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 (243 Comments).
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  1. 121


    You are 100% right, in materialistic world we all forget the real values of a person. The thing which keeps you going is not the charming qualities but the real person. Also, as per my experience, if he does not keep you first he is never gonna keep you first. 

  2. 122

    Im glad for your blog.  It’s really hard sometimes when you love someone.  You sick around, hoping that he will change.. I was never a priority.  Reading this has helped with the answer I was looking for.  Now the hard part is letting go for good..

  3. 123

    Great article. I’m guilty of loving a narcissist. What he did, almost killed me. Recently, I found he married a 20 yr old girl (he is 40), in a lavish wedding after being with her only a year. I (also 40), was with him for years when he didn’t have two nickels to run together.  

     The signs were there, the red flags and the behaviors. I have been heartbroken, but what I need to do is look at my own flaws. Why did I allow a man to treat me like trash, disposable and worthless. Why did I not see my own worth yet looked to him to do that and why am I still upset at the loss of a relationship that obviously was unhealthy and one sided? These are tough questions I’m trying to answer.

    One things for sure…this lady will never repeat that pattern again. It just about killed me and no man or person is worth giving away your self respect 

    1. 123.1

      And yet all I here from many women on here is how they must find a man near their own age.  It’s just one more thing that is BS.  If only I can find a man that has this quality, or that quality, or this other quality, I will be happy forever.  Instead of marrying stats, we should marry a person.  I wouldn’t beat yourself up too much.  Likely, he wasn’t that way in the beginning, unless he was a bad boy and you were too enthralled with him to notice how he really was.   It seems we are all damned if we do and damned if we don’t.  Or maybe we just convince ourselves that this is the case.  Everyone chases after the absolute best that they can get, and yet, especially for women, doing so drastically increases the chance that they will treat us badly at some point.  To me, it seems that the key is not to find somebody to cherish, but find somebody that cherishes us…in a healthy manner, not a freaky stalkerish manner.  LOL

  4. 124
    Just me

    Thank you for your post!  Character is everything!   Just realized that I’ve wasted 4 years of my life on a man who will never put me first

  5. 125

    Yes You are absolutely right when u say if a man doesnt put you first then hes not the right one.

  6. 126

    True.  Thank you.

  7. 127

    Oh boy. I think with my last relationship I have become an expert. In my fury towards this selfish man I told him he had a weak character. He didn’t have the gusto to tell me he couldn’t make it to something that was very important to me. He was always demanding from me emotionally, and it was a very one sided relationship. He would swoop in and talk about himself for hours and leave. Expected me to pay for everything and care for him like a child. I’m angry at myself for getting emotionally attached to someone like this. I was confused about my strong feelings for him and I actually begged him to take me back, to try again. He reacted with nastiness, even after I said I was in pain. He often reacted to my emotional needs as though I was strange or being a pain in the butt. He could be upset and I was there, I was upset and he wasn’t there. I would have to agree that character makes all the difference. Just an ounce of consideration goes a long way, and I think that if I look for consideration and empathy in the next man I date, he’s probably a stand up guy and totally worth it. Selfishness in my relationships always makes me insane, with both men and women. It’s funny, I ‘went crazy’ on him, but from the sound of it he’s had plenty of women who have ‘gone crazy’ on him. It’s a new day today, I’m going to find a good man who brings out my best qualities, and I do believe that will have to be a man with good character.

  8. 128

    Thank you very much for that inspiring post, I am in the same situation where I have been in a circle for 4 years with a guy I was so crazy about, we had excellent chemistry although, nothing more than that.
    He never put me first, he was chauvinistic and egocentric, he eventually after 4 and a half years just turned around and said to me ” My friends at work said I should cheat on you and not spend a dime on you, I should rather invest in a sports car and have a different flavour everyday of the week”  I was so hurt, he had no idea what that did to me, I suffered greatly because of him and his anger issues, and just like that. 
    so in regards to your post, well said! I am proud to say that I have seen a man with reason on the internet, and where I thought hope was lost, I giggle to the thought of light still being present in this world, Thank you very much!  

    1. 128.1

      Sorry you went through that.  His behavior says nothing about you and everything about him.  

  9. 129

    Many thank Evan! calming down after I read it! trying to avoid to take a revenge on a man who was taken and lying anout that! Trying to forget, but even after I blocked him everywhere I can not block my thoughts..(

  10. 130

    Thank you, Evan! Reading this was quite a relief. Though, I’m still stuck being with a man who, I must say, prioritize me. But we are not in a relationship, so I still could not quite pride myself with him making me feel so prioritized. Character is there and not there. Always half hearted, which probably links to why he can’t commit. We’ve tried to slip off each other over and over, I guess. Yet, still finds ourselves together. Btw, if it’s lust that pops in your head. I am honestly telling you it is a big NO. So, yeah. I just kinda don’t know where else to stand. I just feel so fucked up stuck with our unknown connection.

  11. 131

    Something really funny I used to do before meeting my actual boyfriend, was to close my eyes, if I still liked the guy with my eyes closed, then I had something, if I closed my eyes and suddenly he wasn’t that charming anymore then it was a waste of time… and as weird as it may sound it actually worked out cause he has been my best more serious relationship I’ve ever had, and we want to get married:) and I learned to fall in love with him by looking his inside♥

  12. 132

    Nice piece! Have been dating a guy for 2 weeks then realized he seems quite selfish in romance. Was thinking if I should give him more time…now here is the answer! Seems to be time to ease out~

  13. 133
    Neha P

    Dear Evan,
    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post. I was indeed attracted to a good-looking but narcissistic charmer in the last year but quickly came to know how shallow he is. I am currently witnessing that other breed of men, the ones with character and have now realised the worth of character over charm

  14. 134

    He’s always been busy from day one but he would always make time…but lately he’s been very busy and we saw each other Monday after two weeks of not seeing each other for two weeks. I’m feeling that maybe I’m wasting my time.

  15. 135

    Evan…this is my favorite post by you so far

    .  Thank you for reminding us to pay attention in interacting with people.  I am finding that it takes time for the real makeup of a person to be revealed.  We are dazzled by so much superficiality, and so many people “talk” a good game, or are chameleons.  

    And to  [email protected], a woman of character would not view assisting her husband by pushing a wheelchair as a duty, holding her back from her life.  She would see it as an opportunity to show him her love.  It would be her privilege.

     Glad you found, and had the wisdom to keep, such a phenomenal woman Evan!! 

  16. 136

    Completely agree Evan!! If they don’t put you first and really pay attention to the real you in the beginning they never will. Love your simple, rational advice. In the end even if I never find the amazing man, I will preserve my sanity during the dating process and truly love and respect myself. Thank you!!! 

  17. 137

    Evan. .. you are absolutely right!  
    Very good article! !

    Thank you,


  18. 138

    It depends, nobody can show u his inner self unless he trust u …. So dont judge anyone, we all have our reasons, so sometimes u cannot simply prioritize the other could happen once theres trust , imagine u prioritize ur partner and then brokin up happens, so it will be like zero in work, zero socially …. But instead u did give someone importance and it never work out, so prioritize come after marriage (for me) … What come before is respect, love at average level, sweet moments, romantic days, feel ….. So its not abt woman or man … Its abt added value who can each one to each other …. And abt character lol … When u meet someone, u dont meet him and u say we are z same 100% we can go like we are now without changing …. Nobody is z same … So character adapt with z other and each relation give him a stone in his character building …. When u love u change for z sake of the relation ….. Love is everythin 🙂 … In the end we all have pur probs, so dont judge anyone even whom he’s betrayin his wife , maybe his wife is cold , doesnt have to be he’s wrong …. Simply dont judge, everyone is unique

  19. 139
    Jen E

    This goes deep and is right on point. Thank you. Since my break up, I’ve been diving into introspection everyday after relalizing that I’m still figuring out who I am.

  20. 140

    OMG this is soo true

  21. 141

    Sometimes you know you are going wrong but don’t wanna believe it. I have been going crazy about this guy but it’s useless to love someone that you loose yourself in the process. I just loved what you said. Now I know how I want my life to be. Thanks !

  22. 142

    My break up was about a week ago, it’s. Funny, because it describes why my ex is the perfect man, yet he said he felt confused and wanted to date other people, left me really sad, but he started to treat me like an option 6 months leading up to the break up ( we were together for 5 years) both each others first love and brk up, I think he’s already seeing someone, he moved on pretty fast…

  23. 143
    Tammy kilcrease

    This has been great eye opening advice..thanks so much

  24. 144

    But then what about all those lads with the” good character” that are full of empty promises at least the bold boys keep it real! ???

  25. 145

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

  26. 146

    Yes i think character really is the difference in a relationship. Looks fade with time you want someone who will not only be there in the good but in the bad as well. You need someone who will cry with you, will laugh with you, sharing deeper thoughts and feelings with …knowing that as time goes by you will love each other deeply and when time has left its mark you and your spouse will still love each other unconditionally kissing each wrinkle on their face and never letting love fade loving each other unconditionally.

  27. 147

    I have always tried to look for the positives and made excuses for him. I am exhausted from trying to support someone who isn’t there for me. I was sad when I read your comments because they are so true. I had an idea in my head of all the potential and great things we could be but it isn’t reality and he doesn’t choose to be that person with me, I am bottom of his list.

    1. 147.1

      next time, find somebody who does put you at the top of his list.  This may mean giving a man a shot, who you previously may have turned your nose up to.  When you do this, treat him as well as you would treat a man you might consider in or above your league.  In other words, if you find a man who puts you at the top of his list, do the same for him.  As time passes, your love will grow deep roots.

  28. 148

    “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.”

    This helps a lot. Thank you!

    I met this wonderful guy and everything was going great for 5 months. Then he said he is going to introduce me to his family. But didn’t! He said it again, and again didn’t do it!

    Now, I question his behavior and I am losing trust in him. He did not do what he said and he did not put me first. Instead, he made me question myself and question whether he would ever actually step up and take our relationship forward.

    It is not over yet between us. But I am sure I will soon end it if he does not step it up.

  29. 149
    Clear headed

    This really is perfectly timed for me as I am going through this exact struggle right now.  I was with a man who never made me a priority, but I was very attracted to him and we had phenomenal sexual chemistry. After a difficult situation where he really did show me that I could not rely on him at all,  I finally said enough is enough and started dated another man who I am currently dating.  He is great in a lot of ways, but lacking in others which was causing me to ponder,  should I just throw in the towel here too, maybe even go back to my ex?

    I really needed to read this article today to remind me of the traits I should be valuing, to know that I should give my current relationship another shot. The man I’m with now does have a heart of gold and he is someone I know I could genuinely trust. The rest we can work on.  Thanks,  Evan for being the voice of reason.

  30. 150

    Having just dated the same wrong man, the same one!, Again!, believing lies, your views ring true. Which isn’t so great.  The landscape is bleak, mainly because women really are the better half of the species.  It’s unfortunate men are so slimy.

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