My Ex Wasn’t Ready to Commit: Here’s My Theory on Why
01.24.18

“You don’t need me,” my now-ex said, all casual and matter-of-fact. We’d been talking about the real meaning of commitment and all the reasons he didn’t feel he could truly commit to me. In the pause that followed came this seemingly disconnected statement.

He was right, of course, from a purely practical standpoint. I didn’t need him; if we split, I would be fine. I could pay my own bills and support myself. I was obsessed with my career, which was moving full speed ahead. I had a supportive family, my health was in check, and my life was generally in order. I didn’t “need” him. Or anyone. But I wanted him. Wasn’t that enough? In fact, wasn’t that better?

He didn’t seem to think so. Eventually, he broke up with me. He didn’t know what he wanted in life: maybe grad school or an out-of-state move to start over. He was stubborn about his independence, he told me, though I sensed he resented mine. He said I was a little too settled. “You are so sure of yourself, Jenna,” he claimed. “It’s a good thing. But you are going to scare men.

He also once said, “There are so many things I want to give you, but I’m not sure where my life is going yet.” I remember him saying this to me with a faraway look, like he was performing an open monologue to himself. What if I’d never asked for those things? I thought. What if I’d never asked you to have those answers? It took me years to understand these were expectations he placed on himself.

Men vs. Women

More women than men are now graduating college, and they are significantly likelier to have a bachelor’s degree by age 29. For the first time in history, more American women have bachelor’s degrees than American men. We are thus flooding the workforce, demanding equal treatment and equal pay, outing injustices that might hold us back. And in relationships, more women are breadwinners than ever before; the number of family units with female primary or sole breadwinners has quadrupled since 1960. This is a big shift for millennials, who are watching these changes happen, aware that times have changed since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day.

That doesn’t mean old societal expectations have completely fallen by the wayside, however. They still play a role in dating between men and women — subconsciously or consciously. For my book on dating and relationships, I talked in depth with many men who date women, and most told me that they still felt pressure to “establish themselves” and “provide.” The data backs up their feelings: In December, the Pew Research Center polled Americans on gendered expectations. Male and female survey respondents said they felt the two biggest stressors for men were still “supporting their family financially” and “being successful in their job or career.”

As I started to collect my own data on why modern-day relationships worked out or didn’t, “having your life together” was a big deal for men especially. I learned a lot of heterosexual men still want to be a full contributing partner — someone who has the capacity to support a significant other financially and practically if needed, and someone who brings home at least their fair share of the bacon in a dual-earning household.

My female interviewees commonly reported hearing refrains like “I’m not ready” and “You don’t need me” from their male partners. Maybe you’ve heard it, too. In an Instagram poll for Man Repeller readers, 72 percent of participants reported they had been told “I’m not ready” in the context of a relationship. Some 78 percent said they’ve had a relationship or connection thwarted due to “bad timing.” And around 62 percent of those participants said they had dated guys who, they felt, were turned off by their independence, paycheck or career.

But per recent survey data, in almost direct opposition to such anecdotes, straight men claim to want just what these women offer: a partnership with someone smart and self-sufficient. (So did my ex, for that matter, before our commitment conversation.) But if that’s the case, what’s going on here? Well, for one, needs and wants are different things, and timing is a crucial element of modern-day relationship success. I have a few theories.

Needs vs. Wants

For millennials, “I’m not ready” is not a line or excuse, but often a reality of dating and falling in love. And here’s where one of my basic theories on modern relationships comes in. I like to illustrate it using some classic psych, a.k.a. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the gift from 1943 that just keeps on giving.

As humans, we move all over the hierarchy every day. All the time! But in general (and as the theory goes), all needs must be fulfilled eventually, and when a need is unfulfilled, it’s activated and we’re motivated to work on that need until it’s met. Typically, we work from the bottom up. Physiological and safety needs come first (you’ve gotta survive) before esteem and love (to help you thrive).

Enter modern-day romance and relationships: Hey there, idealism! What they say about our generation is true. Not only do most of us want to explore and expand personally, but we want couple-with-your-best-friend, do-life-together loves, too. Partnership is a beautiful concept, surpassing a mere “relationship” or even “marriage” as a thoroughly modern aspiration. For those of us in pursuit of a relationship, we’re more often than not looking for an equal partner — a “team” dynamic.

If we check the hierarchy, then, for us modern daters, love is not just support and belongingness (level 3), where it might have slotted back when commitment was more about baseline stability than anything else. Today, men and women alike repeatedly told me they wanted a partner who “makes them better.” We are a generation focused on self-actualization: fulfillment, satisfaction, reaching our highest potential (level 5, peak #goals). Fantastically, true modern partnerships (or at least our idea of them) can and should help us self-actualize, elevate us, and help us become our best selves. But we need esteem — level 4, knowing who we are and what we bring to the table, having most of our basic needs checked — to create the type of relationship where we’re able to grow in the same direction.

This can apply to any couple, opposite-sex or same-sex: When one person is lower in the pyramid, there is less headspace for love (level 3), especially of the makes-me-better, self-actualizing variety (level 5) because he or she must first tend to self-esteem (level 4). But while this applies to all relationships, I’d argue it applies quite consistently to modern men forming opposite-sex partnerships — especially those for whom the pressure to “succeed,” “provide” and conform to a gender role was (sometimes subconsciously) impressed from a young age, changing and intensifying the markers by which they measure self-esteem. The resulting landscape, as I see it, is one wherein men are often stuck on the bottom levels of the pyramid a little bit longer.

He’s Just Not at Your Level

Of course, not every man or woman follows the same trajectory, nor do we all measure our pyramids in the same way. Some have stepped far outside the mold that society laid out and figured out what works for them as individuals. Hats off to the men and women who so beautifully juggle career and love, or those who have decided to fully embrace their single status because it brings them more joy or makes them feel like their most actualized selves.

But for those of us who seek companionship, gender norms and socialization can still have quite a dramatic impact on the pursuit of love. Among the people I interviewed, many men described a pressure-filled, hyper-rigid climb toward “success” before they could feel confident enough in themselves and their abilities to enter a relationship. Many women, on the other hand, described feeling more free to define success on their own terms, granting them the flexibility to move through Maslow’s pyramid with more ease and patience, believing they could work on themselves and a great relationship at the same time.

Whether you participate in this particular narrative or not, people have been theorizing for years about why straight men don’t commit or pursue relationships as readily as women. One of my least favorite theories? “He’s just not that into you.” It’s a popular explanation, and it can work as an excuse for literally anything a guy does, from canceling a date to avoiding a text to breaking up with you. But in my view, it doesn’t encompass the very real and nuanced reality of how we build lives and loves. I watched this explanation gaslight some of the coolest, brightest women I knew. It wasn’t that they couldn’t believe a guy wouldn’t be into them; it was that they couldn’t believe they sensed a great connection and could be so wrong about how it would all play out. When connection after connection failed to pan out, they concluded they weren’t enough — and often set out to change themselves in pretty fundamental ways. I hate that.

I’d like them to consider another explanation: Maybe it was him, and maybe it was timing, and maybe he was struggling to deal with the relationship as a result of simple psychology. For example, if he’s working on gaining a steady source of income after a career change (level 2: safety needs) while you’re working on a promotion at work (level 4: esteem), or he wants a casual relationship (level 3: love and belongingness) while you want that modern-day, growth-oriented partnership to hit every continent or start a side hustle together (level 5: self-actualization), maybe the tough truth is he’s just not at your level.

A straight guy friend told me he thinks he subconsciously struggles to date women who are ahead of him. I once tried to set him up with a good friend of mine — smart, pretty, driven, insightful. The full package! I thought it’d be a great match; they even had the same “out there” taste in music. He talked to her for months but couldn’t make solid romantic moves in her direction. “That was a good match,” he admitted to me years later. “But I was intimidated then. I wouldn’t be today.” Ahh, growth. As for her? She moved to D.C. to work in advertising and, by all accounts, has one of those committed, inspiring partnerships I mentioned earlier.   

“Someone in the same place in life,” my friend mused. “It’s hard to find.” And so is modern love. The good news is, although fulfilling relationships may seem rare among the oodles of options we have today, they may ultimately prove more powerful tools for personal growth than “ideal” relationships of the past. And in even better news, for women, there’s more opportunity for fulfillment on the road of life than ever before — whether we’ve found a love that lasts or not.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi; art direction and infographic by Emily Zirimis. 

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  • Aleda Johnson

    The thing that irritates me the most about these social gender norms is that they rarely manifest in the innocent, reflective way you describe here. I’ve dating and heard horror stories about men who just assume that because the woman is in a different place in her life, there’s something wrong with her and she needs to change. Or his perceived inadequacies are channeled into anger and resentment, creating an abusive environment.

    “You’re going to scare men.” No, you’re going to scare BOYS.

    • BK

      BOOM yes

    • freedom forall

      Yes!

    • Charlotte R Batcha

      The Reframe was Constructive that included the Needed Historical View that Addressed the Sexist Interpretation. As a Seasoned Family Therapist who has some knowledge on this subject I suggest that you look into Sue Johnson’s Work which relates on Building Emotional Connections with Partners. Currently, I am reading her work on Created for Connection.

    • elpug

      go out and scare those boys, ladies

  • Paola

    beautifully written; such an honest, down-to-earth take on millennial relationships.

  • Adrianna

    I know I’ve been in one relationship for six years so my head has been in the sand, but man, the reports from the frontlines are dire.

    My boyfriend was unemployed when we started dating. He wasn’t where he wanted to be financially and in his career for next two years, but he asked to move in together after 5 months. (It took us about 5 years, because of me.)

    He now earns about 3.5x as me. I avoided moving in with him for most of our relationship because I couldn’t make sense of our financial differences. If anything, *I* was the one who felt I couldn’t “provide” for him. He never expressed a desire to “provide” for me. It’s just that he needs to cover more of the cost if he wants to do or travel somewhere I can’t afford. I’m sure he’d prefer if I could match 50-50.

    I’m a firm believer of the five love languages – both in what kind of love we need, and how we want to love. I think this conversation of “I want to provide for you” and “you’re going to scare guys away” comes from men whose own love language involves “Acts of Service.”

    • Jenna Birch

      +1 for the love languages. Absolutely a book I’d recommend others read, especially couples.

      • Adrianna

        We only did the online test, but it completely illuminated why we bicker. It’s easy to assume that your own love language is universal and obvious, and therefore your partner is consciously withholding it.

  • Celina Buss

    Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

  • sds616

    First of all, Jenna, I cannot wait to read your book. I’m located in Canada, and I ordered it from Amazon but then the order all of a sudden got cancelled… Is it available in Canada yet?

    Second of all, as someone who has been in long-term relationships with partners all across the board (a man who couldn’t handle being with a woman more educated than him; a man who did not understand the needs of a woman who valued her independence; and a man who was floundering professionally, whose lack of ambition was the ultimate undoing of the relationship), your intuitive observation that love/romantic relationships have shifted from Need #3 to Need #5 on Maslow’s heirarchy is spot on.

    I was brought up being told not to rely exclusively on others for fulfillment in any area of life, and it is often difficult to reconcile the trajectory of my life from what traditional society expects of women because as much as standards have changed, our appetite for the sensational has expanded with the advent of Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Suddenly, once-in-a-lifetime love is glorified for beautiful photographs you can slap a filter on and post, not because it is what we’re supposed to do. But your theory of love as self-actualizing is what we all strive for behind the camera. And as someone who has never been comfortable with hyperbolic pixelated declarations of anything, I am still looking for that relationship at the top of the pyramid. Thanks for this.

    • Jenna Birch

      Hmm, strange. I’m not sure why your order was cancelled, but you *should* be able to order The Love Gap from Canada; my publisher has North American rights to the book, and the book was available everywhere in NA as of yesterday. Hopefully if you try again, it’ll work!

      So glad to hear this resonated with you. 🙂

  • sweetlooweeze

    This is so true! And men just really sometimes arent confident enough in themselves when they arent on the same “level” as you as a woman. You probably dont even care about all what they are talking about, but like the pyramid shows, if they feel they cant provide the levels that are before the level you are talkin about, then they will not feel good or be in a position to provide the others. You better preach Jenna!

  • rella

    But what happens when your boyfriend is committed, yet isn’t on your level? Does that mean you’re settling? I recently ended a year long relationship because my parents insisted he wasn’t on my level. I’m in medical school and have the rest of my life mapped out for me. He’s at an entry level job (age appropriately), but with more variability for the road ahead. Interestingly, although we both recognized this imbalance we were willing to push on forward with the relationship. Ultimately, he knew he’d get there soon enough, I believed in him and we both believed in the love that we created. My parents mean the world to me and helped me get to where I am so I have to move on which now I think means looking for someone who’s at that same level #4.

    • Adrianna

      “But what happens when your boyfriend is committed, yet isn’t on your level? ”

      “I recently ended our year long relationship because my parents insisted he wasn’t on my level.”

      Man, those are some mean things to say about your boyfriend. Who really knows if you’ll become a doctor, let alone complete medical school? You don’t know where either of you will be in three, five years.

      • rella

        Oh I agree with you. Those were the arguments I had for my parents too. I spent months trying to convince them of that and I’m still trying to understand where they’re coming from. I think they saw me as having my foot in the door of a career while he was still figuring out what he wanted to do. Very high standards that my parents have, I know.

        • rella

          I envision my ex’s future to look a lot like your boyfriend’s career trajectory, but I’m wondering if you had the same voices challenging your relationship during those early stages because he was unemployed.

    • Contempt – it’s the one thing that never belongs in a committed relationship, and the one thing that will always cause a relationship to fail (IMHO).

      If you really think that your significant other is not at your level, you need to end it. There is no coming back from thinking that you’re better than somebody else (no judgement, I think everyone has felt more intelligent/creative/motivated/enlightened than somebody else sometime in their life).

      Of course, if that’s your parent’s opinion, not yours…. you might need your parents to butt out of your romantic life.

  • Léa

    The Maslow thesis point has been made and tested empirically by Eli J. Finkel and his team at NorthWestern University (The All or Nothing Marriage, Dutton, 2017). Is that where you got it from?

    • Jenna Birch

      No! A different psychologist worked with me on the hierarchy explanation for my book. Ironically, I reached out to Finkel to interview for my book, and he had to decline because he was working on his own! Had no idea he was also using and testing the hierarchy.

      • Léa

        Thanks for your response! He starts from the same idea that modern relationships seek to fullfill higher needs – Im sure you’d find his work useful!

        • Jenna Birch

          Yeah, sounds fascinating! Now that I’m done with my book, will definitely have to check his out!

    • Frenchmochi

      Hi fellow Léa!

  • grace

    Although I’m in a committed, loving relationship now, I went through a few years were I avoided serious relationships specifically because I didn’t feel like I was in the right place in my life. The shock of transitioning from school to the workforce overwhemled me and made me feel like I needed to get a handle on my career/being an independent adult, before I could even consider anything beyond a casual fling. Love this article and all the insights, but I do feel that women these days are pressured to have their shit figured out just as much as men do (perhaps even moreso, because women are pressured to “do it all” while men only face the societal pressure to be sucessful in their careers). Women more than men, in my experience at least, face the expectation to have a perfect career, a perfect relationship, amazing friendships, AND an adorable family, not to mention we’re expected to look amazing/healthy all the time. Maybe these are just pressures I put on myself, but I really feel like it comes at women from all sides and that picture of “sucess” for women is much more multifaceted and difficult to achieve than it ever has been.

    • Adrianna

      I was really frustrated because it felt like I was the *only* person who was single through college. I was also overwhelmed with trying to pay for rent and groceries in NYC during the recession. But I also knew that I wasn’t ready to be in a healthy relationship due to my ptsd and depression.

      I would agree that women face the pressure to “do it all” in a pretty outfit.

  • qnswmn

    Interesting! This generation amazes me. Let me see if I got this straight… Men want to BONE the hell out you but not commit and ladies allow a man to have mad sex with them without a firm comitment? Really? Wow. If you can’t, won’t, don’t make a commitment then you simply can’t F me. Simple as that! Holla when you are ready! Sheesh.

    • Jeanette Bernal-Singh

      This is why I disagree with sex being a need. People go out as if they need it and have sex with every Joe and Mary. If people knew how much garbage energy is being transferred by engaging in sex without love, they’d stop.

      • Chokwadi

        ‘engaging in sex without ‘marriage’ ‘ you mean.

        • Jeanette Bernal-Singh

          Engaging in compulsive sex. Sex without true presence, caring and love. I really don’t like how society has made people think that they need sex no matter with whom.

          • Chokwadi

            As long as no one is getting raped, people are free to do as they please sexually.

      • https://youtu.be/Gad0gG7SABU?t=4122

        Would 10’s millions of people risk incarceration for something that wasn’t a need!?

        • Jeanette Bernal-Singh

          My theory is that it is a void created by a belief of lack. When it goes to the extreme to become an act of violence it is not because sex itself is a need. It is because of hidden anger. A basic need is that which keeps us alive. As the survival of the human race, we would need to procreate. This day and age, we don’t have that need. Our basic needs change from time to time, but there are some that cannot change, and that is our need for food, water, shelter and love. People can live without sex. And people have existed without it. So it is not a basic need for the individual life of a human being. We live in an over sexualized society and it has become an addiction. It is a normal part of human life. But it is not a need that people have to have it or they die or become less because they don’t have it.

  • Kristin

    I think you miss the point of “he’s just not that into you”…it is so freeing to not try to delve into someone else’s psyche. Like i gotta stay on my own needs pyramid—if he leaves you because he is needing more career or wants a parter who is more needy, doesn’t that mean he is not so into you as to stay despite some feelings of inadequacy or insecurity or whatever?

    • CM

      “if he leaves you because he is needing more career, or wants a partner who is more needy, doesn’t that mean he is not so into you as to stay despite some feelings of inadequacy or insecurity or whatever?”

      I don’t think so. I think that it means that the feelings of inadequacy or insecurity (or even just the need to further his career) can usurp those feelings of interest and being “into you.” Just because career (or something else) takes precedence at that point, it doesn’t mean that he’s not into you.
      “All needs must be fulfilled eventually, and when a need is unfulfilled, it’s activated and we’re motivated to work on that need until it’s met. Typically, we work from the bottom up.” So if one of the lower needs is unfulfilled, then that one will typically take precedence beyond the higher level needs.

      That’s how I understand how it’s presented here, anyway.

    • JennyWren

      Right. I have always interpreted “he’s just not that into you” as meaning that, for whatever reason, the guy is not prepared to invest in the connection. That could be because he thinks he can get a better deal elsewhere, but it could equally be because he’s too tied up in his own life to have any attention left for someone else.
      To be honest, I kind of feel that’s all it really boils down to. My experience is that good relationships tend to turn up at very inconvenient times. If someone ditches you because they weren’t “ready,” it basically means they value their own life script over you.

    • belle

      Yup. Just like women, men are driven to insecurity by social pressures and cultural norms projected on them. We don’t always need to dissect it. If a guy is in a place where he can’t be secure and supportive of a woman who is “ahead” of him, I don’t see what’s wrong with ending the relationship. I wouldn’t want to date someone who couldn’t imagine their purpose in my life as anything other than The Provider. Bye!

    • Chickadee

      YES. THIS. It’s really hard when we often feel like “if we just knew WHY, we could move on.” But the fact of the matter is no amount of outside psycho-analysis will get you there, hell you can’t even always believe people when they tell you why. It didn’t work, learn what constructive things you can learn about YOUR behavior in the relationship so that you don’t repeat mistakes, and move on.

    • Anna

      Completely agree. While I love this article and agree with a lot of the points, the one key missing component is accountability. How can I evolve into a more emotionally intelligent and self-aware person so as to avoid men who don’t appreciate me and how can I work on making my relationships with friends and partners more meaningful? It’s not as if we women are flawless and the men just aren’t quite there yet.

  • busybee

    I find it hard to believe anyone would give up a loved one for such superficial reasons. Even someone with a serious personal issue like mental illness or addiction is extremely hard to break up with. Break ups are painful! I’d go back to “he’s not that into you” or “he’s not that into you, anymore”.

  • sarah

    Doing the online dating thing and recently helped two guys realize they weren’t as ready to start dating as they had thought they were. “There’s nothing wrong with you!” Yeah, dude, I know; you’re really missing out. (What I actually said was “I’m so sad about it blah blah blah”)
    So I needed to hear all of this today. Thank you.

    • Daniel Dewey

      In most western societies, men in general (under 40, at least) have lived disadvantaged lives relative to women in general. So, if he’s slightly your lesser, he’s probably your equal.

      • Rachael Batten

        Lol wat.

        • Daniel Dewey

          As it says in the article, men are behind in education. A bunch out other stats tend to come along for the ride.

      • belle

        “In 2014, 32 percent of American women had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31.9 percent of men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

        That 0.1% of women makes you feel like men have lived “a disadvantaged life?” Not to mention that these statistics count the percentage of people who have earned college degrees, which in and of itself is a privilege and still only applies to 1/3 of the population. The other statistics indicate that women are outperforming men in academic settings. What “other stats” are you referring to? Do I need to point out the wage gap, which only INCREASES as a woman progresses in her career?

        The oldest university in the world was founded in the 11th century. A woman did not receive a Bachelor’s degree until 1840. Men don’t get to play the victim card yet.

        • Daniel Dewey

          The rate has been nearing 60-40 in favor of women since the 90s. The statistic you quoted referred to the total population, not the younger portion that is the target audience for this article.

          Other stats would be high school graduation rates, suicides, mortality, and incarceration to get some of the obvious ones.

          • belle

            The fact that you think those factors indicate a “disadvantaged life” for men across the board is telling of an extreme amount of privilege. I’ll help:

            Women have been getting Bachelor’s degrees at a higher overall rate than men since the 80s, but women with college degrees didn’t catch up to men in the overall population until 2014 – thirty years later. In any case, I fail to see how being slightly outnumbered by women in an academic setting could be seen as “a disadvantaged life,” other than that men might have real female competition for the first time in history. In addition, you have to consider the fact that some men don’t finish college because they choose to just go ahead and enter the workforce, where a higher starting salary awaits. Check out this piece from Fortune, which outlines a study that investigated the reasons why men are more likely to leave school to work full time, and suggests that a culture of hypermasculinity is damaging to male performance in school:

            http://fortune.com/2013/03/27/boys-vs-girls-whats-behind-the-college-grad-gender-gap/

            That same hegemonic masculinity is thought to be an indicator of the increased rates of suicide by white middle aged men with no college degree – the death of the white working class. Another great reason to challenge stereotypical gender norms and support alternative family structures (single parents, female breadwinners, etc) as well as advocate for trade schools, apprenticeships, and other paths to education for all genders that don’t necessitate thousands of dollars of student debt.

            Another relevant study:
            http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0891243208325163?journalCode=gasa&

            Beyond graduation itself, many fields have a HUGE disparity between the amount of women who graduate with degrees and the number who actually enter and remain in the workforce. I work in an male dominated industry and it’s impossible to ignore that fact in my day to day life. The women who manage to make it into the workforce leave at alarming rates, due to the wage gap as well as pressure put on working mothers who do not have a structure in place for equal parenting, particularly when it comes to paid leave (if they get it at all). Personally, I can point to multiple talented women in my office who are working as the subordinate of a male project manager with equal or lesser qualifications than they have, with no other indication of leadership capability from the men. Some of these people even graduated from the same university program – the only difference is their gender.

            The disparity in life expectancy and mortality rates by gender is a universal biological fact everywhere on earth – even for apes – but I don’t see how that would indicate a cultural disadvantage for an individual, particularly in a patriarchal society like ours. In addition, many studies suggest that part of the increased mortality rate for men (especially teens) may also correlate with increased pressure to conform to masculine stereotypes and therefore engage in riskier behavior, not to mention other factors like smoking and alcohol use, which are squarely the choice of the individual.

            It is certainly true that people of color and lower socioeconomic status are at a deep disadvantage, particularly following the War on Drugs and prevalence of racial profiling. Black men are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, and get sentenced more harshly.

            But – I will reiterate – it is foolish to say that men in general are living disadvantaged lives relative to women. I have explained more than I need to.

  • Jessica S

    Amen to all of this…I honestly feel like a lot of men don’t know what else they have to offer in a relationship if they can’t “provide security” for their significant other…which kind of makes me wanna ask “well, what are you here for then?” I’m single right now, and seeing this play out in the dating world is really a trip. I’m a firm believer in splitting bills (especially in the beginning), and you wouldn’t believe how many guys take offense to that. I’m not calling you broke, buddy…i just 1. dont want you thinking i owe you anything and 2. have the money for my half, so why shouldn’t i pay? and that kind of reaction just lets me know from the jump that you ain’t the one.

    To me this kind of “waaah she doesn’t need me what do i doooo” mentality men have these days is exhausting. Typically if a woman is giving you the time of day, she’s not trying to compete with you…we’re looking for companionship, some emotional depth. If they can’t handle the fact that women aren’t letting a men be the star the show in relationships anymore, then by all means, go be by your lonesome.

    • kay

      yes!! i really really wish men knew how important it is to develop *relationship* skills. like, you dont just reach level of career success and say “ok everyone im ready for my relationship now”, you have to actually know how to be with someone- emotional intimacy, being supportive, keeping things fun with someone day after day- these are skills! that only get learned by being in relationships. i think this is why more women feel being single is more relaxing, because men dont expect themselves to know how to do this relationship stuff. i wish they were considering these skills as part of “being ready”, instead of just reaching a career level. they need to also (or maybe instead) reach a “carer” level (sorry that pun is the worst).

      • PJ

        100%. Nobody teaches us relationship skills during childhood and it feels like there just aren’t a ton of resources for us men to learn how to be better at relationships. It wasn’t until I started seeing a therapist for unrelated issues that she suggested I join a therapy group to practice, in essence, how to be a compassionate person.

        Reading Pena Chodron and Thich Naht Hanh also helps.

        • qnswmn

          I’m curious, when growing up did your Mother, Aunt’s etc ever discuss how to respect women and treat people in general? I had numerous conversations like that – even used myself in scenarios..how would you feel if someone did xyz to me, aunt’s, sister’s? If this is not happening then I’m inclined to feel that women are failing to educate their Son’s, you shouldn’t have to read about it in a book unless it a supplement to what you were already taught. Even today’s “liberated” women are the first and primary teachers of children, teens, and young adults. No one ever said treat people like how you want to be treated?

      • Daniel Dewey

        Anecdotally, I’ve seen the opposite in lots of relationships.

    • Daniel Dewey

      It’s subconscious. They are exhibiting behaviors related to testing for how much access they’d have to kids they would have with you. If you can just up and leave with kids (or worse, kids plus child support), it’s not a safe gamble. If they care about self-actualization (which often means a legacy), they look somewhere that they have some control and can plan. Men need reproductive rights.

      • Rachael Batten

        Male reproductive rights end at the point of ejaculation, lobby for better male birth control options, not taking away rights from women.

        • Daniel Dewey

          You don’t have to remove women’s rights to protect men’s, but you’d have to admit it’s wrong to have people paying child support to their rapists?

        • Chokwadi

          We carry the child, but a man has as much rights as we do, half the genetic material of the child is his. No one is taking rights from us, you are actually taking rights from men. We can’t deny men a say on whether we abort or not, and yet demand child maintenance from him when it’s convenient for us. Equal rights through out.

          • Rachael Batten

            The law as it stands is an attempt to redistribute the extreme biological inequalities of human pregnancy and birth, that some men (and some Serena Joys apparently) lack the capacity to understand that is only making the necessity of the law as it stands obvious. And providing half of the blueprint, and none of the building materials or even the very site itself, in no way negates that biological reality.

          • Chokwadi

            Interesting, contrary to what feminism preaches, you admit that man and woman are not equal, right?

  • Taylor Nicholson

    Total self righteous attitude – more like he doesn’t need you- any man that truly adores you makes u feel incredible and u can’t leave him

  • Paris Richardson

    Really glad to have stumbled across this Jenna! Your words resonated with me so much. I recently got dumped with a guy who said “its not the right time for me” and that I “have so much more to do in my life”. I couldn’t understand why, this is the guy who spent ages sweeping me off my feet and told me he’d loved me. I was so confused and spent weeks beating myself up about it, I believed and admittedly still have moments of self doubt, thinking that I’m just not good enough for him.

    But he is himself going through a complete career change, had to move back with his parents and is uncertain about the future. Maybe he really does believe all the things you so eloquently said.

    • Erica L

      Hi Paris,
      I recently got dumped by my boyfriend “who wasn’t ready” and “couldn’t succeed in his career” while I was in his life. Absolutely heartbreaking after he tried so hard to solidify our relationship, and constantly told me how much he adored me. I feel your pain, sister!

      This article was a great read. We have a lot to offer and will find a man who is confident enough to be in a relationship.

    • Chokwadi

      Soon or later you won’t love him for who he is, but for what he is, and deep inside he knows it. People love children and women unconditionally, but men are not loved unconditionally : he is loved for what he has to offer. When a guy meets a new girl his friends ask him, ‘Is she hot ?’ When a woman dates a new guy, her friends ask,’What does he do?’. Women just need to be, in-order to be loved and valued. When a boat is about to sink, they save ‘women and children first’. When big accident happens, on the news the report specifically mentions the number of women and children who got injured or passed away. Men are the disposable sex.

  • Jason Wilkins

    As a guy, I’d like to add my thoughts. Personally, I think there are some men who need to come to terms with the amazing accomplishments of women. That being said, it is bothersome when a woman says she doesn’t need a man but wants them. Love is powerful and overwhelming at times. It’s not the sort of thing you want. It’s much deeper than that. It’s the sort of thing that is so profoundly tied to one that some die of broken hearts when they lose a partner. For a woman or man to say I don’t need you but I want you is a rather serious minimization of the extreme bond of love. Certainly a man or woman may not need another to support them financially but it hurts if a partner doesn’t feel needed emotionally. I dunno…I think few women would appreciate their husband saying they don’t need them but want them. Just my two cents though I like the author’s novel analysis of the topic

    • Tasha

      I’m glad you mentioned this because I’ve come across men (typically on the younger side) that have this perspective that love is about needing each other. You make a point, that if love is so deep and spiritual for someone, how could they claim they don’t need their partner? However, when you remove attachment (needing something in order to feel happy) you are stepping into a different type of love that in my opinion is much stronger and significant. Basically by saying “I want you but I don’t need you” you’re consciously choosing to love that person and take the time to invest and devote yourself to that person EVEN THOUGH you would be fine without them. This is sacrifice, this is commitment, this is conscious choice. As human beings, I believe this conscious choice is the most precious gift we can give to each other, as parents, as friends, lovers, etc.

      • Daniel Dewey

        The thing he’s missing is that men do need women to commit to crazy high standards, because they do need women if they want kids. Women have a lot more options for having kids, committed men or not. That’s why there are so many single mothers.

        • PJ

          Adoption is a thing that exists, we don’t need to be in relationships with women to have children.

          • Daniel Dewey

            That’s not practical at scale. It’s also not a biological child, and that matters to a lot of people.

    • seresy

      I could live without my husband. I know I’d be able to survive and possibly have a happy fulfilling life. The thing is, I don’t want to. It’s a choice. I love him, I want to be with him, but recognizing that as a choice as we grow older and into different people than we were when we met and had the “I need you, I love you, let’s be glued to each other foreverrrrrr” thing makes the relationship more powerful.

      Long-term relationships are a lot of work. I am still needed emotionally. I still need him emotionally. But we both know we’re here because we want to be, not because of that need. (14 years and counting!)

      • Daniel Dewey

        This article is talking about young people that probably haven’t had kids. The thing Jason misses is that the men need the commitment of the woman (not that there’s any legal guarantee), so it only feels right emotionally if she needs him, too. This changes once there are kids.

        • seresy

          I didn’t mention kids (don’t have any). You’re building a partnership with a relationship and especially if there aren’t children involved both people need to know the other is there because they want to be, not because they’re dependent (emotionally, financially, etc) on the other. Of course people want to feel needed and necessary, regardless of gender, but not because one “needs” the other to be a whole person.

          • Daniel Dewey

            If kids are being ignored, yes, it is just about wants. Lots of people make actions in relationships based on kids, even if subconsciously. Right now, in most “western” countries, men need a woman’s commitment to have children in their life. Woman don’t need a man’s commitment. So, it’s hard for couples to have balance.

    • june2

      This was a very helpful insight into why men may feel disturbed by what has been meant as an inviting compliment…Thanks! I will ponder this point of view and my perspective on it.

  • Sherry Birkin

    I think this is a problem – assigning female thinking to men.

    I do not believe that men are threatened by so-called powerful women or women who are successful. I think that is just an excuse to ditch the relationship. I doubt if it is really because she is in a different place, and it is more about her attitude in the place that she is in.

    Is it not possible that these men, even in a great relationship, are just not getting something that they need? Why is it a problem for women to accept that someone does not care about them as much as they care about that person? That he really is just not that into you? You want him, but for him, not so much.

    I believe that men can be in love with a woman that is not giving him what he needs, the same way women can stay with a man who is not giving her what she needs.

    It has been clear for decades that men like to “provide”, not just for women, but for anyone who happens to be around that they may care about. However, so many women just cannot accept this. It is like a personal affront that someone may want to give you something and not necessarily expect anything in return.

    Yes, there may be men who do expect something in return, however just because some gives to you does not mean you are obligated to give back. This seems to be strictly a female thing. If your friend takes you for lunch, now you have to take her. Men are not like this. They like to provide on some kind of male genetic level. It is in their DNA, and does not require reciprocation.

    I believe, and I have tested this on a few guys, that men want a well rounded connection with the woman that they will fully commit to. If all the pieces are not there, then it is not a good fit for permanency. The do stay in these relationships, but if they find someone who fits the “well rounded” criteria, they will move on with that person. Simple.

    They go on dates, have fun, maybe even schedule a second. But in their heart of hearts, they already know that there is not enough criteria for a good match, so they move on. It is really not that complicated.

    Women are the ones who complicate everything. They make other women feel inferior, whether in magazines or on tv, they bitch and backbite with each other. And they are always, always insecure in relationships, which comes from a lack of self-esteem, which is actually what YOU think about yourself, and not what others think about you.

    You really need to love yourself more, and then you will attract men who are more aligned with your goals.

  • Elijah Patrick Ible

    YOU EVERY MEET A MAN AT LEVEL 5 BUT IT DOESN’T WORK OUT BECAUSE THE WOMAN IS AT LOWER LEVELS? IF THE MAN WANTS TO BE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BUT SHE’S NOT LOOKING FOR THAT TYPE OF MAN AND JUST WANTS A COP DONT YOU THINK ITS ON HER?

    *This post is an opionion, statement, scenario and not based on true events or facts.

  • NikNak

    Wow between this and Hailey’s article on crushes, my mind is blown. I’m trying to figure out how many MR articles I can send to people without them thinking I’m in a cult…

    “Can I talk to you about Manrepeller?”

  • Me

    Nice try. Using Maslow Hierarchy to explain something that doesn’t make sense to me. I think it’s more than that and lie on hundreds of thousand years of evolution. As a man I love to be a provider for someone I TRULY love and I think it’s embedded in our genes. Few hundreds years won’t change that unless we try to fool ourselves.

  • Wilson Flores

    Sorry ladies, not buying into your reasoning. This article is extremely narrow in scope. I cant believe most of you have a collage degree.

    • A Woman

      We earned our collage degrees in middle school, when did you earn yours?

      • This is the greatest retort.

      • Wilson Flores

        A women.Never heard of it. What is college? …wait…I can answer that. 80% indoctrination and brain washing 20% socializing to be indoctrinated and brainwashed. Bonus points, to be a social drone and a cowardly moppet…in desperate need of safe spaces, crayons and puppies. Not necessarily in that order. Grammar police: do not attemp to critic my grammatical errors for I, never set foot in an indoctrination center. Luky me. Educated smart people complicate the hell out of simple.

        • Woods

          Oh dear, it appears the Man Repeller shield generators are down today

          • Wilson Flores

            I love it how people have a tendency to formulate all these assumptions about ” men ” and the reasons why they don’t commit to the most toxic generation of political 3rd wave feminism. This topic is so extensive that we would have to be here explaining till the end of next week and you’ll be none the wiser. I don’t have a formal education. I was an orphan that grew up on the streets of a so called 3 world country. Civil war is no walk in the park. I understand the workings of cultural Marxism and the process of psychological subversion. The war on men. Using women as weapons against men. Demoralize men in any social structure, and you weaken society. Feminization of boys. Family courts, law, welfare, criminal justice systems. Government. Psychological incest. What gives any man his worth? This article is shit rapped up in a freshly baked bun. Nothing but rabbit shit.

  • Boscoe

    When I was younger I didnt get into anything serious because I couldnt support a family. Now I can and I will go out with women who we have amazing chemistry but I wont be interested in them because they either dont want children or I dont think they would make good mothers. Ultimate deal breaker.

    • Daniel Dewey

      Yeah, it’s funny to see an article that talks about self-actualization and doesn’t at least mention kids. Not everyone wants them, but they are still a major factor.

  • Daniel Dewey

    Self-actualization is often attached to concepts of legacy. Since men don’t have reproductive rights in large swaths of the globe, they will get stuck. It makes having a life plan impossible. Some of them are also probably breaking up the easy way by saying what she wants to hear.

    • Woods

      Then perhaps it’s time to decouple “legacy” from biological reproduction. There is so much more that can be done to leave a mark and benefit future generations. Working with youth in nearly any capacity- teaching, mentorship, healthcare… the list goes on. Do something to improve the environment to leave a healthier world behind. Invent something! The possibilities that don’t involve inseminating someone as a vessel for your legacy are endless.

      • Daniel Dewey

        Why bother if you’re not going to have children to live in it? You might not like it, but many people tend to be motivated by providing for their families. It’s genetic, and it’s not going to go away via well-wishing.

        • Woods

          I don’t know how to convince you to care about people other than blood relatives so I won’t waste my time trying but…. yikes!

          • Daniel Dewey

            I’m not talking about myself. I’m lukewarm on kids. I’m talking about people in general, because I live in a society and can respect that other people may have different views from myself. I can’t fault anyone for wanting their own genetic children. It’s perfectly natural, respects their independence, and most people don’t have serious genetic disorders that would make it risky.

  • Sophia

    We’re all doomed.

  • Chokwadi

    I thank God I discovered the Redpill Philosophy.

  • Felix Berger

    congrats on having your article be a hot topic on the view!!!!

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgsU8qG4fgY

      Same duplicitous feminists conveniently refusing to acknowledge the underlying gender-gap in access to sexual opportunities. The true test of one’s devotion to a principal is when one has to give up something to adhere to the principal.

  • Joss Covenoho

    He never loved you. Period. The thought of someone you love not being present in your life is so traumatizing that it cannot even be imagined. When anyone truly loves anyone…it is like a death for them to be apart. The fact that he can be apart from you or ALLOW another man to hold or touch or be next too you shows how little he was attracted to you. Not worried to lose ..or lose you means no feelings…and there NEVER will be any…which bothers him more that he waited to see if that feeling would form in him eventually…and it never did. Finally…if a man loves you…he does everything in his power to win you…he pushes himself to be great…to make you need him..want him..admire him because he will not allow another man to steal you. Your great long excuse…makes you feel better.

  • David Fischer

    Maybe ask men “why”…

    You’re coming at it from a female perspective that has been manipulated by years of propaganda.

    “Feminism” was created by the CIA with Gloria Steinem as the front face to push the “career” narrative at women. Two earner household is better for a consumerist society. That’s it.

    The consequences and repercussions have been negative since the 1960s.

    For one, men, don’t call work “a career”, it’s just work. You’ll have to grok that for three days and then you’ll start to see the deception.

    Women’s bodies are biologically screaming for a baby the moment they start dropping eggs. One of the main focuses of a human female is gathering of resources for making a baby. However, human females are attempting to suppress biology for “a career”. Makes for a very unhappy human.

    And men are saying no thank you because a woman suppressing her biology for “a career” is lost. “A career” does not define anyone.

    A woman’s strength is her body. Be in it. Chasing “a career” is retarded. Do something you love and be happy…please!

    And stop plugging your vagina during menstruation. Your body is trying to expel it. Stop doing anything that changes your physiological rhythms, you’ll be happier.

  • Ayan Mullick

    I totally empathize with any hard situations you might have faced. Let me offer my theory Based on my experience. Just like a man with easy access to food does not think too much about where his dinner is going to come from as opposed to a poor person somewhere who would constantly worry about something like that, because women have access to more sexual opportunities than men more often than not connecting with men is a Pursuit for a sense of belonging[Level 3 or above] for women. The average man does not have as much access to sexual opportunities. This is backed by the fact that all digitized democratized dating platforms eg. Tinder are almost entirely funded by mail subscribers. Just like a man food-deprived would consider a moral compromise for access to food the average man often needs to make a moral compromise [sometimes subconscious] in connecting with a woman at a higher level just to meet his physiological needs. And because pretension moral compromise is unsustainable by definition it does not last long. But the root of the problem is in quantifying and understanding the differences in access[not choice] to sexual opportunities for both genders.
    Simplifying, this inequality at level 1 affects women’s safety at level 2 and men’s self-esteem and sense of the belonging at levels 3 and 4.

    • doublecurl

      I’m sorry, what? A quarter of American men have paid for sex? Even if that figure is true, why the hell am I going to feel sorry for them and their “physiological needs”? Poor dudes “risking their safety”. Yeah, that’s exactly how we should be viewing the sex trade. Get outta here with this bullshit.

    • Aman H

      I agree with u Ayan

  • Bria

    Ugh, I hate when the MR comments get infiltrated by trolls. Piss off, you’re so obvious.

  • Avi Ahdoot

    I think you made good points but you missed on something that could have made your post truly special. This was an opportunity to see that “gender norms” don’t only effect women negatively. This man, and many others, fell pray to the expectations of society and themselves due to these norms. The fact that he didn’t feel like offered anything to you is really sad for him if you really think about it.

    If you want to truly fight gender norms it needs to go both ways. You can’t only fight against the shitty part for women and then shit on men when they have to face the pressures of their own gender norms.

    • Anna

      Amen.

  • Noel_NY

    So ultimately, we are back at the simple, age old cliche’ , tha “women simply mature faster than men”, so you will struggle like you are perpetually at a grade school Sadie Hawkins dance…forever

  • Gaia C

    Wow this exact thing just happened to me! And I didn’t understand why he kept saying “you’ll be making more money than me” or “you’ll become a med student in the fall and forget about me, you don’t need me”. Thank you for this article and elucidating what I suspected was the case, that what I felt wasn’t wrong. Here’s to being an intimidating woman ;D cheers!

  • Afreen

    My boyfriend rejected me because I was of a different religion. At least that’s what he told me . He told me he belongs to a small town where they won’t accept “US”. I was flabbergasted. We were so good together. The connection felt like magic. I have started questioning my own judgement of people after this.