(Video) The Secret To Successful Relationships (According to Grandma)

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I’ve often said that I didn’t get smarter when I got married; I got married when I got smart. Nothing illustrates this more clearly than this short video.

The very qualities we spend our whole lives chasing: in my case, younger, East Coast, Jewish, financially successful, intellectual types – are not always the best long term fit. In our quest to find opposite sex clones, we often ignore what’s most important: the partner who loves you unconditionally.

Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 21
    Heather

    And furthermore, I blame phenomena like Disney for promoting this whole dreams/fantasies can come true and there is a Prince Charming out there for all of us ‘Princesses’. Total B.S. in the face of reality. Every time I find myself going down that magical path of believing in love I end up getting some ugly unpleasantry in its place. Life is just a series of unhappy lessons, particularly the love part of life.

    At my age I know that my options are limited and that the likelihood of finding love hinges on one key thing: being open and giving people chances (ie. ‘settling’.) Nobody ever gave me a chance or opened their heart to me when I asked them to. It’s totally unfair that I should be asked to do that. I’m not backing down.

  2. 22
    Evan Marc Katz

    @Kristyn – I ABSOLUTELY passed up some amazing women when I was single and in my early 30’s. I hadn’t learned the hard lessons yet – and perpetually sought out the most impressive women, instead of focusing on the ones who made me feel the best about myself. It is from this place that I offer advice – not from some married man pedestal. I am just like all of my readers – the only difference is that I tried to stay positive and go on a date or two every week whenever I was single. Eventually, if you do that, good things will happen.

  3. 23
    Heather

    Uhm … assuming you can get one or two dates a week! 😛

  4. 24
    A-L

    Heather,

    Happy birthday! I’m sorry to hear that you’re down in the dumps right now. I do have to agree with Joe though that it’s obvious when someone feels desperate, and it’s not attractive. And desperation is not only for single women, I’ve seen it in the men as well.

    I’ve spent that vast majority of my life single and I don’t feel as though the world is just for coupled-up people. I think you’re more sensitive to couples issues, and that’s why it seems that way. If someone asked me if I had a boyfriend I’d just say “no” and 95% of the time think nothing of it. It’s as though someone’s asking you if you have a dog, or if you went on vacation over the summer, or any other question that can spark a discussion. But it’s not assumed that you have a boyfriend or should have one or that you’re unhappy if you’re not coupled up.

    Also, I think you mentioned that you’re seeing a counselor and I can only recommend that strongly for you. If you only find a couple of men even worthy of going on a date with every few years then you might indeed be suffering from some Disney-influenced fantasies that need to be dealt with. And think of it this way. How many men did you encounter/interact with over the course of these years. 200? 500? 1000? More? And only 3 or 4 have captured your interest? If the men you’re interested you criteria as strict as yours than odds are excellent that they will pass you by as well. Just something to think about.

  5. 25
    Ruby

    Heather #20

    “If I was desperate I would be with someone, he wouldn’t be the guy I want to be with, but I wouldn’t be alone. Nobody ever congratulates me for making a life for myself, having a somewhat successful career, or having the strength to face life alone in a world reeking of happy couples. It’s always: Do you have a boyfriend? , Are you married yet? , Anyone special in your life? ”

    Maybe you’re hanging out with the wrong people? You SHOULD be proud of yourself for being independent, for not settling, and for your accomplishments. Congratulations! And no, 37 is not too old to find a partner. How about going on a couple of dates a MONTH?

    I’m wondering if part of the problems is your negativity. You seem very down on yourself, despite the fact that you have, in fact, accomplished so much on your own. Those strengths can and will carry you through life, whether you are in a relationship or not. Obviously, confidence is always more attractive than unhappiness. A man can’t make you believe in yourself if you don’t.

    I haven’t found “the one” and I’m older than you are. But I also know that if I give up, it never will happen. And with the divorce rate around 50%, I hardly think that ALL the couples in the world are happy ones.

  6. 26
    Heather

    A-L:

    I DO think about those odds – I live with them every day. Why do you think I’m so down?

    I don’t know how you escaped the desire to have a mate, but congratulations to you on that! I’ve found that my life simply isn’t much fun when one is ‘alone’. Call me crazy but a lot of the things I want to do in life (like travelling, buying a house, having sex, bonding on an emotional level) just seem like they’d be better with a partner. It sucks even more if you can’t even have fun as a single person.

    My entire life I’ve dreamed of my perfect mate – not a perfect man, but a man who is perfect for me. He isn’t a 10 and he doesn’t have $1 million in the bank. He’s like me: smart, creative, shy, misunderstood and unique. He distrusts religion, dresses in black, and thinks weird stuff is really cool. He doesn’t want to grow up and be a square but he knows how to take care of himself. He’s somewhere between a punk rocker and a nerd and doesn’t like small children at all. And if you met 10,000 men you’d never find a single one like him. It isn’t easy to face the reality that he isn’t going to ever show up and be mine.

    I only feel ‘alive’ when I’m in love. If that makes me desperate or pathetic, then so be it, I am. 🙁

  7. 27
    sayanta

    Heather-

    Happy b-day! I’ve been in your shoes- so I totally understand. I will say, though, A-L is always one of the voices of reason on this blog. 🙂 And I’ll have to go with what she’s saying. It’s advice I actually need to take myself- and she’s made some right on target observations about the whole couplehood thing.

    I totally admit that I’m a huge romantic who’s obsessed with fairy tales (even now), and I’ve learned that the dreamy, creative, fall-in-love-easily energy is a beautiful thing to have, especially when you’re among ‘practical’ results-oriented people. But, I think the best thing to do is to channel that energy into other creative pursuits, just for sanity’s sake.

    And one more thing- you’ve talked about how everyone seeks to ‘blame’ you for your problems. Well, I think ‘blame’ is a strong word, but the truth is we’re all responsible for the kind of energies we give off, and the way we come across to others. We’re NOT responsible for what others think about us, but that doesn’t really matter, does it? Not in the big scheme of things.

    As you can all probably tell from my posts, I’ve had those ‘hater’ days as well- and while they’re not fun, after I get out of them, I’m always prone to spending a few days soul-searching and deciding what it is I’m doing, or could do differently, to attract different kinds of results in my life, whether it be in relation to jobs, men, etc. And I’ve always noticed that the thoughts I’ve had affect my interaction with men, or anyone for that matter.

    For example, this past weekend, I went on a ‘cultural’ group activity. I wasn’t expecting to meet men, didn’t really care if I did, because honestly, this event was something that I had been wanting to go to for ages, and seeing it was all I really cared about. So…I went to this event in a really good mood, and there were a few guys there that I ended up having a REALLY good time talking with (i know, i know, right after I wrote my ‘men have no interests’ hater posts :-)).

    Now- backtrack to last year, when I had gone to another cultural activity with a very different mindset. At that particular activity, I was in my “I hate all men, but at the same time I really want to meet them” mood. There were attractive guys there, but they all stayed far away from me, and needless, to say, I came home in a funk worse than the one that I’d left in.

    So- how to explain this? Well…I’m not going to discount that the type of males that are in a certain event make a difference. But in my case, I am absolutely certain that my easygoing mood this past weekend prompted those guys to talk to me. And I was having an awful hair day on top of that! Whereas last year, when no men had talked to me, I’d gone to the event looking like a total hottie (not to sound high on myself, just making a point).

    So…this is the thing. You’ve just posted a huge rant on how men just don’t like you, etc. So now you’ve established a certain mood. You have these thoughts of ‘men don’t like me’ going in your head. Let’s say for talking’s sake, you head over to Starbucks after typing all this. There’s five attractive, eligible men sitting there sipping their lattes. Honestly, do you think you’re going to give off a friendly vibe with everything that you’ve been thinking about men still coloring your thoughts? Probably not. I, for one, have been told by my girlfriends that I always have a huge scowl on my face after I’ve done ranting about men.

    When it comes to negativity, I can be a huge culprit myself, so I understand. But it’s sad seeing other people go through this as well. I’m also concerned that you don’t believe you can have self- confidence considering your experiences. Only because it’s dangerous to base your confidence on external factors- it’s a sure recipe for heartbreak.

    I don’t necessarily agree with every single thing that Evan says on this blog, but there is one piece of advice that he always gives that’s a goodie- “can’t change the world, you can only change yourself.”

    I would modify ‘yourself’ to ‘how you react to things.’ The thing is- changing doesn’t mean there’s ‘something wrong with you.’ It means that you (as in all humans) are perfect in imperfection (a Zen parable talks about this), but that it’s necessary to adapt to the world you live in as long as doing so works for the highest good of all involved, including yourself.

    And Heather, I really hope you don’t think I’m going off on you here, but I have to say something. I’ve read a lot of your posts. I can’t quote verbatim here, but haven’t you said that you’ve met men that you just couldn’t feel chemistry with, even though they were wonderful men? And that you have had boyfriends, and good male friends? Well, then obviously you don’t repel men. I think I know what you’re saying. Why can’t you have fireworks and companionship right away with the right guy instantly, this year? trust me, we all want that- but I’m learning, that fireworks can mean a lot of things- and that it can build instead of exploding at once. And sometimes you do have to bow to time.

    Like I’ve said ad nauseam, I’ve been in your place (particularly in my mid-20s), and I honestly think that what’s always helped me is taking a break from men. Break meaning not even thinking about romance, dating, etc. For me, creative work, spirituality, meditation, etc. helps. It might be different for you, but I think maybe you might benefit from doing something that takes you away from thinking about these issues so much. Volunteer work, maybe?

    I know that love and companionship are things that all people, regardless of race, religion, nationality, etc. cherish. But we Americans have been spoiled in a lot of ways. Because the standard of living is so high, and the average American isn’t faced with horrific conditions face-to-face in everyday life (dire poverty, torture, etc.) it’s very easy to get caught up in our own problems, brooding on them, becoming narcissistic, etc. That’s why I think it always helps to find a cause to work toward- not to sound like a goodie-goodie, but it can help you get out of yourself for a while and feel connected to the world around you. And when you do that, it can raise your spirit to the point where you don’t really want to brood anymore.

    Wow- this was a long response. Hope at least some of it made sense.

    BTW, A-L- I have to say, you’re younger than me, but you’re so mature! I’m always really impressed with your insights- you seem like such a calm, reasonable person. Your boyfriend’s probably thanking his lucky stars every day. 🙂

  8. 28
    Heather

    Ruby:

    A couple of dates a month? If I am approaching dating as grudgingly as I have been, should I even bother anymore? It’s like work. Not just work but the part of your job you hate and put off the most over the course of your workday. I have in my possession the phone numbers and potential leads for a few dates but I just can’t go through with it. I know they aren’t my type and I have reservations about all of them so I don’t feel too compelled to call. What am I supposed to say? “Uhm … I don’t think you’re my type, I have no clue what to talk to you about, and I’m a little bit afraid you might actually become interested in me, but I *should* be dating so I thought I’d call.” – ?

    I am not a happy person and being alone isn’t helping the situation. It’s one of those vicious circle things. Having someone special in my life makes me feel like I have something to live for and it lifts my spirits. This is where therapy and advice have backfired on me: The more I learn about dating and people the more I realize how much of a disadvantage I am at. I’m depressed, I’m shy and I have very little self-confidence when it comes to sex or talking to men I’m attracted to. I’m attractive and easy to get along with and I have a ton of great qualities, but the most important things are lacking, so what does it matter?

  9. 29
    Heather

    Sayanta –

    Thanks for your thoughts, you aren’t going off on me. I’m just having a pity party here. It’s the holidays and I feel extra lonely. I can’t do a damn thing to change my luck right this instant so I’m going off on the world.

    I don’t know about volunteering. I’ve thought about it, but I’m not a big fan of humanity (which is probably one of the root causes of my problems with men). Besides, I don’t have a clue what I’d do or where to start looking for an assignment.

  10. 30
    Anette C

    I’m sorry for you troubles Heather I really am but here’s something that I was once told, and I’ve realized how incredibly accurate it is about myself( and pretty much everyone else in a modern developed society).

    The only common demoninator in every single relationship, that failed…was me. It’s true.

    Changing oneself, or looking for something different has nothing to do with settling for 2nd best. I think it’s more about getting rid of our tendency, sorry to say …of being a bit narcissistic and going for the person that we think will make us happy without really trying to make ourselves happy. It’s all about us, being happy. Never an extention of ourselves towards the other individual.

    I see couples, cute guys very plain women , talkative people with quiet people, ambitious people with ambitious people, sedate people with athletic and active people and people that just looks so plain average you don’t get it till you see them interact with their loved one.

    No-one is a victim, and if it’s not working..it’s you. It may not be a “quality” you have that is bad, it can simply be that you are going for the wrong kind of man. I realized this a few years ago, when I met a man that I really really came to care for in such a different way. I now know what it is I need and it is so incredibly different than I realized most of my life. And I was looking in all the wrong places.

    The common denominator will alway’s be you. This is harsh, but it’s absolutely 100% true. So figure out what’s wrong and don’t be a victim. You may have to change, and I don’t mean..by getting a boob job or dating some-one dreadful. Your standards on what you are looking for, might be simply not what you really want when it comes to a relationship.

    I can expand on my own personal experiences if you want.

    Oh and merry christmas everyone 🙂

  11. 31
    A-L

    Sayanta: Thanks for the compliments! If I’m not careful I’ll get a swell head and won’t be able to get through the door! 🙂

    Heather,

    Right now I completely agree with you and others that you shouldn’t try dating right now. Take a break and get your mind off of it entirely.

    Volunteering is a great way to do it. Ok, so you say you’re not all that into humanity. What are you interested in? If you’re interested in animals you can try the SPCA or the Humane Society or other similar groups. The arts? Then contact your local theater/opera/symphony/museum/whatever and see how they could use your help. The environment? There are various organizations around, and the Sierra Club could probably direct you to some if you’re completely unable to find any yourself (the environmental groups where I live are quite local). If you’re interested in intellectual stuff maybe you might want to contact a high school to see if their quiz bowl team needs help, or they’d even be interested in having you coach the quiz bowl team. And there are numerous other possibilities depending on where your interests lie.

    So, what if volunteering’s not for you? Maybe you want to take up a hobby like sewing or photography or acting (theater and comedy classes are supposed to be great at helping to overcome shyness). Or maybe you enjoy writing and finally want to take the time to write a collection of poetry or the great American novel. Maybe you say, to heck with waiting for Mr. Wonderful, I’ve been wanting to travel to X and then start planning your trip.

    But don’t put things off until you’re coupled. Go traveling. Going by yourself is not that scary, or you could go with a girlfriend if the two of you have similar interests available time. I’ve traveled in South America & Europe by myself without problems, and if my boyfriend hadn’t been around then I would have done China solo too. If you travel by yourself then you get to see exactly what you want to see without having to accomodate someone else’s interests. You can get up when you want to, go to bed when you want to, and ditch the town when you want to. Or if you’re really not a fan of going solo then you might want to go with a tour. Intrepid Travel and GAP Adventures generally don’t have single supplements, which is nice as a solo traveller. There are other, higher-end companies that don’t have any either but I’d have to research them.

    Also, don’t put off buying a house (if you want one). There’s no one you have to argue with as to why you prefer the house with the smaller garage but the larger kitchen (or whatever your priorities are). Then you can also decorate as you wish without having to negotiate everything.

    Because it’s possible that not only are you interested in getting a significant other because you’re happier during those times, but because you’ve also been wanting to travel, or own your own home, etc. So it all ties up together in this big giant ball when those other things really don’t need a significant other to do. Perhaps if there’s not so much built up around couplehood that it will decrease the pressure and be easier to find someone that you want to be with.

    Alright, this is turning into a novel too but just wanted to say that Sayanta and Ruby are giving good advice and that I hope things start going better for you.

  12. 32
    sayanta

    heather-

    well, you pretty much answered your own question, right? You hate humanity- of course that outlook is going to color everything in your life.

    Humanity’s done some pretty shitty stuff, no doubt. And it’s very easy to hate people sometimes. But i think it’s also important to focus on the good things that humanity has produced- arts, music, literature, the Buddha, Gandhi, etc. It’s not that we ignore the hateful stuff, but that we accept that shit happens and focus on the good stuff. Trust me, this is something I have to be mindful to repeat to myself often.

    And- I think it was your post- but didn’t you say that you got off a childhood of welfare and made a successful life as an architect for yourself? Well, that’s an amazing accomplishment. Have you thought about mentoring children/teenagers who’re in a similar situation to the one you’ve been in? Having a successful role model talk to them could do wonders. There are orgs on ‘Idealist.org’ that work with children like this- you’d have to do research.

    Again, I’ve been in the pity party situation myself- and I know from experience that all you end up doing is hurting yourself.

    Honey actually made a good point on one of the other posts- ‘happiness isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you choose’- or something like that. I’m really trying hard to make up my mind to choose it. It takes a lot of mindfulness, though. like anything else worth doing, it’s work.

  13. 33
    Jennifer

    Heather,
    Happy Belated Birthday. I’m sorry it kind of sucked for you.

    When you are in a better mood, i think you should come back and re-read these posts. You’ve been given some really good advice here. I especially like what Sayanta said about changing yourself cause you can’t change others; it’s not a way of blaming you, or saying something is wrong with you, but rather looking for actions you can take. Often times taking some sort of action is the only thing that makes people feel better.
    If you exist, I believe a man that you could love exists too. The type of guy who is perfect for a girl like you is probably feeling the way you are- mad that he hasn’t met you yet. It’s fine and normal to go through times of feeling down/mad/annoyed/resentful/whatever, but you’ve got to try to make those time as fleeting and temporary as possible. Otherwise you are just burning daylight 🙂

    So I get that you are in a bad place right now. I hope you come out of it soon and when you do come here and look at the advice from other posters with fresh eyes.

  14. 34
    Ruby

    Just wondering where you got these phone numbers, and how you know for sure the men aren’t your type if you haven’t met them yet? How can you get into a relationship if you don’t even want to date? I’ve found dating to be a fair amount of trial and error before you find someone you click with. The keepers (or even semi-keepers) don’t tend to appear all that readily.

    It may sound cliched, but again, I think you have to be (reasonably) happy with yourself BEFORE you try to have a relationship. Otherwise, you’re going to be very needy with whomever you are dating. You mention feeling depressed: have you ever been treated for that? Could it be a separate, physical issue that’s affecting your mood?

    And Anette, I’m interested to hear more of your story!

  15. 35
    Heather

    First of all, thank you all for offering me words of advice rather than condemning me. I can be a bit overbearing on this topic because it causes me A LOT of distress. Also I tend to think about it way too much, so I totally get where hobbies or volunteering can be an outlet for simply getting my mind off of the subject for long enough to remember that there is more to life than dating. I also think this wouldn’t bother me if I felt I had some sort of say or control in my own love life. My love life basically consists of getting rejected by men I want to date and having to reject the advances of men I don’t want to date. I feel like I’m trapped in a pool of irony and there’s nothing I can actively do about it. I’ve always been on the independent side, so I don’t crave a mate expressly for teamwork purposes. I just miss having intimate company and feel that I’m missing out on something very important in life.

    I do acknowledge that I am the common denominator. I can’t just blame it on the guys I’ve dated, and I tend not to. I am very introspective and have been in therapy for a couple of years trying to address this and take responsibility for it, or at least figure out what part of my brain is haywire. The main problem I’m having is that every time someone (be it one of the contributors here, my therapist, a close friend or a family member) tells me I need to change something about how I choose mates/dates I keep translating that into ‘I can’t have who I want’. Then I get this vision of myself with some guy I’m not remotely attracted to but who is ‘good for me’ and treats me well … and a part of me dies. I can’t let that happen to me!

  16. 36
    Heather

    Ruby,

    I know they aren’t my type because I’ve seen their photo or they’ve been referred to me by a matchmaking service that sends me men who are so not what I am looking for that I am 99% sure I won’t be interested. For me, dating involves forcing myself to meet men I’m not attracted to, because most men turn me off. How I even know that I want a man in my life is beyond me at this point. I guess I look at other couples and want what they have, or I wish I had an outlet for affection and sexuality – I really miss being touched and being able to touch someone I care about. Occasionally, a guy catches my fancy and I am willing to do anything to make it work. When you go through life with no options, you need to know how to compromise. Of course, it never works, because you can’t force a guy to date you or be interested in you, and there are some incompatibilities you can’t ignore (try as you might). The odds are really stacked against me and I am painfully aware of this.

    Depression: I’ve had it since puberty. It’s ruined my life, basically, but it’s also a part of who I am. I am being treated for it, but it will always be there, and I’m always going to be asking those around me to put up with it to some degree. I don’t like asking people to do things for me, especially boyfriends I am lucky to have and terrified of losing.

  17. 37
    sayanta

    heather-

    I wrote you a comment this morning- but I guess it didn’t go through- in short, I think you said that you’d had a tough childhood financially- didn’t you mention welfare? It’s an amazing accomplishment to have become an architect with a successful career after that. Have u considered mentoring teens in similar dire circumstances? It would be a good thing for them to see a role model who’s been sucessful. Idealist.org lists thousands of orgs that do this kind of work- you might wanna do some research.

    If you hate humanity- well…that’s pretty much the root of your problems. It’s easy to get into that phase, but I think it’s important to remember the good things that humanity has produces- art, lit, the Buddha, Gandhi, etc. Trust me, it takes a lot of mindfulness to remember that, but like anything worth doing, it’s work.

  18. 38
    Anette C

    Oh heather, you are really having a hard time of it. It can and does get better even with depression.

    What I did, when I really realized nothing was truly working for me, is I decided not to date and not to look. Next year I’ll be possibly putting myself out there again(hence finding blogs like this!! Awesome work Evan).

    It isn’t that I gave up on ever finding some-one. I just realized it didn’t matter if it took me till I was 60 to find that special some-one, nothing was ever going to change until I figured out what was wrong.

    Yes it sounds like there are issues, and things you have to deal with. Let go of the dating. Spend some time on hobbies, but really really focus on the hobby that you feel you could be passionate about for life, not just something to fill the time. Try different stuff(I know its very hard to motivate yourself with depression). for me, it was growing things…lol!! I found growing vegetables from seed to be wonderful. Anything at all that tweaks your interest and when you feel like “it’s not worth it” push yourself anyway.I’ve also found exercise of the variety I like, to be really beneficial.

    Start things slowly and start small. Tiny goals, and don’t berate yourself when you don’t achieve them. Just keep trying.

    When I say the common demoninator is you, it isn’t necessarily a critisism of your person. It could be that you simply can’t find things about yourself that are likeable, because of an inability to view yourself correctly. It could be anything at all.

    Make an agreement with yourself. Don’t try to date anymore. Learn about dating from a distance, and enjoy getting to know yourself and your capabilities as a young woman 🙂

    A man will never make you happy till you are happy yourself. A man will just love you and inspire you to be the best you can be. And you will do the same for him, when the time is right 🙂

  19. 39
    Heather

    Merry Christmas, People! And thank you Evan for letting me air my grievances here. I know I come across as a complete loon at times. Hell, I’ve been ‘banished’ from one dating blog for my comments (do you know ‘Moxie’?) so thank you for being kind enough to offer support to me in this crummy time.

    I’ve probably stated this before but there are two things driving me to this current insanity. 1) I am getting older (thank you, Anette for referring to me as a ‘young’ woman) and I know I’m running out of time to do something about my situation. That’s where the desperation is coming in. 2) I found the man I’ve been looking for much of my life (I know that sounds corny, but look at my bizarre preferences in men) and he wasn’t so much interested in me. This has prompted me to up the efforts in my search to find a ‘replacement’ for him, because unrequited love is torture. I’m not finding anyone remotely like him out there and since I’ve been given a taste of that dream person I’ve lost interest in the rest of the male population. I used to worry that nobody would ever love me, now I worry that I will never be able to love anybody.

    Anyhow, I hope 2010 is better for all of us. 🙂

  20. 40
    sayanta

    Heather-

    I don’t believe this! I was posting on Moxie too, and I wasn’t banned, but I had to get off it because she actually started insulting me and calling me stupid! LOL I was like….wow. That’s why I’m glad I found Evan’s blog- at least everyone here, including Evan himself of course, is respectful.

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