What women say about men in therapy
Have you ever wondered what women say about men in therapy? What do they tell their counselor that they aren’t telling you? Are there any common themes?
If you are curious about this topic, you’ve come to the right place. In this episode of the Men’s Self-Help Podcast, Dr. John takes a deep dive into seven common topics that women bring up about men in the counseling office.
Some things might strike you as common sense. Other topics might surprise you. As part of this show, you’ll also hear from a man who is tired of being rejected on the dating apps and is looking for guidance.
Common takeaways from show
- Topics women bring up in counseling
- Why women like men who have goals
- How having a purpose is a turn-on
- The importance of self-care
- No More Mister Nice Guy by Robert Glover (See Amazon)
- How to deal with dating app rejection
- Men’s skin care guide made simple
BLOCK B: 7 things women say in therapy about men
One of the things I quickly learned in my work as a therapist is how frequently issues like dating and romance come up in the counseling office.
Sure, people might call you for help with anxiety and depression, but at some point, issues like love and romance pop up because they’re so connected to like – if that makes sense.
And this is true for single folks or for people already in involved with someone, like a marriage.
It was just a few weeks ago that one of my female patients shared with me her frustrations with dating. As I jotted down her concerns, it dawned on me that her list was strikingly similar to what many other women have shared with me in the past.
Now look, I’m not trying to paint with a wide brush. I realize that what I hear in my office is not representative of everyone and therefore can’t be generalized to the entire population.
But I can tell you that based on my personal, unscientific observations, the issues women bring up when it comes to love and romance and vastly different than what I hear from the men.
And it’s those differences that served as the inspiration for today’s podcast. Have you ever wondered what women really say that want in a man – at least to a therapist?
Well, I’m about to share seven things I’ve heard, behind the closed doors of the counseling office. Again, these are my observations and mine alone.
If you happen to be a therapist tuning in, you may be hearing something entirely different, and do not pretend to be the end all be all when it comes to this topic.
That said, in preparing for today’s show, I did consult with a group of 10 marriage counselors who – in the general sense – agreed with the themes I’m about to go through.
OK, are you ready?
Here’s the first one:
No surprise, right? Well, stay with me because this one might be different than what you’re thinking.
To bottom line it, intimacy doesn’t always mean intercourse. In many cases, it’s about the build-up, which comes in the form of affection.
And here, I’m talking about the act of consensual touching, like petting and holding. Did you know that when you touch your mate, it causes the release of brain chemicals that help to strengthen your bond? It’s true and I’ve linked to a piece in show notes from NPR that goes into the science.
And I’ll tell you that in the couples work I’ve done, this particular issue – intimacy – is huge because the longer a relationship goes on, the less frequently it sems to happen. On some level, this is to be expected – no doubt about it. But where I’ve seen the problems come up is where there is a void.
So, a question I’m going to ask you to think about is what is your definition of intimacy? Does that definition resemble that of your mate’s?
Just something to think about – let’s move to number two:
2. Depth and range
At its core, depth and range means having varied interests and being OK with talking about them during conversations.
As one marriage therapist I consulted with for this shared: “Women like guys who are OK with going beyond the surface stuff, like current events and sports.”
And guys, I’m here to tell you that most of the men I’ve worked with are super smart – but purposely hide this part of themselves because they think won’t fit a masculine construct they’ve bought into. Maybe you can relate?
But if you’ve studied stoicism, you quickly discover that a healthy part of masculinity involves embracing our intelligence and interests.
I believe it was Marcus Aurelius’ who said: “These are the characteristics of the rational soul: self-awareness, self-examination, and self-determination. It reaps its own harvest. It succeeds in its own purpose.”
Are you into things like history, science, or current events? If so, it’s OK to talk about them! What’s more, it’s OK to be curious about topics you aren’t familiar with. Know what I mean?
The idea here is to toss all of that nonsense so many of us are taught about what it is to be a man and not become prisoners of the stereotype. The truth is depth and range can be very attractive traits.
OK, let’s move on to number three:
So, this is another one that is high on the list. In the beginning stages of a relationship, a sense of romance can happen almost magically, depending on the chemistry.
But what I hear from women is that after the honeymoon period ends, the romance fades. This is even more so for married couples.
I’ll never forget a client I once worked with named Angela who told me that after she moved in with her boyfriend, the date nights came to a hard stop.
I’m paraphrasing here but she said something like, “It just felt like I had become just another thing in his life, instead of something special.
Well, as you can imagine, they eventually broke up.
My point in sharing this with you is to avoid reaching for the auto-pilot switch. In other words, be mindful of relational maintenance.
Do you consider yourself romantic? If you don’t, what could be different?
OK, so that’s three.
Number four is:
4. Having a Purpose.
You know, it was just a few weeks ago that I was working with a thirty-something year old woman who told me that she was having second thoughts about the guy she’s been dating.
When I asked her why, she said something like, “It just seems like he doesn’t know what he wants out of life.” And then she added, “I’ve always been attracted to men who have a sense of where they’re heading.”
In so many ways, purpose is linked to confidence, do know what I mean? When you think about the people you’ve been attracted to, how high did purpose rank on your list? Did you find it attractive? If the answer is yes, this may give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
Do you know your purpose? If the answer is no, what are you doing to figure this out?
OK, let’s look at five:
5. Having Goals.
I’ll just get to the bottom line on this one and say that in the therapy office, women have shared with me they like men who have goals. And not just goals in the abstract, but concrete goals that are actively being worked on.
The problem is some of us are afraid to talk about our goals because we think fear it will make us sound silly or stupid.
But here’s the thing.
Talking about your goals demonstrates your intellectual curiosity and confidence. And hey, your goals don’t have to be lofty. Examples might be learning a new language or learning how to cook. You get my drift.
So, here’s a question for reflection: What are your goals? If you know what they are, do you keep them to yourself or do you talk about them?
Just food for thought.
Let’s move on to six, which is:
6. Validate but don’t fix.
So, for this one – women have shared with me that they value a man who actively listens and validates. Now that may sound simple enough but if we are being brutally honest, it’s not.
And here’s why:
As men, we’re hard-wired to fix things. In other words, we’re programed to jump right in and solve problems as soon as they pop up. There’s nothing wrong with this and can come in handy.
But as so many women have told me in therapy, “I don’t want my boyfriend to tell me how to fix a problem. Sometimes, I just wish he’d listen and let me vent.”
And look, I get it. There are going to be times when you hear the same issues coming up over and over and you want to help them solve it.
In these cases, rather than going into fix it mode, it may be helpful to simply say:
It really sucks you’re having to deal with this right now. What can I do to be helpful?
More often than not, what you’ll hear back is something like: No, I’m OK, but thanks for being here to listen – it feels really good to have your support.
If she does want your help, she’ll likely ask you – and that’s where you can come in with your ideas.
I hope that made sense. Haha, Let’s move on to the final one.
When you hear me say that term, some of you may be wondering what I’m talking about? Well, at its core, self-care means demonstrating that you value your emotional and physical wellness.
Now let me be really clear here. This DOES NOT mean that you need to look like a bodybuilder or some fitness model from Men’s Health. That’s not what I’m suggesting at all.
Instead, I’m talking about taking care of yourself wholistically because it shows you value your mind and body.
What happens all too often in relationships, particularly over the long term, is that people use their relationship status as an excuse to ditch self-care. The thinking goes something like this: Well, I’m off the market now so I don’t need to impress anyone.
And while there’s some truth there, we forget that self-care is critical to mental health and physical health. In short, when you take care of yourself, you are likely going to be in a better mood – and that is going to impact a bunch of other areas, such as your libido.
Now obviously you shouldn’t be doing this for someone else. It has to be for yourself. But I think you get my point. Self-care is sexy. At least that’s what I hear in the counseling office.
You know, as I am sharing this with you now, I am reminded of a woman I worked with named Melissa who told me that she stopped getting it on with her husband because whenever they got busy, she ended up getting injured. The reason? Her man never clipped his toenails.
At first, she use to remind him to do it – but after awhile she resented having to remind because it started to feel parental.
Does make sense? I’ll leave it there because I sense you get the gist of it.
So, there you have it guys – The 7 secrets women bring up in therapy about men. Oh, and hey – I can already here some of you saying, “But Dr. John – guys care about some of those same things. It’s a two-way street.”
And here’s my response – yep yep – I completely agree. And that’s why in the near future, I’ll be recording an episode on 7 Secrets Men Reveal About Women With Their Therapist. When that pod comes out, I promise I’ll be referring back to what you’ve heard here. But you’ll also hear about some major differences.
On a related note, I’d like to offer a resource to you right now that may be helpful. It’s a book called: No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover and you’ll find a link to it in show notes on the Guy Counseling blog.
What I like about this read is how the author helps men to become more confident in their identity and show up authentically in relationships. It’s something I’ve suggested to my own patients as homework – and I hope you’ll consider it too.
Now before we transition to this week’s listener email, let’s do a quick recap of those secrets:
1. Intimacy on different levels.
2. Have some depth and range.
3. Romance matters.
4. Have a purpose.
5. Have some goals.
6. Validate but don’t fix.
7. Self-care is key.
As you think about this list, how many seemed like common sense? Which ones caused you to pause and reflect?
BLOCK C: Skin care guide
BLOCK D: Listener Email
This week’s listener email comes to us from a man named Pedro who is dealing with an issue that I bet a lot of you can relate to.
I’m going to give you the basics of what he wrote, paraphrasing a bit to pull out the high lights. Are you ready?
Check it out:
Hi, Dr. John,
I started subscribing to your podcast a few weeks ago because I was looking for guidance. My problem is this: I’ve been single for years and have been using the dating apps – it’s the only way to meet people around my location.
Lately, I’ve been having some self-doubt. I was dating someone recently for 3 months and everything was going great and then out of nowhere, she told me she couldn’t’ date anymore. Apparently, she had too much going on with work and then said she wasn’t really ready for serious dating.
This behavior happens a lot, where it seems like things are going well and then suddenly, they pull the plug. It was just yesterday I went on a date, and everything seemed like it was going great. But when I got home, she sent me a text saying she didn’t feel a connection.
Am I doing something wrong? I am putting myself out there, and nothing seems to be working.
Thanks so much,
Alrighty then – there’s Pedro’s email. And you know, as I read the essence of what he sent to me, I couldn’t help but think about how this particular issue seems to come up so frequently in therapy – and maybe as a listener, you’ve struggled with this issue?
I’m going to go ahead and read to you what I sent back to this listener, again paraphrasing a bit.
Thanks so much for subscribing to this podcast – it means a lot to me. First, let me address the soft underbelly of what you’ve shared because my sense is – at least right now – you are feeling defeated and down.
And I’ll be real with you – it sucks when you put yourself out there and even invest time in someone, only to later be told something like, “Sorry – this isn’t a match” or “You are a great guy but I’m looking for something different.”
And because this podcast deals with Men’s issues, I’m also going to say that rejection – because that’s what we’re talking about – hurts – a lot.
With all of that said, I think it’s important to tell you that right now – a lot of people are going through Dating App Fatigue, which is sometimes called Swiper’s Fatigue. Essentially, dating app fatigue happens when people turn to the dating apps as a way of medicating feelings of isolation. And this has been particularly true during the pandemic.
I’m not saying you are doing this, but I am suggesting that you may be running into this with some of the people you are interacting with.
And here’s the deal – dating apps today have almost turned into a social media platform. I hate saying that but it’s true. Moreover, they’ve created a dynamic whereby some people think, “If I just swipe one more time, I’ll find someone better.”
Honestly, I long for the days where people met each other in person and spontaneously, but that’s another story.
I can share a few things with you that I’ve suggested to my clients. The first is to think about taking a break from the apps. It doesn’t have to be long – like a month. The idea is to detox from it all and clear your mind.
The second is to rethink your expectations. Are you going on the apps to meet “the one”? If the answer is yes, that’s fine – but keep in mind that not everyone on Tinder and Bumble is looking for that. Oh sure, they may say that’s what they want – but many are just looking for something way more casual.
The third thing I’ll suggest – and this is a biggy, is to change the focus of your thinking. In other words, instead of trying to figure out how you can get a girl to like you, turn the tables.
Ask yourself when you are on a date:
Am I attracted to this person? What do I feel when I’m in their presence? Do I feel like this is a match?
Notice those “I” statements. Can you see how doing it this way can change the power dynamic? As I’ve mentioned before on this podcast, perception is projection.
In closing, I just want to add here that a lot of people get on those dating apps for personal validation. In other words, they’ve become addicted to being pursued and use the apps as a way of boosting their self-esteem. That may sound shallow but I’m just being real with you.
Pedro, I am going to give you a link to an article on the Guy Counseling Blog that offers 7 ways of coping with dating app rejection. I hope you’ll check it out when you have the chance.
Thanks again for your note and I hope you update us down the road with your situation.
So, there you have my response. I really feel for this listener because it’s obvious to me that he longs for a meaningful, romantic connection.
Are you struggling with feelings of rejection? If the answer is yes, what could be different in your approach?
BLOCK E: Closeout
So, did you find the topics we explored today to be interesting? We covered a lot of territory – don’t you think? First, we talked about 7 things women bring up in therapy as it relates to men. And as part of the mix, there were even a few questions thrown in for self-reflection.
But that wasn’t all.
We also talked about the problem of dating app fatigue and rejection – plus how to change your mind set by using “I” statements. Shoot, I think there was even a quote thrown in along the way from a famous stoic. Did you catch it?
You know, if you have found this podcast helpful, I’d really love it if you hit that subscribe – or follow button. This way, you’ll never miss another episode.
And I’m just going to come right out and say it – I need your help with getting this podcast to grow organically so that it gets in front of other men who might benefit from the material we explore here. The best way to do that is to leave a review, particularly a written one, wherever you might be listening. Apparently, the more people who leave reviews and then hit subscribe, the more this show ranks higher in the listings. Can you help me out? I’d really appreciate it.
It was just the other day that a listener XD left the following review on Apple Podcasts:
“I love this podcast – it opened my eyes a lot and self-evaluation is a must.”
See, it’s that kind of thing that just keeps me motivated to record more of these pods. So, thanks for that XD.
Did you know there’s lots of ways to stay in touch? Yep, there sure is. You can stop by my website, which is Guycounseling.com and there, you’ll find tons of articles related to Men’s issues.
You can also sign up for my newsletter. Just look for the form on the sidebar. Now here’s the thing – I promise that I don’t send out a lot of emails and whenever I do shoot something out, it’s short and sweet.
You can also stop by one of my social media pages. I’m on Instagram at Guy Counseling – and I’m also on Facebook and Twitter at the same handle.
If you’d like to have a question featured on the pod, feel free to send me a message. Just send your email to [mentioned in podcast] I promise that whatever you send me will remain confidential and I won’t share it with anyone, unless you give me permission.
Well guys, there you have it – another show. Here’s a quick shoutout to my sound engineer, Joel, with East Coast Studio.
Remember that intimacy comes in different forms. Be mindful of going into fix it mode with a partner. Don’t be afraid to look inward when meeting someone new.
Take very good care. I’m Dr. John, and this has been, another episode of the Men’s Self Help Podcast.