Why You Should Put Relationships First

Why You Should Put Relationships First

A belated public confession: I became a much better dating coach after getting married than I was when I was doing this as a single man for the first five years of my career.

It’s not that I would disavow most of what I wrote beforehand, but rather, I was only capable of a certain depth of advice based on my limited life experience.

Now, twelve years into a marriage that will last until I die, I know the major ingredient that I was missing prior to tying the knot: humility.

When you define yourself as an individual – which is common and somewhat practical as a single person – you are all about yourself. Your job. Your travel. Your social media. Your beliefs and hobbies and goals.

When you define yourself as part of something larger, those all become less important than the relationships I have to others. Before marriage, I was a Duke graduate, a strident atheist, an author focused on earning as much money/attention as possible. Now, I’m a husband, a father, and a dedicated dating coach to women around the world.

Now, I’m a husband, a father, and a dedicated dating coach to women around the world.

Nobody writes about this shift better than David Brooks of the New York Times. I’ve cited him before but keep going back to him because he speaks a simple truth about the virtues of relationships and community. He doesn’t do this from a pedestal either; his own marriage ended partially because of his ambition and dedication to his work.

Brooks sees people like me as growth-oriented people, driven by their own failures, who climb one mountain and realize that while the view is great, there is a much more gratifying mountain to climb afterward.

“If the first mountain is about building up the ego and defining the self, the second is about shedding the ego and dissolving the self. If the first mountain is about acquisition, the second mountain is about contribution.

On the first mountain, personal freedom is celebrated — keeping your options open, absence of restraint. But the perfectly free life is the unattached and unremembered life. Freedom is not an ocean you want to swim in; it is a river you want to cross so that you can plant yourself on the other side.

So the person on the second mountain is making commitments. People who have made a commitment to a town, a person, an institution or a cause have cast their lot and burned the bridges behind them. They have made a promise without expecting a return. They are all in.”

That’s marriage. You stop keeping score. You give and you give and you give and you give, because that’s the only way to have a successful relationship – with anybody.

And while many of our readers are not necessarily in happy marriages, please believe me when I tell you how revelatory it is to have a partner who is as solid as the floor underneath your feet – where you can be yourself at all times and remain loved unconditionally.

No matter what you think of my blog, this is what my work is all about.

I am determined to help women find love and acceptance in a romantic relationship, rather than doing the easy thing and giving up and continuing to view the world from the vantage point of that first ego-driven mountain. Continues Brooks:

“The second-mountain people are leading us toward a culture that puts relationships at the center. They ask us to measure our lives by the quality of our attachments, to see that life is a qualitative endeavor, not a quantitative one. They ask us to see others at their full depths, and not just as a stereotype, and to have the courage to lead with vulnerability. These second-mountain people are leading us into a new culture. Culture change happens when a small group of people find a better way to live and the rest of us copy them. These second-mountain people have found it.

Their moral revolution points us toward a different goal. On the first mountain we shoot for happiness, but on the second mountain we are rewarded with joy. What’s the difference? Happiness involves a victory for the self. It happens as we move toward our goals. You get a promotion. You have a delicious meal.

Joy involves the transcendence of self. When you’re on the second mountain, you realize we aim too low. We compete to get near a little sunlamp, but if we lived differently, we could feel the glow of real sunshine. On the second mountain you see that happiness is good, but joy is better.”

That’s a more eloquent rephrasing of something I say every day to women on the phone.

You can stay single, earn money, acquire experiences and hobbies and lead a perfectly happy life.

But is that the life you want? To die with a full passport and a big bank account?

My successful clients sure don’t think so.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (206 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    I’ve written this before, but many might have missed it. When orthodox Jews get married, the custom among grooms is to wear a white death shroud (called a kittel) under the wedding canopy. Many different opinions are given as to why this custom exists, but my favorite among them is the following: When a child is born, he sees the world entirely from his own perspective. He cries his own needs and expects others to cater to him. The various stages of maturation from that childhood involve a change in perspective. A maturation from the person crying his own needs to the person fulfilling the needs of others (and not just his own). Death is the ultimate sublimation of the self – in death, after all, our own personal aspirations become meaningless. We wear a death shroud at a wedding to signify that henceforth our personal aspirations must take a back-seat. That rather than being “about” what we’ve always been about, we must now be “about” the relationship. The other – and hence the self via the other. A shifting of priorities that signifies maturation.

    This is not for everyone. Many people lack the capacity for it. But for those with the capacity – and whose partners share the capacity – the rewards outweigh the costs. Because, counter-intuitively, the way to cultivate love is by giving, not by receiving. Ask any parent.

  2. 2
    Yet Another Guy

    Jeremy hit the nail squarely on the head, especially with respect to the parent comment. Any person who lacks the capacity to place himself/herself second will always come up short in a relationship. I spent my twenties and the first half of my thirties dating hot women who were takers. My ex was the first woman I dated who possessed anything approaching a giving mentality. However, she was still very much a taker when it came to money. The reason why my current girlfriend was able to take me off of the market is because she is an unconditional giver, a true gem. I have never taken advantage of her generosity because it makes me feel uncomfortable. However, what her generosity did was to allow me to let my guard down. I had reached a point before meeting her where it was all about me. During and before my marriage, I gave and gave and gave with little in return. If I was not going to be given anything, I was going to take it. However, life is too short to spend it with a taker or being a taker. Being taker or with a taker will suck the life out of you. There is no high like receiving love that has been given freely. However, one has to give love freely to receive it freely. Extracted love will never feel the same.

    1. 2.1

      Beautiful words, guys, thank you for sharing 🙂

      Jeremy, how’s everything? Any pit stains?

      YAG, what do you mean by extracted love?

      1. 2.1.1

        Did you mean me, or the therapist? 🙂 Happy Friday….

        Why did the half-blind man fall into the well?
        – He couldn’t see that well

        How many flies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
        – Two, but I don’t know how they got in there…

        A man on vacation with his family arrives at a hotel
        As he’s checking in, he says to the clerk, “I’m here with my family, so please check that the porn channel is disabled.”
        The clerk replies in disgust, “It’s just regular porn, you sick f**k.”

        (Sorry, but I laughed and laughed at that one)

        1. Marika

          Hehe, I actually like the well one best.
          No wonder I like Seinfeld…one of my fave jokes ever, which most people think is barely worth a grin is:

          What’s brown and sticky? : A stick!


          Why did the koala fall out of the tree?: It was dead
          Why did the other koala fall out of the tree?: It was on the first koala’s back.

        2. Marika

          Disclaimer: those koala jokes were invented before the poor things were endangered.

      2. 2.1.2
        Yet Another Guy


        Extracted love is one-sided love. One person is giving while the other person expects to be loved without giving back. Have you ever tried to love a guy where it was his way or the highway? It may not have been to that extreme, but I have experienced it in my own relationships and those of others. These relationships only exist as long as the person who is giving love continues to do so. In essence, the taker is extracting love from the giver through the giver’s fear of the relationship ending. We could refer to these relationships as he or she is just not that into his or her partner, but that does not explain the longevity of many of these relationships. I have never seen a taker-taker relationship that lasted beyond the initial limerence period, but the happiest couples I know are in giver-giver relationships. While no relationship is perfect, giver-giver couples do not bicker anywhere near as much as taker-giver couples.

        1. Marika

          Yes, I know that phenomenon, YAG, unfortunately! But I didn’t know the terminology. I guess, do you think takers realise they are taking? I didn’t think they even thought about it!

          I know you’re into feminine women…how did your lovely lady balance giving and clearly being an active partner from the beginning with also not being too aggressive?

          Do nothing doesn’t work well for me or in this country, but equally I don’t want a man who thinks I’ll run the show or that I have to prod along forever. You know?

    2. 2.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear YAG,
      re your comment, “she was still very much a taker when it came to money”, could you explain your opinion and experience on women and money in serious relationships. (I’m interested in general male opinions on this, but yours particularly, because you’ve had a lot of real life experience in and out of different relationships and life stages, and you have young adult twin daughters, and will have thought about this.)

      You’ve previously written that your wife impressed you early in dating because she reached for the cheque, and also, that she earned around what you earned.

      I read on Evan’s site that men don’t care (much or at all) about the money women earn, but it doesn’t quite match my real world observations. This may be a cultural difference between the countries, may be the circles I’ve moved in, may be me misunderstanding my male friends and colleagues and girlfriend’s husbands.

      Living in a city where it’s next to impossible for 2 median-earning adults together to buy a house, when I was dating in my 30’s, men that age certainly seemed aware of what women earned and would bring to a relationship income-wise, so I’ve been interested to read articles from the US that infer this isn’t the case there. Most women here continue to work after marriage and kids, though mostly part-time while the kids are young. I’ve known a number of people who bring ongoing family trust money or whose parents will gift a big initial house deposit into the marriage. E.g. my kids attend incredibly expensive private schools, and fully 1/4 – 1/3 of the parents are not paying the school fees out of their annual earned-at-work incomes. (oh for the ease family money would bring…)

      Also, it seems to me that often the attitude of men changes over time? Initially, he doesn’t give much weight to what she earns, or not as much as she does to what he earns. Then with time and goals achieved (i.e. he got her, she married him), with the arrival of kids and more bills, what I see is, most men then want the other adult in the house, their wife, to earn something, and if she doesn’t, fights and accusations and ‘she is a taker financially’ / ‘she just wants me for my providership’ type fears and attitudes show. (Because I’m thinking, well, if you married her knowing she earnt peanuts, of course you are going to continue to provide more, so why get angry about it now? i.e. it was predictable.)

      I certainly observe that people, both spouses, get blindsided by the arrival of children and how much that imposes on at least one of the adult’s career paths. E.g. for me personally I’d never have guessed I’d work part-time after kids arrived. I always assumed I’d work punishing hours forever as I did when young and single. It was a surprise to realise juggling it all was too ruinous to my health and something had to give.

      Is it that men don’t look ahead and realise they’ll want another income coming into the household in the future? i.e. do you think it’s #10 on the priority list for men, or not on the list at all, when dating a choosing a partner?

      It’s sort of perplexing to me because money features so highly in the things argued about throughout many marriages and divorces – so why would men not care about money at the start? They can predict other things and avoid those problems, why be disingenuous about money?

      1. 2.2.1

        Excellent questions, Mrs Estatic!

        Maybe it’s an expensive city thing? Or a well off man thing? Eg if you’re very well off as a man you just want a happy woman to love and accept you and help make your life easier. I know my brother is like that. And maybe if you live in middle America or somewhere with cheap house prices, same thing? (Dubbo?). But I definitely agree men in Sydney care what you do, where you live etc. It’s always the second or third question they ask. And well they might, given, everything you said above.

        I’ve noticed the millenial and xceillanial men (may be misspelled) on here seem to care too (eg shaukat). So maybe it’s generational too.

        1. K

          My two cents. Growing up in a less expensive area the men didn’t care bc if they worked hard they could still have a nice life (big house, good schools etc). Living in SF and NYC it seems men do care. I mean if you are super hot in their mind they will focus less, but I have heard many male friends sound disappointed that a women is otherwise great, but she works retail or doesn’t have her life together. They aren’t looking for status or women who out-earn them , but established. I feel like a solid career that isn’t viewed as too aggressive seems most appealing, e.g. HR over law. Personally, I know my bf supported most of his gfs before me, but appreciates he doesn’t have that worry with me. We can build a life together without it being his whole burden, even though he is very traditional and has a provider mentality. He’d never let a woman pay for a first date, and he’s that way with friends too, always the guy trying to pick up a round of drinks.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Money is a bonus for successful guys; it is not a factor in who we are attracted to.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Marika – “…as a man you just want a happy woman to love and accept you…”
          – but why do men need all this ongoing, continually-illustrated, love and acceptance from a spouse? And why is this all they really want? I mean, it seems a low bar, i.e. as a man I’ll just find someone who loves and accepts me, and then let’s sail off together forever – are men really that easily pleased? No, would be my observation. Certainly YAG, Tom10, Adrian and Shaukarat etc seem to have higher hoops they want a woman to jump through, than just undying, devoted, fawn-eyed gazing puppy-like mere love and acceptance.

          Do you think women need exactly the same amount of love and acceptance, or they accept less of those, in exchange for other things from men?

          I’m honestly curious, as I don’t walk through life yearning to be accepted, or needing my husband to regularly prove his love for, and prioritisation of, me. I don’t get upset if he has other things going on and I get less of him. I mean, I just get on with life.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          If, Mrs. Happy, you still don’t understand that “love and acceptance” is the most important thing that ANYONE can offer, I highly recommend you fill out the application at the top of the page to enroll in the Love U Relationship course. You may learn something that makes you – and your husband – MUCH happier.

        5. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “I’m honestly curious, as I don’t walk through life yearning to be accepted, or needing my husband to regularly prove his love for, and prioritisation of, me. I don’t get upset if he has other things going on and I get less of him. I mean, I just get on with life.”
          You’re a tough, no-nonsense broad. I like it. I mean that in all sincerity.

        6. Mrs Happy

          If all that men who want to marry need, is an attractive-enough woman, and her to be nice to him/prioritise him, and men find a reasonably large percentage of peer-aged women (for want of a better word) ‘doable’, and most women are sweet and prioritising during the dating/girlfriend stage, why aren’t all these men married?

          Look, if most of the men in the world say, these 2 things are all we want, I’ll listen. It’s just their actions don’t match that statement. Lots of men have sweet, pretty girlfriends for a long time without proposing. So I wonder whether some of the men who post here want just those few things, but a lot of other men have more on their want list.

          I mean life would be very easy if your entire catalogue of wants in love was “sweet and pretty”. All married men would be ecstatically happy, no?

        7. Evan Marc Katz

          Nope, Mrs. Happy. I went out with a lot of people before I was married. I found ONE after 300 tries who could truly accept me (AND that I was also attracted to). I would be out of work if women were as good at being partners as you seem to think they are.

        8. Marika

          Hi Happy Mrs (just mixing it up a bit)!

          Well I did say that what I wrote could apply especially to men who had no financial concerns. I also said there seemed to possibly be generational differences at play.

          As to some of your other points, I disagree that its easy to find someone who wholeheartedly accepts you (AND you find attractive and great to be around with no major deal-breakers). It’s bloody hard! I use my brother as an example so often as I don’t meet a lot of kind, caring, put their partner first men. He’s also generous to a fault and wants love and acceptance primarily from his wife (and gives it). His first marriage broke up mostly because she started taking him for granted.

          My ex used to tell me he wanted me to ‘be on his team’. I thought I was. But clearly not enough. (He wasn’t on mine at all really, so.who was he to talk, and that’s another story).

          My brother’s current wife asked for flowers. So he buys them. Is that a neanderthal thing? Not sure, but he makes her happy so he does it (although I’m sure secretly he thinks it’s stupid).

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @Mrs. Happy

          “could you explain your opinion and experience on women and money in serious relationships.”

          Believe it or not, a lot of American women expect a man to pay for everything or do the financial heavy lifting in the relationship. Most of the women I dated when I was younger thought that I was their ATM. As I mentioned in a previous post, my ex-wife was the first woman I dated who offered to pay for as much as a cup of coffee. That being said, my ex-wife always kept score when it came to money. Her money was her money and my money was her money. I will not go into details about it, but it was the only place in our divorce where we experienced serious divorce drama.

        10. Bob

          Men who marry too far down are often men who get liquidated when the wife files for divorce, and men either know this explicitly from having seen it happen to other men, or they intuit it.

          This didn’t happen in the era of divorce v.1, but it exploded with the creation of divorce v.2, and it has ever since been a feature fo the era of divorce v.2.

          Perhaps if women weren’t so quick to discard the hubby and keep the kids and house, men would more freely marry farther down the socioeconomic chain, as they did before divorce v.2.

      2. 2.2.2

        Such an interesting question, Mrs H, I hope some of the guys share their answers. Here’s how it went down for me:

        – Started dating shortly after college, both of us were bright with plenty of potential, it was simply assumed we’d both have successful careers.

        – He is verrrry confident….overconfident, and I believe he thought he’d make plenty of money and wouldn’t really *need* my income.

        – I had zero interest in children for a long time, it was not a sure thing at all. For our first 4 years together it honestly wasn’t on my radar whatsoever. We both thought I’d always work.

        Of course, life is strange. We had kids; I downshifted my career into the slow lane. Money became a huge issue, huge enough that he left me for a woman my same age….who was financially well-off thanks to her wealthy ex-husband.

      3. 2.2.3
        Malika with an L

        I live in a high cost of living city and have dated my fair share of men before settling down. My own experience is that my income never seemed that high on the agenda. Nine times out of ten they were impressed that i had a full time job, the fact that it’s a secretarial job, therefore a median earner, never seemed to matter to them. If they were a high earner they assumed they would shoulder most of the mortage, if they were a median earner that we would muddle along somehow. This afternoon i was discussing finances with my partner. He insists i only pay a fraction of the mortage, as we will be buying a larger house than would be to my taste as we need to accomodate his kids. We even looked into alternative ways for me to invest a part of my income so i can save comfortably for my future, if anything were to happen in our relationship.
        Men prize their kind of hot, and a pleasant personality. They see that already as quite a challenging combo to find, so extra’s are not even in the picture. If they can see you are not a layabout, that is a very nice bonus. Financial practicalities do not enter their equation at all. It used to baffle me, but it is so hammered into men that they will be the provider, that our salary, even if it’s high, is seen as pocket money. I know a succesful engineer couple and her sizeable salary is seen as the holiday money. Those holidays must be quite luxurious!
        Personally, i feel that having only one partner shoulder the bills is unduly unfair, and that both of us should work towards financial security. Maybe the realities of a long term relationship will have men look closer at her income, if they live in a high COL region.

      4. 2.2.4

        Some men indeed want a woman who contributes to the household income. Others want a complement, and are more than willing to shoulder the financial burden on themselves…. With one major caveat: their wives have to prioritize them like they did as girlfriend’s (as I’ve written so many times). The impetus in so many cases for men to start complaining about providership is when women rearrange their priorities, especially after the birth of children. At which time many men say, “Well, if she isn’t going to treat me as I’d hoped, at least she can make some money.” Money is the second choice. So many women mistakenly believe that the way to be a good wife is to be a good mother. Different jobs.

        1. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy, you paint men as so emotionally fragile – do you see most men as such?

          Everyone changes in their behaviour and prioritisation of their partner after the courting bf/gf stage; no-one keeps up that intensity. Feeling hard done by because that winds down, as it inevitably will for both partners, seems to me, like living with illogical fantasies then being dashed when a fantasy story disintegrates. (You could foretell that with your non-camping brother’s gfd, surely you can foretell similar with everyone?). Rearrangement of priorities going both ways, it’s not only men who get less effort after rings go on fingers.

          Linking “treat me as the priority” to money seems as though you’re saying men buy love and attention and are willing to keep doing so.

          I just don’t see men as vulnerable as you’re depicting them. You’re presenting them as needing a wife as a life “I’m a child/ watch me /want me/ I’m all you should want /show me you’re prioritising me/ or I fall apart” prop. Lots of men I know seem much more self-contained than that.

        2. Malika with an L

          Carrying the financial burden alone in a high COL is a very high responsibility and i commend everyone who does this for a family. I was single for practically my whole 20’s and a large chunk of my 30’s during phases including the 2008 crisis. That was panic inducing already! I have often seen the dynamic Jeremy talks of. A friend of mine was very focused on her kids and her husband blew up and said he was more than just a credit card. She was so wrapped up in whar the littles were doing that she never even heard it and that was symbolic of their whole relationship, which has been at crisis point for years. When it’s just the two of you, it is easy to pour affection and attention on each other. And that is what we want to keep as the relationship moves forward, yet we don’t think of the ways our future will be more complex. This is why i wish we would get relationship classes when we are in high school so that we become more aware of the dynamics that will beset us later in life.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Actually I’ve just listened to an enlightening ABC Conversations Richard Fidler podcast on why men don’t take paid parental leave here, and based on men’s statements in that podcast, think I’ve underestimated the importance of men’s jobs, and how much that defines their worth for themselves. In which case thinking of themselves as the provider is of utmost importance.

          I’ve got to say, all this traditional gender distribution of workload being suggested by the “I mainly want a nice accepting wife at home tending to the emotional and childrens’ needs” fails the way men and women now say they want their lives to be structured, according to surveys of millennials and men, re preferred working hours and flexibility, versus economic reality.

          And Evan re your above – of course love and acceptance are important, but they seem the minimal baseline for a long term relationship, for many people, rather than all that is required.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          I would posit, Mrs. Happy, that people compromise on the wrong things: they get tall, cute, successful, sexy – but miss out on the fundamentals of “100% acceptance” and “seeing things from another perspective” and “putting others first.” In other words, you may come by your question honestly, but it doesn’t sound like a query from a truly enlightened woman in a happy high-functioning marriage.

        5. Lynx

          Mrs H wrote: “I’ve got to say, all this traditional gender distribution of workload being suggested by the ‘I mainly want a nice accepting wife at home tending to the emotional and childrens’ needs’ fails the way men and women now say they want their lives to be structured, according to surveys of milennials and men, re preferred working hours and flexibility, versus economic reality.”

          I do think there’s a generational shift happening. I’m early GenX but have spent the last decade working with Millennials, mostly guys, and most have young kids at home. Of course, I’m judging from the outside, but they seem to have a much more ‘we’re-a-team’ attitude in their marriages — and the couples tend to have more equivalent incomes, and the guys tend to pick up more childcare slack than dads of previous generations.

          I look at my peers’ marriages, which are more along traditional lines with the husband generating the primary income, and the guys do seem to have a greater need for “undying, devoted, fawn-eyed gazing puppy-like mere love and acceptance”.

          And like you, I wonder to myself, really? For most guys — or perhaps for guys of a certain age — Is the bar really that low?

        6. Jeremy

          You consider it a low bar because you don’t want to give it, Lynx. How many times have we had this conversation? If love is such a low bar, why do you find it so difficult to give?

          Money is the low bar. You can get it from a slot machine in Vegas, from a lottery ticket, from an employer you hate doing a job you despise. Not so with love.

          There is nothing we so hate than the thing we rooted from ourselves due to fear.

        7. Jeremy

          I just finished listening to that podcast Mrs H. Throughout the entire 52 minutes I listened to her talk about whether men don’t take parental leave due to work pressures, societal expectations, laziness, etc. I was waiting and waiting for her to just broach the subject of what happens to female attraction to males who aren’t working for income. She never mentioned it. Holy crap, she never mentioned it.

          And I wondered if it never occurred to her to think about it? Because so many moms believe about themselves that if only they had a husband who helped out, who did as many domestic tasks as they did, that they would be blissfully happy. And perhaps they would, because their pie charts would be fulfilled. But would men’s? Is there any understanding that men’s chart isn’t the same as women’s? That happy wives don’t necessarily think they should need to make their husbands happier, ’cause their husbands WOULD be happier if only they had proper priorities, Mrs Happy?

          When men help out at home, women’s comfort goes up. But their arousal doesn’t. It has been established that men doing domestic chores does not increase female arousal – that it actually reduces the quantity and quality of the sex those men end up having with their spouses, their spouses who are happier and more comfortable. That if your goal is to have an intense sexual relationship with your spouse, it works far better to earn more money and hire help than to do it yourself. She didn’t even mention it. SMH.

        8. Yet Another Guy


          I am with you on this one. A man taking an equality position in a marriage my lead to more comfort to the woman, but it does not lead to more romantic love. If he only did more around the house and with the kids, I would have more energy for sex is the biggest lie ever perpetrated on men. While Lynx may be an exception, women have arousal and comfort needs that are often not met by the same man, which is pretty much the basis of the cad and dad mating strategies. Women want to mate with cads and live with dads. If given the choice between being a cad or being a dad, most men would prefer the life of a cad, even if it does lack in a few areas.

          As far as to Millennials, they have no choice but to look for an equal financial partner. The Millennials that are most likely to marry are college graduates and unlike days of past, most Millennial college graduates carry substantial self-inflicted college-related debt; therefore, most Millennial men do not have a prayer of being a sole provider.

        9. Emily, to

          “women have arousal and comfort needs that are often not met by the same man,”
          I don’t know if I’d go that far, but comfort and arousal are two very different things and are often at odds with one another. What turns a woman on may be in direct contradiction to who she is 90% of the time, i.e. a woman who wants an egalitarian marriage but a dominant man in the bedroom. I’m sure it’s the same for many men. You want a sweet, appropriate woman you can take home to mom and who will fit in with the wives of your co-workers by not being too flashy and flirtatious, but is that what you dream about when you think of your ideal sex partner? Do the words “sweet” and “appropriate” enter into it?

        10. Marika


          I’m sure what you say about the studies and housework is true. But, conversely, a MASSIVE turn off for women is laziness. “Wow I’m so aroused right now by my non-comfort husband sitting on his arse watching TV while I do everything” say no woman, ever.

          You don’t have to don an apron and bake cakes, but if it’s a choice between, say, doing nothing or doing something, best for the relationship, your sex life, your kids and your wife’s mental health to do something.(I know this doesn’t apply specifically to you).

          Also, to be fair, in the vast majority of cases where a man isn’t pulling his weight at home, I very much doubt it’s because he read studies and examined his meta-goals…IMO.

        11. Lynx

          I’m not disagreeing that fathers doing more household chores does not ensure more/better sex, Jeremy. I can only speak for myself, here, but it’s not that I wanted my husband to do more chores, I could have coped with an unequal distribution of parenting labor (well, if he hadn’t kept whining that I should also be earning top dollar, but let’s put that part aside).

          Here’s what I could not abide: he couldn’t see that it was fleeting, our parenting years. He didn’t have the patience or generosity of spirit to *temporarily* put the emotional needs of a family before his own needs as an individual.

          I remember once, our kids were young and we were at some child-centered activity, a birthday party or something. He turned to me, with a disgusted look on his face, and said, “This bores me,” and I thought, no shit, it bores me, too. But this is what you do, as a parent, during the parenting years: tolerate boredom and frustration and a myriad other negative states of being. It’s what you sign on for as a parent: prioritizing someone else. That’s the whole point.

          I’m writing this from my new post-kids location, a place in the city, having finally escaped the suburbs in my empty nesthood. And you know who I find myself missing? My husband. My narcissistic, larger-than-life, verbally abusive husband. Because we had an absolute blast together before kids, and if he’d had the patience to weather the parenting doldrums, we’d be having an absolute blast now.

        12. Evan Marc Katz

          Lynx, you married the wrong man who was not capable of being a good husband for you. That doesn’t negate anything that Jeremy is saying.

        13. Jeremy

          I realize that laziness is a massive turnoff for women, Marika. But in the end what does it matter if she’s even more turned off if she’s impossible to turn on? No difference as far as the man is concerned. There’s a huge difference between saying something might turn off the OFF switch versus that it will activate the ON switch.

          It’s not that I’d advocate that men shouldn’t do household chores. It’s that it boggles my mind that a woman doing research into WHY men do and don’t do certain things would have absolutely zero understanding of men…. And frankly, of women. Every reason under the sun except the real one… Though I suppose that’s what comes of basing your research on what people tell you in such things as surveys. When men admit that they do things for female approval/arousal, they get accused of childishness and fragility, after all, which kind of negates the whole approval thing.

        14. Adrian

          Hi Mrs. Happy,

          You said, “Jeremy, you paint men as so emotionally fragile – do you see most men as such?”

          I agree with you 100% logically. With everything from it not being natural to have no friends outside of your wife, to placing too much burden on the wife to be your social outlet I just don’t see or experience that with my friends. Even now that I’ve moved to a new State I get out and try to create a new social life for myself- I think those type of men are just Jeremy’s world of men or perhaps it’s generational like Lynx said.

          However, on this particular subject I can agree with him emotionally. I had to stop and think about it but (within the context of a financially self-sustaining man) I can see what he is saying about the love vs money thing. If you won’t give me love then give me something.

          Another thing about this very long and very old multi-post debate/discussion is that I still haven’t heard anyone suggest a solution that satisfies both genders. Because I agree with you 100% when you said that a woman who is working full time, plus has a social life, plus is taking care of the kids will have less emotional room for her husband and for him to expect her to give him the same level of attention that she did when they were child free and had less financial and social responsibility is CRAZY! However I do agree with Jeremy that No one wants to feel invisible or like a 3rd wheel in their own marriage once kids enter the relationship.

        15. Adrian

          Hi Marika,

          You said, ” “Wow I’m so aroused right now by my non-comfort husband sitting on his arse watching TV while I do everything” say no woman, ever.”

          If I remember correctly you are the only “regular” female commenter who has experienced what Jeremy speaks of-Being in a relationship where you do everything your partner says will make them get in the mood more sexually and yet they still refuse to have sex with you as much as you like or they do it begrudgingly. I believe you said this was the situation with your ex husband.

          Which is why I am curious about your opinion as a woman and as someone who understands the lack of sex in a relationship. What are your thoughts on the whole comfort vs arousal thing? What are your thoughts on too much comfort diminishing women’s sexual desire for their husband? I would rather receive sex from my partner because she desires me not because she feels it’s her duty.

          I’m sort of in Mrs. Happy’s camp in that reading Jeremy’s description of what it takes to keep a partner happy and horny seems tiring. Like a scientist in a chem lab having to balance giving and not giving to much comfort or arousal. Not a complete “Nice” guy but not a complete “Bad Boy”.

        16. Evan Marc Katz

          @Adrian – Jeremy is right. Full stop. The question is whether he’s communicating it in a simple and accessible way and that’s debatable. But there’s no denying the truth in his observations. And to put a finer point on it, if you’re like me, all of this stuff – what you call “a scientist in a chem lab” – comes naturally. I’m a nice guy with balls. I fundamentally want to please my wife and naturally do so 95% of the time. The other 5%, there’s disagreement and friction and we work through it. As such, I’m a good husband – helps out with housework and childrearing, listens to her, works from home, enjoys her company, aligned with our values, support the family financially – but there’s no doubting whether I have strong opinions, confidence, and the ability to arouse. For some men, being this person takes some work – and Jeremy is describing that work – the same way, in Love U, that I teach women to be the “cool girl with boundaries” or the “benevolent CEO of your love life.” Over half the battle is choosing a partner who likes and accepts you – far moreso than having to change your personality to do well with the opposite sex.

        17. Yet Another Sex

          @Emily, to

          “You want a sweet, appropriate woman you can take home to mom and who will fit in with the wives of your co-workers by not being too flashy and flirtatious, but is that what you dream about when you think of your ideal sex partner? Do the words “sweet” and “appropriate” enter into it??”

          Actually, comfort and arousal are not at odds when it comes to partner selection for men like they with women. Sure, there are men who truly have the Maddona-whore complex, but they are in the minority. Men are far less selective than women when it comes to sex partners. Almost all of the women I dated would chose a dominant man for a lover and a much more compliant man for a life partner if they had their choice. While there are women who would not choose a dominant man for a lover, they are clearly in the minority from my experience. I do not know of a single dominant man who desires a dominant woman for a life partner or lover, not one. Most dominant men desire a warm, feminine woman for a life partner and lover. The more submissive the better.

        18. Evan Marc Katz

          Change the word from “submissive” to “agreeable” and you’re a lot closer.

        19. Emily, to

          “Actually, comfort and arousal are not at odds when it comes to partner selection for men like they with women.”
          You mean to tell me there aren’t men who first filtered for “good wife and mother” when looking for a long-term partner and then were disappointed they weren’t having the kind of sex they wanted? I realize there are men who see most sex as good sex and are perfectly happy as long as it’s relatively frequent (I’m not saying that sarcastically), but surely there are some who differentiate quality and quantity. I have 2 guy friends who were with women who were great partners but one said the sex was boring (he is no longer with his girlfriend) and the other said he wishes his wife was more adventurous.

        20. Emily, to

          Evan wrote: “I’m a nice guy with balls. I fundamentally want to please my wife … but there’s no doubting whether I have strong opinions, confidence, and the ability to arouse.”
          Evan is right. If you’re confident, have a sense of self-worth and reasonable boundaries, you wont have a problem creating arousal in women. And if you’re basically a nice guy who she can trust and not feel she has to keep her guard up all the time for fear of getting hurt, you’ll create comfort.

        21. Adrian

          Hi Evan,

          Since this is one of the rare times when you intervene in comments I have to take advantage of it.

          You said, “Jeremy is right. Full stop.”

          No need to say more; your co-signing is good enough for me. (^_^)

          You said, ” if you’re like me, all of this stuff comes naturally… the same way, in Love U, that I teach women to be the “cool girl with boundaries” or the “benevolent CEO of your love life.”

          Evan what are your thoughts/advice about what Jeremy brought to light during his last “Great Debate” where he stated that many people (women) actually are giving 100% or more in their relationships but the problem is that they are giving what ‘they’ want NOT what their partners want.

          And due to giving 100%, when their partner are not happy or feels neglected, they say he/she is the problem and NOT their own inability to meet their partners needs or even see that just because they are giving doesn’t mean that their partners are happy with what they are receiving.

          Evan I feel like this is a HUGE issue that has never (to my knowledge) been discussed in any relationship material that is out there… The only thing that comes kind of close is the “Love Languages” But most of us just feel like what is most important is that fact that we ARE giving 100% and that what we are giving makes US happy so it (I) must be right.

        22. Evan Marc Katz

          Adrian, this is not only discussed regularly but built into my Love U course. It’s a six-month video curriculum that A) Teaches women to stop putting up with unacceptable treatment from men and B) Teaches women how to date effectively and C) Teaches women how to be better partners. So, yes, your synopsis of the debate and Jeremy’s comments are accurate.

          Women are frustrated with men from two sides: their successful, charismatic, alpha male is a selfish, critical, insensitive, non-commital asshole who doesn’t help out with housework or childrearing, doesn’t fight fair, and doesn’t prioritize her needs…AND, when she meets a man who is selfless, sensitive, committed, he’s usually not confident, successful, or attractive enough – partially because he’s so nice, giving and consistent.

          Men are frustrated that when we finally find a woman who is confident, successful, secure, attractive and we commit – the very nature of people allows us all to take relationships for granted. Married women feel emotionally neglected from selfish workaholics who put their own needs first. Married men feel constantly criticized and infantilized, since nothing we do is good enough. This is especially commmon if you’re a father and a breadwinner with a smart, strong, opinionated wife.

          Long story short: EVERYONE could stand to LISTEN more and treat partners the way they want to be treated (within reason). But men think they’re good husbands because they make money. And women think they’re good wives because the kids are alive and the house looks nice.

          What both of them are missing is that men want to feel ACCEPTED, APPRECIATED AND ADMIRED and women want to feel SAFE, HEARD and UNDERSTOOD. If you can both provide ALL of those elements to your partner – regardless of gender – you’ll have a happy marriage.

          Jeremy gets that.

          Sorry to single anyone out but to listen to Emily prattle on for years about her desire for sexy alphas (without understanding what makes them want to commit or opening up to nicer guys) or Mrs. Happy prattle on for years about how silly it is for married men to have needs (as if making your husband feel good is extra work), well, it makes me want to give up. Neither of these women have taken Love U, yet both of them carry themselves as if they’ve got it all figured out. This is why I let Jeremy fight my battles for me. I only want to invest my time on people who want to listen, learn and grow – not repeat their same tired mistakes over and over as if we have something to learn from their failures.

        23. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          You said, “You mean to tell me there aren’t men who first filtered for “good wife and mother” when looking for a long-term partner and then were disappointed they weren’t having the kind of sex they wanted?”

          I am honestly curious to hear the older guys answer to this. I can’t speak for every man but for my circle of friends and co-workers (at least those in my age group) the answer is yes but I don’t know one guy that actually married a woman who was a disappointment in bed-that seems Nuts! as my sweet old granny use to say. (^_^)

          You said, “Evan is right. If you’re confident, have a sense of self-worth and reasonable boundaries, you won’t have a problem creating arousal in women. And if you’re basically a nice guy who she can trust and not feel she has to keep her guard up all the time for fear of getting hurt, you’ll create comfort.”

          Agreed. Except… If it were this simple would there really be so much debate on this subject? My understanding from all the back and forth comments on this is that of the two ‘arousal’ is the one that usually wanes as both partners takes on more responsibility. Responsibilities that yes increase comfort but ultimately, simultaneously lower comfort.

          This seems to usually happens with long-time married couples. So that may be why it seems so simple to you and I but people like Jeremy and Mrs. Happy see it as not so simple… or at least their spouses don’t see it as simple.

          How is your meetup group going? You are acting out movies and not just watching them right?

          Have you made any real friends yet in your new/old town?

        24. Emily, to

          I am honestly curious to hear the older guys answer to this. I can’t speak for every man but for my circle of friends and co-workers (at least those in my age group) the answer is yes but I don’t know one guy that actually married a woman who was a disappointment in bed”
          Ok. But I’m sure none of them married the woman with whom they had the greatest sex or who turned them on the most. It doesn’t work that way when you filter in for everything else needed in a long-term relationship. I’m tired of reading how women are doing some kind of Machiavellian juggling of comfort and arousal just to have a family. Everybody makes compromises.
          “My understanding from all the back and forth comments on this is that of the two ‘arousal’ is the one that usually wanes as both partners take on more responsibility. Responsibilities that yes increase comfort …”
          Yes. As as per YAG’s comments about the cads versus the dads: Even the caddiest of men become dad-ish when they marry or move in with a woman. Getting to know someone naturally raises your level of comfort. Domestication raises comfort.
          “You are acting out movies and not just watching them right?”
          Huh? No, this isn’t a theater group. We watch the movies and then discuss them. Not the Marvel Comic stuff but stuff with some heft to it.
          “Have you made any real friends yet in your new/old town?”
          No. Have you?

        25. Jeremy

          It’s not simple at all, Adrian. Because the reasonableness of Emily’s “reasonable boundaries” is in the eye of the beholder, not the actor. If you provide arousal cues when she wants comfort, she’ll be neither aroused nor comforted. And likewise if you provide comfort cues when she wants arousal.

          Like when I was young and took dates to Blockbuster to choose videos to watch, and vacillated for an hour “What do you want to watch?” “No what do YOU want to watch?” What they wanted was arousal – wanted me to just make a decision, regardless of theoretically wanting to be consulted. Well, that’s not exactly true. Really they wanted me to make a decision, but to decide on the thing they’d have wanted anyway, thereby giving them what they wanted without them having to ask for it or assume responsibility for it. Comfort and arousal in the same package, through the act of “just getting it,” the one thing Rollo got right in a sea of bullshit. Just getting it is not easy, Emily, not unless you’re a mind-reader.

          Lynx, I understand what you wrote about your ex. I understand how you feel. How do you feel about how you feel?

        26. Emily, to

          I’m not going to respond. I don’t want to dive into that negativity. I’ll remove myself from the site. You don’t need to worry about my comments any further.

        27. Evan Marc Katz

          Instead of withdrawing, how about you try to grow and learn to get better results? Why would you spend so much time here if you didn’t want to actually do what it takes to have a successful relationship? Why would you leave because you were called out? Don’t leave. Step up.

        28. Emily, to

          “Why would you spend so much time here if you didn’t want to actually do what it takes to have a successful relationship?”
          Why would you leave because you were called out?
          It’s not that I get called out. It’s your way of doing it.

        29. Evan Marc Katz

          Got it. Well, I’m sorry you’re no longer entertained and are choosing to go. But while this may be entertainment to you, I don’t write to entertain. I write for women who want to understand men and find love. My clients. People who are not clients and will never be clients – especially ones who contradict my philosophies – often lose steam on these boards. I’ve tried to hold my tongue but I find the smug, snarky single bit – as if you’ve got it all down and can criticize the Marikas and Jeremys of the world – to be frustrating and ironic. To be clear, you are allowed to post whatever you want here. I’m not banning you since you haven’t attacked or insulted everyone (too much). I just don’t get the point of doubling down on the way you’re doing things when the way you’re doing things has kept you single.

          That goes for everyone who is reading this thread. If you’re fighting with the Malikas and Jeremys on this board, and you haven’t invested in any of my programs or coaching, you’re wasting your breath.

          If you’re single and frustrated with the status quo, do something different to get a different result. Don’t just keep complaining that the opposite sex doesn’t get it. Don’t just keep defending the choices you’ve made and the limiting beliefs about love that sabotage you. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with being single. There is something wrong with single people who don’t get it giving shitty advice on a site that is designed to call B.S. on both genders’ ineffective behavior, blind spots and hypocrises. If I don’t hear from you, Emily, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for. I’d rather be wrong about you and eat crow than be right about you.

        30. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, to

          “I have 2 guy friends who were with women who were great partners but one said the sex was boring (he is no longer with his girlfriend) and the other said he wishes his wife was more adventurous.”

          Now, compare what you have written with what the average woman wants in a sex partner. The word “boring” and the phrase “more adventurous” are not remotely close the difference women want in a lover and a life partner. In fact, I would argue that the word “boring” and the phrase “more adventurous” translate to the same thing; namely, lack of novelty. Men need novelty at some level to keep from becoming bored or feeling like their woman is non-adventurous, as both translate to a woman who is not all that interested in having sex with her partner (i.e., a woman who is not interested in pleasng her man, a taker). A woman does not have to change the woman she is to bring more novelty into the bedroom. She just needs to put forth a little more effort. Novelty can be as simple as a new bra and sexy panties (a dominatrix costume may be a little too much for many men to handle 🙂 ) or booking a hotel room for hot and heavy hotel sex. A little more adventurous way to kick things up a notch is doing something dangerous like having sex on a park picnic table at night (been there, done that). The risk of being caught adds excitement. A man has to work hard to shift from being a compliant beta provider for day-to-day living to being an alpha lover. Those are completely different male mindsets. What makes a man a good alpha lover often makes him a challenging life partner. What makes a man a complaint beta provider often makes sex with him pedestrian. Sure, there are pairings where the man can cover both roles, but he almost always leans heavier in one direction, which means that a woman needs to be prepared to sacrifice comfort for arousal or vice versa to some extent to make things work. If a woman meets a man who can cover both needs equally well, she hit the jackpot.

        31. Marika

          Hi Adrian

          What you write about my marriage isn’t true. I said one thing in passing about sex (and as it turned out he was not into sex at the time either to punish me or because he’d started cheating) to make the point that it’s not just women who can withdraw from sex. I’ve mentioned before you tend to overstate what I said about that.

          My ex was probably 70% arousal qualities (soooo not good husband material, duh!!). At least.

          But I clearly recall the times I was most definitely *not* aroused was when I felt the balance of household duties was too uneven. It made me annoyed and want to go to bed early. If when I was stewing in anger about the overfilled bin never being emptied, if at that moment he’d emptied it with a smile – hello Nelson!

          But then I get the sense I’m not the type of woman Jeremy is talking about. I’m really not that hard to arouse. In a relationship no one has to convince me to have sex!! 😉

        32. Jeremy

          Hi Marika. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it’s about a particular type of woman. I think it’s more about the type of situation in which one finds one’s self. I get the sense from your past comments that you’ve always gravitated toward high-arousal relationships – have you ever been in a relationship where comfort significantly overbalanced arousal? If not, it’s not necessarily that you’re not the sort of woman who is hard to arouse, but perhaps that you’re the sort of woman who over-prioritizes her own arousal? Or perhaps the reverse – fears what would happen if you didn’t. That you might end up losing attraction to a good man, being the type of woman you really don’t want to be? That it’s better to be hurt than to hurt another?

          That’s a difficult fear to overcome because it keeps one spinning in repetitive circles, repeating the same mistakes for fear of a worse alternative. I guess the only suggestion I’d make is that (IMHO) whether or not we behave like assholes lies within our conscious control. That we can cultivate love, that we don’t need to rely on our ungovernable impulses. That rather than focusing on who we ARE, we can focus on who we want to BE….as long as our aspirations are realistically aligned with our personality and our other goals.

          My father’s worst fear, years ago, was to retire. To be one of those old guys sitting at a table in a bagel shop, wearing a baseball cap. He thought that was a fate worse than death. Years later, in semi-retirement, he tried various bagel shops and discovered that he absolutely LOVES them. He’s there a few times every week, sometimes wearing a baseball cap. He has lived his greatest fear and realized that not only was the fear ridiculous, but he’d have it no other way.

        33. Marika

          Hi Jeremy

          My ex husband was an over-correction. My BF before him was mostly comfort. It’s taking me some time to correct back towards the middle. I know my BF, as wonderful as he was and he is no doubt now the husband you are to his now-wife, was too nice (for me) and didn’t have enough of the ‘balls’ for me. It would be silly of me to think I would be okay with nice, lovely, decent etc only. And in the end I knew it wasn’t fair to him. Not every woman needs to train herself to be attracted to the exact same type of guy – no matter what a great husband he may well be (to someone else).

          That being said, I am making (admittedly slow) progress in the right direction. I had a second date with a man on Saturday night. I was very impressed with his kissing skills (arousal definitely not lacking!), but more so impressed that after he dropped me home, when I messaged him to ask if I dropped my purse in his car, not only came back so we both could look through his car and on the ground nearby, but then drove me back to the pub where I left it. My housemate and I were just getting into my car when he came back and insisted he would drive me. *Very* impressed. While I was sitting in his car and clearly silently stressing about possibly losing all my cards, licence etc., he reached over and touched my hand to reassure me. I remember thinking ‘this is how it should be’. I’m rearranging my other plans to see him again tonight 🙂

          Anyway, re the housework thing. I could be wrong, but I think those studies are focused on why the imbalance and shift after marriage/live in relationships. ie., single men don’t all live in squalor. They do housework etc., because it needs to be done, without any reward or thank you’s, arousing anyone, or promise of sex. On average, on the whole, in many suburban households, that tends to change after a marriage or serious, live-in relationship. Women’s overall (paid and unpaid) workload *tends* to go up, and men’s down. I think they are looking at why that may be. Obviously the men don’t lose their skills. And not all of them think they are pulling too much weight financially so decide to stop doing all the stuff around the house they easily did when single – that’s only part of it. The arousal thing is interesting. But it’s not the whole story.

        34. Marika


          No one wants you to leave 🙂

        35. Lynx

          Jeremy: “How do you feel about how you feel?” I feel chagrined that it’s taking me so incredibly long to figure out this whole life thing. You know that old saying, ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal’? God, how I wish it were.

          I feel like I’ve gained insight into a male pov (or, at least, the pov of men who read this blog). EMK says that most men want a warm, feminine, agreeable woman. You further advise women not to neglect their husbands after kids arrive. YAG observes, ‘Women want to mate with cads and live with dads’. Adrian posits, ‘[arousal] usually wanes as both partners takes on more responsibility. Responsibilities that yes increase comfort but ultimately, simultaneously lower comfort’.

          These are all reasonable thoughts from men who clearly have an interest in communicating productively with women about romantic relationships. It would all be so much more actionable if I were 25.

        36. Jeremy

          Regarding the chores, Marika, it’s not that I think the issue results from only one factor. I’ve read articles on such sites as Jezebel where gender roles are blamed for men’s “learned helplessness” regarding household duties, and I can acknowledge that this might hold true for some men. And that, as the lady in this podcast said, societal and work-related expectations might play a role – more for some than others.

          But to ignore the role of gendered attraction – to pretend that it doesn’t exist or play a major role in this issue – ridiculous. And also, she ignored the role of personality in general. Ignored the studies that show that women, in general, have higher levels of neuroticism around their surroundings. They notice things are dirty before men do, are bothered before men are. For example, last night my wife insisted on emptying the garbage bins in the kitchen. They were about 3/4 full. I’d not have emptied them until they were full. It was a chore that she perceived as necessary, that I did not. She was bothered by it, I was not. So is it fair to split such “chores” 50/50? When does the line blur between chore and neurosis, between necessity and hobby? I digress. But the question is not a digression.

          Regarding the other, I wish you luck with the new beau. I happen to disagree with you about “not every woman needs to train herself to be attracted to the same type of guy,” especially when that “type” is nice and giving. Someone referenced “setting the bar too low” with regards to something else….and I happen to think the expression applies better in this regard. But hey, that’s just what I think, and what I think doesn’t matter to anyone other than me.

        37. Jeremy

          Lynx, that’s interesting that you feel that way. Tell me, if you did have a time machine to go back to age 25 and take action with your newly acquired knowledge, what would you change? Would the change be to choose a different husband, or to treat that husband differently? Remembering that he’s still the same guy…

          I ask because you mentioned that you were pining for your ex, your insensitive, abusive ex, while in a relationship with a kind and giving man who loves you, but whom you don’t love. The manosphere calls this “Alpha Widowhood.”

          So……is what you’ve taken away from this blog A) how to have had a better chance with the alpha jerk who divorced you, or B) how to be better to the loving man who doesn’t arouse you? Honestly, I’d have loved it if you’d have taken away C)

        38. Lynx

          Marika: Congratulations on a promising date!

          “On average, on the whole, in many suburban households, that tends to change after a marriage or serious, live-in relationship. Women’s overall (paid and unpaid) workload *tends* to go up, and men’s down.”

          Just guessing, here, but I wonder if it’s due to a change in residence and the increased demands of maintaining a larger home? Many of us rent a smaller place when single and then buy a larger place when coupled. We are extremely aware of the increased responsibility of a home mortgage, but we may not fully realize how much home maintenance will eat into our free time.

          So, maybe guys are putting in the same hours of home maintenance they did when renting, but women are picking up the slack. Factor in a very common traditional division of labor where men care for the exterior and women care for the interior, e.g., the lawn only needs mowing once a week during the growing season, but meals are daily year round. Et voila…women are doing more unpaid work.

        39. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy, you wrote
          “I just finished listening to that podcast Mrs H. Throughout the entire 52 minutes I listened to her talk about whether men don’t take parental leave due to work pressures, societal expectations, laziness, etc. I was waiting and waiting for her to just broach the subject of what happens to female attraction to males who aren’t working for income. She never mentioned it. Holy crap, she never mentioned it.”

          You are viewing everything through your lens and wants. She never mentioned sexual attraction because the whole topic of the podcast was based on her recent quarterly essay and one of her previous books: the topic was not sexual attraction. She is interested in, and being interviewed about, a topic other than, how much sex married men get. She is a political journalist with a background in law, discussing how to improve Australian men’s uptake of a recent change to our welfare system around parental leave, and thereby improve men’s connections to their children. She is talking about how men don’t get the flexibility in workplaces, or pathways to career progression, that women who take parental leave get. It has nothing to do with sex. Not everything in life is about sex.

        40. Marika

          Hi Jer

          I appreciate you understand things like chores & motivations behind the distribution of them can be complex, as I believe most things involving humans and their interactions are.

          Similarly with attraction…now I fully accept that if beau ends up being an ass I will need to find a way to disengage no matter my feelings for him. I understand I need to be vigilant in not confusing avoidance with chemistry, but I would strongly disagree that I (or anyone) needs to completely retrain what gets us going. As much as I respect you, I believe Evan gives much more helpful and realistic advice in this regard.

          The ‘balls’ bit is important (as is the nice guy), for me, so that beau and I don’t *nice and kind* each other into the perpetual friend zone.
          Example: last night we had one of those feels-like-20-mins-but-it’s-been-2-hour dinners. When we finally got a sense of our external world waiters were clearing up and tumble weeds were drifting past. I got all shy and blushy and kind of lost for words. We sat there in weird silence for just long enough for him to see I was floundering, gave me this look, and then grabbed me (gently) by the back of the head and pulled me in for a kiss. That was ballsy, because it was one of those brightly lit open kind of places with a couple of kids running around. Not a typical ‘passionate kiss’ venue. Now, he’s nice, respectful, kind enough that he didn’t do anything like that last time we met up. He’s not a player with rehearsed smooth moves. We kissed last time, but it took him a couple of hours to warm up to it – we were both clearly a bit nervous and does he/she want me. But if he hadn’t done what he did last night, I definitely wouldn’t have – and we’d have both gone home confused wondering if anyone actually liked anyone.

          PS FTR I’m not the kind of woman who both wants that, but then would actually #MeToo a guy for doing it. I love that he figured out what I needed in that moment without me saying it and gave it to me. Important part of the dynamic (for me).

        41. Lynx

          Jeremy: “…interesting that you feel that way”. I adore being interesting, so, !!success!! Although my ‘pining for my ex’ is not what it might seem. I’m happy about having briefly missed him…because I’ve spent the last decade, at least, wondering what the hell I was thinking, wondering how I got myself in such a mess. It was a relief, for a few moments, to be transported to the beginning, and recall how it was so fun for many years. I was able to forgive myself for being so stupid.

          I have zero desire to reunite. I haven’t forgotten who he is, and I would never get involved with that type again.

          Here’s what I’ve taken away from this blog: I absolutely believe EMK that a woman’s chances at finding a mate improves if she is warm, feminine, and agreeable. Sadly, that is not me. So I guess I choose D) accept that I am a different type of woman — smart, sexy and rational — and therefore my pool of potential mates is dramatically smaller.

        42. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy,
          What I ate for dinner last night was not about sex. The way I treated my patients yesterday? Not about sex. My plans tonight for my brother in law’s birthday party? Not about sex.

          Men’s reason for ego-investing in providership? Is about sex. At least, big big section of the pie chart. The fact that a person with all the credentials you listed (and society in general, frankly) fails to see this is why it’s been so difficult to remedy it. Scandinavian countries have the most egalitarian society the world had ever known…. And they’re up to about 30% make participation in paternity leave. 70% of men still not taking it, in spite of societal incentives. What on earth could they fear losing out on? Advancement at work? Women fear losing that too… But women know that losing at work won’t affect their home life as long as their partner has a job. Men know that it will.

          One of my favourite of Jordan Peterson’s lectures (and I’m not generally a fan of him) was where he discussed why there aren’t more female CEOs. He says we’re asking entirely the wrong question. Given the gruelling work and schedule of a ceo, the question isn’t why women aren’t doing it, it’s why anyone is! The work life balance of a ceo sucks! The answer is because success signals male sexuality. Improved odds of attracting a quality mate. Whereas that type of success does nothing for female sexuality or attracting a mate for a woman. If recommend watching that lecture. I’ll dig up the link if you can’t find it. Not everything is about sex. But more things are than you think.

        43. Mrs Happy

          JJ, re your: “Not everything is about sex. But more things are than you think.”

          a) Don’t go assuming I don’t know how much in this world is about sex.

          b) Consider the following idea:
          Maybe for you and some other people, e.g. as a random approximation, 80% of males aged 15-60, sex is really important, and often on their mind, and colours their every second move, but for everybody else in the world, i.e. the majority of the population, it’s not as important, and only one of many things, causes, topics and passions they’re interested in.
          And maybe because males in that range hold most positions of power in films, advertising, and total overall life in most societies, sex is pushed as much as it is? And maybe all those other people aren’t as obsessed by it and really really wish it wasn’t such an obsession with the power group?

          c) Maybe when you say “sex is really important, it’s why I do everything”, I sometimes think, poor Jeremy, (the name Jeremy can stand for every man in that 15-60 80% group here, this isn’t just directed at you) arranging his life around a napkin (God help me for that metaphor but it’s here to stay, and please everyone just take it with a grain of salt, and don’t argue about how different a serviette is to sex, because, guess what – I know that), and tying himself in knots in an aim to get more or better serviettes. The poor lad. He is missing out on so much that is rich and interesting, and he can’t even be happy unless he gets a few inches of his body into someone else’s every few days. (I am not picking on JJ. I think it’s generous anyone shares their feelings here. Plus that experience is standard, and if you really want to cry tears of feminism-gets-us-nowhere frustration, research the marriage B-Job economy.)

          d) It’s like me talking about how dissatisfied I am with my navy napkins and how my marriage is going badly because of them when I really maybe wanted more frequent napkin use, and cream coloured ones of a better hue; I really really need to touch my skin to a linen napkin daily, or I resent my spouse and feel unloved. And life revolves around this for me, and every time any topic arises, I’m back to my napkin frustration, and I link it to everything in life, and to everything absolutely everywhere. And then I insist on saying to you, but Jeremy, can’t you see that everything IS about napkins, or, much more than you wish to believe, IS about napkins.

          Well, you’d say: Mrs Happy, I can see napkins are really central to your enjoyment of life and feeling needed and wanted and loved, but maybe, just maybe, they’re not as important as that to other people and you should imbibe that? Maybe you should try to be less obsessed by napkins? Maybe there are other enjoyments in life you can partake of? Maybe let go a little of the napkin craziness? Sure other people are into napkins, but being so into them, and so routinely frustrated, certainly doesn’t seem to be increasing your overall life satisfaction, does it Mrs Happy?

          And in this parallel world, I’d say: but napkins are important, and, they need to take up much more of your pie chart Jeremy than they are, and, you are wrong. Your marriage, Jeremy, will be better if you get more into napkins. You should embrace the napkins. I think you need marriage counselling and to do various relationship courses so you can understand napkins better, even if Mrs Jeremy may be perfectly content with her current napkin situation. Oh and also – while learning to be really into the napkins, you need to tell someone (maybe the napkins, I’m lost in this tumbleweed metaphor now) how much you admire and desire the napkins, just, you know, for existing and being fairly standard napkins. But they need admiration or they, I don’t know, stop feeling as valued or something. Because some napkins need admiration and all those napkins think every other napkin similarly needs admiration, so now anyone who doesn’t write sonnets of napkin appreciation, is clearly not someone who is happy with their napkin life.

          And you’d think: she has lost the plot. She is off the reservation. Drinking the cool-aid. They’re just napkins.

          We’re going around in circles. We need to talk about something else. Here’s a story: Last night I was up from 2am-5am with my youngest who couldn’t sleep, then at 5am just as I had a chance of some sleep, my oldest woke up “I can’t sleep”, and I walked into my room for a breather. And there in the middle of the doorway on the floor at 5am was a their-venom-is-invariably-fatal (unless you get to a hospital in time for the antivenom) funnel web spider about as big as my palm. So I cracked and decided the marital love straw had broken the camels back and I was now ceasing to protect my husband’s sleep. I woke him up to catch said spider, but it got away, and presumably is now in my bedroom somewhere, while I lay on my bed typing this while recovering from an anaesthetic.
          Bring it on spidey boy. Bring it. (That’s not a metaphor, that is actually directed at the spider, but may be the propofol talking.)

        44. Marika

          Mrs H !!!

          Confidentiality be damned. Post your address and I’m calling triple zero to send in the anti-venom if we don’t hear from you again tonight.

          I must say you seem like an incredibly loving and patient mother. At no point did you yell out – or want to – Go the F to Sleep (ala Noni from Playschool)??

          Re the napkins, I think when you’re an attractive woman with no (obvious) family/religion/childhood instilled napkin hang ups who was getting her single girl groove on before anyone had ever heard of HPV (HPnapkin?) and with a steady supply of napkin providers, napkins aren’t a big deal. If you’re a man with strong morals who never sees himself getting divorced or losing access to his kids, who is cut off without warning from his beloved napkins, it becomes a big deal. If you’re a 21 year old incel who can’t get a date. it’s a big deal. Even women who, on average think way less about napkins than our male counterparts, do start to think about it a lot when juggling desire/vs not wanting to get used/an STD.

          I don’t think about water or air at all. Until I go to Bikram yoga. Then’s it’s all I can think about.

        45. Jeremy

          Propofol is awesome. Leaves me feeling happy and disinhibited for a while. I’d use it recreationally if it wasn’t as fatal as your spider. Speaking of, if I had a palm-sized fatally venemous spider hidng in my bedroom I’d move to another country. Like… Canada. Whaddya say, Mrs H, there’s a house for sale on my street? No pool (outdoor pools would be kinda ridiculous in this climate) but excellent yard for building a skating rink. We’re thinking of having a company come and put up a rink this winter. The kids love skating but in small doses, with the ability to come in for hot cocoa with marshmallows whenever they want. There a kind of beauty to the winter. Not the damp dark rainy days of November, but the crisp cold white days, the brightness if the sun on the snow, the beauty of a forest of trees covered in ice, sparkling like a sea of diamonds. Holding someone’s cold hand and feeling it warm in yours. Oh, and best part, no poison spiders.

          For years I complained about the kids walking me up at night. And for the last year or two they almost never have unless sick. But the irony is that I seem to have lost the ability to sleep. Every night I wake up around 3 go to the bathroom, and then lie there for hours. No one waking me up except myself. I remeber what it was like to sleep until the morning, I just can’t seem to do it anymore.

          Anyhow, with regards to the rest of your post, I do understand. It’s how many men feel about all the chores that are so important to women, after all 🙂

        46. jo

          Mrs Happy, THANK YOU. I feel the same way – the over-obsessed sex culture that panders specifically to the (minority) power group you describe has taken over so much of our media, advertising, and even books and jokes and everyday interactions, that we don’t even realise how much we’re steeped in it and made to think it’s normal. Then when we want to push back against it, we’re told we’re wrong…

          When we don’t want to laugh at lewd jokes because they’re not funny (not offensive, just boring and same-old). When we wonder why children’s literature is so magnificent and varied in subject, then we get to adult novels and they are nearly uniformly boring because they almost all revolve around – guess what. When we see ads of women in scanty uncomfortable undies and realise that we’re supposed to want to buy that – never to please ourselves, but men. Despite that women are the main consumers and maybe it would be nice to focus on our comfort and desires for once. When we don’t have decent-sized pockets in any of our clothes because they have to be form-fitting, again, not to please us, but men who gaze at us.

          It’s about time for that power dynamic to become more even. Maybe it will in my lifetime. Then maybe we could see changes in broad media that would reflect a better balance of what PEOPLE (not just men in a certain age range) care about.

        47. Mrs Happy

          Jo, as I too lay awake at 3.30am (?on spidey alert) I really regretted typing about napkins again. And then I realised, hang on, they might annoy people who aren’t into napkins, or are irritated by my metaphor, but I’ve only posted about them twice in the last 4 months or so. Not a high frequency at all when compared to the number of times I’ve read about sex on this blog over 4 months. So then I chuckled a little wickedly.

          Marika, I survived the night. I have so many spooky spider encounters, that if I believed in reincarnation, I’d know I was a spider queen in a past life, the things positively flock to me. Had a big huntsman climbing down my long hair once, only saw it out of the corner of my eye, shudder. And you are right of course; as ScottH wisely noted below, “we are as needy as our unmet needs”. The overarching issue is that people want different amounts and types of sex over time, and the probability of that matching exactly at every stage of any long term relationship is microscopic. Another poster postulated the idea of outsourcing sex and that is an interesting idea, interesting in that modern society is so against what was a bygone ages and logical solution to a common problem.

          And JJ, I’ve a uni friend who moved to Canada, and wrote back to me in amazement that there are 4 distinct seasons. Each actually noticeably different from the other 3! But I need the sun and beaches. Email me a link to the house.

        48. Lynx

          Mrs H: I recently moved and things are still disordered. Stopped by a nearby deli with phenomenal homemade baklava and decided it would make a perfect dinner after a long day. Curled up on the couch to watch GLOW and devour my sticky treat. To my utter horror, realized I had no napkins — it was devastating, because you can’t eat baklava with utensils and I didn’t want to keep jumping up from my comfortable spot to wash my hands after every piece. Sometimes, even a girl really, really needs her napkins.

        49. Jeremy

          BTW, Mrs H, I notice that the nickname has changed. It’s JJ now? What precipitated the change? Not that I ever minded being called boy or lad by you – what with you being so much older than I, and all. Which is why I never minded calling you by the honorific “Mrs.”. In fact, given the difference in our relative age and experience, maybe I should call you Granny Happy? No, doesn’t have the right ring to it. Wait….I’ve got it, it’s PERFECT! What, with your trips to Italy to soak up the art and your broad knowledge of the Italian language…….”Nonna.” Yes, that’s it. Teach me, Nonna Happy, regale me with folksy Italian wisdom – like my favourite, “Vai a farre una bella cacata, ti sentirai meglio.” LOL. Or, more appropriate to our discussions here, “La troppa bonezza finisce nella monnezza.” 🙂

          Did you get rid of that spider yet? I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

        50. Mrs Happy

          Il ragno e libero. Probabilmente sotto il mio letto.

          Not entirely sure about the reasons for the JJ, though could hypothesize at length; it just popped into my head, and suited. It might be from Lucifer.

          I agree I’m sometimes, not always, a step ahead, though not the decades you assume. More like a few years or 14h at the moment isn’t it? And weren’t you sending me a link to the house, or a picture of a bear catching salmon, or a photo of the Casa Loma, or something, via email? I’ve never been good with waiting, this is excruciating. I could offer more and much better spider stories, one with an interesting arachnid psychological bent, in exchange.

        51. Jeremy

          Terrificante. Non sarei in grado di dormire.

          Ok, I needed some help from google translate for that one, though I managed to understand your sentence without it. My Italian is still fairly rudimentary. Gli uomini mangiano la frutta. Io ho i bicchierri, lei ha le bottiglie. Or, to combine some of my favourite Italian words, Le mucche mangiano i fagioli nel ciotola. Not quite ready for my trip yet…

          Regarding the other, I must remain within the eruv. I made a promise to the person who matters most in the world to me. Were I to break it, I would be extraordinary only in my rottenness.

        52. Mrs Happy

          Oh JJ, I didn’t realise the position you were placed in, I misunderstood something written earlier, and thought you needed time to decide, my error. I’m now very sorry I hassled you. In fact I feel wretched. I apologise, and of course, will stop. What a gulf of loss. Sometimes I really hate anxiety.

      5. 2.2.5

        We have family friends where income was prioritized, as Mrs H suggests. Both spouses are medical specialists, working long hours, coming home late each night and working more at home doing paperwork, research, and continuing Ed, constantly traveling to conferences. They employ a small army of nannies, cooks, and chauffeurs to provide their 4 kids with the services they are to busy to provide themselves, but no one provides the kids with love and care. The kids are bright, like their parents, but have attachment issues and neuroticisms galore due to lack of reliable attachment. Their eldest reminds me of myself.

        Each of the spouses makes slightly less than I do, in the upper six figures, but together they make substantially more than I. They live in a house that looks like my house’s big brother. They don’t struggle with paying tuitions or mortgages. But at what cost? Kids growing up without parents, spouses living in parallel and meeting each other only as x approaches infinity?

        There’s always a tradeoff – money comes at the expense of emotional availability. So we each decide which we prefer.

        1. Emily, to

          “There’s always a tradeoff – money comes at the expense of emotional availability. So we each decide which we prefer.”
          It may have nothing to do with the money. It may be that neither parent is emotionally availability, whether they are home more or not. You can interact with people who are physically present but pretty checked out and incapable of showing warmth or support. And when that’s the case, you may as well be sitting in the room by yourself.

        2. Emily, to

          There’s also a big difference between having a conversation with someone who, no matter what you say, brings it back to him/herself and says, “Oh, that happened to me,” and someone who genuinely listens, processes what you are saying and asks questions or says something supportive. The latter is much harder to do (I’m working on it) and takes the ability to not hear people through yourself, but it does make the other person feel genuinely heard.

    3. 2.3

      YAG- I think you just explained the frustration I’ve been having with OLD, feeling like I was a giver and all/most of the women were taking. Now you’ve given me some concepts I can wrap my brain around. I understand there’s some inherent imbalance in the very early stages but I’ll be watching for them to quickly step it up if anything gets off the ground.

      Seems that you found a rare one in your gf, good for you. The tone of your comments in the recent past has really changed from years ago, no doubt attributable to her. She sounds like they type we all should be looking for. Thanks for giving me some things to think about.

      1. 2.3.1
        Yet Another Guy


        You need to look for a woman who does not need your money and who understands that a man’s worth does not lie in his ability to buy her things. While they were attracted to me, I fought dating high-status women when I went online after separating from my ex-wife. I did not do so because I am intimidated by a woman’s success. My ex-wife ended up moving further up the ladder than I did after I moved into academia from product research and development. My dissatisfaction was not linked to her making more money than I earned. It was linked to her not being able to turn off an almost overpowering amount of masculine energy and having a feminist chip on her shoulder. No man wants a woman who is constantly attempting to emasculate him because she is so blinded by her drive to compete with men that he ends up becoming another opponent instead of her partner. My girlfriend out earns my ex-wife by a considerable margin, but she turns it off when she comes home. Deep down inside, she wants to be a fifties wife with traditional gender roles. The woman she admires the most is her paternal grandmother who was born at the beginning of the 20th century. She admires the relationship her grandmother had with her step-grandfather (her grandfather died when her grandmother was in her forties). It was a very loving, traditional relationship, one that she covets. My girlfriend achieved her success because she is very likeable, very smart, does what she says she is going to do, and does not take advantage of trust. It is so much easier to get people to follow you when they trust that you will not get them killed (i.e., do something that will end their careers). So many women believe that they have to out-man men when feminine energy used correctly is so much more powerful.

        In the end, I do not know where the thing we have is going to take us. Neither of us has the desire to remarry, nor do we have a reason to do so. We have considerable wealth between us, so it would never be about financial security. I am just enjoying the ride as long as it lasts.

      2. 2.3.2
        Yet Another Guy


        One last thing, my girlfriend insisted on paying half on our first date. I told her that I appreciated the gesture, but she insisted. I had already given her a “I am interested” kiss, so I thought that I was getting blown off. After all, how many women on this blog have stated that they only insist on splitting the tab with guys in whom they are not interested? I walked her to her car and kissed her again before starting to walk to my car. As she was passing me, she stopped, rolled down the window, and gave me the “come-hither” index finger curl. She wanted another kiss. The moral of the story is that you should not assume that a women is not interested if she insists on splitting the tab, not all women fit into that box!

        1. Malika With an L

          I paid for the bill of the first date with the man i am now talking marriage with! I thought he was absolutely wonderful from the moment i set eyes on him, and was most definitely thinking of other things by the end of the first date than who flashes the credit card for the drinks.

          YAG, I am glad you met someone who has inspired you with so much passion. Marriage doesn’t have to be on the cards for it to be a beautiful relationship. I hope you guys find a path you can both be happy together on.

        2. Marika

          Congratulations Malika!!!!!! You’re going to make an awesome wife 🙂 When’s the big day? I have a feeling you and Clare can compare notes …

          How did you know so quickly he was the man for you?

          (PS I think this paying angst is mostly a northern American thing).

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Congrats Malika. Is Clare getting married too ? Marika said you and Clara can compare notes. If so, congrats to Clare as well.

  3. 3

    The men and women who put their relationships first- are also putting themselves first. You are doing what society and religion expects from you since the beginning of time. And, you are getting love, sex, companionship, support, bill sharing, and social clout to boot. All of these are advantages over being single, which is why most people get married. Also, the big incentive is having kids, procreating your own DNA, and giving your life a structure forever. After 40, most people only celebrate kids and grandkids, it is the society we live in. Hopefully, if all goes well, your children and grandchildren will give you the guarantee of company in your old age. Most people don’t see this as ‘a big sacrifice” but rather ‘the natural thing to do in life”. So, I disagree with his statement “They have made a promise without expecting a return.” Ha! They are getting every thing in return!

    Now, if you are a woman past childbearing age (lots of Evan’s readers), and you are pairing up with divorced dads (the majority of this dating market ), you are truly contributing to another woman’s kids and a family who might never accept you. Blood ties are real and enduring. Stepfamilies are not. Mary T. Kelly, a family therapist for decades wrote: “The feeling of being an “outsider” and wondering if it will ever go away is almost universal for every childless stepmother I’ve worked with.” In her practice, she reached data saturation on comments such as “It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done” and “I’m treated like a second class citizen” and “My opinions don’t matter” . Bio families have legal and blood ties and shared history long before you came on the scene. So, a stepparent will rarely have a solid foundation or unconditional love. Now that is a promise with no return! Not so much for biological families.

    1. 3.1
      Yet Another Guy


      By definition, there are as many divorced moms as there are divorced dads, which means that there are as many men who have never been married as there are women who have never been married. One thing I noticed when I was in the dating pool was that it was very common for peer-age women who have never been married to shun peer-age men who have never been married. Many of these women included men who listed “separated” on their profiles, but not men who listed “never married,” which I think is crazy. I personally did not include “never married” on my profile because I believe everyone who has never been married has a right to be someone’s first when it comes to marriage. Another thing that is more common today than it has ever been are single moms who have never been married. We are not just talking about “uh-oh” babies. I encountered quite a few women who had chosen to conceive via artificial insemination in their late thirties and forties.

      1. 3.1.1

        Yag- the older women online dating know that the ‘never married’ men in their age group are (delusional or not) looking at younger childfree women, either to have babies or the ego boost. The women who chose to be moms via artificial insemination are getting at least some their family needs met, not the original dream. They found unsuitable bachelors, who wouldn’t be great dads, so they went for it as a single parent. This will prevent loneliness in old age. They didn’t want the empty house and full bank account and passport.

        1. Emily, to

          ‘They found unsuitable bachelors, who wouldn’t be great dads, so they went for it as a single parent. This will prevent loneliness in old age.’
          Children don’t necessarily prevent loneliness in old age. I’ve had 3 older female friends and only one of them was close with her grown children. I mean close as in they contacted her often and were taking care of her when she got really sick.

        2. Lynx

          Emily: Slip of the thumbs, it was Lurking who made the “prevent loneliness in old age comment”, not me. I agree with you that kids are no guarantee of companionship in old age — elder caregiving wouldn’t be such a prolific industry in the US if that were the case.

        3. Marika

          Slip of the thumbs hahaha! Love ya Lynx 😉

        4. Emily, to

          Emily: Slip of the thumbs, it was Lurking who made the “prevent loneliness in old age comment”, not me.
          Oh, no. Not another Marika/Malika situation! So confusing! 🙂
          “I agree with you that kids are no guarantee of companionship in old age ”
          I don’t really think the motivation to have children should be so you can have companionship. Children are supposed to grow up and have their own lives, and there are many people who don’t “click” with their parents and wouldn’t have a relationship with them if it weren’t for the blood ties. Ideally, you get along really well and enjoy each other as people but it’s not guaranteed.

      2. 3.1.2


        I’ve read a lot of about that strange phenomenon of 40s+ men being shunned for never being married. That they are avoided by woman because they are perceived to be man children who never grew up. I suppose there could be some truth in that.

        1. Marika

          Personally, ezamuzed, it’s not their age and marital status that are necessarily deal breakers. As someone else touched on, it depends how they see their future. Eg some men online, IME 40+ will say they want kids ‘someday’. So who should they be likely trying to date? Women much younger. I went on a date with one such man. He seemed nice enough, but was over 40 and talked about *when* he has kids etc.. He was also:
          Studying full time
          Lving rent free in his parent’s old house
          And thinking about doing a PhD

          His plans for kids are clearly well into the future, or else he just doesn’t get it. He asked me out on a second date, but I didn’t see the point. He needs to either be dating women 10+ years younger or change his outlook.

          Similar thing with the last guy I properly dated. It was hard to pull away because he was so much fun and we got on so well. But was over 40, no savings, no relationship longer than a couple of years, wanting to travel, and still talking marriage and kids…someday.

          All of that is fine and it may well work out for them, but it just doesn’t make sense for a woman anywhere near their age to date them. I’ll still engage with them and see what happens (maybe they ticked the wrong box or filled out their preferences years ago and just never updated then), but I can understand why some women would decide not to bother.

        2. Gallilee

          People say a lot of things online, in forums and comment sections etc. And they say a lot of words about these many things. Much of it is, how best to phrase this, stuff that they’re being induced to give an opinion upon, wherein usually they wouldn’t give a second thought. Its sometimes difficult to delineate the wheat from the chaff, in other words to define which part is the person’s real genuine thought and which part is the person’s contribution to some sort of discourse that really only exists in its own little world. To sum up, if you’re an unmarried guy with no baggage you are, in almost every conceivable scenario, in a more propitious situation that if you were in every way the same but with a divorce behind you. Try to visualise this stuff in reality, can you imagine a scenario in which a man finds himself rueing his lack of an ex wife, or a woman commiserating being her husband’s first and not second wife?

        3. ezamuzed


          What I meant and I think YAG meant too is that these men are categorized as not being good relationship material so many woman won’t even consider meeting them. You clearly met a few of them and gave them a try so you are not one of the woman who just categorically excludes them.

        4. Emily, to

          “Try to visualise this stuff in reality, can you imagine a scenario in which a man finds himself ruing his lack of an ex wife, or a woman commiserating being her husband’s first and not second wife?
          Well, there are posters on here who are obsessed with “being there first” or “getting in there with the same or less effort expended/time spent as other men.” Yes, I’m referring to sex, but the topic is an umbrella idea for being the first. But, of course, it doesn’t matter who was first, only who did it best, and if a man does it well — whether it’s sex or being a good relationship partner — he’ll make a woman completely forget his predecessors.

        5. Yet Another Guy


          I have two childhood friends who have never been married. They both told me that I would not have a problem meeting women because I had been married. I thought that that point of view was odd until I went online and started to read profiles. Quite a few separated women exhibit a similar kind of weirdness in that they are not open to dating separated men. To me, that is stranger than “never married” women not being open to dating “never married” men.

        6. Marika

          Yes, I know, ez, and thank you, but what I meant is to some extent I understand the bias because there’s at least some truth to it.

          I think many/most people want, or just assume they’ll get married and have kids. Women’s biological clock ticks loudly, men’s less so. It’s not *that* unusual (readers of this blog aside) for a never married, no-kids man to think he has forever to have them, or to have not really thought it through/made a plan.

          IME, people love to simplify things – even things as complex as human relationships. So they think: never married man = Peter Pan with no clue.

          Which is far too simple and not fair, of course.

        7. Stephanie

          A separated woman knows (or thinks she does) if SHE is still “involved” with her soon-to-be ex. She can’t be sure about any separated guy she might meet online.

          Of course you can’t be sure about anyone you meet online, but it’s a lot more likely to be an issue for a separated person.

        8. Emily, to

          “A separated woman knows (or thinks she does) if SHE is still “involved” with her soon-to-be ex.”
          This is just a general question for the people who have done online dating. Rather than being worried someone is actually involved with his ex, would you be worried he wasn’t over her? Or was in love with someone else and using online dating to forget the person? Of course, you have no way of knowing that ahead of time and no way to filter for that, but I’m wondering how many people attempt to date when they are still hung up on someone else.

        9. Marika

          Hey Em

          I’m glad you ask…maybe you’re going to venture into that world with me? Be my online- dating- soul- sista across the Pacific? 😉 Share our war stories and DPs. Hehe

          Anyway, while you can’t screen before meeting them, there are massive clues after meeting them. Some are so unsubtle they bring it up immediately – talk about the ex all through the first date. Other signs are that they seem distracted, forget stuff you said or aren’t really listening when you talk, keep talking about a particular ‘friend’ they are having over or helping out. Weirdly, I’ve noticed if guys (/people?) are talking about their guy friend and have nothing to hide they’ll use his name and mention it in passing. If it’s a woman they’ll say ‘my friend’ and get all cagey about her.

          If things generally seem *off*, like one second they seem really keen, then they’re suddenly busy, cancel more than one date at the last minute and don’t seem very sorry, things like that. Or they seem really bitter about the opposite gender. Or say things like oh X used to do/say/eat blah..comparing your behaviour to theirs.

          There are definitely people online who aren’t ready to be dating. Many, many of them. But to be fair, I don’t think they realize.

        10. SparklingEmerald

          Ezamuzed said”I’ve read a lot of about that strange phenomenon of 40s+ men being shunned for never being married.”

          When I was unexpectedly left single in my 50’s and decided to date again, I concluded that there really was no good “past relationship” history. “Never married” means s/he never made the commitment, “Divorced” means s/he didn’t keep the commitment and “Widowed” means you will be competing with a ghost.

          Since I foolishly went into OLD when my relationship status was “separated” I figured I had no room to judge anyone else’s relationship status (except for married, looking for a side piece).

          So I judge whoever I met on their basic deportment, character, how much fun we had, etc.

          Funny, one man I met who wasn’t a match, but we did have a sporadic, strictly platonic friendship. He was never married, but he had lived with someone for 20 years. When I met him online his status was “never married”, a few years later (when I was still in OLD) I noticed he changed his status to “Divorced”. I never asked him about it, but I figured his “never married” must have been a stigma, and maybe he considered living with the same woman for 20 years to be a marriage of sorts.

          When I could honestly change my status from “separated” to “divorce” I got much better results. When I re-wrote my boring profile using tips from EMK’s book about OLD, I got even better results.

        11. Emily, to

          “I’m glad you ask…maybe you’re going to venture into that world with me? Be my online- dating- soul- sista across the Pacific? Share our war stories and DPs. Hehe”
          I’ll think about it. I am making a concerted effort to be more social. But to give you an idea of the … um … man shortage in the meetups … I’m about to go to the group I’m running this afternoon. 15 people have signed up. 12 of them are women. Where are the men over 30 and under 85? I really do think the earth opens up and swallows them whole. 🙂

        12. Yet Another Guy


          “A separated woman knows (or thinks she does) if SHE is still “involved” with her soon-to-be ex. She can’t be sure about any separated guy she might meet online.”

          The same can be said if the gender roles are reversed. Plus, there are divorced people who end up remarrying their ex a year or two after their divorce is settled. There is no guarantee in love.

          I was online when I was separated. I ended up meeting a significant number women during my separation (the keyword here is “meeting,” not having sex with). I can assure you that being a separated man online is the relationship equivalent of having leprosy for most men, but for some reason, I was able to meet at least one woman a week when I was actively looking. That is why I learned so much about demographics. I could not figure out why being separated was not the kiss of death for me. I had to know why. It is definitely where a man falls within male population that determines if a woman will take a chance on him while he is still separated. Taller, better educated, more fit, and more attractive than average pretty much erases the separated stigma for men with all but the most hardcore separated man haters online. There are still women who will not date separated men regardless of what they have to offer, but their numbers are much smaller than one would be lead to believe by how many women exclude separated men on their profiles.

  4. 4

    Very profound. Thank you for posting this.

  5. 5

    I always thought my marriage would last until I die but it didn’t I am sure there are many divorced out there who thought they had the “till death do us part ” no one knows what the future holds. Joy and the transcendence of self is a possibility for everyone regardless of relationship status .

    1. 5.1

      So true, life can have all manner of twists and turns. I too never thought I’d be single until I was widowed as we womyn generally outlive men. Never thought I’d live out west, have my life threatened due to my work, or have to support my dad. You can only hope for the best and have the strength to face the worst.

  6. 6

    David Brooks via EMK wrote: “If the first mountain is about building up the ego and defining the self, the second is about shedding the ego and dissolving the self.”

    Some of us — primarily women who prioritized motherhood over career — skirted the base of the first mountain to head straight for the second, where we tried to scrabble up it as best we could, and kept wondering why we couldn’t ascend to the top. Since we never climbed that first mountain, we never really defined ourselves….never truly understood our own value or became confident in our own efficacy, and so were more likely to make a poor choice in a mate. If you don’t know yourself, how can you possibly find your complement?

    1. 6.1

      What does it mean to know yourself? If the self, the personality, is defined as a combination of predisposition and disposition – of pre-programming and experience – then the “self” is not a static thing. Which is why I always smile at Idealist-types who talk about being one’s “authentic self,” as though that had any meaning. Don’t talk to me about who you are, talk to me about who you want to BE.

      Our experiences partially define our personality, but our meta-emotions about our personality – how we feel about how we feel – define whether we’re HAPPY with whom we’ve become. The woman who delayed marriage and children and became a neurosurgeon – she becomes a workaholic, her experiences define her to some extent…..but is she happy with who she’s become? Does she long for something else? Doesn’t depend on who she “is,” depends on how she feels about who she is.
      Would she have been happier doing something else? She’ll never know. It was the road not taken. Same thing with the woman who declined the corporate job to marry and become a mom.

      Our baseline happiness sets our daily mood – our experiences spike or drop it, but mood tends to return to baseline. Our baseline is largely geneitc – can be augmented, but not radically changed. Such is the happiness of the present, experiencing self. Whereas the happiness of our remembering self, the self that narrates our life story, is largely defined as the intersection of our expectations and our experiences. If our experiences meet our expectations, we tend to be happier about our lives in retrospect, if not in the moment. So what did we expect? What did we experience?

      I sometimes like to watch my fish, as you know. One of my favorite things to watch in my aquarium is the interaction between a Watchman goby fish and a Pistol shrimp. The shrimp is almost completely blind – can barely see a few millimeters in front of itself – but is blessed with strength and almost tireless energy for digging. The goby fish has excellent vision and almost unlimited patience, but not much strength nor ability to dig. These 2 characters form a symbiotic relationship that has evolved over millions of years – the shrimp digs a network of burrows and lives inside of them with the goby. The goby stands watch outside of the burrow, watching for danger and catching food to share with the shrimp in exchange for the shelter. It’s absolutely amazing to watch these 2 characters together, how they live together happily in spite of the fact that the shrimp could eat the goby anytime it wanted inside the burrow, and the goby could eat all the food without sharing and the shrimp would be none the wiser – but neither ever does this. Symbiosis – literally, the condition of living together – is it necessary for the goby and the shrimp to travel the world and learn who they are before living together? Or is it just necessary that they expect to be doing what they do, and to kind of like it?

      1. 6.1.1

        Jeremy: I am going to revise my last sentence so it more accurately reflects my thoughts. “If you don’t value yourself, how can you possibly expect to find a mate who will value you?” When my husband criticized me — which he frequently did — if I’d have known and valued my own strengths, I could have listened with equanimity. I could have acknowledged the valid comments and brushed off the invalid. Instead, every insult caused a bleeding wound.

        It’s only been in the years away from him, as I’ve returned to the first mountain and practiced my skills and become confident in my capabilities, that I can look dispassionately on his criticisms and think, “Yeah, I do have a tendency to procrastinate,” or “Nope, there was no way I could have taken the higher-paying job with the 2-hour commute and simultaneously been a mom with a spouse who traveled two weeks of every month.” Not that we wouldn’t have fought about those things, anyway, but I wouldn’t have tortured myself…I wouldn’t have had the simmering resentment that contributed to the breakdown of our marriage.

        Pistol shrimp — don’t they make the loudest sound on the planet? Hopefully the goby have abysmal hearing to go along with that excellent vision.

        1. Gallilee

          ‘If you don’t value yourself, how can you possibly expect you find a mate who will value you?’

          It’s just a nonsensical question, at for some of us. A person’s self value doesn’t pertain in any significant way to how i value them. In fact many of the most impressive people I’ve ever known have been very self deprecating in terms of their sense of humour, and realistic in their view of themselves.

        2. Emily, to

          “A person’s self value doesn’t pertain in any significant way to how i value them.”
          It’s important to many women. Women value men who value themselves, who will walk if the woman isn’t treating them well.

        3. Jeremy

          Yes, the pistol shrimp is the loudest animal in the ocean for its size – makes a snapping sound like a gunshot with its claw. Lol, it would certainly help if the goby was hard of hearing – otherwise the noise might drive it bonkers in spite of the fact that it keeps them both safe by driving off predators. There are metaphors for life everywhere, aren’t there? And humor.

        4. Lynx

          Ah, Galilee, my friend, you’ve confused ‘value’ with ‘arrogance’. One can know and value their strengths without being a dick.

        5. jo

          Lynx, I admire you for focusing on how to make yourself better under hard circumstances. At the same time, though, you write about your ex insulting you: ‘every insult caused a bleeding wound’. It’s one thing to criticise, another to insult – and the latter falls under verbal abuse. IMO, there is no reason for someone to deal with insults with equanimity. Verbal abuse doesn’t deserve that; it deserves strong rebuke and self-defense. Another way to think of it: could your ‘simmering resentment’ have in some small way saved you, from being in the constant presence of insults? I wonder if resentment is a way of telling us that something is wrong.

        6. Lynx

          Jo: Yes, he is verbally abusive and everyone who knows our story understands he is an extremely difficult person to be partnered with (friends once dubbed me, “Saint Lynx”). But it’s been important to me to understand my role in the failure of our marriage, otherwise I’ll just repeat the same mistakes. It’s why I keep reading this blog, to gain insight.

    2. 6.2

      Lynx, you raise an interesting gender difference in this topic. While the youngest generation of women today was/is encouraged to ‘build up the ego and define the self’, women above a certain age were largely reared to serve everyone else’s needs and expectations first, and to strive for marriage as an absolute good (men were less pressured to get married fast). In part, it was because of an expectation of having children before the biological clock ran out – but it held women back in so many ways.

      I am not sure how to resolve this: the simultaneous need to ‘know yourself’ before finding that right person to build a strong relationship, vs. the biological clock (a real concern for many and a social pressure for all) – unless modern medicine can step in and find a way to increase fertility ages for both women and men.

      1. 6.2.1
        Emily, to

        “I am not sure how to resolve this: the simultaneous need to ‘know yourself’ before finding that right person to build a strong relationship, vs. the biological clock (a real concern for many and a social pressure for all)”
        This is a real problem for a lot of modern women. By the time you figure out who you are and what you want and you’ve worked on your career, you’re into your 30s and not only has the pool of available men really shrunk but your window to have children is narrowing. What we need to do is decide, as a society, to chuck the societal pressure and push the average marrying age to maybe 35, with the “serious courting years” to be from 30 to 35. If you marry at 28, you’ve probably started dating your partner at 25 or 26 (or maybe even earlier), and that’s a tricky age for a lot of people to make a lifelong decision.

        1. jo

          Emily, I don’t know what the average age of marriage is right now in western countries, but like your idea. The only possible problem I see is that married couples might want a few years by themselves first, before having children – so getting married at 35 means that they might not think about having children until later in the 30s or 40s. Then not only might there be fertility issues, but the risk of Down syndrome increases. That is why I questioned whether medicine could do anything to delay or decrease these issues. Because, from a maturity standpoint, it does make sense to wait longer before getting married – but that may also mean more difficulty with having children.

          Maybe that also should matter less: the biological imperative to have children given the world’s big population, and also making adoption an easier process for those who really want to raise children.

        2. Emily, to

          “The only possible problem I see is that married couples might want a few years by themselves first, before having children – so getting married at 35 means that they might not think about having children until later in the 30s or 40s. Then not only might there be fertility issues, but the risk of Down syndrome increases.”
          I hadn’t thought of that. I forgot how shortchanged women were in the fertility process.

    3. 6.3

      Another thought linked to the above: modern medicine has already helped, insofar as IVF and egg/sperm banks have increased the age range in which people can have their own biological children. But these technologies are expensive, so what I meant is a reasonably inexpensive medical technology that could increase fertility ages for everyone who wants it. Otherwise, we could see an income disparity – the poor feel more pressure to get married and/or have babies earlier, because they know they can’t afford IVF. That, in turn, could lead to even bigger income disparities (the financial struggle of raising children when not rich oneself).

  7. 7
    Mrs Happy

    It certainly increases happiness to have meaningful connections with others, but I don’t think marriage is ideal or attainable for everyone. There are relationships other than marriage, and those relationships are important too. Many (?most) people will die unmarried.

  8. 8

    Lynx and others put it well:
    Women in my age group were kicked straight to mountain #2 practically from birth. This is especially true if you had the misfortune to be born into a highly dysfunctional family where you had to grow up, take adult responsibility on very early. There is no going back from that. I stayed on mountain 2 as a community activist, as a wife, as an educator, as a research scientist. After my dad passed and I paid off his debts, I’ve made forays into the foothills of mountain #1. Indulged my penchant for carbon framed bikes, awesome art, fine wine, but that feeling that I should be frugal never really went away. Community is great as are rships provided you can find both that are compatible with your values. I can tell you from hard experience, trying to do good in a community or family whose values are not yours can be a whole new definition of hell. Like trying to shove that boulder up a 14k peak. No matter how hard you try, it is never enough. Btw folks, my house is under contract, please pray xtra hard to the real estate gods, eh?
    Trying to date someone most think you should settle for but is wrong for you is another definition of hell. Yep, I understand there are lots of more redneck, lower SMV, lower educated, not healthy guys out there but if you’re not at all compatible with such it’s a moot point. I think that is why, despite my moving from an awesome home in the mountains to a run down farm in the woods is such a relief; anything I do there is forward progress. While I had a great marriage and miss it to this day, I also see that finding someone who will appreciate a nearly 60, outdoor, TV hating, environmentalist, Brown old chick is likely not going to happen again. And I’m sort of ok with that. A huge lesson I learned from my damaged family and from trying to date what was available was that one can be extremely lonely when not alone. I will continue to educate, teach by example. Sadly, my lessons are those most do not care to learn; staying active and healthy, living very lightly on the planet, eschewing most consumerism and what passes as popular culture. These are my values and I am going to focus on being true to myself.
    YAG and others commented on why we womyn tend to avoid the never married men; simply because most older never married men are that way for a reason. Marika gave an excellent description of one of these; from regretful dating experience, these dudes exist in their 60’s and 70’s as well. Like many women actively dating, I’ve been both cyber and in person stalked; all but one (divorced chronic alcoholic) were never marrieds. Nearly every never married male I’ve met online and IRL had serious red flags. Some folk have problems well beyond rships. I assume there is a female counterpart to this too. Yep, we should not tar all never marrieds with the same brush but understand why we womyn may be a tad hesitant.

    1. 8.1

      Noquay- Gonna have to agree with you on the “some people have problems well beyond rships” and “should not tar all never marrieds”. Also agree there are fewer solid, accomplished, athletic and cultured males per females as we age.

      I had a tough upbringing too- also on blogs about toxic families and toxic narcissists etc. Chronic, early financial, physical and phycological stress has adverse affects on kids development in every contingent- but especially in the interpersonal and trust realms, obviously. So, finding love is a lighter blogging topic indeed. The advice givers usually grew up in a supportive and advantageous environments and are in a better position to thrive and pave through the traditional life course.

      I am different from you I can tell you right now from reading your posts. But, as a never married, I can tell you I left home at seventeen, never to return, (unheard of nowadays) and paid for two University degrees with no help from parents, husband, government, food stamps, or military. I paid the loans back in full, on time (also rare). I bought into all those slogans from the 80s- “be all that you can be!” so I am also hard working and frugal. I was a city girl, where competition is tough in all markets, academic, jobs, dating. One hundred percent from my own labors, for three decades. Like you, no help. So, as for that second mountain of contribution Brooks speaks of…I paid atrocious rents and taxes- huge chunks given to other people- who don’t work. Even with great jobs/big companies, constant threats of ‘re-organizations” to test and perform at this level or you’re out. I could never afford to have a baby on my own, no support, no daycare. I was bewildered to see how many less educated, non-working people could afford kids & newer cars than me, the newest iphone, until I realized the two-job having tax payer (me) absorbs their free healthcare, food cards, etc. No wonder. My tax accountant finally pointed this out to me… in my forties! He circled the thousands of dollars I paid to government and giggled. I told him “that’s what every one does from age 18 to 65.’ He said “not every one” I explained I had to work 2 jobs to pay all of my expenses, plus loans in full. He (a Latino male, btw) assured me that I was the first of many woman all week-that paid that much with no refund or freebies. He asked why I didn’t learn to work the system like every body else- either have a baby (tax break & big refunds) or quit one of my jobs. He went into a litany of ways that the more women than not (my age group) get tax breaks/freebies for decades. He told me no sense in grinding myself into a frenzied powder (as a critical care Rn, 12 to 14 hr shifts)- to pay for every body else’s American Dream- that I can’t afford. I took his advice a year later depleted yet debt free & moved off the grid.

      Back to attraction, and family. You would like to look up to a guy, and ideally, he should have some accomplished tough luck, war stories himself- as much or more than you? There are many soft, average run of the mill experience people, and they pair up nicely together and get married and have a good life. I don’t know much about Brooks- a cursory google tells me he is very successful. His father was a PhD, who taught at NYU, his mom went to Columbia, so not really from an impoverished background. Here he is talking about what every body else does- having a family. Honestly, I’m really not super inspired by them, nor do I crave “what they have” as they have it. The good catches that came from a traumatized background and still accomplished a lot against the odds? Thats not a lot of guys nowadays. Not a lot of girls, either actually. I’m not sure where this gets us, I’m merely pointing it out.

      1. 8.1.1

        Basically, I am wondering if I would have had easier ride, better results just defaulting to having babies young out of wedlock getting assistance. You don’t want to feel punished or hard done by, by doing the right thing. I want a guy that gets this.

      2. 8.1.2

        We may be more alike in many ways. My first career was in nursing and I taught all the pre-nursing stuff at my last institution. May work hospice in my retirement when I get my home livable. I’m not looking for someone traumatized, my husband, who I truly admired and respected, came from a low income, yet very supportive, caring, family. Like me, he was “only generation” educated. Traumatized couples often come together in a trauma bond; not healthy. Also, not all traumatized folk do the work to heal; my bros and a short rship with a shooting survivor were sad examples of this. I made the wise choice to forgo family at a young age because 1. I couldn’t afford it either and 2, nurturing is a learned behavior, one I never had as a kid. I was parent to my middle bro for years and while I wasn’t as loving or understanding as I should have been, I was there, I taught him, discovered and encouraged his considerable intellect, things neither biological parent did. I married somewhat later, at 32. My husband was quite a bit older but as I grew up hypermature, it worked out well. Im looking for the older, health conscious academic or
        professional that is sick of the rat race. Also like you, my work ethic means I have zero tolerance for deadbeat/pothead-druggie/ski bum guys.
        As for folk on public assistance, every woman in this nation who goes right into having children without first developing skills and savings to fall back on is one breakup, abandonment, or widowhood away from welfare. I said this to my female students all the time.

  9. 9

    Mrs Happy, re the discussion above : It’s not about constantly needing adulation and reassurance. It’s about realizing that functional romantic relationships involve assuming some level of responsibility for our partner’s emotional state. Else, what exactly are they FOR?
    You recently commented that you don’t stay in relationships out of anxiety, but rather out of love and care. I believe you. But you didn’t specify one really important thing…. Love and care of WHOM? If I’m only responsible for me and your only responsible for you, whom are we loving and what does that even mean?

    A woman who is married to a man she loves does the things he likes, does them often. If she notices that he smiles and whistles when she cooks dinner, she cooks dinner often to see him smile and whistle. Because making him happy make her happy. But if what she primarily loves is her children and lifestyle, she’ll not be terribly interested in cooking for him, and may eventually become contemptuous of his smiling and whistling, because the f***er needs to learn not to be a Neanderthal, that what he should want and value about you is what you value in yourself, and it ain’t cooking.

    It doesn’t make him a Neanderthal to value you for things that you don’t see as your primary value (as long as he also appreciates those other things too). . It doesn’t make him a child to prefer a spouse that makes him happy over one who earns loads of money. How many times have I written that the way to be a good husband is for the man to help his wife with the 90% of her priorities that don’t involve him, but the way to be a good wife is to focus on your husband more than the 10% you’re inclined to do? His pie chart ain’t the same as yours, no matter what he’s told you. It’s not that woman can’t understand this – they ALWAYS understand this as girlfriends. It’s that they teach a point that they no longer want to do it, because they want to prioritize others. This is neither healthy nor unavoidable as you suggest, no matter how busy one is. Ask me how I know.

    1. 9.1

      Jeremy, two questions: what do you see as those 90% of priorities that a wife has that don’t involve the husband, and who are the ‘others’ that the wives prioritise?

      If the ‘others’ are their children, then it makes sense that both the wives and husbands should prioritise them (after all, they are responsible for bringing the children into this world). Unfortunately those children have many complicated needs that necessarily take time away from (ideally both) parents that could otherwise have gone toward supporting each other. People only have limited levels of energy and attention. It’s not optimal, but the pie chart often shifts substantially after marriage: the modern western setup of families with children and growing careers.

      As for how women act as girlfriends vs. wives – too often, I have seen women mostly wanting to get married so that she can have children, and then losing care for the man after she fulfills her primary goal. That is such an unfair way to treat men. Though I’ve seen it a number of times, hopefully that is nowhere close to the norm. Maybe it has to do with society’s expectations? We are long overdue to change them, to make it less of an imperative and pressure for women to be mothers.

      I don’t know. You bring up an interesting topic. Maybe there is too much pressure on one marital unit these days to do everything and be everything for each other, kids, and the world. But how they could do it any differently without overextending is unclear.

      1. 9.1.1
        Yet Another Guy


        You have no idea as to how many incidents of male infidelity can be traced to a woman shifting the primary relationship from being between her and her husband to her and her children after they arrive (that is why Evan insists on keeping the primarily relationship in the house between himself and his wife). Before children arrive, the man in a woman’s life is her major source oxytocin release (oxytocin release is much stronger and longer lasting in women than in men after orgasm, which is why women are more likely to attach to men after sex than vice versa). However, mother nature has a trick up her sleeve. The mother-child bond is also a huge source of oxytocin release that exists to ensure that a mother cares for her child. It can cause a woman to fall in love with her child to the extent where she forgets her husband. That is when men start to become resentful. They feel like their wives are asking them to do the 90% thing while they use every excuse in the book in order to avoid doing more than the 10% thing. My children are my priority is code for “my child or children has/have replaced my husband as my source of oxytocin release.” The sad thing is that most women who fall victim to the oxytocin trap are completely oblivious to it. They think that the men in their lives are the source of the problem when it is the woman who has made the man feel like an outsider whose only reasons to exist are to bring home a paycheck and do what his wife demands. That is primarily why the “if he only did more around the house and with the children, I would have more energy for sex” is little more than BS. Her oxytocin needs are being met by her children; therefore, she no longer needs sex from her husband in order to feel bonded. Women mistakenly believe that a man will receive the same release from being close to his children, but that is not remotely true. Mother nature has not endowed us with that gift. We want to safeguard our children from harm and provide for them, but they in no way replace the need to obtain oxytocin release via orgasm with our wives in order to feel bonded.

        1. Jeremy

          There’s a strange thing I’ve noticed in myself over the years, and I don’t think it’s limited to me. It’s embarrassing to talk about, because it contradicts what I’d like to think about myself, but here it is : when I’ve had sex with my wife in the recent past and she later makes a request of me, I tend to be well-disposed toward fulfilling that request. “Oh, my beloved wife is asking me to take out the garbage, of course I’m happy to do it.” But when it’s been a while since sex has happened and such requests are made of me, my intuitive response is indignation. “Who the hell is this person, this parasite, who keeps nattering me to do shit I have no interest in? You want something done, do it yourself!” Now, thankfully I have the self control not to actually say this out loud, but it’s how I feel. It’s that damned oxytocin. The feeling bonded versus not. It’s a big freaking deal. And after having observed this in myself, I wondered how long it takes for my attitude to change from the one to the other – how many days without sex does it take to go from bonded to not. In my case, 3 days. I’m sure others differ.

          There was a study that came out years ago that found that the best predictor for marital happiness of both spouses was the man’s satisfaction with their sex life. And the experimenters wondered why that should be, why the wife’s satisfaction with her sex life didn’t better predict her own marital satisfaction. They concluded that it was because women want so many things from marriage and relationships that no single thing predicted their overall satisfaction. But for men, if they were happy enough sexually, they were more willing to happily fulfill all the other wants of their wives, thereby resulting in happier wives overall.

          Obviously not true in every case (and particularly with men who don’t bond after sex, who don’t have this oxytocin response), but true iof those who make good husbands.

        2. jo

          YAG, are your statements about oxytocin proven by scientific research? I’ve heard about oxytocin being released when breastfeeding, but mothers don’t breastfeed forever. It is also released when cuddling, but that is evidently true of both sexes and not just of women. So I’m not sure the oxytocin differences between sexes are as large as you indicate.

          But you bring up an interesting point that I wish we could discuss more without being criticised (not on this blog, but by society in general). What is so wrong with the occasional stray if men (or women) are not getting their needs met in the primary relationship? Supposedly in France, this happens regularly, and people find a way to deal with it. Obviously everyone should be careful with protection against STDs, but if some spouses cannot and don’t want to meet that particular need, what is wrong with seeking it outside after a careful discussion with the spouse?

          I feel as though in many western countries, we think we should feel outraged about this idea, so we rarely discuss it or ask ourselves if we are genuinely outraged. But think about how many other familial things are outsourced nowadays that in some circles or times is/was considered shameful, such as cooking, cleaning, or taking care of babies. How much needless shame is attached to having that job be done by someone else. Not equating a ‘stray’ with these, not at all – but can we ask here, too, if society is attaching too much shame if in other societies, it is not? Now here, I feel the need to say, I have NOT strayed in any relationship ever in the past. But I wonder why we couldn’t talk about it more openly.

        3. Jeremy

          Sorry for the second post, but to clarify why I wrote the above: Once I realized how I felt when not oxytocin-bonded, I could better understand how so many women feel. All the mommy-blogs I’d read where women described how they suddenly hated and resented their husbands, how they saw their once beloved husbands as parasites, need-monsters, who were constantly on them to paw them, take from them, demand more from their already exhausted selves. They no longer felt bonded to these men, in the exact same way I no longer felt bonded once the oxytocin had dissipated. Beloved husband becomes parasite. “Of course you can touch me” becomes “Who the hell do you think you are?”

          And so when these women tell their husbands, “maybe if you did more I might be more interested in sex,” they have it exactly backwards! Maybe if you were more interested in sex, your husband would be happier to do more for you. Maybe if you had more sex (sex you enjoyed), YOU might feel more bonded to HIM. Putting the chores before the sex is putting the cart before the horse. Because it’s the bond that’s the motivation, and without the motivation the actions will either be empty or non-existent.

    2. 9.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear Jeremy: you asked “..Love and care of WHOM?”
      To answer:

      I stay in relationships out of a combination of love, enjoyment and connection, and (much less for me personally) duty.

      So – I cannot stand my mother, but I am her only daughter, and do my duty by her. Very very minimally. Similarly, for my family of origin – don’t have much of a connection with them, so a little love for some of them, and some duty. I don’t see or communicate with any of these people more than a few times a year, the interactions are invariably quite negative or abusive for me, so I try to avoid these sorts of relationships. It would be foolish of me to allow myself to be treated badly by these people for all my life, they had me until teenage years and did enough damage, so they are largely on the outer.

      The people who actually matter in my life, my husband, children, in laws, close friends; I maintain active, involved, loving, caring, effortful relationships with these people, because I love or care for them, it is nice to interact with them, and they are important to me. This is so obvious to me I can’t understand why I have to write it. Maybe I’m like Jeanne Robertson’s husband Left Brain and can’t abide stating the obvious, so haven’t written it here?

      Months ago a rare poster to this blog was describing how she showed her wonderful love for her husband, and she typed all these things she did/does, and how that was her contribution to the marriage. Honestly I read that list and thought – “is that it? I do all that for my husband before half the day is out, and that’s all she is doing, and she thinks she is doing a lot, and she goes on about how much she is showing him love and care and attention, and all these other people are posting a few things they do and thinking how great a partner they are, while here I am doing much more overall, but also saying, hey, there are actually some things he can do for himself, like maintain his own mood, and put meat in the fridge before E.coli takes complete hold of the dish I just shopped for, planned and then cooked for a few hours”. I didn’t type it (until now, when my care for my husband is being questioned by people across the planet who have never seen us together) because I generally try not to come across as judgemental as I actually am.

      Respectfully Jeremy, unless you observe me with my husband, how did you even arrive at the “the way to be a good wife is to focus on your husband more than the 10% you’re inclined to do”?

      I do not sit here trying to “be a good wife”. I JUST AM WHO I AM, and that person, with her amount of love and attention and care and affection and prioritisation, her personality and mind, her temperament and nature, kindness to people she cares for and animals, and the stuff men apparently quite like such as her sexual ability and prettiness and big breasts, was a good match for my husband, the whole package was in balance the way he liked it, so he chose to marry me. Neither he nor I have any desire to be in a daily interaction that requires we have to act in a false, ‘oh I better do this or s/he won’t be happy or do x/y/z for me’ way that is contrary to our at-rest state of being. E.g. if I want to cook a meal, I do so. If I don’t, he does, or we go out, or order take away, or eat vegemite toast for dinner. And it’s all good. If my husband wanted a woman who focused everything on him, someone who had few other connections or interests, he’d have married one, but he didn’t, because he found such girlfriends smothering and boring, and he has an active social life, lots of friends and interests, and I’m accommodating and cool with all that, and I too have a life and interests outside just him.

      It’s all alright, because we just are who we are, and we are comfortable with one another, and we married the person we were getting. He doesn’t sit there making huge efforts to “be a good husband”. He just is a good person. That’s why I said yes to him. And vice versa.

      1. 9.2.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Mrs. Happy – you make “being a thoughtful partner” sound like such a chore. Most people approach relationships as you do. When I ask clients what makes them a good girlfriend, they usually sit in silence before stammering out some sort of half-hearted joke. But that makes the point: if you don’t know what makes you a good partner, you may not be a particularly good partner. It’s not enough to just “be.” You SHOULD try to please your partner and go the extra mile. And women should not settle for any less from men, as opposed to marrying a guy who is tall, cute, and successful…but mediocre in making you feel safe, heard and understood.

        1. jo

          Evan, I could have read it wrong, but my impression was the exact opposite: that Mrs Happy was writing above that it isn’t a chore at all to be a thoughtful partner – at least, for her and her husband. That’s why she was so surprised at past commenters claiming that certain actions were thoughtful: it’s the stuff she does naturally, and then more.

          I wonder if it is simply that some people are naturally more unselfish, so do for others naturally. But those who are more selfishly inclined need to learn more about how to give, especially as their partners wish. The more selfishly inclined people could definitely benefit by using your services and reading your advice.

          (Mrs Happy, vegemite toast for dinner? Hmm… have to try it sometime.)

        2. Mrs Happy

          Yes, Jo, yes. Finally I am heard. Oh the irony!

      2. 9.2.2

        Ah, Words, my old nemeses. Obscuring the truth while they purport to tell it – obscuring it from those who use them, meaning well, free of malice.

        A few days ago I read an article on Jezebel about “Choreplay,” the notion of incentivizing men to do household chores using sex as a reward. The comment section was overwhelmingly disgusted at the transactionality of the concept, and the prevailing thought was, “I’ll have sex when I want, and ONLY because I want to, and not for any other reason.” The words seem reasonable. The concept they evoke seems reasonable…..but only because the words obscure the truth through what they fail to mention: That in marriage there is no “I”, there is only “we.” Change the words but keep the concept, and imagine a bride on her wedding day saying this to her groom: “Honey, I love you. And from this day forward, YOU will only have sex when I goddamn feel like it.” The words seem harsher, don’t they? Less palatable? Less…fair? But the underlying concept is absolutely no different from the first statement. If “I” only have sex when I feel like it, then “You” only have sex when I feel like it. Because in marriage when I exercise bodily autonomy, I impose on yours.

        Hmmm, this example will likely not speak well to a largely female audience, given that sex is such a fraught subject. So let’s flip the script: Imagine a husband saying this to his wife: “Honey, I love you and from this day forward I’m only going to do with my body what I feel like doing.” “O….kay,” the wife would reply, “That sounds reasonable.” “Excellent,” replies the husband, “So no more household chores for me, then.” “Huh,” the wife replies. “Yes,” says the husband, “After all, chores are things I do with my body, and I don’t really want to do them. So I’m not going to do them unless I feel like it.”

        Not cool, eh? Because although his words seem reasonable in isolation, they obscure the concept by failing to mention one important thing – if he’s not going to do the chores, that means SHE has to. Whether she wants to or not, assuming she cares that they get done. His doing only what he feels like doing is not cool. Is not fair. He must take her feelings/wants/needs into consideration, because marriage isn’t dating.

        I was chided above for bringing things back to myself too often on this blog. I do so because to discuss things only in the abstract is not effective, and to discuss others runs the risk of being both intrusive and wrong. I don’t know anything about your marriage, and if it’s working for both you and your husband then kudos to you. I’d just raise one point that may not apply to you – though it certainly applied in my marriage – and I’ll use the example of Spreadsheet Guy (you brought him up a few posts ago). There wasn’t much surprising in Spreadsheet Guy’s story – a man who wanted more sex, a wife who didn’t, a man who felt frustrated, a woman who felt put-upon. Old story, not much to learn from it….except one thing: Spreadsheet Guy’s wife was SURPRISED when he left her. She was surprised! It didn’t matter that he was constantly telling her his needs weren’t being met, didn’t matter that she was constantly rejecting him with small islands of reluctant acceptance – she was relatively content in her marriage, and so she assumed he was too. That the negativity was isolated, that the marriage was otherwise 95% happy. She was surprised, Mrs H. I’ve seen this play out in real life. Where one spouse constantly complains about unmet wants to the other, where one spouse suggests marital counselling to the other, but the other keeps chugging along, believing that things might not be perfect but they’re ok enough. They are surprised when things fall apart. Because they extrapolate their own feelings onto their partner. This is the danger, IMHO, of the notion of “I’ll do me and you do you and it’ll be alright.” It’s “I do WE and you do WE.” It’s only false if we believe it to be so.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          And to push back on Jeremy, MOST of the time when needs aren’t being met in a big way, it’s by a man. Which is why wives initiate divorce 2/3 of the time.

        2. Jeremy

          Exactly so. That’s why I used the word “spouse.” What divorced woman on this blog wouldn’t relate? The article you cited on your most recent post is exactly this – women complaining that their men aren’t hearing them, are imposing their wants upon them, are taking them for granted.

        3. ScottH

          “We are as needy as our unmet needs” and a smart partner knows that it’s their responsibility to understand and satisfy their partner’s needs, or someone else might do so in some capacity. Just like we need essential nutrients that can only come from certain foods, there are essential needs that can (should?) only come from the partner.

      3. 9.2.3

        Also, you handled your last comments masterfully, Mrs H. With more equanimity than I’ve been able to muster lately. Kudos to you on keeping your cool. And if my “commenting about others runs the risk of being intrusive and wrong” comment wasn’t clear enough, it’s me eating crow and admitting the obvious – that I don’t know squat about you or your marriage (beyond what you’ve said), and should not have made the insinuations I did. I apologize (yet again), and will try to avoid repetition. When we disagree on some of the big stuff, as we do and will, I’ll play by dodgeball rules and keep it above the belt.

        1. Mrs Happy

          I don’t know dodgeball but I played netball. Ladylike, stay 3-feet away, penalties for imposing on personal space, be polite to your opponent, sort of national sport here.

          I suspect we each chastise ourselves for longer about having hurt the other’s feelings, than the other actually experiences said hurt feelings. And you know that even when you’re frustrated I find you endearing.

          It’s all good.
          Still waiting BTW.

  10. 10
    Yet Another Guy


    Mother-child oxytocin release is not limited to breastfeeding nor is it limited to humans. Postpartum depression has been linked to postpartum depression, which disrupts the mother-child bonding process The are published articles about both subjects on the US National Library of Medicine site.

    1. 10.1
      Yet Another Guy

      *Postpartum depression has been linked to low oxytocin

    2. 10.2

      Postpartum depression is the most awful thing I’ve ever experienced. Thinking about it gives me chills to this day.

  11. 11

    EMK: “What both of them are missing is that men want to feel ACCEPTED, APPRECIATED AND ADMIRED and women want to feel SAFE, HEARD and UNDERSTOOD. If you can both provide ALL of those elements to your partner – regardless of gender – you’ll have a happy marriage.”

    As a someone who has read your blog nearly as long as you have been writing it….I believe most of your readers do “get it”.

    “Jeremy gets that.”

    Does he?

    “Jeremy” is most articulate writer I’ve seen in the comment section of this blog in 12 years.
    He is also,is the most consistent writer I’ve seen who turns comments back to his own situation. No matter the topic.

    “Jeremy” gets push back because he doesn’t always make other people feel ” accepted, safe, heard, understood, appreciated, nor admired.

    Jeremy may be, or could be, a great novelist. On this forum, he usually has one theme…his wife does not sexually desire him as he wishs she would. Full stop.

    1. 11.1

      Selena, I agree with Jeremy writing like a novelist whenever he brings in metaphors of his fish or other examples, and with the turning comments back to personal situations. The commenters I’ve found most articulate, and also admirably dispassionate, are Karl R and Sylvana. Most times you see their names come up in past posts, you know you’ll read something logical and whip-smart (and sometimes very funny). And Selena, don’t knock yourself! You’ve provided consistently calm and worthwhile comments too.

      How long has Evan been writing this blog? Evan, you have brilliant commenters – I think that says something about the quality of your blog. I hope you won’t discourage people like Emily and Mrs Happy from commenting. Regardless of who might be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, it is such a comfort to read all perspectives for all those who want to learn more about diverse kinds of relationships.

      1. 11.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        I hear you, Jo. And, yes, I’m proud of the intelligence of the community and the high level of conversation it fosters. At the same time, I’m human. I am running a business. I’m trying to give sound advice to a broad base of people. And while it’s all well and good from an entertainment perspective when different people with different points of view spar in the comments, I sometimes feel that this pulls focus from the only point of view that I can 100% endorse: mine.

        I’ve thought of doing away with the comments a million times but I keep them – mostly because it seems to make the commenters happy. What commenters don’t consider (or, more likely, don’t care about) is how it feels for me when you read free advice for a decade, never invest my programs or coaching, criticize me on my own site, remain unmarried – and STILL insist that your dubious advice is equally valid. I know everything is a matter of opinion and it’s impolite to suggest that anyone is “wrong.” But it’s not true. Look at how most men approach dating. We can agree it’s not very “effective,” right? Well, that’s the way I feel about most of the conversation here. Which is why I mostly stay ou t of it. I only got involved because I think Jeremy (like Karl R) is the closest I’ve ever had to a proxy – someone who could reliably offer a smart, logical, married man’s point of view that closely aligns with mine. And when you rip on Jeremy, you’re pretty much ripping on me.

        He uses personal situations as a lens to explain these concepts. Same exact thing I do in Love U. So while I am not in the interest of banning people, you are well aware that I’ve run off pretty much every MGTOW/MRA type that’s ever come to troll here. The flip side of those men are the single women who insist that men understand THEIR POV but never take a moment to understand or validate a man’s POV. Like mine. Or Jeremy. Or YAG, for that matter. I’ve been listening to women 3 hours a day for 15 years. No one can say I don’t understand women. But to be clear, women don’t hire me for that purpose. They hire me to understand how good men think and act in a relationship. And if Mrs. Happy can’t concede that Jeremy and I have a valid point, well, I’ll be the first to declare that Mr. Happy is probably not all that Happy.

        1. jo

          Evan, I get it. Thank you for keeping the comments section on despite your frustrations.

          What I think may assuage some of your concerns in your 2nd paragraph is how an average reader like me reads the comments. We (at least, speaking for myself) don’t see anything Emily or Mrs Happy write as ‘advice.’ We assume that your first response to the OP is the advice, and everyone else is just commenting on it. A hierarchy, if you will – at least where advice is concerned.

          What comments provide that keep us reading is perspective. It is nowhere near the same as advice, but gives that comforting feeling of ‘I’m not alone in this experience or thinking that way’. Even if their stories are different from our own, the different perspectives provide insight, like Jeremy’s, which is why I don’t mind personal stories – although I question for their sakes how wise it is to reveal so much online.

          So, that’s my take as a reader. We see you as the advice-giver. We don’t see other commenters as advice-givers: just as people in the same boat, all wanting to learn and gain perspective (and sometimes engage in debates).

        2. Mrs Happy

          I can both agree people have valid points, and also myself offer other points of view. Me presenting differing positions is not me saying everything else posted here or elsewhere is wrong. In fact my comments usually enlarge on someone else’s posted ideas.

          And Evan, respectfully, your way worked for you. It may not be extrapolable to every single person. There are a lot of different people, and relationship types, out there. I appreciate you are running a business and that business is to help women achieve happy long term relationships, but there are various paths via which one can do that, and various ways one can be happy in such, that wouldn’t suit you personally, but are still worthwhile, and still exist. What suits one couple doesn’t necessarily suit every couple in the world. E.g. you and 90% of men may want admiration or x/y/z, but that still leaves millions of men who wouldn’t.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          That’s fair, Mrs. Happy. Sorry for being so aggressive.

        4. Mrs Happy

          No worries Evan, people not infrequently frustrate me, so I completely understand.

    2. 11.2
      Yet Another Guy


      Most people write about their experiences. Believe it or not, Jeremy’s predicament is very common. Most of the men who are experiencing what Jeremy is experiencing suffer in silence, which is why it is important for him to write about his experiences. After all, he could do what a lot of guys in his predicament do and take on a mistress.

  12. 12
    Mrs Happy

    The title of this piece is “Why you should put relationships first”, and I think men are more likely to rush to interpret this as, “Why you should put your spouse first”. According to posters on this blog, for a lot of married men, their spouse/partner is about 80% or more of their adult relationship needs.

    It seems to me that women generally have higher numbers of adult people close and important in their lives than do men. Women seem more emotionally connected to extended family, keep more in touch with friends and neighbours, have lots of groups of people they’re part of. E.g. I am currently in more than a dozen text/WhatsApp groups, members of which post numerous messages daily, and this is not for any reason other than work and volunteer groups, and kids’ class and year school groups, and kids’ sport groups, form for ease of rapid communication; but some of these many people end up being my friends and close supports.

    For all the kids’ school and sport groups, it is the mother in the WhatsApp group message bank list (well except for my lovely involved husband who is in them, along with maybe 1-2 other dads) despite almost every child being part of a traditional nuclear family and having a father in their home nightly. Everywhere around me I see men not connecting with many adults other than their partner, and I see women interested in dozens of connections, and involved in numerous people’s lives.

    This results in, as a generalisation, men needing more from their partners. Their wives are getting multiple emotional connection wants met by numerous other people. Men hold it all in all day, like they’re in a mini war zone, then relax at home. Their wife, who has spent her day being emotionally present and supportive for upset friends/sick neighbours/overloaded work colleagues/ tantruming children, may not have a whole lot left in her tank to provide her husband with the 80+% emotional stuff or sex, he wants. I work with only male colleagues, the secretaries at my office are female, and the men – they just do not care as much as the women. They’re distant and not as empathic about whatever is going on. They expend only a fraction of the emotional energy on others that I do, at work – and we have the same roles and duties. They don’t know both secretaries just had breast cancer, or if they know, that’s the end for them, there is no consequence or action from them re that.

    It’s a big picture discrepancy. It’s him saying “I want her available to me and to be my everything/>80%”, and her saying “You’re one of many people I really love, and just so you know (she obviously never says it this statistically) my 100% has been divvied up this way today”. Instead, she is tired or grumpy, or retreats to Facebook, or separates the screaming children which emotionally drains her because it costs empathy because she is so connected to the kids, so then she needs an emotional rest,… and he feels left out. I think it’s big picture, genders-emote-differently, different hormonal levels as stated above, stuff. I really think most women I observe care and love and accept etc their spouse. They just don’t give him 80-100% of their tank. Should they?

    1. 12.1

      “I really think most women I observe care and love and accept their spouse.” I agree with you, Mrs H, but you forgot the “admire” part. The most important part. Because most of the women in my circles “love” their spouse in the female definition of the word (as expected, they’re female after all), when they’d do better to understand how men receive love if they hope to give love to a man.

      Most of the wives I know accept their husbands in a fond way, the way you accept a child, knowing his foibles, shaking their heads ruefully at them, fondly. Their men are safe, heard, understood……loved? The problem with that word, love, is that it can mean anything. We can use it to mean anything. I love a juicy steak, I love my parents, I love my wife – 3 uses of the word love, each meaning a completely different emotional state. Each an obfuscation of the truth in the effort to tell it.

      In your circles, Mrs H, do most of the wives admire their husbands? And (this might be a tougher question, but you of all people are most likely to have the insight into it) – do they admire their husbands for the qualities that their husbands invest their sexuality, their masculinity, into? In my circles, admiration of husbands by wives tends to be non-existent after 5 years of marriage.

      You ask, “They just don’t give him [their husband] 80-100% of their tank. Should they?” You’ll note, I never suggested that women give men 80-100% of their tank. I suggested they shoot for above 10%. I’m about realistic goals 🙂 But 10% of what the husbands want, not what the wives do, not what the wives think their husbands SHOULD want.

      1. 12.1.1

        And that last sentence is the rub. Because if you ask most wives what they do for their husbands, they’d give you a list a mile long – starting with grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, working, mothering – the grind of their every-day lives that exhausts and (maybe) fulfills them. But modify the question a smidge – not “what do you do for your husband,” but rather “what does your husband want you to do?” Most would get quite a different answer. You might not. And if you don’t, then none of my comments above apply to you at all.

      2. 12.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        ” In my circles, admiration of husbands by wives tends to be non-existent after 5 years of marriage.”

        I doubt most people are admired for what they hold most valuable in themselves.
        I don’t think most people are admired in general, and unless they’ve done something admirable, in my opinion that’s probably fair enough. Hey if you cure HIV, I’ll admire you till the cows come home. If you go to work each day and bake an occasional lemon tart, that’s lovely, but so does about 70% of the adult population, so….

        I do not think people owe their partners admiration. And faking admiration is probably silly. If it’s not there, it’s not there. Making it a necessary part of having a relationship with someone is impractical, given most people are fairly average and won’t be too admirable.

        What perplexes me is, do you think most wives should admire their husbands? And does the admiration rule/desire just flow that one way? Or do husbands admire various co-workers and neighbours and wives and children and teachers and other people too?

        Are people all around me admiring the pants off everyone else they meet, and I’ve been left out of the admiration game of life because I live in the pod, and I don’t know what I’m missing?

        Gotta say, I’m wondering if this admiration thing is more a personal hope, than a general ubiquitous adult male or adult person thing? I don’t come across a lot of secure stable people yearning for admiration. Maybe I missed it. Have all of your partners wanted admiration? And what happens if you don’t admire them?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Let’s flip it over, Mrs. H – women constantly tell me how they want to feel DESIRED. It’s not okay that he’s busy with work and keeping a roof over our heads. It’s not okay that we both look a bit worse than we did when we married 10 years ago. It’s not okay that he is still attracted to other women or celebrities. It’s not okay that he occasionally masturbates to porn. What matters – to a lot of women – is that their husband doesn’t make them feel desired. Despite what you might think: I GET IT. The fact is that he doesn’t desire her as much as he did when they met – that strong, hormonal impulse is now a long-distant memory – and she can FEEL it. She wants MORE.

          And THAT is exactly what it’s like for a man who wants to also be ADMIRED by his wife. She either doesn’t admire him like she once did or doesn’t feel the need to tell him anymore. This is hedonic adaption and the normalization of deviance, where people coast on their relationship instead of constantly figuring out how to make our partners happy. You’re not unique or “wrong” to feel content in just BEING together; most people are. But that’s exactly where many relationships go awry – when women don’t feel desired and men don’t feel admired. If neither you nor your husband has these needs, that’s okay. Many others do.

        2. Marika

          There could be a cultural component to the admiration thing, Mrs H (glad you’re still alive, btw!!)? We’re not an admiration culture. I tell new people that they’ll know they are doing a good job at work if they keep getting given patients…and that’s about it. In 7ish years of working there the only time I had any clue my boss liked me or thought I was doing a good job was that she was upset when I had a meeting in the café downstairs she mistook as a job interview. Whereas every second day she makes fun of me over some little thing. It’s our way.

          If you go out of your way to tell someone they did something well, they either think you are joking or being sarcastic. It’s like I said in the other thread; I’m making a concerted effort to admire, but people, and men especially, don’t know how to take it.

          Appreciation: yes. Definitely. And maybe you have experienced this too Mrs H. When I’ve lived with women, there’s very little thanking of anyone for doing anything. Men, on the other hand, lots of thanking. They love it, never seem to tire of it and it motivates them to do stuff. IME.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Evan: “The fact is that he doesn’t desire her as much as he did when they met – that strong, hormonal impulse is now a long-distant memory – and she can FEEL it. She wants MORE.

          And THAT is exactly what it’s like for a man who wants to also be ADMIRED by his wife. She either doesn’t admire him like she once did or doesn’t feel the need to tell him anymore.”

          But Evan, he is not going to desire her as he did when they first tumbled. She is not going to admire him as she first did when she had hormonal lust rose-coloured glasses on. You are a realist, you know this. Surely your solution is not that they each lie or fake it? Surely your solution is to tell the individual, to be realistic, and work with how the world works, rather than how they’d like it to be?

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          Surely, you’re mistaken, Mrs. Happy. I was actually talking about this convo with my wife. I mentioned your “mic drop” moment when you queried your husband and he had no idea what I was talking about, as if that somehow indicated that I was mistaken about this. So here’s the deal.

          You’re talking about how MOST people do things. You’re right. Desire and admiration wane with time and reality. But my job isn’t merely to observe reality; it’s to show people in relationships how to make them better. So I frequently compliment my wife on her appearance – both with and without close. I flirt with her and offer sexual innuendo. I make sure we have sex every week instead of letting it slide due to lack of interest or being tired. And – miracle of all miracles – I have a wife who feels desired even though my testosterone is so low, I think I’m now officially a woman. The EXACT SAME thing can be done by women who know all of their husbands’ flaws – arbitrarily choosing to focus on things he does well and letting him know. From my wife, in the past 24 hours, “Thanks for understanding why I wasn’t in the mood last night. I’ll make it up to you soon.” “It was so generous that you let me sleep in and took the kids to school when I was tired on Friday.” “I really appreciate you joining me for Happy Hour spontaneously even though it cut into your work day.” “You’re so generous to our family!” You see how EASY it is for me to continue to be a good husband and father when I get praise/appreciation for these deeds instead of taking it all for granted?

        5. ScottH

          would the word “appreciate” be more appropriate? Maybe admiration turns into appreciation over time.

        6. Mrs Happy

          Ahh – translations and definitions. Evan what you describe is what I would say is baseline everyday kindness to a partner, thanking them when they do something nice, etc, and absolutely a good way to live together. So yes prescient ScottH is right again, ‘appreciate’ is how I’d think of those behaviours.

          Admiration is a higher, rarer situation for me; it’s not an everyday thing. When Jeremy was bemoaning the loss of admiration, I thought he was talking about the “Oh you’re soooo wonderful” rose coloured glasses first 6 months in love feeling lust hormone stage, that is inevitably lost with time. I assumed that’s what Jeremy wanted, and that seems impractical to me, and not every man wants that faked.

      3. 12.1.3
        Mrs Happy

        Just in case I’ve incorrectly read every man I’ve ever dated or been in a romantic relationship with over the last 30 y, I just asked my husband –

        “Honey, is one of the things you want from me, to admire you?”
        “Admire me for what?” he asks.
        “I don’t know, any masculine or man stuff, or anything?”
        Looked at me like I had two heads. Thought for 3 seconds. “Nup.”
        Then he asked, “Where are you getting this from?”
        Told him, a blog I comment on. I explained some men commenting there wanted admiration. He shook his head. Stayed silent.

        I think we are a GREAT match.

        1. Jeremy

          It would be tough for a man who invested his masculinity into traditional providership, who wanted to be admired for that aspect of himself, to be married to you. Much easier for a man who invests his masculinity into other things. Of course, such a man would likely either be consciously unaware of such concepts as what he invests his ego into (that being a fairly abstract concept, and not of any interest to a concrete-oriented personality who delves not at all into his own motivations), or might be aware, but unlikely to admit it. Negates the purpose, after all. There are, of course, any number of reasons a man would own 8 vehicles, or purchase a luxury European car.

          I’m going to channel Socrates today, in an effort to be less judgy and more open. So a few questions rather than statements:

          – Does a person need to cure HIV to be admirable, to have aspects of him/herself that are to be admired?
          – Does your husband really not evoke any feelings of admiration in you? (No need to answer that on here
          – The man who mentored you at work and trained you in manipulation – why do you think he did it?
          – The ex-army dude you dated, with the muscles….why do you think he spent all that effort to get all those muscles?
          – The work colleague of yours that accompanied you to the Miami Hooters and became besotted with the indifferent waitress – why do you think he’d think a young woman would be interested in a guy like him?
          – All those men you work with, who work crazy hours and make crazy money – why do you think they don’t work part-time and seek a better work-life balance like you did? What might they be after?

          I only ask these questions because you asked, “Are people all around me admiring the pants off everyone else they meet, and I’ve been left out of the admiration game of life because I live in the pod, and I don’t know what I’m missing?” I mean, I could have tried to answer on my own, but am more interested in whether your answers will help me answer your question.

        2. Mrs Happy

          “There are, of course, any number of reasons a man would own 8 vehicles, or purchase a luxury European car.”

          Well firstly the last expensive luxury car and all the convertible sports car purchases are mine. But yes he did own 8 vehicles. I think when single, he just liked cars and motorbikes. (JJ, sometimes a car is just a car.) I realise cars and driving are not your thing but some cars and motorbikes are really really enjoyable to meld with on the road. You won’t get it, you drive a boring car. You use a car just to get from A to B. It’s alright. You’re not a car person.

          “Does a person need to cure HIV to be admirable, to have aspects of him/herself that are to be admired?”

          Look a person doesn’t need to cure cancer to be admirable, there are other admirable acts, but just existing and being an average married man is not something I see as particularly impressive; most of the population do this at some stage. Sure when my husband does something admirable, I’m impressed (and grateful).
          But most of the time most people are not doing admirable acts.

          When you wrote about those wives in your circle not admiring their husbands, I just assumed they were all fairly average people doing standard things and not particularly deserving of regular or special admiration, and also that some hedonic adaption had set in (for both spouses, mind you; you seem to be concentrating only on males receiving admiration). Jeremy, seriously, do you regularly admire the average person for doing standard life acts? And if not, why on earth should anyone?

          Re the rest of your questions – are you inferring the males did things like get muscles, mentor me in the workplace, flirt with waitresses, and work long hours, just for female admiration? I’ll completely pay only the first one of those.

          Do you think it’s possible that because you really value and want admiration, you’re assuming a lot of other people do too? It seems a want destined to disappoint, because most people I know don’t repeatedly tell or show their loved ones they are admired just for doing the same things day after day; it’s not how humans work. You have to do something extra, and you can’t keep doing extra without end, you’ll collapse. I think it’s best to try to let go of the need for admiration; much like Evan tells those women who want to be the most beautiful person their partner has ever seen, to give up on an impossible dream, in order to more probably achieve some happiness.

        3. Marika

          Personally, I think for the most part married couples aren’t even doing these *basic* things. I think they are far more likely to criticize each other than compliment each other. Which is why being mindful of this stuff is so important. Like Jon Gottman talks about – making sure your bank skews way more to the positive than negative. But maybe Mrs H, yours does naturally.

          Scott, you’re a man of course, so I could be wrong, but I think Evan (and Jeremy), say men need both appreciation and admiration and they are different. Eg if he gets thanked for things, but he knows she thinks he’s generally unimpressive and a bit useless, he won’t be happy.

          Probably the least triggering way/safest language could be to be put it as being mindful of rarely, or never, saying anything emasculating.

        4. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you asked, “Jeremy, seriously, do you regularly admire people for performing standard life acts?”

          I have a hydroponic garden growing in my kitchen, Mrs H. Partially because it’s good to have fresh tomatoes, strawberries, lettuces, and herbs available whenever I want them, partially because it makes eating healthy fun for the kids (seriously, one time my kids were having dessert after dinner and saw a new bunch of kale growing – and wanted to try it. And I actually found myself saying, “First finish all your pie, then you can have kale.”). But more than that, I have it because watching plants grow fascinates me. As I watch the seeds sprout forth roots, blindly driving downward toward water while the seedling pushes toward the light, I think to myself how brave life is. Even life as simple as a seedling. Casting its defiance into the indifferent universe, to the entropy that will necessarily overcome it, wear it down, reduce it back to its elements. Nevertheless it persists, how brave.

          The child who overcomes her fear, who goes to school in spite of preferring to stay home. Who reaches out and takes a risk and makes a friend. How brave! The teenager who chooses a major, who engages in a field of study, who drives toward maturity like the seedling drives toward the sun, who puts down roots in the exact same way, never mind all the things stacked against her, the entropy of the universe. The adult who wakes up in the night time to be there for her kids, every night, though she’d prefer to sleep. Who goes to work every day when he’d rather be on the beach, who reads a book to better himself when he’d rather watch tv, who overcomes his inclinations. I admire all these things, Mrs H, in spite of the fact that they are “ordinary.”

          Ordinary. Our orientation and attitude determines so much of how we see the world. Is it that I drive a boring car because I am unable to appreciate certain people’s love for speed and oneness with the road, Mrs H? Or is it that I can appreciate those things in my boring car, and find those other cars gauche and unnecessary? That while I certainly appreciate jaunts to Europe to soak up art and culture, I can appreciate the quiet beauty in front of me at any given moment and so don’t REQUIRE excessive stimulus to achieve a baseline that another person might call excitement. It is everywhere.

          I am a regular person who goes to work each day, takes care of his family, tries to learn something and better himself and do for others. An ordinary person. And there is so much in me that is admirable, Mrs H. And in you, and in us all, in spite of our ordinariness, because in that ordinariness is so much that is extraordinary if only we choose to see it. If I was with a partner who could not see the admirable in me – nor I in her – the match would not be a good one.

          Admirable or ordinary? Exciting or boring? Different words, different obfuscations. Same concept. Same question.

        5. Mrs Happy

          Good grief Jeremy you are not an ordinary person, but otherwise yes you’re right.
          The kitchen garden sounds pretty. Spring has started here so I’m just about to plant (in the ground). I’ve just bartered the kids into holiday slave labour of 30 minutes gardening a day before any screens.
          Also, if I may, what is the likelihood you will venture past the eruv just for one exchange back? I like surrounding myself with the extraordinary.

      4. 12.1.4

        Mrs Happy said “I know don’t repeatedly tell or show their loved ones they are admired just for doing the same things day after day; it’s not how humans work. You have to do something extra, and you can’t keep doing extra without end, you’ll collapse. ”

        I don’t know if admiration is the right word, but I DO appreciate my husband for doing the same things continually for the past five years. Such as he does ALL of the driving for our major trips. (I fully fund our vacation bank acct, since he bought a new vehicle and has monthly payment. He flies, I buy) On EVERY vacation I say, I really appreciate that you do all of the driving on our vacations, and thanks for understanding that I really dislike driving in unfamiliar territory etc. He used to an electronic tech, and he has been doing light electrical work around the house for the past years, and every time he replaces a light fixture, installs smoke alarms, etc. I let him know how much I appreciate it. These are things he does regularly, and these aren’t cures for cancer or earth shatteringly admiral acts. So why do I continue to thank him for regular things that he has been doing on a regular basis for the past five years ? It’s PRECISELY because he has been doing all this for me for the past five years.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Dingdingding! #LoveUGrad

        2. Mrs Happy

          Yes, that is a nice way to behave to one’s spouse. I just call that basic manners and courtesy and kindness.

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          It is not. Otherwise there’d be more than 1/3 of marriages that report as happy.

        4. Mrs Happy

          That 1/3 idea presumes all that is required for a happy marriage is courtesy, kindness and good manners. That is a false premise.

        5. Evan Marc Katz

          That 1/3 idea was a study of the percentage of marriages that considered themselves happy. It didn’t parse what requirements made them happy.

        6. SparklingEmerald

          Mrs Happy said “Yes, that is a nice way to behave to one’s spouse. I just call that basic manners and courtesy and kindness.”

          Unfortunately, common courtesy is not as common as it should be, especially in long term relationships.

  13. 13

    Mrs, H;
    “Honey, is one of the things you want from me, to admire you?”
    “Admire me for what?” he asks.
    “I don’t know, any masculine or man stuff, or anything?”
    Looked at me like I had two heads. Thought for 3 seconds. “Nup.”
    Then he asked, “Where are you getting this from?”
    Told him, a blog I comment on. I explained some men commenting there wanted admiration. He shook his head. Stayed silent.
    I think we are a GREAT match.”

    I suspect your husband may have reached the point in his life where he is “comfortable in his own skn”- and “has nothing to prove”. You have known him a long time – what do you think?

    1. 13.1
      Mrs Happy

      I suspect it’s more that people yearn for different things. A man wouldn’t have married me if he needed admiration simply for the combination of having a Y chromosome and a pulse. That’s what I was getting at above – if you are genuine and chose wisely, you can just BE when with your spouse, because however you are, is what they’re okay with. Going into the marriage my husband would’ve realised he was only getting admiration when he did something admirable; e.g. if he needed admiration just for having a job, I was not a good match. He probably got enough admiration as a child so doesn’t now need his adult cup continually topped up.

      It seems to be an American thing to “Keep working” at relationships, I hear it said on American movies and wonder about the idea, it’s not really something pervasive in my culture here. When I hear about working at relationships, and working at being a partner, I do wonder, is it an ever-increasing goalpost? – i.e. a person achieves one level of good-partner-dom, but then does one have to strive for a higher level, and so on? Does it ever stop, plateau, so each spouse can just be who they naturally are?

      Look, it sounds exhausting, but if some people like living that way, that’s good, it’s just not for me. I come home to relax and enjoy my family, not work at being with them and a certain way with them. I’ve just worked all fishing day.

      1. 13.1.1

        Mrs Happy said “That’s what I was getting at above – if you are genuine and chose wisely, you can just BE when with your spouse, because however you are, is what they’re okay with.”

        I agree with this, if two people have a reasonable courtship period and get along and are getting their needs met, they could just BE in the marriage without analyzing goals, love languages and each others pie charts, etc.

        As I said, probably how I relate to my hubby is more about appreciation than admiration, although there is a lot admiration in my appreciation. But if I were to angst about, 1.) Do I admire him in sufficient amounts, and 2. ) for the things HE wants to be admired for, and 3. ) do I express that admiration in the way HE wants to hear it, etc, etc. I think I would end up with a bad case of analysis paralysis.

        When I squeeze his well toned biceps, and smile at him, that’s admiration. He might not consciously think in those terms, and for all I know, he takes his well toned biceps for granted, and only sees my smile and squeeze as a form of physical affection. When our road trips take us to steep mountainous places with little to no guard rails, and he drives that route cool as a cucumber, and I’m closing my eyes and white knuckling, I tell him “Well you certainly are brave, I can’t drive on roads like these”. There is certainly admiration in that statement, but I am not saying that specifically to be admiring it, I am just saying it. For all I know, it might not be registering in his mind as admiration, it might just be registering to him as “My wife is such a scaredy cat” but of course he doesn’t say that to me.

        The same thing with the love languages, I took the test, and it was a fun exercise, but I didn’t start analyzing if he was full filling my love languages in the way I want (that pretty much happens organically) and I didn’t tell him to take the test, so I could properly speak his love language. I just assume since he asked me to marry him, that I am speaking his language. Even if he isn’t familiar with the “love languages” test, even though we have never been to a counselor together to analyze our love languages, relationship goals, sexual goals, our pie charts, etc. It just works.

        Also, if the admiration doesn’t come organically, it’s not worth a hoot. I can’t imagine telling someone, “I want you to admire me, and these are things I want to me admired for, and here’s how I want that admiration expressed”. Wouldn’t sound very authentic after that.

        1. Jeremy

          It all works best when it comes organically, SE. And in the beginning of every relationship it DOES come organically, else there would be no relationship, or at least it wouldn’t progress. Problem is that life and time throw confounders at you – as you know as well as anyone. And those confounders and stresses can throw off the balance of what comes organically. This is why as many marriages end in divorce as they do, and why so many others are unhappy. None of the individuals in such marriages thought they’d become statistics when they walked down the aisle. They all thought their marriages would be the exception, that statistics wouldn’t apply to them. But none of us are exceptions just because we think we are. We ALL have great relationships in the beginning.

          The value of love languages, understanding goals, and all the other stuff we sometimes talk about here is not for beginnings, but for middles. The statistics are what they are only in part because people choose the wrong partners…..but also because people don’t understand these things, believe that good relationships shouldn’t require much effort. That belief is only right until it’s wrong.

  14. 14

    Emily If you ever read this I hope you come back, the blog isn’t the same without you.

    1. 14.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Actually, it is, Adrian. Active commenters come and go all the time. Emily was not banned. She’s choosing not to be here. While I don’t like losing readers, the world keeps spinning regardless of the voice of one single woman.

      1. 14.1.1

        Hi Evan,

        Yes you are right but she seemed so lonely but way to insecure to try to put herself out there for dating; and she has no real friends or family for companionship either. Hearing that someone cares and misses her would make her happy, even if she won’t admit it. You know that statement about this being her ‘entertainment’ was a lie.
        …. … …
        As a side note which of your products would be good for men?

        I think a lot of your advice is good for people not just women, plus I trust what you say about women and about what a man should do in dating more than some PUA guy….

        I’ve already bought finding the one online and why he disappeared (I read it out of curiosity but there is a lot men can learn from it).

        I can easily attract women and I have about a 80% success rate when I approach women but I struggle in getting long-term relationships because as Jeremy often writes I only know to do what women say attracts them to men NOT what really causes them to be attracted to men.

        If you don’t have any specific product do you have any books you would recommend?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Honestly, Adrian, if you can get past the fact that everything is addressed towards women, 90% of Love U is equally applicable to men. Since you’ve been able to benefit from the blog, you can take the video-only curriculum (without the group coaching) for a fraction of the price. Email me privately and I’ll send you a link. It’d make me real happy to help you find lasting love.

        2. ezamuzed


          Definitely look into Dr Robert Glovers Dating Essentials For Men.

  15. 15

    There seems to me to be too much analysis paralysis here. Admiration, appreciation, whatever. How can you say there is one attribute, one adjective to describe what people are looking for in a marriage? I found these words from Kalas and it seems this is a pretty good way of summarizing what everyone is trying to say:
    “There is no greater happiness for a spouse than a commitment to work toward the mate’s well-being, and therefore the mate’s happiness. To love someone is to revel in his/her happiness. To feel cocky and proud that you succeeded again in helping your mate feel loved and cherished. In great marriages, you awaken every day with some part of your brain hatching the next plan to be your mate’s hero, encourager, advocate, empathic listener, muse,friend, helpmate, and in some cases, the one who provides a loving-but-candid kick in the keister when he/she has stopped paying attention. Sometimes this work is an inspired joy. Sometimes it’s rigor and sacrifice. But, either way, that’s marriage.”

    1. 15.1

      I understand, Scott, and have certainly been guilty of analysis-paralysis myself.

      But the overriding point is that women and men need at least slightly different things – depending on the individual – from a relationship to be happy. I think if we could wrap our heads around that properly embrace and accept it, even if we don’t like it, those of us dating would be better off.

      People get all angry and want to push back on it. Some people make the point there are exceptions [and for those happily married, fair enough], but for us single people, there’s no point constantly complaining about what the opposite sex needs/wants, or arguing against it. It is what it is. I’ll happily admire and thank as much as I possibly can, if that’s the key to a good relationship. I can’t get inside the head of a man, but Evan is definitely right that women want to be actively desired by a man they also desire who makes them feel understood, cared for, and that he’s there to stay. So I have to assume that what he says men want, in general, is correct too. And it’s an important point, because often people are giving their dates/partners the wrong things.

  16. 16

    If you have chosen wisely it’s possible to have a great marriage as described in this quote. Unfortunately I great marriages are few and far between in my experience.

  17. 17

    Mrs, H;
    “Honey, is one of the things you want from me, to admire you?”
    “Admire me for what?” he asks.
    “I don’t know, any masculine or man stuff, or anything?”
    Looked at me like I had two heads. Thought for 3 seconds. “Nup.”
    Then he asked, “Where are you getting this from?”
    Told him, a blog I comment on. I explained some men commenting there wanted admiration. He shook his head. Stayed silent.
    I think we are a GREAT match.”

    The results of a poll depend entirely upon the wording of the poll questions. In this case, the wording of the poll question and Mrs Happys declarations that she supplies sufficient courtesy, kindness, and appreciation bring me to this conclusion:
    Mr Happy does not WANT admiration from Mrs Happy because he already GETS enough admiration from her. He would WANT it if he were not getting enough. Thus his silence. He may not have ever even thought about the subject: people often do not think about what their satisfactions, instead focusing on their lacks.
    ….. except for people like Jeremy and me. Myself and my beginner mind take every blessing as a gift and not as an expected continuation of previous gifts and blessings.

    1. 17.1

      But that was the beauty of the book, the fact that it expressed both perspectives so well, and in doing so hilighted the blindness of both sides to some extent. Mrs, H, I’m sure you perceived all of the deficiencies of Fleischman’s world view. The deficiencies of his wife are equally evident, no? I mean, her unwillingness to soothe the insecurities of her partner clashes oh so much with her own unsoothed insecurities that ultimately resulted in her nervous breakdown, affair, and the demise of her marriage (that she’d have preferred not end!). If only she had been open both to the soothing of her partner and to BEING soothed herself…. Instead of investing in avoidance – the belief that the need for soothing is weakness, infantility. If no man is an island, then no woman is either.

      1. 17.1.1

        Oh whoops, is it possible to move this to be a response to Mrs happys comment below so that she’ll see it? Thanks

      2. 17.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        CB, may I calmly state that me quoting one passage from the book does not indicate I missed the other messages in the book. It feels derivative to say “I got point A about your discussion, here is point B…”, so I usually just post point B. Interestingly women are okay with me posting my thoughts, i.e. point B, without acknowledging theirs, but sometimes men seem to want their point A acknowledged. Oh, right, that’s how Rachel felt too
        ….maybe that’s the third-tier reason for my choosing this quote for this comments section?

        But to be derivative and obvious, yes, one of the literacy device strengths was telling a NY Times bestselling novel’s tale, written by a woman, and that will largely be read by women, from the divorcing male’s point of view, for the bulk and importantly from the start of the novel. And yes, the average reader identifies and sympathises with all 3 protagonists. I’m bored reading my own comment here, it adds nothing, which is why I didn’t write this in the first place. Sometimes these comments can read like there’s no common assumed knowledge agreement ground, or is that just me? I don’t mean this to come out as irritated, but the understanding, flow and connection between regulars has been lost and it’s frustrating. It’s sad actually.

        There’s a limit on soothing and admiring, is what Rachel concluded. She got sick of doing it, and it wasn’t reciprocated. The neediness floored her. He stopped being admirable partly because of it. She just wanted to get on with their life together.

        CB I am so surprised you’ve read that book, given fiction isn’t your preference. BTW planted my vege garden this weekend. And only 3 big huntsmen in the house this weekend. So it’s all good. Hope you’re enjoying the colour of your leaves. I keep thinking I’ll stop writing and I keep returning, it’s infuriating.

        1. Jeremy

          I do too.

          The leaves are pretty, but not yet deep enough to rake in piles for the kids to jump in. Soon, though. What did you plant? I’ve currently got 2 varieties of strawberry, kale, Swiss chard, cherry tomatoes, buttercrunch lettuce, chives and dill. The garden isn’t large but it’s vertical so I can grow 16 plants in a small space (google “just vertical aeva” and you’ll see the stock photo from the company that designed it).

          I do enjoy fiction and find it somewhat ironic and also satisfying that we are discussing a book, almost like we’re in a… book club :). My sense was that both Rachel and Toby approached their relationship from a standpoint of selfishness. They both felt an emotion they interpreted a “love” for each other, but neither made much of an effort to meet the needs of the one they loved, nor even to take the time to understand what those needs were.

          I agree that Rachel just wanted to get on with their life together, but only their life as she defined it. Defined it without Toby’s input. She wasn’t interested in his input unless he agreed with her – to her, he was just a cog in her grand lifestyle scheme. When he disagreed, she plowed on anyway by herself, expecting accolades and receiving none. No one cared about her great long lists except her. She was not willing to compromise on them at all, only to shoulder all the burden and resent it.

          And Toby also just wanted to get on with their life together, their life as he saw it. He also wasn’t interested in Rachel’s input except when she agreed, and when she disagreed he denigrated her. She existed, to him, to be a balm to his frayed emotions just as he existed to be a cog in her lifestyle schemes. She didn’t want to be a balm. He didn’t want to be a cog.

          My question : if he had been the cog she wanted, would she have made more of an effort to be the balm he wanted? If she had been the balm he wanted, would he have settled into the role of the cog as she wanted? Was the problem that they were tired and resentful, or was it that neither was willing or able to compromise? Or was it that neither actually cared to compromise, wanting only what they wanted, and if so, what exactly does the love they felt for each other mean in the end?

        2. Mrs Happy

          I’m going to disagree with you about their relationship efforts. I think they fell in love as young adults, as many do. Then they got married, and advanced more in their careers, had kids and were felled by the corresponding shocking huge workload increase that is, got a mortgage, and expenses went haywire..

          Priorities shifted. He wanted the same degree of admiration, interest and desire from her, that a woman really only has highly during the initial 18 month in-love period, and which decreases thereafter. She wanted him to provide more financially for their family, and be more of an emotionally independent adult, who understood and made allowances for the pressure she was relentlessly under.

          I laughed when she complained of knowing the liver too well. I smiled wryly when I realised, after years of her managing the nanny by checking in many times a day, the first time he organises the nanny, he doesn’t even realise he needs to check in on the home situation, and so his kid watches hours of porn … and then he sacks the nanny (!?! insane move at the start of summer holidays, every mother reader closed her eyes in agony at that part), and he is then shocked at the consequences of what having no childcare has on his career.

          Because he has only really ever had to think of himself between 8am-5.30pm, until then. Two years ago, almost the only time I’ve ever been instantly irate with you, was because you wrote how men know they can only concentrate properly on one thing at a time, so that’s all they do. All I could think, was, J, you ONLY have the luxury of doing that, because someone else is managing and thinking about all the other things that need to be done, and if she made a rule of only doing or considering one thing at a time, your life would be …. much, much, much crappier.

          I have to quote Elementary’s Sherlock here –
          Marriage is “an unnatural arrangement which forces its participants into an unhealthy monogamy. An accretion of petty fights and resentful compromises which, like Chinese water torture, slowly transforms both parties into howling neurotic versions of their former selves”, because it’s so apt re this book.

          And on your last query –
          cog/balm/cog/balm trying for the other harder and harder in perpetuity… I’ll just cut to the chase here because it’s too late at night to write in the 3rd person.
          You are enough, just as you. You don’t have to keep trying so hard. You are worthy, you are valued, you can stop, and relax, and be yourself. Childhood and incessantly bending to others’ wants and pleasures is over.

          Only 1 confronting spider sighting today (on my daughter’s leg, getting into the pool, she ran out screeching). Am sunburned from watching a school swimming carnival this afternoon. Lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini flowers, pumpkins, a huge strawberry patch we can’t eat fast enough which re-fruits seemingly overnight, nectarine, lemon and lime trees, and a French herb garden. And masses, masses of towering gum trees housing very noisy kookaburras, who swipe down to steal food from our outdoor table at BBQs, but I forgive because they kill the small brown snakes and leave them, dead and smashed, scattered on our back lawn.

        3. Jeremy

          Childhood is indeed over and I am free to be myself. Which self would that be? The dog on the porch, chafing at his leash barks piteously until someone unties him. Then settles back onto the porch. He didn’t want to leave the porch, he just wanted to be untied.

          Regarding your comment on that other thread today, would you believe – after all our conversations about power – that I have absolutely zero interest in power? Like, absolutely HATE power. Hate talking about it, hate that it exists. But when I wanted to understand the world, I opened my eyes and looked. And there it was. Impossible not to see, through the transparent nonsense that people make up and believe.

          Your garden sounds beautiful, excepting the snakes and spiders. Impossible to have in my climate, so I must instead innovate. Your kookaburras sound very masculine, what with the snake smashing. If only they’d learn to clean up after themselves.

        4. Mrs Happy

          Just the self who appreciates that he is enough without all this work.

        5. Jeremy

          Years ago, when dealing with successive illness of my father and then mother, the difficulties of a colicky baby and irritable post-partum wife, and the stresses of a difficult job, I decided that I needed more avenues for personal enjoyment in my life. I researched and built my fish tank, as you know, but that was not the only thing. I considered how best to lead a life of personal happiness – PERMA: Positive affect, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Achievement. For positive affect, I made a point of booking at least 3 vacations per year, with kids and without. For Engagement I made a point of cultivating hobbies that would engross me in flow – my reading/thinking, my gardening, my fish, my tinkering/artistic pursuits. For Relationships, cultivating friendships with friends and family, cultivating a sense of community, making a point of negating my own avoidant nature. For Meaning, engaging in philanthropic pursuits, engaging in parental duties, meaning through cultivating the next generation. Meaning through my work, the work I do for others. Engaging in this site to try to help others (to the extent I can). For Achievement…well, I have that through my work.

          I’ll admit, when you asked me whether I have anything enjoyable in my life that I do for myself, I wondered if I was lacking. I don’t do a lot of things designed for pure positive affect. And I’m thinking about what would increase that in my life without reducing the others. What do you do for positive affect (that you could do in a cold climate)? Open to ideas.

        6. Mrs Happy

          “What do you do for positive affect (that you could do in a cold climate)? Open to ideas.” –CB

          I’ve been thinking about this since you posted the above last week, and I keep coming to a fairly decently sized roadblock, which is, that despite imagining otherwise, I do not actually know you, and certainly not well enough to give specific how-to-achieve-contentment advice past the predictable.

          But I will write the following:

          A few years ago you posted about not ever really having a great friend, and about this one guy dropping off a care package when you were sick, with movies and food or such, and this striking you as amazing, because people had only ever taken from you, or given expecting something. The latter comes out in a lot in your comments, and that theme and your related vulnerabilities is one of the reasons Jo and you are sparring in a current thread, and Evan is jumping to your defense. (Because you’re having a blog break you may not have seen that.)

          Anyway my heart went out to you when I read that care package story, and I think it was from that moment on I wanted to get to know you. You just seemed so lovely, but so damaged by life’s tribulations, and I thought it would be nice to be your friend. You have since posted about various friendships you have, and school couples visiting and eating on the weekends, and socialising with women you and your wife can’t even stand, and while I understand why you are posting that info, at heart, to me, you still seem quite lonely.

          So one thing that springs to mind, and I’m not being biased here at all, or advocating for anything specific (really), is, you seem to yearn for deeper connections, with people who get you, and aside from your wife, you don’t write about anybody meeting that need. The title of this blog article sums up my advice really.

          Also while I’m dispensing semi-advice, I’m going to make an observation and this is absolutely not meant to hurt you. You’ve come from a training ground that traditionally teaches and instructs in a certain way, and you are a university lecturer, thus talk “at” people in part of your work, and you also work in a setting whereby you are the most knowledgeable person in the room and people hang on your words and explanations. The combination of those habits and realities means you post on this blog, not to discuss issues as equals, but
          “Engaging in this site to try to help others (to the extent I can). ”
          and I think that is what feels alien to women here who haven’t been molded by the same forces you have. Women come here to discuss and debate and learn, and when they feel lectured at, hackles can rise. I’d guess most people want you to keep posting. But I’d love to see you more open to being vulnerable here, to being less didactic and instructional, because it’d be better for you. A lot of people, myself included, rant endlessly on this blog. But I don’t think a lot of people believe their main or only purpose here is to help others. Most regulars post here because it’s fun.

          This is all thematically linked because I believe to, as you put it, increase positive affect, you need to stop doing things for others, or in service for others, and …. big breath in …. get a bit selfish. Just some of the time. Oh, and it goes without saying, hire me for personal life coaching lessons too of course. So I can get more specific.

          I’m wary of stretching Evan’s no-personal-stuff rule, but just quickly, OMG, how cool is Sister Agatha in the recent Dracula series by the phenomenal Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat? She reminds me of me.

          We got rain and the planet is shifting so you’ll be warmer soon JJ. Sleep well.

        7. Jeremy

          Thank you. I agree.

    2. 17.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear Rampiance,
      you make a good logical point, that I have pondered on for a while, and I will add this. In real life, until I entered my current marriage and realised Mr Happy didn’t like me flirting with other men, I was a huge flirt, basically anything with a Y chromosome in my vicinity was in danger. (I now do not flirt. Much. Just with 1 good, long term male friend, and when Mr Happy isn’t around, so, you know, I don’t get rusty, and because the friend wouldn’t have it any other way.) And being a pretty little flirt, with a more than basic understanding of men, OF COURSE I knew that men soaked up admiration like a desert soaks up water. So I flirtatiously admired till the cows came home. And one of the lovely, lovely things about Mr Happy was, that right from the start, he told me to stop it.

      Like a fishing breath of fresh air this spoke to my soul, because I didn’t have to keep doing it. Admiring someone again and again for doing the basics of life is something I find tiresome. I now only express admiration when it’s due, and thus we both know I really mean it, and this feels like a more genuine way to have a marital relationship last. I was happy to keep flirtatious admiration up for the short term of finding a boyfriend/fiance/husband, but lifelong… oh good grief no. So Mr Happy not needing repeated admiration, for whatever reason, meant he was a good match for me. He gets a lot of other things from me.

      You lost me on your last sentence. It’s a little intriguing actually.

      1. 17.2.1

        Hopefully Rampiance will explain it herself, but my understanding of it was an explanation of how she avoids hedonic adaptation through an effort of mindfulness. By making a conscious effort to not take one’s satisfactions for granted, to not assume they will continue just because they have in the past, one can remain grateful for those satisfactions, each successive satisfaction, as they come. And thereby continue to be happier, more grateful, and more admiring 🙂 toward the one responsible for those satisfactions, even the small, ever-day ones. Mindfulness has many useful applications.

      2. 17.2.2

        Mrs Happy ~
        My last sentence is like the warnings at the bottom of every ad or newsletter from investment advisers:
        Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
        Jeremy expressed my philosophy exactly (above).
        Thank you, Jeremy. 🙂

        We 3-D beings can gauge the future only by our observations of the past, but the future is not limited by past performance. Nor are the actions of humans. I invest in my relationships with those dear to me. So….
        …. when my man cooks me dinner today just like he cooked me dinner each day for the last thousand days AND IF THAT DINNER BROUGHT ME JOY (which it nearly always does because I love when someone cooks for me) then I express my appreciation for that dinner. His effort is isolated: his muscles did not cook dinner today under the momentum of previously cooked dinners. His muscles cooked dinner today because he CHOSE TO COOK DINNER TODAY. I honor that specific choice of today by my specific words of appreciation today. My words are not rote, and my tone is heartfelt every time.

        There are other ways of expressing appreciation besides words. I use those, too. My point is that when I pause for a moment to consider how wonderful I feel after noticing an effort or grace or presence or beauty, I respond to it, and my response multiplies the effect for me.

        My responses of appreciation are not limited to men, nor limited even to people. I also respond to lovely flowers and stately trees and awesome panoramas, among other things.

      3. 17.2.3

        Mrs Happy
        I too am a flirt, but it must be a different kind of flirt than you described of yourself. I flirt with men, women, babies, toddlers, moms, dads, teens, grandmoms, granddads, the sun, the breeze…. I flirt wherever it seems suitable and whenever I wish to.

        One defining difference is that my flirting ADDS to my energy, and definitely does not feel tiresome to me nor like anything I *have* to keep doing (for whatever reason you felt that you had to keep doing it). I do not admire men because THEY want or need admiration. I admire men and women and all the rest because I honor what they bring to my attention: I honor how they enriched my day.

        I totally get why you would feel relieved of a burden of trying to offer admiration for the wants and needs of men. I would feel burdened by that, too. Kudos to Mr Happy for seeing the burden you carried and telling you to drop it.

  18. 18
    Mrs Happy

    From Fleishman is in trouble, by Taffy Brodesser-Akner:
    “Rachel and I, we’d been raised to do what we wanted to do, and we had, we’d been successful, and we’d shown everyone. We didn’t need to wear apocryphal T-shirts because we already knew the secret, which was this: that when you did succeed, when you did out-earn and outpace, when you did exceed all expectations, nothing around you really shifted. You still had to tiptoe around the fragility of a man, which was okay for the women who got to shop and drink martinis all day – this was their compensation; they had done their own negotiations – but was absolutely intolerable for anyone who was out there working and getting respect and becoming the person that others had to tiptoe around. That these men could be so delicate, that they could lack any inkling of self-examination when it came time to try to figure out why their women didn’t seem to be batshit enthusiastic over another night of bolstering and patting and fellating every insecurity out of them – this was the thing we’d find intolerable.”

    1. 18.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      One of the few passages from the book that talks like that. The rest of the book was highly sympathetic to Fleishman and made his wife – a typical Love U client – look pretty bad. Great cherry picking.

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