I’m Too Unique To Find A Husband, So Please Tell Me I Don’t Have To Change

Hi there, I came across your blog seeking advice. I searched the archives and haven’t found my particular situation. I’m going to be 31 in a month, and my biological clock is ticking. Jeez, I really hate writing that, but it’s true. Problem is, I only seem to attract younger guys who don’t want to have children. I tend to hang with a lot of artists and musicians, all in the early stages of their careers. Your articles (and my mother) say that based on my wants, I need to aim for older, more established guys. In the past I’ve never been able to picture myself with this type of man… You might as well ask me to date a martian! Now I think I may be ready for it…but my fear is that we won’t have a connection, and he’ll be condescending, treat me like a kid, or just an ego-boosting piece of ass. Or what if I DO meet a fantastic, fun, family-ready guy, would he even be interested in ME?

I’ve always been a bit of a scrappy tomboy. I hate jewelry, nail polish and high heels. I’m perpetually converse-clad and bed-headed. I haven’t owned a TV in 7 years because TV drives me crazy, and for 6 years (but not currently) I didn’t own a car. I have an insatiable music appetite and was an arty-punk in college–living in San Francisco, getting tattoos and joining a ragtag street bicycle “gang” of mostly guys. I had a boyfriend during most of my 20’s who was in a touring band, and we broke up when it became obvious I wasn’t his priority. Three years ago I left SF for LA as some of my friends grew up and moved to the ‘burbs and others descended into neverneverland. I found a new group of friends in LA and we have blast–karaoke parties, midnight bike rides, ultimate Frisbee and goofy croquet tournaments.

Wow, writing this I must sound like some sort of teenage street urchin, but there IS more to me. I am incredibly responsible, a college graduate and professional, and I haven’t been without a job since I was 15. I work as a graphic designer for a corporation, have a 401k and a rather hefty savings account. I’ve provided for myself independently since college and have lived by myself for the past 6 years. I travel extensively, I volunteer at an animal shelter once a week, and am involved in causes. I’m cultured and well read. I am attractive, incredibly active and fit–my body’s tighter than my 25-year-old sister’s–and I don’t eat junk.

I’m not one of the girls who is desperate for a fantasy-dream-princess wedding, if a wedding at all. I just want to fall in love with a terrific lover and companion who wants to be a partner in raising children. So, how do I get there?

Do I have to completely change how I am? Change my friends? Take up golf?!? I hope the answer is “no” to all of these questions, but I know SOMETHING has to change.

Thanks,

C.

Dear C,

I really appreciate the self-awareness in your email. In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve discovered that the less self-aware the question, the more powerful the answer – basically because I can tell the reader something she doesn’t already know. In your case, it seems you’ve thought this through considerably, and it’s harder for me to say something illuminating. But I’m sure gonna try.

I’d like you to consider a few clients that I’ve had over the years:

By restricting their tastes to a narrow slice of people, they exclude a vast majority of the eligible dating population.

  • A Jewish man who wore dreadlocks and wanted to marry someone Jewish
  • A man with a 170 IQ who needed a woman who could discuss his career in physics.
  • A woman who had 4 dogs who wanted a man who loved animals as she did.
  • A woman who was 50lbs overweight and wanted a traditionally attractive, fit man.
  • An Asian man who would only date white women.
  • A fiftyish woman who would only date cool, stylish, hip men with great taste in music.
  • A wealthy older man who would only date women 20 years younger with no kids who’d be willing to relocate.
  • A 57-year-old woman who refused to date any man older than she.

It doesn’t take a dating coach to identify that all of these intelligent, well-meaning, relationship-oriented folks might struggle to find suitable partners.

And it would be no judgment against any of them to suggest that by restricting their tastes to a narrow slice of people, they exclude a vast majority of the eligible dating population.

To parse this even further, I think we need to distinguish between two things: changing who you are vs. changing what you’re looking for.

Both are of equal importance and value when it comes to dating.

The more restrictions you put on, the harder it is to find a partner.

The woman who is 50lbs overweight and determines that she is comfortable and happy at that weight is well within her rights to draw that conclusion. She must also understand that if she’s looking for a mate, over 90% of the men adhere to the modern Western standard of beauty as seen in Maxim, Playboy or Vivid. This isn’t news, by any stretch of the imagination, but the ramifications aren’t always clear. They should be.

The more restrictions you put on, the harder it is to find a partner.

That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.

If we were to go through all of my clients above, what percentage of people are open to dating them? Let’s just do an approximation:

The percent of Jewish women who want a man with dreadlocks = the percentage of women who understand quantum physics = the percentage of men who want to have four dogs = the percentage of men who want obese women = the percentage of white women who prefer Asian men online = the percentage of fiftysomething men who are as cool as Bono = the percentage of 37-year-old women who don’t have kids, want kids and are willing to relocate = the percentage of 54-year-old men who want to date older women.

In other words, it’s slim pickings for everyone who has very definite ideas about who their partner should be. It’s not until you let go of those ideas that you find true happiness.

So how does this pertain to you, C?

Well, let’s do a little math exercise and consider:

a)     How many young male artists and musicians at the early stages of their careers make for good bets as husbands and fathers?

b)    How many men who make for good bets as husbands and fathers want to date a scrappy, tattooed tomboy who hates dressing in a feminine manner?

I think you’ll find that the first number hovers at less than 10% of musicians/artists and the second one can’t be much higher…

So if there are 10,000 men in a dating pool…

And 10% of them are creative types…that’s 1000 men.

Among that 1000, let’s say 10% of those young artists are successful and financially stable. That’s 100 men.

Among that 100, let’s say 10% of them are emotionally available and ready for marriage despite their shaky careers. That’s 10 men.

Among that 10, we haven’t even factored in whether they’re tall, cute, smart, funny, sane, cool, or have drinking/drugs/anger management problems…

The point is that you are perfectly valid in saying “this is who I am, this is what I want.”

But if you won’t change who you are, nor compromise what you’re looking for, it seems readily apparent that the pool of interested eligible men is, to say the least, small.

It sounds like you’re a grown-up, C, who likes hanging out with people who aren’t grown ups. That’s going to come back to bite you.

So I’m going to make a recommendation to you – one that might surprise a woman as smart and open-minded as you.

Stop judging everyone who is not a struggling artist with a bicycle and an iMac as being “wrong” for you.

Let go of the picture you had of your ideal guy and start experimenting with a new way of viewing dating.

Men who like football can be creative.

Men who watch television can be interesting.

Men with conventional careers can have karaoke parties.

Thus, your preconceptions are the big thing getting in the way of your own success. The idea that you need to have a person who is your clone, but male, is a fallacy.

You just need a guy who loves you and wants the same things in life. And your odds increase dramatically if you both open up to more men and appeal to more men.

I told the dreadlocks guy to cut his hair.

I told the older woman that there were older men who were in shape, too.

I told the physicist to get off his high horse and appreciate the virtues of smart, if not brilliant, women.

And I’m going to tell you to let go of the picture you had of your ideal guy and start experimenting with a new way of viewing dating.

Maybe it means dating on Nerve.com to find some urban hipsters. Maybe it means dating a divorced guy with a kid because he knows the importance of family. Maybe it means retiring the Converse when you’re on a date and leaving them for Saturday afternoons.

But you have enough going for you that I’m confident that you will find your prince.

Just make sure he picks you up in a car instead of on a bike, okay?

If you struggle with the same issues as today’s letter-writer, please http://www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/ to learn how I can help you separate what you should and should not compromise on in a partner. I promise, you will never have to SETTLE on a relationship again…

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Comments:

  1. 31
    starthrower68

    @A-L #23,

    I am in counseling and trying to figure it all out.

  2. 32
    C.

    Thanks for the well wishes! I have a promising date set up for next week! He *is* a bit younger than me, but a professional photographer and seems to have a good head on his shoulders. We’ll see!
    Starthrower, I think I can kinda relate to your sitch. I think I’ve aways been afraid to be this sexy, ultra-feminine woman that the men-folk seem to like. I’ve just always been a tomboy, and if I DO decide to get all dressed up to snag a man, I feel like I’ll resent him for being attracted to me. I don’t really get it, but its something I struggle with.
    Anyway, best of luck to you!
     
     

  3. 33
    Karl R

    C said: (#32)
    “if I DO decide to get all dressed up to snag a man, I feel like I’ll resent him for being attracted to me.”

    Shortly after I began reading this blog I discovered that many women look at a man’s shoes and judge a man based on how well he cares for them. Their theory being: if a man takes care of his shoes, he will also take care of his partner; if he doesn’t take care of his shoes, he won’t take care of his partner.

    To me, this is a ridiculous idea. I buy inexpensive but comfortable shoes, then wear them until they’re completely worn out.

    However, I didn’t want to limit my options just because some women might use this standard before getting to know me. So I bought a nice pair of shoes to wear on first dates. I figured that I could still be myself in a nicer pair of shoes.

    Do you ever dress up for job interviews? Do you resent your employer after they hire you? In either case you’re trying to get your foot in the door.

    C said: (original post)
    “older, more established guys. […] but my fear is that we won’t have a connection, and he’ll be condescending, treat me like a kid, or just an ego-boosting piece of ass.”

    Some might, other won’t. My girlfriend is significantly older than me. She’s never condescending, never treats me like a kid, etc. If she did, I would leave the relationship.

    If you see yourself as another person’s equal, they will have an easier time seeing you as their equal. (This is true outside of dating as well.)

  4. 34
    Sarah

    One extremely important fact that Evan does not consider in his mathematical analysis is that the men that you seek to date are not inert entities. If numbers were the only criteria for selling something, there would be no niche marketing in the world. As it is, there are a zillion sites for different kinds of people. In fact, the more unusual you are, the more fervent your fans. What if Apple tried to gain Microsoft’s market share by selling out? Would its customers have the same depth of passionate commitment? What if Dita von Teese decided to act like Cameron Diaz?
    That’s not to say that you can get by with zero fans. Some niche markets are too small to support products.
    But your math reveals a clear fallacy, Evan. I think better advice for unusual people, such as the Jewish man with dreadlocks, is to seek out places where Jewish women who like dreadlocks would go… Hippie Jew events, etc.
    Where should a hipster-ish but responsible girl go? The older members of the Burning Man community, maybe. But losing your natural market by pretending to be someone else is not a great strategy. it’s poor marketing, and I’m really surprised that it’s your best advice.

    1. 34.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sorry, Sarah, but your advice is actually no advice. You can be a niche market that’s so small that it doesn’t support itself. 90 year old men who want 20 year old women? I suppose you’d tell them that it’s okay and that they should just hang out at Hooters! Double amputees who crave basketball players? Prop yourself up in your wheelchair and target those lockerrooms!

      Telling the OP to keep doing what she’s doing doesn’t require any relationship expertise. Because if you’re a Jewish guy with dreadlocks, you’re already going to your Burning Man festivals…and wondering why there are so few Jews there. I’ll tell you why: a) because less than TWO percent of the U.S. population is Jewish and b) because a vast majority of Jewish people are drawn towards being doctors, lawyers, bankers, and talent agents, as opposed to blown-glass bong makers.

      If you reread my response, I didn’t tell the OP to pretend to be entirely different; I told her that she needed to broaden her horizons with men. And if you read her comment, she seemed to agree. Sorry you didn’t.

    2. 34.2
      Cat

      @Sarah: Get back to us when you find that mystical land “where Jewish women who like dreadlocks” reside. :) Clearly the guy in question couldn’t find it!

      And you’re really suggesting sending her to Burning Man to find responsible husband/father material? I think she made the point that she was trying to get away from “neverneverland.” Not marry into it…

      Evan’s point is: you can be as unusual as you want, but be prepared for the consequences of really limiting your dating options. Or you can be flexible and decide dreadlocks or high tops aren’t a core value that must be held onto at all costs… Changing your hair or your shoes is hardly “pretending to be someone else.” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  5. 35
    sayanta

    #35-

    EMK, about the careers to which”Jewish people are drawn” you forgot ‘rock star.’ (Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Anthony Kiedis, Billy Joel…lol).

    But in all seriousness, I’ve always found it interesting that Jewish people have that in common with Indians- I wonder why. Although, we pretty much stick to ‘doctor’ and ‘engineer.’ I’m the equivalent of Burning Man woman in my community by entering law.

  6. 36
    Sarah

    I live in that land… there are lots of Jews who like dreadlocks. Most of them aren’t bankers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
     
    And I think you are missing my point. Quirky hipsters is not such a small market that it doesn’t exist.
     
    You are also confusing two very different things:
    1) niche markets – people that like/are unusual things
    2) people who are not in demand in mainstream markets who want mainstream things
     
    1) is Apple Computer, vegan restaurants, Burning Man, Suicide Girls
    2) is going into Best Buy to buy a big-screen TV waving a $5 bill
     
    There is a huge difference between not having enough currency to buy something that is very much in demand (young hot rich people) and wanting or offering something unusual.
    C. is clearly in category 1). I don’t think it’s good advice to ask her to change– and not out of any sense of “being real” or whatever. Purely from a MARKETING standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to destroy brand equity to pretend that you are a mainstream product.
    I hope that makes sense — please do consider it, Evan.

    1. 36.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Sarah – the OP can STILL be into urban hipster things – hell, I am – and learn to broaden her horizons. It’s not an either/or.

      But her predilection for struggling young artists who are in no position to/have no desire to settle down is pretty much a one-way ticket to Singlesville. Don’t know how you can see it any other way.

      SHE may not have to change (although it may benefit her) but if she wants to get married and have kids, her tastes certainly need to broaden beyond her current slacker crowd.

  7. 37
    JuJu

    Cat # 36 said: “@Sarah: Get back to us when you find that mystical land “where Jewish women who like dreadlocks” reside. “
     
    I do! I do!  :-D
    Selena asked me in another thread if the “personal god” level chemistry is even possible, and this is kinda how I imagine my personal god: 6’2″-6’3″, built, with Mediterranean / Semitic features and long(ish) hair, possibly in dreads.
     
    I have yet to encounter anyone who even fits this description, let alone would be interested in me in return. ;-)
    I know, I know, a bit too much dwelling in the fantasy world. :-|
     
    But then, I think, the man in Evan’s story was considerably older than my age group – I really mean someone in his early to mid-thirties. I think this would be ridiculous on someone middle-aged.

  8. 38
    Karl R

    Sarah said: (#38)
    “You are also confusing two very different things:
    1) niche markets – people that like/are unusual things
    2) people who are not in demand in mainstream markets who want mainstream things”

    A lot of what C wants is mainstream. She wants kids. She wants a husband who helps provide for them. That describes about 75% of the women her age.

    How many women are attracted to artistic men? Half of them? Compare that the the number of artists/musicians who earn a steady living in that field. Those men are a niche market.

    What percentage of men want sexy women? Almost all of them. What percentage of men are only seeking non-sexy women? It’s an extremely small percentage. Compare that to the number of women who aren’t sexy (at least in how they present themselves to those around them). That’s a much larger percentage.

    If C is a sexy tomboy (and it sounds like she’s capable of being that), then she’s in a niche market where there’s some demand. If she can also come across as “a lady” when circumstances require (like at her boyfriend’s office Christmas party), then there will be even more demand.

    Think of it in terms of supply and demand. You want there to be more demand for people like you than there are people like you. You also want there to be a greater supply people you find desireable than there are people who desire them. Under those circumstances, it’s really easy to find someone.

    That’s why Evan is recommending that C expand the pool of men she considers -and- why he’s suggesting that she try to be appealing to a broader pool of men.

  9. 39
    C.

    Karl r said:
    “Do you ever dress up for job interviews? Do you resent your employer after they hire you? In either case you’re trying to get your foot in the door.”
    Yes I do dress up for interviews (but lucky for me I work for a company where I can dress casual).  In the past, all of my boyfriends were guys I met in friends’ circles, usually doing casual activities, so I never really needed to dress up. Now that I’m trying online dating, I intend to dress nicely for a first date I have coming up. I think I can pull off a basic preppy skirt and pretty flats and still feel like myself. I think its the overdone make-up, jewelry and manicure thing that I cannot do.
    I’m noticing, unfortunately, that most guys online regardless of age leave the “want kids” question blank. I could broaden my horizons to older, financially stable guys, only to find out they have no desire for a family. So at the moment, I’m a little confused as who to reach out for. I’m ignoring anyone who has a picture of themselves playing in a band, at least :P

  10. 40
    christina

    @C you can easily go and date a older than you if you want they will love to do all you are doing…i have some older friends who just like to go on their bike explore new places…so I don’t think you should have any problem with finding a right man for you best of luck.

  11. 41
    Sara Malamud

    Did you write this Evan?I had all these cases!! The last one,  A 55 year old woman who wanted to have children
    A Jewish man who wore dreadlocks and wanted to marry someone Jewish
    A man with a 170 IQ who needed a woman who could discuss his career in physics.
    A woman who had 4 dogs who wanted a man who loved animals as she did.
    A woman who was 50lbs overweight and wanted a traditionally attractive, fit man.
    An Asian man who would only date white women.
    A fiftyish woman who would only date cool, stylish, hip men with great taste in music.
    A wealthy older man who would only date women 20 years younger with no kids who’d be willing to relocate.
    A 57-year-old woman who refused to date any man older than she

  12. 42
    Sara Malamud

    I would like to comment on the post of the person who wants to lose weight first. I have heard that before, a client also told me that she had to change the curtains first as this kept her too busy. Have you read the book: ”Excuses, Excuses, Excuses” ?

  13. 43
    jack

    Know what the real problem with a lot of people is? They are psychotically obsessed with asserting their “individuality”.
    Although most of them simply assert it by being a hipster, tattoo-collecting type, biker type, thug type, or whatever.
    Bottom line: You are not that special. You are one LITTLE blip of humanity on the eons-long stage of human existence. Everyone seems to want to be an army-of-one fashion statement, and all to what end? Try being a little boring and normal – it isn’t so bad. Hipsters seem especially emotionally fragile about all this; they would simply DIE to be seen anywhere without their scruff-beards and trucker hats. They fear looking boring because they know that in the absence of their non-conformity uniform, they are as boring as all get-out. They rail about how “edgy” they are, but their edginess comes from the local used clothing store.
    Whatever.
    Quit trying to make every moment of your life into a fashion statement. Embrace the fact that 100 years from now, not one of your achievements is likely to matter. Except… The achievement MOST likely to matter is a legacy of having raised children that love and respect themselves and others. That will last much longer than your tattoo collection, indie record collection, or whatever other meaningless thing you think is so important.
    C:
    I worked in food service with a million girls exactly like you. They were very nice girls, but nowhere near as “unique” as they imagined themselves to be. It got old – they never missed a chance to try and prove how different they were. My suspicion is that you harbor a certain sense of superiority over typical middle-class folks, and your tattoos and midnight biking are means by which you prove TO YOURSELF that you are not just another mundane person.
    99.999% of us a just normal average people. For many people, the tattoos and edgy uptown living are NO DIFFERENT than the SUV-soccer-mom status markers of suburban living.
    You only need to change ONE THING about yourself: The attitude that you are really any different than the rest of us.
    You aren’t; you are just another person who wants to be in a loving relationship, have children, and be at peace with life – you are a little afraid of being judged (which you stated), and you probably have developed some of your tomboy-edgy tendencies to deal with uncertainties about where feminine behavior fits in with your world view and in your social group. Let it go.
    When we give up the pretense that we are much different than others, we feel much more free.
    1) Find a nice guy who makes you laugh and treats you good
    2) Spend time with him until you are totally into him, and don’t spend time comparing him to other men or window shopping
    3) Marry him, and never for one second entertain second thoughts.
     
    Good luck.
     

  14. 44
    szopen

    Hmm, just a bit of advice. I don’t know what about America, but in my country single mothers over 30 have extremely low chances of getting a husband. An advice to get your own biological child is an advice to severely reduce your chances to find a husband. You may find this fact unpleasant, and it might be different in USA … but somehow I doubt it would (be different).

  15. 45
    Cari

    C,

    Sounds like you are at a great place in life! I am 28, and I can relate to your experience. Life is exciting without a TV. Still, staying busy sometimes makes it hard to meet people outside of the usual commitments. I’m living abroad and I don’t want to marry a foreign guy, so sometimes I feel like I should move back to the US asap- but I am afraid that i would still be waiting around. 

    Anyway, I just want to say you rock and that I wish you luck!  

  16. 46
    Aria

     C- I’m the same age as you and I can relate to your situation.  My mainstream boyfriend broke up with me last week and I randomly did a search looking for dating advice for unusual women seeking mainstream men (i.e. marriage and children).  I am SO glad that Evan posted your question.  This is a very rare dating predicament with not a whole of advice out there for this unique situation. 

    I am a bit of a hybrid.  I’m in a conventional career (Master’s prepared Registered Nurse), seeking marriage and children, but I am also a fire artist, a “Burner” (in the Burning Man community), a pole dance- and cirque-art enthusiast, and I’ve also dabbled in clothing-catalog and swim-wear modeling.  So I am an artist/dancer/Burner on the inside and a conservative health-care professional on the outside.   This combination has been a challenge for me because I can seem to find one or the other, but not both, or at least a man who accepts my dual nature.
    Sarah had suggested the older men of the Burning Man community as a possible option for the OP.  While there are some great ones in my community, I would recommend proceeding with caution.  Many men in my community are into polyamory, don’t have stable careers, and are into a lot of drugs for recreational, party use.  Quite frankly, I was SO over the unstable, uncommitted men on drugs in my Burning Man community that I went mainstream in order to open up to more men, as Evan had advised.   Don’t get me wrong, I love my community, but I just don’t like certain aspects of it. 
    I think that I’m too unusual for the mainstream men.  My boyfriend who broke up with me last week indicated that he didn’t agree with my world-view, he claims that I was more spiritual than him and he didn’t like that.   I have no idea what he means, as he never provided an example and he couldn’t explain it.  He also didn’t feel like he “would fit it with my community.”  I reassured him that he need not be apart of my community at all, but he is welcome to check it out if he feels like it. 
    After this relationship and the one before this one, who was also a successful and good-looking mainstream man, I realized that I have to continue to tone down my “unusual” self in order to appeal to more men.   Unlike you, I do want to change.  I actually do want to be a “Cameron Diaz.” 
    I got rid of my X-stage pole in my bedroom.  I dyed my hair blonde.   I started going to different kinds of events and trying other hobbies, like skiing and archery.  I won’t ever give up my fire spinning and I will stay true to who I am inside, a deep and adventurous individual, but I see the value in diversifying and culturing myself in order to both learn more about the world around me and to appeal to more men. 

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