Another Broken Heart? Here’s How to Get It Right with the Next Guy.

They’re wonderful stories. They just rarely have happy endings.

That’s the way I see “love at first sight,” that Hollywood-meets-real-life phenomenon where you meet a total stranger and “just know” you’re meant to be together.

It’s powerful. We’ve all felt it. And because there are a bunch of people whose relationships did, in fact, continue to thrive, we seem to think that this is the best – if not only – way to fall in love.

It’s not.

What the “love at first sight” success stories neglect to tell are how often love at first sight does NOT result in a safe, lasting, fifty-year marriage. Which is to say: 99% of the time. Check out this free video if you want to see why this kind of chemistry leads you into the wrong relationships most of the time. 

What the “love at first sight” success stories neglect to tell are how often love at first sight does NOT result in a safe, lasting, fifty-year marriage.

Still, I appreciated this piece from the New York Times, attempting to explain “How to Stop Rushing into Love.” It all seems like common sense, but then, common sense tends to go out the window when it comes to love, doesn’t it?

The advice is solid, for the most part:

Exercise restraint. Commit to your boundaries. Open up, but not too quickly. Be protective of your time from the beginning. Sex, love and compatibility don’t always come in one package. All fair and moderate stances which you’ve read here before.

The one article subheader that bumped me was the one that said to have sex whenever you want, which surprised me. Turns out, the header sort of misrepresents the advice that follows, which sounds identical to mine sleep with whomever you want, but you’d better not expect anything following casual sex with a stranger:

Sleep with whomever you want, but you’d better not expect anything following casual sex with a stranger.

“A big part of deciding when you have sex with someone is about managing your expectations for what will happen to the relationship as a result of breaking ground on physical intimacy, according to Megan Fleming, a sex and relationship therapist and clinical instructor of psychology in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College.

If right away “you’re going to sleep with someone, be crystal clear: You’re perfectly fine if you never speak to them again,” Dr. Fleming said.

“If casual sex is what you really want, there’s no problem rushing in,” she said. “But if your big goal is a more long-term relationship, having sex quickly can be an attempt to jump-start a relationship. And to recognize that, more often than not, that’s not how it works.”

So, how do YOU avoid falling into the same chemistry/passion/fantasy-based traps that come with an instant connection with a stranger?

Do you ever learn your lesson and slow things down? Or do you keep diving into empty pools, praying that this time there will finally be water beneath?

Your thoughts below, are always appreciated.

Join our conversation (31 Comments).
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Comments:

  1. 1
    Noquay

    I’ve never been someone who rushed into anything. I keep healthy boundaries, do not do casual sex, am clear on what I’m looking for and what I’m trying to avoid in a partner and why. Have never believed in fantasy or immediate chemistry. Must be the cynical scientist in me. According to this and nearly every other rship blog, I’m doing everything right. I see there is no water in the pool and turn away. Even when it appears that someone shares your values, folk take time to unfold and not everyone is honest about what they’re looking for and some can keep up a facade for a long time in order to get what they want. Relationships are always a crap shoot, and despite you doing all the right things, may not work out. I also see how my serious work ethic, environmentally aware, very responsible mindset doesn’t mesh well with the much more casual, laid back values in the West. This becomes more difficult when ones only dating options are long distance, you’re dealing with hazardous driving half the year and a restrictive work schedule.  Used to blame myself until I paid attention and realized that few single women do well here.
    Having had a great marriage, I know what a great rship should look and feel like and that makes it even more difficult to settle for someone you have no attraction to and see no future with.  To that end, I’m focusing on leaving the state (Colo mountain town), busily fixing up this home so I can maximize sale price. At 57, this may be the end of career and early retirement time. Looking for regions where a serious woodswoman who is also an activist, intellectual, and athlete can find like minded community. Last ditch plan is relocating to my remote farm and walking away from relationships and focusing on farming, living sustainably, and maintaining fitness.

    1. 1.1
      GoWiththeFlow

      Noquay,

      You nail it with your first few sentences.

      I had one ONS when I was much younger and it was an overall crappy experience.  The sex was technically bad and the icky feelings I had about it afterwards weren’t pleasant to experience either.  I have read several comments on Evan’s blog from women who say a lot of or most of the sex they have had has been mediocre to bad.  That’s really sad.  Except for that ONS the sex I have had has been both physically and psychologically satisfying to off the charts awesome.  But I genuinely liked the men I was having sex with, and seeing them again was a certainty since we were in a relationship.

      The big thing I needed to learn for myself was taking it easy in the beginning stages of interacting with men.  Keeping my eyes and ears open and seeing where it goes instead of jumping all in because of chemistry, then months later when the chemistry dies down, realizing that there isn’t enough compatibility to sustain a relationship.

    2. 1.2
      tarra

      Noqay, I’ve worked in the United States in the past and certainly met the type of person you describe yourself to be, however they are less the norm.

      I think you should consider a short opportunity in Scandinavia to determine if you could be happy here in the longer term, you sound very well suited and dating in later stages of life is common. Although dating is not done in the American sense

    3. 1.3
      tarra

      Noqay, I’ve worked in the United States in the past and certainly met the type of person you describe yourself to be, however they are less the norm in my admittedly limited experience

      I think you should consider a short opportunity in Scandinavia to determine if you could be happy here in the longer term, you sound very well suited and dating in later stages of life is common. Although dating is not done in the American sense

      1. 1.3.1
        Noquay

        Taura

        Spent time in Finland and was impresssed, the Norwegian coast too. Scandinavia is a much more civilized place than the US

  2. 2
    Ames

    Noquay, I enjoy reading your posts and how genuine you are and your comfort with yourself. You could find a world of kindred spirits in Washington and Oregon. I hope all the pieces fall into place for you. 

    1. 2.1
      Noquay

      Thanks Ames 🙋🏾

      Looking more Eastward, hasn’t been many jobs in my field (Sciences) in affordable areas in those states you mentioned. Looking at Vermont, and the Asheville NC region, and also looking at on line teaching which would hold me to a specific place. Do miss trees, greenery though I love climbing steep hills.

      1. 2.1.1
        Emily, the original

        Noquay,

        Looking at Vermont, and the Asheville NC region, 

        I lived in the Asheville area. I don’t know what you do for a living. There are a lot of opportunities in the sciences/engineering, nursing and social science fields like psychology or social work. Otherwise, employers, as a whole, underpay and the cost of living is about what it is in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area, even though the latter is a major metropolitan area and Asheville is a small town, which is reflected in what it doesn’t offer in terms of other amenities. Also, the weather is bad. Very humid. Very rainy. Bad hair weather. I found the city pretentious, but if you are looking to make a lot of good friends, it’s the place to do that. I meet a lot of single women, particularly those 45 and over, but you may want to do some research in terms of the number of single men if you decide you are interested in dating. For that… I’d go West.

        1. Noquay

          Original Emily

          West is where I am now. If I see yet one more overweight dude, 60-70’s in ski gear who states “I never wanna grow up”, I’m gonna scream. I’m really into taking responsibility for self, self care and caring about our environment. I’m a Prof with three Science degrees and my main loves are Environmental Science and Sustainability. Thanks though, for thinking of me. I’m going for a smaller artsy, college town place in NC or VT. Don’t mind humidity, actually miss it, but don’t do really well in heat.  Since my hair is extremely long, yep, bad hair days will be the norm most places but I’ve got a good supply of hair ties for the looong Black braid.

        2. GoWiththeFlow

          Noquay,

          My brother, who is in his late 40s and single, loves Asheville and would move there in a heartbeat if he could swing it.  He’s into hiking and mountain biking and says there are a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities.

        3. Emily, the original

          Noquay,

          West is where I am now. 

          By West, I meant Seattle or the Silicon Valley, where there’s supposed to a higher male-to-female ratio. You’d have to like computer guys, though. Not my cup of tea.

           

  3. 3
    Olongapo

    @Norquay……I retired a second time (3 years post divorce), went back to school, bought a vineyard, and moved 10 hours away from everything that I knew.  Both good and bad.

    I zeroed everything out and moved to a new, rural community not knowing a soul and couldn’t be happier.  I am not seeking relationships, live with my dogs, and work (hard) 10 hours a day.  It’s all about me.

    Funny thing is that potential partners come out of the woodwork and despite not actively dating, I get a lot of visitors and socialize a lot.

    This worked for me and I don’t anguish anymore.  My concerns are a little more prosaic like “How do I keep the Elk out of my vines?”

    You may be on to something and I agree with Ames…..check out Oregon and Washington.  Good luck

    1. 3.1
      Emily, the original

      Olongapo

      I am not seeking relationships, live with my dogs, and work (hard) 10 hours a day.  It’s all about me. … Funny thing is that potential partners come out of the woodwork and despite not actively dating, I get a lot of visitors and socialize a lot.

      That’s because your whole energy changed. You were no longer seeking external validation … people wanted to know your secret.  🙂

      1. 3.1.1
        S.

        Yeah, but the secret seems to be focusing on yourself and making yourself happy and not thinking about relationships at all.  If that focus were to change, wouldn’t it just be back to the same?

        Just thinking.

        1. Emily, the original

          S.,

          Yeah, but the secret seems to be focusing on yourself and making yourself happy and not thinking about relationships at all.  If that focus were to change, wouldn’t it just be back to the same?

          No. I look at a lot of these celebrities, many of whom suffer from alcohol or drug problems or depression. Yet they have everything that is supposed to me you happy — looks, fame, money, success. It’s because they don’t have an internal sense of validation, which doesn’t come from external things. It’s having a sense of purpose, direction and fulfillment that makes a person attractive.So if he goes back out and looks for a relationship, he’ll be coming from a different mental/emotional place and will put up with a lot less because he has a sense of self-worth. He’ll also take things a lot less personally. I know it sounds like new age gobbledygok but there’s a lot of truth in it

           

        2. S.

          @Emily

          You’re assuming that a person has less sense of self before they withdraw from dating.  That isn’t necessarily so.  I do think a period of retreat can center and ground you.  But I don’t think that has to do with self-worth.  It’s an act of self-love to take that time, but it doesn’t mean one wasn’t taking periods of time for self-love all along.

          You can obviously have a sense of purpose and drive within or without relationships.  The question is more about focus and choices.  If you choose to focus on yourself, your needs, your goals for years at a time, just because you want to and it’s that time for you in your life, what happens when you reenter and you no longer have that exclusive focus on you?  Being in the world and in relationship with others (not meaning solely romantic relationships) is a shift in focus.

          I think it’s that focus and drive that not only attracts people, but takes the pressure off them because they know you aren’t focused on them.  They can relax.  Great for them.  But you really aren’t focused on them, like seriously.  I’m not sure if there is anywhere else to go with that if you really want to remain in retreat and if that is working gloriously for you.

        3. Emily, the original

          S.,

          I am talking about having an internal sense of self-worth and self-containment, whether you are dating or not. Olonaopo found it by not seeking relationships but, as I pointed out, once you have the internal sense of self-worth, how you seek relationships and who you attract will change. You’ll be coming at relationships and people from a different angle with a different energy, much different than if you were waiting for someone to validate you.

    2. 3.2
      Noquay

      You must be in the arid West if you’re growing grapes and dealing with Elk. Serious fencing. I do own a farm in Upper Mich with orchards and a small sugarbush operation. Always held onto it because I could live on very little there, get my wood and good right there.  Problem is, my ex husband and I owned it together so lotsa good, now sad memories. I left because I became unemployed and my life was threatened over my research. Not sure what my reception would be and what my dating options are in the nearest towns, 20 mi north. I do want a rship because I’ve no family and would be leaving all friends behind. Even for someone who is OK alone and is most of the time, expecting 100% alone is stretching it. However, 10 hr days on the land sound pretty good at present, no schedules, routines, living in a good way according to the seasons.

  4. 4
    Ames

    Noquay, salaries will be higher in those more affluent areas. I’m looking to someday retire to Washington and found 45-60 min outside Seattle to have reasonable housing. Living in raleigh, nc I can confirm Asheville is a breathtakingly beautiful and liberal place. You’ll run into some uber hippie, pothead, baths-are-optional young adults but if you can overlook them it’s an artsy haven. Check out raleigh too. We have a solid yet affordable real estate market and lots of work in science and tech. We’ve made lists of best cost of living to quality of life, we’re around  universities, and have a ton of green space. They call us “city within a park.” Several spots in the triangle have made best place to live lists. Male/female ratios decent as well. 😊

    1. 4.1
      Noquay

      Ames

      Where I’ve applied for a position is in Cullowhee. Lots of cool places with land that I could afford. Culture and art nearby, hopefully lots of trails.  Tribes, maybe pow wows not too far away. Probably racism too but that’s here, that’d be nearly everywhere. I miss humidity, water, deciduous trees. The pothead, hygiene optional types constitute a good deal of my current student population and sadly, most dudes in my age range (50-75) on eco dating sites.

  5. 5
    Linda

    45 and have given up on all this garbage. It feels fantastic and my only regret is not doing it sooner.

  6. 6
    SparklingEmerald

    Actually, I read the linked article and thought it was pretty good.  I was expecting a lecture about giving guys that  you feel “meh” about a chance, stop being so picky, settle for “Mr. Good enough” etc. I was delighted that this wasn’t the case.Anyway for me, if I don’t feel that initial excitement when I meet a guy, it NEVER has gone into a real relationship.  Believe me, I have given guys I have felt “meh” about ” a chance” and it never went anywhere.  Of course most of the time that I have felt the initial excitement, attraction, connection, click, chemistry or whatever you want to call it, it didn’t go anywhere either, but key words here are “never” and “most”.  At some point, I had to realize that something that “sometimes” worked is better than something that “never” works, so I had to stop “giving chance” to those beige dates.  Since MOST first dates don’t lead to relationships to begin with, the “rushing in” factor is going to be in most of those dead end dates nearly as much as those dead end “beige dates”.Any way, in this round of singledom that led to my now marriage, the only “rushing” was how fast the feeling of being excited to see the person again happened.  I didn’t “rush” the actions leading to a relationship.  Didn’t spend the night on a first date, didn’t ask “Where is this going ?” on a second date and expect a proposal after two weeks.  But that initial feeling ?  Many experts say our brain knows within a split second if we are attracted or not.  Rather than fight the feeling, I embraced it, fully enjoyed the honeymoon infatuation phase, but I did pace my actions a bit. In this round of singledom I followed the male lead as far as setting the pace of the relationships.  I know some men on this blog become enraged at that and ask “But why can’t the woman initiate the first date, the first kiss, first sex, etc.” and I and many women have explained that almost always, if the woman initiates any of that, it’s ineffective.  To illustrate, if a man asks his girlfriend to marry him, it’s called a “proposal”, if woman asks her boyfriend to marry her (or hints at the subject first) it’s called “pressure”.  Men complain about “clingy” women, “bat shit crazy” women, and I would bet my last dollar that these “clingy bat shit crazies” wanted to move the pace of the relationship faster than the guy, or more likely wanted to move a FWB or ONS into a relationship and the guy had zero interest.  In my experience, if a guy wants a real relationship HE will lock it down, he WILL lead in that direction.  If he’s not, it’s because he doesn’t WANT to, and the woman bringing it up will either lead to him bolting for the door, or half heartedly committing for the sex, then changing his mind very shortly after.Yes, I felt that “instant connection” the first time I saw his face.  Some might call that the “just knowing”.  I didn’t “just know” but I had a strong feeling that this was very possibly the start of a loving relationship and it was definitely worth exploring the possibility.  Our relationship evolved to boyfriend/girlfriend rather quickly, but it was at HIS lead.  In fact, I remember thinking to myself at one point “Hmmm, he’s throwing the relationship word around, that’s rather presumptious” then a big smile coming across my face and then thinking “and I LIKE it”.  The decision to become exclusive came rather fast, “consummating” the relationship came very shortly thereafter (but not the same night) and yes, in that order.  We married on an appropriate timeline, a little over 2 years later. (I wasn’t even looking for marriage, just a committed monogamous relationship, but here I am, happily married)So while I instantly knew I was attracted to, felt a connection to, and wanted to explore a relationship with him, I still managed to avoid rushing the actions of the relationship.  I wouldn’t call that feeling “just knowing”.  Well I “just knew” I wanted a second date, but I didn’t “just know” he was my future husband or even my next boyfriend.Even now, even though very happily married, I still have that 1% doubt that we could end up divorced.  While unlikely, that we will divorce, I am not naive enough to think I can say with 100% certainty that we won’t.  After all, I am no stranger to divorce and I was “110 %” sure that my marriage to the father of my child would last forever.  I can live with that 1% doubt.   

    1. 6.1
      Noquay

      Sparkling Emerald

      I too thought it was a great article and was relieved not to hear the “settle for meh, someone much less educated, much lower income, less ambition etc”. Actually took that kind of advice more than once living here and it was a disaster. I think you do know when there is a chance at a connection and when it just ain’t gonna happen. I suspect most of us do not do what was described in the post. Most of us recognize red flags, are boundaries. If anything, Ive learned to trust my gut and need to be sure we are compatible even if that means rejecting 99% of the men in my path. You’re right, even marriage isn’t 100% certain. Would never have thought I’d be single again, especially because of something that had nothing to do with our relationship per se. Sometimes stuff or multiple stuff happens.

    2. 6.2
      Emily, the original

      Sparking Emerald,

      I know some men on this blog become enraged at that and ask “But why can’t the woman initiate the first date, the first kiss, first sex, etc.” and I and many women have explained that almost always, if the woman initiates any of that, it’s ineffective. 

      I’m not sure I agree with you with the physical stuff. Who cares who initiates the first kiss? And I think a woman can approach a man and make it clear she’s interested. She can even hand him her phone number. But the ball’s in his court after that. In the initial stages of dating, he needs to take the lead in terms of initiating contact, asking out and making plans and bringing up commitment. Or she will always be chasing the relationship, nudging it along, reminding him of her existence. It’s not a fun feeling. A man who is really interested acts on it, even if he is shy. Now, I think the sex is usually better if the man initiates the first kiss /first sex. Shows he’s confident, but it’s not required.

      1. 6.2.1
        Stacy

        Exactly Emily…and to add to that, the thing that some men don’t understand is that, it does not inspire sexual desire when a woman ‘takes the lead’ in the beginning. Blame it on nature or whatever else but it just is. When you expect a woman to initiate, plan and pay for dates in the initial courting stage, you might as well ask her to look at you like a brother.

        1. Emily, the original

          Stacy,

          When you expect a woman to initiate, plan and pay for dates in the initial courting stage, you might as well ask her to look at you like a brother.

          Well, we’ve gone back and forth extensively on this site about the “who pays” issue. I think it’s certainly nice if the guy pays, but given the amount of money some of the male commenters have spent on dates with women — 2, 3 and 4 dates — only for the women to disappear makes me understand why that can be a sore spot for some men.

          But taking the lead is very important.

      2. 6.2.2
        SparklingEmerald

        ETO – I am not sure I understand your response, you seem to disagree, then agree with what I said.Anyway as far as women not being the initiators, it’ not because “who cares” or that I think it is “wrong”, or that male initiation is “required”,  but it just has NEVER worked for me.  For me it has NEVER been effective to make the first move, so because it doesn’t work for me, I won’t do it.If other women have successfully initiated and gotten into a relationship that way, well good on them.  I haven’t, and in the cases of all the women I know who did the chasing, it never ended well for them, which is why in this round of singeldom, I didn’t chase after men.JM2C, YMMV

        1. Emily, the original

          Sparkling Emerald,

          I am not sure I understand your response, you seem to disagree, then agree with what I said.

          I meant that if a woman is at a party or bar and sees a man she likes, she can certainly approach him and strike up a conversation. If things go well, she can make it very clear she’s interested by handing him her number. But then it’s up to him. Even if he provides his contact info. She’s let him know she’s interested. Now it’s up to him to take the lead. Nudging things along or chasing would be to reach out and contact him herself. But if a woman never approaches the men she is most interested in, she is at the mercy of the men who approach her. There’s no guarantee the men she likes and approaches will respond to her, of course, but dating is a bit of a crap shoot, anyway.

    3. 6.3
      ScottH

      A friend of mine summed it up quite neatly.  He said, “it’s his job to take the lead, but it’s her job to let him know that it’s ok for him to do so.”  I can live by that.

      1. 6.3.1
        SparklingEmerald

        Yes Scott, that’s it exactly, in my experience.  My husband left me with no doubt what so ever of his intentions and I made it very clear with my enthusiastic response that I was on the same page.  No bull shit playing hard to get games, none of that nonsense in “The Rules”.  Of course, we are both senior citizens, and realize that life is to short to play games.

  7. 7
    Stacy

    My rules for when I was dating:1. Do not overinvest2. Take what someone says with a grain of salt (in the beginning and until he is your boyfriend).3. Keep dating until it is clearly getting serious and heading into boyfriend territory. This will avoid you getting attached too quickly, and especially if you’re that type.4. Do not put it down in the bedroom especially if you tend to attach quickly after sex (like many, many women) until he is talking commitment and clear effort has been put in over a reasonable amount of time (this varies depending on how much time was spent together)5. Make sure his time/investment on you is measurable. 

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