When Did Guys Lose All The Power In Dating?

Dear Evan,

I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and most of the comments are great to read as well. The one thing that bothers me a little is the sense I get from your posts and the comments that men have all the power in the dating/relationship game and it’s always the woman chasing the man for a date/relationship/marriage/babies/etc.

As an early 30’s male, I struggle with dating. It hasn’t been all bad, nor am I saying that I’m unattractive or in some way undesirable enough that I can’t get any woman to like me. I’m an average-looking (perhaps above average-looking) guy who isn’t very tall (5’7”). I do like to think that I have a lot to offer, including a good overall personality and sense of humor, but for some reason I tend to go out with girls who are ‘masculine’ like in their dating personalities (afraid of commitment, wants to date multiple men, A-type personality.) A lot of times I can get a girl to be initially attracted to me, but for some reason it never lasts. The girl almost always ends up telling me that she “doesn’t know quite what it is, but it’s just not there.” This frustrates me because I’m left confused, not knowing what it is I’m doing – or not doing – to turn these women off. I don’t think I’m being too clingy or anything like that. I have this feeling, though, that I’m being too ‘nice’ and not having enough of a masculine energy to sustain attraction in these women. Btw – most of the girls I date are from JDate, and no – I don’t only go for 9’s and 10’s.

I can’t be the only guy who goes through this stuff and I’m kinda tired of this stereotype that guys have all the power in the dating world. Do you have any words of wisdom for me?



Dear Jay,

Even though I bill myself as “dating coach for smart, strong, successful women,” 25% of my clients were “nice guys” for the first six years of my practice.

Smart, strong, successful women need to soften up.

Nice guys need to man up.

In fact, if I were to think about it, I have a lot in common with both my male and female clients. I’m the “smart, strong, successful” type myself, and I have the flaws that often go with that archetype – I’m driven, opinionated, bossy, critical, and difficult. At the same time, I’m a nice guy. I was the lovelorn teenager who’d befriend all the pretty girls in high school but didn’t lose his virginity until sophomore year of college.

So I have a real understanding of both sides and how each needs to make a few subtle shifts to have more success in love.

Smart, strong, successful women need to soften up.


Nice guys need to man up.


But the prognosis is good for you, Jay. You’re easier to help than many of the women I work with. I’m not making any judgments, of course, but objectively, it’s easier to find a wife for a 32-year-old relationship-oriented man who doesn’t need to date 10’s than it is to find a husband for a 43-year-old woman who wants her own biological children.

Where to begin in the space of a 1000 word blog post?

Let’s start with your mindset.

You nailed it. You’re not giving off a lot of masculine energy. And women (especially smart, strong, successful ones) want a man who is MORE man than they are.

I hearken back to Dr. Pat Allen who said, “If you tell a man what to do and he listens, he isn’t a man.” This is not a call to arbitrarily be more obstinate, but rather to have your own opinions and convictions. Make decisions. Take control.

(To the women reading this and saying, “YES!”, that means you have to LET him take control and make decisions, not micromanage him to doing what YOU want. )

Once you put a woman up on a pedestal, she’s immediately looking down at you.

Next, Jay, I want you to check out a book. It’s called “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Dr. Robert Glover. I read it to understand Nice Guy Syndrome and thought it was spot-on. He points out that being “nice” is a pathology and a form of martyrdom that is highly ineffective, and somewhat manipulative. As such, you can’t “nice” your way into a woman’s heart, but you can be a man and still be extremely nice.

I’d like to think that my wife thinks of me this way.

In any case, pick up a copy of the book here on my bibliography page.


Finally, I want you to keep in mind my Pedestal Principle, as outlined in my Finding the One Online audio series. It states:

“Once you put a woman up on a pedestal, she’s immediately looking down at you.”

And that’s the thing that nice guys don’t quite understand. You think you’re being good to her, but she loses respect for you because you have no balls whatsoever.

That’s what happens when you’re a pleaser and you’re not being pleased in return. A power imbalance results, and you never recover from it. I’m willing to guess that this has happened with most of your girlfriends who’ve dumped you. They had the power, you lost the control, and the rest is history.

In a healthy relationship, there’s a mutual respect – a respect that’s earned with having your own convictions. Men with convictions have a LOT of power in the dating game – as evidenced by the hundreds of thousands of heartbroken women who read this blog.

But you’re right about how frustrating it is – you watch a bunch of selfish tools use women for their short-term gain – and you wonder why they’re attracted to those men. It’s because they’re confident, unpredictable, and they don’t have all the control.

So what do you do now?

You make the immediate shift that SHE’S the lucky one in the relationship and that it’s up to YOU if you decide to be exclusive or get married. This is the exact same thing I tell my “nice women” who have given away their power to men.

And once you learn to say no and stand on conviction, you might be surprised when women start treating you differently – like a man, not a boy.

You’re the catch. You’re the commodity. And the right person is going to get that and hold onto you for dear life. If he/she doesn’t value you and want to commit? Fuck ‘em.

Move on.

It’s called the Power of No. And once you learn to say no and stand on conviction, you might be surprised when women start treating you differently – like a man, not a boy.

Good luck and thanks for the jolt of testosterone in today’s mailbag.

By the way, I do still work with a handful of motivated male clients.

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  1. 31

    Bill #26

    Correct, and the reason they dismiss each other is the failure to recognize themselves as the bottom 80%.

  2. 32
    Karl R

    Jay said: (original post)
    “I have this feeling, though, that I’m being too ‘nice’ and not having enough of a masculine energy to sustain attraction in these women.”

    I doubt that you’re being too nice.

    Twenty years ago I thought nice guys never got anywhere. As time passed I realized that confidence  (whether real or perceived) was the main attribute that defines success in the early stages of dating.

    A few tips:
    Have a plan. Which sounds more confident:
    “So, would you like to get together this weekend to do something?”
    “I’m planning to go hear [live band] at [venue] Saturday evening. Would you be interested in joining me?”
    It takes a little research to come up with a plan for a date. The results are worth the effort.

    Have opinions. Be willing to share your opinion when it’s different than hers. You don’t want to belittle her opinion; you want to be able to state what you believe and why you believe it.

    Have boundaries. Don’t do anything that you don’t want to do. I’ll try new things to find out whether I like them, but I won’t suffer through something I don’t like just because a woman wants me to.
    An ex-girlfriend once mentioned that she occasionally liked to smoke pot, particularly before sex. Since I’m allergic to smoke, the following conversation ensued:
    “Not while I’m in the house.”
    “Are you telling me what I can or can’t do in my own house?”
    “No. I’m telling you that if you light up, I’m out of your house until the smoke clears.”

    Have options. I’m currently in a long-term serious relationship. But at the beginning of the relationship, I didn’t know whether it would work out. If it hadn’t, I knew who I would have asked out next. Based on my experiences I learned that I could repeatedly end up in long-term relationships with amazing women. Success was inevitable; I just had to keep trying long enough. That confidence permeated my behavior.

    As a final thought, all of these recommendations (have a plan, have opinions, have boundaries, have options) can be done while still being a nice guy.

  3. 33

    Selena 29

    I’m thinking Ruby #28 might be onto something here J.A.. The pattern you are seeing may not be because you are “too nice”, but the result of you choosing women who the same or similiar qualities.
    That is a good point.  I’ve noticed that many of the women on online dating sites are workaholics or who are very into traveling.   It makes sense, if you are working all of the time or traveling a lot, it is harder to meet people.   I’ve dated  a few women from the former group.  They talked about their boring jobs too much and were hard to get out of the office onto a date.

  4. 34

    @Stacy and Bill
    “the bottom 80%”?   Am I the only one who sees the irony in that term?

  5. 35

    LOL Steve. No you are not the only one. 😉

  6. 36

    Interesting blog! A couple of comments…
    (1) I really like what Denise #3 and #12 has to say. I will add that boys are growing up really confused about their role when it comes to women. It’s gotten so bad that I am hoping that mothers *as well as* fathers step in for their son’s sake. A lot of boys are going out into the dating world handicapped. It’s like cats in the jungle declawed.
    (2) I can understand each gender feeling that the other gender has the power. See we all like to date “slightly up”. Most of the winks that I get I’m not interested.
    (3) I can see shorter guys feeling that they don’t have much power. Except for maybe 1 wink or email a *month*, pretty much the only way a woman will contact me is if I write her first. I have about a 30% response rate though, so my emails must be pretty good.
    (4) Yeah, there are a lot of unrealistic expectations and porous boundaries of people online, at least when it comes to dating people in the 28–40 year-old age range. Second dates are hard to come by.

  7. 37

    As for the OP’s situation, women coming on strong and pulling away, what Christine Hartman said, but I will hazard a couple explanations:
    (1) In the end, this is like musical chairs. It’s Reptilian instinct to want to have the power when it comes to the decision making. There is a tendency to want the other person to be into us and THEN we decide whether we are into them. I suspect that these women are doing that to the OP–trying to charm him by cheerleading his butt off so he’ll be into them (and they’ll get ti decide whether to keep seeing him), and then deciding from among a few suitors whom they want to keep seeing.
    (2) There are a lot of perceived options in online dating. She went out with the OP, but she is getting emails from guys who have amazing profiles. So she is comparing the OP, something of a known quantity because she already went out with him, to all these mysterious men who just wrote her and who have these awesome profiles.
    (3) I’m wondering how the OP acts towards the women when they tell him how into him he is. Is he indulging them by texting back and forth with them? Maybe he is like water to their thirst, quenching it too easy….

  8. 39

    @38   Hey Evan, I didn’t know your blog no longer took HTML tags.  Could you edit them out of my comment number 38?
    BTW, I use the same kind of blogging software as you do ( wordpress ).  There is a plugin that will allow people to edit their comments.   It could be nice.

  9. 40
    Christie Hartman

    Yeah, as Michael17 and some others have suggested, I think a woman who texts and says she misses him that much after 2 or 3 dates is a HUGE red flag that the OP isn’t picking up on. Many guys would get really uncomfortable at that.
    As far as the challenges of online dating go, I think the best way to arm yourself is the have realistic expectations (know that you’re going to deal with a good amount of weird people, rejection, unrealistic expectations for instant chemistry, etc) and to learn as quickly as possible how to read people. Studies have shown that people have more picky/stringent requirements when dating online than they do when dating “offline.” You kind of have to weed through the crap until you find the gem.

  10. 41

    @Christie #25
    “Power” isn’t something a physically short average looking man can “create” online unless he can create or convey income/wealth,which will give him status,and value.It has very little to do with just “attitude” & “behaviors”(although they do matter) and a lot more to do with physical attractiveness,height,job title,income,etc….. If you’re a short blue collar guy,your attitude and behavior is irrelevant because you’ll have no value
    to women online.Now if you mean “create through your behavior” by getting a better education/job/more income than you’re right.By the way I never said “dating sucks” so I hope you weren’t referring to me.It’s just for guys like Jay,myself and the other half billion men around the world doing “online dating” it’s become so intertwined with “offline dating”(<—you know those rare people that date and have never had to use the internet to do it…lol) that it’s changed the who has more”power”in dating reality drastically.
    You’re right that sort of “come on strong then pull away” behavior is more common in men but women do it too.I know because it happened to me. Commitmentphobia is an equal opportunity disease as written in the book
    “He’s Scared,She’s Scared” by Steven Carter.

  11. 42

    Yet another reminder of how in-tune with reality Evan is. (Which is to say, very.)
    I have frequently dated women who would intimidate other men (career drive/money/forceful personality/height), and as the old song goes, they were always women to me.
    I think men often get lost in society – the word needs to be spread that you can be socially capable, open-minded AND very masculine.

  12. 43

    @ Bill (#27):

    I’m pretty sure I read this (or something similar) in a comment in one of Evan’s previous blog entries: The person with the most power in a relationship is the one who cares the least about the relationship.

  13. 44

    i have to agree with what jb has been saying. i dont mean to make it about height because there are already other posts and emails about that but if you’re 5’11″” or below then you’re at a huuuuge disadvantage in the dating world, especially the online dating world. women are easily as superficial as men, if not more.
    christie- i def. should have taken that as a huge red flag but it’s not easy because it really feels good when somebody tells you they miss you, even after only a few dates…
    michael- i actually am attracted to those types of women… seems the feeling isn’t mutual though.
    karl- you are my fav poster on here

  14. 45
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach

    As a dating coach for women over 40, what I find interesting is that since the 1960’s women have been insisting that men become more sensitive. Now that men are shifting, opening up and becoming more sensitive, most women reject them. That’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation if I ever heard one!

    To the sensitive, Renaissance men out there, keep this in mind, there is someone for everyone. You may have to modify your desire for a masculine woman for one who is more feminine or middle of the road.

    For anyone single and dating, shifting your type, you will open up to much better partners. One thing you know for sure JA, is that your history with macho chicks shows you this is not the best type of woman for the long-term relationship you dream of.

    1. 45.1
      Lazlo De Almasy

      going after who we are not attracted to isn’t going to help either

    2. 45.2

      A fact that seem’s to be lost on so many women and dating coaches. Women want their cake and eat it to. You will see plenty of guys be with and stay with a cute, nurturing lower income female. You will *not* see those relationships last the other way around. Men are valued for their utility.

      Combine this with women under 40 now making more than men, and more often, not the same, but more, and with men making up the majority of suicides and the homeless, you have a recipe for disaster. The sad thing is, if the gender roles were traditional, the guy still ends up being the work mule and valued for his utility. The only difference now is that utility is done through the state. This, in a culture that says that everything I have said isn’t true despite evidence to the contrary.

      Add in the fact that despite domestic violence and cheating being 50/50, women are initiating 70-90% of divorces, men are giving up, many simply by ending their own lives, in a culture that says they are disposable, unwanted, and undesired, especially in the long term.

  15. 46

    sorry for the lack of caps…my phone is beong weird

  16. 47

    ronnie- these chicks aren’t macho or butchy or anything like that, just a little masculine in (some) aspects of their personalities. or maybe i just bring that side outta them?

  17. 48
    Christie Hartman

    JA: I think it’s great you asked for EMK’s opinion and have joined into the conversation. I’ve said many times that dating is an ongoing learning experience that will highlight any and all insecurities. Someone like you who seeks answers will succeed in the long run while people who complain probably will not.
    JB (41): I agree with you that shorter men have a tougher time online (and you probably don’t want to get me started on the absurdities of online dating behaviors!). But so do a lot of other people who have traits that don’t fit into the American Fantasy. Part of the “power” and “good attitude” I was referring to is assessing the challenges for what they are and then finding a way around them. If I were a short man, for example, I would still try online (maximizing other traits through a good profile) but put more energy into meeting people offline. I know many short men who’ve done very well with this strategy.
    Joe (43): I’ve heard that quote before. I’ve also heard Bill’s quote, which is based on the same idea. If you find yourself in one of these crappy situations, where you are the disempowered one, you still have all the power you need – to WALK AWAY and find someone who values you as much as you do them.

  18. 49


    Maybe their masculine energy is taking up so much space it’s crowding yours out? A that’s what they are perceiving as that something they can’t define.  What draws you to this type of woman?

  19. 50

    Selena- I guess I like girls like this because I appreciate ‘aggessiveness’ and am attracted to it in a girl.  I don’t care too much for girls who just want to be housewives.  (I realize those might be extreme examples)

  20. 51

    J.A., I am who used to be an aggressive woman you describe, so I think I can be able to provide a comment that that I hope might help. An immature woman is aggressive, controlling.  Rather are you saying that you want an ASSERTIVE woman?  An assertive woman is a mature woman, she knows what she wants and is not only NOT afraid to say it, but she will also go after what she wants.  A woman who is confident and has an opinion, can go toe-to-toe with you, ‘debate’ with you, tease you a little.  She does those things without hurting anyone or demasculizing the man.  In between all that, she also can remain in her feminine energy, so you are excited about sitting across from a WOMAN, not a woman who acts like a man. 

    What do you think about that?

  21. 52


    That’s the type of woman I REALLY want.

  22. 53

    Hi everyone,

    I agree with Denisse’s comment.  Maybe J.A. what you want is an assertive woman.  A book I read not too long ago (Getting to I do, by Pat Allen) explains what are the differences between a woman who wants to have feminine energy in dating and one who wants masculine energy.  I suggest you read it. 

    I’m also in my early 30’s and let me tell you, I used to do the pursuing before and it never worked (I would only get involved with lukewarm relationships).  Now I use my feminine energy in dating. 

  23. 54

    When I was in my teens I went out of my way to be ‘nice’ to girls, I thought it was what was expected. There were always some girls that were attracted to me,but generally the ‘jerks’ in my group of friends always seemed to attract way more girls than me.
    I later figured that ‘nice guys’ equated to a perception in women as weakness, timidity, and possibly low self esteem.
    Going into my twenties I finally began noticing substantial interest from the opposite sex. My nice guy image had dulled a bit, but I had actually started to take an interest in what they were talking about, I was genuinely listening!

  24. 55

    I love a guy who genuinely listens. Very cool.

  25. 56
    Karl R

    JB said: (#41)
    “‘Power‘ isn’t something a physically short average looking man can ‘create’ online unless he can create or convey income/wealth,which will give him status,and value.”
    J.A. said: (#44)
    “i have to agree with what jb has been saying. […] if you’re 5’11″” or below then you’re at a huuuuge disadvantage in the dating world, especially the online dating world.”

    I don’t see this as having anything to do with the relative power of men and women in the dating world.

    Dating difficulties (as a man) don’t occur because the woman has more power … even if it happens to be true (which I don’t believe). That would be comparable to me saying that I couldn’t win a competition because the judge/referee has more power than me. That’s not the person I’m competing against.

    I’m dating women, not competing against them for dates. My competition is the other men who also want to date those women. The amount of power the woman has (relative to me) is irrelevant to whether I have an advantage over the other men.

    You can still win when you have a disadvantage. It won’t happen as often, however.

    Online dating favors people (men and women) who look good on paper. If you’re at a disadvantage, you either need to look better on paper, or you need to find an environment where you have the advantage.

    For me, I can most easily create that advantage by going out dancing. It’s an environment where most men look awkward and feel insecure … and that’s the first impression they give. Their “on paper” qualifications don’t matter. On the other hand, I give the impression of being confident, skilled, outgoing and happy. Since the women enjoy dancing with me, they reinforce the impression that I’m desirable and trustworthy. In that environment, my main competitors are the other men who have mastered that environment. It’s a much smaller pool than the one that waits online.

    Meet women in whatever environment you find yourself in. But allocate more of your efforts to the environments where you have the advantage.

  26. 57


    Great advice!

  27. 58

    J.A. #52

    Maybe that description will help then to see the differences between aggressive and assertive when interacting with a woman.  With the experience you’ve gained, you probably can more easily see aggressiveness easier than other men.  Pay attention and make a decision at that point if you see aggressiveness vs. assertiveness.

    (From all the online profiles I’ve read, it sounds like most men want a woman like this 🙂

    When dealing with assertive women, a man doees need to be confident and willing to stand up to her, not to be a yes man,  not to have preferences, not to defer to her.   Someone we can feel comfortable with that he can take care of us, he can take care of situations if need be.  That doesn’t mean we don’t want a man to share his feelings with us or open us to us, but we don’t want him to ‘wear his heart on his sleeve either’.

    Maybe KIND is a better description of men and women than NICE?  I’m gathering that folks feel NICE sounds weak.

    #53 Jennyana

    Agreed and I had the experience.  Like it or not, we have to work within the real world of how humans work.  Nothing is going to change human instinctual behaviors anytime soon!  I would also venture to say that you’re happier by leaning back and letting things come to you.  It takes patience and attention to not being forward, but in the long run, the peace this brings and the ‘surprises’ that show are up are all worth it.

  28. 59
    Christie Hartman

    Well said, Karl (56). (Although, I believe JB was alluding to being at a disadvantage compared to other men as well feeling a relative lack of power with women). Your advice to have men find an environment where they have the advantage (for you, dancing) is a great example of what I was trying to convey in an earlier post (25), where I spoke of creating power through your attitude and behaviors.

  29. 60

    I don’t think power should be a factor when it comes to a relationship. It just causes more games and more heartbreaks when two people committed to one another and compete for who has  more.
    Both men and women should just be open, tell their partner what they want, and if their preferences don’t match then they should not stay together.
    If you’re honest and yourself, you will eventually find someone who’s looking for just that 🙂

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