You Have Two Choices: Choose Better Men or Treat Men Better

Paul is 41-years-old, never married, but it’s not obvious why. He’s cute and boyish. He’s charming and successful. He’s fun to be around and is well-liked by strangers. Most importantly, Paul knows how to treat a woman – he’s interested, he listens, and he’s infinitely patient. Paul undoubtedly has good husband potential.

Unfortunately, Paul’s radar for picking women is a little off. He’s constantly drawn to the holy trinity of youth, beauty and intelligence.

As a result, he tends to date 29-year-old women who are way into their careers, their friends, and themselves. His latest girlfriend is named Kim. Paul fell for Kim because she’s so attractive and impressive, but Kim isn’t fully reciprocating.

Paul’s radar for picking women is a little off. He’s constantly drawn to the holy trinity of youth, beauty and intelligence.

They go out as a couple, they spend time together, they sleep together – and Paul loves every second of it – but he’s not quite sure if Kim does. Yes, she’s Paul’s girlfriend, but she doesn’t make him feel sexy, doesn’t make him feel needed, and doesn’t make him feel safe.

They fight too often. The silences are sometimes unbearable. The entire time they’re together, Paul walks on eggshells, hoping that Kim doesn’t break up with him.

Until, predictably, she does.

Paul couldn’t have been a better boyfriend. He was always generous with money, he always understood when Kim needed alone time or needed to cancel a date because of work. And now she’s gone, and Paul is not just sad, but PISSED.

He did everything in his power to treat Kim right and THIS is the thanks he gets?

In that moment, Paul concludes that he’s done with this crap. The next time he meets a woman, he’s not going to do ANY of that.

No more calling consistently.
No more paying for every dinner.
No more putting up with the demands of her career.

From now on, he’s not giving anything to a woman until she proves she’s worthy.

Believe me, Paul doesn’t want it to be this way, he just has no choice.

He can’t expend any more energy on unappreciative women for one second longer.

He’s done being a chump.

Now remember, Paul’s a good guy. A great boyfriend. He’s just been burned one too many times by a selfish woman. So he withdraws. Says he’s done with dating. And if he does date, she’s going to have to work very hard to prove she’s worthy, because he’s not going to give the way he did in the past with Kim.

Imagine you’re the next woman who meets Paul. He’s attractive and intelligent, all right, but he’s bruised. He wears it like a badge. He makes it really clear – whether he wants to or not – that he’s not going to be taken advantage of by a woman ever again.

How does this make you feel about Paul?

Certainly Paul is entitled to his pain and frustration, but YOU’RE not the one who caused it. And now you have to pay the price because KIM was selfish to him?

Chances are, you’re not sticking around to wait for Paul to work out his pain. You’re going to find a guy who is like the OLD Paul – the one who gives, and listens, and follows through and acts with integrity.

The new damaged Paul is going to have to find a woman who is a bigger glutton for punishment than you are. Sadly, he’s probably going to have to wait awhile because most women don’t want men who are testing them, who refuse to give, who are inherently mistrustful of women.

So, do you have anything in common with Paul?

Have you been the “giver” in relationships and concluded that you’re never going to be that way again?

Has that been a successful plan?

Are men flocking to the defensive, mistrustful, protective, selfish version of you?

If so, it’s in spite of how you’re acting, not because of how you’re acting.

It’s not HIS fault he’s taking advantage of you. It’s YOUR fault for choosing him and staying with him.

Clearly, there are men, like Paul, who will put up with all sorts of misbehavior from women. And there are women – maybe even you – who will put up with all sorts of misbehavior from men.

The problem is, you’re putting up with the WRONG misbehavior.

The reason I’m writing this blog post at all is because I was thinking about my wife the other day and how amazing she is to me.

How she makes me watermelon and apple juice each morning with our fancy new juicer.

How she encourages me to go out drinking with friends on a Tuesday night when she’s still got work to do.

How she laughs that I’m always surrounded by three women at every single party we attend together.

And because she’s this way, it makes me appreciative. So in return I’ll take her job of making the bed, even though we’ve got way too many pillows for my liking.

Or I’ll scour LA Weekly for food and wine festivals that she enjoys so much.

Or I’ll listen to her vent about her boss – even though it’s pretty much the same exact conversation we’ve had for three years straight.

To be clear: my WIFE sets the tone with her generosity and emotional understanding. And I do everything in my power to give back in return.

That’s what makes us work.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking that you’re just like my wife – never complaining, never criticizing, always giving – and you’re STILL taken advantage of by the men you date, that just means that you need to CUT OFF THOSE MEN quicker.

It’s not HIS fault he’s taking advantage of you.

It’s YOUR fault for choosing him and staying with him, the same as it’s Paul’s fault for perpetually choosing selfish women over givers.

Thus, the complaint that you’re a giver who attracts takers is a false one. If you dump all the men who are takers, guess what? They can’t take anymore!

It’s undeniable: the way to bring the best out of your boyfriend is to be a giver.

You can literally change the way he acts towards you just by being happier, more playful, more generous and less judgmental towards him.

The RIGHT guy will appreciate this and treat you better in return.

The guy who doesn’t appreciate this should be summarily dismissed.

If you have a boyfriend, try this, and let me how it goes.

Do you think your relationships are better when you hold back or when you give? Your comments are appreciated.

Join our conversation (173 Comments).
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  1. 31


    Many men ARE givers. Women should reciprocate.  If a good man is really interested in you than he will want to give his best and provide.  My mom can’t believe that some women bend over backwards buying things for men, and giving men all of their time and energy while the man shows little real initiative or interest. Most of these women are being foolish thinking that by giving the man everything he will want them.  It never works.  Let the man show that he cares about you first.  Then reciprocate it by showing appreciation.  That works best.  Women who complain that men aren’t giving are always the ones who are still single, giving their all chasing after unavailable and selfish men.  

  2. 32

    @Ellen #2

    My mom would tell you to stop chasing men who don’t love you.  Meet lots of men like Evan has always suggested, but let them show that they love you.  Otherwise you will just be disappointed and end up feeling used.  It’s pretty clear that your last online bf didn’t love you.  He wouldn’t withdraw emotionally if he did.

    And even if your love is as powerful as you claim it to be, you can’t use it to “interest” a man.  Save your powerful love for a man who shows by his actions that he loves you 1st.  Then you will be able to reciprocate and have a wonderful relationship, and you won’t run out of love gas!

    I love Evan’s blog because he gives the same advice that my “old fashioned” mom gives.  My parents are still married and very happy so the advice does work.  It’s funny how all the women who get angry when they hear the truth from Evan are still not getting any better results.

  3. 33

    Last night, I was at a holiday party. I talked to a guy, probably 38-41 who had his own ad agency business. He told me that he sees young hot models all day because that is his business, but he was not interested in them. He wants someone he can talk to intelligently. Then he says his last girlfriend was 23. She was a hot model, but they had nothing to talk about. Then he says that he’d like to get married and have kids some day. Then he adds that he’d like a woman that does not use him for his money. I picked up a lot in the time we talked. He sounded like a real life “Paul” from EMK’s blog here. He also sounded like he has a huge check list.
    I think if a woman treated the guy I met last night the way EMK recommends, he would come around and be interested in marriage and family and all. That’s my gut feeling as a guy. So EMK’s comments are pretty well spot on there.
    But I should add that my gut instinct about the guy I met last night also tells me that while he had a lot going for him financially and in style and confidence, he might have some issues of his own that could make a relationship with a woman challenging. So you could do all the right things and still find the wrong person.
    Just sharing a real life situation that relates to this blog, and from a guy’s perspective.

  4. 34

    @ valleyforgelady #27:

    So because Paul is 41, he needs to limit his dating pool to 41 year old single moms?

    1. 34.1
      Luana de Paula

      Not necessarily. He could find a 41 years old woman with no children. Maybe 10 tears older or younger.

      But a beautiful 29 years old woman dating a man 20+ years older than her? That’s probably not love, nor physical attraction. If if she has a life of her own. She probably loves that attention/devotion older man give women much younger than them, as if they were getting younger themselves, as if they were the luckiest men alive for dating such young pretty thing… while he is no young hot thing himself.

      So he has to think: if he finds a young beautiful woman that desirable (and more than older women), why woudn’t she feel the same about young hot men? Why would she settle for him whe she can get better? Why would HE want her to date a guy that is not the most attractive a man can be?

      1. 34.1.1

        Again, because maybe because 29 =/= best catch on the planet by virtue of being 29.  “Why would she settle for him whe she can get better”  One could also ask “Why should he settle for some immature princess when he can get better (and maybe even younger) if that’s all he wanted?”  That said, generally they don’t, they play around until they’re in their mid to late 30’s thinking they’re God’s gift to men, then when their clock starts ticking so loud other people can hear it then they think they can “settle” for whoever they want, then when that doesn’t work they become raging man haters like Ellen for example.

        1. Adreana

          The same goes for men..they play around and date the  hot but crazy  types, and once they’re older they “settle” for the nice girl next door. In the case of a much older man dating a younger woman, everyone looks at him as being the lucky one and not vice verse.

  5. 35

    PS: While we are on the topic, my favorite Meher Baba quotes on Love and living in the moment:

    Happiest is he who expects no happiness from others. Love delights and glorifies in giving, not receiving. So learn to love and give, and not to expect anything from others.

    Real happiness lies in helping others. (my all time favorite and how I try to live)

    Love and happiness are important.

    LOVE is essentially self-communicative: those who do not have it catch it from those who have it

    Live more and more in the Present, which is ever beautiful and stretches away beyond the limits of the past and the future.

  6. 36
    Ronnie Ann Ryan - The Dating Coach for Women Over 40

    This is a great post because it addresses people who over-give and then get angry. Giving is important Evan, I agree. And so is Receiving. A lot of women are so busy giving, they forget about reciprocity until they get to the super angry point. Why give to someone who doesn’t appreciate your efforts?
    I also think ValleyForgeWoman has a good point. This works both ways – for women who insist on trying to date the top 5% of men AND for men who insist on dating only the top 5% of women who are younger. For singles of either sex, if you can widen your criteria and aim for 7’s and 9’s, not 10’s, you will find a warmer pool of wonderful human beings who are ready for love, good at relationships and serious about commitment like you are.

  7. 37

    THANK YOU. I’m sick of hearing “Good guys finish last” from really bitter guys who have been treated badly by women. Of course, women are equally guilty of saying something like that too. Different guy friends that I’ve had know that when they say anything like that to me, my only response is “No, your picker is just broken.”

  8. 38

    [email protected]: If the guy is 38-41 and he says he wants to get married and have kids “someday,” then he is not seriously thinking about marriage and kids. By the time he gets around to picking someone to create family with, a guy in that age range would have to go seriously younger. So maybe he’s right to be hanging out with the younger crowd if he isn’t ready. Risky, of course. Because maybe the hot young thing wouldn’t want to settle down with a guy 20 years older than she is. She probably has a lot of options.

    But I disagree with one thing you said–no female behavior is going to get a guy to “come around” and “get interested in marriage.” A person either wants it or he/she doesn’t, and it is completely that person’s choice and responsibility.   

  9. 39

    Hi there!

    I have a question for Evan, at what point in a relationship/after you begin dating a guy do you start displaying such characteristics/actions? I’m naturally a very giving and thoughtful person, I love bringing a smile to someone’s face, be it a surprise coffee or coming across that something I know someone would love and gifting it to them ‘just because’. The last guy that I dated for any length of time was for about 7 weeks. From the beginning we would touch base everyday and we hung out a few times a week. So after about a month when I noticed he really needed something for his home, I just got it for him (a bit of a bigger gift than the odd little things up to then, batteries, lighters etc, just what I would notice he would be out of). This seemed to make him uncomfortable as he wasn’t comfortable with getting such a gift, I convinced him to keep it though and he was very happy. However, soon thereafter it turned out he “wasn’t ready for a relationship”.

    My beef is the following: I feel like if I hold back on my giving nature then I’m not really being myself and therefore “he”‘s not getting to know the real me. I don’t like this whole tit for tat and I never do anything expecting something in return, I do it for the joy of giving. I know you say to let the guy chace you, would that include in the generosity department too? Should we hold off on giving until he shows this first? Somehow that still feels like a game…which I’m not very good at. I don’t play hard to get, I’m very upfront and honest, which recently I’ve been told is intimdating, that it may scare guys since they think if I’m like that at the beginning it’ll only get worse the more comfortable I get. This isn’t the case however because I’m me no matter what (worked hard to get there) and now it seems I have to pull back to not scare them off? [[as a side note, I get a lot of interest from the opposite sex, attracting them isn’t a problem, but having only ever been in long relationships in my 20’s, and those became exclusive etc very quickly, I have no idea how to go from the first date to boyfriend/girlfriend, that seems to be where things fall apart, perhaps Evan, you might simply say I haven’t met the one? However I just want to make sure I don’t scare him off before he sees how awesome I am!! I have this on good authority ;)]]

  10. 40

    Blonde: “Never travel faster in love then he does”. Meaning, let him be the first one to gift you, call you, ask you on a date, say I love you, etc. I wouldn’t buy gifts for a guy until a while into an exclusive relationship (except birthday and Christmas of course). In the beginning, you give in non-material ways such as showing appreciation, admiring his masculine traits, cooking him dinner once in a while. Don’t give more than he does though until you’re in an exclusive relationship. Just let him set the pace in dating and give to you (and then you can give back to him).

  11. 41
    Saint Stephen

    @Valleyforgelady (#27)
    It’s awkward to say john is dating out of his league, cos i really don’t see any much difference between 41 to 29.
     And what makes you assume that a 41 yo extra pounds single mum with a demanding job and probably some baggages from failed relationships will be a better marriage/relationship prospects for Paul?

    If Paul is interested in starting a family, he’ll still be chasing the younger herds of women till he finds one mutually interested/compatible. 

    While is very true that a hot twenty something yo woman has a lot of options, you seem to be forgetting that exercising that lot of options also includes getting married to a successful 40yo man if she wants. And believe me it does happen.  

    1. 41.1
      Luana de Paula

      It happens, but not because of love or physical attraction, unless that guy is a rarity, like say, Jared Leto, haha.


      A 41 yo man already has many genetic complications. His sperm is already expired. He probably should adopt if he wants a family.

  12. 42

    Goldie (19). 

    I also was the giver in my 18 year marriage.  I gave and gave and gave.   He wasn’t a giver.  When I finally was reaching my breaking point in giving, he found a woman who claimed she could give him more, he left and we divorced.  Interestingly, she doesn’t give at all.  He does the giving in their relationship.    I struggle too because I am sure I can do that again.  I didn’t give to keep score and keep track – I gave because I loved him.  When it became apparent that my giving was for naught, I was  . . . so sad.  I suspect that the next time around, I will hold back a little. 

    1. 42.1

      Perhaps your Peter Pan ex husband new the gravy train was about to leave the station and opted for a newer model? One that could continue to supply his narcissistic tendencies? I truly hope you find happiness with a good man an partner who wants to be in an authentic and grown up relationship.

    2. 42.2

      Ah yes, the old “You are keeping score” accusation.  You know who says that ?  TAKERS ! 
      Be happy that he is out of your life !
      Healthy relationships are about reciprocal giving and taking.  No, there should be no score keeping, and you should give to your loved one because you love them and want to give, and while there should be no “score keeping”, when only one person in the relationship is giving, you can’t help but feel the imbalance, no score keeping would be necessary.
      And by reciprocal giving and taking, I am not talking about exact measure for measure trading.  (Splitting every bill 50/50 to the penny, splitting every household chore 50/50, etc)  There should be an organic free flow feeling to it.  Each giving of their time, talent and resources to the other.   The lessor income partner (m or f) might be a better economizer, so while they may give fewer dollars to the relationship (perhaps each partner gives the same percentage of their income) the lower income partner may be very good at economizing, and end up making a contribution with their savvy shopping skills.  Maybe one partner is lost in the kitchen.  And the other person prepares meals and cleans up with ease and enjoys cooking, so rather that insist on a “It’s YOUR turn to cook” or “I cooked you clean” arrangement, the culinary wizard sometimes cooks, and the kitchen klutz sometimes treats to special dinners out.  
      When one partner does all the paying, all the chores, makes all the plans, does all the giving and doesn’t get anything in return, they don’t need a score card to know that they are getting a raw deal.  And they shouldn’t feel guilty for refusing to enable the other persons selfishness.  And they shouldn’t feel guilty for leaving.
      But, before you decide that the other person isn’t giving, make sure that you have looked at the ENTIRE picture, and not one area where you may be giving more (or all) .  Perhaps in another area the partner does more giving.

  13. 43

    Ladies, it’s not about holding back your giving when you’re in an exclusive relationship, it’s about committing to a man who is capable of giving to you just as much as you give to him. If you’re doing all the work and he is not lifting a finger, then you need to question why you are committing to this man. A good man will be giving to you in not only material ways, but in time, affection, love, and making sure you are protected and happy. If he’s not doing that, then you shouldn’t be committed or giving to him. Be selective of who you allow yourself to be open and vulnerable and giving to. Once you find a man who’s good and has committed to an exclusive relationship with you, then you are free to give to your hearts content. Don’t hold back on giving in your next relationship because you chose a man who wasn’t capable of having a healthy and mature relationship and just took from you. That’s not a grown and masculine man, that’s a “peter pan” man who wants you to mother him.

  14. 44

    As Evan states, dating is a market, there is no point aiming for the top percentile unless you are in that percentile as well. It isn’t that hard to figure out. The problem is women most women want a man who is taller, stronger, smarter, wealthier, funnier etc. There are only so many to go around. If you want to date out of your league you have to do the pursuing and deal with any rejection(like men do).

    Just my two cens

  15. 45

    @Laura, Thanks for your advice! Definitely not very natural for me, but I’m also not one to keep trying the same thing and hope for different results, so I’ll try that.
    Just to note since I didn’t specify, we were exclusive the whole time and seeing each other regularly and touching base everyday, so I thought we had reached that point. I guess not, I’ll work on my patience 😉

  16. 46

    I think what Ronnie said in #36 is the message that you should take from this experience, giving is great, but receiving is equally as good. People who like to give, give and give some more (not just romantically) often find themselves being drained or being continually expected and asked to give more because that’s the expectation that person has set. That’s not healthy… a natural giving/receiving cycle is much more healthy and beneficial to both partners.
    Just reading your post, I felt smothered by all that you did for this man and I’m not even him! You came off like his mom, looking around his house and seeing things he needed and buying them… this wasn’t even your boyfriend. I can understand why he put a stop to the progression of the relationship because it was just too much… he might have ended it anyway, but I find that when guys feel that a woman is acting too motherly or too girlfriend-y before they’ve had a chance to make up their minds about their feelings, they’ll cut ties simply to get out of an uncomfortable situation. All that giving makes them feel that their hand is being forced.

    And please, stop with the “I don’t want to play games/I’m just so nice and giving by nature” thing. There’s a reason they call this the mating dance… anytime two people interact, no one is going to be putting their cards on the table or being completely upfront at the very beginning, nor should they. The dating process should constantly be one of discovery, one in which the person is learning new things about the other each time they see each other. All of this gift-giving and “openness” does is scare people off, because it can come off as an act of desperation.
    I’m not Evan, but I think you just need to dial it waaaay back and take things down more than a notch. And learn how to be a receiver… having a giving nature should not always be portrayed as a positive thing, which I find many women (and I am one) tend to do.

  17. 47

    @Blonde: Even when you’re exclusive, I wouldn’t buy him little things right away. Give back to him in more feminine ways like cooking him dinner, picking up theater tickets, helping him clean, and buying a round of drinks or something like that. I personally wouldn’t be gift giving (except for birthday/holidays) until half a year together or more. It’s super thoughtful of you to buy him little things like batteries and stuff, but hold back on that. Instead lavish him in admiration, attention, respect, and domestic things like cooking.

  18. 48

    For those who find it hard to hold back on giving, think of it like this: sometimes NOT giving can be the generous thing to do . If you buy a guy lightbulbs or batteries or whatever things are missing at his apartment, whilst you might see this as helpful, he might take it as a criticism: “Oh no, she noticed only one of the bedside lamps has a lightbulb in it! I was hoping she wouldn’t notice that.  She must think I’m useless at looking after the place!” Buying things that are lacking at a guy’s place (or ANYBODY’S place) is a no-no…. If you were invited to some friends’ house for the weekend and they had run out of soap, or salt, or didn’t have very nice towels laid out for you in your room, you wouldn’t buy them some as a thank you gift, would you??! That would just be tactless. Think of it this way and it may help you curb the urge to buy things and do things for guys that they don’t seem to be managing to get round to for themselves. Channel your generosity into showing appreciation for what he DOES do and DOES have “Wow, what a cool…. nintendo DS consul…/dvd collection” and he will feel much more warmly towards you and a lot less smothered.

  19. 49

    These responses prove that my mom was right.  Let the man give first and then show genuine appreciation.  If you do this you won’t get burned out or hurt.  All the women I know who are the givers in their relationship eventually get dumped and hurt. The men were just using them until they found something better.   Men don’t need your gifts.  All my female friends in successful relationships were eagerly pursued by the man, who wanted to give them anything he could.  The women reciprocated and showed how much they appreciated it by being kind and supportive  These women are now happily married.  If a man really wants you he will take the lead.  

  20. 50

    Women know when a man is attracted to them because of their youth, so they don’t need to give anything to this man.  I don’t fault the woman who Paul dated for dumping him.  If he’s just blindly following his biological imperatives to choose younger women, that doesn’t necessarily warrant my sympathy for Paul.  And it shouldn’t make him think that women are untrustworthy.  Instead, Paul should think this:  I am a man and therefore I am attracted to younger women based on pure wiring reasons.  It does not make objective sense that anyone I know should be sympathetic to this.  It’s just a fact of life, and everyone should accept it like we accept that the sky is blue.  Women want to be chosen and appreciated for more than looks, so I shouldn’t really feel that pissed when a woman who I chose for looks doesn’t feel like she needs to do more in return for me.  After all, she is doing enough by allowing me to be in her presence.  My choice was to share my resources with her, and if she didn’t want them, it’s not her fault.  I should really learn how to deal with my wiring so I can make better choices if what I’m really seeking is nurturing and empathy.  If I’m seeking beauty, then by paying to be around a woman who is beautiful, I’ve gotten what I wanted from her, her beauty, and that was a fair deal.
    Women should learn how to show men their true value apart from looks.  You don’t dump guys who treat you like a burned version of Paul (who is a baby is my book).  You should retrain their brains to make them appreciate your qualities more than they initially can based on their biological limitations.  Following advice like ‘dump the guy’ will only leave you alone and single, unfortunately.

  21. 51

    Hi all 🙂

    So first off I want to thank you all for the time you took to respond to my dating woes/questions. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day, it’s really opened my eyes in a new way!!

    @SS I think you are right in saying I may not be great at receiving, I have to admit I’m not overly used to it and do love when it happens. Thank you for your honesty and bluntness, your message did make me laugh! Rest assured, I don’t snoop around people’s homes to figure out what needs fixing, it’s more if a couple times I see the guy getting annoyed cause he can’t find something (said batts), then next time I’m at the grocery checkout and see them, I pick some up! These small things were very appreciated! (And I’m careful re the item that it doesn’t point out me having noticed some sort of potentially embarrassing short coming!) It’s not something that takes much effort on my part, nor stresses me. I disagree with your last statement that being a giver isn’t a positive thing, but that’s ok, to each their own!

    @Laura, thank you for the suggestions 🙂 I think it was partly bad timing because his bday just so happened to be around that time and I had just come back from a trip (one where, to my surprise, he called everyday), so it was probably too much all at once as well. Definitely noted, no “gifts”, rather gestures (he didn’t let me pay for much when we went out though). It’s interesting because I thought helping him around the house would be more personal than giving a purchased item, but I can see what you’re getting at as in, play up the feminine side and let him be the provider. 

    My main challenge with this dating stuff is figuring out how the guy “should” behave/treat you in those first few months, should I call him after a few weeks too or is it all on him still etc. My previous bf’s were guys I already knew in some capacity so the route was very different than with a guy I’ve just met and we know nothing about each other. I think you’ve all given me some great advice to implement whenever the next time is. I will try being generous by letting HIM do more first and letting him pursue me more. Thank you all !! 🙂

  22. 52

    @Blonde and other “givers”:

    I am a woman, but I get turned off by a lot of giving by guys, too.  While I like a moderate amount, I run whenever it seems out of proportion to our relationship level or takes away from my agency.

    Here is an example: a guy that I have regularly dated frequently gets me things that he thinks I need.  This is uncomfortable to me because it makes me feel like I’m “lacking” in some way (another poster commented on this) and it also makes me feel like a loser to some degree.  In other words, he keeps beating me to projects.  I grew up with a (s)mother who overdid things and didn’t allow me to make a lot of decisions growing up.  I had to do a lot of cord cutting in order to grow up and establish firm personal boundaries as an adult.  Even now, she buys gifts for me that she assumes that I need (I rarely need them and I do not like her taste) and then checks in with me about them!  I find it to be annoying.  So if I have a boyfriend that starts to do anything like this, it is a huge turn off for me.  This also goes for gifts that are useful that I could buy for myself.  If one can afford to buy something useful oneself, then I assert that others shouldn’t buy something like that for him or her.  The individual is the best person to know what he/she needs and likes.  Everyone has different tastes and priorities and when we assume to know what other people want, we are overstepping healthy relationship boundaries, imho.

    I share all of this because I know that I’m not the only one with (s)mother issues.  I think moms are actually more likely to (s)mother their sons, so I would really err on the side of caution with gift giving, esp. with guys.  Also, the more a guy feels empowered in a relationship, the more sexy he will feel with you.  This is the central premise behind the “why men love bitches” books.  While I don’t think we have to go so far as to be “bitches,” I think there is a lot of wisdom in making sure that your man never confuses you with his mother!  😉

  23. 53

    This whole let the man set the pace in giving argument is just another game being offered to try to help women not get hurt. Furthermore, it really just adds to the list of things guys are “supposed” to do first, with the underlying assumption that those who aren’t doing all these things must be defective, manipulative, or some other rotten thing.
    People need to take responsibility for themselves in relationships, and stop relying on old gender narratives to protect them. Men who expect women to give and support them constantly need to grow up. And women who expect men to jump through some set of giving hoops to prove they’re worthy need to grow up as well.

    1. 53.1

      You got a lot of “shoulds” in there. Evan’s advice is about “what is” – how to work with the way men *are* as opposed to how men *should* be (or women).



  24. 54

    St [email protected]: Yes, it does happen, but not as often as the 41-year-old guys seem to think it does. As in–not that often. Acc to US Census, most people marry someone who is within 2 years of their own age. Which to me is the same age, basically.

  25. 56

    I agree and am about to find out – thank you for such a great article. Again. 

  26. 57

    The thing that’s upsetting about Paul is that hypothetically he won’t give a woman age 30 and up a chance. I know a “Paul” like this in real life and I would want to be with him (or a man close to this description), but I’m 36. He likes younger women more. I can understand the fertility issue, but why don’t men like this give good 30-something girls like me a chance.

  27. 58

    Only in the fantasy world that is online dating do men persist in believing they can get women more than a few years younger than them.  Sure, they might get the ‘young thing’ if all they care about is age.  She will likely come with a host of behavioral ‘daddy’ issues or just want him for his money.  If he’s ok with that, then go ahead. 

    The best of any ‘crop’ of men or women want someone close to their own age.  And when I say ‘best’, I say people who are looking for genuine compatibility, who are mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy.  All of my long-married friends are married to people very close to their own age.  Within a few years.

    When I was doing OLD, I never responded to emails from men outside of my posted age range.  Either above or below.    

    So, men like Paul can keep knocking themselves out for much younger women who see them as GFN (good for now) guys.   Or they can take a look in the mirror and realize they aren’t ‘all that’ and find happiness with a woman their own age… and also realize that their breeding days are coming to a close.  Just like 41 year old women are forced to do. 

  28. 59

    #48–great way of framing the issue!  Buying things like lightbulbs and batteries is being motherly, men don’t want mothers (like was stated, she’s sending a message that he can’t take of himself).  This is where women need to really examine their behavior–are they being motherly to make the man see how indispensible she is?  How could he ever get along without her?  How could he ever leave her?  If I do this for him, then he’ll do that for me.  This will get him to love me.  It’s invading his boundary and more importantly, it’s controlling.  Often we’re not thinking outwardly that this is what we’re doing, but if one looks deeply, treating an adult man like this has something to do with one or more of the above.  And please don’t use the the excuse that about being caring and nurturing.  There are plenty of women in their 40’s and beyond who have done this time and time again, and are still single.

    #49–Greg, excellent post and right on!  Took me a long time to come to terms with this, and to be PATIENT to first find a man that would do that for me, and let to actually let him do those things on his timeframe, not mine.  While everything is playing out, I’m busy with my own life.

  29. 60

    Blonde…  glad you weren’t too upset with my message! I felt a little bad after I wrote it, but I was thinking about women I know (NOT like you) who go even more overboard and accept totally jerky behavior from men and STILL want to help those men when they get in a bind. They say things like, “I guess I just have a good heart/kind heart.” And I’m thinking, oh geez, stop it… stop trying to make yourself into this noble person when the real deal is that you’re letting yourself be a doormat!
    (I just don’t want you to get into doormat territory later on, Blonde!  :))
    So that’s what I meant with my last line. But hey, that’s just my opinion and we don’t have to agree. Best of luck with your next relationship!
    (And no, I didn’t think you went around snooping trying to find flaws with your boyfriends’ apartments/homes)

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