What You Can Do When Things Go Wrong In Love

What You Can Do When Things Go Wrong In Love

I know you don’t read this blog to hear about me or my family.

You read this blog to learn something about men. Something about the human condition. Something that explains why bad things happen to good people.

But to me, any story can be extrapolated to something universal. It doesn’t matter if it’s an anecdote about me, my wife, or my private coaching clients — it all has to do with YOU.

So ask yourself what you would do, say, or think after getting suddenly axed by the same guy who wanted to commit to you only 10 days earlier?

If you’re like ANYBODY, you’d be pretty darned surprised and disappointed.

Given that 99% of men are definitely NOT your future husband, getting upset when this proves to be true is like getting upset that you didn’t win the Powerball.

But if you’re me, a professional dating coach who sees this every day, you’re not at all surprised or disappointed by what happened.

Before you accuse me of being callous, allow me to explain:

How many times in your life have you been in love? Two? Three? Four?

How many of those relationships lasted? Um, zero. (Widows are excused from this exercise.)

What percent of men are cute, successful, smart, kind, funny, compatible and emotionally available for a relationship? (I’ll let you answer yourself.)

What percent of those amazing men also think YOU’RE cute, smart, kind, funny, compatible and emotionally available for a relationship? (Not as many as you’d like.)

When you look at all of these things together, without any emotion, you’ll see exactly what I see: the fact that ANY relationship gets off the ground is remarkable.

And, to the naked eye, FAILURE is the default setting in dating.

You heard me. Failure.

Now, to be clear: I’ve failed a LOT more than you have.

I’ve gone on over 300 dates and committed to probably fifteen “girlfriends” before getting married. Which is why I’m not too fazed by failure.

You shouldn’t be, either.

Given that 99% of men are definitely NOT your future husband, getting upset when this proves to be true is like getting upset that you didn’t win the Powerball. Yeah, it’s unfortunate, but it’s also quite predictable.

Which is why I want you to write this down on a post-it right this very second:

“No man is real until he’s your boyfriend.”

A cute photo, a winning profile, flirty emails, an incredible first date, intense chemistry, mind-blowing sex… NONE of these things mean he’s your boyfriend.

It’s not that you’re “wrong” to get excited about a promising man; it’s that, in 99% of instances, it’s premature and you set yourself up for heartbreak.

No man is real until he’s your boyfriend.

Your takeaway is to not get too emotionally involved when it comes to a guy with “potential”. Start getting excited when he’s taken his profile down, called you his girlfriend, met your family, and started making vacation plans for the summer.

The other bit of perspective I want to give you about the disappearing man is that his disappearance should not be all that disappointing.

a) This wasn’t personal
b) You didn’t lose your future husband, so why be disappointed?

Although your man initially pushed for immediate commitment, he had second thoughts. Reasonable second thoughts, I might add.

His flaking doesn’t mean he’s evil.

It means he leaped before he looked.

He shot first and asked questions later.

He over-promised and under-delivered.

In short, he screwed up and ended up hurting an innocent woman.

No one is at fault.

And if no one is at fault, there’s no value in beating yourself up about what you did “wrong”. The answer is nothing.

There’s no value in getting pissed at the disappearing man. He’s like a guy who was driving 90 mph on the freeway and missed his exit. He was so enthusiastic that he was oblivious to the fact that he wasn’t really ready to commit after 4 dates.

Finally, there’s no value in lamenting what “could have been”. It’s over. Move along.

The right guy will come along soon enough — and he will certainly not disappear the way the last guy did.

But the only way for this to happen is for my you to let go of your negativity, to let go of your fear of getting hurt, to let go of your frustration at the men who don’t write to you online, and to embrace the unknown of the dating process.

Put another way: if you quit dating, you don’t meet ANYBODY.

If you persevere, another cute man may waltz into your life this summer — and never want to leave.

“Never, never, never quit,” said Winston Churchill, and he’s 100% right.

The only thing you can do when things go wrong in love is to keep going.

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  1. 81
    Sparkling Emerald

    @hippie va 81
    I think there are multiple reasons why men disappear.   Sometimes it is NOT anyone’s fault, & sometimes there is behavior that could drive the disappearance. At least that’s what I got out of the “Why he disappeared book”.  
    As for the “Have him @ Hello Book”, well from what little bit I read online, it just seemed the men were being petty.   I actually think their initial, “no chemistry” response was right, but the author basically needled and badgered the men to give a concrete reason, so after “leading the witness” they came up with the answer the author wanted to hear, that the woman did something “wrong”.  
    If someone really likes you, the slightest imperfection isn’t going to send them running for the hills, if it just doesn’t click, a black belt in charm school and being the perfect date won’t change that either.

  2. 82

    @Hippie Va
    That’s an interpretation that blames the woman rather than what Evan is pointing out – a woman can’t control what a man thinks or does, so when he “disappears” it’s a result of his own thinking and choices.
    Since blaming isn’t useful (“effective” in Evan’s terms), it’s better to just acknowledge that the man left because he wasn’t getting what he wanted from the relationship, rather than the woman failing in some way. In this way, it’s about the individuals not being what the other needs.
    As for callbacks, of course he didn’t call back because of “something she said”…that’s the whole point of talking to people, to determine if you want to continue. This doesn’t mean she did anything wrong – perhaps she mentioned she couldn’t imagine having more than one child, and he wanted to have a large family…or she was agnostic/atheist and he was strongly religious (or the reverse). In the early stages it doesn’t take much to disqualify someone, as little is yet invested.
    In no way does this mean that the women failed in any way. If anything, consider it a good thing that he left early rather than waste her time, since it’s clear they weren’t a good match.
    Evan is just advising that women don’t take a man’s disappearance personally – who knows what his reasons are, and in the end they don’t really matter anyway.

  3. 83

    I got broken up with by my ex-boyfriend due to a betrayal of trust on my side. He was devastated and yes, he did jump into a rebound relationship with his ex. As I suspected, he used her as a distraction and to soften the blow of our break up. Now we are trying to pick up the pieces of this mess and it has not been good. I did him wrong, he reacted with a rebound, and now there are multiple casualties and nobody wins!

  4. 84

    I know that the right man will come along… But am having issues letting the old one go. I dated an emotionally unavailable man for 1.5 years. He kept coming back… Hoping that he would have the feelings for me that he needs to be in love again. He found the kind of connection with a woman that he didn’t even know existed a few years back, and it blew up in his face. He’s been emotionally unavailable of it ever since, and is fully aware of this fact. Funny thing is, he’s stated point blank that he was hoping that something would happen with us, that I would do something to make this change. We all know, if someone is going to change, they will do it on their own. There is no hot button you can push to make a man open up and be the love you want… HE has to want it.
    We had a good relationship but not the best relationship. One thing I can say is that he taught me a great deal, cares for me in a way no man has before, and has always been able to explain things to me in a very calm and understanding fashion. But the communication was never really there. The way he held back any form of genuine openness when things were “good” was frustrating to the point of being maddening. We both agreed that otherwise we are each the textbook case of the perfect “type” of person we would each like a relationship with in regards to values, interests, and attraction. Really… except for our complete breakdown of proper communication from the start… I do see it. On paper we’re perfect for each other.
    Each of us has had personal issues and struggles in our lives hold us back as well. But every time he has come back to me he has literally given me the greatest compliments of my life. That I’m the perfect woman, a woman like me is a gift, that he knows my value, things like that. But as he put it, it’s like sitting around a campfire at the end of the night… It feels amazing to sit around it & enjoy, and if you kick the ashes every now and again some flames rise up, but you can’t keep it going without more wood.
    So here I am trying to let go of someone I became very attached to. I had the talk with him a week ago. No tears. I told him that I felt completely shut out and that after he had progressed our relationship forward once again, we have once again felt a period of withdrawl and this is not what I pictured in a relationship. But why is this so hard? Maybe because he tried so hard twice now to win me back and started putting so much effort into being sensitive to my feelings and needs. But every time he withdraws again when we get to close, when anything happens that he doesn’t want to deal with.
    I suppose I’m just wondering what it would have been like if he was emotionally available. If I liked him this much at his worst…. What would he have been like at his best? I can say that I tried. And to a point, he did too. I just don’t understand what he was expecting me to do to “fix” him… and I don’t understand why he is so complacent to not want to open up and fix himself. He says he wants the kind of love that songs are written about, and yet does nothing to effect this change in himself. I, on the other hand… have been on my own journey the last year to focus on myself and effect my own changes. I have been the one becoming more emotionally available, sane, happy, and well balanced. I wish that he would find that path too. Even if he doesn’t end up with me in the end, I do want to see him happy again, not retreated to his cave. His emotionally unavailable nature is even carrying over into how his daughter feels   when she’s around him. It’s effecting his entire world. I just wish he could see the beauty and love around him.

  5. 85

    Confused-By-Distance,      It’s tough to feel so much and want it to be so much more (knowing how amazing it can be), yet it never gets to the place you think it will.   I hope you take comfort that where you want things to be will happen with the RIGHT guy. It will! Waiting for it for it to happen with a man who isn’t there emotionally and may never be there takes up your valuable time; find the man where you can have your dream life! You have so much to offer the right guy, don’t waste it on the wrong one.
    I’m in a similar spot and I really feel your pain. I was moving toward a great relationship (at least I thought). Something really romantic happened at a party we were attending. It was like movie love! Confirmation, right? Nope. The “moment” did not occur under movie-love circumstances but the “moment” really happened. You know those moments where the relationship crosses some sort of barrier? The moment where you cannot believe it is happening to you?  
    The post-party drama (we work together and adults can be such children) of rumors and lies has me in a tailspin. So, I have to move on. My heart aches b/c it doesn’t seem fair. I didn’t think it would end so suddenly but I have to let it go. Some things are not meant to be. He is not emotionally available and that is just the truth. I asked myself   if all of this drama is worth it and when I answered no, I realized I have to move on…yup, it stings but a huge weight has been lifted…my heart is ready for someone deserving 🙂

  6. 86

    Wow. I wish I had read this 15 years ago!   Evan, I have been reading your advice over the weekend, and it has been very refreshing.   You make a lot of sense. I’m 42 and have had disastrous attempts at relationships since breaking up with a wonderful solid guy when I was 27 because I thought I could do better….   Most of the time I haven’t even bothered with dating as I didn’t want to make another mistake of ending up with a guy with issues (which I seemed to find plenty of after breaking up with the great guy), and other times I got so down by the quality of guys contacting me on-line it just put me right off (I hear all those women who want to find a guy of a similar age but end up with guys 10-15 years plus only contacting them), so yes, most of the last 15 years I have been single.   But your website has made me think that I really ought to get back out there, keeping my expectations realistic, and this blog was another healthy dose of good sense from you to take with me. Thank you.

  7. 87
    Dina Strange

    “He over-promised and under-delivered. In short, he screwed up and ended up hurting an innocent woman. No one is at fault.”

    I wonder if I by mistake charge more on his credit card, will he say….no one is at fault. Btw, what happened to personal responsibility and men who know how to keep a promise or at least be faithful to their own words. Are we dating kids, here?  

    1. 87.1

      ohhh well said Dina!       If the guy is an adult, a grown man,   he SHOULD be more honest, clear and responsible and not   ‘overpromised and under-deliver ‘ !        
      thank you for being a fellow sister in this dating experience

  8. 88

    A fabulous article Evan. It is so true, like why be so attached to the outcome and be disappointed and annoyed when the odds of success are pretty low. May as well just have fun and even be thankful that he left to make way for the one true beloved or many beloveds to come our way 🙂
    I get that on a thinking level I just wish my heart wouldn’t be so darn sensitive as I seem to cry after every guy. I need to toughen up a bit or perhaps a lot I think <3

  9. 89

    I will admit right now, I have a pathological fear of being hurt. Suffice to say I have dated two men for a duration of six months to a little over 2 years.   Both ended in complete disaster.
    In hindsight, I knew the six month was doomed from the get go.   He was clearly looking just for a gf and I was more than willing to oblige (stupid I know).   He wasn’t a good catch on a physical or emotional level, so that tells you I wasn’t thinking with my head.   I was very young at the time, 17 so what did I know.
    To make a long story short, I stayed single for a long time and now at 37 I’m getting back into the dating scene after talking to someone who rekindled feelings of intimacy.   He “disappeared” early on and I was left with a broken heart.   Found myself on a broken hearts forum and I met a guy.   Now before anyone starts saying “What were you thinking” let me first say.
    I avoided dating sites because I didn’t want to meet someone that was looking for a relationship.   In my past experience, this means that people go in with preconceived notions and you end up settling for something or becoming infatuated with someone based on personal ideology.
    With the new guy it was diffeernt, there was banter going back and forth and we began sharing about our past failed relationships.   He told me it’d been three years since the demise of his relationship but that he still nursed wounds. Within a week or so of talking, he remarked how he hadn’t met anyone like me before, I was very carefree in the way I communciated with him but I also put up alot of barriers and refused to let him in.
    Over time I brought those walls down and I think he is being honest with me when he says he has feelings for me.   He’s supposed to come visit me in a few months…but I can’t stop this nagging feeling and self sabatoging thinking that the more I reveal of my true self (including my insecurities) he will leave like the others.  
    The cards are stacked against us already:
    He has pictures of his ex on his facebook page (I’ve mentioned I’ve seen them, but he just says he hasn’t updated his page in a long time, nor do I think I have a right to ask him to take them down when we haven’t met)
    He lives halfway around the world
    I will never move to his country and I couldn’t ask him to move for me (he has a good paying job with guaranteed salary till retirement)
    I’ve tried to walk away a few times but it’s very hard each time.   I’ve even gotten into rows with him in an effort to convince myself that it’d be better to break away.
    He’s been very honest with me and I trust him.   I don’t pick fights anymore and try to be mindful of my own behavior with him.
    It doesn’t compare to the 300 dates you’ve gone on Evan, but some of us aren’t as strong as you to risk your heart so many times.   I wish I was, but my self esteem couldn’t take that kind of rejection…

  10. 90

    This was a hilarious read and I LOVED it!!! Evan, thank you so much! I feel better after reading this. I was involved with a man for three months that said he wanted to take things slow and still kept his profile up on Match. Even though he told me there was no one else and he was not going to message other women I found his profile had been revamped after 3 months of seeing him. I ended it and it hurt me badly. He did have real potential and I was falling for him. Even after I told him that, he still kept coming around and dating me. I thought any decent man that wasn’t open to love would let me go— but he stuck around. After ending things I was distraught and he played games with FB – adding all kinds of tramps. So I unfriended him. I will never understand why he treated me like that and it made me feel unworthy…   and not good enough.
    After reading this article though it helps me understand that I am worthy of love- he just wasn’t right for me. Your article brought a smile to my face!

  11. 91

    I am a woman in a wonderful, commited relationship and I think you are spot on most of the time , Evan, even this time . However , love isn’t math so there are no true rules . Sometimes , a woman will sleep with a man on the first date and still end up marrying him and having 40 beautiful years . Sometimes , a woman who pursued too much , wins the man over and they marry . Or , sometimes a woman like myself , takes a break from dating because she was exhausted by it and discovers the love of her life in a very random way. I was taking care of me, enjoying time with females and getting my son ready for college and getting comfortable in my own skin . So I say to women :::discover yourself and what makes your soul sing so that you shine . Then , go out in the world and LIVE . Someone will see you , feel your energy and think you are engicing !

  12. 92

    It am so grateful for the advice you give. I was on a date yesterday and I had a lot of your advice running through my mind. The went well. Nice guy , but he isn’t someone I would like to go out with again.. I still had fun, laughed and kept remembering to live in the moment , not the future. I recently had a guy disappear on me after sex and I have been beyond devastated. Never happened to me before. I bought Why He Disappeared and I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off my shoulders. I started dating last summer after a divorce. It took me 3 years post divorce to go out on a date !!! When the guy disappeared I was beside mysel. I found you online and thanks to you I have an entire new way of handling my dates. Thanks Again 🙂

  13. 93

    Best post Ever!!!!!!! I wish men and women alike would read this and understand it. I go into dating like this nowadays-no worries if it doesnt work and life is good. No wild expectations.

  14. 94

    All these failures surely your sex count is pretty high. There is double standard s with women. I assume keeping the number low is the game so you don’t have to lie to the next hypocrite you date

  15. 95

    I guess I’m having trouble accepting these things:

    “His flaking doesn’t mean he’s evil.
    It means he leaped before he looked.
    He shot first and asked questions later.
    He over-promised and under-delivered.
    In short, he screwed up and ended up hurting an innocent woman.
    No one is at fault.”
    While there will certainly be no retribution and there’s no way to prevent those things from happening, yes, someone is at fault.   It is not ok to flake after giving  someone ample reason to feel like there is a future.   It is not ok to shoot first and ask questions later.   It is not ok to hurt innocent people.   It is not ok to over-promise and under-deliver.   I agree that it’s not always personal but that doesn’t negate the harm done.   I agree that you shouldn’t blame the next person for it and you shouldn’t become jaded.   And I agree that it is part and parcel to dating in mid-life with all the wounded and emotionally incompetent people out there. But damn, when you connect with someone over a protracted time period  and they give you many many indications that there will be a happy ending and then they suddenly pull the rug out, it hurts like hell and will surely leave a scar on your heart.   I just keep telling myself, that which does not kill me …..   I suppose when I find the right one, the scar won’t matter much, I think/hope….

  16. 96
    H O

    Evan, this is one of the best posts in your blog. I

    I’m going to read it daily. I have been dating online for two years. I have gone through hard times but now I am getting your points. I  feel I am getting stronger and wiser, thanks to you.

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