Should I Take Him Back if He’s “Working on Himself”?

I just turned 32 and my ex broke up with me a month ago. He’s almost 40, and if we talk about attachment styles, I’m more anxious and he’s more avoidant. (I say this because it was an issue in our relationship.) In the beginning of our relationship, (the first 4 months), things were great – we traveled, he courted me, I was treated like a princess. I even recall telling my friends the following, “wow, this guy is literally eating out of my hand. He’s in love.” I then followed my gut (long story), but let’s say I saw some text exchanges with his ex-girlfriend and saw he took her out a few times behind my back. He even spent a night “cuddling her.”

I forgave him, and we pressed on. I bet this was my mistake. The next 6 months were rocky. I was really struggling to trust him and every time we took one step forward, we took two steps back. He started going to therapy and some things changed – he started drinking less, his anger improved, he wasn’t kicking me out anymore after a fight, we weren’t triggering each other as much, etc.

Then there was a breaking point: he didn’t answer my calls one time when he was out, and he admitted to it. I lost it and our attachment styles/needs triggered each other AGAIN. I ended up yelling at him (same cycle I got stuck in after he made a mistake in the beginning), and calling him bad names. He then broke up with me, saying he couldn’t take the “bad name calling anymore” and the control.

Here’s my issue: I don’t know if it’s my ego or true love, but I find myself trying to win him back. I have met up with him to talk, we’ve kissed, we are planning to see each other again to talk and see if we can figure something out. Am I making a mistake? Am I trying to fit a circle peg in a square hole?

I love when you said the following: what marks a great relationship is a lack of anxiety. The ability to feel safe, heard, and understood. Is he talking about a future, is this building towards something, is this going somewhere? The first four months I felt very secure but in the latter, I did not. A lot of our issues were driven by my insecurity and lack of feeling safe. This is also my issue: if I just forgive him entirely (I think I have), can we try this again and succeed, but this time I’ll be less anxious?

I appreciate your help. You helped me leave a dead-end 3-year relationship back in November 2015. Thanks for that.

Kristin

Thanks for the kind words, Kristen. Sorry you find yourself in this predicament.

Alas, this is not a terribly complicated dilemma.

The only thing that’s complicated are your emotions surrounding it, which illustrate that love has an uncanny way of causing smart people to cease critical thinking.

The only thing that’s complicated are your emotions surrounding it, which illustrate that love has an uncanny way of causing smart people to cease critical thinking.

Let’s start off with an acknowledgement of the two positive things in your email:

    • a. You love him.

 

    b. He was good to you for four months.

But then again, pretty much every failed relationship consisted of two people who loved each other who had a good four months before reality set in.

That doesn’t mean those relationships should stay together. Neither should yours.

Read and cringe:

    • 1.

He cheated on you with his ex-girlfriend.

    • Multiple times. This, in and of itself, is largely unforgiveable. But you “forgave” him. Then…

2. You spent six rocky months together. There’s a big difference between a marriage having a rough six months and a one-year old relationship having a rough six months. A reasonable woman who placed a premium on her own personal happiness might have left. You stayed, only to discover…

3. He had a drinking problem. And anger management issues. And he kicked you out after arguments. And he ignored your calls.

4. Then he broke up with you, which is usually a solid indicator that he doesn’t value the relationship that much and doesn’t see himself with you long-term. Naturally…

5. You are trying to win him back. Thus, your letter to me.

I know I’m working off of limited information, Kristen, but regardless of placing blame (and he would fare poorly if blame were apportioned), it’s obvious you guys are a match made in hell.

Forget ego. Forget true love. Just pay attention to how very difficult things are.

Forget ego. Forget true love. Just pay attention to how very difficult things are.

That isn’t a sign that you are fated to be together and that you should work harder to preserve your love.

That is a sign that you should cut him off entirely ASAP and find a man who is considerate, sensitive and secure.

You may be an anxious person, but with a good man, most of your anxiety will melt away.

The only question is whether you would be open to dating a guy who makes you feel safe, as opposed to rejecting him because he’s not as exciting or unpredictable as your exes. I hope you decide to be in a relationship where you are cherished instead of dismissed.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Marie

    Wow. I could have written Kristin’s letter myself a few years back about my 40 year old boyfriend (I turned 30 a couple of months after we were dating). Almost verbatim, this was my situation, right down to the drinking problem that became apparent after a few months and the lingering ex-girlfriend that I didn’t realize he kept in touch with until after we’d been dating a few months. We had a perfect first 3 months, then things changed — he broke up with me — and as upset as I was, I handled the breakup well and started to quickly move on. He came groveling back and my biggest mistake was taking him back. We then proceeded to spend a rocky 6 months together. Evan’s advice is SPOT on. Save yourself the wasted time and heartache. The guy you want to be with won’t cause you this grief. Fortunately, after taking more of Evan’s advice and online dating, I met my now-husband a few months later. The difference between he and my ex is like night and day. I look back now and thank GOD I didn’t “make it work” with my ex. My husband is too good to be true — even after 3 months. 😉 Take Evan’s advice and MOVE ON ASAP!!! You can do it and you will be SO glad you did!!

  2. 2
    Kath

    If it requires Herculean effort to “make it work”, it’s not a good match. I didn’t listen to my insides and married the wrong guy for me. Don’t make my mistake. Do whatever inner work you need to do on yourself first.

  3. 3
    Emily, the original

    The only question is whether you would be open to dating a guy who makes you feel safe, as opposed to rejecting him because he’s not as exciting or unpredictable as your exes. I hope you decide to be in a relationship where you are cherished instead of dismissed.
    She’s anxious; he’s avoidant. He’s activated her attachment system. And, unfortunately, a partner who doesn’t activate her attachment systems will seem less exciting. 

  4. 4
    Skaramouche

    Run Kristin, run fast.  The anger issues, drinking and communication issues are huge problems but that is the person he is and by all accounts, he’s working on himself.  You can decide (or not) to take the risk and wait while he sorts these things out.

    The massive red flag that you cannot ignore, however, is the fact that he thinks it’s okay to cuddle his ex-girlfriend while in a relationship.  It might be that his definition of remaining faithful includes cuddling with other people or it might be that he’s just a selfish piece of shit with no boundaries or self-control.  Either way, it’s madness to remain and hope he doesn’t do it again.  In the best case scenario, your expectations are simply mis-aligned.  Unless you’re okay with an open relationship, you’ll waste a lot of time trying to convince him that monogamy is the way to go.  The more likely scenario, however, is that he has no respect for you or the relationship, will continue to cheat.

    Good luck, Kristin!

  5. 5
    Clare

    As I read this letter, I cringed.

    I was in a relationship with a man for 5 years which didn’t have all the same characteristics as Kristin’s relationship, but it had most of them. He was angry, he drank quite heavily, he was very avoidant, he’d kick me out after arguments, he’d avoid my texts and phone calls for hours, often days, he’d pull away, he’d break things off. I was horrendously anxious much of the time… and I continued to want to fix things. Why???

    Because I was used to drama, having grown up with a lot of it. I was desensitised to angry outbursts and sub-par treatment from loved ones and had a high tolerance for it. I was also afraid. Afraid that I wouldn’t find better than him and that if I left the relationship it would be admitting failure, that my ability to find love depended on my working out this dysfunctional relationship. I also, weirdly enough, felt very sorry for him because he was such a closed off, cold person whom I couldn’t bring myself to leave.

    I am soooooo glad I got past those feelings and that I finally found the strength to walk away. Leaving that relationship was one of the best things I ever did for myself. My personal journey and happiness has been on an upward trend ever since then.

    Kristin, I would really encourage you to look very hard at the reasons why you are choosing to stay. If your only justification for staying is that you love him, unfortunately that is not a good enough reason if he doesn’t treat you with love, which it definitely sounds like he does not. Each time you go back and tolerate and forgive it when he does something like cheat, or throw you out, or have an angry outburst, or ignores you, you are teaching him that it is essentially ok to treat you like that. But more, much more than that, you are sending the message to yourself that that is good enough for you, that some guy who has been in your life for a few months can behave like that towards you and that you are willing to tolerate it. Unless you expect and require better for yourself, this kind of treatment is what you are going to land up with.

    Walk away from this guy, lose his number, delete him on Facebook, and look for a man who is kind, loyal and loving.

    1. 5.1
      Lucy

      This sounds like my story, too. Four year relationship, with him swearing true love all over the place. Except when he was depressed or withdrawn or telling me that I wasn’t the right person for him.

      He called again recently, wanting to see me again. I feel so very proud of myself. Not only have I not answered his call, but I have felt happier being single for the last year. Just hearing his voice gave me anxiety, and I was able to track my emotions following the call, and they were dark. I was finally able to see that he really makes me miserable.

      For the first time since my divorce, I feel that the future is wide open for me. Whether I end up single or married again, I know I can be happy. I so don’t need this troubled man in my life and I sure as heck can’t fix him.

  6. 6
    shaukat

    Then there was a breaking point: he didn’t answer my calls one time when he was out, and he admitted to it. I lost it and our attachment styles/needs triggered each other AGAIN. I ended up yelling at him (same cycle I got stuck in after he made a mistake in the beginning), and calling him bad names.

    Let’s be clear though, the only reason the OP’s reaction is understandable in this context is because her boyfriend had a history of cheating on her. If some woman I was dating threw a tantrum and started calling me names because I forgot to pick up my phone while out with friends I’d think she was a stage 9 clinger and send her packing. I did do that once and looking back it was one of the best decisions I made. That type of insecurity and neediness is a always a precursor to greater issues, which doesn’t change just because you label it a different “attachment style.”

    1. 6.1
      Emily, the original

      Shaukat,

      If some woman I was dating threw a tantrum and started calling me names because I forgot to pick up my phone while out with friends I’d think she was a stage 9 clinger and send her packing. 

      That’s a good point. I didn’t catch that when I read the OP’s letter. She may have been blowing up his phone when he was out with friends. I HATE that. You call it a stage-9 clinger. I call it “intra-anal.” 🙂

    2. 6.2
      Wcan

      He didn’t forget to pick up his phone, he admitted he purposely ignored her calls. Big difference.

      1. 6.2.1
        Marika

        True, Wcan, but I don’t know about you, I’m not a big fan of taking phone calls when I’m out with other people. Unless I’m specifically waiting for a call from someone for some reason, such as I’m supposed to be meeting them later that night or they are sick. It’s pretty normal to not want to be attached to your phone when you’re out. I wouldn’t react well to someone I was dating yelling at me for not answering my phone. It’s likely I may not even hear it if I’m busy with something else.

        Ringing someone while they are out doesn’t safeguard against cheating either.

        1. Karl S

          If my partner calls me and I’m out with a friend, I’ll answer briefly and let her know I’m socializing right now. The guy in the letter didn’t answer because he was A: annoyed with her and B: probably wanted to rile her up a bit. Both bad signs.

        2. Clare

          I see Shaukat and Marika’s points. I too am not a fan of taking phone calls when I’m out with other people. Unless the phone call is likely to be important, I leave my phone in my handbag.

          I also would regard someone blowing up my phone with messages and phone calls, or having a go at me for not answering my phone while I was out, as a very bad sign which would very likely cause me to end the relationship.

          However, I am not a cheater, and from what I’ve read of your posts, Shaukat and Marika, it seems unlikely that either of you are either. So I think there’s more to it than that in the OP’s situation.

          While I would agree that tantrums and name-calling are never an appropriate response to any issue, and I would definitely agree that the OP needs to work on her own handling of relationship issues, I think that people who assess someone’s responses dispassionately from the sidelines underestimate how much anxiety, frustration and misery a very avoidant person, never mind one who has cheated, can cause.

          It never ceases to amaze me how much anxiety and confrontation can be avoided when both partners are simply present and compassionate to each other’s feelings. This is especially true in the case of an anxious person. An anxious person should NOT be with an avoidant person. Inevitably, the avoidant person will withdraw whenever things are the lease bit contentious, which triggers anxious feelings in the anxious person who will reach out for reassurance.  The avoidant person, not understanding that his anxious partner is looking for comfort and reassurance, will pull away even more and view the reaching out as further encroachment on his autonomy. In a case where the avoidant person has cheated, this is an absolute recipe for disaster. Every excursion out at night will trigger anxiety in the anxious partner, and if attempts to gain reassurance, such as with phone calls or texts, are ignored, the situation will become painful for the anxious person and an argument is inevitable.

          This is why it is so important for an anxious person to BOTH work on self-soothing and getting her anxiety under control and to be with a more secure, open and empathetic partner who is willing to provide reasonable (not excessive) levels of reassurance. The two should hopefully be able to meet in the middle and situations should not result in bad fights.

        3. Emily, the original

          Clare,

          I too am not a fan of taking phone calls when I’m out with other people. Unless the phone call is likely to be important, I leave my phone in my handbag.

          I agree. When you’re out with a friend, there’s no reason for your partner to call (its rude) unless it’s an emergency, like your house just blew up.

          In terms of the cheating issue, I had a guy friend who was living with his girlfriend. He had not cheated. She called him on his way to work, she called him during his lunch and she called him as he was driving home (he lived about 15 minutes from work). She would also sometimes text him during the day. I don’t know how he did it. That would have driven me crazy.

        4. Clare

          Emily,

          “I had a guy friend who was living with his girlfriend. He had not cheated. She called him on his way to work, she called him during his lunch and she called him as he was driving home (he lived about 15 minutes from work). She would also sometimes text him during the day. I don’t know how he did it. That would have driven me crazy.”

          Yip. I’ve experienced this too. My ex-boyfriend was very anxious and he would call and text me multiple times during the day at work as well. I too had never cheated and had gone out of my way to make him feel safe and reassured in our relationship. We also lived together. Some anxious people’s insecurities are so ingrained that they cannot be reassured, and no matter what you do, they will always be suspicious and require more reassurance.

          What I can say is that this behaviour of my ex-bf’s wore on me to the point that I just felt drained and exhausted and it completely eroded my attraction for him. When I broke up with him it was almost a formality because I had been drifting away for so long. He was very devastated by the break up, but to me it was a huge relief.

          So, it’s hugely important to distinguish between someone who has become anxious as a result of their partner’s negative behaviour, and someone who will be anxious and insecure no matter who the partner is or what they have done. The latter are best avoided until they have done some serious self-work, in my opinion.

        5. Emily, the original

          Clare,
          What I can say is that this behavior of my ex-bf’s wore on me to the point that I just felt drained and exhausted and it completely eroded my attraction for him. 
          I had one like that, although I didn’t even make it to the first date. I couldn’t get past the barrage of texts and phone calls.
          So, it’s hugely important to distinguish between someone who has become anxious as a result of their partner’s negative behaviour, and someone who will be anxious and insecure no matter who the partner is or what they have done. The latter are best avoided until they have done some serious self-work, in my opinion.
          I agree. We’ve all got something we need to work on, but it’s not reasonable to expect someone else to shoulder large amounts of our personal bs.

        6. Stacy

          @Marika,

          I agree with you wholeheartedly, but when you are involved in a relationship with a cheater who you don’t trust, all bets are off. And, if he is trying to earn your trust, he needs to answer his phone and go out of his way to be transparent.

          So solution? Don’t be involved with a cheater who you don’t trust.

  7. 7
    John

    I think the best thing Kristen could take from this experience is to see how she hangs in there, when she should run out the door.

    She would be wise to see her part in this situation. Calling him bad names is indicative of her own anger issues. It is easy to blame him as the owner of all the anger, but she would be wise to see there is no excuse to call someone bad names.

  8. 8
    JoAnn

    Holy sh*t, good timing!  I’m currently going through a break up that looks almost exactly like this situation. Boy, I really needed to read this today.

  9. 9
    Gala

    The OP sounds like she needs to do some work on herself too.  She sounds unstable and abusive. Name calling is never ok. Yelling is not ok. Throwing tantrums because your partner just wants to have a night out without you checking on him is crazy behavior. You can call it “attachment style” sure, whatever, being with such a person can be nightmarish. The guy’s cheating on her on month 4 does not excuse this behavior. You either forgive and move on, or you just move on. What you don’t do is stay in a relationship and continue to torment your partner. As it stands right now, i agree that she should leave him alone and hope to do better next time around

    1. 9.1
      Kristin

      hi. I am not unstable or abusive – my ex did a lot of small things to create more trust issues in our relationship and I held it all in. When I would say something he would freak out that I was controlling so I held it in. When we broke up, he was heading home and I said ok I’ll call you in30. He ended up going to a bar and ignoring me all night. I thought something happened to him in his taxi home and became very worried. I called multiple times and when he started sending me to VM, got angry bc I felt he was out and didn’t tell me. I even said”it’s ok if you’re ok just lmkso I can fall asleep. I’m worried about you.” Nada for hours. This made me angrier And the next day I was mean to him and yelled at him for hours as he says. It wasn’t right – I shouldn’t have done that but I felt I couldn’t take it anymore.

  10. 10
    Lisa

    It’s very easy for us to sit her and say OMG she needs to run and fast how can she not see it, but I think I know how she feels.   Dating is tough these days on both sides.    When I was dating I started to feel like this is just how men were, because almost every man I met behaved in this way.    That safety that you describe and sense of calm, I had not felt that since my high school boyfriend.  So we as women start to think that’s all that is out there.  I mean this is how men are, so we need to accept that.  Think about it if all you have ever dated is jerks, and you do it enough, you think all men are jerks and then you start to go through degrees of jerks, like hey he’s not an alcoholic or hey at least he does not beat me.  You think I kid but I do not.  One guy cheats, but at least he’s not bipolar.      This is what they start to associate with love.   Then it’s actually a self fulfilling prophecy.  Because when you meet a man who makes you feel safe and treats you well, you feel no chemistry because you have learned that that’s not how love feels?  I wish I could give this woman an answer, but unfortunately what is likely going to happen is that this man will have to do something really truly horrible to get her to leave him.    We can’t tell her other than to say there are men out there that will love you and this is not love.  When I found sai man, I knew what Evan meant.  But in order to do so I had to date men that I did not feel initial chemistry with (which at the time I did not know was anxiety).

    1. 10.1
      S.

      Dating is tough these days on both sides.    When I was dating I started to feel like this is just how men were, because almost every man I met behaved in this way.

      I meet men like this too! But fortunately not the majority. The majority men I meet sweet, shy, and introverted, but not avoidant.

      We can’t tell her other than to say there are men out there that will love you and this is not love.  When I found said man, I knew what Evan meant.

      It just may take a while.  The really good man isn’t always around the corner.  This is real.  But even that long, single while is better than being with a guy who breaks up with you and pushes your anxious buttons.  Sure, Kristin you have your own stuff to work on, but this guy is a lot and he’s not all in.

      Am I making a mistake? Am I trying to fit a circle peg in a square hole?

      Yes. And yes. Take your time and find the circle hole.  And work on the anxiousness because you might be attracted to another avoidant and get into something similar.  This is what avoidants do.  You can’t change them, but you can change you and the men you choose.

      About calling. I return calls promptly and my family and friends generally know my schedule.  If someone doesn’t hear back from me within 24 hours, they generally aren’t in my inner circle or are people who wouldn’t worry about me.  So I like my inner circle people to return my calls too or I assume the same thing. (I’m wrong in this assumption sometimes but not always.) I don’t rant or yell at people about it.  You can’t change people. When a guy does this I just assume he’s doing the slow fade.  So I let him fade.

      Hmm. I’ve come a long way.  That isn’t how I used to be.  Not at all.  My life is just busier now even if I’m not out.  I don’t have the time or inclination to stew over stuff and if I am stewing?  Then this is not the person I’m looking for and it’s time to get out.

    2. 10.2
      AAORK

      @Lisa, so far you seem to be the only commenter who has absorbed the most important sentence of Evan’s response: The only question is whether you would be open to dating a guy who makes you feel safe, as opposed to rejecting him because he’s not as exciting or unpredictable as your exes.

      Even though I’m not on the dating market (thankfully!), as a man I can testify to the presence of a significant number of good and decent men I know or have encountered in day-to-day activities. And all are generally ignored because they don’t seem to initiate a ‘tingle factor’ at first glance. So I’m hard-pressed to find sympathy for women that keep bouncing from guy to guy, not knowing (or not valuing) the qualities they should look for to achieve a long-term committed relationship. But then again, maybe it’s my fault to assume that most single women like the OP really want this, or are even capable of it.

      1. 10.2.1
        Emily, the original

        AAORK,

        I can testify to the presence of a significant number of good and decent men I know or have encountered in day-to-day activities. And all are generally ignored because they don’t seem to initiate a ‘tingle factor’ at first glance. 

        The manosphere calls them “‘gina tingles.” I wonder if men do that, too. Do they pass over stable partners for unstable but more exciting options (for lack of a better description)?

        1. Gala

          Of course they do. We all do that. Remember “up in the air”? “We all fall for a prick”. Actually that is a movie that speaks about this exact dynamic – both men and women going for the excitement over compatibility or whatever else. With the exception of the Alex (female character) who gets some excitement on the side and retreats to the safety of her “real life”.

        2. Emily, the original

          Gala,

          Of course they do. We all do that.

          I just get tired of hearing about all the good guys women are passing up.

          With the exception of the Alex (female character) who gets some excitement on the side and retreats to the safety of her “real life”.

          Yeah, but her “excitement” was George Clooney. That’s a lot more “excitement” than most of us women are used to.  🙂   I am disappointed, though, that it doesn’t seem possible to find both qualities in one partner. Just as disappointed as I was when I found out a lot of impossibly good looking men were gay. I wonder if the universe is trying to punish us.

        3. S.

          I’ve only fallen for really good, gentle nice men. 🙂 Unkindness is a turn-off to me.  Even Evan’s toughlove stance here put me off the first few years I read this blog.  I’m pretty sensitive, though online dating sure toughens one up!  And I understand Evan a bit better now through time.

          I can’t see myself loving someone who repeatedly hurt my feelings. None of my friends did, either.  And if someone turned mean or insensitive, they were out.  All a man has to do is speak to me in a harsh tone–once–and I’m out.  That’s only ever happened once.  Yes, he was super-attractive, but it’s not worth it in my opinion.

          So I’m hard-pressed to find sympathy for women that keep bouncing from guy to guy, not knowing (or not valuing) the qualities they should look for to achieve a long-term committed relationship. But then again, maybe it’s my fault to assume that most single women like the OP really want this, or are even capable of it.

          My friends marry men like this.  Now maybe a lot of women don’t know what to look for.  But I’m here to say some women do.  And they get it and seem happy.

        4. Emily, the original

          S.,

          I’ve only fallen for really good, gentle nice men. 🙂 Unkindness is a turn-off to me. 

          So are you the dominant partner? I mean, if the guys you like are gentle. Does that mean passive? The problem with someone who is overly passive is that he is sometimes waiting for the other party to take charge.

        5. S.

          @Emily, the original.

          Dominant? Hmm. That word brings to mind a lot of imagery. I don’t think of myself as the dominant person.  To be honest, until I read Pat Allen’s book in 2016 I thought people in a couple could go back and forth.  In non-dating life, I can lead, but usually only when others don’t want to.

          I don’t see gentleness as being submissive.  I dated a very proactive person last summer.  He took the lead in everything and he was gentle in words and in action. (Words matter a lot to me, though it’s not my primary love language.) People aren’t binary and it’s possible for a man to be both.

          But back to dominant, I don’t know what what you really mean? I can talk about who takes the lead in a relationship but that’s not the same thing as being dominant in my mind.

          Prior to 2016, I would say I did date a few passive men, but then I was passive too, relationship-wise.  I think we all just did what we felt like at the time.  I also dated some guys who took more of the lead. The guy generally still did most of the asking out, defining the relationship in the beginning.  Later on there was more back and forth.  I don’t generally date ‘alpha’ men, not because I’m too dominant but because that’s a lot of energy for me and it exhausts me.  I find men who are passive in some ways, assertive in other ways.  I don’t think a man who leans very strongly one way or the other is for me. And I think that’s true for my friends as well.

        6. Yet Another Guy

          @S.

          I don’t think a man who leans very strongly one way or the other is for me.

          That is a good answer.  However, as a man, I often find being with women like you to be akin to walking a tightrope. While I am not full-on alpha 100% of the time, I prefer to be with a submissive woman.  I recently pared my field down to one woman because I found one who was submissive enough for me while still being her own woman.  We fit together like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle with respect to dominance/submissiveness.

        7. S.

          @YAG

          Why is a tight rope? I’m curious.  🙂

          The guy this summer it was easy.  A natural extrovert, he just took the lead and I followed.  But I think he wanted me to be . . . more.  And I have to admit, I usually am more assertive than I was with him, but it was nice not to have to lead at all.  I was enjoying it.

          When I dated people and we were both passive, not a lot got done.  🙂 We didn’t go many places and it gets a bit boring after a while.  I don’t need a ton of excitement, but I do need a little.

        8. AAORK

          Emily, the most accurate answer to your question can be found by looking up Jordan Peterson on YT. He’s a Psych professor with 100’s of hours of lecture videos on cultural topics, many dealing with attraction and mate selection. His conversational approach is direct and compelling, but without a judgemental tone; kinda like a ‘tough love’ conversation. And he backs up his assertions with an encyclopedic knowledge of extensive historical research on the subject matter he speaks about.  So obviously this makes him a prime enemy of Feminists and post-modernist thinkers. HTH

        9. Yet Another Guy

          @S.

          A natural extrovert, he just took the lead and I followed.

          I do not believe that dominance has to do with extroversion versus introversion.  That is a common mistake that many people make. Dominance is about leadership versus followership.  I am an introvert who always tests introverted on the various Myers-Briggs test.  Yet, I am a natural leader within my profession and my hobbies.  The difference between an alpha extrovert and alpha introvert here is that the introvert does not seek to be in the limelight (i.e., he/she does not need an entourage of worshipers).  He/she finds himself/herself in a situation where people rely on him/her to make leadership decisions that are critical to an organization or activity due to natural ability.

          Getting back to relationships, at this stage in my life, I no longer desire to have to fight for the role of man in my relationship.  I want a woman who is comfortable with me leading and who will not second guess me if I happen to make a mistake.  One thing I learned in leadership training while serving on active duty is that leadership requires one to often make decisions with only partial information, which almost guarantees that a leader will make mistakes from time to time.   It is important for any woman who wants a man to lead to understand that mistakes will be made and that he did not do it on purpose.  Second guessing a man after he makes a mistake is a surefire way to make him lose interest in the relationship.  It also guarantees that a couple will stagnate because he will stop accepting the risk that advances a relationship forward. Mistakes are learning/growth opportunities for a couple.

        10. Emily, the original

          YAG, 

          It is important for any woman who wants a man to lead to understand that mistakes will be made and that he did not do it on purpose.  Second guessing a man after he makes a mistake is a surefire way to make him lose interest in the relationship.  

          What kind of mistakes? A woman should have faith in a man’s competence, but if he repeatedly makes easily avoidable mistakes, if he is a bumbler, after a while she will simply make the decision herself and do the task herself if she knows she’ll have to clean up after him. An example: He said he would take care of the bills but he forgets to pay some of them, month after month, or he says he’ll do the taxes and puts the wrong social security numbers on them and months go by … and where’s the refund?

        11. Emily, the original

          AAORK,

          Thanks for the info. I will check that out.

        12. S.

          @YAG

          I guess the question is, does the man have to be in the lead all the time?  I do start to take the lead when I get bored and other people aren’t doing anything.  That happens in relationships too.  If I get bored, I’ll lose attraction.  I also take the lead when I want to do something I want to do.  Otherwise, I’ll go do it on my own. When men lead sometimes I end up eating stuff I don’t want or going to events I’m not interested in.  Does wanting to see a movie I want to see (not first date, but within the first three months) mean I’m vying to be the man?  It just seems so odd.  Why would I stop doing things that I like or need to do? Couldn’t we decide together?

          Honestly, I think that vying energy happens more between two strong personalities, rather than two passive folks.  Two passive folks don’t really vy.  🙂

          I remember in a job training years ago the facilitator said that leaders lead.  They may make mistakes but in the moment it’s more important to them to act.  To just make a decision.  I’m not sure I liked or agreed with that at the time, but  years later I believe some leaders don’t worry so much about mistakes.

          This discussion also reminds me why compatibility is important.  When people have a common goal, they are more willing to compromise.

          Pat Allen did say that couples could take turns sharing the lead.  For example, the one partner could take the lead on household organizing, the other on child-raising.  Just they have to be aware of who is doing what and to only switch if they both decide to.  Constant shifting back and forth doesn’t work in her opinion.  I’m be best in a couple like that. I don’t want the lead all the time, but I don’t think either of us should be in the lead all the time.

        13. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          I was not referring to the types of mistakes that you enumerated.  The man in that case is not working with limited information.  An example would be choosing a builder to build a custom home on land not owned by the builder. Building a custom home is very different than building a home in a development.  There are so many things that can go wrong during construction.  I have been through both processes and nothing that one can do other than going through building a custom home at least one time can prepare a person for the myriad of problems that can be encountered during construction.

        14. Yet Another Guy

          @S.

          When men lead sometimes I end up eating stuff I don’t want or going to events I’m not interested in.  Does wanting to see a movie I want to see (not first date, but within the first three months) mean I’m vying to be the man?  It just seems so odd.  Why would I stop doing things that I like or need to do? Couldn’t we decide together?

          There is a difference between leadership and micromanagement.  One of my leadership instructors said something that has stuck with me to this day; namely, leadership is about setting an example worthy of emulation because if people are emulating you, they are following you. Leadership is about getting people to want to follow, and one does not get there via micromanagement.  Leadership is also about facilitation.  If my woman wanted to see a movie, my job as leader would be to find a theater and time where and when it was being shown and secure tickets, so that we knew we had seats upon arrival.

        15. S.

          If my woman wanted to see a movie, my job as leader would be to find a theater and time where and when it was being shown and secure tickets, so that we knew we had seats upon arrival.

          I agree with that!  The last guy who asked me out to a movie, he asked what I wanted to see. I suggested three films.  Now, granted they were odd movies but still, we never went.  I don’t know if he was passive, assertive, or just really, really disorganized. I get the disorganized folks sometimes and it’s difficult to tell what kind of person they are.

        16. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          An example would be choosing a builder to build a custom home on land not owned by the builder. 

          Yeah, that’s reasonable. Tbh, a lot  of women want the man to “be the man,” as retrograde as that sounds, but they have to respect their men enough to know they will make good decisions. Maybe not perfect decisions, but good decisions.

      2. 10.2.2
        Emily, the original

        S.,

        But back to dominant, I don’t know what what you really mean? I can talk about who takes the lead in a relationship but that’s not the same thing as being dominant in my mind.

        Sorry. I read back our posts. I’m not sure what I meant, either! I guess I was thinking of a friend whose husband is outwardly very masculine but she always jokes that she’s the man in the relationship. I guess it works for them, but it makes me cringe. It is nice to be around a man who can follow through and be competent. I used to have a male boss who would say, “I’ll take care of it.” Nothing inspired less confidence. Then I got a new boss who actually meant what he said. I’ll tell you: I had never really noticed him but he became very attractive to me when I saw he could “tcb.”

        1. S.

          I read back our posts. I’m not sure what I meant, either!

          LOL.  You really are an original, Emily.  Your comments always make me smile. 🙂

          Taking care of business, isn’t the same as being dominant.  The thing that is interesting is that people aren’t all one way or another.  A guy who is shy with women, can be totally take-charge at work. Or at whatever he’s skilled in.  Game, sport, movie-knowledge, etc.  And yes, that confidence (and that he actually does have mastery of that topic) is very attractive.

          Sometimes people write about ‘nice’ guys like they are nice in all areas.  Not always.  Just like a**holes aren’t always that way all the time. People are more nuanced.  Some nice guys reject women.  They can be picky.  Women aren’t just squandering these guys. Those guys squander too! Some people are are cocky and over-confident are good people.  People don’t fall neatly into boxes and categories which is why it’s difficult to find the right match.

        2. Emily, the original

          S.,

          Sometimes people write about ‘nice’ guys like they are nice in all areas.  Not always. Just like a**holes aren’t always that way all the time. People are more nuanced.

          That’s very true. I guess with the men who are more passive (at least in their interactions with women), you can almost feel the end of them, where their backbone is. I’m not sure how else to put it. You can almost feel how far they can be pushed. As a woman, you consciously have to tone down or you’ll easily overpower them.

        3. S.

          I guess with the men who are more passive (at least in their interactions with women), you can almost feel the end of them, where their backbone is.

          I honestly never thought of this in this way. Everyone has a limit.  Everyone.  I don’t want anyone pushing me past mine and I don’t push past theirs.  It’s usually not pretty, when people have with me.  But I have never thought about limits like this before.

          I actually toned down more than I realized with the extroverted guy I described earlier in these comments since I had read so much by then and was enjoying him taking the lead.  I was in no danger of overpowering him.  Actually, the last few guys would have welcomed that.  They respected strength. This particular guy really liked when he brought me to a work event and and when he got surrounded by folks who needed to speak with him, that I struck out on my own and introduced myself to his co-workers.  I think he thought I was as extroverted as he is but nope!

        4. Emily, the original

          S.,
          I honestly never thought of this in this way. Everyone has a limit.
          I don’t mean limits. I mean in this example the man does not have a strong personality and, as a woman, you sense that immediately. You can tell he wants you to take charge.
          Actually, the last few guys would have welcomed that.  They respected strength. 
          Well, there’s always the female fantasy that the man is strong and the woman is strong. Like with Sophia Loren. She had such a strong presence that she blew most of the male stars off the screen. Except maybe Marcello Mastroianni or Cary Grant. They held their own with her, but there was no question who was the man.

        5. Emily, the original

          Stacy,

          [email protected]’s the refund.  OMG…TOO funny.

          That’s a true story. My dad did that. He’s a bumbler.

      3. 10.2.3
        Stacy

        @AAORK

        Both men AND women tend to go after partners they have high physical chemistry with. It’s human nature. As you mature, you realize that chemistry doesn’t take care of you when you’re sick or pay the bills. So yes, the best thing to do is to look for partners who have the character that would make good husbands/wives/boyfriends. That is what I did.

        BUT, it is extremely difficult to forsake that type of intense chemistry for anyone and most times, it really takes growth (and many times, getting older).  Confession: I love my boyfriend to death and I am attracted to him but it is nowhere near the type of physical attraction that I have had for others. And, no matter how great a boyfriend he is, a girl will ALWAYS miss that on some level. So, I empathize.

      4. 10.2.4
        Emily, the original

        YAG,

        If my woman wanted to see a movie, my job as leader would be to find a theater and time where and when it was being shown and secure tickets, so that we knew we had seats upon arrival.

        And for me, anyway, as a woman, this example of the man taking charge is very much appreciated.

        1. Nissa

          Me too. I appreciate it even more if the man takes my preferences into account. For example, I can’t take violence in movies. If a man picked a sci-fi, or comedy, or drama instead of a horror movie, I would be super grateful. I want to say yes. I want to let the man lead. I want a man who asks me my preferences, then makes a choice based on that. And I literally can’t remember the last time that happened on a date. I’ve been asked, what do I want to do, where do I want to go, what time we should meet, etc. I’m sure they think they are being considerate, but it comes across like a lack of leadership.

        2. Emily, the original

          Nissa,

          I’ve been asked, what do I want to do, where do I want to go, what time we should meet, etc. I’m sure they think they are being considerate, but it comes across like a lack of leadership.

          Completely agree. It’s like when a man asks if he can make a physical move. I’m sure he thinks its being considerate, but it comes off as insecure.

      5. 10.2.5
        Nissa

        I’m sorry, Aaork, but I just wanted to sigh when I read this. It’s so hard for me to understand when people think the single life is just one big, swinging party.

        It’s what you said, that men get rejected because he’s ‘not as exciting or unpredictable as your ex’s’. That’s a higher bar than I set . My bar is, will I feel freaked out or grossed out if I kiss him? If the answer is no, then I date him, at least once or twice!! Frankly, I would be thrilled to date someone predictable. One of the major reasons I got divorced is that he wasn’t predictable, or stable, or dependable.

        I just wish you could see the other side. Like when YAG says things like, “most women are sending naked pictures and having sex within a few dates” and “women date because they don’t have anything better to do those nights”. Ok, that’s the experience he’s having. It’s just super far from MY experience. I’ve had several dates that were less fun than staying home and reading a book. Being a good date takes focus and effort, and I’m a good date. I mostly date guys that I don’t find that arousing or physically attractive, but I want to give them a chance to let their personality outshine their flaws. It just doesn’t happen that often. And if I figure out that there’s no spark on my end, I stop dating them, because I don’t want to lead them on, hurt their feelings or use them.

        See how different that same behavior looks from the other side? It’s very different than ‘bouncing from guy to guy’ or ‘not valuing the qualities they should’. I might value a guy’s work ethic and political positions,  but if the thought of kissing him makes me cringe, I’m just not into him. I can still value him as an individual of worth and simultaneously know that I don’t want to date him.

        What’s really funny to me is that you would not believe the amount of blowback I get from female friends when I say I want a confident man who will lead. They act like I shouldn’t be allowed to even want that. But I’m coming from the place of having had a passive husband, and realizing I didn’t like that. He just felt too threatened by random things. For example, he planned a vacation to Chicago and we were to meet his friend at the airport. After we had gotten on the plane, he was trying to figure out where to meet the friend. I asked him if his friend knew which airport we were landing at. His reply? “There’s more than one airport in Chicago?”. He then refused to speak to me for the rest of the flight, because he felt stupid for not knowing (and for flying us into the wrong airport). Even though I laughed and told him it was an adventure, that I was glad to have gotten to ride the L, he never forgot it, and pretty much refused to plan anything after that. And it really had nothing to do with me. His ego just couldn’t take it.

        So exciting to me, is a man who calls, plans and pays (and who will avoid paying for anything he would resent).  A man that I could kiss without feeling grossed out. A man who is happy with his own life and eager to share it with me. A man with conflict skills for when conflict inevitable shows up. That’s what exciting looks like from my perspective.

        1. AAORK

          Nissa, I would not attempt to invalidate your feelings on what you wrote. I’m sure they are very real to you. If my observations don’t apply to you, that’s fine. Just move on. Attraction is non-negotiable. It sounds like you’re simply describing what’s attractive to you.

          BTW, if I were to receive “blowback” from someone after expressing personal preferences, the ‘friend’ designation would not come to mind.

           

        2. Sylvana

          Nissa,

          This! Exactly!

          You so often hear that good guys get overlooked/ignored by women because women do not value their good qualities. When, truthfully, they end up overlooked because women are not attracted to them, despite their good qualities.

          While some women might be relationship adrenaline junkies, most women would much rather feel attracted to someone who will treat them well.

          I know countless women who have expressed that they wished they could have been attracted to a certain, good guy (or at least not cringe at the thought of kissing him/being intimate with him). I can tell you I have darn near bashed my head against a wall a few times in frustration.

        3. Sylvana

          AAORK,

          so you agree that attraction is non-negotiable. But at the same time, you state that you’re hard-pressed to find sympathy for women who won’t dismiss attraction and settle for just good relationship qualities.

          You seem to assume that the women DO feel any sort of attraction for men with those qualities, But as Nissa has pointed out, the problem is often that there is NO attraction (not that there is too little attraction), even if we wishes there would be.

          I’m certain all those good guys would no longer be overlooked if they started putting less emphasis on how attractive a woman is to them, and began going for women who mainly have good relationship qualities.

          Achieving just any long-term committed relationship is not the problem. Any person can achieve that if they go back to the historical view of marriage as nothing but a contractual agreement.

          But women no longer have the historical dependency on men. So in a sense, you’re correct. That type of long-term committed relationship is not something most modern woman want.

          We want the romanticized version. Everything else, we can either get for ourselves, or from good friends and family.

           

  11. 11
    sippy

    well my problem is my boyfriend is an alcoholic but he treats me so well and loves me genuinely i can honestly say that i am one of his biggest priorities but the alcohol problem scares me especially since he finds it so hard to quit so should i leave him….oh and i should add that he is separated from his wife for two years and going through the divorce process

  12. 12
    Roxanne

    Evan I needed this one. Like Kristin I was in a relationship where my ex did and said a lot of things that clearly constitute a breakup for good but it wasn’t enough to just remember all the horrible things he did to keep me away. My blindspot was when we breakup I always feel like there was something more I could have done to keep us together. I would feel like his negative actions were reactions to some of the negative ways I handled the conflict. I would reflect on this and end up never feeling totally right with staying broken up for good because I would think if only I made positive changes from my end we wouldn’t have needed to break up. I kept agreeing to reconcile when he wanted to come back because I always felt like there was something that I did wrong for him to treat me the way he did. Maybe I shouldn’t have left, Maybe I shouldn’t have been so emotional, maybe I should not have held that in, maybe I should not have rocked the boat, maybe if I said it in a more loving way, maybe I shouldn’t feel these feelings at all. It was a mess on the inside of my brain and emotions trying to fix what couldn’t be fixed. We were too different. When we got to the true source of the problem he had with me I realized all this time we were at an empasse but kept ignoring it. Every time we reconciled I tried to be a better partner but this last breakup I realized that he is really just not the one for me and I am not the one for him and  I need not choose to go back. So Kristen as Evan has said on his blog focus on being a better partner but also choose a better partner. Good luck.

  13. 13
    Marika

    Clare

    You make some good points and I see where you’re coming from. I’m not a cheater, no, but my ex husband was (so I learned a lot through being with him). I do know that in no relationship, no matter the history or attachment types, is it a good idea to ring someone repeatedly when you know they are out and busy and then tell them off for not answering.

    It’s true that it’s easy to give advice from the sideline, but the OP asked for advice. I wouldn’t tell her whether to take him back or not, that’s for her to decide, and I know enough about strong feelings to understand that no matter what the advice, she’ll give him another chance if the chemistry is strong enough. My point is only that if/when she does, she can’t act on those feelings of anxiety all the time and expect the relationship to work out. Whenever I feel myself wondering where and who a guy I’m dating is with (and I did this with my ex too), I take other action, like calling a friend, taking a bath, reading this blog, going to yoga etc etc. I understand anxiety and empathise with it, but no good can come from acting like a jealous worrier (and it certainly won’t stop anyone from cheating).

    1. 13.1
      Kristin

      Hi Marika,

      I am the OP and I think you’re right- if I only curbed my anxiety maybe things would be different. The issue was, besides the major incident that caused issues in the relationship, he repeatedly did other things to make me feel I couldn’t trust him. He said he did these things because he felt controlled. No, i was just trying to build trust again because i stayed in the relationship after he cheated.

      When he was out that night he told me he’d be home in 20 and was in a cab. When I was repeatedly calling him, it wasn’t because I thought he was doing something bad- it was because I thought he was hurt. I waited 45 min giving him time to go home and then i called. I eventually became angry bc he was forwarding my calls to his VM. I even messaged him saying hey it’s ok if you changed your mind and didn’t go home, just let me know so I can sleep. Obviously he didn’t do that. No, i shouldn’t have reacted the way I did nor scold him the next day but I was so fed up of constant missteps and felt disrespected, I think I just lost it. I should have walked away then, feeling fed up, but instead he decided to leave the relationship because he didn’t like to be yelled at and he felt I could never trust him again. I don’t blame myself for that.

  14. 14
    Sylvana

    I’m having a problem understanding the whole “exciting” factor.
    Why would a guy who makes you feel safe not be exciting (or not as exciting as the ex?) Or why would anyone consider someone who treats others (including the woman they’re with) like crap as exciting? And who would consider unpredictability as exciting? That is the worst possible trait to have in any animal I work with every day. I certainly do not consider it any better or more attractive a trait in humans.
    What exactly is it that makes these men with rather bad traits so exciting? Is it their looks? Their hobbies? I don’t get it. Or does it simply come down to the chemistry a woman feels?
    To me, you can have a supermodel hot, bungee-jumping, rock-climbing, etc. guy — if he is an a**hole, he’s an a**hole. And as such, absolutely not attractive. Let alone exciting.
    Which brings me to the “good” guys. As AAORK has to adequately stated, a significant number of good and decent men are generally ignored because they don’t seem to initiate a “tingle factor” at first glance.
    Sadly, I would have to agree with that. But WHY aren’t they giving women the tingle factor? One certainly cannot claim it is only related to looks. While tastes differ hugely, the majority of men with bad traits (including extremes, such as abusers), wouldn’t exactly be considered good-looking by most women. (Sex appeal also certainly does not relate to looks, it’s an attitude.)
    If we were to judge by personality, the good guy should win the race by a mile any day. And if confidence was the deciding factor, plenty of good guys wouldn’t have such a hard time either. The nice guy who is overlooked, and decides to turn into a jerk, ends up being nothing but an unattractive jerk – not the sudden new hot guy.
    It has to be something more primal. I would argue that attraction basically boils down to the amount of sexual arousal a person can incite in another. Even if women have been taught that we, as the “non-sexual” creatures, do not fall for that. Chemistry gives us that “feel-good” feeling. If chemistry wasn’t mostly sexually driven, any man who treats us badly would instantly no longer be attractive, since he does not make us feel good, therefore voiding out the chemistry.
    So the safe, “boring” guy is only boring, because he does not incite enough arousal in women to make them want to be intimate with him, and is therefore not sexually exciting. It always makes me wonder why that is.
    Sex appeal can be learned (and no – it doesn’t have to be overly in your face. The best ones are usually rather subtle). I would go so far as to say any man can learn to be arousing to women. The bigger question is why some who don’t try at all and don’t have any good traits still manage to draw women. Is it hormones?
    In the case of the writer above, and some of the women commenting here, one wonders how in the world those men ever managed to make a woman feel chemistry at all.
    Is it their energy/vibration (if one believes in that)? Whether the good we know we want, or the bad our subconscious wants to resolve?
    Being an incredibly sex-driven person, I have come to learn that attraction, to me, is purely related to sexual compatibility. Looks, attitude, confidence, job, money, etc. have absolutely nothing to do with whether I’m attracted to a man or not. (I can actually tell when he is still a hundred yards away whether I’ll be attracted to him – before I ever see him close-up). The less he “excites” me, the more he will bore me in bed. That’s NEVER failed. Being so sex-driven, I cannot be in a relationship with someone who does not excite me in bed. I don’t need to feel attraction to have sex (I can get excitement out of a scenario or situation). But I definitely need to feel attraction in order to be intimate with someone (not just during sex. Kissing, cuddling ,etc.)
    While I’m an extreme case (particularly considering I’m a woman), I wonder how much this is actually a factor for women in general when it comes to attraction/chemistry. As I said – we are always taught we want romance, connection, being treated well, etc. Yet if that were true, how come we have a tendency to date people who give us the exact opposite? Those people should, by default, not appeal to us, and the “good” guys should be the ones who excite us.
    I’m not saying that men with bad traits are necessarily good in bed. But if arousal had nothing to do with it, all other factors should easily overrule the attraction.
    And I wonder if the good guy who learned to become more arousing to women would all of a sudden get a completely different reaction. (We’ve tried this with friends in the past, and in my experience, it has made a huge difference in their success with women).
    The other question is this – if you do settle for less attraction to get a safe, quality relationship…what happens when you meet someone you do feel that insane attraction with? Is that the reason for the high percentage of cheaters?
    I would love to hear what everyone (including Evan) thinks about this.
     

    1. 14.1
      Stacy

      @Sylvana,

      Because truth be told, the more options a person has (ESPECIALLY men) on the ‘market’, the more privy he is to not want to be faithful. I am just keeping it real here.  So many many times, the below average men in looks are the ones who work harder to ‘keep’ you. Of course, someone is going to come in here and tell me that there are unattractive men who are assholes as well. Of course there is, but I guarantee you that you will find an overwhelming majority of the Brad Pitts of the world to be more ‘assholey’ (yes, I am aware I made that word up).

      So as a woman, you have to choose more often than not (as opposed to a man who can still find a hot woman if he is successful enough or good looking enough or in one of the gazillion parts of the world more overrun by women). Do I want hot or safe.  RARELY do you get both. So, you barter safe for hot if you’re wise enough. But lo and behold, you will always side eye hot. And part of me will always grieve (on a basic level) that chemistry that has had to be sacrificed.

      1. 14.1.1
        Sylvana

        Stacy,

        I agree with you to a point. The better looking a person is (and this goes for both women and men), the more they would have to resist the constant temptation. And obviously a great looking person has way more opportunities than a below average looking person (once again – this applies to both women and men). But, ultimately, it boils down to a person’s character more so than their looks. And – as much as I hate to say it – the chemistry they have with their partners. If your partner gives you the kick of a well-handling 180mph car, the thousand other options of 120mph cars will not give you the same kick. And – despite the variety factor – eventually lose your interest.

        And while it’s easy to blame men, we do have to keep in mind that women aren’t far behind in the cheating statistics. Our gender is far from innocent.

        As for setting – I feel your pain. As do most women on this board.

        But I never wanted to have children, so I’m not willing to sacrifice chemistry for safe. I don’t need safe. I make my own money, own my own house. And – as I mentioned – I cannot be intimate with someone I don’t feel a high amount of chemistry with. (But I can have sex just fine without high chemistry, because I can create the thrill/excitement factor in other ways).

        However, this is once again a problem that both men and women face. A man with power and money might be able to buy that super hot wife, but a woman of power and money could buy a super hot guy as well. And the men who do absolutely sacrifice chemistry. They might be attracted to the arm candy, but they are fully aware that the woman is only with them for the money/power. And that they feel no attraction in return.

        So for every woman who complains that she has to sacrifice chemistry for safety, there’s a man complaining that the super hot babe is only interested in how much money he makes.

         

        1. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          If your partner gives you the kick of a well-handling 180mph car, the thousand other options of 120mph cars will not give you the same kick. And – despite the variety factor – eventually lose your interest.

          But how long does one’s partner give the 180 mph experience? I get what you are saying. There’s nothing like hooking up with someone you are very attracted to. If you are also sexually compatible, you’ve found something very rare. But chemistry does fade over time, so the 120 mphs could, ostensibly, turn one’s head.

        2. Sylvana

          Emily,

          I fully agree with you there.

          BUT – if you start out with the 120mph, or even less, how much quicker will that fade? Or how much quicker will you be tempted by others in the same category (not to mention higher categories). This might be a bigger problem for women, since we do know that men will readily have sex, even if they’re not as attracted to a woman. So we have more options, even going “above” our paygrade.

          And If I’m starting with a 50-60mph, the field of temptation turns into a small continent. At that point, the sex better be mind-blowing. Otherwise, at the first sign of the relationship causing me any inconvenience at all, I’m gonna dump the guy, and go for the next 50-60 mph that will treat me just as well. In his category, there are plenty who do have long-term relationship qualities.

          Basically, there’s no longer anything that special about him that cannot be replaced by someone else in the same category. There are thousands of Toyota Corolla’s out there. If one acts up, I’ll go get another.

          I know that is horrible, but it’s the brutal truth. The fact that he is a good guy alone will not be enough in the long run. There are too many good guys out there, especially if I factor attraction down. For me, something about him has to be more special than other guys.  More special than what good friends, family (companionship/security), a good friend-with-benefits intimacy), in addition to total sexual freedom (living out your fantasies),  the occasional high chemistry burst (attraction/hormonal high),  and a good income (security/being provided for) combined can’t give us.

          We can have everything a good partner provides, plus the high, if we take it from different sources. So why bother with the effort of maintaining a relationship, if the person doesn’t manage to at least combine a few of the main factors in one person (the high PLUS the companionship/security)

           

           

        3. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          And If I’m starting with a 50-60mph, the field of temptation turns into a small continent. At that point, the sex better be mind-blowing.

          But if you’re starting at a 50-60 (which I’m assuming is a mid-range level of attraction), can the sex be mind-blowing?

          So why bother with the effort of maintaining a relationship, if the person doesn’t manage to at least combine a few of the main factors in one person (the high PLUS the companionship/security)

          Yes, I think that’s what this blog advocates. It’s just that the various levels of the different factors won’t be all be at a 10. It’s not possible.

        4. Stacy

          @Sylvana

          I agree that it’s for both women and men but I disagree on a few factors.  I do believe that men are more prone to cheating and for a few reasons. It is proven that men are more stimulated visually and in addition, because of testosterone, are prone to more sexually aggressive behaviors (how many women are sexually harassing men for instance)?  And, although I am not saying most men are sexually harassing women, I am saying that men, much more often than women, are way more sexually  motivated period.

          Secondly, although you don’t want kids, most women have children.  As a result, having children takes a LOT of women ‘off the market’ for a period of time and especially when they are young. So married women have less free time overall to do anything. Men’s lifestyles do not change as significantly after having kids.

          Thirdly, of COURSE there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, most women who have admitted to cheating, do not cheat because a man ‘looks good in that suit’.  Men are more prone to cheat because she ‘looks good’. As Chris Rock said, a man is as faithful as his options.  Of course I don’t agree that all or even most men cheat. But I damn sure believe that most who do don’t necessarily have to have a deep reason to do so.  I think for women (only on average because there are always exceptions), tend to cheat for much more emotionally driven reasons.  And you are right, a man with power and money could buy a hot wife and a woman can do the same. But how many women with power and money are walking around with much hotter and younger models? Now compare it to men – Exactly!

          So I say all this to say: I am not disparaging men and I think they’re awesome.:) I have a pretty good one at my side actually.  I am just calling it like I see it as objectively as possible.  Men are more attracted to arm candy. You will more often than not see a 40 year old man with a 25 year old than the other way around etc.  Doesn’t make men bad, they’re just motivated differently. And yes, women are FAR from innocent. But in this regard, men are a little more ‘guilty’.

          Also, to add, most women have children. A childless women would have a bit less on a plate so to speak so having no children IS a game changer.

        5. Emily, the original

          Stacy,

          But how many women with power and money are walking around with much hotter and younger models? Now compare it to men – Exactly!

          I think that’s because women don’t want to feel like they are buying companionship.

          Also, to add, most women have children.

          Yes, that’s true,  but more and more are deciding they don’t and more women are deciding not to marry as compared to a generation ago. It will be interesting to see how sexual dynamics play out in a few decades if these trends continues.

        6. Jeremy

          @Stacy, I largely agree with your comment.  I think I’ve mentioned before that (at least in my circles) the most stable marital pairings seem to be men with income +1 with women with SMV +1.  I find that the more even the income, the less satisfied the women tend to be in the relationship and the more even the SMV the less satisfied the men tend to be (exceptions exist).  With the disparity as I mentioned, each person feels they “get” something out of the relationship.

           

          Now, is that the healthiest relationship?  Not necessarily.  Depends on what each person needs to feel validated for.  But validation flows downhill – a person who needs to feel validated often needs to have that validation come from someone they perceive as better in some way.  Hence some people’s attraction to un-attainability.  If 2 people are equals in every regard, it’s hard to get validation.  YMMV.

        7. Yet Another Guy

          @Jeremy

          the more even the SMV the less satisfied the men tend to be

          I believe that it depends on where a man falls 0n the SMV gradient.  If one is an average looking, but financially successful man who is on the shorter side of the height spectrum, having a woman with a +1 SMV is like a reward for hard work.  However, if one is a taller than average man with a higher SMV, finding a woman who has a +1 SMV becomes less important than finding one who is sane, financially responsible, and fun.    I would partner up with a woman with a -1 SMV if she was a good life and sex partner.   Even with a -1 SMV, she is still above average looking.

        8. Clare

          @ Jeremy,

          “the most stable marital pairings seem to be men with income +1 with women with SMV +1.  I find that the more even the income, the less satisfied the women tend to be in the relationship and the more even the SMV the less satisfied the men tend to be (exceptions exist).”

          I’d have probably thought the same as you, as it seems to make sense on a surface logistical level. But I’ve actually been astonished at how many happy relationships I’ve observed where the man is very good looking and the woman is maybe only a touch above average. I can think of so many such couples in my circle of acquaintance. Mind you, these men tend to be the deeper, more reflective types… the ones who perhaps realised that years of chasing tail did not satisfy them and decided to try a different tack. What I’ve noticed about these women though is that they seem to be universally quite confident and secure, which leads me to wonder whether those are the qualities which these guys find so attractive. Insecurity being one of the biggest turn-offs I have heard about from men.

        9. Jeremy

          Hi Clare.  Yes, I know of couples where the man is hotter and couples where the woman makes more money.  And such pairings can be happy and stable, of course.  But IME, when the woman makes more money she has to convince herself that the man is “better’ than her in some important way, or else she loses respect (and hence attraction) to him.  Sure, she makes more money, but he has more street smarts.  Or his job matters more.  Or he is more creative.  And when the man is hotter than the woman, my observation is that she provides him with a deep-seated psychological need other than validation.  My brother-in-law, for example, is better-looking than my sister.  But he grew up in a strongly matriarchal family where his mother ran the show, and he was looking for a wife to take charge and make him feel safe.  My sister provides him with that deep-seated psychological need which, to him, is far more important than her looks.  I’ve noticed similar dynamics in other such relationships, though you’d have to really know the people involved to suss that out.  Again, YMMV.

        10. Clare

          Jeremy,

          “And when the man is hotter than the woman, my observation is that she provides him with a deep-seated psychological need other than validation.  My brother-in-law, for example, is better-looking than my sister.  But he grew up in a strongly matriarchal family where his mother ran the show, and he was looking for a wife to take charge and make him feel safe.  My sister provides him with that deep-seated psychological need which, to him, is far more important than her looks.”

          Yes, this has been exactly my observation, and what I was trying to get at. The woman in question satisfies some deep psychological need in the man which goes way beyond the way she looks. She makes him feel the way he wants to feel in order to be happy and comfortable in a relationship.

          I also agree with you about those relationships in which the woman make more money. It is equally important to both men and women, and to the health of the relationship as a whole, that the woman is able to respect the man in some significant way/s and to feel as if she needs him in those ways since these are qualities she does not possess herself.

    2. 14.2
      AAORK

      Sylvana, I’ll refer you to answer I gave to Emily (10.2.3). Prof. Peterson actually addresses most all of what you’re pondering. Despite the entertainment value it offers to me (and others, I’m sure), many of the comments in this blog (most all blogs, really) are biased viewpoints derived solely from personal experiences (due to personal choices) and it would be rather dangerous for anyone to actually apply them at face value.

      1. 14.2.1
        Marika

        You make a good point, AAORK. My friend loves to give advice of all sorts. Including relationship advice. She hasn’t been in a relationship for 10 years. She hasn’t been on a date for around one year. So I take pretty much anything she says about men or relationships with a massive grain of salt. It’s good to remember the source of the ‘advice’.

      2. 14.2.2
        Sylvana

        AAORK,
        I’m gonna have to look into Prof. Peterson. I’m actually interested in seeing other’s opinions regarding this issue.
        As for advice – I actually think most people here do not so much give advice, rather than exchange opinions. I find it rather interesting, and I have to say I’ve learned a lot and gained a lot of inside into the human psyche. Oftentimes (as in S.’s comment below), it had me considering things I would have otherwise never considered. That’s what makes blogs like Evan’s so great. And generally, I would say a person can learn a lot from listening to other people’s life experiences. In the end, you consider the various opinions, then act on whatever resonates best with you.
        As for the whole “tough love” approach:

        It’s all fine and dandy. But, in the end, you cannot fake attraction/chemistry. You either feel it or not. Sure, a woman can get a long-term committed relationship from a guy she’s not all that attracted to. But those will be the first husbands bitching about their wives never wanting sex down the road. Because all the good qualities in the world do not make him any more arousing to her. So all that’s left is friendship/companionship.

        Not to mention that all the “overlooked” good guys could also easily achieve long-term committed relationships if they would settle for way less attractive partners (without cheating on them) than they’re going for. Even Evan has pointed this out.

        And all the extensive historical research on the subject of long-term relationships does not really apply to modern day. The situation was completely different back then.

        Women can support themselves just fine these days. They no longer have to rely on men to do so. They have birth control, so they can have casual sex just like men. Most of them are also no longer willing to ignore being cheated on.  Technically speaking, a successful woman does not even need a partner to have and raise kids anymore.

        Historical marriages were nothing but contractual arrangements. That is hardly the kind of relationship a modern day woman is thinking of.

        Since the historical dependency on men is removed, most women nowadays are looking for the “romanticized” version of long-term relationships.

        Tough love basically teaches us (men and women) that we can have either the chemistry/attraction/that sexy high of a partner who truly arouses you (romanticized version) OR a long-term committed relationships (which also does not come with a guarantee of it lasting) who you might come to love, but not much differently than a very good friend or family member (reality). But you can’t have both. Well, reality sucks.

        If you can’t have that crazy love with a person extremely special compared to others, it makes you wonder if the effort of maintaining a relationship is really worth it – considering all the other options you have.

         

         

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          “Tough love basically teaches us (men and women) that we can have either the chemistry/attraction/that sexy high of a partner who truly arouses you (romanticized version) OR a long-term committed relationships (which also does not come with a guarantee of it lasting) who you might come to love, but not much differently than a very good friend or family member (reality). But you can’t have both. Well, reality sucks.”

          Wrong. It’s not either/or. I’ve never said that. No one I know or respect has ever said that.

          All I’ve said is that when you have a 10++ chemistry, you are often blinded, you put up with bad behavior, and you’re likely to have a lot of friction in your relationship.

          Since life is a marathon, you may want an “easier” relationship partner with whom you can get along better.

          This relationship partner HAS to be attractive and you HAVE to have a good sex life, since you’re only sleeping with one person forever.

          However, the idea that your partner has to be the HOTTEST person you’ve ever been with is irrelevant, because the HOTTEST person you’ve ever been with wasn’t a good fit.

          Essentially, there are tradeoffs to everything in life: your job, your home, and yes, your spouse.

          But a 7 chemistry/10 compatibility relationship SHOULD involve chemistry/attraction and great sex. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

          Finally, this isn’t “tough love.” This is observable science.

        2. Emily, the original

          Evan,

          I’m confused about what a 7 chemistry means. I always think of a 5/6 as neutral, so a 7 is someone you find reasonably attractive. An 8 is ..he’s pretty cute. A 9 … I’m very attracted. A 10 … I need my smelling salts.

          Or am I not understanding the scale?

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          These are all made-up numbers, Emily. The point is that you should never FORCE yourself to be attracted to someone. You should never SETTLE.

          Just realize that the person you marry and are most compatible with is rarely ALSO going to be the person on the planet you’re most attracted to and that’s okay.

          If you’re attracted and he’s good in bed, it doesn’t matter whether you call him a 7 or an 8. He’s a 10 where it counts.

        4. Emily, the original

          Evan,

          Thanks for answering.
          Just realize that the person you marry and are most compatible with is rarely ALSO going to be the person on the planet you’re most attracted to and that’s okay.
          If you’re attracted and he’s good in bed, it doesn’t matter whether you call him a 7 or an 8. He’s a 10 where it counts.
          So this guy would probably be someone I have low compatibility with? Since I think he’s a 10 in chemistry?

        5. Evan Marc Katz

          Are you being sarcastic? After all you’ve read here, why would you ever accept low compatibility? 10 compatibility/7 chemistry = a great life.

        6. Emily, the original

          Evan,

          No, I wasn’t being sarcastic. You wrote that the person you are most compatible with probably won’t be the one you are most attracted to.

          Then you wrote this:

          If you’re attracted and he’s good in bed, it doesn’t matter whether you call him a 7 or an 8. He’s a 10 where it counts.

          So I thought you meant he was a 10 chemistry and would therefore have a low level of compatibility.

        7. KK

          Hi Emily ☺,

          “If you’re attracted and he’s good in bed, it doesn’t matter whether you call him a 7 or an 8”.

          He’s talking about chemistry.

          “He’s a 10 where it counts”.

          He’s talking about compatibility.

        8. Emily, the original

          Hi KK,

          He’s talking about compatibility.

          Oh, ok. Got it. I just read “you’re attracted” and “he’s good in bed.” To me, that equates to a 10 chemistry. A 7 chemistry would be pretty good in bed.

        9. Sylvana

          I’m glad Evan commented on this. I think it brings a bit more light to the confusion.

          To me, a 7 is in  the high spectrum of chemistry. The lowest of the highs, but still in the highest category. If I could muster a 7 in attraction with a high compatibility, I’d be in heaven. I think most women would be more than happy with a 7 attraction/ chemistry and a 10 in compatibility (unless they are a glutton for punishment). I would say a 7 who treats you extremely well is almost equal to a 10 who treats you like crap. At some point, personality will factor into attraction.

          If we were talking about 7s in chemistry/attraction, I don’t think there would be so many women complaining about having to sacrifice chemistry for security/stability.

          Realistically, the 10s and 9s are the ones who are straight up unavailable to most of us (unless we’re extremely attractive ourselves). Most women do not get to date models or movie stars.  And there are very few top earners who also have the looks. A 9 or 10 would be pretty much near perfection in looks and whatever the individual woman is attracted too. That is almost impossible to find.

          So the men who a lot of us feel the highest chemistry with who we have actually dated or been with, would be the 7s (8s, for some). And those are the ones who are not treating us well.

          The ones who are 9s or 10s in compatibility are usually in the 5 range when it comes to attraction (the neutral zone). That does not mean they’re unattractive, they just don’t ignite any spark (compared to the 7s, who ignite quite a spark, which, coupled with high compatibility, can easily compete with the near explosive spark of the 10s).

          There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But most of us do not complain about “settling” for a 7 in chemistry. We’re complaining about the 5s.

          The 10s are the Ferrari’s who we either can’t get, or keep breaking down on us, leaving us with more headache than fun. The 7s would be the high end Porsches. Not as good as a Ferrari, but certainly incredibly exciting, especially if it runs reliably, so we are more than happy to choose them. But the Porsches are also constantly breaking down. So we have to look for something more reliable. In comes the Mazda/Honda/ wagon/van (in a sporty version). Decent looking, fully equipped, handles ok. Will never let us down. We love it for all its wonderful qualities. But it never gives us that thrill/excitement (negative or positive).

          Maybe the problem lies with the difference in options between women and men. I know I’ll likely get roasted for this, but there are many, many more attractive/hot/beautiful women than men. And make-up can go a long way in making a woman more attractive. So a 7/8 man has a huge field of options if he’s willing to settle for someone in his own attraction rate, and might even be able to go higher, depending on income, etc. While a 7/8 woman will likely still have to settle for someone below her own attraction rate, due to the fact that there simply aren’t enough men around who have both the qualities she is attracted to (money, power, strength, whatever it is), AND the looks to keep him at her own attraction rate (not to even mention compatibility).

        10. AAORK

          @Sylvana, a few thoughts on your comment ..

          And all the extensive historical research on the subject of long-term relationships does not really apply to modern day. The situation was completely different back then.

          Most all research in this area focuses on observations and outcomes regarding the dynamic between innate biological drivers relative to variable cultural norms and constraints. While the cultural aspect variates over time and across cultures, the biological aspect doesn’t.

          Women can support themselves just fine these days. They no longer have to rely on men to do so. They have birth control, so they can have casual sex just like men. Most of them are also no longer willing to ignore being cheated on.  Technically speaking, a successful woman does not even need a partner to have and raise kids anymore … historical marriages were nothing but contractual arrangements. That is hardly the kind of relationship a modern day woman is thinking of .. since the historical dependency on men is removed, most women nowadays are looking for the “romanticized” version of long-term relationships.

          This assertion is a good example of the conflicting disconnect between static bio drivers and the variability of cultural influences, and is a direct contributor to the greatly increased dissatisfaction and unhappiness across both genders we see today (though it appears women suffer more from it). Your comment also illustrates the distinctly Westernized cultural attitude of today: masculinity as a “toxic” attribute, and the devaluation of men (especially within the family dynamic) – all expressed via the “I don’t need a man!” banner toted around by so many women today. It’s a viewpoint that is literally absent in women everywhere else in the non-Westernized world.

          What best represents this disconnect between bio and cultural drivers is in observing today’s ‘modern’ woman: one on the one hand,  she declares she no longer needs men (cultural) while on the other hand complaining about not being able to find a suitable one (bio). Entire business models (Evan’s included) have been built upon this!

          Oh, and BTW you have your history backwards on marriages. Other than those involving nobility or state-sponsorship, historical marriages were founded entirely on moral ethics and cultural constraints. There was little contractual context to them. Marriages of today are almost completely contractual arrangements. And this is confirmed when the divorce occurs and the state steps in to divide the assets. Any moral aspect of today’s marriage is entirely optional. It varies only according to the wants of those involved.

        11. sylvana

          AAORK,

          Why do you instantly jump to the conclusion that women not needing men for certain things (income, security, etc.) equals women not “needing” men at all? We were talking about the historical dependency of women on men, which no longer exists in western societies. Emotional and physical (attraction/chemistry) need is something completely different.

          Basically, this is what this means: Today’s modern woman declares she no longer needs men (historical dependency), while on the other hand complaining about not being able to find a suitable one (to meet her emotional /physical needs, which have now shifted toward romance/chemistry). I don’t know why that is so hard to understand.

          Your comment also illustrates the distinctly Westernized cultural attitude of today: masculinity as a “toxic” attribute

          I totally agree that we should let men fight it out a heck of a lot more often. There’s nothing that turns me on like two strong men going at it in a non-staged fight – the bloodier, the better.

          As a matter of fact, that’s how I select my men: Based on their strength, toughness, and protectiveness (and no – I’m not talking about fluffy bodybuilder muscles). Of course they also have to be reliable and trustworthy. Basically, I select them the same way 90% of females in the animal kingdom would – on purely biological aspects.

          What’s that rich, powerful, manicured fingernails CEO gonna do when someone threatens me? Throw his wallet at the threat? Before he gets finished calling 911, I’m dead. Can he actually provide for me without having to buy the service? Can he work the land, hunt, fix the home, labor heavily under extreme conditions? Can he ensure strong, healthy offspring?

          Since most women do not go for that type, I have to agree with you that most women tend to go against biological instincts when selecting males. But not just in western cultures.

          Short of fighting, most positive masculine attributes are still very much celebrated even in western cultures. Men who risk their lives saving others are even considered heroes. That’s hardly “toxic”. Bad behavior dismissed as “he’s just being a man” is what’s truly being attacked.

          Sure, there are women out there complaining about men (and other women) displaying simple good manners and curtesy (opening doors, offering help, etc.). But those need to be dismissed as extremists.

          The biggest problem I see with western culture that we have too many whiny, sniffly boys complaining about no one being willing to just hand them the “man” card.

          And by a contractual marriage I meant any marriage not founded on the concept of romance/love. Any marriage entered into out of necessity (whatever the reason) or for gain. Maybe
          I should have said agreement instead of contract.

      3. 14.2.3
        Stacy

        @AAORK,

        I think it’s pretty clear that we are ALL giving our non professional opinions. That is why it’s a blog and every single person’s viewpoints on dating will be guesswork to some degree. However, there are universal truths to some aspects of dating.

        1. shaukat

          men who are like that tend to have many options and don’t value you the way you should be valued. 

          I can’t tell you what BS this is. In reality, you want to be with the person who chose you despite having options, because that means that they value more than your looks and actually believe that you’re a good fit for them. If two people meet and click and feel a strong connection and are compatible then the options they have become irrelevant. The guys who put you on a pedestal and worship you because of no options? They’ll likely have all sorts of insecurities. Moreover, do you really want a guy who is faithful simply because he can’t get it anywhere else? Ironically, a similar belief is prevalent in certain parts of the manosphere: ‘Women have too many options, that’s why she won’t give me a chance.’

          Don’t want to generalize, but in my experience the attractive women who consciously choose to settle with a guy who they think is below average  looking are the ones who know they have little to offer in a relationship outside of the looks department.

        2. Emily, the original

          Shaukat,

          I can’t tell you what BS this is. In reality, you want to be with the person who chose you despite having options, because that means that they value more than your looks and actually believe that you’re a good fit for them. 

          That’s a good point. Although when I wrote on another post that a  high-value man was one who had options and picks the one best suited to him, some of the male posters gave me a bit a of grief, as if no man with options would narrow his selection to one.

        3. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          That’s a good point. Although when I wrote on another post that a  high-value man was one who had options and picks the one best suited to him, some of the male posters gave me a bit a of grief, as if no man with options would narrow his selection to one.

          If there were so, no man worth having would partner with a woman.  Sooner or later, a man finds a woman with whom he wants to be exclusive, and to all horror, she is often not the most physically attractive woman he was dating.

        4. Tom10

          @ Shaukat
          “If two people meet and click and feel a strong connection and are compatible then the options they have become irrelevant”
           
          I think this only true for a subset of men and I think you’re in that subset Shaukat. You seem to be primarily motivated by, or seeking, a “strong connection”, whereas, I would argue that a large percentage of men, if not the majority, are primarily motivated by sex with attractive women. If the strong connection just happens? Great. If it doesn’t? Fine. Onto the next woman.
           
          So I actually agree with Stacy; men with many options don’t need to “value [women] they need to be valued” to achieve their primary dating aim so why would they? Its likely Stacy came across those men whilst dating which is why she chose to compromise on chemistry for her relationship.
           
          This rationale doesn’t apply to the subset of men who are driven by seeking a connection and, therefore unconcerned with options.
           
          “The guys who put you on a pedestal and worship you because of no options? They’ll likely have all sorts of insecurities.”
           
          More likely they’re just average chumps guys who never get a chance with hotties; therefore they don’t know how to behave properly when a hotty gives them the time-of-day.
           
          Why do they have insecurities btw? They have insecurities because they’re average guys who keep getting rejected.
           
          It’s amazing how having lots of options miraculously reduces one’s insecurities. It’s equally amazing how being constantly rejected/having no options creates insecurities (what’s the issue causing them to be continually rejected?)
           
          “do you really want a guy who is faithful simply because he can’t get it anywhere else?”
           
          He might be able to get it somewhere else, but can he get it somewhere else with someone of equal quality? Probably not. Which will/should mitigate the risk of him cheating.
           
          @ Emily, the original
          “I wrote on another post that a  high-value man was one who had options and picks the one best suited to him, some of the male posters gave me a bit a of grief, as if no man with options would narrow his selection to one.”
           
          Hmm I wonder who wrote that. Haha.
           
          Ah it wasn’t grief Emily; just a bit of banter! 😉

        5. Emily, the original

          Tom10,

          Hmm I wonder who wrote that. Haha.Ah it wasn’t grief Emily; just a bit of banter! 😉

          Damn, dude! All I have to do is allude to you, and you magically appear!  🙂 I’m telling you: If you are a man with options and you narrow it down to one woman and make her feel really special (and that is a skill that not every man has)  … she’ll do whatever you want.   🙂

        6. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          If there were so, no man worth having would partner with a woman.  

          I believe the context was in reference to cheating, although I’m having trouble finding the original thread. A man without options would worship the woman of +1 SMV. Whereas one with options might be all over the map.

        7. Emily, the original

          Hi Tom10,

          I remember we were discussing on another post why a woman would hook up with a guy quickly and what that meant in terms how interested she was in him. Have you read the piece on babe.net about a woman who hooked up with comedian Aziz Ansari? On another blog I read, a female poster summed up the article. “I read the piece twice and it really upset me, because it reminded me so much of my own history in my late teens and early 20s – those hookups that end up being really weird or gross and you just sort of go along with it even though you’re not into it at all.” I’m not implying in any way that Ansari assaulted her, just that people have all different reasons for why they hook up with someone. 

        8. Tom10

          @ Emily, the original
          “Damn, dude! All I have to do is allude to you, and you magically appear!” 
           
          My ears start to burn when you allude to me Emily. Ha. 😉
           
          “I’m telling you: If you are a man with options and you narrow it down to one woman and make her feel really special (and that is a skill that not every man has)  … she’ll do whatever you want.”
           
          I suppose Stacy’s point is that men with options have women do whatever they want without needing to make her feel really special. Which makes them less likely to bother to do so.
           
          Making her feel special isn’t a motivating factor for his behavior; it’s a motivating factor for women giving men advice on how to do well with women.
           
          Meeting a higher-quality/chemistry woman however? Now that’s a motivating factor for his behavior. But this only works if said woman compromises on chemistry/quality in order to motivate his behavior.
           
          Therefore, I agree with all of Stacy’s comments on this thread.

        9. Tom10

          @ Emily, the original
          Sorry I just saw your additional comment after posting.
           
          “Have you read the piece on babe.net about a woman who hooked up with comedian Aziz Ansari?”
           
          I hadn’t read it but heard something about it alright; I just read it now.
           
          “people have all different reasons for why they hook up with someone” 
           
          Well I think Ansari’s reason for wanting to hook up was the same as every other guy on the planet’s really; so no difference there. And Grace (the lady in question) didn’t actually want to hook up so we can’t count that.
           
          But point taken; sometimes people just end up hooking up due to rolling with the situation rather than for any intentional reason.

        10. Emily, the original

          Tom10,

          Making her feel special isn’t a motivating factor for his behavior;

          But it should be. My dear Thomas, this was advice for you. If you meet a woman who likes you and has a higher SMV than you (which I know is your goal  🙂 ), and you want to keep her, make her feel special. Then she won’t jump ship if a man with a higher SMV gives her a wink.

        11. Emily, the original

          Tom10,

          . And Grace (the lady in question) didn’t actually want to hook up so we can’t count that.

          I disagree. It does count. It depends on the woman, of course, but I’d be surprised if most women don’t have at least one sexual experience that, when they look back, they have no idea why they agreed to it. And I know of at least one guy friend I had in college who expressed a similar story — he left in the middle of a sexual encounter (he “didn’t finish,” which was a big deal to him at 22). He decided he didn’t really want to be there.

        12. Tom10

          @ Emily, the original
          “But it should be. My dear Thomas, this was advice for you. f you meet a woman who likes you and has a higher SMV than you (which I know is your goal  🙂 ), and you want to keep her, make her feel special. Then she won’t jump ship if a man with a higher SMV gives her a wink”.
           
          Ha I’ll resist the bait Emily.
           
          However, I think you, Stacy, Sylvana and I are more or less in agreement on this thread and simply recognizing the inherent compromises required as part of long-term relationships.
           
          Of course no-one wants to compromise and many people won’t, unless they’re forced to, which is why we’re all here I guess…
           
          “I disagree. It does count. It depends on the woman, of course, but I’d be surprised if most women don’t have at least one sexual experience that, when they look back, they have no idea why they agreed to it.”
           
          Fair enough. On second thoughts you’re correct; many people hook up without actually really knowing why.

        13. Emily, the original

          Tom10,

          Ha I’ll resist the bait Emily.

          But you did take it. You responded.   🙂

        14. Shaukat

          Tom,

          You’re right about my primary motivation when it comes to dating, but I don’t think that changes anything I said. Even if a man is solely motivated date in order to have sex with many attractive women, if he meets someone he likes and feels a connection with his options will become irrelevant.

          As to whether such a man will give the woman validation and make her feel special, well, it depends what you mean by that. He won’t allow himself to be treated as a doormat and he won’t worship her and attach his own worth to her presence, but most emotionally healthy women would find a guy who acts like that pathetic anyways.

    3. 14.3
      S.

      I’m having a problem understanding the whole “exciting” factor.
      Why would a guy who makes you feel safe not be exciting (or not as exciting as the ex?) Or why would anyone consider someone who treats others (including the woman they’re with) like crap as exciting?

      Silvana, I honestly do not know.   If I don’t feel safe with a man, I will shut down.  I don’t have abuse history, just I have instincts on who I can trust or not.  It’s like a doe in the woods.  I know when to run. 🙂

      Maybe to others they are conditioned by life differently and unsafe to them is like . . . riding a roller coaster (which I do like) or thrill-seeking activities like bungee jumping or sky diving.  So not always as safe as staying home but maybe people get excited by that little fear that makes those activities exciting?

      I’m just guessing, though.  A one-time thing is one thing.  But a relationship like that for months, years, for me the fear and worry would override the thrill.

      1. 14.3.1
        Sylvana

        S.

        You’re making a very good point. I guess there are variations of the term excitement. When it comes to relationships, I tend to think of excitement as “looking forward to something (seeing him, being with him, etc.). In a sense of feeling good. Like the excitement you feel when that new car you’ve always wanted and finally were able to buy is about to be delivered…lol

        I’ve never considered it in terms of adrenaline, I guess – nervous excitement deriving from danger. Probably because I always hated that feeling. In my line of work, you get hurt a lot. While I won’t back down because of it, I definitely do not like that kind of excitement. But there are plenty others who do.

         

        1. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          I’ve never considered it in terms of adrenaline, I guess – nervous excitement deriving from danger. 

          There’s a mix of hormones that goes off when you’re attracted to someone. That’s why people do stupid shit under the influence of infatuation.

        2. Sylvana

          Emily,

          oh yes… that dreaded mix of hormones. Sadly, I’m rather familiar with it.

          I guess I’m lucky, though, since I have something that puts the lid back on those hormones whenever I encounter certain behaviors. Maybe my very dominant personality helps me out here.

          It’s a lot harder with someone who is just not interested back, but otherwise a great person. I still won’t do anything stupid, but it’s a lot harder to get over – especially since it’s so rare.

          I guess I’m not a relationship adrenaline junkie. But I’m definitely an attraction junkie.

           

        3. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          I guess I’m not a relationship adrenaline junkie. But I’m definitely an attraction junkie.

          I’m not sure I understand the difference.

        4. Sylvana

          Emily,

          I’ll have to refer to Marika’s post here. The whole part about intermittent reward, and how women get “addicted” to the thrill they derive from unpredictability. Unpredictability become the arousal factor. They’re relationship adrenaline junkies. I am definitely not one of them, because that trait is a total turn-off to me.

          I am, however, totally addicted to attraction/chemistry. I will chose the short-term thrill I get from attraction/chemistry (due to reasons other than unpredictability) over a relationship with less chemistry any day.

           

        5. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,
          The whole part about intermittent reward, and how women get “addicted” to the thrill they derive from unpredictability. Unpredictability become the arousal factor. … I am, however, totally addicted to attraction/chemistry. I will chose the short-term thrill I get from attraction/chemistry (due to reasons other than unpredictability) over a relationship with less chemistry any day.
          I understand what you are saying but high chemistry/attraction is, on some level, based on the feeling of being off balance. Does the guy like me? Is he going to call me? What’s he going to try to do on the date?,  etc.

    4. 14.4
      Marika

      Sylvana

      If I were you, I’d just be grateful that you can’t relate to the excitement from being drawn to an unpredictable, unavailable man. It’s difficult to explain if you haven’t been there. But I’m not sure it’s something you need to understand.

      1. 14.4.1
        Emily, the original

        Marika,

        If I were you, I’d just be grateful that you can’t relate to the excitement from being drawn to an unpredictable, unavailable man.

        I agree. I think the women who seem to be always be in good relationships do two things: pick the relationship-oriented guys and want the men who want them. I’m starting to think it might be that simple.

        1. Sylvana

          If wanting the men who want you would only be that simple…sigh

          I WISH.

        2. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          If wanting the men who want you would only be that simple…sigh

          But it is simple, isn’t it? At least easier, I think. To relax, fall back and let go of the rope.

        3. Gala

          “pick the relationship-oriented guys and want the men who want them”

          And that would be how most men pick their spouses. They just pick the first one that will have them at the moment in time when they feel they want to settle down. And then, of course, they cheat to get that missing exciting factor in.

           

        4. Emily, the original

          Gala,

          And that would be how most men pick their spouses. They just pick the first one that will have them at the moment in time when they feel they want to settle down.

          I didn’t mean settling so much as picking partners based on a  different set of criteria. When I was in graduate school, I remember a friend picking one of our classmates as someone she would date if she was single. And I remember that struck me as odd. Why him? Was she even into him? But he was a good guy and he was cute.

        5. Sylvana

          Emily,

          The concept is simple. The execution is simple in theory. Sadly, in practice, the guys who do want me (when it comes to relationships) do not incite any sort of arousal in me – quite the opposite. So while I might like them back, I cannot make myself be intimate with them. I might still manage the sex part, but would not be able to tolerate intimate touches like kissing, cuddling, etc.

        6. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          I might still manage the sex part, but would not be able to tolerate intimate touches like kissing, cuddling, etc.

          Kissing sometimes seems like more intimate than sex.

      2. 14.4.2
        Sylvana

        Marika,

        I’ve been attracted to my share of unavailable men. Unpredictability is thankfully a character trait that makes them unattractive to me.

        I can fully understand how someone can be attracted to a man who displays both those traits (where you are basically lamenting the fact that you’re attracted to him DESPITE him having those traits).

        What I had a hard time understanding is how the traits themselves could be considered exciting. Meaning the ex boyfriend was more exciting because he treated you like crap, not because you were more attracted to him.

        As S. pointed out, some people do get a thrill from the risk (glutton for punishment?). I can fully understand it in a sense of adrenaline junkies (although I am definitely not one of them). But I had never even considered excitement in that sense when it comes to relationships.

        In that case, I have to agree with you. I am VERY glad I cannot relate to the excitement of being treated badly. I simply have no tolerance for that. From anyone, not just romantic partners.

        1. Stacy

          @Sylvana

          I don’t think men are exciting because they treat women like crap. Men are exciting when they are extremely hot and high powered. Problem is, that combination tends to blind one to the flaws of the individual because men who are like that tend to have many options and don’t value you the way you should be valued. , the intense physical ‘want’ or chemistry is undeniable with that sort of man. A man with less va va voom  tends to ‘put you more on a pedastal’, hence, he is safe.  So I don’t think women set out to sign up for men to treat them badly. It’s just that, theoretically speaking, many people tend to put up more with people who are more high value in their eyes.

          I stay far farrrrrrrr away from these sorts of men. However, I can certainly understand it.

    5. 14.5
      Nissa

      I’m hoping Jeremy will chime in and tell us which book it is, that tells about the arousal / attraction issue. For me, a lot of these nice guys would massively benefit from a makeover. It’s not that they are not at least average in looks, it’s that their looks get buried in bad presentation – bad haircuts, ill fitting or unstylish clothes and general sloppiness. That’s why a woman will often date a guy for whom she has little to no sexual attraction. She knows that if she likes his personality, then a makeover will go a long way toward improving his appearance enough for her to feel arousal. Even Channing Tatum was unattractive with that weird beard, it made his fat look fat.

      1. 14.5.1
        Nissa

        oops – his face look fat.

      2. 14.5.2
        Emily, the original

        Nissa,

        I’m hoping Jeremy will chime in and tell us which book it is, that tells about the arousal / attraction issue.

        WHERE is Jeremy? Did his wife bar him from communicating with his blog babes?   🙂

        That’s why a woman will often date a guy for whom she has little to no sexual attraction. She knows that if she likes his personality, then a makeover will go a long way toward improving his appearance enough for her to feel arousal. 

        I don’t know about you, but I don’t really have any interest in making someone over. In my opinion, if a woman is really attracted to a man, she doesn’t even notice what he ‘s wearing (and might even think it’s kind of cute if he’s wearing something unstylish).

        1. Nissa

          Emily TO,

          I absolutely agree, I don’t have an interest in making someone over, but I would be happy to point him in the direction of a professional. For example, my Dad was the kind of guy that had no clue what to wear and routinely asked for assistance in picking clothes. In fact, I still have one of the sweaters that I helped him pick out hanging in my closet. He wore it all the time up until shortly before he passed away, so it is a nice reminder of something we did together that made him happy.

          I mostly mean genuinely professional help that is the equivalent of a woman contouring her makeup. It’s highlighting the assets and minimizing the things you consider flaws. Mostly to benefit the men, really. My Dad was one of those guys who was cute, but not stunning, and he had rarely dated in life. He’s the kind of guy I think of when I’m talking about this. I would agree that attraction can spark in spite of a lot of things, but arousal? Not so much. That why I hoped to get a better definition of arousal, because for me (like men) it’s almost purely visual and physical.

          Just like in that movie, Hitch. It’s not that these guys aren’t dateable or worthy. It’s that poor presentation makes them unnoticeable. They aren’t standing out. Better presentation can do that, for either gender, by sparking arousal that can lead to attraction for all kinds of reasons, like character. But I’d guess that more women actually do it, partly due to more pressure on women in regard to looks, and because women tend to do more self help. It just doesn’t occur to men how much mileage (and increased access to sex) that they would get by improving their presentation.

        2. Emily, the original

          Nissa,

          For example, my Dad was the kind of guy that had no clue what to wear and routinely asked for assistance in picking clothes.

          I understand what you mean. My grandfather was color blind and my grandmother picked out his clothes for him. After she died … he started wearing contrasting plaids!  🙂

          Just like in that movie, Hitch. It’s not that these guys aren’t dateable or worthy. It’s that poor presentation makes them unnoticeable. 

          Love that movie. The dance lesson scene is classic. Kevin James gets cleaned up in terms of presentation, but , interestingly, the woman really notices him when he does something that demonstrates he isn’t kissing her ass and he has some backbone.

          I would agree that attraction can spark in spite of a lot of things, but arousal? Not so much.

          I’m confused by this. Aren’t attraction and arousal pretty much the same thing? If I ‘m attracted to someone, I’m imagining what it would be like to get them alone … isn’t that arousal?

        3. Sylvana

          I’d have to agree with Emily here:

          Attraction basically is arousal.

          But I think a lot of women (since, lord forbid, we aren’t sexual creatures) get this confused.

          The rest is basically compatibility that will draw you closer to someone, the way you would be drawn to a friend. And it explains why all the good qualities/improvements to appearance in the world alone won’t spark attraction.

          They can enhance it, but they cannot spark it. Depending on what sparks a woman’s arousal, the man can look/dress however he wants, he’ll still be totally attractive to her.

      3. 14.5.3
        Sylvana

        Nissa, Emily,

        that’s so funny! I was thinking the same thing. Where is Jeremy when you need him?

        1. Emily, the original

          Sylvana, 

          Where is Jeremy when you need him?

          His wife needs to understand that his talents are needed here.  🙂

      4. 14.5.4
        Sylvana

        Nissa,

        appearance can make a difference for sure. But that’s not all.

        It’s more of an attitude. Sensuality is incredibly hot (not outright sexuality – there’s a difference). And that’s a skill anyone can learn. Take strippers, for example. I’m absolutely not attracted to women. There’ll be 10 super hot chicks in a strip club, and I can admit they’re hot, and never feel anything. And then there’s that one where I go: EEKS, time to go! I’m getting turned on by a woman. Not because of her looks, but he “energy” that comes from her?

        You might not feel this way, but I’ve seen actors that had me infatuated with a character they’ve played, yet the same actor in a different role won’t do anything for me. I might still consider him good-looking, just no longer attractive. Same goes for an actor who is actually not all that good-looking. He can still be hot, depending on the character he plays.

        It definitely goes way beyond looks. (although personally, I will admit that I think ANY man looks way better/manlier/more attractive with a short beard (and short hair). Others like the baby face look).

        1. Nissa

          I know what you mean, but I was thinking in terms of online dating, where you don’t get to see a person in motion right away, just a picture. Not many people have still photos that show smoldering sensuality – it’s easier to tell when you meet someone in person. That’s a big reason why I disagree with one of Evan’s key points – having email and phone chats before dates – because that’s a very important intangible that is visual in nature.

        2. Sylvana

          Nissa,

          that’s very true.

  15. 15
    Data

    Re: exciting vs. boring/safe

    Not trying to oversimplify human attraction or relationship dynamics–just throwing this out there for thought…

    Anyone who has taken a psych class probably remembers this: Researchers were training rats to push a lever. With a FIXED reward schedule, a treat was dispensed to the rat every single time it pushed the lever. With a VARIABLE reward schedule, a treat was dispensed after a random, unpredictable number of pushes (for example, first after one push, then after three, then after two, then after five, and so on).

    Variable schedule rats continued to push the lever at high rates as if compelled, whereas the fixed schedule rats stopped pushing the lever until they wanted a treat.

    Applied to dating: Say a woman is dating two guys. When she calls (pushes the lever), Guy A always answers (dispenses treat). Guy B sometimes answers. Guy A is predictable (“safe”); hypothetical woman may stop calling as much because she knows she can count on him to answer when she wants to get a hold of him. She may get bored, take him for granted, or mistake the lack of anxiousness on her part for lack of a spark.

    With Guy B, on the other hand, the unpredictability of whether or not she will be “rewarded” may translate into anxiousness on her part, which in turn may be misperceived as chemistry/desire/excitement.

    1. 15.1
      Emily, the original

      Data,

      With Guy B, on the other hand, the unpredictability of whether or not she will be “rewarded” may translate into anxiousness on her part, which in turn may be misperceived as chemistry/desire/excitement.

      That’s exactly what it is. Partial positive reinforcement. Las Vegas was built on it.

  16. 16
    Marika

    Agreed, Data & Emily.

    For those people who aren’t aroused by intermittent reward, I take my hat off to you. I consistently have to make a conscious choice not to go with the white hot chemistry over safety and consistency. I wish predictability aroused me!

    1. 16.1
      Emily, the original

      Marika,

      I consistently have to make a conscious choice not to go with the white hot chemistry over safety and consistency. I wish predictability aroused me! 

      Me, too. It’s the same self-control I have to wield to stop myself from going face forward into the brownie pan. (And the only way I do that its to eat a couple of brownies and spray cleaning fluid on the rest.)

    2. 16.2
      Sylvana

      I am definitely one of those lucky ones who does not find unpredictability arousing at all. It’s a total turn-off, actually.

      Then again, I can’t really say predictability arouses me either. It will definitely enhance attraction that is already there, but it won’t spark it by itself.

  17. 17
    Sarah

    Wow. It is like I’m reading this about myself. Sooo similar right down to the attachment styles, the pattern and the ex.

    Mine was the first 3 mos was amazing.

    let me share something. We just “ tried” again -this roller coaster has been going on for 1 1/2 yrs …and I just found out that the same ex that “ needs him” (she also needed cuddles and hugs when we were together … ) they are still in daily contact and he has gone into business with her !!! Like you , I explode , curse etc etc  then I calm down , remember how deeply I love him , how connected we are , etc and we start all over again

    NOT THIS TIME   This isn’t going to be my story anymore ! Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the great advice  it’s so true

     

    1. 17.1
      Sylvana

      Good for you. Best of luck 🙂

    2. 17.2
      Clare

      Sarah,

      Though the details varied a little bit, this was exactly my experience with my ex of 5 years. Each time we had an argument which proved just how much we were not on the same page as far as a relationship was concerned, each time he treated me in a way that would have made a different woman walk away and never look back, I would talk myself into staying by telling myself how much he needed me, how strong our bond was, how much I loved him, etc. etc. etc.

      I really should have saved myself the time and the heartache because it was never going to get better. If this is how your guy is behaving, if this is what your relationship is like, I really hope you do just find the strength to walk away and cut him off. Grieve, mourn the relationship (you might be surprised that it takes less time than you thought) and put yourself back out there. Good luck!

      1. 17.2.1
        Sarah

        Thank you Clare. That is exactly it. We tell each other we have a connection like no other, that we belong together, that we were meant to be together, that we have never felt like this, but 1 1/2 yrs and we are still doing this?

        Thank you for affirming and this is exactly what it has been like, it is heart wrenching. I am so tired of the big swings of my heart… We were apart for 3 months and I was doing so well and bam! he shows back up making all kinds of promises and professes of love.. I cannot mentally do it anymore.

  18. 18
    Jeremy

    Emily, Nissa and Sylvana, what can I tell you that you don’t already know?  Well, perhaps I can tell a personal story that may add some insight into this issue.

     

    When my grandfather was alive I used to visit him on a weekly basis.  And though I loved him dearly, the visits were somewhat painful to me because I so wished I could help him overcome his problems.  My grandfather was something of a hermit – he lived in a small bungalow with his wife (whom he disliked intensely) and spent his days in his basement sewing clothes (he was a tailor).  If he was awake he was sewing, with brief breaks for meals, coffee, and Wheel of Fortune.  His wife would try to get him to leave the house – to go anywhere, do anything – but he would not.  No theater, restaurants, vacations.  He hated family dinners and spent as little time at them as he could.  Ask him what he wanted to do and he would tell you he just wanted to be left alone, and that if he had his life to do over again, he would have avoided all women and never would have married, since the 2 wives he had in his lifetime were nothing but trouble.

     

    Yet when I approached the conversation from a different angle and asked him what he had done in his life – what had value to him in his memory, what made him HAPPY – he would reply that family was what he valued.  That his memories of family events were sharp and gave him pleasure.  That his memories of sporadic trips to California with his wife were the best experiences of his life.  He did not recall that his wife had to literally force him to go on those trips kicking and screaming, or that when he went to those family dinners he couldn’t wait to leave at the time.

     

    My grandfather’s problem was the sharp disconnect between the happiness of his experiencing self and the happiness of his remembering self.  The things that made his two selves happy were too dis-similar!  And the fact that, like so many people, he only perceived the value of his present, experiencing self was a huge part of the problem.  It prevented him from having the insight to know that it is the remembering self that determines our day-to-day happiness, not the experiencing self.  If only he could have known this, he might have had more joy in his life.  If only he could have seen this, he would have realized that spending his days sewing in the basement, which is what he THOUGHT would make him happy, did not make him happy at all.  Wasted days.  Wasted years.

     

    I unfortunately inherited the disconnect between what makes my two selves happy, but thankfully life has given me insight into the issue.  When I first married, my wife wanted to have company for Saturday lunches and I balked, thinking that what would make me happy was time alone to read.  I gave in to her wishes and we developed many friendships with other families that we now see often.  The friendships provide happiness and meaning to my life in a way that reading alone never would.  What I thought would make me happy wasn’t accurate.  What I thought would make me unhappy was exactly what did make me happy.  I should have given more thought to my remembering self.

     

    This story and this concept applies thoroughly to this discussion.  It applies to Emily’s confusion between chemistry and compatibility, to Marika’s courageous efforts to reshuffle her priorities, to Sylvana’s despairing comments about the futility of relationships, and all the other comments of those looking for the balance they need to find their own happiness.

    1. 18.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      OMG where have you been? Talk about partial positive reinforcement! You stay away, only to reappear. You’re driving us blog ladies crazy!! Marika and I will be on a dopamine high the rest of the day!  🙂

      What I thought would make me unhappy was exactly what did make me happy.  I should have given more thought to my remembering self.

       

      Thanks for sharing your story. In terms of chemistry and compatibility, I did have one boyfriend in college who was the proverbial good guy. He did what he said he would and I felt contented in the relationship. He graduated before me and moved away … and then I met the man who would show me what sex was all about. Two very different experiences, but you’re right in that I am probably overly focusing on the sexiest parts of that memory instead of the high level of assholism he was capable of.

    2. 18.2
      Nissa

      Interesting story, Jeremy. Thanks for weighing in. I just find it hard to connect with those thoughts, because I’m the opposite.

      Every person I loved, appealed to me physically (was arousing) when I first met them. While I was attracted to them also, I have never managed to be aroused by someone by continuing to date them or by appreciating their finer qualities. I know this because I’ve tried repeatedly to become physically attracted to guys I’ve dated, who were good human beings, who treated me well, who had good jobs and were dependable. While I have managed to be more attracted to their character, my baseline of arousal has never increased more than about 10%. I’ve also been aroused by guys that I discovered were not boyfriend material, and while I either never dated them or stopped dating those guys, I continued to be aroused by them.

      So I’m still a little puzzled by how other ladies are experiencing arousal as opposed to the attraction that we feel to someone’s character or behavior.

      1. 18.2.1
        Jeremy

        Trying to understand other personality types is sometimes like trying to explain the colour blue to a blind person.  Blue is blue.  If you’ve never seen it, you can’t really know it.

         

        I mentioned that in my circles the most stable pairings tend to be male income +1 and female SMV +1.  But what I neglected to mention is that the women in such pairings are almost always Guardian-type personalities.  Guardian females, who value marriage and stability and community and societally-imposed values.  Such women want, above all else, to have a certain place in the family/community.  They don’t lament the hot guy who got away.  Because while they certainly value hotness, it isn’t their ultimate relationship or sexual meta-goal.

         

        There seem to be few (if any) Guardian women on this blog.  Not a surprise, since this blog deals with “how” and “why”, and Guardians prefer “who, what, where and when.”  Most of the women here seem to be Idealists (who value emotion, understanding, and the way things “should” be), and/or Explorer/Artisan types (who value experience, novelty, and expression).  Such personality types will not generally grow in arousal to someone who is intellectually attractive.  It isn’t how they work.  But that’s not to say it isn’t how others work.  The colour blue to a blind person.

        1. marika

          I agree with most of what you’ve said, Jeremy, but as an Idealist, I disagree with your point regarding intelligence. I highly value intelligence, and given that I want to understand ‘why’, I’m drawn to men who either ask those similar questions, or are intelligent enough to try to answer my ‘whys’. I can’t imagine being with a man who didn’t arouse my intelligence. I think that’s why I could easily let go of the ultra hot Brazillian guy I briefly dated; he lacked intellectual curiosity. I felt no pull to learn more about him and how he ticked. It didn’t seem like there was much there to learn. He was by far the hottest guy I’ve ever dated (or seen!), but after one date I let it go.

        2. Jeremy

          I never said that Idealists don’t value intelligence.  Many do.  Most, I’d say.  When I said that Idealists don’t grow in arousal with someone they find “intellectually attractive” what I meant was a man who meets their list of criteria but whom they didn’t find arousing – someone they “should” find attractive, but don’t.  I didn’t mean that intellectualism wouldn’t be attractive to them.

        3. Sylvana

          Great to have you back, Jeremy! I learn something new every time you’re around.

          I’m definitely the Explorer/Artisan type. Never knew such a thing existed. And here I thought I was just crazy. The Guardian woman is the one who always baffled me, because it cannot relate to her at all. It is interesting to learn that it is a personality trait, rather than programming that causes them to make the choices they do.

          I feel Nissa’s pain when it comes to arousal. After many years, I finally figured out what triggers mine. Then it took many more years to finally accept that it cannot be changed. Hence my despairing comments about the futility of relationships (wink). It simply sucks not feeling arousal toward men who might otherwise bring you long-term happiness over a short-term high.

          I only wished I would have known about those ultimate relationship or sexual meta-goals a lot earlier in life. I wasted way too many years trying to be a woman who would be a good partner to attract a good relationship. Instead, I should have had a lot more great sex with the hot guys while I was still hot myself…lol

          It would have been nice to have your knowledge around back then, Jeremy.

          But maybe Nissa can still figure out what triggers her arousal. It might be something simple that she can find in a relationship quality guy.

          Despairing as I am, I do like to hear about a good, happy ending (and I’m not referring to the gutter kind).

  19. 19
    Marika

    Shaukat

    I’m glad you said that about men with options. I’m always drawn to guys with charisma and big personalities. So they tend to be surrounded by other people, including other interested women. I’d hate to have to give that up for a shyer guy who worshipped me.

    Of course the blinded by chemistry thing still applies, but I’m not a fan of completely changing my type. And definitely not a fan of having a power imbalance where I think I’m hotter, to curtail cheating.

    1. 19.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @Marika

      You do know that not all men with options have big personalities?  The guys with options that settle into relationships tend to be more on the strong silent type end of the spectrum.  Like women with big personalities, guys with big personalities tend to be high maintenance.  They constantly need to have their egos stroked, which makes them far less likely to be faithful.  In my humble opinion, these people are emotional energy vampires.

      1. 19.1.1
        Marika

        Of course I know that, YAG. As AAORK pointed out, it’s good to think about the motivations and biases of people giving advice. You’ve said that you’re an introvert, so of course you’re going to say that the strong, silent types are better relationship partners. But these are just preferences, and mine is someone more extraverted. Not to say I’ll definitely end up with someone like that, but it’s my strong preference.

        It’s not only strong silent types who end up in happy relationships.

        I can also handle a bit of high maintenance. As a middle child of 4 in a big Catholic family: I’m used to it!

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          It’s not only strong silent types who end up in happy relationships.

          Some of us like a man with a little charisma.  🙂

        2. Yet Another Guy

          @Marika

          While I am definitely an introvert, I would not refer myself as the strong, silent type.  Most women misread me as an extrovert because they associate introversion with shyness.  I am anything, but shy.  However, like most introverts, crowds sap my energy reserves.

          I am a middle child as well, but I no longer do high maintenance.  I do not have the time nor the inclination to tend to a high maintenance woman when the return on investment is no greater than that of a low-maintenance woman.

        3. Jeremy

          ” You’ve said that you’re an introvert, so of course you’re going to say that the strong, silent types are better relationship partners.”  Exactly so 🙂 

           

          Now, bookish types are really the best partners, though.  Far better than extroverts.  Proven fact.  🙂

      2. 19.1.2
        Sylvana

        I find myself with YAG for once. There is a big difference between introverts and strong, silent types.

        Strong, silent types exude absolute confidence. Unlike the guys who think they’re confident, but come across as arrogant or cocky. They don’t need to strut their stuff (in any way) – they know they’re good. They have a “you don’t want to mess with me, because you will lose” kind of energy, without being in your face aggressive or obnoxious.

        A lot of them are true alphas the way you would encounter in the animal kingdom. Which might be why a lot of women are drawn to them like moths to light.

        Sadly, a lot of “brooding” guys also get mistaken as strong and silent. I guess their energies are similar. But generally (including the brooding kind), the strong, silent ones tend to be the average hero of your standard romance novel.

  20. 20
    Marika

    Tom 10

    This kind of approach is obviously working for you now, but are you at all concerned about future you? If you don’t mind me asking.

  21. 21
    Marika

    Haha, Jeremy. Welcome back!

    Everyone knows the best relationship partners are tall blond Aussie women…😉

    1. 21.1
      Emily, the original

      Everyone knows the best relationship partners are tall blond Aussie women…

      No, no, no. They’re average height strawberry blondes.   🙂

      1. 21.1.1
        marika

        Whose name being with ‘E’, right? 😉

        1. Emily, the original

          Whose name being with ‘E’, right? 😉

          Mais oui, mademoiselle.    🙂

        2. Sylvana

          You guys crack me up!

        3. Yet Another Guy

          Lol!  I recently acquired a taste for blonds after being drawn to brunettes.   Sadly, most blonds are not true blonds. 🙂

        4. Jeremy

          Alas, that is true. I’ve known many ostensible ‘blondes’, yet never found liquid paper on any of their computer screens for editing purposes. False advertising!

        5. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          Lol!  I recently acquired a taste for blonds after being drawn to brunettes.   Sadly, most blonds are not true blonds

          The only way to prove it to you would be rather disgusting, but I can assure you that the carpet matches the drapes.

  22. 22
    Marika

    Jeremy said

    When I said that Idealists don’t grow in arousal with someone they find “intellectually attractive” what I meant was a man who meets their list of criteria but whom they didn’t find arousing – someone they “should” find attractive, but don’t.  I didn’t mean that intellectualism wouldn’t be attractive to them.

    Ah, now I think I understand. Do you mean that someone like me wouldn’t grow in arousal to someone who is ‘good on paper’. Is that what you meant? If so, I agree. I’ve met many a man who was ‘good on paper’ and felt nothing for. Tried, but couldn’t make it work for me.

    1. 22.1
      jeremy

      Yes.  Or rather…..maybe.  Depends on what we mean by “looks good on paper.”  The problem with the list of what looks good on paper is who wrote the list.  Oftentimes that list is externally-imposed based on societal values.  So if the list is that a man should be kind and successful, well whose criteria are those?  If they aren’t yours, you won’t grow in attraction as an Idealist personality.  A Guardian would, though, since the hallmark of that personality is the adoption of externally-imposed values as their own.  But if the “list” of criteria were your own, you might grow in attraction.  I recall Nissa mentioning Alan De Botton – how when she first saw him in a You Tube video she was ambivalent, but when she heard his accent, his intelligence, his discussion of ideas, and his demeanour, she found him attractive indeed.  But that list of factors was HER list, not society’s.  So I believe an Idealist can grow in arousal once she gets to know someone better, but only if what she gets to know about the man speaks to her directly.

      1. 22.1.1
        Jeremy

        To further clarify by example, I once dated a woman with a strongly Idealist personality. I thought she was beautiful and interesting and was disappointed when, after a month or two of dating, she told me she wasn’t really attracted to me.  We stayed in contact, though, because I was still very interested and she was ambivalent about the breakup, and after a few months of conversation we resumed a relationship. She became quite attracted to me, in spite of her initial ambivalence. But it wasn’t because of my niceness or my job or my status of my husband potential. It was because I understood her. Thoroughly and totally. And to an Idealist, being known in that way is often extremely rare and attractive. It is a personal list, not an imposed one, and is based on identity and meaning – the lifeblood of the Idealist.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy, 

          It was because I understood her. Thoroughly and totally. And to an Idealist, being known in that way is often extremely rare and attractive.

          This is very true. I do have a male friend who understands me (and I understand him), and it is rare. I am very fond of him but I have never grown an attraction to him, despite being friends for 6 years. I don’t find him unappealing. There’s just nothing drawing me to him. I think, to use your terminology, he’s a guardian type, and the explorer part of me gets frustrated that every bone in his body is risk-averse.

        2. Jeremy

          Ha ha, Explorer women and Guardian men….not a great combo in the long-term, though not an uncommon one.  That’s the situation that tends to end in female-initiated divorce where the wife feels bored, and the man can’t understand what he did wrong.  They both usually fell in love because of their difference – he, with how exciting and sexual she was, she with how reliable he was.

           

          Anyway, I didn’t mean to suggest that all Idealists would find being understood as arousing.  Some would find the opposite – mystery and intrigue – arousing, depending on their background.  My point was just to say that each Idealist will have her own personal list of what qualities she actually finds arousing, which will have zero to do with the list that society tries to impose upon her.

        3. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          My point was just to say that each Idealist will have her own personal list of what qualities she actually finds arousing, which will have zero to do with the list that society tries to impose upon her.

          Ah, that is so true. That’s why when people argue about status on here in terms of SMV, I’m slightly baffled. I can certainly respect someone’s accomplishments, but they don’t in and of themselves do much for me as a woman.

          I need to read more about these personality types, but you hit the nail about identity and meaning with Idealists. A few years ago, I lost the 3 people who really knew me (three friends; one died, two floated away, although I’m still in limited contact with one) and that was a big loss. I’ve made new friends and have been very fond of some, but I usually end up realizing at some point –these friendships don’t feel like anything. There’s no there there, to use the famous quote.

        4. sylvana

          Emily,

          I find it so interesting that you say that. I’m also an Explorer (thanks so much for that info, Jeremy), and I find myself much the same.

          I do have to say that it does, absolutely, also span to actual friends, not just relationships.

        5. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          I find it so interesting that you say that. I’m also an Explorer (thanks so much for that info, Jeremy), and I find myself much the same.

          If you’re referring to having the need to be known and understood (if I am getting this correct; I don’t know anywhere near as much as Jeremy does on the subject), that’s an Idealist trait, not an Explorer. I am primarily an Idealist but my secondary personality type is Explorer. There’s a quiz you can take online.

          I pulled these definitions from the internet:

          Idealists as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. All Idealists share the following core characteristics: Idealists are enthusiastic, they trust their intuition, yearn for romance, seek their true self, prize meaningful relationships, and dream of attaining wisdom.
          The Explorer personality type is forever in search of the next big adventure. They are intensely curious and unusually creative, as well as spontaneous, impulsive, restless and energetic. They are adaptable, flexible, optimistic and fiercely independent.

        6. Jeremy

          Emily, I can’t speak for Sylvana (curious also as to what she meant, because I agree with your distinction).  But rather than looking at the online horoscope-like definitions of the personality types, it basically boils down to how people tend to view the world and based on what we make decisions.  A pure Explorer views the world in very concrete terms (who, when, where, what, how; less concerned about the why), while a pure Idealist views the world in very abstract terms (why, how; less concerned about the details).  Both would have their own lists of what they would find attractive in a man, for example, but the one’s list would likely involve concrete, tangible things while the other’s list would involve her ideas of the meaning behind those tangible things.  The pure Idealist makes judgments based on her own set of personal values, while the pure Explorer makes decisions based on what gives her the most positive affect.

           

          Again, few of use fall squarely into the “pure” categories.  We all have bits of each type in us.  Some fall more to the extremes than others, and those are the ones best described by the model.  For others who fall more into middle-ground the model is less useful.  The value in the types is not in trying to put labels on people, but rather to understand their differing motivations.  It explains why a person like me, a person like you, and a person like Sylvana could look at the same thing in the world and come to 3 completely different conclusions.  Our basic assumptions differ, and they differ systematically.

        7. Emily, the original

          Hi Jeremy,

          Jeremy,

          But rather than looking at the online horoscope-like definitions of the personality types, 

          Was that bitch slap? 🙂   I liked the short descriptions I posted. For me, at least, they perfectly described the two sides of my personality.
          Explorer makes decisions based on what gives her the most positive affect.
          Wouldn’t they be looking for a romantic partner who excited them?
          The value in the types is not in trying to put labels on people, but rather to understand their differing motivations.
          I tend to attract a lot of Guardian types, which baffles me. I have a hard time relating to the rule-following and logic.
           

        8. Jeremy

          @Emily, I suppose it was a slap, but not directed at you 🙂  Rather, at the way this stuff is sometimes used.  Theories about personality have been rightly criticized as being unscientific and tests such as the Myers Briggs test have been debunked as inconsistent and not necessarily informative.  Because people don’t fall neatly into categories, and most of us can recognize some aspects of ourselves in all the descriptions unless we really fall to one end of the spectrum.  I find the stuff useful, but only when looking at root motivations, not as predictions of behavior or how good someone will be at any given job.

           

          Root motivations.  Remember when Sylvana posted about how “a woman” will leave a man who will not attend to her pleasure?  Or when you wrote that you need a man who “takes care of business” or that you like to “jump off a cliff with no pants on?”  Or when I wrote that “people around me made no sense, refused to examine their motivations?”  Or when Robert Glover (in Evan’s latest podcast) told people to be their “authentic selves?”  All of those things speak to the root motivations of the people writing, but not to other people.  Being my “authentic self” is not my personal motivation – it makes me smile because it is so illogical and irrelevant from the perspective of a Rational personality.  My authentic self changes, I have many authentic selves, and my authentic self is whatever I choose it to be at the time.  But to an Idealist, being one’s authentic self is the primary motivation!  Glover’s words would be very meaningful to other Idealists, just as Sylvana’s would be to Explorers and yours to Idealist/Artisans, and mine would be dry and bizarre to all those types.  But we can understand each other.  We can get along.  We can learn to not be surprised by what we each say and think if we understand our root motivations and how they differ.

        9. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Root motivations.  Remember when Sylvana posted about how “a woman” will leave a man who will not attend to her pleasure?  Or when you wrote that you need a man who “takes care of business” or that you like to “jump off a cliff with no pants on?”  

          LOL Man, do you have a good memory! You get points for that. Not a lot of people are good at listening.

          Being my “authentic self” is not my personal motivation – it makes me smile because it is so illogical and irrelevant from the perspective of a Rational personality.  My authentic self changes, I have many authentic selves, and my authentic self is whatever I choose it to be at the time.  But to an Idealist, being one’s authentic self is the primary motivation!

          I was just going to say — being your authentic self is the only motivation there is. Unconstrained personality takes balls.

           Glover’s words would be very meaningful to other Idealists, just as Sylvana’s would be to Explorers and yours to Idealist/Artisans, and mine would be dry and bizarre to all those types.  

          LOL “dry and bizarre”

          But we can understand each other.  We can get along.  We can learn to not be surprised by what we each say and think if we understand our root motivations and how they differ.

          Yes, very true.

  23. 23
    Kristin

    Hi Evan,

    It’s Kristin! Yesterday I saw you posted my question right when my ex came over to talk about possibly “working on things.” How ironic! Your advice and everyone’s comments certainly help. My main issue or what I’m currently struggling with is this: now he wants to see if we can work on things and has suggested seeing each other once a week to build a connection. A part of me says NO! Move on this is a fraud, and another part of me stills says, “give this a chance. You may regret not trying in the future. Things have changed, trust issues have dissolved, and things MUST be better now.” He also told me he does love me, (he only told me twice during the year we were dating. He says there’s a part of him that feels our relationship was volatile because of the trust issues and control issues, but a part of him too feels now that time has passed-2.5 months- that maybe we would be better the second time around.  I guess i toy with this because i did struggle in the relationship after the trust issues came into play with his ex, and sort of punished him for a long time for it. I know that contributed to a lot of our issues. I feel i have moved on and forgiven him. Am I an idiot for entertaining this? My brain says yes but my heart says no. Appreciate any thoughts.

    1. 23.1
      Christine

      Hi Kristin, thanks for updating the situation.  I hate to be negative and I know this probably isn’t what you want to hear…but my own take on it is to listen to the part of you saying no.  Take this from someone who WAS you at one point, with another noncommittal guy…and is now happily married to another guy who I didn’t have to convince or win over (if anything, my husband was the one working hard to win ME over)

      Excuse my language but I have to call bulls—- on what he said. He dated you for two years and that wasn’t enough time to “build a connection”? He already took up so much of your time and isn’t entitled to more.  I also don’t think that someone who wants to “demote” you from dating you regularly, to then seeing you just once a week, is your future husband.

      I really wish I could tell you this will work out but at least from what I’ve read from you so far, I am just not convinced and think you should move on.

    2. 23.2
      Christine

      Oops I mis-spoke earlier saying you dated for two years, when you just said it was one year…but I still stand by what I said and I think he’s already had enough time to have assessed where things are going.

      If anything, I think you may regret spending more time on this guy, that you could be spending on finding the right person for you.

    3. 23.3
      S.

      Thanks for updating us, Kristin.

      The question is, what has really changed with him in 2.5 months? Have the trust issues really dissolved? There is a slim chance it could work out.  If you both work on your issues together and on each of your own.  And what about the drinking problem, anger management issues, and the cheating that Evan mentioned?

      Those are kind of big issues to dissolve in three months. Has he taken responsibility for those?  You can still forgive him, but that doesn’t mean you have to get back with him.

      I do wish you well.  It’s a difficult situation.

  24. 24
    loubelle

    if he wants to work on himself thats good , if thats the real reason. i feel hes cheating and wants to keep you on a piece of elastic just incase. do not be his fallback girl. let him ‘work on himself’. in that time go no contact, delete his numbers, block him, block emails, delete emails and texts, delete photos, then go ‘work on yourself’. exercise, go out with friends, take up a new hobby, whatever to get your old life back. i was in all honesty a confident woman when i met my ex, at the end of 5 years with him im a shell of who i used to be, that was my fault too, i allowed him to take over my life and i at the end showed signs of co dependancy (his whole family is co dependant), it was dysfunctional and toxic. i got out of there eventually after 5 years. i went no contact 31 days ago deleted everything, blocked the lot. the only way he could have got in touch was turn up at my door or send a letter, and he did neither, which tells me i made the right decision. if he couldnt chase me for one last time, that shows me his laziness isnt isolated. he isnt granting my wish of the break up he is just too lazy to shift as i did all the running about after him. never again. let him work on himself (it angers me that i put in all the hard work for 5 years for another woman to benefit the possibly new and improved ex) i have to get out of thinking that way. let her have him, after a year itll be self pity and another co dependant relationship, unless shes wiser than me and gets out sooner.

  25. 25
    loubelle

    contd:

    i have worked on myself in 31 days no contact, ive got a little bit of myself back like before i was with him. i gave him everything, in that i gave up myself and my hobbies, my time and friends etc and he never complained, he never gave any of that up for me lol. he used the injured soldier routine to keep me isolated to him. i now walk alot with aim to get fitter and feel good about myself, ive lost 7 pound in a few weeks, i feel great although still sad, it gets better believe me. i have been out with friends. i have joined a meet up group and meet new friends. i volunteer at a food bank and atm i am being nominated to be a director of a homeless charity. hows that for a month! i am grieving still and i do embrace all emotions but it gets better. keep busy. go no contact. go live.

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