The Introspective Man

Think about it, bro.

Posted on July 2, 2013 by Jessica Hagy


: a reflective looking inward : an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings



  • self-contemplation
  • self-examination
  • self-observation
  • self-questioning
  • self-reflection
  • self-scrutiny
  • self-searching
  • soul-searching

The ancient Greeks understood the value of introspection, as evidenced in the aphorism “Know thyself.” According to Plato, Socrates said that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”

Of course, one can take navel gazing too far. Introspection can easily become self-condemnation at one extreme, stifling growth. It can lead to self-pity and a victim mentality.

At the other extreme, it can lead to total self-absorption, which brings us right back to douchebaggery in a boomerang effect.

Still, self-examination and self-awareness are key ingredients of good character. When dating and seeking a relationship  partner, ask yourself this question: Continue reading

How to Get a Boyfriend in College

Happy Couple ShoppingThe first and most critical step to finding a relationship in college is choosing a guy who’s capable of and interested in having one. Avoid wasting time, emotional energy (and a number!) on guys who are not relationship material. 

Take this quiz and see where you should be investing your effort. Continue reading

Hoping For Those Three Little Words


You don’t want this

Dear Susan,

Love your website. Have been an avid reader for a couple years now. I hope you can take a look at my situation as outlined below. I’m having a hard time understanding if the relationship I am in currently is likely to lead to marriage.

We met online five months ago. We met for coffee and hit it off, then went out again on a more real “first date” (dinner and activity) two days later. We’ve been somewhat inseparable since. We’re both 26 years old, he’s a geoscientist and I’m a PhD student.

He’s been in one other long-term relationship that lasted about 2 years and just “fizzled” (his words) at the end. I’ve only dated men for very short periods of time (1 month-ish) because if I can’t see long-term possibilities with the guy, I don’t like to stick around or put out, so this is officially the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. We both were openly exclusive from the beginning, but we didn’t become bf/gf until almost three weeks after we met. We slept together a couple days before we confirmed bf/gf. Continue reading

The Cohabitation Blues

Wilcox illoShould you move in with your boyfriend? That depends. Do you know he’s “the one?” Does he feel the same way about you? If so, and your engagement is just a matter of time, I think it can work very well. That’s what Mr. HUS and I did when we both moved to NYC after business school. An engagement would have felt a bit rushed, but we knew it was coming, so we lived together for a year first. In fact, we pooled all our resources from the start in joint accounts, and never looked back. It worked beautifully, and it was a great way to start our life together.

Studies show that living together before marriage is correlated to a greater likelihood of divorce, except in cases where the couple has already decided to marry.

The belief that living together before marriage is a useful way “to find out whether you really get along,” and thus avoid a bad marriage and an eventual divorce, is now widespread among young people. But the available studies on the effects of cohabitation are mixed. In fact, some evidence indicates that those who live together before marriage are more likely to break up after marriage.

Within the last few months I have witnessed two very messy breakups between couples living together, and in both cases the loss was much greater for the woman. Why? Because both couples had lived together 5 years or more, originally as a trial run to assess long-term compatibility, and because sharing expenses looked appealing.

Ultimately, however, the men decided they did not want to marry their roommates after all. Now in their early 30s and quite successful in their careers, they have seen their sexual market value rise considerably in the last five years. The women, both 32, are well past their peak fertility and now feel at a serious disadvantage getting back out there. Both had been expecting a ring at any moment, in a far too common cocktail of denial and delusion. Both were devastated.

In All Over But the Lease, Natalie Kitroeff at the  New York Times highlights some horrific breakups between couples living together in the city. Moving in together in NY is often expedient:

With rents that can bring a checking account to its knees, living together can seem the only sensible option. But if the relationship goes sour in the middle of the lease, that decision can turn out to have been a wild gamble after all.

… In New York, where people platonically share windowless rooms with strangers in a trade for subway access, cohabitation and commitment do not necessarily go hand in hand. Living together is often driven as much by practicality as romance. And when the relationship unravels, one or both parties have to walk away from an apartment as well as a lover. 

It’s also a risky highwire maneuver. Here’s how it unfolded for one couple:

Ms. Seale said Mr. Byhoff came home one evening and announced, without much fanfare, “I’m no longer attracted to you.”

With that, lovers became just roommates, with a hefty helping of history between them.

…“It was definitely awkward,” Mr. Byhoff said. “It’s just like, you’re in the bed facing a different way. There is nothing else you can do.”

They continued living together in what Ms. Seale described as a “weird purgatory” for a month before she moved out and he took over the lease.

During that time, said Ms. Seale, who was freelancing as a writer and acting, she would walk the dog they had bought together for eight hours a day, to avoid being in the apartment. 

Breakups rarely coincide with lease renewal, so the crisis of unexpected disruption seems inevitable. In the cases I witnessed, one man ran out on the lease and stopped paying rent, while his ex scrambled to find a new roommate in a one bedroom apartment. Definitely awkward.

In the other case, the man owned the condo, and had been collecting rent from the woman for 5  years, though of course the equity appreciation was all his. He’s sitting pretty, she’s out of luck. He gave her 30 days notice and crashed on a friend’s couch during that time rather than endure and perpetrate painful ending scenes. She was spared that humiliation, at least.

Ivana Tagliamonte, an agent with Halstead Property, says she has seen so many breakups that they almost seem a rite of passage for young New Yorkers. “It’s a life cycle for a lot of young couples in their early 20s,” she said. “They move in together, sign a lease together, and then the relationship doesn’t work out.”

Nor is it surprising that when the young and in lease fall out of love, shared real estate sometimes becomes a weapon. Ms. Tagliamonte said the worst case she had dealt with involved a couple who were sharing a studio for which only the woman had signed the lease.

Toward the end of the lease, the rent payments were so far behind that Ms. Tagliamonte, on behalf of the landlord, went to evict the couple. But when she got there, she noticed that the closets contained only men’s clothing. She realized that despite being the leaseholder, the girlfriend had moved out.

It’s not necessary to set up house together to “find out if you really get along.” There were no surprises or major discoveries when I moved in with my future husband – we already knew each other very well and had long ago agreed that we were highly compatible. Living together as a “trial run” offers little reward for a woman who is able to support herself. She removes any incentive for marriage when she skips Lover and goes straight to Wife. Don’t forget the #2 reason men delay marriage, according to the National Marriage Project:

They can enjoy the benefits of having a wife by cohabiting rather than marrying.

There are several other risks associated with living together:

1. Relationship Inertia

Couples who would not otherwise have married “slide” into marriage as a result of living together. It’s harder to end a relationship when you’re living with your partner.

2. Sunk Cost

“People may have a harder time cutting their losses when they think about all the time, energy, and money they put into the relationship, even cutting their losses will save them more heartache in the future.”

For women entering their 30s after years of living together, doubling down often feels like the only hope, even when hope is futile.

3. Opportunity Cost

It’s harder to meet someone new, and impossible to pursue someone new (or should be).

I highly recommend living together once you are both sure you’re on the road to marriage. I strongly advise against living together to see if you’re meant for one another. Take care of that before setting up house – otherwise you’re stacking the deck against marriage. Separating after cohabitation can feel a lot like a divorce. All pain, no gain.




The Heart Wants…What the Penis Wants?

first-base-making-out-demotivational-posters-1307651468Reader Apple left a comment today that I thought was brilliant re the timing of sex:

Really, it comes down to a woman having the balls to say: “I don’t care what your penis wants if you don’t care what my heart wants.”

The actual line I’ve always used in real life is:

“I don’t do casual sex. Sex for me is something that happens when I love someone and they love me. I understand that’s not how most people operate now, but that’s how I operate. If you don’t like those terms, I won’t waste your time.”

The first thing a woman should do is ask herself what outcome she wants from the connection. If she’s after casual sex, she can have it and fulfill her mission (though she is unlikely to have an orgasm). If she’s telling herself that all she wants is casual sex, goes for it and then catches feelings, she needs to realize she’s been an idiot, and stop pursuing the worst strategy ever.

In How Long Should We Wait Before Having Sex? TV persona and relationship expert Dr. Wendy Walsh has gathered the most current data on how the timing of sex predicts relationship outcomes. (H/T: J)

I. Researcher Dean Busby has found that waiting at least 30 days leads to better relationships. He studied over 2,000 married adults with an average age of 36, asking about when they had sex and relationship satisfaction.

Curiously, almost 40 percent of couples are essentially sexual within the first or second time they go out, but we suspect that if you asked these same couples at this early stage of their relationship – ‘Do you trust this person to watch your pet for a weekend many could not answer this in the affirmative’ – meaning they are more comfortable letting people into their bodies than they are with them watching their cat.

 Walsh summarizes his body of research:

Busby’s research shows that couples who wait to have sex — at least 30 to 90 days — rather than doing it in the early stages of the relationship have better relationship outcomes.

Postponing sex, even for as long as six months, is associated with higher relationship stability, higher relationship satisfaction, better communication and higher quality sexual relationship.

It seems that couples who wait have a better handle on issues that come up in their relationships. Because sex doesn’t complicate the relationship, they have better communication skills.

II. Researcher Anthony Paik found that exclusivity is linked to delayed sex.

In one of my studies, it turned out that the longer couples delayed sex the more exclusive the relationship. And if men engage in sex within the first month of dating they are 4.5 times more likely to be nonexclusive later.

Couples who didn’t wait but were each open to a serious relationship with one another from the start did as well as couples who waited – the problem is, that’s a crap shoot. Even if each party is separately hoping a hookup will turn into a relationship, there’s no acceptable way of sharing that information, since by definition a hookup is “no strings.”

One good indicator of intent is a person’s past sexual experience:

People with higher numbers of past sexual partners were more likely to form hookups, and to report lower relationship quality. Through the acquisition of partners they begin to favor short-term relationships and find the long-term ones less rewarding.

III. Mark Renegerus, author of Premarital Sex in America has also found support for the 30 day rule.

Couples who waited at least 30 days to have sex increased the likelihood that the couple was still dating one year later. Nearly one-quarter of those who waited 30 days were still together a year later.

As for those who were quick to jump in bed together, well, 90 percent of those couples didn’t even make it one year.

IV. David Buss has found that the more women a guy has had sex with, the faster he is to disdain a new sexual partner. 

Renowned evolutionary psychology professor David Buss at the University of Texas at Austin and Martie G. Haselton at the University of California, Los Angeles found that the more previous sexual partners a man has, the more likely he is to quickly perceive diminished attractiveness in a woman after first intercourse. Sex doesn’t lead to love for men. If the guy is a player, sex more often leads to distain for his partner.

Waiting is the most effective way of filtering out players.

Fortunately, the number of women who need to be convinced is shrinking. There is continued support for the claim that college students overwhelmingly prefer relationships to hooking up. In a recent editorial in the LA Times, sociologist and hooking up expert Lisa Wade summed it up:

It’s true that more than 90% of students say that their campus is characterized by a hookup culture.  But in fact, no more than 20% of students hook up very often; one-third of them abstain from hooking up altogether, and the remainder are occasional participators.

If you do the math, this is what you get: The median number of college hookups for a graduating senior is seven. This includes instances in which there was intercourse, but also times when two people just made out with their clothes on. The typical student acquires only two new sexual partners during college. Half of all hookups are with someone the person has hooked up with before. A quarter of students will be virgins when they graduate.

…The majority of students — 70% of women and 73% of men — report that they’d like to have a committed relationship, and 95% of women and 77% of men prefer dating to hooking up. In fact, about three-quarters of students will enter a long-term monogamous relationship while in college.

Wade points out that those relationships will begin via the hookup – the casual encounter is still the path to commitment in college. But it’s good to know that the majority of hookups are not intended to be casual after all. Kids are making out, dry humping, and getting busy with their hands without having sex, pretty much like we did back in the 70s.