Why Do Women Have to Change? Why Do Men Get a Free Pass?

a happy young woman using her laptop

I’ve been running a Relationship Survey, filled out by 720 women (and a coupla guys) so far, and the results have been astounding. So many interesting, heartfelt, vulnerable questions, which, if I didn’t have a day job as a dating coach, I would love to answer, one by one.

Many of the questions come from a genuinely curious place and there are simple, straightforward answers:

“Where do I meet quality men?” (everywhere, including online)

“What qualities are men really looking for?” (fun, attractive, easygoing, nurturing)

Why do they profess to like independent women but chose women who rely on them for financial and emotional support? Why do they want a woman who is needy? (men want to feel important and needed; independent women don’t provide that feeling)

But, to me, the juiciest question I received out of all of them – and I got it two or three times – is one that has been asked periodically on this blog:

Why are women expected to change the way they operate in order to be “successful” in relationships, but men get a pass?

Sigh. If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know how strongly I feel about this subject, how I’ve taken to the comment boards to defend myself, how it genuinely pains me when readers misunderstand the role of dating advice.

Dating advice is for the person who asks the question. It is not for the man who is the cause of the “problem”.

So let’s all get on the same page with this:

Dating advice is for the person who asks the question. It is not for the man who is the cause of the “problem”.

Therefore any woman who asks me whether her boyfriend should change will be met with one of two responses: given that you can’t change men (and yes, this is a given), you should either a) accept him, or b) leave him. Sometimes, there’s a c) discuss your feelings with him, but mostly my advice is of the “stay or go” variety.

If you think I’m giving men a free pass, you’re clearly forgetting about choice B – DUMP HIM. if I’m encouraging half the women to dump their boyfriends, how am I giving men a free pass? Oh, I got it – I’m not encouraging enough women to dump their boyfriends – many times I preach tolerance and acceptance. And in your experience, you’ve already tolerated enough.

Fair enough. Then dump him. Dump every single man who trips off your radar in some way.

What you’ll probably notice is that you will be single for a long time. Because every single man will trip off your radar in some way. (If he doesn’t trip off your radar, you’re probably not seeing him very clearly, and you’re forgiving fatal flaws like workaholism, selfishness, narcissism and commitment phobia.)

The fact is: if you’re going to be a girlfriend, you need to accept ALL of your boyfriend, warts and all, just as you’d like him to accept you. If you simply CAN’T accept him because his behavior is egregious (writing to women on Adult Friendfinder, verbally abusing you, addictions to drugs or alcohol), then leave.

I think we can agree on that, can’t we?

Good. I’m working for YOU here and it kills me when you think I’m a double agent for men. 🙂

Still, your perception persists: why does it seem that dating advice is always telling women to change and letting men off the hook?

Men may NEED help in this arena, but they don’t ASK for help.

Three reasons you might think that:

1) Women ask for dating advice, men generally don’t.

The dating advice you read is, by its very nature, “dating advice for women”. I am a dating coach who works primarily with women. The self-help section of any bookstore is 90% geared towards women. This isn’t a media conspiracy, telling women that they’re flawed and men are perfect. This is a market reaction to the demand for this kind of advice.

2) When men do ask for help, it doesn’t involve understanding women.

Want to know what men are looking for online? “Pick up girls” had 110,000 searches last month. Compare that with “understanding women”, which had 22,000 Google searches, and you can see the problem. Men may NEED help in this arena, but they don’t ASK for help. So could I write a manifesto about how men need to be better listeners, more consistent, less interested in sex, more long-term thinkers, more sensitive, more strong, more fit, more flexible, etc. Sure. But who would I be writing it for? YOU’d love it because it would validate your beliefs about men, but men wouldn’t be interested in reading it. That’s why my second book, “Why You’re Still Single: Things Your Friends Would Tell You If You Promised Not to Get Mad” was written for women.

3) People who give advice want to actually GIVE ADVICE.

So, if 200 women write to me and say, “My boyfriend’s a lying, cheating, scumbag who impregnated me, gave me AIDS and emptied my bank account. But I really love him, what should I do?” I’m not going to answer the question on my blog. The answer is obvious. Dump him. The questions that dating coaches and dating experts DO want to answer are the ones where the original questioner is going to have her beliefs challenged, not validated. That’s what makes for interesting reading. Believe me, if I answered a new letter every Thursday, and the answer, week after week, was “dump the toxic guy”, you’d get really, really bored. As would I.

You’ll see me playing devil’s advocate in almost everything I write, because there’s no point in giving advice that validates the original questioner.

So, to sum up:

Who asks for dating help? Women.
What do they want help on? Understanding men.
What’s the first thing to understand about men? You can’t change them, you can only change how you react to them.
Does that mean that men get a free pass because women have to change? No, it means you have to define what behavior you should and should not accept from men. That’s what I try to write about.
So is my perception that you’re biased in favor of men true? No. Not at all. 90% of my questions are from women, so 90% of my answers will be about how women can better adjust to a situation. If 90% of my questions were from men, they’d get the same exact treatment.

In fact, you’ll see me playing devil’s advocate in almost everything I write, because there’s no point in giving advice that validates the original questioner. There’s nothing to learn if your original belief system is never being challenged.

I hope this is a reasonable explanation as to why I write what I write. I spend 4 hours a day, every day, on the phone with women. I wouldn’t be able to do so if I didn’t love them, care about them, and genuinely want to help them find happy, healthy relationships.

Thank you for frequenting my blog and participating in this dialogue.

Your friend,


Join our conversation (81 Comments).
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  1. 61

    It seems your singling only “certain” types of women that need to change.
    – white/ 40 / single   – if we “change” then what’s in it for me is then formulated right?  
    i call b.u.l.l.s.h.i.t!!!!

  2. 62

    I’m one of those independent women. I’ve had to be because I’m really smart (i.e. this alone puts off a lot of men), and my mother and father raised me to be self-reliant – they gave me skills to make it as an adult, and I’ve had a really hard time finding someone.   So I’ve been forced to do it all myself.   I’m a very competent person, but just because I CAN do it all doesn’t mean I want to, or that I have the time.   Why can’t men see this? I’ve been told by men that I’m attractive, nurturing and fun (not so much easygoing but I try), yet I was recently told by a male friend that I am basically undateable because I’m too smart, independent and competent.

    1. 62.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Your male friend is either being polite or inarticulate. You’re not “too smart, independent, and competent.” Men LIKE such women. The problem – most likely – is that these qualities are associated with other qualities that men don’t like as much: busy, bossy, invulnerable. In other words, if you’re so independent, what do you need HIM for? What does HE get out of dating you if he can’t even feel necessary. Thus, you have a disconnect: between what MEN find attractive – your availability, your flexibility, your vulnerability, how he FEELS around you, and what YOU find attractive in men: brilliant, funny, rich, independent. Alas, it’s a BONUS to men if you are those things. The main course is something you’re probably not serving. For further reading: https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/dating-tips-advice/why-dont-men-like-smart-strong-successful-women/

      1. 62.1.1

        Evan, I agree with your comment except to specify that independence is NOT an attractive trait in women from a male perspective.   I know you implied this, but some of your readers may be confused by your first line, where you included independence in the list of things men like.

        But this point is so important: each of us has qualities we find attractive in the opposite sex, other qualities in ourselves that we HOPE the opposite sex finds attractive in us, and still other qualities that make us better humans but don’t contribute to sexual attractiveness.

        Women so often conflate the list of traits that THEY find attractive in men with those that men find attractive in women.   Men don’t want women whose strengths are the same as their own.   They want complementarity. Thus, a woman who prides herself on her strength, independence, education and earning potential may be a very admirable human being, but is far too masculine (since all those traits are masculine) for most men’s tastes.

        It’s not that men are intimidated.   They are simply in-attracted. They don’t want women who are like themselves (unlike women, who so often want exactly that).

        1. SparklingEmerald

          Hi again Jeremy –   You said “It’s not that men are intimidated.   They are simply in-attracted. They don’t want women who are like themselves”
          If you are the same Jeremy who says that women should initiate the first kiss in the courtship blog, thanks for thanks for helping make the point. Women don’t want men who act like women and wait to be kissed.   We want men to initiate the kissing. We want men to INITIATE the relationship and accept our responses to the initiation process.   You and your friends in the manosphere are complaining that women don’t act like men basically, and dismiss our feminine ways of reciprocating as worthless. Basically, many “manosphereans” are demanding that women start behaving like men.  
          Pursuit of a relationship is considered by most women to be a masculine trait, receptivity and acceptance of the pursuit is generally considered to be a feminine trait.   (By most, of course there are exceptions)
          So most women want to be the receiver or the “chasee”   rather than the chaser.   So we like that trait in ourselves, but a passive man who is waiting to be kissed is generally a turn off to most women.
          You told me that women need to “WOMAN UP” and start initiating the physical part of a relationship by initiating that first kiss, because that is what men want.   Sorry dude, but guys like you are in the minority.   Your request that women start becoming the sexual initiators is telling us to MAN up, and act like men.   And in the blog post above, you admitted men don’t want women who are like men.
          Even men who supposedly say they want to reverse the roles and be sexually pursued by a woman, start to lose interest when a woman pursues them.   They may hem and haw and say they lost interest for other reasons, but when a man puts himself in the feminine role, it creates a vacuum for the masculine role, and the woman consiciously or unconsciously will “man up” and fill that vacuum.   And low and behold, the man somehow, inexpliciity becomes “simply in-attracted” (sic)
          YMMV, but even if it turns YOU on to be chased by a woman, most women feel turned OFF when they have “man up” and chase a passive male.   I met a man online who I was initially very attracted to, but he tried to get me to chase him, and that killed it (the attraction) for me.
          The article below explains it further.

  3. 63

    I don’t doubt the author’s sincerity in wanting to help women.   And the advice he provides makes sense even when it comes to interacting with people in general (friends, family, co-workers).
    However, being a woman I do feel that men get a pass on this because of a larger issue the author doesn’t touch on. The issue being that generally men are not socialized (or indoctrinated) to value relationships with women; and what is generally valued by men is whether the woman “plays her role” of nurturer, etc.  
    Men generally are encouraged to make their mark in the world through work.   Getting involved with a woman and starting a family is often a secondary pursuit, or in some cases not pursued at all.
    Because men are generally encouraged to be work oriented, a lot of times his identity is in wrapped up in what he does and how much money he makes.  
    In this passing down of gender-related mores a man is taught to believe the function of nurturing or providing emotion support is the woman’s role.
    For some men when all is said and done their concern isn’t about whether he was an emotional support to his family but if he provided for them. A man’s concern generally leans more towards providing for his family, and being a disciplinarian.    
    I also think due to how we are socialized about gender roles it is more acceptable in our culture for a woman to seek out help than it is for a man.  
    I think gender role indoctrination (and there are a lot more details I just can’t cover in a comment section) sets up a man to be given a pass on being the target for relationship advice as the general consensus is   seeking advice is “not what men do.”

    The fallout from gender role socialization creates an unfortunate reality that in the long run is not bringing men and women together in a way that is meaningful.

    1. 63.1

      I don’t mean to upset you, but your post seems full of university sociology studies indoctrination. Everyone is out there trying to make their mark on the world, and justify their paychecks, and so they come up with intelligent sounding terms like gender role socialization. What sociologists love to try to do is blame everything on environment, and culture. But more often than not, that is proven wrong. Often, the way we act is more biologically programmed.

      They try to blame out beauty standards on advertising and the media, and yet babies proved to have the same beauty standards as adults. Advertising has been pushing ultra skinny women on us for decades, and yet men don’t prefer ultra skinny women.

      Boys being naturally more violent was blamed on culture and things such as toy guns, and yet in research where they deprived boys the use of toy guns, from infancy, they proved to be no less violent. They used the traditionally girls’ toys they were given as clubs, and even used some as mock guns.

      The truth is, I want a woman that appeals to me visually, and a woman who appeals to me with her personality. In the latter, the motto for women should be that you attract more flies with honey than vinegar, and yet vinegar is abundant in so many women these days. The reason men get a pass and women don’t is because it is women who changed away from what worked, and most men aren’t having it. We aren’t going to change. Like it or not, you don’t own us. We don’t have to play by your rules. All the free sex outside of marriage that women provide makes it so much easier for us to avoid marriage. And most of us are more than happy to remain single. Far fewer headaches. I have a friend whose favorite saying is, “To err is human. To keep reminding you of it for 20 years is a wife. The simple fact is, when it comes to marriage anymore, I ask myself, “what’s in it for me?” and I come away with nothing.

      By remaining single, I don’t have to deal with the drama that ensues if I happen to vie porn one day. I don’t have to deal with the drama if I flirt with a girl. I don’t have to deal with drama if I want to waste all Saturday playing video games with the boys. I don’t have to deal with drama if I want to go do something high risk such as one of the better mountain bike courses, or wing-suit flying. I don’t have to deal with drama when I want to waste all Saturday and Sunday watching football. Etc… The simple fact is, life is immensely easier as a single man.

      Occasionally I get lonely for some female companionship, and if I do, I just call up one of the girls I know and we go on a date, or I go out with the guys and I meet somebody new.

      Bottom line, is I don’t have to change, and have zero desire to do so. I’m not going to adapt to a woman’s life. If she wants to be in mine, she will adapt to mine, especially if she wants to be in my life more than a short amount of time.

  4. 64

    Good, logical article, as usual.
    For me, the hard part of hearing this advice, particularly about men preferring needy over more independent women, stems from my viewpoint from my journey in overcoming dysfunctional family patterns involving a mother who I frequently observed being emotionally callous to my Dad and enjoying spending his money. I’ve always known my Dad to have a good heart, but I don’t know if I’d really say that about my Mom. I’m not trying to call my Mom a gold digger, but an outside observer pointed out that she loves his money more than she loves him. Therefore, it’s long been important to me not to use any human being for their money. It’s been difficult for me to see or accept the difference between using someone and just opening up to them enough to allow them to help you meet your legitimate needs. Sometimes I take things personally that aren’t. No one is blogging here saying things like “women’s place is in the kitchen,” “women are incompetent”, “women should just sit around being needy” (There are other sites for that), so if I HEAR that, I need to take a look at what my fears are that make me hear that. It is biological that men tend to want certain things, and women tend to want certain things–it is not a judgment or oppression of me. People are going to want whatever they want, can’t change them, and Evan is here insightfully helping people how to constructively get what they want within the context of reality being the way it is. Reading the comments, though, sometimes I think I’m not the only one creating problems where they don’t exist.

  5. 65

    I know your reply was directed at Nada’s post, but I just wanted to say that I agree with most of your last paragraph–I also don’t have to change. I also enjoy being single and free when I am, and enjoy a relationship when I’m in one. However, I think I can still be more honey than vinegar about it. Likewise, I’m currently with someone who likes me the way I am and neither of us feels pressured to change to more tradional gender roles (which you, a man, say worked, and I, a woman, say were oppressive).

    I am not doubting that little boys tend to like guns and be more violent, or that men like porn. Society can’t tell them not to. I’m just saying that if I enjoy building computers, for example, society shouldn’t tell me not to, either. I don’t see it in terms of “us vs. them” needing to change. But sometimes we have to choose. You’ve explained that your choice is to remain single. Me, I think that if the qualities I value in myself and make me a better human are not fully aligned with the qualities that would attract the most men, then primarily what I change is how often I expect to get dates and how many men I expect to be compatible with.

  6. 66
    margaret marquez

    maybe if enough men get dumped that will motivate them to change

  7. 67
    Samwell Tarly


  8. 68

    “Pick up girls” had 110,000 searches last month. Compare that with “understanding women”

    “The Manosphere” often gets tarred with a broad brush because some truths they echo are not pretty, but are true none the less…I have to chuckle a bit when I read stuff like this, because men are only adapting to what woman want. The majority of advice for “Picking up Girls” revolves around “Understanding women”, which boils down to the fact women on average are attracted to men who look like they are confident, successful, well respected in some manner.

    When you apply those filters and add demerit points for attractiveness, age, height, weight and sexual preferences, there are very few men that fit that bill.   It just so happens that many that do are narcassitic, confident and successful A-Holes…they are the same small pool of “Jerks” that women are dating and complaining about.

    There are a number of PUA websites that deal with exactly with this issue, the fact that what actually attracts women rather that what women say attracts them is two very different things. Guys are told that self improvement is part of the process of becoming ‘That Guy’ women are actually attracted to,   with no holds barred advice on physical fitness, grooming and improving income/career opportunities     Why? because it’s what actually attracts women.

  9. 69

    I am now thinking women and men are very incompatible. Most men just want a simple relationship where they get sex and their ego is boosted by women fawning over them. A relationship that just satisfies their needs.(This is a statistical generalization.)  They really don’t want to give too much to a relationship. Women generally want a partnership. (I am against gold diggers ). Since I don’t want the type of relationship most men want, I am going to stop caring at all and not try for a  relationship. No sex with men(boys really), not worth the drama. (I can take care of myself in that area probably better than most men) I don’t want to spend so much time looking for a needle in a haystack and Evan makes it clear that is all there is. This will be the last time I look at these so called “helpful dating sites”.

    Since I pay my own way,   I will go on vacation with women friends who are easier to deal with or by myself.

    I owe, out right, my home. I have not debt. I am pretty and in good shape even though I am 57. Why would I want a man that only wants me capriciously?

    Thanks for making it clear that women spend way too much time worrying about relationships with men and then don’t realize their own self  worth. Men don’t care and women need to stop. Evan pointed out that men’s real interest is just picking up a woman. Guess what most likely to have sex. dahhh

    A good enough man will find you. Stop wasting your time, go out have fun, no sex  that will cause you to  have regrets!!!!

    I don’t think men will ever get it unless there is less free sex out there from women but unfortunately women are their own worse enemy in that regard.

    Finally, women stop back stabbing other women and show your worth. Does being with a man really make you whole? It shouldn’t.

    1. 69.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Evan pointed out that men’s real interest is just picking up a woman.”

      I did not.

      1. 69.1.1
        Janine Platman

        Yes you did by saying what they search for on google.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Searching for stuff on Google is not the same as what people do in real life.

        2. Janine Platman

          Evan you said they aren’t interested in advice by showing what they searched for and now you are back peddle saying they might do something different in real life. We know they don’t read books about advice either and they don’t ask friends and family for advice. So on what basis are you saying that in real life it might be different?  You know by all your prior statements that men are simple (maybe simpletons I really don’t hate men but had to add that…lol) with what they want. The simpleness they want is just capriciousness  where they don’t have to put in effort. Everything you have stated from what I have read is that they don’t put in that much effort and don’t want to unless it is just for sex but not for long term. (Again, only talking about the majority statistically. I realize some men aren’t that way but again they are the needle in the haystack. ) I don’t buy  lottery tickets because the odds are overwhelmingly against me but the return is very good if I win. All your writings show me that is the same thing with a relationship with a man. The odds are very much against me finding a relationship of partners. And expecting a different outcome is somewhat delusional. Dating, the way it is now, is too much drama for low statistical chances of winning and the possibility of many problems. It is not that my heart isn’t open, it is, but I want to live life and not be belaboring the search for a partner. I might never have another partner in my life but that shouldn’t upset me.   I need very much to be happy with what I do have.

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