Love and Relationships: It Is What You Make of It

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Rational Male" by Rollo Tomassi. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the standards men have when it comes to relationships? What do men want in a relationship?

According to Rollo Tomassi, the author of The Rational Male, men aren’t interested in being in a monogamous, committed relationship. However, if a man does decide to settle down, he will do it on his own terms.

Here’s what men really want in a relationship, according to Rollo Tomassi.

What Men Want in a Relationship

What do men want in a relationship?

Below are two of Tomassi’s fundamental truths about what men want from relationships. Tomassi doesn’t prescribe a particular relationship goal for all men. Rather, he shares his insights and leaves men to decide what’s best for them.

Men Don’t Want Commitment

The feminine agenda upholds monogamous, committed relationships as the ultimate achievement in our culture. Men are led to believe that they have one true soulmate and it’s up to them to settle down with that elusive “one.”

(Shortform note: Many areas of our culture promote belief in a soulmate, including films, books, magazines, and television shows. For example, the reality show The Bachelor showcases a single man who dates several women to find his true love. Many religious traditions also bolster the soulmate belief, downplaying the importance of economic or social compatibility in favor of a spiritual connection.) 

This fantasy that men want to be in a long-term relationship, Tomassi asserts, has two effects. First, it undermines men’s natural tendencies to seek out multiple sexual partners without attachment. When they buy into the notion that there is one perfect woman for them, they invest precious emotional and financial resources in pursuit of that one treasure. 

Second, it causes men to desperately hunt for their soulmate so they can fulfill the cultural expectation to get attached and settle down. Consequently, Tomassi says, a man often settles for a woman who is not a good match. And then he invests more into that relationship—trying to buy love, and fix himself or his partner—instead of cutting his losses and walking away.

(Shortform note: How prevalent is the belief in a soulmate, and how many people truly invest their emotional and financial resources into finding theirs? According to research, 73 percent of Americans believe their happiness depends on finding their predestined soulmate. As Tomassi says, this belief can have negative effects. People who believe they are fulfilling their destiny by committing to their assumed soulmate are more likely to lose interest in their partner and give up when any challenges surface in the relationship. To reduce your chances of suffering disillusionment that leads to painful breakups, stop trying to fulfill an unrealistic fantasy. Instead, focus on building an authentic, meaningful connection with a person with compatible interests.)

In essence, the thing men want the most in a relationship is no commitment. Men need to stop believing there is only one perfect match out there for them and that a committed, monogamous relationship is their duty or destiny: They can settle down if they want to, but it’s not a mandate. Tomassi cautions that commitment forces a man to sacrifice his sexual strategy in favor of a woman’s. Thus, the man surrenders, to a large degree, his options and freedom. Men remain sexually desirable well into old age, and they can live happy, fulfilled lives without locking themselves into a committed relationship.

Men Want to Create Long-Term Relationships on Their Terms

According to Tomassi, the second thing men want in a relationship is to set their own guidelines. First, a man must choose a woman he truly cares for. He must resist pressure to find his imaginary soulmate as quickly as possible. Instead, Tomassi says, a man must be patient and gain experience with lots of women so he knows what he likes. Although there’s no such thing as a “perfect” woman, he must choose someone who has enough of what he needs to satisfy him. He should be so passionate about her that it’s worth limiting his future opportunities. 

Second, a man must define the relationship dynamic by establishing his authority and independence. He needs to say no, be unpredictable, and make it clear that he won’t compromise his beliefs and ambitions for sexual access. Tomassi says that when a man sets the terms in this way, the relationship should be effortless.

How to Choose the Right Woman and Create a Great Relationship

Tomassi advises men who want long-term relationships to choose their women wisely, based largely on passion. But what if the choice is down to two equally appealing contenders? Use these tips to make your selection:

  • Assess each woman’s positive qualities. Go beyond looks to consider how loyal, compassionate, supportive, and trustworthy they are.
  • Choose the woman whose interests and views match yours.
  • Choose the woman who gives you space and doesn’t nag. If you feel like she’s too needy, she’s not worth it.
  • Consider who treats you better. Make sure the woman you choose takes your feelings, interests, and needs into account.
  • Trust your intuition. If you’re still not sure after weighing these factors based on logic, surrender to your feelings and go with the woman who makes you genuinely happy.

Once you’ve chosen your woman, how do you then define the terms of your relationship as Tomassi recommends? Not everyone agrees with Tomassi that men should take the helm when establishing the dynamic in a relationship. In Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, John Gray says that men and women need to engage in open dialogue to understand and appreciate their inherent differences. Then, they should keep those differences in mind when deciding together how they want the relationship to play out. Through ongoing give-and-take, both men and women will derive more fulfillment from their relationships.

What Do Men Want in a Relationship?

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Rational Male summary:

  • How women use a feminine agenda to manipulate men
  • Why sex should never be a transactional arrangement
  • Why men don't need long-term relationships

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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