Dead at 35: A Guide for Modern Dating >>>


I’m re-entering the dating scene after a very long time “out of the game.”

Dating has changed. Everyone seems dissatisfied or detached (even younger people).

As humans, we haven’t changed — but our expectations are higher, lower, or wildly skewed. If you don’t believe me, just check out the articles here on Medium. The gender-war frustration is at a boiling point.

There may be a solution. This article explains the problem from a fresh, lonely perspective. In conclusion, it recommends transcendental nudity.

Here goes:

The Delightful Problems of Dating in the 2020s

#1: I should be dead

This is one of the biggest problems with dating today: I should be dead.


About 90% of 40-year-olds should be dead, and gender roles “should” be what they were 200 years ago — biologically speaking.

In the year 1800, no country in the world had a life expectancy over 35. Before that, lives were even shorter.

Our long lifespans make traditional gender socialization obsolete (more on that below) while frustrating the hell out of everyone trying to date.

Technology has:

  1. Lengthened our lifespans
  2. Transformed our work lives and workplaces
  3. And, as a result, changed the social roles we play when we date


Problem: we’re biologically identical to humans 10,000 years ago. Our brains remain unchanged. We’re wired for anxiety, sex, community — and most of all, survival — but the terms and conditions have changed.

As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie writes in her book, Everyone Should Be a Feminist, physical strength was the most important quality for leadership before the Industrial Revolution. Now, the people who are more knowledgeable, creative, or intelligent should lead.

Adichie’s insight leads me to realize society was organized for fast procreation and early death.

Men: procreate, protect, provide

Women: birth, nurture, support

Everyone: die before 30

Reality was brutal. Those were the rules. The rules and gender roles fit the circumstances of life.

We’re still biologically conditioned for a world wherein women didn’t hunt, wherein crude physical strength was power, and wherein men didn’t need to bother with nurturance. They were too busy warding off starvation, rapists, and predators.

Now, gender roles have changed. But our brains haven’t. There’s a boatload of academic research detailing the differences between women’s brains and men’s brains.

But for now, it feels like we’re stuck.

What can we do differently?

#2: Women discovered boxed wine

And cats. They love those cats.

But seriously… boxed wine can be consumed as often as desired, from the comfort of a couch — and without a man.

Single women are happier than married women. That speaks horrific volumes about men and modernity.

Women can do all the man stuff.

Men still suck at birthing children.

If women can be financial providers — and if “financial provision” now has great overlap with “protection” — where does that leave men? The only unique reason for our existence is procreation.

(And guys, please note: the lady with the boxed wine has that sperm bank right down the street, too.)

This has men feeling very lost, very sad, and very angry. Worse still, this generation of men wasn’t the healthiest to begin with. Some of us won’t recover from our egoic blow.

Sure, it was women who (justly) demanded equal pay, voting rights, etc.

But the real shift in power — and the reason they now prefer boxed wine over men — came from technology. Lifting heavy stuff just doesn’t matter that much.

And when you consider the persistent gender norm of women doing most of the housework regardless of their respective earnings, you can understand why she might say “screw ‘em.”

This trend is disturbing. People need people. Trusting partnership isone of the most fulfilling parts of life. Long-term relationships are the greatest predictor of happiness in our later years.


With their financial needs met, many women have given up on relational needs.

This will change. Relationships are a human need. The genders will reunite soon — happier than ever.

But for now, it feels like we’re stuck.

What can we do differently?

#3: We’re all sick of cold oatmeal

Most first dates with modern women are about as exciting as a job interview.

It’s like entering my 1099s into TurboTax.

Or using the self-checkout touch-screen at Kroger.

Why? Because we’ve battered femininity beyond recognition.

Unless — against all odds — I can finesse some feminine energy out of her, she’s just a curvy bro.

Men love a woman’s energy as much as we love their bodies and personalities. It’s that feminine spark that drives romance — not testosterone, not orgasm, not star-crossed fate.

The way a woman moves and laughs can send shivers up my spine. But not these days. At least not often.

We’ve lost touch with femininity (and healthy masculinity too!) for several reasons:

  1. Women acted like men to compete with men. To get ahead in the world, women played a man’s game on men’s terms. There was no other way. They learned to raise their voices, push, assert, and execute.
    Take the example of Hillary Clinton. She’s a man. (Then, just for fun, imagine Bill standing next to her, wearing yet another of his pants suits.)
  2. Women need their masculine shield 24/7. Without a caveman by her side, the CFO must walk to her car carrying her keys between her knuckles. She must remain constantly vigilant against physical threats from men. Evolutionarily, that’s a job for me, not her.
    Moreover, she has to fend off indirect sexual advances from wimpy men. Nice guys want to slide into a relationship with her, bore her, and soak up her time.
  3. Women bought into toxic masculinity. Most women harbor some form of misogyny. The CFO is disgusted by her vulnerability, her desire for support, and the times she hesitated to speak up. She disgusts at her humanity.
    As a man, I fault myself for the same things. We’re both mistaken.


The dance of masculine and feminine — the gender polarities that once excited romance — have faded like old photos. We’re friends first. And while friendship is good, it’s as exciting as cold oatmeal when you’re expecting romance.

Our neurobiology continues to define the energetics of attraction, but our current gender roles often negate it.

And it’s not just the feminine that’s been quashed into the gutter. Masculinity is weak right now too (or else deranged).

We are a generation of men raised without a father — or raised by an emotionally distant father who spent most of his day away at the office.

We weren’t out working with our fathers in the fields. We weren’t absorbing their habits and energy and learning how to walk as a man in a harsh world. We were home with our mothers or at school where most of the teachers were women.

We’ve been socialized away from traditional masculinity. We’ve been taught to be nice, maintain approval, and honor what women want above what we feel is best. (At age 11, the approval of our mothers and school teachers was critical.)

So now the dance of romance has faded.

Unless a man can throw himself at a woman with complete moxie; unless he’s trustworthy enough for her to let go and relax; unless she is deeply in touch with herself…

…we’re oatmeal. The electrical charge of polar opposites is gone between cisgender heterosexual singles.

It’s silly. I’m a man with a vasectomy instinctively seeking an attractive (read: fertile-seeming) partner. That’s how my brain works.

That partner — on the other hand — wants a man who, in one way or another, carries masculine energy: confidence. She wants someone who is self-assured, speaks boldly, and takes the directive. Someone who can handle shit and handle himself. Even though she could do it all herself.

“Confidence” tops the survey results of what women want, and it’s a dog whistle for other masculine qualities.

It’s why the Bad Boy gets the girl (often). It’s at the very least a valid anecdote. She may not like all the ways the Bad Boy acts, but she loves that he doesn’t need her approval. She loves that he takes control. She loves that he’s solid — unlike the milk-toast Nice Guys she can’t depend on.

When men struggle to find their backbone, they struggle to find women.


I met a miserable guy in a men’s circle.

(His wife had left him.)

He sat with his head in his hands — teary-eyed — saying “I would have been anything she wanted.”

She told him — “You’re not the partner I want.”

She told him — “I don’t feel alive when I’m with you.”

At one point, she literally told him — “man up, dammit!”

Then she opened an offshore account, drained their checking, and split.

He asked everyone: “Why did she leave? I’m so moldable.”

That word — moldable — really stuck with me. Is “moldable” a quality women look for in a man? Hell no. This guy was communicative, open, honest, blah, blah, blah… and he even had money. But he had little masculine energy.

Fault our neurobiology. Because while the new gender roles define respect, our 10,000-year-old brain continues to define attraction in terms of archetypically masculine and feminine qualities.

So for now, it feels like we’re stuck.

What can we do differently?

#4: $500,000 will always be a problem

Expectations for masculinity have changed, but many women are secretly attracted to the version that grunts. They’re deceiving themselves if they insist otherwise (or confusing unmet needs — respect, communication, etc. — with wants).

Note: men are still hopelessly, unreasonably, tragically, permanently, and grossly obsessed with how women look — but I’m going to discuss women first because their needs and wants have shifted more than men’s.

Women need communication, empathy, honesty, and the ability of their men to be emotionally present — all the skills of a good friend (skills that men often lack). These are simple prerequisites for a modern relationship.

Yet women want more. And the key word is “want.”

As any good marketer will tell you, people make decisions based on what they want, not what they need.

They’ll still choose a rich man over a financial cripple — even if both are equally open and honest. They’ll choose a fireman over an overweight Walmart shift manager — even if their salaries are about the same. Who could blame them?

Masculine provision/protection roles still make the difference for men trying to score a partner.

Besides, if you conceptualize the provision/protection roles as “confidence,” that confidence soon nets the tangible elements of success.

Confident, directed men do stuff. Usually, that includes earning money.

If you took an average guy and slathered him with an extra $500K, his lady wouldn’t mind, right? And who could blame her? More money is better than less.

If that same guy suddenly looked like Jason Momoa, he’s more attractive still. Why not?

So the hallmarks of traditional masculinity (provide=money, protect=muscles) still matter. They’re hardwired into our neurobiology. They influence how women perceive men. And much of that falls under the heading of “confidence.”

The male partner’s communication skills can help sustain relationships. But confidence kicks things off. It belies the provision/protection aspects of traditional masculinity — and sparks attraction.

Money is an important part of life. And you can’t caulk it up to greed, exactly. It’s just how it is. If you came across a $20 bill lying in the street, how would you react?

So… now women have their own money, they have the independence of that boxed wine, and they don’t need to scurry into a relationship for financial stability with a man who will probably lack the ability to treat them well. So they wait.

Dating Riddle:

  1. Two empathic guys have equal communication skills. However, the dude with more confidence and money gets the girl — every time. Why wouldn’t he?
  2. Two guys have equal confidence, money, looks, etc. — but one of them lacks empathy. They’re equally likely to find a partner. The latter man cannot sustain a relationship.
  3. A fifth guy is doing a pretty good job of being alive.
    He has average confidence, average looks, and some financial stability. Despite his 100% acceptable communication skills, he will struggle to entice the CFO to get off her couch.
  4. That’s life.

The opposite of the retrograde Jordan Peterson bullshit is asking women to decouple money from masculinity. This is an incredibly tall ask. It’s unlikely to happen. But it’s what Adichie prescribes in her book: she says we must stop associating masculinity with financial productivity.

If earning power is equal, according to Adichie, we need to stop judging men by how much they earn.

It’s hard to do that when finding a $20 bill on the ground is such an undeniable value-add. (Doing the dishes is a lovely value-add too.)

Maybe I need a wrapped BMW that advertises my availability for housework. Maybe it should explain that I make a good souffle. Maybe the wrapped BMW should say I love cats and depict me cuddling a kitten.

All this is true… but would it work with my 2011 Subaru Outback?

Your move ladies.

#6: Old vultures. New tricks.

I remember my ornithologist friend (bird-scientist-guy) looking up at some vultures circling above us. They wobbled as they flew. Unlike the sparrows that darted around the river, the vultures were awkward.

He said, “flight is relatively new for vultures — maybe give them another 100,000 years (of evolution).”

So women, brace yourself for disappointment…

  • If you’re expecting our limbic systems to match your emotional-processing capability…
  • If you want us to hold down a conversation in the same way your female friends do…
  • If you think we can flawlessly know and communicate what we feel…
  • Or if you expect that massive bang of oxytocin anywhere but in the bedroom…


You’re going to have to wait.

Not 100,000 years, but maybe a decade?

It sucks. I know.

I personally value connection more than anything else in life. There’s really not much else to do here on Earth but drink coffee with your friends and talk. I think all of our goals boil down to a desire for love and connection. At least that’s what I believe.

But I’m still wired to protect/provide/procreate. I’m prone to hope, fear, pride, and protective anger. I’m not as good as you. But I’m evolving as quickly as I can.

As men, we struggle with subtractive behavioral requests. And all those requests are always fair: Don’t touch. Don’t pay me less. Don’t deny me any of the rights afforded to men.

But when you throw in additive behavioral requests — things like emotive communication, vulnerability, and nurturance — the results will be mixed.

Here’s why:

It’s easier to understand stopping an action than to learn a new skill we can’t define.

Half the time, we don’t even know what you mean when you talk about emotional honesty. There’s no example to follow — at least not one we can easily understand. But we’re learning.

The double-bind for men is this: additive behavioral requests are the benchmark for relationships. Sure, we can be honest, dependable, and trustworthy. But the new skill set of emotional communication is tough.

What’s more, a lot of guys don’t see the benefit of vulnerable communication. And it threatens them. It’s asking them to step one foot into woman mode (at least in the traditional, caveman conception of gender), and that threatens our confused sense of masculinity.

Asking men to treat you equally to other men is one thing. But beware: they might end up treating you like other men — that is, without the emotionally informed communication that you request.

For the time being, women might do well to “settle” for honesty, kindness, dependability, etc.

Again, it feels like we’re stuck — but what can we do differently?

#7: Sand through the hourglass

As for what men want, it’s sexual beauty. We want the hourglass.

For us, it’s good looks — 7 days a week — until the day we die. We’re simpletons, and I’m sorry.

There are other things we want too, of course, but this is the overwhelming common denominator. This is the deep kick.

Anthropologists are shocked to find men want the same things across all cultures (because that’s usually not how culture works — or anthropology.) We want “large eyes, good teeth, lustrous hair, full lips, a small jaw, and a low hip-to-waist ratio.”

We want fertility — and we can be sexually productive until our 70s.

Coupled with our marketing-imposed expectations that we can have it all — the girl, the car, the fame, etc. — men feel disappointed. Our standards are Hollywood-sexy. Our reality is… reality.

We can find a partner, but she’s a 4 on the 10-point rating scale of objectification — not a 10.

Then we start in with feeling not good enough because we couldn’t win the McMansion, the woman, the accolades, the Big Money, etc.

We feel like we’re not “man enough” because we’re not “living the dream.” Actually, we’re doing fine. We’re keeping the bills paid, enjoying our lives, and — hopefully — serving the world in a meaningful way.

Those are the components of happiness, and most of us can find them within easy reach — but we’re hung up on physical beauty. If we could somehow let that go — in contradiction to our neurobiology — we could probably find a partner we’d feel excited about.

Connection matters. Contentment matters. And if gender is a neurological stumbling block to connection, we have to play it like a game rather than a live-or-die trial.

We must take off the masks of gender and “see” our partners. We need to recognize that gender isn’t the foundation of our existence. Rather, we have more in common than not and spiritual experience unfolding that makes nonsense of our small problems.

I like to think that she’s wearing the tits this lifetime. I’m stuck with the testicles and testosterone. So it goes.

When we recognize our partners in this way — in a manner that transcends gender — it creates a deeper connection. Gender becomes a fun game of opening car doors, ecstatic dance, or however else you want to pair your sexual biology with your identity.

I hope we can love each other more. I think it’s possible.

Let’s embrace gender and transcend it— simultaneously.

This post was previously published on


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