Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single As Much As Women Do?

Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single As Much As Women Do?

Dear Evan,

Why don’t men hate being single as much as women do? I know you say most men are marriage-minded underneath but they seem much less interested in getting into a stable, committed relationship than women do, and seem to drag their heels.

Some of the things I hate about being single are (in no particular order): lack of love, affection and emotional support; not having someone to go on vacation with; not having someone to share domestic tasks with; being excluded from social gatherings because I don’t have a partner; not having someone to talk to at home on a day to day basis; having to cope with the financial burden of being single (apartment, bills etc.); not having a regular source of quality sex available.

Surely these things apply to men just as much as women? If this is the case, why aren’t men jumping up and down with excitement when they meet someone they connect with, like we are? Why aren’t they just as keen as we are to know “where things are going” early on in the relationship? A lot of men my age seem uninterested in a committed relationship, seeming to prefer a more casual “low investment, low return” approach to relationships. Do men actually ENJOY the endless tedium and stress of going on a string of disappointing dates? Or does it all simply come down to the capriciousness of the female orgasm – since men can have an orgasm with practically anyone, they don’t much care who they’re with, whereas if a woman finds someone who’s actually good in bed she’s desperate to hang on to him?! Your insights would be much appreciated.   -Elaine

Dear Elaine,

Love. This. Question.

I particularly love your list of what sucks about being single. As a guy who was single for 35 years, I completely agree and think that — all things remaining equal — having a good relationship is a far superior state of being than being alone.

(This does not mean that I look down on single people or think you should be in an unsatisfying relationship so, please, spare me the complaints.)

My assistant says it’s because when they’re single, they can play video games and watch porn, and if they got a girlfriend, she’d insist they give up one or both.

But what gets me the most excited, Elaine, is that you’ve forced me to consider something that I’ve never actually considered before:

Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single As Much as Women Do?

My assistant says it’s because when they’re single, they can play video games and watch porn, and if they got a girlfriend, she’d insist they give up one or both.

Funny, but probably not the entire picture.

So, together, let’s consider why men are generally cooler with being single than women:

1. Low investment, low return. As I observed in “Why He Disappeared”, this tends to be the way that men deal with most of their relationships. When a man hangs out with another man, he’ll watch sports, play poker, talk trash, grab a few drinks, and maybe talk about whether he’s hooking up. This takes care of most of a man’s basic needs — for companionship, for laughs, for fun.

Men are more likely to define themselves by their careers — What do I do? How much do I earn? What kind of car do I drive? How big is my TV?

As I look at that list, it occurs to me that most of my clients who are perfectly content being single are satisfied with their female friendships. My mom, for example: she volunteers at the hospital, she tap dances in the musical at her clubhouse, she plays canasta with the girls twice a week, she does Sudoku in her garden, she’s on the party-planning committee… and while she misses a travel companion, movie companion and regular sex, life is pretty much okay as it is.

I just think there are more men than women who are okay with low-investment, low-return, that’s all. Which brings us to…

2. Self-definition. Men are more likely to define themselves by their careers — What do I do? How much do I earn? What kind of car do I drive? How big is my TV?

This is unfortunate and short-sighted because nobody dies thinking that he wishes he had a 72” Sony instead of a 64” Vizio. But hey, that’s men.

Women, who are, in general, more emotional and intuitive, are more likely to define their lives by their relationships. So when they lack a partner, they’ll be disproportionately sadder than men, who just bury themselves in more work and (sometimes) play.

Then again, many of my smart, strong, successful clients also bury themselves in their work for a decade, and emerge from their cocoon of success and travel, only to learn that they’re really, really lonely. I can only imagine there are millions of women who haven’t contacted me who continue to immerse themselves in that worldview that success and accomplishment matters more than love. Which brings us to…

3. Communication styles. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: men need more help; women ask for more help. And nowhere is that clearer than in the realm of relationships.

A few thoughts off the top of my head:

– Over twice as many women take anti-depressants, compared to men. I remember reading somewhere that it was about 1 in 6 women vs. 1 in 48 men.

– 90% of the self-help market in bookstores is for women. Seriously, apart from “The Game” have you ever seen a relationship book for men that’s sold in airport bookstores?

– Women maintain closer friendships throughout life. My mom talks to her best friend every day. She has friends who talk to their daughters every day. I’m as sensitive as they come and I talk to my best friends in New York about once a month.

In other words, even if men feel the emotional need to connect, they rarely reach out to do so — with each other, with their families, and with you.

Women talk about their feelings with much greater frequency and intensity, further feeding the perception/reality that they care more about relationships.

4. Sex — Perhaps Charlie Sheen said it best, years ago, when talking about his predilection for prostitutes: “I don’t pay them for sex. I pay them to leave.”

There are a decent number of men out there who don’t really desire the same kind of relationship as you do. Their needs are met by their male friendships and their careers and the last thing they want to do is hold your purse when shopping at Nordstrom.

You can tell who these men are because when they’re not with you, you don’t exist. They’ll call you once a week to hook up and that’s all. These guys play on their terms, not yours and are a total waste of time to any woman trying to forge something real and lasting. It’s like trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. In my experience, there are very few women who treat men as if they’re good for nothing but sex.

So yeah, a man’s ability to separate sex and love is another valid reason he’s not terribly upset when he’s single.

The last thing men want to do is hold your purse when shopping at Nordstrom.

5. Expectations about relationships. I think this is the most important point of all. Women expect their relationships to be transcendent. They expect the man to illuminate and inspire. You remember “Eat, Pray, Love,” right? “You don’t need a man. You need a champion.”

Guys don’t work that way. We want someone who is attractive, who doesn’t criticize us or tell us how much we need to change, who we can spend lots of time with without getting bored, who we can bring around our friends and families with minimal incident.

You don’t have to play fantasy football.
You don’t have to make six figures.
You don’t have to have washboard abs.
You don’t have to have an M.B.A.
You don’t have to be spiritual.

As a result, most men can date lots of women.

Women — at least my clients – can only date .0001% of men.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her follow-up to “Eat, Pray, Love,” called “Committed”, explores these outlandish expectations that Western women have for love — which are nothing like what women in other cultures experience. As a result, Western women are very disappointed in their men, whereas men aren’t nearly as disappointed in women.

In other words, we think you’re fine as you are.

We just hate the fact that you need us to change so much.

As a result of all of these biological and societal observations about men, it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are no Time Magazine cover stories or best-selling books about desperate men.

We can separate sex and love, we define ourselves by our work, we don’t lack dating options, we get 95% of our needs met without female companionship, and we don’t talk about relationships nearly as much.

If there’s anything I missed, please let me know. Guys, please chime in here. Why are you okay not being in a relationship — and how is this different than the women you know?

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  1. 41

    Ruby #11, I totally agree.  The double standards are quite tiresome.   One of my pet peeves is how men are rarely told that standards and expectations for women and relationships are unrealistic, while women are constantly browbeaten about being unrealistic in our expectations.
    I totally agree. While I adore Evan Mark Katz, I notice all his advice is mostly about how the woman must endlessly compromise to attract a man, and not vice versa. There seems to be NO middle ground where we can meet in the middle. So it just continues to be a man’s world.

    That said, I agree with what Evan says, but think it describes mostly the young male, not the older one. Older men are more ready to jump into both relationships and marriage than woman in my experience. Older men NEED woman more, esp. after the age of 50 as they start sensing their mortality.

    My problem is I am more attracted to younger men now for a whole host of reasons including they just seem less neurotic and more open emotionally. As they are still young or youngish (40s) they are still into their careers a lot and are not dying to date/couple up  quite as much. So I find myself reading Evan’s emails now keenly.

    I also agree with the poster above who says women dominate during the dating process, but are at a distinct disadvantage once it takes a more serious turn. Then how you react, what you say takes on this momental importance so you don’t “scare them away”. It’s exhausting. Being very attractive, great bod and all that I get plenty of dates, but struggle during the second stage as I’m about as open as you get, as emotionally balanced and unafraid as you get. Problem is I just can’t find that man who is also fearless and just see where fate takes you. It’s just endless games on their part I’m finding.

    I’m exhausted. I feel hopeless. I don’t date stop as I live in a small town and the pickings here are small so I soldier on. But BOY I stopped enjoying it a long, long time ago.

    1. 41.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Ellen “I notice all his advice is mostly about how the woman must endlessly compromise to attract a man, and not vice versa. There seems to be NO middle ground where we can meet in the middle. So it just continues to be a man’s world.”

      I let this comment through, even though it’s patently false and completely misrepresents my philosophy.

      A) There is a middle ground that you’ve assiduously ignored: the scores of posts where I tell women to LEAVE men who don’t give them what they need. Because those are really your only choices, right? Compromising/accepting him as he is…or leaving? Oh, wait, you could try for the third option – bugging the shit out of him about how much he needs to change. Let me know how effective that strategy works for you.

      B) The reason you hear me telling women to change and compromise is because women are the ones asking me questions. If men asked me the same questions, they’d get the same frustrating reality-based answers about how you can’t change women.

      1. 41.1.1

        Evan if you’re getting flack from the more feminist leaning opinions and the more masculininst (is there a better word for that) you are probably right on target down the middle.   I know that both sides have taken umbrage with my opinion here on occasion so that generally tells me I’m not favoring one over the other 😜

        1. SparklingEmerald

          S.T.68 @ 41.1.1
                 I don’t “take umbrage” with your posts.   I enjoy reading what you write.   You may be more conservative than I am about intimacy, but I don’t ever feel insulted by what you write, and when I see your name, I look forward to reading what your write.

      2. 41.1.2

        I think there is a C) which is subtle art of persuasion. While I’m utterly hopeless at this subject matter, I know examples from either gender who can gently persuade someone to change their point of view over time and do something that they did not initially want to do. It is a skill that is most useful  to have both in relationships and the workplace  but one that I  can only observe with some degree of envy.     

  2. 42

    I think there are men who want a relationship, but they can be particular about who they want to date.

    1. 42.1

      Yes men can be particular about who they like to date only after he does all the effort, take the risk of rejection while she pick and choose,
      women can also be particular about who she want to date she can just accept or decline with no risk of rejection or paying for dates.
      But if you really want to take the same risks men take, put the same effort to pay for dates, taking guys out doing things they enjoy without the guarantee of any payback for you, then you can be as particular as you want. The sky is the limit.

      1. 42.1.1

        Marius said “women can also be particular about who she want to date she can just accept or decline with no risk of rejection or paying for dates.”
        Men & women both run the risk of rejection.   If a man doesn’t like a woman after 1, 2 or however many dates, and he doesn’t ask her out again, THAT’s REJECTION.   He cans simply stop calling, and ignore her calls & texts.
        OR, if a man sleeps with a girl and then disappears, THAT’s rejection, and if you have been on this blog long enough, you will know that is not an uncommon occurence.
        In what Universe do you live where women are NEVER rejected ?
        And I have run out of sympathy for men who shell out $100 on a first dinner date for a stranger from match.com and don’t get a second date, sex, or whatever they desired.   It’s like the women who have sex on a first date, and then feel sad when he disappears.   EVERYONE, don’t open your wallets or your legs on a first date.   There are plenty of no cost or extremely low cost things to do when meeting a stranger off the internet for the first time.   And plenty of ways to have fun without having sex.

        1. Marius

          you are correct, men can also decline, what i aimed at is rather that women are not in a position where they cannot choose who they want to risk to have a chance with any less than men, they are only less likely to take the risk. But sure men can also reject women.
          Secondly you are also right, people should not just go and open themselves up for exploitation on a first date, and if someone demands it, it a clue that it is not a good option. unless you have the same thing in common of-cause, but its best to be clear about it.

  3. 43

    P.S. the other thing that exhausts me is nearly every guy I’ve dated in the past two years has had to control the relationship, almost from the git go. My schedule, what I want, even what I want to do (I want to go to a fu*king batting cage so I can hit the sh&t out of a ball for about an hr.- is that too much to ask?! 🙂   ) means nothing to them unless they are hopelessly smitten with me. Then they are attentive- til the one month mark which Evan writes about. Men come down to earth after about a month and you stop being the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    Then in my experience men become emotional hypocrites*: They can woo you endlessly, tell you they are falling for you, make overtures towards commitment even maybe, but GOD HELP YOU if you say anything similar. Then they seem to get cold feet. Lots of guys have fallen for me initially, only to back away after the one month mark or thereabouts.

    *many men are also sexual hypocrites but that’s another long post….

    I feel so sorry for myself lately. I know I am attracting the wrong sorts of guys but Jeez they write on their profile they want a relationship so as to just get sex I think so how am I to know til I’ve dated them a while what their true intent is!

    Lately I just tell them upfront- “been online dating for two years, exhausted, want a relationship*, if you don’t, nice knowing you pal” or words to that effect.

    *after two years realize that while very independent I like being in a relationship so I have a man to confide in, spend time with. It just suits me. Ellen, 58, in Dixie

  4. 44
    still looking

    To me, the equation is simple – do the pros/cons of remaining single outweigh the pros/cons of being in a relationship?

    When I meet that special woman all of the benefits of being single will be outweighed by the longing and desire to be with her, and only her.   That emotional pull will overwhelm any and all practical considerations of why being single is great.

    While I’m still looking for that someone special, almost all of my needs are being met:
    – I am emotionally intimate with several close female friends;
    – I have a seemingly endless supply of women who are willing to date me;
    – Sex, while not a prime motivator, is readily available
    – I have the opportunity to meet/date/talk with a wide variety of women with diverse backgrounds;
    – I enjoy spending time alone or with my kids and being single makes this so much easier;
    – Freedom (yelled out as though I was Mel Gibson) – I can do what I want, when I want, with who I want.

    The only downside to the “single life” is on occasion my ego/heart is bruised when the chemistry is one-sided.   Other than that, life is good!   One day Ms. Right will walk into my life and all of this will change, until then I’m completely happy with the status quo.

    1. 44.1
      John Wright

      Nicely said.

  5. 45

    Evan, thanks for reading my post. Fair enough. I was just being wistful! I do love how you get to the heart of things and quickly. How brutally honest you can be- for both men and women.

    Didn’t mean to offend. As a matter of fact I have turned on a male platonic friend (also dating up a storm) to your website recently. We talk about your philosophy also…….

    Re choices, low self esteem is NOT one of my faults though I have, here and there, stayed too long in relationships these past two years. Settled…..But I have ended 95% of my relationships. Only two guys in two years have ended the relationship- one looking for a sugar momma and one recently ’cause he’s newly divorced and respected me too much to lead me on (he wants to play for now and who can blame him after 27 years of marriage?). Maybe I will contact you about how possibly to lure him back in 6-1 yr. as we had chemistry though politically we are different (but we never talked politic- don’t think he cared).

    I have been sad about him today, though yesterday it was “Bill who?!” (names changed to protect the innocent)!

  6. 46

    still looking #45

    How old are you?  

    Interesting to read Ellen’s posts and still looking’s post side-by-side. Kind of exemplifies just what women are complaining about: that male sense of entitlement and smugness.  

  7. 47


    Lol- I had the same reaxn reading still looking’s post. ‘endless supply of women’ for an older dude with kids? Uh- maybe if you’re Springsteen, but he’s not posting on this site.

  8. 48

    I doubt that more men are okay with being single – I just think single women talk more about hating being single than single guys do.   I also think that the idea that “a relationship” provides the benefits listed by the LW might not quite be how guys think about it.   I think they tend to associate those benefits with the specific person they are in a relationship with, not the fact that  they’re in  a relationship – so they date more or less casually until they find those things in a person and then are like, WHOA.   And if things end with that person, they’re not like, “I should find another relationship so I can have x,y,z benefits,” they’re like, “I miss Sally” (or whoever).  

    That said, when I was dating most guys seemed a lot more desperate for the relationship status than I was…at least in their conversations with ME.   Who knows what they were saying to their friends/family?   I bet they played it quite a bit cooler to that crowd, for a variety of reasons.

  9. 49

    I oh so love Evans direct straight to the point replies! lol!

  10. 50
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Ruby and @Sayanta: Interesting that you think that Still Looking’s post was smug.

    Objectively, if you compare his post side-by-side with Ellen, he comes off as confident and self-aware as opposed to bitter and irrational. (Sorry, Ellen!)

    I’m gonna go out on a limb and suggest that this illustrates your deep animus and distrust of men. Still Looking comes on here for the first time, posts something positive and optimistic, and you call him “entitled”? Really?

    People with his attitude are the ones who find love. People who can find something negative in a completely benign sentence are bound to struggle with a Still Looking, Karl, myself, or any other secure (read: smug and entitled) man.

    Seriously, isn’t it tiring looking at the glass half empty all the time?

  11. 51

    @Still Looking

    I notice a complete dearth of any mention of male friendships filling your life. Coupled with your certainty that “the emotional pull will overwhelm any and all practical considerations” suggests to me that you may find yourself needing/demanding more from that relationship than it can realistically provide. I hope it works out for you, but I encourage you to learn to find emotional intimacy with some male friends (I know it sounds unusual in the west, but this is possible!)   This will make your future relationship stronger.

    @ruby 47 @sayntana 48

    Smug?   Yeah. A bit tactless about how he discusses sex? And maybe a casual attitude about it that does not work for some people (myself included) Sure.

    Entitlement?    He said he is happy with how things are for him now. I don’t see “entitlement” in that.

  12. 52

    Aside from love and companionship, a  man’s incentive to be in a relationship is to get regular condom-free sex from a woman who isn’t of ill repute. For instance, if the man isn’t committing and he’s sleeping around, the women he’s screwing are probably sleeping around too, since there is no committment. That is the reality of it.

    Men commit to get sex. For example, a man I went on  group date with recently came out and  told me he knew I liked him, told me he liked me, then proceeded to tell him he “likes living alone”. Then I questioned him with, “are you saying you don’t want a girlfriend?” His answer: “No”. Then, “are you saying you want me to back off?” (although I never have initiated anything or called) His answer “No”. His final response was he wants to be friends, take it slow and fall in love.

    Now, my point in this example is there is nothing wrong with liking to live alone, and I don’t even know why he brought that up as I never mentioned wanting to move in with him, maybe other women did, don’t know. However, if a man  likes to live alone  and his gf  wants a relationship that turns into something serious, well, he won’t have that gf for long.  

    Why do some  men think they can have it both ways? How many men does that actually work for?  You can’t have  your cake and eat it too. No gf (and that  entails being open to sharing your space with her) no reliable, worry-free sex. Period.

    1. 52.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I should probably stop reading my blog and eat dinner, but I just can’t pull myself away: “Men commit to get sex?” Really, Margo? I’m usually not one to deal in absolutes, but you are absolutely incorrect. In fact, the greatest problem that men have when they commit is that they’re stuck having sex with the same person forever!

      So instead of writing a massive dissertation on why men commit in this comments section, how about you read 133 pages of Why He Disappeared to discover what men REALLY think.

      I can assure you that we commit to women for emotional reasons – love, nurturing, patience, esteem, fun, laughter, support, friendship, companionship. But for sex? Nah. That’s why we invented booty calls and once-a-week friends with benefits. We don’t need to commit to get sex. We need to commit to get love and family.

    2. 52.2

      Actually men can have it both ways if a woman is willing to be in such an arrangement for the long haul.   If women do not stay with men who will go no farther than that level, they are essentially having they’re cake and eating it too.   It maybe this way already, but it seems that there are many women these days who choose to stay single for the same reasons men opt for it.   

  13. 53

    I don’t read anything smug or entitled in Still Looking’s post. He seems to be a realist of his own life and experience. As we all should be. It’s rather logical for him to say as a single dad, that when he meets the woman who shows him that a relationship will enhance his life, not complicate it, only then will be be ready.

    Let’s face it. Dating as a  single parent can be very complicated and  forging a relationship and attempting to blend children with the new man/woman even moreso. As a single mother myself, I’m with Still Looking….unless and until the right man comes along that fits my situation, I’m staying single. And enjoying the seemingly endless supply of men who are willing to date me 😉

  14. 54

    I do read smugness in Still looking’s post, not so much entitlement though. He is just doing what is human nature: He’s taking the sex that these women are so readily offering him.  Having said that,  what do you call these type of women who are allowing him to use them as a sperm receptacle while he gets his rocks off, and not receiving a committment from him in return?

    They are idiots.

  15. 55

    Um, Evan, don’t you have a post on this website titled, “Men look for sex and find love, Women look for love and find sex.”??

    1. 55.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “Men look for sex and find love…” means just that.

      First, we’re seeking attraction. In the process of pursuing attraction, we decide if we enjoy spending time with you. The enjoyment in spending time with you is what gets men to commit, not the sex. Sex is cheap, short-lived and fleeting. Love and commitment based on sex alone will be the same. I can’t think of a single man I know who committed to someone for sex. The only person who’d do so is someone who couldn’t get laid to save his life and just wants to lock it in. Not anyone you’d ever be interested in.

  16. 56

    @Evan 51

    Hmmm…. I don’t know Evan. Still Looking sounds like the kind of guy we see online that you warn us not to write to. Endless supply of women willing to date him, ready availability of sex, loves his freedom. Sounds like a heart break waiting to happen for any woman who becomes attached. I hope he is as candid about enjoying his single life with the women he chose to allow into his life.

  17. 57

    Venus #58

    Yes, that’s exactly what I meant.

    Isn’t it interesting that men so often see being single as having freedom and unlimited options, and a veritable sexual smorgasbord, whereas women feel unloved and unwanted when they are unattached? This is what I was referring to in an earlier post when I commented on the “old maid spinster” labeling. A single man, on the other hand, is seen as a “swinging bachelor” with a “seemingly endless supply of women” just chomping at the bit to be with him.

  18. 58

    “Aside from love and companionship, a  man’s incentive to be in a relationship is to get regular condom-free sex from a woman who isn’t of ill repute”… I think that can be applied to a lot of women as well, anyone who isn’t actively ready or willing to get married.
    “While women look for love and find sex / Men look for sex and find love”… I think in many cases “Women often just want companionship for the present and don’t want to think about anything other than this guy is only sleeping with me” and men get huge puppy dog crushes and infatuations ALL the time, fall in love after they’ve told you not to fall in love with them, etc.
    I don’t really think men and women are all that different.   I just think (a) men are used to being the pursuers.   They’ve been pursuing since they were 12 and if they don’t like being single, they’ll just ask people out until something clicks instead of sitting there being upset and (b) women are more vocal about relationship (or lack thereof) complaints.

  19. 59

    “Having said that,  what do you call these type of women who are allowing him to use them as a sperm receptacle while he gets his rocks off, and not receiving a committment from him in return?”
    Women who just want sex? Women who are coming off of a divorce or long relationship, have young children that they’re protective of and primarily dedicated to, or children who have recently left the house giving them time to enjoy having no one to answer to, take care of or share a residence with for a while, women who are in town or even the country temporarily… some girls just want to have fun. Every woman isn’t 100% commitment-minded from the time they turn 18 or even 30 until the time that they either get that ring or die. Even the ones who are have times when they get restless during self-imposed periods of celibacy between relationships.
    “The only person who’d do so is someone who couldn’t get laid to save his life and just wants to lock it in. Not anyone you’d ever be interested in.”
    Different strokes for different folks.
    “However, if a man  likes to live alone  and his gf  wants a relationship that turns into something serious, well, he won’t have that gf for long.”
    Really? People *have* to live together to prove they’re serious now? Isn’t that also a form of having your cake and eating it too, as well?

  20. 60

    @Judafisk #62, I was referring to living together as in after the wedding.

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