Being Amazing May Hurt Your Chances To Find Love

No one wants to be merely average.

And, if you ask around, few of us think we’re average. In fact, I’ll bet that you feel you are smarter than average, kinder than average and better looking than average.

But what you may not have considered is that having high self-worth can actually be detrimental to your chances to find love.

It certainly was for me, your humble dating coach.

I tell my story – and illustrate how it reflects on you – in the first chapter of my book, “Why He Disappeared – The Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever.”

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have self-esteem, especially when it comes to dating. Self-esteem carries us through tough times – through loneliness, through rejection – and allows us to keep getting out there even when things are bleak.

Moreover, when confidence comes with true self-esteem, it proves to be an extremely attractive quality. According to the Harlequin Books Romance Report (for which I was a spokesman in 2006), both men and women feel that confidence is the most important attribute in a partner. Which is why it pains me to report that confidence has a serious downside as well.

The downside of confidence is that it’s only a hair’s breadth away from arrogance. And if you think you’re better than others, it will inadvertently come across.

It’s not only cute, Ivy League investment bankers that give off a whiff of arrogance.

The downside of confidence is that it’s only a hair’s breadth away from arrogance.

It’s the vegan who can’t stand meat eaters.

It’s the born-again Christian who looks down on non-believers.

It’s the Democrat who thinks all Republicans are evil.

I’m not singling out those people, per se. After all, we all do this, to some degree – mainly by putting our own beliefs up on a pedestal. Basically, most people’s worldviews are: “If you agree with me, you’re right; if you disagree with me, you’re wrong.”

Except that’s not how the world works. People don’t want to be with someone who makes them feel “wrong.”

I couldn’t be with my wife if she were always reminding me how I’m going to hell for not being Christian.

She couldn’t be with me if I were constantly harping on her to get a more lucrative job.

This confidence (which is actually narcissism) comes out of insecurity. Instead of accepting the fact that other people have different beliefs, most of which are perfectly valid, you expect your dates to be in complete lockstep with you.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had a client – a bright, kind, lovely woman – tell me that her partner had to have certain beliefs in common to be her husband.

You don’t need a clone.

You need a PARTNER.

You’ve been in relationships before. Isn’t most of your time spent talking about what you’re going to eat, where you’re going this weekend, what’s happening at work, how much money you’re saving, and all the things you’d like to do in the future? When you have kids, I’m pretty sure they’re the dominant topic of conversation.

You know how much time we spend talking about the Iraq War? Pretty much none.

So to stake your relationship – which is more dependent on kindness, consistency, values and long-term goals – on his belief about what happens after you die, or about the merits of big government – is incredibly shortsighted.

My relationship survives just fine when I go on some liberal rant to my wife. She doesn’t have to agree with everything I say in order to love me.

She loves me because I put her needs first, because I’d do anything for her, because I make her laugh, because I protect her. If she got rid of me because of politics, religion, or my inability to run a 5K, I predict she’d be making a big mistake.

I can’t stress this enough: You don’t need a clone. You need a PARTNER.

So while it’s normal to want a partner who’s on your exact wavelength, it is, by no means imperative. In fact, if you look at relationships in your past, you may just find that the man who was too similar to you did NOT make a good fit for your life.

To give you a stark portrayal of how your desires may be not only detrimental, but unrealistic, I’d like to ask you to do this simple math exercise. So, please write down your answers so you can do the multiplication…

What percentage of men is attractive enough to date?

What percentage of men is intelligent/interesting enough to date?

What percentage of men is emotionally available enough to date?

What percentage of men is financially stable enough to date?

What percentage of men do you “click” with on a date?

Finally, what percentage of men feel that YOU are attractive, intelligent, emotionally available, financially stable, and compatible?

When you go through this exercise – and multiply those numbers together – you’ll see that, by your standards, almost NOBODY qualifies for a date with you. .0001%, maybe.

But wait, there’s more!

See, amazing and unique women often aren’t content finding a mate who is in the .0001 percentile. You still need to do a little more filtering beyond being cute, smart, successful, available, and having chemistry. For example:

Frankly, I think you’re lucky if you find someone who PUTS UP with your obsession.

…it’s unfair to ask them to feel the same as you feel.

“I’m a huge dog person – I have three of them – and the man I’m with has to feel the same way about animals.”

“I’m a triathlete and wake up at 5:30am every day to train – and I want to be able to share my passion with my girlfriend.”

“I’m an indie music freak. There’s nothing worse to me than a guy with middle of the road taste in music.”

Factor in these kinds of things, and it becomes nearly impossible to find love. What percentage of men has three dogs? What percentage of women wants to wake up and run 5 miles? And why in God’s name do you have to share these interests anyway?

Frankly, I think you’re lucky if you find someone who PUTS UP with your obsession.

And that goes for anyone who does something in the extreme: work, travel, spend time with family.

It’s a lot to ask for someone to be agreeable; it’s unfair to ask them to feel the same as you feel. If you DO find the person who is an extreme dog person, then you may have to accept the fact that he’s may not be as financially stable or attractive as you’d like.

Relationships involve trade-offs.

Compromise isn’t just for “other” people who have to put up with you.

And if you make EVERYTHING a deal-breaker, you can’t be too surprised when you’re still standing alone.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Gem

    Evan,

    “So to stake your relationship – which is more dependent on kindness, consistency, values and long-term goals – on his belief about what happens after you die, or about the merits of big government – is incredibly shortsighted.”

    Gotta disagree here. You are putting profound religious and political beliefs in the same category as hobbies, music appreciation and the love of pets. If relationships are dependent on “values,” as you say someone who takes their religious belief seriously as in “Truth” and not just a social feel-good endeavor, most certainly SHOULD choose someone like-minded. Political issues are often are value-based as well.

    I agree wholeheartedly that not everything should be a deal breaker but just because you and your wife don’t consider religion/politics necessary ideals to share doesn’t mean others who do are “shortsighted.”

    I say pick 5 must haves and seriously flex on the rest, but it’s up to each person to decide which things are frivilous, not the dating coach.

    1. 1.1
      Goldberry

      I agree, Gem. Especially if you want to raise your children with certain beliefs and to be united as a family in that way. For some people that’s not important, but having extremely divergent religious or political views in one family communicates to children that the difference isn’t important. For some political issues I could accept that, but not religious ones.

  2. 2
    Francesca

    Hi Evan,
    I recently re-discovered your site and just ordered and read (last night) your ebook WHD (very good, btw, but I think I need to read it a few more times to let it all in). This is my first time commenting.
    This post resonated with me, and I think I sometimes do or can be a little of both: compromising and uncompromising when it comes to the “little” stuff. Example: I’m a foodie. It’s a big part of how I socialize and cooking is how I show love and appreciation for people. I also love animals. If I meet a guy who’s not so into cats, but digs dogs, I can deal with that. But if he doesn’t so much care about food, even if I make it for him, that’s a little harder for me to accept b/c it makes me feel unappreciated or not “seen.” Am I being unfair to this otherwise good and good-for-me guy?
    Not sure that made sense. Just curious what your thoughts are.
    Thanks :)

    1. 2.1
      Cat

      Francesca, #3, If he’s truly an “otherwise good and good-for-me guy” then you should keep him! Learn to accept that he’s not a foodie like you and won’t make the big deal over food that you’d like him to. However, you don’t have to give up your enjoyment of cooking, so make sure you invite friends over regularly who will give you the oooh’s and aaaaah’s that you need. (Hey, I get it, I love to cook, too! A cook without an appreciative taster is like a writer with no readers.)

  3. 3
    Evan Marc Katz

    Thank you, Gem, for deftly illustrating the problem with religion and any other sort of belief that impedes one from finding love. As long as my wife and I are good to each other, it really doesn’t matter that I’m an athiest and she’s a believer – unless she MAKES it matter. And if she MADE it matter, she’d be missing out on a pretty decent husband. As such, ALL dealbreakers are completely arbitrary. If you make height matter because you’re a 5’10” woman, that’s fine. Just know you’re cutting off over 50% of the population. Religious people of any stripe who insist that their partners believe as they do are doing the exact same thing under the guise of “values”.

    Listen, if you go to church every Sunday and tithe 10% of your money and he doesn’t, that’s HABITUAL, and could be a dealbreaker. But beliefs? Who cares? I believe in higher taxes and my wife believes in lower taxes; I couldn’t think of a stupider thing to break up a couple.

    By the way, if you insist that a man has inferior values because he doesn’t believe in, say, an afterlife, you’re right, you probably should find a guy more like you – narrowminded and narcissistic enough to think that there’s something wrong with someone who isn’t in complete lockstep with them.

    Marriage is all about agreeing to disagree and loving each other anyway.

    I can’t tell you how foolhardy it is to marry because you both love skiing or Coldplay or, yes, Jesus. Because none of those are true substitutes for kindness, compatibility, ways of dealing with money, ability to fight and make up, loyalty, honesty, and humor.

    1. 3.1
      Goldberry

      I agree, Gem. Especially if you want to raise your children with certain beliefs and to be united as a family in that way. For some people that’s not important, but having extremely divergent religious or political views in one family communicates to children that the difference isn’t important. For some political issues I could accept that, but not religious ones.

      And Evan, you and possibly your wife must be relativists. Many people are not and don’t see a need to be. In fact their religious beliefs are *more of a priority* to them than finding love… Why should they be swayed by someone else’s insistence that their values are out of whack? They are focused on eternity instead of just getting what they want now at any cost.

  4. 4
    lawyerette

    As someone who is the product of a mixed-religion, mixed-race marriage, I will jump in and say absolutely religion is something you can discriminate on for a marriage partner. I think it’s easy to assume that it is not a big deal day to day, because it really doesn’t matter for most people until children enter the picture. If BOTH spouses are okay with not giving the children any religious instruction, then it can work. If they agree to let one religion take the lead, then it can work. But what happens when Mom wants the baby baptized and Dad thinks its stupid/pointless? Or doesn’t want it? Then it becomes a huge issue.  Same for Sunday school, or parochial schooling.

    I think Evan thinks about this the wrong way because he’s not religious and is discounting the fact that religion is a way of ordering the lives of believers. Ie, it’s not just something that you think or feel internally, but is the way you LIVE. If you let Christ or Buddha or Mohammad or whoever order your steps, then it’s going to be difficult for you to share a life with someone who is not obeying those same orders. If a marriage boils down to a shared life together, then that life has include religion or not. Religion is a HUGE component of long-term compatibility.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      That’s exactly what I said, Lawyerette. If your life revolves around church, mosque or temple and all of the rituals involved, it could be a dealbreaker. If it’s just a belief, however, you’d be wise to live and let live.

  5. 5
    Francesca

    Thanks, Cat! That makes a lot of sense…especially how you related it to being a writer with no readers. I know that your mate shouldn’t and can’t provide for your every need and that’s why you have girlfriends and all different types of friends, but I guess I keep thinking how much richer life would be to be able to share and appreciate something that’s so important to the other person’s life and/or personality. By the way, there is no guy…it was just a hypothetical situation. And, all other things being good, I don’t believe I would dismiss the guy for this one thing. It might tip the cart if it were one of a bunch of things that we couldn’t appreciate each other for.
    This is a really good discussion by the way. I think it’s highlighting the need to clarify what we mean when we say “compatible”…where do you draw the line of x, y, z means we’re compatible, but a, b and c don’t matter. It’s not about being clones, it’s about valuing what the other person values, to an extent. How much do you need to have in common? What do couples’ conversations consist of if they don’t have things in common?
     

  6. 6
    Goldie

    @ lawyerette #4, as someone who’s been on both sides (Atheist -> Christian -> Atheist-leaning Agnostic), I completely agree with you that “religion is … not just something that you think or feel internally, but is the way you LIVE.” But people change their religious views every day. My local meetup group is full of atheists who used to go to church and pay tithe. Therefore, I still would not advise to choose a partner based on that. Instead, I’d suggest to look for an open mind and tolerance of other opinions (provided, of course, that you’re an open-minded and tolerant person yourself). This way, no matter how both your worldviews change in the future, it won’t pull the rug out from under your relationship.
     
    From my short dating experience so far, the first guy I got serious with after my divorce, had views and interests 100% compatible to mine. But his outlook on life was way different – my glass is half-full, his is half-empty. Things fell apart very quickly between us, even though we listened to the same music and voted for the same people. I then started dating an old friend of mine. On our second date, one of us accidentally mentioned politics and that was when we found out that his views were complete opposite of mine. So here I am with a great guy that I’ve known for ten years and always had an amazing connection with – but he voted for McCain. What to do? Right there and then, we made a pact not to talk about politics, and stuck with it the whole four months we were together. We both had a great time, and ended things for reasons not related to our incompatibility.
     
    I think people’s personalities and general attitudes/outlooks are a bigger part of long-term compatibility than the likes/dislikes/beliefs they happen to have at the moment.

  7. 7
    P

    I don’t know, Evan. Sometimes I love your advice and other times you baffle me. Are you saying that beliefs don’t matter at all? For example, if I support gay marriage, and want to raise my kids with someone who not feels the same way but is also going to accept our child should they be gay… I’m being silly and narrowminded? I don’t think things like that are negotiable. I don’t care about my partner’s views on taxes, or abortions, or war. But I do care when it comes to them being adamently opposed to someone because of their sexuality. Or color or race, or anything else. How can that not matter? How can I “live and let live” with someone who thinks my gay friends and family members shouldn’t be allowed the same rights they have? I get that it’s really irrelevant whether we like the same music or movies, but to say core beliefs don’t matter.. I don’t know, I just have to disagree. I also don’t think that’s being stubborn or not compromisable to want to date someone you’re attracted to, who’s also emotionally stable and intelligent and that you click with. If I have to spend the rest of my life with someone, we HAVE to click. Why get married otherwise? Because the guy was a good option? That doesn’t sound right.

    1. 7.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Okay, P. I’m going to play God for a second. I hereby give you an amazing man who could make you happy forever: tall, cute, successful, giving, doting, family-oriented, sane, stable, funny, warm and excellent in bed. He doesn’t believe in gay marriage. You can break up with him for it, or you can marry him because he’s the perfect husband, and trust, that in the slim chance you have a gay daughter, he’ll likely change his mind about gay marriage. It’s your call.

      But these are silly hypotheticals. Because really, do you think you’d find the perfect man who makes you happy who is also an avowed racist? That’s really not that point of my piece and it takes us far off track.

      The point is that a person doesn’t have to be in lockstep with you to be an amazing life partner. And if you think they do, you’re probably going to struggle in love. That’s it from me for today.

  8. 8
    Gem

    Evan,

    “Thank you, Gem, for deftly illustrating the problem with religion and any other sort of belief that impedes one from finding love.”

    Purposely choosing to find a partner with the same religious viewpoint need not impede a person from finding love. That’s a bit pessimistic for a usually optimistic guy.

    “it really doesn’t matter that I’m an athiest and she’s a believer – unless she MAKES it matter.” 

     
    Agreed, and if it matters to someone else, that is not a foolish position to take. Isn’t that the whole point of deciding what criteria to look for in a partner? Because we’re MAKING those things matter? Otherwise, I may as well pick a name out of the phone book.
     
    “if you insist that a man has inferiior values because he doesn’t believe in, say, an afterlife, you’re right, you probably should find a guy more like you – narrowminded and narcissistic enough to think that there’s something wrong with someone who isn’t in complete lockstep with them”

    If religious belief is on the list for a person because it represents a construct of values, a moral compass and deep belief in what is true which permeates every aspect of the way they lead their life, who are any of us to say the desire to find a partner with the same conviction is narrow minded and narcissistic? That’s quite a judgment on your part.  If anyone sounds as if they think another’s beliefs are inferior and wrong, it’s you.

    I hold no judgment on anyone who seeks to find a partner with certain qualities, whatever they may be. If someone is very social and refuses to date complete homebodies, because they know they would be unhappy long term with that very different lifestyle then I respect that they know what they need and should get it. I wouldn’t presume to tell them they are narrowminded and narcissistic and have impeded their chance at love.  

    Are people narrowing the dating pool the higher their list of qualities gets? You betcha. So saying to have perspective about what is really important and let go of the little things is wise. Discerning the difference is even better.

     

    1. 8.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      I never talk about “right and wrong”, Gem. I talk about “effective and ineffective” in terms of finding love. People who think their partner has to be a triathlete, 6’2″, a good dancer, or a devout Jew aren’t at all wrong. They may just be passing up a lot of amazing life partners for something that has very little to do with the day-to-day machinations of a real relationship. Good luck to you.

  9. 9
    Karl R

    lawyerette said: (#4)
    “If you let Christ or Buddha or Mohammad or whoever order your steps, then it’s going to be difficult for you to share a life with someone who is not obeying those same orders.”

    What makes you think that different religions are following different orders?

    Christianity: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Baha’i: And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself.
    Confucianism: Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.
    Hinduism: One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self. This, in brief, is the rule of dharma. Other behavior is due to selfish desires.
    Islam: That which you want for yourself, seek for mankind.
    Jainism: Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality, treat others with respect and compassion.
    Judaism: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation.
    Taoism: Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.

    That’s a starting sample. Lots of atheists, agnostics and humanists would also agree that those statements are a foundation for ethical behavior.

    The whole concept that you can only follow one religion is very much a Western line of thought. In China it would not be uncommon to find someone who is a practicing Buddhist, Confucianist and Taoist. In Japan you could find someone who is a Buddhist, Christian and Shintoist.

    Francesca asked: (#6)
    “How much do you need to have in common?”

    My guideline is that I want to have one shared interest with a girlfriend. That way there’s something we enjoy doing together.

    Francesca asked: (#6)
    “What do couples’ conversations consist of if they don’t have things in common?”

    I don’t share my girlfriend’s love of animals. That doesn’t mean I’m bored if she’s telling me something about them. The same is true for a few of my interests (like compartive religion). And as a couple, we spend some time each day talking about our jobs. Current events are another recurring topic.

    And you can’t underestimate the conversation potential of gossip, especially if you have mutual acquaintances.

  10. 10
    JB

    Evan is right,you gals are missing the point(I’m assuming most of you disagreeing are women).I think he’s saying that if you have a gigantic list of “must have’s”,”deal breakers” etc…. and you’re not flexible on at least some of the things you MAY be missing out on a guy who would be a great boyfriend/husband.
    He preaches that all the time. If you want to wait for “Mr.Doesn’t Exist”(.0001%)to come along at least you’ll know why he never shows.

    Internet dating has made it too easy for everyone to “disqualify” everyone by checking off so many little boxes that your search results come back with very few on a site where there’s a 500,000 or more people. They think you have to have everything in common on top of being “totally hot”,make”x” amount of money and have a graduate degree in order to be compatible. Good luck with that! I wonder if when I’m in a nursing home I’ll STILL be getting disqualified for what my degree was in,what my job title WAS or what kind of music I listened to?….lol Maybe by then my charming personality will be enough to get a lovely lady to sit and play “Bingo” with me. Nahhhh…she’ll probably be disqualifying me because my hair is thinning and my wheelchair isn’t a newer motorised model…..
    Ohh well…her loss. ;-)

  11. 11
    Honey

    I’m with JB, though I would hypothesize that most folks are deliberately obfuscating the point because it is easier (and less scary) than making a change in their lives.

    As long as you approach love with a list of demands and things that you MUST get out of it before you will deign to participate – you will almost always fail to find it. 

    It is when you approach love with a list of things you are willing to sacrifice and things that you want to give to someone else – that you will find the one who gives back.

    I don’t think Evan is saying that your must-haves need to be the same as his (though he is so defensive this doesn’t come across clearly).  Atheists, particularly, are guilty of the myopic view that religion doesn’t or shouldn’t matter (I should know, I’m an atheist too).  But there is a big difference between being devout, and practicing, and nominally affiliated with a particular religion, and I think what he is getting at is that a lot of people who would consider themselves “nominally affiliated” if questioned closely approach the dating process as if they were devout, and because of that they overlook a lot of people. 

    Similarly, when it comes to politics there is a big difference between an elected official, someone who volunteers for MoveOn or CPAC during election cycles, someone who just sends in their write-in ballot, and someone who doesn’t follow the news at all.  A lot of people who just send in their ballots every election cycle approach the dating process as if they were elected officials, and because of that they overlook a lot of people.

    By all means, if you ARE devout or if you ARE an elected official, obviously that dominates your entire life in a way that compatibility in that arena is a must-have.  Otherwise, there is probably a lot more wiggle room for compromise than you are currently admitting.  And in any case, organized religions and political parties have so many people in them that they aren’t even really going to be the dealbreakers that matter.

    The point is – for every thing that is non-negotiable, you are going to have to be negotiable on 5-10 other things to make it happen.  And, it’s not really productive (or fair) to rule out 99.999% of other people and then complain that no one’s willing to date YOU.

  12. 12
    Sayanta

    Gem and Lawyerette-

    I’m with you guys on the religion thing. I guess it’s just difficult for someone who’s not religious to understand the significance of it. A little like a white dude trying to know what it’s like to be black. Or vice versa.

  13. 13
    starthrower68

    I’m one of those dreaded born-again types, and here’s my take: Mr. & Mrs. EMK followed their hearts and conscience and made the decision to wed.  I don’t believe that it’s my place to judge them as having done something bad and that EMK is destined to go to hell.  It’s not for me to judge any couple, and I certainly wouldn’t call Evan and his wife wrong or bad for getting married.

    There is a piece of scripture, however, that Christians point to when making the decision to only be with a fellow believer.  2 Corinthians 6:14 which says, “do not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever”.  I’m not dismissing what Karl says when he compares the basic tennents of the major religions and I’m not dismissing Evan’s question.  But people who hold matters of faith imporant may view this differently.  Please note I’m NOT saying Mrs. EMK doesn’t hold her faith important. And it isn’t quite like political affiliation or music tastes, etc.  Mileage will greatly vary from person to person on this one. 

  14. 14
    BeenThereDoneThat

    What an interesting discussion!  I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; LDS for short and Mormon to most of the world.  AND I am a democrat – in Utah; the self proclaimed reddest state in the Union.  If I were only willing to date others who were LDS and democrat, I would never have a date.  Personally, I’d prefer a wonderful guy and if he happens to be LDS, icing on the cake.  If not, I’d still be happy.

    I like the idea of being tolerant of others and thier views.  Just because they might not be mine, doens’t make them invalid.  Here is the thing I’ve found though.  Using the example of gay marriage again.  If I met someone who was anti-gay and made comments to me constantly on how my views were wrong and made derogatory comments about or to those who are; I’d find his attitude intolerant.  AND intolerance is a trait I have trouble overlooking. 

    For me, it is about values. Do we have the same views on honesty, does he have integrity, will he have the same idea of commitment that I do?  Those are the kinds of things I think are important.

  15. 15
    Shay

    I totally agree with Sayanta (#16).

    Church is a big part of my life. I practically spend my weekends in church. Well, you can say that devout or staunched. I am not looking for a 100% devout or staunched Christian. I am looking for somebody who would not mind to spend some time with me doing things to benefit other people in church. Make room for our lives for church. Sometimes we may even have to cancel or reschedule our plans due to church.

    Unfortunately, he has to have pretty strong convictions to head our lives in that direction.

    But what Honey (#15) is saying is also true…I’m trying hard to be flexible on other areas. Carefully evaluating what I can let go of. And not whining that nobody is willing to date me. :D

    I may even have to be prepared to remain single if I can’t find a person who shares my direction in life.

    Life is difficult. However, that does not mean I won’t put up a fight for myself to get what I want. Haha…hopefully the journey is rewarding enough.

    1. 15.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Thanks for the note, Shay. Just reminding you that my incredible love story began with me putting aside the thought that my wife HAD to be likeminded (Jewish athiest – there’s actually a bunch of us), and opening up to the best PERSON in the world – the one who would be by my side in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, ’til death do us part. The thought that I’d pass up my wife because I strongly disagree with her religious beliefs is preposterous.

      The more dealbreakers you have, the more likely you are to be standing alone.

      So I give you a test that I give to some of my, um, selective clients:

      Would you rather…

      Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry a man who is 5’8″?
      Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry an agnostic?
      Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry a guy who doesn’t like running?

      You’d be surprised how people change their minds when it’s presented just like this. Because, make no mistake, that IS the choice you’re making.

  16. 16
    starthrower68

    @Been There,

    What you stated is what I meant on “your mileage may vary”; for instance, I don’t take umbrage with other faith traditions.  I don’t think they are bad or unworthy people.  But for me it would be a deal breaker.  It does’t mean I’m intolerant of their views, but this is a core value for me.  Where I can compromise is say, Methodist dating Presbyterian.  I don’t hate Buddhists or Shintoists or Muslims.  But for me, that is more of a difference than I can compromise on.  I think that there has developed a mindset in this day and age that we can’t disagree agreeably.  That if we have a differing opinion from someone else they are bad.  I don’t believe that.  I’m also fully aware that there are undatable Christians because they are Christian in name only. 

  17. 17
    mc

    Keep it simple all! I think all Evan was trying to say is to try and avoid looking for perfection, or someone with ALL the same interests and traits as you. There has to be compromise somewhere and sacrifice in every relationship. Obviously if religion or politics is very important to you and it is something you like to talk about quite often and you think disagreement would get in the way  too much then move on if its not making you happy. Everyone defines compatibility differently but give it a chance. 

    At the same time keep an open mind and give EVERYONE a chance thats all. Becasue they think one way or  like to live a certain or different way, Dont’ shun an amazing guy off because of just one thing or miss out on true love because of one quality that doesn’t meet your list of requirements.

    I am a christian and dated a great catholic guy for 5 years. I being very open minded didn’t care that he was catholic and he was a regular church goer and I wasn’t. I don’t expect everyone to live the same as me or believe the same things as me. He would have done anything for me and had a ton of great qualities, and it was great for quite some time, but unfortunately I had to end it because he eventually went as far as saying me and my family had no morales becasue we weren’t church goers and we accept gay people. I’m definitley not homophobic like he was, etc…so our belief systems were completely different and it was one too many fights and it obviously went as far as him disrespecting me so in this case get out.  He was very judgemental too and I saw the glass  half full and he saw it half empty. So in a situation like this there was a lot more going on, totally opposite view points, too much disagreement. Does this make me stay away from Catholics? Defiitely not. Lets not generalize or stereotype.

    I also dated a triathlete for 1 1/2 years and me being an avid early morning swimmer, athlete and personal trainer I was clearly around fitness all day and passionate about working out as well and thought it would work well, mainly because our sense of humor was so similiar. I am really good about balance and non obsessive exercise. I want to enjoy life too. But he didn’t want to live like that..He was just way too obsessive…workout, sleep and eat. I ended it with him. He didn’t want to do anything outside of his workouts, no going out and he couldn’t even come with me to my families even for the holidays because he had to rest before his next workout…. IT was like dragging him anywhere even for the  holidays, so no thanks not for me at all. So since then, I have actually steered away from triathletes fearing the same thing. I don’t want to generalize but most are very self absorbed and this is all they want to do but I also know a lot of triathletes who do it more for fun so again I won’t stereotype or judge. Being on Match.com I have to be honest…I have deleted every triathlete and see it as a major red flag. But I know I shouldn’t think that…I do know plenty of people including some of my friends who go out on top of it all too. So again, if they are a triathlete or if they are of a different religion, should I forget it? no I don’t think so. There are plenty of good people that are into triathlon but can enjoy life,  but again if he takes it as far as no time for anything else or you or for family, then just move on.  After reading your blog Evan, I will keep even more of an open mind.  : ) Thanks again!

  18. 18
    Honey

    Haha Evan, the height thing always makes me laugh.   I let Jake pretend to be 5’8″, I think he is 5’6″ or so!

  19. 19
    SS

    I think everyone has one or two big dealbreakers that no matter how wonderful another person is, if he or she is X, a happy relationship won’t be possible (for the person making the decision).
     
    The trick seems to be to really make sure that those dealbreakers are very few.
     
    Using Evan’s questions in No. 21, I could marry the 5’8″ guy (I’m 5’4″ anyway), marry the guy who doesn’t like running (and I do 5Ks regularly), but I would hesitate on the agnostic. However, the agnostic probably has a better chance with me than the atheist. I have no problems with atheists and respect the fact that they choose not to believe in a god — actually, I find atheists to often be deeper thinkers than many evangelical Christians (the type of folks I grew up around) and probably have better conversation with them than I do with more religious people!
     
    So my compromise was that I didn’t care about Christian denomination, and that I was open to Catholics, LDS, etc.  Judaism was fine too.   I think that gave me enough of a selection of men to choose from.
     
    Women in general seem to be more religious than men, and I find that a lot of women place more importance on it than men do. While that’s fine, I find that too many women end up ruling out perfectly fine and decent men because of differences of opinion in terms of the importance of a denomination and the frequency in which a man wants to attend services. I know a LOT of women who make it an issue that their partner doesn’t want to attend church with them every week or let go of a man for that reason.  And I question, honestly, if frequent church/temple/etc. attendance really makes a relationship stronger for both parties and why women put so much emphasis on that.
     
    (And yes, I’m a woman.)
     
    As for me, I’m a moderate Democrat who married a self-proclaimed independent… who 90% of the time votes Republican. He goes to church about twice a year. It’s also the best relationship I’ve ever had.

  20. 20
    Goldie

    @ Evan #21:
     
    “Would you rather…
    Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry a man who is 5’8″?
    Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry an agnostic?
    Be alone for the rest of your life, or marry a guy who doesn’t like running?”
     
    I agree that getting hung up on an extra inch of height or on one hobby like running is just silly, but you have to draw the line somewhere. One example. Would be I rather be alone for the rest of my life than be with a guy who has a drinking problem? Heck, yeah! Even if you don’t go to these extremes – say, a woman likes outdoors and considers her weekend wasted if she hasn’t spent any time outside biking/hiking. Now let’s say she marries a couch potato who is in every other way an awesome person. You just cannot make him go outside. Fast forward a year, I guarantee you will find these two either fighting over every weekend/vacation, or living separate lives.
     
    There are worse things than being alone. Out of those, the worst is being stuck in a bad marriage. Living alone is actually pretty neat compared to that :) We’re here to learn how to find a life companion/friend/partner, not how to make ourselves and some guy miserable together – most of us (myself included) are already pretty good at that ;)

    1. 20.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Goldie? Where are you all getting this stuff from? I didn’t say marry the alcoholic? I said marry the athiest! Are we really the same thing in your mind?

      One of the wisest women I know, relationship guru Carol Allen, SAVED HER marriage by learning to accept that her husband was more of an introvert, instead of fighting it. Now, when they go to a party, they take SEPARATE cars. He says for 90 minutes, she stays for 4 hours, and they come home and continue to love each other. If you think that your man has to want to run with you, that’s fine. Just know that only what – 10% of men are runners? So that’s your dating pool, before we’ve factored in height, weight, age, income, humor, kindness, sex appeal, luck, timing, chemistry, kids, etc. Good luck with that.

      Nowhere in any of my writing can you find me advocate for being miserable. But if you’ll be miserable because he doesn’t think exactly like you do, you’re pretty much in a self-imposed prison.

      1. 20.1.1
        Malcolm

        That’s just brilliant (!)  And I bet if you talk to the husband, he’s only hanging in there for the last 30 of those 90 minutes because he knows if he does it . . . he’ll have a happy wife coming home to him (when she finally does). 

  21. 21
    Karl R

    Shay said: (#19)
    “Church is a big part of my life. I practically spend my weekends in church. […] I am looking for somebody who would not mind to spend some time with me doing things to benefit other people in church. Make room for our lives for church. Sometimes we may even have to cancel or reschedule our plans due to church.”

    Let’s say you find someone who shares your commitment to the church, or perhaps even exceeds it. He spends his entire weekend at church and some of his weeknights as well. He’s dedicated to the church (and related charitable organizations) and feels a deep responsibility for their continued well-being. He often rechedules other events to meet his church commitments.

    The only catch: he attends a different church.

    Would you be willing to leave your church for this man? If you aren’t, then it’s a safe bet that he’s unwilling to leave his church for you. This may even be true of some men who are less devout than you.

    And if you (and those men) are unwilling to compromise regarding church, then you’ve already met your entire dating pool. They all belong to your church.

    I suspect you’ve already noticed the ratio of single men to single women at church.

    If you want to have a relationship, you’re going to need to compromise. Not just on what traits you expect your partner to have, but also your relationship with your church. I read your description of your life, and I don’t see room for another person … unless he subordinates his schedule to yours. That’s not compromise.

    Would you be willing to date a man who expects you to subordinate your schedule to his?

  22. 22
    Lance

    EMK, great post, as always. From my experience, I’ve determined the two highest priority factors for me having a successful relationship. I stress this works for me, and it may or may not be enough for anyone else:
    1. Companionship
    2. Sexual compatibility
    If the companionship is great, then all the other details (music, religion, diet choices, fitness, etc) are icing on the cake, but NOT the cake. I define companionship as simply the day-to-day relationship, the dialogue, the interactions, the friendship, the emotions you give each other, the shared experience.
    Sexual compatibility is a whole other post and that’s a big factor too.

  23. 23
    Sophie

    Great advice, and I agree with Evan. My boyfriend has opposite values (e.g. he’s conservative, and I’m liberal. He’s religious, and I’m not. I’m feminist, and he’s not.) and it bothered me a little bit in the beginning, but not anymore. When he rants about politics, most of the time I disagree with him but I just listen and smile. I love everything else about him and that’s what’s important to me.

  24. 24
    Diana

    I understand and agree with some of the postings here, like Shay’s. A person’s strong religious beliefs and practices are going to be vitally important to them. It becomes a way of life, of living and breathing, such a deep part of who they are that it defines their very existence. I do not equate this on the same level as hobbies, physical traits, money, success, etc.
     
    For the record, I am an agnostic. I would not choose to live the rest of my life with a truly devout and practicing religious individual, though there are many who say they are a Christian, etc., but they do not practice their faith. I grew up in the Baptist faith and at one time, I was deeply connected and involved with the church and God. I completely respect those who walk ALL paths of faith because I know first hand what it means to them and it is not my place to judge.
     
    I have sometimes thought that my no longer being involved with the church has worked to my detriment from a dating perspective. While there are many different types in church, most of the people I have known had many of the qualities I seek: compassion, kindness, loyalty, integrity, love (not that they can’t be found elsewhere), but to return would make me feel like a user and that’s not me. My heart follows a different path now. And there are no universal gatherings here; drat!
     

  25. 25
    Stacy

    Evan,

    you lumping together many different things here. First, being “amazing” per se does ot impede anyone’s chances of finding love, impossible standards do.

    Second, discarding ALL standards as you seem to be advocating is not only unwise but also impossible. If nothing – not tastes, looks, religion, politics, income, moral character or anything else matters, then I can just go out and marry the first available stranger on the street, right? Does this sound like a good plan to you – I think not.

    Most dating books that I read advise to come up with a list of “must haves” and “nice to haves”, keeping the “must haves” as short as possible. And clearly, the list of must haves will be different for different people based on their values, and it is up to them to decide what it is.

    1. 25.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Stacy,

      Please show me the line where I said to “discard ALL standards”. I merely pointed out that if you make any given thing a dealbreaker, it makes finding love that much more difficult. So you get a guy who has everything going for him, except height, so you break up with him. Everything going for him except proper spelling, you break up with him. If you’re going to argue with me – which is fair – at least make sure you understand what I’m saying.

      And if you read Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him”, you will see the first three pages of the book are her “nice to haves” list. My only contention with this is that your “nice to have” list is actually a “must have” list, and you dissect every single guy who doesn’t give you everything you dreamed of.

      Whether this is a result of Hollywood fantasy, societal conditioning, parental coddling, simple delusion, or “being amazing” doesn’t really matter. This is a real phenomenon and every single person stands the chance of being alone forever because of it.

  26. 26
    Goldie

    @Karl #26, in the 20 years I spent in church (several different churches, to be exact), I’ve seen people switch churches to their husband’s or wife’s all the time. Last one I attended was a Greek Orthodox church. At least half of the regular/active parisioners were Anglo-Saxon, Protestants (mostly women, but a few men as well) who had converted when they married a Greek, so their whole family could attend church together. Many of these people ended up on the parish council; their kids were in Sunday School with mine, altar boys, on the church’s sports teams etc. in other words, all family members were very active in church together. As long as it is basically the same faith and the same creed (which as you know can include millions of people worldwide, depending on the religion), to the majority of people, it really doesn’t matter if we both go to my church or yours, as long as we go to church together as a family. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s not as bad for Shay as you say it is.

  27. 27
    Cherry

    Compromise isn’t one size fits all. For example, if you’re very liberal politically, you’d probably clash with a political conservative, unless politics isn’t all that important, or you happen to enjoy that sort of intense debate. But you might be more willing to date a short guy who’s liberal, than a tall conservative, even if you have a preference for tall men. 
     
    As far as the last couple of men I dated, one was an avowed “liberal” who loved making racist jokes. Pass. The other was handsome and affectionate with shared interests, but also very needy and controlling, with emotional issues including a mean streak. Again, pass. Before that, there was the man with whom I had a million things in common, but he wasn’t looking for a serious relationship. Damn. 
     
    I consider these very different deal-breakers beyond superficial things like height, or things like religion which aren’t superficial, but are still important. Believe me, if all I had to worry about was a man’s height or a man who doesn’t share all my interests, dating would be a lot easier. 

  28. 28
    Goldie

    @ Evan #33:
    All I am saying is, there has to be a line drawn somewhere. I draw mine at alcoholics, someone else may well draw theirs at atheists. This will probably exclude me from their search, but I think it’s a better outcome for us both than getting together and being miserable because of our differences.
     
    You said that a relationship is “more dependent on kindness, consistency, values and long-term goals”. Now would you consider it possible that, for some people, their religious beliefs and political stance determine their values and long-term goals?
     
    And, yeah, I’ve done separate weekends, separate vacations, separate bedrooms, the whole nine yards. Then I got tired of it and quit. Remember, at least half the people on here used to be married, some for decades. We know what it’s like when it doesn’t work out.
     
    Also, where I’m getting this stuff from? I’m getting it from the test questions that start with “would you rather be alone for the rest of your life than…” (fill in the blanks). Sorry, but it just irks me when put this way. Like being alone is so horrible, we should do anything to avoid it? Just curious, has any of your clients ever answered “yes” to these questions? What will you say to a client that does?

  29. 29
    Stacy

    Evan #33:

    you wrote in the original post “if you make EVERYTING a deal-breaker, you can’t be too surprised when you’re still standing alone”.

    Now, while in terms of formal logic it is not the same as saying “you should make nothing a deal-breaker”, but it comes off like that. Because NOBODY makes EVERYTHING a deal-breaker. But everybody has SOME deal-breakers. And why would you judge somebody else’s deal breakers just because these things turned out to be not important to YOU? The whole thing is just a moot point IMO.

    Also, I wholeheartedly agree with Goldie #35. Would I rather be single than with a short liberal man who makes 1/4 of what I make and shares none of my interests? Hell yeah!

    1. 29.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Stacy-

      Once again, you misinterpret me. “I don’t want a short, liberal, man who makes 1/4 of what I make and shares none of my interests.” I challenge you to show me where I wrote (or even suggested) this.

      You’re putting words in my mouth that I didn’t say, and asking me to defend it. I will soon accuse you of hating athiests, even though you didn’t write that anywhere.

      Listen, deal-breakers are whatever you say they are. Just know that if you always find deal-breakers, you’ll never get a deal. That’s your prerogrative. I just think it’s awful narrow minded to break up with someone because he’s either short or liberal or doesn’t share your interest in art. Not ALL of those things, but ANY of those things. You still want to argue with this premise?

  30. 30
    Karl R

    Goldie said: (#31)
    “to the majority of people, it really doesn’t matter if we both go to my church or yours, as long as we go to church together as a family. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s not as bad for Shay as you say it is.”

    I’m making a related point. It becomes easier for Shay if she’s willing to compromise.

    Does he have to join her church, or is she willing to join his? Does she have to spend most weekends at church, or can she spend her Saturdays doing other things with her partner? Is she okay with him continuing to attend his church while she continues to attend hers? Does the church schedule have to interrupt theirs (as a couple), or can they miss church events to fulfill their previously scheduled plans?

    The more flexible she is, the more her options open. And if a person isn’t willing to be flexible, it’s not terribly reasonable for them to expect their partner to be. They might get lucky in that regard, but I wouldn’t count on it.

    In every couple that you mentioned in your church, at least one of them was willing to compromise on church/religion. Shay can guarantee that degree of compromise in her relationships if she’s willing to be the one compromising.

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