Lies Women Tell One Another About Men and Love

Vironika Tugaleva thought she was showing her man how much she loved him by being the perfect Cosmo Girl. Instead, she almost lost him.

I remember being little, about 11 years old, and watching “Show Girls.” I probably shouldn’t have been watching “Show Girls” when I was 11, but it happened. I remember this one scene where Nomi—with her long legs, flawless shiny skin, and perfect ass—is giving this man a lap dance. She moves with masterful control and leaves him bulgy eyed and completely incoherent. This, I thought, was the epitome of female sexuality. She was sexy, strong, and beautiful. I remember feeling a complex mix of arousal and shame. I didn’t have long, skinny legs. My skin wasn’t shiny like that. Neither was my ass. I took a deep breath and swallowed hard. There was a lesson in all this. If I was ever going to get a man to love me, I’d have to learn how to give a lap dance.

I also remember talking to my older sister* when I was a teenager. I remember the sincerity in her eyes when she told me “You will either get a man who wants to have sex with you all the time, but he will never be faithful. Or, you get a man who will be faithful to you, but he will never want to have sex with you.” I nodded and swallowed that, too. I would meet men, from that day on, and the more sexually attracted they were to me, the more I’d mistrust them. The more they wanted me, the more I pushed them away. You won’t fool me, cheater, I thought. I know what guys like you with your libido and lolling tongues want.

A few years ago I was working at a sex shop and this CEO came in to buy a vibrator. Her hands were laden with expensive rings and she carried herself with the air of someone who knew she was important. My coworker Sandy* and I, excited by her ultra-powerful presence and happy to put vibrator dusting on hold, leaned over the counter, wide-eyed, while she explained to us what we needed to know about men.

“You see, girls,” she leaned closer to us, her Chanel perfume swimming in my nostrils, “The key to men is—never give them everything. If you give them everything, you lose. Then, they don’t want you anymore. You have to always keep them chasing you. Never quite give them what they want. Don’t ever, ever tell them how you feel about them. Never tell them how much they mean to you. You know, that’s how Kate Bekinsale got the Prince. She always kept him wanting more.”

I tried my best to not be one of those psychotic girlfriends that we women read and hear about and secretly fear becoming. One of those girls that, when I was 17, I most definitely was.

Sandy and I exchanged looks and nodded. This was the truth. It had to be. This was why, as my sister said, the sexually virile man would lose interest and find someone else. It was because women out there were giving these men who were really attracted to them everything that they had. They were giving them their hearts. I felt privileged that I would no longer be one of those women. Now I knew what I had to do. If I wanted a good relationship, I had to find a man who wanted to have sex with me and then keep that man’s interest by withholding my feelings and by learning how to give a proper lap dance.

The problem was—the thought of giving a lap dance made me want to projectile vomit and run away. The other problem was—I have a lot of feelings. When I love, I love hard. I swallowed that, too. I guess I would have to keep my psychotic neediness to myself. I guess I would have to learn to be sexy and withholding.

Over time, I practiced. I read sex tips. I learned tricks. I withheld my feelings. I never, ever told anyone how I felt about them. I still didn’t know how to give a lap dance and I still had a tendency to love way harder than anyone I knew, but I learned to do other things that I thought were just as drool-worthy and I kept my feelings nice and hidden. Overall, I thought I had everything perfectly under control.

Then, one day, I fell in love. I met someone with whom I could talk into the late hours of the morning night after night. Someone who made my body swim with endorphins at the sheer sight of him. Someone who shared my values. Someone who was funny and charming. Someone who was really sexually attracted to me. Yes, I thought! This is my chance! My chance to do it right! My opportunity to do what other women would never think to do because they were ignorant to these facts that I knew about men. I would succeed where other women had failed. I would be the perfect girlfriend. Withholding and sexy.

I thought I was doing really well. I never told him I liked him. I turned him down to hang out with me all the time. He would compliment me and I would accept his praises without reciprocating. If I did reciprocate, it was mild. I couldn’t tell him how I really felt, after all, because then he would get bored of me and leave, so I was vague and sparse. I did everything I was supposed to do as a modern-day Cosmo Girl. I felt really confident that I had managed to be, finally, the perfect girlfriend.

It went well until, very suddenly, it didn’t. Quite suddenly, I got really angry. I was really angry because I didn’t feel like I was sexually satisfied. I was angry because I didn’t feel loved. I was sad because I didn’t feel like I was seen.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. It must all be his fault. I did everything right and he still didn’t appreciate me! I did all the things that you’re supposed to do to make a man happy, but he still didn’t love me like I deserve? I guess men were even harder to please than I thought.

I tried to keep all this stuff in, I really did. I tried my best to not be one of those psychotic girlfriends that we women read and hear about and secretly fear becoming. One of those girls that, when I was 17, I most definitely was. One of those girls I swore I’d never be again. I canceled all my plans with him. I made excuses. I very seriously considered ending it though these thoughts made me feel nauseous and depressed. Was it him? Was it me? Was I so hard to love? Was he selfish? Was it men? Were we all doomed to suffer in painful, unsatisfying relationships forever?

A few days into my discontent, I went home to visit my family. I went out for dinner with my sister and her husband. We sat in a cozy booth at an East Side Mario’s during Labour Day weekend. I picked at my sad excuse for vegetarian food and watched them interact with each other. I watched him say things, without eye contact, that caused my sister’s face to twitch, her lip to curl, and her head to shake slightly. She would say things and they had no such effect on him. She sat beside me and I felt how his words, his innocuous comments about his coworkers, made her shake. I realized, quite suddenly, that my sister really, really hated him. Everything suddenly made sense. She really did. She really, really hated him.

And it hit me.

Who is my sister to be giving me relationship advice?

My sister is miserable. She’s in a relationship with a man who cheated on her. A man she hates. A man she never forgave. She told me what she told me because she believes it. She believes it because that’s her experience.

I thought back to the CEO. She was 40-something and single. I remembered—with the lightning speed that previously insignificant details come during an epiphany—that she also mentioned her divorce and hiring young men from escort agencies as dates to corporate functions.

These women, I realized, had horrible experiences with relationships! These women were not gurus in the relationship realm. These women were not experts on the minds of men. These women were bitter, lonely, and seeking to share their pain.

I watched “Show Girls” again. In that scene, Nomi’s getting paid $500 to give a lap dance to a stranger by a woman who is trying to convince her that she’s not a performer, she’s just a hooker. After she gives it, she feels cheap. That is most definitely not the epitome of female sexuality. It’s not about love, beauty, or strength. It’s about money and show business. Definitely not a place to be getting beliefs about how relationships work.

I could hardly wait to tell my partner this as my bus home rolled in.

I still remember the look on his face when I told him why I had been so withholding both emotionally and physically. I remember that sigh. I remember that relief. His realization that my behaviour made no comment about him, only me. My realization that every time I withheld my emotions and my intimacy, I made him feel rejected.

I was trying to do all these things to be perfect, but all I was doing was constructing this completely false, inauthentic reality that, in the end, really hurt both of us. It made both of us feel unsatisfied and unappreciated. It made us both feel like we weren’t enough.

Before this, I thought being authentic was about my appearance. I thought it was about coming to terms with what I look like. This experience taught me that being authentic was also about coming to terms with what I want. I want to be loved and appreciated.

On my journey to spread the message of authenticity, I’ve learned something very valuable. That I’m not alone. That to feel loved and appreciated is what we all want. That so many relationships are thrust apart by the very same dynamics that mine was. That some couples out there never figure it out and walk away because they both feel so inadequate. We try so hard to be perfect for each other, but we fail because we’re not being ourselves.

I’ve learned a lot and I keep learning. I’ve heard it said that we teach best that which we need to learn the most. For me, it’s authenticity. Even after I learned to share my positive emotions, I’ve still had trouble with sharing negative ones. But I keep learning and growing.

It’s hard, sometimes, to live in a culture of gender stereotypes. It’s hard, sometimes, to believe in lasting, powerful love, in effective long-term relationships, and in gender equality when all we hear are sob stories.

I hope that, if you can only take one thing away from my story, it’s this—sometimes, we make our own sob stories. We believe that the world is a certain way because of what we were told or what we’ve experienced. Then, we filter the rest of our life through the lens of that belief. It doesn’t mean that we weren’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that people weren’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that our beliefs aren’t justified. It does, however, mean that our beliefs are often opinions, not truths.

I think that the truth about men and women is—we’re more similar than we are different. We just want to be loved and appreciated for who we are and what we do. We all deserve that, too. So let’s give each other that and expect it in return.

 

* Not really my older sister, and not really named Sandy, respectively; these identities have been obscured to protect their anonymity.

Read more: In Defense of Psycho Bitches from Hell

Image credit: jpockele/Flickr

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About Vironika Tugaleva

Vironika Tugaleva is a people lover, inspirational speaker, reformed cynic, recovered addict, coach, and bestselling author of the award-winning book The Love Mindset. Her work helps people develop self-awareness, cultivate peace of mind, and discover the importance of knowing, loving, and understanding themselves. You're invited to read more about Vironika and get a sneak preview of The Love Mindset .

Comments

  1. Yeah, ladies, withholding is a great way to kill romance. How would you feel if your man ignored you, ignored your compliments, etc?

    “I thought I was doing really well. I never told him I liked him. I turned him down to hang out with me all the time. He would compliment me and I would accept his praises without reciprocating. If I did reciprocate, it was mild. I couldn’t tell him how I really felt, after all, because then he would get bored of me and leave, so I was vague and sparse”
    This will drive many men away and leave them feeling you are cold, maybe even heartless, constant rejection then the woman wonders why he doesn’t stay around. Why would he? Sounds like a miserable person to pursue, nearly everything you wrote is a huge turn off until you started to act decently and not jerk men around. Your “sister” has shit advice, the “CEO” who doesn’t give everything wouldn’t know what Love means, following their advice is a great way to learn how good a vibrator feels with an empty bed and no one to give a damn about you since he’s been driven off by cold, manipulative and quite frankly annoying behavior.

    Glad you changed though, I hope others read this and realize it’s a shitty way to get a partner.

    • I’m glad you see the value in this lesson and my intention in sharing it, Archy. I hope that my story can reach and help women out there like that CEO, like my “sister”, like my former self.

      • It’s annoying how much bad advice there is we get from people, I had to undo years of bullshit from listening to the “be nice to a woman, she’ll love you for it” speech to the point where it was expected to treat her as a goddess and not a human. Now I treat women as humans and not put on a pedestal, found out that women on pedestals often feel they can’t liveup to the fantasy and it harms them.

  2. Refreshing article from a woman who was able to see her errors and changed.

    • I wouldn’t necessarily call these “her errors.” Even if she hadn’t learned these “rules” from her sisters and female peers, these are behaviors we women learn from cultural cues that dominate our lives. Movies, television, women’s magazines, talk show hosts, “experts”… It’s dangerous to reduce any emotional pursuit to “rules of the road”, but it’s all around us. Kudos to you, Vironika for coming into your own and realizing that you being yourself in a relationship is key. Though I can’t speak for her internal experience, it doesn’t seem to me that Vironika changed. It seems she moved from trying to change into the “perfect Cosmo girl” to truly being herself.

      • Thank you, Sarah! Your last sentence reminds me of something my partner said to me the other day… he said “When people are doing something and they aren’t getting the results they want, even if its the wrong thing, they never think ‘Oh, I’m doing the wrong thing’. They just think ‘I’m not doing enough of what I’m doing’. So they do more and more of the wrong thing.” I think this is so true. Sometimes it takes us a rude awakening to look at what we’re doing and realize it’s wrong. It takes courage to admit to doing the wrong thing and seek to do better.

        In the long run, though, authenticity is really easy. It’s converting to an authentic existence (and all ego-related pain that comes with it) that can prove difficult. But, in itself, being authentic is really rewarding. If I had known how amazingly easy it would be to just be myself when I was younger, I would’ve saved a lot of money on makeup and quick fixes and a lot of misery over my inability to be “perfect” according to someone else’s standards.

        • I would say not questioning whether what you’re doing is correct rather than only thinking you’re not doing it enough is most certainly an error.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I had a friend in high school who always used to say things like “guys are all the same” and “guys only want one thing.” It drove me crazy. I think a major problem with romantic relationships is that people on both sides make sweeping generalizations about the opposite sex. Like my high school friend. We don’t consider people as individuals and I think that leads to a lot of misunderstanding.

    • Amen

      • One thing I’ve noticed in my lifetime is that it seema relationship ‘advice’ , whether solicited or not, seems to flow more freely from those who’ve had many faliures. I mean, when you think about it, you wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who’s been bankrupt several times, would you?I beleive that’s what Vironika realised and what caused ‘the light to go on’. (Thankfully for her, before it was too late!)

  4. Experience has taught me that the value of advice is often in inverse proportion to the eagerness with which it is given.

  5. Revo Luzione says:

    What a beautiful article, very well-written and vulnerable.

    Authenticity and vulnerability are powerful, amazing ways to connect. Use them wisely, and life becomes a rich tapestry of experience, love, affection, and fun.

  6. I wish my soon to be ex-wife had realised this stuff. She’s just going to leave a long trail of broken hearts behind her, mine and my kids included.

  7. You just wrote the story of my life! What a great article. We have been sold so much bullshit, and I have recently realized it too. Thank you.

  8. Icelander says:

    Actually, teh advice you where given is exactly the type of advice given to women that men througout the manosphere have been criticising and not witholding affection and sex in a rules type tactic (once IN the relationship) is one of the things they recomend. The big difference between dating advice given to women in the sphere and most other advice is that the women come back with RESULTS. Athol Kays site and forum is a testament to this full of success stories. Andrew of therulesrevisited blog and Susan Walsh at hookingupsmart also give good dating and relationship advice.

  9. I think Elizabeth’s point is the key one. People – men & women – are so fixated on ‘succeeding’ in relationships and frightened of being hurt that they look for one answer, one truth and other people are comforted by thinking they have that truth to offer to others.
    Some people here have commented that they’ve experienced relationships ruined by withholding.
    I myself have experienced relationships that were all moonlight and roses while I was getting to know and trust the man and as soon as I opened up completely and trusted quickly deteriorated in to my being taken for granted and pushed away. That doesn’t mean all men want a woman that withholds or that you can never trust – that means that there was a problem with *my* relationship with those *specific* men – who *I* chose to be with at that time.
    I still haven’t worked out what it was all about but I’m certain it wasn’t something that could be summarised in a pithy one-liner that would enable me or others to avoid all risk of hurt in future.

    I think all we can hope for is the self awareness to understand what’s going on with ourselves and our relationships and the courage to either fight for it or walk away depending on what that awareness tells us. And that’s something we do learn by making mistakes – it just doesn’t mean that our own learning and experience will work for anyone else.

    • I agree, my nature is to be warm and emotionally generous in relationships, but more often than not, I find men prefer me when I am distant. I back off and seem distracted, and they will suddenly start calling more and asking me to spend more time with them. Sigh.

      • This reminds me of the Princess asking “Am I kissing the wrong frogs… or am I kissing frogs wrongly?” I’d have to say that, if you are receiving the message that you’re best off distant, you’re kissing the wrong frogs. There’s nothing wrong with being warm and emotionally generous.

        Just remember that you’re only as rich as the radius of your imagination. If you can imagine powerful, long-lasting love where you’re both emotionally involved and close… then you’ll get it. It’s possible. I promise.

        • Indeed, there is a woman I have a mad crush on (sadly she’s married, yes I hate my silly crushes:P) who is VERY warm, nice, sweet, caring, and that is a huge turn on dating wise. I feel very safe around her, comfy, her presence alone makes you feel heaps better. That type of feeling is madly multiplied in dating and feels great. It’s nice to feel loved, desired, wanted, just avoid clingyness but that differs person to person so you’d have to ask the partner what is ok and what isn’t.

    • QuantumInc says:

      I think the idea of a “successful” relationship is key. Here success if often defined by the consensus of your peers, there’s a lot of peer pressure to have relationships in a certain way, and a lot of a person’s esteem gets drawn into it. However the idea of different people being forced into a similar relationships seems like a recipe for disaster for me. Earlier in life this is probably worse, though it could give you a lot of emotional baggage down the line.

      A lot of people feel trapped in outwardly “perfect” marriages, actually that was the whole subject of “The Feminine Mystique” which kickstarted second wave feminism. Another book I’m reminded is “Outdated” by Samhita Mukhopadhyay which argues that most of these popular dating advice column and books function to reinforce gender stereotypes, which makes sense since it is easier to think in terms of stereotypes than to do real science or do anything radical.

      One other thought is that the phrase “moonlight and roses” was more interested in acting out a romantic fantasy that really getting to know you. Some men also get off on those romantic fantasies, as well as a lot of women. The problem with that of course is the other person has to live up to that fantasy which you can’t do while also being authentic 99% of the time. So regardless of gender, or really the specific fantasy, acting it out will be fun but when you reveal the real you it can be a big shock to them. Moonlight and roses are great but human beings cannot fit into that paradigm and inevitably there will be a detail about yourself that breaks the fantasy. Undoubtedly they also have such details, but make a big effort to keep the fantasy going by keeping it hidden.

  10. I’ve always worked under the theory that when in a relationship I am asking my partner to give a bunch of trust to me and it’s completely disrespectful if I’m not willing to do the same back. And I have to really sit and think if I’m not ready to hand over some trust should I even be in a relationship? If I’m going to with hold my feelings, thoughts or whatever… should I really be in a relationship.

    I really think the games people play while doing these mating and pair bonding rituals are tiring. And entirely too hard to keep track of. Treat people the way you want to get treated. Keep it simple. Don’t like how you’re being treated? Look at how you’re interacting with the world. Little self reflection never hurt anyone.

    • @Kat,

      “Treat people the way you want to get treated. Keep it simple. Don’t like how you’re being treated? Look at how you’re interacting with the world. Little self reflection never hurt anyone.”

      Yes, so please think that Mr. Nice likes sex too! Look at how your’re interacting with these men vs the other degenerates. “Little self reflection never hurt anyone” Right?

  11. “I think that the truth about men and women is—we’re more similar than we are different.We just want to be loved and appreciated for who we are and what we do. We all deserve that, too. So let’s give each other that and expect it in return.”

    This. This paragraph sums it all. This paragraph tell us all we need to know about sex, dating, and relationship. Sees opposite sex as just we see ourselves. We both are human.

    But what I found funny is most women and men seems to afraid to admit that we are not that different.

    Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. That’s the biggest bullshit I have ever heard in my life.

  12. I never thought that women (or men) analyzed themselves or the other sex that much. Quite an eye opener. This may sound like a stupid question, but do all women obsess this much? Do men? Maybe I am being naive but all of this toying around seems manipulative. I guess I grew up a lot more simply than most because if I feel something, I share it. I don’t go through some kinda love playbook in my head to see how my actions are going to play on whoever I am dating. I am darn sure glad to be married and done with this stuff.

    • I think it is a matter of how you’re raised, yes. I wouldn’t call it manipulation. Manipulation sounds intentional.

      I wasn’t taught to share what I feel. I wasn’t told “Be yourself” and all of that self love stuff. I grew up on “Be number 1, be perfect, or be worthless”. So, I tried to be perfect. The best I knew how.

      I feel like this isn’t a pressure that everyone is succumbed to. But those of us that were put under that thumb know how it is. And it’s not about manipulation. It’s about survival. Trying to preserve self respect the only way we know how.

      The funny thing about authenticity is that it’s so easy for some people that they don’t even have a word for it. It’s those of us who need it so badly that keep talking about it, writing about it, and advocating for it so passionately.

      Thanks for asking and sharing <3

      • I preach and live authenticity since I transitioned.

        No book or magazine could have convinced me to do otherwise.

        Asperger people tend to be less influenced by second and third hand advice or information (tends to want to verify if it works or is true, each and every time, unless big big trust in the person and the issue).

  13. It’s truly sad that 4 decades of gender warfare results in the sexes seeing each other as “opposite” rather than equivalent (equi-valent = of equal value). In my practice I see the pain and mistrust of each sex toward the “other” based on the “advice” of bitter members of the same sex.
    Yet an abundance of research literature speaks to these matters, from an inquisitive search for understanding of matters relational and sexual. It requires an educational approach where the protagonists learn, over considerable time, to similarly seek understanding from those who took the time and effort to empathise with the lived experience of the sex that so attracts them.

  14. For a long time i have found reading so many opinions outlooks etc halted somewhere halfway through as i felt an opinion of my own form and an old familiar tug of “this is where i stand” take its grip. No problem with it just happier without it. Felt really refreshed by this conversation with it’s eye on authenticity. For me its an ongoing process that changes day to day, its the nature of the beast ,it doesn’t leave us in a place where we can say “this is who i am”. To be in relationship means this can be most challenging, far better that than “knowing”. It keeps my v ulnerability alive and from there i feel empathy and real strength, connection and hearts longing thrive. Thanks one and all.

  15. Everyone learns twisted or at the least nuanced perspectives from others both early in life and along the way. This is not a predicament for women or relationship issues only. However, I appreciate Veronika’s clear voice and vision in giving focus to how our attitudes toward a potential lover or mate can dictate our success or failure at realizing the intimacy and sense of belonging for which we all yearn. So much of our pain is based on the ill-conceptions we pick-up and lug-around without closer inspection. Great article on breaking free of what does not serve. Good advice and well-written.

    • Thank you Brooke! It’s funny… I’ve been looking lately into male Pick Up Artist books… just seeing how the “other side” (as in the male version of Cosmo) is telling men to act… and it’s no wonder, really. Men and women alike are being given terrible advice. They’re being told to go against their natural feelings and do something ELSE. They’re being told “Hey, you don’t want this intimacy and sense of belonging crock, you want SEX, only SEX.” Even more dangerous is when we’re told stories like that of the bull who gets put into a pen with different cows and never, ever has sex with the same cow twice. That’s two levels of distortion. Now we believe we’re animals, we’re made for cheating, and we’re essentially inadequate for long-term partnership. It’s a tangled web. Breaking free is so liberating to ourselves and our relationships with each other.

  16. First saw this article at Elephant Journal and had to comment here, too. What a wonderful piece! Please, everybody who identifies with this, Google Alison Armstrong, who has tons of free material online (and some paid, but worth it). What I learned when I did that has changed my life and the way I relate to men. Really wonderful.

  17. This piece spoke volumes to me. We’ve all been taught to play games with people because our sincere and genuine selves would either scare people off or bore them. That we’re not likeable the way that we are, and must manipulate others in order to be liked. What a horrible thing to be taught! And like in this story it can often backfire. I have learned not to take advice from unhappy people. I still struggle with withholding a huge part of myself for fear of making myself vulnerable. But I feel that if I have to use it to manipulate people into doing or feeling something, it means I’m not worth doing or feeling that thing for.

  18. Madeira says:

    I was told that being a “slut” means no man will love or respect you. I’ve slept with any man I felt like sleeping with on the first date, I find if they don’t respect you after you fuck them they didn’t respect you in the first place.

    • “I’ve slept with any man I felt like sleeping with on the first date, I find if they don’t respect you after you fuck them they didn’t respect you in the first place.”

      Amen to that.

    • If you find that this is true, should you still sleep with someone you don’t really know? I know there’s a culture of hookups, but there’s also lots of discussion about how it’s really not been that great for younger people. I’m not saying no one should ever do it, just that it is important to know what you are getting into.

      • I agree, Robynn. After years of struggling with what I thought were feelings of inadequacy, I realized that most of my hesitation was just latent self-respect. I need to be intimate with a person before I have sex with them. I love all people, but intimacy is part of relationship-building. It is not surprising that a culture that promotes quick romps has such a high rate of failed relationships. We discard people and move on instead of discarding our limitations, fears, and wounds and moving on.

        I agree that everyone’s entitled to do whatever they want to do. If people really want quick hookups, that’s fine. I’m just wondering if they would still want that if they knew what it was to be completely connected with someone through the heart and having the physical act of sex be a respectful, exciting expression of that. I’m really curious as to whether someone who’s felt that would ever go back to one night stands. … I sure didn’t. But that’s just me.

        • Madeira says:

          Here’s the thing, I’ve respected myself enough to have sex when I wanted to have sex, if they turned me on, if I was into it, then I’d do it. If they didn’t respect me afterwards, I’d filtered out a douche I didn’t want to be with ANYWAY. Intimate emotionally intense sex is GREAT, but you don’t have to avoid having casual sex along the way in order to get it. I had sex on my first date with my now husband, a man who has treated me with the utmost respect since we first met, since we first had sex on that first date (explosive chemistry, let me tell you) and the sex has just gotten better, since we’ve been getting it on for the whole relationship we know one another’s bodies really well, and our love for one another has only grown.

          So while only having it once you’re emotionally connected to the person is what you need in order to have good sex, that’s how you work, personally I had thoroughly enjoyable sex and mutually respectful and joyful sex with partners I barely knew, and it was nice. Honestly, there is something that can be really positive about having a very positive sexual experience with someone you don’t know, where you do respect each other, and you’ve come together for a brief time to make each other feel nice, isn’t that capable of being respectful and positive and good as well?

          • It makes me sick to know some people don’t respect people they have casual sex with, thinking of them as whores n what not….If you can’t respect them then why be with them??

  19. Great article, both in form and substance. Will circulate it to share the love.

  20. Eunyung says:

    Great article. Media & some of our closest allies create a lot of havoc on the truth of being a woman, what we want and what men want as evidenced by my own marriage. Hope to be better example for our daughter. Sidenote: if you republish this I think you meant Kate Middleton, not Kate Beckinsale, unless that CEO was confused ;-)

  21. Scott Heathcote says:

    There are a lot of people who have been hurt commenting here.
    My take of the article is that it is a very honest article. The author was trying to “do the right things” to find a man who she could truly love and who would love her back.

    I’m not sure why she was so willing to accept the bad advice but lots of people are influenced to accept bad advice. Women seem to love “women’s magazines” – maybe their drive to create content to keep the money coming in has something to do with it.

    The long and the short of it is that she is simply sharing the lesson she learned and many people would do well to learn form her experience. Men are also given crappy relationship advice. Most people want to have a happy, fulfilling relationship. It’s sad there is so much misinformation preventing people from having real connections with each other.

    • Liz McKinnell says:

      Hi Scott,

      I think most of what you say here is right, especially that we are all given loads of really appalling advice. I wanted to pick up on your comment that ‘Women seem to love “women’s magazines” – maybe their drive to create content to keep the money coming in has something to do with it.’

      You say this as though it is rather mystifying that women enjoy women’s magazines, and I can see why it would seem that way – I used to enjoy them in the past, but since my views and ways of seeing the world have moved on, I can’t stand the sight of the things.

      I think part of what hooks us on these sources of terrible advice is that, when we are teenage girls, there are a hell of a lot of hormones flying about, because just like teenage boys, there is this new burgeoning sexual energy. The problem is that all the popular myths aim to suppress female sexuality – they teach us to keep it locked up and be nice girls who aren’t too slutty.

      What mags aimed at teenage girls aim to do – and then following on from that Cosmo etc. – is to acknowledge female sexuality. It is like being part of this exciting secret club that realises that women are just as sexual as men are. The problem is that these mags aren’t REALLY pulling away from the prevailing gendered norms about sexuality, even if they present themselves as though they are. So we are indoctrinated in certain kinds of behaviour and ways of seeing the world. They provide what feels like a safe space for female sexuality, but at the same time they betray that by manufacturing a damaging idea of female sexuality that is (on one level) aimed at men, but (in reality) aimed at the same superficial and harmful ideas about gender that men’s magazines tell men that they ought to be adhering to.

      The result – a patriarchal society. Not in the sense that men are empowered – because really they are only made to think that they are – but in the sense that a successful woman is supposed to be one who sidelines her own desires and thoughts for the sake of a myth of masculinity.

      Sorry for the rant :-)

  22. James Stanuszek says:

    Very good article…

  23. Vironika,
    Thank you so much for writing this. I’ve had a very similar experience–everyone (and by “everyone,” I mean the people who speak the loudest on these subjects–usually single women) kept telling me that the only reason I wasn’t happily in a relationship was that I gave too much emotionally. Anything other than being cold would project an image of desperation, they said. And I didn’t know any better, so I went along with it. Naturally, men don’t respond well to women who give them nothing–who’s going to ask out someone who gives them every reason to believe they’ll be rejected?–and I just took that to mean that I wasn’t being cold enough.

    Finally I got sick of it–after all, how will anyone find an authentic, honest relationship by being inauthentic and dishonest?–and started having real relationships. And–shocker–men seemed to like me so much better when I cared less about what I “should” say and more about what I was actually feeling in the moment.

    I’ve tried to explain this to a lot of men, without success. They just don’t understand why women would ever think it was a good idea to play so incredibly hard to get.

    I’ll be sending this to several men today as, “See? This is exactly what I’m talking about.”

    Thank you.

  24. I really think there is a something inside us that’s bound to make us afraid and pessimistic. How many times have you heard the expression “if it’s too good to be true, it is probably because it is”, has anyone ever come up with a mirror expression, to mean that a horrible story (or advice) can be just as fake as one “too good”?

    I grew up with the same gloomy vision of men and love, among survivors of sexual abuse. I grew up with stuff like “if a an has a chance to abuse you, at any time, any place, any man will”, I heard the “play hard to get” line more than once, it just never make sense to me, along with the “make sure he loves you more than you love him”. Those things, often together with the classic complaint of “why do men see sex as a power thing?” turn a relationship (that’s not love) into a power struggle.

    Adepts of advice like that do not need a man or a woman, they do not need a relationship, they actually want power over someone else! If the rage is high enough, they may just want someone to suffer like they have suffered.

    Thank you for bringing up the “Men who’ll want sex with you will not love you and men who love you will not want sex with you”, it shows that women do have that version of the madonna-whore complex we’ve been accusing men of having since Freud became trendy. Maybe that beyond all that self-important psychoanalytic stuff, they have it for the same very simple reason.

  25. I liked your article a lot.
    A while ago I was standing in a book store looking at self-help books written by women for women about how to deal with men and they gave advice along the lines of ‘men are the enemy’ ‘treat them mean, keep them keen.

  26. I fell in love once and only once. I didn’t with-hold my feelings, exactly. I didn’t tell him I loved him because it was very soon into it. But I told him multiple times that he made me feel very happy and that I felt like I could share everything with him and be vulnerable and be myself around him.

    He dumped me for “liking him too much”

    We’re friends now, as I try to understand what happened. He tells me that if I played it cool for a few more weeks, he might have given me a chance, but since I blurted out how excited and happy I was, it freaked him out and he bailed and now he’ll never have those feelings for me again.

    • It sounds like you may be holding onto this experience to justify not being open, loving, vulnerable and emotional (unless you were acting in a needy manner, and frankly, no one likes this, men or women). This experience is exactly what the writer of the article was saying, just not specifically. The RIGHT man would not be freaked out by those declaration of feelings. This phrase “he might have given me a chance” feel condescending as well.

      There’s a phrase I just love, and in my ‘advanced’ years and many dating experiences, I’ve found it to be true: Rejection is God’s protection.

  27. chris mohr says:

    Cosmopolitan and the like are best viewed as comedy. If you buy one and actually take their advice, it’s your loss. If you buy one for the sheer, unintentional comedy, then they are worth every penny. But don’t be fooled into listening to their advice, or YOU become the joke.

  28. Gotta say this is a great article, I believe you’re right. We’re always sticking up to lots of somehow external shit when it comes to the way we carry ourselves in a relationship. I’m very thankful for having ran into this text, I’ve been going through the exact same situation for a couple months now and though I’m a Mexican gay guy, I’ve also always felt bound to draw myself away from him emotionally as an unconscious strategy to succeed and all I’ve gotten is that same feeling of emptiness and hollowness.. I’m now trying to be always honest with him and it’s quite worked. I feel better now. Thanks again.

  29. I’m curious- did your partner ever try to confront you before your revelation about your coldness or lack of openness? If so, how did you respond? If not, how do you think you would have responded?

    • Yes, that would interest me greatly as well…

      • Ah, yes, he did communicate about something and I took it to heart. He told me he didn’t like calling me and having me tell him I was busy or doing something else. He wanted me to spend more time with him. I remember, actually, that it was hard for me.

        I think the most important part of all of this was that I was in a certain mindset. I was not forcing myself to be independent, I was in that state. So, when he wanted to spend time with me, that actually repelled me. In order to act the way I did, I had to “enjoy” aloneness and “despise” any symptoms of dependence.

        I did try to answer his phone calls more and I did bend my own comfort zone to let him in more, but it didn’t feel good at first. My protective walls, though they hurt me, were my only source of comfort. I had spent a lifetime hating myself and had finally found someone who understood me – me. I was afraid to risk that relationship for another.

        In the end, the risk was more than worth it :)

  30. I woke up this morning longing for my boyfriend and wanting to text him that I miss him so much. I pushed the feeling away because I’m gonna see him tonight and I didn’t wanna seem pathetic. Then I read this and now I’m sending the text with lots of hearts and kisses because the fact he calls me crazy for loving him so much is just coz he still can’t believe anyone could.

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  9. [...] Why didn’t I read this 15 years ago? That’s what I want to know. This knowledge probably would have saved me from a lot of bad decisions and heartbreak. Now, I feel very passionately about this subject and hope to spread the word to the upcoming generations of girls. I hope that you take the time to read this outstanding, brutally candid article about how women are taught to view themselves and love. To see this article in its original form on The Good Men Project, click here. [...]

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