Your Man’s Hidden Agenda

men's agendas in relationshipsWe all have an agenda.

An agenda is not necessarily a hidden, nefarious plan to get away with something at other people’s expense.

An agenda is like a set of goals, or a plan for what we will try to achieve.

Some researchers have proposed there is one basic motivation, one agenda that runs deeper than any other for humans.  They say our minds are designed to figure out the agenda of other human beings.

We are endlessly curious about other people’s intentions…their agenda.  It’s a deeply rooted motivation.  It’s a hard-wired part of the human psyche.

Actors do a great job of showing scenes that allow us to guess the agenda of a main character in a movie or television show.  But as just about anyone will tell you, the book is always better than the movie.  Why?  Because it satisfies our deep curiosity about the agenda of other human beings in a way that is not possible with any other medium for telling a story.

In a book you actually get the opportunity to learn the inner-most private thoughts of the main character.  That is what allows us to vicariously experience the story as though their world was our own.

Why would our genetics cause us to be so tuned-in to the motivations of others?  The researchers believe it is all about success and survival.  Those who can read between the lines to understand the motivation and intentions of others have an advantage in all aspects of life.

However, our ability to understand someone else’s agenda is anything but perfect.  Our minds are sophisticated at generating guesses, but we often guess wrong.

A common cause of relationship failure is wrong guesses.  We make an assumption about the agenda behind the actions of a lover and end up generating all kinds of problems.

One of the things you can do to increase your success with romantic relationships is to help your partner make better guesses about your agenda.  Doing so has two simple steps.

1.       You look at the relationship from his perspective.

  •  You ponder the various ways he might perceive your agenda for the relationship or an area of interaction that has become important for the two of you.
  • You specifically look for possible misinterpretations he could feasibly make based on your actions and based on what you do and do not say aloud.

2.       You reveal your agenda to him through simple verbal expression of your desires, your perspectives, and your hopes for the future.

  •  Without drama or preamble, you speak about your true intentions on some topic that matters to the relationship.
  • You dispel any assumptions he may have regarding alternative agendas (the ones you realized he might have in step 1).
  • You ask him if he has any questions (to ensure he does not think you are leaving something out due to a hidden agenda).

A lot of heartache can be avoided with this simple two-step process.  Some of you may wonder if there are situations where this advice does not apply.  There certainly are.

men's agendas in relationshipsYou do need to keep a certain level of mystery and intrigue in the relationship to maintain romantic tension, which is very healthy for your relationship.  However, for the vast majority of situations in which you are building romantic tension, it can be done with playful topics and playful situations that do not contain room for potentially disastrous misinterpretations.

More often than not, honesty and clarity build healthier, longer-lasting relationships that are more satisfying to both partners.  I hope you will take this concept to heart and use it in your relationship.


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22 thoughts on “Your Man’s Hidden Agenda

  1. Li said:

    I have read all your four books and many advices. Compare with other website or coaches, I found your guidances are most positive in life and deep in knowledges for me to learn. I would like to apply your guidances to my LDR which is in trouble this moment, because I were too anxious when he was pulling away under work stress, before I started follow your advices. I were too open and too often wrote my true inner thoughts, but may be too much of “chasing”? What can I do to open up the comunication from distance? I have contacted private coach Kenya. She give very good advices, but this LDR and some mistakes I made before, may result in his give up or dating someone else. Shall I give up on trying to communicating and move on with life?

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi, Li. Perhaps you don’t have to choose one or the other.

      We have a saying here that goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” (in case you drop it and break them all).

      In other words, don’t put the future of your love life in the hands of one person when the odds of that relationship working out seem to be small. At this phase of building beautiful relationships, it’s important to keep lots of doors open so that you can move with the unfolding forces of life that bring you into the right kind of relationship.

      Perhaps this is a situation where it’s best to leave the door open to see what happens with this man, while reinvesting most of your energy building new relationships and meeting new people.

  2. Tanya said:

    Hi James- I love your blog it’s been a great source of information for me. I understand what you’re saying in this post but the part I have trouble with is seeing it from his point of view…I’m me have been me since birth I don’t quite know how to turn it around and see a mans perspective I think if I could I’d not be a single mother with no healthy relationship prospects…any advice on how to practice putting myself in his shoes? Not only that but the man I want to do this with keeps me at arms length as though he feels I have ulterior motives and I genuinely do NOT but I fail in my attempts to show him that I am trustworthy and not out for anything other than to enjoy his company. Seems the more I tried to show him that the more it scared him off…how do I do this if he is extremely guarded with me now? I should also mention I have given up on trying with him altogether at present…

    • James Bauer said:

      Hey Tanya. It seems to me that you need to learn more about his agenda. You’ve made your agenda clear, but you struggle to understand what he wants from his interactions with you. That’s where you need to focus your attention…learning what he wants. If he becomes guarded at the prospect of simply enjoying your company, what does that tell you about his agenda for the relationship? Ask him. And read between the lines. Then ask if you got it right. But in the meantime, seek companionship elsewhere. Don’t wait around for a guy who doesn’t seem to want more of you in his life.


  3. Susie said:

    What do you do when you find yourself in a 15 year old relationship to a person with serious physical and mental issues and a lot of damage dating from childhood (his father committed suicide) who assigns a completely false agenda which you don’t have and would even think about having?

    I’m divorcing, but would really like just once be able to sit down at some future point and ask him why he ever imagined the things he’s accused me of. I loved and still love him with all my heart and soul, I have never looked at another man, never complained and really thought myself the luckiest woman alive until these unresolved issues from his past re-surfaced. I suggested we try to get help to resolve them, but that was called a ‘betrayal’.

    If I could think of one single thing I’d done to hurt his feelings or undermine him, I’d willingly apologise, but honestly James I can’t. I’ve been a devoted wife and the thing that really hurts is losing his friendship, not the romantic aspects of our marriage, nor the financial security. How I miss all our little jokes and this wonderful person who’s disappeared. I just want an explanation to find closure. Maybe sometime I’ll get one, but I’m back on that lonely trail. I sometimes think there’s a glass wall between me and the rest of the world, where normal couples do the shopping, go on holiday, cook mow the lawn. And I’m shut away. It’s hell without him.

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Susie. Sometimes people want to believe something so badly that they don’t care whether it matches with reality. I’m sorry he has put you through this. I understand the desire for closure…but he seems bent on hurting you. You have already invited him to work it out, even with professional help, and he has refused, so the problems are now entirely in his hands. He won’t let you fix them.

  4. sky said:

    I agree with Deanna
    Show any interest and hes gone over the hill and far away.
    My experience is that men have a very simple agenda. They want uncomplicated, no strings attached, sex available, with a hot, fit, independent woman, (preferably who wears black stockings and heels). They are prepared to lie (say what they think a woman wants to hear) to get it ( or failing that, ply them with alcohol to get it). The fact that they are married doesn’t seem to be an issue either.
    Call me cynical and jaded. I am prepared to change my mind if you can show me a man that behaves differently. Or even tell me where I’m likely to meet one.

  5. Naxy said:

    Hi James

    Thank you very much for all the advice, I really enjoy them. James I really need your help in this one. I’m with this man that I love so dearly. But I think I’m being intimidated by his strong personality, I’m introverted so it becomes difficult for me to open up to him, I know what I need to do but doing it becomes a challenge. Is normal/ possible for one to Love someone that you can’t be your true self around? What you are saying is true because at the moment he has the wrong interpretations and misconceptions of me and my intentions. How do I set the record clear, how do erase these misconceptions about me in his mind so that he can know the real me? Please help James I’m desperate!!!!!

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Naxy. That is a question that would be better addressed with some extra detail through the private consultation option for speaking with one of our relationship coaches.

  6. Tanya said:

    I like this a lot! We can learn this (through trial and error) but I would rather learn to be better and stumble a bit while trying – I think I would be forgiven for this. We are so often about “what’s in this for me”? No wonder we learn to view others in the same light but we need a change in perspective and you nailed this brilliantly – thanks for your insights. I feel better equipped.

  7. Karen said:

    Since my divorce 10 years ago I have not dated a man once. I am a mother of two boys, 114 years old and the other 10 years. Now I have found the man of my dreams, I feel that at the moment a relationship that has only been four weeks, has grown so strong and deep. Everything feels so perfect that we have been waiting for a pin to drop.
    I am worried that the more he finds out how boring my life really is, he will be scared away and wonder what he’s picked up.
    I do not know how to make myself seem more attractive by increasing passion or suspense as you say. Because my life never involved any romance I have been out of touch for so many years please advise on how to keep him intrigue in me wanting me more, and desiring me more please help

    • James Bauer said:

      Karen, right now you are in a phase of your relationship where nothing needs to change. Be you. He is attracted to you.

      Don’t allow yourself to leave the present moment when you are interacting with him. In the shared present moment you have found a blissful relationship where you are both fully present. Turning your thoughts to fears about the future (like him eventually losing interest in you) will only bring about the very thing you fear. I explain this concept extensively in my What Men Secretly Want course if you’re interested to learn more.

  8. Vicky said:

    It’s a nice aspiration but I’m afraid it would only work in an ideal world. Very often the hidden agenda is also hidden from the person having it. That’s what causes the real confusion. We all have some subconscious desires which we are not aware of most of the time, they may come up unexpectedly when situation triggers some memory, and if we consider them unwelcome (for whatever reason like fear of being judged or needy, or just having needs that seem to conflict with each other) there’s no way we would communicate them to our partner in a relationship when the stakes are high. In some cases the behaviour is the only, and best, indication of such agenda, we can’t rely on verbal communication: would you trust a person whose words don’t match his actions?

  9. Kerrie Gardner said:

    I recently was set up by friends with a mutual friend. I was told he had a crush on me and was interested in seeing me. He lives with a good friend of mine so we do see each other regularly , he is a nice guy, quiet, funny, a little shy and has a good job. . We ended up going to the pub just hanging out like normal then ended up having dinner together. It was great. He messaged me through Facebook as we never had exchanged phone numbers saying he had a great time and we would catch up the next day. We did and again had a great night. Over a 3 week period we went out together within the group a few times but the group could see more was happening between us. He asked me to help him out with a car issue even though his mate said he could do it which I thought was odd and he asked me to go the beach with him.
    I decided to ask him his intentions he told me that he wasnt after a relationship just wanted something casual. I told that I wasnt interested in him a casual relationship and and new it wasnt going to go anywhere as we still hadn’t exchanged numbers but I want to remain friends. He said he understood thanks for my honesty and at the very least we would be friends then gave me his number. He seems to be upset now and won’t come out with the group. What is his problem?
    Was it too soon to be asking his intentions?
    I do like him but I wasn’t going to get allow myself to get hurt. My friend thinks I sabotage relationships because I’m scared.

    • James Bauer said:

      Kerrie, it is my impression that you did everything right and saved yourself from a long, drawn-out relationship with a guy who did not want what you wanted.

      Is it possible he would change his mind and want a real relationship with you if you persisted? Yes, and maybe that’s where your friend is coming from. If you have a lot of other choices, you do not need to take the risk of dating a guy who openly states he is not looking for a relationship.

      • Kerrie said:

        Hi James….thanks for replying..
        Firstly NO I don’t date very many guys, I have quite a few female and male friends that I will go out with occasionally but generally I don’t date.
        Now I am in two minds about pursuing him, I do believe that if a guy is interested in you he will ask you out, this is why I don’t date, most are friends and we just all hang out. I will not date within the circle of friends. I made an exception with this guy as he is lovely and I was led to believe he wanted more than just a ‘hook-up’.
        I am very confused about what to do or if I should do anything. Everything I read tells me that he should pursue me..But what happens when the guy is really shy does those same rules still apply?

      • James Bauer said:

        When he is shy AND you do not see him actively pursuing other women, I think you should consider pursuing him a little to see how he responds.

  10. I have found your posts to be quite helpful and timely.
    Yes, of course you want to have a bit of mystery, but we also need to put ourselves out there – show a little vulnerability in order to allow your partner to get to know us and to deepen the connection. But it is a two way street. You must expect your partner to do the same.
    There was a point in my relationship where I felt frustrated and insecure because I felt that my partner was holding back, so I backed off for a while. During that time-out, we both did a lot of soul searching and when we did get back together we made it a point to open up to each other more and talk about our feelings and what we wanted from the relationship. This made our relationship so much stronger that we are now better able to deal with the inevitable conflicts that arise. We value each other too much to allow petty issues to hurt our relationship. Instead, we deal with them openly, knowing what we both want and don’t want to happen.
    Our relationship is not perfect by any means, but it is better now that we are more open with each other.

  11. Marla said:

    I so like this…in reverse 🙂 It would be so nice if a man did this as well : )

  12. Let him know your intentions???? That leaves SO much open. What does he want your intentions to be. Because last I knew, to let a guy know you like him in words, makes him BOLT. Leave mystery?? HOW? This tells you what to do but doesn’t explain how.

    • James Bauer said:

      Yeah. You’re right, Deanna. The posts I send out to the world end up being pretty vague sometimes because the specifics for any given person will not work with one-size-fits-all advice. Some advice works that way, but not this specific kind from this article. That’s why we offer coaching for specific situations for those of you who would like someone to analyze the situations with you and provide a second mind to process specific action steps along with you. See our “catalog” if you would like to learn more about the relationship coaching services we offer to interested readers.

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