June 23, 2014

There was a very popular post written the other day by a blogger named Matt Walsh called, Dear Single Dudes: It’s Time to Man Up.  The gist of his article is that men are often commitment-phobic, and they need to get themselves into gear to stop messing around and to have a serious relationship.  I read the post in its entirety, which I would advise you to do as well, and then I made the following comment:

I have to agree with everything you said in the article, both as a woman and as a dating coach.  But I have to wonder… had I written the exact same thing but coming from a woman’s point of view, would I be tarred and feathered for looking like I’m bitter, or worse, asking for something that shouldn’t be asked? Just a thought… I totally agree with all of your sentiments, though, and these are ones I preach to my clients all the time.

This brings us to the question: Whose responsibility is it to “(wo)man up?”  I dare to say the responsibility lies in both camps.  It’s true—almost every woman I know, whether a client or a friend, whether 25 years old or 65 years old, wants much of what the article says.  In particular, she wants a partner who is decisive, proactive, commitment-minded, future-oriented, and ready to discuss hard topics.  Very few women want the man-boy who calls it “hanging out” or “talking” rather than “dating.”  The best advice I could give to any man is to be clear about what your intentions are up front.  If you’re looking for a serious relationship, then say so.  And if you’re not, then make that clear as well… half of the people on Tinder do!  I know we live in a “hook-up” society, in part due to technology and the ease with which we now plan our rendezvous, but the best thing you can do is to be honest and let her have the choice as to whether to stick around or not.

Now, for the ladies…

I hear complaints like this all the time:

“He won’t pick up the phone to call me.  I am so sick of texting!”

“He only contacts me once a week.  What’s up with that?”

“Why can’t he ask me before Friday if I’m free this weekend?”

All of these are, of course, valid questions and concerns.  But what’s not valid is not saying anything about them to the person you’re dating!  As much as we want them to be, people are not mind readers.  Even if we think we’re being as clear as a freshly washed glass door (I use this as an example because I walked into one recently—oops), we often dance around things that bother us until the other person figures them out… which rarely happens.  This leads to the demise of many a relationship, when often simply talking it through would resolve the problem.

Let’s take the example of texting.  In this day and age, the default is to text.  Running late?  Send a text.  Curious to know what someone’s up to later?  Send a text.  Ask someone out on a second date?  You guessed it.  I pose this question: If this overuse of texting bothers you, what do you do about it?  Too often, the answer is nothing.  If you allow the texting to go on by answering all the time and not mentioning that you would prefer a phone call, then your date/partner assumes that it’s okay.  In fact, very recently, a 54-year-old female client called me to ask what to do about a guy from Match.com who has been texting her since asking for her phone number.  She said, “He must be lazy!  Should I just ignore him?”  My response was, “Write him back saying, ‘Why don’t you give me a ring, and we’ll schedule a time to meet.’”

In life, many people end up being passive-aggressive or unclear when trying to get a message across.  The act of having a real, honest conversation about something that’s bothering you is a lost art, but it’s the foundation of a good relationship.  Rather than having little things, like the frustration with texting, add up until you can’t take it anymore, instead, you can ask yourself, “Have I mentioned that I would prefer a call sometimes?”  If the answer is no, then before you break up (likely via text, given the circumstances), have a conversation about your different communication styles, and try to find a middle ground.

Now, let’s get back to the bigger issue at hand.  Let’s say someone new in your life is not “manning up,” as Matt’s article suggests.  Try this on for size: Ask what he’s looking for.  If the answer is not to your liking, then it’s time to cut the ties before you get too invested.  Remember that you get what you allow, so by allowing the “problem” to go on, you’re sending the message that it’s not a problem at all.  It would be nice if, as women, we never had to pine for more, but as we know, that rarely happens.  If he’s not “manning up,” it’s time to speak up!  And if you then find out that he’s not ready for the serious relationship that you are, and your nudge doesn’t push him in that direction, then it’s time to take stock of what you want and go out there to find it.

Is “Manning Up” the Answer?
Tagged on:                                                     

3 thoughts on “Is “Manning Up” the Answer?

  • June 23, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Thanks Erika! Such a timely wake-up call and reminder to ask for what I want. The challenge comes in recognizing that some relationships take more time to grow and accepting things as they are is also important (rather then trying to force something to be a certain way). I do think recognizing that someone isn’t fully available is a critical skill. Timing may not be everything but it’s pretty darn critical. Thanks again! Marjorie

  • January 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    “In life, many people end up being passive-aggressive or unclear when trying to get a message across. “

    In the case of those of us whom you feel might need a “womaning-up” lecture, however gentle … sometimes there’s a reason for that.

    (And you allude to it yourself here, when you say this

    “But I have to wonder… had I written the exact same thing but coming from a woman’s point of view, would I be tarred and feathered for looking like I’m bitter, or worse, asking for something that shouldn’t be asked?”


    The thing is — and I’ve expressed this to more than one dating coach/guru/expert-type person — that men are lauded for behavior for which women are punished when they – we – do the exact same thing.

    If you are direct and a woman, the likelihood that you will be deemed “unladylike” or “unfeminine” or “confrontational” or “aggressive” or my personal favorite, “SUCH a b*tch” — with concomitant punishments, both personal and professional, is … let’s just say substantial enough that I could come up with all those pejoratives right off the top of my head.

    And there’s something else. You can say “Please call me” or “I’d prefer a phone call” or “Have you ever considered that it takes five minutes to solve with a phone call what it takes an hour to resolve over text? And haven’t you said you’re a man who values his time?” all you want …

    … but if you’re dealing too frequently (and if you’re in Western culture, the media of which we’re all subsumed with, it’s waaaaaaay too frequent, quite frankly) with a man who has “You’re Not the Boss of Me!/You Can’t Tell Me What to Do! (’cause that makes me less of an Independent Man in my head)” syndrome, or “I’m Going to Nod When You Talk But Pay No Attention To What You’re Actually Saying” syndrome, or (again) my personal favorite, “Women Don’t Know Anything” syndrome …

    … then it doesn’t matter what you say, and it doesn’t matter how often you speak up — speaking up is not going to solve the problem.

    (Nor is moving on, necessarily, because those are all different men with those syndromes, and there is certainly more than one man with each one.)

    So … suggestions at that point …?

    • January 13, 2015 at 12:04 pm

      Wow – this is quite the comment, and I truly appreciate your feedback and thoughts. What I have to say about this is actually pretty simple. The right guy will *want* to make you happy. If you’re asking for little things in a kind way, and he shrugs it off as a “woman thing,” then he’s not the right person for you, and he’s got a lot of growing up to do. I’m sorry if you’ve had to deal with that. Just know you deserve better.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *