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?

Join our conversation (1,928 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 141

    I long to touch her skin
    I ache to see her face
    I want to smell her scent anew
    I miss her warm embrace

    Hold her hand on the shore of a ripple lake
    As sunset pastels tinge the sky
    Seeing God’s colorful display
    Caught in her wondering awestruck eye

    Tasting her sweet and gentle kiss
    Under heaven’s velvet and gems
    Living wholly in that moment
    Knowing together once again

    Laughing at secret under-blanket tickles, playing, joking, caught in the amazing miracles that are she, and me, and us.

    We all have poetry inside of us when we have permission from ourselves to feel it and others can know it when we have their permission to share it.

    I hear you, Rob. Best of luck.

  2. 142

    @ Starthrower #148
    I’ve read that by date #3-4 a woman should (a) nab the check as soon as it hits the table as described by SS in post #143 or (b) prepare a home-cooked meal (doesn’t have to be fancy, my friend is a terrible cook & just did brie&grape sandwiches she got with great bread and cheese from an italian deli nearby) or (c) pick up or pre-book tickets to something like a movie or baseball game so you already have the item.
    Also, I don’t think you meant it this way, but I hope in your head you don’t see sex as some kind of collateral that you use in exchange for commitment OR dinner??
    I don’t like guys paying for things all the time after a commitment.   I’ve seen really negative qualities out of men come from a sense of entitlement with money.   I even had a gay male friend who was taking his boyfriend on vacation remark “It’s mostly my money, so I’m deciding what we are doing most of the time.”   I think the whole point of Evan’s blog catering towards successful women is… well, I don’t want men to think any part of me can be bought.   Not my company, not sex, not commitment, not my participation in something I don’t want to do.

  3. 143

    @JB 147,
    I know it’s tough for a lot of good men out there who are trying to date and show a woman a nice time. It is indeed a gamble, but it can feel like a losing proposition when one seems to always be losing money in such gambles, I’m sure! Especially the Bon Jovi concert.
    I can only speak for myself and say that I tried not to make my early dates too expensive. If the guy asked for suggestions, I usually tried to pick ethnic food places where the food was usually cheaper, but still in large portions. I never on my own ordered dessert, but the guy often suggested it and I would agree to share. I rarely got alcoholic drinks either — for safety reasons, but also because I knew they could add an extra $7-$10 to the bill.
    One guy who worked late many evenings often suggested breakfast dates, which I found quite refreshing. Cracker Barrel was our spot, and since the only drink there was orange juice (LOL), the bill for those “dates” were about $14-$16.
    The only time I had a very expensive first date was when a rich older guy asked me out. I know, I know… I was young and just wanted to see what it was like. He suggested the fancy restaurant and he spent tons of money. None of it was at my suggestion though — I really see the fancy restaurant thing as being in the realm of relationships, not dates.
    I guess if I was a guy and trying to date, I would attempt to keep costs down by doing coffee shop meet-ups and actual dates and cheaper (but imaginative) spots. Women who object to these things probably aren’t worth your time, but I would think that a woman with a reasonable mindset about dating would be happy with the effort and the general thought that went into the date moreso than be upset because she couldn’t bleed you dry at some expensive spot.

  4. 144

    @JB 147
    Your Bon Jovi story makes me cringe a bit.   While you obviously have spent a huge variety of money, I can say if someone I didn’t know handed me a $200 concert ticket, that would make me feel massively suspicious and thinking that the man felt the need to impress me by being flashy instead of himself.   (Also, I don’t like first dates that are in any environment where you can’t talk, unless it is “Dinner AND… a movie” etc).
    I wouldn’t spend that much if I was YOU b/c I would want to know a woman enjoyed my company, and wasn’t just using me for a ticket.   A $200 concert ticket is a nicer thing to give someone than a lot of boyfriends will give as a birthday gift and you gave it to a stranger!   Blowing a lot of money too early screams either “wants to be a sugar daddy” or “lacks confidence”.   That’s me though.
    Honestly, I think your strategy is a bit off on a couple things.   I don’t think there is anything wrong with the Cheesecake Factory, but I think it’s the man’s responsibility that if he is asking you on a date, he can pick the location.   THIS way, you can also control the cost, but you let someone you are meeting for the first time pick for you.   Or grab JUST brunch/lunch or JUST drinks or JUST coffee.
    At least you are good humored about it!

  5. 145

    @Angie…the concert was spur of the moment.I got the 15th row tix on Craigslist that morning,I wasn’t really caring about the cost because I wanted to go for me  and it was a weekday,I knew she worked from home and could leave at the drop of hat etc….where as anyone else(friends etc..)wouldn’t have been able to get off work in time.  It was also a day long type festival(Milwaukee’s Summerfest)  so we had plenty of time to walk around and talk,eat etc….before the actual show which was later.Not to mention we talked for 2 hours the night I met her 2 days earlier.Anyway, maybe I was trying to impress a little but the bottom line was I wanted to go to the show either way and I gambled that we would hit it off like men do all the time when we date.Oh and I left out the “kicker” ……she slept the entire ride home over an hour from Milwaukee to Chicago late at night….how classy.Yes, you live and never stop learning…lol

    The other time the woman picked the Cheesecake Factory because she knew where it was.It was easier for her to find.It wasn’t a “date”,it was an initial online “meet & greet”.Sometimes(as we men know)there’s no real way to “control” costs once you sit and start chatting and ordering.What am I supposed to say “you can have one “foo foo” drink and an entree or appetizer not exceeding $14.95 ?? …..LOL It’s the fricken Cheescake Factory !! Not exactly “fine dining”…..Puhhhleeezzzzz

    @SS…..I don’t always “lose money” in these dating gambles…..lol I’ve “won” many many times. 😉 over a long illustrious career….lol But hey,no one bats 1000 even the best hitters only get a hit 3 out of 10 times they come up to bat.

  6. 146

    @ Still Looking,

    No, I am not suggesting that a first date must be an expensive affair.      I am just saying if you can’t afford to pay for the restaurant, then don’t suggest it.     If she suggests something really expensive then counter with an acceptable alternative, diplomatically.   Sometimes the simplest outings can be the most fun and revealing.      Be creative.

    I really don’t think there is anything wrong with dating multiple people if this is a means for finding that long term relationship.   It just seems remarkably selfish when these not-good-enough women that you meet  on the dating scene are just used to meet your short term needs with   unconscionable  ease and regularity.   This is the picture you painted with the -endless  supply of women to date, ready availability of sex, and loving my freedom- comments.   But its your life and if there are women who are willing to be party to your game then so be it.  

  7. 147

    @ Nathan 139

    No its not the 1950’s.   But  a man is still a man, isn’t he?    

    I am sure you do not want to date a woman who shows up dressed in an orange jumpsuit, work boots and hard hat.   You want her to be feminine.   By the same token we want our men to be masculine.   We want to think that they are leaders and capable of taking care of us (even if we make three times  their salary, chair a corporate board, and spends our day making decisions and issuing orders).    

    Paying for the first date is a small token that allows you score some points (no I don’t mean sex) and places you ahead.     Where is the harm in that!?     It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to be fun.  

  8. 148

    @ Evan,

    Yes,  my brother did  beat the crap out of a guy in school who messed with me.    And my ex (a litigation attorney) did go down stairs in the middle of the night with a baseball bat when he thought someone might be in the house.   Low level behaviour, maybe but when our primal senses kick in we act accordingly.

    Paying for the first date is a small investment in what could become an amazing future.   It creates a positive first impression and paints the guy as someone with class and upbringing.   Quibbiling over who takes the check, leaves a bad taste for both parties.     If a woman  INSISTS  on paying  her half, I think that says something about her as well.  

  9. 149

    @ Jadafisk 142

    That wasn’t intended to be taken seriously.      I was just messing with SL.

    1. 149.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Venus, please don’t post 4 consecutive times. It’s in bad blog form. And please, for the last time, don’t misinterpret what I’ve said. You will not find one single post where I’ve ever said that a man shouldn’t pay for a first date. You will find plenty of evidence for me advocating that men should pay. However let’s not pretend that it’s something that she should want to do for every strange woman, in perpetuity, with no set of expectations. That’s fantasyland. I’ve provided a valid rationale for why it’s unfair for men to always pay for everything. And I predict that your refusal to listen to logic and acknowledge the male point of view will cause you considerable trouble in dating and relationships.

  10. 150

    Apologies with the multiple posts (if possible, the administrator can combine them into one or the last three can be deleted)  

    I have not misrepresented what you said.   I simply answered your question.  

    As for your prediction, I don’t have problems maintaining a relationship, I was married for 17 years and  that lasted primarily because of my input.   After my marriage I was in  one long term relationship that lasted two years.   My problem is meeting someone who is worth the time and effort.      

    I actually listen very well, but that does not mean that I will agree with everything that is  being said.   Where my discussion with SL is concerned I think its best that he and I simply agree to disagree.  

  11. 151

    @JB 153
    I hear what you are saying, although I have experienced the opposite!   I had a on online “meet and greet” once, where a guy asked me to meet him around 6pm (I forget the exact time, but it was in the dinner hour) at a restaurant (not a coffee shop, not a bar, a restaurant).
    As we were looking at the menu, he asked if I wanted to split an appetizer.   I agreed, and when the waiter came we ordered a drink apiece and the appetizer.   The waiter asked if we needed any dinner recommendations, and the guy said “Nah, this is all we’re going to do” and handed over his menu.
    The waiter actually rolled his eyes at me!   This guy actually called to ask me out again, and I said no.   I think you can definitely “control costs” to some extent.   Coffee shop / Ice Cream Parlour / Bowling or Mini Golf… SO many cheap ways to spend an hour or two!

  12. 152

    I’m not sure how this discussion morphed from singletondom to who should pay on a first date, 🙂 but here is my thought on that topic:   The person who did the inviting should pay, whether male or female. It’s common good manners. You (the asker) asked for this person’s company; you asked for him or her to take time out of his/her busy schedule to have a meal with you. Regardless of whether it leads to anything more, you should offer to foot the entire bill.
    As a married professional lass, I regularly invite coworkers to business meals and offer to pay the entire bill. Sometimes the other party lets me do this; other times s/he offers to pay half or even the entire bill.
    I recognize that it becomes more complicated when both parties mutually agree to meet. In those cases, perhaps the check should be split or each person should pay the corresponding individual portion. But here I’ll agree with Evan’s advice to men: men do make a better impression on women if they offer to pay the whole bill even in these more mutual arrangements.   I’ll go even further – this holds true regardless of whether it’s a date or a professional meal.   If a male colleague invites others out to a business meal and doesn’t offer to pay, he is regarded as not being very high on the totem pole.   Paying for others in business meals is in some ways a power play.   Make of that what you will…

  13. 153

    if basically you are fucking a guy in exchange for an expensive meal at a restaurant, front row seats at a basketball game, or a private tour of his yacht with champagne and brie, then you are a high-class hooker who should work for an escort service agency.   Congratulations on your new career choice.   By the way, expecting a man to pay for a couple glasses of red wine or a Subway sandwich hardly qualifies as greedy.

  14. 154

    “I am sure you do not want to date a woman who shows up dressed in an orange jumpsuit, work boots and hard hat.   You want her to be feminine.   By the same token we want our men to be masculine.   We want to think that they are leaders and capable of taking care of us (even if we make three times  their salary, chair a corporate board, and spends our day making decisions and issuing orders). ” Actually, I’m not terribly worried about such a masculine and feminine breakdown. I don’t believe in such fixed dichotomies, nor does my behavior reflect that. This morning, I lead a meeting as the president of a non-profit board. This afternoon, I listened and gently supported a friend. You could split those two activities into masculine and feminism spheres, or you could recognize that in we have the opportunity – in a more liberated world- to let people be whole, instead of trying to act from a gendered role all the time.
    Some women might dismiss me. That’s fine. I’m not interested in catering to the traditional roles – even though I can certainly act like a “traditional man” when it’s called for. But I still sit around and wonder about all these expectations many seem to have about both men and women acting in certain ways. Women (and some men) have been right pushing to break down patriarchy for decades. And yet, when it comes to intimate relationships, most of us seem to struggle to let go of the old ways of being, which were primarily determined by a system of male domination. Instead of working towards more equal and fluid relationships, so many want men and women to mostly act out the old patterns.
    So, when a woman chooses to pursue more often, she’s looked upon unfavorably. Or when a man demonstrates more traditionally feminine traits, he’s looked upon unfavorably. It’s interesting to me. Interesting to see how calls for social change are blended with desires to keep things the same.
    Honestly, if a woman is attractive to me as a person, her showing up in boots and a hard hat isn’t going impact that.
    And who pays? I think in the beginning it really should be about who comes up with the activity idea. Again, I’m all about sharing the ownership of a relationship right from the beginning – as that’s what I want the relationship to be all along.
    Part of the problem with expecting one side or the other to do most of the pursing, put forth most of the effort, and take on most of the expense is that it easily can lead to wanting something in return. Be it sex, or control, or just some kind of steady companionship, I think it’s hard to let go of wanting something to come back your way if your putting in so much from your end. And I say that while also believing that it’s not healthy to frame relationships like this. Men, for example, shouldn’t expect sex, regardless of how much they spend on dinners and whatnot.
    So, the way I see it, the less imbalances developed in the beginning, the more likely you will have a more balanced, shared relationship going forward. But I’m also aware that plenty of folks aren’t interested in this kind of shared relationship when it gets down to it. They might say they are, but actually they hope for something else.

  15. 155

    @ Angie #150,

    I probably should have worded that better.   No, I don’t think sex is collateral.   Where I was coming from is that you don’t know if a man will appreciate your gesture to help with a bill or if he will feel emasculated.   I understand most of the guys who post on here are ok with it, but I’m not dating the guys on here.   I like your suggestion about a home-cooked meal, but that idea has also been shot down on this blog as it makes a woman come off as if she’s trying to show him what a domestic goddess she is in hopes he’ll want to seal the deal.

  16. 156

    @Evan, my post about paying for dates was directed at Still Looking’s (too tired to reference it) post where he talks about how he feels a woman should offer to split the check on a $75 dinner date (first date)  when she knows in her heart that she isn’t interested in seeing the man again. No, I don’t think in that scenario a woman should be obligated to split the check. Assuming that the man asked her out, he should pay for the meal and both of them should enjoy themselves.

    My philosophy on who pays for dates is actually the same as yours. I expect the man to pay for the first 3 dates at least. Although I do offer to split the check on the 3rd date. That sounds fair, doesn’t it? If he can’t afford the first 2 dates, then he can’t afford to date.

  17. 157

    @Nathan 139. Yes, Nathan. I expect a man to be both. Men can actually be chivalrous and not be male-chauvinist pigs at the same time. I will accept no less.
    @Evan #141, I’ll remind you. You said so yourself that men should pay for the 1st  few dates.

    If I were a man, I would be ashamed of myself if I couldn’t do that.  And wny  should he expect nothing in return? What is there for him to expect?? A woman can experience something with or about him on the second date that changes her mind about seeing him again. That is her right. She owes him nothing because he paid for  a couple of dates. If he conducted himself decently on those dates than a “thank you” is in order. If she doesn’t want to see him again, the decent thing to do is to tell him and not just disappear.

    Stephanie #162, agreed.

  18. 158

    @Starthrower #164
    If you actually ARE a domestic goddess or just make a really mean (insert your specialty here), I say go for it.   Someone on this blog will shoot down every idea someone else suggests.   I think it’s too much to do lobster or anything fancy, but a really nice pasta/garlic bread/salad dinner or some nice sandwiches and chips out out on a picnic are nice.
    My favorite dates are always the ones where I think the other person is revealing a positive aspect of themselves… cooking, hiking prowess, their favorite bar, etc.

  19. 159

    At Nathan #163, I agree with what you are saying concerning the concept of equal participation in dating/relationships, but only to a certain degree.  I think you have taken the  concept too far.

    Men and women behave differently  in  many ways due to innate characteristics that are reinforced by societal influences.  This isn’t going to change. Like I said in an earlier post, men are born with the urge to protect,  provide and take the lead in a love relationships. If  a  man  doesn’t do these things,  he’s not really a man.

    If  he  fails to do any of these things,  it’s akin to the woman  dating a gay man that has chosen to play the female role. So then, everything can’t be equal  or there is something wrong. One of the things that will happen is that the woman, assuming she’s mentally healthy,  will quickly lose respect for the man.

    Therefore, if a  woman and a man earn the same income and have the same amount of expenses, and have been dating for a while, yeah, they could share in meals. If the woman makes significantly more money than the man, yeah, they can share in the meals. However, if the man earns a high income. like yourself who is the president of a company, and the woman works as a waitress, he ought to be footing the bill most of the time. First, it’s in his nature to do so. Second, he can afford it.

    So that no one gets the wrong idea about moi, I will say that I don’t care how much a man makes. If all he can afford to take me to is Kentucky Fried Chicken, I’m going to enjoy that and be thankful.  Men should actually do that instead of taking a woman to a restaurant where he can’t afford what’s on the menu, then asking her to split the check.

  20. 160

    It will be a sad day for me if I ever wake up and realize that either of my sons have turned into lazy, selfish, non-chivalrous men who expect the woman to pursue them, split every check down the middle, and open her own car door.

    1. 160.1

      The problem with that kind of chivalry is that it casts men as beneath women. She’s seen as the prize, and he’s expected to compete for the honor of sacrificing himself for her. Men increasingly see that as a ridiculous narrative that needs to go. These days, women have as many options as men do. When she opens her own car door, it demonstrates that she’ll lift alongside him – rather than sitting on her pedestal while he lifts for her.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *