Women Teach Men – It’s About Time!

women teaching men


I think this article by Rose Surnow is…interesting.

“Women Teach Men, an $895 July wellness retreat features talks, lectures and workshops taught by accomplished female experts. The speakers ranged from well-known media personalities like Perel to lesser-known gurus like “body poetess” Mari Sierra. In addition to talks, the weekend included structured men’s groups (no women allowed), where men could sit around and share their feelings–a.k.a. my sexual fantasy. When I found out all this was going down at the Ojai Valley Inn, a five-star hotel with a pool, mountain views and delicious gourmet meals, I packed a bag of bikinis faster than you can say, “The Patriarchy hurts men, too!”

Full disclosure: I know a guy who went to this and was invited to attend. It’s not my thing, but conceptually, I really like the idea of men – for once! – attempting to understand women. Remember, the only reason I’m a coach for women is that men don’t generally ask for help when it comes to relationships.

Esther Perel, author of Mating in Captivity, was the headline speaker. Says Surnow:

“What stuck out to her wasn’t any one particular concern but just how starved the men were for a chance to talk and ask questions. “Women are over-served in the space of relationships and men are totally underserved,” Perel told me. “And because the lives of women will not change until men come along that means that men need to have a chance to also rethink what it means to be a man at home and at work.”

If you’re not a predator and you are capable of speaking up then you should make your voice heard and be part of the solution

It turns out some men need permission to speak openly about what it means to be a man in the wake of #MeToo. A married rabbi said his favorite part of the weekend was when Perel lamented that in this current climate men are being told to sit down and shut up. The rabbi felt validated that a woman might want to hear his point of view. “If you’re not a predator and you are capable of speaking up then you should make your voice heard and be part of the solution,” he said.

Hear, hear. Men are, indeed, starved for a chance to talk and ask questions. Thus the presence of so many male readers on a blog specifically for women.

Personally, I grew up with a stable family and counted both my mother and father as my best friends growing up. My willingness to express my thoughts and feelings never seemed like anything extraordinary until I discovered most people didn’t have a similar childhood experience. So I think it’s great that men are finally starting to talk. So is the author of the piece:

“Because of the model of masculinity I was raised with, it was inspiring to be surrounded by men trying to become more emotionally present. They made me feel excited about the evolution of masculinity, and how it opens up the potential for deeper, more connected relationships… The more we can talk about healthy masculinity and incorporate it into the mainstream conversation, the more men will have space to heal and become authentic. Driving away from Ojai, I left with a plush hotel bathrobe, a purse full of tiny soaps and a newfound empathy for “some men.”

And, if anything, that’s what I want you to take away from this blog, filled with readers who see the world through a different lens. Instead of demonizing them, have some empathy.

Realize that the man who has been burned by women has his reasons to be skeptical, just like you have your reasons to be skeptical. But not until we put our skepticism aside and choose to practice radical empathy will we fix our broken hearts.

To be clear, I’m not encouraging any men to attend a retreat which may be a little touchy-feely for you. But seriously, guys, find a friend to talk to about this stuff. And women, don’t judge men for being more “sensitive artist” than “Marlboro Man.” His sensitivity is what other men lack and what makes him a better partner in the long run.

Your thoughts, below, are greatly appreciated.

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  1. 1
    Yet Another Man


    I have been reading a lot about the male double-bind when it comes to modern relationships lately. It is basically about how men feel like they are in a no-win situation where they have to make a choice between being a good partner by adhering to modern social norms while sacrificing arousal or adhering to a more biologically-driven script where arousal is easy, but relationships and love are not possible. As much as woman say that they hate players, they are drawn like flies to men who exhibit this dominant male behavior and who have the masculine appearance to back it up. My own experiments with modern dating bear this one out. I do much better with women sexually when I don my dominant player persona than when I don my supportive partner persona. This double-bind is a paradox that modern men must learn to overcome, as it is damn near impossible to be both unless a man is partnered with a highly-evolved woman.

    1. 1.2

      Yup. And hopefully those women who were teaching the men at the retreat both know and acknowledge this.   If not, I’m not sure how much value their teaching would hold.   Even keeping in mind the fact that any given woman might want a different balance of comfort versus arousal, it never pays to confuse the two.

      1. 1.2.1
        Emily, to


        “Even keeping in mind the fact that any given woman might want a different balance of comfort versus arousal, it never pays to confuse the two.”

        You’ve written at length about this, and I’ll agree it’s difficult to determine how much any given woman wants in terms of her preferred cocktail of comfort versus arousal. I would argue figuring it out is called dating and weeding out the women who don’t like whatever levels of each quality the man in question provides.   I know you’ll disagree. You experimented with that cocktail in your marriage.

        But here’s the big question: What do men want? What two qualities that exist as polarities do they look for? What do women do to get passed over? Too much of one and not another? Short and sweet. Two qualities.     🙂      Slut versus mother?

        1. Elle 1


          I know you addressed your “two qualities” question to Jeremy, but I can’t help but share Melanie Griffith’s famous line in the bar, to Harrison Ford, in the movie Working Girl: “I have a head for business and a bod for sin.”   And every guy in the theatre swooned. So those appear to be two qualities that work well together!

        2. Jeremy

          Why would you think I’d disagree with that, Emily?   I certainly think that dating is the attempt by both individuals to suss out the right balance of arousal and comfort for themselves in the long-term.   My point in our previous disagreements has been that problems arise when one partner’s mix changes over time.


          What do men want?   Depends on the man, of course.   But IME most men who are looking for marriage want the following:   An attractive woman who arouses them sexually, makes them feel good emotionally, has similar core values, wants a similar lifestyle, and who would make a good mother for his children – a woman he’d want his children to take after in all ways.   As far as Elle 1’s comment, I’m sure a “head for business” is somewhere on the pie chart, but doesn’t occupy all that much real estate.   Thinking that it does is to extrapolate women’s pie chart onto men.

        3. Yet Another Guy


          As far as Elle 1’s comment, I’m sure a “head for business” is somewhere on the pie chart, but doesn’t occupy all that much real estate.   Thinking that it does is to extrapolate women’s pie chart onto men.

          It is amazing how many women believe what Elle 1 believes; however, that is merely projecting female mate qualifiers onto men.   As Jordan Peterson stated in his presentation on “Female Hypergamy and its Impact on Human Evolution,”   women mate across and up dominance hierarchies whereas men mate across and down dominance hierarchies.   Where a woman falls in a dominance hierarchy is not as important to a man as the qualities you listed.   I would add that all of those qualities except for “good mother” apply when a man is my age, divorced, and already has his family.   In that case, I would replace “good mother” with “kind to his children.”

        4. Emily, to


          And every guy in the theatre swooned.

          I have often wondered what made men swoon (beyond just a woman’s physical appearance.)

        5. Emily, to


          An attractive woman who arouses them sexually, makes them feel good emotionally, has similar core values, wants a similar lifestyle, and who would make a good mother for his children — a woman he’d want his children to take after in all ways.    

          Well, that’s pretty much what women want. But I’d say it’s a compromise because it’s a lot to ask for in one person. You’ll get varying degrees of each quality you’re looking for, and how important one is over the other depends on the individual.

        6. Evan Marc Katz

          Except women also want him to be taller, smarter, richer, funnier, have the same hobbies, religion and voting preferences. Therein lies the difference.

        7. S.

          most men who are looking for marriage want the following:   An attractive woman who arouses them sexually, makes them feel good emotionally, has similar core values, wants a similar lifestyle, and who would make a good mother for his children — a woman he’d want his children to take after in all ways.

          There is one thing, a lot of men are not looking for marriage, not directly, at certain times.   Timing matters.   If this person comes along at the wrong time, will he recognize her for what she is and marry her?

          What does the dating man want? What does the non-marriage minded man want?   I know a lot of men over 40 and 50 have been divorced and marriage isn’t what they want.   But they want companionship.   Do they still want the things in a woman they’d want in a spouse?

    2. 1.3

      I need (not just want) some degree of roughness and/or male-dominant D/s behind closed doors for sex to work for me, AND I only seem to be attracted to good men of at least moderate EQ — I definitely think that kink is one potentially healthy tool men can and do use to resolve double-bind you mention.   I mean, in a way the “toppish” half of healthy BDSM IS a matter of donning a dominant or “aggressor” persona (or expressing those actual impulses, if present) without losing control of them to the point that the interaction becomes nonconsensual or completely out of control.

      Hmm… the above may have a lot to do with why I feel drawn to men who are highly conscientious, moderately but not extremely agreeable, and very open to experience.   (Without the conscientiousness they seem more likely to actually harm their partner; without the openness to experience the kink will probably be more a matter of discomfort than of expression; if too much agreeability I’m guessing they’ll end up a service top with no edge; and, if too little, they’ll almost certainly be a crappy partner.   But I’m a software engineer, not a psychologist, so what do I know? 🙂

      1. 1.3.1

        I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of power in sex, particularly because I have absolutely no interest in it.   Reading about BDSM is, to me, like reading about aliens.   I have absolutely zero interest in taking sexual control, nor in being sexually controlled.   No interest in breaking down someone’s walls nor having my own broken down.   And yet, both in my experience and by my reading, a large majority of women do seem to be on the sexually submissive side.   They want to be taken, overcome, overwhelmed – by the right man in the right context.   I have my own theories as to why this is – as does Freud, and as does Esther Perel, one of the teachers in the above article.


        But one thing for women to keep in mind – women who want to “teach” men, women who want relationships with men – keep in mind the difference between generic male fantasy and generic female fantasy.   Generic female fantasy is romance novels where a woman is overcome by overwhelming male desire – a submissive fantasy.   General male fantasy is porn – and in most porn, the woman is the sexual initiator.   In porn, neither the man nor the woman is passive, neither overwhelms the other.   (Most) men do not fantasize about being sexually dominant, their role in female fantasy – any more than most women fantasize about their role in male fantasy.


        I only bring this up here, AdaGrace, because your comment reminded me of another commenter, Karmic Equation, who used to comment on this site.   She used to say that to make women happy, men can be beta in the real world as long as they are alpha in the bedroom.   And her comment was an extension of female fantasy – would indeed make WOMEN happy.   But would it make MEN happy?   Do men fantasize about adopting their role in female fantasy?   Is the solution to the male double-bind for men to adopt a dichotomy that is unnatural for them, or is the solution for women to be less dichotomous?   I’ll hold my breath for either option.


        I have no problem whatsoever with women teaching men….as long as they properly advertise the name of the class.   Is the class “How to make women happy 101,” or “How to be a happy man 101”?   Seems like the former.

        1. Emily, to


          General male fantasy is porn — and in most porn, the woman is the sexual initiator.   In porn, neither the man nor the woman is passive, neither overwhelms the other.    

          I’d also argue the female in porn is pretty aggressive.   So if both sides want the other be the initiator and take control (to an extent) … therein lies the problem. Both sides can’t be the more passive participant.

          And for me, personally, I don’t mind be the initiator some of the time. But I don’t want to do it a majority of the time.

        2. sylvana


          That’s only partially true. Plain, vanilla porn only makes up about 40% of porn, at best. Then there’s a very small amount of female dominant. The majority is male dominant, with around 10-20% of it leading toward extreme male dominance and/or female humiliation.

          And bodice-rippers romance novels (yes, there’s actually a name for it) were huge in the 80s. Not so much anymore nowadays.

          Still, I agree that most women prefer the man to be more of a “take-charge” person in bed. Although I’d argue that most would prefer only mild versions of dominance to come into play.

          BDSM is a rather interesting topic to study. The one thing that most people on the outside do not understand is that it is actually the submissive who is in charge. The dominant merely caters to the submissive’s fantasies. All rules, limits, boundaries, etc. are 100% dictated by the submissive. The dom can push all the way to the edge of the line drawn by the sub, but never cross it.

          That’s the difference between BDSM and abuse.

          “They want to be taken, overcome, overwhelmed — by the right man in the right context.”

          I’d like to hear your theories on this.

          Mine are 1) Less guilt about having sex. It’s been hammered into women for generations that it is “unnatural” or at least a “sin” for them to have sexual desire/needs. If a man gets dominant, they can just let go and enjoy, or they at least do not have to worry about initiating, so they won’t be considered a “slut” or “whore”. 2) It allows a woman to switch to mostly feminine energy. It lets her feel truly feminine. 3) Focus and intensity. His attention is definitely on her. And his high passion makes her feel as if it is for HER. Not just that he’s aroused (whether just because, or because of other women) and wants to get laid – which is the way it usually feels.

          But it’s a bit deceiving, as well. Just because a woman wants to be taken, etc. doesn’t mean she’s actually submissive or will submit. She might actually be very aggressive and demanding while being taken. It’s not always about being submissive, but often about simply wanting a good pounding, or letting out your inner “slut” (who most women always feel they have to hide). For sexually dominant women, it’s a way to “control” the man. You spur him on until he’s near mad with desire. Oh, the power.

        3. AdaGrace

          I’ve tried to reply to this twice, at length, and have been foiled both times by my browser and the backspace key interacting suboptimally. So I’m going to re-re-write this, probably not as well as the first or second attempt:

          – I never suggested that BDSM was a good tool for all men or even a lot of them, merely one possible tool.   When it comes to people stuff, it’s rare that one solution is right for everyone.   I found this article that points out that male doms are more prevalent than male subs in most of the studies cited, which matches my observations from going to clubs and participating in online fora.   However, the article itself mentions possible biases of the cited studies, plus folks actively involved in BDSM don’t necessarily distribute the way the general population does, and club/forum participation (i.e. social presentation of D and/or s orientation) may not accurately reflect true orientation/fantasies all that accurately.

          – The kind of BDSM I seem to respond to does not involve passivity on my part; it involves me taking a ton of responsibility for communicating my boundaries, gray areas, and maybe a few things I like in order to give my partner as large an area of “things we could do” space within which he can do whatever he wants, at the pace and level he wants, without me (probably) having to safeword.   It’s the most power and control I can reasonably grant a person over me.   While we’re playing, it’s my responsibility to meet the needs he expresses, communicate if something feels off, give him clear (though frequently nonverbal) information as to the effect his actions are having, and (increasingly, with time) trust that he has my best interests at heart as well as his own.   That’s absolutely *not* a passive thing.   Requiring that a specific thing happen at X time with Y intensity is certainly valid too, and there are times when I certainly feel that way, but tbh, not very often, because the very process of determining the specific what/when/how much is usually a turnoff.   This actually looks a lot like “feminine energy” as Evan puts it (I prefer to think of it as “receptivity” or similar since I know a lot of couples who work the opposite way and since outside of the bedroom I’m far more balanced in this sense than inside it).

          – I’ve dated two men who were specifically into BDSM because of the “double bind” YAG spoke of.   In one case, the man in question was a therapist so I’m guessing he probably had a pretty good sense of his own motivations, at least as much of any of us can.   (Some of what we were doing would probably be considered pretty hardcore and probably not fuel for most women’s fantasies but since I’m the only woman whose head I’ve ever been in, I could be quite wrong 🙂 )   So I know it definitely works that way for *some* men.

          – While male submission (or bottoming?   passivity?) fantasies are certainly interesting, in a practical sense I *can’t* dominate/top/aggress/strongly initiate and still experience the physiological changes that make intercourse tolerable, let alone enjoyable.   Previous sentence not hyperbole, sadly.   A guy who needs that, or who needs consistently vanilla bedroom behavior, isn’t a viable dating prospect for me, period.   For me that wouldn’t be a compromise, it’d be (and has been, in the past) a recipe for disaster.   Fortunately I don’t need *much* dominance in a sexual setting — while more seems to be better, I *do* seem to be able to compromise on the amount of it, just not on whether or not it’s consistently present.

        4. sylvana


          I think people who did not make a point to actually study the actual BDSM or simple dominance/submission dynamic have a hard time understanding what it is truly like. There are so many misconceptions when it comes to this.

          The one thing I would have to say is that a true, very good dominant man can arouse and get just about any women into bed. Because if there is one thing he knows, it’s how to find and play on a woman’s sexual triggers – whatever they may be.

          So I completely agree with you that men can learn a lot from BDSM dynamics, and that it definitely is a good tool. At least when it comes to women and sex.

        5. Nissa

          Yeah, what Emily TO said! The women in porn (from what I remember) are quite aggressive and initiate, even to the degree that they brush aside any objections (maybe I’ve only seen pre MeToo porn). And, Jeremy, why ARE the men silent?

          This is particularly interesting to me because it formed part of my bias when I was younger, that I truly believed that was what men wanted. But my direct, personal experience contradicted that the majority of the time. In fact, it only worked with very shy, insecure men who wanted me to be in charge of the relationship and who liked my calling, planning and paying. It took me a long time to figure out why those didn’t work for me and I completely changed my dating habits.

          But it always surprises me here when men object so much to calling, planning and paying as Evan encourages. I’m not saying men are bad people for objecting. I’m saying, it surprises me, because I see it as something very much inside the man’s control. You get to choose where, when, how, how much. And when dated my husband, he seemed to get pleasure from doing these things for me – even if he was taking me to Taco Bell, it made him feel good. He liked it, it made him happy, it made me happy. So I see it as consistent with Evan’s premise of doing things that make men feel good (for all those things that fall within my Venn diagram of what I am willing to offer, physically or otherwise).

          Now that I’m older, I find that men are so hesitant – even the ones that have contacted me online, I gave them my number, and they called me. Over several phone calls, most of them just seemed lonely and wanted to talk. For HOURS. Which I would have minded less if it seemed like it had something to do with me personally…which it mostly didn’t. I felt like a random warm body (ear?) to provide comfort. None of them seemed excited about much of anything – not the prospect of meeting me, or even their own lives.

          My impression is that most people just want others to meet their needs, because they don’t know how to do it themselves.

        6. Emily, to

          Yeah, what Emily TO said! The women in porn (from what I remember) are quite aggressive and initiate … This is particularly interesting to me because it formed part of my bias when I was younger, that I truly believed that was what men wanted.
          Me, too.
          In fact, it only worked with very shy, insecure men who wanted me to be in charge of the relationship and who liked my calling, planning and paying. It took me a long time to figure out why those didn’t work for me and I completely changed my dating habits.
          How did you change your habits? I have found, with only a couple of exceptions, that even the ones who initiate in terms of calling and wanting to go out tend to be hesitant sexually. So I’ve either had to kick things off myself or had to make it very, very obvious that all systems were go on my end.

        7. Nissa

          Emily TO.

          Here’s what I used to do: Proactively approach (smile,chat), ask them out to a date I came up with, agree to go Dutch or pay for both, call (this was before texting), and repeat.

          Now: Approach (get close, smile, only circumstantial small talk) or online (wink or other interest marker, but don’t email directly). Never initiate, response only. Never ask them out. If they ask me, say yes to whatever they suggest, even if it makes me internally roll my eyes.

          However: most of them take multiple phone calls to get to this. Most of the time, they end up being either not a match for me. The ONE that seemed ok, didn’t ask over 5 phone calls, each over an hour.   In case he was shy, I offered 3 dates that I would be available to meet, and clarified that I didn’t need an expensive dinner, but was interested in meeting in person. He made excuses and finally said: “I just need a few more phone calls”. Mind you, he was texting me every few days, sometimes multiple times in a day to say random things, like “thinking of you”.

          I do not understand this behavior, but on our last call, told him: if you are in my area and want to meet in person, give me a call. He hasn’t called since, just texts me randomly.

          On the plus side, I’m no longer chasing men who have little to no interest in me.

        8. Emily, to

          The ONE that seemed ok, didn’t ask over 5 phone calls, each over an hour. … Mind you, he was texting me every few days, sometimes multiple times in a day to say random things, like “thinking of you”.
          A phone call or two is enough time for him to decide if he wants to meet up. I wouldn’t text or take his phone calls after that. (I’m not big on texting to begin with.) Seems like he just wants attention, and there are men who will continue to want the attention with no intention of meeting or meeting very seldom. Seems like a lot of wasted energy on his part.

    3. 1.4

      Why does dominant have to equal player? I’m not understanding how the two are related. There’s dominant, and there’s player. Plenty of weaker/non-dominant players exist as well. A player is a player – no matter his rank in the dominance scale, or ability to lead or overpower others.

      So the answer is simple. Be a good/positive dominant – one who is trustworthy, reliable, supportive – a leader. One who uses his dominant traits for good purposes. Not an untrustworthy bully or insecure jerk.

      It’s no different than in any other relationship you have, including your role at work. Do people trust and respect you because you are good at leading or being in charge, and have proven yourself trustworthy. Or do people fear you and do what you say because you are ruthless, bowl everyone over, but no one really really likes, trusts, or respects you?

      1. 1.5.1


        interesting read. But essentially, it’s just the male equivalent of the same problem women are facing.

        Who do women need to be – the hot slut (who inspired high sexual desire in him, rather than just being and outlet for his desire), or the “good girl” wife and mother type?

        It’s near impossible to combine the two, since we’re talking about two totally different personalities. And even if a woman has both qualities, she’ll always have to swing one way or the other, depending on the situation.

        What do we tell women? Basically to deal with the fact that she’s “doable”, and his desire, lust, etc. will always be focused on the hot/sexy/gorgeous/beautiful women.

        I guess the advise for men is the same. Be the guy who is a good partner, and deal with the fact that you won’t be arousing high desire in women.

        I guess it all depends on what you value more: A relationship, or sex.
        To me, I was an easy choice. There’s no way I’ll ever turn all sweet and domesticated. And I can’t imagine a greater nightmare than to become a mother.

        For both sexes who want relationships, it comes down to finding the right balance between the two. And to try and use as many positive qualities of the two different characters as possible.

        In general, though, I wonder if this is more of a problem in certain social classes or work fields. In my circle of friends (who are pretty much all male), and extended work circles, the men are mostly physical workers (builders, suppliers, etc.). And they’re all as quick to flirt as ever (both in serious and “fun amongst friends” ways). And they don’t have any problems approaching women, or trying to get laid. They simply watch people’s reactions, and adjust accordingly.

        I often associate upper level office people with being “fake” (no offense, it just seems that way). So, while I could definitely tell if they don’t like something, I can honestly say it seems harder to figure out what they DO like. I wonder if that comes into play when trying to date. If you clearly get the negative, but can’t manage to get a clear positive response, you really have no guidelines in how to proceed.

        1. Marika

          Absolutely, sylvana.

          Some of the guys seem to think that we can’t relate. We too get mixed messages from men about what they want. We hear from them that they want to be understood & accepted, but then see them taking for granted the kind, cool, giving woman to chase hot & crazy. We see them clearly being turned on by porn and then wonder if that’s what they want us to be like in the bedroom. We worry that they may lose attraction to us and desire for us, or may be with us for the wrong reasons, particularly when they subtly but not so subtly check out other women. We want to be desired, of course,  just like them.

          There’s a real flavour of ‘you can’t possibly understand us’, but much of what they are describing are human needs and fears. Not male.

          Your point below about it apparently all being about sex – and that’s no revelation  – is also spot on.

      2. 1.5.2

        Conclusion: We are in a very difficult time in history right now. It is a social flux period, where many men (and women) are not satisfied socially and biologically.

        Gosh, Yet Another Guy. That ended on a rather dire note.

        The beginning was interesting.

        my hypothesis that women are stuck in a double-bind between what they are told through modern social norms and their own biological motivation.

        I don’t feel stuck between those things. Hmm.   And I’m pretty self-aware.   Would be hard to read this blog for so many years and not be.

        Here is from the article why women can’t find good men that’s linked there.

        Unfortunately, however, many of those “culturally undesirable” male traits are similar and overlapping with the traits that are biologically “attractive.”

        It’s so interesting what’s ‘culturally’. Whose culture? I always ask that question. There is always some assumption that we are all of one culture, all socialized exactly the same way.   Why am I attracted to those male traits?   Why are other women not?   I don’t know.   It’s sometimes hard to participate in discussions about the ‘majority’ when the basics of how I’m wired seem to differ–at least on this blog.   Not with my friends and in my community. This is an odd space sometimes which is why I am mostly an observer here.   But fortunately not in real life.

        I was actually discussing this last night and a woman told me, well, more for you! And that great! If most women find these traits undesirable and I find them desirable (and by desirable I mean hot, sexually attractive, men I want to go to bed with) then that leaves more men for me, I guess!   I’m choosing to see this as a positive.

        I am finding men with a leetle more edge (not as much as Evan describes) lately.   And it’s just enough difference.   So yay, me!

  2. 2
    No Name To Give

    A body poetess?

  3. 3

    I’ve recently come across Bettina Arndt’s work and find it very refreshing, particularly the one about the politics of cleavage.

    There is a pendulum.

  4. 4

    This is what I was trying to get at in a previous post about love languages. In the source article, the author describes her Mad Men type dad, whom she loved but never felt close to. She implies that she would prefer a man to whom she can feel emotional closeness.   But will that closeness lead to desire??   It’s an important question because to her love might mean closeness while to him love might mean desire. His being emotionally open might result in HER feeling greater love, but we’ll it result in his feeling greater love, or lesser? And did the author even consider the question, or did she assume that everyone feels love through closeness   and that desire necessarily results from closeness? Both of those assumptions are wrong, so wrong.

    1. 4.1


      interesting question. To me, desire has absolutely nothing to do with love. You can express love through desire, but desire is not love. It’s lust.

      The difference between romantic love and love in general (for a family member, a friend, etc.), however, is desire to me. Love combined with a good amount desire of equals romantic love – or at least makes romantic love possible.

      That being said (given that desire is present to establish romantic love), desire does not result in me feeling greater love (it has no influence on level of love). Only in feeling greater or lesser lust. Level of love depends on what kind of person he is, and how he treats me and others. No matter how much desire/lust there is, and how good the sex is, if the rest doesn’t work, the relationship would quickly turn sexual only, – with any type of love, or even like soon disappearing. Then again, I don’t have to like someone to have great sex with him.

      1. 4.1.1
        Emily, to


        To me, desire has absolutely nothing to do with love. You can express love through desire, but desire is not love. It’s lust.

        I agree. I’ve had male friends I’ve probably loved after getting to know them but that didn’t make me want them. There wasn’t any kind of feeling of desire there, and getting to know them or growing fond of them didn’t change that. And on the flip side of that, how often have you lusted after someone, been completely infatuated, only to find after the fervor cooled … there was no there there? Not much else going on.

        1. Tron Swanson


          Regarding your first two sentences: that’s why I’ll always focus on a physical connection over anything based on emotion or compatibility. Women told me that they wanted men who formed emotional bonds with them, and I tried that, but it didn’t accomplish what I wanted it to. Sexual interest is an easy, yes/no question, something most people know immediately. No point in wasting time trying to develop some nebulous bond that won’t lead to sex anyway.

        2. sylvana


          I rather much have to agree with you here. And this is the problem when thinking that women are so much different than men, and focusing mostly on her being the emotional gender.

          You can provide her with everything she needs emotionally (provide for her, support her, make her feel comfortable and safe), and you’ll end up getting a good friend out of it.

          It might inspire a woman who is on the fence to trust enough to have sex, but in itself, it won’t be enough to keep her engines revving – especially not in the long run. Since none of the above are remotely sexually related.

          Since sex is the most important quality to me in relationships, I can totally relate to men in this regard.

          So we need to quit claiming that women and men are so much different from each other, and realize that the genders simply have different sexual triggers. (Which technically is true for everyone, regardless of gender).

          That does not mean that emotional triggers replace sexual triggers in women.

  5. 5

    It’s a very interesting topic. And one that always somewhat baffled me.

    What I don’t understand is this: Why do so many people seem to think that dominant/in charge equals asshole, and emotional/supportive equals weak? Whatever happened to the healthy middle?

    Why can people not tell the difference between the idiot who starts a fight for no reason, and the man who responds/steps in, finishes it with one punch, because he’s protecting those weaker than him (or just those around him)? Both of those men have dominant traits. Both men are willing to fight. But one is using his aggression in a nasty way, the other uses his aggression for good. Why? Because he (unlike the first one) is empathetic, and in touch with the “emotional” side of things. He has inherent KINDNESS.

    Or the difference between being trustworthy and not afraid to be in charge, and browbeating and bullying or threatening people?

    Or the above mentioned dominant player or supportive guy. Um…what happened to the dominant supportive guy who’s not a player?

    Cold and unfeeling can be dominant. But dominant does not equal cold and unfeeling. Combine dominant with empathy, compassion, and kindness, and you have an absolutely wonderful person. All the leaders who make a difference in the world for the good are these types of people. Highly compassionate coupled with high dominance.

    Dominant in a relationship simply means you make her feel (emotionally and physically) safe and secure enough to allow her to be vulnerable and softer. Allow her to be a woman, to stay in the feminine energy. To make it possible for her to do so, if she wants to. Rather than forcing her to be/stay in charge because you won’t be.

    And no, that does not mean chase every skirt, slap her around, and order her back to the stove. That’s not allowing or making it possible. That’s forcing.

    So dominance only means you create the opportunity for her to relax and let down her guard. To make it safe for her to do so. To be open and to “receive”.   Without feeling guilty or owing something in return.

    And a dominant person who is also confident generally doesn’t have a problem admitting or showing that they feel. Because worrying about others possibly thinking you weaker if you admitted or showed it is the opposite of confidence.


    1. 5.1

      Hi Sylvana; Merry Christmas.

      You make a lot of good points. Here in the states we use words very loosely so don’t always take our exact wording at face value.

      You asked, “Why do so many people seem to think that dominant/in charge equals asshole, and emotional/supportive equals weak?

      They don’t; at least they didn’t when they were younger. Sometimes I honestly can’t tell how much of our dating advice/views come from honest observations about human courtship and how much comes from people being reactionary due to past “personal” hurts, betrayals, disappointments, and pains associated with relationships.

      People can say all the discouraging things they want about the 18-30 “young” dater but at least they aren’t so negatively tarnished when it comes to love and dating.

      1. 5.1.1

        Hi Adrian,

        Merry Christmas to you too!

        I think you have a good point there as well. Personal experience certainly does play a big role in how people see others. I work with animals (horses and dogs), so I tend to view dominance in a more natural light. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with (and have friends) who are extremely dominant, but use it as a strength to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.

        Overall, my experience in life has always taught me that the dominant ones (human or animal) are the ones who keep the bullies and assholes in line. And the ones who protect others. And the ones who are dominant and very confident have no problems admitting to having feelings.

  6. 6

    His sensitivity is what other men lack and what makes him a better partner in the long run.

    Absolutely. 🙂   I’ve actually found some really nice men out there.   I’ve been attracted to the ones I dated, particularly if they were attracted to me.   But the sensitivity is key for me.   I don’t know if I’m in the minority.   Maybe.   But not in my small corner of a big city. I’ve also found different people in the mindfulness and spiritual community.   The word ‘fluidity’ is now part of my vocabulary.

    There are degrees.   I don’t have a number on a split.   50/50, 60/40? I don’t have numbers!   🙂   But in meeting real men I see the nuances between them. It really gave me back my faith in men.   And heck, I don’t have to date every nice man I meet even if we are strongly attracted to one another.

    I think men are hungry to talk about these things and I hope they find spaces to do so.

  7. 7

    “who arouses them sexually”

    I think it’s unfair to say women want so much more (funnier, smarter, richer etc.) when I think a lot of that goes into what arouses in first place. For example, for men looks is often a high bar.   No amount of smart or rich will raise it.   I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who wish that their smarts or wealth would raise the arousal level.   And there are probably many men that wish those factors didn’t go into it.   At the same time, I know many men who feel lucky that those qualities that they have and can get at least in terms of wealth will raise the attraction level for them because if it was just looks they wouldn’t be able to get the women as attractive as they want. I think it’s just more complicated than it’s being made out to be.   And in some ways fair/unfair to both genders, not that women just expect more.

    1. 7.1

      I recall a conversation we had (assuming you are the same “K”) about the role of wealth and status in female attraction – whether affluent women would date down, status-wise, if men would be willing to fulfill the traditional female role in the relationship.   Your response at that time was that as a young woman you wouldn’t have appreciated that sort of man (ie. would not have been aroused by him, nor attracted to a relationship with him), whereas as a mature affluent women you might better appreciate such a man.   I asked, at that time, what you meant by “appreciate.”   Did you mean that you’d be AROUSED by such a man, or that you’d find a relationship with such a man ATTRACTIVE?   Because there’s all the difference in the world between those 2 choices, especially from the male perspective where arousal forms so much of what we tend to think of as “love,” forms so much of the pie chart of what we need to be happy in relationships (desire, not necessarily sex).


      I bring this up again because I think it’s relevant to the current discussion.   The male double-bind isn’t due to the fact that women want “more.”   It’s due to the fact that women (IME) have a much harder time distinguishing what they find arousing from what they find attractive, and that after years of marriage (IME) the difference between the two tends to matter much more to men than women, which is why women often don’t understand why their advice to men isn’t necessarily good.

      1. 7.1.1

        Yep same K.   I’m not sure, as I am now in a relationship with someone who is probably technically lower status, in that my career is more prestigious, earns more, and my overall wealth is likely more.   Nonetheless he is still an ambitious professional man and we can understand each others worlds, which helps.   I’m both aroused by him and find him attractive.   He’s definitely more helpful around the house, but I could not see him as a stay at home dad type and he’s still very traditional in a lot of male role ways.   I’m trying to follow Evan’s general guidance in that I’m attracted to him and being treated better than I have ever in my life.   The status stuff I’m hopefully past caring about at this point in my life.     Of course as you often point out if there are children involved in the future much of this can get more complicated.

        1. Jeremy

          Thanks for your reply, and glad to hear you are in a good relationship.   Your post brought something to my mind which I hope does not apply to you, but definitely applies to Evan’s general audience.    I’ve written before that certain challenges in relationships are very predictable if one knows where to look.   Couples who differ on how they view money will argue about money.   Couples who differ in whether they want children will argue about children.   And, pertinent to this discussion, couples who differ on how they view masculinity will argue about masculinity….without necessarily realizing that that’s what they are doing.


          What does the man feel makes him a man?   What does the woman feel makes a man a man?   When relationships are new, no one thinks about this because dopamine levels are high, attraction/arousal is high, and there is a haze of chemistry and newness. But when the dust settles and dopamine calms, arousal only remains when there is a reason for it to remain.   The woman must find the man to be manly (whatever that means to HER), the man must feel admired by the woman specifically for his manliness (whatever that means to HIM).


          Different men invest their sexuality into all sorts of things.   Their physique, their craftiness, their strength, their sense of direction (I kid you not)….but many traditionally-minded men invest in their intelligence/status/wealth.   For such men, being with a woman who earns more is like being with a woman who is better at being a man than he is.   And for some women, their idea of masculinity is also tied up in those same factors, so being with a man who earns less is like being in a situation where she is more of a man than he is.


          The only reason I bring this up is because it relates to the conversation above about considering not only what makes women happy, but also what makes men happy.   In relationships where the woman makes more, both she and he must consider masculinity to mean something other than providership.   If even one of them conflates the two, the relationship will not be a happy one in the long-term.   It’s not that such relationships can’t work, it’s that the thing that makes them fail is predictable in prospect….if one knows where to look.   My sister makes more than her husband.   She considers manliness to mean muscles.   He considers it the ability to fix things around the house.   The fact that she earns more has absolutely no impact on how she sees him as a man, the fact that he earns less has no impact on his ability to feel admired by her as a man.

      2. 7.1.2

        Hi Jeremy,

        You said, “women (IME) have a much harder time distinguishing what they find arousing from what they find attractive

        Do you mind explaining this please? It seems very nuanced. I can’t image a women having attraction towards a man but not finding him arousing.

        I acknowledge that you can find someone “attractive” but not be “attracted” to them; so is that what you meant? To men both “attraction” and arousal = sexual desire.    


        1. Jeremy

          Hi Adrian. I meant the difference between finding the man himself sexually desirable versus finding him desirable as a relationship partner. If affluence was a sexually arousing quality, we would all believe that Melania can’t get enough of Donald.   Yet how many women when searching online for a partner, consider income to be one of the most important considerations? Arousing or attractive? The difference being, if it is arousing the woman will remain aroused by it in the future   whereas if only attractive the woman might want to remain in a relationship because of it, but ain’t necessarily look forward to the sex. Again, consider Melania.

        2. sylvana


          I think that is pretty much what it boils down to. Some men or some traits are attractive, other men or other traits are arousing. One does not necessarily equal or guarantee the other.

          I think the problem in relationships is not so much distinguishing between the two, but rather trying to find a good combination of the two.

        3. Adrian

          Hi Jeremy; Merry Christmas.

          You said, “  If affluence was a sexually arousing quality, we would all believe that Melania can’t get enough of Donald

          Ah, thanks now this makes sense. Do you believe most women mistake comfort for arousal or do you believe most women willing sacrifice “medium and high” arousal for comfort?… I mean as long as the man meets their base line level of sex appeal.

          You said, “Yet how many women when searching online for a partner, consider income to be one of the most important considerations?

          The reasons for this aren’t simple, nor black and white. Besides don’t you think a financially secure woman would place a man she finds highly sexually desirable (arousal) before the man that is wealthier or has a higher status job than her?


        4. Emily, to


          Besides don’t you think a financially secure woman would place a man she finds highly sexually desirable (arousal) before the man that is wealthier or has a higher status job than her?


        5. Evan Marc Katz

          NO. That’s why I have a job. I have to talk most women into that position.

        6. Emily, to


          The women who are concerned about a man’s status are status conscious themselves. Most of the women I know would recognize they’d hit the lottery if they met a man they were attracted to, compatible with and who wanted a relationship with them. His status, if a factor at all, would be a minor consideration, losing out to the other factors. But these are women who are not looking to have kids and who can support themselves.

        7. sylvana


          A highly sexually desirable man when it comes to arousal would be a 9 at the very least, if not a 10. At the very least, there’d be 9 or 10 sexual chemistry.

          I don’t think women would have a problem giving up on the higher earner requirement for those kind of men. But the problem is that (most) of those kind of men do not make good relationship partners.

          The problem is more that women have to give up both the higher earner requirement and the high chemistry/sexual attraction. And look for the highest level of compatibility instead.

          If it was just a matter of income vs sex appeal, you wouldn’t have so many women having problems.

  8. 8
    Elle 1

    Jeremy, Emily

    The movie Working Girl was made (gasp) 30 years ago. The line “I have a head for business and a bod for sin” was quite provocative because it was such a direct thing for a woman to say back then. She was owning her own sexuality and sexual desire in a way that most women were socialized to keep more under wraps back then.

    It was a flirty scene with Harrison Ford. Just reading the line on its own does not do it justice out of context.

    The implication with the “head for business part” was not that she embodied male aspects that women are attracted to in men, that men are not looking for in women, but I can understand why Jeremy interpreted it that way. Rather, she was saying in a teasing way, I’ve got brains and I can be a mental challenge for you.

    That is what Sherry Argov describes so well in her book Why Men Love Bitches, with Bitch standing for a Babe In Total Control of Herself.

    These days, a different kind of come on line would probably light men’s fire.

    I am curious about come on lines that have been very effective or totally ineffective for the guys who post here? What flirty thing has a woman said/done that made you swoon? Emily and the rest of the gals are waiting to hear from you.

    1. 8.1

      I saw the movie when it came out,   Elle 🙂   men, in general, aren’t looking to be mentally challenged by their girlfriends/wives. That’s a female desire. I know a lot of women have a hard time believing this. That doesn’t mean we don’t want smart women or interesting conversation, it means we don’t find being challenged arousing the way so many women do.


      The most effective flirty line my wife used on me when we were dating was at the end of our first date : “I feel like we have a lot to talk about   You should call me”

    2. 8.2
      Emily, to


      I am curious about come on lines that have been very effective or totally ineffective for the guys who post here? What flirty thing has a woman said/done that made you swoon? Emily and the rest of the gals are waiting to hear from you.

      The operative word being SWOON. Not just that you were game to have sex. But what did she say or do that jacked it up a notch and you said, “Wow. This is gonna be hot.”?

      For example, one time I went over a guy’s apartment for a first-time hookup and he said, as I was walking in the front door, “Why don’t you come in here?” Meaning his bedroom. So we didn’t sit and make bullshit conversation in the living room for way too long before someone finally a move. I thought: Damn. This guy knows what he wants and it doesn’t make him nervous. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

  9. 9
    Mrs Happy

    Surnow’s article (written by a woman) contemplates how masculinity is considered, and how men navigate the world, work, love, life.   Attendees said they went to the retreat to become better men.   Discussions covered, among other interesting topics, the sad repression of feelings society asks of males.   Esther the (female) speaker concludes men are starved of opportunities for meaningful conversation.

    So I thought when I scrolled down to Evan’s comments section there would be a fascinating series of revelations from men about being male, what that means, how they experience life; deep, important, widespread issues would arise.

    Instead, almost every one of the comments has been about sex.   Along the lines of ‘how do I get more sex’, or ‘I can’t get the sex I want so I don’t bother emotionally connecting anymore’, or ‘men can’t get varied interesting sex with a stream of new women plus simultaneously be in a long term relationship so have to choose and that’s a difficult choice with losses either way’.

    Now all of these themes are valid and I’m grateful to the men who post so honestly and openly here.   I don’t think any of them are at the extreme ends of sexual need, I suspect they represent the average male’s attitude to sex w.r.t. frequency, variety, desire, etc.   They are just fairly normal guys in this regard.   Some are above average in their ability to consider and communicate, but otherwise, standard people.   My conclusion: what they post is what is most important to the sexually-average male.

    But what this means is that there is a huge disjunction between what I (an average woman) even thought about when reading the source article and Evan’s piece, what topics the (female) speaker Esther was canvassing, and what men actually want.   Because all the philosophical musings in the world about masculinity and role and feelings and communication and the various politically correct societal movements don’t matter one bit, compared to ‘will this get me more sex’, if the slant of the comments so far is to be respected.

    That is the disconnect.   It’s so huge.

    1. 9.1
      Emily, to

      Mrs. Happy,

      My conclusion: what they post is what is most important to the sexually-average male.

      I would argue that the male comments on this site slant toward the very intellectual.   So average? Idk

      1. 9.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        I meant, the men who post here are probably sexually average, not intellectually average.

        1. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          Well, I meant that the “average” man may be less intellectual than the posters here, more operating for the gut and the undercarriage, so perhaps even more sex-focused ??

      2. 9.1.2
        Mrs Happy

        Emily, to:

        As an aside, and I ask because of your undercarriage comment: in your experience, are less intellectual or less formally educated men, more sexual/different in bed, compared with smarter men?

        By a trillion miles, the best lover I’ve ever had, was the only non-professional I’ve ever slept with.   Gosh he was meltingly memorable.   He was from the other side of the world, but now (would you believe it) lives a 15 minute drive from me.   (I should send Marika his number; even if now married with 6 kids I’m sure he wouldn’t mind the ego boost of a random phone call from a woman saying “I’ve heard you’re phenomenal in bed, are you busy Friday?”)   But I digress.   (Though it’s hard not to, recalling him.)

        1. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,
          As an aside, and I ask because of your undercarriage comment: in your experience, are less intellectual or less formally educated men, more sexual/different in bed, compared with smarter men?
          I don’t think so.   But I do think some men process the world very intellectually; some by instinct. The super intellectual stuff probably triggers me. I was raised by it on both sides. Makes me recoil a bit.
          By a trillion miles, the best lover I’ve ever had, was the only non-professional I’ve ever slept with.   Gosh he was meltingly memorable.  
          I’ve slept with both non-professional and professional men. No big difference.

        2. Marika

          Haha. Why not? 😉


    2. 9.2

      Yes, I totally agree Mrs Happy.   The disconnect is huge, because women just can’t imagine that men are not like them, have different motivations – as I tried to convey during our discussion about Freud, months ago.   Sex is not men’s only motivator (of course) but it is one of the prime motivators – much more for men than women.   If you want to understand what it’s like from (what I imagine is) the female perspective, imagine a childless woman in her mid 30s, aching to have a child.   Making all kinds of rash decisions because she wants a child so badly.   It affects her career, her relationship decisions, her life path, it is constantly on her mind.   Yet women are lucky enough to really only suffer from this weird sort of dementia for a decade or so.   Men have it from puberty to past middle-age.   It is our motivator for so much of what we do.


      The brains of women release oxytocin during emotional conversation – they feel pleasure when connecting.   Men lack this response, male brains do not release oxytocin when conversing.   They release oxytocin during sex.   Men enjoy conversing with their partner – it makes us feel closer and happier….once oxytocin is already in our system, not before.   Given this, why would women think that emoting in isolation would give men pleasure as it does them?   And especially when that emoting REDUCES their chance of being sexually desired (as I recall you once said it did for you – no more crying guys, right?)


      I would like to live in a world where men are free to express their emotional selves – their full emotional selves, including their anxiety and insecurities – without women considering them unattractive.   But I do not live in such a world.   The author of the article stated that a group of men expressing their emotions is her sexual fantasy…..yet went home weepy and contemplative, not horny.   Conflation of attraction and arousal.   Conflation of “what I want” with “what turns me on.”   How on earth can women hope to teach men when they refuse to understand us at all, or even understand themselves?


      1. 9.2.1

        How on earth can women hope to teach men when they refuse to understand us at all, or even understand themselves?

        I think the question is age old: who gets to understand who first.   One of the first thing a girl in this culture learns, about when she is 10 or 11 years old, is how much men and boys want sex. Whether it’s explicitly stated, whether it’s from TV or culture, whether it’s dodging attempts at abuse, whether it’s this nebulous thing to be further defined later, girls and women learn this lesson.

        I don’t think women don’t know this.   I know for me, my opinion and experience is different.   I didn’t yearn for a child in my 30s at all.   Not one iota.   And I think I desire the sexually undesirable men or to put a spin on how Mrs. Happy put it, the sexually unaverage man.   But my opinion is largely ignored here no matter how many times I state it.   I’m still a woman, though.

        And that’s what it’s like sometimes to be a woman.   No one hears.   Or they hear and don’t believe or think you don’t know yourself well.   You should have seen how many people though that baby fever would catch me.   Hey, maybe it will but even if it does it still would be way, way past the time when it hit a lot of other women. Still different.

        I embrace it.   Vive la difference. 😉   But I think if a man I date wants me to acknowledge how important sex is in his life, then wouldn’t I want him to acknowledge how much how different I am (not just about sex) played and will play a part in my life?

        So who goes first?   Who supports who where they are first?   Where do men and women meet in the middle? Sometimes the disconnect seems too big to bridge, honestly.   But women understand it and see it but it seems like two very differently cultured groups of folks calling to one another across a wide river, and of course, misunderstandings ensue.

        Men are like, I was a good guy and I was emotional and I still didn’t get sex! Okay, that one girl over there would give me sex, but after her (yes, I had sex with her) I want the other girl to want me.   And women are like, I gave sex, I gave him everything, and nope, no relationship, no safety, it didn’t win his heart which is the prize, so what’s the point of going through all of this over and over where I don’t feel safe or heard or understood.

        I wish men would understand women first.   I hope that’s why men are going to these conferences.   I hold out hope that they will.   I hold out hope that it’s not just to learn to how to get laid–important as that is to men–because I know that men have other needs as well and some really want to understand women, just to understand women.   I have empathy for them and I root for them because these are the men I meet and love.

        And, if anything, that’s what I want you to take away from this blog, filled with readers who see the world through a different lens. Instead of demonizing them, have some empathy.

        I hope they have empathy for me too.   I think it’s the only way.   Each group can row across the river and meet in the middle.   Empathy.   I’m not sensing it much in the comments here this Christmas Day 2018.   I’m trying to extend it first, in my own way.   We’ll see.

      2. 9.2.2


        You’re right. There is a total disconnect. But it’s not that women think men are just like them. Most women actually DO believe that men are all about sex.

        The disconnect is that men want women to stop believing that they’re all about sex, then – when given a chance to express other needs – it boils right back down to being all about sex, after all. We’re trying to find ways to validate you in other ways, only to be told that all the other ways circle back around to sex.

        So basically, men are complaining that women had the right idea all along. Sex it is.

        The part about oxytocin is interesting. I never knew that about women’s brains. Personally, I’ve never experienced any sort of oxytocin release during any type of conversation. But I get an extreme high from arousal and any type of sexual stimulation. Then again, I’m wired like a man. But it does explain why women tend to always want to talk and have conversations, and I just want to escape.   To me, there’s nothing more exhausting than listening to women talk.

        Desire, being the form of love that has eluded the average man for his whole life, the sun around which he has orbited but rarely (or never) touched.   Without the desire, the sex is meaningless.  

        This baffles me. Are you talking about being sexually desired? About causing arousal in women? Because if yes, you’ve just described just about every woman out there, except maybe the ones who don’t like sex, the few 9s and 10s, or strippers and cam show girls (who are in the business of arousing desire). Shoot, even if it’s not sexual, it’s still identical to what women need.

        True, the average woman can get laid rather easily. But there’s a huge difference between a man desiring HER and a man desiring sex, and she’s attractive enough, so she’ll do. And women are well-aware of that difference.

        I think this is the root problem of why so many women have such issues with their men watching other hot women, porn, strippers, etc. Because it’s obvious he desires those women, but when it comes to her, he desires sex. It think this also plays a role in marriages that go sexless.

        I think the biggest disconnect is that men are thinking that women are that much different from them.

        The only real difference I see is that most women tend to need to feel desired before they have sex. Men can and need to have sex whether they feel desired or not.

        1. Jeremy

          After reading the comments here, I feel like I’ve failed to express the point I’ve been trying so hard to make.   Many of the female commenters have written that it seems all things come back to sex for men, and that is not what I’ve written.   It comes back to LOVE.   To the difference between how people perceive love.   S. Wrote that women need to feel safe, heard and understood in order to feel love, and I agree.   Men OTOH, need to feel accepted, appreciated and admired/desired to feel love.   Not the same!   What one gender (generally) perceives as love is not the same mix as what the other gender does.   We use the same word, but it does not mean the same thing!   The assumption that if only men would be more open emotionally they would be happier and better able to love and be loved is fallacious unless there is already an underlying presence of what men perceive as love – not necessarily sex! – acceptance, appreciation, admiration/desire.   Not safe, heard, and understood.


          I am certain that most of the female commenters here believe that if men were more open emotionally, they might feel safer, more heard, more understood.   That certainly seems like what the author of the article thought.   Is that why you think it should make men happier?   Or do you believe that being more open emotionally will lead men to being more Accepted by women, Appreciated by women, Admired/Desired by women?   In other words, loved by women in a way that is meaningful to men, not women?


          If the point of the seminar was simply to make men better understand women, I’d agree with MEH and Marika below, and I’d not raise such a fuss here.   But my understanding was that its purpose was to teach men how to express healthier masculinity, to be happier men.   The definition of such can not be for men to be more like women.   That doesn’t make us happier.

        2. S.


          You bring up a good point about what was the point of the seminar.   Is it to teach men to understand women or to help men have healthier masculinity?   I think it was trying for both.   The article says things like:

          This is what we need to do to our current thinking around gender roles,” Perel finally said. “We need to completely take it apart so we can rebuild it.”


          Is an expensive, exclusive, three-day vacation going to change the culture of masculinity?

          Changing the culture of masculinity doesn’t mean men being more open emotionally.   That’s a bit simplistic, no?     It would mean really examining gender roles and all of the nuances along the gender continuum.   There are so many points along there.   Being open emotionally is a single thing.   And your assumptions about what female commenters think a man’s definition of love is, how do you know?   I said what some women’s needs are, I’d never assume to know what men’s needs are. (Well, except for sex. I do assume that need.)   I know they might be varied as men themselves   If you say, “acceptance, appreciation, admiration/desire” I easily accept that.   But I also accept that’s what you, Jeremy are saying, which is fine.   But other men might define love differently.   Changing the culture of masculinity means there is room for all interpretations.   You can’t speak for all men, any more than any one woman can speak for all men.

          And while I think the seminar was about men expressing healthier masculinity, I don’t know that it was about making happier men.   Not that I want men to be unhappy.   But initially change is difficult.   If we are completely taking apart our current thinking around gender roles as Perel says above, there will be discomfort there at first. I like what one attendant said, “The title Women Teach Men kind of scared me and when something scares me it means I need to explore it.”

          I love that. I love the bravery and the honesty of this guy’s desire to explore even though he’s clearly uncomfortable.   I’m challenging myself to be uncomfortable and even wrong in some of my established beliefs.   I think when both men and women go into that discomfort really with the intent of truly understanding each other and everyone else along a continuum, well, it is a start.

          I do hope there are more in-person conversations with men and women.   It’s so difficult to express the nuances, the many different thoughts I had reading the article, Evan’s commentary on it, and the comments are.     One thing I plan to do in 2019 is to help create more spaces for men and women I know to have these discussions in real life and hopefully in a way that feels respectful to all.   This blog has been so helpful, but I do feel it’s time for me to take these discussions offline and into real life.   Maybe ‘most’ men do feel one way or another.   I want to hear it, verbally.   Only one way to do that!

        3. Jeremy

          @S, of course redesigning masculinity is about making happier men.   Otherwise what would be men’s motivation to undertake any change at all, experience any unpleasantness at all?   Making life better for women is a good and worthy cause, but human nature being what it is, I don’t think most men will make a sustained effort over time unless things will improve for us as well.   Improve in a way that is meaningful to us, not just women.


          Esther Perel said that she wants to take apart gender roles, re-construct them.   Is that what men want?   Or what women do?   I’ll ask you the same question I asked Marika – would most of the men you know have attended this seminar?   If not, why not?   Is it because men are too Neanderthal to know what’s good for them, or because they aren’t interested in the topic, have no motivation therein, don’t see a reason why it would benefit them?   Perhaps the greatest challenge for all of us who would like to see change in men’s behavior is to provide a reason, a motivation, that speaks to the majority of men.   Not just a tiny minority of male idealists in SoCal.

        4. S.

          @ Jeremy

          I still think it’s too simplistic.   Certain lifestyle changes one makes, like eating healthily, for one isn’t exactly happy-making in the short run, but is better for one in the long run.   And why did that guy pay and go to a seminar where the title scared him?   What is one’s motivation for change?   The men I know in a spiritual community do go to workshops about undoing patriarchy and embracing healthy masculinity.   I also think once you explore yourself deeply on a spiritual path, the places where you have trauma and pain come up.   These men want to heal from that and they also don’t want inadvertently cause that in others.

          The men I know who are not in a spiritual community aren’t taking the patriarchy workshops but they do go to talk therapy, men’s groups, or workshops on undoing racism, capitalism, etc.   They see that some of the systems we are used to are hurtful to them and others.

          Obviously, people self-select.   These are the men I have taken the time to to get to know.   I get a sense of men’s own pain and once they are aware of it, there is a sense of wanting to find healing.   Or maybe these folks never fit within the ‘man box’ (phrase of Tony Porter) to begin with. Listen to Tony Porter’s Ted Talk.   He states his motivation for why he does this work.

          Another good male friend referred me to the movie, The Mask You Live In which really helped me understand a lot of how young boys are socialized.

          And what is . . . happy? Just coasting along unaware of one’s pain or how one’s actions may affect others?   Just being comfortable with the status quo?   Are men really happy like that?   I think of the men in the article that Evan linked to a few weeks ago still having regrets (two of them in their 80!) about questionable things they had done with women years earlier.   They didn’t seem . . . happy. The men I’ve met have become aware of the oppressive systems that bind us as a whole.   So redefining masculinity also part of undoing other oppression.

          Again, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard from men I actually know. (We are not in SoCal. :-)) I have my own opinions but this is what the men who I know tell me.



        5. sylvana


          S. Wrote that women need to feel safe, heard and understood in order to feel love, and I agree.   Men OTOH, need to feel accepted, appreciated and admired/desired to feel love.   Not the same!   What one gender (generally) perceives as love is not the same mix as what the other gender does.

          very interesting point, once again. But I think the problem actually lies in trying to separate the two groups.

          Men want this, woman want that. It’s way too black and white. I think that both men and women need to feel ALL of those in order to feel loved. The combination of all is what makes love and what makes people happy.

          If you give a woman everything in her group, but nothing in his, she won’t be happy. Same goes for a man who gets all of his group, but none of hers.

          As I said before. Sometimes it’s not so much about the genders wanting/needing different things, and being unable to understand the other side, but a problem of both sides actually needing exactly the same from both sides.

          We’re trying to pitch 100% masculine against 100% feminine. The majority of people is 50/50, 60/40 at best.

          The frustration stems from thinking that we are too different, rather than finding ways in which we are alike.

          As to the whole desire thing – I will agree with that. To me, it is arousal. And most women have it hammered into their heads that they are supposed to be emotionally triggered when it comes to arousal (safety/comfort/etc.). And that they’re not wired to have actual sexual triggers. So it’s not really a surprise that a lot of women mistake arousal and attraction, or have a hard time distinguishing between the two. They never learned to actually listen to their sexual triggers. Or suppressed them, because it would make them “not normal”.


        6. Jeremy

          Yes, Sylvana, I agree with you here.   Again, pie-charts.   It’s not that men don’t need any “safe, heard, understood,” we just need much less of that than women while women need much less of “accepted, appreciated, admired.”   And likely we need the things we need because we tend not to get them from the other gender.   How many women feel that men don’t hear them or understand them, that they aren’t safe around men?   Lots, IME.   How many men feel that way around women?   Far less, IME.   How many women feel undesired by men?   Fewer than the reverse – women want men to desire them less and focus on other things.   Our desire pie-charts are full of the things we lack, not the things we have in abundance.

      3. 9.2.3

        Hi Jeremy

        You say things like this a lot:

        the disconnect is huge, because women just can’t imagine that men are not like them, have different motivations”

        “How on earth can women hope to teach men when they refuse to understand us at all, or even understand themselves?”

        Honest question: do you believe men in general are better at understanding themselves, the opposite sex, their own motivations/desires/ vs attractants, and can better predict what they want in the future than women?

        If not, do you think no one should run seminars teaching the opposite sex?

        1. Jeremy

          Do I think that men are better at understanding themselves and women?   You’re kidding, right?   Of course not (as I know you know).   I think such courses should be taught by those few people, men and women, who do actually understand what they and others want – the differences therein.


          I’m sure the men who attended this seminar got something out of it, but tell me, based on the description of it in the article, do you think most of the men you know would go to such a thing?   None that I know would.   Consider why not.   Even Evan, who is more of a Feeler than most men, found it too touchy-feely.   Even I had a physical reaction of revulsion from the description, and I’m fairly open to experience.   Not because I’m averse to learning from women (I learn from them all the time), but because the ways they described of opening emotionally don’t speak to most men, don’t appeal to us, aren’t tailored for us.   They are female techniques, things that make women feel connected and happier, that make men feel uncomfortable, not happier.   I once read of a therapist who ran sessions specifically designed for men – seating men side by side, not eye-to-eye, because men better express themselves when not challenged by eye contact.   Small groups, not large open seminars.   Lots of other small things that made the seminar seem much more effective and meaningful from the male perspective – I wish I could remember the guy’s name.   He was effective because he tailored the seminar for men as men actually are.

    3. 9.3

      Sorry to post again, but one very important point to add – a point that has eluded me until recently.   You wrote, “all the philosophical musings in the world about masculinity… don’t matter one bit, compared to ‘will this get me more sex’ ”   Correction: “compared to ‘will this get me more  desire.”  Desire, being the form of love that has eluded the average man for his whole life, the sun around which he has orbited but rarely (or never) touched.   Without the desire, the sex is meaningless.   Without the desire and the sex, the conversation/emotional bonding is meaningless, is just frustrating.   But with the desire and sex, the emotional intimacy is the apex of the hierarchy of emotional needs – not the base.

      1. 9.3.1
        Emily, to

        ugh. Textbook. Ugh. Cerebral. Ugh


        1. Adrian

          Emily You are silly! (^_^)

          Merry Christmas

        2. jeremy

          LOL Emily.   That WAS me being emotional.   Last week while on vacation I had entirely too much to drink one night at dinner with my wife.   I don’t remember much about the night.   The other day I heard my wife complaining amusedly to her best friend on the phone: “He was totally drunk and completely disinhibited, and do you know what he talked about?   Psychology and personalities.   He thinks they’re funny.”   Sounds about right.   Just because others don’t find the humour in the things I find funny doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.   Same with the passion.


          I hope you and all those here who celebrate have a merry Christmas.

        3. Emily, to


          Same with the passion.

          You write a lot about desire and passion … in a very clinical way. We need a lot less textbook and a lot more D.H. Lawrence.     😉

      2. 9.3.2

        Thanks for clarifying.

        What I’m saying, Jeremy, is that I can’t imagine women having such a strong negative / disdainful reaction to the idea of a man running a seminar for women and wondering about his methodology, motivations etc. It sort of shows that women still have a long way to go in some fields (including running workshops).

        Evan’s directness can be hard to take for some, or even many, women and the combative nature of the comments section doesn’t fit well with how many of us like to communicate. Oh well. We can cope. Even those women who tell him he’s not sensitive enough in the responses to letters tend to still keep coming back for more. Learning is learning. Even if it’s not tailored specifically and perfectly to your style.

        1. Jeremy

          I agree with you here, Marika.   Keep in mind, though, that Evan teaches women about men (like himself).   He doesn’t teach them about women, doesn’t try to re-build women’s concept of femininity.   I’d have absolutely zero problem with women teaching a course for men about women, about making women happier.   Hell, I’d attend such a course in a heartbeat.

      3. 9.3.3

        Hi Jeremy

        From Evan’s post:

          I really like the idea of men — for once! — attempting to understand women. Remember, the only reason I’m a coach for women is that men don’t generally ask for help when it comes to relationships.

        1. Marika

          Hi again Jeremy

          Well it so happens I’m teaching a course this January in Vancouver… haha, jokes.

          True what you say, but if you read the article, one man said he felt appreciated after the course. That’s what men want, right? Another snippet talked about women objectifying men by using them for babies and money (and instead how both people can show love & appreciation in relationships) – that’s something you talk about as a concern of men, right? Men who attended obviously did so for a reason. And hasn’t the #MeToo had a big impact on men and relationships in North America? I would ignore the bit about the woman saying she gets turned on by men discussing their feelings – pretty sure that was tongue in cheek. And the course is not about turning the author on.

          I doubt Evan would’ve posted about this if it was a cheesy love-in where everyone just navel gazed, cried and sang Whitney Houston songs.

      4. 9.3.4
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Jeremy,

        “Without the desire, the sex is meaningless”,   you state – but do you think this is the feeling most men have?   About 21 million people are currently trafficked in this world, and many are women and children forced into prostitution; surely this many sex slaves wouldn’t be needed if the majority of men wanted desire rather than sex?

        I was lunching in a Miami Hooters with a married male friend years ago.   He was 42, the blond buxom pretty waitress serving us was about 22.   She was not interested in doing her work well – it was surprisingly poor service for an American restaurant actually that I’ve rarely encountered in the US, instead it was the sort of service I expect in my country where waitresses don’t earn via tips – and was providing token brief social smiles only, and next to no flirting, just a little maybe if you particularly wanted to stretch it and fantasize.   This guy is smart, one of the smartest people I know, and is usually exceptional at reading people.   Anyway he became convinced she was into him.   At first I actually thought he was joking because she just wasn’t, by any stretch of the imagination. Over time it transpired he really thought that.   I was shocked.   I concluded the male brain is easily deluded re female desire – and after your writing, I now think, how fascinating that is so, and perhaps it may be for evolutionary purposes.

        “Desire, being the form of love that has eluded the average man for his whole life, the sun around which he has orbited but rarely (or never) touched.”   This is beautifully poetic but tragically sad.   And what a conundrum for any man wanting a relationship of more than 2 years, or which involves raising a family, after which an average female’s desire for a long term partner plummets.   This sounds like the most unobtainable love language of them all.   I’m so tempted to discuss your mother at this point but will restrain myself.

        1. Marika

          Idk Mrs Happy. I personally think that’s a bit extreme. Wanting your partner to continue to desire you isn’t that unusual or ridiculous an ask – and desire/love within a relationship is miles apart from sex trafficking. My desire for my ex- husband stayed high throughout our 9 years together. Granted, our balance of comfort vs chemistry was way off, but even if we doubled the comfort and halved the chemistry (it probably doesn’t work quite that way..!) it was still there.  I know many couples who are still very affectionate and clearly into each other after more than 2 years together.

          This is what Emily was getting at before – so many of the commenters are so logical and cerebral. Not all of us think that way when it comes to love. I know it’s no Disney movie, but I do want desire in a long term relationship. Not off the charts crazy- making chemistry (actually, I do want that but know it’s not healthy), but desire and passion – yes.

        2. Mrs Happy

          I meant, 21 million trafficked people surely indicates that for many men, sex is the important thing…. maybe for Jeremy, desire is more important, but I suspect he is not representative of the majority of men.   In fact I suspect that if given a choice between either (lots of sex), or (lots of women desiring them), and if not allowed to have both, then most men would go for the (lots of sex).   Hence the world has trafficked sex workers instead of trafficked desire method actors – there isn’t really so much of a market for the latter.

          Desire and lust are usually strongest during the initial phases of a relationship, then they decrease.   I wasn’t implying nobody felt desire after 2 years.   I meant, desire will be less than it was initially, and exist at a continuously decreasing spiral.   To have it as a primary preference thus surely makes emotional satisfaction an increasingly rarer thing, the longer a relationship lasts.   That’s the sad part.

          Emily’s comment highlights how differently we all think.   I like that we approach issues from different angles.   The logical and the emotional are equally important, though some do like debating more than others.

        3. Jeremy

          Mrs Happy, you wrote, “This sounds like the most unobtainable love language of them all.”   Yes and no.   Depends on the woman, and this is exactly why I write over and over about the importance of parsing sexual goals from relationship goals.


          Adrian  asked me above whether I think women don’t actually understand the difference between comfort and arousal or whether they are simply willing to make the trade-off.   My answer is that while I do think the latter applies, so often it’s the former.   Because when a woman is excited about her relationship, she mistakes the emotion of excitation for arousal.   In the same way that people mistake hunger for anger or fear for fun.   The woman meets a man whom she thinks will make a great husband, is different from so many of the men she’s dated in the past, and is excited.   Excitement feels like arousal, so passionate sex is had.   Problem is, excitement (by definition) can not last in relationships.   If arousal is predicated on excitement, arousal will die between 6months -2 years into the relationship.   If, however, arousal is based on more tangeable factors (and not excitement), then there is no reason why it shouldn’t last.   My desire for my wife, for example, has not changed in these past 15 years or so.   At all.


          Desire is not an unobtainable love language unless you are with someone who doesn’t genuinely desire you, but rather desires a relationship with you.


          Oh, and regarding my mother’s influence in the way I perceive love, in the calculus of my wants and needs…yes, all the stereotypical Freudian notions likely do apply.   It’s a god-awful mess that takes a lifetime to unravel.   Like a tangled Slinky.

        4. S.

          And the question I ask the commenters: what is your definition of desire?

          I have to say I don’t really have that word in my working vocabulary. It was the thing of romance novels I read in my teens.   Jeremy made a point about language, that sometimes we all use the same word but mean different things.

          Desire – could mean lust, could mean physical attraction, sexual attraction, wanting, hotness, could mean physical reaction, could mean the emotional wanting, could mean a lot of things.

          I’m not sure all men mean the same thing with the word, are even orbiting the same thing all their lives.   If it’s just physical response from a woman, like all the physical responses that lead to orgasm, that could certainly be maintained during a relationship.   If it’s as Marika says, above, “many couples who are still very affectionate and clearly into each other after more than 2 years together” that’s maybe different.   And I don’t actually know the degree of desire here.   Do they want the degree of desire to be exactly the same for 30 years?

          What I do know for me, (not necessarily all women but they can each weigh in for themselves) that desire starts in my mind.   Starts from the conversation he and had last night, when he teased me about something about me and I teased back, the way he looked at me across the table, when he called me at lunch to just to hear my voice.   Sure, I was already physically attracted to him from the start. But that would have faded by now to a degree.   All these other things ratched the attract up notch by notch.   Over a few days.   By the time I see him on Friday the ‘desire’ is high.   And for me, it’s not just physical.   It can be just physical, though. But for me it’s not just that.

          In a longer relationship, I would hope that it’s not just physical, too. Yeah, sexual desire needs to be maintained and also emotional desire too.   This is the person who was with you through your father’s death, through your child’s learning disability diagnosis, held your hand when you got whatever bad news.     Sometimes for me, the ‘desire’ is ratched it up also by that trust and knowing I can be myself with the person through high times and low times.   Just being able to relax, then I’m able to let go sexually.

          Sure, I understand that differs for men.   But if they want to be highly desired and admired, by a woman like me, this is the way to go.   And so I thought that was the sort of reason I felt men would go to such a seminar.   To learn things like this.   And if men already knew this–for women like me–then they’d already have that desire they’ve been looking for.

          (And this is for men I’m already attracted to, btw.   But even the basic already-there desire for them will fade for me without these other things.)

      5. 9.3.5

        Jeremy,  ma man

        I do actually see your points and know what you mean, in a general sense. But, the thing is, most people (male or female) don’t attend personal development seminars – no matter the content or how well they are run. Even when I’ve attended such seminars, and they were amazing, I only discussed them with the very few people I know who are open to it. That’s just how it is.

        Perhaps if you’d started with something positive, picked up on one or two themes you did like…now it just feels like you’re going out of your way to find all the negatives and point out how ridiculous it is.

        Nothing to worry about, though, as like you say, very few people will attend. So like many well intentioned ideas, this is unlikely to have much of an impact.

        1. Marika

          Thanks Jeremy

          Your description of women and marriage is interesting. It’s not something I can relate to, though. Nor are the book club women. I feel that describes a certain subset of women, of people. I want to say entitled, maybe, but that sounds judgemental. Women I know aren’t like that. My marriage wasn’t at all like that. I’m going to guess most men didn’t do what you did when your marriage was rocky. Most women I know would never claim that they ‘know’.

          Obviously all our views are formed by experience. But I do wonder if the strength of your negativity towards certain things (you haven’t had one positive comment at all about these seminars, for instance) comes from this, relatively limited, idea of how women are in marriage. I know it’s based on both what happened to you as well as other men in your social circle, but I’m guessing your circle is comprised of like minded people?

          Remember this is in the era of #MeToo, of domestic violence being openly discussed, of the mgtow. I honestly believe, whether they are run man-appropriately or whatever, the intention behind these workshops is reasonable.

          And if, alternatively, they are completely ridiculous, miss the mark and no one will attend, as I said in an earlier comment, you have nothing to worry about.

      6. 9.3.6

        The bit you left you, though, is important: from the one that we want.  For both genders, we might say we want love or attention or to be wanted, but the subtext is always: from someone we find attractive. All those same lovely behaviors from someone we don’t find attractive, will be perceived as creepy, lewd, offensive or criminal. In a woman, she will be seen as overly aggressive, masculine or desperate. Most men don’t want to be chased by Rose O’Donnell, and most women don’t want to be chased by Jonah Hill.

        1. Nissa

          Oops – meant to say, the bit you left out.

    4. 9.4
      Tron Swanson

      Sadly, in my experience, talking about those issues either does nothing for men, or it outright hurts us–both with women and with society in general–so we don’t do it. But I’ll give it a shot.

      It can’t be underestimated how much men prioritize sex. Even men like me–who don’t put much effort into pursuing women–still generally view it as our primary people-related goal. I think that many/most men have hobbies and passions that are either fundamentally asocial or heavily clique-ish–things that we do by ourselves, or things that we do with small groups of close friends. In other words, our “true selves” and non-sexual sources of happiness have little to do with the larger world. And some would argue that that’s a potentially dangerous thing. If men don’t feel like we have a stake in the world, we tend not to be invested in what’s happening. When we think about the larger world, we think about women, and it tends to be women that push us to get involved with society. I mean, if not for women, how many men would go to social events, beyond sports and the like? If not for having kids, how many men would really care about the future of our planet? I’m not saying we’re cavemen living in remote cabins, just that, when it comes to other human beings, our interest is primarily physical. And without certain physical benefits, a frightening percentage of men will just shrug while the world burns down.

      Now then, the gender role issue. Women, of course, can toggle back and forth between gender roles–not just at different points in their lives, but at different points during the day. They can utilize traditionally-masculine traits while at work, and then come home and be traditionally-feminine. Or they can go to either extreme, or find a spot somewhere in the middle. I’m a bit of a traitor to the manosphere, in that I’m an egalitarian, and I believe women should indeed have this freedom. But this is a fairly new idea, and it practice, it’s quite vague. If a man isn’t great at picking up on social cues, he’ll quickly find himself in hot water. Imagine a hypothetical “Behavior X”. It’s something that men used to do for women, and it may or may not be considered healthy. If a modern man does it for a modern woman…well, some women will love it, some will merely find it acceptable, and some will be offended. Worst of all, some women–women who have all-too-common trauma in their backgrounds, or who have been mentally frayed by political stress or world events–will feel outright threatened, to the point that the man’s career and/or freedom are in danger. So, men, the less-socially-adept gender, are somehow expected to process all of this…even when a growing number of men have limited experience with women.

      Men, however, are limited to just the one gender role. They try to convince us that we have options–“You can be a tough, traditional country guy, working with your hands and being blue-collar, or you can be a modern, glasses-wearing white-collar guy, working in a fancy open-concept office”–but they’re really the same thing. Men are expected to work, provide, and sacrifice. We aren’t supposed to live for ourselves. A post-thirty woman isn’t married? She’s strong, independent, and doesn’t need a man. A post-thirty man isn’t married? He’s a Peter Pan, irresponsible, and desperately needs a woman to help him shape up. If a man just wants to make money and have a good time…or if he doesn’t want to work hard, and would rather live a minimalistic lifestyle…well, either way, if he isn’t transferring resources to women and children (and not just via taxes), he’s basically viewed as a monster. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The looks I get from women when I say that I’m not interested in getting married or having kids–in other words, not being useful for women and society–well, they aren’t exactly pleased to hear it.

      And it’s even worse if you don’t neatly fit into one of the “male archetype” boxes. I’m short and skinny, more cute than rugged, I have the body and look and passive/shy nature of a high-EQ beta male type. But I have zero social skills, and since my relationships didn’t last long, I don’t have much in the way of relationship skills, either. And I definitely don’t work in a high-tech, Apple-white office. I fit the mold of the sort of man that a woman would settle down with, once she was done with bad boys…but I’m not interested in playing that game. And even if I wanted to, I still couldn’t, as I probably don’t make enough money, and I lack the people skills necessary. Modern work depends heavily on social ability, and if you don’t have that *or* physical strength/skills, well, it’s an uphill battle.

      Everything is in flux, right now, and many of us are slipping through the cracks. But I honestly feel lucky–if I’d lived in the past, my life would be seriously screwed up. Social pressure would have led to me marrying and having kids, and that wouldn’t have been good for anyone involved, because I’m not interested in (or cut out for) it.

      1. 9.4.1
        Emily, to

        “We aren’t supposed to live for ourselves. A post-thirty woman isn’t married? She’s strong, independent, and doesn’t need a man. A post-thirty man isn’t married? He’s a Peter Pan, irresponsible…well, either way, if he isn’t transferring resources to women and children (and not just via taxes), he’s basically viewed as a monster. I’m exaggerating, but not by much. The looks I get from women when I say that I’m not interested in getting married or having kids ”
        I get the same looks. And often a man who isn’t married is viewed by other married men as having the freedom to hook up with all kinds of women. People are shocked when they ask me if I wanted kids and I say no. “You just want to have a good time,” they respond. “Well, yeah … what else is there?” I’ll ask. I mean, you have to have a job and pay your bills and do your laundry and take out your trash. What time you have left … why wouldn’t you want to spend it having a good time?

      2. 9.4.2
        Mrs Happy

        Dear Tron,

        thank you so much for explaining yourself in detail – this is really useful to consider, and understand.   Your points about gender roles illustrates restrictions I’d not fully appreciated.   In my own life I’ve recently been confronted with social judgement for not fitting into a particular mould, and it has been hurtful.   Just one thing I did outside the mould over a few years, and it hurt to be excluded as a result; for a person to feel they didn’t quite fit into society’s expectations over decades must be very isolating.

  10. 10

    I agree with Mrs. Happy.   I’m baffled by the direction of the comments. From my reading of the article, the conference was about men understanding women better. But what I’m seeing is a lot of verbal foot stamping about what a couple of men say women need to understand about men’s sexual behavior.


    1. 10.1

      Good point, MEH

      This blog is all about understanding men, fair enough, and many of us are here for that very reason. But it would be nice if on a post like this there was some recognition that men could potentially learn something about women from women. Or at the very least that they want to.

      Men running seminars for women about men are pretty normal and appreciated/well attended. I wonder why it is that a similar seminar for men is met with some level of disdain by some of our regular commenters? It’s a little disappointing.

      That being said, I would like to wish you all happy holidays. Mrs Happy, enjoy the prawns and the beach. Northern Hemisphereans, I’m dreaming of a white Christmas for you! 🙂

    2. 10.2
      Mrs Happy

      Dear MEH,

      The pattern of this blog tends to be, that the first few comments posted, usually set the initial direction and mood for at least a while, if not the whole, in the comments section.   If you want themes to change course, you have to wrench things onto another track.   Some people like to stay stuck in the initial groove though, and it’s hard to alter the tone completely once those first comments are in.   For instance, this has now largely become about women understanding men, instead of the other way around, or men understanding men.   Interesting, isn’t it?   Our minds slip and slide…

      1. 10.2.1

        You’re right. I’ve tried to be the first commenter in certain threads, but sometimes it just reverts to the same.   Guess it’s what people want to discuss.

        It’s interesting. I suggested in a comment who wanted to be understood first. I guess in order for men to try to understand women, they want to be understood first?

        Or maybe men here feel they already understand women.   It’s unclear . . .

        1. Marika

          Agreed S.  That’s why I asked (not joking) Jeremy earlier whether he thought men understood women better. Because of the multiple   comments about women not understanding men (or themselves). While there is a lot of poor understanding around, I would’ve thought of the two genders, women are more likely to at least make an effort to try to understand. So if one gender is at least trying, which gender should we focus on educating more?

        2. Jeremy

          That is a good point, Marika.   I’ll give a counterbalance though.   IME, most men believe they don’t understand women and that understanding women is impossible.   But most women I know do think they do understand men, at least well enough.   How many women, even on this site, thought men were mainly about sex?   How many understood that it’s about desire and love?


          Remember Mrs Happy’s book group women, the ones who didn’t want sex with their husbands?   Whenever I think about them, I imagine the perspectives involved in the conversation being had.   The women say to their husbands, “I want you to hear my words and understand that I love you.   I feel close to you, want to live with you, I appreciate you, I like the life we’ve built together.   But I just don’t want to have sex anywhere near as often as you do, and I wish you’d understand that, lay off, and realize that it doesn’t affect how I feel about you.”   And the what the husbands hear is, “Blah, blah, blah, WORDS.   Blah, blah, blah, bullshit.   Your words don’t matter when your actions don’t back them up.   You don’t desire me, and therefore you don’t love me, regardless of your words – at least, not in the way I need to feel loved.   I’ve given you everything and tied my life to you, but you don’t love me.   WTF am I supposed to do now?


          IME the majority of marriages will never progress beyond this point – the men will check out emotionally, the women will focus on their children, friends, and minutiae.   The more emotionally evolved woman will realize that there is a problem in her marriage and will seek advice…and will come across Chapman’s book on love languages.   She will come to realize that her husband feels unloved because sex is his love language, and so she will force herself to have sex more often.   But because she doesn’t really want the sex, has no desire, the sex will come out in 1 of 2 ways – starfish sex or maternal sex.   Starfish sex, where she lies there like a starfish waiting for it to be over.   Or maternal sex – literally, what sex with your mother would feel like – where she murmurs comforting/encouraging things throughout and when it’s over pats your cheek and says, “There, honey, don’t you feel better now?   Don’t forget to take out the garbage tomorrow.” Cheek kiss goodnight.   And the guy lies there thinking, “O…kay, I….guess that was alright?   So why do I feel like shit right now?”   And after time comes to realize that it’s because the emotional balance in his romantic life is way off and that his marriage is all kinds of fucked up.   Because his wife thinks that SEX is what matters to him.   Sex is just a language.   Of what value is a language without content?   A person might know English but isn’t communicating if he walks down the street shouting, “fork, swimming, chicken.”   And worse yet is when a woman speaks a man’s language and tells him, clearly in his language, that she doesn’t want him.   Starfish sex, maternal sex.   It’s not about the sex.


          Yes, Marika, men don’t understand women and would be well-served to do so – I’ve spent years learning that lesson.   But at least men know that they don’t understand women.   Women think they know.

        3. S.

          So if one gender is at least trying, which gender should we focus on educating more?

          I don’t actually know, Marika.   I only know women will keep trying. I know in real life it’s fun discussing with men who wish to. Even if we don’t actually end up in understanding we at least can laugh with with what we don’t understand and know the effort was made.   Effort matters.   I also applaud the men who went to the seminar.   They are trying too and that’s heartening.

        4. Emily, to


          But at least men know that they don’t understand women.   Women think they know.

          I can assure you that after reading all these comments we don’t think we understand.

          But about the sex, which we ALWAYS seem to circle back to, some women just get to the point where they’ve had enough sex in their lives. It’s not that they’re not interested at all, but sex isn’t the big deal it was when they were younger. I’m not talking about maturing or growing up. I’m just talking about moving on to something else.

          So a good portion of these book club women you refer to aren’t EVER going to understand what you are talking about … with the love languages and husband feeling unloved, etc.   But bringing this topic up repeatedly won’t change that.

        5. Nissa

          @Jeremy, I find your explanations of ‘starfish sex’ and ‘maternal sex’ interesting. You did a good job of explaining why in those cases the sex itself is not enough. But how many men do you think actually understand that distinction, as opposed to just feeling unsatisfied and then taking actions to feel better (that generally rip apart their marriages)?

          I know for myself none of the men I have dated would have been able to articulate that, even if they felt it. In fact, I had a discussion with a married friend not long ago, who was trying to explain to me why men like women who boss them around and generally act like mothers (instead of lovers). He basically said that instead of making them feel insulted or less than equal, it makes them feel comforted and loved. He flat out said that some men not just like, but prefer to be told what to do.

          Perhaps he was just trying to say that people in general feel safer when their role is defined, but those were not the words he used. While I absolutely see the value in having a partner who can articulate what they want, I personally would prefer being an equal instead of a subordinate. And I’m literally being told by my male friends that “we don’t want that”.

        6. Jeremy

          It all comes back to love languages, though, Nissa.   Your friend isn’t talking about “all men” any more than I am.   He’s talking about himself and, I guess, men like him.   He has a love language.   Any partner of his needs to know both how to speak it and what to say in it.   I’d say, IME, wanting to be told what to do in order to feel safe is not a majority male desire – I don’t have it myself either – but my brother-in-law does.   It’s not about what all men want, it’s about what the man you’re with wants.   And vice-versa for what the woman wants too, obviously.   It’s not enough to know what the love language is, you need to know what message your partner needs to hear in that language. A wife’s love language might be “Gifts,” but if you buy her a mop as a gift you tell her, in her special language, that she’s good for cleaning floors….when the message she wants to hear with your gifts is that she is the most special woman in the world, worthy of the time and cost that it took you to get that special gift.


          You asked how many men would be able to articulate what I wrote vs how many would just act upon it – answer, I don’t know a single man who would be able to articulate it.   Not one.   But I do know many men who would/have acted on the feelings, even without totally understanding them.   What I’m trying to do here is to explain to the people here, people who are interested in understanding relationship dynamics, my understanding of WHY this happens.   You know, just in case they might want to head this sort of thing off at the pass.

        7. sylvana


          “I want you to hear my words and understand that I love you.   I feel close to you, want to live with you, I appreciate you, I like the life we’ve built together.   But I just don’t want to have sex anywhere near as often as you do, and I wish you’d understand that, lay off, and realize that it doesn’t affect how I feel about you.”   And the what the husbands hear is, “Blah, blah, blah, WORDS.   Blah, blah, blah, bullshit.   Your words don’t matter when your actions don’t back them up.   You don’t desire me, and therefore you don’t love me, regardless of your words — at least, not in the way I need to feel loved.   I’ve given you everything and tied my life to you, but you don’t love me.   WTF am I supposed to do now?

          You entire statement here needs to go on the next post about men and porn and checking out other women, etc. This was so perfectly stated!

          Just exchange “don’t want to have sex anywhere near as often” with “porn, naked pictures, checking out other women” and “husband/man hears” with “wife/woman hears”, and that, right there, hits the nail on the head!

        8. Nissa


          Well, I appreciate your words and effort. My friend and I were at a party where all 5 of the men at the table with me were in relationships of that type. Normally I would assume, as you stated, that his words essentially reflected his own experience, but since the 5 men I was looking at were all doing that behavior, it was more impactful to me.

  11. 11
    Mrs Happy

    “…women objectify men by getting into a relationship because they want something from a man: a baby, a house, security, or financial stability. In this scenario, women are kind of using men. …her point was that to have a meaningful romantic relationship your primary concern should be not what you can get from somebody, but what you can give to them and how you can both nurture and support each other.”

    I think we need to ask Stacy2 from New York back as an invited speaker here to address this one in her no-nonsense style.

    This is such pie-in-the-sky, unicorns-and-angels-exist, sloppy thinking.   Nobody in the real world has a relationship with a long term partner only to give to, support and nurture the partner.   If people did this, we’d all have married nasty, selfish, deaf, mute, blind, infectious, intellectually disabled, extremely ugly, sexually abysmal, physically impaired, poor Nepalese orphans, with no social capital, contacts or potential, so we could make their lives better, and nurture and support them, while receiving nothing we want or need ourselves.

    Of course people have relationships to obtain something.   Until extremely recently, this was a very accepted, and the main, reason for marrying.   It’s only in the last 150 years people have tried to deny that we marry for personal gain of some sort, and Western societies have inserted “love” as the only reasonable reason to marry, with every other possible reason a shameful, less important one.

    Honestly the more I think about it, the more this retreat sounds like cognitive torture.   Chair rearranging?   Men needing to feel ‘appreciated’ by the female speakers?   (I don’t go to talks to feel appreciated, I go to learn.)   Personal confessions during group question time?   And don’t rabbis regularly express their views and interpretations of the world around them – isn’t that their job? I did a compulsory Catholic pre-marriage weekend retreat with similar sloppy thinking claptrap 15 years ago and it still pains me to recall it.

    1. 11.1

      LOL, rather than assuming it’s sloppy thinking, I’d suggest beginning from the premise that everyone already knows what you wrote – that people get into relationships primarily for their own needs, but adds the fact that in order to get your needs met, to be happy in relationships, to have a partner who is willing to meet your needs on a regular basis, you need to also consider “what you can give to them and how you can both nurture and support each other.”   That whole concept of trying to make the other person happy that we talked about months ago.   Otherwise, instead of an emotional partnership marriage becomes just 2 individuals trying to get their own needs met in parallel.


      Oh, and regarding your comment above re: trafficked women – as far as I understand it, successful prostitutes are all method actors.   In porn, all the women are in a feigned state of loud, constant orgasm while the men are strangely silent.   Why is that, do you think, when the audience is primarily male?   What do you think the men are getting from that?


      Finally, and I’ll conclude my comments on this thread with this (because I’ve taken up enough oxygen on this post) – how is it mental sliding that the topic has become women understanding men instead of the reverse?   The seminar was about MASCULINITY.

      1. 11.1.1
        Mrs Happy

        I could assume all sorts of things including your premise about relationship behaviour, but that is not what the author wrote.   She wrote that having any need met was selfish and using your partner, and a meaningful relationship = only giving.   Anyone who observes humans knows her position is completely wrong.   It’s pie-in-the-sky thinking, thus it would be foolish to base a seminar talk on the theory, as it doesn’t happen.

        You are allowed to use oxygen.   In fact, it’s the point of this section.   If you don’t want to get deeply into any debate, I understand, but don’t leave for fear of offending others or taking too much space or seeming loud, as you are not.     You are interesting and rational and write things which make me reconsider my beliefs.   Plus I have weeks off work over summer and will get bored without stimulating conversation (though I have just discovered podcasts…late to the party as usual).   I’ll stay away from directly analysing your childhood, sorry.

        An ex used prostitutes a lot (military man).   They didn’t bother feigning desire too much, he said.   But even if some do, rational me says surely men know it’s feigned, it’s her job, but then I remember the Hooters delusional state of my friend.   Similarly, to me it’s obvious the women in porn are acting, (often badly), but maybe it’s not so clear to men?   Evolutionary idea breakthrough: maybe that’s why most males are so poor at reading non verbal cues?   It keeps the species alive if they continually try to jump females, even females with no interest, so the poor-at-reading-her-real-emotions men have fathered more children, and passed those very-poor-reading-emotions genes down, and now our society is saturated with men who think porn actresses and Hooters waitresses and prostitutes actually really desire them?   Good grief, what a disconnect from reality; it’s like being in the first Matrix film.   Maybe most men wouldn’t want the reality, it’s fairly bleak to realise most women don’t have a fraction of male desire levels.

        Re the seminar topic being capitalised masculinity, Evan wrote, “I really like the idea of men — for once! — attempting to understand women”.   A disjunction – what Evan thought the seminar should be or was about, what women thought, what men commenting here thought; hence the mental sliding.

        I’m repeatedly writing things which seem quite clear to me but then require subsequent explanation; I have to work out why and maybe adjust my comments.

        1. Jeremy

          I like talking with you for the same reasons.   I see your point and I don’t totally disagree.   MEH wrote that if men could adjust their thinking slightly they might be more likely to get what they desire…..but I know as well as anyone that giving someone else what they want doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get what you want.   That there’s a covert contract, and the assumption sets one up to get burned.   It’s one thing to say that men should learn what women want so as to be better relationship partners to women.   It’s quite another to say that if men give women what they want then men will be more likely to get what they want.   I spent years of my life and literally millions of dollars knocking my head against that wall.   Learning how to give someone what they want and learning how to get what you want – both very important, but not the same skill-set!


          Oh, and I sadly agree with your evolutionary theory – blindness has allowed our species to propagate – but is that to the men’s advantage or the women’s?   Is it that men who can’t detect the absence of desire father more children, or that women who better feign desire obtain more resources?   Perhaps both?   Either way, it sucks.   We as a species can do better.   There you go, I shake my head at crunchy-granola-eating idealists and then go ahead and prove myself to be one of them (or at least be somewhat mentally related).


          And as to analyzing my childhood, knock yourself out.   Doesn’t offend me.   If you only knew the half 🙂

  12. 12

    I have a simple observation.   Evan has often said that men don’t typically engage in self help programs.   So it’s up to women to change so that we can change the dynamic of relationships. My only point is that if men could change their thinking just a tad, and move their behavior a step to the left or right, they might find that they could get what they desire.

    1. 12.1

      Great point again, MEH.

  13. 13

    Marika, again you raise good points.   When S. wrote about her circle of acquaintances, my thought was of a self-selecting bias.   But the same applies to me.   So I’ll ask for your help to overcome this bias, this dark mood that seems to have affected me lately.   No sarcasm here, I’m asking for your help (and that of the other ladies here):   Can you please tell me – after all the books, websites, seminars, things you’ve learned over the years – what have you learned about men that you didn’t know before?   I’m not asking what you’ve learned about relationships, about your own boundaries, reasons past relationships have failed, etc.   I’m asking specifically, what have you learned about men that you didn’t know before?   I am desperately hoping to be wrong in my biases.

    1. 13.1

      Hi again Jeremy

      Thanks for recognising you may have some biases (as we all do). I appreciate the question and want to help you out, but it feels like you’re testing us. You’ll just have to trust me that not all women think they know everything (why do you think we buy Evan’s products and read his blog), and not all women stop having sex once they feel comfortable in a relationship – or think it’s okay to do so.

      It stands to reason. You and YAG, to take one example, couldn’t be more different. All men aren’t the same and all women aren’t the same.

    2. 13.2

      I can honestly say that I never thought about that ‘arousal vs comfort’ business until you explained it. I always thought of ‘comfort’ as being another word for ‘doesn’t have to worry about money’ – it had a completely asexual meaning for me before your posts.

      I’ve always had a thought of knowing if I was attracted to a man within five minutes of meeting him. Now, I’d call that ‘arousal’ or ‘do-ability’ and see it as more separate from attraction, which for me does grow with getting to know someone. But, I’ve never seriously dated anyone that didn’t meet my baseline of arousal, so I’ve never had the drop-off in sexual desire that other posts have discussed. In fact, I really thought that was just a overused trope until my late 30’s and I started hearing it from other women.

      What have I learned about men? That he either wants you or he doesn’t – you match for him or you don’t – no matter how nice, bitchy, hot or dumpy you are. If you are a match, it won’t matter how awful you are. If you are not, it won’t matter how great you are.

    3. 13.3

      (I think we all self-select. :-))

      I’m asking specifically, what have you learned about men that you didn’t know before?

      That I didn’t know? Since I self-select, I didn’t know that not all people, men included, really think this deeply.   I assumed everyrone was having deep conversations with their group of friends and acquaintances. Nope! So a lot of time when i wondered, “what was he thinking” to myself, I discovered he wasn’t thinking about relationships or the world that deeply.   Some do, a lot don’t.

      I learned that men are fun and sweet.   That life doesn’t always have to be so serious.   I learned that our culture as it is hurts men and boys.   That some men feel they have to hide that fun, sweet side in favor of always looking strong.   Being strong.

      I learned the men I know will walk me home on the inside of the street.

      I learned that men want to be able to lay their burdens down with their partners but think that women will be shocked or unable to handle real truths.

      I learned some men know how to be really good friends and I knew this but it’s renewed for me again that I have to find a man that I can be a really good friend with.

      I learned so many good things, Jeremy!   I treasure the joy of just knowing good people.   Men are good people.   I knew this before but it’s renewed with nearly every man I meet.   Even the menthere that I don’t know, take the time to write and to try.   My faith in men and that we will figure this all out somehow as a people remains.   I’m not sure I had that before I got to know men a lot better.   But I have it now.

      Thanks for this question! Not sure if it confirms your biases, but it was fun for me to answer. 🙂

    4. 13.4
      Mrs Happy

      Dear Jeremy,

      I’m asking specifically, what have you learned about men that you didn’t know before?

      From this blog, other reading, and life, I’ve learnt a few things over the last 10 years, some of which follow. In reading this, remember I used to think men were really great, and it’s not so much I don’t now, as, most things I’ve learnt are negative (I already knew or assumed the positives).

      1. Men don’t care about my mind or career or financial success as much as my body/face/youth.   This is astounding to me because I just saw my body as a vehicle for my brain for years, though now I’m at the age I will try to become more bodily healthy (just when it’s an effort).   Also, avoiding poverty for myself and family is one of the most important roles I have.   My first sentence is not what any of the men in my life have communicated to me, which is why it has been such a sad shock to learn it.      Boyfriends did comment on my body and prettiness etc, but it wasn’t a huge topic, didn’t mean much, I didn’t give it much importance, (it’s just a body/face, just the outer covering for ME).

      2. I’ve long been told e.g. by my mother from early teenage years, “men just want one thing” (sex), but … and this seems strange to type … I didn’t really believe her or the messages from the world around me, because I was surrounded by men during high school and uni years and my 20’s and 30’s, who didn’t focus on sex.   With partners, and I almost always had a partner, I had a lot of sex, frequently, but it didn’t seem to be the main point of any relationship.   Now, I assume I was reading it incorrectly, and it was the main point, for them?   For me sex/desire has just been one of a hundred things in my life, never prioritised in the way I’m now being told it is so prioritised for men.   It is truly weird to try to understand, and the serviette analogy had many holes so I hesitate to resurrect it but …. it’s just sex (for me); I can take it or leave it.   Sure it’s good, but so is chocolate, cycling, sailing, conversing, socialising, swimming, reading, baking, climbing, travelling, gardening, and any one of dozens more activities.

      3.   I’ve learnt men rank women on looks.   Didn’t know that.

      4.   I’ve come to learn men want an easy domestic life and will sacrifice much to achieve that.   Didn’t realise how important this was.

      5.   I’ve learnt men like YAG exist, who want variety and good sex so much, they will devote lots of resources to achieving these.   This is not a hit at YAG, I have great respect for him, he raised his girls well, stayed married for the kids, and now knows precisely what he wants, and is getting it.   I’m just saying, it’s news to me, that a person would prioritise those things:   20k/yr dating costs on strangers – ouch.

      6.   I’ve learnt some men want the family picture – wife and kids – but don’t want to do much or any of the work involved in maintaining that picture.   They avoid actually giving themselves (their time and emotional effort) to the family, it’s too hard or boring, or they are emotionally stunted and don’t realise what has to happen emotionally in relationships.   They either don’t learn or want to know how much work it all is, or expect their wife or someone else to do it all.   (I could not stand being married to a man like this.)

      7.   In a conflation of #2 and #6, sex or desire or variety or however you want to conceptualise it, is so important, men will fracture their family in order to get sex/desire/newness from a woman not their wife.

      8.   I’ve learnt about love languages.   Extremely important idea.

      9.   I love getting a peek into single people and families,   and how people organise finances or chores in their homes.   (e.g. I’ve just spent an hour reading a stay-at-home-mothering blog about men who regularly urinate all over the toilet, floor, walls, spare toilet paper roles, toilet hinges, at home, and then tell their wives it’s a woman’s job to clean the toilet mess, and the wife cleans it.   One woman blog poster wipes the mess with her husband’s shirts then hangs his shirts back in the wardrobe and he wears them – they’ve been married 33 years and she has been doing this for years because she resents his toilet behaviour so.   How can this not be required reading at school?   Love this stuff.   Sort of fascinates me, not sure why.)   Evan occasionally posts topics along these lines (not so low) and it has been interesting to read men’s attitudes to things like buying an engagement ring or presents, or splitting stepkid costs, etc.

      10.   Blown away by American mens’ attitudes to marriage being a financial risk.   It’s not like that in Australia, I’ve never heard of spousal support outside American TV shows and internet comments.

      11.   Men are just people, like women, and have differently chunked pie charts of wants.

      12.   Men have to emotionally stunt themselves to succeed in Western society.   This is sad.

      13.   Many men are lonely.   Men don’t work at non-sexual relationships as much as women do.

      14.   Men are confused by modern society changing the goalposts on their roles, and only some men can adapt well.


      Jeremy, it’s cold and dark early and bleak winter where you are, and you’re suffering post-resort-sunny-holiday, and post Christmas-and-Hanukkah blues.   You are not getting everything you want in life (nobody does but that doesn’t matter for you right now), and you’re despairing at people’s attitudes and lack of understanding, and some comments hurt your feelings.   I’d send you a batch of (my and best in world) brownies if I could.   All will be well.

      1. 13.4.1

        Thanks, Mrs. Happy!   I knew most of the beginning stuff. The last three I learned in the last few years too.   Men don’t say they are lonely, but you can kinda tell over time when they keep joining stuff or even when they spend a lot of time talking with me, a non-sexual friend.   They need friends.   And I guess guy friends don’t talk for a long time the way I do with my male and female friends.

        Number 12 is sad. 🙁 I was hoping that redefining masculinity meant that men who weren’t shining and who were suffering trying to conform to Western culture could . . . shine.   But then for other men it leads to 14.

        The goalposts on women’s roles keep changing too. I read this at The Atlantic today.   🙁

        One thing I learned from Pat Allen that I didn’t like was that in a relationship roles have to be clearly defined.     Doesn’t mean they have to have traditional roles, but whatever the role is each knows which they have.   I always thought you could go back and forth, but Pat Allen said, nope.   I didn’t learn that from men, but I am slowly realizing that could be part of the confusion, if there is constant switching.   As a woman, I switch between being feminine and masculine multiple times a day.   But reading Allen’s book made me realize how that could be confusing in a relationship.

        But let’s not despair!   We are trying, no?   We are still typing and writing to folks we don’t know and trying to understand one another.   All will be well.

        Could we all have brownies? 🙂

        1. Mrs Happy

          Brownies for everyone, absolutely.   J just seemed down, and being theoretically anonymous, and on the other side of the planet, there is little I can do to cheer him up.   Brownies for all would suit me mighty fine, as I love baking, but I really shouldn’t eat everything I bake.

        2. Jeremy

          Now this made me LOL, Mrs Happy.   A conversation’s worth of nuance in a single word.   You like to bake brownies, eh?   My favourite to bake is pie – started with lemon and worked my way through all the flavours, even some pretty weird ones.   I like to do bread too, but my wife prefers that I refrain.   Leaves too many crumbs.


          You did indeed cheer me up.   Thank you.

      2. 13.4.2

        Thank you.   One small point pertaining to your first bullet:   While it may be true that in terms of raw arousal a man will care far less about your mind/soul/achievements than your appearance/sexuality, in terms of developing love the reverse is true.   Love – thoughtful, deliberate relationship building – is the process of acquiring a helpmate, mindmate and soulmate whereas raw arousal is just about finding a playmate.   No self respecting man with an ounce of intelligence would fall in love with a woman who did not impress him with her intelligence and talents, regardless of her porn-star body or overt sexuality.   While it may be true in dating that the factors that matter to you are largely secondary, that’s only because arousal preceeds love.   In relationships, which has precedence?   I know which does for me.

        1. S.

          Yeah, but you have to have arousal before you get to love so in that stage, Mrs. Happy is right.   And if the arousal in an established relationship is stale or fading, she’s saying a woman’s mind isn’t going to improve that.   Unless she uses her mind to figure out how to get them back to raw arousal.

          Intelligence does seem secondary.   Interestingly enough, I do think men I date are turned on by my body and mind.   Which is interesting.   Just by hearing me talk.   Another thing I learned the hard way is that physical attraction, great friendship, and compatibility doesn’t always equal love.   Timing matters.   A man’s blueprint for his life and how a potential partner may or may not fit into it matters even more than anything else sometimes.   Those things will actually block love and commitment.   So now I’m looking for men whose lives and goals already dovetail more with mine.

          It’s all way more complicated that I had originally thought when I first started dating with that intention.

      3. 13.4.3

        Hi Mrs Happy

        I personally think if your direct experience doesn’t align with what you read here, go with your experience. Being a feminine cool girl isn’t the only way to get male attention & commitment. As you know. I think having a positive view of men is ultimately the goal (plus help and advice for those not getting the dating results they’re after). And you were already there. It would be a shame to let what you read here detract from that. I feel sad at some of the negatives you’ve surmised about men.

        As an aside, not sure if you know, but spousal support exists in Australia. But as we have (only) no fault divorce, you only get it under limited & specific circumstances. Depending on how you see it, it’s a fairer system. At least in theory.

      4. 13.4.4

        I really liked your explanations in #4 & 6, agreed.

      5. 13.4.5

        Mrs Happy-   it was very disheartening to read some of your points.   One of the things I’ve learned is that there is a spectrum of behaviors and while most (the fat part of the bell curve that might define a stereotype), there are some, maybe a few, people who have the qualities you’re looking for and that is why it’s so hard to find a suitable partner.   There’s Ginger on one end and Mary Ann on the other and a whole lot of variations in between and that applies to the many dimensions of people and relationships.   Just look around at a concert.   Finding the right partner is like trying to solve a very large linear algebra problem and that isn’t easy.

        If I may comment on some of your points:

        Men don’t care as much about your success as your appearance.   Maybe that’s true for some but the right one will want you to be a nice person first and then a successful person 2nd.   Who would want to be with a person who wasn’t nice regardless of how successful they are?   I’m sure there are some out there but I think Evan is right when he says that men want women who make them feel good.   There might be nuances to that statement though.

        Men just want sex.   Most men definitely want sex and some men do only want just sex.     Yes, it could create a problem if the imbalance is too large.

        Women rank men on all kinds of things too.   Men certainly are not the only ones who do this.   I know first hand how horrible it feels to be ranked on income or stylishness, the size of your house, how “successful” you are, etc….   Walk away from those people if that’s not for you.   Some of “those people” attract each other.   I’ve seen it.

        Men can be absolute slobs in the bathroom.   It appalls me too when I go to the bathroom at work and see a puddle under the urinal.   I make sure never to leave a trace when I’m home or at someone else’s home.   I don’t want my daughters or anyone else to see that.   I’ll even sit down to make sure I don’t leave a trace, however feminine that might be.   I don’t even like to make the tinkle sound.

        These people who judge us these ways and maybe make us feel bad just aren’t the right people to have in our lives and it’s up to us not to let them make us feel bad about being who we are and having our values.

        My $0.02


    5. 13.5


      I’m asking specifically, what have you learned about men that you didn’t know before?  

      This is a rather tough one to answer for me, because the answer is kind of sad. First of all, I would have to say that there are two answers to the question. As a gender, in general, I’d have to say I have learned nothing new (likely since 99% of my good friends are, and always have been men. It’s women I cannot understand or relate to). And I actually find myself on the side of defending men more often than not. Overall, they are wonderful people with a lot of positive traits/qualities. Couldn’t imagine my life without them.

      When it comes to men and relationships (which I’m assuming you were after), is where it all turns sad. Because what I have learned (that I didn’t know before) is that there are way more negatives than I would have ever thought, without a single positive that would … heck, I can’t even say balance it out, because it wouldn’t be enough balance anything.

      I’ve learned that women who try to give men credit for being about more than sex are wrong. I know you claim it isn’t sex, but desire and love that men want. But desire, to them, means being sexually desired/being able to get laid/getting laid. It’s tied to sex. And love is expressed through sex – they equate being loved with getting sex from their partners/being sexually desired by their partners. So it is sex, sex, sex, after all.  And not just any sex, but sex that caters to his ego, his emotional needs, and any and all of his meta-goals (sexual, validation, etc.). A woman can’t just give him all the sex he can have and then some, and expect him to be fine. Even catering to his kinks and fantasies on top of it isn’t enough. She needs to have sex in a way that makes him feel loved, needed, wanted, desired, that appeases his ego, and expresses her vulnerability/femininity appropriately.

      Just being a nympho isn’t enough. Because – surprise, surprise – HE is actually the emotional creature when it comes to relationships and sex (since the way he perceives things all circle back around to sex). And, as a woman, we are not allowed to meet a man on equal terms when it comes to sex. There are certain expectations when it comes to women and sex, and how we are supposed to conduct ourselves. Walk the fine line of being just kinky/adventurous enough, while ensuring to display enough emotions and reserve to not appear demanding, intimidating, or the “slut” he really desires, but doesn’t want to be married to. And lord forbid you make him feel like he can’t keep up. It’s exhausting, really. Because even a woman with an extremely high sex drive and very open mind sexually has to constantly worry about, and cater to, a man’s ego (in multiple ways) during sex.

      Which brings me to point two. I’ve also learned that there are a ridiculous amount of double-standards that a woman simply has to deal with and adhere to, or stay single.  This was actually the deal breaker for me. The rather long list of things which effect every aspect of relationships that made me decide that relationships just aren’t for me.  What it basically boils down to is: You’re a woman, so you need to conduct yourself a certain way. But I’m a man, so I do what I do, and you can either deal with it or move on.

      Just about every problem I have with all aspects of relationships comes back around to this. Which brings me to point three.

      I’ve also learned that, apparently, we’re the ones who want to be in a relationship. Men are doing us a favor if they are willing to be with us. And we better never forget it. It seems that men would rather be flogged than be in a relationship. But since women aren’t considerate enough to put out for some random dude whenever he needs it, he is willing to make the huge sacrifice of giving up variety and putting on the ball-and-chain called relationship in exchange for regular sex (his idea of wanting a “relationship”). And she better appreciate his huge sacrifice, and put out regularly- in a way that appeals to him, of course (which includes using sex to fulfill his need to feel desired, loved, cared for, etc.).

      Never mind the fact that she is making the same exact sacrifice of giving up variety (likely actually a bigger one, since she can actually get variety on a regular basis, unlike him). She is a woman, and, as such, shouldn’t desire variety to begin with.

      If she doesn’t nag, doesn’t make too many demands of him, and lets him do pretty much whatever he wants (within reason), he might just keep her around for a while, eventually marry her, and so on.  Basically, nothing you can’t achieve with just a good friends-with-benefits set-up – which oftentimes even involves exclusivity for safety reasons.

      There’s nothing wrong with that scenario. The woman wants marriage for comfort/security reasons, the man agrees to it for regular sex and maybe a bit of emotional support he can’t get from his buddies. It’s your classic marriage for convenience set-up. Except for one little detail: Comfort/security used to mean “provided for”.  Nowadays, it merely means some emotional comfort/security (since there’s about a 55-60% chance he won’t cheat on you at best, and he’s guaranteed to constantly desire other women).

      Why any woman who can provide for herself would want to enter such an arrangement is beyond me. Children would be the only thing I can think of.

      If he wants to have variety so badly, let him have it. I won’t have that hanging over my head like a threat to make me compliant. Heck, it just means I get to have variety as well, so neither one of us have to “sacrifice”.   He gets sexual pleasure and satisfaction from other women all the time anyway. Whether he actually sticks his dick in it or not (basically HOW she gives him sexual pleasure) doesn’t make a difference to me.   But whether we actually decide to sleep with others or not, it’s equal sacrifices and equal freedoms for both partners to me. And I have found that this is one of the biggest problems when it comes to men and relationships. The majority of men is not all right with that.

      Overall, what I have known is that men are wonderful. They make great friends. Some of them make great sex partners. What I have learned is that they don’t make a relationship partner who would appeal to me. Because the effort I would have to put into a relationship, and the sacrifices I would have to make are much greater than what I would get out of a relationship in return.

      Would I ever claim to know everything about men? Of course not. People are way too different from each other to ever make that statement. You might know one man, but the next can be the total opposite. What I can say is that what I have learned, I don’t like. There are way more negatives than positives.

      Since I generally cannot tolerate being around women for more than five minutes, and I have zero sexual attraction to them, I’ve decided to just give up on any sort of romantic relationship. And just enjoy men, and a good variety thereof, instead.

      I would like to add, Jeremy, that your comments here are absolutely fascinating reading when it comes to understanding people in general. I have to say I’ve learned a lot from you.


      1. 13.5.1

        Thanks for your comment here, Sylvana, though for me it was like reading about aliens.   I read what you wrote about men and relationships and then I consider myself and my relationship….and see absolutely zero resemblance to any of your points.   Like, ZERO.


        One small point, and I’ll direct this both to you and to Mrs Happy, since you both wrote (again) that for men it all boils down to sex.   Tell me, how much of your day do you spend focussing on oxygen?   Is oxygen the point of your life?   Do you spend your days thinking about oxygen?   Answer – for most of us, we only think about it that much when we get less than we need.   Sex (or the goal of sex, desire) is not what preoccupies most of my time or imagination…unless I’m getting significantly less than I need.   It is not a serviette, nor is it the end-all and be-all.   It is oxygen.   When you have enough, it no longer matters.

        1. Tron Swanson


          Sex is one of the main things I’ve thought about for the last twenty-five-plus years. When I was younger, and less successful/experienced with women, I loved the idea of relationships…and then I actually got in one. I found out that most of a relationship involves non-sexual stuff. As such, my love affair with the idea of monogamous relationships lasted about a week, and then I lost interest. I’m fundamentally not a social person, I had no idea that others enjoyed being social; I assumed that sex was the only reason to make the effort to be social. Live and learn.

          And yet, even with that, sex isn’t the main priority in my life. I certainly don’t expend much effort pursuing women. Granted, I’m older and jaded, now. Even the simple act of clicking a few times on a website is more work than I want to do, pursuit-wise. And after I do it, I feel stupid, like I’ve wasted my time.

          Sex is maybe the…fourth or fifth thing I care about the most. Some of the women in my life felt that was still too high of a ranking, and tried to get me to de-emphasize it. The times I did, well, they got even more upset, as I no longer contacted them. Without sex, I don’t have anything tying me to people.

          I think that men care more about sex than you imply. Look at advertising, porn, men’s actions, etc. There’s a reason why men are drawn to PUA coaches and not…I don’t even know what they’re called, relationship coaches, I guess? My “relationship skills” basically consist of “wait until she’s done talking/screaming and see if she still wants to have sex”.

          Also, Sylvana, I can relate to your situation, and I’m sorry you’ve had to go through that. The gender we want sometimes isn’t the gender we like.

        2. S.

          @ Tron Swanson

          I found out that most of a relationship involves non-sexual stuff.

          This made me giggle!   Because it does.   But then it made me wonder, what would your life be like if you didn’t have the interest in sex?   Just a loner, I guess.   Nothing wrong with that.   As a partial introvert, I get it.   Relationships are at the cornerstone of my life.   Not romantic ones, but just relationships with people.   It does take some maintenance, though.   Stuff. 🙂

          Different strokes. 🙂 I appreciate your honesty.

        3. Mrs Happy

          Oxygen is a need, unless you’re an anaerobic organism.   Sex is a want.   Just because you want it a lot, or want it in order to feel something, doesn’t make it a need.

        4. Tron Swanson

          I’m already a loner. Without sex, I’d never have to speak to a woman again (for personal reasons). I doubt they’d miss me…

        5. S.


          I wasn’t even talking about women.   Just you know, your life.   You could live on an island and not be lonely.   You could travel and not miss anyone.   Spend hours coding.   I don’t know your interests, but it could be freedom.   Or genius!   I’m very tied to people and happily so, but you, you could go anywhere, for however long.

          That’s kind of the thing I think of.     There is just so much life out there, beyond sex, beyond any angst, if people don’t make you happy.   I think about life.

        6. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,

          Oxygen is a need, unless you’re an anaerobic organism.   Sex is a want.    

          I just heard the song “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye. I used to think it was a sexy song, but in light of all these recent posts about insatiable sex drives …. “Get up, get up, get up … ”      Hello, I’m trying to sleep! I have to go to work in 4 hours!   🙂

        7. Mrs Happy

          ETO: Work on a Saturday!   Oh no, poor you.   I’m experiencing a heatwave week here.   It’s as much as I can do, to walk from my back door, to the pool, jump in, return indoors to the couch, and repeat, all day.   No work for weeks.   It’s so hot the 1 metre long bearded dragon from our yard sits in the pool too.

        8. Emily, to

          Mrs. Happy,

          ETO: Work on a Saturday!   Oh no, poor you.   I’m experiencing a heatwave week here.  

          I work every Saturday. 🙁   And it’s cold here. I would LOVE warm weather. Are you in Australia?

          But back to the topic at hand … Why are there women on the porn post      disparaging it? If men and women’s sex drives are as wildly different as all these recent posts claim, why wouldn’t they be embracing porn? “Log onto pornhub.com, dear. See you in a few weeks.”      🙂

        9. Jeremy

          *Sigh*. Because it’s not about the sex, Emily.   If it was, you’d be right.   Seriously, let a married woman try that with her husband and let her see how it ends up.   I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall.   Let’s change the wording: “If conversation is so important to women, if men and women’s need for conversation is so different, why not give your wife a recording of your voice to listen to? See ya in a few weeks?”   Perhaps because the point of conversation is to connect with a human being?   That when we’re lonely we might watch artificial conversation (tv, podcasts, etc) but find them emotionally insufficient, especially to meet our need for love and connection?   And how much more so if we were only allowed to converse with one person?   The point of conversation is to connect emotionally, not to hear words.   The words are the vehicle for the emotion.   Sex is no different – it is a vehicle for certain emotions.


          Honestly guys, I despair of connecting here.   I gave a metaphor of oxygen and the response was that “oxygen is a need but sex is a want.”   As if we’re talking about needs vs wants.   It is a metaphor FFS.   When you have enough of it you don’t think about it much.   When you don’t, you do.   It is no different from conversation, touch, or any other human mode of connecting emotionally.   When it is lacking, it is the connection that is lacking, whatever that connection means to you.

        10. Evan Marc Katz

          I share your exasperation, Jeremy. It is endlessly frustrating to have your words twisted, misinterpreted, and almost willfully misunderstood. It is why I let you and Karl R do my bidding on here and largely keep my comments short – or even (GASP!) not comment when the effort is futile. The only valid criticism of this thread is that the original post was about women teaching men and this has turned into another valuable, if futile, lesson, on how women must continue to try to understand men (yes, even when men fail to understand you!).

        11. S.

          Sometimes I read other women’s comments here and it is like reading another language.   And I’m a woman. I wonder if others feel that way reading my comments?   I understand other women’s perspectives because I’ve known so, so, so many women and have had these conversations many, many times, but it’s just not quite how I see the world.

          I’m thinking about language and communication.   And things I learned when I was little.   How in communicating, you have to use what works to get your message to the person, not just what you want and need to say sometimes.   What works.   It’s not always satisfying but the message comes across.

          So here we are.   I actually feel bad that Jeremy feels he isn’t connecting.   Why? Because it’s clear that he’s really trying.   And as I said, effort matters.   So even though the oxygen analogy did hit a button for me, that doesn’t matter.   The point is that sex is a way of showing love toward men.   Not all men.   Tron, is a notable exception, but to a lot of men.   And the point was, don’t women spend time focusing on their unmet needs?   Of course they do. One difference for me is I don’t have to have men to get my main needs met.   Not my love needs.   But men want to have sex with actual live women who wants them back. That’s not always a need you can get met in other ways.

          The disconnect is that women are socialized so differently and we want that difference heard and addressed.   Men may hear it, but if their needs aren’t getting met, it’s difficult for them to really do anything about anyone else.   If two people both need to feel loved, really badly, it’s difficult for either of them to give that love, no?

          What I learned when I was little is about sharing. And sometimes you give to the other person first.   I know it’s a woman thing and we give and give and give.   But you know what?   You use discernment. You watch your boundaries.   You give first if you have it to give.   I’m not talking about sex here. I’m talking about giving   . . . understanding.

          I wrote this comment on Friday but didn’t post:

          I think I’ve decided men have to be heard first on the sex issue before any further discussion can be had.   It’s one issue men feel readily able to ask for and not compromise on.   That said, I know men have other needs.   And they want to be loved.   But our culture has socialized men to be less able to ask for love.   Which makes me feel great compassion for men.   Sex is an important way to show love, but it’s not the only way.   I’m not sure if it’s even the primary way, despite our culture.   I had hoped that redefining masculinity, would mean that men were more open to ask for all of their needs to be met.   And share to share these needs with their partners.

          Maybe with society as it is now, we can’t get to discussing other needs until men feel understood about this one.   So why not just . . . understand that?   Doesn’t mean we always have to have sex in real life. But it doesn’t cost anything to understand the primacy this has in a lot of men’s life.     In the beginning, when I read the article, I thought this thread would be about women teaching men, a discussion where women’s needs could be focused on and primarily the discussion would be about men who want to do that, like on the retreat. Not that men’s needs aren’t important and would never be discussed.   But that that that was what the article was about.

          The real lesson?   Is that we all keep trying to understand one another.   Yes, when it’s frustrating and seems futile.   Because it’s not futile.   In real life we have the ability to learn other languages.   And you don’t just learn the words in language, but the culture, the idioms, the humor, the flavor of the people speaking it.   What I’m sensing here is a group of people who on a basic level, don’t feel loved.   And that takes priority for me. I can’t always meet that need for them, but I do feel compassion for those feeling that way.   And I don’t mind if discussing that lack of feeling loved takes priority in this conversation.

        12. Mrs Happy

          ETO: yes, I’m in Sydney.   Bushfires circling the city today, a harsh week-long heatwave, brown snakes and funnel webs in my backyard.   But lovely, as always.

          Yes on the porn idea too – surely one way, not perfect but no solution will be, of negotiating differing libidos, is porn use.   Actually I have been impressed by the ideas about porn discussed over these 2 blogs, things I’ve never known or considered have been written.   It’s a great group of people who can contribute in such a reasonable and interesting way, and crowd grow ideas.

          J: Okay, oxygen was a metaphor like my serviette one, about as good, and attacked.   I didn’t mean to frustrate you, and should’ve been more considerate of your current state.   I just can’t stand sex being called a weapon or a need.   A landmine which blows a child’s leg off, or a bomb which kills preschoolers in Gaza, or an IED disabling soldiers in Afghanistan, is a weapon, and people have no right comparing the devastation these bring, to not getting the sex they want.   Clean safe water is a need, one which many people don’t have; it riled me to have the old ‘sex is a need’ position even hinted at.   In the countries we reside in, every need is provided for, and I get frustrated because we all want more (me included) once the basics are available.

          Your conversation point is interesting… because I don’t know that my purpose in conversing is to connect with others.   I suspect the main reason I want to converse with most people, is to learn, think or help.   With my partner, maybe conversation is more linked to connection.


          On average, men like lots of sex, women like lots of conversation.     We all understand this.   For generations, people have understood and accepted this.   It is what it is.   It can be frustrating to dissect the minutiae and personal variations.

        13. Emily, to


          I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall.  

          I can only speak for myself, of course, but I’m tapped out with these recurring topics   … comfort versus arousal, desire/sex, love languages, changing priorities, what women want versus what they think they want …

        14. Jeremy

          Evan, if your readers need it said, I’ll shout it from the rooftops – men should learn what women need and want.   Men should learn how to make women happy.   They should learn to CARE to make women happy.   They should learn that women’s needs are not the same as their own, and that women will not be happy if men only focus on what men like/want.   I feel like that’s akin to shouting that the sky is blue, but acknowledge that many men don’t see how obvious this is.   And hopefully men actually learn these lessons, rather than tapping out from the repeated message having learned nothing.


          But since we’re talking about what men should do, I’ll add one more thing:   Men should stop relegating their understanding of love to women.   They should stop depending on women to tell them what love is, what it means, stop leaning on women as the bastions of emotional intelligence.   Because when we do that, when we believe that “love” is what women tell us – what love is to them – we find ourselves in loving relationships where we aren’t happy and we don’t understand why.   Where we are told that we have intimacy, connection, understanding – LOVE – so why aren’t we happy?   Why are we so “immature?”   Why are we so willing, as Mrs Happy claimed in one of her comments, to blow up relationships in the search of “novelty/sex/desire”?   Answer – because for us, love is a different mix of emotions than it is for women, different pie chart, and if we aren’t getting our mix, we don’t have love – in spite of women telling us that we do, their telling us that wanting what we want is akin to a child throwing a tantrum because a sweet was taken away.


          S., I agree with your comment here. Thanks for posting it.

        15. SparklingEmerald

          Jeremy   said “Honestly guys, I despair of connecting here.   I gave a metaphor of oxygen and the response was that “oxygen is a need but sex is a want.”  

          Hi Jeremy – I hope you won’t go away again.   I found the retort to your metaphor to be rather cold AND inaccurate.   Their are physical needs AND emotional needs.   Emotional needs are very real, and it is very cold to flat out ignore a partner’s emotional needs because “they won’t die if they are unmet”.

          I understood your metaphor PERFECTLY.   I did not take it to mean that lack of sex would lead immediately to death as oxygen would, but rather that it is UNMET needs (weather physical or emotional) that are going to come up for the person with unmet needs. Heck, even are unmet WANTS are going to keep coming up.   The key to this metaphor was UNMET, not meant to be an exact correlarry of oxygen and sex.

          Women come on here all the time with this, that or the other emotional need.   I NEED my boyfriend to call me more, I NEED a man to court me, I NEED a man that makes me feel safe, secure and heard, etc.   Nothing wrong with that, that is what this blog is all about, so I really don’t understand jumping all over a man expressing his emotional needs.

          Also, I slightly disagree that unmet emotional needs won’t kill. Unmet emotional needs might not kill you IMMEDIATELY as would lack of oxygen, but I do believe mental illness like depression and anxiety will shorten your life due to the stress.   Aren’t most depression and anxiety disorders the result of unmet needs ?   OK, loneliness is basically a package of unmet needs, and I think loneliness is a big cause of death.   I went to the funeral of friend whose sister committed suicide.   It was heartbreaking.   I only knew the sister slightly but I found her to be a very kind, loving soul.   She was in a helping profession.   She spent her entire adult life in service to others, had tons of friends and family who loved her, but as I sadly found out, she took her own life because she tired of being lonely.

          Also, I do believe for men, sex is felt as a PHYSICAL need way more strongly than for women, due to the physiology of sperm build up.     However, what I have learned here, and in some cases IRL, that for men, it can also be an emotional need, and I think if you are with a man who has an EMOTIONAL and a PHYSICAL need to connect sexually, that if you want to stay married at least LISTEN to his need and don’t just tell him “HEY buster, it won’t kill you to do without sex”.   Try to find some half way   compromise, try to negotiate a way around differing libidos.   Tell your hubby “Hey, it won’t kill you to go without sex” is cold, and will certainly kill any love he has for you.

          Maybe unmet emotional needs won’t kill you physically, but they can certainly lead to what I call “soul death”.

          And BTW, sex is not a life sustaining need on an individual basis, but it is a need for our collective survival as a species.   So it really is not surprising to me, that for sex/love deprived persons, the urgency of this unmet need feels like a matter of life or death.

          I think there is a loneliness epidemic in our society. Some people are single and lonely, but married and lonely is the worst.   And this loneliness epidemic can kill us, however slowly.    The “cure” for loneliness lies with US.   All of us.   Listening to each other. Being a friend to each other.   Not just our spouses, but our children, friends, even a stranger on a blog, etc.

          Jeremy – Please stick around.   Although I do sometime find your arousal/comfort themes to be tiring at times,   I do appreciate the male perspective you bring to this blog.   I hope a few dismissive callous responses to your unmet emotional needs won’t chase you away.


        16. Marika

          It’s not just men, peeps. If there’s a mismatch of desire expressed through sex, that can be soul destroying for anyone, particularly sensitive people, regardless of gender. I don’t think the people who don’t understand this concept don’t understand it because they are women, it must be a personality thing. Probably a good analogy is hugs. If you love a hug at the end of the day, when you’re upset, love to hug your kids, as an acknowledgement of a job well done etc, and the other person pulls away, tells you they want to hug you, they really do, but not today; maybe tomorrow and btw it’s my body!! Doesn’t feel good. You tell yourself (or they tell you) they aren’t a big hugger, it’s not about you. It’s not personal. But it still hurts.

        17. Tron Swanson


          I try to ensure that people are a small part of my life…but I consider sex a need, not a want. It may not be an existential need, but it’s certainly a biological and psychological one, if you’ll allow me to split hairs. The advice of “There’s so much more to life, you don’t really need sex” is simply not a good long-term plan if you want a healthy society. I’m afraid that we’re about to discover what even a small amount of sexual starvation will do to a civilization…

        18. S.


          I wasn’t thinking about your not needing sex. I was thinking about you not needing relationships. You know, all the ‘stuff’. It seemed it could be freeing.

          For me relationships and all the stuff that go with them are a need. I’d be terribly lonely on a desert island. I can (and have) gone years without sex. Even when I had the option. I don’t know how long I could survive without people. I’d be talking to several Wilsons as Tom Hanks did in Cast Away. I’d probably go more than a bit mad.

          I’d never try and say society would be better without sex! Anymore than I’d say society would be better without hugs. Or without relationships at all. People need touch and affection, sexual or otherwise. Babies without touch fail to thrive.

          We are a social people. Together is how we have survived to this point. I hope you enjoy the few people you allow to be part of your life. And you can take ‘enjoy’ however you wish. 😉

      2. 13.5.2

        Sylvana, I love all your comments, which express how many of us feel but can’t put in words, and at the same time don’t insult men.

        So what is the solution to the relationship failings? Like you, I think men are wonderful, but overhanging patriarchy means all sorts of unbalanced expectations in relationships. If men really are wonderful as we know them to be, why can’t that also be true in relationships? Is it that they grew up seeing how their parents related unequally? Is it movies, media, etc.?

        It circles back to your points about dominant and kind men. A dominant and kind man would not have to be nagged all the time to do his fair share of household chores; he would just see what needed to be done and do it. Maybe exactly the problem is that we need more of that kind of masculine man, so that women can REALLY relax in relationships or marriages, not feel constantly on edge because they are doing all the work and have to nag him to do his share. It’s not even about worrying about straying. I agree with you there.

        Isn’t that what a man wants too? A woman who relaxes in his presence, and isn’t always complaining or on edge? I think Mrs. Happy mentioned that. So we DO want our men to be more masculine. But that means taking charge, taking care of things. Not that we won’t chip in of course, but most women in relationships already doing more than our fair share.

        Maybe a problem is different concepts of masculinity: that men think masculine is defined by not doing what they see as ‘girly’ things (including household work), but women know that what we find masculine and attractive in a man is taking charge and not worrying about whether something has been traditionally girly – just doing it, if it needs to be done.

      3. 13.5.3

        It is sad, but I’ve experienced what you are talking about here: if you like sex you’re a slut (and have no worth) and if you don’t, you’re frigid (and have no worth).

        This is why it’s a big deal to have the man plan, pursue and pay. It means that his arousal is high enough to stimulate his feelings of being desired and to meet his emotional and meta goals. When a man isn’t planning, pursuing and paying, most of the time (not always) it means either his arousal for you is not that high, or in some way you don’t match his emotional/meta needs, or that his only interest in you is for the sake of variety. It’s not that a man “should” do those things, it’s that it’s a indication of the man’s level of interest – the ONLY one that works in almost every instance. However angry men might get about this, it often goes unnoticed that this is independent of the woman’s level of interest. Her interest might be high, but without his, it remains one sided and goes nowhere.

      4. 13.5.4

        You’re welcome, Jeremy! One woman is acknowledging the possibilities. 🙂 I don’t have a problem admitting that the way we discuss things here can be counterproductive.   What’s the harm in admitting that?   I am here to learn when I can.

        Sometimes as a woman, I get tired. I love my people, everyone of them to bits.   If I had unlimited time and resources I’d just love on them anyway they liked to the best of my ability. I still spend a lot of time doing that because I enjoy it.   And I’m good at it. 🙂 But. I’m a single woman and there are lotsa balls to juggle.   I think men should find places where they are immediately understood.   That’s why I mentioned men’s groups and such above.   Not to give up on women.   Of course women should keep trying to understand men and vice versa. Just sometimes it’s nice to be in a space where people understand your point of view easily and you can feel safe and . . . rest.   As a woman, I don’t really want to define what love is for a man.   I want to understand the pieces of a few men’s pies so I can try and meet their needs if I can, but I don’t want to define their pies.   The point of redefining masculinity was I thought men wanted to redefine it.   That they are being hurt by it currently. Masculinity is not for women to redefine, in my opinion, though women expressing their pain from patriarchy can inform it, but not define it.

        Unrelated to this conversation, sometimes women are tired and just want to be heard and not always provide love.   Our bodies get tired.   It’s not just men who sometimes borrow women’s definition of love. Children. Elderly parents. Etc. We get tired.   It’s usually temporary because most women I know, and choose to know, love loving. Love nurturing. Love sex. 🙂   But we all need respite.   So maybe that’s why you feel unheard sometimes.   Not sure if this blog is a place for respite, though.   For anyone!

        It’s a hard lesson for me.   Tired me.   To provide respite in the way the other person needs it before receiving it.   That said, I have to admit, when I provide it first to men, well, people,   I usually receive it back pretty easily.   I just don’t provide it first often.   (Which could explain a lot right there.)   I provide respite to myself alone first.   Nothing wrong with that, but I am going to look at men with a bit more compassion going forward.   It’s hard to do because I’m so exhausted emotionally at times.   But I will try.   And no, no one is saying to neglect myself. Don’t worry, I won’t!   But I am a compassionate person and it won’t cost me to put that side of myself first sometimes.   It really isn’t that difficult, just I forget sometimes.

        Thanks again.   I hope you still aren’t despairing.   I actually feel more optimistic after reading these comments. And more warm   towards men.   And there is nothing wrong with that. 🙂

    6. 13.6

      Jeremy, great question, and I hope you got the answers you were looking for. Now I wonder if you would be willing to return the favor and tell us what you have learned about women that you didn’t know before, from reading books, blogs, and more. We also want to hear your perspective. Thanks.

  14. 14

    Have to laugh. Just had one of those sit-com- man -vs- woman experiences that proves I don’t understand male thinking – and have no problem admitting it!

    My male housemate never vacuums. Never. He’s lived with me for about 4 months now. He’s cooking dinner for a date tonight so for once he is vacuuming. He took out the vacuum cleaner, laughed in a mocking sort of way,  then asked me if ‘anyone’ ever empties the bag. I just sorted of shrugged and asked ‘oh is it full?’. Then he complained about how his ex-girlfriend (who he admitted vacuumed ‘a lot’) never emptied the bag either and bags don’t empty themselves! Then asked me how to empty it…

    Sigh! 😉

    It’s moments like this I wish there was a course to teach, let’s say people to think before they speak. And certainly before they mock! 😂

    1. 14.1


      hahahaaa! That one is a classic! Bags don’t empty themselves. But apparently, that vacuum cleaner operates itself. You guys weren’t talking about a Roomba, by any chance? lol

  15. 15

    I’m not even sure what the expression “emotional availability” means. I suspect men feel emotions differently, on average, from women. They tend to be more neutral in terms of emotions. When a woman might think a man is withholding his feelings from her, its more likely he simply isn’t feeling any significant emotions at that moment.

    At the start of a relationship, a man will feel unusually happy, and will express that. When the honeymoon phase of the relationship ends, these emotions ebb away and the man returns to his more neutral normal state and becomes what the woman might experience as unexpressive.  Is a call for “emotional availability” the desire to have the early, honeymoon, stage of the relationship extended indefinitely?

    1. 15.1
      Mrs Happy

      Dear Chris,

      I’m not even sure what the expression “emotional availability” means.

      In the context of relationships, it means the following.

      (Personally, I find being properly emotionally available a lot of work, and it’s one of the first behaviours I decrease when tired and overwhelmed.     I try to be emotionally available for my children to increase their chance of developing a secure attachment style and because I love them a lot, and for husband, friends and extended family because it improves connections with them.   I suspect the main love language each adult yearns for, is in fact the love language they didn’t receive enough of, from their parents.   And thus the cycle of emotionally unbalanced humans continues.)

      Spending time with your children.   Playing with them (usually boring-for-the-adult children’s games).   Reading them stories (yet again, when they are young, same story, as repetition improves language development, boring for the adult on the 2nd let alone 100th reading of the same book).   Cuddling them when they are upset so as to teach them they can calm down (so after a million cuddles between 1-10 years, by age 10 they do know they can calm their upset emotions down in a self-contained way, instead of in the future shooting someone else or harming themselves when they’re angry or upset).   Attending any number of baby/toddler/child-related groups and activities, to show them how to socialise, take directions, and emotionally interact with people, e.g. other kids, in the music class fighting over the drums, or at gymnastics sharing the balance beam, etc.   Intervening in innumerable tantrums between siblings in a non-reactive-yourself way.   Problem-solving angst issues like who is bullying them in the playground (which involves being home early enough to discuss their day with them, i.e. not when they’re tired and about to go to bed, plus later sorting things out by communicating with the teacher the next day during 9am-3pm).   Teaching them things, verbally or by example – how to fix the gutters, how to sew a button, correct grammar.   Being there for them in a day-to-day way and not just for special occasions.   Planning activities then being present with them during the experience – e.g. not taking them somewhere, then burying your head in your screen, or talking on the phone, or reading a book, while you’re out with them.   If they’re scared at night in the dark, staying with them.

      The emotional work of raising kids is quite separate from the practical (feed/clean/house/drive/bathe/put to bed/find a school/take to doctor and dentist) work, and many parents, particularly dads, just opt out of most of it, and expect someone else to do it, or don’t realise it needs doing; some parents just don’t provide it, and those children grow up disadvantaged.   Most fathers will not take a career progression or income hit to spend more time with their children, and most mothers will.   My observation is, many dads don’t realise the emotional stuff is important, and in fact get jealous their wife is providing all that nurturing to the children and not to them.   Women usually realise how important it is, after they’ve birthed the baby and spent time at home with the newborn, and that’s why so many women decide to alter their career path only after they’ve been at home with their baby – they want their kids to have their emotional availability (almost no-one else apart from a parent is going to bother doing this much work for a child, including daycare staff etc).

      In the context of emotional availability to spouse/lover/girlfriend/friend/other family member, given those people are adults, hopefully they are more self-able (they’ll probably be more emotionally needy, or pathologically avoidant, if they missed out on the above emotional parenting as children) and you don’t have to do so much.   Emotional availability in those relationships means being there for them when needed, and this will vary.   Maybe for your self-sufficient mother, it’ll be driving her to the hospital when sick, and staying with her, holding hands, while she receives medical news, then checking in with her in the weeks after, and visiting, and talking about her feelings.   Maybe for your girlfriend it’ll be snuggling and listening while she cries about stress at work.   Some people want their partner there close most of the time for emotional support (these people would exhaust me), some are happy with a 10-minute conversation once a day.   Finding a partner who is comfortable with the amount of emotional availability you are comfortable providing, in the long term not just the first 2 years while lust hormones connect you, is an important relationship goal.

  16. 16

    Jeremy, you’re eloquent and pleasant, but your comments make me feel like you’re trying to Jedi-mind-trick us. 🙂 You keep writing that for men, it’s not all about sex, but all your comments repeatedly reveal that it IS about sex. You say you value deep conversations in one comment, but in another comment reveal that conversations don’t matter unless you’ve had sex first. You say that sex isn’t a be-all end-all, then in the same comment reveal that to men, it’s like oxygen. (Which I have to disagree; you need oxygen to survive, but you don’t need sex to survive. But the very fact that a man would compare sex to oxygen is pretty telling.)

    The reason I asked you in an earlier comment the counterpoint to your own question – what have you learned about women? – is that another of your comments reveal that you’re not really hearing us. You quote a woman explaining why she doesn’t want sex all the time, and then say that a man only hears ‘blah blah blah’ – with all due respect, that is not listening to the woman. Not showing that he cares about what women are trying to communicate about ourselves.

    So please let me try to articulate it from a woman’s point of view. We really don’t want it all the time because, while we love you, we also love ourselves and our bodies. When we don’t want it and we feel pressured to keep putting out, it does sometimes feel like negating our bodies, forcing our bodies to do something we don’t want, forcing us to put on an act that we’re not feeling. Sometimes it does feel like a violation to our bodies. We are denying our own needs at the moment to meet yours. And when that happens repeatedly and we also feel that we’re not being heard, then we do feel upset and stressed. That will manifest itself in a number of ways.

    Men and women have to meet in the middle, not just men asking, ‘well, what have you women learned about us?’ without showing the same good-faith effort to learn from us women and care about our viewpoint too. Which is what I think a major point of this seminar was about, even if it did not advertise itself that way (I have issues with that, and would agree with Jeremy here that it’s not marketed to appeal to men).

    Otherwise it is like Sylvana says: in this day and age where a woman can provide for her material needs, why would she agree to a lopsided relationship with a man? When she does want it, she can get it pretty easily, and she’s not also doing more than her fair share of work involved with living with another (or a whole family, for that matter).

    I am not trying to pick on Jeremy or men in general, just summarizing what I’ve seen from this discussion and adding thoughts from a woman’s viewpoint.

    1. 16.1

      I hardly know where to start with this, Jo, so I’ll address only a few of your points:

      1) “You wrote in one comment that you deeply value conversations but in another that conversation is meaningless until you’ve had sex.”   Meaningless as a LOVE LANGUAGE, Jo, not as conversation in and of itself.   How to explain?   I’ll quote a commenter on this site from a few years back, “Mary complained to Peter that he never talked to her.   He could see she was upset, so to make it up to her he went off to mend the shed roof.”   It’s not that she couldn’t appreciate his mending of the roof, it’s that it wasn’t what she needed at the moment to feel loved.


      2)  “You need oxygen to survive, you don’t need sex to survive.”   Relationships REQUIRE that both individuals speak the love language of the other.   If not, the  relationship will die, as surely as a living thing deprived of oxygen.   How is this not obvious?


      3) “You quote a woman explaining why she doesn’t want sex and then that the man hears only blah blah blah.   This shows that you don’t care what women are trying to communicate about ourselves.”   On the contrary.   I took great pains to articulate the woman’s perspective, and I put her perspective FIRST!   My point was to say that when one partner refuses to speak the love language of the other, it is THAT partner that isn’t hearing the other.   In such a case, she should not EXPECT her partner to care what her reasons are. Did she care about his?   One can not expect to be heard when one refuses to hear.

  17. 17

    Mrs Happy

    You have a pool? Be over in 20. I’ll bring the watermelons and mango macadamia Weis bar 🙂

  18. 18

    Jeremy said, “*Sigh*I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall….Honestly guys, I despair of connecting here  ”

    Evan said, “I share your exasperation,  Jeremy. It is endlessly frustrating to have your words twisted, misinterpreted, and almost willfully misunderstood.

    Hahaha, Jeremy do you remember my comment from 2 weeks ago to Marika in the post titled: “My Boyfriend of 3 years says he isn’t attracted to me, should I still marry him?” It should be around 26.1.2.

    My prediction involving you came true! (^_^)

    …     …     …

    I was reading this historian’s thesis on a famous dictator from a few hundred years ago. The one paragraph that stuck out to me the most is when he summed it up by saying that the most dangerous thing about this dictator was not that he was a mass murder but the fact that he in his heart honestly did not believe that he was a murder. He oppressed and killed thousands but he genuinely believed that everything he did was for the good of the people.

    Now to be fair I am not comparing any commenter or any gender to a dictator. The point is to illustrate how dangerous someone is when they are clearly doing something wrong or even harmful but in their mind they can not and will not see their actions as anything but good, because they know in their hearts they are good people…. They are a good relationship partner… They are a good catch…


    1. 18.1
      Mrs Happy

      I suspect most people think they are a better catch, than they in fact are. Hence all the attempts to date “up”. We can all easily list our positives and be somewhat blind to our negatives.

      Most people aren’t good at introspection, and many project blame outwards rather than self-improve.   The average human is fairly average in their ability to consider others’ views, and adjust their own thinking accordingly – they don’t do it easily, or much at all.   Only a minority of people can use new information to change their mind.

      The people commenting here are above average in their ability to tolerate difference of opinion and discuss sensitive topics – sure, some attack the messenger, insult others, or become abusive, but most posters exchange ideas politely and are able to listen.   Look how the coined term meta-goals has become part of everyone’s vocab in just a year –   we’ve all adjusted our beliefs about relationship wants in a major way, just absorbing this term.

      Having differing viewpoints, and disagreeing with one another, is allowed.   Just because one doesn’t win an argument by changing another’s mind, doesn’t mean one wasn’t heard.

      1. 18.1.1

        Look how the coined term meta-goals has become part of everyone’s vocabulary in just a year – we’ve all adjusted our beliefs about relationships wants in a major way, just absorbing this term.”   Mwahahaha….the master-plan is almost complete (fingertips tapping together).


        So you think our yearnings are based on what we don’t receive enough of as children?   Interesting idea.   I’d have thought the reverse – that our yearnings are based on what we once had but then lost, lost when we were no longer the cute children who had the effortless love of all those around us.   Did you ever read Alan De Botton’s book, “Status Anxiety”?   Not a great book, but amazing preface/first chapter.   He talks about how all of us search for 2 great loves in this lifetime – the love of a romantic partner and the love of society, and how we seek the love of society through status to replace what we lost as children.   Not sure if he’s correct, but provides an interesting counter-balance to your thoughts.   Because I’d think that if you were correct, a child who received secure love would turn out as a secure adult….yet how many narcissists (anxious-avoidants) have I met who received all the love and yearn for more?   And how many have I met who received no love and became avoidant, individualistic?   I bet both your idea and De Botton’s have validity, likely combine in certain ways.

        1. Mrs Happy

          Hmmm … sharpening my theory on your job.

          I could not stand Alan De Bottom’s writing style when I tried to read his first fiction novel, but I’ll try his non-fiction.   Was just wondering what to do with January; you’ve saved me from studying a language, which would be difficult for me, it’s not a natural skill, so thanks.

          IMHO – and I’m sure there are others more knowledgeable than I, on these topics:

          Of course we want and search for the things we didn’t receive enough of as children.   Your wife can explain what a strong sense of self is.   And basic attachment theory as per Bowlby and Ainsworth explains avoidant behaviours – I’d love to claim credit for that one but I’d be a century late.

          Narcissism is personality, related to self worth and anxiety, and has little to do with attachment styles.   Narcissists are extremely fragile; they didn’t receive enough validation or attention or love.

          Because most mothers/primary caregivers are flawed, most babies and infants don’t get everything they want, even as cute young children.   There are always deficits.   But security, safety, predictability, love, time, attention, are more likely to create a more secure adult, theoretically.

          How is your return to work going post holiday?   I’ve just had the laziest week ever and long may it continue; 2018 exhausted me.   But I think I need to start doing something stimulating.

        2. Jeremy

          ”Narcissism is personality, related to self worth and anxiety, and has little to do with attachment styles.   Narcissists are extremely fragile, they didn’t receive enough validation or attention or  love.”   Ooh, I strongly disagree with this.   Not that narcissism doesn’t relate to personality – of course it does – but that it doesn’t also dovetail with attachment style.


          I know (and am related to) so many narcissists.   They all received TOO MUCH love/attention from their parents as young children.   They all had their egos overly-inflated by being told how great/smart/handsome they were, while secretly not believing it due to an anxious personality.   They need to hear from others how great they are – constantly – because without that, they believe they are nothing.   Overly accommodated to hearing praise.   Affects the way they attach to others, what they seek in attachment, their ability to attach at all.   Personality and attachment….how could one think they would not be inextricably linked?   The problem I have with the old-style psychologists (and even the newer ones) is that they so often ignore what they aren’t testing for as if it doesn’t exist…


          My best friend had an awful childhood.   His parents used to beat him, deprive him of certain necessities (they would only let him shower once per week to conserve water, for example), would tell him he was stupid and berate him for being short.   He was so traumatized, and succeeded in life in spite of it all.   He is now trying to raise his own children the opposite way (for obvious reasons), and yet he is going too far.   Too much attention, too much praise.   He will tell his 10 year old son things like, “You’re the smartest kid in the world.” Or, “You’re the best there is at everything.” Or, “I just can’t believe how great you are.”   That’s the way to create a narcissist IMHO. Because one day this boy will come across a situation where he isn’t the smartest, isn’t the best, and when that happens he will be confronted with a paradox between the world as it is and the world he was raised to believe in.   And he will have to decide whether to nix his upbringing or to believe there is something wrong with everyone and everything other than himself.   Too many people choose the latter.   That is the genesis of a narcissist IME.


          Oh, and work is stressful, very very busy.   I sometimes wonder whether it is better to take relaxing vacations (as I did) and be negatively affected when reality reasserts, or to take lousy vacations where you kiss the ground when you return and thank god for your regular life…I suspect the latter would be better in the long-run, but who would choose to do it?

  19. 19

    And what, specifically, do these women teach men about women?   What are the gender specific topics?

    1. 19.1
      Mrs Happy

      How to rearrange chairs?

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