The Men on My Couch: Book Review

Published November 2, 2013 by bossymoksie

MIND. BLOWN.

mind explosion

Actual depiction of my brain while reading this book.

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.

the men on my couch book review

“The Men on My Couch” book cover.

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).

porn vs rom coms

Conflicting dating messages from media

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.

In conclusion: 

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.

keanu meme

Men and women are from the same planet. Whoa.

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. 

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24 comments on “The Men on My Couch: Book Review

  • “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.”

    Such a great point. I’m a big critic of hypocrisy and double standards. In order to rise above this cult (or anti-cult) of the slut, it requires men to be able to feel validation and pride from things OTHER than sex. Which, as you mentioned, is very hard because the culture concentrates so much power in the vagina and forces millions of men to identify their manhood based on how much sex they can get. It’s no coincidence that the biggest haters of “sluts” are also those MOST obsessed with sex.

    In that way, the cultural norms around masculinity and sex are directly tied to the concept of the slut. They feed off of each other in a symbiotic relationship.

    • Wow. Great point! Men can’t get all this sex and prove their masculinity if it weren’t for sluts. They should be happy for them! Or at least acknowledge their function.
      But I also agree with you that men should find other ways to prove their manhood.
      Funnily, most girls give in easily because they really like the guy (or the idea of him, since they don’t know him too well) or they are really caught up in the moment. Even if they realize that it’s too soon, many are hoping that it will become something special, but men don’t take it this way.

  • 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.

    Write more on this.

    • What did you want me to elaborate on? Not sure exactly what your question on this?
      If an Alpha, or men in general, takes the lead in bed, then the woman doesn’t really have to figure out what she wants. Sometimes knowing how badly a guy wants you is enough to enjoy sex, no matter what the actual techniques are. Another point the book brought up was that a lot of women don’t feel entitled to feeling pleasure and getting what they want in sex, so most don’t bother trying to figure that out. Alpha’s are an easy out.

      • If an Alpha, or men in general, takes the lead in bed, then the woman doesn’t really have to figure out what she wants.

        What you’re saying is that women are just as ignorant and afraid of their sexuality, as most men are. The type of man that essentially ‘absolves’ a woman of her behaviour during sex, is the type of man that does not fear the consequences, legal or emotional, afterwards – he is willing to take risks.

        Not many men can … or will do so.

        It’s the escalation conundrum.

      • The doctor in this book wanted to become a sex therapist for women to help them discover their own sexuality. So yeah, many women are clueless (which is why many shit down sexually after marriage or long-term relationships). It’s her opinion from her research that women are actually more sexual than men, but are discouraged from expressing or exploring it.
        So it is set up for men to take those risks and escalate.

      • It’s her opinion from her research that women are actually more sexual than men, but are discouraged from expressing or exploring it.

        … but this opinion is not necessarily yours … why ?

      • I wrote it like that because I wanted to give her credit for her idea! Based on the research she presented in the book, I would agree with her, but I’d have to do my own research to really cosign 100%. What I do know, from observation, is that women are discouraged and looked down on (by other women, society in general, and men depending on their mood and relationship they have with the woman) to be sexual and men aren’t. Because of these social expectations, I think observation and experience alone wouldn’t be enough for me to determine who in reality is more sexual.

  • Victor addresses a bit of his (male) perspective on the Alpha male in his post
    http://boldanddetermined.com/2011/11/18/the-only-piece-of-advice-you-will-ever-need-to-pick-up-and-attract-women-and-keep-them-vying-for-your-love-attention-and-affection/. While some people may see his opinion as sexist and politically incorrect, he does seem to be justifying some of what is being said about the power of the Alpha-male in comparison to the Beta (ie nice guys finish last). The comments are interesting, also.

    • I’ll check it out. I do read a few Pick Up artist blogs so I am familiar with these point of views. I like that they are more honest and straightforward. And trust me, I get the appeal of the Alpha and I personally get why women are attracted to them.
      Thanks for commenting!

  • That’s pretty interesting, I read the book sometime ago, and had a lot of moments where I disagreed 🙂

    I think the slut thing will never go away, because it starts from the childhood and gets engraved into brain, the mother or the father will never want to see their kids being hurt in relationship and will always advice and insist to stay away from sexually free girls for serious relationships.

    Pretty sure I would do same if I had kid and needed to give him an advice on long term partner.

    So this is not likely to go away anytime soon or in the future.

    The alpha things too, I think even community doesn’t realize it, but alpha is a servant, he takes care of group or people, he provides them with vast amount of value and guidance and he takes decisions and their consequences on himself. In many ways one can say that alpha provides service and value to other people.

    • I agree with you about the Alpha. If Alpha’s are supposed to be leaders, true leaders take care of their followers (which would be his woman, and any children). But I think many guys think being an Alpha just means having power and entitlement. So there’s a mix there.
      I doubt the slut thing will go away either, but that dichotomy is interesting.
      Do you remember which moments you did not agree with? I’m curious because I usually agree with you a lot.

      • I also noticed we agree a lot, somehow a lot of what you saying resonates with my line of thinking 🙂

        I remember reading a book and thinking most of her clients really weak man and having that strong feeling that she looks down on them. I remember shaking my head and thinking it is biased, for example she will always blame a man for his cheating, but when it comes to women she just will shrug it like it is again a man fault because he did not give a woman what she needs emotionally.

        All in all there some very good insights in the book, but it did feel biased.

        That`s in short 🙂

      • Ha! There’s a semi-angry review on amazon.com that pointed out the same things! As a woman, I guess I was right there with her when she was judging these guys at first. But she confessed to being biased and explained her ‘pollyana’, unrealistic view of dating. She also admits later that she was struggling with overcoming that so she can do her job better. It didn’t bother me because she at least admitted her bias and where it came from. And she admits that it was a flaw of hers in the work that she was doing.The more the book went on, I thought she became less judgmental. I did anyway! And she talks about how these men changed her narrow views of romance and relationships.
        As for the women cheating, I just thought she didn’t dwell on it because the book was supposed to focus on the men. She did talk, a little, about why these women were straying and I read it as the women were just as liable for their unhappiness (and I mentioned it in my post, how they take the easy way out and run to the Alpha’s.) It was only a paragraph or two but again, I think she wanted to keep the focus on men. Although I agree that she seemed more upset with the men, and shared no feelings or reactions when it came to the women.
        And of course the men were weak, that’s why they came to her!

      • Just shows that if you man and want advice about dealing with women do not seek this advice from another women lol

        Girls like you who try to stay objective and see both sides are rare finds 🙂

        In this book it is just too close to her own life and she has hard time to stay objective. I just wonder being like that is her therapy helped those man or made their lives worse.

      • I try to be objective but I’m not always successful! Which may be why her bias didn’t bother me. That’s a good point about the correlation between her bias and how much she helped. The guys she judged the most, eventually left therapy, sometimes abruptly. The guys she felt the most compassion for later on in the book, had more breakthroughs.

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