“Men look for sex and find love; women look for love and in the process find sex,” counsels Evan Marc Katz, a 46-year-old dating coach “for smart, strong, successful women,” whose website encourages them to find love by “understanding men” better. To help, Katz maintains a blog, authors books, hosts a podcast, ghostwrites online profiles, distributes a newsletter, gives TED talks and offers private coaching for $2,000 to $3,000 a month. The through line of each — and corresponding insatiable thirst from his audience — is rooted in the notion that the key to finding Mr. Right is demystifying the way he thinks.
Katz, and an ever-expanding group of male dating coaches who cater to women, believe that, as men, they’re uniquely qualified to assist in doing so. “I’ve never met a guy who says, ‘I really want to understand my wife,’” Katz tells me, believing most men aren’t inquisitive and prefer to be left alone. “When women turn to me, they’re looking for insights about men that they don’t possess. They always ask, ‘What is he thinking?’”
Similarly, Peter White, a 48-year-old golf shop retailer turned affiliate marketer turned dating coach now living in Bulgaria with a new wife and stepdaughter, seized on the domain name “whydoguys.com,” hoping to capitalize on women’s attempt to comprehend the confounding male brain. His previous dating advice website for men — dialteg.com (“getlaid,” spelled backwards) — wasn’t amassing the hits he’d hoped, but he noticed an increasing number of women asking questions in the comment section, a majority of which began, “Why do guys…?”
White figured he’d gather a bunch of these questions and draw upon his own expertise to answer them, since, as he explains on his “about” page, he’s “been a male my whole life, studied women my whole life and earned my non-doctorate degree in women.”
A taste of White’s scholarship (sic throughout):
Q: Why do guys flirt and does it have anything to do with love?
A: Men flirt to show off their wit and charm and of course to perfect and practice them too. Men flirt to prove to themselves they can make a woman smile and make her feel good AND feel slightly attracted to them. Flirting successful also boosts their confidence around women when it’s done successfully. Men flirt to give a sexual edge to the conversation — sometimes to let you know they see you as an option and sometimes just to not get thrown in the friends zone if and when they decide they want something more. Flirting is (generally) a sub-textual language and what lies underneath it all is often perceived and felt by both who are flirting with each especially when innuendos are being used and fantastic and far-far-fetched stories are being made up. LOVE does not seem to come into play here and I don’t see the connection. Your guy friend, Pete.
“I get anywhere from 16-year-olds to 60-year-olds,” White tells me. “Whether it’s the girl in class the guy is checking out, whether it’s the woman who’s been dating a guy for a little while or whether it’s the woman who is divorced and was married for 30 years, the women who come to me are confused about the way men act and are hungry for answers.”
Katz started developing his answers while putting himself through film school at UCLA (he’d previously studied public policy at Duke in the early 1990s). He needed a job to stay afloat and started doing customer service at Jdate, the online dating service aimed at Jewish singles. He describes the entry-level position as “getting yelled at by female strangers calling about lost passwords.” After sorting that out for them, though, he’d critique their photos, profile and emails. Before long, he was selling more Jdate subscriptions than the rest of the customer-care team combined.
After a year, in 2003, he had the confidence to write his first book, I Can’t Believe I’m Buying This Book: A Common Sense Guide to Successful Internet Dating, a pursuit that was validated by a New York Times feature about the (then) new trend of online dating that was published months later. The book also received a good review in Time magazine, followed by positive stories in USA Today and on CNN. And so, he dropped out of grad school and became “the online dating profile guy,” launching e-Cyrano, a first-of-its kind online dating profile ghostwriting service, which led to IRL coaching, which led to relationship coaching.
Five years later, Katz noticed his ever-expanding mailing list was 80 percent female. Men need help with the dating game, he says, but women are the ones actually asking for it. As such, he cut off men entirely in 2010 and re-branded himself as a dating coach “for smart, strong, successful women who have everything but the guy.”
Nadine, a 64-year-old retiree in New Jersey, paid a total of $14,000 to work with Katz for six months. “It’s a matter of priorities,” she told Business Insider in 2018. “I could pay for a car or an upgrade on a house, a coat or a variety of possessions, but at this point in my life, I value [Katz’s] deep knowledge of the dating process and his world of experience, which will save me years of unnecessary mistakes and learning the hard way.”
Katz explains that the women who reach out to him are typically at a breaking point: “No one emails me to say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this amazing boyfriend, I just wanted to tell you about him.’ Instead, it’s something related to the definition of insanity. She’ll say, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. I think I’m a catch, but I just got ghosted for the third time this year.’” Katz adds that women are perpetually befuddled about why a guy would sleep with them if he’s not emotionally available. His answer: Because you were there and willing. “My job is to explain without demonizing,” he says. “Maybe your next move isn’t sleeping with a guy unless you think that he’s worthy of being your boyfriend.”
David Wygant, a 57-year-old dating/relationship coach in L.A. whose client base is 50 percent female, takes a slightly more impatient tact. “Here’s the problem,” he tells me, “women are chronic overthinkers. A woman will overanalyze something. Then she’ll get her girlfriends out for lunch and overanalyze it. Then she’ll over analyze it with another girlfriend. Then she’ll overanalyze it some more when she gets home. Then she’ll email me and say, ‘What do you think he’s thinking?’ I’ve heard this from every female client I’ve ever worked with.”
Among Wygant’s most common coaching challenges with women — who pay him $1,995 for a month of email coaching and a weekly phone call (with an optional upgrade to unlimited texting for $2,495) — is overriding advice from their friends. For example, he’s currently coaching a client on how to communicate better with a man, but her friends are suggesting he’s not ready to commit. “They’re saying, ‘Maybe you have to just ignore him for a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.’”
“But games make the man run away,” Wygant states matter-of-factly.
There’s a bigger problem, too, Wygant says with growing frustration: Swipe-centric dating has made us “weak and pathetic.” Like Katz, he claims to have “basically started the dating coaching industry 20 years ago,” when “men actually walked up and talked to women.” Now, he explains, it’s devolved into “a bunch of people sitting around with take-out from Whole Foods swiping their greasy screens, looking for a bigger, better deal, with nobody committing to anything. People constantly think, Maybe there’s somebody better out there, shopping for dates like they’re shopping for groceries.”
As a result, Wygant says he’s constantly managing his female clientele’s “unrealistic expectations.” For instance: “I’m in great shape and get these overweight woman messaging me on dating apps. Then she gets angry because I don’t respond. Why would a man in great physical shape want to go out with somebody who is 40 pounds overweight? It’s not his lifestyle, and it’s not what he’s attracted to.” He feels similarly about age. “Like a 43-year-old woman who only wants to date men 41 to 44,” he claims. “I got news for her: She’d better go up to 55, because men will always go younger if they can. She needs to go older to find somebody who appreciates her beauty and amazement.”
Another option, of course, would be to enlist the services of insurance exec turned female dating coach, Jonathon Aslay, a 56-year-old specializing in “dating in midlife,” which he defines as “after baby making years and before retirement.” The average age of the thousands of women he’s worked with is 50 to 55, three out of four of whom are divorced. On the latter count, Aslay leverages his own experience as a divorced father to impart wisdom about how the divorced man operates, urging clients to tread carefully before entering into such a relationship. “Divorced men oftentimes want to get into a relationship quickly, and they jump in too fast,” he cautions. “The last thing you want to be is his transition girlfriend.”
To ward off such stereotypically male behavior, Aslay counsels his female clients to ask logical questions. “When you want to connect with a guy and find out what’s going on inside his head, ask thinking questions, like, ‘What do you think about that play we just went to?’ Questions about his emotions will make him back off,” Aslay warns, “while thinking questions will excite the part of his brain that says, ‘Oh, I’ve got to answer a question!’”
“Men are HUNTERS, plain and simple,” he explains in a free ebook, Understand Men Now: The Relationships Men Commit To & Why, noting it to be a “fact” that if the hunt ends, the man gives up. Therefore, he suggests, it’s a wise idea to keep a man hunting (which is seemingly at odds with Wygant’s assertion that men don’t like games). He says a woman can do so by (again, sic throughout)…
- Not always being available: “Maintain the mystery which prolongs the desire for him to hunt.”
- Changing up her appearance: “Because men are visual beings, it pays to look foxy one day, relaxed the next, wear your hair up on a weekend and down at a social event.”
- Making sure she has things to do: “Have your own interests and forge your own plans” to “show that you’re an active and desirable woman who doesn’t need him all the time.”
- Always allowing him to be the man: “Let him make decisions and take control when you can so he’ll feel like a man and his libido will rise because you’re his fair maiden.”
- Wearing soft clothes: “[Men have] “a subconscious chemical reaction to delicate clothing which encourages a natural protection mechanism.”
Rosalind, a 48-year-old HR coordinator and Aslay client, says she was drawn to him specifically because he’s a man, and she figured he’d have good insight into what men in midlife are looking for. “Jonathon’s advice was very helpful for me,” she explains, especially his belief that chivalry went out of style in 1950 and modern men would cherish her for paying half of the bill. Another happy client, a 51-year-old divorcee in Northern California who wishes to remain anonymous, tells me she’s learned more from Aslay than any counselor, coach or psychologist, because he opened her eyes to “how the male mind operates, in black and white, and isn’t a prophesying machine like women’s are.”
Not surprisingly, male coaches offering women dating advice has received pointed criticism from feminists. On cupid is burning, a feminist blog tasked with exposing “narratives which exacerbate and perpetuate the bullshit issues that women still have to struggle with,” a writer named Miranda takes issue with Katz’s claim that many men don’t like it when their female partners are smarter and/or more successful than they are. “Men have been conditioned to believe that the male half of the species is superior, and a lot of men don’t like having women around whose superior intellect and/or economic standing serve as constant reminders that maybe this isn’t necessarily the case,” she writes, scoffing at Katz’s attempt to pin the phenomenon on a woman’s character defect.
In his defense, Katz tells me, “People don’t want to hear things that are challenging.” Sure, he continues, a woman may be brilliant, ambitious and worthy of everyone’s respect, but if her ambition ends up emasculating her man or makes him feel insignificant, he’s not getting what he wants out of a partner. “Most smart, strong, successful men aren’t looking for a woman who is going to support him,” Katz explains. He calls it a bonus, not the goal. Rather, men are generally looking for a woman who’s attractive and nice to him.
“It’s kind of simple,” he adds. “You could be a top chef supermodel and a Rhodes Scholar, but if he feels like shit around you because you’re bossy and critical, he’s not sticking around.” Further, he believes women and men look for different things in a partner. “A woman is looking for the male version of her, but better: ‘I’m a vegan; he’s a vegan. I make six figures; he makes six figures.’ Men are like, ‘Is she cute? Is she nice? We’ll start there.’ What you’re attracted to and what’s good for you are not necessarily the same thing.”
Miranda, though, isn’t buying it, suggesting his whole ideology, right down to the language he uses, “echoes the male-headship rhetoric that has become so popular in the conservative Christian community as a way to fight back against the dreaded progressivism that’s gained ground in the last few decades.”
But it’s unfair (and inaccurate) to imply male dating coaches catering to women are incapable or unwilling to evolve their thinking. Case in point: When I press Aslay on some of his claims — the majority of which were made in 2011 — he says he’s gained a “greater awareness” over the last eight years. In particular, he’s become a proponent of women encouraging men to open up. “If she wants a deeper, intimate relationship, she should ask feeling questions, because if he avoids them, he may not be a good partner later on down the road. As Obi-Wan Kenobi said, ‘Luke, feel your feelings.’ That’s how you tap into the force. He didn’t say, ‘Think your feelings.’”
Likewise, Aslay has gained enlightenment with regard to his belief of man’s intrinsic need to be the hunter, recognizing that as testosterone levels decrease with age and estrogen levels increase, man’s desire for conquest fades. “I’m not a hunter anymore,” he admits. “I’m not chasing.”
These days then, he’s a proponent of women being an active participant in the dating process: If he asks you out, you ask him out next. If he takes you out for coffee, you pick up the tab at dinner. Take turns, just like you would with any close friend.
Yes, men are inherently provider and protectors, he says, but when you’ve been beat up enough, that role becomes harder to maintain. Instead, he’s now promoting a more equal partnership, suggesting, “How about we’re both provider/protectors? How about we’re both hunters?”