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 (171 Comments).
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  1. 61

    @Michelle 59
    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. 
    Yes! This is the point I was trying to make in my post @46 when I said that having a giving nature should not always been seen as a positive thing. While one could say that the giver typically means well (I think Blonde is one of those women who do), giving could also be a manipulative and controlling move… or it could be a way for someone to excuse his or her tendency to be a pushover and a doormat… I know a lot of women who put up with bad behavior and try to explain it away by saying they just have giving natures. But if you really talk to them, you find that many of them are hoping that by giving, the man they want will respond with more “love.” (These are people I know.)  That’s not a healthy response.
    In my case, I find that my husband isn’t all that big on getting gifts. (He prefers other methods of showing appreciation, caring and concern.) However, he likes to get gifts for me. I will get him gifts, but often he’ll just tell me something he would like and I eventually will surprise him with it… but just seeing a random item at the mall and buying it for him doesn’t really do much for him. I found too with other men that I dated that they really didn’t care that much about receiving things from women, but liked giving things to women. I think as long as the special woman in their lives (an actual girlfriend or wife, not someone they were just dating) gave them a gift every once in a while — and one that was meaningful — then they were fine. But to be showered with gifts? Not really… and they got very uncomfortable when a woman they were just dating casually would buy them something (especially in those first 1-3 months of dating). Even if his birthday or Christmas fell in the early stages, if the gift was something that was expensive or large, the man typically felt way uncomfortable.

  2. 62


    And what’s really sad is that some dirt-bag guys revel in the fact that they can get a woman to run all over town doing everything for them buying them food, medicine etc.  It’s really embarrassing to me how pathetic some of the women are making themselves look. Yet these men will admit that they have absolutely no plans to commit to the woman. One person I know had his drivers license suspended and had a woman offer to drive him all around town (she wanted to be his GF). She should have made him take the bus or get a ride from his friends.  Needless to say he didn’t want her and she got very upset and hurt.  So yes Michelle I agree with you 100% especially when you said “please don’t use the the excuse about being caring and nurturing.”  If a woman wants to act like the guys mom then she must be interested in dating a boy.  Actually when I think about it all the dirt-bag guys who employ these tactics are very immature and terrible relationship material. Of course they knew how to push all the emotional buttons that made the women want to be with them anyway. 

    As a side note, the women who pretended to be the most “independent” were usually the ones who fell for this trap the most. I really loved this quote from Michelle
    “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.”
    These woman are usually afraid to get hurt so they want to control the relationship by having the ability to withdraw all “helpful giving” when things go south.  However it backfires. They get emotionally involved and when they finally “put their foot down” and threaten to leave one of two things usually happen.  Either the man doesn’t care and the woman gets super upset that he “didn’t even notice all she’s done for him”, or he misses the freebies enough to offer a lame apology and pretend to change for a few weeks and she takes him back.  The women eventually resent the men for this and then usually go on to accuse all men of being selfish.  
    So please don’t waste your resources on men who don’t show how much they love you first.  I know plenty of men who are willing to show love and be unselfish givers (father, grandfather & friends)! 

  3. 63
    Saint Stephen

    This give and take action also goes both ways. If you are a man who’s giving and the woman doesn’t show any sign of reciprocation then you should dump her fast. She’s just into you for the freebies she receives.
    I’ve seen a lot of men getting burned for being chivalrous and then decides to be miserly as a form gauging a woman’s level of interest in them. 

  4. 64

    @ St Stephen, it is not about the material form of giving. It is more about, can I count on him being there for me if I’m hit by a truck tomorrow? can I count on him being there for our children if they’re born next year? that type of thing. If I’m busting my arse around the house, and he just sits there watching TV, and this happens every single day, then how can I rely on this guy to support me if things get tough?
    I like Laura’s comments on this one, esp #43. I think it’s important to see, not how much he gives to you, or how much you give to him, but how well the two of you are working on things together as a team. Otherwise, you can just end up with each side making sacrifices that the other side doesn’t want and has never asked for. Like those batteries. Sorry to use you as an example Blonde, and FTR I do not think you were being intentionally controlling — I think you meant well and were trying to help. It’s just, the batteries can send the wrong message, like you don’t trust him to remember to buy his own batteries when he needs them. Being in awe of his amazing housekeeping skills, and not questioning his ability to buy batteries as needed, is also a form of giving, BTW 🙂

  5. 65
    mellie charnalia

    I have a question to contemplate in response to the blog and all the responses. And it has to do with me being a giver.
    So, from Evan, I’ve really learned a lot about how important *consistency* is. At the same time, I’ve read a lot of experts (like John Gray, or various others who are legit, praised by other quality dating experts like the Claire Zammit, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Arielle Ford) who describe this dynamic where men will be consistent but then withdraw, or withdraw at the beginning and then be consistent. They talk about focusing on oneself and not asking the man where he went but letting him work out whatever and coming back to you. It is being overly giving to “wait” for a man who has disappeared in a sense but then comes back? Or does Evan mean that the man has to ALWAYS be consistent and present from the very beginning ? 

    I think it’s really hard sometimes to figure out if I’m making an excuse for men or being patient, giving, and non-needy. Is it a “time will tell” situation, or do I need to quickly kick someone to the curb if they fail to always be there from the very beginning? 

  6. 66

    I think what happens most often, at least to me, is that the man tries really hard and gives at the beginning, and then once he thinks you’re solid committed to your relationship, withdraws hard and stops doing everything he did before. This is confusing and hurtful, because essentially, you fall in love with the person you met at the beginning of the relationship and spend the next part of your relationship wondering if the guy you’re dating is the person you knew at the beginning of your relationship, or the schmuck you’re stuck with now. It’s kind of like being a frog in a pot of boiling water, sometimes it happens so gradually you don’t realize when you need to jump out!

  7. 67
    mellie charnalia

    @flurry, yeah! Or, the withdrawing is at the beginning and then it’s strong, then withdrawing again…It’s very confusing, isn’t it? Many friends in very solid relationships have discussed with me at length how there were so many periods of uncertainty because their husbands/bfs would sort of disappear emotionally or literally, leaving them very confused…but they stuck with it and things turned around. Hmmm, how does one know if there is patience required, or if one is engaging in some romanticizing wishful thinking? Interested to see what other folks think….

  8. 68

    I remember once reading a comment from a woman giving dating advice saying that she would rather “walk over hot coals than go out with a guy who blows hot and cold for me…” and I can see what she meant – the sort of behaviour where a man seems to be constantly changing his mind about his level of interest in the relationship can be torture. That said, I think its important to remember that no one can be entirely consistent all of the time. This is unrealistic. Many people, men AND women make a huge effort at the beginning of a relationship to be positive, well groomed, accommodating etc..etc..etc… but even if we WANT to keep this up indefinately, most of us just can’t! In the same way that you as a woman cannot maintain the “legs permanently shaved, always in perfect makeup, my home is always warm welcoming and immaculate, I always have a lovely bottle of wine and some tasty treats to hand”etc..etc…, neither can a man maintain his early superhuman efforts to be always on time, endlessly attentive, etc… either. My view is, however that when a man becomes a bit distracted or less available at some point in the relationship, deep down as a woman you KNOW whether this is just a normal, non worrying temoporary absence or an ominous sign that THINGS ARE NOT GOING WELL. Sure, its always a little bit hurtful and creates a little anxiety when a new man suddenly acts a bit distant or busy with other things, but generally you know inside you whether you’re just being a bit silly to worry or whether this is a bad sign. Listen to your gut, I say.

  9. 69

    @Evan – I really needed to see this article today. Thank you!

    @Goldie – Thank you for the new outlook on dating. I’ve been burnt a few times over the last two years that I have been divorced and dating again. I needed a new perspective on the whole thing. My new year’s resolution:  Look at dating the way Goldie explained it. Sincerest gratitude!

  10. 70

    Realistically how much you give or do not give doesn’t matter if he was up front with wanting to have a relationship with you. We often go I shouldn’t do this or that but at the end of the day you can do all sorts of stuff. If someone is into you it doesn’t matter.

  11. 71

    Sorry it took me a while to respond, but just wanted to again thank the commentators re my posts. I was really touched that complete strangers took the time to provide advice and cared enough about someone they don’t know to try to help 🙂

    The posts have given me a lot to think about and I think I’ve identified ways in which I can improve my approach to this whole dating thing, and challenge myself in some ways. Change is good. Been reading some of Evan’s previous posts too.

    @mellie charnalia, I did a search through Evan’s blog with the keyword “time” and have found some useful material, perhaps it’ll help you too when it comes to figuring out if you’re being too forgiving etc. I know I question myself on this too. Sometimes my friends tell me I’m too nice, other times they say my expectations are too high, however I think the common factor usually has to do with time. Me not being very patient doesn’t help when it comes to the opposite gender which seems to need more time.

    All you guys rock, I feel like I’ve stumbled across a gold mine by discovering this online community here and have shared it with friends. All the best in the new year!

  12. 72

    @ Ellen #2, spot on!

    I am proud to say that I did not tolerate ambivalence today.  The guy that was boiling hot until he got what he was pressing for (and yes, I take responsibility for having instasex) two days later didn’t want what he was so sure was the real thing.  I kept it light though.  Told him I saw it coming, that it was fun meeting him, and wished him luck on his search.  He responded that I could think whatever I wanted (code for, damn, she was right and he had nothing to comeback with) and that he was done searching.  I said that I had no dog in the hunt and it wasn’t mine to deal with.  Cold? Perhaps.  But I don’t suffer ambivalent men.  I didn’t expect him to be in love, far from it.  I had not even made an emotional investment yet.  He is a flake, and his “feelings” for me were all about the hormones.  He threw out the L-word not me.  I ignored it when he did.  He gave himself cold feet. 

    Starthrower is back…. 

  13. 73

    @Sarahrahrah! 52
    I wish I had your problem of a boyfriend who gave too much. If he is  a naturally generous man you will see it in the gifts he gives to family, friends, charities, etc. If he is a controller like some other posters said some givers are, that won’t be there.
    Did you ever directly tell this boyfriend of yours that you were feeling smothered and why?  A giver will give you what you ask for; a greater sense of independence and being able to care for yourself. 
    You said you are sensitive to this because of your experience with your mother and having to do a lot of cord cutting.  Did he know about this? Did you clearly articulate and more importantly why and how his behavior made you feel badly (I think you said like a loser)? If you did this and he persisted, then he is being manipulative.  If you didn’t do this and you kicked him to the curb, send me his contact information, please!!

  14. 74

    This can definitely be a big thing for a guy.  As a natural “giver” myself I was very frustrated with the last girl I was seeing who not only didn’t really give back, she wasn’t very thankful for things that I did do.  Sometimes even a simple “thank you” goes a long way.  I pointed it out to her several times that she didn’t seem to appreciate me but things didn’t really change much.  Buying a coffee or ice cream for a guy can go a long way to show that you really care instead of saying you have no money and than going and buying yourself clothes or whatever.  Being unappreciated also stopped me from opening up because I was always trying to judge from her actions what she thought of the relationship.

  15. 75

    I thought this article was interesting but did not agree with a few points

    1) Paul is portrayed as a wounded animal, but the case could be made he is just smarter and is adapting.  Yes he may be waiting a long time for a woman, but that’s only b/c he’s no longer settling for pure takers.

    2) This also presupposes that all people desperately want to be in committed relationships, even married.  Many of us do not.  Sure, maybe if the perfect wave comes along you take it, but it’s not a life’s mission for everyone

    3) A key distinction is giving respect and kindness when it is earned, not by default.  Society seems to condition women to think they are entitled to it by nature of being a woman.  Paul should not just blindly give in hopes it’s returned.  The woman should exhibit signs that she reciprocates and is not selfish.

  16. 76

    haha, I LOVE this post. This is exactly what happened to me. 

    I was a classic nice guy. I bought flowers for my girlfriends. I made things for them like heart shaped pillows, home made valentine cards. 

    I even asked a girl to marry me (she said no). 

    So, now that I’m playing the tough guy, you know what? I get 100x the attention from good looking women. This is why I believe that women don’t want to be treated well. When I was nice, the girls all left. Now that I don’t care,they all want to go out with me. 

    Of course I REALLY don’t care anyomore so it doesn’t ever go very far.


  17. 77

    So many of you missed that Evan was turning the table, and rather than presenting a woman with these behaviors, presented them in a man.
    This way it’s much easier for people on this blog to criticise him for his ineffective behaviors, rather than defend a woman who’s been treated unfairly by men.
    What Evan was saying was “see these behaviors, they don’t work for men, so why should they work for women?”
    Evan’s presented almost this exact same story before, but with the central character being a woman. The comments are much different then.
    (Evan, I don’t mean to say you “make up” the situations you present, just that this is naturally a common theme).

  18. 78

    I think that it is odd that so many women are all over Paul for dating a 29-year-old.  He is 41, but Evan indicates that he is very boyish, which probably means he looks young for his age.  If that is the case, then the women his age may not have even wanted him when they were younger because he was too boyish. 
    I have a boyish look myself and am in my mid-30s and I get attention from women in their mid-late 20s.  I seem to get more attention from those women now than I did from women in their mid-20s when I was in my mid-20s.  I have found that younger women often tend to be much nicer than the ones who are in their mid-30s.  Maybe it is because I live in a big city, but I have found that a lot of women in their mid-30s just don’t treat men very well because they are emotionally broken and have played the dating game so long that they are extremely jaded.
    I think that there are some women in their late 20s who are very mature and appreciative of a man 5-10 years older even if a 12 year age difference like that for Paul is a bit of a stretch.

  19. 79

    From what I have seen and from my own experience—significantly older men who consistently want to date women in their 20s feel so lucky to have their “ideal” (a 20 something year old) that they tend to go out of their way to show how lucky they feel, to cater to them, give too much, too soon etc. 
    Most people I think tend to give more slowly and gradually more intensely, the more they see that the other person is worth it, the more their own feelings get stronger, the more they feel that the connection with the other person is important and worthwhile.
    But  an older guy who really only cares about having a 20something female doesn’t need to do this. He has what is the most important thing to him–a woman who is a lot younger—and isn’t interested in some deeper connection, or finding out whether or not it exists between them. So he  just gives too much too soon. Of course women do this kind fo thing all the time too.
    There is something really superficial about this. I mean, I think that what people like this are after is superficial and kind of impersonal too,  based on a limited checklist of sorts  And because of this, they do end up with people not that interested in them, who tend to dump them. This is because the relationship was never based on some special connection but on the fact that their partner has some characteristic that’s really valuable to them—youth, wealth, power etc.
    I think the reason they can’t treat someone who DOES love and care for them well, isn’t because they’ve been burned before, but because they only really treat those who embody their “ideal” well (whatever that ideal is and no matter how superficial). Someone who doesn’t embody the ideal won’t get the good treatment–because they simply are not seen as “worth it”, or “valuable enough”.
    I have been the partner who was a lot younger, the wife of someone the same age and also a partner of someone six years younger.
    By far, and I mean by far, I was treated the best by the man who was a lot older than me.  I left him though because there was something impersonal about the relationship. I felt that he wasn’t really interested that much in me, for who I was.  I was kind of a generic, attractive 20 something year old to him. That was enough for him, but not for me.

  20. 80

    Doug 76 –
     “This is why I believe that women don’t want to be treated well”
    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Of course women care.  And so should you.  And women (and men) deserve to be treated well.  Why the hell should you go out with them to show that you don’t care??????
    I learned the hard way that giving is sometimes misconstrued.  As a kind of manipulative game.  Which I did not understand.
    As a woman, I no longer do this “giving” game.  Until I’m receiving, at what time I’ll reciprocate.

  21. 81

    It is better to be a giver than a taker, but giving may need some explanation.  Giving really means sharing our best selves with the other, preferably without undue attachment or investment. If we can do that we’ll not only attract people to us more readily, we’ll also be able to judge their future potential by observing how they make us feel. 
    The Pauls of this world can now see that bitterness only hurts them, as it is their own selection criteria – not the person per se – that leaves them feeling dissatisfied. In a way, Paul reveals his discomfort with his place in the relationship by over giving.  He knows he isn’t appreciated, the more he gives the less he’s valued, because his giving isn’t coming from an uninvested or secure place.  His giving comes from an insecure place.  All he can do is move on and re-assess.  

  22. 82

    I Started dating someone when we were both 20. I am very mature for my age but we met in the party scene. Before this guy, when i was 18 and had a boyfriend YOUNGER than me, he treated me like Paul did his girl. And I did what the girl did tp paul after 3 years. I fell out of love. There was no emotional connection anymore. He is still such a nice guy amd we still talk but the love faded away. He is a computer science major and comes from a wealthy family. It is only fair that if someone doesn’t love another person anymore, they say so. And I did, knowing I would never have a worry in the world if I stayed with him. The guy I met in the party scene….different story completely. I stayed with him through an alcohol abuse problem, cheating, lying, etc, etc. Things would get betterthen get messed up again. I gave him everything and was taken complete advantage of. It got so good that he asked me to marry him. Except I was tipsy at an anniversary for his parents and asked him of he meant it. I saw this as a simple and pretty appropriate question seeing he’s done so many thingsthat show anything but the desire to be in a committed relationship. He also didn’t have a ring. He told me to forget the proposal ever happened and that I don’t take him seriously.

    Today….I still love this person but want so badly to tell him to get lost. He’s changed so much and is independent now. But I feel so stupid giving all my time, heart, mind, and effort into something with someone when our title is “friends”. The only way for me to get reassurance from him is to threaten to leave him.

    All in all……I think every person is different. And it is not fair to treat a new love like they were your last. You will never open up enough to let the right person in. The right person will be turned off by you and your outlook on dating and the opposite sex in general. It is extremely hard not to. What I did…is instead of looking at every man as a cheating, lying, careless person….I just set my standards higher. If a guy is the right one for me, he will meet my standards. If not, keep walking. But don’t turn a cold shoulder to a new experience. If you fell off a bike would you just never get on one again?

  23. 83

    Sounds like Paul was trying to court a girl out of his league in order to raise his status, and in moments of megalomaniacal delusion  thought that he is actually of equal status to her and demanded equal treatment from her. When she finally dumped him because he wasn’t maintaining the subordination,  he built up cognitive distortions to protect his fragile ego. “She is an unappreciating woman!”, not  “I artificially tried to drive up my value and totally overplayed my hand”

  24. 84

    It’s this blog entry that really gave me the biggest “aha moment.” It made me rethink everything about my last relationship, where I thought I was so WRONGED. I was a paranoid, selfish, insecure person and I really gave it to the guy I was seeing, really bad. I criticized him, I made demands, and ignored all the nice things he would do, because I was entitled to them, right? Well his absence really left a hole in my heart, even though I thought I was ‘wronged.’ This doesn’t mean that he didn’t have his issues. His problems are pretty heavy duty, rather than recognizing he is going through a really hard time, I expected him to whip into shape and change to be there for me in the way I saw fit. I wouldn’t be like that with my hurting girlfriends. After reading a million blog posts on this site and a lot of thought, I went to him yesterday to apologize for my behavior, I was really selfish about certain things and let my anger take over. He did accept my apology,  and I had to endure some narcissistic-victimhood crap from him, but at the very least we’ll have some kind of acquaintanceship. There are things about him that I appreciate. But to be with this guy I would have to assume a mothering role, that is not something I think I can do, (I know women who can do that). He also doesn’t seem to know how to take responsibility. I do wonder though, if I could have been more patient, and nurtured the good things more, would things have been better? I f I communicated gently, would he have responded better? If I  was grateful and appreciative of his time, and not demanded so much, or have been so critical, would he have returned the ‘niceness?’ What if I was more mothering and a good friend, instead of an entitled narcissist myself? If I hadn’t reacted in anger, would he react to me better? If I discontinued my crappy behavior like he wanted me to, would he have been there for me the way I needed?  Could I have just let him go be himself without demanding attention and return texts? (Yes, I was THAT girl). He told me what bothered him all the time, and I ignored it due to my entitlement. I don’t think we would have worked in the long run, but I know exactly how I could have been different. If I was secure at the time, I think I would have just let him be himself and then realized we weren’t going to work, rather than trying to force him into being Mr. Perfect.

    I see now that all he wants is understanding, and acceptance. He is involved with the mother of his child who is crazy and hurts him. He wants so bad to live a good life, but as I see it, he doesn’t have enough wisdom yet, to establish boundaries with that woman. I know what it’s like to be hurting like that. You tend to be more selfish and put yourself first. He isn’t in a position to give himself over to me right now, and I can’t blame him. I have been there, I have done that! I could at least have been nicer to him and handled the situation with dignity and grace. What is also interesting, is that other women close to me think I was ‘wronged,’ as well, and don’t understand why I would take the time to apologize/have relations with him, even when I told them I was nasty to him. I’ve known those women for years and I’m always thinking about how self-centered they can be.  

    Thanks Evan, I’m a reformed dater. I think the most power that this site and your insight gives women is the ability to self-reflect, puts gender relations in a whole new light.  You can’t change unless you’re open to learning…I’ll be buying your e-book soon. 

    1. 84.1

      GL, it sounds as though you have gained some valuable insight and perspective.  That’s a wonderful thing.  I think those insights will go a long way in helping you succeed in your next relationship.  They can do a great deal to help one move forward.  I think it’s good that you used that newfound self-awareness to examine how his response might have been different and it appears you were able to do that without falling into the “what might have been” trap.  I think there’s this tendency to idealize the recently-ended relationship because of all the emotions we experience in that phase.  Time and distance usually show us it was a necessary ending.  At least that has been my experience.  

  25. 85
    Karl R

    GL asked: (#84)
    “I do wonder though, if I could have been more patient, and nurtured the good things more, would things have been better? I f I communicated gently, would he have responded better?”

    Yes and yes.

    GL asked: (#84)
    “If I  was grateful and appreciative of his time, and not demanded so much, or have been so critical, would he have returned the ‘niceness?’


    Different people have different ways of expressing their appreciation for their partner. Some people give gifts. Some people show physical affection. Some express their appreciation verbally. Some spend time and attention. (Most people do all of these, but focus far more heavily on one or two.)

    People also respond differently to different expressions of appreciation (usually matching the way they express it). If two people with mismatched styles are together, this can create issues. For example, imagine a woman who is more focused on time/attention being in a relationship with someone who mostly expresses his appreciation through gifts. She may recognize his generosity, but still feel like he’s usually ignoring her. He, in turn, may feel that she never reciprocates, but instead keeps nagging him to spend more time with her.

    If you had this kind of mismatch, you probably won’t feel like he’s responding well enough (and he’ll probably feel the same). In that case, it’s best to recognize it and move on.

    GL asked: (#84)
    “What if I was more mothering and a good friend, instead of an entitled narcissist myself? If I hadn’t reacted in anger, would he react to me better?”

    Of course. Nobody reacts well to anger or narcissism.

    GL asked: (#84)
    “If I discontinued my crappy behavior like he wanted me to, would he have been there for me the way I needed?”

    Not necessarily. If he’s inherently undependable or unreliable, that will remain the case no matter how you behave.

    GL asked: (#84)
    “Could I have just let him go be himself without demanding attention and return texts?  

    For your sake, I hope so. Demanding attention and return texts won’t go over well with anyone.

    If you can’t, you’ll have to find someone who provides that level of attention (and quickly responds to texts) just because that’s his nature. And he will probably expect you to reciprocate.

    nikki said: (#82)
    I still love this person but want so badly to tell him to get lost. He’s changed so much and is independent now. But I feel so stupid giving all my time, heart, mind, and effort into something with someone when our title is ‘friends’. The only way for me to get reassurance from him is to threaten to leave him.

    You’re wasting your time. Tell him to get lost. Better yet, stop threatening to leave him, and actually leave him.

    1. 85.1

      Thank you Karl. This guy actually responded well to my apology. He is in touch again, and doesn’t want to know about the men I’m dating, which is a good sign I thought. He was still mad at me for stuff I said, which I thought was also good. I’m going to try things differently now based off of these blog posts and see what happens. Who knows, he may fall in love with someone else (we’re both dating others), he may turn out to be a ‘jerk,’ but I think he’s actually more forgetful than anything. He deserves patience and care. I think I fell for him because his absence reverberates throughout my whole life right now. He was the one who initiated contact after the break up too. Cross your fingers, will take time, but I’m going to do as Evan says. LOL

      1. 85.1.1

        Well that was short lived. He is a jerk. Now I for sure.

  26. 86

    Holding back ONLY hurts.

  27. 87
    Dina Strange

    I loved the article, but i think Evan makes a bit of a mistake here, assuming that when his wife treats him great, it makes him feel great, and in return he wants to do great things to her.

    You can be the most amazing girlfriend or wife to someone, but that won’t necessarily make him return the favor. Actually i’ve seen the case where a girl or a guy had been amazing to their partners, but received only abuse in return.

    So, I guess then we return to the first point of the article. If you tried your best, treated him the best way, and he is (still) not appreciating/returning the favor. Leave! 

    1. 87.1

      That just means they are abusive. That’s when you turn tail. I think when you are dealing with someone who is sensitive though you can turn things around.

  28. 88
    Eve Guo

    I have always been the giver.
    well.. in the past I ‘gave’ to the wrong takers til we broke up.
    i was depressed back then.
    but then I realized that I was attracting the men I wanted.
    and punishing other potentially great men for the jerks’ stupidity is unfair, I suppose.
    I once thought of stopping to ‘give’ and it just did not make me satisfied.

    so.. I agree with evan..
    and I wil still be happy to ‘give’ to my future man.. I only have to select the high quality one to reciprocate.
    I can not make a man think like a woman does. But I believe the right one will find a way to understand..
    Giving makes me fulfilled..

  29. 89

    Hmmm.  After 30 years of adult dating, one divorce from a cheating partner and several other relationships being ‘average’, i can say that Evan has some good points.  BUT, women simply have no clue how to behave.  There are very few differences between men and women these days, other than the reproductive organs.  Most women today need regular estrogen injections to learn that there are times that they need to be meek, submissive and subordinate – just as there are times that men need to be better listeners and communicators.  But mostly, women need to step back several decades in attitude and behavior.  The facts are the facts – we all know couples from 20-40 years ago that are together for a quarter century.  Study them.  Men are men, women are women – and both behanve accordingly.  The same cannot be said for a great many couples married within the last 20 or so years.  It’s not a know on either sex or asking one to be a slave.  It’s simply reality.  In 50 years, the only difference between the sexes will be testicles.  In 100 years, we will all be asecxual, look generic and all act badly unless we get back to a more natural state.

  30. 90

    Um, maybe not make it your woman’s job to make you feel safe, sexy and needed? The’ve been preaching that to women for the last 30 years. It’s not healthy to rely on a partner to make you feel those things. That’s why the guy is a chump. 

    1. 90.1
      Karmic Equation

      It isn’t a woman’s “job” to make a man feel safe, sexy, and needed. It is a prerequisite for the relationship to work.
      If you don’t “feel” like making the man you’re dating feel safe, sexy, and needed, then you’re with the wrong man. If you don’t dump him first he will eventually dump you (as he should).
      This is not to say that you should make a man who isn’t doing HIS part in making YOU feel safe, sexy, and necessary, feel good about himself. It’s a two way street. If he’s not making the effort for you, then dump him. Only make the effort for the guy who’s making the effort for you. Mirror the guy’s effort. Mirror HIS investment. The more he invests, the more YOU invest. The more effort HE makes, the more effort YOU make.
      You only need to make sure you’re making the effort in the RIGHT areas. Calling him up and making dates and plans are NOT the kind of effort that wins a man over. Showing and telling him how much you appreciate him and how much he pleases you…that is the effort that women need to make. If there’s any “job” in a relationship for a woman, it’s the job to make her man feel appreciated when he DOES make the effort. In this sense, men are like dogs (in a good way, lol) — the more you appreciation you give him, the more effort he puts forth to gain your appreciation. It’s win-win.

      1. 90.1.1

        I agree with everything you said, except the part about never planning a date.  In the very beginning of a date, I agree this to be true, but after a few dates, it is not a bad thing to plan a date.  I totally disagree that it’s a woman’s place to simply sit back and say thank you.  That will bore a man to tears.  
        After a few dates, I woke up one weekend when nothing was planned, and called my boyfriend up.  I asked what he planned to do with the day, and he said he had no plans.  So I asked if he could be spontaneous for me, and he said “sure.”  He asked what the plan was, and I told him not to worry, just dress casual.  
        I packed a picnic basket and small cooler, and put it in my trunk.  I picked him up, and we headed to a few yard sales, and then the flea market.  Then we went to a quiet park and ate our lunch, then we went to a movie, and then a walk on a beach.  
        And at the end we went to a grocery store and I asked him what he was in the mood for, poultry, fish, or steak.  Then I picked out things to go with it, and took him to my place where I cooked it for him.  Everything was my treat.  
        He told me that it was the most fun he had experienced in quite some time.  I told him that I just wanted to do something spontaneous, but “low stress” with him to show how much I appreciated him for the wonderful dates he had taken me on.  You can show your appreciation by doing something for him, and in fact, he will appreciate that far more than a simple smile and thank you, though you should still do that to.

        1. Karmic Equation

          Who wrote “never” plan a date? Planning dates are fine. But if a women rarely or never shows appreciation, that will cause problems in a relationship. If she never plans a date, she’d just go out on fewer dates that she initiates. A relationship won’t end if she never plans a date. Relationships WILL end if she never shows appreciation. Put the effort in the right place. It’s not “wrong” to plan dates, it’s just that showing appreciation is something a woman MUST do to have a good relationship. Planning dates is NOT a must.

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