The REAL Reason You’re Still Single

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, 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“.

Join our conversation (304 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 91

    Isn’t the essence of romantic love, attraction? How do I make myself want to be with someone who I am not physically attracted to?

  2. 92

    #89, Sam P.-

    Well, to be honest, I have had guys from NYC, and Connecticut even! come out to see me on the first date- but it just didn’t work out. I’m really going by what I see on the profile- most of them write “w/in 15 miles radius.

    To quote Bill C, I feel your pain. But honestly, I can’t blame guys for not wanting to trek out to Jerz to see some girl they don’t know very well- so it’s not that I’m mad at them for wanting that. It’s just this situation that I’m in (read above posts) that’s frustrating, considering- numbers wise- there are just more men living near and around NYC and Philly. I’m aiming to move to (or at least closer to) either of those places in 6 months- so got a lot of planning to do! In the meantime, I guess I’ve just got to take it easy with the dating part. I mean, it’s either that or go crazy, right? 😉

    Not that I really understand the whole online dating process- my profile has been viewed 1200 times in the past week- and some of the same men keep viewing! But no wink or e-mail…anyway, I’m taking the A-L/Karl/Selena/Diana view here…really just chilling and focusing on my ‘issues’ LOL so I can feel better about the situation.

  3. 93

    I think this definitely used to be true for me, I used “high ideals” as a way to avoid the risk of dating. In the last two years I have changed my attitude about this and dating has been a lot easier. However, the two guys who have wanted me were a guy who turned out to be an alcoholic hiding two DUIs and a verbally abusive guy. I think I’ll experience better luck eventually, but being with either of these guys would have been settling into a really unhealthy situation.

  4. 94
    Karl R

    Nancy, (#91)
    There’s a difference between dating someone who you find unattractive vs. dating someone who isn’t quite as handsome as other men you’ve dated.

    Beyond that, it is possible to expand the pool of people you find attractive. Do you focus on the person’s best features, or do you focus on their flaws? With one girlfriend, I could have focused on her too-small hips and too-strong jaw. I chose instead to focus on her flawless skin, great legs and totally ripped abs.

    You probably won’t be able to shift that mindset overnight, but you can change it with practice over time.

  5. 95

    How about this? I am divorced after a lonnnng marriage. I receive in alimony more money than most guys make in three years combined. I am accustomed to a certain lifestyle and if I marry again, my alimony goes poof. It may sound shallow, but it is very hard for me to look at online profiles of men who are making a fraction of what I am getting from my ex. If I choose to eliminate income minimum from my requirements then I will be sacrificing a lot monetarily.   Is it worth it? IDK. It has been my experience that the more men earn the more they cheat and the more entitled they feel.

    1. 95.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Nancy: You’re complaining about sacrificing monetarily because you make more money…yet isn’t that what any man who makes more money than you has to do as well? Great double standard!

  6. 96

    #96, EMK-

    Well, she’s not really “making” money- she’s getting it from her ex.

  7. 97

    @#95 Nancy

    Do you want to marry again? Feel you should?

    In your position I’d consider the alimony as my pension for all the years I put into marriage. I think I’d be reluctant to give up that pension to be married to someone else, so why not live with a future partner without a license?

    But aren’t you putting the cart before the horse anyway? If you fall in love, THEN you would be in the position of deciding whether marriage was worth giving up your alimony for. Got to meet the guy first.

    Also, if experience has taught you the more men earn the more they cheat and the more entitled they feel…wouldn’t those men who make  less than your income hold more appeal for you? I’m having a hard time seeing the downside here. 🙂

  8. 98

    #94, Karl R – This is exactly the point I was trying to make! Thank you for making it so succintly and clearly. I don’t think anyone should be with someone that they can’t stand to look at, kiss, or have sex with. Attraction is a huge part of a healthy relationship, in my opinion. I think it’s just about stepping out of comfort zones and seeing what else is out there.

  9. 99

    This is an answer to Evan’s earlier challenge-  what would make someone desirable not want to be with me?
    Simply put,  I think- no,  I know-  I put out signals for men to stay away.  And they do.  I was really hurt by someone 2 years ago,  and I just can’t seem to let it go.  I know the only one I am hurting is me.
    I even talked to you on the phone, Evan,  about coaching.  I remember it was all I could do to keep from crying uncontrollably during the conversation.  You were so kind.
    I just don’t know if I have it in me to really be close to someone.  Am I lonely, yes,  do I want someone in my life, yes.  But…  I am totally exhausted.  And I’m not even dating.
    Bleh.  I think there is something seriously wrong with me.  Another reason someone might not think I’m desirable.  Ha.

  10. 100

    Evan, I am not making money, so it is not the same as a man who is earning a higher income. Marrying me won’t make his money stop coming in as marrying anyone, for me, ends my alimony.
    #98 If I live with someone that also would effectively end my support.
    The scary thing is, Evan, if I do fall in love with a man of any means, marry him, and somehow it doesn’t work out, I lose all financial security for when I am old.
    I can stay single, but I do long for a relationship where we live together.

  11. 101

    I understand vis-a’-vis the lowering or changing standards to find the man of your dreams, the one who will love you unconditionally. But what Evan may understand and cannot deny, is that love is a visceral reaction. It cannot be controlled or neutralized. It just is. I am in love (call it a crush) with  a man who has a bad temper, is too old for me, and has a live-in gf. But he is dashing, powerful,brilliant, tall, and hilarious. What a gigantic waste of time and emotional energy, but it emanates from deep within, this thing we call love cannot be controlled.

  12. 102
    Karl R

    Nancy said: (#95)
    “If I choose to eliminate income minimum from my requirements then I will be sacrificing a lot monetarily.”

    If you make this great sacrifice, you’ll potentially be living at a lifestyle equal to or above my own (and that of most of the readers on this blog). Given that my life seems quite pleasant, I find it difficult to feel much sympathy for your situation.

    You have choices:
    1. You can avoid marriage (as Selena suggested) and have a boyfriend.
    2. You can get remarried to a rich man whom you believe will cheat on you (as Selena also noted).
    3. You can marry a man with a more modest income and live a lifestyle comparable to the rest of us.
    4. You can earn your own money so you can maintain your lifestyle regardless of your spouse’s income.

    Choose whichever option will make you happiest.

  13. 103

    Does your alimony make you happier than re-marrying/living with someone would? Happier than having your own career and your own income? I don’t necessarily dispute that you deserve to get alimony, but men are not just meal tickets.

  14. 104

    I never said they were. But let’s be real. I am middle aged and have been accustomed to living a certain way. Getting a job is something I will do but having sacrificed a career to be a stay at home mom puts me at major disadvantage in the job market. Why is it okay for men to want women with big breasts or blond hair, or for woman to want a guy with a bachelor degree or nice shoulders but we who want a man with earnings reflective of our past lifestyle are gold-diggers?
    I accept bald, stealth abs, imperfect teeth, grey hair, wrinkles etc. Those are not deal-breakers. But don’t cast aspersions onto me for wanting to continue to live in the way I have for many years.
    Just being honest

  15. 105
    Katarina Phang

    Well, Nancy, don’t get married then.  Just get the best of both worlds.  Find true connection while enjoying the alimony.  Problem solved, no?

  16. 106


    If you find someone you fall in love with, you could always buy adjacent properties.

  17. 107

    Nancy, I know divorced and remarried women who still are able to get child support payments from their ex-husbands.  So if you are worried about your children, and paying for their tuition, clothes, food, etc., please know that child payments are still an option. This shouldn’t hold you back from pursuing marriage again.
    My own personal view is that the one thing worth more than 3 combined salaries is having a loving, caring, fun partner. There is nothing money could buy you that would give you the same happiness and peace. It shouldn’t be money that holds you back from that happiness, if you are interested in pursuing it. Others are perfectly happy and peaceful without a partner. You may be such a person, in which case you have no need for relationship advice.  No, I don’t consider you a gold-digger.  But it would be sad if you let this monetary concern impede you from pursuing love.

  18. 108

    Karl R, I don’t think that wanting to date someone whose education is comparable to one’s own has anything to do with judging people as not being as smart as you.  It’s more that it’s one of those experiences that becomes such a huge part of your identity that it’s hard to have much in common with people who don’t share it.  Sort of like growing up ridiculously wealthy, or being adopted, or having 10 siblings.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t interact with people who don’t have those experiences, or that you judge them, or that you necessarily MUST end up with someone whose life mirrored yours.  It’s just a lot harder to truly understand where someone’s coming from if there’s nothing in your own life experience that is similar.

    I spent 8 years in grad school (2 years for an MA and 6 for a PhD).  So for 8 years in my 20s, I made $15K per year or less; took classes where I was surrounded (more or less) by geniuses; got to systematically explore, tear down, and rebuild every assumption I had about the world; traveled around the US extensively for conferences (meeting even more geniuses, many of whom I entered into long-term correspondence with); learned how to work equally effectively in both collaborative and solo situations; and learned to become equally comfortable and accomplished as both a writer and a public speaker despite feeling painfully insecure about my intellect at nearly every turn.

    I spent a considerable amount of time at breweries playing pool or darts and discussing classical rhetoric, postcolonial theory, the differences between the 8 or so completely distinct (and often bitterly feuding) types of academic feminism, the modern literary novel…people who have not been to graduate school have not (for the most part) had experiences even remotely resembling that.  I remember my first year in the PhD I thought “FINALLY, I am meeting people who are like ME!!”  It was literally the first time in my entire life that I felt at home around people.

    It’s not all fun and games – I have $100K of debt as a result, which is another thing that people who’ve never been to grad school don’t understand and often deride.  But I would much rather have had those experiences than own a house or have a child, so it’s worth it to me.  In the 2 or so years since I graduated, I haven’t met anyone that I have as much fun with or as much in common with as the folks I met there. 

    Of course, I think the danger that you and others talk about when discussing really educated folks or people that are “book smart” or who do well on IQ or other standardized tests is that they will not be “well-rounded” in the sense of having ordinary interests.  But that’s where my 4 years of sorority life, my obsession with Stephen King, fantasy novels, and reality TV comes in 🙂

  19. 109

    I appreciate Nancy and Juju (see #42) for their honesty, even though what happened with Juju’s marriage scares the crap out of me.  For the “strong, smart, and successful” women out there though who believe that men are “intimidated” by them, consider what happened to Juju’s loving, devoted intellectual husband.  A guy who still feels completely manly around a woman with more money and status than he has might still have a concern that one day she’s going to decide that he can’t provide the lifestyle she wants or she, like Juju, just can’t respect him. 

  20. 110

    Chris, there were a couple of “aggravating circumstances” in my case, though. First was that he went bald (before age 30), and, him not having been very good-looking to begin with, this just ruined his appearance completely. Second was… you must have heard the expression, “Women marry men hoping they would change, and they don’t; and men marry women hoping they don’t change, and they do”? It wasn’t that I was planning to change him, actually, it was that I had a valid reason to believe that things would change – when we got married, he was accepted into a graduate program for industrial psychology, and I thought our financial situation was, thus, only temporary. What happened in reality, however, was that he dropped out after one semester, and never came up with any other ideas on which career path to pursue. (He eventually decided to stay in his dead-end job until the company dissolves or his retirement, whichever occurs sooner. :-|)

  21. 111
    Karl R

    Honey said: (#109)
    “It’s just a lot harder to truly understand where someone’s coming from if there’s nothing in your own life experience that is similar.”

    Welcome to the human condition. Most people have something in their life that fits this description. For many, it would be impractical to seek a partner who does understand. (For example, compare the number of male combat veterans to the number of female combat veterans … or the number of female rape victims to the number of male rape victims.)

    By contrast, most of the examples you give seem downright familiar to me. PhD? My father has one … as do an uncle, a great aunt, 8 members of my choir, and several of my other friends. Adopted? So are two of my siblings, one niece and one nephew. $15k or less? I did that three different years in my 20s. Traveling the US to conferences? My girlfriend does that every 2-3 months (no degree for her either). Geniuses? That describes a significant portion of my family, my church, my workplace and my friends. Highly intellectual conversations on widely diverse topics? That describes a typical Sunday afternoon with my closest friends.

    Your life sounds a lot easier to understand than my girlfriend’s does. Some of my ex-girlfriends definitely had lives that were closer to mine than my current girlfriends … but those relationships went nowhere.

    What my current girlfriend and I share is common values, common goals, and a mutual interest in a long-term relationship with each other. That’s what makes or breaks a relationship.

  22. 112

    Evan, you make me smile.  I spent a year thinking about what I thought was really important, and what I just wanted after divorcing.  I started reading your blog months before I started dating.  I considered, I thought, I hesitated, and I worked towards being self-aware.  That included taking a good, hard look at myself to see what others would think was undesirable.  For those of you that shared a list, I will share a bit of mine.  Only the top 5 reasons why a man might not want to date me, but as you will see, they are real doozies.  Who needs more?  Ha-ha!

    1) I have 2 divorces under my belt
    2) I have 2 children  living with me
    3) I smoke
    4) I cannot have more children
    5) I take my time with any relationship.  I’m just not spontaneous. (and really slow to make a decision)

    With a list like that, some might wonder why I try at all.  But hey, they can all be dealt with.  The things I can’t do anything about?  I’m comfortable with those things, have a sense of humor about them (even the divorces), and just look for someone who will accept those things about me.  I figure I’ll have to accept stuff about him too.  The things I can do something about just leave me with making the decision about whether to do something.  Quitting smoking is hard, but I’m doing it.  I refuse to rush into a relationship of any kind, but I can work to be more spontaneous and really enjoy the moment.  I just keep on trying to be the best me I can be and keep my eyes wide open.

    What I did was create a list of “Must Haves” and a list of “Wants”.  I then promptly forgot all the “Wants”.  If he has all my must haves, then it’s just gravy and that much more exciting if he has a want.  If he doesn’t meet the must haves, who cares if he has all the wants?  I just had to make certain my must haves were really must haves and not wants.  I wish you all luck regardless of your must haves.  If all our must haves were the same, nobody would be single for long.  I love diversity!  That means there is someone out there everyone.

  23. 113

    Right, Karl.  Where you’ve each been doesn’t matter as much as where you both want to go.

  24. 114

    It’s good to fit in with people who are like you, Karl.  Of course, since almost everyone I know is or was in grad school, now all my close friends (and my boyfriend/fiance) have experiences that mirror my own.  All of the folks that I went to high school (and most of the friends that I went to undergrad with) do not understand those things and never could.  I was the first member of my family to finish college – part of the reason I don’t talk to my family is because I don’t relate to any of them.

  25. 115

    Which isn’t to say I don’t interact successfully with people who have different experiences than I do.  I “mirror” conversational topics and body language well enough that no one I interact with in person ever feels uncomfortable around me.  I just don’t enjoy those interactions; however, THEY do.  Which is fine with me – it’s necessary to get along in the world – it’s just that those interactions drain my energy, while interactions with people who are like me feed my energy.  In my romantic partner (as in my close friends) I am looking for a feeder, not a drainer.  Are there folks out there who aren’t academics that would be suitable for me for a mate (similar interests and experiences, etc.)?  I’m certain of it.  Are there few enough of them that it’s a waste of time to look, when I’ve worked at three large universities over the course of the last 10 years and have easy and constant access to people who share my values?  I’m certain of that, too.
    And since I’ve been with Jake over 4 years and we are now planning our wedding, I’m certain my strategy was the correct one for me.

  26. 116


    How is it you chose Lance for a year or, so? He really doesn’t come across in the way you describe your choice of friends. 🙂

  27. 117

    Honey (#116),

    That’s exactly what I’m feeling! I can relate to many different people and I do go out of my way to be friendly. But doesn’t mean I enjoy it all the time. And that also means I attract people who are not of the same frequency as me and they thought that we have chemistry. But its actually not…its a good rapport I’m open enough and take the effort to build because I value them as individuals.

    Unfortunately, its not very exciting to be with them/in such situation as Honey said…it saps the energy.

    Of course there could be exceptions and Karl is a good example. However, it is still exception to be seen more often in romance novels, chick flicks than anywhere else.

  28. 118

    vis-a-vis Shay and Chick flicks
    You know that Hollywood formula we have all seen again and again, girl falls for bad boy, they hook up, boy dumps girl but she still pursues him, all the while the nice nerdy boy in the glasses secretly has a crush on the girl but she sees hm only as a friend to confide in – about the bad boy. We root for the nerd, practically yelling at the screen “Hey you dumb (insert expletive for female) go for the nerdy guy, (once he takes off his glasses he’s kind of not hideous). That is what Evan is doing toward all us dumb %&*!s and we don’t hear him because we LIKE the bad boy. I admit I like the bad boys. They are sexier, more powerful and elusive. I didn’t marry a bad boy, and he bored me to tears. Now we are getting divorced.

  29. 119

    I married the bad boy and experienced years of lying and cheating.  Give me the nerd.

  30. 120

    T went out with a guy last night, first meeting. He looked fatter and older than his photos and he was shorter than me (height lying). His personality was fine, but I could not feel attracted to him. This is why online dating sucks. If I met this guy in real life in a bar, it would not gotten past hello. I’m doomed to be single and I am not even finished being divorced.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *