Why Masculinity Is A Good Thing In Men

Are Men Manly Enough?

A month ago, I shared Andrew Sullivan’s take on this Peggy Orenstein article, The Miseducation of the American Boy. Subtitle “Why boys crack up at rape jokes, think having a girlfriend is “gay,” and still can’t cry—and why we need to give them new and better models of masculinity.” As if that’s the sum total of all things male.

What’s tricky about this is that I agree with almost everything Orenstein writes:

Young women believed there were many ways to be a girl—they could shine in math, sports, music, leadership (the big caveat being that they still felt valued primarily for their appearance)—young men described just one narrow route to successful masculinity.* One-third said they felt compelled to suppress their feelings, to “suck it up” or “be a man” when they were sad or scared, and more than 40 percent said that when they were angry, society expected them to be combative.


“Those who rigidly adhere to certain masculine norms are not only more likely to harass and bully others but to themselves be victims of verbal or physical violence. They’re more prone to binge-drinking, risky sexual behavior, and getting in car accidents. They are also less happy than other guys, with higher depression rates and fewer friends in whom they can confide.”

Indeed. Anything taken to the extreme is unhealthy. There’s a reason people say, “everything in moderation.” What Orenstein is discounting, in my opinion, are two things:

This demonization of all things masculine is unfair and unhealthy.

  1. She’s surveying teenage boys. Some of those  boys will turn out to be the emotionally shut-down, bro-culture men of the future. But many, if not most, will grow up. None of the men I know call women bitches, brag about infidelity or think bullying is cool. I recognize that I live in an educated upper-middle-class bubble, but this bubble gives me hope that men are not getting worse but, rather, better than our fathers and our grandfathers.
  2. Men are different than women and, as Sullivan said, cannot be expected to think or act exactly like women do. This demonization of all things masculine is unfair and unhealthy. A close friend who is fluent in the archetypes of masculine and feminine shared with me these definitions of traditional masculinity/femininity:

Feminine: capacity for pleasure, create beautiful environments, activate all senses, candid, feel pain, hold steady, care for, relate, empathize, receives, intuits, requests, feels and expresses gratitude.

These are wonderful qualities that women tend to have in greater amounts than men and they are the primary reasons that men seek companionship from women. Men get something else out of being with men – and that is the POSITIVE part of masculinity that Orenstein doesn’t acknowledge, some of which is included in these archetypes:

Masculine: pragmatism, practicality, straight-forward, fierce, analytical, plan, protect, rescue, provide, take action, strength.

Remember, this doesn’t mean that women don’t have these qualities, any more than it means that no man can feel pleasure, relate or empathize. It just means that when I talk to my guy friends, it’s a different vibe than talking to my wife. Guys talk business, politics, sports, and yes, when I’m involved, relationships as well. Are these men all as sensitive, empathetic and patient as their wives? No. Do they provide a different element that is equally valuable in the world? Yes. My friends are hardworking, straight-shooting, shit-talking, funny, direct husbands and fathers. Together, with their wives, they provide a balanced worldview and a healthy paradigm for their children to emulate.

So, could men stand to embrace aspects of feminine energy: to be, in general, kinder, gentler, and more understanding? Hell, yes!

But you can just as easily say that women could stand to be a little less sensitive to perceived slights and communicate their needs more directly to their male partners. In other words, be more masculine. And you wouldn’t be wrong. Thus, there isn’t a crisis. There is just a spectrum of masculine and feminine behavior and certain extremes who give a bad name to masculinity.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.





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  1. 1

    “…. communicate their needs more directly to their male partners. In other words, be more masculine”
    Humm Evan I am a woman that naturally has always been direct and pragmatica and trust me all I get from men is a horrified look, criticism, men Say they want these things from women but the women who do act like this (I know others) see men preferring the whiny, ‘noooo there is nothing wrong’ kind of girl, the damsel in distress always getting wed.
    So please guys, stop it already with this fairy tale that women do not speak directly.
    We are socialized not too because when we do, all we get is disapproval and scorn from fragile male egos.

    1. 1.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You may be a direct masculine energy woman. That doesn’t mean there are not broader differences between how men and women communicate.

      1. 1.1.1

        I am not saying there aren’t. I am saying something else. That all I hear is men complaining women should communicate more their way, but when they do, they don’t seem to like it.
        This is why I believe most of these differences are learned.

  2. 2

    Since I have no issue with a modern man (most are considerate in relation to women, gladly participate in family matters, such as bringing up kids, and understand that women also have needs of personal space and fulfillment) or masculinity, my comment is in relation to what would be discussed with a female vs male friend. It seems that in the model suggested in the essay above relationships with women are lacking intellectual exchange. Not sure why that is – some traditionalism or lack of common interests or something else. I’ve done a quick audit of what I talk about with male and female friends:

    With female friends: art, nature, history, literature, cinema, travelling, current events
    With male friends: business, economics, politics, art, nature, literature, cinema, theatre, news, popular science, history, board games, music, languages, travelling, any curiosities

    I’ve also realised that I have quite a few male friends and only four female; God knows what that means, but most likely just by chance rather than due to some sinister reason. Maybe if I had more female friends the two ranges would be completely the same – I don’t have enough observations to reach any conclusion based on personal experience

    1. 2.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Look at the content of Esquire vs the content of Cosmopolitan or even Oprah. It’s night and day. We can suggest that corporations are forcing gender stereotypes on people. I think they’re smart enough to give ‘em what they want.

      1. 2.1.1

        …what they want? Or what we have been told from early childhood is the most important feature in a woman, her appearance?
        To the point where I can’t even stand reading children books to my daughter as they always have to tress how BEAUTIFUL was the princess, the moooost beautiful in the village and yada yada yada and all the people that tell my daughter how ^retty she is wherever we go?
        Women are raised in the same patriarchal society as men and they internalize the male gaze. So it’s easy to force down our throat said gaze for centuries then be like ‘but honey, all you care for is fashion and beauty, we only give you what YOU truly want’.
        not really. Women had to fight to have the right to go to university, be a doctor, a lawyer, be taken seriously when doing anything but being baby machines and rest assured am men did was tell them ‘but honey you cannot possibly be interested in anything but cooking and looking prettayyy for meee’. So please, do not tell us that women’s magazines are a simple reflection of what women truly want. This is yet another way white heterosexual males do not own to their responsibility in the systematic century-long oppression of half the world. They are the reflection of what centuries of male oppression and male gave made women think we are valued for, and internalize it until we slowly started to take our power back. Ps. I speak about politics and economics with all my female friends, so…

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          At risk of engaging you, are you suggesting that the only reason there isn’t a female Esquire but dozens of women’s magazines that lead with “8 tricks to drive him wild in bed,” “5 killer ab exercises,” and “42 eyeliner brands you MUST have” is the patriarchy?

          The existence of an old white male power structure does not mean it is behind everything. The reason there are makeup channels on YouTube with millions of subscribers is because women actually want to know how to put on makeup – both to look pretty for themselves, their friends, and men. It’s not a plot. It’s economics. Supply and demand. THAT’s what the majority of women want; otherwise there’d be an alternative that makes money. Just because YOU don’t read (or approve of) these doesn’t negate the idea that many others. Maybe accept that you are in the minority in your own gender. I certainly am: a guy who listens to women complain about men all day voluntarily is rarer than any diamond on this planet. I could complain that other men aren’t as sensitive as I am; I would be right. Unless you want to be just as contrary about the weaknesses of men and suggest that men really ARE just as sensitive, intuitive and supportive as women. (Note: they’re not)

        2. Bbq

          I’m not totally disagreeing with the idea that men’s desire for to be and act a certain way influences women’s desires for themselves, or with the idea they ever (or have ever) forced this upon them ( they clearly have). Whether this is inevitable in the long term I don’t know. (I’d also say certain elements of society are and in same cases always have been matriarchal).

          However, in the face of all world history, can you explain what about this is a particular feature of white men? What power was there women had before all this which you now will “take back?

        3. Chris

          So Mara is blaming *white* males for The Patriarchy? So we can expect that women are treated radically differently in non-white cultures? They aren’t? That must be due to white colonialism! They weren’t treated radically differently prior to colonialism? Then that must be due to white historians rewriting history!

        4. Henry

          Although I agree with your opinion that a woman’s physical apperance is important to many a man – the truth is that women have just as high demands in a man’s physical apperance, as a man has in how a woman’s physical apperance should be more like.

          I’ve been blessed to have hooked-up and been blessed to have had very attractive girlfriends, but really now. Would these women have gotten with me if I was 5’4”, or if I was bald and plain-looking, or if I was overweight?

          And being physically attractive as a man doesn’t mean much when it comes to how successful your romantic life is.

          I once was dumped by a 20 year old fashion model/TV actress for a 55 year old man who compared to my father who is in his 60s, would make my dad look like Brad Pitt.

          But this much older man has millions in the bank. And I don’t. Not even tens of thousands.

          Not to disregard what western women have gone through in the last few thousands of years, but if you are going to talk about patriarchy shouldn’t you be referring to the Islamic culture or the Indian culture or the African culture?

          Because women who were unlucky to be born within those cultures have it incredibly bad, while on the other hand, western women born in the late 20th century onwards have had much better lives, don’t you agree?

          Yes, men notice attractive women. Yes, men want to have sex with those women, and want relationships with them. What’s wrong with that?

      2. 2.1.2

        “It’s not a plot. It’s economics. Supply and demand. THAT’s what the majority of women want; otherwise there’d be an alternative that makes money.”

        There’s clearly a feedback loop; it’s not as simplistic as corporations forcing stereotypes on people, but at the same time, demand doesn’t just emerge spontaneously, at least not most of the time. “Demand managrment” is a principle that is taught in economics.

        For example, the current idea of an ideal male physique that many younger men now strive for (low body fat, v taper, visible six pack) and health fitness magazines now target, was largely constructed through films and supplement advertisements. I’m not suggesting it’s a conspiracy, but it’s not as simple as male/female consumers autonomously demanding something, and companies passively responding.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Nothing is black and white or “simple” but it’s also not that complicated either. Money makes the world go round. If there were demand for a women’s magazine that was more like Esquire or Playboy (its articles WERE really good), we’d have seen it. You want to know what people want? Google knows. And while it pains me that the too dating videos are “5 sexy text messages that will make him want you,” guess what? That’s what women are searching for, not nuanced discussions of chemistry and attachment styles. It’s up to me if I decide to chase that money, but truly, the internet allows you to give people exactly what they are searching for.

        2. sylvana


          I have to agree with that observation. It seems that whatever is in style the most at the current time period is what people end up demanding the most. And the sheer, drastic changes over years, decades, and centuries clearly indicate that is not so much nature as basically whatever is “in” at the time.

          Who sets the trends of what’s “in” very much depends on who is influential at the time (marketing companies, movies, etc. being part of that group, not just people).

      3. 2.1.3

        ” If there were demand for a women’s magazine that was more like Esquire or Playboy (its articles WERE really good), we’d have seen it.”

        Sure, but my point was simply that cultural shifts can take awhile and are usually partially facilitated from above as well as below. Playboy came out in the 1950s, and there’s been shifts in terms of how masculinity is understood since that time. I agree the articles in there pretty good btw.

      4. 2.1.4

        Based on personal experience and those of friends, I would agree with Mara and Shaukat. Speaking for women only (not knowing men’s experience), we’ve been trained since early girlhood about what girls and women are supposed to like, and be like. We really do go down the rabbit hole without realising it, until our 30s (if we are lucky), when we see yet another magazine article about ‘how to drive your man wild in bed.’ We finally ask the question, ‘Okay, I’ve been working on this for over 10 years, but what have *I* gotten out of it? Am I pleased as well? What has all this pleasing men gotten me?’ It’s only when we can gain a bit of distance from all this cultural messaging that we begin to ask what we want, and what’s good for us.

        Pressure to think a certain way absolutely does come from ‘above’ (ie, from a corporate level). This isn’t blame against men in general, as men are probably subject to it as well, in different ways. We can all stand to think more independently, and to question the messages we receive about what we’re supposed to want from outside.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I would suggest that women are this way naturally AND it’s societally reinforced as well. It’s not one OR the other. I am always telling my daughter to stop apologizing and say no to things while my son is like a mini Trump in terms of demanding what he wants and never admitting he’s wrong. They certainly weren’t taught to be that way. Nature is far stronger than nurture.

        2. Jeremy

          This is true, and applies to both genders. But it isn’t something that can be taught. I’ve tried. It’s a glimmer of understanding that begins in the mid thirties and culminates in the forties. And it leads to midlife crises. Which are, after all, exactly what you wrote – the realization that all the things we’ve been taught to want have not made us happy nor fulfilled us …. so what else is there? But I think that young people have a hard time understanding this message on a visceral level, in part because they haven’t yet achieved what they’ve been taught to want (and are consumed by the effort), and on the other hand because their reproductive imperatives are still driving them strongly.

        3. jo

          Jeremy, it’s interesting that you write that this realisation – of how we’ve been mindlessly conforming to what society says we should be – is what sparks midlife crises, when my experience is that the realisation feels enormously freeing, exciting, and a little scary. In other words, if you (generic you) have been living by society’s mandates like a good little boy or girl or adult, how can you use what you’ve learned in these decades to forge new behaviours and beliefs that align more with what you like and what you think is ethical? What is a good way to be in the world, and with yourself?

          I agree with you that this can’t be spoon-fed to children. We all need to do a little living before we realise what matters to us, and to have confidence in our morality and thoughts.

        4. Jeremy

          In my experience, a person having a mid-life crisis rarely considers it a crisis – they think of it more as a mid-life “awakening”. It’s only considered a crisis by those close to that person, who built lives around the persona that person once exhibited and now no longer does.

          And yet, also in my experience, while the person undergoing the crisis/awakening believes that their new thoughts will better bring themselves into harmony with whom they are, often times this isn’t so. Oftentimes the things the person predicts will make themselves happy are no more accurate/effective than those other things they tried in the past. My father’s mid-life foray into religion ended, decades later, when he prayed for my sister’s recovery from cancer and his prayer was not answered. Did he think it would be, when no one else’s are? My uncle’s mid-life foray into Buddhism, my father-in-law’s midlife abandonment of his wife for a woman who understood him better, his job for one that was more meaningful, his family-life for a life that he felt would better suit him. No happier now than he ever was, in no better harmony. My colleague’s abandoning his wife, who did not validate him, for his nurse who did….until he married her, she considered herself his equal, and began behaving exactly the same as his wife had, surprise surprise.

          Though perhaps women do better with their awakenings. Not the Eat-Pray-Love women (who are as deluded as their male counterparts), but the women who naturally form social circles and volunteer for meaningful things. But I don’t think that stems from living and experiencing, but rather being who they naturally are.

      5. 2.1.5

        “They certainly weren’t taught to be that way. Nature is far stronger than nurture.”

        I think this conclusion would be very difficult to substantiate with any real accuracy. I recall reading about a study which stated that past a certain age children receive many signals regarding behavior beyond the household, and even just minor exposure to these sources can have an impact.

        My own position on the nature/nurture debate is that, with the exception of certain traits where there is a very clear signal above the noise in one of the domains, such as a higher male vs female sex drive due to testosterone, it is extremely difficult to disentangle the role that nature and nurture play in shaping attitudes and outcomes. The problem isn’t helped by people on each side of the spectrum who try to downplay the role of environment or biology for political purposes, such as certain feminists who claim that the male/female sex drive difference is entirely socially constructed, or alt-right racists who claim that higher poverty rates among African Americans is due to naturally lower IQs.

        Plus, its’ not exactly ethical to run controlled experiments with kids, so we may never fully know the answer to this classic question (nature vs nurture).

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Do you have children? If you do, note their personalities and watch how much you can change them with attentive parenting. The answer is close to zero. Introverts remain introverts. Risk takers remain risk takers. Wimpy kids don’t become athletes. So the idea of there being innate differences between men and women (such as men being irrationally confident and women being less likely to act out) isn’t at all surprising. In fact, we see that behavior in adults as well. I don’t have a horse in this race but it’s pretty disingenuous to suggest that both gender and personality is all a social construct. To the contrary, most of it is innate. If you have the patience to read Behave by Robert Sapolsky, you will read the most researched and nuanced take on human behavior.

      6. 2.1.6

        Evan, I didn’t say anything about changing personality types, nor did I state that personality and behavior are all socially constructed. I said both environment and biology are important. There’s a difference between saying that personality (within a narrow spectrum) is fixed and stating that all gendered behaviors have a purely natural basis.

        I’ll check out the Sapolsky book, my recommendation would be to read Richard Nisbett’s work on the topic if you haven’t yet.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          I never said “all” or “purely” so I can’t defend against such claims. I don’t write like that so it’s tiring to be misquoted or misinterpreted for things I haven’t said. And thanks for the rec. Still working thru 700 pages of Behave!

      7. 2.1.7
        Emily, to

        “Requires us to cultivate those skills and qualities, rather than the things that come from our gut. ”
        Actually, that’s all there is at the end of the day. Things that come from the gut. The higher self or one’s inner life and the 2% of the time we get to express that and share that with another person who actually gets it. If we can find someone to share it with. The rest of life is yardwork and making gravy at Thanksgiving.

        1. Jeremy

          No one in this world ever enjoyed anything that came from my gut. Including me.

          You can enjoy all the things you want to enjoy on as visceral a level as you want, but if you don’t plan how to get them, chances are you won’t get them.

          That was my point above. Not how to continually get sex, but how to best cultivate a good relationship where both people get what they want. The alternative to both people giving and getting is neither person giving nor getting. And that is a shit show.

  3. 3

    I watched only one Oprah in my life, and that was only because of JK Rowling, and looked at Cosmo when I was 18 last time. Need to go and do my homework! 🙂

    Just remembered a dark but funny joke from Borat (no relation to the author or the article), when he meets feminists and says to them “Government scientist proved that woman’s brain is very little, a size of a squirrel’s” (and then after a pause, looking at the shocked face of a feminist) “Smile to me pussycat”

    1. 3.1
      Emily, to

      “I watched only one Oprah in my life, and that was only because of JK Rowling, and looked at Cosmo when I was 18 last time … ”
      I agree. I only watched Oprah if she had on a guest I liked — and even then I wanted her to shut up and stop talking over the guest — and haven’t looked at Cosmo since I was a teenager. The only mainstream magazine I regularly used to read was Rolling Stone before it became a greatest-hits mag.

      1. 3.1.1

        Going slightly off the tangent here, there is a wonderful book called “Renaissance people, lives that shaped the Modern Age” by Robert C. Davis and Beth Lindsmith. It’s a hundred of short two-pager biographies, which are written in such a witty and vivid manner, that it brings the most prominent self-made dukes, artists, architects, cooks, Popes, writers, philosophers, religious thinkers, courtesans, poets, New World explorers, composers, publishes, and all the clever and enterprising Renaissance folk alive.

        Amongst them there is Christine de Pizan, born in 1364. She was only 25 when her beloved husband died and left her, her three children, nice and elderly mother near bankruptcy. In such dire circumstances she somehow managed to build a literary career, and earn a living from it. She became so well-known, that she was commissioned writing a king’s biography. She even wrote a military treatise which would be later read by kings and generals. What I find most fascinating, is that the woman in the 14th century dared to do that, but it’s the 21st century now, and some women are still hesitant and feel the lack of confidence regarding their abilities, just based on the fact that they happen to be born women.

  4. 4

    Many of the faults listed for both sexes here by Evan are small, and come as a lack of understanding more than malicous intent, they’re more annoying than they are terrible.
    However in the original article there are some very bad faults of men listed, and the terrible things they can lead too.

    I’m not disagreeing that men are capable of some pretty bad shiz and can have some terrible qualities that are more particular to their own gender, in fact I do agree. But out of curiosity, do any of the women writing these articles (or any commenting), think that women likewise can have some terrible qualities which are fairly gender specific and which also lead to bad societal (and relationship) outcomes? If so, what?

  5. 5

    And another thing, what the hell does they think they can “see themselves succeed in leadership” even mean? Leadership of what and why?
    Being a leader simply for its own sake is not something that should be encouraged or aspired to by either sex. Assuming leadership when capable at something specific is a different story.

    I know that seems an odd thing to be triggered by but I have a friend with a teenage daughter in year twelve who has attended multiple “women in leadership” type workshops (the daughter not her mother), but when she describes them they don’t seem to be about any kind of competence in a specific area at all, just all meaningless positive reinforcement and for some reason a lot of hugging lol (not now obviously).

    1. 5.1

      “Leadership of what and why?”

      The basics of leadership skills can (and I believe should) be developed in young people of both genders early on. We encouraged that in our boys, even in my youth; things like Scouting, sports, and so on. The fact that we weren’t yet competent to lead in adult endeavors didn’t matter; we were building the foundation that would allow us to develop as leaders later, AFTER we acquired the necessary competence through education and experience. Today, many of our girls and young women can also look forward to careers in business and the professions, and just like us may eventually become sufficiently competent in their field where they will need real leadership ability to advance further. That’s when those basics of leadership learned long ago will give them an edge in assuming and manifesting a leadership role, as it did for my generation of men. I see this as a positive thing. There is still great truth to the quote, “The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eaton”. It may take years, even decades, to finely hone and temper real leadership ability; but the core values and attitudes of a leader are forged in youth, so perhaps our adolescent schoolgirls need their own version of “the playing fields of Eaton”.

      1. 5.1.1

        Yeah, but I’m assuming those leadership skills you mentioned developing in your youth doing those things centred around an act or “mission” together? ie- the captain or stars of a junior football team lead the team to victory in that sport, or scouts that can read a map and use a compass lead their group to a destination. So those kids are honing future skills in leadership by actually leading a group in something real.

        Im not talking about the girl who wants to be captain of the softball team or head they/them scout, and actually takes part in those activities, I’m talking about preparing for “leadership” by simply learning vague qualities of leadership in classes and workshops without having put them into practice in a uncontrollable real world (but still relatively safe ala youth sports or whatever else) situation. What are these women learning to be leaders of by receiving that type of encouragement? Leaders of leaders?

  6. 6

    The contradiction in men – including those I love, like, and respect, and even in Evan’s words above – is that these supposedly direct, straight-shooting men do NOT directly and straight-shootedly express affection and caring for others, including for women, including of course me.

    I don’t deny that men are oftentimes more direct in modes of communication, which is something I’ve always appreciated in both work and relationships. But if they feel love or affection or appreciation, they tend to be much worse than women, in my observation, in communicating it. Unfortunately, this can lead to doubt and guessing games for women, which can weaken relationships.

    If men can be so direct and forthcoming about everything else, why can’t they be equally direct and forthcoming with letting women know how they feel about them?

    1. 6.1
      Emily, to

      ” don’t deny that men are oftentimes more direct in modes of communication, which is something I’ve always appreciated in both work and relationships. But if they feel love or affection or appreciation, they tend to be much worse than women, in my observation, in communicating it. Unfortunately, this can lead to doubt and guessing games for women, which can weaken relationships.”
      Yes. But it’s not just in romantic/sexual relationships but relationships with women in general. For example, a struggle to express affection for a daughter once she is a young woman and no longer a small child. Or with their mother, etc.

    2. 6.2

      I think it’s because understanding one’s own internal feelings is anathema to direct, leader-types. They very much understand their goals. Their thoughts. The path from A to B. But their own emotions? Those get in the way of all the above.

      I know quite a few surgeons. They tend to have a very distinct personality-type – driven, direct, concrete-oriented. Concerned with hows and whens and whats and whos. Not so much with whys. Ask them if they like waking up early in the morning to go in to the OR – they’ll give you an enthusiastic “yes.” Ask them why….and they’ll pause and make shit up. Like you can see the wheels turning in their heads when the words come out of their mouths. You want them to tell you how they feel? They’d have to acknowledge it first. And you can’t go into the OR and cut a person open if you acknowledge that you’re unsure of yourself. That you’re nervous. Spooks the nurses, spooks the patients, and spooks themselves. These people are leader-types specifically BECAUSE they block out their own emotions.

      Not to re-open the discussion that we chronically have here, but a man who approaches women confidently and asks them out? Has to learn how to quash his emotions to do so. The more practice he has at the one, the more practice he’ll have at the other – to the point where doing otherwise is effortful and unnatural-seeming.

      1. 6.2.1
        Emily, to

        “Not to re-open the discussion that we chronically have here, but a man who approaches women confidently and asks them out? Has to learn how to quash his emotions to do so.”
        I’m not talking about asking someone out. I’m talking about expressions of the most basic emotions. A grandmother dies young and unexpectedly and the grandchild says to the grandfather that she misses the grandmother (his wife). And he looks at her blankly and says nothing. This happened to a friend of mine when she was a teenager. And my first thought is … what must it have been like married to this guy?

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          Pretty easy to avoid marrying this guy.

      2. 6.2.2

        Emily, what you wrote was a gut punch, but so accurate. My father is like this, the morphing from constantly available affection and affirmation to none of that to the now-adult children. As if we didn’t need it anymore, which he may legitimately believe. We have to assume the love, since it’s harder to come by these days. Of course, I know that not every father is like this.

        Jeremy, to trot out another frequent trope on here: I think this is another example of a false dichotomy. Emotions are a subset of thoughts, or if not a perfect subset, their domains overlap. A man can express his emotions with directness, and no fear of being thought less of. Have you watched the movie Trainwreck, where Bill Hader’s character comes right out and asks Amy Schumer’s character out, with a simple, ‘I think we should go out. I really like you. Do you like me?’ Swoon. Every woman wants men who will be this direct. I don’t even find Bill Hader that attractive, but THAT way of expressing his emotions – yep, a surefire ticket to getting women. 🙂 He did not have to, as you wrote, quash his emotions to ask the woman out. He expressed them, and it worked.

        Maybe that’s just me. What do other women think?

        1. Jeremy

          He didn’t have to quash his emotions to be that direct? I beg to differ, though he was only a character in a movie.

          LOL. “I like you, do you like me?” is a surefire way to get women? Ha ha. Ask a man. Ask any man. That’s how boys do it in junior high and high school, before overwhelming rejection and ridicule beat it out of them….or beat out the caring about rejection and ridicule. You know, the….emotions?

          I don’t know if this is something women understand. I once read a book called “Self-made man.” It was written by a lesbian woman who masqueraded as a man in order to experience life as a male. One of the things she tried to do was to pick up women at a bar. She tried and tried….and failed. And experienced rejection like she’d never experienced in her lifetime….of picking up women. She then revealed herself to be a woman in drag, and the women she’d tried to hit on relaxed and had happy conversations with her. They were no longer afraid of her. And she had nothing to lose by hitting on them or not – she didn’t want them anyway.

        2. Emily, to

          “Have you watched the movie Trainwreck, where Bill Hader’s character comes right out and asks Amy Schumer’s character out, with a simple, ‘I think we should go out. I really like you. Do you like me?’ Swoon.”
          He didn’t make me swoon but I liked him in the movie. But she treats him pretty badly so I started to wonder why he was putting up with her. Now a swoon was Tony Soprano telling his psychiatrist, Dr. Melfi, he had a dream about effing her and she loved it. Dayum! 🙂 Not a bomb you can drop when first meeting someone, though. 🙂

      3. 6.2.3

        “But a man who approaches women confidently, and asks them out? Has to learn how to quash his emotions to do so.”

        I have to disagree with you on this one. Provided a man is working from an abundance mindset, he doesn’t have to quash any feelings at all; if he’s confident with women, he knows from experience that if one woman rejects him, another will come along sooner rather than later. Besides, at that point, he generally doesn’t know the woman well, if at all, so he has no real emotional investment in her, or the result of the encounter. Instead, his only real emotional investment is in having fun in the process, and he can’t very well be having much fun with his emotions “quashed”, now can he?

        1. Jeremy

          How does a man come by the abundance mindset, Buck, and how many men are having fun in the process? I recall several post from you over the years, expressing frustration and defeat – specifically due to lack of abundance of choice.

          In my experience, there are 2 ways a man might acquire an abundance mindset: 1) He actually has an abundance of choice – is good-looking and socially graceful enough that if one woman leaves, another will be along shortly, like a subway train. 2) He does not have abundance at all, but has trained himself to act as if he does, specifically by quashing his emotions.

          Buck, when I was a student, I spent one summer selling knockoff clothes from door-to-door (business-to-business). It was a shitty job, and I have a lot of funny stories from it (especially how I got suckered into it). Each day was spent getting rejected by 99% of the people I met, with about 1% purchasing some clothes so I could make my commission. After the first few days, I felt very dejected. But my boss told me to buck up (no pun intended) and adopt an abundance mentality – get rejected, move on! It’s all just a numbers game! Well, it was and it wasn’t. It was soul-killing. The only people who managed to do it for more than a month were the ones who were so blind to their own emotions, so numb to anything except making a dime, that they just kept on doing it and didn’t care a whit what anyone else thought of them. In fact, they adopted quite a callous attitude about other people – would screw them however they could. Thankfully, I got out of that job after a few weeks when my boss got arrested by the police for counterfeiting, and I ended up getting a job with the police department in forensics….another story, I digress.

          I met many men on the manosphere and elsewhere, trying to acquire an abundance mentality in the face of rejection and failure, in the absence of abundance. They did so, like my old sales colleagues, by quashing their emotions – the same, exactly the same. And they were definitely NOT having fun at the process. Oh, they enjoyed their occasional successes, but like my sales of burgundy “Addidas” shorts, were few and far between.

          One of my favourite quotes from Brene Brown – “People who tell us not to care what other people think of us are giving shit advice. We ALL care what other people think, none of us will be successful believing otherwise. The best we can do is to be careful about whose opinions we choose to focus on.” – And, I’ll add, quash the rest.

        2. Buck25

          “I recall several posts from you over the years, expressing frustration and defeat – specifically due to lack of abundance and choice”.

          True, and there’s a good reason for it. I’m quite a bit older than you and the rest of the regulars here(I’m 71 now), and I can tell you that there’s little abundance and choice in dating for anyone over 65 (both genders, BTW). We still think of attractiveness in the opposite sex as we did when we were younger, but alas sooner or later, age takes that physical attractiveness away from men and women alike, until at my age we often don’t find each other very appealing anymore.

          What makes it even harder to take is that earlier in my life, dating was very easy; I definitely had an abundance of available women and plenty of attractive choices right up to my late forties. I suppose I was more than a little cocky, bold, unpredictable, but charming enough to get away with all the chutzpah. I was told that most women thought I was “a nice-looking man” (whatever that meant; I’ve never thought of myself as stereotypically handsome, but I’m not Quasimodo either). Women were like busses on a busy line; if you missed one, there’d be another in about 10 minutes or so. After that experience, being single again at 64, and finding myself virtually invisible to attractive women was quite a rude awakening. It gives me more than a little empathy for the women here who were used to turning a lot of men’s heads when they were younger, and suddenly realize that men their own age (40 to 50) don’t even give them a second look anymore. Must feel similar, I would think. Oh well, I can’t really complain; it was really a lot of fun while it lasted.

  7. 7

    Empathize is associated with women, huh? So, how come way more men than women risk their well-being to save others? Of not compassion, what drives the instinct to protect? I realize that ever person uses both masculine and feminine energy. But I would almost put empathy/compassion into the masculine category. Women might be more outspoken about it. But men sure act on it way more often.

  8. 8

    “I am always telling my daughter to stop apologizing and say no to things while my son is like a mini Trump in terms of demanding what he wants and never admitting he’s wrong. They certainly weren’t taught to be that way. Nature is far stronger than nurture.”

    Sorry, my phone wouldn’t allow me to comment on this comment from Evan specifically. But is it possible that nurture has contributed as well, as kids take parents as role models? (Also taking some traits to the extreme due to young age)

    And coming back to the article, agree that most kids overgrow any questionable behaviours.

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Will write more about that in the future. Yes, kids absorb a ton from their parents; they ALSO have an innate personality that goes beyond shaping. My daughter is anxious, my son is confident. I try to build up her confidence and teach him humility. As far as learned behavior, my daughter is the only one who lacks confidence in a house of confident people; my son is the only one who won’t immediately apologize if he made a mistake. I have hope they’ll both improve. But I don’t think my sweet sensitive daughter will become my brazen son or vice versa no matter how much we model good behavior.

      1. 8.1.1

        You are an excellent journalist, will look forward to that.

        Ok, that may be true to certain extent (although your daughter may develop lots of confidence during her teenage years and later, it’s too early to predict what kind of person she becomes), but I understand that the explanation you are giving is that in your son your “confident” genes are dominant, and in your daughter – your lovely wife’s “compassionate” ones. But it could have been vice versa – you could have had more confident daughter and a gentler son (And there are many examples of kids having dominant traits from a parent of opposite sex), so not sure that the “nature” part is tied to gender.

        1. Evan Marc Katz

          And that’s where we look at larger populations. Picture a school shooter. What does he look like? Picture someone dunking a basketball. What does he look like? Picture a doula. What does she look like? It’s not impossible for someone to run counter to gender stereotypes but to deny that say, men, in general, are physically taller and stronger is a matter of biology, not opinion.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          On the flip side, my sister’s son likes ballet and painting and her daughter wants to be a superhero. Do the existence of these kids negate my original point? Of course not. These are concentric circles. Just because there are 6’ tall women or male kindergarten teachers doesn’t mean there isn’t a larger truth in generalities. Check out jobs in Scandinavia: the most open minded liberal socialist societies around. Sure enough: virtually no men go into kindergarten teaching and virtually no women go into heavy manual labor. It’s not just society nudging us into stereotypes; it’s also who we are.

        3. ScottH

          Responding to Evan’s comments below, sure, that’s why certain occupations are referred to in specific genders:
          Nurses, teachers, stewardesses are referred to in the female gender.
          Cops, soldiers, and dogs are referred to in the male gender.

      2. 8.1.2

        In the case of traits and qualities such as confidence, introversion, shyness, and extroversion, I personally have not seen any data to suggest that those are straddled based on sex/biology or even necessarily gender. It’s certainly true that they’re influenced by genetics (and environment) but as far as I know, confidence and extroversion occur within males and females at a roughly equal rate (I might be wrong about this though, so open to data that contradicts this claim).

        Regarding those other correlations you drew, some, such as strength, aggression, and height are certainly influenced largely by biological sex, but others, such as occupation, are influenced by culture, tradition, and socialization. Below is a piece in the Times discussing all this which I read a while back, thought you might find it interesting:


        1. Jeremy

          Shaukat, that article was such a minefield. I hardly know where to start with it. Much I agreed with, much I didn’t. But the agenda of the authors seemed pretty clear. One part, toward the end, did make me laugh a bit. Because I was once, indeed, part of an all-male book club. Started by a friend of mine whose very feminist wife thought it would be a good idea for him to start one. I showed up having read the book, with 4 other guys I like. But instead of the book club evolving into an arena for bonding and seeking accord (as I understand female book-clubs are), this one devolved into a group of individuals, each seeking informational superiority and the admiration of the others. Each frustrated in seeing that the others sought the same, each frustrated when his vision of superiority did not come to fruition, frustrated at the idiocy of the opinions of the others. In the end, we promised to do it again….but we didn’t. Because we couldn’t agree on the next book.

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Agreed, Jeremy.

        3. Shaukat

          Agree, Jeremy. I didn’t post it because I agree with everything in there, but rather because it encapsulates many of the themes we were discussing.

          I do wonder when people point to the “agenda” authors hold though. It’s an accusation people on all sides of the spectrum like to make, but in my view it’s not necessarily a problem unless you can show that the agenda actually led researchers to falsify or distort the evidence. Virtually every author and researcher approaching these type of issues does so with an agenda.

          Also, thanks for sharing that book club anecdote, very interesting! I’ve been to a couple, but never all male, so curious if that would be a common occurrence.

        4. Mrs Happy

          “…each seeking informational superiority and the admiration of the others.”
          Do you think all or most men want to be admired (in this case for knowing facts or their interpretations) or just those in your book club circle?
          And if the former, WHY? Why would one gender need so much constant admiration?

        5. Emily, to

          “But instead of the book club evolving into an arena for bonding and seeking accord (as I understand female book-clubs are), this one devolved into a group of individuals, each seeking informational superiority and the admiration of the others.”
          What happens when everyone wants to be a flower but no gardeners show up?

        6. Jeremy

          Hi Shaukat, I agree that there’s nothing wrong with having a bias or agenda. But where I start to get my back up is when that agenda is clandestine or misrepresented. I’ve read so many articles and books trying to deconstruct and rebuild masculinity – ironically, most written by women. And I have to ask myself what the goal of these authors is – is it to actually help men be happier, or is it to better the lives of women by changing men? And be careful before suggesting that it’s both. Because if the former is really a factor, the advice must actually take into account what men themselves want…rather than what women project we do.

          Consider the question raised in the article cited – the difference between a “Good Man” and a “Real Man,” and why the two should differ. Goodness is a moral judgment based (usually) on a Judeo-Christian ethic. A “good” man is hard-working, humble, family-oriented, honest, generous – think Jimmy Stuart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Whereas the “reality” of the “Real Man” is measured not based on morality, but rather the ability to get what he wants, what most men want – the admiration of society through status, and the admiration of women through sex. He obtains these, not by following the “goodness” ethic taught by kindergarten teachers, but rather specifically by ignoring it. In fact, the better he ignores it, the more successful he’ll be – both in obtaining status and women. Why the disparity between the Good Man and the Real Man? Because they don’t measure the same thing. Because while Jimmy Stuart came out ahead at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, he was only saved from disaster by (literal) Deus ex-machinas interventions, because good men don’t finish first. Because neither society nor women reward men for being generous and humble….if they aren’t also Real Men.

          You can’t deconstruct masculinity and build it up without considering what it is that men actually want. And you also can’t do it without considering how the desires of women loop into this. The fact that Real Men arouse them, while Good Men comfort them. Women want arousal for sexual encounters, and a mixture of arousal and comfort for relationships. But because for many women their primary motivation is comfort and lifestyle, they’ll de-prioritize their own arousal in favour of comfort, and they’ll think men should do the same (if only they’d mature). But men will not. Men absolutely do not want women who are with them for comfort. And therefore, until women can be legitimately aroused by “goodness”, men will continue to prioritize “reality”. What women tell us with their words matters far less than what they show us with their actions. Every man on earth knows what I’m talking about here.

        7. Emily, to

          “…until women can be legitimately aroused by “goodness”,
          Women will be aroused by goodness when men are aroused by wisdom and age. ” 🙂

        8. Mrs Happy

          Well, I’m aroused by goodness, wisdom and age. But I’ve always been an outlier.

        9. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,.
          “Well, I’m aroused by goodness, wisdom and age. But I’ve always been an outlier.”
          Yeah, but you’re also aroused by “it” and a man you can’t figure out, which puts you squarely in the female bell curve. 🙂 Now in terms of what Jeremy wrote about men and status, I’m not aroused by status alone. It doesn’t turn me off, but status if and of itself isn’t enough. I might respect it if the man is accomplished and smart, but it doesn’t arouse me. i,.e. the other post about BBQ’s professor. I’ve only been turned on by one professor I had but certainly respected a lot of them. Status and sex appeal are two separate things.

        10. shaukat

          Hi Jeremy,

          A couple points: First, in my opinion, you attach too much importance to ‘arousal’ and ‘comfort’ as behavioral traits. Women, in my experience, are largely aroused through physical attraction and chemistry, much like men. After that, just be interesting, be fun, see if you’re compatible and don’t be a pushover. I honestly think you tend to overcomplicate the issue with this ‘real man’ ‘nice man’ dichotomy of attraction.

          Secondly, regarding what men say they want when it comes to deconstructing masculinity, that’s an interesting point. If we approach masculinity as partially natural and healthy, and some components as largely cultural and corrosive, then asking men who are steeped in some of the negative aspects of masculinity what they want in terms of holding onto it might not be very helpful. For example, if a man believes that masculinity means supressing ones’ emotions/feelings, never showing vulnerability, displaying aggression regularly, and holds onto that belief system, then he may not necessarily know in the moment how relieved he could be to throw off some of those emotional burdens by rejecting that component of masculine belief.

          An interesting book, written by a man, is Robert Connelly’s Masculinities, if you ever have the time.

        11. Mrs Happy

          Dear ETO,
          “…but you’re also aroused by “it” and a man you can’t figure out, which puts you squarely in the female bell curve.”
          Yes, though it’s the IT you and I were referencing, and not the generic excitement of any new relationship (which is also delightful of course).
          The truth is, I’m aroused and interested by so many different things, that any attempt to list them invariably leaves out many. Ah, what a hard life I have!

          Dear Shaukat,
          “Women, in my experience, are largely aroused through physical attraction and chemistry, much like men. After that, just be interesting, be fun, see if you’re compatible and don’t be a pushover.”
          I think you’ve nailed it. It’s a combination of every attribute of someone, and not a dichotomy between just 2 sides of a see saw.

        12. Emily, to

          Mrs. H.,
          “Yes, though it’s the IT you and I were referencing, and not the generic excitement of any new relationship (which is also delightful of course).”
          Agreed. The “IT” I was referring to has nothing to do with new-relationship energy but rather a certain kind of charisma. And that kind of “IT” never goes away. A man can be 80 and still have “IT.” (I realize this will make no sense to men.) Anyway, the problem with “IT” is … it’s rare and usually felt by a number of other women. 🙂

        13. Jeremy

          It’s entirely plausible that I over-emphasize the comfort/arousal dichotomy, Shaukat. I’m not married to the idea. I just don’t yet have a better way to explain what I’ve observed in terms of how women tend to act – not so much in dating (where, I agree with you, chemistry and getting along form the backbone), but in marriage. How to better explain the dichotomies between what women say versus how they act – the recent discussion about chivalry on this site being a prime example, but also comments such as “goodness and modesty are what arouse us.” It’s more than just people not being clear on what they want – that wouldn’t explain the systematicity of the comments. But I’m open to a better explanation.

          Regarding your second paragraph, I agree. I think that discussions around the topic of masculinity are important for precisely the reasons you mentioned – men steeped in a particular culture may not even be aware of what might be lifted from their shoulders should they disregard some of the messaging. But we can’t forget the flip side, was my point. That just as a man might discover positivity when throwing off the yoke of his upbringing, he might also discover negativity that he didn’t anticipate, that these lovely discussions did not prepare him for. Both in the reactions of society, and the reactions of women. I find that the discussions I’ve read acknowledge the former, but less so the latter. I’ll check out Connelly’s work, thanks for the recommendation.

        14. Jeremy

          Mrs H, you wrote, ” Well I’m aroused by goodness, wisdom and age.” Ah! Now I understand why you’re so insistent on loving Santa!

          Sorry, couldn’t help myself 🙂

        15. sylvana


          I think part of the problem when it comes to the arousal theory is exactly that: Actual arousal.

          A woman will have sex for two reason. The first being that she is actually aroused by the man and desires him. The second being her putting out in exchange for something he offers, may that be money, security, status, whatever.

          You don’t honestly think that trophy wives are actually aroused by the old men they’re with. It’s no more than legal form of prostitution. They’re not aroused by status, money, or power. They want status, money, and power, and will buy it with sex.

          Sorry, but no woman masturbates thinking about a man’s bank account or status. They think about attraction, hotness, a man who curls her toes in bed. A man who excites her. Money or status, etc. doesn’t excite a woman. The thought of having it might excite her, but not in sexual way. And it has nothing at all to do with the man himself.

          Pretty much the same goes for the average wife. Ultimately, the thing that will cause her to be aroused is attraction, looks, being exciting and good in bed. Other qualities will make her love and appreciate a man, but they won’t turn her on. Although they might keep her putting out to make him happy. Which, once again, has nothing to do with her actual arousal.

          The gazillion romance novels and their extreme success clearly prove that. While in some niches, there is more of a bad boy or alpha or billionaire/whatever undertone (which only make up about a quarter of the niches, since a lot of women actually don’t like it), it’s secondary, and the main theme is always the same. The man is good-looking, she feels a high level of chemistry/attraction, he makes her feel desired, and he curls her toes in bed. And, most importantly, he has all the good-guy trades you described above. What he does for a living, how much money he makes, how aggressive or dominant he is are no more than background filler.

          Reality is that for around 75% of women, sex doesn’t do all that much. It’s exciting when it’s new, but that quickly wears off. Women get bored with relationship sex a heck of a lot faster than men. And behaviors that might get a man one woman after the next into bed tend to have negative influences on relationships. If a woman isn’t happy, she will no longer get aroused.

          So it’s debatable if telling men that certain behaviors work in their favor is actually true. It kind of depends on what he wants. Does he want a woman who is actually aroused by him, or will he be happy with a woman who puts out in exchange for whatever it is he “pays” her with – be that money, status, stability, security, whatever.

        16. Jeremy

          Hey Shaukat, I looked into “Masculinities” by R. W. Connell. I was fascinated by the biography of the author. Apparently Raewynn Connell, a female Australian sociologist, occasionally publishes under the pseudonym “Bob” or “Robert”. But she’s very much female and feminist. I couldn’t help but look into her bio when I read passages from the book, that I couldn’t imagine any man writing. Doesn’t mean he work isn’t important or of value. But casts light on the perspective she’s starting from.

        17. Jeremy

          I used to read the articles on “The Good Man Project” fairly regularly. I went to that site for the same reason I went to the manosphere – because the feminist messages I’d received growing up surrounding what it meant to be a man had proven dysfunctional (in spite of the fact that those messages were the opposite of the messages so many modern articles deplore). I was looking for conversation around the topic of masculinity – how men could be happier, better get what they wanted. And what I observed on the Good Men Project was that the conversation between well-meaning men was entirely co-opted by women. Women who wanted men to be a certain way, who’d been harmed in some way by men, who had come to prioritize comfort as what they wanted from men (and what they’d provide to men in return). And when the men on that site (who were largely open to hearing from the women) refuted the women’s claims with their life experience, they were shamed and shouted down…by other women. The readership stats of that site, last I checked, were overwhelmingly female. Ironic, given what the site purports to be for. Where did the men go? Why did they lose interest in the conversation? Perhaps…because the conversation was one-sided?

          I have no qualms about hearing the opinions (and the research) of women and trans-women (like Connell) regarding masculinity. But what I’d much rather hear is a genuine discussion by MEN, for men. Cis, hetero men. The ones who adopt these traits of masculinity, the ones reluctant to let them go. What happens when they let them go, how does society react, how do women – how do women REALLY react, not how do women predict they’d react? I know my own experience. “Goodness arouses us!” “Wisdom arouses us!” “Modesty arouses us!” – Really?! It AROUSES you? The hottest sex you’ve had was with a man who was good and modest? Or was it with a man with the physique of a Greek god and overwhelming confidence? Does hearing how your partner donated to charity make you want to rip his clothes off, or do you feel that way when he wrestles snakes out of a pool? When you say that something “arouses” you, is arousal what you mean? Or is what you mean that it makes you better want a RELATIONSHIP with that man? The difference between these may not be terribly important to the woman seeking a husband, the role being what she’s seeking. But it means everything to why men do what they do. Please be specific with your wording, because it matters!

        18. Shaukat

          Hey Jeremy,

          Wow, can’t believe I missed that. Either that or I knew and forgot. In my defense I haven’t looked at the book since undergrad, I just remember there were parts I found intriguing, specifically the part about bodies having sexual agency of their own.

        19. Emily, to

          ” “Goodness arouses us!” “Wisdom arouses us!” “Modesty arouses us!” – Really?! It AROUSES you? The hottest sex you’ve had was with a man who was good and modest? ”
          Ok, so I’ve said I don’t get turned on by goodness. Mrs. Happy said she does but admits to being an outlier. Sylvana said status doesn’t turn women on. (Sylvana: Can you please comment on whether goodness turns you on?) I wish we hadn’t lost so many of the female regulars so they could weigh in on this … so we could finally put this topic … ha ha ha … to bed. 🙂

        20. Mrs Happy

          From Emily:
          “… I’ve said I don’t get turned on by goodness. Mrs. Happy said she does but admits to being an outlier. Sylvana said status doesn’t turn women on…”

          I agree with everything Sylvana wrote in her point starting “I think part of the problem when it comes to the arousal theory is exactly that: Actual arousal.”

          I think I’m an standard Western woman regarding the following. It’s impossible for me to separate a man being good and kind, from me being turned on, because my lifestyle preferences are such that I won’t spend time with men who aren’t good, thus I won’t end up in a relationship with any such men. Since I don’t have sex outside relationships, or let myself get into situations where such could happen, I can’t know whether I could be really turned on by a man who was bad/unkind, plus had the physical attributes I enjoy. This is just one of the myriad of ways my upbringing and surrounding cultural opinions influences my sexuality, and I bet it’s the same for most women. And look at what this means – I don’t even know what I’d like! How can any exploration of these issues not have so many confounders it’s near pointless to try to bed down what results in female arousal outside a lab?

          Even the slant of this conversation is indicative of the whole bias, which is around men’s wants sexually. Continued repeated arousal of women is only important for men so they can have more of what they want (sex with women). As Sylvana said, sex on repeat is just not that interesting for most females after the first exciting years. Is the whole world slanted towards men trying to achieve more sex? Gosh it’s boring.

        21. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “I think I’m an standard Western woman regarding the following … Since I don’t have sex outside relationships, or let myself get into situations where such could happen, I can’t know whether I could be really turned on by a man who was bad/unkind, plus had the physical attributes I enjoy. ”
          You’ve never had casual sex? I may be misunderstanding you, but I guess I don’t understand the idea of “bad” and “good.” It’s too one-dimensional. There are certainly men I’ve been initially attracted to who I’ve gotten to know better and didn’t end up liking as people and the attraction lessened considerably. It depends on how into the guy you are. If you really like him and hope it’s going to move into someting, your standards of character are higher. But for casual situations? Sometimes you ride the train for a little while because …why not? You aren’t going to marry the guy.
          “As Sylvana said, sex on repeat is just not that interesting for most females after the first exciting years.”
          Yes. Unless you get really lucky and you two just click sexually.

        22. Mrs Happy

          Emily – “Unless you get really lucky and you two just click sexually.”
          Clicking isn’t enough. I’ve clicked with a decent percentage of my partners. I think the only way to keep feeling repeatedly highly aroused is to be having sex with a man who is absolutely, off the scale, fantastic in bed, plus has all the qualities on one’s list. Absolutely fantastic is rare, hence most women find their excitement about the shuffle eventually wanes.

          “You’ve never had casual sex?”
          No. I was educated by Catholic nuns in a convent school. I kid you not. Even on an atheist heathen who worships science and abhors most religions, such an education leaves a mark. And sex with a stranger – meh. I’m all about the chase. Catching is boring.

          ETO, … you still have insomnia?

        23. Jeremy

          I partly agree and partly disagree with Sylvana’s comment. I agree with it from the female perspective – it’s hard to deny that many women lose interest in “sex on repeat” or that they end up having sex to “pay for” the things they want from their spouse. Where I disagree is with the implication that men are aware of this exchange – they largely aren’t. Instead, the exchange men think they’re making is “My efforts for her desire.” Her DESIRE. Not her comfort, for which she’ll pay with occasional sex she doesn’t enjoy.

          No man wants to be with a woman who’s only with him because he’s paying. Even prostitutes have to act like they’re having fun in the moment – the most successful of those have to make the man feel desired, not just act like a human vibrator. Which is why Sylvana was so wrong when she wrote that “if all a man wants is to get off, he can use his hand or a vibrator.” Indeed, that would be true…if the purpose of sex was just to get off. It isn’t.

          I think, though, that while our different relationship-wants can definitely cause problems for men and women, the larger problems are caused by our attitude. It is one thing to acknowledge that our partner’s wants differ from ours. It’s quite another to think of our partner’s wants as boring. That attitude is the relationship-killer far more than the difference in wants itself.

          I think that distance-running is terribly boring. If I want to travel 30 miles, I’ll drive. But my wife loves running. It provides her with an outlet for her stresses, elevates her mood through endorphins, keeps her fitness at the level she likes. I make sure she can run as often and for as long as she wants, though it means I have to watch the kids and do the housework (ie. make an effort) to let her do so. She has a special birthday coming up, and when she told me that her dream is to run the New York marathon for her birthday, I did what I had to do to make that happen. Though it cost me lots of money, though it will cost me effort, though I myself don’t much care about it. I took care of it for her, I did so happily, and most important of all, I PRETENDED TO BE EXCITED ABOUT IT. Because her seeing me share in her excitement will create a positive feedback loop. Because while I might not care about running, I definitely care about HER. And when you care about someone, you care about their priorities. Even if you have to tell a white lie – or repeated white lies – to set the standard for that positive feedback loop. And if you feel that it’s unfair to have to do so, remember this – your partner is doing the same. And if he’s doing it well, you’ll never know it.

        24. Emily, to

          Mrs. H,
          “Clicking isn’t enough. I’ve clicked with a decent percentage of my partners. I think the only way to keep feeling repeatedly highly aroused is to be having sex with a man who is absolutely, off the scale, fantastic in bed, plus has all the qualities on one’s list. Absolutely fantastic is rare, hence most women find their excitement about the shuffle eventually wanes.”
          Well, by “clicking” I meant the sex was fantastic. Not good. Not great but fantastic. I agree that it is very rare. But the two men I experienced it with did not have long-term potential. If you know going into it the sex will be a 9 or 10, you don’t mind the repetition. If you know it will be a 6 or 7, it’s hard to get as excited. Where I do disagree is that it’s about being “fantastic in bed.” That could mean something very different for me than it does for you. Thus my comment about “clicking.”
          “I’m all about the chase. Catching is boring.”
          “Nothing’s as pretty in your hands as it was in your head.” 🙂 “The Rainmaker,” play by Richard Nash
          “ETO, … you still have insomnia?”
          Only on the nights before a workday. Because I dread work. 🙂

        25. Emily, to

          “I took care of it for her, I did so happily, and most important of all, I PRETENDED TO BE EXCITED ABOUT IT.”
          So, you want women to pretend to be excited about sex if they aren’t? It was my understanding from previous posts you didn’t want them to pretend.

        26. Jeremy

          The nuance here, Emily, is in the difference between the ideal vs the practical.

          The ideal is that the wife would be as interested as the husband. Or at least in the same ballpark. If that isn’t the way it is during the courtship, don’t even bother. But the practicality in the long term is what Mrs H has described so often. Women don’t like sex as much as men, don’t want it as much, don’t get as much out of it, aren’t motivated to seek it once the initial excitement dies down. So what’s a couple to do? Is he supposed to dump her when she acts like every other woman on earth? Is she supposed to act according to her proclivities and expect him to be ok with that? What’s the best PRACTICAL solution in light of reality?

          Well, that depends. Depends on what the lying I described above results in, long term. If it results in the woman feeling false and used, it’s no good. If it results in him feeling manipulated, it’s no good. But another possibility exists: Her doing her best, not just to do something nice for her husband but also ENJOY it herself – might just result in good feelings and reciprocation from him. Which might generate good feelings and further desire to reciprocate in her. And with this positive reinforcement cycle, she might come to genuinely enjoy the sex on an entirely different level, just as he might come to enjoy all the various things that she prioritizes, wants him to do that he wouldn’t otherwise be motivated to do. They might both actually, you know, GROW as human beings. The disingenuous may result in genuinity. In the absence of the ideal, that might be the best strategy.

        27. Emily, to

          “Is he supposed to dump her when she acts like every other woman on earth?”
          That would be kind of pointless, no? If the man is married and his entire life is wrapped up in the wife’s life — financially, socially, kids, etc. — and then he blows up his life, only to experience the same unmatched interest in sex from the next woman after a few years?

        28. Jeremy


        29. Emily, to

          It’s kind of sad when you think about it, but isn’t that how most of us make most of our decisions? Hmmmm … I could blow up my life because I feel trapped and dissatisfied, but will it be all that much better on the other side?

        30. Jeremy

          Why sad? Makes me hopeful. I didn’t say there isn’t a solution, I said there IS. It just isn’t blowing the whole thing up, isn’t the intuitive, impulsive thing. Requires thought, patience, empathy. Requires us to cultivate those skills and qualities, rather than the things that come from our gut. Hopeful for better things from humanity.

        31. Mrs Happy

          I don’t agree it is a good idea to lie. Sure, if you want to spend time interacting with and looking after your own kids, and cleaning up your own house, and cooking dinner, so your partner can have discretionary time to themselves, good. Nothing to write home about, though many men will think it’s admirable. But you don’t have to pretend to enjoy those acts. They’re just things that need doing.

          Similarly you don’t have to pretend to enjoy someone else’s sport. Are you kidding me? Let her have her own thing. If she needs you to sit on the sidelines and admire her running for hours a week, you two need some distance from serious pathological inter-dependency.

          I hate it when my husband lies to me. It drives a wedge between us, and destroys my trust in him, and leads to distance, and annoys me no end. Lying about little stuff is wasted lies. I say don’t lie at all, but if you want to lie (why I do not know), lie about the big stuff, so the lie is worth creating the distance and lowering the trust. Waste of a lie, if you will, to lie about being excited about someone’s recreational activities.

          If you think that something is boring, own it. Why not be genuine?
          True to yourself? Feels great let me tell you. I can’t believe you lie in an aim to be closer to your wife and blah blah blah eventual aim is … via some theoretical feedback loop … more sex. Good grief.

          And – the ideal is each person having identical needs and wants? Really? Why? Says what evidence? Sounds inane to me, not to mention completely unrealistic. Does not happen.

          If one’s self worth is dependent on someone else regularly desiring one sexually, one’s life over 80 years is going to be a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.

          I am thinking of you all over there in Canada. Terrible. x

        32. Jeremy

          You keep touting the greatness of being true to one’s self. Which self? We’ve already established the presence of dissonance. Emerg you’re true to the one, does not the other feel dissatisfied unless you make a handy excuse to ignore the dissonance? And is that excuse not… a lie? 🙂

          Thinking of you too down in Oz, though you’ve not been hit as hard. My wife is feeling very confined and antsy with the quarantine, but I’m feeling safe. Have shelter, food, family, and very low chance of getting sick. I worry what will happen once it’s lifted and I have to go back to work, seeing 40-50 patients per day without sufficient protective gear. Can’t believe how quickly they’re thinking of opening things back up in the States. No offence to my southern neighbours, but your guys aren’t thinking things through, and it shows in the worst possible way.

        33. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          “… blah blah blah eventual aim is … via some theoretical feedback loop … more sex. Good grief.”
          And how is that sex still this interesting year after year after year? It’s such a small part of life. What? A couple of hours a week of one’s entire existence?
          “If one’s self worth is dependent on someone else regularly desiring one sexually, one’s life over 80 years is going to be a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”
          Ha! Try 40.

        34. Emily, to

          “No one in this world ever enjoyed anything that came from my gut. Including me.”
          Have you ever watched “The Sopranos?” Remember the young nephew character, Christopher Moltisanti? He’s part of the mob but he wants more. He’s artistic and he writes a screenplay and somehow manages to get on the set of a Jon Favreau movie and meets a young female movie executive and they have an affair. And he’s alive. Not because of the sex but because this woman has rung his higher bells, understands his high-reach goals, sees he’s a talented writer and sees him the way he sees himself. And then he goes to dinner with his fiancée and she wants to talk about bridesmaids dresses and what to eat for dinner, and he wants to blow his head off. One woman hit his higher self. The other is “Thanksgiving gravy.”

        35. Evan Marc Katz

          I can’t even listen to this conversation. Jeremy (and I) understand everything you’re saying, Emily. What we contend is that nobody builds a 40-year-relationship based on “higher bells.” We both believe it’s essential to know how to function within a relationship – understanding yourself, your motivations and your spouse’s motivations – coupled with all the attendant compromises that are necessary on both sides to make a marriage function. Yet every time you post, it sounds like a teenager who likes hot boys and can’t seem to understand why those relationships never last.

          “I can’t help what I’m attracted to!” “Maybe you don’t care about attraction but I do!” “I might meet a guy once every five years who revs my motor like that.” “Mmm, yes, Marlon Brando…” “I like a man who is mysterious.” My god. Listening to you lecture married men about how relationships work is like listening to Donald Trump lecture Jeff Bezos on business.

          I think Mrs. Happy misinterprets half of what Jeremy says and can probably stand to become a better wife, but at least she’s talking from a place of knowledge. So please: if you’re going to repeat yourself ad nauseum (as Jeremy does), at least attempt to learn something in this space (as Jeremy does).

          All I’ve learned after 958 posts from you is that you venerate chemistry above all and you seem to still be single. You can write 1000 more comments here but if all of them are designed to teach us about the virtues of 10 chemistry/3 compatibility, I can assure you, we know and we’ve learned why it doesn’t work in the long run.

        36. Mrs Happy

          Dear ETO,
          I’m sorry to hear about work being so awful it causes sleeping difficulties. I’ve been in such a situation and it was horrid, horrid. I really feel for you. Nothing changed for me until I changed jobs.

          Dear JJ,
          “We” haven’t established the presence of dissonance at all, that’s your rodeo only m’dear. Unless you have a split personality (and you do not) why all this talk of the different selves? They’re imaginary; you are a robust, unified person. Stop with the different selves theory malarkey and just be your own person. Why you are running away from the wonderful person you are, I’ve no idea. One can have varying emotions and desires and behaviours, and be good and bad, and still be the one self.

          I meant Nova Scotia. But re the corona, can you work via video or telephone conferencing? And if you work for yourself surely you get to decide when you return to work?

          I too am loving it at home. Total sloth mode. It will be hard for our family to return to usual living in fact.

        37. Mrs Happy

          Dear Evan,
          I don’t think I misinterpret half of what Jeremy says. I disagree with some of what he says, and communicate that. I don’t get the impression he minds me disagreeing. If I’m to be brutally honest, I’ll say yes, you have half a point, in that sometimes I pick on J’s comments more for enjoyment than real disagreement, because it amuses me to do so. That might be read as misinterpretation by you. (Not to be too juvenile about it, and not that it’s any excuse, but he does the same to me.)

          A lifelong relationship isn’t the goal for everyone. Some people reading this blog want to know how to make relationships better, but do not necessarily aim to stay in one relationship for life. Emily’s desire for excitement would see her stifled in a traditional restrictive marriage that became repetitive. I think lots of people grapple with being single and sort-of yearn to be coupled, but the staid mundane reality of being coupled means long-term relationships never work wonderfully for them.
          I also feel sympathy because at present Emily is having a really difficult time in life. When people are under stress they do double down into old habits and thought patterns. But just because people aren’t posting reflections doesn’t mean the ideas others introduce aren’t bubbling away in their minds.

          I’ve said it before but the usefulness of these comments are the wonderful variety of differences. If everyone was single and pessimistic, or married and stable, your comments section would be less interesting.

          This side thread has been about quite interesting topics – lies within marriages, masculinity, sexual responses and desire, author biases, the idea of a split self, theories on positive feedback and personal growth in relationships.

          Individuals will understandably have differing opinions on such deep topics. No one person’s opinion is superior to everyone else’s. (Though it goes without saying we each of the 5 regulars involved specifically here, believe our own ideas are the most correct ones. We are each used to considering complex issues and stating our concluding opinions with confidence. But we still all learn from each other. We learn far more than we reject. We just don’t want to give everyone else too much satisfaction by too often admitting such.)

          Your blog is wonderful, and appreciated, especially for its sense of community in these isolating times, Evan. Stay well. x

        38. Evan Marc Katz

          Mrs. Happy, one of the trickiest things in life is trying to see multiple sides of a story, validate different people’s perspectives, and to do so in a respectful way. In real life, we get to choose our friends and minimize the time spent with family members who trigger us. So I’ll be the first to admit, even after 17 years of doing this, I am triggered by single people who come to my site – a place where it says, in boldface: Evan Marc Katz, Dating Coach for Smart, Strong, Successful Women. Understand Men, Find Love. Give Me Five Minutes a Day, I’ll Give You a Husband – only to tell me how wrong I am OR don’t register for my email list, buy my products, or invest in coaching. I mostly stay out of the comments for this reason and let two intelligent married men, Jeremy and Karl, speak for me by proxy. But sometimes, like last night, I Just. Can’t. Even. I know it’s not a good look. I’m not proud of it. I wrote about it in my journal. Mentioned it to my wife.

          All because it’s so antithetical to the way I think. I’m always searching for a greater truth, trying to optimize, trying to improve: as a husband, a father, a coach, a person. I do self-help. I read. I listen to constructive criticism. My wife even mentioned this in our wedding vows: Evan’s always trying to get better. And it’s true. This doesn’t mean I’m perfect by ANY means (which is more than obvious), but God knows, I sure TRY to improve each day. And, from what I can see, so does Jeremy. Which is why it’s so frustrating to witness him try to explain himself in this space. It’s like Obama explaining himself to Alex Jones fans, who are so ground in their side that they can’t appreciate his nuance and moderation. Alas, I don’t see much evidence of that from most others, who reduce themselves to caricature with how tone-deaf they are to either understanding men or creating and sustaining lasting love. As a person who has marinated in this conversation for years and knows both sides inside out, it gets tiring. Like a doctor trying to listen intently to the wisdom of anti-vaxxers. I know that’s hyperbole but it’s why I prefer clients to commenters. They WANT to listen. They WANT to learn. Commenters don’t. They just want a platform to repeat the same ideas that haven’t led them to an amazing, fun, easy, happy relationship and regurgitate their ineffective dating strategies and theories for entertainment, positive validation, or a dopamine hit.

          I don’t ban people from this site unless they insult me but really, I have little interest in this “dialogue,” because it’s as fruitless as politics. I don’t want to carry out conversations with single women who don’t get it any more than I want to hear from 5G/Bill Gates/QAnon conspiracy theorists on Facebook.

          So…I appreciate being appreciated and I hope you continue to enjoy the conversation here. I’m just going to focus my energies on things that spark more joy.

          Be safe.


        39. Jeremy

          Emily, re “The one hit his higher self while the other was talking about Thanksgiving.”. Guess what: The one who is now talking about Thanksgiving? Once got his higher self in the exact same way. That’s how she got to the point where she could talk about Thanksgiving with him. The best point of comparison I can think of is a woman who desperately wants a baby and doesn’t envision that the baby will grow into a teenager and then an adult, will only stay a cuddly baby for a short time. Only an idiot has a baby because what she wants is a baby. It’s human to want, it’s idiotic to act upon.

          I have a colleague who was married to a lovely dermatologist who could have been a model. He loved her, and they had a family together, but after a while he felt his life was humdrum and his wife didn’t validate him. So he left his wife and married his nurse, with whom he’d been having an affair. Said she looked up to him, admired him in a way his wife just didn’t. Hit his higher self, though he didn’t use those words. Guess what? Once married, she no longer admired him. Instead of talking about how great he was and how interested in him she was, she talked about Thanksgiving. Just like his ex wife. Guess why? Guess what he then did?

          This is not the death of hope. It should just be the death of ridiculous expectations. Which is Mrs Happy’s point to me, though I agree with Evan that she isn’t understanding exactly what I’m saying. It’s frustrating, so I’ve repeated it ad nauseam – it’s not that I need intense sexual desire for 80 years. It’s that I need to see an equal desire to please as to be pleased. I don’t believe that to be unrealistic, except in cases where a person specifically tries to avoid doing so. In which case I’m fascinated to observe the reasons for that refusal. They are so systematic, see my recent story about pie.

        40. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          Thank you for your nice comments.
          “The one who is now talking about Thanksgiving? Once got his higher self in the exact same way. ”
          It’s been a while since I’ve watched the show, but I guess my point was that some people aren’t interested in anything but the turkey. I mean, obviously, the higher self stuff is 5 of 10 percent of life, but if it’s not there at all, I think you don’t feel known. I mentioned my dad passing away, and if you asked me to write a eulogy for him, I couldn’t have done it. I didn’t really know who he was. Now, when my closest friend died, I wrote a piece about her and read it at her service. And people said I captured her, which is what I was hoping to do. It isn’t that we talked about deep issues all the time, but that we talked about them at least some of the time.

        41. Jeremy

          Some people are focused on the external because that’s their nature, and others are focused on the external to avoid having to focus on the internal. They don’t know themselves and don’t want to.

          My wife’s stepfather is such a man. You’d never meet a nicer man in your life – nice in the sense that he’d do anything for anyone without a whimper of complaint. Ask him what he wants and he’ll always defer to whatever you want. When I first met him years ago, I was suspicious of him, waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s just a matter of time, I thought, before his REAL desires come out, and the beast will roar. Nope, I was wrong. There IS no beast. He doesn’t know what he wants, wouldn’t know if it hit him. He’s a Guardian personality at the far end of the spectrum, everything he is has been subsumed by internalization of external values. He’s developed all sorts of auto-immune painful conditions that I’m convinced are at least partly psycho-somatic – his body attacking itself because it doesn’t recognize itself. One time he sought my advice for help – I asked him where it was hurting….and he didn’t even know. Couldn’t introspect enough to give a history….about himself….in the PRESENT!

          And yet he was exactly the sort of partner my mother-in-law wanted. A man who’d not put important lifestyle wants behind his own airy-fairy idealist notions, like her ex-husband did. This is obviously different from your dad, who probably obsessed over his own crap but just didn’t want to share it or talk about it, who perhaps spent all his time ruminating and getting nowhere, like a hamster on a wheel, like my own dad. It’s frustrating. It’s hard not to see that and think that what we want is the exact opposite….instead of realizing that what we need is a balance.

        42. Emily, to

          “He’s developed all sorts of auto-immune painful conditions that I’m convinced are at least partly psycho-somatic – his body attacking itself because it doesn’t recognize itself. ”
          It’s probably stress. He’d subsumed his wants into everyone else’s. If you don’t deal with stress, it expresses itself in the body.
          “This is obviously different from your dad, who probably obsessed over his own crap but just didn’t want to share it or talk about it …:”
          I just finally came the conclusion with my dad that there wasn’t much all there. Just a surfaceness. He was a bit ocd and we had to eat every.single.night at the same time. But if we had dinner on time and my stepmother was in the house with him (though they weren’t interacting), he was fine. He didn’t seem to really want anything. No desire for friends, no interest in the community.

  9. 9

    There is no way to deny that men and women have morphological, hormonal, biochemical etc.differences.

    However, I quite like the broad metaphor of Steve Peters, a psychiatrist and the author of “The Chimp Paradox”. He divides the brain into three parts, Chimp (an emotional machine), Human (rational thinker, evidence-based part) and Computer (won’t go into detail for now). Each part is represented by corresponding parts of the brain.

    Peters maintains that although Chimp is strong, who you actually are, your “true” personality is your Human. Interestingly, on the question of gender differences he says that the male and female Chimps are very different (driven by different instincts), but Humans are mostly the same. I find it reassuring.

    1. 9.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I think we’re 90% the same and the 10% different. That 10% explains why I’ve been in business for 17 years – because women legitimately can’t fathom that men might think differently or have different motivations than they do.

      1. 9.1.1

        I agree with lots of what you say. Principles of not counting on changing someone and listening to what’s being said rather than what you want to hear are pure gold.

  10. 10

    Regarding your example – yes, men are better evolutionary “equipped” for heavy manual labour than women. However, say, in business, where there is only rational thinking rather than muscle strength, the picture today is very different from 50 years ago, and in 10 years’ time I dare say it will be different from today, so more scope to be a “superhero” if one wishes so.

  11. 11

    I’ve never once commented on here before, but been reading your blog for a couple years now. At the risk of being out last and demonized by the commenters on here I’d still love to add my two cents. Thank you Evan for this post. I would love to see more strong, masculine capable men in the world. I grew up with a dad who embodied that, who was the first to cry at a sappy movie, but owned a barging and construction company in Alaska, drove an F-350, taught me how to drive the tractor, change my oil and be a capable strong woman, but also was a fiercely protective masculine man. I realize that I’m simplifying things as I cannot explain a lifetime of experience in a paragraph (for those commenters that love to nit pick other commenters and eat them alive because they don’t agree). I work in a very liberal woman focused career (obstetrics) in Seattle (a very liberal city), but live in the country, drive my own tractor, drive a truck, can navigate the hardware store just fine thanks very much. But I still love it when a man wants to come swoop in and help me. I’m a very capable woman, but also acknowledge that there are many things men are just better at than I am. I may be better at certain things than they are, but I certainly don’t want to date a man whom I feel is dainty, incapable of manly things (yikes somebody is going to hate that I’m sure), or a man who cannot make me feel protected, safe and respected. I feel like I’m going down a rabbit hole here and I’m sorry. One last thing I’ll add, I absolutely love getting dressed up in a feminine dress, sexy heels, doing up my long hair and makeup (sorry to those who feel like that is a bad thing), to go out and feel feminine, sexy and attractive. Even if no one overtly comments about my appearance it boosts my own self esteem, simply because I am multi-dimensional. Meaning, I may be capable, don’t mind getting dirty, etc, but also love and value being a soft, attractive woman. In demonizing the idea of masculinity, we are also demonizing the idea of being feminine. Perhaps, because it may be construed as weak or incapable. I’m not sure exactly. I also know from my work, that in obstetrics women tend to rule, meaning it’s largely women doctors, nurses, etc, most of the time due to the fact that men will never be able to truly relate to pregnancy and childbirth and women have the innate ability to empathize, be gentle and kind to their patients in a way that many men struggle with. But hold on before anyone jumps down my throat, there are also several female doctors, midwives and nurses that I’ve worked with who are the opposite and who seem to not give a crap about their patients, just like I know of several incredible male doctors and nurses who empathize immensely. There probably will never be a time when things are perfect, but I for one believe that we could do a much better job of valuing each other’s traits and strengths instead of demonizing them. There will always be shitty men who cast a shadow and a bad name for all men, just like there will always by shitty catty women who do the same for all women. But for once, can we please try to value the positives in men instead of acting like “men suck, women can do everything that men can do, etc.” Yes I understand that women are capable, but so are men, and we really need to stop dissing on them so much if we expect them to be the kind of partners, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, and lovers that we actually want. P.S. I don’t think I’ll read any comments related to my post, as it seems that people love to nit pick in the comments section and argue, rather than actually learn or give each other any credit. P.P.S. Thank you Evan for this post.

  12. 12

    Why be so worried about the opinions of others? We may or may not disagree with your definitions, but who are we to gainsay your tastes?

  13. 13
    Malika with an L

    There is a very good documentary called Alfamannen i saw a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately only available in Dutch, otherwise i would recommend everyone to watch it. They followed different men in their 30’s and 40’s who felt that they struggled to meet the expectations of modern masculinity. One angle was a weekend retreat where they came together to talk about this struggle. As they talked i saw a group of men who were very obviously masculine yet had a very incisive, empathetic and self-reflective take on the conundrum of modern masculinity and their place in the world. Very positive-feminine traits in rather macho-looking men, what a wondrous combination! At the end they lamented that they were undateable. Sod it, i would have dated the whole boiling lot (my boyfriend would probably veto this idea). Societal expectations are changing and a positive outcome is we all get to be a fuller version of ourselves. We get to embrace our masculine and feminine traits and it would be a big mistake to deride one side for the benefit of the other. I am sad that men feel that their masculinity is not valued, yet i hope that what we are moving to is a world where we get to show all sides of ourselves and not have to hide either our masculinity or femininity because it is deemed unfashionable.

  14. 14

    Evan, I’d just like to second Mrs Happy’s remarks thanking you for your website. Not just for the advice that has benefited me and many others, but for the opportunity to participate in a community of sorts. So beneficial, especially in these difficult times. I know it’s frustrating when people repeat (what we see as) their mistakes. But I agree with Mrs H, no matter how much they argue and seem to ignore, they are likely turning it over in their heads, at least somewhat. It might help them or make a difference in a way that neither they nor we predict. And if not the advice, then possibly just the community, the opportunity to talk and be heard.

    In Jewish houses of mourning, people typically recite a blessing to those in need of comfort which is usually translated: “May the lord be a comfort to you among those in need of comfort.” But the Hebrew word for “lord” is not the usual one, is actually the word for “place.” Literally, the epithet means “May this PLACE provide you with comfort.” This place, the house full of people, the conversation, the community – may it provide you with the comfort you need. One can be an atheist like you, or an agnostic like me, and still understand the deeper meaning of the blessing. During these times, THIS PLACE is a comfort for those in need of comfort. Whether that was the intent or not. It is something special for so many reasons.

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