couples have the male earning more money than the female. It’s generally something that the women look for. So when it comes time when someone needs to work fewer hours in order to take care of the kids, the natural inclination is to have the lower income person do it as that way the family will lose less money.

    Although I’m quite surprised that I’m about to say this, Vino’s idea of only being in a relationship with a person with the same income as yourself actually might help alleviate some of these issues for women who want to work while sharing the parenting responsibilities with their husband. Since neither person earns more than the other that cannot be used as a justification for the women making the sacrifices. Also, I suspect that the power dynamic is more one among equals rather than one holding more of the cards. Not that this describes all relationships where there is an income differential, but at times like these (as in whose job is more important) I think that it comes into play.

    Just as there are women who don’t want to date a guy unless he has a college degree (or is over 5 9 ) I think it’s totally okay if a man only wants to date women who are not professionally ambitious. Simply because a man isn’t interested in someone like us doesn’t mean that he’s wrong; he just wants what he wants. As many of the women here have testified, there are men who are interested in bright, educated, successful, non-girly women. We just need to find them.

  3. 93
    Ruby

    A-L #93

    In my case, we were only involved for a few months, and the unwillingness to compromise on this particular issue didn’t come to the fore right away. It was something of a surprise to me when it did. You said,”I am incredulous that any woman with decent self-esteem would stay in such a relationship”. Me too, but the guy I was seeing didn’t see it that way.

  4. 94
    Helen

    A-L #93: you make some great points, but ultimately the issue of who – mother or father – gives up more for the kids is more complex than that. In the short term, because now there is SUCH a push (a ridiculous one) that we must breastfeed exclusively if we can, women are compelled to stay home for at least 12 weeks, even if she has the more prestigious job. Then there are also issues of tradition: that it always was the woman who stayed home in the past, so that is the default – again, regardless of the relative prestiges of the mother’s / father’s jobs. And finally, there is the question of: who wanted the kids more? Ultimately, that is what determined childcare burden in my marriage. I did more of the upfront work (being a woman), but because my husband was the one who wanted kids much more than I did, now he is doing relatively more of the dropoff, pickup, hustling them through breakfast, brushing teeth, etc.

    These are all items that a couple should discuss before having kids. We didn’t discuss these issues and managed fine, but it would have been much smoother if we had gotten these out of the way first. I think many childless couples have no idea just how much work is involved in raising kids, and I want to try to alleviate that ignorance as much as possible, and to point out that it does heavily affect male-female viewpoints and relationships. (I think Amy has a similar goal here.)

    How does this get to Evan’s original point about dating advice making people mad? It has to do with looking reality in the eye. We don’t like to hear the truth often about dating, just as we don’t like to hear it about parenting. But from personal experience (especially regarding the latter), I would much rather have heard the straight story ahead of time, rather than suffering through disillusionment and resentment at feeling that people were hiding the truth. It doesn’t mean that we must be jaded either about dating or about parenthood. It just means that we make decisions being more informed.

  5. 95
    Lance

    EMK, thought provoking post, as usual. I haven’t waded through the comments yet, so forgive me if this has already been said. I’d love to see you embrace your role as more than an observer. You have a huge, thoughtful audience and you have the ability to influence and make change. I’d like to see you use that authority to spur changes and address the things that you don’t think are right. If you think women need to make their standards more realistic and give short, bald guys a chance, then fight that fight.

  6. 96
    downtowngal

    Interesting advice here, Evan – you state that you can’t change men so women shouldn’t try. I totally agree. And some time ago you wrote that women seek advice more than men, but men need it even more. This describes how men & women are different.

    The problem is I’ve met a string of guys who are single, look ‘good on paper’ (age-wise, good profession) but are total dating duds – rude, don’t call, look around the room after asking me a question on a date, sending mixed messages, complaining incessantly about their exes, etc. I’m sure I speak for many women here.

    So the only sound advice we can take is to just move on. To do otherwise condones unacceptable behaviour. All of those dating books say the same thing, which is to demonstrate self respect and don’t put up w BS.

    Sure I’d like to meet someone but if the single guys out there really want to find someone they should try checking their egos at the door and figure out how to be mensches. Will it happen? probably not. but I’d rather be happy w my life than in a relationship treated like crap.

  7. 97
    amy

    Sure. You know, the more I read here, the more persuaded I am that Evan has so many midlife clients because it’s at around this age that most women learn to recognize bs and understand, like to the bone, that they totally don’t have to put up with it. And when you consider that the MO of most men has been up till then to use the bs to get wherever they need to go in just about any situation, well. You see the conflict.

    Frankly, I think that’d be a much, much harder shift for men to make than the whole “do half the housework” business is. Because by and large, that’s how I see boys operating from the time they’re about 3 years old. It really doesn’t matter what kind of bull you need to put out to convince people that you’re the one who’d going to be at the top of the pile of cushions — just put it out there, and get on top! Same thing happens in salary negotiations, love negotiations…turning that mode off, I think, requires a hell of a lot of reflection, security, and willingness to come in fifth. Not because you can’t do better, but because you’re not willing to live that way, bullshitting the people around you all the time to stay on top.

    I think that’s really at the heart of the matter. A guy who can do that — who could be alpha, more or less, if he played the game, but chooses not to because the game sucks, and refrains also from leeching off other people to make up for it– those guys are always madly attractive to women, regardless of height, looks, etc.

  8. 98
    Curly Girl

    Amy @98: I love you!!!

    This: A guy who can do that who could be alpha, more or less, if he played the game, but chooses not to because the game sucks, and refrains also from leeching off other people to make up for it those guys are always madly attractive to women, regardless of height, looks, etc.

    Brilliant, and exactly what I am talking about.

    I have this guy. And he is so into me, in a way that no alpha male ever could or would be. It is heaven, and it has made all the years of not putting up with b.s. worthwhile. A very validating experience. He’s also really good-looking, with a high s*x drive, so this isn’t about “settling” for security instead of passion. I am not settling at all. I feel secure with him and we are intensely passionate about each other. We are not interested in marriage, and we aren’t planning on having kids, so none of the traditional gender problems have come into play.

    I wish we heard more relationship stories about women who don’t roll over and play dumb to get a guy, women for whom the post-feminist world works, women who aren’t “punished” for refusing to cow-tow to traditional gender expectations.

    In my view, the default settings need to change:

    A woman who stands up for her truth if it differs from the outmoded and stereotypical is not necessarily doing so out of anger. Perhaps she’s just setting the record straight.

    Women are attracted on a purely physical level to good-looking men.

    A woman who makes her own money isn’t going to care that much about a guy’s–unless she’s just into money.

    Raising kids and taking care of a home are work and should be viewed as such, not as some altruistic, genetically programmed, all-fulfilling accident of nature. Until recently, women have not had much of a choice about whether or not they will participate in this work.

    You don’t have to be married or in a couple to be normal, healthy, fulfilled. As a matter of fact, getting married or encoupled just to fulfill some gender/societal expectation is probably a most unhealthy choice, almost guaranteed to have a bad outcome.

    And finally: Sometimes–maybe most times–the desire to find a partner is not about finding another person at all. It’s about finding something in yourself that can withstand all of the harsh twists and turns of life and still be strong. It’s harder to find this strength in yourself than to find a partner.

  9. 99
    Helen

    Curly Girl #99, I love YOU. :) Especially for this paragraph, which is so on-target that I have nothing to add to it:
    “Raising kids and taking care of a home are work and should be viewed as such, not as some altruistic, genetically programmed, all-fulfilling accident of nature. Until recently, women have not had much of a choice about whether or not they will participate in this work.”

    I do wonder about your statement though: “I wish we heard more relationship stories about women who don’t roll over and play dumb to get a guy.”

    As a woman who meets your above requirement, I’m glad to share my own stories – but Curly Girl, they are the norm, not the exception. Men LOVE smart women. Take it from me, a show-off who is constantly flaunting what small knowledge she has: men love that. Men relish that. Especially if they perceive that you are having a good time while you’re doing it. Men enjoy seeing women happy, and if a woman obviously loves intellectual discussion and showing off her brains, they fall head-over-heels for her.

    Don’t be afraid to try it. Men want smart women who will pass on their smart genes to offspring. Flaunt your brains! – not in an angry or resentful way, but in a positively joyful way.

  10. 100
    downtowngal

    CG#99, “A woman who makes her own money isn’t going to care that much about a guy’s unless she’s just into money. ”

    So true! Too often I hear guys complain about women being golddiggers, but these are also the kind of guys who feel as if they NEED money to attract women, and overlook those who are not overly impressed with their nice car. but some guys don’t get it, they’re stuck in their ways and keep making the same mistakes.

  11. 101
    Lisa

    You say 50% of men don’t call if you have sex too soon. The post about What Men and Women Want on Paper says that chastity is irrelevant????

  12. 102
    downtowngal

    Amy #102, I’ve also observed that some guys want a woman who’s going to stay home and not work, and get intimidated by women w careers. Totally unrealistic because I also know a lot of single career women who would give up working to stay home if it came to that. Plus, many of these women are intelligent and have their act together. I guess it sez more about the guys than the girls.

  13. 103
    Shelagh

    Talk about beating a dead horse… while we’re on the subject… WHAT ARE OBSERVATIONS?! I can understand being opinionated. I can see why people become more and more opinionated with age. I see it in myself, but I try so VERY hard to keep it down to a roar. Advice: stop being so argumentative. It’s annoying. “It is the mark of an educated mind that is able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Socrates

  14. 104
    Curly Girl

    Shelagh: Is that Socrates’ observation or just a thought that we can entertain without accepting it?

  15. 105
    Shelagh

    exactly

  16. 106
    Liz

    A lot of women on this thread seem to genuinely think that marriage and relationships are a losing prospect for women. Great, enjoy your solitude. More choices for the rest of us.

  17. 107
    starthrower68

    Liz,

    That’s an interesting comment because I have seen posts on here where men say relationships and marriage are a losing prospect for them.  Fascinating.

  18. 108
    Liz

    Good point, starthrower.

  19. 109
    starthrower68

    We could just simply things by all being FWB’s, eh?

  20. 110
    Liz

    But then we’d get attached, and we’d all be back at square one!

  21. 111
    starthrower68

    I’m still scratching my head on being independent but making him feel needed at the same time.  Can’t quite wrap my brain around that one.

  22. 112
    Karl R

    starthrower68 said: (#113)
    “I’m still scratching my head on being independent but making him feel needed at the same time.”

    I couldn’t find whose comment you were referring to, so I may be getting your statement out of context.

    However, I disagree with the idea of making the man (or the woman) feel “needed.” Just make them feel wanted. My girlfriend and I have been dating for 10 months. I expect we’ll get married. If we were to break up, it would be inconvenient to disentangle our lives. However, we still don’t need each other. But we both want to be together, and that desire is sustaining a strong relationship.

    I think you’ll find it much easier to be independent and make the guy feel “wanted.”

  23. 113
    Scott

    Pulling together some thoughts from various threads around the blog (which sex finds monogamy more difficult, does women’s high income lead to divorce), and by reference to @downtowngal 100 comment about men thinking they need money to attract women, that is the point.  Most women find only a small number of men physically attractive, and most men who do not fall into the top few percentiles of looks actually DO need to have money to be attractive to most women.  So it is not accidental that men refuse to compromise over career.  And it is not about a sense of entitlement.  It is about a sense of necessity.  Created and fueld by women.
    Amy is correct that getting divorced at middle age is tough on women who chose to be SAHM.  But think about it in the other direction.  While Amy expresses surprise that a middle aged single mom who doesn’t play “girly-girl” can attract male attention, what do you imagine the dating prospects are for a middle aged man who does not pay attention to his career?
    Most men learn early that most women won’t have any interest in him unless he exudes confidence, power and high income potential.  Much harder to exude that confidence if you are constantly compromising over the level of your commitment to your career.  The rest of the guys who don’t compromise will crush you without remorse.  As long as women continue to prioritize male income so highly, men will continue to prioritize work over most everything else.  He would be stupid not to.
    When women complain that men earn more for doing the same job, I remind them that that is precisely what women have trained us to do.  Because money is worth more to men than to women.  An extra dollar can buy women many material goods and valuable services.  But that same dollar buys all that for men, plus a larger pool of prospective dates for Saturday night.  Over decades of small decisions whether to push harder at work or fulfill some other responsibility, men are going to be more motivated than women to choose the work task over anything else.  Because that extra dollar of income buys him more.  And women have created that reality.

  24. 114
    Marie

    Relationships are not a math equation people.  Some inequality will always exist and it is your responsibility as a woman if you feel that strongly about it to either 1)marry a guy who will understand and support your career; 2) create a plan action together to troubleshoot the inevitable conflicts in childcare and housework; or 3) not get married or have kids.  I’m constantly surprised by career oriented women who blindly marry the wrong guy thinking she can change him, wind up with 2 kids again thinking she can make it work without much of a plan, then wind up stressed out and miserable, THEN blame the guy and get divorced with no savings no back up plan and a great deal of bitterness towards men and society. 
    Look society will always be there to crimp your style.  You make your own destiny despite society not because of it.  My 100 year old grandmother managed to do what she wanted with her life, follow her dreams, have a great husband and six children.  That was in the 1930s.  All she did was find a man who believed in her and what she was trying to accomplish.  She was able to effectively communicate her dreams to him and her children.  It was a team effort and he really didn’t give a damn what society thought of his strange but successful wife.  My mother is a lawyer and when she decided to stay home she had a clear and concise plan of what her housework and childcare was worth in dollars and my parents agreed upon her salary and days off from being a stay at home mom.  She invested her own money from that salary and ended up bringing in as much if not more than my father.  If they ever divorced (not going to happen) she would still be independent.  My husband and I both make high salaries but I make a bit more.  From the outset we agreed on what would happen if we had kids and how to handle it.  He pitches in with everything.  He knows I was not ever going to be a housewife. 
     
    Everyone has choices in life.  Just because you choose one way and it didn’t work out doesn’t doom future generations to a perceived gender inequality.  Don’t succumb to self limiting beliefs perpetuated by other people’s failures, regrets, and unhappiness.  Make your own destiny.

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