I’ve always been a bit of a scrappy tomboy. I hate jewelry, nail polish and high heels. I’m perpetually converse-clad and bed-headed. I haven’t owned a TV in 7 years because TV drives me crazy, and for 6 years (but not currently) I didn’t own a car. I have an insatiable music appetite and was an arty-punk in college–living in San Francisco, getting tattoos and joining a ragtag street bicycle “gang” of mostly guys. I had a boyfriend during most of my 20’s who was in a touring band, and we broke up when it became obvious I wasn’t his priority. Three years ago I left SF for LA as some of my friends grew up and moved to the ‘burbs and others descended into neverneverland. I found a new group of friends in LA and we have blast–karaoke parties, midnight bike rides, ultimate Frisbee and goofy croquet tournaments.
Wow, writing this I must sound like some sort of teenage street urchin, but there IS more to me. I am incredibly responsible, a college graduate and professional, and I haven’t been without a job since I was 15. I work as a graphic designer for a corporation, have a 401k and a rather hefty savings account. I’ve provided for myself independently since college and have lived by myself for the past 6 years. I travel extensively, I volunteer at an animal shelter once a week, and am involved in causes. I’m cultured and well read. I am attractive, incredibly active and fit–my body’s tighter than my 25-year-old sister’s–and I don’t eat junk.
I’m not one of the girls who is desperate for a fantasy-dream-princess wedding, if a wedding at all. I just want to fall in love with a terrific lover and companion who wants to be a partner in raising children. So, how do I get there?
Do I have to completely change how I am? Change my friends? Take up golf?!? I hope the answer is “no” to all of these questions, but I know SOMETHING has to change.
I really appreciate the self-awareness in your email. In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve discovered that the less self-aware the question, the more powerful the answer — basically because I can tell the reader something she doesn’t already know. In your case, it seems you’ve thought this through considerably, and it’s harder for me to say something illuminating. But I’m sure gonna try.
I’d like you to consider a few clients that I’ve had over the years:
By restricting their tastes to a narrow slice of people, they exclude a vast majority of the eligible dating population.
- A Jewish man who wore dreadlocks and wanted to marry someone Jewish
- A man with a 170 IQ who needed a woman who could discuss his career in physics.
- A woman who had 4 dogs who wanted a man who loved animals as she did.
- A woman who was 50lbs overweight and wanted a traditionally attractive, fit man.
- An Asian man who would only date white women.
- A fiftyish woman who would only date cool, stylish, hip men with great taste in music.
- A wealthy older man who would only date women 20 years younger with no kids who’d be willing to relocate.
- A 57-year-old woman who refused to date any man older than she.
It doesn’t take a dating coach to identify that all of these intelligent, well-meaning, relationship-oriented folks might struggle to find suitable partners.
And it would be no judgment against any of them to suggest that by restricting their tastes to a narrow slice of people, they exclude a vast majority of the eligible dating population.
To parse this even further, I think we need to distinguish between two things: changing who you are vs. changing what you’re looking for.
Both are of equal importance and value when it comes to dating.
The more restrictions you put on, the harder it is to find a partner.
The woman who is 50lbs overweight and determines that she is comfortable and happy at that weight is well within her rights to draw that conclusion. She must also understand that if she’s looking for a mate, over 90% of the men adhere to the modern Western standard of beauty as seen in Maxim, Playboy or Vivid. This isn’t news, by any stretch of the imagination, but the ramifications aren’t always clear. They should be.
The more restrictions you put on, the harder it is to find a partner.
That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.
If we were to go through all of my clients above, what percentage of people are open to dating them? Let’s just do an approximation:
The percent of Jewish women who want a man with dreadlocks = the percentage of women who understand quantum physics = the percentage of men who want to have four dogs = the percentage of men who want obese women = the percentage of white women who prefer Asian men online = the percentage of fiftysomething men who are as cool as Bono = the percentage of 37-year-old women who don’t have kids, want kids and are willing to relocate = the percentage of 54-year-old men who want to date older women.
In other words, it’s slim pickings for everyone who has very definite ideas about who their partner should be. It’s not until you let go of those ideas that you find true happiness.
So how does this pertain to you, C?
Well, let’s do a little math exercise and consider:
a) How many young male artists and musicians at the early stages of their careers make for good bets as husbands and fathers?
b) How many men who make for good bets as husbands and fathers want to date a scrappy, tattooed tomboy who hates dressing in a feminine manner?
I think you’ll find that the first number hovers at less than 10% of musicians/artists and the second one can’t be much higher…
So if there are 10,000 men in a dating pool…
And 10% of them are creative types…that’s 1000 men.
Among that 1000, let’s say 10% of those young artists are successful and financially stable. That’s 100 men.
Among that 100, let’s say 10% of them are emotionally available and ready for marriage despite their shaky careers. That’s 10 men.
Among that 10, we haven’t even factored in whether they’re tall, cute, smart, funny, sane, cool, or have drinking/drugs/anger management problems…
The point is that you are perfectly valid in saying “this is who I am, this is what I want.”
But if you won’t change who you are, nor compromise what you’re looking for, it seems readily apparent that the pool of interested eligible men is, to say the least, small.
It sounds like you’re a grown-up, C, who likes hanging out with people who aren’t grown ups. That’s going to come back to bite you.
So I’m going to make a recommendation to you — one that might surprise a woman as smart and open-minded as you.
Stop judging everyone who is not a struggling artist with a bicycle and an iMac as being “wrong” for you.
Let go of the picture you had of your ideal guy and start experimenting with a new way of viewing dating.
Men who like football can be creative.
Men who watch television can be interesting.
Men with conventional careers can have karaoke parties.
Thus, your preconceptions are the big thing getting in the way of your own success. The idea that you need to have a person who is your clone, but male, is a fallacy.
You just need a guy who loves you and wants the same things in life. And your odds increase dramatically if you both open up to more men and appeal to more men.
I told the dreadlocks guy to cut his hair.
I told the older woman that there were older men who were in shape, too.
I told the physicist to get off his high horse and appreciate the virtues of smart, if not brilliant, women.
And I’m going to tell you to let go of the picture you had of your ideal guy and start experimenting with a new way of viewing dating.
Maybe it means dating on Nerve.com to find some urban hipsters. Maybe it means dating a divorced guy with a kid because he knows the importance of family. Maybe it means retiring the Converse when you’re on a date and leaving them for Saturday afternoons.
But you have enough going for you that I’m confident that you will find your prince.
Just make sure he picks you up in a car instead of on a bike, okay?
If you struggle with the same issues as today’s letter-writer, please https://www.evanmarckatz.com/coaching/ to learn how I can help you separate what you should and should not compromise on in a partner. I promise, you will never have to SETTLE on a relationship again…