How to Know If You’re Wasting Time on the Wrong Men

Lovers washing dishes together in their kitchen

One of the most common things I hear from my clients is this: “I understand that I have to compromise on some things to be in a relationship, but how do I know WHAT I should compromise on?”

If you’ve ever asked yourself the same question, I understand.

There have been a number of times in your past when you thought you met the “right” man…and yet he turned out, like all the others, to be WRONG.

The entire time I was dating my wife, I wasn’t sure whether I was making the right decision.

I wanted to be sure in my heart.
I wanted to feel that sense of blind confidence.
I wanted to “just know” that she was the “right” person for me.

But as you know, there have been a number of times in your past when you thought you met the “right” man…and yet he turned out, like all the others, to be WRONG.

So much for “knowing”.

As a dating coach, I’m constantly working with you to refine your choices — to ensure that you don’t waste time on the wrong men, and learn to invest in the good ones.

It’s not easy. It doesn’t always come naturally. But it has some incredible rewards.

Which is why I want to tell you what REALLY matters in a man…

Yesterday, I was instant messaging an old friend on Facebook. Tami’s a delightful person whom I’ve known since early childhood — attractive, athletic, intelligent, funny, successful, and the mother of two beautiful children.

She also told me that she’s getting divorced.

Her husband cheated on her multiple times — and Tami’s rightfully furious.

She’s questioning the meaning of her entire relationship.
She’s questioning how she’s ever going to find love again in the future.
Most of all, she’s questioning her own judgment, which is the hardest thing to do when you pride yourself on being intelligent and rational.

From what little I learned about Tami and her husband, it seemed clear that she willfully ignored his selfish, narcissistic tendencies because of what came with the rest of the package — cute, smart, successful, etc.

Have you ever done the same thing? I’m betting you have. And I’m betting that you’re a lot better off without that guy than you are with him.

Which brings me to the crux of today’s post: how do you KNOW if someone is a good guy or a bad guy?

For this answer, I want to enlist another story — that of Jean-Dominique Bauby — the former editor of French Elle magazine, who, after suffering from a stroke, became completely paralyzed, except for his left eyelid.

Bauby’s story was immortalized in the movie, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”, but it really got me to thinking:

If you had EVERYTHING taken away from you — your body, your job, your whole self-definition — what would you be left with?

You’d be left with your mind.
You’d be left with your heart.
You’d be left with your spirit.
You’d be left with your kindness.
You’d be left with your generosity.
You’d be left with your sense of humor.

Strip away your looks, your home, your career, your money and you’d be left with everything that’s on the INSIDE.

The guy who doesn’t prioritize you now is NEVER going to prioritize you.

So if Tami wants to know where she went wrong in choosing her husband…

…or if you’ve struggled for years to figure out why you choose the wrong men…

Your answer is right here in front of you.

You’ve been investing in the least important qualities.

Looks come and go. Jobs come and go.

Money comes and goes.

What lasts forever is CHARACTER.

I’ve already acknowledged that I’ve dated younger women, smarter women, more successful women, and so on… but I never met a BETTER woman than my wife.

I’m telling you, if I were hit by a bus tomorrow, she’d push me around in a wheelchair for the next 40 years.

That’s what I mean by character.

There are no shortage of impressive men out there who make you tingle every time you think of them — but they’re WORTHLESS if they don’t put YOU first.

So the next time you’re dating a guy, don’t get too sucked in by his charm or his wit or his looks or his money…

Instead, learn to appreciate the guy who does what he says, who says what he means, who makes it clear that you’re a priority to him.

After all, the guy who doesn’t prioritize you now is NEVER going to prioritize you.

Cut him loose and choose the man who loves you for what’s INSIDE.

Because what’s inside never goes away.

What do you think? Am I just a big sap for thinking that character is a better predictor of relationship stability than chemistry? Let me know your thoughts below…

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  1. 1

    Just the answer I need, Evan. Thanks.

  2. 2

    Chemistry helps get you started, but Character is what makes it last. No question Character is the most important thing for long-term relationships and seems to be most frequently overlooked as well!

    1. 2.1

      copletly disagree chemistry is more important if that runs out you are left just being mates or even resenting the person!

      1. 2.1.1

        Clearly, you have not read or understood what Evan teaches about chemistry. But keep on doing what you’re doing and let us know how that works. If chemistry is your #1 criterion, you can look forward to men who don’t put you first and leave you for the next hottest thing. Or you will chase man after man seeking that high, because chemistry tends to settle down after a couple of years.

      2. 2.1.2
        Lynn Marie Serett

        If chemistry is lost over time, but you have character to fall on, that is the base of a real relationship. Chemistry can “trick” you into thinking your love interest is something they’re not, something better, real love, etc. Pheromones (i.e. chemistry) are tools for our animal selves, but we must use our evolved human judgment to see through false chemistry to the heart of the individual.


    2. 2.2
      Janise Baldo


  3. 3

    100% right as usual.

  4. 4

    You just made my day. I got dumped at 10:30pm last night by the guy I thought I was going to marry, who told me he just doesn’t have time to prioritize our relationship over his demanding job right now. I was wondering whether or not his honest assessment of how much he could give was honorable, and whether or not his success, good looks, intelligence and ambition were worth waiting around until he could give me more time- but you said it and you said it clear- if he’s not prioritizing me now, he’s never going to.  

    Thanks for helping one lucky female break away!  

    1. 4.1

      The same thing happened to me, and has happened to so many others. This article has helped me break away too, even if just a bit. The emotions will eventually follow.
      Best to you.

    2. 4.2

      His loss!  
      I am sure you will find a guy emotionally intelligent enough
      to realize that love is most important and a job is just a means of
      making money and it will not be loyal to you and fulfill you the way
      a woman can.

    3. 4.3
      Joanna Ruckenstein

      His loss indeed! So sorry this happened to you.
      At least you are prioritizing yourself and you know what you want. Some people will just never get it…if you know what I mean. Take this time to focus on yourself and making your dreams come true. Good luck!!

      1. 4.3.1

        You are so right I am with a man who thinks
        That I should pay for everything for him.
        I am going to work on living my dreams.  

      2. 4.3.2

        So the man has to prioritize the woman, but at the same time, we appreciaye women who prioritize themselves? K..

        1. Maria

          the thing about that is…woman can multitask ^

        2. Peggy Sue

          So many women prioritize the man, who never makes time for her. Which turns out to be draining. But sounds like you may be caught in the opposite crunch. Unless you are in a relationship where the woman is temporarily experiencing burn out and needs a lot of attention for a short period of time, then the same principles apply. If the woman is not prioritizing the man, then the relationship is not going to last. The truth is if she has no time for you now, and has never had time for you during your relationship, she probably is not going to change. Even if she is burned out, does not mean your relationship should be on hold FOREVER. So maybe she needs to take some time to prioritize herself, which may mean she does not have what is necessary to be in relationship right now. Especially if you have already asked her to, and have had arguments about this very thing. If you have not point blank asked her, then give it a try before ending the relationship prematurely, also if she has prioritized you in the past but does not now then give her some extra time, but otherwise…the end. Only you can know if you are giving up too easy, or if it is just time to finalize what you already know, that the relationship is not working, and probably never will.

        3. Gail

          I think that both men & women have to prioritize the relationship with one another. Each person is whole in and of themselves, each may have a job/career, and other responsibilities outside of the relationship, but a relationship only remains strong if both parties communicate and prioritize with one another.

    4. 4.4

      I had to come to this realization myself recently.   It stinks but it’s the truth.   Al least in your case he was honest about it.   Mine still insists that I’m a priority.   And yet he would not spend time with me during the week.   There was ALWAYS an excuse not to see me.   So I did what was best for me and decided to move on

      1. 4.4.1

        I feel like we have been dating the same guy! Same insistance that I’m a priority but continues to blow me off…always an excuse. I does stink, but accepting the truth and moving on is the best thing we can do for ourselves!

      2. 4.4.2

        That’s me as well. Super sweet guy but can make limited time for us. If his kids ask him to do something it’s always a yes and will push back our plans. Part of it is he’s a yes man and can’t say no to his kids. It sucks feeling like an afterthought.   I’ve expressed my views and he listens, says he’ll change and never does. It’s time to move on.

        1. Lucy A

          I noticed this phenomenon on multiple occasions. I think it comes from guilt men feel when their relationship does not work out that they are not being good enough dads and so they compensate. Usually you will see a non loving parent situation in their own life. They are very hard to change in 40s and up. You might want to see a counselor together if you are with a man who prioritizes children. They do not keep women, often are alone, compensate with pets and experience bursts of desperation.

  5. 5

    Brilliant, Evan!
    We should post this everywhere, forward it to everyone, write it on bathroom stalls, slip it between pages of books entitled “Get Younger and Thinner Now”.

  6. 6

    I really like this and it makes sense.     Character will  last in the relationships and will sustain it, not the chemistry.     And the guy that does not prioritize you now, will never priotize you – I could of saved a lot of time with this one in  prior relationships.       It seems that you really tune in to how the guy is treating you now, will be the future.       Now the question remains:   What Characters in guy do you want?

  7. 7

    I think that the things that are often important to us when we’re young change as we get older. Appearances may be really important when you”re 22, but character becomes more important when you’re over 40 and have lived a bit. Yes, some chemistry has to be present, but you also learn that deeper qualities like honesty and dependability are must-haves. I think that’s why I take a lot more time getting to know a man than I did when I was younger. It takes more time to discover those deeper qualities that exist below the surface.  

  8. 8

    I’ve been wondering the same thing – at the start of something that started online and seemed to have potential.   A guy who lives 100 miles away, so it’s long distance. Three weeks ago, he was changing his work commitments around so he could come over once a week.   But he’s starting his own business, and suddenly lots of freelance work is coming in and he’s too busy to plan to see me.   Despite the fact that we talk on the phone or skype most days (does this count as being on his list of priorities?) I feel at the bottom of his list of priorities, and my confidence in this has drained away . . . I suppose Evan would say it’s a no-brainer!

    1. 8.1
      Joanna Ruckenstein

      Don’t give up on him so easily. Try and go visit him! Relationships are about give and take. And also with men, you have to kind of seductively tell them how you feel sometimes. Always be honest with them about how you feel, but tell them in a way that sounds like you are not nagging. Or crying. It’s kind of like you have to tell them in a way that makes them still feel like a man or like it was their idea. Knowing all along that it was your idea. But know all the while, that if he does not make the compromise, then he never will.
      And then you have your answer. But as my mom’s friend once said…”Whatever you think you deserve, is what you deserve”
      Good luck!

      1. 8.1.1

        No, Give up on him. Sweetie, if he can’t make time for you now, when its all hot? He ain’t gonna make time for you down the line. Its a hard pill to swallow, but you are worth more than this guy.

    2. 8.2
      Lisa Roberts

      I know the feeling.   I’ve been with my lover for 3 .5 years.   And it’s the same thing.   I’m always the one changing plans to for into his.   Sometimes I wait and not make plans.   We have been in again off again the whole time.   The whole relationship has been on his terms.   I broke it off this time. I told him I want someone who is proud to be with me. Wants to spend tine with.

    3. 8.3
      Lucy A

      You need to clearly state your need to see him at least once a week. First stroke him positively, “I understand you had been busy and you have a right to focus on your life, but I need to have physical contact in order to proceed with our relationship.” Look if he makes any effort. Sometimes the relationship is not a priority enough for men. Sometimes money is. He might be an unavailable man. See how he reacts to your need and move on. I would not recommend long distance relationships. To many things can get unnoticed when you do not consistently see someone in person.

  9. 9

    I have excellent taste in character. It’s why I’m surrounded by such wonderful friends. The challenge is finding someone that you have that amazing connection with like your loyal friends that you also want to have sex with oh and then also they also have to want to have sex with you.  

    Chemistry may not be they glue of a good relationship but it is the defining characteristic between a friendship and a relationship.  

    And if I’m paralyzed all except and eyelid I really hope someone has does me the curtesy of putting me out of my misery.  

    1. 9.1

      I work in healthcare. I take care of people what are unfortunately in a position of being unable to take care of themselves.   These beautiful people still have much to give.   I am very saddened by your final statement abt being “put out of your misery”. What a shallow and unfeeling statement. You may “surround” yourself with people of character, but you seem to be seriously lacking in it yourself.   

      1. 9.1.1

        Julie- She was talking for herself not others and she (like you & everyone else) have a right to her opinion. It doesn’t mean she feels others should cease existing. Some of us don’t wish for that experience in life and would rather end it.
        And you’re in healthcare NOT in the same position as the people you look after. You don’t know for sure all of their thoughts/feelings. Besides I’ve met many irresponsible people who work in the medical industry, saying that shows no authority.

        1. Lucy A

          I am with kat.

  10. 10

    Uh, Jean-Dominique Bauby was a notorious womanizer and asshole. Then he had a stroke, and couldn’t womanize anymore because he COULDN’T MOVE. And he wrote a short but compelling book. Not sure what your point is here. Date a man with locked-in syndrome?

    1. 10.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Very insightful, Kiri. That’s exactly what I was saying. Thanks for your contributions to a thoughtful discussion about what to look for in a man.

      1. 10.1.1

        Hahaha I love this reply! 😛

        1. Kevin

          I’m actually curios if Evan would really expect his wife to push him around in a wheelchair for 40 years.   Sure, maybe she has enough character to feel morally obligated.   But what kind of life is that for her?   Because if it’s another 40 years… that means she’s still fairly young, all things considered.   If it were me – the one who got hit by the bus – unless, the bus drove onto the curb, I’m assuming I wasn’t paying attention so it’s my irresponsilbity that put me in this situation.   Should my wife have to pay for that the rest of her life because she is a good woman?   I don’t think so.   And if you are an equally great guy Evan – wouldn’t you tell her to move forward and live her life?

        2. Evan Marc Katz

          Kinda focusing on the wrong thing, Kevin. It’s a figure of speech, not a blood oath.

    2. 10.2
      kimmie parker

      Kiri…that’s right what is the point.   

      1. 10.2.1

        Even if that was the reality… I don’t think a true committed person (his wife in this example) would find it a burden to be there for the one she loves… What kind of narcisistic world do we live in that such an attitude would be a burden? … Haven’t been there so can’t tell for sure but this ate my thoughts…

        1. Jess

          Exactly. my mother took care of   my father during 10 yrs of poor health and disability. Wasn’t looked at as a burden at all.

    3. 10.3

      I think his point was that with all the mutual trust and respect and love that was built over these years, Evan trusts that he had finally dated someone with character. His wife is a person who will fulfill all their oaths of marriage:   to be with each other through the good and the bad times. He is not encouraging men or women to date someone who is paralyzed. He is encouraging people to recognize the people who are selfish and take others for granted. And Jean-Dominique will be one of the people he’d strongly encourage women to stay away from. Without the mutual respect that was built beforehand I hardly think anyone would go for someone like J-D….

  11. 11

    This is probably one of my favorite posts you’ve written.   After my failed marriage I fell in love with the charming, charismatic type and it’s taken me forever to get over the subsequent (and predictable) heartbreak. Then, because I wanted a true partner and to evolve past my flawed dating patterns, I read your e-book, ordered your course for online dating and read every blog post you’d written.

    I followed your guide for writing my profile and received compliments from men all over the world- some of whom I’d never meet- saying it was one of the best profiles they’d ever seen. Several said I should charge money to write profiles for other people (haha) and one said I inspired him and put him to shame and that he was going to re-write his immediately. I enjoyed dating several different kinds of men for the first time in my life (I sort of missed out on the dating scene in my 20’s and married young) and went through one more heartbreak. Your online columns pushed me to keep opening my heart and put myself back out there.

    And now- at age 36 and a mere nine months after my first online date- I’m with a man who is crazy about me and knew very quickly that he wanted to be exclusive; a man of integrity and character; a man who I’m attracted to and have great sex with; a man who really wants to know me; a man who cheers me on in every part of my life; a man who introduced me to his family and friends; a man who loves my family and they love him; a man who integrates me into his life and loves being part of mine; a man who said “I love you,” first and speaks often of our future lives together; a man who says, “I want to help you make your dreams come true.”

    The extreme chemistry isn’t there in the same way… I don’t get giddy or sick to my stomach around him. For a while that confused me because that’s what I thought love was. But now I just know, for the first time ever, that I’m with a real partner who is going to be there for me every day- whose unfailing generosity, kindness and thoughtfulness brings me to tears. This is a man who, when he read my profile for the first time said, “Where have you been?”

    Thank you, Evan, for helping us shift the paradigm of love and dating. It’s not easy to do and takes conscious effort to break life-long personal and societal patterns but I’m another woman who can now say with confidence, gratitude and joy: IT WORKS.  

    1. 11.1

      This is a wonderful post, and Dawn your response was exactly what I needed to hear at this point in my life.   The past year (in my mid 30’s) I’ve spent doing some serious self-work.   Everything from working on my confidence, to truly understanding what it is that I want from a relationship, to learning how to be vulnerable and open with men, to learning how to give in a relationship selflessly and without expectation.   Like I said, serious self-work.   

      Simultaneously, the year started with a lightening bolt of a first date with a man (long distance) who had, from day one, never made me a priority.   But the connection, I told myself, was so rare and powerful.   Needless to say I fell, hard.   And, for the next 12 months, among all the work I was doing on myself, I was simultaneously being led on and let down by this man who had my heart in a vice grip.   

      Roughly two months ago this man let me down for the last time.   I haven’t spoken to him since and shortly after started dating a guy that is sweet, kind and affectionate who I simply enjoy being around.   like you, Dawn, the lack of intense mind numbing   chemistry has me totally confused and questioning this new guy and whether it’s right for me, am I just leading him on?   But, each moment I spend with him I like him that much more.   And it is clear from the few weeks we’ve spent together that he has the character of the man I want to have a PARTNERSHIP with.   So, long story short, reading that others have gone through this same thing is so helpful.   This whole year I have gone on more dates than in my entire adult life, learning and growing into the confident woman that I am today who can honestly say she loves herself.    And this new guy that I’m seeing was the first of all these dates where I came away knowing I wanted to see him again – and that feeling has only grown.   So, while the attraction and feelings for this guy are certainly present, it has been constant effort reminding myself that just because I haven’t fallen head over heels for him doesn’t mean I never will.   That this is the healthy way to start a relationship.   A lesson learned all too late in life after, as you have implied, all too many bad habits and expectations about what makes a good relationship have already been formed.

      thanks to both of you for sharing, it has been truly helpful.

    2. 11.2

      This brings tears to my eyes!   
      That’s wonderful  

  12. 12
    aw shucks

    Funny you should mention this movie.   A guy I dated briefly who turned out to be no good and I definitely was not a high priority actually suggested that film to me.   I watched it.   It’s a good movie.   And the guy’s still a selfish douche.   🙂

  13. 13
    Affair Survivor

    This is spot on! Character is what we should use to determine whether we trust someone or not. I wouldn’t trust a man because he is rich, charming, successful, etc. Rather, who he is deep down. Can I trust him with my feelings, my thoughts, my life, my heart? Character is what leads me to that decision. Passion and lust can easily get in the way of making that decision.
    My wonderful boyfriend and I both agree that the kindness we see in each other is far more important than anything else. Our passion hovers around a 5 on most days ans occasionally it’s a 10.5! But everyday we feel the utmost respect, admitration, love and trust for each other.

  14. 14


    THAT’s what you got from Evan’s post? You’re kidding, right???

  15. 15

    What a very timely post – it is really speaking to me LOUD and CLEAR. I have been seeing a man off and on for over 5 years. What keeps breaking us up is his lack of character; and never following through on what he says is going to happen with our future.  

    He always tries to win me back with great words, empty promises, yadda yay. He is in “trying to get me back mode” currently. One of my best friends passed away last night (44 years young with 4 children). I am devastated. I was talking to him on the phone about ‘life after death’ and just throwing things around about what thoughts I had been having since the news. I told him I was going to go take a shower and get things done today, he replied with ” would you mind taking the web cam in with you?”   SO much for caring about my feelings, where I am at, and what is important to me at the moment. SELFISH IDIOT!   NO character at all!   My response was CLICK!   BYE-BYE!   

    Some people are just so shallow, have no character, no empathy towards others. The bottom line is lack of character. I know if I was hospice, he would probably be too busy to visit me, especially if it didn’t include a booty call. Sorry, just getting rid of my stress and totally agreeing with what Evan’s article is stating.   

    1. 15.1

      “Moving On” -I hope you dumped that guy and never took him back. You deserve so much better.

  16. 16

    I really enjoyed this article.   You’re spot on in determining matching values and how character is something that can be subtly overlooked, and yet, one of the most important aspects to long-term relationships.  

  17. 18

    Interesting post. What if the woman doesn’t want a guy to dote over her like that? What if she prefers to have her own space and freedom, and to build a career?
    I’ve dated a few women like that, as have my guy friends. They say these guys are smothering them, and they want their freedom.

  18. 19

    ” There are no shortage of impressive men out there who make you tingle every time you think of them — but they’re WORTHLESS if they don’t put YOU first” the wise man said it the best ! this should be the dating rule number 1 !

    1. 19.1

      I completely agree! This post was spot on!

  19. 20

    Yes, you are correct.   I ended a relationship with a guy who was the essence of selfish on Jan 1st.   After dating a number of guys online who just didn’t have enough character I met one of the nicest guys in mid-Feb.   We’ve been dating ever since.   I’ve never had to question where I stand with him. He’s always doing little things for me and taking care of me.   He’s the best gift giver because he gives things that are exactly what I need and show that he’s paying attention.   For instance,  he got  me a second charger for my computer because I always forget to pack my charger. He didn’t have to. He could have let me get one through work or something else. And yet he saw something stressing me out and just fixed it.   He’s a keeper.

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