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


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…

Join our conversation (252 Comments).
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  1. 21

    @Dan – simple answer.   Don’t date girls like that – especially if you are looking for someone to dote on.  

  2. 22

    Evan;   You are so right!   Take away the fluff and you are left with the real men.

  3. 23
    still looking

    E @ 8
    Your boyfriend has just started a new business and at THIS moment he doesn’t have time to see you.   I don’t think this is a no-brainer situation.

    We all have periods in our life when we need to prioritize our various commitments.   Whether it is taking care of children or elderly parents, searching for a job, cramming for finals or a professional license exam, etc., there will always be the possibility in any relationship that someone cannot devote the time/energy to one person that he or she would like to.

    If a woman cancels a weekend trip with me because her child is in the hospital, I would understand.   If on occasion I have to cancel or reschedule a date because I must travel unexpectedly for work, I would hope that she understands.   If on the other hand, I decided to enroll in med school and will be under tremendous pressure and have very little free time for the next 7-10 years… well I wouldn’t be surprised if she walked away.

    Starting a new business is a tremendous undertaking and for those who want the business to succeed will need to devote themselves.   Numerous questions come to mind:
    – Will he be too busy to date for just a few weeks or a few years?
    – Can you go visit him for a few hours every weekend?
    – Are you willing to support him emotionally while he tries to get his new career on track?

    Talking over the issues and coming up with alternatives is a much better approach than taking a hard-line stance of “I must be #1 at all times.”   This is his livelihood and a little compromise from both sides might resolve all the issues.

    Best of luck.  

    1. 23.1

      Wow. Thanks, Still Looking. I just am feeling so awful because my “rebound” post-divorce relationship was with a man who in so many ways embodies that character piece, and an amazing ability to reflect, passion to grow, passionate connection and spirituality…but we met unexpectedly right after my ex left, and so the amazing connection was clouded by intense divorce stress, amidst me trying to find my identity, parent two kids, lost my job, owned a house and balancing finances … life is always challenging, but it felt I was immediately under pressure to prioritize him no matter what, and anything less was a sign I wasn’t “committed”. I began to resent feeling like I had to shelve getting my life in order so that he felt prioritized despite what seemed like valid demands that I had to deal with.

  4. 24
    Flower White

    What do I think? I think that you, Evan Marc Katz, is THE best male dating expert on the net today.

    Everything you said is true. You’re the best. That is why I put down money and bought your book WHY HE  DISAPPEARED  (under a different name, btw).  

  5. 25

    Tina @ #23

    Can relate to your position  being in the upper age range as well. I meet some nice guys with the same problem – unable to have sex due to a range of issues and/or medication. Like you, I’m not quite ready to give up on sex yet.

    I dont know what to do either.

  6. 26

    I love this! The confidence it gives you. If he doesnt make you a priority NOW, he NEVER will.  
    That should make any woman with self love delete numbers , push her shoulders back   and get BACK in the GAME!   

    1. 26.1

      Word. Now if we can just REMEMBER that.  

  7. 27

    Incredible post.   I agree with all that Evan is saying.   I do have a question to pose.   This is a little similar to @Tina post above.   Suppose you marry a very beautiful/handsome woman/man that you are completely attracted to.   This person has it all, the character and the looks.   What if this person, who was healthy and fit ballooned from 150 lbs to 400 lbs after 20 years.   Now suppose that the physical attraction is completely gone, however the character still remains.   Do you stick around?   What if there is impotence involved as in the question posed by @Tina?   Obviously you would still love this person, but don’t you have the right to desire the person you fell in love with with all the original qualities?
    I have thought about this many times and I honestly don’t know the answer.   I haven’t had to face the situation.   I just thought it would be interesting to hear some feedback.   Does character really win over anything else?  

    1. 27.1

      i thought about that matter many times myself… a person with a good character would not “give up” on him/herself to become 400 lbs from 150 lbs. at least that is what I think.

  8. 28

    Evan, you said it. I am slightly in tears because I am young and who knows how my life will turn out, but recently met a young guy who is so kind, thoughtful, sweet, honest, but I am not physically attracted to him…but his character stood out to me. When I ask him a question, he is no short of a sincere reply.  

    I dont want to rush into a relationship. I want us to be friends…for a while. But I do know that I want him. Hes a special guy. He has a kind soul, I can see it. There is no pretense in him.  

    I once heard that we should all go for that one person who makes our heart ‘smile.” I cant agree more because when I am with him, my heart is smiling. =)

    1. 28.1

      Awwww. 🙂 Yeah I agree.. the person we are with should make our heart smile & just make us feel good & appreciated.

  9. 29

    Excellent post, Evan; definitely in your top ten.

    When I have experienced the rush of mutual chemical attraction in the past, I was often so blinded by the circumstances. I wanted to believe that my intuition was so fine-tuned and developed that I “just knew” it was my excellent discernment of *Character* that attracted me to the man. Several times, I have experienced a huge blow to my ego when I found out that my intuition did not guide me well after all, and that I had been “blinded by the light” i.e. I thought I had been in the company of good character with my partner, but then found out otherwise. That is to say, in retrospect their character was not so amazing after all. So even if we prioritize “character” as the substance we want in man, and we think we find it, character truly proves itself over time. Or not.

  10. 30

    of course character matters.   The problem is it takes time to get at a man’s character. In the meantime, you are often distracted by looks, position, wooing, sincere & insincere, scheduling, etc.Then sex clouds your judgment. It (character) just isn’t apparent immediately.

    In the workplace it’s taken me several years to get a good feel for someone’s character. I decided to use as   a clue my new boyfriend’s recent promotion as a sign (one anyway) that he’s a keeper (for now).

    My ex had “character” I guess, of a sort, but not a solid kind heart   so imo you need to try to intuit both. We aren’t all born with the same amount and depth of love. That appears to be the result of divine grace.

    1. 30.1

      True and there are plenty of people capable of and willing to fake good character, even if it takes a couple years to “hook” the person they want.

  11. 31

    Of course you’re right Evan.   Chiseled good looks and a fat wallet have nothing on deep quality of character, soul.   Besides, the older I get, I’m finding that a man becomes more attractive the more he gives me his genuine attention.
    But is it really only about assessing them?   I often seem to be questioning my line between ‘I’m incredibly understanding’ and ‘I’m a doormat’.   At what point do we question our own behaviors?  

  12. 32

    @ Dan – pretty sure the post doesn’t say that the woman has to be smothered. Everyone has their own preferences and boundaries, but I think that, if you’re close enough to the woman, interested enough in her as a person, and if communication between you two is good enough, then you can figure our together where to draw the line.
    Using myself as an example, I definitely like to have my space and freedom, and to build a career (kind of have to pay those bills…) I also have family that I need to take care of, so I cannot be with a guy 24/7, and do not require that of him. At the same time, I can tell when I’m not a priority to a man, and that is precisely when he does not respect my time. When he makes weekend plans and cancels at the last minute for no reason other than he’s “not in the mood today”, that means I’m not a priority. When the only way he wants to spend time together is go to my place or his place, eat whatever’s in the fridge, and have sex, that means I am not a priority, because I don’t get to do what I enjoy on my free time – we only get to do what he wants and what takes the least effort. Bottom line, if he is wasting my time in any way, that means I’m not a priority to him. Especially if we are exclusive, because that limits the ways I can spend my time when he’s not around.
    It’s kind of like working at a job where you have to show up at the office at 8:00 every day, and will lose your job if you don’t. But, some days when you show up, the office is closed for no reason and you cannot get hold of anyone to find out what’s going on. Other days, you show up and your boss tells you to go home because he’s got no work for you today. Other days, you come in at 8:00 and sit there till 5:00 doing nothing, but you’re not allowed to leave. Some weeks you get your paycheck, other weeks you don’t, and you cannot tell in advance if you will get paid this week or not… but you’re still required to be there at 8:00 every morning. Clearly, to your employer, you are not a priority. You’re better off leaving this job before you find yourself fired from it.
    So, with your career women, I’m pretty sure that, if you make plans with them well in advance, on a regular basis, to do something together that you both like, don’t flake on them, stay in touch on a regular basis, etc. they will see that you respect their time and will appreciate it.

  13. 33

    I think this advice is really good… however I think that even when you believe you’ve chosen a man with high character – those men can still disappoint you.   My ex-fiance was supposedly the “nicest” guy around (that’s why I chose to be with him), but he ended up cheating on me horribly and leaving me for another woman.
    I would still say that he had good character – but clearly he made poor choices.   I think he suffered partly from “nice-guy syndrome” and he was really good at rationalizing his behavior.
    I still go for the “nice guys” now… I dated an Alpha Male once and good grief – there was chemistry to spare, but he was emotionally unavailable.   I couldn’t fall in love with him.   I tend to fall in love with men who “let me in”.  
    A friend of mine has this acronym she uses when judging men.   It’s called ONES.   O=Opportunity, N=Narcissism, E=Entitlement and S=Satisfaction.   So, a man with low Narcissism and Entitlement, but high Satisfaction is less likely to cheat even when there is high opportunity… and so on and so forth.
    I’ve found it interesting – not sure how accurate it is though!! 🙂

  14. 34

    That’s so true…character does count! What your saying is right because i married a man who did not put me first and at the end after 4 kids still did not put me & the kids first. Its been 3 years that he’s been gone from our lives but i’m still young and don’t want to spend my entire life alone. And I hate the dating game!

  15. 35

    I wonder how people define “making someone a priority”. The devil is always in the details. What’s “making a priority” for one person is “needy” for another. I, for one, get tired quickly of fully grown man acting like babies who need their mommy to wipe their nose when they had  a bad day or something, and then when you don’t come running and stop doing whatever it is you were doing (like working for example), you’re “not making them a priority”.  I am sure women  in general exhibit same behavior even more though.

  16. 36

    Thank you Evan!   This one really hit home for me.   I’ve wasted my youth  on the wrong men.   I’m 49 and feel like I’m just starting out sometimes.    After reading your posts, I feel so much more prepared in  finding the right person to invest in.        

  17. 37


    This is exactly what I keep telling a gay friend of mine who is in an adulterous, abusive, alcoholic relationship.   The excuses I get are, “But, but, he’s so cuuuuuuuute!   And, and we talk about alot of stuff!”   *insert huge eyeroll here*

    Indeed, character is what counts.   If I think a guy is a liar or a cheat, then he becomes ugly in my eyes, no matter what he looks like on the outside.   My ex husband was good looking but he was an abuser.   Give me a man who has integrity, and character (and boy is that tough to find here in Washington, DC, LOL).   I don’t want some empty and shallow and selfish man just because there’s sparks.  

    I just wish my friend, whom I love dearly but am beyond frustrated with right now, would get this.   And sadly I think it may ruin or end our friendship because I refuse to support adultery or an abusive relationship.

    Thank you for validating what alot of us have thought and felt….

  18. 38

    @Walt.   If it’s a marriage, you are obliged to maintain it whatever happens, certainly for Christian men (women have an opt out for cruelty) and hindus..   If it’s a “long term relationship” then you leave when it stops being entertaining or economically valuable.   If the other party has invested heavily without marriage that is their delusion.

  19. 39

    @Ashley.   Children come first.   Not you.

  20. 40

    @ Peter. This is why I would never date a man with kids.

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