The Dark Side of Women’s Requests of Progressive Men

 Mark Greene asks, “Do some women who encourage men to be more emotional and engaged, end up losing respect for the men who do so?”

Late last night, I followed a series of tweets by GMP Editor Joanna Schroeder who was in a conversation about men and the expression of emotions.

At one point Schroeder said the following:

I’m having a hard time formulating all my issues here. It boggles my mind that we’ve been asking [men] to be more emotional and engaged, and when they become emotional and engaged we say, “That’s too much!” I mean, talk about expecting perfection. Life is growth and effort.

I went to sleep thinking about a question which haunts me on an ongoing basis. For all of us. Culturally. And that question is: Do some women who encourage men, as Joanna says, to “be more emotional and engaged” end up losing respect for the men who do so?

I admit it could take a decade or two to unpack all the implications of the phrase “be more emotional and engaged”.  This request by women to men covers a vast range of relational, emotional, and functional markers. It means very different things to different people. I take it to mean, at its base, that men are 1) being asked to increase emotional communication and 2) address basic issues of fairness in how gender roles in households are organized. If the stereotypical 1950’s dad worked his job and did little to help raise the kids or clean the house, the modern man is asked to be much more engaged, and in some cases to take over the home and child rearing while wives pursue their careers.

What percentage of women are actually asking some variation on this of their men? Is this request coming out of feminist quarters, or is it a function of the breakdown of gender silos, or what exactly? They’re good questions, but regardless of the answers, I think we can all agree the trend is out there.

So, if I ended my day thinking about the tweets Joanna sent, I ran smack into the other bookend this morning—a book review by Liz Mundy of the San Francisco Chronicle. She is reviewing a novel by British author Rachel Cusk titled Aftermath: On Marriage and Seperation.

Mundy writes:

Not long ago, in an online blog of the Wall Street Journal, a wife made a confession. A high-earning editor and the breadwinner in her family, she admitted that she resents her husband for being supportive and domestically hands-on. Far from being grateful that he makes her job and family life possible by taking on the role of primary caregiver to their son, she feels burdened and jealous. While some of her objections are fair – supporting a household is scary, as men have long known – others, she acknowledged, aren’t.

Her piece is a reminder that women, like men, can be emotionally retrograde even as they are progressive and ambitious; it’s not always men who have trouble adapting to female achievement and female earning.

The same dynamic is at work in “Aftermath,” Rachel Cusk’s bleak and rather bravely unsympathetic memoir of marital dissolution. Cusk, a British novelist, sketches a scenario whereby she maneuvered her husband into the role of househusband, then scorned him for occupying it. She is not sure whom to blame for this radical inconsistency: her feminism, her parents, her schooling, or simply whatever was in the water when she was growing up.

It got me thinking, maybe this whole gender role adjustment thing is a hell of a lot harder than we know. Because it’s not just about men taking on new roles and ways of being, its about women and men unpacking the very real and conflicted emotions the reality of this can create. Its fine for a woman to wish for a husband who will stay home with the kids a support her career. But what if that woman then wakes up one morning resenting her husband for it? Now imagine how he feels.

Is there some vast emotional and sexual landscape that exists in direct conflict with the modern women’s request for men to “be more emotional and engaged?” Do some women struggle with what Mundy calls the emotionally retrograde side; yearning for a more traditional man even as they seek an egalitarian marriage?

It’s a question that begs a larger conversation.

Mark Greene’s new book REMAKING MANHOOD–Available now on Kindle Reader for Windows, Macs, Android, iPhones and iPads

Remaking Manhood is a collection of Mark Greene’s most powerful articles on American culture, relationships, family and parenting. It is a timely and balanced look at the issues at the heart of the modern masculinity movement. Mark’s articles on masculinity and manhood have received over 100,000 FB shares and 10 million page views. Get the free Kindle Reader app for any device here. 

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“Every time you do this, you become less free. A rat in a cage. A dog on a chain. A prisoner.”

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And Then I See Him Laughing—A Father’s Message for the New Year

Touch Isolation: Insisting Boys Learn Independence Creates an Isolating Trap for Men

The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer

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The Last Late Show With My Father

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About Mark Greene

Good Men Project Executive Editor Mark Greene’s new book, REMAKING MANHOOD is a collection of Mark's most powerful articles on American culture, relationships, family and parenting. It is a timely and balanced look at the issues at the heart of the modern masculinity movement. Remaking Manhood is available on Amazon's free Kindle Reader app for all Android, Windows, and Apple devices.

Mark's articles on masculinity and manhood have received over 150,000 FB shares and five million page views. He writes and talks men's Issues at Salon, Shriver Report, Huffington Post, HLN, the BBC, and the New York Times. Mark and his wife, therapist Dr. Saliha Bava, live in New York City.

Comments

  1. In short I think yes that does happen. A bit of buyer’s remorse if you will. There is this idea that “if only they would break away from the traditional roles they would be so great and awesome and i would like it so much”. Until reality sets in and they realize they don’t like this “new man/woman” but you can hardly think it fair to put the genie back in the bottle can you?

    I think what’s happening is that people who:

    “I wish they would break from traditional roles and open themselves up.”

    are actually saying:

    “I wish they would become an amalgamation of the parts that I like from the old and new.”

    In other words they don’t want their partner to be all new and engaged or whatever to their partner’s own heart’s content. They want their partner to be new and different and engaged to their own heart’s content.

    Women that want guys to “open up” and then hating their new open self.
    Men that want women to “be strong” and then hating how strong they are.

    (And mind you this is not absolutely true in all cases. It’s not always a case of “I want them to change for the better.” followed by “I don’t like that they changed into.”)

    • What women -say- they want often doesn’t match up with what they -actually- want. But it’s not their fault; they’ve been programmed to lie to everyone, even themselves. That’s the gift of feminism.

      • Citations. Being an idiot who says women are liars won’t make it true (the women are liars part, not the part that you are being an idiot).

  2. I wonder if this is the right forum to discuss this topic. If this is a problem, it is a woman’s problem and men can do little to help solving it. Now sure, it affects men, but the only relevant aspect for men is the answer to the question: Will the woman I am romantically interested in lose respect for me, if I am more emotional and engaged? Depending on the answer man can adjust their relationship with this woman.

  3. These are interesting questions. Personally, I don’t want a “traditional” relationship in the sense of being emotionally and financially dependent on a man. I’ve never wanted that. At the same time, I don’t simply want to switch gender roles. I don’t want a man who acts like a stereotypical woman. I think male and female qualities can balance each other. At times I’m too emotional and my boyfriend can anchor me. At times he’s too closed off, and I can help him open up. We don’t need to be exactly alike. Sometimes I like hanging out with my guy friends because my female friends exhaust me. I get tired of the emotion and the drama that often seems to be a problem in female relationships.

    I would not want to support a stay-at-home husband because I want equality in my relationships and there is inherent inequality when one person makes the money and the other doesn’t. But that’s just me, others may work it out for themselves differently. I will say, I don’t think many girls grow up dreaming of someday being the breadwinner and supporting a stay-at-home dad, so it would take a lot of emotional adjustment.

    I also wonder how stay-at-home dads really feel about their breadwinner wives. Are they turned off by the idea that she is the financially dominant partner? Do they resent her? Are they more or less likely to cheat (and what about her?)

    I have a female friend who was the primary breadwinner in her relationship and she ended up having a midlife crisis very much like a classic male midlife crisis. She resented her husband’s dependence on her, she lost all her sexual attraction for him, she started acting way younger than her age in kind of an embarassing way, and eventually she had an affair. He forgave her!

    • Sarah , in every instance where a couple I knew that the Wife as the primary ‘breadwinner’, she ended up losing respect for her husband and ended up having an affair (usually with someone at work). My one friends wifewould com home and inform him that she was leaving on a 2 week vacation the NEXT DAY!(without him of course!). No one wishes to address this ‘incovenint truth.’ That seems to accompany this arrangment more often than occasionaly.

      • Its almost like these “typically male” behaviors are actually a result of the roles men have typically been put in, and NOT reflections of inherent properties of men.

        • That’s what I thought about my friend’s midlife crises. She behaved exactly like I’ve seen men do, including becoming obsessed with sex and trying to recapture her youth. After it crashed and burned, she was remorseful and begged forgiveness. She was terrified her husband would get primary custody of their kids.

  4. The moral godless says:

    Yes, women asking their men to be more emotionally open is a test. Don’t fall for it, she very likely will lose respect for you. I, and many other men, have all experienced this.

    My last girlfriend, who had a master’s degree in women’s studies, begged me for months to open up emotionally. When I did, she told me it made me less sexually attractive to her because “You’re a man, and you’re supposed to be stoic.”

    Women want men to be strong. Even if they do everything in their power to weaken us, and convince us otherwise. They only respect and desire power.

    • Sorry, but I don’t need strength from a man because I am strong. Do I want an equal partner? Sure. Do I want someone who isn’t emotionally cold? YUP. I kind of prefer someone with human qualities, and I’m sorry if asking men to act “human” is considered wrong. And if men feel weakened by women, sounds like its a personal problem to me.

    • There are words for your ex which Aussies say starting with a C (non-gendered variant).

  5. Sigh.
    Even if I do PUA I don’t really believe in their evo psych rationale.
    Stop proving them right, dammit!!!

    • Every stereotype is built on a little bit of truth. Women are emotional creatures (so are men!) Men can be cold and emotionless (and so can women!) Just because some women fit the PUA BS doesn’t mean PUA is okay or evo psych is correct.

      • Some women? Perhaps. But it seems that this is something that is happening pretty often.
        I am very sceptical to evo psych, and I believe that PUA works but for different reasons than what the gurus are saying.

        I think women have their own sort of objectification. I often think that women actually don’t want a human being as a partner, she wants a toy. Let’s take someone that want’s someone “adventurous”. She hears that some guy scuba dives or parachutes. She decides that this man fit the criteria of adventurous. Now the guy, wheter he knows it or not, is this arbitrary character trait. And when she realises that he is human and *gasp* complex. She gets afraid, like, “this isn’t what I ordered”. And cuts and runs.
        Guys seem to be better than women in just accepting people as they are. I think it’s because we have to approach. We have to be positive and find things that are attractive so that we can approach as many people as possible. That often means that we flesh humans out more.

  6. Men, don’t even think about it.

    “What a woman says, what a woman does, and what a woman says she does are three different things” Margaret Meade

    Women say they want XYZ type of man. DON’T BELIEVE IT! Look at the men she ACTUALLY choose. Therein lies the real truth of the matter.

    Many women want to cling to the elements of the old patriarchal order that benefit them, such as men taking care of and supporting them. However, they do not wish to apply those same elements to themselves. When they need to support a man, they become resentful……How many men do you know resent supporting a woman?

    Most women today are still steeped in hypergamy. They will deny it.

    But just look at sarah’s comment. First she talks about not wanting a traditional relationship as it creates dependency by the woman. OK. I accept this. It is wise. But then she speaks of equality. However, she also would not support a stay at home husband….Equality for whom?

    I know women (some my clients) who earn over $200,000 but REFUSE to date or even talk to a man who makes less. They do not even need his income! Why? They are so steeped in hypergamy it is intoxicating.

    • Ever hear of the hedonic adaptation? It’s a human trait, seen in both men and women, and explains perfectly why a high earner would choose only to pair with another high earner. Just because $200k sounds like a lot to you (and me) doesn’t mean that she sees it as a lot. While I can’t relate to earning that much and probably wouldn’t consider another person’s income as a deciding factor on whether or not they’re dateable (as long as they can support themselves), I think it’s pragmatic to consider lifestyle and other aspects of a person before considering them a good mate.

    • I’m with you on this one Jules. Recently ‘took the bait’ and ‘opened up’ to the Women in my life. Biggest mistake of my life! Months later and still feeling the repercussions! Guys, if you need to open up, find a therapist or phycologist (preferably a male) and keep it between the 2 of you.

    • What’s attractive about having to support someone who chooses not to work? I don’t understand why men would put up with it either. I’m not talking about supporting someone because they are temporarily unemployed, or if your spouse becomes disabled, or even temporarily while children are young. But, no, I’m not interested in supporting someone’s lifestyle because they don’t like having a job. There would have to be a huge upside for me in the arrangement but I don’t see what that would be, actually. I wouldn’t want a man to support me either. My mother was a SAHM, totally browbeaten by my father who reminded us at every opportunity that we owed everything to him. That turned me off of the traditional wife role permanently.

      • Ahh, the difference is between a stay at home husband, and a stay at home father?

        • The issue is, why should I work myself to death to financially support someone who isn’t contributing financially to our relationship? I can understand making a mutual decision for one parent to stay home with young children, and in some situations it may make sense for that person to be the dad, e.g. If mom earns more money, but to just support a stay-at-home partner when it isn’t necessary for the children’s wellbeing – no. I wouldn’t do that. I don’t understand why a man would do that either. But then, I don’t really understand wanting to be a stay-at-home parent either. My sister told me that after awhile, she couldn’t wait to go back to work, she felt like her brain was turning to mush and she was losing the ability to talk to adults. Luckily my brother-in-law’s parents lived nearby and were willing to babysit, also my sister and her husband had jobs with flexible work schedules, so they both could work full time and the children never had to go to day care. So they were fortunate.

      • @Sarah:
        What’s attractive about having to support someone who chooses not to work?

        If it’s someone who chooses not to work just because s/he don’t like having a job, not very much about it is attractive, no.
        But that’s not the issue here.

        The blogger writes:
        A high-earning editor and the breadwinner in her family, she admitted that she resents her husband for being supportive and domestically hands-on. Far from being grateful that he makes her job and family life possible by taking on the role of primary caregiver to their son, she feels burdened and jealous.

        The issue is about the respect and support of a result of a mutual decision for one person to stay at home for the benefit of the whole family.

        • @FlyingKal,

          “…….she feels burden and jealous.”

          God forbid SOME women must feel a little discomfort in life. There a tons of poor, single moms in America, often of minority races, who would love to have man supporting them in any capacity (be it help with thekids, domestically, financial etc). But we have these well-educated entitled women who just think having to carry a little weight is so horrid.

          What is important here is the family unit. Not the self-centered narcissistic wants of one person.

          And women wonder why men will not “commit?”

    • Men become resentful when they have to take care of their ill wives and leave them much more than women leave ill husbands.

      Most women are not steeped in (financial) “hypergamy”. You deny the truth because that’s convenient for you. Most men are still “hypergamic”. though, when it comes to their partners’ beauty and youth. And women are extremely “hypergamic” when it comes to their partner’s abilities and confidence.

  7. This makes me sad.

    Yes, I’m sure some women do this. Some women prefer their man to be strong and stoic. Some women like it when they don’t have to worry about how their partner is feeling. Some women don’t understand what they really want, and don’t appreciate what they really have, so they pressure their partner to be the person they think they want. It’s deeply unjust and unfair when a woman pressures their partner to open up, and then judges him for what she sees.

    But it’s equally unjust to say “Women may say they want their guy to be more emotional, but WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN IS they all want a strong stoic type.” Because that’s the biggest load of bullshit I’ve heard today. Some women know what they’re doing and know what they want.

    For my part, I know I need a guy who will talk to me, being open with what he’s thinking and feeling, and the [i]reason[/i] I need this is because my dad was both unreadable and volatile, like a minefield. So when I can’t read a man, I feel unsafe and insecure. And I cannot be that person’s girlfriend. And I’ve been around the block enough times to know what I need, and to mean what I say.

    Other woman, with different histories, will need different things in a partner, and it’s their responsibility to know what they need. And when they do something like this article suggests, it is in fact deeply unjust and unfair to their partner. I’m honestly a little disgusted that women do this, and I …. i guess I”m glad this article is calling them out? But I’m pretty fuckin disgusted that people think all women do that.

    • The moral godless says:

      For what it’s worth if I dated a woman who explained her perspective as honestly as you, I would trust her enough to open up.

      The experience that I had with multiple women was a regular “nagging” on her part for me to be more open to emotional talk, and then once I did there was a greater or a lesser disconnect on her part. I told the most egregious story above, already.

  8. Also, well … being a progressive man does not mean that you have to do whatever the women around you want. It just means you respect and consider the things she says. If you’re really uncomfortable opening up and being more emotionally engaged, then you don’t have to do that; and if she’s pressuring you to do something you dislike that much, what she’s really saying is “I’d like you better if you were a different person.” So — respect the fact that she wants that; but consider the fact that you are not required to date her.

    • Amen Rowan! I concur!

      I would also add that one of the difficulties in this discussion about equality in this day and age is that the discussion always seems to be a zero sum game in which one party has “power” while the other party does not. I want to point out that this is neither feminism nor is it revolutionary. Renegotiating relationships doesn’t just mean taking the system (working husband and stay at home wife) and just switching the characters, and I believe that some men and some women do not understand that. The conversation should really be about equal value: make each person in the relationship feel valued and part of a team. Our relationships and marriages shouldn’t be dictatorships. It’s not less of a dictatorship just because a woman is “running the house” so to speak. That’s called gender stereotyping. Women are not inherently emotional and men are not inherently emotionless.

      This article raises absolutely fundamental questions, and to the commenter who said this shouldn’t be discussed here because it’s for women to deal with I strongly disagree and am frankly appalled. It is exactly that attitude that encourages the battle of the sexes and results in both sides losing out because instead of working together for mutual benefit it becomes a competition about who can take power the most. It turns marriages and relationships into battlefields.

      In sum traditional relationships suck not because of the role men play but HOW power is used for manipulation and control. That factor of power and control doesn’t necessarily change because a woman takes the man’s place. This factor is something that BOTH men and women need to negotiate if they want honest conversation and honest relationships based on a less skewed gender balance.

      • Joe Cardillo says:

        IF they want honest conversation, is the key. This touches on one of the myth/reality issues regarding women, do they get to say one thing (“I want a progressive and emotionally engaged man”) and do another (look for and/or reward men who are not). Like some of the men responding to this post I’ve been in that same situation, and understandably that is frustrating for us because it’s an unsolvable puzzle. Which speaks to Rowan’s point. Someone who’s talking points don’t match their actions isn’t a healthy partner in general, unless they are willing to admit / examine / challenge their own assumptions.

    • @Rowan:
      Also, well … being a progressive man does not mean that you have to do whatever the women around you want. It just means you respect and consider the things she says. If you’re really uncomfortable opening up and being more emotionally engaged, then you don’t have to do that;

      I think that me being comfortable with it or not, has less to do with it than her reactions to me actually complying to her (longstanding) requests.

  9. I’m going to ask a potentially dangerous question.

    Do examples like this, in any shape or form, make it reasonable for us to dare and contradict the societal narrative about men and women and revisit questions like:

    1) Is gender essential?
    …and…
    2) Does gender then actually indiciate how men and women will be happiest in relationship with one another? Like, are men supposed to provide for women, for example. Is that why women would refuse to date men who make less than they do?

    • I think:
      1) Gender is essential because it’s how we define ourselves. Gender roles in a culture aren’t really that essential.
      2) Do you mean gender roles? Gender is how we define ourselves. Gender roles are the attributes and activities that society assigns to a gender. Our definitions of gender roles are highly individual because they’re formed primarily by our families and communities. So some women may have little respect for men who stay at home, while other women might find the idea really titillating or just completely normal. It’s kind of hard to say that all or most women will react any one way.

    • Clearly these women desire a more traditional man in some part of their subconscious. The question is why? It is tempting to say it is an “essential” quality, however I believe it is something that was essentiall taught to them; not as an actual lesson, but from the thousands of examples, subtle indications, and role models we encounter in our daily lives. Socially transmitted messages are not told to you, they are demonstrated by everything from jokes, pattern of speech, the plots of movies, to how your parents behave.

      These women lost respect for their husbands. However respect is certainly a socially constructed concept. Who deserves respect is decided by society. Society might send mixed messages, but those messages are clear. It’s quite possible for your conscious mind to pick up one message, and your subconscious mind to pick up one or several messages. Note that the subconscious mind responds mainly to the volume and repetition of those messages.

      Certainly the sex drive has a evolutionary origin. However I believe the specifics of your sexuality are also socially constructed, and it should be fairly obvious that a sexy man is one who is strong and stoic with boundless confidence. A male who communicates emotions and reveals insecurities isn’t going to fit the bill. A woman might figure that emotional connection is important, and it is, but her subconscious might have other ideas, and her subconscious isn’t afraid of total contradictions.

      Yes in theory if the stereotypes about gender were true we would be better off turning back the clock. However the argument is that gender roles are socially constructed. It’s not in our blood, or at least very little of it is. However it is burned deeply into our brains.

    • I think that the article plays on stereotypes much too much to be a good conversation point.

      1) Gender is a deep, unshakable part of how we view ourselves, but it’s only one facet of ourselves, and it’s not very well defined either.

      2) I think the way people approach relationships in particular has less to do with their gender, and more to do with their past relationships. Particularly the relationship their parents had for each other, the relationship each person had with their own parents, and their first boyfriend or girlfriend.

      Saying “Does gender then actually indiciate how men and women will be happiest in relationship with one another?” comes close to asking “Is it true that all men want the same things in a relationship?” It’s clearly not true.

  10. The other side of the coin is that I’m noticing more young men who won’t “settle” for stay-at-home wives anymore. It’s have a career and provide your financial portion or I’m not interested.

    • Yes! I will not register a woman whose parents pay for their car/apartment either. It just shows what they will eventually expect from you.

  11. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    We’re still probably much more biological than socially determined,like it or not. That doesn’t stop some of us from being progressive, of course. But we tend to think you can mainly change the macro-level, only. I’d love to see a Scandanavian-type businss and government arrangement here, for example. I don’t think sociobiology implies intense capitalism at all. That level can be controlled. It’s when we try to control culture we get into trouble. Apparently feminism in Scandanavia fostered violence in women (so they’re not having as good luck with culture.)

    I talk a lot, so no-one has accused me of not being open. (They probably actually could, though– but many confuse communication with emotion. I also philandered a bit in past years, however, so a cynic could say I put pressure on the my primary partner to stay with me that way (bad boy.)

  12. Yup, learned this one the hard way.
    I’ve discovered that a somewhat dishonest middle ground works best.
    Reveal enough of yourself to reassure her that you have a healthy emotional interior life but never enough to allow her to see your vulnerabilities.
    Seems to be working out well so far.
    Unfortunately we are slaves to our biology and regardless of what she thinks or says she wants, her makeup compels her to seek strong and stoic genetic donors.
    Forgive the unfashionable determinism……..

  13. Isn’t it scary that quite a few guys have commented that opening up was a big mistake and it’s even caused issues months down the track? I’m really not sure I want to open up fully to a partner now….

    • Not all of us regret opening up. I have slowly taught myself how to speak honestly with my partner, and doing so has had positive impacts through all aspects of my life.

      That’s not to say that it’s a good idea for everyone – speaking as someone who has been emotionally abused, it’s DEFINITELY not a good idea in every context -, but the lesson here should not be that opening up is an impossible trap.

      • I would say speaking honestly and opening up emotionally are two different things. The former, in her mind, will show you are still stoic and that these words may possibly be just thoughts. The latter forces and empathy reaction that possibly reveals weakness.

    • Hey Archy in a word; DON”T

    • ” Isn’t it scary that quite a few guys have commented that opening up was a big mistake and it’s even caused issues months down the track? I’m really not sure I want to open up fully to a partner now…

      oh you can open up, but remember to accompain your emotions with anger, not toward her but to the issue. And be sure that the emotions around the issue are temporary. Thats my experience.

      About the topic, yes I agree, I’ve seen far to many cases of this. I think maybe because we men have the entire social narrative to support the traditional lifestyle. Women dont. So they feel culturally lost.
      Another possibility is when a man take the traditional role of a woman, she dont feel safe. And for a woman in general safety is paramount.

      Since I also work in nightclubs and parties, I see lot of this stuff going on, good girls morphing into sluts under your eyes, and guys becoming perv. I speak to lot of guys and gals that are frustrated with the other gender. So its a general problem, not only one who belongs to a specific sex. I feel that nobody is to blame, IMO into the right enviroment we adapt, and in certain places and situations the so called dark side emerge more easely. And when it does, it only create mess. Anyways not all girls turn into promiscuety and not all guys become pervs. But it happens.

      • @The Blurpo..

        “Another possibility is when a man take the traditional role of a woman, she dont feel safe. And for a woman in general safety is paramount.”

        Nonsense!! What about all the single moms out here who are going out everyday and making shit happen? Who has their back? They do!

        The women who focus on feeling safe (read need financial safety net) are the ones who marry for money, not love. I know women who make over $200,000 and still need to “feel safe.” Please.

        • ” Nonsense!! What about all the single moms out here who are going out everyday and making shit happen? Who has their back? They do! ”

          what do u mean with : making shit happens?

          ” The women who focus on feeling safe (read need financial safety net) are the ones who marry for money, not love. I know women who make over $200,000 and still need to “feel safe.” Please.”

          Im not talking about financial safety.

      • You can be a good person and a prosmicuous one at the same time. Yes, even women. “Sluts” can be good girls.

  14. Not buying it says:

    Word to the wise :
    As a human being (male or female) but specially if you are a male you should never ever share certain inner feelings & thoughts that might be used against you later on, the majority of the men here would understand the simple fact most men from the time when we were kids at one time or the other we have been told not to cry & to take responsibility for ourselves & never blame somebody who stabbed you in the back specially if you turn around & gave your back to them, that fact will neverever change, its about survival.

  15. I have a question for the guys here, when you talk about women being turned off when you open ip, whst exactly have you told her or talked about that was the problem? I’m kind of curious about that. I’ve dated guys who revealed painful things about their past, or fears they have etc., and I haven’t lost respect for them. I’ve also had discussions that went kind of badly when my boyfriend revealed things that felt hurtful toward me, like his lingering feelings about past girlfriends or serious doubts about our relationship. In those cases, I was upset about the content, not the fact that he opened up. But then I’m
    not one of those women who nags men to talk about their feelings. I’m a little closed off myself.

    • I have talked quite a lot about how I grew up, and the role I played or was given in that society. How I was looked upon by my parents, family, school and friends. How those things have shaped me, and still make me react in a lot of situations today. How can be very self-conscious and not very self-confident in certain situations, feel like “failure”.
      Not always be the “man” (as in strong, stoic, resourceful, etc) that maybe she expects me to be.

  16. Not buying it says:

    Hmm, Progressive men & I assume means men who believe that they have so called male privilege? ?!!!

    So men who don’t open up & believe in something called male Privilege are not progressive by default accordingly.

  17. Not buying it says:

    What does opening up means exactly ??

    does it mean spell out everything you think about always & share it with her & what does constitute the innermost self that all of us as human beings have that you wouldn’t want to share it with anyone , anyway.

  18. IME, when a woman has said to me that I need to be more open, emotional and engaged, it doesn’t mean that she want me to talk about my feelings. It has usually meant that I should be better at listening to what she says.

  19. A nail has been hit here, if not quite squarely on the head.

    I’ve been in more than one relationship where this has happened and have seen it happen to others. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a case of anyone being tested, or being set up to be knocked down. I think it’s simple hypocrisy, like the politician who extols the virtues of state schools while educating his kids privately.

    Most women believe that, *in general*, men should be less aggressive, more caring, more emotionally available. They just don’t always want *their specific man* to have those qualities. A survey a few years ago, for example, found that even feminists – who presumably all want equal pay for women – wanted a partner who earned more than they did. (If every woman gets a man who earns more than she does, there *has* to be a pay gap!)

    I’ll be dealing with this on my blog in the future.

    • Um, has it occured to you at all that earning less than the average man incentivises women to want a partner whop earns more? Even if they believe in wage parity they may find that in their current circumstances mean that marrying someone who earns the same amount disadvantages them.

      If women often earned the same amount or more than men they knew, the findings may have been different.

      • Of course it’s occurred to me, and it’s occurred to the people who carry out the research. Further studies have found that the preferences were the same – if not more pronounced – among professional women who earned more than the average man.

        “Townsend (1989) found that occupationally successful women medical students showed the same preferences as other women for mates with financial resources. He concluded that ‘increasing socioeconomic status (SES) of women does not eliminate and may not even reduce traditional sex differences in mate selection criteria and marital goals'”…

        Bruce Ellis: “Women’s sexual tastes become more, rather than less, discriminatory as their wealth, power and social status increase.”

        • The thing is, having a lot of money’s viewed as a good thing by most people. Ifnyou have a choice between having more money or having less money you will probably choose more money, all else being equal.

          It isn’t surprising that women would look for men who will double the household income. If a medical student knows she can expect to make $200k a year, well, $400k a year sounds pretty damn nice.

          What is surprising is that more men don’t make the same calculation and look for high wage earning women.

          • Sarah, perhaps it’s surprising to men that high-achieving women would choose to stay single because she can’t find a higher-achieving mate because it affirms the cynical view of women that they don’t find a man special for who he is, and don’t value male companionship per se. Instead, only a man’s instrumental value matters: what he can do for her. This, after decades of being told that women are the more-caring, more-nurturing gender?

  20. “To have your cake and eat it too” is an phrase from when high society preferred cakes that were works of art just as much as food. By definition, to actually eat your cake would mean destroying it’s visual beauty. Thus in this metaphor, men are cakes. A woman would gladly admire his beauty, his sexiness, confidence, and sheer manliness. However after becoming paired off with a particular cake/man she wants to taste and open him/it up. Doing so she get’s to be very, very intimate with the core of the cake/man, but she quickly destroys the external beauty. She might even become disgusted with the mess of cake and frosting smeared in front of her. Unless she finds the taste delicious, she will likely reject what’s left in front of her and start looking at the remaining cakes. (Of course our society unfairly shames women who taste too many different me or too many cakes.)

    Of course in reality women don’t exactly consume men (usually) but the process does involve cutting through layers of stoicism/frosting. Unlike a cake, this process can leave a man with a greater sense of integrity and well being. While the success/failure of opening up depends on the content of a man, it also depends on the content of the woman. She may simply be unprepared to deal with the inward ugliness of both herself AND another person. Though often she may have simply have expected to find something else in there, prince charming perhaps? Some women seem to honestly believe that underneath an asshole is a decent guy. The reverse is more common. Hollywood doesn’t help with that at all. Though in general society gives mixed messages on whether or not you should love someone for who they are. It’s an ideal counter-balanced by a lot of very uniform examples of the ideal lover.

    It’s tempting to think this is all evolution and biology controlling women’s behavior. However we have known since Freud that earlier experiences can have a massive influence on your subconscious. Society communicates to us not with words or lessons, but with a massive plethora of examples and implications. Everybody acts like X is true, and almost all of the examples show that X is true. Later in life a small group of activists give some very logical reasons why X is actually false, however the subconscious doesn’t listen to logic it does however control our feelings.

  21. John Anderson says:

    I remember women having this discussion even 20 years ago, but it was I’m a feminist, but I like it when guys give up their seats on a bus, that whole chivalry is dead thing. From a 45 year old guy, who’s made plenty of mistakes and has spoken with other men, women just like guys will say something because they feel that they’re supposed to. If you like having her around, always err on the side of caution.

    Woe is the man whose girlfriend told him you don’t have to get me anything for Valentine0s Day and took her at her word. The boyfriend of a woman I know actually did this. It turned a $100 gift into a $1,000 in gifts. She went ballistic and wondered why he didn’t know what she really wanted. I myself, when I was 20 went into one of the worst neighborhoods in the city and waited outside a lady’s apartment because she told me to drop by anytime and I believed it. What she meant was you’re welcome, but give me a heads up so I can pick the place up. I didn’t care whether her house was messy, but she did. I couldn’t even convince her to let me in because a guy nicknamed killer who had a teardrop tattooed on his face whenever a gang associate was killed lived three doors over and another guy, Godfather, known to carry a gun lived on the next block.

    Women will tell you things because they think it’s what they should say. Women may also say they think everyone should be equal, but they (just like everybody else) want to feel special.

    • @John Anderson

      Women must be placed on a pedestal and made to feel special, at all times.

      Human nature changes very very slowly over time.

      Just the way it is Bro.

      • Jules–I wouldn’t say placed on a pedestal, but yes to being made to feel special. Who doesn’t want to feel special to their partner? Who wants to feel interchangeable?

  22. I think that this is one manifestation of a larger shift that is taking place in our lifetime, that of shifting gender roles and expectations, which is itself part of a larger cultural and societal shift driven in large part by economics, global markets, the work place, etc. The old trope is that “men are sexual, women are emotional” but that is so limiting and so wrong for most people. HUMANS are both sexual and emotional and walling off either part of that has negative consequences. We’ve realized this and are taking steps towards more freedom to be this and more for both men and women. Many men want women to be more sexual, to embrace their sexuality, lose the shame, and be able to express their desires more freely. Many women want men to be able to access and express their emotions, lose the shame, and be able to experience all of their emotional range. However, we’re not there yet and there are obstacles, and backsliding, and knee-jerk reactions to the discomfort that change often brings…”things gotta worse before they get better”, as some say. So we have some backlash against sexual women and against emotional men in the short term, but the overall trend is towards a more healthy holistic way of being and living, or at least that’s how I see it, and what I hope for.

  23. I’m always Fascinated how easy it is to lose womens respect.
    maybe it is because we as men have a more complex way of seeing respect because of the physical aspect of our gender role. We Settle disputes so to speak and you can earn respect as well. This might make us less worried about it. we have sett ways of earn it back.
    Another thing we men do well is being varied. One is good at this another at that. Don’t know about you, but when I have been the only man in a study group I have feelt extreme frustration because everyone else is willing to make the project suffer because nobody wan’t to have a sett leader.

  24. Quadruple A says:

    I’d like to call into a question a fundamental assumptions in this article. The assumption is that women are more emotionally expressive than men, but that is only half of the story. While women are the emotionally expressive ones men are expected to be their emotionally nurturing counterpart.

    Women have always had the role of being emotionally expressive but men have had the role of being the strong and stoic rock to cry on. Men are expected to be the ones who can bring order to a woman’s emotional chaos by tactfully guiding her to reflect on why she feels as she feels. Women are the emotionally expressive ones but men are the emotional nurturers.

    Even today, despite all the media stereotypes of the emotionally stupid male figure. The man is still regarded and expected to be the wise patriarch who can detach himself from circumstances to see the bigger picture.

    • You just triggered a thought.

      There have been a few posts around here (and of course around the net) about how “men now feel things that have been plaguing women for ages” and whatnot. Usually such posts will eventually ask something to the effect of could this shift be giving men a taste of the treatment they have been heaping on women. You can see this in just about any post on male body image and its relative objectification of the male body by women.

      But anyway. I wonder if this:

      Women have always had the role of being emotionally expressive but men have had the role of being the strong and stoic rock to cry on. Men are expected to be the ones who can bring order to a woman’s emotional chaos by tactfully guiding her to reflect on why she feels as she feels. Women are the emotionally expressive ones but men are the emotional nurturers.

      could be a sign of some similar, “One side has been in this situation for so long now the other side is in it and it appears they don’t like it.” Could it be that at least some women don’t want to be the strong and stoic rock to cry on?

      • My wife essentially said this to me during my grieving period when my mother died. It wasn’t said out of meaness and was totally honest and she was just expressing a vulnerability.

        She said (something like) “I’m so tired of being the strong one, when I’m sad and need to cry too” she said this in a plaintive voice as she broke into tears.

        I don’t begrudge her for saying it, and don’t think any worse of her. However, my mind can’t stop thinking about how dastardly I would appear to be if I said something similar during her grieving period for a parent.

        • Agreed on such expressions not being based on malicous intent.

          I just brought this up because I noticed there seems to be some mirror image of what happens when “one side feels something that the other side has felt for a long time”.

          I wouldn’t say that your wife is wrong for feeling that way or that thinking that way makes her a terrible person.

          But as I said with the mirror image thing.


          However, my mind can’t stop thinking about how dastardly I would appear to be if I said something similar during her grieving period for a parent.

          If this were reversed, as in men feeling something women have felt for a long time, that would be one of the very first things to be pointed out even if it weren’t being used as a bludgeon against men (although sometimes it is).

        • “She said (something like) “I’m so tired of being the strong one, when I’m sad and need to cry too” she said this in a plaintive voice as she broke into tears.

          I don’t begrudge her for saying it, and don’t think any worse of her. However, my mind can’t stop thinking about how dastardly I would appear to be if I said something similar during her grieving period for a parent.”
          Does she think she has to be stoic constantly for you?

      • Quadruple A says:

        I think this is true. Maybe it’s to do with the feeling that a solid rock isn’t feminine. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. It’s an assumption. There are also other more mutualistic ways of being supportive to one another that don’t depend on the whole “rock” solid approach to dealing with emotion.

  25. I have one thought here while reading these comments which is, it’s rarely a good idea to simply open up and overwhelm one’s partner with all of your innermost thoughts and feelings. Even women shouldn’t do that. Your partner is not your therapist. Even if they ask you to open up, you need to titrate what you are saying and gauge the other person’s reactions.

    Remember Tom’s article from awhile back about the man who thought his wife’s breasts were “ruined” and he was going to strip clubs and fantasizing about having an affair with a teenager? Tom used this as his opening example of how we don’t let men be open about their emotional needs. There was a long comment thread about the “ruined breasts” idea and I don’t want to revisit that, but I remember really wondering at the time what Tom was getting at. Was he saying that in an ideal world, this man should be able to tell his wife his feelings and she would be okay withnhow he felt? But how could that possibly be? His feelings toward her were very negative, and hurtful, and she would rightly be shocked and devastated to know what was going on in his mind. I would argue there are oly 2 options there: either he needs to get a divorce (because the relationship cannot be saved) or he needs to keep those feelings to himself, forever. We can be open-minded and non-judgmental about his feelings, and say that his feelings aren’t “wrong” and he really can’t help how he feels. Which is true. But revealing those feelings to his wife would cause irreparable harm to her and to their relationship.

    Sometimes total openness and radical honesty are not virtues. When women tell me to “open up” I think we often mean, “Talk to me more. Talk about important issues, instead of sports. Tell me if you are happy or sad so I don’t have to guess. Act like you are enjoying yourself. Smile at me.” We don’t necessarily mean “dump all your innermost thoughts and feelings on me including the ugly ones and things that may hurt me.”

    maybe women are better at this because we talk more about our feelings so we have learned to always be aware of what we are saying, and I would argue most women actually filter what they are saying a great deal, based on the person they are talking to, and the context. Maybe men are habitually stopped up emotionally so when the open up, it all comes pouring out and is overwhelming.

    • @Sarah:
      Sometimes total openness and radical honesty are not virtues. When women tell me to “open up” I think we often mean, “Talk to me more. Talk about important issues, instead of sports. Tell me if you are happy or sad so I don’t have to guess. Act like you are enjoying yourself. Smile at me.” We don’t necessarily mean “dump all your innermost thoughts and feelings on me including the ugly ones and things that may hurt me.”

      Thanks. :-)

    • I should clarify that I don’t mean to say that you should never share any feelings with your partner or seek their support in hard times. Of course you should. If your partner won’t be supportive, that’s a problem with them. But when someone says “open up” they may not actually be able to handle absolutely everything you say. They may have an emotional reaction. Professional therapists have a lot of training to deal with their own reactions to their clients, but ordinary people don’t. It can be unpredictable. It can strain the relationship.

    • You cant just bring up an old example (which I cant seem to find =T )and then not “want to get into it”. You say either divorce or forever bear it in silence? You are advocating not communicating just to preserve the lady’s feelings, since it would cause irreparable harm to the relationship? Going to strip clubs, the look disgust on his face when she takes her shirt off is causing all kinds of harm to the relationship.

      I disagree that informing the wife of his feelings is “radical honesty”, it is trying to make the relationship work. A relationship is multifaceted, it is entirely possible to still love his wife, but not be attracted to her physically. In the day and age of plastic surgery, push up bras, and blindfolds; there is plenty that can be done to work around a dislike for a certain body part. The key is to discuss and work on it, not avoid the issue.

      What you describe as “opening up” is all well and good, but for most guys, it is forced, as a bulk of “talking” a lot of women do, is analysis of what someone said or did, which most men disregard, since it’s the words or actions pass that matter to us and further analysis is deemed a waste of time. When you say open up, it usually translates to, “talk about something substantial”, which most guys are happy to do and is such a relief to get it out.

      Men are not emotionally backed up, it’s that society doesnt want to hear about it and we get shut down all the time and so we box everything up, a box you ask us to “open up”.

      It comes down to words having a different meanings for different people, as with most things, details are important. If you want just more discussion and more talk, ask for it specifically or better yet, to not put him on the spot and cause him to overthink it. Conversation should feel natural, not forced. Try and ask an open ended question:
      “You look happy/sad, something happen today?”
      “What do you think about that movie?”
      “Did you know my father was a engineer for Ferrari?”

      Most guys just need a starting point to feel like it is ok to talk and that people want to hear what they have to say.

      What usually happens is that a couple dates, girl feels like she is having to work too hard to get the guy to open up, guy thinks he is being gentlemanly. They continue to date with the girl bearing with it until she cant stand it anymore and asks the guy to “open up”; guy feels blindsided and tries to change. It is too deep for girl and “obvious” (to her) that it is not what she wanted, enter tension and arguments.

      Dont be that couple.

      • if my body parts ever disgust my partner so much that he has to wear a blindfold, our relationship is OVER. Jeez. I assume you are being facetious.

        • I agree, Sarah. If a partner ever called my body ruined or was not attracted/disgusted by me, the sex part is done. Over. I’m getting it elsewhere.

          • John Anderson says:

            “If a partner ever called my body ruined or was not attracted/disgusted by me, the sex part is done. Over. I’m getting it elsewhere.”

            Just wondering does that mean that the boyfriend / girlfriend relationship is still in effect or does that mean that he is now just a friend? Would you consider yourselves non-monogamous partners or simply friend?

            • Completely situation dependent, John. Likely, I’d just break it off. But, in that situation, the couple was married for a long time and with kids, which makes things a lot more difficult. If I didn’t want to put the kids through that, I’d just look for things on the side or masturbate and make it into a sexless marriage. This isn’t to punish the husband, but a lot of my sexual desire centers around be wanted and being made to feel beautiful. Once that’s gone, so is the passion. I find out that my husband went around and said that a part of my body is ruined? How would I be able to feel comfortable getting naked around him again? How would I be able to concentrate on and enjoy the sex when I’m wondering what part of me he’ll tell his friend is ruined next? There’s just no way.

        • ” I agree, Sarah. If a partner ever called my body ruined or was not attracted/disgusted by me, the sex part is done. Over. I’m getting it elsewhere.”

          I agree on that, if my woman cant stand looking at me without throwing up….the most sane thing to do is to stop. And I mean right now!

        • You’re spot on with this one, Sarah.

        • John Anderson says:

          @ Sarah

          First, saying your partner’s body was ruined would be a very cruel thing to do. Many commenters have brought that up. I have to think that it’s a legitimate concern. I can’t fathom why a guy would do that. If he wasn’t happy, why wouldn’t he just get out? Did he just not have the courage to break off the relationship? Is he trying to bully her into plastic surgery? Did he already believe that the relationship was over and wanted to hurt her over perceived injustices towards him? The only thing that makes sense is that the relationship turned bad a long time ago or he has health concerns for her and doesn’t know how to express them constructively. Maybe he thought she wouldn’t do it for herself, but would take care of herself to keep him.

          If it wasn’t a stupid way to bring up or deal with serious health concerns like with a dangerously overweight partner who’s a borderline diabetic, you’re right the relationship is over.

    • Sort of building off your point, I think that with some women, when they ask a man to open up, they already have an idea of what kinds of things will be revealed. (I.e., “I suspect he is really upset about how his mother speaks to him, so when he opens up, that’s what I expect to hear him say.”)

      And then when he reveals MORE than she expects, or something much different than she expects, she might balk, withdraw, or shut him down.

      Applying that to the SAHD/working mom model, she may have certain expectations for how things will happen and evolve when they take on these roles, and be caught off guard when they evolve differently – when she starts feeling the burden of providing for the family, or when he starts getting a little burned out on being the at-home parent.

      Some people can roll with it when their expectations are displaced by reality. Some people fall back on the old paradigms that don’t fit the one they’re trying to create, simply because those paradigms are comfortable, predictable and easier to navigate than uncharted waters of open emotion or gender role reversal.

      I have a stay-at-home husband right now (he’s a contractor and is in between gigs) and even though we’ve done this a few times now, there are still moments when it’s weird or even uncomfortable. For example, we have a joint account for bills and such but keep our own accounts from which we pay for our own gas, dining and discretionary stuff. When he’s employed and we go out to lunch together, he picks up the tab for both of us – that’s just the way it’s always been with us (stemming from days when he worked full-time while I was part-time and had very little of my own cash).
      But when he’s unemployed, he’ll ask me to pay for things with my own account that he usually pays for, like the lunch check. I don’t mind it at all (I wouldn’t be going out for lunch if I couldn’t afford to pay the whole bill) but sometimes it does feel awkward. During one unfortunately long period of unemployment I took him shopping for new clothes, and paid for them with my own money, and it did feel a little weird. Not like, unpleasant I-don’t-want-this-to-happen weird, just different from the paradigm I was accustomed to. It didn’t cause any tension between us, but I could see how in some relationships it could be a problem.

      • As a man I’ve had others pay for me for some stuff, especially when I was more sick and had no income of my own. It felt absolutely dehumanizing, I felt like a failure and felt so judged to be a loser for not being independent. But I think that pressure is more on men vs women, but I do understand how you could find it weird. He may feel like less of a man because of it during that long term unemployment, that whole expectation of men being breadwinners and independent. I’ve NEVER heard a nice word said by a woman about a man who isn’t independent….Yet with men, I see some that care n others that don’t.

      • John Anderson says:

        I agree, but I’d also add that I think sometimes women don’t realize that men don’t open up to them because they’re trying to protect them from an unpleasant reality especially when it comes to finances or health. I don’t want to equate women with children, but I once heard that a parent doesn’t always have to be right, but they have to be invincible. The child needs that feeling that a parent can overcome anything and so they feel a lot more secure. I think that it’s probably a great feeling to believe that your partner can overcome anything and you’ll always feel safe and secure. When this feeling is lost, I think that there is some adjustment necessary. There are also times when guys won’t tell women things because they don’t want the women to lose respect for them. My mom still thinks I’m and angel, if only she knew.

    • “I have one thought here while reading these comments which is, it’s rarely a good idea to simply open up and overwhelm one’s partner with all of your innermost thoughts and feelings. Even women shouldn’t do that. Your partner is not your therapist. Even if they ask you to open up, you need to titrate what you are saying and gauge the other person’s reactions.”

      I have a sneaking suspicion that women don’t realize that when many men finally open up, there’s years’ worth of emotion to let out. They don’t suspect/respect his inability to open and shut that valve at will, or know how hard it is to turn that spigot off when it’s been rusted shut and building pressure for so long. Emotional titration is a learned ability. Many men have not learned it, even as adults.

      On a nicer note, the other day while we were drunk my relatively recent girlfriend innocently brought up the death of my best friend and wasn’t prepared for me to just break down and sob and sob in her lap. To watch me turn from a confident, strong boyfriend, into an emotional, ripped-open wreck on the couch. But she handled it so well anyway :)

      • While the rest of Sarah’s post is on point, I don’t agree with that particular sentence. It’s different for every person, couple, and culture. I don’t mind it when a partner lets it all out. If he expects me to give expert advice, I probably won’t be able to, but I’m not going to judge him for expressing pain (or any other emotion). I am not a WASP. When I’m feeling something, I tend to express it. So do many of the men in my life. I have no issue with men crying. It just makes me want to hold them closer. I don’t think either model is better, just different. I know many people who get very uncomfortable when problems or emotions are aired. It’s important to be respectful of that and not force anything on them. But at the same time, it’s not the only model. There are also people out there who like it when people are upfront about their emotions (unless they’re intentionally cruel, of course, which is where the ruined tits comes in).

        • I am a WASP, so I was raised not to be too expressive. Emotions are dangerous! :-)

          Everyone is different, that’s true. But unless you are really sure that the person you are with can handle it, I do think a rule of thumb is “good fences make good neighbors”. just proceed carefully at first.

          Personally I think I have always been supportive of boyfriends when they reveal emotion to me; even though I come from an emotionally repressive background, I also spent several years in therapy, and I have experience with depression and anxiety, social rejection and low self esteem. So I have a lot of empathy to anyone who opens up to me about those issues. My boyfriend has talked to me about a lot of personal stuff and I would never hold it against him. It saddens me to hear that happens. For what it’s worth, I dated a guy who did that to me and it sucks.

  26. “sketches a scenario whereby she maneuvered her husband into the role of househusband, then scorned him for occupying it.”

    There was a recent article on Role Reboot similar to this about a high powered women who didn’t trust her husband to clean or raise their children adequately so she hired a nanny and a maid and ended up resenting him for being “lazy”.

  27. With the current state of women’s advancement in business, it is natural to think that they possess a lot of the same qualities that men who are successful in business have as well. Things like ambition, competitiveness, intelligence, charisma, and these things build a person’s confidence. A woman might look upon her SAHD husband with disdain because she considers herself better than him, and his emotional plight is therefore insignificant, burdensome and ultimately, very unattractive. attractiveness of his mate. Like the working man who comes home to his SAHM wife and pays no mind to the stress of her day because he places less value on what she does than what he does. Women can take this same approach. It’s not their response to their husband being emotional, it is that they don’t value his emotions because they consider themselves to be domineering, more important and more valuable in the marriage.
    There is also probably a sense of embarrassment among peers for women of higher status when they have a husband who is a SAHD as opposed to another power broker in the business trade as some other women in the same place. Who wants to bring SAHD to the christmas banquet, where he can talk about his expertise in what? Changing diapers? Honey-nut cheerios vs apple cinnamon?
    A woman could be ashamed of this when she perceives her husband as beneath her station when compared to the lives and partners of her peers.

  28. Mark Sherman says:

    I write a humor column and here’s an extended quote from one I wrote in October 1991, titled “Women and Men.”
    “When I was in college there were all kinds of fraternities with guys in them who played football and stuff like that. I guess they were on their way to becoming part of the old boys’ network. I was part of the young nerds network.
    “Here’s something I remember about those ‘cool’ guys in college. They seemed pretty sexist, at least by today’s standards, and they were pretty crude. But they were the guys that the college women went out with. My friends and I were very sensitive, very caring, and very dateless..
    “I just found the following entry from my journal dated almost exactly 24 years ago. I was 24 years old, and single. I wrote of a young woman I obviously liked, but who didn’t reciprocate: ‘Ellen really turned me on when she said she couldn’t be my girlfriend or anything like that…She says I should get mean….”
    “I’m not sure if things have changed very much. In one of my classes at the college, students hand in journals and one young woman wrote about a guy with whom she played a passing game on the Thruway: ‘Everything about him screamed ‘I’m an arrogan, pompous asshole,’ she wrote, but she added, ‘I’ll be the first to admit that I find arrogance (not too much, of course) sexy.’”

    Have things really changed? I was recently talking to a social worker friend who deals a lot with divorce and custody situations. She said that she sees couples in which the woman is the big earner and the man is the stay-at-home parent. She described one such couple, and said that the guy does very well as a stay-at-home dad, that the woman gets up at 5 a.m. or something, works all day, and comes home, and he’s done everything. Only problem is, She’s not turned on by him.
    I don’t know how common this is, but I suspect it is not unusual. The problem is that what we find sexually attractive cannot be forced on us. Sex has its own rules, and those may not be as progressive as we’d like them to be.

    • “I don’t know how common this is, but I suspect it is not unusual. The problem is that what we find sexually attractive cannot be forced on us. Sex has its own rules, and those may not be as progressive as we’d like them to be.”

      I hate this sentiment. People are responsible for their attraction.
      What is going on is that the people that are consumers try to, as always, distance themselves from any sort of responsibility.
      This is what I hear:
      “Why do the people that are jerks act as jerks to me as well?”
      “I deserve a good match!!”
      “Why arent this guy reading my mind?”

      I can’t see any difference to these statements and the regular popamole:
      “It’s not my fault that I am fat!!, It’s because the food is to good and easy to get”
      “I deserve a product that is designed to Specialy ME!!!”

      • Can you force yourself to find something you currently find ugly to be sexy? Because I sure as fuck can’t, I’ve tried to force my attraction before and it’s failed. If they are neutral or less attractive I can still be attracted I guess, but to force it for those I am turned off by is as impossible as forcing myself to turn gay.

        • Our gender role is the approacher and the instigator in the mating dance.
          The more we find attractive the better, the easier it will be to find a mate.
          So, when we look out on a room full of girls we actively search for what’s attractive in as many girls as possible. This is good because it raises the chance to finding someone.
          Also, it is easier to talk to the opposite sex if you can say that you like something about her that she have never heard from anybody else.
          That’s why men, in general, are attracted to a large size of the women that he meets.

          What women di is the opposite, they are discriminating. That is also why what women find attractive is rarely a real person. She likes a list of traits.
          When I have talked to women and what they find attractive in their partner, they talk about him as if he isnt a person but a list of traits. There is very little room for complexity in there. So, in a way, women do see men as quasi human.

          • Nistan, I disagree. Men think this way too. They talk about how a girl is ‘perfect’ based on a list of traits. Whether that be brunette, nerdy, thin, curvy, athletic, all-american, asian, likes soccer, milf, exotic, perfect height, virginal, a freak, etc. I’ve seen at least as many men list off what they want in a girl or what they like about a certain girl. As a woman, I don’t like that way of thinking. I can find a wide variety of men attractive. It’s all about the chemistry we have. It’s about how he makes me feel. I can’t predict that based on superficial personality traits or looks.

            • Of the guys I know that do that, it’s because they’re usually resigned to a fact of it’s too hard to find a perfect personality for them. They seem willing to settle for bad behaviour if she’s hot, because they don’t really seem to think there are women around with great personalities. It’s sad but I guess when you’ve known a lot of shitty women it leaves a person jaded. I don’t agree with it.

              Something you might need to realize is that men also find a wide variety of women attractive on average, it’s just some are more attractive than others.

            • Archy,
              Most guys that want to know women on a romantic level, and be succesful, have to be more realistic.

              It’s not that they don’t have types or some types or characteristics that they find attractive it’s more about how human the person around those traits can be.
              The approacher starts with the assumption that the person he is talking to is very complex and even if she or he will have some traits thet he finds attractive, it will be a mixed bag from the get go. And he is a big boy and will handle a fleshed out person and not be dissapointed when he got a 100% of what he wanted.
              Imagine if both sides had these realistic expectations.

            • Sure guys have types that they like more or less. The difference is that they arent that angry or dissapointed if the girl has other traits that only shows up in a relationship. They accept that women are persons and he will have to take some of the good with some of the bad, as long that it’s not to horrible. Men seem to be more okay with women changing during a relationship.

              Women seem to suffer from buyers remorse more often.

          • @Nistan…

            While I cannot agree with you that women view men as quasi human, I can concur with you on much of what you have stated.

            Most men find a LOT of women attractive. Most women find FEW men as attractive. Why? Women have a the big list of “things” they want in a partner. They are far far more discriminating. Women are both more complex and twisted in how they select men.

            We have a short list. While women have a very long list.

            What I have discovered in life is women rarely rarely do as they say. Watch what a woman does. Don’t give much credence to what she says.

            JMO.

  29. As a 57 year old man, legally separated with 3 adult children, I can say that I have had plenty of experience in relationships. In general , from that experience, I have learned to be very careful about revealing my innermost fears and doubts to women; especially an intimate partner. I remember being told by feminists that men needed to be more open and vulnerable towards women and that in being so would improve those relationships.This is fools gold and isn’t even close to matching reality.Worse, most women haven’t even begun to do the work necessary to be the kind of person that can accept a person’s weaknesses without judging. They assume that they are born with this ability because they are women.The last time I opened up in this way to a woman who I dated for 7 years, she then used my confessions against me.This kind of thing is all too common where women are concerned. I seldom believe anything from women until I see it for myself. I have been burned too many times believing all of this nonsense about women being kinder and gentler than men. They were wrong about women not being violent, they were wrong about women, especially feminists, being incapable of raping other women, they were wrong about feminism. And they are still pretty clueless about anything they may do consistently that hurts society and their communities.

    • ” The last time I opened up in this way to a woman who I dated for 7 years, she then used my confessions against me.This kind of thing is all too common where women are concerned”

      I agree on this, Ogwriter. The first and only time I showed tears in front of a girlfriend for some reasons of mine, she was shocked and left me ASAP. Since then, hell no im going to open up. And I dont care what other people say. I keep my experiences sacred.

      BTW Im very aware that not all women are the same. But more you live and more carefull you become.

      • Neither of your experiences are really about women. You’ve made distinct choices about how you’re going to be in relationships and that’s how it all shook out with that particular person. OGWRITER, you’re choosing to be mistrustful of everyone so you can be unsurprised when someone isn’t trustworthy. Blurpo, you’re deciding that all women will dump you for crying because one woman did. Those are both pretty easy and basic ideas to get over. Not all people will do to you what that one person did. If they will, let’s just drop the whole idea of relationships completely because they’re not ever going to be successful.

        • “Blurpo, you’re deciding that all women will dump you for crying because one woman did. Those are both pretty easy and basic ideas to get over.”

          never did that, I said from now im gonna be carefull. Pay better attention next time Jill.

  30. One more point.56 years ago, I’m was a stay at home father. Overtime I noticed that my wife seemed less interested in me and in having sex with me.Long story shortened she said,” Since you are are wearing an apron and not carrying a briefcase I don’t find you as sexually appealing.” I thought I was doing the right thing.I was being caring and sensitive and responsive to the needs of a changing society only to be screwed once again for being exactly the kind of man women said I should be. In addition, the woman’s world I entered, treated me with contempt, condescension and bias of the highest order.

  31. Conditioning to accept normative masculinity has happened for both sexes. But as men change, especially in their ability to express their emotions (which I very much encourage!) women will be experiencing a phenomenon that is different from what they have already been trained to handle. Just as many men do not realize that they have been conditioned into carrying out unhealthy behaviors and habits in the name of “manliness”, many women do not realize that they have also been socialized to accept and work around those unhealthy behaviors. Both men and women, unaware of this conditioning, simultaneously alienate men who do not fit the traditional masculine paradigm. To the conditioned, an emotionally expressive man is quite unusual, weird, unmasculine, and therefore unacceptable. Most people have not been equipped with the skills necessary for receiving, confronting, and resolving the emotional expressions of men.

    I guess what I am trying to say is… as men change, women also have to change too. Change is difficult, and there are always roadblocks. In this case, the obstacles exist in the mind, and those are often the most difficult ones to overcome. Ladies, if we want our guys become truly gentle men, we need to reevaluate the ways that we treat the men in our lives. It is necessary to break down the ways in which we unwittingly perpetuate the unhealthy cycle. Growing pains are a part of, well, personal growth. Mistakes will be made, and a lot of brain and heart power will be required, but it will be worthwhile. These changes serve to benefit everyone.

  32. Everyone,in someway,is right in their observations. But I think it has been overcomplicated.First,this behavior is nothing new.I first experienced it as a youth and indeed was warned in advance.It is biologically motivated and speaks to man’s ancient role as a provider.More important is, what are men going to do about it?In my view, there is little excuse for demanding that men change themselves,reorganize their agenda and identity to better accomodate someone’s else’s values, when one hasn’t prepared oneself first.Understand,”all” men were cast as supposed “insensitive jerks” and changing this behavior was a major focus of American women.Considering this,It is unimaginable that women wouldn’t have sorted out their own feelings first.This nonsense won’t stop until men stand up and simply say,”No more.”

  33. Years ago when I was in high school I was able to go on a field trip to a conference at the U.N. building. I had never been out of town and it was a big deal to me to see the city for the first time. I was able to choose some events to attend and others were chosen for me. One that was chosen for me was a conference panel of the most successful women in many different fields. Most of them were from the E.U. for some reason or other. They really were the pinnacle of achievement, not just among women but humanity in general. Olympians, government leaders, ministers of this and that.

    The panel wasn’t one I’d looked forward to as a 15 year old but it ended up being a really great discussion of life and its challenges, and success. Toward the end the facilitator mentioned that most of these women had come up in the 80s and had needed househusband types to do the domestic work and support them emotionally. This was discussed for a while. On a lark the facilitator then asked them if they ever had wished they’d had traditional husbands, more the typical man who went out and achieved, earning his way in the world and bringing home the bacon, etc. Every woman on the panel got this sort of embarrassed look and admitted, hesitantly at first and then more openly as more of them chimed in, that yes they wished they had more “masculine” men at home.

    Their careers would have been impossible without these kind, caring men at home but each of them soon admitted that they had little attraction for their men and kind of wished they could do it all over again with someone else. The facilitator hadn’t intended for this to enter into what was otherwise a really positive discussion of their lives and careers and I could tell she was really embarrassed about how it ended, but I’ve always remembered that. I know that at those times when I’ve tried to do my best for my wife when between jobs, she’s steadily lost respect for me and once even yelled at me, “I’m a woman, I don’t need a housewife!” because between jobs I’d taken over more domestic roles to make up for my lack of earning. It’s a big part of why I gave up creative work and community organizing and went to law school.

  34. I admit, I don’t need someone hanging around at home cooking and cleaning for me. That would be weird. That’s not what I’m looking for in a relationship with a man. Some help is nice, but I don ‘t want him to be my maid. I don’t want him catering to my every need. That sounds a little sufficating, actually. If my boyfriend made that offer – I support him financially, and he stays home and takes care of me like a 1950’s wife – unequivocally, I’d say no.

    • Me too, which makes me wonder what it is that makes men comfortable with the opposite arrangement. I’d find it annoying to have someone doing for me, but men seem OK with it. Interesting.

      • The same reason women were comfortable with that opposite. They were raised to believe “that’s just the way it is”.

        Honestly I can cook better than many (if not most) of the women I’ve met in my days, I can keep my place clean on my own, and I’ve been doing my own laundry since I was about 13. At the most in a relationship I might would want my partner to help out sometimes (since there are two of around the cooking and cleaning responsibilities would increase mind you), but do it all for me? No. Deal.

      • There’s an old proverb, coined, I think, by a female actor some 60 years ago, that goes something like
        “The definition of a successful man is one that cater for his woman’s every wish (want/need?)
        And the definition of a successful woman is a woman who can find such a man.”

        That said, I fully agree with Danny above. Including the cooking and laundry part 😉
        I don’t think that most men actually want someone around the house cooking and cleaing specifically for them, and having to provide for that person. (It might be in some societies, but I often think it’s more of a status marker than an actual want. And I don’t mean a status marker like a “trophy wife”, but more along the line that “I can provide for her, hence I’m successful”.)

        I don’t think that most couples, as a conscious decision, end up with one of them being the designated house-keeper from the day they move in together.
        I think in most cases it’s more a side-effect of having kids. Then they need someone to look after and feed them, which usually ends up being the woman since in most cases she’s the one carrying around the food anyway. And I think that the cooking-and-cleaning-for-the-husband-part kinda just comes along with that.

        (Am I making some kind of sense…?)

        PS. Don’t want to make this “all-about-me”, but Sarah, I answered your earlier question about “what we talk about?”, but it seems to have been buried among the “older comments”. Just wondering if you’ve seen it? DS

  35. @Jill:Thanks for the advice but it wasn’t solicited nor is it needed.I am quite comfortable with my values around this issue.If you read what many of the men wrote you’d see that this behavior in women is not isolated;unless we,over time and space,dated or were married to the same women.I am sure that not all women behave this way but that isn’t the point.Lastly, in culture we, men and women,define what is masculine and feminine that is expressed as expectations. So there are global definitions ,influenced by religion,economics, government policy, etc,of both from which we determine our individual atittudes about masculinity and femininity.Hence people of different cultures have different definitions of masculinity and femininity.To deny that demands from female culture over the last 40 years for men to change hasn’t had impact is ludicrous.

  36. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I’m pretty sure our cultural expectations can’t be at too much variance with our biological templates. This has led to quite a number of contradictions. Women often ask for equality, but seem to be asking for Victorian protections at the same time. For example, the concept of sexual harrassment has overflowed the workplace, where it’s proper, and begun to be applied everywhere (as a concept to stop “pervy” or “creepy” behavior.) This could have happened in the 60-70s in the counterculture, but as time wore on, we returned to neo-Victorian concepts, which probably fit our biology better.

  37. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    not have happened

  38. Anecdotal only but I’ve found that society’s expectation that women hold the emotional high ground can be a burden for some women. The women that complain men are not emotionally accessible also complain on the rare occasions men do reveal their emotions and cry, for example. These women are appalled because they too have been conditioned to see men as manly, pro-active, protective & in control. When a man suggests that he might not be traditionally manly he induces insecurity in the woman. Suddenly he’s not fulfilling his part of the unspoken pact. Stiff upper lip and all that tosh. Clearly, we have some way to go to address these issues .

  39. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of watching a couple of close friends marriages go completely off the rails due to the wife being the primary breadwinner and losing respect for the SAHD. Maintaining respect for your partner and self respect is challenging under any circumstances. The distance between what society is telling us is good, just, and attractive; and what the sum of our upbringing and life experiences cause us to actually feel love, respect and attraction for is a lot greater than many of us would like to admit.

    You can’t intellectualize yourself out of no longer being attracted to your partner.

  40. I think this is a really interesting conversation, and for the most part even though there are some divergent views I’m impressed with the thought people have put into their comments.

    I want to point out one thing that I think relates to women being uncomfortable with men’s opening up —> many of us men aren’t even comfortable with the idea ourselves (GMP being a rare forum where, I think, the inclusiveness of the conversation is exceptional). The reality is you can’t have it both ways. It’s not fair nor realistic to ask men to “open up and share their feelings” and then ask them to shut back up because you’re not comfortable with what they’re sharing. Understand that there is a history there (different, but relatable to women’s struggles over the last 100 years) and it’s one that men are in the process of re-orienting, and we need to do that whether you understand or not. PLEASE keep in mind when you are talking about progressive men you are talking about men who do not support the male dominated power structure, we are not pretending we understand what it’s like to be a woman in today’s culture, but we feel strongly about equality…as you do)

    Many progressive men (myself included) are glad for the opportunity, frankly we never fit the macho mold anyway so it’s a relief. But this is going to be a mixed bag, as someone commented (can’t remember who but big ups to them) it takes time and we’re all beholden to the cultural archetypes and norms…for women OR men to change this template there are going to be some missteps along the way. All I can say to the men is, if a women doesn’t truly want you to open up, then you should move on. While I understand the frustration (and have felt it personally), that doesn’t represent all women (as evidenced by some thoughtful and compassionate women commenting here and on GMP general), and it’s not worth our time.

    • I think men deserve better, which is really consistent with Joe’s last point. Men aren’t gonna recieve better treatment unless men stop putting up with it.It is no coincedence that many men during this conversation echoed have the same things.I’ve known these things my whole life;this stuff is nothing new.However, it is new to women.Which means there must be a process; denial acceptance, which must occur before change can happen.The denial in culture is strong and formidable.The other option is eschewing this broken system and turning one’s back those who aren’t ready for change;again this is fairly consistent with Joe’s move on comment.It is a big world and women of other cultures haven’t been indoctrinated like Amerivan women have been.This should be a viable option, insread of endless conversation and debate, fishibg for support from women who culturally are confused and not up to the task.When women find ouit that they are not the only option,I guarantee after getting overbeing pissed off, they will begin to listen. Maybe then it won’t matter and men will find some acceptance.

  41. @Joe:I think you’re right in that this has been a good conservation;been there done that.The idea that it takes time,while true, offers little solace or hope for happiness,if a singular relationship is one’s idea of happiness,in one’s lifetime. Ultimately, this is often my complaint about sites such as yours. I mean it’s good coffee table conversation for about 10 mins but at the end, there is very little meat on the bone.The only advice is move on;to what?One is only on this planet for a short time.Even though there were some good commentary by some of the women, big deal.this passive approach leaves me cold.I have two sons, who have a right to be t treated with the same respect and consideration women demand and there is nothing I’ve seen or read so far that leads me to believe anything during this debate would or could benefit them. Do me this a favor,don’t refer to me as a SAHD, though it is well meaning, it is not complementary.I am much more than that and I find such designations limiting.Peace

    • I’m an occasional contributor (and avid reader) but I actually can’t take credit for this article or the site generally.

      But agreed that SAHD is only one part of the story. I don’t have kids but my brother is in that role and is also passionate about UX/web dev, rock climbing, and has other interests…so to define him primarily as SAHD (and I don’t) would be a disservice. That’s the trouble with labeling I guess.

      Regarding what to do after a conversation like this, you’re right that it’s easy to be passive. I was simply saying that it’s best not to waste energy on people that aren’t really interested in engaging with other, whole human beings. But to your point, I think we have a responsibility to do more than have conversations on a website. In Albuquerque I’ve been developing a program with friends for a monthly forum for men to discuss things like these, with one goal being to figure out how we can build learning opportunities in emotional literacy for boys/young men. I think it’s a shame that “health” class in the schools deals mostly with things like sex and STDs, and leaves off the much more crucial questions like “how do I talk with my significant other about what we both want in this relationship (physical/intellectual/emotional)” or “how can I learn to balance honoring/respecting my own needs and those of friends, family, work, love interests etc…” In that context, it becomes much easier to discuss things like waiting til you’re ready to have sex, being thoughtful and careful about alcohol/drugs, etc…

  42. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I remember being refered to as a “househusband” in 1971 because I was the day parent for our daughter. Actually, I was working a nursing shift at the state hospital evenings, and attending grad school. I used daycare when I had to go to class, or TA. I didn’t like the term, and asked my first wife to stop using it. It was also inacurate.

  43. I suppose what I’m suggesting that usually potential solutions to these problems are always convential and based on a set of presumptions about what is a good relationship.I’m saying we need to throw out the old and bring in something new.Quite frankly, the speed of change in culture can be influenced if people make it so. As I said, life is short and promised to know one, so simply waiting this out isn’t actually doing anything to forment change.It seems to me that what women will respect and how men can be empowered is men taking charge and not waiting for women to get on board.If the comments I read over the years from women on this site and others is any indication of change, waiting on them couild take hundreds of years.I’ll not do that to my son’s or the youngmen that I coach and mentor.I am 57 years old(I used to be a feminists,never again) and have for 30 years of those years known that someting is terribly wrong.I have not once known a woman to readily admit to this behavior that we have discussed.I have told my sons that everything is on the table in terms of relationships,and that percieving the world through the lens of the expectations placed on the American male,especially men of color, is not a good thing to follow.I encourage them to define themselves as men,and to be deeply suspicious of the common expectations the VAST majority of women will place on them.I encourage them look to other cultures for models of, masculinity and for potential mates.

  44. So the majority of comments here seem to suggest women are losing attraction for their partners, after their partners become stay at home fathers. That is pretty damn depressing….One might say it’s very risky to be a SAHD. Do men feel the same when their partner is a SAHM?

    • I think it depends on the woman. Some couples seem to make it work. But we are all socialized to expect certain qualities in the other gender. The vast majority of men are not interested in women who have too many “masculine” qualities (dominant, aggressive, “butch”). They want a woman who is soft, feminine, nurturing. Similarly, most girls don’t grow up dreaming of meeting a soft, nurturing man who will stay home and cook dinner and raise the children. They imagine a man who is active, dominant, strong, supportive and in control. Getting past these ideas is tough because our feelings (especially sexual feelings) are very deep.

      I mentioned a friend in an earlier comment who was the primary breadwinner and had a classic male midlife crisis. I’ve always found their relationship to be interesting. My friend is very socially progressive and when I first met her, 20 years ago, (before she had children) she was proud of having a progressive relationship not defined by traditional gender roles. At the time she was supporting her husband while he was in grad school in a subject that she knew would never translate into any earning power. Her husband is a wonderful guy, but quiet, shy, intellectual, and rather passive, actually. He’s even physically smaller than my friend, who is tall and athletic (she runs marathons and works out obsessively).

      After they had children, it made sense for him to take care of the kids because he wasn’t earning any money and she had a high paying job. She was proud of this at first. But as the years went by, she got resentful. She was working long hours, trying to support her family, worrying about their finances and living situation, and he was hanging out at coffee shops with college friends (he was still in grad school), enjoying the kids and going on bike rides. I saw the anger building up over several years. I remember at one point she told me that they had not had sex in over a year because she found him physically repulsive and couldn’t stand for him to touch her. I encouraged her to get a divorce if things were really that bad, but she didn’t want to lose custody of the children. Eventually she had an affair with an almost stereotypical “alpha male” type of guy she knew at work, who was also married BTW, their spouses found out, everything blew up, my friend and her husband got a lot of marriage counseling and right now they have decided to stay married for the sake of the children. But she tells me she still has no sexual attraction to him and the only purpose of their marriage is simply to give the kids a stable home life.

      Obviously this is only one anecdote and I don’t know how much to extrapolate to other relationships. One thing that I thought was curious, as Isaid earlier, is that she acted a lot like men I’ve known who over the years who have a midlife crisis, lose sexual interest in their wives and have affairs.

      • @sarah…

        Even if your friend’s husband was not a SAHD, it outcome would be the same. Women just grow tired and bored with men over time. She is simply using this as an excuse.

        Did you know that nearly 60% of married women indicated they no longer loved their husband? I certainly believe it to be the case. Women, in general, need more stimulation and variety in partners than men. So long as the guy is getting good regular sex, he can screw the same women for 50 years and be perfectly happy. Most women cannot do this. Women are always seeking “something else” or “something different.”

        But, women always tend to fall back of these primitive, old, and antiquated social modes. They deep down want an alpha male for fucking but the resources of non alpha man. Non-alpha men are not the default selection for most women when it comes to passion and desire.

        I know several couples where the men are (were) loyal, loving, and very family oriented. However, their wives no longer want to fuck them. Just like your friend. The problem was not the man, it was the woman. Marriage counseling is a joke for your friend. It is a waste of time. She knows it is over. I just hope the husband does too.

        I just wish women would just be more honest about all this. It would save a lot of men a lot of anguish, grief and heart ache. It really would.

        • “So long as the guy is getting good regular sex, he can screw the same women for 50 years and be perfectly happy.” I have to disagree with you on that…. given the number of men who cheat on their wives.

          • Sarah. I havent been doing it with the sane woman for 50 years(yet) only 37 (this oct. 4th). Never ‘Stepped Out’ on her and I honestly don’t see the ‘Big Deal’. Don’t reffer to all men as a ‘monolith.

          • @Sarah…

            This is the one area where women now have full equality. Married women now cheat at the same rate as married men.

  45. ?:What can be done now,in these few moments we have left on this cotton ball of a planet,to improve our opportunities of having quality relationships that doesn’t include;a visit with Dr.Phil or Oprah, a meaningless debate with a well meaning friend,or trolling for another male-positive website.

    • My solution:
      Don’t ask women to become this or that. They are in a comfortable situation of being able to dictate how the dating and mating game should be and how we are doing it wrong.
      It’s a comfy seat, and I fear that they will mostly make excuses and twist it so that they are the victims in a more complex situation.

      Whet we men should do is take some of the womens role and become part consumer/selector.
      What this means is every man creates an ideal mate. and unapolagetically just assume that if a woman shows interest in you she will show me WHY I should waste my time with her.
      Just like women do with us.
      As it is today, we are not just responsible to show of ourselves, we also need to ask who she is and make her interesting. I felt that when I was younger, like it was my fault that I was bored of her or it was my fault the same way I felt if I got into an relationship and she wasn’t like I expected her, I was my fault for not getting to know her more.
      What I suggest is that she is responsible of making herself interesting to you.

      Another thing is not to be ashamed to feeling like you feel. Women control the narrative so well that we just don’t have any autonomy to say that some things are gross or that we don’t like certain things and if you don’t like it, you can fuck off.
      Personaly, I think that the portrayal of men in romance novels are disgusting. Brutes that seem only to be able to cause pain and dominate other people. Men that don’t do this are pale immitations and grey and boring in the novels. I think that women that like these books are probably pretty sexist and I don’t know if I could trust me being myself around such people.
      The sad thing is that I can’t say these things without causing a ruccus. While a woman can not like some porn openly and not be bothered.

      This is important for men to do. Because, suddenly, women will have to prove for us, like we prove to them, that she will be a good partner a good mate, that she can be trusted.

      • I actually agree, it is really important to be clear in your own mind about what you want in a relationship and look for people whose personality, preferences, and lifestyle are consistent with what you want. Don’t expect anyone to change for you and don’t stay with anyone who expects you to compromise on what you value.

      • @Nistan….

        I am in agreement with much of what you are saying.

        What men need to do is re-engage women under a new and different paradigm. When you really think about it, the only compelling reason for a woman to marry is for the support (resources) and the protection of a man during reproduction. Once she has raised her kids….the man becomes expendable.

        Men should do as I have elected: engage women strictly as sex partners, fuck buddies, or friends with benefits. Why? Because, this is really what women do. If you watch and study women closely, you see most (not all) prefer to date/fuck the alpha type men. Their sole desire for other men is to fulfill their non-sexual needs. This is why most married men enjoy pretty shitty sex lives. The women just are not interested in really fucking them. Yet, these same women profess their love for their husbands. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        So, yes I would agree. Men need to engage women the same way women engage men. This way, truth and honesty will carry the day.

        • Strange, I find women date all kinds of men n marry all kinds of men. Most married men I see are not Alphas.

          • @Archy….

            Yes, most of the men women marry are not alpha males. There are not enough alpha men to go around. So, most women end up with the beta males for marriage (resources).

            However Archy, I would argue their true desire and passion is to be with a alpha male with the traits of the beta man. This is her ideal. Because she knows the alpha male is not well suited for being a partner (he will cheat….), she defaults to a beta male.

            This a temporary state of affairs. As soon as the children are grown enough to be independent more than likely the beta male will be ditched. Even while married to her, the beta male is treated worse than the alpha male, especially when it comes to sex. In America, most marriages are sexually dysfunctional. It is usually the woman who has either dramatically reduced the frequency of sex or stopped all together. The beta male is now just unattractive.

            And so it goes….

            • Jules, many commenters here complain whenever women say “men do this” and “men are like that”, bevsuse not all men re the same. everyone is different. You had a bad marriage that left you cynical, but that does not give you any special insight into every woman on the planet.

          • (R)Evoluzione says:

            Marriage in general, and fatherhood in particular, has been shown to lower testosterone levels. This wouldn’t be a problem, except this society is so emasculating already. Married men have to make extra efforts to maintain that edge. Heck, even single guys do. Married men must work at it with extra diligence.

        • Jules, there is one thing that I’ve come to realize after 58 years on this planet . There are perhaps 2 times in a males’ life that he’s truly loved unconditionally. One is when he’s first born until the age of 4 perhaps 5. Then expectations start and you must earn the love of parents and others (good report card,’doing well in sports, music , whatever else you’re expeced to excell in) The other timeis with you’re children when they are first born and when you walk in the door they smile and greet you for no other reason than it’s YOU. Then they turn 4 or 5 and star learning the pharase “I want” or I need” and you become the provider. “How about the wife ” you ask? Well, she only married you for what she feels you could do for her!

          • @bobbt….

            I can remember arguing with my ex wife several years before our divorce. We were having a very heated argument over the lack of sex in our then marriage..She said to me, “I love you. I love making love to you!” We were only having sex once a month. We were in our 40s.

            I remember telling her the only woman to have ever loved me in my whole life was my mother. My mother gave all her children unconditional love. Hence, to this day, this is the only person I can honestly say I have experienced unconditional love.

            I have a 15 yr old son. I love him to death. We are very close. His love for me rivals the love my mother showed me.

          • You could say the same about women. We are unconditionally loved by our mothers and our babies. Men don’t love us unconditionally, they love us as long as we are attractive or as lomg as we make him feel good or do enough things for him or whatever. Personally I think all love is conditional in the sense that people fall in love for various motivations, many of which are selfish. People have needs that they want to be met. That is human nature. Men don’t marry women because of unconditional love, they marry because of what they get out of it. Look at Jules, leaving his wife because she only had sex with him once a month, I’m not blaming Jules for doing that, but was his love unconditional? No.

            • Love is always conditional. Beat the hell out of someone and that will often break their love for you. It’s nice to assume love is unconditional but I’ve never ever seen or heard a case of it.

            • Definitely, and it should be. If you don’t know what the conditions of love are, you aren’t in a healthy relationship. It’s important for partners in a relationship to know where they stand, and be willing to express their feelings/thoughts and re-negotiate agreements big and small.

            • wellokaythen says:

              I agree. Unconditional love, if it really exists, is a great pathway to abuse: “no matter what you do to me, I will never leave you.” Unconditional love creates absolute power, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. It’s the most easily abused noble sentiment in the world.

              And, the fact is, someone who says he/she loves you unconditionally probably doesn’t, or else they wouldn’t have told you in the first place. They are probably telling you that because they want you to feel guilty in some way.

              Notice how “unconditional love” often sounds a lot like self-congratulation?

          • And men marry for the sex they can “get” from (not exactly have with) women.

      • @Nistan: While you have a point, your anger is palpable, and I daresay you’ll have difficulty attracting a loving woman who is all you hope she can be with all that negative energy hanging around. You will attract the same energy you hold inside, so be careful, because you’re poised to attract a manipulative woman who will at first appear to give you what you’re asking for, but you may not like how it all turns out. Whatever assumptions you hold about women, that is what you will attract into your life. Personally, I have found therapy to be tremendously helpful in releasing anger and resentment, and the quality of person I am attracting now is 100% better than it was when I was feeling victimized and resentful.

  46. Interesting article, certainly not a new happening parental jealousy destroyed my first marriage, which resulted in years of emotional pain for my children. I have a different definition for this I call it crazy making.

    It is a form of abuse that; by reading the comments seems to be acceptable. A lot of apologetics and justification going on. I guess men need to dial down their “progressive” blender for the emotional grunts pretending.

  47. @ Sarah:If women actually don’t want men who switch roles,why are they demanding that men do so?

    • I don’t know. Everyone is different. Some women probably think it sounds great but in reality, they feel conflicted. Some women and some couples make it work fine.

    • also, I don’t think you can say that “women” as a monolith are asking for anything. I think a lot of people are struggling with what they want and what roles to fill in a culture where accepted standards and rules have broken down. The truth is, the 1950’s stereotype doesnt exist any more, if it ever did.

    • “What a woman says, what a woman does, and what a woman says she does are three different things.” – Margaret Meade.

    • John Anderson says:

      There is always the potential that she did it because she felt her man would benefit from it. What of the woman who nags her boyfriend into seeing the doctor and they find out something disturbing. What if she found out he was dying of cancer or couldn’t have kids? She may not be able to handle it and break off the relationship. The actions after the revelation may be worthy of criticism, but not the intentions before.

  48. …on midlife crisis.Far more women divorce their husbands during their midlife crisis than men who divorce their wives.Yet another,in a litany of deceptions,from female culture. And men are far more likely to commit suicide as a result.

  49. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    The problem here is that mentation may be social, but attraction is biological. I never believed it about reorganizing impulses of attraction– that’s like making gay people straight, or straight people gay.

    • Except in Sarah’s anecdote above, the wife became resentful which eventually caused the lack of attraction. So its psychological in nature. Anger breeds resentment, means you yourself have put a mental block to attraction happening. Don’t blame it on libido and biology. It’s her own stupidity.

      • @Schala…

        “It’s her own stupidity.”

        I would not call it stupidity so much as dishonesty. It is just a twisted view of things. However, she is exempt from criticism because what is the point? The marriage is over. It merely exist in form and not essence.

        I have nothing against women who wish to live like sara’s friend. But, just what right does this woman have to subject another human being (her husband) to her treachery and callousness? None.

        What we are seeing today is many women in their natural and unencumbered state. Women end 70% of marriages. Women terminate the vast majority of relationships. I think any man who desires either a hetero marriage or relationship must be prepared for it to be temporary.

        Just use your God given common sense. If women file 70% of all divorces in America, do you really think we men are that bad? Clearly not. The marriage simply no longer serves HER needs. And in HER mind, all that matters is HER needs.

        Solution: As a man, find yourself two or three friends with benefits. Remember, those too will be temporary. If you believe in harems, I guess you can get create a harem, providing you have the resources and physical attractiveness. Create it and they will come!

        JMO

        • The fuck, dude.
          Women starting divorces the most doesn’t say much more than women are starting most divorces.

          And for a dude who judges women for their sexual past, you truly is a sexist one, telling men to be promiscuous. Where are the “morals” you want women to have and even said you have. You have none by yourown standards.
          And not only that, but you’re also a misogynistic pig, for telling men to have sex slaves (that’s what harems are for and made from: mostly catives). Disgusting human being.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Well, it still can be biological. Man in home all day = drop in status = less alpha.

        • @Hank

          “Man in home all day = drop in status = less alpha.”

          OK. I am willing to buy it.

          What is so twisted about it is: the man that she profess to love is now relegated to second/third class citizenship. He is her husband whom she undertook a holy vow of “for better or worse.” Clearly it is a farce. Love has zippy to do with!

          Now, this very women who profess her love for her husband refuses sex. Yet, she will find another male, who could even be a pathetic loser, that she is attracted to and screw his brains out. This is a totally twisted way of seeing reality. Honestly, it borders on sociopathy. Absolutely zero empathy for the feelings of refection and humiliation felt by her husband. Many of these men still love their wives. It is the wife who has shunned them.

          • wellokaythen says:

            Go to the funeral of any alpha male dead from a stress-induced heart attack and see all the betas and others still alive making eyes at his widow. How about those manly alpha types out there ride your motorcycles really fast without a helmet? Show me how it’s done.

            Sometimes I’ll gladly take a lower status. The early bird catches the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

          • Yes, not having sex with someone clearly borders sociopathy. LMAO!

            Really, you can love someone and not want to have sex with them anymore. That’s very normal actually, even more with husbands/wives; after passion is over, many people would like to open the relationship or even never have sex with their partners once again. Bad sex also leads to that, and as an American man that can pretty much be your problem, you guys are one of the worst lovers ever. You guys only love your penises.
            And for real dude, stop being the macho victim and feeling “oh so humiliated” because your woman wants to fuck another man – that’s very common, for both women and men.

        • And how is “status” ever something females biologically look for? Females look for male’s physical strenght, youth (the only viable sperm) and beauty. Not much more than that; the monogamous look for skills like knowing how to crate, keep and fix the nest or so on, but that’s really as far as it goes.

  50. One thing I’ve noticed,which I think contributes to why men are kneedeep in bs,they too darn passive.

    • @ogwriter…

      Too many men have been neutered. Most have done it to themselves.

      Women have adjusted to the new reality very well. We men are laggards.

  51. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    By the time anyone (especially men) gets to any kind of maturity, they should be able to recognize types that they can have relationships with over time comfortably, so I don’t buy that women are the only consumers with a choice in a relationship.

    Of course, eveyone (men included) has at least one type they’re attracted to, but where it doesn’t work. Avoid permanent relationship with this one. Something tells me that this one (whoever she is) would be the one to bail. But any stay at home person should have (IMHO) an outward-facing career or hobby too.

  52. The feminine needs the masculine. I am not talking about gender or even sexual orientation. Both male and female are a mix of the masculine (logic, aggressiveness…ravishor) and feminine (emotional, empathy… ravishee), it is a matter of degrees.
    A person who has 100% feminine traits would be a doormat. A person with 100% masculine traits would be close to being, if not, a psychopath.
    A female with more feminine traits can be a CEO or in a high pressure job, they would have to tap into the masculine to be effective, but having empathy could be an asset in certain situations. So what I am talking about has nothing to do with work or feminism. As a Father, brother, son and husband I want all the females in my life to have an equal chance to advance and earn as much as their abilities and ambition will allow.
    On the personal relationship side a predominately feminine person would want a predominately masculine person as a partner. The masculine would take the lead, be more aggressive… (this does not mean a domineering jerk, there is still compromise in an relationship) Even male homosexual relationships have a top and a bottom.
    The male who always answers a feminine female’s question of “what do you want to do tonight? With “anything you want baby,” and never takes the lead, is shocked when they find out their wife or girlfriend is messing around with the alpha/badboy.

    It is Interesting how popular Fifty Shades of Grey is?
    My 2 Cents,
    Arthur

    • Emotion is masculine, actually. Sentiment is feminine. Reason is masculine, logic is feminine. Both are aggressive, but one is active-aggressive while the other is passive-aggressive.
      The masculine doesn’t take any lead, but the initiative. Both can lead together.

      “Even male homosexual relationships have a top and a bottom.”
      God, that hurts. Top is usually only about being the one that penetrates, and bottom the one that gets penetrated. Most gay couples are versatile. But that says nothing about their roles in the relationship, their masculinity or femininity and so on.

  53. There is one point of this SAHD thing that hasn’t been adressed. In 10 or 15 years (maybe more) when the kids are grown and the SAHDs reenter the work force, what exactly are they going to reenter as? I mean, are they going to try the so called ‘Pink Collar’ carrers ( Medical Billing, School T.A.’s, etc) if so , GOOD LUCK. You wouln’t believe the sexual bias against men in those fields! Back to the world of coperate business? Don’t know how serious corperate types would take 45-50 year old ‘rookies’! Any one have any Ideas on this?

  54. John Anderson says:

    We tell women all the time if you’re not getting what you want out of a relationship, you have the agency to leave. If a woman leaves you because you were honest about your feelings or she didn’t want to be “there for you”, you’re better off without her. If a woman continues to pressure you into doing something your uncomfortable with, you should rethink that relationship.

  55. I think there’s a general misunderstanding of what equality is. People have a tendency to think that if they want to rid themselves of gender stereotypes, they need to live a life which breaks those stereotypes.

    This of course is not at all real equality, it’s just an alternative set of stereotypes. And living according to stereotypes that don’t match with what you really out of a relationship will inevitably make you more or less unhappy, no matter which stereotype you pick. (Some stereotypes are of course more harmful than others though.)

    Equality in a relationship is when the partners feel they can set up their roles in it any way they like, and change them according to changing needs.

    • Not buying it says:

      @1753

      I think you hit the nail on the head Sir, I like to add that anybody who thinks equality means exact out comes always in both genders are misguided.

  56. wellokaythen says:

    I have two different responses to the question. They aren’t mutually exclusive, just two different reactions I have:

    1. If you choose to be more open, more emotionally available, or more well-rounded as a person, you should do it in order to improve your life. It should not be just to try to make someone else happy. If you have grown as a person and someone else has less respect for you, then that person is in the wrong. That person needs to grow up and work on her own issues or hit the road. Being a better person is its own reward.

    2. No one should treat being open or being more “progressive” as a cure-all. Being able to cry or showing your nurturing side is not a hedge against rejection. It guarantees you nothing when it comes to your relationships. For many women, being like that may be a basic requirement, but that does not mean that if you’re like that she will never break up with you. If you’re looking for break-up insurance, well, there isn’t any. She doesn’t owe it to you to stay with you for the rest of her life just because you’re sensitive. In most cases, there may not be a clear cause and effect anyway – how do you know she broke up with you because of your sensitivity?

    • Amen to that! If a man chooses to be a “Good Man” progressive or otherwise, he should do it as a reflction of his own values and for his own benefit. The world doesn’t owe you bupkis. What a sick joke nature played on us for needing female validation in the 1st place.

      • D.R. Bartlette says:

        Well, women go just as far, if not further, for male acceptance. Down deep, both sexes want validation and acceptance from the other.

  57. (R)Evoluzione says:

    This article, the comments, the links to the article–the whole enchilada–stands as a radical testament to the need for men to embrace and cultivate true masculinity. I’ll call it the paleomasculine movement, though I don’t identify or even agree with some of the others who are using that term.

    Men need to eat healthy, work out, maintain healthy testosterone levels, and create & maintain male safe spaces in order to develop and maintain true masculinity. Men need to stay away from the feminist-propaganda bullshit that the need to “share their feelings.” It takes a lot of trust for men to show their feelings to women. That trust must be earned over a lifetime.

    • You know I do understand the frustrations of many of the men here but I think it’s starting to become too damn generalized, and some comments are sexist even or damn close to it. Of course trust needs to be built but can you really apply the same thought to every woman out there? Women do differ person to person and I think that is important to remember. Some may look down on you for opening up whilst others will feel closer, some will be less attracted, others more attracted, I think it’s impossible to say most will do X.

      Of course when opening up we should remain tactful, not unload all at once but try to give the other person time to take it in and some things probably won’t ever come out good (like the guy that thought his wife’s breasts were ruined).

      • (R)Evoluzione says:

        I’m a sexist. I admit it. I believe that women don’t understand their own attraction circuits, and like it that way. Yes, that’s a generalization. Some stoves are hot, and such stoves will burn your skin if you touch them. Another generalization. Get burned a few times, generalizations become an adaptive strategy to prevent tissue loss. To prevent burns, one tests the stove, gets nearer to it without touching it.

        Again, trust must be earned. How can one NOT apply that to all women, or all people, for that matter? Only after demonstrating a positive response to some small emotional vulnerability can one make a reasonable discernment of how an individual will respond to such vulnerability.

        • It’s the same kind of drawing on ones experience that can lead to racism, etc though. Sure it is what you know but do you have an adequate sample size to suggest it’s true of all women, or just all women you meet or want to date?

          • Not buying it says:

            @Archy

            Agreed that women are not all the same that goes for men too, the reason as males in general & in this article anyway, we are being asked to drop our guard & open up in total disregard to men’s negative realities on average when it comes to which gender losses the most when relationships sour & end.

      • I agree Archy, some posts generalize far to much. Not all women are the same and not all men are the same. So although some experiences may be similar they are not entirely unique to one gender (women going after the alpha male, men going after the slutty girl).

        I see no point in super generalizations.

  58. D.R. Bartlette says:

    I’ve never seen so many outdated gender stereotypes in one comment thread, but…
    Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the premise of the article is true (in my experience, it’s not, but that’s another topic). Did you stop to think it’s because we’re simply flipping gender roles, without examining what’s valued/sexy/important and why?
    Back in the Dark Ages, before women were granted the nearly equal rights we enjoy today, society mandated this same thing of women: be caring and nurturing, don’t be afraid to cry, having and tending children is the most important thing (indeed the only thing) you can do with your life, etc., etc. And as a result, women were less valued *for those exact reasons.* Society blew them off because they were too emotional. Their husbands cheated on them because they just weren’t sexy anymore. The big difference now is, that then, divorce was unheard of or forbidden, so the two just had to stay in a loveless marriage.
    And now, as women have moved into the (highly valued) male arena of work and politics, we are asking men to move into the female arena of domesticity, without examining why it’s not as valued (hint: it’s still seen as feminine).
    Oh, and one last thought: all women don’t think, desire, need, or want the same thing. We are individuals, so please stop stereotyping us.

    • For someone showing dislike for stereotypes you sure do generalize quite a bit about men and women in the past huh? You use stereotypes of the past for what point?

    • Not buying it says:

      When you say still seen as feminine hopefully you mean women too because that is the point of most of the comments on the thread, but you might not see that clearly since your mindset at least when writing your last comment is defensive in nature for ideological reasons most likely.

  59. courage the cowardly dog says:

    “It got me thinking, maybe this whole gender role adjustment thing is a hell of a lot harder than we know. Because it’s not just about men taking on new roles and ways of being, its about women and men unpacking the very real and conflicted emotions the reality of this can create.”

    Yeah, its more than just more difficult, it is completely contrary to nature. Did you see that researchers have recently have identified a “mommy gene”, a gene that predisposes women to be mothers. It is not found in men. I know this may be feminist heresy, but it is fact. Women are not only better mothers, housekeepers, wives and supportive individuals they would in fact feel more comfortable in those roles. Articles like you reference in the WSJ and your post here turn feminism on its head. One can only hope that it gains greater acceptance and we are able to reverse the damage done by feminism.

    • Of course only women have this gene, only women can be “mommies”. Also females naturally have, in general, to take care of the kids.
      Now that says shit about “housekeeping”, “support” (other than the baby) and even less “wife”, as we aren’t monogamous and females need variety, even the monogamous ones.
      And sure, let’s reserve the great “damage” (like women being able to vote, work outside, follow her own dreams, be sexually satisfied, have more than 1 sexual partner, not having to obey men, being seen as equal and not as inferior anymore, etc.) feminism caused, uh? That’s all okay, that’s not you who will be suffering once again, so why would a misogynist care?
      Let’s take back slavery of black people as well while we are at it.

  60. @ccd: You make some good points many of which are supported by testimony on this and other sites. Feminism has, like some Republicans have done, ignored the impact of science on the endeavors of humankind.In this case biology, to fit a political agenda. However, I believe,due to humankinds ability to adapt to change, it is possible to overcome certain genetic limitations.This gives our species a survival advantage over others.Men have always, based on scientific and experiential evidence, had the ability to be great primary caregivers. Men stepped up in and been primary care givers because of death, mental and physical injury, PPD, or men of the house helping raise siblings.The fact is men go through similar changes as do their wives and girlfriends in preparation for childbirth. I believe this is also an advantageous survival adaptation. I also believe that waiting for rather than creating change is a mistake. Feminism, for a number of reasons, cannot provide the direction out of this mess.

  61. There are many opportunities available to create the type of changes in society that would benefit both men and women. One thing seems clear, unilateral approaches, like that of feminism, don’t work. Their approach is reliant upon exascerbating divisions based on the selective condemnation of gender bias. What one side of the gender coin does impacts the other, for better or worse. In the new world where the unpredictably work and career are increasingly defining both men and women, flexilibilty of identity and role are essential.

    • [email protected] says:

      “unilateral approaches, like that of feminism”

      Ummm… which approach would that be? There is no single “feminist” strategy for fighting entrenched gender inequality – although lumping feminism into one narrow definition and then dismissing it certainly helps keep male supremacy in place.

      • Michael Rowe says:

        Lumping “men” into one narrow definition, then dismissing them, certainly keeps the “male supremacist boogeyman” in place. And it’s a stock tactic.

      • What’s unilateral about feminism?

        Glad you asked.

        Let’s start with the name: “Femin-ism.”

  62. @ ccd: I think the point you raise cuts to the core of the primary problem men have with feminism; it’s lack of consistency and habit of ignoring blatant double standards on myriad issues relative to role changes and equality. Feminism”s lack of commitment to being held accountable for these mistakes is part of the problem.
    It is devastating to tell one’s husband he should be the SAHD only to later discover that because he did exactly what you asked of him, to make this great sacrifice, that he is no longer attractive to you. All men want to know is what are the new rules and once they have been agreed upon that there will be accountability and ownership. Throwing ones hands up and saying, ” BUT I DIDN’T KNOW!” isn’t enough. If one claims to be a leader and then sets an agenda FOR CULTURE THAT LEADS TO MORE PROBLEMS, they should be held accountable. This, in turn, earns respect

    • Megan Sailsbury says:

      To both posts, I wouldn’t say it’s fair to blame feminism, which is rather diverse. Rather, this is an issue some women (and their partners) work through, regardless of -isms.

      • Megan, I agree, and thank you for your perspective here.

        There are plenty of feminists, myself and many others (some of whom are men) included, who believe that the liberation from oppressive gender roles depends on men & women working together. This entails willingness to work together and carve out time and space for compassionate dialogue to co-create a new paradigm.

        Everyone should be allowed to be a whole person. When we can do that, we can raise healthy children and create a more welcoming world for them to also explore and discover the fullness of who they are. That’s my version of feminism, anyhow. In the words of Germaine Greer, ” The opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy, but fraternity”.

        Anytime one partner finds themselves resenting their significant other, that person has personal work to do. Ideally, that person also possesses the courage to work it out without blaming or condemning their partner, feminism or anything else.

  63. wellokaythen says:

    One big question is, SO WHAT if that woman loses respect for you when you show your true self? If she asked for you to reveal your true self and you do and she doesn’t like it, then ultimately you are much better off without her. Her respect for you isn’t really respect for you if it’s based on an illusion that you’re maintaining. No man should feel like he has to keep a woman’s respect at all costs, especially if the cost is playing a role that’s not true to who you are.

    On some level, it may not even matter WHY her feelings have changed or whether she’s being fair or not, or consistent or not. At the end of the day, someone else’s disillusionment is their problem, not yours.

    If she makes a request for you to more of a certain way, and you like it and she regrets it, then she has to deal with that. Maybe she should go off and deal with that somewhere else? It’s possible that her temporary loss of respect for you is simply one of the prices you have to pay for living an authentic life.

    • While I agree with you in spirit this is still something that is worth discussing. We often talk about how men are having trouble adjusting to a world where gender roles are no longer the same. But much less talked about is the reaction some women have when men try to be “modern men”. They often find themselves wanting someone more traditionally masculine, leaving men in an odd position.

      • Women differ from one another. There will always be women who prefer a man with a personality that is seen as “traditional masculinity”, and others who prefer men who are seen as more “modern”, and so on. And women who prefer the same in other women. And men who prefer the same in women and/or men. In the end, it’s all about being yourself and finding someone you like and who likes you back.

        And really, it shouldn’t be that difficult to adjust to a world only because you can’t own women as property and aren’t supposed to be superior anymore.

  64. How do you have a relationship with someone who isn’t emotional and engaged?

  65. Megan Sailsbury says:

    Forgot to subscribe.

  66. One of the reasons men get so emotionally dependent, I’m going to suggest, is not because we’re emotionally fluent; it’s because we’re still very narrow about whom we can be emotionally fluent with, that so much emotional burden gets placed on our partners. Does that suggestion resonate with anyone?

    I mean, ironically, as much as I complain that ex-girlfriends can pick up a new boyfriend within a week, and it always takes me at least a year (and I know I whinge about that a lot) it means I actually am not burdened with a fear of being single in the same way as most women are – being single holds no terrors for me – I’ve been there before. So in that sense I am not emotionally dependent in terms of being clingy, but in terms of laying emotional baggage on girlfriends when I have them – I know I’m guilty; and a lot of that is because she is the only person I feel I can be open with. Area for personal development identified! :-)

    • I’m going on 5 years myself. It has taken me a very long time to recover from my last marriage but I have friends that have to line up a boyfriend before they break up with the one they have. What you’re saying has a lot of truth, at least for some.

  67. Eduardo García says:

    Interesting article, good thing I found it before tackling the subject for an article of my own. I was actually discussing this last night when thinking about what to write on. Women love to say how sensitive men are sexy, yet every time they find a sensitive man, they drop them into the Friendzone!
    Worst yet, they take that agressive go getter alpha male and change his ways. If they break up, now they have a sensitive man crying all over, blaming the fact that he became sensitive for what?

    I am not promoting the Macho man, but removing the Warrior out of the Gentleman might not be such a good idea out of the Romantic Comedies that promote the sensitive man.

    • Good article that of course only scratches the surface of the social, biological and cultural of the relations between men and women. Part of it is that we’re not far enough along in the change to see something else. Many women were raised in both a traditional home yet in the world of the feminist perspective. So on one hand they want all that but don’t realize there’s a trade off. I want what I’m comfortable with. My dad was unemotional, breadwinner etc, and I want you to Ber that until I don’t.

      Men are just the reverse. Raised the same, getting their cues from dad yet at the same time trying to learn the softer side of themselves and how to balance that expression. Truly committed feminists do more clearly state the breaking of the gender boundaries. I just think there aren’t enough of them who understand what that commitment really entails.

      In most cases I have no issue being myself. I am sensitive and a feeling man, always have been. My wife gets me for the most part but every once in awhile thinks I should be more masculine as she expects that to be. Especially around others which I find most interesting, like she’s somewhat embarrassed that I don’t be more like them. But when were alone I don’t feel that. So I say the hell with it and try to be as consistent to myself as possible. If she doesn’t like that, and doesn’t really work that out for what’s inside her then I can’t help that and we then deasl with whatever fallout remains. Really not big of a deal.

  68. I think people continue to habour the WRONG idea about feminism and what it stands for. You are thinking of the olden day feminism while the modern day feminism looks different. To help you understand, here is a qoute and a link to a great site about what modern day feminism is about.

    “Letting Him Make All the Moves vs. Doing What You Feel

    In popular culture and society, there’s this idea that even though women have made a lot of gains, they still shouldn’t be the person to initiate things in romantic or sexual relationships, particularly with men.

    Women and feminine-presenting people are supposed to be the ones to be asked out, not the askers. They aren’t supposed to pay for a first date. They aren’t supposed to propose marriage.

    Basically: Women and feminine-presenting people aren’t supposed to be active in relationships.

    And if they are, it’s seen as foreign, and they are scolded for taking the masculinity (read: power) away from their partner.

    And there’s this myth that says that feminism is the opposite of this – that women are supposed to be in charge, that the feminine is hailed as “better” – but that’s not true either.

    Feminism isn’t about female domination.

    Feminism is about people of all genders being able to do the same things that straight, cis-men can do – without facing social consequences for doing so.”
    http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/12/relationship-vs-feminist-ideals/?utm_source=Everyday+Feminism+Subscription&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=c1662bfd16-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_d19c2176ed-c1662bfd16-91525157

    My best link on the topic of what is feminism about:http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/05/why-not-say-everyday-humanism-instead-of-everyday-feminism/

    Other link: http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/11/feminism-its-common-sense/?utm_source=Everyday+Feminism+Subscription&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=c1662bfd16-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_d19c2176ed-c1662bfd16-91525157

    • Mark Greene says:

      I’m only sorry that this conversation so quickly became one about feminism. Not my intention at all. Some posters are very quick to attack feminism as the source of all problems. It is neither the source of all problems nor the solution to all problems. It is a diverse and very complex network of ideas that, like any ideology, can be used to hurt or heal.

    • “olden day feminism”? Are you referring to a few decades ago when feminists were fighting for the right to vote? Or in the 70s when feminists were fighting for the right to sign a lease or a bank loan without our husband’s or father’s signature?

      Yeah, thankfully THOSE stupid feminists aren’t around anymore.

  69. [email protected] says:

    I have seen this happen in heterosexual relationships as well. The current gendered power imbalance produces both male and female identities. Women do need to confront their own sexist conditioning as well as men.

  70. I take offense with some of you overusing the word “feminism.” Why the negative connotation toward that word?
    I have always considered myself a feminist, but now have a word for the rampant inequalities women face.
    Feminists are not all nazi-feminists who burn their brasand hate all men. The word “feminist” to me means being a woman
    living in a world of degradation, patriarchy and inequality and having to march and protest against the “war on women”. If you think there isn’t a war on women, you’re not paying attention. Moving backward in our “fight” is dismaying, to say the least.

    I would have given my right leg to have a husband who was more engaged and more interested in our family and what it took to be the glue that held the family together. He was a “traditional” man of the fifties
    who thought his only role in life was to earn enough money to buy our love. He had little respect for women and their powerful, strong role in society and wouldn’t/couldn’t allow his emotional side to show, as he thought it a sign of weakness. It was easier to remain disengaged in order to remain a “man”.

    I’m hopeful, though. My sons and sons-in-law being of the younger generation and being the breadwinners
    have somehow come to the realization that family is so much more important than the almighty dollar.
    They are much more hands-on than the men of my generation and that’s a good thing.

  71. I believe we are all subject to multiple layers of social and psychological conditioning around gender roles, and this is a complex issue from an emotional and psychological standpoint. It’s facile to blame it on feminism, as some of the above readers seem to. My own personal experience when my long-time spouse began to become more emotionally open and vulnerable was not loss of respect, but a much more primal kind of FEAR. I mean, I already knew I was messed up, so if he was equally messed up, where did that leave us? Also, if he was going to be THAT vulnerable, I had to step and and expose myself in new and different ways as well. Talk about scary. Fortunately, hard work, love, lots of therapy, a profound understanding of our respective attachment traumas, and sheer determination led us to deepen our relationship rather than chuck it. It’s not a walk in the park, by any means, but a little compassion goes a long way.

  72. Instead of blaming women and feminism, which is both counter productive and not going to help fix anything, if we’re going to talk about the way women respond when men behave in an emotionally sensitive way, we should be talking about the expression of certain social pressures. This is not a conversation I’ve seen happen (I wish it was), but what we find desirable in others is highly, HIGHLY informed by culture. Orientation may be fixed, but what we do with it appears to be variable as hell.

    I agree that women sometimes respond with rejection, and that this can be very discouraging to men trying to acknowledge and respond to requests for them to be more sensitive, but a thing to keep in mind is that when women are uncomfortable, they are responding from the same social pressure that sexualizes and fetishizes male emotional maiming.

    It’s less a matter of it being something women do on purpose as an offshoot of the same “naturalized” pressure to believe that being desirable or powerful for men is a matter of them being emotionally unresponsive. It’s also the same dynamics that fetishizes female dependence and inability/incompetence. The source is the same–the maintenance on a system of power hierarchies that draws its categorization from the idea that gender is dichotomous, and that anything which deviates from the dichotomy is wrong and should be punished.

    If you understand how powerful a force that is in our lives, you understand why it is a sexualized dicotomy. What better to motivate maintenance on the idea that women are always weak and men are always strong than to link it to sexuality?

    I really wish this was a conversation we were having, instead of the comments blaming women and/or feminism for pointing out that this is a problem–the problem is shared, and while it manifests differently, I assure you that being an aggressive woman causes similar gut rejections from otherwise nice people. It runs contrary to all the lessons we absorb about what is good, right, necessary and attractive with regard to gender.

    And no, feminists aren’t and can’t get it perfect all the time. No one who actually knows anything about feminism believes is it perfect and will always offer the perfect road map–if you do a little historical reading, you’ll be able to trace a lot of debate, some fracturing, and a multitude of opinions on these ideas. It’s a big tent and there are a lot of people in it.

    And yes, this creates a hell of a dilemma for men that needs to be worked on and examined, in which both men and women are complicit. I’d like it if we were having that conversation, as well.

    But why shoot the messenger (feminism) for pointing out that the message blows? It isn’t as if feminism only discusses women and things about women, or only discusses what’s wrong with men. There’s plenty of problems to go around.

    (For that matter, please feel free to actually read some feminism. Ask me for references. I’d be delighted to share.)

  73. The problems described are hardly new, but maybe seen in a new light as male and female switch roles here. Working husbands sure have experienced these feelings of burden and jealousy towards their housewifes before. But this is not a problem of gender, it is a problem of capitalism that creates these unbalanced and ridiculous values of work. Though no less hard, stressful and important, homemaking is often not recognized as work by the earning part. When effiency and income define a person’s social worth, the supporter’s work is easily minified, no matter the gender.

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