a Man

Dr. Dennis W. Neder is the author of Being a Man in a Woman's World. Got a love, relationship or man/woman question? He'll answer all letters. Write E-Mail for answers or visit:

I'm No Longer His "Dream"

Hi, Dr. Dennis

I am a 34 year old woman who is insanely attracted (you could even say devoted) to a 56 year old man who still makes me melt after almost 4 years of knowing him. We have seen photos of each other, but our only contact has been via e-mail and telephone - never in person.

I met this man while I was still married. Our business relationship turned friendly, and after a year and a half of a friendly relationship, our talks led to more intimate and personal subjects - I can honestly say I was the one who was curious about his sexual likes and dislikes...he has always been a perfect gentleman and has never placed an emphasis on anything sexual (that is INSANELY attractive to me).

After a year of a VERY intense emotional relationship (this man had proven to me that he would wait as long as he had to for me), I had beat myself into an emotional frenzy because I felt I was cheating on my husband, so I ended our "romantic" relationship. I love the man dearly - he has my heart - so I explained that I wanted to still be friends. He wanted to have contact as friends once or twice a month, which I could not have lived with, so he said he needed a couple of weeks to get used to the "new order of things" - going from a very intimate friendship to a platonic friendship, then he contacted me at the end of a "2 week hiatus".

That was 1 year ago this month, and I have since divorced my husband (for narcotic addiction - not because of my feelings for this other man). I poured my heart out to this man a couple of months ago, basically telling him how much I still care for him, and I wish he would give our romantic relationship another chance - at least meet me in person before he gives up on us altogether.

This was a man that was absolutely CRAZY about me last year, but he told me recently that he did not see a future with me, even though he has a "great deal of affection for me that he cannot deny". Lately, he has been growing more distant - his phone calls are down from 8 a month to 3 or 4, and his emails are only 1 per week now instead of 3 or 4. My divorce will be final in 2 1/2 weeks, and I am wondering if he is trying to distance himself from me now in an attempt to build attraction since we plan to visit in person soon after my divorce is final?

I keep reading all this advice to men to create distance from women to build attraction while still leaving them on her agenda. I feel he is doing this to me - or maybe I am just HOPING that is what he is doing.

Could he be trying to get rid of me altogether since I am about to be divorced because he would think I was "needy" or something? He said he is very attracted to my physical appearance (I was voted best-looking in high school and have held my own over the years), my analytical ability, my positive outgoing attitude, my intelligence, and my devotion to my family and friends - those are his words, not mine. Could a man throw away a woman who was once the woman of his dreams? We have stayed such good friends since the "romantic breakup", but now he is creating all this distance - it's not normal for him.

And for all you men who have read this far, here's a tip for you - this man made me fall HARD for him because he was a perfect gentleman who truly listened to what I said and could even ask me questions about it later. He is VERY intelligent and well-spoken, and has a genuine interest in every facet of my life. And yes, I love him because he stands his ground and did not let an emotional outburst I had get to him - he is very strong emotionally without ever having walked all over my emotions. He is very optimistic and supportive of me which goes a long way.

I want this man, and without sounding too conceited, I just cannot understand why he would not want me, but it appears that way right now. Do you have any idea why he is creating all this distance from me right before we are supposed to meet?

He KNOWS I would not sleep with a man that was not devoted to me long term, so him telling me he does not see a future with me is not promising. Maybe he just wants the sex and is being honest with me about his standing on a long-term commitment since we are good friends. Or maybe he can't say anything about a long-term commitment since he has not seen me in person yet? I know men are visual creatures like that.

Do you have any suggestions on what I could do to show him that I would never leave him again now that I am soon to be legally divorced? I completely crushed this man (and myself) last year and I beat myself up for it daily, but I want him to feel secure with me again now that I am free to be with him.

I would really appreciate any help you could provide. Thanks.


First - to any guy that's reading this, I strongly urge you to NOT use this as an example what to - or not to - do. In fact, you should never take relationship/dating advice from women unless they're lesbians and even then, their target market is rather different from yours! Buyer beware!

Sorry - this may work for you, but trust me, your situation; like your relationship, is very different from the "norm". Any guy that believes this will work is going to find out the hard way that it won't. Then, they're going to write to me, very unhappy with the results.

Yes, I can tell you exactly what's going on here. You've spent the last 4 years building up an emotional connection that frankly, only exists in your mind. Your brain actually takes in information at over 60,000 impressions PER SECOND. That's a tremendous rate of information, and if your brain doesn't have access to the real information, it "fills in the gaps" by giving you whatever it is that you want. In your case, you filled in the gaps with all the intellectual/emotional "chemistry" without having the actual impressions to work with.

Consider this: when you're "in person" you get not only the verbal part of communication, but a much bigger part is missing: non-verbal. You can't watch the tilt of his head, the almost instantaneous, impreceptable movement of the corner of his mouth and the slight changes in his complexion. Instead, you've spent many hours on the phone and via email getting none of this! Your mind has "inserted" this information for you since it wasn't there. I'm sorry to say that you are (in effect) in love with a ghost!

While you've been building all of this up and creating all the things you need to want this man, he's been denied what he needs! Even worse, you've now required that he create something that doesn't even exist to get it! You demand (as you stated) that he "devotes" to you when in fact, there is nothing there (other than huge phone bills) on which to base such an expectation.

Here's something you really need to understand: men and women use sex and physical intimacy VERY differently; at least in the beginning of the relationship. You (as a woman) use sex to create bonding and inimacy. Men on the other hand use sex to determine if we WANT TO create bonding and intimacy! This period only lasts for a short while and if you miss it, it's very difficult to get back - almost impossible.

Go back and re-read that paragraph until the idea really sinks in. You need to understand why; while getting what you want, you've also shot yourself in the foot by denying him what HE needs in order to be where you are!

In effect, he's passed through all of the phases that you've been building up to. He may very well have been where you are now years ago. However, by not having the physical aspect of a relationship with you, his mind decided to relieve this pain by taking away his need for you. In effect, he's fallen out of love with you and has become nothing more than a friend and maybe even less than that.

Right now, his contact with you is probably more out of habit than out of need. By putting such huge requirements on him in order to even build anything from this point forward, he's probably just given up and is moving on emotionally if not mentally. This is why he sees no "future" with you. It's based entirely on your past together.

All people interested in relationships need to understand this point: all relationships have a "window of opportunity" where both people's needs coincide. Many women (and sometimes men) try to artifically manipulate this window by saying things like, "Let's take this slow" or in other ways like preventing or putting of first meetings (as in this case). What this does is to destroy the chance for the relationship to begin to ripen. It never leaves this "proto-stage" and eventually withers and dies.

I regret to say that this is likely where things are for you now. You've spent far too much time "selling" and no time "delivering". While this may have worked well for you, it absolutely didn't work for him. I can say this with great assurity; both from being a man and having talked to many, many thousands.

At this point, I'm not very confident in your ability to "right" this situation. I'll bet that on top of all history here, you're also at some distance away from each other - maybe hours or even days. With this added problem you aren't going to "fix" things here unless one of you moves and even then, you still have to get past the history!

If you two are local enough to get together regularly (like instead of calling), I strongly urge you to do that right away. Without being in person, you're never going to work this out, and frankly, I doubt it even then.

Best regards...

Building Experience From Inexperience


I'm 28 years old and I've been with my husband for 10 years. We were very young when we got married and my husband had very little dating experience before we met. He is a great guy, but he has a hard time reading body language and sometimes misses the point even when I'm being blunt with him. He can also be very sensitive, so I don't want to offend him or hurt his feelings.

My main complaint is when we are intimate (aside from the fact that he can't tell what I enjoy or don't enjoy even if I tell him) is that he's a terrible kisser. I would love to improve his kissing technique, but don't know how to approach it without hurting him or making him feel guilty for 10 years of unsatisfying kisses. I know I should have dealt with this long ago.

Improving our kissing would vastly improve our physical relationship. Is there some way to teach him without emasculating him? What would you advise?

I'd like a male point of view on this.



I'm not surprised to hear that you're having communication issues. This is extremely common as people tend to choose their partners at least partially for this opposite style. In fact, opposites really do attract.

The most common communication scenario is where you have a "direct-speaking" man and an "implication-speaking" woman. Thus, I'll assume that's your case. What may seem like specific language to you would be totally lost on your husband. Let me give you an example:

When you were young, I'll bet your mother would say to you, "I wish your room were clean" meaning to you that you'd better go clean your room. She was much less likely to say "Go clean your room" unless she was angry with you and wanted to emphasize it by being so specific.

Your husband probably never heard his mother use this "communication style" and in fact, if he did, he'd interpret it more like, a strong wish on the part of his mother! His response would likely be, "Then, by all means, please - go clean it!"

So much in male/female communications hovers around these sorts of misunderstandings. However, by simply realizing this fact, you can go very far to correcting them. I recommend that you visit my website and read an article about this very subject: "How to Get A Man to Answer Relationship Questions" ( for a better idea on how all this works.

With regards to kissing and sexual issues, I agree that after 10 years, you really should have all this worked out! What aspect of your relationship is more important than this? For the simple lack of communication skills, you've effectively wasted 10 years. Where do you think you'd be now if you'd have handled this early-on?

What I suggest is this: one day or evening in the near future when you're both feeling calm, quiet and close, (don't do this for instance while he's watching TV or doing something in the yard), just ask him if he's getting everything he could imagine from his relationship with you. Then, ask a few probing questions, (see the above-referenced article). Get into this and view it as a relationship-building exercise.

After you've talked to him for awhile and made a few discoveries of your own, you can then get into your own issues. But, do this with the attitude of continuing to build your relationship - not with what he's doing wrong. This is a process, not a single event. You can say, "Can I show you how I'd like you to kiss me?" Then, show him. You can even make a game out of it. Play-reward him when he does it right, and show him what is wrong.

This isn't going to fix everything overnight, but you may find that with a little practice things get much better very quickly.

Best regards...

Why Can't I Meet Someone That's Available?

Hello Dr. Neder:


Oh yes, a word you probably see all the time. But surely there is no plain and simple way to understand men or even women for that matter.

Here's my dilemma: I am a single, pretty, tall, 24-year-old woman. I have had a couple of boyfriends here and there, but just one serious one. This past Christmas, I met someone special that had come home from college for 2 weeks. He was a guy I went to high school with, but never really talked to before.

After we met up again, we talked everyday and saw each other every other day. We were romantic; kissing, hugging, looking deep into each other's eyes, etc. He said he really liked me and that he'd miss me when he left to return to college, but last night he told me that he didn't want a relationship, but wanted to keep in touch and still see each other now and then.

What does that mean??? No relationship, but he still wants the things relationships are all about? It's weird!



Frankly, this isn't as weird as it might seem. This guy is away at college. There, he knows he's going to meet a lot of women and he wants to keep his options open. On the other hand, it's a good deal to know that he has someone waiting at home for him too - a good deal that is, for him!

You say that your "...pretty, tall..." etc., and that may or may not be true, but either way, that's not the real issue here. The distance is the issue. Trust me on this one - long-distance relationships NEVER work out! That's just the way it is. There are so many reasons for this that I can't even begin to describe them all here, but suffice it to say that I know what I'm talking about. Perhaps after he finishes his education he might be someone you'd consider dating when he returns home, but I wouldn't hold out hope. He'll be a different person by then.

So, let's talk about now instead.

You are obviously interested in finding a relationship, but let me ask you: do you really know exactly what it is you're looking for? Have you ever sat down to really figure this out? As I say in many interviews, most people spend more time planning their vacations than they spend planning their relationships. Isn't that ridiculous? But by "planning" I'm not talking about looking around until you stumble over some guy. I'm talking about really sitting down and crafting your perfect relationship on paper.

We often set goals for our lives, but this usually involves our work lives and sometimes a few other aspects. I think it's critical to set goals for your emotional life too. But you have to be very clear and specific on what (*NOT* whom) you want! This should describe not only the type of guy you're looking for in every way possible, but what your life will be like when you find it. This last part is critical as I've seen many people do just the first part and then keep searching even though they've found exactly what they really wanted. They did this simply because they didn't realize they had what they wanted in the first place.

Likewise, you need to recognize that you need some relationship skills behind you. This involves actually learning how men think and act. Most of women's information about men come from other women! This is a fatal mistake as I've seen so much misinformation given from otherwise well-meaning women. If you really want to learn about men, I suggest that you get it right from the source. If you don't have a ready source of this information, I suggest that you get involved in my discussion group, "BeingAMan" here: It's free and filled with men discussing men's relationship, dating and sex issues. There are also many women in there too in order to learn much more about men.

Another skill you have to build is both how to approach men, and how to be approached. It would seem that the latter is easy - just hang around until some great guy walks up and sweeps you off your feet. Not so! In fact, most men don't really even know how to approach a woman, or what women to approach. You have to learn to make it easy for men to do this by learning how to flirt - make eye contact, establish connection and rapport learn communication tools, etc.

These will get you far along the way, but there's much more! What about learning to approach great men yourself? Why should you have to wait around until some guy you think you'd like approaches you? There's nothing wrong with taking that responsibility yourself and making things happy - for yourself. Besides, wouldn't you like to meet a guy that is so comfortable with his own masculinity that he's perfectly comfortable both approaching - and being approached - by women?

Finally, you have to actually be somewhere that you can meet other people. Men aren't going to just find you in the phone book! I constantly urge people to find activities and hobbies that they enjoy. Invariably, you'll find that there are clubs, organizations and events all centered around these activities and hobbies. What's cool about this is that you'll not only have a lot of fun, you'll meet other fun people too.

This isn't an exhaustive list of things to do to kick-start your love life, but it'll take you a long way along the path. For much more I suggest you also visit my website as there's very large amount of information and ideas right there at your fingertips.

Best regards...

Is it Time to Move in Together?

Dear Dr. Neder:

This seems silly to me, but I am always in favor of a second opinion.

My boyfriend of 1 ½ years and I are considering moving in together. Well, I suggested it and now it is on the table. You hit the nail on the head with your articles (The Mathamatics of Moving In, Moving In Together, Living Together Before Marriage and Problems with Living Together). I do want our relationship to progress (bad reason to move in together after reading these articles) but I also want to know if we are wasting our time. A year and a half seems like a long time.

We alternate between homes, mine on the weekdays and his on the weekends. We do not sleep well together! Rare is a morning when we both wake up feeling refreshed. My thinking is well lets just figure it out NOW, we are either going to make it or we should move on.

Furthermore, he is a difficult fellow. He is military born and bred and his emotions consist entirely of logic. He looks at our relationship in a completely logical fashion to the point where he weighs the pros and cons and must have decided the pros outweigh the cons.

What I am driving at is insecurity. I want to move in to get to that level of understanding and comprehension of what the other person is about. Our issue is that I am an emotional female and he is an overly logical male.

I am sorry if it seems like I am writing an advice columnist, but it seems like you have a handle on when to, and when not to make these relationship changes.


A second opinion seems silly to you??? Actually, I "am" an advice columnist, so it doesn't seem odd to me at all. Here's what's going on:

You two really are opposites. That can be a very good thing - or a very bad thing depending on how you handle it. If he's logic and you're emotion, that's going to make for some very challenging times indeed! It's far better to have a balance between them as you both not only need to get your own needs met, but you also need to be able to understand (and sometimes adopt) the other's point of view. Being on such opposite sides of the fence may create great tension between you. I first suggest that you both work on this as a goal in your relationship; to gain a better handle on the other's methods to understanding and dealing with both joys and problems within the relationship.

With regards to moving in together, let's consider a few points:

First of all, you mentioned that "...a year and a half seems like a long time..." My question is: for what? Do you think that you need to move in together or be married simply because of the passage of time? That's very short-sighted in my humble. Living together, dating, marriage, etc., are not "relationships". They are FORMATS of relationships! Do you understand the difference? It's a critical distinction. The format has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality other than the more "tight" the format the greater the conflicts in a less-than-perfect relationship; and let's face it - there is no perfect relationship! I would strongly urge you to forget the timeframes and focus on the quality instead. Make decisions for your relationship based on what you want to grow or change - not because a certain amount of time has passed.

You mentioned that you and he don't wake up refreshed from sleeping together. Can you learn to, or are you going to start sleeping in different beds? This is another critical question to answer as if you wind up in different beds, or even different rooms you're going to quickly question your reasoning for being together in the first place. Do you (or he) really need just a roommate? Just because 1.5 years have past, do you really think that if you don't move in together you're not "going anywhere" with the relationship? Again, that's short-sighted.

Things like moving in together and even getting married isn't going to solve your insecurity problems. This is internal - not external. It's just as easy for one person to cheat when living together or being married as it is when you're just dating. That's not going to solve your insecurity issues; and in fact, it may even make it worse. When tensions arise in the relationship are you going to assume that he's out with other women? I can assure you that they will arise as that's part of being under the same roof. Insecurities need to be handled before you consider such a drastic change in your relationship format.

All in all, the reasons for moving in together should stem from having a terrific, solid relationship in the first place and both parties wanting to grow all those good things. It should never be done (nor should marriage) in order to solve other problems. It exists for its own benefit and for its own reasons.

Best regards...

Do YOU Have Different Rules For Women?

Here's an interesting question I was recently asked: are there different rules for women and men when it comes to the entire dating/sex/relationship game, and if so, what standards should women enjoy that men don't?

One of the reasons why women pull things like "the crying game" (NOT the movie - eeew!) and other little relationship-manipulation techniques is simply because we men let them do it. We often know that they are doing it (or at least suspect) and we still allow it to go on! Frankly, nothing will cause a woman to lose respect for you quicker than for her to know you see it and still tolerate it.

As adults (and I'm assuming that you're only dating adults), it's completely reasonable for you or any man to expect the women in your lives to live up to being an adult. That means taking responsibility for one's actions and for the outcome of events. We are not women's buddies, saviors or therapists. We have reasonable needs and expectations and just because those may differ from someone else's makes them no less valid.

If you want sex - fine!!! If she doesn't - fine!!! If she wants love - fine!!! If you don't - fine!!!

It's everyone's responsibility to step up to the plate and strive to get what they want while giving others what they want in return. Instead, what men often do is try to play both sides of the net. They want to get what they want, and to insure that the other person gets what they want too.

That's an honorable position, but in fact, it's futile. You can't do this adequately and by attempting to take responsibility for it, you're almost insuring that neither person gets what they want. Even worse, you're wasting huge amounts of your limited resources to get nowhere.

On the other end of the spectrum is the guy that women (and many men) complain about all the time - the user. He has absolutely no concern about anyone else and is solely focused only on his own needs. He is an emotional child. However, this doesn't describe most men; although you'd never know it by listening to some women! While being very visible through the contempt he earns, he's also pretty rare because he insures his own failure. Are there exceptions? Sure. There's the guy that continues to take and take and take, and simply because of some less-important aspect of his persona or life, others continue to give - to a point. Some celebrities are like this for instance. It's not because they are extraordinary people, but because they have an extraordinary job; that there's always someone else 'round the corner willing to give something more. Ultimately, these people burn out those around them and either wind up alone in obscurity, or fix their ego-problems and join the rest of us.

There is a reasonable balance, and it is this: be clear, specific and know what you want in your life and in your relationships with others. Strive to achieve it by learning ("earning") the tools you need to get it, and be responsible and accountable for your actions. Learn to use these tools well and efficiently to your own benefit and the benefit of those you deal with. The fact is; when you own something - you take better care of it. Do you take better care of a rental car or the one you buy with your own money? Of course, the one you buy, simply because you invested time, effort and skill in obtaining it. It's "worth" more and you treat it thusly.

At the same time recognize that nothing ever comes about in a vacuum. If you stay aware of what others want and help find ways for them to get it, (but NOT by trying to give it to them), you are far more likely to get your needs met at the same time.

You don't do this however by trying to do the work for others. They themselves have to earn it too, or the getting means nothing. You can't make women feel better about themselves, and by design, you can't make them feel worse either. These are choices that each of us make for ourselves. It's entirely reasonable for us to expect women to be and act like adults and to deal with situations - both good and bad - from the point of responsibility.

This is why you can't "buy your way into her pants" or "make her fall in love with you" or "will her to want you" or anything like that. Likewise, you can't make up for past hurts inflicted by others or fix the fact that her daddy didn't hug her enough. Only she can do this and you actually make her life better (and therefore your life too), by expecting her to do so.

Therein lies the key to true happiness in my humble opinion.

Best regards...

Why It's So Hard To Not Be A 'Nice Guy'

Oh, how easy it is for us to slip into "nice guy" mode! We have a natural tendency to want to be nice guys and even believe that this is exactly what women want from us. As you probably know, it's not. Then, why do we do this?

Let me tell you a little story (I'll keep it short):

Many years ago, I got my pilot's license. During that time I learned a very important lesson about flying: what you think is going on (because of your senses) is NOT what you ever want to use in actually flying a plane. Take the situation where you're flying "blind" such as in clouds. Your body tells you constantly that you're banking (turning) when in fact; your instruments say that you're flying straight and level. Add a little climb to this and the effect is dramatically increased. In order to be a successful pilot (that is, to "live") you have to get over the overwhelming desire to react to what you think you feel, and to rely in your instruments, believe them, trust then and do what they tell you to do.

So too it is with hunting women.

We have a natural, inborn tendency to try to be "nice guys" even though this is absolutely contrary to anything that really works with women! Most guy's greatest challenge is to break out of what they FEEL is right, and to start DOING what is right. We need to use the tools we have (such as BAM) in order to get past our natural tendencies and to be successful with women.

Look at the recent case of a friend of mine. He just wants to believe against all hope that somehow, because if "feels good"; that he can "will" women into sleeping with him, finding him attractive, etc. He wants to believe it so badly, that he'll actually spend tons of cash on it, and defend it to the end. Some "experts" pray on this simply because most guys want feel-good, quick-fix answers and the belief that they can control their outside world if they just want it badly enough or discover the "secret".

We here know that this doesn't work. Instead, we learn to rely on our instruments instead - and do what they tell us to do.

Best regards...

Strong Women, Submissive Women

Do you know a sexy, strong woman at your place of work? Perhaps she's a manager or business owner. Maybe she's a salesperson that works with your company or she represents a vendor. Do you want to know a little secret about her? She's very likely demure and submissive in the bedroom!

What's that? How can that be? She's a real ball-buster during the day!

Sure, that's her persona during the day, but studies show that the vast majority of women shift roles when it comes to their emotional/sexual lives; with a distinct direction: from dominance to submission. This seems like a strange dichotomy, but stick with me here.

While many women are terrified of others knowing this fact, most women prefer a submissive bedroom role. I'm not going to go into all the science behind this, but it's an important thing to understand if you're actually attracted to one of these "strong-by-day, submissive-by-night" types of women.

Let's say that you want to approach one of these girls. How do you do it? First, if you're already the CEO or VP of your company, you have a much stronger chance of being accepted than if not. It's unfortunate, but the stronger a woman is (and the higher her position within a company) the more men she'll cut out of her "potential date" list. That doesn't mean you have no chance however.

The approach here is one of strength and confidence - much more so than other women. The reason is that these women want to be with men they perceive as even stronger than they are. This is a critical element in the approach because it has to be just as strong and confident. If you waiver here, you're not going to get a second chance.

Your approach isn't one of "Hey, want to go have drinks after dinner?" Instead, you want to say something like, "I don't know what your plans are for Friday, but cancel them. I'm taking you out for drinks. I'll pick you up at 8 sharp." This is a very powerful position to take, but trust me; it's the correct one for this girl.

You have to be able to carry this confidence into dating too. When you date a strong woman be ready to show even more strength and have more direction than her! This is a tall order for many men, but having clear, concise goals and an understanding of these rules helps to make it easier. Be goal-oriented and know what you want with her. If you don't, she's liable to walk all over you and impose her goals right up to showing you the door.

One other thing you'll find with these strong women is that you'll get Tested ( more often and with greater intensity. This challenge is simply to prove that you're still the powerful guy you appeared to be during the initial approach. It may last well into the relationship by the way! If you falter on these Tests, you might just lose her completely.

So, after all this work, what's the benefit to you? Simple - a devoted, loyal, willing and happy girlfriend! Someone who will easily take your lead anywhere you want to go be it in the relationship or in the bedroom. These women are very special and any man that can win her is in for a real treat. She tends to be sexually adventurous, creative and enthusiastic - more so than most women. She'll continue to give you reasons to trust her because she is paying you back for being the man of her dreams. She'll even become the woman you've dreamed of all your life simply because she wants to make you happy.

You just have to make it past all the initial suspicion and challenge you'll get; but trust me, it's worth it.

Why do these strong women want to be submissive in the bedroom and the relationship? There are many subtle answers but most of it comes right down to natural wiring. Feeling safe and secure in a relationship is a critical element for all women. If you think about this, isn't just about every aspect of men's relationships with women involved with proving this security? You bet it is!

Now, obviously this doesn't apply to every strong woman - especially if her strength is born out of fear of weakness; but it's true of most. You can safely approach strong women with the belief that they're looking for an even stronger man so that they can melt into the comfort of the willing, submissive role - until proven otherwise.

Best regards...

How to Handle the Silent Treatment

Let's say that you've dated a girl a few times and all of a sudden, she stops picking up the phone or returning your calls when she was very responsive before. What do you do?

First, you stop pouting and sitting by the phone trying to will her to call by sending your aura through the telephone wires.

Instead, you decide to take some action. Simply jumping however is never a good plan. Instead, you use this three-step silent treatment guide: analyze, plan and act.

Step #1 - Analyze

First of all, let's be sure she's really avoiding you. Just because she didn't call you back within a few minutes - or even hours - doesn't mean that you're getting the silent treatment. Instead, she may just be busy. It's rude to not return a phone call within a day or so however. If you haven't heard from her via any of the many communication methods in 3-4 days, you're likely getting "treated."

Let's try to analyze why this happens. Think back about your recent interactions with her. They may have been fun for you, but try to remember what she did or said, how she acted, etc. As you do this however, keep in mind that women are notoriously good at hiding their real feelings! It may be difficult to analyze exactly what she was feeling at the time, but you can probably get pretty close.

There are many possible reasons for her pulling back, but here are the most common:

1) She gets bored. Trust me on this one: women have an image of the man they want to be with. If you're not that man, she may feel like she's wasting her time. I chastise women about this all the time by telling them to be more open to new people rather than being locked into one "model" all the time.

These women will actually look for ways that you don't fit their models! If she gets the idea that you're not her man, she'll pull away. She probably won't tell you this or ask you to take her home however. You'll just be left wondering what happened.

2) She starts to feel pressure. Many women are terrified of men pressuring them into something they don't want. This is the most common source for "Let's Just Be Friends" (LJBFs) comments as an example.

Men often have an agenda when they go out with a woman, (as you should!) After all, it's your job to lead this little dance. Likewise, women want you to do this. They want to feel like you have some direction and purpose for going out with them. However, if they feel like you're moving too fast or not fast enough, they start to feel pressure and can express it by not calling you back or returning your emails. This is most often done out of fear of having to justify their feelings.

Of course, adults have to do this all the time in the real world. It's not adult behavior to simply avoid calling someone and telling them what they do or don't want. However, women do this all the time in order to avoid conflict.

3) She meets someone else. If a woman calls you and starts to tell you all about some great guy she just met and how excited she is about him; you, my brother are centered squarely in the "friend zone" with this woman. In other words, she doesn't see you (and likely never has) as anything other than her "friend". Bad form old buddy! See my FAQ's here:

On the other hand, if she originally started dating you because she was hoping you'd be more like the new guy she met; don't expect a call to tell you so. Women won't do this. Instead, by not calling you back, they are trying to tell you to get lost.

As with "feeling pressure" above, this isn't a very mature way to handle the situation!

4) She's giving you "The Test". I talk about "The Test" in my books and many articles. Not calling you back can be a very direct form of The Test. You need to understand The Test and how to deal with it as you absolutely WILL be Tested!

Step #2 - Plan

Either you try to make contact and get things handled with her - for good or bad - or you move on. If you're going to move on, don't feel like you have to tell her this if she won't return your calls or emails. She'll assume that from your lack of follow-up. Just move on.

On the other hand, if you want to get a definitive "yea" or "nay", then you'll eventually have to contact her for it if she won't give it to you on her own. This isn't a good time to just react since you don't know the real reason for not hearing from her. She may actually have a good reason! Really!! Likewise, if this is The Test, you'll have to react to it to beat it.

So, a little planning here is going to go a long way. Decide just what you want to know. Don't leave things open. Instead, have a specific plan of what to ask her. The simpler and clearer your question is; the better.

Also, make a promise to yourself to absolutely, positively NOT be apologetic about anything! This is a critical step. For instance, don't call her up and pre-apologize for some perceived harm and expect her to be sympathetic. You'll come off as weak and unreasonably sorry. After all, what did you do? You took her out a few times for fun and to get to know her. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for, so don't open like this!

Write down the basic things you want to ask. Don't create an entire script; just make 2 or 3 bullet points so that you can be sure to get them answered. Also, don't make assumptions about her answers. This will just lead you to a conclusion that you've created rather than one that flows naturally. Instead, concentrate on what you want to know.

Lastly, expect to hear that she's wanted to call you and is glad to hear from you. This might very well be the case.

Step #3 - Act

I suggest that you avoid showing up at her work or some other function however. Don't go by her home either. This could be a very bad move for everyone involved. Instead, give her a call - no letters, email, text messages or faxes! These are just too impersonal. If she won't answer the phone after you've tried a few different times, leave a voicemail message; but try to call her when you really believe you can talk to her.

When you call, simply say, "Hi, it's Dave [you should probably use your own name here]. I was very surprised that you didn't return my call! Is everything OK with you?"

She might just say, "Yeah - everything's ok" and stop. If she doesn't seem to want to talk to you, just expose it. Say, "You don't sound like you want to talk to me. Is there a problem?" If she gives you a curt "no", then just end the conversation and move on. She's not interested in going any further, and you shouldn't waste your valuable time.

On the other hand, your point here is to get a dialog going. If she doesn't call you back because she's "too busy", that's rude, and there's nothing wrong with you pointing it out. You can say something like, "I appreciate having my phone calls [or emails, texts, etc.] returned. That's only polite. After all, I always try to do that." Then, let her answer.

Be careful to not be accusatory here. Don't say things like, "Well, YOU did ." or ".YOU said..." etc. You're just collecting information here and seeing where things are going. That's all.

As she answers your questions, try to categorize her meaning. If you're not sure what she's saying, ask her to clarify by saying, "Are you saying ." and insert your question. Listen closely to what she's saying.

Don't fall into the trap of make excuses for her behavior however. Men do this all the time. If she tells you that there's something about you she doesn't like, fine. Don't try to change her mind about it or make excuses. On the other hand, if she's just flaky, you shouldn't have to tolerate that from her and its ok to say so.

Finally, be careful not to overreact. Listen to what she tells you and react in a calm, comfortable way. If this is The Test, you want her to know you expect to be treated properly - and that you're willing to walk (WTW) if need be. You can have expectations of her just as she can with you!

Consider too if she's just flaky. If she can't pick up the phone and return your calls, is she really worth your trouble? I seriously doubt it!

Finally, if you aren't getting the responses you think you should be, it's time to get out your black book and call up a few backups for this next weekend.

What's that you say? You don't have any backups? What are you thinking! Great women are all over the place - get your lazy ass out there and meet a few. This will change your outlook dramatically.

Best regards...

Break-Up Fake-Out, or Move Out Without the Lout?

Dear Dr. Neder,

I was reading your article on 10 Signs Its Time to Break Up, so I decided to write. I just broke up with my boyfriend of 2 years (on and off) for various reasons. I broke up with him 2 weeks ago, and now I feel like I made a big mistake.

One of the reasons I broke up with him is because he would sometimes go for days without calling me because he was in one of his "moods". Even though I told him repeatedly how horrible this made me feel, he continued to do it. Another reason was that I always seemed to be giving and never receiving anything.

For instance, he just got a new apartment, so I furnished his bathroom, but a month down the road, he forgot my birthday and then when I reminded him, he still didn't get me anything. Other than that, we had a really good relationship and he said he realized I deserved better and was going to do better.

Do you think I should give him more time to "work on himself" or was breaking up the best for both of us? I would really appreciate your input. Thanks!!


You have to answer two questions; one of them is simple and the other more complex.

The first question is this: did you break up with him to punish him? Many people (particularly women) will do this. It's both a threat and a reaction to anger. In other words, you may have just broken up with him to "get him back" for hurting your feelings. Obviously, this isn't a good idea. If you decide this is the case, then you should definitely rethink this action. If you decide it was a mistake, don't just go back and hook up again. You need to get this problem fixed inside of you. Relationships are fragile things. If you continue this type of behavior, you're liable to permanently damage it beyond repair.

The second question will take some time, and is simply this: does this man meet your goals? Of course, you actually have to have relationship goals and very few people do. When you set these goals, you need to really evaluate what you want in your life; how your life will be when you find it and consider every aspect. Be complete and specific, but understand that this may take you many hours. You also need to write this information down somewhere - don't waste your time and just ponder it. That won't get you anywhere. Also, don't focus on "who" at this point, just focus on the "what" and "why".

Once you're done with this project, simply compare this man to your goals. How does he fit and in the areas where he doesn't, are you willing to live with that? If you are, fine. If not, can these things be corrected?

After this exercise, you'll be much better able to determine whether you need to go back to him or not.

Finally, it's entirely reasonable to expect that he'll be involved with special events in your life just like you are with him. If he doesn't seem able to do this, you might want to ask yourself why this is so. Is he so self-centered as to not be able to get involved with anyone else or is he simply so forgetful that you need to get him a calendar?

Best regards...

How Big a Gift is Appropriate?

My boyfriend (of 3 years) and I are committed to spending our lives together. Prior to our commitment he dated several woman, many of whom he maintained contact with on a friendly basis after we got together. I don't mind this, but last Christmas when asked if he needed cards to send out to them he stated, "No.there's no reason to"; yet 6 months later I found that he sent them gifts.

We discussed it and I stated that while I didn't mind it; I was upset that he said he wasn't and stood by it until I approached him with the credit card bill. This year I asked if he needed to send cards and he said "yes. but only to 2"; his long-time friend/ex-girlfriend of 20 years and his last girlfriend/friend that he remains in contact with.

He claimed that he only talked to this last girl a few times over the last few months, but I pay the bills in the house which state otherwise. He wanted to spend about $50 on a gift for her. I said, ok, but that it needed to be an "impersonal gift" since they no longer have a strong friendship/relationship and that an art book would be appropriate. He was very defensive about this and just shut down, saying, "Oh, I just won't give her anything then!"

My point is this: if she is just a regular friend and less then his long-time buddy an occasional 15 minute phone call 2 times a month would be appropriate. As well, I don't have a problem with an impersonal gift, but anything more is like a slap in the face to me! Needless to say my feelings were hurt when he got so defensive.

I will admit there was a twinge of jealousy and hurt that he would push for a big gift for someone that he states is a little more than an acquaintance now after 3 years. So what's the deal?


I don't read minds in order to tell you "...what's the deal..." with him. Instead, let's talk about you.

What's the deal?

What exactly are you accusing your boyfriend of: cheating with an ex-girlfriend, or being a lavish gift-giver? Do you think that by spending more money than YOU think he should that he's somehow betraying your relationship?

It seems to me that he's committed to you and is doing what he needs to be doing in that vein. It's also obvious that he feels he can't tell you the truth. Why do you think that is? Is it just because he's a dishonest lout, or do you think that you have anything to do with him not being able to tell you the truth? (Answer: it's the latter)

I see this all the time, (more often by women than men although men are sometimes guilty of it too). They set their partners up to fail, over react to things that really have no bearing when everything else is otherwise solid in the relationship, and then question when their partners go underground with their actions.

Frankly, this is just a recipe for more underground activity! What starts as a few "white lies" sometimes becomes much more where the person is not only telling lies, but actually out looking for something (or someone) else simply because they believe that they don't have an honest and open relationship. This is the ultimate "vicious cycle". I'm not saying that's what is happening in your case, but it's common enough to make the point here.

What do you really want in your relationship? Do you want someone that will do whatever they feel like behind the scenes and lie to you about it or do you want someone that is open and honest about what they do, say and think? If you want the honesty, you're at least 1/2 responsible for creating the environment where it can thrive.

Here's another way to handle this situation: tell him that you don't agree with his choice, but recognize that the choice is his. Tell him also that you'd appreciate it if he'd tell you about these and even bring you in on the decision since these gifts are from both of you - not just him. These girls aren't just his friends - they effectively are friends of your relationship itself since the relationship is affected by them.

If you give him free reigns to do whatever he wants and just stay out of it, you're probably not going to be happy with the end result. On the other hand, if you get involved with all of this as his partner, you'll have much more authority in what happens and be a better contributor to the relationship itself.

Best regards...

Is She Just a Habit?

You and she are a couple and have been dating for awhile. You've fallen into a pattern that seems comfortable and even safe. Sure, you fight once in a while, but you have fun too.

The only problem is that you're bored and you're wondering what else you're missing out there.

It's easy to fall into dating someone out of habit, especially when you consider what you have to do in order to meet someone new. You have to meet someone, learn about them, go through all the courting rituals, handle problems, spend time, money and emotional energy and rebuild a new habit.

Do you and she have the same goals? Do you both enjoy the same activities? Are you sexually compatible? There are a thousand and one considerations with each new person you meet!

The end of the year is a good time to start reconsidering your goals and direction. You might create "New Year's resolutions", but I suggest you build goals instead. Resolutions tend to be vague. For instance; "I'm finally going to lose that 30 pounds, and have the hernia fixed." It doesn't mention when you're going to do these things.

Goals on the other hand are very specific and have a timeframe for their accomplishment. By looking at your goals before New Year's day, you're pro-actively crafting next year to fit your needs, not simply hoping for something better.

So, how do you decide if she's just a habit?

First, sit down and think about what you want in your relationship life. What are you looking for and how will you feel, think, act and be when you get it? How does that image apply to your current relationship?

If it's substantially different, you might very well be in a habit with her. This may be a good time to re-evaluate that relationship and consider breaking out to find a new one. You're going to have to determine if you have the skills you need to do this and again, the first of the year is a great time to begin the work of gaining these skills.

The real key to this however is to have clear, written goals of what and whom you're looking for and to craft this into a plan. Be sure to include a timeframe for this plan too! Otherwise it's simply a dream and you'll never get started on accomplishing it.

Best regards

© 2006, Dr. Dennis W. Neder

*    *    *

Relationship is a pervading and changing mystery...brutal or lovely, the mystery waits for people wherever they go, whatever extreme they run to. - Euroda Welty

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay