Why Would a Man Commit to Me and Then Change His Mind?

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I started seeing a close friend after we made out one night. I had reservations because he was divorced (a year and a half ago) with 2 kids. He would drive hours to see the kids every weekend so that means weekends are off limits for us. I honest to goodness didn’t mind that because I like my own space and time. I’m very laid-back, independent, go with the flow, got her own career and money type of girl, not controlling/needy/clingy.

Things quickly escalated from there in a span of 2 months. We started going on dates at least twice a week. We text all day, late night talks, deep intimate conversations – the works. Things were so easy because we have so much in common and we were friends first. He wants to be with me all the time. We never had arguments. It was TOO easy, like too good to be true. But he was the one moving the relationship forward. I never asked for exclusivity or had the “what are we” talk. After 2 months, he asked me to be his girlfriend and said I love you. He sent flowers at work for Valentine’s Day. The week after that, he broke up with me for the reason of “I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship”.

Pardon the expletive, but WTF??! I felt like the rug was pulled from under me. He was the one who pursued me, acted like a consistent boyfriend, then seemingly out of nowhere, not ready.

I’m starting to think I’m too laid-back or maybe too independent or too laissez-faire for guys to consider girlfriend material. I don’t sleep around until I’m in a committed relationship. I’m not a doormat by any means but I’m starting to feel like something’s wrong with me.

I really need an objective “tough love” answer right now because all my friends in our friend group are either “he’s a jerk, cut him out of your life” or “he’s just confused, he needs you”. I do miss the friendship because he was one of my closest friends. And even after all this, I still care about the guy.

Gemma

I feel for you, my friend, and, like most of our readers, have walked a few miles in your shoes. Which is why I can say, definitively, that both you and your friends are making this way more complicated than it has to be.

Both you and your friends are making this way more complicated than it has to be.

Short version:

You find this whole scenario inexplicable because at one time, he acted one way, and then later, he acted ANOTHER way! I wasn’t planning on going the tough love approach, but here goes:

Your relationship is no different than any relationship in history.

I understand the WTF. I understand the confusion. I understand why you’ve got whiplash from how he changed his tune from one moment to the next. What I don’t understand is why you think this is your fault. What I don’t understand is why your friends give you a DOUBLE dose of bad advice in either telling you he’s a jerk (he’s not) or that he needs you (he does not.)

One of the most predictable things we can say about people is that they are wildly inconsistent and, often, either don’t know what they want or do things that run counter to their actual goals.

Read any one of the hundreds of letters I get from women who are currently dating selfish, abusive, non-committal assholes for five years and you’ll see the same thing.

There’s what we want.

There’s what’s good for us.

There’s what we do.

There’s what we want.
There’s what’s good for us.
There’s what we do.

Those are, very often, three completely different things. So instead of beating yourself up with this false (and disempowering) narrative that you’re too nice or cool to be a girlfriend, let’s just agree on a more objective reality.

Occam’s Razor is the problem-solving principle that, when presented with competing hypothetical answers to a problem, one should select the one that makes the fewest assumptions.

Your assumption: “I’m a great catch; men must not want great catches!” is absurd. Men really do like laid-back and independent women.

Your friends’ assumption: “He broke up with you; he must be a jerk” is also silly. People break up every day; that isn’t a black mark on his character, no more than you should be judged for breaking up with any man you’ve dated in the past. If you know you’re not going to marry someone, or you’re not emotionally available for a relationship, breaking up is actually the KIND thing to do.

Your friends’ other assumption: “He’s confused, he needs you,” at least contains a half-truth: he IS, in fact, confused. But he certainly doesn’t need you, otherwise he wouldn’t have cast you aside. Furthermore, he has lived a full life without you for most of the time he’s known you, so the idea that he shouldn’t be able to live without you after two months is another assumption that isn’t helping matters at all.

Let’s just look at the facts:

He liked you. He escalated things. When things got serious, he concluded, for better or worse, “I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship.”

Stop beating yourself up. Stop wondering why. Stop leaving space for him to come back.

Stop beating yourself up. Stop wondering why. Stop leaving space for him to come back.

Click here to learn why men disappear and free yourself of this self-imposed torture.

You deserve a guy who DOES want to be with you. Period.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    SparklingEmerald

    General Comment on telling someone WHY you are breaking up with them . . .    As Jeremy often says, people don’t know what their goals are for getting into a relationship (they haven’t analyzed their goals, their meta-goals, etc) then I think it stands to reason that people often don’t understand WHY they are breaking up with someone.       As far as going into a litany of the other person’s faults (we are all human, we ALL have faults) I think the “It’s not you, it’s me approach is better”, because one might think giving the WHY will be useful, but as Jeremy points out, when people don’t know the why “they make shit up”.    For a once or twice meet up/date, no sex, no promise of a relationship, I don’t think ANY explanation is required, and just disappearing at that phase, actually doesn’t phase me.   If I am pressed for a reason at that point I just say “We aren’t a match”, because while I definitely know that I am NOT attracted to someone, I have no idea WHY I am not attracted.    As for “making shit” up, I had a “boyfriend” abruptly break up with me after about 6 weeks, and he gave me some bullshit reasons including that he “didn’t like my decor, and that might cause problems down the road”.   Later, I found out that he had gotten back together with his ex-wife, and yes, they were divorced, not separated.   (at least that what he told me, and that’s what his match.com profile said)     So much for “honesty”.   Any way, I sure am glad that I didn’t run out and re-decorate my house based on his “honest” feed back.  

    1. 21.1
      Clare

      Sparkling Emerald,

      I would agree that when a person gives a very arbitrary reason like “I didn’t like your decor,” or another reason that has very much to do with one’s personal taste (such as “I don’t like blondes”), then I agree that the reason makes very little or no difference. If I received a reason like that, or any reason that indicated we just weren’t compatible, I would file it away under “experience” and move on without giving it too much thought.

      The same goes for reasons which you can do nothing about, such as, the person got back together with their ex, or the person moved to a different city or country because of work. In these cases, there is little to nothing to be learned.

      The reasons I am saying would be good to know about are reasons related to what kind of a partner you are in general. If the person says, “I’m breaking up with you because you are too controlling/insecure/jealous, etc.” this is the kind of feedback that can benefit you in  any  relationship, because this is the kind of behaviour that will poison  any  relationship. My previous point was that, if enough people give you this kind of feedback, it might give you a pause and make you stop and think that maybe you should work on that behaviour. This is certainly something I have seen in my own life and that of people I have known.

      I find it helpful to divide behaviour and characteristics into two categories when it comes to relationships: there are those behaviours and characteristics which some people will like and some won’t. These are more a matter of taste and compatibility. Some examples are introversion versus extroversion, or being sporty versus not being sporty.

      Then there are behaviours and characteristics which benefit pretty much every relationship and without which it is nearly impossible to have a good, happy relationship. Some examples of these include being a good communicator, being respectful and considerate, being secure and trusting.

      The first category, as I said, are very much a matter of taste and preference. Some will like these aspects, and some won’t. Nothing to be done about this, really.

      The second category are behaviours it would behoove anyone to develop, because they will ensure the maximum chance of relationship success. If a person is consistently falling down in one of these areas, this is something he or she might want to know about and work on.

      1. 21.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        I dunno about that ” something he or she might want to know about and work on.”Due to my age, I really think you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.   My re-bound relationship after my divorce was to a very sexy foreigner.   He was very interested in a real relationship with me, I was VERY attracted to him (perhaps to much so) but he was very flaky, and unreliable.   “I’ll be over at 10:30am”   meant he would call me at 11:15am to tell me he was running a bit late, but is now on his way and should be there in about 15 minutes.   Then at noon another phone call saying he saw a furniture store on the way to my house (true story) and decided to stop and look at couches, but it’s just up the street from me, and he will be there soon.   To showing up 30 minutes after that (when the store was really only 10 minutes away, with a bouquet of flowers and a big smile.   And him not understanding why I am peeved that it is now 2PM, our dinner guests are due at 4PM, and he said he would be over at 10:30 to help with the lawn.   (I was knee deep cooking a complex dinner, and deep cleaning the front room and dining room).   His response “Stop complaining, that was then, I am here NOW”.This was his TYPICAL behavior, he came and went which ever way the wind blew, frequently “re-scheduled” showed up late, would stop on the way to our outings, for whatever shiny thing was right in front of him.   He was like this with EVERYONE, not just me, according to his friends.   It was kind of a joke amoungst his friends, that he would show up or not “whenever”.I really put up with it much longer that I typically would because 1.)   I believed it might really be a cultural thing, in some cultures the concept of showing up “on time” is non-existant and 2.)   I was OVERLY attracted to him and put up with more BS that I would with someone I was attracted to, but could keep my feet on the ground.We argued about his flaky ways CONSTANTLY, and we broke up several times, and I told him the EXACT reason why.   He would blow up my phone, e-mail and text begging me to re-consider, promised to change, etc.   Twice, I foolishly gave him another chance, and despite his promises to change, he didn’t, and he thought I was being the unreasonable one.   He basically stalked me for 2 years trying to get me back, going back and forth between promising to change, and then trying to convince me that his flakiness and unreliability was no big deal and I should accept him.   The last time we got back together he stalked my on meet up.   He showed up at an event.   We slow danced together and I caved in again.   (that damn crazy physical attraction thing AGAIN) He swore he learned his lesson, but flaked out on our next scheduled date with a flimsy excuse.   That was the last time I took him back, and my text to him told him why.   He blew up my phone with text messages for another 6 months, saying he was sorry, promising to change.   I ignored them all.   The texts tapered off to about once every 6 months after that.   I ignored them.I honestly think it was IMPOSSIBLE for him to change.   However, I don’t think it’s IMPOSSIBLE for him to find someone, perhaps another flake, who will accept this characteristic.   I am perhaps to anal about punctuality and reliability, and he has no concept of keeping an appointment.   (I honestly don’t know how he held a job)

        1. S.

          Wow. Is there a handbook for this behavior? I haven’t experienced it for as long as you have because the behavior itself lessens the attraction for me. Well, eventually. 🙂

          But your story is a cautionary tale. I have a flake trying to get a date with me next week.   Nope!   I deleted that message.   I think the occasional give-ins or yes’s just whet their appetite and keep them trying. Only way is just to give them no response at all.     If only they spent the energy trying to get back in good graces, actually treating you well and showing up for you in the first place!

          Flakes generally stay flakes.   They aren’t bad people, just really disorganized and not willing to change that. And it’s a really difficult to change if your brain and upbringing didn’t quite lend itself to that.

          Wow, two flaky people dating? How would they ever get anything done? One would show up at 2:00 and the other at 4:00. For a noon date.

          I’m teasing. 😉 I guess the point is, they wouldn’t care and would find each other eventually.   Such a thing would slowly drive people like you and I mad.

        2. SparklingEmerald

          “Flakes generally stay flakes.   They aren’t bad people, just really disorganized and not willing to change that. And it’s a really difficult to change if your brain and upbringing didn’t quite lend itself to that.”         I really do think you are spot on about that.   No, they aren’t bad people, but definitely not a match for   me.  

          And I think flakiness is rampant.   I have many friendships that have dissolved due to extreme flakiness.   At first I thought “Well, I can take a hint, this woman obviously doesn’t want a friendship with me”, but then a chance meeting with mutual friends would result in her acting all butt-hurt and asking me   “Why don’t you call me anymore ?   Why didn’t you invite me to X.   Why did you and so and so go to such and such and not include me ?”         Right now, my circle of friends are people who show up !   Big hint – – if you have a flaky friend, don’t invite them to your pot luck and let them bring the paper plates or plastic ware.   You and your guests will end up eating with your hands   :).   Let them bring a dessert to your afternoon picnic, which will end up being a midnight snack, or breakfast anyway 🙂      

          Wow, two flaky people dating? How would they ever get anything done? One would show up at 2:00 and the other at 4:00. For a noon date.  LOL.   I’ve thought about that also.   Their relationship would consist of chance encounters.  One early tell tale sign that I’ve noticed for detecting flakiness is someone who describes themselves as “spontaneous” or “free spirited”.   Usually if I see those words in an online profile, I proceed with caution.   And if we set a 9AM “phone date”, and I get an 11:30AM text saying “My bike ran a bit long, may I call you when I get home ?”, then they get a brief, “Not available the rest of the day” and then ignore them after that.      

        3. S.

            The weird thing is that flaky people have emotions.   They could genuinely care about you.   But their lives don’t lend themselves to consistently showing up.   And if you, like me, need to see consistency to denote caring, they can not do that.  I am surprised that they don’t understand about consistency, how important that is. Maybe because they have such difficulty with it?   I have two friends with ADHD.   It is really, really hard for and they try very hard. I don’t see them often.   It’s also difficult for me since if we do ever plan anything I don’t actually believe it’s going to happen until it’s over.   That takes a toll.   These two are my quota of folks like this.   Everyone else in my life has to show up, especially a life partner.  

      2. 21.1.2
        Selenaa

        Clare:  The reasons I am saying would be good to know about are reasons related to what kind of a partner you are  in  general. If the person says, “I’m breaking up with you because you are too controlling/insecure/jealous, etc.” this is the kind of feedback that can benefit you in  any  relationship, because this is the kind of behaviour that will poison  any  relationship.  

        I dated a man for a short time who demonstrated a jealous incident that I called him on at the time. He was also quite insecure for reasons he disclosed to me and he knew it. There were other behaviors during the time we dated that I found annoying though they were benign.   When I broke it off after 5 weeks I didn’t feel the need to *school* him on what  I  perceived as his flaws. Why pour salt in a wound?

        Some of the comments on this thread, not just yours Clare, strike me as people want to tell the person they dated short term what they don’t like about them, not to  help  that person, but to justify why they don’t want to continue dating them. As in, “See,  I’m  not the bad guy here, don’t get mad at me. It’s you, not me!”

        From Mrs. Happy:

        I don’t tell complete strangers they are ugly.   I don’t tell acquaintances they are boring.   So why on earth would we expect anyone to suddenly tell us hurtful truths at the time of a break up?   It doesn’t happen, and all the ‘but it would help the other person improve themselves’ theories don’t matter, and possibly aren’t correct anyway.

        I see *constructive criticism* as a matter of knowing your audience. A good friend might appreciate it. A partner might need to hear it. To a person you haven’t known very long or very well? Maybe not. Especially if it might be more about you than it is about them.

         

         

        1. Clare

          Selena,

          I really I think I can just agree to disagree with you, and Sparkling Emerald and Mrs. Happy and the rest of them.

          If you personally feel there is nothing to be gained from offering reasons/constructive criticism to the person you are breaking up with, then by all means, don’t. For all I know, this approach has worked perfectly well for you and has avoided awkward moments which you were keen to avoid. If this is how you want to approach human relationships, then clearly, that is your prerogative.

          I am simply saying that I have,  first hand and with my own eyes, seen the benefit of sometimes telling someone an uncomfortable truth. As I’ve mentioned numerous times now, if I am the one walking away, I really don’t have anything to lose. I don’t do it to assuage my guilt, I do it because I know that it can sometimes benefit people. What they choose to do with the information is none of my concern.

        2. Nissa

          I’m still with Clare on this one. If you like the other person enough to swap fluids with them, like them enough to not tell lies.

  2. 22
    Theodora

    These comments made me think a little bit about dealbreakers and red flags.

    We often accuse the opposite gender of being shallow for choosing their mates based on looks, chemistry (i.e. charm), sexy come-hither qualities or skills in bed. Shallow and childish, we say.

    But really, is it an improvement if they choose their mates solely based on moral and intellectual qualities? Would it be an improvement or the bar will be set even higher than it is?

    Let’s suppose a man tells me he left me because I’m not hot enough. Sure, it’s demoralizing, but at least I know what I can practically improve. I can improve my beauty regimen, hit the gym, in extremis I can use plastic surgery. Sure, I will never look as hot as Adriana Lima in her prime, but if I waste all my time, money and energy over looking good, in a few years probably I will see some tangible results.

    Would it be better if he told me “I don’t like your character, you are not kind enough, you are rude to the staff in the restaurant?”. Unlike your physical exterior, which you can tangibly improve by taking tangible steps every single day, improving your character (forever, not just for a few dates, because the real you will surface at some point) takes a tremendous effort, to the point of a radical, revolutionary transformation of your self. It might take years and decades of introspection to achieve the point of not seeing the people doing minimum-wage, menial jobs as beneath yourself, as an internal conviction, not as an external show. IME, I know some entitled, arrogant, born-with-a-silverspoon-in-their-mouth people that will never ever make that step.

    Equally, would it be better if someone told you are hot enough, but not intellectual or cultured enough for their taste? These days, when I read on gossip sites about the possible relationship between Brad Pitt and Neri Oxman, I remembered the “hotter than Angelina Jolie” thread. I realized that I would never be jealous of a a man telling me that Angelina is hotter than me, but I would definitely be jealous of my man being attracted to an exceptionally gifted women, intellectually speaking, like Neri Oxman.

  3. 23
    Marika

    I’m getting the sense that Clare, ScottH and some others are the types of people who genuinely want to know the real reasons as to why someone is breaking up with them. Fair enough. But IMO they are the minority. I think for most of us, it’s a bit like that Seinfeld episode where George tells the pretentious woman she’s pretentious (because she “really wants to know”) and she ends up in a mental health facility. Then Elaine asks George “how would you like to be told the truth?” and he freaks out! I think most of us don’t actually want to know the absolute truth, even if we say we do at the time. As the real truth can be painful and not always that helpful (it’s just the other person’s opinion/preference – the next man may have had no issue with Jeremy’s date’s attitude to waiters, for example).

    I’m going through a situation where a guy is sending mixed messages, his actions don’t seem to align with his stated values (and I suspect he is not entirely trustworthy). I try to remember, like I would encourage anyone else to, the wise words of a long time commenter (who’s name has escaped me atm, but I’ll credit him when I remember it!!) who made the point that whenever someone treated him badly/unfairly/inconsistently in dating he didn’t take it personally. Hard to do, but logically it makes sense. If someone is wishy-washy with you, it’s their issue/choice, not yours. It could be your issue in the sense that you may have done something that turned them off, but the way that handle the situation is on them. No point worrying about it endlessly or trying to morph yourself into what they want or pining over someone who doesn’t want you as you are. I’ve met people who are pretty incredibly nasty, narcissistic and, to me, highly objectionable who are in relationships. You don’t have to be a perfect, amazing person to be loved for who you are, so you don’t need to take break ups so personally, even if the person left you for legitimate reasons. Pretty extreme example, but my point is there’s always someone out there who will be right for you 🙂

    1. 23.1
      Emily, the original

      Marika,

      There’s a happy medium between lacerating someone and giving them a flim flam excuse. Everyone who is on the “I don’t want to know the truth” side of this argument is looking at this in a very black-and-white, all-or-nothing way. Years ago, I hooked up with a friend for about a month. He ended it and then reappeared in my life about a year later to tell me he had feelings for me. I sent him a pages-long letter telling him how I felt, and after reading the letter, despite its length, I don’t think he understood what I was trying to tell him. I should have been honest with him, but I didn’t have the guts. I was trying not to hurt his feelings but also taking the easy way out. All I needed to say was, “I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that way about you. I’d like us to stay friends.” By being “nice,” (flim flammy) I ended up confusing him. All it would have taken was a short phone call on my part.

    2. 23.2
      Nissa

      Marika, you make a good point that the degree of information provided should correlate to the length or intensity of the relationship. However, people see those things very differently.  For example, if a man  introduced me to meet his family, but we only dated two months, which criteria do we use for the breakup information? He might justify not telling me ‘because we only dated two months’. I might  have  misjudged his intensity because of that introduction,  and this  expected a higher level of information.It keeps boiling down to, let’s not assume we know  what other people want or need or mean. Let’s go by what people actually say, and if we don’t understand, ask questions. If they say they want to know,  let’s trust that they actually want to know. If they accept your generic reason of “I  think you are a nice person but  I want to explore other  options”, that’s fine too. Most  of us give the ‘real’ reason in couched terms, and that’s fine too, but I think most people would prefer other people not lie to them. If you can’t live  with flaky behavior, pets,  his phone calls to his ex  girlfriend,  his stinky feet or  his love of ESPN, he’s not going to curl  up and  die over it.  We  are dating other adults, not timid  children. Don’t they deserve to be treated like adults who can weather the truth?  

    3. 23.3
      ScottH

      All I was trying to say was that if you get to a point where a relationship has taken root, you’ve exchanged “I love you,” you’ve talked about the future, you’ve made it clear that you both care very much for each other, well, then you have the power to very much hurt the other person since they have made themselves vulnerable to you with their heart.   You now have a huge responsibility to be careful with their heart and if you do decide to break up, for whatever reason, you should live up to that responsibility and handle their heart with care during the breakup talk.

      This is exactly what happened with Gemma.   Her ex told her that he loved her and then went poof.   He should have sat down with her and had the painful discussion where he told her that he really liked her and wanted to be ready for a relationship but he just isn’t and he’s really sorry.   This gives her some closure that we all seem to need.   But don’t just fucking disappear or break up via text message (happened to me once and it sucks).   That’s really hurtful.

      It’s not like Liar Liar and you have to tell the unadulterated truth.   I was never saying that.   Have some tact and diplomacy.   If you didn’t like the size of his penis, say something vague like you just weren’t feeling it (which I guess would be true) and you didn’t seem to be a match.   You don’t need to tell him that he was too small for your liking.   He might find someone who does like his small unit.   But help him through it.   You once cared for him/her, and might still, right?

      When you have a strong connection, you have the ability to inflict a lot of pain on the other person.   Be responsible with that power.   But someone who freaks out and runs like Gemma’s ex probably doesn’t have the wherewithal to be responsible with his/her power and leaves Gemma stunned.   That’s not fun.

      1. 23.3.1
        Emily, the original

        Scott H,

        You now have a huge responsibility to be careful with their heart and if you do decide to break up, for whatever reason, you should live up to that responsibility and handle their heart with care during the breakup talk.

        I agree, and how someone leaves a situation really says a lot about who they are.

    4. 23.4
      S.

      Great response, Marika. 🙂

      I’m in the minority, I know.   In many ways, usually. I’m good with that.   I like to hear the truth because I grew up hearing it.   Yes, it hurts sometimes.   And not everyone is concerned with how they tell you, either.

      The only way I make breakups personal is when I think I should have chosen better.   But sometimes that person was the best for me at that time.   And then times change.

      I agree that there is someone (maybe a few someones) out there for everyone.   Somewhere.   Can take a long time to find, though.

      Heck, I’ve had breakups where we weren’t even officially going out. If they ask a reason, I give it as kindly as possible.   It’s usually something I’ve said to them several times before but they probably didn’t think I’d break up with them over it.   I usually break up with a guy when he doesn’t make me feel valued and that lack of feeling valued is or has already destroyed my attraction to him.

      To other readers, I’d say, don’t take not being valued personally, but don’t really take that from someone you’re dating at all.

    5. 23.5
      Adrian

      Hi Marika,  You said, “I’m going through a situation where a guy is sending mixed messages, his actions don’t seem to align with his stated values”  Could you give an example of this? I only ask because I was once accused of something similar from a girl and I had to think long and hard about it (I pride myself on my integrity and being consistency the same person privately as I am publicly). After a lot of thought I realized what the problem was… though I am curious to hear your thoughts before I give my opinion on why I seemed this way to her.

      1. 23.5.1
        Marika

        Hi Adrian

        Or should I say, g’day 😉

        It’s funny, before I read your message in its entirety I was going to say “don’t worry, it will never apply to you”. Haha. Okay, so maybe women just say it when they are hurt and lashing out. But in online dating in general I’ve noticed that people claim all sorts of things they want to be but aren’t. Sometimes they are the exact opposite.

        Maybe women do it too, but the more they go on and on about something, I’ve noticed they likely aren’t that thing. This guy claimed to be highly empathetic – he didn’t want to talk on the train unless it disturbed people, etc, but I often felt he wasn’t attuned to my feelings or those of his (wonderful) friends. I DK..some things just didn’t ring true. I have a pretty good BS meter and it went off when I heard some story or proclamation I didn’t quite believe or seemed like he was overstating. Like his parents being his heroes…but they left the country and for him to fend for himself at 18. Really??

        Maybe that was my stuff though…as he made the point that I accused several other people in my life of also doing the same thing. And, begrudgingly, he has a point.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Marika,[it’s not spacing so I am not sure how this comment will look when I post it]  Your  guy seems like a liar but my situation was different. Basically it was a mixture of her projecting my having values to mean that I was an angel and not a human with  natural male  desires and that because I had morals, integrity, and family values that I should desire a relationship with her because she also had those things.  –Sorry it’s so short but I DON’T want it to turn out to be one long paragraph–

        2. Adrian

          G’day Marika (^_^)…Jeremy once called you an idealist when it comes to relationships  but I don’t agree; I am currently talking to someone that is a pure idealist when it comes to relationships and sometimes their fantasy ideals about how relationships should be is very draining.However, with you I believe that if you consider the guy’s character to be inconsistent then I bet he is truly inconsistent and untrustworthy… Listen to your instincts… Is he doing it to impress you or is he doing it because he is a habitual liar?

        3. Jeremy

          Adrian, you and I are talking about different types of idealists.   When I use the term to refer to a personality type (or rather, a world-view and set of motivations), I refer to a person who tends to see the world in terms of how they internally believe the world “should” be.   A person oriented to the abstract, and to their own internal feelings and values.   But what are those feelings and values, how do they think the world “should” be?   Depends on the person.   Some idealist-type people have very realistic sets of values, others less so.   My mother believes the world is ready for a revival of Yiddish theatre, and that she will be the one to revive it in spite of any evidence to the contrary.   Some commenters on this site (particularly on Evan’s post about the MeToo movement) believe that all men “should” experience sex for love, and have the same values system as they do.   Not realistic.   Dysfunctional.   Setting them up for misery and frustration.   The problem isn’t with being an idealist, it’s with dysfunctional idealism – idealism without any realism to anchor it.   I get the sense you might know what I’m talking about, given your experience with the woman you describe.   It is one thing to hope for a man with the same set of values as she has.   It’s quite another to believe that you “should” have those values, and that if you don’t then there’s something wrong with you.

           

          In the case of the man Marika is discussing, it sounds like (and I could be wrong) one of two problems.   Either he simply has a different set of values than she does (leading to a difference in perspective of whether or not he is ethical, whether or not his parents are heroes, etc), or he simply has conflict between who he thinks he “should” be versus who he actually is.   This is common.   I love my grandmother – she is almost 102 and lives about a 5 minute drive from me, but I hardly ever see her.   I always tell myself that I’m going to go, and almost never do.   So who am I?   Am I the person I believe myself to be, the grandson who loves his grandmother, or am I the person who ignores his elderly grandmother by hardly ever visiting her?   I am both.   But as far as anyone other than myself is concerned, I’m the latter.   Because they are not privy to my internal thoughts, only to my actions.   There is conflict between my internal feelings and my sense of values.   The person I am and the person I believe I should be.

           

          Some people get so wrapped up in the person they should be that they are totally unable to see the person that they are.

  4. 24
    Marika

    Jeremy & Mrs Happy

    With respect, Mrs Happy and not to speak for Jeremy, but I think you are telling him how to suck eggs with your statement about girlfriends. He’s a smart guy, I’m pretty sure he knows all those maaaany things you listed are not possible on a day to day basis in a marriage. I’m very sure he doesn’t expect his wife to come to bed each night in fancy lingerie, for instance.

    I completely understand what he means. He’s saying as a woman if you change, you can’t expect that the husband/dynamics of the relationship won’t change too. Some women expect their men to be doting, chivalrous husbands until death while they don’t act in ways that inspire them to be like that. For instance, a couple I know on the weekend – I obviously don’t know the ins and outs of their marriage – but I do know that the husband is kind, committed, works full time, also helps out with the kids, and this past weekend drove around 70 kms to IKEA as his wife wanted to buy furniture. Did she show gratitude for this – no. She complained (in front of him) about how he used to ‘woo’ her and doesn’t ‘woo’ her anymore. Also bemoaned that unlike other husbands she knows, he doesn’t enjoy shopping. So she expects him to act like a boyfriend, while very clearly treating him like a wife. I was thinking: this poor guy has to drive to the ends of the earth to buy a couple of items of furniture they could easily afford to buy closer to home. Poor guy!

    I’m not sure Jeremy’s advice is really aimed at you, Mrs Happy. You seem like you chose well and you also seem to have a realistic view of marriage. You’ve even said that you’d be able to get past cheating for the good of the relationship and kids (if it came to that). I think Jeremy is trying to help out those of us still looking for marriage, who’ve chosen badly in the past, and also those of us who are very introspective and are searching for the ‘whys’. Also people who want a really amazing relationship and have high expectations. People like me 🙂

    1. 24.1
      Jeremy

      Yes Marika, as usual you get it.   Welcome back, btw.   Your perspective was missed.   Sorry to hear that your BF is acting inconsistently.   I wrote you a long response to your comment from yesterday and then deleted it.   You already know what I would have said 🙂

    2. 24.2
      Nissa

      There are men that  enjoy shopping? I’ve never dated one. Heck, I don’t even like shopping,  except for Ikea, and I have to do that one alone, so no one bugs me to  stop wandering around looking at stuff. I don’t buy much…I just like to  look. It’s  like a  museum of decorating that lets you  buy the artifacts.I  do think that men  in general equate sex with intimacy. Not because I think that there is a lack of intimacy in their relationships – quite the opposite – but that it is subtle, and  that a lot of men are oblivious to the subtle. For example, a wife might give love to her husband by buying the foods that he likes and always having some in the cupboard, just  in case he wants  some. She might express intimacy by telling him her  secrets or fantasies,  thanking him for doing a task for her, by picking out clothes for  him (say, if he’s colorblind & wants help) or just being present with him at home.  She might nurture him by covering him with the blanket when she gets out of bed first, or turning off her alarm quickly so he doesn’t get disturbed if he doesn’t need to get up.All of these things are a wonderful part of a loving relationship. Love, intimacy, nurturing. Acceptance,  validation.   Can those be packaged with sex too? Of course! But if a person is not recognizing those behaviors as intimacy, as love, as nurturing – and only sees those things in sex – they would be much more likely to feel deprived without sex, because that is the “only” source of those things.Similarly, if a woman insists that her husband is not  loving unless he does specific behaviors in a very defined way, is likely missing out on the very thing she wants by not seeing what is hidden in plain sight.

  5. 25
    Jeremy

    I get your concern, Emily.   I wanted to address it.   You wrote above that you wanted to see the perspective of happily married people, and you listed some of the married commenters on this website.   People who are married and have not reported serious conflict with their spouses.   I think that feedback from such people is valuable…..but I think that feedback from people who have had conflict and overcome it – people who NOW have loving and great relationships but perhaps once did not – is perhaps even more valuable in some ways.   I married a very special woman, a woman with so many excellent qualities.   But I did not marry a unicorn.   Nor did my wife.   My relationship advice is directed toward people married to humans.

     

    For the past number of years, I have enjoyed a very happy married life.   I look forward to going home each day, to the love in my home.   I don’t worry about power, don’t worry about sex, don’t worry about love, don’t worry about happiness.   I have all those things in abundance.   Now.   Because when conflict arose, I learned how to resolve it, and because I chose a partner with whom it could be resolved (armed with the right knowledge). I try to convey that knowledge to offer hope that things need not end badly, and that one need not fear investing too much of one’s self into a relationship…..as long as that relationship is approached intelligently.

     

    You don’t like relying on other people.   Neither do I.   I was born anxious, but raised avoidant.   I understand avoidant tendencies very well.   I was raised to give help, not to receive it.   That receiving help makes me weak, worthless.   That notion was toxic.   Love is less in the giving than in allowing ourselves to receive.   Because when we let others give to us, it cultivates their love for us and allows us to experience love without the need for power.   It allows us to grow.   It opens us up to some risk, yes.   So approach it intelligently.

    1. 25.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      Love is less in the giving than in allowing ourselves to receive.   Because when we let others give to us, it cultivates their love for us and allows us to experience love without the need for power.   It allows us to grow.   It opens us up to some risk, yes.   So approach it intelligently.

      Well, I have found over and over again (and I mean “love” in the general sense with family, friends and romantic relationships) that people disappoint me. I have never been able to rely on my family, what little I have, and friends … well, real friends are few and far between. Most end up (even if I think differently at some point) becoming friendly acquaintances, and people don’t value real friendship (and don’t have time for it) once they marry and have children. So it’s me. I’m expecting too much, obviously. Better to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised.

      1. 25.1.1
        Jeremy

        No.

         

        I grew up unable to count on my parents for much of anything in terms of emotional needs.   I always found it better not to rely on anyone.   In high school, when I was assigned a group project, I would do it all myself to avoid having to rely on others, whose work would probably be less through than mine.   Most of my friends from high school drifted off, and I could not rely on them for anything.   I cultivated your attitude – better to expect nothing and be pleasantly surprised.   That attitude led me to unhappiness.   It led me to seek solace from books and movies rather than real life, and the more I withdrew, the less likely I found it that I would be pleasantly surprised by people.   My grandfather was a hermit who lived his entire 97 years that way.

         

        My life started improving when I tried the George Costanza method of doing the opposite of what I’d normally do.   Developed friendships, relationships.   Some disappointed me (badly).   But they paved the way for something better.   It does not hurt to hope and try.   But it requires us to overcome the avoidance we learned as children.   That is difficult.   It was for me.   Still is.   But worth it.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          My life started improving when I tried the George Costanza method of doing the opposite of what I’d normally do.   Developed friendships, relationships.   Some disappointed me (badly).   But they paved the way for something better.   It does not hurt to hope and try.   But it requires us to overcome the avoidance we learned as children.   That is difficult.   It was for me.   Still is.   But worth it.

          I did recently try to cultivate friends (like you, family was never an option for anything involving emotional support; in fact, going to them for anything made me feel worse). I thought I had landed the mother lode. A group of female friends. “Don’t worry. You’ll never be alone.” Well, where are they now? I moved recently, and you know who offered to help? Men. Not the men I was hoping for (two of the most socially awkward men I know and a married one), but maybe my energies should go to … your people. 🙂     Isn’t that what most people value? Not one female friend even offered to help me pack up boxes for an hour. They drifted away and I let them. I don’t have the energy to chase people down.

      2. 25.1.2
        Marika

        Oh Emily, I so want to give you a hug right now. I can guarantee from what I know of you already and if you opened up to me with that level of vulnerability, we’d be fast friends for sure! (if we lived anywhere near each other). I’m surprised people aren’t responding to you more positively in general and it’s their loss – but helping with moving house is not, IMO, a good litmus test. Everyone hates moving. I have a very supportive family & bunch of friends but the only ones I would even ask are my parents (and I bribed my brother in law with the promise of buying him lunch) for help.

        I’m so sorry you and Jeremy had shitty childhoods. Mine was far from perfect but I always had a general sense of being loved, and certainly supported/protected. I am grateful for my family and friends. Still haven’t cracked the guy code though, yet. But I do accept that with any relationship, opening up involves risk and the (strong) possibility of being hurt. It’s just the way it is. My heart was pulled through the wringer this week and the only thing that got me through it was being vulnerable. I had a friend hunting me down to talk to me, another texting me several times to make sure I was okay, and the guy himself ended up making me feel better once I was openly and heartfeltedly (is that a word) vulnerable about how bad I was feeling. I used to think it was a sign of weakness to show that you’re struggling, but it’s not, and it warms people to you as they can relate and you feel real to them. And if you’re not being honest about your feelings you either end up walking around with a hard shell that pushes people away or some other BS coping mechanism.

        1. Emily, the original

          Marika,

          we’d be fast friends for sure! (if we lived anywhere near each other). I’m surprised people aren’t responding to you more positively in general and it’s their loss

          That’s very sweet. Thank you. I know people like me and think I’m funny. I just exist on the periphery.

          — but helping with moving house is not, IMO, a good litmus test. Everyone  hates  moving.

          I guess. I certainly didn’t expect them to move large pieces of furniture. But it wasn’t so much not offering to help as it was just not being particularly supportive.

          Still haven’t cracked the guy code though, yet.

          Ah, men. The final frontier … 🙂

          My heart was pulled through the wringer this week and the only thing that got me through it was being vulnerable. I had a friend hunting me down to talk to me, another texting me several times to make sure I was okay,  

          I’m sorry to hear that. It’s good you had you had some support.

        2. Adrian

          Hi Emily,Marika said, “Oh Emily, I so want to give you a hug right now.”Yeah add me to that list….     …     …As far as the friendship conversation; I am wondering if it is like SparklingEmerald said, are they just flakey people  or if it is just that people say nice, sweet things like your group’s  “Don’t worry. You’ll never be alone”  because they want to be seen as  kind-even if they aren’t sincere?I just recently  ran into  a group of my old co-workers at a conference and they all were going on and on about how much they missed me and how  we NEED to get together  so I  just smiled and said sure, sure… but the  whole time I  was thinking “for months none of you made an effort to contact me unless I called first and when I did text, you would text back a day later.”  I think  people’s attitudes about friendships are  like their attitudes with relationships; people go on and on bemoaning about how they want a  boyfriend or girlfriend but don’t see their own lack of effort in getting one. People want the great friendships (just look at our tv shows, movies, and songs) but they don’t want to consider that they themselves need to learn what being a good friend means.

        3. Jeremy

          You know, I wrote and erased about 5 different replies here, trying to offer some wisdom or insight on the matter of friendship.   But I erased them all because they all rang hollow.   Making friends is hard for some of us.   And it gets harder when we are no longer in school or in a work environment surrounded by people with similar lifestyles.   There should be an online friends site, similar to online dating site.   It would be hilarious to see the difference between one individual’s dating profile vs their friendship profile.   Certainly less talk of walks along beaches and travelling, and hopefully fewer dick pics.

           

          Sorry to hear about your friendships fizzling.   I know how that feels too.   The feeling of disappointment and loneliness, the resignation that you were right all along that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself, though you hoped otherwise.   In my life, I have one good friend who I can rely on.   And I only met him recently – my friendship with him made me realize that I never really had a close friend before.   I remember after I had a minor surgery, he showed up at my house with a mountain of food and videos and I thought – no one other than family has ever done something like this for me before.   I had always been the one to give in order to get friendship, and now I was receiving without needing to ask.   Rare.

           

          All I can say is don’t lose hope – not for the friendship thing nor for the relationship thing.   It’s good to be able to rely on ourselves in a pinch, but life is better when others want to give to us.   Evan once wrote a post called (something like) “Want the man who wants you.”   I think this is good advice, both for friendship and love.

        4. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          I just recently  ran into  a group of my old co-workers at a conference and they all were going on and on about how much they missed me and how  we NEED to get together  so I  just smiled and said sure, sure… but the  whole time I  was thinking “for months none of you made an effort to contact me unless I called first and when I did text, you would text back a day later.”

          This exact thing happened to me with my old job. Went back to visit. They were SO happy to see me … as long as I did all the work. I’ve texted a few people since and they respond but they never initiate, so I stopped. I am running out of steam with this stuff.

        5. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,  
          In my life, I have one good friend who I can rely on.   And I only met him recently — my friendship with him made me realize that I never really had a close friend before.
          Me, too. One, and she passed away. She was like a mother to me.
          Evan once wrote a post called (something like) “Want the man who wants you.”   I think this is good advice, both for friendship and love.
          I just don’t think friendship is that big of a priority for most people. It’s after the spouse, the kids, the extended family, the job, the dog … and you can’t really blame people. They have other things going on. I just don’t know how much energy I want to put into relationships that are so low priority.

          As for love … I have stopped chasing after people or nudging things along. I won’t do that anymore, but NO NO NO do I want the people who want me. Right now that consists of an autistic, severely socially awkward man who lived with his mother all his life until she passed away. He is 45. I don’t know why these types attach themselves to me. I’m really not that nice. 🙂   I guess I have to get off my middle-aged butt and meet other people. I just hate having to hunt it down like wild boar.

        6. Adrian

          Hi Emily… You said, “I just don’t think friendship is that big of a priority for most people.” I don’t believe that. I think what really happens is that most people enter into relationships and they place all that burden on their partners to be their lover and their best friends. They NEVER LEARN to be a real friend or a good friend. They go from high school friendships to their partner inheriting those responsibilities. However for us that are single and living away from friends and family it is easier for us to  notice that the majority of  adults don’t know how to be good friends or how to make friends.   I do think they want friendships but with old  high school/ college friends and their partners they don’t’ see the point in putting forth the effort of working on new friends as an adult.  

        7. S.

          @Emily

          What Adrian said.   We are putting so much burden on this one relationship when that used to be spread among friends, aunties, grandpas, cousins, neighbors, etc.   A whole community to draw on and get support from.   And this culture narrows that to just spouses and children. Society evolving to where there doesn’t seem to be enough time. Not even for that! I don’t blame the single women in the other post going it alone with having kids.   We are all juggling so many hats.

          As for liking who likes you   . . . gotta have a bigger pool of folks who like you.   And breaks are good.   I’m on one where I feel like GPS. I’m recalibrating or recalculating or whatever that lady says when she is trying to get you back on track. I’m recalibrating my picker.   And I’m improving myself so I attract different men.   That’s what I can do.   And remain open so more people see the real me. I think sometimes we shut off the real us and only feel comfortable showing it to people we think for sure can’t hurt us.   So sure, they are attracted.   And we wonder, why them? Cause we are different around them.

          Now let’s see if I can take my own advice this weekend. And I will give you some virtual hugs, Emily.   The original. 🙂   :hugs:

        8. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,  

          Evan once wrote a post called (something like) “Want the man who wants you.”  

          I was thinking more about this during a long, somewhat tedious day at work and I do take a bit of issue with this. It makes it sound like men get to pick who they want and women must just accept it.

        9. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,  

          I do think they want friendships but with old  high school/ college friends and their partners they don’t’ see the point in putting forth the effort of working on new friends as an adult.  

          Ok, but that’s kind of a variation of what I was saying. I think that, in order for someone to go out looking for friendship, there has to be space in his/her life, there has to be a need. With most middle-aged adults (and you’re still young yet, you’ll really see this once you hit your late 30s and into your 40s), they don’t have that need. I call it the circle of people in their lives. Almost like rings around them. Their circles are full. And, fwiw, I’ve had plenty of single friends make comments like “my friends are my family,” but I just don’t find that to be the case. Even if they complain about their families, their families are always the priority. Friends are people to go to dinner with.

        10. Emily, the original

          S.,
          . I think sometimes we shut off the real us and only feel comfortable showing it to people we think for sure can’t hurt us.   So sure, they are attracted.   And we wonder, why them? Cause we are different around them.
          I agree with you. I have a tendency to attract men I like but don’t see as romantic partners because I’m relaxed and myself around them. I don’t care if they like me. Now, if only I could do that around men I was interested in instead of getting that “deer in the headlights,” I’m-practically-drooling-on-myself look.
          Now let’s see if I can take my own advice this weekend. And I will give you some virtual hugs, Emily.   The original.     :hugs:
          You, too, Miss S.

        11. Adrian

          Hi Emily… You said, “I think that, in order for someone to  [work on developing a new] friendship, there has to be space in his/her life, there has to be a need. With most middle-aged adults they don’t have that need.” … Do you think people look negatively at others  who are  sincerely trying to  hangout to become  “real” friends at a certain age like people look at certain people who  are single at a certain age or who have never been married at a certain age? You know like something is wrong with them or it’s a red flag? I notice that when I tell people that I am new in town it’s accepted but what happens with people who are  a certain age, they have lived somewhere all their life and they ask to go out to get to know you?

        12. Adrian

          Hi Emily… You said, ” I do take a bit of issue with this. It makes it sound like men get to pick who they want and women must just accept it.” I am not understanding the issue with this… You can easily interchange the words men and women so that it says “men want the women who want you.”  Also remember it’s women as a whole not men as a whole who don’t like the idea of women approaching men and asking them out. I know you said you  ask men out  and no matter how many times other male commenters tell you that you are an exception you don’t believe  us (^_^). Women don’t have to choose being picked they want to, sure they feel uncomfortable always having to tell guys they aren’t attracted to “no” but they still very rarely go up to the guys they are attracted to and directly ask them out. Eye contact, walking past him, are not the same as directly asking him out; I don’t even think women smile at guys they are attracted to whom they want to approach anymore.

        13. Yet Another Guy

          @Adrian

          they still very rarely go up to the guys they are attracted to and directly ask them out. Eye contact, walking past him, are not the same as directly asking him out

          I do not know if it was here or another site, but a female commenter attempted to equate passive rejection with active rejection.   The two types of rejection are not remotely comparable.   Active rejection is part of playing the game for guys because passive rejection is the default outcome in most situations; therefore, a woman complaining about being passively rejected is almost a joke.   I am willing to bet that most of the guys any given woman accuses of passively rejecting her would accept a date if she asked, that is, after the guy finished picking himself up off of the floor. As you pointed out, men get to choose because they are required to initiate (a.k.a. pursue, plan, and pay). Furthermore, most men are only going to initiate when a woman is worth the risk of rejection, which means that men are going to attempt to optimize when asking a woman out. Women tend to optimize as well when they initiate on dating sites, so it is not just a man thing. It is an initiator thing.

        14. Adrian

          Hi Yet Another Guy… You said, “most men are only going to initiate when a woman is worth the risk of rejection” DING! DING! DING! And this is what most women DON’T understand! If a man knows that there is a  high chance of rejection then of course he is going to manly focus on above average looking women. I only say that because the moment any guy brings up all the data and research about women rejecting the majority of men (even if she is at the same or even a lower SMV level) women will quickly say but “the same data also shows that most men only contact the hottest women”… well yeah. Since there is a high chance of repeated rejection I may as well make the reward worth the risk.

        15. Adrian

          Hi Yet Another Guy… You said, “I do not know if it was here or another site, but a female commenter attempted to equate passive rejection with active rejection.”It was this site  I believe that Emily first brought this up –  “The two types of rejection are not remotely comparable.” –  I’m not sure that I  agree with this, have you ever been to a function with a lot of people who all knew each other and you were the only stranger so you were constantly ignored?  And when you tried to engage  people they  talked to you but you could sense that they really didn’t want to include you in their group? I believe this  is kind of  what  Emily is talking about; wanting to be noticed and desired but constantly receiving the subtle vibe that you aren’t attractive enough to be approached. – “Active rejection is part of playing the game for guys because passive rejection is the default outcome in most situations; therefore, a woman complaining about being passively rejected is almost a joke.  ” – I wouldn’t call it a joke, when I honestly thought about it then I can see that I as a man need to try harder to understand what women meant and why they felt this way. Again being surrounded by people who are close friends and you don’t know anyone at the party and every time you try to interact they are friendly but subtly you can feel their vibe that they don’t want you  around is rejection. It is not direct but  you are still being rejected by people you desire to accept you and want your companionship. I think this is what the women are saying it feels like to have a guy they want intentionally ignore them.  

        16. Emily, the original

          Hi Adrian,

            Do you think people look negatively at others  who are  sincerely trying to  hangout to become  “real” friends at a certain age like people look at certain people who  are single at a certain age or who have never been married at a certain age? You know like something is wrong with them or it’s a red flag?

          I don’t know if they see it as a red flag. Most people are so involved in their own lives, they probably don’t notice. I have noticed that for people who seem to be overly available (they want to amoeba themselves to you), there’s usually a reason. (cray, cray)

        17. Emily, the original

          Adrian,  

          I know you said you  ask men out  and no matter how many times other male commenters tell you that you are an exception you don’t believe  us (^_^). Women don’t have to choose being picked they want to, sure they feel uncomfortable always having to tell guys they aren’t attracted to “no” but they still very rarely go up to the guys they are attracted to and directly ask them out.  

          I’ve done it but I haven’t done it often and I have to work up to it, particularly if i’m very interested. What usually happens is I just get disgusted with myself and being shy and push through it. However, I’m of the mindset now that once a woman would do the initial approach/ask out/hand her number to the guy, that’s all she should do. What I mean is … I   won’t continue to nudge things along (I think it sets up an unhealthy dynamic of the women chasing the relationship), and, to be honest, the sex, in my (granted) limited experience, is so much hotter if the man makes the first physical move that leads to sex, though I have done that, too.

        18. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          One more thing: These were guys I watched closely to determine their response to me. I did not approach a rando who wasn’t paying the slightest attention to me.

        19. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

          You said, “most men are only going to initiate when a woman is worth the risk of rejection” DING! DING! DING! And this is what most women DON’T understand! If a man knows that there is a  high chance of rejection then of course he is going to manly focus on above average looking women.

          I read another dating site in which both men and women wrote in that they only approached people on the “B team” because people on the “A team” (people they really wanted) made them nervous.

        20. Emily, the original

          Adrian,

            “I believe this  is kind of  what  Emily is talking about; wanting to be noticed and desired but constantly receiving the subtle vibe that you aren’t attractive enough to be approached.”

          Obviously, it takes more guts to actively approach someone. No one is denying that, but I was talking about watching someone you really wanted approach other women. That really hurts, and there isn’t a woman on the planet who hasn’t experienced that. Or had some guy flirt outrageously with her, only to watch him move on to someone else. Or if you are approached, it’s not by men you are interested in. Over time, it’s demoralizing.

          “— “Active rejection is part of playing the game for guys because passive rejection is the default outcome in most situations; therefore, a woman complaining about being passively rejected is almost a joke.  ” — I wouldn’t call it a joke, when I honestly thought about it then I can see that I as a man need to try harder to understand what women meant and why they felt this way”

          Yes. But if some posters want to see it as a joke, so be it.

        21. ScottH

          “most men are only going to initiate when a woman is worth the risk of rejection,”

          Huh?   what is the risk of rejection?

          How does that saying go, “every time you don’t try, you lose”?   who cares about getting rejected?   only those with a delicate ego.   YAG. by your (our) age, do you really care about being rejected, again, especially when it’s the norm in online/mid-life dating?   Every time YOU don’t try, you’ve been rejected.   How does that feel?

           

        22. Emily, the original

          YAG,

          “You said, “most men are only going to initiate when a woman is worth the risk of rejection”  

          The times I have approached someone are varied. A few years ago I, frankly, needed the practice. So I started with someone I thought was ok and who I was fairly certain liked me. Then I worked my way up. Do not men do this? The rejection was only as acute as my interest level. I find it hard to believe that every time you’ve approached a woman, you’ve been completely besotted with her.

        23. Nissa

          This is so funny. While I don’t enjoy moving myself, I think it’s fun to help others move. You get to see what they think is important. They will often open up about old pictures, clothing or furniture. (I’ve also snagged many pieces of furniture for myself this way). You get to see if they are organized at all. It’s like a party, but better, because everyone is doing something instead of sitting around, getting drunk and arguing over things.It’s exciting too! Bringing new things into a space, making a new life, exploring options – it’s like getting to see that person in the very act of becoming who they want to be. For me, that’s so much more interesting than a party where everyone repeats what you’ve heard them say before, or empty platitudes. One just seems to have so much more meaning than the other.

    2. 25.2
      Adrian

      Hi Jeremy,You said, ” I was born anxious, but raised avoidant.”What does that mean?

      1. 25.2.1
        Jeremy

        It means that my natural temperament tends toward anxious attachments, but because I was raised without much emotional connection or calming, I learned to compensate by being avoidant to self-protect.   Things like distancing myself from emotion by over-thinking.   Developing the belief that I am better off being self-sufficient, that it is bad to rely on others for anything, to need anyone for anything, because needing anyone will result in pain and disappointment.   When you see that world-view being reinforced by the behavior of others over and over, it’s hard to overcome it.   Emily knows what I’m talking about.

        With that belief system, the hope becomes that there might be one special person out there who can be relied upon, who is different from the others.   For example, someone who was raised in a family where no one takes care of business might believe that salvation will come from a partner who takes care of business, who steps in and mans up and acts different than all others….and then sticks around.   And that belief sounds nice, but it externalizes responsibility for relationships – the onus is on the partner, not the self….in a personality that internalizes responsibility for everything else.   Dysfunctional.

        That’s what I meant.

        1. Adrian

          Thank you Jeremy. I guess what I was struggling with is when you said that your were born one way/have a “natural” temperament towards… Because I always believed that the two extremes of the attachment styles were learn from how we were raised… I just found this new  psychology book  which I found to be very interesting… Apparently a person can be anxious in romantic relationships but avoidant overall towards everyone else: friends, co-workers, etc… I just still find it hard to believe one person can possess both extremes which are complete opposites at the same time.

        2. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          It means that my natural temperament tends toward anxious attachments, but because I was raised without much emotional connection or calming …   Emily knows what I’m talking about.

          I know exactly what you are talking about, but that type of upbringing made me more avoidant, not anxious. I’m wondering why it didn’t make you more avoidant.

        3. Jeremy

          Emily, it DID make me more avoidant.   I was born with an anxious temperament, but my upbringing gave me avoidant tendencies that are not natural to me.   In a very, very weird way, they sort of balance out into what most people would observe to be a secure attachment style, but what is actually an anxious-avoidant style.   I understand anxious people and avoidant people very well, having a good sense of what it is like to be both.   I struggle with the difficulties of both.

        4. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          With that belief system, the hope becomes that there might be one special person out there who can be relied upon, who is different from the others.   For example, someone who was raised in a family where no one takes care of business might believe that salvation will come from a partner who takes care of business, who steps in and mans up and acts different than all others….and then sticks around.   And that belief sounds nice, but it externalizes responsibility for relationships — the onus is on the partner, not the self….in a personality that internalizes responsibility for everything else.   Dysfunctional.

          I don’t understand what you mean by this. Wouldn’t someone who was raised with irresponsibility and was thus avoidant become more secure if he/she found a responsible partner?

        5. Jeremy

          Emily, you asked, “wouldn’t someone raised avoidant become more secure if she found a responsible partner?”   No.   More likely she would just find reason to find fault with him over time.   She would wonder what must be wrong with him that he could love her, having spent so long searching after men whose quality depended on their outcome independence.   The dysfunction that I mentioned exists because overcoming our avoidant tendencies can not depend on finding the one magical partner.   It must come by painstakingly overcoming our own tendencies.   Wanting the man who wants you doesn’t mean wanting every awkward geek who expresses an interest in you.   Rather, it means to stop considering quality to mean how little interest he has and how independent he is.   It’s not in accepting a Stage-5 clinger, but rather realizing that what you thought was a Stage 1-2 clinger is actually a normal person expressing interest in you – and that is the person to want.   This is obvious to all but us avoidant people, who seek out challenges as measures of quality.

        6. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          but rather realizing that what you thought was a Stage 1-2 clinger is actually a normal person expressing interest in you — and that is the person to want.   This is obvious to all but us avoidant people, who seek out challenges as measures of quality.

          Yes, as an avoidant you have to readjust what your think of as “normal” in terms of amount of contact and need from the other person. Stage-five clingers are easy to spot and so are other avoidants, but it’s still hard to tell for me what is a “usual and customary” … because what I received as a child was so anemic.

  6. 26
    Marika

    Adrian & Jeremy  

    Spot on with the idealist thing. I get very caught up in how things should be – not overly dysfunctional, but certainly often inaccurate –   in terms of a person who says x should do y, or treat me like z, or think f….even when those things never actually happen with that person!

    So the guy is right when he says I do it a lot to both him and other people. He said I use the word selfish a lot to describe people. And I absolutely do. Because I think they are being selfish, based on my moral code.

    He’s not so much a liar, he only actually lied about one thing I know of, but he’s  not an idealist. He accepts the world as it is and chooses his own path and beliefs regardless. He doesn’t mind if others disagree with him or act differently. He will still argue a point or debate his views, but not get upset if they want to do their own thing. It’s a good way to be. It’s just hard for me to get my head around it. He’s also much more morally relativistic and can hold two opposing viewpoints at once.

    It’s my judgement call about whether any of that is right or wrong…I just need to figure out if I can deal with it.

    1. 26.1
      Adrian

      Hi Marika and Jeremy…I wish you two could meet this girl that I am talking to; she is a really good person so it’s not like I can just cut her off but at the same time she reminds me of Jeremy’s decision about people who believe that love  and romance  is  ALL you need! Money, and any kind of planning for  the future isn’t important  because love  IS happiness…    Jeremy how do you deal with a person who you can see things about their personality that they just refuse to see? I mean no where (except maybe on this sites comments section) is believing ALL you need is romance and love talked about like it is a bad thing; so no matter what I say about planning, working, schooling, investing, etc it is just looked upon as if I am the one who lacks romance…

      1. 26.1.1
        Jeremy

        Adrian, you asked, “Jeremy how do you deal with a person who you can see things about their personality that they just refuse to see?”   🙂 🙂 🙂   Love the question.   Spent almost a decade contemplating it.   Could write a book about the answer.   Or spend an evening discussing over some fine scotch.   Hard to answer in this medium, but I’ll try.

         

        Before you decide how, decide WHETHER.   Sounds to me like this woman is a dysfunctional idealist (I mean, OMG, love and romance is all you need until you have to eat, find shelter, support the kids that your love results in, etc).   Be GROUNDED in reality.   A woman who has no grounding will not likely make a good partner for a man who does.   All the responsibility will be on you, and you’ll take the blame when things go bad, even if she likes you.   I personally wouldn’t get involved, but then (as I’ve repeatedly written), ungrounded idealists piss me off.

        Why don’t they piss you off?   Likely because you have a bit of idealist in you too.   Maybe you have some conflict between how you see the world and how you think the world should be?   I know what that’s like.   I feel like I’m over-sharing about myself, but what the hell.   My primary personality is an idealist (surprise, Marika, how else would I understand idealists so well?).   But I grew up surrounded by idealist dysfunction and came to abandon that aspect of myself and rely on my secondary traits – rational.   Rational and Idealist don’t co-exist well in the same person.   They always fight, because their underlying assumptions are in direct opposition to each other.   The one sees the world as it is and adapts.   The other sees the world as it should be and judges.   The one strives to be it’s authentic self.   The other thinks the concept of authentic selves is nonsense.

         

        Why should you care about any of this?   You shouldn’t, except to understand that I get very well why a person would take it very personally when judged by a romantic person of not showing integrity.   The world (and I) are not how we should be!   Yet be in conflict, because we also know that that judgment is wrong – that world-view makes no sense.

         

        How do you deal with it?   Deal with your own internal conflict until you understand yourself.   Then the judgments of others will bother you much less.   And you will be less tempted to remain with partners whose judgment and values you find ridiculous, having already dispelled ridiculous notions from your own mind

        1. Nissa

            OMG, love and romance is all you need until you have to eat, find shelter, support the kids that your love results in.This made me laugh. I’m an idealist, salted liberally with pragmatism. While I’d like things to be a certain way, like you, I very often find that the thoughts of others are so different from my own, that I have to spend time mulling them over before I can really understand.I second  your (Jeremy’s)  recommendation of ‘deal with your own internal conflict until you understand yourself’. I know that I wasn’t objective about my relationships with others until I understood more about what was important to me, which caused me to understand that those things weren’t important to others.I also recommend experience. Women such as Adrian describes might be fine joining the Peace Corp and living in an electricity-&-plumbing free hut, but she might not either. If there’s something particular that she thinks would be fine and you don’t, introduce her to someone who is already doing it and let her personally experience that. I’d find it more likely to believe that if I see them actually ‘doing’ versus just talking about it.

    2. 26.2
      Adrian

      Hi Marika. My situation dealing with “appearing” inconsistent was because my actions did not match that girls views of what values meant, but I was to ignorant and too inexperienced to not take it personally-I believed I was not showing integrity… I like that you are considering this guys opinions but I think it may be more realist  to take to heart what  Jeremy said earlier about two people being normal but different. I just DON’T want you to think you are not normal or that you are too idealist or too sensitive, etc when in reality you two may just not be compatible..

      1. 26.2.1
        Marika

        Thanks Adrian

        I don’t think I’m not normal, I just know other people’s behaviour and opinions bother me more than I would like. I also find the internal struggle which Jeremy describes exhausting. It’s possibly why Emily is worried about dating, it can be an emotional roller-coaster for people like us! (Although for me, the good outweighs the bad).

        It’s best if I just accept that in dating when things are unclear or inconsistencies arise or it doesn’t work out, I will take it hard.

        I don’t do this with friends though. So reading the above exchange, in that way I feel lucky. I never get jealous if I’m not invited to something or keep track of who contacted who or worry when I’ll see them again. I understand people have busy lives and we get together when we can. It would be good to be so relaxed with romantic relationships. I would encourage anyone struggling with friends to stop over-thinking. People mean it when they say they missed you and “we should catch up”, but then they walk off and their sick mother calls or their kids get into trouble or etc etc…they may be busy or even struggling. It’s no personal insult if you don’t see them soon or the catch up never happens.

        Jeremy, would a good description of an Artisan be that they see the world as it is but follow their own path regardless? (Following on from the examples of Rational and Idealists?).

        1. Jeremy

          A person who falls into the artisan/explorer category is one who focuses on the concrete rather than the abstract, and is pragmatic rather than cooperative.   What I mean by concrete is that they focus on what, where, when and how rather than why.   What I mean by “pragmatic” is that they will tend to do what they like because they like it, and not do things they don’t like because they don’t like them.   They are not at all interested in reasons they “should” like something, except insofar as to feel guilty about not doing them because their Guardian and Idealist relatives make them feel bad by guilting them.   But guilt is almost never enough to motivate them to do things they don’t want to do in the long run, because unlike Guardians (who are primarily cooperative and do things in order to fit into a social hierarchy), Artisan/explorers don’t much care about hierarchies except insofar as they can exploit them or use them for their benefit.   They tend to be clever, crafty, very witty and of all the types, the most exciting and with the best tactical intelligence and ability to succeed on the fly.   They will be the most exciting type for people attracted to exciting people.   But they will lack the moral scruples that the idealist needs, unless she gives them a reason to find those scruples enjoyable in the long-run.

           

          As I so often say, these categories don’t really exist.   People aren’t defined by them – rather, they help us remember motivations of people we observe.   It’s not that there is a thing called an artisan and your BF is one.   Rather, a man might exhibit the motivations I described above, and we can say he is behaving like the artisan stereotype as a short hand to help us communicate.   Whether or not we believe in any of this stuff, if a man acts the way I described, we can make some assumptions about his behavior and compatibility with others.   YMMV.

        2. S.

          People mean it when they say they missed you and “we should catch up”, but then they walk off and their sick mother calls or their kids get into trouble or etc etc…they may be busy or even struggling. It’s no personal insult if you don’t see them soon or the catch up never happens.

          I have been thinking about this comment for a few days.   I feel in society we have certain rules for some relationships and certain for others. We pin so much on romantic partnerships.   Motherhood is idealized.

          I had oral surgery four months ago. I was able to handle it by myself but at one point after a scary journey home on foot while the pain meds wore off, I wondered if I should.   Was nothing for it, it was an emergency and I did what I had to do.

          Later on I reached out and felt let down when the four people I reached out to didn’t show up for me.   One of them was my mother.   When I told a friend this she was like, ‘The rest I can understand but mothers! Mothers should always be there.”

          Why? I’m in my mid-40s.   My mother doesn’t have to always be there. I’m not an infant anymore.   She’s got shit to do too.    So do spouses.   So do friends.   So does everyone.

          So do we just go with what society now says? Do we cultivate some friends as ‘found family’? If they want that too, of course.

          I want to think more creatively about relationships. People need people.   And unfortunately, a spouse or a parent or family member, no one relationship can do it all and wasn’t ever meant to.   We live in communities.   There is a wealth of possibility for relationship. Sometimes a chat on the bus ride with a neighbor can be more uplifting than talking with a sister or brother.

          I’m going to think more about this.   The difficulty is I often feel I’m the only one thinking out of the box.   But I know if I pin all my relationship needs on my husband of the future, it will be too much.   Other relationships need time, care, and thoughtfulness too.

          My mom did come to visit after I asked her too. She’s a good mom.   I’m still thinking creatively, though. 🙂

        3. Adrian

          Hi S,

          I can’t speak for Marika or Emily but for me the point isn’t about a person being required to be there for you the point is having people around who want to be there for you even if it is inconvenient for them because to them you are worth it-that is the kind of friendship I am talking about.

          With all that being said I do have core friend and a close family relationship. But I moved to a new city February of last year to accept a promotion with my company. So the context of my conversation with Emily was mainly focusing on the difficulties of making new “real” friends as an adult past a certain age. Many people say and do things as if they want to be your friend but what Emily and I think Jeremy were saying is that when it comes time to actually be there for you they show their true colors.

        4. S.

          I’m in agreement with you, Adrian. You could know a person for years but you don’t really know them until something happens where you need them or they need you.

          I was speaking more about how my friend had such a higher standard for moms. And how Marika was saying she finds situations harder in dating scenarios than with friends.

          It’s harder to make friends a one gets older because people get really set in how they are and when you’re young you’re not set about anything.   What I hope is that people can think creatively about relationships, all of them.   Even relationship with community.   I was reading an article recently where a little girl used to ride the bus with her mom and her mom passed and now the driver does the little girl’s hair in the morning.

          That’s what I mean. That bus driver is mothering this little girl.   No reason for her to.   It takes trust and a leap of faith.   The little girl looks forward each day to what sort of style the driver might make.

          Yeah, this works because it’s a female driver and she knew this family well.   I use it as an example where community can help ease pain sometimes. Not always, but sometimes.

          Sometimes people die.   Sometime spouses divorce.   It doesn’t mean needs can’t be fulfilled, it just may not always look as one imagined.

        5. Emily, the original

          Adrian and S.,

          So the context of my conversation with Emily was mainly focusing on the difficulties of making new “real” friends as an adult past a certain age. Many people say and do things as if they want to be your friend but what Emily and I think Jeremy were saying is that when it comes time to actually be there for you they show their true colors.

          I realized that with these “friends” I had made … would I call them if my car broke down? Would they call me if something similar happened? If I needed a ride to a doctor’s appointment (and a ride as in drop off; I wouldn’t expect them to stay), would I feel comfortable asking? Would they ask me to do the same thing? The answer was no to all four questions. I wouldn’t expect help weekly or even monthly. I am very independent, but I can’t count on these people and they don’t count on me. Those aren’t real friends. I am not really a part of their lives. They are friendly acquaintances to go to a movie with. So when they say the “want to catch up” and the “miss me,” it doesn’t mean all that much.

        6. S.

          One has to be self-sufficient.   You just have to be if you can.   But there are times when one can’t. Illness is one of those times, but not the only time.

          It reminds me a bit of dating. How without connection you are meeting these people, but do you really know all of them? Not always.   I think that’s why Evan gets letters about what to do when the letter writer already knows what to do. If they are asking they know and a few even say they have broken up by the time Evan publishes the letter.

          But they feel they have a connection with this person and it’s so rare that they want to hang on to it.   Even if the connection on the other side has long faded or was never there or the person isn’t treating them well.   There was a connection!   And it was real.   Key word: was. Or it still is but part of them is unhappy or confused enough to write a letter.   That says something.   Doubt.   Gotta listen to that.

          I’m about discernment lately. There are people who would really be there for you, Emily. Maybe only in an emergency.   Maybe not who you’d choose. Maybe you have to ask.   And if there truly are not there is always the possibility of meeting someone!

          It’s tiring and exhausting and dispiriting when it doesn’t work out. But I have to believe it’s worth it–romance and friends–when it does work.

        7. Emily, the original

          S.,

          But they feel they have a connection with this person and it’s so rare that they want to hang on to it.   Even if the connection on the other side has long faded or was never there or the person isn’t treating them well.   There was a connection!   And it was real.   Key word:  was.  

          I know what you mean. It’s kind of like: What have you done for me lately? Or another thing that happpens … what if it is a long-time friendship but you no longer have anything in common? You still care for the person but you don’t have much to say to each other.
          It’s tiring and exhausting and dispiriting when it doesn’t work out. But I have to believe it’s worth it—romance and friends—when it does work.
          It’s quite tiring. You have to ask yourself — is the prize worth the value of the effort to get it? Idk

        8. S.

          @ Emily

          It’s a real thing. You’re giving up a possible connection with this person for maybe nothing.   Seriously.   But it’s not just nothing.   It’s also that the person, usually the letter writer, is unhappy.   So they have to accept that being alone is better than this possible connection with this person, especially if the person isn’t making them happy.

          The thing I don’t hear addressed often is the dating fatigue.   Or the fact that there may not be another connection right after.   (Though letter writers sometimes report finding a better match months later.)   There may be. Or there might not.   It could be a while.   That doesn’t get addressed.   These connections, even the problematic ones, are rare.

          When one gets tired, take a break, and rejuvenate.   But dating is dating and no one has figured out a way to get through the sorting other than to just do it with as much kindness, integrity, and sheer grit as possible.

          Is it worth it? Happily married people will say yes.   But I’m not sure how many of them spent decades and decades alone and slogging tiredly through dating before marriage.   Most were were probably pretty resilient before marriage. So I don’t know.   I can only hope it’s worth it.

        9. Emily, the original

          S.,

          Is it worth it? Happily married people will say yes.   But I’m not sure how many of them spent decades and decades alone and slogging tiredly through dating before marriage.   Most were were probably pretty resilient before marriage. So I don’t know.   I can only hope it’s worth it.

          I meant making the effort in general. Friends and relationships. I have decided, at least in my case, that family thing is most definitely not worth the effort. I’ll get bored eventually and start being more social … and continue my lifelong search for cool, rebellious “cruising chicks.”     🙂

        10. S.

          @Emily

          Ah, is friendship and family worth the effort sometimes. I think they can be.   But breaks are still pretty yummy with all relationships.   I’m partly introvert so I need that recharging alone time.   Just not for long.

          For friendship, if you’ve ever had a great friend who was like family, yes, it’s worth the effort. That said, one has to realize any relationship might be temporary.   So it can be worth it and transitory. Both energies can be held at once.

          With family, especially family we are raised by or that we raise, it’s so long-term and children grow and change and get awareness–even if we are those said children–that I have learned to take a wait and see approach.   Still take breaks, but not cutting off ties completely, unless someone is relentlessly toxic.   Breaks are still necessary even if family members are great! At least for me. But I will say having a great relationship with a family member can be one of the rocks you build your life on.   But only one of the rocks. 🙂 No one lives forever.

          I say not to put all the eggs in any one basket, not born-into-family, not made family, not relationship, not spiritual community, not rebellious, cruising chicks, etc. 🙂 It used to be we spread our energies around and got our needs met in a varied amount of ways, from various relationships. I think that’s wise.

        11. Emily, the original

          S.,

          Ah, is friendship and family worth the effort sometimes. I think they can be.

          Jeremy mentioned how he pared down romantic options and I do a similar thing for relationships in general. Do I genuinely like this person? Do I feel good around him/her and do they make me feel appreciated and seen (or however you want to word that)? Are they putting in a consistent effort to maintain the relationship? Are they adding something to my life? Can I add something to theirs? If the answer to these questions is no, I don’t force the relationship. I don’t have much family left, but the answer to these questions in relation to them is a resounding no.

          With friends, I do have a good friend who I genuinely like and enjoy talking to, but he is very religious. I am not, and while I don’t mind people who are and don’t mind talking about it, a good 60% of his conversation is about his faith and everything seems to circle back to it. Sometimes not having enough in common can be tricky.

        12. Mrs Happy

          I find these comments about friendships interesting because over the last 4 months I’ve been experiencing major friendship perambulations.   Essentially I was diagnosed with a serious medical condition 3-4 months ago and I was aghast at how pathetically non-empathic, seemingly non-caring, my closest friends were.

          They were uncomfortable talking about it (not that I go on about it, I just wanted to share a bit to offload stress).   I was yearning for a call, a “how are you holding up, what’s the progress, need any help”, sort of check-in.   Nothing.   I got nothing.

          It made me completely re-evaluate my friendships.   A good friend of 24 years (an ex actually) who lives far away from me now, who is quite social like me, once explained that he periodically stops contacting friends for 6-12 months, just to see who will actually contact him, to test the waters on who will put some effort into maintaining the friendship, if he stops doing all the initiating of phone calls, catch ups, etc.

          Well I am 3 months in to doing exactly this.   It has been illuminating.   Sometimes I slip up and text friends first, or suggest an outing, just because that is my natural tendency and I forget I’m not meant to do it at present, but on the whole, I’ve just been letting others do the initiating.   My plan is, the people who are contacting me up to 6 months out, are the people who want to communicate with and see me, and everyone else was only agreeing to see me because I suggested it, and wasn’t really a very interested or invested friend.

          A few people I would have said 5 months ago were close friends, have not contacted me at all, not after hearing of my diagnosis, not after my surgery, nothing.   It has been both upsetting and illuminating.   They were obviously not the close friends I thought they were. A huge emotional loss – some I’ve known 15 years.   But I don’t want to be the one always doing the friendship work.

          It’s also made me more cynical.   A bit, ‘jeez, what’s the point of bothering being socially connected, people will just let me down’.   I’ve also realised how many people are just acquaintances.   Makes me think of a saying I heard once   – ‘Think of who you would ask to please drive you to the airport, who would do it; that’s a friend, and everyone else is an acquaintance’.

        13. Kenley

          @Mrs Happy

          Do you remember a few months ago Evan had a guest on his podcast who talked about something like unspoken contracts that we have in our minds that we don’t share with other folks yet we expect them to abide by those rules?   He was discussing in the context of romantic relationships, but it happens in all relationships.

          It seems that you have in your mind what friendship means — how often friends should contact you and when and for what reasons.   You haven’t shared this with friends, but you are holding them to these guidelines.   I am not necessarily saying your definition of friendship is wrong — it’s whatever you want it to be.   But perhaps it would be helpful to the friends you care about to share it with them.   People do or don’t do the things we want them to do for all sorts of reasons that we may not understand.   If we don’t ask for what we want, they just may not realize it versus just not wanting to give it to us.

          Many of us don’t really know how to help people when they have challenges or trying times.   And, often times, it’s not because they don’t want to help, it’s because they just don’t know what to say or what to do.   So, the friend in the challenging circumstances feels abandoned and the friend who hasn’t reached out feels inadequate and useless.   Maybe your friends really do care about you.

        14. Emily, the original

          Mrs. Happy,

          A few people I would have said 5 months ago were close friends, have not contacted me at all, not after hearing of my diagnosis, not after my surgery, nothing.   It has been both upsetting and illuminating.    

          I’m sorry that happened. I think your airport reference is a good one — there are friends who are essentially “entertainment friends” — “Hey, you want to go to a movie?” and there are friends you can count on. It hurts when you realize how few people are in the latter category.

          You said you aren’t initiating contact. One of the things I stopped doing was putting in effort with people who wanted to conduct the entire friendship over text or email. Maybe we lived far apart. To me, you have to get on the phone at regular intervals. Not once a year but at least every month or so. There were people I realized I hadn’t talked to on the phone for yearS and I stopped making the effort. Shooting me a two-sentence email (and barely keeping up an email correspondence) isn’t worth it.

        15. Mrs Happy

          Dear Kenley,

          thank you for your comment above, unfortunately I can’t reply to you directly as we are on a subthread, so I hope you see this.   I appreciate my plan includes unspoken guidelines and there are faults in this, but I decided that to tell friends I was doing this would introduce a confounder (their behaviour would alter because I’d requested it to) which would falsely affect my (admittedly rough) experiment on – what is their behaviour towards me.

          I would be very open to any suggestions on how other to evaluate friends (baring in mind the very impetus to this experiment, the problem, was them not contacting me).

          Lately in life, sometimes I just get “over it”.   If things are too hard, things that should bring ease, love, joy don’t, I just exit.

          I recall a few posts from various commentators and Evan about flaky people over recent months.   This feels like that – maybe some friends aren’t worth the mental work/stress involved?

        16. Clare

          I’d like to offer my thoughts on this friendship discussion. Mrs Happy, I’m very sorry that you were abandoned by your friends at this difficult time, when you needed them the most. I can relate though. When my father was diagnosed with cancer about 7 years back, I had two very close friends at the time. I mean, close as in we spoke nearly every day and saw each other every week. I emailed them both to tell them about my dad’s diagnosis, and I just got crickets. Nothing. No response. It was only when I emailed a second time to say I was really battling that one out of the two replied. The second one never did and she simply distanced herself while I was going through a difficult time, which shocked me.

          At the time, I was pretty hurt but I still continued to invest time, energy and effort into friendships that were not rewarding for me. I don’t these days. I adopt a fairly ruthless approach to friendship now. I am extremely selective with who I spend my time and energy on, and my inner circle is very small. This is because I know the level at which I invest in relationships, and I know the growth I want to achieve and the path I want to take in my life, and if people are not able to support me on that path, I simply let them go. I am not unkind in any way, but I simply don’t invest my energy in people who don’t resonate with the same values that I have, because I need that energy for other things. I don’t allow myself to get weighed down by guilt and obligation.

          I am not advocating my approach for everyone; for one thing, I am an introvert and happy spending long periods of time alone. I realise that for very social, extroverted people it might be different. But I’d really encourage people to guard their hearts when it comes to friends – don’t give someone the power to hurt you who has shown themselves to be a flake.

  7. 27
    ezamused

    @Mrs Happy given your response to Jermey’s comment about a girlfriend/spouse. Why would any emotionally health and rational man want to get married?

    1. 27.1
      Marika

      Why buy a house when you can just keep staying in different B&B’s? Why try to find a job rather than just temping for money? Why establish friendships when they can sometimes be difficult or boring..there are benefits of a marriage that go well beyond the new & exciting. It’s an entity where the sum is greater than its parts. But you know that, or have at least some interest in learning it, or you wouldn’t be here.

      1. 27.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Marika… Knowing what you know now about marriage and the struggles of the dating market, would you date/marry a cute guy who you were lukewarm about sexually  but you had great fun and energetic conversations with, similar goals and values, and most importantly they were willing to put in lots of effort for you-you found him attractive but he just didn’t ignite any strong lust in you. Or would you prefer to remain single and keep searching for the guy who had all those characteristics but you felt a stronger desire for?

        1. Nissa

          Only speaking for myself, I would put more value in the fun, the conversations, the similar goals and values.  It’s funny, people  used to tell me my husband was handsome, but I didn’t really think he was that great looking. When my sister met him, she pulled me aside and said, ‘he looks like Sheldon from the Big Bang series!’. Which I had never seen and just about fell over laughing when I did, because she was right. I remember looking at him the night we met, thinking ‘He’s not really good looking…he’s just…ordinary”.I also spent a lot of time with my Dad later in life, when  he was trying to date in his late 60’s. He used to say, that he just wanted someone to have dinner with, to see a movie and to be at home with him. In some ways, I was so sad for him that his standards were so low – nothing about loving him for himself or appreciating what he offered. But in a way I think he was very right – he knew exactly what it looked like, the life he wanted with someone. Walking slowly together, holding hands. Supporting each other, come what may. A shared life that might not include sex, but did include mutual dependency.

      2. 27.1.2
        ezamused

        @marika, Nobody would buy a house if they knew that house was going to fall apart and be worthless in a few years. No one would start a job if they knew the company was going to treat them like shit in a few years. No one would establish a friendship if they knew that friend would betray them and take all their money in the future.

        My question is not why would a man ever get married. It is why would he get married if he knew his wife was going to stop acting like his girlfriend.

        It was my response to Mrs Happy and Emily’s dismissal of Jeremy advice (very good advice IMO) that if wife still acted like GIRLFRIENDS in their marriages it would make for much better marriages.

        1. Marika

          Ezamused

          Not all women act exactly the same in all marriages. And as I said to you in another response down the page, the fate of a marriage doesn’t lie only in the woman’s hands. Jeremy is a unique example of a man who did everything he possibly could to make his wife happy, including going out of his way to fix things when he was unhappy. Most men aren’t like that. Including (my guess is from the way you write), you. In most marriages which aren’t working out, both parties aren’t giving the relationship their all.

          So maybe take a look at yourself first.

        2. ezamused

          @Marika

          People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

    2. 27.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear ezamused,

      I’m not a man so I don’t know the answer, so I just asked a man, and he said he got married because:

      1. he met someone with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life, and

      2. he wanted children, and believed children were best created and raised by a married couple, and

      3. his society deems marriage the most serious commitment and he was raised to agree with this model.

      In my opinion a girlfriend-boyfriend situation is great partly because there are fewer expectations and responsibilities.   All you have to do, is concentrate on each other.     So easy while you’re in love, and sooo enjoyable.

      I suspect if you are a man or a woman and mainly want the fun stuff, the intermittent excitement, and don’t want to be with someone long term or raise a family together or combine households, boyfriend-girlfriend is the way to go.   For a good chunk of my adult life that’s what I wanted.   I am firmly of the opinion that people should do what suits them best at their different stages of life (as long as it doesn’t harm others).

      1. 27.2.1
        Adrian

        Hi Mrs Happy… Eazmused’s comment actually made me seek out what you wrote and I loved it. Your  post explained so much about why many couples enjoy dating more than marriage-more attention and effort. Your explanation explained why we are able to give more because dating is part time whereas marriage is full time. .I would be curious to hear your opinion on: (1) moving in before marriage? Evan wrote about this and the opinions in the comments section were pretty split; do you think a couple should  be required  to live together before getting  married? If so how long? (2) what are some ways you think a married couple with busy schedules that see each other everyday, have access to sex with each other everyday  can bring back that “DESIRE” to invest more attention and effort into a person who they already have?

        1. Mrs Happy

          Dear Adrian,

          your questions made me smile.   Though I’m euphoric in general at the moment.

          Q1. I can’t give a very balanced opinion on living together before marriage, because my own personal preference pre-kids, was to love living alone so much, there was no way I was giving that up for “just” a boyfriend. A husband, yes, I’d live with him.

          Q2. Your question about “DESIRE” (capitalised desire at that!) is probably equivalent to me asking you something like the following.   Adrian, what are the ways that you, with your busy schedule, who has access to serviettes every day, can become really interested in what colour the serviettes are at the next high-end restaurant you visit, and what embroidery pattern is on the edges, and where they were made?   What ways can you think, to become more interested in the linen origins of the serviette, and the emotions around using the serviette, and to get really into interacting with the serviette?

          All joking aside, (and I’m a bit elevated because I have just survived a snakebite and am feeling pretty damn good, me versus snake no contest I won), it seems to me that men cannot come anywhere near conceptualising how or why or to what extent, sexual desire drops for women, after middle age/kids/childbirth/a period of marriage/near menopause.   You’re in your twenties, you won’t understand it for years.   I never had a hint of it (low desire) in my 20’s, I heard people talk about it,   but barely understood.

          I was reading Jeremy’s referenced article – shockingly it was about power (not capitalised power though) and reflecting on how, if you don’t care about the serviette any more, other people might perceive there are power struggles about the serviette, it’s really important to them, but in fact you hardly clock the serviette is on the table until reminded of its presence.   The article’s fish analogy probably holds somewhat true though.

        2. Jeremy

          LOL.   Not only is the article about fish true, but it speaks to why you would even consider using your serviette analogy.   Consider the power (capitalised or not) involved in the seeing sex (or any love language of one’s partner) as a napkin – irrelevant and fungible.   How could one possibly view a partner’s priorities as such unless one is accustomed to getting what one wants regardless?   I have found that, in my life, what made me more empathetic to the desires of others was the lack of getting what I wanted, or at least the difficulty in doing so.   But I have observed that particular trick of empathy to be more difficult for my friends who were born winning the double genetic lottery of looks and intelligence.   What did they ever lack for?   Their biggest challenge was the onerous task of choosing from a plethora of options and then growing bored of them.   Needing increasing quantities of dopamine to excite them.   We don’t have many poisonous snakes here, though.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Jeremy,

          you have BEARS!

      2. 27.2.2
        Jeremy

        3 good reasons, Mrs. Happy.   I’ll add one more.   As a man, love, companionship, and relationships are the primary factor that will lead to long-term happiness.   Far more so than sex or status, which is what our male brains are hardwired to seek out.   Marriage provides an incentive for us to seek out the things that will ultimately make us happy, and the disincentive to tank the relationship when things get difficult.   Which is why men who are happily – or even satisfactorily – married are happier, healthier, and live longer than ones who are not.   Men would be wise to seek out marriage, regardless of whether or not the sex remains as frequent as it once did.

         

        That, BTW, is my only point of contention with Nissa and Clare’s most recent comment above.   I agree with them about personal responsibility and the decision to leave.   The question is whether leaving will necessarily result in the most happiness.   If a man has a marriage that is perfect except he wishes greater sexual frequency, would he be wise to leave?   I think not.   He’d be far wiser to try to remedy the situation.   Leaving is a last resort.   Which is the point of marriage.

        1. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy,

          Is your advice for him to stay based on the fact that you don’t believe that he will find a woman who will give him the level of sex he desires? A bird in hand is better than two in the bush?

        2. Jeremy

          No Adrian, that isn’t it.   Rather, my advice is to consider what one has rather than what one doesn’t.   To cultivate gratitude.   When I was having marital troubles it was my tendency to focus on what I wasn’t getting – sex and my language of receiving love and appreciation.   Not to diminish that, but I was getting lots of other things.   A family life, children, a social life, love and support from my wife (in the other love languages of words and acts of service), companionship, and lots of other things.   Tanking all of that just for what I lacked would not have made me happier.  It’s not that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. It is realizing that the bird you have is the one you want, you just need to nurture it in a different way.   But, of course, that depends on whether the bird you have is, in fact, the one you want.

        3. Clare

          Jeremy,

          I think you may have misinterpreted what I, for one, was saying.

          I’m not advocating leaving a marriage just because one need is not met, while many others are. I am talking about a marriage/relationship that makes you miserable, that drains the life out of you, that causes you pain regularly. One where you have tried, and failed, to get your partner to acknowledge the depth of your unhappiness and to change something in response, or work with you to co-create a solution. This, I believe, is what Nissa was talking about. She had tried with her husband. He had refused to do anything in response. She was hurting and very unhappy.

          I’m not suggesting chucking a situation which is mostly good because one or two things are not ideal. In any situation we find ourselves in, we will have to tolerate the odd thing which might not be as we would wish it. This is life. The question is to what extent is it impacting on your happiness and well-being, and can it be improved. If these latter aspects are unfavorable, I believe you do have to exercise your power and leave.

      3. 27.2.3
        ezamuzed

        But the problem is that he wants to get married and stay with the person based on the love and affection he feels during the girlfriend/boyfriend phase. I doubt that men who are of sound mind and emotion would get married if they were certain that the love, affection and sex they felt as a boyfriend would slowly disappear once they got married.

        To me it sounds devious and manipulative for women to do this. To consciously act one way before marriage and then another after marriage. It sounds like she was investing in him before marriage not because she liked him as a person but because she wanted to lock him down as a provider. And now that she succeeded in that with marriage she doesn’t have to invest in that anymore.

        1. Emily, the original

          Ezamused,

            I doubt that men who are of sound mind and emotion would get married if they were certain that the love, affection and sex they felt as a boyfriend would slowly disappear once they got married.

          It doesn’t disappear. It just changes, particularly once you move into together. Things are much different if you see each other twice a week and are focused on each other because that is the time you have to do it. But if you see each other every day … uh… you can’t have that level of hyper-focus or that would be all you did. People have to go to work. They have to eat. To sleep. To pay bills. And children adds another layer of responsibility.

        2. ezamuzed

          @emily, exactly it changes because she allowed it to change. Either because she got lazy, it was an act and she really care in the first place or more likely there is something unconscious going on that allows the change happen.

          Just because they move in together it does not mean she cannot spend a few hours a week focusing on him and the relationship. It really should be easier because he is right there. How much time does it take to shower, slip on some  lingerie and go down stairs and pretend to be a Russian  seductress out to get all his secrets. 30 minutes max? If there are kids then do it after they go to bed.

        3. Emily, the original

          ezamused,

          As Judge Judy says, “You’re not receiving.”

        4. Mrs Happy

          Dear ezamused @ 27.2.3,

          everyone – men and women – changes after marriage.   Nobody can stay the person they were on the wedding day, because humans alter over time.   Love for one another changes.   Effort expended towards the other alters, on the part of both men and women.   I cannot explain this any better than Gary Chapman does in his book The 5 Love Languages: love buckets get filled during dating, and start emptying after marriage.   It’s not a trick, it’s not deceptive, it’s not manipulative, it’s not intentional, and it happens to everyone, it is part of the normal human experience.

          Marriage involves a thousand disappointments in your partner but the determination to stay together.   Your wife will not get all her wants and needs met by you.   You will not get all your needs and wants met by her. You will be less than perfect for one another.

        5. Jeremy

          Ezamused, the problem with all advice, my own included, is that the perspective of the giver may differ too much from that of the taker.   And this is especially true when it comes to the subject of sex.   Because people with a certain sexual meta-goal (the subconscious reason why they want to have sex) usually assume that others should share their meta-goal.   As an example, a person’s sexual meta-goal might be novelty – ie. they crave sex as a dopamine-generating activity and lose desire for it subconsciously when it no longer is novel – love or no love, emotional connection or none.   Such a person usually assumes that others share that goal and would act the same way.   So when someone asks that person “why would a spouse lose interest in sex after marriage?” – the person might reply, “Well who wouldn’t lose interest in sex when you have access to that partner every day?   Such a loss isn’t abnormal, it is totally expected.” Which, of course, it wasn’t.

           

          A person whose meta-goal is marriage and children would think it is totally normal to lose interest after having marriage and children, though they would pay lip service to “making an effort.”   A person whose meta-goal is emotional connection will tell you that the only reason your spouse lost interest is because she must have lost emotional connection with you, whether or not that is true.

           

          So if you, as an advice seeker, are worried about losing love, affection, and sex after marriage, my first question to you (as the advice giver) is, “what is YOUR sexual meta-goal?”   What are your base assumptions?   Do you believe that sex equals love, and that having a partner withdraw sex means withdrawing of love (as far as you are concerned)?   Do you need sex for validation because you believe that a partner withdrawing sexually means that your value to them (and to yourself) is less?   Is your goal physical pleasure and you feel your wife owes you pleasure in exchange for what you do for her?   Do you need sex because it equals emotional connection to you, and without it you feel alone?   Why do you need the sex, and what does its withdrawal mean to you?   Now, what does it mean to your wife?

           

          No woman gets married with the nefarious goal of losing affection and desire after the ceremony.   They aren’t out to entrap Beta Bux while seeking out affairs with Alphas.   If a woman loses interest in sex, it’s because she has lost her meta-goal.   She feels there isn’t anything in it for her that’s worth the effort.   Her spouse hasn’t lost interest because he hasn’t lost his meta-goal.   But if he wants her to regain hers, he has to make sure that she gets her goal when she gives him his….and that she does not get her goal when she does not give him his.   Because when she gets all her goals met without having to reciprocate, she ends up happy, and believes he should be too.   Read the article I referenced above.

           

           

        6. ezamused

          @jeremy I’m not seeking advice here. I’m only here loitering around because I became very interested in dating and intersexual dynamics a few years ago. It was part of my self-improvement journey after my divorce. Also I think this would be a bad place for a guy to go for dating advice.

          I do agree with perspectives but I think it is important to try to understand and empathize with other peoples perspectives. And that is what is frustrating here. You gave some pretty sound advice about being girlfriend and a large contingent of woman here dismissed it by rationalizing it away.

          It is the same advice that Dr Laura has been giving woman in relationships with good men for decades. She even wrote a book about it called “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands”

           

  8. 28
    Marika

    Thanks Jeremy.

    That very much sums it up. I know these categories aren’t ‘real’ in that sense, but they help me understand people who act in ways that otherwise I would perceive as deliberately hurtful.

    1. 28.1
      Jeremy

      Yes.   That’s the only reason I’m interested in them.   Growing up with people whose motivations I could not understand – because they were so very difficult from my own – made me want to understand people very much.   It is CBT in its most perfect sense – adjusting our feelings by adjusting our thoughts.   Adjusting our thoughts by understanding that the motivations of the people with whom we interact are not necessarily what we perceive them to be.

       

      So much of what you’d find on “personality” websites is total bullshit.   I know Helen Fisher spends a lot of time in her book “why him, why her” discussing optimal pairings of types, but I find that laughable.   It’s not that some pairings necessarily work better, but rather that each pairing will have predictable challenges.   Someone who is very much an idealist has one of two choices IMHO – either seek out another idealist with similar ideology, or moderate her idealism to examine what she needs and what she only wants.   The latter will increase her choices, and ultimately her happiness, though it is the more difficult road – because it requires a conversion of thinking from assuming a behavior is selfish to assuming a behavior is normal.   That is the internal struggle I mentioned above.   Sounds like you know what I was talking about.

  9. 29
    Adrian

    Hi Jeremy,

    As much as many of the male posters (not you) belittle my supposed lacking of masculinity because I agree with so many of the points many of the female commenter make; in honesty with the exception of you, Evan and Karl R I learn almost 95% of the things I think are worth knowing about dating, relationships, and love from the women here.

    One such commenter (believe it was GoWithTheFlow or Marika) once said something that gave me a really great “AHA!” moment. She basically said that you can be with a person who is perfect for you in 99 ways but if that 1 thing that is missing is that important to you then it doesn’t matter if you are receiving 99 other benefits, the relationship isn’t worth forcing yourself to stay in; I agree with that.

    I know what you are trying to say and I agree but with conditions. To a man who highly values sex and having a woman show him that she desires him, all the other benefits won’t make him happy.

    Jeremy said, “Rather, my advice is to consider what one has rather than what one doesn’t.   To cultivate gratitude.   When I was having marital troubles it was my tendency to focus on what I wasn’t getting — sex and my language of receiving love and appreciation.”    

    I agree with Emily in that it is great that you fought so hard for your wife, but honestly I don’t think I personally would have seen her as being worth the effort because it violates one of Evan’s golden rules about a relationship shouldn’t be hard or require a lot of work to make happy.

    1. 29.1
      Jeremy

      That is for dating, Adrian, not marriage after kids.   It should be easy most of the time, but all marriages that last long enough go through times of stress.   If everyone followed that advice, 95% of marriages would fail the first year after kids.   If you get into a marriage thinking you married a unicorn, you’ll be shocked the first time she exhibits humanity – just as you are worried she’ll be shocked when you exhibit yours.   She is human.   So are you.   There will be tough times.   Choose the best partner you can, learn how to argue constructively, and realize that the factor that makes the best relationship partner is one’s ability to not always get one’s way.   If you learn nothing else from me, let the one thing be that sentence.   But that’s for marriage and children.   Not for dating.

      1. 29.1.1
        Marika

        Jeremy

        I agree with everything you say, except for the ‘not for dating’ bit. I know you have very good reasons to believe that and we likely won’t agree (which is okay! – I’m trying ☺). But I think that applies when people are very young and/or haven’t gone through many negative experiences or are very easy going. It shouldn’t be hard  , but I don’t think I’ve had one online dating experience that I would call  easy. Same applies to all my friends. Maybe that says something about us or about us not finding the right person yet, but dealing with other people in a romantic sense when you’re both being vulnerable and you’ve been hurt before (or have kids, money worries etc) can be hard.

        The latest guy I was with, let’s call him Jason, coincidentally knew another guy I briefly dated, let’s call him Jake. I thought Jake was fine but he was just a bit low key and interest seemed to dry up on both sides. It was only two dates and nothing bad happened. He ‘warned’ Jason that I’m a bit cold and don’t show enough interest in other people. Jason told me he almost laughed, began I’m the exact opposite of that. Things like that happen often. I’ve been abused by guys for not wanting a second date, I’ve been ghosted, my friends have been with guys who have family stuff that makes them need space, slept with them under false pretences, etc etc.

        Either it’s our own stuff making dating a bit tricky or it’s their stuff or just dating in general. Look at all the commenters and their struggles. Personally I think searching for ‘easy’ may rule everyone out! Again, unless you’re super easy going. Though then, it’s unlikely you’d be on this blog. Maybe we should call it ‘easier’.

  10. 30
    Marika

    Or PS, Jeremy, maybe this doesn’t apply to everyone. I’ve noticed commenters who very self-sufficient and quite tough/ no-nonsense in their approach to finding a partner seemed to find dating quite easy, no matter their age or history. For them it easy  probably is a good marker.

    I got dissillusioned with the comments for a while because I felt like this ‘easy’ thing was getting pushed too much and I was trying to live up to being this uber relaxed and ‘nothing bothers me’ dater who can cooly call things off when it’s not working and move swiftly on with no regrets. Which I’m not and will never be. So I’ve just accepted that for me I will continue to experience pain and confusion as long as I continue to open my heart. The marker for me (and my guess, many others) will need to be something other than easy: probably them showing up consistently and being okay with me being an emotional over-thinker, as once they get past that, I’m a generous, kind, thoughtful and fiercely loyal partner.

    1. 30.1
      Jeremy

      I don’t think “easy” means being uber-relaxed or adopting a “nothing bothers me” attitude.   Given your psychology, that wouldn’t be easy, it’d be an impossible self-denial.   To me, easy means that you don’t need to force yourself or your partner to be something they are not in order to like them or to envision a future with them.   If something is important to you, easy could mean finding a partner who also finds it important, or who finds you important enough to care.   Not one who is apathetic to something you find important.

       

      There are many razors that I used over the years to pare down potential partners, but the best one I ever came up with was this:   Is this the person I want to be the mother of my future children?   Keeping in mind that children are likely to be like their parent.   Do I want kids who act like this person?   Who are raised with the values of this person?   Who look like this person?

       

      This razor pares down a lot of bullshit.   Because we might find a partner we really like.   Who is a lot of fun to be around.   Who likes a lot of the things we do.   Who is interesting or challenging.   But when you apply the razor, you find immediately that the person is wrong.   And when the answer is yes, it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing or conflict-free.   But it does mean that you are with a person with whom you might legitimately have a future.

       

      That was my razor.   Might not be yours.   But good to develop one.

  11. 31
    Marika

    Ezamuzed

    You’re acting like women are the only ones making less of an effort once the relationship proceeds. Do you think women would marry a man who spends all weekend watching TV? Plenty of married men end up like that, but weren’t like that during the dating phase. And it’s very short-sighted to argue that that could  all the woman’s fault. Yes, married people should both continue to make an effort with each other. Not just the women.

    Jeremy’s point was that his wife used the excuse of being busy and tired to not have sex even though  he got her a nanny and a cleaner, she had time off and then went back to work only part time. So clearly for her, busy and tired was an excuse and she definitely needed to start prioritizing his needs. But how many men are like Jeremy? Are you? You don’t come across as particularly respectful of or empathetic to women. So maybe that’s where you should start, if you want a great relationship that is great forever, instead of complaining about women and marriage.

  12. 32
    Marika

    Ezamused

    You’re clutching at straws. If you were in any way familiar with my comments you would know I’m always looking out for ways I can change, improve and get better at dating. I don’t blame the opposite sex for everything. Or whinge endlessly without openness to change.

    Obviously you’re angry at women and / or are against marriage. Fine, so date and don’t marry and think men who marry are saps. But if you’re happy with that, why come here? Why try to convince others? Just get on with it and enjoy your unattached lifestyle.

    1. 32.1
      ezamused

      @Marika, I’m no longer going to engage in conversation with you because to me it seems you are more interested in attacking my character and comparing it to Jeremy than actually listening to what I have to say.

      1. 32.1.1
        Marika

        Fine with me, Ezamused, as you’re only interested in attacking & blaming women.

        Best of luck to you.

  13. 33
    Adrian

    Hi Jeremy,

    You said, ”  I grew up unable to count on my parents for much of anything in terms of emotional needs.   I always found it better not to rely on anyone.  I learned to compensate by being avoidant to self-protect.  ”

    1. How do you heal and not just seem healed until something triggers your insecurity?

    You said, “With that belief system, the hope becomes that there might be one special person out there who can be relied upon, who is different from the others.

    2. Do you believe that today more women choose men based on their own insecurity and not based on how good his genes?

    1. 33.1
      Jeremy

      How do you heal and not just seem healed until something triggers your insecurity?”   I’ll let you know when I know.   Not there yet.   CBT helps.   Having good relationships helps.   I’m not the hopelessly insecure boy I was, and I fake confidence very well, even when I don’t always feel it.   Unfortunately, the Dunning-Kruger effect cuts both ways – the more you know, the less confident you are.

       

      Do you believe that today more women choose men based on their own insecurity and not based on how good his genes?”   Why the attempt at generalization here?   There are women who do each, women who do both, and women who do neither.   Choose the woman whose goal matches either the person you are or the person you aspire to be.   Not one whose goals and aspirations are ephemeral pixie dust.

      1. 33.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Jeremy,

        I asked the second question because everything I read that is scientific based says that women choose men (even when they themselves don’t realize or even believe it) based on his good genes; genes that she can give to her child.

        Things like height, and general attractiveness… but then I started to think… What if our dysfunctional attachment styles are even stronger than biology.

        I guess I was just curious about your thoughts on that hypothesis.

  14. 34
    lapistolle

    Not sure if this was anywhere else in the comments (didn’t see it), but my thought, as a childfree woman, was that the guy may have broken it off because he is raising children and the OP clearly has some ambivalence about this issue.

    People who are parents need to date people who both want kids in their lives and/or are willing to participate/help in family life. I have found that as an independent childfree woman, it’s pretty obvious to men that I am not on that train, and I’ve stopped dating single fathers as a result. It’s nothing personal–it’s about the fact that parenting is a black or white issue, you are either a parent or you are not, and it’s very hard to make a relationship work when one partner is not “about” kids.

    Just my .02.

  15. 35
    Elizabeth

    I find it amusing that people have turned this into an issue about sex. Tough love, sure, but I don’t find it to be quite accurate either. The problem I see here is that he made the situation what it was and couldn’t handle what he delivered. His intentions may have been good in the beginning, but he dragged this woman through the mud of his internal issues. To commit, hold someone close emotionally and expressing feelings to just throw them away like a bag on trash day it cowardly. He should have just sat her down, owned up to his actions and told her that it wasn’t what he thought.

    She’s a big girl, she could handle the truth. Instead, he cut it off and that was it. I get it, she needs to move on and she will, but it doesn’t take away from him putting her through that to begin with. This is on him, truly.

    I say this from experience. I dated a guy for a short time who completely fell for me. I fell for him too. We were doing great, he asked that we commit to one another and move forward in a serious way. The next week he disappears for days and then says he’s too busy to be in a relationship. Bullsh**, especially considering he was busier when we first started dating. When I sat him and down and asked him what the deal was, he blamed his mother and not having healthy relationships. He said that his feelings for me were scary to him because he never has a relationship without heartbreak. So when he disappeared and I confronted him, he felt he was a disappointment and it was easier to just leave. I call bullsh** again, but I know he can’t be alone and will find someone else to just be with – starting this routine all over again.

    Some men (and women) just suck, point blank. She is better off with someone who ACTUALLY commits and doesn’t play games. A man who is man enough to do it appropriately.

  16. 36
    Kim

    I’m confused as to why she is being told to just accept it. I understand why she’s annoyed! He gave her a mixed message, acting one way, then just dropping a bomb on her. Does he not hold accountability to her feelings? Sorry, he is a jerk and it was shitty to do, and I would say the same if it had been the other way around too.

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