Opinion: Never Date a Man Who...

Steven Ing, MFT

OK, so that last boyfriend was a real pain. Good riddance to him but how to find one of the good ones? Reincarnation would be one way to do it. That is, we'd all know a lot better how to live our lives if we'd simply had more time and more experience. Well, in my counseling practice I've had the privilege of living thousands of lives and, like in the movie Groundhog Day, repetition alone has been enough to teach me more than a few broad brush strokes about dating, love, and happiness.

My addressing this series "Never Date a Man Who..." to women doesn't mean I should wish to be misunderstood: Gender is not the problem, the problem behavior is the problem. Some men date men, some women date women, some both, some none. But, if we are trying to establish an enduring relationship of a romantic nature then we better get good and comfortable with talking about sex.

So...you meet this amazing guy. He seems amazing in every way and so very much is absolutely working for you. He is polite or he's a bad boy outlaw type—whichever you preferred since you're the one doing the choosing. And remember, no backsies: Even if it seemed he picked you rather than the other way around, you're still responsible for who you keep in your life.

Back to Mr. Amazing: He is the most polite gentleman you've ever known and never tries to cop a feel or whatever church ladies call that kind of behavior...or he's all over you and you are absolutely loving it—what matters here is that his Mr. Amazing with bona fides that keep stacking up 'cause he's, well, amazing. In point of fact, on every facet of multifaceted you, Mr. Amazing keeps hitting the mark. There's just one teensy little exception.

One time, either pre-, mid-, or post-coital, you started making conversation about sex. The topic really doesn't matter nearly so much as his reaction to it. You could be talking about how that was the most amazing orgasm you've ever had (generally a crowd-pleasing observation) or that you never have had sex in that way before and you wondered aloud, where'd he learn that? Maybe you hadn't yet had sex but you wanted to talk about your mutual sexual histories or even the nature of any future commitment.

Whatever the topic was doesn't matter now. What does matter is that he was obviously uncomfortable with the subject and he either superficially glossed over it or actually got up to leave for a few minutes. This happens, right? It's happened to just about anyone who's dated much. And clearly, what it means is that in your attempt to discuss something you believed was important, you inadvertently exposed yourself as, well, perhaps a woman who thinks too much about sex.

If you're emotionally needy enough you just drop the subject and try to cozy up to him and, after a time, get on as before. But if you're not so very needy, or at least not so needy that you're willing to leave your brains at the door, his behavior becomes significant to you. It bothers you and perhaps you talk to your girlfriends about it but you begin to notice that he, like millions of other Americans, is perfectly willing to have sex (virtually with anyone) yet remains unwilling to talk about sex with everyone.

This is not a problem like a smudgy windshield that you can ignore and drive on until the gas tank is empty. No, this is like talking about the road trip, then buying the right snacks, getting in the newly washed car and getting on the road...and only then do you start hearing a noise no engine was ever born to make. It's worrisome even if the driver seems unworried—in fact, even more worrisome. That noise needs to be addressed in a forthright manner and so does his inability to talk about sex.

Gentle reader, we're not talking about a first date when someone might reasonably confront you, "Gee, is that all you men ever think about?" No, your introduction of sex followed conversations about what you're each looking in the future, or what you might need in a good relationship, or how you felt about that thing that last night he asked you to put up his...you get the idea. Fact is, your bringing up sex was legit. Sex is a reasonable topic for two people who are obviously attracted to one another, or who might have even exchanged their feelings of "I love you," and certainly for two people who've been, what do old people think young people call it, bangin' for a while now.

If you're one of the many who really don't want to get into a profoundly sexually unfulfilling life then the two of you getting to the point where you can talk about sex is sine qua non, which is Latin for "Oh no you don't." But you plodded on in the awkwardness of the conversation and he still isn't forthcoming. What to do?

Professor David Buss has a word of advice to all of us at this point when he says, "We are the descendants of those who knew when to cut our losses." If you're keeping it real about building a relationship worth having then there's no way to get around the need to engage in adult conversations about sexuality—lots of them, because we are all growing and changing and we get upgrades in our thinking, in our feelings, and yes, in our beds. Mr. Amazing, over time, becomes Mr. Amazing 2.0. The same thing will happen to you, so you have to keep asking, "Can we talk?"

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I had a seriously messed up childhood. Like, mobster-father-shot-to-death-by-police messed up. Out of this beginning came a lifelong fascination with two questions: “Why do people do what they do?” and “How can all of us figure out how to move to what healthier families enjoy and how they get their needs for love met?” As a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 30 years, I work to help people figure out how they too can have healthy sexuality and intimacy by Managing Sexuality Intelligently™. I have literally written the book on human sexual needs, "We’re All Like This” (Second Edition 2020, Giant Publishing), with portions appearing in the 2nd edition of the McGraw-Hill textbook "Human Sexuality: Self, Society, and Culture," used in university-level human sexuality classes. My books, articles, and public presentations create conversations about human sexuality that are safe...but not too safe. My insights have led to a humane take on our beautiful human sexuality and how all the rest of us can have ridiculously happy lives (yes, and sex lives too!).

Reno, NV

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