Read My Mind

What Does it Mean to Set the Tone and Take the Lead?

by Dr. Robert Glover on May 16th, 2013.     31 comments

set-tone-blog-mainTypically, when I talk with men about setting the tone and taking the lead, they hear: “Be controlling.”

The concept of “leading” is frightening, because most of the men with whom I work are Nice Guys who have spent their lives trying to be different from the controlling men they have heard women complain about. Initially, it is difficult to understand how setting the tone and taking the lead is not controlling or self-centered. Perhaps even more significantly, it’s difficult to understand why women like it.

Here is the one thing I claim to know for sure about women: by nature, they are Security-Seeking Creatures. Whenever I make this statement, I expect a bolt of pink lightening from the heavens to strike me down.

I grew up in the 60’s and heard all the feminist rhetoric about the “patriarchy” – the evils of men –  and how “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” (The woman who said that later married a very wealthy man.)

In spite of all the ways women have gained equality and economic opportunity, in general, most still don’t feel safe walking the planet. Women have always been physically vulnerable. Frequently, they are dominated sexually. Childbirth puts them at risk, and raising children makes them dependent. Simply giving a woman equal pay for equal work doesn’t undo hundreds of thousands of years of evolutionary programming.

Maureen Dowd, a feminist and columnist for the New York Times, put it this way: “Women are physically vulnerable and hormonally complex.”

Women feel best when they feel secure. Historically, women turned to the tribe for physical and emotional security. Most women can adequately take care of their basic needs in modern society, but because their primary evolutionary drive is to feel safe, they naturally turn to a man to be their primary emotional security system. Mother Nature programmed them this way.

When a man is anxious, avoidant, passive, unpredictable, dishonest, or pleasing, a woman feels unsafe.

When a woman feels insecure or unsafe with a man, she will usually do one of two things:

  • Try to get him to become more conscious of what he is doing that makes her feel so unsafe (in ways that are often perceived as nagging and criticism by the man).

  • Take control herself.

I often joke that I learned most of what I know about relationships from dog obedience school and salsa class. I truly believe that enrolling my Weimaraner in obedience classes, and taking salsa lessons myself for a few years, taught me more about how to create healthy relationships than did my Ph.D. in marriage and family therapy!

So what did I learn from dog obedience school and salsa classes that helped me understand what women want from a man in a relationship? Several things.

We humans aren’t much different than our canine relatives. We feel safest when hierarchies are clear and when our leaders lead with integrity and consistency. This is especially true in intimate relationships.

A security-seeking creature is going to feel safest when her “security system” consistently sets the tone and takes the lead with love and integrity. When she feels safe, she is happy. She’ll also have to test every now and then to make sure she can still depend on her security system.

From salsa classes, I learned to lead in a way that makes a woman look and feel good. To do this, I have to communicate clearly and consistently. I have to create a positive tension that challenges her but doesn’t push her beyond her limits.

I learned that, while dancing, a good lead has to think at least three steps ahead. One teacher would frequently interrupt the class to remind the guys that it was their job to keep it interesting for their partners. He would warn that if the guy waits until he finishes his last move to think about his next, he will just keep doing the same thing over and over. He would remind us that a woman gets bored quickly and will find another partner. Women call the tendency to play it safe on the dance floor “the white guy shuffle.”

I remember a couple of weeks into a beginning salsa class when the teacher told the follows to close their eyes while their leads led. She encouraged the leads to lead clearly so the follows would know where they were going. I remember watching the look of bliss on my partner’s face as I led her around the dance floor. The more clearly and firmly I led, the deeper her bliss.
To this day, a partner’s greatest compliment is that I’m a “firm lead.”


A few extra tidbits:

  • A woman can’t follow where a man doesn’t lead.

  • You are not controlling a woman when you lead; you are merely giving her a choice.

  • Women hate it when you ask, “What do you want to do tonight?”

  • Women get this stuff; it’s the guys who have a hard time with it.

Learn how to consciously set the tone and take the lead:All The Way In: Relationship Essentials for Men

Topics: Confidence Relationships


JohnMcG says ...
This article does not say how to do this; it merely asserts the need to do it and that it is different from "controlling."

The dancing parallel is particularly unhelpful because in this situation, the man has been given explicit approval to lead and direct the action, whereas this is not the case in real-world situations. The rules of the dance is that the followers go where I lead. There is no differentiation between leading and controlling, because the follower has given her consent to allow the leader to choose. A husband cannot simply, for example, enroll his children in the school of his choice and expect his wife to follow his lead.

More helpful would be a description of a real-world situation, along with an illustration of passive, controlling, and "leading" responses.

As it is, I leave this article with no better idea of what differentiates leadership from controlling than when I started.
PaulS says ...
I understand your confusion, yet the answer is difficult as I believe it will look different in each relationship. I can maybe shed some light on this by describing how I have used these suggestions.
Ex: Wife/girlfriend says, "we never go out anymore. All we do is sit at home." Standard guy response: "We went out last Tuesday." FAIL. Leading response: "Oh I know, why don't I take you to that Italian place you really liked ... we haven't been there in a while. How about tomorrow night? I'll call ahead and make a reservation for us." This is an *invitation* not an order, and the woman can say yes/no or offer an alternate plan. However, you have listened to her concern, come up with a solution *that has her interests in mind* and offered a plan of action. All she has to do is say yes. Contrast this with "sigh ... I don't know where do you want to go? what do you want to do tonight?" Now instead of showing her a good time, you've given her another task to do (plan and execute plan).
Also I would beg to differ about one other thing -- I don't agree that consent is automatically given in dance. I have danced with some follows who totally led from that position (or "fought" me). Furthermore, I think when a woman enters a marriage/relationship she is consenting to being led -- she wouldn't date you if she didn't want you to take an active part in the relationship. To me "leading" = taking an ACTIVE role in the relationship, serving the goals of both people in the relationship and "controlling" = getting the other person to do what I want and who cares what they want.
Note that this is not supposed to be a different style of caretaking or "giving to get" -- you're supposed to be suggesting things that *you* would honestly like to do with her.
D says ...
Thanks for that PaulS. Sometimes we need to put in a little, or a LOT of work to get the results that we want
Brian says ...
Great post Doc!

Very good explanation by Paul S.

I can't wait to listen to the webinar.

Steve Horsmon says ...
"Women get this stuff; it’s the guys who have a hard time with it."

Robert is so right about this. Of course, there are some women who will argue against that premise there whole life. They can't stand men who act like men. They also complain there are no good men left. Avoid these women. They are intimidated and angered by a man who shows confidence, value based living, kindness, ability to invite, inability to be offended, and leadership.

Passive: "What do you want to do tonight, sweetie?"

Controlling: "I've got friends coming over tonight for the game and you need to make food for us."

Leading: "I made reservations for XYZ that you mentioned last week for Saturday at 7pm. It's going to be fun. Why don't you wear that killer skirt you bought last week? You look awesome in - and out of it!"

The latter shows pre-planning, taking responsibility, attentiveness to her desires, and unapologetic sexuality.

If she declines, so what. Her loss. Some women need practice at appreciating and accepting our lead because of controlling and distrustful baggage they are carrying. We can lead them to trust by not getting rattled every time they reject an invitation. Just move on and invite again sometime at your discretion.


JohnMcG says ...
There are some stumbling blocks I have with Dr. Glover's work that are illustrated in this post.

One is that I feel like I'm trading one set of masters for another. Lines like, "Women get this stuff; it’s the guys who have a hard time with it" seem to feed the notion that guys are generally clueless about this relationship stuff, and need someone to tell us what to do. Some of us let the women in our lives do this, which led to trouble. So now we need to do what Dr. Glover says. I feel like I'm still being manipulated, just by a different person.

Another is this, "Women hate it when you ask, “What do you want to do tonight?”" Hmm, I thought we weren't supposed to build our lives around pleasing women. What if *I* hate being asked that question. Is that allowed? Or do I just need to build my life around avoiding doing things that women hate, and forming myself into that?

Finally, is the one-size fits all. If all women were like following dance partners, and saw their relationships that way, this would be great. But no, I don't think many women enter into relationships hoping for someone to lead while they blissfully follow. They may harbor fantasies about it, or enjoy it for a romantic evening or weekend getaway. But for the nitty gritty problems of life -- children, careers, money, housework -- I think the women who want to blissfully fdllow a man's lead are few and far between.
Super Coupe Nut says ...
John, you said "I feel like I'm still being manipulated, just by a different person" so...what seems right for YOU to do other than the suggestions here?

I can attest that women hate being asked "What do you want to tonight" because they don't like to lead; it's not their nature. There is a lot of "stuff" from the media thrown at us about equality and while it is important that you should not treat someone different because of his or her gender, it is also important to recognize the differences that occur naturally BECAUSE of gender.

One size certainly does not fit all, however, there are some general guidelines that can help you understand if the women you date fit into what YOU want. Something I have discovered in my journey is that most men do not realize that THEY are responsible for the condition of their relationship. When you take an active, leading role in your relationship, you discover quickly if the woman you are with desires to be your partner OR if she is just looking for someone to "take care of her."

It's not about being a bully or controlling everything; a leader doesn't make you follow him - he inspires you to follow him and that is VERY attractive to women.

Stay well bro!
Steve Horsmon says ...
Excellent, Super Coupe Nut. The last line especially!

We invite people to join us in our values and the way we want to live our life and relationships. They have the choice. That's leadership. When done from a place of love, appreciation, and respect, it feels perfect for both.

I believe that taking responsibility, showing attentiveness to her desires, being unapologetically sexual, and sticking to my values is the easiest way to live my life. Those are MY conditions - nobody else's. Each of us needs to define our conditions for ourselves.
Jackson says ...
Where I have always struggled here is in the pleasing part. Why wouldn't anybody want to be pleased? How could that possibly make someone feel unsafe or be a turnoff? It was nothing short of baffling.

I tell myself that I am applying the Golden rule, treating her as I would like to be treated, with freedom and respect for her preferences by giving her options. And I don't have to dig very far into my own psychohistory to know where those values come from. My own parents were very controlling and narrowminded about my career choices. It was a very conditional kind of love and approval. And without saying so, the implications of that narrow choice also narrowed my life and my freedom in a lot of other ways. So I am offering the woman what I myself wanted to have: freedom and respect for my own choices and preferences.

But the problem is, by constantly asking "what do you want to do?", or any variation thereon, the clear and consistent message you send is that you yourself have no preferences, no agenda, no desires, other than pleasing her. That means that you're empty, that you have nothing to offer, and in that case, how can you possibly lead? Even if it doesn't make her feel unsafe, perhaps you can see how it might make you pretty uninteresting.

Just as you want to please her by participating in her preferences, does it ever occur to you that she might want to please you by participating in yours? If you don't have some common interests, what are you doing together? And even if your interests are new or different to her, that in and of itself might be part of what makes you interesting to her, and engaging in those interests with you is an excellent way of getting to know you and building a relationship. But because you don't value yourself, or your interests, (in my case because my parents were dismissive, even contemptuous, of anything that didn't fit their image of who I should be) you don't express them because you expect them to similarly be devalued and therefore it's unsafe for you.

So, if you are so busy protecting yourself, how on earth are you going to protect her? And don't kid yourself, she can sense that even if you never say it in so many words. She can sense it even if she can't say why or how herself. You've probably had that experience, where you meet somebody and get a "vibe" one way or another without it being expressly stated.

Let me give you another consequence of woman pleasing behavior: it doesn't turn off all women. In fact, it's very attractive to a certain kind of woman: the one who will dominate you, use you, and generally make your life miserable and yourself an object of pity and scorn by those who observe the two of you in action. And that can only make you even more unattractive to the women who are around and can see this train wreck unfolding. There are words for men like this; whipped, ring in the nose, and so on.

Sadly, as perhaps you can tell, I speak from experience. But at least I've learned.
PaulS says ...
Wow, I think this topic, more than any one other, really hits the "Nice Guy" thing right on the button.

For me the "pleasing" thing used to be what Dr. G calls a "covert contract." I would "be nice," but with the expectation that I was going to get X in return for being nice. This is not being nice, it's a passive-aggressive attempt at manipulation.
It is soooo much easier to just ask for what I want openly now. Furthermore, if I do some random "nice" thing for my partner now, she genuinely appreciates it because she knows it doesn't have strings attached (like it used to).

@JohnMcG: Dude, Dr. Glover is not about manipulating you. The whole point of all of this is: figure out what you want, and go get it, in a way that is congruent with who you really are/want to be. This is not some PUA bullshit of "gaming" people. It's about how to openly and honestly communicate your wants and needs to people.
You think women don't want to be led: have you tried??? The way some of us have been describing? I wonder.
First of all, a woman wants to be led by a man she trusts. You've got to earn that one. Secondly, I will grant you it's not always 100% -- a woman will sometimes want to take control of the relationship or of a particular situation. In my experience it is yet another "test" she has for me -- I think she wants to know that I will let her "drive" if she wants, and once she knows she has the option, she's pretty happy hand things back over. At the very least she wants to share/trade leadership. She wants to know she's with a guy she can hand the keys over to and the car (relationship) is not going to end up in the ditch. No woman I have ever met wants to be in charge of everything 100% of the time -- as one woman told me, "it's too much pressure, and it's too much work."
Before dismissing this stuff, I suggest you try it. I also suggest that you consider perhaps the way you "tried it" in the past was different than the way the men here are describing it to you now. The intentions behind the actions make a huge difference. I wish you the all the best in figuring this stuff out for yourself -- I know it's not easy.
David Hamilton | SocialExpression.NET says ...
So, so true about taking the lead. I love how you said you learned more in dog school and salsa class, than in university. I'm not surprised, because what's taught in uni is often all based on academic/head learning, and not experiential learning.

I also like to think about a "soft lead" and a "hard lead". Soft is done by keeping things moving forward, and making decisions, but in a mellow way. Hard lead is being more commanding in tone, sometimes demanding, but done in a playful way. She knows you are playing, but also likes that firmness of tone and cutting, penetrating energy.
bumfuzzled says ...
Read this post and the comments twice. Still don't get it, and doubt I ever will.
"Taking the lead" sounds to me like "doing all the work". I have to take all the risk, do all the planning and do all the paying. It also sounds like I have to be endlessly inventive and a mind-reader. Doesn't sound like much of a "deal" for me.
"Setting the tone" sounds to me like I enter a never ending cycle of escalating the "rewards". For example, if I get tickets to a concert, that's not enough. The next time I have to purchase front row center, etc. I'm not an entertainment ATM. The idea of "taking the lead" and "setting the tone" just feels dehumanizing and degrading and doesn't make me feel like I'm accepted for me.
EricP says ...
Spot on as always, Doc G, and thank you PaulS for your wisdom too. This topic always makes additional sense to me when interpreted through attachment styles. Roughly speaking, half the population is securely attached, the other half is insecurely attached. As Nice Guys, we have self-selected into the latter group (as do our women). Odds on, as Nice Guys, we are likely to be the avoidant partner and our GFs will be the anxious one. Doc G's concept of women as security-seeking creatures therefore has special relevance to us.

I always think of Doc G's main message as one of *self-leadership*. The word "leadership" often sounds like we are ordering people around, which is hard for Nice Guys to feel right about. But when we come from a place of self-leadership - which I think is really what we mean by all of this - we come to relationship with a healthy energy and attitude that creates trust for our partners.

I see my first job in relationship as one of creating trust. I do this by behaving like a securely-attached individual and creating daily consistency. Anxious partners were most likely disappointed and wounded by fathers who unwittingly started this pattern.

For example, my GF tells me she feels secure when I:

* keep my word
* let her know regularly that I am thinking of her
* tell and show her that I value her as my partner
* carry myself as a confident, integrated man in the world
* lift the burden of shared choices from her at least half the time

This last one doesn't come naturally to Nice Guys. The need is even more pressing for women with children, who already have to make hundreds of tiny decisions each day on their behalf. Rather than think of it as "leading", I find it personally helpful to think of it more as a host/guest thing. If you've ever hosted a function, you know how nice it is just to be a guest and not have all the hassle. Most importantly, a guest gets the benefit of surprise and enchantment, and I think this is the real pay-off for your woman. You aren't pulling off some 50s-style patriarchal bullsh*t. You are doing a little work to create a space where a little sparkle and magic can happen. And by a "little" work, I mean as little as as picking a restaurant by yourself and booking it.
JohnMcG says ...

You're not addressing the question, just asserting that if it's not working I'm doing it wrong or am basically untrustworthy.

Kind of like how communism works in theory, it just hasn't been implemented correctly yet.

Heads I win; tails you lose.

As I mentioned this "taking the lead" may work great for things like date nights and weekend getaways. Maybe Syliva really enjoyed having Don dominate her in that hotel room on Mad Men last week for a while. Maybe her Dr. husband was a Nice Guy who never did that for her.

But then realty sets in. Bills need to be paid, the children need to be taken care of, kids need to be raised. And here, the dance parallel falls, because, rightly or wrongly, most women don't want to submit to being led on these matters. And Sylvia declares the game over, and goes back to her Nice Guy doctor husband.


Another one of Dr. Glover's phrases I take issue with is "covert contracts." I prefer "implied reciprocity." There isn't anything sinister about caring for others with the implicit belief they would do the same for you.
EricP says ...
@John McG: "Taking the lead" definitely has a big impact for the domestics e.g. taking the trash out without being asked. My GF and I once had to pack up a hotel room quickly, and she frequently made mention of how much she appreciated the way I worked, how I was self-driven. What David Hamilton said about "soft leading" makes sense. One author called it being "leaderful" - a soft lead that is poised to become a hard lead as required.

I'm someone who has long had trouble with external authority. What you said about "trading one set of masters for another" gets to the point for me: this "taking the lead" stuff ends up being about internalising that authority.

About "covert contracts": Your term "implied reciprocity" kind of gets away from what DocG means. A covert contract is more about, "What are the rules of the game of Life?" I suspect that every human being operates with unspoken rules of some kind. For Nice Guys (and Nice Girls), these rules tend to show up really strongly in relationship, because we can give with the expectation of receiving immediately. It's "covert" because the other person doesn't even know that we are expecting them to act a certain way. We get healthier when we shine a spotlight on these covert expectations.
JohnA says ...
Hahaha. My previous comment with real life situation was deleted, because solution contradicts to what Dr.Glover teaches, so I put it another way.
Situation: dirty dishes are in a kitchen.
Woman: "We are equals, so if you want these dishes to be clean, do them." Man: "It's a woman's job." Woman: "I make 30% more money than you and it's a man's job, after you'll get more money we may talk about dishes."
Another variant: Woman: "You live in this house too, you do dishes today, I'll do it tomorrow." Man: "It's a woman's job." Woman: we can share this work or I will leave these dishes rot."
I would love to know what Dr.Glover suggest in such case, except dancing in kitchen of course.
scott says ...
Listened to the webinar today.. Put it into practice with my wife of 21 years... we got into a huge argument, she said she was done talking...then after about 10 minutes I said: " I'm going to the bedroom, you can join me of you like". The sex was amazing!
Elliott Katz says ...
Hi Robert
It's a great article. I get the same reaction when I talk to men about showing leadership -- that it's controlling. As I explained in my book "Being the Strong Man A Woman Wants" which you were kind enough to endorse: Showing leadership and being controlling are opposites. Leadership takes confidence. A controlling person is insecure. Being controlling is thinking about yourself. Leadership is thinking about the greater good of your family. It's knowing what's going and stepping forward to solve problems.
Many women tell me that if a man asks them out and has no plan to suggest for the date -- that is a strike against him.
Lyall says ...
I found this video with a bunch of women talking about how they love it when men set the tone and take the lead.

Great webinar too Dr Glover.
Lyall says ...

I saw some other videos from the same account and I just want to make it clear that I only linked the video below because the specific content was relevant and does not indicate I approve of any other video on that channel.
Igor says ...
Ok, but what if I lead for a while and then decide she is not the one I need? How to dump her?
Serge says ...
By leading her to the way out. ;)
Dear experts, please address simple life issue described below: a woman enjoys being taken on dates or in bedroom, but refuses to do house work. What can you suggest except using force or dumping her.
Tyler says ...
Having trouble wrapping your head around what "taking the lead" really means?

I look at it in these terms:

There is a difference between management and leadership.

Whereas management is all about handling the particulars of how to do what you are doing, leadership is about choosing which way to go, AND about accepting responsibility for the consequences of that choice.

A man who is capable of managing his life and his relationship, but hasn't taken the lead in his own life, will take the directive that he needs to "set the tone, and take the lead in relationship" as though he has been handed a set of instructions from the boss:

Okay, boss. I guess I have to figure out how to do this leading stuff, because you say its what I have to do. That's what works, right? Hmmm... What do leaders do? They tell other people what to do! That's it, I just need to tell my woman what to do, and I am a leader! What do leaders get? Their way! Alright, so I need to lead, and then I get my way! I like the benefits of this job! Okay... let me just calculate the optimal way to tell a woman to do what I want, so I can ensure that I don't fail. Maybe I'll copy what one of those successful guys I've read about online, is doing... Okay, I think I've got it figured out now. There, I've told her what to do. But wait, now she isn't cooperating with me. She isn't following my lead. I did all the moves right. What's going on?! I thought she was my soulmate, shouldn't this have been a guarantee?!

Or something along those lines...

I believe that before a man can truly take the lead in a relationship, he needs to take the lead with himself. Otherwise, how can he responsibly invite a woman to join him in where is going? How can he possibly know the difference between a woman who follows his lead simply because it is a means to meeting her own needs, and a woman who follows his lead, because she has actually committed to walking a compatible path? Because he is capable of leading her where she wants to go in relationship. AND also because he is capable of staying his own course, in the moments when their own life paths diverge for a time. (Which they will.)

In this context, a woman who has said yes to such a man, will feel secure in his presence, because she will know that he is inviting her to join him in his life because he actually wants her there, AND because in inviting her, he is upholding his integrity to himself and his deeper commitments in life.

A man who knows where he is taking himself, will be able to sit in the presence of even a woman whom he truly loves and is compatible with, on many levels, and still tell her "No," out of compassionate love, if their life paths are not supportive of each other. Because he knows that he would enjoy the goodies they can share with each other, but that the consequences would ultimately be disastrous to both of them.

True love is as much the willingness to say, "no." to someone, as it is the willingness to say, "yes." And only a man who is completely willing to embrace responsibility to take the lead in his own life, and accept the consequences of his decisions, will really know what this means.

I think that this scares the shit out of Nice guys, because the Nice Guy paradigm is basically a relationship management program that is largely built around pleasing others and not pissing them off, in order to get needs met. And the truth about leadership is that: all parties cannot be satisfied at all times, with the choices of the leader. Feelings are going to get hurt. People are going to get pissed off. Differences of opinion are going to happen. I.e. not everyone is going to like the leader. And nice guys think that they others need to like them, in order to get their needs met. Thus, they tend to let others take the lead and have their way rather than risk the consequences of leadership themselves.

OF course, a truly great leader also listens to those whom he is leading and what they want, and chooses the best direction forward he can. But he also knows how to stay the course, even when those he is leading don't agree with his vision up front. If he knows what he is doing, he will take them where they want to go anyhow. Or at the very least, he will set them free to follow their own directions. He is prepared to take responsibility for the consequences of his decisions.

Is this helpful?
JohnMcG says ...
I'm afraid the difference between leading and controlling boils down to this video:,d.cGE

For those who can't see the video, it's an SNL parody of a sexual harassment video. Fred Armisen approaches Amy Poehler, and is called in for harassment. Tom Brady does the same thing, even worse, and Amy swoons. The lesson: "Be handsome. Don't be unattractive."

It all seems like a big circle that comes back to shaming. If leadership isn't working, it must be because you're fundamentally not worthy of following.

Or maybe it's just that you didn't win the genetic lottery.

Slim says ...

I think that there is an element of truth in what you posted vis-a-vie good looks/sexual harassment. Let's say for the sake of argument that it is %100 true and that that accurately reflects reality. What are you going to do about it? Whine or do something? You can't change social realities, but you can change yourself.

Barring basic grooming issues, a man who can offer security to a woman will be good looking to a woman.

Think about it: there are a lot of physically imperfect guys (fat, skinny, short, balding) that women find attractive (Mick Jagger, Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, the list could go on).

And conversely there are a lot of physically good looking guys that women find creepy.

A well-groomed man who projects confidence is a good looking man to women, no matter what he looks like without his clothes on.

Men care more about what a woman looks like without her clothes on; but women care more about what a man looks like with his clothes on. The grooming and confident manner signal to a woman that he has life's basic needs taken care of and can offer her security.

Reminds me of that scene in the movie Tombstone. After Wyatt Earp pistol-whips the punk gambler. He ask the gambler, "Are you going to do something or stand there and bleed?"
Dennis says ...
This blog entry reminds me of a quote from Katharine Hepburn in the African Queen: "Human nature is what we have been put here to rise above."

Look, as a man, I have no problems asking a woman out on a date and then planning that date. I also like paying for the date, because, after all, I asked her out. It's a courtesy. I can be assertive and not be an emotional dormat.

But at some point, I would like the same treatment in return. I want an equal relationship. This idea that women are more comfortable being lead by men is a cop out. It keeps women from growing as people and developing their own independence. It's not evolutionally programming that is keeping them from occasionally taking the lead in a relationship. It's fear of rejection and fear of risk. It's a fear of getting out of their comfort zone and doing something for themselves, even if it's not "traditional." A psychologist shouldn't be encouraging self-limiting behavior and passivity in women.

I don't want a passive woman in my life who won't plan the occasional weekend getaway or surprise me on a date night with something that is new and interesting.

But I also know that I need to step up to the plate as well. I must do my part to make her feel special and feminine. Passivity is not a turn on.

I think there is a possibility for middle ground here rather than bringing out the "this is how evolution designed us" excuse. Yes, it's useful for understanding why so many women like being lead in relationships, but it doesn't mean that it is right. It doesn't mean that it is psychologically healthy. It doesn't mean that it leads to societal and personal growth. The point of evolution is to keep evolving.
Jon says ...
The article is about being more assertive. Assertive and controlling are not the same. Let's stop expecting others to give us answers for every specific scenario that we can think of. Let's stop over-thinking everything. Let's stop blaming others. Let's stop blaming genetics & evolutionary psychology. Let's stop blaming this article for not being clear enough. We're here for a reason. Let's live and learn. Let's be nice because we feel confident, and not because we don't want to feel afraid anymore. Let's live in the grey, which is scarier than living in the black and white world of our minds- a world that keeps us "nice," safe, passive, bored, unfulfilled, and hidden.

People dance because something moves them. Let's look for something to move us, and see where THAT leads.

Bill says ...
I seem to feel very differently about the harassment issue. It seems to me that:
An ugly man can check for signs of availability (wedding or engagement rings) just as well as a handsome man.
An ugly man can pay attention and see whether a woman appreciates being in his company just as well as a handsome man
An ugly man can make the conscious choice to only try to advance a relationship with a woman who appreciates his company just as well as a handsome man.

And finally should you do the first three right, an ugly man can request more companionship time with a woman just as well as a handsome man. Small steps. So how about being socially aware enough to not take too big of a step like saying, I think your hot lets jump in the sack.

I've never experienced, seen or heard of any man getting blamed for harassment when they are making a measured advance to receptive woman.
TS says ...
Women respect a man who asserts himself. Indecision and unwillingness to lead will cause a woman's suspicion of a man's motives. if you are all in you are willing to lead. You need a woman who wants and appreciates a leader and a driver. If you are with a woman that wants to be the masculine energy, find someone else.
Jessica says ...
Wow this was one of the more interesting piles of crap that I have read. You should be ashamed of yourself for taking advantage of men who have had difficulty in relationships. You clearly hate women and cannot deal with your own relationships so you have these poor men to make other women unhappy. You are a horrible human! How about you learn to respect women, have a decent honest relationship, and then start over?
Teri says ...
To Steve:
I’m assuming you were clear on your partner’s schedule before taking the leap and informing her that you made a dinner reservation at XYZ restaurant for such and such date and time.
I’m also assuming that you are clear on the fact that she actually wants to wear the dress that you are suggesting that she wears.
Taking the lead would look more like hey honey why don’t I make a reservation at XYZ restaurant would you like that when she says yes then you actually ask her what date and time works for her as well as for yourself.
In regards to her attire, a suggestion would sound like “I love it when you wear such and such dress it looks amazing on you.”
In this manner, you have communicated your desire and your wish while also giving her the option to follow suit or decline.
Learning to lead versus control is a work in progress and it is something that we all have to work at consistently and it’s also intentional.


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