How Guys Compartmentalize Women

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The prequel to this post is “Intimacy and Sex: Context is Everything.

The last paragraph of that article states:

Why does this happen? Can’t a man fall in love slowly over time? Yes, some men can, but for most, the answer is NO. Why? Because for the typical guy, assessment happens the moment he meets a woman. Right from the start he’s compartmentalizing her into one of five categories. Maybe this seems shallow and base, but primal instincts take over in the oh-so-important game of passing on the blood line

Category One:

He sees potential for a long-term relationship. Maybe it doesn’t need to be said, but in order for a guy to see potential in a woman he has to be satisfied with the direction of his own life and be open to meeting someone. If he’s closed off, or feeling selfish, or healing from a recent breakup it almost doesn’t matter who the woman is. That said, a man sees potential for a long-term relationship when he feels an immediate physical attraction for the woman he’s just met. She’s the kind of woman he imagines introducing to his friends, his family. She’s the kind of woman he wants the world to know is his. She is a woman who will make him feel confident and strong. He envisions the respect he’ll get. His buddies will say, “How’d you get such a smart and beautiful woman?” He’ll just smile and bask in the glow, thinking of his life with her. In Freudian terms, his ego is fulfilled and happy.

Category Two:

Wait and See There are two possibilities in this category. The first depends on the woman. The guy might see long-term potential but the woman isn’t sure at first. If this is the case, he’ll chase her until he gets rejected or he’ll chase her until he wins her over.

The second is because he’s not totally sure for whatever reason. He has an inkling that there’s potential but there’s something missing and he can’t quite pinpoint it. He questions himself first. “I’m probably just overanalyzing,” he thinks. He’ll ignore it for a time and pursue the woman. However, most often the relationship either devolves into a purely physical relationship, or no relationship at all. Because if he has doubts from the get go, even if he tries to suppress them for a time, those doubts will resurface again at some point, only creating confusion for the woman. That’s when we get questions like: How could he suddenly go from loving me to breaking up with me? It doesn’t make sense.

Category Three: Physical Arrangement (FWB, Friends with Benefits, Booty Call, F-Buddy) This is becoming more and more prevalent these days and we’re not completely sure why. Since we’re guys we understand why this arrangement could be beneficial to us, but we’re not sure how this arrangement is beneficial to women. We understand that not all women are looking to get married or be in serious relationships, but based on the number of questions we receive about this topic we can only surmise that this is type of arrangement is not working for most females. So why does a man propose a purely physical arrangement instead of a committed relationship when the two sometimes look very similar? Remember the statement: Context is Everything. In this case, he’s found a willing partner, someone who’s cool, or he’s friends with, or he’s attracted to on some level, so he says to himself why not. He can have sex with her and still be out searching for the woman he wants an actual relationship with. In his mind it’s the best of both worlds.

Category Four: Just Friends This doesn’t need much explanation. Just be careful. Sometimes good friends can fall into a Friends with Benefits arrangement. Or rather, the guy, some night after sharing a bottle of wine, or several beers will propose a FWB. He makes it seem like a joke of course, just in case his friend freaks out. But since women and men are wired differently, often the women agrees to it. She thinks, maybe things will progress into something more serious, because by this time the woman has fallen in love with her best friend. Understand, that the guy is not thinking about love and relationship. He has one thing in mind. He sees his friend as someone he trusts, someone who is willing to partake in the pleasures of the body, someone who understands him, someone who doesn’t requires much effort from him.

Category Five: No Interest No explanation needed. When this occurs, usually it’s mutual.

You might wonder how can a guy decide all of this so quickly. What is his criteria based on? Besides the aforementioned primal instincts, his quick assessment is often based on unrealistic expectations and false assumptions, likely fueled by the countless magazines he’s read, the online porn he’s viewed, and the lies told by his buddies who claim that they’ve seen a certain creature who is off-the-charts beautiful, rocks a bikini model body, likes to cook, is an expert at video games, loves watching sports, drinking beer, farting, who understands her man’s need for space—but doesn’t need it herself—is willing to experiment sexually—translation; act out what he’s seen in the porn he watches—and tells her guy he’s the best she’s ever had, even though he’s not. As you can imagine, this Guy Fantasy has taken down many a solid relationship. Men do learn though. Well, some men. As they mature and gain more experience they learn what it means to be a considerate and responsible partner, they begin to realize that this mythical creature does not exist, that this magical nymph if you will, is a fantasy created by their narrow perception of a female. That said, the years leading up to this epiphany can be quite frustrating for a woman trying to compete with his notion of idealized beauty. (And frankly, it can be frustrating for a man searching for an ideal that does not exist.)

Next up: Freedom

14 Comments on How Guys Compartmentalize Women

  1. @All the Women out There…….We’d love to hear your thoughts on The Perfect Guy? Leave a comment, a description or respond to someone else’s comment. Let’s have a conversation.

  2. Hi guys,
    How about the guy that starts off pursuing you? writing you letters (he’s french) taking you out on dates, walking you home, picking you up from work, cooking for you.. but the minute you mention that you realized that most of your ‘dates’ are in doors and not just that, he has a lot of female friends with one in particular who doesn’t like you at all or even pretends to like you, he then tells you that all his female friends including you, are just his friends and he’s not stable right now to be in a relationship but when he is he will pick among his friends.. what about a guy like that? we made out but never had sex, and we’re both in college, in our early twenties. Today I finally told him not to contact me again, and we should take a break from everything because I was not willing to be one of his friends and it just was hurting me to see him with all these girls. And he got emotional, I got emotional. we hugged and he said how long do I want and I said three months, so until January and he said he’ll wait. I don’t know. I really like him a lot… How do men react to taking a break from a non-relationship? Thanks guys

  3. @Geral…..Honestly, he sounds like a total player. Or playah. And it sounds like you understand that even if you really like him. We don’t know exactly what you mean by your question, but if you’re asking, will he miss you and want to be with you exclusively after the three months is up, we’d say probably not. We don’t get the sense he’s going to change any time soon. Also, keep in mind that guys are pretty fast to compartmentalize women. (We’re sure you read the post.) Which means, he’s already decided where you stand. Friend or Friends with Benefits. Sounds like he’s got a lot of women in the same boat and he’s doing the same sorts of things with them. Maybe it’s time to move on? What do you think?

  4. Nicole Adams // September 29, 2016 at 5:27 am //

    Only question that comes to mind is: are “the GUYS” currently single,married?

    What you guys do for women is hands down the most honorable thing I’ve come across in a very long time. I used to have a handful of guy friends that I would bounce my relationship woes with, for the man’s perspective. Thank goodness they believed me when I said, I can handle it whatever it is, just help me understand! Not even understand really, help me find closure! I’m so ashamed of myself for the joke of a relationship I literally was suckered into, ohh a year ago. See, he was someone I considered a “guy friend” do I opened up about this guy I really really liked alot but was so tired of him just not giving a crap about my time or my feelings. I didn’t understand the sudden change and I needed help fast. “Friend’s” solution, I should just be with him and have no strings attached. It’ll just help me to get over the one guy. I turned it down as a laughing ‘oh stop’ kind of fashion until one night late we were IMing via messenger. E were both flirty, I think he has asked me again to just be with him and I told him there’s no way that would ever work, he’ll get hooked and getting how I want wanting n another relationship, it would only ruin it great friendship…. Same night that I imagined I was SOME CATCH and told him he’d be hooked, playful flirting turned into I’ll show u mine if u’ll show me urs game. Holy cow I was not prepared for what this man was packing!! And, suddenly i started rationalizing, or so I thought. Next time he came over to chill, I’m hanging clothes in my closet so my back is to him…. We’re just talking small talk nothing flirty nothing sexual and mid sentence in interrupted with a faint but very enticing flutter between my legs. My God, noone has ever touched me so passionately perfect in my 38 yrs of being alive! I was hooked. We immediately got to much deeper relations and I have still got this man crazy about me almost to the point it annoyed me at times. This is now steady for 8 straight months, and suddenly, he gets his own rented place that literally fell in his lap. He started not answering my calls, barely responding to texts, doesn’t show much interest at all in seeing me…. SOMETHING WAS UP. Tables are now in his favor u see…. And I’m freaking crazy for thinking this way (according to him). I’ll make the rest of this nightmare short and anything but sweet. I saw a window up on his phone that was from a hook-up website. The only thing I noticed was his screenname and his txt to this girl “of about 9 inches”. Bingo, my early suspicions of him being a player n the past has reared its ugly nasty head! In short, “he’s not on all these sites for sexual gratification… I wouldn’t understand”. Reminding him that I am his friend first before anything else & he should respect me enough to sit me straight and tell me wtf he’s interested in if it’s not sex or casual encounters? I can’t believe I’m even saying this but gd it IM FREAKING HOOKED!!!

  5. @Nicole…..Thanks for your kind words. We do try. As per us? We’re a blend of single, married. Young and more mature…..The first thing we thought about when you mentioned his “package” was that Mark Wahlberg movie, “Boogie Nights.” Have you seen it? Not necessarily related to your issue, but interesting enough. Ok, so what exactly is your question? Clearly something is up. So what does your gut tell you? Typically a sudden change of behavior, combined with other suspicious activity would mean he’s keeping something from you. Remember, your discovery of the ‘hook-up site’ is new, which means you gotta wonder what you haven’t discovered. Question: Have the two of you ever put a label on your relationship? Are you boyfriend and girlfriend or just friends with benefits? Or something else? Fill us in a little more.

  6. Nicole Adams // September 29, 2016 at 8:48 am //

    @theGuys: yes of course I’ve seen Boogie Nights! Lol

    To answer your question, yes we (initially he) labeled us as a couple, and in the beginning (up to 2 months in to FWB) he announces that he’s never been with a woman that had him so lovestruck. Flattering, maybe a little but hard to hear… I’m not “all that” and to be honest, it would get on my nerves so bad when he would talk like that. Mostly because I wasn’t buying it for a sec! We went to highschool together and he was quite the teenage heart throb/player. I was one of the few that didn’t date him in hs.

    I realize this is hard to piece together…lol

    Bottom line is this: this chemistry and mad passion we have between us, I need to know if you guys think it was ever sincere or was it a con? One detail I’ve left out from the beginning… This man doesn’t have much of anything at all. No car, no house (was living in a motel room with his dad). My big heart and what he calls my snobby side hated the thought of him starting in a freaking motel room. At my home, he ate good, he always had clean clothes, a comfy bed, etc. He worked off and on, and never legitimately on an actual payroll, more like handyman jobs.

    Our first and actual biggest argument was over him never offering too give money towards bills, food, RENT, anything! My mom and i share a home and split everything down the middle. (I also have a 10 yr old son) But we struggle to have what we have. He knows we do but week after week after week he’s completely broke. Had nothing to show for his money made and another week he didn’t offer any contribution. I asked him to leave.

    He acted crushed and shocked that I would kick him out like that which I didn’t play into. My point was: what grown man lives off of two single women for MONTHS and never contributes a dime?

    Starting to sound more like a bonafide narcissist and con artist right?!? My ultimate question I need help with is: Is it possible that this was never this great spark between us, he just played it as long as he could? Do men go to such grave lengths to make women slowly fall into their trap just to turn it all around and give her a run for her money? Catching him on these casual sex sites (pretty much) makes me think he’s got everything out of me he wanted and rather than ending what we have, he’s secretly an active member to nearly every hookup site there is.

    Ugh, I’m grossed out just by listening to this lovely journey!

  7. @Nicole….It helps to write it all out doesn’t it? Seeing it in print is sometimes eye opening. Con artist? We wouldn’t go that far. We’re sure in his own way he did believe all the things he was saying to you. The problem is, he’s not very mature. In fact, he sounds like he hasn’t matured much past high school. Like the stereotypical prom queen, someone who still tells us everyone she was the prettiest girl in high school, he still hasn’t figured out that women want more than just a big package. Or maybe his primary focus is still bedding women, and since he still seems to be able to do that without having much of a job, a degree, or other characteristics that might make him attractive to women, so he hasn’t bothered to put any effort into developing other aspects of himself. And about the money. It’s quite lame that he hasn’t offered to pay any sort of expenses. Actually, that’s us being nice. It’s more than lame. In general, it seems that he’s done this before, doesn’t it? So you’re wondering if guys do this sort of thing. We hate to generalize. Sure some guys do, but so do some women. It’s not a guy thing. But it is his thing. We say, chalk this up to a fun experience, and don’t berate yourself over it.

  8. I’m confused about the “just friends” category. Particularly this part:

    “He sees his friend as someone he trusts, someone who is willing to partake in the pleasures of the body, someone who understands him, someone who doesn’t require much effort from him.”

    So, let’s say hypothetically: a guy and a girl are very close friends. But there’s attraction involved as well. What else is missing there that makes a guy not interested in a relationship? Usually when people consider a relationship with someone it’s two main factors: their looks and their personality/whether there’s an emotional connection/they get along. So if a guy and girl are close friends, and there’s emotional chemistry and also physical attraction as well, what makes a guy not see any potential there for anything else? What’s that one missing factor that makes all the difference of whether that girl with both the great personality and looks is just a friend or something more?

  9. @Raquel….Great question. We’ll do our best to explain but we might confuse you more. 🙂 But here goes…..Just because a guy wants to have sex with a woman doesn’t mean he thinks she’s relationship material. (This is going to sound very shallow but hang in there.) A guy might think the woman has a great personality, and he’s attracted to some feature of hers, but maybe not all, which would be why he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her. For example: (This is going to sound even worse, but it’s important for you to know, and others.) Let’s say the woman has nice breasts, and that turns the guy on, he might proceed forward and try to have sex with her, based on that alone. And then afterwards he might even feel he made a mistake. Now the woman gets the impression that the guy is into her, when in fact, he’s not really. However, it gets even more confusing when the pattern repeats itself over and over, until the woman puts an end to it, or the guy finds someone he wants to be serious with. Questions?

  10. I’ve got millions of questions. For argument’s sake, assume that there is nothing lacking in either the girl’s appearance or personality. Imagine that the guy has sincerely said himself that she is amazing and beautiful and has an incredible personality, etc. and gone out of his way to say these things often. Also assume that the guy did not use the woman for sex. They have been close friends for a long time, he cares about her feelings, and it’s certain that he definitely wouldn’t risk the friendship just for one night of sex. A very significant additional factor to keep in mind is that this is (very) long distance, so there was no benefit or even possibility of future hookups in it for him. (As I said, they’re very close friends, and the friendship was important enough to him to drive several hours just to spend one day hanging out with her.) What would cause a guy to suddenly act very romantically interested in a girl who he has had a close friendship with for so long, if he wasn’t actually interested in a relationship, and there was never a possibility of it being a friends with benefits situation either? Why didn’t he just keep the friendship as it was? What would he get out of spending a whole day acting otherwise? Also assume that he has no shortage of other girls to hook up with, so it wasn’t that he was just needing some action and used his friend because she was the only option. One last detail, perhaps the most confusing part: imagine that-**hypothetically,** of course 😉 – when confronted about this, the guy says to the girl that they both know that there’s no relationship future for them, but that he also was not just playing with her or leading her on, and that he meant the things he did and the romantic way he acted when they spent a day together, and it wasn’t faked. Are those two statements not completely contradictory? If you act romantically with a girl when you’re not actually interested, isn’t that the very definition of leading her on? How could it even be possible to be romantic with someone and claim to both mean it sincerely and not see a future in it at the same time? What is the guy thinking?

  11. @Racquel……You’re being a bit coy so we’re not sure exactly what you’re asking, or whom you’re asking about. But look, something isn’t adding up. He’s either romantically interested or he’s not. It doesn’t go both ways. Sounds like he thought he might be interested, and then he realized he wasn’t. But now he doesn’t want to hurt “the girl” so he’s saying that he wasn’t leading “her” on, when the fact is, he one day decided that maybe the friendship could be something more, and he went for it, only to realize he doesn’t feel that way about her. The confusing part is that he’s not telling “the girl’ the truth because he doesn’t want to hurt her. We’re sorry. Other questions?

  12. My weight has been the issue in my marriage of 26 years and I didn’t even realize it. Now I might be losing my marriage because I didn’t lose the weight. I’m 47 years old, 5’8″ and about 40 pounds over weight. It’s fluctuated through years, having children doesn’t help, but overall I didn’t pay attention to it because I thought he loved me for me.
    When we dated I was only 19 and skinny. He said I had the body of a gazelle, Long and lean. We married within the year and l started using birth control…then PUFF! 20 pounds in the first year!
    Anyway, why I’m writing, my husband loves me but has always desired to be with a skinny person. He’s sees my lack of effort and willingness to lose the weight (believe me, I want too!) as a disrespect to our marriage. Recently my husband had an emotional affair with a coworker. (A skinny salsa dancer.) I read a text on his phone saying she wanted to finally DO IT. I texted her back on his phone saying who I was and that her above comment was inappropriate and I want it to stop! (Thanks and have a nice day) She broke it off immediately. They never had a physical affair.
    This broke my husbands heart.
    He says he’s not in love with her, but it was that FEELING! It was excitement. It was like a nuclear bomb! He can’t get past that. It’s now been a year and a half. And he wants an affair to try to fix that feeling in his heart. He wants skinny. He DESIRES skinny. And I’m not that.
    Why can’t he get past that feeling? What is that feeling? He is over stressed, works 70+hours a week and I think it’s part of a mid life crisis- what does it all entail? Do men get past this?

  13. Continuing with the above comment.(new things I thought of) My husband was a virgin at 20 years old and I wasn’t. A had been with two other men. He feels like he has been cheated out of those experiences that young men should have had. We were Christians then, and he is not now. The moral code of monogamy has been “lifted”.
    Should I give him a “break” to have an experience?
    He is a very good looking man for his age, looks very young,clean cut, no grey hair, muscular, but lacks confidence.
    I am a bit heavy (180lbs) but I am also attractive, put myself together well everyday. Your thoughts are appreciated.
    I’ve been reading over many of your pages and am impressed with your perspective and answer.

  14. @Linda…..It’s difficult to generalize. Sometimes people can become obsessed with what they don’t have. (Not just men.) In this case, he feels he’s missed out on experiences he should have had as a young man, and now is singularly focused on recreating them, even though he’s married. Is this a mid-life crisis? Well, sure, but only because it’s happening at his age. This kind of thing can happen at any age. (People stray and lose focus on what they do have.) So some of this is about him, but some is about your marriage and how he feels about you and being married to you. Have the two of you talked this through? Have you seen a counselor or other professional to help you process? What does he say about his feelings towards you? Here’s the thing. Maybe he wants a “skinny” woman, and that’s how he’s characterizing it, but honestly, it just sounds like he wants something different. Meaning, we get the sense that even if you were “skinny” and looked how he wanted you to look, he still might be feeling like he missed out, and thus, might be longing to be with other women, at least sexually. He probably thinks he’s alone in this, but we can tell you that even men who are completely happy and content with their partners think about AND obsess about other women. We’re not saying all men stray, but we are saying all men fantasize quite often about other women. (Which is why the porn industry is so profitable.) That doesn’t mean what he’s doing is okay. It’s not quite frankly. Everyone sacrifices something when they commit to another person. Most people do it gladly because they’re in love, but there’s always something to give up when you commit, if nothing else, freedom to not have to answer to anyone else. So should you let him have his break? That’s hard to say. And that’s your call. However, that’s very likely to fan the flames rather than put them out. Once he gets a taste he might obsess even more. Hope this helps a little. (FYI: We’re moving away from answering complex comments because of the volume we get. Honestly, for this type of complex question requiring a longer discussion, we are primarily responding via email. But there is a $40 fee for Private Questions. Read testimonials if you want to see what people say about us. What we’re saying is, we hope our comment has helped but if you want to have a longer discussion we’d ask that you choose the Ask a Private Question option. Thanks.) Happy Thanksgiving! (We’re off the rest of the day.)

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