The All-Or-Nothing-Marriage – an interview with Eli Finkel

Eli Finkel wrote perhaps my favorite relationship book of 2017, The All Or Nothing Marriage, which talks about how the best marriages have gotten stronger while the rest of marriages have gotten weaker. Not only is it a really powerful and instructive book for single women looking for the ultimate relationship in the 21st century, but this is definitely one of my favorite Love U Podcasts ever. Enjoy.

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  1. 1

    Our moms did set us in front of the TV.  But I think I came out okay. 🙂 And you too, Evan! Not saying I’d do the same, but I don’t feel scarred for life by it.

    Interesting what he says about investing enough resources into a marriage to get the higher-level, self-actualization needs that you want met.  I’m reading the book and am 8 pages from the end.  Here’s what surprised me in the ‘recalibrating’ chapter.

    If we elect to adopt a monogamy norm in our own marriage, we should probably appreciate the magnitude of that commitment.  We should consider what other things we’re willing to forgo in our marriage or what additional investments we’re willing to make for the arrangement to be fulfilling, perhaps including efforts to keep our bodies fit and, in some cases, to have sex even when we’d rather not.

    He says, perhaps.  Just not what I thought investment meant. But I read similar advice in a book for Christian wives. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I repeat, I’m not saying it’s bad, just I was surprised.

    So should we not go all in marriage? I do agree wholeheartedly we should diversify our energies so we aren’t trying to get all our needs met via one thing in our life.  On the other hand, I think if some people don’t go all in, they won’t be putting enough energy or investment in the marriage, esp. when things get difficult.

    What are the consequences of prioritizing personal fulfillment through marriage?

    Good question.  If the goal is to be happy, then you might not get that every single year of your marriage.  Dr. Finkel suggests focusing less on pleasurable existence and more on meaning and purpose. Here’s how he puts it:

    If we approach marriage from how we can build a meaningful sense of relationship fulfillment, rather than focusing on being happy all the time the odds that we can sustain high levels of marital commitment increase substantially.  Food for thought!

    Is the version of me that you like the version of me that I like?  It’s like when one guy said the thing he really liked about me was my sense of style. I was stunned. I like to dress up but that’s not the thing that’s a value for me.  Not why we stopped dating, but now I realize he really didn’t see the me that was important to me.

    This podcast is totally like a class!  I took a lot of notes too! And yes, most people I know do know–before reading the book–the historical and cultural history behind marriage. That said, I think it’s a lot of work to really be working on all the parts of your life at once.  Simpler, but unrealistic, to expect it from a relationship with one person. But maybe we need to focus on what’s realistic.

    Evolving definitions of masculine and feminine.  Yes, I’m interested in this too!  Thank you, Dr. Finkel for talking about this.  It gets so binary out there.  I hope there is a reckoning about masculinity.  It seems to be going that way.   I would love an hour on that.  😀 I did enjoy this podcast.

    1. 1.1

      Hi S,

      What about that statement surprised you?


      1. 1.1.1

        When I was reading a book for Christian wives, the value of having sex with your husband while not in the mood was discussed. One woman described being tired from work or something and although she and her husband had planned a night, when the night came she was so tired.  And then she thought maybe it could be a quickie, but he had planned an elaborate evening.  She called it the difference between a quick bite to eat and the whole Thanksgiving dinner. 🙂

        She prayed on it for guidance and when she saw how earnest he was she did her best to shake off her tiredness and get into it.  She loved her husband and in the end, it turned out okay.  For her, the realization was that being a wife sometimes meant putting her needs aside.

        The story made me feel uncomfortable at first.  She seemed fine in the end, but I was really feeling her description of the exhaustion she described.  I was glad for her and I thought it was really her faith in what a Christian wife should be was what got her through.

        I was surprised to read something similar in Dr. Finkel’s book that’s secular, though discusses spirituality.  I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing for a spouse to do on occasion, religious or not.  But in the book I read for Christian wives, I felt that that woman’s faith really helped her in her decision.

        1. Lisa

          I find it interesting though, that despite the fact that women are advised to have sex with their husbands if they are not in the mood, men are not given the same advice.   It is because women are supposed to be accomodating, men not so much.  In this day and age, there are countless marriages where the woman wants sex and the man is not having it with her.  Often times due to porn, or ED issues, or just a lower sex drive.   He too should be encouraged to have it even when he does not want to.  Roles are changing and with that so are these things.

        2. Yet Another Guy


          It is several orders of magnitude easier for a woman to have sex when she is not in the mood than it is for a man. All that is needed is personal lubricant.  On the other hand, an erection is a complex hydraulic event that requires an exact sequence of nerve impulse and biochemical interactions to occur correctly or nothing is happening.  Over sixty percent of men over age forty experience difficulties getting and/or maintaining an erection firm enough for penetration at least periodically.  By age fifty,  how clean of a life a man has lived starts to appear in his sexual prowess because non-clean living takes its tool on endothelial function, resulting in reduced nitric oxide synthase expression accompanied by reduced nitric oxide production (nitric oxide is the vasodilator that allows an erection to occur). Granted, a man can always give a woman oral, but that is often not what a woman desires.  The moral of the story is to ensure that your man maintains a heart/blood glucose healthy lifestyle or it will show up in the bedroom.

        3. S.


          It takes more than just lying there and being lubricated.   And I think that the husband described in Christian wives book wanted more than that.  And also if a woman isn’t into it it can be rather, invasive.   I’m glad the wife in the book figured out a way to have this be a very positive experience for her and her partner.  Otherwise, it can be a negative experience and I don’t think anyone would want that.

          I do agree about staying in shape, but people really don’t seem to get that until the issues are upon them.  I eat extremely clean, even the past few months reducing gluten and dairy. It feels great.  But when I’ve gone on dates, most men are eating meat and carbs.  And most men I meet over 50 are overweight. Not obesely so, but they are. I don’t really mind it. As someone wrote somewhere else, you have to compromise on something.  And as I wrote, I thought that sex drives would go down as folks age. Heck, I don’t even think we were biologically intended to live as long as we are! So I’m happy just to be here. 🙂

          I also don’t expect a man in his mid-fifties to look or behave physically like a man in his mid-thirties.  Just isn’t realistic.

        4. Gala

          I find it interesting though, that despite the fact that women are advised to have sex with their husbands if they are not in the mood, men are not given the same advice.

          Exactly, this ^^. And then people are surprised at Aziz Ansari type of stories…

        5. Emily, the original


          On the other hand, an erection is a complex hydraulic event that requires an exact sequence of nerve impulse and biochemical interactions to occur correctly or nothing is happening.  

          There are things you can do other than intercourse. There’s nothing that has to happen at each sex session for it be successful.

        6. Yet Another Guy

          *toll, not tool

        7. Theodora

          Well, Aziz Ansari was not exactly her husband.  I think the advice to take a little bit into account the needs of a husband is sensibile and different from a story where a woman blows a guy on the first date because he’s a “celebrity”.

        8. Yet Another Guy

          @Emily, the original

          There are things you can do other than intercourse.

          Absolutely, that is why I brought up giving oral.  However, some women take it as an affront if a man does not achieve an erection.  It is as if he no longer finds her sexually desirable when, in reality, it is fairly common for a man to not achieve an erection on demand or even through manipulation from time to time, especially men over the age of 40.  Experiences such as these lead men to reach for the little blue pill when what is needed is re-education that what is occurring is a natural part of aging.

          When a man is the cause of a couple becoming non-sexual, it is usually because he has lost confidence in his ability to perform.  This article covers the topic of the male role in ending a couple’s sexuality:

        9. Emily, the original


          However, some women take it as an affront if a man does not achieve an erection.  

          As a culture, we have to stop thinking of sex as successful if the man gets an erection and as sex “being done” when the man gets off. There are no rules or benchmarks. Some men think they’ve failed if the women doesn’t get off. There is nothing less sexy than someone pressuring you. The only thing that matters is if both parties had a good time.

        10. Mrs Happy

          Dear YAG,

          Your statement “It is several orders of magnitude easier for a woman to have sex when she is not in the mood than it is for a man. All that is needed is personal lubricant.” is partially correct  in that penetrative sex can occur when a woman isn’t aroused.  But it may not be easier for the woman.

          Anatomically a woman’s vagina, the distance up to her cervix,  is about 2-3 inches.  The cervix and top of the vagina is usually easily reached by our middle fingers, hence tampon insertion is possible every month.  I believe you’re American; my experience with American erect penises is only n=1 during a long indoor snowy winter in Washington years ago, but here in Australia my n value is higher and I can confidently tell you that the average erect penis is longer than 2-3 inches.  Therefore, in an unaroused woman, the penis is, with some force, repeatedly hitting the cervix.  It is far from enjoyable and sometimes it hurts.  The sex you speak of, when the woman is not in the mood, happens because it can and the man is prioritising his desire to penetrate and ejaculate, but the sex you say is easier, is easier for the man, not the woman.

          I suspect YAG that you are a man who turns his woman on, and really I write this comment more so others can understand the importance of arousal for a female, in lengthening her vagina; it’s something both men and women don’t always appreciate.

          Oh and big surprise that a movement led by men (Christianity) states – in fact even has rules about it – that wives should do what their husbands want.  At least the Torah mentions it’s a husband’s duty to sexually please his wife – I do like that part.

      2. 1.1.2

        I don’t think Dr. Finkel makes a distinction between the genders.  I haven’t read any books written by Christian males.  But I know there is the myth that men are always up for sex or their drives are higher than those identified as women. That’s not always true, though. I think Dr. Finkel would agree about men staying in shape too.

        It is interesting to me because I thought it was a given that most (not all) peoples’ sex drive would lower with age and that bodies do age.  But what I realize now is that people appreciate the effort.  I don’t think anyone expects their spouse to look at 60 the way they did at 20, but I do think they appreciate the effort to look attractive.

        According to the book, if you want marital longevity, investments have to be made.  It’s just interesting that couples who want to reach higher levels with their partners, to have partners who push them toward growth, might also want a partner to make an effort with the sex and their appearance as well.

        It’s hard for me to make a sincere effort at all of that at one time.  But I appreciate that some years, like after his wife had a baby and he went through a depression, one can suspend that effort.

        “On that trip, she and I decided to forget about Mont Maslow’s summit. Seeking bliss through the marriage–particularly looking to each other for assistance with personal growth and self-expression–just made things worse.  So we just stopped trying.  We put our heads down and focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  That approach worked.”

        This passage helped me as reader to understand one doesn’t have to do and be all things at once during a marriage, especially during difficult times.


  2. 2

    Hi Evan this was by far one of my favorite podcast so thank you…

    I hope you have more interviews with academics that don’t work in the dating and relationship field but have researched and written literature on it in the future… I enjoy hearing a none politically correct, pragmatic yet accurate views on dating and relationships that are backed by hard science. Also even as professor Finkel said Evan you do honestly ask great questions! Questions that we all want to hear the answers to that perhaps the author never got a change to address in his or her book.

    Two quick questions:

    1. Are you no longer uploading podcast videos on YouTube?

    2. Next time you update your website could you consider perhaps somehow having it like reddit?

    I am asking is there a way that we readers would have to click to expand and view all the various sub-topics in the comments section? Like for example a person who wants to just read comments about the main subject you discussed or posted we can just read straight down 1-20 and then at our leisure go back and click on comment 4 where there are 32 sub-comments addressing a offshoot topic of the main one?  … Anyway just something to consider

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz


      1. Thanks. I’m a science-based guy who has just enough touchy-feely energy to be a dating/relationship coach. I loved talking to Finkel and Jonah Lehrer and Robert Glover, etc.

      2. I haven’t posted on YouTube for probably a year. The studio was fun; it just didn’t justify its own expense.

      3. I appreciate your feedback, and, of course, it’s valid. However, what may be hard to remember as a blog reader (as opposed to customer) is that blogging isn’t my job – it’s more like a hobby. Therefore, if any improvements are made to the business, they will be ones that are revenue-generating, as opposed to simply user-friendly. It’s the difference between fixing the foundation of your house and painting your bedroom a new color for fun. The former makes a big difference; the latter is just going to have to wait. Appreciate your contributions though and wanted to acknowledge that here.


  3. 3
    Yet Another Guy


    I stumbled across Lori’s piece in the Atlantic last year (  I could barely contain myself while reading it.  If women believe that men do not settle when they marry, they are either delusional or on some kind of mind altering substance.  It is just that men are okay with settling.  My ex-wife was not the hottest women I ever dated, nor was she the one with whom I was the most passionate.  The were no rainbows, unicorns, or long walks in the beach.  Heck, I was was barely attracted to her.  I chose my ex because I knew that I could depend on her to do the right thing, and I also knew that she was good with money; therefore, we would not constantly have arguments over unnecessary spending.  Most of the women I encountered up to her where total disasters when it came to spending.  When it comes to relationships, men have far lower expectations than women.  As long they have food, a place to sleep, sex occurs on a somewhat regular basis, and their wives/girlfriends do not nag all of the time, most men are golden.

    I have met a lot of women via dating sites who after being divorced for an extended period of time regret divorcing.  Sure, there are those who are not sorry that they initiated the process, but a much larger percentage of women my age who desire to be with a man are terrified by the specter of spending the rest of their lives alone.  As Lori alluded to in her article, older men have an easier time finding a new mate who will commit than do older women, and desirable older men have the pick of the litter if they date within their peer group just like desirable women did when they were in their prime.

    1. 3.1

      … Heck, I was was barely attracted to her.

      And look how well that has turned out for everyone involved

      1. 3.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        My marriage lasted the better part of two decades. That is longer than many where a couple started with solid mutual chemistry.  Being physically attracted to one’s spouse has little to do with marriage longevity.  Remaining married for a long period of time requires a lot of work and sacrifice.  Add children to the mix, and the level of sacrifice skyrockets.

        Children stress test a marriage in ways that a couple cannot begin to comprehend before they arrive.  My ex and I had natural twins.  Nothing prepares a couple for multiples.  Caring for multiples is infinitely more difficult than raising singletons because one is dealing with more than one child at the same stage of development.  I chuckle when parents of singletons complain about how difficult is to care for an infant–they have no idea!  There is a reason why moms of multiples groups exist.

        1. Shaukat


          I, for one, actually enjoy reading YAG’s comments for the most part-they’re generally humorous and don’t seem to come from a place of anger and failure, unlike Tron’s posts. Besides, his more polarizing statements are probably required to balance comments such as these:

          I think, men have very limited “utility” if you will. They are needed between the ages of 30 and 45, May be 50, to help rear kids. After that, they can go to the freaking planet they are from.

        2. Yet Another Guy


          Besides, his more polarizing statements are probably required to balance comments such as these

          It is all good.  I am a big boy. 🙂

      1. 3.2.1
        Yet Another Guy


        Regret divorcing?

        I do not regret divorcing, but I have encountered quite a few women my age who have been divorced for several years who second guess their reasons for divorcing their ex-husbands.  Many have said that their reasons appear to be trivial in hindsight compared the difficulty of securing a peer age man.  Many of those who want a man are terrified by the prospect of growing old alone.  Dating a peer at fifty-something is nowhere near as easy for a woman as it is for a man because there is a surplus of fifty-something women due to men starting to die off, and the desirable fifty-something men who are in the dating pool are generally not interested in dating fifty-something women.  Sure, fifty-something women can get much younger men who are only interested in sex; however, that is not what they want.  They want a peer-age partner.  This mismatch in desire is common enough that the Internet is littered with articles about it.  I believe that even Evan has fielded questions related to fifty-something men not wanting to date fifty-something women. The following blog entry about the problem is interesting:

        Here is the first comment:

        Feeling good about yourself is really the most important thing, because you are probably going to be alone if you find yourself alone at 50. The stats are frightening – 12% of single women 50-60 find sexual partners – it goes down to 4% at 60. We can all be positive and optimistic , but psychologists suggest practicing alternative forms of sexuality and some openly advocate partner sharing.

        1. Marika

          So YAG, what’s your point? That women should remain in shitty marriages, as dating will get harder for them as they age? Thanks, and water’s wet.

          Do you honestly think women are keen to take the advice of someone who consistently reveals themselves as both incredibly biased against women and entirely blind to their own flaws?

          Look, I’m sorry your ex wife stopped having sex with you. I’m sorry that girl wouldn’t date you when you were both 17 as she was chasing 20 year olds. But dude, honestly, you are a broken record. And fast becoming the new Tron.

          Not that you’ll listen, but please play a new record or just stop dating those clueless females you have such disdane for.

        2. Gala

          You are so funny YAG! Who are those women who are terrified of growing old alone? They all need to get into therapy because as women we ALL grow old alone. Men simply die sooner. And, in their golden years, they are not at all golden. My parents are what you would call “happily married”. They have been together for over 40 years, raised the family, comfortably  retired.  But I can tell you that my mom at this point in life would be much happier on her own – or with a suitable female companion. I love my dad but he’s gotten very difficult. He is irritable, he loses his temper over nothing, he nags (and this behavior is only directed towards my mom). He has mood swings, he’s gotten stubborn, they bicker, they are at a point where they prefer to spend as much time apart as possible – he stays at my vacation property a lot and she’s happy with her circle of girlfriends in the city. She and the ladies went on a cruise together. And i do realize now, from talking to other people with parents if the same age, this is fairly common. In fact this isn’t even that bad. Suffice to say, seeing their dynamic at this age is hardly a commercial for marriage. I think, men have very limited “utility” if you will. They are needed between the ages of 30 and 45, May be 50, to help rear kids. After that, they can go to the freaking planet they are from. I, for one, certainly plan to grow old without a nagging guy attached to my hip.

        3. Yet Another Guy


          So YAG, what’s your point? That women should remain in shitty marriages, as dating will get harder for them as they age? Thanks, and water’s wet.

          My point is that men and women give up on marriages thinking that replacing a spouse with someone better will be easier than it is in practice.  For better or worse, women become incredibly selective as they age.  I am certain that the increase in selectivity is warranted.  However, the reality is that a woman’s best bet for finding a man who will meet a lengthy list of requirements is when she is young.  As I mentioned not every woman I have met is sorry that she divorced her husband, but enough are disillusioned by their prospects that they are are second guessing their desire to to divorce.  Remember, I am meeting women who desire a mate, not those who have self-selected out of the dating pool because they are happy being alone.  I am certain that the number of women who have self-selected out of the dating pool is as large if not larger than those who are in it.

        4. Yet Another Guy


          But I can tell you that my mom at this point in life would be much happier on her own – or with a suitable female companion.

          If that is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, why does your mother remain with your father?  Or better yet, why does your father remain with your mother?  Maybe, it could be that being with someone difficult who one knows is better than being with no one for many people? After all, your parents could divorce any time they desire to do so.  Yet, they remain together.  The thought of being alone in one’s golden years is scary for many people.  That is all I am attempting to highlight.  I would personally rather be alone than be miserable, and I am certain that there are many women my age who feel the same way.  It does not detract from the reality that most divorces are initiated by women, many of who later regret doing so after they discover how difficult it is to find a better man who will commit.

        5. Gala


          because what would a divorce in mid-70ies accomplish? It’s not like they are gonna go on tinder and swipe (though my mom enjoys attention from men her age in their community..). At that point it is what it is. As long as they can arrange their lives in a way that doesn’t make anyone involved catatonic, it’s all good. My point is, anybody who’s buying into the whole “don’t die alone” spile is being sold a bill of goods. We all die alone. Marriage was designed as a legal construct to handle property and inheritance matters. It was never been, historically, a way for two people to grow old in harmony, and moreover, we, humans, were never supposed to live this long in the first place. So it is really not a surprise that marriage fails miserably over a long-run and into one’s golden age? No, it is not… and women should make plans on how they are going to live in their later years without a man, because it is the most likely scenario for them (mortality and other issues). A dose of reality wouldn’t hurt anyone

        6. Theodora

          . I think, men have very limited “utility” if you will. They are needed between the ages of 30 and 45, May be 50, to help rear kids. After that, they can go to the freaking planet they are from. I, for one, certainly plan to grow old without a nagging guy attached to my hip.


          If what you say is true, there are a few corollaries to this statement:

          1) The “emotionally unavailable” men so many women complain about are actually doing women a great service: the possibility to be happier and more content alone, by withdrawing from a serious relationship. Then men like Tron and to a certain degree YAG are just giving women what they truly want, a happy singlehood, by treating them as booty calls at best.

          2) Most women I see on this blog and others are over 35-40 years old, divorced, women who already had the children they wanted or are childless by choice. Why are they still seeking a relationship instead of enjoying their golden years alone, after men had exhausted their limited utility of helping to rear children?

          c) “Dating coach” and “relationship expert” have become very popular and lucrative professions in the last few decades, to the point of inflation: Evan has weekly another guest who works in this field. With the exception of Robert Glover, who writes specifically for men, the vast majority of the clients, readers and listeners of these dating coaches and relationship experts are women. Didn’t these women get the memo that they are happier alone and men have limited utility? Why do they keep paying for workshops, books and advice which bring them misery and why don’t they keep men away, on they freaking planet they’ve come from? Maybe it would be better for everyone involved (except dating coaches  and relationship experts, that is).

        7. Gala


          1) i agree completely. Men like that are doing women a service by getting out of the roaring scene

          2) 35-40 is not the “golden age”. 65+ is. Women at 35-40 still have plenty of needs where men come in and may still not be done having children. But, it is a fact that divorced women are less likely to seek Re-marriage compared to divorced men (you live and you learn). I enjoy having a boyfriend. We do stuff together. The sex is good. I think we will make cute kids. But honestly when i imagine myself at 60, i always picture myself living alone, in my perfect forever house, the way I want and without having to compromise on a single thing. I’d be an active member of the community, plant a batterfly garden and have 3 cats and a dog. I would travel to see my kids and to pursue my hobbies, go to art galleries and opera etc. That would make me very happy and content.

          3) see #2

  4. 4
    Mrs Happy

    I’m trying to imagine how a spouse compels one to reach higher in goals etc, because in my experience, an individual usually does that sort of personal growth and expansion themselves, driven by internal motivations and a willingness to work hard.   Married or single, people who want to reach higher do, and the rest (most) (yes I’m cynical) of the population doesn’t.  I’m a little sceptical regarding how much a person/spouse can truly influence another in this.  Also, adding this to the already burgeoning list of things a spouse should do, exhausts me even in thought alone.  Is there no end to expectations?

    1. 4.1

      I think that’s kind of the point, that we’ve grown to want so many things from one relationship.  In the last eight pages of the book, Dr. Finkel describes three categories of needs: (1) needs that we can meet only through our partner; (2) needs that we can meet through our partner or some other significant relationships, such as a friend or other family members; and (3) needs that we can meet through our partner, though other significant relationships, or on our own.

      He asks that a spouse make a list of needs and sort them into these categories.  One reason is the realize how much one could be asking of their marriage.  The other reason to do this is to perhaps adjust what one is asking of the marriage, the resources one is investing in it, or both.

      I’m just literally quoting from the book.  🙂 I think the last few pages were the most important of the entire thing.  It’s certainly worth reading.

    2. 4.2

      Mrs Happy, I will attempt to answer your question because I think it is an important one.  I think that each of us embarks in life on our own trajectory of personal growth.  And whether or not we set difficult or easy goals, whether or not we expend the effort to reach those goals, those goals are our own.  When 2 people marry, it is like 2 heavy objects approaching each other in space – the gravity of each one affects the other – must affect the other.  Our own personal trajectories should be modified by those of our partner.


      I was the driven, career-oriented, strategically intelligent one.  My personal trajectory was to excel in my profession, help a lot of people, make a lot of money, obtain status, and have a family.  My wife was intelligent too, but with a totally different personality – with intelligence more logistical than strategic.  More family-oriented.  Wildly different base assumptions and decision-making processes.  I grew as a person by learning from her and likewise she from me.  The ways in which we influenced each other’s trajectory did not detract from our own personal goals, but added to them – enhanced them – in ways they never would have been if we had each remained alone.  This is not an unreasonable or effortful objective of marriage.  Frankly, it would be effortfult to NOT let this happen.


      This is why I shook my head at Gala’s remark above about how after age 50 men should go back to whatever planet they are from.  A marriage in which an elderly husband and wife live in parallel is one where both have failed to open their minds and hearts to each other.  It is not the default, nor is it the success.

      1. 4.2.1
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Jeremy,

        your description sounds like a normal marriage to me, rather than one where individuals are continually setting goals and striving for their highest.

        But perhaps I make Austen’s heroine Anne Elliot’s error –

        ‘My idea of good company… is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. ‘ ‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.’

        1. Jeremy

          No, that isn’t the error.

  5. 5

    Absolutely on target! Answered many questions in a deep, thoughtful manner that rounded out many of my thoughts as I look to marrying in my post child rearing years!

  6. 6

    Hello Evan,

    i just wona say  that I loved this podcast my favorite to date, u deal with relationships in the same way hence u are my number one dating coach on the net just because u r yourself and realistic.. when u were gona have a standing ovation and applaud Dr Finkel made me smile cos I felt like doing the same..

    I just bought the book after listening to the podcast twice now.

    I can’t wait for the next time u host Dr Finkel ..

    Thank you

  7. 7


    You’re entitled to your opinion regarding YAG’s comments. And I’m entitled to mine. So are other women on this blog who find his ongoing whining, as well as sick pleasure over the plight of women in his age group, tiresome, to say the least.

    In terms of ‘balancing’, I have no problem pulling up either gender when they make ridiculous comments. I’ve noticed some people will cheer on nasty comments as long as the person making them is their own gender..makes no sense to me. A bonehead comment is a bonehead comment.

    I personally can’t see a whole lot of difference between YAG (who you don’t find offensive) and Gala (who you do). Both of them approach dating in entirely selfish ways, can’t see their own flaws and go out of their way to insult the opposite gender, the very people they date.

    1. 7.1

      Both Gala and YAG are right and both presented two different aspects of the same harsh biological truth (maybe not in the most diplomatic way, but heck, this is a blog, not a G-8 Summit).


      A) As long as women are naturally fertile, men are indeed the disposable sex. Eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap, and one man can impregnate 100 women, making the other 99 men biologically disposable. This dynamic exists all over the animal kingdom and in the mating and dating habits of humans, where 18-35 yo women have the highest SMV (what Gala said).

      B) When women are no longer naturally fertile, there is a power shift in SMV where the surviving males start to have higher SMV than their age peers (what YAG said).

      1. 7.1.1

        It’s not a G-8 summit, Theodora, but it is a blog for people looking for a relationship. As Evan has said, ad nauseum, this is not a charity or a free-for-all to express whatever opinion you like. If you completely disagree with the whole premise of what Evan sells, why on earth be here?

        1. Theodora

          It’s not a G-8 summit, Theodora, but it is a blog for people looking for a relationship. As Evan has said, ad nauseum, this is not a charity or a free-for-all to express whatever opinion you like. If you completely disagree with the whole premise of what Evan sells, why on earth be here?

          Who are you to decide what kind of people should be allowed to comment or not and what kind of opinions should be expressed?

          Are you Evan’s spokeperson? Assistant? The Censorship Bureau? NSA? Homeland Security? God?

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Actually, I get to decide who posts here and my rules are pretty simple and consistent: Don’t insult the host. Don’t insult the guests. Stick to the original post instead of asking your own questions in the comments. And if you have nothing of value to contribute except disdain for me and the single women who turn to me looking for love, go find a different blog. Those people get asked to leave. Everything else gets through because I want a vibrant comments section with different intelligent opinions.

  8. 8


    Your parents sound a bit like mine, but my mother is the one who’s become quite angry and nagging in her older age. It’s not just men. She and the family would be pretty disappointed though if my father dumped her after all they’ve been through. Particularly because I suspect (and this may be the case with your father), she may be in the early stages of dementia. Further, he is hardly blameless in their problems.

    I would imagine any child you may have, aged maybe between around 12-15 when their father turns 50, would be very upset if you dumped their father in the off-chance he may turned nagging in his older age. The unsuspecting guy would likely feel used and want to take revenge, maybe hitting you where it hurts. In the back pocket.

    It’s not sounding like a solid plan.

  9. 9


    I’m someone who knows if a blog isn’t right for them, to move on, not stay around to criticise people the blog is designed for. Or the field of work it covers. Or its owner.

    Do atheists break into churches on a regular basis to disagree with everyone? Do you force yourself into the men’s bathroom because it’s public space and you deserve to be there too?

  10. 10
    Yet Another Guy

    it is a fact that divorced women are less likely to seek Re-marriage compared to divorced men (you live and you learn)

    While men are more likely to remarry than women, the actual difference in the remarriage rate is shrinking.  In the study linked below, sixty-four percent of divorced/widowed men had remarried versus fifty-two percent of divorced/widowed women. The interesting data point is that the percentage of women who remarry has risen while the percentage of men who remarry has declined since 1960.

    Chapter 2: The Demographics of Remarriage


    1. 10.1
      Emily, the original


      it is a fact that divorced women are less likely to seek Re-marriage compared to divorced men (you live and you learn)

      But the simple fact remains that men need women more than women need men in middle age. I have several divorced friends who are in their late 40s through mid-50s and they have no interest in remarrying. They’d like a boyfriend, companionship and sex but don’t want to live with anyone (they own their own their homes and are financially sound) and want the freedom to still spend time with their friends, who provide a support structure that many divorced men don’t have. I know YOU don’t want to remarry but there are divorced men who do.

      1. 10.1.1
        Yet Another Guy

        A man’s desire to remarry depends on if he lived a self-sufficient life before he married as well as if he let himself go while married and has done nothing to correct that mistake post-divorce.  Men who go from having their mothers cook, clean, grocery shop, and do laundry for them to having their wives take over these tasks are much more dependent on a woman to provide structure to their lives.  Established, self-sufficient men only need women for sex and possibly emotional support (that is where friend-zoned women come into play).  For most other things, these men would rather hang out with their male friends because doing so affords them the luxury of a much lower emotional load and a higher fun factor.  Self-sufficient divorced men will only sign up for being a monogamous companion if they have difficulty obtaining sex or they are with a woman who is out of their league. I do not see any of my single  friends who can get dates and sex rushing to the alter or accepting monogamous companion (a.k.a. boyfriend in a box) status.  Most of my able-bodied divorced male friends have absolutely no desire to cohabitate, let alone remarry.  They are very protective of the resources that they managed to maintain through and build post-divorce.  The fact that male desire to remarry has been declining while female desire to remarry has been increasing is a testament to the fact that women have made sex so easy to obtain these days that men with even modest game feel no need to be in a monogamous relationship.  It is easier for a man to be player in his fifties than it was in his twenties because the ratio of single men to single women is reversed, and the disparity grows with each passing year.  Any single fifty-something man who does not have at least two women who will sleep with him at any given time is either doing something wrong or has nothing going for him.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          You have a point, except for this:

          “Self-sufficient divorced men will only sign up for being a monogamous companion if they have difficulty obtaining sex or they are with a woman who is out of their league.”

          If my wife ever passes away, I can assure you, I will endeavor to be remarried – and it’s not because I’ll have difficulty obtaining sex or will be shooting out of my league. It’s because I believe that love and a life shared is the greatest thing on earth. So please, continue to speak for yourself, but don’t try to speak for all men. You surround yourself with men like you. I surround myself with men like me.

        2. Yet Another Guy


          I am speaking for myself and the men my age that I know.  Sure, there are men who want to remarry, but there are also women who want to remarry.  It does not detract from the fact that the percentage of men who are remarrying is declining while the percentage of women who are remarrying is increasing in contradiction to what women are claiming on the blog.  The guys I know who sign up for companion status are the ones who are grateful to even have a woman (i.e., men without options).  It is not like women my age are doing men my age a favor by dating us.

        3. Jeremy

          YAG, your comment made me think about so many men in my experience.  Men who reach a certain age – might be 40, 50, 60, whatever – and ask themselves what the point of it all is.  They spent their youth seeking sex and status, and realize that neither of those made them happy in the long-term.  So they might have a mid-life crisis – they might realize their unhappiness and ask themselves what will actually make them happy.  They might answer themselves that the reason for their unhappiness is their failure to achieve their childhood dreams – and so they might buy a fancy car, divorce their wives and seek younger women, move to an island and take up wind surfing.  I’ve seen the whole gamut.  But the common denominator in all of it is that the answer these men give when asking themselves what will make them happy is so often WRONG.  It gives them positive affect, but not happiness.  Their lives lack meaning, and they don’t even know where to start looking for that meaning.  They have no religion, no community, no strong beliefs in much of anything.  And while the bonfire of their former lives might warm them temporarily, it ultimately leaves them without fuel.


          Happiness for men comes from love and companionship.  That isn’t something I just made up.  It is truth, even for men who don’t believe it applies to them.  The men who seek marriage from women aren’t necessarily men without options, they are men seeking happiness in a way that might actually work.  As opposed to a string of one-night stands that will leave them questioning what it means to be alive.

        4. Buck25

          @ Jeremy,

          You were doing fine, until this:

          “The men who see marriage from women aren’t necessarily men without options, they are men seeking happiness in a way that might actually work. As opposed to a string of one-night stands that leave them questioning what it means to be alive”

          Except, my friend, that statement is a false dichotomy. The choice is not simply an either/or between marriage and one-night hook-ups. I don’t happen to like the latter any more than you or Evan do; those are little (if any) more than simply scratching an itch. There are however, other options (at least, for the man who is willing to see those where they are available to him).. YAG is quite correct, that we can (and often do) get our emotional support/companionship needs met through our women friends (with or without sex attached, as in an FWB situation). In fact, I would say we can sometimes get our companionship needs met in one relationship, and our sexual gratification in another (both with loving and caring female partners, BTW). It’s obviously also possible for a man to be in a long-term, exclusive relationship with a woman where marriage is not on the table for any number of perfectly valid reasons (for one or both parties); this is quite common in my (over 65 ) age group. There’s nothing inherently magical about a piece of paper, and I frankly do not care a fig for the state’s “permission” (or lack of same) to engage in whatever otherwise lawful relationship I choose to engage in at this stage of my life. YMMV.

          In addition, must I remind you, that that there are many paths to happiness and a meaningful existence, which do not even involve relationships (sexual or otherwise)? You might be surprised to learn that since being mostly retired, I have found not only purpose, but considerable joy, satisfaction and meaning, in making a difference in the lives of others who have absolutely nothing to give in return; in fact, I believe that may turn out to be in a very literal sense, my finest hour. So you see, I can’t lose, by refusing to settle for something less than what I had once, many years ago; and until and unless I find that again, I have no reason to tie myself to one woman. There just wouldn’t be any point in that.


        5. Jeremy

          Buck, if a man is happy, he needs no advice to find happiness.  If a man is unhappy, though, that’s another story.  I’ve written before that according to modern research, long-term happiness is achieved through a combination of positive affect, engagement, relationships, meaning, and achievement.  We need all of these, to some extent, though our personalities lead us to mainly seek out one or two of these and ignore the rest, to our peril.

          There is nothing magical about a piece of paper…..except the magic of behavioral economics.  The piece of paper is a “nudge” to think long-term instead of short.   Because when conflict occurs in a relationship, most people’s brains would tell them to tank the relationship rather than try to work it out unless there was some strong dis-incentive to do so.  Apparently, in unc0mmitted long-term relationships, men end the relationships at least 50% of the time.  But in marriages, men end the relationships far less often.  Because in marriage, the dis-incentive is largely on the man, as you and I both know.  That is both good and bad.  I’ve been glad for it, though, because if ending my marriage had been easy, I might have done it years ago in a period of conflict, and that would have led to long-term unhappiness for me, and a lack of the happiness I now have.  It’s not that marriage itself makes us happy, but it might prevent us from acting in a way that makes us unhappy.  And if none of this applies to you – if you’ve found your own happiness in other ways – then power to you.

        6. Chance

          If you take a look around, one will likely notice that older women who have their financial security needs met (most often through inheritance or divorce settlement) aren’t interested in getting married again.  The women who do not feel financially secure are typically the ones who are willing to re-marry.


          Also, in general, as it relates to women over 30:  if a woman isn’t willing to be with you sans the legal assurances that marriage provides, she doesn’t love you.

        7. Yet Another Guy


          So you see, I can’t lose, by refusing to settle for something less than what I had once, many years ago; and until and unless I find that again, I have no reason to tie myself to one woman. There just wouldn’t be any point in that.

          The thing that I have encountered with older self-sufficient women who are not seeking remarriage or even to cohabitate is that they are looking for what I like to refer to as a boyfriend in a box (BIAB).  A BIAB is a guy that is exclusive like a man in a committed relationship, but superfluous to a woman’s life.  She takes him out of the box when she is not with her girlfriends, children, or grandchildren, kind of like an in the flesh replacement for a vibrator.  I have no problem with being woman’s superfluous sex partner.  Where the problem lies is the monogamy part.  I have no desire to be sexually tied to one woman.  Sex with the same woman usually gets old quickly for me.  There have been a few women where that was not true, but they were total freaks without limits in the bedroom.

      2. 10.1.2
        Yet Another Guy


        However, you are ignoring the trend. In 1960, 70% of men remarried whereas only 48% of women remarried.  In 2013, 64% of men remarried versus 52% of women.  The decline in men remarrying is greater than the increase in women remarrying.  I know why that change is occurring.  Men of my father’s generation and to a greater extent my grandfather’s generation needed a woman.  They were helpless without one (just as women were dependent on a man for financial support).  Most of the men of my father’s generation were doing well if they could manage to cook breakfast for their children (I never saw my grandfather cook a meal). Most were in complete meltdown mode if they had to take care of their houses and children for an extended period of time while their wives were sick.  Things just did not get done without calling in assistance from female family members. Now, more men can fend for themselves just as more women no longer need a man for financial support. While a percentage of men remarry because they want to remarry,  a large percentage of the men who remarry do so because they need a maid and a cook.  If that were not true, we would not have women complaining about about and divorcing over having to pull double duty.  Much of the same can be said for women who remarry.  A lot of women who remarry do so because they need a man for financial support.  The women who remarry that do not need financial support remarry because they want to remarry.

        That whole premise of my original post is that the women in the dating pool are not those who are happy being single and alone.  If that were true, they would not be in the dating pool.  Many women are discovering that replacing their less than perfect husbands with better models is more difficult than they originally assumed.  I have lost track of the number of female profiles I have read where a woman was complaining about serial daters, men wanting nothing more than to hookup, and the general lack of desire of on the part of men to enter into committed relationships with “good” women.   Phrases like “the online candy store” appear over and over.   Yet, women do not see that they approach dating sites like they are shopping out of a catalog where men can be compared and contrasted.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I can only roll my eyes at the men and women who are mirror images of each other yet can only see the flaws in the opposite sex.

          You think women are too picky. Women think men are too picky. I think you’re both picky about the wrong qualities.

        2. Gala

          And yet, despite the “trend”, still more men say they want to remarry and do remarry than women. Kapish? What is there to argue about? Whether this “trend” holds or not remains to be seen as each generation is different. Marriage rates among the millennial are at all times low so once they begin divorcing in droves, which should be right about 3-5 years from today, we shall see what the current generation thinks of remarriage.

  11. 11

    For someone who’s so into studies, you don’t apper to understand self-selecting samples (nor self-selection bias).

  12. 12
    Mrs Happy

    I think YAG has a pertinent point when he states that women divorce then are surprised by the poor options out there for remarrying, and they then wonder whether they should have stayed with husband #1.  Humans in general don’t like to admit error so I doubt many divorced women would clearly admit such.

    For instance, I’m bemused by the not uncommon scenario of: Mrs A divorces Mr A because he cheated on her.  Then Mr A enters the dating market and essentially any woman who couples up with him, is coupling up with a cheater, but it’s not so upsetting for Mr A’s future women that he is a cheater, because he hasn’t cheated on them.  Mrs A meanwhile dates and couples up with Mr B,… and there is a decent chance the reason Mr B is divorced, is because he cheated on Mrs B.  So at the end of the day, Mrs A is with a cheater, Mr B, just not so upset by this, because she’s not with the man who hurt her by cheating on her.  But I suspect overall life would have had less distress for all involved including all the children of couples A, B, and C to Z, if everyone just stayed with their original partners.  They’d all be with cheaters or suboptimal partners in some way, but the alternative to that is pairing up with a different cheater or suboptimal partner, while destroying lives, finances, happiness, stability.

    Everyone’s partner annoys them in about 5-10 ways, and when you switch partners, you just get 5-10 new annoyances with your new partner; your overall happiness probably doesn’t alter, baring cases of relationship abuse/control/violence and the like.

    I hesitate to open 3 old recent cans of worms by pointing out that i) male sex drives, with ii) feeling emotionally disconnected, then iii) prioritising the adults’ feelings over the childrens’ wants, is driving all this behaviour, so I’ll just mention those in passing here at the end.

    1. 12.1

      Where I agree with you, Mrs. Happy, is that all partners are sub-optimal in some ways, all will have habits that annoy us.  Where I will disagree with you – is in the logical model that you built, which only remains logical if other factors are not considered.


      Mr. A cheated on Mrs A, so Mrs A divorced him.  Did he cheat because he is a philanderer, or because Mrs A ignored his needs to the point where he felt he could no longer remain faithful?  Regardless, cheating shouldn’t have been his course of action….but situation A is not the same as situation B.  In situation A, Mrs A might be an excellent partner to Mr. B if she remarries – the problem was Mr. A.  In situation B, Mr. B might be an excellent partner to Ms. B as long as she continues to prioritize him and doesn’t take him for granted like Mrs. A did.  Was the problem Mr A’s sex drive, or was it Mrs A’s hedonic adaptation and change in priorities?


      Further, just because one marriage dissolved due to cheating, that doesn’t mean that other marriages dissolved for the same reason.  There is no reason to believe that Mrs. A will marry Mr. B and find that he is also a cheater – I know that was KK’s fear, and I think it is unfounded.  My mother-in law divorced her husband because he was selfish and ignored her needs….and found a man who is totally unselfish and prioritizes her needs.  She is MUCH happier now.  She did not find the same problems in her 2nd marriage that she did in her first, and while I’m sure her 2nd husband has some traits that might irritate her, she would not exchange those flaws with those of her 1st husband.


      Men’s sex drive might drive a divorce, as women’s change in priorities and hedonic adaptation might.  Feeling emotionally disconnected might drive a divorce, or might just be the result of it.  Prioritizing adults needs above those of children is also common, but it is a symptom rather than a cause.  The cause, IMHO, is people’s inability to predict what they will want in the future, their belief that they are the experts in what they will want, their inability to understand that others have already invented this wheel, and they need not do so themselves.

      1. 12.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Jeremy @ 12.1,

        the model is logical when it concludes that all people annoy or distress their partners, and changing partners just gives one some new or different failings to put up with, so changing partners is not always wise, if it is going to cause suffering.  It almost doesn’t matter why from your list of reasons Mr and Mrs A, B and C etc. got divorced, unless they can choose better next time, and the high rates of 2nd marriage divorces show us that they generally can’t.

        The Mr + Mrs A cheating example was just one situation, and stated because it’s a reasonably common reason marriages fail; of course Mr B won’t necessarily be a cheater for sure, though there is a reasonable chance he has been.

        Essentially divorce or distance in a relationship happens because most – the vast majority – of  people are quite selfish, reasonably lazy, and not good long-term partners, so their spouse leaves them, either literally or emotionally.  People who are good partners are more likely to stay partnered, thus bad partners increasingly come to outnumber good partners, in the dating pool, as people age.

        Maybe Mrs A’s life seems better after her divorce from Mr A and re-partnering with Mr B, or maybe she just has to believe that to justify her behaviours and decisions.  I suspect an objective measure of total happiness would see her at the same score a number of years into each marriage, all else being equal with respect to her other life stressors, (illness, death of loved one,…).  She made the decision to leave.  The spouse she left, and their children, have likely been made quite unhappy and stressed.

        As I’ve intimated before, from a utilitarian ethics viewpoint, the sum of all pleasure that results from an action, minus the suffering of anyone involved in the action, sees spouse switching overall a dumb idea in many cases where there are families involved.  And I believe that is what YAG is observing when he says some divorced women regret divorcing.

        1. Jeremy

          I don’t know, Mrs Happy, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  One the one hand, if you ask most divorced people, they will tell you that the reason they divorced was because of their ex’s bad habits/traits and won’t account for their own hand in the matter.  Whereas hardly ever is divorce due entirely to one person – both people almost always have a hand in it, if only because of the choices they made and the things they overlooked.  On the other hand, though, just because one couple was a mis-match does not necessarily mean that those individuals would not do better with other partners with different personalities/circumstances.  Because while the success rates of remarriage are unimpressive, they are nowhere near zero.


          Happiness….do we return to baseline?  Most research that I’ve come across says that we do.  UNLESS we perceive our circumstances to be reversible.  If we buy a shirt and know it is not returnable, we are far more likely to be happy with the shirt than if we keep the receipt.  In marriage, we are far more likely to synthesize happiness if we perceive we can’t exit than if the spectre of divorce is over our shoulder (barring, of course, cases of abuse).  So I’m agreeing with you in the sense that the knowledge of divorce being an option is more likely to reduce happiness than enhance it.  But I’m disagreeing that couples can’t actually be happier (with all the factors you’ve listed accounted for, including the kids) after a divorce.

        2. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          And I believe that is what YAG is observing when he says some divorced women regret divorcing.

          I think he was implying they regret divorcing because they can’t find another committed, long-term partner, not because they regret leaving their husbands.

  13. 13

    So much good in here but the single most useful nugget was recognizing whether your partner prefers the same version of yourself that you do to confirm long-term viability.  I had the exact opposite experience as the professor – my last boyfriend wasn’t crazy about my goofy side and even went out of his way to shut it down (same with his youngest child) and it made me sad over time. So important to figure out which versions of ourselves we truly value to not only choose compatible partners but endure over time. Happy Valentine’s Day, Evan!!! The one dating coach who gets it right almost all of the time and seems to have the most fun doing it. 🙂

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