Thought Catalog
October 22, 2015

Guys, Here’s What It’s Actually Like To Be A Woman

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Written with Geoffrey Miller. This story is an exclusive chapter excerpt from MATE: Become the Man Women Want.

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. — Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird


Daniella Urdinlaiz
Daniella Urdinlaiz

You have no fucking idea what you’re doing.

Not when it comes to sex and dating and women, anyway. Don’t beat yourself up about it though, because it’s not your fault. Your culture has failed you and the women you’re trying to meet.

We have been working with young single men in our capacities as educators, public figures, and authors for more than thirty years. In that time, the most common question we’ve gotten from guys centers around how to increase their confidence with women.

But there’s a much deeper problem: At least 70 percent of their questions reveal a total failure to understand the woman’s point of view.

Why does this matter? As a man, it is impossible to be better at mating until you understand the subjective experience of a woman, because it is fundamentally different than yours in many ways. If you can account for those differences, you will be well on your way to increased success because most men spend zero time thinking about this.

The differences start from the very beginning, at our deepest primal levels.

When a man interacts with a woman, his greatest fear is sexual rejection and humiliation. This causes him to spend as much time and energy (if not more) on defensive strategies to protect against rejection as he does on mating strategies to attract women.

Women are totally different. In these interactions, they are not much afraid of rejection. Rather, when a woman interacts with a man, she is afraid of being physically harmed or sexually assaulted.

Right now you’re probably thinking the same thing we did when we first learned about this when we were young men: I’ve never hurt a woman in my life and never would.

And we bet you’re right. You are probably perfectly safe.

“Where it gets problematic is when you don’t get the picture and she has to tell you, because women don’t like having to reject men explicitly. There is a deep evolutionary logic to this preference, and it has a lot to do with minimizing the very real risks they face from publicly humiliating their suitors.”

But SHE doesn’t know that: when she meets you, you could be Jack Ryan, Jack Sparrow, or Jack the Ripper. Any one of those is equally likely. Even more terrifying is the fact that, over the course of her life, the biggest threat to her is men she knows. This is not some idle, irrelevant statistic. The overwhelming majority of women that suffer physical or sexual assault suffer it at the hands of a man they know intimately.

And their fears don’t stop at physical harm; they are just as vulnerable to social and emotional harm as well. Socially, you can spread lies about her or damage her reputation (with men and women), sometimes just by being associated with her. You can pretend you love her, get her pregnant, and then abandon her. This is only the beginning of the harms she potentially faces at your hands.

We cannot emphasize this enough: Mating success requires cross-sex insight. You need to understand how women evaluate your qualities and how they perceive the status, danger, opportunities, and threats that you could present. The better you learn to see these things from women’s points of view, the less unattractive you will be to them and the less confused, resentful, and frustrated you will be by how they respond to you.

We’re not suggesting you have to become a gender psychologist or feminize your whole worldview. You are a man, and women like men; turning into a woman would make you less attractive to (most) women.

We’re telling you to simply understand women. And this is for the simple reason that understanding the female perspective helps you do much better with women, whatever your goal—whether it’s a one-night stand, a friend with benefits, a girlfriend, or a wife. It will help you avoid and resolve arguments, saving you hours of grief. It will help you have better dates, cooler conversations, and hotter sex. It will help you to stop acting like a self-sabotaging dick. And it will also help your relationships with your mom, sisters, daughters, female friends, and coworkers.

To be clear: the insights in this chapter are not a collection of opinions and moralizing lessons. They are based on the best, current scientific knowledge that we have about women’s psychology and sex differences. We’ll also focus on women’s vulnerabilities, concerns, and anxieties that you might not have considered before, because these are the aspects of the female experience that have long stood between men and a greater understanding of—and success with—women.