Men Need Sympathetic Understanding from a Woman


I have a penchant for taking pictures of water lilies.  Their quiet, breathtaking beauty, their poise as they sit on top of the still water, the reflections around them, are all captivating to me as the scene often speaks to the inner depths of my soul.

Such is a woman who offers a man the rarity of a sympathetic understanding.

A commenter, Buena Vista, whom I respect and admire said recently, (emphasis my own),

Two qualities that I find extremely rare in women, of sterling appearance, habits and spirit — or not: a) empathy for a man; b) noticing and learning the private, profound interests or qualities in a man. These qualities will generally earn mind-lock over a male, who may in fact be so unaccustomed to them that they are initially threatening.

Men do not desire their most intimate partner to be someone who possesses a critical spirit, a harsh attitude, or a bitter inclination.  Despite being displayed as caricatures of men who are without needs, buffoons to be manipulated for a woman’s benefit, or emasculated-feminized men, the real Man desires a woman who is capable of having empathy for him.

The girl or woman who captivates like the poised water lily possesses gentleness, benevolence – loving to help others, genuine kindness, compassion… the traits that embody a sympathetic understanding for men in general.

Yes, in general.  It is insincere for a woman to display these traits towards one member of the human race, while not extending it to others.  The fact that a woman does possess this capability means that she must, and is required to, show her gentleness and quiet inner strength to even to the disagreeable types.

When a woman endeavors to offer her sympathy to a man, she is capable of feeling with him everything that he is feeling and experiencing.  If he is going through a horrible, tough time, she is there and is sympathetic to his trials.  If he is losing his best friend or mother, she is there suffering the loss with him.  She offers him her gentleness, compassion, warm spirit, while keeping her own inner hope inside.  She can stare into the darkness of the abyss, yet be separate and not overwhelmed by it.  His depression does not rub off on her, yet she becomes a light that God’s given to him (indeed, reflecting God’s own light), to help guide him through the darkness.

Somehow, women with our unique beauty and spirit have powers over men.  I’ve written a few posts on the Muse, and how frequently, muses throughout history of the great authors and noble men, were women who – although simple and often even uneducated – had the unique ability to lift the man’s spirits, to propel him through times such as war (in the past).  It is a lost art, the Art of Offering Sympathy, that women today simply do not understand at all.

But rest assured that men do need this from a woman, especially from his wife if he is married.  It is as much of a need as sex is for a man.  Buena Vista (commenter) hit on something very true with his last sentiment:

“These qualities will generally earn mind-lock over a male, who may in fact be so unaccustomed to them that they are initially threatening.”

A woman who possesses those qualities is captivating to a man.  Men want to be understood, they want to know their lover will give them time when they need it, and not rush a process of frustration, depression, or grief.

Some things he doesn’t need

There are some pitfalls us women are very prone to when it comes to trying to offer men our sympathy and understanding:

  • We minimize his problems, encouraging him to snap out of it, move through it faster, count his blessings, etc.
  • We offer him solutions to his problems when he really desires us to reassure him that we still believe and have faith in him

Thoughts and inspiration from The Fascinating Girl


  1. Good post, I totally agree.

    Rather then sympathy however, I think it may be something more akin to empathy. Sympathy can be more closely related to pity, which can rob people of their power. Men need compassion and encouragement, which lifts them up, empowers them. Sometimes sympathy can be about feeling sorry for people, which is true, but it can become demeaning over the long term. Lot of sympathy within feminism, which then creates these chronic victims that drive us crazy. So I just prefer empathy because it elevates people beyond their circumstances.

  2. See, to me, empathy means an ability to understand exactly what they are going through, and when it comes to a man, I actually *don’t* understand all the weird pressures he has growing up – they have so many different kinds of pressures that we as women, will never know. The closest thing that a woman comes to feeling true empathy (in my opinion, and I am young so … who knows) is when a woman finds herself in the single mother position, where she has to fill the role of a man herself (in some ways, not all obviously). But where she is expected to be the bread winner for her children, there is no relaxation from that pressure for her… and other things I can’t think of right now. Thanks Insanitybytes 🙂 Love your insightful comments!

  3. You may have a point there about the age thing, because trying to fully empathize with men can take a long time. When I was younger, I did not understand them as I do today. LOL, that’s not a bad thing, a bit of mystery is quite charming, but I think something we need to teach younger women is how to put themselves in men’s shoes, how to try and see things from their perspective. Perhaps it can never be done 100%, but the closer you can come to empathizing, the better it is for everyone.

  4. I’ve experienced feminine empathy twice in my life. I find it much better for a relationship than sympathy, which, frankly, I’ve no interest in. Understanding is more helpful than what women think of as sympathy, which in the present culture can be awfully rote and superficial. (Think: Ellen DeG. or Oprah or Dr. Phil, and their “concerned nodding” in sympathy at some ridiculousness, perhaps touching someone’s arm. And at church, forget it. I finally gave up and when some stranger wants to hug me out of fellowship and sympathy, I just say “NO HUGS.”)

    I’ve experienced two women who actually noticed who I am and took steps to make manifest this secret knowledge. It could be trivial — how I take my coffee — or it could be profound: I mentioned in passing on a first date who my favorite writer is, and three months later, with no intervening comments on the subject, she handed me a signed, first edition (fewer than 1000 made it into print) of his first novel for my birthday. Trivial or profound, it’s extremely rare. Most people, when shopping for a birthday or Christmas, just make a sprint through Saks. This commoditizes relationships. No man wants to be a commodity with the object of his affections.

    My most prized memories of my most loving relationships are the quiet moments when another human being saw the secret side of me. And demonstrated it. In particular with men, who to function properly in society must present a utilitarian, emotionally reticent face, the value of this cannot be overstated, in my opinion.

  5. It’s important to remember there’s a distinction between sympathy and empathy.

    Women cannot bear to see a Man experiencing negative emotions such as extreme anger, rage, fear, despair, despondency or depression for extended periods of time. You say you want to “be there” for your Man; but you cannot do it. If it goes on long enough, it kills the attraction; it sets off your hypergamy alarms; and subconsciously causes you to start hunting for a replacement Man.

    A woman seeing a Male go through the above will seek to replace that Male immediately.

    Women cannot listen to Men talking about or working out their dating/mating/relationship issues or problems. Women reflexively view a Man discussing such issues as “whining” or “complaining” or “bitterness” or “sour grapes” or “well, you just chose poorly, so sucks to be you” or “suck it up, no one wants to hear you bitching about it”.

    As to both of the above principles; when a Male is involved, ratchet up by a factor of 5 the disdain and repulsion a woman experiences when seeing a Male do or experience the above.

    The conflict that women have with regard to empathizing with men is making a conscious effort to suppress the inherent opportunism Hypergamy predisposes them to. Women can be empathetic and sympathetic, but it’s not their first conscious order, they need to learn it and develop it. Women’s subconscious need for personal and familial security will always supersede any concerns of empathy for a man, and particularly one she’s paired with.

  6. It seems to me sympathy and/or empathy is conditional though base on how the man treats the woman or agrees/disagrees with a woman first. Sympathy/Empathy is something women give men if they deserve it. Like with your exchange with Glenn at Rollo’s– he mentioned his 15 years of therapy and you had a sarcastic comeback to him that certainly didn’t sound sympathetic, but maybe because he is some dude online that doesn’t count as much. What I am asking is should we give men blanket sympathy/empathy, just for being male or does it have to be earned by first treating women in a way that meets our approval?

  7. Sort of like puppies, then. When a puppy acts up and displeases the master, he doesn’t get a biscuit. It’s not like a puppy is entitled to the same humanity as a woman. Puppies inhabit a performance-driven sphere, puppies should never “disagree” with a woman if they know what’s good for them, and they need women to keep them in line and set the standards and rules.

  8. I enjoyed your article, GWDFT. I am new to your blog. I agree with the general premise of your article, but wanted to clarify one point.

    A danger exists in encouraging women to empathize with their men, that the women will do it inappropriately and make matters worse. Many women (IME) have a tendency to “mother.” To soothe men like they would soothe a child. To pander to them as they would pander to a child.

    True, when a man seeks emotional support from his wife, he is not necessarily looking for her to solve his problems or to tell him to snap out of it. But neither is he looking for a “poor baby”. He is looking for her to express (in a loving, supportive way) that she will be there for him no matter what, and more importantly that she loves, respects, and admires him no matter what – and then shows him (usually sexually) just how much she loves, respects, and admires him.

    This is totally different from what she would do for a child. A mother soothing her child hugs him and murmurs to him, then perhaps offers him something to eat. She offers LOVE, but not admiration or respect. A wife who does this repeatedly for her husband will begin to see him as a child.

    A man comes home and tells his wife he just got fired from his job. Woman “A” says “there there, we’ll be fine, it’s ok. I know it’s tough, but you’ll find something else.” Woman “B” says “you are the smartest, most capable man I know (and hopefully she does feel that way). I will stand by you no matter what. I love you, admire you, and respect you.” Then she takes him upstairs.

    The old adage is that women want love and men want respect. There is some truth to that IMHO.

  9. I actually really do feel pain when I read Glenn’s story. I’ve read it before, how his wife treated him, how he made her look him in the eye & say if she loved him (and that she couldn’t ). I hate conversing with him in a way, because it brings out the nastiness in me. He really does reminds me a little of my brother (who can be a real asshole, even admits to it himself). Men like that have a hard time already, and I really do (even with my sarcasm) mean what I said when I said I like him. I do. But maybe it’s because I can’t help but see what he’s been through, and feel his pain at a very deep level.

    After he wrote that last comment to me, I wanted to hug him (lol).

  10. Conventional love model:

    Sympathy / Empathy flow downward from men to women and then to children. Men who understand and accept this never expect empathy from women to begin with. For that man, either a woman meets his criteria for his investment or he drops her for a better prospect.

    Only in a feminized equalist society do men expect in-kind reciprocation from women. As a man, your “needs” are only important to you. Men’s disappointment comes from expecting a balanced return on his emotional investment and relational equity; this is the result of his egalitarian equalist conditioning. It sucks and it’s offensive to men because they’ve believed for most of their lives that there should be an equitable exchange of emotional and personal investments – his woman should have his needs and his best interests in mind in a like fashion that he has for her; this is not and has never been the case.

    In fact it’s a recipe for failure, since it puts men into a position of neediness, and thus forces him to negotiate for his woman’s desire.

  11. Wow. Hell has just frozen over.

    I actually agree with Insanity on this. Men don’t want pity; they want empathy.

  12. “Iron Rule of Tomassi #6
    Women are utterly incapable of loving a man in the way that a man expects to be loved.

    In its simplicity this speaks volumes about about the condition of Men. It accurately expresses a pervasive nihilism that Men must either confront and accept, or be driven insane in denial for the rest of their lives when they fail to come to terms with the disillusionment.

    Women are incapable of loving men in a way that a man idealizes is possible, in a way he thinks she should be capable of.”

    I remember that post in your book… the book is so good, sometimes I feel like I don’t understand what you’re trying to really say online.

  13. I love that BV… the trivial and the profound actions they did. A lot of our marriage are things like that – mostly trivial on the day-to-day basis, but sometimes it’s the small things when it’s a long term relationship.

    “No man wants to be a commodity with the object of his affecitons.”

    “My most prized memories of my most loving relationships are the quiet moments when another human being saw the secret side of me. And demonstrated it.”

    So true. It seems like at the base, it surprises men (or women) when someone has taken the time to really learn about them, study them, and then do something to show that. Women don’t seem to appreciate it as much as men though….

  14. Maybe it’s obvious, but I think it’s worthwhile noting that empathy/sympathy are not things that apply only in *negative* cases (somebody got fired, somebody got sick or injured), but it *positive* ones: let’s say, the husband got to do something he’s wanted to do all his life, but is of no inherent interest to his wife (climb a particular mountain, for example)…then, (a) can she grasp that this is *really important* to him, even though it wouldn’t be to her, and (b) can she derive pleasure from his pleasure at the accomplishment?

  15. “His depression does not rub off on her, yet she becomes a light that God’s given to him (indeed, reflecting God’s own light), to help guide him through the darkness.”

    Just a word about that. Don’t neglect yourself. If someone close to you is actually depressed it’s hard to not let it affect you. A lot of people whose loved ones are sick, mentally ill or suffering in other ways end up needing psychological help. So have friends and relatives other than your husband. Don’t dump all your emotional needs on one person. I know men are advised to do this, but I think it’s appropriate advice for women as well. Being a ray of sunshine in someone’s life is a hard thing to be.

  16. I know you don’t like me,BV, but that husband remark is pure nasty and uncalled for. Mt point came across wrong or it got spun wrong. I am all for unconditional sympathy but based on dragonfly’s comment to glenn, hers seemed conditional. She has since explained and I get it now.

  17. “We offer him solutions to his problems when he really desires us to reassure him that we still believe and have faith in him”

    So often true. I find myself almost unwilling to share any issues I might be going through because, in general, I get ‘solutions.’ Often delivered quickly, as though I should already know that. In fact, I DO already know the answers (well, usually. No one always knows), and what I want is a sense of sharing, of understanding, not dismissal and answers, as though I am unable to deal with things. I’ve struggled with that response myself, many many times, when a friend has something they are dealing with. It’s easy to armchair quarterback someone else’s life, but so much harder to say “I understand, and empathize.” All too often we want to HELP, or give an anecdote that shows how we can relate, but this is the wrong approach, as it almost always feels like you are playing the one-up game with your friend’s problems.

    As a man, with no small share of problems (who doesn’t have them?), what I, and most of my male acquaintances (the ones who are honest with themselves) absolutely CRAVE is understanding. To know, KNOW, not just think and hope, that the women we love understand that we too are human, and prone to failure. To be loved and admired despite our shortcomings.

    This is difficult to find, and all the more precious for it.

  18. I feel really grateful to have a friend in my circle that reacted the way Woman “B” did when her husband lost his job (and he couldn’t find another true replacement for over a year at that).

    And you’re right there is a distinction between being a mother and being his wife when it comes to offering sympathy/empathy. Thanks for commenting, glad you liked it!

  19. I have no idea who or what you are so I couldn’t possibly know whether or not I like you. Save your internet mind reading skills, your ad hominems, and your shaming, for other people.

    I’m not nasty. You know what’s “nasty”? The suicide rate for divorced men is 11x (that’s 11 times) higher for men than for divorced women.

    Your words speak for themselves. All of our words speak for themselves. I don’t think you should offer commentary in places where your words are going to be examined. Especially if your idea is that it’s fun to offer despicable commentary (“Sympathy/Empathy is something women give men if they deserve it.”), that is simultaneously feminist, unBiblical, and confirming of every red pill cliche about the female urge to social primacy.

  20. Thank you so much for your honest comment. I love this part of your comment,

    “As a man, with no small share of problems (who doesn’t have them?), what I, and most of my male acquaintances (the ones who are honest with themselves) absolutely CRAVE is understanding. To know, KNOW, not just think and hope, that the women we love understand that we too are human, and prone to failure. To be loved and admired despite our shortcomings.
    This is difficult to find, and all the more precious for it.”

  21. So, its not nasty to suggest that my husband should kill himself cause presumably I must be a miserable wench to live with? Yet you said you have no idea who or what I am. Your words speak for themselves too.

    I am well aware the suicide rate is much more higher for men. I have been writing for 6 years, with a big focus on men’s rights/issues and anti-feminism in general. Check out my 2010 posts.
    I was outraged when I read the story I linked to here
    I even cussed in my absolute discuss, something I am not proud of.

    I 110% believe that men should get sympathy whether or not they deserve it. You are hell bent on misreading my original comment. I said “it seems” based on the behavior of dragonfly at Rollo’s post. To me, it “seemed” her empathy for Glenn was conditional based on their exchange. I don’t know how I can be any more clear.

  22. Men Need Sympathetic Understanding from a Woman

    Going to have to call shenanigans on this whole thesis. Receiving sympathy, compassion, or pity makes the well-adjusted man’s skin crawl. It is a costless affectation, a way to conceal one’s condescension under the unassailable guise of “wishing the best” for another. It is a veiled opinion of a man’s negative worth, implying that he “need[s]” (your word) external validation and understanding to function properly. A good man doesn’t.

    George H.W. Bush: “Message: I care.”

    Bill Clinton: “I feel your pain.”

    George W. Bush: “It is compassionate to actively help our citizens in need. It is conservative to insist on accountability and results.”

    Barack Obama: The toughest cases “can only be determined on the basis of … the depth and breadth of one’s empathy.”

    This foppish strain of thinking has infected our politics for a long time now. It is rebutted ably by Wililam Voegeli:

    Men don’t much care for pity or understanding. They want performance. Empathy for the people going over the bridge doesn’t keep the steel trusses up — coldly calculated engineering does. Positing this idea of male “need” sounds suspiciously like a woman trying to sympathize with manliness and interpreting foreign phenomena into the feminine terms of sentimentality.

    I dunno, maybe you’re talking about the postmodern sensitive male and not manliness per se? In any event, men take a certain pride going after a goal that nobody else quite understands.

    If helping our fellow man depended on fellow-feeling, nobody would help anyone. The manly estimation of feelings is best expressed in the Platonic structure of the soul: passions (eros) subordinated to reason (logos) by means of the spirit (thymos).

    Sympathy is not the same thing as support; in fact, I would call the former something of a cheap substitute for the latter — i.e., my thoughts are with you (but not my deeds). You don’t have to understand, or even much like a person, to love him. How else to make sense of the injunction to love our enemies?


  23. haha i totally agree about liberal “compassion.” They are nuts, and their “sympathy/empathy” is even nutier… it is very false and is a way of making them feel morally somehow better (self-righteous?) for “being able to BE EMPATHETIC.” LOL….

    But that’s liberal sympathy, (and I hear you on Bush… yuck), but that is not what I meant by saying that men need sympathy from a woman (whom they’re in a relationship with).

    I understand Rollo’s point of men being in a bad position if they “need” it in the way that children “need” it, however, the way a woman cares for children (and thus meets their needs) is totally opposite the way she “cares” for her husband. The point being, he can totally survive without her being there, the child cannot.

  24. Somebody explain to me why empathetic, rational, justice-oriented, women of good character who do not want to use a man for his resources but who simply wants to love and be loved are being passed up for baby mamas looking for a beta provider for their kids with previous men?

    Shouldn’t the child-free good beta men be pairing up with the child-free good beta women so that they can together create a family of their own?

    Why are these men going for baby mamas?

  25. Meghan Trainor’s song is obnoxious and no amount of makeup can cover up her unattractive features, particularly the absence of an upper lip and lack of facial symmetry.

    Instinct tells me a woman who looks like her has no natural right to make such demands and no man would take her seriously. But experience in the States proves otherwise. Not only can unattractive women make demands, they can even have kids by multiple baby daddies and those demands will be met by some good guy chump willing to wife her up!

  26. Honestly, if a woman showed sympathy/empathy towards me, I’d be suspicious. I’m not someone who stands out so if a woman’s doing that, I’d think they’d want to help me them move or something.

    Which has happened.

    I’m a bit paranoid over it so while I’m learning how to be a man, I just limit/avoid interactions with women altogether. I’m worried about being consumed with anger—anger towards past incidents when I was used and anger at myself for being so stupid.

  27. I’m worried about being consumed with anger—anger towards past incidents when I was used and anger at myself for being so stupid.

    I think you are right in feeling angry… that’s the natural response to what you experienced. And you’re wise to know that anger can be destructive if it isn’t expressed well. Anger is part of the phase of unplugging, seeing that you’ve been lied to all this time… I’ll post a link for you later can’t find it now but search at “anger phase of the red pill” to understand that it’s a healthy phase/stage of grief.

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