Should Your Spouse Also Be Your Best Friend? Damn Straight!

Should Your Spouse Also Be Your Best Friend - Damn Straight

I’m about as evangelical as you’ll get when it comes to the virtues of marriage. Of course, that comes with a certain bias: I am a dating coach who has used my own advice and is now just about the happiest married guy on the planet. Of course I’m going to wish for everybody to drink my Kool-Aid, because it’s so darned tasty.

I can cite statistics that remind you that married people are the happiest people in the world, and those statistics are true. It doesn’t mean, however, that marriage is what caused their happiness.

This Business Insider article digs deeper.

Sure, you may have heard that married people report being happier overall over their lifetimes than single folks, or that people tend to say they’re more “satisfied” with life just after their weddings.

A recent bright spot in the research suggests that it isn’t marriage that’s the key to happiness, but the quality of the relationship itself.

But is it actually the act of marriage that’s causing those benefits?

Probably not.

Which makes sense. I recall reading somewhere that 2/3’s of marriages aren’t happy marriages. So if that’s the case, then clearly, putting a ring on one’s finger doesn’t magically sprinkle fairy dust on your life. There’s more to it – and it’s quite simple:

A recent bright spot in the research suggests that it isn’t marriage that’s the key to happiness, but the quality of the relationship itself.

A 2014 working paper from the National Bureau of Economics Research found that if the person you call your partner (or significant other, or whatever) is also the person you see as your best friend, you don’t actually need to be married to reap the benefits of a long-term relationship. And it’s this factor, rather than getting married (or not) that appears to matter the most for happiness.

Amen. I’ve been called “conservative” on here (Ha ha ha!!) simply because I am an advocate for marriage. But the truth is, I don’t give a shit if you’re married. I just want you to be happy and feel secure in a relationship with your best friend.

Your thoughts – on marriage, living together, best friends, and the like – are greatly appreciated below.

Join our conversation (64 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Malika

    The happiest couple i know has been together for twenty years (college sweethearts, still going strong) and only have a registered partnership because that was easier for house ownership in my country. That is all they will ever need, and they are the one couple i believe will be together until one of them departs this world.

    I believe happy marriages/LTR’s are down to two people coming together that are a good fit, are attracted on different levels to each other and have attained as individuals a certain level of emotional stability. That ensures you are not in a so-so or dissatisfying relationship but a great one. The couple I described above are by no means the picture perfect individuals you would expect. He has Asperger’s, she is a workaholic. But they don’t let either the disability or tendency to chase ever-higher goals prevent them being together and nourishing their relationship. I believe that comes down to their exceptional emotional maturity and recognizing a good fit when they meet it instead of chasing the latest hit of chemistry that comes their way.

  2. 2
    Yet Another Guy

    As Barbara mentioned, thanks for posting this blog entry.   While I do not see myself remarrying, I would like to eventually share my life with a woman.   I am currently struggling with defining what “sharing my life” entails.  What I desire from a woman has changed quite a bit since my ex and I first separated, which is weird because I thought I knew exactly what I wanted when I started this journey.  I also realize that I turn and run every time a woman attempts to get close to me.  I am trying to keep it light, airy, and fun.   A lot of older women are so hungry for closeness with a decent guy that they fail to realize that they are scaring the bejesus out of him.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, the original

      YAG,

      A lot of older women are so hungry for closeness with a decent guy that they fail to realize that they are scaring the bejesus out of him.

      There are a lot of older men like this, too. Especially if they just got divorced and the spouse left them or the marriage was bad.

      1. 2.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Emily,

        You commented a few days ago about your college days and all the socially awkward guys on your campus.

        I have noticed the same thing! Now being on campus with the eyes of an adult you see and notice so much more than you did when you were a young confused kid like all the rest.

        I think in general there are more men who fit into YAG profile then women (though of course I can’t speak for older men and women).

        This may not be politically correct to say but it just seems like even socially awkward women a.k.a women so hungry for closeness still instinctively know how to interact and be around people of the opposite sex or just how to act around people in general. But I have noticed that if a man is socially awkward around “people” it doubles around a woman that gives him a little attention.

        I’m not talking about flirting or trying to ask him out, I mean just a woman who gives a friendly hi or ask how was his weekend.

        And OMG PLEASE don’t let her be attractive! He then starts dancing dangerously close to creepy stalker territory. Again I know women are the same but it’s not as open and blunt.

        At best, most of the socially awkward women I see are very reserved, quite and shy as their default mode of operation.

        I’m not saying it doesn’t happen with women; I am just saying that I see it more in men than in women.

        1. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,

          At best, most of the socially awkward women I see are very reserved, quite and shy as their default mode of operation.

          I think I know what you are writing about. That the socially awkward men you know seem exponentially more awkward than the socially awkward women you know  ??

          In terms of where I went to college, imagine Berkeley but smaller. Very crunchy/granola. The students were very smart but very nerdy. I was, too, but I tried to mask it under platinum blonde hair and bright red lipstick. I felt very out of place.

      2. 2.1.2
        Greg

        Emily:

        Quite true.  Divorced for six years. Many dates. I am now 60.   3 s/t relationships & 1 long term that nearly went the distance but she got cold feet because of my move (career) to Texas.  (Long story but the usual) She was my best friend and at the end I wanted her to be happy because the long distance just did not provide her the life she wanted. Any alternative other than my moving to back to Chicago made her “nervous” which caused even more distance between us. I guess I scared the “bejesus” out of her.

  3. 3
    Stacy

    I would not date someone without seeing the possibility of marriage at this point. While I am not racing to the altar by any means, I won’t date a guy that I can’t see myself marrying (and I would need to feel that he feels the same way over time). I was married before but only for a short time (4 years). And, I refuse to let that experience haunt the possibility of what could be. And while marriage is not for everyone (and especially if you’ve done it a time or two), I still see it as the ultimate commitment (and it is – legally, financially, and physically). The real issue is that we sometimes marry the wrong person.

    The guy I am dating now told me recently that he is really enjoying the relationship. I don’t nag. I give him more than enough space. He can tell me just about anything (and yes, that includes convos about other women), I don’t try to change him and I highly respect him (and vice versa).  So yes, the person you’re with has to be your best friend else what is it all for? My ex husband and I were not compatible in so many ways but I still took the plunge because I was caught up with chemistry. Boy have I learned. I just thank God for second chances.

    1. 3.1
      Marika

      Stacy 

      Congratulations. That’s awesome!  I was also married to a “10” chemistry-wise, but it only lasted a few years. I’m impressed with your ability to form a new, happy relationship that’s clearly very different from your marriage. You sound calm and content. Do you mind me asking what you looked for/focused on when dating?

      I’ve been dating for a few years now and I’ve been on over 100 first dates. I seem to be doing a combination of over correcting from my ex, or falling again into the chemistry trap with unavailable guys, or having what Malika describes as ‘beige dates’. I’ve benefitted enormously from Evan’s work and have opened up to a range of ages, looks, education levels, etc, as well as online dating prolifically. Was there a point at which it “took” for you? Was there something you did to change it up?

      Here’s my last few weeks dating: a lunch date with a very attractive guy who’s been messaging me prolifically & flirting non stop fot weeks (he’s been away for work), but who then couldn’t manage to ‘find a time’ for another date before going away again, a beige date with a lovely guy who felt more like a brother, a date with a hyper guy with no filter who asked me for money to pay his rent (as he’d been robbed the day before) and the reappearance of another beige guy I hadn’t heard from in weeks (and I assumed was not interested)! Oh dear…

      I’d love to put my skills to work in a relationship, but none of those are even second date appropriate!

      1. 3.1.1
        Malika

        Hi Marika:

        Your description of the last 100 dates looks pretty much like my dating life for the past couple of years.

        Over correcting from ex, check. I went on a few dates with a dude who analysed everything with the help of Excel sheets. Everything was planned within an inch of its life, and i just knew my slightly more lapsaidisical life would drive him NUTS.

        Chemistry trap with unavailable guys, check. A guy i know via friends is very into me, even though he is in a relationship. The chemistry is insane, and i know go out of my way to avoid him, as I don’t want to fall into the trap of pining away after a guy i cannot be with, that is the stuff of early twenties not a clue Malika of the past, not mid thirties enlightened Evan reader.

        Beige dates. I introduced the term, so suffice to say that there have been more than enough of those.

        I hear you, it’s tough dating, even if we are forewarned and armed with Evan’s advice and everyone’s great help in the comments section here. I would advise to just keep on going on more dates and to let these guys you described slide, as they cannot be in the kind of relationship you want, and they are taking up precious emotional bandwidth. As for the guy who wanted you to help pay his rent. Oh dear, at least he is an anecdote for the ages.

        1. Marika

          Thanks Malika

          I appreciate the support and it’s great to know I’m not alone in my dating experiences!

          I thought it through last night – maybe when you do open up to a range of people in dating, it becomes absolutely essential to have strong boundaries & to be very in touch with your instincts.

          Case in point, Mr pay my rent: while he didn’t ask for money until the second  (and last) time we went out, there were signs during the exchange numbers, chatting & texting stage, and certainly on the first date, that something wasn’t quite right. Eg he told me I’d come up as a friend suggestion on FB and proceeded to tease me like an 8th grader about my surname, he called someome else fat on our first date (and showed me her pic, it was another woman from the dating site), he repeatedly asked me to come over between dates, even when he’d asked me when I was free and we’d made a time in advance, both before the first and between the first & second dates. When I’d say, politely, that I wasn’t free (to pop over with an hour’s notice), he got all hurt & annoyed with me. Can anyone say ‘red flag’😀

          Adrian, this is why you can’t be too concerned with saying a polite no thanks when you don’t want to pursue things & worry too much about hurting them. I let it go too far with this guy & when I finally said that we weren’t right for each other etc he got borderline abusive.

          It’s great to trust, be open & be optimistic, but pple like us who are quite sensitive to other’s feelings also need to be wise. I went to great pains to very gently explain why his (ridiculous) requests to want to spend most nights together after one date, borrow money etc weren’t right for me. That’s not my job. I should’ve stopped it before it started.

          As Malika said, I don’t want to spend emotional bandwidth on this kind of thing.

          Happy to hear other’s suggestions too on navigating tricky dating scenarios.

        2. Malika

          Hi Marika:

          At least it was clear by the last second date that this guy could never be your best friend! He saved your precious time and emotional bandwidth by being an inconsiderate arse from the get go! If i remember correctly, Evan has stated that we will probably find 20% of the men we meet attractive and date worthy. We can safely relegate this guy to the other 80%.

          What you say about having strong boundaries and to listen to your instincts when you open yourself up to new dating situations is on the money. When you read Evan’s advice on how you should give people who you would never have thought of dating otherwise, it is easy to go overboard. I dated a guy a while back who was everything i ever wanted on paper. When he started spouting xenophobic and sexist vitriol on latter dates i started doubting myself. Should i walk away? Isn’t it bad seeing that Evan told me to give men a chance and not to exit a budding relationship just because it doesn’t live up to my ideal? Shouldn’t we be accepting about other opinions, even though they are not our own? Even if those opinions entail comparing women to cows ‘as they just mindlessly follow each other around’ and thinking migrants are the death knell of western society? Everyone has flaws, right? During the last date i realized that while Evan wants me to be open, he doesn’t want me to stay with a man who makes my skin crawl. I exited the situation and decided to save my open mind for people who deserve it.

          I was thinking about our frustration about our current dating situation today. I started to wonder what have i exactly gotten out of reading Evan’s advice. Dating is still exhausting, and I still haven’t met someone i would want to be in a relationship with. BUT. What i have gotten out of it (and hopefully others who are reading this site) is just as, if not even more, important than the hoped for future outcome. I have greater empathy for men and realize you shouldn’t just think about your own situation while dating, but also to look at how the other person is feeling when dating you. I also don’t put men on a pedestal anymore and lose myself in countless infatuations, which has freed my mental and emotional effort for pursuits both inside and outside the dating realm. I vow to myself to think about these wins whenever i am down on the fact that my dating life has so far not yielded the results i so dearly wish for.

      2. 3.1.2
        Stacy

         
        Hi Marika! Thanks for the congrats.:) What did I look for? For the first time  in my life, I did not focus on chemistry. Don’t get me wrong, I had to feel an attraction but it wasn’t the first on my list by any means. I focused on character…can I trust him? Does he follow through? Does he mean what he says and says what he means. If I even GLIMPSED a red flag of any significance, he was out the door (while dating).  Before my marriage, I ignored the red flags because I always listened to his words and believed what he said rather than what he did primarily.  So, even when he violated my core values, I believed the tears and the gut wrenching poems about how he will definitely change. Then, he would do it again and I would believe the fantasy rather than what was before me. The chemistry was sooo strong physically and I ignored the important things because I thought it would all work out because he wanted this. No, that is not a good strategy. When I went back to online dating, I decided to never ever again do that…to not try to justify bad behavior under any circumstances.  And, a big part of doing that was that I truly accepted that having a man is not the end all, be all and I am okay even if I ended up alone. 
         
        You know when it ‘took’ for me? When I remember my bad marriage.lol  It took when I realized that there is no way I want to be burned again. It took when I decided that my heart was deceitful and that I was going to listen to my head. What also helps is that I don’t entertain a man for long…again, as soon as I see a glaring red flag, I let him go before the heart took over…much easier in the beginning. You simply have to make the choice. It also helps if you have someone in your life who is super honest that you can talk things out with when you think you aren’t seeing very clearly.
         
        And take heart, I went on a lottttt of beige dates. It’s par for the course – part of the process if you will. You have to feel physical attraction…so beige is not good enough. But, it doesn’t have to be a 10 chemistry for you to be happy and satisfied. I think I have probably about a 6 or 7 chemistry with my guy but a 10 on compatibility with other factors. And, I do not feel one bit that I am settling.
         

  4. 4
    Adrian

    To all that care to answer…

    I’ve never been on a “beige” date but from the women who first described it on this site to me; it seemed that “beige” dates are fun and full of lively conversation

    HOWEVER…

    There is just no chemistry (-_-)…

    So how did others break it to the person that you did not want a second date?

    I understand if both parties did not feel the chemistry but my question concerns going on a “beige” date where you did not feel the chemistry but the other person felt great chemistry.

    How did you break it off with them?

    …   …   …

    I am liking the comments on this post about best friends so much better than the comments on a post Evan had a few years ago when he spoke about men making women their best friends…

    The comments in that post were pretty harsh with many women complaining that men need social skills, need more outside friends, and need to stop being so clingy and wanting to do everything with her because he has no other friends.

    I can’t tell if this is a sign that we as a community has grown or if it is just different commentors. I think we can all agree that there is a difference between a person who wants to share and be around you a lot because they see you as a best friend and a person who is just too needy and clingy.

    1. 4.1
      Emily, the original

      Hi Adrian,

      I understand if both parties did not feel the chemistry but my question concerns going on a “beige” date where you did not feel the chemistry but the other person felt great chemistry. How did you break it off with them?

      Doesn’t Evan have a template for that?  🙂    “I enjoyed meeting you but did not feel the necessary connection to proceed forward. Good luck in your search.”   (Or something like that. It can be sent in a text or email. If they badger you for a more defined reason, you certainly aren’t obligated to give one.)

      I think we can all agree that there is a difference between a person who wants to share and be around you a lot because they see you as a best friend and a person who is just too needy and clingy.

      Yes. Everyone should have some kind of hobby or passion or interest he/she had BEFORE he met his/her partner and one he/she continues to do after he/she meets his/her partner.

       

      1. 4.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Marika and Emily,

        Emily said, “It can be sent in a text or email.

        Why not just tell them at the end of the date?

        Marika said, “People have tried to shame or guilt me for saying a polite no thanks.

        This happens to me so much and I always feel incredibly guilty over it.

        I can’t remember who was the female poster that said that calling, leaving a voice message, emailing, texting, or simply ghosting on a person is just the cowards way to handle letting a person know you are not into them so I always do it face to face.

        I have found that their are two types:

        1. The one’s that though clearly disappointed, still give you a gracious thank you for the date and walk away with their heads held high.

        2. The ones who try to interrogate you… in an attempt to change you mind.

        Emily your template is great for type 1 but for type 2…

        Because the template is a lie! It is a way for us to not have to disclose the fact that they are fun but physically too fat or too skinny, too old (compared to their picture), or whatever!

        I can’t speak for others but I always run into type 2 more than type 1.

        …   …   …

        I think can’t remember the name of the old post but from what I remember, many women (not all) where complaining that their boyfriends and husbands had them as their main friend while the women had girlfriends who were their best friends

        To be fair I kind of want to re-read it because I may be taking the post out of context. I just remember it leaving a sad impression on me about wanting to have the person you date and marry become your best friend.

        1. Marika

          Hi Adrian,

          As much as we’d like to, we can’t keep everyone happy.

          I am not a fan of a face to face polite “no thanks” (as either the rejector or rejectee) early in the dating game. Later on it’s definitely the right thing to do, no matter how awkward, but after one or two or dates – notsomuch. I don’t think it’s fair to leave someone hanging, though, so a polite text is a happy medium for me. If you can handle doing it in person – more power to you, but as a person who seems to be quite sensitive you may find the face to face thing a bit draining & daunting after a while.

          Find something positive about them that isn’t a lie. There’s always something. So if you didn’t enjoy meeting them, something like “thanks for your company tonight. You seem really fun/nice/interesting (interesting can be used in pretty much all cases!), but I don’t feel that we are right for each other. I wish you all the very best (I’m assuming you always would, so that’s no lie) in your search & take care.

          If they interrogate you, just stop responding. It’s going to get you nowhere. You’ve done your bit. Sometimes things just don’t work out. If they interrogate you in person, I’m not sure! Just say a polite sorry & walk away?

          You don’t owe someone a relationship.

          From what you’ve said, you would be a great catch, so girls will be disappointed, but that’s not on you. No one wants to be in a relationship out of guilt.

          I find none of this easy myself, btw, and its a learning curve. I have a tendency to stay in bad situations way too long as I don’t want to hurt people, but in the end it helps no one to stay if you’re not feeling it.

          Karl R has some great comments in this regard and he’s able to put things in a way I hadn’t considered (about honesty, ‘ethical dating rules’ and letting people be responsible for their own feelings & reactions). Can’t recall which posts, though, unfortunately.

          Adrian, I actually have a feeling you won’t be single for long 🙂

        2. Marika

          Oh and PS, remember when the accountant lady said she wanted the truth from George on Seinfeld about why he was breaking up with her, and then he gave it to her (too pretentious, weird hair do) and she ended up in a mental health facility? And threw away all of Jerry’s tax papers..!

          Yep, no one wants the truth.

        3. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,

          I reiterate what Marika wrote:

          I am not a fan of a face to face polite “no thanks” (as either the rejector or rejectee) early in the dating game. Later on it’s definitely the right thing to do, no matter how awkward, but after one or two or dates – notsomuch. I don’t think it’s fair to leave someone hanging, though, so a polite text is a happy medium for me.

          I HATE, HATE, HATE being confronted face to face. I hate being put in the awkward position of having to reject someone. Do women really ask you during the date if you want to go out again? You are not required to respond face to face to a virtual stranger. Just say, “Let me think about it. I’ll check my calendar.” When you get home, send a text saying you thought about it but have decided you’re not a match. You don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation at that early stage of dating. And you would only owe her the text if she asked about going out again on the date itself or contacted you after the date. If she doesn’t contact you and you don’t want to go out with her again, you’re off the hook. After only one date, no contact implies lack of interest. At the end of the date, if you know you don’t want another, simply say you enjoyed meeting her. Don’t make some vague promise about contacting her if you don’t want to.

          I think can’t remember the name of the old post but from what I remember, many women (not all) where complaining that their boyfriends and husbands had them as their main friend while the women had girlfriends who were their best friends

          Most men don’t have close friendships with other men, so their main friend is their partner. Women can be close with their female friends in a way that is different than with their partner. For example, women may discuss past boyfriends or famous people they’d like to hook up with. That’s usually not a conversation you’d have with a partner.

           

        4. Adrian

          Hi Emily and Marika

          I have found that this is the biggest flaw to Evan’s 2/2/2 rule… for me.

          Evan teaches to not use PUA or The Rules style tactics, so if a conversation is going well don’t play games and end it early.

          However

          I have found that if I talk to a girl for a few hours on the phone and then have a great time on the date (remember my goal is to make her laugh, smile, relax and feel comfortable), then she thinks everything is going one way while I (though enjoying her company) feel not attraction.

          This is also why I could see both sides to the coffee date debate that is currently going on in the other forum.

          You want it to feel like a date but at the same time if their is only one sided chemistry the “date” like atmosphere can add to the other person’s confusion about your feelings towards them.

          Also yes! If not for the interrogation after the polite no thank you face-to-face break ups would be no problem.

        5. Evan Marc Katz

          Sorry, Adrian, but what you observed is not a bug, but a feature. If you go on a great date and feel no attraction, you send her an email the next day wishing her the best. That is objectively FAR superior to going out with 4 strange women on 4 coffee dates in 4 days and ghosting afterwards.

        6. Malika

          Type 1 is the emotionally mature way to go. I always have great respect for a date that takes it on the chin. Type 2 is unfortunately encountered way too often. What worked for me was reiterating that i didn’t have the feelings necessary in order to move forward. If they berate you, or try to negotiate their way further into further dates, i take it as a sign that the info hasn’t really sunk in and i respectfully call it a day. Quite often it was the only answer you could give them. Nearly always, it IS due to a lack of chemistry. When it’s the rare occasion that would warrant feedback, you know an emotionally charged moment is not the right time to give it. I could say that their whiny attitude was a turn off or that they had posted misleading pictures, but that is only going to prolong the interrogation.

          Due to the proliferation of sound dating advice on the internet, you would think we are way more enlightened about the days of the dating world. We forget that only a small section actually reads these blogs and therefore don’t know how to handle a disappointing situation when someone doesn’t want to date us anymore.

        7. Adrian

          Okay I just want to make sure I have this straight.

          Marika is Australia

          and

          Malika is in the UK

          Is this correct?

          Sorry but with the L and the R being only difference I sometimes can not tell which I’m talking to.

        8. Malika

          Hi Adrian:

          Marika is indeed Australia and Malika is Northern Europe! Two very different places, but very similar regarding dating culture.

        9. Adrian

          Hi Malika, Marika, and Emily,

          Have you ever been on a date where it was clear that the person was in love, wildly attracted to, or just had great chemistry for, the fantasy of you and not you?

          How did you deal with those people?

           

          Again I have never been on a “beige” date but what I mean is going out with a person who you feel mutual attraction for but because you are so perfect on paper (to them), as well as having very great “sounding” morals, values, and goals-all this combined with your level of attractiveness makes the person not see you but the fantasy of who you appear to be.

          They don’t see (and don’t want to see) the you who is a flawed human with fears, regrets, and insecurities. The you who can be sticky, smelly, or sometimes unkind like any other person.

          … Okay this one is hard for me to explain…

          but the level of pressure is always so much that I do back off and any degree of attraction I had for them fades.

          I just feel like I can’t live up to the image they have of me in their heads.

          Whenever I try telling them I am not that great/perfect they think I am just being modest.

          So it goes for me thinking about trying to have a fun date them to me worrying about how disappointed in me they will be when they see that YES I Adrian to sometimes have a runny nose!

          …   …   …

          Anyway since we are all sharing dating stories I was just wonder if others are going through this as well and if so how do they handle it.

          Also I think age my have something to do with this. At 19 guys and girls only cared about looks or maybe they just didn’t have the back to back string of bad dates that would cause them to cling onto an average (not above) normal person in the dating world like they found something rare…

        10. Stacy

          Adrian,

          You are unusual in that regard because most people that I know (including myself) would never tell someone face to face at the end of date one that they aren’t feeling it. However, I would never allow a man to pay for my meal if I weren’t interested so there’s a (personal) sign to me. The face to face situation is just way too awkward and there is no gain/advantage to doing it that way. I still don’t know this stranger. So I always do it via text if the guy tries to do a follow up call or texts me whenever he gets around to it after the date.

  5. 5
    Marika

    Adrian

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but a few of your comments imply that you’re trying to get it all perfect and not hurt anyone’s feelings. It feels like you’re scared of just getting out there and giving it a go, in case people get hurt. While that’s admirable, it’s just not possible in dating. As long as you don’t ghost a person, just sending a polite message explaining that are fun, nice or whatever, but you aren’t right for each other is all that’s required.

    They may be temporarily hurt but will move on. If they overreact or get angry, that’s just a sign of immaturity and they wouldn’t be a good partner. That’s not for you to take on; it’s part of dating. People have tried to shame or guilt me for saying a polite “no thanks”, but I just remember all the people who have done the same to me and I took it on the chin.

    I don’t know the post you’re referring to, but I believe friendship is a must. Have you ever lived with a housemate who was nice but not a good friend? You can’t keep that up for the rest of your life (not only live together happily but completely share your lives). You don’t want to be their only friend, or feel like they don’t have a life apart from you, but definitely their friend.

  6. 6
    S.

    I never cared much for the institution, but I do believe in a partnership.  I guess, having never been married, I want someone to choose the ultimate commitment to me if I’m willing to for him.  I thought in my younger days about having a commitment ceremony but in the years since I find that men (not to generalize but just my small sample set I know or read about) just don’t treat anything less the same way. Is it the financial commitment? I don’t know.  Society doesn’t, either, and that gets tricky over time. I tried to think of another substitute but it gets difficult.

    But the logistics (finances, health insurance, etc.) aside, I want to go through it together with someone. I don’t care if he’s divorced, but I do care if he’s jaded.  I think if both people just want to live together as older adults, who cares as long as they are happy.  But I do want someone to commit for life with me because that’s what I want to offer as well.  It’s harder as one gets older, even never married men are bitter, trying to be players, or they are desperately lonely or not emotionally stable as a few commenters mentioned above.  But I still believe I’ll find my person or he’ll find me.  And his optimism about this partnership is key.

    I never thought any long term partnership would always be easy. But I do think if you choose the right person, things can be easier.

    The best friend idea is an interesting thing. I make friends fairly easier and good friends.  It has been difficult for me to be friends with men I meet online.  The mystery of whether there will be chemistry seems to overshadow everything else.  It just starts things off on that foot.  Maybe I bring that or they do, I don’t know.  I can see being best friends men I start out as friends with.  But that’s because with my friends we have so much in common: hobby, lifestyle, values.

    That commonality and best friend potential has been harder for me to find in online dating.

    1. 6.1
      Stacy

      What’s the difference (for you) between a  commitment ceremony and a marriage, especially if you want the ‘ultimate commitment’?

      1. 6.1.1
        S.

        Well, that’s kind of the point.  There is no real substitute for marriage in our culture.  But twenty years ago when I was thinking about this, I just wanted something different, I didn’t like the history of marriage and thought we (the societal we) could create something else. Back then I was also young and I didn’t really want to get married.  I didn’t want the ultimate commitment then because I wasn’t sure I could live up to that for my entire life.  Maybe I was looking for a similar but different type of partnership but that doesn’t really exist in my opinion.

        So that’s why I’ve come around to marriage. There isn’t a comparable alternative which is why people who couldn’t get legally married fought hard for the right.

        As for me, I’m all for having a lot of options and creating new paradigms.  I wish there was an alternative that would be legally recognized.  That wouldn’t carry the negative history of marriage (I know there is positive history too, but this just to answer your question). I wish that other people would treat the alternative as such as well.  But they don’t.   The legality, the financial commitment, is part of the commitment and it isn’t the same without it.  And I’ve got other systems to attempt to dismantle and one life so I’m picking other battles and not the marriage one.  It’s what we have and I’ll work with it the best that I can when the time comes.

         

         

         

         

        1. Malika

          Hi S:

          Do you have registered partnership for heterosexual couples in your country? In my country we do, and that would be the option i would choose if i would ever meet a man i would want to form a bond with for the rest of my life. It has all the legality of a marriage in my country but its wording feels more modern and free of a religious bond, which i wouldn’t want to get into as i am an agnostic. My sister has a registered partnership with her girlfriend, and that feels just as solid as a marriage, because they are most definitely best friends and romantic partners. Whenever i spend a weekend with them and see the love and loyalty in their 21 year relationship, that strengthens me in my resolve in finding what they have with a man.

          I think it comes down to the bond of the couple, everything else is just paperwork. When i think of a romantic relationship wherein he would also be my best friend, knowing that he felt like that about me and I for him, that would be enough. I have never had a relationship where those feelings were mutual, and that is something i definitely strive for.

           

        2. S.

          Hi Malika,

          No registered partnership in the U.S. as far as I know.  At least not back when I was thinking about all this years ago.  But that’s exactly the sort of thing I was hoping for then.  The legality is important. Health insurance, being considered next of kin, etc.

          The best friend thing is interesting.  Especially considering chemistry as others described above.  I’m speaking with someone right now where we can decide to be friends or date.  He mentioned friendship and my immediate reaction (internally) was ‘friends?! how can I be your friend if I want to rip your clothes off?’.  LOL.  But seriously, what makes me patient and able to have friends is the complete lack of physical chemistry whatsover in the friendship.

          That said, relationship-wise, I think being friends first is kind of the way I want to go these days.  In the end, that friendship is what endures.  Chemistry should be there too, gotta have it. But it waxes and wanes.  I wish I could say I have managed to put friendship first with crazy chemistry but I’m still learning the trick of that . . .

          Others can get to know each other and still have crazy-hot sex at the same time and still grow as friends in there relationship.  I get totally distracted by the physical.  It’s a real effort. But I think in future for me it’s one worth making.

  7. 7
    Mrs Happy

    Adrian,

    you asked Marika, Malika and Emily a question about people having a fantasy of you, but I’ll chime in with an answer too.

    Maybe you backed off from those women because they only wanted the picture perfect ideal and didn’t actually want to find out who you were. When this happens the connection feels empty.

    I have been in a relationship with a man who I only saw for a few months. Great guy, exquisite behaviour, kind. However, it dawned on me after a month or so that he wasn’t actually interested in getting to know me at all. He was at the life stage where he wanted to get married and start a family, I ticked the boxes he had on his list, and bang, that was it. He had no desire for anything other than a connection adequate to get the relationship moving to the next step. No curiosity about the real me under the presentation package.

    I was so perplexed. I regard my mind as my best asset and he just wasn’t interested in the way I thought about things, bar the basic husband and family values level stuff.

    You ask how to end something like this.  I ended it terribly badly, I am not proud of my behaviour there. Now I would say something like “I don’t think we would be a good match long term”. Trouble is, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t want to converse further after that statement. They want to know why, specifically, you don’t want to keep seeing them, and it doesn’t matter if it’s been one date or a whole relationship. Why I ended it was probably the only time I ever saw him curious about my thoughts.

    1. 7.1
      Emily, the original

      Mrs. Happy,

      Great guy, exquisite behaviour, kind. However, it dawned on me after a month or so that he wasn’t actually interested in getting to know me at all. He was at the life stage where he wanted to get married and start a family, I ticked the boxes he had on his list, and bang, that was it.

      When you broke it off, why didn’t you tell him the truth? You’ve gone out several times in your month-long relationships, right? Talked on the phone a few times? Texted? It’s not like breaking it off after one date where you don’t know someone at all so you feel uncomfortable being totally honest.

      “I don’t feel like you are trying to get to know the real me.”

      1. 7.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Hi Emily T.O.,

        During our relationship I had tried to discuss the fact he didn’t seem to be curious about me, to no avail.  He didn’t want to discuss this either, along with most other things (in any depth).  By the end, what I didn’t tell him, was how empty he appeared to be under the charm and textbook behaviour.  The relationship felt all about the superficial and just the right way to be, and by the end so did he.  It was like there was little in his mind.

        I didn’t tell him this because explaining that to me, he was vacuous ,seemed a horrific, nasty thing to say. And there were many other reasons I could and did give for the demise of the relationship.

        I suspect most breakups do not explain all the real reasons for the breakup.  We couch things politely.

        I think Adrian is having some similar experiences. People like the on-paper him, and the look of him, and aren’t getting to know the actual him. It is exasperating. I love that I now have a husband who knows and likes me. I’d far rather be appreciated for my personality than just my looks.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Mrs. Happy

          I can’t speak for Emily (or you)

          but for me whenever I try to tell someone the real reason for the breakup the thought of hurting someone just isn’t natural to me and it doesn’t feel good.

          Seeing their face and reaction when those words hit feels even worse.

          Breaking up with someone who you know really likes you and will take it bad is hard enough, why add to their pain in the guise of being truthful.

          I have actually witnessed men and women doing this; being honest because they didn’t want to lie or they wanted to help the person.

          The results were always shattering to the person’s self-esteem.

          As a female commentor in another post on this blog once said, “everyone already knows where they stand in the hierarchy of looks and they know their flaws wither they want to admit it out load or not.”

          I believe this. There is a huge difference between telling a person that they can’t dance or that they are not good building bird houses with their hands and telling a person that they are ugly or telling them that they themselves and their goals are shallow.

          …   …   …

          Just my opinion you can disagree.

        2. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          I suspect most breakups do not explain all the real reasons for the breakup.  We couch things politely.

          Sometimes in an effort to be polite and nice, we aren’t clear about what we want. I know I have been guilty of this. I broke it off with someone who I work with, but he kept texting and calling me. I told him not to contact me outside of work, assuming we could at least be civil if we ran into each other. He took that to mean he could text and call me when we were at work. He started to try my patience because he seemed to be willfully disregarding the fact I had broken it off. What I finally had to say (and what I should have originally said) was: Don’t contact me at all. Sometimes you have to be that blunt with someone.

          Men: Do you have this problem with women? After you break things off or decline a second date, do some women continue to contact you and not take no for an answer?

    2. 7.2
      Prospect

      I had a work colleague who had asked out/was interested in several of his female colleagues.  He was my line manager for a while (a bad one, had to change that).

      He became interested in me as well, but it wasn’t reciprocal.  We worked on the same team and it became uncomfortable.  He considered himself a nice guy, but he wasn’t really.  He was often quite patronising and once whilst having a discussion told me that: “I think too much”.  That’s usually code for:”I feel threatened by you”.

      He met and married a woman from Mauritius, who was the niece of a soon to be retired colleague. She was happy to be the stay-at-home wife, who looks soft and sweet and fragile but is really made of steel. In other words, perfect for him.

      My colleague, let’s call him John, saw me as a potential wife and mother.  Once I brought in a homemade cake I’d baked and he said: “You’d make a really good wife” he said sneeringly.

      Truth is that he was attracted to me, but was repelled by my habit of wanting decent conversation and to be treated with respect.  He didn’t really want to know what was under the hood either.  He was only really happy when he was telling me what to do.

      He wanted a helpmate, not a soulmate.

      And you may have had a similar experience; you fit his criteria for “wife and mother”, but he wasn’t interested in who you were, he wanted a wife and a traditional marriage.

      You would’ve been very unhappy if you had got married, I suspect that you wouldn’t be shown much love and affection.

      You had a lucky escape.

       

  8. 8
    Mrs Happy

    My apologies for the above grammatical error. Short on sleep.

  9. 9
    Marika

    Adrian

    Hahaha. It is confusing. Only one letter difference in our name, similar dating cultures and pretty much everything Malika writes I can completely relate to!

    Maybe I should throw in a g’day now & then to differentiate myself 😉

    In terms of what you described, I have experienced that. I can understand how it’s a turnoff & feels really uncomfortable. I think you give it another date or two to see if after the initial rush wears off, they calm down a bit and you can form a connection. If you can’t, you have to end it. The only consideration is to be especially careful & gentle with them when you end it as they are clearly very vulnerable.

    I think it’s important to reiterate (for both you and me), that we don’t owe anyone a relationship. And we’re not responsible for anyone else’s feelings.

    1. 9.1
      Malika

      Hi Adrian:

      Once again, what Marika says! You walk into a date thinking lets have a beer and chat and they look at you as if you are the best Christmas present they have ever received! It is very difficult for you, as you want them to be curious about you, not your outward veneer. It’s hard to develop a connection with someone who is acting like a lovesick puppy about your outer appearance, and seem to not give a rat’s arse who you really are. I have experienced it at different times. They are constantly in contact with you after the first date, seem to put words in your mouth, and want to move things along at a pace that is downright frightening. I experienced it a while back with a guy who was heavily pursuing me from the start, but would not get it into his head that i am an agnostic who does not want to have kids. He kept interrogating me about the reasons i choose to be childfree, gave me a book on attachment styles on our second date (‘Women who don’t want children often have a very difficult relationship with their father’) and tried to get me to join the religious service in town I was in no way interested in. After the fourth date I broke it off, and he accused me of being cold and shut off. Gee, i wonder why…

      It always helps to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. When you are a bit older, you can be a bit weary of dates when you have had a whole string of them whereby they just weren’t your type. Then a person walks through the cafe door, and the way he/she looks corresponds to the image you have of the perfect love match. I don’t know whether you are then happy because you are meeting an attractive person or you are ecstatic because FINALLY you meet a guy you can be excited about instead of a date that will go nowhere, as most do. I wager it’s both, and those cocktail of feelings are intoxicating. They bring out the worst in you, and drive a person away you could have otherwise have had a great connection. Modern culture with all it’s novels of tempestuous loves and rom coms seem to encourage this behaviour and we hardly ever get the message that we need to tone it down and give the other person room in order to get to know you.

      It’s sad, but if you feel that they will never give you the space you need, you need to break it off for your own wellbeing. An e-mail or Whatsapp message, carefully worded, is sufficient stating that you do not feel the same way that they do and that you wish her well. It may sound cold, but a face to face meeting is going to be very awkward if it has only been one or two dates.

      1. 9.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Marika, Malika, and Mrs. Happy,

        I am so glad that I have met you three.

        If I try to explain this to anyone offline they seem to think that I am pompous and arrogant-though ironically those same people are the main ones who tell me to have more confidence when I say I wish I was taller, better looking, more knowledgeable about women, etc.

        I think people want others at or “slightly” below their level. To high and you make them feel inferior, too low and you make them feel guilty and uncomfortable.

        So I am glad I have this site to talk to like-minded people about a situation I am facing without being judged… and in fact I have found others who have experienced it themselves.

        …   …   …

        As far as the discussion, unlike YAG what scares me off is not the other person trying to get really close to me to strongly.

        What scares me off is the other person not seeing me and the pressure of knowing I can’t live up to their image of what they “think” I am.

        In college I dated someone like that once and to my young inexperienced self  this was GREAT! I was never the popular kid in high school so that level of attention from a girl was intoxicating and ego boosting.

        However, what I quickly began to realize was that whenever I did not live up to her “perceived” image of me, her disappointment always made me feel guilty like I let her down though I was just being a normal human boy.

        Plus it pigeon holds you into a role that you may not want. For example many women think I am a “non-human” man who does not want to sex or to make out simply for the sake of lust; they only see me wanting love… SO all sexual activity has to have some huge romantic prelude in their eyes.

        This sucked whenever I did want to make out without the romance and the woman would say “now most guys would just want to kiss and make out but I am glad you are not like that (tears!)

        I think sometimes women can’t tell the difference between a guy who is just respectful and a guy who is a eunuch. Just because I have enough admiration for women to know that there is a time and place for everything doesn’t mean that I don’t want a women to try to entice me or be sexual around me

        …Though as I get older, I am starting to think that the reason most women don’t try to be sexy for their boyfriends is because they are so use to being with guys who will have sex with her simply because she is a woman; regardless of her effort (or lack thereof) to by sexy for him…

        …   …   …

        Oh and Malika I am not sure about northern Europe but here in America religion is HUGE.

        To the point where I have been morally raped by others beliefs.

        What I mean is, I was always taught that when a women says no to sex it means no and when a women says maybe treat it as a no.

        If you try to force sex with her with any answer but a yes you are raping her.

        Religion is like that, I have been on dates where the women asks if I believe in this or go to that church. I always tell the truth which is that I am not sure about religion (though I spend more time volunteering for needy people and children than many of the loudest religious people I know of).

        Whenever women hear that they always take it as an okay to “force” me to come to their church or to speak to their religious leader. I think part of the American dream fantasy is to go to church together with your family.

        And of course if I just say no I don’t believe then I am a Heathen that is evil and they never call me again (^_^). All the good I do doesn’t matter because I don’t believe in their god. It is not about doing good things it is about believing in their good.

        Sadly most women will take the guy who says he believes but doesn’t do any “goodly/godly” actions over the person who says he doesn’t believe but spends weekends volunteering for needy families, homeless people, and orphaned children.

        …   …   …

        I am curious… As women what are the things that men see in you that makes them think you hung the moon and poop gold?

        A sub-sub of a subbed-sub conversation went on in another post where the men said that they don’t care about a women’s job, degrees or anything like that and the women acknowledged this was true-though they were not happy about it.

        So now I am curious, when men see you women as the perfect women without getting to know you is it only based on how you look and your body shape?

        Or is it based on more?

        …   …   …

        Marika

        Though today there are many famous Australian actors and actresses that have appeared in American movies the only Australian I think of when I hear g’day is Crocodile Dundee.

        I kinda don’t want to picture his face everything I read one of your comments (O_o)…

        (^_^)

        1. Marika

          Adrian

          Happy to help – that’s what this site is all about 😊

          In Australia it’s the opposite re religion. Unless you sign up to a religious dating site or the person specifically mentions religion in their profile, it’s unlikely to come up as a topic. People are much more coy here about asking personal questions about topics like religion. So I can’t speak to that in detail. In fact, I don’t talk about believing in God at all on dates (I’m marginally religious).

          The main issue you discuss, while it has happened to me a few times, is not common. I think maybe because you are wise beyond your years (I can’t imagine you’re posting shots of yourself partying & drunk with 8 women!), caring & attractive, people are putting you on a pedestal. Maybe give some thought to what you’re writing in your profile. For instance, for various reasons I had to remove my profession. Maybe don’t mention your charity work? Put some semi sexy shots (in good taste) to show you aren’t a monk.

          There must be things you’re saying or showing that are making women have high expectations even before they meet you, if this is a common occurrence for you. Some subtle ‘rebranding ‘ may help.

        2. Mrs Happy

          Adrian,

          re  your query “As women what are the things that men see in you that makes them think you hung the moon and poop gold?”

          I know Evan says men don’t care about a woman’s job or degrees or anything like that, and men only care about a woman’s looks, willingness to be sexual with them, and how she makes him feel. There is a current “Are you a great girlfriend? Are you sure?” thread on this very topic.

          However I don’t think just the hot/sexual/sweet trio is it. Granted men find those parameters important, but it is a vulnerable man who is with a woman mainly because she makes him feel good.  Most of the men I have asked want some intelligence, character, substance, not just looks and sex and their woman fawning/being easy. However most of the men I’ve asked are very smart themselves, as that is who I come into contact with in my work environment and befriend. They want to date, and they marry, smart women over just hot women. Maybe for Evan, a woman who makes him feel good about himself, is the priority.  That doesn’t mean it’s the main priority for everyone.

          I don’t know why men have flocked to me during my life. I’m pretty but not a supermodel. Pre-children I had a good body but not perfect, and I was definitely a type, big breasts, small waist, notable features, long striking hair, that some men like but others not so much. But I didn’t spend time fawning over men or making their lives easy. During my 20’s I was probably an entitled princess really. (Oh the shame now I look back.) I baked them cakes and dinners (because I liked to). I liked sex. I was very busy with my own life, travel, and career, and didn’t sacrifice much for boyfriends or fiancees. I had a very “take it or leave it” attitude to men, they were disposable, if I broke up with one I’d have a male friend hit on me literally that same night so men seemed in never-ending supply.  I suspect I am on the same wavelength as many men. I am really blunt. I am logical, I think analytically. I can’t stand airy fairy crap like horoscopes or believing in God or homeopathy.  I don’t care about lots of things women like, such as shopping or interior decorating.  I make a lot of money. Until I had children I preferred the company of men to women.

          Obviously for some men this combination was wildfire. But I am not everyone’s cup of tea.

      2. 9.1.2
        Nissa

        Malika,

        I am so glad to hear of someone else having this experience. When I say it to people I am always worried that they will think I’m just being full of myself. But you explained very well how it’s that feeling of your date only seeing the veneer, the trying to move the relationship along at a dizzying speed, and the not listening when you try to tell them who you are.

  10. 10
    Marika

    PS Adrian

    You don’t know Nicole Kidman??

  11. 11
    Karl R

    Evan said:

    “I recall reading somewhere that 2/3’s of marriages aren’t happy marriages.”

    I think that was a flawed report. As far as I can tell, Emily Esfahani Smith (a columnist with a psychology degree) claimed that only 30% of marriages were happy … without offering any support for this number. This was subsequently reported by CBS News.

    Another author (and filmmaker), Dana Adam Shapiro, stated his (unsupported) belief that only 17% of marriages were happy. This was subsequently reported by BuzzFeed.

     

    If you rely on data, most marriages are happy.

    2002 National Survey of Families and Households: 50% of marriages are very happy.

    The National Opinion Research Center: 60% of marriages are very happy.

    GFK Roper Poll: 75% of marriages were good marriages.

    2010-2011 Survey of Marital Generosity: 77% of women and 80% of men are satisfied or very satisfied with their marriages.

    The Lifestyle Poll Project (focused on highly educated people): 86% of marriages are very happy, extremely happy, or perfect.

    University of Chicago, Trends in Wellbeing Study: 97% of marriages are pretty happy or very happy.

     

     

    1. 11.1
      GoWiththeFlow

      Karl R,

      Thanks for the info.  I was always suspicious of that 30% statistic.

      I think there also may be confusion about the issue because of how people define a “happy” marriage, especially in the mind frame of readers seeing such statistics.  Some people may view happy as being that the two spouses are constantly giddy and on cloud nine.  I would say a happy marriage is one where the two partners are content.  There are ups and downs with bad periods and some giddy periods worked into the mix, but overall, they like and are comfortable with heir spouse and feel their needs are satisfied and aren’t looking to jump ship.

    2. 11.2
      Henriette

      But…. wait a second.  If about 40% of marriages end in divorce and a small but significant percentage of couples separate but never divorce (for religious reasons, health insurance concerns, etc), how can 97%  or even 60% of marriages be very happy?

    3. 11.3
      ScottH

      If these “valid” surveys on the same thing range from 50% to 97%, that pretty much invalidates the results, unless 75% +/- 25 is ok.  How do they define happy or pretty happy?  Maybe asking if the people were ever happy at some time might get into the 90’s.

      Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.’  (Aaron Levenstein)

  12. 12
    Robert

    Short and sweet–your spouse must be your best friend and must place you as their highest priority–no one, not children not friends cAn come first. Anything else is just FWB.

    Any woman who places her (especially adult children) children or friends above me is gone in a heartbeat. Now, I don’t expect her to have this attitude on the first date. But, when she asks me to be exclusive to her, and if I agree, then it becomes a necessity or I will walk. And if I get the hint that she isn’t mature enough (yes, I said mature enough) in this respect early on in the dating process, then I’ll just ghost her. If she isn’t able to move past HS by age 45, she’s never going to.

    1. 12.1
      Henriette

      Robert, at what point do you become exclusive with the women you date?  Evan recommends a timeline of about 6 weeks.  If a man I’d known less than 2 months made me a greater priority than his own children, I would find it unnatural and disturbing.

  13. 13
    Henriette

    Thank you for this, @Evan.   I have read the work of several psychologists and marriage therapists who claim that a romantic couple should never be good friends since this takes away the sexual excitement from their relationship.  I found these assertions troubling, since healthy friendship and romance has, in my experience, always shared a great overlap: respect, willingness to think the best of the other person, kindness, trust…  Now, this does not mean that I would ever treat a partner exactly as I treat my girlfriends (discussing the details my latest gyno appt, venting in the way that women tend to do with each other, reviewing our fashion choices, etc.) but my best boyfriends have also always been good friends as well as lovers to me.  Why would I desire anything less?

  14. 14
    Malika

    Hi Henriette:

    You are right, the healthiest relationships i have ever had involved all the good things i have with my friends, male and female, with the added sexual click that elevates into a romantic relationship. I don’t think any man could replace the special role my close friends have (the added history of growing up together and experiencing the five million things we have together has its own special flavour) but the intimacy and love definitely has to be there otherwise you are just bed and house partners, nothing more. I don’t think i would go as far as saying that anyone is my best friend, as different people in my life fulfil different roles. A boyfriend does need to be a close relationship though, and the person i would turn to first, for both challenges and celebrations.

  15. 15
    No name

    I just wanted to give some advice to married men, whether newly married or not, to make your wife your best friend. Develop an emotional, physical, and any other possible connection with HER and her alone. I am single, never married, no children and have avoided to the best of my ability well meaning, but married men like the plague. My latest encounter involved my good friend who recently got married. I broke off our friendship before he got married to his disapproval. He still emails me and tells me what is going on in his life, but one thing he told me was that he still thinks about me! No! Bad! We never had a physical connection, but  a strong emotional one where we literally spent hours talking on the computer. I miss him, but knew I had to nip it in the bud. So men, make your wives your best friend. Us single women are not looking to be home wreckers. God speed.

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