Choosing a Boyfriend is NOT The Same as Choosing a Husband

Choosing a Boyfriend is NOT The Same as Choosing a Husband

My client, Leslie, asked me recently, “When did you ‘just know’ that it was right with your wife? When were you able to tell for sure that she was ‘the one’?”

After a brief pause, I said, in all seriousness:

“Six months after we were married.”

Leslie was stunned.

After all, she comes from a culture that is all about undeniable feelings, Hollywood fantasies, and powerful mythology surrounding the notion of love.

You probably do, too.

Like it or not, dating is ALWAYS an extended audition, with both parties consistently gathering information and assessing their futures, up until they reach the altar.

Right now, I’m going to blow your notion away — not because I feel like killing your dreams, but because your dreams are holding you back from finding true happiness.

Look back on your life.

How many times did you “just know” that a man was “the one?”

How many times did he actually turn out to BE “the one?”

The defense rests, your honor.

So if we can be wildly misguided in our feelings, what do our feelings actually teach us?


Literally every single woman reading this has had a feeling that felt true, but turned out to be false.

Maybe he freaked out after three intense months together.

Maybe he enjoyed your company but never actually saw himself marrying you.

Maybe he turned out to be a liar, drug addict, or serial cheater.

These are things that you couldn’t have known on date one.

The only way you could have learned them was to keep your eyes open and keep open to the possibility that you don’t “just know” anything.

There’s always new information pouring in that should inform your decisions.

And if it comes as a shock when a guy suddenly dumps you, it shouldn’t. Because YOU also reserve the right to change your mind as time goes by.

You don’t fall in love with every guy you meet.

You may determine that he’s financially irresponsible or not a good father figure.

You may determine that the attraction isn’t there and that you need to feel more.

The point is that you can only figure this stuff out over the course of TIME.

Which is why, like it or not, dating is ALWAYS an extended audition, with both parties consistently gathering information and assessing their futures, up until they reach the altar.

This is not a crime. This is not selfish. This is smart. This is practical. This is what prevents us from making huge mistakes and marrying the wrong people.

If a man dumps you after two years, it’s because he felt it would be a mistake to marry you and THEN want to dump you. That’s a GOOD decision.

And vice versa. Whether you break up with a man after a week or a year, you’ve come to the conclusion that he’s not the right guy for you, which frees him up to find the woman of his dreams. Another good decision.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is that every day I talk to private clients who make two colossal mistakes when it comes to assessing men.

I’m guessing you do the same.

1) You fall in love with a guy within a few weeks, then spend 6 months trying to preserve that feeling, EVEN WHEN HE TREATS YOU LIKE CRAP.

This is a classic case of “you just know” being really misleading. All you know is that you’re intoxicated by him — what you seem to ignore is that he’s a terrible partner who doesn’t treat you with kindness or consistency and has absolutely no desire for a future with you.

2) You think that you MUST know in a short period of time whether he’s the one. And if you don’t have that “feeling,” you move on.

Bad call.

Here’s why.

Choosing a boyfriend is NOT the same as choosing a husband.

And you need to stop making it feel that way right now.

If you take your profile down to focus on a promising new man — even if you don’t have butterflies — it’s not a mistake.

You’re giving a new relationship a chance to grow and breathe.

If you give it a chance and it doesn’t feel right after a month or two or three, you move on, gracefully.

But if you refuse to give any new relationship a chance unless you have that “you just know” feeling, you will find yourself devastated over and over, because clearly you DON’T just know…

Stop thinking that just because you call a man your boyfriend that he HAS to be your husband.

Plus, you’ll never get to see what it’s like to enjoy the act of discovery that comes with merely committing to try on a new relationship.

I’ve often said, “If you’re always moving, you can’t build anything.”

And if you never give a guy a shot unless he takes your breath away, you are destroying your chances for lasting love.

It’s no secret. I wasn’t blown away by my wife. She wasn’t blown away either.

The entire time we were dating I was happy, but I questioned the relationship because it wasn’t what I thought it was supposed to look like.

When I finally proposed, I made an educated guess: I’d learned so much from my dating coaching practice, that I felt I’d be making a huge mistake if I let her go… just to find someone a few years younger with a similar background.

So was I SURE that we were “meant to be” and “soulmates” and all that?


But I was sure about this:

Every relationship where I was sure in the past blew up in my face.

This relationship was, by far, the easiest, healthiest, warmest one I’d ever had.

And if it didn’t meet what I THOUGHT it was supposed to feel like, that just meant that my EXPECTATIONS were WRONG.

Not the relationship.

My expectations.

Your expectations.

Of how it’s “supposed” to feel.

Were wrong.

I took a leap of faith based on my knowledge as a dating coach.

But you don’t have to. You can learn from what I’m sharing here.

I’m now 39 and happily married.

We own a big house in the San Fernando Valley.

We have a ten-month old daughter who makes us smile every day.

We’re having a New Year’s Eve karaoke party for couples in a few days.

And we both giggle when we think how easy it would have been to pass each other up, merely because we didn’t meet each other’s preconceived image of perfection.

Starting today:

– Stop falling in love with men you barely know. You need YEARS to really assess his worthiness as a life partner.

– Stop giving a free pass to men who give you that FEELING. Chances are, that FEELING allows you to ignore a TON of red flags.

– Stop thinking that just because you call a man your boyfriend that he HAS to be your husband. Dating is a 2-3 year audition — and at any point, either party has the right to break it off if he/she feels that the next 30 years would be a mistake.

– Stop thinking that you have to “just know.” Your gut has led you astray every single time. Maybe this is a good time to use your head a little bit.

Please let me know what you think of this post in the comments section below.

And if I don’t hear from you — if you’re one of the readers who lurks, but never posts – thanks for making this blog into the success it’s been.

Over 1 million people have visited in 2011 to learn more about dating, relationships, and the opposite sex, and I’m honored to be a part of the conversation.

Warmest wishes and a very Happy New Year.


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  1. 41

    Evan, you mentioned that dating to find a husband is a 2 -3 year audition, but I’m guessing, like me, most of the women reading this blog are aged 35-45 and if we give each man that long we will run out of time to have the happy married life we want and certainly any chance of children. What do you think?

  2. 42

    So… what is worse: Rushing into marriage with the wrong person just so you can have a baby, or taking your time to find some one who is the right partner for you (but forgo having children if finding that person takes longer & your eggs pass their sell-by date)?

    I’ve seen quite a few women that hit 35 & become “baby-crazy” – desperately on the hunt for a baby-daddy so they can have a baby (or two) before they hit 40. This backfires on multiple levels. Firstly, guys can sense the desperation and it pushes them away; and secondly, if you manage to hook a “baby-daddy” and all you have in common with  them is your desire to produce & rear a child(ren), IMHO the relationship is not going to last too well.  

    I’ve seen more than a few marriages end in divorce as soon as the youngest child hit 18 / went away to college. With no children around, Mom & Dad had nothing to talk about /  activities they shared. They were co-parents and that was about it.



  3. 43

    I know Evan has a different opinion on this, but I have been of the belief that if a man is never married with no children (but wants both) and in his late 30s, then it won’t take longer than one year for him to propose. This was what I heard from dating coaches and matchmakers who noticed this pattern with their male clients. Sometimes, those men wanted to propose even sooner, and the coaches told them to slow down!
    This advice held true with my husband, who was 37 when I met him, never married and with no kids. We had a serious conversation about marriage after six months and then the proposal came six months after that. We were ring shopping around nine months.
    I just feel that when you’ve reached a certain point in your life, you know what you want and you don’t feel the need to prolong the process. I know this is not true of every man, but my personal experience and the advice I was given went in this direction.

  4. 44

    Although I agree with you, that you need to give people space to “audition”, I’m sure that Ive always had a level of chemistry with anyone that I’ve been happy with, and that I could’t create that with my head. The chemistry can disapate, when you get to know someone but I’ve never had it the other way around.

  5. 45

    This post fits well with my current relationship.   I started 2011 with the attitude that I was going to meet and date as many men as I could.   I went on one date with a man this spring and told him I was not looking for a relationship and that I was only interested in dating for the time being.   He was very persistent and we went on quite a few more dates and after two months and him having asked me twice, I decided I was ready to be in a committed relationship.   I hadn’t gone out on a date with any other men.   After initially  meeting him, and after date #1 I knew he was a nice guy but I really didn’t think I would end up having very strong feelings for him.   Well, I was very wrong.   I suppose I wanted that spark right away, I expected him to be different, I expected how we ‘were’ around each other to be different.   I didn’t expect it to be so relaxed and comfortable, I expected more ‘excitement’ and butterflies I guess you could say.   We were just so comfortable around each other and it didn’t take me very long to decide I would like to spend the rest of my life with him.   On New Year’s Eve, much to my surprise (I didn’t think he would be ready so soon) he proposed to me!   It was romantic beautiful and wonderful and I’m ecstatic!   What would have happened if I had turned down date #2 because I wasn’t super excited about him?   Wow, I would have missed out.   I could have chosen many different paths and none of them would have led me to him, I’m thankful everyday I wake up next to him.  

  6. 46

    Congratulations Erinlee! 🙂   So, you’re telling me that you just met him in 2011, and in less than a year, he proposed?   Yep, that fits with my experience!  
    Many happy wishes to you as you two build your life together!

  7. 47

    We met the week of February 14th.   Thank you for the congrats and wishes 🙂

  8. 48

    @ Margaret #23.   I would like to follow up my original post with my age which is 51.   My fiance is 50.   Love CAN and DOES  happen after 40. We are getting  married in October.   It’s not a loss cause.   You just need to keep believing and putting yourself out there.   Don’t give up!!

  9. 49

    This entire thread has given me such HOPE!   I’ve been reading Evan’s blog for a while (a few months) and rarely ever replied to any of his blog posts… but after reading it and the responses, I had to reply!
    I have made a decision to go on as many dates/meet-n-greets as I can this year (no less than 30!) and everyone’s success stories are really inspiring me.
    And I agree with Evan’s post too – I think so many of us get caught up in how we think we should feel and how we expect to feel that we can truly miss out.   I had an experience in the past where I actually overlooked someone pretty amazing and only discovered the amazingness through a long friendship.   That situation hasn’t panned out sadly, but it’s convinced me not to overlook certain men just because they don’t “look” how we women are told they are supposed to look like.   It turns out – the problem wasn’t him – it was my warped expectations of what love was supposed to be like.   I can honestly say I’ve learned more about love and relationships from that friendship than from any past relationship I’ve had.  
    Hopefully I will be able to put that knowledge to good use in the future.

  10. 50

    “Literally every single woman reading this has had a feeling that felt true, but turned out to be false.”

    Nope, not true for me.   I feel like he might be The One sometimes, like he has potential, but so far I have never felt that he is.   That didn’t stop me from dating and even marrying guys, and some of those have been incredible relationships.   I think that one day I will feel like I have met The One, and I agree that it might take years to feel that way.

  11. 51

    I just found your blog this evening and have been reading with wide eyes.
    Since my divorce I have been doing a lot of personal counselling and have grown hugely over the last few years…but you have encapsulated everything about what went wrong, what I need and needed to hear about dating.
    Excellent. You’ve gained a loyal blog follower.  

  12. 52

    I did like what you said and used my head. i am extremely happy in my marriage as a result.  

  13. 53

    So new to the dating world after a long marriage that ended in divorce and already have made so many of the mistakes you’re warning of.  

  14. 54

    I believe the older you get the more you get out of finding a boyfriend mode and into finding that perfect husband mode which in turn leads you to be too picky or in some cases desperate.   I never found myself looking for a husband.   I was roommates with my husband before we even became a couple and then one day it hit me,   he would make a good boyfriend.   After being together for 4 years I then realized he would make an amazing husband and father.   Going from looking for a boyfriend and looking for a husband shows a big sign of maturity in a person.

  15. 55

    Hi Evan,
    Thanks for this blog, I too have fallen for that trap of pursuing relationships because I got that feeling or the butterflies in my stomach, only to be left wondering what happened a year down the track, or what I saw in the guy!

  16. 56

    Margaret, I had the same fears about being too old to find a desirable man as a single woman, but decided at 54 I was missing out on life, and had a 6-month crazy fling with a man in his 20s, which was in some ways hilarious, but put me back in the game, and shortly after that was contacted by a friend from back in high school, a year older than me, who basically I had not seen in 35 years, and who has turned out to be just a delight. I don’t know where our relationship will ultimately go, but at 55 (and cosmetically unenhanced) I am getting more male attention than I ever did before. Or, rather, than I was willing to receive before, and I think that has made all the difference. Be open to the universe, things happen. And it doesn’t hurt to keep your look updated either, the younger man taught me a few things about that. Nice hairdo, makeup, and contemporary clothes show you at your best. You may well be far more hip than I was in this regard, but if not, get a makeover.

    I just went and had a professional boudoir photo session done and I totally recommend this as another way to reinforce your feelings of attractiveness and sexiness, what a trip!

    I also have a friend around 60 who has been dating for several years and has found Mr Right, who is 65, healthy, handsome, and has a huge…sailboat.

    1. 56.1
      Lynn (the other one!)

      Happy, very well said! Especially about being open to receiving. A really valuable practice. I’m 56 and get almost more attention than I have time for, which is kinda startling. This week I’ve been asked out by a 60 year old and had a wonderful first date, and who followed up right away to express his delight and set up a second one. (Thanks for teaching me what to watch for, Evan, and how to be a great date.)
      The one who’s 44 is graciously persistent and patient with my current busy schedule. We’re going out in a couple of days. I had reservations about the age difference but the irony is my rule has always been if the man is closer in age to my oldest (32) or my dad (83), ix nay. So who comes along? A 44 yr old who is exactly midway between my oldest’s age and mine. Too funny.  
      I love simply sitting back and seeing who shows up and makes an effort. It’s taken work to get out of expectation mode but it’s worth it. Now I focus on enjoying meeting a new person. The 60 yr old guy I just went out with expressed it really well: every new person I meet is someone who may change the course of my life in ways I can’t know right away. Or they may not. But each new person is exciting.

      1. 56.1.1
        Lynn (the other one!)

        p.s. Guy #3 this week, who has been giving less effort and comments that sometimes just cross the border from flirtatious to sexually suggestive (which I’ve been sitting  back and rolling with to see how it unfolded) just asked me to come meet at his place for first meeting/date.   Can you hear my eyes rolling. Not only no, but hell no!  
        In my profile I’m cheerful but candid that if someone’s looking for a casual fling or FWB to please pass me by. This one didn’t pass me by but he’s self selected early on. Next!

  17. 57

    Thank you Evan! I just stumbled onto your blog tonight, from Rori Raye’s site. And I think I’m addicted! I’ve been reading all your posts. It feels like you know me and are writing to ME, specifically.
    Very refreshing and blunt advice, and deep down, I know you’re right. I’ve been in and out of relationships, waiting for that special “aha!” moment when I would just know I’d found the one. Well, I’ve had several, and always end up disappointed and leaving the relationship. I don’t think the problem is the men – it’s me and my expectations! Your blog is like having a mirror held up in front of me…
    Thank you!

  18. 58

    Loved this blog! Dated a guy for 5years. It was wild n crazy and then realised we would make each other miserable if we ever got married. We broke up a year ago. I nw have a bf for 2mnths. Its nt wild n crazy but its the “easiest, warmest” relationship either of us have ever bn in! N he cnt wait till we r married sum day. Startd saving!

  19. 59

    Shared on facebook…thank you for your thoughts and advice, Evan. :o) Anne

  20. 60

    Smartest blog on relationships I’ve ever read.   The guy I’ve been seeing for a year and a half and I feel this way about each other, except he’s convinced he might want to experience something more sparky before he settles down (we’re 31, so it’s not like we’re extremely young to be thinking about marriage).   I don’t get it.   I told him this was different because it’s got both passion and compatibility, even if the compatibility didn’t reveal itself til later.   In fact, this relationship only became more passionate as the compatibility seemed to increase, after getting to know each other.   Initially we were attracted to each other but not super attracted, and that’s why sparks weren’t flying all over the place.   But what can I do?   You can’t force anyone to do anything.   I should probably move on…

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