Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy

Merging sense and sensibility in modern relationships

Women Who Are Turned Off By Nice Guys

How to manage morning after regrets

Some women tell me they are not attracted to men who directly state a desire to get to know and date them. Instead, they are attracted to distant and noncommittal personalities and say they relish the challenge and the thrill of the romantic chase that these men present. They may see a man who openly expresses an interest in them as soft and not sufficiently masculine. One-on-one conversations with a man interested in the whole woman feels awkward and strange to them.

For women with this attitude the most comfortable way to romantically connect is by hooking up at parties and bars with men they don’t know very well or don’t know at all. The random hook up is an exciting roll of the dice and it can be validating if only on a physical level. However, once the sexual event is over and the man unceremoniously exits these women may be left feeling emotionally depleted. Typically, they self-criticize for failing to achieve a more meaningful connection with the man. They are tormented by concerns that they said something the man did not like or did something that he found undesirable. And yet, they soon find themselves repeating a self-defeating cycle

For women who struggle with low self-esteem, nice guys do not match their neuronal wiring for a negative self-image. As a result, it may feel odd, uncomfortable and even burdensome to become romantic with men who directly and positively take an interest in them. Instead women who struggle with low self-worth continually pick men who re-confirm their view of themselves as being not good enough. Their learned dating pattern screens out those men who see them more positively than they see themselves.

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Instead of self-criticism these women gain insight when they learn to question their dating strategy. By and large, connecting with strangers in random hook ups does not provide women with what brings core contentment-- feeling cared for and deeply known. Women who feel there is some emotional intimacy present between them and their romantic partners report having a more fulfilling sexual and emotional life. Choices that are more in line with a woman’s longer term interests are made when she learns to recognize this. Emotional intimacy with a partner does not require a commitment to engagement and marriage. Emotional intimacy does mean that the man takes an interest in getting to know the woman, actively listens as she speaks and is interested in doing things that are not sexually driven or alcohol fueled.

For many women this is axiomatic, but for some it is a lesson that must be learned.

How does a woman determine if there is sufficient emotional intimacy present to reasonably expect a fulfilling sexual experience without morning-after regrets and self recriminations? It takes time to assess romantic prospects, which means a woman needs to learn to resist impulse and the desire to feel immediate self-validation. It takes time to determine if a man is able to speak openly about himself and if he has the capacity to listen and ask questions. A woman must be honest with herself. For those in the habit of hooking up with men and later regretting the outcome, keep this awareness top of mind to help delay sex until you feel known at least on some level. Agree to outings with men who see you in a positive light and who want to be with you in more ways than sexual. Little by little you will change your brain’s pattern of behavior and you will become comfortable being yourself around men who treat you well.

The more you accept as healthy your need for closeness and emotionally intimacy, the more you will screen out those men who are incapable or not emotionally prepared to provide it.

Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. is the author of Having Sex, Wanting Intimacy—Why Women Settle for One-Sided relationships.

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