The REAL Reason You’re Still Single

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There are two big problems in dating.

1) You don’t want the people who want you.
2) The people you want don’t want you in return.

Now, take a look at those two problems; which one do you think you can change?

Most of us take the futile route of trying to change the second one – “How do I MAKE him like me?” “I’m exactly what he’s looking for!” “He doesn’t know what’s good for him.” But, as we’ve established a few hundred times on this blog, you can’t change anyone else’s thinking.

What you can change is YOU.

To be fair, it’s possible to “make” someone like you by becoming a more desirable catch – there’s no doubt that a man who earns more money, gains more confidence, and gets more experience will have a more positive dating life. But he’s not actually CHANGING women. He’s only changing himself.

But increasing your dating options can be a risky proposition, at best. Men can’t always make more money. Women can’t always lose weight. And as easy as it is to talk about gaining confidence and experience, most folks would rather sit on the sidelines and complain that the people you want don’t want you in return.

This is a waste of time.

In fact, the easiest remedy for an ailing love life is to want the people who want you.

In fact, the easiest remedy for an ailing love life is to  want the people who want you.

It is anathema to suggest this, of course. Any conversation about opening up to more potential prospects leads us down the slippery slope to settling. And as the furor about Lori Gottlieb’s Marry Him proved, nothing pisses women off more than the suggestion that they may be somewhat responsible for being single.

But, to be crystal clear, it’s not just women.

There are tons of 38-year-old male Ivy-League educated lawyers who just can’t find a single woman good enough for him. These guys, who are, like me, probably 7’s in looks and 9’s in intelligence, just can’t help but to go for women who are 9’s in looks, but 5’s in emotional intelligence/compatibility.

One of the things that I’ve often thought is that none of these men would marry someone like my wife, even though my wife is – objectively – just about the coolest woman on the planet. They’d have the same objections I did: a little too old, not a Harvard grad, blahblahblah.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that I made a CHOICE to find an amazing partner and create an amazing life – and all I had to do was give up that IMAGE that I’d had of dating a woman who was Just. Like. Me.

If you’re single, and never find anybody “good enough,” chances are that you do the exact same thing.

Today, I’m calling you out.

Because if you’ve been dating this way for 5, 10 or 20 years, there’s something that you’re not seeing.

And that something is this:

If a 42-year-old man says that he’s ONLY attracted to 9’s and 10’s who are in their late 20’s, that’s fabulous. But if NONE of the 9’s and 10’s he covets are interested in him in return, it only makes sense that this man needs to recalibrate his dating options. 6’s and 7’s are readily interested in him, but he doesn’t find them attractive enough. Without knowing this man, I think it would be clear that he’s overestimating himself. If he can get only 6s and 7’s in looks, he’s probably a 6 or a 7 in looks himself. Therefore, if he ever wants to get married, it would probably make sense to start appreciating the 6s and 7’s and choose the one that he’s most attracted to, who shares the same values and can be his best friend for life.

I’d think it would be hard to argue with that logic.

So should it be any more controversial if we flip the genders around?

If you think you “deserve” a certain kind of partner … and yet you’ve NEVER gotten him, you need to start considering another kind of partner.

If the 38-year-old woman MBA who owns her own condo, runs marathons, and can complete the Sunday New York Times crossword only likes 9’s and 10’s… but those same men always a) prefer younger women or b) ultimately break her heart because they’re egotistical, selfish narcissists who only want younger women and aren’t ready to settle down… should she keep holding out for them? Wouldn’t it make much more sense to marry one of the devoted 7’s who think she’s the bee’s knees?

Apparently not.

Because that would be settling.

And settling is bad.

Therefore, all of these amazing men and women remain single indefinitely. Because They. Will. Not. Settle.

They would rather tilt at windmills, trying to acquire a partner who DOESN’T want them, instead of realizing that the BEST partner for them is the one who WANTS them and VALUES them and thinks THEY are a catch.

And the culprit in all this? Our unrealistic expectations – of how we see ourselves – and of what we expect of our partners.

If you price a candy bar at $100 and there are no buyers, you need to lower the price of the candy bar.

If you think you “deserve” a certain kind of partner – not just someone who is rich, hot, and brilliant, but a rich, hot, brilliant partner who STICKS AROUND – and yet you’ve NEVER gotten him, you need to start considering another kind of partner.

The key is in letting go of the image you’ve been holding onto. Because real relationships aren’t about credentials; they’re about connection. And I truly believe there are thousands of people you can potentially be happy with… if only you didn’t have such a rigid idea of what it looked like.

Last night, I was coaching a favorite client, Katie, who is part of  Love U.

Katie is 58 and never married. Of course. She never wanted to settle.

After rebranding her on Match.com, she’s getting a ton of attention and is being chased down by two men simultaneously.

Tom is the brainy, charismatic one who talks about himself incessantly, sends template emails, and hasn’t followed up in a week.

Bill is a fun guy, makes her laugh, is a great kisser, and has followed up for four dates in two weeks.

Katie wanted to know how to make Tom like her and how to get rid of Bill. When we dug deeper, I learned that she was embarrassed at the thought of introducing her friends to Bob because he wasn’t as “sophisticated” as her other tony Connecticut friends.

I asked Katie, point-blank: Are you attracted to Bill? “Yes”

Real relationships aren’t about credentials; they’re about connection.

Do you have fun around Bill? “Oh, yes!”

Is he consistently good to you? “Absolutely. He’s crazy about me.”

So why are you trying so hard to run away? Because of what your friends think? Because Bill’s not what you’ve pictured in your head for 58 YEARS?

“Yeah, kind of.”

I’m delighted to report that Katie is going out with Bill again. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she “settled” her way into an amazing relationship.

By thinking you’re “better” than everyone who wants you, you’re eliminating the greatest source of love around – the person who wants you! And you may be surprised to find that you can be EXTREMELY happy with someone who doesn’t meet your preconceived image of your ideal mate.

I certainly have been.

Did you find this post thought-provoking? Challenging? Insightful? Then be sure to check out my eBook, “Why He Disappeared – the Smart, Strong, Successful Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men and Keeping the Right One Hooked Forever“.

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Comments:

  1. 41
    Ruby

    What ever happened to a mutual relationship, to liking someone who also likes you back? I realize it’s not easy to find that, but isn’t that the crux of it? Why all this talk of settling, sucking it up, listing your faults like you’re defective? Hey, she’s a 58 year old single gal who thought she was too good? Cut the woman some bloody slack already! Kudos to her for getting out there and navigating through all the 58 year old men who think she’s too old for them.  
      
    If one is going to list 20 faults, one should also list 20 reasons why one IS a great catch. This isn’t a question of ego or entitlement; we women struggle enough in this culture wondering if we’re pretty enough, thin enough, young enough, good enough. Most women I know don’t have a surplus of ego, rather we have to work harder to boost ourselves up. It seems to me that many more men are the ones with the sense of entitlement. How many balding, paunchy middle-aged guys think they deserve a hot young chick? Do I think I deserve an Ashton Kutchar? No, I’d be perfectly happy with a funny, bright, halfway-decent-looking, creative guy in my own age range who doesn’t think he’s the sh-t.

  2. 42
    JuJu

    Bill, #31:
      
    With my ex-husband the two primary things I compromised on were looks and ambition. He was otherwise a great person – the kind of man who’d always be faithful, devoted, and madly in love [with me].
      
    Only the lack of attraction on my part eventually resulted in my not wanting sex with him anymore (and I saw no light at the end of that tunnel – how do you overcome something like this?), and the total absence of ambition, I guess, affected my overall perception of him as a man. I could not respect it, and couldn’t help the feeling that I was wasting my life with him.
      
    So, yeah, he was a highly sophisticated and intellectual person (a non-negotiable for me), very much in love with me, etc., etc., and it still wasn’t enough. I notice this with other people, too, that some “superficial” traits they didn’t deem all that important initially, suddenly became of supreme importance after a bad relationship experience.

  3. 43
    Cat

    #41 – Veronika, I’m sorry my post made you feel bad! I was just responding to the tone of your comment. There’s no reason for you to beat yourself up over a guy who chose someone else. Just find someone who chooses you!

  4. 44
    Ruby

    Jane #29
      
    “Start focusing on kindness, compassion and tolerance as criteria for evaluating men…a 47 year old man would treat me exceptionally well- attentive, kind, generous- all those great traits that should make him   a keeper. HOWEVER, that same guy might not treat a 45 year old woman with the same kind of respect. ”

    Shouldn’t a “kind, compassionate and tolerant” man treat everyone with respect? Whether he’s attracted to a woman or not?

  5. 45
    A-L

    RE: Juju’s #40 “A-L #33: why is being multiracial — a “fault”?”
      
    Being multiracial is not a fault.   But I guess I was answering for why a guy might not want to date/marry me.   As discussed in the race thread, lots of guys will put caucasians only.   Or anything but black.   And there are lots of black guys who will put black only or anything but white.   As someone who’s half black and half white this was a definite issue, as there weren’t all that many people who would check “any” on the race box.

  6. 46
    JBL

    In Response to Karrie(#17)

    I agree, men just don’t care about success in a partner as much as women. If a girl is a 9 in looks, fun to be around, and relatively low maitenance, she will have her pick of the litter, even if she works at starbucks.
    Guys have to deal with way more dealbreakers(height, success, intelligence, balding issues) that women don’t even need to worry about.   Therefore if a guy has high marks across the board he will look for the creme of the crop. Why shouldn’t he, if he’s in the top 5-10% of guys?

    Really dating guys who are 8’s even if you are considered an 8.5 isn’t such a big deal is it?

  7. 47
    Honey

    My boyfriend scores in the bottom 5% of the population for tolerance of others.   He also scores in the top 2% for intelligence.   It makes him VERY hard to get along with – he has absolutely no respect for anyone who disagrees with him about anything and holds grudges for WEEKS anytime he has to compromise even slightly (and the time he will hold a grudge goes up exponentially the more he has to compromise – he  is 31  still doesn’t talk to his parents because he’s holding grudges regarding how he was raised).

    His dad is on the autism spectrum and he displays a lot of the same characteristics, plus high blood pressure and heart disease run in his family  – given his psychological proclivities, the stress of significant compromise is physiologically beyond him.   So, for him, compromising on his “must-have” criteria wasn’t really a possibility, which (ironically)  is one of the reasons we get along so well.   We agree on all the dealbreakers  and he’s a generous, insightful companion who is not too humble to admit when he’s wrong – once he calms down.   He fully admits that he’s a lot harder to get along with than me and it’s part of the reason he treats me like gold.   No one else will put up with him!

  8. 48
    Honey

    While I have a lot of faults, my two biggest are 1) I am a complete intellectual snob, and 2) it’s very hard for me to refrain from imposing control on almost everything I encounter.   Fortunately, Jake is smart enough to challenge me and free-willed enough to teach me some important lessons about controlling others.   I’m finally starting to realize that there are more enjoyable things upon which I can expend my mental and emotional energies and am a happier person for it.

  9. 49
    Goldie

    @ Kat #36
      
    “And Goldie, I disagree – men don’t get intimidated by smart successful women who are giving him what he needs. Think about it.”
      
    When I think about it, and add my own experience and my friends’ experience into the equation, as well as some of the things I’ve read on this blog, here’s what I see… deep down, most men do, in fact, want to be in a provider role, more or less; most women are, in fact, attracted to a nurturer role, more or less. Which is why, as a general rule, it is easy for a man to date down in intelligence, but not looks; vice versa for a woman. In a relationship where the woman is way above the man intellectually/socially, the only reason she can give him what he needs is by dumbing herself down and by downplaying her social/professional status when he’s around. How long will she be able to keep this up? How long till the man realizes what’s going on? I guarantee you he’s not going to like it.
      
    @ Evan #25 – wow my hands are shaking – am I about to disagree with the site owner? First of all, re: “things you never said” – maybe you didn’t mean any of the things you listed here, but I’ve seen you make statements on this site that can be construed in exactly that way. The title of this post is one example. “Why are you still single?” I almost expect the next sentence to be: quick, run out and find someone so you’re not 🙂
      
    I agree with most of the rest of your post. Everyone in a great relationship compromises. Unfortunately, so do people in bad relationships. I think the difference between the two might be that, one, in a great relationship, compromise is mutual. Two, in a great relationship, people do not compromise on what’s really important to them. I’ll offer that we women are trained to compromise, share and give things up in favor of others since our early childhood. It’s when we try and compromise on the wrong things that bad relationships are born.
      
    It is, IMO, up to everyone to come up with their own list of what is important to them personally and what isn’t. The list will be different for everyone. I agree that this list will depend upon what we ourselves have to offer, as well as upon where we ourselves fall short. (Though IMO, our shortcomings are subjective. What seems a fatal flaw to one person, may be a non-issue to another and a major selling point to yet another.) I am still working on mine.
      
    @ Karl #39
      
    “If you don’t consider intelligence to be a compromise issue, that’s fine. I just wanted to point out that the people who are distinctly more intelligent than you are constantly  forced into compromising on the issue … if only to have some dating options.”
    Good. Maybe one of these people will settle for me 🙂 Seriously though, it’s like I said above. I think it’s more of a challenge for a woman to date down intellectually than it is for a man. When a woman looks up to her man intellectually, that’s a natural order of things. When a man looks up to his woman and feels he cannot measure up, his dignity suffers.
      
    Thanks everyone for taking your time replying to me, and for your patience. I’m still very new to this.

  10. 50
    Bill

    I couldn’t read all the comments. Spend less time figuring out what the problem spend more time accepting people for who they are because they have to accept you for who you are. Apparently for most of the people where the biggest issues for the opposite sex is understanding that you guys don’t spend every waking moment  complaining  and always looking for the negative. Instead of the most important thing understanding people and relating to them.

  11. 51
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Goldie: “When a woman looks up to her man intellectually, that’s a natural order of things.”

    A) I disagree.
    B) If I said this, I would be tarred and feathered.

    Thanks for reading and contributing.

    Evan

  12. 52
    Selena

    Goldie: “When a woman looks up to her man intellectually, that’s a natural order of things.”

    Ugh. That was painful to even read.   And it’s a good thing I never heard that, let alone internalized it, or I would never have had a romantic relationship.

    Luckily, the way I measure an intellectual equal is by how much we enjoy conversing and sharing ideas with each other. In that, I’ve been successful. 🙂

  13. 53
    Goldie

    @ Evan, Selena
      
    Point taken. That was bad wording on my part. I shudder to think of the feedback I’m going to get tonight on this thread. Oh well, I deserve it.
      
    That said, since it isn’t really possible to find your exact intellectual  equal, IMO you end up dating either up or down in that regard. For whatever reason, for the first case (the man being the higher intelligent of the couple), I’ve seen dozens of great relationships/marriages that work. For the second case, none. I do not have a scientific explanation as to why.

  14. 54
    Evan Marc Katz

    Perhaps it’s because the woman in the 98th percent of intelligence has no one left to date because she needs to date “up”.

  15. 55
    Goldie

    Thanks Evan for your concern, but, for one thing, my 4-6 weeks on the market have been good to me so far 🙂 I’m on this site reading how it’s done – I just got out of a 22 year relationship and know nothing about how dating works. (I’ve learned a lot so far, thank you.) Of course, five years down the road I may sing a different song, at which point I’ll save up and email you asking to be your client – you never know!
      
    And for another thing, I think the whole IQ/Mensa/two percent thing is extremely overrated. IQ tests measure but a small portion of one’s intelligence. I would never in my life dare say that there are only two percent of world’s population that are above me intellectually. I’ve been around too many highly intelligent people to know better – I don’t know their IQ and I don’t want to know – it’s irrelevant.

  16. 56
    Jane

    For JuJu #40: 2.  Though I am impeccably and stylishly dressed and have a fantastic body and a pretty enough face,  my “look” may not be for all me.
    Should Read: My “look” may not be for all men.
    I look a certain type: Intellectual, reserved, cool.
    I am actually: very intelligent, yes, but funny and warm. I am very affectionate and like sex a lot more than men think.
    Even though men often say they like my personality ( best thing about me, they say), many of the guys that I have been with have almost all dumped me for the cute “bunny” warm sweet type in appearance. Even if these woman were not as interesting and maybe not as warm.
    Evan’s site gives very good advice, but in all honesty. Men are still about looks FIRST. If you meet the bar, THEN it will be about feeling.
    I wonder what his stats are regarding the success rate with his clients. How many marriages?    Are all your clients a certain type of woman: past her prime and too late to date up, so therefore she must compromise? Most people end up getting married without the help of a dating coach, so I can imagine that those who would pay for these kinds of services are a particularly different, difficult breed.
    Oh, I better shut up. sounding bitter, bitter.

  17. 57
    Goldie

    I don’t believe in IQ as sole criteria of intelligence, and as such do not place myself in the “98th percent”.
      
    Thanks again for listening.

  18. 58
    Goldie

    Evan, my apologies for dup post – I thought my #55 had been deleted, so added #57 instead – please feel free to remove either one or both, and of course this one as well. Thanks and sorry for the inconvenience.

  19. 59
    Christie Hartman

    Evan, dude, you really hit the nail on the head with this one, for both the women and the men. In my latest book I discuss the difference between being PICKY (focusing on looks, height, status, and other stuff that won’t make you happy) and being DISCRIMINATING (focusing on values, general attractiveness, and how a person treats you and makes you FEEL). If you want to find Mr. or Mrs. Right, be less picky and more discriminating. You can’t find love if you’re dating with your ego!

  20. 60
    sayanta

    Wow…going to that whole faults list- I’m not even going to try, because I’d be too depressed.

    My biggest fault is my financial/employment situation- I may be a professional, but I got laid off three times (funding cuts) in my twenties, have been doing contract work for the past three years, and as a result of this mess, am still living with my family. Try saying that to a potential date!

    So- I actually have to do the opposite: tell myself 20 good things about my personality/character, etc. because otherwise, I keep thinking to myself, “I’ve got nothing to offer a guy.”

    Not to sound high and mighty, as in “oh, my problems are worse than everyone else’s”-   (they’re not, as I’m aware I do have the luxury of having parents who are very supportive of me at this time)- but seriously, being “partially” employed, living at home at 31 even though I have a law degree, is brutal. Add to that the fact I’m Jersey and most men in my age range are in NYC or Philly (and probably not willing to head into Jersey).

    I know…most people are probably saying- why even think of dating? Focus on your employment situation. Trust me, I know. If I was 27 or 28, I wouldn’t even think of men (not that much, anyway), but at 31 (32 next month!), I’m at that age where it’s going to get harder, not easier. Plus I had a coupon for Match.

    Seriously though- the market is tough tough tough now. I know this is temporary, but it’s already been a few years.

    But the other question is- what does that mean I’m worth, regarding men? 65 year old guys with grandkids? Fourth grade dropouts?

    I mean…I understand what EMK is saying, but really thinking about your faults a lot can eventually make you think you’re worth nothing (or no one).

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