How to Lose a Woman…Forever

Raymond Bechard summarizes Travis McGee’s views on women into 22 rules to losing the love of your life forever.

Only a woman of pride, complexity and emotional tension is genuinely worth the act of love, and there are only two ways to get yourself one of them. Either you lie, and stain the relationship with your own sense of guile, or you accept the involvement, the emotional responsibility, the permanence she must by nature crave. I love you can be said only two ways.

Travis McGee, The Deep Blue Good-By, 1964

If you’ve never read any of John D. MacDonald’s “Travis McGee” novels, you should immediately go get yourself all 21 volumes beginning with The Deep Blue Good-by (1964) to The Lonely Silver Rain (1984). Once you start you won’t stop. And though you’ll be able to finish them all by summer’s end, don’t. Savor them.

What makes these books so special?  You’ll learn all about what it took to be a man when MacDonald started writing the books during the “Man Men” era, and how to be one 50 years later. You’ll look at life—and being a man—differently.

Who is Travis McGee? He’s a self-described “Salvage Consultant,” a kind of private detective who finds things for people, important things. Then he keeps half the value as his fee. He lives on a houseboat in Fort Lauderdale. He is a bad-ass philosopher and critic of modern day life. His observations on being a man, a human and an inhabitant of planet earth are timeless.

Along the way Travis offers insights into women that will bring your thinking to a sudden, jolting halt, turn it, and send it on its merry way in an entirely new direction. Basically, everything you’ve read about the ladies in Men’s magazines for the last half-century is a repeat of something Travis McGee already said. While all of it is valuable in some way (and should be taken with a 21st century grain of salt) the most valuable piece of advice he has remains the same. It goes something like this: Treat a woman so that she knows you believe she is the most important and interesting person you have ever met and will ever meet.

McGee’s advise on women is often harsh—to both men and women. His cynicism will cut you and leave you stinging. He’s not the kind of man to gently nudge you awake. He’s more of a slap in the face guy. Having read all 21 books multiple times, I’ve summarized Travis McGee’s view on women. In the McGee tradition of constant sarcasm and criticism, this compilation is a list of rules to break if you would like to lose a woman forever.

1. Don’t protect her.

She’s a big girl. There’s no reason to help her feel safe in the way she needs to feel safe. There are no guarantees in life so it’s not rational to expect security in relationships. (And nothing is more rational than love.) Her emotional security is paramount to her. This means she wants to rely on you to always be there for her and can count on you to be her best friend. Allow her to feel alone and abandoned, and you will experience both.

2. Don’t respect her.

Simple. Treat her like crap. If she doesn’t take it, she’ll leave and you’ll be miserable. If she does, she’ll stay and you’ll both be miserable. Treating her like the extraordinary woman she is will only increase her expectations, attitude, and hope, and courage, and affection, and love …

3. Don’t listen to her.

Every time she talks either tune her out or try to solve her problems. Do not, under any circumstances come to the realization that her feel­ings are the prob­lem she needs to com­mu­ni­cate to you. She doesn’t want you to DO anything. (After all, if she wanted your help she would ask for it. Seriously, she will.) And if you wanted her to feel closer to you than anyone else in the world you would not lis­ten to her prob­lems, but to her feel­ings. That takes paying sharp attention to her and learning how to really listen beyond her words. You would have to look at her as a person of near limitless emotional capacity. And all of that would only show her how much you truly value her. Who has that kind of time?

4. Look at her like an object.

All your life you’ve been sizing women up, judging them, taking in their physical being the same way you do with cars, boats or maybe fishing gear. Women are their words, their silence, their movement, the expressions, their work, their art, their friends, their children, their emotions, their thoughts, their hearts and their minds. They are more complex than anything else in the world. If you’re lucky, you might be smart enough to take on the challenge of understanding one someday.

5. Take her for granted.

Let her know she’s nothing special. Devalue everything she does, especially the things she does for you. If you want to make her miserable, sad, hopeless, or just lose her self-esteem make sure she knows she really doesn’t mean that much to you. You can’t be bothered with the fact that she’ll be looking for some kind of positive affirmation from you every day. And giving it to her is not something you can do once a month or week, on holidays or special occasions. She knows you appreciate her when you work at it all the time, especially those times when you don’t have to.

6. Don’t let her know she is important.

This one’s easy. If her father let her know that she is important as a person and you don’t show her the same thing, she won’t even consider a real relationship with you (because she knows you’re wrong.) However, if he didn’t teach her these things (making him was a heartless jerk) then you have to go along with him. Otherwise, if you try to prove her father wrong and treat her with the love and respect she deserves, she will fight you. She may never unbelieve her father’s lie. But if you do choose to take on the job, commit to it like a man.

7. Don’t let her know she is interesting.

Don’t show any interest in her life, her passions, her story, her friends, work, hobbies, troubles, etc. Showing her she bores you is the best way to prove to her that she will never be her best with you.

8. Cheat.

No joking around on this one. Don’t cheat. Have the courage to say no or the decency to end the relationship. Stop and think of the damage you are doing to her for the rest of her life. However, if you want to permanently kill a good section her heart then go ahead. Tell yourself whatever you want. She will never recover, especially if she stays with you.

9. Don’t commit. 

She’ll feel fine if you can’t commit to anything, large or small. Can’t make little plans because of work or your family or your friends or your other interests? No problem. She’ll make plans without you. Can’t make big plans like spending the rest of your life with her? She’ll make those plans without you as well.

10. Don’t kiss her. 

If you don’t want her, don’t touch her. And especially don’t kiss her. However, if you want to be a man, shut up and take five completely uninterrupted minutes every day to hold her and kiss her.

11. Don’t cherish and adore her.

Don’t pay any attention to the needs she’s had since she was a child. Yes she is all grown up, but there is a part of the little girl she once was still living inside her. She needs your help in telling the little girl that everything is going to be okay because she is truly loved. Yeah, she can certainly handle that on her own, or with somebody else.

12. Don’t provide for her. 

Screw Travis McGee. It’s the 21st Century and women should be able to carry their own weight. Sorry, but if you can’t provide for her financially she will never be able to completely rely on you. She needs to count on you no matter what happens. Unpredictability is her worst enemy and the world is becoming more unpredictable ever day. You must be her safe harbor, her one place to go when it all goes to hell.

13.  Don’t compliment her.

If you want her to find proof that she is attractive from someone else, don’t show her how attracted you are to her. If you want her to know how much you adore her, tell her how your attraction to her makes you feel. “Seeing your eyes make me feel like I’m really home,” is better than, “You have nice eyes.” But don’t do that. You’d have to examine all the great feelings she gives you. And who needs that much self awareness?

14. Ignore Adventure.

Needing security must mean she wants routine and dullness, right? Do you realize how much a woman wants adventure? Not the adventure of being with you or the ups and downs of your relationship, but the adventures—large and small—you embark on together. She wants to be safe/secure enough in you so that you are the only one she will dare travel with on the adventures she desires so deeply.

15. Don’t surprise her.

Going to the trouble to be spontaneous or romantic without her knowing proves to her that she is precious to you. She needs to see you going to a lot of trouble for her to truly know she is loved and safe. That’s a lot of work.

16. Don’t romance her.

Your first date was a long time ago. No need to act like that idiot anymore. It’s probably best to just settle into a routine and ignore her need for unique expressions of your love for her. On the other hand, if you bring her out on a “first date” once in a while, or go out of your way for her romantically, you will reset the emotional freshness of her heart and your relationship.

17. Don’t be a hero.

She may not want you to solve all her problems, but she definitely wants a champion. Who the hell even knows what that means? It’s a fine line to walk. And it’s only attempted by the truest of men with the utmost courage and conviction.

 18. Don’t take her anywhere. 

She is feeling things emotionally that you will never even come close to. Imagine all emotions—good and bad—are rocks. Someone hands two identical rocks to you and to your woman. To you it feels like a rock. To her it’s a boulder. The weight of all that, all day, every day, gets to be a burden. Weather you take her to dinner, a spa, on vacation, or just sit and watch her try on dresses, you will be her hero for taking her out from under her own personal pile of boulders.

19. Don’t change your habits.

Let pride be your guide. Never improve. You’ve gone far too long becoming just as perfect as you are. Why switch up your game now? Remember, compromise and consideration has no place in relationships … unless you want them to work. Anyway, who has strength enough to be flexible?

20. Hate apologizing. 

If you wanted to make this work, you would love apologizing. Point out your mistakes and apologize for them until she tells you to stop. But, that will only make her trust you and rely on your decency and trustworthiness as a man.

21. Don’t learn what emotional intimacy is.

Forget that emotional intimacy is the utterly close connection that will exist only when you are truly committed to and trust one another. It means you are both devoted to the well being and individual growth of the other, that you fully trust her and her you. It means knowing with absolute certainty that you are perfectly safe with each other. So, you would have to take the time to find a woman with whom you can build trust and be yourself. Worst of all it would mean not just accepting her for who she is, but celebrating who she is.

22. Don’t man up and deal with it.

You have issues. Everybody does. But you’re strong enough to handle them and not let them affect your life or your relationships. Certainly, you don’t need to deal with your past, your humiliations, shame, failures, addictions, etc. Getting help and staying strong only means you’re weak.

If none of these rules make sense then you need to meet my friend, Travis McGee. He is waiting for you on his boat, The Busted Flush, docked at slip F-18 at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale.

You may also enjoy: How to Lose a Man…Forever

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Photo credit: Flickr / KirkOls

About Raymond Bechard

Raymond Bechard is an Author, Speaker and Human Rights Advocate. He has worked against injustice and for the freedom of all people for over twenty years. He often advises social justice organizations in their mission to bring hope and encouragement to the world. Among other writings he is the author of the recently published book, "The Berlin Turnpike: A True Story of Human Trafficking in America." Bechard also began Men Against Prostitution And Trafficking, the first anti-human trafficking Political Action Committee in America.


  1. The reason I say reading this has me concerned about society as a whole is because I have sat here and read this whole thing and even a lot of the various comments and wow some of you are absolutely something else. First off this article should revolve around both genders not just one. If both men and women were to follow these rules.. really learned to respect and love one another your relationship would grow into something truly great. Women should also learn to follow these rules. I have known countless men who loved their wives with everything they had. Many of these same men would go around bragging about how much they loved their wife and their family only to be let down and crushed by the woman they so much loved over some of these same rules being broken. It goes both ways ladies. Don’t think I am looking at just women here because there are plenty of men too who are complete dogs.

    One thing I have to clear up right away because it is really disturbing to me is some of these comments on here saying “we carry a baby for 9 months” stuff. Please stop right now with that ignorance. To me and many other men out there you are making it sound like you are creating excuses to lift yourself up above men like you should be treated like a goddess. I do agree women should be treated like gold. Like you mean something to the one you love. But you ladies need to learn to treat men the same, you are not better than us or should you expect to be treated as such. Learn to walk in the sands of life beside one another. Not one in front of the other.

    In theory these rules as a whole sounds great. Unfortunately majority of women especially the younger lack the appreciation and the desire to have those things in their life. I have heard countless times from women talk about how they want a good man and then go straight to the polar opposite of what they were just talking about. Not all women but a very good majority do just that. Then they want to sit and complain about them knowing there are much better men out there who would be more than happy to give them a much better life but they refuse to leave. Those of you who do this should really sit down and reevaluate things. Think about your future on down the road and how that guy will treat you. Do you really believe this guy will actually change one day? Quit going for the bad boy. They will do nothing but bring you sadness and grief luring you into a dark void of hate and despair. Why put yourself through that when you can go for a man who can make you truly happy if you let him in and allowed him to do so. Many of you will never do that though because you feel like a good simple man is boring. Not trying to be negative but it is simply the truth. In a lot of ways it is a display of your own maturity as to what kind of guy you really desire. Give a good man a chance too, just because someone hurt you in your past doesn’t mean the next guy doesn’t deserve a new chance and to be treated the same as the last. This guy might be the one if you let him in. If you don’t you are only letting that loser in your past get the best of you and you may kill a spark that you may later regret. That loser is the past for a reason, something to learn from for your present and make you a better and happier person for the future.

    The phrase nice guys finish last comes true in a lot of cases. Throughout my own life going in and out of several relationships in my time I have learned a lot of things. With each failed relationship I try to gain something from them and grow to become a better person from them. It is through majority of those experiences and seeing the experiences of others that caused me to think many of these rules should in theory apply but they actually don’t apply in a lot of cases. You know, I have always tried everything I could to show I care. display my affection, give them attention, show them respect, listen to their problems and do my best to help them solve their problems. I have went above and beyond for women. Even had a exes I loved so very much that if she woke me up in the middle of the night and told me she was sad or she was hungry I would do everything to fill their needs or wants sacrificing my rest or things I desired for them doing my best to comfort or put a smile on their face because that meant everything to me. In the end I would always be betrayed, feeling unloved, unappreciated for the things I do, put down like I am always doing something wrong when I know I wasn’t. Yeah you can go on to say “well you just wasn’t meeting the right kind of women” and in a way I would agree. But I have met all kinds of various women with multiple personalities and beliefs only to meet the same general kinds of fate. I even went to date a lady who was a old friend of mine and we were very close only to have her 3 years down the road of our relationship put me down and betray me with running around with another man behind my back in the end. Don’t get me wrong though not all the women in my life did terrible things and all of that I just wanted to express that women too do awful things to men too. There are women in my life who are wonderful people and some I think more than the world of. But these very same women understand it goes both ways. The one who loves me knows I respect and love her as well. We walk together in the sands of life beside one another, not in front of one another. Find you a good man ladies who will love and respect you and do the same for him. Level minded and down to earth is the best way to be. Some of you really need to stop thinking it is all about you and learn to walk together. Give and receive, men want to be loved to and showed they are admired. You expect to be treated a certain way give the one you love that treatment as well.

    • Rob –

      I agree. I really wish the media would stop separating the sexes, because what I see and hear from men and women is exactly the same. We’ve all loved and been hurt. Men are just as guilty pining for women they can’t have. See, it’s really all the same all around…we’re humans. Stay away from the people who don’t know how to love and those who just don’t see you as a fit for them. No amount of love is going to change their mind. If in a relationship, always be respectful to each other and your life will change.

    • Allan Wesley says:

      Most of us are going to have more than one relationship before we find that one person we ultimately want to be with. In reading your reply, I get the sense that communication could have been better in your relationships and maybe that was the issue.

    • Anonymous says:

      That sounds like great ways to lose the man of your life too.

    • Comes down to ONE thing: you’re choosing the wrong women. Stop whining and playing a victim and choose better.

    • Rebecca says:

      LI’ve this article and love this coment.

    • I totally understand your point of view. However, being that the article is geared toward, How To Lose a WOMAN forever is just tips for men. I think every point raised above it critical and should be adhered to. Now, if a woman wants to take a stab at writing an article about How to Lose a Man forever, then there are some valid points to be made. But in the end; the article is on point on so many levels.

  2. Al Porter says:

    I’ didn’t do any of these things and I still can’t get the crazy ex to stop harassing me. I was hoping on some tips in this article. Oh well.

  3. Tommy Johnson says:

    This is dumb.What about how to lose a man forever?
    If we do alllllll this stuff, we’re the perfect guy. What woman REALLY wants that? Let’s be honest.

  4. So why do we have 15 and they have 22?
    Shoots rhe whole equality theory all to hell, doesn’t it?

  5. “You must be her safe harbor, her one place to go when it all goes to hell.”

    And if it all goes to hell for you, well, obviously you’re not a man so you deserve to lose her forever.

  6. Anonymous says:

    As A Woman,These are exactly the ways to lose me!! Great Article!!! Men!! Stop making everything about you,this was an article specifically for Women and How to treat Us and yet when I read all of the comments by Men,it’s a lot of whining and “what about how we want to be treated” questions and blah blah blah….this article (if you listened which I see all of you didn’t) would help you in dealing with Women…But Nooooooooooooo you are making it ALL ABOUT YOURSELVES (as usual) SMH….you guys will never learn what it takes.

    • Exactly. And here in lies the problem with us and them. They always find a way to divert the attention away from them in a weak attempt to exonerate themselves from wrong doing. They are so bitter and refuse to take an opportunity to learn and better themselves as such. Instead they want to point fingers and blame rather than just respecting what they’re told and work on it. Makes me sick really. Here is an opportunity to learn. Instead they use it as an opportunity to complain how women do it too. I’m pretty sure this author has written for the opposing sex as well. But they’re too busy trying to point fingers than learn.

    • Ms. Anonymous & Ms. Akynos, I believe you are missing some of these guys points. I apologize if both of you are Mrs. But, I will safely assumed that you indeed are Ms… I think we all know what the article is about, the title is written in bold. The point some of these men are pointing out is that it simply goes both ways. The era of the 1920’s are long gone. The stone age men are gone, as well as the housewife, no room for either in this modern world. They came out with a book for you women “Think like a man”. It’s about time for another: “Think like a woman”. I want a woman who’s gonna hold her own and be accountable for her actions. She better be just as ambitious as me, and career driven. I don’t believe for an instance that chivalry is dead, I just believe that rudeness have crept in and walk over chivalry. You see their use to be a time when a man would hold the door open for a woman and she will say thank you. Nowadays a man hold a door open for a woman she walks right through like a boss and doesn’t bat an eye, b/c nowadays once again, most are living in this generation of sense of entitlement. A lot of women are smart and know how to use the system to their advantage. So to all my fellas NEVER ever get a woman pregnant while your young or out of wedlock. DO NOT w/o a doubt get married w/o a prenup unless she’s rich or have her own money or you don’t have nothing to lose. So protect yourself, fallen for the big butt and smile days are over, and school is in MF session. I not a firm believer of things will change, I think it will only get worse from here. Marriage is a complete joke these days, trust and integrity is on the grill well done. But, hey let’s have fun: Love, Laugh, Live & enjoy life to the fullest, so I recommend get a vasectomy and go balls to the wall, invest in a lot of plastic. You will know within do time when to settle, until then just don’t settle.

  7. Biblically speaking, man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. As the head of the household, when he is in order, then it flows down to everyone and everything else to work together for the good of the home/family. Man is charged by God to do so, in return the wife cannot help but to fees off of your leadership which will exhi bit all of the qualties that are spoken about in this article. Just as plain and simple as that. Love her as Christ loved the church. She was not created to be over you, under you, but beside you. From your rib, under your arm to be protected. She is a helpmate.

  8. thaiece says:

    Its sad men have no clue how women are wired we are not the same read the bible please

    • Joanna Schroeder says:

      Wait… Are you saying that the bible says women are wired differently than men?

      As in, your retort is that Eve came from Adam’s rib?

  9. Men aren’t men anymore. They have become slaves to “feelings” and all of societies ways of trying to make you normal. Relationships have become such a drain on life that it pretty much just isn’t worth it anymore.

  10. Priceless. This should be given to every man. There should be one on how to lose him in all fairness.

  11. Lily-Anne says:

    I find it interesting that some of the comments are taking exception to the fact that this article is directed at men. Really? After all the endless articles telling women how to keep their man, how to change their hair, their body, their clothes, their scent, just to keep a man happy? I think this is a very well-written article and very well-said. Wish it were as well-received.

  12. Tobey Morehouse says:

    When did we get to the point in society where everything in a relationship depends on the Mann’s actions and treatment of their partner. Are we so afraid of the sentiment of being chauvinistic that everything now is up to the man do everything right, to eat the full brunt, weight, and responsibility of a relationship? The woman has no culpability in the success or failure of it….I have read many articles on this page, many of them are great well written, and insightful…but when did the world become so afraid of the backlash of woman that now they seem to have almost no responsibility for the relationship, Maybe im from a dying breed where a marriage, a relationship is 50/50. I particularly like number 22, really? Im so tired of this idea that men need to just man up, suck it up and make it work…one half this page is progressive in nature in getting to understand the emotional side of men, then turn around and say suck it up….that makes no sense. There is no reason that this shouldn’t be geared for both individuals in a relationship….the relationship is not wholly dependent on male actions and reactions, the other person is a grown individual responsible for their own actions and reactions as well, stop making it about sex.

  13. Tobey Morehouse says:

    Steve you hit the nail on the head man! I really appreciate you recognizing this, its what I have been trying to say but didn’t know how to say it. This culture and idea is absurd.

  14. Tobey Morehouse says:

    Just the part about being a slave to feelings, someone elses feelings, we should never hurt the other in our lives, and its never acceptable for the man to do so, but we are to just suck it up because we are men and woman are allowed to hurt us all they want because we hurt them…its senseless


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