When Should You Give Up On Dating?

young woman sitting near the beach watching the sunset

You’ve had enough.

You’ve loved. You’ve lost.

You have no desire to go through it again.

You are ready to go on permanent guy-atus.

Then you read this letter by Emily Bracken posted on Medium and reposted on HuffPo. It’s astonishingly self-aware, and is the kind of letter I wish I received more, instead of the one blaming men for all the ills of the world.

Dear Future Love of My Life:

I know. I should have written before. Forgive me. But I got the feeling that you were beginning to think I didn’t exist. But I do. And I wanted to let you know that while I might be as elusive as a unicorn grazing in a field of four-leaf clovers, I’m close. I’m around the corner, down the street, on Facebook, in your office, at our local coffee shop, a complete stranger. I made eyes at you once on the subway. I saw you across the room at a party. I swiped you right on Tinder. But it’s not our time yet. And I know you’re wondering why.

It’s really not fair that you’ve had to wait this long, or go on blind dates, endure bad sex, settle for ‘meh’ relationships, feel misunderstood, cry from loneliness, wrap your arms around a pillow as you fall asleep at night. I’m so sorry, my love. You deserve an explanation. So, here it goes. It’s taken me a long time to even admit this to myself much less to you, so please know that everything I’ve written here is true.

The reasons we haven’t met yet, in no particular order:

1. I haven’t thrown out the list of things I think you should be.
2. I’m with the wrong person right now.
3. I’m not ready to be loved unconditionally.
4. Since my life isn’t together, I think you’ll reject me.
5. I still believe that drama is a show of love.
6. I’ve been intentionally keeping my head too busy to think with my heart.
7. I need to date more to understand what I do and don’t like.
8. I won’t be able to appreciate you until life has kicked my ass.
9. I’m too focused on my own needs.
10. I don’t know how to create the feeling of home that lives in my heart.

Clearly, I’m not my best self yet. Or even myself — I’m still figuring out who that is. I’m pretty sure even if we did meet, you wouldn’t like me all that much right now. It’s entirely possible that we did hit it off once, and I left without getting your information; or maybe I did get your number and never called because of any one of the above reasons.

This is a call for humility — stop blaming the opposite sex for the downfall of your relationships and take responsibility for the things you can control.

Be patient with me, darling heart. Know that I’m working my way toward you. So don’t spend any more time thinking about where I am or am not. Just keep making your life exciting and full, so when we do finally come together, we can bring each other joy, because we are already happy.

I know it’s taking longer than you’d like. It’s a hell of a lot slower than I could have ever imagined. But I’m here. This is me talking to you. And I’m not going anywhere.

Don’t give up on me.

Yours, in perpetuity,

The Love You Haven’t Met Yet

Flip the genders and it’s just as potent. I could have written the same thing ten years ago, if only I were more self-aware. When I was 31, I hadn’t thrown out the list, my life wasn’t together, I was dating the wrong person, I needed to date more to understand what I like, I wasn’t able to appreciate the right woman until life kicked my ass, and I was too focused on what I was getting instead of what I was giving.

This letter is a call for humility — to stop blaming the opposite sex for the downfall of your relationships and to take responsibility for the things you can control.

My new book builds on this concept and gives you a step-by-step blueprint to flipping the script from negative to positive, and turning the glass from half-empty to half-full.

And in case you’ve missed my video series about how to rejuvenate your faith in love, make sure you watch these three videos.

The first video shows you why “Comparison is the enemy of contentment“, next you’ll learn “How to make the most attractive men fall for you“, and finally “What you can do to find love“.

If you watch the third video, you’ll also be signed up to receive my special report “The Top Three Things You MUST Know To Persevere in Dating,” based on my last nine months of research. This is my best stuff and I’m giving it to you absolutely free.

Lasting love is real, but it takes a real self-aware person to be a worthy partner. Become that person and you’ll attract that person as well.

Have a great weekend and come back on Monday for a juicy reader question from a woman who is ready to toss in the towel on men.

In the meantime, which of the things on Emily’s list will you admit to?

Join our conversation (127 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21

    I liked this post – partly because it reassured me that I am in fact ready to go find the next love of my life.   I do still worry #4 about being rejected because my life isn’t totally together.   So I’m working on getting myself more together, but in the meantime I’m kind of enjoying putting myself back out there.   I feel hopeful.

  2. 22

    Do men hug their pillows and cry from loneliness?  

    1. 22.1

      I would like to know that answer!

    2. 22.2

      Me too.   I never thought this might be true until very recently, and I am 40, but I wonder if the great majority of men really are just far *colder* than we are, either by nature or by upbringing, or both.   I almost dipped my pool back in the “let’s allow ourselves to like someone who seems to like us”, and… over before it even began.   My last relationship was with a true blue narcissist, the kind that would be flattered if a woman committed suicide over him.   I was eventually saved from ruin by one of his exes, and after he summarily dumped the latest victim (right after she’d buried her mom no less), I have saved her, a very pretty lady with two young boys.   Of course, a narcissist is something else entirely, and you’d better believe there are women narcissists too, but I just… I can’t do it anymore.   My heart is soft, not hard.   It can’t take any more.   Even this small hope hurts like hell, and I feel foolish for allowing myself to hope at all again.   I’d been doing so well, just switched off.   It was very pleasant, really.   

    3. 22.3

      I don’t.

    4. 22.4

      “Do men hug their pillows and cry from loneliness?”

      They don’t necessarily cry from the loneliness but they do get just as down and discouraged as women.

      I say that from experience as I’m currently feeling a bit down and out. I had a short but very enjoyable relationship with a wonderful, attractive free spirited woman that ended recently. She was honest and upfront when we first met about a serious 3+ year relationship she left (she moved here from another part of the country) and that she left on good terms and I appreciate her honesty. Having said that, we escalated things physically and I developed strong feelings for her. It still was hard to get over the finality of it despite knowing her other guy was looking to move here and it was only a matter of time before they would reunite.

      As for this article, it’s a nice thought but the cynic in me questions how practical it is. I think that some men and women are simply destined to be alone. I purposely chose not to date for many years as I never had a problem being alone and I’ve always considered my modest income and average looks to be a disqualier for most quality women. I know it may sound cynical and horribly unfair to women and I could be wrong but I’ve always held to the belief that you either have to be really good looking or be really well off to attract even an average women. My online dating experience has done nothing but confirm those beliefs. I initially did ok with online dating. Sent some e-mails and went on some dates and a few 2nd and 3rd dates that ended up going nowhere. I did make a great friend but that’s only because she fell pretty hard for me and I haven’t completely shut the door on something more than friendship with her although I feel little to no romantic attraction to her. I do cherish her friendship though. The woman I first described was the only other serious relationship I’ve had from a few months of online dating. The not so well kept secret is that online dating is that the deck is horribly stacked up against guys. The friend who I’m not romantically interested in put a profile up on pof and had 11 messages in her inbox within the first hour of being online. That’s would be an outstanding month for me and most guys. The online dating scene for most guys is a soul crushing experience of ignored messages and a sh##load of work for very little payback. Things can go from very good the first few dates to being completely ignored all of a sudden without ever knowing what went wrong.

  3. 23

    I cannot love this enough, as a newly 41 yr old never been married woman.   My life has been full of the wrong choices in men and yes I take complete responsibility.   I was just hurt again today by someone I thought I loved but because we have different beliefs in spirituality he cannot be with me, even though we both have very strong feelings for each other.   I will keep this letter close as my reminder.   I have been through a lot but have some how always kept some small piece of hope alive.   This will help as well!

    1. 23.1

      I feel for you Kimberly. Just got out of a relationship with someone I care deeply about too but for different reasons. You’re right not to settle though. I think many people look down or pity people that have never been married at our age but they fail to realize why. I had a father and mother that went through a horrific divorce and the last thing I’m going to do is settle just to be with someone. I’m sure you can relate although it sounds like that isn’t the case you’re describing with your latest relationship.

  4. 24

    I actually came to the realization yesterday that I’m not the relationship type.   I’m gay and gay guys want perfection.   I simply can’t offer that.   And dating guys is just freaking exhausting and not sure it’s worth the time and energy.   I’ve ‘satisfied’ everything on the list but I have a smaller dating pool than straight folks.   And no, readers, this isn’t an ‘internalized homophobia.’   I’m just no longer interested.   My last three dates made me feel like I was at home watching True Blood reruns. lol.   I just think that stuff about ‘there’s someone for everyone’ and it must be something I’m doing wrong is hogwash.   I just happen to date a pool of people with ridiculous expectations and gay men have a GAZILLION ‘deal breakers.’   My only deal breaker is any kind of abuse and it’s over.

    Anyway:   happy dating yall. 🙂  

    1. 24.1

      I’m in the same boat as you CJ, there’s so many deal-breakers and other guys can be incredibly critical.  

  5. 25

    I’m going to say never give up. <3

  6. 26

    I have been hurt so many times and I always wonder “what is wrong with me”? I have seen so many things that say it is not “you” it is the men you chose. well I am to the point I am done! I do give up and now I have told God not to bring another man in my life unless it is the “one”.I am sick of dating! Yes I have read all the stuff in this post,but I feel it is no use! I am 42 years old and sick of playing games!!

  7. 27

    Why do people assume that only women go through this? I’m a 25 year old man, I know I suck with women and dating, but that’s exact why I gave up – there’s no hope for me. Done.

    1. 27.1

      I wish I had lost hope on women earlier. Even now that I tell myself it is over after 40 it attacks you, especially when I see a cute girl pass by. However remember the bright side: no inlaws, no nagging, no divorse settlements, no child support, no need to remember birthdays or anniversaries, no need to negotiate on the movie/theatre you want to watch (avoid romantic stuff), nobody steals from your plate. Welcome your hobies and taking courses on what you like without being criticized. Take vacations when it suits you. Do nevertheless enjoy the ride even if you have to do it alone.

  8. 28

    Eh I’m still done with dating. I know I have issues that I need to fix, and that will take awhile. I certainly can’t trust anyone, much less men, after what happened in my previous relationship. I absolutely refuse to date at all in 2015. Next year maybe, but not until then. Kind of sad for a 23 year old to say this, but it’s true. I’ve watched my friends desperately seek out relationships and I’m simply not interested in putting myself out there.

  9. 29
    Justin Giroux

    That letter is still dumb because it basically says “Randomly go for strangers because you never know”.

    It doesn’t help and it really unrealistic. Women do not like to be approached.  

  10. 30

    This was great…

  11. 31

    This is corny.   I don’t think this is for the realists out here. It’s like a 15 year old high school girl wrote this while watching The Notebook to make herself feel better after breaking up with her boyfriend at the high school Spring Formal. In other words, this is not reality. LOL if only you knew how selfish, lost and inconsiderate this generation of men and women is when it comes to dating in 2015. It’s rough in these streets! Not very many people are considerate of your emotional state, or cherish your needs as much as you’d like them to. It’s good to be hopeful, but it’s wise to be realistic and guard your heart in the process.

  12. 32

    This is beautiful and I am guilty of #4 (and a little of #3). I somehow think I have to be this perfect person, maybe it is because I am in Hollywood and everyone here is perfect. I am not a size 2.

    This reminds me though that maybe there is someone out there that has been longing for me as much as I have been longing for him.

    I seem to attract men who are not interesting to me at all or just want sex when I am looking for a serious relationship. I am not sure where the man is who will challenge me, have witty banter with me, laugh with me, share with me, be creative with me, who will let me into his world and me let him into mine.
    Also I wanted to make a comment in a lot of what I read about seeking someone attractive when online dating. I get the feeling as a woman I am suppose to just settle for any guy who is okay looking because he could be a nice guy but attraction is something. I mean you wouldn’t want to go out with that you didn’t want to kiss. I know i wouldn’t . I either attract guys who are good looking and interesting but only want a casual relationship/sex or very boring (Hi is not an interesting conversation or my favorite is Hi Babe you look really pretty) and want a relationship.
    Where is the happy medium, I am not sure but I am trying as suggested on this site to be grateful for the men who contact me even if they aren’t the right ones because at least someone out there finds me attractive and I need to focus on positive not negative because what I put out there is what is manifested.
    Anyway, thank you for this beautiful letter. I appreciate it

    Not giving up yet.


  13. 33
    Donny Sparks

    If I wrote that letter.. hehe. It would go something like…..

    Sorry my love but, it’s my fault we have yet to meet. You will see below a list of reasons for such a travesty.

    1. I have no financial value whatsoever. Poor and homeless. Living with my parent.

    2. I have no social value whatsoever. People don’t keep me around for good conversation. It’s usually because I help unconditionally. I’m more like a butler than another person in the room.

    3. I have no physical value whatsoever. I have scoliosis, an under bite, need glasses, low muscle tone, and someone in general you take a second look at because you cannot believe what you saw.

    4. I have no intellectual value whatsoever. Okay I’m lying. All that ignored effort towards external quality when somewhere. But, since you can only see the external at the start of a relationship: I have no college degrees, or work certificates, and I may not even be let into the military. If you even happen to stumble upon what I know you will think otherwise. This is because I will answer as if I know little due to fear of knowing I could talk about it all day but, not wanting to annoy you.

    5. Drum roll please!………….. I have no masculine value whatsoever. Zero confidence. I really am a big fan of truth so, it’s only natural that I have no positive expectations towards relationships with the opposite sex since I have no experience of such a thing happening. I like to play a game with women. Once I chat them up and get myself good and ready to park in the friend zone parking spot I try to do something with them and make it seem platonic. Here’s the game part; it’s called tell me something I haven’t heard. Working on the name lol. Anyway the object is to see if my next rejection will be something I have never heard before. Here’s my list so far:

    * My dad says I can’t give my number to boys.

    * I have a boyfriend

    * I am gay

    * I (can) only date my ethnicity/religion

    * We’re related. (Just kidding.)

    * I am going away to school

    * I would never date you.

    * It’s going to rain all week (not kidding)

    *   (Lastly, the wordless rejection) Flaking after making plans and reconfirming them the day prior.


    The last one just happened to me. I am waiting for her to act like nothing happened or we never had plans the next time I see her. It will be interesting to see if she continues to passively ignore me; perhaps, out of fear of my reaction to a outright rejection; or see if she can take advantage of my attraction to her for some favors while leading me on to the “lets just be friends” speech once I make a move.

    Anyway, my love, I hope you can accept that we will never meet. Why? You are in my imagination! Since, I love reality so much, if I actually thought you existed I’d base my expectations of you on what I have known. Why would I want to get to know or even write a letter to another user who is too afraid to say no? So, instead hopes the guy catches on that there’s no mutual attraction while reaping every favor the seeds of his infatuation has sown. What a joke.

    Of course you only exist in my head. There you treat me with enough respect to be honest. No, you are not some sex crazed, supermodel, who only focuses on me. You are a friend in my imagination that actually cares about my well-being. That’s all.

    I must go on with my life beautiful. I can’t keep comparing every woman I like to your standards. Apparently, being honest and friendly is high maintenance. Maybe if I let you go I can accept their behavior as normal and give up on romance in general. Perhaps, then in some ironic twist, I can focus on what’s important and gain enough value for even you to be attracted to me.


    Yea right lol……

    D. Sparks

  14. 34

    It’s a nice letter however I got to the part about “needing to date more to understand what I do and don’t like” and stopped reading.

    So you’re out there dating (and sexing) all these other guys meanwhile I’m lonely and miserable and (because I’m an average man and not SUPERman) NOT dating and sexing and then when you’re FINALLY ready for me, I’m supposed to be there, waiting, and GRATEFUL?

    No. No thank you.

    I think at the end of this story you’re going to be the one hugging herself and crying into a pillow, meanwhile I’ve learned to accept be alone and found peace in my life and don’t need you anymore.

  15. 35

    I can give lots of reason why I’ve give up on love…..   because your best self is not the kind of self that society says is the ideal. You aren’t the “right” race, you are “too” smart for a girl, you won’t “stay in your place” and settle for just being arm candy/eye candy, you actually want to have a real relationship rather than just going through the motions of what we’ve been told a relationship is “supposed” to look like. I’ve given up on love because our cultural understanding of love is about anything else but unconditional.

    Women (and men) have been giving up on love for centuries.   Look up the original origins of “romance”… with a society that is even more superficial what makes us think that unconditional love is even possible. We idealize love because it is everything that is the opposite of what our society is. All you can do it love who you are and stop looking to others for this ideal of “love”.

  16. 36

    When I first read the letter, before the comments, I just thought it was a lovely and hopeful reminder of how all people can change and grow, and sometimes need to evolve in some ways to be in a good relationship, that the person who seems “stuck” right now may be the person in 5 or 10 years who makes someone   a wonderful mate.   All the things on the list are things that most people do at one time or another, both male and female, and with luck usually move beyond.   I didn’t see it as a specific list (certainly it didn’t look like any list i’ve ever had about what I was looking for), or a reminder of how I needed to change personally, or how I shouldn’t expect things of others that I can’t deliver.   That all sounds much more quid pro quo than anything I got from it.

    The biggest message I got from it was hope–for us all, not for one gender or another.

    It just sounded to me like a description of how life can change and evolve positively for all of us, and a positive, hopeful reminder that we can all become better people–not an admonishment that we should be, but simply a statement that we can and will be as life takes us along, and that that will lead to love, whether its me or the person I’m waiting for.

  17. 37

    Interesting insight.. I think we all learn from our mistakes, well at least some of us do.. Love takes time, one day everyone will find their true love, it will happen when you least expect it..

  18. 38

    More like I gave up on dating after years of rejection.

  19. 39

    This all BS,   being in love, having relationships is a major waste of time. Being alone is way better and you’ll never need anyone acceptance or approval. You’ll be free whenever   you like to do whatever you like.

  20. 40

    This is a great post and I hope many people benefit from it.   I think, though, that the question of when and whether someone should give up on dating varies greatly by gender.   This is a blog for single women, and so this post is appropriate for them.   I notice, though, that lots of men also comment on this blog and so apparently read it.   I think that one thing that the dating industry lacks is the willingness and ability to tell some men that, yes, they should give up.   It’s a harsh reality and I think it would be better for many men to confront it.       Most men are not of interest to most of the single women out there.   It’s difficult to confront this because our society has a hard time distinguishing between saying that someone is very unlikely to find a partner and saying that someone is worthless.   That’s not the same thing.     Of course we should not wish to proclaim anyone worthless as a human being.   But there’s a great many single men out there who don’t see (or don’t wish to see) that what most single women have in mind is NOT them.   It’s a bitter pill to swallow but I think we’d all be better off if the unsuitable men just accepted their unsuitability and adopted celibacy.     Getting them out of the way, off dating sites where they don’t belong and clog up the works, so to speak, would be better for all of us – including them!   They’d stop wasting their money, their time, and the time of the women on those sites.       How many dating coaches out there or dating self-help book authors have the courage actually to confront these men with the truth: no, there’s not somebody for everyone?     Go live your life, enjoy it, build the other kinds of relationships that are available to you – but romantic intimacy is not for everyone, and it’s not for you.     Once someone has the courage to talk about it, then things start to brighten.   People could draw on what psychologists and counselors advise about the grieving process, for example, to help these men.     Some might wonder why I am not saying that there are women out there also who should accept that they should not be trying to date.   Well, perhaps there are some of them also but if one looks at the gap between what one gender offers   the other gender’s hopes and expectations – men on a whole measure up less to what women want than the other way around, perhaps?   I’m sure that’s open for debate and it would be hard to quantify.   Be those who have studied dating site data know that they’re swamped with men whom women don’t want…less than the other way around.     Those who write about dating and romance need to start telling many men the harsh truth: give up and go away.   This is not for you.

    1. 40.1

      I heard that the population in most countries is approximately 50% men/50% women.   So, if many men give up, there will be many more single women as well.   I’m not sure how guys meet women, but I’ve heard   A LOT of men say that they have trouble getting responses from women on dating sites.

      1. 40.1.1

        Janna, in terms of the demographics I think what you say is true…but the men who should withdraw from the dating scene are the ones that most women *don’t want to date anyway*.   So whether or not there will be lots of single women doesn’t depend on whether or not the group of men I’m referring to are in the dating scene or not.   The point I was trying to make is that there are many, many men who just are not the kind of partner that *most* women want.     Yet they still clog up dating sites and inundate women’s inboxes with unwanted message.     We need to at least get them out of the way so that the women can compete more effectively for the limited supply of quality men that they *do* want.   I found a perfect place to start: my own profile!    I knew the best gift I could give women was to NOT message them and get the heck off that site.   Harsh, but true.   I stopped seeking romantic relationships three years ago.   At first I had to go through what was like a grieving process almost – accepting that romantic partnership just would not be a part of my life.   In time I came to accept it.   I’m not angry at the women who rejected me, nor at any women for wanting what they want.   I just realize the best favor I could give them was to remain socially invisible and stay out of their way, socially, so to speak.   So I wish everyone luck!   More of the undesirable men should just *get out of the way*.   Being undesirable romantically doesn’t make one a bad person.   I’m fit, successful, and happy and do my best to contribute to the betterment of society.   I just have no business trying to date.

        1. SparklingEmerald

          I hope you will re-consider your contention that you “just have no business trying to date”.

          So what if “most women” don’t want to date you ?   It only takes one.

          Most men didn’t want to date me, and I didn’t want to date most men, but I have been happily coupled up for over a year now.

          This weekend one of his friends asked us how long we had been doing online dating and how many people we met before meeting each other.   My sweetheart said that he probably had met about 30 other women before finding me, and I would say that I had at least that many first dates (actual face to face meetings) as well as several e-mail exchanges that didn’t lead to phone calls, and phone calls that didn’t lead to a face to face meet up.   I would say that things were pretty evenly split between me being the rejected one, me being the rejecter and mutual disinterest.   So we both were rejected and did some rejecting because “most” members of the opposite sex didn’t want to date us and vice versa.   None of that matters now, because we are both happy in love now.

          You have just as much right to “clog up” online dating sites and if women have a problem with you being on there, that is just their problem.   If you are respectful with your approaching and don’t hound women who are non-receptive, than women have no VALID gripe against you.

          If you are fit, successful, happy and trying to make the world a better place, you are the type of man someone is looking for.

          EMK mostly coaches women, but he has coached men as well.

          I hope you will consider that, not only for yourself, but for the woman out there who could fall in love with you.


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