Why Would My Boyfriend Suddenly Break Up with Me?

I’d been in what seemed like the perfect dating relationship with a man for a couple months until just last week, when he broke up with me out of nowhere. I know a lot of articles tell people who were blindsided by breakups that just because the relationship seemed great to them, it doesn’t mean their partner had been feeling that way, too. In all honesty though, it had appeared to be great on his end, too…

The day he broke up with me, he’d left my place to go to work, kissed me goodbye, and said he couldn’t wait to see me that weekend. The day before, he’d texted me at work just to say how much he missed me, and told me just two days before that I was meeting all of his relationship needs and he was so lucky to have such a sweet girlfriend like me.

Every aspect of our relationship seemed great… The communication seemed strong, we had so much fun together, our goals for the future matched up, the sex was great, and we both showed our appreciation for each other through gestures (he’d surprise me with flowers and gifts, and I’d surprise him by cooking his favorite meal and remembering to check in with how he was doing on the anniversary of his mom’s death).

The night he broke up with me he’d called, and just sounded like he was in such a bad mood. Things just sounded so off compared to the night before, when he’d been at my place getting tickets for a show we were planning to go to that weekend. We got off the phone and I decided to call him back later, saying something had just seemed off and I was worried about him, and did he have anything on his mind he wanted to talk about? He then proceeded to say I liked him more than he liked me, he didn’t see a future for us (in spite of what he’d been consistently saying, even that week) and then blocked me on every social media platform, possible.

When he got his stuff from my place two days later, I asked if we could sit down and talk now that we’d calmed down and some time had passed, because it just didn’t make sense… He looked at me like I disgusted him, grabbed his things, and left without giving me a backwards glance. He even made sure to “unfriend” me on seemingly insignificant apps, like “MyFitnessPal.” I just don’t understand… There was no fight, no distancing, and plenty of letting me know he was crazy about me and loved where our relationship was going.

What causes a man to just break things off abruptly like that? And why did he go to such extremes as to erase me completely from his life, immediately, when I didn’t so much as raise my voice, call him names, or give him reason to think I needed to be blocked from even a food log app? I haven’t tried to contact him at all since he got his stuff, and I just don’t understand… I’m so confused, and it’s really making it difficult to move on. My brain just doesn’t seem to grasp that it’s over because it doesn’t make sense, and I have to actively tell myself each day that it is over and not to contact him because it won’t bring him back and I deserve better. Still…

How do I heal from this? How do I prevent this from happening again? What takes a guy from “I’m so lucky to be dating a sweet girl like you,” to looking like he hates me while saying, “I will never love you,”? 

Thank you so much, Evan. I’ve been listening to your podcast for years, and I greatly appreciate any advice you may have to give!

Katie

Aw, Katie… I’m really sorry to hear about your heartbreak. There’s never a good story about a relationship ending, but yours does seem like a particularly bad one.

As you know, it’ll get better. As you know, you may never get answers to everything. As you know, you came to the right guy for counsel.

Your situation brings mind two past relationships – both when I was the dump-er and when I was the dump-ee – in the same year. Here’s what I can glean from each experience:

This was a perfect example of “it’s not you; it’s me.” In January, 2004, I started dating Shari, a sweet, silly, cute, adoring therapist who I met online and lived only a few blocks away from me. We hit the ground running and were exclusive in a few weeks. Less than a month later, I broke up with her. I remember her tears like they were yesterday, wondering why? Wasn’t everything so good? What happened to all that sweet stuff I’d just said? What could she do different to change the outcome?

I had recently been to New York and felt a stronger connection with another woman I met there than I did with my own girlfriend. That cognitive dissonance was steadily pulling at me over the next four weeks, even though there was absolutely nothing “wrong” with Shari and I. As a man of integrity, I never dated anyone I had no intention of marrying, and while I could have kept it going, it felt more ethical to let Shari go find a man who WOULD be all in on her, since I wasn’t able to.

(Needless to say, the woman I fell for in New York didn’t feel the requisite chemistry with ME to embark on a long-distance relationship, so there you have it.)

Looking back, the one thing I wish I could have explained to Shari and will explain to you is that a good person may have second thoughts for a few weeks or months, but does not let it impact his interaction with you. Think about it. You have a sweet guy who doubts whether you’re on the same page long-term. What is he supposed to do? Be a dick? Start berating you? Do the slow fade to send a non-confrontational message?

A good guy will treat you well right up to the very last moment because that’s what good guys do.

No. A good guy will treat you well right up to the very last moment because that’s what good guys do. So while you’ll feel blindsided, he will have been thinking about breaking up with you for a while, as his is right.

I wish I understood this later in 2004, when I went out with Lori for three months and fell madly in love with her. Best relationship I’d ever had by far and I was convinced we were going to get married fast (I was 32 and she was 38). Suddenly, before I was to take her to Las Vegas for a weekend, she told me she needed a “break.” The official breakup came a week later. This time I was in tears, asking all the same questions that Shari did. I even asked Lori why I didn’t see it coming. She told me that since I’d mentioned that I’d had critical girlfriends in my past, she didn’t see fit to criticize me. She just had some doubts about whether I was the right long-term fit for her and it took her about a month of our three-month relationship to figure it out for sure. Completely knocked me sideways, but I don’t know how I could criticize her for how she handled it.

Perhaps the only thing one can criticize, Katie, is how your ex cut you off entirely without as much as a consoling conversation that might give you some measure of closure.

That kind of seems like a dick move. Mean at worst. Insensitive at best.

At the same time, if I were your dating coach, I’d recommend that YOU block HIM everywhere to better move on with your life, so while it may hurt, he’s actually put you on a faster path to healing. Perhaps you’ll realize that this guy wasn’t as great as he seemed – especially in terms of how he communicated with you through this break-up, and that will free you up to find a man who gets how special you are.

Hang in there, my friend. It gets better.

P.S. Shari got married after I dumped her. Lori never got married after dumping me. Just sayin’.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Marika

    Hi Adrian

    I didn’t mean my sister got married at 17! They met at that age, got married in their late twenties. She and I are world’s apart. She’s like most of my family – they love routine, happy to stay home on weekends, want safety and predictability, she was most interested in marriage and kids – no interest in study or travel like me. I hate routine, I do want emotional safety, but I’m out dancing most weekends and get a rush out of fun, carefree people. I was worried about getting bored in marriage, so I feel on some level I deliberately chose a man who would never bore me.  That would never occur to her. She doesn’t question the status quo, she’s easy to get along with and easy to please. She is, basically, a perfect candidate for marriage. Naturally. She doesn’t need a blog ;]

    I wouldn’t worry so much about age if I were you. Lots of people of all ages are single. And dating [read Karl R’s posts, YAGs, Sparkling Emerald, Karmic Equation]. The 41 year old I mentioned is good looking, fun, a bit cocky, great body, great dating profile. He has NO TROUBLE attracting women, and although he seems to be mostly with women around his own age – which I greatly respect him for – he no doubt could also attract much younger women – as could you, well into your forties and beyond. He’s single by choice. Most women want kids and he’s not ready. He has this ‘just know’ thing and can’t see how that’s affecting his relationships [they all seem to end by around the 2 year mark – when chemistry naturally wears off]. Honestly, don’t worry, good looking people – particularly men – don’t need to worry about age and dating.

    I also don’t think you need to worry too much about deal breakers. You already said you lose attraction to women who don’t have all the three C’s, and like Emily said – more power to you. I’m not a good person to ask – I tolerate things I shouldn’t if they trigger my attraction & attachment cues and am turned off by things I shouldn’t be given I want a long term relationship. Smoking – yes, deal breaker for me for sure, although luckily smoking in Australia amongst people in their thirties & forties is now very rare, and no one I’ve ever been really into smoked. I would’ve definitely said drug use – but unfortunately drug use isn’t so rare [ugh], so it has to be a ‘once in a while’ thing, and never in front of me. Obviously abuse. I think for you, a too bossy woman wouldn’t be good, as you’d struggle to say no to her and build resentment. I’d go with what Jeremy said, the best female partners for him were on the secure side of anxious or anxious side of secure. Want to please you, worry about you liking  them, put in effort, are loyal, not princesses etc. But don’t marry someone just so as not to be single in your late thirties/early forties – men that age are in demand.

  2. 22
    Gab

    I think at heart I’m a mixture of anxious and avoidant in that the avoiding can be the way I defend against feeling anxious. For example, saying “I love you” to a partner almost renders me mute, even if I feel like I’m bursting with love for them. Even when they’d say it to me, I’d just smile and thank them 🙄. I would also often use humour to keep guys at an emotional distance, and my most used defense is intellectualizing (to avoid experiencing feelings).

    I’m a lot better now though having done an extraordinary amount of self-reflection over the past 4-5 years. Now I try to lean in to the vulnerability, and I will always own up to it when I find myself regressing into old patterns of behaving. I still have difficulty staying with feelings though. For example I can have difficult conversations with a partner quite easily because I can switch off/not notice my feelings. I really hate this. A few days ago I ended things with my boyfriend so I’m currently feeling the full force of anxiety provoking loss, but at the time I felt quite numb/cold. I know it was the right decision, but I feel upset that I couldn’t feel the sadness in the moment. I feel like it doesn’t allow me to honour the relationship, the other person, or myself.

  3. 23
    Marika

    Jeremy

    I can see you feel quite passionately about this…but I have to jump in as I think you’re being a bit (uncharacteristically) myopic with regard to this issue.

    Firstly, I don’t think Emily’s ever made a secret of the fact that she’s most attracted to strong, decisive guys and that’s her prerogative. Confidence is very attractive, also, and I’m not sure anyone’s denying that. BUT, not all women are all the same in what they find attractive and some of us DO find vulnerability attractive (some more than others, I’m probably middle of the road). For me, if I’m already attracted to a guy, vulnerability does help me be even more endeared to him.

    Some examples:

    – my ex husband cried often and easily and I was in no way used to it, coming from a family of blokey men who never cried…but while I was surprised at first, it never turned me off and usually turned me on

    – he would cry over a soppy movie, a thoughtful gift, a hug from his kids, not hearing from his kids, missing his kids

    – we worked together and just before we actually got together he would often admit being worried about what someone thought, or whether he did the right thing..and even asked me to assure him he was doing a good job

    – when we first got together he openly admitted he was bad at managing money and didn’t have much money to spare because of his kids and some bad life choices…endeared me and made me want to help him out..and still very much attracted

    – he didn’t have a car..didn’t bother me, but it did bother my Dad who said “what man doesn’t have a car?”

    – I’ve mentioned previously that the people in my family who have the most issue with my very emotional & effeminate brother in law, are the other men (my Dad and brother particularly)

    – The last guy I was with also cried often & openly over small things like movies etc..

    – I recall one time we were in some annoying argument and I thought he was being a complete tool. He somehow re-grouped, went from angry to kinda anxious/sad and explained that he was just “looking for someone who would understand” him. My heart melted. I told him, and meant it, that if ever he wanted to get his point across, to do it with vulnerability, not anger/arrogance, and I would get it.

    These are just some of many examples…and as I said, if I’m already attracted, vulnerability can help increase my attraction, I’m not going to be necessarily attracted to someone who leads with fear and anxiety from day 1, but honestly, I’m not sure men are all that attracted to women who do that either?

    As I said, I’m middle of the road, I know a number of other women personally who are very happy with men who are very non-traditional males, freely show anxiety and are not confident at all.

    1. 23.1
      Emily, the original

      Marika,

      None of what you described is similar to what Jeremy described when I asked for examples of anxiety. Vulnerability doesn’t bother me. What Jeremy described is a man without sexual confidence. I think that would turn off a decent number of women although I remember reading on a post for Hooking Up Smart that a woman was very moved when her then-husband went in for the first kiss and was visibly uncomfortable/nervous. So none of this is “one size fits all,” “all women….”

      1. 23.1.1
        Marika

        Very true, Emily. We seem to be being asked to admit to something as though all women are in this global conspiracy to hate vulnerability in all forms (other than sadness at death) and then deny it.

        Jeremy what does it tell you that I can pretty much always see your viewpoint when you show vulnerability but not anger/annoyance?

        1. Jeremy

          A couple of points to reply here, Marika.  First, while many men prefer small-breasted women, if the general trend were not the opposite, the breast implant industry would not be what it is.  The same applies to female attraction to confidence.

           

          Second, your point (as I understood it) was that once you are already attracted to a man, his expressing some vulnerability is not a dis-attractant.  But I remember (and correct me if I’m mistaken) that you have written in the past that one of the primary things that attracts you to a man in the first place is his confident manner.  This being the case, a small amount of rare anxiety in the face of overwhelming usual confidence is exactly the point I’m making.  A few weeks ago we were discussing whether doing household chores makes men more attractive to women, and you made a good point that (at least for you) his doing a chore might be attractive specifically BECAUSE his doing so is rare.  Might the same apply here?  The women I’ve spoken to about this issue can always think of times their hearts melted when men expressed some emotion to them.  But what they don’t often consider is frequency.

        2. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          We seem to be being asked to admit to something as though all women are in this global conspiracy to hate vulnerability in all forms (other than sadness at death) and then deny it.

          Agree. Plus, there’s nothing that women have to do or have to acknowledge. There are an equal number of things men do that women would wish they’d change — worshiping at the altar of youth and beauty among them — but it ain’t happening. As we’ve learned on this site, men do what they want. And so do women.

    2. 23.2
      Mrs Happy

      Gosh Marika, you’re tolerant.  I think I’d get on with your father just fine.

      I couldn’t stand it when a man I once dated many years ago, on the 1st or 2nd date, started crying.  I don’t know over what.  Good grief.  Build a bridge.  It was such a turn-off.  I’m not dating a 6’2″ muscle-bound rugby player so he can cry like a little girl over a sunset.

      And next intolerance from me, the man I dated just before I met my current husband, didn’t have a car.  I HATED it.  Hated ALWAYS having to drive to pick him up and then at the end of the night drive him home.  He was of the opinion he didn’t need a car.  Well he didn’t need one because everyone else (ME) always had to drive him everywhere.

      So I did what could be construed as a complete over-correction and married a man with 8 vehicles (I’m not joking), and who DOES NOT CRY.  I’m a happy woman with these over-corrections, let me tell you.

      1. 23.2.1
        Marika

        Jeremy 

        Hopefully Mrs Happy’s response shows you that women are on a spectrum when it comes to men expressing emotion and vulnerability. She thinks I’m very tolerant, you’re just poking holes in my points as you’re so convinced of your own position on this. (You’ll notice I said ‘cried often and easily’ – not rare).

        I don’t know anyone who’s had a boob job…but I do know lots of happy couples. So maybe men are on a spectrum with regard to breast size preference?..and other things..

        We have enough men on here who say “women always..”, please don’t be one of them. And please recognize your own biases and experiences may be coming in to play here.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          We have enough men on here who say “women always..”, please don’t be one of them. And please recognize your own biases and experiences may be coming in to play here.

          I’m guilty of my own biases, too. I think it’s a direct response to my dad, who is not at all emotive (actually very dry) but is very … uh …wimpy.  The joke I make is that I  wonder how he manages to stand up with so little backbone.

  4. 24
    Marika

    YAG

    If what you say is true, in countries where paying for dates is more equal, the communication before a date would be minimal, or possibly quite even. This isn’t necessarily the case. It’s my experience that the amount and frequency of contact before a date has to do with personality. The more anxious, the more contact. Or the guys who just want sex do lots of contact too, to try to get into a sexting situation pre-date.

  5. 25
    Marika

    Emily & Jeremy 

    It is true that showing a lot of anxiety, particularly early on, is generally a turn off. I’m not sure anyone ever denied that or said the opposite?

    But Jeremy, it’s not just you and not just men…trying to figure out the opposite sex without their help is part of the human condition. Many, many books, movies and TV shows are funny & relatable for that reason.

    There are iconic scenes in shows where neurotic women are told to ‘hide the crazy’ from the guy, or at least until he’s invested. How many women (including the OP) were dumped without warning as clearly something she did turned him off. You think he told her in advance that if she did x he’d be gone? You think her Dad or other boyfriends sat her down and gave her the skinny on understanding guys? You think they know themselves?

    I get the sense from your stories that you’ve known a lot of selfish women. That’s a shame. Many of these stories I’m just as bothered by their behaviour as you.

    1. 25.1
      Jeremy

      People do things for all sorts of reasons.  Some women want men to express emotion because it makes them feel closer, more intimate.  If such women have the sexual meta-goal of emotional closeness, such emotional sharing may well improve desire.

       

      Some women want men to express emotion so that they (the women) can fulfill the role of emotional caretaker – in which case hearing him out isn’t what she internally wants to do, it’s what she believes she should do (though if she is a guardian type, she won’t know the difference).  In which case it might improve her comfort, but not her arousal – might, in fact, tank her arousal by making her feel resentful.  Especially if the emotions he expresses demonstrate that he isn’t fulfilling his role as she sees it.

       

      Some women want men to express emotion so that they (the women) can rescue the man who is otherwise marvellous except for his tragic emotional flaw.  By rescuing him, they believe they will win his eternal love and gratitude and obtain all sorts of validation…..assuming, of course, that this (not “vulnerable”, but) flawed man wants to be rescued.

       

      My observation, my experience, my BIAS, is that the second and third type are more common IME, and that most of the women in those types don’t realize that they are types 2 and 3 rather than 1.  It’s not that I believe “all women are like that,” Marika, but rather that many women who ARE like that don’t know it and would be well-served to realize it.

      1. 25.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Jeremy,

        People do things for all sorts of reasons.  Some women want men to express emotion because it makes them feel closer, more intimate.  If such women have the sexual meta-goal of emotional closeness, such emotional sharing may well improve desire.

        This is how it is for me. I share something, the man shares something. We trust each other with the information. That brings us closer together because I don’t share personal information with a lot of people, and sharing like that breaks down some of the walls people put up. Emotional caretaking sounds … hmmm. Supporting someone is fine. Being in his corner. Being there, but caretaking sounds like parenting a child or caring for a sick parent, unless I am misunderstanding what you are saying. And I have no interest in fixing someone who’s flawed.

      2. 25.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        I think women can change as they age but I’m not sure how that fits in with character-type labels like Guardian, Idealist etc.  I think women change wrt their feelings about men expressing all sorts of emotions – well, I did.

        For instance, it’s only in recent years I’ve begun to appreciate how much women are trained to settle down males’ emotional escalations of anger.  To keep the peace, make allowances, submit.  School age girls do it in co-ed classrooms and it’s why co-ed function very differently to male-only schools (ask any teacher), young women use humour, feminine wiles and distraction to calm men, and wives settle the tired grumpy breadwinning husband as he gets home each night with attention, care, a drink, a meal.

        Over the last few years I’ve realised I want and expect adult men, including those close to me, to sort out their own emotional state, without me having to do emotional soothing work for them.  I have to train my young children how to manage their emotions (which can involve trouble shooting a dozen tantrums or tear bursts a day, plus numerous fights, and is really exhausting), at work each day I have to de-escalate various colleagues’ or others’ feelings, manage, soothe, manipulate them (grow up guys), and when I get home or hang with friends and extended family I now refuse to settle escalating men’s emotions.  I’m over it.  They’re not children, so they can do it themselves, and I clearly tell them so, or just don’t do anything, or leave the room.

        Until the age of 40 or so I’d have taken on the emotional work, almost unconsciously, as a task.  Presumably my personality and character haven’t altered.  My tolerance certainly has.  Maybe I have emotional management empathy burnout.

  6. 26
    Jeremy

    Sorry to post yet again, but I had an experience yesterday that reminded me of this conversation and why I think it’s so important.  My family was having lunch at a friend’s house, and their 13 year old son was serving the food.  The boy’s personality was especially docile – intelligent, empathetic, servile – and as he served the food his mom proudly announced that he had also cooked much of it.  He smiled bashfully and ducked his head.  All the middle aged women at the table oohed and ahhed and told him that one day he would make an especially wonderful husband if only he would never change.

     

    I wanted to scream at him to ignore absolutely everything these women were saying, their horrible, horrible advice.  I was that boy.  I absorbed that advice.  It is so well-meaning, but it makes a critical mistake.  Being servile, docile, bashful, good cook – these are all comfort qualities, not arousal qualities.  They will never make a woman aroused, they will only make her comfortable and happier in a relationship if she is already aroused by other, more arousing qualities.  But more critical than that, for many (most?) women, the very qualities that will arouse them are not only different from these comfort qualities, they are OPPOSITE to them.  Independence, not docility.  Confidence, not self-effacement.  Eagerness to BE pleased, not eagerness to please.  Once the man is already 95% independent, confident, and eager to be pleased, his having an occasional propensity to display docility and eagerness to please will make the woman’s heart melt – because it’s rare.  Because it generates comfort in the presence of overwhelming antithetical uarousal.  Because it grants her emotional access to his otherwise emotional inaccessibility.  The middle aged women at the table don’t mean to give bad advice, they just take arousal for granted when they envision this boy’s future marriage – and that’s the critical error.  Because for boys with this personality, arousal is what will be most difficult to generate.  Not comfort.

     

    Why does this matter here?  Because in the case of emotional vulnerability, the same problem applies where comfort and arousal are often antithetical.  How many women are attracted to men who display emotional unavailability?  They don’t WANT to be aroused by such men, but they are.  And because they don’t want to think about what makes them aroused, once they are already aroused they focus on what makes them happy – the man occasionally showing vulnerability.  They mistake the vulnerability as being an arousal cue rather than a comfort one, even though the arousal cue is the exact opposite.  And so destructive is this conflation that a woman might get into a relationship with a man who is distant, tell him that she needs him to call every day in order to feel closer to him, and then promptly lose attraction to him when he does.  Because emotional connection isn’t her sexual meta-goal.  Validation is. And in order for something to be validating, it has to be difficult to obtain.

    1. 26.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      Being servile, docile, bashful, good cook – these are all comfort qualities, not arousal qualities.  They will never make a woman aroused, they will only make her comfortable and happier in a relationship if she is already aroused by other, more arousing qualities.

      You write about this topic a lot. I’m not sure how you want the female posters to respond. For a lot of women, they have to be sufficiently attracted or the comfort qualities don’t mean anything. Although there are some women who will not feel at all aroused until a preponderance of comfort qualities are displayed. Those are the women you (and I mean “you,” Jeremy) should look for, just as you and I discussed (many posts ago) that you should look for a woman who’d only had sex in the past in committed relationships. They’re out there. But could it be that you aren’t attracted to those kinds of women, thus your frustration? I’m asking. I don’t know. But you keep posting about this topic …. and no one ever responds correctly. What is it you want us to say?

      1. 26.1.1
        Evan Marc Katz

        Maybe you could acknowledge his point and say you get the validity of it. That’s all.

      2. 26.1.2
        Jeremy

        It’s not that I want you to say anything, Emily, it’s that I hoped that some would absorb the point.  Because even in the post you wrote here, you focused on the woman, not the man.  As did Mrs Happy and Marika.  I certainly agree with you that women who prioritize comfort over arousal are out there, and not rare.  I certainly agree that from HER perspective, a man like that 13 year old boy would be ideal.  But would she be ideal from his?

         

        Contrary to what Clare wrote below, I don’t think the error here is lack of understanding the self.  Rather, it’s lack of understanding of others – and in particular, the difference between how men and women tend to see things.  Tell me, if a man wants a certain degree of passion and/or sexuality in his life, which is the better advice?  To find a woman who de-prioritizes arousal, or to learn how to generate it?

        1. Marika

          Jeremy

          The reason we focused on the woman is because in all your many posts on this topic, you focus on the woman: how we misunderstand ourselves, give bad advice blah, blah…

        2. sylvana

          Jeremy,

          But would she be ideal from his?

          I’m sure she wouldn’t be. But a man will have to decide what he wants out of a wife/woman. If he wants a good mother to his children, then yes, this SHOULD be his ideal. Just like women who want to have a family have to shift their idea of ideal to man who has good father and family qualities.

          There comes a point in time where men, just like women, will have to choose what they prioritize more. The hot looks and high sex drive, or the woman who puts her priorities on being a good mother.

          We all want a combination of both. That definitely is the ideal. But it’s near impossible to find. For both sexes. Hence the “settling” and prioritizing certain qualities over others.

        3. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,
          Tell me, if a man wants a certain degree of passion and/or sexuality in his life, which is the better advice?  To find a woman who de-prioritizes arousal, or to learn how to generate it? … I certainly agree that from HER perspective, a man like that 13 year old boy would be ideal.  But would she be ideal from his?
           Ah, now we are getting to the heart of the matter. You want a woman who prioritizes comfort but also is very sexual, or you’re finding it difficult to generate arousal for the woman who prioritizes comfort ??  I’m guessing. Or maybe you don’t find the women who value comfort appealing. It’s the conundrum women have been living with for years. The guys who rock your room don’t make good grooms, as the saying goes. At least that’s what Cosmo says.

        4. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          There comes a point in time where men, just like women, will have to choose what they prioritize more. The hot looks and high sex drive, or the woman who puts her priorities on being a good mother.

          Totally agree. You can’t have everything.

        5. Jeremy

          Emily and Sylvana, I understand where the two of you are coming from but our minds are not meeting here, probably due to our differing attachment mechanisms/perspectives.  While I appreciate your advice, Emily, I have a marriage where both comfort and arousal are present.  I didn’t always, though, and at that time  I had 2 possible choices – the choice of the avoidant – to seek solutions from without, or the choice of the anxious – to seek solutions from within.  What worked in my particular case was to make a change from within – but would it have worked in every case?   No.

           

          Which is the better choice, the anxious one or the avoidant one?  Changes from within or without?  I suppose it depends on the situation and the people involved, but my opinion is that it’s better to start with the choices from within.  Because we can control those.  If we wait for the stars to align from without, for that one magical person who is unlike all others, it seems that we will wait for a very long time.  Which is what the two of you are complaining about, right?  But if we make changes from within, not only do we change, but our compatibility with others changes too.

           

          That’s why I argued with your advice, Emily.  Because while that 13 year old boy will likely grow to be a man who, like me, is better at the comfort stuff than the arousal stuff, that doesn’t mean he should give up on the arousal stuff or to search for a mythical creature who aroused by comfort qualities (who is very different, BTW, from the woman who prioritizes comfort qualities but is still aroused by other factors).  If he can remain who he is while tweaking his personality to better emphasize arousal qualities, his options will improve – but more importantly, his overall compatibility with those options will improve.

        6. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,
          Emily, I have a marriage where both comfort and arousal are present. 
          I don’t believe you, and if you don’t mind me being blunt, you have a pattern.  You post frequently about a topic — in this case comfort and arousal and what women don’t acknowledge they do– and when someone calls you out and writes that you’re not happy because you repeat the topic so much (as Adrian did several posts ago), you pull back and say you are. I don’t believe you’re only on here to give advice. You’re seeking something, as all of us posters are. And yes, you’re seeking something from without. 

        7. Jeremy

          You are right about me seeking something, Emily, but wrong about what and why.  I’m looking for closure.

           

          Imagine if you were in a protracted situation that caused you harm, physically or psychologically.  And during that time you wracked your brain to figure out how to get out of the situation, how to resolve it.  Spent years trying to figure it out.  And then, one day, it ended.  Relatively suddenly.  Gone as if it never was.  Never mind that it ended due to something you did, that you solved the puzzle, escaped the escape-room, what’s  important to you is that it ended.  And on the one hand you’re happy it’s over, overjoyed to go on with your life and at the improvements in your life.  You have the life you always wanted, completely.  But on the other hand your past echoes in your psyche.  Your mind keeps returning to it out of learned habit. Like a form of PTSD.  You know you should get over it, that the things that make you upset no longer exist.  But you still think about it, want to talk about it, want to understand it.  Want to prevent it from happening again, want to prevent it from happening to others.

           

          I don’t know if this is something you understand, Emily, depending on what your own life experiences have been.  I’ve spent a fair amount of time in therapy and have largely overcome the negative emotions unless actively reminded of them, as sometimes happens in some of our conversations here (as you and others have observed).  For me, it’s now mostly about sharing what I’ve learned because doing so is cathartic to me, and because if I can help others either avoid or correct some of the mistakes that have affected me, I feel that gives me a sense of closure, that the world once again makes sense.  That’s my story.  No great mystery.

        8. Adrian

          Hi Emily,

          You said, “I don’t believe you’re only on here to give advice. You’re seeking something, as all of us posters are. And yes, you’re seeking something from without. 

          Jeremy replied, “Imagine if you were in a protracted situation that caused you harm, physically or psychologically.  And during that time you wracked your brain to figure out how to get out of the situation, how to resolve it.  Spent years trying to figure it out.  And then, one day, it ended.  Relatively suddenly.  Gone as if it never was.  Never mind that it ended due to something you did, that you solved the puzzle, escaped the escape-room  You know you should get over it, that the things that make you upset no longer exist.  But you still think about it, want to talk about it, want to understand it

          My guess it that when Jeremy’s marriage was about to end he put in a lot of effort to save it (perhaps over 90% of it) and then it happened! He saved it! His wife was attracted to him again! Yay!

          BUT…

          She NEVER ACKNOWLEDGED IT!!! She never acknowledged that Jeremy single-handedly saved their marriage and he and not her caused her to feel attraction again.

          Perhaps he tried to talk to her about it perhaps she admitted some but not whole-heartedly his contributions. So what does he do? He lashes out at ALL women! (^_^)

          Now for the record you know I’m a Jeremy. But I thought I would continue my theme from my analyzation of YAG on the other post (^_^).

          From what I am seeing his version of lashing out is not the same as YAG’s. Jeremy I think does want to help but he also wants the women to praise him for his wisdom and to give him what neither his wife nor his female circle does.

          So perhaps Emily this subject doesn’t trigger him, perhaps it’s the fact that the women on here are not saying he is right and you all are wrong?… No that is not right, it’s more like giving him what his wife didn’t and acknowledging that his advice will save your future relationships???

           

        9. Evan Marc Katz

          Jeremy and I have a lot in common. It is endlessly frustrating to give sound advice only to have single people who have not been able to create lasting love lash out and say “you don’t get it.”

          Actually, in my opinion, if you’re fighting with Jeremy, for the most part, YOU don’t get it. 🙂

          That’s why I let guys like Jeremy and Karl R fight my battles by proxy. They’ll speak truth from a married man’s point of view. They’ll have empathy but insist that you understand their logic. And if they express frustration, it’s probably because you’ve dismissed their valid perspective – not because it’s wrong, but because you don’t want it to be right.

          If you come here for advice, you’d be much better off listening to the Jeremys and Karls than attacking them.

          For they are men who best embody the traits of the Type O Husband – they are the proverbial “nice guys with balls.”

        10. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Imagine if you were in a protracted situation that caused you harm, physically or psychologically.  And during that time you wracked your brain to figure out how to get out of the situation, how to resolve it.  Spent years trying to figure it out.  

          You’re speaking too generally. I don’t know what you are talking about. You give advice, and some has been quite helpful. Particularly about relationship goals versus sexual goals. I now know I wouldn’t be able to understand a validation person or one who needs to be liked more than he needs to be known and true to himself.

          But you don’t reveal much … despite all the big words and psychology theories. Goes right over my head. As my friend’s dad used to say: Get to the bottom line. 

           

          I think does want to help but he also wants the women to praise him for his wisdom and to give him what neither his wife nor his female circle does.

        11. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          My guess it that when Jeremy’s marriage was about to end he put in a lot of effort to save it (perhaps over 90% of it) and then it happened! 

          Adrian, my dear. What has gotten in to you? When did you get so bitchy? I gotta say … I’m liking this new side of you.  🙂  You’ve got an edge I didn’t know was there.

        12. Selena

          Jeremy: Tell me, if a man wants a certain degree of passion and/or sexuality in his life, which is the better advice?  To find a woman who de-prioritizes arousal, or to learn how to generate it?

          I haven’t read all your posts about meta-goals in women, but  I’ve read enough to be curious about HOW  a man recreates arousal in a woman who’s meta-goal is family and comfort.

          Does he threaten to take that away from her, by discussing cheating/open marriage/divorce?  I can see how that might make a woman “acquiesce” to sex more often than she might otherwise want to…to keep her family and her lifestyle in tact which is most important to her.

          Does that kind of subtle (not so subtle?) coercion actually create arousal? Does she “fake it till she makes it”, or does she just fake it to keep the status quo?

          How can a man be sure which?

           

        13. Jeremy

          @Selena, perhaps reading the posts would be helpful.  Your questions have been answered and your insinuation unfounded.

        14. sylvana

          Jeremy,

          another question. If your marriage was on the rocks because she prioritized comfort and lacked arousal, and you were actually able to save your marriage by finding things to do that do arouse her more…

          why didn’t you do this much earlier, before it got to the point of the marriage being close to ending?

          If Adrian’s assumption is correct, you singlehandedly saved the marriage by doing things that caused her to feel arousal again. To me, this is not something that should ever have been neglected to begin with.

          It’s a well-known fact that most women aren’t like men when it comes to sex. As much I cannot relate to it, most women don’t just feel desire/arousal all the time, but rather need something to trigger it. If she had children, physical, mental, as well as hormonal issues might need to be addressed.

          To me, having to put in extra effort to achieve something you want (her getting aroused/you getting laid) is not something that deserves a reward or special recognition. It’s simply something you have to do in order to achieve your goal. Even if it takes quite a bit of effort.

          The one thing that seemed to somewhat be forgotten here is the fact that arousal is not something a person can really make an effort or deliberate choice to feel. Just like any other feelings/sensations (physical or emotional), it can’t just be conjured up just to please your partner.

          Your talking about manipulating a person’s BODY.

          Yet it’s often thrown into the same category as making an effort to look nice or do something nice, or make any other sort of effort to make your partner happy.

          She also can’t just lie back, spread her legs, use a bunch of lube, and fake enjoyment or any sort of pleasure since – as someone else here pointed our very validly – there are physical changed that occur in a woman’s body when she is aroused that will not take place if she isn’t. Therefore, sex will be rather uncomfortable for her. It’s like a man trying to have sex with a totally limp noodle. Only a bunch more uncomfortable, even painful.

          I can totally relate that being in sexless relationship would be beyond frustrating. Heck, if I don’t have the chance to get off at least three to four times per day, I become a danger to society.

          But I cannot relate to someone not understanding that a partner (whether male or female) cannot cause a physical reaction in their own bodies to please you.  Even if they truly wanted to.

          And that if they are able to feel the physical reaction if you make an effort (even if that means a great effort), that you’d expect to deserve a bunch of credit for said effort.

          A woman not feeling arousal or desire is the equivalent of a man no longer being able to get hard (even if he still feels arousal in his mind, the point is his body no longer works, just like her body doesn’t work).

          Now if he still gets hard if she puts in a bunch of extra effort, it doesn’t mean she deserves an award for those efforts. Especially not if he would be fine not having sex. It’s just what it takes for her to receive pleasure from something that requires his body to perform.

          And while men often think they’re the only ones who have issues getting their partner’s bodies to work… Ask any woman over forty who has a healthy sex-drive, and you’ll find a bunch who are well acquainted with having to put in a bunch of effort they didn’t have to when the man was in his 20s.

          Another factor that comes into play is the fact that a lot of women are straight up not comfortable discussing their sexual health and pleasure. Most women who try to mention losing desire, not feeling enough desire, their bodies not working, sex no longer feeling pleasurable or even uncomfortable/painful will simply be told that it is “normal” for women to be this way. We are talking about overcoming hundreds of years of mental programming that women are NOT sexual creatures. A doctor will tell her otherwise, but she’d have to be encouraged to see one first, and then have the guts to talk about it. And yes, even women whose bodies no longer work right can feel shame about it, which makes arousal even harder to achieve.

          I absolutely do feel bad for men stuck in a sexless marriage. But men do have to realize that a woman cannot make a conscious effort to feel arousal. She cannot force her body to get ready for sex any more than a man can force his dick to get hard.

          So, as much as it sucks having to put in a bunch of effort of whatever type it takes, don’t get annoyed about it. But rather know, and be proud of the fact that you are, in fact, still able to manipulate her body into a physical reaction if you do make an effort. That’s one heck of an accomplishment.

           

        15. jo

          Wow. Could we all lay off Jeremy here? It isn’t his duty to share all the gory and possibly painful details of his personal life. None of us would want to be backed into that corner by other anonymous internet commenters. Not that what people are saying here isn’t valid; you all make a lot of great points. (Sylvana’s points about arousal are so right.) But I think it’s possible to make these points without targeting one commenter specifically.

        16. sylvana

          Jo,

          we’re not attacking Jeremy. Well, I, at least, am not. The questions were simply directed at him because he brought it up.

          And since it did seem to be related to arousal, I genuinely want to try to understand why so many men seem to think that arousal is something a woman has a choice in.

          Like she’s choosing not to feel arousal/desire, or purposely not feeling it when a marriage turns sexless. And why it seems so hard to understand that women do not really have a choice in the matter. They cannot force a physical reaction.

          Honestly, I would ask the same of any woman who is in the same boat with her man no longer desiring sex. But I have to say that, generally, women who will state that they’re in the same boat do not claim that it is something the man is “choosing” to do. They’re upset by it, but do not tend to blame the man.

    2. 26.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear Jeremy,

      this is a great example from your life and thank you for sharing it.  What it illustrates really well is priorities.

      “I wanted to scream at him to ignore absolutely everything these women were saying, their horrible, horrible advice.”

      The womens’ priorities are to have a husband who cooks and helps and is comforting, loving, communicative.  A man’s priority is to have more sex in his marriage.  The women were telling the truth, and it was great advice,  for them.  (Because they’d rather a husband who cooked and cleaned and chatted every night, than have lots of sex.)

      1. 26.2.1
        Jeremy

        It is bad advice nevertheless.  No matter how posh the accommodations were on the Titanic, no matter how happy the passengers luxuriating aboard it were, their happiness would necessarily be short-lived due to the water rushing through the hull.  The dancers in the ballroom would soon find themselves treading cold, deep water and their happiness would evaporate in a flash.  The metaphor is apt.

         

        The fallacy of the advice here is not that it couldn’t make the wife happy in and of itself.  The fallacy is that her happiness in isolation is irrelevant to the survival of the marriage – the marriage whose survival will ultimately be a far greater determinant of her overall happiness.

        1. sylvana

          Jeremy,

          My advise for men who want women to keep prioritizing his sexual satisfaction is:

          Stay far away from the mother types.

          That simple. Focus on women who don’t want children (like I, for example), and you’re likely to find one who puts sex first as well.

          Different priorities, no hormonal changes, and most of all: No physical changes, such as scar tissue from tears in vital places, and supportive muscle scarring that oftentimes greatly reduces sexual pleasure and overall well-being in general, and in bad cases makes sex extremely uncomfortable.

          And if the survival of the marriage depends on her to keep having uncomfortable or “do nothing for her” sex, she’s not likely to be overall happy either.

        2. Marika

          Jeremy 

          You assume all men prioritise sex in marriage the way you do. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. I wish some man had clued me into that reality. Are you aware that sometimes it’s the man who loses interest in sex, withholds sex, pulls away or doesn’t care about sex in the marriage as he’s getting it outside (not because the woman stopped having sex with him).

        3. Mrs Happy

          You sometimes write as though a woman being happy isn’t enough if her husband isn’t happy.  You say she should worry if he isn’t getting what he wants – I presume the subtext is, ‘or he might leave’.

          Lots of people do not live their lives making sure others around them are happy.  For some people, such emotional work is exhausting, or they don’t want to do it, or they don’t care much.

          Your assumption that these lunchtime advising women should set aside their own preferences and suddenly assume a male position projected 10 years into the future is fruitless, because most people can’t or won’t do that.  People, including me, and you, give advice from their own experiences, viewpoint, and often gender.

          On this blog, I do focus on women, because I am a woman, and thus my natural automatic stance is to see things as a female.  Likewise, you focus on the male viewpoint.  And we all get to read each others comments and learn.

        4. Jeremy

          It seems to me, Mrs Happy, that in this instance the disconnect between your opinion and mine is the assumption that the woman gives a crap about her marriage continuing.  If she does not, I agree with you wholeheartedly.  If she does, I find your position baffling.  I can assure you, as a married man, that the success of my marriage depends (and has always depended) on my adopting my wife’s perspective oftentimes.  To say that a spouse might not want to do so regularly is to say that that spouse has given up on something fundamental to marriage.  It isn’t a gendered thing.

        5. Mrs Happy

          Surely marriage is not primarily about bending to one’s spouse’s will?

          There is a chasm between a) continually moulding your wants and desires, speech and behaviour, to another’s, constantly, incessantly, and not being your true self, and b) sometimes doing things for your spouse.  It seems to me you are arguing from the former position.    It possibly seems to you, that I am sitting on the latter.  Probably we are both more towards the centre in our real lived lives.

          Jeremy I assume you know, that you cannot make another person happy.  They have to own responsibility for their own mood state.  A woman (or man) should not have to constantly adjust the way they want to live their life, for a spouse; if they do, it’s probably a poor match.

          I do not agree that staying with a spouse you are poorly matched with, is a recipe for lifelong happiness.  I suspect the individuals involved in such a mismatch would indeed be happier separated.

        6. SparklingEmerald

          Mrs Happy said: You sometimes write as though a woman being happy isn’t enough if her husband isn’t happy.  You say she should worry if he isn’t getting what he wants – I presume the subtext is, ‘or he might leave’.

          Lots of people do not live their lives making sure others around them are happy. . .

          Don’t think the subtext is reallhy “or he might leave”.  It just seems to me, that one would care about the well being (emotional and physical) of your loved ones.  Not necessarily spending every waking moment trying to make them happy, but noticing extended periods of unhappiness and inquiring about it,  seeing if you had a hand in their unhappiness, seeing if you can be of help in some way . . .  I’m really surprised at your attitude towards happiness, as you have “Happy” as part of your name.

           

    3. 26.3
      Marika

      The thing is Jeremy, I understand. If this boy were in my family, he would be either covertly or, more likely overtly, discouraged from being that way. I’ve never told a boy the way to a woman’s heart is being subservient and humble.

      But, off the top of my head, I can think of at least two friends I know whose husbands are exactly like that boy…and they are very happy. It wouldn’t work for me, but the frustration in this whole conversation is that you don’t seem to be able to recognise that it does work for some women.

      Also, who do you think is happier long term, them or me? And which type of relationship / outlook on men are you trying to encourage?

      You give great advice, Jeremy, but sometimes I honestly wish you’d take a break from teaching to actually listening. And confronting your own biases, rather than pointing out women’s.

      1. 26.3.1
        Hawley

        Look at the audience giving the advice at the dinner table.  Older women in established marriages who care more about comfort than they do attraction (or sex).  What would you expect their priority to be?

        Ed O’Neill had a great line on Modern Family last night.  As Sofia Veraga was chastising him about not wanting to go with her to shop for strollers he said, “If you had a husband who liked shopping for strollers, you wouldn’t be having a baby.”   i.e. you wouldn’t be attracted to him enough to get pregnant by him.

      2. 26.3.2
        Emily, the original

        Marika, 

        It wouldn’t work for me, but the frustration in this whole conversation is that you don’t seem to be able to recognise that it does work for some women.

        Yes, we’ve all said that. Leading with comfort qualities doesn’t work for all women, but it does work for some.

    4. 26.4
      Clare

      Oh God Jeremy, are we beating this drum again?

      I second what Marika has said. You make this point so many times, you make it on every single post. Every single discussion you find a way to bring what the women are saying round to this point, and you come across as very lecturing. And I really don’t get the sense you are taking in what women are saying in response. You are CONVINCED that we don’t know ourselves.

      I have often had occasion to ponder what you have had to say and what causes attraction for me. Whilst you are right that a man who is falling over himself to please me is not all that attractive, I think the reasons which you attribute to this fact are quite wrong. The truth is I don’t find women who fall over themselves to please me attractive either, and I am completely heterosexual. What I mean is that I don’t find people in general who spend an inordinate amount of their time trying to do what you want and please you to be people I find alluring. But it’s not the pleasing behaviour in itself that it is a turn-off. It is because you know that such people have a weak sense of self. They are not doing what they are doing because that is who they are and that is what makes them happy. They are doing it because they are hoping to get something out of it which you are going to give them. Any positive benefit which they derive from the pleasing behaviour is contingent on you doing something.

      It’s this sense of being held to ransom, of someone doing something for you or giving something to you to get something in return, which is off-putting.  Let me say that a person, man or woman, who is kind and giving because that is genuinely what gives them pleasure, who does nice things purely for the enjoyment they derive from the activity itself, and who genuinely does not expect anything in return, is very attractive. It’s those expectations, the unspoken ones as well as the explicit ones, which are the killer.

      I’ve often said it, and it’s something I believe to my core, a person who is self-contained, who does the things that they do because it’s who they are and because it is who they want to be independently, is very attractive. The behaviour itself is irrelevant. People are so attracted to someone who is just themselves and is not trying to get something from other people the whole time because it is so unbelievably rare.

      As an example, I really enjoy cooking. I love cooking when I am on my own, and that love does not go away when I am in a relationship. So I cook for the person I’m in a relationship with. But it’s something I objectively enjoy doing. I don’t do it to earn kudos or a pat on the back from my boyfriend. Even though men love food, I don’t expect it to increase his attraction for me because I would never do it for that reason. That is a recipe for resentment. I do it purely and only because it’s who I am and it’s what I enjoy. I love (and am very attracted to) men who are the same way. Don’t vacuum the floors for me if you are going hold it over me for all eternity. Do it because it’s something you believe should be done and you are the type of person who cleans up after yourself and for no other reason.

      1. 26.4.1
        Jeremy

        Do you enjoy shaving your legs, Clare?  Applying make-up?  Wearing thongs?  Most women don’t, I’m told.  While it is true that we do many things for reasons of our own, when it comes to the actions we take to generate arousal in others, our motivation is to generate arousal, not to do those things for our own reasons or out of altruism.

        1. Marika

          Haha, the ‘thongs’ bit threw me..until I remembered thongs are something completely different in Australia 🙂

          Can I make an observation, Jeremy? Of course, take it, don’t, or with a grain of salt, up to you…but while I usually think you make some excellent points and I mostly take something away from them (certainly the validation thing is a good point for me), the way you write I picture you rolling your eyes at these silly women who just don’t get it. People generally don’t like that. Don’t like being told what to do, how they should think, or that a stranger on the Internet knows what’s best for them. While they are blind & clueless.

          Of course, sometimes the truth of it stings and this ends up in defensiveness..but overall I think there would be less back and forth if your comments came across slightly less high & mighty and like you have it all figured out while we don’t (of course, this observation applies to many of us, not just you).

          You do seem to also put a lot of blame on women for relationship success/failure and for being blind to certain things etc.. and I really do think from what you’ve said that is at least partly because in your social circle the women seem to be a particularly entitled bunch who don’t engage in much self-reflection. Just from what you’ve written. That’s not representative of all women everywhere. In my experience & in my social circle this is certainly not the case.

          I can sense your frustration, so I wanted to put it out there, in case it rings true at all and may help.

        2. Clare

          Jeremy,

          There is nothing on earth that could make me wear a thong! But jokes aside, yes, I do enjoy putting on make-up and those other things. Most women who engage in beauty routines regularly do get some enjoyment out of it. It’s very pampering, for one thing. It is also a pleasurable feeling to look good. Frankly, I absolutely treasure my monthly visits to the hairdresser to get my highlights done and get a massage. It’s a few hours of pure luxury and self-care.

          And I know what you will say – if men weren’t around, we wouldn’t bother, but I can assure you that we would bother, at least to some extent. Women look good for the way it makes them feel about themselves and for the benefit of other women almost as much as they do it for men. But I would have just the same comments for women who were taking care of their appearance purely to please a man: they should not be doing it for this reason. The best outcome from these kinds of efforts is because it makes you the person you want to be.

          It is worthwhile finding the utility in activities beyond simply pleasing your partner. Housework can be soothing and relaxing. Not to mention the benefit of having a clean and comfortable house. Do the dishes because you can see the value in doing them, not purely to shut your partner up and hope that she stops nagging about it. Do it because that’s the kind of man you want to be, and if you don’t want to do it, then hire a maid to do your share. That is the sort of man we can respect and feel attracted to. But don’t do it out of some archaic notion that housework is a women’s responsibility and that by helping her with it she ought to be grateful and want to have sex with you. That isn’t how it works. Women want to have sex with a man because they are attracted to *who* he is, and if he is the kind of man who recognises the need to take care of certain things, that is someone we can feel very attracted to. But someone who is doing something purely to get a pat on the back and is resentful if he doesn’t get it is not all that attractive.

          I don’t mean to be harsh – I think men who do housework are wonderful, and I *do* appreciate them. I just feel they need to do it without this unspoken expectation that the woman will give them something in return. Do it because you know it needs to be done. That is sexy.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Dear Clare,

          language is very important.  Writing or saying the man is helping her with the housework presumes the housework is all hers to do, and anything he does is helping her.

          I prefer to think in terms of: 40 hours a week of housework needs to be done to keep this home running.  Whose job is it, to do what tasks, and then what will we farm out to a paid cleaner/housekeeper.  Not: assume all the 40 hours are mine because I’m female, (when we both work hard in paid (or unpaid in the case of stay-at-home mothers) work).

          I can’t stand people who do 1-2 tasks then mention them and want gratitude for it.  Seriously mate, the house cannot be grateful – it’s inanimate. If you want gratitude from her you’re assuming they are all her jobs to do.  Are they? And 1-2 is about 1% of the tasks she has done if average statistics are to be believed.  Eye roll.

          I have a weird story about this.  When I married and moved into a house with my husband, I was working 60+ hours a week, and in the early stages of pregnancy, and commuting 15 hours a week in traffic.  Living alone for most of the past decade, and working similar hours (or more) since my 20’s, I had always paid for a cleaner.  I had never cleaned or ironed for myself when single.  Never.  Didn’t have time or inclination, and earned enough to pay a cleaner.

          We married, and my new husband said, let’s not hire a cleaner, and save money, thus pay off the mortgage faster (houses in Sydney are exorbitantly priced, it was our 1st mortgage, and felt overwhelming).  I replied, dumb idea, I’m used to a cleaner, and never home to clean, and know I won’t clean when home anyway, but to be a compliant wife, agreed to try it.

          I would get home and being 1st trimester just fall into bed minutes after walking through the door, exhausted at 8-9pm, wouldn’t even make it to the back of the house, where the kitchen, laundry, etc were.  Just front door – bathroom – bedroom – work, and repeat, for days. Maybe occasionally grab a fast meal of toast or fruit/milk in the kitchen those 1st few weeks.

          After many weeks, my husband said, there are lots of dirty dishes in the sink.  Did you even notice them?  I said, no.  Because a) I’m not the housework-needs-doing noticing type, and b) I haven’t been back here in the kitchen much.  I asked, do you want to do them, or shall we hire that cleaner now?  He said yes to the cleaner.

          It took me YEARS to realise that when he had said, let’s not hire a cleaner, let’s save money,  what he had meant was, I’m married now, my wife will take care of all the housework for me/us.

          I hadn’t been playing games to “get” a cleaner – I really hadn’t noticed the dishes.  And even if I had noticed them, I’d have thought, I don’t want to clean them, he can if he doesn’t want a cleaner, he only works 40 hours/week, and they’re mostly his dishes.

          But I’m glad I didn’t notice the dishes.  So many women start doing all the ironing and cleaning when they marry, and then just never stop.  And then they complain about how he does nothing.

          My poor husband.  In some ways he’d love a traditional wife.  He is absolutely at his happiest when I’m at home with the kids, cooking him a nice dinner.  He starts whistling when this occurs.  In some ways he should have picked a no-career-aspirations prioritise-your-man defer-to-his-opinions old fashioned woman.  The opposite of me, in fact.

           

           

        4. Emily, the original

          Clare,

          And I know what you will say – if men weren’t around, we wouldn’t bother, but I can assure you that we would bother, at least to some extent. 

          I have to be honest: If there weren’t men around, I’d stop shaving and wearing makeup and wear my hair in its natural texture. I could have written “War and Peace” five times in the time I’ve wasted sexing it up. I’m not talking about basic grooming/showering.  And given the fact that I’ve recently moved out in the middle of nowhere, I’ve really shortened my grooming time. Any more than what I do would be wasted effort.

        5. Clare

          Mrs Happy,

          Yes. Absolutely. What you said x 100.

        6. sylvana

          Clare,

          I’m with Emily. As Jeremy said, MOST women would not do so. That does not mean all of them don’t enjoy all the girly routines, because some of them certainly do.

          But the majority of women of my acquaintance wouldn’t bother putting on so much as eyeliner unless their going to a special event or are trying to attract a man.

          You definitely won’t find any of us primping for a girls night out or get together. Who cares? We’re not trying to  impress each other, or anyone else for that matter. It’s all about comfort. Quick shower, jeans and t-shirt, and it’s out the door.

          A lot of us are also self-employed, or run out own business, so it’s not even common to get styled up for work.

        7. Emily, the original

          Sylvana,

          I’m with Emily. As Jeremy said, MOST women would not do so. That does not mean all of them don’t enjoy all the girly routines, because some of them certainly do.

          I enjoyed the girly routines when I was in my 20s, when an evening out was alive with the possibility of what if. But OMG, I’m 47! Evenings out now, well, you pretty much know what’s going to happen, and I’ve been primping for almost 3 decades. It’s getting old!

    5. 26.5
      Nissa

      @Jeremy,

      I find it interesting that when discussing the factors that cause arousal, you haven’t listed anything physical, in spite of the fact that most women (just like men) are first aroused by the man’s looks. This young man might not be able to control his height, income or personality, but he very much can control his weight, fitness routine (and therefore weight, and body composition). I find it hard to believe that a guy with a ripped body, flattering clothes and at least average looks would not generate arousal in the majority of females. Later on, those factors you mention might make a difference, but I find it hard to believe that those things are a determining factor prior to being in a dating or relationship situation. And frankly, if a woman gets into those, it’s because the guy met her minimum standards for arousal. Especially given that most dating now is done online vs being in person, what most of us see first is a photo, that we use to determine our attraction to that person.

      While I would agree with you that some women may mistakenly call  comfort cues, arousal cues in error, I don’t think it matters all that much. Most people are in relationships with people that arouse them “enough”. If person A is in a relationship with person B, and A doesn’t want what B wants, negotiation must take place. For non deal-breakers, just do it the other person’s way, since it makes them happy. If it is a deal-breaker, accept that you can’t be happy doing it their way, and get out. And those that don’t want to get out, accept that it’s your choice to do so…which means that being upset and angry about your choice is unreasonable, since that’s what you chose.

       

    6. 26.6
      SparklingEmerald

      Jeremy – Do you honestly expect a group of middle aged women to advise a 13 year old boy, how to arouse women sexually ?  They were just making small talk with a shy young boy, perhaps trying to make him feel less awkward, and you read all of you psyche theories into their clucking remarks.

      I expect you are reading way more into their comments than what they intended.  I enjoy your posts, you offer some very interesting perspectives, but sometimes I think you would like to micro-manage the way the rest of the world to speaks and acts to fall  exactly in line with all of your psycho-analytic theories.    You get upset if funeral eulogies aren’t phrased to your liking (were family members and friends invited to speak ?  If so, you could have given a speech that you wanted).  You get furious at middle age women making small talk and complimenting a 13 year old boy for helping his mom.  (what were they supposed to say “Don’t be such a mama’s boy, or no woman will ever be aroused by you !”?)   You seem to be pushing these red pill theories, dressed up in a master degree in psychology.  You act as if all women are fickle, addle brained creatures who don’t know what they want, because they don’t have the same mini, micro and maxi goals at age 50 as they did at age 20.  Sometimes I think it must be exhausting to be in your circle of friends, family, etc. to have to watch every word and deed, to make sure it fits in with your text book pschye theories.

      1. 26.6.1
        Jeremy

        The funny thing is, SE, I completely agree with you about the absurdity of expecting middle-aged women to give advice to a 13 year old boy on how to arouse women sexually.  But what, exactly, do you think they were doing?  Or perhaps better to ask, how exactly do you think that boy is interpreting their statements?  When you tell an adolescent boy that his behavior will be attractive to a potential spouse, the way he will interpret that is that the behavior will be arousing to a potential spouse.  Because a 13 year old boy won’t know the difference (nor might a 33 year old one).  It would be one thing for the women to compliment the boy, telling him they enjoyed his food.  Complimenting him on his manners.  But that’s  not what they did.  They, in fact, gave him advice on sexuality.  Even if that’s not necessarily what they meant to do.  Their intentions were good, but their stumbling block was in the disconnect between what they meant to say versus how it would likely be interpreted by their audience – who is young and vulnerable, and whose perspective differs from theirs.

         

        These days it is unfashionable to compliment a teenage girl for being pretty for fear that it will set up the expectation that her looks are all that is important.  That too many girls internalize that sort of compliment and develop the wrong attitude toward their own self esteem and how others should see them.  We don’t often think of similar issues in boys, because boys don’t develop issues over their looks, they develop issues over their utility.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          I think everyone, femnists who say don’t tell a young girl she is cute, and you, put way to way to much energy and emotion into interpreting and trying to regulate the clucking and doting of middle age people to young children.

          In the greater scheme of things, there are bigger fish to fry.

          And yes, growing up, I often heard that I would be a “good wife” or a “heart breaker” by middle age friends of my parents, based on my looks, or performing some domestic task.   My uncle even told me I should be careful taking my karate class, because doing so may make me appear less attractive to men.  While I resented the remark, I don’t put much stock in the cluckings, dotings and small talk that came from my parents generation.

          And, I’m not saying this to be mean, really I am not, but I think you are grappling with some sort of “madonna-whore” complex with your repeated angry posts about the comfort/arousal continuum in male/female relationships.   It’s a pretty common thing that members of both sexes struggle with.

           

           

        2. Jeremy

          Ugh, SE, how about this.  I’ll consider what you said here and really take an honest self-reflection to see whether there is any validity to it.  In exchange, perhaps you’ll think about the possibility that things you don’t consider all that important from your perspective might affect others more deeply than you think they “should.”

      2. 26.6.2
        Jeremy

        And, because I just couldn’t resist, if you have to fit people into a theory, that theory has no value.  If a theory about people doesn’t help people get along better – if it only serves to alienate or pull people apart – that theory has no value.  I have absolutely no interest in micro-managing anyone, nor is it about being furious with eulogizers or well-meaning middle-aged women.  It’s about wishing (and occasionally being frustrated) that people don’t make more of an effort to understand that the perspectives of others aren’t necessarily their own.  That it is entirely possible for 100% of women to believe that they welcome the emotions of men, and for 100% of men to believe otherwise – and for BOTH to be right from their own perspective.  The understanding of which will, necessarily, result in different behavior from both genders, as opposed to what will result if each gender believes its own narrative.

         

        It’s not about thinking I’m the only correct one among a sea of addle-brained humanity.  It’s about challenging (and being challenged by) the perspectives of those who perhaps never considered a perspective beyond their own.

  7. 27
    Marika

    Sylvana

    How is reaching for your purse ‘masculine’… and/or being genuinely grateful that the social convention allows for you to enjoy free meals and drinks?

    It saddens me when women on here make convoluted arguments, not only about why men ‘should’ pay, but also apparently shut up about it, or be happy that they ‘get’ to do it.

    There are countries in the world when paying is shared. And those countries aren’t filled with butch women who can’t attract a man.

    In 2018, in countries where the man pays, he either does it because he has to, if he wants to date, or he wants to because he’s a generous guy with old world type values. Either way, it’s a gesture. A social convention. Not a necessity.

    1. 27.1
      sylvana

      Marika,

      what does a woman using masculine energy have to do with being butch? Why do people always assume one equals the other? There’s a huge difference between the two. A woman can look completely feminine, beautiful, classy, etc., and still always want to lead, or be emotionally hard (she might not even notice it). Is she butch? Absolutely not. She is however, used to being in charge, providing for herself, taking care of herself, handling everything by herself…with other words: rather accustomed to using masculine energy. Even if she loves to wear dresses, gets her hair and nails done religiously, and worries about her appearance all the time.

      The sad part is that most women would consider her a “strong” woman, because she looks feminine. When in truth, she is a masculine energy woman, no matter what picture she presents.

      And who is making the argument that men should shut up about paying and be happy that they get to do it? That’s ridiculous.

      Personally, I care less about what social convention dictates. I’ve never been one to bend to social conventions. I actually tend to go against the norm quite often. And I don’t care if I’m going out with a man on a date, a girlfriend, a family member, a client, I will always be genuinely grateful if the person ends up paying the check. Just like I would fully expect them to be appreciative if I did. That’s simply good manners and appreciation.

      Is it a necessity? That very much depends on what kind of woman a man is looking for.

      Just to get this straight: There is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman taking care of herself (not referring to looks) and things that need taking care of, or providing for herself, protecting herself, etc. There’s also nothing wrong with her being comfortable doing so, or wanting to do so.

      But when that strong, independent, I can do it all on my own woman wonders why she can’t attract that masculine man, we have an issue. Just like a healthy middle or less masculine man will find himself disappointed if he goes for a softer, more feminine woman.

      It’s all about what role a person is most comfortable in. A more masculine person (regardless of gender) is more comfortable in a role where they are in charge. They almost need people who they can provide for, take care of, are depending (which does not equal weak) on them. Get them around a bunch of people who are  rather independent, and they can easily begin to feel like they’re not needed/necessary, have no purpose, no role, even useless. Their feeling of safety, security, contentment, happiness, comes from giving, providing, taking care of, etc. They are purpose-driven people.

      A more feminine/softer person (regardless of gender) can be fully capable of being in charge and taking care of everything, but they’re not comfortable in that role. It tends to cause them a lot of stress and anxiety. Their feeling of safety, security, contentment, happiness comes from receiving, being provided for, being taken care of, etc.

      Social conventions and old world values were formed with the assumption that the first type equals men and the second type equals women. That assumption is the problem. But it doesn’t change the fact that each individual person, regardless of gender, has a certain amount of both traits, which greatly influences any type of relationship (family, friends, romantic, work) we have with each other.

      A person in the healthy middle can go for either one of those personalities, but would have to be willing to adjust their own personality to compliment whichever one they go for. The same goes for a person on one side going for the same.

      A woman picking up her own check clearly shows that she can provide for herself and take care of herself. She doesn’t need a man to do so – which can easily turn into “I don’t want to/will not let a man do so”. A man who lets her do so clearly shows that he is all right with her being the more independent type who doesn’t expect or “need” a man to take care of her. But he also needs to be aware that this will affect all other aspects of her life, and is a strong indicator of how she shows up in a relationship.

      No one is arguing that it isn’t a nice gesture to offer to pay or at least pay your share. That’s not even up for discussion here. What we’re discussing is trying to impress a purpose-driven/provider (not limited to financial, but general) personality by offering to pay, or even insisting on paying, or just doing so without offering. And then wondering why it had the opposite effect. Or expecting a softer/receiving personality to be impressed by you letting them take care of or provide for themselves. And then complaining that it had the opposite effect.

      I think you and I have argued about the whole masculine/feminine thing before. And it seemed to me that you’re in the healthy middle, and tend to desire partners in the healthy middle. Therefore, you’re actually making choices that match you, and are not one of those people complaining that their non-matching choices actually had a non-matching personality.

      I had to learn about the dynamics because I’m masculine and attracted to very masculine men only. And I was forever trying to impress them with how independent and “not needy” I was. What I received for my efforts was respect and admiration. And zero attraction in return. Once I learned and changed to a softer energy (unnatural as it feels to me), the response changed drastically.

      If you want a classic example how this applies even to less masculine or healthy middle women: Ever hear women wonder why men aren’t attracted to their accomplishments?

      You can argue masculine vs. feminine all you want. But, in reality, the answer is because the energy behind accomplishment is masculine, and most men aren’t attracted to masculine energy. Men will respect, even admire your accomplishments. But (unless you’re dealing with a more feminine man), he will not be attracted by them. This is also why most women, especially more feminine women, ARE attracted to men’s accomplishments.

       

       

       

      1. 27.1.1
        Marika

        Hi Sylvana

        I have no argument about masculine vs feminine energy. To my memory I’ve never really argued about it, as I don’t disagree with the idea and it’s not a big deal to me.

        I was responding to this: But by offering to pay themselves, women are technically allowing men to put no effort into dates at all.
        Don’t you think this whole paying for yourself thing rather much feeds this atmosphere? If he’s paying, he’s likely to be a bit more selective about who he dates. Like back in the days where a man would actually put some effort into one women, instead of juggling a bunch of “no effort” ones at a time to see which one will “put out” first?
        And, as a woman, I would have to say that going into something knowing we’ll each pay our share would not be considered a “date” by me. It would be a casual meeting. And I wouldn’t put that much more effort into my appearance (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.) than I would when meeting a friend. He’s obviously not trying to impress, so I’m not triggered to impress.
        Also the thing you wrote (I think it was you?) about spending money on looking good was the woman’s contribution or something…

        It came across like you were trying to make a convoluted argument about why it’s in everyone’s best interest if the man pays. I’m not buying it. I cringe when women on this site try to justify things that are clearly in their own best interest by somehow twisting things around. It makes us all seem like princesses. And not having empathy for men (particularly, say middle aged men with kids and mortgages) in that having to pay all the time is probably a drag. It could even mean the difference between having spare cash to take their kids on a nice trip v’s not. etc…

        For me, sharing the cost (or at least contributing) has nothing to do with femininity or masculinity or effort or real v’s not real date or anything else, it’s do with fairness, kindness and empathy. All pretty ‘feminine’ traits, I think? And if the guy does pay (which on the first date is often the case), I truly value and appreciate it. I certainly don’t expect it.

      2. 27.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Sylvana,

        This comment was so useful.  I’ve learnt things from it.  Thank you.

    2. 27.2
      SparklingEmerald

      Marika – Numerous women, including myself have said a low cost or a no cost date would be fine, and all we hear from our male bloggers is crickets.  I think the men would rather hang on to this complaint, even though it is perfectly in their power to plan a no cost first couple of dates.

      1. 27.2.1
        Shaukat

        @SE,

        A no-cost option isn’t always available. For example, seven months of winter where I live would rule out a walk, a picnic, etc. Often times coffee or drinks is what’s available, and most people hate coffee dates.

        At any rate, the issue isn’t whether a no cost date would theoretically be possible, but rather whether it’s fair to say something like “well, just had my hair done, so the guy should pay,” which is what I was responding to above.

        1. Emily, the original

          Shaukat,
          A no-cost option isn’t always available. For example, seven months of winter where I live would rule out a walk, a picnic, etc. Often times coffee or drinks is what’s available, and most people hate coffee dates.
          I think people hate coffee dates because it’s two strangers staring at each other across the table, interview style. It’s uncomfortable. A walk gets you interacting side by side (less pressure) and you can talk about what’s organic in your environment (gets the conversion going). Do you have free art exhibits in your area? There has to be something you could do that would be more relaxing than a coffee date and cheaper than drinks (which can add up) or dinner.

        2. Shaukat

          @Emily,

          In my experience drinks are the best environmental in which to relax and escalate, but no there are no free art shows where I am in general.

          At any rate, it’s not the money, it’s the entitlement that’s a turn off. Despite what some posters say, there is nothing appealing or feminine about a woman sitting back and expecting a guy to pay her way when he might never see her again or isn’t even interested. I stopped paying for drinks beyond one anyways, and most quality women understand the reason.

        3. Emily, the original

          Shaukat,

          At any rate, it’s not the money, it’s the entitlement that’s a turn off. Despite what some posters say, there is nothing appealing or feminine about a woman sitting back and expecting a guy to pay her way when he might never see her again or isn’t even interested. 

          I get that you want to keep the costs down, and that’s totally reasonable. And fwiw, I don’t like big displays — flowers, expensive dinners — in the beginning from someone I don’t know. It makes me uncomfortable. But I do like a man who takes the lead, who calls and at least has some suggestions of what to do (not the “what do you want to do?”). Even if that lead is just to meet up for a drink. I took drinks off the list in the earlier post of things to do because previous male commenters have said women use “drinks” as a means to order a bunch of appetizers and then try to push for dinner. I’m not saying they were lying, but I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than drag out a date with a man I wasn’t interested in just to get a free dinner. I’d rather go home and eat Ramen.

        4. SparklingEmerald

          I’m really lucky to live where I live.  Warm weather year round, free concerts, museums are free on certain nights, or after 6PM, free art walks, etc.  When I was in OLD, I listed specific hiking trails, and other free stuff to do in the section about first date ideas.  So any guy who contacted me knew I wasn’t expecting, nor wanting a five start dinner date with a stranger.  I offered to pay for my share of drinks, coffee, appetizers or at least leave a tip, but they always said no.  I pretty much had to trick my husband into letting me pay when we got into a relationship.  He turned down my offers for several months, and said it was “cute” that I wanted to pay for anything.  He is like this with everyone though.  When we go out with family, they fight over the check.  When we have out of town guests, he likes to treat them, when we are out of town visiting with friends, he likes to treat them.

          Almost 4 years later, things have finally equaled out financially, but I really had to push for that in the beginning.  I think it is a generational thing.

        5. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          I took drinks off the list in the earlier post of things to do because previous male commenters have said women use “drinks” as a means to order a bunch of appetizers and then try to push for dinner.

          That happens a lot when a woman wants to meet for drinks at happy hour.  In my area, that is girl code for “If we click, you are buying me dinner.”  Now, if a woman wants to meet for a drinks, I suggest 8pm.  That is a loud and clear message that drinks are not going to morph into dinner.  If she balks, I move on.   One the reasons why I married my ex-wife is because she picked up the check the first time we went to dinner.  I stared in utter disbelief when she grabbed the check and handed the waiter her credit card.  Up until that point, I had never dated a woman who had paid for as much as coffee.  It was an expensive restaurant to boot.

           

      2. 27.2.2
        Marika

        Sure, that’s one option…contributing yourself is another. Or at the very least, understanding the male perspective, appreciating him, and not expecting the man will pay (but being pleasantly surprised and grateful when he does) is yet another.

        I know in the baby boomer generation this is pretty much unheard of, so I don’t expect your opinion would be other than what it is. But for younger women to pretty much demand the man pays and act like that or a free date are the only possible options…then to spin it around so somehow it’s all in his best interests (no matter how much he may earn or what his other financial commitments may be – in fact this is never even mentioned)..boggles my mind. Particularly when you’re meeting virtual strangers online.

      3. 27.2.3
        ScottH

        Crickets??? I was busy doing my hair and nails.  Man,,, that takes a long time and a lot of money.  I had no idea.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          LOL  !!!!!-  I cringe when I hear women claim they spend $200 to get ready for an initial meet and greet with a stranger from OLD for a visit to a  blow dry bar, professional manicure  and a brand new outfit.

          I managed to look fabulous for initial meet and greets, first official real dates, and any other occasion by styling my own hair, (I know how to comb my hair into an attractive style)  picking a cute outfit from my existing wardrobe, and applying Target make-up from my existing make up bag.  No need to go to a spa for a full on facial, hair and waxing session, and run out and buy a brand new designer outfit.

          I still don’t understand why a  woman would spend hundreds of dollars  to doll herself up to meet a stranger for the first time.

          My husband fell in love with me when I showed up in a denim skirt and jacket, clogs , and some lip gloss and eye-liner.  And it turns out, he prefers me withOUT the lip gloss and eye-liner.  Lucky me !!!!!

           

        2. Clare

          Sparkling Emerald,

          I feel the same way about women who claim that they spend hundreds of dollars getting ready for a date and looking good. I *don’t* think it’s a valid argument at all for why men should pay (and by the way, I’ve been largely staying out of the should men pay discussion because I always offer to pay my own way, I just think it makes things simpler, and simplicity is what I’m all about).

          $200 to get hair and nails done and a new outfit? Seriously? This is someone you haven’t met, barely know and might never see again. I spend this much money getting my highlights done each month, but this is purely for myself. When it comes to dates, I am a jeans, nice top and heels kind of girl. My make up is cheap but well applied, I do my own nails and I wear whatever perfume I’ve got in my cupboard (I seem to have accumulated numerous bottles as gifts over the years). This is plenty effort for a first date. If I really think I might like the guy, I freshly wash my hair and iron it.

          There’s nothing about me that resents this effort or expects something in return. It’s the same effort I’d make if I was going out to a party or out for a night with friends.

          And I have also posted on here before (but of course YAG clucked at me and told me it couldn’t possibly be true) that numerous guys I have dated have said they prefer me without make up and when I leave my hair curly. So….

        3. SparklingEmerald

          Clare – Then I guess YAG wont’ believe that my hubby prefers women withOUT make up, he prefers SHORT hair over long (and I mean really LOVES short hair on women) and it was HIS idea that I stop coloring my hair.  And, get this, he prefers PAJAMAS over any silky, sexy thing I could buy at Victoria’s Secret.  I LOVE the ease of my  short, white, pixie-bob hair cut, and I must admit that I save time not messing with make up, but I really do miss the sexy lingerie thing, but I can’t see spending money on something only HE will see and couldn’t care less about.  And I do enjoy wearing make up, and when we go out somewhere fancy, I still get dolled up, even though I know it makes no diff to him.

          And regardless of what men think, all that feminine primping and preening isn’t ONLY for men (I’ll admit, when I was single that was a big part of it, but not all of it).  When I go to all girl events, where NO men will be around, such as bridal showers, tea parties, etc.  I pull out all the stops and go full on glam, because I ENJOY it.  I know the glam-thing isn’t every woman’s thing, but I also know that I do all that stuff because I enjoy it, not because I think men in general, or my hubby wants me to.

        4. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          When I go to all girl events, where NO men will be around, such as bridal showers, tea parties, etc.  I pull out all the stops and go full on glam, because I ENJOY it. 

          But aren’t you doing this because a lot of the other women are as well and you don’t want to look “undone” by comparison? If our society suddenly changed it’s values and makeup/hair/shaving weren’t a sexual signifier, I’d stop doing all of them in a second. But if I want to be on the playing field with other women who will be following along with the protocol … well, what choice do I have? Yes, there are some men who prefer women “au natural,” but I usually don’t find those guys appealing.

        5. SparklingEmerald

          But aren’t you doing this because a lot of the other women are as well and you don’t want to look “undone” by comparison?

          My remarks were to address the assumption that the ONLY reason women do that is to please men, and that most of us HATE it.  Pleasing men isn’t my only reason, and I do enjoy it on special occasions.

          But if there were absolutely no social precedence for wearing make up and shaving legs, I doubt that I would come up with the idea on my own and do this. Same with other social conventions.  If we all ate everything with our hands, and not cutlery, I wouldn’t come up with that idea either 🙂

          In my circle of friends, there is a bit of variety.  Some of will be dressed to the nines, some of us will have a nice put together outfit, with little to no make up, etc.  We don’t catty with each other about who is “undone” etc.or his is overdone.   But as we get older, we each seem to have brought the volume down a bit on how dressy we get.  I ONLY wear heels if I am going somewhere, where I can sit the entire time (such as a dinner show), and I had to stop wearing eyeliner, as my eyes are more sensitive, and I end up looking like a racoon within an hour applying.

          I like the fact that I no longer have a job or a hubby that insists I do the glam thing on a regular basis.  It’s nice to have the OPTION put on a pretty dress, nice jewelry and some lip gloss, but there is no professional or social pressure to do so.  I just don’t go to social events looking completely unkempt.  Casual yes, dirty and ungroomed, no.

        6. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,
          But as we get older, we each seem to have brought the volume down a bit on how dressy we get.  I ONLY wear heels if I am going somewhere, where I can sit the entire time (such as a dinner show),
          I’ve really toned it down, too. I don’t think I’ve put on a pair of heels in at least 2 years.
          I like the fact that I no longer have a job or a hubby that insists I do the glam thing on a regular basis.  
          I always wear makeup but sometimes don’t style my hair. Just pull it back. And I work in an industry that is extremely casual. Also, there’s no one I work with I want to get dressed up for, to be honest. In my 20s I was always dressing up. Now it just seems like one more task to complete.

      4. 27.2.4
        ScottH

        SE and Clare-  I agree with you.  Some of the women here make it seem like they’re getting ready to compete for the available prince at the royal ball.  I second the sentiment about showing up casually dressed and made up, but that’s me.  I’m sure some guys fancy the woman who dresses up to the nines.

        1. Emily, the original

          Scott H,

          ” I second the sentiment about showing up casually dressed and made up, but that’s me.  I’m sure some guys fancy the woman who dresses up to the nines.”

          Yes, but even that takes time. Blowing drying and straightening/styling hair, makeup and  shaving still take time. Actually, getting dressed “to the nines” adds almost no time. It’s just putting on a nicer outfit and changing your purse. The outfit is the icing on the cake, but cooking the cake is what’s time consuming … If we could eliminate hair, makeup and shaving (and shaving can take longer depending on how much you’re shaving), we’d probably be out of the bathroom in 20 or 25 minutes. Ostensibly, for a first date, I guess you could eliminate the shaving if you’re sure you’re not going to get lucky. Some women like to be prepared just in case.  🙂

  8. 28
    Marika

    Jeremy said: If she does, I find your position baffling.  I can assure you, as a married man, that the success of my marriage depends (and has always depended) on my adopting my wife’s perspective oftentimes.

    I agree, but a lot of people don’t see the world this way. I’m surprised it surprises you. For all my family’s flaws, they are very caring and everyone is invested in each other’s happiness. The upside of the anxiety that runs through it. Going out into the world it was a shock to me (and continues to be to this day), that the majority of people seem to have a ‘me first’ approach and really aren’t overly bothered about whether other people are happy. Their kids, probably, but other people, not really. Even those in relationships, and certainly in dating. I sometimes feel like I’m from a collectivist society in a world of individualists. You’re lucky if that mentality is a surprise or rare to you.

    1. 28.1
      Jeremy

      To borrow Emily’s phrase, the heart of the matter indeed.  It’s not so much that the individualism surprises me – it’s biological, after all.  It’s the rationalization of how and why individualism is good for marriage.  How only by being more relentlessly individualistic can we form better unions – by maintaining better boundaries, being less tolerant of differences, making sure our partner’s motivations are solely for themselves and not for us, so that we can feel better when we make decisions for ourselves and not for them.  Fences make better neighbors, but do they make better spouses?

       

      Of course, Mrs Happy is right that you can’t make someone else happy – but that statement is so dangerous when not qualified.  Better IMHO to say, you can’t make someone else happy when they aren’t inclined to be, or to respond to you.  But you can definitely affect your partner’s happiness (positively or negatively) by your actions and attitudes, particularly if they love you and are attuned to you.  There is a spectrum between doing only what we want and bending over backward for our partner’s every whim.  No one would advocate either extreme.  But where on that spectrum should we be?  The avoidant person believes others should change for him.  The anxious person believes he should change for others.  The secure person, I suppose, recognizes the need for both, not neither.  For me, that’s the heart of the matter.

      1. 28.1.1
        Marika

        You and I are very similar, Jeremy. We see things we don’t really want to, we discuss people and ideas in a way that confuses, and at times annoys, others. If I want to talk about human motivations in my real life, I have to choose my audience or speak very quickly! Or sometimes get into arguments (happened yesterday, in fact), as the other person is all WTF..and I feel misunderstood. But my part in the argument was that I can be like a dog with a bone if the topic interests me, without recognising it’s not that interesting to them. Or that maybe I’m too invested in a particular interpretation.

        I guess what (I think) I’m seeing here from you is some lingering pain… maybe something triggered you this week? Your writing is very different when you’re making a point that is either not a source of pain to you, or when you’re in a good place vs not. I hope you’re okay.

      2. 28.1.2
        SparklingEmerald

        I’d like to chime in on the whole “You can’t make other people happy” sentiment.  Don’t really agree with it.

        I agree with Jeremy, that you can’t make someone happy if they are seriously depressed and inconsolable, but how you treat others has a definite effect on their level of happiness.

        You can certainly make other people MISERABLE.  Some people are described as TOXIC, for a reason.  Narcissists thrive on manipulating others, and then when their selfish behavior makes other people miserable they respond along the lines of “I am not responsible for your happiness, you are doing this to yourself”.  etc.

        So while there are SOME people who are inconsolably miserable, not much you can do for them.    But the care and consideration you show others (not just spouses, but co-workers, friends, family, etc)  will affect their happiness in some way.

        I don’t think it is unreasonable for spouses to strive to make each other happy, and to be on guard against making the other miserable.

        1. ScottH

          This Happiness argument reminds me of Kalas’ words:  “…great love affairs require a consistent intentionality AND a willingness to be responsible and careful for the gaping vulnerability great intimacy implies. And, in that sense, I do bear a grave responsibility for her happiness, if for no other reason than she has given me the terrible power to render her so desperately unhappy! Fidelity in marriage includes waking up every day with some part of your brain asking and answering the question “How today will I make my beloved feel loved? How today will I contribute to his/her happiness?”  Our mates have the right to expect that from us.”

        2. sylvana

          I have to agree with both Jeremy and SE. Your actions, and how you treat other people have a tremendous effect on their happiness.

          So as long as it’s something you are capable of doing/giving, you can absolutely make another person happy. (or miserable, for that matter).

          Healthy boundaries are one thing. But this whole “me first” think does not make for any good relationship, no matter the type.

  9. 29
    Jeremy

    To reply to some of the comments above, I wanted to share one last personal story.  I beg your indulgence for the length, but it will be my last post on the blog, at least for a while.  It’s about validation.

    I’ve always had a somewhat fraught relationship with words.  I was a young man with low self-esteem, and when someone gave me words of affirmation, they made me feel more valuable.  I sought out those words and modified my behavior to get them, but after a while I realized that the compliments didn’t make me feel better.  They gave me a temporary boost but made me feel worse later, like scratching a mosquito bite.  Because while I thought I was seeking the validation of the compliments, what I really wanted was the emotion I thought they conveyed – love.

    When a boy told me, “you’re smart,” what I hoped he meant was, “I want to be your friend because you’re smart.”  When a girl told me, “you’re nice,” what I hoped she meant was, “I want you because you’re nice.”  I was modifying my behavior to be smarter and nicer, not to be smarter and nicer, and not even to be complimented for those things, but to seek out love.  I felt that love had to be earned, that my actions were the key to earning it, that the complimentary statements meant that my actions were working.  Problem was, that wasn’t at all what they meant. They were just words. Perhaps social niceties, perhaps fleeting feelings of gratitude or even admiration, but fleeting nonetheless.

    Perhaps because of that, I came to devalue words. Of all the 5 love languages, words of affirmation mean the least to me. Don’t tell me that you love me, SHOW me. Without actions, all the “I love you” statements in the world are just farts coming out of the face’s anus, for all the value they hold. That is why the marital problems I had were so painful – not because I was not “getting off” as Sylvana suggested, but because I felt unloved – regardless of my wife’s words. And that is why, Adrian, you are ultimately incorrect in your surmise. Because after learning this hard lesson over the course of my life, words were not what I needed when the situation ended. You are right that no one regaled me with gratitude, but wrong that I needed the gratitude. I had the actions and the emotions. What could be more validating than that, in the end of all things?

    I tell this story, not because I think anyone here cares about my personal life, but because there’s a lesson here for all of us who crave validation – a lesson I wish I had learned earlier in my life.  We think that love must be earned, that our actions are the key to that earning, that if we don’t earn it we don’t deserve it and so can’t enjoy it even if it is forthcoming. For those of us who, deep down, feel that way, we need to stop and consider more than the meta-goal of validation. We need to consider the meta-meta goal 🙂  Because if what we are ultimately seeking is love, we need to realize that love does not need to be earned, and what we get when we earn it isn’t the kind of love we ultimately want – which is the reason why getting that kind of love feels like scratching a mosquito bite, satisfying in the short-term but inflammatory in the long-term. What do we seek, when we seek the things we seek?

    With that, I think I’ve said all I need to say here.  While the compliments have certainly been nice, ultimately what I hope for is that each of you will use whatever you may have absorbed to better your own relationships and experiences, to be brilliant rather than just wise. That, to me will be very validating.

    1. 29.1
      Adrian

      Hi Jeremy,

      I’m not sure if you will see this or not but I just wanted to say thanks for everything; I personally always enjoyed your comments. I think it is a good thing you are taking a break from the blog-as I will be doing the same.

      I hope what you learned from this is that when  you are famous  the love of people is fickle. The same people who love and praise you when you are doing things they enjoy will quickly turn on you when you do something they don’t.

      The last thing I will say is for you to try to remember what Evan has had to tell me over and over whenever I started to suffer from blog jadedness and that is that the few people that comment do NOT represent the vast majority of readers. Jeremy I am sure that the vast majority of readers look forward to and enjoy your comments.

      I look forward to talking to you again on here in the future my friend.

    2. 29.2
      sylvana

      Jeremy,

      very good point, as always. And I fully agree with you. Word don’t mean much. It’s the actions of a person that truly convey how that person feels, and what kind of person he/she is.

      One word of caution, though. You, and a lot of other men, have mentioned that you can look at sex as an act of love/a way a woman shows her love. The problem with this is that sex is not something a woman can do or give. It is not an action in that sense. As I mentioned, there is a physical component involved in sex that a woman has absolutely no control over. And this is the part that is definitely overlooked by most men.

      I can understand that a man can feel unloved if his wife no longer wants to have sex.  But, on the other hand, he needs to understand that this is not something she can choose to do for him. She can cook him his favorite dinner, go out of her way to do nice things for him, etc. But when it comes to something that requires a reaction or performance from her body, she has no choice.

      You are basically equating an involuntary physical reaction (arousal/desire) with love. Mistaking an involuntary reaction and a deliberate action. Which causes a lot of grief for really no reason.

      Now I’m sure that was likely not the only issue you had. I simply directed my question at you since a) you brought it up, b) Adrian’s assumption of it being mostly sexual, and c) you’re usually really good at answering those kind of questions.

      That being said, we will miss you!

       

       

    3. 29.3
      Mrs Happy

      Please do not go.  I can count on one hand the number of people I so enjoy communicating with.

      Or, if you must go for your own emotional state, and that I understand, ask Evan for my email address, or let him give me yours.

    4. 29.4
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,
      You’ll be back. I tried to leave once, but the separation only lasted a couple of months. This blog is like the mafia for Al Pacino in “The Godfather, Part 3.”

      “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” 🙂

    5. 29.5
      Marika

      You will be missed, Jeremy (I say that not to validate you, but from the bottom of my heart 🙂 ).

  10. 30
    SparklingEmerald

    ETO said “This blog is like the mafia for Al Pacino in “The Godfather, Part 3.”

    “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” 🙂

    I think of this blog as “The Hotel California”    —  “You can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave . . “

    1. 30.1
      Emily, the original

      Sparkling Emerald,

      I think of this blog as “The Hotel California”    —  “You can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave . . “

      LOL. I keep looking for an escape hatch. WHERE IS IT?   🙂

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