My sister is a beautiful, smart, and funny 29-year-old woman. She wants to get married and have a family someday, but her problem is that she’s not attracted to anyone. She’s been on maybe 60 or 70 dates and has only had two boyfriends, both of which were very short-term relationships. One of them, she broke up with because he was a great guy, but she “didn’t feel anything for him” (he’s now engaged). The second one was someone she was really attracted to, but he was wrong for her: he was an aspiring actor without a stable career and was very much below her educational level. They weren’t able to hold a proper intelligent conversation because he just didn’t understand her. He’s now married to someone else and my sister is miserable that she broke up with him because he was the only guy she was attracted to and who also loved her.
Now, she’s at her wit’s end and feels like she’ll never like anyone again. I’m telling her that that’s not true, that I’ve had failed relationships myself and felt like I’ll never had that connection with anyone else, but have encountered other good guys and “learned to love again.” She says I’m different because I like nice guys, but she’s not attracted to guys who are sweet. The last guy she was interested in was someone who was intelligent and fun but also an arrogant jerk who ended up dumping her. I don’t know how to help her.
Do I encourage her to date someone she doesn’t feel anything for, in case she might grow to appreciate him? Should she hold out for love, not knowing when or if it’ll happen? I’ve had that thing happen, where I would feel the need for a boyfriend, date the next nice guy who liked me, and end up falling in love. She’s not like that. She can go on 20 dates with a great guy, who treats her well and not feel a thing. Please advise.
Thanks for reaching out on behalf of your sister, Esther. It’s not easy to watch someone you love make self-sabotaging mistakes and I appreciate you wanting to look out for her.
Unfortunately, as you know, this is her battle to fight, not yours. You can’t make your Dad quit drinking or smoking. You can’t sign up your best friend with a trainer at the gym. And, in fifteen years as a dating coach, I’ve been referred by many women but rarely do they take advantage of the opportunity.
In general, they don’t think they have a problem. They think everyone else has a problem. They think you don’t understand them. They think the rules that apply to everyone else but don’t necessarily apply to them. I couldn’t be more sympathetic.
I was like that, once upon a time, when I was holding out for some mythological Rhodes Scholar/TopChef/Supermodel who was also a liberal, East Coast, Jewish atheist. That’s what I was attracted to! That’s what I liked! Why should I SETTLE for less?
That’s how I ended up writing this article for Match called Last Single Guy Standing. I was 34 at the time and this is a sad, semi-self-aware look at how someone can give sound dating advice for a living and still not figure things out for himself.
Fortunately, I continued to learn as a coach, listen to some of the things I was telling other people, and figure out how to apply them to myself.
I met my wife less than a year later. That was 11 years ago.
So, Sister, if you’re reading, allow me to share with you directly and compassionately:
- You’ll like someone else again. Promise.
- Don’t listen to your caring sister about dating someone you don’t feel anything for. That’s a recipe for disaster.
- Consider that there is a wide spectrum for attraction (not everyone can be a 1 or a 10.) I tend to recommend 6-7 in attraction to start (so that it grows even further), but never to start with NO attraction.
- If you’re ONLY attracted to hot guys who treat you like crap and refuse to consider men who treat you well, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. The solution lies within you.
If you want to live a long, happy life, you find a way to train your palate to make these appealing.
Someone may still the urge to smoke/drink/eat unhealthy foods, but if they’re on a healthier path, they ignore the temptation and substitute better habits. No one will argue that cranberry and soda gives a worse buzz than a vodka cranberry. No one will argue that steak and ice cream may be more pleasing than chicken and broccoli. But you know what? If you want to live a long, happy life, you find a way to train your palate to make these appealing. And if that sounds awful to you, because you insist on eating steak and ice cream three times a day even though there are no documented examples of it leading to a healthy existence, that is your prerogative. All your sister and I can do is wish you the best of luck.
But I don’t think that’s what you want.
You are 29 and have the capacity to change your own destiny.
Warmest wishes and much love,