What You SHOULD Be Looking For in a Partner

middle-aged couple looking at each other while embracing

I was on the phone last week with Laura.

Like most of my clients (and probably, like you), she’s quite a catch. Blonde, great smile, looks amazing for her age, creative and fulfilling career…and still, no guy.

For a long time, love wasn’t a priority, but as she got into her mid-40’s and achieved all the work success that she’d ever sought, she felt a deep yearning.

It’s not that she regretted the opportunities that passed her by in the past — it’s that she made a strong determination in 2010 that she didn’t want to be alone any more.

But she didn’t know where to begin.

She knows herself well — driven by success, fiery, opinionated.

She knows what kind of men she’s been drawn to — more successful, more fiery, more opinionated.

And yet, nothing has stuck. The most attractive men seem to be the worst partners.

Have you ever thought the same thing?

More pointedly, have you ever realized these men aren’t a good fit and STILL gone for the next attractive man who seemed more successful, more fiery, and more opinionated than you?

Of course you have.

You want what you want.

You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to.

But really, what you’re doing is trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. And even three-year-olds realize that this is an impossible (and thankless) task.

You need to try a DIFFERENT method to get a DIFFERENT result.

You may THINK that the only person you can be happily married to is the man who is six feet tall, Ivy-League educated, makes $300,000/yr, and has the same religion and political leanings, but that’s just a restriction that you have imposed.

I don’t blame you — my ideal woman looks a lot like that, too! But you’ve created a definition of your perfect man in your head — and when each new man doesn’t fit into that box — you get rid of him.

To be clear, I don’t mean that your Mr. Right is short, fat, bald, poor and stupid.

I only mean that if the man whom you THINK is Mr. Right never turns out to BE Mr. Right, it’s probably time to alter your image of Mr. Right.


You need to try a DIFFERENT method to get a DIFFERENT result.

So, if your idea of Mr. Right isn’t really Mr. Right, what you SHOULD be looking for? I’m so glad you asked.

Because the trickiest thing about finding a perfect partner is that your perfect partner is not the perfect PERSON.

In fact, if I were to distill my sentiments about what you should be looking for in a partner, I would probably say this.

“You need a complement, not a clone”.

Yet if you’re in the 90th percentile in looks, intelligence, and income, you likely think that the key to happiness is finding a man who is in the 95th percentile.

Not true. That’s what you’ve been doing your whole life. It hasn’t worked.

You need to try a different approach.

My client Laura finally “got” this during our last call.

Laura’s got a lot of personality. She’s the one who dominates conversation and is the center of attention when she’s at a party. Laura may be DRAWN to men who are more charismatic than she is, but they’re not good fits for her.

Because a charismatic man wants to be the center of attention.
Because he doesn’t want to share the stage.
Because he’s likely to compete with Laura for the last word.

And most of all, because his charisma is probably indicative of a whole bunch of other qualities — his desire to flirt with other women, his bossiness, his stubbornness, his refusal to settle down or compromise…

Yes, Laura’s dated that charismatic guy a dozen times — always with the same result.

Her shift — and yours — is not to swing to the OPPOSITE end of the spectrum. Remember — I’m not trying to pair you up with bland, boring, and lame men.

Just know that if Laura brings 60% of the charisma, her partner should probably bring 40% of the charisma.

If Laura’s bringing in 60% of the income, her partner should probably bring in 40% of the income, and so on.

By having a balanced partnership, you can lean on each other and clearly define your roles without all the ego and conflict.

My wife handles customer service because I have a worse temper.
I handle negotiations because she’s too nice.
My wife handles money because I’m better with words.
I handle paying for vacations; she’s the one who plans them.

Relationships aren’t about two people who like skiing or two people who enjoy live music.

This may seem trivial but this is important. Relationships aren’t about two people who like skiing or two people who enjoy live music. Relationship are about how a couple can negotiate and compromise in every aspect of life.

So when you date the man who is just like you but “better”, you’ll likely end up with a man with the same strengths…and the same weaknesses.

If I married someone with my weaknesses, my wife would be difficult, opinionated, short-tempered.

The reason that we work is because she’s my complement: patient, happy, easygoing.

If it seems like a challenging shift to wean yourself off of men who are just like you, all you have to do is look at the results.

You’re reading my blog for smart, strong, successful single women.

That’s all you need to know.

You don’t need a clone. You need a complement.

Join our conversation (40 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 1

    Many ppl had been telling me this. However, I have no idea who is my complement. Are those who are attracted to me naturally my complement?

    I am a pro-active girl. 95% of the time I took the initiative to ask guys out. I was trying to change this but it appears that if I don’t ask, nothing happens. I kept asking why I do this and tried to resist. Unfortunately, my friends, who are trying to get me out of singledom, and I realized that it is my very own personality to be pro active. I can’t be anything else.

    And there are a couple of guys who indicate that they are approachable than approaching and most of the time have a positive response when I ask them out. Are they my complement?

  2. 2

    Evan – how do you find this complement? Are you saying that going down in salary will give it to you? Or are you saying stop chasing Alpha? I feel that I have dated down and accepted scraps to just not be alone. Then I am unhappy and break up. for example, the last guy only made $50K and he was unhappy in his job – he did not appreciate me either. So maybe I need a happy medium. I just want someone smart enough to appreciate me and I admire him. That doesn’t mean CEO or Ivy Lawyer or Doctor – I don’t usually like them because they are rude and too busy. But the rest are just freaks – a guy who lies about his age (a lot of these). Another who lies about his height and the fact that he is not just Jewish but Orthodox and he goes on and on about how he would want me to cook Kosher – I mean that is a demanding stretch, then there is a guy who is almost drugged out still from too much partying and he has a lousy job even though he has a PHD. I mean most of us are just trying to find someone we are attracted to a LITTLE bit and they are attracted to us. I feel the online thing has made all of us women have to date much older men than what we would want just to be with someone. And that is hard. I date them and I don’t like them at all. Not even if I have 3 glasses of wine.  

    1. 2.1

      I feel the same way! =)


  3. 3

    @AQ #2
    Too funny, I can totally relate to your last comment about the older men (frankly any men lately..they all fabricate, embellish and over state) trying to date them, not liking it at all, EVEN with Wine!!
    I’m thinking of getting a puppy 🙂

  4. 4

    I think I have figured out how to look for your complement, and it is not at all about picking up bums off the street or couch potatoes… You don’t have to go outside of your league (I don’t like this term, but cannot think of any other that applies)… Instead, you go outside of your type. Like, if you have always gone for the strong, silent types and it has never worked, try things with a sensitive type of guy and see what happens.
    The way I understand the idea behind the clone vs. complement, you’ll clash with your clone, but click with your complement. So keep trying new types of people until one clicks. Unfortunately, I do not see any way to find that out other than by trial and error. By clicking I mean that you get a mutual connection, you “get” each other, it is easy being together, it is easy for each of you to be yourself. You do not have to work hard at being something you’re not in order to be with that guy. He likes being with you exactly the way you are, and you feel the same way about him. That’s your complement. The difficult part about this would be that you’re getting out of your comfort zone and learning to live with this person’s quirks that you’re not used to living with, but not so far that you hate every minute you spend with the person.
    You do not have to “date down and date scraps”, as a matter of fact this isn’t fair to the “scraps”. One woman’s scraps is another woman’s dream guy. If you absolutely cannot stand him, then let him go and find someone he’s happy with.  
    I hope this comment goes through, either the site is acting up or I finally got banned for what I’ve posted lately 😉 haven’t been able to post all day today.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      We’ve had technical difficulties, Goldie. You’re still welcome and encouraged here. Especially when you agree with me. 🙂

  5. 5

    This is such excellent advice. On online dating sites, I had a tendency to be matched up with guys who were my clone (shared values, level of education, shared interests, etc). While they were pleasant to date, they were boring to me since I’m kind of a quiet and passive personality. I need someone with a bit more oomph. The only way I found that was through trial and error and not restricting myself to what I thought was my type.

    When it came to online dating, I was very much not picky. I would go on a first meet with a guy as long as he seemed decent, didn’t trigger any creepy vibes and didn’t hit me up for sex while we were messaging. I paid zero attention to age, height, weight and employment. As a result, I met a lot of cool people, had only one bad date the whole time, and finally did hit the jackpot.

    There is no magic bullet. It takes an open mind and patience. And yes, if what you’ve been doing isn’t working, try something else.  

  6. 6
    Jo Anne

    I am a single 53 divorcee. After my divorce, it took 2 years before I met someone (or settled). Our friendship lasted 2 years and then I moved on to a friend with benefits for 2 years with a man I have loved all my life. We were each others first. For 2 years I hoped and prayed it was our destiny that we found each other again. The only thing I learned is that history repeated itself. He cheated and broke my heart 35 years ago and did it again.
    So, I tried match dating site, went on two great dates, however, it was one sided. I am still active, however, rarely hear from anyone. I’ve been single and alone for a year now. I don’t know, sometimes I begin to think how society only cares about the outside appearance. Let’s face it, men my age are looking for women in their 40’s. Are we better off being alone?

  7. 7

    @ Jo Anne, I’ve had better luck with OKC than match, precisely in terms of age. The men that contacted me on Match, ranged in age from 10 yrs older to old enough to be my father. The men that contacted me on OKC were all in my age group… plus-minus five years of my age. And yeah, I am in my 40s, but I have found (from experience) that ten years difference is too much for me. Just because men in their 50s are looking for women in their 40s, doesn’t mean every one of them will find one. They need to have more realistic expectations age-wise, and they know it. So it’s not all bad out there.
    @ Evan, I have to agree with you on this one, because I have just recently experienced what you write about. After 4-5 months of dating, I ended up seeing two people and things were getting pretty serious with both. It just so happened that one was my clone, and the other one was my complement. Both had amazing credentials, all the way to Ivy League that people on here like so much to write about 😉 I confess, I liked my clone more. But at the end, I apologized to my clone and got off the site with my complement, because I realized that he would be an infinitely better match. We’re both having a great time so far, knock on wood. Yes, some of his personality traits, for me, took some getting used to, but it was totally worth it. We may not be each other’s clones, but we have an amazing connection 🙂 of course, I may have just jinxed it by writing this, but I did feel the need to tell previous commenters on here that the complement thing really works, and that it is NOT the same as dating down.

  8. 8
    Jo Anne

    Goldie, I’m not familiar with OKC dating site. I agree about Match, either the men are 10 years younger or older or not the type I requested. It’s clear Match cannot filter the requirements.
    At times, I feel putting myself out there makes me feel it’s too late to find someone my age. Maybe it’s just my low self esteem speaking, I don’t know.

  9. 9

    Looking for my complement…how do I know that? Last guy I dated (David) has a 4 year old son, divorced, with lots of debts and low paying job. We dated for 2 1/2 years but he was caring, loving and understanding with me. However, I overlooked his good qualities and focused on the bad things. I ended up the relationship and met another guy. He (Bob)  is the opposite of David, he has a good decent paying job. He is an BBA graduate, he drives a luxury brand car, he has no kids and he pays the bill when we go out. However, he lack the communication part that David focused so much on. Bob does not text or calls  me much, but we do see each other every weekend and one weekday. Also Bob has not yet committed to a relationship with   me yet but we discussed and agreed to be exclusive with each other.
    These two guys are completely different from one another but I seem to be more attracted to Bob than I ever was to David; even though, Bob does not show much affection like David did.

  10. 10

    @ Jo Anne
    I believe OKC is Ok Cupid and is a free site.
    I’ve had better luck in my age bracket there as well. It’s almost as if men pay the membership fee at Match and EHarmony in the hopes of meeting their ideals. Get frustrated when they strike out and then go to the free site with recalibrated requirements. Either that or they’re trolling on the free site for an easy lay. Match and EHarmony may be more marriage minded but the quality of man pool suffers greatly.

  11. 11

    I notice that when posting about your clone vs. your compliment, the emphasis seems to be on finding a lower key, down to earth, average kind of good guy, instead of the more charismatic, slightly selfish, career achiever. I guess this is because the initial emphasis is about the smart, but sometimes controlling, blunt, not always so feminine, or fun and patient kind of woman.
    It is possible to have a clone, if you are both fun, patient, down to earth, kind and interesting people to begin with, 🙂 or whatever traits you want to use. I am not so sure you should think along the lines of clone vs. compliment, although I understand where Evan is coming from. To cast one type away for another won’t necessarily help you find the man of your dreams either. I think this is why when some women seek the opposite of what they typically date, they’re miserable then, too. The key is to have an open and unexpected mind, and to meet and date all types of people until you find the one that’s the best fit for you. They are likely going to be both a clone and a compliment.

  12. 12

    @ Sharon, yes, that’s the site I was referring to 🙂 One thing I liked about it is that people actually make an effort to write something interesting in their profiles, and answer a good number of questions, and pay close attention to your answers as well. Whereas on Match, a lot of people try to swing by with a cute photo, a high enough number under “income”, and a three-sentence copy-and-paste profile. As a result, they don’t pay attention to what you wrote in there either — they don’t care about what kind of person you are — they only look at the photos and the age.

  13. 13

    What you want to consider is looking for is someone who is your emotional complement.   Are you more about confidence?   Then someone who is more about nurturing would be a good match/complement.   And vice versa.   If you have two people who are all about confidence, there are power struggles and there’s no one to lighten the mood during a fight.   If you have two people who are all about nuturing, there isn’t much fireworks and things tend not to ‘get done’ and move forward.  

    You want to have similar or the same beliefs and values–you both want to live in the country, you both want to start a family some day, etc.

    The rest of the stuff being referred to here are personality traits and no one is ever going to meet our 100% in that area–that’s where compromise has to come into play.   If someone being affectionate is important to you, and you’re not getting that met, then you have to consider how important that is to you, perhaps it’s something that can be discussed with the other person.     Career is not really relevant either–someone who is more about confidence could be an art teacher and actress may be more about nuturing (how that could translate into beliefs one has, i.e. the man should be the breadwiinner).

    You have to be very clear on who you are as a person and what you desire in a mate–that takes time, dating and lots of self reflection/learning.

  14. 14

    Joanne   Another free site is plentyoffish  I saw alot of the same men in my area  there as you do on match.  
    The most important thing is to have zero expectations about any of these sites.   Once a women is over 50 her value on the dating market is practically zero.   Depending on where you live women most likely outnumber men in our age group ( I am 54).   In general men in their 50’s don’t want women in their 50s.   I find I get the over 65 or under 35 messaging me and I have been on match, okc and plentyoffish plus some of the niche sites.

  15. 15

    @ Diana #12:

    But the women in Evan’s target audience are “smart, strong, successful women,” who  may be  less likely to be “fun, patient, down to earth, kind and interesting.”

    Do you think smart, strong, successful men (i.e. alphas)  are more likely to be fun, patient, down to earth, kind and interesting, or less likely?

  16. 16

    I think I may have stumbled across my complement (60%?) AND clone (40%?-in basic personality but not motivation/drive/spirituality).

    Like your post, after two yrs. of online dating, I just could never find anyone suitable, on my wavelength, long-term. I was drawn to attractive, alpha, successful males but they all turned out to be too vain, busy, brusque for me. Many were secret users and got past my radar at fist. Drawn to attractive men, cause my ex wasn’t I guess…alpha ’cause it reminded me of my father maybe. Who knows?

    Then I found okcupid and spent a day deciding if a younger guy’s GREAT profile (articulate like me, funny, irreverent (like me), sophisticated (like me) but goofy, so-so  photos were worth the risk (thought the sexual chemistry would be borderline).

    Well we met and had a great date. Walked for hrs. after a tapas dinner. Were holding hands almost immediately!   He came across as a little sad, but funny, sweet, super smart (a genius in his field so cerebral which I like), but still losing weight from a weight loss surgery so the sex. chem. wasn’t overwhelming (at first).

    Fast forward 5 months and one brief break-up later and I’m like Goldie- seriously, seriously knocking on wood this one works out.

    And he’s lost all the weight he wanted to and more. Bulked/buffed up thru almost daily, hard exercise.   By the third date I found him sexy as hell, handsome even. I bonded fast and hard….

    Clone- all that I mentioned PLUS he’s ENFP (Myers Briggs) just like me and as we are only 5% of the population, that is incredible/important. I.e., we respond to the world in much the same way, though our upbringings are totally opposite.

    Complement- he’s much quieter than I am (I am a quiet though sometimes very talkative Southern  Belle- everyone is a friend, etc.), he’s slow to respond/trust (I am faster), harder edged than me. Not into his spirituality/path, but lives by the golden rule from what I can tell. Kind, never kicks people when they are down, etc.

    I couldn’t be happier and wish I had  dated against type months ago.

  17. 17

    Joe, that is true. I’ve been reading here long enough to have figured that part out. 🙂 And yes, alphas are less likely to have those personality traits. I just wanted to share additional thoughts.

  18. 18

    Evan, I AM looking for the guy that compliments me, but I am having a helluva time finding him. It seems that every guy I have been meeting since my divorce six years ago, is interested in everyone else but me. I am sick of hearing, “You are a wonderful woman, but…blah, blah, blah.” I am attractive, easygoing, funny…all the things that you say that your wife is and more…but it seems that guys are always looking for the next best thing. You can write the funniest and wittiest profile, but if the guy doesn’t feel what he needs to feel (i.e. a connection) then you are SOOL. I’ve come to the conclusion that meeting the right guy is simply the luck of the draw.

  19. 19

    Why is Blonde an adjective synonms with something positive?   It’s a hair color, it doesn’t mean, that the person is a good person, beautiful, sweet, or anything else.   I don’t understand that, but I see it all of the time.   She may be beautiful and her blonde hair may be beautiful, but saying Blonde in the way it was used above, makes it sound like Blonde can’t be anything other than positive.


    1. 19.1

      As a man I am much more partial to brunettes.   So that is what I am attracted to. But fate has a sense of humor because my daughter is about as blonde as you can get and she’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

  20. 20

    Hi Evan. I am a 22 year long married woman, found your blog by accident, and continue to read because you address so many issues pertaining to my past relationships AND present marriage.
    I am seeing how the great love of my life (25 years ago) was so much a clone of me, it is clear why we didn’t work out. What is amazing is that   his wife and my husband share many of the same personality traits.
    Incidentally, I met my husband through a friend who knew us both, knew we were both decent people, had similar values and were both looking for a serious, long term relationship. We have many overlapping interests and life goals, but complimentary personalities and strengths. The key is to appreciate the others strengths, even the one’s you do not share, or understand.

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