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.



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