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).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 21
    Chocolate Brownie

    No matter the guy’s “attractiveness” it how Nancy plays the game!!!   Why give men the one thing they want so soon?   How about no sex without a relationship?   Better yet, Nancy try this one:   “I am celebate and would really like to be intimate only with the one who is looking for a serious long-term relationship.”   Nancy, this would give you the change, if the guy sticks around, to see what kind of man he is, if he is qualified or not.

  2. 22
    Christie Hartman

    @Steve (#18) “What are the signs of a quality man?   A quality woman?”
    How much time you got? 🙂 As it pertains to this situation, a quality man is one who treats you well and wants a relationship with you. I mentioned something to this effect in my last paragraph. Seeking out booty calls does not fit either part of this definition. As far as a quality woman goes, I won’t go into that here for the sake of brevity.
    At first, Nancy’s post seems to be about picking a 10 versus a 6. If that’s all one cares about, then yes, getting dumped by the 6 is more annoying. But what Nancy really wants is to find a “quality” guy who treats her well and wants a relationship with her. And picking men based on how hot you think they are isn’t a good way to do that. The same thing applies to men.

  3. 23

    Personally, I think Zann hit it on the head:    Our girl Nancy changed her standards, hoping she’d get a better result. She dropped her guard,  took a risk, allowed herself to feel something for someone she wouldn’t have normally given a chance, and got treated JUST as badly as before.   It’s humiliating, and SO not right, but it happens. I’m not surprised she’s reverted to  “the evil you know” thinking.

    Here’s what I have to say about her attachment to this guy:   It’s probably not him you’re attached to, babe. It’s the potential he represents. If he’d worked out to be the good guy you’d hoped, your faith in a new way would have been justified, right?    

    The  problem with  learning new skills is, you have to make mistakes before you really get it down. This dude isn’t your end result, he’s  part of the learning process.  Getting the same result with different data tells you SOMETHING’s going on. Do you relate to this dude the way you did the 10’s?  Are your expectations for relationships the same, or different?     Look for common elements and see what you end up with.

    Good luck!

  4. 24

    Chocolate Brownie said: (#21)

    “Why give men the one thing they want so soon?”

    This assumes sex is all men want.   Oh, it’s up there alright, and men DO frequently treat sex as recreation, not as an expression of love.      

    Even so,  my male friends tell me that’s definitely NOT all they’re looking for.   I believe them. I don’t believe most of them have a clue how to go about finding it, or how to recognize it when they do.  

    I’ve been wrestling with the “when to give it up” question too. Frankly, I take it as given that  with most guys,  the desire is there if he’s paying attention to me.   Whether he follows through  depends on a whole slew of other factors–many of which I have no control over.  If a guy wants to be with me, he’ll make it happen, regardless of whether I’ve had sex with him or not.  
    What I do have control over is me. I decide whether sex is going to be an option. I make my rules of engagement clear, then proceed however feels right, given the circumstances.  I DON’T invest past the casual stage  no matter how much I like a guy–he’s got to prove himself to me if he wants more.  Biggest proof: he makes a real effort and his actions match his words.

    It’s not always easy, and it’s certainly not “romantic” but it’s practical.

  5. 25

    The truth women often give it up because they feel that will attract the man they like into wanting them more.

  6. 26

    This gal thinks that just because (according to her) she is attractive, physically fit has a successful career and a sense of humor that she is a good catch.
    The fact that she is writing this letter is evidence that she thinks she is better than anyone else.
    She is in her 40’s and still having trouble finding a mate, it may be wise to take a good long look at yourself instead of blaming men.   Yes, men may be the problem but I’m guessing there may some improvements to be made on her end.   We all have improvements to make within ourselves.
    I see it time and time again, women in their late 30’s/early 40’s who have never been married and can’t seem to keep a guy…and most of the time it’s the woman who has major issues with how she treats the men in her life and her expectations of the man…that make the man run.

    1. 26.1

      Star, I respectfully disagree with you on this point.   I know many kind, wonderful women in their late 30s and 40s who have never been married and aren’t in relationships.   They all treat men very well and expectations are in check.

  7. 27

    #25 Bill


    #26 Star


    I’m in my mid 40’s and have noticed the same things as you.   What I have seen is a tendency to go too fast, too soon and go overboard immediately.   What I’ve seen is women’s tendencies to try to  make themselves indispensible to the man, doing everything for him early in the relationship–totally invading his boundary.   It’s similar to the sex thing Bill mentions in #25.   They take over the male role and the male energy.

    I’ve seen men show no mystery and gush all over right away…it’s like he’s so happy someone wants him, he’s going to smother her.   He takes over the female role and female energy.

    Who knows what the issue is here, but some things to think about.  

  8. 28

    Nancy If it makes you feel better, I found out today that the guy I had been dating for almost 2 months hit on one of my best friends.   Yeah, I know all the stuff Evan says, but it still doesn’t feel good.   I’m doing exactly what Evan says, however, and walking.   And really, if he’s not smart enough to know that girls talk, then I need to move on anyway.

  9. 29

    Ughhhh. Can we all go a little easier on Nancy and not assume she “thinks she’s better than anyone else” just because she: 1)had the gall to admit she has good looks, a successful career and a sense of humor; and 2)decided to try it with a guy that would normally be out of her dating pool? I do not see it anywhere in her letter that she looks down on the guy. She says she’s attracted to him, for crying out loud – even while he’s using her as a booty call.
    Why on earth is it that we encourage our fellow women to be empowered, be confident, not downplay their good qualities… then, when one of us actually does these things, we’re ready to rip her head off for it?! Let’s not turn into the Harvard Sailing Team here, people 😉 Okay, rant complete.
    @Selena #6: “And why is there the presumption that “less attractive” people (as subjective as that is) are somehow different than their more attractive counterparts?”
    Yes, I think this is where Nancy’s problem lies. Why did she assume that? My guess is…
    1) It has been mentioned on this blog multiple times 😉
    2) Really attractive, popular etc. people are assumed to be spoiled due to all the attention they get throughout their lives, while people that are not as hot/popular are assumed to have developed better human qualities to make up for their insufficiently good looks. IMO, both assumptions are stereotypes. No one is that straightforward. Take Nancy’s guy, for instance – stringing her along, not having the decency to even break up properly, keeping her around for when his urge strikes, using her attraction to him for his own advantage. Sounds like quite the charmer, doesn’t he?
    I like Christie’s idea (##11 & 23) – just take the looks out of the equation entirely. They’re irrelevant. Define your comfort zone as something based on people’s personal qualities, not external stuff like the looks. Then venture out of it 🙂 Christie, please feel free to correct me if I got that one wrong. I’m still learning myself.

  10. 30

    I’m curious how many people Nancy is dating at any one given time, why she is continuing to accept calls from a guy that is obviously only interested in sex (unless she is ok with that) and how she became so attached to someone she was casually dating so quickly.

    I don’t care if he is a “7” or a “10”…at 2 or 3 months of “dating” you are just really getting to know a person (at least in my opinion) and if someone has shown you who they are (ie. only calling for random ‘bootie’ calls) then believe them.   I’m also relatively new back into the dating world (after a 5 year relationship/me calling off an engagement) and am being very cautious…so perhaps my point of view is off a bit.  

    That said, though, I would question what ‘vibe’ Nancy is putting out there to these men that she is meeting if this pattern continues to repeat itself in her life.   Is she coming across too needy too quickly?   Is she moving/pushing too quickly to see a “relationship” where there isn’t one?   I wonder if having been single for 5 years and looking for that elusive relationship…if that is coming across to the guys that she is dating?

  11. 31

    The truth I have seen really fat unattractive women happy with a man. So if your better way better than a really fat women than there has to be something wrong with you. It is your personality.
    I was watching Mad Man last night women are very much into there looks because thats what men see but the truth men care about personality way more than what you look like. But if he had the choose between two girls with similar levels of personality he would pick the more attractive one. The truth personality is more important than looks.

  12. 32

    Wow!! I’m Nancy – thanks everyone for all the great feedback and thank you Evan for some real food for thought. Just to redeem myself a bit here:   I’m not self-centered, I have been married, I don’t blame men or I wouldn’t have written Evan (I am a huge proponent of taking responsiblity for our own lives and the results of our own actions)  and this was a learning exercise in stepping outside of my comfort zone. To those of you who wondered why I kept answering the phone when the guy called – the answer is simple – because I was hoping. I am still hopeful, but perhaps not with this relationship. There are some awesome responses – wish I could meet many of you in person! Clearly I don’t visit this site enough and will have to make it a point to become a more frequent visitor.

    As for the guy, I saw him again this weekend. It was a great example of doing the same thing and yet expecting different results – oops. I’m still attracted to him  and I’m still human –  when we’re together he is awesome – although I saw some interesting personality changes this time around. He’s awesome until the point at which we part ways – and I don’t hear from him for weeks.  One of my closest friends put it best when she said “nanc, what do you expect? you allow this to happen”. Having just sat here and read through all the great responses (positive and negative), I can honestly say that I have. I can also say that I’ve learned much and won’t judge all men based on my experiences with a few.

    Picking myself up, learning, and moving on………….

  13. 33
    Kat Wilder

    I’m going to second (third? fourth?) what some others above have said.
    It seems there may be a “too fast, too soon” thing going on … along with expectations (“I’m so great; what’s wrong with him?”) and, pardon me for being blunt, a neediness.
    You want a relationship. You’ve been dating for five years without much (long-term) luck). It’s easy to get frustrated and bitter (not saying that you are). Men you’re meeting may not be feeling the same thing, quite honestly; they may not be looking to settle down.
    I think you might be approaching dating by looking at each man as a partner, instead of looking at him as a date and seeing where you fit and where you don’t. Getting dumped is the price we pay for trying to figure it out. Sorry, but there’s no other way to do it.
    Except an arranged marriage.

  14. 34

    Bill #25, while your point is valid in some cases, women don’t always use sex to keep a man around or interested. Sometimes we have sex because we physically feel like it and really like a man. Because we are sometimes capable of the same feelings of lust and attraction that men are. However, most women aren’t going to sleep with a man that they don’t seem more potential for. From a female perspective, I personally don’t like how  men will say they want something more then just sex, even get upset if they are protrayed as sex chasers only, but if sex is offered, will take the woman up on it. Then act like it’s her fault for “giving it up” too soon. I often feel like women are responsible for not only their actions but his actions as well because 9 times out of 10 the woman is blamed for sleeping too soon with a guy and a guy is defended as being a “man” and it being okay that he went on a whim of his hormones. And all the while, while men will pander to their hormones, women aren’t suppose to think that all they are interested in sex. It’s a bit confusing to be honest.

    Chris #20, I’m personally not a  fan of the scale of rating people 1-10 because I think it’s high schoolerish. But I do think even average guys think they deserve a certain level above themselves. Even you in your advice, you say that men will settle for who accepts them (not flattering either to a woman either 🙂 ) but you got to admit that you are   bragging a little bit that you’ve dated women who you consider “10s” who accepted you and one who will be your wife. So while I don’t think men will hold out for super attractive women, I do think men hold these women above all others and even if they are with an average girl, will spend the rest of their lives lusting after super hot ones even if they form a relationship with a woman who accepts him.

  15. 35
    Karl R

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “I personally don’t like how  men will say they want something more then just sex, even get upset if they are protrayed as sex chasers only, but if sex is offered, will take the woman up on it. Then act like it’s her fault for ‘giving it up’ too soon.”

    Let me draw a comparison.

    Most women say they aren’t into guys for their money, and get angry if they’re portrayed as gold-diggers only. But I’ve never had a woman refuse to go on a date just because it cost me  over $100 or $200 … even when the relationship was never going to become that serious.

    If a man  can’t afford to spend more than $50 on a casual date, then it’s  his responsibility to choose dates within  his budget. The woman’s not to blame if he doesn’t.

    If it’s “too soon” in a relationship for you to have sex, then it’s your responsibility to say “No.”

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “because 9 times out of 10 the woman is blamed for sleeping too soon with a guy”

    9 times out of 10 it’s the woman who is complaining about the consequences. If the  man is complaining about the consequences, I’ll happily point out to him that he is responsible for his choices, and that he gets to live with the consequences of those choices.

    JerseyGirl said: (#34)
    “and it being okay that he went on a whim of his hormones.”

    It’s okay with me if you choose to have sex on a whim of your hormones. But if you choose to do so, it’s not the man’s responsibility to tell you that you shouldn’t. He’s your date, not your mother.

    You seem very interested in “fault” and “blame” with regards to sex. If a man and a woman meet, decide to have sex, and end up in bed together all within 10 minutes, they both made a consensual decision. If both of them end up being happy with that decision, would you say that either of them is at fault or should be blamed? If both of them end up being unhappy with that decision, wouldn’t you say that both of them are responsible for making a bad decision.

    So if one person ends up being happy with the decision, and one person ends up being unhappy with the decision….

    I’m going to say that the unhappy person is responsible for making a decision which led to unhappiness.  The happy person is responsible for making a decision that they’re happy with. From my point of view, the way you seek to  ascribe “fault” and “blame” to  the happy  party (for a consensual decision)  seems ludicrous.

  16. 36

    Does this guy, whether a 10 or a 5, think that you would make a good wife or mother of his child?   Or like every Guy, he’s just interested in Sex without the relationship?   Because it seems like most women, you want a “Relationship” but like most men, “he wants only sex” – If you want a relationship, then you have to ask the Guy if he is serious about marriage, because without marriage, a guy will eventually leave you.   Even marriage is not a guarantee for loyalty, but at least there will be financial consequences.

  17. 37

    I totally understand Nancy. This totally sucks. We learn (the hard way) that hot guys can treat you like trash. They can do this – we are told – because they have SO many other options they can afford to trample on a good woman’s love and affection, confident that there will always be another one waiting round the corner. Average guys, so the theory goes, have LESS options so they are less inclined to trample on a good thing when it comes along. But hey! Not so in Nancy’s case.So we are left with – the hot guys think they can treat you like trash. The average guys ALSO thing they can treat you like trash.Who does that leave??????
    Sorry if I sound kinda fed up here but I just had a text an hour ago (A TEXT!) from the guy I’ve been seeing cancelling our date for tomorrow evening (and forevermore) because he’s suddenly decided he’s quitting his job and moving back to France. A text. No discussion, no “how do YOU feel about me quitting my job and moving back to France?” just a text saying game over.

  18. 38

    Nothing stings worse than being ditched by someone you weren’t initially into, especially someone you chose with the thought that they would (in this case, believing they should) worship you. Been there. The sting is critical, but it teaches a valuable lesson about not believing yourself above OR beneath anyone.  
    If it feels like settling, it is settling. I don’t care about women’s lib – as a woman myself, I am acutely aware of the trick oxytocin will play on your head after you begin sleeping with a guy – hold off on the sex until you’re clear in YOUR head how YOU feel about him, what YOU want from this thing and where YOURE willing to go.  
    Cause, I mean…. this truly sounds like a case of a broken ego, not a broken heart.  
    Bottom line: Why waste your own time forcing things? There’s a difference between giving a decent guy a chance to sweep you off your feet, but be clear to that as your strategy and don’t “fall” for someone who hasn’t swept you away. An don’t fall for him the second he does sweep you away unless that little internal voice (the one you know that I know about because we all have one) can, in good conscious, release the need to question his motives. If you’re a skeptic you’re always asking yourself what things mean. And at the end of the day, trust is what quiets that voice. So if the voice is still questioning things, and or you feel anxious, walk. BUT, if there’s no real need to question or feel anxious and you feel it anyway, work on trust issues. You may have to face your own unavailability for the answer to the question as to why you keep ending up with unavailable men.

  19. 39

    Nancy, don’t drop your standards in who you date. Date the guy that you feel attracted to.
    The answer in finding what you want is to know how to read his intentions, not settling down for anything less than what you want and be prepared to dump him at the first signs that he is not going to give you commitment. Pay attention on how much he invests in you and how much he respects you.
    Keep moving, keep dating, don’t stop, don’t settle, don’t accept any form of disrespect, don’t nag and don’t moan. Observe, make your own conclusions and take the decision if it is worth moving on or staying. Never explain yourself. Get standards if you don’t have already and stick to them. That’s what will make you be the prize.

  20. 40

    I say go for your what like. As another commentor posted, it does’t take long to figure out if a man is after sex, no matter how he looks. When you get those signs or he tells you he’s not looking for anything serious, bail!

    I have also tried to date men that I wasn’t attracted to, and they also never treated me any better than the hot men I was used to dating. Some of them even stalked me. Less attractive men were no more nicer, didn’t treat me any better and didn’t put me any closer to being in a committed relationship.

    The notion that a less hot guy will treat you better or commit is a myth and misnomer.   You have the right to like and not like whatever you want.   Regardless of looks, avoid anyone who is not giving you want you want.   And don’t settle for what you don’t want just to have a man, because that doesn’t guarantee you a good relationship either.   

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