Why Would a Man Date Me If He Doesn’t Think I Am the ONE?

a couple sitting on a white couch

I have a lot of male friends who are currently dissatisfied with their relationships. They tell me how they’re sure the girl is not “the one” and how certain things just really bother them. Yet, for some reason, they do not leave…even after communicating their dissatisfaction and attempting to fix problems to no avail. This seems to be some sort of phenomenon that both men and women succumb to. However, my question is if a man’s reasons for staying until you just can’t take it any more are similar to that of a woman’s. Why on earth are my friends staying with women they feel they are merely settling for? Why not just move on when you know it’s not the right fit? —Yuri

I can write a novel about this subject, but first I want to ask you a question, Yuri.

Why don’t you ask your friends?

Seriously. I’m a happily married dating coach whose relationships never lasted for more than 8 months because I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time. I am literally the LAST person who can claim to identify with the “staying with the wrong one” guys.

Anyone who is staying in a dead-end relationship is utterly afraid of failure. What they don’t recognize is that being in a bad relationship IS failure.

I’ll bet if you ask them, in confidence, you will hear most of the things I’m about to mention now.

So, why would someone stay in a dissatisfying relationship?

1. Fear

Really, it all comes back to fear. One of my favorite quotes is “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” Anyone who is staying in a dead-end relationship is utterly afraid of failure. What they don’t recognize is that being in a bad relationship IS failure. Failure isn’t being single and dating. Failure is waking up every day dissatisfied, annoyed, hurt, and scared to either confront or leave your partner.

2. Loneliness

For many people, anyone is better than no one.

For me (and hopefully my readers), every second you’re with the wrong person is a second you’re not spending looking for the right person.

It’s called opportunity cost and it’s remarkable how people neglect to calculate the cost of spending four prime years with a person you wouldn’t want to marry.

But when you build a whole life with someone, you live together, you’re integrated into each others’ worlds, you’ve merged friends and family, the thought of extricating yourself is positively terrifying.

Remove your dissatisfying partner and suddenly, your dissatisfying world becomes even MORE lonely and depressing.

3. Sunk Costs

I was going to call this section “inertia” but it is really more of an extension of loneliness. After you put in a year of dating, you’ve built up something real. It may not be the thing you want to keep for the rest of your life, but it’s more substantial than most of the dates you’ve been on. The grass isn’t always greener, you know?

It’s like standing in a long line for a taco. If you’ve been in the line for twenty minutes and only moved ten feet, are you really going to get out of the line now? No, you’re going to continue to wait another half-hour to eat your crappy $3 taco; otherwise you’d have to leave your line and find a NEW line to wait in. Ugh.

People stay in relationships because of the sweat equity they’ve already put in, not necessarily because they’re enjoying the relationship itself.

4. Inconvenience

You know what’s really inconvenient? Having to find a new place to live. Buying a new couch because your partner owns the old one. Realizing that all of your friends are married and hanging out as couples. Writing an online dating profile. Going on first dates with total strangers. Filling up endless weeknights and weekends that were previously occupied by a partner.

The stakes are too high, and the rewards are too great to waste your life in a dissatisfying partnership.

Sometimes, it’s just easier to stay put.

5. Low self-esteem.

If you don’t like yourself, it’s easy to put up with bullshit.

It’s easy to say you deserve this.

It’s easy to think that because you “love” someone, your relationship should thrive.

It’s easy to think that your negative, selfish, clueless partner is the “best” you can do.

It’s easy to think that all relationships are hard and that if you continue to do the work that things will revert back to the way they were in the first month you met.

Except none of that’s true.

You don’t deserve this.

Love doesn’t conquer all.

You can do better.

Relationships should not be hard. They should be the source of unconditional love, support, laughter, and ease. They are the foundation on which your life is built. And if you’re on a shaky foundation, you’re not going to have a happy life.

So please, Yuri, share this article with your guy friends and tell them to get out now.

The stakes are too high, and the rewards are too great to waste your life in a dissatisfying partnership.

Join our conversation (43 Comments).
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  1. 21

    I can’t believe nobody has mentioned the girlfriend getting pregnant as a reason these otherwise inexplicable relationships go all the way. I have several acquaintances (not friends) who were fairly ambivalent about their girlfriends. Then came the pressure to get engaged. If that didn’t seal the deal (and it usually didn’t), along came an unexpected pregnancy, and a wedding shortly thereafter. The women couldn’t have been happier, although they all struck me as the nagging types. The men continued to be resentful, immature, poor communicators.  
    I find the whole process kind of horrifying, frankly. But it’s common enough.

  2. 22

    It’s a subconscious thing to do with what is familiar and people stay mainly due to internal   homeostasis   .     What needs to happen is an awareness that this is harmful and is not love.Then by raising   the level of consciousness     smarter healthier conscious   choices can be made. People who are in relationships that are not good for them are together because they are attracted to each other from the same level of familiar toxic pain. bad (chemistry) that people mistake for love. They have pain mixed up with love.   . Usually to do with their past. Only when becoming aware making a higher level conscious decision   to get away from anyone and anything that isn’t   good for you and is causing you harm and start choosing healthier relationships will things get better. Sadly you can’t MAKE another person become aware and wake them up. It’s an individual journey.

  3. 23

    Katarina .
      “21 I love this, Evan and I agree with you with #19.   Many women think men will know right away if we are the One if they are into us.   No…not really, at least not always.   Many men often don’t think that far ahead.   They are not programmed that way.   All they know if they like to spend time with a woman or not or whether she makes their life easier/more fun.   They keep coming back if she does.”
    Not saying that what you say doesn’t hold water.The poster here though is asking about men and women who are choosing to stay when it isn’t fun.

  4. 24

    This is a fantastic post and it serves as a great reminder that if we’re not happy, it’s up to us to make a change in our lives. Making this change in turn would likely provide us with new and wonderful opportunities.

  5. 25

    I don’t believe in the whole The One business.   That is, I don’t believe people have one person meant for them.   A One, sure.   Who’s to say if you kept looking you wouldn’t find someone as good for you or better?   Or if you’d already met and removed from consideration someone who’d be perfect for you  but one or both of you didn’t realize it?
    And yeah, whether or not someone is right for you depends on you and them, and where both of you are in your lives, and where you’re going in your lives.   Lots of people get married to the person they thought was The One, but later get divorced.   Does that mean they weren’t really The One?   No, not necessarily IMO–it just means they may have changed over time.   Just as people sometimes need to grow into someone who’s ready to be married, sometimes married people grow into someone who’s tired of being married.
    As far as the topic at hand, there’s definitely a lot of inertia involved, sometimes on the part of both partners.   A man who keeps dating a woman he knows he doesn’t have a future with could just like the companionship/sex/whatever and not want to have to deal with finding someone new.   A woman who keeps dating a man she knows doesn’t see a future with her might just not want to deal with finding a new man.

  6. 26
    Karmic Equation


    We agree. Being unsure is different than being dissatisfied. While you may have been unsure about your wife being The One, it doesn’t sound as if you were dissatified with your relationship. On the contrary, you sounded really content about your relationship and treated her as one of your top priorities throughout your courtship.

    I agree with Sparkling that a little doubt is a good for a relationship, because that means you’re not blind to the relationship’s (or your partner’s) flaws and are choosing to remain in the relationship in spite of them, with eyes wide open.

    My question was really to those who, perhaps in hindsight, remained in relationships where they sensed their partner was dissatisfied. Why not break it off yourself? Why wait for the other person to break it off? Why not confront the dissatisfaction head-on?

    I think Angie #20 may have answered that…either the significant other is lying to him-/her-self or the Not-the-One person is lying to him-/her-self.

    With all the talk about emotionally connecting and having a connection being important to having a relationship and sex, it seems dissonant to me that people wouldn’t sense dissatisfaction in their partner. Or if they sense it, be unwilling to address it head on.

    I think more of us are more capable of hiding uncertainty than dissatisfaction from our partners and that’s the way it should be. Uncertainty we need to work out on our own in our own heads. Dissatisfaction requires honest communication to resolve.

  7. 27

    I was once in a relationship with a man who, upon realizing that he did not see me as a long term prospect after 14 months of dating, continued to string me along faking a future with me in order to get his needs met in the present. When my gut told me to ask probing questions, he reluctantly admitted that he did not see a future with me and was just in the moment. So I made like the road runner and said, “BEEP! BEEP!” while making a quick exit. Six months latter, he met the woman of his dreams and is now happily married.  
    After that very painful experience, I have now learned to pay closer attention to my intuition and less to my heart because it has never failed me yet.  

  8. 28

    Angie # 17
    The second guy was and is a great guy, of course he deserves someone who appreciates him.   We can all benefit from growth and change.   That is the reason I read this blog and other books, and try to apply what I have learned is because I believe in doing my personal work.  
    Katrina Phang #21
    You wrote, “Many women think men will know right away if we are the one if they are into us.   No… not really, at least not always.”
    Good reminder, thanks!
    Joe # 26
    You wrote, “I don’t believe in the whole The One business.”
    Neither do I.   
    You wrote, “And yeah whether or not someone is right for you depends on you and them, and where both of you are in your lives, and where you are going in your lives.”
    You wrote, “Lots of people get married to the person they thought was The One, but later get divorced.   Does that mean that they weren’t really The One?   No not necessarily IMO – just means they changed over time.”
    I think you make a really good point.   At one point they were a match, something aligned for the two of them.   Just because the relationship ended does not mean it had no value.   All relationships end whether it’s a breakup or a death, relationships end.  

  9. 29

    I thought I met a “soul mate” once.   I didn’t put much faith in the concept then and don’t know.   I’d rather go in detached from the outcome and no expectations.

  10. 30

    Men are notorious for wasting a woman’s time.   That’s why my grandma warned me to never give a guy more than 1 year to make up his mind.   Most guys are just looking for the “bigger better deal” while stringing you along.   They just want sex, and they don’t leave because it might take some effort to get sex somewhere else.

  11. 31

    Evan @19 good perspective. how much time did you need before you decided to get married? It relates to LC’s post #31.
    I too am not much of a believer in the whole soulmate concept. I think if I give up that belief, it doesn’t mean I don’t want a long term meaningful relationship. I think why myself and possibly others who are soulmate fence sitters because we don’t want to give up on this concept of true love but then the whole idea is a scarcity based mentality. I’m sure there are maybe 1% of the entire population that is suited to me and my personality and in my living range.

  12. 32

    @Paula #32 and others who have commented on the concept of “The One”
    Like you, I do not subscribe to the idea that there is a single person in the entire world who is right for every individual.   But I also don’t think that this belief and the idea of soulmates are mutually exclusive.   Most people identify the word soulmate with instant connection and effortless emotional and mental closeness.   It has more to do with the emotional than the physical.   Having said that, why can’t there be multiple people in the world that meet this criteria?   What I am trying to say is that you CAN hold on to the idea of easy, connected love without holding out for that mythical “one”.   Sometimes people grow into soulmates; that doesn’t diminish the value of the relationship.
    @everyone who has wondered about people staying in dead end relationships
    In my general experience, it has to do with what has been mentioned already: fear of being alone, complacency, etc, etc.   My husband has a friend at this very moment who is in just such a relationship but is reluctant to end it.   His girlfriend doesn’t call him, doesn’t show any visible interest in him and responds half-heartedly to his communication attempts.   In his head, he has already moved on but neither of them can be bothered to take the step to actually finish what is clearly no longer working.   I cannot fathom such behaviour but am wary of passing judgement too quickly because I’m sure we have all known that kind of procrastination in other parts of our lives and have been slow to act even when we knew better.   The only thing that I cannot forgive him for is beginning the search without closing the door on his existing relationship.   Let your laziness and apathy impact your own life but don’t entangle someone else!!
    I have also seen another side to the story in my own life.   My husband was still with his ex when I met him at work.   That was an extremely turbulent relationship if I’ve ever seen one!   There were multiple breakups, all initiated by my husband but somehow they would end up back together.   He is a very private person so I didn’t know many of the details but I was able to surmise enough to know that a breakup or rekindling had happened.   I never understood it until I met her and got to know him better.   I was able to see the aftermath of one of the breakups firsthand and WOW!   I became involved because she called me a few times over the course of that weekend, crying and wondering where he was.   A friend and I were also with him once after the breakup when she harassed him by phone 8 or 10 times in the space of an hour until he finally answered.   Lo and behold, two months later, they were back together.   She had convinced him that she could change and that what they had was worth saving.   I was speechless and thought he was insane but obviously said nothing to him.   Two months after that he finally had enough and hasn’t looked back since.   The fact that it wasn’t working was very obvious to all of us watching from the outside but I guess he was reluctant to hurt her and she wanted him so very badly…

  13. 33

    @Skaramouche, yes good point about the definition of soulmate. I thought the same thing years ago i.e. it could mean someone whom you feel highly compatible and close with.
    I think the most interesting context for this word was expressed by Yogi Bhajan (I do kundalini yoga) was that “You are your soul-mate”. It’s an interesting way to look at it because usually we think a soul mate is outside of us but what if it is inside of us?

  14. 34
    Karl T

    Typical scorned woman’s remark.
    My grandmother would have a few words for your grandmother. You’re really blind if you don’t think many women don’t look for greener grass or simply wealthier men. You’re really blind.

  15. 35

    Fear is a major factor that ‘shackles’ people who are in unhappy relationship to do anything about it.
    Fear of loneliness, fear of revenge, fear of change etc, It’s a big list. But it holds many people back from taking that all important decision to walk away from a relationship/marriage that is no longer working.


  16. 36

    I’ve definitely wondered this as well. I think it depends on the relationship. My bf doesn’t want to get married, ever. He clearly listed his reasons when we met. This is fine with me, but around the 1 year point we had a fight and he said he didn’t see me in his future. This obviously upset me, but not enough to leave him. I just left it alone. Things got better and 6 months later he asked me to move in. We’re getting towards the 2 yr point now and I brought up what he had said previously about not seeing a future with me.. He didn’t even recall saying it. His response was, well, that was a long time ago. My sweet bf is very much an in the present kind of guy. But my point is that these guys may be venting, or maybe haven’t really been with their gf’s long enough to make that judgement officially. Or they could have just changed their minds. I see relationships as being fluid since emotions often are.

  17. 37
    Karmic Equation


    Men looking for sex is like women looking for relationships. Equivalent. Yet you make men sound like terrible beings for that. Why do you think women looking for relationships are somehow morally superior?

    That’s just patently untrue. Men looking for sex aren’t monsters and women looking for relationships aren’t saints. Both sexes are looking for what makes them happy. The “battle of the sexes” is when a man’s need for sex and a woman’s need for relationship collide.

    If you’re a bitter woman, you’re never going to win that battle. If you’re a fearful woman, you’re not going to win that battle. Because bitterness and fear (along with insecurity and neediness) dull your weapons. (Sorry for the metaphor, Paula! LOL)

    If you want to be happy, and you want to be happy with a man in your life, you have to be happy woman. Like attracts like. Your bitterness and fear will only attract men who are also bitter and fearful and you start living a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Self-fulfilling prophesies can work to your advantage, too, believe that men are good and good men will appear. Believe that men are trustworthy and trustworthy men will appear.

    I’m surrounded by good-hearted, competitive, boyish, lusty men, because that’s what I think most men are. It’s not magic. Your mind leads you to find what’s in your mind. Because your mind judget your thoughts as good or bad, it only knows you have these thoughts. So if you believe men are loutish, untrustworthy, sex-fiends, that’s who you’ll find.

    Force your mind to believe that men are kind, trustworthy, and relationship-oriented, and you’ll find more of them. Give it a try. Your existing thoughts have obviously not helped you find happiness. What have you got to lose trying a different way?

  18. 38

    Ugh boy. After reading this story and the various perceptions of how it relates to their own personal lives its time I post mine. First of all there are no perfect people not me and not the perspective woman no matter what they may post here. There is no moral high ground for either sex. We all want the best, we all think we deserve the best. Most of us will have to settle for a double off the wall instead of the 3rd tier Ruthian clout we think we deserve. Most who think they don’t will end up spending a long life alone. I always thought my grandparents had the perfect marriage after they both pasted its only then I heard of the infidelity of my grandmother with no other then his brother. Yet he never mentioned it once not one peep. My own life has been an exercise in martial failure that has Elizabeth Taylor type qualities lol. Part of my hold up with a current girlfriend is that past that feeling of impending doom what is it about me that makes me find lukewarm girlfriends. I’m not saying they don’t want to marry me, they do I got the nice guy thing down maybe too down. I find myself a walking mat. I always met the girl who says they like my interests then doesn’t. The relationship becomes two strangers living in a house. I find many women although with more financial freedom then ever still obsessed with money, finances, security or professional. This is code word for many matters, and you’ll hear it from the most financially secure women you will ever want to meet. Now to the present once again the girl thinks I’m the “one”. I find myself behind the dog, her ailing dad, her clothes, her makeup, her hair. Yet somehow she tries to portray herself as wanting marriage, the question I can’t get by is “How am I supposed to marry someone who before the marriage can’t put me as number one?” I don’t want to be the settled one. If she needs more money find the guy who can provide it. I can tell its important to her because she brings up the first husband’s failings. The question then is when do I become him? The moment the ring slips on the finger? It was mentioned the old famous quote “Crap or get off the pot”. Girls ask what’s his hold up? Guys are learning the power of a relationship is much more so before marriage then after it. Its where quotes like “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” Guys have learned this special moment dies the minute the ring is slipped on the finger, not all but many. Gone is the dressing up, makeup, gone is the dinners, gone is the sex. Guys feel as though they got played, in some senses they did. I think I finally learned the lesson of my grandfather he got a lemon and instead of ditching her aside he decided to make lemonade. He forgave her and moved on. He settled for what she did right and decided to focus on that. In a sense that’s what the sharer stated she was waiting around for the right one if the right one is the perfect one your going to be old and gray and alone. I’m not perfect, no where near it, heck I’m needy in some ways everyone is. I needed to set just a couple of priorities, one I’m number one. This means I don’t want the dog, her friends or a bunch of lifeless objects taking my spot. Two we must have interests together, dancing, camping, music etc. We need something else to fall back on. Three money people are simply put to me sickening, if money is your god keep walking. I see a personal and they mention professional I move on.

  19. 39
    John B

    So my girlfriend broke up with me about 3 weeks ago. She had been dissatisfied for a while and text me whilst she was drunk to say it was over. I went to meet her in the morning to talk and I came away feeling like the bad guy.

    Thing is, she was absolutely head over heals for me. We had been going out for 3 and a half years and I always had my reservations. When we met she said “I know you don’t love me”. But the thing is, I do. I told her that I never had the feeling she was ‘the one’. She currently hates my guts, which she told me, and I suppose thats fair enough. I hate myself for being a coward.

    Now the reason why I didn’t do anything. I was happy. I loved her (although we rarely  told each other that), we had great sex, never argued, had great friends, went out and really enjoyed each others company. She was my best friend. But I always had this feeling in the pit of my stomach telling me she wasn’t the one for me and that I didn’t love her enough. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be her. Feeling like that. I know Im a bastard.

    I am such a weird complicated person though. My parents had such a bad marriage I always swore I would never be like them so I am so cautious when it comes to love and admitting it and committing to anyone. I am also the most indecisive person I know, like i literally am always last to decide on a meal in a restaurant or what I want to do that weekend or anything. I can never make my mind up, I hate decisions. So to me, to decide on something like moving in with someone or marriage, just freaks me out.

    Now we have broken up though, I just feel kind of empty. I miss her a lot and Im ashamed I wasn’t honest with  her. She literally hates me right now. I don’t want to make a stupid decision like trying to get back with her at this moment in time as I don’t want to hurt her anymore. And obviously I still don’t really know how I feel.

    I think there will always be people like me, scared of committing for one reason or another. I just don’t know if the fairytale feeling of finding ‘the one’ even exists. If so I have never felt it, I have never felt butterflies in my stomach when someone walks in a room. Maybe I have never been in love. I’m good at doing the whole moody, somber, depression that follows a break up but I just don’t often put my heart and feelings out there.

    I’m also in my late twenties with no real career path yet, which I think is another factor. I am in a bit of hole about what Im doing with my life and where I’m going. I put myself first at the moment and have been pretty selfish. I even went abroad volunteering for 3 months to try and sort my head out and get some direction, all to no avail. And my gf supported me the entire time, and when I got home i didn’t even have the decency to take her out for a meal as i missed our anniversary, birthday and valentines day. God, I’m such a piece of shit reading that back. I was just too obsessed with myself. I feel so sorry for anyone who has a partner like me.

  20. 40
    Chris greene

    Situations may bring the inequality in between the men and women. Except that everyone are equal in their aspects.

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