Why the Most Impressive People Struggle in Love

Why the Most Impressive People Struggle in Love

I had a Memorial Day barbecue yesterday and got a chance to connect with some amazing friends. As the day wound down and the sangria pitcher drained, I started musing about dating and relationships, which is the kind of thing I do whether I’m sober or not.

It occurred to me that all of our friends are demographically similar: Attractive, fun, 30-40 years old. Writers. Directors. Marketers. Professors. Artists. MBAs. Just a solid bunch of folks.

And yet there was only one other couple at our party – everyone else was single.

So if the common denominator between my friends is that they’re single and impressive, is it possible that the reason that they’re single is BECAUSE they’re impressive?

When you have everything going for you, does it become that much harder to compromise on looks? Intelligence? Humor? Money?

So if the common denominator between my friends is that they’re single and impressive, is it possible that the reason that they’re single is BECAUSE they’re impressive?

Without psychoanalyzing any of my friends (since a. they didn’t ask me, and b. I’m not a shrink), I’d have to at least pose the question:

When you truly are an 8 in looks, a 9 in intelligence, a 7 in career, an 8 in humor… is it imperative to find someone as impressive as you are? Is anything less “settling”?

Believe me, I’m not one of those people who became an expert when he put a ring on his finger. After all, for most of my career, I was the single guy. Plus, it’s quite evident that married people aren’t necessarily smarter – they’re just more committed to one relationship.

But maybe it’s not just a coincidence that the cream of the crop is largely made up of “maximizers” as described in Barry Schwartz’s “The Paradox of Choice”. These folks have so much self-worth that they feel that the grass is always greener. And if they have 90% of what they’re looking for in a mate, maybe they just won’t rest until they find 94%.

Alas, as Schwartz points out in his amazing book: maximizers are rarely happy. In fact, “satisficers” – the people who are content with “less” – tend to be happier people overall.

So, is it harder for the most impressive people to find love? Would they be wiser if they learned to compromise? Are they holding out for something that doesn’t exist?

What do you think?

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  1. 91

    Many people were just Meant to find love that many others can’t, and i will never ever understand that at all. It is like God is punishing us for a Reason that we Never Ever Know.

  2. 92

    Jim 91 – No one is punishing us. 
    Sparkling Emerald – 88 – Love the answer.  Made me laugh.  Big fat zero, eh?
    Evan – This is a very thoughtful question. 
    The men that I have been really very attracted to have been, invariably, very very intellectual, some of them having extremely powerful positions, but with some serious dealbreakers (women-chasing, and other things which I could not accept, much to both of them’s disbelief – she said no to US?????)
    As women get older, yes, maybe the pool of men available does decrease.  That’s possible.  And our choices change as well.  Sometimes our attitudes too (as in, oh God, do I have to go through all this dating stuff AGAIN?)
    Our bodies are less juicy, and gravity takes a bit of a toll, as does possibly our energy levels (mine were very high as a youngster so I’m still very energetic!)
    Yes, if I find the man who is faithful, loyal, bright and relatively attractive (read = well groomed at least), and if he has at least good moral values, (including being single and available!) I would probably prefer to be in a LAT relationship, all things weighed up.

  3. 93
    Sparkling Emerald

    Jim @ 91, I understand how you feel, I have often felt that way, though I am not a believer in God, I have sometimes felt that the Universe is punishing me in the love department.
    But then I look at everything else I have,  stable finances (not stellar, but stable), excellent health, a son that I adore,  lot’s of friends, hobbies that I love to do.  No major tragedies in my life either. 
    I know people who have had their children murdered, a woman who’s hubby committed suicide and took others out with him, people who struggle day in and day out with chronic painful illnesses, people who were sexually abused growing up,  couples who WANTED children and struggled with infertility etc.  I look at how badly others are being “punished” and my little ol’ divorce & roller coaster dating experiences pale in comparison.
    I think EVERYONE struggles in some aspect of their life.  For some, it’s a struggle for love, but those “lucky in love” people are being “punished” with a different set of struggles.

    1. 93.1

      To Judy And Sparkling Emerald,  Unfortunately many of us that are having trouble finding love is much harder nowadays unlike years ago it was definitely so much easier.  Many of us men hate being single which i am sure many others will agree with me too especially when you get older and you have nobody to grow old with.  The times today are a lot different than it was back then which it came very easy for our family members since many of them are still together today as i speak.  I will admit that many of us men are the much weaker sex when it comes to being alone when many women can handle it a lot better than us which they’re the stronger sex since it really doesn’t affect them at all.  Online dating is very difficult too since so many of us have tried it already and still had no success.

  4. 94

    re.  Peter 90.  When a guy says that his girlfriend cooks like a witch, is that a good or bad thing?  I’m picturing meals consisting of eye of newt, toe of frog, etc.
    re * 86.  She had a “perfect 10” guy in her life… who was a cheating on his wife with her (for a short while).  She explains that she is now “waiting around” for another 10 because she was once able to garner attention from one, and that the early stages were “intense.” 
    WOW.  This comment hit home.   One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on this blog is, as Tom10 succinctly summarised elsewhere on this blog, “… I’m coming to the conclusion that “men will date down for sex/casual, whereas women would rather abstain” concept can be used to explain so many of the issues in modern dating.”   Comment 86 was a clear example of this, and also of why it is so often a trap for us women!
    Men are often willing to date, flirt and/or have sex below their league but these are not the women they want to keep as long-term, respected partners.  However, many of us women, having received attention from men above our league, imagine that this means we can have one as our boyfriend or husband.  “That male model lung surgeon trust fund philanthropist took me to dinner, twice.   No relationship developed from that but CLEARLY I have what it takes to attract other men of that caliber; I won’t settle for anything less!”  Meanwhile, the years pass, our “value” falls and we ignore the thoughtful, hard-working guys who actually want relationships with us.  
    Posts like 86 are one reason I appreciate Evan’s comment section.   Sometimes we can better recognise flaws in our own thinking/behaviour when we see them glaringly illustrated in others…

  5. 95

    I’m still perplexed by this concept of leagues.  I have come to the conclusion that someone who being highly educated, extremely good looking, wealthy or even highly intelligent, does not necessarily qualify them to be in a higher league.  I think it’s as Evan is always saying, character is more important.
    I went on a couple of dates with a guy who genuinely appeared to have all the trappings – he was gorgeous, a surfer (with a surfer’s body), successful and rich, and appeared to be very cultured and well-read.
    And I WAS very taken with him on the first date.  However, by the second date it became apparent that he was used to being the shining star and centre of attention and a certain amount of arrogance came through and I suddenly found him less attractive.
    I suppose all this is to say, I think it would be great if we could evolve past the point where we are so obsessed with superficial characteristics, and where we could find qualities with more substance attractive, and that *that* would be at least as important as looks in determining what league someone fell into.

  6. 96

    once you are focused on substance and character, leagues don’t come into it.
    I admit there is a certain cachet to being seen with someone v attractive but I fully realise it’s shallow! 

  7. 97

    What do I think?  I think Schopenhauer is right.  Romantic love doesn’t have anything to do with love.  It has to do with the survival of the species.  Mother-nature plays her little trick on us so that the species continues. 
    I don’t think that most people that are married are happy.  I don’t think that most people that are single are satisfied.  This dichotomy is evidence enough to me that love has nothing to do with happiness. 
    We want to be loved.  We need to be loved.  Biologically we’re primates so we need to have social interaction to keep from going crazy and dying.  But, we don’t need social interaction with hostile people.  If a person wants love then they should earn it.  We don’t love people for what they can do for us or to us.  We love them for who they are; their virtues.  It’s what they value.  It’s their value-system.  It’s their character.

  8. 98

    Love this topic! 

    My opinion is that these people with high self-worth, AND a sense of entitlement, do feel the grass is always greener. They do not compromise. They move on.  It was ingrained into their brain since birth, that they get what they want through their looks, money, and/or personality. And when they don’t get what they want they are not able to process this like a healthy person. Instead, they find someone who will. We also call these people plain old selfish. Because they are. Best to avoid them, because they are looking for a people pleaser, not someone who lives up to their standards(which isn’t possible).

  9. 99

    I don’t care one bit about 10% and 1% and he’s a 5 or he’s a 10. What’s with all the numbers? I just want someone to eat a sandwich with that doesn’t have to get his self esteem from putting me beneath him on some self constructed hierarchy. I’d date a troll if he was sweet, complimented me and didn’t stink. I”m not ruling out guys because they aren’t quite up to my standards, I rule them out because they poop during sex, they balk when I want to order two tacos instead of one or they live in a camper behind their best friends house because they want to spend all their money on booze. Jeesh, I wish I were ruling out a guy because he’s a 6 and not a 7, what a LUXURY! My feeling is that if the guy doesn’t make me want to jump off a cliff after a date, he’s a keeper, no matter his numbers, looks OR money.

    1. 99.1
      Mrs. Cat

      lol you are hilarious…well said love.

  10. 100

    No such thing as true love anymore these days which it was much easier years ago which our family members were very Blessed meeting each other too.  And thanks to them is the real reason why many of us men and women are here today, and it is just too bad that it never happened  to us that way.

  11. 101

    Trying to find love is like trying to win the lottery, and the odds are really against you. Especially for us men since today is totally different than years ago which it was so much more easier.

  12. 102

    Almost all of the “impressive” people I meet are already taken or they don’t want to date anyone. The rest of them are generally like you describe here and let it be known upfront, as well as that they’re not looking to “settle” for anyone even remotely different on any one measure (this is what I find with online dating), which, even if you match that person, is intimidating as hell and even kind of unattractive to be told upfront that this person thinks she’s all that and you better be good enough or you’re wasting everyone’s time. The latter, I see why they’re single. But all three groups show why it’s not really a matter of not wanting to settle. At least half the time, it’s more so having been beaten to the punch, and it’s usually a lot more than half the time. Not all impressive people are single.

    I’d also have to say impressive people don’t generally hang out in groups together because they are fairly hard to find in the first place, unless they work together. With the job market being like it is and education helping less and less in boosting career opportunities, a lot of impressive people are lacking in the career department, which makes it harder to find each other once we graduate. Then when we do find someone who interests us, they’re in one of the three categories I mentioned, and the snobs in the third category will eliminate you ahead of time for not equalling them in career.

  13. 103

    Most career women have really destroyed many of us good men already do to their greed and selfishness that they carry around with them everywhere they go unfortunately since so many women nowadays really want the best and will never settle for less at all which many marriages today have ended over this.

    1. 103.1

      Take your own advice and settle for less then.

      1. 103.1.1

        To Adreana, oh by the way it is very true what i have said with my last comment since most women today are Nothing at all like the good old fashioned women were that were so much Nicer and much easier to meet with a much better personality than today which certainly does count too. Today many women are very selfish and greedy which i have just mentioned since they want it all today unfortunately which is the real reason why many of us good men are still single today when there is no reason to blame ourselves anyway since many of us are not single by choice.  Many career women really think that they’re very high and mighty which many of them will just grow old their cats since many of the women with their very high salary do have such a very bad attitude problem that i have noticed which my friends do agree with me too.  It is very obvious how the women of today are when years ago most women had to struggle along with their men to make ends meat since they hardly had any money at all to begin with since most i would say had to live with their parents anyway.  Most high salary women unfortunately cause more divorces since many of these women are very likely to cheat as well which is very sad.  And if i met a woman that makes much less money than me so what big deal since money is not every thing which being very compatible with one another would be much more important anyway.

        1. Adreana

          I don’t know if “old-fashioned” woman are any better or loyal than modern-career women..but they surely had less options. When you have more options /can take care of yourself you’re less likely to settle or stay in an unhappy relationship…the same goes for men. But NO quality, sane person who’s NOT in survival mode is willing to put-up with someone’s bad behavior, or actively choose someone they know they would struggle with. Don’t you want to be happy? Or are you ok with just being “ok” in a relationship to fill the loneliness?

          IMO if the man or woman has dignity , they will not get married and drag another person into their problems before they fix their issues. If they do, they will soon become like those old, miserable couples who stick it out just to be loyal ( while dying inside)…

          Walk a day in those miserable couple’s shoes and you’ll start thinking how lucky the career, cat-lady is. BTW, the old-fashioned women with options also wanted the very “best”. Take my grandmother for example-she wasn’t a high- earning CEO ( or whatever), but she was very beautiful , had a good career as a nurse, and a charming, ladylike demeanor.   She had many suitors but who do you think she chose at the end? The  good-looking man with a great career, lots of land and a good reputation..and yes, they did fall in love so it wasn’t just based on status or beauty. ( I know other women from older generations had different needs/ wants than my grandparents, but I’m just sharing what I know).

          I’m not saying this to discourage you-I’m just saying  whether now or then, desirable people with options tend to be a lot pickier. There is nothing we can do about it other than improve ourselves or look for a person with less options.

  14. 104

    I am a 31 year old female, medical student planning on becoming an anesthesiologist, have an interest in learning languages on my down time, have been told I’m a pretty good cook, love to write and hope to publish a book one day, and actively travel the world. I’m 5’7″, size 4 and in terms of looks I’d say I’m a 7 or 8.

    Unlike a lot of medical student counterparts, I have spent a huge chunk of my 20s being directionless and jobless. I used to be a shy and my lack of networking skills really hurt me when I graduated college and was looking for employment. I just didn’t know how to put myself out there so I bounced around from deadend job to deadend job barely breaking 24K in annual income. Then it struck me one day that I couldn’t live like this forever and pursued medical school in my late 20s.

    I consider myself a straight 7. 7 in looks, 7 in career, 7 in intelligence, and 7 in humor. I have my own flaws like anyone else and have learned to own them. I’m slightly tall for a woman and have been open to dating someone shorter. I also understand that someone doesn’t need a graduate degree to be considered smart, but I do value education and highly prioritize men with college degrees. Because I struggled so much with finding a job myself, I don’t judge a man for what he does for work as long as he has long term goals that are realistic. The only thing about income that bothers me about guys that I meet is that they fail to live within my means. For example, I’m still currently a student so I have to budget away for food, rent, and utilities. I limit going out every weekend and even what I order at restaurants. I don’t drink often, for health reasons as well as the added benefit of saving money.

    I still find it hard to date. Most guys I meet don’t have long term goals. It’s just that I have struggled so much and have really pushed myself into doing something and I really wouldn’t want someone around me that is going to drag me down by having bad finances, bad habits (drinking too much, smoking too much), and making poor choices (driving drink, consistently overspending).


    1. 104.1
      Sharon Reddy

      Everything you want sounds realistic. I think you should be clear in your online profile. That you are not looking for a high income but a man who has completed college,  lives within his means doesn’t smoke or drink a lot, is disciplined , has long term goals , and understands that you are willing to pay your way but you are still a medical student so cannot live an extravagant lifestyle at this point. Perhaps you should work a little on your grooming and self esteem. Also make it clear that height doesn’t matter to you as shorter men may not contact you. Perhaps even look for other doctors as they may have a similar mindset, professors, accountants, pharmacists, IT professionals, lawyers. I am sure you will find someone. I think a match making agency may work well for you, if you can afford it.

  15. 105
    Sharon Reddy

    One thing does strike me though, you sound so serious for such a young lady. I know you have struggled to get where you are, but also show you are able to relax and have fun. Even without drugs or alcohol.

  16. 106

    Hi, Just my two cents. I could be one of the friends you describe… Maybe 9 intelligence, 7-8 look,(I do not think I am beautiful… just being told so. I keep in shape, dress nicely….maybe 5-6 career as at the time I am pursuing a second (medical) degree and I do not earn money. 8 humour? What’s the problem? I was googlinf around to get the answer. First of all I think that intelligent people can be intimidating and demanding. I had a long complicated relationship which lasted about 12 years (until I gave up) and well while he was quite rich, I was better looking and for sure more intelligent which… I think made me complicated to handle and more demanding (?) that he wanted me to be? We are still on very good terms and good friends though so I could not have been such terrible girlfriend and I was told by third parties that he misses me but… no thanks. He hurt me (psychologically and emotionally) which made me be even more afraid of fallin in love with someone. But… it happened and when I least expected to happen… he was/is extremely smart  even though he just attended highschool, I’ll give him a 9, great humor (I’ll give him a 10), maybe 6 for career and 6.5 7 for looks… But I felt at home with him… He is not perfect at all but… perfect for me… and we now are stuck somewhere. I have been a little clingy last  year I admit (but we live thousands of miles away so… a couple of text a day well….). Then I realized he did not like this and returned to be the same ld independent me…. but now he sends mixed signals, gets hot and cold…. One of the things he told me is that I was way above him in terms of looks, education, lifestyle….. and well while I honestly do not think so… he seems to be convinced. Pretty disappointing uh? So, stil to figure out why smart+pretty+sense of humour puzzles men… As for me, what I can say is that I really want to be with a person I like a lot….not just a person to be in a couple

  17. 107

    If you’re impressive, you have worked hard, you may go to the fit club every second day, read and educate yourself a lot,  have become quite knowledgeable in politics, History, … you need someone who can challenge you. Put you up. So if you find someone who wakes up at 1pm, spends her/his life in front of the tv, or whatever is not empowering and doesn’t give you this feeling to move forward, to make something out of your life, it won’t work.

  18. 108

    How about when you aren’t terribly picky, just looking for someone kind and self sufficient and active enough to adventure, but people consistently stop being attracted to you due to your intellectual traits?

    Because I’m there. I study Physics as a major, speak German fluently, read classic literature and philosophy for fun, and otherwise I play rugby, travel, or climb walls in my free time. Im overachieving not for anyone but myself. I don’t have commitment issues. Im probably about an 8, and I get a lot of male attention, but only until about 4 months in. I honestly believe I will spend 80% of the rest of my life alone.

    1. 108.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Perhaps you should reprioritize. Build in more time for dating and less for overachieving.

      You sound impressive, but most men don’t need an impressive partner, they need an AVAILABLE partner.

  19. 109

    I’m in my early 30’s, looks-wise I’m a 10, career wise 8, intelligence wise 9, humor is relative, so I’d add emotional maturity instead, and for me I’d say 9-10.

    What I’ve learned from dating an assortment of different people over the years is that appearance is not something that is all that important to me. The best relationships were with people that were maybe 5-7 on the looks scale, but 9-10 in emotional maturity, 9-10 intelligence, and 9-10 career. I find that the “spark” happens over time and have thus applied it to my dating habits. As a result, I have been on a surprising number of dates with men who really don’t come close to me in terms of looks, but that wows me with our conversation.

    Still, I recently separated from a person who is much older than me, late 40’s. He was plagued by this problem. He had almost married two other women in his lifetime, and so for him, he’s looking for that unicorn. We broke up because he didn’t feel the strong “spark” anymore while admitting that I had all the qualities in a partner that he was looking for and valued. He has expressed regret in his relationships and job pursuits of the past. Indecision is a trait of his.

    So it is probably a likely problem for those who have left previous relationships in search of better. The grass *has to be* greener, it’s not that it is.

    At the heart of it, for some: The grass *has to be* greener, it’s not that it is.

    They’ve invested so much time, are afraid of feeling regretful, that they will keep passing over future opportunities to commit because the possibility of regret looms.

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