Why Modern Dating Can Be So Hard

Why Modern Dating Can Be So Hard

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When you think about it, despite feeling difficult, the problems people struggle with in dating sound pretty trivial.

For instance, we have been walking and talking their entire lives, yet walking up to an attractive stranger and opening their mouths to say “Hi,” can feel impossibly complex to us. People have been using a phone since they were children, yet the agony some go through just to dial

a person’s phone number you’d think they were being waterboarded. Most men have kissed a woman before and they’ve seen hundreds of movies and instances in real life of other people kissing, yet as she stares dreamily into his eyes hour after hour, he tells himself he can never find the “right moment” to do it.

Why? It sounds simple, but why is it so hard?

There are men who have built business empires, gone to war, played violent sports, climbed mountains, written novels — and yet the mere sight of a petite woman in a sexy dress sends their hearts racing and minds reeling.

Dating advice often compares improving one’s dating life to improving at some practical skill, such as playing piano or learning a foreign language. Sure, there are some overlapping principles, but I can’t imagine a grown man trembling with anxiety every time he sits down at the keyboard. And I’ve never met a man who became depressed for a week after failing to conjugate a verb correctly. They’re not the same.

Generally speaking, if someone practices piano daily for two years, they will eventually become quite competent at it. Yet many people spend most of their lives with one romantic failure after another.

Why?

What is it about this one area of life that the most basic actions can feel impossible, that repetitive behavior often leads to little or no change, and that our psychological defense mechanisms run rampant trying to convince us to not pursue what we want?

Why dating and not, say, skiing? Or even our careers? Why is it that a person can conquer the corporate ladder, become a militant CEO, demanding and receiving the respect and admiration of hundreds of brilliant minds, and then at night cower and stutter his way through a date with a beautiful stranger?

Our Emotional Maps

As children, none of us get 100% of our needs met. This is true of you. It’s true of me. It’s true of everyone. The degree of which our needs aren’t met varies widely, and the nature of how our needs are unfulfilled differs as well. But it’s the sad truth about growing up: we’ve all got baggage. And some of us have a lot of it. Whether it is a parent who didn’t hold us enough, who didn’t feed us regularly enough, a father who wasn’t around often, a mother who left us and moved away, being forced to move from school to school as a child and never having friends — all of these experiences leave their mark as a series of micro-traumas that shape and define us.

The nature and depth of these traumas imprint themselves onto our unconscious and become the map of how we experience love, intimacy and sex throughout our lives.

If mom was over-protective and dad was never around, that will form part of our map for love and intimacy. If we were manipulated or tormented by our siblings and peers, that will imprint itself as part of our self-image. If mom was an alcoholic and dad was screwing around with other women, it will stay with us. If our first girlfriend died in a car accident or dad beat us because he caught us masturbating — well, you get the point. These imprints will not only affect, but define, all of our future romantic and sexual relationships as an adult.

You and I and everyone else have met hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the opposite sex. Out of those thousands, multiple hundreds easily met our physical criteria for a mate. Yet out of those hundreds, we only fall in love with a very few. Only a handful we meet in our entire lives ever grab us on that gut-level, where we lose all rationality and control and lay awake at night thinking about them.

It’s often not the one we expected to fall for either. Susie was perfect on paper. Jane had the great sense of humor and was amazing in bed. But Melissa is the one we can’t stop thinking about, the one we involuntarily keep going back to over and over and over again.

Psychologists believe that romantic love occurs when our unconscious becomes exposed to someone who matches the archetype of parental love we experienced growing up, someone whose behavior matches our emotional map for intimacy. Our unconscious is always seeking to return to the unconditional nurturing we received as children, and to re-process and heal the traumas we suffered.

In short, our unconscious is wired to seek out members of the opposite sex who it believes will fulfill our unfulfilled emotional needs, to fill in the gaps of the love and nurturing we missed out on as kids. This is why the people we fall in love with almost always resemble our parents on an emotional level.

Hence why people who are madly in love say to each other, “you complete me,” or refer to each other as their “better half.” It’s also why couples in the throes of new love often act like children around one another. Their unconscious mind can’t differentiate between the love they’re receiving from their girlfriend/boyfriend and the love they once received as a child from their parents.

This is also why dating and relationships are so painful and difficult for so many of us, particularly if we had strained familial relationships growing up. Unlike playing the piano or learning a language, our dating and sex lives are inextricably bound to our emotional needs, and when we get into potentially intimate or sexual situations, these experiences rub up against our prior traumas causing us anxiety, neuroticism, stress and pain.

So that woman rejecting you when you approach her isn’t just rejecting you, but to your unconscious you’re reliving every time your mother rejected you or turned down your need for affection.

That irrational fear you feel when it comes time to take your clothes off in front of a new someone isn’t just the nervousness of the moment, but every time you were punished for sexual thoughts or feelings growing up.

Don’t believe me? Think about this. Someone no-shows for a regular business meeting with you. How do you feel? Annoyed likely. Maybe a tad disrespected. But chances are you get over it quickly, and by the time you get home and are watching TV you don’t even remember it even happened.

Now, imagine someone you are extremely attracted to no-shows for a date. How do you feel? If you’re like most people who struggle in this area of their life: like shit. Like you just got used and lead on and shat on.

Why? Because being flaked on rubs up against your unconscious fear of abandonment, fear that nobody loves you and that you’re going to be alone forever. Ouch.

Maybe you freak out and call them and leave her angry voicemails. Maybe you continue to call them weeks or months later, getting blown off over and over again, feeling worse and worse each time. Or maybe you just get depressed and mope about it on an online forum, asking for advice to prevent it happening in the future.

Every irrational fear, emotional outburst or insecurity you have in your dating life is an imprint on your emotional map from your relationships growing up.

It’s why you’re terrified to go for the first kiss even though she’s sent you 100 signals saying she likes you. It’s why you freeze up when it comes time to introduce yourself to a man you don’t know or tell someone you just met how you feel about them. It’s why you clam up every time you go to bed with someone new or you freeze up and get uncomfortable when it’s time to open and share yourself with somebody.

The list goes on and on.

All of these issues have deep-seated roots in your unconscious, your unfulfilled emotional needs and traumas.

Disassociating From Our Emotions

A common way we bypass dealing with the emotional stress involved in dating is by disassociating our emotions from intimacy and sex. If we shut off our need for intimacy and connection, then our sexual actions no longer rub up against our emotional maps and we can greatly diminish the neediness and anxiety we once felt  while still reaping the superficial benefits. It takes time and practice, but once disassociated from our emotions, we can enjoy the sex and validation of dating  without concerns for intimacy, connection, and in some cases, ethics.

Here are common ways we disassociate dating from their emotions:

  • Objectification of sex and members of the opposite sex. Objectifying someone is when you see them only for a specific purpose and don’t see them as fully integrated human beings. You can objectify people as sex objects, professional work objects, social objects, or none of the above. Men tend to objectify women sexually. Some women objectify men as avenues for gaining power or influence. But objectification is ultimately disastrous for one’s own emotional health, not to mention one’s relationships.
  • Sexism. Viewing the other sex as inferior or inherently evil/inept is a sure way to redirect one’s emotional problems outward onto a population at large rather than dealing with them yourself. Without fail, men who treat and view women as some inferior “other,” are more often than not projecting their own anger and insecurities onto the women they meet rather than dealing with them. The same goes for women.
  • Manipulation, lines and tactics. By adopting lines, manipulation or tactics to meet and seduce women, a man is withholding his true identity from the woman and therefore is withholding his emotional map as well. If a woman is falling for the perception of who he is rather than who he really is, then there’s far less risk for conjuring up the buried emotional stress and pain of his prior relationships.
  • Overuse of humor, teasing, bantering. A classic strategy of distraction. Not that jokes or teasing are always bad, but an interaction of nothing but jokes and teasing is a means to communicate without saying anything important, to enjoy yourselves without actually do anything, and to feel like you know each other without actually knowing a thing. This is most typical of English-speaking cultures, as they tend to use sarcasm and teasing as a means to imply affection rather than actually showing it.
  • Stripclubs, prostitution, pornography. A way to experience one’s sexuality vicariously through an empty, idealized vessel, whether it’s on a screen, a pole, or running you $100 an hour.

Generally, the more resentment one is harboring towards the opposite sex, the more one objectifies them. Men who had turbulent relationships with their mothers, men who were left by their wives or girlfriends, or men who were tormented by women growing up, these men will likely find it much easier and more enticing to objectify and measure their sex lives than to confront their demons and overcome their emotional scars with the women they become involved with (See: Madonna/Whore Complex).

Women also disassociate their emotions and objectify men as well. But there’s a lot more social pressure on men to ignore their emotions, particularly “weak” emotions such as a need for intimacy and love. It’s more socially acceptable for men to objectify their sex lives and boast about it. Whether you think that’s right or wrong or doesn’t matter, it is how it is. 

Confronting Your Issues and Winning

Disassociating from your emotional needs is the easy way out. It requires only external effort and some superficial beliefs. Working through your issues and resolving them requires far more blood, sweat and tears. Most people aren’t willing to dig deep and put in the effort, but it yields far greater and permanent results.

1) The biggest misconception when it comes to working through an excess of emotional baggage is that these feelings ever completely go away. Research and brain imaging indicates that fears, anxieties, traumas, etc. are imprinted on our brains in similar ways that our physical habits are. Just like you’ve developed a habit of brushing your teeth every time you wake up, you have emotional habits of getting sad or angry any time you feel abandoned or unwanted.

The way to change is not by removing these feelings or anxieties altogether, but rather consciously replacing them with higher order behaviors and feelings.

This can only be accomplished through taking action. There is no other way. You cannot rewire your responses in healthy ways and confront your insecurities if you aren’t out there actively pushing up against them. Trying to do so is like trying to learn how to shoot free throws left-handed without ever actually touching a basketball. It just doesn’t work.

If you have a habit of flipping out and leaving angry voicemails every time someone doesn’t call you back, you don’t get rid of the anger, but rather channel that anger into a better and healthier activity, like say, going to the gym, or painting a picture, or punching a punching bag.

2) Anxieties can be overcome through utilizing implementation intentions and progressive desensitization. For instance, if you have a problem getting sexual or making the first move with women, start with baby steps. Tell the next woman you go on a date with that she’s sexy. Once that feels comfortable then challenge yourself to have a conversation about sex. After that challenge yourself to hold hands with a woman. Then challenge yourself to kiss a woman.

I’ve set up online programs that utilize progressive desensitization to help men overcome their anxieties around women.

Obviously this takes time and requires consistently facing situations which make you uncomfortable, but that’s the idea. You must overlay old emotional habits of fear and anxiety with new healthier ones of excitement, boldness and assertiveness. Mentally train yourself so that any time you feel anxiety, you force yourself to do it anyway.

3) The final step — once you’ve learned to channel your negative emotions in constructive ways, once you’ve eaten away at your anxieties and are able to often act despite them — is to come clean with people you date about your needs and start screening based on them.

For instance, I’ve always had a fear of commitment and needed a woman who was comfortable giving me space and some freedom. Not only do I openly share this with women I get involved with now, but I actively screen for women with these traits.

Ultimately, your emotional needs will only be fully met in a loving and conscious relationship with someone who you can trust and work together with – and not just your emotional issues, but hers as well. We unconsciously seek out romantic partners in order to fulfill our unfulfilled childhood needs, and to do so cannot be completely done alone.

This is the reason that honesty and vulnerability are so powerful for creating high-quality interactions – the practice of being upfront about your desires and flaws will naturally screen for those women who best suit you and connect with you.

This kind of authenticity changes the whole dynamic with women. Instead of chasing and pursuing, convincing and persuading, you focus on consistently improving yourself and presenting that self to the women of the world. The right ones will pay attention and stay. And whether you spend a night or a year with them, this enhanced level of intimacy and mutual vulnerability will help heal your emotional wounds, help you become more confident and secure in your relationships and ultimately, overcome much of the pain and stress of that accompanies sex and intimacy.

 

An Invitation for Change

I invite you to post in the comments below what your emotional hang ups are in this area of your life, where they probably come from, and how you could overcome them in an open and honest way.

As an example, I grew up in a broken family where all members isolated themselves and we communicated our emotions very seldom. As a result, I became highly sensitive to confrontation and any negative emotions of others. I became the consummate Nice Guy and for years struggled to assert myself in my relationships and around women. In fact, I objectified my sex life quite a bit and adopted some narcissistic behaviors in order to push me through some of these insecurities.

My fear of commitment is undoubtedly rooted in my parents’ divorce and my knee jerk reaction for years was to run away any time a woman attempted to get close to me. I slowly eroded that fear by opening myself up to intimate opportunities little by little over a long period of time. I was incapable of becoming intimate with a woman unless I had an escape route (i.e., she had a boyfriend, or I was going to move to another city soon, etc.).

Spending all of my adolescence living alone with my mother has made me particularly sensitive to female affection, and like a smoker rationalizing reasons to smoke one last cigarette, I have often rationalized myself into intimate and sexual situations with women who I perhaps should not have been with or didn’t actually like as much as I thought I did.

This is my emotional map — at least part of it. These are the hang ups and issues that I’ve battled and slowly beaten back with years of active effort. These are the realities that I express openly and seek out the proper women who can handle them.

What are yours?

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210 Comments

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  • Reply

    Cman

    2 months ago

    Interesting article. I have a desire to comment here.
    I have been in a few relationships. I struggle with dating too.
    I think when it comes to dating and personal relationships you have to have the right attitude, and not just when it comes to dating. You need to have the right attitude towards yourself most of all. If you look at yourself as someone who does not deserve these things, than surely that attitude will have an affect on everything because it is part of your whole perception.
    If you can’t love yourself then you can’t expect another person to.
    You have to risk (and be) rejected a few (and most likely many more) times before you are rewarded for your efforts.

  • Reply

    TheTruth

    2 months ago

    dating has become very difficult for us men that are really looking for a relationship today, and since so many women now seem to have a very bad attitude problem and playing hard to get will certainly do it. women were much different years ago, and meeting a good one was much more easier than now. trying to approach a woman that i would seriously like to meet is very hard for me, since they will just walk away and even be nasty. i wish that we had much more women like June Cleaver and Donna Reed around again, and they were very committed to their men and accepted them for who they were.

    • Reply

      Cman

      2 months ago

      I couldn’t agree more. The dating environment had better days.
      For the purpose of this article and my fellow readers, I think I would hesitate to put blame on another. Even though the dating scene is ever changing there are always other fish in the sea. Ultimately we are responsible and that’s where we can make improvements.
      Maybe people are facing rejection more (statistically)… maybe it all depends on how people handle rejection… etc.
      Point being that even though dating conditions are poor, you won’t be held back by the tsunami of rejection. :D

    • Reply

      AH

      29 weeks ago

      The dating situation may have changed today verses 40 years ago, but how old are you that you ACTUALLY experienced dating before and are experiencing it again now?. I call BS. You are objectifying the fantasy of the past as portrayed on TV. I am willing to bet that dating was equally as difficult then, perhaps with different – but equally challenging – obstacles.

  • Reply

    Dan

    2 months ago

    While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the Freudian Psychology in this post, I certainly agree that openly expressing yourself and your problems is nothing but beneficial.

    I had a great childhood with my family. However, i never really was comfortable expressing any insecurities to them. I know that they wouldn’t change their opinions of me, but i was always terrified of openly expressing myself. As a result I developed a very good sense of humor , in a sense to mask my insecurities. Whenever people ask me a fairly deep question i make a joke out of it. Its fun in the interaction, but not beneficial for getting over my fear of expressing myself.

    I really appreciate finding this forum because it is very real no bullshit kind of development. However, me expressing myself over this post will only go so far, the real difficulty is doing it face to face with people I care about. That developed a sort of unconscious fear of rejection for me. As a result I’ve always been afraid of confrontation and openly being honest about myself and things like my virginity.

    If someone asks I’m really going to try to be honest about some of my insecurities. I’ve never really had a true emotional connection with any romantic interests. Some makeouts and other acts of seeking validation to impress people around me. I want to love girls, so this is going to be my focus for the next month. Ill update this comment then. Not for anyone but myself

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    hi

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    well i moved to nc when i was 12 and i had no friends and all my immediate family was left in Chicago. i grew up with 2 friends in my apartment complex. i spent summers with them (a brother and sister) and i had my first crush ever on this girl at age 15. well my parents were reallly religious and i believed in god to. i would walk around praying to him all the time. well the girl i grew up loving end up that summer randomly going to a hotel and fucking some guy at 15. so it was 1995 and pearl jam is playing and the summers are nostalgic and painful and so when this happened i was angry and felt lost and dead inside. why did this happen? this isnt the way life should be? well i started being suicidal at 15 and just feeling all sorts of angst in life and questioning life and its meaning. well my parents sent me to christian school and i read the catcher in the rye and i became holden caulfield in my mind that day. i wanted to save girls and i had this paranoia about growing up and sex and corruption and so here i am at this christian school with no friends and the biggest nerd and so i graduated valedictorian and i was so fuckng socially inept(still am) all i ever wanted was a pretty blonde girl to want me and to be happy together riding on motorcycles to california and hanging at the beach. well i graduated and started listening to marilyn manson. went off to college and i was so fucking scared i had never made decisions before on sex drugs or achohol and it all hit me so fast. so instead of making choices and backed down. i didnt know how to live or what to major in and i dropped out. i did cocaine for a year and felt ok but i felt guilt so i quit. i end up working 8 an hr at 12 hr night shift factories and i do that for 12 years. i never make it back to school. i never become something in peoples eyes. i never make any money and i end up being blamed every day for 12 years. i ask girl after girl out and dont lose my virginity till 25 and even then my first girlfriend was a pillpopping addict with a kid and bipolar living on welfare and treating me like shit. i gave her everything and she didnt give a fuck about me. so i try harder and at 28 ask a girl out and decide to try to be perfect and do everything right. sure enough she too doesnt give a damn about me. and yet everywhere i look i see assholes with knockouts and i see people in love an i see managers who act like dickheads at work but have beautiful houses and children and now im30 years old living with my parents, childless, friendless, girlfriendless, and unemployed? why? what the fuck did i do so wrong? how did everyone else succeed and have it all? so now i dont know what to do? i think 1 kill yourself 2 keep asking girls out and being rejected or 3 live the shit life you have and accept it but i dont think i can!!!! so now im dead inside. i want a young 23 year old sexy girl to want me and yet now my life has already passed me by and i will be labeled the pervert 30 year old! hell just yesterday i was fucking 18 and now i dont know what i have to live for. i dont want to slave away anymore making nothing. i dont want to live without love anymore. and yet im not in control. these fucking heartless bitches are and they wont fucking give me a chance. and yet every dickhead i know on earth has a wife. am i living in the twilight zone? why is life so fucking hard? am i cursed? does god give a fuck about me? i give up……

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    and another thing. why the fuck is it so damn hard to have a woman give you a chance nowadays. i mean for real. the minute a girl is approached she says no or acts mean or says something mean. why are they so fucking hard to deal with? i had a good friend of mine who is the nicest guy in the world actually have the girl he approached RUN LAUGHING AWAY AND JUMPED IN THE CAR WITH HER GIRLFRIENDS AND TOOK OFF?!!!wtf? is dating a game nowadays or a joke?? either way im fucking tired of it all

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    all i know is that all i relate to now is Charles Bukowski. i dont even care about the american bullshit dream anymore. fuck the whore and her jock fucking ass!! fuck the big house owning douchebags who got there money by telling 300 other men in a plant what to do all the while doing nothing himself! fuck this goddamn stupid and superficial world that is based on nothing but looks, money, and fame. fuck it i dont care anymore.

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    and another thing. why the fuck do women do everything they can to annihilate your self esteem and then they say smartass shit like “women like confident guys!” YOU FUCKING DUMB CUNT YOU TREAT MEN LIKE SHIT AND THEN SAY STUFF LIKE THAT!! FUCK YOU!!

    • Reply

      AH

      29 weeks ago

      Yikes. You mildly terrify me. I would run and jump into my friends car too if you were screaming at me in all caps.

  • Reply

    Paul

    2 months ago

    well there are certainly much more gay women now than ever before, and that is a very good reason why many of us straight guys can’t meet a good one anymore. and even the ones that are straight will curse at us when trying to start a normal conversation with the one that we would really like to meet.

    • Reply

      Brandi

      7 weeks ago

      There aren’t more gay women, or men, it’s just more acceptable to be out now than it was in times past. Being gay is also an excuse given by some straight women claim to avoid confrontation or hurt feelings.

  • Reply

    john

    2 months ago

    of course dating has become harder . and its happened in the past 8-10 years. im not sure what happened to women whether it is a rise in feminism or reality tv or im not sure but i remember when i graduate in 2001 that the dating environment wasnt nasty. but now you are shut down immediately its like none of these women have the time for you .they act like you are annoying them and they are in a hurry to get to the job, or dont want to waste their time because they are in college or any other slew of reasons and YET YOU KNOW THATS NOT WHY THEY SAID NO!! THEY SAID NO BECAUSE NOWADAYS THEY ACT LIKE CARRIE BRADSHAW ON SEX AND THE CITY. I WATCHED 2 EPISODES ONE DAY BECAUSE I WANTED TO SEE WHY WOMEN WERE SO INTO IT . IT MADE ME SICK. all it really is about is a bunch of STUCK UP SOCIALITES trying to find a RICH GUY !!!!!!!!!!!!! THATS IT!!!!! they drink cosmos, bounce from club to club, and bang everything from bellboys to businessmen trying to find some 6ft tall , authoritative, tall, dark and handsome, rich PRICK and when that is not readily available for their snobby and elitist asses, THEY PROCEED TO DOWN THE MAJORITY OF MEN SAYING THAT THEY ARENT WORTH DATING???????? WHY????? BECAUSE THEY HAVE READ THE LATEST JAMES JOYCE NOVEL?????? BECAUSE THEY DIDNT SPEND 10 YEARS TRYING TO BECOME A DOCTOR FOR YOU???? BECAUSE THEY ARE TOO BUSY SURVIVING AT REGULAR GUYS JOBS TO HAVE THE TIME TO SIP MARTINIS WITH YOU AT THE ULTRA TRENDY MINI BAR???? So now the whole generation of girls have been reading chick lit that falls into this sorta vein, watch sex and the city, watch the kardashians, watch every show in which the main female character is a complete and total bitch and hell it apparently has rubbed off all too well. if something doesnt change most regualar guys are in for being really fucked by the average girl. just like its been for the past 10 years unable to crack the code of life and get these worthless bitches to give you a damn chance. nowadays all it takes to get the girl is be rich, be gorgeous, have 6 pack, and be as sensitive as your mother and bingo their is a whores american dream. fuck it im out.

    • Reply

      Paul

      2 months ago

      women today are very uneducated and they are nothing like the real good women that existed years ago, they play just too many games and many of them still need to grow up. we can’t blame ourselves at all since we did not do anything wrong, and with the very bad attitude problem that they have today makes it worse. if we had been born a lot sooner, then we would have avoided this mess in the first place and met the right good one to have shared a life with. i was married at one time myself, and she cheated on me which i was a very caring and loving husband that was very much committed to her. this hurt me very bad, and now i really hate going out and dealing with this mess all over again since they play so many games and are a real tease. just remember, they are the ones that have the problem, not us. good luck.

      • Reply

        john

        2 months ago

        i just want to know where the feminine women are at who enjoy men, enjoy sex, and make an effort to show feminine traits. nowadays the women are so damn unfeminine. the way they talk, walk, and act is so uncouth and hard to deal with. Whatever happened to the ingrid bergmans of the world ya know? why the hell is it that in 60 years we went from the sensitive and sweet ingrid bergman to the loudmouth slut carrie bradshaw?! anyone else tired of the bullshit changes in society?

        • Reply

          KJC

          1 month ago

          I find it hard to believe that a feminine cultured woman would want to date a man who rants and raves and casually drops the “c” word to refer to all women. Just a thought.

          • KD

            1 month ago

            I second that.

          • Tammy

            1 month ago

            I agree! I read the article and have read this guys rant and it’s easy for me to see why he has such a hard time with women! Just saying…

          • rachel

            1 month ago

            Yep. I consider myself a pretty rational person (regardless of my gender which is clearly not the favorite of the two according to the comments on this post) and I would argue that most people wouldn’t enjoy being in the presence of anyone who offends them like “John” and “Paul” have offended women by grouping them into a category. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to invest in a relationship with someone who would say such foul things about the female gender as a whole.

        • Reply

          Deven, Elizabeth

          1 month ago

          I find it hard to deal with that this is becoming a just bash on feminism section.
          Female have to deal with catcalls honks and people on the street saying “Wanta’ Fuck “or maybe even just stopping dead in there tracks just to stare at our boobs. (and by the way NO this doesn’t mean I’m wearing to low of a cut if it feels better I should be able to wear it.)
          Ether way you look at it both sexes are having trouble dating, For females we think it is due in part to the fact that we have to be callus to get rid of the “creepers” who are everywhere witch make it hard to tell who is even nice if men took a no as a no then this would not be as much of a barrier but they don’t they have been taught that no often times means yes, Even though this is not the case.
          When dealing with a female at a bar it is best first to just offer your name, And yes that does mean BEFORE you offer a drink and Before you ask for her name, if that’s to dame hard Houston we have a problem.
          And yes even when you do everything right, we do still have the right to say no and if you push on that no we have the right to ask you to back the fuck off, but don’t worry you that right to.

      • Reply

        Mariah

        15 weeks ago

        There is a lot to be said for self-improvement. Rather than lament the current dating conditions, figure out how to navigate them. The author of this post is attempting to help you do that. He’s got a great post about personal values that it seems could help both you and John up there a great deal. Figure out who you should be dating, not who you fantasize about fucking(college co-eds) and I believe you’ll find better success. Women are not obligated to date you, like you, sleep with you. You must work on being your best self so the RIGHT women will WANT to do those things because they value you.

        • Reply

          Jeff

          3 weeks ago

          You are right, women are not obligated to date you, but I think what John and others are trying to get across is that girls are too damn picky and have double standards when it comes to what men should offer and what girls should offer in a relationship.

          Women are more likely to play a guy…. Seen it happen so many times…

          Guys, most guys, not just the douchebag guys that girls pass around, just want a relationship, and girls more often than not play on this desire, for attention or to make themselves feel better… Seen it over and over.

  • Reply

    John

    2 months ago

    I grew up with a father who was very awkward and anti-social. My sister is like this as well. One of my greatest fears is that I am becoming more and more like them and this makes me self-conscious and really sensitive to my behaviors which resemble theirs. One way I could change this is to try not to compare myself to other people and try to be more optimistic.
    My mother is a little bit protective and I have really never had as much freedom as I want to. I have a feeling that this has made me scared to ask for things because I am afraid that they will say no. I can by asking people for help make this a more normalized behavior.
    Also with regards to any kind of sexual behaviors my mom looks down upon woman being sexy and any kind of sexual material. I feel like this has made me afraid to talk about sexual topics and feel uncomfortable when I do so. I can start to slowly step by step increase they amount of sexual topics that I talk about.
    By the way, this was a good article.
    Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  • Reply

    Bill

    1 month ago

    it is very hard for many of us good down to earth straight men looking to meet a good woman to have a love life with, and with so many very mean nasty women that will curse at us for trying to start a conversation with the one that we would really like to meet makes it very difficult for us. i never expected to get cursed at, and this really did happen to me. in fact, i know other men that had this happened to them as well. women have certainly changed for the worst nowadays since there are much more GAY women adding to the problem, and how in the world can good men like us meet a good woman since many of them today are like this?

    • Reply

      Tammy

      1 month ago

      I honestly think it is a cycle, a good man gets with a woman that treats them badly and turn into an ass hole and a good woman gets with a man that treats her badly then turns into a bitch. I also think that this article doesn’t apply only to men. We all, men and women, grow up with things that have an effect on our lives that causes us to have a hard time with relationships. I grew up with both parents but they were never home, they both had two full time jobs. We never communicated as a family and they were very judge mental. And if anyone did anything wrong the WHOLE family new with in a day or two. I mean even family in different states. Once they had an idea about something, it stuck! When I was a teenager I started smoking pot, I quit years ago but they still make comments about me smoking. They also were very negative and unsupportive. Any time I wanted to try something new I had to beg, because they knew I wouldn’t like it and stick with it. I think all of this had made me very insecure. I have a hard time opening up to people and trusting people. I feel like I will be judged and anything I say will get out to everyone. I have a hard time trying things because I’m afraid I will fail. It took me 3 years to finally get enough courage to start college. Guess what my parents said… “when you drop out you’ll have a hell of a bill!”

      But, I do stay confident that there are still some nice men and women out there, I just believe that you have to find them at the right time, when both of you are ready to be true to each other.

      I know this is a men’s discussion but, I wanted to let you guys know that everyone is emotionally scared somehow and I think this is the major problem. The way kids are raised now days is very different from years ago.

      • Reply

        ERIC

        1 month ago

        in response to what you’ve written, Tammy, I have to agree wholeheartedly that there are still good people out there, its just a matter of meeting them at the right place, at the right time, and not so much about luck either.. (although it doesnt hurt to have it), but it will just happen when its meant to happen… I also grew up in a similar situation, I’m the youngest of 3, but far from the most loved or spoiled.. I wasn’t a bad kid, got decent grades, had a learning disability, battled depression most of my life, I’ve had my share of relationships, and friends, some i still talk to, many of them became exs for a reason, therefore i DONT talk with them… my family was also very judgemental, and not terribly open about too much, although my mom did her best to “understand” alot, she still had a very twisted view of the world i was coming up in,my dad was just a total unfeeling jerk, who wasn’t terribly open about much of anything, but i did learn some choice phrases from him, some I understood clearly such as: ” A car is a losing investment” or “work is a pain in the ass” but one such phrase I’ll never forget that I despised him for saying was: “Keep your girlfriends on the computer, never get married, and never have kids, its all one big loss after another” he said this to me when i was about 13-14, and being that i was a rather sensitive and efeminite boy, it killed me… but it was fuel for a certain fire.. I’m a musician (which ironically a skill i get from my dad) who grew up with bands like Chuck Berry, The Beatles, and Simon&Garfunkel (which i get from my mom), but became enanmored with the Punk Rock scene, The Grunge movement, and particularly with the Riotgrrl punk movement.. I made alot of friends and contacts through those scenes, almost started a south jersey chapter of riotgrrl with a couple friends, but kept my focus on music as the permanent outlet, I play 3 instruments (guitar, basss, drums) and sing/write my own stuff.. and its been endless therapy ever since, and its the same band, same project that has had its own struggles throughout the years in dealing with many different types of people the website i’ve provided above is our whole catalog to date, with more on the horizon..complete with lyrics almost every song gives an inside track in to me, and who I am, and what ive gone through… its the best way for me to express it, with out writing a novel in a chatroom or bulletin board…
        but in the end, as far as relationships go, its not truly something that can be explained in black and white, i think the author of this article has many valid points, that apply to both genders, but they apply to everyone as individuals, in very different ways, some being very off the map that he/she describes.. one of my big things is getting away from how certain things affect only the specified gender, or what these genders are “traditionally” taught…. I say drop the gender roles altogether, and simply just be who you truly are meant to be on the inside, and let it show on the outside.. I may be a straight man, but have always identified more with, and felt more comfortable around, the opposite gender as friends, as well as girlfriends/significant others and what not… I’m never one to objectify my friends, or my relationships, and have been sickened when i see other men do just that because they have issues with emotions stemming back to their childhoods (at least according to this article i’ve read through), its everyone’s own duty to themselves to simply find out who they are, and simply accept it, embrace it, and display it… only then, perhaps despite all negative vibes and harrassment that may ensue from some, (family, friends, strangers or otherwise), and only then can you hope to attract and embrace the right people you were meant to be with, thus hopefully ensuring a more happy life, and a positive outlook. thats my theory and i’m sticking to it…

    • Reply

      Deven, Elizabeth

      1 month ago

      There are the same amount of lesbians, Just now they can show it without being judged as much .
      Seeing as how around 200 years ago almost Women were thought of as property…. so yeah they couldn’t tell you they were lesbians they just had to suffer though sex at their husbands whims and some places at certain point in history if she failed to fulfill his “needs” then he had all rights to rape her.
      So PLEASE don’t say how sooooo many more females are gay, say that they are free to show that they don’t want you.

      • Reply

        Deven, Elizabeth

        1 month ago

        Almost all*

  • Reply

    Thaurin

    1 month ago

    You know, when I was a kid, my teachers noticed that I did not really connect with the other kids and mostly stayed by myself. My parents made me go to a psychologist and to this day I think much of my lack of confidence and self-acceptance stems from this. It made me feel like there was something wrong with me, like I was different from the rest. That’s hard on a kid, but truly, in adulthood this should be positive. The thing about it is accepting your differences, having self-confidence about your own unique personality and freely sharing that identity with those around you with no shame.

  • Reply

    brent

    1 month ago

    typo under the section called “Confronting Your Issues and Winning”. In bullet 1), ever should be never. Cheers

    Brent

  • Reply

    Summer

    1 month ago

    I feel this is a very good article on opening the eyes of many to see what they have a problem with emotionally. It is doesn’t matter if you are female or male we both have the same issues. The social world has impacted our views on what is acceptable and what “should be” all of it is nonsense and too hypothetical to live up to. Everyone needs to find out who they are as an individual before they can figure out who someone else is and is willing to accept.
    To speak on why the comment section was originally placed here…
    I grew up with my mom(Sharon) and a “father” figure (Mike), my mom worked full time as a nurse many different hours so when I saw her I saw her when I didn’t I didn’t. My dad(Terry) on the other hand lived far from us seeing him and my mother divorced when I was young she moved to Florida with me and he stayed in New York. She moved around a lot seeing she was never satisfied with her job working here or working there…in the long run I changed schools almost every where which didn’t really bother me but now I have come to realize that it has helped me to say “good bye” easier or not say it at all, and just move on to the next stop, the next new place. One thing that was constant was My Dad would always send for me during the summer time to stay with him and his family in NY. I could always talk to my dad about anything, but seeing as I could not stay there with him I always separated my thoughts and feelings to just tell him what I needed to. I never could really open up to Sharon and Mike was in and out of work so basically the only income and support for the family was from Sharon. Soon as I turned 16 and could work legally I had 3 jobs and continued to do well in school graduated etc. I leave for college and think ahh finally on my own with no one above me to harp on me for this or rant about that. Then Sharon’s sister Carol calls me on my 18th birthday and tells me Sharon has something to tell me so we meet up at the local Applebee’s and she tells me that my dad is not my biological father. This made me love my Dad even more, now knowing he didn’t have to stay around through all of the hellacious crazy moments of our(Sharon and mine) lives, but he cared enough to. What I am saying is that I learned from Sharon is that if I wanted anything in my life I would have to work for it and not rely on any other person to provide for me, and my dad taught me that if a man cares for you enough he will listen and give you the spoils a “Princess” deserves. All throughout high school and college I slept with different boys and if they got to “close” to really liking and caring for me, my coping mechanism was to sleep with their best friend. Until I grew up or had a “realization” that this was only prohibiting myself from seeing what a “relationship” was like aside from the parental figures in my life. After I gave up acting like this at 19 I met the father of my 2 little boys and we are still together to this day. Yes things aren’t lollipops and candy canes it takes work from both sides. We both immensely hate each other some days but at the end of the day we work through our problems together and always go to sleep with a smile on our faces.
    In all you have to let your “ego, pride, self thoughts” go and just look at the person in front of you and say do I want to put in the time and effort to see if things could work out? And of course the person you are trying to pursue will also have to be at that stage of life as well otherwise it is like going around and around in a circle. Good luck to all those who have preconceived notions that want the best but are not ready to put in the work and time it takes, eventually you will be. Best regards to all.

  • Reply

    Niccolo

    1 month ago

    Can you please make this article available in pdf , so that one can highlight it?

  • Reply

    A

    1 month ago

    I agree with many of the issues you brought up in this article. And while human beings are extremely complex and the article only touches upon the surface of our insecurities, you brought up this great idea of the “emotional map”. I’m only 20 years old but I have an extremely skewed, imperfect idea of sex and relationships. I grew up with divorced parents so never seeing my mom and dad together automatically made me accept the idea that there’s no such thing as happily ever after. My mother dated (and married) many men and as a result I grew a hatred for men that I have yet to shake. In my mind a man is always either trying to subjugate a woman or use her for sex. Going into relationships with that kind of mentality has only set me up for heartache, because no one wants to be around someone who never developed the ability to trust. I have pushed away more men than I can count and I now understand that if i don’t change I could possibly wind up alone.

    • Reply

      Jeff

      3 weeks ago

      You see. Woman’s fault.. Pushed away more guys than she can count… I wonder how many of those times were after sex??? I don’t push away girls.. I always approach with open mind, but I just have shitty luck..

      How many guys do you think you fucked up doing that??

  • Reply

    Jack

    1 month ago

    I actually came to this post because I’m currently living by myself and I rarely ever feel negative emotions, I’m quite emotionally stable, but being alone for long periods of time makes me feel somewhat miserable (makes me miss my ex whom I know I don’t actually want to be with at all and other bullshit irrational thoughts). I’ve never been a good introvert despite preferring to be one a lot of the time.

    I don’t know how this emotional need of “needing there to be someone around or available” or a “lack of feeling alone” relates to my growing up. Not that there weren’t some familial issues I had to deal with as a kid in particular in my teenage years. We actually fought quite a bit during this time, were on the brink of family counseling, ultimately didn’t go because my parents were stubborn and prideful as fuck that they’d rather not help the situation via third party. I once told my mom when I was like 15 that I could see myself hanging from the rafters of our garage, and on my 17th birthday my dad had me pinned up against our house wall and repeatedly slapped me while saying “Happy birthday, Jack.” I actually find the latter story pretty funny now.

    Now I may be stretching for a link that is not there but could my sad states that sometimes occur when I’m alone, this dependent tendency, be because it was me against my parents and I felt alone then?

  • Reply

    Tyler

    1 month ago

    I can’t believe you got rid of ‘What Would Barbarian Fabio Do’….

  • Reply

    Caeser Zaza

    1 month ago

    This is a Good Read Mark Manson. After reading so many Dating books and watching so many movies and series and even stories from friends , i found a conclusion to all this dating and women major project.

    There are three types of guys that get the Girl, The Magician , The Casanova, The Talker. The Talker is the type of guy that always knows what to say in any situation. He finds strength in words. The talker is most of the time the bad looking and poor one but his words have a way of things.
    The Casanova is all about looks and seduction. This one does not need to talk or have that much money.
    The Magician is the rich and famous with power. This is the type of guy that will fly a girl to any part of the world or flick his finger and doors open. His mentality is building first and they will come.
    Now its up-to you to decide which one of these types you want to be and believe me you will get a girl or girls and who knows one of them will turn out to be your wife.

  • Reply

    Nikals

    27 weeks ago

    I have recently started reading your blog, and I’m loving it thus far. I’ve had my fair share of trouble on the dating scene, mostly with insecurity from being fat. But my main baggage is probably form my broken home, divorced parents, and the fact that my father moved to another country. Also living with my mother, who was never really in to my hobbies, and would seldom come to watch me play soccer or any other sports, has left me with some baggage. I will point out that my mother was very supportive and attended anything that had to do with music or arts, just not sports.

    But these events have left me terrified of being abandoned/left, and I will often cling to relationships, being overly committed to soon (in contrary to the more common male phenomena, the fear to commit). Also I will do anything to get attention, and more specifically recognition for what I do/have done. I have also ended relationships just to not be the one who was abandoned/left. I have also a problem with my feelings of anger when I feel abandoned. As when my girlfriend took a job in another city for a year, or lately a summer, I felt so abandoned and angered I immediately sought other relationships, not being unfaithful, but actively searching for possible girlfriends. My need for recognition also show itself when I go out, where I crave confirmation from the opposite sex, so that I “know I still have it, even though I’m fat”…

    I’m trying to work on these, and recognizing and accepting the challenges, is my first step to getting rid of them.

  • Reply

    Joshua The Dreamchaser

    26 weeks ago

    A fear of being unloved or uncared for is a big emotional hangup for me. Another one is a fear of being replaced by somebody else, These two kind of go hand in hand.

    I grew up with siblings that I didn’t particularly like, and my parents always gave them more positive attention than they gave me. Or at least that’s how I always felt. My older brother was my Dad’s favorite, and my little sister was my Mom’s favorite. I never felt like I was important to either of them. I always felt like I had no place, and that my parents could easily replace me for one of my other siblings.

    Around women, I can’t stand feeling like there’s no reciprocation of feelings, or that I’m not important to them. I guess that brushes up against the part of me that always felt like I wasn’t important growing up. I also can’t stand when other men are interested in the same woman as I am, because it brings up the fear that I’d be replaced by them, ignored, and tossed aside as if I were disposable.

    As a result, I’m unwilling to tolerate a woman who can’t openly show her affection towards me. If she’s not outwardly warm and affectionate, I don’t give a shit how pretty she is or how many interests and goals we share together, I will quickly stop pursuing her and move on even if she likes me. When other people dump their emotional baggage on me or talk on and on about some other person, I begin to resent those people deeply–it feels like I’m being used as a punching bag and am replaceable as an emotional outlet–so I am unwilling to be around these people.

  • Reply

    Kristine

    26 weeks ago

    I am afraid that I’m neither worthy of love, or capable of love. Though I have been in love before, that was so long ago… I look back on those years I thought I was in love and I wonder if it really was. Or was it infatuation? Was it merely happy that someone was into me?

    I know this stems from having no loving male influence in my childhood. I had a father and a stepfather, but both cruelly rejected me. We’re I a son, instead of a daughter, I would have received their love. I am grateful I was not a son though, because those men’s immature, selfish vision of love surely would have screwed me up even worse. Because I was not loved by men, I now think I am unlovable, and do not know how to love. These men did not even model love of my mother. Mom was a housekeeper and workmate, not a cherished female companion.

    I dealt for years with this by being hurt, sullen and angry. By toying with men as a form of revenge, to build my own ego. When I should have been building up my heart.

    I am working on overcoming these issues by allowing myself to be loved. Just accepting that people love me. And by going with gut instinct when I feel an emotion that leads me to express my affection and care for someone else. Actually, what has helped me tremendously, is volunteering in my daughter’s elementary school. Those children make no judgments. They just love, and are so open and carefree about expressing it. I get to encourage them, and tell them how wonderful, smart, funny and kind they are. It’s a win-win situation.

    I’ve also stopped remaining in relationships that are lacking in affection, care and consideration. I’m single, and will stay that way until I find a man who can be patient with me, and allow me to open up to him, and that I can be comfortable allowing myself to be loved.

  • Reply

    Anne

    25 weeks ago

    Could you discuss the emotional impact of parents for people of transgender identity, are gender queer, or are gay? Or if parents are single and not by abandonment of a spouse or divorce, but perhaps are surrogate mothers or 2 parents identify as the same gender.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      25 weeks ago

      All evidence that I’ve seen is that gender identity is biologically-based and parents have little to do with it. As far as the effects same-sex parents have on their children, the American Psychological Association did a big meta-analysis of dozens of studies and came to the conclusion that the gender identity of the parents has little to no effect on the development of children.

  • Reply

    james

    21 weeks ago

    I have an intense fear of abandonment and I’m not entirely sure why. Stable family and everything else. I also have a fear of sexual intimacy or expressing sexual interest to the opposite sex. My mom raised me religiously and condemned any form of sex outside of marriage. Moreover, she couldn’t talk about sex openly or would condemn it. And if one were to breach these rules she effectively said God wouldn’t love you (or you’d go to hell) which my childhood brain likely interpreted as: if you demonstrate sexual needs you will not be loved.

    The first girl I almost dated as a teenager wanted to get sexual and I was uncomfortable with the intimacy and stopped picking up her calls for weeks until she moved on. Then I intensely wanted her back and was filled with rage and feelings of unworthiness.

    I have always been the nice guy around women…not saying anything they would disapprove of or cause them to not like me and definitely not expressing sexual interest or making a move because of unconscious fears that they would not love me if I did this. Or I would resent women because they did not return my unstated and bottled up love/desire/affection and would be surly or push them away effectively beating them to the punch of rejecting me.

    I finally got a girlfriend using alcohol and ecstasy to overcome my initial fears of intimacy until I could express love/sexual interest soberly. Then the situation changed as I entered a job and feared she would leave me because of the situation. In addition, I no longer could drink often with her. I lost all of my sexual confidence and started acting very deferential to her in sexual and other matters. I wasn’t fully aware of my fear of abandonment at the time, but looking back on it this fear changed the way I interacted with her. She inevitably lost attraction to me after a couple months of this and the rejection sent me into an intense depression and rekindled all feelings of worthlessness and unloveability.

    Is there any way to discover or transcend this deep sense of unworthiness? It affects platonic relationships too…I’m overly concerned about what other people will think so I try to fit in rather than expressing my authentic self, and I’ve been doing this and repressing emotions for so many years that I do not know who my authentic self is anymore.

  • Reply

    Abby

    20 weeks ago

    When I was a teenager my brother tried to kill himself and my parents contemplated divorce. Both my parents and my brother used me as a therapist and I learned to disconnect my emotions from the situation. I also learned that a relationship is a lot of hard work, which my parents did and they stayed together. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and in an effort to not deal with my own psychological problems I began dating guys that needed a therapist. I would stay in terrible relationships determined to help these guys and believing that if I gave up I was just another idiot who believed in unrealistic happy endings. Now people say my standards are too high, but I’d rather be alone than with someone I’d have to emotionally or financially support. Now I’m still helping people as a social worker, but I worked hard to be independent and that is something I desire in a potential mate.

  • Reply

    Zgirl

    17 weeks ago

    I think that its really sad that the comments on this article have steered away from focusing on each of our own emotional baggage and dealing with it in a healthy manner and instead turned into a blame and shame game on trivial things such as gender, modern society and sexuality preference. In my opinion focusing on these traits are the complete opposite of what this article was trying to say. Instead of projecting and scapegoating certain people or making rash over generalizations we should recognize that each of us unconsciously determines the way we act, choose and mold our relationships with people.
    Its not easy to hear, and it has taken me awhile to stop blaming “men” for the reason why I can’t seem to settle down with anyone but I finally realized that my trust issues and low self-esteem is what guided me to choose the overly-confident and egotistical type of men (since its a trait I am/was severely lacking) and push away any of the ones who tried to get close to me (fear of abandonment that I experienced with my father & not feeling good enough for anyone I wanted because I could never satisfy my mothers expectations and only ended up disappointing her). Thus putting me in a constantly self-destructive cycle of wanting of what I couldn’t have, and once I got it, not wanting it, which only really hurt myself in the end.
    However, before I understood this it was so easy for myself to blame the guys and claim all men as being “assholes” as the reason why I wasn’t in a relationship, when in fact I was the one sabotaging them. First because it was a defense mechanism and easier to blame someone else than to see undesirable traits in yourself and also because of this unhealthy pattern I was inadvertently going after the same type of men, expecting different results and when it happened over and over again hating them, or blaming my physical appearance as the reason why I was alone which lead me to a severe eating disorder.
    After going through that and not having my physical appearance change the way I was being treated I realized it had nothing to do with my looks or what guys thought of me, but the way I thought of myself that lead me to choose such poor choices in men. If I couldn’t love myself, I expected validation from a man of higher status, and assuming the ones who did want to form that relationship as weak, of low status, or that there had to be something wrong with them.
    Its still something that I struggle with on a daily basis, but coming to terms with this bit by bit has helped me understand more about myself and the people with whom I associate with in every type of relationship. I agree with what Mark said, that we cannot expect to fully eliminate our baggage, but we can willingly make a choice to not let it rule and take control over our lives.

    • Reply

      jeff

      3 weeks ago

      You see though… Not many men willingly push away girls who are attracted to them or like them.. More often than not, they engage, talk to them, and legitimatley want to date them… That is solely a female trait, and fucks up more and more innocent men every every..

      I got destroyed by a girl when I was younger… girls are simply immature in the dating scene and don’ care about someone’s feelings..

  • Reply

    Crystal

    11 weeks ago

    Daddy issues right here! My parents divorced when I was 3, and daddy was a bit of a rolling stone, if you will…..and I will! He was a drug abuser and a womanizer and I never saw much of him, yet longed for his love, affection, and approval. Fast forward through years of growing up without much of a male role model in my life, I found myself constantly seeking the attention and affection of men, much in the same way I had always wanted my father’s. I recognize this and have greatly improved, but I’m definitely still a work in progress.
    The question I pose is this….How is it that I am supposed to be vulnerable to the extent I share my wants and needs upfront, without sending the man running for the hills? I can see where someone who has issues with commitment wouldn’t really have this problem, bc you’re asking for space. I on the other hand am asking for the opposite; someone I can trust and who will commit. Most men want to run when they hear a woman speak these words, no matter how beautiful, eloquent, or humurous she is. I would greatly appreciate any advice on this. Thanks!

  • Reply

    Dan Chen

    10 weeks ago

    I grew up in an Asian household with parents and a domineering older brother that didn’t have a lot of time for my twin brother and I. My brother and I were the youngest of our generation and unplanned, so we were alone for a lot of our childhood, and never received a lot of attention.

    Growing up, I had very few friends, and spent most of my adolescence talking only with my twin brother and playing video games and reading. It wasn’t until college that I decided to start socializing and breaking out of my shell. It wasn’t until I was 23 that I had my first serious girlfriend. All the ones prior I either thought I wasn’t good enough for or I was afraid to express my interest openly in.

    Even with my recent relationship, I always felt like I wanted to be in control. I loved the validation, but I always thought I could do better and went out a lot, and made it clear to her I didn’t really appreciate her.

    I haven’t gotten close to my mom until recently, only because of seeing how my girlfriend interacts with her mom, and I have a habit of pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

  • Reply

    jules

    10 weeks ago

    comment reply to chrystal
    Yes! what a great question! i hope someone can give some insight.
    Thing is also, I just put this problem away because there seemed to be no room for it. Asking for space is i guess, no seems easier to me than asking for: please i need you to always be here but just so i can trust you and we can both of course have our own life.

    thanks, i guess that us the “parent” part that the early needs are in need of to fulfil.
    Someone who acts like a parent a rock you can always come back to while you start to explore the world.

    The relationship with ny mother and father is still not really healthy. i guess i dont want to talk about that too quickly, as it is something i feel ashamed of, and even if i don’t the other will feel ashamed for me. and scared and rejecting.

    seems the fuck yes applies here too (lol) as when you have cool people around they want to listen to what you have to say

    leaves it that i find it extremely difficult to be committed AND live my own life at the same time (lookig at codep yes).
    And the feeling of irriplaceablement of the other. i dont want to trial, i want to be with this person. looking at the 3 loves,i surely commit very quick,i might better say, my brain is wired to commit quick. its not so much a choice, or was as i might be able to do something about it.
    See i was a twin in the womb, so my brains are more focused on “another” .
    The husband who after 20y feels the same about the idea of him or his wife in a car accident…
    I can feel like that after very short time. I think my mirror neurons work different.
    This has been emphasized by my upbringing. I only now see how my parents emotional problems co tributed to this.

    Mark would you write about your narcissistic attitude? what did you do what dis the shes do? What was tge emotional motivation behind it?

    Thanks for writing the way you write mark.

  • Reply

    Jim

    8 weeks ago

    In lieu of reading this article, I need to dump. If for no other reason than to get it out of my system and possibly hear an unbiased voice. This really hit home.

    I was sent out into the world hardly a man. My dad was extremely emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive. It’s a wonder I didn’t become a menace to society and spend most of my life in jail. Instead, relationships became my Achilles heel. I’ve noticed that the past several women I’ve really fallen for are eerily similar. Obviously they had their own deep emotional issues with past abuses, tended to like the “badass” poser types, had tattoos, spent time with bikers, and jumped from man to man. Somehow I caught their attention. I’m a good looking guy, have that sensitivity and connectivity personality that they seem to go nuts over and as a result have very intense relationships. I’m certainly not feeling like I was their type, considering not only who they had dated before me, but who they ended up marrying after me. Yes, I said marrying. Ever see the movie Good Luck Chuck? Not kidding….so very much me. Problem is I end up feeling like I lost someone to death when these relationships end. It’s pitiful.

    So now I’m actually questioning my masculinity. Seeing the types of guys I lose these women to makes me question how “rough” and “tough” and “badass” I really am. How really did I attract them in the first place, being consistently told how different I was more than anyone they had ever met, and yet now, it’s like I’m despised and utter scum. They were beautiful, passionate women, but very troubled in lieu of the behaviors I saw…lying, cheating, “changing their minds”. I can’t help but feel too that my own insecurity pushed them away because I just wasn’t “bad” enough.

    I now have a wonderful, mature, intuitive, empathetic, and compassionate woman vying for my attention, whom would probably be perfect for me. She isn’t as attractive to me as these other women in the same natural way, and she’s much more refined, has tons of emotional maturity, and is truly showing me what love can look like. But I’m having a problem…. I’m not feeling it like I have and I’m fighting it because I know I should.

  • Reply

    Yigit

    6 weeks ago

    Well, like everyone, I have wounds too.

    I think the most significant one is that, I was bullied really hard by people I considered friends in high school. My self-esteem was torn apart again and again, and every time I seemed to trust these guys, I have been frustrated and disappointed once more. They abused my need to be connected with someone and abandoned me several times one after the other. Because of this, I really have problems in opening up to people now in general. I have a deep problem of trust with people. I just do not think that I can ever get true commitment and love in any kind of relationship, both in friendships and sexual ones.

    Another thing reinforcing this is that I was abandoned by the girls I loved a few times.

    I have developed a solution over porn. I used to use porn very frequently, like 3-4 times a day. I had a whole year once, without a single friend. I might have connected feeling of commitment with pain and abandonment. I just never feel safe with a person.

    This is my biggest problem in relationships I guess. When I am thinking of doing an approach, I just say “oh, this one is going to be really bitchy and not going to respect my dignity.”. Or when I do not get this “fuck yes” vibe from the other person, when I invite her to a date, I say “oh, shes just going to satisfy her ego and then dump me.”, “shes playing hard to get”. Or when I am done with a date, I never want to leave that person, because I believe, she will just realize something (maybe her mistake) and then grow cold to me and then never come back to me. Or whenever I get LMR, I just think “oh, she is negotiating again her intimacy, she wants to use me.” and then I grow cold.

    I need relationships and commitment with other people, but I just feel really intimidated when I want to invest in them and develop them.

    I know these are all stereotypes. I guess I have to take some responsibility and take my power back.

  • Reply

    Mike

    5 weeks ago

    Most women today are nothing like the real good old fashion women like we had years ago.

    • Reply

      Sara

      4 weeks ago

      Ditto that…sort-of: Most men today are nothing like the real good old fashioned men like we had years ago. I used to say this, and believe it, often enough that I realized one day that it was such a cop-out. Men and women TODAY are equally nothing like they USED to be because the times are a’ changin’…and they are going to keep on changin’, thank God [or the universe, or whatever]. It’s so hard to date in these modern times because all of us seem to just be bumbling along, trying to adapt to all of these changes, and some people seem to bump into others that they feel they can bumble along with early on, while the rest of us seem to just be taking our time figuring it all out. I don’t think, though, that this should call for a female-bashing or male-bashing War of the Sexes diatribe. Perhaps if we can just recognize that we ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS [love, acceptance, generosity, to build a life with someone] and can patiently accept that it takes time to find that person who is willing to bumble along with you, then maybe we wouldn’t be so quick-to-judge, or too hasty to decide, or too reminiscent for an era that has come and gone. I like the idea of creating a new way of living according to what the environment is nowadays, and finding that cool dude who is just as open to the notion. What’s interesting to me is how many people out there are mentally sick (and I mean diagnosable) and are looking for a “good woman/man to take care of me”, and so they prey on people who don’t suffer from such things thinking that this is a viable match. Who in their right mind would want that? I think people definitely need to figure out their shit before they start swimming in the sea of love, and perhaps this is where things have gotten muddled. There is a great deal of sick fish out there, and it takes a discerning eye (and ear!) to weed through them all! Which, of course, takes time….ANYWAYYyyy…for what its worth, right?

  • Reply

    halafradrimx

    4 weeks ago

    I’m a 22 years old virgin male. Since My early teens, I’d been wanting a girlfriend. Problem is : I’ve never been good with either social skills or being “normal”. My face, which looks a lot likely from a jailed sociopath, doesn’t helps much either. Even though I’m freaky and have many weird manias I can’t control… such as talking to myself, wild and semi-epileptic twitchs, very weird points of view and frequently being obnoxious about every and little non-verbal or non-explicit message.

    Result is : I’ve built up a lot of frustration. Of. every.type.possible. It came to the point that I think it started to get psychiatric. No kidding. It’s affecting my physic functions.

    I wasn’t like that in the past. I used to be brighter about life, more optimistic, confident and not-so-caring about the effects it could have on me. That until the problems bit me back, of course.

    But what the hell does all that have to do with dating? Well, women are, generally speaking, self-protective beings and they tend to freak out at the smallest of signals. Signals which, you probably know of, are far less “freaky” than mine. You can imagine what happened with me through life, right? Now make it 10 times worse. You’re starting to get close to how bad my dating life is. Barely.

    I lost all confidence in myself… up to the point that I don’t even blame people anymore for rejecting me. “She is probably right about her decision. Surely picking up a better man is the wisest choice. In her feet, I’d do the same.” At the beginning it was the classical “What a bitch. Waste of my time…”

    It came to the point that even trying is a serious painful experience and, due to that, I can’t do a proper interaction, many times leading to a rejection. I’ve been rejected more than 50 times, consecutively. Everytime someone says “No” to me, a piece of me dies with it.

    The psychiatric problem I developed feels like there is an alter-ego of me, only there to punish me and say “You’re not good enough, dipshit.” “By the gods! Do you call that a conversation?! Just give it up, loser!” “Can’t you see she’s not into it?” “I HATE YOU! JUST DIE!” “Why must you be so horrible and not-good-enough? Can’t you see you’re making me suffer? You are a heartless fucker! I hope you have a horrible death!”

    It feels that I won’t ever be able to recover my confidence ever again due to that… And that I’ll never be able to find a person who’ll care about me in any way.

    Funniest part is : I’ve been learning how to cook, about dating, female psycology, interaction, asked all of the women I socialize with – barely – how and why women feel that and this way… etc. But no matter what or how I improve in myself… It never seems to be of any use at all… never enough.

    At this point, I don’t want illusions anymore. I’d just like answers… anything will do.

    “You’re crazy, live with that, sucker.”

    “Some people were not meant to live in society or to be accepted at all. It is a cold and hard fact.”

    “Women will never like some type of men. I’m sorry.”

    “You probably lack so basic skills that it’s impossible to ‘train’ you to live in society or to get a girlfriend or whatever.”

    “Your subconscious is not allowing you because of X,Y and Z.”

    Any mean, cruel or cold answer will do. All I’d want was to know why I suck so hard with everyone.

  • Reply

    Minsky

    4 weeks ago

    The problem is that there is nothing rational about dating and relationships. So no advice or commentary or deluded psychobabble will help people who have problems in this area; there is no recourse, only haves and have nots. You are either successful in it or you aren’t; you win the lottery or you don’t. Read all the books you want; in the end it’s all about whether your lottery ticket is a winner or not.

    In fact, subjecting relationships to rational analysis single-handedly ruins them. For example, subject a relationship to a rational risk/reward analysis, in which a relationship is an investment–an investment of time, money, and emotional energy whose goal is to yield returns equal or greater than the cost of the investment.

    But the thing is, it’s an awful, awful investment. Consider–

    A.) You get NO returns if the relationship fails, and are more likely than not to see negative returns instead–all the money you spent will net you a big nothing (what exactly did you gain from all the money you spent on dinner, a night out at the movies, anniversary gifts, etc. after the relationship has gone sour and ended?) and all the time and energy you spent will net you only pain and suffering if the relationship does not work out. Sure, it was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t last, and all the happiness you felt can no longer be recalled except as a painful reminder that you are no longer in possession of said happiness.

    B.) All romantic relationships fail except for ones that result in some kind of lifetime partnership; and half of all marriages fail. The resultant odds are the odds you’ll see any positive ROI on a given relationship

    C.) Experience is not required to succeed in relationships, so a failed relationship does not produce positive returns on the grounds of providing ‘experience.’ If experience WAS required, things might be different, but the preponderance of marriages between people who had little to no dating experience before meeting their spouse proves it is ancillary to the TRUE deciding factor–compatibility and favorable circumstances. (i.e., chance)

    Ultimately, when subjected to rational analysis, relationships essentially mimic the risk/reward of a lottery ticket that costs a lot of energy, money and time. They are unequivocally bad investments–you can justify paying the price for a Powerball ticket because its costs are so small relative to the payout you get if you beat the one-in-a-gazillion odds. But would buying a Powerball ticket make any sense if it cost, say, a few thousand dollars, a sizeable time and labor commitment, and left you with sour memories and potential psychological/emotional trauma should your number prove not to be the winning one? Well, that’s your gamble when you enter into a relationship.

  • Reply

    Minsky

    4 weeks ago

    (Apologies if this is double-posted–wasn’t sure whether I submitted my comment correctly or not)

    The problem is that there is nothing rational about dating and relationships. So no advice or commentary or deluded psychobabble will help people who have problems in this area; there is no recourse, only haves and have nots. You are either successful in it or you aren’t; you win the lottery or you don’t. Read all the books you want; in the end it’s all about whether your lottery ticket is a winner or not.

    In fact, subjecting relationships to rational analysis single-handedly ruins them. For example, subject a relationship to a rational risk/reward analysis, in which a relationship is an investment–an investment of time, money, and emotional energy whose goal is to yield returns equal or greater than the cost of the investment.

    But the thing is, it’s an awful, awful investment. Consider–

    A.) You get NO returns if the relationship fails, and are more likely than not to see negative returns instead–all the money you spent will net you a big nothing (what exactly did you gain from all the money you spent on dinner, a night out at the movies, anniversary gifts, etc. after the relationship has gone sour and ended?) and all the time and energy you spent will net you only pain and suffering if the relationship does not work out. Sure, it was nice while it lasted, but it didn’t last, and all the happiness you felt can no longer be recalled except as a painful reminder that you are no longer in possession of said happiness.

    B.) All romantic relationships fail except for ones that result in some kind of lifetime partnership; and half of all marriages fail. The resultant odds are the odds you’ll see any positive ROI on a given relationship

    C.) Experience is not required to succeed in relationships, so a failed relationship does not produce positive returns on the grounds of providing ‘experience.’ If experience WAS required, things might be different, but the preponderance of marriages between people who had little to no dating experience before meeting their spouse proves it is ancillary to the TRUE deciding factor–compatibility and favorable circumstances. (i.e., chance)

    Ultimately, when subjected to rational analysis, relationships essentially mimic the risk/reward of a lottery ticket that costs a lot of energy, money and time. They are unequivocally bad investments–you can justify paying the price for a Powerball ticket because its costs are so small relative to the payout you get if you beat the one-in-a-gazillion odds. But would buying a Powerball ticket make any sense if it cost, say, a few thousand dollars, a sizeable time and labor commitment, and left you with sour memories and potential psychological/emotional trauma should your number prove not to be the winning one? Well, that’s your gamble when you enter into a relationship.

  • Reply

    Yureon

    3 weeks ago

    Yeah women are certainly the perpetrators in the difficulty dynamic everyone is talking about.
    Feminism is the big thing too that has caused much damage, especially in America and developed countries.
    Yes we men initiate everything and women be passive about. Because they are passive in dating that gives them the power, but guess what?
    Our assertiveness gets us way farther in every other aspect of life thus making them inferior by default (yes I went there.)
    So now because we took action to be successful with work and everything else we became dominant in, they want to cry foul and demand equality.
    These same hypocrits claim they are “oppressed” in America but wouldn’t dare get between a 15 year old shepherd and his Ak and a woman
    tied to a post about to be executed.

    They demand equality but yet want no part of being equal in the dating world and only have things handed to them.
    The won’t approach won’t email first, and ever make plans. It’s 100 percent the man.
    This is just simply fact,

  • Reply

    Jeff

    3 weeks ago

    I think the problem lies with women in my opinion.. I will be the first to admit that I have emotional scars, and a hard time with intimacy, but it is so hard for a decent okay looking guy today to find a girl who is normal.. (i.e. isn’t cheating on current partner, isn’t just sleeping around, isn’t always looking for something better).

    I am not to hard to please, you know.. I don’t need or want a really attractive girl… I feel the more attractive they are, the more judgmental they are. I just want someone to talk to, to hang out with, and every girl always has some baggage. Some douchbag bf they had, who of course they still talk to…

    I feel like girls do about as bad a job as they can when trying to size someone up… which is why some girl is always dating a douche.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      3 weeks ago

      Funny, I get emails from women every day saying the exact same things about men.

      For what it’s worth, you’re both wrong. The problem is people. They’re flawed. Work on yourself. Good relationships will follow. Start by ending your sexist beliefs.

  • Reply

    L

    3 weeks ago

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for this article, it really hit home and I agree with a lot of what you are saying.

    My recent life experiences have motivated me to identify and face my fears and insecurities head on. The said life experience was being in a 5 year relationship with a man who was my first everything, marrying him at 24 and divorcing him 1 short year later when he became emotionally and physically abusive once we were married.

    This experience has been the source of shame and embarrassment bc I blame myself for having selected a mate so poorly. I am an attractive professional with a great career and it seems silly to have failed so miserably in this aspect of my life.

    Since the divorce, I have done a lot of soul searching and wondered what drew me to him in the first place. And I have to say a lot of it had to do with the unmet emotional needs I had in childhood. My family actively discouraged expressing feelings and emotions, my parents were never warm and affectionate. And I now realize that I crave these things in my romantic relationships. I was also young and naive and ignored other signs of incompatibility.

    While this life experience has definitely left a scar(I am terrified of commitment and often remain emotionally detached) I do see ways that it has changed me and opened my heart. My fear is that my experience will consume me and thus, I have taken steps to meet new people, put myself out there and take baby steps towards becoming a more emotionally whole individual.

    For a long time, I wanted to heal my scars by myself so I wouldn’t depend on or need anyone and therefore wouldn’t feel loss. But you’re right, relationships are about dealing with your baggage together and finding someone who’s baggage you can tolerate and healing/growing in the process of being vulnerable. It’s a beautiful thing. And this process of growth has been the silver lining to a very dark cloud of an experience.

  • Reply

    Patrick

    6 days ago

    Great article Mark. Reading your article helped me put a few issues into focus. for that i’m very grateful.

    Where to start… Growing up i don’t ever remember having issues talking to girls/women and/or showing my affection to them. I remember between grade 1 and 2 being the pinnacle of my comfort approaching any member of the opposite sex. If i had a crush on Kelsey, then you could bet your lunch money that i was going to make my way to her next recess and she would know how i felt. All this without one morsel of fear of rejection. This behavior could not be farther from where i find myself today as a responsible, passion driven man.

    Where did it all go wrong? Well, after reading this article i finally ” connected the dots”. just before the end of 2nd grade my father had left us. He had sat me down in his big red car before work and we had a really nice talk about life, responsibilities, my mother and sister and that he would always love me and to never forget it. At the time i was just happy spending a few moments with my dad ( who FYI had always been a great father to me. always Made the time for me no matter what). Well little did i know that THAT morning in particular would be the very last time i would ever see my father.

    Once he was out of our lives, it was just my mother, my sister and I. My mother made miracles every day since. For a woman who starved herself so we could eat, worked two jobs and continued to be there emotionally for us delinquents ( sister and I haha), she really made our situation work. I even remember coming home at the last day of school before the summer and seeing the house completely empty, my moms voice calling me to the basement. She had setup a tent, fake fire pit, sleeping bags and crowded the walls of the room with plants she had grown. she said ” this summer we’re camping guys!”. Well we all had a truly magical summer, one I will never forget. Even when kids were telling tales of their families trips across the globe or to disneyland, I would just think to myself ” that is NOTHING like how awesome my summer was!”. In hind site i realize how naive i was at that age. there was nothing in the house because mom had to sell everything we owned to settle debt my father had left us with. BUT My mom made it work.

    Getting back to when my father had left, it was in that same moment i can see the major changes to how I dealt with girls/women. Since then I’ve literally avoided talking to women simply because (i realize now that is) of my fear of rejection. I am absolutely afraid of rejection and i believe its due to some major abandonment issues I’ve harbored for years due to my father leaving.

    Now, i did meet an amazing woman quite a few years back. I fell in love with her the very first moment we both reached the summit of a mountain we decided to climb that morning. we had a surprisingly healthy relationship, we communicated in an open and positive manner, we always compromised with each other and there was always a large amount of acceptance and understanding between us. I knew she was the one i would spend the rest of my life with, so i asked her hand in marriage. Even dragged the poor woman up that same mountain to propose to her. she said yes and we were engaged.

    She eventually left me, apparently she had never wanted to say yes but was too afraid of what would happen if she had said no. needless to say i was devastated and have spent the past 6 years working on moving on.

    I’ve found it extremely difficult to go up to a woman i find attractive and start a conversation. 9/10 times I had defeated myself before even fighting the battle so to speak. However, i’ve always pushed myself to keep working at it. day by day, bit by bit. No matter how many times i’ve put myself out on a limb, 99% of the time i’m met with nothing but Rude, calous, insensitive and untruthful remarks attacking not only me, but men as a whole. Where did all this viciousness come from? Well growing up with an older sister who’s friends were constantly venting to me about everything and also trying to mold me into the ideal man, i had learnt about how many men treat women. I was blown away as in my house growing up, one had to be a gentleman and respectful of a woman and her independence.

    Its no wonder why many women these days have their guard up. They’ve literally had to put on this “facade” to be left alone. honestly, I can’t blame them. If i were in their shoes i might be doing the same thing. Alas, i’m no woman nor have i ever had to fend anyone interested off as I’ve never had anyone make that dreaded/nervous/scarry/exciting walk over to introduce themselves to me before. But i’ll take in in good faith that it can be justified.

    Taking all that in, I still find it extremely unsatisfying to “play the dating game”. maybe its due to the fear of rejection or that eventually they will leave and i will be alone, or maybe i’m meant to focus my time and energy into my art and career as a tattoo artist. i dont know. All i know is that I am a man who cares greatly for others, takes responsibility for my actions, treats others how i want to be treated and i live my life with passion and integrity. These are all qualities i’ve been told are hard to come by and are sought after by women. All of which are completely overlooked or completely exagerated.

    It frustrates me greatly. Having been taught how to be a proper, loving, caring, vulnerable, strong, passionate, romantic, capable, responsible, humorous, thoughful man It still leaves me on the sidelines. The women i’ve met who do see these values and dont immediately throw me to the curb have been wonderful, but like the cliche goes, i’m thrown into the “Friend Zone”. Dont get me wrong, i’ve been greatful for everysingle last one them being in my life and for the friendship they’ve shown me…but something’s gotta give.

    So until that “magical” moment when the planets align and the stars favor me, i’m just going to keep living my life to the best of my ability and constantly challenge myself. Not to be a man who can “get the girl” but to be a better person, through and through with values and integrity.

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