Is It You Or Is It Men?


It recently occurred to me that I have two types of clients:

1) Women who are their own greatest problem — too busy, too picky, too egotistical, too shy, too negative, too passive, etc.

2) Women who are absolutely delightful with only one issue: they’re terrible at picking men.

Who do you think is easier for me to assist?

Look in the mirror and ask yourself — am I too picky, too egocentric, too passive — or have I simply never paid attention to the men who were excited about me?

Is it easier to tell a busy woman who is married to her job to take more time for love? To tell a 39-year-old woman who looks great for her age that she should open up to slightly older men instead of hoping for a hot 35-year-old? To convince a woman with a history of emotional abuse that men are not the enemy?

Or is it far simpler to teach women to value men who value them in return?

Yeah, it’s not such a mystery after all.

I’ve got three clients right now who are on the cusp of relationships after less than two months of working with me. They’re different, but their stories are the same.

They range from 40-51 years old and are bright, likeable, and attractive.

They had some bad experiences, made some mistakes, wasted some time on the wrong men, and, after reading Why He Disappeared, inquired about working with me. All fit neatly into my second category of delightful women with bad pickers.

And once we rebranded them on, and let the process take its course, it was only a matter of time until good things started to happen. (To be fair, one of these women met her guy through Speed Dating, so I can’t take credit.)

But what each of them is experiencing is what it feels like to be valued by a man.

Their new guys call them every day. They pay for every meal. They say they’re starting to fall for them. They’re taking down their profiles. They’re talking about a future.

My clients can’t believe that it was that easy to find men who would treat them so kindly and consistently.

But that’s not because those men aren’t out there.

That’s because my clients never chose those men before.

Still, my delightful women worry about screwing up — what if I say something wrong, what if it’s not right, what if, what if, what if.

You know what I tell them?

When a guy is into you, you CAN’T do anything wrong.

Just appreciate his effort and make him feel rewarded for being so good to you.

Yes, it’s that easy.

So look in the mirror and ask yourself — am I too picky, too egocentric, too passive — or have I simply never paid attention to the men who were excited about me?

If it’s the latter, you’re a lot closer to love than you even realize.

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  1. 1

    Evan, here’s a question for you. Do you think there could be a third category there too? Meaning, women who are nice and do value men and whatnot, but because of some abuse and poor choices, have become more closed off or negative or have just written men off altogether?

    I for one, think there is, because I see bits of both in me. I once LOVED men. I mean I was like a moth to a flame with them. Always flirting, having fun, lots of guy friends, guys wanting to date me. But then I met some wrong ones who could definitely sniff out my poor self esteem, and because of the poor self esteem, picked out the abusive ones because I thought they just needed a woman to love them. And the abuse took its toll. Sure, I’ve grown a LOT smarter about dating, but with that knowledge there is also a lot of difficulty in trusting again.

    I want to trust men, I want to like them, I do value the nice ones, and do value the really good one I have now. But part of me keeps thinking, yeah and what if he wants to marry? Maybe he won’t be that nice after settling into married life, and might be the prince that turns into a frog? I’ve watched marriages and relationships crumble around me left and right in the last year or so and it’s left me thinking that maybe growing old alone, might not be all that bad after all.

    Anyone else in that boat here too?

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Heather. Nothing involving relationships is purely binary. I make those simplistic distinctions to make a point and provoke thought. So yes, there can certainly be a third category. But here’s the thing with members of that third category: it’s all on you to change, not on men.

      I’m not going to play psychologist, dig into your past or try to fix a few decades of self-esteem issues – either in this blog or as a coach.

      I will tell you something obvious and true, though: you can’t be treated in any way that you don’t allow yourself to be treated.

      That gets rid of the abusive guys. Instantly. Definitively. Some women see a guy who is a selfish, petulant child and try to win his love, hoping he’ll change. Others won’t give him time past the third date. From now on, you’ll be in the second category.

      As far as fear that the amazing new guy turns into a bad guy? I don’t see why you’d conclude that at all. Shouldn’t he be equally worried that YOU’LL turn into a cold, selfish, heartless, golddigging shrew? No? Well then imagine his surprise when he learns that you think he’s going to suddenly morph into an asshole after he puts a ring on your finger.

      I’m not saying that people don’t get complacent in relationships, but simply that it’s a two way street, and that fear is a completely useless emotion – as it will only hold you back from having a safe, authentic, healthy relationship. You can choose to be alone to avoid getting hurt, or you can make better decisions and choose men with character for a lifetime relationship.

      What’s it gonna be?

    2. 1.2
      Jenny Ravelo

      Both of categories can easily be part of the third one that you’re suggesting. Being too busy, to shy, too anything is usually a self-defense mechanism to cover trust issues and fear of committment. Being bad at picking men is also a self-defence mechanism or emulation of your parents behavior among them or towards you.

      We usually don’t notice this because this attitude doesn’t always comes from an obvious abuse, but from certain attitudes such as relative coldness or emotional distance from our parents at a certain point of our lives when we were too young to remember.

      I’m no psychologist and can only speculate but my bet is that there was a deeper reason to choose the wrong types.

  2. 2
    Karl R

    Heather asked: (#1)
    “Do you think there could be a third category there too?”

    It sounds to me that you started in category 2 (picking abusive men) and have moved to category 1 (too negative/suspiscious).

    Heather asked: (#1)
    “Maybe he won’t be that nice after settling into married life, and might be the prince that turns into a frog?”

    You need to have more self-confidence and faith in yourself.

    Faith and self-confidence won’t keep you from getting a frog. That could happen anyway. But if my fiancée ultimately turns out to be a horrible person, I know that I can rely on myself to do the right thing … I’ll leave that toxic environment.

    If you can trust yourself to leave an abusive relationship, you don’t need to fear getting trapped in one. At worst, you’ll have to go through the difficulty of leaving one.

  3. 3

    Evan – Could you please define “slightly older”? My definition would be within 10 years of my age at the outside. Not to say that is my cutoff (depends on the guy; I have dated upto 13 years older). But if you say be open to slightly older and you mean 15+, I am probably going to have to say “no thanks”.

    Otherwise, I think you are right. I am too busy and need to make time.

  4. 4

    Evan, I agree with you about making better decisions in the future. And of late, I’d like to think that I’m more in the second category, I do value guys, like them, and certainly don’t want to hate them. We’re all responsible for our own actions and I certainly don’t blame all men for the actions of a few guys who were not good to me.

    But I wonder, is fear really a useless emotion? Fear from my past has actually helped, in an odd way. The hackles going up, feeling like I need to get outta somewhere in a hell of a hurry, helped me get away from a few bad guys before even meeting a guy in person, or ending a first date and not allowing a second date. It’s helped me to watch out for more red flags than when I was single and then met my ex husband, totally Mr. Wrong. Has it possibly been misplaced fear and kept me from being around some good guys? Oh I’m sure, perhaps. But still, that fear has also motivated me to do better, be more picky, be more cautious about men in general.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Heather, you just said you have a great boyfriend and are afraid that one day he’ll fall out of love with you. THAT fear is a useless emotion. It’s like me waking up every day afraid of dying of cancer. How about I wait until I get cancer to start fearing it?

  5. 5

    @ Karl, well here’s the thing. I am certainly not afraid of being trapped in a toxic environment, leaving two abusive relationships taught me that yes, I can leave, yes I deserve more, and no, I should never tolerate any kind of abuse at all, ever.

    My fear is that despite all the hard work I’ve done, and what I learned in therapy, didn’t stick and bam, I’m back with another rotten apple. I often want to ask folks, so how do you KNOW that that person is going to stick with you until the end? How do you feel about not knowing, yet taking that leap anyways? Isn’t that scary as hell? That’s more of where I am right now.

    Evan is right that being alone permanently can prevent that hurt, but then you’re alone, and I certainly get that. But I definitely want to make damn sure that it’s Mr. Right, not Mr. Right for five years until he wakes up and decides he’s “just not in love with me anymore” or “things aren’t working out” and bolts out the door.

  6. 6

    Evan, yes, THAT fear I agree with you about. What I mean is just a reasonable amount of fear/caution whatever. Like the old saying goes, “Those who do not remember the past, are doomed to repeat it.” Every time I would catch myself being interested in a guy that was clearly some kind of trouble or head case, my mind would flash back to my ex husband and his violence, and then suddenly, poof. No more interest in the potential guy. That is what I’m referring to.

  7. 7


    It sounds like you’ve had trouble trusting your gut instincts in the past, but it also sounds like you’ve gotten a lot better about that, and it’s helped you to pick a great guy rather than another abuser. No one has a crystal ball, but I would say that good communication with your boyfriend, and trusting your gut when something doesn’t feel right, is key. That’s what you’re referring to when you talk about how fear has motivated you. If you need that motivation in the future, it will be there for you again.

  8. 8
    Karl R

    Heather asked: (#6)
    “I often want to ask folks, so how do you KNOW that that person is going to stick with you until the end?”

    I don’t. It is possible that my fiancée could leave me. Since she’s older than me, it’s also probable that she’ll die before me.

    Heather asked: (#6)
    “How do you feel about not knowing, yet taking that leap anyways?”

    I either take the plunge, not knowing the outcome, or I never take the plunge.

    I’d rather proceed with uncertainty, rather than let fear of the unknown limit my life.

    Heather asked: (#6)
    “Isn’t that scary as hell?”

    It’s pointless to worry about that. It’s outside of my control.

    I do what I can to make our relationship successful. Beyond that, I don’t worry about it. Being scared does not improve our relationship’s odds of success.

    Heather asked: (#5)
    “is fear really a useless emotion?”

    If you’re letting the fear warn you away from someone who is bad news, it’s useful. If you’re using the fear to give you the energy/awareness to help deal with a situation, it’s useful.

    Unless it’s obvious how the fear is helping you, then it’s probably not helpful in that circumstance.

  9. 9

    @ Ruby,

    Yes, that’s exactly it, you put into words for me what I wasn’t really able to say. I only recently started getting very gun-shy about the whole idea of remarriage, after watching several long marriages dissolve, for no really “good” reason, except selfishness on the one partner’s part. It just made me think good lord, the folks I knew going through those divorces, were pretty smart, level headed people who gave ME lots of advice about relationships. So if it’s happened to them, what makes me think it won’t happen to me, and holy god do I really want to risk that again? The first time ruined my credit, broke my heart, and left me fearful of any guy with a hint of temper. I don’t want to think what a second divorce would do to me! Maybe time will help that fear subside, I’ve been divorced for 5 years, separated for 6. I don’t know. EMK and Karl are of course right, too much fear is not good, and nobody knows the future.


    What you say makes sense, I think I’m experiencing what another dating blogger, Paige Parker, describes as guys freaking out about commitment in general, not that one person. And the fact that I have a nice man that for once, isn’t mean, nasty, abusive, and just awful to me, scares me, because I’d become so accustomed to bad treatment, bad dates, that I didn’t have any idea what a good boyfriend could be like. I’m just doing the reverse. Instead of commitment, I’m afraid of the guy morphing into a real twit, like EMK was saying above. I’m hoping that with time, it will get easier.

    But I’m very glad for the input, and I appreciate it Evan.

  10. 10

    “The hackles going up, feeling like I need to get outta somewhere in a hell of a hurry, helped me get away from a few bad guys before even meeting a guy in person, or ending a first date and not allowing a second date.”

    This sounds like intuition to me, and a strong one at that. In context of fear being or not being a useless emotion, how about changing that to trusting your intuition? It’s usually never wrong.

  11. 11

    Heather #1, many many men are reading this wondering why a woman would go for an abusive man. Specifically, how did the attraction develop between you and the abuser, while you found yourself NOT attracted to the nice guys who surely asked you out. What went on in more detail on the early dates.

    This is my theory: A woman goes on a first date with Nice Guy. They have a pleasant conversation about their careers and their hobbies (what do you know, he’s into good clean fun!). Again, it was a pleasant interaction, but they didn’t really connect. They basically showed each other their “polite” side. There was hardly an emotion triggered on her end. So no second date. Then she hangs out with Abuser. He doesn’t stick to the polite first-date script, he instead tells her some pretty rough tales of his life. But he also shows a hint that he can be sweet and that maybe she is woman enough to be the one who can reach him. It also frees her to express the darker sides of her personality that she doesn’t feel safe to express with anyone else. So she is drawn in.

    Am I at all warm here?

  12. 12

    @Heather – I agree about the third category. I’ve had seemingly wonderful guys (“nice guys”) who called every day, talked about falling in love, talked about a future with me…asked to move in with me, talked about kids, were essentially my boyfriends, etc. for months. Only to find out that these guys had girlfriends (or wives) still in the picture. It is possible to do the “right things” (ie. follow Evan’s advice) and still get duped by some slick operators.

  13. 13

    @ Heather:

    “But I definitely want to make damn sure that it’s Mr. Right, not Mr. Right for five years until he wakes up and decides he’s “just not in love with me anymore” or “things aren’t working out” and bolts out the door.”

    Early in our marriage, my husband once told me that he’d fallen out of love with me, but wanted to stick around for the kids. Since this was preceded by about two years of verbal abuse, it didn’t come as a surprise. One of the reasons I finally left him years later, even though things got sort of better (seeing as they couldn’t get any worse…) was because I couldn’t stand the suspense: what if he pulls this again? what if he does it, not while I’m still young and can make a good living on my own, but when I’m old and sick? So yeah, I understand where you’re coming from. However, in my case, he’d already done it once, and failed to make a complete 180 in the following years, which made the possibility of him doing it again, in my opinion, pretty high. What’s the possibility of your BF, who’s never been anything but a nice guy, doing this to you? I’d say very low. Is it, however, zero? No, technically, anything is possible. Can you prevent it by worrying? No. I do occasionally wonder the same thing about my BF. As in, he’s been nothing but awesome, but I don’t rule out the possibility of him “falling out of love and walking out”. I just tell myself, that, in the highly unlikely case that it happens, it won’t be the end of the world. I’ll still have my friends and family, and all the life I used to have before we met. I was happy then, and I could definitely be happy again in the same setting. Then I put the whole thing out of my mind and stop worrying about it, because frankly I have more serious things to worry about (two teenage kids, single income, you get the drift, lol) Good luck.

  14. 14
    Saint Stephen

    I think it all boils down to the nice guys versus bad guys debate. My guess is that if Heather had dated a nice guy earlier she would have run for the hills because he’d just be overly predictable and plain boring. No challenge.

    However many women will eventually come to cherish and appreciate the nice guys after being at the other end of the relationship spectrum. The nice guys suddenly becomes a breath of fresh air . Sadly, most nice guys might be already taken by the time some women come to realize the difference between a good relationship and a toxic one.

  15. 15

    What is you do pick the “nice” guy–that is excited to be with you…and months down the road, his demeanor changes from zen to crazy and hellish? Then what? On a separate note…how long does it take to get over someone…someone that is absolutely no good for you??

  16. 16

    I can relate to Heather. fully. from day one–I have met someone (now an ex) and he was completely different from the person he turned out to be – a year later. He was calm, peaceful…then after 8 months or so, he had road rage, was constantly confrontational with me and all other around him, people he worked with or just came into contact with. He demeanor changed completely. It blind sided me. so–i want to remain optimistic about people I meet–and give them the benefit of the doubt…but in the back of my mind…I am waiting for the shoe to drop. Because, you never know…what truly lies beneath. I don’t want to invest time AND emotion to find out down the road–8 months later that his personality is completely different–on the negative side. Or that he is abusive in nature. It’s truly a scary feeling, to wear your heart on your sleeve, and give a man the benefit of the doubt. I do want to let someone in, but my past has taught me to be cautious. How do you must proceed–without any walls?

  17. 17
    Saint Stephen

    I wonder why the women on here (particularly… Heather) are fretting over your guy falling out of love and walking out the relationship. This isn’t a one way street. C,mon don’t tell me you’ve never considered the distinct possibility that you could be the one who suddenly grows bored along the line and decide to quit the relationship… leaving the man hanging.

    The comments generated here could nearly convince someone that only men fall out of love/quit relationships.

  18. 18

    Michael17. Wow…you basically just described my very last/recent relationship that ended about 2 months ago. Upon meeting this “nice” guy from an online site…I actually wasn’t even attracted to him. didn’t care if he called again–or not. But — he pursued me, not to aggressively–but he did pursue me. And yes, he puts his best foot forward-claiming he is into buddhism, all zen-like, yada yada. The golden rule, etc., etc. There is no immediate spark from me. We go out a few more times…and he reveals painful dark secrets from childhood — and I guess it triggers me to reciprocate…and the rest is history. Fast forward–he is a verbally abusive, and becomes emotionally withdrawn man ultimately. We are no longer in touch. Yet, I miss him. WHY????! Michael–answer? Other than I need therapy. Which clearly, I do. But at least there is no contact now.
    That’s how an abuser approaches women I take it? never got involved with someone like that before.

    1. 18.1

      You miss him, because he made you feel needed.   That was his draw with the “poor me” stories.   Abusers chose women who are a) highly compassionate b) maternal and c) have low self-worth (which is why making love decisions when you’re enduring hardship isn’t the best idea).

      I have some “poor me” stories myself, but I’m realizing a healthy individual doesn’t disclose this information too early in the process of dating, ESPECIALLY men.   Think about it, men are notoriously protective of their egos, and ensuring they are seen as confident and in control of their emotions.   So, why would a man reveal his mistakes and vulnerabilities so early in a relationship with someone he hardly knows?   There are only two motivations for this a) it’s still affecting him or b) it’s a manipulation.



  19. 19

    St. Stephen-now having been in a toxic relationship–I can certainly appreciate a normal, nice and yes, “boring” guy that is respectful and appreciative of a loyal good woman.

  20. 20

    Pre-nup quells many fears about a guy walking out on me. He won’t bankrupt me, I won’t get rich off him, there won’t be some long, drawn-out divorce proceedings…. Of course, there’s plenty of devastation in a divorce besides the financial stuff but protecting each party’s money goes a long way to making both people feel more secure.

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