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

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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  1. 31

    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! 🙂


    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.

  2. 32


    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.

  3. 33

    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.

  4. 34

    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!

  5. 35

    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!

  6. 36


    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.

  7. 37


    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.

  8. 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 🙂

  9. 39

    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. 🙂

  10. 40


    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.

  11. 41


    Pardon my saying so, but Moxie is a bitch-and-a-half. She didn’t ban me either, per se, but she was clearly frustrated and angry at the things I had to say. She kept dredging up this ‘question’ I posed to her, like 2 years before, and throwing it in my face every time I said anything on any of her posts. For some reason it was VERY controversial for me to state that most men don’t do it for me. She called me some names, and when I realized I was getting nowhere but more upset I stopped reading her blog altogether. Why feed that energy?

    Seriously, if anyone here wants to feel suicidal about being single, just read Moxie’s blog! There’s no hope going on there and a whole lot of nastiness.

  12. 42

    Heather! OMG- the same thing happened to me!!! Wow…seriously, we really do lead parallel lives! Yeah- um wouldn’t you think a blogger would want to be decent to people if they wanted posters to keep coming back? i don’t know…

    well- this is the thing, it’s not that she started out that way- it’s when someone disagrees with her ‘assessments’ that things go haywire. That’s why I keep saying, I prefer to keep coming back here- at least if there’s disagreement, you don’t suddenly feel like you’re going to be mauled by online tigers.

  13. 43


    I’m sorry you feel so down right now. And I really feel for you because I, too, once thought that I needed a man to fill my life with happiness, to make me feel beautiful and more confident, etc. I used to feel down whenever I was alone, I really wanted to find love, I even moved to another country for a while looking for love.

    I do agree with Anette C: you shouldn’t give up hope of one day finding someone who is perfect for you, even if you have to wait until you’re 60; however, it also sounds like you shouldn’t be in a relationship right now because you first need to get out of your depression, work on gaining more self-confidence and on being happy.

    Ultimately, only you can make yourself happy, so you should focus on that. And when you feel happy and confident (qualities that both men and women find attractive), you can open yourself to sharing your life with someone.

    I also think that it would be unfair to the other person to bring all these issues, especially the depression, into a relationship. Would you want to date someone who was depressed? I once dated a guy who was depressed, and finally I couldn’t take it anymore because I was tired of trying to get him to feel better all the time and I would start to feel down myself.

    Everyone’s got their own path to happiness, as for me, I decided that I would work on being the best person that I can be so when I do meet my special someone, I’ll be bringing the best of me into our relationship.

    So, I stopped dating for a while; I went to therapists; I read relationship books; I leaned on my friends and family and talked their ears off; it would have been great to have a blog like this to vent and get advice; I spent a lot of time by myself thinking, reading, doing things that I liked until I learned to be comfortable being by myself and happy with myself. And then I started dating again, but being a lot more selective.

    A quote I recently read: “Strive to become like the man you always wanted to marry.” Or, put another way, it’s only fair that you possess the same qualities that are on your list of qualities to have in a partner. I bet you don’t have depression on that list. So, while you’re striving to become the best you can be, remember what Jennifer (#33) said, if you exist, someone like you exists out there, and I hope you find him one day soon!

  14. 44


    I appreciate what you are saying, but depression is not something you can just cast off like a bad habit. I’ve been doing therapy, reading books, blogging, soul-searching, talking to friends, etc. for two+ years now. I have refrained from dating, simply because it seems to be an activity I don’t get much of an opportunity to take part in.

    I will be the first to admit I’m not perfect, but I am nothing like the women featured in psycho-ex-girlfriend stories I hear all the time. I take offense to the notion that people who suffer from depression don’t *deserve* to be loved, because that trait doesn’t make it onto people’s wish lists for mates. It’s like you just condemned me to love’s trash heap!

    I am not looking for a man to bolster my confidence or make me complete, I’ve gotten over that. I lament that life is passing me by. I am regretful that this wonderful body I live in is going to waste. I am sad that I can’t reach out and touch the face of someone I truly love and look into his eyes and smile. I am afraid I will be old one day and looking back with the same regret when my body is no longer a source of pleasure and my time is up.

    I’ve knocked myself out in life. I’m successful, I’m pleasant, I’m intelligent, I’m attractive, I didn’t do drugs or even drink for most of my life. My credit is perfect. Now I find out that none of that is good enough? Wouldn’t you be depressed too if you sacrificed and suffered all those years for … nothing? It’s like I spent my life scaling a mountain reaching for some prize at the top and when I finally got up there it turned out it was some dirty trick and there wasn’t anything there at all.

    I’m 37. I’m old enough to have paid my dues and I’m not asking for the moon on a silver platter. I’m not content that my life should be devoid of a meaningful and close relationship with a man, because that is something I’ve always wanted. I’m tired of people telling me there’s something wrong with me for wanting that. Is there something wrong with all the coupled people out there for also wanting that?

    I know I am worthy of love, I just can’t find the right person. I don’t know if there’s anything anyone can do for me, or why I even go on and on about this stuff. I guess I wonder why so many other people don’t have as much trouble with this as I do. I may have finally gotten to the tipping point where I don’t want to hear about it anymore.

  15. 45

    Heather, there’s a difference between wanting something and needing something. Would I like a million bucks in my bank account? Sure, but I don’t have a psychological need for a million bucks in my account. The fact that I only have a few thousand in it doesn’t make me unhappy.

  16. 46

    Heather, I feel exactly the same way as you and I am exactly in your situation! I’m 2 weeks away to being 30 and I feel like my life is flying by me without someone to share it with.

    What I told myself is that, no…I don’t NEED to be able to find that special someone or to get married eventually. I think I should be able to survive without.

    BUT I NEED to know that I have the CHANCE to do that. And to have the chance, I need to get myself together and go date some guys. My comfort at the end of my life would be that I had gone through the process. And I shall enjoy discovering myself, God and men in the process.

    I gave myself the chance to find him and I gave him the chance to find me. If we never got to meet, it must be God’s will. I leave my life in God’s hands and trust that He will do what is best for me. (Sorry to the folks who are offended. Just my personal faith.)

    Yes. I made an agreement with myself to be happy and contented with enjoying the process, collecting memories (silly, laughable, crazy, etc) so that if I am ever married and have kids, I can share with them…or just chuckle to myself when I am sitting on the rocking chair alone.

    What I dread is that I look back at the end of my life and regret that I did not try…

  17. 47

    I dread that exact same thing. I therefore made up my mind that I would not worry about outcomes so much as giving it an effort when it comes to dating. The funny thing is that since I made up my mind I would go for what I want, I haven’t met any men I am interested in. The world is filled with men I see as being so essentially different from myself that I cannot imagine dating or bonding with them. Statistically, it doesn’t stand to reason that I should ever find love.

    I’m glad I’m growing weary of the topic – I just hope I don’t become this horrible matronly and sexless being in the process of living single.

  18. 48

    Hey Heather, I don’t think you get what I mean.

    It was just a couple of months since I decided this and nothing has come out of it yet. But I’m having fun and looking forward to meeting men. I have decided to throw away my checklist of potential future husband and just get to know men first.

    As I decide upon this, I just try to observe and get to know men in general. There are even sparks with men who are totally different from me as well. Nothing serious yet.

    My goal is enjoying the process now instead of getting out of singlehood.

    I find that if I keep searching for men I am interested in, I get disappointed that there is none. So, I rather be interesting and attract men who are interested in me. If they come, then I can decide whether anyone is interesting enough to keep. If there’s none to keep, at the end of the day, I’ll have an interesting life at least. Hahahha…

  19. 49


    Good luck to you in your process! I hope it is fun and you learn about yourself too. That’s what life is all about, right? You’re at a good place and 30 is a great age to be!

    I wish I could have the same attitude as you but I’m afraid my process of self discovery has yielded some not so great realizations about myself. I either have to change or continue where I am. I don’t think I can do it. I’m very insecure about myself in the manners that are specifically important to dating. I’m not comfortable in my own skin. I don’t know how to begin to change these things, and, thus far, my research and therapy have only opened my eyes to the problem. I have a long road ahead of me yet.

  20. 50

    Heather, no worries. I am not so steady on my feet on this either. I try very hard to remind myself of this each day. We can only try. 😀

    May your coming year be filled with cheers, comfort and companionship. 😉

  21. 51
    lux aeterna

    Heather, how are you getting on? I’ve read all these comments and would love to know if you’ve made any progress.

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