How to be the man you want to be, and still thrive in relationships
Here’s the summary of a question I received earlier today:
Early on in relationships, I give off a confident vibe and women are attracted to this. However, as the relationship develops, and I get to know her better, I naturally become relaxed. The strong/confident part of me that they were attracted to makes less appearances, and the “nice guy” takes over. I’m not a pushover by any means. By nice guy I just mean that I don’t work hard to present myself as constantly dominant… because that’s not who I am and not who I want to be. I’m concerned that me turning out to be more of a nice guy than they first thought eventually turns them off to me, killing long-term relationship potential after the initial infatuation rubs off.
So this is a meaty question that we’ve got to unpack on several levels to properly address.
There are several things going on here.
1) The natural cycles of love
The pattern of love described above by the reader is the norm. The trick is in changing the pattern to extend the love.
2) The dynamic nature of the human mating ritual
Everything you participate in life has “best practices” and “rules” … the mating ritual is no different. What makes the mating ritual different than many other things in life is its dynamic nature. You simply can not go into “cruise control” mode with a relationship. Never. Not even when you’re 50 years old and been with the same woman for 25 years. What works at one phase of love doesn’t work at another. It’s important to be aware of what’s typical and to be thinking ahead. A relationship MUST be managed.
3) The dulling of chemical highs
Early in the relationship, most of the work gets done by the chemical highs both participants receive. The other person can do no wrong and we simply can’t get enough of them. But you ultimately come down out of this high and that’s the critical point of transition… where you have to do a few important things. The most important thing is to space out the crescendos… the peaks. A trick that you can use after the first month is to put her into frequent experiences of withdrawal without making her feel that you’re abandoning her. Instead, have other things to do. Put her out of your mind. And then ramp yourself up to give her your best when you are with her.
4) The issue of internal peace
Many guys don’t like the burden of having to be strong all the time. Having to be “on” 100% of the time is tiring. We want a chance to “just be ourselves”. We want “downtime” – I suspect that this is what the “man cave” is all about. Many of us also have a healthy desire to shut off and be vulnerable. I can tell you based on plenty of personal experience that at a subconscious level women respond horribly to any serious vulnerability (even if you’re crying in front of her because your mother has died – at a rational level, she may understand, but her body perceives it as weakness and she can’t control that). So on the one hand we have a deep need to “turn off” and be ourselves. On the other hand, we know that factually, at no fault of their own, women are turned off by patterns of weakness. The trick is to find other outlets for your emotional needs. Have a best friend that you can be weak and vulnerable around. Have activities you do without her that let you “turn off” for a while.
5) The need to confront reality, choose goals, and make compromises
Celebrities get frustrated by the paparazzi. Football players hate summer camp. Many of us want to eat our cake and have it too. But reality shows us that some things go hand in hand, as hard as we may fight the facts. Long term relationships take work beyond the infatuation phase. You have to show up. You have to manage. You have to stay attractive. The good news is that you don’t have to be “on” 100% of the time. You can learn to pace things out and hit the right notes at the right times.
Being The Man You Want to Be
My general philosophy here is that ultimately, you need to be the man you want to be and then attract women who can appreciate THAT man. This is a tricky play because there are competing forces within us, including the two forces “relax and enjoy” versus “strive and get better”. We want to feel content, but we also want to improve ourselves. Balancing between those two forces is one of the greatest challenges of life.
Plus, as guys we have emotional needs just as much as women do. And this comes off as a weakness (although in very small, well-played doses it can be attractive).
My suggestion here is to always know what sort of man you want to be and to recognize that there are compromises that will need to be made if you want certain things (ie. if you want to maintain attraction, you need to display confidence). You can’t always have your cake (women for romance) and eat it too (women for comfort). The first task is to set priorities: what’s most important to you (the LTR or the intensity of attraction and easy pleasure). Then consider whether your goals are compatible or whether you’re going to have to make some adjustments/compromises to get what you want.
Here are some tips for transitioning from serial dating to long term relationships:
1. Seek out women who will be easier to keep, but who may not get your blood pumping as intensely.
There’s nothing wrong with this solution over the long haul, especially if you value all the huge benefits of long-term relationships. Obviously you don’t go so low that you don’t want sex with her, but it can be very satisfying to find a woman who wants to live for you, support your dreams, submit to you etc. To find that woman, you may need to change your filter and focus on certain psychological factors over physiological. Look for women who are eager to please, rather than women who are looking to be entertained. More often than not, ultra-hot women are too full of themselves to be good long term candidates and won’t be into you unless you can thrill them and entertain them 100% of the time. This can be very draining. It may be better to look for a woman who gives you down time, a chance to refuel, a chance to be at peace and not be in performance mode. And more than anything, you want a woman who empowers you to be your best self.
2. If it’s not morally offensive to you, consider being with multiple women at the same time.
This gives you a natural confidence edge, knowing that you’ve got redundancy. In the past, I always had the best success in pushing past that infatuation phase when I was with several girls at once … I think this has to do with the fact that my attention was split, which forced me into a better natural cycle of push-pull attention… plus no one woman had to meet all my various emotional needs
3. There are some things about “nice guys” that some women are attracted to even initially.
Consider presenting that part of yourself from the beginning and thus weeding out women from the onset who will not like that part of you. However, there is no woman who wants 100% nice guy. Get in the habit of cycling in and out of “strong/confident” and “nice/gentelman” – The important thing to remember here is that as long as you give her regular displays of dominance, it will prevent the slippery slope of complete beta-fication. Here’s one trick I use: weekly I try to make one strong, surprising decision for my wife and I. Even something as simple as: “call the babysitter, we’re going to restaurant X” where restaurant X is the one that costs $100 per entree and where you MUST dress up. Just this one move will put the rest of the dull week out of her mind and set you back on her pedestal.
4. Consider alternative outlets for the “nice guy” in you
Don’t rely on the woman in your life to be the outlet for all your emotional and physical needs. Have several groups of friends. One group to do guy stuff with. A smaller group to confide in. Also have some time to be by yourself and “turn off” – maybe just reading a book or watching a ballgame. The important thing is to have this variability in your life so that you don’t get burnt out by participating in the mating game (remember, just like celebrities can’t avoid the pap, you can’t avoid the responsibilities of being a man in a relationship… but you can take breaks, use your time doing other things, invest in yourself, etc.) Don’t make her be “always on” either (guys often do this by expecting women to be their mothers). Give her the space she needs to be her best self. Encourage her to pursue her goals in life.
5. Figure out what you mean by “being yourself”
That’s often a mask for being lazy – but it can also mean “not wanting to feel the pressure of putting on a show”. Putting on a show can be tiring and create a feeling of resentment (I wish I could just be myself). The key here to have a firm understanding of how nature works (the important tool of time) which will give you plenty of rest and allow you to pace things out. Most women definitely get “bored” with the same old same old and in one form or fashion are looking for “excitement” from guys. The important thing to remember is that they don’t expect you to be on top of your game 100% of the time. You need some downtime. So give it to yourself. And have plenty of others to be yourself around.
6. Space things out
I know I’m beating a dead horse at this point, but you need to give yourself time to rest and you need to give her time to desensitize and re-desire you… naturally. Put nature to work. Know that she cycles in and out of desire every month… biologically. Play off that. Learn it. Think of it this way: instead of giving her dessert for every meal, give her dessert once or twice a week. Save up your energy to give her your best self (and refuel her attraction for you) periodically.
7. Fake it ’till you make it
I got this as business advice back in the day. And while I forget the person who gave it to me, I owe him a few million dollars. Fake it ’till you make it. The principle doesn’t just apply to business. It applies to life, skill and relationships in general. Identify the man you want to become, and then fake it till you make it. Practice being that man. Be willing to make mistakes along the way. One of the most efficient things you can do to improve your life is to sit down and list out the overlap between the things you want for yourself, and the things that are attractive to women. Then prioritize the practice of these things. Be the man you want to be, and gain the attraction of women as a side effect.
A final note: it’s not as if you can’t be open and vulnerable with a great woman from time to time. There’s hardly a greater feeling than having a woman you know will understand and hold you up when you’re struggling… and not hold it against you. But this is an earned trust that comes *after* she’s proven herself… not while you’re red hot on fire in the beginning stages. And even after you’ve relaxed a bit around the woman… you need to control it. The key is to not go to the extreme of just being bland and boring because you’re tired of the mating game. It’s the mating game you’ve opted into after all. So either play by the rules, or get out of the game.