Date Like a Grownup – an Interview with Bobbi Palmer

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I’m a pretty opinionated guy, which is why I’m surprised to share with you a dating coach who is in perfect sync with my message. Single until 47, Bobbi Palmer looked in the mirror, adjusted her attitude and has been happily married for nearly a decade. Now, at Date Like a Grownup, she shares the same straight-talking practical advice as I do, which is why I’m so excited to have her on the Love U Podcast. Pay attention. This woman knows what she’s doing.

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  1. 1
    Karl R

    Perhaps  my wife and I are unusual, but we  don’t need to be needed. We  want to be wanted.

    Other than that, I agreed with the whole podcast. With few exceptions, it applies equally to men and women.

    1. 1.1

      Evan has mentioned this in other places and I never really understood the ‘men need to be needed’. To the best of my understanding, it’s that being needed makes men feel important, and that men don’t really know how to feel important without material expressions of status. The closest parallel for women is to be desired, because that makes them feel wanted.

      For me, I am important because I’m an expression of life, just like the rest of the universe. (So are men!)   That feels universal and personal. I am wanted by my employer and my pet family, which also feels universal and personal. Yet without a husband, without sex, the personal feels incomplete. It is easier for me to feel important than to feel wanted, even when people stare at me as I walk by. The importance feels more personal than the being wanted, which feels more like objectification. (Clearly, this is my issue. But perhaps it’s true for others as well.)

      Perhaps it’s because so many of us had parents that (mostly unknowingly) made us feel unwanted or abandoned. Perhaps it’s a gender thing that men process this as not being important and women process it as not being wanted, though it’s the same stimulus.

    2. 1.2

      It sounds like a need to be wanted.

      1. 1.2.1
        Karl R


        You could phrase it that way.

        But if you flip it around, why would any sane/healthy person stay in a relationship unless they want to be there? If one person (or both) don’t want the relationship, they’re just wasting their time.

  2. 2
    Emily, the original

    Great pod cast! The part that most resonated was where Bobbi talked about having a friend who never needed you. That’s not a friend; that’s an acquaintance.

    1. 2.1
      Bobbi Palmer

      This really changed my life too, Emily. Needing someone is not a show of weakness…it shows we are human and want to make deep connections. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me. Start by asking friends for some help. I promise that you can learn to love it…and your real friends will love you for doing it! Bp

      1. 2.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Hi Bobbi,

        Thanks for responding. Your story struck a chord with me. Like you were, I am in therapy in my mid-40s and just yesterday in a session asking my therapist why a friendship I’ve had for years (and one in which we have shared meaningful conversations) still feels a bit hallow. Your statement about a friend who never needs you answered my question. Now I just need to apply this to men!   🙂

        1. Malika

          Hi Emily:

          Regarding your question in the comment below:

          That’s a very important distinction you make. You do seem to be aware of the difficulty you have. I hope your therapist is able to help you further with this.

          When you have metaphorically  been kicked in the teeth in romantic relationships, it’s hard to open yourself up to a new romantic situation and be this inviting, supporting, positive and nurturing person that Evan often describes as the ideal girlfriend.  Far from  impossible, but definitely challenging. One of my friends used to jump into romantic relationships as if it was the most easy peasy thing in the world. Then his girlfriend left him for another man, and the girlfriend after that struggled with a heavy cancer treatment, and being her emotional support took  its toll on him.   The man who used to make romantic commitment look as simple as brushing your teeth now has a very wary take on romance, and that has its consequences on his dating life.

          My friends have always been there for me, and i have always been there for them. We have had our ups and downs but it has mostly been fun and an amazing connection.  They have never dumped me for the next shiniest thing that came along, said hurtful things to a level that cannot be unsaid, or chose their  alcohol abuse above our friendship, all things that have happened in my romantic relationships. No wonder it’s easy to be nurturing, supporting  etc to them.


        2. Emily, the original

          Hi Malika:

          They have never dumped me for the next shiniest thing that came along, said hurtful things to a level that cannot be unsaid, or chose their  alcohol abuse above our friendship, all things that have happened in my romantic relationships. No wonder it’s easy to be nurturing, supporting  etc to them.

          All true, and also because sex isn’t involved. The experience seems to be quite different for men, which is where so much of the misunderstanding between the sexes arises.

        3. Bobbi Palmer

          Cool, Emily. A truth of human relationships, I think, is that people are attracted to others who make them feel good. For most of us, it feels really good to be able to help someone, right? Add to that the idea that men have evolved from a place where they literally had to take care of us or we couldn’t survive. Not could their offspring. Keeping us safe, warm and happy is in their nature. And when we allow them to be that…it can be an amazing experience for both the man and woman.

          Oh, and the easiest  way to apply this to men like you can do for women is to remember that Men Are Just People like we are. They really aren’t that different. Just try it…see the response you get. And get ready to have your life changed. <3

      2. 2.1.2

        Hi Emily and Bobby:

        That part of the podcast struck a chord with me too, though i needed a full day to digest it. I remember a guy i was dating asking me ‘are there any chinks in your armour?’ By that he meant that he wondered if there was any way to get through the walls i have thrown up and which have been there for so long i can’t even remember when they were put up (though a good therapist is trying to figure this one out with me). This man was absolutely lovely, but i think my unconscious show of invulnerability drove him away, while i wanted anything but that. I would much rather be Evan’s metaphor of the house with the open door and inviting smell of baking cookies, but that is definitely a work in progress!

        The same is going on with a friend of mine. We have known each other for 15 (!) years but it’s only in the past year that we have become loser friends. This only happened after he admitted about aspects of his life he struggles with (he has asperger’s and finds most form of casual social contact very stressful). He unconsciously put up an outward facade of the perfect life and that has the tendency to intimidate people. It was only when he showed other sides of his life to the outside world that his friendships became more authentic and his stressful thoughts have also been greatly reduced.

        1. Malika

          Closer friends not loser friends (see above)!

        2. Emily, the original


          By that he meant that he wondered if there was any way to get through the walls i have thrown up and which have been there for so long i can’t even remember when they were put up

          I don’t know if you also felt this way when listening to the podcast, but I think Bobbi mentioned being able to be vulnerable with close friends but not men. I can be very warm and supportive and compassionate with friends. With men, however, I’m not good at it. I’m also to a point where I don’t trust myself in making good choices.

    2. 2.2

      I’d have to differ on that one. Identifying what you need to be happy (connection with others, opportunity to share your hobbies and thoughts) are very different from needing another person. I’m not sure everyone listening is making that distinction.

      My experience with people who ‘need’ others is that they typically are not taking responsibility for their own needs, wants and desires. They usually have an inability or unwillingness to provide for themselves. I don’t think it’s on purpose, I think it’s just a place where their personal development got stuck, and they have no idea that they are generally creating their own problems.

      Perhaps what the speaker means is that, in order to allow others to make connection to us, requires us to be vulnerable, to expose our desires and wants in spite of our fears.


      1. 2.2.1

        Hi Nissa,

        I like what you are saying but I am trying to understand the nuances of your doctrine.

        Are you saying that a person could and should be just as happy without someone in their life?

        If so than do you believe that happy single people shouldn’t feel lonely? If they do does that mean that they are not truly happy in your opinion?

        In comment 1.1 you mentioned sex. Do you feel that the only real difference for a happy person that is looking for a companion is sex?

        Friends can provide bonding, you can go out with them, they can comfort you, I even know straight women that cuddle with their close female friends in a non-sexual way. So what can a particular partner bring to a happy person’s life that they do not already have?

        I am basing my questions on your statement that happy people don’t need to be needed nor do they need a partner, I like it I am just trying to understand it.

        1. Nissa

          Hey Adrian,
          I am saying that a person could be happy and rarely lonely without a partner. I’m not a fan of the word ‘never’ because there are always exceptions, especially since one can be lonely in a room full of people. Saying that someone ‘should’ is a judgement. I believe people can be happy, but rarely choose to be. I believe that people who choose to fill their lives with the people and things that make them happy, are happy most of the time.
          Sex is a bit of an exception to me because it’s a high level of intimacy. While I see people having lots of intimacy in their single lives — family, friends, pets — a lot of it is a lower level of intimacy. For example, you might share a mistake or personal flaw with a friend, but not lend them five thousand dollars. The latter is an example of intertwining your finances at a high level. You would only do that high level of intimacy with someone you greatly trust, who has demonstrated dependability and reliability. To me, sex is at this same high level of intimacy. I prefer to share that with people who have demonstrated that they are willing to share that level of intimacy with me, voluntarily and dependably.
          To me, saying that one ‘needs to be needed’ comes from a place of not knowing self-worth. That’s just my opinion. Wanting to be appreciated and to have consistent high levels of intimacy are different to me. I would say that one can be happy without a partner or sex, while recognizing that one can have a higher level of happiness with those things. It’s a spectrum vs a yes/no issue.

  3. 3

    Great podcast, Evan!   I came away with a new concept: decide how you want feel and select a man based on that rather than on a list of attributes (especially superficial ones). It is not that this is a new message from you, but did you know that people have to hear something a minimum of 7 times before they “get”it? Thank you for your work and this blog!

  4. 4


    It might be helpful to go into a little more detail on how you conceptualize “need to be needed”. I think some folks are naturally associating the negative connotation with it.

  5. 5

    Your YouTube link appears not to be working.

  6. 6

    I like what Evan said about progress and deadlines.   It’s a success if you have moved forward in your process. Yes, we all want the end goal: a great relationship.   But if you are that much further this year in that goal than you were last year, that’s success.

  7. 7

    I’ve been thinking more about this podcast as the day went on.   I had three main thoughts:

    1) The question of knowing the difference between a man just being a man and him being a jerk does bear repeating: trust your instincts. Unless you already know your instincts are skewed somehow. But over time, you can tell if someone is being sincere.   I would say most of the men I meet aren’t jerks. Some are just immature. So adorably young even if they aren’t really young anymore. Very sweet, but with very little experience with real, live women. I thought it was so sweet. Until it wasn’t.   But they weren’t intentionally unkind.

    2) This one is harder.   Men want to see vulnerability.   Hell, I want to see vulnerability in men!   Who has to be vulnerable first? Evan says to save some of the real stuff (mental illnesses, debt, addictions, etc.) for later.   I guess for me I lose the nuance in this.   If I can’t share what’s real, it becomes a habit for me to not share at all.   Another situation is if I share something vulnerable and the person doesn’t respond sensitively, it hurts and I’ll probably never share again.   But it’s difficult. Sometimes men don’t actually know what to do when you really need them.   Move some boxes? Sure. Open a jar of pickles, no prob.   But to understand, like in Evan’s case, why chipping a pedicure could make a woman cry? It takes practice, in my experience, for a man to really empathize with that.   To even know to empathize.     But I try to empathize when men get passionate about their things, music, sports, superheroes, politics, electronics, the list goes on and men (not all men, I’m just briefly generalizing to make the point) can be so passionate about these things!   Maybe we all need to be a bit gentler to one another about the things we live for.   Myself, I find it easier if I really like the person and I really get why it was important to them.

    The ‘understood’ part is difficult. Feeling safe with men? Easy.   Heard, yep, they can repeat it back weeks later.   Understood? Crickets. Sigh.   I keep looking, though.

    3) I forgot the third thing! It may come to me later.   I will say to a different point that it sounds like a lot of work.   Bobbi and her partner had to go to therapy and everything.   Evan said it shouldn’t be work in the beginning.   So again, it’s difficult for me to suss out the nuances.   Is it okay to be struggling and/or going to therapy after six months?   Normal to do that after a year? When is it not ‘the beginning’ anymore? Or should you just trust your gut when something feels too difficult and get out?

    I think I know the answer to that one. 😉

    1. 7.1
      Bobbi Palmer

      Hi S. I really  appreciate the thoughtfulness in your comment. I want to clarify  what occurred with my husband and myself in relation to therapy. We met online and married within 6 months. It was truly the easiest Big Thing I’ve ever accomplished in my life. (Yes, I do consider it an accomplishment.) When we went to couples therapy we were about 8 years into our marriage. Evan is right; it should be easy breezy in the beginning.   Doesn’t   mean that you keep things light – no way. You have to share real feelings, experiences, opinions, even a disagreement here and there. But moving through those things should feel natural and just flow. If you’re working hard after a couple months, there’s a good chance you’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

      BTW, I love how you point out that most men aren’t jerks, some are just still boys. I agree. And it’s cute and all…but a sure time-waster if you’re looking for the Real Deal.

      I also agree that it’s really difficult for men to understand our emotions.   It goes both ways. Men and women are alike in many ways, right? We both want to love and be loved. We are both evolved to want to, and yes, need to mate.   We have to work hard to understand one another. So I have to give it to you and Evan’s community for doing that work.

      You said:   Maybe we all need to be a bit gentler to one another about the things we live for. Myself, I find it easier if I really like the person and I really get why it was important to them.

      That’s right on. Kindness and Empathy are musts – not just when dating  but certainly in a relationship. I wish all singles would approach each new person they meet with the appreciation that you are two very different people, and try — really try — to get to know and understand one another in some meaningful way. Don’t wait until you decide if you like him or her! It is a human being in front of you,  probably having the same challenges and disappointments that you are. So I think they deserve your kindness and empathy from the beginning. You’ll find that when you approach dating that way you will enjoy it a lot more and have much better results.

      One last thing, Evan showed us one of the many wonderful things about grownup men: when he cares about you, he will move mountains to make you happy. He will hate when you’re unhappy, and take it as a failure on his part if he can’t fix it. If that means he has to learn to understand why you are crying about your nail polish, that’s exactly what he’s going to do. Gotta love it!

      1. 7.1.1

        Hi Bonnie!

        Thanks so much for replying to my comment. I really did think about that podcast. I also spent today reading John Gray’s new book, Beyond Mars and Venus: Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World.

        You know what? I’m starting to hear the same things from all the dating/relationship folks.   The one thing I don’t hear is what to do when you are weary of trying to understand the opposite sex. Well, John Gray said in his book that if a woman is growing that tired she probably should spend less energy on her man and more on herself. I think he’s right.   He says it’s about rebuilding hormone levels, but it’s not only that.   Self-care is important and you can’t get all your needs met by a partner.   I find it easier to be kind and generous with men when I’ve been kind and generous to myself first.   I may need to stay on my little dating break a bit longer.

        I’m glad you clarified the therapy was 8 years later! It was difficult to tell. And you got married so soon!   Evan suggests that couples wait two years to get married even if they are over 40. His only exception is for couples in their late 30s who want children, but he says even that is taking a risk.

        I remembered my original third thought:   the difference between showing vulnerability and being needy.   I think this is something that is hard for women to tell.   It’s this real push/pull and balance between letting yourself connect with men on a real level, but not really needing to do so.   Which I admit is difficult for me to comprehend. I’ve never been good with middle grounds.     A guy is either in or out.     It’s just simpler for my brain to know where I stand and what I can expect.   The same with friends too. I don’t tend to have (or really want) acquaintances, except at work. So someone is either a real friend or pretty much a stranger. All the people in between seem like in some messy zone I can’t define so I don’t have them.

        But I’m seeing now that people really need to see vulnerability to connect with you, but they don’t really always want you to need them in a real way.   I have to admit, I have never met a man who would move mountains to make me happy.   I meet men who seem to be stumbling around blindly trying to make me happy and me pretending that they are or that they can.   Even if I tell them exactly what to do, they don’t do it.     It’s confusing.   I can see that they are really trying in their way.   It’s confusing because if someone tells you exactly what to do to make her happy, why wouldn’t you just . . . do it? But they don’t. So I guess I haven’t found that person yet.   Fortunately, they build tunnels through mountains now. 🙂

    2. 7.2
      Yet Another Guy


      One thing that women seem to be unable to grasp about men is that we are trained from the time that we are little boys to not show emotion. We are taught to hold back our tears. Emotion is weakness that can be exploited by other men. Anyone who doubts this truism only needs to spend a couple of hours in the food court of any major mall in the United States. I guarantee that it is almost impossible to spend more than an hour so without hearing a mother tell her young son that big boys do not cry. Men of my age literally had the display of emotion beaten out of us when we were boys. Fathers would say, “If you keep crying son, I will give you a reason to cry.” Failure to stop crying at that point often resulted in a spanking. Emotion suppression is part and parcel of the training that Evan has mentioned about men not expecting to be handed anything in life, which is why a man does not lose his mind when the woman in his life loses her job during a downsizing; however, the world ends if the opposite occurs.

      It is difficult for a man to be vulnerable. It goes against everything that he has been taught from the time that he was old enough to walk. The typical man associates emotion with weakness, and no man wants to be seen as weak. A man must walk a fine line between being emotionally available and being unmanly. A man is expected to be emotionally available when the woman in his life needs to feel loved and her stoic rock when she needs to feel secure. Walking that fine line can be exhausting.

      1. 7.2.1

        Thanks for replying Yet Another Guy.   I do understand that it difficult for men to be vulnerable. How? Because they tell me that all the time.   One male friend even recommended a film about it that I watched called The Mask You Live In. So I get it.

        But men also have to understand that women grow up in the same world.   It’s not easy for every woman to be vulnerable and to trust.   Especially someone she doesn’t know well. I also grew up in a household where I was told I’d be given something to cry about.   And I was such a crier!   I’m not sure when I stopped.   I think sometime in elementary school when I saw how other kids were treated when they were crying.   Children can be merciless.   I think, of course, this is worse for boys and men.   But it depends on the culture you were raised in. I’m a pretty sensitive person in a very insensitive world. Still. I just hide it better now.

        So I’m back to my question: who is to be vulnerable first? Maybe we each (men and women) want to see this in one another.   How does one make it safe for another to be vulnerable? With the guys I dated in the past, I made it so safe for them.   They would share things with me (usually in bed) that they hadn’t told anyone.   But they didn’t know how to make me feel as safe. Sometimes I was vulnerable with them anyway, but it didn’t work because I still didn’t feel safe.   Safe enough, but that’s not really the same thing. Most men never really realize how sensitive I really am and if they do, well, maybe they decide that’s not really what they want.   Maybe they don’t want to be as mindful of their speech and habits.   I don’t know, I just know that it’s harder for me to do over time.

        Like someone above, sometimes I think people don’t really know who I am.   Or they do but they don’t quite know what to do about it.   So we don’t connect.   It’s interesting because it’s similar to what Emily said above.   For me it’s all about feeling safe.   It’s funny how you can feel so safe with someone in the beginning, that they were able to make you feel that way and yet that feeling of safety isn’t able to be sustained.   Like you both knew how to be vulnerable and be safe with one another but then later on you don’t. I truly don’t know what to do when that happens.

      2. 7.2.2

        Totally agree with you.   I would like to see a narrowing of the gap in gender emotion expressing.     I NEVER corporally punished my son for expressing his emotions, and I think that whole “I’ll give you something to cry about” stuff is “nonsense” when directed at EITHER gender.   (My Dad used that line on me and my sister as well, but he was the cruelest to my brother in regards to physical abuse, to this day I HATE what that man did to my dear brother)

        I don’t think boys should be forced to swallow most of their emotions, nor do I think girls should be allowed to use crocodile tears to get their way.   I do think there are some general difference in the emotional make up between the genders, but that difference has been GREATLY exaggerated and skewed and has had a very negative polarizing effect.

        Getting back to how I raised my son, I would always acknowledge his feelings, but I did outline the boundaries of acceptable behavior in that regard.   (“I know you are angry at your friend, but you are not allowed to hit him, you can either TELL him why you are mad, or you can walk away”)   He is grown now, and I think he is basically balanced emotionally.   I never struck him for crying, showing anger, etc.   (In fact I probably corporally punished 2-3 times in his whole life)   To this day, as a grown man, he knows he can express ANY emotion to me, and I will not judge, mock or ridicule him.   Of course, these moments of sharing emotions are getting fewer and farther between as he is an adult now, but he knows if he needs to vent or get something off his chest, I’m just a phone call away.

      3. 7.2.3
        Bobbi Palmer

        I SO appreciate you sharing this! You are helping women understand you and empathize with you. I see that it’s a fine line, indeed. What moves you through this challenge is good communication. Don’t be afraid to tell a woman that you really want to make her happy, but can’t figure out what she needs. Ask her to tell you. Or tell her that you’re just not used to showing emotion, but would like to have her help doing so. This is what partnership is all about.

        One other thing: many women have also experienced the  “If you keep crying, I will give you a reason to cry”; me included. We also struggle with showing our emotion. We feel it deeply,  but have been trained that no one wants to hear it. I know that when you care about a woman, you probably do. Just so you know. You  can help her too.  

  8. 8

    The only problem is that women have male friends like that and only if the man has other traits that make him boyfriend material (which depend upon the woman’s predilections generally whiney is not one of them), if he treats you well, enjoy time with him and he doesn’t put you down yes sounds crazy but some men start out so nice for two years then they start asking why you drank the first cup of coffee before he did. That is the beginning of the end for any sane woman ( though I tend to hope that phase is due to BPH or some other excuse and just leave for the day or two hoping he will see th light)   A jerk is a jerk but since I spent a long time starting in my late 40s until recently with a some time jerk, they don’t get better when they get older. They become a full time crabby boring jerk It didn’t have to be that way but part of it I think was due to memory loss and blaming it on who else? The woman so exit stage left for the final curtain scene.

  9. 9

    Could someone give me some examples of how a woman would put walls up?

    And how do you know the difference between a woman putting up walls out of fear of being hurt and a person who is just unable to give healthy love and affection.

    I guess I am just trying to understand because a defensive person just needs someone who is patient to show them they are worth trusting but a person who is unable or unwilling to give love and affection is different to me.

    1. 9.1
      Karl R

      Adrian said:

      “Could someone give me some examples of how a woman would put walls up?”

      Sure. Evan recommends that women show their interest in men by making eye contact and smiling.

      Last night I ran across an old post by a defensive woman. She never makes eye contact with men, out of fear that they’ll follow her home. That’s the same signal that women give when they find me unattractive and want me to leave them alone.


      Adrian said:

      “I guess I am just trying to understand because a defensive person just needs someone who is patient to show them they are worth trusting but a person who is unable or unwilling to give love and affection is different to me.”

      That’s impractical, at best.

      The defensive women are perpetually giving out the same signals that normal women do … when the normal women want to be left alone.

      So, in order to do as you suggest, you will end up wasting a lot of your time demonstrating to women that you’re trustworthy … only to discover that these are healthy women who are wishing that you’d get a clue and get lost.

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