Do You Want Him to Lie to You?

You may say you want 100% honesty from your partner, but what happens when you get it? Feelings are hurt. Egos are bruised. Fights ensue. Today’s episode was inspired by a specific incident at work when I hurt someone’s feelings but had no idea how to avoid it. You want to understand why your boyfriend is so frustrating? Listen to this podcast; it will definitely challenge you.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Stacy

    Evan, it’s like you’re aging backwards.:)

    I like brutal and complete honesty. I never understood people being offended by the truth. If I ask my man if I look good in an outfit, I want him to tell me if it looks bad or doesn’t suit me (for example). Why ask the question if you can’t handle it? It makes no logical sense to me.

  2. 2
    Noquay

    I’m honest with people (if asked) that I find something unattractive or a turn off IF it’s something they have the ability to change, such as social filters, language, presentation, grooming, poor or inaccurate on line photos or profile. If it’s something they cannot change such as height, build, skin problems, facial or other features, I keep my mouth shut. That which I find unattractive may be attractive to someone else and why cause hurt over something they cannot change.

    1. 2.1
      sterling

      Well put Noquay.  You said this very well.  As we say we like the truth, it really stings sometimes no matter how well the person who said it.  Sometimes it is a no win situation.  And sometimes we just have the white lies that we have to deal with and I am referring to your last statement.

  3. 3
    Stacy2

    Nothing is more overrated than “being honest and direct”, especially in the context of romantic relationships and/or with unsolicited opinions. This is really just a male euphemism for being rude, obnoxious, clueless, socially inept or a jerk, or some combination of the above. Women who behave in the same way are being referred to as “intimidating”.

    In real life, I never ever offer negative opinions. Not to my acquaintances, not to my colleagues, or friends or family, not unsolicited not if asked. And I appreciate that they do same, if that is “lying to me” than sure, please lie to me. What I found is that this eliminates conflict. Mostly, I really don’t give a shit about what any individual person thinks. Most things are subjective anyway, they may not like something about me, but somebody else might like that same thing. Over the long-run I get enough of a feedback loop to adjust my behaviors according to the majority of people’s reactions, and I don’t need any one individual  to share his “truth” if its negative.

    Clearly, this does not and should not apply to consequential stuff. I don’t want him to “lie” on his tax returns… But if he thinks my ass looks fat in those jeans, he can shove it. Cause clearly, I disagree, and that’s all that matters.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Ironic, Stacy2, because pretty much all you’ve ever done here was offer “honest, direct” as well as blunt and tactless feedback to both me and other readers. Hard to believe you’re completely different in real life, but that’s okay.

      1. 3.1.1
        Julie

        First to Evan …  HA HA HA HA HA

        Second, you know what I say.  I say ” hurt with the truth any day than a lie”.  If we all want to walk around ignorant to the truth to not have conflict, than really there are no relationships worth having, of any sort.  The basis of all great relationships is Trust, which comes from TRUTH.  So if my ass looks fat in my jeans, by all means tell me, but in the nicest way possible.  We don’t have to be harsh and cruel with our truths, we can be compassionate too you know!  If you keep fooling yourself and fooling others, the only thing you end up as …  is a fool.  A lie is a lie is a lie.  Even just the ones we tell ourselves.

      2. 3.1.2
        Stacy2

        That’s true, perhaps I am overcompensating online. Yet this is the best illustration of my point, it creates conflict, people get offended, this is clearly not the way to go through life IRL.

    2. 3.2
      Stacy

      @Stacy2

      You said, ‘Nothing is more overrated than “being honest and direct”, especially in the context of romantic relationships and/or with unsolicited opinions. ‘

      I did not know that being honest and direct had anything to do with being obnoxious, rude, etc.  If someone is obnoxious, they can do so even if they constantly lie. One completely has nothing to do with another. And having unsolicited opinions is also a completely different approach as well (unless Evan alluded to this as being the same thing in his commentary which I have yet to watch).

      And of course when concerning colleagues at work or people you don’t know, you have to be intentionally tactful. But why be with a partner who you can’t be honest and direct with. Like, I truly don’t even see the point. Or, are you that insecure to not be able to handle it?

  4. 4
    sterling

    Hmmm…Somehow I got the drift this question from Evan is not about “Do I look good in this outfit?”  Maybe I am wrong here.

    Recently I had a guy say something to me in bed and was honest and said he did not like what I was doing.  That is the place to be honest.  It was a surprise to me to be honest but I accepted that and we should be honest in bed.  Having said that, he is not that great in bed and quite frankly he is not the type for me to be honest with him in bed.  Meaning same MO even before I came into the picture and at 60 some years old, I know he could not take me being honest with him.  Is this a deal breaker?  Possible.

    Having said the above.  I agree with Stacy2, there are real lies and white lies

    1. 4.1
      Emily, the original

      It was a surprise to me to be honest but I accepted that and we should be honest in bed.

      I think you can say what you mean without saying it meanly. Maybe it would have been better for him to tell you what he did like that you did and encourage you to do it more. As a general rule, there has to be a happy medium between lying/avoiding conflict and having no filter. People often use the excuse of “being honest” when they express every thought in their head.

      1. 4.1.1
        sterling

        True Emily.  Nicely put and I totally agree with your last line.

      2. 4.1.2
        Julie

        If you love someone unconditionally, as it should be, then why would you ever want them to be anything but themselves?  If you are being intimate with your partner, wouldn’t you want them to feel fantastic?  If you are doing something they don’t like, or don’t like just in that moment, then what is wrong with being honest?  The only way you grow is by learning.  If you don’t learn your partner, then how will you grow with them?  When people don’t keep growing together, they grow apart.  No matter how great a relationship you are in, they all take putting the effort into it to keep it going and connected and magical.  If you have the truth, then you have power.  Because then you can change what needs changing.  But if you want to tip toe around it, you are missing out on that connection and deep trust.  If your partner is happy and you are happy then you both win.  Being honest about what you like, don’t like or need is all a part of being in a relationship.  It should  not be a general rule to balance lies with truth.  At what point do you draw the line?  When is acceptable to lie, when is it acceptable not to.  Build your relationships on a solid foundation of trust.  If you do, your partner will feel loved and accepted for exactly who he/she is and feel free to be themselves.  If you don’t like their real selves, then you shouldn’t be together.  If someone can’t express how they feel, then what kind of a relationship are they really in.

  5. 5
    April

    I like honest and direct. I also like a man who is emotionally mature enough to handle it right back. Many aren’t.

    The benefit to honest and direct is that you know where you stand and how they see things and think. It helps you understand him better. And vice versa.

    Life is short. Lies generally suck. I’d rather spend time and energy doing things that are genuine. If you hate a meal I cook, hate how I do something in bed, think my outfit makes me look fat, don’t want to be exclusive…just say it. I’m a big girl. While I may not want to *hear* it, I’ll respect the honesty and the fact that you respect me enough to not play with my feelings, waste my time or bullshit me.

  6. 6
    AAORK

    HA HA this article reminds me of something a wise and kindred spirit once told me, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” For guys dealing with a woman who claims “Just tell me the truth!”, the challenge of satisfying this demand involves precise timing; how to “set her free” while side-stepping the inevitable shit-storm that follows … 🙂

  7. 7
    Susie

    At the end of the day, I am the one in charge of my feelings and reactions. No one has the power to hurt my feelings unless my ego is leading my experiences. Am I always good at that? No, but I’m much more aware than I have been and would prefer honesty. 🙂

  8. 8
    Nissa

    What you could have said is, “What you did was great, but I’m not ready yet“. This is the actual truth. It’s what Kim is sensing – she knows you well enough to know you are annoyed, and feels that. So anything other than that feels false. She knows you are trying to be nice, but that’s your intellect overriding your emotion, so it seems “passive-aggressive”. For the record, I don’t think you were passive aggressive. I do think that you were annoyed and it showed, coming across as “I’m a nice guy but you did something wrong that annoyed me”.

    I’m sure it also came across that you were feeling a little pressured to do this, and a little angry at yourself for not being as prepared as Kim was, and how you expected yourself to be. This anger you had at yourself would have be seen by Kim but likely interpreted as anger at her. I’m sure you were a little angry with her for “putting you in that position” – that’s the emotion you had – even though your intellect told you it wasn’t really your fault and that emotion was unreasonable.

    By saying “I’m not ready yet” this statement does not make her wrong. It puts the focus on you and your unreadiness and not-yet-resolved emotions – the real source of the conflict. It helps the recipient realize that you are dealing with your emotions, even the unspoken ones. This redirect allows the recipient to not feel the sting of implied wrongdoing.

  9. 9
    Tara

    Evan, I think there are more levels to the conversation than you are expressing.  The surface level in all relationships, whether personal or professional is necessarily laced with social “lubricant”. And yes, women are generally better than men at interpreting the appropriateness or necessity of this, or the degree to which it is best employed.  These social “white lies” you reference are basically being thoughtful, polite and considerate of other’s feelings.  Yes, tact does separate us from barbarism and successful males from those shall we say…  less than desirable?

    This is entirely a separate issue from emotional honesty in things that really MATTER in relationships.  Whether or not a boyfriend/husband “should” make his woman feel secure by restraining his desire to gawk at other women’s breasts and asses in her presence is not a matter of “speaking his truth”.  It is showing reasonable respect to his partner, or NOT.

    Basic respect and consideration of a lover’s feelings ideally comes from a place of “intelligent love”, (yes I just coined that  phrase), not FEAR of eggshells…  Those males incapable of making that evolutionary leap really do not need to contributing to the gene pool.

    My main point is that there is a huge difference between tactful, intelligent love in all the small daily interactions that build a life with another person, and the overriding TRUTHS of a relationship. These truths have nothing to do with how she looks wearing jeans, or whether he really looks sexy with the metrosexual beard and receding hairline.

    These truths have to do with whether he really would prefer an open relationship, but is afraid to be honest about it (until 10 years down the road when she has bore him two children and he is caught with his pants down on his best friend’s wife), for example.  Or, that she actually has bisexual leanings when her husband is a born again Christian..  some truths really should be told.

    Such truths would include addictions, secret sexual deviancies or financial problems;  sexually transmitted diseases, past mafia connections, or criminal convictions.  This is where you don’t want to skim the surface of the truth with eachother.  This is where you dig deep and scrape the bottom of the barrel.  Real life gets messy.

    Don’t sweat little white lies that just make other people feel better.  That’s the easy part of life.  Part of being a mature, intelligent person is learning to seperate the wheat from the chaff and and then taking pleasure in baking bread for the one you love if they don’t know how (or are just having a bad day).  Breaking bread together is so much more meaningful that way, and your significant other much less likely to eat out.

    Speaking your truth to your partner means opening the door so they are conversant with all the skeletons in the closet before buying the house, and then giving them the keys if they still want them.  This is real love.

     

    1. 9.1
      Stacy

      @Tara

      I REALLY enjoyed your post. However, I guess I don’t prefer even the little white lies from my partner that are supposed to be harmless. I struggle with finding the necessity of this. Why would it be better if something makes me feel better by lying about that something? Eh…to each his own.  Apart from that imo, your post spoke to me.

      And of course there are different levels of lying.  Whether or not someone looks ‘fat’ in a dress versus someone having an addiction are worlds apart.  But both lies have the same foundation – to deceive. And while one lie is much less harmful, it’s still giving me a false sense of how I look and to me, that is not cool.  Again, I don’t understand, if I ASK a question of my partner, he should be able to express the truth. The problem is, people tend to not be able to handle it and I think that is the real issue that must be fixed. Also, people define ‘white lie’ very differently. I am in a relationship but there was a guy I dated online before that claimed he was 6 years younger than he really was (he later confessed after 4 months in). For him, it was a white lie. For me, it went way beyond that.

  10. 10
    John

    There is an old saying:
    If a man speaks and a woman doesn’t hear – Is he still wrong?

    If you tell a woman the truth and she gets pissed off, it is best not emotionally react by getting angry. This is were most men fall short. Stay calm and let the shit storm pass without getting involved in it.

    No man is responsible for a woman’s feelings. If she feels insecure, it is her insecurity and it isn’t a man’s job to fix it.

     

  11. 11
    Addie

    First of all, I understand and sympathize with, as well as appreciate that men are generally trying their best to please us, while not usually understanding how, as, I’ve been told, our thought (and feeling) processes are a bit different. But let me just try to break this down in a simple, human way. Although I am a woman and naturally adore compliments from my man, just as it’s natural for him to revel in appreciation and respect, I value his solid attention more than anything. I’m happy to listen to just about anything if it’s presented by a person who’s paying attention to me (not just his or her own thought processes) and speaking with care and love.

    I say why not have it all? I do not believe it has to be either/or. Perhaps we could begin the transition out of our head and into our heart. What about loving, honest communication? Certainly the point about not tackling an important communication thru text email is extremely valid. I think, Evan, your first acknowledgment in your email of your appreciation for your colleague’s weekend work was part of your honesty, no? Seems like it was heartfelt and your communication would have been incomplete without it. For her to demand “honesty” without the frosting and accusing you of passive-aggressive behavior was insulting, especially since she knows you well. I do understand the mitigating circumstances there, but I guess my point is that we don’t need to blast people with our truth, that’s just indulging. Why not take the time to love them with the truth and thus grow closer?

  12. 12
    Castanha

    Hi Evan. My problem is the opposite. I’m also a lover of truth and most of the time I’m perceived as too direct and blunt. But I started to realise that my boyfriend of 7 months is the opposite, sometimes fluffing up his words instead of saying his truth and sometimes saying what he thinks I want to hear. I don’t know if he acts like this because of his troubled upbringing or because of the way his exs behaved. What I knew in that this is turning me off! As a 45 year old eloquent journalist, expected better communication skills from him.

  13. 13
    Barbara

    Hello there!

     

    thank you for this podcast! It’s true that the truth is hard to handle if it doesn’t “fit” our expectations. I do prefer honesty, although it might lead to arguments. I expect honesty in return as well. Now, I also think that I have a hard time at handling honesty if it is about sensitive topics that are linked to my core values. We’re all different and we should accept each other. But we should also be honest, and respectful. Whereas at sometimes in nowadays society we get trapped in just being “polite” and “politically correct ” and we leave humanity and spontaneity (and the honesty it implies ) out of the equation. Looks like we’re too prone to run from tricky situations than to work on them because there’re plenty of easier options (that’s what we think anyway).

  14. 14
    Stacy2

    I’ve listened to the entire podcast.

    Evan:

    on the actual issue at hand that you had with your co-worker, this is waaayyy too over-analyzed . Take it from a person who manages people… If i was in this position as a manager, my email would be very different from what you wrote. I would say:

    “hey, saw you set this up over the weekend – thanks a lot. But I am not ready to go yet, still working on my part, how about we discuss more after we come back from the weekend? Enjoy your time with the family”.

    Boom. The more we analyze and overanalyze the more there’s room for misunderstanding.

    ===

    On the “white lies” – they’re called white lies for a reason. It’s great that you acknowledge that “your way is not the only way to be”, please also realize that the “extreme honesty” you’re advocating is actually a sign of a spectrum condition and will lead to struggles in virtually all aspects of one’s life. This is a handicap, not an asset, and certainly not something we should strive for if we are aiming to be successful in the society which is based on interactions with other humans.

    For further readings:

    https://www.livescience.com/17407-pathological-liars-honest-psychology.html
    On the opposite end of the spectrum are those rare individuals who might be described as “pathological truth-tellers.” These people forego socially convenient and appropriate fibs to speak the unvarnished, upsetting truth.
    Intriguingly, this “lying handicap” is a common feature of the developmental disorder high-functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.
     

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/201003/field-guide-the-truth-teller-i-cannot-tell-lie

     

    1. 14.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Stacy2,

      If you are going to diagnose me with Aspergers from afar on my own blog, I will remind you: you have been disinvited from particpating here. The only reason your comments appear is because my assistant doesn’t know to get rid of you, and I wanted to try to give you another shot. You don’t deserve it. As always, your comments slip from opinions to insults effortlessly. In other words, “pot, kettle, black.” Goodbye.

      1. 14.1.1
        Lia

        Thank you for giving her the boot!!! I learned to skip her comments early on yet she still managed to poison the discussions because other people whose comments I do read would be responding to her lunacy.

    2. 14.2
      Marika

      Oh dear…

      One of the many reasons Aspergers was removed from the most recent version of the DSM was comments like this from armchair psychologists who don’t understand Spectrum disorders whatsoever…dangerous territory indeed.

  15. 15
    Jeremy

    Content and context.  It’s all about understanding which is of primary concern to the person with whom we are comminucating.

     

    I, like most men, tend to focus primarily on content.  My wife, like most women, tends to focus on context.  I learned early on in my marriage that if I communicate a difficult message to my wife in a blunt way, she tends to get upset – and so I thought that I needed to hide the truth from her.  This was incorrect, and she did not appreciate it.  Rather, she wanted me to communicate the truth to her in a loving context.  This did not come naturally to me, but I learned to do it.  Speaking gently, smiling (when appropriate), maintaining eye contact.  Because although the truth of the message is important, more important is the loving context – without that context, what she hears is not my content but rather the lack of love.

     

    And, having said that, some truths are unnecessarily harsh and should be kept to one’s self if there is no benefit to sharing them.  Not every thought that enters one’s head should exit one’s mouth.

    1. 15.1
      Addie

      You said it beautifully, Jeremy, better than I was able. How beautiful that you were able and willing to evolve and thus learn to create a better connection with another human (that you love). I’m awed by this and have so much appreciation for your taking the time to understand and include another’s needs and way of expressing. So so true what you said. I’m like her. I’m willing to hear your communication, but the presence and feeling is of paramount importance. I’m afraid it’s far more about connection than content for us (women). Thank you for that.

  16. 16
    Helene

    I defy any relationship to survive: ” Honey, I love you but truthfully your penis is rather dissapointingly small and yes, my ex boyfriend WAS a better lover than you.”

    or: ” You know, your erectile dysfunction IS a big deal, its tedious and offputting and yes, it does make me see you as less of a man….”

    Some things, once said, can never be unsaid – from a pragmatic point of view what possible PURPOSE can there be in making such a statement? In what possible way does it enhance the relationship,  or build a bond?

    Most of us know our failings and weak points, we do not need to be reminded of them by our SO in the name of “honesty.” Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy – kindness and tact are much more valuable than “honesty” as we all get older and our physical attractivness and sexual powers wane.

    1. 16.1
      D_M

      Helene!!!!!

      You have me rolling with those comments. This place is too much, each gender must get a jab or two in. In your example above, that relationship is already on the ropes. The hypothetical lady is already unfulfilled, which inevitable leads to less patience with the small stuff. Shortcomings in the bedroom contribute to relationship dissatisfaction. The truth is said lady should have moved on. No amount of willingness to compromise is going to make up for the fact that she has a frankfuter, but craves salami.

      1. 16.1.1
        Callie

        I think the larger point here is that so often men think they are the ones who are the guardians of truth and honesty and women the ones who run fearfully from it. But the fact of the matter is I cannot actually tell you how many women I have spoken with who have done what was requested, gave the unvarnished truth to a male partner only to have him get mopey, or defensive, or angry or whatever. I know so many guys who really react negatively to something as simple as:

        Man: Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?

        Woman: Actually yes!

         

        I say all this because, well, I’m one of those women who believed the request to just be honest by her male partners and saw the results. It was . . . not good. It wasn’t until my current boyfriend that I actually met someone like me who actually DID want non-sugar coated honesty. Even then, he’s way better at social niceties than I am. It’s still something I work with, my boyfriend often has to tell me after a party that I was too honest etc. I’d say people like Evan, myself and my boyfriend are the rarity, and that generally the genders are pretty much on the same page when it comes to how much they actually appreciate blunt honesty.

    2. 16.2
      Stacy

      @Helene

      Well, I vote that honesty still wins with your examples because the alternative would be to deal with faking orgasms or dealing with it.I guess its difficult for me to understand why some are seeing honesty as synonymous with being tactless.

      If my man was extremely under endowed or a bad lover or had penis problems,I would use tact by introducing toys to the bedroom or I would leave if he is opposed,(or his mouth would have to be magic)…if he wants to know why, I will discuss why kindly and I would especially discuss it if he could possibly get medical help for his problem…being honest does not mean you don’t consider the other person’s feelings and just say what comes to mind.But I will be doing him and myself no favors if I keep pretending to enjoy it which is the alternative.

    3. 16.3
      Yet Another Guy

      @Helene

      It is like a man saying, “Honey, I love you, but your vajayjay is unbelievably loose.  There is no bottom or sides.  My other woman is almost airtight.”   No guy who wants to be able to sleep without fear of being bobbitted is going to say that to a woman. I actually experienced this dichotomy once between two women with whom I was having sex.  That is when I realized that women with ample butts tend to have tighter, shallower vajayjays.

      http://www.yourtango.com/experts/how-to-get-the-man-of-your-dreams-com/all-vaginas-are-not-pleasing-male-species-assumed

  17. 17
    Helene

    The male ego is very fragile and constantly needs boosting. How to get a man to never cook a meal ever again  -tell him honestly that the dinner he’s just made wasn’t really very good. How to get his cooking to improve – tell him the dinner was great and you really want him to make it again – hopefully the second time he’ll master the recipe a bit better….

    1. 17.1
      Jeremy

      The human ego is a very fragile thing.  Neither the male ego nor the female ego is more fragile, though we have differing vulnerabilities.  The notion among women that the male ego is more fragile is due to a salience bias – something that is unusual/differs from expectations is more noticeable.  Women who believe that men “should” be more stoic notice more when men are not.  In the same way that women who believe that men “should” be less vulnerable notice when men complain when they are sick, leading to the notion of the “man flu.”  The majority of people don’t expect women to be stoic, so they don’t notice as much when women complain.

       

      How to get a man to never cook for you again – tell him that the dinner he made wasn’t good – AGREED (same for a woman).

       

      How to get a man to cook for you more often – tell him the dinner was excellent, among the excellent comments mention that you might like a bit more salt next time (for example), then have sex with him.  Double positive reinforcement with the constructive criticism sandwiched in between.

      1. 17.1.1
        Callie

        I can see your point Jeremy, and I’m sure it’s true in certain cases. But it’s also pretty well known in online dating for example that when a woman politely rejects a man he can suddenly write something like, “I wasn’t interested anyway you fat b****.”

        Heck once when I politely turned down a guy in a bar, about an hour later he sent his friend over with a message telling me I wasn’t all that and should get over myself. And I promise you all I said was I wasn’t interested, but thank you. I am so nervous rejecting anyone for anything I’m almost way TOO polite about it.

        But it’s not just about being honest about one’s negative feelings towards a guy. Just recently I was helping set up for an event with some other people, and I ended up taking charge on one element of the setup. One guy was doing something wrong and I mentioned that to him and gave him a suggestion how he might do it better. All very friendly I assure you, after all we were all volunteers. He proceeded to ignore me for a few hours until he got over it and all of a sudden started talking to me again like nothing had happened. Oh, and he also did it the way I suggested and it worked.

        My point is, a woman telling a man the negative truth can be seen by certain men as a form of rejection, as almost emasculating, and they lash out or shut down in defence. Now I am definitely not saying all men are like this, but to suggest that this fragile male ego thing comes only from women not liking it when a man shows he has a vulnerable side just doesn’t ring true to me. Though I have no doubt there are women out there who do dislike seeing men vulnerable (which really bloody frustrates me too, believe you me).

         

        (also gotta agree with Henriette and Evan, I don’t think lying and saying something is excellent when it wasn’t is the way to go. But neither is saying something is terrible even if it’s the truth. I think there’s a way to constructively critique without meanness)

        1. Chance

          “Though I have no doubt there are women out there who do dislike seeing men vulnerable (which really bloody frustrates me too, believe you me).”

           

          I’ve always found this aspect of women to be fascinating…. not because I don’t understand why they are like this, but rather because I’ve always wondered if women understood that men are just as vulnerable as women and that men just pretend that they aren’t because they know that women find it to be so repulsive.  Do women understand that men cry frequently just like they do, but that men hide it from women due to the consequences?

        2. Jeremy

          I think a lot has to do with differing  vulnerabilities, Callie, though I could be wrong. I have no doubt that some men are very sensitive to rejection in dating. I have no idea if women would be as sensitive if they had to do the lion’s share of approaching and had high levels of testosterone in their systems making them simultaneously more violent and sex-addicted.

           

          I make no excuses for the behaviour you described – it is disgusting. That is why, in most cultures,  a big part of becoming a man involved learning to control one’s emotions. Men who can’t control their emotions can be scary.

           

          But as an example of other vulnerabilities, consider rejection for sex. Men are used to being rejected, but if a man rejects  a woman for sex she often becomes convinced he is gay. They aren’t used to being rejected for sex and have differing sensitivities… One time my wife approached and I was feeling tired and saying no. She did not react well, and became convinced something was  wrong  either me or her. Later, when we could laugh  about it, I commented that if I reacted as negatively to rejection as she had, I’d have to become a monk because I’d never approach again.

        3. Callie

          ” Do women understand that men cry frequently just like they do, but that men hide it from women due to the consequences?”

          Chance – indeed we do, hence why I said it frustrates me that some women do not. Many women are very aware that men are human and have real feelings too. Alas though there are some that do not because, well, they fall prey to the exact same lies that men do – that men are not “allowed” to show emotions. It’s so toxic for everyone and it drives me crazy. I truly hate it. But yes, there definitely are women who understand that.

        4. Callie

          Jeremy – I’m not saying that there aren’t insensitive women out there but my point is that when you insist the only reason women think the male ego is fragile is due to fallacious reasoning I think you are ignoring a big part of men’s reactions to when women call them out. I would also argue that lashing out isn’t a matter of therefore men deciding not to show emotions. I would argue that lashing out is quite something different than showing real vulnerability, that it is in fact an attempt to hide that very same vulnerability. That feeling of “weakness”. Often the attempt for men to control their emotions as you say manifests exactly in this violence and lashing out. Because anger is the one acceptable emotion society says men can show (which is also BS in my opinion).

          Also while I think your wife was absolutely wrong in her reaction, don’t forget why it happened. That even here on Evan’s blog we women are told CONSTANTLY that we don’t have to do anything and sex will come to us. That it is so much harder as a man to get sex because women are gate keepers to it. If you are female, someone wants to bang you.  As many men here have said, they will have sex with even a woman they don’t find particular attractive. And so when a man rejects a woman sexually, even if it is for a very simple non-personal reason as was the case with you, it scares her because she’s been told a man will never reject a woman. In her head it means that she must be the most ugly and undesirable creature ever. So, just like a man lashes out and acts all insulting when he is rejected because he feels vulnerable, so she does the exact same thing.

          Quite frankly, I hate it all. If we could just own our emotions, feel that we were allowed to have them, then we would stop attacking each other for fear of being “found out” aka “being a human being”.

        5. Jeremy

          Callie, there is a big difference between learning to control one’s emotions and shutting down one’s emotions.  The former leads to self-control, the latter leads to loss of control (including the outbursts you referenced).  I think you are correct that anger has traditionally been the one emotion that has been acceptable for men to express – that is why it is specifically anger that men need to learn to control.  Feel your feelings, but do not let them dictate your actions.  Find acceptable outlets and think through consequences.

           

          Your point about sexual rejection among women is well-taken, but it was the same point I was trying to make about differing vulnerabilities.  Yes, women are taught that men always want to bang them and become insecure when they don’t.  Men are taught that if they are polite to women and offer to do tasks for them, women will think they are nice and want to bang them.  And many men become insecure when women don’t.  A woman will become insecure when told she looks fat in her jeans while a man may laugh it off – differing sensitivities due to differing socialization.  A man will become insecure when asked about his career aspirations while a woman may think nothing of it – differing sensitivities.

           

          And because our sensitivities differ, our egos will be observed to be more fragile in differing situations.  Men who observe women’ sensitivities when told they look fat will believe the female ego is fragile.  Women who observe men’s sensitivities when corrected at work will believe the male ego is fragile.  My point is not that the male ego isn’t fragile – it IS.  My point is that it is not MORE fragile than the female in total, and both will exhibit their sensitivities situationally.

        6. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          Men are used to being rejected, but if a man rejects  a woman for sex she often becomes convinced he is gay.

          Been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it!  There is nothing like being asked if I am gay when I say, “I am flattered, but no thank you.”   There is always a snarky remark like “No straight man turns down sex” followed by some kind of meltdown.  I have lost count of the number of times my advances have been rebuffed.   I never lose my cool.  Learning how to handle rejection is part of becoming a man.  Men who get the most women also get rejected by the most women.

        7. KK

          “There is nothing like being asked if I am gay when I say, “I am flattered, but no thank you.”

          No doubt that some women would think that, YAG. I also think you would catch quite a bit more hell from your buddies if they knew you turned down sex from a woman, especially an attractive woman.

        8. Yet Another Guy

          @KK

          I also think you would catch quite a bit more hell from your buddies if they knew you turned down sex from a woman, especially an attractive woman.

          My buddies know me.  They know that I turn down sex.  I have nothing to prove at this point in my life.  I ran the numbers up before I married (something that really bothered my ex).  As I mentioned earlier, the guys who get the most women get rejected by the most women.  That is a lesson I learned by doing.

        9. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          Been there, done that, and have the t-shirt to prove it!  There is nothing like being asked if I am gay when I say, “I am flattered, but no thank you.”

          If a man said no, I assumed he wasn’t interested or unavailable. I think most women would agree with me on this.

        10. KK

          I ran the numbers up before I married (something that really bothered my ex)”.

          What a wench!

          (sarcasm font)

        11. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          If a man said no, I assumed he wasn’t interested or unavailable. I think most women would agree with me on this.

          What if a man has not yet decided if he wants to sleep with you?  That is not the same thing as not being interested.  The beauty of crossing age 50 for me was that I could think clearly around sexually attractive women for the first time since starting puberty.

      2. 17.1.2
        Chance

        A lot of truth here.  Also, hurt feelings are often conflated with “bruised egos” when it comes to men.  If one offends a woman by telling her that her dinner sucked, it is (accurately) viewed as her feelings were hurt.  However, if one tells a man the same and he gets offended as an result, then his “ego has been bruised”.  The connotation changes.

      3. 17.1.3
        Addie

        Yes!! Yes, Jeremy! Your wife is a lucky woman and I am lucky to be privileged to read something intelligent and well thought out, as opposed to “what most people automatically think and say”.

        thanks again for being the voice of sanity and appreciation!

  18. 18
    Henriette

    Meh.  Through the years, EMK and I have had lively disagreements on this subject.  I don’t think we should encourage our loved ones to lie to us, but not all truths are equally helpful or kind.

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I agree with you, Henriette. I also don’t see the value of telling someone something is okay when it’s not.

      People who bottle stuff up explode. I don’t, because I never lie.

      1. 18.1.1
        Henriette

        Telling someone that something is okay when it’s not is, by definition, a lie.  And I’ve already stated that I don’t agree with lying or encouraging others to lie.

      2. 18.1.2
        Addie

        You’re oversimplifying, EMK, to be blunt myself, since you seem to prefer that. Making a policy to always tell everyone your truth, your opinion as you see it, without considering their feelings, is self-centered and uncouth. It’s good to have and know your view and even communicate it. But doing so without regard for the other’s feelings is unkind. It’s also not good communication. Communication, by its basic meaning, is about connecting, at least for a moment, with another. Two people involved, two viewpoints to consider, not just yours, so that you never blow up. A mature person considers his or her audience with care before blasting them with their own truth and then further insulting them by some assertion that honesty is the best policy and if you can’t take it you’re a big baby. That right there is childish thinking.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          “But doing so without regard for the other’s feelings is unkind.”

          What evidence do you have that I don’t care about other people’s feelings? I may be blunt, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care, it doesn’t mean I’m not sensitive, and it doesn’t mean I’m immature.

          You’ve essentially turned a grey-area situation (where two different people have different interpretations of what’s “right”) into something one-sided. Sorry, Addie, but it’s not. Otherwise, it’s a race to the bottom, where the person who is the MOST sensitive about her feelings ultimately holds all the power. All you have to do is say you’re hurt and immediately the offending person is “wrong” for speaking his/her truth. That is not a road you want to go down, logically.

          Next, what evidence do you have that other people’s feelings matter more than truth? Some people’s feelings will get hurt if I refer to Trump as a liar. Doesn’t mean isn’t true. Some people’s feelings will get hurt if I point out that the ultra-PC left is embarrassing itself with its protests on college campuses. Doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

          Sure, feelings matter. I’m a dating coach, a married man and a father of two, and by most standards, a pretty even-handed communicator who has the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. And while you’re entitled to contort yourself to avoid tripping over everyone’s feelings, some of us feel that truth is the only antidote to living a series of white lies.

          If you’d like to know more about my abhorrence for lying, please check out Sam Harris’s Lying on Amazon. It’s a short read that provides lots of food for thought about the dangers of even the smallest lies. Similarly, Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton may be worth your consideration as well.

        2. Callie

          I don’t think Addie was saying you oughtn’t tell the truth, but that truth and bluntness are not one and the same and that there are ways that can be more effective means of communicating truth than just being blunt about it. Sometimes bluntness diverts from the point, people pay no attention to the truth offered and just their own feelings about how it was offered and while yes that’s their issue it does make things tricky for the person trying to communicate as well when all we want is to explain something that isn’t even personal (I mean, sometimes it is personal too of course). Sometimes even if we think feelings shouldn’t be the be all and end all, it’s simply more effective to be less blunt in our manner of delivery even as we still offer the truth.

          This is a lesson I am still working on learning myself, as, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere I’ve felt the full negative force from others, men and women, who do not at all like blunt truth. By softening the bluntness I have found my truths are far more easily consumed and quicker too. I don’t always succeed, I have to confess. I still struggle with my desire to just tell it like it is. But I do get it. And quite frankly for my own purposes I am working on being less blunt because it does tend to get the job done faster.

      3. 18.1.3
        Addie

        Hello again, dear Evan. I want to express a few things to you and answer your questions as best I can.

        First, as I was thinking about all this, I realized how very much I appreciate this forum for all of us to express our ideas (and feelings). I realized how grateful I am for this opportunity and how generous it is of you to host this. And to actively join in and participate! So while I don’t agree with everything you say, I must give you credit for this lively and stimulating discussion.

        I’m sure you have personal reasons for feeling that the person who is “most hurt” holds all the power. Also, you said “her” there. I do believe that men get hurt feelings too. Recently I was told, for instance, that “approach anxiety” can be excruciating for a man. I would assume because being rejected would hurt, perhaps a great deal.

        I think it’s best not to look upon this whole thing as a contest of who gets to shout what they think and who appears to be manipulating with hurt feelings. I think we could go a bit deeper than that. Couldn’t it be possible to relate in a way that brings more understanding, rather than the adversarial game? I know we all do the adversarial thing, but really? We’re defending it now? I think we can do better.  I myself am striving for more understanding, though I don’t always succeed.

        And let me repeat: The truth is not black and white anyway. In fact, it changes and evolves as we go along, partially in response to the person to whom we’re relating. I think you do care about others’ feelings, Evan. I think you care about others in general. I just think your rigid belief about expressing what you term “the truth” can sometimes override the rest.

        Next, I don’t believe I said that other people’s feelings matter more than the truth. I believe I advocated taking into account the other person’s feelings (not to mention your own) while communicating. Again, I view this as not a contest to see who wins and gets to be him or herself, but can we understand each other? What’s the point, otherwise? We already know what our truth is. Why is it so important that others know our opinion all the time?  I’m just asking. And I’m asking myself too.

        Additionally, I’d like to point out something that I believe men usually are unaware of and women don’t think of because it’s part of the fiber of their being. For us, a feeling or emotion IS a communication, to us a much deeper communication than words, though obviously we try to keep up with the whole word thing too. We talk incessantly with each other, but the underlying feelings are paramount.

        As to your reading recommendations, my dear Evan, I’m all over it. I do think that before I argue this any more I would like to understand better where you’re coming from. Anyway, always looking to learn more!

        thank you

  19. 19
    D_M

    It seems to me that we are all discussing tact. I highly doubt that any of us have ever said to a parent: “christ, that is an ugly baby”. We all make mistakes, so learn from them and become more tactful. Grown folks should know how to deliver unpleasant news without coming across as being insensitive. When the inevitable disconnect crops up, say you are sorry and try to move forward. As in Evan’s case, some days are just bad days for the recipient. Sure, some of us have foot in mouth disease, but when you care about how your message is received, you take a pause. It has happened to all of us, you are annoyed for whatever reason, so diplomacy suffers.

     

    Meal was awful:

    I liked the meal you made on Tuesday better. The flavors didn’t come together this time.

    ____________________________________________

    Man: Has anyone ever told you you’re beautiful?

    Woman: Actually yes! :

    Thank you for that compliment. Hopefully you can look past my outward exterior.

     

     

     

  20. 20
    Marika

    Chance 

    I’m glad you raised that about men & vulnerability. Interestingly, there’s another discussion going on about the same thing on the Too Good at Dating post.

    I don’t know if it’s a cultural difference, confusion by some about what vulnerability (vs insecurity) is, or what, but I have no idea why a women would not want a man who’s able to show his vulnerability. That’s how you get closer and better understand each other. I find it charming & sexy. An automoton who is always either happy, angry or just getting shit done is a shallow person, IMO and that is not a relationship that would work for me.

  21. 21
    Marika

    Women (who aren’t already) becoming more aware of & comfortable with men’s vulnerability is only one part of this though. Not to get into a whole thing, and certainly don’t want to argue, but men are the worst offenders in terms of judging other men for their vulnerability (as this blog provides ample evidence!).

    My ex struggled greatly with demons from the past and his best friend struggles with clinical depression. Get him and his other close friends together, they talked about footy and made fun of each other. The depression guy actually tried to talk about his depression with my ex (just the two of them, no women around). I asked him how that went and apparently it was a 2 second conversation that got shut down pretty quickly. Ending with a ‘you’ll be okay, mate, let’s get another beer’.

    I can appreciate women sometimes shame their partners for being vulnerable, and that’s terrible, but by that point the man would’ve already been shamed by male relatives & friends countless times.

  22. 22
    S.

    How thought the next podcast was going to be about dating with an anxious attachment style?  But now it’s limiting beliefs about love?  Both sound interesting but which is next?

  23. 23
    Jeremy

    One final thought regarding the conversation in thread 17.  A common complaint among men is that women tell them to express their emotions and then get upset when men do.  There is, IMHO, a lot of validity to this complaint.  Decades of observing human behavior have led me to this (debatable) conclusion – women might say (and believe) that they want men to show emotion, but what many of them really want is for men to show the emotions women believe appropriate, in amounts women deem appropriate, at times women deem appropriate.  And if the emotions expressed range outside of the box of appropriateness, the expression is no longer desirable.  I see this time and again, and have personal experience with it.

     

    The men who blow up at women who reject them do so because they are expressing their emotions, not because they are repressing them.  They are expressing them rudely, inadvisably, but they are expressing them nevertheless.  I’ve written before about bad advice given by women to men, and blanket advice to express emotion is bad advice.  And before people get angry about that, repressing emotions is also bad advice.  Good advice (IMHO) is to teach men CBT – when an emotion occurs, evaluate the thoughts behind it prior to accepting the value of the emotion, and if the thoughts behind the emotion are faulty then CHANGE THEM.  If the thoughts are not faulty then evaluate appropriate actions before acting on emotion.  If men were to do this, they would not blow up at women who reject them because they would evaluate the fact that although they are experiencing a strong emotion, they need to ponder before they react and not just express their feelings.

     

    It is a middle ground.  Repressing emotion is harmful, but so is full expression of emotion.  People need to stop telling men to express their emotions and then get upset at them for doing so – they are only following bad advice.

    1. 23.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      women might say (and believe) that they want men to show emotion, but what many of them really want is for men to show the emotions women believe appropriate, in amounts women deem appropriate, at times women deem appropriate. 

      I think there’s some truth to this, but, specifically, what kind of emotions, in your experience, do men express that women don’t like? I remember a guy once telling me about some of the women who had turned him down/left him and, yes, it was TMI. It goes back to what you wrote about a woman needing to respect her man, and I lost some respect for him because he seemed insecure after that conversation (in the way he told me he reacted to the rejection). Maybe it’s like when a woman is always pointing out her physical flaws to a man. After a while, don’t you start to lose interest after hearing about her insecurities over and over again?

    2. 23.2
      Callie

      Come on Jeremy, you’re a smart guy who understands nuance and context. Surely this means other men out there can too.

      When women say they want men to express emotions you and I both know that they mean that they want healthy expressions of emotions. They don’t want men to explode in a defensive rage. No one wants that. Men don’t want that when women do it either. If men are taking women’s “I’d like you to open up emotionally” to mean “I want you to explode in rage at me the second you feel vulnerable” I really don’t think that’s women’s fault.

      As to the rest of what you say, totally agree! There’s a middle ground. Almost usually with most things really.

      1. 23.2.1
        Jeremy

        I’m not just talking about explosive rage, though.  Take, for example, the conversation between Emily, KK, and Clare – 3 very bright women whose opinions I respect – on another thread about men expressing insecurities and asking women if something is ok prior to sex.  In the linear minds of men, the equation goes something like this:

         

        I want to impress this woman —> how can I know how to do that? —->Ask her what she likes

         

        It does not occur to these men that by asking women what they like they are reducing the respect these women have for them and turning them off.  These women might SAY they want men to express emotion, but not if that emotion is insecurity and not if the time is right before sex.

         

        I have an understanding of nuance, Callie, but I only developed it because without it I would be lost in a relationship with a woman.  Women swim naturally in a sea of nuance that is not natural to most men.  What you think of as obvious is often not.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          It does not occur to these men that by asking women what they like they are reducing the respect these women have for them and turning them off.  These women might SAY they want men to express emotion, but not if that emotion is insecurity and not if the time is right before sex.

          Well, the sexual world and the real world are two totally different places. I can’t remember exactly, but didn’t you and I discuss on another post the NYT article about egalitarian marriages and how the women who were interviewed wanted the husbands to be more dominant in the bedroom? Keep in mind that not every woman is turned off by being asked. Some women want to be approached gingerly. I can certainly empathize with someone being insecure/tentative, but it doesn’t turn me on.

          I want to impress this woman —> how can I know how to do that? —->Ask her what she likes

          The very act of wanting to impress her comes off as … unimpressive. I don’t think confident people ask themselves how they can impress someone. They go in assuming they are the bomb.

        2. Jeremy

          Perhaps Emily, though my experience is that people who believe they are the bomb are often unimpressive in real life when push comes to shove.

          And I remember our conversation about the NYT article, but this applies to the non-sexual realm as well.  I remember early on in my marriage, my wife asking me to be open and honest about my emotions.  So when I was setting up my practice and nervous about the business aspects, I would occasionally mention my insecurities and worries to her (as she asked me to do).  I could see, as I spoke, her interest levels in me declining.  Because in spite of her request that I be open, it wasn’t what she wanted.  She wanted a rock that she could rely on in her times of stress, and she wanted that rock to *occasionally* show vulnerability.  What she said she wanted and what she actually wanted were very different….but she thought the difference should be obvious.

           

          That, among other interesting peculiarities, was one of many things that set me on a journey to understand the psychology of attraction.  Because it made no sense to me, lacking in nuance as I was.

        3. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          I remember early on in my marriage, my wife asking me to be open and honest about my emotions.  So when I was setting up my practice and nervous about the business aspects, I would occasionally mention my insecurities and worries to her (as she asked me to do).  I could see, as I spoke, her interest levels in me declining.  Because in spite of her request that I be open, it wasn’t what she wanted.

          Well, I think sharing your concerns about your business was totally reasonable (not to knock your wife). That wouldn’t have lessened my interest, but a man asking before almost every sexual encounter what I wanted … that turned me off.

    3. 23.3
      John

      Hi Jeremy,

      Excellent comments as usual.

      Brene  Brown wrote an excellent book on  vulnerability called “Daring Greatly.” There’s a story that she shares that is relevant to your previous comments. Here’s an excerpt of an interview with Brene Brown illustrating the difference between men and women’s vulnerability:

      MS. BROWN: OK. So when I started researching shame, I only studied women and I did that for a couple of reasons, the first selfish. I wanted to know — you know, that was my interest because that was my experience and because there was a lot of argument in the academic literature about men and women are different, that we don’t experience shame the same way. So I thought, let me keep it really clean and just study women.
      MS. TIPPETT: It also kind of feels like a word that women would say more, like even if I said I didn’t like the word, it feels like a word that’s hard to imagine men talking about.
      MS. BROWN: No, it’s true. But I also came up under a pretty rigorous feminist academic upbringing in my studies, so I was really interested. Because, you know, you think about shame in women, you think about media, body image, you think about — yeah. So it made sense to me.
      So I was at a book signing and a couple came up to me and I signed four books for the woman and she grabbed them and she’s walked away from the table and her husband who was standing with her stayed. And she said, “Come on, babe, let’s go,” and he said, “No, I want to talk to her for a minute,” meaning me. She said, “No, come on, let’s go, let’s go.” He said, “I’m going to talk to her for a second.” There was some tension in that conversation. I was thinking, oh, my God, you need to go. I don’t know why you want to stay.
      MS. TIPPETT: Go with your wife. [laughs]
      MS. BROWN: Yeah, go because you’re hell-bent for leather to talk to me and I’d rather you not. He said, “I really liked everything you said. I really like this idea of reaching out and telling our stories and showing up, but you didn’t mention men.” You know, my initial thought was, oh, gosh, thank God this is going to wrap up quick, because — I don’t — you know?
      So I looked to him and I said, “I don’t study men.” And he said, “Well, that’s convenient.” And my heart was just like, oh, God. And he said, “We have shame, we have deep shame, but when we reach out and tell our stories, we get the emotional [bleep] beat out of us.” And he said, “And before you say anything about those mean fathers and those coaches and those brothers and those bully friends, my wife and three daughters, the ones who you just signed the books for, they had rather see me die on top of my white horse than have to watch me fall off.” Then he just walked away.
      You know, when truth hits you, it just hits you and you know what it is the second it comes to you. I knew that my research was going to be profoundly changed and I knew that it was going to be difficult and painful and that I was going to learn things about myself that I probably didn’t want to know, and that’s exactly what happened.

       I think that about sums it up Jeremy. Thanks for your  sagacious comments.
       

       

      1. 23.3.1
        Jeremy

        John, “They would rather see me die atop that white horse than watch me fall off.”  That is very powerful, thanks for sharing.  And while I don’t think that most women will acknowledge the truth of this, there is more truth to it than falsehood.

         

        I just had a long Facebook conversation with many of my male colleagues and we were discussing the song “the cats in the cradle” – you know, the one about the dad who never has time for his son until his son doesnt has time for him?  That song never fails to make me cry – and my colleagues agreed.  So why, we asked, don’t we make more time for work-life balance as women strive to do?  Because, we all replied, there are too many expectations piled on us.  It’s that white horse we ride on, the one we can’t get off of.  I remember my wife telling me that I work too hard and should take more time off.  Then she reminded me that the bill for the kids’ camp was due and failed to see the irony.  The disparity between what people say they want and how they act.

         

        The fact that the woman you mention didn’t even bother including men in her study because she didn’t really think shame was important in men…..really telling.

        1. Jeremy

          I wondered if someone might ask that question, Stacy.  I actually hoped someone would so I could clarify, so thank you.

           

          First of all, my wife has a job and makes an income.  I just provide the lion’s share while she does the lion’s share of home and child care.  And we are both generally happy with these roles – they are the ones we chose, and we would both be less happy in other roles.  The irony is not in the fact that I am in the role of primary provider.  It is in the disparity between the suggestion that I take more time off for myself and the subsequent proffering of a bill.

           

          This was the point, Stacy.  The horse we can’t get off of, the roles in which we are trapped.  Regardless of whether a man chooses the role of provider or not – regardless of whether a woman chooses a man who makes an equal salary or more or less, her attraction to him in the long-term will depend on the maintenance of her respect.  And her respect will depend on him playing the role she believes is respectable, whether or not she consciously acknowledges that role.  That is the horse on which men are trapped.

           

          For years, my mother and her sisters complained that my grandfather, their father, would never show emotion and insisted that he show some humanity.  Then he had a stroke and suffered a slight personality change – he cried often.  And then his daughters complained at having to deal with his emotions.  They did not want him to open up emotionally.  They wanted him to play a role they thought they could respect – the rock in the storm who occasionally shows vulnerability.  Not a man who actually expresses his pain.

           

          They asked him to show emotion but didn’t like it when he did.  My wife asked me to take more vacation but wouldn’t like the effects if I did.  The irony is not that I am in the role of breadwinner.  It is in the disparity between what the women in our lives say they want and what they actually want.  And this happens just as often (if not more) with women who say they don’t care about a man’s income, marry him, and find out that they do care very much after all.

           

  24. 24
    Addie

    Thank you again, Jeremy, for your thoughtful contributions. They are very helpful to me as I attempt to expand my horizons. Your part illustrating the linear thinking of men is an example. Having studied the differences between male and female thinking and feeling for years, (including studies of the male and female brain starting in the womb, I thought I pretty much understood. But really, although my motto is “Vive la difference”, I think it’s still mind-blowing. To a woman, unless she’s thoroughly masculinized herself, that simple thought process is almost unbelievable.

    Yet we adore the masculine, all the while tossing out superficial advice of how they ought to do it, assuming, as we must, I suppose, that they must be like women who somehow just don’t get it. No! We’re different! It’s beautiful, but it would be helpful to take the time to understand who one is relating to.

    I love the part about CBT. Don’t know what that is, but what sound advice, to evaluate one’s thoughts behind a given emotion and making a change, if needed, before simply blurting as a reaction from the lizard brain. Of course, both men and women need to do this, men because they have less experience with their own emotions as it doesn’t come as naturally, both because of societal conditioning and the actual structure of their brain. Women need it just as much, in my opinion, as we’re generally so enamored of our emotional responses we fire them off willy-nilly. But we could enjoy more authenticity in that area if we also were able to take a moment to check in with what we really mean to say and how it may affect the other person.

    And yes, middle ground for sure, as we’re not trying to contort ourselves away from our narcissistic “truth” in order to not upset the other. Rather, we’re attempting a larger and more inclusive truth, which takes both beings into account.

     

  25. 25
    KK

    Interesting thread Jeremy, Callie, Emily, and John.

    Hi Jeremy,

    I’m trying really hard to understand where you’re coming from. 🙂

    For the most part, I can see where you’re coming from but just have a few questions. However, I’ll only ask one. In response to the Brené Brown conversation, you stated, “The fact that the woman you mention didn’t even bother including men in her study because she didn’t really think shame was important in men…..really telling”.

    Hmmm… If you were to write a book that focused solely on… let’s say… “how rigid gender roles affect men’s overall happiness” and a female reader brought it to your attention that women face similar struggles AND that one of those particular issues you had never even considered, I don’t think it would make you a clueless schmuck nor do I think it would necessarily be telling of anything other than the fact that most men either can’t or won’t articulate their struggles and concerns.

    Goodness, you can’t know what you don’t know. At the end of the day, whose responsibility is it that certain issues are less known than others? As an aside, after that conversation, Brené Brown DID research on shame in men and wrote a book about that as well.

    1. 25.1
      KK

      Wow, I really botched that. It should read:

      I don’t think it would make you a clueless schmuck nor do I think it would necessarily be telling of anything in particular. In Brené Brown’s case, I don’t think it is telling of anything other than the fact that most men either can’t or won’t articulate their struggles and concerns. Therefore, how was she to know otherwise until someone actually pointed it out to her.

    2. 25.2
      Jeremy

      I’ll do my best to articulate my point, KK, though you may not agree.

       

      A while back, I read the book “the beauty myth” by Naomi Wolf – did you ever read it?  As I read it, the image that came to my mind was of a woman with 2 different eyes – one of them exceptionally keen, the other completely blind – such that half the world was perceived in exceptional clarity while the other half did not exist.

       

      Certainly the book was about women, not men, and the problems that women face in terms of body image. And the book is very insightful on that topic, so why should it say anything about men?  The answer is because if the problems of women are not balanced with the problems of men and brought into perspective, people believe that only women have problems and that the problems of men are of little importance.  If we study the “beauty myth” among women without studying the “success myth” among men, we lose perspective.  In a similar way, if we study shame in women without studying or acknowledging shame in men, we begin to believe that women experience shame disproportionally vs men – this is the availability heuristic – and so when a man approaches an author to discuss his ideas on shame, she doesn’t even want to talk to him.  He’s a man, after all, what problems could he have?

       

      You wrote, “at the end of the day, whose responsibility is it that certain ideas are known or not known?” – the implication being that if men have problems, it is incumbent upon men to study and resolve them.  But this ignores my central idea here – men can not talk about this, because women will not let them.  Read the words of the man in John’s story – he said, “when men do reach out and tell our stories, we get the emotional (beep) kicked out of us.”  Read my story about my grandfather, that when he did open up, his daughters lost respect for him.  Women encourage men to open up, but only want to see the emotions they deem appropriate in amounts they deem appropriate at times they deem appropriate.  Ask any man and he will tell you of his experience with this.

       

      You’ve read my words over and over – women need to respect men to maintain their attraction to them.  You’ve heard me say over and over that often times what women say they want is different from what they actually want.  They want a man who plays a role – a role they can respect.  For men to step outside of that role, they risk losing not only their women’s respect, but also their attraction.  So they (we) back down from emotional conflict and withdraw.  Then women complain that men withdraw, as they complain when men open up too much.

       

      Whose fault is it when a man opens up too much?  The man’s, or the one who asked him to?  Whose fault is it when a man shuts down because he feels he just can’t win one way or the other – his, or the person sending him conflicting messages?  How can men articulate their feelings when the only feelings women will accept are the ones they deem acceptable?

      1. 25.2.1
        KK

        Jeremy,

        Thanks for the explanation. I do understand what you’re saying. To answer your question, no, I have not read Wolf’s book. I found your analysis interesting in the sense that you acknowledged that the book wasn’t about men, yet you feel she has a huge blind spot for not including anything about men. From my perspective, it would be similar (If I were an MS survivor) and I felt frustrated that a cancer survivor wrote a book about surviving cancer, without including other diseases.

        “…so when a man approaches an author to discuss his ideas on shame, she doesn’t even want to talk to him.  He’s a man, after all, what problems could he have?”

        This is the last part of the conversation Brené Brown had about that man (which John shared):  “Then he just walked away. You know, when truth hits you, it just hits you and you know what it is the second it comes to you. I knew that my research was going to be profoundly changed and I knew that it was going to be difficult and painful and that I was going to learn things about myself that I probably didn’t want to know, and that’s exactly what happened”.

        You’re right. Initially, she dismissed him. But as you can see, after listening to what he had to say, her perspective changed and like I stated earlier, she did in fact research and write about men’s shame as well.

        “You wrote, “at the end of the day, whose responsibility is it that certain ideas are known or not known?” – the implication being that if men have problems, it is incumbent upon men to study and resolve them.  But this ignores my central idea here – men can not talk about this, because women will not let them”.

        I get it. I’m just trying to understand what the proposed solution is. Are you implying that women should advocate on behalf of men? Should female researchers, scientists, and psychologists be required to devote at least 50% of their findings solely to men? I’m not trying to be sarcastic. I care about men. I care about issues that affect men alone. I even understand what you’re saying regarding respect. I just don’t know how expecting (?) women to solve men’s problems is particularly effective.

        I’d like to add that the men’s issues you’ve brought up thus far, has not caused me to see you as less masculine or less respectable. Quite the opposite, in fact. If you’ll notice, Jeremy, you’ve had quite a few people, both male and female, praise you here. I hope that encourages you to speak your mind on issues that are important to you and dispels fears that are unfounded. Your wife’s reaction regarding your concerns about your practice would not have been every wife’s reaction. Your grandfather’s daughter’s losing respect for him would be along the same lines as a man losing respect for a woman with a personality change as well. If your mom or wife was always happy, kind, and thoughtful, and had a stroke or some type of brain injury that resulted in her being loud, caustic, and angry, you might lose respect for her as well.

         

         

      2. 25.2.2
        Marika

        I’m not sure, Jeremy . Normally you’re very balanced & I can usually clearly understand the validity of your points, but here I think you’re being a bit unfair. Why would a feminist writer write about men? Do you expect the manosphere to write about the plight of women? I learned about the manosphere through this blog and had a look – I quickly learned I need to not go there. It’s almost like you read these things expecting to be annoyed – and you were. All writers write from their own perspective and experience. Rarely is there complete balance between both sexes in all texts. And sometimes they’re doing it on purpose, to make a point.

        Yes people (like these women in your examples) act in contradictory & hypocritical ways. As a human, no doubt you do too sometimes. You’re quite tuned into when women do this, as that’s clearly a sore point, but men do it too. It happens on here all the time. Some men will complain about aspects of women’s appearance, but will then be offended if they get rejected for something appearance related. Some men will complain that all women are crazy, but only date hot, crazy messes. Some men want women to pay, then get insecure when they do.

        My brother in law made a big song & dance at my family that people should say things that are bothering then to people’s faces, then sent a nasty email about us to my sister in law behind our backs.

        I could give a million more examples. People act in contradictory ways all the time. It’s part of being human. It’s not just women.

        I also personally can’t relate to what you’re saying. When my ex showed emotion (other than uncontrolled rage), I found his vulnerability charming and attractive. My brother was a bit upset by my brother in law’s actions (above) and seeing him show emotion warmed me to him. When men on here show vulnerability, I can feel empathy towards them. I see elderly men out by themselves (eg at dinner) and I wonder if they’re okay & whether they’re lonely (I never think that about elderly women!). On the rare occasions my Dad cries, I really pay attention to what’s bothering him & how I can help.

        What I personally struggle with (in men or women) is relentless negativity. If you just complain & complain, with no solutions, that’s unattractive. Maybe your grandfather’s negativity was the problem? Or maybe they were just being really unfair. Not sure. But you’re giving these isolated examples out of context, acting like men are dealing with all this hypocrisy from women in isolation, but, sorry, that’s just part of the human condition.

      3. 25.2.3
        Jeremy

        KK and Marika, thanks for your thoughtful replies.  I won’t argue with the notion that both genders are often guilty of hypocritical behavior.

         

        There is often a gap between the person we are vs the person we *think* we are, and for some this gap is more of a chasm.  The man who believes he wants to get married yet gets cold feet every time a relationship starts to develop is not the person he thinks he is.  The woman who turns down sex because she has a headache yet runs a marathon with strep throat is not motivated by the things she thinks she is.  Both men and women do this – it is not a gendered thing – but often this disparity is expressed in certain ways by the different genders.

         

        KK, you asked me what I would suggest we do about the problem of emotional expression among men.  My suggestion is that women begin with some introspection.  If you believe that you want your man to be free to express his emotional self to you, pay attention to your emotional response when he does.  If you feel closer to him (as Marika described herself), then excellent.  But if you feel yourself losing attraction/respect for him then you need to make a decision – either stop telling him to express himself because you need him to play a role you can respect (ie. prioritize the person you ARE), or make a deliberate change in what you respect and try to overcome your inclinations (ie. prioritize the person you believe you should BE).

         

        I would give the same advice to anyone, male or female, who experiences this type of conflict.  The trick is to recognize it within ourselves.

        1. KK

          Hi Jeremy,

          “KK, you asked me what I would suggest we do about the problem of emotional expression among men.  My suggestion is that women begin with some introspection”.

          That alone is not the answer I’m afraid. Being introspective enough to get really clear on what one needs to feel emotionally connected is only one half of the solution. The other half will require men to be introspective enough to get really clear on what they’re comfortable sharing and the realization that they may have to push beyond their comfort zone (i.e. facing their own fears of rejection).

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          KK, I look forward to the post where you ever think women should assume responsibility for anything instead of reflexively blaming men to change.

        3. Callie

          Evan – while I agree sometimes KK does do that, in this case you have to admit that Jeremy saying that it’s women alone who are responsible for solving the issue around emotional expression among MEN is kind of absurd as well in the same fashion. I think KK was responding directly to that in this case, agreeing that yes women should do that but adding that, seeing as Jeremy neglected to mention what MEN might do to help themselves, that there might be a few things they could take on as well. That men might have to be a little bit responsible for their own emotional expression. And that it might make sense to not place all the onus on men’s behaviour on the shoulder’s of women.

          I mean, I get it, we all need to be empathetic and supportive of each other. But surely men need to take SOME ownership of their own problems right?

        4. Jeremy

          Hi KK.  I agree with you.  I just thought that was obvious 😉  It’s funny how, given a person’s perspective, certain things seem obvious to them and not to others, while other things are obvious to others and not to the person.

           

          Yet in this instance I will suggest that men have begun to do as you have suggested (well, some men anyway), but women largely have not done what I have suggested.  And the reason is that facing the disparity between the person we are and the person we think we are is very difficult.  We don’t always want to believe we aren’t who we think we should be.

        5. Jeremy

          As an addendum to my last comment (and to address what KK and Callie wrote) – what I thought was obvious was that both men and women need to be involved in the solution, not just women.  What is less obvious is this – men will stop fearing women rejecting them for being emotional when women DO stop rejecting them for being emotional.  But the reverse is not true.  Women will not stop rejecting men for being emotional just because men stop fearing it and start being more expressive.  Hence my suggestion starting with women’s behavior.

  26. 26
    KK

    Evan, I’m not sure how saying BOTH people need to come together to resolve an issue in THEIR relationship is blaming men or taking any responsibility away from the woman.

    oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      It’s that, for any piece of advice I give on this website for women, you always come back with BUT MEN. Which is true. And useless to our target audience (women). And somewhat tiring.

      1. 26.1.1
        KK

        Well Evan,

        I didn’t say BUT MEN… I specifically asked for clarification from Jeremy because I find his comments insightful and thought provoking. So when he mentioned his frustration (?) with a female writer / researcher, I was trying to understand why.

        I thought we were having a rather respectful and pleasant exchange, but I apologize for tiring you.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          It was respectful and pleasant. It’s also a bit one-note. I can always count on YAG and Chance to take the male side of things. And I can always count on you to take the female side of things. If that makes you bristle, it’s with good reason. Your posts are the female equivalent of theirs – you usually have a valid point, but pretty much always point the finger at the opposite sex.

          The reason that I never disagree with Jeremy is that he is inherently balanced and acknowledges both sides in his comments.

        2. KK

          Evan,

          I have never made boneheaded, sexist comments like either Chance or YAG. I have never made any degrading or insulting comments toward the entire male population.

          But if you would prefer I no longer comment here, please say so and I will respectfully oblige.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          You are more than welcome to post here, KK. I was only pointing out that your posts tend to reflexively side with women and blame men, no matter what is posted.

  27. 27
    Marika

    Jeremy

    I really want to understand this. Are you saying women shouldn’t ask men to do something, unless they’re sure it’s what they actually want?

    You gave the example of emotional expression. Which I can’t relate to, as a man being vulnerable makes me melt. But maybe something like this: I ask my guy to call me everyday to check in. He obliges as he’s a good guy and he wants to make me happy. For a while it’s wonderful. Then I get busy or I’m out a lot. He calls, I don’t answer so he starts sending texts asking if I’m okay. I start to think, man this dude is needy!!

    Something like that? That hasn’t actually happened, but is that the kind of thing you mean? In which case, I take your point and I do think women sometimes do things like that.

    In our defence though, sometimes you don’t know you do or don’t want something until you experience it 😀  (kidding, sort of)

  28. 28
    Marika

    Oh and on the topic of men’s emotional expression, do men only shy away from emotions because of fear of rejection from women? I’m really surprised by that as I’ve seen men who show all this blokey bravado with friends (fearing peer rejection), but feel safe to be emotional around women. Would your guy friends be okay with you crying? Maybe it’s a cultural thing.

    On the particular topic of shame, in the child development literature, there is a lot written about men (boys) and shame. Can’t remember any specific articles off hand, but it is a recognized topic. From my studies, I actually thought shame was more detrimental to boys than girls and used more as a punishment tool – creating that detriment. Whoever it was cautioned of the negative effect of shaming boys on their future development. Wish I could remember the name, I’m sure you’d love to read it!

  29. 29
    Jeremy

    Marika,

    If a woman asks a man for an apple pie and then finds out she would really prefer cherry, it is really of no consequence to either of them because it’s just pie.  But when it comes to matters that fundamentally affect our attraction to each other, we should be unambiguous – both with our partners and with ourselves.

     

    Your example, Marika, of the guy who tried to please you by following your instructions and calling you every day – only to have you begin to perceive him as needy because he did as you asked – is a perfect example of this.  You asked him to call every day, but (and please correct me if Im wrong here) what I think you meant was, “Call me more often so I can feel comfortable with you, but also remain somewhat aloof so I can remain aroused by you.  Because although I like men who are vulnerable, I also like men who are somewhat unattainable.  I want you to be a combination of both, but to be more of one than the other when I want you to be, but I don’t want you to ask me which one to be at any given time because I’d lose respect for you if you did.”

     

    Is that about right?  And if so, you might ask how you might communicate that mess of instructions to a man.  And I’d reply that you can’t, because it isn’t a reasonable jumble – it would take a man with exceptional patience and insight to work that out for himself. So rather than working on getting a man to understand it, work on yourself to move one way or the other because that is something you can control.  That was my advice to KK’s question (which, BTW, I did not find offensive 🙂   )

     

    Oh, and regarding shame and boys – I could go on all day about this topic, but don’t want to muck up Evan’s blog.

    1. 29.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      You asked him to call every day, but (and please correct me if Im wrong here) what I think you meant was, “Call me more often so I can feel comfortable with you, but also remain somewhat aloof so I can remain aroused by you.  Because although I like men who are vulnerable, I also like men who are somewhat unattainable. 

      In my limited experience, you find one extreme or the other. You have the guy who you tell you will text later when you get back from, for example, the mall with friends, and 2 hours later he texts you: You must be really busy. Or you have the guy who is disappearing/reappearing or maybe just calling once a week. The trick is to find the guy who shows interest without being cloying.

      1. 29.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Actually, Emily, most people are not extremes. Life is a big bell curve and most people (or at least 68%) fall squarely within the big bell.

    2. 29.2
      Marika

      Jeremy

      You’re right. I get it now. I’ll try to be more mindful of stuff like that from now on. I know I do love giving a good mixed message!

      I have three nephews. I see how sensitive and soulful they are. I have great insight into the mind of the youngest who I see weekly and still remember how hard the middle one took it when publicly reprimanded. My ex was the way he was because of shame experienced in childhood. I would never shame those beautiful boys (or the girls, but it’s worse for boys).

      If a change was to be made, I think childhood is where it needs to happen. And I actually think it is. Gen Y are quite different.

    3. 29.3
      KK

      “That was my advice to KK’s question (which, BTW, I did not find offensive    )”

      Thank you, Jeremy, because that certainly wasn’t my intention.   ; )

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