When There’s Nothing To Learn

young blonde woman looking at her side

Last week, I resumed coaching with my client Lian in Switzerland. We’d worked together for a few months, when she needed to take a breather to feel ready to date. Happens all the time. Detoxing is good.

Anyway, Lian came prepared on Wednesday a with three different stories of men who had disappointed her since our last coaching session. One man wanted a no-strings-attached relationship. One man was a close friend and a potential long-distance boyfriend, but he refused to make an effort to see her regularly. The last man offered some sparks, but was bad at follow-through, and never stepped up to become a boyfriend.

“Why does this keep happening to me?” Lian wanted to know. “How come I keep on meeting guys who aren’t ready for relationships?”

As a dating coach, author, and semi-professional know-it-all, I pride myself on being able to come up with answers to the toughest relationship questions. I love helping clients peer into their blind spots and come up with solutions to the very issues that have plagued them for decades. So believe me, I wanted nothing more than to tell Lian that, somehow, she was at the root of her own problems. Such revelations can be really powerful, because if you’re the common denominator in your problems, you have the ability to turn things around. If your problems have nothing to do with you, there’s really nothing to learn.

And that’s what I told Lian. It’s just the bad luck of the draw. She met three guys who weren’t willing to be the kind of boyfriend that she craved. That doesn’t mean she’s done something wrong, and it certainly doesn’t mean she should lose any sleep over them. You win some, you lose some. And freeing yourself up when you’ve done absolutely nothing wrong is essential when it comes to persevering during rough dating stretches.

I love to talk about how I had three of the worst dates of my life in November 2006. One was a set up, one was a pick up, one was an online date. All had some form of social autism where they said things that were astoundingly horrifying. I couldn’t have seen it coming – it was just an unfortunate coincidence. I could have turned it into a blanket statement about how terrible dating is, or how awful women are, or how strange Los Angeles can be when it comes to relationships. In fact, they were just three dates gone awry. Nothing more. Nothing less. I let go of my anger quickly and went back to the drawing board.

I met my wife two months later.

So today, I want you to let go of things that you haven’t done wrong and give yourself a break.

Sometimes, there’s nothing to learn.

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  1. 1

    This post is exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you, Evan.

  2. 2

    I agree with Kristin. This post was just what the doctor ordered. Yeah, there have been some dates I’ve been on recently where I realized I really should have listened to my instincts and not gone out with that person. Live and learn. But, oh boy, have there been some doozies that I just couldn’t have seen coming no way, no how and sometimes that really knocks the old confidence. It helps to have a reminder not to give up. It only takes one, after all! One not-crazy one, that is. 😉 lol
    .-= FrogPrincess´s last blog ..To Plan Or Not To Plan =-.

    1. 2.1
      Mikko Kemppe

      I join Kristin and FrogPrincess,

      Sometimes it is really good to look at the big picture to put our dating experiences in to perspective. Nice advice Evan!
      .-= Mikko Kemppe´s last blog ..Facebook: Is It Hurting Or Helping Your Relationships? =-.

  3. 3

    Thanks Evan! I was starting to get so indescribably frustrated with the dating scene. I’ve had a bunch of first/ second dates in the last three months with all kinds of guys and not even one of them was worth keeping around. In awe, I asked myself ‘What are the odds?’ ‘What the F..is wrong with me?’ But then I read your blog and it’s basically saying, have you consider the posibility that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you? You’re kind, you’re smart, you’re pretty, it’s just that maybe none of them are meant to be yours. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with them either!.. and those guys will be great partners to somebody else. I know it’s very hard not to get traumatized by all the bad experiences but i think you just have to be patient, remain positive, stay true to yourself no matter what and NEVER give up hope. I wish everybody here (including myself) the best of lucks!!!

    1. 3.1

      I think part of it is, if we think there is something to learn from then it wasn’t a wasted experience and we don’t want to think it was all in vain.

  4. 4
    Curly Girl

    “All had some form of social autism where they said things that were astoundingly horrifying.”

    Haha!! Very funny sentence!!! I believe I’ve been on both sides of this one.

  5. 5

    I love everything about this post. Sometimes it really *is* just that simple.

  6. 6

    There is a great Sex and the City episode about how sometimes there’s nothing to be learned from an encounter. It’s amazing that women often take these scenarios to put the blame on themselves, but men don’t seem to. Maybe we should take a page from that book 🙂
    .-= Honey´s last blog ..Random Thoughts On A Pickup Convention =-.

  7. 7

    Exactly honey… it seems that women are always the ones saying “Is it me” and men go straight for… “Wow, she was a piece of work… NEXT”

    Just wanted to chime in with the other posters, that I too, needed to read this today. Yesterday was the darkest of days when I realize the string of men I’m currently talking to are so completely wrong for me and yet, I am holding on and not cutting them loose because I’m lonely.

    And yet, amidst the players and guys hanging out hoping I’ll just eventually sleep with them… there was a diamond in the rough, complete doll that I dated a few weeks ago that I whole-heartedly blew it with (drank too much wine… behaved badly all around, etc)…. probably due largely in part that I seem to refuse to cut loose the ones that truly are a wrong fit and hanging out with me for the wrong reasons… that I missed my chance and didn’t recognize one of quality that came along and was waiting for a girl who would bring her best foot forward… behave appropriately on a date, etc. Huge, painful learning experience.

    Anyways…. it’s been a dark dark week in the dating world and I needed this blog. Thanks.

  8. 8

    Amen. Good timing is right. I just this weekend found myself saying “No thanks” to a guy after meeting him once. There was nothing “wrong” with him; in fact, he was great on paper, great in our emails, but then only so-so in a phone conversation, where I was the one keeping the conversation alive. I was 95% sure that meeting him was not going to result in any surprising sparks, but I kept an open mind and went anyway. Nope, no surprises. But I gotta say it does still amaze me that I run into this so often, and I have to believe guys run into the same thing with lackluster meetups with women. These days I ‘m more pragmatic and have much less guilt. I don’t question myself, wondering whether I didn’t try hard enough, or maybe I expect too much, or fretting over whether I’ve crushed this poor guy’s ego. Instead I remind myself — as someone has already mentioned — it only takes one.

  9. 9

    That is a hard lesson to learn, but very liberating when you do. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my share of blame in when a situation has gone awry, but there have been a couple of times where I thought about it and realized that it was what it was. Sometimes the gods are just crazy like that. You let it go and move on.

  10. 10

    I think that a lot of guys are just out hunting. Guys are hunters. They hunt for all kinds of things, but mainly for sex. They hang around until they know yes I will get it, or no I won’t. Those are the kind of guys most guys are unfortunatly. Problem with that is, that as soon as they get it, it’s over for them. We all hunt I guess, it’s just that the good guys are interested in more than just satisfying their lust. I feel for all of you younger women who just want to go out with same age guys, and you should mind you, I’m not saying that you should try older guys, but the fact is, the younger the man, the more testosterone he has running through his system, etc., and the more they are trying to prove their manhood – especially in bed. Find a guy, through several emails and phone calls first (good screening is required here of course), that doesn’t feel he has to prove his manhood by using women for conquest. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to talk about stuff like that beforehand…a little. Most guys validate themselves through women, I know I did until it was pointed out to me what I was doing. It’s hard to seperate that feeling of “I’m on top of the world” a man gets through sex (yes it is very much an emotional thing to men) that really does make a man feel like a man, and getting his sense of being a man not from a woman, or what happens in the bedroom, but through your own means, seperate from a woman. In another words, a real man doesn’t need a woman to make him a man. Worth remembering.

  11. 12

    Totally agree, sometimes you have a bad run. I think of dating like sports…it goes in streaks and runs, so sometimes you’re on fire and have a bunch of great dates, sometimes not so much. Keep everything in perspective. I always keep in mind that real chemistry and a good match is RARE, which means that the majority of your dates aren’t going to go anywhere. Bank the experience and be sure to give value also.
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..Pick Your Path And Take It To The Max =-.

  12. 13

    I’ve come to believe that I have to meet many men before I find one that may be a keeper. There’s a great dating/relationship book written over 20 years ago called “A Fine Romance” by Judith Sills, which I highly recommend. She has the perfect line for these types of situations which is “Don’t take it personally”. You never know why someone responds to you a certain way, and it may very well have nothing to do with you. Hard to accept, because we always want answers, but so often true.

  13. 14

    This is funny – also a good topic. I think we’ve all been there before. (I know I have) lol, and it can be so discouraging, but I’ve learned one thing: To make darn sure to find my own happiness first-to be happy with my own company first of, then only can I attract the things (or people) that are in harmony with my intentions. I know, I know…it’s a little spiritual…but it works. I wrote an article on my blog about “Happiness Begins with You!” If we don’t make this happen first, we tend to attract all the wrong people into our lives. Take a peek it might give you a healthier perspective 🙂

    Relationship Advice From Penny.com

  14. 15

    I think there is a difference between your client’s situation and yours. You had three bad dates. It appeared from your comment that she had three guys that she was interested in that did not follow through. There is a difference. No, she can not control how they acted and how things turned out but if you are interested in someone and they are JNTIY, there are feelings of rejection.

    On another note, there are many man of different ages out hunting for sex. Sometimes a guy (who is not normally a hunter) will meet a new woman and realize she is not his type but decide not towaste the effort and try to get her in bed. It just is not that clear who are the hunters and the non hunters IMO.

  15. 16

    I just recently went through the same thing. I started dating this guy and sparks were flying everywhere. Things were progressing really well and he decided to take his picture off the dating website. We talked about it, and then I did too. After doing so, things started to get very serious when he suddenly decided he wasn’t ready for a relationship (having just got out of a 16-year relationship which ended a year ago…but really ended less than 8 months prior to our starting to date.)

    I took it very hard, but decided to keep dating. About that time, another guy I dated prior to getting serious with the above guy (I actually met them both in the same week), contacted me. I had really liked him also, but sometimes you have to make a choice. So we started dating again and things were going very well. But when things started to get more serious, he took a trip and ended up hooking up with his ex-girlfriend (whom he’d been with for 3.5 years and said they’d been broken up for a year…but it was really only 5 months prior to our starting to date.)

    Aside from deciding that men apparently use dogs years in determining how long it’s been since a previous relationship broke up, I’ve been taking it pretty hard and blaming myself for the demise of both relationships. How come I keep on meeting guys who aren’t ready for relationships? What am I doing wrong?

    In the end, I have come to the same conclusion that Evan did…that it was a run of bad luck. The only caveat being…since both my parents were emotionally unavailable/detached people, I think I have a tendency to be attracted to these types of men since that’s what is familiar to me. I’m working on that issue with my counselor so I can hopefully do a better job in the initial weeding out process rather than finding out only after the guy decides things are getting too serious and he’s not ready.

  16. 17

    to Sherell @ 17
    It just is not that clear who are the hunters and the non hunters IMO.
    I think in a way it is very simple: the non-hunters will patiently and respectfully wait until you are ready and the non-hunters will push things along.
    And YOU are in charge and it all about YOUR timetable.

    But even this rule is not waterproof!

    My story: I fell in love with a guy who was willingly to wait and treated me like a princess, I slept with him and after two months it appeared that his goal was my money because he had problems with paying his mortgage on his own after his divorce. AND I found out he was unfaithfull to me ALL the time.

    A massive disappointment, a big smack on my ego and what to learn??

  17. 18
    Relationship Advice From Penny

    Casey…I just read your story here and I’m sorry to hear about the bad streaks, but you should be so proud of yourself for even taking the initiative to better yourself and remaining positive. I recently wrote an article that somehow I know will help you understand some of these guys who are afraid to commit. It’s a lengthy one so I won’t copy and paste it here LOL.. But it’s on my site: Relationship Advice From Penny.com
    .-= Relationship Advice From Penny´s last blog ..You finally found the right person, but why are you still afraid to commit? =-.

  18. 19

    The quickest way I get over dating frustration is to have a really good date where I feel like I connected with someone.

    The second quickest way I get over dating frustration is to have an “okay” date.

    I think if you can believe at an emotional/gut level that bad dates are just the luck of the draw and that has nothing to do with you, then you will not get *as* frustrated.

    Reading this blog has helped much in that regard.

    I got to see how many other people have the frustrating dating experiences I have. It is not about the universe picking on me, personally. If I didn’t see that I would have taken all of the setbacks personally and I would have been very upset instead of just frustrated.

  19. 20

    Ok , but the question I really need answered is where to find the right person?
    I mean location wise. I am currently living in Australia , but a genre of venue or which social connections to use would be the best advice I could get right now.

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