How Do You Combat “Why Bother” Syndrome After a Bunch of Frustrating Dates?

As a dating coach, I serve many roles. Friend. Confidante. Big brother. Teacher. Taskmaster. Cheerleader. Roll those all into one and you have me – a guy who spends 4 hours a day on the phone as a sponge for the frustrations, pain and negativity felt by my private clients. It’s no different than being a shrink perhaps, but one of my clients, who IS a shrink, thinks I’ve got the tougher job.

Because while a psychologist can keep on asking questions: “How does that make you feel?”, “What do YOU think that means?”, my clients turn to me for ANSWERS. They want results. They’re not concerned with conquering their inner demons as much as getting clarity on when love will come their way.

How do you keep on going when you’re successful at everything else in life, yet every romantic partner you touch turns to crap?

Today, I spoke with a special client. I won’t out her, but she knows who she is. Like most of my clients, she’s got everything going for her – bright, successful, interesting, relationship-oriented. How she’s unique is that she’s 33 (which is young for my clients) and she’s undeniably cute (which isn’t rare, but makes it far easier for her to attract men). Working with her has been a pure joy for me, as I am witness to her spectacular growth on a week-by-week basis. We’ve been talking for 11 weeks now, and I am astounded at how far she’s come. Yet tonight, all she could tell me was how sad she was. Three bad dates in the past week. No promising leads on the horizon. Negative thoughts creeping into her head. Why bother with dating at all? Great question. One I’ve tackled relatively recently. But still, it persists.

How do you keep on going when you’re successful at everything else in life, yet every romantic partner you touch turns to crap? We spent an hour talking about this today, and I was thrilled to say that my client felt a thousand times better after the call than she did when we started the call. For her, metaphors, logic, and analogies are a big key to giving her a healthier perspective. Thank god, because that’s what I do best. :) Anyway, I pointed out to her that, because she’s a catch, 90% of the guys she meets are going to fall short of her standards. Which means, logically, that she might have to go on 9 mediocre dates until she finds one guy she’s excited about. If she didn’t have such high standards, she might be satisfied by the cute, boring guys she just passed up. But since she does have high standards, only 10% of men will be eligible. That’s nothing to get angry at. It just means that due to her smaller dating pool, it will take her more time than it takes other women.

If we extrapolate further, of the 10% of the guys she’s open to, half of them will not be into her, and half of them will be into her. That’s dating for you. So now we’ve established that 1 out of 20 guys is boyfriend-eligible. Suddenly, as frustrating as it seems, my client has a paradigm – a framework of what to expect out of dating. Her problem was that her expectations are unrealistic. She lives and dies with each new guy from Match.com. Last week she had 7 guys in her inbox and was high as a kite. This week, she’s cycled through them and is down in the dumps. Yet, we know that this is how online dating works. Men come, men go. Most will be disappointing. Some will get your hopes up. A few will show consistency and want to be exclusive with you.

So if you’re going to date online and think that you’re going to find true love in your first 30 day trial, think again.

So if you’re going to date online and think that you’re going to find true love in your first 30 day trial, think again. Unless you’ve gone out with 19 guys, you haven’t even gotten warmed up yet! Besides: how many times in your life have you been in love? Two? Three? Then maybe you should stop freaking out that it didn’t happen after six months in 2009. The rarity of love is what makes it special. The possibility of love is what keeps us going. And coming to the conclusion after a bunch of frustrating dates that you should give up entirely is simply false. My darkest month of dating was November, 2006. I met my wife in January, 2007. You never, ever, ever know what’s in store for you.

Your dream partner may be going through a divorce right now. He may have just signed onto eHarmony for the first time. He may be focused on his work and will be ready to date by early next year. You have no idea. Which is why I’ve got no time for “Why Bother?” syndrome. You bother because the only way to find love is to go on dates with strangers. Stop doing that and it’s pretty hard to find love. For my client, her big takeaway was that she needs to stop measuring results the way she measures results at school or work. Ultimately, she wants a husband and family, but that’s a process that she just started undertaking 11 weeks ago. Yet since we began working together, she has rebranded herself online, gotten a tremendous amount of attention, fell for a really amazing guy…who turned out to have some really serious issues, figured out how to play it cool with men, how to let them choose her, how to assess the difference between wants and needs, how to flirt successfully, how to weed out the players from the keepers, how to be a great first date, how to bounce back from rejection, and how to persevere when the going gets tough.

So she can focus on how some guy flaked out on her at the last minute, or she can focus on how well-prepared she is going to be to let love into her life. Which do YOU think is a healthier way of looking at things? Success can be measured in a million ways. You can get a 4.0 at a school but get a crappy education. Or you can get a 3.0 and challenge yourself and stretch and grow. What’s success to you? All I know is that even though my client was on the verge of tears when we spoke today, she is on a path to success. And I’d bet my bottom dollar that she finds an amazing man who appreciates all of her gifts sooner rather than later. That’s why she bothers.

Click here to learn the 5 Massive Mistakes You’re Making In Your Love Life – And How to Turn Them Around Instantly!

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Mr_Right

    This was the same numbers type of logic that I used last year when I went on a large number of dates.

    Logically, if I went on 10 dates, even though I screened them to meet my standards and they had a high interest level and so forth, only 1 of them would be second date-worthy. And on that second date, about half would be third date-worthy. So that’s about right, 1 in 20. And even then, it takes a bit longer than that to determine if someone is relationship-worthy.

    I went on 54 dates last year. When I went on my 55th date, I got a lot of ‘the one’ vibes from our first date. Our second date I got even more ‘the one’ vibes (and a really good kiss at the end of that date). Our third date, when it took us two hours to say goodbye, I started canceling all my online dating subscriptions because I knew she was the one. And after four and a half months now, I just told her I loved her, and she said I love you too.

    I was just lucky it took me 55 dates and 4500 browsed online profiles rather than 100 dates and 9000 browsed profiles.

    It’s all about perspective and keeping your individual glass half-full. As long as you’re working at it and doing all that you can, good things will come your way. How do you think people because successful? They had to work at it!

  2. 2
    Cilla

    This reminds me of the “How Do You Get Past the Cynicism…” post of June 2nd. While I’m aware dating is a often a numbers game and that going on more dates can increase your chances of finding a good match, sometimes I just need to take myself out of the game entirely for a month or two. It’s easy to get caught up in constantly checking email, maintaining phone relationships, and updating your profile. Throw in a few first dates, and all the prep that goes into them, and you feel like you have a second job. If you’re not having great first dates, it feels like a job with really low pay. We take vacations from work; if dating has become another form of work, it might make sense to take a break from that too.

    My solution is to take down my profile, email the people I’m corresponding with that my life has become a little busy and I’ll get back to them soon (at the risk that they may find someone else in the meantime), and focus on my life outside of dating. In the past when I did this, I found I came back to dating refreshed and more confident about what I was looking for in a date/relationship. I was also more tolerant of first dates who were not a good match for me but might be a good match for a friend or might be someone I could have a platonic relationship with.

    Before I even put my profile back up, I completely revamped it (most people have read a few new books, taken a trip, or seen a new film over the course of a month), added new photos, and formulated a game plan for my search criteria, how much time I was willing to devote to looking, etc. The rewards to twofold: the dating pool had changed in the time I was gone, and a bunch of new guys had posted profiles; and because my profile was “new,” it moved to the top of the search list garnering me a lot more hits. It didn’t take long to get an email from someone who was a fabulous match for me, and we’ve been dating exclusively for the last couple of months.

    Sorry, Evan, I know this isn’t a good solution for your business in the short term, but it might be a good long-term strategy for people who have been looking for a while and are becoming so frustrated they are now difficult clients. You were right, though, a good person for me was just around the corner. Instead of going on a lot more dates to find him, I needed to jump off the ride for a while and be willing to come back with the attitude that he was out there somewhere–same vision, same end, but a different means to that end.

  3. 3
    Jennifer

    Evan, I love everything about the post. It’s easy to lose perspective and the numbers really are helpful. Thank you!

    I had a date saturday night and while i don’t want a second date with this person, I had a good time and walked away feeling good and excited about upcoming dates as opposed to disappointed that that date didn’t ‘work out’. That’s growth people :-)

  4. 4
    BeenThruTheWars

    I kept a meticulous dating journal after my divorce in 1995. On average, it took me 25 first dates between “keepers.” It took me four monogamous relationships with men I deemed worthy of stopping dating for (ranging from 3 months to 7 years) before I found my wonderful new husband (3.5 years now), so you do the math. That’s approximately 100 first dates before finding Mr. Right-For-Me. They originated from newspaper personals, online dating, dating services, people I met through organizations I belonged to, and men I met “in the wild.” Some of the dates were awful, some were great, most were meh. Approximately one-quarter of all my first dates resulted in a second date. But as one boss from an advertising job many years ago once taught me, “It’s a process, not an event.” The “it” can be whatever you want it to be, in this case romance. “You’ve gotta be in it to win it” is the corollary. And Evan (as well as my mom) are correct in their advice that “it’s a numbers game.” Get yourself out there in as many places as you can and date up a storm. It’s the only way.

  5. 5
    BeenThruTheWars

    @ Mr_Right, what a sweet and inspiring story! Best of luck to you and your lady. :-)

  6. 6
    Michael

    My advice would to be concentrate on having a good time (including sexual intercourse).

  7. 7
    Marc

    One way to combat the “why bother?” syndrome is not to bring the “why bother?” attitude with you on dates. I’ve been the fifth guy some woman has gone out with in one week, and it’s no fun sitting there trying to make up for the perceived sins of the other four. As difficult as it is, she needs to leave her baggage at home and bring her happy face with her to each date. She may not find the one immediately, but with a better attitude, she’ll at least have more fun trying.

  8. 8
    Ruby

    How I can relate, and I am in my late 40′s.! I wish I was out there dating at 33! Piece o’ cake, but I know, it’s all relative. Haven’t been in a long-term relationship in nearly 10 years, but have had several short ones. Oh, the stories I could tell! Taking occasional breaks is a must in order to re-charge and not get too jaded.

    After not meeting anyone special for over a year, I’ve recently started dating someone I’m very excited about, and it appears to be mutual. He recently started dating again after not having dated for over 3 years. It’s still early, but it has given me so much hope. Of course, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just go back o being cynical. It’s hard to keep putting yourself out there, but as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

  9. 9
    Honey

    I agree with Cilla’s approach of taking a break – sometimes it does get your head back on straight. I had been taking a break from Match for a month or two when I happened to e-mail the soon-to-be BF on MySpace. I wasn’t invested AT ALL…until about 5 minutes into our first date!

    Prior to meeting him, I’d resolved not to even try to date anyone until I graduated, since at that time I was planning on leaving the state once I was done and I didn’t feel like the 2 years I had left was going to be enough to ask someone to give up their career and move with me. Now I’m still in AZ and I’m the one who (at least for now) took a career detour so I could be with my one-and-only. So like Evan, I met my guy during my darkest time. It seems to be a super common story, which is good news for those who are frustrated now!
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..Good News Follows Good News: Or, LinkedIn Works!? =-.

  10. 10
    Selena

    Thanks Evan for writing such a positive post. Refreshing after some of the negative dialogue inducing ones of late. Made me feel optomistic and I’m not even actively dating. Smile.

  11. 11
    Carol

    Evan, this is one of the best posts I have seen about this subject. We’ve all been there or are there. Right or wrong the numbers thing makes sense. It took me 50 guys to find my husband, so if I look at the bright side, I only have 9 to go! Even for a can do upbeat personality like me, this article was right on as I wonder, “Where is he and why haven’t I met him yet?” It’s the motivation to never give up that makes it work, thanks for your timely reminder!

  12. 12
    Steve

    I started reading this blog & Marc’s before I started off with match.com. Doing those things helped reduce frustration in advance. I learned what the reality in this area is, which helps me to not take it personally.

    When I go to the motor vehicles association I know I am going to get a hard time, but everybody else does to. It isn’t being aimed at *me*.

    Same way with the online dating thing.

  13. 13
    Steve

    @7 – amen.

  14. 14
    Steve

    @BeenThruTheWars #4

    What an incredibly useful post. Though, it does sound overwhelming :) __25__ dates!! Gadzooks. That is a whole lot of chef’s salads!

  15. 15
    girl-with-glasses

    On a date, men are usually just looking for a good time. A woman could be looking for a perspective mate or long term partner with marriage potential. The dynamics can be a bit off. At 33, she should probably be dating with long term intentions in mind, but train herself to be much more mellow about the process, otherwise she’ll just mentally and emotionally drain herself, and not give the whole dating process a fair shake. With today’s daying scene, hundreds, if not thousands, of dates seem to be a good trial number. It’s really a second / part time job. Just my 2 cents of course =)

  16. 16
    Mikko Kemppe

    Great article. Really enjoyed it!

  17. 17
    angela

    I guess I have not got there yet. I think it depends on your past relationship history and perspective. And maybe age (51) I am enjoying life with family and friends. Yes I want a significant other and I am looking but I am not down about it. Of course I am not 33 years old not trying to have kids. I was married for 8 years. Pretty good years at that! My son is in high school and I am excited about what life will bring in the future. I try to have fun on all my dates and for me the secret has been to treat the guy as a friend. I do not have these high expectations and I enjoy myself even if the person is not a match. I say enjoy the journey, not just the destination!!

  18. 18
    JB

    Ruby#8 is a lot closer to what I’m feeling. It’s a different game when your 48 and of course depending on what you look like,where you live,what your options are,if your male or female etc… everyone is going to have a different opinion

    Women can go on “15 bad dates” and it won’t cost them a penny except time. For men, a bad date not only costs time but cash. (Except for the woman I met that ordered 1 Diet Coke…lol Thank god….that was the longest 20 minutes of my life…lol but inexpensive)

    I haven’t met anyone I’ve actually cared about and was really attracted to in 4 years and that was my last relationship. That hasn’t stopped me from dating it’s basically just made me get closer to having “Why bother syndrome”. Going on dates with women I’m ambivalent about at best is wearing me down.
    It’s either that or not dating at all and being celibate. My options are what they are. They closed down the only place in my area where 35-50 yr. olds felt comfortable going to so that ended meeting women the “old fashioned” way……err…walking up and saying “hello”. In my area they have several singles fucntions that are filled with people 60 and up…Woo Hoo !!! I could yell “BINGO” and they’d all get excited !! …LOL That leaves the wonderful old internet, where after 12 years and many profiles,dates,successes(what ever you’d deem a success)failures and utterly ridiculous scenarios. I could write 3 books if I could remember ALL the details.

    I know I don’t sound positive in this post, only because that’s the topic(the Syndrome) but believe me I NEVER let negativity or frustration creep in when I’m dealing with women. I know better….lol no really….believe me….I’m an incredible actor. ;-)

  19. 19
    casualencounters.com/blog

    Love is a rare bird all right, but certainly one worth pursuing; and as you say, it can be darkest before the dawn (or alternatively, right before it goes completely pitch black.)

    I’m not sure I have a point here. Keep reaching for your dreams, perhaps? Illegitimi non carborundum?
    .-= casualencounters.com/blog´s last blog ..Ashley Madison Review =-.

  20. 20
    Diana

    She “lives and dies by each new guy?” I know a lot of women who put themselves through this torture. You are an emotionally healthier individual and thus, a healthier and more attractive dating partner when you stop placing excessive value and pressure on the situation, the guy, and even yourself through the expectations and high standards that you have created in your mind.

    IMHO, she needs to slow down, regroup and truly evaluate and understand herself first before heading any further, or to at least put the brakes on the runaway train. Have fun, try to keep it light and easy, don’t let your dating ups and downs define who you are. And believe me, when the right man comes along, they will both know it, without all of the emotional toil.

    Until then, life really is about the journey and not the destination, as Angela mentioned. Sometimes we are so focused on our perceived destination, we miss the entire trip altogether. Life has a way of changing our course, too.

    As for the stats, yes, it could all work out that way, and yet Mr. Right could also be date #1. Life is somewhat of a crap shoot. :) Just remember to breathe, and keep hope eternal.

  21. 21
    Curious

    A year ago I was trying internet dating. I went out with a ton of guys, and a lot were communicating with me, so the odds were good, right? Well, I got very burned out on it. I just don’t have that much time, and I didn’t like going out all that much. All the guys wanted to meet in a bar and have a drink which isn’t so good for your health or your figure, if you know what I mean.

    OK, so right before I let my subscription lapse I met one particular guy for a drink, but I was late because I didn’t know how to get where we were meeting, I was coming from one of the most awful days at work, and he hadn’t really wanted to communicate with me too much beforehand. He was busy, too, and friends had told him just to meet and not spend much time emailing, speaking by phone, etc. So I was thinking it was just going to be some checking me out thing, which was making me mad and not too into it. But it would have been better had I not had those two other awful things. When I met him I was definitely thinking “Why bother” and I’m sure it was written very clearly on my face.

    Any rate, he was really great. I wanted to see him again, not because I was so sure we were a match, but because I just really liked him. And I am very interested in his work. And he spent a lot of money on champagne and I wanted to reciprocate. He said he would contact me about going out to dinner. But he didn’t get back to me about it, and I started seeing someone else who wanted to be exclusive right away, and my subscription lapsed, and I forgot about him.

    Now I am thinking about him again. Exclusive guy wasn’t a good experience. I sent nice champagne guy an invite to a social networking site we both are on and he responded affirmatively within about 2 minutes and joined my network.

    I’m not really in dating mode. I just liked him as a person and felt bad about not being the my best on our one-and-only meeting. I mean, it could be a match, but it might not be, and I would like to know him either way, and I feel bad about my “why bother” attitude that evening.

  22. 22
    Michael

    I just can’t believe how many people treat dating as like some sort of medieval gauntlet you have to survive in order to win a prize at the end. That just seems like a sad way to live life. I think I’ve dated as many people in my life as anyone here, and I’ve got to say that by and large I’ve enjoyed each date. My thought going in has always been that I’m going to be doing something fun with an attractive, hopefully interesting woman, and why hassle with getting ahead of myself? Maybe it’s wrong to think everyone should be able to look at it this way, but even through some she-doesn’t-look-like-her-photo-or-act-like-her-profile online dates there was a certain adventure I relished.

    Or maybe Evan’s client has one flaw that may even cause some of these “bad dates”: she doesn’t look forward to meeting new people and having new experiences. Any adventurer worth his or her salt has horror stories, but it doesn’t put them off adventuring. Come to think of it, I’ve never really “caught fire” with women who weren’t somewhat adventurous, so yes, that might be a limiting factor that the men she meets might sense, compounding her problem.

    I think the answer he gave the client is about the best “smiley face” way to go about things – you can’t really make someone more adventurous.

  23. 23
    Curious

    Michael@22: Going back to the pursuer/pursued conversation–maybe you have never been on the receiving end of being “checked out” relentlessly. It is wearing and tedious and not fun. And it has a cumulative effect. So maybe you go into dates thinking “what an adventure” and who cares if she isn’t your dream girl or if you don’t get laid, but most men do not have that attitude about it, in my experience. Can’t speak to the other side of it–I’m sure women do something similar, but I don’t date women so can’t say. That said, most guys are polite, so it’s not like it’s some kind of awful experience that you have to recover from. It’s just more that it seems stupid after awhile to keep meeting strangers for pointless interactions on the hopes that something deeper will develop. I like having adventures with people I already know.

  24. 24
    Steve

    I think it helps to share your experiences with others, but I think it also helps that after you do that for the cathartic value to stay away from people with negative attitudes about dating/relationships.

    Finding time to do stuff that is guaranteed fun with your friends or yourself also helps you forget about the bad dates quicker.

  25. 25
    Diana

    To Michael #22: I think the client does look forward to meeting new people and having new adventures, but she is, after all, a woman, and if she’s living and dieing with each new guy, she’s putting a huge emotional investment into the process right out of the gate. This is something that needs fine tuning. Kind of like how to care, but not too much until there really is “something” to care about. When things don’t go so well, it’s not only “why bother,” it’s draining, tiring, daunting, a chore, not as much fun as she had hoped for, and so on.

  26. 26
    Diana

    To JB #18: I couldn’t help but giggle about your bingo comment, as my mom is a bingo regular. And dating is typically more expensive for the men; good point.

  27. 27
    LK

    “It’s just more that it seems stupid after awhile to keep meeting strangers for pointless interactions on the hopes that something deeper will develop. I like having adventures with people I already know.”

    Exactly.

  28. 28
    JM

    My sister, who is happily married, once told me years ago: “Lower your expectations, but don’t lower your standards”. I think that’s a great motto to live by as we all try to navigate through the dating waters.

    Case in point: I had a blind date last night. He took me to a club where he is a member and they offer complimentary coffee. [He wasn't drinking alcohol and I wasn't either - although I'll be having a few drinks tonight!] The club had a cool view of the city.

    I appreciated the originality of taking me to the club; I didn’t appreciate the fact that we were there for 2.5 hours and he never mentioned anything about ordering some appetizers or something to snack on. I’m not looking for a free meal, but we were there from 5pm to after 7pm. Needless to say, there won’t be a second date, and I admit I walked home feeling pretty disgusted. But as we all know, it is a numbers game, so I’ll just write this one off and look forward to hopefully meeting someone down the line that has a little more class and sophistication. I’m just hoping that I don’t fall prey to the “Why Bother” syndrome if this type of bad behavior continues…

  29. 29
    Steve

    @27

    If you don’t play, you can’t win.

    Bottom line.

    1. 29.1
      Mickey

      When the game is rigged to the point where you have no realistic shot at winning, you can’t win.

  30. 30
    Steve

    @JM #28

    You make a good point.

    Last year, when I started dating again in a serious way I asked a woman out FOR COFFEE. We enjoyed talking so much 3 hours passed – yet I could not get a second date with her.

    Translation – it didn’t occur to me that since I wasn’t hungry, she was and miffed that I didn’t offer to order some food.

    Mystery solved.

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