When Men Waste Women’s Time

Men who sit too long on the emotional fence in a relationship, rob their partners of life’s most precious resource: time.

There are lots of ways men mistreat women, as is frequently discussed in various sites like The Good Men Project. The more obvious kinds—like psychological or physical abuse, or the emotional manipulation discussed in Yashar Ali’s insightful Why Women Aren’t Crazy—get a fair bit of attention, and deservedly so. But there’s another kind I see all the time in relationships everywhere that goes less recognized: men who sit too long on the emotional fence in a relationship, wasting precious years of their partner’s time before ultimately heading for the door.

I’m calling to task the men who have been on the fence since very early in the relationship, and yet stay in that same position for years on end, and then finally call it off later for the same misgivings they had years earlier.

I call them the Time Bandits.

They rob their partners of life’s most precious resource.

And I’m here to call my fellow men out on it.

To be fair, I admit, I’ve been this guy myself at times, to some degree. While I’ve never wasted “years” of a woman’s life, I have stayed in things longer than I should have, and I’m trying to never be that guy again.

While it’s unethical for either partner (regardless of gender) in any relationship to waste the other’s time by not being fully committed, or honest about their intentions, it seems a particularly worse crime when perpetrated against women (if she wants to have kids and be married some day), since time is a resource they simply have less of than men. A 35 year-old man can afford to dally another 5-10-15 years before having his first child. Not so for a 35 year-old woman. I live in New York City. I see too many women who’ve lost crucial child-bearing years to a guy who spent years in emotional limbo and then hit the road.

For the record, I am not judging any relationship that simply doesn’t work out and a man ends it late in the game because they grew apart. I’m calling to task the men who have been on the fence since very early in the relationship, and yet stay in that same position for years on end, and then finally call it off later for the same misgivings they had years earlier.

And the reason a guy usually stays? Simple: lack of courage.

Because breaking up is brutal, for both parties. It’s a lot easier to postpone it and avoid the hardship it inevitably brings. I’ve spent plenty of time coming up with my own reasons of “why it’s not a good time to break up right now.” But it rarely is. You just have to do it anyway.

I know of countless men—some of whom I count among my good friends—who have expressed a serious concern about compatibility early in their relationships, and yet not acted on it for years. To me there’s a statute of limitations to which you can cite a particular issue as the reason for exit, and the clock starts ticking the first time you mentally decide, “Hmm, this is a pretty big problem for me.”

Once you have that concern, I think, as a man, you have a specific moral obligation to be forthcoming about it and do one of two things: 1) raise your concerns with your partner and attempt to reconcile them, or 2) recognize that, if you think this incompatibility is not “fix-able,” that this is a deal-breaker for you, you have to get the check and head for the door. If she’s looking for “the one” and thinks you’re it, it’s a crime of the heart to stay with her if you know you’re inevitably going to leave. And it robs her of time to find another man better suited to her.

Yes, I recognize, it’s not easy to arrive at the “exit” decision. It’s a rather grave one, and one we don’t want to make lightly. Leaving someone is rarely a move you can take back. But I think part of being a “good man” (actually, just being an adult) is to act in union with your inner beliefs. If you truly don’t think you’re aligned with your partner, you have an obligation to act on that feeling. At least have the chat, or say you need to time to think about it. I dated a woman once where I was pretty sure at the one year mark that we weren’t going to go the distance. But it took me another 3 months to finally break it off. Why was that? Because I genuinely cared for her and didn’t want to break her heart. And I also couldn’t bear how disappointed she was going to be with me. I knew I was going to be the “asshole” and put it off as long as possible.

But let’s say you begin dating a woman when you’re both 30. And you have an issue, with, say, your different approaches to money (or sex, or religion, or raising kids, or alcohol, or resolving an argument), and you’ve either a) discussed the issue but can’t come to an agreement on it, or b) have chosen not to ever raise it at all, then you can’t spend 3-8 more years in that relationship failing to act on an issue that still bothers you every day. That makes you an asshole. You may not be deliberately trying to hurt her, or rob years from her life, but that’s what you’re doing. It’s like knowing you like brunettes, but start dating a blonde, and then nine years into it, after she’s raised the marriage question a million times, you break up with her saying, “Sorry, I just don’t like your hair.” That’s not her fault, it’s yours. But she pays the price.

Now take the guy who keeps on going from there, just out of inertia. And then marries her. And has the kid with her. And gets by on adrenaline for a little while. But eventually, the truth will out, and he’ll want the divorce, and that awkward breakup he could have instead faced years earlier will seem like a cakewalk. Because now there are a lot more complications (and victims) involved. So I say do both of yourselves the favor of trying to face the inevitable truth sooner than later. If you know in your heart of hearts that you’re not truly in love with her, do not take years of her life that she’ll never get back. And allow yourself, too, the chance to find a better fit.

Now, I realize, of course, that women perhaps bear the ultimate responsibility of staying with a guy who has one foot out the door, abusing their time. They can opt out, too, if they want, if they feel their lover/ boyfriend/ soulmate is taking too long to decide she’s the one. And I encourage them to do so. In my experience, men rarely believe women are serious about something until they threaten to walk. (Unfortunately.) Your willingness to walk might be the only thing that makes him realize what he’s about to lose. But I am sympathetic to the fact that a woman has more incentive to make those 3, 4, 5 years invested actually convert. Because starting over with someone new takes time, too. So she’s more likely to give him a third or fourth chance.

Which is why it’s incumbent upon us men to not exploit that leniency.

By staying on the fence, guys, we not only further rob our partners of their chance at happiness, but we muddy our own sense of identity, too. We’re living a double-life, where we’re compromising on crucial beliefs. And that act of flouting our own instincts will make us less able to follow them down the road when the real Mrs. Right comes along.

So man up, my fellow men, and get the hell out of the relationships you truly don’t believe you can finish. You’re not doing your partner any favors, and you’re probably interfering with your own future chances at romance, too. Take an honest inventory of what is most important to you in a partner, and if you’re not on the same page, give her as much time as possible to find someone who values what she’s bringing to the table more than you do.

Yes, even if she hates you for it. (For some some tips on getting through that, try here.)

As men, we’re born with the perhaps-undeserved biological advantage of a looser time frame to accomplish our family-raising goals in life.

Let’s not abuse it.

Time is precious. So when it comes to relationships, gentlemen: no stealing allowed.


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About Mark Radcliffe

Mark Radcliffe is a writer living in New York City. He has a weakness for bourbon, jazz and girls who can drive stick. You can read more of his essays here: www.theradcliffescrolls.tumblr.com and http://markradcliffe.com.


  1. Are women completely without agency & free will? This article is nonsense – If a women is unhappy with the pace of the relationship, it is her responsibility to make an ultimatum and/or quit the relationship.

  2. Interesting article. I think this idea of “time wasting” is a lot more complicated than the article states. Life isn’t like some rom-com where love conquers all. You generally don’t see CEOs seriously dating/marrying waitresses or “escorts” like in the movie Pretty Woman. Like it or not, social class can be a big factor. So can race or religion. So can educational/career level. In those cases if the man KNOWS that dating that woman will only end up in tears, then he is doing her a favor but not dating her in the first place! It’s not fair to ask out a woman and then turn around and say well I can’t marry you because you’re the wrong (race, religion, social class/rank, etc.) …. and the same is true for the woman who decides they want to go ‘slumming.’ People often say they don’t care what others think of their partner, but if a person is honest with themselves, they’ll know that they do care…and they should care because there are many situations where the choice of a inappropriate/unsuitable partner can be a real setback.

  3. christie says:

    Everything Mark said in this article is spot-on my experience in my 3 year relationship. We’ve talked about marriage since fairly early on, I gave him my personal timeline for marriage/kids and he told me if I stayed with him, I’d meet it. It’s now 3 years in and there’s been no proposal, no firm timeline set. He’s telling me we are going to get engaged soon but still hasn’t bought the ring I picked out months ago. I’m starting to figure out through his actions not matching his words and his inconsistency that he’s never actually going to marry me despite his claims otherwise. All I’ve ever asked for is his honesty and I now believe he is lying to keep me there because while he won’t marry me, he also won’t let me go. It’s a horrible situation to be in. I’ve finally decided I have to end the limbo for myself by leaving before I lose my mind. If he had just been honest with me about his intentions he could have saved years of my life. Some men are like this, they lie and lead you on because they don’t want to lose you all the while knowing they’ll never be able to give you what you want. That’s why they’re called time bandits, they steal your time for their own personal benefit and don’t care because your fertility limits don’t directly impact them.

  4. You know why this article is addressed to men, and not the women who allow men to waste their time? I had a boyfriend with whom I brought up our issues of compatibility MANY times. I asked him over and over if he thought I was right for him. I certainly thought (at that time) that he was right for me. He’d always reassure me that he loved me, even BEGGED me to stay when I tried to break it off TWICE (yes, it’s my fault for not realizing the truth and sticking to my guns). The truth is, though he’d convinced me that he truly loved me, HE DIDN’T. He ended up leaving me due to those “compatibility” issues that I’d recognized long before after 3 years!! :-\ So yes, that’s an asshole move! He aimed to keep me there, as some sort of backup, until he found what he wanted in his heart the entire time. That is completely unfair, and I will never do that to anyone. I don’t know how I’ll be sure the next guy will be totally honest…

    • christie says:

      I’m in a similar situation, been with my boyfriend for 3 years now, we’ve discussed getting married since early on. I’m finally figuring out through his actions not matching his words and his inconsistency that he’s never actually going to marry me. All I’ve ever asked for is his honesty and I now believe he is lying to keep me there because while he won’t marry me, he also won’t let me go. It’s a horrible situation to be in. I’ve finally decided I have to end the limbo for myself by leaving before I lose my mind. If he had just been honest with me about his intentions he could have saved years of my life. Everything Mark said in this article is spot-on with my experience. They lie and lead you on because they don’t want to lose you all the while knowing they’ll never be able to give you what you want.

  5. Men don’t waste women’s time—women waste their own time. If a guy isn’t committing the way she would like, she’s free to leave him and find another man.

    NEWSFLASH: women have agency. So stop infantilizing them.

  6. J.G. te Molder says:

    Oh, great…

    Now not doing anything is abuse to. I’m wondering how long it is before it gets enshrined into law.

    Stay away from women, men…

    I wonder how long it is before staying away from women will be called abused, and there’s a law against men staying away from women.

  7. I have to disagree with previous commenters. Yeah, sure it is the woman’s responsibility to leave if she cannot get what she wants. The point is, though, she can’t do this if you’re misrepresenting yourself or if you have not spoken up even though you know deep down you can’t give her what she needs. I think a lot of us simply stay in a relationship because it is good at the time, without considering how time is not on a woman’s side. If a woman has told you that she wants kids, and you continue to date her for years, then she will take this to mean you want them too. And why would she not? She told you what her expectations were for the relationship, so if you stay in said relationship, it seems to suggest you agree. So no, it is not her responsibility to beat the truth out of you, or to try to guess at your desires when they are totally contrary to your actions. As soon as you know that she wants something different, it’s your responsibility to make her aware of your feelings. Fortuantely I want kids, so i’m good!!!

    • ” If a woman has told you that she wants kids, and you continue to date her for years, then she will take this to mean you want them too. And why would she not? She told you what her expectations were for the relationship, so if you stay in said relationship, it seems to suggest you agree.”

      This is where being an adult comes in. You set clear expectations, with timelines and gates associated with them, to include engagement with a wedding date set. An engagement without a set date is just more dating.

    • John Anderson says:

      “The point is, though, she can’t do this if you’re misrepresenting yourself or if you have not spoken up even though you know deep down you can’t give her what she needs.”

      Everyone should be honest in a relationship. What I think people are disagreeing with is the OP’s assertion that men have the responsibility to break up, when most people believe that his responsibility is only limited to being honest. If a man is honest about not wanting marriage or kids or even not wanting it with this particular person and she stays, why is it incumbent on the man to break up a relationship that’s working for him? Another related issue is the OP’s position that a man is required to work on a woman’s timeline. It’s generally not a good idea to be forced or obligated into a marriage.

    • Mark Radcliffe says:

      Thx, Georgie. Yes, that’s one of my points; the problem is that it’s harder for women to know when to leave if she’s being fed false testimony from her partner. If he’s saying “everything’s fine,” when deep inside it isn’t, she doesn’t have the proper data to motivate a decision to leave. And sorry to those who will claim this is a stereotype, but in my experience it’s usually the men who are less forthcoming about their misgivings in a relationship. And I’ve got about 400 female friends who would be happy to support that with evidence.

      • J.G. te Molder says:

        Wait… 400 female friends…!?

        Checks profile: singer/songwriter knows 400 female “friends” who ALL have problems with men that left or they broke up with even after the men saying that all was fine…


        Maybe it’s just me, but why do I have the feeling that until those 400 females met you, everything was actually fine as far as their men was concerned? And then mr. singer/songwriter comes along, who spends his time berating men and telling women how awful men.

      • If they make their expectations known and, regardless of what he says, if his actions aren’t satisfactory based on her requirements and his agreement, she is free to move on. If she stays in the relationship despite his actions not meeting her requirements, she has no one to blame but herself.

        This coming from someone who has far more than 400 female friends just within a 4 or 5 mile radius.

  8. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    The model underlying this article is very, very 1950s. As are many of the other stances that underly GMP articles. In the 1960s and 1970s, we beleived that we had opened up acceptances of different ways to look at marriage (even when it was quite monogamous.) Also, there is enough population in this world. We have 7 or 8 Billion, when the Earth can only supprort 2 Billion, given a Western European lifestyle for all. So, if it’s only about kids.

    One of my issues right now is that we seem to want gender equality (laudable,) but, at the same time (and impossibly,) want to return to Victorian protections for women, and the Victorian upper middle class family. (Most people didn’t enjoy this, actually.) These ideas are in contradiction to each other.

  9. This one hits a sour note, Mark. It can’t be that hard to imagine that women aren’t just mindless tower-dwellers, each trapped in a half-life purgatory, unable to live her life as she chooses until her prince comes along with a white rose or a diamond ring or perfect kiss to rescue her so she can let down her hair or open her eyes or take off her blindfold or whatever, so she can finally “start her life.” Please.

    If a person, male or female, isn’t getting what they want from their partner, they’re wasting their OWN time sticking around. And believe me, there are plenty of women who think things are just fine as they are and don’t waste their own time with silly time frames and expiration dates and ultimatums.
    “We’ve been dating two years….time to decide whether it’s eternity or nothing” wouldn’t work for me – the answer would be “nothing;” I’m not a fan of ultimatums – why should it work for dudes? Or anyone, really?

    • “If a person, male or female, isn’t getting what they want from their partner, they’re wasting their OWN time sticking around.”


    • Mark Radcliffe says:

      I think we’re actually in agreement here, Jill. I state pretty clearly where I think the ultimately onus lies:

      “Now, I realize, of course, that women perhaps bear the ultimate responsibility of staying with a guy who has one foot out the door, abusing their time. They can opt out, too, if they want, if they feel their lover/ boyfriend/ soulmate is taking too long to decide she’s the one. And I encourage them to do so.”

      The differentiating point is when men CONCEAL their misgivings, their false heart, and indicate everything is fine, when often, deep inside, it’s not. This is a pattern I’ve seen countless times with my male counterparts. It’s harder to know when a woman should opt out when she’s being fed an illusion.

      And yes, it’s a two-way street; I believe both genders have a moral obligation to respect each other’s time, and their heart. But from what I’ve witnessed in life, it’s usually the men who are running afoul of this ethic.

      • J.G. te Molder says:

        Yes, yes, men are evil, men conceal everything, men are vile, men abuse, we’ve heard that bull over and over again.

        And all of it is bullshit.

        • Mark Radcliffe says:

          You’re right. Everything you just said is complete bullshit.

          Let’s not put 2 & 2 together and get 35.

          My point is: SOME men are being dishonest with their partners (and themselves) about their true feeling and intentions. And that should stop. For the benefit of them both. That’s all.

          Believe me, I think a lot of men are f*cking fantastic. And I think a lot of women have some serious work to do on themselves. But that’s for another essay…

      • bongstar420 says:

        If people could “just have sex,” it wouldn’t happen. They can’t most of the time and therefore must create “reasons” for it.

  10. This is hogwash and Mr. Radcliffe must know that to be the case.

    It wouldn’t be hogwash if it approached the issue from a non-gendered perspective. Instead we get more piling on of the tired, rehashed idea that “men are intentionally bad and women are always the victims”.

    The “story” of this is like my last relationship. Seven years from the age of 19 onward. We didn’t stay together against the odds, we stayed together because we loved each other and the disconnects weren’t apparent in black-and-white enough to justify the separation before it actually happened. This sort of hogwash makes the way-too-common failure these days of assuming that because hindsight is 20/20 we should have known better. But wait! it’s also the man’s fault!

    Let’s stop wishing for a perfect world and start, at least, actually living in the one we exist within.

    • ” Instead we get more piling on of the tired, rehashed idea that “men are intentionally bad and women are always the victims”.


      Whatever the topic, that almost always ends up being the bottom line.

      • “” Instead we get more piling on of the tired, rehashed idea that “men are intentionally bad and women are always the victims”.


        Whatever the topic, that almost always ends up being the bottom line.”
        The cynic in me would say it’s because I feel that is what brings a lot of women to websites about men, that guilt, that apologetic tone, pandering to their belief of eternal victimhood. Granted that’s only some women, I do see quite a lot of women happy to read good stories who will comment and say thank-you, who love their men dearly. But maybe stories about bad stuff gain more traction.

        It’s sad though when the story with the most views on a site for men, is about how men treat women badly. That does cause me to believe there are more women that want to see content on a site for men, about how men fuckup and how men should be better men, how they need to stop being assholes. Or maybe it just means we have more females reading this site than men by a huge amount?

        Either way it’s depressing me, I don’t really feel men are being celebrated or praised when topics of how men are bad and women are the victim are the most popular. Even the topics on abuse, the ones of how women suffer seem to gain more views than the ones where men are the victims from what I can see. It really does feel like more readers on this site care more about women’s issues vs men’s….Maybe it’s just the feminist or female-laden blogs pickup on a story, linkback to here and those readers are the ones pushing the page views up on female-orientated articles?

        Do any of the site admins know what the gender breakdown is for readers here? I could be completely wrong but I think the most popular articles are ones portraying women in a victim role, and men in a perpetrator role. Or does it just cycle depending on what articles are up and throughout the year? Sometimes more male orientated content is popular, sometimes more female orientated content is popular?

        One thing I’ve never seen is an article “6 things women can do to stop violence against men” or many articles that suggest women are perpetrators of violence toward the men, has the GMP run any like that here? Hopefully without the meme of “butwomengetitworse”?

        • Joanna Schroeder says:

          Just to be clear – the articles that get the most pageviews are not negative about men and I’m not sure where you’re getting that from, Archy. The posts that get the most PVs are actually the ones about parenting, a few about sex and a couple others. The ones that get the most comments are often the most controversial posts, lately ones like this one or the Dr Nerdlove ones, and while they do very well, they aren’t necessarily the ones with the most pageviews.

          The controversial ones do get lots of comments, but we think that’s great because it generates discussion. It would be ideal if both sides would be willing to see each other and themselves, and try to learn and grow.

          • I remember Tom writing a post about it but maybe I misread it, the top pageview article was the mansplaining one wasn’t it? I see the weekly stats, is there a yearly one as well? I’m curious to see what the breakdown is like.

            I could be noticing the most controversial ones more due to comments, they fill my email up and probably stick in my mind more I guess especially as spend a lot of time in the comment sections. That probably explains the feeling I got, so ignore what I said, I spoke too soon :S. Maybe it’s partly a feeling some of us get in society where we feel men cop mostly negativity, even the last few articles I’ve read have been things like how to NOT be a creep, speaking out against men abusing women, why men catcall, etc. Are these the minority type of article?

          • bongstar420 says:

            I’m tired of having to waste my time on “relationships” when finances and immunocompatibility predict relationship outcomes better than any other metric.

            Every woman I met refused the concept of precluding all breeding relationships with genetic compatibility analysis and aptitude testing.

  11. wellokaythen says:

    “Now, I realize, of course, that women perhaps bear the ultimate responsibility of staying with a guy who has one foot out the door, abusing their time.”

    So close to the truth here. Just take out the “perhaps” and the argument would be spot-on.

  12. It’s nice to be reminded yet again that men are the gatekeepers to commitment.

    It’s sad that not enough men know this.

  13. …And this is largely the fault of females.
    If a man hasnt proposed within 3 years of dating, there is a good chance it won’t happen. I had a man proposed to me in 6 months.

    If she doesnt want to get hitched thats fine, but if she does i wouldnt recommend waiting that long.

    • 3 years? I’d probably wait 5 years until I proposed…

      • I guess that means no marriage for us! lol

        • Haha, well what I say and do could be 2 different things, I haven’t had much experience with a long term relationship so I’m still a bit commitment shy about it, but once I am into one I’ll probably calm down a lot and who knows, if it’s love I might even propose after one year. I just wanna be sure of compatibility, but I don’t need marriage for me to feel loved, to me it’s just a title and a day, any long term relationship will be pretty much equal to marriage. Saying vows and giving each other a ring doesn’t really have the proof of foreverness since we can legally divorce, is there really some special thing about saying we’re married, vs we’re a couple? My cousin has a daughter with his partner of 10 years, no marriage, they seem to be fine…

          • Archy:

            It does make a difference. I want kids, and marriage is more stable for the kids. Anybody can pull out an anecdote contrary to how things generally work.

            Secondly, I dont want a guy to waste my time. I’ve known situations where a guy would shack up with a girl off and on for a decade, break up with her, then immediately try to marry another girl after a few months. In other words, a lot of guys are cool with relationships as long as there isnt a lot of drama and there is regular sex. Guys will stay in these relationships for years until they find the one they really want to be with. You either want me or you don’t, its simple.

            • It’s the issue with making a simplistic, easy-to-agree-with statement like “people shouldn’t waste each other’s time” and then expecting it to be applied homogeneously across the complex and conflicting nature of individuals’ relationships.

              It isn’t that simple, and it isn’t an easy thing. What we’re really talking about here is creating realistic expectations like, “I’d like to be married by the time I’m about 26 and have kids at least by 28”.

              But instead we have a focus on why MEN are bad and wasting women’s time. Women waste the time of their partners, too. It isn’t gendered; it isn’t overarching. We start with a great premise of “be aware of your partner’s timeframes and don’t be an asshole”, but then end with a big “come on, men, you’re being assholes”, without any sort of mature understanding that the issue isn’t gendered. Simplistic expectations for a simplistic point-of-view.

            • So you see marriage as an additional layer of security? But you can divorce anyway? In Australia if you live with someone for 2 years the family law applies like a marriage, so if they break up you can go through family court and split up assets, it’s the “Defacto laws”. I don’t really have an overly positive view of marriage, it looks like a ceremony that costs $25k where half the people that do it split up anyway, and judging by some brides it seems like a selfish day for them to feel special vs a day for the couple to be special.

              Why don’t I feel that magic from marriage like others do? Am I just too cynical? I don’t feel marriage is even needed for a good relationship.

              • J.G. te Molder says:

                Yep, and “The Plan to end violence against women and their children”, apparently not men, to heck with them, right? Is about to make Australia a hell-hole for men. In fact, as a man, you’ll no longer be a free person, you will no longer be innocent until proven guilty, and you don’t even get to buy something from your own had-earned money without asking permission of your female first, otherwise it’s abuse, you can be removed from your house, while you continue paying for it and your female remains living there, or thrown in jail.

                Basically, if you live in Australia “stay the hell away from women” goes double. The risks and consequences far, far, far outweigh the benefits.

                • Yeah, “The Plan” should be burned. It’s sickening what those particular redfems have suggested, I hate gendered laws with a passion for crimes that aren’t gendered.

                  Egalitarianism is a dream at the moment in Australian DV policy that I can see, hell they even use the extremely misandrist Duluth Model….

              • Most states in the U.S. don’t recognize “common law marriage.” In California, if you don’t have a marriage license, you can get child support and you may have to go to court inorder to split up jointly owned property, if there is a dispute, but the community propery laws don’t apply. Community property law comes from Spanish legal system. It means that all income and property acquired during marriage is owned 50-50. So marriage does add an important layer of protection in community property states (basically all the U.S. states that were former Spanish possessions)

              • @Archy

                I really dont want to divorce. It would take a lot for me to want to divorce a man. I do want the stability, I have seen what happens when people choose not to get married on a wide scale basis. Shacking up and getting married aren’t the same. People tend to have different expectations when they get married. In other words, the relationship changes.

                I do agree the cost of weddings can be ridiculous. As for me, Id be fine with a courthouse wedding and an inexpensive wedding band. Take me out to eat at nice restaurant, and I’m OK. However, I would want a reception so the familes can me and to get gifts.

                • My ideal wedding is a basic ceremony, a BBQ with close friends n family. I’d rather save money and buy a house 😛

                  As for getting married, I’m open to the idea but i want to shack up first, and absolutely we MUST be compatible sexually so no waiting till married for me.

    • Why do people think that relationships are only gateways to marriage? “It’s been X years” is not a good reason to propose.

      • Excellent question, and one that I’ve never heard a coherent answer to.

      • Jill,
        For me its about wasting my time.
        I’m not going to wait 5,10 years for a man to make up my mind. From what Ive seen men make up their minds quickly, and I’ve also noticed that if it doesnt happen within 3 years it probably won’t. I dont want a man to propose to me just because its been X amount of years. I want him to do it because he really wants to marry me, but I’m not going to give him 10 years to think about it.

        • 3 years might be ok, I’d want at least a year living together to know we’re compatible before marrying a woman. It’s a balance between making your mind up too soon, and taking too long, I guess it differs for all people. More than 5 years is pretty excessive I guess.

          • Archy, both you and Alice seem to be accepting the premise that a relationship is only justified and worthwhile if it eventually leads to marriage; you only quibble about how long a ‘delay’ is acceptable.

            Why should it lead to marriage at all? Why isn’t a relationship good enough all on its own?

            • I believe I said I don’t need marriage somewhere in a comment, I don’t think relationships need marriage but I am simply open to the idea if it really bothers my partner that much.

              • Finding data is hard, but the failure rate for cohabitation vs marriage is high. I’ve seen it pegged to in the 75% range. If you want kids, that’s something to consider.

  14. I think a woman should just leave sorry dudes like this

    • I have to agree with this. If there are compatibility issues or he’s just not that into the relationship I leave. Why waste both of our time? But I’m also upfront on the onset about what my goals are etc. so men who have a goal of marriage and children also know to look elsewhere than me. Due girl issues I won’t be birthing children and I have no interest in marriage.

      I think if both men and women were up front about their goals and actually took some time to periodically check in and communicate about them there wouldn’t be wasted time relationships. It the reality that you have too many people thinking if they just stick it out they are going to suddenly change their partner to see it there way without an ounce of communication I find to be the problem.

      But the women can just as easily leave. It’s not solely the man’s responsibility to end the relationship. It is his responsibility to be honest. Just like it is her’s as well.

  15. (R)Evoluzione says:

    This article and others here, and the ensuing comment threads, are teaching me over and over again, that one of the most important parts of being a good man is standing up for one’s own interests.

    No man can be a good man if he’s been steamrolled into cannon fodder in the gender wars. A good man stands up for his rights as a man first and foremost, the right of self-determination. A man without full agency is no man at all.

    Or, as Jack Donovan says, be good at being a man, or be a well-behaved slave.

  16. For the life of me, I will never understand why a man would ask a woman to “marry him” if he knows deep in his heart of hearts, he “does not want to be married”. He isn’t doing himself or the woman any favors by entering into a relationship that is a serious commitment. In the end, the marriage will undoubtedly end in divorce, and some innocent child or children’s lives will be ruined as well. I discovered after several years of marriage, that my ex-husband didn’t really want to get married, he just felt pressured by his family and society to “walk down the aisle” because he was almost 30 years old. I explained to him that I would have preferred that he was honest and upfront with me from the beginning. I was a grown woman and I could have handled the truth and moved on with my life. He didn’t have to live a double-life, pretending to be happy. In my opinion, women should not be pressuring men to marry us just to fulfill some adolescent girl’s fantasy about “Prince Charming”. (fairytales are just that “tales” and “untruths”) And also, men should not be asking women to marry them out of a sense of “obligation” or societal pressure. Marriage and children are serious business, and if you can’t handle either, just kindly walk away. I know from whence I speak, I was married for over 20 years, and I can asssure you creating a strong, loving and healthy relationship is not for the “faint of heart”. Just be honest with yourself, and most of all, be honest with the person you profess to care so much about.

  17. Let Marisa Tomei settle this dispute –


  18. Actually, I cut men loose when I can tell they are just not that into me. There is just a different vibe of a guy who wants to be with me and date me, be my boyfriend, than a guy who is just coasting. I mean I hate to bring up the whole “he’s just not that into you” thing, but this article is just re-iterating that it is somewhat valid. There is a guy I like who has hinted at asking me out. He knows I like him and would say yes. But it’s been a month. And this is the “wasting time” part. I know he is busy, etc…but really? I’m waiting for over a month for a date. Today, I decided. Ding. Done. Moving on. If he is not going to ask me, moving on to other options. Which just speaks to a woman making up her own mind as well. I’m going to wait for the man’s approval? I’m going to wait for a man to decide he wants me or not. Really, all I can say is “f*ck that shit.” I got my own life.

    • John Anderson says:

      You could always try asking him. Maybe he’s intimidated.

    • “He knows I like him and would say yes.”

      I doubt he does, somehow.

    • J.G. te Molder says:

      Oh, look, it’s been a month, I know the woman wants me, but she hasn’t asked me out yet, it’s one of those stuffed with privilege kind who’ll use me up, spit me out, while making the law pay me more.

      Ding. Done. Moving on. If she’s not going to ask me, moving on to other options. Which just speaks to a men knowing his own value as well. I’m going to grovel like some flipper flapping seal to get a woman’s approval? I’m going to wait for a woman to decide she’s not cavewoman demanding a man grovel? Really, all I can say is, “f*ck that shit.” I got my own life.

  19. From the perspective of middle age (45) I have this advice to give women: DON’T wait forever for a guy to commit if you think you want marriage and children. You don’t have to pester or nag men for a commitment, you just have to be clear upfront, in those early conversations, that you really want to have children by X age. You can mention this casually but don’t compromise. Don’t say you aren’t sure you want kids if you are really secretly pining for them. If the man knows this is what you want, if he isn’t interested, he probably won’t pursue a relationship with you. Problem solved. Don’t make the mistake of going along with the kind of relationship HE wants, pretending you are okay with it. Men will be very happy to go indefinitely, year after year, in a relationship where they are getting sex and are reasonably satisfied with the status quo.

    • “Men will be very happy to go indefinitely, year after year, in a relationship where they are getting sex and are reasonably satisfied with the status quo.”

      If that were true, there would be no marriages. So, that is an untrue generalization.

      However, your point about women making it clear what their expectations/needs/requirements are is valid and is the very point I made earlier.

      • i should have said, men who are not interested in marriage or children with a particular woman will still be happy to gone on indefinitely in a relationship with her as long as they are reasonably satisfied and getting sex. I’ve seen this happen and experienced it myself.

        • That is absolutely true. The same, of course, can be said of women. That’s where adult conversation comes in.

          Women (and men) should clearly communicate their needs and expectations, including timelines, particularly if there is some urgency (e.g., she’s 36, not yet married, and wants to get married and and then have two or three children).

          One problem is the romanticized concept of waiting for the man to get down on one knee, proclaim his everlasting love, and then “pop the question”, holding a Tiffany’s box containing her dream ring, all after months of planning.

          She can cut out months or years of waiting for that by just asking him if he wants to get married and let him say yes or no – and then set a firm date.

          If there is no date, IMO, you aren’t engaged. I met a woman not long ago who introduced to her “fiance.” I asked them how long they had been engaged. She said, “nine years.”

    • Do you think it might be a better idea for women to come up with alternate scenarios for happiness? Leaning on marriage/children – things that require another person – as life goals really seems like a recipe for regret. “Want children by X age” really puts a major expiration date on your life’s journey.

      Maybe I just don’t relate because I’ve never wanted those things, really. If they come along it will be a novel surprise for me, but I’ve never set my sights on them as goals or anything I wanted to accomplish – because it’s not really an accomplishment, just a lucky circumstance to find someone you are compatible with and reproduce with them, and not be miserable forever after.

      • John Anderson says:

        With the option of adoption and artificial insemination, the goals of motherhood and marriage might already be separating. I think many women don’t separate those goals because a lot of men won’t consider women with children as possible future mates, which is of course their choice.

        I see your point. It’s a tough call. Many boys have a dream to be a professional athlete or even to make the team in high school. They may never achieve their goal, but I’m hesitant to say don’t seek what you want simply because you might not get it. I usually think go for it, but have an alternative plan, like in this case adoption, if it doesn’t work out. At least she’ll have motherhood.

        • Everyone says “you can just adopt” like you can just go down and pick out a kid at Costco. Adoption is actually very difficult and expensive. The American children who are available through ordinary channels are older and/or have special needs. While it is really commendable that someone would adopt an older or special needs child, it’s fraught with peril. Not everyone has what it takes. I know 2 different friends who adopted older children with a history of abuse/neglect and both adoptions ended in disaster despite the best intentions, money, counseling and resources. Meanwhile, overseas adoptions are extremely expensive and raise ethical questions given the baby selling scandals that have occurred in many different countries.

          Probably the safest course is not adoption but surrogacy, which is very expensive.

      • I am 45, never married and no kids. I am one of those women who was never sure if I wanted marriage and children. I pursued education and a career, I always figured that things would happen if/when I met the “right person.” Time passed. I was actually kind of relieved when I turned 40 because I could tell myself, “well that ship has sailed.” I don’t really have any major regrets but I do feel wistful sometimes because I think I would have enjoyed being a mother if it had happened. I never met anyone who I wanted to settle down with but I didn’t try very hard either. I had a lot of emotional baggage from an abusive childhood, I’m introverted and not very social, and only average looking, so I didn’t have tons of opportunities nor did I make opportunities for myself. Today, I’m not lonely, I have a great relationship with a man who doesn’t want kids and I’m happy. BUT, I know I’m unusual. Most women want children and some women in my situation would be full of bitter regrets. So my advice is not to let too much time pass if you are a woman who feels that marriage and children are important in your “life script.”. You should put energy into making it happen, just like you do with your education and work.

        • Plenty of kids waiting for adoption 😛

          • Well as I said in my comment above, adoption is really not the easy option that people often think it is. Those kids waiting for adoption are older kids with special needs and histories of abuse and neglect, and although I absolutely agree they need loving homes, I also know that I don’t have what it takes to handle kids like that. If my boyfriend and I were desperate for children we would probably hire a surrogate and use his sperm and a donated egg, but we aren’t that desperate. So at this point I have accepted that I will be childless. Oh well, woulda coulda shoulda and all that.

  20. Yeah I’m gonna have to agree with other commenters here…It’s a good idea to point out that some people don’t commit to the same time-frame and life as others, and that women’s fertility clock runs out earlier than men’s but these women do have their own agency. It’d be nice to know exactly what you want but it often takes time. I myself wouldn’t marry until I had been with someone for 5 years probably, I need to know there is compatibility. It’s a bad move to string people along of course, but these women do have options, they have partial blame for staying with him.

  21. Not buying it says:

    Hmmm, I know few other commenter’s pointed the simple fact that this article seems to treat women like children who are not able to walk & talk or have the courage that men have when it comes to making a decision about their life’s.

    Reminds me of Hugo schwyzer & his total belief that women lack agency & will to act on behalf of themselves & because men have so called privilege they should do it for them even if it means death.

    Unless I believe I am her white Knight in shining armor & believe some misguided chivalry, I shouldn’t make decisions based on gender stereo types.

    • wellokaythen says:

      I, too, found the language and arguments quite Schwyzerian. I never got apoplectic about Hugo’s writing the way that others did. I just found it kind of lopsided, until I realized that his articles deep down might not really be appeals to men at all.

      When I read articles like this, one of my first reactions is to remind myself that ultimately I may not be the intended audience of the piece. Not just because I am not currently undecided in my relationship, but because I am a man. This may just be my own internal stuff at work, but I read the article as something not actually written primarily for men to read but for women to read. To my mind it creates the image of an author who will be very popular with many women. Perhaps that is not the intention, consciously or subconsciously, but that is an impression I’m drawing from it. It’s hard to imagine many women finding anything objectionable in such an article, but many women would no doubt be curious to see what men’s reaction would be.

      Has anyone ever read advice like this from someone who’s anonymous or pseudonymous? From someone whose name is not attached to it? I’m relieved that this article, unlike so many others, is not hawking a book or a business or a therapy practice. This is no doubt my own pseudonymed bias, but I sometimes think comments from people whose identity is hidden can be more sincere than comments from those whose identity is known. Sometimes. Sometimes it’s the exact opposite.

  22. This is nothing but the outright infantilization of women. “I am women hear me roar”.

    Women have more than enough agency to end a relationship if she is dissatisfied. Are you seriously stating women don’t know what is best for themselves unless told by a man?

  23. If a woman wants to advance a relationship, she should tell her partner and be willing to end the relationship if their partner isn’t in agreement.

    I don’t feel sorry for anyone who lets themselves be taken advantage of because they not willing to take the initiative.

  24. The Wet One says:

    Yet one more reason that prostitution should be legal. Why should men (and women) be forced into a relationship to have a sexual outlet when all they really want is a sexual outlet and not to dupe a woman into thinking they’ll marry her?

    Too simple? You tell me.

  25. Gerat article. Well written. I didn’t get the impression that you were lumping all of the responsibility onto men, but simply highlighted the share that is there. Well done. This is area I could use more light on in my life.

  26. Lol, what ever happened to taking responsibility for your own position in life. As I teach my daughter what my mother taught me, “Nobody can walk on you unless you lie down”. I think the author of this post needs to adopt that mindframe when he goes blaming men for what the ladies allow to happen to themselves.

    • ““Nobody can walk on you unless you lie down”

      Thanks to your mom! Wow!! That is the best line I’ve heard in forever!

      Gotta use that one.

  27. The author’s assertion that men have more luxury of time when it comes to having children or starting a family is being found to have some potentially serious consequences, making it an assertion that needs reconsidering. Therefore I’m all for neither sex or gender wasting each other’s time.



    • (R)Evoluzione says:

      You’re making an incorrect assumption. Not all older men men have issues with sperm quality. A good diet helps maintain them.

      Older men who pass on their genes give their offspring a significant genetic advantage, in the form of longer telomeres. (Short telomeres are a sign of aging, poor genetics, and are found in the oncogenesis process.) This translates into greater longevity.

      Just remember, a man’s sperm are born daily. A woman’s eggs were born when she was. Or, to put it another way: The eggs that will create a woman’s grandchildren are born on the same day her daughter is.

    • Sure, there are risks that come along with fathering children later in life. But men in their mid-40s and older still have the OPTION to father children—whereas women don’t. That’s a significant chasm and no amount of NY Times articles will change that.

      The fact remains that whether or not a man (of any age) will sire children has much more to do with his status and access to resources than his age. Whether a woman will bear children (and how many) has much more do with her age rather than her status, life experiences, and access to resources.

  28. Great article! Good topic!

    I met my future husband in grad school…I left and flew 3000 miles away after 3 years together when he did not offer a commitment….as soon as I left, he proposed a few months later! We had a long distance relationship for 3 years and then I flew back…and then he made me wait another 4 years until we got married! (Lots of drama and aging, sick parents in the background…you get the picture)…But, yes, huge sacrifices I made for our relationship!

  29. I met the one when I was 18. Stayed with him until I was 23. Left him due to insanely low self confidence. He would of married me in a shot. Ever since I haven’t managed to have a decent long term relationship, I’m now 26 and just want a nice man to spend my life with. I don’t want to wait until I’m in my thirties. Its blood ironic as I had a drunken night with a friend after a guy whom I was dating ended it (self loathing rarely get you anywhere). Now I’m pregnant (yes I did use protection; it split; the morning after pill didn’t work). Tomorrow I’m having a termination. All I keep thinking is why am I not in a stable relationship? why am i wasting my time over and over again.

    • People make mistakes I guess, sorry to hear life isn’t going good for you.

    • John Anderson says:

      I wish you the best. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a 28 year old friend, a wonderful young woman who’s smart, successful, and self reliant. She’s a good friend who has indicated an interest in me. I’m 45 so she really needs and deserves a man her own age. She recently confided in me that she was resigning herself to living her life never having been with a man.

      That tore out my heart. I considered offering to sleep with her or let her play doctor, but I think that would have confused things and would have hurt her worse in the long run. Some people including men confuse sex with love when their young or inexperienced. It’s OK to want sex. It’s OK to have sex. You did nothing wrong, but don’t confuse sex with love.

      I’m certain there’s a man out there for you, who shares your goals, as I’m certain that there’s someone out there for my friend. It might be the type of man you’re attracted to or some assholes may be recognizing that you’re vulnerable and are exploiting that. Are you waiting for men to ask you out? Find some guy you’re interest in and ask him out.

      I have another friend, who was very good with the ladies. He dated absolutely gorgeous women. The one he married is not conventionally attractive, but she was the first girl to ask him out and pay for the date. He’s completely committed to her and she loves him dearly also. He loves to drink and once when he was drunk had threatened to hit her. The next day he begged for forgiveness. He promised to stop drinking if she forgave him. A few months in, I asked him how he could give up drinking and his response was I don’t want to lose her. He drinks a little now in moderation. She relented. She knew it was hurting him and she loves him too. It’s easy to love someone who loves you back. They’re good people and make a good couple.

      Look for a kind man and ask him out.

    • You’ve simply put the cart before the horse. You spent too much time in a long-term relationship before you were ready and didn’t gather up the experience that you would like to be able to rely upon now. And, accidents happen – don’t read too much into that. You don’t sound like someone who will still be single in her 30’s.

  30. Jack White's my hero says:

    Such defensive feedback from men. Its a common problem and you guys know it. Men don’t have to worry as much as women when it comes to planning to have children. On the other hand, women are _just_ as responsible for ending a relationship that is going nowhere. I’m not saying a relationship that isn’t headed toward marriage and children is going nowhere either. When there is an overt or covert lack of total commitment, one of the two parties should end it…..or decide to have an open relationship, I guess.

    I recently got married when my partner and I realized I was 11 weeks pregnant. We’ve been in a committed relationship for years and decided not to have children. Mother nature had other plans. Our son is 6 mos old and perfectly average and healthy. Marriage and kids are not joke. I think half the people that think they want them have NO idea how ridiculously tough it is and how much unselfish time it requires.
    I bet most of those divorces are a result of people jumping into getting hitched and raising kids without figuring out if that’s really what they want (which starts with infidelity and leads to divorce). I love my husband and my son, however girls……think it through, its not rainbows and butterflies.

    • Women also have the responsibility to start thinking about serious relationships ahead of time. I’ve often heard younger women complaining about how relationships are useless to them because they’ve got so many better things to do and the men they know don’t seem to have anything to offer them. Well, if those men are working hard and saving money for a future family, then they’re going to want to really get to know her well. Picking the wrong one could cost them everything they’ve worked for and saddle them with decades of child support. They’d be insane not to be careful because it’s their future, too. They want to get to know a woman better and that’s only a good thing. Remember, they can always date someone a little younger – they’re not worried about a biological clock.

    • Hank Vandenburgh says:

      I actually think it’s kind of unfair to use terms like “defensive” when people are having a principled discussion. It’s a form of ad hominem, and it gets the critic off the hook, so that s/he doesn’t have to fully confront others’ arguments.

  31. Nobody’s made a reference to Mystikal song lyrics yet?

  32. If women who want a husband and kids would get over the irrational belief that life stops with kids, then the timeline wouldn’t be so tight. Waiting till 30 to focus on what are purportedly the most important things is a recipe for disaster. By the time one courtship fails, she’s potentially to 32 or 33 and the process has to restart. It’s not the man’s fault if a decade is squandered on fun and travel and exploration and finding oneself.

    • That’s true. It’s very hard to be sympathetic to women who frown on marriage and family until their 30’s. Guys in their 30’s who have worked hard and saved up finally have some real options in life and all of a sudden women who ignored them for 10 years are in a hurry to get hitched? What’s the matter, can’t they wait another 10 years?

      • (R)Evoluzione says:

        Best comment on thread: Ulysses’s wise words above. Ladies, your eggs start shrinking after age 30. If you wait till said shrinkage begins to occur to start getting serious about marriage & babies, well, you’re screwed, and it is thyselves that have done the screwing, not some ambivalent man you met after age 30.

        Or, to answer Kate Bollick’s question “Where are all the good men?”, the answer is–in your twenties, where you left them.

        • A woman in her 30s says:

          I find it interesting that your response is to say that a woman should not emotionally or intellectually grow by experiencing the world if she wants to also have a family. A woman who feels that she missed out on life because she got married and had babies before she was ready is more likely to get divorced than a woman who feels she grew to the person she wanted to be. I did not feel emotionally ready to be in a serious relationship and have kids early. Women are NOT being selfish for wanting to grow and if a man who chooses a woman much younger than him because he feels women is age are not worthy of him, than he is a selfish jerk!

          • Who says growth/experience and marriage/children are mutually exclusive? I promise you’ll gain lots of new experiences and have much opportunity to grow if you have a spouse and kids. As to the “I’m unhaaapppyy and need a divorce” assertion, CDC data on partner counts and divorce rates disagrees. (I’m not linking because I don’t want to go into moderation. Google “the Social Pathologist” and look around his blog. He’s sliced and diced the numbers.)

            So if you follow your whims and desires, it’s good, but if a man does the same, he’s a jerk?

          • What I find curious is that you’re agreeing with the idea that it’s often women’s ambition to not get married until later in life. But if women do not wish to get married when men would wish for them to, then why should men get married right when women do? Is it inconceivable that men in their 30’s are in a similar position to women in their 20’s? They’ve never been as attractive to the opposite sex as they are now, they’ve got money and they’re reaching senior positions in their careers, the world’s at their fingertips. Why should women in their 20’s get a whole decade to pursue their other dreams, but men need to be careful about not wasting women’s time? Men and women should feel free to make any decisions they want, but also to deal with the consequences.

          • (R)Evoluzione says:

            “Woman in her 30s”–Your eggs do not care that you saw Rome, Venice, and Paris under the light of the full moon. They are aging just the same.

            Your immaturity in your 20s simply reflects poorly on your upbringing. Well-guided adolescents develop into adults capable of making adult decisions and taking on adult responsibilities.

            “and if a man who chooses a woman much younger than him because he feels women is age are not worthy of him, than he is a selfish jerk!” Haha! I’m rubber and you’re glue. You, my darling, are the jerk for attempting to shame men into marrying someone of a certain age. You can decide when and whom you can marry, assuming you get an offer. You don’t get to decide that for anyone else.

  33. Did a law pass while I was asleep last night that women aren’t allowed to end relationships?

    You’re telling me that a man should end a relationship that he’s happy with. Here’s a radical idea: If she’s unhappy with the relationship- then perhaps SHE should be the one to end it. Like an adult would.

    You know what? With the current state of divorce and the way men generally get chewed up and spit out by the system, I dont blame a single person for being wary of entering into it.

    I love how you paint marriage and relationships though Mark. In your world, relationships are a means to an end, the people (or at least the men) in them don’t particularly matter, as long as they result in MARRIAGEANDBABIES and all women have a right to MARRIAGEANDBABIES!!

    the tl:dr version of your article: “women have a right to babies, and you as a man are obligated to provide them for her. Your feelings dont matter so STFU, “man up” and give them to her.

    Protip: If your article requires you to use the phrase “man up” your entire premise is severely messed up.

    • The real question is: just why do so many more women end marriages and relationships than men?

      Obviously, if the women were happy, they would NOT terminate the relationships. So, why is there such a disparity between men and women? Most men never see it coming. Why is that the case?

      These are all valid questions to ask. When we ask questions, we are really seeking knowledge.

    • I notice that, like many woman-are-suffering articles, the question “What’s in it for the guy?” is not asked. Almost as if it were unimportant.

      Spell out, please, why the guy should be interested in marriage instead of the relationship he’s currently enjoying. What’s HIS motivation to change things? Or is he simply expected to because it would make the woman happy?

  34. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I know couples that stereotype this way. But this is also pretty hetero-monogamo-normative. My experience is that I always fall deeply in love with anyone I have sex with more than a couple times, but I and they probably don’t intend to be life-partners by the same token.

  35. “There are lots of ways men mistreat women, as is frequently discussed in various sites like The Good Men Project”. . . and iblamethepatriarchy, feministing, and Jezebel.

    I get what you are trying to do here, but it’s backwards IMO. I am personally in favor of women starting the childbirth process in their 20s or no later than early 30s, especially if they want to have multiple children. 

    Having said that, this article supposes that women are childlike and unable to make their needs and expectations clearly known OR they are so desperate that they’ll accept anything they can get. I know the first is not true, and if the second is true, her problems are bigger than time wasted.

    Why do you consider women to be so helpless and childlike that you don’t consider them able to say early in the relationship, “look, I’m already 35 and I would like to have at least two babies. So, I can’t hang out with you for six years before we make a decision here. “**** already or get off the pot.”

    According to feminism, women can equally propose marriage as men. They don’t need to pine away for a proposal anymore. Why don’t you admonish women to be upfront and propose marriage if that’s what they want? That’s what men do. Where’s the equality?If she doesn’t get the answer she wants, she can move on to find someone that is also interested in not just hanging out for years. 

    It’s not possible to rob an adult woman of time unless he blatantly lies to her that they are going to get married on a specific date and he doesn’t show up  or something. Other than that scenario, she must cooperate in the effort by not making it clear what her needs and expectations are, based on her circumstances. Relationships are two way streets. Women can (and should) move on if he’s not meeting her expectations.

  36. You’re excusing sunk cost bias in the context of relationships because of the absence of a Y chromosome.

    One thing I’ve garnered from reading this website is that there are a heck of a lot of people out there who refuse to hold people accountable for their decisions simply because the people in question have 2 X chromosomes.

  37. You’re right, women have a limited number of child-bearing years, which is steadily expanding. As a man, I feel like I’ve got some limited number of years to enjoy my sexuality–though pharmaceuticals are helping that along.

    And no, I don’t want to hear from anyone telling me that cuddling or some such shit is a perfectly acceptable expression of sexuality. It certainly is and it’s certainly not what I want.

    So, men and women both age. We both lose opportunities due to wasted time. It seems like we’re not supposed to argue about who has it worse unless men are willing to concede that women have it worse. Forgive me if I don’t care so much, then.

    People make decisions for a lot of reasons. Pros, cons, weighing of priorities and so on. If I feel like it’s worth it to me to stay, I will. Likewise for her. All parties, I hope, choose wisely.

    I’m just loving all these articles that seem to generically place the blame on men. That don’t give any advice that is helpful to men. Except to tell them how to cater to women’s needs.

    • “You’re right, women have a limited number of child-bearing years, which is steadily expanding. ”

      Except that no, it isn’t. While there are more assisted reproduction techniques to try than their used to be 20 years ago, they are very expensive, usually not covered by insurance, and not guaranteed to work. For those that wait too long, the chance to be frustrated by infertility is the only thing that steadily expands.

  38. In general I think it should always be incumbent on each of us to decide if our time is being wasted in a relationship. I don’t think it’s fair to pin it on men like it’s an expected male failing. I think it’s something a slacker of either sex might do–just drift and not really worry about goals. If you’re with somebody and they are taking years to decide if they want to be married to you, I think you have your answer–they most probably are not thinking about your feelings. People who have marriage goals will talk about them. People who don’t, won’t.

  39. 70% of divorces are initiated by women. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Not 100% of them involve violence of any kind from any party. In fact the reason cited for initiating divorce is mostly boredom or control. “I don’t love him anymore” -> which is boredom for sure (if you’re talking about passion, basing any relationship on that is bound to fail – passion is fleeting by definition, love is companionship).

    • I don’t agree that “I don’t love you anymore” is code for “I’m bored”. People grow and change, sometimes in opposite directions or one person not at all. That can cause love to falter and die. Another reason can be that the relationship itself didn’t work out; issues came up and could not be resolved to satisfaction…that can cause love to erode as well. You can want to love somebody forever, but if the connected feelings go away and don’t come back, what does it even matter how you used to feel?

      I think when somebody says they don’t love a person anymore, the words should be taken at face value.

    • just passing says:

      neglect is a form of abuse. Loss of love is what comes from that abuse

      • So, what you’re saying is…

        “It’s always the man’s fault, and if we can’t see what he’s actively doing wrong, then it must be what he’s passively doing wrong…”

      • John Anderson says:

        If you’re a dependent child or an adult in a committed, monogamous relationship like marriage, you might be right, but this conversation concerns individuals pre-marriage. There are very few barriers to exit and they’re not in general difficult to overcome. The conversation also revolves around the commitment aspect of a relationship. Forcing through coercion someone to marry is more abusive than refusing to marry someone you’re unsure you can commit to.

    • I have said many times on this site that one man will NEVER keep a woman happy over a lifetime. Women have far more complex sexuality and emotions than men. What she is in love with today, she hates tomorrow….

      I would love to enjoy a stable, long lasting, sexually healthy relationship with a woman. However, I just do not have the faith and/or confidence in women. I just deep down feel ALL relationships with women are temporary. I am not looking for an iron clad guarantee. However, I just cannot deal with the constant need for variety and stimulation. It becomes mentally taxing. Only to discover later, your efforts we all in total vain. Just being honest.

      I would be inclined to believe that most women simply grow bored and tired of their husbands. I have even read studies which show that the majority of married women in America no longer love their husbands. Nearly one third of women knowingly marry the wrong man! Knowingly.

      Hence the stats do not lie. This is why women file 70% of the time. By our very socialization, men are taught to endure (i.e., suck it up!). Today’s modern American woman seems to think she is entitled to perpetual bliss.

      • John Anderson says:

        That’s a little unfair to women. Marriage is work for both parties. It takes a lot of compromise and selflessness. Society’s changing ideas around marriage and the changes in divorce laws that reflected these new attitudes really removed the incentive to put in the work. It’s better to divorce than stay in a bad marriage. The problem was bad started slowly losing its meaning. It went from being physically abused to we can’t agree on the color to paint the living room.

        A marriage counselor once said that for a marriage to work, your partner has to be number one. The kids are number two so where does that leave you? At best you’re number three. If both partners put their spouse first, there wouldn’t be so much divorce, but society is now teaching people to put themselves first.

        A coworker of mine, who has been married for over 30 years, got a phone call, looked at me and said I’m leaving. I have to take my wife to the hospital. He didn’t say I need to leave or can I leave or let the bosses know I’m leaving. He said I’m leaving. His wife came before his job.

    • Maybe women get tired of their husbands because their husbands get tired of them. Maybe it’s mutual boredom. Certainly, you hear men all the time complaining that they have lost sexual attraction for their aging wives. (Go read Tom Matlack’s controversial article from awhile back about the guy who thought his wife’s tits were “ruined.”). The wife gets older, she’s not a hot 20-something anymore, she’s turning ito a middle aged woman. Even if she stays in shape, she’s not doing it for him anymore. So the man turns to porn, has an affair or the sex just gets routine and uninspired because he’s just phoning it in, looking for an orgasm without any real interest in his wife. She pulls back, loses interest too. Eventually, it is often the wife who files for divorce but I think it is RARELY a surprise to the husband. Women just seem to have more courage to end miserable marriages for whatever reason. I’ve seen this with many, many friends,

  40. John Anderson says:

    I think that if a woman enters into a relationship for the purpose of getting married and having children rather than with the intention of getting to know a man or of being accepting of the man that he is, she doesn’t have the right to complain. She should be honest with him that she doesn’t care what kind of man he is. She’s looking for a husband, any husband. She intends to marry him and change him into the man that she wants. That way he can decide if that’s the kind of relationship he wants to get into.

    • Every guy I date right now I am weighing up and wondering if he’s the right material for marriage. Its not about ‘any old husband’ its about the right/compatible/successful whatever you call it husband.
      Up until now I have not mentally considered (apart form one guy) any guy to be potential for marriage. It just means that women start to take dating a little bit more seriously as the writer rightly pointed out – they have limited time. Sigh.
      Any women who settles its her perogative. Divorce happens alto in these situations,

  41. John Schtoll says:

    TLDR: “Women have it worse”

  42. Thank you for this article. There are no excuses for people who lie to get their way. Deception in any relationship makes it a false arrangement and one person is deliberately misusing, neglecting, and abusing the trust of the other. Anyone who defends this type of behavior has unquestionable flaws of character and absolutely no integrity. Unfortunately many people take advantage of others and then like to point the finger at thier mark, telling them to buck up and oh-well. This may seem perfectly natural to many abusive personality types, but there genuinely is no excuse for unjustifiable breeches of trust within your most intimate relationships that do irreparable damage to those you pretend to care about ( male or female). It basically comes down to theft as written in the article, there are damages done when you enter into a verbal or written contract you have no intention of honoring. Perhaps there are many cases where men do not know thier own minds or are simply deceiving both themselves as well as thier partner, but most know to some degree they’re not sharing the same life goals with another person, and however emotionally uncomfortable it is to do the soul searching and self analysis to make a concrete judgement, it does both people a disservice to avoid the personal introspection to be clearly aware and forthcoming. Thank you for this compelling article. It is not so much that there is no such thing as victim and villain in some relationship, but more that it is never so difinitively clear cut to absolve all accountability from one or the other person. This essay clearly addresses dishonesty and lack of conviction in some men towards some women. Those blustering about victimizing women or vilifying men miss theservice points entirely.


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