7 Deadly Mistakes Lonely Men Make

Why some guys can never find or keep a girlfriend

Posted Apr 13, 2014

shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
Source: shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
Source: shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
Source: shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon
Source: shutterstock image purchased by UCLA for Dr. Gordon

Men who cannot find or keep girlfriends categorically make seven mistakes regarding women. 

The Desperation Mindset

We all carry the wisdom of the ancients with us in our genetics and neuropeptides. In early humans, men and women worked together as hunters and gatherers. The men were the hunters because they were more physically suited to hunting, because of physical size, speed, and their constant presence was not as vital to the offspring as the mother’s presence.

The alpha males had the best food and the best shelter.  Therefore, females were attracted to the alpha males for survival reasons. The alpha males had their choice of women.  The alpha males never displayed desperation because they were never desperate.  The men who acted desperately were the weaker males with less to offer.  The brain consolidates and simplifies information. In this instance, the consolidated lessons were Desperation=valueless.   When a woman feels a man is desperate, she thinks “less valuable.” 

Being Evasive about Defining Your Relationship

It is idiotic, annoying and a neon sign flashing “hot mess” when a woman asks a man about their relationship. If she has to ask if the two of you are in a relationship, the answer is probably, no. The neon sign that is flashing “hot mess” is not necessarily referring to the woman always. Sometimes it is referring to your communication skills. Again, back to evolution.  The many oxytocin receptors in women, compared to the few in men, and the excess of vasopressin receptors in men, creates a gender bias in women's and men's approach to relationships.  Evolution designed men to spread as much seed as possible.  It designed women to choose the best of that seed.  Oxytocin is the bonding hormone, whereas vasopressin is the do anything but bond hormone  Oxytocin causes women to say “nest”; vasopressin causes men to say “next”; So understanding that, if you want to have a girlfriend, you need to lead, as you would on the dance floor.  What is romance but a dance?

Overreacting to Clinginess

All humans fear intimacy. When another person moves towards you, the brain’s default response is to move away for safety. Clinginess is invasive, threatening, annoying, suspect and extremely unattractive, “if you read it that way.”  You can also interpret it as, “I just want to be with you.”  The solution here is flexibility and communication.  Establish the boundaries.  Although this does not work with every woman, e.g. I am a Michigan alumnus and football is a religion to me. I was working on a project with a woman (whom I was quite smitten with) and I told her explicitly not to call me on Saturday’s during football season.  Not only did she call me on a Saturday, it was the Michigan vs. Notre Dame game, and one minute before kick-off.  She wanted to know if we could work that Saturday because her sorority sister was in town and they wanted to see a ballet on Sunday, our usual workday. I opened up my mouth to say, “Heifer! Have you lost your mind? Are you smoking crack at a nuclear waste dump?” Instead the words, “It’s okay the game is not important today. Let me get my laptop” came out. Thus, establishing boundaries with women is not always easy. Bottom line, women tend to be clingy more so than men—again oxytocin. Again, control for it, understand it, and frame it positively, without sacrificing yourself.

Failure to Communicate You Think She is Beautiful

The days when women were women and men were grateful are gone, fortunately. However, historically it has always been the woman’s role to be pretty. Everyone seeks appreciation. For women, it is a rarer commodity. Pulchritude is one of the traditionally-female currencies. Letting your girlfriend know that you think she is pretty is important to her because society has taught women to be unduly concerned with their physical appearance. For example, between January and March (2012) beauty sales increased 14% ($2,278,000,00) Four out of five women wear make-up according to TBC (ref below). Of those women, the average time expenditure applying make-up is 20 minutes per day.  That's slightly over 5 days per year.  That is a typical work week. What does that tell you? That suggests to me that we live in a society where a great deal of importance is placed on physical appearance.  Studies have shown that "more attractive people" are more successful careerwise.  So we cannot point our finger at women.  As a man of color, I have an issue with the Teutonic-based beauty standard, which tragically encourages beautiful black, brown, and dark-haired women to abandon their natural beauty to emulate white women, e.g., hair straightening products, weaves and blonde hair dyes. Being in a relationship with a man that makes time to remind his girlfriend that she is beautiful (as all women are) can help to offset a youth-race-body type fixated cultural beauty standard that is deleterious.  You know what you find breathtakingly beautiful about her. You should let her know that. If you do not let her know you appreciate her in this way, she may feel unappreciated, and go where she feels someone appreciates her physically.  

Checking out or Flirting with Other Women in Front of Her

This is rude, crude, and disrespectful.   Why would you do that?  Why do you think you have the right to do that?  If you want to play in the sandbox, then play by the rules.  One rule is very simple: If you are with a woman on a date, I do not care if something as gorgeous as me in drag walks in, you must not flirt or check it out.  If you do it consistently, you will end up alone. 

Failure to Understand What she is not

A girlfriend is not: a hostage, a secretary, a mother, a maid, your child, or an escort.  You cannot treat them like any of those things and if you do, you will not have them for long.

Too Little Hugging and Talking

Oxytocin causes women to bond with their babies.  Since women have more oxytocin receptors than men do, hugging and conversation cause oxytocin release in women, whereas it releases nothing but anxiety and gas in us. Women can know each other for five minutes, and they know the other one’s favorite color, high school mascot, a mortal enemy in college, what kind of dress they wore to the prom and just a plethora of useless “send me an email” type information. That is who they are, and what they do.  Meet them half way, listen to them. Conversation is not terrible; it is not COD (Video game) or sports, but it is not the worst pastime. It is amazing what you can learn about a woman, when you talk to her—especially if you listen.      

The current challenge we face is redefining ourselves within the context of previously rigid gender roles. Both women and men are capable of a wide variety of proclivities. In some cases, it means abandoning traditional roles. In others, it means embracing them. A differential engine powers life; things are different from, not less than or more than.  Inaccurate comparisons and posture grading, result in worth-dysmorphia.  It is not what we choose but how we choose to execute it. As long as you articulate that choice with honor and respect for yourself and others then it is fine. Understanding why we are, the way we are, empowers us to adapt evolutionary inclinations to our situations. Just as there is nothing wrong with a man or a woman choosing to be non-traditional, there is nothing wrong with he or she choosing to be traditional. Maybe you do not need a girlfriend. That is acceptable a well.  One thing will never change about men and women.  Everything men and women say and do is either, to give or receive love. How he or she chooses to express those needs is optional. Remain fabulous and phenomenal. 


Molecules of Emotion: Candace Pert (Touchstone, NY, NY 1999)

Oxytocin modulates social distance between males and females: Scheele D, Striipena N. et al (Journal of Neuroscience, November 2012)

Personality is tightly coupled to vasopressin-oxytocin neuron activity in a gregarious finch: Kelly AM, Goodson JL (Frontiers In Behavioral Neuroscience, February 2014)

Instant messages vs. speech: hormones and why we still need to hear each other: Leslie J. Seltzer et al (Evolution and Human Behavior)

TBC: (http//www.thebeautycompany.co/downloads/Beyer_BeautyNumbers.pdf

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About the Author

Billi Gordon, Ph.D., is a co-investigator in the Ingestive Behaviors & Obesity Program, Center for the Neurobiology of Stress, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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