The Man’s Guide to Women: 5 Things Women Want Men to Know About Fear, Sex, and Love

For more than 40 years, I’ve been helping men better understand women so they can have more sex and love and fewer fights and tensions. It’s said that we teach what we want to learn and I’ll admit I’m still learning about the wonderful creatures we call women and how to have passionate, peaceful, and joyful relationships with them.

Like many men with absent fathers, I grew up knowing more about women than I did about men. I remember playing in the kitchen while my mother and some of the neighbor ladies talked about their concerns about the men in their lives. They all expressed some degree of disappointment. Some were disappointed that there wasn’t enough closeness in the relationship. Others complained that the men weren’t as successful as they had hoped.

My father was one of the men who wasn’t emotionally close and also had trouble keeping a job. He was a playwright and actor. He and my mother moved to California from New York where he hoped to break into the newly emerging television industry. But jobs were hard to come by and he became more irritable, agitated, and angry. He would also become more withdrawn and depressed.

I’m sure some of the reasons that I became a therapist, specializing in helping men and the women who love them, was to better understand what women want and how men could be better husbands. I also wanted to know what men wanted and how women could become better partners. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years about what women want. [Read more…]

What Men Want More Than Sex But Are Terrified to Admit

My recent article, “The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex” has garnered more than 400,000 readers on the Good Men Project and my own site, MenAlive.com. Given the responses I received, it is a topic that resonates deeply with men and women. Since I only write about things that I’m interested in, I’ll say truthfully that I’ve been obsessed with sex since I was very young boy. I still remember our sex play with the little girl next door when I was 7 or 8 years old. It is innocent and exciting until we got caught and her parents wouldn’t let us play together.

So, sex always had a double edge of allure and danger. I suspect this duel aspect of desire and danger goes back to our ancient heritage where getting caught with your pants down could lead to getting eaten by the tiger that was stalking you. For women, getting pregnant could mean death for themselves, since many women died in childbirth.

But there are modern dangers as well. I still remember my first orgasm. I had found my mother’s vibrator (she called it her electric massager) when I was 10 or 11 years old and found that vibrating it around my genitals was not only stimulating, but highly arousing. My little penis was hard as a rock and my heart raced with excitement, when suddenly I had a massive release of energy and liquid flooded my hand and the vibrator.

My penis went from rock hard and large to wet, soft, and shrunken. I was terrified. I knew what had happened. I had been warned about the boy whose radio fell into the bathtub and he was electrocuted (it never occurred to me to wonder why anyone would have a radio plugged in above their bathtub). I was sure that’s what had happened to me. I had electrocuted my penis and had killed it.

I didn’t believe in God, but I prayed that if the almighty restored my penis to life, I would never vibrate it again. Well, God was good and my penis came back to life. But it took me years to overcome my fear of vibrators, despite my wife’s assurances that she would assume any risks if I joined her with her sex play. [Read more…]

Inside My Men’s Group: The Hidden Truths I’ve Learned Over the Last 38 Years

I knew I needed a men’s group in the worst way. I had just returned to the San Francisco Bay area after a cross-country trip with my wife. We had hoped to save our marriage, but the trip nearly killed us, or rather it nearly killed me. My wife was a violent woman who slept with a gun under her pillow to “protect herself from men.” We had been married for two years and I suspected that I was in another abusive relationship and if I didn’t get out soon, I might never leave alive.

The flyer posted on the bulletin board in Mill Valley said, “A Day With Well-Known Men’s Activist Dr. Herb Goldberg.” I had recently read Goldberg’s book, The Hazards of Being Male: Surviving the Myth of Masculine Privilege and resonated with the words from the introduction. “The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power. He is out of touch with his emotions and his body. He is playing by the rules of the male game plan and with lemming-like purpose he is destroying himself—emotionally, psychologically, and physically.”

I met for the day with twenty other guys who ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-50s. We had our own reasons for being there, but each of us was looking for the understanding and support most of us had never gotten from men. In one of the exercises we did in the workshop, we were asked to reflect on ways we had been wounded by other men in our lives.

I recalled my father who had become increasingly irritable, manic, and depressed with he was in his 40s. He took an overdose of sleeping pills and was sent to Camarillo State Mental Hospital north of Los Angeles. I was five years old at the time. I somehow felt responsible for his leaving and grew up wondering if I would become mentally ill.

Following the one-day workshop with Herb Goldberg, one of the organizers asked if anyone was interested in a regular men’s group. The following Wednesday, ten of us met at Tom’s house on Thalia street in Mill Valley. We agreed to meet weekly and the group soon narrowed to seven guys. We’re still going strong after 38 years. Over that time two guys dropped out and two were added. The “new guys” have now been in the group 25 years. One man died a few years ago and we are still grieving his passing.

We continue to provide love and support and to challenge ourselves to go deeper. If you want to get a feeling for what goes on in a men’s group I highly recommend the recent film by my friend Joseph Culp called “Welcome to the Men’s Group.” It’s a feature length production that isn’t about our group, but captures the kinds of things our group has dealt with over the years.

Here are a few of my own highlights of the group: [Read more…]

Helping Men and the Families Who Love Them: Is Text Therapy the Next Best Thing?

On November 21, 1969 I welcomed my son, Jemal, into the world. I vowed I would be a different kind of father than my father could be for me and I would do my best to create a world that was supportive of men, women, and children. That was birth of MenAlive. But the roots of my desire to help men go back to 1948 following my father’s overdose of sleeping pills.

As a child of five, I wanted to understand what happened to my father, why his manic anger and his agitated depression, led to his being committed to Camarillo State Hospital north of Los Angeles. I wanted to understand why he was unable to make a living doing the work he loved and how his beliefs about manhood caused debilitating shame when he couldn’t find a job and my mother was forced to go out to work. And underneath it all, I wondered what would happen to me. Would I follow in my father’s footsteps and end up in the “nut house?”

For most of my 47 years as a therapist, I’ve seen people face-to-face in my office for regular psychotherapy lasting 50 minutes. However, when my book, Surviving Male Menopause, was published in 2000 and became an international best-seller, I began getting emails from people from all over the world asking if I could work with them. At first, I offered my standard answer, “Well, sure, if you want to fly out to California.”

Some did fly out, but most wanted to know if I could do counseling by phone. It never occurred to me that I could counsel people without seeing them. How would I be able to assess their feelings and develop closeness and rapport? But their need seemed so great and so few people were dealing with the issues I addressed—Male menopause, male type depression, irritable male syndrome, preventing mid-life divorce, and male anger issues—I agreed to talk with them by phone.

I soon found that talking by phone had some distinct advantages. It allowed many to work with me who were too far away. Many people, particularly men, liked the ease of talking by phone rather than coming into an office. They also liked the safety they felt talking by phone, without the intensity of eye-to-eye contact. Most of my clients now talk to me by phone and I’ve found I’ve gotten good at hearing the nuances of voice to tune into feelings. I still see people in my office, but “phone therapy” has become a large part of my practice.

Over the years, I’ve helped more than 25,000 men and their families. I still remember talking to a client in 2002 who told me, “Our sessions have been so helpful, I wish I could carry you with me and talk to you when needed.” We both laughed. “Yeah, you just need a little Jed Diamond that you could carry in your pocket.” [Read more…]

The One Thing Women Want More Than Love Is The One Thing Men Find It Hard to Give

We’ve all heard that Women need to feel loved to have sex. Men need to have sex to feel loved. There seems to be some truth to here, but what does it really mean? In my article, The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex Is The One Thing Women Find It Hard to Give, I asked if it was true that, for men, sex was the most important thing in their lives.

When I was 17 years old I was sure it was true. When I was 37 years old, I suspected it might not be true. And now that I’m 73 years old, I know it’s not true. Now don’t get me wrong, sex can be wonderful at any age, but there’s something that is more important than sex, but it’s something that men have difficulty admitting and women have difficulty giving.

In this article, I want to explore the other side of the question. Is there something that women want more than love? And a broader set of questions including these. Do women want sex as much as men? Do men want love as much as women? Are there differences between women’s desires and men’s desires? Is the battle of the sexes inevitable or can there be peace and harmony between men and women, without losing our passionate connections?

In order to answer these questions, it helps to know a little bit about the field of evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology seeks to reconstruct problems that our ancestors faced in their primitive environments, and the problem-solving behaviors they created to meet those challenges. Understanding our evolutionary roots helps us better understand why men and women are the way they are.

Biologists have a very simple and useful definition of what is male and what is female, whether we are fish, ferns, or human beings making our way in our African homeland. An individual can either produce many small gametes (sex cells) or fewer but larger gametes. The individuals that produce smaller gametes are called “males,” and the ones that make larger gametes are called “females.”

These obvious biological facts have huge implications for our lives. It’s easier to move the smaller gametes to the larger ones, than vice versa. As a result, males compete with other males to have access to the females. Females choose the male that she fancies the most to mate with. Female mammals, including humans, carry the baby inside their bodies, and nurse the newborn child.

To understand what women want more than love, you have to place yourself in the shoes of our female ancestors. Imagine that you live in East Africa 100,000 years ago. You are born and raised in a closely knit family and when you come of age, you hope to have a man who will be a good hunter and provider and a good protector. [Read more…]

The One Thing Men Want More Than Sex Is The One Thing Women Find It Hard to Give

How many times have we heard the phrase, “All men want is sex?” When I was 17 years old I was sure it was true. When I was 37 years old, I suspected it might not be true. And now that I’m 73 years old, I know it’s not true. Now don’t get me wrong, sex can be wonderful at any age, but there’s something that is more important than sex, but it’s something that men have difficulty admitting and women have difficulty giving.

This understanding has dawned on me slowly and became most evident to me in my men’s group. I’ve been meeting regularly with six other guys for thirty-eight years and sex has been a topic that has run through our discussions over the years. Like all guys we are somewhat competitive and we all want to be seen as successful, but we also have learned to be honest with each other. We not only talk about our sexual successes, but also our failures, fears, and confusions.

From the time I was a young I learned that wanting sex was synonymous with being a man. In high school I remember overhearing a girl I liked talking about a guy we both knew. She wasn’t complaining that he was preoccupied with sex, but that he “didn’t come on to me like other guys do.” She went on to tell her girlfriend, “He’s not being very manly.” The message was clear, “real men” want sex and if you don’t “come on” to a girl, you’re not a real man.

This early lesson was validated through the years: Always wanting sex is the mark of manliness for many. It’s better to be turned down again and again and be seen as a jerk who is totally preoccupied with sex than to want something more than sex and be seen as “less than a man.”

So, what do men want more than sex? We’ve all heard that women need to feel loved to have sex, but men need to have sex to feel loved. Let’s look more deeply at what it is exactly that men are getting when they get sex. Sure, there is the physical pleasure, but there is a deeper need that is being satisfied. I call it the need for a safe harbor.
[Read more…]

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Marijuana: The Definitive Guide to What the Experts Now Know

2017 may be the year that marijuana (cannabis) has its full coming out party. As TIME magazine reported on November 9, 2016, “When California voters approved Proposition 64 on Tuesday, the basic idea was simple: a majority of people in America’s most populous state believe that adults should be able to consume marijuana if they feel like it, like a glass of wine at 5 o’clock.”

TIME got additional information from Amanda Reiman, the Drug Policy Alliance’s manager of marijuana law and policy. The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization promoting drug policies that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.

I began working in the field of drug abuse prevention and health in 1968 after I graduated from U.C. Berkeley and started a therapeutic community program to help people recover from problems associated with drug and alcohol abuse. It soon became apparent that helping people with their problems was made more difficult by laws that criminalized use, rather than making use a health issue. This unnecessarily increased people’s level of anxiety and depression, and kept people from getting the help they needed.

In 1973 I wrote the first of many professional articles to expand our understanding of drugs and how they impact people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior, both positively and negatively. In the article, I wrote,

“The drug problem in this country continues to get worse, and the programs that we have developed to combat the problem are actually adding fuel to the fire. The laws that have been developed over the past 60 years have done nothing to discourage the use of drugs. Their effect has caused the criminalization of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens.”

I went on to say,

“Legal restrictions on mind active drugs have produced a new industry that has proven extremely profitable to legal drug manufacturers and salesmen as well as the illegal drug entrepreneurs. The huge profits to be made in the drug business have caused corruption in large segments of society.”

Well, as Bob Dylan reminds us, the times, they are a changin’. As of January 2017, 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions. Eight of these states and the District of Columbia have also legalized cannabis for recreational use. In addition to the growing availability of legalized cannabis, there has also been a rapid expansion in the types of available cannabis products, including edibles, oils, and a variety of inhaled substances. [Read more…]

Why Donald Trump’s Presidency Will, Surprisingly, Be the World’s Greatest Gift

In the run-up to the election, someone said that if Hillary Clinton was elected, we would get a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” We would celebrate a woman being the first president and would appreciate her wide-ranging experience in politics. But we would fail to recognize that this is not a time in human history for someone who supports an old system that is dying. If Donald Trump were elected, it was said, we would get “a wolf in wolf’s clothing.” Donald Trump doesn’t hide who he is, what he believes, or his priorities. He tweets them out daily and his cabinet choices demonstrate his commitment to the rich and powerful.

Let me be clear about my own political leanings. I supported Bernie Sanders, believing he was someone who was committed to real change and could bring the country together. When he didn’t get the Democratic nomination, I voted for Hillary Clinton. I felt she was the best next-step to a better future. I believe I was wrong. I think the people are wise in ways that are not apparent. I believe that Donald Trump may bring out the best in the American people and perhaps the office of the Presidency will bring out the best in Donald Trump.

One of the things I liked about Bernie Sander’s message was his recognition that if the people didn’t rise up and come together in support of a better world, no matter who we elected as President, it wouldn’t do much good. I believe Donald Trump’s Presidency can bring people together in a way that can create “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible,” as Charles Eisenstein articulates it.

In May, 2016 I wrote an article, “The Real Reason Donald Trump Will Be Our Next President.” In it I said our presidential candidate, in many ways, reflects the subconscious view we hold of ourselves. “We may like to hear slogans that tell us ‘we’re the best, America is number 1.’ But the truth is deep inside we don’t like ourselves very well. And the reality is we’re not very likeable.

“It’s hard to feel good about ourselves when we continue to destroy other people and the life-support system on planet Earth. As Charles Eisenstein says in his book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible,

‘Who could have foreseen, two generations ago when the story of progress was strong, that the twenty-first century would be a time of school massacres, of rampant obesity, of growing indebtedness, of pervasive insecurity, of intensifying concentration of wealth, of unabated world hunger, and of environmental degradation that threatens civilization?’ [Read more…]

Want to Save 32,000 Lives a Year? It May Be As Easy as Seeing A Female Rather Than a Male Doctor

I still have a vivid memory of my first doctor, Dr. Minden. No one likes to see a doctor and I can still remember the fear of getting the immunization shots that were part of growing up. But doctor Minden was always so kind and caring, it made whatever I had to endure worth going. I knew that whatever he did was always done to help me and that any momentary pain would be short-lived. I was heart-broken when I grew older and learned that he was a “kid’s doctor” and I had graduated to adult doctors.

Part of the reason I went to medical school was to become the kind of doctor I remember Dr. Minden being. Part of the reason I left medical school was the kind of education I was getting was harsh and abusive rather than kind and caring. When I was in medical school, there were only a few females in my class. Now women outnumber men in medical schools (and colleges) and profession is shifting.

It seems that the care and compassion I remember from my childhood doctor are seen more commonly in female than in male health care providers. So, I’ve always sought out female health-care practitioners over the years. Compared to the male doctors I had, they were more  engaged and involved. They were much closer in spirit my childhood doctor Minden. I suspect that all doctors would be better doctors if they spend significant time learning about healing from children.

Now a new study by doctors from Harvard have found that we could save 32,000 lives a year if we saw female doctors as opposed to male doctors. After examining the medical records of Medicare patients from across the country, the Harvard researchers calculated that 10.82% of those treated by physicians who were women died within 30 days of being admitted to the hospital. Among patients treated by male physicians, the 30-day mortality rate was 11.49%, according to a study published recently in in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The differences between male and female providers persisted even after the researchers accounted for factors like the age, gender and income of patients, how sick those patients were when they first checked into the hospital, the resources of the hospitals and the experience of the doctors. There seems to be something about the qualities of being female that pays off in better health care. [Read more…]

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Men

My wife, Carlin, invited me and my men’s group to share some of things about being a man with her women’s group. We’ve done this before and one of the things that helped women “get” men was the fishbowl process, where the men sit in the center and the women sit quietly around and just listen. It doesn’t take long for the men to engage each other and the female’s presence fades into the background as we talk “man-to-man.”

This reminded me of my first fishbowl experience nearly 50 years ago. I was at a conference for men and women and the leaders first had the women come into a circle with the men listening on the outside. I was entranced as I listened to the women talking about themselves and thought “they’re just like me and they’re oh, so different.”

When it was time to reverse roles, the women began moving out of the circle and the men moved in. The woman sitting in front of me smiled and patted the spot where she was sitting on the floor, a warm gesture of “your turn, have a seat.” I sat where she indicated, but it was like sitting on a hot stove. I literally jumped up and finally moved to another spot. All this took place in a matter of seconds as the women moved out of the circle and the men moved in.

I immediately burst into tears. As the men finally took their seats, here I was sobbing and nothing had happened yet, our sharing hadn’t even begun. The somewhat surprised leader asked, “So what’s happening with you?” Between my tears I was able to share what went on for me: [Read more…]