Do You Want to Make Him Love You More?

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Last week, I was on the phone with Bobbi. Early 50’s, attractive, bookish, divorced.

She signed up for my Private Coaching reluctantly, as she was hesitant to get 12 weeks of dating coaching when she’s already “seeing” a man.

I told her that, in my experience, if things are iffy with a man at the very beginning, the odds that he’ll turn out to be her future husband are slim.

Bobbi took my word for it, and the first few sessions were spent talking about Gary.

Gary is charismatic, opinionated, vocal. He has qualities that Bobbi admires, is attracted to, and would like to emulate if she weren’t so introverted.

As a result, she can’t help but to feel drawn to him.

Anyway, the reason that Bobbi wanted coaching is because Gary really hadn’t turned the corner to become her boyfriend yet. And while it’s only been 6 weeks, she’s not too confident he will. Gary’s got a lot going on in his life. Busy job. Ex wife and kid. Bobbi’s trying to be patient, but struggling.

But that’s not the real kicker.

The real kicker is that Gary, because of his strong opinions and point of view, is kind of difficult. Moreover, he’s critical and has a temper when he doesn’t get his way. When he’s in one of his moods, Bobbi can feel really bad about herself. 85% of the time, things are amazing. 15% of the time, she’s unsure about herself.

If things are iffy with a man at the very beginning, the odds that he’ll turn out to be her future husband are slim.

I told her that Gary’s personality wasn’t a bad habit that was going to be ironed out; this is a character flaw. Thus, she has two choices: stay and suffer, or leave and find a man who didn’t have those verbally abusive tendencies.

Bobbi said she’d stay.

The following week, Bobbi told me they had a big blow-up in the car, to the point that he was yelling at her and she was crying because she couldn’t defend herself.

I asked her if she was ready to move on, and start online. She said that she was thinking about it, but that she’d give a little more time with Gary.

Seriously.

Three weeks later, she’s got a profile online, but is still seeing Gary.

Things are good — for now — she reports.

And without betraying Bobbi in any way, I can almost certainly predict that she hasn’t seen the last of Gary’s criticism or temper tantrums.

I can only hope she does what’s right for her.

While it’s easy to say that low self-esteem is the main reason that people stick in prickly and critical relationships, I think it’s more.

I think it’s because you have the feeling that things can be GREAT, and so you stick with your man waiting for him to be at his best. But he won’t. He can’t.

He’s a flawed human being and you’re all too willing to overlook his flaws.

If it’s not clear from my writing, I don’t give advice from a pedestal. I’m fully transparent about all of my flaws and mistakes in dating.

Which is why I feel so strongly about Bobbi’s situation.

I’ve been in her position with a woman that I loved desperately.

Nobody made me laugh like this girlfriend. Nobody made me think like she did.

And yet nobody ever made me feel worse about myself.

Why?

Sometimes love isn’t enough. Attraction isn’t enough. Feelings aren’t enough.

Because of all the things you already know about me.

I’m very much a man.

I’m very much a flirt.

I’m very opinionated.

I can be very logical, even in the face of emotion.

And because of these qualities — which my wife seems to be able to tolerate — I was called “a sociopath,” “disgusting,” “disrespectful” and so on.

My girlfriend finally broke up with me after my friends went to a bachelor party and she didn’t like that I’d be friends with the kind of men who go to bachelor parties.

True story.

Two weeks later, she asked if we could reconcile. She knew I was a good person, but she couldn’t stop flying off the handle each time I talked to another woman — whether it was a middle aged bartender or a 17-year-old cashier.

She simply didn’t trust me — even though I’d never given her a reason not to.

As much as it pained me, I refused to try to reconcile. I loved her dearly, I wanted to make it work, but it was clear from our 6 months together that she couldn’t accept me for who I was.

And I refuse to be with someone who can’t fully accept me.

You should, too.

Sometimes love isn’t enough. Attraction isn’t enough. Feelings aren’t enough.

It doesn’t matter if 85% of the time he’s a great boyfriend, if the other 15% of the time he’s a selfish jerk.

I couldn’t “make” my girlfriend change to accept me and love me the way I deserved and you shouldn’t try to “make” your guy do ANYTHING.

Either he wants a long-term relationship and treats you like gold, or you’re out the door.

Otherwise, you’ll be in Bobbi’s position, spending a life waiting for a man to be someone that he’s not…

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Dylan

    As ever, its a personal choice thing. From my perspective, I experienced something similar with my previous relationship. We saw each other for a couple of years and 90% of the time, things were great… fantastic in fact. But the 10% was the pits! She didn’t make me think less of myself  necessarily, and with me being a man, there wasn’t any threat of  violence  at any stage, but the  psychological abuse was alive and kicking. I had broken up with her once before because I saw more if it creeping in, and thought it best to get the hell out of Dodge. Sadly, I let her talk me around, and we gave it another go.

    I suggested to her that perhaps she had some issues that needed  addressing, and that we could tackle it together. She didn’t see there was a problem, and this was one of the contributing factors in me calling it off for the final time. (should’ve listened to me!)

    That said, if the other half (of the relationship) can admit that they do have these “episodes” it can help to get them to write a letter to themselves. For example, in M’s case, the man seems to have admitted to himself that there are still issues he needs to resolve, and the episodes seem to be triggered by reminders he is about to be married. So, when things are “normal” Sit down together, and write a letter for him to read, that says something to the effect of:

    “look, when you’re thinking straight, its happy days. These are the reasons you are marrying this woman. You are not thinking straight right now, so do whatever you need to do to calm down, and then re-think the situation”

    and get them to sign it. Then when an episode  occurs  again, the letter comes out for them to read. I know its worked (so far) with my friend, but I cant say I have any first hand experience of it myself, but When I read about it (the technique), I thought it sounded like a good idea.

    I’m not suggesting all problems can be solved with a letter, but maybe its another wrench in the dating / relationship toolbox.
      

  2. 22
    Nouvel

    Evan, you’re brilliant. Really.

    I have taken great comfort in reading your blog daily. I can honestly say that your honesty, wisdom and no nonsense approach to dating has really gotten me to sit down and truly self evaluate my past actions in relationships. Everyone you say makes 100% sense and I feel like you have taught me a knew way of thinking and seeing the world. Thank you.

    I have all the confidence in the world that you will be the next Dr.Phil on TV 🙂

  3. 23
    Liz

    Dylan #21 you said, “…and with me being a man, there wasn’t any threat of  violence  at any stage….”

    Dude, you are lucky she didn’t physically abuse you, too.   Being a man does NOT mean that you are safe.   In fact, some of the worst female abusers are teeny little women because they know most men won’t hit back.   

  4. 24
    Ana

    I think it’s not Evan’s duty to educate any of us on abusers, he’s not a counsellor. But it is your own duty to learn as much as possible about other human beings, if you are going to interact with them. And especially if you know from your own history that you are prone to picking problematic partners.
    So, I suggest that you start with “Why does he do that” by Lundy Bancroft, who is an expert on the subject. There are early signs of abuse, you will learn to spot them, the question is what you are going to do about them. (Btw, I don’t think most of you would like his advice which in most cases is: ”Run!”, or you’ll think your relationship/man is an exception, as usual.)
    Evan, thank you very much for your hard work on this blog.
      

    1. 24.1
      Caroline

      Thanks Ana, I’m just reading Bancroft’s book now.

      Evan, I quite agree that you are doing a great job with this blog, and an excellent job at encouraging us. You are a treasure.

  5. 25
    annie

    I agree with all who say – “Run, Bobbi, run!!!”.   I  have always fallen for this type of guy, overlooking his verbal/other forms of  abuse, because that was what my mother  was like.   Seriously abusive, verbally and physically.   It took many sessions of counselling to point out that all my post-divorce relationships have been abusive (including my first child-bearing marriage), because I relate and feel comfortable with this type of conflict.   I have met several really sweet, kind guys who would have done anything to have me, but dismissed them because they were “boring”.   I had to learn (and this was really hard) not to fall for the “interesting” and “weird” and “different” guys.   I have recenly come out of a relationship where the guy was probably not abusive in the violent or verbal sense, but emotionally completely unavailable, leaving me to “run” the entire relationship.   I stopped myself after a year, looked back and realised what was happening…   Again, I was being abused by some guy who wasn’t going to expend any effort on me, so I just increased my efforts.   How very convenient.   And then I stopped, and dumped him.   He tried feebly to come back, but I stood firm.   Now I can look back and see clearly.

    In the backgound, there has always been a good, consistent, loving man, who would kill for me, but I have dismissed him on the “boring” basis.   Despite my falling for abusives, he has always been there, supporting, still telling me he loves me and will patiently wait.   Dear Lord, what am I waiting for?   This man really and truly loves me unconditionally.   He is not attractive or rich, but he is consistent, loving and very caring, and treats me like a princess.   Sometimes our Mr. Right is right under our noses,   We just have to see clearly….

  6. 26
    Tara

    “My girlfriend finally broke up with me after my friends went to a bachelor party and she didn’t like that I’d be friends with the kind of men who go to bachelor parties.
    True story.”

    I understand why Bobbi would leave her relationship, given that the   guy she’s with is showing strong signs of being an abuser.

    I don’t understand why Evan is criticizing his ex-girlfriend. This apparently “unbelievable” quote from her seems pretty normal to me, if I’m going to assume that he meant going to bachelor parties with a stripper involved.

    Ninety percent of my the men I know in my life have no interest in bachelor parties, or strippers, or flirting with every girl they see, because there’s more to life than constantly giving attention to or getting attention from the opposite sex.  

    Flirting with every female while in a relationship is pretty dodgy and it gives the impression that you need  other women to be attracted to you to be happy.  

    Second of all, none of my friends (male or female), would waste their time with somebody who goes to bachelor parties. I do know people who would (no friends of mine), but they would be considered downright low-life where I come from.

    Your ex-girlfriend isn’t at fault for not accepting a man who sees the appeal of sitting around with men leering at a naked woman, or who needs the constant validation he gets from flirting with other women.

    It very much sounds like she’s an intellect who can’t reconcile with the idea of women being viewed as objects who dance for men, or   the idea you seem to have that women can’t just be talked to on an intellectual/friendly level, but instead should be approached and communicated with in a flirtatious manner.

    If that’s what she dumped you for, then she should be viewed in a positive light.  It’s pretty low that she’s being used here in comparison to an abuser.

    C’mon, Evan. Surely you’re better than that.  

      

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Tara,

      1. I’m not better than that, so please don’t accuse me of it.
      2. If you read the story, I wasn’t even AT the bachelor party. I was with my girlfriend at her aunt’s 60th birthday party. I got dumped for my association with men who attend bachelor parties.
      3. If you’re invited to a bachelor party and it ends up at a strip club, you go. There’s a big difference between a man who is a Tuesday morning regular at the Love Machine and the guy who goes to Vegas once a year for a friend who’s engaged. If you can’t make that distinction, that’s fine, but you will find yourself with a much smaller percentage of men. While only 14% of men go to strip clubs regularly (according to one study), 78% have gone to strip clubs. That leaves you 22% of men – and leaves out guys like me and every man that I’ve ever met. That’s your prerogative, but if you dismiss men like me for the occasional strip club dalliance – good, honest, hardworking, sensitive, commitment-oriented men – you may be missing the big picture, that’s all.

      But, to reiterate, I was dumped because of a bachelor party I DIDN’T attend. Methinks someone is a bit too sensitive.

  7. 27
    Joyful Girl

    Evan, love your work!

    I’m glad you replied to Tara. It seems we have a difficult double standard we expect men to navigate, today (if not several of them). We want men to have friends and show evidence that they can bond, (nothing is quite as red a flag for me as a man who has no long-term friendships), but we would like to dictate how men share their time. We want men to be masculine and tough, but they’d better be sensitive, too. And we’ll judge a man in a minute who does NOT choose his girlfriend’s grandmother’s birthday party over a bachelor party at a strip club, then judge him for having friends who didn’t have anything more noble to do. (Yachting, perhaps?)

    And maybe Tara doesn’t ever go out with her girlfriends and have a “martini lunch,” talking about her boyfriend, her lovelife, and her preferences regarding men, (even pointing out the really cute waiter in the corner), but most of us do. (Shoot. It doesn’t even have to be a martini lunch… I work at a hospital and can tell you the nurse’s breakroom is full of that kind of talk!) If guys do that type of thing in a different style and venue then we do, so be it. I hardly think it makes them “downright lowlife.”  

    And yes. Berating a man you  are  dating, as your ex did to you, is abusive and manipulative.  I  hear myself and my friends continually excusing this behavior in the men  we date, questioning our own “radar,” and wondering if we are being “too picky,” or excusing it in ourselves, as if we have a right to “correct,” and “teach,” this man the “proper” way to act or live.

    My  work is to remind people that they have choices. If Bobbi chooses to keep dating this man, as you know, that’s her perrogative. That said, I would challenge her to make her choice out loud, in order to see how she really feels about it. She’ll have to say, for example, “I choose to give my love, time, youth and spirit to a man who yells at me, instead of having fair discussions. I choose to spend a large part of my waking life feeling like I am a bad person (stupid, too emotional, undervalued, et. al.), and I choose to keep a man around me who reinforces that feeling. I choose to believe that I cannot find a more suitable partner and that this man is as good as it gets for me.”

    At one point in my life, I chose an abusive man, largely because it afforded me the priveledge of being the “good one,” in the relationship. He was crazy, I was saintly to put up with him.  I’m not proud of that, I’m just telling you that, had I really investigated that choice, if I could have verbalized that choice I made every day, I’d have done things differently.

    Choices are empowering. Making a conscious choice to live in any situation makes that situation a place in which we can experience the joy of truly living our own calling and purpose, regardless of the  circumstances (like a soldier choosing to go to war, for example). However, I’ve found that, in order to make a conscious choice, it really helps to verbalize the good and bad of that choice. Know what you are choosing, before you say, “Yes. I will do this…”

    Again, thanks, Evan, for your insight. It’s enjoyable and sometimes very enlightening to read about relationships from your point of view. Thank you for sharing.

  8. 28
    AnnieC

    @27

    3. If you’re invited to a bachelor party and it ends up at a strip club, you go. There’s a big difference between a man who is a Tuesday morning regular at the Love Machine and the guy who goes to Vegas once a year for a friend who’s engaged.

    So the man who occasionally supports the sex industry and accepts male bonding over women they view as  sport, is a better bet than the man that frequents these establishments?

    A better bet for who? How shamed are women made out to be, when they do not accept an activity where men see female sexuality as sport.

    You seem to think that women who accept certain behaviour from men, are women who “get” men. Nonsense. These are women that are so focused on what they want( usually babies and financial security) that they don’t really care what you do.

    Keep tooting this old horn.

    Any females reading this, don’t give into this nonesense.

  9. 29
    Kristen

    Evan, your story is something I can relate to. I was with my ex-fiance for  many years. We kept trying to make it work. Even though I am now with a great guy– communication is so much better, I feel like we’re clicking in a way that ex and I didn’t, just a generally great guy– I still fantasize that my ex is the person I wanted him to be. I know that what we experienced is real, not my fantasy of what could have been. Kudos to you for staying away from something that wasn’t working. How do you stay grounded?

  10. 30
    Joe

    @ AnnieC: Evan is always saying you have to accept men as they are, not as you wish them to be, while at the same time kicking to the curb men who aren’t giving you what you want.

    The corollary is that if what you want is only found in a small percentage of men (e.g. those who’ve never been to a titty bar), then you are limiting your choices.   And that’s certainly your choice to make, but if you come bitching to Evan about it he’s gonna tell you so.

  11. 31
    JennaBee

    My therapist told me that dealing with emotionally abusive men is like like playing the slot machine. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. And that’s how they keep you hooked.

  12. 32
    BPD_1

    You talk about him being a ‘flawed human being’. I have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) which is pervasive in every aspect of a relationship. Does that mean I can’t have a successful love life?  

  13. 33
    JoeK

    @Annie C (#28)

    Please, don’t derail this blog entry with the sex-industry strawman nonsense. It’s been beaten to death by some knowledgeable posters (myself included) over on this blog entry: https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/marriage/my-husband-had-a-stripper-at-his-bachelor-party-and-im-still-angry/

    As Evan already pointed out – if you don’t want a man who’s been to a strip club, that’s fine…just remember that leaves only about 22% of American men for you to choose from. Within that 22%, you’ll also eliminate the men who have other characteristics which you don’t like (cheat, dishonest, not hardworking, etc).

    Good luck with that.

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