Dating Advice That Might Make You Mad

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

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

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

A reader wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I simply point out what I see.

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

Ask yourself exactly why you’re getting angry.

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

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

Observation: Men won’t always call after sex.

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

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

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

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

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

Observation: Men aren’t always commitment-minded

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which one are you going to be?

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Sayanta

    First of all- great post- I completely understand both sides of the argument. One thing though- and I’m going to take the risk that y’all might roll your eyes reading this.

    Throughout this site (and others)- hell, throughout the Internet, I only hear a few things about men- they’re selfish, don’t care to understand women, etc. etc. Point taken. This is what I find odd: don’t dating sites, blogs, etc., exist to help create harmony between the sexes? All I really get from reading comments, posts, etc., is that men are really just good for sex. Well, I can pay a gigolo for that. Say, for example, you have a woman who’s not very experienced reading things like this. What incentive does she have to be in a relationship, or to date guys, after reading this stuff? That is, what can a man offer her in terms of emotional fulfillment? The male sex doesn’t have much going for it, after all, right? Women are the compassionate, understanding ones. So, why bother?

    Kinda like what I’ve said in past posts, talked about with Ruby, Helen, A-L, etc. The consensus seems to be (I’m leaving my personal opinion out of this) that men really just…suck. And other men agree with this. So, um. What do we women do? Settle? Is a settled life worth living? I don’t know. Sorry if I’m rambling, I’m kinda thinking out loud here.

  2. 22
    Lee

    Evan my friend, I really like your articles. You are concise and insightful, they are interesting and often thought provoking. That being said…………..
    You need to stop and think about what motivated you to write this article. I have seen you bristle over this topic before, and the reason you feel you need to defend your position is the same reason you are indicting the person who took offense to your “observations about reality”.

    You need to take a step back and realize that sometimes people will be offended by something you said, not because your assertion was inheritantly offensive, but because when your assertion went through his/her personal “filter” they added in a lot of extra baggage to the statement that wasn’t even implied. This is where you need to take your own advice, and just acknowledge that “this is how people work” and you aren’t going to be able to change that. You can waste a lot of time spinning your wheels trying to justify your remarks, but why bother? It isn’t going to do any good, the people who do this are either too plagued by their own inner demons to see reality, or are trying to win an argument by causing you to divert from the original topic to a tangent topic, thereby wasting your energy and diluting your message.

  3. 24
    downtowngal

    Evan, to your observation that “Men don’t respond to women who are critical….”

    I don’t think that implies that these are women who hold strong opinions. I believe you’re referring to women who are often critical of men and expect to change them, or confront them at the wrong time.

    I interpret ‘women w strong opinions’ as women who know something about the world and like to discuss. For example, I studied political science/history in college and worked as an intern in DC for a while, so, yeah, I have opinions about politics. And the guys I’ve dated have enjoyed our conversations, even if we have different views. The key is that I don’t ram my views down their throats and demonstrate respect for their own points, just as I would show the same respect for a colleague/friend.

  4. 25
    Honey

    @ Lee, #23 –

    You officially win Wednesday, October 28, 2009’s “Smartest Person Ever” award 🙂

  5. 26
    Mikko Kemppe - Relationship Coach

    I agree with Honey on #26 and Lee on post #23 :).
    But for Evan’s defense it could be that he is just being really strategic about this because it surely is creating a lot of good debate and conversation, which can’t be bad for business :).

  6. 27
    Erika

    I used to believe that men and women were essentially the same, and that the reason why men behave the way they do is because of enculturation. But the older I get, the more I realize that men are just wired differently. There are a bevy of books on this subject to prove it, but I’ll just cite one: “If Men Could Talk, Here’s What They’d Say” by Alon Grotch. The key point Grotch makes is that men are different from women, and yet we women keep trying to make men become more like us. Maybe there’s something unique and special about men that we’re missing out on while we’re trying so hard to make them more like us.

    @Sayanta. I’m not really sure what you’re saying. I can’t tell if you agree that men suck or if you’re just paraphrasing what you think the general consensus is.

    I don’t think that men suck. I think there are men who suck. And I think there are women who suck too. I see a lot of women who blame men for their relationship problems without ever really looking at themselves to see what part they’ve played. I think we women have expectations that the men in our lives should be all that and a bag of chips, and we become disillusioned and disappointed when we discover that they are not. The idea that a man should provide us with emotional fulfillment seems like a huge burden to me. If a man expected that of me I’d get out of that relationship as fast as I could!

  7. 28
    Sayanta

    hell, it’s been a long day- I don’t know what I’m saying either. I really shouldn’t post on days like this…lol

  8. 29
    Curly Girl

    Thanks, Honey @ 19. You understand what I was saying. I was kind of surprised the EMK took such umbrage at what I said, but I just figured that it was about him, since he didn’t really get what I was saying.

    I wasn’t saying anything about the Law of Attraction–I don’t even know what that is. 🙂

    But it is the case that if there is a headline about men behaving badly that plenty of people respond. But the point is well taken–what does all this say about men and why would any man as so described here be appealing for an intimate relationship?

    So I say sure. Get guys who think like this out of your life. If that means being alone, be alone, and be happy that you don’t have to put up with that crap.

    But here is the rather nice little secret: You will not be alone. You will attract a higher quality guy. He will be the kind of guy who likes being with women, who respects them, and who probably doesn’t hang around with the guys who are so amply represented in the online community.

    Just a thought. 🙂

  9. 30
    Leah

    Amen!
    I hate it when people complain about others, yet will do nothing to change themselves.

  10. 31
    Sayanta

    oh, sorry for the double post- to clarify, when I mentioned Ruby, Helen, A-L, I wasn’t saying “men suck” was their opinion. I just threw their names in because we’d been having a discussion about successful women and the four of us were weighing in a lot. Sorry guys!

  11. 32
    Leah

    “If you can’t be with a man because it’s more important for you to be right than to get along, that doesn’t mean that everyone feels the same as you do.”
    This statement has an entire book written on it, “You can be Right or You can be Married,” by Brett Williams.

  12. 33
    amy

    OK, hang on. Lee writes:
    “You can waste a lot of time spinning your wheels trying to justify your remarks, but why bother? It isn’t going to do any good, the people who do this are either too plagued by their own inner demons to see reality”

    So…someone who sees things differently than Evan does is plagued by inner demons?

    Look, I understand that Evan has a lot invested here, and I’m sure he believes everything he’s saying, and that most people here feel it too. And from a strictly rational point of view that comes with no experience of being a woman, with or without children, what he’s saying makes perfect sense. The man’s not going to change, so if you want a man, go find out what men want — not what you think they should want, but what they really want — and then market yourself accordingly, and adjust your expectations for what’s in the Treasure Hunt box.

    That game works crackerjack, and I played it all over the place in college. Boy, does it work. It’ll get you in anywhere. But there are a couple of problems with it.

    The first problem is that it isn’t what you naturally do, or how your desires naturally run, and after a while you’re going to feel the strain. Yes, healthy, fit, middle-aged people go to trainers to learn a thing or two. Ask those people five years later if they ever do the exercises the trainers taught them. Answer: Probably not. They might have retained one or two, but on the whole either they’ve gone back to whatever they’ve done since college, or they’re chronic fitness-fad hoppers, picking up whatever novelty comes along.

    The second problem has more to do with my posts here. I came upon this blog in a second-guessing moment when I wondered if the lack of dates actually meant I was a really miserable, unpleasant person. After about five minutes of reading Evan’s advice, and thinking, “Bwahahahahaha,” I felt much better. Because you have no idea how much you’d have to pay me to follow advice like this. It’s good advice. Like I said, it works. But man oh man, that’s an expensive way to get a fella.

    Evan doesn’t know that, because he’s a guy. A relatively young guy who’s always known privilege, at that. And he has never lived with the consequences, for a woman, of following his advice, either on the mundane daily level, or on the level of seeing those costs stack up over decades. I would not be surprised to hear Evan protest angrily that he’s a feminist guy, that he’s all for strong confident women, etc. Nevertheless, the “show them you’re what they want” routine leads, ineluctably, to all the usual women’s burdens: carrying the relationship, doing the bulk of the “people work” in the marriage, seeing one’s time creep away into these chores, seeing the shift in role and others’ presumptions about your role, and finding as part of the reward diminished status, diminished pay, diminished respect, and some ugly long-term vulnerability in divorce.

    I’m perfectly happy to admit, by the way, that many women won’t notice this stuff, or, if they do, won’t care. As far as they’re concerned, so long as there’s love and harmony they don’t care about the rest. Plenty are also happy to trade autonomy and a portion of self for a nice house and wife-related status, at least until they start feeling a wee bit trapped or it turns out the guy is mean. But as someone who also came from privilege and ranked as an honorary man well into her 30s — until she married and had a child — you bet I feel the cost. And there’s no way I’d play that game again. It’s not a good bet for a woman. Yes, you get a man, but — with all respect — some prize! It’s just not enough in life.

    So. Am I tweaking myself to attract? Not on your life. This is it, man. Here’s the package. If it’s not to your liking, better to find out now. Because seriously, I look like hell most of the time. Tact, it’s not really my gift. Hair, nails — if it grows naturally and doesn’t have the word “tumor” attached, I’m probably not in a hurry to do anything about it. I do have makeup somewhere, but the best commentary on my application skills was probably supplied by a college boyfriend who got a washcloth and did me the favor of removing it. Resting and watching movies with you…eh, I’m not very good at it, and it’s from the bottom of my heart that I say I don’t want to meet your family. I’m well over my meet-the-parents-day quota as it is. In fact it’s best if you’re an orphan. And I hope you like to read at the table, because I’m sorry if it offends, but I’m going to. (I used to have a wonderful boyfriend – we’d bring whatever we were reading to restaurants. Talk for a while, and then — “Wanna read?” “Yeah.”) And yep, while I’ll make time for you, my kid, my work, and my own physical maintenance will generally come first, second, and third. That’s why it’s really best if you have your own life and interests, and like to run. Oh. And I hope you’re not jealous, because I’m still tight with a handful of ex-boyfriends going back 20 years, and at some point or other they’ll be coming to visit, with or without their families.

    Fifteen years ago I’d probably have seen a stance like that as needlessly confrontational and speaking to some sort of insecurity or bitterness. Now…well, now, when I say these things and when I hear other middle-aged women say these things, I know where it comes from. It comes from having met and known a tangible and powerful sexism that is still very much alive in the world, and deeply consequential on a daily, personal level. And I appreciate that there’s really no way of getting this across to those who haven’t been there. I was that 20-year-old chick, too, who was certain sexism was dead, and finding older women like this kind of scary and off-putting.

    The nice thing, though…there are men who respect it and see it for what it is. Always older men — 40s, 50s, 60s. Which is part of why I never lack for men to flirt with, and why men who don’t meet one of my requirements (Jewish, usually) show up in my inbox with literate, friendly notes, saying that my profile gave them a laugh, and that it was nice to see someone so real out there, that they wish me luck, and that I should keep on keeping my head screwed on straight.

    There’s another group of older men — often men who took the hit, once upon a time, for putting work second to a chronically ill or dying wife or child. For doing women’s work, essentially. They don’t flirt so much with me, though in another situation they might — they see I’m busy with serious work, raising a child, making a living. But they take the time to signal respect, and that means a lot to me.

    So, Evan, as usual, the long way around — it might not be necessary to be upset. Is it possible that your advice is gangbusters short-term, but gets mixed reviews long-term? I’m not suggesting you rush off and find stuff to put on your website — for one thing, you’ll look for whatever you can find to support your business. But keep it tucked away. Listen to divorce stories and the stories of 50, 60, 70, 80-year old-women who did the necessary to maintain harmony over decades. Look at their roles, ask what they gave up.

    Last year I visited my 86-year-old grandmother, who told me a new story; she’d won a national design competition in Mademoiselle when she was 18. She’d wanted to be a designer, but got married and got pregnant, and that was it. I’d known she’d painted, and that she’d stopped because the time away from family was upsetting my grandfather — I like her early paintings, some of which went to museums, but not the later ones, because you can see the lack of commitment.

    She showed me a letter from a teacher that mentioned the Mademoiselle contest, and made me read it. Later I realized that she did that because it was documentary proof, and she was afraid that I might not have believed her. That she had been able to do such a thing. It never occurred to me to doubt her. Yes, she was a housewife, she was married over 50 years in an Orthodox community, she did everything a good wife should do, and her husband was a wonderful husband. But she was also unable to hide who she was, and I have never seen anyone else so determinedly squash herself into a box that was obviously much too small. It cost her a hell of a lot, shalom bayis.

  13. 34
    Evan Marc Katz

    Amy,

    You are suggesting that any form of compromise somehow leads to being a miserable, 86-year-old woman. Great. Don’t compromise. Stop grooming. Read at the table. Live without tact. Good for you for living your life with integrity. You can be perfectly happy alone.

    However, there are many people who see fit to make compromises – I am one of them – who are extremely happy that they did. We compromisers are collectively known as “happily married” people. I can promise you that my happily married wife didn’t sacrifice her self-respect to be with me – although she did have to compromise. Your inference that women who actually live peacefully with men have sacrificed themselves is narrow and offensive. If you can’t be with a man because it’s more important for you to be right than to get along, that doesn’t mean that everyone feels the same as you do.

    This is just a roundabout way of saying that if my dating advice makes you go Bwahahahahaha, well, then, you certainly don’t need to be reading it.

    Go get your laughs elsewhere and leave this space to people who actually want to learn how to have a healthy relationship with a man.

    I don’t mind dissent; I don’t tolerate hecklers.

  14. 35
    DPU

    In regards to online dating:
    For girls, the pic is 90% of what they judge a guy on, and the other 10% is what he says/writes. Now this 10% is important and its where a lot of guys fail, but the pic is by far the most important.
    For guys, the pic is 100%. Of course its nice if she writes something interesting but from what i see, a hot girl could send an message and only say “hey” but if shes cute the guy will reply back, not so the other way around.
    I go on and on about this on my blog, its quite a fun topic. Men and women think really different, in ways i am starting to really appreciate.

  15. 36
    Heathecliffe

    I’ve never tried to change a man in my life. Just tell me I don’t have to ‘settle’ and that there is someone out there for me and I’ll never get angry. 😉

  16. 37
    Steve

    People born rich and the most brilliant scientists aside, some compromise is an essential ingredient in getting along in all areas of life, not just dating.
    That is reality.
    People who think otherwise should begin paying attention to the results they are getting in their lives.

  17. 38
    Steve

    Evan, post # 34 is brilliant is that it is something many adults have never grown up enough to see nor accept, to their detriment. However, I had to chuckle on the first part of it. Of all the interpersonal complaints I read “reading at the table” is usually not one of them 🙂

  18. 39
    Steve

    @Jennifer, post #13.

    It is a lot more effort to get up early on a Sunday, put on your best clothing and drive to a church you don’t agree with than it is just to pop into a blog that is tangentially related to something you want to vent about.

    That is why Evan gets commentators who aren’t interested in LTRs, but Churches don’t get people interrupting sermons with excerpts from Richard Dawkins.

  19. 40
    isabelle_archer

    Oof, this is getting heated. Evan, I think you’re missing a bit of legitimate substance in Amy’s comment (though I respect that you’re trying to cultivate some manners in your commenters). Specifically, I think you’re missing the difference between two-sided compromise and one-sided “selling” yourself. Your response to Amy suggests that two-sided compromise is the path to happiness in a relationship — fair enough. But the tone of some of your advice, and the specific examples in your post, sometimes come off as an admonition that women need to “sell” themselves to get a man, and men aren’t going to change. That’s a really, really different thing from mature, peaceful, mutual compromise you discuss in your answer to Amy.

    I’m not quite as experienced as Amy, but I know enough to have figured out that if I present myself as something I’m not — say, a girly girl — with the idea that “all men like that” and “I have to do that to get a man” — I’m going to be terribly unhappy. Because I’m not a girly girl, and it’s going to make me feel criticized and alienated and bad about myself to be with a man who expects me to be that way — EVEN IF I can manage to pull it off long enough to hook him. And the fact is, plenty of guys don’t actually like girly girls — they prefer me in jeans and a t-shirt. So by changing my behavior to fit some notion of “what men like,” I’ve actually set myself up for relationship fail. This is a completely different concept from the mutual compromise that leads to a happy marriage.

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