Is Evan Marc Katz’s Marriage Sad and Uninspiring?

Is Evan Marc Katz's Marriage Sad and Uninspiring
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I’m well-aware that criticism comes with the territory of writing for the internet. The fact that there are 130,000 comments on my blog should be a decent indicator of how much dissent I allow (pretty much everything except personal insults). I also know that it would be impossible for any reader to have a full understanding of my marriage; it’s all mediated through blog posts, videos, etc. But since I use my marriage as an example of the kind of marriage I wish for you to have, I believe it’s fair for you to want to know whether I’m some sort of bullshit artist or a guy who actually walks his own walk.

And while  I haven’t done this for a long time, an individual comment on this recent blog post just rubbed me the wrong way. Since I couldn’t shake the feeling, I figured this would be a great opportunity to explain myself to anyone who may have the same perceptions as this reader about me and my “uninspiring” marriage.

And, by “explain myself,” I mean, I brought in my wife to directly address each of the partially-true, partially misguided claims below. She’s more diplomatic than I am but I do love that she comes out swinging.

“V” writes:

“I fear I must say what many other women are afraid to say and it’s that you don’t come off as good husband material initially either. I think you can not see this about yourself and only see what a super great catch you are.

– You spoke about how you had about 300 dates in 10 years; sorry but according to the math that’s only about 2 dates a month; low numbers. I bring that up because

– You said you Never had a relationship last longer than 6 months. Over 300 dates in 10 years and not one single long-term girlfriend? Being over 35 years old did you suddenly learn to “compromise” because sudden maturity or a fear of growing old and alone? What woman wants to be chosen for that reason?

– You said that you broke up with your wife (then girlfriend) because you didn’t feel strong desire (chemistry) for her. A week before you asked her to marry you. What woman wants a man that married her because he chose logic and not love?

– You’ve admitted that you actually envied your friends when you were dating your wife because you wanted to feel strongly and passionately about her like they did with their girlfriends. Again what woman doesn’t want to be seen emotionally not just logically desirable in her boyfriend’s eyes?

– Lori  Gottlieb insulted (in my opinion) your then girlfriend (now wife) to your face by calling her looks unimpressive and saying she’s seen you date more attractive women. You didn’t get upset, you didn’t get angry, according to you-you weren’t bothered by it. Why? Because your decision to marry your wife was based off logic. What woman doesn’t want her man to defend her before his friends?

– Your wife tells the story of giving you a Mulligan after hearing you say “another woman is the sexiest woman you’ve ever seen.” Yes we all know other women are prettier or thinner than us, but it doesn’t mean we want to hear our boyfriends tell us out loud.

Because you chose logic over chasing emotions you founded the “don’t chase chemistry” philosophy of “7 in looks 10 in compatibility” which we all benefit from and are thankful for. And you just commented recently that over time you fallen deeply in love with your wife which is beautiful.

However just like you want us to understand that your stories were meant to inspire us and NOT insult your wife, I hope you can understand that it’s not easy for us to be as logical in relationships as you.”

My wife responds:

“She’s somewhat misstating facts here.

  1. Evan went on 300 dates in ten years but had a series of girlfriends over that time that ranged between one month and eight months. And if Evan was in relationships for 3+ years out of the 10, that’s going on about one date per week, which is exactly what he recommends to other women. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.
  2. Every second you’re with the wrong person, you’re not looking for the right person.

  3. Next, she talks about Evan choosing me logically as if there was no emotion behind it. That’s ridiculous. Evan’s the most emotional guy ever – crying when he proposed, crying through our wedding vows, crying at his retreats. Similarly, if she’s read all Evan’s stuff (and it sounds like she has) she would know that his philosophy is that every second you’re with the wrong person, you’re not looking for the right person. Evan always wanted to get married and, unlike anyone I know, he never wasted his time or the time of any of his girlfriends.
  4. Finally, doesn’t she know that marriage has a LOT to do with timing? I wouldn’t have been open to dating Evan when I was 30. He wouldn’t have been open to me either. But when I was 37 and he was 34, we were ready for each other. That wasn’t about fear of growing old alone for either of us. It was about finding a relationship that finally felt good – and would continue to feel good as our lives progressed.
  5. I don’t know where she got the idea that Evan broke up with me before we got married. He  expressed fears and reservations that he wasn’t sure what he was going to do, and good for him. At least he was honest about his confusion. A lot of women are honest about their boyfriend’s long-term potential. They’re concerned about his career. They’re concerned about his communication skills. They’re concerned about his drinking or his failure to take care of his body. Any woman would agree her girlfriend has every right to encourage her boyfriend to get his career on track or push him to eat healthier. So it’s okay for women to express concerns about their boyfriends but it’s not okay for men to express concerns about their girlfriends?That’s a big disconnect for me. No, I didn’t love it when Evan admitted he wasn’t sure what to do before proposing to me. But I FAR prefer it to being blindsided. My first husband had reservations about marriage and kids but didn’t tell me until one year AFTER we got married. He wrestled with all this stuff internally and then blew up our marriage – all because he couldn’t do what Evan does naturally – be honest.
  6. Next, in regards to the Lori Gottlieb thing: Whatever. What I knew at the time – and still know – is that Lori’s not married and hasn’t figured out the important stuff. So why should I worry that she thinks I’m average? From what I recall from ten years ago, Evan wrote an angry email to Lori before the book came out and Lori emailed to apologize but who cares? Yeah, Evan dated more impressive women before he met me. Who did he marry? That’s all you need to know.
  7. Our feelings were even — and while “logical” sounds decidedly unsexy, we both took into account how great the relationship felt, especially in comparison to our previous relationships.

  8. This woman places way too much on her perception that Evan was operating under some sort of Spock-like logic. He wasn’t. He uses logic to explain his emotions to his readers. Contrary to what you may believe, we weren’t that couple with the power imbalance where one person was way more into the other. We had butterflies without anxiety. We didn’t worry if we were apart for a few days. We both knew this was a good relationship. Our feelings were even – and while “logical” sounds decidedly unsexy, we both took into account how great the relationship felt, especially in comparison to our previous relationships. As far as the claim that Evan was envious of a friend who had more passion… he was – at the time. That relationship ended in a bitter divorce after three years. Ours has been going strong for twelve years. That’s the very reason Evan cautions against blind passion.
  9. I once had a boyfriend – Dan – who was like Evan’s sexiest girlfriend, Erin. I always felt unsettled with Dan, like he was maybe going to cheat on me, which, ultimately, he did. Just because someone is the most physically attractive person in your past doesn’t mean that person makes for the best mate. And if I can feel that way about Dan, why can’t he feel that way about Erin? Do you think we should lie or keep secrets because our relationship is too fragile to tell the truth about the past?
  10. As to why I’m okay with Evan writing about all of this publicly? I’m secure. Evan only says what other men would like to say if they were allowed to be honest with their wives (which they’re not). Evan is allowed to be honest with me because I once married a guy who withheld his feelings and I didn’t like it. I allow and encourage him to tell these stories on his blog and in his programs because it’s his JOB and it’s for the greater good of the world. Evan’s whole purpose is to help others experience what we’ve experienced and if people still can’t understand that or want to try to tear it down, I don’t know what else to say.

I appreciate my wife taking time to respond to this blog post and I hope you do, too. I accept that part of my job is to engage with readers and address criticism where appropriate. My wife didn’t sign up for this job though, which is why I think it’s very gracious of her to directly address your perceptions of us as a couple.

In case it’s not 100% clear.  I didn’t settle on a wife who wasn’t my original ideal. My wife didn’t settle on a husband who chose her with pure logic. We both compromised on the right things and consider ourselves very lucky to still be going strong twelve years and two kids later. Your comments below, are greatly appreciated.

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Noquay

    Evan

    The point is that you and your wife are happy in the life you have. That’s all that matters. You found what works for you and stuck to it. Often think folks want to project their ideal on others then get upset when that is not what we want nor what works for us. I chose not to do the family thing, to avoid average American life, to pursue all things active, environmental and intellectual and I’ve caught hell for it my entire adult life yet that is what works for me. Yeah, finding compatible folk will always be more difficult but that doesn’t justify trying to force oneself into a life one doesn’t want. Perhaps trying to live a life that’s not working for us is why the divorce and breakup rate is sooooo high, eh? Live the way you’re meant to, keep up the good work, and to hell with the critics.

  2. 2
    Vanessa

    I really like this article, and honestly, the reader’s comments were valid and well-thought out arguments(it was not me who commented, even though my name also begins with ‘V’) which makes it all the more satisfying to read Evan’s wife’s rebuttals.

    I think when people hear “compromise”, they think “settling”. I did for a while too. I read Evan’s blogs as a young single mom and they changed my way of approaching men and dating, I still worried if providing a good stepdad to my son meant being with a man who I felt “meh” about. Good men would be interested in me, and I would try to give them a chance, but I couldn’t ever shake the feeling I would be settling if I continued to let them pursue me.

    Then… I met my now-boyfriend. He was a wonderful man, father to twin daughters close to my son’s age. We met on a dating app, and from our first messages to each other, I could tell this would be a relationship I’d like to pursue. Our first date wasn’t an explosion of fireworks, but something about him intrigued me to the point I wanted to see him again, and the fact that he wasn’t shy about pursuing me and setting up the next date made me more sure of my decision. It took me a little while to figure out how I felt about him, but I never once felt the fear of settling and we ended up falling in love quickly. We have a long way to go to catch up to where Evan’s marriage is in this blog post, but I have never been this close to happy and secure in any of my previous relationships.

    Bringing this back to the point of compromising–there were a lot of things I thought I wanted in a partner in my younger years. Most of these things were shallow or qualities of an ‘alpha male’. For instance, when I was younger I was very attracted to musicians, people with tattoos, tall, confident men, etc. My boyfriend is none of those things but those qualities are FAR from what determines a good life partner. I think the thing about compromise that people don’t get is it’s NOT about settling, it is about figuring out what is REALLY important in a life partner, and choosing accordingly.

  3. 3
    S.

    Your marriage always sounded good to me.   I have no idea why you’d trouble your wife to address that comment.   But hey, it’s your blog so you can pretty much do what you want. 🙂

    One comment about the 300 dates.   Is Evan counting the dates while in a relationship? I always thought they were 300 to get to a relationship.   Because once I’m past two months of dating I stop counting individual dates, even retroactively.   We just spend a lot of time together I don’t even bother to remember the number of dates or average or anything after that point.

    But if you’re counting dates within a relationship, that’s really different.   Honestly, nope it actually doesn’t matter.   Sometimes the number give people pause.   It’s a lot of dates.   Especially for the more introverted among us.   But to each their own.   After someone finds a stable partner and is with them, seemingly for the rest of their lives, does it matter so much how they got there?

    Live and let live.

  4. 4
    Christine

    Well said, both of you. Keep up the good work Evan. Your writing   helped me find the happy marriage I have today.

  5. 5
    JoJo Loves Couture

    Simply speaking as a child-free and single adult, I can factually say that dating after disillusionment feels totally different from dating with romantic/movie inspired notions in your head. My last relationship had me thinking “wedding bells” but in the words of Biggie Smalls; it was all a dream. Passion on my end was there but he didnt share his feelings and when he did, it was simple and to the point logic. In his mind dating/coupling was about companionship, not romance or foolish notions of “happily ever after”. The problem was that I wanted those things; the dinner, flowers, plans for the future of marriage & travel, passion etc. However now I look at dating/marriage totally differently and from a more logic filled scope. That doesnt mean that I would settle for a lifeless relationship but it does mean that I am more realistic in discovering whats important. Furthermore, since realizing what real relationships take, I’m less inclined to fantasize about the “perfect guy” and now know that my life can be perfect without a guy at all. It sounds to me that Evan’s advice kinda kills the “je ne sais quoi” that many women dream about. Its not the typical “butterflies in the gut” type of love story. But it is still a love story and a successful marriage. Sometimes reality bites and sometimes reality allows us to appreciate things for what they really are. Okay im done lol

  6. 6
    Jeremy

    Evan, I liked your wife’s reply.   Given that V’s comments were also directed at me (though you kindly edited those out), I’d also like to reply with my own take on the subject.

    I think we all want to be the focus of our spouse’s desire, to be their emotional choice rather than just their logical one.   I wonder if it would surprise V at all to learn that when my relationship was new, when my marriage was young, the chemistry/desire was as high as the compatibility.   From both of our perspectives.   Passion, affection, sex, we had all these things in abundance.   She was not just my logical choice, nor was I hers.   In fact, she was more often insecure that I might be “settling” for her, that she might be no more than MY logical choice, as I did not lack female attention in those days.   She was very affectionate, very eager to give and receive love.   Which is why what happened after our first child was born hit me so much by surprise.   I had made the mistake of judging the future by the present.   The mistake I see so many people making even here in these comments, the ‘happily ever after fallacy’.

    I’ve had frustrations in my marriage, ups and downs.   I’ve learned a lot of things I had no inkling of before.   And one of those things is this little tidbit in 2 parts:

    i)   No matter how good you think your relationship is in the present, at some point some unforeseen conflict, some unexpected storm, will rattle the foundation of your relationship

    ii) When things do start to go south, when the shit meets the fan, the thing that will save you – give you the impetus to save things – is the logic, not the emotion.   The compatibility, not the chemistry.   Because emotions are ephemeral, they change like the wind – desire to comfort, affection to resentment, love to….a different kind of love.   And when desire fades to comfort, what impetus do you still have to prioritize the relationship if it has always been predicated on desire?

    Desire is important, V, no one knows that better than I.   I spent years trying to re-kindle it in my marriage because without it, with just compatibility, I was miserable.   But I was able to rekindle it because we still had compatibility.   Still had the foundation.   Without that, I’d have walked.   And missed out on the beauty and happiness I now have.   It sucks that I had to do it, that I was not met half-way.   That the balance of the compromises was skewed.   My wife has long-since apologized, blamed the haze of hormones and exhaustion and societal messaging.   Long-since gone out of her way to show me love, to make me feel loved, to show me that love through acceptance, appreciation and desire rather than being safe, heard and understood.   The structure of our marriage was damaged as if by a storm, but the foundation withstood the blast and allowed rebuilding.   And so my advice to all of you echoes Evan’s – focus on the foundation.   Because if you only focus on the pretty decorations, the first storm will blow you over.

    1. 6.1
      Emily, to

      Jeremy,

      Here’s a question for you because you’re married: How much of your romantic past do you share? Do you want to know about your wife’s sexiest partner? Do you want to know about the best sex she’s had? The most chemistry she’s felt, etc? Or is that something you’d prefer she keep to herself? Or if she doesn’t share those things, do you feel you don’t really “know” her?

      1. 6.1.1
        Jeremy

        It’s hard for me to answer this question, Emily, because the perspective I had as a 20-something dating is going to be different from people in their 40s. I’ll only give one thought, that I hope people here won’t find too naive. You asked, “Do you want to know about the best sex she’s had?” So….I think it’s important to make the effort that the best sex you’ve had is with your spouse. I think it does no one any favours to have a pet memory of someone else as being the best sex you’ve ever had, whether or not that person is in prison, whether or not that person is in another country or has recently moved down the road from you. If your sexual experiences with your spouse have not yet matched those of your past, put in the effort and create that new memory – it’s important. Your spouse wants to be the best sex you’ve had, cares about that whether or not he/she admits it. Believing that your spouse is the best sex you’ve had is more conducive to a good sexual relationship – and believing that the sex you have with your spouse is not the best sex you’ve had is a recipe for trouble. For all sorts of reasons. Put in the effort; create the new memory. Not just so you can tell your spouse that he/she is the best you’ve had, but so that you can believe it too. That’s my 2 cents on the matter.

        1. Emily, to

          Jeremy,  

          For all sorts of reasons. Put in the effort; create the new memory.

          I read this somewhere:   Guys who rock your room don’t make the best grooms. I think you have to have really good sex if you’re going to be with someone for the rest of your life. But a great person, matching values, goals, compatibility, wants to be with you and the best sex? That’s a tall order. I don’t think anybody gets the whole enchilada. This is true for men, too. I have a guy friend who has a great relationship with his fiancee but told me his previous girlfriend was better sexually. But the relationship wasn’t as good.

        2. Mrs Happy

          Emily, if I can chime in, I’d like to say something quite different.

          I think a very small percentage of people are really really talented in bed, and most aren’t.   Also, until you’ve had a fantastic lover, you just can’t tell how unbelievably great, and off the charts, fantastic sex is. It’s a numbers game, so if you haven’t had many partners you’re statistically less likely to have ever experienced fantastic sex, and you don’t really know what you’re missing.

          I wouldn’t expect a partner to be the fastest runner or swimmer or strongest football player, the best at violin, drawing, problem solving, I’d ever seen … so why should I expect my partner to magically be the best ever in bed?   It’s illogical.   A lover of average skill (i.e. most people) can lift their game, but in my experience, they cannot get close to fantastic.   And if the skill isn’t there, and you live in the real world, you can’t create a new current-partner memory to over-ride the really fantastic lover memory.   You can create a false memory, and live in the Matrix, of course, and some may choose to.

          Wise people don’t ask their spouse about their best ever sex.

          Maybe it’s possible men might place more weight on being a woman’s best, than vice versa?

        3. Emily, to

          Hi Mrs. Happy,

          I hope your family is doing well.
          I think a very small percentage of people are really really talented in bed, and most aren’t.  
          Disagree on this. It’s not skill. There is no good and bad sex, just personal preference. One of my “best” (there were two) told me some women told him he was too aggressive, but I dug it. So not every woman was impressed with him. He was my “10.” He was someone else’s 3.
          Also, until you’ve had a fantastic lover, you just can’t tell how unbelievably great, and off the charts, fantastic sex is.
          Totally agree. There is big a difference between great and good.
          It’s a numbers game, so if you haven’t had many partners you’re statistically less likely to have ever experienced fantastic sex, and you don’t really know what you’re missing.
          I agree, too. Every time I read the posts from the religious woman on here who’s saving herself for marriage, I think: But what if it’s bad? The statistical likelihood she’ll get great sex with her first (and presumably only) lover is low, although possible.
          A lover of average skill (i.e. most people) can lift their game, but in my experience, they cannot get close to fantastic.  
            Improvement is possible but not miracles. Sexual compatibility is a tricky thing.
          Wise people don’t ask their spouse about their best ever sex.
          Yes. Adopt a don’t ask/don’t tell policy.

        4. Jeremy

          Last I checked, Mrs Happy, people don’t take oaths to only run, swim, play football or violin, draw or problem-solve with only 1 person for the rest of their lives.   Nor is it generally important to anyone’s ego that they be the best you’ve met at any of the above things.   None of those things make up a large section of anyone’s pie chart of reasons to marry.   So I think your comparison is not really apples-to-apples.

           

          I don’t know if it’s that men place more weight on being a woman’s best sex than vice-versa.   But I do know that women are more likely than men to lose interest in sex – and more likely to believe that their doing so shouldn’t be a big deal as long as the other 95% of their reasons to marry are intact.   Regardless of whether their husbands share any interest in that 95%.

           

          You mentioned what is wise….that a wise person doesn’t ask about their partner’s sexual history.   I perceive of wisdom a bit differently.   That if we are wise, we understand what is important to our spouse and prioritize it, rather than believing that if our spouse was wise they’d prioritize as we do.   If sex is important to our spouse, we’d better learn to enjoy it – enjoy it a lot.   We’d better teach them how to please us, how to blow our minds.   How to reduce the prevalence of those pesky fantasies of other people whom we enjoyed more.   Otherwise, we might find ourselves wondering what the hell is wrong with our spouses for wanting sex when we have no interest in it.

           

          It’s not necessarily about being the best our spouse ever had, but it’s definitely about having them enjoy the experience – enjoy it enough to believe that the effort to “rig the sails” is worth it, somewhere in the vicinity of how often their partner would like.   I just think it’s difficult to really enjoy something when you have several points of reference that you enjoyed better.   A woman might choose a husband for his potential to be a great life partner even though the sex is meh.   And  she might end up happy, and behave very predictably.

        5. Emily, to

          Jeremy,
          “but it’s definitely about having them enjoy the experience — enjoy it enough to believe that the effort to “rig the sails” is worth it, somewhere in the vicinity of how often their partner would like. I just think it’s difficult to really enjoy something when you have several points of reference that you enjoyed better. A woman might choose a husband for his potential to be a great life partner even though the sex is meh.”
          I know you responded to Mrs. Happy, but in my response I wrote that the sex you have with a life partner better be really good if that’s the only person you’ll be having sex with for the rest of your days. But expecting it to be the best is not realistic (and I know you are a logical person). It’s like the previous post from the woman who wanted to be the hottest woman ever to her boyfriend. Not realistic. Hot in his eyes? Yes. The hottest ever? No.That’s expecting too much. I’m sure men do it, too. I have a guy friend who told me he married his wife because she’s a good person and a good mother. He implied the sex wasn’t exactly what he wanted. Everyone makes trade-offs. And the benchmark some other man set, if that’s what you want to call it, was usually years ago and someone you no interest in ever seeing again. You’re hardly pining for the person.

        6. Mrs Happy

          Ohh I have so much work to do, but here I am replying to this instead, of course.

          Jeremy, I appreciate it is important to you that you are the best, or one of the best, lovers your wife has ever had, and vice versa, and you are willing to put in lots of effort to achieve this thought/feeling, even including suppressing and re-writing old memories and enjoyments.

          It is not important to me at all that I am the prettiest, hottest, smartest, nicest, or best in bed, person my husband has ever known.   I think it extremely unlikely I’m #1, of all the women he has known or seen, regarding any of those things, and I’m not one to pine for the moon, but quite apart from that reality, he married the package of me, rather than any one attribute.

          Let’s call my best ever lover G.   Until (and after) G, in retrospect, every man I’d enjoyed intimacies with fell within about one standard deviation of each other in sexual talent.   Some were better than others.   But they all hovered around 10-20% of one another in ability. (If asked before G, I’d have ranked them across numerous standard deviations, not knowing how far ahead some men could be.)

          Then I had the luxury of enjoying G’s machinations, and G was off the bar curve, off the paper, off the end of the street even, and so mathematically I had to squish everyone else together within one standard deviation, because they were all so much lower in ability than G.   Even with them, sex was mostly enjoyable, I’m certainly not complaining.   But it is impossible for me to suppress the memory of G, or convince myself my current partner (whoever he may be) is better than G.   It’s a ludicrous idea.   And there is no good reason to try to do this.   I am the sum of my past experiences, so why on earth would I want to falsify myself, individually and within my marriage, by trying to negate my past experience of life?   And a fantastically enjoyable experience at that?

          If it’s important to my spouse’s ego he is my best in bed, I cannot rewrite my history with G, so there is nothing I can do about his ego’s desire.   I could swing naked from chandeliers with entire cheerleading squads trying to create the best ever sex with my spouse, and still G would be out of the ballpark, in terms of my experience of sex.

          I suspect the men for whom it’s really important they’re the best in bed for their wives, are the men who want a wife with no/few other sexual partners.   And that’s fine.   I suspect that is one of the many reasons womens’ sexuality has been so controlled through the ages actually.

          “I just think it’s difficult to really enjoy something when you have several points of reference that you enjoyed better.”   You’re wrong about not enjoying things if something better has been had.   My daughter is not terribly talented at playing her string instrument, but I enjoy her concert performances more than Yo-Yo Ma’s.   My best ever run along a sunny beach doesn’t negate other enjoyable runs.   Emotions are illogical things.

          There is no need to sacrifice logic for feelings or pet theories.   All things can be enjoyed, despite rankings.

        7. Jeremy

          Last month I was on vacation in Florida.   There was a very good BBQ restaurant near our hotel, and we’d go frequently and enjoy ourselves.   But around mid-vacation, my wife and I had my in-laws watch the kids and we went to a fancy steakhouse.   The food there was mind-blowingly good.   Best ever.   Later that week we took the kids and went back to the BBQ joint near the hotel….and the food there, the food that had always seemed quite good, tasted fairly mediocre to us.   We’d had much better.   It was hard to get excited about it.

           

          I think it was Voltaire who said that “perfection is the enemy of the good.”   I really do wonder whether having had really amazing sexual experiences in their past affects the way people see their sexual experience with their spouse.   Their spouse who, they admit, just isn’t as good.   Oh, in many ways the spouse is better – a better life partner.   But is a “life partner” what your spouse wants to be to you, or is it what YOU want your spouse to be?   What does your spouse want to be to you?   This is the farthest thing from a trivial question.

           

          This weekend I attended a bar mitzvah party thrown by a couple that we know.   The husband stood up to toast his wife – “I love you,” he said, “you are my everything.”   The wife then stood up to toast her husband and said, “My dear, you are the best life partner I could imagine.”   Oy.   Not the same – a chasm of difference between the descriptors.   In the midst of the lavish display of wealth, the food, the drink, the celebratory mood…..I felt pity for the man.   Because if what you value in your wife is that she is your “everything,” you want to be her “everything” too.   Not just the facilitator of her lifestyle wants, her “life partner.”

           

          In the end, I think it matters less that you think your spouse is the best you’ve had, and more that you try to believe it.   Put in the effort, create the new memories.   We love the things we put effort into, they matter more to us.   Understand that it is important, understand WHY it’s important, regardless of the fact that what you wanted is a life partner and you think that’s what your partner SHOULD want too.

        8. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          Put in the effort, create the new memories.   We love the things we put effort into, they matter more to us.   Understand that it is important, understand WHY it’s important, regardless of the fact that what you wanted is a life partner and you think that’s what your partner SHOULD want too.

          Just because a partner asks for something doesn’t mean it’s reasonable, and the other partner isn’t failing because he/she can’t provide it. To expect that you both really enjoy each other and have enthusiastic sex at regular intervals? Reasonable? That you expect to be considered the best? Not reasonable. And there’s something that clicks with someone when it is “the best.” It’s like chemistry. It’s impossible to explain but it’s there or it’s not.

        9. Jeremy

          Always fun chatting with you, Mrs H.   I wrote my above comment before I saw yours, but having read your most recent post I found an interesting contradiction.   So….”G” was by far the objectively best lover you’ve ever had.   By orders of magnitude.   It would be  impossible to believe that a current partner could be better, more enjoyable, unless one were to create a Matrix-like hallucination.

           

          Hmmm…   But you enjoy your daughter’s string performances better than Yo-Yo Ma’s.   Even though Ma is by far the objectively superior player.   You aren’t just saying that having heard Ma’s superlative performances didn’t preclude you from enjoying your daughter’s, you said you enjoyed your daughter’s performances MORE.   But how is that possible?   Would that not require the establishment of a personal Matrix?

           

          I am being facetious of course.   We both know how and why it’s possible.   Love creates quite a haze, doesn’t it?   Perhaps where we disagree is not so much on what is  possible, but rather on how different people hope to be  loved.

        10. Mrs Happy

          Hmm Canada Boy, replying before reading…not your usual thorough obsessive detailed self right now then? Hope the weather hasn’t frozen your brain over there.
          I can’t change my reality because of how my partner might want me to view him, and nor can your Bar Mitzvah wife friend. And I didn’t think their respective speeches too chasmatic really. They said what they each really meant. Embrace honesty and the genuine, I say. You’re projecting your desires onto others.
          And I have a beef with you from last week – The Breakfast Club? Damaged? Are you kidding me? The regulars here are fantastic, interesting, opinionated, intelligent, varied-life-experience contributors. If this is damaged, the rest of the world is a basket case.

        11. Jeremy

          Canada Boy?   That’s my superhero alias!   How the hell did you figure out that was me?!   Truly, your detective skills are unparalleled.

           

          It’s not the weather that has frozen my brain, it’s a week of sleeplessness.   My superhero power, I’m told, is making people feel safe and sleepy.   When 5 members of a household are cranky, sick-ish, and insomniac, call Canada Boy, whose amazing abilities can put anyone to sleep except himself.

           

          Re: the bar mitzvah couple, it’s funny.   After the party we got together with some other couples who were there and I asked whether anyone else thought the speeches were disparate. Most of the men saw the discrepancy, none of the women did, even after I explained my POV.   Broad gender-divide, I think, on why people choose to marry.    In this case, it’s not so much that I’m projecting my own desires on the couple, it’s that I know them.

        12. Jeremy

          Oh, and PS, your reveal of the meaning of your enigmatic “CB” comment from a few months ago was not lost on me.   I’m usually a fair hand at mind-reading, but sometimes even I need some hand-holding.   It’s as if I’d been referring to you as EW for months, only later to reveal that the initials referred to Emma Wiggle.   Aussie, happy, drives a big car…you can see how it’d evoke the icon.   Anyway, I apologize for laughing at you then.   In my defense, it was fond laughter with absolutely no derogatory intent.

        13. Mrs Happy

          OK, while I wolf down my potato and leek soup for lunch I’m quickly going to call BS on the bar mitzvah husband’s “You are my everything” comment, because I can’t help myself.

          If he can sit in a dark lonely cold hut in Antarctica staring into her eyes for 16 hours a day, and want for nothing else, for a 5 year period, he gets to make that statement.   But we all know that isn’t true.

          At a rough deduction:

          1. This man is 45-50 years old and works full time in a professional job.   This provides him with an ego boost, role, status, money, intellectual stimulation, maybe travel and scenery changes, different tasks with accordant cognitive variation, interesting and at times exciting relationships with work colleagues, a few flirtations over the 25y at least and maybe much more at most.

          2.   Unless he is an eunuch, he has had, as my old Catholic priests would say, “impure thoughts” about thousands of other women, during his 25y marriage.   He has almost certainly masturbated to images or action or memories of lots of those women.

          3.   He has teenage kids, they are his DNA legacy.   Arguably more important than his wife, depending on his stage of life, or if not that, at least very important.

          4.   He probably has a hobby or two, enjoyment of which is important to him.

          5.   He has numerous friends, relatives, neighbours, and synagogue connections, which provide him with joy and meaning.

          6.   He enjoys good food.   (What middle-aged Jewish man doesn’t.)

          7.   He might exercise, which makes him feel good.

          One person, his beloved wife, being everything to him, is now looking awfully unlikely, no? Because even in 10 minutes and not ever having met him, I can list over a dozen extremely important parts of his life that have nothing to do with his wife.

          So what happened here is, the man said some soppy, Hallmark card untrue statement in his speech, and the wife said what was true both factually and with her feelings.

          I’m not sleeping either.   I’m exhausted.   Need sooo many choc Easter eggs to cope every day!

        14. Jeremy

          I agree with most of what you wrote, with one important clarification: Jewish men like food at EVERY age, not just middle.   Seriously, when I was a resident, some of my friends used to throw these “wine and cheese” parties where there would actually only be wine and cheese!   And maybe some crackers.   And I’d be looking around and covertly whisper “where the hell’s the food?”   And they’d reply, no word of a lie, “why’d you need more food, we have wine!”   And various Yiddish words of complaint and derision would bubble up from my subconscious.   I digress.

           

          Obviously the “she’s my everything” is a gross exaggeration, a Hallmark expression as you say.   But there’s an underlay of truth in there.   I came across an article that explains it simplistically but well:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/schlepping-through-heartbreak/201406/woman-s-marriageman-s-marriage-two-different-worlds

           

          Knowing this couple, they both had certain wants when they married.   Both wanted children (smart, talented children), status, a certain lifestyle, a help-mate, security, companionship, and love.   But for her, the desire for the love and companionship of a man only made up about 10% of her marital wants, though that man was the key to obtaining the other 90%.   Once she had that 90%, his continued presence or lack thereof makes little impact on her continuing to retain it.   His main function to her is as a “life-partner.”   Whereas for him, the desire for the love and companionship of a woman made up more like 60-70% of his marital wants.   Obviously not his “everything,” but a much larger piece of the pie.   Her continued presence in the relationship (emotional presence as well as physical) remains essential to his obtaining his marital goals on an ongoing basis.   Her marital desires were front-loaded, his were much less so.   And so what they each need/want from each other after 15 years of marriage is significantly different.   Were they to split up, the devastation each would feel would be significantly different.   The desire for each of them to remarry would be significantly different – after all, her main impetus for marrying has already been achieved.   His is ongoing.   It is their truth, as you say.   It just sucks.

           

          Why aren’t you sleeping?   I know you love chocolate, but you don’t really need an excuse.   The lack of sleep isn’t good, can’t continue.   I actually passed out this morning for the first time every.   Got out of bed and started walking toward the bathroom, started seeing stars and next thing I knew I was on the floor.   Can’t continue, something’s gotta give.   Don’t let yourself get to that point – it sneaks up on you unexpectedly.

        15. Mrs Happy

          Please take care of yourself and don’t pass out again.   In fact sort out why you passed out.

    2. 6.2
      Butterduck

      Thank you for writing that, Jeremy. A long time ago, I did walk out on my husband, because I lacked fortitude during a rough patch   (yes, I think that postmenopause had made me a little crazy, and no, there was no one else involved), but he took me back; he was actually happy to. That was 20 years ago.

      I will always regret walking out, I think, though my husband has never mentioned it.

  7. 7
    Yet Another Guy

    V took a swipe at me too.   The difference between me and the men who were included in that rant is that I earned my swipe.     I personally could not care less about what V thinks of my value as “husband material.”   I am not looking for a wife.     However, just from reading the comment, I can tell that V is bitter and out of touch with reality to the point where a vitriolic rant targeted at the dating coach who owns the blog is seen as appropriate (if I were Evan, I would have sent that comment to the bit bucket). I can say without question that there is a huge difference between Evan and me when it comes to being relationship material.   To compare him to me is ludicrous.

     

     

    1. 7.1
      Chris

      I don’t think her comment was ranting or vitriolic. Misguided, certainly, but still bringing up genuine concerns she had. She has some wrong headed ideas that are going to hurt her romantic life, and which Evan felt the need to address. Even the most loving couple is going to have all sorts of doubts and difficulties. The problems she described are really pretty minor. That she so over exaggerates  their severity means she has an unrealistic view of what a happy relationship should look like.

  8. 8
    Marika

    That’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Please pass on our thanks and best wishes to your wife, Evan 🙂

    Thanks also Jeremy for always being so honest and open – it’s not easy to bare your soul, but the lessons are so useful.

  9. 9
    Sam

    I agree will most other people commenting. I don’t comment on your blog a lot, Evan, but I read/have read almost everything you write. Your blog and book, Why He Disappeared, has helped me get through more than one bad break up. At this point, I’ve been with my current boyfriend for almost two years and we even went ring shopping the other day! The way you describe your relationship with your wife is, in my opinion, wonderful and I’d hope my future husband would describe our relationship similarly. Based on what you write, it seems like she is truly your best friend. I think that’s the goal to strive for.

    P.S – your wife seems awesome, not just based on this, but also based on that chapter that she wrote in your book. She seems like a great catch! Lori Gottlieb sounds judgmental and, frankly, wrong about your wife.

  10. 10
    Noone45

    Lori has an odd idea of what average is, or she hasn’t been out of her posh area in a few years. Evan’s wife struck me as pretty. I’ve had my critiques, and I stand by them, but I’m not sure why the commenter brought that tidbit about Lori up. It wasn’t useful for anyone. People say stuff all the time. Most of it isn’t useful or insightful,   so why respond?

    Of course logic is a strong component of what keeps people together. Love isnt enough for anything. I dont think it exists in most romantic relationships outside of the haze of hormones. My observation in my old age is that most people want a comfortable situation rather than an actual relationship.   This is not a comment on the coupling of any one here, more a general observation on humans.

  11. 11
    Tron Swanson

    Does not being married correlate to “hasn’t figured out the important stuff”? Evan’s wife put those two things in the same sentence, and I seem to recall Evan implying something similar a week or so back. I’m honestly curious if that’s part of Evan’s overall philosophy. I’m obviously biased as a single person…but, even aside from that, it seems a little too “prosperity gospel” for me. Prosperity gospel: “If you’re successful, it’s because you deserve it, and if not, there’s something wrong with you.” And this argument seems to insinuate that, if you’re married, you know what you’re doing, and if you aren’t, you don’t. But I know a ton of single people who have it together, and a ton of married people who are complete disasters. Married people obviously have experience in a marriage, while us never-married folks don’t, but I don’t think married people should try to claim that marriage makes them somehow better or more knowledgeable than the rest of us. I hope this isn’t something he believes; I don’t think it’s the best metric for judging people.

    1. 11.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s an interesting reading, Tron. It’s a fine line to dance. You never want readers to feel “wrong” or attacked. At the same time, the reason people read is because SOMETHING isn’t working in their quest for unconditional love. Right?

      On a personal note, once I figured out the important stuff (character, kindness, consistency, commitment, communication are at least equally important as chemistry and common interests), my love life got a WHOLE lot better. And if you ask HAPPILY married people (not just married people) I do believe that they do know something about the nature of compromise and selflessness that would be largely impossible for single people to fully understand. That’s why I created Love U – as a means of walking women through this process without having to figure it out themselves.

      To your point – marriage doesn’t make someone “better” but if you want to get married, you may stand to learn from people who are happily married. Same as business success. Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean you’re happy or necessarily good at your job. But if you are looking to get rich, you’re probably wise to ask a rich person how he/she does it instead of turning to your minimum wage friends.

    2. 11.2
      Noone45

      It probably wasn’t meant toward marriage. If you read what the references author has written, it’s something. She’s not an awful human in totality, but if you locked her up in the woods for a month, you wouldn’t get Walden. I’m certainly not Evan’s wife, but I’m fairly sure she was alluding to some of the obvious issues Lori was displaying at that point.

    3. 11.3
      Marika

      I’m interested in understanding why someone would be confused/miffed/unimpressed when the author of a site posts a message completely consistent with his beliefs and the whole point of the site?

      Last year my boss and I spent many frustrating & stressful hours responding to a vexatious complaint. We had to respond by law, but the whole thing was ridiculous and got thrown out as the lady chose our Centre knowing our services and philosophy, then afterwards decided she didn’t like our services or philosophy.

      Tron, in the mgtow world you are a success. Evan wouldn’t be (and the likes of me would be an object of scorn). Isn’t that enough for you?

    4. 11.4
      Clare

      Another great example of Tron conflating two things which have nothing to do with each because of his own projections and/or insecurity.

      Because Evan promotes marriage = Evan & his wife must think that people who are not married are stupid or inferior.

      Tron, I think  you  doth protest too much. Happy, secure people don’t go around insisting that the rest of the world acknowledge how valid their life choice is. They just…. live and let live.

  12. 12
    Amy Marks

    Why would anyone think he wouldn’t be happy with his wife? Any guy would! She seems like a great catch. Also, she’s absolutely stunning!

  13. 13
    JNS

    Evan, I’ve read and enjoyed your blogs for years and this is my first time commenting.

    So I had to google and find a photo of your wife after reading this and I’m completely at a loss . . . she’s beautiful!   What the heck is all this foolishness about her looks?   She seems like the nicest, coolest person AND she’s lovely, clearly, inside and out.   Sorry Lori Gottlieb, I don’t get it. 🙂 . Best to you both.

  14. 15
    Adrian

    To be honest I have mixed feelings about this post.

    On the one hand I love when Evan’s wife shows her view of things but on the other hand I hate that this had to be the reason why we got to hear her speak again.

    This was very good and again Evan your wife is AWESOME!

     

  15. 16
    Michelle

    The hottest sex I’ve ever had is definitely not with my fiance. He’s borderline OCD and gets super dramatic over things I find insignificant, which annoys me. He is a very good looking and charming guy and could easily hit on/sleep with/date women that are younger, thinner and hotter than me. I’m sloppier and more disorganized than he would like. However, we’re choosing to get married because we have everything for making a great marriage. We are best friends, crack each other up constantly, communicate well, respect each other, have the same views on finances, religion and children, negotiate most things eventually (we’re still working on it) and just love to be together, whether it’s on vacation somewhere exciting or something mundane like running errands. From the start I never felt any jealousy or insecurity, in fact we had a LDR for a year and half, and it was never a problem. No matter how much chemistry we had or “love” feelings, if we didn’t have this list of attributes, logically we wouldn’t have the ingredients for a good marriage.

  16. 17
    Nissa

    Evan said: I believe it’s fair for you to want to know whether I’m some sort of bullshit artist or a guy who actually walks his own walk.

    I know it hurts when someone bulleye‘s us in our sensitive spot, but I can say that I – as a longtime reader – never thought this. Even in the times and places where I disagree with you, Evan, I never thought that your intentions were manipulative or deceitful. I believe that you do your best to be consistent, so that even if there were times that you were not, that it would certainly fall within the category of normal variance. Just putting my vote in on that one. *smile*. Similarly, I wouldn’t worry that telling your story of your wife puts her at risk of being considered someone you “settled” for because you used logic to pick someone for whom you had no chemistry. I think that people who are very emotional, as Evan is, worry about using that emotion to make decisions. Often those decisions, while being right for the emotional one, don’t work as expected because the other person doesn’t feel the same way or want the same thing. This can lead to a feeling that we can’t depend on our feelings (which we can). We just need to remember that our feelings only tell us what we want – not what others want or what choices they will make.

    I think V is conflating two ideas here: that Evan is not good husband material vs Evan would not be a good husband for her. Evan’s ideas about things may not match her, meaning he probably wouldn’t be a good match for V. But that doesn’t mean he’s not a good match for his actual wife. Having a husband who expresses his feelings honestly and has integrity is a good thing. That does not mean that he does not also have other qualities that might be less good. That just means he’s got stuff to work on, like every other person on the planet. Let’s not hold Evan to an impossible standard or a bar which we ourselves cannot clear.

    Where I do somewhat agree with V is about Jeremy. I often feel sad when I read his posts. It’s sad to me that a wife wouldn’t hear her husband’s “no” in regard to a fourth child. It’s upsetting to think that maybe she cares a little about what he wants…but not enough to honor his no. It’s sad that a wife would use sex as a bargaining tool to get her wants at the expense of her husband’s needs. Now, of course, I may be missing some things – it would be almost impossible for that to not be so – but I always get the sense that Jeremy is living a life where he consistently feels unwanted at a core level. And it’s certainly possible that this is something that his wife has tried to address, only to discover that it’s his emotional work and that she can’t achieve that for him, she can only support him in his process. But I would also be very surprised to find that there is no truth to the idea that Jeremy’s wife is a little tired of hearing about it, and has actually begun to do these things as part of a dynamic where what one feared, one causes to bring into being.

    I’ll give an example. I know someone who feels unwanted at a core level. She tries hard to be a good person, who anticipate the every need of others, and to give what she herself would like to receive. The problem with this is that it’s laced with both desperate need and entitlement. She feels that she deserves the time and attention of others, because 1) she needs it like air, like water; 2) she is trying so hard, and it’s very American to believe that if you try hard, you get what you want; 3) this does not allow for the free will of others, because she has “earned” your love..so now you owe her – on her terms; 4) it fails to take into account that what she wants and needs is not what others want and need – something to which she is completely blind. Is she is good person? Yes. Is she appealing? No. Does she repel others? Yes. Does she understand why? No. Her desperation is palpable. While this sometimes inspires pity, it is very unattractive. She creates this dynamic with every person she encounters. She will do this until she changes herself…which may not happen. But you can’t tell her it’s her. She could spend years telling you about all the ways she has been victimized and all she has done for others – which is true. But the problem isn’t that those things have happened. It’s that she has internalized it at a level of being, such that she recreates it everywhere she goes. Instead of recognizing when people don’t want to offer her anything, she offers them more and more, hoping to entice them into wanting her. She is unable to recognize boundaries, and even when she does, she is willing to violate herself in hopes of having that elusive desire that she needs to feel whole, that desire that she cannot create from within. In fact, she doesn’t want boundaries, because that makes her feel even more separate from those with whom she is trying to have connection. Telling her this is a sure way to incite rage, because it’s her only hope of getting what she needs at a core level. So it creates an environment where people don’t tell her the truth…they only abandon her, when they can’t take her anymore. It’s sad all around.

    My fear for Jeremy is that he is getting less than he deserves, because he is accepting less than that based on a dysfunctional dynamic. I would like more for him. I just don’t think that’s what’s happening.

    1. 17.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Don’t pity Jeremy. Like me, he is transparent about the inner workings of his relationship in a way most people are unaccustomed to. He is merely acknowledging the tradeoffs he makes to be married, just as I do. I think what everyone here wants is to think there ARE no tradeoffs in happy marriages – and you’re sad when people acknowledge this unfortunate reality.

      In order for there to be a cliche “happy wife, happy life,” a man has to bend over pretty far to accommodate his partner. And yet, what you’re hearing from Jeremy and me is that it’s all worth it – and it’s not even close as to whether I’d rather compromise for my wife and family or be single.

    2. 17.2
      Jeremy

      Nissa,  I don’t know of any happily married man anywhere (and I’ve spoken with many) who doesn’t struggle with similar struggles as I do.   I’ve never met one whose sexual relationship with his wife was what he’d hoped it’d be when they first married.   Never met one whose wife didn’t sometimes (or oftentimes) prioritize him less than the heaping 90% of her other marital priorities – whose wife didn’t think that her doing so was exactly what she was supposed to be doing.   Never met one who felt that his wife prioritized him the way she used to do when they were dating, didn’t feel frustrated at the change.   Never met one whose wife didn’t put her children first, WAY first, to the exclusion of most else.   The struggles that good husbands face with good wives are not the same struggles that good wives face with good husbands.     Because the way to be a good husband is to help your wife with the 90% of her marital priorities that don’t involve you.   And the way to be a good wife is to prioritize your husband more than the 10% you’re naturally inclined to do.   Not the same.   Inverse.   There’s a reason there’s an expression “happy wife, happy life,” but no expression “happy husband, happy life.”   And that reason isn’t just the lack of rhyming.

       

      Part of the reason I comment here is, like Evan, to try to give women an idea of how men who make good husbands tend to think.   Because in my experience, most women just don’t have a clue.   They tend to believe that men either think the way women do, or that men think the way women BELIEVE men do.   How on earth can a woman be a good wife to a man when she has no idea how he thinks?   And worse yet, when she erroneously believes she does…When she believes the key to a good marriage is to set up boundaries and self-validate.   That’s what WOMEN need to do.   Because that’s conducive to the 90% of their other needs.   It ain’t conducive to men’s needs in marriage….which most women don’t understand ’cause they believe men should also want what they do.   See the article I referenced above in my conversation with Mrs Happy.

       

      My hope is that if women understood men’s frustrations – that we have them, that they’re not the same as women’s (generally), and that they are  just as important, they will start paying attention to these things.   And then maybe more average marriages will become good, and more good marriages will become great….and maybe even some bad ones might become better.

      1. 17.2.1
        Kenley

        Jeremy,

        What you have written is another example of a situation that is genuinely confusing to   me and perhaps to other women reading your posts.    You state that the men are happily married, but then you go on to describe their   feelings of   emotional and sexual neglect.   So, what is making them happy in their marriages given the way their wives are treating them?    How do you and those men define happiness in marriage?

        1. Jeremy

          Hi Kenley.   I think there is a difference between what we might hope for in an ideal world versus what is realistic in this one.   A man might hope to remain his wife’s top priority, to have a passionate and intense sex-life.   But this is not realistic when you have kids.   Ask anyone with kids – they simply require too much emotional bandwidth.   If you want a family life, you’re going to have to sacrifice some of the things you had in the girlfriend/fiancee/honeymoon stage.   And you’ll be ok with that sacrifice because you want the larger picture more than any one of the details.   You still have a wife whom you love, children you love.   A home you look forward to coming home to.   Family, friends, the life you envisioned.   Companionship, friendship, love.

           

          The question isn’t whether men are willing to make the sacrifice for family life, it’s how much of that sacrifice do they ACTUALLY need to make?   How far down the totem pole of priorities do they really need to go, how drastic of a change in their sex life really needs to happen?   What is NORMAL?   I think that “normal” need not look the way many women think it should, hence all my commentary here.   But it also can’t and won’t look the way men idealize.

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          A man might hope to remain his wife’s top priority, to have a passionate and intense sex-life.   But this is not realistic when you have kids.   Ask anyone with kids — they simply require too much emotional bandwidth.

          But aren’t both the man and the women losing emotional bandwith with kids that would otherwise go toward each other? Why is it that only the man is experiencing the loss of being prioritized by his wife? Is not the man also not prioritizing the wife the way he did before the kids arrived? What I’m suspecting is that women still do the majority of the child rearing even if they also work, and thus they are just drained.

      2. 17.2.2
        Mrs Happy

        Why do you think men want so much to be prioritised?   Why do they want or need to have more of their wife’s attention and care and physical self?

        Because presumably the amount of time a man has together with his wife, is exactly the same amount of time a woman has together with her husband.   Why are all the married women approximately content with that amount of time, and all the married men want more?

        I can predict the love-language level answer, I’m asking for something deeper.

        1. Jeremy

          Because at the heart of being male is a profound and enduring loneliness.   A loneliness chained to us by 2 factors that tie us into a double-bind.   A loneliness that most of us can only escape with the help of a female partner.

           

          I know as well as anyone how loneliness is a scourge, particularly for men.   How men should reach out and create a network of friends the way women do.   And yet, with all my knowledge and insight, I find it almost impossible to do so.   One day I picked up my phone, determined to call my best friend – my friend whom I normally only see when my wife arranges for our families to get together.   I was determined to reach out and assume some responsibility for my social life.   I picked up my phone and stared at it, and it was as if a giant mental block of heavy reluctance was in my way.   It wasn’t just effortful to make the call, it somehow required that I overcome something very basic in my nature.   It took me a while to realize what it was – it was about power.   I know you hate talking about this, Mrs Happy, but it’s important, especially for men.   My reaching out to make the call required me to, in a fundamental way, put myself at one-down in a power hierarchy.   Required me to make myself vulnerable.   Was, in a way, like asking me to stand with arms and legs akimbo waiting for a kick to the crotch.   Regardless of the knowledge that the kick would likely never come, that my friend would likely be happy to hear from me, requiring myself to put myself at a power disadvantage was something so distressing to my evolved brain pathways that I could hardly force myself to do it.

           

          I overcame that negativity that day, and I did make the call.   It was effortful, and I realized when I did it that I likely wouldn’t do it again for some time.   But once I dialed and heard his “hello” I figured the hard part was over.   That now we’d have a conversation, connect, and I’d experience what my wife and female friends do with their friends.   Wrong…As he and I talked on the phone, the conversation was awkward, nothing at all like it is when we get together and talk.   We both admitted that it felt weird to be talking on the phone, both asked ourselves why we were doing it.   Didn’t feel connective, didn’t feel good, didn’t release oxytocin to make us feel happy and motivate us to do it again…..So we hardly ever do.   Instead, we talk when our families get together, when our wives arrange it.

           

          A double-bind.   Twin chains – the effort required to put ourselves one-down in a power hierarchy, the lack of a tend-and-befriend oxytocin release.   Lack of motivation, presence of de-motivation.   It would take either a very extroverted man or a very iron-willed man to overcome these.   For as much as we like to talk about men’s advantages in society, women’s evolved preference for equality in power hierarchies (as opposed to superiority) and women’s tend-and-befriend stress response puts women at a tremendous advantage over men in today’s society.   In their ability to deal with stress, to be happy in society, to be alone, and to be with others.

           

          Men seek out women for sex, but we stay with them because they are nurturer-connectors.   They connect us to themselves and to others.   We feel good with them, our loneliness disappears.   And as much as it would be best if we men could do this on our own, most of us will not.

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          And as much as it would be best if we men could do this on our own, most of us will not.

          But women have to do it, too. Do you have any idea how hard it is to start in a new city and completely recreate your life? I’ve had to do it. That’s what Adrian is doing. Putting himself out there. Trying to build a life. Trying to make new friends. You have to want it. It takes perseverance and, frankly, courage. It’s not reasonable to expect a partner to be your only emotional support, whether a woman expects this or a man does. Your primary support, yes,   but not your only. Its too much to expect.

        3. Jeremy

          Hi Emily, I understand your point and agree.   But I’m saying something a bit different.   Of course both men and women will be lonely if friendless.   Of course it can be difficult for either gender to make new friends.   What I’m saying is that most men (IME) are still lonely even when we do have friends.   Because the way we make friends doesn’t satisfy our need for connection.   IME many women form deep emotional bonds with their friends, they aren’t just people to do things with.   Most men don’t form those types of friendships.   Even those of us who realize we should….can’t seem to.   Something gets in the way, something I suspect is biological.   We rely on women to connect us.   Our relationship with our female partner is quite unlike our relationships with others.   Whereas many women have told me that the only difference between their friends and their partner was sexual attraction and lifestyle compatibility.

        4. Marika

          Hmm, I’m not sure. I’m starting to wonder if this friends and loneliness issue is more to do with personality, socio-economic features and/or culture than gender?

          The wider cultural mix on here – Mrs Happy, Clare and Malika (if she’s still around?) may have some thoughts on this too?

          Jeremy, IME, the men in my life have very close friendships. My brother, my male cousins, my ex-husband and the other guys I’ve dated seriously all have a solid friendship group, and had even retained their friends from high school – personally I only speak occasionally to one friend from high school.

          My father had a lot more friends than my mother. Why? Personality and also he would go to golf, tennis and work functions when we were little, while Mum was looking after us. Of course not all of them were close friends, but he had a wide group of social support. It’s not unusual for a man to have more social freedom than a woman when they have children, especially young children (unless there’s a nanny around or they have lots of spending money).

          I’ve been privvy to some catch ups with exes where for various reasons I was the only woman around. Yes, men don’t talk in the same way women do – there’s less ‘talk about our feelings’ and a lot more joking, competition and making fun of each other. But both ways provide bonding and support. I’ve seen at least three groups of close male friends where it’s very clear, even to an outsider, how much they care for and respect each other. And they would drop everything to help each other. There is an ease, an openness there which I found really lovely.

          Female friendships can be great – are great – but also tricky in a way I don’t really observe with men. Female friendships can be far more delicate and less unconditional. IME.

          Maybe it’s the pub culture. Maybe it’s all the sport? 🙂 But I’m just not sure about this biology stuff. I can imagine even back in caveman times a group of guys would go out hunting and grunt together, bonding over their frustrations with the cavewomen. Hehe.

          So in closing, Jeremy, get to a pub, put on some ice hockey and before you know it you’ll have a bunch of new besties for life! Jokes, obviously I have no actual advice here, I just think that men can and do form very close friendships. They just look different to female ones.

        5. Jeremy

          I know men who have close friendships, Marika, friends they look at as brothers or closer. How often do they speak?   IME not that often.   YMMV.   Personality definitely plays a role, agreed.   And perhaps those men who are able to have closer and more varied relationships rely less on their wives for connection and are more interested in marriage as a “life partnership”?   Not sure.

        6. Marika

          Yes, MMDV Jeremy 🙂

          So I don’t think it’s biology.

          Come to think of it, though, the guys I know who (very regularly) catch up will often do outdoorsy things. So climate may play a role too.

          If I was your wife I’d be delighted if you had say a standing monthly catch up with the guys. You’re far from a slacker at home, and men can provide additional support and different kinds of support to other men than women do. It’s also (weirdly) kinda sexy in a way, it remind you that your husband is not just a husband and father, but a  man.

        7. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy, thank you for being so generous as to share your personal experiences and feelings with us.   It is valuable to help us understand how some men are.

          Marika, I agree that personality and setting have a lot to do with social behaviour.   Not all men are lonely just because they’re male.

          I also think male socialising changes through the lifespan.   Little boys all run around playing together on the playground or in parks.   Teenage boys hang out, do competing or sporting things, game online; it’s all social, in different ways.   Men in their 20’s have quite a number of male and female friends.

          The big changes to a man’s social effort and reality occur with marriage, divorce, or a spouse’s death.

          I wonder whether with marriage, a lot of the deterioration in socialising comes about because of specialisation? Especially after kids, men work more in paid work, and then their after-work time is packed with family activities.   Their wives start to do more and more of the social heavy lifting for the entire family, usually concentrating on all-family events and kids playdates/activities.   A wife will organise a meal or outing with other families, but she won’t organise a playdate catch-up for her adult husband to see his adult friends, and since he hasn’t much spare time/energy to do so, before he knows it, it has been 5 years since he called his best friend and organised a drink together.   Then when he tries to call, it’s awkward, because he is out of practise, because his wife has taken over that specialised job since they married a decade ago.

          But he has a best friend, so at some stage, he must have been able to initiate or maintain his own life’s social organising; probably before marrying.

          Emily to and Marika, I can appreciate what you’re stating, about it being suboptimal the wife has to do yet another thing, i.e. sort out his social calendar, and be everything emotionally (or 70% of it) to him.   I think sorting his personal social calendar gets shelved – she doesn’t do it, and that’s why his friendships slide.   I think him wanting 70% is why so many women are completely emotionally exhausted and spent.   I spoke with a woman this week who has just separated, and she was so relieved that she no longer had to do the work of physically (sexually) and emotionally caring for her husband; she described it as a huge burden lifted off her shoulders, and the best thing about the separation (which she initiated).   Men here often quote that it’s the women who initiate most divorces – maybe this is a big part of why?

          Specialisation in marriage is very real and leads to deskilling very fast.   This morning at the breakfast table, my husband said, “honey, just slowly move to your right towards the piano, and don’t turn around”.   It took me about 1.5 seconds to realise what must be behind me, I looked around (of course, who couldn’t) and saw a spider bigger than my hand just near my shoulder, leapt squealing across the table, sprained or fractured my thumb in the process, time will tell, and screamed at him to catch it fast and not release it anywhere near the house, car, pool, garage (though I think there is a snake in the garage, maybe the snake would eat it?).   The poor spider was scuffling away, frightened of my yelling. If my husband weren’t here, I would have to get the spider (though I’d kill it, he is more spider-friendly, and caught and released).   But I have very happily de-skilled myself from that act.

        8. Emily, to

          Hi Jeremy,

          What I’m saying is that most men (IME) are still lonely even when we do have friends.   Because the way we make friends doesn’t satisfy our need for connection.   IME many women form deep emotional bonds with their friends, they aren’t just people to do things with.   Most men don’t form those types of friendships.  

          I understand what you are saying but please keep in mind it’s difficult even for women to find real friends. I’m like you in that respect. I don’t have interest in shallow.

             Whereas many women have told me that the only difference between their friends and their partner was sexual attraction and lifestyle compatibility.

          I’ve heard many women say it’s the sexual attraction. Otherwise, there’s no difference.   I’ve   felt closer to friends than romantic partners once the sex haze wore off, and some of the friends were straight men.

        9. Jeremy

          Hey  Evan.   I don’t often ask you direct questions in the comments, but with your indulgence I’ll make an exception this once.   Unlike me, you tend toward extroversion.   You have buddies from your youth with whom you maintain friendships.   Yet you report that you still sometimes feel a little lonely.   Why not call your friends more often?   I understand that you’re all busy and can’t get together like you used to, you have family and work commitments, but that doesn’t stop busy women from connecting nightly by phone, text, or social media with their friends.   So why do you think you don’t do this more?   Why be “a little lonely?”   I know my reasons, but as Marika correctly pointed out, they likely don’t span the personality spectrum.

        10. Evan Marc Katz

          Great question. Glad to answer.

          My 25th college reunion is coming up in April. I’m very big on my alma mater and nostalgia in general. So I texted my five best friends from college (who I haven’t seen together since the last one of us got married). I asked, “Who’s going to the reunion?” One guy said “Hell, no.” One guy said he has a room but probably won’t make it because he’s too busy. Other 2 guys didn’t reply at all.

          I know it’s not personal. But it also pissed me off. An excuse to get together and you can’t be bothered to reply to a TEXT?

          Then I realized that a lot of my pain (like my clients’ pain around men) is caused by having false expectations of how things SHOULD be. In my perfect world, my friends value our friendship and want to make an effort regularly to talk and get together with our families. In practice, though, it’s out of sight, out of mind. My friends will see me if I show up in their city, but other than that, they’re just not interested. And I’m done putting myself out there, only to get frustrated at reality.

          That doesn’t mean I’m giving up on friendships, it does, however, mean, I’m giving up on THOSE friendships. I’m accepting reality instead of fighting it.

          On the homefront, both my wife and I are super extroverted and we have a very active social life. However, as you know, the nature of friendships in your mid-late 40’s is different than it was in your 20’s. Everyone is too busy – at least the guys I know who support their families – to be “best friends.”

          So I settle for having “good friends” – longterm connections with similar family-oriented married men who have big personalities and senses of humor – who also have the rare combination of being introspective and sensitive (which is how I connect) I may only see these guys (and/or their wives) 3-4X a year, but it fulfills my need for human connection outside my wife and kids. And while I can’t sit back and wait for guy friends to call me – for the most part – everyone seems to be happy and responsive when I initiate contact to make plans.

          I know that’s more about me, and less about your question, but it was good to think this out loud.

          As to the your actual question:
          -men I know are more likely to be supporting their families and their jobs require more attention than their wives
          -men, in general, either need less connection or have been socialized to think they need less connection
          -men, in general, seem more content with job/wife/kids than perhaps women are
          -men are probably more embarrassed about reaching out – especially when it’s purely for social reasons. You run the risk of rejection, much like dating and most guys (unlike me) just keep to themselves instead of putting themselves out. It’s organic for my wife to have 50 moms from school on speed dial to text about soccer practice or drama club or PTA events – and to then make plans for play dates or couples things. For a guy to do that with another guy he likes but never sees requires the same confidence it takes to ask out a woman. And a lot of guys just don’t have it.

          Interesting question.

        11. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, you wrote, “she was so relieved that she no longer had to do the work of physically (sexually) and emotionally caring for her husband; she described it as a huge burden lifted off her shoulders, and the best thing about the separation (which she initiated).    Men here often quote that it’s the women who initiate most divorces — maybe this is a big part of why?”

           

          No doubt that’s a big part of why.   Quick question about your friend:   Has she, perchance, finished having all the kids she wanted?   Raised them, with her husband’s help, to at least grade school?   Had the financial support from her husband to choose to work less than full-time while doing so?   Had the social life and status of having been married and subsequently having been a mother?   In other words, did she already irreversibly obtain all her front-loaded reasons for marrying?   And if the answer to all these questions is yes, did she start resenting doing more for her husband before, or after, all the answers became yes?

           

          No one wants to do things they don’t want to do.   Especially when they think they’re giving more than they’re getting.   Question is, are they really not getting, or did they just stop valuing what they’re getting?   Because they already got what they wanted and no longer want it?

        12. Jeremy

          Thanks for your answer, Evan.   I think we’re not all that different in this regard, irrespective of personality.   Your comparison of friendship to dating, to “putting yourself out there for rejection” was what I was getting at with my comments about power.   It’s tough to put one’s self at one-down.   This isn’t necessarily a male-thing…but I think men are more sensitive to it.   I agree with your points at the end too.

           

          I think that socialization and specialization (as per Mrs Happy’s comment) likely do play a large role in this.   But if that was all it was, I’d expect men to better adapt when they find themselves single.   Mrs Happy might be glad to offload the spider-trapping to her hubby, but if she lived alone she’d learn to do it.   Yet men after divorce….often don’t.   Not just because they’re out of practice, but because – as you say – they believe that seeing their friends occasionally “should” fulfill their basic necessity for human connection – and it doesn’t.   There is a blockage in the way for them/us.   Loneliness in and of itself does not motivate us to find friendship the way it motivates us to find women.   The way it motivates women to build social networks.

        13. Mrs Happy

          As to why women might have more friends, if not good friends, just people to catch up with socially, part of it is (like dating) just a numbers game.   When some of Evan’s old college friends flake and won’t answer texts, he is left with just a handful of family-based men to try to connect with, just because men in general don’t strive for male-only friendships during their 40’s, or bother to allocate time to such.

          I went out to dinner recently with a group of 3 other women, and one woman, who had chosen and booked the restaurant (and it was a drive away for all of us, which I really didn’t want to do on a tired Friday night after a long week, in heavy city traffic) then just didn’t show up!   I got to the table to find, without a text or anything, she’d told another woman there she wasn’t coming.   So now in my little balance of scales in my head there’s a bit of a negative, and if she does it again (i.e. a no-show) I’ll just stop inviting her out…. but I’ll have quite a number of other women to invite instead.   Not because I’m anything special socially, in fact I strongly suggest Evan is a lot more fun than I am socially, but because women really want to go out with groups of other women for dinner. I’ve just many more numbers to choose from.   So I’m less likely to become socially lonely.

        14. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          No one wants to do things they don’t want to do.   Especially when they think they’re giving more than they’re getting.  

          I don’t think that’s it at all, though Mrs. Happy would know more. This woman was tired of the burden of having to emotionally/sexually prop up the husband. There are many women who divorce and never want to remarry and maybe just want to date/have sex casually but want their freedom to do what they want. There are of course many who do want to remarry. But that’s not as true of men (though there are exceptions), who often dive back in to another relationship very quickly. Is that why you’re always writing about power and marriage? He who needs the least has the power, as ugly as that sounds. (No snark intended.)

        15. Mrs Happy

          “This woman was tired of the burden of having to emotionally/sexually prop up the husband.” Wrote Emily to, and she is right.   Women imbibe the message from early years that they should manage others’ emotions, and they do it for decades, and then some get sick of doing it, and stop.

          Things changed in the marriage I referred to earlier, and to give just one small physical example without divulging too many details, sex the way her husband now wanted, became painful for her.   When this woman’s (now ex) husband hassled her to have sex multiple times a day, she would sometimes do so, even though all she got out of it was physical pain, and great emotional distress he was doing this to her.   If she said no to sex, his uncontained emotional outbursts would make the home uncomfortable.   She had a burden upon her; she thought it was her job to make him not be angry and snarly when sex was refused.   (I’d heartily disagree and say it was his job to manage his own emotions, but I won’t go into that side highway.)   It was an enormous emotional burden.   After a few years she got sick of it, the emotional work more than the uncomfortable sex, and left him.

          Jeremy, to answer your postulations, they both work full time, she’d have liked more kids and probably with a nicer man wouldn’t have finished her family yet, and no doubt some of her initial “front-loaded” reasons for marrying had been met, but they had quickly palled.   I think most people, men and women, marry for certain reasons, and then life changes so much, they later want out of the marriage.

          All the regulars here know my horrified views on breaking up a family when there are young children involved, and in this case my usual stance conflicts greatly with the knowledge that this woman was being heavily coerced into unwanted sex on a regular basis, which I find absolutely disgusting, because of her husband’s selfishness.

          Friends say to me many women are regularly coerced, even if only lightly, into unwanted marital sex because of financial realities (i.e. if hubby leaves, she and the kids will be worse off).   Just this weekend, chatting and drinking late into one night, I had a room of 4 close working professional female friends explain that none of them could continue in their current comfortable lifestyle without their husband’s income, and this was one of the reasons they stayed in their marriages (all but 1 of which marriages are not great).   If my husband and his entire income and half our assets left tomorrow, my immediate financial standard of lifestyle wouldn’t change, I would just have fewer assets to manage, so I sometimes forget this reality that exists for most, almost all, all over the world, married women.   Jeremy likes to think about power; this surely is the power differential, the huge imbalance, many women feel.

        16. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,

          Just this weekend, chatting and drinking late into one night, I had a room of 4 close working professional female friends explain that none of them could continue in their current comfortable lifestyle without their husband’s income, and this was one of the reasons they stayed in their marriages.   …   Jeremy likes to think about power; this surely is the power differential, the huge imbalance, many women feel.

          I’ve heard some women say this, too. They’d leave if they could afford to support themselves and not have it mean a drastic change in lifestyle. Even if we were to argue that women have the power in terms of what they provide (some may say dole out) emotionally/sexually, men often have the financial power. I feel powerless having to depend on an employer for money, but what else can I do? Its the golden rule: He who has the gold makes the rule.

        17. Marika

          Hi Jeremy

          It was never my intention here to argue with you, or disagree just for the sake of disagreeing. I just would like it if you weren’t lonely. And if you think it’s biological, then it’s all hopeless. I don’t think it can be biological, personally, given I’m aware of several groups of men with very close male friendships. So all is not lost.

          Phone calls maybe aren’t a good way to build rapport amongst men, but there are ways. Meeting with groups of guys to do a joint activity or watch something together which is interactive (eg sport), or fish, have drinks at an industry catch up, or….etc.. depending what you’re into.

          There’s nothing wrong with your wife being the social coordinator in your family if she enjoys that and it’s more her thing, but you can also play a role, if you like, in creating / maintaining friendships. There are some families where the last thing that’s needed is for the Dad to spend more time away from home, but I don’t get the sense that is the case with you.

        18. Jeremy

          Emily wrote, “hey’d leave if they could afford to support themselves and not have it mean a drastic change in lifestyle….He who has the gold makes the rules.”   Emily, did you by any chance read my description from a few weeks ago of what divorce would have looked like for me?   Just because a man earns the lion’s share of the income does not mean he holds any financial power – his income is not his.   In fact, in the event of divorce, the only person who will be coerced in any way will be him.

           

          Mrs Happy wrote that women are raised to believe that emotional caretaking is their job, and they often get tired of doing so over time, and then stop.   In the same way, men are raised to believe that financial caretaking is their job and they often get tired of doing so.   Except….they can’t stop.   If they did, they’d just get court-ordered to keep doing it.   Women’s ability to stop doing what they’re tired of is a privilege they don’t often acknowledge.   Men share no such privilege.

           

          The notion that women are “coerced” into sex because they’d lose their lifestyle if divorced – absolutely reeks of entitlement.   They are not entitled to that income, their husbands agreed to share it with them in the context of marriage.   If she wants to change the rules mid-game, she can’t expect him to continue wanting to play.   And yet, in spite of this, women will be more likely to leave, to accept the reduction in lifestyle.   Because, as I’ve written before, they either got a big chunk of what they wanted already or they realize they won’t get it from him.

           

          I can’t speak to the situation with your friend, Mrs Happy, as I obviously lack the necessary details.   It sounds, from your description, like this man has a lot of problems.   Desiring sex that you know is painful, undesired, that your partner gets nothing out of….I have no understanding of this.   My point was never to say that in divorce cases men are never at fault.   It was to point out that women don’t often see their own fault.   They are quick IME to acknowledge that they lacked boundaries or chose poorly, but never to admit that they were assholes in any way.

        19. Emily, to

          Jeremy,  

          In fact, in the event of divorce, the only person who will be coerced in any way will be him.

          But your situation isn’t every situation. I have a male friend whose wife initiated his divorce. She worked but he made about twice more. The state I lived in no longer awarded alimony and they shared custody so there was no child support. He had to pay part of the equity in the house, part of his pension and part of his 401K to her. Yes, he took a hit, but the amount was only enough for her to live very modestly for about a 1 – 1 1/2 years in the event she didn’t work. That’s it. She did not make out like a fiend in the divorce. And her current lifestyle is a lot less posh than when she was married to him. Meanwhile, he continues to earn twice what she does.

        20. Jeremy

          Did she out-earn him once upon a time, Emily?   Or did he always make more – and was that part of the reason she married him?   Did her income go down because he asked her to step back from the workforce to care for children, or did she step back because that’s what she wanted to do, had always dreamed of doing?   In the first case, she made a sacrifice for which she should be compensated.   In the second, HE made a sacrifice by supporting her all those years – why do we not think he should be compensated?   Or did she not step back at all, but simply earned less than him, in which case no one made any sacrifice?

           

          I get genuinely confused when people imply that a divorced person is now at a power disadvantage because she earns less than her ex.   That’s not a disadvantage, it was the ADVANTAGE she had by being married to that person.   The advantage she knew she’d give up when she filed for divorce.   It doesn’t put one at a power disadvantage to have to live off one’s own means; it puts one at a power disadvantage to be forced to fork over one’s earned means to someone else in exchange for nothing.   IMHO.

        21. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy, sans salutation,

          if a man divorces and then wants to earn less, so works fewer hours or in a lower-hourly-rate paying job, surely his child support payments decrease?   How will men “get court-ordered to keep” earning?   You cannot make someone earn a certain amount.   People lose jobs, get sick, age, change career direction, and earn less.   Income peaks at age 42-44 for men then gradually declines, as a general statistical pattern; there are obviously outliers.   I really don’t understand how a court can order someone continue to earn a certain amount.

          “The notion that women are “coerced” into sex because they’d lose their lifestyle if divorced — absolutely reeks of entitlement.”

          I view this as a straight quid pro quo rather than entitlement.   Take an average woman with kids – statistically she earns less than her husband, does fewer hours in paid work, is paid less per hour, and does more hours of childcare and housework (both unpaid) than he.   She will concentrate less on her career, and be more likely to make sacrifices to improve his career and income, than vice versa.   She wants access to his income for herself and her children, and to reduce things to their very base, knows one way to keep this income is by having (remember, average long-term married woman here coupled to average man) more sex than she wants.   It’s not entitlement, it’s a common transaction.   Happening every week on every street in your suburb.   I’m not saying it’s always conscious.

          I don’t think women view not wanting as much sex as they did during relationship year number 1 as a fault, I agree with you there.   I don’t see it as a fault myself,   I just see it as routine actually.   So routine it’s naive to expect otherwise; all excitement and effort dies down, across all domains.

          I agree with you that after divorcing, competent adults should support themselves, but there are so many factors, including the care of minor children versus the hours full-time work requires, which complicate matters.   I would be furious if my husband walked out of our marriage and then expected me to give him money (especially since I’d be doing the bulk of the child-related work) – I’d think, why can’t he just go work?

          The impression I get is that in Western countries judgements are now leaning more towards adults supporting themselves after divorce, the parent who does the bulk of the childcare also having to usually, almost always really, do paid work too.   Your hypothetical divorce script of a few months ago would still see you better off financially than your wife within a decade, as you well know with your statistical background, given most men are, and you out-earn most men in your country.

        22. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          Did she out-earn him once upon a time, Emily? … In the first case, she made a sacrifice for which she should be compensated.

          Do you know that my majors for both my undergraduate and graduate degrees are notoriously underpaid in terms of employment? And that I never gave any thought to what I could earn with either when deciding what interested me? Seems ridiculous, right? And boy am I feeling the consequence of those decisions right now, years later. My point is … every decision you make has consequences. There’s no way around the consequences unless you steer completely clear of the decision and make a different one. I think you know what I’m saying.

          Also, I’m assuming from your repeated posts   that you don’t like the divorce laws in your country. Why not start with your lawmakers to mount a campaign for change? I’m completely serious. If it were me, I’d start with that hot-ass Prime Minister of yours, but my motivation would be different.   🙂

        23. Jeremy

          It’s a tough thing, Emily and Mrs Happy.   My feelings on the subject are (obviously) very strong and very mixed.   On the one hand, if I were to ever find myself divorced (and I sincerely hope to never find myself so), without any laws or coercion I’d likely gift more to my wife (and obviously my kids) than the law required.   Because I’d want stability for my kids and I appreciate the sacrifices (and yes, they were sacrifices) that my wife made for me and for them.   Regardless of my own sacrifices and lack of compensation (or even acknowledgement).   On the other hand, the legal coercion bothers me, especially in light of the fact that it happens regardless of fault.   If my wife ended up divorcing me because she decided to have sex with a football team, I’d likely feel less charitable; the government would not. And my “hot-ass prime minister” has absolutely no impetus for changing the laws.

           

          Mrs Happy, I agree with your quid pro quo.   I agree that most women don’t see wanting less sex as fault, in spite of not wanting less income.   That’s the point of the posts I repeat so often here.   I don’t know ANY women who believe they only prioritize their husbands 10%, who believe they aren’t constantly doing things for their husbands.   But these women don’t think about what their husbands actually  want,  what they actually  value.   I remember a discussion with commenter KK whose ex-husband cheated on her.   She wrote that until her discovery of his cheating, she’d have “taken a bullet for him.”   But that she was also never really all that attracted to him, only married him because of his over-the-top courting efforts.   Was her willingness to take a bullet for him what he wanted, what he valued, or what she did?   How many men, when dreaming about their ideal woman, think about her willingness to take a bullet?

           

          In the end, to have successful marriages we need to learn to value what our spouses value.   Not just what we do.   If we did, if both partners did, I think we’d see a lot less divorce, a lot less unhappiness.   And women would acknowledge that yes, a reduction in sexual desire is, indeed, fault.

        24. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          But that she was also never really all that attracted to him, only married him because of his over-the-top courting efforts.    

          We’ve been told here (and I begrudgingly agree) that it’s not effective for women to go after men. So all woman can do is pick from the men who come after us. And it makes a heck of a lot more sense, particularly if kids and marriage are involved, to pick the guy who’s really enthusiastic rather than the one we have to convince to keep hanging around.

          Of course, you can flip this around and say that all men can do is pick from the women who say yes. Very true, but you’re always writing it’s the woman who’s not all that attracted to her husband.   There are plenty of men who’ve married women they’re weren’t ga ga into but who they knew would make good wives and mothers. Decisions. Consequences.

        25. Jeremy

          Emily, it’s funny how little most young people think about income potential when choosing their career.   Funny, in fact, how little most people think properly about anything.

           

          A while ago my parents’ car broke down for the 10th time.   Each time it happened in the past they’d take it to the mechanic, pay hundreds of dollars for a repair, only to have it conk-out a few weeks later.   They finally decided it was time for a new car, and my mother phoned me after a day at the dealership.

          We like [car x], she said, because it feels like our old car and doesn’t have all the new-fangled thingys that all the other cars had.   What do you think, Jeremy?

           

          I struggled, as I always do when talking to my parents, and framed my reply carefully.   “You know, mom,” I said, “when I was shopping for a car I came across a really neat survey.   It asked me to rank different things in terms of importance to me, when it comes to cars.   Would you like to hear it?”

          Sure,” she replied.

          Ok,” I continued, “rank the following in terms of importance:   Safety, Reliability, Fuel Consumption, Resale value, Styling and Design.”

          Hmm,” she thought about it, “Well safety is #1 obviously, then reliability, then fuel consumption.   Resale value and styling/design don’t really matter much to us.

          But mom,” I replied, sweating and practically hopping up and down, “You do realize that you were about to choose a car entirely based on styling and design, right?   How it feels like your old car and lacks the new-fangled thingys?   If safety is #1 did you think to ask how it ranks, safety-wise?

           

          Well,” she replied, “we tapped on the metal and it seemed solid.

           

          Uh-huh,” I replied, palm on forehead, “and what about fuel consumption?

           

          Oh, the dealer said it had great gas mileage,” she said.   “But I see your point.   Can you tell us which car is the safest, has best reliability and fuel consumption and would be best for us?

           

          I can try,” I replied.   So I researched the rankings for the various sedans, put together a short-list of the best-rated ones crossed with those with the styling they’d like best, and presented a list of 3 to my mom.

           

          The next day they took their old car back to the mechanic and paid for an 11th repair.

        26. Mrs Happy

          This morning I was scared I’d have been flamed overnight again for bringing up the above topic.   I can feel Marika rolling her eyes from the eastern suburbs.   Instead it was so good to find people discussing the topics without abusing me (or one another); as I walked to the bakery at sunrise it made me happy to feel part of this thoughtful little group.

          I’ve been pondering the ideas about wants, and how much they shift over time in a relationship.   As Emily to noted, hardly anyone thinks about future earnings when choosing study courses and career paths (maybe men do more than women).   Hardly anyone thinks comprehensively about their future.   It’s too hard; easier to go back to the familiar mechanic.

          There were some comments a month or so ago about women being a helpmate to their husbands, with men writing, “of course, hey, that’s a big reason I married, so my wife could make my life easier”, and women outside religious cults writing, “hang on, my main role isn’t to help him, I’m a person in my own right, not just an appendage designed to do all the grunt work so he doesn’t have to”.   At the time that exchange made me think how different Evan’s mindset might be from that of his client base’s, who he says are smart successful women – because such women don’t sit around working out how best to assist their husbands, they’re too busy with the rest of their successful lives.

          And today all this makes me think, wow, how would it be if the average person stated what would really happen 15 years into an average marriage?

          Men: “I’m basically mainly marrying you because I love you and want frequent easier access to sex until I die, and because I want you to be my helpmate, support my career to the detriment of your career and social life, and do most of the raising of the kids, and almost all the housework, for the next 4 decades.   I’ll want constant sexual stimulation from other women via flirting, pornography, and maybe affairs.   Within 5y I won’t be able to socialise normally without your help so you’ll need to organise that side of my life.   Plus men don’t bond with each other and I won’t keep up any female friendships so it’ll just be you bearing my entire emotional load.   Cheers.”

          Women:   “Well I love you;   within 5 years I’ll quit or downgrade my income massively, and then I’ll expect you to support me financially for the rest of time.   After a year or the first baby, my libido will plummet like nothing we can imagine right now, and in 15 y I’ll possibly be talking at girls’ nights out about how irritating you are.   I’ll get more and more entitled, believing I’m carrying the lion’s share of the overall workload, and making the most sacrifices, and baby are you going to hear frequent attitude about that.   Plus I’ll never look really hot again after 5 years and some pregnancy weight gain and no time to get to the gym, and we won’t even venture into the gynaecological complications of childbirth.”

          We all just go into this marriage caper almost completely blind really.

        27. Evan Marc Katz

          Not if you take Love U.

        28. Lynx

          @Mrs Happy:  And today all this makes me think, wow, how would it be if the average person stated what would really happen 15 years into an average marriage?

          Do you ever wonder if we’re all just being way too critical of our partners when really, the truth is, we’re disappointed in ourselves?

          When we were young and first married, we stood at the threshold of all possibility, with visions of our own successes-to-be. But life inevitably proves less than you’d hoped for in one or more domains: self, family, career, home, society, etc. Especially for those of us with high expectations, we’re bound to fall short.

          And maybe, 15 years down the road, it’s more ego-salving to blame the face across the dinner table than it is to blame the face in the mirror.

        29. Jeremy

          LOL Mrs Happy. That is, indeed, what tends to happen when people don’t think much about the future and when they enter into marriages thinking only about their own wants or their present attitudes. But it need not be that way. My attitude about marriage – 15 years ago and now – follows a different script:

          I will love you and cherish you, now and in the future. I will make your priorities my own, even when I don’t understand them, even when I don’t fully agree. I will put your wants and needs first, as often as I can. I will be responsible to your happiness and be sure I’m doing everything I possibly can to facilitate your happiness. I will express my love to you in the ways that are meaningful to me, and to you, and will take the time to learn each. This will be so whether I’ve had a good day or bad, whether I’m tired or energetic. Whether you’ve pissed me off that day and whether I’m feeling put-upon. I will make the effort. And yes, I will be sad and frustrated if you don’t feel the same way, don’t make an effort to do the same.

          That is the attitude of a good spouse IMHO. The attitude people should look for, should cultivate in themselves. The attitude that matters so much more than whether one is alpha or has boundaries or has status or makes one feel tingles.
          Hardly anyone enters into marriage with Gala’s overt idea: “I’ll have my kids and then he can go back to whatever planet he’s from.” Or the male equivalent – “I’ll stay with her as long as she’s hot, and then upgrade to the younger model later on ” Yet these ideas too often crops up covertly in our subconscious. The “I have a responsibility to my partner’s happiness” becomes “You know, you can’t make someone else happy.” The “I will make your priorities my own” becomes “The priorities you should have should be mine.” The “I will do these things whether or not I’m tired” becomes “I’m tired.” Our responsibility is to renew our motivations. This is not impossible, but neither is it easy.

        30. Mrs Happy

          Lynx, you make an illuminating point.   Reflecting on it, I would agree with your idea.

          Jeremy, I think you married around age 30?   And you thought of all that at 30? No way.   Surely, rather, you realised all that, after the psychological work you did while your marriage was difficult for you.   I seriously doubt people in their 20’s or early 30’s, who haven’t yet been married, can think like that and really understand it; from what you’ve previously shared you came to those conclusions after marriage.   No shame in when those insights arrived, but you cannot expect others to do something you couldn’t.

          I think it’s unrealistic to expect young and never-married people to be that mature; it just doesn’t happen. And even if they said the words, not having lived those ‘too tired to prioritise you’ times makes them worthless.   Anyway at heart people are somewhat selfish – e.g. even the very unselfish you – I bet it wasn’t you getting up to the 4 infants 50% of time all through the cold winter nights so your wife could sleep.

        31. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy I know it’s difficult for you to believe, but yes I did think all those things at 30.   What had to come to me through psychological learning over time was how…others…might not feel the same way.   That was what was hard for me to fathom.   Listening in on sites like this one led me to understand that mine was the minority opinion.   But then, there’s a sampling bias here, isn’t there?

           

          I’ll grant you, there were parts of it that I didn’t really understand until I lived them.   The exhaustion, the entitlement, the being pissed off.   I knew the theory…the practice was harder.   But the theory, I had.   I also planned my future rather carefully, and I took income into account among other things.

           

          Oh, and not only was I the one up 50% of the cold winter nights, I was up almost all of them.   When my firstborn was young he was extremely colicky for 5 months.   He’d feed, spit up, cry, sleep for maybe 30 minutes, then repeat.   When he cried, I’d get up, hand him to my wife to nurse, then I’d burp him, change him, swaddle him, settle him to sleep – you know, the stuff that takes the time?   When my hands started to shake during the day and I couldn’t do my job, I hired a night nurse that I could scarcely afford at the time, because it was important to me that my wife rest.   And once the kids, all the kids, were able to take breast milk or formula from a bottle, all the night duties were mine.   All of them.   Even now, when a child is sick or has a nightmare, I am the one who gets up.   My wife could sleep through an earthquake.   I wake up at the drop of a pin in Timbuktu.   Why should that surprise you?

        32. Mrs Happy

          Dear Jeremy,

          I cannot wait to meet you.

      3. 17.2.3
        Marika

        Hi Jeremy

        The realities of a long-term marriage aren’t always pretty, but worth it if you’re with the right person. I wrote before that I am one of four and it was stressful for a while (e.g. my parents had to build an extension on our house they couldn’t really afford & apparently my Dad was so stressed out he took up smoking again!), but none of us would have it any other way. I’m pretty sure the fourth ended up being my Dad’s favourite in the end 🙂 I definitely don’t pity you. And I’m very glad you comment here.

        I do have to say, though, that while it’s outside of your direct experience (maybe there’s something in the water in Canada!), there are marriages; many, many marriages which follow a script more like ‘happy husband, happy life’.

        There are some marriages which will be improved by what you wrote in your last paragraph. But not all. I’m very open to hearing about men’s frustrations, but it frustrates me, very much, when you write things like this: “prioritize your husband more than the 10% you’re naturally inclined to do“. If you care about how women who do care about men’s feelings think, we definitely don’t appreciate comments like that.

      4. 17.2.4
        Nissa

        @Jeremy:When she believes the key to a good marriage is to set up boundaries and self-validate.   That’s what WOMEN need to do…. It ain’t conducive to men’s needs in marriage….which most women don’t understand ’cause they believe men should also want what they do.

        I’m not sure I understand what you are saying. Men don’t need to set up boundaries? Men don’t need to self-validate? Or that men don’t want to set up boundaries or self validate? Or that they are unable to do so?

        It’s puzzling to me because my ex never said or intimated to me that he needed more sex or more time or that I had changed since we were dating. He did say he wanted me to make more money, which I suppose could be interpreted as not prioritizing him, but I actually made more than I was making when we dated, so it’s a poor argument. And it really doesn’t feel right to me to say that I only prioritized my ex 10%…he got 90% and I got 10%. Granted, we did not have kids, which helped a great deal. But I just don’t experience the resonance of truth in response to what you are saying. Perhaps it’s true for others, I can certainly allow for that, but it was not my experience. Maybe only those of us without kids have a more equal experience?

        1. Jeremy

          Kids make all the difference IMHO, Nissa.   I think it’s a different dynamic entirely for the childless by choice.   I have no experience with it in my circle, so I wouldn’t know.

      5. 17.2.5
        Marika

        Hola Jeremy

        I understand that you live in an enclave where a big problem amongst couples is that the men very highly value their wives and the wives either don’t value them back as much, or prioritise too many other unimportant things.

        I fervently hope the women in your circle can read this and recognise the pain it causes. No doubt such women, if their husband was to divorce them, may access private coaching services through Evan and hopefully benefit from such wisdom to treat the next man differently.

        But….I’m just not sure how widely experienced this problem is. Certainly amongst regular women commenters on here (from what I can glean), I think the issues may be slightly different. When you talk about ‘women’, it’s not often something I can personally relate to.

        It’s interesting how you relayed the KK comment. You left out a big part of it, which was that she had to call the police to get protection for herself and her children from an abusive husband. I actually read the ‘take a bullet’ bit as her worshipping him. Which is what I’ve understood on here that men really want. Even if he did get the sense she wasn’t as attracted as he would like (it seems unlikely she told him that directly), that doesn’t excuse abuse. And maybe she was an asshole too. But sometimes people (men and women) don’t treat their partners well, and it’s not the other person’s fault. Sometimes there’s nothing to learn other than to pick better next time. Not all women are like the women you know. And certainly not all men are like you.

        1. Jeremy

          Hola Marika.   I hope you are having a meaningful Lent and that you are well.

          I certainly acknowledge that my comments in this regard don’t apply to all women, just as I acknowledge Emily’s comment that sometimes it’s men who marry women to whom they’re not very attracted (though IME this happens less often than the reverse).   I wrote that “good wives” prioritize their husbands more than 10%.   So women who are already doing this would qualify.   For them, my hope is that they’d read the comment, introspect as to whether it applied to them, realize it doesn’t, and continue being good wives.   My comments are more directed at the type of woman (of whom I know many) who thinks she’s doing more than 10% but isn’t.   Because the things she’s doing pertain to her own values, not her husband’s.   As “spreadsheet guy’s” wife wrote, “I cook for him, I clean for him, so why is it a big deal that I went off sex for a while?”   Unknowing assholery.

           

          I purposefully used KK’s example in spite of knowing all the terrible things her husband later did.   My doing so was based on our conversation here:  https://www.evanmarckatz.com/blog/dating-tips-advice/im-34-and-want-children-should-i-marry-a-good-man-who-doesnt-satisfy-my-soul

          Though if I misjudged, she can let me know if she’s still around.   I miss her input.

        2. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          I certainly acknowledge that my comments in this regard don’t apply to all women, just as I acknowledge Emily’s comment that sometimes it’s men who marry women to whom they’re not very attracted (though IME this happens less often than the reverse).

          That’s because men are attracted to a much bigger percentage of women than the percentage of men women are attracted to. Ask a woman how many men she finds appealing as she goes about her day and compare that answer to a man’s. The difference will shock you, which is a why a woman’s compliment to a man’s physical appearance means more.

      6. 17.2.6
        KK

        Hi Jeremy!

        Still here. Still reading. Just haven’t had the desire to comment much.     🙂

        You said, ”  I remember a discussion with commenter KK whose ex-husband cheated on her.   She wrote that until her discovery of his cheating, she’d have “taken a bullet for him.”   But that she was also never really all that attracted to him, only married him because of his over-the-top courting efforts.   Was her willingness to take a bullet for him what he wanted, what he valued, or what she did?   How many men, when dreaming about their ideal woman, think about her willingness to take a bullet”?

        That phrase was used as an attempt to show a level of love and devotion. I foolishly thought we loved each other unconditionally.

        I didn’t marry him for his over-the-top courting efforts. I wasn’t really physically attracted to him but he had qualitities that I was attracted to and I decided to give it a chance. I married him because I loved him. When you genuinely like someone and spend time with them, it’s pretty easy to start having feelings and get attached. Well, for me, it is.

        Also, remember that he’s 13 years older than me. So the thought of me taking advantage of some poor schmuck just for giggles is ridiculous. As our relationship progressed, I was an open book; like I am in all of my personal relationships. I never pretended to be infatuated with him or anything like that. I was honest about my reservations. So, no, it never crossed my mind that I should try to protect a grown man pursuing me just because my level of interest was initially lower than his; which was very obvious, by the way.

        Anyway, hope that helps.

        1. Jeremy

          Hi KK, so nice to hear from you, it’s been too long.   I hope you are well.

           

          I used your name as an example because based on some of our past conversations I believe you really tried your best to be a good wife to a man who was not a good husband.   And yet (again based on those conversations), I felt that you might have made some mis-steps of the sort I was describing – missing a spouse’s prioritiy in the rush to fulfil what you thought his priority should have been.   I might have totally mis-interpreted you.   So instead of using you, I’ll use myself as an example of this.

           

          Years ago, I was attempting to fix my marriage.   Specifically to show my wife both that I loved her and also to try to elicit her to do the same.   She cooked, she cleaned, she took care of the house….but none of that was love to me.   So I thought I’d show her what love really meant.   She had mentioned that she would love a kitchen renovation, that she was tired of the dated look.   In the past I’d told her that we didn’t have it in the budget, but I decided to splurge.   A great big act of service to show love.   She was excited, spent weeks planning with the designers, cost me a mint.   But when I heard her talking with her friends on the phone about it, her attitude toward it shocked me.   She described the reno as a decision she and I had made together.   An investment, should we ever sell the house.   But that isn’t what it was, it was a huge f-ing GIFT from me to her.   If it was a joint decision, it wasn’t a declaration of love.   She wasn’t seeing it right.   I had wasted my effort and money.   Little did I know that she would have been far happier if I had got her a $2 card and written a personalized message telling her I loved her.   And if I had firmly but respectfully turned down the unreasonable request for a reno.

           

          It’s not that I was being an asshole, per se, but that I didn’t understand how to express love in a way that was meaningful to her.   I had made the exact same mistake she had made through the cooking and cleaning.   Mistaking what I though love meant for what she did.

           

          This was what your comment of your willingness to take a bullet evoked in my mind.   A notion that meant love to you, but is not the way most men receive love, isn’t meaningful in that way.   Is, in a way, a grand waste of time and effort….like my kitchen reno.

    3. 17.3
      Adrian

      Hi Jeremy,

      Nissa said, “She feels that she deserves the time and attention of others…  this does not allow for the free will of others, because she has “earned” your love..so now you owe her — on her terms

      Wow! This was powerful; thanks Nissa. As an anxious attachment type I struggle with giving and not receiving in relationships; it’s not the lack of the gift, time,   attention, or even the quality of the gift but the lack of effort. But I don’t want to be like Nissa’s friend and demand a returned level of effort, so what do you do in situations when you give but   don’t receive?

      Do you just look at the overall effort of what the person gives and not that specific moment?

      1. 17.3.1
        Nissa

        @Adrian,

        My rule of thumb is to give only until I feel I cannot give without resentment. The emotion tells me I am giving more than I really want to give, in order to get something back from that person. The emotion tells us that we are using this action to control the behavior of others, to influence them, to force them to meet our needs. That signal tells me it’s time to stop giving, to re-evaluate what I’m doing to meet my own needs instead of expecting them to be met through others. We can only really give when we give freely, without expectation of a return of any kind.

        1. Jeremy

          This is about as cognizant of human psychology as communism, Nissa.   Sorry to be harsh.   We all give to get to some extent, though what we get varies from something tangible to something intangible.   Not to beat a dead horse, but as we’ve discussed before, the problem with the “nice guy” isn’t that he gives to get, it’s that the woman he’s giving to doesn’t want to give.   If she did, his giving would be called “courtship,” and she’d be quite OK with it in spite of his motivations.

           

          If you are in a marriage and only giving what you feel free to give with no expectation of reciprocation, you will give so little that you’ll end up divorced.   The problem is not with the desire for reciprocation.   It’s the lack of desire to reciprocate.

        2. Nissa

          I know it’s possible because it’s my walk and because I’ve seen it done by others as well.  I’m willing to agree to disagree on this one.

        3. Jeremy

          Your walk is your walk.  I just sometimes get the vibe from you that you think men plan, court, pay, and abstain from sex for months because that’s what men want to do, and that the secret for a woman who wants those things is to find a man who also wants those things.  But it isn’t.  Men don’t do those things because we want to, we do them because women want us to, and because we want relationships with those women.  We do it because it is effective.  The secret for women is to find a man WILLING to do those things, and to find a way to reciprocate. Men sacrifice our power to make women comfortable.  We give with the expectation/hope of reciprocation.  If there was no such hope, say goodbye to courtship and all of the above, and say hello to men like Tron and YAG who do what they want and don’t do what they don’t want – and rest assured, what they want won’t be what women do, long-term.

        4. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          The secret for women is to find a man WILLING to do those things, and to find a way to reciprocate.

          Specifically, how does she do that other than accept dates and be appreciative? Maybe pay for a few dates after the initial couple of dates? Start planning a date or two herself? Start sometimes initiating communication after the first couple of weeks? That sounds reasonable to me, but I don’t know what else she can do if she’s not ready for sex. How else does she reciprocate and demonstrate genuine interest to a man that translates to him in manese? 🙂

        5. Jeremy

          In the beginning of a relationship it will mostly be about receptivity. After a few weeks/months it will be about taking specific action to show interest. Depending on the guy, that might involve initiation of physical affection, or planning a date, or cooking a dinner – the action will depend on the man, but the key is that it be an action rather than a state of being.  What she can do, rather than how she can be. Later  when the relationship is mature  it will involve speaking to him in his love language with appropriate  love content  as I’ve described in other posts.

          She must reciprocate his expressed love in the way he needs it reciprocated. .. Or else he will stop expressing his over time – and she’ll wonder why.

        6. Marika

          Agree with you Jeremy. I’m like you. Which is why I can relate to what you say but not how you feel about women. How you feel about women is very much like a lot of my frustrations with the worst behaviours of men. Taking without giving, being overly concerned with what they want and not cognizant of my needs & feelings etc etc.

          It can go both ways.

          Definitely the picking someone who wants to give is a pertinent point. And I very much agree that feminine energy only gets you so far. It’s like Gone With The Wind – the women were meant to be helpless & ditzy to attract a man – until they got married, when then they were supposed overnight to change into women who could run a family, household and a farm. Maybe some guys still like that? I doubt most do.

          Emily: yours is always a bizarre question to me. You should always (at least) offer to pay on dates. At some point, down the track, if it’s a very generous man, it could be nice to insist. You can definitely organise plans (maybe not immediately) and arrange to do nice things for him. I know there’s a bit of a male/female dance, particularly very early on, but how you are in dating shows the kind of person you’d be in a relationship. If you never make any effort in dating isn’t the guy going to feel either taken for granted, or like you’re selfish?

          Jeremy’s take on this from a male POV would be very useful, too.

        7. Jeremy

          I’d say that male selfishness is very  very common  Marika. Even as a male I see it, and I don’t see half of what women do. Men who marry and happily dump all the responsibilities on their wives. Men who act with entitlement to women’s bodies. Men who believe that women exist to serve or service them. This is far too common, and it gets discussed all the time. Wise men listen to women’s advice on how to be better relationship partners, assuming they care to be better. But men don’t often tell women how to be better, sometimes because we don’t know, sometimes because we’re ashamed to express our wants.  I am not accusing all women of assholery. I’m trying to explain to women who care to be better relationship partners how men often perceive women’s missteps – so they can avoid them if they care to. Because most of the women who make them aren’t aware that they are doing anything wrong. Especially if they only ask echo chambers of other women for advice.

        8. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          Depending on the guy, that might involve initiation of physical affection, or planning a date, or cooking a dinner – the action will depend on the man, but the key is that it be an action rather than a state of being.  

          Again, I’m taking sex off the table as a demonstration of interest in the very beginning.  How will a woman know which action to take, when you have written repeatedly that a woman will often do things that she thinks will show interest/support but they don’t translate to the man in the same way?

          She must reciprocate his expressed love in the way he needs it reciprocated. .. Or else he will stop expressing his over time – and she’ll wonder why.

          But if he’s not getting what he needs once the relationship has been established, isn’t it at least partly his responsibility to explain what he needs instead of just passively/aggressively pulling away?

        9. Emily, to

          Marika,

          Emily: yours is always a bizarre question to me. You should always (at least) offer to pay on dates. At some point, down the track, if it’s a very generous man, it could be nice to insist. You can definitely organise plans (maybe not immediately) and arrange to do nice things for him.

          I don’t think it’s a bizarre question. I’ve heard many women say they offer to pay for themselves on the first date if they know they don’t want to go on a second and don’t want the guy to feel taken advantage of. Does the guy know that or does he think she likes him and is trying to be helpful? Men on here have posted that receptivity can be deceiving because some women will go on up to 3 dates before pulling the plug and saying, “I don’t feel the chemistry,” but he assumed he’d meet the first hurdle of being found attractive because she kept saying yes to getting together.

  17. 18
    Northwest Islander

    I am chiming in late here b/c I’ve been meaning to say this for years:

    In every picture I have ever seen, Evan’s wife looks like the younger sister of supermodel Christy Turlington.   As such, in Evan’s place I would not have wasted my time ‘hitting back’ on any rude comments about her looks.   She is objectively stunning and Lori/others are just being catty.   Oh and also apparently intelligent, grounded, and self-possessed.   Nicely done, Evan:)

    – Single straight female with 20/20 vision

  18. 19
    Marika

    Thanks for explaining that Jeremy. It makes sense.

    Emily, fair enough. I just personally think it’s rude to assume the other person will pay. I guess if you’re flirty and clearly interested in what they say, laugh etc., and then also offer to pay, I’m not sure what the downside is.

    In terms of pulling away, honestly, sometimes you can give, and explain what you need and the other person just doesn’t get it. I understand a lot of people would leave the relationship at that point, but some people do try to make things work out and will feel hurt if a person doesn’t reciprocate. It’s not passive aggressive so much as just feeling hurt while also not wanting to cut and run.

    1. 19.1
      Emily, to

      Marika,
       I guess if you’re flirty and clearly interested in what they say, laugh etc., and then also offer to pay, I’m not sure what the downside is.
      I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass, but how many times have we read on here that women’s flirting/signals aren’t strong enough?
      In terms of pulling away, honestly, sometimes you can give, and explain what you need and the other person just doesn’t get it. I understand a lot of people would leave the relationship at that point, but some people do try to make things work out and will feel hurt if a person doesn’t reciprocate. It’s not passive aggressive so much as just feeling hurt while also not wanting to cut and run.
      I guess it’s understandable to pull away once you’ve explained how you feel and what you need, but until that point, it’s not reasonable to expect the other person to guess. A person needs to be upfront. And those are sometimes difficult conversations to have, which many people avoid.

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