Why Do Men Feel Like I’m Using Them For Sex?


Hello Evan. I have a quick question for you. I have been single for many years now and have tried online dating on and off and been on lots of first dates, many 1-3 dates and a few weekends away. What I don ´t get is that most guys end the dating process with saying: “I let myself go too quickly, you are just using me and taking advantage of me and you just want me for sex.” I have heard this quite a lot and I never understood, they never explained themselves fully and it left a bittersweet taste. Why should any guy feel used by me, if I have never asked anything from them? I pay my own share on dates, movies, food, drinks, etc., even the petrol for their car if we travel together. I have never asked anyone to commit to me, marry me or have a family with me. I make it clear from the start that I have been single for pretty much all my life and that I need my space. I never play games and as long as I am into them I respond to their approaches very positively. I share with them my positive thoughts and emotions about them, make them little gifts, pay them lots of compliments, am quite cheery and fun and smiling often, and very playful in bed. I just don ´t understand why somebody would feel used by me when I actually feel like I am giving way too much. Please help.



Something about your post doesn’t add up.

You don’t own any flaws about yourself.

All you know is that you’re repeatedly getting the same confusing feedback from men — and it doesn’t register with you. Allow me to explain as best I can, with what limited information I have — given that I don’t know you as an individual, only what you revealed in your email to me.

It seems to me that you have two major issues that are leading men to draw this conclusion.

      1. You’re acting like a man.


    2. You’re invulnerable (i.e. acting like a man)

And because men generally don’t like dating other men, they’re passing you up.

Let’s take the “you’re acting like a man” piece first.

It’s always dicey to talk about “men” and “women” as monoliths. I know that there is a spectrum of behavior for both genders and that most people have both masculine and feminine energy. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s no value to stereotypes for our purposes.

You’ve taken the “cool girl” thing so far that your behavior reminds men of other men.

Does this paragraph sound like a man or a woman?

“I pay my own share on dates, movies, food, drinks, etc., even the petrol for their car if we travel together. I have never asked anyone to commit to me, marry me or have a family with me. I make it clear from the start that I have been single for pretty much all my life and that I need my space. I never play games and as long as I am into them I respond to their approaches very positively. I share with them my positive thoughts and emotions about them, make them little gifts, pay them lots of compliments, am quite cheery and fun and smiling often, and very playful in bed.”

There’s no value judgment implicit on either gender if we point out that the person who is perpetually single, pays, has no needs, and needs space sounds somewhat like a typical guy. Thus, you’ve taken the “cool girl” thing so far that your behavior reminds men of other men.

This isn’t “bad” or “wrong,” but from your email, I think we can both conclude that this behavior is “ineffective.” Men are not feeling emotionally connected to you — and their only way of describing it is by saying that they feel “used” by you.

Sounds a LOT like the kind of things that women say about successful, busy, charming men who act perfectly nice, pay for the dates, have sex, and don’t seem to have any emotional needs beyond that. Which brings us to point #2.

While no one likes someone who is weak, needy and chronically insecure, most of us respond extremely well to authentic displays of vulnerability. The person who seems to have it all together is a cold fish, intimidating, inhuman, and confusing to the rest of us humans.

Although it may be useful to be independent and not to “need a man,” this is also the crux of why men are leaving you. Men want to be needed.

The choice is yours: keep exerting masculine energy and wondering why men don’t feel good around you, or let a man make an effort for you, appreciate him, and let him into your life.

And if you pay, you plan, you have sex, you make gifts, you pay lots of compliments, and you don’t express any desire for something more meaningful, guess what? You’re the guy in the relationship.

The only man who is going to stick around is a feminine man who is so passive that he needs to be courted by you.

The rest of men are going to look for women that they can pay for, compliment, win over, and feel important with.

The choice is yours: keep exerting masculine energy and wondering why men don’t feel good around you, or let a man make an effort for you, appreciate him, and let him into your life.

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  1. 21

    I’m not sure what all the anger is about. Women wanted to have sex like men and they can. And we’re constantly told by our brethren here that men don’t want relationships or marriage and don’t need them because sex is free and easy. This is the culture we wanted and now we”re unhappy because we have it?

    1. 21.1

      That’s NOT true Star and you know it! As a reader of this blog for years, you should know that not all men think or act like that. I think maybe you should follow Karmic and Twinkle’s advice. Men want sex true, we are a little hypocritical, we don’t want a prude or someone who makes us beg for it like a dog, but we don’t want someone who we feel will sleep with anything that walks either, we want a woman who is sexually balanced, and you know women want the same!.

      Men who are truly attracted to and in love with a woman, will definitely want to marry their girlfriend, even if he is having sex with her everyday. Star, honestly, I can’t tell if you are hiding behind this type of thinking as an excuse not to date and get hurt or if you have truly become jaded and actually see men and dating like this. Either way, I now see why Karmic tries to push you, it’s because like me, she cares. Emerald was in the same boat, but I think the difference is, that she saw what was happening to her and I fear you don’t see it. Your advice use to be so upbeat and balanced.

      Take Twinkles advice and force yourself to date at least a little, see that men who can’t hide behind a internet screen aren’t all bitter, players, or just after sex and nothing else. Good men are out their, men who will see your body, see your face, know you have children and still want to date you, but remember what Evan always says: “If you try everyday for a year and still haven’t had success, it doesn’t mean you should give up on dating it just means, get ready for year number 2!”

      Evan, Karl R, and many others who are regulars on this blog were dating for years before they finally met someone who they feel in love with and they are now happily married. But all these people had bad experiences before, if they would have given up, they wouldn’t know the love they receive from their partners now.

      1. 21.1.1

        I do appreciate the concern. I admit, I was in a mood when I posted. That I can conceed at this point. 😊

      2. 21.1.2

        Gabri’el, someone said above that love is not the end goal. Also you.said I should do like twinkle and force myself to go on dates. If I have to force it, maybe that’s not for me. Obviously we have to guard our hearts not to become hardened or embittered. For me, I believe I am better served by taking a spiritual approach and working that out in Scripture and prayer. Whether or not that path is for anyone else, despite what I think, is not for me to say.

      3. 21.1.3

        Starthrower: “If I have to force it, maybe that’s not for me.” Well most of us have to force ourselves to exercise cos it feels nicer to lie around, but we still know it’s the right choice. (Yeah I know some people really enjoy exercising, screw them, lol).

        “Obviously we have to guard our hearts not to become hardened or embittered.” Actually I disagree. U don’t have to guard your heart. I’ve never had that very-cautious attitude towards love, and yet I’ve never become hardened or embittered. I’ve loved and been loved by great guys, and yes I have met jerks too–like a guy who courted and proposed to me, then i found out that he was Married!! And another guy who told me he loved me and wanted to marry me, then when I didn’t sleep with him he just vanished…Ok I was quite shocked, but I didn’t become bitter, I just realised there are some bad pple out there, but thankfully there are so many great pple (of both genders) too.

        I understand that u’re quite ok being single, I generally am too. But I still think u should force urself to get out there and date a little. The potential benefits of having a happy romantic rship make the efforts worthwhile. A travel companion, a person u love to be intimate with, to share ur innermost thoughts with etc.

    2. 21.2


      I have met many relationship and marriage orientated men in my dating adventures… I would say they are every bit as relationship and marriage orientated as women, perhaps even more so. Maybe that has just been my experience. But if you tend to embody the sort of feminine qualities that men are looking for, there is no shortage of men who want to button you up as their girlfriend or wife.

      I don’t think anyone’s saying that we’re “unhappy” because “we” got the culture “we” wanted (though this is a vast sweeping generalisation). It’s just that everything comes with a price tag. As long as you know the downside to your behaviour, go right ahead.

      For all your protestations about how you don’t need anyone and how dating is not for you, starthrower, I still reckon it must be miserable to be so prickly and defensive.

      1. 21.2.1

        Yep I’m just a flawed human being.

  2. 22

    Has this become the “save starthrower68” thread, complete with pleading do-gooders an their self-absorbed, self-sympathetic diva reveling in the spotlight?

    Who needs sitcoms when we can watch this cheese?

    1. 22.1

      Yep Bob, you’re right, I was having a bad day and let myself slip into a pity party. But I’m not going to trade insults. You’ll just have to think I’m awful. 😉

    2. 22.2

      Your meanness was so over-the-top that I really did laugh. But anyway, nobody’s making u read this page. U can unsubscribe to this thread anytime. ^^

  3. 23

    I think it comes back to “Men need someone to need them.” One of my ex’s wanted me to need him more. He hates that his current person is so clingy and that he’s not attracted to her, but he stays because he gets what he needs/wants out of that relationship.

    Also, from a psychology like perspective, it’s hard to any male or female to want to stick around someone who can walk away at any time. That would make them vulnerable, and self preservation is pretty ingrained.

    I doubt it’s just because she’s “acting like a man,” but the advice is still pretty sound. Act like you need him so he doesn’t run away. Plus, people feel more attached to people they do things for. Sunk costs and all.

    1. 23.1

      I don’t get how they want you to be independent and then when you are, you behave like a man.. ??
      and when you need them you are clingy …

      1. 23.1.1

        Evan’s said it many times – if you don’t *need* the man you’re dating, then what use is he? Men want to feel *necessary* in your life – if you can’t make that clear then you are too independent.

        Don’t be a fish and treat him like a bicycle.

        Everyone has dealt with a clingy friend…we all know how annoying that is – to ALWAYS be held responsible for how someone else feels…that’s being clingy.

  4. 24

    Thank you all so much for this Question, and all the thoughtful Answers.

    I’ve been pondering for a while now a man who once said to me – in response to his request for identifiable ‘specifics’ of things I ‘wanted’ in a Mate – “yes, but what do you want from ME?”.

    I had said “I want to feel loved. I want affection. I want someone who’s proud of me, and that I’m proud of. I want someone I can work side-by-side with, play with, make love with, all in a comfortable, seamless ebb and flow as days/weeks/months/years pass”. No where in my list was any thing like “I need you to take care of me physically, or economically”, etc. And so I got the ‘yes, but what do you want from ME?”.

    I’d have thought it was a valid ‘want’, to want to be loved, to feel affection, to be someone they were proud of, and them someone you were proud of. I never did quite understand why he in essence ‘re-asked’ the question, I guess… maybe it’s a guy thing? Like I said, still pondering that one…

    I just know that like OP, I was fundamentally trying to convey that I didn’t want or need anything material, or economic, or anything like that from him – in my case, that I needed the kind of things you only get in a healthy, bi-lateral, loving relationship – that person you can come home to, roll over in the morning and see.

    Like the OP, I have always paid my own way so that no one thinks I’m into them for what they can buy me/where they can take me/what I can get from them – I wasn’t raised that way. But clearly, there’s something to this general notion that if we as a woman totally take care of all of our ‘basic Maslow’s Hierarchy needs’ – such that what we want/need from the man is more on an emotional/intellectual level – it takes some explanation or something, so they DONT think you’re not interested because you don’t respond to the more traditional forms ‘giving’ takes, that they’re used to providing.

    I’m beginning to see the double-edged sword though – if you DONT need the things a guy is generally prepared to/wants to provide, and what you DO want is something different from him – its gonna take a minute to explain and work thru. And what you want may be uncomfortable for him – he may be MUCH happier to go buy you a new jacket and get your nails done. FOR SURE, you can’t just assume the guy will be tickled to death that he doesn’t have to focus on funding everything so he takes a second look at you because you ARE different, stand on your own two feet, and are just interested in him to find out WHO HE IS, NOT WHAT HE CAN DO FOR YOU. Maybe the guy doesn’t get that last part: That you DO want to just figure out who he is, and how his values, principles, etc align with your own.

    For the sake of completeness, his answer to my ‘what do you want from me?” was: “I want a partner to start our own business. I want me and you to live together wherever. Which could result in Multiple houses (he lives in the Midwest, I live in GA). I want you to really understand what its like for me on a daily basis. I want to know how your family will feel with me being black (I’m white). From your elders to the youngest grandbaby. I want more out of life I don’t just settle for anything. I need someone who is really strong emotionally. I live a very, very tuff life. Death and police are always involved. Not by choice but because of my skin color. You have to understand failure. It will happen to you a lot and you need to deal with it and move on. Cant ask everyone for help all of the time. Do it yourself and learn. Smart skills are good life skills and last forever. Basically I need someone to understand themselves before they have a shot at trying to understand me”.

    Based on his answer, I thought it was a fairly good alignment and we’d been seeing each other for over two years at that point. But at the end of the day, from what I’ve read here tonight, I can clearly see he decided that he wasn’t needed, because I didn’t need the things he I guess generally provided. So he didn’t have a chance to be a ‘giver’, I didn’t function as a ‘receiver’, and while I appreciated many, many things he did for me and expressed it, it wasn’t within the Standard Deviations from his mean that he was looking for in a relationship.

    Thanks again for everyone’s insight into people like OP and me, where we’re trying to evaluate ourselves, understand how to ‘right size’ ourselves without being disingenuous, or Unprincipled, and are willing to do the work necessary to set to right any behaviors/actions we can understand the flaws in.

  5. 25

    It’s fascinating that so many of the responses  go in the directions of introversion, what it means to need space, and what is feminine behavior versus what is masculine. I’m not sure what to make of that or if it is part of the solution at all, and I’ll have to think about it. But I suggest you don’t try to change aspects of yourself that are likely tangential to your relationship issue.
    When did you first decide that you give too much?
    Instead of telling your dates that you are someone who needs space, tell them the answer to this question. It will solve a lot of things for you. They will intuitively know to give you space without misunderstanding your intentions.

    The bittersweet taste:
    First of all, not everyone uses the word “taste” when describing their feelings. Very sensual people do. And the guys that say this to you are misunderstanding or not appreciating your sensuality, since they are confusing it with sexual needs.
    Second, it’s fairly obvious that you always try to be honest and straightforward. Character is clearly important to you. And if a person tells you they feel like you’re using them for sex, they are attacking  your character. They are saying that you are the type of person who uses people–who takes advantage of people. And regardless of if someone suspects that you have  a conscious intention to do that, or if they believe it’s something unconscious that “just happens”, you are being judged and mistrusted.
    Maybe that’s what that bittersweet taste comes from.

    In my view, it doesn’t matter if it is a man saying that to a woman or a woman speaking to a man. In both cases, the person is saying that they feel you lack the idealism and romanticism to turn any  caring feelings for them into something that touches them and makes them feel cared for, and to give him or her the kind of fulfilling  relationship for which they can feel grateful.
    And if they get to the point where they are interpreting or describing  their interactions with you as a sexual arrangement and replaceable companionship, it is because the dynamic could have shifted to a more romantic one over time–because they were willing (even if they kept it a secret from you) to give you space as well as  take space for themselves  to let romantic feelings and idealistic hopes grow organically and unforced–but it didn’t shift. No work was done to make it shift. And work is romantic, because purposefully spending energy on someone is romantic. They might have tried to take actions toward inspiring you to feel something for them, but you held them back from that. And the implication is that the fault is not theirs because they were willing and open for things to develop into something deeper, so they put the fault on you.
    Nothing changed. They didn’t inspire any romantic idealism in  you. So they don’t feel like they’re  the one for you, the one who can establish a trusting, happy, valuable relationship with you.

    Why would they give you that explanation? Maybe if they say that, there are some feelings and desires in you for them that will come out and give them some validation for the efforts they’ve taken to adjust to the space and slow pace of attachment  you’ve wanted. So they are giving you a chance to convince  them that they’re important to you, or else verify their suspicion that you would let them go without a fight, either because you don’t care, or because you’re too self-absorbed to care about anyone beyond yourself. Either way, they want to be direct with you so they can stop giving and making adjustments that suit you and that don’t make them feel good.
    But the thing is, you seem like you’re not the type of person who is going to fight for someone to stay in your life after they attacked your character and told you that they don’t appreciate your sensuality or your optimistic, low-drama, cheery attitude. You’re the type of person who will hurt about it and hope to meet someone more respectful.
    But they don’t even know that they are disrespecting you. They are just telling you how they feel, seeing if you care about them enough to let them know where they stand with you. Letting them go indicates that they were right in that you don’t care about their feelings or want them enough to clear up any discomfort and confusion about their role in your life.

    The superficial behaviors you described seem to indicate that beneath your external confidence are some doubts and insecurities about what you have to offer, beyond not being a burden on anybody. External confidence is attractive, but an internal sense of self-worth is what gives you the will to attempt new challenges in life, and in intimate relationships, is what makes you make clear romantic gestures and take emotional risks. You seem too scared to be vulnerable, so maybe your internal self-worth may not fully match the level of your external confidence.

  6. 26

    I dissent with all responses. I behave in the same way as OP. Exactly the same! And guess what, most of the guys I have dated have appreciated it and I’ve had awesome relationships. So I think the problem lies within the culture. If OP lives in the United States, then she’s in for reproaches, because that is one sexist country. My advice: Date a foreigner (European, Asian, Latin American or African) 😉

  7. 27

    I’m pretty much the same as a woman –   I’m very giving, playful and uncommitted – not one to give my emotions away or ‘need’ anyone else, but am coming to understand that men like to be needed. They like having an independent woman who can take care of herselves but once you pick a man (which I think I might have) then lean on him every once in a while and give him some trust – he’ll pay that back by being protective.

    I go on like I don’t need protecting because I can take care of myself, but its nice to know there is someone else there for that – its actually a nice feeling.. but also a vulnerable one and it takes a lot of trust.

    I spoke to a male friend of mine about this same ‘problem’ and he said the exact thing to me “you are behaving like a man”

    Sometimes it makes relationships with men conflicting because they want to do the giving and protecting, and ‘using’ – being in power and control.     Anyway, I do think realtionships work best when the power shifts from one to the other every once in a while

  8. 28

    One thing i think that people are missing is a key word that was used by the OP, which is the word DATE. being a single man in my late 20s i have been noticing that socially a “DATE” leads people to beliveing they are heading down the road to a relationship.   Alot of todays casual dateing starts with group activitys wich is social execptiable and a safe place to go about meeting people in a low key way. By takeing him/out of that setting, your seperating him from the group showing intrest specifically in him. Now on top of this ( in my opinion) men tend to vaule things such as money as a very high vaule thing so when you spend it on him your showing that your takeing your money that you worked hard for and   puting it into a mutal intrest (both of you together) the way a realtionship works. From her im sure they start to open up, you to have sex which im sure made it worse and then said well im not ready for a relationship after showing signs of the opposite.   So my suggestion is just keep it within a Few group dates if your ready to take him home after a night at the bar with him or thiers the old classic netflix and chill but either way it sends the signal friends with benifit vs potential partner.

  9. 29

    Men are not invunurable

    Typical American rules & gender roll crap

    American men


  10. 30

    I struggle with this as a female i need a lot of alone time. Im always honest and upfront with men who come into my life i do normal things on occasions outside of sex with a lover. i treat them well as people however it has been remarked that im very ‘masculine’ in my energy and that i use people also? …… And also it has been said ‘your a woman you must want a relationship’ ……..when i actually dont. i explain this as clearly as i can from the beginning but like one of the other commentators said it seems men are conditioned to believe that every woman on the planet who gets imvolved with them must automatically want a relationship with them. This is not so. I also have a couple of female friends like this and we have discussed and wondered why this is such an issue …….times are certainly changing i dont think this lady is using anyone. She is upfront from the beginning and clear about her own needs.

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