The Secret To Understanding Men: They Don’t Go Both Ways

Hi Evan,

I finally met an emotionally available, nice guy after going through my fair share of emotionally unavailable men. We’ve been dating for about two months now and have hit a rough patch. I am starting to feel like the man in the relationship. He reacts emotionally instead of rationally all the time. He wants to talk about feelings all the time. I find he is emotionally needy.

I am an independent woman, and I like my time to myself. I do not need to talk about feelings.

Sometimes I feel like he says things in a passive-aggressive way just to see how I will react. I feel like I have to always reassure him. This is really stressing me out and turning me off. I told him that it would be best for him to keep his emotions to himself right now and once things get more serious, then we could talk more about feelings. At first he said that I was right and that this behavior has ruined his past relationships, but then he says that it turns him off that I don’t want to talk about feelings.

He feels like he has to hold back with me. I feel like all this talk about feelings is just too much too soon.

My dilemma is that he’s a nice guy that I can trust, he treats me like no man has ever treated me, we have common interest and goals, but I’m turned off by his neediness. I just don’t want to feel like the man in the relationship. He has already cried four times when we have discussions where I tell him that all of it is just too much for me. I’m wondering if I should just call it a loss and move on? I want a nice guy, but not an emotionally needy one. Is this a deal breaker, or is this something I should just give more time to see if he can overcome it?


Dear Katie,

My second book, Why You’re Still Single, contains a chapter called “Men Don’t Go Both Ways” which addresses your question directly. The short version is this:

But your constant frustration that Marlboro Man “doesn’t open up” or that Sensitive Artist is “too needy” is pretty futile.

There are two poles that women find attractive: The Marlboro Man and the Sensitive Artist. The Marlboro Man is traditional, doesn’t like to talk about his problems, doesn’t like to listen to yours, but he is a MAN. He’s a stoic, and if he has any emotional needs, you’ll never know it. Problem is that it’s hard to feel CONNECTED to a guy like this. Sharing information is what makes us close, and if you have a guy who really doesn’t roll like that, you’re going to constantly wonder where you stand and what he’s thinking.

Then there’s the Sensitive Artist, who is as much of an open book as your best girlfriend.

You share everything with him and he shares everything with you. You truly understand each other. Problem is, when a person shares everything with you, there will be times where he will seem weak and vulnerable. This doesn’t always inspire confidence like the Marlboro Man.

Men Don’t Go Both Ways means that whether you’re expecting the Marlboro Man to start sharing or expecting the Sensitive Artist to stop sharing, you’re wasting your time. They’re DIFFERENT guys with different strengths and weaknesses. Thus, as a woman, you have a choice: put up with the stoicism of a traditional man’s man, or put up with the emotional rollercoaster of a sensitive guy.

But your constant frustration that Marlboro Man “doesn’t open up” or that Sensitive Artist is “too needy” is pretty futile.

As a sensitive artist guy myself, I don’t blindly defend the type. I know how exhausting it can be to date a man who wants to hash every little issue out like, well, a woman. I know that you can burn out on that kind of thing pretty quickly the way, well, we get burned out on overemotional women. But the reason that I’m writing this is that, at some point, you’re going to have to make a CHOICE.

And as a dating coach whose job is to help men and women understand each other, that’s the thing that I see more than anything: nobody wants to make a choice between different people. No, we want our dates to be all things at all times.

But don’t expect guys to be all things at all times. That’s just wishful thinking.

The ideal man should be:

Strong and stoic, but sensitive and open to sharing.
Successful and ambitious, but not a workaholic.
Charismatic and charming, but not a player.

Realize that these are all contradictions. Sensitive artists want to talk. Entrepreneurs will work past six. Charmers will exploit their skills with women. Expecting otherwise is useless.

So Katie, this isn’t about your boyfriend “overcoming” his emotional neediness for your sake. Nope. He’s a nice guy who treats you like gold and wants to know where he stands. The only person who has to overcome anything is YOU.

You need to make a choice: to put up with his emotional neediness (as so many men do with so many women), OR to break up with him and find a new guy, knowing full well that the new guy may not be as emotionally available as the current guy. It’s not a clear-cut decision, nor should it be. But don’t expect guys to be all things at all times. That’s just wishful thinking.

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  1. 91
    Miss Z

    The fact of the matter is this: The more emotionally needy the man is- the drier the panties get. It doesn’t turn women on. And when we don’t get turned on, the man get friend zoned. Its as simple as that. Funny out of all these comments no one brings up sexual attraction, but that’s what almost all the posts on Events site boil down to. Does this person have qualities that motivate me to want to be sexual with them? If the answer is No, no amount of advice can change that.
    If heterosexual folks want to find the chemistry the seek, we gotta line up with our true nature of masculine/feminine energies- The harder the woman is, the softer the man is she is going to attract. This is a spiritual LAW, one on which Evan has built a lucrative business. Upon such advice, people are inclined to feel that thier autonomy has been attacked and respond with some version of: “Why should I have to change for somebody else to like me..?” The change you make in order to HAVE WHAT YOU WANT is the highest demonstration of your personal power! The Marlboro Man Archetype Evan points out is just that, an archetype. A representation of the extreme Masculine. And this extreme masculine energy has a PROFOUND sexual impact on women, every woman knows the feeling when a powerful man comes in our proximity. Its our animal nature, and it is to be honored and respected rather than denied. My personal belief is that no every woman is going to be able to find ONE man who fills the polar opposite needs for sexual satisfaction and emotional safety. So find one man who fills one need and one man for another. I know that most on this blog is looking for something monogamous, but I also see that Evan is liberal and intelligent in his views and doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would shoot something down if consenting adults were involved. It works for me, and I could not have the happiness I have without such an arrangement. Men for the most part Don’t swing both ways, but both of those “ways” are primal needs that I must have met to feel fulfilled. Best of luck to all.

  2. 92

    this entire scenario happened to me and just for me I can explain it very simply. I’m an Aquarius and he is s cancer. Big no no.

  3. 93

    My boyfriend is both these things at different times. Stop with the labels.

  4. 94

    I disagree Evan I think an emotionally healthy man is both of these.  He knows when it is appropriate to discuss his feelings or express emotions but is not boo hooing all over the place and needy.  But frankly this is not attractive in either sex not just men.  Emotionally healthy people can discuss how they feel with each other.  Maybe some men want needy women, but most men I know would not want the man described in this letter were he a woman with the same characteristics.  I think the issue is emotional health.  That being said Your advice Evan to aggressive career masculine women is often to pursue beta men, because to attract alpha men we need to become less masculine like. It sounds to me like the writer is an alpha female stuck with a beta male who is also emotionally unhealthy.  Even if he were this is case in point why women like this are rarely attracted to beta males.  I am not a sensitive or feeling person as an alpha female, I am not going to do well with a sensitive or caring make, a beta male.

  5. 95
    John Go

    Well put. I am the artist guy in the above article,  always have been.  Yes, after quite a few girls left me because of it,  I tried to be the other guy,  but just couldn’t shake my artist style.  What I do know is that 50% of the time, those girls wish they were still with me. They probably mock me to their friends the other 50%.

    I’ve taken a long break from relationships because they love the royal treatment the first few months,  and then I get dumped for being “too thoughtful & sweet”. It’s a high cost for a few months of delusion & abandonment. 30-35 years old I’ve purposely been single and life has never been this good. I don’t even hook up either.  That might sound bizarre,  but that shows how much experience I’ve had investing with little return, or being treated like shit from the general population of women who mock me for my “artistry”. There’s not a moment where I think that a partner could be beneficial to my life anymore.

    The success in my life has skyrocketed because all the passion I wasted on girls the last 20 years is now poured into my skills. Girls are just people I avoid now. They’re much more likely a gold digger or want to settle down now that their charms have worn out.

    I won’t be with a gold digger, i won’t waste time investing like i used to, and I also won’t use my success to use women. So I just don’t touch them at all.  Yes women,  there are actually honorable guys out there, but this guy has been made a fool of one too many times. I had your back for 30 years with women’s rights & benefit of the doubt about guys treating you badly. Though I was laughed at by many guys through the years for it,  I stood strong for you in defense. I suffered greatly for it, and not one woman was there to get my back. In fact, they laughed along with the men.

    I will turn my back on any woman who asks for help now. I’ve been tricked, used & abused far too long. I feel no more responsibility as a man to stand for you. You’re on your own.

    I only write this to speak in favor of that artist you might be with in the present moment. Perhaps there is still hope for him.  That you will honor the effort he took to be the guy girls complained they could never find. He could have been anyone else,  but he listened to “what girls want” and made a real effort. Appreciate him or let him go,  but remember,  he is most certainly a man.

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