Do You Stay or Do You Go?

If you’ve ever asked yourself how long you should wait, or how much you should put up with from a man, this blog post is for you.

In fact, I’m going to give away, in the next 1000 words, the fundamental principle that I use for all of my dating coaching clients.

If you are dating and routinely questioning your own judgment with men, I can help.

What I want to talk about today is a phenomenon that comes up all the time in dating coaching: how do you know what behavior to tolerate from men?

As a man, I wasn’t sure I could be entirely objective about this… not until I learned that I have much better radar than most of my women clients.

Colleen went out with a man who lied about his age by 8 years, and then complained on the first date that he hadn’t had sex in 2 years. He couldn’t stop talking about how unfair it was to be an older man who wanted to sleep with younger women.

The thing for you to distinguish is whether a man is having a bad moment, or whether he’s a bad man for you. They’re two different things, entirely.

She was going to give this man a second date!

Michaela was corresponding with a man online. He told her he was going to make plans with her, and then disappeared without a trace. He came back two months later and did the same thing a second time. Then he came back a THIRD time.

She gave him another shot. He disappeared AGAIN.

So when I’m talking about how my radar is better than yours, it’s not because I’m smarter or more experienced…it’s because I’m a MAN.

And, as a man – a self-aware, moral man who always sought love – I can tell you if it’s a forgivable offense, or if you should cut him loose right there.

I am, in no way, an apologist for men.

I’ve done plenty of things that SHOULD have gotten me cut loose, but didn’t…

And I’ve done plenty of things that SHOULDN’T have gotten me cut loose, but did.

The thing for you to distinguish is whether a man is having a bad moment, or whether he’s a bad man for you. They’re two different things, entirely.

We ALL have lapses when someone could judge us harshly.

Imagine you were out with a man and you got on the topic of dating. And, somehow, organically, he asked you about your ex – the one who cheated on you with your best friend. It’s still raw, it’s still painful, and you never did forgive him.

And because your date is so cute and such a good listener, you feel comfortable telling him the truth about your ex – that he was really a jerk, who completely disappointed you and destroyed your trust in men. You share how you’ve tried to get over him for two years, and although you occasionally check his Facebook page (don’t we all!), you’re finally ready for a real, healthy relationship.

Would you be surprised if this guy said to himself, “Whoa! This woman has some serious relationship and trust issues, not to mention a lot of unresolved anger towards men. I think I’m going to pass on her.” No, you would not be.

But he’d also be missing out on you – smart, attractive, kind, wonderful you – and all because you were honest about your conflicted feelings towards your ex.

Wouldn’t it be a shame if you got judged for that one minor lapse on the date?

Yeah, it’s the same thing for us.

We’re not perfect gentlemen.
We’re not mind readers.
We usually say what we think – even if you don’t like it or agree.

We want to have sex but we also want to find love – and we want to do it at our own pace.

And sometimes, because we are independently thinking creatures, we’re going to do something that really pisses you off.

Commenting on another woman’s looks.
Moving too fast sexually.
Failing to do something you want, like picking up a check, opening a car door, or figuring out our future instantly after date 1.

These may be bad moments; they are not necessarily bad men.

You are entitled to break up with a guy who does these things, in hopes of finding a man who never, ever pisses you off…but that’s the wrong kind of calculus.

I know lots of men who flirt with other women, move fast sexually, and fail to intuit every womanly need you have. That’s because I’m one of those men.

And the only reason I get to give advice to you is because I had SO much experience and SO much feedback that I was better able to learn how to please.

The couples that make it are the ones who don’t sweat the small stuff; and don’t tolerate the big stuff.

Even today, as someone who coaches women in understanding men for 4 hours a day, I STILL do things that makes my wife cringe. I’m grateful that she sees the good in me, rather than focusing on the bad.

So what shouldn’t you put up with?

The couples that make it are the ones who don’t sweat the small stuff; and don’t tolerate the big stuff. But those aren’t always obvious.

A guy who finds other women attractive doesn’t necessarily have a character flaw. He’s a man. He’s attracted to other women. But if he’s going home with you, you probably shouldn’t care too much.

Join our conversation (59 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    “Even today, as someone who coaches women in understanding men for 4 hours a day, I STILL do things that makes my wife cringe. I’m grateful that she sees the good in me, rather than focusing on the bad.”
    I understand where this statement is coming from, but I think it is important to remind women that they have imperfect habits too. There is – among some people – a false perception that women are a fully realized, perfectly matured person by their 20s, but men are still floundering through the process of perfecting their myriad faults and immaturities. (This is part of that old myth that women mature faster than men – it depends on the person. I know a lot of immature women and men.)
    One girl I dated looked like she dressed every day by picking out her clothes in a thrift store with the lights off. But I was crazy about her anyway. Did it bug me that I didn’t get to see he in attractive outfits? Yep. But not enough for me to ditch her.
    The correct order for anyone when screening is FIRST for character, then for attractiveness.
    Our consumer- and celebrity-oriented culture encourages just  the opposite, however. The push is always to maximize attractiveness, specifically sexual attractiveness, then learn to deal with character flaws. Most of the time, the only way to deal with character flaws is to complain about them to others. A guy can learn to buy nicer shoes, but he is probably not going to learn not to treat you like dirt. A girl can always get a makeover, but it is harder to get her to stop being an attention-hound.

  2. 2

    IMO, for a man to comment on another woman’s looks is highly inappropriate early in the relationship.  When he is with you, he should not be looking around to see who else is in the room or club or wherever.  It is just plain RUDE! 
    I am married and found that when I would have a working  lunch with a male coworker who was a good and trusted friend, he felt it was perfectly acceptable for him to comment on the appearance of a woman at another table.  Not to flirt, just to make a casual comment.  However, if I were to make a similar comment to him, he would feel offended and act like I slapped him in the face.  
    This happened with several platonic friends at lunch.  What is wrong with this picture???  A definite double standard here! 
    Anyway, a comment from a man early in the relationship about another woman’s appearance to me means he is just not that interested in you and not a keeper! 

    1. 2.1

      I disagree with your last statement. Sometimes I wonder if a man is checking to see how “emotional” we might get. What I do in these situations, if they occur, is ignore him! No emotion….just change subject nonchalantly.
      If, however, it is a regular thing, then I’d have a discussion possibly. I did this with the guy I was dating from match for a couple months. He consistently talked about his exes, his sexual “arrangements” he had before me, and had all their pictures all over, inappropriately sexual birthday cards on his shelf in living room, etc etc. I realized he was trying to look desirable to me but what it did was make me back off. So, I talked to him. It became ONE of several issues that made me decide to break it off. 
      But, sometimes, it’s the small stuff (checking out other women) and best to ignore and keep your dignity. IMO. 

      1. 2.1.1

        Hi Morgan,
        Is this guy you met on match is from las vegas?
        Because I met the same type of guy…
        I also broke up with him from the same reasons.

  3. 3

     @ jack #1, i thought a huge point of evan’s blog is to help women better understand men and for the women who take his advice to heart, how we can make changes and be aware of some of our “flaws”. you are speaking about a subset of women who don’t read this blog because they don’t care to learn. i would say that most of us on here already recognize this. 

  4. 4

    I love this post!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!! It is such common sense but when we get in the middle of the forest we can only see the trees sometimes. 

  5. 5

    @ aq #4, its wise not to date in a vacuum; sometimes we are so smitten we ignore things we shouldn’t. and sometimes we put too much eemphasis on things we can really overlook. besides the lively debate, i enjoy this blog because evan is understanding and sympathetic without allowing diva-ish behavior, lol! i know the lovely and gracious mrs. katz is busy with the precious one, but i’d love for her to tell us again of how she achieved that balance of being open and accepting without being a doormat. 

    1. 5.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @starthrower – the lovely Mrs. Katz IS busy with the precious one, but to be clear, there is absolutely no contradiction between being open and being a doormat. As explained in every email and blog post I’ve ever written, my wife lets me be myself – all the good and all the bad.

      I’m impatient. I’m a workaholic. I’m unabashedly liberal. I’m easily disappointed by friends. I’m constantly telling my wife how she can be more efficient. I am righteously indignant when the world doesn’t understand me. I offer my opinions even when I should shut up. I’m always surrounded by a gaggle of women at parties and frequently find some attractive.

      And she doesn’t judge me for any of this. That’s called being open.

      If YOU think that this makes her a doormat (as I suspect some of you do), that’s your prerogative. I can assure you that we have one really unusual and special marriage. All because she focuses on my good qualities, rather than my bad ones – and, better yet, realizes that there’s NO VALUE in getting upset at the bad ones.

      CAN she pitch a fit every time I need to be dragged out of my office, or lose my shit because I can’t find my Bluetooth, or spend too much time talking to a cute single girl who seeks out my advice at a pool party? I guess so. But it would only serve to heighten tensions between us, indicate to me that she doesn’t love me unconditionally, that she wants me to change, that she doesn’t trust me, and that I’m not good enough “as is”. How is that going to help our relationship? How is that going to make me feel better about her? More loyal to her? More connected to her? That’s right. It doesn’t.

      If you can simply accept a GOOD man – which I am – even though he’s got annoying tendencies, you can have an AMAZING relationship. Notice that none of my flaws included integrity issues. I don’t give her the silent treatment. I don’t intimate that I’ll ever leave her. I don’t verbally abuse her. I pretty much treat her like my savior, which she is. As a reward, I have her full trust – even when I’m debating the merits of the Dan Savage infidelity piece.

      That’s how you do it, y’all. It’s either ALL trust or it’s NO trust.

      ALL trust works infinitely better. And I’m living proof. I suspect many men would back me up – if they ever found a woman who would accept them as they are.

      1. 5.1.1

        What that makes the lovely Mrs. Katz is confident, not only in herself but in her husband and her marriage! Something not a lot of people can relate to. Don’t judge her or them @starthrower.  It is a nice place to find yourself in life.

      2. 5.1.2

        im outgoing and appreciate an outgoing man

        im good at making people feel comfortable and appreciate a man that can do the same

        trust & accepting one to be themselves is key… 
         The trick and most important factor is  that i choose the right man for me… see them for what they are not what i want them to be.


  6. 6

    Evan said “By the same token, if you’re seeing him for 8 weeks, and he’s not escalating his efforts to commit to you, the writing’s on the wall. Leave him.”

    8 WEEKS?  WOW!  I did online dating and met a man 5 hours away. I think I gave him 3 months. Even though his words and actions were not adding up. I then allowed the relationship to go on for 5 [long] years, long distance. Promises of a future, always obstacles, no solutions. Yet, he loves me like no other. He just needed more time. His job was on the line. His place wasn’t big enough. He didn’t have enough money to move to a bigger place. He didn’t have money to move. He started a fund for “our future”, OOPS- had to use said fund to help pay for his daughters college tuition. I FINALLY ended that not very long ago.  Enough is enough. I’m Moving on…..

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yep, if he can’t decide to be your boyfriend after 8 weeks or so, there’s no point waiting around. Think about all the time you could have saved, and the men you could have met over those 5 years…

  7. 7

    I have no problem with your point. I’m just not sure that Evan’s self-effacing way of making his point is entirely the best way to go.
    Humility on the part of everyone is a point worth making.

  8. 8
    abbe lang

    I agree and tell my female clients this all the time.  Men are creatures of habit, they may look around a bit and not be perfect in Every situation.  Women need to keep that perspective in mind and nag less and talk to their girlfriends more for emotional support.

    Abbe Lang

  9. 9

    @ jack #8, what would you have evan do, talk down to women like bad little children? with all due respect, there have been constant reminders of what flawed creatures women are and i think we get it. the “information” has been put out there, it has been duly noted and i’m not sure that there’s much more that can be said on the subject as most of the women here want to learn to be good partners. evan used a self-effacing example to show that he’s not trying to beat women over the head with how bad we are. and here’s something interesting as demonstrated by evan’s example of his wife: if someone isn’t constantly judged and condemned then it gives greater opportunity for growth. evan is motivated to be a good husband because his wife isn’t constantly pointing out his flaws. i’m going to be respectfully blunt jack, but this has gotten tiresome. i’m not disagreeing with most of your points, but as evan will attest you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. humility does not mean that women or anyone else need to be in constan€t self-condemnation over our imperfections. it means we accept them and resolve to grow in those areas. 

  10. 10
    Jenn Burton

    There are a lot of men out there with very poor relationship behavior.  But I can promise you there are just as many women.  For me and with the women I have coached it’s more about choosing to be exclusive with a man with this poor behavior versus cutting him loose.  There are many men when given the right opportunity, will step up to the plate and be the man of your dreams even with the “intolerable behavior” patterns, and within a relatively short amount of time.  (Case in point, my man who was your classic number 2 example) It all comes down to if you really need to find your soul mate right now, or if you would like to have more amazing dating experiences and see how your adventures unfold.  Both of those men in your story are definitely dateable in the latter scenario.  Great post btw!  Hugs, Jenn

  11. 11
    my honest answer

    I totally agree with Evan saying it’s total trust, or no trust at all. I don’t understand how some people can trust their partner, except around certain or specific people. You either trust them or you don’t. There are no half-ways.

  12. 12

    There was a study cited in the recent issue of O Magazine that stated that men are more likely to leave a marriage than a woman if she gets sick. This is what many women have to contend with, being yourself, your true most vulnerable self, and many men choose to leave.

    I completely agree with Evan’s points in #9. This is the best thing I’ve read in a long while. The problem is women aren’t shown this same kind of courtesy, many men just aren’t willing to stay around if she were to act or tell him something like “I get a little jealous sometimes when I see you getting a little too close to other women, but I do trust you, or I’ve gained 25lbs and I’m not sure if I’m going to lose it, or how about “your mother gets on my nerves, so I told her not to stop by so often”. Women are always extending courtesy’s to men, but are often not shown the same, that’s when it makes it difficult to show up and allow him to just “be himself” without any judgements. Again, what Evan described is the best way to be, but I would venture to say there are more wives who understand this about their husbands than men who understand this and are accepting of this in their wives. 

    1. 12.1

      “This is what many women have to contend with, being yourself, your true most vulnerable self, and many men choose to leave.”

      The opposite is also completely true:

      This is what many men have to contend with, being yourself, your true most vulnerable self, and many women choose to leave, because they will think you are weak and should “man-up”.

      This is why most women choose alpha males and bad boys, and why so many men strive to be alpha males and bad boys.

      “… many men just aren’t willing to stay around if she were to act or tell him something like …”

      Every one of your examples I would have no problem with, and would hope that (if I were currently married) my wife would feel safe to tell me those.
      But then again I am in my early 50’s, was married for a decade, and currently dating for 15+ years.  So I probably have more wisdom (I hope) than many younger men.

  13. 13
    Learning From My Mistakes

    Evan, Thank you so much for the validation this specific post (as well as your book “Why Did He Disappear?”) have given me. I have read and reread specific portions that fit with my circumstances and have found the emotional strength needed to remain in No Contact with someone who now only wants to call or text me once a week or less and see me only once every three weeks. Whie I do realize now that I should have stopped seeing him much sooner (however infrequently and always on his terms), I am glad that I only wasted one year and not any more precious time.
    The first six weeks were great-phone calls almost daily, seeing each other twice a week (but only one of these time were on a Saturday), but then he went on vacation and his work schedule changed (and he was happy I was so flexible with my time (I have a much fuller schedule now), since his schedule made it harder for him to date-but where was the mention of wanting me instead of dating in general?) and it went from this great start to maybe a phone call or text once a week and seeing me once every three weeks. I realize now that I should have put a stop to seeing him after the second time this happened-not after a year! No more putting up with excuses and lines of things will get better if you are only more patient, etc. It really is true that we get what we are willing to put up with and tolerate. 
    P.S. I feel for you, Moving On #6, as I can relate (even if on a smaller time scale). Hang in there!

  14. 14

    @ trenia #14, you have to stop and consider who “o” magazine is playing to. it’s all “you go girl all men are dogs” because that is what sells. all men are not dogs. every group has lousy people but how often do we hear about the good men trying their best to be good husbands, fathers, boyfriends, and citizens? i see a whole bunch of them at church every week, though i know they also exist elsewhere. as a mother of two boys i don’t want them to think they are unworthy because they are boys. they are being raised to treat girls well and be good men.

  15. 15
    Karl R

    Terri said: (#2)
    “Anyway, a comment from a man early in the relationship about another woman’s appearance to me means he is just not that interested in you and not a keeper!”

    Even if a man is completely infatuated with a woman, he will still notice other women’s appearances (unless he also has a problem with his eyesight). Since a man is going to notice another woman’s appearance (regardless of his level of interest), your disagreement seems to be whether or not it’s appropriate for him to voice his observations.

    In my experience, you will never agree 100% with your partner on what is or isn’t appropriate. So the relationship is going to fail if either partner is incapable of accepting “inappropriate” behavior in the other.

  16. 16

    I think women can be just as clueless when it comes to relationships as men.  Men may be better at finding short term partners, but Men either don’t want to or don’t know how to sustain long term relationships.  It seems from these readers, that for women, its only about finding a husband or long-term relationship and dumping anyone who is not husband worthy.  I don’t think its easy to find a Long Term Partner, and I think it can be very beneficial to have Medium length relationships of several months or several years.  If you use contraceptives, enjoy, meet, and learn from as many Men or woman as possible, life is short!

  17. 17


    I read that article in O too. It may be true, but I think we also have to look at intention. Women are generally raised to be people pleasers and more prone to guilt, whereas men aren’t. I’m sure there are women who become caregivers out of genuine love and compassion, and men who abandon sick spouses because they’re selfish and heartless. But I’m sure some women also become caregivers because they feel guilty if they leave or feel that people would cluck their tongues if they did. Not the most altruistic of reasons to become a caregiver.

  18. 18

    This is absolutely true. It’s important to keep in mind that all of us are human and if we find flaws in our partner, it’s a certainty that they find flaws in us as well.
    Some of this goes back to the things that people look for in a partner, I think. Superficial things often take top billing, and as a result, superficial things are seen as “important” in a relationship when things like dishonesty and disrespect are overlooked. If people looking for relationships truly had their priorities straight, a lot of this would sort itself out.

  19. 19

    Just had a weird situation. One date with a guy. Then he has many texts convos with me, but does not ask me out again that week. That feels not so good and makes me less attracted. See him out, he is clearly out with another girl at a club. That feels not so good after he had checked in with me that same night. He texts next morning, and I tell him I don,t think we should continue, and good luck. Cutting too soon? Hard to tell. Only measure of interest is wanting to see you again. Or maybe I am prickly.

  20. 20


    If a woman is looking for a Long-term partner, and doesn’t think she could be with a person in the long term, why would she stick around?

    I guess I don’t really understand the point of your post.

  21. 21

    I don’t feel it’s accurate to suggest that many men don’t let women be who they are. I’ve seen plenty of men who allow women to be themselves.  I actually think that sometimes women aren’t themselves because they are afraid of how they THINK their guy will respond, and they are often projecting their own feelings onto guys. I’ve experienced this myself.  


  22. 22
    Theresa H

    Such a great post Evan…I’m a dating moron and agonise about this stuff all the time..

  23. 23

    I hope that my guy DOES find other women attractive.  After all, I haven’t and won’t shut my eyes and will continue to appreciate looking at men..doesn’t mean I am sneaking them into the bathroom to throw down. 

    I do not understand how we as women, can hold double standards for men, yet act completely appalled when they do the same. 

    EMK~  LOVED this article.  I, too, would be interested to hear from the lovely Mrs. Katz. 

    All in all, it’s how a man makes you FEEL, not what he does..If what he does makes you feel horrible, then you know what to do.

    I love the eight week “timeline”.  My life and my time is precious and I certainly won’t be wasting anymore of it with a man who doesn’t feel it for me.   His not choosing to commit to me isn’t my fault or about me at all…it’s just simply what does it for him…and that is okay.  Next!

  24. 24

    Evan, what about the man such as in Michaela’s case who maks plans and doesn’t follow through.  Is that a man having a bad moment? or is that a man who’s not interested and shouldbe cut loose?  I’ve had this happen to me and I try to be patient and understanding, but at what point do you say enough!

  25. 25

    What does decide to be your boyfriend men?  Hmmm I am just past the 8 week mark and perfectly happy.  No verbal declaration of boyfriend/girlfriend, but at our age I would say we are SO’s when it happens. But we talk almost everyday, see each other regularly, he initiates all dates and offers to pay 99% of the time.  Always tries to please me and last week we went on a 4 day trip out of town and he covered the airfare and hotel.  IMO as long as he continues in this direction, I will judget him by his actions and let him pursue me.  In some cases I suspect it takes more then 8 weeks but I agree with Evan regarding when to hold and when to fold!!!

  26. 26

    Here’s one thing I do when in doubt – I compare the life I had with my ex to what I will have with the guy if I stick around. Was I better off with the ex? If he saw the two of us, and could put all emotions behind him and assess me and the new guy rationally as a couple, would he say, “oh, I understand, they’re a much better fit than she and I ever were”, or would he roll his eyes and say, “Gee, she left me to be with this dude, who treats her like this?” In second case, no matter how attached I am to the guy and how great of a guy he generally is, time to walk.
    Another thing I wanted to add, it’s not necessarily always because the guy is evil that he treats the woman badly, or, I’d rather say, treats her in ways she cannot tolerate. Sometimes people are just not compatible. Like, in Evan’s example (#9), personally I’m at my most comfortable with outgoing, social guys. Like Evan pointed out, this means that the guy will be surrounded by women at parties. Cannot say I enjoy it, but that’s something I have to accept, unless I want a guy instead who doesn’t like to socialize and meet new people. On the other hand, to an introverted woman who is best compatible with an introverted guy, behavior like Evan’s would probably be a deal-breaker, not because it’s bad, but because she’d be highly uncomfortable and unhappy with it.
    The general principle stated in the post applies to all of us, but the details, IMO, will differ based on our personalities and family situations. For instance, re #6, personally it makes a lot more sense to me that the guy chose to pay his daughter’s college tuition rather than saving for his and his gf’s future, than it would’ve the other way around. Sorry, but my kids’ education comes first, and I expect the men that I meet to be responsible fathers to their children as well. Of course, in the situation described in #6, the guy would’ve lost me at “five hours away”…

  27. 27

    I read somewhere that the deciding factor on whether to stay or go is

    “How do you feel about yourself when you are with this person?”

  28. 28

    @27 “But we talk almost everyday, see each other regularly, he initiates all dates and offers to pay 99% of the time.  Always tries to please me and last week we went on a 4 day trip out of town and he covered the airfare and hotel.  IMO as long as he continues in this direction, I will judget him by his actions and let him pursue me. ” 
    So, what if he comes to you at some point in the near future and says “can we start sharing the expenses of this relationship?”
    I don’t know. When someone constantly tries to please me and/or pay for everything while with me, I kind of wonder what’s going on. And while I know that some women still love having a man who will do all the planning, paying, and basically driving the whole relationship, I tend to question whether such arrangements actually last over the long run. What’s sexy in the beginning can become suffocating fairly quickly.
    I had a woman who acted very much like your man for the month or so we were together. I was pretty young at the time. I also didn’t have a lot of income, and she was significantly older than me, so I went along with it because I liked her. But then I started to get the sense that our relationship was more about being a cure for her loneliness than developing a partnership. She liked the idea of me she had in her mind, but really didn’t see who I really was. And when I tried to turn the tables and assert myself in the relationship, she didn’t take it well. Because she really didn’t want me as a partner – she wanted a kept lover.
    Hopefully, I’m reading your situation wrong. But it sounded too familiar to me to not comment on.

  29. 29

    @ Nathan Lol!!!!!You are so reading my situation wrong.  I have a very active life,  full of family and friends.  We both enjoy our lives outside of our relationship We both make a very good living and I offer to pay many times and most  times he says no.  But There are times when I pay.   I love that he takes the lead in many things but often decisions are based on our conversations.  Ours is a true partnership. 
    I truly accept, appreciate, admire, encourage and trust him.  And he respects, cares,  understands and is devoted to me.  I hope it continues

  30. 30


    Compared to me, most men look like quite a catch, purveyeor of conversational vinegar that I am.

    As far as suggesting that I desire women to be talked down to like “bad little children”, I think we both know that this is a clear mischaracterization of my point. I was quite clear that both sexes need to undestand that they have flaws.

    I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish by mischaracterizing my point, unless it is an attempt to shut down discussion. You should google the phrase “catalog of shaming language”.

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