Your Dream Man May Come Back to Haunt Your Dreams

Your Dream Man May Come Back to Haunt Your Dreams
As a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, I don’t talk about it much, but here’s my dirty little secret:

I LOVE coaching men.

20% of my clients were men until 2010 and I have a completely different connection with them than I have with you.

With you, I’m the man who can translate male behavior to you.

With men, I’m the man who can show him how to be the man that YOU want.

And that’s a lot of fun – and a serious responsibility.

As a dating coach for smart, strong, successful women, I don’t talk about it much, but here’s my dirty little secret:

I LOVE coaching men.

Mostly, I deal with nice guys who need a little bit of “edge” to do better with women. By showing these guys how to tap into their masculine energy and take control, they almost immediately start showing better results in their love lives.

Right now, I’m only working with one man – and he’s the guy who inspired today’s post.

Last week, he was telling me how he had lunch with his “fantasy” girl.

She’s 17 years younger than he is. She’s very attractive. She’s creative. She’s bright. She blogs. She speaks frankly about whatever’s on her mind. I can completely see why my male client – Thomas – is interested in her.

But it troubles me that every week, Thomas brings up this woman and refers to her as his “fantasy” girl. I almost fear that in saying it, it may become true.

That somehow, the existence of this high-maintenance, narcissistic, Gen Y diva will completely skew Thomas from choosing a real life partner.

I ask him to tell me if he ever dated anyone close to his fantasy girl. He shares a story about an exotic, younger European model type that he was with many years ago.

That was the closest to this fantasy girl he’d ever gotten.

“Whatever happened to that relationship?” I ask Thomas.

“She was the craziest, most toxic, explosive, nightmare of a woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.

I smiled. I like it when things play out predictably to make my point.

We promptly went onto Match.com to remove all of the “fantasy girls” from his Favorites list. No more bleach blondes with misspelled profiles. No more Russian models seeking sugar daddies. No more Latinas with tight shirts and tramp stamps.

Thomas is a 48-year-old lawyer who needs a real partner who wants a family.

The man of your dreams is NOT the one of your fantasies.

And when I held his previous experience up in front of him, he knew he was going to make the exact same mistake again: chasing attraction and sacrificing things like kindness and sanity.

So, please, take a second to look at your life and tell me whether you’re chasing an illusion.

Because I’m willing to bet that whenever you had that magic feeling in the past, all it did was allow you to ignore how selfish and toxic he really was.

Please don’t let that happen again.

This reminds me of a quote from a charming movie my wife and I saw a few years ago, called “500 Days of Summer”. In it, the lead character is chasing a fantasy girl, while his best friend has been happily married for years.

When the lead character asks him about his wife, he takes a moment before saying:

“Robin is better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.”

The man of your dreams is NOT the one of your fantasies.

It’s the guy who calls you when he says he’s going to call you, the one who introduces you to his family, the one who is already planning for your future.

Once you get this, the rest is actually quite easy.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Alex

    OK, I read this blog all the time and it has helped so much but now you bring up something that I honestly do not understand about men and makes me crazy honestly. I agree that chasing fantasy over reality is a futile chase for both sexes however, if men are visual but are torn between chasing looks and stability why do men NEVER go for absolute knockouts who ALSO have great jobs, personalities, are loyal, etc. It’s the whole package! Evan, you often use the example of chasing the young hottie but what if that young hottie is actually a great person. I have numerous gorgeous friends who are great people whose man left to chase a “fantasy” that wasn’t nearly as attractive, nice, intelligent… I don’t get it Is the Madonna/Whore thing real for guys? I am very insecure in relationships because I feel as though I can fulfill both roles but men won’t let me – he’s either interested in me as just a “fantasy girl” and bolts when I’m not interested in that or he wants a stable relationship and looks for other things to fulfill his “fantasy” side because now I’m the boring old “reality” Awesome

  2. 2
    Kathleen

    Great article Evan! Its a shame half of the middle aged men my age on match chasing 20 year olds aren’t getting your coaching!!! It will be interesting to hear how your client does ….

  3. 3
    Caitlin

    I actually think this is exactly what I needed to hear right this moment.

  4. 4
    Mia

    That quote from 500 days of summer is really so true! Loved this post. But …

    I’m really curious about the high ages of a lot of the clients whose letters are shared on this blog and are still struggling with such a basic issue. Most women i know figure out by their mid 20s, after years of getting pumped and dumped by exciting players, that the exciting tall hot unavailable guy who will change his ways for us is a fantasy and that we need to be open to good men who want us.

    Most men do take longer to get it — they sort of disappear from the relationship market after college for the next decade, only to resurface between ages 32-35 when they realize the value of a good, honest woman who will appreciate them.

    But I really question how any woman over 30 or any man over 35 could still be struggling with this concept, unless they had never had much interaction with the opposite sex or were living with their head in the clouds.

  5. 5
    Julia

    Great post as always. But I feel compelled to address something that keeps coming up.

    For the past few blog posts, several women in a similar position as Alex expressed feeling frustrated by dating. It seems that these attractive, easy-going, and “complete package” women are finding men who are not ready to commit to them, are only interested in their physical appearance (fantasy), or are not “good enough”, etc.

    I completely understand that feeling. That being said, Evan consistently replies that trying to change men or judging men as a whole isn’t the answer. When in this position you have to change what you are looking for or change how you market yourself.

    Those guys that chase sizzling chemistry and the fantasy woman or decides not to be “all in” the relationship are not worth the time. But that isn’t the truth for EVERY guy. If you are getting duds as dating potentials, realize it’s part of the game, take it as a compliment and go on to the next one. If you aren’t getting any of the guys you want, it’s time to change the game.

    For the young hottie that is a wonderful person on the inside, it’s always better to choose the guy that values the inner qualities (and physical attractiveness) than choosing the guy that on the surface is fawning over you as arm candy without long-term potential.

  6. 6
    Zann

    When you’re right, you’re right, Evan. We all do it & you’d think we’d learn. But I also somewhat agree with Alex (#1) in that it IS possible to simultaneously be Hottie, intelligent, kind, interesting, generous, adult. Or is it?

  7. 7
    Julia

    Reading it over, it looked like I was a bit harsh! I’m not saying that women are to blame for the behaviors of men or how either sex gets mistreated. But we need to choose the right guys instead of ignoring the signs.

    The young hottie with the great personality example has her pick of men. Choosing a guy who may not be HER ultimate fantasy gives her a chance to make a real connection with a partner. The partner will be on the same page and not chasing after something else. This article works both ways. :)

  8. 8
    Karl R

    Alex asked: (#1)
    “why do men NEVER go for absolute knockouts who ALSO have great jobs, personalities, are loyal, etc. It’s the whole package!”

    I know numerous women who meet that description who also have husbands.

    Alex said: (#1)
    “I have numerous gorgeous friends who are great people whose man left to chase a ‘fantasy’ that wasn’t nearly as attractive, nice, intelligent… I don’t get it”

    I think you’re overlooking the actual cause.

    Every person has some negative qualities: bad habits, annoying personality traits, or other “flaws”. In order for a relationship to work, both people have to be able to accept those negative qualities in their partner. And each person has different ideas about what is “acceptable”. (For example, I’ve dumped women because they wanted kids. It’s a dealbreaker issue for me.)

    I’ve broken up with terrific women, because they weren’t terrific matches for me. And when I broke up with them, I didn’t feel that I had to provide them with a list of the flaws that I wanted to avoid.

    Their friends probably didn’t “get it” either, because they couldn’t read my mind.

    Alex said: (#1)
    “I am very insecure in relationships because…”

    You’re trying to make sense of a situation where you have too little information. And the only thing you’re doing is making yourself feel insecure.

    Just accept that you don’t know the cause of the breakup. You’ll find it less troubling than dwelling on imaginary causes.

  9. 9
    Joe

    @ Alex: because no one is perfect. Your “great people” all have flaws. Maybe those men left because they couldn’t handle the flaws any more.

  10. 10
    Tash

    Hate to laugh Evan, but I worked in as an Educational assistant for migrant English programs. I’d get these dudes my fathers age bring in their young mail order brides who were much younger & hotter than myself. They’d learn English, get a qualification, have a child or a 2, get themselves a job & bingo, they’d divorce him & take half or more of his assets in a settlement. The guys would come in all despondent losing what they’d spent years attaining & say ‘I thought she loved me?’. So many times I felt like saying ‘Dude look in the mirror & get real!’.

  11. 11
    Mia

    Alex — dating is not a meritocracy, as frustrating as that is to accept. Men have repeatedly turned me down for less impressive, less attractive women, but I just assume they felt a better click with them. Who knows? Who cares?

    Men – and maybe women too – have almost no rhyme or reason to who they chase, provided the girl meets some minimum requirements for weight, looks, and sanity. There have been guys who bordered on better looking than me, who were more popular, more stable – probably better catches than me by any stretch – and for some reason I just didn’t feel anything for them. (This was when I was a few years younger, in my mid or early 20s, hasn’t happened recently.) And then I went on to date men who were not as good looking, not as impressive – it wasn’t that I was fickle, it wasn’t really explainable.

    I’m very attractive, Ivy league educated, pleasant to be around on dates, and yet I never assume that gets me anything further than the first couple dates. After that, it’s about how two people click, and we have no control over that. Which is why I think the only thing women can do to gain some more control over the jungle of dating is to date loads of men at once and not be exclusive with anyone until their interest is really, really clear and things could be serious.

  12. 12
    susan

    Mia, just to comment on the ever increasing age of people in the letters. Many, myself included, married relatively young (I was 26 which now seems ridiculously young but certainly didn’t at the time it was the national average). i cam out of that marriage rather battle scarred at 41. And now realise just how out of the loop i am, how much more baggage we all carry (whether it’s stored or not it’s still baggage), and how much the world of dating has changed – as well as expectation. at 24 i met a guy, we liked each other, he asked me to marry him i said yes. there was no ‘dealbreakers”, no lists, no dating even. it’s a whole new world, and one i am continually learning about – and not always in a good way – and negotiating my way through. and sadly, there are more and more of us in the age group to share the road with.

  13. 13
    Heather

    Mia, I’m pretty much right there with Susan on this one. I married a few months before I turned 28, all starry eyed and in love, and came out at almost 31, scared, angry and brokenhearted that someone could be so mean and abusive to someone who just tried to be kind and understanding and loving to her mate.

    You’re right about dating not being a meritocracy; just because we’re nice, kind, fun-loving, and laid back, doesn’t mean we’re going to necessarily ride off into the sunset with Mr. Right. I was actually considering just not dating in DC at all anymore; I had pretty much made up my mind to take myself out of the dating pool for a few months, focus on me and my family and best friend, and then upon re-entry into said dating pool, I was actually going to try meeting someone in a different city. As others have said: “change the game if things aren’t working.” I figured I wanted to get out of DC at some point anyways, so what better way to do so, than to meet a man in a different city.

    Dating ain’t for the faint of heart, I will tell you right now. And believe me, if my guy and I don’t work out, the idea of just staying single and getting a dog sounds pretty darn good to me! :)

  14. 14
    Alex

    Julia, Karl, Mia, Joe Thanks for your input, especially Julia #5 – great way to look at things! I guess I was misunderstood though – the issue I struggle with isn’t getting turned down and not knowing why (of course everyone has flaws!) or chasing unavailable men, my primary frustration is when I settle down with a great guy I am suddenly his “reality” and suddenly other women are “fantasy” (in a harmless sense, really, no cheating or anything!) I feel much less secure in a relationship than single and I wish this weren’t the case. Maybe it’s an age thing, I’m young and tend to date younger!

  15. 15
    Mia

    Alex, if you say you are young and date younger, you must be dating men in their 20s. With limited exceptions, that’s a waste of time. I haven’t dated a man under 30 since I was 22 bc men under that age generally aren’t interested in commitment and are flighty and into all the wrong things. Men who are 32 and up often are less likely to discard a woman for a minor error or chase chemistry over good wife material. Evan himself probably would have passed up his wife if he met her when he was 28.

  16. 16
    Karl R

    Alex said: (#14)
    “my primary frustration is when I settle down with a great guy I am suddenly his ‘reality’ and suddenly other women are ‘fantasy’ (in a harmless sense, really, no cheating or anything!) I feel much less secure in a relationship than single and I wish this weren’t the case.”

    In my first serious relationship, my girlfriend cheated on me (with an ex-boyfriend) and ended up breaking up with me (and going back to that ex-boyfriend). I’m rather certain her ex didn’t qualify as a “fantasy”.

    Despite this, it sounds like I am far more secure in my relationships than you are.

    I am quite comfortable and confident being single. When dates/girlfriends decided to break things off to pursue a fantasy (or a different real person), I simply ended up back at a spot where I was comfortable and confident.

    Furthermore, as you get to know someone better, you learn whether you can trust them (and rely on them). My fiancée has integrity. I don’t need to worry about her running off with a real person whom she is attracted to. I certainly don’t need to worry about her chasing some nonexistant fantasy.

  17. 17
    Julia

    Mia, I think it’s a little harsh to say that men under 30 aren’t ready to commit to anything! I believe it really depends on the values of the man, the maturity level of the man, and the relationship opportunities that are available to him. I think if you are not in the same age group then the values and goals will be different and hence the general poor commitment level. Evan has said numerous times that he probably would have passed up his wife, but the key point is that the values he was looking for in a partner changed. He started looking for his complement! If only more men would do that sooner. ;)

    I believe it comes down to ultimately trusting your partner. As Karl said, he knows his fiancée has integrity and feels secure in that. Alex, you need to embrace being the reality! In my mind I have the occasional fling with an attractive celebrity or the really hot cashier at the grocery store, but I want a partner for the real moments of arguing over what to watch for the night. Don’t fret over the “grass is greener” guys. They may just be too young for what YOU need. But for the right guy, reality is a constant and great thing. The fantasy is a head thrill. :)

  18. 18
    Lady K

    Great Post as usual Evan!

    Let’s see, he’s 48, an attorney, works with a dating coach and is single. Umm, can you pass along my email to him… I’m 40, writer, no children, want family, and I live in L.A. Long time reader, first time poster. Thanks!

  19. 19
    Nicole

    @Tash #10
    But, but, but, you’re forgetting all of the men who claim that immigrant women aren’t superficial or spoiled, or focused on looks, and who dream of being married to homely, poor, 50 year olds b/c they are so grateful to be in the U.S.

    Any time a man complains about getting shot down by overly picky “American” women, there is usually a chorus of “go to Asia/Eastern Europe”…

    Funny that anyone would be surprised the eyes of women from those countries work quite well.

  20. 20
    Paragon

    “@Tash #10
    But, but, but, you’re forgetting all of the men who claim that immigrant women aren’t superficial or spoiled, or focused on
    looks, and who dream of being married to homely, poor, 50 year olds b/c they are so grateful to be in the U.S.”

    In my experience, the older a man is, the less likely he is to appreciate that women are just as beholden to visual stimuli,
    as are men.

    To them, the way things were(ie. where women were compelled to ‘settle’ from a lack of independence, and the expectations which followed), is the way things will always be – and its the younger generation of males who had the objectionable task of learning otherwise.

    “Any time a man complains about getting shot down by overly picky “American” women, there is usually a chorus of “go to Asia/Eastern Europe”…”

    And why do you suppose this is?

    I would argue, that these kinds of assumptions(about western vs eastern women) have a basis in very real differences, with respect to the expectations women tend to hold in different parts of the world – differences that can prove more amenable to the prospects, and relationship goals of a significant population of western men(something I can speak to from personal experience).

    Obviously, not all these relationships work, but not all of them fail either.

    And since it *is* a growing trend among western men to expand their search parameters beyond national boundaries, and is likewise *not* a phenomenon limited to the lowest value males(ie. increasingly more *young*, attractive, educated, childless, eligible males are looking for life partners outside the western world), it must be speaking to something strategic across a wide range of men.

    Perhaps rather than demonizing such a dynamic, the critics should scrutinize not only what factors are compelling
    men to expand their search parameters so drastically, but what is contributing to some of their evident success.

    “Funny that anyone would be surprised the eyes of women from those countries work quite well.”

    Again, many men have been socialized with the assumption that women give low priority to male physical attractiveness, and(particularly if they are older) have yet to appreciate just how much women’s expectations have changed over the years since such assumptions were justificed.

  21. 21
    Zaq

    Kindness is the most important trait in a prospective partner, I agree. Chasing attraction and sacrificing kindness to do so, is foolish.
    But then you are left with sacrificing attraction in order to get kindness
    Sorry that DOESN’T work either.
    I know stunningly attractive women WITH beautiful personalities. I know far more physically unattractive women with even uglier personalities (emotionally damaged through bitterness)
    Trying to find someone who has ALL of the positive traits in sufficient quantities AND who sees the same in us, is the problem.

    Oh please note post by Lady K, who seems to think being an attorney and single is sufficient to be attractive.
    St Stephen gets stamped on for pointing out how prevalent this is lol.

  22. 22
    Kate

    But what about the chemistry?

    Evan said,
    “The man of your dreams is NOT the one of your fantasies.

    It’s the guy who calls you when he says he’s going to call you, the one who introduces you to his family, the one who is already planning for your future.”

    …but shouldn’t he also be the guy who gives you butterflies?

    I’m really struggling with this at the moment…

    Kate

  23. 23
    Karl R

    Zaq said: (#21)
    “Oh please note post by Lady K, who seems to think being an attorney and single is sufficient to be attractive.”

    Zaq,
    That’s her description of her dream man, not herself.

  24. 24
    Zaq

    Kate @22
    Exactly. Its not enough if the guy is kind is it ?

    Karl @23

    ???
    She wants her personal details passed on to someone whose main (only ?) virtue appears that he makes lots of money.
    Women ARE attracted to men with money. That is a fact. I merely observe. I understand why they do so.

  25. 25
    Paragon

    @ Zaq

    “24

    Kate @22
    Exactly. Its not enough if the guy is kind is it ?

    Karl @23

    ???
    She wants her personal details passed on to someone whose main (only ?) virtue appears that he makes lots of money.
    Women ARE attracted to men with money. That is a fact. I merely observe. I understand why they do so.”

    I think she may be conflating physical attractiveness, along with other ‘choice’ traits(and thus, making an uninformed assumption) – it seems to the pattern I observe quite frequently.

  26. 26
    Julia

    @ Kate #22

    In my mind, there is a difference between physical attraction, lust, and chemistry. Sometimes the fantasy does not have the chemistry in reality or the long term staying power. But there is a whole other post on that.

    The man of your dreams SHOULD give you butterflies. But it should be because of the combination of perfections and imperfections that exist in his character. It shouldn’t be based solely on physical, or imagined, attraction. The problem for most people is spotting the difference.

  27. 27
    Paragon

    @ Julia26

    “@ Kate #22

    In my mind, there is a difference between physical attraction, lust, and chemistry. Sometimes the fantasy does not have the chemistry in reality or the long term staying power. But there is a whole other post on that.

    The man of your dreams SHOULD give you butterflies. But it should be because of the combination of perfections and imperfections that exist in his character. It shouldn’t be based solely on physical, or imagined, attraction. The problem for most people is spotting the difference.”

    Sorry, but these ‘butterflies’ allude to sensations of intense sexual chemistry, and nothing else(no matter how we might try to spin them otherwise, they are not derived of rational assessments).

    From the perspective of contributing value to a long-term partnership, they seem an unwarranted requirement.

    I sometimes get the sense that, for many, LTRs are viewed as nothing more than a persistent FWB arrangement.

  28. 28
    Zaq

    @Julia

    No, chemistry is lust. Pure and simple. Women in particular want it to be more magical. It isn’t.
    The clue is in the name. Butterflies are all due to our friendly “cuddle” hormone oxytocin.

  29. 29
    Julia

    With respect to both Paragon and Zaq, I would disagree that chemistry is specifically lust based on physical appearance. I have experienced wonderful chemistry in the form of personality compatibility with “instant” friends. But that is based on my own experience and not on hard or scientific evidence.

    Yes, I agree that the butterflies and etc. are sexual attraction. In my case, I’ve had sexual attraction develop NOT based on the physical but on the character. Personality is sexy to me. Those qualities CAN be used to weigh LTRs. You SHOULD be sexually attracted to your partner. It doesn’t (and often shouldn’t) have to be a steamy hot romance. And it shouldn’t be the determining factor but I am from the camp that believes sexual attraction does grow. Despite what cynics say.

    But that works for me. I respect that everyone has their own opinions about their path to love. Magical butterflies and rampant oxytocin included.

  30. 30
    Paragon

    @ Julia

    “With respect to both Paragon and Zaq, I would disagree that chemistry is specifically lust based on physical appearance.”

    That is because we(me, Zaq, and Kate) are referring to sensations with very different basis than the ‘chemistry’ you are alluding to.

    “Yes, I agree that the butterflies and etc. are sexual attraction. In my case, I’ve had sexual attraction develop NOT based on the physical but on the character. ”

    Then we are describing separate phenomenon – one where sensations(and their perceptions) are acutely induced by sensory stimuli.

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