Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What should every woman know about men? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.
For heterosexual men, dating involves processing an overwhelming amount of rejection.
I’m currently in possibly the worst emotional condition of my life thus far. A month out of both a relationship and a job, both of which I had very big hopes for, I’m neck-deep and immobile in the wreckage of my broken dreams as I attempt to survive the first weeks of a new job. Yet every woman who is close to me, both inside and outside of my family, has come out of the woodwork in full force, telling me how I should change my appearance to be more attractive, pushing me to get active in dating, trying to set me up with their single friends.
This is incredibly hurtful.
I think they mean well by this. They see these actions as me investing in myself and inviting some exciting new positive attention that will cheer me up. This is not at all how it works. A man can expect to get shot down immediately about 90% of the time when he approaches a woman with interest. That’s an order of magnitude, 10 dB of attenuation. Over a few months, he’ll write 60 nice paragraph-length messages on a dumb dating website to women he’s genuinely interested in and get about 54 cold shoulders.
The remaining six will go a little bit further, leading him to invest more, but ultimately fail too. (One memorable case was the young woman with whom I’d gone on three dates who ghosted me as I went in for major surgery after an accident.) He’ll work up the courage to go up to a young woman he likes in real life and ask her out and watch her uncomfortably dodge like so many women before, now feeling bad for his hopes being dashed, feeling guilty for having made her uncomfortable, and worrying about how he’ll smooth over the awkwardness to return to baseline civilian proceedings.
It’s telling that the last time I hit rock bottom was not right after my last big breakup but about six months later; so much rejection when you’re already down is extremely corrosive. Telling a man to start dating is telling him to take scary emotional risks and get iced, over and over and over and over.
Part of the reason I think this answer is on topic is because not one man close to me has offered this kind of advice. They know.
So for the sad newly single man in your life, what can you do instead? You can engage him on his interests, possibly hook him up with some resources to move forward with a hobby he enjoys, possibly accompany him on an activity he likes. If you must nag, push him to do his dishes, start exercising again, and eat something besides fast food and take-out. Help him feel not dead again. One day, his self-esteem will again be in great condition, and he’ll run the gauntlet once again under the power of his own testosterone. He’ll do it on his own and when he’s damn well ready.