January 11, 2022

This is MUST READ for Single Men! When the women in our "Love In Later Years" Facebook group were asked, "What are the words or behaviors that 'scare you off' about men?," 41+ women responded and this is a summary of what they said. We hope a lot of the men followed what the women said in their comments about what scares or turns them off. Here are a few of the more common themes in the comments:

1. Deception. Several women have apparently had traumatic experiences with men who lie to them. Guys, I know sometimes it is tempting to say things that aren't true to look better to your partner or to avoid her criticism. I got the message from some of the comments that this makes women feel unsafe. Why wouldn't it?

2. Confidence. Several women said they want men to be confident. They don't like them to seem needy. They also don't want them to be pushy or controlling. The sense I get from these comments is that they want men to strike a balance between being confident and being humble. On one extreme you have neediness and on the other you have pushy and controlling. They want you to strike a balance between them.

3. Smell. I was surprised by how often this came up. I think, perhaps, this is as big an issue for women as visual appearance is for men. The women who commented suggested that body odor is a huge turnoff. There are actually studies showing that women have a stronger sense of smell than men. It is also true that men have a propensity to sweat that is many times greater than women. So that creates a perfect storm for being repellent. Use deodorant and reapply it throughout the day. Cologne can be helpful, but be sensitive to the fact that some people have sensitivities to fragrances.

4. Negativity toward former partners. This was actually a common theme for both men and women. It seems so commonly known that the behavior ought to be less common. Why isn't it? I think because we need to process trauma, and when we are with another person who has been through something similar it is natural to want to talk about it. I think it's important to keep it light and fun the first few dates and, when you do talk about it eventually, do it in a more enlightened way. Don't use dating partners as your therapists. Too much negativity toward a former spouse indicates to both men and women that you haven't moved on. Move on.

5. Being rude or impatient. Men are typically bigger and stronger than women. I get the impression that they don't want men to be forceful or intimidating toward them. They will get clues about your temperament by seeing how you treat the wait staff at restaurants, whether you exhibit road rage, and how you generally talk to other people when frustrations arise. Men sometimes confuse rage with a show of strength. There is a difference between strength and aggression. Women are uniquely sensitive to aggressive behavior.

6. Financial irresponsibility. A few different women said that they could support themselves but they didn't want to support a husband too. They were worried about dating men whose finances were in disarray or who didn't have an established career. They emphasize that he doesn't need to be wealthy and they aren't looking for the bigger, better deal. They just want someone who isn't going to cause them undue financial stress and worry.

7. Addiction. Three or four women mentioned this as a red flag. I don't think they are talking about your daily Diet Coke. I think they are talking about pornography in most cases. If you have this problem, don't complain that no one will give you a chance. Get to work on the problem first and do the work. It will help your sexual relationship after you are married.

8. Complacency and lack of attention to growth. A couple of women mentioned this, without a lot of explanation. I take from it that, at least some, put a premium on being married to someone who is intentional about self-improvement. In my experience, they can tell whether you are doing it for yourself or if you are a convert to it to get somewhere in the relationship.

We encourage the men in our Love In Later Years group on Facebook to study the women's comments in greater depth. I only summarize the concerns that were mentioned multiple times. There may be a point raised by a single comment that you might find particularly helpful. There are also details and tone that you can gather--upon which I tried to remain neutral.

On the whole, I think the women did a great job of articulating their concerns in a constructive way. I also thought they were very respectful of the men's comments as they commented on my summary. I hope the men will do likewise. Feel free to comment on this thread.

Thanks to all the women who participated in answering the question. I think it will give men a lot to think about.
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