Why Do I Still Get Dumped Even When I Settle?



I read your newsletter “Why Chasing Attraction is a Losing Strategy in Love” this morning. It was, of course, spot on and the same thing all of my non-single friends have been telling me for the past 5 years. As a woman in my mid-40’s, I’ve actually come to (mostly) accept that advice.

I met a guy that normally I would not be physically attracted to and decided to give it a chance. Guess what? The dude broke my heart just like the hot men that I normally meet. Turns out he really wanted nothing more than sex. Now I hear from him every couple of weeks when he’s in the mood for a bootie call. Unfortunately, now I’m attracted to him for reasons other than just the physical – which makes me feel worse! I’m attractive, physically fit, have a successful career and a sense of humor. What gives?

Honestly, getting my heart broken by the non-stud was more disappointing and heart-wrenching than getting it stepped on by the hotties. At least with the hotties I know what to expect. Any advice? I feel like I should just give up, stick with the hotties who want only one thing, and realize maybe that is all that is in the cards for women my age. But I’d really like to have a real relationship.


Dear Nancy,

Sorry about your most recent heartbreak and thanks for your kind words about my newsletter. To synopsize what others may have missed, I made the radical suggestion that if you’ve spent your life chasing hot, brilliant men, only to discover that they are arrogant, narcissistic, selfish, emotionally unavailable and commitmentphobic, then it may be time to choose men who are slightly less attractive and intelligent but make up for it in love, devotion, kindness, humor, effort and loyalty.

Sounds like a good trade-off, no?

When you make yourself emotionally vulnerable to a man: it doesn’t guarantee reciprocation.

Anyway, the positive takeaway from your email is that you tried it “my” way and, sure enough, you ended up falling for the guy. Hallelujah! You’ve just proven that it is possible to become attracted and emotionally connected to a man who would not have ordinarily been on your radar. Consider this a great new paradigm for the rest of your love life.

But there’s a catch when you’re making yourself emotionally vulnerable to a man: it doesn’t GUARANTEE reciprocation.

And thus, you’re left with this irrational feeling that it’s better to get used by a hot player than to open up to the possibility of love with a “regular” guy.

Sorry, but that makes no sense whatsoever.

Unless, of course, you take some pleasure in getting used by hot men who have no capacity or desire for commitment. If so, fire away!

Essentially, you’re saying, if I’m GOING to get hurt, it might as well be by a 10.

Um, I guess you could take that philosophy.

I would sooner look at it like this:

Men who are 10’s on paper aren’t always 10’s in relationships.

You’ve established that men who are 10’s on paper aren’t always 10’s in relationships. In fact, many of them are 3s and 4s in terms of consistency, effort, and commitment.

Thus, you’ve deduced that it may be wiser to date a man who is a 6 or a 7 in looks/brilliance, but a 10 in other areas that matter more in the long run.

Sound reasoning.

But men are still men — and just because he’s not Brad Pitt doesn’t mean that he’s PROMISING to fall in love with you, that he’s GUARANTEED to be ready for commitment, that he KNOWS that he wants to build a family at the same time you are.

In other words, 7’s are men, too. Men with reasonable doubts, fears and issues.

You can wall yourself off from all men for fear of getting hurt, but that would accomplish absolutely nothing.

If you go out with a guy for 3 months and he says he’s not ready for a serious relationship, what does that mean?

Does it mean that you were an awful girlfriend? No.

Does it mean that he’s a selfish bastard? No.

Does it mean that you should never date another man like this? No.

All it means is that you invested in a man, the investment didn’t pay off, and now it’s time to find another man who gives you a greater return on investment.

That’s it.

So stop with this silliness that all “lesser” men are obliged to worship you because they’re not Brad Pitt. This is dating. You could have done the same thing to him.

It’s not personal. It’s life.

Join our conversation (58 Comments).
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  1. 1

    I suppose the question you must ask yourself is, “Are the guys who are 10s in looks more, or less likely to be 3s in the relationship department than the guys who are 7s in looks?”   I don’t know the answer to that.   I imagine that “looks” 10s have more options than the 7s, so they have less incentive to be more than “relationships” 3s.   But I could be wrong.

  2. 2
    Karl R

    Nancy said: (original post)
    “Unfortunately, now I’m attracted to him for reasons other than just the physical — which makes me feel worse!”

    I would say this is actually a step in the right direction (even if it doesn’t feel like it). The man had attractive qualities beyond the physical … and you implied the hotties generally don’t.

    Nancy said: (original post)
    “I’d really like to have a real relationship.”
    “I feel like I should just give up, stick with the hotties who want only one thing,”
    “At least with the hotties I know what to expect. Any advice?”

    You’d really like a real relationship. You’ve made one credible attempt at having one, which failed. Now you feel like giving up and going out with the guys who definitely won’t give you what you want, becuase they’re more predictable.

    Evan’s right. That makes no sense. But one thing stands out as more nonsensical than the others:

    You’re giving up after one failure?

    Did you get your successful career by giving up after the first failed interview? Did you become physically fit by sticking with exercises that you knew were already  easy for you?

    If you accomplish anything worthwhile in life, it’s usually because you kept trying after you failed. Why would relationships be any different?

    1. 2.1
      Sherri Solomon

      Thank You for making this situation nice and simple via just a simple analogy. Why the “Expert” couldn’t do the same is beyond me instead of calling somebody silly as if he had a damn attitude with the lady. Shesh.

    2. 2.2

      fantastic response…thank you!


  3. 3

    Lets be realistically here. If your not into that guy who is a 6 like a 10 that means your not genuine here. No guy wants you to settle for him. If you think your settling for him than he can probably tell. Like i said no one wants you to settle for them. Go find someone your 100% happy with.

  4. 4

    Karl R #2
    It sounds like Nancy has made more than “one credible attempt” to have a relationship if she’s been putting herself out there for the past 5 years. The difference is that the last guy was less attractive to her than previous men have been. So she changed her strategy, and still came up short. Her frustration is understandable. On the plus side, she opened herself up to the possibility of a relationship with someone she might have previously ignored.
    Of course, i do agree that she should keep trying. You never know when the next hot, or not-so-hot, man will turn out to be a gem. I hope she won’t settle for less thinking that’s the best she can do at her age.

  5. 5

    Church on that evan!

  6. 6

    When someone is only interested in dating for sex, it usually doesn’t take long to figure that out. So I’m perplexed as to how Nancy keeps getting her heart broken/stepped on by all these guys –   hotties and non-hotties. Is it possible she is building up a relationship in her head before there actually IS one?

    And why is there the presumption that “less attractive” people (as subjective as that is) are somehow different than their more attractive counterparts?   That they  should want serious relationships right off the bat, instead dating casually until they find one who fits? That they should be ‘grateful’ in some way to have someone interested in them at all?

    Nancy might consider this man a “non-stud”, but who’s to say he sees himself that way? And if she fell in love with him because of qualities he possessed beyond good looks, I wonder if some of those qualities were  similar  to the  other  disappointing men she dated. Same contents, different packaging?

  7. 7

    Hi Nancy;
    Sorry for your disappointment.     Like Evan wrote, you are actually moving in a positive direction.   Instead of moving toward a dead end,   falling for guys where there is only a small chance they will fall for you and be what you want………you’ve learned that you can fall for guys where there is a chance of you getting the relationship you want.
    I hope you get over your disappointment soon.     We have all been there and know it is the pits.   TGIF 🙂

  8. 8
    Karl R

    Ruby said: (#4)
    “It sounds like Nancy has made more than ‘one credible attempt’ to have a relationship if she’s been putting herself out there for the past 5 years.”

    If I get involved with a woman whom I believe is primarily interested in sex, I have made a credible attempt at a fling, not a relationship.

    Can a fling turn a relationship? Of course. But you can also stumble into a relationship when you’re not putting yourself out there at all. (It’s happened to me twice.) I can’t claim either is a  high probability  dating strategy.

    It’s possible that Nancy has made additional credible attempts. My perception is based on how she described the relationships with the hotties, not the complete picture.

    Bill said: (#3)
    “No guy wants you to settle for him. If you think your settling for him than he can probably tell.”

    I think you’re wrong about how Nancy and  the “non-stud” saw the situation.

    20 months ago, I found out how old an acquaintance was and decided she was too old for me. Six months later, I changed my mind and decided to try dating her. It’s been 14 months, and I don’t feel like I “settled” with her, nor does she feel like I “settled.”

    The same principle holds true with appearance. As a non-stud, I don’t expect women to be primarily attracted  by my looks. I expect them to be primarily attracted  by other traits, and sufficiently attracted to my looks.

  9. 9

    I would try to put the looks issue to one side – except to note, as Evan pointed out, that you’ve tried something new and worked out for yourself that affection, trust and loyalty can catch up with an open attitude to love.
    Meeting people and trying to forge a stable relationship is risky stuff, but I think, Nancy, you’re underestimating your ability to learn from your experiences, to judge others and their values (there are possibly – with hindsight – some signs that less-than-hot was perhaps not as open to as serious a relationship as you), to validate other people’s right not to feel the same way about us/the level of our compatibility after some time together, and to cope if things don’t turn out to plan. You sound like a strong, sensible and certainly very attractive person. So, I’d try to dust yourself off and put it down to the man just not being up for the same thing as you at the same time, and seeing/not seeing something in your relationship that you couldn’t/could (rightly or wrongly).
    I say this, though, with respect. I assure you, I am still having to bat down my ego and soothe my heart after being dumped (and I can say ‘dumped’ as there was no emotional warning and it was done over email) after a 10 month relationship. The long email outlined all my flaws, in this cool, systematic way and I was given no power over anything, right down to how I was represented/who I was reduced to. It was awful! So I do know how hurtful and humiliating experiences can leave us a little guarded and self-destructive (as would be the case were you to follow your hotties-only approach). But, with time, friendship, and some self-care, I hope we’ll both be up for another go at it!

    (And, yes, my guy was very handsome and intelligent, but had a snake’s tongue on him when under any sort of pressure, real or imagined, and his haughtiness about his desirability to the opposite sex was quite astounding! Funny how we can fail to respond to these things by focusing on the pretty and the potential.)

  10. 10
    Christie Hartman

    Nancy, you have taken the first step in a multi-step process – i.e. you have learned to stop choosing men based on degree of initial attraction. As Evan says, this is not a good strategy for finding a good partner and sends many single people down the wrong path. Now you need to take the next step, which is learn to evaluate what KIND of man he is. How does he treat you after several dates? Is he a gentleman? Some women don’t know the signs of a quality guy, and have to learn the hard way. But once you learn, you won’t go back.
    Whether you date a 10, 7, or a 2, if the guy doesn’t treat you right or doesn’t want a relationship with you, he’s useless to you and it’s time to move on.

  11. 11

    I am in marketing and sales no matter what illusion you might place on yourself dating is very similar to marketing/sales. I love to people watch.
    One of the women I know is 41 she has a very  similar  personality to you because I can tell by your letter. She always thinks she is settling no matter what. If he is x y z she is settling because thats how she views the world. The hardest thing for her is that she can’t do worse than she has done in the past.
    If we lined up with what you technically settle with I bet you  didn’t  really settle at all. You might settle with looks but it was made up in other areas big time.
    Since your in your mid forties the men you passed up when you were younger are looking very very attractive to other women in your age bracket. The high quality ones in your age range are all taken because most women have realize what took you so long to realize.
    The truth you are going to have to find someone that you are the best they can find for you to get the relationship you desire. Thats the truth. The way the average person looks at relationships is about maximizing your returns. Women control when men have sex with you. Men control when is this going to be a relationship.
    For me the biggest turn of is the kind of women who always sees relationships as a gain or negative. The glass is half empty/settling. I find women who always see the glass as half full very attractive.

  12. 12

    Wow!   I could say OUCH Evan, but what you said is truth.   Men are men, just as women are women!   I’ve always dated the “10”‘s, always got the heart break, but once when I was crying over the lastest “10”, feeling sorry for myself.   My mom quietly said to me, “You know, you’ve broken a few hearts in your day too!”   At that moment, all the guys that I stepped on, over, etc. came flooding back to me in my mind.   I immediately dried my tears and realized (like Evan said), I could have done the same thing to him.   It’s about getting back out there, learning from that last situation and putting the knowledge you’ve gained into play.

  13. 13

    I’m shocked at how much people can misunderstand a simple advice. That newsletter was about giving more men a chance so that you can find someone who is more available emotionally and get more chances of finding someone. It never said do this and you will find you love instantly!!!
    And of course, you can’t expect someone to fall in love with you if you think you are settling or that he is not good looking enough so he must love me. Has this girl ever thought how she would feel if someone made her feel like that? Would she want a relationship with a man who thought she was less than what he deserved?

  14. 14

    Simply put: getting dumped by someone you’ve grown attached to is just no fun, not matter who they are —  hot, homely, or somewhere in the middle.   If you got to know them, and you grew to like them, maybe even loved them, it hurts when it ends.   I think some have misinterpreted Nancy, though.   She’s not saying she lowered herself and “let” this guy date her even though she considered him “less than”  her in terms of desirability. No, she’s saying she stretched outside her instant-chemistry comfort zone (taking Evan’s advice), and she fell for the guy.  This has happened to me and, I admit, when rejected, the thought HAS  crossed my mind, “What?  YOU’re dumping ME? YOU’re saying no to THIS?”  Yes, it happens.  But I think the real  disappointment is knowing that you stretched yourself, you got over yourself and your so-called standards, and gave the guy a chance.   But then you still got dumped. And that feels worse because you know you went outside your comfort zone and remained open & flexible, but then it seems like you didn’t get the same in return.  Game over.   So not fair.

    But you’re heading in the right direction, Nancy, and you are definitely not alone.   Keep going.

  15. 15

    Zann, I think you nailed it. 🙂

  16. 16

    So well said Zann. I do not think Nancy is being snobby here. I think she jsut feels like she can’t win either way. She goes for the hot guys and looses, she goes for a more average guy and still looses. And in my own dating experience, even average looking guys sometimes believe they deserve super models. Especially with how men grow up inundated with visual images of all kinds of surgically and photoshopped images of women.

  17. 17

    To Bill #10, I am in the age range of Nancy and I really do hope that you’re not correct in writing that all the high-quality men are already taken. Maybe that’s my problem. 😉 Are all the quality women taken?
    Also, your comment … “The truth is you are going to have to find someone that you are the best they can find for you to get the relationship you desire” is interesting. While I feel that I would be a good match for the right man, I know that he could always find someone better. I think this is the case for most everyone. So what’s a person to do? I could have easily found a man way better than my former husband in physical appearance and success, yet we both fulfilled the relationship we each desired at the time, and for many years thereafter.

  18. 18

    @Christie #11
    What are the signs of a quality man?   A quality woman?

  19. 19
    Karl R

    JerseyGirl said: (#16)
    “in my own dating experience, even average looking guys sometimes believe they deserve super models.”

    There’s no evidence that this is what happened to Nancy. If anything, the evidence points the other way.

    If I reject a woman because of her appearance, it’s at the very begining, and I certainly wouldn’t keep her around as a booty call.

    Zann said: (#14)
    “you know you went outside your comfort zone and remained open & flexible, but then it seems like you didn’t get the same in return.  Game over.   So not fair.”

    Evan has previously mentioned an exercise he does with his private clients: make a list of 20 flaws/traits that might cause someone to not want a relationship with you. (I don’t recommend doing this if you have low self-esteem.)

    Some of those  “flaws” will be assets in some relationships. I don’t want kids, which has led to a couple breakups. But my girlfriend sees it as an asset.

    Some of those “flaws” will be non-issues. I don’t tan and sunburn easily, so I hate hanging out in the sun. My girlfriend doesn’t care.

    But there’s something on that list (or several somethings) that my girlfriend sees as flaws. They’re balanced out by my good points, so she can either choose to accept the bad with the good -or- she can find another boyfriend who has a different set of flaws.

    If my girlfriend doesn’t remain open and flexible, she rules out a relationship with me  … and with every other man on the planet. She can only prevent me from having one relationship (the one  with her). The penalty to me  would be  trivial compared to the penalty she would  impose on herself.

    How is that unfair to me?

    diana said: (#17)
    “While I feel that I would be a good match for the right man, I know that he could always find someone better. I think this is the case for most everyone.”

    Better in some ways, worse in others. In the past four years, I’ve dated five women whom I thought were amazing. I’m in a wonderful  relationship with one, and could have had good relationships with at least three others under other circumstances.

    With each of the women, I can tell you several ways that they’re better than my girlfriend and several ways they’re worse. I can’t find “someone better” than my girlfriend. I could only  find a reasonable tradeoff.

    I’m in a wonderful relationship. Why would I spend several more years of my life just to end up at  an equivalent place to where  I already am?

  20. 20

    JerseyGirl said: (#16)
    “in my own dating experience, even average looking guys sometimes believe they deserve super models.”

    I don’t think this  tendency of guys demanding 10s is that widespread, but it isn’t completely irrational from a guy’s POV.

    How are these beliefs that women have about men compatible?
    1.   Men are obsessed with sex.  
    2.   Men will only date 10s.

    By definition, there is not a 10 for every man.   Therefore it behooves sex-obsessed men  (ie, every one of us) to date whomever  we find compatible and who will have us.   Therefore I doubt that the “men demands 10s” phenomenon is that widespread.

    If you do know a 5 who insists on a 10 what he is doing might be disappointing to you, but it isn’t crazy from his own point of view.

    To generalize, women value compassion, income, and confidence more than men do.   Therefore, a nice, high-earning, decently  self-assured yet  average looking man actually does stand a chance at landing a “supermodel.”  

    Also, not every woman has the same idea of what is attractive.   I am a  5 (I’m 5’7” and don’t have a great build), yet I have had a few girlfriends who were 10s, including my future wife.   I always knew these women  were better looking than I was, but for some reason they saw me as very attractive; perhaps because I am nice, I have my act together financially, and I am very smart.   When I was single I prized intelligence above all and happily went out with many of attractiveness peers  (many of whom rejected me), but had I wanted to only date 10s I could have if I were only patient.  

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