Some women, without even knowing it, are driving
the men who love them right out of their lives. For the most part, women aren't getting
information about men straight from the source. They're asking other women, listening to
so-called relationship experts, and believing statistics. While those sources may be
helpful and provide some information, nothing is as accurate as asking men what they think
and feel. 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. 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
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.
2. 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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
"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.
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
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 thats 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 by By William JulyII. Copyright© 1998 by William JulyII. Excerpted by
permission of Main Street Books/Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in
writing from the publisher.
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.
July has a unique and diverse background. At 18, he started his own insurance agency. Before completing college with a degree in business, he’d passed the Texas real estate broker’s exam. He is also a former police officer, has served as a political aide, been a candidate for public office and has taught both photography and real estate courses at the Houston Community College and other schools in the Houston area. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a concentration in Marketing from Texas Southern University. Currently he is pursuing graduate studies in Theology and Counseling. He lives in Houston, TX with his wife Jamey Lacey.
William July is a versatile speaker who presents enlightening lectures and entertaining workshops nationwide to diverse audiences at colleges, events and churches. You can find out more about him and his availability as a speaker or workshop leader on his Web site.
His next book, Understanding the Tim Man: Why So Many Men Avoid Intimacy, will be available in December.
In addition to speaking and writing, July is also active in his community. He’s a writer in residence with the Writers In The Schools program, teaching creative writing to elementary school children. July also teaches a seminar course on publishing at the Houston Community College. He has been the recipient of several achievement awards and citations for outstanding community service.