Men Ask for Dating Advice From Match. Hell Freezes Over!

Men Ask for Dating Advice From Match. Hell Freezes Over!
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I’ve always had a glib answer as to why I’m a dating coach for women instead of men.

“Men need more help. Women ASK for more help.”

In general, this is true. I was a dating coach (one of the first) from 2003-2009 and I didn’t specify which gender I was helping. Without doing anything specific to court women, 80% of my mailing list turned out to be women. Why weren’t men flocking to me? Because men who lacked confidence back in those days turned to pick-up artists for tricks on how to talk to a woman. And, if anything, the rest of the men had an irrational sense of confidence, in spite of their middling results.

Once I cut off men and focused on helping smart, strong, successful women understand men and make healthier relationship choices, my business skyrocketed. I can still help men, since 90% of dating and relationship advice is the same, but, again, the stereotypes of men largely hold true. He’ll drive around in circles for a half-hour but won’t stop to ask for directions. Too much pride. Too arrogant to take criticism. Women, on the other hand, beat themselves up incessantly about things they didn’t even do wrong!

Once I cut off men and focused on helping smart, strong, successful women understand men and make healthier relationship choices, my business skyrocketed.

Relationship goes bad with some selfish douchebag and all she thinks about is how she could have done something different to save it. It kills me – and, alas, it also keeps me in business. Teaching women to walk away from these guys is more than 50% of my job.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about Match.com getting into the advice game. Evidently, the granddaddy of dating sites is trying to monetize its dwindling userbase by offering help from “a team of in-house Match employees.” Inspiring.

The reason I’m sharing this article is that the headline suggests that men were three times more likely to opt in for advice than women. That threw me for a loop – and begs a bunch of questions. Did those men actually step up to pay for that advice or did they just give you an email address? How long did those men continue to receive advice? Did those men implement the advice and get results from it? And while I, too, am a self-proclaimed expert, I earned my stripes over 16 years. Someone making $35K to talk on the phone without experience in the nuances of online dating? Color me skeptical.

But hey, at least it’s a step forward from the CEO toward a model I’ve been pitching for years – caring about your clients and providing them the resources to succeed.

“I’m a millennial, and this is a service my generation wants and needs,” Hosseini said. “Yes, they don’t want to talk on the phone and are automating grocery delivery, but they also seek one-on-one advice for relationships. It’s kind of like a personal trainer. These parts of your life that are nuanced and emotional, you see millennials investing more and going one-on-one.”

Most dating sites try to acquire customers and then pay no mind in helping them succeed. I spoke at about 4 online dating conferences where I encouraged them to work with folks like me to educate their millions of members about online dating profiles, photos, email technique, the male and female user experience, etc.

You know how many sites I ended up working with? None.

You know how many sites are struggling because their members hate it? All.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Jeremy

    A couple of thoughts here.

    First, I don’t think that men’s reluctance to ask for help (in any capacity) is due to arrogance. It’s due to the gendered experience of shame. According to Brene Brown’s research, men and women both experience and suffer from shame for not being “enough.” But whereas women feel they aren’t pretty enough, thin enough, young enough, meeting the expectations of others enough….men feel they aren’t strong enough, able enough, capable enough. We fear being found too weak. And despite all women’s talk about the toxicity of this, as long as their main attraction heuristic to men remains “confidence,” this will not change. Because while a woman might say, “I want a man who is confident enough that he is willing to ask for directions when he needs them,” this is in fact a contradiction in terms. Because the only way a person can BE confident (generally speaking) is to be overly optimistic about their own chances of success in any given venture.

    A man who is introspective enough to realize he needs help and ask for it? He would make an excellent partner. But he isn’t confident. This is not me failing to understand what women mean when they say they want confidence, it’s me understanding it well enough to take it to the conclusion that most don’t….but that men do, unthinkingly.

    I wonder, with regards to the men asking for help on Match – did they ever have to interact with another human being, or was it all online? There’s no shame in asking for help from a computer, even if the person typing on that computer is human. If there is no human interaction, no voice, no face….there is no shame. Remove the shame and men want help desperately, far more than women who, as the article states, are largely looking for validation and a second opinion more than anything else. They are not the ones who have to make the approaches, nor the ones bearing the overwhelming load of rejection that scars the soul after a while.

    I just had a long conversation with a good friend of mine, who had an abusive upbringing and a continuing emotionally-abusive relationship with his parents and siblings. It messes him up and robs him of sleep. I’ve tried and tried to convince him to go for therapy, I’ve been open about my own use of therapy to try to take the shame out of it. But he won’t go. The notion that he needs help….that he is weak. That he is unable to cope on his own. Not confident. Not a man. It is like a dam blocking a river. And his wife tells him that she wishes he’d go and she truly means it. And then she tells him that she loves how confident and able he is, that’s what she loves about him. And she doesn’t see the dichotomy.

    1. 1.1
      Jeremy

      To add just one more thought, much has been written in recent years about male privilege. But not much thought has been given to the privileges of being female – primary among which (IMHO) is the ability to ask for help and receive it without shame from their own gender, and without loss of attraction from the opposite gender. No shame from their own gender because women have evolved to favor equality in power hierarchies rather than ruthless competition for primacy. No loss of attraction from the opposite gender because men feel more masculine when we are needed. Women do not generally feel more feminine when needed, unless the need is strictly emotional.

      People often look at men’s reluctance to ask for help as a sort of defectiveness – a toxicity of masculinity. They tend not to see it in terms of a lack of privilege that women take for granted – and take for granted that men would have too, if only those men would allow themselves. But we wouldn’t. Because what is preventing men from doing so isn’t just what’s in our heads.

      Don’t believe me? Evan’s post mentions that while men historically haven’t asked for dating advice, they have taken PUA courses. If a woman discovered that the man she’d been dating (and thought was confident) had taken a PUA class to improve his game, what do you think her reaction would be? Her immediate, visceral reaction?

      1. 1.1.1
        ezamuzed

        I agree with all this @Jeremy thanks for posting.

        I suspect that men are less likely to seek likely to seek help with direct coaching but instead get help in some anonymous form, Like reading books, participating in forums, listening to podcasts or watching videos.

        Evan says “He’ll drive around in circles for a half-hour but won’t stop to ask for directions. Too much pride” But the same guy will consult a map or phone without any problems.

        As for the PUA classes, I think that women want to feel special so the problem is when a guy uses canned lines or preplanned approaches it makes them feel like they are not special.

      2. 1.1.2
        SparklingEmerald

        Jeremy asked “If a woman discovered that the man she’d been dating (and thought was confident) had taken a PUA class to improve his game, what do you think her reaction would be? Her immediate, visceral reaction?”

        My reaction would be to run, not walk, in the opposite direction. Not because he sought “help” but because of WHERE he sought help. PUA, is about picking up women, not forming relationships. Since I was seeking a relationship (now married), I would not be a good fit for someone looking to have sex with as many women as possible, only to discard them, which is the bulk of PUA philosphy.

        On the other hand, if he told me he had sought help from a RELATIONSHIP coach so he could connect with a woman for a long term relationship, I would be relieved as at least I would know we were on the same page.

        It’s the difference between a woman who might get her advice on how to find a guy from typical women’s magazines that show you how to make yourself more physically attractive and flirtatious vs a woman who read books like “The Rules” that advocate manipulation and withholding parts of yourself to trick a man into falling in love with you.

        It’s not the advice seeking that is the problem, it is the type of advice that is being sought, and what the end goal is.

        1. Mr_B

          You can’t have a relationship with a women if you don’t “Pick Her Up”.

          Regardless, all the traits women complain about in men today were selected by women in the past. That’s how evolution works.

        2. SparklingEmerald

          Mr_B
          You can’t have a relationship with a women if you don’t “Pick Her Up”.

          Actually, you can have a relationship my meeting a woman or being introduced to a woman. No need to use dishonest PUA tactics.

        3. Shaukat

          I think you’re working with a rather outdated definition of PUA tactics SE, such as negging etc. A lot of it is really just teaching introverted guys how to approach, get a number, be sociable/funny/interesting, and escalate. Those things are prerequisites for establishing an emotional connection, especially in 2019 when most people who date aren’t formally introduced.

        4. Jeremy

          But Shaukat, the word she used was “dishonest.” Not derogatory, not harmful, not ineffective. “Dishonest.” From an evo-psych perspective, doesn’t that make total sense? If one’s reproductive function depends on selecting the highest-quality mate and if “quality” is determined by heuristics, what could be worse than dishonest heuristics, false flags? Confidence is assumed to represent quality, not having taken a class. Cocky and funny is determined to signal status, not artifice. Men don’t understand this intuitively because our reproductive function is to GET selected, not to select. We can discover that a woman’s heuristics were dishonest (breast implants, make-up, push-up bra, spanxx, plastic surgery) and not lose attraction. Because to us, the heuristics themselves are attractive, not what they represent. Women want what the heuristics represent.

        5. Mr_B

          “Confidence” is not a genetic trait. It’s situational and domain specific.

          People will be less confident after getting rejected by 3 people in a row.

          Some will be confident at a private party but not confident at a dance club.

          A super model with a cold sore will be less confident until they heal.

          By “Pick up” I just meant the ability to cold approach a stranger to attempt to build a relationship.

          Most of the PUA tactics I’ve seen are just tactics that naturally attractive people use all the time.

          PUA is probably less effective on women than SPANX and makeup are on men.

        6. ezamuzed

          I suspect the “dishonest” things SparklingEmerald is referring to is canned lines, memorized routines and other scripted things that a guy might use to pickup a woman. Things that are not a natural part of this personality.

          SparklingEmerald how would you feel this guy worked with coaches and teams to genuinely improve his sense of humor, social skills, wit, confidence etc, so that it was now an ingranied part of his personality?

    2. 1.2
      jo

      Jeremy and Evan, thoughts for both of you:

      Jeremy, could you talk with your friend’s wife about how, although she almost certainly thinks she’s helping by telling him how she loves his confidence, that is actually preventing him from seeking the therapy he may need? She probably has no idea that her words hinder his action; she thinks she’s encouraging him. Maybe the right line is that she’ll still love and respect him, and their relationship will improve, even if (and maybe MORE if) he seeks therapy.

      Evan, if what Jeremy says is true about men seeking help under conditions of anonymity (I can’t confirm, since I’m not a man), would one way to grow your business if you were interested in helping men be to allow anonymity for your clients? e.g., an account with you where nothing was revealed of the men’s names or faces.

      1. 1.2.1
        Jeremy

        I am fairly certain that Evan wasn’t looking for business advice but rather just venting justifiable frustration, Jo. Which was, ultimately, what I was doing too. My frustration is with society’s excoriation of men for their unwillingness to seek help without understanding the reasons why. Or rather, understanding the reasons from the male side while the female side denies culpability.

        The beginning of wisdom in relationship advice (as opposed to dating advice) is the understanding that there is often a big difference between what people believe about themselves versus what is actually true. And that while this holds for both men and women, women (IME) have a harder time distinguishing their wants from their shoulds. How WOULD I feel vs how DID I feel? What did I think vs what did I DO? My friend’s wife (who is also my friend) could TELL her husband that she’d still love and respect him if he went for therapy, but words mean absolutely nothing to most men without action. And the female version of “love” isn’t what we’re after. She is aroused by his confidence, competence, stability – to anchor her own lack thereof. He KNOWs what she likes about him, her words to the contrary are meaningless. If he showed more vulnerability than she was comfortable with, she may well still feel love for him – still have feelings in her mind that she interprets as love, still tries to make him feel safe, heard, and understood. But desired? Lusted after? ADMIRED? Nope. And he knows it.

        Perhaps you would respect a man who admitted to using a dating coach more, Jo, though forgive me for being skeptical – and being even more skeptical that the same would be true for most women. Because I agree with you that women like men of action….but what you didn’t say is that they like it when the action was the man’s idea. You don’t want the flowers, you want the fact that he wanted to get them for you, that he KNEW to do so. If you knew he’d taken classes, would you not wonder thereafter which of his actions were the genuine him, and which are learned, a false flag?

        1. jo

          Jeremy, I’m surprised at the defensiveness of your comment (both here and in several past posts when you go on about women being assholes). I didn’t write anything that deserved that, and not a single woman in these comments or post, including the author of the article, “excoriated” men in a way that would invite “venting justifiable frustration.” (Evan’s tone was much lighter, which didn’t make me think he was venting at all.)

          You seem to have an underlying anger toward women, yet you admit that men themselves set up the power hierarchy you describe that we women don’t ourselves have. You claim to know how women feel about certain things, and if I or someone else writes differently, you doubt us. Why? Please take a step back and understand that women are not out to get you or men in general. It makes discussion a bit difficult.

        2. Jeremy

          My doubts stem from life experience Jo. Ask most men whether they have similar feelings on the matter. Brene Brown did. Her book documents the results.

        3. Jeremy

          And again, Jo, it is exceptionally frustrating to have my words twisted. I did not write about women being assholes. I wrote an admonition to be careful to NOT be an asshole in the context of a relationship, and not to believe that being an asshole means acting like a man who’s being an asshole.

          In the same way, I did not write here that women are out to get men. I wrote that they often are unaware of their own preferences and give poor advice to men unwittingly. I did not accuse you of excoriating men, I wrote that men have been excoriated. See, for example, the latest statement on masculinity by the American Psychological Association, which is in line with the broad cultural narrative.

          Finally, please be aware that accusing a man of anger in the midst of a conversation is the equivalent to accusing a woman of hysteria. It is a shaming tactic and a conversation ender.

        4. jo

          Jeremy, it isn’t a shaming tactic; I fear it is the truth (although I certainly don’t wish it to be, as I enjoy intellectual discussions). A past post’s comments section was littered with all-caps, swearing, and exclamation points – directed at women. If that is not anger, then what is? What response do you think that generates in people who read such comments? I don’t find it conducive to civil discussion.

          Here, just to look on the surface, it was comments about ‘while the female side denies culpability’ (what exactly do you think we are guilty of here?) and rather strong words such as ‘excoriation.’ While they don’t themselves necessarily indicate anger, the total body of comments seems to indicate that underlying current. Or at least to keep on pointing the finger: ‘Well, you women keep doing this,’ even when it wasn’t women making the criticism in the first place, and even if the premise for such counter-accusations is weak or unsubstantiated.

          Women didn’t ask men not to seek help. More often than not, we wish they would. One man’s anecdotal ‘evidence’ is not really convincing. Unless someone can prove adverse consequences of men seeking such help, directly visited upon them by women (and not society in general), then there is no reason to claim that women are culpable for men not seeking help.

        5. sylvana

          Jeremy,

          I just read the latest articles on masculinity by the APA. Very interesting reading. Especially for me. As always when describing the higher end of masculinity, they are describing me to a T (sigh). Some examples: Total lack of self-care, haven’t seen a doctor in decades, no matter how sick or how many health problems, refuse to go near a therapist, always feel like I need to be stoic and strong, using tobacco and avoiding vegetables…lol, the need to provide and protect, high risk behavior, etc.

          Which makes me wonder. I certainly wasn’t brought up to be that way. As a matter of fact, society always told me I “should” be completely different. My sister definitely is.

          I understand that there are a lot of men out there who certainly feel the pressure of fitting into the mold (just as I felt the pressure to fit into the “feminine/female” mold). But it also makes me wonder how much of it is just natural for more dominant, more masculine, and possibly higher testosterone men. That being said, I think both sexes would greatly benefit if we stopped trying to push everyone to fit a mold.

    3. 1.3
      sylvana

      Jeremy,

      interesting to hear this. I find that in my circle of male friends, it’s always the confident, more dominant leaders who do ask for directions. They’re problem solvers. We’re lost, that’s a problem. So they solve it. They pull up to the next person they see, and figure out where they heck we’re at and where we need to go to get to where we’re going. Maybe it’s because most of them are early Aries, and as such, like I, extremely impatient. Especially when it comes to doing useless things – like aimlessly driving around when we have somewhere to get to.

      Also, you said: the only way to be confident is to be overly optimistic about their own chances of success in ANY given venture. If that’s the case, shouldn’t they be overly optimistic about their chances of success/(aka getting desired answers and actually reaching their destination) when asking directions?

      Women around me are often baffled that he guys and I can just jump in the car for a road trip without much preparation. We glance at a map, and off we go. Because, guess what? If we get lost, we can ask someone for directions. We’re fully confident that we’ll get there, and will utilize whatever it takes to get there. The women, on the other hand, who are shyer and much less confident, will have every yard of the road trip planned out in detail before they go.

      The only men I’ve known that didn’t want to ask for directions were the ones who hated admitting “defeat” to another person by asking directions. They would rather drive around lost all night than to admit their “failure”. That’s the opposite of problem solving and confidence, in my book.

      1. 1.3.1
        Jeremy

        This comment made me smile (not in a bad way) because it so perfectly illustrates the difference in world-view between personalities. What you call “confidence” I’d refer to by…..a different word 🙂 And I think that in order to pull over and ask for directions, a man would first have to admit that he needed them. That he didn’t know, that he needed help, that he wouldn’t eventually get there if he just kept driving around.

        A man might be confident at a particular activity because he has specific preparation for that activity – a professor giving a lecture in his field of expertise – “circumstantial confidence”. Or he might be confident because he’s always had a broad set of tactical intelligences that have gotten him through most situations well enough in the past – “tactical confidence”. Or he might be confident because he’s been told he’s good at lots of things by other people in the past and has built up his ego – “narcissistic confidence.” Or he might just be too stupid to consider that he might fail, or might believe that a higher-power will protect him – “rose-tinted confidence.” The etiology of his confidence will dictate his behavior. The average onlooker won’t know the difference. The difference matters because it predicts the future.

        LOL, Sylvana, a man driving around rather than asking for directions might be the opposite of problem-solving to you, but the notion of embarking on a trip without preparation is the embodiment of idiocy to me. The explorer says, “man, you’re too boring!” The rational says, “man, you make no sense!” Both are stuck in their world-view because the goal of the rational is getting there, while the goal of the explorer is having fun doing so.

        1. sylvana

          Jeremy,

          I AM an explorer, you’re right about that one …lol. You’re also right that rationals bore us to tears and drive us crazy. And that we cause rationals panic attacks and drive them crazy.

          But I will argue that the rational cares about getting there. Not if he keeps driving around aimlessly and lost instead of asking for directions. We’ll get there LONG before he/she will. So, obviously, we care about actually getting there more 🙂 Because, well, we got there and proved that we care about getting there. Talk is cheap. Prove it.

          “And I think that in order to pull over and ask for directions, a man would first have to admit that he needed them.”

          Um … who does he think he’s fooling??? We are LOST. We’ve BEEN lost, sometimes for hours. Ain’t nobody still buying that he actually knows where he’s going. That ship has sailed. Everyone with him is well-aware that he NEEDS directions. The dude has no clue where he’s going. He’s proven that.

          I see in in the horse industry all the time, too. From veterinarians to farriers. The truly confident ones will be the first ones to admit when they don’t know something. They’ll tell you “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” Only the more insecure ones will keep experimenting and experimenting, pretending to know.

          And guess what? They might think they come across as confident. To everyone around them, however, they seem to be not just clueless, but also too chicken to admit they don’t know (worse yet, and as such, not to be trusted).

          So I guess it is a matter of perception. You might think your actions display confidence. But to everyone else, the opposite shows.

        2. Jeremy

          First, the Rational wouldn’t get lost. He’d be prepared with at least 1-2 backup plans. He’d ask for directions if he had to (because that would be rational), but it would generally be a non-issue and a total failure of planning if required.

          Second, it’s not that Explorers give us anxiety and panic attacks, it’s that we think they are….that other word I hesitated to use above instead of confident. You know, the word we use when a person takes an unnecessary risk and loses big? Nassim Talab (have you read any of his books? They’re great), is a mix of explorer and rational and he makes an excellent point. That if he had to advise young people on what job to choose, he’d LOGICALLY have to suggest dentistry. Notwithstanding the fact that he himself made hundreds of millions of dollars in the stock market (because he loves the thrill of it), he acknowledges that more people lose than win in the market and in risky jobs. That even though no dentist will ever make the kind of money he’s made, none will ever lose it either. Just about everyone in the graduating class will live more than comfortably for the rest of their lives. Is it that taking a job as a trader gives a rational person anxiety, or is it that he thinks it’s a stupid job to have due to its inherent unreliability? HIS goal is to be comfortable. The Explorer’s goal is to have thrills. Different goals.

          Finally, your last paragraph is the flip-side of what I tried to express in my last comment to you. That just because YOU, as a woman, perceive a man to be confident, that doesn’t necessarily (or usually) mean what you think it does about a man! Seriously, the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s not that the truly knowledgeable vets are “confident” enough to know to ask for help, it’s that they are KNOWLEDGEABLE enough to know not to be CONFIDENT. SMH.

  2. 2
    Elizabeth

    Jeremy… BOOM. Perhaps Evan should hire you to help him with his new dating service for smart, strong, UNsuccessful men!

  3. 3
    Lisa

    I online dated for many years and am not married to someone I met online. A friend of ours is going through a nasty divorce and is on the sites now for the first time ever after a ten year marriage. I shared with him what I learned from all those years and I will post it here for what it’s worth. First, be honest about who you are. If you are currently separated say that. Sure it may turn off some women but it will be even harder trying to explain it to them three months in. And no most people won’t love you so much by then that they will forget you lied. This goes for everything, especially your height. I cannot tell you the number of men who were 5’5 and listed 6’1 as their height. Second get some good pictures, and make sure you ask your female friends to look at them. Third, do not email all the 9’s and 10s, even if you yourself are a 9 or 10. They are getting more emails then you can ever imagine. Email the ladies that are average looking, they often make the best matches and get far less emails. It is very hard to stand out in a woman’s inbox when she’s receiving 30 emails a day. Fourth don’t be sexual, don’t send nasty sexual messages. Fifth if a girl does not answer, leave her alone. Do not send nasty follow up emails. She’s not interested. Sixth there is no closure, there is no closure. If you text her after the first date and she fails to respond, leave her be. She’s not interested. Seventh be realistic. It’s normal human behavior to want to shoot for the best looking person out there when you see them, but it’s not realistic. I am not being mean, this goes for men and women alike. Eighth send a lot of emails and be prepared not to receive a lot of emails back. Ninth don’t be creepy. Tenth, online dating is a full time job. You have to put in the work. It’s not easy. People are mean, your feelings and ego will be hurt, but after awhile if you stick it out you will meet someone. Most importantly DO NOT LIE.

  4. 4
    Elizabeth

    Oh and Jeremy, to answer your obviously rhetorical question – since women like being treated like prey by players about as much as men like being treated like walking ATMs by gold diggers – most women’s visceral reaction would be “Eeeeeeeeeeewww!”

    But I think you knew that.

    I once dated a guy after he negged me during our chats online, mostly out of curiosity and because he checked all my boxes. I kept my distance, but we did get along and went on a couple more dates – until I got to page 142 (or whatever it was) of The Game and read the exact play he ran on me: “I love your nails… are they real?” *eyeroll*

    I called him out on it, but continued to see him, thinking he was really a nice guy who just needed confidence – which was his excuse. We discussed The Game openly, but something still just didn’t sit right, so I let him phase out (which he did easily since I wasn’t putting out).

    A few years later I saw him in a restaurant where I was waiting for a table with my now fiance – RUNNING GAME ON A VERY PRETTY, MUCH YOUNGER WOMAN. He clearly didn’t even see or recognize me, but he sat down right by me and started running his lines at what was obviously a first internet date… I don’t know for sure, obviously, but I am pretty sure that that I had narrowly escaped a long-term PUA.

    All I could think was, “Girl, you better get smart” and THANK GOD I didn’t keep seeing that creep! 😀

    I’m not saying good guys couldn’t use the PUA “learning “to their benefit – in fact, I actually tried to give The Game to my son! (He declined – “too creepy”, he said.) But it would serve all women to read this book too so they don’t get played… unless they want to. 😉

    1. 4.1
      Jeremy

      I agree with you here, Elizabeth, and have no love for pickup artistry except insofar as it gives good guys some idea of what many women find arousing when they’d otherwise have no clue. But I will ask you and the other women reading a question that is less rhetorical. I have nothing but respect for Evan and what he does, having been a reader and commenter on this blog for years. I think that Evan does an incredible service for women and could potentially do so for men as well. But as a man, if I was dating a woman and she revealed to me that she’d had limited dating success and used a dating coach, my attraction to her would not decrease because male attraction is not contingent on respect. Her past success with men or lack thereof are irrelevant, and her need to learn “game” as opposed to having it innately are non-issues. But as a woman, if a man you’d been dating revealed to you that he had no game, had a largely unsuccessful history with women and was using a dating coach (as opposed to PUA) to learn how to do better with women – and hence his behavior with you – what would your intuitive reaction to that be?

      I know what I suspect, but admit I could be wrong. How much aversion is due to a fear of being played (which exists for both genders, as you wrote), and how much is due to the fact that it didn’t come naturally, that it had to be “helped”?

      1. 4.1.1
        jo

        Jeremy, I would respect that man more because it would show that he cared enough about improving himself to take action on it. Remember, we like men of action. I would also appreciate his honesty… and probably like him more because I would think him sincere. Also, I’d asked what he learned from his coach about how to deal with us. 😉

      2. 4.1.2
        John

        Jeremy. Thank you for articulating what I have experienced and witnessed for my whole life. . You are correct that we men like to seek advice anonymously. Male shame drives the high suicide rate for men. I’d write more, but this annoying pop up ad from this website keeps getting in the way.

        1. Jeremy

          Me too, John.
          I understand why women are so perplexed at the male experience of this. Most women DO genuinely want men to seek help….they just aren’t necessarily prepared for the consequences of men’s doing so. In the same way that they ask us to express our emotions and then become dismayed when those emotions fall outside of the expected envelope. “God, you seem so ANGRY. What’s wrong with you?” “Oh. You’re afraid. I guess I’ll have to be the man today.” “Oh, you feel sick? I guess you’ve got a man-flu.” Shame, accusations of dysfunction – and not generic dysfunction, but improper function at BEING A MAN. Because while they do want us to express emotion, they also want us to stay in our box – the role of “man,” whatever that means to them. They just hope we’d be a bit happier in that box if we’d emote more.

          In the same way, my friend’s wife truly wishes he’d go to therapy, hopes that it would help him be happier, less short with her and the kids, better-adjusted. The problem is, she wouldn’t necessarily be happy if he actually did. Because when she says she wishes he’d be “better-adjusted,” she isn’t finishing the sentence. Better adjusted….to WHAT? To the role he plays. To the persona she takes for granted, believes is “him”. Provider, protector, father, husband, all the masks he wears. Will therapy make him better-adjusted to wear his masks, keep him riding on his white horse but add a smile on his face while doing so? Or might it strip him of the constraints keeping him on that horse, make him question why he should adopt the role he does, why all the responsibilities he deals with should remain his burden? Will his wife truly like what she gets if he actually deals with the things constraining him to his role?

          Maybe. I happen not to think so, though one could present a valid counter-argument. But my point is that the CERTAINTY, the certainty of women telling men what they think they want – needs to be less certain. Needs to be thought through to conclusion. Because the emotions you get when you ask for emotions might not be the ones you expect, hope for. They might frighten and disgust you – AND THEN WHAT HAPPENS? Be less certain – that is, I think, the compromise here. That women should be a bit less certain when giving men advice on how to be happier, less certain of their predictions about their own reactions. And on the flip-side, that men should ALSO perhaps be less certain about what their wives’ reaction will be, less constrained by their fears of what those reactions will be….even if they might be right. I don’t know how easy it would be for women to make the compromise I suggest here. But I do know that it would be hard as hell for men. Especially men dating, needing positive female feedback, as discussed in the article here.

        2. Paula

          Jeremy – how do you actually know the experience you describe would actually be how your friend’s wife would react?

        3. Jeremy

          I don’t know for sure, Paula. I admitted as much above. But I’d gamble a fair amount of money on it, and I’m not a gambler. To be clear, I don’t think the loss of attraction/respect would come due to the fact of his seeking therapy. I believe she’d be happy to see him seek help and work on himself….as long as doing so didn’t take him out of his role. As long as it results in his being happier on his white horse. But if he came home from therapy and told her that he now realizes his ideas about masculinity came from a place of dysfunction and that he is no longer satisfied with the way their marriage is set up, that he now wants her to get a job and start contributing to the upkeep of their marriage, that he now sees that the division of their responsibilities is the source of his stress and that it was all built on the feet of clay of his dysfunctional ideals of masculinity…..well, there’s where I think the loss of attraction/respect will come in to play. Because deep down she believes that a good man will be strong and provide – will WANT to be strong and provide – and his doing so is what makes her feel loved.

          I asked a question above – if the emotions expressed fall outside of expectations, if they result in loss of attraction/respect, then what happens? I think most women would intuitively respond, “Then you deal with it, talk it out.” But most men would respond, “Then you withdraw, go back in your box.” The difference is not due to women’s emotional intelligence and men’s lack thereof. It’s that women believe talking it out helps, because it helps THEM, makes them feel better and more bonded. And men believe it won’t because it generally doesn’t help THEM, makes them feel worse, more alienated. I’ve spent thousands of dollars and tens of hours in therapy with different therapists of different styles. It’s given me more clarity on certain things, but has never made me feel better, more often makes me feel worse. Because the clarity I have achieved makes me realize the craziness around me, but does not free me from it. I often wonder if it’s better not to know.

        4. jo

          Jeremy, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that your friend’s wife wouldn’t welcome exactly that change that you described. I think men are under false impressions about how much women like staying at home without a wage-earning job, and about how fulfilling stay-at-home motherhood and household-chore-doing is. Sparkling Emerald was right in the last post where she commented on how women feel constricted and guilty about spending when they do not make money themselves. And work can be fulfilling because of a bigger social circle, the regular reason to get out of the house, and the satisfaction of earning wages. This wife might be delighted at the outcome of whatever the man gains in therapy.

          In any case, there is no reason to fault her for asking him to seek therapy. You did it too, no? At least that is what you wrote earlier, in fact, that you suggested it multiple times.

          Earlier, someone – might have been SE or Sylvana – wrote that it’s best if people step away from gender stereotypes and think, feel, and act as they genuinely do. If they do naturally fall into those stereotypes, that’s great. If not, then they should act as they authentically are, as that gives the best likelihood for healthy relationships (even if adjustment is necessary).

        5. Paula

          Jeremy – those are all very reasonable and possible conclusions to draw. I read it and to me the question for all of us – men and women – is self-actualization vs subordination of our wants and needs for the sake of maintaining peace in a relationship. I can’t speak for all those who have divorced but after having the courage to leave a marriage that would never support my self-actualization I know what my choice would be.

        6. Jeremy

          I think that is exactly the question, Paula, agreed. And I think that the answer depends on one’s personality. Idealist-types (which is my short-hand for people who are emotion-forward, abstract-oriented, prioritize value-systems and ego-invest in personal authenticity) will tend to self-destruct emotionally if not allowed to be their authentic selves. I’ve seen it happen to too many of such personalities, who were raised by other types to be like other types – they melt down.

          But to my personality-type, personal authenticity is a meaningless concept. The question of “who am I?” is far less important than the question of “what do I want?” My friend, like myself, wants marital harmony…to counter the emotional chaos of his childhood. Blowing it up for some concept of personal authenticity would be extremely negative to his personal sense of happiness. Jo’s advice for people to act as they authentically are is excellent advice….for a specific personality-type. Not his, though, and not mine.

        7. SparklingEmerald

          Jo Said “Sparkling Emerald was right in the last post where she commented on how women feel constricted and guilty about spending when they do not make money themselves.”

          I can’t find the thread, but I followed up to set the record straight, that I am not a huge cheerleader of paying work or careers as an avenue of “self fullfillment” They are a tool for making money, and since money is a necessity in this world, not having money can be problematic, so yeah money is the big upside to a job.

          To me it is just a tool, like going to the dentist. I go because it’s a neccessity and I would be in a bad way if I didn’t go.

          I didn’t hate my job, and I did like the money it brought in and the social connections, but I retired AS SOON as it was economically feasible, and if it had been economically feasible 20 years ago (either by winning the lottery, huge inheritance etc) I would have.

          Maybe if I had a well paying job as a performance artist or finding a cure for cancer, then yes, my job would have been a tool for self fullfillment, but I had a mediocre underwriting job that paid the bills and allowed me to have enough money to do the things that I DO find fullfilling (hobbies, socializing with friends, etc)

          I wonder, when women are so envious of men for having careers, and pout about how they downgraded their careers to take care of family (reducing hours, taking extended time off, forgoing travel and promotion opportunities) I wonder if men ever envy women for having the option to work part time, fun time and take time off. I wonder how many men were enjoying their single life living trying to make it as an artist or musician, but gave up that dream to find a “real job” once they go married ?

          A woman who has a family and makes a little bit of money working part time and selling home made items on Etsy would not be stigmatized, but if a man with children was a freelance musician while his wife had the “real job” and did the main support of his family would be called a “dead beat”. Unless of course he hit the big time and became a high earning super star.

          I’m not knocking having a career, but to me it’s just been a tool that allowed me to find fullfillment outside of work, not an actual source of fullfillment.

          I have been retired for over a year now. Do I miss my job ? NOPE, not even a tiny bit. I still keep in touch with some of my co-workers, but I do not miss having a job one tiny bit. AND I have financial security, thanks to 40 plus years of hard work and saving. Again, those long years of work ENABLED me to have a fullfilling life at this point, but were never a big source of fullfillment.

          The big downside of being a stay at home mom is the feeling of having to beg the hubby for money. If a man WANTS his wife to stay home and she agrees, then please don’t make her feel like she’s asking for YOUR money or that she is lazy. VALUE the work she does caring for the children and maintaining a home, stuff you would have to pay anyone but your wife to do.

          And wives, if you stay home (by mutual agreement) and your hubby ends up working extra hours and/or traveling to keep the family financiall afloat, the please don’t make him feel like he is emotionally neglecting his family. Recognize that because he is willing to put forth the extra work, you are able to stay home and care for the kids without having to pay someone else to do it.

        8. jo

          It’s interesting, Sparkling Emerald: to each their own. I love my job, or more accurately, my profession (which allows both job and location flexibility). Though it has its stressful moments, the work is rewarding and my coworkers are great. Even on our off time, we’re friends and enjoy spending time together.

          The times I couldn’t work for various reasons in the past, I felt lost and just missing something. And I agree with you that the money is a necessity but not itself deeply inspiring. It’s the combination of intellectual challenge and meeting those challenges with colleagues that is so meaningful. I wish everyone could find something like this, but know that it happens in some cases and doesn’t in others. I don’t think it should fall along gender lines, that in the case where one half of a couple works, it should almost always be the man, and if one half stays at home, it should almost always be the woman. It might turn out to be the woman who loves work for so many reasons more than the man (and may earn more), in which case the traditional roles should be reversed if one has to stay home with children.

          Each person and each couple needs to make their own wisest choices – again, not bound by traditional gender roles, but by what will bring the greatest happiness for themselves and their loved ones. It sounds funny to say that happiness is a good way to prevent misery, but we often forget this in our daily and life choices. Just as long as in a couple, it isn’t always one side making the sacrifices for the other.

      3. 4.1.3
        SparklingEmerald

        “It’s interesting, Sparkling Emerald: to each their own. I love my job, or more accurately, my profession (which allows both job and location flexibility). Though it has its stressful moments, the work is rewarding and my coworkers are great. Even on our off time, we’re friends and enjoy spending time together.”

        Glad you enjoy your job. The last job I had was pleasant enough, but was degrading due to “corporate changes” so I feel like I dodged a bullet, being able to retire when I did. The office I worked is slowly being downsized and transferred to another state. So much for corporate loyalty. Of course years ago, when the “corporate structure change” began, we were all assured that this was not the beginning of the end, but several rounds of lay offs (all which I manged to dodge) just belied those empty promises.

        These days I think we are ALL being brainwashed into being slave to our jobs. Suze Orman and her ilk advocate working until your are 70 and never enjoying a simple pleasure in life, just put it all away into retirement. The gap between wages and the COL is getting wider, and pundits seem to think we should be greatful to have any job, even if the salary only allows us to starve to death at a slightly lower rate. I think slowly, that even the “satisfaction” of having a paycheck will erode for all but extremely high skilled professionals. Shaming people for having a cup of coffee is now a meme, and instead of addressing the greed that makes a full time worker have to sweat about such a small simple pleasure, we scold people for being “wasteful” or “lazy” when crushing medical bills, housing and student debt make their lives a dismal paycheck to paycheck existence. (It’s not the fancy coffee making people poor ) Right after my divorce, I had to work 2 jobs and get a roommate to make ends meet and I was in my 50’s. Luckily, a rare promotion opportunity opened up at work, and I was able to get that position and a raise, so I quit my second job and I enjoyed having a room mate so it all worked out. Working more than one job, and figuring on NEVER retiring is becoming the new normal.

        When I was unemployed for various reasons (usually corporate “re-structures”, “downsizing” etc.) the part that was “missing” was money. I couldn’t even enjoy the time off, even if I had a few months of savings to live on, (never could make the gold standard of 6 months salary, usually 3 – 4 months would be all I had in reserve).

        Now that I am retired, I have financial security AND freedom. I really don’t need a job dictating the scheduling of most of my life to get a sense of fulfillment, or that “missing” piece you speak of. I have set fitness goals for myself and take between 10 and 15 various exercise classes a week. My hubby and I do volunteer work together on a regular basis. We search for new recipes and cook them together. We go to live theater and live concerts together frequently, and there are activities during the week (such as reduced price matinees, both movie and live theater) and TRAVEL ! We are going to Europe together next year, and frequently make road trips here in the good ol’ U.S. A. We pick up and go whenever we want to and don’t have to schedule vacations according to our work schedule. (I had about 6 weeks paid vacation a year, but could not take more than 2 consecutive weeks and only one person in the department could take off on any given day, I had to miss my best friends daughter’s wedding, because someone else in the department already took off the days) Best part of not having to work, we can come and go as we please. And stay up late and sleep in whenever we want.

        I guess I just really don’t get people who say they would be “bored” if they retired. If you have the financial means to do so, with all the wonderful non-work related things to do, who has time to be “bored” ? I am busier now that I am retired, than when I was working. My retired friends and I often joke about, when did we EVER find the time to have a job !

        1. Trixie

          What’s this have to do with men asking for advice

        2. SparklingEmerald

          Trixie asked.
          What’s this have to do with men asking for advice ?
          ************************
          Jo referenced something I said, I think perhaps in another thread, and I was responding to that.

      4. 4.1.4
        John

        Hi Jeremy. Thanks for you response. I think you’d really enjoy Cassie Jaye’s Ted Talk called “Meeting the Enemy” on YouTube. I tried to post a link, but it didn’t work. Cassie explains how she was unsympathetic to men’s issues, but changed her mind after completing her documentary. I hope you enjoy it.

        1. Jeremy

          I’ve seen it before, John, but I watched it again just now because her point is just so important. We truly need to set our egos aside and acknowledge our biases. The MeToo movement sees women telling their stories of harassment and assault and asks men to introspect – how have WE been part of this culture, this problem. Not to take a cursory glance at ourselves and “mansplain” our innocence, but to really look inside and consider how OUR behavior has contributed to the experience of women, their tribulations, their shame. Are women willing to do the same?

          I referenced Brene Brown above because I truly respect her in this regard (as I respect Cassie Jaye). When a man told Brown that it was the expectations of the women in his life that have kept him in a box, she didn’t “womansplain” his emotions to him, didn’t tell him that he was misinterpreting the women he’d known for decades or his own situation, didn’t tell him that it was really his own fault or the fault of men and patriarchy. She gathered the stories of hundreds of men, realized the commonality of this experience, and in spite of her own feminist leanings, she didn’t just take a cursory glance at herself and judge herself innocent. She didn’t just say, “Well, maybe the women in YOUR lives might feel that way, but not me and not any women I know.” No, she took a good long look at herself, her history, and wrote the words for everyone to see, “I realized that, holy shit, I am the patriarchy!” Now THAT took balls.

          Modern feminist thought deplores the inequality between men and women in the workplace, the fact that CEOs are overwhelmingly male, that positions of power are dominated by men. It considers this a sign of inequality against women. But the flip-side is rarely considered: That the work-life balance of these men in positions of power and influence is abysmal. That these men are slowly KILLING themselves, working crazy hours all for the privilege of power and glory – status among men, and attraction of women. They are the male equivalent of females with eating disorders. Skewed personal balances, harmful personal habits, all in the service of improving their perceived attractiveness to the opposite gender and status among their own. They are not people to be envied. Are these positions dominated by men because power skews male, or are they the victims of the male “Status Myth” just as women with eating disorders are victims of the female “Beauty Myth”?
          And do the women in their lives tell these men that they’d wish they’d achieve a better work-life balance….and then present them with overdue bills that need paying? And do they acknowledge the dichotomy?

  5. 5
    coyote

    Jeremy,

    As someone in a helping profession that comes from a very dysfunctional family of origin (parents have been embittered, gaslighting, chronic fights and toxic silences lasting for days for 55 years); I would be ATTRACTED and THRILLED to meet a man that got himself help/coaching/personal growth. Full disclosure Landmark and Love U grad! Thanks Evan Marc Katz! Couldn’t be doing it without your fantastic coaching 🙂

  6. 6
    Lynn

    I dated online for years and would have been THRILLED to meet a man who was doing any kind of introspection or therapy. When I delicately approached the issue on a date, I got looks of anger mixed with terror. In this society, therapy is a sign of weakness and failure. Having been in therapy, workshops, retreats for years, I had to find a man who was taking a look at his inner self. Online men? Nope. When I did find the rare unicorn, he disappeared after only a week or two because a relationship-oriented woman with her act together scooped him right up. I applaud any man who takes action and is willing to look inward. I, too, agree with much of what Jeremy wrote. It’s too bad our society shames men in that way. Thank you Evan for all of your wisdom.

    As for me? I met my amazing man at my local Unity Church. He hasn’t been divorced even two years and I’m only the third woman he dated after 32 years of marriage and I scooped him up fast! He admitted he would never go online….so there you go! However, he’s been in therapy and men’s groups for years. 🙂

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