My Boyfriend Has Been Putting Off Talking About Marriage for a Year

My Boyfriend Has Been Putting Off Talking About Marriage for a Year
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My boyfriend and I have been dating for 15 months. We met on a popular dating app (not Tinder). At the time, he was going through a divorce (though he told me he was already divorced- I found out on the 3rd date that it was not final. He excused his lie by stating that he did not believe women would date a technically married man. I did not love this excuse, but I understood it.). We are both 34 with no children. When we began dating I (gently) questioned him about his intentions and desires for his future. He assured me that he was ready to date and was seeking a long term, serious relationship that would lead to a happy marriage.

At the 7 month mark I checked in on his feelings and he said he was not at all thinking about the future yet but that I should “trust him.” So I did. I checked in again at 11 months, and he gave the same answer. I did not push. At 13 months, I had a big work event that I plan for all year long. He attended and behaved a little selfishly and it caused me to question the relationship, and I let him know this. I told him that if he was not planning for the future, if we were not taking next steps, and if he was also not able to be a supportive partner, I’m not sure what we have. I spent several days thinking things over and he came back to me saying he had thought about it and wanted to get a place together when my lease ends (which will be at 21 months of dating). That was 2 months ago. My event came and went and his promise got him out of hot water, and since then he has changed jobs where he travels during the week. I have been giving him space to bring up the plan to move, but he hasn’t. I asked him about it, and he said he isn’t ready. He said: “I’m enjoying the time we have together. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t want to put a timeline on anything.” I asked about what “ready” means and he expressed a fear of failure.

My issue now is that I feel like I’m wasting time. I feel like he pitched moving in to get out of how water and didn’t intend on following through. I feel like I trusted his timing as he asked me to and he manipulated me with a promise of the future to get out of trouble in the present. And I feel like I’m exactly where I was. He’s (admittedly) not thinking about the future (he said this again when asked 2 days ago- a 3rd time now), we aren’t moving in, and now he’s not even present during the week.

I’m 34. I want to be patient, but I also am losing my ability to trust his timing. All this to say he’s otherwise completely wonderful, and I love him. Is it time to walk? Help!

Thank you, Sarah

Yep. It’s time to walk.

In an alternate universe, you would have ended it at 7 months. Or maybe 11 months. Or 13 months. But you didn’t, because you loved him and wanted to believe him.

I would normally attempt to point out your blind spot – and illuminate something you couldn’t see because you’re too emotionally close to the situation – but that’s not the case here. You took the words right out of my mouth:

I feel like he pitched moving in to get out of how water and didn’t intend on following through. I feel like I trusted his timing as he asked me to and he manipulated me with a promise of the future to get out of trouble in the present. And I feel like I’m exactly where I was. He’s (admittedly) not thinking about the future (he said this again when asked 2 days ago- a 3rd time now), we aren’t moving in, and now he’s not even present during the week.

Ding-ding-ding!

People act out of THEIR self-interest, not YOUR self-interest.

People act out of THEIR self-interest, not YOUR self-interest.

My best friend is a perfect example.

He moved in with her.

He bought a dog with her.

He loved her deeply and thought of her as his best friend.

But for some reason, he never saw himself as her husband.

When I pressed him about why he didn’t break up with her – out of kindness to her deference to her desire to have children – his answer was this:

“She already knows in her heart that I’m not marrying her. If she wants to break up, she can do it, but I’m not going to because I enjoy the relationship.”

I think it’s selfish but then, people are selfish.

My friend put the onus on his girlfriend to end the relationship.

When I told her to dump him after two years, she held on for another three.

She’s married to someone else now, but she pretty much wasted her fertility on him between the ages of 34 and 39.

Don’t be like this woman. Don’t leave it to your boyfriend to make the right choices for you when he’s busy making the right choices for him.

Recognize that literally ANY stranger on the street is a better husband candidate than the man who has already told you that marriage isn’t his priority.

Love doesn’t redeem incompatible life goals. Now go find someone who believes in marriage as you do, before it’s too late.

P.S. Notice that the past three Monday reader letters were all variations on the same theme – I’m dating a man who is avoidant, married, and not interested in marriage.

Notice that my answer is always to dump him and find a better man.

Notice that half the battle is letting go of the dead-end relationship and the other half is creating one that is destined to last.

Notice that you’re not currently in a relationship that is destined to last.

Notice that other women have this relationship.

Notice that taking action to pursue happiness results in happiness and dating a guy who doesn’t want to be married for five years does not.

Take action.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    S.

    Wow. Well, the OPs do sometimes break up with them like Patricia last week! Sometimes it’s just shocking that a person could be so selfish. They don’t mean to be but they are. I’ve been there. How could a person be so kind to me at times and so selfish at the same time? It’s so difficult to reconcile. But it’s true, true, true. I actually once told a boyfriend out loud he was like two different people. I literally could not reconcile it.

    “If she wants to break up, she can do it, but I’m not going to because I enjoy the relationship.”

    He knows in his heart he’s hurting her and wasting her time. But one thing that’s good about this dude–which is a lot of dudes, though not all of them–once you see the selfishness for what it is, you don’t want them anymore or want to go back.

    I do see it at 6 or 7 months and get out but gosh, it’s so annoying sometimes to lather, rinse, and repeat. But that’s dating and not the enjoyable part of it. It’s not personal and the person doesn’t intentionally set out to cause harm. But you don’t want to be married to them for the rest of your lives.

    1. 1.1
      Jeremy

      “How could a person be so kind to me at times and so selfish at the same time?”

      Depends, S. Why was he being kind? Was it because he is a kind person, or because being kind to you at that time met his goals? Or at least didn’t conflict with his goals. Was easy.

      Years ago, when I was on the manosphere, I witnessed all manner of discussion trying to define exactly what “Alpha” means. The gurus on the sites were always writing essays about it, but defining it in such a nebulous manner that no single consensus could be established. Which, of course, gave them plausible deniability should their advice fail. What I tried to get them to understand (before giving up) is that it all boils down to WHY a person behaves the way they do. Do they prioritize themselves or others. “Alpha” is about prioritizing yourself. “Beta” is about prioritizing others. The behaviors that follow are about that. The notion that a person can be an “altruistic Alpha’ is highly flawed. Because a person who prioritizes himself is gonna prioritize himself. Even if he sometimes seems to prioritize you, it’s in order to get what he wants for as long as he wants it. Whether what he wants is something tangible from you, or whether it’s just an abstract feeling from acting a certain way, it’s all about him.

      I know that the above description will make intuitive sense to many women reading it. What they might be less-able to intuit is that it applies to women just as accurately as men.

      1. 1.1.1
        S.

        It applies to everyone. Seriously. I mostly dated what people here would call ‘beta’ males. And they really were kind human beings. I don’t know what their goals were. Heck, they don’t know. But I think part of their identity was being kind. And I do think sometimes they were unhappy with me but stayed to be kind. Which is sweet, but not strong.

        And that’s what I see with Evan’s friend. He’s not strong enough to give up what he’s enjoying because he might be hurting another person. The men I dated? Didn’t really like confrontation. And they mostly did a lot of what I wanted which is what I liked at the time. Until they didn’t. It’s very subtle. Just this non-action. Now I notice that out the gate. I am best with people who get back to me right away. None of this answering e-mails, texts, or calls after weeks. No. But I see that as a sign now of someone who is not best for me and I don’t respond when they do get back. (Yes, there are special circumstances sometimes, but not often in my experience.)

        People have a right to act in their own self-interest. It’s up to the other person, NOT to hang in there for months or years. The other person is happy with the situation. You’re not happy. You are confused. It’s not moving forward. So it’s up to you to leave.

        I was realizing something crossing the street to work this morning. I hear it with a lot of folks asking dating coaches’ advice. Sometimes the bottome line is: He just doesn’t like you enough. He does like you, though, and that’s what’s seductive. He is kind. He does care. But not ENOUGH.

        It’s triggery for some women to feel they aren’t enough but that’s misinterpreting the message. *He’s* not enough. He can’t generate the caring high enough. That’s not the partner’s fault. She’s not supposed to generate it, it kind should already be there after some time. Her job after seeing that it’d not–and not feeling that she didn’t do enough–is to go.

        But. Sometimes you have to give it that college try. You have to have get what happiness you can out of it, had to have given it your all, to truly let go. Or have to see the selfish side or the side that just goes along to get along.

        Women do it too. It’s not just about prioritizing others. When you go along to get along, avoiding confrontation, ‘enjoying’ for as long as the train rolls on, you’re also short-changing yourself. But I don’t know if the folks like that see it that way. I don’t know if Evan’s friend would have thought so. He could have something so much better for HIM.

        1. Emily, to

          S.,
          “But I don’t know if the folks like that see it that way. I don’t know if Evan’s friend would have thought so. He could have something so much better for HIM.”
          He probably figured it was easy access to sex and companionship. He was getting what he wanted. Why rock the boat?

        2. Jeremy

          I mostly agree with what you wrote here, S. But I would suggest one thing: If I had a partner who passively agreed to everything I wanted and then one day blew up because she felt the power balance was too askew, that she wasn’t getting what she wanted, I’d partly agree that it was her responsibility to let me know what she wanted, her responsibility to walk……But…I’d also acknowledge that I wasn’t a very perceptive partner, that perhaps I could have done better to be aware of my partner’s power balance and not just my own desires.

          Of course, this isn’t always the case. But I think it is more often than not. Honest question (and I’m very interested in your answer) – in those past relationships of yours where the men did what you wanted, was it that you were unaware that they weren’t getting what they wanted, that they were doing what they were doing for you, or did you have an inkling but felt it was their responsibility to speak up?

        3. S.

          It’s not wrong to be self-interested. If there is anything I’ve learned about dating is to be more self-interested, especially at the beginning. It’s not who I ever wanted to be in dating at any stage. But someone has to put my interests first and that someone is me. The guys I dated really did at first. But when things change some of them kept right on like everything was fine.. A lot broke with me up, though. If their needs–whatever they were–weren’t being met they rarely hesitated.

          I can be like that too until after sex. If a guy makes it that far, my needs are pretty much met. But then it changes and not in the right direction.

          But I know better now! It’s like a car. The moment it starts to drift over, alert! And if you can’t guide it back, get the heck outta that car! Like the old show used to say, “Danger, danger, Will Robinson!” Or another old show, “Sign post up ahead, the Limbo Zone.” And sadly not the fun one with a pole.

        4. S.

          Hi Jeremy. Long answer to your question. 🙂

          I’ll answer the last paragraph first. I dated pretty passive men. I liked it. I’m pretty strong and the polarity was as strong as it is when an alpha male finds that receptive female. Yummy. We were in the yum. Also, these were not men who date a ton of women. I liked that because there was an unspoiled quality to them. None of the jadedness or remembered hurt I sometimes find in older men. Aww, I still have fond memories. 🙂

          So for the few I mentioned–we were happy. I don’t know if we–and I do mean we–examined more than that in the beginning. You know the sexual haze in the beginning and it’s heightened if you don’t date much and the person treats you amazingly.

          And these two guys I’m thinking of in particular (who I remained friends with for a while post-break up so I know them quite well) liked having some direction. One had serious attention issues and I think he has undiagnosed ADD. I’m super-organized. He was late to our first date. And late to many more afterward. He didn’t mind me planning dates once we got past date 5 or 6. More on that in a sec.

          The other guy told me in words that he needed to be reminded to go out sometimes. He is a super-duper introvert and I met him online. I didn’t understand what he meant at first. It was an LDR and I just thought he meant that we didn’t hole up in the house having sex when we visited. (Which I woulda been content to do. ;-)) Later on, knowing him better, he really didn’t get out much. He didn’t mind me planning things to do.

          Back to that sec mentioned above. A less masculine male is still male. I enjoy planning but I started to fatigue on it. ADD guy tried but we ended up in some interesting situations when he led and I did nothing. Like late at night in the middle of nowhere because he insisted on walking me home. I ended up calling a cab because he got too exhausted. He had no cab number, nothing. So slowly the polarity switched. Men still want to be protectors and everything but it doesn’t come easily to everyone. And losing that polarity changes things. That said they remained kind throughout and a bear them no ill will.

          First paragraph last: My feeling in any relationship that’s going off track? Confusion. Utter confusion. Like Patricia described in her letter last week. There is so much analyzing and overthinking. That wasn’t there in the beginning when things moved things forward. But then things grind to a halt and he. won’t. say. anything. It’s madness, Jeremy. And he won’t move things forward. But he’s still kind and nice. We’re still friends in the relationship. The sexual attraction and sex itself still all right. So it feels weird to leave when both of you are still 70% happy.

          I bring things up. A lot. But the conversations become circular. He hears me. He can repeat it back. But he can’t (or won’t) do anything differently. He’s not happy because I’m confused and asking a lot of questions. But if I didn’t? He’d be . . . okay. And we have become friends who are having sex, but it’s still a good friend. Both of these dudes stood by me, after the breakups, through tough times.

          So self-interested, doesn’t necessarily mean a terrible, selfish person. But you still gotta go. I’m fairly perceptive and self-aware. And I’m a talker. I did my part, maybe even more than my part. But I couldn’t improve it on my own no matter how many times I brought it up or left it alone.

        5. Marika

          I agree Jeremy.

          It’s all well and good for us as adults to be mindful and responsible for our own needs and feelings, but I also feel like there is an implied social contract in dating and certainly in relationships. Maybe we all need to sign an oath, ‘first do no harm’. If someone has a specific set of needs beyond what would generally be expected, then you can’t necessarily intuit this and they would need to spell it out. But I don’t think you need to spell out, please don’t lie to me, use me, cheat on me, murder me, kill me.. etc. I exaggerate… 😉

          There are responsibilities on both sides. I feel ya, Jer Jer.

        6. Jeremy

          When I read your post, S., the thought occurred to me that “niceness” is much like confidence. It is an edifice, assumed to mean one thing when, in fact, it might mean something completely different.

          A woman looks at a confident man and assumes that his confidence means competence. Means an ability to provide what she wants – excitement, security, sexual satisfaction – whatever it is she thinks she wants, she’ll think the confidence signifies… Until proven otherwise. But a man might be confident at one specific thing for which he was trained, but not other things, the things she wants – his confidence doesn’t mean what she thinks. He might be confident because he feels lucky, feels protected by a supernatural power. Might be confident because he’s too stupid to realize he shouldn’t be, that his skills aren’t as good as he thinks, that he’d do well with more preparation. What a woman believes about a man by reason of his confidence might have nothing to do with why he is confident.

          In the same way, a woman might perceive a man as being nice, and make all sorts of assumptions that his niceness signifies agreement, compatibility, easy-goingness. Is he nice because he agrees with you, or because he’s too weak not to? Or because he’s strong enough to realize he doesn’t always have to? Is he nice because he knows his wants and is ok with them, or is he a man-child who is so unaware of his own wants that he’ll go along with anything until his emotions change… like a hungry dog following food?

          This is the problem in the definition of alpha and beta, S., the reason we are talking somewhat at cross-purposes. I define beta as comfort – genuine comfort, mature and strong agreeableness. Not as internal unawareness, self-blindness, going with the flow for fear of rocking the boat. That isn’t comfort because it can’t, by definition last. The hallmark of immaturity is that at some point it must give way to a more permanent state or else recur in a loop.

        7. Jeremy

          One other thing. When men are stressed out, we generally don’t like to talk. I know this is hard for many women to understand, because your brains both lead you to bond when stressed and also reward you emotionally for doing so. Mens brains lead us to flee from confrontation that we can’t overcome through strength, and do not reward us emotionally for conversational bonding. I consider myself to be a fairly evolved guy, but I still have to force myself to sit through the inevitable “talk” when my wife and I have a spat. And as her words seem to hit my forehead like tiny bullets, it’s all i can do to remain seated, to not check out. I tell myself that sitting through it will be the best thing for me, that checking out (as I’m very inclined to do) will lead to a poor outcome. But I can often barely formulate a coherent argument or discussion, often find my tone turning to anger as my reflexes down-shift to “fight” since I can’t flee. You think your bonding, but to us it feels like an attack. One we can’t win.

          You tried and tried to talk to these men, S., and they listened but didn’t move. They were under attack, your words were relentless. Of course, a good male partner realizes the value of conversion and makes an effort to meet you half way. How might a woman go the other half?

        8. S.

          @Marika with a ‘r’

          “If someone has a specific set of needs beyond what would generally be expected, then you can’t necessarily intuit this and they would need to spell it out.”

          Sarah’s boyfriend knows. Evan’s friend knew. My boyfriends knew. Patricia’s ex too. There was nothing here that was beyond what would generally be expected. Sarah’s been with him 15 months. Most of this is beyond typical.

          But if there was something unusual, I agree. Can’t expect someone to know that without words. But no one needs to explicitly state, “Please let’s move the relationship forward after one year.” or “Please let’s see each other more than once a week after four months.” And even if they do need to state that, in these letters, the OPs *did* taken their responsibility and stated pretty reasonable expectations to their boyfriends.

        9. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          ” I consider myself to be a fairly evolved guy, but I still have to force myself to sit through the inevitable “talk” when my wife and I have a spat. And as her words seem to hit my forehead like tiny bullets, it’s all i can do to remain seated, to not check out. ”
          So is it better to act like the argument never happened? To never discuss it and act like everything is fine? I grew up like that — we never talked about anything such as major family events, deaths of relatives — and I can’t live like that as an adult. It’s totally unhealthy. We never talked about it because it was easier and more comfortable for my father not to. If you brought something up that bothered you, he either got belligerent or acted as if he didn’t know what you were talking about, two classic deflective moves. So nothing was ever resolved. It isn’t to say that everything has to be talked over, but after an argument, yes, a discussion is necessary, even if it’s just to agree you’ll never agree and there’s no point in discussing it further.

        10. Jeremy

          That isn’t what I suggested, Emily. That isn’t a compromise because it isn’t a way to make anyone happy. It’s a way to minimize pain and by doing so, ensure the continued existence of pain.

          Conversations are sometimes necessary. This is where men meet women. But sometimes conversations aren’t necessary. Sometimes each partner knows full-well what the other one wants, and the purpose of the conversation is to get one’s way under the guise of attempting to compromise. I recall a recent comment by Lynx stating how, in retrospect, she could see that her attempts to listen and converse were actually semi-aggressive ways to get her way. That listening provided her with ammunition. If you know what your partner wants, why not just do it and skip the convo? Because even though the convo will make you feel bonded, it won’t make him feel that way necessarily. Or have the convo, but AFTER you already do what he wants. That’s my suggestion.

        11. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “Or have the convo, but AFTER you already do what he wants. That’s my suggestion.”
          I guess. If the woman wants to. But you assume the goal in those types of conversations is to get someone to do what you want. But it isn’t necessarily. When I have what I call a “difficult conversation” with someone, it’s sometimes just to express how I feel about something. I’m not expecting anything else but to be heard. But if it’s someone who can’t have a conversation like that, someone who uses deflective techniques like my dad, well … I couldn’t be married to someone like that. For the rest of my days, not to be heard or “go there” because we can’t discuss anything that may be uncomfortable.

        12. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, to

          “When I have what I call a “difficult conversation” with someone, it’s sometimes just to express how I feel about something.”

          Do you know what a woman does to man when she wants to have this kind of conversation? She forces him into a fight or flight situation. Men are not gifted in the way that woman are when it comes to this kind of conversation. A man does not hear how you feel. He hears that something is not right, so he needs to fix it. When he has to sit there and listen without trying to fix things, his hormonal response does not involve getting a hit of oxytocin out of the deal (i.e., the tend-and-befriend hormonal response that women possess). Instead, his cortisol level rises and his testosterone level drops, which is the “flight” response to stress. In essence, if you are waiting for a man who will listen to you express how you feel about something time and time again without affording him the opportunity to “fix” it, you will find yourself unhappy in most heterosexual relationships. I know about the tend-and-befriend response, and there are times where I cannot sit and just listen without trying to fix things. A large number of these types of conversations end up with the couple fighting because the man was not allowed to offer solutions to the problem or take flight (i.e., he is forced to shift into “fight” mode).

        13. Marika

          Re conversations, I agree that if it’s something you know your partner wants, it’s a reasonable ask and it’s been asked before, just to do it and not have some BS conversation.

          My housemate isn’t pulling his weight at home. My (helpful and nice) friends gave me lots of suggestions for what I could say to him to get him to do more stuff. I thought about it and decided I would honestly rather do that stuff myself than have the conversation. I would get all stressed about when to bring it up, hate the conversation, then he’ll do it..that time. ..but I know we’ll have to have the exact same conversation again later. It’s not worth it.

          I’m not a big fan of these talks myself..

          I even bought a book whilst married called ‘How to improve your marriage without talking about it’!
          Jer, maybe read that book in front of your wife 😉

          Maybe it was in that book or elsewhere it said men don’t like face to face discussions. They feel like interrogations. I tried talking about big stuff that HAD to be talked about on walks, next to my ex. That didn’t work. Apparently it’s a good way to have a chat to your grunting teen boy, though. So I tried it when lying next to him before bed. I’d stroke his arm. We were all warm and snuggled.
          He sometimes rolled over, but he always listened.

          These are extremes. Like Emeleeee, I didn’t grow up in a home that talked about much difficult stuff, or if we did it was a fight, so no role modelling. And my ex had the fight-or-flight sensitivity of a cat. But I was generally open to finding better ways. That book tells us that endlessly talking about stuff doesn’t improve a relationship. Agree. Jer, rather than just being open to discussing, though, the person (male or female) who hates these talks should probably be mindful not to do shitty things that make the other person want to talk. And talk-everything-outers, back off sometimes! 😉 K?

        14. Emily, to

          Marika,
          “And my ex had the fight-or-flight sensitivity of a cat. But I was generally open to finding better ways.”
          How? Doesn’t this all seem a bit too much? What are you supposed to do? Never have a serious conversation if you’re married? Aren’t these hoops to jump through just a bit much? I tell you, the Creator did humanity a big, big disservice because there is so little the genders have in common.

        15. Clare

          This is such a fascinating discussion!

          Unlike Marika and Emily, I grew up in a family where everything was talked to death, to the point of fighting. Both my parents were PhD university professors (my mother a professor of English literature) and could talk circles around you. They also talked *at* you rather than with you. Growing up, I really learned the meaning, in a visceral sense, of being thumped over the head with words and conversations.

          I realise this is an extreme, and not at all what Marika and Emily were talking about, but I do think it helped me to have a certain amount of empathy for the way men feel about deep, relationship-issue conversations. I still probably have a bit to learn in terms of the suggestions Jeremy made, but I think I’m understanding more and more how men feel about this.

          “When men are stressed out, we generally don’t like to talk. I know this is hard for many women to understand, because your brains both lead you to bond when stressed and also reward you emotionally for doing so…. But I can often barely formulate a coherent argument or discussion, often find my tone turning to anger as my reflexes down-shift to “fight” since I can’t flee. You think your bonding, but to us it feels like an attack. ”

          Gosh, I have noticed this! How often have I tried to talk to a man I am dating about a very small issue, one which I feel is very easily resolved or about which I just need to be “heard,” and it has devolved into defensiveness or anger on his part. I was always baffled by this – how a perfectly lovely guy who was all sweetness and calm only moments before suddenly looks like he could turn into the incredible hulk. In turn, I’d get bewildered and start backtracking, wondering what on earth I have done to provoke this response. It was all very confusing.

          I think the media, therapists, self-help books etc. do us a great disservice when they tell us that talking things out is the key to solving all our problems. Women generally have no problem talking about things, so we jump onto this advice with gusto. “Communication is the key to a healthy relationship” we’re told, and it is, but I think the *how* is important.

          I love Marika’s suggestion about waiting until you’re snuggled up in bed and stroking his arm.

          A strategy I’ve found to be particularly effective is to appeal to a guy’s masculinity while talking about something. I find men are much more receptive when you do this. So either, as Jeremy and YAG said, giving him a problem to solve and asking his advice (although this only works in a limited way when you are talking about issues between the two of you).

          Or, what I’ve found to be very effective is to boost his sense of masculinity. I first stumbled upon this when I was looking after two children, and the little boy was rather difficult and aggressive. He was playing with something dangerous and I knew he had no intention of putting it down if I told him to, so I said “I need you to be responsible about how you use that, because I know you would never want me or your sister to come to any harm.” Appealing to his protective side worked like a charm; he assured me that no, he would never let anything hurt us and put the thing away immediately. Whenever I appealed to his role as “the man” in our little group of three, this little boy became calm and responsible.

          I hate to talk about men as though they’re not here when there are men as part of this thread, but I’ve just found appealing to a man’s “better nature” to be very effective. For instance, if I say “I know you would never intentionally try to hurt me by doing x, y, z” or “I know you were only trying to a, b, c” to my boyfriend when I’m talking to him about something, he seems to calm down, and his defenses drop. At that point, he will usually tell me what he was thinking when he did whatever it was.

        16. Mrs Happy

          I would like to second Emily to’s request for male wisdom from the men reading this: “What are you supposed to do? Never have a serious conversation if you’re married?” (ETO)

          I conduct in-depth complex conversations with men every day at work, and none of them seem to have difficulty communicating, none of them rush into flight or fight mode, and sometimes these can be quite stressful, distressing conversations. All these men can clearly cope during work hours with all manner of intense verbal communication, both listening and talking, via written means, in person, and over the phone. They don’t seem to regress to flight and fight mode just because I’m bringing up stressful topics in the workplace and I’m a female.

          Do they get home and lose half their verbal IQ? Suffer blows to their ego because they want to be king of their household domain? Feel attacked because it’s their partner saying something? Are males really that sensitive and unresilient? Or is it they just can’t be bothered when it’s their partner? Why is there such a difference between males’ communication ability in the workplace, with friends, and at home with family?

          It is a serious question. If you have an ability, it doesn’t disappear when you walk through your front door, unless (methinks) you’ve a vested interest in it doing so.

        17. Jeremy

          @Clare, exactly. Communication is not the fish. A desire to agree is. A desire to truly compromise (and not just get your way while giving your partner something meaningless or distant) is. Communicating with this in mind will generally lead to better outcomes, as opposed to deluging your partner in your words and your feelings in an attempt to get him to capitulate.

          Mrs Happy, regarding your question/statement, please remember that our minds (and especially men’s minds) are generally compartmentalized. One of my favourite ideas stolen from Brene Brown is that while women’s societal source of shame revolves around their appearance, men’s shame revolves around weakness, failure. Telling a man that he’s a failure is tantamount to telling a woman she’s old and ugly. Having a conversation at work is not at all the same as having an emotionally-fraught conversation about a relationship because the latter revolves around the man’s instinct to provide and protect, his masculinity in the relationship. The woman tells him she’s unhappy, that something he’s done has made her feel angry….and he interprets that as a failure to be a man. To provide and protect. Her words are tiny bullets smashing into his forehead – “you’re a failure, you’re a failure, you’re weak – so let me tell you what to do.” Not at all the same as a work conversation. Work lives in our brains’ work-box. Relationships live in the relationship-box. Men struggle every day to maintain and improve their position in the male work-hierarchy. We hate failing, being one-down, but we are used to it, can claw our way back from it. But one you’re one-down in a relationship there’s no clawing your way back up. Because when she wants to talk, she doesn’t really want to talk. She wants you to listen when you want to offer suggestions. She wants you to do what she wants. Remember the list you sent your husband?

        18. Jeremy

          One further post to clarify:
          A woman tells her husband, “I’m SOOO hungry right now. I just wanted you to know how I feel.”
          Man translates her statement to man-speak – “Get me some fucking food.” Goes to restaurant and buys takeout. Her statement was NOT just a statement of feeling, it was a request for action couched in passivity. And that’s best-case scenario.

          Worst-case scenario is that it ACTUALLY was just a statement of feeling. That man comes back from restaurant with food, only to be berated by his wife for offering solutions and not just listening. She begrudgingly eats the food he brought and then says “I’m SOOO cold. I just wanted you to know how I feel.” But now he realizes that he shouldn’t take action on that statement, shouldn’t get up and raise the temp on the thermostat, he should just internalize that his wife is distressed….and feel like a failure, because his role (as he sees it) is to protect her, to ensure her comfort. He can not win. Because while sharing her emotions and obtaining his validation might make HER feel better, it generally makes him feel like shit. So in what way is it a compromise?

        19. S.

          I have seen that video before! It’s not about the nail. It really isn’t. She has to figure her stuff out on her own. Dude, I dated men who were much more in their feminine sometimes. I sometimes wanted to shout, “It’s the nail!” But I just listened. I’ve learned. People have to come to things on their own time. Or never. Hey, I own my stuff. Others have to own theirs.

          I still don’t see how that helps with a man who has no intention of committing, though. ‘Cause he already knows what he’s not gonna do. Or he may never know.

          From your other comments, it’s like you feel words are a weapon. They can be, but they don’t have to be. I know some pretty sensitive people (and I can be sensitive myself) so I’ve learned to be really gentle and non-judgmental. Men tell me all kinds of stuff and not just in bed.

          Asking someone to simply listen isn’t her getting her own way. It’s her nail, her head. And if she needs someone to listen while she figures that out, why shouldn’t she have that?

          That said, I’ve found there are different people for different needs. Esther Perel is right when she says we used to have a whole community of people and now we try to get needs met by a community to be met in one. single. person. While I don’t think communication/problem-solving styles should be a complete mismatch, there is something to say for talking things out with a more sympathetic ear. Other women, therapist, someone who like to listen. (Which isn’t all women, I’ve found.)

          But when it comes to a relationship that’s not moving forward . . . that’s not about her wanting to get her way. That’s about her wanting her needs and goals to be met and seeing if he can meet her there. She can talk to everyone else up the wazoo, but if there needs to be a CTJ talk (Brene Brown) or a talk that may lead to a breakup, I don’t see another way around communication.

      2. 1.1.2
        S.

        @ Jeremy

        I didn’t use the word nice, though. I used the word ‘kind’ a few times. Nice has a different connotation. I do think people can be nice and polite and generally agreeable, but that wasn’t what I meant here. That sort of niceness can be problematic, I agree. But that wasn’t what I meant.

        I also used the phrase “less masculine” male since I’m trying to get away from the term ‘beta’. I think that we all fall on a continuum. We all have masculine and feminine and express them to different degrees. The men I preferred were not totally centered feminine and not totally centered in typical masculine traits. They definitely were more in touch with their feminine sides at times. (Not all the time.) So . . . I was able to talk with them freely, much more than I usually can with men more centered completely in their masculine sides. I could talk about all sorts of difficult topics. But when it came to their feelings . . . they just didn’t know what they were doing. Or couldn’t figure out what to do. Which is fair. Sometimes you don’t know.

        I’ve met kind men more in their masculine too. It’s not an exclusive trait. 😉 About weak and strong. See, it depends on definitions. If you are in the middle of a difficult conversation with your partner and all systems say to run and you stay anyway and try to sort it through, that’s *my* definition of strong. It’s not fun for me, either. To feel that I’m the only one to try to solve problems, the only one trying their best to figure it out. I don’t always love these talks. I just haven’t figured out a better way rather than ‘intuiting’ things which you said above one shouldn’t rely upon.

        I’ve also tried letting a man’s actions speak louder than words. But in my experience, lack of words translate to lack of action. If you don’t know what to do, you don’t know. I’ve tried letting it be and not talking for a few months. It gives us breathing room but it doesn’t really solve the issues at hand. This goes for any relationship, friends, family. The only choices seem to be is to let some things go and just live with things as they are if you can, or leave. I try a myriad of things but have only found things to begin to improve after a conversation. Otherwise so many things are assumed, misunderstood, or simply unknown.

        Most of these situations are just not going to work out. So I’m not sure what you’re asking me then. Are you saying there is something a woman can do that she’s not doing to help the situation? Do you think these previous OPs had a chance of their relationship improving? I bring it back to the OPs because I don’t think there is anything else they could have done. But if you disagree, I’m open to hearing what you think they could do.

      3. 1.1.3
        S.

        @ Jeremy

        I’ll have to watch the video later at home. 🙂

        I think we understand. I think. But I haven’t heard a viable option from you of what to do actually in the case of a man not investing and not wanting a relationship at all, but wanting to stay in limbo anyway. If not talking, then what? If I’ve missed it, please let me know.

        A man already in a relationship is different. He’s invested. But if this a man is showing signs of no further commitment I don’t think a woman can be completely silent on that for months and years on end.

        So what strategies do you suggest?

        1. jo

          S, why would you need to hear a ‘viable option’ from anyone else to know what to do in that scenario you describe? Isn’t the answer obvious? Leave him.

        2. S.

          Thanks, Jo! That made me chuckle. I agree with you. 😉

          I feel Jeremy is trying to make a point and I’m trying to hear from him what alternatives he suggests. It’s not clear to me what he’s suggesting, though. I feel we are at crosspurposes somehow.

          Usually the women who write letters to Evan start with talking to their boyfriends. Jeremy has suggested that that is like something akin to torture and I simply asked what other strategies he suggests with these particular scenarios.

          This is a case where I am simply curious what another person would advise. Like really what else women can do. Other women have chimed in with suggestions, but I’m curious what other men think too.

        3. jo

          S, thanks for explaining. I hope the scenario you described is not one you are personally in right now!

          For that scenario, it just seems best to dump him if he isn’t investing in the relationship, doesn’t want a relationship at all… why would anyone stay? But for a men who is invested, I’ve found that this type is open to talking about things even if it isn’t his natural way of being, if something is bothering the woman and he thinks he can help. I haven’t figured out what if we just want to vent about something that has nothing to do with him and if he can’t help. Maybe best to save that for our girlfriends.

        4. Emily, to

          S.,
          “Jeremy has suggested that that is like something akin to torture and I simply asked what other strategies he suggests with these particular scenarios.”
          Have sex with him, give him some chocolate cake, speak monosyllabiclly and very quickly. You have 3 minutes. 🙂

        5. S.

          @ ETO

          If he can get me satisfyingly off in three minutes, we both deserve some cake and monosyllables! 😉

        6. Emily, to

          S.,
          “If he can get me satisfyingly off in three minutes, we both deserve some cake and monosyllables! ”
          I meant that you have 3 minutes to have your “serious” talk after sex and cake. Any longer and he will start to tune you out. Or feel like he’s being attacked or power-manipulated or want to run , etc.

        7. Jeremy

          As she asks to be heard, she is refusing to listen. She wants what she wants with no regard to what he wants, not does she think she should have to. So saying that she just wants to be heard isn’t telling the full story. She might not be consciously aware of the power struggle, most women are not, but she is extremely aware of the balance. As he makes his suggestions she veers the conversation wildly back to her prerogatives kisses him only when she gets her way. Look at what you yourself wrote, in fact, that if you had a partner who perceived a power imbalance, you’d be very open to hearing about it, talking about it. Talking is the problem! If he has to broach it in conversation he already at a disadvantage. He’s in your home field. You aren’t offering to have sex, to arm wrestle, to race for it. Cause you’d lose. You want to resolve the issue by talking. Cause that’s what you’re good at. An arm wrestle would resolve the argument as easily as a conversation of both partners would abide by the result 🙂

          I tell you, S., much worse than a partner who always vies for power is one who does so while denying doing it. To her partner and to herself. How many people does this describe? How many don’t know it?

        8. Jeremy

          The arm wrestling thing is, of course, facetious. If that was how my wife and I solved our disputes, I’d never lose… And she never be happy.

          I guess that’s my point to the women here, after all my long-winded diatribe. In your past, after a “talk” with your bf, you may have felt better, heard, bonded. Happier. How did your bf feel? Did you think to wonder, or did you assume he felt happy because you did? I’ll end my comments here with that question.

        9. S.

          @Jeremy

          I’d thumb wrestle? 😉 As I said, I’m open to options. But since I’ve never wrestled in my entire life, that’s just not something that would occur to me. But if these options were presented as a road to problem solving, I’d consider them.

          And yes, as I said before the men I date enjoy talking, just not always about emotional stuff they have to act upon. I asked one and he confirmed it, he loved talking with me. It’s special subset of men because I talk a lot. 🙂 And I do ask and check in about it. Not just with dates, everyone. Like meets like.

          Hmm. I never thought of resolving an emotional situation by wrestling. See, now if *he* had the nail in his head, sure, let’s wrestle if that makes him feel like he’s got a handle on the issue afterward. I never suggested talking for a man who has a problem, even men who like to talk.

          Thanks for ‘talking’ with me. I understand what you are saying. And it also brings home to me how I end up dating the men I date.

          Very interesting!

      4. 1.1.4
        Jeremy

        Your right. It’s not about the mail. It’s about power. They are having a conversation, but she is restricting what he can say based on what she wants and doesn’t want to hear. He is not restricting what she can say. This is not a conversation, it’s a manipulation to get what she wants regardless of what he wants. And she is willing to be close to him at the end, only after getting her way.

        It’s not about the op. Her situating had to end, there was no compromise. I’m talking about gendered perspectives of conversation on general. It’s not that men aren’t willing to have serious discussions. It’s that we react poorly to conversations where the base assumption is the woman’s correctness.

        1. Jeremy

          Just re-read that. Damn autocorrect disaster :(. Hopefully the meaning was clear regardless.

        2. S.

          Ah. Mercury is now direct and not in retrograde. I can finally more fully understand what you are saying. 🙂

          – We agree it’s not about the nail.
          – It’s about power? I don’t see that, but it’s interesting that you do. I think she wants him to listen like her friends do. She wants him to be her lover and her best friend. In friendships with women, listening isn’t about power.
          – If he doesn’t want to listen, maybe she’s not the right girlfriend for him? Why date someone that can’t talk about the obvious nail in her head? That’s frustrating as all get out.
          – A lot of women bond during talking. Kind of like how some people (men and women) bond during sex. So yeah, like men are more receptive after sex, she’s more receptive after talking.

          People have different needs and just need to find the right match. I don’t see the power struggle in the video that you do. I see two people with different needs who aren’t right for one another. When you’re with the right person, it clicks and there isn’t all of this . . . struggle. If I sense a power struggle with folks, I usually leave. Or if all the rest is excellent and the issue minor, I acquiesce. I still talk, though. 😉

          “I’m talking about gendered perspectives of conversation on general.”
          I wish you had said this earlier! I was so confused because I was talking strictly about the OP so I didn’t understand why or when the subject had changed. It’s been such a common letter to Evan lately, I thought you had other ideas on what to do about it.

          Glad we agree Sarah should leave!

        3. Jeremy

          Not to beat a dead horse, S., but the fact that you (and likely most women, I think) don’t see this as a power issue is exactly the problem. Because men sure as hell do.

          Consider what each person in the video is saying. She presents a list of complaints, hoping that he will listen and empathize. He does listen and offers his opinion on what she could do to feel better. But then she not only disagrees with him, she tells him what to say, how to be. She doesn’t just say, “No, I think I’ll leave the nail in place” in which case he can just tell her to F-off and not bother him anymore, since she’s not listening to him anyway. She’s saying “Not only will I leave the nail in place, but how dare you even suggest I remove it, how dare you say or think anything except what I want you to? From now on, when I come to you with a problem, THIS is what you do, ’cause that’s what I want. And then I’ll hug you.” Huh? Imagine if men acted that way. Husband: “Honey, I had a really hard day at work.” Wife: “Oh, that sounds really hard, let’s talk about it.” Husband: “Na-ah. No talkie. Blowjob. Whenever I come to you with a problem, just blowjob, even if you think talking would help more.” Honestly, that’s what the world would look like if men stood on their prerogatives like women do. And all the disempowered women would complain that this makes them feel frustrated, but the men would fail to see the imbalance.

          Mrs Happy asked why emotional conversations should differ from work conversations. At work, the hierarchy is defined: Your boss tells you what to do, you do it. Your subordinate makes a suggestion, you consider it but you’re in charge. Your equal makes a suggestion you consider it, but again they don’t tell you what to do. But tell me, in a relationship of supposed equals, if one partner insists on telling the other not just her opinion but what he must actually do, no discussion allowed until that baseline of acceptance is reached, is she his equal or his superior for all intents and purposes? Whether or not she acknowledges it or feels that way?

        4. Jeremy

          One last thing. While good relationships should be easy, even the best of relationships will have the type of struggle presented in this video. That’s why it garnered hundreds of thousands of likes and millions of views. Because it is ubiquitous. It is unrealistic in the extreme (IMHO) to think that a good relationship is one where such a conflict does not exist. Men are men, women are women, differences will crop up. A good relationship is one where both partners recognize the power imbalances of the other and rectify them. Whether or not they are consciously aware that’s what they’re doing.

        5. S.

          @Jeremy

          This is not so much a dead horse to me since I’ve recently made a switch in my brain to this a whole different topic. (The question from the OP was the former topic.) So in my new frame of mine it’s new to me. 🙂

          I will speak from my experience, not from ‘all’ women cause women are so very different. What I said in my previous comment is that women are this way with other women and with men more in their feminine space. So it feels natural to a woman. There are power struggles, but not about listening when someone vents. And it’s usually enjoyable.

          Most of my primary relationships that nourish me have been with women. From my mom forward. So please understand that a power struggle about simply listening is very odd to me. You have no idea how many friends and family I’ve listened to. Without nails in their heads but in almost as painful situations. I can’t do anything. They just have to go through it. They won’t listen if you try to steer to suggestions. I’ve been on the other side of this too. In an emotional space, I need to get it out. Writings, talking, somehow. Then after that I have space to hear. It’s nice when we are present with one another.

          But even as I wrote my previous comment, I was vaguely aware that men maybe in a different place. Also realize I spend a lot of time with men who have no problem expressing their feminine sides. So I’m not in that very male space often.

          Women do have power struggle among our selves. And some folks aren’t listeners. They just move on, kind of like we agree Sarah should do. There has to be compromise, as you said.

          “see this as a power issue is exactly the problem. Because men sure as hell do.”
          Maybe men see a lot of competition because that’s a dynamic they are in often at work, sports, etc. Always trying to win. I don’t feel that way most of the time. And I don’t want to feel that way in my intimate relationships if I can do something about it.

          I just think she simply wanted to be heard. That’s it. No suggestions. So she interrupted when she felt she wasn’t being heard. Even though her problem was pretty obvious. You and I may see things differently about the nail video.

          In a way you’re saying that there is some subtle vying for control in every relationship. I won’t say there isn’t. But I will say that in my perception that’s pretty low-level. If I had an intimate partner or even a really good friend that said they were feeling a serious power differential in our relationship, I would definitely be open to hearing that. In fact, it would be so refreshing for someone to be so honest with me and bring that up.

          What happens more often is that people don’t want to bring things like this up. I know I don’t unless I want to end things. If you are seeing competition, and you see yourself as ‘losing’ it just feels crappy to make that explicit in conversation. Like losing again. Like I said, I understand that.

          I just don’t truly see things this way most of the time. You win some, you lose some. I’ve redefined what success is. And I have to find a partner willing to redefine some things too. I also think that if there is too big a swing in a power differential, it might not be wise to date that person. (I’m thinking boss/employee, a 20 year age gap, things like that. Not a hard and fast thing but if a person is sensitive to issues of power something to consider.)

          If a man doesn’t want to listen to a woman with a nail in her head, he is free not to listen. Again, I either leave or acquiesce if it’s not that important. Other men might just let her leave it there. She’s not really forcing him to stay. (Plus, it’s a woman with a nail she doesn’t want to remove! Her judgment is clearly skewed.) It’s about what each person can live with. But he is free to leave too and find someone who will pull the nail out, goodness.

  2. 2
    Patricia

    Yes, run away. I broke up with him after I heard things like “I don’t know what the future holds. Just enjoy the present” (which, to a point, he’s right about. I tend to the anxious side and he’s taught me that I need to relax.) He also said that he preferred when my kids were in town (because I was less available). Yet he was so kind, warm, affectionate and fun when we were together that it was really hard to let him go. And the way I did wasn’t right. I should have been clearer earlier on about what was bothering me, instead of bending myself to accommodate his need for space, and then ending things abruptly.

    I get it that if you’re an achiever you want to fix things, you think it’s you, you want to control things by being understanding and flexible, but listen to Evan’s advice and your own gut feeling. It will hurt to walk away but some things are just not repairable. After you break up you’ll second guess yourself but remind yourself that if you went back things would be exactly the same. I’ll be thinking of you and sending you warm vibes.

    Some of the people in this group are lovely and supportive, too, so feel free to write.

    1. 2.1
      Emily, to

      Patricia,
      “I don’t know what the future holds. Just enjoy the present”
      I’ve used this line and I’ve heard this line, and what it really means is: I don’t see a future here. You wouldn’t say that to someone you really wanted to be with. It’s the equivalent of “let’s take it slow.”

  3. 3
    Emily, to

    S.,
    “But one thing that’s good about this dude–which is a lot of dudes, though not all of them–once you see the selfishness for what it is, you don’t want them anymore or want to go back.”
    Yeah, I agree. Once you see the depth of the selfishness, doesn’t it make you recoil? As in … he’s just riding the gravy train for as long as he can. Doesn’t that make you see him in a completely different light? In a way that you don’t even like him anymore as a person.

  4. 4
    Noquay

    Yep, do what’s right for yourself; in this case, it should’ve been when he’d lied about his marital status in month #3.

  5. 5
    Noquay

    Yep, do what’s right for yourself; in this case, it should’ve been bailing when he’d lied about his marital status in month #3.

  6. 6
    Lisa

    I really do think it’s that simple, but she just has to get to that point herself. She has not wasted that much time in this relationship, but she need not waste more and live with regrets. I think sometimes we think well we have invested 21 months, we should not give up. Or maybe if we just change or do this or do that he will change his mind. He won’t. This is not in anyway in her control. He just does not want to marry her. I don’t know why, he may not even know why, and we will never find out. But the good news is there are plenty of men out there that DO want to marry her. So get out there and find those men.

  7. 7
    Kevin

    The bottom line in all of this, thread after thread, time and time again is clearly….men can for an indefinite amount time enjoy a relationship without the thought of marriage in the future to keep them in it…which as man makes me wonder can women only be in a relationship if marriage is potentially pending…and at that point is who the guy is really matter or do u just need any random guy to stand next to u in a tux to complete your fantasy…ladies just remember men dont dream about marriage

    1. 7.1
      Antonia

      “Ladies just remember men dont dream about marriage” – no, a lot of you want children though, don’t you. You’d be lucky to find a woman who would change her life and body irreversibly, take a lifetime drop in earnings, risk never returning to work, etc…. only to not share the surname with her own child.

      1. 7.1.1
        Kevin

        There is truth to your response…unfortunately for both men and women there is NO middle ground or is there?

    2. 7.2
      S.

      “men can for an indefinite amount time enjoy a relationship without the thought of marriage in the future to keep them in it…”

      There are women who are like this as well. Why not like find like? The men who can don’t want marriage in the future date the women who don’t want it in the future as well.

      But . . . if a woman states that she does want marriage and a man doesn’t, there really isn’t anywhere she can go with that. Look what happened to Evan’s friend’s ex. She waited five years. He knew all along he never saw himself as her husband.

      I’ll put it another way. Say you are a lawyer at a firm for ten years. You feel you hit a plateau. There isn’t a senior role for you there. You’ve asked, review after review. You perform well, better than well, but still no progress. You’re getting older, harder to start over. Should you continue to stay because they are content with you where you are? They aren’t dreaming about you having a senior role in that firm. Your choice is to accept that and stay or get out and get out while you’re still young enough to make your goals.

      A mismatch is a mismatch. If both parties aren’t happy, it’s not a fantasy to want to be happy and meet your personal goals. In a new situation.

      1. 7.2.1
        mara

        simple, because FAR more men are commitmentphobes and ‘live in the present’ than women.

        1. Stephanie

          In my experience many of these men still want a commitment-minded woman because they aren’t attracted to or can’t handle women who are confident enough to say they don’t want a serious relationship up front.

          There are also a lot of guys who want a serious relationship but choose not to marry for various reasons. (I think we all agree they should be honest about it from the start.) Then add in all the people who don’t know what they want and it gets really hard to find someone with like goals.

  8. 8
    Yet Another Guy

    Here is a case where the advice to never date a separated or recently divorced man applies. I do not know why the LW’s boyfriend settled into a long-term relationship before he even finalized his divorce. Dating is one thing; however, getting involved with a woman who is looking for a man to marry was ridiculously short-sighted on his part.

    1. 8.1
      Marika

      LW is probably hot.

      1. 8.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @Marika

        “LW is probably hot.”

        Or the LW’s boyfriend is not. 🙂

        I cannot imagine a man who is just getting out of a marriage getting involved with a woman who is looking to get married. I knew that I needed to get a lay of the land when I re-entered the dating pool. That meant not settling on the first hot woman I dated. I wound up with a woman who is not remotely like what I thought I wanted when I left my marriage. This blog (yes, I actually read what women write here) combined with a lot of dating (I met over 100 women) and reading a lot of books afforded me the opportunity to discover what I needed from a woman as well as what I was capable of giving a woman. My current relationship is the easiest relationship I have had in my life and it just keeps getting better. To my surprise, I am preparing to move in with her. I wanted to wait at least a year; however, my lease came up before a year passed, and I did not want to wait another year. Her girlfriends say that I make her sparkle, which is completely new to me. I feel very fortunate to have met her because she is very smart, very successful, and she leads with a high level of feminine energy. The sex is fantastic. We enjoy each other’s company. I can honestly say that it is the first time in my life where my best friend is my lover. Those two never used to go together. I had women who I desired sexually and women from whom I only desired friendship.

        1. Jeremy

          Lol. “Lay of the land.”

          Glad things are working out for the two of you, YAG. Wishing you happiness.

        2. Lynx

          YAG: “I cannot imagine a man who is just getting out of a marriage getting involved with a woman who is looking to get married.”

          So many people of both genders don’t take the time after a break to process what happened and intentionally shift their approach to new relationships. It’s always inspiring to hear a success story.

      2. 8.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        I bet “hot” explains half of the behaviour we all debate on here. If not more.

        1. Lynx

          I dunno, Mrs H. I would bet “fear of being alone” explains the other half, at least.

        2. Selena

          Mrs. H: “I bet “hot” explains half of the behaviour we all debate on here. If not more.”

          Lynx: “I dunno, Mrs H. I would bet “fear of being alone” explains the other half, at least.”

          I speculate it’s a combo of those as well possibly a few others.

          -Finding someone one genuinely “clicks with ” can be few and far between. Why dismiss that because the person is married/separated/recently divorced? You don’t move, you lose?

          -Some people are accustomed to being coupled and seek that out when a relationship ends because it is their comfort zone.

          -If the previous relationship lacked attention/affection/sex/emotional intimacy…getting that from someone new can be intoxicating.

          -The idea if someone has been married, they have “proven” they can commit so that makes them a good bet as a partner?

          In the OP’s case, I wonder if the fact they are both 34 and neither have children may also be a factor. She’s ready to have a family, he thinks he has plenty of time for that in the future?

  9. 9
    Rampiance

    In case Jeremy is still reading these comments…. there was no “reply” option on his comment where he posed the question, “…a good male partner realizes the value of conversion and makes an effort to meet you half way. How might a woman go the other half?”

    I used to go on and on, trying to bond with my husband by drenching him in words. We went in repetitive circles and I couldn’t figure out how to resolve any of the issues that we argued about and we were both miserable.

    Eventually, he noticed a pattern and when he detected the beginning of a tsunami, he said, “Can you condense your question/statement into 5 minutes?”

    At the time, I thought that was so mean, but it was the only way he would consent to begin the conversation, so I worked on it. Sometimes it took days to condense my thoughts. But during that time, I cleared up my own thoughts. Eventually, during these solitary editing sessions, I listened to my “voice” and when I heard the powerlessness of whining or moaning, I dug further into my manure to find more to refine and condense.

    Although he and I split long ago, I got so good at this technique that I now use it everywhere always. I can now state any grievance in 2 or 3 sentences. It helps conversations SO MUCH because I pass over so much utter nonsense on my own and state the true essentials in one breath.

    So, dear Jeremy, that’s what a woman can offer.

    1. 9.1
      Jeremy

      Rampiance, you wrote, “I used to go on and on, trying to bond with my husband by drenching him in words….I couldn’t figure out how to resolve any of the issues that we argued about and we were both miserable.” Question – were you trying to BOND with him, or trying to resolve an argument? Trying to equalize the power-scales, or trying to get your way (while offering him something you cared less about)? It is easy to bond with someone who has given you your way….harder with one who hasn’t.

      One other quick point – if a man wants to watch the baseball game on tv and the woman wants to watch home and garden, is the compromise to watch only 15 minutes of home and garden? Or is it to watch 15 minutes of home and garden and 15 of baseball? In the same way, I’d posit that a woman can offer more than just a condensation of her words, honing the point of her words to razor-sharpness. Instead, she could put down her weapon, realizing that her opponent is relatively unarmed.

      1. 9.1.1
        Rampiance

        Jeremy ~ Directly below this subthread, YAG wrote a description of the difference between boy talk and girl talk. That’s the essence of how I condensed my words: I drilled down to the core problem that caused my upset, and that gave both of us something to solve instead of going around in endless circles of emotion. Basically, I modified my talk to reduce my emotional confusion so we could orient to factual content.

  10. 10
    Yet Another Guy

    @ETO

    “I tell you, the Creator did humanity a big, big disservice because there is so little the genders have in common.”

    The difference in stress response has nothing to do with a creator. It has everything to do with selective pressure. Women who expressed the tend-and-befriend response survived and passed their genome on to their children who also survived because tending and befriending is how women and their children survived when the men were not around. On the other hand, men were protectors and providers. Men who could problem solve under life threatening stress survived and so did their offspring. That is why the male mind automatically shifts into problem solving mode when confronted with a stressful situation. The male mind is programmed to remove the stressor. It is the reason why men get it all wrong when they are with a woman who just wants to talk about how she feels when she is stressed. He hears that she is stressed and his mind automatically shifts over thinking of ways to remove the stressor.

    John Gottman has a great example of how differently men and women deal with stress in his book entitled “The Man’s Guide to Women.” He used children at play.

    “Learn from the Children

    First, let’s watch the 8-year-old boys. Boys at this age tend to play run and chase games with a ball. An example is a made-up game called Mob. One boy would get the ball and it was the job of about 30 other boys to chase him as a group and take the ball away from him in any way they could. Once “mobbed,” the boywould either hang on to the ball or pass it to a friend, who then became “it” and the subject of the chase. The boys needed a large area to play this game. The main activity was running like hell. They were very serious about the game, but there was also a lot of laughter. But once in a while a boy got overly emotional. Most of the time the kids just ignored this disruption and kept playing the game, hoping it would work itself out. But sometimes the boys would deal directly with the emotion. For example, one day a kid named Brian started to cry, loudly. Another kid, Gabe, who was sort of the self-appointed captain of this semi-organized chaos, stopped everyone by shouting, “Hey everyone! Stop!” and went over to Brian. “What’s the matter?” he asked. Brian, through his tears, said, “I never get the ball.” Gabe then shouted to the other kids, “Let’s go! Only this time Brian gets the ball. Here’s the ball. Okay, you’re it, Brian. Let’s go!” And they were off. Problem solved. Emotions dealt with. The goal of the boys was to keep the ball in play no matter what the cost. Emotions just got in the way of the game. Crying was like an unwelcome leech that had landed on someone and was messing up the fun. The goal was to get rid of the leech and continue the play. This seems to be true of males whether they are 8 or 48. The goal for men is generally dispensing with the emotion so that the play and fun(relationship) can continue.

    Now, let’s observe the 8-year-old girls on the same playground. Lisa and Kathy are playing hopscotch when Kathy starts to cry. “What’s wrong?” asks Lisa. “You hurt my feelings,” says Kathy. “How did I do that?” asks Lisa. Kathy explains that she wanted Lisa to wear the same barrette in her hair that Kathy had on, and she had brought an extra one from home especially for Lisa. She was hoping that Lisa would wear it as a sign that they were bestfriends. Lisa says she doesn’t like to wear barrettes in her hair. Kathy cries harder. “But I do want to be best friends,” says Lisa.

    It doesn’t stop there. The girls go on to review how they first met and how they became friends. They talk about doing a sleepover, plan whose house it is going to be at, and discuss what they might do together during the sleepover. They decide to one day marry brothers, so they can become sisters. This goes on and on. The game of hopscotch is long forgotten. It is only a context for the relationship. And emotions are a way of getting closer. They are the stuff ofintimacy, and that’s the real reason the girls play the game: The feeling of connection with one another. The actual game is okay, but it’s often just a mask for exploring the closeness of the relationship. For the girls, the goal isn’t the game and stopping the play isn’t a drawback or a disruption of the fun. Emotions are not a problem for girls. They are a good thing, an opportunity for intimacy. To girls, expressing the feelings requires taking a risk, opening up, and trusting one another. It’s a good sign that the relationship is deepening. Eventually, Kathy and Lisa may solve the barrette problem. Lisa may agree to keep the barrette in her pocket. But the solution, if they ever determine one, is not even important.”

    I have reached the conclusion that when most men call a woman a “drama queen” what they are really saying is that is she is a highly emotional woman who always wants to talk about her emotions, most of which are negative emotions. Men love to avoid negative emotions because they cannot process them very well, if at all.. Have you ever noticed that your guy has no problem listening to you talk about how happy you are and why? Yet, when you talk about emotions such as sadness, disappointment, and insecurity, he tries to remove the stressor or takes flight.

    1. 10.1
      Emily, to

      YAG,
      I had four construction workers turn their heads as I walked into Wendy’s today. That made my day. Young, cute dudes. “Dude” dudes. I’m don’t care about communication between the sexes right now. 🙂

      1. 10.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @ETO

        Well, wanted attention is always good for the soul.

    2. 10.2
      Clare

      YAG,

      “The actual game is okay, but it’s often just a mask for exploring the closeness of the relationship. For the girls, the goal isn’t the game and stopping the play isn’t a drawback or a disruption of the fun. Emotions are not a problem for girls. They are a good thing, an opportunity for intimacy. To girls, expressing the feelings requires taking a risk, opening up, and trusting one another. It’s a good sign that the relationship is deepening.”

      This is why we will have “girls nights” where literally all we will do is talk and share and bond. 🙂

      This is why I can get away with talking and verbalising my feelings about something which hurt/annoyed me MUCH more with my girlfriends than I can with my boyfriend.

      It’s a luxury we can indulge with other women, that we cannot with men.

      1. 10.2.1
        Clare

        Come to think of it, when I am going through a difficult time, the women in my life will say things like “I’m here if you need to talk,” “Get it all off your chest,” “Let me come over for wine/coffee and we can talk about it.”

        The men in my life (all good guys) will listen, but go kind of blank or cold as they offer solutions. Once they have exhausted all possible solutions, they want to change the subject or do something else!

        I have learned not to take it personally. Guys definitely can offer support, it’s just of a different kind.

    3. 10.3
      jo

      YAG, you know how we can tell that you are in a great relationship now? Because this is one of the most sympathetic comments you’ve written on Evan’s blog. 🙂 You didn’t tell women to change. You even debunked (I think) the label of ‘drama queen.’

      It’s definitely true that when I’ve tried telling bfs about negative things, even if they aren’t about him, he will seem defensive or not want to engage. Or they will offer advice immediately. Actually I like this, because they cut right to a possible solution. Then again, they don’t always engage when I share positive things either, they just seem glad – and everything is calm.

      And it’s very rare for men to share negative things unless they are suffering pretty badly. We women want to help them, but don’t have an open door to do so. Only a few men complain all the time, and no one respects them or thinks them very manly. But maybe that attitude needs to change so that when men do suffer, it’s less likely that suffering in silence could lead to worse harm.

    4. 10.4
      AdaGrace

      Hm, this may be why most of my friends are (and almost always have been) men. Bluntly, I find endlessly dwelling on emotions boring as hell and fing it gets in the way of enjoying the friendship or solving whatever problem is briefly causing one or both of us not to enjoy the friendship.

    5. 10.5
      Mrs Happy

      YAG @ “That is why the male mind automatically shifts into problem solving mode when confronted with a stressful situation. The male mind is programmed to remove the stressor.”
      In my experience it is IQ, not gender, that is more predictive of success in problem solving and removing a stressor.
      General IQ for general life tasks, emotional IQ to emotionally navigate.

      “Men who could problem solve under life threatening stress survived and so did their offspring.”: I’d respectfully suggest the first word should be ‘people’ – men didn’t have the monopoly on problem solving for survival.

      1. 10.5.1
        Yet Another Guy

        @YAG

        “I’d respectfully suggest the first word should be ‘people’ – men didn’t have the monopoly on problem solving for survival.”

        However, fossil evidence proves that men were subjected to higher levels of risk of injury or death than women when these traits were selected under pressure (damage to one’s skeleton during life does not lie). We are talking about pre-civilization mankind. That reality does not preclude women from making different adaptations. If that were true, then men would also have the tend and befriend stress responses, which they do not.

        That being said, I will give you that IQ is a better indicator of being able to solve problems, that is, until high levels of stress due to imminent danger are added to the equation. My ex-wife has a high IQ as well as a high EQ; however, her brain completely shuts down in the face of danger. I know men who are not the brightest bulbs on the porch. Yet, they can problem solve in the face of danger. Even John Gottman included a section of his book about how differently women experience fear than men. Women experience real fear on the regular basis. Men rarely experience real fear. We are not just talking about day-to-day environmentally-induced fear. We are talking about phobias too. The reality is that selective pressure resulted in these differences.

        1. Mrs Happy

          My imagination runs to uncomfortable ends thinking of those fossil records showing the average life expectancy of primitive groups was late teens. I can’t picture the self-absorption of such a community. Having babies from 13. Lots of the girls dying in childbirth. Infants then being raised by mid-teens who weren’t the invested mother (as much as a 14 y o can be invested in another). Entire groups led by 18 year old boys and girls. Lord of the narcissistic, brain-still-immature flies indeed….unless they were a lot more mature than every teenager I’ve ever met.

          YAG, your daughter is about to be trained to run emergency resuscitations with nary a spike in her heart rate. It’s not her extra X chromosome or lack of a Y that will allow her to handle stress, it’s her IQ and molding. The person and life events shape response to catastrophe far more than gender, in every real life example I’ve ever seen.

  11. 11
    Gallilee

    I’m in the age range of the men mentioned in the OP – i have to say the advice to move on is for the best. I don’t think there’s any intentional malice or selfishnessness or anything from the guys in these situations, but at this age men’s and women’s approaches to relationships seem to be diverging quite sharply.

  12. 12
    S.

    Hey Jeremy!

    This is not about the OP, but about conversations and gender. So I went out to an over-40 event tonight. I knew there would be dancing and I don’t really know how to dance so it’s awkward for me. But I remember host who had moved was in town but because people love him, events where he’s there are full of people, especially men.

    I wasn’t wrong. Even though there were were more women than men and more men came late, it wasn’t so starkly divided. Guess what? I noticed a lot of well-dressed women sitting alone. So I started sitting with them and inviting a few women to my table. I just wondered why would you come to an event (it was a meetup) and not get up and meet people? The men were mostly dancing and the women were mostly sitting–talking to each other, or on their phones. Some women left without talking to anyone or just talking to their friends.

    A few men came up to me, mostly the co-host who introduced me (he knew one of the women I sat next to) to some men and another guy who was a serious flirt and extrovert. The extrovert kept asking me to dance and I demurred because well, I don’t want to be Elaine Bennett up there!

    But guess what? There is one song I liked and I remember getting my new friend and the guy who had been asking up on the dance floor and while she felt awkward, he was delighted. I didn’t stay long (they stopped my song) but I realized something. Dancing reminded me of . . . wrestling. 😉 It’s not something I do well. And while it’s not like torture, it used to provoke anxiety in me. It still does but I got up there anyway. And I realized–I probably should take dance lessons. The story I had been telling myself for years was that I didn’t dance, I didn’t like it, wouldn’t do it and well, no. But I saw what attention the few dancing women got. And I also remembered something else–my second love language is physical touch. Through self-awareness and meditation I’ve learned to manage my emotions better. Once I minimized the anxiety and quieted the old story, I realized it can be fun and it was nice to be touched even casually.

    I know, everyone knows this already, but we all have things we are awkward or insecure about. Not practiced in. For me it’s dancing and for some it’s talking. It was so interesting how so many men were standing up and so many women were sitting talking. It reminded me of what you and I had talked about here. I realized I had to meet the men halfway, do something I found awkward because they didn’t come there to sit around talking and I didn’t come there just to meet women.

    When I left the guys I had met hugged me goodbye and genuinely seemed sorry I was leaving early. That was great! (I love hugs.) So I just wanted to thank you for our discussion here. And for mentioning wrestling. It all didn’t fall on deaf ears. Because I know how important physical touch is to me, how I sometimes need that wordless communication of the body, crave it actually, I really do understand. I had just forgotten. I kept thinking my primary love language would be words of affirmation. And it’s not, each time I take the quiz. It’s Quality Time and Physical touch.

    Sometimes I just need to get out of the house and get out there with real people and put my lessons learned here into action! So much fun. I will be going to more meetups with this group. 😉

    1. 12.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @S.

      Can you follow the beat in a song? If so, you can learn to dance well. Dancing is a fun, non-threatening way to meet members of the opposite sex. I am not big on ballroom-style dancing, but I did my fair share of club dancing when I was younger. Why? Because that was where the hot women went on Thursday through Saturday night. 🙂

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