There’s something uncomfortable we all need to talk about.
This is for all you women out there in a relationship with a man who does not try to have sex with you at least a few times per week, if not daily. And, of course, it’s for those men too.
Note: for the sake of making this easy to write I will use heterosexual relationships as examples, but I’m sure this will apply to all types of sexual relationships involving modern men.
In my years of diving deeply into the intimate details of Nice Guy’s lives, I’ve been struck by a recurring theme: lack of sexual leadership by men. By this I mean guys who do not boldly and directly initiate sex with their partners (and women they’re attracted to in general), men who use indirect methods to meet their sexual needs (manipulation), and/or men who rely on pornography for sexual stimulation.
Ever been with a man like that?
These men tend to be passive and avoidant in all forms of sexuality, including touching, kissing and verbal sexuality (dirty talk). These men wait for a green light from women before making a move. They will not attempt any sexual move that puts them at risk of rejection. They get emotionally agitated when rejected sexually, demonstrated by completely fake acceptance (masking rage), depression, or by taking it personally.
This whole effect has a disastrous outcome. Women around the world feel unattractive, frustrated, confused, and forced into masculinity. They feel that their partners do not find them attractive, or that their dates just want to be friends. And everyone misses out on playful, uninhibited nooky.
Let me make a couple of points clear here:
- It has almost nothing to do with sexual desire or how attractive you are. Most men want sexual release frequently, and when push comes to shove they are not that picky about who they’re attracted to.
- It is rare for a straight guy to have a genuinely asexual platonic relationship with a woman. This doesn’t mean men can’t be your friend, just understand there will often be attraction and they definitely have at least considered shagging you. There’s nothing wrong with this. Relax.
So what’s going on here? Why are men hiding their sexuality and avoiding rejection? Has your man really lost interest in you, or is there something darker happening behind the scenes?
I want to help women with these issues in two ways. Firstly, understand what is happening psychologically with your man (or that guy you just dated who didn’t try to kiss you). And secondly, what you can do to help him.
There are a number of contributing causes to male passive sexuality. I’ve learned of many, through my own experiences, psychological research, and the many anecdotes of both my male and female clients. Here we go…
The initial feminist movement was great for gaining equal rights for women in most countries. We’re almost there. Once religion stops ruling the moral sphere for society we might even achieve some sort of gender-equality.
But like all extreme movements, it went too far in some areas. Namely, third-wave feminism became synonymous with man-hating. In the 60s and 70s the message seemed clear: you men are all selfish rapists! Obviously, this was not the intended message by most feminists, but it was certainly the message that many men received.
Men were also told to be more sensitive and caring, which we took to mean “be more like a woman” and to stop being masculine.
It became the least fashionable thing in the world for a man to show sexual attraction to a woman. Even a wink was considered assault. It became difficult for men to safely understand the difference between harassment, assault, flirting and foreplay. And there was no-one there to teach us, because they were too scared to give the wrong advice.
The stage was set for a whole generation of men (who of course were to become fathers and rolemodels) to become scared , ashamed, and confused about their own masculine sexuality.
Many boys are conditioned as they grow older to feel ashamed of their sexual desire. They are told that it is materialistic to be attracted to girl before you “get to know her.”
Romantic movies portray the asexual wimpy friend as a hero, and the sexually dominant male as a sleazy sadist. Words like “sensitive” and “respectful” are over-emphasized and misunderstood by men to mean “you have pretend to care more than you actually do before you can shag her, or else you’re a rapist.”
Many boys are raised almost solely by women. Fathers are away working and emotionally distant (and they are victims of this shame as well so their rolemodelling is no help), and most school-teachers are female. This means that a boy’s model of what it means to be a man comes filtered through female interpretation and the unrealistic media.
Women have the best of intentions when they tell a boy how he should treat a woman. Unfortunately this description often includes complete lack of sexuality and leadership, and gives the boy a picture of a lower-status, passive and asexual friend (be polite, compliment her, buy her dinner etc.).
When you ask a woman about her “ideal” man, she will often describe the caring and nurturing side. However, This is not what she is sexually attracted to. It would be pretty rare for a mother to tell her son “On your first date, make sure to playfully spank her on the ass, and don’t wait to the end to go for a kiss.” Guys grow up with no intuitive sense of when it’s OK to behave this way, and when it’s not. So they opt for the safest option: do nothing.
Women are also encouraged to feel massive shame about their sexuality, thinking that wanting sex is “slutty.” This causes women to pretend not to have high sex-drives, further convincing men to believe women do not welcome sexual attraction.
I didn’t realise that women actually enjoy sex more than men until I was in my mid-20s! And I’m not even one of the worst cases. One of the reasons men become obsessed with pornography is because it’s the only media outlet that shows women enjoying sex, especially beyond the traditional vanilla (religious) relationship model.
Combine all of this with the boy’s first sexual experiences in early teen years. If he’s been conditioned to think that sexual desire is shameful and then he gets rejected when asking a girl out for the first time (like what happened to me), he will consider this as solid proof that he should be passive. He will then wait patiently for a girl to select him, causing him to forever place women on a pedestal of status above him.
He will constantly seek their validation and approval. This makes him even more ashamed of defiling one of these goddesses, so he holds back sexually, and eventually he will settle for any woman who is willing to initiate, even if he doesn’t love her.
Movies and TV programmes give boys the impression that men should not develop sexual feelings towards a woman until after they are attracted to her personality. This does not line up with reality. A man decides whether or not he wants to sleep with you in less than 0.000001 nano-seconds.
A man does not need to be attracted to your personality to want to have sex with you. It’s the way men are biologically wired – accept it, or be forever disappointed. So this concept of telling a man to wait for intimate connection before showing attraction is a common example of men being made to feel that their natural desires are “wrong.”
Want to know what happens to men who are constantly conditioned to believe that they should repress sexual desire? They eventually snap. Just look at what happened with the Catholic Church. I used to rehabilitate child sex offenders, and can say without doubt the leading trigger to their offending was shame.
In the end, you get men who think it is basically wrong to want sex. It’s as simple as that. There are plenty of exceptions of course, but if you’re a socially active woman then you’ve definitely had these men in your life, many times. Think of any guy who’s ever been nice and friendly to you, without you having to respect him or otherwise earn it. He was probably trying to get laid without being direct. End of story.
THE FEAR OF REJECTION
At the bottom of it all is a dirty, shameful secret: these men are terrified of being rejected by women. TERROR-fied. Overcoming fear of rejection is the most frequent conversation I have in the coaching I do.
Due to everything we’ve discussed already, and combined with genetic predispositions we all have around social harmony, Nice Guys associate rejection with feelings of intense anxiety; a constant dread.
I know men who are quite successful with women yet still feel massive approach anxiety. The thought of going up to a girl and telling her that she’s gorgeous loosens their bowels. Nice Guys require alcohol, signs of attraction, anonymity (e.g. online dating), long-term friendship, and other crutches before they can feel safe to express attraction. Some never do it, even once the relationship has started.
Expressing attraction is a risk-taking behaviour. The fear gives Nice Guys a sickening feeling, linked to thoughts about what would happen if the attraction is not reciprocated. When I ask my clients “What are you actually afraid will happen?” their answers are never clear, beyond a few vague hints at reputation and embarrassment.
They’re so afraid of rejection they can’t even explore the idea of it without support. Some can’t even admit to it, yet their behaviour shows avoidance of social rejection in every area of life (e.g. sticking with a job they hate because they’re afraid to ask for a promotion).
This can continue well after a romantic relationship is established. I used to think that every time a girl I was seeing said No to sex that it was all over. Often it was, but this was actually due to my other people-pleasing behaviours, and I didn’t see that so I just further reinforced the false belief about rejection.
Men in relationships continue to be sexually passive because of the underlying fear that sexual rejection will signal the end of the relationship entirely. It’s like Billy Connolly once said:
“Women need to feel loved to have sex; men need to have sex to feel loved”.
I am NOT advocating sexual assault, of course. No means no. But waiting for a clear invitation before even suggesting interest is weakly passive, and will leave many women waiting in vain. Men have to take a risk – part of masculinity is assertiveness. But they often don’t, because…
AFTER VALIDATION THEY DON’T NEED TO “CHASE”
Women who email me each week often ask why their guy “stopped trying” after the initial 3-6 month courtship. What happened to the roses and dinners and romantic/sexual gestures? Often this stuff ends shortly after you’ve put out for the first time. Is it because Nice Guys are just shallow manipulative sex-fiends?
What’s happening is the guy is trying to feel good about himself. He has been conditioned to worship and seek the approval of women (remember all the female teachers etc.?) and cannot function without it.
The courtship was not really romance, it was a misguided and unhealthy attempt to receive your validation. Once you give that validation (e.g. have sex), they can finally relax, which often means no more effort at all.
One thing I’ve noticed about truly confident men: they do not chase. They make their desires known directly, and encourage you to either accept or reject them. If you try to string them along, they get bored and move on. They will participate in courtship, but only if there is equal investment (i.e. they will only chase if you chase back).
SEX is the ultimate validation for the poor damaged Nice Guy (I say this with love; I used to be one). When a Nice Guy gets laid he finally feels that he has received your acceptance. So he no longer has any reason to keep manipulating you into liking him more. It has nothing to do with how attracted he is to you.
It was never about you.
FEELINGS OF WORTHLESSNESS
You can imagine what happens to man over time when he is programmed to see sex as the only proof that he is a good person. He starts to feel worthless when he doesn’t get it, and chasing sex feels like a chore that he doesn’t even get to enjoy.
And worst of all, he creates a pattern that amplifies this effect. Because he is so passive around sex (waiting for you to initiate), he rarely gets it. He’s not making any effort to turn you on or initiate because he’s waiting for you to make a move (that he doesn’t even really want because sex now feels like a job to him). So you think he’s not interested and sex just stops happening.
Now he feels even more worthless. In his mind, even his partner doesn’t want him. And when you finally do get drunk or frustrated enough to give in and initiate, it only enables this process even more, because now he’s getting intermittent rewards. This is a psychological concept that explains why people love to gamble; we are wired to become more obsessed with occasional unexpected rewards than we are with consistent rewards.
He has now unconsciously made you responsible for his self-worth, and he blames both of you for the lack of sexual activity.
And a final point, one I’m no expert on, is that men these days simply have less testosterone. Our diet and behaviour are increasing oestrogen levels, which exaggerates these issues. It’s hard to feel like a man when you’re flooded with ‘female’ hormones.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
So there you are: with a man you love, or on a date with an interesting guy, yet suffering through a boring sex life. What can you do to help him rediscover healthy masculinity?
Firstly, try to understand what you’re dealing with here: a frightened little boy. A man who has been brainwashed into thinking that women are the leaders in sex, and that he should wait for full outright expressed permission before even considering sex.
Here are my top tips for re-programming your man and helping him unleash his masculine, powerful sexuality:
- Tell him what you want, directly. The upside to these guys is that they are eager to please you sexually and get a massive thrill from your pleasure. Use this to your advantage. Give him explicit instructions on what to do physically, and encourage him to surprise you. The more he sees himself as sexually successful, the more courageous and risk-taking he will become over time.
- Encourage him to be sexually dominant and tell him to lead. Give him permission to initiate without needing a ‘sign’ from you. Tell him things like “It would turn me on so much if you just randomly grabbed me and kissed me”. Spell it out for him at first, so he can safely challenge his boundaries. He’s going against his programming here, so be patient and relentless. Do NOT take over leadership responsibilities out of frustration, as this is only a short term solution that actually increases the problem.
- Talk openly with him about his views on sex and leadership. Ask him who he thinks should lead and initiate. Let him know its OK for him to do this with you. Create a safe space for him to speak openly about his sexual shame.
- Call him out on his shit! I once had a girl tell me that it was annoying that I made jokes about how I didn’t get laid. This was a total revelation – I thought it was a good thing to show lack of sexual activity, until this happened. Some of my biggest changes came from girls in my life simply being honest and not enabling me. This is great to do when dating.
- Spend a weekend away with him, naked and debaucherous. Dedicate a few nights to exploring all of your fantasies and his. Show him that nothing he wants sexually is ‘wrong’ (of course it’s still OK to say no to it, just don’t call him a freak). This weekend will make him much more sexually comfortable around you.
- Encourage leadership, but don’t nag. Force him to make decisions for the both of you outside of the bedroom. Allow and support him to take risks. Don’t allow his passive feminism to force you to be masculine. E.g. if you’ve just started dating, make him choose where and when. Encourage his masculinity in other areas, like health and career.
And my NUMBER ONE TIP:
Get him to read “No More Mr Nice Guy” by Dr. Robert A Glover. Go through the book with him and encourage him to do the exercises. It will be painful for both of you but may save your relationship.
Good luck! And let me know your thoughts or questions.
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