New Video: What Men Should Know about Couple Therapy

I cut this joke from my latest video because it’s cheesy and it detracted from the message, but I still like it:

A husband and wife visited their couple’s therapist. The woman complained that her husband usually wakes up grumpy in the morning.

The therapist asked the man, “is that true?”

The man replied, “No, usually I let her sleep.”

In more important matters, someone over at X asked me what men should look for in a couple’s therapist. Here’s my attempt at an answer. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s basically the same things women should look for.

Book Recommendation: Troubled


Rob Henderson’s Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class will probably stir you to reflect upon your own upbringing. Were you surrounded by love and composure, or was your childhood marked by chaos?

A stable, loving family primes a child to focus on success rather than mere survival. That much is obvious, but some people defy the odds.

Some are born into loving, healthy families, yet they somehow manage to struggle. Give them a shiny new Porsche on the road of life and they will produce a flaming wreck at the side of a dead-end street.

Others are born into unrest and mistreatment, yet they thrive. Give them a rusted-out Pinto and they’ll drive it to the stars.

New Video: How Long Does Infatuation Last?

In a nod to this blog’s origin, here’s an old-fashioned Q&A post. In a departure from that origin, this one is a video.

(YouTube existed back in 2006, but just barely. Jawed Karim uploaded the first video in 2005, titled “Me at the Zoo,” in which he helpfully explained that elephants have long trunks.)

In this video, I helpfully explain that romantic infatuation has a downside. It’s like a rollercoaster that hasn’t passed inspection since the Bush administration: thrilling, but risky.

Check it out if you want a longer answer, including some work by an anthropologist who fired up an MRI machine and found infatuation to share some neurological ground with substance addiction.

Happy New Year!

Imaginary Solutions Require Imaginary Problems

If psychologists have a superpower, it’s a heightened ability to notice what’s missing from a conversation. (That, and we can read minds.) Sometimes what people don’t say is more important than the words they use.

The Washington Post recently published this article on intergenerational trauma. The author said many things about the topic, but she omitted something important: a definition. Nowhere in 460 words did she tell us what intergenerational trauma is.

I Gambled Today

Gatekeeper: The Tactical Guide to Commitment

Maybe you have heard the news: men are dropping out. Word on the street is that men across the globe are unemployed, uneducated, out of shape, and above all, lonely.

I’ve learned to be skeptical of catastrophic headlines. It’s true that many boys and men are struggling for reasons too complex to discuss here, but I doubt being male is uniquely difficult at the moment. The world has always had sharp edges. Men have always faced challenges.

Still, it’s indisputable that many men are falling short of their potential for reasons too complex to discuss here. Meanwhile, women are increasingly choosing the single life. At a glance, it all seems pretty dire for relations between the sexes… but I’m optimistic. Men and women have always valued each other, and we always will.

Do Psychopaths Know They’re Psychopaths?

Have you ever read the official definition of antisocial personality disorder? It describes someone who acts like Tony Soprano: remorseless, deceitful, impulsive, and violent.

Pretty dramatic.

The psychopath next door is different. He’s more like George “it’s not a lie if you believe it” Costanza. He’s manipulative, uncaring, and neither a genius nor industrious.

Psychopathy isn’t a binary trait. It exists on a spectrum like any other aspect of personality. (Psychopathy is variously referred to as sociopathy and antisocial personality. The trifling distinctions bore me. The behavior matters more than the label.)

Over at Twitter, my friend Paul asked if people with psychopathic leanings understand their own nature. Are Tony and George aware of their personalities? Do they possess insight? …

If You Can’t Understand Why Someone Did Something…

Have you ever squared off against someone pushing food you don’t want, and they won’t take no for an answer? They tend to badger people with less-than-compelling arguments like this:

But you haven’t tried MY zucchini!

The more tenacious ones will argue well past the point of incivility. If you ask them why it’s so damned important to eat their hellspawn food, they’ll say something like, “you’ll like it!”

That’s not an answer. It doesn’t offer a lick of insight as to their motivation. They’re just repeating themselves. Why?

We all wrestle with this question once in a while: how do you make sense of a person’s motive when their motive is elusive? …

Nothing Says “I Love You” Like a Prenup

I once heard a rabbi say the possibility of divorce is a positive force in a marriage because it’s an incentive to be well-mannered.

I agree. The urge to be courteous is reduced if your spouse has no escape. At least that’s what Anne Boleyne told me.

However, I would add an important qualifier: the possibility of divorce is a positive incentive for spouses who have something to lose. Not everyone has something to lose. The pain of divorce, and the incentive to protect the marriage, are not necessarily distributed evenly. I think that’s evident in a few statistics. …

The Hidden Workings of “When It’s Good, It’s Great”

Have you ever mistaken a label for an explanation? I have.

I once asked a physician about the annoying little tremor in my hands. I told her I’d had it all my life, as did my father.

“Don’t worry,” she said in a confident tone. “Those are just benign familial tremors.”

“Oh,” I said as if she had shared meaningful information.

It wasn’t until I left the building that I realized she had told me precisely nothing about why my hands shake. She merely gave me a label. …

How to Search for Male-Friendly Therapists

At least once a week someone asks me how to find a therapist who is friendly to men. The question usually goes something like this:

“I live in [North American city, often coastal]. Every therapist here seems to be woke AF. I don’t want to work with someone who thinks masculinity is a disease. Can you recommend someone?”

Finding a therapist is not difficult. In most places you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. That’s because “therapist” is not a protected title in most jurisdictions, so literally anyone can call him or herself a therapist. …