Where Are All the Cute, Stable, Successful, Funny, Interesting Men?

A woman searching

I hope you don’t find me to sound conceited or picky, but anyway I am hoping you can help me here. I am a 34-year-old single mom with a beautiful one year old daughter from a previous relationship that didn’t work out because my ex BF didn’t want the baby. I have never been married.

I am bothered by the fact that I’ve never been married. I SO desire to get married within the next couple of years or so, but I want it to be with the right person. I wish I was married about 5 years ago or so.   Like virtually all women, I would like to have my “princess day” of getting married before I go completely gray and I look too old. I am also very worried that if I don’t get married soon enough while my baby is young, she will never have a father figure in the picture whom she can comfortably bond with.

I believe I am reasonably attractive and on the “cute” side. I am five feet tall, a little over 100 pounds, and have very long dark hair.   But, to this day I have a hard time finding the right guy. I don’t feel any chemistry when I’m not with a guy I find equally attractive.   Sure, of course personality counts, but I just don’t feel comfortable with kissing a guy whom I don’t find attractive.

To sum things up, over the years I’ve found that the guys who are interested in dating me are either too “geeky” looking and unattractive, too old, or, if they ARE my age and I find them attractive– they don’t seem stable in life and don’t have a good job OR they’re just plain conceited jerks (like my baby’s father). I’m not kidding. I’ve been trying online dating with several different sites, but that hasn’t worked out for me.

Why am I having such a hard time in finding someone who is mutually interested in me whom I find attractive, who holds a steady decent job AND has a decent personality?   I don’t think I’m asking for too much here, or am I? Should I force myself to be in a relationship with someone whom I don’t find terribly attractive and I don’t feel any chemistry with (whom I just don’t want to be “intimate” with?).


Dear Paula,

First of all, I want to validate all of the women who feel just like Paula does. I know it’s not always easy to hear the other side of things — or even consider that there IS another side of things — but we’re here to try to get down to a core truth. This isn’t about right and wrong; this is about effective and ineffective. If your goal is to get married and find a father for your baby, you always have to keep that in mind.

If you want someone stable and kind and attractive and tall and personable and age-appropriate and financially well-off, and you can’t seem to find him? Maybe you need to compromise on SOMETHING.

And I think that’s where the Lori Gottlieb critics went a bit astray. See, if your primary desire is to lead an exciting, passionate life, then, well, you go, girl. But if you want someone stable and kind and attractive and tall and personable and age-appropriate and financially well-off, and you can’t seem to find him? Maybe you need to compromise on SOMETHING. You can transpose the world “settle” for compromise, if you like, but we’re talking about the same thing here: giving up one thing to get something else…

My girlfriend is compromising by dating an opinionated, Jewish atheist who spends way too much time working, talking about ex’s, and complaining about all the things wrong in his life. What she gets in return is a guy who is pretty self-aware, always trying to get better, has a good work ethic and excellent family values. She could spend her time lamenting that I’m not athletic enough, cheery enough, or free enough to take vacations at the drop of a hat, but she doesn’t. She has compromised — and, some might say, settled. After all, there are probably some tall, attractive, wealthy, Catholic men looking for a super-cool woman. And yet she chooses me.

I know, Paula, that you feel that you’re talking about something else. You’re talking about men who are old, unattractive, boring, unstable — dealbreakers all. But as I tell my clients, you can be as choosy as you like, as long as you don’t choose yourself out of all your options.

An example from the other side of the aisle:

I once had a wealthy 56-year-old client who wanted a woman 20 years younger who not only didn’t want kids but could pick up and travel on a dime on his private jet. This means she can’t have a serious job, or be too tethered to her friends, and must be willing to move to his area. Oh yeah, and he’s not looking for a trophy — intelligence, class and poise are a must. There’s nothing wrong with what this man wants, but when he factors in:

How few 35-year-olds truly want 56-year-olds

How few 35-year-olds don’t want kids/don’t have kids

How few intelligent women don’t have careers or deep roots in their hometowns

Guess what? There’s virtually NO one left for this guy to choose from. So what do you tell this successful, intelligent, youthful man to do? Say it with me, ladies: COMPROMISE! Go out with an older woman. Give a little on the kids thing. Accept the fact that an intelligent woman might have a career and can’t travel spontaneously. This seems REALLY obvious from the outside, but hey, this guy REFUSES to settle. The heart wants what the heart wants. It just seems pretty clear that starting with such a narrow dating pool makes it next to impossible to find someone compatible.

So ask yourself — are you being reasonable with your desires/demands? It’s not my place to say. But play with the percentages and you’ll see. You might think you’re really open until you realize that 99% of the men in the world DON’T QUALIFY for a first date with you. The charismatic cute guys are emotionally vacant players with money issues, the geeky guys are too bland to be kissable. This is YOUR observation. These are YOUR judgments.

Thus, you have two choices — lower the bar — or steadfastly hold out for that 1% – and hope that coincidentally, that 1% feels that you’re in HIS 1%.

We want everything — and want to give up nothing to get it.

As always, there’s not a right and wrong. But if you really want to be married and find a father figure for your baby, you might have to give up something to get it.

It just seems that no one wants to compromise. We want everything — and want to give up nothing to get it. If you’re a lawyer, refusal to compromise is a terrible negotiating technique. If you’re looking for lasting companionship, it’s probably even worse.

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  1. 1

    To Evan’s point Paula, I think I’m a fit, good-looking, intelliegent 38 yo father of 2 young boys. And I love kids and would be happy to be a father figure to your daughter. But, because I pay $800-$1000/month in child support I have trouble making ends meet. So, you’d ditch me. I do wish you the best of luck however. “And here we are again. The door is closed behind us. And a long road lies ahead. Where do we go from here?”

  2. 2

    This is going to be blunt. Evan’s far, far kinder than I’m going to be but hey, he’s the pro at this.

    Paula, IMO, needs a serious reality check. A general observation about her note to Evan – for someone who wants to be married so badly, there’s absolutely nothing in there about what she offers to a potential husband, besides she thinks she’s attractive. I there is a big list of “I wants’ though.

    First, she’s 34 with a child. Having a child will rule out many, if not most men. More importantly regarding her child, she writes, ” . . . from a previous relationship that didn’t work out because my ex BF didn’t want the baby.”

    How is he entirely to blame for the child? Let’s look at that. Last I heard, there were approximately 11 different forms of birth control available to women even morning after pills. She apparently didn’t choose even one. Second, ex-boyfriend could have or could not have used a condom. It could have slipped, broken, etc. (FYI a condom’s a backup, not a primary birth control method). So she had several choices prior to conception: (1) use some type of birth control; (2) have sex; (3) not have sex. Her ex had similar choices, but not nearly the breadth of birth control choices. Not to have a whole pro-choice argument, but after conception, she also has the choice of an abortion also. He has zero say in that decision.

    So to recap – she chose to have sex without birth control, without taking the morning after pill, and choosing not to have an abortion. So she wanted a baby all along. He didn’t want the baby, something she likely knew all along. But he’s to blame for the failed relationship? Puh-leeze. I think she needs to examine her choices regarding this and how that is a turn off to potential suitors. She seems incapable of accepting responsibility regarding this.

    Paula also wrote:

    “I am also very worried that if I don’t get married soon enough while my baby is young, she will never have a father figure in the picture whom she can comfortably bond with.”

    Why is that some other man’s responsibility? It is ex-boyfriend’s. I suspect, but the letter does not indicate, that Paula would want the prospective husband too adopt baby, with all of those legal entanglements & responsibilities.

    Why is Paula having a hard time finding men acceptable to her tastes? I suspect men she would like are staying far away from her, as well they should.

    My opinion.

    1. 2.1

      Excuse me, but is this a bashing board or a supportive board?? sounds like you have issues

      1. 2.1.1
        Anne Bo

        haha haaaa…let facts be known. “Can’t have your cake and eat it”. The point is…..accepting responsibilities and infact calling a spade a spade an not a big spoon.




    2. 2.2

      Some of ur observations r so terribly wrong. No form of birth control is 100%. There r women who have gotten pregnant faithfully taking birth control. Both the morning after pill and abortion has certain risks (medically, physically and emotionally) that most men r not concerned with, but 4 them is an easy out. 4 women, not so much.


      Now if more men considered the women they r with as much as the women consider the men, the world would b a better place. But most men r 2 selfish and self-centered 2 think that way, because they want their cake and eat it 2.

      Consider the things u say b4 u say. I don’t would think u don’t have 2 do many friends especially women. I’m just saying!

      1. 2.2.1
        The Voice of Reason

        Women don’t consider men at all, thus why she’s 34 and still looking for one. She wants a dreamy man, who is also financially stable, who can make her laugh, who has also found business success. What does she have to offer in return? Sloppy seconds and a child from another man.

        Let me highlight this as well, she considers HERSELF attractive but money says that OPINION was formed from her own selfish tendencies and her friends gassing her up.

        She goes on to talk about how the only men that approach her are “too geeky” and “not attractive enough”, yet I say again, what does she offer to a man? Nothing. She wants a Christian Grey but can’t accept that, that man is a one in a million and would rather have ANYONE else than a 34 year old mother with another man’s child.

        She “desires” to have a “princess day” because she’s selfish, she only cares about herself, even though she has a kid, it’s all about me me me; which is why she will never find a man, she’s too self absorbed to put aside her own self inflated ego for more than 10 minutes to see her situation as what it really is, her own fault.

  3. 3

    Vino. Please don’t think you have to hold anything back. Let us know how you feel.

  4. 4

    She is asking why there are a dearth of cute, stable, successful, funny, interesting guys for her. Perhaps it has to do with her, not them. Evan is far more diplomatic than I, to be sure. I am pointing out obvious issues I see as a guy evaluating a woman as marriage material. I’m pointing out issues an intelligent guy would look at before deciding to legally get tied up with this person via marriage.

  5. 5

    I agree with Vino 100%. He’s blunt, but spot on.

    Also, Paula, you sound desperate. I’m just trying to be honest, girl.

    “I SO desire to get married within the next couple of years or so”

    “I would like to have my “princess day” of getting married before I go completely gray and I look too old” [I would never go out with any woman who calls it a “princess day”]

    ” I am also very worried that if I don’t get married soon enough while my baby is young, she will never have a father figure”

    Paula, in addition to your desire to get married yesterday (which I can guarantee you most guys are finding a turn off, whether you are hiding it or not), the child is scaring lots of guys off. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to be a single mother. I wish you the best of luck. But you have to be realistic: the child is going to be a deal-breaker for 99.99% of the cute, funny, successful guys that don’t already have kids.

    My suggestion would be to look for men that have kids already. Are there dating sites for parents? There has to be. Also, you should really look closer at the guys who ARE going out with you. Are you being too harsh on them?

    PS: Before I get accused of being a misogynist, let me say that lots of guys have way too strict guidelines for dating, too.

  6. 6

    TMan wrote:
    My suggestion would be to look for men that have kids already. Are there dating sites for parents? There has to be. Also, you should really look closer at the guys who ARE going out with you. Are you being too harsh on them?

    This is constructive advice and answering her question.

    PS: Before I get accused of being a misogynist, let me say that lots of guys have way too strict guidelines for dating, too.

    Misogyny is fearing or hating women. I don’t see expressing the truth that single,attracive, childless and stable men would prefer the same in women plus to be misogynistic.

  7. 7

    I am a man who loves children, but will not date a woman with a child with a living father.

    In my life I’ve been such a nice guy that people have taken advantage of me. People have used me for all kinds of things. I don’t want to be used as poor kid’s father figure or financial support.

    Paula dated a jerk, and now someone like me is expected to take responsibility for the jerk’s mistake? I’m sorry Paula, but it’s too late. You can’t use a flashy guy for the baby making and then expect a nice, soft guy to be there for the parenting.

    Say I become a stepdad . . . I put in time, love, and money into my stepkids . . . the wife and I get divorced . . . the stepchild is nothing to me now.

    If the woman were a widow or if I had my own children it would be different, but I’m sorry, I don’t want to date someone who has that much more baggage than I have.

  8. 8

    In Vino veritass. 🙂

    Steve, you make me laugh!

    But y’all must be really young. Paula is 34. People in their 30s, men and women, have children. That’s the main decade for raising them. So she’ll find lots of guys –never married, divorced, separated–who are willing to consider a relationship with a woman with a child. It’s more complicated, but when you have a kid (or are contemplating it) you realize just how complicated life gets. (Just wait till it’s your turn! Ha!) Beyond 30 you won’t find many people for whom kids isn’t an issue on the dating front, whether they already have them, want them, or don’t want them.

    And since when is a condom a “backup” form of birth control? Keep dreaming, and good luck with that as a strategy. We’ll put you on the AIDS-prevention lecture circuit in Africa. Or in our U.S. high schools, where the rate of sexually communicated diseases is skyrocketing. (You must have been speaking with Elliot Spitzer…)

  9. 9

    Compromise is a double-edged sword and requires two people to make things work. Each person brings something to the table and in turn leaves something behind. Choosing only based on your own needs is not compromise and that goes to the guys who won’t date women with children as well. Are they not doing the same thing. Making the same judgement?


  10. 10

    Also, Evan, with all due respect to your position — there is another option. And that is NOT settling. Going for the “all or nothing.” Choosing a life partner is a big deal and it is much healthier and happier to be alone, I believe, than to be in a bad relationship. Our society is changing very quickly, and our intimate relationships are being strongly affected by this. 51% of adults in the U.S. are single. Only 25% of households are the traditional mom-pop-kids kind of home. Divorce still hovers around 50%. If you divorce or are widowed, you are more likely to be unhappy and unhealthy than if you had never married. More women graduate from college these days than do men. And last Vino heard, there were 11 different types of birth control available to women. (Other sources of my stats: recent news articles and the book “Singled Out.”) If you have a thriving career and lots of fantastic, supportive relationships outside of a conventional partnership, why would you jeopardize all of the good stuff for something not so great?

  11. 11

    Paula: Whether you’re looking for a job, a husband or a good meal, having time constraints means you are going to have to compromise. Also, it’s hard not to come across as desperate – even if you think you don’t – when you feel the clock ticking.

    Personally, I know and have dated plenty of cute, stable, intelligent, downright amazing men so I’m always a little suspicious of women who say they can’t find any. They may not be tall, making six-figures or the same race/ethnicity/religion as you but they are definitely out there.

    At some point, you have to look at the kind of guys you attract as the kind of guys you’re able to attract. If I were you, I would decide the three qualities that are most important to have in a mate, and then give anyone who is open to dating someone with a small child and has those three qualities a real chance.

  12. 12
    mrs. vee

    Paula, I would have to agree with one comment above that you do sound disproportionately focused on what you stand to gain in a relationship, without balancing out your perspective by thinking about what value you will add to your partner’s life. But it could just be that you were concentrating solely on areas where you feel frustrated about not getting what you want.

    I do agree with Evan that you should look outside your typical range of men to find your soulmate. To be completely honest, I feel most of my still-single friends have been limiting themselves with disastrously superficial criteria. These are sexy, attractive, warm, funny women, mid-30’s and up, who are bewildered and, frankly, freaked out by their singledom. Still, they insist on restrictions like he needs to have a certain look or he has to carry himself a certain way or else they can’t feel attaction for the guy.

    True, you need to feel attracted to the man you’re with. But attraction is a strange animal. A lot of people claim that they can’t help being attracted to what they’re attracted to, but can’t attraction be influenced by a friend’s opinion, or a flirtatious overture from someone who wasn’t initially on your radar?
    Have you ever spent any amount of time with a person you’re not originally drawn to, but who one day makes an endearing face or tells a good story …or skillfully takes command of a situation and, suddenly, a crush is born? Those’re examples of how attraction can unconsciously develop independent of the instant swoon effect or any running checklist you may keep in your head.

    Experiences and inner values inform what we’re attacted to. Those two things aren’t static, so why should what you’re attracted to be forever unchanging?

    I think you’d be doing yourself a favor by keeping an open mind about whom you date. Good luck!

  13. 14
    mrs. vee

    And back to the topic of my single, hard-to-please girlfriends – not that I think this is necessarily Paula – but the common mistake I see among them is that, in evaluating a man as dating material, each one judges a guy from the standpoint of “what it looks like” to a third party to be with him, fixating on his outward appearance or what his job will sound like when introducing him around. They begin to confuse external opinions with the things that are genuinely important to them, often sacrificing deeply held values for the sake of a positive fa ade.

    For them, a relationship serves the dual purpose of validating their self-esteem, in addition to fulfilling the basic human need for togetherness. And that’s where it becomes tough to find Mr. Right. Locating a decent, reasonably attractive partner with whom you could really find happiness and come to love? That’s a whole lot easier if the guy doesn’t have to solve your insecurities too.


    Also, to someone else’s point above about how desperation is detectable and a turn-off, even if a woman is trying to hide it, that is true. But let’s face it, it’s tough not to feel a sense of urgency when you feel there are biological and societal imperatives making you feel like you failed if not paired off by a certain time.

    A woman isn’t wrong for feeling afraid of ending up single or alone. That said, she does need to master that fear. That’s why I am a huge advocate of practicing yoga. I know that sounds like it came out of nowhere. What does yoga have to do with finding love, right?

    Well, yoga teaches you to be calm even when doing something extremely difficult or uncomfortable. If you are a woman who is freaked out by the incessant ticking of her clock along with the seemingly scorched earth of the dating scene, try this: Go to any non-restorative yoga class. Move into a challenging pose (under your teacher’s guidance, of course) and then just breathe. Keep your face soft while you’re asking your body to endure the challenge. Accept your body’s limits and be open to any eventuality.

    Right there is the best approximation I can offer for how a woman should approach her romantic life if she’s feeling anxious about it. That’s how one “rehearses” making peace with a painful or uncertain situation. I do believe men can tell when a woman really belongs to herself, and find that quality very alluring.

  14. 15

    I’m surprised Evan didn’t mention this, but I would recommend that Paula see someone for counseling. The whole second paragraph reeks of underlying emotional issues that need to be delved into. Why is she bothered that she’s never been married? Why does she wish she was already married? Why does she want her “princess day” and why does she need to look young when it happens? Why does she need a marriage to validate herself?

    Basically, Paula needs to figure out what a wedding and/or marriage represents for her, and then find a way to accomodate that within her current lifestyle. Building a strong social network of friends and family can not only help make her more content, but provide male figures for her daughter as well. By trying to fill the gaps in her own life, she will be happier as she currently is, which will also be more attractive to potential mates.

  15. 16
    Kat Wilder

    Paula sure has it right when she say she wants to be married to the “right person.” What she doesn’t have together is what “right” means.

    No where does she mention the really important things, like her potential husband’s integrity, how he views the world and his place in it, what he stands for, etc. It’s really great if that comes in a package that’s attractive with a good job and a good personality. But he only has the job, personality and looks and nothing else … well, I wouldn’t settle either.

    It isn’t about settling; it’s about being clear about what you truly want. They’re not one and the same. And then you just eventually become another divorce statistic one day down the road …

  16. 17


    If it isn’t clear, a condom isn’t a birth control device for a woman. It’s for a man. I mentioned that women have upwards of 11, count ’em, 11, forms of birth control, not including abstinence or having ‘tubes tied.’ (Don’t know the medical term). Men have 3 – abstinence, condom, or vasectomy. So in brief, women have 11 more choices before even choosing to have sex. A condom is simply a backup to those 11 choices, particularly since its failure/success rate is much less than most other forms available to women. My point is if both parties don’t want kids, she is responsible for using some birth control form also, not just him using a condom (read: she is responsible for using it too). Using a condom in addition to (pill, IUD, depoprevarin, etc..) is the best birth control, if sex is to occur. I don’t get where you went with your final paragraph.

    LS has an interesting post. However, her point about guys not compromising in refusing to date women with kids from other men may be true, but I think it isn’t. It’s only true for women who refuse to date men with kids (apples to apples) & no other comparison is valid. The same reasons apply o each sex – becoming the new de facto father (or mother if roles reversed), paying for someone else’s responsibility (Paula’s ex), becoming legally obligated to the child – all of these things are factors in deciding not to marry someone with children from another man or woman. Not to mention that in the dating phase, many people do not want their social lives to revolve around someone else’s child’s soccer practice, band practice, etc….

  17. 18

    Vino-sity was right about one thing: if a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant, she should take birth control into her own hands and take her own precautions. In that sense, a condom could be considered a Tier 2 level of protection.

  18. 19
    Single Mom Seeking


    This advice is coming from the single mom of a seven-year-old… and I’ve been parenting on my own — like you — since she was seven months old.

    Please, please try to separate your need for a romantic, loving, committed partner from your need for a male role model for your daughter. Male role models are out there, and as you say, it’s important to find them for your daughter. How about her Grandpa? an uncle?… She can play a sport. She can take karate.

    Try to separate your daughter’s needs from your own. Once you do that, maybe you’ll begin to attract different men. I’d love to hear what happens! Wishing you the best.

  19. 20


    I am actually older than Paula. I am finding many women Paula’s age who have never been married and who are childless.

    Paula and I are in within each others age range for dating.

    If I got to know somebody who turned out to be a wonderful human being who happened to have kids, I wouldn’t let having kids stop me from having a relationship with her.

    However, if I am meeting new people from scratch, I will choose the cute petite 30 something without children over the cute petite 30 something with children.

    A woman with a child has responsibilities that (rightfully) come first. Less time and attention available for me.

    I take it for granted that women who would be a match for me would consider creating a new life to be a very big deal. That means a woman who exercised reasonable judgment before entering a committed long term relationship which lasted several years before a child was born and was a good enough fit to last a number of years after the child’s birth.

    When I come across a single woman with a very YOUNG child that tells me such a quality relationship did not exist and that is likely a reflection of the woman’s judgment.

    That will not be true for everyone, but as has been mentioned by both genders on this blog ad nausea single people use “profiling” to avoid getting entangled with people who are not right for them.

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