What Is Love?

What Is Love?A reader of this blog shared a Huffington Post article with me last week.

In it, author Sheryl Paul writes:

“We live under a massive cultural delusion about the nature of real love. Propagated by mainstream media, from the time you’re born you’re inundated with the belief that love is a feeling and that when you find “the one” you’ll sense it in your gut.”

And:

“We have mythologized love to such an extent that people are no longer prepared for the realities of long-term relationships. We are taught that it is good not to compromise, not to put up with anything we don’t like, not to sacrifice our own beliefs for anyone or anything. Yet compromise and sacrifice are the cornerstones of marital love.”

Isn’t it possible that the problem isn’t with the opposite sex, itself but rather your expectations of the opposite sex?

She quotes another author, Kate Kerrigan, in an essay she wrote called Marriage Myths, as saying that “the best thing you can bring to a marriage is not the feeling of ‘being in love’, but romance’s poor relation: tolerance.”

Paul, who works as a counselor, says that “it’s a crushing moment for couples when the infatuation drug wears off and they’re left to begin the real work of loving.”

This is all stuff you’ve read here before. I find it pretty much irrefutable.

But for those who want to refute it – for those who say you should never compromise – even though every happy couple in the world will let you know how much they compromise on a daily basis – what exactly are you hoping for in a partner?

And isn’t it possible that the problem isn’t with the opposite sex, itself but rather your expectations of the opposite sex?

In short, great relationships are understanding what you should compromise on. You DON’T compromise on character, integrity, kindness, devotion, and selflessness. You DO compromise on everything else.

Read the article here and let me know what you think I’m getting wrong. You always do. :)

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Comments:

  1. 61
    Ruby

    I’m not even sure what people mean when they talk about “chemistry” on this site anymore, and I certainly don’t believe that “we CAN love anyone if we choose to.” I don’t think there would be much need for this blog, or EMK’s services, if that were true.

    If you’re talking about love – or lust – at first sight, then no, you don’t need that. Do you need to feel some physical attraction and connection to begin a romantic relationship? Yes, I think you do. Do those things need to be mutual? Yes. I’d also argue that the feeling of chemistry and connection that you have with a partner is what enables you to stay together through tough times over the long haul. But the chemistry and connection is something that you continue to build upon over the course of a relationship. It isn’t all there, all at once, from the beginning, nor does it need to be.

  2. 62
    Selena

    Giving Helen an Amen! :)

  3. 63
    Teresa

    Of course you need more than chemistry if you want your marriage to last 30-40 years have a family etc.. I am not looking to get married again so chemistry to important to me.
    I didn’t have that chemistry with my ex husband but he had other traits that I felt would compensate for that lack but alas the marriage ended anyway.

  4. 64
    Serena27

    Amen! I second that! P #59 is so articulate, and knowledgeable!

    I don’t want to say too much here, b/c I’m going to send a proper thank you to Evan later, but I found a man with whom the compatibility is through the roof and I can’t describe how fantastic it feels! I feel so comfortable and safe and peaceful with him which causes such joy to bubble up inside me, it’s an amazing combination of feelings! I’ve let him pursue me, and I’ve just been open and warm and receptive and reciprocated back to him. The only ‘hard’ part is matching his level b/c I’m not used to being treated so well. I am blown away by his “character, integrity, kindness, devotion, and selflessness.” I really enjoy the labour of loving him, and I will only continue to put in the work to grow this amazing relationship.

  5. 65
    lld

    I believe that the key to a lasting relationship IS choosing to love that person every day. It’s not always easy to deal with the day to day but I know in the end… I have a great guy and that whatever the problem is we will work it out and it will pass.

  6. 66
    Helen

    Thanks, Selena #65. :) Partly it was your post #52 that made me rethink this whole notion of chemistry.

    Zaq: chemistry isn’t such a bad thing, and it isn’t limited to physique. Personally I’ve felt chemistry for all types of people: male, female, fat, thin, tall, short, conventionally attractive or not, educated or not, different races and ages. It’s not as rare as you may think. And it’s not limited to sexual purposes; chemistry can also exist between friends, coworkers, even commenters on the same blog. There are many here with whom I’d enjoy having coffee and conversations.

  7. 67
    Fusee

    @P #59: Thank you for your brilliant and eloquent comment. Was well worth its length. 100% in agreement. Evan, you can take this as my “amen”.

    Reading the comments on this blog and not just this post makes me wonder about the possiblity that some people might be completely unable to let go (hormonally and emotionally) of that “immediate chemistry requirement” for giving someone a chance and allow a relationship to develop. It could be that some people will never be able to have a solid and happy long-term relationship because of the incompatibility between their requirement for immediate chemistry in the short-term and the sobering necessity of being able continue without chemistry for a successful long-term relationship.

    We take long-term relationships as something we deserve and/or can naturally do. I think that growing a solid and happy long-term relationship is an art that needs some initial talent and then solid methods and dedicated work. Like every other art, it’s not for everyone because of lack of talent or lack of perseverance to learn, practice, and stay committed through lack of inspiration and competing activities. I would propose that being naturally (or after some inner work) able to get to know someone without needing to feel much “initial chemistry” is one of the relationship “talents” that allow some people to be more successful than others from the very beginning of the process.

  8. 68
    P

    Helen, in some ways you and I are violently agreeing but perhaps coming at things from a different perspective.

    First, I’m using the term “chemistry” in relation to that “high” people receive when their biological mating instinct kicks in. Infatuation. There’s too much confusion about terminology. Lust and love are often used interchangeably. “Chemistry” is modified as “physical, mental, and/or emotional” when in reality most people are referring to that high when they talk about chemistry. That same high that can make you believe you have other compatibility when in fact, you don’t. Emotional and mental “chemistry” is a misnomer…that’s actually better described as compatibility and is a psychological response rather than a physiological one.

    When I write about chemistry as being used as part of a selection process, I’m referring to that selection process in the desire to find a life-long partner and how that in effect is a very flawed mechanism. Of course people had different reasons for entering into relationships long ago. In fact, “life partners” or marriages have only actually been around for the past 4000 years or so. Before then, humans existed in loose polygamous groups…they did NOT mate with a single individual for life. The life-partner concept first came about as a stable arrangement for support. Resources as well as political and religious influences had large influences on this as time went on. There’s no denying that.

    But here’s a reality that few want to think about: That still exists today. Perhaps for different resources and influences, but it still exists. People attempt to form bonds like this because, let’s face it, life is different now but in many ways it isn’t easier. Resource pooling, physical help with life’s chores, and emotional support are all great driving forces behind selecting a partner in life.

    Human beings, by instinct, do NOT mate for life. When we do, its by CHOICE and for a variety of supporting mechanisms. The issue I see is that through our romanticism of the sexual instinct, we make that choice based on an extremely poor determinant–physical “chemistry.”

    You mentioned that you don’t believe “all forms” of chemistry fade. The only form of chemistry being referred to here is that driven by biological concerns, which does affect us all whether we like it or not. The other forms you refer to such as emotional and mental are not “chemistry” per se, but psychological manifestations. The biological “chemistry” fades for all but a very, very tiny and select group of people who are evolutionarily “broken” so to speak. No, you probably aren’t one of them, but yes, they exist. And no, you can’t become one of them…its a genetic abnormality and such people are often prone to other forms of addictive behaviors as the root of their ability to feel that “chemistry” always has to do with an abnormality of their dopaminergic pathways and feedback system.

    The point I was trying to make is that for almost everyone, a point is reached in any relationship where they will not, absolutely will not feel that biological “chemistry” any longer. They will reach the point where they have to transition–where they have to start using their higher brain function–their psychology to drive their desire to be in the relationship. And what people refuse to give credit to and many refuse to even realize is just how powerful THAT is. MUCH more powerful than that “chemistry” people like to refer to. Our higher brain can, and does override our instinctual self…that’s the wonder of being human, rather than being an animal. We can, and do drive attraction based upon our psychological makeup. If you value emotional and mental compatibility above all else, it CAN an does create an environment where this can drive a physical reaction. Why do you think people are capable of having strange sexual fetishes and desires which have nothing to do with biological sex? Because their psychology drives this. This is an extreme example, but its along the same lines.

    My issue was with the repeated messages saying that this biological chemistry is an absolute requirement to starting a relationship with someone for it to work. That’s a CHOICE, and I would hazard to say its poor one to make. If you are going to lose this, which you certainly will, why is it a prerequisite? If it serves to cloud judgement (which it certainly does), why would you use it as a prerequisite to choosing a life partner–assuredly a HUGE investment in life and worthy of a better process and clear thinking.

  9. 69
    Fiona

    P@54 – On another planet where people have no feelings, yep we can all have sex with people we find repulsive and have no issue with it. Back on planet earth however it is insufferable which is why the Victorians told women to “Lie Back and Think of England” because they generally had no choice of husband and hated it. Sexual compatibility is surely as important in the beginning of a relationship as any other kind of compatibility. If it isn’t there, it is a non-starter.

    I have actually never seen Evan ever suggest that you should ignore the fact you find someone downright unattractive. I understand his point as being that attraction is fine just so long as you don’t let it blind you into accepting other traits that you wouldn’t otherwise accept with which I agree wholeheartedly.

  10. 70
    Anonymous

    For the most part, I agree with P #59 (though I also agree with the commenters that say there has to be some level of initial attraction and connection present). Based on #59, I have a question though. If a man tells you he’s had crazy chemistry for you since the day you met, and that, in the past, he’s turned down other women because there was no chemistry… does this mean he’s only going to stick around until his chemistry wears off, and then it’s game over? Should you treat this man as someone who’s put a chemical into his body that will wear off in X months and then he’ll be back to normal, or just assume that he’s a nice guy who’s saying these things because he’s trying to be nice, and won’t bail when chemistry is no longer present?

  11. 71
    Fiona

    P@71 – Where can I sign up for this love relationship? I trust that my partner will be so emotionally and mentally compatible with me that he will be one hundred percent understanding of the fact that we will never consummate that relationship! Actually, I just realised that I don’t need to sign up for that relationship at all because I have plenty of friends and family already that I love platonically and I can always just get some sperm from a sperm bank. Although you make some good points about not being blinded by chemistry with which I agree, to suggest we just a total lack of physical attraction isn’t very realistic.

  12. 72
    Fiona

    P@71 – Where can I sign up for this love relationship? I trust that my partner will be so emotionally and mentally compatible with me that he will be one hundred percent understanding of the fact that we will never consummate that relationship! Actually, I just realised that I don’t need to sign up for that relationship at all because I have plenty of friends and family already that I love platonically and I can always just get some sperm from a sperm bank. Although you make some good points about not being blinded by chemistry with which I agree, to suggest we just ignore a total lack of physical attraction isn’t very realistic.

  13. 73
    susan

    chemistry might be a great starting point but I’m with Anon above. unfortunately chemistry means they want to sleep with you, not have a relationship. The trick is finding both, which so far has eluded me.

  14. 74
    Selena

    “My issue was with the repeated messages saying that this biological chemistry is an absolute requirement to starting a relationship with someone for it to work. That’s a CHOICE, and I would hazard to say its poor one to make.” -P

    Without some sexual attraction initially, people are less likely to want to spend the time together necessary to establish mental and emotional compatibility. The components that go into making a successful relationship.

    Also, people who find themselves in sexually incompatible relationships are often miserable since many humans connect sexual intimacy with emotional and mental intimacy, rather than view it as a reproductive mechanism.

    *I* would hazard to say attempting a lifelong partnership with someone for whom you have little to no sexual interest is a very poor choice to make.

  15. 75
    Fusee

    Fiona #72, no one said you should sleep with someone you are not attracted to. However it is unreasonable to have the prerequisite of feeling attracted to a random stranger in order to accept a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th date, unless you really are addicted to instant physical chemistry.

    Immediate attraction can happen, but it does not need to be there right away for a good relationship to develop down the line. P is right when he says: “Our higher brain can, and does override our instinctual self…that’s the wonder of being human, rather than being an animal. We can, and do drive attraction based upon our psychological makeup. If you value emotional and mental compatibility above all else, it CAN an does create an environment where this can drive a physical reaction.”

    When you meet a random stranger for a 1st date, you may or may not experience instant physical chemistry. If it’s there, great, but you will still need to assess the real compatibility between the two of you. If it’s not there, instead of writing the person off, it might still be worth it to investigate the other compatibilities if you have strong indications that something more is there (from an online profile for example). The problem is that you will need several dates and real conversations (not just movies, mini-golf, and random chit-chats) in order to discover emotional, intellectual, and spiritual compatibility. It will require asking real questions and listening carefully. It will also require gently asking the person to hold off on physical contact even if for them the physical attraction is already there (which is the case for most men). Evan said that if I’m not kissing he does not pursue, and this is obviously his prerogative, but I’m not kissing if I do not know you. And I do not know you after two dates. It takes a little patience.

    If genuine deeper compatiblity is uncovered, physical/sexual attraction can certainly develop from there. Now I’m not suggesting to go out with someone who is really far off your physical preferences, but there again, the narrower your range is, the shrinker your dating pool is. Personally my only need is the man not to be overweight. I’d give a chance to any ethnicity, height, amount of hair, income, etc etc.

    Sadly people do not want to give it time. Others are not able or willing to overcome their need for instant physical attraction, or have too narrow physical preferences.

  16. 76
    Karl R

    Fiona said: (#72)
    “On another planet where people have no feelings, yep we can all have sex with people we find repulsive and have no issue with it. Back on planet earth however it is insufferable”

    Insisting on some sexual attraction is the norm. Even the men that Mia referred to (#54) almost certainly were attracted to their girlfriends/wives.

    What percentage of men do you find sufficiently physically attractive for sex?

    In my circles (work, church, dancing, etc.), I’d guess about 60% of the women (within 10 years of my age) are sufficiently physically attractive for me. Perhaps more. I know some men (and a couple women) who find about 80% to 100% sufficiently physically attractive.

    I could probably expand that percentage (as P indicated), but I’m usually not motivated to do so past about the 60% to 70% point.

    I rule most women out for non-physical reasons (like whether we get along).

    I get the impression that you’re ruling out more than 40% of men based on physical attractiveness. If you’re ruling out 80% or more, I think you’re seriously cramping your dating life with your pickiness.

    Fiona said: (#16)
    “what am I supposed to do when he tries to kiss me? Just put up with it and grin and bear it even though I really don’t want to and am fighting the gag reflex?”

    Furthermore, I’d say that only 1% or 2% of women (in my circles) are so repulsive that I’d need to worry about a gag reflex during a kiss. And it sounds to me like this is a commonplace occurance for you on your dates.

    Why do you find so many people that repulsive?

    Anonymous asked: (#73)
    “If a man tells you he’s had crazy chemistry for you since the day you met, and that, in the past, he’s turned down other women because there was no chemistry… does this mean he’s only going to stick around until his chemistry wears off, and then it’s game over?”

    It certainly could happen that way, but there are other possible outcomes.

    How is the compatability between the two of you? The relationship certainly won’t last if the compatability isn’t there.

    If I was in your position, I’d pursue the relationship, but wait to see what happened when the infatuation wore off. I would avoid rushing into marriage, because I would want to see what the relationship was like after the infatuation faded.

  17. 77
    Zaq

    From women’s responses, I just get the impression that chemistry is not just a physical thing, and the other factors mentioned are playing their part.

    The fact that women set the bar so high, virtually guarantees that they will be forced to settle, and the comments above reflect their dissatisfaction with that.

    Men settle too, but they have more options.
    As the saying goes “Women marry men and hope that they will change. Men marry women and hope they NEVER change”

  18. 78
    Paragon

    Clearly humans have not evolved to ignore their shortterm mating instincts(in privileging physical attraction), so
    why is it that longterm mating concerns receive less consideration?

    I think the answer is because there is always constant pressure against developmental incompetence – which thus ‘fixes’ shortterm mating instincts throughout evolutionary time.

    And since these two competing, time-variant, evolutionary strategies are coevolitionary, long-term mating prevails only with sufficent ecological pressures to temper those shortterm instincts(manifesting through bi-parental advantage – where stable parental-pair bonds accord a competitive advantage to offspring success).

    This explains the declining success(lagged by the rate of information efficiency) of longterm mating, following from a progessive relaxation of ecological pressures to support its evolutionary advantage(given sufficiently prosperous, modern human societies).

    For example, in the past, individual welfare was dependent on more localised support systems that strictly ensured reciprocity resulting in more stable, and productive mate-pairings – where each party was rewarded for their
    contributions, and thus duly motivated to perservere.

    Males received sexual access to females, and females received some assurance of protection, and provision, for both themselves, and their offspring – and this model soon came to soundly outcompete, and displace, the polygamous antecedents.

    Given insufficient, ‘floating’, prosperity, this system was far less tolerant of selfish free-riders(whether in the form of delinquent males, or obstinate females), and thus limited their frequency accordingly, breeding pragmatic expectations.

    Of course, since contemporary developed human populations are no longer subject to the same pressures as in the past, it
    should come as no surprise that expectations have likewise changed.

    Thus, I hear alot of the women in this thread protesting that they can’t fall in love *without* this elusive chemistry.

    But (as others have noted)there are different kinds of chemistry – short acting(lightning strikes, gone in 60 seconds, when the relationship fails – which most women in this thread can attest to), or long acting(the kind that takes, months, if not years to evolve and appreciate).

    And the first one *is*(no matter how much you might not want to believe), poorly correlated with stable relationships(an assumption that is supported by any non-trivial understanding of sexual evolution).

    Unfair, perhaps, but no amount of incredulity, or wishful thinking is going to amend it.

    The long acting chemistry, on the other hand, is never going to be manifestly evident, because it takes *time* to evolve –
    time that can only be accorded by a conscious decision to privilege alternate concerns beyond sexual(ie. short-acting)
    chemistry.

    I think that if someone has an established history of falling into the short acting ‘chemistry-trap’, this is speaking to
    some (justifiably) low confidence of positive outcomes – given prevailing tendencies.

    The problem is one of an established history of prior unsuccessful outcomes, which suggests an alternate strategy, presupposing an alternate outcome.

    In attempting to resolve this problem, merely appealing to blind probability is not strategic.

    Merely being more critical or savvy in your observations of *others* is *not* strategic.

    Choice-sets that significantly *deviate from prior, unsuccessful choices*, on the other hand, *are* strategic.

    This can be a bitter pill to swallow, no matter how much we try to sugar coat it.

    It is well understood in evolutionary game-theoretic terms, as Pavlov(win-stay, lose-shift), and has been experimentally
    validated.

    So, we need to ask ourselves, what is more important, getting our next shortterm *fix*, or improving our longterm prospects?

    True – the human brain is the most plastic organ in the human body – we *can* change the way we think, and we can remap our brain through new experiences, given that we can break symmetry in setting the initial condition that predisposes those experiences.

    But, lacking the same intensity of external forces that once mediated the compromises individuals were compelled to make(with respect to their mating choices) in the distant past, I fear it is perhaps not realistic that – for the more obstinate cases – this compulsion should follow from an a priori manifestation of free-will, per se.

    Thus, I suspect the most such disinclined individuals can do is
    reconcile the very REAL conflict that exists between shortterm and longterm mating, and thus amend their expectations accordingly.

  19. 79
    Fiona

    Fusee@78 – I it is I think perfectly reasonable not to accept a 3rd date with someone that I have zero attraction for. Why? Because by then I am having to battle off physical advances and I am not comfortable with that. I also run the risk of being accused of teasing men or leading them on unfairly so I do the only sensible thing and get out.

    I once did have a one year relationship with a man that I liked that I wasn’t physically attracted to. It did not improve so I know from experience that it is a bad idea and I would any woman even contemplating this that it is a recipe for disaster and certainly not for happiness. I left that relationship because frankly the physical side was sheer hell for me due to my whole body reviling him and I am not going there again. I don’t need a man in my life that much.

    Karl@79 I am. I am physically attracted to a very low percentage of men that I meet – between 1 to 20 percent depending on the day and where I go. I think you’ll find for most females of the species who are not programmed to sleep with everyone they encounter of the opposite sex, this is quite normal. My Mum said that she was the same, my sister is the same, almost every single woman that I meet is the same…on the bright side I do also seem to be hard wired to be faithful.

  20. 80
    Fiona

    Oh and Karl a lot of men in this country have dreadful dental hygiene which doesn’t help

  21. 81
    Zaq

    I agree with P pretty much:
    ‘ through our romanticism of the sexual instinct, we make that choice based on an extremely poor determinant–physical “chemistry.” ‘

    If those ‘love drug’ chasers can at least admit that the above statement is true, that would be a good starting point.

    Many years ago I had this ‘feeling’. It was so intense, it was off the scale!. It made me physically sick. I was a gibbering wreck. And this with someone who barely reciprocated my love.
    What a rush.
    I consider it a once in a lifetime event. I could wax lyrical on its effects. Rather like going from seeing the world in monotone grey, mono sound to full vivid color and dolby digital surround.

    Unfortunately I barely survived the dopamine crash that inevitably followed. I never want to be that out of control again.
    It is possible to love someone without these feelings, but yes, you do feel short changed not to have them a little.

    One day someone is going to develop a pill to reproduce these feelings, because it really is just chemical. There is someone who wants to, and CAN enrich your life now. Wouldn’t you rather take the pill when you are with them ?

  22. 82
    Selena

    @Fiona #82

    You bring up a good point: if one is not very sexually attracted to someone they meet – how much time should they spend with that person to see what may develop?

    There are men who are resentful of women who accept dates with them knowing they are not fully attracted.

    There are men who are resentful women won’t give them more of a chance than just one or two dates.

    There are men who feel they were used for attention and entertainment if a woman goes out with them a few times before discerning they are not a match.

    There are men who do not want to take things slowly for fear of being put permanently in the “friend zone”.

    There are men who expect sexual expression within the first few dates and if it doesn’t happen, they move on. Thus not allowing anything to “grow”.

    Although I am a believer in the possibility of chemistry developing as people get to know one another, it is not a simple thing to navigate. Rather depends on who you are dealing with.

  23. 83
    Mia

    To the men who criticize women for being physically attracted to a far lower percentage of the opposite sex than men are – I don’t think that’s a fair point.

    Men may be physically attracted to far more women, BUT they also appear to be interested in a very tiny number of women for an actual relationship. I mean, a lot of men I know may meet a woman they’re really wowed by once every few years, if that; sometimes it’s only a couple in a lifetime.

    This seems unreasonably and outrageously picky to me, as I’ve described here before; if I’m really being emotionally open and out there, I can meet at least several men a year that I could see myself enjoying a relationship with. So women ARE physically attracted to a small percentage of men at first glance, but often when we’re physically attracted it’s because we like them and could be in a relationship with them, which men don’t feel when for the 60-80 percent of women they have attraction for. It’s very rare that even a good looking guy I just met or am on a first date with I’m going to feel physically attracted to – usually my attraction kicks in by the second – fourth date, sometimes after a couple months as friends, and a lot of women are like that. That doesn’t mean women are overly picky, we’re just slower to warm up in that way.

  24. 84
    Goldie

    @ Fiona et al – I feel so pretentious typing this, but you’re creating a false dichotomy. It does NOT have to be all or nothing. There are many viable options between being a “gibbering wreck” (thanks Zaq, good one) with permanent butterflies in the stomach and being physically repulsed by the person to the point where they make you gag.

    @Zaq #80 – actually, bringing other factors into play is what allows a woman to set the bar lower on the physical thing. I once dated a guy for several months that looked like my late great-aunt, I kid you not — same facial features, build, hair (what was left of it). The first time he suggested dating, my reaction was along the lines of “Are you on crack? No way!” But because he was smart, funny, and a good friend, I was eventually able to develop that chemistry, and was depressed for quite a while after we had to end it. Pretty sure some of the guys (Karl) work the same way when developing chemistry for a woman. Furthermore, I’ll hazard a guess that the chemistry developed this way is less likely to wear completely off after 18 moths.

  25. 85
    Anonymous #73

    @ Karl #79: the compatibility is awesome (or else I wouldn’t be with him — I didn’t have the chemical high he said he did, but he’s grown on me a lot, because we have a great connection.) He treats me like a queen. To make things easier, neither of us plans on getting married again anytime soon. I guess I have nothing to complain about, except that his occasional comments about chemistry make me feel like I’m sitting on a time bomb. Then again, isn’t everyone ;)

    I figure a decent and loyal guy would stick around even after the chemical rush is no longer there… especially if he knows I’ll make it worth his while :) If not, oh well, life goes on.

  26. 86
    Tom

    Good point Mia. I’m probably attracted to about 70% of women enough to sleep with, about 10% to call again, about 5% to have as fwb, about 1% to date, about .001% as a girlfriend, and about .0000001% to marry (like Zaq I only ever met one). So who’s pickier?

  27. 87
    Helen

    Tom 89: “So who’s pickier?”

    If you’re representative of men, then the answer is obvious: men. :) You do realize you put this marriage-able value at 1 in 10 million, right?

  28. 88
    Helen

    Tom, correction: this value is actually 1 in a BILLION women you would marry – I had forgotten to account for the % sign in your previous email.

    There’s only about 3.5 billion females in the WORLD, most not of marriage-able age.

  29. 89
    Heather

    @ Mia,

    I’m a bit late to the conversation but I understand how it feels. I’m almost 37 and I was ready to give up on dating altogether, when I met my current guy. I’d worked VERY hard on myself, stepped back, let the guy take the lead, took NO nonsense from a guy, was really beginning to believe a guy when he showed me his behavior, etc. And I just wasn’t meeting guys who were ready for commitment, or they’d say they were, go out with me a couple of times, and suddenly they weren’t ready. So I was pretty over all the “thanks but no thanks” feedback. I was working really hard to learn from each experience, but it was also becoming emotionally exhausting, and on top of it, getting news that my Mom has cancer, well that was just too much.

    It can feel like a no-win situation sometimes and I totally sympathize with you. And hey, if you need a break from dating for awhile, take it. Lord knows men do that all the time, and nobody judges them or says that they’re “giving up.” I took a short break last summer and really, it was for the best. I’d gotten my feelings hurt over a few guys and was pretty damn angry about it. And it helped me get some perspective, do some more work on me, and just be OK with Heather.

    Hang in there, girlfriend. You’ve clearly done the homework, so be proud of yourself for that. That’s all we can do is hold our heads up, know we’re doing our best, and brush off the guys who won’t commit.

  30. 90
    Karl R

    Mia said: (#86)
    “I can meet at least several men a year that I could see myself enjoying a relationship with.”

    Are all those men who are available and reciprocate your interest?

    I went to a three day training/networking event less than a month ago. In three days, I met at least a dozen women that I could see myself enjoying a relationship with. They were bright, funny, nice and enjoyable to converse with.

    I’m taken. These aren’t potential dates for me.

    But perhaps you can understand why I think “several men a year” is a ridiculously small number.

    I find it that easy to find great women. A few of the women on the blog would claim it’s because women are great / men suck. I would say there’s a fundamental difference in how we perceive people in general.

    Mia said: (#86)
    “Men may be physically attracted to far more women, BUT they also appear to be interested in a very tiny number of women for an actual relationship.”

    Let’s assume that I meet a woman who is bright, funny, kind, etc. There’s is a 40% chance (at most) that I would avoid a relationship because of a lack of physical attraction. For Fiona (#82) there is (at least) an 80% chance that she would avoid a relationship.

    Then again, Tom (#89) has just demonstrated that excessive pickiness can work against men also.

    (Though I’m assuming a bit of hyperbole, unless Tom has actually met 1 billion women who were interested in marrying him.)

    Zaq said: (#80)
    “The fact that women set the bar so high, virtually guarantees that they will be forced to settle,”
    “Men settle too, but they have more options.”

    That’s true. Just considering physical appearance, I have three times the options (or 60 times the options) that Fiona does.

    Furthermore, I would bet that Fiona and Mia are ruling out men for reasons that I barely consider (like income).

    The true irony of this discussion about physical attraction…
    I have repeatedly heard women (on this blog) justify their long lists of “must-haves” by claiming:
    “Men are picky about physical attractiveness.”

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