Why don’t men hate being single as much as women do? I know you say most men are marriage-minded underneath but they seem much less interested in getting into a stable, committed relationship than women do, and seem to drag their heels.
Some of the things I hate about being single are (in no particular order): lack of love, affection and emotional support; not having someone to go on vacation with; not having someone to share domestic tasks with; being excluded from social gatherings because I don’t have a partner; not having someone to talk to at home on a day to day basis; having to cope with the financial burden of being single (apartment, bills etc.); not having a regular source of quality sex available. more
Surely these things apply to men just as much as women? If this is the case, why aren’t men jumping up and down with excitement when they meet someone they connect with, like we are? Why aren’t they just as keen as we are to know “where things are going” early on in the relationship? A lot of men my age seem uninterested in a committed relationship, seeming to prefer a more casual “low investment, low return” approach to relationships. Do men actually ENJOY the endless tedium and stress of going on a string of disappointing dates? Or does it all simply come down to the capriciousness of the female orgasm – since men can have an orgasm with practically anyone, they don’t much care who they’re with, whereas if a woman finds someone who’s actually good in bed she’s desperate to hang on to him?! Your insights would be much appreciated. -Elaine
Love. This. Question.
I particularly love your list of what sucks about being single. As a guy who was single for 35 years, I completely agree and think that – all things remaining equal – having a good relationship is a far superior state of being than being alone.
(This does not mean that I look down on single people or think you should be in an unsatisfying relationship so, please, spare me the complaints.)
But what gets me the most excited, Elaine, is that you’ve forced me to consider something that I’ve never actually considered before:
Why Don’t Men Hate Being Single As Much as Women Do?
My assistant says it’s because when they’re single, they can play video games and watch porn, and if they got a girlfriend, she’d insist they give up one or both.
Funny, but probably not the entire picture.
So, together, let’s consider why men are generally cooler with being single than women:
1. Low investment, low return. As I observed in “Why He Disappeared”, this tends to be the way that men deal with most of their relationships. When a man hangs out with another man, he’ll watch sports, play poker, talk trash, grab a few drinks, and maybe talk about whether he’s hooking up. This takes care of most of a man’s basic needs – for companionship, for laughs, for fun.
Men are more likely to define themselves by their careers – What do I do? How much do I earn? What kind of car do I drive? How big is my TV?
As I look at that list, it occurs to me that most of my clients who are perfectly content being single are satisfied with their female friendships. My mom, for example: she volunteers at the hospital, she tap dances in the musical at her clubhouse, she plays canasta with the girls twice a week, she does Sudoku in her garden, she’s on the party-planning committee… and while she misses a travel companion, movie companion and regular sex, life is pretty much okay as it is.
I just think there are more men than women who are okay with low-investment, low-return, that’s all. Which brings us to…
2. Self-definition. Men are more likely to define themselves by their careers – What do I do? How much do I earn? What kind of car do I drive? How big is my TV?
This is unfortunate and short-sighted because nobody dies thinking that he wishes he had a 72” Sony instead of a 64” Vizio. But hey, that’s men.
Women, who are, in general, more emotional and intuitive, are more likely to define their lives by their relationships. So when they lack a partner, they’ll be disproportionately sadder than men, who just bury themselves in more work and (sometimes) play.
Then again, many of my smart, strong, successful clients also bury themselves in their work for a decade, and emerge from their cocoon of success and travel, only to learn that they’re really, really lonely. I can only imagine there are millions of women who haven’t contacted me who continue to immerse themselves in that worldview that success and accomplishment matters more than love. Which brings us to…
3. Communication styles. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: men need more help; women ask for more help. And nowhere is that clearer than in the realm of relationships.
A few thoughts off the top of my head:
• Over twice as many women take anti-depressants, compared to men. I remember reading somewhere that it was about 1 in 6 women vs. 1 in 48 men.
• 90% of the self-help market in bookstores is for women. Seriously, apart from “The Game” have you ever seen a relationship book for men that’s sold in airport bookstores?
• Women maintain closer friendships throughout life. My mom talks to her best friend every day. She has friends who talk to their daughters every day. I’m as sensitive as they come and I talk to my best friends in New York about once a month.
In other words, even if men feel the emotional need to connect, they rarely reach out to do so – with each other, with their families, and with you.
Women talk about their feelings with much greater frequency and intensity, further feeding the perception/reality that they care more about relationships.
4. Sex – Perhaps Charlie Sheen said it best, years ago, when talking about his predilection for prostitutes: “I don’t pay them for sex. I pay them to leave.”
There are a decent number of men out there who don’t really desire the same kind of relationship as you do. Their needs are met by their male friendships and their careers and the last thing they want to do is hold your purse when shopping at Nordstrom.
You can tell who these men are because when they’re not with you, you don’t exist. They’ll call you once a week to hook up and that’s all. These guys play on their terms, not yours and are a total waste of time to any woman trying to forge something real and lasting. It’s like trying to teach a fish to ride a bicycle. In my experience, there are very few women who treat men as if they’re good for nothing but sex.
So yeah, a man’s ability to separate sex and love is another valid reason he’s not terribly upset when he’s single.
The last thing men want to do is hold your purse when shopping at Nordstrom.
5. Expectations about relationships. I think this is the most important point of all. Women expect their relationships to be transcendent. They expect the man to illuminate and inspire. You remember “Eat, Pray, Love,” right? “You don’t need a man. You need a champion.”
Guys don’t work that way. We want someone who is attractive, who doesn’t criticize us or tell us how much we need to change, who we can spend lots of time with without getting bored, who we can bring around our friends and families with minimal incident.
You don’t have to play fantasy football.
You don’t have to make six figures.
You don’t have to have washboard abs.
You don’t have to have an M.B.A.
You don’t have to be spiritual.
As a result, most men can date lots of women.
Women – at least my clients – can only date .0001% of men.
Elizabeth Gilbert, in her follow-up to “Eat, Pray, Love,” called “Committed”, explores these outlandish expectations that Western women have for love – which are nothing like what women in other cultures experience. As a result, Western women are very disappointed in their men, whereas men aren’t nearly as disappointed in women.
In other words, we think you’re fine as you are.
We just hate the fact that you need us to change so much.
As a result of all of these biological and societal observations about men, it shouldn’t be too surprising that there are no Time Magazine cover stories or best-selling books about desperate men.
We can separate sex and love, we define ourselves by our work, we don’t lack dating options, we get 95% of our needs met without female companionship, and we don’t talk about relationships nearly as much.
If there’s anything I missed, please let me know. Guys, please chime in here. Why are you okay not being in a relationship – and how is this different than the women you know?
This article originally published on - http://www.evanmarckatz.com
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