On June 11, 2012 By Mark Manson · 161 Comments

When you think about it, despite feeling difficult, the problems men struggle with in dating sound pretty trivial. For instance, men have been walking and talking their entire lives, yet walking up to an attractive woman and opening their mouths to say ―Hi,‖ can feel impossibly complex to us. Men have been using a phone since they were children, yet the agony some men go through just to dial a woman’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 with women 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 keys. And

he will eventually become quite competent at it. 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. if someone practices piano daily for two years. none of us get 100% of our needs met. and that our psychological defense mechanisms run rampant trying to convince us to NOT pursue what we want? Why dating and not. It’s true of everyone. Whether it is a parent who didn’t hold us enough. intimacy and sex throughout our lives. The nature and depth of these traumas imprint themselves onto our unconscious and become the map of how we experience love. a mother who left us and moved away. They’re not the same. It’s true of me. Why? What is it about this one area of life that the most basic actions can feel impossible. a father who wasn’t around often.I’ve never met a man who became depressed for a week after failing to conjugate a verb correctly. Generally speaking. But it’s the sad truth about growing up: we’ve all got baggage. become a militant CEO. skiing? Or even our careers? Why is it that a man can conquer the corporate ladder. going on date after date. And some of us have a lot of it. who didn’t feed us regularly enough. Yet a number of men continue to go out meeting woman after woman. and then at night cower and stutter his way through a date with a beautiful woman? OUR EMOTIONAL MAPS As children. This is true of you. little to no change. year after year and seeing little to no progress. and the nature of how our needs are unfulfilled differs as well. The degree of which our needs aren’t met varies widely. . and continue to remain alone. say. that repetitive behavior often leads to little or no improvement. demanding and receiving the respect and admiration of hundreds of brilliant minds.

that will imprint itself as part of our self-image. of members of the opposite sex. 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. Out of those thousands.‖ or refer to each other as their ―better half. If we were manipulated or tormented by our siblings and peers. our unconscious is wired to seek out members of the opposite sex who it believes will fulfill our unfulfilled emotional needs. ―you complete me. you get the point.‖ 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. Hence why people who are madly in love say to each other. someone whose behavior matches our emotional map for intimacy. multiple hundreds easily met our physical criteria for a mate. to fill in the gaps of the love and nurturing we missed out on as kids.If mom was over-protective and dad was never around. but define. If mom was an alcoholic and dad was screwing around with other women. and to re-process and heal the traumas we suffered. These imprints will not only affect. It’s often not the woman we expected to fall for either. all of our future romantic and sexual relationships as an adult. . This is why the people we fall in love with almost always resemble our parents on an emotional level. if not thousands. it will stay with us. where we lose all rationality and control and lay awake at night thinking about them. Yet out of those hundreds of women. Jane had the great sense of humor and was amazing in bed. Psychologists believe that romantic love occurs when our unconscious becomes exposed to someone who matches the archetype of parental love we experienced growing up. In short. If our first girlfriend died in a car accident or dad beat us because he caught us masturbating — well. You and I and everyone else have met hundreds. we only fall for a very few. Our unconscious is always seeking to return to the unconditional nurturing we received as children. that will form part of our map for love and intimacy. Only a handful we meet in our entire lives ever grab us on that gut-level. Susy had the perfect body.

stress and pain. these experiences rub up against our prior traumas causing us anxiety. . neuroticism. imagine a woman you are extremely attracted to no-shows for a date. Like you just got used and lead on and shat on. but every time you were punished for sexual thoughts or feelings growing up. Now. asking for strategies or tactics to prevent it happening in the future. and by the time you get home and are watching the football game you don’t even remember it even happened. Don’t believe me? Think about this. particularly if we had strained familial relationships growing up. Maybe you continue to call her weeks or months later. How do you feel? Annoyed likely. feeling worse and worse each time. Every irrational fear. That irrational fear you feel when it comes time to take your clothes off in front of her isn’t just the nervousness of the moment. So that woman rejecting you when you approach her isn’t just rejecting you. Ouch. fear that nobody loves you and that you’re going to be alone forever. and when we get into potentially intimate or sexual situations. How do you feel? If you’re like most men who struggle in this area of their life: like shit. our dating and sex lives are inextricably bound to our emotional needs. But chances are you get over it quickly. Or maybe you just get depressed and mope about it on an online forum. but to your unconscious you’re reliving every time your mother rejected you or turned down your need for affection. Maybe you freak out and call her and leave her angry voicemails. getting blown off over and over again. Why? Because being flaked on rubs up against your unconscious fear of abandonment. Maybe a tad disrespected. Someone no-shows for a regular business meeting with you. emotional outburst or insecurity you have in your dating life is an imprint on your emotional map from your relationships growing up. Unlike playing the piano or learning a language.This is also why dating and relationships are so painful and difficult for so many of us.

close ratios. It’s why you freeze up when it comes time to introduce yourself to a woman you don’t know or tell someone you just met how you feel about them. It takes time and practice. then their sexual actions no longer rub up against their emotional maps and they can greatly diminish the neediness and anxiety they once felt around women while still reaping the superficial benefits. techniques and theory don’t fix them either. In fact. Granted. . If they shut off their need for intimacy and connection. Pick up lines. This includes.‖ calculating open ratios. they merely cover them 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. your unfulfilled emotional needs and traumas. but is not limited to. Here are common ways men disassociate dating from their emotions:  Objectification of sex and women. The list goes on and on. comparing notes with other men and treating it as some sort of high score on a video game. but once disassociated from their emotions. it just suppresses them and makes them worse. DISASSOCIATING FROM OUR EMOTIONS A common way men bypass dealing with the emotional stress involved in dating is by disassociating their emotions from women and sex. flag counts. ethics. they can enjoy the sex and validation of dating women without concerns for intimacy. tracking ―progress. rating women they date on a 1-10 scale. All of these issues have deep-seated roots in your unconscious. But viewing ALL male-female interactions through this lens is catastrophic to one’s ability to engage in emotional intimacy and resolve a lot of these unconscious problems. It’s why you can’t perform when you get into bed with her or why you avoid opening up and sharing yourself with her. keeping lay counts. meaningless sex can be fun at times. So can a harmless brag to your buddies here and there. connection. and in some cases.

But . Without fail. lines and tactics. prostitution. to enjoy yourselves without actually do anything. pornography. bantering.‖ are more often than not projecting their own anger and insecurities onto the women they meet rather than dealing with them. This is most typical of English-speaking cultures. but an interaction of NOTHING but jokes and teasing is a means to communicate without saying anything important. men who treat and view women as some inferior ―other. A way to experience one’s sexuality vicariously through an empty. teasing. this applies to some misandrist feminists I’ve come across as well). Men who had turbulent relationships with their mothers. On the surface these two types of men appear quite different (one over-compensates and is domineering. manipulation or tactics to meet and seduce women. and to feel like you know each other without actually knowing a thing. a man is withholding his true identity from the woman and therefore is withholding his emotional map as well. or running you $100 an hour.  Manipulation. as they tend to use sarcasm and teasing as a means to imply affection rather than actually showing it. the other is wussy and passive aggressive). desires and emotions is a sure way to redirect one’s emotional problems outward onto the female population at large rather than dealing with them yourself. By adopting lines. a pole. Depending on the nature of their issues with women and their upbringing. 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. these men can become either Fake Alphas or Nice Guys. A classic strategy of distraction. Viewing women as inferior or as highly different creatures with different values.  Stripclubs. 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. Not that jokes or teasing aren’t always bad. men who were left by their wives or girlfriends. or men who were tormented by women growing up. (For what it’s worth. Men who harbor a lot of resentment for women tend to disassociate and objectify women the most.  Overuse of humor. idealized vessel. Misogyny. whether it’s on a screen.

It helps emotionally damaged men get short-term sexual results with as little hassle as possible. the other’s codependent. Whether you think that’s right or wrong or doesn’t matter. sweat and tears. It’s more socially acceptable for men to objectify their sex lives and boast about it. They just cover it up. . Obviously. are imprinted on our brains in similar ways that our physical habits are. They’re a temporary fix at best. 1) The biggest misconception when it comes to working through an excess of emotional baggage is that these feelings ever completely go away. but it yields far greater and permanent results. traumas. Most men aren’t willing to dig deep and put in the effort. The way to change is NOT by removing these feelings or anxieties altogether. etc. anxieties. particularly ―weak‖ emotions such as a need for intimacy and love.honestly. It requires only external effort and some superficial beliefs. Working through your issues and resolving them requires far more blood. Just like you’ve developed a habit of brushing your teeth every time you wake up. But PUA teachings don’t solve the root problem. But there’s a lot more social pressure on men to ignore their emotions. but rather consciously replacing them with higher order behaviors and feelings. they’re more or less the same guy – one’s narcissistic. and even more damaging at worst. one gets laid. you have emotional habits of getting sad or angry any time you feel abandoned or unwanted. it is how it is. Research and brain imaging indicates that fears. it goes unsaid that Pick Up Artist tactics promote objectification front and center as part of their strategies. the other jerks off to Hentai between World of Warcraft sessions. CONFRONTING YOUR ISSUES AND WINNING Disassociating from your emotional needs is the easy way out. Note: This isn’t to say that many women don’t disassociate their emotions and objectify men as well.

but . Mentally train yourself so that any time you feel anxiety. You must overlay old emotional habits of fear and anxiety with new healthier ones of excitement. 3) The final step — once you’ve learned to channel your negative emotions in constructive ways. but that’s the idea. I’ve set up online programs that utilize progressive desensitization to help men overcome their anxieties around women. For instance. but rather channel that anger into a better and healthier activity. Obviously this takes time and requires consistently facing situations which make you uncomfortable. like say. or punching a punching bag. Once that feels comfortable then challenge yourself to have a conversation about sex. I’ve always had a fear of commitment and needed a woman who was comfortable giving me space and some freedom. start with baby steps. once you’ve eaten away at your anxieties and are able to often act despite them — is to come clean with women you see about your needs and start screening based on them. Then challenge yourself to kiss a woman. you force yourself to do it anyway. After that challenge yourself to hold hands with a woman. if you have a problem getting sexual or making the first move with women. You cannot rewire your responses in healthy ways and confront your insecurities if you aren’t out there actively pushing up against them. going to the gym. 2) Anxieties can be overcoming through utilizing implementation intentions and progressive desensitization. but I actively screen for women with these traits.This can ONLY be accomplished through taking action. boldness and assertiveness. 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. For instance. If you have a habit of flipping out and leaving angry voicemails every time a woman doesn’t call you back. you don’t get rid of the anger. Not only do I openly share this with women I get involved with now. or painting a picture. 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. There is no other way. Ultimately. Tell the next woman you go on a date with that she’s sexy.

where they probably come from. I became the consummate Nice Guy and for years struggled to assert myself in my relationships and around women. I grew up in a broken family where all members isolated themselves and we communicated our emotions very seldom. Instead of chasing and pursuing. In fact. help you become more confident and secure in your relationships and ultimately. I was . And whether you spend a night or a year with them. I became highly sensitive to confrontation and any negative emotions of others. this enhanced level of intimacy and mutual vulnerability will help heal your emotional wounds. I slow eroded that fear by opening myself up to intimate opportunities little by little over a long period of time. We unconsciously seek out romantic partners in order to fulfill our unfulfilled childhood needs. As an example. you focus on consistently improving yourself and presenting that self to the women of the world. This kind of authenticity changes the whole dynamic with women. and how you could overcome them in an open and honest way. 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. 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. The right ones will pay attention and stay. I objectified my sex lifequite a bit and adopted some narcissistic behaviors in order to push me through some of these insecurities. As a result. overcome much of the pain and stress of that accompanies sex and intimacy. 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. and to do so cannot be completely done alone.hers as well. convincing and persuading.

e.incapable of becoming intimate with a woman unless I had an escape route (i. or I was going to move to another city soon.. These are the realities that I express openly and seek out the proper women who can handle them. etc. she had a boyfriend. 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. and like a smoker rationalizing reasons to smoke one last cigarette. 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.). What are yours? . Spending all of my adolescence living alone with my mother has made me particularly sensitive to female affection.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful