Category: Understanding men

  • 9 Reasons why men lose interest — and what you can do about it

    Here’s a most excellent letter about a question that every woman has asked at some point in her life:

    “Why is it that a guy fiercely pursues a woman at first, and then when he finds out she is actually interested he is not so sure if he is interested anymore? And then his interest wanes and he starts treating her like an option instead of a priority? When can you let a guy know you are interested! At what stage? Is dating just one big game? How do you get a guy to treat you like priority instead of an option? For background, I’m 29, live in Australia, and I’ve been on 5 dates with this guy so far but we haven’t kissed yet.” — Sheila

    Well well. An excellent question that has been posed by women since time immemorial. There he was, totally interested, looking dapper in his buffalo skin while nonchalantly swinging his club at the cave entrance, offering you some freshly killed mastodon meat. There he was, showing up outside your castle window every day in his mostly shiny but frankly also a little rusty armor, strumming his lute and warbling his troubadour songs. There he was at the opera house, his head low and eyes up giving him that simultaneously worshipful and conspiratorial look, passing you a note saying, “Meet me at the fountain when the clock tower strikes nine.” There he was, texting you right back when you texted him, even asking you out on actual grown-up dates to actual grown-up places like concerts and lectures, and then… poof.

    What is up with that?! Why do men lose interest? What, if anything, could you have done differently? (more…)

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  • “How Will I Ever Trust a Man Again?” + A Good Day for America

    First of all, a massive congratulations to all Americans today for the Supreme Court’s landmark decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states. Such a breakthrough would have been unthinkable even twenty years ago.

    Unfortunately, discrimination against homosexuals has been around for much longer than that. Fortunately, as Martin Luther King Jr put it so eloquently, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” In the past hundred years, we’ve gotten the vote for women and racial minorities, improved access to higher education for women and minorities, reduced violence significantly (The Better Angels of Our Nature: How Violence Has Decreased Over Time is a fantastic read on this), criminalized torture, stopped burning witches at the stake, nearly eradicated slavery, and seen democracy progressively displace hereditary tyranny all over the world.

    Although I’d like to think that, “Geez, isn’t this the way things should have been all along?,” the fact is that for nearly all of human history, people have been pretty nasty to each other. So it is with a joyous heart that I say halleluuuujah, it’s about time, and I for one will not take this for granted. There will always be meanies, but the good guys eventually win. San Francisco’s already lit up in rainbow colors all over the place, but with this announcement, the whole town’s going to go certified bonkers.

    In the meantime, we’ve had some interesting letters in the past week. Let’s see what the e-mailman brung: (more…)

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  • Clooney’s Curse, Online Lying & the Dilemma of the Great Man

    Letter of the day:

    Dr Ali, love your work…thank you so much. I realize you probably get hundreds of emails, but I hope you can reply to me. Question: Met a great guy online — a gentleman, courteous, considerate. Except he obviously lied about his height by 5 or 6 inches. Is this a red flag? Thank you, Tracy

    Tracy – Thanks for the kind words! I actually don’t get hundreds of emails. I get hundreds of thousands of emails. Per hour.

    Many of them are trying to sell me walk-in tubs, which I hear are all the rage these days. There’s the occasional well-meaning gentleman from Nigeria who wants to deposit a few million dollars in my bank account out of the goodness of his heart, Canadian pharmacies that are very concerned about my love life, and a lot of ladies with Russian-sounding names who somehow know that I’m a cat person and want to show me their kitten – on a webcam, no less!

    The crazy thing is, they’re all total stangers! And yet, so generous. The outpouring of love online is just (more…)

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  • Mailbag: Can you make a messy guy tidy up?

    I’ve got some interesting letters that I’d like to share with you. First, a quick announcement: the next Tao LIVE will be happening in San Francisco on Tuesday, 10 June, 7-9pm. Format is 30-40min talk followed by Q&A. Topic of the day is The Tao of Bliss: How to Feel Great in Your Body All the Time. Click here to get tickets on Eventbrite. Come on down if you’re in town. I’ve only got room for 30 people in my living room, so get your ticket quick. Wine and chocolate included in the ticket price — I will happily bribe you if that’s what it takes for you to show up.

    And now, to the letters. First one is about a lady finding herself in the apartment of a great guy — except that the place is an unholy mess. How can she convey her discomfort without alienating him? (more…)

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  • The shy one, the hottie, and the picky one: NYC women talk about love and dating

    Recently I paid a visit to New York City and got together with some of my readers at the Hudson Hotel for a little chat. A fundraiser by mayoral candidate Bill DeBlasio had taken over the main bar, so we found a bench in the Hudson Common eating area and got down to discussing love, happiness, and guys.

    I like these get-togethers because of how much I learn from hearing the stories of real, live readers. A book by its nature is a one-size-hopes-to-fit-all device. But in person you, my readers, are all different shapes, ages and races, with diverging concerns. Here’s a sampling of what I heard.

    Marci, the shy one

    Take Marci, for example. She said that her issue was that she always ended up being one of the guys. How could she make things take a more romantic turn when she didn’t want to be just friends with a guy?

    At the same time, Clara sitting right next to her had the exact opposite problem. Guys just wanted to hook up with her, and she just couldn’t sort out the good guys from the players.

    And now that I could see them and hear them, I had more information with which to diagnose what the hey was going on.

    Marci’s about 30. By her own admission, she’s shy. She’s wearing an elegant and conservative outfit that covers everything up. She’s tall and big-framed, with an open and friendly smile, so you wouldn’t peg her as being shy. As she speaks, you get a sense that her preferred mode of discourse is friendly formality.

    So why does Marci consistently fall into the friend zone? Because when you’re friendly and formal with people, you’re going to be formal friends with them, not a romantic interest.

    So how do you get out of the friend zone and into the romance zone? Simple: get flirty.

    Up to now, everything about Marci has been proper, linear, safe. The problem is that proper, linear and safe has inspired no man to declare his undying love for a woman. What you need is a little more of the flirty, curvy and dangerous. The idea is to provoke emotion and thought in the man’s body and mind. Every woman has the means to do that.

    In the case of Marci, there are some potential fixes:

    1) Engage in “curvy” conversation. Everyone knows where linear conversation goes: “How’s the weather? How was work? Is your pet better?” Linear = booooring. Ain’t gonna get you anywhere.

    On the other hand, nobody knows where curvy conversation goes. “So, you seeing anyone? Why not, is something wrong with you?” If you deliver that with a smile, a guy will have no idea what you’re up to. Are you giving him a hard time? Are you interested in him? Do you want to set him up with someone? Are you just entertaining yourself?

    Suddenly, conversation with you has become more interesting, because he’s not quite sure what you’re going to come up with next. And because he’s not sure of your intentions, now he’s thinking about you when you’re not around.

    Here’s a secret: when a guy thinks about you when you’re not around, this encodes in his brain as “I must like this girl.” In one smooth move, you have taken residence in the romantic quarter of his brain – or at least romantic-adjacent. Friend zone begone.

    The essence of flirting is a little bit of unpredictability and danger. Curvy conversation accomplishes that.

    2) Show a little more skin. If you want to get out of the friend zone, you want to do things that evoke an emotional response in a guy. One thing that does that is to put to use what your mama gave you and show some skin.

    How much skin is the right amount? Somewhere between Sexy Pirate Nurse Slut Ho Halloween outfit and a burqa, there is a balance. And I read somewhere that that balance is 40%, so we’re going to call this the 40% rule henceforth.

    How do you get to 40%? Simple: use the Rule of Nines, one of the things I remember from medical school:

    • Head: 9% of body surface area
    • Front of torso: 18%
    • Back of torso: 18%
    • Each leg: 18%
    • Each arm: 9%
    • Crotch: 1%
    • Total body surface area = 9 + 18 + 18 + 36 + 18 + 1 = 100%

    So if you expose half of your legs below the knees (18%) and all of your arms (18%), with your face (4%) you’re showing 40% skin. If you’re wearing a backless floor-length dress (18%) with bare arms, that’s also about 40%. To project less sexual energy, show less than 40%. To go on the warpath, go over 40%.

    Clara gets too much attention from the wrong guys

    So Marci needed to get out of her comfort zone and be a little more flirty. Clara, on the other hand, had no issues with the flirty part. She’s 23, short, petite, and wearing a slinky black dress which shows a distracting amount of décolletage (also known as “cleavage”). It’s easy to understand how a lot of guys would be interested in hooking up with her.

    From the outside, this may seem like a high-quality problem: “Oh, boohoo, poor thing, she’s got sooo many guys who are into her.” But a high-quality problem is still a problem. And I’m guessing there’s something not entirely savory about every guy you meet trying to get into your pants. It will probably make you feel objectified and distrustful of men, perhaps shutting you down to their advances. No wonder there are so many really attractive women who remain perennially single.

    Luckily, there is a solution. The way men respond to you has a lot to do with the way you present yourself (see Marci’s case above). Here are some things Clara can do.

    1) Dress more conservatively. I understand that women like to look hot, so they get all decked out in 7-inch Jimmy Choo stiletto murder heels, super-slinky dress and blood-red lipstick, ready to slay all oncomers.

    Well, let me tell you this: it’s not fun being slain. And if you look too hot (there is such a thing), the primary emotion that most men feel around you is FEAR. That’s right: adrenaline kicks in, and what we feel is flight-or-fight. And we become too scared to approach you.

    But there is a subset of guys who are not scared off: players. They see you as a prize, as a challenge, as a contest to be won. And they will approach you. And all the nice guys will stay away.

    In one move, you managed to attract all the jerks and alienate all the nice guys. Nice work. And you wonder why all the guys you meet just want to hook up with you.

    So if you’re already a smoking hottie-pie, tone it down a little. Wear something less provocative, more conservative. Don’t let the floodlight of your sexiness blind the men to all the great qualities of character that you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. That way, something like your soul has a chance to come through. Which brings us to…

    2) Talk to him. If you want to sort for the good guys, you must talk to him. This is how you find out how intelligent he is, how empathetic he is, and what his true intentions are. Drink alcohol only sparingly and gather in a place where you can hear him speak, because this is when you’re gathering critical information about this stranger who might become the father of your children. Liberally ask the magic question, “What’s important to you about that?”, and listen closely as he shares the innermost contents of his soul with you.

    This is also a chance for you to show him that you’ve got a great mind to go with the hot legs. Conversation is the broadband communication system of the human brain, so use it to your advantage to glean and convey important information about your suitability for one another.

    3) Give him a chance. Clara happened to be there with her 21-year old sister, Sara, also single. Both being so young, good-looking, smart and sweet, I wonder if there was something going on invisible to the naked eye that was keeping them from finding a good love match.

    There was: Clara and Sara were both vetoing each other’s dates: “Oh, he’s just not good enough for you.” Well, guess what: if you’re her sister and have known her your whole life and will lay your life down for her, in your book there is no man alive who is good enough for her. Get over it and unless the guys are unemployed and torture baby hamsters for fun, give the poor suckers a chance. And your sister, too. You do want to be an auntie someday, right?

    We are super-susceptible to the opinions of our intimate friends. If one of them says, “Oh, she’s not so pretty” about a woman I like, I can feel my interest instantly dropping a few notches. So it behooves Clara and Sara to refrain from saying mean things about their respective suitors and to stop sabotaging each other’s love lives.

    There’s something slightly sinister about this, too: unconsciously, the sisters are aware that if the other one finds a guy, that means less time spent with her. So yes, it’s very likely that a friend of yours – the one you’re closest to and has the most to lose – has actively sabotaged your interest in a guy in the name of “protecting” you. And she will do it again.

    So if you’re serious about having a relationship with a guy, you need to tell her to knock it off. If a unified chorus of friends tells you a guy is toxic, fine – you should listen. But if it’s one friend who’s consistently pulling you away or poisoning things early on, there just may be ulterior motives at work here.

    Polish girl seeks Indian guy – but why?

    Then there was Patricia, the fiercely intelligent, driven Polish transplant. Her question was about intercultural relationships. Specifically, she found herself attracted to Indian and Pakistani men. However, she wasn’t quite sure how to deal with their traditional mindsets, especially when the parents insisted on a bride within their own ethnicity.

    I’m all for intercultural relationships, but the Polish-Indian axis didn’t make a lot of sense to me. I mean, her true fulfillment depended on just that particular 1% sliver of the population? So I had to ask her: “What’s in it for you, Patricia?” After a while I got a sense that Agatha thrives on challenge: moving to the US; solving difficult problems; taking up a difficult dance style (tango, in this case); and maybe choosing boyfriends with difficult families who wouldn’t let her marry him.

    Remember that fulfillment is not a person, but a set of feelings. Was breaking through the challenge of swaying an Indian guy to marry her over the objections of his parents Patricia’s real fulfillment, or just another habit? Was she in it for the prize or for the joy? I wasn’t familiar with the full back story, but as far as I can tell, there are plenty of guys from all ethnicities out there who could catalyze Patricia’s growth and fulfillment. Especially in a place like New York City, where there are literally millions of interesting folks from all over the world. Perhaps it was time for her to focus on the substance of real companionship and emotional connection rather than an insistence on a particular symbol, of which ethnicity is one.

    Thanks for the ladies who braved the wilds of Manhattan and managed to find me at the Hudson that night. Now that I know how much fun live events are, I’ll be having more of them here in San Francisco and also when I travel. In the comments below, let me know where you abide, and if you can put together a group of 20 or more women, I’ll see what I can do to come visit.

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  • Nine ways smart women sabotage their own love lives

    Since I moved to San Francisco, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of great women who are still single. On the one hand, it’s good for business, so I can’t complain too much. On the other hand, it saddens me because many of these women are so fantastic – smart, funny, beautiful – and really don’t want to be single. Not forever, at least.

    It’s probably true the guys you date are partly to blame here. However, every relationship you’ve been in has one thing in common: YOU. So maybe it’s time to take an honest inventory and see if you’ve been engaging in any of the following self-sabotaging behaviors I’ve observed that inadvertently drive off the good guys who already like you (NB: most of these are applicable to men, too, so listen up, gentlemen):

    1. You don’t show up.

    Let’s face it: dates are weird. And it’s perfectly normal to feel some trepidation at the prospect of spending time with a stranger. Especially if that stranger is (more…)

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  • How to be taken seriously by a guy you just slept with

    Quick announcement: My excellent friend and colleague, Dr Katherine Woodward Thomas, the author of Calling in the One, which I consider to be one of the best dating books ever written for women, is having a free class on Aug 26 entitled “How To Release Your Hidden Barriers To Love & Become Magnetic To Your Soulmate.” She’s really great. I’ll be telling you more about it in the coming days. In the meantime, you can sign up for it here.

    Now, on to the reader’s letter:

    Hi Dr. Ali — I slept with this guy that I felt strong chemistry with on our second date. How can I “redeem” myself so that he can look at me seriously? What approach to I take to help him see me as g/f or wife material? I am currently reading your book “Tao of Dating” and assume that applying the ideas of masculating your man, giving grace, praise, etc. will help direct his thinking…Thanks, Jacqueline

    Jacqueline —
    Oh my! I didn’t know that you needed to be redeemed for freely following your own desire and sharing a great time with a man. Instead, may I suggest that:

    1) You have done nothing wrong. So you don’t need any redemption. Can I get a “hallelujah”?
    2) Be the buyer instead of being the seller. Right now, the frame that you’re using is (more…)

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