Hi, Evan. This question is inspired by the Does Acting Like A Man Mean Acting Like A Jackass? post on your blog. I’m a woman, and I’m a stud. Anyway, I always kind of felt that I was. I am/was good-looking, bright, charming, witty, successful with “the boys,” etc. Over the years, my intelligence and emotional unavailability have separated me from the sluts – male and female. No shocker, I was raised in a volatile, withholding environment and am most comfortable in superficial relationships. In fact, I run into the sunset when confronted with the possibility of commitment. Yes, I am a prize. ? Before I get a pat on the back for my self-awareness, though, I need to confess that it’s taken me decades to recognize this stuff about myself, and, over those decades, I’ve hurt some very good men (and some real assholes, which is tough to regret, but which I do regret in a kind of Buddhist way). And I’ve hurt myself. What’s saddest, and what I think is sad for so many of us “studs”, is that we may never know true intimacy. What a waste of a life. I remember from a college psych class that Freud wrote life was comprised only of “love and work, work and love”, so us illustrious studs basically suck. My question: have you or your wife known any women who, at a late date, wanted to mend their ways, and actually managed to do so? -Lynn

Dear Lynn,

Even though you told me not to, I’m going to pat you on the back for your self-awareness.

It doesn’t mean that you’ve conquered the problem, but at least you admitted you had one, which puts you far ahead of all of the women who simply blame men for everything that goes wrong in a relationship. Check out the comments below. You’re sure to see them there.

I wish more men would start realizing that they’re the own source of their unhappiness.

Although your question is very similar to this one, which I wrote a few years back, I wanted to see if I could shed some new light on your situation.

First of all, I think it’s brave of you to throw yourself on the sword and admit that you’ve been – in essence – dating like a guy, and committing the same emotional crimes as men regularly commit. I only wish more men would start realizing that they’re the own source of their unhappiness, with their relentless pursuit of younger, thinner, prettier, at the neglect of their own long-term self interests. It’s not until something clicks in men and they realize that finding a woman who makes them feel good is paramount that love is possible.

Otherwise it’s simply chemistry and a list of impressive credentials chasing chemistry and a list of impressive credentials.

My friend Onna said something to me the other day that blew me away, so I wrote it down. Onna’s 39 and has been through tons of ups and downs with men since I’ve known her. She’s become very close with my wife and I – and through our conversations and her devotion to my material, she’s transformed herself into one very happy woman, complete with an alpha boyfriend.

Here’s what she said that really blew me away: “I found Mr. Right when I stopped making men wrong.”

And if there’s one thing I rail against on this blog – even while I’m giving advice to women – it’s making blanket statements about what’s wrong with men and how they “should” be a certain way – presumably doing everything that YOU want them to do.

(The same thing, by the way, could be said about men who cling to the “women are crazy” line and choose not to date the many sane ones out there.)

Until we all start choosing partners based on their character, kindness, integrity and emotional generosity, we’re pretty much doomed to repeat these cycles over and over.

Back to you, Lynn, because you want to know if there’s a chance in hell that you’re going to be able to turn this ship around before it’s too late.

Absolutely.

Because as much as we proclaim things like “I can’t help how I feel”, at the end of the day, love is a choice. A choice that we make every day and with every interaction. We all have our self interests at heart and make decisions that should, ostensibly, lead us to happiness. The problem, of course, is that we’re irrational decision makers. Men try to hold onto the hot, charismatic woman who makes his life a living hell. Women try to hold onto the hot, charismatic man who will never commit. And in between, we have interludes with the nicest, purest, most earnest partners who could completely make us happy, if we’d ever actually let them.

Instead we say, “it’s too easy” or “it’s too boring” or “I like more of a challenge” or “I don’t feel the ‘spark'” or “I love him but I’m not ‘in love’ with him”.

Once you make the decision to stop being lonely and start being vulnerable and authentic, everything comes a lot easier.

Once you make the decision to stop being lonely and start being vulnerable and authentic, everything comes a lot easier.

The best example I have at my access is a new client in her early 60’s. She’s a tough woman – whip smart, driven, opinionated – with a very clear idea about how the world should work.

After one week of working together, she wanted to quit.

I didn’t let her. I reminded her why she came to me in the first place. I let her know she was running from the challenge to see into her blind spots and would miss out on something really valuable.

She gave me another chance.

Four weeks later, she told me that something had shifted in her, based on something I said.

The man she’d been seeing for 6 months – the man about whom she was ambivalent – the man she was figuring out how to dump so she could put up her online dating profile… that man was finally finding his way into her heart.

The moment she knew something had shifted was when he said that he wanted to go to church and understand her spiritual life. If he didn’t, it would be hard for them to be truly intimate.

No man had ever spoken to her like that before.

No man had ever taken in interest in her like that before.

And now she stood on the precipice of true love, debating whether she should run and hide or walk into the light.

On our phone conversation, I told her it was a no-brainer.

“You finally found a man who makes you feel heard, understood and safe. That’s what it’s all about. Just let him in and you’ll have a beautiful life together. He loves you. He’s not going to hurt you.”

She instantly started crying.

This was something that she’d been avoiding for her entire life – finding a man who made her feel heard, understood and safe. Instead, she chose men who were more man than she was – the 5% of guys who had bigger balls, bigger egos and bigger wallets. And she had nothing but heartbreak to show for it.

If you’re ready to mend your ways, Lynn, the opportunity is yours for the taking. It just might mean letting go of your idea of how it’s supposed to look, and discovering how amazing life can be when you find a partner whose greatest trait isn’t his square jaw, tireless ambition, or brilliant writing skills, but, rather, his desire to love you unconditionally, despite your flaws.

Let me know how it goes for you.