I first saw this book on a stand in a Barnes in Noble on my way to the real (i.e. clothing) stores. I literally stopped in my tracks, walked backwards and read the back cover. I thought I already knew everything and the book would just confirm that so I put it back down. A month later I bought it thinking it would be a somewhat juicy, voyeuristic inside look into what it was like to, well, be a man.
Because knowledge is power.
When I started this blog, I was frustrated with some of the ways men tried to get and hold my attention. I really thought they were from another planet with different needs. Superficial needs, like a sammich, some sex and time alone
which is why I didn’t take their needs that seriously. After blogging and reading lots of Pick-up Artist blogs and a few dating blogs from men, I got to see their side of things and it opened my eyes.
But “The Men on My Couch” took it to a whole new level. Here’s the set up (quoted from the back cover of the book):
“When Dr. Brandy Engler opened her sex therapy practice for women in Manhattan, she got a big surprise. Most of the calls were from men. They wanted to talk about womanizing, porn addiction, impotence, prostitutes—and most of all, love.”
The book itself is candid and straight forward. It’s based on true stories. The chapters are divided by each patient and what she learns from those sessions. Dr. Engler also includes what’s going on in her own love life, and how these sessions change her thoughts and expectations about men and relationships.
I’m not gonna go through the whole book and all the sessions here. There were just a few points that never occurred to me and has helped changed my perspective. These are not things the author dwells on, in fact some of these things were just a sentence or a paragraph or two. I’m gonna discuss what the author points out with my own thoughts mixed in.
One: Who Benefits Most from The Sex Industry
We always hear how exploitive the sex industry is of women, but never how it also exploits men. So no, men aren’t the ones that benefit the most, BIG BUSINESS does. We forget that it’s a corporate institution trying to get their money and attention. The sex industry takes advantage of men’s vulnerabilities and insecurities in connecting with women. It’s selling instant gratification that doesn’t really help them in the long run,
kinda like fast food. And it’s a billion dollar business.
The genius of it is that it’s not going to be talked about by it’s consumers. And if it’s kept under the rug, it’s never gonna be dealt with, and they will always get their money. There’s a reason why tricking is the oldest profession there is, because it’s the oldest, consistent market out there; men who want to be with women. Now that’s a secure industry! Funny how men complain about spending money on women, are concerned about women taking their money or taking advantage of them, but never think twice about the cash they throw at the sex industry.
What I also found interesting was how the book mentions that the readily accessible video porn is shaping boys sexuality and turn-ons. Porn uses a lot of sexuality based on power and anger to get attention, and sells the idea that that’s the only sex that is gratifying or interesting. This may or may not be true, depending on the individual, but how would he know if he relies only on the digital sex industry to dictate what sex means, and how it’s supposed to be?
Two: Society Generalizes Masculinity and Femininity
Speaking of media messages, it generalizes what it means to be a woman and a man in order to sell just about anything. It sets a standard. I’ve always been aware of this on the female end, but the book illuminated to me how it does the same for men and how limiting it is.
Men are told and encouraged to be sexual. Their masculinity is to be found through sex. They are not to pay attention to their feelings or indulge them, so they must swallow quite a bit. Feelings are something that they have to hide and deal with on their own somehow. So, many try to resolve and satisfy their emotional needs through sex, which isn’t always the answer. But what else are they gonna do, talk to their friends?! That’s not always an option for men.
The disconnect between what society tells women what great intimacy is versus what it tells men, is really hilarious. Men should be sexual but women should be thinking about flowers and romance??!!! Men have the greenlight to be sexual and women have the greenlight to be emotional and materialistic. We all know that women are sexual too, but it’s looked down on for us to admit it, just like it is for men to admit that they are emotional beings. No wonder relationships can be so confusing!
On a side note, this explains why men get so irate (I mean really, really angry!) about romantic comedies. I’ve heard many men complain about how unrealistic it is. They hate that there are women out there that buy into it and will be holding them to that standard. (I just always got pissed that they were rarely ever funny).
Three: The Riddle of the Sluts
I’ve always thought that men have a love-hate relationship with women that are easy to get into bed. On one hand, it’s instant gratification, they feel empowered and desirable. So then why the hate? The book mentions that it scares men that women are out there just having sex with anyone and not thinking it’s special. Because that means that they aren’t special. They need sluts to get laid and feel good about themselves for one night, but then get angry that women are capable of not treating it like it’s something more. Men really DO prefer women that hold a standard, because if they do get in there, they feel more special. I always thought that they just liked the work, but it also makes them feel like the lucky few that got to that intimate place with you and that it means something. And that’s why I think men judge a woman’s whole character by how easy she is. Fair? Probably not. But it’s a shortcut for men to decide how much the girl will value the relationship, and more importantly, him.
Four: Alpha’s vs Beta’s, The Vicious Dating Cycle
There’s really no competition. Seriously, women ideally want neither of these options. In real life, and in the book, I’ve noticed how women will get sick of the Beta’s and run to the Alpha, then get sick of the Alpha’s and run to a Beta. The man that can balance the two is the man we ideally want. Stay with me here.
In the book, the nice guys did get cheated on. But it’s more complicated than him just being too nice. On the contrary, most girls who date nice guys date them because they are nice. The bad news is that they may just be with him because he is safe and will feed her ego, and not for who he is.
For example, in the book the women these Beta’s were with were attractive and knew it. One of the girls even says that she was sick of the Alpha’s which was why she was with the nice guy. The women liked the security and felt desired and appreciated for giving these nice guys the time of day. The problem comes when, for whatever reason, the pretty girl doesn’t feel secure or fawned over. If the nice guy is too busy, or insecure, or going through something related to her or not, then she starts feeling insecure about her desirability. And who do you think is gonna show her that? The Alpha gives her ego that shot of desirability she was missing.
And what about the fire that is lost with Beta’s? It’s both parties fault, not just the guys. Usually it’s because one or both parties aren’t in touch with what they really want in a relationship or their sexuality. So when the relationship turns to routine and neither know what to do, guess who starts looking attractive again? The Alpha. Instead of developing her own sexuality and desires in bed and out, that aggressive, flirty guy looks like a good solution. You don’t have to worry about what you want and need as a woman with an Alpha, he’s just gonna decide that for you, usually based on whatever he wants. It’s an easy band aid.
And if the Beta doesn’t develop what he truly wants and needs out of a relationship, and then starts going through the motions or doing whatever she wants, she WILL get bored. Then it’s on her to use that easy band aid, or figure out how to get the fire between her and her nice guy up again. Guess which one most women (who have a lot of choices) will pick?
I thought it was interesting that the Alpha’s in this book that were married, married dominant, Alpha women, and then cheated on them with more submissive women. And their main relationship wasn’t any better than the Betas’. The Alpha men were just as unfulfilled and afraid of losing their partner (if they got caught). The main difference between Alpha’s and Beta’s is that when there’s a bump in the road, the Alpha’s will be the cheaters and Beta’s will be cheated on. But both types feed women’s ego but in a different way. And in both cases, nobody’s happy.
This book does make you think about what you really want from a relationship and sex, and how you go about it, whether you’re a male or female. And I realized, holy shit, men and women really do want the same things in relationships: to be known, and to be respected and loved for it.
Any man who is curious that they might find themselves in these pages or has troubles with relationships with women (connecting, not the getting laid part), should check this book out. For any woman who has thought WTF? when it comes to men, or had been cheated on or in a bad relationship, I definitely recommend picking up this book to see how the other half functions,
or at least tries to. I honestly bought this book so that I could judge, but this book taught me how not to. No gaurantees that I’ll stop though.