Your Ideal Partner: The One Who Puts Up With You

Your Ideal Partner - The One Who Puts Up With You

I’d like to call Alain de Botton the highbrow European Evan Marc Katz, but that would be too flattering to myself. He’s a Swiss-born, British based-philospher who has been publishing books since he was 23. Now, at 46, his fifteenth book is called The Course of Love.

The New York Times just excerpted a passage and I thought it was worth sharing with you for its insightfulness. It’s called Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person. Once again, the reason I give so much free advice and created Love U is to ensure that you DON’T marry the wrong person. But de Botton’s premise sure does have a basis in truth.

“The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.”

de Botton points out that our partners are equally blind to how they come across, and because we have traded out convenience-based marriage (your parents are educated and think you should be together) with feeling-based marriage, some serious complications have ensued.

Whether you know it or not, your ideal partner is the one who puts up with you.

“What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason, that catalyst of misery, that accountant’s demand. The prestige of instinct is the traumatized reaction against too many centuries of unreasonable reason.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

“But though we believe ourselves to be seeking happiness in marriage, it isn’t that simple. What we really seek is familiarity — which may well complicate any plans we might have had for happiness. We are looking to recreate, within our adult relationships, the feelings we knew so well in childhood. The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes. How logical, then, that we should as grown-ups find ourselves rejecting certain candidates for marriage not because they are wrong but because they are too right — too balanced, mature, understanding and reliable — given that in our hearts, such rightness feels foreign. We marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.”

There you have it. A terse, logical, powerful explanation as to why men choose hot and crazy women and women choose selfish, abusive, unavailable men – as opposed to healthy partners who treat you consistently well. Concludes the author:

“The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”

I’d swear to God if I believed in one; THIS is the secret to a happy marriage.

Beautiful sentences; same sentiment you’ve been reading here for nearly a decade. 🙂

Whether you know it or not, your ideal partner is the one who puts up with you. After years of arrogantly looking for a woman just like me, that’s exactly what I discovered in my wife.

I’d swear to God if I believed in one; THIS is the secret to a happy marriage.

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Comments:

  1. 1
    EH

    Love it!  Thank you for sharing.

  2. 2
    Elly Klein

    My boyfriend and I saw Alain de Botton speak at the Sydney Opera House. You can actually watch his full talk on YouTube at The School of Life. My boyfriend took the time to read The Course of Love and loved it! But I’m a Love U graduate, so I was already way ahead of him. 😉 Great post, Evan.

  3. 3
    ScottH

    Another must-read book along these lines is Getting the Love You Want by Harville Hendrix.  Every married couple should read that book.  In it, he talks about why we choose the person we do (as explained above in this blog) and the power struggle that ensues and what happens to the lucky couples who are able to emerge on the other side of the struggle still intact.  He also talks about the old brain and how it works and what’s going on in our subconscious.  Really good stuff.

  4. 4
    Christine

    Very good article and post.  I would also add that your ideal partner is also the one who you are willing to put up with!  It goes both ways.  Me and my guy, being only human, are far from perfect.  However, we work because we are willing to put up with each other’s idiosyncrasies (and we both have our fair share!)

    “Balanced, mature, understanding and reliable”…that describes him down to a tee so I think we can have a very happy life together.  I really am done with the emotionally unavailable men I dated before.  I’ve forgiven myself for making those dating mistakes, and have moved on from them.  I just had to really learn those lessons from experience.  I’m just thankful I at least didn’t marry any of those fools!

     

     

  5. 5
    S.

    This was lovely.  And sad in a way.  This part:

    As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of enlightening us. One of the privileges of being on our own is therefore the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

    It’s true but sad. Even as a friend, I try to help my friends out.  But I don’t want to hurt their feelings.  As I’ve always said, I’m not a toughlove person.  I don’t give toughlove well, nor do I receive toughlove well.  I do think I have a impression of what I am like to live with? But most people I have lived with, friends or family, have loved or liked me a lot before we lived together.  The few roommates, were just for a year because of college or other life things.

    but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement.

    I think that people have to have the capacity for compromise and growth.  We don’t need to be carbon copies of one another but we do need to 1) respect each other even if we are different and 2) actually know how to resolve problems with someone who may be very different.   Number 2 is so difficult!

    The only man I ever seriously considered marrying, I knew because I’d know him for years before we dated and I knew his flaws at the outset. I knew I could live with them.  It’s hard to find other people whose flaws I can actually live with.  It’s character stuff that Evan says we shouldn’t compromise on.  As for me, the men who enjoy dating me  for some time seem to be able to live with my flaws.  But I don’t know if I actually show my flaws right away.  The men who only date me a short time, nope, one thing they don’t like and they are out.

    It’s funny. It’s not about what we can live with in the person that is always the determining factor. There are so many other things: family, distance, values about money and kids, childhood trauma, different stages of life, those seem to be unbridgeable in comparison to a person’s personal flaws.

    But I guess it’s about being able to live with that person’s stuff, all of it.  Their values, their stage of life, their . . . everything.  No wonder it’s so difficult to find someone! And if you and that person feel you can live with each other’s everything, grab on and don’t let go.

  6. 6
    Adrian

    Could someone help me understand something?!

    Evan has casually mentioned this either directly or indirectly more than 4 times in the last month (including on podcast). Perhaps it is my background in dating and my having warm, loving family experiences during childhood; because I just can not comprehend (or even truly believe) this happens- perhaps on very rare occasions sure, but not enough to be normal.

    What I am talking about is the quintessence of why a person leaves a good relationship; or the more suitable example that people use, why a great partner would decide to leave them.

    Now I am not saying it does not happen, but what I am saying is that it is very very hard for me to picture a person (male or female) who has a great partner that “actively” tries to make them happy, accepts them flaws and all, and shows them daily that they love them.

    Yet this man or woman will leave such a person because they are afraid of that type of relationship!?!

    1. 6.1
      ScottH

      Adrian- I think you’ll be getting a LOT of responses to this question.

      My answer- people leave loving relationships because loving relationships make them uncomfortable.  It’s called commitment phobia but there are many many other reasons for someone to leave a “good” relationship.    My 2nd commitment phobe dumped me even though she told me that I was a great guy, fun, funny, smart, and sweet (and pretty damn easy on the eyes too, if I may say so myself) but that she wasn’t feeling the same way about me as I did about her, even though she said and did so many things to indicate that she did feel the same.  it was so incredibly sudden.  Once these people get the commitment, they get uncomfortable and start looking for a way out.

      My first CP told me that she described me to a friend as good and reliable and nice to her in a way that made her freak out (mind you, I was only courteous, not obsequious).  She proceeded to do some pretty weird things and then eventually dumped me for stupid reasons.  Insanity if you ask me.

      I’m sure everybody here has many stories like this.

    2. 6.2
      Emily, the original

      Hi Adrian,

      it is very very hard for me to picture a person (male or female) who has a great partner that “actively” tries to make them happy, accepts them flaws and all, and shows them daily that they love them.

      Yet this man or woman will leave such a person because they are afraid of that type of relationship!?!

      I think this is what you are referring to: Let’s say a woman was raised by a father who was distant and emotionally unavailable. She spent her childhood trying to get his attention. If she meets a man who is open and available, she won’t have to chase his affection. He will seem boring. There will be no challenge. So even though he may be a good partner for her, she’ll go after the guy who is giving her very little. The dynamic is familiar.

      1. 6.2.1
        Karmic Equation

        Hi Emily,

        This is the problem “There will be no challenge.” The woman is perceiving an “activated attachment system” as a POSITIVE — she “feels” things, like anxiety and obsession for the guy, and perceives the “feelings” as indications of something great: He’s the one. He’s got something that’s worth desiring, yada yada.

        She perceives NOT having feelings of anxiety and obsession as a NEGATIVE. Because she believes a “challenge” is “positive”.

        She needs to get rewired, as the current wiring is NOT conducive to her finding lasting love. She needs recognize that an activated attachment system is a NEGATIVE and not a positive. Instead of perceiving a “challenge” as a positive, she needs to see that a “challenge” indicates a red flag. This rewiring may require a professional’s help to undo.

        1. Emily, the original

          Karmic Equation,

          There has to be a happy medium between too much challenge and no challenge at all. The problem with the latter is that the person is totally available to you immediately. It should take time to get to know someone, to earn someone’s trust and prove you are worthy of investing in. Neediness isn’t always what someone says or does. It’s a state of mind, wherein someone is telegraphing LIKE ME, LIKE ME, LIKE ME.

        2. ScottH

          I read something yesterday about this that was fascinating:   “nothing makes a lab rat push the pedal harder than an inconsistent reward.”    Inconsistent reward was discussed in one of these blogs a while ago.  Very interesting concept.  I think this explains how people get addicted to slot machines.

          I got the above quote from a book I highly recommend by Jeb Kinnison- Bad Boyfriends, Applying Attachment Theory to finding Mr/Ms Right.  this book is a great complement to Attached.

        3. Emily, the original

          ScottH,

          I’m not talking about inconsistent reward. I’m talking about someone whose personal energy reads that they are desperate for validation and approval, despite not doing anything outwardly (calling too much, texting too much) to show it.

        4. Emily, the original

          ScottH,

          Also, for me, anyway, the more I like someone, the more I may channel that type of needy energy. Which is why it is so easy to attract people we have no interest in. Around them, we are confident and relaxed and projecting “I don’t give a shit,” because, well, we don’t, and that attitude can be very appealing.

        5. ScottH

          Emily- you were talking about an activated attachment system, which according to Attached isn’t healthy and indicative of a roller coaster type relationship which results from inconsistent interactions, I think…I’ll have to read that part of the book again.

          You’re right.  People aren’t attracted to excessively needy  (anxious) people.  In my last couple of relationships, I was well aware that in early relationships I was excessively needed but was determined not to be, or appear to be, that way again and I think I was successful.  I was not going to be anxious because it wasn’t worth it.  If it didn’t work out, it didn’t work out and I wasn’t going to be crushed (although I was when they ended).

        6. Karmic Equation

          Emily wrote:

          “It should take time to get to know someone, to earn someone’s trust and prove you are worthy of investing in.”

          I’m just having a hard time wrapping my head around all the needy guys that are attracted to you. Are you certain that what you term “needy” isn’t just them being emotionally available and kind, which is a whole different animal than “needy”?

          What are these guys doing to “telegraph” their neediness?

        7. Emily, the original

          Karmic Equation,

          I didn’t write there were a steady stream of needy men after me. I wrote that it is easy to attract someone you aren’t interested in because you aren’t trying.

          And, like it or not, that’s the attitude a lot of women like in “bad boys” or whatever you want to call them. They aren’t so obviously trying to win you over. There’s a confidence and a self-containment.

           

        8. Emily, the original

           
          ScottH
          Emily- you were talking about an activated attachment system, which according to Attached isn’t healthy and indicative of a roller coaster type relationship which results from inconsistent interactions.

          I have read about the three attachment styles but don’t know much about an activated attachment system. I will have to check out that book.

    3. 6.3
      Karmic Equation

      Hi Adrian,

      I believe more women suffer from this phenomenon than men, because women tend to equate the STRENGTH of her feelings for a man with the man’s WORTHINESS of those feelings. In other words, the stronger her feelings, the more worthy of her love he must be. Even if the feelings are NOT positive feelings, such as anxiety or obsession.  Thus the more obsessive she feels about a guy, the more she “can’t get him out of her mind”, the more she can’t wait to see him next, then the more he must be worthy of her love because those feelings MEAN that he is worthy. Not logical.

      My childhood was practically devoid of love and affection from my parents and I learned to live without that at a young age. However, I always envied “The Brady Bunch” and vowed that I would have a life like theirs when I grew up. Through that show I recognized what a good family dynamic was supposed to be and either consciously or subconsciously looked for people who were able to make me feel safe, cared for, comforted, and supported. I equated THOSE feelings with love. I guess you could say that I recognized the love my parents provided me was not the kind that I needed, and so as an adult I did NOT search for people who made me feel as they did. Instead, I searched for people who evoked in me the Mike-and-Carol-Brady feelings 🙂

      That said, I also read my share of bodice-rippers as a teen. And thus looked for men who would inspire that kind of lust in me and in whom I inspired the same kind of lust…but tempered with the knowledge that man would ALSO have to evoke in me the Brady-Bunch feelings and to whom I wanted to provide those feelings.

      I believe that most people on this board WERE loved by their parents, and loved their parents in return, and thus grew up looking for the same kind of feelings their parents evoked in them…even if they were negative feelings…because they grew up believing those feelings were how they should feel if they love someone.

      So I don’t think it’s so much that people run away from relationships that make them feel good; it’s more that they are continually searching for the relationship that makes them feel their version of love, as defined by what their parent made them feel when growing up.

      JM2C. YMMV.

      1. 6.3.1
        Emily, the original

        Karmic Equation,

        And thus looked for men who would inspire that kind of lust in me and in whom I inspired the same kind of lust…

        But people who inspire lust are usually the people who don’t make you feel supported and loved. It’s comfort or passion. I don’t know if you can have both in equal measure.

        1. Karmic Equation

          Hi Emily,

          I tried to discuss this with you on another thread, but I don’t think you were open to the idea. You’re still operating under the romanticized thinking that lust lasts forever. It doesn’t.

          For me, it has always been lust -> compatibility -> companionate love…Meaning first I fall in lust. Then while in lust (unlike most people) I make a very conscious and logical effort to UNCOVER his faults … and catalog them in my head for future reference (because no one cares about those faults while in lust lol). So that once I come out of the lust stage (which lasts about 2 months for me) I already have a list in my head to monitor our compatibility on.

          And while I’m monitoring that compatibility I’m also adapting to his idiosyncrasies even as he’s adapting to mine. This stage is continual. For me, I’m constantly monitoring…my feelings for him…his actions towards me…Even now. So in my relationships this monitoring-adapting-monitoring-adapting is how we build more compatibility. We still have sex, but it’s not the tear of the clothes kind of sex, but rather “Ok, I can’t sleep and I’m horny, let’s take care of both” kind of sex.

          And voila we end up in a companionate-love relationship.

          Lustful sex, at least for me, is only at the beginning of the relationship. After that, it’s horniness-alleviation sex on an as-needed basis by either partner 🙂 And that’s all it needs to be if the relationship is a good relationship. Stormy relationships lead to stormy sex (I’ve had that kind of relationship once, and once is enough, I’d much rather have my typical companionate-love-sex relationship).

          That said, my mind lusts after my partner more so than my body, in that sometimes I’ll watch him walk across the room and think he is just so hot and I want him so much. Other times I just think about him and feel that lust. And text him if he’s not around. But by the time I get home and in bed, we’re both way too tired to do anything about it and just fall asleep exhausted in each other’s arms, without any sex. Just content to be with each other.

          Probably sounds boring to you. But it’s wonderful to have someone that you know will be with you, supporting you, trying to do his best by you and for you. Sex is just a very small part of that equation.

          As long as we lust for each other in our minds, it really doesn’t matter if we act upon it.

          Difficult to explain.

        2. Emily, the original

          Karmic Equation,

          The comfort versus passion argument was one I read here on this site. Maybe that will have more weight for you.

          I remember talking to Dr. Pat Allen, author of “Getting to I Do”. When I asked her how marriage was supposed to feel, she held up a blank index card to me. “On this side, you have passion.” She flipped over the card. “On this side, you have comfort.”

          “Choose one.”

          Yeah. It hit me like a ton of bricks, too. But I got it instantly.

          It’s not impossible to have ANY passion with comfort or ANY comfort with passion. It’s that the two don’t coexist easily. The very thing that ignites passion is friction and instability. Once again, look at your past. Passion is usually brief, intense and rocky. Comfort, on the other hand, tends to be softer and more nurturing.

        3. Karmic Equation

          Hi Emily,

          I don’t equate lust with passion. One can have passion for something (both my boyfriend and I are passionate about pool, for example) — but neither of us “lust” for it.

          So, to me, passion and lust are not the same. Lust is exclusively about sex/sexual fulfillment, whereas passion is about emotion, and most women erroneously equate passion with lust. This is probably a side effect of socialization. Women are “allowed” to have passion for her mate, while “lust” is the prerogative of men. Think of it this way, men can lust after a woman without feeling any passion for her. Said another way, while men will likely pump and dump the woman he only lusts after, he will most likely seek a relationship with a woman makes him feel comfortable (lets him be himself; doesn’t want to change him)–and would stalk the the woman who incites his passion. Three different feelings and three different actions from the man.

          So I would agree that a man who makes a woman feel passion is most likely a man who does NOT make her feel “comfortable”. But one CAN have lust with comfort. Or comfort after a period of lust. Or lust interspersed within an environment of comfort.

          I can honestly say that I am NOT passionate about my bf nor he for me. Our relationship is very steady, “boring” even. But I do lust for him and he for me. And we’re both very comfortable with each other.

          But as I wrote before, we’re both passionate about pool. And when we have fought, we have fought about pool or because of it.

        4. Emily, the original

          Karmic Equation,

          I don’t equate lust with passion.

          Hmmm … I can’t separate the two. If I “lust” after a guy, I feel passion for him. The feeling encompasses his whole person, not just the physical part of the experience. That doesn’t necessarily mean I love him. Infatuated maybe. Love implies a strong bond that has nothing to do with sex. There are men I feel various levels of attraction for, but there aren’t too many I look at and say, “Oh my God, I have to have this guy.” If the feeling is that strong, there’s passion involved.

           

        5. Karmic Equation

          That’s lust Emily.

          You can lust for a stranger walking across the street. You can lust for a celebrity you have never met.

          But you should NOT feel passion for a stranger NOR should you feel passion for a celebrity you have never met.

          Could passion and lust coexist? Certainly…and probably at the beginning of many relationships.

          As you get to know someone and s/he becomes more familiar, in a good relationship, passion will subside to make room for comfort. However, lust can still exist without passion. And lust can co-exist with comfort.

          Lust is physical. Comfort and passion are emotional. Thus lust can coexist with either comfort OR passion. But comfort and passion are the opposite ends of the same spectrum. Having more of one means there’s less of the other.

        6. Emily, the original

          Karmic,

          Thank for explaining to me how I should feel.

    4. 6.4
      S.

      I want to answer this question but I’m not sure how.  It depends on what one defines a ‘good’ relationship as or a great partner is.  Maybe he’s great but he can’t hold a job? Maybe the relationship is/was basically good, but they are starting to grow apart?

      If it’s truly still good, most people won’t leave. Most people won’t leave even an okay relationship.  If people still are loving, committed partners who were healed and whole when they started, I can’t see either why they would suddenly leave after a few years unless they simply grew apart.

      Some people are afraid of commitment, but are they ‘good’ partners?  Isn’t a good long-term partner someone who  . . . wants to be a long-term partner and have a commitment?  And wouldn’t they have figured that out before? But maybe not.  Sometimes the pressure of a marriage or engagement changes things. (Or illness or job loss or . . .)

      I think once two people get through stuff and get to the good, stable, loving relationship, they do stay.

      de Botton says, “ the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since they met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel.”

      “The love most of us will have tasted early on was often confused with other, more destructive dynamics: feelings of wanting to help an adult who was out of control, of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes.”

      These sound like early and not necessarily ‘good’ relationships.  But the person doesn’t know that yet. They don’t see the cause and effect yet. It is interesting that he characterizes the parents as dysfunctional in some way. Not all parents are like that.  Maybe he gives examples of healthier parents in the complete work?

      Lots of stuff breaks people up.  Distance, family members, value choices about money, kids, lifestyle, etc.  But if two people have made it through all of that (especially all of the etc.)  and still love each other and want to be together, I think they will stay.  Especially if they want to stay and want to keep trying to grow together.

    5. 6.5
      Nissa

      I disagree with the idea that it is about fear. I think that it is just a way to let people down softly, because there’s no way to win by admitting that you just find something about them unattractive. Whether it’s a lack of confidence, initiative in their own life, neediness, lack of hygiene, addiction to video games, lack of personal style, dependency on family, or just that you find them boring.

      The one caveat to that is that some people do in fact have an avoidant attachment style and fail to realize it. However, that would be very easy to spot, as they would have a pattern of short term or long distance relationships where they can’t really tell you why it ended. Even with those people, it’s not a ‘fear of a good relationship’. It’s fear of loss, rejection, being unwanted or unloved. Fear of those things, not the other person, can sometimes make the avoidant person to try to minimize their losses – even when those losses only exist in their mind.

  7. 7
    John

    I remember when I met two women at the same time when I was 26 years old. I chose the one who reminded me of my relationship with my parents instead of the one I would have been happier with. I was with her for four years. It was a gut-wrenching experience, but I learned from it. It took me until I was 40 years old to finally comprehend my relationship pattern. At the time I was dating a woman who had been badly abused as a child. I realized that her dishonesty and lack of ability to trust were deal breakers for me. I left the relationship. For the first time in my life I broke a pattern I’d had with women all my life.  The way I did it was forgiving my parents. I am now attracted to higher quality women. A true sign of maturity is finding somebody who loves you for who you are warts and all.

  8. 8
    Runner Girl

    Adrian, as per your inquiry regarding why people leave happy relationships (and presumably end up in unhappy relationships), there are likely a variety of reasons, as who truly knows why certain people do what they do. We are all diverse and operate in different ways. So, being that you are trying to comprehend this phenomenon,  which I commend you for your desire to learn and understand relationships better, please consider yourself fortunate that you (I am assuming correctly I hope?) have not been in a position where you have had the issue of leaving a happy relationship, throwing it all away, because you did not know any better. Please allow me to further explain in order to make more sense:

    To begin, I just want to say that KE nailed it about coming from a cold, unloving home. I had quite the similar experience with that, although worse on many accounts. My parents had my 4 siblings and I later in life (late 30’s/early 40’s), it was my mother’s second marriage (she had a child with her first husband, who was nearly out of high school when the other 5 of us arrived), my family was very strictly religious (I was raised Mormon), and my dad worked in a high stress career (attorney) while my mother (also college educated) stayed home. Needless to say, all looked pretty decent on the outside, especially at church, to keep up the “happy family” facade, but behind closed doors, my home life was very dysfunctional: it was somewhat abusive, there was constant fighting between my parents that often got ugly and scary, and nearly zero love or affection was displayed of any kind. My mom often either locked my siblings and I out of the house because she was too tired to deal with us, or told us that she wished she never had us so that she could focus on the things that she had always wanted to accomplish in her life (she was raised in an abusive home and her first husband was abusive, then things with my dad…….see the correlation here about continuing to get involved in bad relationships, because it was the example of what she grew up with and all that she knew?). Needless to say, they eventually divorced, but not without much drama and trash talking of the other parent. Whenever we were in church prior to the divorce, I used to wish that I were in one of the other families who seemed happy and loving. I never felt loved as a child, was never hugged or kissed or told that I was loved, always felt like an inconvenience, and as a result, I busted my butt to try to be “the perfect child” to win their love (it didn’t matter). So due to the example of the family relationship I was raised with, myself and nearly all of my siblings have had problems with relationships (and half of us are divorced). We all have psychological issues, some of us worse than others, and I admit that I have some as well, especially avoidance issues – when things go wrong in any relationship, I feel afraid of conflict (God forbid I endure a screaming, cussing, and throwing of items/breaking things match that my parents put us through – I am terrified of being yelled at), that I am always ready to run (no pun on my name intended). So, with all of this said, some of my siblings and I have fallen into the pattern of choosing partners who are high drama, unstable, emotionally unavailable, cold (my father was unexpressive and anti-social), and pretty much exact replicas of our parents, as well as their marriage. We do not do this on a conscious level, which entails knowing what we are doing and why, and wanting to break the cycle, but rather on a psychologically unconscious level. I think it is because it is all that we know, basically our version of “normal.” Any other type of relationship does not feel familiar to us, and is therefore unpredictable, which is scary. It is embedded deep in our minds, and even with therapy, is a difficult cycle to break. My now defunct marriage was to a man who was the opposite of my parents, as I tried to do a 180, and he was very loving, but it almost felt like I was being smothered, which was overwhelming, and I did not know how to respond, except to pull back, and struggled to show any affection and emotion, because it did not come naturally to me and I did not know how – totally out of my comfort zone. That was my ex husband’s biggest complaint about me in our marriage. Needless to say, we eventually split up over other reasons, but overall, I never felt emotionally connected to him – neither of us knew how to navigate the other’s vast differences well, and were unable to accept or respect those differences, as we simply did not know how to cope with each other. My new relationship now is to a man whom is a lot like my father in many ways (even my guy does acknowledge that), but although there are so many positives, he is not overly affectionate and open and communicative, which is just like my father. Over time, we have both learned to navigate those waters together, but it has really taken a long time to truly “get” and understand each other, and for me to try to break the familiar pattern of being in a relationship with constant conflict or to do the other extreme with having avoidance. It is amazing how one’s upbringing and the role models they see can truly influence their relationships in life! I do not think to myself, “Hmmmm……..how I can find a man who treats me like crap, instead of a man who treats me like gold?” I do not consciously seek a partner who is an emotionally unavailable asshole, because in order to do that, I would have to clearly know exactly what I am getting into. I think people choose what they know, which is what is familiar and comfortable to them, whether it is a positive relationship or a negative, because anything other than what they are accustomed to is unpredictable, and therefore scary.

    Adrian, I hope my explanation of why some people leave happy relationships, based upon my own personal experience, makes sense.

     

     

    1. 8.1
      mel

      This was very helpful!

      1. 8.1.1
        mel

        Any other type of relationship does not feel familiar to us, and is therefore unpredictable, which is scary. It is embedded deep in our minds, and even with therapy, is a difficult cycle to break. My now defunct marriage was to a man who was the opposite of my parents, as I tried to do a 180, and he was very loving, but it almost felt like I was being smothered, which was overwhelming, and I did not know how to respond, except to pull back, and struggled to show any affection and emotion, because it did not come naturally to me and I did not know how – totally out of my comfort zone.

        I relate to this very much. My ex was like you’re ex-husband and I found it so hard, because I felt overwhelmed and smothered. I’m not used to it. In theory I thought I would love it, but in reality because this is not something I was used to, it was too much for me. Mind you there were other issues, so I don’t nessasarily think it all came down to me being completly commitment phobic.

        It’s so funny how we are more comfortable with what we are used to (fathers neglect), even if it’s not healthy.

        My father was not a complete ass though. He’s nice enough, it’s just he’s not very “emotional” and he wasn’t there for me as much as I would have hoped. He was there, but not there if that make sense? But I know he loves me very much, it’s just his way of showing love isn’t the way I imagine a loving parent to be. He is a bit self absorbed.

      2. 8.1.2
        Runner Girl

        Thank you! 🙂 I am glad my post was helpful. As a result of my experience, I am making sure to be as open and loving to my own kids as possible, so that they do not grow up and risk getting into bad relationships themselves for this reason and repeating the cycle.

    2. 8.2
      CaliforniaGirl

      I can relate to this as well. My father and mother were very cold, I actually don’t remember a hug or a kiss from them ever. My ex-husband was very cold but I was miserable and wanted love. My ex-boyfriend gave too much  love and attention and I felt suffocated and controlled and started to have anxiety attacks. I am single for the last 1.5 years and every time a boyfriend prospect appears, I sabotage it, because I am afraid it will be one of the two options.

       

      1. 8.2.1
        Runner Girl

        Sorry to hear about your experience, CG. There are probably way more people that have dealt with this situation than we would like to think, so despite the crappiness of it, at least we are not alone. Being self aware of how it affects you and your relationships is key, so it sounds as if you can see your pattern. It is difficult to find a balance that works, of affection and love vs. no affection and love, but if it is causing you to have anxiety attacks and to sabatoge your relationships (subconsciously I would guess? My older sister used to do that as well), then it is definitely worth looking into getting some counseling. I, too, suffer from anxiety, and I would have sought counseling, had I been able to afford it (my insurance does not cover it). I studied and majored in psychology in college, read some self help books, and really delved in to how it affected me, in order to work through it. Having some good, supportive friends who will be honest with you, finding a stress relieving outlet (my running, listening to hard rock music, and creative writing), and not being adverse to taking anti-anxiety meds, has also been tremendously helpful. I think that taking a break from relationships is probably a good thing for you right now, so that you can focus on emotionally healing. Being raised with coldness leaves emotional scars that affect how you see yourself, as well as how you relate to others, but there is hope to be able to move past it. It sounds as if you are on the right track. Hang in there and best wishes, CG. 💗 BTW, I live in CA too, so our beautiful ocean sunsets are always a perfect remedy to feeling positive!

        1. CaliforniaGirl

          Thank you for the reply. I did counseling and even Landmark and I am very self-aware about all my problems. This forum really helped me to weed out bad guys and lately I had only very pleasant dates with good guys,  but somehow they don’t fit my lifestyle, schedule or future plans.  I always had a problem to find someone I like, because as I said I either felt not loved enough or suffocated. On the other hand I never had a problem to make friends and I have close friends for decades and they are all wondering why I can’t find a good relationship..

        2. Running Girl

          You are very welcome. That is great to hear that you have worked things through. I know the struggle with finding the balance between too much love and not enough love is not easy, because it probably is not something that you can completely control on a conscious level. I am sorry that the nice guys you have dated do not mesh well with your life on top of that. It certainly makes finding a relationship a challenge. I had to try to learn (kind of force myself to relax and be more open) to find a balance, and how to let some things go – I did not want to make the same mistakes in my current relationship that I did when I was married. However, I went from one extreme to the other, from not caring if I were touched or complimented to almost seeking too much of it. Why? I have no idea. I cannot pinpoint what exactly changed that in me, but I wish that I could simply just be normal. I think it will always be an issue that I will have to contend with, but at least my guy accommodates me and is cool with meeting my needs (thank goodness!). As for the friend situation, I, too, had no problems making friends. I admit that I used to worry too much about what others thought of me, and trying to please others, but now I know that true friends like and accept me for who I am. I think dating is different, though, l because it is a different type of relationship and intimacy, and of course a bit scarier and with more at stake. Whether or not your friends understand your dating and relationship dynamics, they do sound caring and supportive. Until you feel comfortable with the level of affection with whom you are dating, as well as match overall, enjoy the dating process as much as possible. Life might have a positive way of surprising you!

  9. 9
    jeremy

    I think that there are 2 aspects that contribute to the phenomenon Adrian referred to.  The first is that, as KE mentioned, people confuse one emotion with another in their mind.  When we go to a scary movie, our minds confuse fear with excitement.  Sometimes when we are hungry, our minds confuse hunger with anger.  And when we are scared and uncertain, sometimes we confuse those feelings with lust…..and the absence of those feelings with a lack of lust.

     

    The other phenomenon, though, is a person’s individual need for novelty.  Some people are naturally more dopamine-seeking than others, and get bored of the routine easily.  Such people are often accused of being “commitment-phobic” – but that is inaccurate.  They don’t fear commitment, they simply tire of it easily.  Such people make the most exciting romantic partners and the worst marriage partners.

     

    And although I agree with KE that some people seek models of what their parents had, dopamine-seekers do just the opposite – they specifically do NOT want what they were used to as children, they want something different (whether it is good for them or not).  They seek out the opposite of their parents, and often suffer for it.  And the good, commitment-oriented partners that consistently treat them with love and respect get boring really fast.

     

    The positive is that the person they dumped is ultimately better off for it.

    1. 9.1
      Emily, the original

      Jeremy,

      On a side note of what you wrote, I think you can also have a person who is a good partner and commitment-oriented, who chose someone with whom they have strong compatibility and shared values, but then, for the first time, experiences “the big lust/attraction” thing for someone and is totally overwhelmed by it. And then blows up his/her relationship for it.

      1. 9.1.1
        jeremy

        Absolutely.  But that lustful experience is just a dopamine spike.  No matter how lustful that relationship, once the dopamine wears off it will become routine and all the negatives that were previously ignored will become painfully obvious.  Generally, that takes between 6 months to 2 years unless some conflict preserves the drama.  Maturity is knowing that the spike of lust is dangerous and fleeting, even though it can be thrilling.  Dopamine seekers may be excellent serial monogamists, but lousy committed partners.

        1. Emily, the original

          Jeremy,

          Generally, that takes between 6 months to 2 years unless some conflict preserves the drama.

          I think that lust does wane, but if you are strongly attracted to someone, that feeling is still there, to a lesser degree, years later.

          I had a friend who married her high school sweetheart. They had two children About 10 years in (she was in her late 20s), she had an affair. She called it her first adult passion. Now — and this will be confusing to a lot of men — her husband was much more attractive than her affair partner.

          She left her husband and married the affair partner. It was not a good marriage (lasted about 8 years) and she regretted marrying him, but she still, even through the divorce, found him extremely sexually appealing. She didn’t have that same level of attraction for her first husband, but she loved him and he was a better partner.

  10. 10
    Caroline

    I agree with what Emily said earlier. Things gotta unfold at a certain rate. There has to be enough “lust”/sexual attraction and you gotta learn about them but let it unfold. If a man/woman is too serious too quickly it can be a real turnoff. I don’t think it’s a sign of fear if you think “whoa” not so fast. I don’t think you aren’t attracted to them because of not having that tugging feeling of having to prove your worthy. I think I remember reading men fall in love much faster than women?

    1. 10.1
      Nissa

      I think men are much more romantic at the start than women. Initially, it doesn’t go much beyond ‘I could do her’. They are completely consumed with the fantasy that you are what he wants in every way. (Even women do this do a lesser degree  –  in the absence of information, each assumes that whatever it is they want, is what the other person is or wants). Then, over time, as the woman demonstrates that that’s not true, he becomes more and more familiar with the ‘real woman’ that was always there.

      Sometimes, he finds her flaws manageable and stays in the relationship. Other times, he realizes those things are deal-breakers for him. That’s when he will most often ‘ghost’ or just do a slow fade – either way, to avoid having to admit that all those flaws he glossed over in the heat of chemistry are things he’s not willing to have in his life.

      Women, on the other hand, tend to be less romantic at the start, but more later on. Women tend to assume that the man has LOTS of flaws that are probably deal-breakers, and looks for them from the start. Then, because she’s filling in the blanks inappropriately (as above), glazed over from passion or simply not listening to what the man tells her (such as, I may not want to get serious / have kids / get married), she tends to forget about those flaws or minimize them in favor of the fantasy that ‘it will all work out, love will conquer all’.

      Which just implies that for women, just being yourself is about the best thing you can do. It allows the man the greatest exposure to who you really are and therefore decreases the amount of time it takes for the man to move from expectations of perfection to what you really are – a person that might be someone he could love.

      1. 10.1.1
        Karmic Equation

        Kindly said, Nissa, and I agree.

        To translate to Karmic speak, this would be “Be the same woman AFTER sex as you were BEFORE sex. Don’t change from one woman to another woman after sex.”

        What this means is that if you ARE a needy person, BE that needy person before sex, so that he is not surprised by the neediness AFTER sex and then ghost on you. Better to have him ghost on you before sex than after.

        OR…you can work at not being needy, so that you’re not needy before OR after sex.

        The key is to not change your personality and behaviors.

        Men expect that you’ll change after sex. And when you DON’T change, he is pleasantly surprised and mystified. The fact that you DON’T after sex makes you a mystery he wants to stick around and solve.

         

        1. Nissa

          🙂

          Do you really think, though, that people know they are needy? Most of the people that I know that I would put in that category, I do not think would think themselves needy. One in particular thinks she’s “too nice and people take advantage”.

           

        2. John

          “Be the same woman AFTER sex as you were BEFORE sex.”

          KE,

          I always like your posts.

          If a woman lived  by the above quote, she would do very well with men. If you really want to keep a man forever, keep reading.

          When I was a teenager, an old guy at a wedding told me, “After a man has sex, he becomes himself. After a woman gets married, she becomes herself.”

          After he said that to me, I noticed that after sex, I relaxed and became authentic. I think there is a lot of truth to this statement. I’ve never been married, but I’ve seen my friends wives change after they get married.

          I would say, “Be the same woman AFTER the wedding day  as you were BEFORE the wedding day.”

           

        3. Nissa

          What’s funny about that to me is that, my experience has been that the men I’ve been with personally, change more than I see myself changing. (Disclaimer: it’s been a while since I had to deal with this issue, lol). For me, after being intimate, the men seemed to relax more and be more themselves. However, I found myself liking them less. Before intimacy, it seemed like they were almost trying too hard, saying what I wanted to hear. After, they were more willing to reveal themselves (a positive) but I often found that I was not terribly keen about those real selves (a disappointing negative). So I found that intimacy usually spelled the beginning of the end for me.

          I do think it is a tremendous gift when you can enjoy emotional intimacy in our lives. I find it much more unusual to experience (men or women) who are open to being themselves, to sharing their innermost being. I find most people distant from themselves long before I meet them. And how can we know them, if they barely know themselves?

           

      2. 10.1.2
        Caroline

        Ladies, you both summed up one idea I was asking. Dr. Helen Fisher says men fall in love faster because they are more visual. They see this woman and somehow connect the dots that she is the one? But the doctor says women need a memory trail to fall in love.  She keeps a tally of his actions and words.

        The other night I witnessed this in person. I was out with friends and the couples were sharing how they met. My friend’s sister was there with her new guy (met 3 weeks ago). He had had really endearing story about how they met but he went on to tell mere strangers how much he loved. She had the deer in headlights look! My friend had earlier expounded about what a great guy he was according to her sis. This is what I was talking about. Is he a needy person? Or just has fallen in love faster?

        ive had this type of thing happen to me a few times. I just saw it as a red flag. Or do you think a relationship can be out of sync between a man and a woman without having an underlying insecure attachment style?

        1. Emily, the original

          Hi Caroline,

          Is he a needy person? Or just has fallen in love faster?

          I guess it’s entirely possible he has fallen in love in just three weeks. However, I would be leery of someone who was telling me has was in love after such a short time let alone sharing it with a group of strangers. Seems a bit early for that. Even if I felt that way, I would keep it to myself, at least for a bit longer in fear of scaring the other person away.

      3. 10.1.3
        Fromkin

        “They are completely consumed with the fantasy that you are what he wants in every way”: No, guys have few prerequisites before trying with a particular woman. So “in every way” mostly means she is actually interested in having sex. There is no fantasy, just a cute enough, fun woman who is actually here.

        “flaws he glossed over in the heat of chemistry are things he’s not willing to have in his life”: Either he was aware of the flaws – she is coughing up drama? – and he gave the woman a shot, or he discovered it down the road. Either way, he tried.

        Guys encourage each other to try. Women apparently pat each other on the back for snubbing anyone insufficiently tall, wealthy, childless, Brad-Pitt-like, whatever. Willingness to try isn’t a flaw; it’s something to strive for.

        1. Caroline

          @Fromkin-I’m curious how you came to your conclusion. “Women apparently pat each other on the back for snubbing anyone insufficiently tall, wealthy, childless, Brad-Pitt like, whatever”.

          Especially the childless part. Typo? It’s seems to me if she slept with the guy she probably found him appealing in the ways you stated.

           

        2. Fromkin

          Caroline: “Women apparently pat each other on the back …”: oh I’ve witnessed that personally.  A couple lonely female friends would rather each spend time with the other than with a great guy who enjoys her company but who is … dun dun dun … 5 foot 9. Or a dad. Or … there’s a list. The guy apparently has to be perfect marriage material on the first meeting; one does have one’s standards.

      4. 10.1.4
        Caroline

        Hi Nissan- I wanted to reply to your “too nice and people take advantage” remark. I do believe some, especially some ladies, can embrace the victim role in this.  But I will tell you my adult son has told me I’m “too nice” and I didn’t take it that way. I felt it was a hard hitting “stop being a doormat”! In other words you are “letting” people take advantage of you.

        1. Caroline

          Sorry! Nissa (my kindle decided to make you an auto manufacturer).

        2. Nissa

          Lol happens all the time, no worries.

          Dare I point this out as a sign of my ability to ‘be good at disagreement’?

           

  11. 11
    Stela Morgado

    This is the simplest, yet, the most revealing truth I´ve ever read about relationships. After 3 split-ups and ending up 44 yr old still seeking for love, I learned the lesson and I´m now looking for someone who can tolerate, accept and love me, the same way I will do for him. Thank you.

  12. 12
    GoWiththeFlow

    Adrian,

    It’s important to keep in mind that the person who leaves a healthy relationship doesn’t view it as such when they are making the decision to break away.  It’s in hindsight that they realize what they did, usually after a period of personal growth.

    As for how a person’s childhood influences their adult relationships, I think most people love some experiences/feelings they had with their parents, and they hate others.  Growing up I felt loved and received a lot of healthy physical affection from my family and I try to do the same for my own kids.  However, as kids we were also paddled and spanked frequently for punishment.  I am a member of the having-a-wooden-spoon-broke-over-my-butt-as-a-kid club.  Didn’t like that at all!  I’m not going to self-righteously say that I’ve never spanked my kids, but it is was/is a rare occurrence and I’ve had feeling of shame when I’ve resorted to physical punishment with them.

    In a similar vein, my parents had a solid, loving relationship, that worked very well for them–’til death did they part.  The basic emotional dynamic was that my mom gave my dad the unconditional love and acceptance that he didn’t get from his abusive narcissistic father and co-dependent mother.  In return, my mom ran the house and the family.  My dad deferred to her in almost all matters.

    All three of us kids, while acknowledging that we had a safe, secure, early childhood, decided for ourselves somewhere in early adulthood that we didn’t want that the exact dynamic that our parents had.  My sister and I both wanted husbands that would be more involved, especially a dad who would take independent initiative when caring for kids.  My brother wanted to have more of a say in household and family decisions.  Now add in the fact that we have vastly different personality strength and weaknesses.

    For me what this means is I want the commitment and total mutual acceptance and respect for each other that my parents shared, but I want a more outgoing mate who will take more initiative than my dad did.  So I know what the “A” part of the A+B=C equation looks and feels like, but I have to figure out the “B”.

  13. 13
    Adrian

    Hi Everyone, Thanks for all the replies, they were all very helpful. All of your answer I must say, did raise more questions

    1). So how does one know if they are mistaking a normal healthy, yet none of the I want to rip your clothes off excitement type of relationship for a boring, passionless relationship (like Evan experienced with his wife. An experience that made him doubt marrying her because she did not excite him, and caused him to envy all his friends who had passion)

    2). Is commitment phobia real? So this person loves you and wants to be with you; yet they are afraid of  spending more time with you? Afraid of spending time with only you and no other man/woman? Afraid of the title and label of girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife? How do you know the difference between a person who was afraid of commitment and a person who just wasn’t that into you but they were too nice of a person to tell you?

    We’ve discussed on this site for years examples of good people holding on to relationships where they lost love or attraction for a partner, yet didn’t know how to end it without being overwhelmed by guilt. Are you saying a person can “genuinely” romantically love you and be happy with the relationship, but willing give it all up because you want to commit and not date others???

    3). The statement was made that women want to be challenged, and a woman will leave even a good relationship if she feels bored? What do women consider a challenge? Is it the same as what PUA endorse men to do and how to treat women to seem challenging? Do you expect a man to do all the work, or you do contribute to making the relationship less boring? What do women do to make the relationship less boring?

    4). The consensus seems to be that good people can subconsciously be drawn to bad people if that is what they grew up with. How do you know the difference between a person who truly did not realize that they were willfully walking into a bad relationship and a person who is just making excuses? Why would a person make excuses for a bad relationship? I ask because I can’t believe that every bad “long-term” relationship was something you had no control over leaving.

    5). I don’t understand women and attraction with new guys. If a woman meets a guy whom she is attracted to, why does his calling her or wanting to see her a few times a week, cause women to lose attraction, feel smothered, or consider the man needy?

    If you desire a guy how does his interest in you turn you off? If I liked someone, I wouldn’t stop liking them just because they wanted to talk on the phone a few times a week. If that person only wanted to call me on the weekends, I would think their interest in me is “meh” and I would continue to date around searching for a person who I felt did want to be around me.

    Now a person whom I felt no attraction or Luke-warm attraction for, when they called me daily, I did lose even more interest in them. But the female commenters on this blog are speaking of men whom they feel actual attraction for. Since I know everyone is tired of me using Megan Fox, I’ll use my new crush Daisy Ridley from Star Wars (^_^).

    If Daisy called me everyday and wanted to go out a couple times a week, I would not lose attraction for her. This is why I thought neediness was associated with your attraction for the person, yet from the way that the female commenters describe neediness, if Chris Hemsworth called or texted to much in the beginning most women would lose attraction for him and drop him.

    6). and finally, true people grow and mature-the person you dated at 18 isn’t the same person at 50. So how do you get over that impression of themselves that they left you? I don’t know how to articulate this one, but since it was mentioned and it is something that happens a lot I want to talk about it. A person who you dated hurt you badly when you two dated in your 20s, 20-30 years later, you meet again and instead of dating them from the perspective of them having a clean plate, you instead interrogate them to see if they are the same person. How does one get over that?

    1. 13.1
      Emily, the original

      Adrian,

      Dude … Are you writing a book or conducting a research project? Do you sit in your classes — WHEN YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE TAKING NOTES AND LISTENING — and jot down questions you will post on this site?   🙂

      5). I don’t understand women and attraction with new guys. If a woman meets a guy whom she is attracted to, why does his calling her or wanting to see her a few times a week, cause women to lose attraction, feel smothered, or consider the man needy?

      I will tackle this one. And, yes, you would get sick of Megan Fox if she called too much. Plus, she just had another baby and is knee-deep in diapers and baby wipes! Pick a woman who’s less encumbered!   🙂

      I got this explanation from Matthew Hussey? Have you heard of him? Another dating coach. He’s English, and his site is gettheguy.co.uk.

      He talks about what happens when you really like someone. There are too “levers” involved: the attraction lever and the investment lever. The attraction lever is volatile and can’t always be controlled. The problem is that people think, “Oh my God! I’m attracted to someone!” and they yank both the attraction and investment lever down, thinking they will try as hard as they can to get the person to like them. But when you yank down the investment lever and the other person doesn’t come with you, their attraction for you lessens. Investing full-on never made anybody like us. You want to use a steady hand with the investment lever and invest as the other person does. He said the thing that gets people attracted is when they realize in order to get our investment, they have to invest, too.

      I used the word challenge, and that wasn’t the right word. You want a man to invest in you at a reasonable rate.

       

       

       

       

      1. 13.1.1
        Caroline

        Emily, thanks for the explanation from Hussey (I read his book- probably need to revisit). That was exactly what I was talking about. Some folks pull the investment lever down too soon. Whether it’s got an underlying attachment problem, may be the cause- or it could just be inexperience. I can see how if you’ve been through much struggle in relationships you’d “overshoot” the target. And unfortunately it emits an air of being needy in the man- not necessarily that you (his target) have a problem committing to good men (a dysfunctional attachment style). In fact, it may be in my friend’s case I sighted earlier (the  deer in the headlights) she may be wise to heed her gut reaction that sounded the alarm. This doesn’t mean he is too needy but she should proceed with caution. Nobody wants to be smothered. There has to be balance in life. Ive actually seriously delved personally (in my own therapy) with attachment. It’s been very helpful and I’ve learned much about myself resulting in better relationships. I’d also like to add that if one has an anxious attachment style it can come from how either/or /both parents style of relating to you is. And I’d like to add in my own case it came from my mother just honestly being so attuned to how hard life can be for a woman (she grew up very poor during the great depression) and she was maybe overly tough on us girls just wanting us to be safe and self supportive. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always tempered with the love and nurturing a kid needs. But I in no way blame her. She’s always loved us and wanted the very best for us😊

        1. Emily, the original

          Hi Caroline,

          I’ve read Hussey’s book, too. He has some really good advice and is easy on the eyes, which isn’t necessary but certainly helps!   🙂

          Some folks pull the investment lever down too soon. Whether it’s got an underlying attachment problem, may be the cause- or it could just be inexperience.

          I did that a lot in my 20s. Some guy would like me, come after me, things would be going great and then … the whole thing would shift. He’d lose interest and I’d be going after him. It happened over and over again. I think I was pulling the investment lever too hard and too soon.

          Ive actually seriously delved personally (in my own therapy) with attachment.

          I’m doing the same thing. But my therapist actually suggested I read “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher first. He talks about how we wait all our lives to be chosen by people for jobs, romantic prospects, etc., as if they’re validating us in some way. Even if they are idiots, we feel better if we are selected. He suggests doing internal work first before worrying about external motivations. Building a strong emotional, physical, mental and spiritual foundation first. I highly recommend the book.

           

        2. Caroline

          Thanks Emily, I will definitely check out that book. We have definitely gone into depth about self esteem/self love but I would love to reinforce this knowledge by maybe your book recommendation😊

    2. 13.2
      ScottH

      Is commitment phobia real?  do a google search on it and see what info is out there.  go to youtube and look up Donna Barnes’ talk on it.  Listen to Megan Rose’s.  Go to visualization network and read about it.  Out of the Fog forum.  Nikki Nicole 36’s blog.  Baggage Reclaim.  Read He’s Scared She’s Scared and Men Who Can’t Love.  According to Attached, the older you get, the more Avoidants there are in the dating pool.  It’s a nasty nasty experience to go through.  The person tells and shows you that they love you and you believe them and then they run leaving you confused and wondering what the hell just happened.

      Yes, it’s real.  There’s a lot of crazy shit out there.

      1. 13.2.1
        Emily, the original

        Scott H,

        While I’m sure commitment phobia is real and there are a lot of messed up people out there, I have dated two guys who I initially thought were commitment-phobic. Both, however, had had long-term, serious relationships in their pasts, and one I know got married years after dating me.

        This lead me to believe:

        1.) They didn’t want a serious relationship at the time I was dating them; or

        2.) They didn’t want a serious relationship with me.

        That was painful to consider. Another guy I dated I’m sure thought I was commitment phobic. I enjoyed spending time with him, but there were too many glaring holes in the situation to hitch my ride to him permanently. I also didn’t feel strongly enough about him. Maybe it was after I came out of the hormonal haze of attraction that I really saw him clearly.

        1. ScottH

          Emily- both of the alleged commitment phobes I dated were married and one married the next guy she dated after me.  That doesn’t mean they’re not commitment phobic (avoidant).   Avoidant people do marry.  They’re just not healthy happy marriages.  Read the Attached book and you’ll get a better explanation and at the end of it, he talks about the movie 500 days of Summer.  I think their analysis is very interesting.

          My 1st CP gf told me at the 2 week mark that she had a fear of relationships and tended to sabotage them and also not to give up because she might make it hard but not on purpose.  This is the signature of a CP.  I had no idea what she was talking about- it made no sense why someone seeking a relationship would sabotage it but that’s what they do.  That’s how I found Evan.  My 2nd gf also made similar comments about putting lead in her shoes so she couldn’t cut and run.  2 weeks after she told me how much she missed me and couldn’t wait to spend time with me when getting back from vacation and how she couldn’t stop telling her family about me, she broke up with me and we had no incidents that would precipitate a breakup.  Whether she was a CP or I was the rebound guy, or whatever, I’ll never really know and I guess it doesn’t matter.  Your partner can break up with you for whatever reason, good or bad.  Dating in mid-life is emotionally hazardous and it’s guaranteed that you will get hurt.  It takes experience and knowledge of the signals to limit your pain.   And for the record, the 3rd gf I had I believe was not a CP and she gave me her reasons for breaking up and did so in a very compassionate way.  The other 2 breakups were very strange, another sign of a CP.

        2. ScottH

          clarification:  the 2 alleged CP’s had been married.  They were not married when I dated them.  And both of them had relationships before me that lasted over a year.

        3. Emily, the original

          ScottH,

          You mentioned dating in mid-life, so I am assuming these previous girlfriends were also middle-aged. When I dated that guy who wanted a commitment (the one who probably thought I was a commitment phobe), I was in my 20s. I was too young to really know how to handle the situation. I told him I loved him, though I didn’t. I knew I didn’t. He knew I didn’t. I just felt so much pressure from him and also guilt because he was the one doing all the work in the relationship. I just kind of coasted and then checked out.

    3. 13.3
      Caroline

      Hi Adrian-hope you’re well. I’m going to attempt part of your question #4. I don’t think it’s necessarily that one is drawn to a “bad” person. I don’t think it’s constructive to name someone as bad if they have a dysfunctional attachment style. One needs to search for someone who doesn’t have such a style or is overcoming it. Knowledge is power. Besides, you’d probably be eliminating a good match if there is enough personal growth. About the having “no control” over leaving a bad relationship: not so sure . Seems like relationships break up everyday/divorce is pretty prevalent. Of course, there are always complicated circumstances. I should have left my husband earlier but I worried too much about my kids, finances and of course leaving my alcoholic husband to further depression by pulling it all apart. And then there are of course abusive marriages, and if you don’t understand the dynamic – Anna Quindlan’s book “Black and Blue” is a real eye opener and far superior to anything could say. As to the “making bad excuses” for being in a bad relationship-hmm. Not sure what you’re alluding to. Maybe , the partners weren’t self aware enough to know what they personally needed in a ltr? Maybe they fell into the trap where they think love is what is really just chemistry/lust? Relationships have several stages. The attraction/romantic love, the building a fAmily stage, the companionate stage. The key is to bundle these all together at one time eventually. A relationship will wither if you don’t have all aspects.

    4. 13.4
      GoWiththeFlow

      Hi Adrian,

      In a recent blog post, The End of Friends With Benefits, Evan discussed the work of Leah Fessler on how college women find hook-up culture unsatisfying.  There is recent article that talks about Fessler’s work and strings it together with the work of others including Helen Fisher.  Basically, technology and the internet has given us a “24/7 singles bar in our pocket” and led to the Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO).

      Because of FOMO, hookups are a twisted kind of “safe” because the participants aren’t committing to anyone so they are free to keep looking for the perfect one.  So maybe one version of a commitment-phobe is someone suffering from excessive amounts of FOMO.  Essentially the feeling that the phantom perfect partner is still out there leads them to undervalue the great but flawed person that they do/can have.

      http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/does-hookup-culture-make-anyone-happy

      As far as the question on a man pursuing me being needy.  I guess I don’t read many of my interactions with men this way.  What I would say is happening is that there is a mismatch in interest levels.  If i meet a guy and like him, but he really likes me and contacts me a lot or wants to see me more than I would want to see him, I don’t think that is neediness, I think it’s just my interest level doesn’t match his.  On the other hand, if I am very interested in a guy, then I’m happy if he is seeking out my company a lot 😉

      As far as the rip-your-clothes-off-excitement stage, I do know couples who did successfully transition from lust to the companionate/attachment phase.  My good friend who is in her 70s and had two long marriages (twice widowed) and is five years in to her 3rd, says that if you do have some passion at the beginning of the relationship, it does simmer down quite a bit after awhile, but as a couple, you will have flare ups now and again.  So it’s not only comfort or speed 😉

    5. 13.5
      Selena

      Adrian,

       

      For over a decade I participated in a Webmd forum for people in troubled relationships. Members helped each other by giving suggestions, advice, sharing experiences and perspectives.  The folks who wrote in asking for help were not in what they considered happy relationships. Usually there were long standing issues involving money, sex, attention, family, friends, work, church, hobbies, alcohol or recreation drug use to name the most common.

       

      Often, the poster would write things like: “I’ve talked to him/her until I’m blue in the face! He/She doesn’t care. “”I suggested counseling but he/she won’t consider it.” Or, we tried counseling but he/she disregarded what the counselor had to say/advised.” ‘ I never wanted a divorce, but I don’t know what to do – nothing changes and I hate the thought of living the rest of my life this way.”

       

      What may *look * like a happy relationship from the outside may feel completely different to the partner dealing with the same issues week after week, year after year.

       

      Boredom in a relationship sometimes came up as well.  Lot’s of suggestions would be offered to try new things, go to new places, take up a sport or hobby together. Sometimes one person was itching to break out of the rut, but their partner was a homebody complacent to stay the same.  Suggestions for that case were to not rely on your partner to be/do everything with you. Go out to dinner or take up a sport with a friend. Follow your own interest – book club? photography? anything. Point being, just because your partner doesn’t share your interests, doesn’t mean you always have to stay home resentfully.

       

      I don’t know anyone who left a happy, loving relationship. I do wonder though, if some people are so unhappy inside, so dissatisfied with their own life, that they make life difficult for the people who love them – perhaps unintentionally – and are genuinely surprised when their partner leaves.

       

      When I felt I “clicked” with someone, I was happy to hear from them everyday and see them frequently.  With someone I was unsure about, but giving a chance…too much contact too soon made me feel pressured.  And a bit annoyed. There’s a balance in there somewhere that varies by individual. A guideline to follow might be not to bombard someone with messages and invites until you know them a bit better, are able to read their body language and verbal cues. Know that some people like to take it slow.

       

      Not sure what to say to your #6.  I have a former partner I haven’t seen or talked to in 23 years that I’m occasionally curious about when something sparks a memory of him. But I’m not curious enough to actually try to contact him after all this time. Beyond that, I don’t have anyone I dated in the past that I would want as a partner now.

       

      Did you date someone 20-30 years ago, tried to date them later and they gave you a hard time about past bad behavior?  How does one get over that?  I’d chalk it up to the two of you not being a good match the first time and age has not changed that.

       

       

       

    6. 13.6
      SparklingEmerald

      Hi Adrian – You asked “5). I don’t understand women and attraction with new guys. If a woman meets a guy whom she is attracted to, why does his calling her or wanting to see her a few times a week, cause women to lose attraction, feel smothered, or consider the man needy?

      If you desire a guy how does his interest in you turn you off?  (If I am attracted to a guy, his interest in me does NOT turn me off)

      If I am on the fence about a guy, if he shows a heightened interest in me, I would say that his interest isn’t what turned me off, but his interest in me REVEALED to me that I really just wasn’t that into him.

      If I am not into a guy at all, I’m not going to suddenly be crazy about him, because he acts disinterested.  If a guy I was on the fence about, ignored me for 10 days, then his dis-interest in me would also REVEAL to me my own lack of interest, because I would most likely feel RELIEVED, not disappointed.

      If I am definitely attracted to a guy, and he shows mutual interest in me, then YIPPEE, I am delighted, because MUTUAL interest is what I am looking for.  If  that same guy were to act aloof, disinterested, etc.  my attraction for him might not instantly evaporate, but I would feel disappointed, and I would just let him go.

      I know many of the pick up artist preach to men that women want a man who is a “challenge” and “mystery”.  To me that translates to be difficult and evasive.  I don’t want to be in a relationship that is difficult and uncertain. I don’t understand why ANYONE, male or female WANTS a difficult relationship.   I want to be in a relationship that is easy and makes me feel cherished and adored.

      In fact, I am IN that type of relationship right now, and we’re getting married next year.  My honey unambiguously pursued a relationship with me from day one, and I LOVED it.  My response was enthusiastic and unequivocal.  Perhaps it is because we are both in our 60’s and feel like life is short, and ours are more than half over.  We don’t want to spend the rest of our lives playing games.

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I suspect this game playing (advocated by and towards BOTH genders — ie: The Rules for Women ) is really not satisfying to everyone, but it is being preached and advocated by many charlatans out to make a buck.

      I think this game playing might be something that many people don’t want, but they have been convinced that they have to play.   Many studies have confirmed that many women hate hook up culture, yet they participate.  So why would they participate if they hated it ?  Because they feel they HAVE to participate in hook up culture to have ANY chance of finding a relationship.

    7. 13.7
      Lindsey

      “2). Is commitment phobia real? So this person loves you and wants to be with you; yet they are afraid of  spending more time with you? Afraid of spending time with only you and no other man/woman? Afraid of the title and label of girlfriend/boyfriend, husband/wife? How do you know the difference between a person who was afraid of commitment and a person who just wasn’t that into you but they were too nice of a person to tell you?”

       

      In my experience, the answer to this would be resounding “yes” but I think commitment phobia is on a spectrum.

      Men and women seem to manifest commitment phobia differently.  I feel like my female friends who say they want a healthy relationship but then cling to unavailable men are secretly afraid of getting serious because they are afraid of rejection.

      I think men are commitment phobic in a more obvious way–they tell themselves over and over that they don’t want a commitment because they have convinced themselves of all the worst things relationships entail.

      When I say commitment phobia is on a spectrum, I mean some people on the lower end (probably most people with basic attachment issues–single parent household, cheating parent, absent parent, etc), with enough self-reflection usually move on from their fears and are able to approach dating with an open heart.  I think there are many commitment phobes who don’t self-reflect or who legitimately believe it’s the better way to be.

      But some people are truly damaged and in a dark place when it comes to this topic.  Sexual assault survivors, abuse survivors, people who were severely neglected as children, people who were severely heartbroken after a major relationship, and other situations like these.

      I have dated commitment phobes and some of them legitimately are trying to work on it but it’s a PERSONAL thing.  You gotta let them go and figure it out. It’s not really any of your business.  Move on to someone on your wavelength.

  14. 14
    Ken

    Healthy relationships happen between healthy people. This entire thread is off on a wild goose chase. Seriously.

  15. 15
    Adrian

    I would love to hear some intelligent opinions to a question I have based off of the replies here as well as Evan’s two new post and podcast (I thought the question would be more appropriate here).

    I am genuinely curious and not asking this question to belittle anyone’s intelligence or to attack their morality; yet I still would like to know if we all do this because it is right or if we do this because it is what we want.

    Also this is not my personal belief, it is however a question I would like to know the answer to.

    …   …   …

    In your opinions why do you think that most people (generally speaking) will encourage or condone a person leaving a long time partner because they found someone new who made them emotionally or mentally happier than their current partner; yet most people will denounce a person leaving a long time partner because they just found someone better looking?

    I know that some people condemn both types of people, but why?

    If a man or women has been dating someone for over 3 years and then someone more attraction than their current partner ask them out, if that man or woman decided to leave their long-term girlfriend/boyfriend for the better looking person why do people care?

    Why do people say it is wrong or that their character is wrong for doing this? I am not talking about a person who cheats, I am talking about a person in a good relationship who decided to accept someone physically better.

    Everything else in life people accept when a person is wanting something better looking, faster, or newer than their already perfectly working … whatever, so what is different when it comes to relationships?

    And to address the typical counter arguments for this question; this person would be okay if their partner left them for someone hotter; and the more attractive man or woman is just as kind-hearted or kinder, just as giving toward the relationship or more giving, just as intelligent, funny, etc as the person they left.

    Do we decry these types of actions because we truly believe it is wrong to dump a person just because you have the chance to date someone sexier and more beautiful or do we rejection these type of actions because we don’t want someone to ever do that to us?

    Are we saying that a relationship is a once in a life time decision? We are only okay with, and encourage a person to not eating the same meal everyday, not to watch only one repeated program on their television everyday, only visit the same place and nothing else when you leave your home everyday; yet we want a person to stick with the same face, body, and personality everyday?

    Well duh! The answer is yes, I am just curious as to why? Again, not debating, I am just curious as to why? and why people react negatively when they discover that someone dumped a good person just because they found someone better looking?

    …   …   …

    Evan’s podcast about the group of beautiful women and the negative thoughts of the other people at the hotel along with the post on the popularity of dating apps that only focus on a person’s attraction level inspired this question. (^_^)

    1. 15.1
      Karmic Equation

      Hi Adrian,

      Let me take a stab at answering.

      In general, I don’t believe that secure people will leave a good relationship for someone younger/prettier/handsomer. If they were to end a relationship to date someone younger/prettier/handsomer, then, by definition, that person is either NOT secure or the relationship was NOT good. There was something lacking in the relationship or there was something lacking in him/herself  OR their relationship goals were incompatible (e.g., one wanted marriage and children and the other didn’t).

      So the other side of that coin is that people who WILL leave a good relationship for someone younger/prettier/handsomer is probably someone is insecure.

      Same thing for someone who leaves a good relationship who is “just as giving”, “just as intelligent, funny” as the one they left. If they are secure and the relationship was good and they left this good relationship for someone who was “just as” kind, giving, intelligent, or funny, then odds are the person they left him/her for is better looking (or richer, if the leaver is a woman; women will leave for richer OR better looking; men will leave for richer AND younger/prettier), so they’re really exiting the relationship for reasons that have roots in insecurity.

      However if s/he were to leave for a person who is more kind or more giving–then, we could argue that the the relationship they left was NOT good, because the partner was not as kind or as giving as leaver thought the s/he could be.

      I would say that if a woman would leave a good relationship for a “more intelligent” or “funnier” man, then that woman is also insecure. Presumably she knew his level of intelligence and funniness before she agreed to be his girlfriend/wife. So, all things being equal, why would she now find his intelligence and funniness unacceptable? Perhaps she was too anxious to get into a relationship before she assessed his intelligence or humor. “Anxious to get into a relationship” is indication of insecurity. (Men would not leave a good relationship for “more intelligent” or “funnier” women. So this only applies to women.)

      JM2C 🙂

       

      1. 15.1.1
        Adrian

        Hi Karmic Equation and GoWithTheFlow,

        So why is it okay for us to accept when people go after variety and better versions in all other aspects of life but not with a “healthy” relationship?

        How is it being insecure saying “Wow! My partner is pretty, but this new person, he/she is drop dead gorgeous and wants to date me?”

        …   …   …

        We all agree that looks and attraction matters to women as much as it matters to men, so then in your opinions, why do you think that older women seem to over look attractiveness when hooking up a child, or younger co-worker?

        I witnessed this yesterday (as well as dozens of other times in my life) and the (I’m guessing grandmother?) was telling her granddaughter how great the guy was and all his qualities, but to me the guy was overweight and slightly below average looking. I just keep thinking, no matter how nice the guy is, why would the old lady not consider the guys below average looks and body?

        Every time I have seen an older guy trying to hook up a younger couple, he always mentioned how attractive the girl or guy was along with all their good character qualities.

        …   …   …

        Honestly, I don’t think most people would have cared if the guy Evan mentioned was surrounded by below average looking, or old crone looking, or even over weight women.

        There seems to be something about beauty that makes people instantly look for the worse in the person to some how justify their jealousy of them.

        …   …   …

        GoWithTheFlow,

        I have heard of similar situations like your sons before. Why do you think some people want to save bad marriages?

        I could be wrong-so correct me if I am-but I don’t get the impression that love is the reason, so why do people like your daughter-in-law try to stay in unhappy marriages?

        Why do people going through divorces get mad or jealous when their soon to be ex partner finds someone new?

        1. GoWiththeFlow

          Hey Adrian,

          “So why is it okay for us to accept when people go after variety and better versions in all other aspects of life but not with a “healthy” relationship?”

          It’s not that the relationship they are leaving (for this something better) is necessarily unhealthy, i.e. abusive, it just may not be a deep relationship where the dumper has invested a lot of emotions or gone through any attachment steps.

          This reminds me of how it’s been posited on the blog that men can find or get into a relationship much easier than a woman can since men find a greater percentage of women acceptably attractive, than women find men attractive, and since women have a longer list of mate requirements.  The first thing I think of when I hear this is how deep do some of these relationships wind up being?

          There’s a big difference between a relationship where a guy is with a woman because he finds her attractive enough and pleasant enough to hang out with her versus a man who is with a woman he considers gorgeous, smart, sweet, and who makes him feel like a million bucks.  It’s girlfriend-for-now material vs. marriage material.  Neither relationship is unhealthy, it’s just the man (and possibly the woman) is more emotionally invested in the 2nd scenario vs. the first.

          “We all agree that looks and attraction matters to women as much as it matters to men, so then in your opinions, why do you think that older women seem to over look attractiveness when hooking up a child, or younger co-worker?”

          Some guesses I have would be 1) The matchmaker is prioritizing mate list items;  financial matters, education level, social potential of the man more than attractiveness.  2) A grandparent, mother, or aunt might be uncomfortable viewing their young female relative as a sexual being.  “My granddaughter will really want to jump his bones!” said no Nana EVER 😉

          “There seems to be something about beauty that makes people instantly look for the worse in the person to some how justify their jealousy of them.”

          Unfortunately true.  Also prurient interest:  Is that dude like WITH all of those girls?

          “Why do you think some people want to save bad marriages?”

          In my son’s case, he says his STB-ex doesn’t really love him, she’s afraid to be alone and on her own.

          “Why do people going through divorces get mad or jealous when their soon to be ex partner finds someone new?”

          I think because we don’t get to turn feelings off like a water spigot. Sometimes we have feelings for people and are still attached to them even when we don’t want to be or it’s not good for us.

    2. 15.2
      Selena

      @Adrian

      In your opinions why do you think that most people (generally speaking) will encourage or condone a person leaving a long time partner because they found someone new who made them emotionally or mentally happier than their current partner; yet most people will denounce a person leaving a long time partner because they just found someone better looking?
      I know that some people condemn both types of people, but why?”

      We can never know what someone’s relationship is/was truly like. The limited amount we are told may be one person’s perception of events. It may be slanted to favor their position. Just because a new partner is better looking than the previous partner doesn’t mean that was the reason the previous relationship ended. Again, I think the majority of LTR’s end due to long unresolved issues. Some due to growing apart – perhaps living separate lives. I suspect very few people just wake up one morning, decide they want a better looking partner, and break up an otherwise satisfying relationship.
      People choose each other on more than looks. Having complementary personalities figures into the attraction equation as well. Someone can be great looking, but rub us the wrong way. So can someone less than great looking.

      “Are we saying that a relationship is a once in a life time decision? “
      Well that’s the point of vowing to someone you will love, honor, and cherish them as long as you both shall live.  Why make that vow if you don’t mean it?

      “Why do people going through divorces get mad or jealous when their soon to be ex partner finds someone new?”

      When my partnerships ended I would go into a period of mourning. When I found out my ex had someone new it made me feel bad. He had moved on, but I was still stuck in the slow emotional process of letting go.
      I came across a piece of wisdom that sums it up: “You are not grieving for the relationship you had, you are grieving for the relationship you WANTED to have.”

  16. 16
    GoWiththeFlow

    Adrian,

    First, I think the term “Long Term Partner” is made up of many subcategories.  IMO there is a significant difference between being married, engaged, and being a committed boyfriend-girlfriend.

    Again, IMO, once you are married it’s not right to be scoping out members of the opposite sex that appeal to you more than your spouse with the idea being you are going to upgrade your current model.  If you are having issues with your spouse, work on your marriage or come to a decision to end it.

    IMO if you are boyfriend-girlfriend, then you are still in a period of discovery about your partner, and marriage is not a guaranteed end point.  If you find someone who is better suited to you, breaking off the relationship is definitely going to hurt the dumped partner, but I do believe that in the long run, it is better for everyone.  There’s no joy in an unhappy dysfunctional marriage.

    IMO if people are engaged, I do see where the degree of betrayal felt by the dumped partner would be greater than in a dating situation, and people in the couple’s social circle may judge the dumper more harshly, but in the long run, if you get left at the altar (and I know someone who was) in some ways a bullet is being dodged..  Again, unhappy marriage. . .

    I prefaced each scenario above with IMO because it is just my opinion.  I realize that not everyone has such set dividing lines.

    And a word on leaving “a good partner.”  Someone can be a great person and a kind partner, but the relationship could still be lacking important areas of compatibility that make it unsustainable in the long run.  I broke up with a boyfriend in my early 20’s who was a really great guy.  He just wasn’t the right guy for me.  Even looking back at this point in my life as a person who never got married, I still feel in my heart and my head that it was the right decision.  We didn’t line up well and we would have both been unhappy eventually.  Too much beta energy where we would literally have conversations that went:

    “What do you want to do?”

    “I don’t know, what do you want to do?”

    “You pick.”

    “I’ll do whatever you want to do.”

    Lastly, I think when people say they left a partner for “someone better looking” there’s more to it than just a number scale, trading in a 6 for an 8.  I think it’s everything that encompasses “chemistry” for the new person, looks + attraction + how you feel around them.  Also, I doubt that the dumper had much invested in the relationship, or a part of their brain has already decided that something is missing if they are walking out the door.  The fact that a new person is there for them may be more a symptom of an unsatisfying relationship than the cause of a breakup.

    p.s. If I knew there were blonde Polish expats vacationing where I was, I would be like, “Hey, those are my people!  I gotta go meet them!”  Although I’m way passed the gold sequined bikini wearing stage.  Especially if there are small children around 😉

    1. 16.1
      GoWiththeFlow

      Adrian,

      Just a p.s. to your’s and Selena’s posts.

      My son is going through a divorce after 7 years of marriage and 10 years together.  Very few people know his side of it because he considers it to be a private matter.  He reached his “I’m done” moment several months back.  Now that the divorce is close to finalization, his soon-to-be-ex is putting pressure on him to try to reconcile.  She has told many people in the town where they live, a sanitized version of the marriage breakdown, and tells them she wants to reconcile but he doesn’t want to.  So now my son has “concerned” friends approaching him and suggesting that maybe things can be worked out.  He’s totally looking like the bad person here, the one who’s leaving a “good partner.”

      If his STB ex’s goal was truly a reconciliation, the chances of that have moved from slim to snowball’s-chance-in-hell since now my son is frustrated and angry about her manipulating friends and co-workers into seeing her as the injured party in the situation.  So as Selena says, things may look one way when you are viewing someone’s relationship from the outside.  What’s really going on between them may shock you if you knew!

  17. 17
    SparklingEmerald

    Hi Adrian  – You asked ”

    5). I don’t understand women and attraction with new guys. If a woman meets a guy whom she is attracted to, why does his calling her or wanting to see her a few times a week, cause women to lose attraction, feel smothered, or consider the man needy?

    If you desire a guy how does his interest in you turn you off?” (for me it doesn’t)

    ****************

    If I desire a guy, his interest in me does NOT turn me off.  I can’t really speak for women who get turned off by men who like them so . . .  If this has been your experience, perhaps these women were really just on the fence with you . . .  I do hope you won’t give up hope that there are women who CRAVE a man’s reciprocal interest.

    However, when ever I have been “on the fence” about a guy, if he starts calling a lot, I don’t think his actions CAUSED me to be turned off, they just REVEALED what side of the fence I was on.

    I have NEVER started liking a guy more, because he acted like a “challenge” or what ever.  If I like a guy, but he acts aloof or bored or plays game, I don’t necessarily stop being attracted to him, but I will feel disappointed and move on, despite my feeling of attraction, because I don’t want to stay in a relationship where I feel continually disappointed.

    In short, my attraction has NEVER grown because a guy acted dis-interested in me.

    And if I felt GENUINE attraction (unmistakable, not “meh, I should give him a chance”) it was never turned off by a man’s show of interest.  I have walked away from relationships (or potential relationship, or whatever you want to call them) where I felt strong attraction for the following reasons:   A LACK of interest coming from the other party,  the discovery of a major incompatibility, or bad behavior.  I have NEVER been turned off by guy liking me, if I liked him.

    My fiance unmistakably pursued a relationship with me from the moment we met.  He didn’t come across to me as “needy” or anything like that.  Just cock-sure of himself.  His whole attitude just reeked of confidence that I was his girl.  I responded positively and enthusiastically to his every overture, and neither one of us has a single regret.

    Here are a few reasons why I think we are the way we are.  For starters, we are both in our 60’s, we want to make the most of our lives and we feel like we are to old, and life is too short to play games.

    Second of all, I am a “satisficer” as opposed to a “maximizer”.  (EMK had a column on this)  I can’t speak for my sweetheart, but I have always been a “satisficer” even before I knew the word for it.  And not just in relationships.  If I shop for something major, I decide what features I want and how much I’m willing to pay.  When I find what I want in my price range, I buy it.  I don’t keep endlessly shopping to see if it goes on sale, or if I can get it somewhere else cheaper, or find something with more bells and whistles, etc.  And I don’t kick myself if a month later, the thing I paid $100 for is now selling for $85.  I’m just glad I have the thing and am done shopping for it !

    As for people who dump their partners every couple of years for someone who is better looking, smarter, richer, funnier, etc.  that is their life to deal with.  I do wonder if they will ever really be satisfied with their relationship, because there is ALWAYS someone who is superior to your partner in some respect.  No matter how WONDERFUL your partner and relationship is,  if you keep looking for something “better” you will find someone who is “better” in some respect.  However, if you are the type of person who is always looking for the next better deal, then I don’t think it is right to marry, because marriage is a pledge to stay together forever.  I can see ending a marriage for cause (adultery, the end of physical intimacy, abuse, etc.)  but I really don’t think   “You are a good guy, but I found someone more handsome with more money – Buh-Bye” is grounds for divorce.

    I realize that I don’t represent all women.  No woman represents “all women”.  Sure, there may be a great number of women (men as well) who are always scoping out better, but there are many women like me, who once I find someone, will stay loyal to them. (I think the red pillers greatly exaggerate the number of women who are always trading up, in fact I KNOW they are exaggerating because the red pillers say that ALL women are like that, and I know that we aren’t)

    I never did like the notion of a guy who is a “challenge” or “mysterious”.  To me that just means the guy is difficult and evasive.  What is so great about a difficult  and uncertain relationship ?  I honestly totally do not get it.

    Also, I read the book “The Rules” which basically parrots the same mantra to women;  that men like women who are a “challenge” and “mysterious”.  I never could play that game, with men.  It just totally was NOT me.

     

     

    1. 17.1
      Nissa

      The flip side of this is that not all guys are great daters. Sometimes they get excited and start interviewing. For me, it can seem a little invasive. I’d much rather hear about the guy in question- I already know all about me, tell me about you, please!

       

  18. 18
    AM

    Hi Evan,  Alain de Botton may have a fancier name, be a philosopher and have eloquent sounding passages.  For me, his wordiness gets in the way of the message — for the record I much prefer your style of writing.  Engaging, interesting gets the point clearly across.  Thanks for your commitment to help women (and ultimately men) find their match.

    1. 18.1
      lily

      I agree. Wholeheartedly.

      Evan is bright, engaging, practical, helpful, and writes with clarity.

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