Why You Must STOP Texting As Your Primary Form of Communication

186 Shares

I’ve gotten a lot of flak on YouTube for my No More Bad Dates TEDx Talk, in which I lay out my keenly observed theories that:

  1. Most people’s online dating profiles suck.
  2. Men get rejected more than you can possibly imagine.
  3. Because of this high rejection rate, they’re disincentivized from spending a lot of time on each individual woman.
  4. As such, men want “speed” – to spend as little time as possible on phone/email/text and meet in person to see if there’s chemistry, preferably without spending money.
  5. This system is not good for women – who deserve to have a man make some time and energy investment before meeting him for a first date – lest she go on an endless series of blind coffee dates with swipe-right guys on Tinder.
  6. Because men and women have slightly different goals, there needs to be a middle ground where men can move quickly AND women can screen for trust and comfort.
  7. The best way to do this is outlined in Finding the One Online, Volume 4 and is called the 2/2/2 Rule – a couple emails back and forth on the dating site, a couple emails back and forth on Gmail, a couple of phone calls (or even just one), followed by a date. That ensures a real personal connection BEFORE you meet and makes a first date feel more like a second date.

2/2/2 is designed to AVOID TEXTING because texting is the death of healthy communication.

Unmentioned in all of that is this: 2/2/2 is designed to AVOID TEXTING because texting is the death of healthy communication. This is not some old, married, luddite position; this is literally what I hear from thousands of women who have text-only “boyfriends” and who have all their serious relationship discussions by text. This is the problem when you use texting as a primary form of communication instead of just a tool to say, “Running late!” or “Thinking of you!”

All of this seems to be objectively true, but damn, if people aren’t going to double down on the very tools that cause them the most angst – dating apps and texting.

Which is why I found this article by Claire Artschwager in New York Magazine so refreshing. It’s called, “Dating Without Texting Is the Absolute Best.”

There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but here’s the money quote: “My mind wasn’t filled with worry over when he would text me or whether I should text him.”

Yep. That’s texting. An ever-present power struggle based on who contacted whom last and in how much time. By writing regular emails (I know!) and scheduling time to talk on the phone, you avoid all of this bullshit and get to know someone infinitely better than when you’re both texting a dozen people at once.

And if this advice irks you because you think I don’t get it, that’s fine. Literally ALL of my clients complain about texting so I’m always surprise when people conclude there’s no other way because men and modern society demands it. Talk about giving up your power.

So let’s agree to this. If you insist on using text as a primary form of communication, I don’t judge you – as long as it’s working and you’re happy. And if you discover you’re constantly anxious from the churn of texting strangers from dating apps who flake out and disappoint because they have no personal investment in you, maybe you’ll consider replacing texting with something more intimate.

Your thoughts, as always, are greatly appreciated.

Join our conversation (144 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.

Comments:

  1. 1
    Paula

    I’ve learned I could have avoided many awkward first meetings – not to mention time wasted – having followed this advice to always have a phone conversation first.   I’m not a ‘phone person’ by nature and find it more awkward to speak to a stranger on the phone rather than in person but from now on I’ve committed to getting over all of that.

  2. 2
    Paula

    Forgot to add another thought – the key as Evan says is men making and investing time in a woman – texting offers zero proof of that and some men catch on early that they can get away with doing less so long as they are staying tethered through text messaging.

  3. 3
    JET

    I guess I’m a bit more guy-like in this…I’m a female and go on lots of coffee dates because I find I get next to nothing out of texting or phone conversations… I need to see them face to face to get a sense of who they really are. Everyone can be perfect via text or a call…. I’d much rather spend 30 minutes over coffee than waste hours, days or a week or two texting — all of that time is wasted if you meet and know in 30 seconds they’re not a match.

    1. 3.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Here’s another way to look at it, JET. I work backwards from what I WANT dating to look like. If you actually like going on a series of blind coffee dates with strangers because you feel that anything else is a waste of time, keep doing it. What I discovered as a single man and what I see as a coach is that most people HATE this process. It’s cold and impersonal and you’re a lot more likely to go out with a flake, creep or d-bag if all it takes to meet you is a text and the address of the nearest Starbucks. So, again, if you ENJOY dating this way – meeting unqualified strangers just because they had a cute photo – keep doing it. To me, THAT’s a waste of time.

      I encourage women to operate from a place of success and abundance; what kind of date would you LIKE to have? Most women I work with would rather go on one, pre-screened date with a guy she kind of likes and trusts on a Saturday night than to meet 4 guys for coffee over a weekend. That’s what I teach women to do – and I haven’t found too many of them who prefer doing it the old way. You think of getting to know someone as a waste of time; I think of it as an investment of time – to ensure better first dates and fewer bad dates. Your mileage may vary.

      1. 3.1.1
        Noquay

        I’ve found that a phone call is a first good step and has weeded out men who were in no way compatible or were really creepy or rude over the phone. Always do this before meeting   as meeting someone while living here meant taking time to drive a minimum of 40 miles to the nearest town with decent restaurants etc. It was good to find out about their marijuana habits, constant bragging, or that they bet on dog races for a living BEFORE committing my scarce free time and gas money. Still, the person often wasn’t anything like their photo but that’s a risk inherent in dating.

    2. 3.2
      Nissa

      Jet,

      I don’t get much of anything from texting or calls either. I view it as a hoop I have to jump through to get to what I really want – a face to face meeting. After all, if there’s not at LEAST a 5 in chemistry, what’s the point? However, I have screened out a couple of socially awkward men by taking their calls first, so there IS value to doing it, as Evan says. But do I enjoy it? Typically, no, because I rely a great deal on visual cues, and without those it feels hugely non contextual. But I do it because I view it as a necessary task to accomplish what is important to me.

      1. 3.2.1
        JET

        I agree with your description of it being a hoop to jump through to get what you want Nissa. I do the calls because I follow Evan’s advice to be agreeable and let the pacing flow without trying to direct things, but I’ve spent too much time on calls and texts hearing how perfect someone is, only to meet face to face and be able to suss out pretty quickly that we’re not a match. Like you, the face to face – personality, mannerisms, wait-staff interaction, and overall interpersonal communication are critical to know what a person is really like.

  4. 4
    Nissa

    And if you discover you’re constantly anxious from the churn of texting strangers from dating apps who flake out and disappoint because they have no personal investment in you. – EMK

    I find this interesting because this statement seems to say that men need to invest in women, and so much of what I see on this site – from posters, not Evan – is unhappiness from men in how much they feel they have to invest in women. Yet, that is really outside of a woman’s control – we can only respond to whatever the man chooses to do. (Yes women can take the bull by the horns, but that is an example of FEMALE investment, which is not what I’m talking about here).

    Most of my personal experience is that even when I’ve made it easy for men by responding to their overtures, giving them my number, talking to them on the phone, agreeing to meet them within a week – more often than not, they don’t show up. For me, meeting them right away is not a big deal because I usually invite them to join me in something I’m already planning to do and am open to them offering an alternative. Still nothing.

    Truly, it just seems like men like who they like, and no matter how kind, loving or sweet a woman is, nothing you do, or don’t do, really matters. There’s still only one metric – be hot. That’s what matters.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      “I find this interesting because this statement seems to say that men need to invest in women, and so much of what I see on this site — from posters, not Evan — is unhappiness from men in how much they feel they have to invest in women.”

      People are self-interested. If you’re a man and you take the time to court a woman and 75% of the time, she flakes out, finds a guy she likes better, calls things off after a date or three, it can get maddening and expensive to be a guy. In his perfect world, he can send a text, they can meet for a drink and have sex later that night. Oh, right, that’s what we have NOW…

      “Most of my personal experience is that even when I’ve made it easy for men by responding to their overtures, giving them my number, talking to them on the phone, agreeing to meet them within a week — more often than not, they don’t show up,”

      You’ve made my point. I don’t ask for women to make it hard for men – no game playing here – but I do highly encourage women to vet men based on their efforts. So if you use my 2/2/2 rule and make it fun for a guy to flirt with you and earn the right to take you out on Saturday night, you’re going to go on better dates than if you make it “easy” by going out with a stranger who swiped right and texted you twice. If a man puts in more effort beforehand, he’s more likely to show up on a date and treat her well. If he can get a date with no effort whatsoever, you’ll get what you’re seeing now – ghosting and breadcrumbing and “relationships” that are pretty much all texting.

      1. 4.1.1
        Nissa

        I hope, Evan, that it didn’t seem here like I was arguing with you, because that was not my intent. I had just never thought of the 2/2/2 rule in that way, as being a male investment, because it seems like so little to me, the barest not-even-the-minimum to me.

        When I spoke above of making it easy, I’m not talking about a swipe on Tinder or a few texts. I mean responding to progression of emails, texts, picking up when he calls, being flirty and fun, and accepting offers to go on dates (vs saying I’m not available when I’m actually free). And I have turned down a few. But the majority of men – after a few emails, texts, then calls – seem perfectly content to chat on the phone, for an hour or more at a time. My guideline of ‘within a week’ mostly comes from complaints I have seen from men about women being unavailable – something that even Evan has said is a major turnoff for men. So are dates not commonly made within a week from when you chat for the second or third time on the phone? It’s been so long that I don’t know what’s normal anymore.

        BTW, I’m not in favor of texting at all – if a man doesn’t call within a few texts, I just text him “I’m available at this time if you want to call” and stop responding to texts after that. Sometimes they then call, sometimes they don’t.

        I think I just am flabbergasted at the behavior because at a core level, I believe that men want love too. That men want to connect and have a chance at all the good stuff, including physical intimacy – which clearly does not happen if he never meets a woman in person. I believe that when I answer a call, I’m opening the door to possibilities, I’m saying yes to his requests. So when men continue to call and pursue me as a “chat buddy”- for up to a month if I don’t end it by asking why he doesn’t want to make a date –   it is flat out perplexing to me.

        1. Emily, to

          Nissa,

          So when men continue to call and pursue me as a “chat buddy”- for up to a month if I don’t end it by asking why he doesn’t want to make a date —   it is flat out perplexing to me.

          I think you mentioned this in another post. Does this not get on your nerves? I think so much of dating is timing, and there is a window of opportunity, and it’s not open forever. If a man waits too long to ask for a date when it’s obvious the door is open on the women’s end, it makes him seem ineffective or, at the very least, like he’s just stringing the women along (I guess) for attention.

        2. Nissa

          Hey Emily to,

          It does get on my nerves, but I try to view it as a necessary evil. And it may be that they do genuinely like me, but can’t work up the nerve to ask me out. I believe it’s not a black and white question of whether someone likes me or not. It is a spectrum, which runs from indifference to true love. Most men that message me fall into the left side of the spectrum – they think I’m attractive “enough” to at the least have sex with, to infatuation, to openness to potential for a relationship. But “enough” for sex, for nights that they are bored or lonely or want company while they are getting drunk, hoping I’ll get tipsy and have sex with him – they aren’t “enough” for me. I need a man who likes me enough to actually ask me on a date, enough to see planning a date, paying for the date as worth it to him. I always perfectly happy with a no cost date if that’s important to the man, but for me, the value of having the man pay for the date is to show me that he values my company enough for him to have value in his eyes. Extended phone chats don’t offer value to me, because they come across as insecurity about not being liked if they show up in person, or as his putting me in the FWB category. It’s the male equivalent of friendzoning.

          It’s important to me to have a husband that will take the lead in our social life. I’ve already had a marriage where I was the one who was in charge of planning, of having all the initiative. A relationship like that….it’s like being a parent, not a partner. And it takes me out of feminine energy, which isn’t good for a marriage, either.

          I’ve seen man after man pick one woman out of a crowd and pursue her. No matter how many things about her that seem to be deterrents, they don’t seem to matter. Men like the one they like. She’s not even always the hottest, the richest or any other thing you would think would be attractive. When a man likes someone, that’s who he likes. Conversely, you can be an amazing woman, but if he doesn’t like you, there’s nothing you can do to change that.

          That’s true for men too. I’ve been pursued by several men who viewed me with what can only be called “worship” (this is from just meeting me, without getting to know the real me), who really wanted to be in a relationship with me, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t accept worship based on something other than who I am as a person. Even when I thought they were good people, without a minimum in chemistry on both sides, it goes nowhere. It’s a hard truth.

        3. Jeremy

          Nissa, you wrote, “It’s important to me to have a husband that will take the lead in our social life. I’ve already had already had a marriage where I was the one who was in charge of planning…it’s like being a parent, not a partner.”   

           

          I think we each believe we bring certain things to a relationship, and want certain things back from a partner.   One partner might bring the finances while the other brings the social, for example.   But wanting a partner who brings the lion’s share of both the financial and the social?   Begs the question – what will you bring?   I’m sure you have an internal answer to this question, but it’s important to realize that although a man who is courting you actively might be happy to take the lead on the social for a while, once hedonic adaptation sets is (as it will), he will begin to ask himself exactly what you bring to the relationship.   And it needs to be more than just “feminine energy.”

           

          I once dated a girl who described her father as bringing in all the income, taking care of everything his wife needed, while she spent her time taking care of the kids and herself.   I asked her what, exactly, her mother brought to the table in terms of her relationship with her dad.   “He brings the income, he expends all the effort, romance is what he does for her and not vice-versa.   So what exactly does she do?” I asked.   “Why, she brings the class,” she replied.   No man I know wants a long-term relationship with a woman who believes her job is to bring the class.   In a relationship where the man is bringing the lion’s share of the finances, having the woman deal with the social is not an unfair burden, it’s the least she can do.   IMHO.

        4. Emily, to

          Nissa,
          It does get on my nerves, but I try to view it as a necessary evil. And it may be that they do genuinely like me, but can’t work up the nerve to ask me out.   … It’s important to me to have a husband that will take the lead in our social life. I’ve already had a marriage where I was the one who was in charge of planning, of having all the initiative.
          Well, if you don’t mind me saying this, if you want a man to take the initiative, then a man who still hasn’t worked up the nerve to ask you out after presumably exchanging dating site messages and   emails and then talking on the phone isn’t the man for you. He’s going to need too much reassurance and prodding.

        5. Emily, to

          Jeremy,

          think we each believe we bring certain things to a relationship, and want certain things back from a partner.   One partner might bring the finances while the other brings the social, for example.   But wanting a partner who brings the lion’s share of both the financial and the social?  

          Where in her answer does she say anything about the man bringing the financial? She wants a masculine man who leads instead of one where she has to lead or at least do a lot of the prodding. I have a male friend who will never ask a woman out unless she makes it very, very clear she’s interested. Meaning she hands him her phone number. I’m assuming Nissa wants the opposite of that. It’s a matter of his energy and personality.

        6. Nissa

          Jeremy,
          You are framing my words as a demand by me for what I want, what I need. It’s not. I have known people who are leaders, who enjoy being social and generous. Those are the things they offer, because that’s who they are, it’s what they want to offer – not because someone else demands it. I’ve observed that they consistently value company, particularly company that provides multiple levels of what they desire – someone that makes them feel admired, important, needed, desired, liked for who he really is, who sees his wants and needs as important. Given the choice between time alone, and time with someone who offers the above, the people I’ve known prefer the company more often than not. People who are leaders appreciate someone who isn’t always challenging him, confronting him over every point. People who want to lead, want followers. People who like to talk, want listeners. People who want to be social, want people who are willing to socialize with them, to say yes when they make suggestions, to witness their big moments and clap when they do something impressive.

          I see a lot of women who aren’t willing to offer the above. They want to be the driver – like so many of Evan’s smart, strong, successful women – who really aren’t interested in being that kind of woman. They want to be the leader, to prove their points. A lot of women aren’t interested in listening, admiring, laughing at jokes they’ve heard 20 times already, saying yes, and prioritizing making her man feel good. I do, and I don’t see any reason to apologize for it.

          So what does a woman do to bring value when the man brings the financial and the social? She brings the thing that men value most – the reflection of himself in her eyes. She sees him as his best self, as a prize, as having value – all the things that we most often wish to see about ourselves, and can’t. Another way to say it, is to have unconditional love for him. Most of us have never had that, not even from our mothers. That vision of himself is something most men value very highly. It’s something you can’t buy, not with money or a ring. When a man finds that – he’s going to want to get that for himself and beat every other guy out of the contest.

        7. Yet Another Guy

          @Nissa

          Another way to say it, is to have unconditional love for him.

          You are living with a fantasized view of the world.   No one loves his/her partner unconditionally.   For example, would you love such a man after he cheated on you unconditionally?   No, your love would more than likely be conditioned on his remaining faithful to you; hence, your love would be conditional.

           

        8. Nissa

          YAG,

          I have been cheated on, and I find that I still love the men who have done so. There’s a huge difference between loving someone and doing nothing while someone violates your boundaries. In both cases, since both of them wanted to continue seeing other women, I let them know that that wouldn’t work for me, and left the relationship. Was my staying in the relationship conditional on their fidelity? Yes.

          But the love is still there. It’s been over 30 years for one, and 20 for the other, and my heart would still skip a beat if either of them walked into the room. I’ve never had that experience of “growing tired” of someone I loved. So I am not at all concerned about the light being dimmed in my eyes.

          Jeremy, I’m sure that you know that your non-garbage toting friend falls on the extreme side of the spectrum. Of course both partners should contribute. When a man lets me know what he wants and what he needs, I’m almost always willing to provide it. I just think it’s arrogant to assume I know better than he does, how things will be, before I get to know him. My starting metric is his happiness. Sometimes a little negotiation is involved, but I’m good at finding a win-win.

          What’s funny is I don’t see this as passive or subservient at all. Listening is an active, nurturing act which in no way makes me not equal. As Jeremy points out, it’s not one sided – I expect him to honor me too, if not necessarily by the same behavior.

        9. Marika

          Hi Nissa

          Perhaps I’m missing something, but the way you are expressing your ideal relationship does sound (to me) extreme – just as extreme as a woman who refuses to take out the garbage. Again, perhaps something is getting lost in translation, but the way it comes across is that you want a man who is a leader both at work and at home, and that your contribution is nurturing and supporting his wishes unconditionally. Almost like you only exist to serve him. If that is something that you are finding men are valuing, that’s great, but if it’s not getting you the kind of dates or the relationship you desire, my suspicion as an outside observer is that perhaps passivity (or pick a better word if that word is misleading) is being taken to the extreme.

        10. Mrs Happy

          Re “..your contribution is nurturing and supporting his wishes unconditionally. Almost like you only exist to serve him.”

          Marika, that basically describes the stay-at-home women I’m surrounded by, in the social circles I move in via my childrens’ expensive schools.   The serving/listening/agreeing/nurturing/always sacrificing to his wishes woman, seems to be what a certain type of incredibly rich, absent-from-home-a-lot, man wants.   (These are the women that drive me off the reservation with their narrow focus on only home and hearth, and have literally no aspirations for themselves.)   Maybe Nissa would really suit one of these men?   I’d rather cut a finger off myself, but each to their own.

        11. Nissa

          Mrs Happy,

          Your comment about cutting off a finger cracked me up. And I totally understand why you would say it. Of course, a one sided relationship where one person gives and the other person takes, doesn’t sound good at all. Maybe those women you see are giving too much. I know I have in previous relationships. However, I would not consider myself one of them. I have a serious commitment to spirituality and personal growth that exists totally outside my primary relationship. I will very likely have my own business and write books for the rest of my life. So, having taken care of myself and my needs first, I have more to give. Because I’m extremely sensitive, I require more time alone than the average bear, so a businessman who works a higher number of hours would suit me fine. And as someone who is childfree (childless by choice), the idea that I’m focused on home and hearth makes me giggle. Me, the woman who caters Thanksgiving? Ha.

          I’m already a person who is going to love unconditionally, nurture, support and prioritize. That’s going to be true no matter who I’m with, because it’s a function of who I am and the kind of person I wish to be. But when I tried to be who I am, and provide money and provide logistics for social interactions, it was too much for me. I would crash.

          And when I say social, I think perhaps others mean something else by it than I do. I don’t mean big stuff, I mean little stuff – the interactions that bring us together as a couple. Things like going for  a drive and exploring somewhere new to make new couple memories. Going for a walk, go bike riding, go in the backyard and gaze at the stars, lying on our backs while we hold hands. Going to the park, feeding the ducks. And sometimes, having dates, going on trips, seeing friends, traveling, and trying new things. My job is to respond to his initiative, which is not passive at all. It’s choosing him, over and over. It’s my part of the balance. After all, where would Holmes be without Watson?

    2. 4.2
      Paula

      trult it just seems men like who they like…be hot.   That’s what matters.

      Nissa, I am frequently told I’m well above average looking and I run into the same issues you describe, all the time.   I think part of it is so many men have adopted the mentality of dating as a numbers game and they cast so many lines, that sometimes when a woman engages with him it’s as if he doesn’t know what to do next.   I met a guy a couple of weeks ago for a drink and it was the most painfully awkward first meeting I’d ever had, so much so that I asked him the next day if there was some problem with the way I presented myself.   His answer?   I was lovely and polite, but he’d been ‘in a funk’ lately and probably shouldn’t have met me that evening.

      If EMK knows from experience that minimizing the text communication could avoid that outcome, I’m willing to try it.

       

       

      1. 4.2.1
        Nissa

        Paula,

        Well, it’s reassuring that other women are having this experience, too! I think it’s the fantasy. The online site seems like a video game, like all these great possibilities, but when they meet an actual woman, reality crashes in and they don’t know what to do. Suddenly the possibility of being rejected pops up and they are more concerned about minimizing that, than they are about taking advantage of the opportunity to get to know someone new and just let things take their course. It’s a shame really.

        1. Marika

          Hi Nissa

          You say:  I need a man who likes me enough to actually ask me on a date, enough to see planning a date, paying for the date as worth it to him. Then later that you can’t accept being valued for anything other than the real you, not to have sex with or just to be picked out as a sex object.  

          To me those two thoughts contradict each other. If a man actively pursues you online, plans, pays for a first date…when he doesn’t know you and can’t really value you (yet), the most likely motivator is sex, or something to do with the physical. To be honest, there isn’t much romance in a first date with a stranger. I’d say he’s unlikely drawn in by feminine energy, as he sees that everywhere, online, on FB, on billboards…

          IME the type of men who confidently and actively plan, pay and pursue aren’t the ones who also very patiently and happily wait for sex. If they like being in charge, they like being in charge – and are used to getting their own way.

          If you want a generous but also very sensitive man, which I get the sense you do, I would ease up on the requirement that they organise and pay for everything. Bring teamwork to the table.

        2. Nissa

          Marika,

          Of course you are right in that the initial draw is the physical. I don’t object to that, when a man first  sees me, talks to me, spends time with me. It’s that I expect evolution from that point. I expect that at some point during dating, that he will realize that he also likes me as person, that I’m providing value to him beyond beauty or sex. How long does that take? A while. That’s when he will begin to value my company for more than the physical. That’s when I would consider offering the physical, because that’s when it’s being seen as part of who I am. What troubles me is when their blindness doesn’t wear off, when they still seem to agree to everything I say, have no passion of their own. It’s not real, and therefore it’s hard to connect with someone who is not being his real self with me. By pretending to be the person they think I will like, they actively prevent me from engaging with them, so things tend to die off.

      2. 4.2.2
        Yet Another Guy

        @Paula

        I think part of it is so many men have adopted the mentality of dating as a numbers game and they cast so many lines, that sometimes when a woman engages with him it’s as if he doesn’t know what to do next.  

        You are correct in your assertion men who desire to be successful on dating sites adopt the mentality that online dating is a numbers game because that is the way the game has to be played.   However, your assertion that a man does not know what to do when a woman engages him is wrong.   Most men who are playing this game know exactly what they are doing.   When man comes across as not knowing what he is doing, it is usually due to you not being number one in his date queue.   In that case, he is searching for a way to keep you on the hook.   Being “in a funk” is a polite way of saying that his mind was on another woman, but he did not want to blow the possibility of a second date with you (i.e., you are a backup plan).   What Evan writes about a man making a strong move on you if he is interested is absolutely true.

        1. Paula

          @YAG

          so how is that an effective strategy for the man?   If a guy isn’t attracted to me that’s one thing, but if he can’t even be bothered to hold up his end of a 45-min conversation I definitely won’t be seeing him again (per your claim that I’m not at the front of his dating queue) which will be the case regardless of his attributes.   If I play this out in my mind it would seem he ends up with women who are arguably less desirable (fewer dating options, desperate, etc.).   Is a man’s time of so little value to him that he’d set up dates he has no genuine intention of engaging with?

      3. 4.2.3
        Yet Another Guy

        @Paula

          If I play this out in my mind it would seem he ends up with women who are arguably less desirable (fewer dating options, desperate, etc.).   

        And you would be wrong!   Much like breadcrumbing, it is a dating strategy used by many men to keep women in whom they are less interested on the hook.   I can assure you that I have done it in the past, maybe not to that extreme, but I did manage to buy time while I was working on my first choice.

        The reality is that men quickly learn that a surgical approach to sending out initial contact messages is a complete waste of time on a dating site; therefore, men develop techniques for ranking and maintaining the women who respond.   It is no different than what most women do when they are contacted by men.   The difference is that men have to initiate.

        The reality is that there will always be a power imbalance in a relationship when it comes to options.   Men give up their options when they settle into a relationship whereas women never give up their options because men will continue to hit on them.   A man who continues to hit on other women to maintain his options while he is in a relationship will not be in that relationship very long.

        Is a man’s time of so little value to him that he’d set up dates he has no genuine intention of engaging with?

        Absolutely!   You clearly do not know how men think or operate.   Men are opportunists.   Have you heard of the “Tinder Effect?”   When presented with a swipe left/swipe right user interface, men tend to swipe right on nearly every women that is presented to them; thus, giving women a false sense of desirability, which, in turn, results in women becoming even more selective on swipe left/swipe right sites.   The reality is that men swipe right and then decide if they are interested when a match is made, and even then, interest is ranked.   There are matches a man will engage with girlfriend status in mind and women who are seen as easy sex targets.

        In the end, it is all about risk management.   Men have to deal with a level rejection that most women cannot being to imagine.     As Evan has mentioned, the average man endures more rejection in one month on a dating site than the average woman will endure in her lifetime.   Any women who responds favorably to an initial contact message becomes an option to be ranked with other women who respond favorably.

  5. 5
    Tron Swanson

    I’m not a big fan of texting, myself…but for a different reason. I’d rather not have my day interrupted by text convos. I prefer to chat or video-chat via IM. That way, I can control when the conversation begins and ends. I don’t mind phone calls, but they don’t do much for me. I’m a very visual person.

    With the caveat that I’ve never dated…I have to say, I don’t quite understand this. It now isn’t enough to make an effort by asking her out and paying for the date; you have to put in effort before that, as well? I suppose that was always true, with chasing and all that, but I never really thought about it much. It just seems odd, to me. Put in effort, and the reward is that you get to put in more effort! Huh. Women can certainly choose men who make an effort, but they can’t actually make us do it. I see so many articles which claim that men “have” to do this or that for women, whether it’s relationship stuff or larger cultural stuff…but, no, we really don’t.

    I’ll be continuing my intermittent, low-effort numbers game. It’s far more effective–and far less depressing and time-wasting–than doing anything high-effort.

    1. 5.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You’ve been saying this for years, man. You’re entitled to do whatever you want with your life, but as I’ll remind you: my coaching is designed to help women avoid men like you. You’re right: men don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING. But if they don’t make a consistent effort with MY clients, they’ll get nothing from my clients, and will be left trolling for women with lower self-esteem and boundaries. I know that’s fine by you. But that doesn’t mean my advice is going to change. If a guy likes a woman and wants a relationship, he’ll organically make an effort without prodding. If he doesn’t make an effort, he should be summarily dismissed.

      1. 5.1.1
        Tron Swanson

        Evan,

        I suspect that, if you asked men to make a list of qualities they want in a woman, “high self-esteem” and “boundaries” wouldn’t crack the top ten, and maybe not the top one hundred. Most women I know have inflated senses of self-esteem, and are far too strict in terms of boundaries. It’s hard to threaten someone with the loss of something they don’t actually want or care about.

        Of course, since your clients are likely only interested in the top five or ten percent of men, I’m sure you’re perfectly fine with advice that alienates the vast majority of us.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I will admit, I don’t understand anyone who prefers a woman with low self-esteem and no boundaries. Without getting too personal, I would think it says a lot more about you than it does about the women with high self-esteem and healthy boundaries if you prefer a woman who doesn’t believe in her own self-worth and lets you walk all over her.

        2. Tron Swanson

          Just to be clear, I’m not necessarily saying that I prefer women with low self-esteem and no boundaries, just that they aren’t things I care about. I’ve literally never met a man who has said they want those traits in a woman, even phrased in a less jargon-ish way. “Fun” and “drama-free” and “hot” tend to be the things I hear men mention the most. There may very well be men who purposely seek out women with strong boundaries, but I suspect they mostly exist in women’s imaginations…

        3. Evan Marc Katz

          You don’t get it. Men may seek hot and fun. But if they’re looking for an LTR, she’d better have confidence and boundaries. Similarly, women may seek tall and rich, but if he’s not kind, consistent and commitment-oriented, there’s no point. Men NEED women who are healthy for partnership, whether they seek it or not.

        4. Tron Swanson

          That could very well be the case. But, I’ve spent a lot of time in online places where men talk to each other, and I’ve never heard them complain about their SO’s lack of confidence or boundaries. Alternately, I’ve also spent a lot of time in online place where women talk to each other, and I’ve frequently seen them complain about both height/income and the three less-exciting traits you mentioned. I think that you, and many other pro-status-quo relationship experts, are simply bending over backwards to create the illusion that men value traits they actually don’t–as a way of giving women hope, and keeping them from becoming as burned out as men.

        5. Evan Marc Katz

          ” I think that you, and many other pro-status-quo relationship experts, are simply bending over backwards to create the illusion that men value traits they actually don’t”

          Jesus, man. You’re right that they don’t value confidence and boundaries. Instead, they go for young and hot. And then they complain that she’s insecure and hysterical. My point isn’t that men DO value important qualities like this; it’s that they SHOULD. Same as women SHOULD value men who are kind, consistent, communicative, and commitment-oriented, instead of tall, rich and charismatic. Different genders, different blind spots, same results.

        6. Tron Swanson

          Ahh, good to know. My apologies for the misunderstanding.

          I’ve run across a lot of women who think that men *do* value those traits, sadly. It’s odd when they’re trying to attract you by doing things that make you shrug…but they never learn, as there are many orbiters and desperate men who will nod and agree with whatever they say. “Yeah, I love–boundaries, was it?–yeah, I love boundaries!”

  6. 6
    Big fan

    Evan,

    I own several of your books and love your work. It’s helped me get into two relationships that both ended up being the wrong ones, but I learned a lot. My biggest frustration with dating honestly is getting the guy to take the initiative to talk on the phone. If they ask me for my number (or worse, give me their number) they jump into texting and I don’t know how to suggest talking on the phone without appearing like i’m trying to lead things along when I really want the guy to lead. Should I just suggest the guy call me or is that too bold of a move?

    1. 6.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Tell him how to please you. If he does, he keeps on going. If not, he doesn’t. No need to be afraid of warmly and flitstiously showing him what you want from him. And if you don’t tell him, you can’t complain he’s doing it wrong.

    2. 6.2
      Marika

      Hey Big Fan

      I say something like “I’m loving our chats…if we’re feeling brave how about we go all old skool and hit that green dial button sometime? I vaguely remember that phones can be used for that too!.. ;)” or add in that I’d love to put a voice to a chat.

      I personally think it can be counter productive to get too hung up on the actual wording though…it shouldn’t matter too much how you ask and it’s best to come across as casual and un- rehearsed.

      I also take it on a case by case basis. One guy explained he hated talking on the phone and for him I let it go and met after just texting. He was a very nice guy – just a bit shy – and that was fine. I could have pushed him to call, but I didn’t want to make it awkward, or be inflexible. I had noted no red flags in his texts or profile.

  7. 7
    MilkyMae

    Why are coffee dates viewed as a dime-a-dozen? Is this a generational thing like talking on the phone? In my experience, landing any kind of date is time consuming and frustrating experience.   If get more than one “coffee” date in a month, i’m killing it.   Even when I was in my twenties.   Most online interactions go nowhere. Foot dragging is rampant.     Even discussing a first date on the phone can lead to nothing. Sometimes men are no shows on the first date. I read about people going on dozens of dates but I’ve never experienced this or witnessed this kind of dating prowess in real life.   I think if people valued a first time casual date, there would be less endless dating.

    1. 7.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @MilkyMae

      My personal experience has been that getting first dates is ridiculously easy. I went on 100 first dates in a little under two and half years (I met my current girlfriend on date number 98).   I also dated two women exclusively for three months each in that period of time, so 98 of those first dates occurred in about 22 months.     Had I not slowed down and stopped doing quick-and-dirty coffee dates, my number of one-and-done dates would have doubled.     I absolutely loathe coffee dates.

       

  8. 8
    Lynx

    Sweeping generalization time: it seems like many, many men are reluctant to take the initiative no matter what the relationship phase, even when they genuinely care. My boyfriend and I have been together for several years and I know he loves me like crazy — he rarely puts in any effort toward planning our time together. My sis just ended a months-long relationship where she was driving much of their activities; he’s trying to win her back but STILL takes the passive approach of texting such gems as, “So what’s the plan?” She’s been on a few dates with another very nice guy; after their first coffee date, he said, “So you’re the planning type, I’ll let you plan the next date”. Three or four dates later, he has yet to plan any of them (she’s friend-zoned him, not sure if he realizes it, yet).

     

    I first noticed how women owned the couple’s social calendar when I was a new mom. Regardless of whether the moms were stay-at-home or had paid employment, they were far more often to bear responsibility for making social plans of any kind, whether it was a date night or couples activity.

     

     

    Maybe it’s the water in my area, but the men I know just don’t seem especially motivated to initiate.

    1. 8.1
      Paula

      In my social circle I’d say the vast majority of women own the social calendaring out of concern for achieving and preserving status – it’s all about scheduling the play dates with certain families, making sure they keep tabs on which birthday parties Johnny and Susie are invited to, etc.   Granted this doesn’t translate exactly to the context of dating but generally I think compared to men, women take more notice of and place a higher value on where they and their partner go and what they do.   It’s not hard to imagine a group of single women one-upping each other with talk of what they did with their date over the weekend.   Within the dating context some women also use date planning to lead or push a man further along the path of a relationship.

  9. 9
    Marika

    Replying to Nissa’s reply to Jeremy

    Do the leader-type guys want a woman to be that passive and subservient? Or do they need a partner who takes up the slack with social & practical tasks?

    1. 9.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Let’s try this another way: what do women want? An easygoing guy who is agreeable but passive? Or a domineering guy who takes control but puts his opinions over yours? It’s a false dichotomy. People are usually on one side of the spectrum, but not purely one or the other.

    2. 9.2
      Anonymous

      Guys always told me they didn’t find me ‘boring’ like their exes because I challenged them. I like men that lead and I let them lead without a problem but there were times I made them work lol.

  10. 10
    Marika

    I guess I’m just trying to see people as real world humans, not ‘energies’ or whatever. Practically, in life, we need to get s$&t done. Don’t we want, need, a partner who contributes practically, not just emotionally?

    1. 10.1
      Jeremy

      I knew a woman who was obsessed with masculine/feminine energies.   She married a man who loved to see his reflection in her eyes.   After a few years they had kids, he was working all day and she was home with help.   I once stopped by her house to pick something up and saw a pile of garbage bags by the door.   She explained that she was leaving them there so her husband could see them and know to take them out.   I was dumbfounded – “He’s working all day and you’re home,” I said, “Why don’t you just take them to the curb?”   “That’s the man’s job,” she replied.   “If I had to take out the garbage I’d respect him less as a man.”   “And what does he respect YOU for,” I asked.   “Jeremy,” she laughed, “do you think I want a man who’d respect me for taking out garbage?”   I didn’t reply because if the so-obvious reflection of her reply eluded her, she wouldn’t appreciate it coming from me.   I did note, however, that her husband who once loved to see his reflection in her eyes now made every effort to be away from home as much as possible.

       

      It’s not that men don’t want a woman to admire us, we do, but ultimately she has to contribute something meaningful, something practical, to the relationship, something beyond energy and receptivity.   There has to be some semblance of equality in kind, of complimentarity.   IME the only guys who settle for less than this are those who worship the woman and are desperate for a relationship or sex (in general or with that particular woman).   But even those guys will eventually tire of one-sided bargains once hedonic adaptation sets in.

       

      In the outside world I am a leader-type guy.   I have a high-powered job, employ others, help people, get shit done.   If I have to come home to take control there too, when do I rest?   Men like me marry to make their lives easier, not harder.   My wife’s job as a wife is to make my life easier, more pleasant, when I get home.   Not to admire me while I do all the work. Geez, that’d get old fast.

      1. 10.1.1
        Lynx

        @Jeremy: I know I should just leave this alone, because many people have more articulately stated what I’m about to state.

        But, ouch! “He’s working all day and you’re home.” I stayed home with my kids the first five years after they were born, and it was way more exhausting than any paid job I’ve ever had. My husband was a pilot so he was literally gone half the time. Then, when he was home, he wanted time to get his personal stuff done. So, I pretty much had no time off. No lie, there was about a decade of my life where I could sleep late one day a year — Mother’s Day — and I was on duty 24/7 the rest of the time.

        Like I say, it’s a contentious issue that’s been debated ad nauseum, and I ought to have kept my anecdote to myself. If men marry women to make their lives, “easier, more pleasant”, then, what’s in it for the wives?

        1. Mrs Happy

          “..what’s in it for the wives?”

          Great question Lynx!   I don’t think I make my husband’s life easier, and I certainly do not consider it my wifely job to do so.   But some men consciously, deliberately choose a spouse, with such aims in mind.

          It’s fascinating how chores get divvied up in a marriage, and I suspect no-one from the outside can fully appreciate the nuances.   For all of us, there are all sorts of tasks that one or the other spouse does, and if a person does do a task that is usually their spouse’s, they often feel they’ve done extra, and deserve reward or thanks.

          Reading Jeremy’s garbage bag story, I concluded the woman is probably doing 98% of the practical and emotional and mental bandwidth tasks required to keep a home running and the kids alive, and the marital agreement in their private division of tasks, is that he takes out the rubbish.   She probably becomes irate if he doesn’t, and maybe he doesn’t understand why, just like Jeremy didn’t understand why she wouldn’t carry the bags to the bin.

          It’s not about the 20-second task that is the physical rubbish bag removal, it’s about a complex weave of “it’s his task, I’ve done everything else, and all he has to do is this, and he won’t even do this, which means the workload really isn’t fair, and I’m angry about what this means regarding respect and care and appreciation …. etc.”

          Lynx – I have trouble understanding why women in your position don’t say – ‘you’ve (pilot hubby) been gone 3 weeks, I’m going stir crazy without me time and time away from the kids, so I’m off to the gym and then out for lunch every day you’re home; you’re on kids and household chores xyz today.’   Why does he get to “get his personal stuff done” and not you?   It’s a serious question, I’m really curious, I see it happen the way you’ve described all the time (to other women, not me) – is it a power differential, or entitlement because of earning power and perceived worth, is it laziness, is it selfishness? (I think I should’ve been an anthropologist, I’m fascinated by the minutiae of people’s lives.)

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          If you don’t consider it your wifely duty to make your husband’s life easier, what does he get out of the relationship? Making each other’s life easier is essentially the POINT of marriage. Maybe try a new approach to your marriage and watch it improve. This is not gender based advice either. If a man is not helping to improve his wife’s daily life, he’s worthless as a husband as well.

        3. Jeremy

          Hi Lynx.   In the story I told above, I was careful to state that the woman “was home  with help.”   Like, full-time nanny help.   Frankly, even if she didn’t have the help, being the one at home she could easily have taken the trash to the curb.   It is neither difficult nor time consuming.   And no matter how busy I am at my office, I don’t demand that my wife take over when she comes to visit.

           

          If men marry women to make their lives easier, more pleasant, then what’s in it for the wives?”  This is such a common question nowadays, and I’m sorry if I find it a bit nonsensical because the answer should be obvious.   I was just watching a show on Netflix called “Working Moms” which portrayed the hellish lives of several women trying to balance work and home with newborns.   And the entire time I shook my head – the root of all their problems is the fact that they are trying to be 2 people, do 2 full-time jobs at once, and doing so is impossible!   Pick one, do the other part-time, and let your spouse pick up the slack!   Let your partner make your life easier…Otherwise what did you marry them for?

           

          What’s in it for my wife as she makes my life easier, more pleasant?   IDK, how about everything she always wanted, the reasons she married in the first place?   A lifestyle she never would have had, leisure she never would have had, a person to do the jobs, the roles, that she didn’t want to do or wasn’t good at?   But every woman knows this when she marries.   The problem isn’t that marriage doesn’t provide women with anything, it’s that they so often hedonically adapt to those things and stop realizing exactly what they got/are getting.   It’s human nature.   Mrs Happy asks why women have to fawn over men, not realizing that courtship and romance are ALL about how men fawn over women.   When women think about how men want women to make them feel good, they wonder why men need the fawning.   When men think about how women want courtship, romance, and gifts, they wonder why women need the fawning.   BOTH need the fawning.   Both give, both get….differently.

        4. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, a while back I had to fire my financial advisor.   I discovered that my investments had been losing money for quite some time in spite of it being a bull market.   I called my advisor in for a meeting to discuss why he hadn’t taken any corrective action.   And he told me that while he understood that I was upset at the loss, he felt he’d been doing his job.   “Doing your job?” I asked, “your job is to make money for me.   How on earth were you doing your job when I’ve lost money in years of a bull market?”   He replied, “My job is to create a retirement plan for you, create investment plans, manage a portfolio.   I’ve been doing all those things.”   I shook my head, partly at him and partly at myself.   I had hired a guy  who literally did not know what his job was.   Did not understand the role he’d been hired to do.

           

          It’s not that “some men” marry to make their lives easier.   I don’t know a single man anywhere who did not marry primarily to make his life more pleasant and easier.   Of course that’s not the only reason, there’s the whole pie chart as we’ve discussed elsewhere, but if she’s not making his home life easier and more pleasant, she is literally not doing the job she was “hired” to do.   This gets so lost in the jumble for so many wives, who are trying to extrapolate their own jumble of priorities (lifestyle, status, appreciation, love, meaning, etc) onto men.

           

          Seriously, I recall one summer when my wife was on vacation for 2 months, the kids were at camp, and the nanny and cleaner were taking care of all the household duties.   I would literally come home every day to find her exhausted from planning house re-decoration.   Day after day I’d come home to an exhausted wife who had no interest in doing anything for me, and after a while I spoke to her about it.   “I don’t understand,” I said, “If I had been off for 2 months while you worked and had few responsibilities, you’d come home every day to your favourite meal, a massage, and pretty much anything you’d want.   Because the couple of hours it’d take for me to arrange all that would be nothing compared to all the hours you worked.”   “You have no appreciation,” she replied, “why aren’t you proud that I’m taking such initiative to beautify our home?   I’m working myself ragged to try to impress you with everything I’m doing here.”   “Your intentions are good,” I replied, “But misguided.   All these household re-decorations – are they what  I  want, or what  you  want?   If you made a list of all the things you do for me, you’d put them on that list.   But if you made a list of what I want from you, would it be there?”

           

          Men marry to make their lives easier, more pleasant.   Women mistake their own priorities for those of men.

        5. Lynx

          @Mrs Happy

          “Why does he get to “get his personal stuff done” and not you?”

          Because I chose the wrong mate. I went for the exciting Alpha guy who was a blast to date, but was not cut out for family life. He focused on his needs at the expense of anyone else’s — it works great if you share his exact same goals, not so hot if you have goals of your own.

          A friend once commented, “He doesn’t want a wife. He wants a personal assistant”.

          Another friend observed, “He’s not just a Type A, he’s a Type Double A.”

          He would use anger, verbal abuse and physically threatening behavior to get his way. I would capitulate to keep the peace. The day he held my head under water during an argument was the day I left.

          So, yeah, @Jeremy and @EMK, I’m a little confused about a wife’s obligation to make her husband happy.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          There’s nothing confusing about it, Lynx, unless you think advice only goes in one direction. A husband’s obligation is to make his wife happy. If he fails, she should dump him. Same story. You’re just focused on the fact that you married a selfish jerk as evidence that you should – what? not try to make future partners happy? Give more and you’ll get more. If you don’t get more, get out. It ain’t brain surgery.

        7. Lynx

          @EMK: On reflection, the concept that bristles is the idea that anyone can make anyone else happy. My husband is a deeply unhappy person, down to his core; he’s in a relationship with a kind, wealthy woman who caters to his needs and yet he’s still unhappy.

          I’m now in a LTR with a guy who is fundamentally a contented person and who routinely examines his own behavior to tweak anything he feels need tweaking. He’s not rich, tall or handsome, but he’s smart, witty and perceptive. He deserves a woman who is good to him, and I try to be that person (clearly, I’m a little ptsd so I’m working on improving).

          Actually, that’s why I started reading your blog — to get a better understanding of men to be a better girlfriend to him.

          Does he feel happy around me? Yes. But do I make him happy? No.

        8. Evan Marc Katz

          You’re unnecessarily parsing terms, Lynx. The point is that we all deserve partners who make a consistent effort to please us. It’s not much more complicated than that.

        9. Nissa

          Lynx,

          I actually very much agree with you, that we can’t actually make someone else happy. That’s an internal process that is only superficially connected to the actions of others. That is always the responsibility of each of us. However, when we marry, we enter a contract which says we agree to honor the other person to the best of our ability. This means the well being and happiness of that person is to be regarded as equal in importance to our own. However, the things person A needs might be wildly different than person B. Accountability means speaking our needs, doing what we can to meet them from within if at all possible, asking for help when we can’t, and not blaming or judging others help is more than they can offer at that time, and tempering all of the above with unconditional love.

        10. Lynx

          @Nissa: “However, the things person A needs might be wildly different than person B.”

          Here’s a challenge I’ve grappled with in relationships: acknowledgement that our traits exist on a spectrum, and one end may benefit the partner while the other may not.

          Silly example (and not from my life!): Person A is meticulously well-groomed and Person B gets an ego boost from being seen with them. But, Person A is perpetually running late because it takes them forever to get ready, which irks Person B. To function well as a couple,  Person B must determine which is more important: ego or punctuality.

          Again, silly example, but it seems to me problems arise when we want only the “good” side of the trait and are intolerant of the “bad”.

        11. Lynx

          @EMK: if I were in my 20s and we were debating this topic in a bar, I wouldn’t let it go. Happily, I’ve matured. I appreciate your blog and your commenters, I’ve learned a lot.

           

          (And continue to believe I cannot make anyone happy!)

        12. Evan Marc Katz

          Lynx, since I haven’t matured, you CAN make someone happy. You just have to choose a guy who appreciates you instead of giving all your efforts to men who don’t.

        13. Jeremy

          Lynx, I wrote above about a person knowing what his/her job is in marriage.   I believe that each spouse has 2 jobs when it comes to the relationship – trying to make the other person happy, and allowing themselves to BE made happy by the other person’s efforts. Neither should be very effortful, especially not the second.   If either is very effortful, the relationship is likely not a good one.

           

          Too often I tell bad stories, when the good ones are far more common.   Last night I came home after a long day at work and a literal blizzard outside.   My wife made me a hot meal and we sat together by the roaring fireplace, drank our tea, listened to each other’s stories about our day, and laughed together.   Made me very happy.   Lifted my mood right up.   I’m sure it did the same for her.   Tell me again how a person can’t make another happy?

        14. Mrs Happy

          Evan asked above why I don’t consider it my wifely duty or job to make my husband’s life easier, and suggested I start doing this, and my marriage may improve.   He postulated that is the point of marriage – to make someone’s life easier.     (Begs the consideration – Should improvement be constantly increasing, like always-rising workplace key performance indicators?   How do we know when we’ve reached our peak?)

          I now appreciate why Evan feels so irritated when commenters give him unsolicited relationship advice about the marriage which he and his wife find works well for them.

          At no stage of my life have I got engaged or married in order to make my life easier.   It has not crossed my mind that should be on the list of reasons to couple up.

          At no point in time did I think I should regularly do jobs in an adult relationship for another adult.   I do jobs at my paid work.   I do child-rearing jobs all day and night for minor children who can’t yet do those tasks themselves.

          I just am me, in the couple relationship.   This automatically includes hundreds of things a week getting done, but because I have to do them to live, or want to do them to enjoy life.   I don’t understand.   The stuff Nissa lists is just common sense – is that being defined as a wifely job now?

          Anyway in the interest of clarifying whether the marriage I’m in, is the one my husband wants, I asked him this morning whether there were any jobs I should do to make his life easier, and whether this was a wifely ideal that was a standard expectation.   He is still thinking about it.   I suspect it hasn’t crossed his mind that my job description should include regularly making his life easier, just like it never crossed my mind, but I will see.

        15. sylvana

          Mrs. Happy,

          I have to agree with you. If I want someone to make my life easier, I’d HIRE someone. That’s what hired help is for.

          I’ve not once ever thought of relationships as making each other’s lives easier. Short of maybe the fact that it is easier to live on two incomes rather than one. And maybe splitting the chores, but there’s also twice the work, so that evens that out. Life being easier is definitely not one of the perks I’d associate with relationships.

          Personally, there is no way I’d ever be a stay-at-home spouse unless an actual salary was provided which I can then pay back in money for room and board. I hire people to cook my meals, clean my house, and run errands. I’m well aware of how much “my life being easier” costs.

          As someone who hires people for those jobs, I also cannot understand how you can treat your spouse like hired help on one hand (by basically holding the fact that you’re bringing home money over their heads), then expect them to love and cherish you at the same time.

          Once children come into play, you can forget your life being easier.  Being a stay-at-home parent is a 24/7 job. Anyone who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. If you’re bringing in the money, I’d recommend hiring someone to do all of the work you’re not doing for one week. And see how much it costs.

          You better be filthy rich if you want a housekeeper, cook, 24/7 child caretaker, personal assistant to the children, secretary, and whore. The fair hourly wages would be staggering.

           

        16. Evan Marc Katz

          Sylvana: A coincidence that you’ve never thought of relationships as making life easier and the fact that you’re not in a relationship?

        17. sylvana

          Evan,

          Nope. No coincidence at all. There are reasons I choose to be single. And these comments completely validate them. I love reading this blog because it validates my choice all the time. And because it gives one fascinating insights to human behavior in general.

          As to making each other’s lives easier. It’s technically not possible. You can make certain aspects of each other’s life easier, but, by doing so, you’re also making other aspects of your life harder. They cancel each other out.

          It’s a trade-off at best. You’re handing over certain responsibilities, but you also take on more responsibilities of a different kind in return.

          At best, you’ll save yourself a few miles driving, if your store is closer to his work and his store is closer to yours. But you’re both still making a trip to the store.

          It’s not really easier to pay someone to clean the house for you. Because that money has to come from somewhere. One way or the other, you’re working to have that house cleaned.

          It’s always easier to worry about just yourself than two people.

           

           

           

           

           

        18. Evan Marc Katz

          You seem to hold independence in a much higher value than I do. But you’ve completely turned love into a zero sum game, which it’s not. I’m going to work full time anyway, but it provides me extra joy knowing that I can pay for my entire family. I’m going to do the dishes anyway, but it provides me a little extra joy that it makes my wife’s night a little bit easier. The bed has to be made, so what if I take it off her plate when she’s rushing to get the kids off to school? By your calculations, every bit of energy I spend improving my wife’s life is a loss; in mine, it’s a gain. This is how healthy relationships work – when both parties feel this way. If I do it and my wife resents making a similar effort, the whole thing falls apart. I would posit that you’d enjoy having a man pay for your meals, wake you up with breakfast in bed, listen to you vent after a hard day, or fix your wireless connection instead of having to do everything yourself, but I could be wrong.

      2. 10.1.2
        sylvana

        Jeremy,

        apparently you don’t think bearing, birthing, and rearing your children is anything a woman should be valued or respected for. She is the mother of his children. That, alone, deserves a ton of respect. The physical and health sacrifices she had to make are substantial.

        1. Jeremy

          Nonsense.   I understand and respect all of those things quite well.   The mistake that gets made too often is to undervalue the contributions of men in the face of women’s contributions.   Women carry a child for 9 months and deserve to be respected for that.   Men carry the women who carry the child.

      3. 10.1.3
        Nissa

        Jeremy,

        The other part of making a man’s life easier and more pleasant is largely physical. Having sex on tap is one of the simplest ways to keep a man happy. Men tend to experience life as easy when they don’t have to seek out and convince new women all the time, especially when there’s a reasonable amount of variety at home. Having the foods he likes in the fridge when he gets home. Knowing that when he gets home, he needs 30 minutes to decompress before I hit him with any requests. A woman that knows when to NOT talk is of extremely high value, IMO. That’s both practical and meaningful. What’s most important is to really pay attention when the man tells you what is most important to him. I expect him to tell me what he’s willing to do or which tasks he prefers, or prefers I do for him. I get to choose if that’s acceptable to me or not (or if it is best done by a 3rd party). I don’t need to agree with him, value what he values, or enjoy what he enjoys to prioritize that, simply because it makes him happy – and seeing him happy makes me happy.

  11. 11
    Mrs Happy

    Above, Nissa writes,
    “She brings the thing that men value most — the reflection of himself in her eyes. She sees him as his best self, as a prize, as having value — all the things that we most often wish to see about ourselves, and can’t. Another way to say it, is to have unconditional love for him.”
    It’s an echo of Evan’s “men want to feel good around you – the main thing is, that you make us feel good about ourselves”.
    It perplexes me somewhat. My main role in a relationship is to affect the way you feel about yourself? Why? Why do you (=all men) need such a cheer squad? Women don’t. Why can’t you have internalised self-worth, and not need an booster audience and fawning partner? Why is my main worth in making you feel a certain way? Why is it all about you (the man)?

    Nissa, some people on this blog like to mention hedonic adaption, and I’ve got to say, it’s going to be mightly hard to keep having completely unconditional love at year 2,6,10, 20 into marriage. Basically it’s not going to happen. So then, after the light has dimmed from your eyes, what would you bring to the relationship?
    BTW The reason people never receive unconditional love from even their mothers, is that humans cannot unconditionally love others (or even themselves).

    I don’t think most women want to lead. I think many want to be equal partners, not have rounded shoulders from decades of sitting forwards, muted, listening silently to their wonderful storytelling man.

    1. 11.1
      Jeremy

      I agree with 99% of your comment except this: “Why do you (=all men) need such a cheer squad? Women don’t.”   This made me laugh so loud I had to clean my drink off the keyboard.   Remind me why you like your ring.

      1. 11.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Well I don’t like the ring because it’s a cheer.   I value it because it’s an expression of love and commitment.

        Men do not get told to date women with the main aim of making women feel good about themselves.   To say a whole gender should fawn over another is quite diminishing.

        1. Jeremy

          I brought up your ring because you mentioned in another post that looking at it makes you happy because it reminds you of your husband’s feelings for you.   The care with which he chose it, the sacrifice he made in the purchase, the adherence to social conventions, the warding off of competitors – the tangible object is a reminder of his feelings for you, and THOSE FEELINGS make you happy.   Men are no different, except insofar as we have different reminders of our partner’s feelings for us.   My wife has almost as many carats on her hands as fingers on them….whereas I have only the fingers.   If she sometimes listens to my storytelling, well, that reminds me of her feelings toward me.

           

          Of course, I listen to her stories too, and consider it my job to make her feel good.   Who said it was one-sided?

        2. Marika

          Jeremy

          That’s fair. Playing the game of “why does the opposite sex want x if I don’t..” rarely ends well! We see it on here from time to time when a man doesn’t want to give a woman what she wants as it doesn’t make sense to him and isn’t what he wants. Sometimes we just do things (including things we don’t entirely understand) to make our partner happy. For me, it’s only an issue if the balance shifts to one person doing most or all of the giving.

          In terms of energies, it’s interesting, the women I know of who talk about feminine energy and being in your feminine etc. are themselves savvy business people. They are managing businesses and websites and writing books and promoting themselves and coaching people. I think it’s unlikely they would recommend spending a lifetime (or a marriage) entirely in your feminine. In fact, even child raring which is traditionally a more female enterprise is actually ‘masculine’, as feminine is receiving but dealing with kids is pretty much entirely give, give, give 🙂 I thought the idea was to bring feminine energy to things like date nights, but to shift in order to achieve goals, including the goal of a partnership with all of the day to day practical stuff it entails.

      2. 11.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        Well CB, it’s hard to decide whether I would prefer my comments make you turn your computer off and ponder for a while and stretch those little grey cells, or mess up your keyboard with laughter …. oh no, hang on, it’s not a hard choice at all.

  12. 12
    Erin

    I’m a big fan of a 15-20 minute phone call before meeting a man. It brings life to the profile that I swiped on.

    A quick phone call has also aided in screening out men who are complete homophobes or MGTOWs, as well as men who make a conversation feel like a job interview.

    It is a small investment of time and energy and it allows me to choose to invest more time & energy with someone or stop communication altogether.

  13. 13
    Amy

    I’m going to have to say unequivocally that #4 is hogwash.   The fastest way to see a guy disappear is to hint that you do something (anything, really) other than IM though the site.

    Me: “It’s been great IMing you through the site these last two weeks, maybe we can move this to email, which allows for more in depth conversations.”
    DUDES: “I like to take is slow.   I was thinking we could just keep this up for the next 4 or 5 months and see where it goes.”

    Me: (to texting man) “I’ve got a phone in my hand and you’ve got a phone in yours. I’d love to hear your voice.   I’m sure you can figure out how to make that happen.”
    DUDES: “I’m not a fan of phone calls, LOL.” (Never hear for him again, delete his number.)

    Me: “I’ve enjoyed texting you these last couple weeks.   We should get coffee sometime.”
    DUDES:   *Silence*   (Silence last forever, delete his number.)

    Me:   (In my profile) “I will go on an in-person date with anyone who wants to see On the Basis of Sex, staring my personal hero, RBG.”
    DUDES:   No dates, just more messages.   BECAUSE they only look at pictures and don’t bother to read the profile.

    1. 13.1
      Yet Another Guy

      @Amy

      You need to pick more wisely because you are being breadcrumbed.   Those guys are stringing you along while looking for the bigger, better deal.   While I am currently seeing someone, I rarely vanished after a woman suggested that we move things along.   Are these guys reaching out to you or vice versa?

      1. 13.1.1
        Amy

        @YAG
        They message me though the site.   Some will move to text, but others, like the 4 to 5 months guy, keep conversations entirely on the site.   If they don’t ask to meet in person w/in 2 weeks, I suggest we meet.   I’m not interested in a chat partner, texting buddy, or pen pal.   If they aren’t willing to meet in person, I reply, “That’s too bad because I am really looking to meet people,” then I move on.   I’ve never heard back from a man who declined to meet.

        1. Yet Another Guy

          @Amy

          If they don’t ask to meet in person w/in 2 weeks, I suggest we meet.

          Therein lies the problem!   If a guy does not move things along in two weeks, he is probably never going to do so.   When I mentioned that I rarely vanished after a woman suggested moving on, it was after a couple of days, not a couple of weeks.   In most cases, I was either on the fence or felt that she was on the fence; therefore, I needed to time to feel things out.    If I exchanged messages with a woman for more than week before moving things on, she could consider herself a chat buddy.   Guys who are interested boldly make a move or look for an opening to make a move.   You can make your life easier by moving things on quickly by giving the guy an opening.     If he does not respond, he is not interested.

          I am curious.   Who initiated contact in these cases?

           

        2. Amy

          @YAG
          I had to search my inbox to find the answer and the results are in:   Of the last 10 men I dropped after two weeks, 7 of them sent the first message and for 3 of them I sent the first message.

          When it comes to actually getting a date, I initiated contact every time.   I have yet to go on a date with a man who made first contact.

          Now I’m wondering if I should ignore all messages from men and focus only on the ones I messaged first.   It might save time.

        3. Amy

          @YAG
          As far as giving the guy an opening, I do try to drop hints.

          “I’d love to see On the Basis of Sex.”

          “The independent bookstore downtown is cerebrating their 73rd Birthday by having champagne for Chamber After Hours on Monday.   Books and champagne are a winning combination.”

          “Did you see that they just opened a new Starbucks on Campus?”

          “I’m thinking of going to Brew Fest next weekend.   I went last year and it was a lot of fun.”

          “I’m really excited to hear Claire Murphy read from her latest book.   Martin and Bobby is such an inspirational story.”

          Sometimes it feels like nothing works.

        4. Evan Marc Katz

          Maybe stop asking men out and let them do it when they’re ready, Amy. If he doesn’t ask you out by his own volition, he’s not that interested.

        5. Yet Another Guy

          @Evan

          Maybe stop asking men out and let them do it when they’re ready, Amy. If he doesn’t ask you out by his own volition, he’s not that interested.

          I concur wholeheartedly.   I am beginning to wonder if Amy is doing something to cause the men who are contacting her to loose interest or at least enthusiasm. I have reached out to a lot of women who I friend-zoned after a couple of messages because they caused me to lose interest in the possibility of being more than friends and I do not hookup, so that option is off of the table.   Just like women, men have triggers that cause them to sort women into one of three camps; namely, girlfriend material, sexy enough for a hookup, but nothing more, or she is never going to see me naked, but we may have fun platonic friend material. 🙂

          Of the hints that Amy dropped, I can only see one appealing to a guy; namely, the brew fest.   A guy will consider the other activities she suggested if he is interested in pleasing her.   However, in that case, he will take the initiative ask her out on a date.   If a woman initiates, all of her hints need to be activities that appeal to guys.   In that case, she needs to come off as fun and flirty while maintaining boundaries.

        6. Marika

          Haha. I actually agree with YAG about the suggested activities. Champagne at a bookshop or a book reading are things that may appeal to your friends or a long term partner. Apart from anything else, you can’t talk much at those events. I once had a guy suggest going to the library for a date…I’ll never forget it as it completely killed my buzz. Do I hate the library? No. But would I look forward to hanging out there with a stranger? Would I feel sexy and flirty? No and no.

          Those little things matter in the early stages as you don’t know each other and aren’t making many allowances. If you’re going to suggest dates (I’m from a culture where men do at times need some prodding or encouragement), suggest fun, open air or not with an imposed quietness component, lots of opportunities to speak and laugh activities. Save the serious, listening/learning type activities for later down the track. Unless you’re only into very intellectual and shy types (which is a possibility if you’re always initiating).

        7. Amy

          @YAG–Then I suspect my friends are all turning men off, too.   Five of us from the office got together and launched our profiles on December 1st.   Three of them have had no dates at all.   I had four dates: 3 married men (I didn’t know they were married until the second date), 1 midget.   Our secretary had three dates: 2 married men (same two that dated me) and one decent guy who became her boyfriend.

          There are 329 men within 50 miles of us, but only 136 of them have been online in the last 30 days.   Desperate, we created a dummy account of a man seeking a woman so we could view the competition.   There are 32 women within 50 miles of us and 14 have been online in the last 30 days.   When you subtract the 4 of us who still have our profiles up, that means there are only 10 other women out there, supposedly dating all 136 of the men who show no interest in us.   We are soooo tried of “girls night” ever single stinking Friday.

      2. 13.1.2
        K

        @Amy

        My current boyfriend and I chatted on the app back and forth for a bit and as soon as he found some fun excuse to ask me out he did.   I mentioned a place I had traveled to and he was going there later in the year and asked if we could have drinks to chat about it.   If not that, it would have been some other easy segue.   On the other hand, there were a few guys who endlessly chatted and when I found an opening and suggested we grab a drink they either went silent, gave one word answers and then faded, or said yes not so eagerly and then cancelled.   I only asked out b/c some male friends suggested that in response to my complaints.   I stopped doing it as any guy who likely thought I had potential just asked me out fairly quickly and those guys didn’t end up cancelling.   My point is ignore the noise and focus on the ones who do ask you out.   They are less common amongst the online chatters, but when they do I learned to appreciate them.   Hope that helps:).

      3. 13.1.3
        Nissa

        What Amy is describing may be common, especially as it is happening for all the ladies in her group. It’s what I get too – from the men that message me first (I know, because I almost never message a man first).

        From the Pew Research Center:    Two thirds of online daters–66%–tell us that they have gone on a date with someone they met through a dating site or dating app.   That is a substantial increase from the 43% of online daters who had actually progressed to the date stage when we first asked this question in 2005. But it still means that one-third of online daters have not yet met up in real life with someone they initially found on an online dating site.  http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/

         

  14. 14
    Jeremy

    I’ve probably already posted too much, but there’s one other really important point to make here.   Regarding my story about garbage bags above, Mrs Happy wrote, “It’s not about the 20-second task that is the physical rubbish bag removal, it’s about a complex weave of “it’s his task, I’ve done everything else, and all he has to do is this, and he won’t even do this, which means the workload really isn’t fair, and I’m angry about what this means regarding respect and care and appreciation …. etc.”    I have no doubt at all that she is correct – that this is exactly how the wife in the situation sees it.   But she is missing literally half the picture.

     

    One final story:   I was once sitting at the breakfast table reading the newspaper.   The kids were misbehaving and my wife was stressed out dealing with them.   She turned to me and yelled “Why the hell aren’t you helping me?   Why is this all on me right now?”   Fair question, no?   I’m sure it would seem, to both her and the women reading here that my wife was unfairly put-upon?   But take a step back for a moment and incorporate the larger story.   She was on summer vacation, I was not.   10 minutes from that time 3 of the kids would board a bus to camp, and the nanny would arrive to mind the 4th.   I would go to work for 12 hours while my wife had a schedule of gym, shopping, and a lunch-date with her friends.     I had 10 minutes to eat and read the paper.   She had the next 1o hours.   If the situation was at all unfair, to whom was it unfair?

     

    Women get pissed off when they think about all the things they do that men don’t do.   They forget the things men do that they don’t.   As they cry out for fairness I wonder if many would like how fairness would actually look.

    1. 14.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Point is that everyone keeps track of what he/she does and mentally keeps score, but most of us spend little time putting ourselves in the other’s shoes. Husbands should help out with housework and childrearing and appreciate how overwhelming it is to be a mother (especially a working mother), while women who have a breadwinning husband should appreciate that his contribution to pay for the entire operation IS his main contribution and endeavor to take additional burdens off his plate if possible. Fair is fair.

      1. 14.1.1
        Jeremy

        Yes.   And, in retrospect, I should have put down the paper and helped.   Because sometimes what’s “fair” doesn’t really matter if the goal is to lead a happy life.

    2. 14.2
      Marika

      Hi Jeremy

      I know you know this…but very few women in the world have things as cushy as your wife. In her case it’s very straightforward – I’m sure she’s a great mother and a nice person and all, but she’s also, frankly, quite selfish and blind to both your needs and how good she has it.

      In many, many, many women’s cases, it’s nowhere near as clear cut. Most women with children are are juggling children, careers/jobs, housework, homework, marriages etc with very little help, and do not have the luxury of ‘just choosing’ one job. You think it’s a choice for them? No, it’s a necessity. To juggle a million things so everyone can eat. And take main responsibility for those million things. Those women are legitimately feeling completely spent and taken for granted and have every right to say ‘honey the garbage is your job’ – those women (not your wife or the feminine energy woman) need that. If the man in that scenario can’t see that, he’s the selfish, blind one. And yes, they could divorce him, but then they end up financially even worse off.

      I sense your frustration at women who don’t get it. I’m personally feeling frustration at people who don’t seem to appreciate how the other half live.

      1. 14.2.1
        Mrs Happy

        I don’t think Jeremy’s wife is selfish, J is too smart and pragmatic to have chosen a selfish partner, and what he has written about her doesn’t support that. Think about what we know so far:

        She raises 4 kids while he works at least 5 days a week, and additionally he is away even more, at conferences and doing his university teaching.   I bet she has in various major ways allowed her career choices to take a backseat to his and to the need for family flexibility.   She has her own career working in paid work a few days a week, and it’s not a light easy job she breezes in and out of, it’s emotionally taxing, mentally draining, and straight after it finishes, she has to magically switch off, to race around picking up kids or go cook dinner or tend to a child’s needs.

        Their children are all in busy religious private schools at different stages, and so Mrs J has, weekly, dozens of items of info to be across for those children, reading and acting on all of which would easily take 8 hours a week – that’s another day in work for her (just not paid work) that she squishes in, not with the luxury of one 8-hour work day like J gets when he drives off to polite, adult-paced, relatively uninterrupted, interesting stimulating work, but in frantic dribs and drabs in short stolen moments: school notes, newsletters, emails, class group texts, extra-curricular arrangements, academic tasks and competitions, homework, charity functions, special occasion special school dress up days, carnivals, sport games and lessons, parties, playdates.   He wanted more sex, she provided it (even though she wanted downtime on Facebook after doing all this over the week).   If he wants kosher food, I bet it’s largely down to her to provide it, with all the excessive work including extra appliances management that requires the – woman of course – to do.

        J does not often make me angry, but a few months ago when he wrote that men know not to bother trying to multitask, because a person can only properly do one job at a time, I was filled with immediate rage.   He only gets that luxury because she does ALL the other things.   Her brain hurts at night from all the multitasking she constantly does.   So he gives her a neck massage, because he is a very nice man.

        Marika, I always sort of assumed everyone worked full-time at least, because I’d always worked long hours as had everyone I knew.   Then I had children, and I was home during typical working hours, and out at cafes and parks and swimming lessons etc, and I saw how much variation there is in the community – enormous numbers of people not at work.

        The juggle Mrs J is doing is more than the juggle the average Australian woman does – who by our census data, if she has kids under 16, either doesn’t work in paid work at all, or works casually or part time, and her job is a secretarial one (easy, light, not too emotionally draining), and she only has 2 kids (half the work), and they’re in public school (thus fewer notes, activities, newsletters, demands).

        Seriously, Mrs J is not lazy.   She is bloody exhausted.

        1. Jeremy

          This is mostly correct.   My wife is one of the most giving, driven people I’ve ever met and constantly has lots of things on the go.   She is constantly trying to do everything for everyone.   She has so many balls constantly up in the air that I have to tell her to put some of them down, take some myself, and hire others to do so.   Because if I didn’t she’d just do them all herself.   It is not that she is selfish, it’s the exact opposite – that she thinks she can multi-task, thinks she’s good at it.   I don’t mean to fill you with rage, Mrs Happy, I say this with the utmost respect to you, my wife, and women everywhere.   Put some balls down.   You don’t have to do it all.   Because when you try to do it all, the thing that gets lost in the mix is the making life pleasant thing – you know, the thing your spouse married you for?

          Share the load, hire some people, and don’t do the shit that doesn’t need doing.   Our cleaning lady recently quit and I had to talk my wife into hiring another one because she wanted to do it herself.   WHY?   Why on earth?   I don’t need her to do it all, I need her to make my life pleasant while I make hers pleasant.   This notion, the notion that women should have it all, be it all, do it all, is so TOXIC.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          I have the same deal, Jeremy, just with two fewer kids. My wife is a yes person which is a great quality until she has no time to herself (or for me). I am constantly asking what I can take off her plate (to make her life easier) but she refuses to let go of control, and, well, you know the rest.

        3. Marika

          I’m sorry, Mrs Happy, but I can’t agree.

          Granted, I’ve never had 4 kids (the most I’ve had is 3 step kids), but as my mother had 4 kids I have a perfect point of comparison. She had no nanny, we were never looked after by anyone other than my grandmother (and mostly she came to help while my mother was still around). I never saw my mother go out for coffee with the girls – if she did it was almost never, but my guess was when we were children it was literally never. My parents never had the time, money or mindset to go away on romantic cruises. My mother would have much preferred not to work at all, but she had to – to help put food on the table. And we were middle class (lower middle class), there were people much, much worse off than us. This  is what I mean by the ‘other half’. Actually, it’s way more than half. Most people would kill to have her life.

          Further, there are things she has the luxury of choosing to do – like renovate the house. Or buy complicated gifts, prepare over the top meals. Are those things necessary? Not at all. Yes, she ended up giving Mr J sex in the end, but he had to go through some crazy-making machinations, and even forego to some extent his own values, to get it. I’m honestly not having a go at her in particular, she clearly knows no other way of life and I’m sure she is a lovely person, but honestly, if she doesn’t realise how good she has it, that is a real shame. Selfishness sounds mean, but it’s certainly entitlement. There is a lot she is taking for granted, and compared to the vast majority of people, very little to complain about.

        4. Jeremy

          It’s not about entitlement in this case, Marika, it’s about motivations.   She isn’t re-decorating the house for status or enjoyment, she’s doing it because that’s what she thinks will make me value her.   She’s trying (desperately) to be my “equal.”   Ugh, this sounds terrible and it is not my mindset, but this is how she thinks.   She sees what I do every day, sees how I’m seen by others, and desperately wants to be seen as my equal.   Even though I’ve ALWAYS seen her as my equal and expressed such, the trait of the Guardian personality (as I’ve discovered) is to see the self as a reflection in the eyes of others and internalize that reflection.   She can’t enjoy her summers off work because she’s desperately worried how others (and I) will see her, taking her ease while her husband works.   She needs to show the world that she is busy.   Else, what is her value?   So, so toxic.   Not something the Idealists I grew up around would ever have thought or done.

           

          All the things you mentioned – the fancy meals, the volunteering, the home projects, etc – it’s all done out of a combination of love and a desire to be valued.   I try so hard to make her see that I value and love her exactly as she is, that none of this stuff is her “job”, that her “job” as I see it is entirely something else.   But Guardians……abstract stuff just doesn’t mean anything to them.   They need the concrete.   Even the most privileged person wants to be loved, be valued.   She and I mirror each other so much…..we both have been so misguided in our efforts to show love to each other.   I bought her a fancy diamond eternity band…..she liked it, but valued the card I wrote much more – the ring was a gift, but the card was love.   She tried to show her love for me by redecorating the house, but I preferred an expression of desire – the house is the house, but desire is love.   It’s difficult to learn to speak the love language your partner needs.   And for some people it’s also difficult to learn the “value language” their partner needs – the things they want to be valued for.   Because while I might think my wife’s “job” is to make my life more pleasant, it that was all she did she wouldn’t be able to value herself, in spite of my esteem for her.

        5. Marika

          Fair enough Jeremy.

          I get that this is your wife and you love her and I don’t know her from a bar of soap.

          All of what you write is interesting…I just do hope from time to time she has some recognition of how privileged she is, how lucky. Maybe she has nothing to compare it to? But actually she does. Your sister for instance. Yes, 4 children is a lot, but most people raise children with a fraction of the help she has (practical and emotional), and sometimes I honestly just roll my eyes and shake my head at what some people consider ‘problems’. My issues probably, my triggers, but still. It has given me a renewed appreciation and respect for my own mother, though which is wonderful.

        6. Nissa

          Jeremy,

          It’s nice that you say “put down some balls” but the reason so many women won’t, is exactly what we’ve seen here: the judgement of “what are you doing to make his life better”? It’s an assumption that she is not worthy in some way unless she’s “earning” that “position”. It would be far better to assume that whatever each is contributing, it is of value to that partner, and leave it at that.

        7. Marika

          Mrs Happy

          As a daily observer of the ‘Eastern suburbs mindset’, I sometimes wonder (without really knowing) if a few of the balls mentioned are self-created? Remember the power outage in the east last week and the chaos that ensued from homes that were overly reliant on technology? As lovely as it sounds to have a home with individual climate controls, and multiple luxury cars,  the resultant bills mean you have to work harder, to have less time to enjoy them etc…

          Where I park near work my car routinely gets scraped by large 4WDs passing who never leave a note, there are angry signs about not parking near people’s back entrance, lots of beeping on the roads…. people just seem quite angry. In the most beautiful part of a very expensive city.

          Jeremy

          I’ve heard a lot of men say that their wife was their wife and now she’s a mother. I’ve never heard a woman say anything like that about her husband. Most women seem to genuinely love seeing their husbands spending time with their kids being  a father. I hear your perspective and you are clearly a wonderful husband and father, but what Mrs Happy says isn’t completely without merit.

    3. 14.3
      sylvana

      Jeremy,

      You do realize that the majority of women do not live that kind of life, right? The majority of women (including mothers and pregnant women) go to work outside of the home, just like men. So what exactly is it that a man does that a woman with a 40+ hour/week job doesn’t?

      Any woman who has been single for a while is fully aware of what the man does, and what fairness looks like. Because she IS the man for however long she is single. Who do you think is responsible for earning a living, the house repairs, car repairs, lawn care, trash, etc. when she doesn’t have a man? And who keeps having to be a man when her husband doesn’t have enough money to allow her to stay at home? Or if she out earns her husband?

      Tell me, how does fairness look like when both of them are working full-time jobs?

      All of my relationships ended because men wanted me to have their children.   Now way no how. I take my 60+ hour work week any day over that. It’s a walk in the park compared to pregnancy, childbirth, and being the primary caregiver to children. From someone who has the choice between the two, I choose the job any day. And so do a lot of other women.

      I’d choose my work any day over the responsibilities of the primary caregiver of children alone.

      And there is absolutely no comparing just the pain, suffering, and physical sacrifices (because she’s guaranteed to end up with a permanently damaged body) a woman makes to bring forth life with the sacrifices one makes to earn a living.

      What exactly is fairness when it comes to that kind of physical trauma?

      You’re basing everything on the nowadays somewhat rare concept of the man providing for the stay-at-home woman. While in your case it certainly applies, and I understand your point of view in that scenario, the problem is that a lot of men still have the same attitude, but are no longer able to provide. Meaning the woman, on top of her own responsibilities,   has to take on a good part of his responsibilities as well. So he expects her to play both part of his role, and all of her own role.

      The other major aspect that is often forgotten with a stay-at-home spouse (man or woman) is the high risk they take when putting themselves into that situation. They completely give up their independence. And their ability to provide for themselves. Putting themselves at the mercy of their spouse. A spouse out of the workforce for ten plus years is not likely to earn enough to keep a roof over their heads if they end up being faced with divorce.

      Alimony is pretty much done with (with few exceptions). And – once again – would really only make a difference when married to top earners.

      1. 14.3.1
        Jeremy

        I do realize those things, Sylvana.   Frankly, what you wrote is exactly the segue to my point.   In cases where both spouses work equal hours and earn equal pay, “fairness” would be an even split of household duties.   That, though, is a largely theoretical concept, as this “ideal” does not seem to be what either gender wants, when push comes to shove.

         

        A Pew study from a few years back got a lot of media coverage.   It showed that men, while doing more household and childcare work than their fathers, were still doing substantially less than women.   The media used this report to lambaste men….but it forgot to actually read what the report said.   It said that while women did more hours of home and child related work, men did more hours of paid work – and the average number of hours worked by both sexes was about the same (with men slightly higher).   With this in mind, the call to have men do more home/child work is not the pathway to fairness at all, unless women want to do more paid work (which they don’t), or want men to do less paid work (which they don’t).

         

        Now, this report described the average.   Obviously there are cases where women do a disproportionate amount of the total work – and we hear lots about such relationships.   But, averages being what they are, for every relationship where the woman does more total work, there would kinda have to be one where the man does.   How much have we heard about that?   Crickets?   And Availability Bias being what it is, if we don’t hear about something, it doesn’t exist to us.

    4. 14.4
      Marika

      Hi Nissa

      Re putting down balls…I’m sorta feeling a class divide on this blog quite acutely atm for some reason!….but very few women I know are   taking on additional non-vital tasks to prove their worth.  Is this a big problem I’m unaware of?  Most people I know are just doing the tasks that need to be done for themselves and their families, just because they need to be done.   Perhaps such people trying to prove their worth could consider doing some volunteer work with their extra time. I can only think of one woman who would fit into this category, my brother’s wife, but as he assures her (and anyone who knows him knows this to be true) he definitely doesn’t want her doing more stuff and is more than happy to pay for cleaners or whatever is needed to make both their lives easier. He’s definitely in the ‘marry to make your life easier’ category and doesn’t want the additional stress (he’s already stressed running his own company, dealing with his kids and their crazy mother) of a stressed out partner. She did go back to work briefly, but ended up leaving as she sees work in the way most of us see hobbies, if she doesn’t enjoy it or she faces a roadblock (I think the boss was mean), she leaves. This happened once before when she started a candle making business and stopped a few weeks in as she had a falling out with her business partner…

      I do get your point re a partner who wants a high standard of cleanliness. My brother is like this, as was my ex-husband (who was so OCD that he would give me grief for not lining up my shoes!). But I think this is controlling type behaviour which goes along with the busy, leader-ish types. It’s just the downside of being with the kind of person who is used to running the show. I’m still in the process of figuring out if I want a more easy going partner who is less OCD, but also less motivated in general, or if the downsides of the get-up-and-go type is worth the upsides.

      1. 14.4.1
        jeremy

        I don’t think the issue is necessarily women taking on extra duties to prove their worth – that’s just one specific reason for a particular woman.   I think there tends to be a gender-divide between what we consider needs to be done and what we consider optional.   My receptionist, for example, often tells me about her relationship with her commonlaw BF – household chores are simply more important to her than to him.   She tells me that she can’t sleep at night if there are dishes in the sink, whereas he would rather relax and unwind at the end of the day, and leave the dishes in the sink until he runs out of clean ones in the cabinet.   Do the dishes NEED to be done?   Do they need to be done every day?   She thinks so.   And is proud of the fact that she has trained him to do them – which, she believes, has led to equality in their relationship.   Equality?   Equality equals getting her way? The problem is that she doesn’t believe it is “her” way, she believes it is the “right” way, objectively – that neither she nor he should be able to put this ball down.   This is so, so common IME.

         

        If a woman feels that the bathroom needs to be cleaned and the man doesn’t, what is fair?   Some would say that fair is that both clean it.   Others would say that fair is that she cleans it.   And still others would say that what’s “fair” doesn’t really matter because she will end up cleaning it more – because she’s the one who cares about it.   And THAT is the crux of the issue.   When you care about more things, you will have more balls to juggle that your partner doesn’t believe you need to.

         

        I guess in the end, my suggestion is to be careful what we each choose to care so much about – to ask ourselves the question what would happen if we didn’t care so much about this particular thing.   It’s hardly surprising that there is a gender-divide about which balls one should care about, it’s just slightly ironic that we need to get men to care more about their balls and women to care less. 🙂

        1. Nissa

          Jeremy –

          I am in so much agreement with you on this!!

        2. Marika

          Hi Jeremy

          D and J, who I lived with and wrote about before used to leave dishes in and all over the sink. She worked from home and so at the end of the day, quite late and later than them, I’d come home to find at least three meals’ worth of dishes piled up, sometimes more. Why did this bother me: because I’m a woman? Or a neatfreak? Nope.

          Because scrubbing a utensil I needed or digging around to get a plate or having no space to make food at the end of a long day is an unpleasant way to live. That’s the crux of the issue in my view. Sometimes it’s a relief to leave things like dishes, but are you creating extra work for someone else that feels bad for them? It sounds ridiculous that something like that could ruin my day, but it did. Especially when it then attracted cockroaches (Aussie cockroaches are massive and nearly indestructible). And I’m pretty reasonable and hate cleaning myself. To me though, it’s just common sense to do a task when it’s small and to be respectful of who you’re affecting if you don’t. Was it my job to wash their stuff because it bothered me? Was I imposing my values of a cleanish cook space on them? I suppose you could say yes, but weren’t they imposing their way of living on me?

        3. Marika

          Pressed reply by mistake, I meant to add in, as it relates to your example, Jeremy, if the receptionist’s boyfriend wants to do the dishes, say once a week, and also does all the cooking in that space as well as the fumigating of [insert Canadian bug drawn to food scraps], then it’s probably okay. Not ideal, but then he’s the one managing a situation he created. Is that the case?

          If not, I think what she meant by ‘equality’ was ‘teamwork’. If it feels nice for Mr receptionist to come home to a meal Mrs receptionist made, is it not reasonable to hope that he can see that making the kitchen user-friendly for her to make that meal is just part of being in a healthy couple?

          My ex husband as I mentioned found it frustrating when I didn’t line my shoes up. Pretty petty and my shoes aren’t his problem, but I get that it created unnecessary angst for him which made home life less peaceful after a stressful day at work. So, as often and as soon as I remembered, I would line them up. It was kinda annoying, but certainly not the end of the world. We all do little things to help out (male and female) and as you said, isn’t marriage about both people having a more pleasant life?

        4. Jeremy

          Ironically, I am just now resting after having washed the dishes 🙂   I’d not suggest that a husband ignore a wife’s request to wash dishes (or vice versa) – such is not the path to martial bliss.   I’m suggesting to the person to whom the washing seems so essential that the doing of the dishes in the here and now is less essential than they think.   Some alternatives, off the top of my head?

          – If you have a dishwasher, place them in there on pre-soak, do them at your convenience/when the washer is full

          – If you don’t have a dishwasher, scrape the plates clean and leave them in a water basin to soak for a few hours/overnight.   They’ll be easier to clean in the morning/next day anyway

          – Eat off disposable plates, recycle them

           

          This to say, the notion that if doing dishes is not a daily chore disaster will ensue is a fallacy.   The low-desire partner (low desire to do dishes 🙂   ) should, indeed, help with the dishes.   The high desire partner should realize that her need for cleanliness is not a universal imperative – it is a ball that can be put down, at least for a while, especially if lots of other balls are already in the air.   And how much more so the crisp folding of laundry?

        5. Mrs Happy

          Most of the balls in the air for women are about family.   If the woman puts them down as you suggest she should consider doing, the family (kids mainly, because adult men sort themselves out when push comes to shove) miss out.

          I’m thinking of various situations I see among acquaintances, with the woman/mother/wife being disorganised, lazy or chaotic, just unable or unwilling to juggle the balls.   It’s their kids who don’t get to participate in the fun extras at school, because (despite numerous reminders) mum didn’t sign the form or pay the extra cost; it’s their kids who don’t get their medical issues followed up; who stop getting invited to social things because the lazy mum never reciprocates; who get food poisoning because their lunchbox yogurt container is growing mould; who have toast for dinner and hours of screentime a day.   Dads (who don’t care to connect and build social scaffolding, or look after childrens’ health in quite so obsessive a way) don’t step up significantly when the woman drops the balls, the kids just miss out.

          I think men would be happy for their women to drop some balls, partly because men are a little jealous of their children.   Men lose the pre-kids 100% attention and affection from their wife, into a split so part goes to the children after kids arrive.   I wonder whether resulting resentment is partly why men are so much lazier about raising their children.

          Above, you said men marry to get easier lives.   Why in today’s age of me earning and working, should I do extra unpaid work, every day over decades, and make my life much harder, in order to make another adult’s life easier?   I really don’t understand how you imagine that’s a good deal for me.   Why would I sign up to that?   It seems an incredibly old-fashioned view of marriage to think I should be his handmaiden.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          Your belief that making a guy’s life easier is equivalent to being a handmaiden reveals more about you than it does about my philosophy itself. I work to pay for my entire family – wife and kids and everything. Does this make me a sucker? A fool? An ATM? To some guys, maybe. To me, it means I have a happy, healthy, close family that doesn’t have to worry about money. If my wife were to take your “handmaiden” attitude about taking care of me, the kids and the house, it wouldn’t be a happy or equal marriage. Couples should routinely do things for each other. I am taking the kids to Chinese New Year on Saturday so my wife can get five hours to herself. She’s letting me go out with a divorced buddy on Saturday night without her and taking the kids to a playdate for 2-3 hrs on Sunday so I can catch up on work. Both of us give relentlessly with our set roles and outside of them as well. That’s why we work. Woe be to any couple where the husband sees himself being used for income or the wife sees herself being used for household labor.

          You give more, you get more. If you don’t get more generosity when you’re generous, you married the wrong person.

        7. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, I think that whatever side of this debate one falls on, it would be helpful to get rid of the notion that men are “jealous of their children.”   This is a chestnut bandied back and forth quite commonly among women and the problem isn’t just that it is false, it’s also that it shames and infantalizes men in the eyes of their wives.   It is a conversation ender, rather than a beginning to a conversation.

          Men largely marry because they want wives who are happy, loving, attentive people who make their lives pleasant and easier.   If their wives are no longer this way (and they were ALWAYS this way in the girlfriend stage, else they wouldn’t have become wives), men’s primary marital goals are unfulfilled.   Of course we understand that when we have kids life can’t always be easy or pleasant….but it has to be sometimes.   We have to look forward to coming home, not dread it due to a pissy, inattentive wife and a mountain of useless chores we don’t care about.   Pleasant, or else we begin to ask ourselves why the hell we got married.   It’s not that men are jealous of the attention women give to babies, it’s that we react logically to the absence of our goals.

          I think that although most women would love to remain that happy, loving, attentive person they once were, they believe themselves to be mature when giving that up in order to fulfill their notions of how they should be as mothers.   Because whether or not they are conscious of this, most women who want children are hard-wired to focus primarily on their children, not their husbands.   So although they might not be happy juggling all their balls, they’d have it no other way.   They want men to help them with their balls….but if men did, these women would NOT return to the happy, loving, attentive girlfriends they once were.   They’d remain as they are, just happier, more relaxed.   And they’d achieve all their marital goals…..while their husbands achieve none of theirs.   Or few, anyway.

          It’s not about being immature, lazy or jealous.   It’s about understanding the differences in our GOALS.   The reasons why we married.   Remember my story about my investment advisor?   Didn’t know what his job was?

          My wife works in child psychology, and is constantly having to advise over-privileged helicopter parents to stop over-programming their children.   That children benefit more from down-time than from playdates, piano, and programming.   I believe that having children see a loving, giving relationship between their parents is far more important to their developmental well-being than having 2 parents stressed all to hell trying to schedule their lives.

        8. Mrs Happy

          Evan,

          I agree both spouses should give.

          What I think happens though, when women work in paid work, (as most professional women do, and this in stressful jobs, not airy-fairy easy low mental load jobs) is, women give say 30-50 hours a week to a paid work job, and then come home and do most of the child-related organising and care, carry all of the mental load of keeping a family and household running smoothly, plus the social organising, present buying, more of the cleaning and tidying and cooking and shopping, etc. (Plus, stay fit, slim, pretty, look good, give to their community, care for elders, etc.)

          So when they are also told to do things for their husband, because in a marriage they should give freely, they just might sometimes think, why should I – why can’t he do that – he hasn’t done 40h paid work and 50h unpaid work this week like I have.   Maybe she just doesn’t have it in her, to do all of the above, as well as do extra work tasks which will make her husband’s life easier.   The extra doesn’t magically appear via rainbows: to make his life easier, hers gets (even) harder.

          It is a completely different situation if the wife isn’t in paid work.   For one thing, the load isn’t so unbalanced.   It’s easier to do more for your partner when you’re not already stretched.

        9. Evan Marc Katz

          I repeat – you MUST find a husband who is sensitive to your emotional cues and helps out with housework and childrearing – even if your share of the work isn’t 100% equal. If you work longer hours and make more money, he should take on even more. MY point is simply that if you have a good husband and you’re not thinking of ways to please him, you’re not a good wife. You seem very attuned to keeping score – as are most people, men included. We ALL know what WE’VE done and sacrificed; we lose sight of how our partners do little things for us. Good relationships involve constantly giving, not keeping score. Your replies only indicate that you have a relationship in which you DON’T have a great partner… which makes you NOT want to give. Yet not giving is a recipe for strained relationships. I’m trying to model success for you here; you don’t have to keep on reminding me what a failed relationship looks like when one person is giving a lot more than another.

        10. Jeremy

          I think we must take care when presuming to judge other people’s relationships.   The fact that I’ve recounted some of my marital difficulties in no way indicates that I don’t now have a good relationship, and I think the same can be said for others.   I do agree with Evan that men who don’t fulfil their wives’ concept of their marital “jobs” are lousy spouses just as women who fail to fulfil their “jobs” are.   We both must make an effort to please our spouses – none of us of any gender can rest on our laurels, thinking we’re good spouses for fulfilling only our own priorities.   And I agree with Mrs Happy’s last comment that women who are stressed out from working full-time jobs should not also have the bulk of household duties thrust upon them.

           

          I think that women face a triple bind – i) evolved biological tendencies toward high neuroticism when it comes to child-care and nesting, ii) social pressures from society/other women to be the perfect mother, and iii) shame – the notion that if they have given up their career to be a mom, they have to mother the hell out of their role to feel they still have value.   These 3 disparate motivations converge into an almost irresistible current.   So I tell the women here what I so often tell my wife – please, rest.   Please, let me help.   Please, realize what is important and what isn’t.   It would do my heart good to see you happy.   Your happiness is so much more important than all the little roles you worry I value you for.

  15. 15
    Marika

    Mrs Happy

    The cut-your-finger-off women are raising kids and taking care of all non-work related plans and social activities for the family, though too, no?

    Nissa

    Thanks for clarifying above in your reply to Mrs Happy’s comment. The disconnect (for me, and of course YMMV), but the lifestyle you describe seems most suited to a fellow spiritual, sensitive type who’s quite like you, rather than a strong, leader take-charge kinda guy. The guys I know who are like that need more stimulation and practical support, including a  partner who manages home and social plans pretty much independently, as few humans can deal with the burden of taking charge in all aspects of life (in terms of time, headspace and physical energy). I get what you’re saying in terms of what you need, but isn’t it important to understand what your compliment is likely to need, beyond the emotional, so you can have a functional life?

    The last guy I dated was a bit like you in terms of needing lots of space alone to recharge and got easily overwhelmed with people and tasks after a while etc and he used to mention it a lot in terms of what he needed. I always thought, though: that is all fine if you choose to live alone. If you have a partner and merge lives, how are your needs fitting with theirs?

    1. 15.1
      Nissa

      Marika,

      What you say may well be true. I’ve done a lot of changing, and as a result my future relationships are likely to look very different from the ones of my past. So I don’t know yet how they will look. Most of the men I meet ARE spiritual, sensitive types, and I am finding them not willing to take the level of initiative I need. The kind of men that I find attractive tend to be a bit like Tony Robbins – someone who likes to speak out, is confident, passionate about his own life and eager to share that with the people in his life. What I’m seeing is that those guys already tend to have practical support (IT, personal assistant, etc) so that they aren’t overwhelmed. They also get a lot of stimulation from their passion. So in my mind both of those things are being provided. After all, I get both of those things from my job, too.

      My thought about this is that if I meet someone who asks me to do more, I would certainly consider it, especially if I had help to do so. The people I have known like that are people who tend to get excited, have ideas, and make suggestions. That’s the part I need most. If he then needed me to be a liaison or execute some of the plans, I’m ok with that. I’m not above taking out garbage, making phone calls or doing what is needed in general. I don’t necessarily see certain things as “a man’s job”. If both of us are working, then no, I don’t expect him to do things he doesn’t have time to do. But if I don’t want to do them either, I see no harm in paying a 3rd party for practical support for both of us for our shared goals. Remember, if each of us is responsible for our own stuff, there’s very little left over to be managed. After all, isn’t that how most of us operate? We do what we can and hire help when we can’t manage, whether that’s car repair, house cleaning or trips to the dentist?

      1. 15.1.1
        Marika

        Hi again Nissa

        Thank you for indulging me, I do recognise this is your life, your relationships, and I’m just a stranger on the Internet!

        But, as it happens, I know a lot of people who are spiritual introverts. I even lived with a couple who were like your intended/ideal coupling but the reverse gender, J and D. She was a go-getting extrovert (J) trying to get her coaching business off the ground – she was no Tony Robbins, but coincidentally he was her hero. D was much quieter, a follower, kind and giving. I found D easy to be around and lovely, and J a bit full-on. So at first I thought she was lucky. I quickly learned, though, the downsides to D’s lovely nature. He took so little initiative and made so few decisions that she was constantly in a state of wondering if the relationship was working for her as she had to do so much. He was definitely emotionally supportive, but she was overwhelmed and he was (indirectly) the cause of some of it. If she specifically asked him to do a task, he would do it as she directed, but the next time she would have to specifically ask (and very likely explain it) again. It’s not that he didn’t want to help or was being deliberately obtuse, he just lacked drive and confidence.

        It’s funny you mention hiring help. When we first lived together we all shared the cost of a cleaner – at their request. I was planning to get one anyway, and they said they wanted it too, so we found one who would do the whole apartment. As time went by, as she was trying to get a business going and he made very little money in quite a low level job (and was too passive to ask for a raise), they had to stop getting the cleaner and I had to make adjustments to find one who would only clean only my section of the apartment. Probably if she was further along in her business she wouldn’t mind bearing the cost of the rest of the cleaner without his financial support (which I’m assuming is what you’re suggesting – that the partner pays for the cleaner, not you), I’m not sure. But it certainly was frustrating for me.

        Which probably brings me to the crux of the issue – which I appreciate is my issue and clearly a trigger! I’ve dated quite a few people who decided, either out of a spiritual direction/awakening or because of their life experiences, that they needed x and couldn’t handle/didn’t want to deal with y. That’s all well and good, but then the burden of y lands on the person they are with or other people they live with – as practical tasks need to get done no matter how spiritual you are. D was slightly different, as he honestly just didn’t cope well with tasks, and he did try to be more involved and take on more, he was just a very anxious person. Which is why J made allowances for him, and I did too. But in the context of a relationship, it can be frustrating if you are the one carrying too much of the practical burden. Particularly if the person is deliberately choosing not to do things unless they are asked to. And no matter how much you are getting praised for it.

        It could be the case that this was more of an issue with D & J due to their reverse genders, as women don’t find admiration or cheer-leading to be as important as men. So, again, if you’re finding guys who like this arrangement, all good… but I’m just trying to imagine Tony Robbins enjoying lying on the grass or feeding ducks! 😉

        1. Clare

          Marika,

          I think you raise an excellent point.

          And for me, the excellent point is one we come up against again and again, and one I have had cause to think about many times. And that is that you cannot expect your partner to be all things to you.

          Human beings are not only imperfect; they also have finite energy, limits to what they are good and confident at doing, and they get stressed out, tired and ill at times. Many people are also only able to focus on one thing at a time.

          I think maybe it would be a (really) good thing if we adjusted our expectations of a partner. I don’t mean for one second putting up with bad behaviour; that’s not the same thing at all. I mean, taking the time to get to know someone (in the dating and relationship phase), and then taking a long hard look at this person in the cold light of day, and making an honest assessment as to whether this is someone you can live with and want to live with for the long term.

          It’s all very well to say I want my partner to have X quality, or be able to do Y, but to me, it’s how it all plays out in practice which is important. After all, maybe 90-95% of life is practical, and those lovely qualities and lovely things you envisage your partner doing and having are a very small proportion of your life. To use your friends as an example, J may very well have been drawn to D’s calm, spiritual, non-materialistic nature (maybe he’s very creative, that is very appealing), but in practice, I can see from here that she needs someone who is independent, high energy and supportive of her. She probably didn’t foresee that D’s passive approach would drain her dry after a while.

          The things we are drawn to and find attractive are not always the things we need or the things which will make us happy over the long-term. To take myself as another example, I’m an introvert. I live alone and I work alone. I find people who are spiritual, creative and deep and complex thinkers very attractive. However, in practice, such people often require a lot of maintenance and energy expended, which I’m not willing or able to do. Much as I enjoy people with beautiful minds, I’m better off having them as friends and having a calm, practical and independent person as a partner. Such a person does not need to match me intellectually; they only need to  fit  in well with the way that I am so that we can have a harmonious relationship. Furthermore, because I don’t have a high need for time together, I don’t need a particularly cheerful or gregarious partner.

          I guess my point is, I think it is less useful to think in terms of a list of attributes and activities which our partner should tick off, and more useful to think in terms of someone we  fit with, and which flaws we’re willing to live with. Because I think it is so easy to get caught up in idealistic thinking.

        2. Nissa

          Marika,

          This is the best part of the blog, where we share our experiences and learn from each other, and see things from a slightly different perspective. I find great value in it.

          I really liked your J& D example, I also have found that the things we like about people are often the things which cause the greatest conflict. I know that hiring others is very important, for the exact reasons you list above. As a sensitive person, I was unable to always be at the level my ex wanted and expected. When I tried to be that person, I was constantly exhausted and sad. When he was gone, I spent a great deal of time resting just to be up to par when he needed it. Finally, I realized I physically wasn’t up to it and hired help. The problem was that our finances weren’t really up to it, either. So it became more important to me over time to have someone who either was more okay with general messiness, or someone who found it of value to hire someone to do that. Living alone, I have my own level of cleanliness that is acceptable to me. But if someone else requires me to have a higher level of care, I find it acceptable to ask him to pay for that higher level of care (if he doesn’t want to do it himself). My guideline is, whoever has the higher standard, gets to have it, but also accepts the costs of that higher standard. The problem is when person A decides that person B needs to take care of tasks person A would have had to hire someone to do, if person B was not there, without inquiring as to if that imposes an undue burden on person B. Of course person B should be responsible for person B.

          That’s why I see so much value in determining up front what a person is willing to do and what they feel needs to be done. That way I can honestly determine if it’s something that is within my capability and willingness (which does include quite a lot) and proceed based on that.

  16. 16
    Marika

    Thank you Clare :).

    For me this all goes back to the interdependence thing. My upbringing, my socialisation, everything really in my life has been about me and other people, being part of a group, whether that be family, friendship group, or part of a couple. This will probably sound weird, but prior to visiting this blog it had actually never occurred to me to have a list of relationship must-haves/deal breakers. Of course if I didn’t feel good with a person or enough attraction towards them or whatever I wouldn’t date them, and I do know how to exist without a partner, but for me it’s always been about the actual person and relationship, not a set of things I had listed out prior to meeting someone which I was judging them against. That’s why when people have these hard and fast rules about how things have to be, it’s like an alien language to me.

    I get that I’m probably too far in the other direction, but I honestly am still trying to get my head around the concept of having expectations and asking others to match up to them (or just moving on as soon as they don’t). Obviously abuse etc can’t be tolerated, but I personally think a whole range of things, within reason, can be negotiated, and I can be happy. As long as we’re both happy. I’m not sure if I need to adjust my approach, or just find someone who can negotiate and co-exist in a similar way who also gets my motor running 😉

    Now I’m just rambling…and this is probably not what you’re saying at all! I’m just doing that thing where I try to figure out my point as I write..haha

    1. 16.1
      Clare

      Marika,

      I get it. The whole thing about not having a list of deal-breakers/expectations is something I relate to a lot. I wasn’t raised to think that way. I mean, my dad was always stingy with money (which caused big problems), and I had never even met a man who was unfaithful, so I knew lack of generosity and cheating were hard “nos” for me. But further than that… I had not thought. In fact, my friends used to tease me that I couldn’t say no if a guy asked me out or tried to ask for my number/kiss me, etc.

      I learned, of course. It was a very steep learning curve. Not only did I learn how to say no, I also learned what things I was absolutely  not ok  with. Some of them surprised me. I also learned what things I actually  was  weirdly ok with, and these also surprised me. For instance, I actually don’t mind spending large chunks of the day apart from my partner, even on weekends, as long as we see each other at night. I don’t mind at all if he goes away or travels for work from time to time (some people hate this). I don’t mind grumpiness or moodiness as long as it’s not directed at me and as long as they eventually snap out of it. I’m actually quite good at soothing angry people.

      I’m also rambling now… but my point is, it’s often so much better to think of a partner in terms of what you can live with on the day to day, rather than an ideal. We’re all so different. I don’t necessarily agree with you that almost  everything  can be negotiated, because I do think adults have preferences and tendencies which are pretty ingrained, and if you try to get people to change those, a lot of conflict and unhappiness can ensue.

      I tend to be more of the school of thought of, marry someone whom you can love and accept just as they are, as far as possible. You might need to broaden your idea of  what you can accept, but acceptance is the name of the game.

      1. 16.1.1
        Marika

        Clare, I really wish we were able to chat about this stuff over drinks 🙂

        I think what I meant was, if I’m into someone it’s kinda about them as a person, not a list of positive attributes. In fact you could give me Mr- great- on – paper and I could think … meh (and vice versa).

        I could probably strengthen my boundaries. That’s fair. But I honestly do observe people being too much the other way: breaking up over the slightest thing. Or something vague like “it didn’t work out”. Which I kinda get the sense means “I (or we both) stopped putting in effort”.

        A few friends in my social circle broke up unexpectedly last year. As it turns out, love/lust/infatuation soured over a lack of care, attention and negotiation by one party. We all saw it before they did, but that’s the way it goes I guess. It’s all fun & games until someone questions what they’re getting out of the relationship.

        Or is that just my idealism talking? 😉

        1. Clare

          Marika,

          A cold beer in these southern hemisphere summers while hashing all this stuff out sounds like just the ticket!

          “But I honestly do observe people being too much the other way: breaking up over the slightest thing. Or something vague like “it didn’t work out”. Which I kinda get the sense means “I (or we both) stopped putting in effort”.”

          I do agree with you here. However, I really think that a lot of this comes down to a maturity/readiness thing. This is something that I think is paid far too little attention in all the discussions surrounding dating and relationships and why they don’t work out. People fixate on the question of how “into” the other person each partner is, forgetting that nothing is going to make you value the relationship as much as you should if you’re not in the right headspace or place in your life for a serious relationship.

          So often people break up for what seem to be insignificant reasons… And it can seem like it’s coming out of the blue. And in a way it is. But if you realise that you’re not ready to settle down, or if the other person seems to want more out of the relationship than you’re ready or able to give, if you still want to be single for a bit and enjoy time on your own to do what you want… then you’ll find a reason to end it. At least that has been my experience. I have been the one doing the breaking up for this reason. The guy was great, he was doing everything right, the relationship was happy… but I realised I was not ready to give him what he wants. And I have certainly had this done to me. The relationship seems to be great, the two of you seem to be great together… and then the other person stops making an effort. When you question it you end up breaking up for a flimsy reason. It’s really disappointing, but I think more often than not, it comes down a lack of readiness and cutting bait before things get too much more serious.

          I’ve seen the flipside of this too, by the way. People who put up with  far too much from their partner, simply because they’re ready to settle down.

          I’m aiming for a happy middle. I’m a bit like you – if I like the other person, feel happy and comfortable with them, I don’t spend too much time dissecting their qualities. I’d like to think I’m finally to be happily settled down and coupled up with one person (it’s taken me longer than the average woman), so I’d like to think I would choose a partner well (and not be  too  accepting), but also put in a good amount of effort to make the relationship a success. I’m in the right headspace to do that now. And I’ve noticed that with the guys I date. If they are looking for something serious, they will be willing to put in a lot more effort and be a lot more accommodating than the guys who are not 100% sure what they want yet.

  17. 17
    Martin

    I really liked this article. Basically the message should be – put down the smartphone. It’s hard to say for me, but today I really see girls only watching the smartphone – in bus, tram,   restaurant, school, home, everywhere. Even when we have some friends dinner, bowling something they can’t sustain conversation, still on instagram, whatsapp, fb, others. I really started to enforce no smartphone in the bed rule and when my girlfriend got smartwatch as gift for christmas I forced her to put it off during time we are together. Seriously, stop with that, it’s not sexy, it’s not making you smarter and nobody wants girls like that.

  18. 18
    Clare

    Yeah, I just wanted to take a moment to comment on the content of this article, and really thank Evan for encouraging me to look once again at how unhealthy texting is. In this world of ours, you have the odd lone voice warning about how unhealthy texting is, how it should not be used to get to know someone, write long messages or have relationship conversations, but for the most part, people are just conforming to this. Most people are encouraging the texting, continuing to engage with it, showing you  how  to text someone you are dating… ugh. I don’t think texting can be improved or salvaged to do this effectively.

    I’m really grateful to Evan for getting me to think about this again. The fact remains that texting is tedious, extremely unfulfilling and open to misunderstanding. Nowadays, if I think there is the smallest chance something I say could come out the wrong way, I pick up the phone and call the person. Having been broken up with more than once by text by someone who point blank refused to answer the phone, I know how painful texting can be. How cold, how frustrating, when you are just trying to connect with the person. In many ways I think texting is the coward’s refuge. We’ve all had the guy who texts you endlessly and moans when you don’t respond but doesn’t set up a date. What is he afraid of, that… (*gasp*)… you might  have a conversation  face to face? To me, people like this treat face to face or phone communication as some kind of prize to be won, and human relationships were never meant to be like that.

    Anyway, thank you Evan. I’ve never liked texting. I’ve never liked spending a lot of time on my phone, and I now enforce phone and face-to-face conversations in all my relationships. And I feel like it’s far better to know sooner rather than later if someone is the type of person who isn’t capable of that kind of connection and would prefer to keep things at the level of texting so that you can disqualify them sooner.

    1. 18.1
      Marika

      Hey Clare

      How’s the heat in your part of the world? Hope that beer is being put to good use 🙂

      I always read your comments and take them on board as I respect your opinion and agree with most of what you say. I’m far less down on texting than you though. I thought about it and I think this is why: it’s one thing if a guy is texting you because he is also texting many other women and you’re just one vague option and/or he’s generally lazy. It’s quite another IMHO if he’s more introverted and shy. I agree that texting to break up if you are actually officially dating (rather than just had a few dates) is just wrong. But, aside from that, having asked a few guys about their disinterest in phone calls, as well as trying to, for want of a better word push a phone call in what felt like an unnatural way, I’ve eased up on the idea. Depending on the individual.

      I recall my brother when we all lived at home HATING the phone and only making brief phone calls that were not much more than grunts. On the other hand, my sister, mother and I spent many nights fighting over the phone. If a guy is generally not a phone person, feels he may actually make a bad impression over the phone and is generally more reserved or quiet, I don’t think it’s such an issue to mostly communicate by text. If you’re also meeting in person, of course. I’ve also found that putting things in writing (I don’t use text speak) can sometimes be a good way to avoid saying something in the heat of the moment that may be regretted afterwards. Not in all circumstances, of course.

      1. 18.1.1
        Clare

        Hey Marika,

        It’s extremely humid here. February is our sweatiest month of the year. Cold wine and cold beer is the only thing that keeps us sane 😀

        I hear you. Perhaps my comment came off as more uncompromising and negative than I meant it. I actually was just having a bit of a vent.

        I do text of course. And I am open to and enjoy aspects of it. It’s lovely to get a “Hope you have a great day” text in the morning from the guy you are dating, or a message in the middle of the day just because. I really enjoy texting when it’s used as it’s  meant  to be used… for short, succinct messages to let someone know you are thinking of them, make plans, let someone know you are running late, or ask a quick question. In those instances I find it can really enhance communication.

        I’ll also add that I’ve recently began to become a much bigger user of voice notes, which is a nice compromise between texting and phone calls. You can hear the person’s voice, it’s much more personal and intimate than texting, but you don’t have the pressure of having to make conversation on the phone.

        I think the big thing for me is, I’m an introverted person, and also a person who places a very high value on connection and relationships. Excessive texting for me is unfulfilling and overwhelming. I’m certainly not uncompromising on texting… I’ll text up to a point, and then I’ll ask that we meet or speak on the phone. I find it’s also a really good litmus test to see how emotionally available a guy is. If he genuinely wants a relationship, he will want to see you in person a lot, so you will not ever have to get to the point of doing most of your communication via text.

        What I’m trying to avoid is the situation where you are texting each other for a couple of hours a day for a whole week… but you haven’t even seen each other that week. Put that time to better use! Organise a date!

        So yeah, hopefully I’ve been able to convey that I’m not completely down on texting… I just don’t want it to be excessive or take the place of time spent in person. And never,  never  have difficult or relationship conversations over text. I stick to the rule that if there’s any chance of a misunderstanding, pick up the phone.

        With the guy I’m seeing now, he likes to spend a lot of time together in person. We also live fairly close together. So it just removes a lot of the unfulfilling, burnt-out feeling that you get from texting. It’s just so much nicer to talk face-to-face or to each other’s voice. I’m happier, calmer and more satisfied.

        As far as the guys who are shy and introverted… I get what you’re saying, and I’m certainly not uncompromising about it. However, I do find that speaking on the phone and meeting in person is something that is worth pushing. The reason being that this is often an emotional unavailability issue. It’s a great litmus test for a guy who actually wants a relationship, is willing and able to connect and will put in the time and effort to spend time together if he is, you know, willing to speak on the phone or speak to you in person. A lot of these guys who hide behind the texts on their phone are not all that emotionally available, or not great relationship material. That’s just been my experience.

        You are such a lovely, easygoing person (and this really comes through from your posts), and I can see you want to make it relaxed and easy for the guy. Is it possible however you sometimes make it too easy? And I see your point and used to be very much the same… However, I find some things are worth having boundaries over. Spending time in person and talking over the phone are one of them. Because I feel terribly unfulfilled by excessive texting. Frankly, I find it a bit selfish and low effort for a guy to insist on texting as a primary means of connecting and communicating. If I am giving due consideration to his shyness and introversion, where is his consideration for my needs and feelings? He may think he wants to only text, but the fact is it’s not good for the relationship. Resentment builds up, and misunderstandings can happen too easily.

        Unfortunately, I’ve just been involved with too many selfish (and I mean just ordinary, dimestore, run of the mill selfishness, not awful abusiveness) guys who put their own wants, needs and comfort ahead of mine. And I allowed it because I was easygoing and nice. I still am easygoing and nice, but healthy, connected communication and time spent in person is not something I’m willing to let slide 🙂

        1. Marika

          Hi Clare

          I think Australia and South Africa are having a humidity competition! I hope you win!!

          You asked: ”  Is it possible however you sometimes make it too easy? And I see your point and used to be very much the same… However, I find some things are worth having boundaries over”..

          ..and it was weird, but I was starting to wonder the same thing as I read the earlier part of your comment. Not texting, that’s definitely not a deal breaker for me, and doesn’t bother me at all, but in other ways I think you’re right. It’s just, you know how you find excessive texting exhausting? I find insisting on certain things, explaining why, negotiating over things that seem like not a massive big deal etc exhausting. Hard to explain, but maybe you can relate to? Is that something which you had to overcome?

        2. Clare

          Marika,

          “I think Australia and South Africa are having a humidity competition! I hope you win!!”

          Really? I’ve always been accustomed to thinking of Australia as dry. But I suppose the coast would be just as bad as anywhere else. I’m by the coast in SA, and I reckon it could easily give any place a run for its money in the humidity department.

          “it was weird, but I was starting to wonder the same thing as I read the earlier part of your comment.”

          I’ve sometimes wondered this as I’ve read your comments. Whether you might be a little too accommodating with the guys you date. And I’m sorry, I don’t like to make judgments, but it’s just something which occurred to me. Not because you seem like a pushover, because you definitely don’t, but just because you seem like such a nice, easygoing person. And I can recognise this in myself. Nice, easygoing people assume others are the same way and tend to let things slide  a lot  because they give others the benefit of the doubt.

          And it’s just, unfortunately what I’ve found is that in dating, most people are looking out for their own interests, not yours. Not that the genuinely considerate, thoughtful, kinder people aren’t out there because they are, but a lot of people are just run-of-the-mill selfish. They will do thoughtless, selfish things and trample your boundaries without giving it another thought, and not bat an eyelid about doing so because that’s how they’ve always been. We’ve discussed it on this blog many times in the context of friendships.

          “I find insisting on certain things, explaining why, negotiating over things that seem like not a massive big deal etc exhausting.”

          Completely agree. I still default to being easygoing. Not because I’m necessarily such an amazing person, but because it’s less hassle for me, and I’m all about having as little stress in my life as possible and not exhausting myself. I honestly *cannot bear* conflict, explanations and conversations where you have to put your foot down. Can’t stand them. Would rather chew off my own arm half the time.

          “Hard to explain, but maybe you can relate to? Is that something which you had to overcome?”

          Much as I hate the conversations, I’ll still have them if the issue is worth it to me. Negotiating and compromising can sometimes pay off in a relationship, which is what I’ve found. Another good reason to have the conversation, even though you might despise it, is to a) see how good a communicator the guy is, and b) see how invested in the relationship he is or potentially could be. a) and b) can both cause serious problems and if you are always letting things slide, you don’t get to see this.

          In my experience – a guy who is willing and able to be a good partner will not shy away from communicating with you or having potentially uncomfortable conversations. The guys who are good relationship material are easy to talk to, open, honest and are willing to communicate. They also will try to understand your feelings, try to find a solution and will not run from the relationship at the first negotiation.

          On the other hand, guys who are selfish/not all that emotionally unavailable/not good relationship material are only too happy to take advantage of your easygoing nature and your unwillingness to speak up or potentially create conflict. These are the guys who will shut down, get defensive and blame you at the first sign of you speaking up about something. These are also the kinds of guys who will break up and decide they don’t want to put in the effort rather than compromise or come up with a solution.

          So, to answer your question in a long-winded way, yes, it’s something I’ve had to overcome. I don’t favour the approach of having conversations or negotiations. I’d rather take a step back from the situation and decide whether or not something is a dealbreaker for me, or monitor it over time, rather than have an argument or negotiation. But I also do speak up if I need to. And of course, if I find something is consistently bothering me over time, and it’s not changing and I can’t live with it, I leave the relationship. I try not to let my easygoing nature put my needs and feelings on the backburner. I put myself, rather than the relationship, first until the guy has earned a much more permanent place in my life.

  19. 19
    Marika

    Hello Clare [& Jeremy and Emily],

    Clare, you’re so good at this dating stuff; inspiring actually. I get what you’re saying. Also, Jeremy, I get what you’re saying in the other post too.

    You’re both right. There’s honestly nothing to disagree with! And Jeremy mainly [Clare I know you said you had to work at this] I wish I could be like you. It would make life sooo much easier! Not that your life is easy per se, I don’t mean that.   I mean thinking about this stuff so logically would be great.

    To be clear, I don’t keep people in my life – other than family – if they aren’t contributing to my life. My ex husband, for all his flaws, taught me so much, we travelled, he made me laugh like no one else, the sex was great and I do know he truly loved me. That does not a marriage make and no doubt we shouldn’t have married, but I’m not interested in being like those on the other post [I’m in a futile back & forth with] who get stuck in their stuff and can’t move on. What does that achieve?

    I’m sure boundaries are the way to go and very healthy. Trust me, I’ve put a lot of thought and work into this. But I’ve gotten to the place after much practice and trying to force things that I’m happy to let stuff go within reason if a person inspires me and contributes to my life. So far I haven’t found personally that the energy and effort required to enforce boundaries [for me] is worth the stress, with some exceptions. But most people I know disagree and feel as you do. For me, I feel like I do it because you’re supposed to and people – who care – have encouraged me to. But it feels soooo forced.

    Clare, you’ll appreciate this. A good friend – who as it happens is South African – would so love to meet you and collectively shake heads with you. When we go out dancing I leave my bag on the chair or table and give it no thought. I don’t lock my stuff up at yoga. It honestly doesn’t occur to me that someone would steal my stuff. And, in all my travels, around the world I’ve only had money taken twice. She runs around closing my bag and reprimanding me. She would agree with you on everything you’ve said and despairs of me when it comes to my dating decisions!

    Anyway, in my idealistic world I hope we will all meet some day. Which is why I included you on this comment, Emily :]. Adrian too, if he ever comes back. You all have an open invitation to come and visit. Maybe in early December when it’s hot enough to go to the beach but not quite humid enough to curl your hair! How fun would it be to chat over a wine/beer/vodka??!

    1. 19.1
      Jeremy

      Yes, that would be fun 🙂

       

      One thing I know you know, but maybe you don’t  know:  Being like me does not make life easier.   It just presents challenges that differ from yours….and some others that don’t differ – like the whole “boundaries” thing.

       

      I hate boundaries.   I don’t like them when my partner exercises them with me, and I show my love to my partner specifically by NOT having them.   This is contrary to (good) dating advice, but marriage isn’t dating.   I learned, at one point, that an effective way of regaining lost female attraction was to set up and enforce boundaries, but after having done that I basically back-slid again.   Because that’s not the way I want to express love, not the person I want to be, regardless of my partner’s arousal or lack thereof.   I think you understand what I’m saying.

       

      Clare is not wrong – setting up and enforcing boundaries is an effective way of not getting taken advantage of.   But for people who want to show love differently, perhaps the better (?) advice is to find a partner with whom you don’t need boundaries.   Who will appreciate you for your willingness to bend and who will bend in return, who won’t often ask you to do things you don’t like, will do things he doesn’t like in exchange, and never ask you to do anything you truly hate.   Of course, such a man would have to be empathetic and intuitive.   Is that more, or less, important than suave and funny?   Real question.   I know what the answer *should* be.

       

      BTW, enjoy your heat and humidity.   We just had an ice storm here, and before that we enjoyed temperatures of -20 C.   Though I will say, a warm drink by the fire on a blizzardy day is an experience to be savoured.

      1. 19.1.1
        Marika

        Hi Jeremy

        Yes, fair enough! Canada blows my mind. 30 below in winter then 30 above in summer. I’ll definitely take dealing with the humidity in my temperate little island home over that 🙂 Can’t wrap my head around those freezing temps.

        Of course you have your challenges, but you write on here as though it comes naturally to you to weigh up the merits of every decision including projecting into the future and consideration of personality…. ahh it’s making my head hurt just writing it!

        I am surprised about the boundary stuff. Maybe boundaries is the wrong word. I recall you had a lot of pretty strict ‘razors’, I think you called them, whilst dating. Not now, of course. I know you *should* date that way, and I think Clare does.

        Your suggestion is a good one. Definitely they don’t have to be ‘suave’ (remember I come from a place where some clubs / restaurants have signs specifying the need to wear a shirt!), but sense of humour is a must. I think that’s okay given I don’t get hung up on stuff like height or education minimum. Probably a big deal breaker is sense of humour, actually. And it is somewhat logical (really!). If you can laugh with someone through life’s challenges, that says a lot (IMHIO) – in my humble idealistic opinion 😉 I’ve also tried to date the very lovely but humourless or overly serious types, and I just couldn’t. It also wasn’t fair to them.

        I will start to give notice to how happy they are to accommodate my wishes, though, amongst the funny ones. Good idea.

        1. Jeremy

          Yes, sense of humor is important, I agree.   I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have one, but it’s important that a couple be able to laugh together at the same things.   I might be able to weigh decisions and project personality into the future as easily as breathing, but my sense of humor never jived well with most people’s – they groan at the things I find funny.   My wife, though, has come to have an appreciation for my sense of humor.   For example, she has a colleague named Claudia Chee, and I know a guy whose name is Frank Rios.   I told my wife that if Claudia married Frank she’d become a cereal monogamist.   I laughed about it for 20 minutes and she did politely smile.   Then she referred me to a Facebook site for Dad Jokes.   I’ve found my people 🙂

    2. 19.2
      Clare

      Marika,

      “Clare, you’re so good at this dating stuff; inspiring actually.” –  Sheer perseverance. I’ve been hurt a lot. Like Evan (with women), I’ve dated and interacted with A LOT of guys. But I am in a happy relationship now with a guy who makes my lady bits tingle  and  who puts in the effort. So, that’s nice.

      “But I’ve gotten to the place after much practice and trying to force things that I’m happy to let stuff go within reason if a person inspires me and contributes to my life. So far I haven’t found personally that the energy and effort required to enforce boundaries [for me] is worth the stress, with some exceptions.”

      Yeah like I said, I’m with you here, to an extent. I think when you’re a calm, easygoing person, enforcing boundaries with other people is just so unpleasant and not a way you want to spend your energy. I  hate  conflict and difficult conversations. That’s why I actually adopt the strategy of taking a step back from the person if they’re doing something I don’t like, and only having the conversation as a last resort. I’d rather take a time-out from the situation and go home and have a bit of breathing space from the person than say to them “You’re doing xyz and I don’t like it.” If I feel I need to say something to my boyfriend, I will in a gentle, non-confrontational way, and then I’ll leave him on his own for a bit to think about it. He usually gets the hint.

      Your story about your SA friend made me laugh! Picture an entire country of people like this. I have one of those small handbags which you can keep close to you as you’re walking and I find it a hassle to be opening and closing it all the time. At least 2 or 3 times a week I have someone stopping me and shaking their head in concern and reprimanding me (in a kind way) for having my handbag open. This kind of stuff is so ingrained in us.

      And South African guys are absolutely adorable and very traditional and protective, but they are best handled by a strong, kind woman who doesn’t put up with nonsense. Your friend would know what I’m talking about!

    3. 19.3
      Emily, to

      Hi Marika,

      To be clear, I don’t keep people in my life — other than family — if they aren’t contributing to my life.

      I even remove family who aren’t contributing. I don’t give out free passes for moronism just because there’s a blood connection. And I’ve always felt closer to friends, anyway. I was always surprised to find I was spending the supposedly most important days of the year with people … I saw a couple of times a year. I was watching a Medea (Tyler Perry) movie the other day and there’s scene involving a family reunion and they’re all in the yard line dancing to disco! Now that’s a family get together!   🙂

        You all have an open invitation to come and visit.

      I accept.   🙂

      Anyway, in my idealistic world I hope we will all meet some day. Which is why I included you on this comment,  Emily :].  Adrian  too, if he ever comes back.  

      Where is Adrian? If he comes back to the site, he’d better have been absent because he was wrapped up in some steamy love affair. I don’t want to hear about any more of his dates looked “good on paper.”  🙂

  20. 20
    Marika

    Oh Jeremy, God love you!

    If that show Just for Laughs is anything to go by, the Canadians have an amazing sense of humour. Added to which everyone is so helpful & well meaning on that show and take it so well when they find out they were scammed! Adorable!!

    My friend Jack is the pun king and is a member of all those Dad/pun FB groups. You probably know him, haha.

    Puns aren’t my thing (sorry!), but it doesn’t matter. It matters that you make light of things, find humour in life and don’t take it all so seriously. I would laugh at your jokes…probably not for 20 mins though…My last housemate was pretty humourless. I have a washing machine which plays classical music when the load is finished. Why? Just ’cause. I love that the manufacturers added in that feature just to be whimsy. He thought it was annoying and stupid and used to press the ‘sound off’ button when he washed. Boooo

    1. 20.1
      Marika

      Oh and you were brave for sharing your Dad joke, so here’s a stupid one I find hilarious:

      There were three sausages sizzling in a pan (in person you do the hands by your side wiggle like a sizzling sausage). One says “Boy, it’s hot in here”. The second turns to the third and says “Well, would you look at that, a talking sausage!” Hehe. Use it on your kids and your wife…: you’re welcome 🙂

      1. 20.1.1
        Jeremy

        Not bad, not bad.   Ok, here are my 2 favourite dad jokes – maybe Jack will enjoy them:

        I hear the Irish use exactly 239 beans when they make soup.   Adding just one more would be too farty.

         

        A man noticed a woman who was locked out of her car in a parking lot.   “I’ve locked my keys in the car,” she said.   “No problem, let me help,” said the man.   He took off his pants and started rubbing them on the car door, and magically the door opened.   “How did you do that,” asked the woman.   “Easy,” replied the man, “they’re my khakis.”

         

        You’re welcome.   And sorry. 🙂

        1. Marika

          Haha. The bean one made me laugh out loud! I’ve forwarded to Jack. He will love it for sure.

          Right, I want a joke of the day from you…(until Evan bans us both) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *