10 Things Women Do That Drive Men Away

| 01/01/2010 | Comments (7)

Back in 1997 when I first launched AskHeartBeat.Com, one of our contributing writers was William July II.  William wrote two books that he graciously allowed us to post excerpts from – Brothers, Lust & Love: Thoughts on Manhood, Sex and Romance and Understanding the Tin Man – Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy.

In this post is an excerpt from William’s first book; you are invited to  share your thoughts on the article content and the statements of the interviewees in the comments section below.


Author William July II

This list of ten things women do that drive men away was compiled from informal interviews with real everyday men. None of these men are “experts” from academia. None of them are sociologists, psychologists, or relationship experts. They’re just regular guys: a computer technician, a personal fitness trainer, a mail courier, a college student, an entrepreneur, a corporate executive, a sanitation worker, a police officer, a mechanic, and an attorney.

When I got the guys together, the first question I asked was “What are some of the things women do that drive men away?” I asked them to be blunt and candid in their responses, but I made it clear that I wasn’t looking for a list of mean-spirited complaints. Instead, I wanted to compile a list of ten things that men wished women knew. A list that would bridge the gap between men and women. I told them the purpose of this list was to improve communication, avoid misunderstanding, and expose any “taboo” issues that need to be brought into the open. In that spirit, we began our discussion. As I sat and talked with the guys, most of their answers kept coming back to the ten areas explained below.

1. NOT GIVING ENOUGH SPACE

“She clings to me because she thinks that every minute I’m not with her I’m fooling around.” –Lewis, personal fitness trainer

The “S” word must be used carefully. Some men intentionally abuse the term “I need my space” to ensure that they can have their cake and eat it too–fool around while not giving up what they already have. But not all men are that way. Most men simply just want some room to be by themselves. Men, just like women, need to feel that they aren’t trapped or being held hostage in their lives. From time to time, men want to get away and be alone or hang out with their friends.

But it’s a strain on the relationship when women think that a man is being selfish, silly, or making up an excuse to go out and cheat just because he wants some space. The smart woman knows that a man needs his space and doesn’t hold it against him. She’s confident enough to know that each person needs his/her own space to maintain a healthy relationship. On the other hand, jealous and possessive women are well known for their deliberate attempts to prevent a man from having any sort of privacy. Those are the women who think letting a man out of their sight is a mistake. They keep choke holds on their men and eventually drive them away. But if a woman can’t give the man a little space, either the relationship isn’t solid or she has some personal problems she needs to deal with. If it’s because she can’t trust him out of her sight, she doesn’t need that man anyway.

2. ACTING SWEET TO GET A MAN, THEN CHANGING

“I don’t know why women act so sweet during dating and change completely when they know they’ve got you.” –Alvin, computer technician

She used to go to bed in a naughty nightie and didn’t care about sweating the curls out of her head. Now she goes to bed with a head full of rollers and a face covered with Noxzema. When they were dating, she batted her eyes, spoke softly, and always looked sexy. But now that she’s got him, that all changed. The gently batting eyes and shy smiles have been replaced with frowns, pursed lips, and shrill tones. No more sexy clothes. Now she dresses like she doesn’t care what she looks like, every day is a bad hair day, and she’s fast losing the curves in her body and developing a pleasantly plump figure.

Of course, men can’t expect women to be superwomen who are able to work, cook, clean, and make love with flawless precision. But a woman shouldn’t start out playing the superwoman role at the beginning and then change. It’s better to present herself as she is and get it all out in the open. When a woman changes her entire act after the relationship gets going, men feel as though they’ve been duped. Suddenly, he doesn’t know what to believe anymore and feels he can’t really trust the woman he thought he knew.

3. WANTING TOO MANY THINGS

“I’m just a working man. I can’t afford a two-story house in the suburbs, a Lexus, a Range Rover, a bunch of credit cards, and kids too.” –Jesse, mail courier

Some black men say black women are unrealistic in their expectations and want too much. Of course, wanting a good hardworking man who respects women isn’t asking too much. But what about when it goes far beyond that? For some women, having a good man just isn’t enough. They also want a Lexus, a two-story home in the suburbs, and a string of credit cards. When they don’t have these things, they moan and complain as though life is terrible. If the man dares to say something about how he’s happy with things as they are, he’ll be accused of being complacent, lazy, and lacking ambition. It’s fine to have goals and want some luxuries. But counting the blessings you already have never hurts either.

4. NOT SAYING WHAT SHE MEANS

“Women expect you to read their minds like a psychic.” –Jamal, college student

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Men aren’t very good mind readers. In fact, we often have difficulty just figuring out what women mean with the words they speak. I think women are far more sophisticated communicators than men; they seem to be more adept at the subtleties of gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Therefore, men and women almost always suffer from communication breakdowns in relationships.

Unfortunately, some women do not express themselves honestly and openly. It seems that they are more apt to use voice inflections and body language to communicate what they mean, even when the actual words they are saying convey the opposite. Take this situation, for example: “No, I don’t mind if you go out with your friends instead of taking me to a movie tonight,” a woman says, tapping her foot and looking away with her arms folded. Although her mouth is saying quite literally, “No, I don’t mind,” her body is saying she does mind. Women expect the men in their lives to read their nonverbal cues.

Some men fail to read the nonverbal cues of the women in their lives. When this happens, an argument is almost always the result, because the woman feels that she communicated her feelings to the man and he ignored her. For example, I’ll use the scenario from the previous paragraph. When that man comes home from his night out with the guys, his wife is going to be angry at him. She’ll probably snap at him when she talks, slam doors, or even yell at him.

“What’s the problem?” he’ll ask.

“You know what the problem is!”

But he really may not know what the problem is, because she never came out and said what she meant in words. She expected him to read the nonverbal cues and he totally missed them. As a result, the woman believes that the man is just being callous and self-centered. Likewise, the man is upset too; he thinks she’s nagging him for no reason. Both of them will go to bed angry.

5. THE THREE B’S OF SEX

“I’m going to be straight about it: sex is important to me.” –Gene, entrepreneur

Perhaps it would be nice if sex didn’t play such a major role in relationships. But for most people, sex is a big part of a relationship. And for men, it’s probably more important than it should be. The sexual aggravations of men boil down to the three B’s: bad, boring, and the boudoir battle.

  • Bad sex: Sex is a learned skill. It’s similar to driving a car. Basically, anyone can do it. Some are good at it. And others are experts. But everyone has an idea of what they consider good and bad sex. Common complaints among men are: lack of enthusiasm, lack of rhythm, no creativity, and poor technique. If a person in a relationship is dissatisfied or experiencing sexual dysfunction, it’s something that should be openly and honestly discussed. The reasons for sexual dysfunction can be psychological, physiological, ethical, and religious, or a host of other things. If the problems seem insurmountable, the advice of a pastor or therapist may be necessary.
  • Boring sex: Boring sex isn’t necessarily the same thing as bad sex. But it is far from good. Boring sex is always doing it in the same place, at the same time, and in the same old position. It’s when the sex gets to the point that it feels like more of a duty than a desire. Boring sex is when you’re going through all the motions but there’s no spice or passion involved.
  • Boudoir battle: Using sex as a weapon doesn’t do anything but make a man angry. It can be subtle things such as not being open to touching and cuddling. Or it can be more strategic. It can be the refusal to do certain things in bed. The most brutal form of bedroom battle is outright refusal.

Of course, a man can’t expect a woman who is angry at him to make mad, passionate love to him. That’s where communication comes into play. It’s far better to talk and resolve the differences than to play games of will because any real man will be very insulted by such behavior. Then he may become vengeful and the whole thing turns into a cold war of revenge. Boudoir battle can lead to deep resentment and some men will use it as an excuse to cheat on their wives or girlfriends.

6. CONSTANTLY TALKING ABOUT OTHER MEN

“She’s always talking about this guy at her job and it really pisses me off.” –Shawn, corporate executive

Men don’t like to hear women constantly talking about other men. It’s not necessarily an ego thing. It’s just that each man wants to feel special and important to the woman in his life. Women don’t have to cradle us like babies. Nor do they need to be patronizing. But a woman would be wise to realize that the ego of a man can be fragile. Black men in particular are constantly attempting to gain and maintain the basic elements of American manhood: the ability to provide, protect, and be masters of our own destinies. Not talking excessively to your husband or boyfriend about how great you think other men are is one small thing that can go a long way toward healing the beleaguered black male ego.

7. BEING A DRAMA QUEEN

“She calls my pager all day when I’m at work. Then when I call her back, she just starts whining about some little thing that could’ve waited until later.” –Art, sanitation worker

Drama queens are always whining, pestering, or nagging about something. With them, nothing can ever be right. They pull all kinds of little tricks to get and control a man’s attention. If he’s watching television, she wants him to get up and put out the trash. When he has time off from work, she tries to plan each hour for him. If it’s bill-paying time, she’s crying about her car note being late.

Another technique used by the drama queen is to play damsel in distress to get a man’s attention. In this role the drama queen says “save me.” Initially, it may make a man feel good to be the chivalrous knight in shining armor coming to the rescue. But too much distress can drive even the most loyal knight to ride off into the sunset.

8. BEING HARD AND COLD

“I work the graveyard shift so I don’t have to be at home with my wife.” –Derek, police officer

That response was from a man who had been married less than one year and was already engaged in a cold war with his wife. Most of the time she was openly disrespectful to him as a human being, not just as a man. Other times she was cold and aloof, barely acknowledging that he was in the room. Believe it or not, men have feelings too. Hard and cold behavior is enough to drive anyone away. Again, we aren’t asking to be cradled like babies. But every man wants home to be a safe refuge from the cold-hearted world. However, when the world at home is colder than the work world, there is no solace.

9. CHEATING

“They call us dogs, but women are out there fooling around just as much.” –Barry, auto mechanic

Some women will maintain that when a woman is cheating it’s always the fault of a man. That simply isn’t true. Women are human beings and are therefore just as subject to dishonesty and deceit as any man.

Cheating takes two forms. First, there’s the obvious form, which is having affairs. But the second way of cheating is mental. It’s the subtle art of getting over on him. She may not be fooling around with another man but she may be cheating by fooling around with the checkbook balance. Her body may be faithful, but she may be cheating by playing manipulative games to keep him within her control. Such games rob a man of his energy and creativity and prevent him from realizing his full potential. The truth is that cheating doesn’t have to be just about affairs or lovers. Cheating is deception of any kind.

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10. ENGAGING IN A POWER STRUGGLE

“I can’t stand it when a woman always wants to prove to me that she’s smart, tough, and independent.” –Lawrence, attorney

It really irritates men when women they’re involved with are constantly trying to upstage them. This is especially bothersome for those men who aren’t trying to compete with their mates. This behavior takes many forms. Some women who engage in power struggles with their mates do it through career competition: who can make the most money or get the most prestige? For some the competition is based upon education level: who has the most advanced degree from the most prestigious school?

Another form of engaging in a power struggle is competing in disagreements: who gets the last word in? In addition to those power struggles, the men I spoke with mentioned four other ways some women engage in a power struggle: (1) Making sure they look smarter than a man by intentionally upstaging him in public. (2) Disagreeing for the sake of disagreement. (3) Unnecessary rudeness. (4) Being condescending or cutting down what a man says when he states his personal thoughts and opinions.

The guys I spent the evening talking with agreed that they weren’t intimidated by women who made more money, drove more expensive cars, or had more education than they did. Their issue was with women who want to flaunt those things in order to be the superior person in a relationship. They all agreed that such behavior was a complete turnoff. No matter what form the power struggle comes in, it’s an energy drain for a man who isn’t interested in competing with his mate. Engaging in a power struggle is a quick way to drive a man away.

I know this list is going to make the tempers of some women flare. But remember, this isn’t a list of complaints. It’s information intended to give women insight into what men are thinking; it’s a bridge across the communication gap. Without straight and candid communication, we can’t solve the issues that threaten to end so many relationships. Use these ten issues as a starting point for a dialogue with your husband, the man in your life, or a male friend. Such a discussion will give you even better insight than reading this list. And that’s the one-on-one communication needed not only to save relationships but to make them better.


Excerpted from Brothers, Lust and Love: Thoughts on Manhood, Sex and Romance ©1998 by William July II. Excerpted by permission of the author.

William July is an award winning author and lecturer popular for his candid approach to relationship and self-development issues of today. He has appeared on many national television and radio shows. His writing has appeared in several notable national publications including: Essence, Heart and Soul, Upscale, and Black Elegance.


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Veteran social researcher, relationship advice columnist, author and radio host. Author of hundreds of articles on American and black culture, gender issues, singles, dating and relationships. Author of "Sucka Free Love!" , "The 24 Types of Suckas to Avoid," and "The Black Church - Where Women Pray and Men Pray" all available on Amazon.Com. Her unique voice and insightful commentary have delighted fans and riled haters for 20 years. Read her stuff on Examiner.Com, SurvivingDating.Com and AskHeartBeat.Com.

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5 comments
Rattler773
Rattler773

I agree with the comments of Shivers and Cassie that basically state that men think women should do what men think is right to make THEM (men) happy. I got the same vibe from Steve Harvey's book. Many men love to complain how women aren't doing this and that and how they should change "to make the relationship better". BOTH parties need to compromise to make a relationship work. There will be no happiness if one person is changing everything to please the other. Some men need to get over the glamorous idealization of what the "perfect woman" is and step into reality and learn that it's not real life. Women are people too and we were not put here to just to fulfill man's desires.

Cassie
Cassie

Wow, after reading these comments, one realizes that basically for a man to be happy, a woman has to put his considerations and needs ahead of her own. But rarely is this reciprocal. Good points to both Raz and Shivers

Shivers
Shivers

I must say that I don't find this list all that helpful.

No. 1, giving him space. In my experiences with partners they get their space without complaint, but once you give an inch, they take more. So, without complaint, they have more of their own free time. Until eventually, their own 'space' time is not in balance, and then when the woman speaks up, it turns into an argument. When she starts to say that she needs her space too, he objects. This type of thing, in my experience, has never been a 2 way give and take street. It is especially exacerbated if children arrive on the scene. Children brings huge shifts into their parents lives and men, in general, seem the most reluctant to shift their priority of having their own "space" which really means own relaxation and leisure time than women do. Someone has to run the household and do the childrearing and this often becomes the double burden of the woman in the partnership.

No. 2 they change after the romance has gone. This is common dynamics within a relationship and represents one of the "normal" stages of a developing relationship. It takes 2 to keep the "naughtie nightie" nights continuing. One wonders if "Alvin" skips out early on a relationship if his chosen potential partner shows the "real" her instead of the "perfect" sexually available woman that Alvin seems to have idealised.

No. 3, wanting too many things. We live in a consumer society that forces us to rate our self esteem on how many material possessions we have. If this is a problem for a man, he needs to look further abroad into societal values and choose a woman who does not conform to the pressures of society and consumerism. A tough call.

No. 4 - everything that Raz said.

No. 7 about the drama queen and the damsel in distress is the same as No. 3, our society tends to raise women as "needing" a man. Men (unfortunately) are portrayed as being their saviours (in many forms). Again, for a man to settle with a woman who does not have this trait, she'll have to be one that is not influenced by broader society values. Also, men are influenced by this "rescuer" stereotype as well, and there are some who enter into an expected long term relationship thinking that he's rescuing his damsel.

The truth is, she never really needed rescuing, and when he discovers this, usually some years later, he is left floundering with no direction within the relationship, and probably resentful that she has not fulfilled his ideal of what women are and what they want.

And as for No. 10, if the relationship is based on competition, and it has been my experience that men play the competitive angle much more than women do, then there is no relationship.

Overall, from the list of the 10 points I see more of how women should behave to fit in with the benefits a man thinks he is entitled to by entering into a relationship, and less of how men are willing to compromise and sacrifice to make a relationship work.

In that context, I'm even less inclined now, after reading "what men want" to enter into a relationship than I was before I read it!....lol

Raz
Raz

I would like to share a few thoughts on the 'Not saying what she means' segment of the article as well as a few other points'.

""No, I don’t mind if you go out with your friends instead of taking me to a movie tonight," a woman says, tapping her foot and looking away with her arms folded. Although her mouth is saying quite literally, "No, I don’t mind," her body is saying she does mind. Women expect the men in their lives to read their nonverbal cues.
Some men fail to read the nonverbal cues of the women in their lives. When this happens, an argument is almost always the result, because the woman feels that she communicated her feelings to the man and he ignored her."

********************************************************************

I say in a lot of cases, men become deliberately obtuse when it comes to reading nonverbal cues with their spouses, SO'/mates. Men can hold down a job and read nonverbal cues all day long when it pertains to their livelihood, hobbies, etc... Men can read nonverbal cues in a poker game. How is it when it comes to their woman, suddenly men can't read nonverbal cues?
A lot of women don't mind if men spend time going out, but most times women object because the man has neglected her in some way and is spending ALL of his free time hanging with his buddies etc.. When women do talk to the man about it, they aren't trying to hear it so they play dumb or act as though the woman is being clingy.

Most women in a healthy relationship aren't the clingy type, but if men do things to continually undermine their relationship, this is going to change the way a woman acts. A lot of women are passive aggressive in their response to men but then men are that way too. Take the man who opted to work on the graveyard shift as a policeman because his wife of a year was cold to him. His way of dealing with it wasn't healthy. Choosing to avoid it wasn't going to make the problem go away and in fact all he did was make it worse.
A man who cared about his wife of a year and was interested in resolving his marital issues, wouldn't avoid the problem and his wife, he'd be willing to sit her down, take the bull by the horn and discuss openly the problem. He'd want to know what is wrong and encourage his wife to talk about what's going on. I would think this woman wasn't mean and cold just because... If this was her manner, then she was that way before he married her and if he didn't like her cold aloof manner then why did he marry her in the first place just to avoid her barely a year into their marriage?

So both of them are at fault in that relationship. Communication is a two way street and the onus shouldn't be on the woman alone to bring up issues that are upsetting to the relationship. The man should be taking temperature test on his relationship too. He should use the same intuitiveness he uses to gauge how his job is going along and apply this to his relationship instead of waiting until the woman is upset and pouting. Often times women get tired of being in the role of having to point out faults in the relationship. Women get tired of nagging and playing the heavy. Why can't the man be proactive and pre-emptive and head off problems before they become upsetting.

Case in point. If a woman is tired of the man throwing his clothes all over the floor and having to pick them up all the time and she's asked him not to do it and he continues to do it and even if she leaves his clothes strewn over the floor, eventually they have to be picked up because they are a mess. This woman is going to get angry over time.

The man meanwhile is oblivious and acts dumb when the woman slams into the room and steps over his pile of two week old clothes lying on the floor. Then he goes and says to his boys. "Man I don't know what's wrong with my woman she's mad at me for no reason.' He knows the reason, he just doesn't care enough to do anything about it. Most times the man knows what he's done to cause angst in his relationship, he's just playing that obtuse game. And men can get away with that because of the 'men communicate differently than women rule.' Men do communicate differently I grant that, but the level of communication is not that great where men can't understand where women are coming from most times. I think it is just men avoiding the issue.
A woman doesn't expect a man to read her mind. But it doesn't take a mind reader to pick up on nonverbal cues and to know what's going wrong in your own relationship when you're the one in the relationship.

Kayle
Kayle

THANK YOU. it is usually the men that are competing and just getting mad when you're not impressed or preemptively ending things once they see they can't win. If I compete with a man, I *hope* to lose once in a while and I will take my lumps like a grown-up. He should be able to do the same. I don't mind losing, but if you NEED to win or for *me* to not play at all, I'm taking my ball and going home.I want a partner, not a parent (or child) and certainly not a poor loser.

(btw, this is where the players distortion of *real game* by using putdowns to gain interest comes in, in case you were wondering)

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