Why Do I Still Get Dumped Even When I Settle?


I read your newsletter “Why Chasing Attraction is a Losing Strategy in Love” this morning. It was, of course, spot on and the same thing all of my non-single friends have been telling me for the past 5 years. As a woman in my mid-40’s, I’ve actually come to (mostly) accept that advice.

I met a guy that normally I would not be physically attracted to and decided to give it a chance. Guess what? The dude broke my heart just like the hot men that I normally meet. Turns out he really wanted nothing more than sex. Now I hear from him every couple of weeks when he’s in the mood for a bootie call. Unfortunately, now I’m attracted to him for reasons other than just the physical – which makes me feel worse! I’m attractive, physically fit, have a successful career and a sense of humor. What gives?

Honestly, getting my heart broken by the non-stud was more disappointing and heart-wrenching than getting it stepped on by the hotties. At least with the hotties I know what to expect. Any advice? I feel like I should just give up, stick with the hotties who want only one thing, and realize maybe that is all that is in the cards for women my age. But I’d really like to have a real relationship.


Dear Nancy,

Sorry about your most recent heartbreak and thanks for your kind words about my newsletter. To synopsize what others may have missed, I made the radical suggestion that if you’ve spent your life chasing hot, brilliant men, only to discover that they are arrogant, narcissistic, selfish, emotionally unavailable and commitmentphobic, then it may be time to choose men who are slightly less attractive and intelligent but make up for it in love, devotion, kindness, humor, effort and loyalty.

Sounds like a good trade-off, no?

When you make yourself emotionally vulnerable to a man: it doesn’t guarantee reciprocation.

Anyway, the positive takeaway from your email is that you tried it “my” way and, sure enough, you ended up falling for the guy. Hallelujah! You’ve just proven that it is possible to become attracted and emotionally connected to a man who would not have ordinarily been on your radar. Consider this a great new paradigm for the rest of your love life.

But there’s a catch when you’re making yourself emotionally vulnerable to a man: it doesn’t GUARANTEE reciprocation.

And thus, you’re left with this irrational feeling that it’s better to get used by a hot player than to open up to the possibility of love with a “regular” guy.

Sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you take some pleasure in getting used by hot men who have no capacity or desire for commitment. If so, fire away!

Essentially, you’re saying, if I’m GOING to get hurt, it might as well be by a 10.

Um, I guess you could take that philosophy.

I would sooner look at it like this:

Men who are 10’s on paper aren’t always 10’s in relationships.

You’ve established that men who are 10’s on paper aren’t always 10’s in relationships. In fact, many of them are 3s and 4s in terms of consistency, effort, and commitment.

Thus, you’ve deduced that it may be wiser to date a man who is a 6 or a 7 in looks/brilliance, but a 10 in other areas that matter more in the long run.

Sound reasoning.

But men are still men – and just because he’s not Brad Pitt doesn’t mean that he’s PROMISING to fall in love with you, that he’s GUARANTEED to be ready for commitment, that he KNOWS that he wants to build a family at the same time you are.

In other words, 7’s are men, too. Men with reasonable doubts, fears and issues.

You can wall yourself off from all men for fear of getting hurt, but that would accomplish absolutely nothing.

If you go out with a guy for 3 months and he says he’s not ready for a serious relationship, what does that mean?

Does it mean that you were an awful girlfriend? No.

Does it mean that he’s a selfish bastard? No.

Does it mean that you should never date another man like this? No.

All it means is that you invested in a man, the investment didn’t pay off, and now it’s time to find another man who gives you a greater return on investment.

That’s it.

So stop with this silliness that all “lesser” men are obliged to worship you because they’re not Brad Pitt. This is dating. You could have done the same thing to him.

It’s not personal. It’s life.

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  1. 31

    The truth I have seen really fat unattractive women happy with a man. So if your better way better than a really fat women than there has to be something wrong with you. It is your personality.
    I was watching Mad Man last night women are very much into there looks because thats what men see but the truth men care about personality way more than what you look like. But if he had the choose between two girls with similar levels of personality he would pick the more attractive one. The truth personality is more important than looks.

  2. 32

    Wow!! I’m Nancy – thanks everyone for all the great feedback and thank you Evan for some real food for thought. Just to redeem myself a bit here:  I’m not self-centered, I have been married, I don’t blame men or I wouldn’t have written Evan (I am a huge proponent of taking responsiblity for our own lives and the results of our own actions) and this was a learning exercise in stepping outside of my comfort zone. To those of you who wondered why I kept answering the phone when the guy called – the answer is simple – because I was hoping. I am still hopeful, but perhaps not with this relationship. There are some awesome responses – wish I could meet many of you in person! Clearly I don’t visit this site enough and will have to make it a point to become a more frequent visitor.

    As for the guy, I saw him again this weekend. It was a great example of doing the same thing and yet expecting different results – oops. I’m still attracted to him and I’m still human – when we’re together he is awesome – although I saw some interesting personality changes this time around. He’s awesome until the point at which we part ways – and I don’t hear from him for weeks. One of my closest friends put it best when she said “nanc, what do you expect? you allow this to happen”. Having just sat here and read through all the great responses (positive and negative), I can honestly say that I have. I can also say that I’ve learned much and won’t judge all men based on my experiences with a few.

    Picking myself up, learning, and moving on………….

  3. 33
    Kat Wilder

    I’m going to second (third? fourth?) what some others above have said.
    It seems there may be a “too fast, too soon” thing going on … along with expectations (“I’m so great; what’s wrong with him?”) and, pardon me for being blunt, a neediness.
    You want a relationship. You’ve been dating for five years without much (long-term) luck). It’s easy to get frustrated and bitter (not saying that you are). Men you’re meeting may not be feeling the same thing, quite honestly; they may not be looking to settle down.
    I think you might be approaching dating by looking at each man as a partner, instead of looking at him as a date and seeing where you fit and where you don’t. Getting dumped is the price we pay for trying to figure it out. Sorry, but there’s no other way to do it.
    Except an arranged marriage.

  4. 34

    Bill #25, while your point is valid in some cases, women don’t always use sex to keep a man around or interested. Sometimes we have sex because we physically feel like it and really like a man. Because we are sometimes capable of the same feelings of lust and attraction that men are. However, most women aren’t going to sleep with a man that they don’t seem more potential for. From a female perspective, I personally don’t like how men will say they want something more then just sex, even get upset if they are protrayed as sex chasers only, but if sex is offered, will take the woman up on it. Then act like it’s her fault for “giving it up” too soon. I often feel like women are responsible for not only their actions but his actions as well because 9 times out of 10 the woman is blamed for sleeping too soon with a guy and a guy is defended as being a “man” and it being okay that he went on a whim of his hormones. And all the while, while men will pander to their hormones, women aren’t suppose to think that all they are interested in sex. It’s a bit confusing to be honest.

    Chris #20, I’m personally not a fan of the scale of rating people 1-10 because I think it’s high schoolerish. But I do think even average guys think they deserve a certain level above themselves. Even you in your advice, you say that men will settle for who accepts them (not flattering either to a woman either :) ) but you got to admit that you are  bragging a little bit that you’ve dated women who you consider “10s” who accepted you and one who will be your wife. So while I don’t think men will hold out for super attractive women, I do think men hold these women above all others and even if they are with an average girl, will spend the rest of their lives lusting after super hot ones even if they form a relationship with a woman who accepts him.

  5. 35
    Karl R

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “I personally don’t like how men will say they want something more then just sex, even get upset if they are protrayed as sex chasers only, but if sex is offered, will take the woman up on it. Then act like it’s her fault for ‘giving it up’ too soon.”

    Let me draw a comparison.

    Most women say they aren’t into guys for their money, and get angry if they’re portrayed as gold-diggers only. But I’ve never had a woman refuse to go on a date just because it cost me over $100 or $200 … even when the relationship was never going to become that serious.

    If a man can’t afford to spend more than $50 on a casual date, then it’s his responsibility to choose dates within his budget. The woman’s not to blame if he doesn’t.

    If it’s “too soon” in a relationship for you to have sex, then it’s your responsibility to say “No.”

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “because 9 times out of 10 the woman is blamed for sleeping too soon with a guy”

    9 times out of 10 it’s the woman who is complaining about the consequences. If the man is complaining about the consequences, I’ll happily point out to him that he is responsible for his choices, and that he gets to live with the consequences of those choices.

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “and it being okay that he went on a whim of his hormones.”

    It’s okay with me if you choose to have sex on a whim of your hormones. But if you choose to do so, it’s not the man’s responsibility to tell you that you shouldn’t. He’s your date, not your mother.

    You seem very interested in “fault” and “blame” with regards to sex. If a man and a woman meet, decide to have sex, and end up in bed together all within 10 minutes, they both made a consensual decision. If both of them end up being happy with that decision, would you say that either of them is at fault or should be blamed? If both of them end up being unhappy with that decision, wouldn’t you say that both of them are responsible for making a bad decision.

    So if one person ends up being happy with the decision, and one person ends up being unhappy with the decision….

    I’m going to say that the unhappy person is responsible for making a decision which led to unhappiness. The happy person is responsible for making a decision that they’re happy with. From my point of view, the way you seek to ascribe “fault” and “blame” to the happy party (for a consensual decision) seems ludicrous.

  6. 36

    Does this guy, whether a 10 or a 5, think that you would make a good wife or mother of his child?  Or like every Guy, he’s just interested in Sex without the relationship?  Because it seems like most women, you want a “Relationship” but like most men, “he wants only sex” – If you want a relationship, then you have to ask the Guy if he is serious about marriage, because without marriage, a guy will eventually leave you.  Even marriage is not a guarantee for loyalty, but at least there will be financial consequences.

  7. 37

    I totally understand Nancy. This totally sucks. We learn (the hard way) that hot guys can treat you like trash. They can do this – we are told – because they have SO many other options they can afford to trample on a good woman’s love and affection, confident that there will always be another one waiting round the corner. Average guys, so the theory goes, have LESS options so they are less inclined to trample on a good thing when it comes along. But hey! Not so in Nancy’s case.So we are left with – the hot guys think they can treat you like trash. The average guys ALSO thing they can treat you like trash.Who does that leave??????
    Sorry if I sound kinda fed up here but I just had a text an hour ago (A TEXT!) from the guy I’ve been seeing cancelling our date for tomorrow evening (and forevermore) because he’s suddenly decided he’s quitting his job and moving back to France. A text. No discussion, no “how do YOU feel about me quitting my job and moving back to France?” just a text saying game over.

  8. 38

    Nothing stings worse than being ditched by someone you weren’t initially into, especially someone you chose with the thought that they would (in this case, believing they should) worship you. Been there. The sting is critical, but it teaches a valuable lesson about not believing yourself above OR beneath anyone. 
    If it feels like settling, it is settling. I don’t care about women’s lib – as a woman myself, I am acutely aware of the trick oxytocin will play on your head after you begin sleeping with a guy – hold off on the sex until you’re clear in YOUR head how YOU feel about him, what YOU want from this thing and where YOURE willing to go. 
    Cause, I mean…. this truly sounds like a case of a broken ego, not a broken heart. 
    Bottom line: Why waste your own time forcing things? There’s a difference between giving a decent guy a chance to sweep you off your feet, but be clear to that as your strategy and don’t “fall” for someone who hasn’t swept you away. An don’t fall for him the second he does sweep you away unless that little internal voice (the one you know that I know about because we all have one) can, in good conscious, release the need to question his motives. If you’re a skeptic you’re always asking yourself what things mean. And at the end of the day, trust is what quiets that voice. So if the voice is still questioning things, and or you feel anxious, walk. BUT, if there’s no real need to question or feel anxious and you feel it anyway, work on trust issues. You may have to face your own unavailability for the answer to the question as to why you keep ending up with unavailable men.

  9. 39

    Nancy, don’t drop your standards in who you date. Date the guy that you feel attracted to.
    The answer in finding what you want is to know how to read his intentions, not settling down for anything less than what you want and be prepared to dump him at the first signs that he is not going to give you commitment. Pay attention on how much he invests in you and how much he respects you.
    Keep moving, keep dating, don’t stop, don’t settle, don’t accept any form of disrespect, don’t nag and don’t moan. Observe, make your own conclusions and take the decision if it is worth moving on or staying. Never explain yourself. Get standards if you don’t have already and stick to them. That’s what will make you be the prize.

  10. 40

    I say go for your what like. As another commentor posted, it does’t take long to figure out if a man is after sex, no matter how he looks. When you get those signs or he tells you he’s not looking for anything serious, bail!

    I have also tried to date men that I wasn’t attracted to, and they also never treated me any better than the hot men I was used to dating. Some of them even stalked me. Less attractive men were no more nicer, didn’t treat me any better and didn’t put me any closer to being in a committed relationship.

    The notion that a less hot guy will treat you better or commit is a myth and misnomer.  You have the right to like and not like whatever you want.  Regardless of looks, avoid anyone who is not giving you want you want.  And don’t settle for what you don’t want just to have a man, because that doesn’t guarantee you a good relationship either.  

  11. 41

    I have dated a man for 18 years; and I still do not know him.

    At one point we lived together in the beginning of the relationship; we helped each other, I was sick could not work full time; but did a lot of the housework so I did end up working more than full time but he did too.

    I moved on my own  8 years later,  we began dating about 5 months or so after my solo move.  Here it is 18 years total and I am not sure.


    Now I want to move on.

    And I will and take my chances.

    We do the best we can.



  12. 42


    Many women’s biggest issue with men is that they don’t typically say “I’m not ready for a relationship.” I unfortunately know very few truly completely and totally honest men. I know many more liars and cheaters and dishonest men than I know honest men. Some of the biggest liars and cheaters I know are actually married. I feel for their wives.

    At any rate, my point is, many men are not being honest about how they really feel, and what they really want. They do and say whatever they have to in order to get what they want from women. If she starts doing too much and their back is against the wall, and/or if they get caught, then they are honest.

    1. 42.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      You overestimate the problem based on your life experience. 20-25% of married men cheat over the course of their lives. 15-20% of women do as well. So if the majority of men you know are dishonest, I feel bad for you, but don’t think they’re a representative sample of all men. The second you, as a woman, feel you’ve cornered the market on being “good” and that “men” are XYX bad traits, you’re sunk. You may believe it with all your heart, but it’s a biased, false and disempowering narrative. The reason you’ve found men to be so troublesome in dating is because you date men. Start dating women and you’ll find the exact same thing. Promise.

      1. 42.1.1


        I’m well aware that everyone lies and cheats. I’m not being biased at all.

        But even from an internationally cultural standpoint, men tend to cheat and desire more than one woman at a time moreso than women cheat and even desire more than one man. How much do you hear about women desiring more than one husband? I don’t think men like to admit this flaw that they have, but it is. In fact it’s in the bible. How men women desired multiple men as opposed to men desiring multiple wives and women. Even where the bible speaks about homosexuality, it’s from the perspective of men desiring sex from men because they couldn’t get it from women, not women desiring other women. I understand that this is something innate that’s in men. Not necessarily the desire to cheat, but the desire to spread their seeds and a typically a stronger sexual desire than women. This is also medically proven through science.

        I also understand that the guys I know don’t represent all men. I do know some truly honest men, however, my point is they are the exceptions, not the rules.

        By all means, if you know a large number of honest, truthful, respectful, and consistent men, please share them with the good women that you know.  *smile*  :)

        1. Karmic Equation

          Hi Jenai,

          Noticing other women is different from lusting is different from acting upon that lust.

          A) Almost all men will notice other attractive women.

          B) Some men will notice and lust.

          C) Some men will lust and act upon that lust by approaching her.

          Most men lie somewhere between A and B.

          It’s only the men in C that you have to worry about. The A-B men are normal. And how much they love you and value your relationship will determine where in the continuum between A and B he lies.

        2. Jenai

          Key Karmic,

          I agree with your points. One thing I’ve learned from all the men I’ve ever known is that even when a man cheats, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he doesn’t love his wife/gf and/or is not in love with her. Men cheat for a variety of reasons, some different than women. I do believe that most men that do cheat will Not leave their wife/sig other. People do crazy things in the heat of the moment, it’s human nature. As Evan said, it doesn’t make them a bad and horrible person.

          Sometimes cheating doesn’t always happen out of sheer lust. I’ve had married men and men in relationships bond with me the same as they did their wives when they first started dating them. Like in the workplace for ex. If your working closely with someone, going to lunch with them often, working on a project with them, sharing with them, talking to them and you both get along usually you end up bonding. This imo is the most dangerous type of affair because it’s of the heart where the man can fall in love with the other woman. Most all men I know can fairly easily walk away from a woman they just lust after, regardless of whether they sleep with her or not. It’s not so easy if they’ve formed a bond with her and find themselves falling in love with her.

          From what I’ve seen, heard and experienced, the root of the problem is in weakness and not knowing how to say no and draw the line. Knowing when to stop the formation of a deep bond with someone else before it even starts. Knowing how to resist temptation. Since the beginning of time this has been mans biggest weakness, and downfall.

          Men have told me that no matter how much they love their sig others, they are weak and have a hard time resisting temptation when its always there. I think this is something men have to learn to work on and this is an area they need to strengthen themselves in.

          At the end of the day, regardless of whether a man is super fine and sexy, or fat, ugly and unattractive, or very attractive but broke, a weak man is a weak man. And unfortunately he will almost always succumb to temptation when he’s presented with it, until he learns how to resist.

          I understand from a psychological standpoint how damn near impossible it can be unlearn something that is natural to you, and something that becomes a part of who you are. It’s a process that takes time and patience, like anything else.

  13. 43

    This advice makes perfect sense but I also understand the disappointment that Nancy is feeling. Having adopted a strategy of giving more men a chance over the last few years I haven’t had much success with it and it is frustrating to be dumped by men I wouldn’t have even considered ten years ago. I can’t help but wonder if it is really worth the effort. Life is hard enough without all of this. So I have pretty much decided only to date men on a similar social level where there is some sort of spark and walk away if they turn out to be interested in just one thing and spend the rest of my time on other things I enjoy more than bad dates. Is it working? Maybe not so far and maybe it won’t but then nor was anything else and at least this way I have more time to do other things I like instead of spending all of it on a potentially endless quest. Just my two cents.

  14. 44

    I personally think love and finding “the one” is about 80% chance. There really is no rhyme or reason to it most times. I think really good dating coaches, and people in general can match people with the people better suited for them if they get a good idea of who the person is. But a persons family can also do this. Regardless though, there are no guarantees.

    I watched that show married at first sight. Only 2 of the couples stayed together in the beginning.

    But even those couples eventually after more time together broke up.

    What’s needed is programs to teach people how to love and how to compromise, and how to be reasonable, and how to have staying power in a long term relationship. Teach them how to debate, how to handle disagreements, hardships, trials, and tribulations. This imo seems to be the root of many peoples problems.

    I honestly don’t know any married couple that has been married for well over 10 years that didn’t go through some very serious issues. So serious that many people would have walked away. But they chose to stay together. That is what made the difference.

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