Hey there, ladies! Your reactions to the “Bad Boys & Addictions” article was swift and enthusiastic. Turns out that almost every woman has had some kind of experience with bad boys, not all of them healthy. Most gratifying were the responses from some of you saying, “Omigod, this is happening to me right now! Thanks for opening my eyes. Time to take out the trash!”
Here’s one from Theresa:
This post really hit me. I’m in a similar situation; however, I believe he’s the first man I’ve ever truly loved. He has commitment issues and will never really settle down with me. I’ve come to realize that he is not good for me and have left twice but he has come back every time without promising me a future.
Your advice is apt. I am addicted and need to figure out what I want and move on. Thank you. I’ve told myself I can do this.
And here’s one from Susan, who had a similar experience but is in a much better spot now:
What a classic post, Dr. Ali! And I’m so glad you’re back. Everything you wrote is so true. Ladies: definitely follow Dr. Ali’s excellent advice.
I spent 9 months with a “bad boy,” who managed to break up with me 4 times in just 9 months. After the 4th time I finally smartened up and focused on moving on. I’ve now been dating a really great guy for over 2.5 years.
In the beginning I was still hung up on Bad Boy, but distraction and detox (no contact with Bad Boy) really worked. When Bad Boy reached out to me 16 months later, the addiction was genuinely dead, and I could authentically say f*** off.
So ladies, read Dr. A’s excellent advice, detox from your Bad Boy, and if you can, find something or someone that can pull you forward into the present or the future — rather than some wistful past that you’ve idealized.
As I work on my current project, Happiness Engineering, I’m reminded over and over again how our relationships form our experience of life. You could even go so far as to say our relationships are our life. As such, your choice of life partner is the most important decision you make. Nothing else comes close. Make it a good one.
Which brings us to the results of the survey I did last week. Some of you were kind enough to answer my 60-second survey question:
What is the single biggest challenge you’re dealing with in dating and relationships these days?
If you wanted to answer but didn’t get around to it, you can do it now here. I’d be thrilled to hear your thoughts, since it will not only help me create better material for you, but also get to know you better.
As a gesture of thanks for participating in the survey, I’ve put The Tao of Dating ebook on sale for 67% off in all territories for the next 72 hours only (sale ends at midnight Sunday Sept 24). So in the US, that’s $2.99 (regular price $9.97).
To put that in perspective, a mocha or latte at Starbucks costs $4.15, and an hour of parking in San Francisco or New York City costs $6. And they are both gone in an hour. On the other hand, you get to keep this book (which, incidentally, has helped tens of thousands of women) forever for under 3 beans. If you already have the book, thank you thank you thank you and please tell a friend.
In the meantime, here are the preliminary results of the survey.
1. Meeting quality men.
By far, the biggest challenge the respondents encountered was meeting quality men. How do you find a guy who’s compatible, age-appropriate, and interested in a long-term committed relationship? The phrase “finding a man who wants to be a grown-up” came up several times. This response summarized the challenge nicely:
“Meeting a man who I feel compatible with, feeling attracted to that same man AND having him treat me well.”
This is what all the online dating methods call the matching problem, and what I cover in The Tao of Dating as the Find phase. It turns out to be a source of considerable concern for a lot of ladies, as this poignant response shows:
“Where is he? He really likes me. We are best friends. We have immersive conversations. We care about each other’s experiences in life. We have a deep and abiding connection. He understands I am a product of my past experiences and is not threatened by that. He doesn’t ask me to be someone I am not. Because he likes me. I am not perfect. That is what he likes about me. The relationship makes us better people because we always want the best for one another, but understand that the best is better reached together than apart. Where is he? He can’t find me. In my meditation I turn a big search light on every night.”
2. Meeting in person vs. online
The next popular challenge was meeting men in person vs online. How do you get someone to come on a first date? It seems like a lot of people online are in perpetual “shopping mode”, and just can’t get themselves to show up for an actual, face-to-face, grownup date.
As one respondent put it: “I don’t like online dating because it’s emotionally draining and feels insincere to me.” Can’t blame ya, hon. I’ve written before extensively on the pitfalls of online dating, so I won’t be going deep into that here.
How do you get a guy to go from dating you to being in a long-term committed relationship with you? This transition from casual to serious is on a lot of your minds
Perhaps this is better called “fear of dating.” This is how one respondent described the challenge: “Feeling like I’m good enough (skinny enough, attractive enough, normal enough and with enough free time) to date. I feel like I’ve let myself get left behind because of fear.”
5. What do you want?
Don’t know what I want was next most common. Do you want a boyfriend? A husband? Or just want to play? What if you do get the perfect guy, and then realize you don’t really want a relationship with him, or anyone, for that matter? As one respondent put it: “I’m scared that landing my dream guy will mean I have to spend too much time catering to him, even though I realize not all men want mothers.”
This is a thorny little dilemma because it doesn’t give you a way to win. Which brings me to a challenge brought up by readers who were already in a relationship.
6. Stay or go?
Is this relationship good enough and I’m being too picky, or is there something better out there for me?
7. Dating after 45
This is a huge one that wasn’t mentioned explicitly but is an obvious concern. Not only does the dating pool of eligible men shrink dramatically for that demographic, but respondents mentioned that men of their age are often looking to date women 10-15 years younger than themselves. Or they’re divorced and not really looking to marry again.
There was a grab bag of other related issues that, though mentioned less frequently, are still significant: too-high standards; dating fatigue; and disappearing men.
Weather issues vs clothing issues
Now I’m not going to provide solutions to all of those issues in this post, because that would become a whole book, and I already wrote one of those. I’m posting these preliminary survey results primarily so you can see that these issues are incredibly common, and you are not alone.
Common humanity is one of the three principles of self-compassion, as put forth by Prof Kristin Neff. Knowing that you’re in the same boat as millions of other women helps you implement another of the self-compassion principles, namely self-kindness vs self-judgment.
What I do want to discuss is that these challenges break down into two broad categories: weather issues and clothing issues. Weather problems are global. You can’t change them, but you can respond to them. It doesn’t make sense to get mad at the rain, but it does make sense to get an umbrella. For example, people being rude online, or men wanting to date younger women are weather issues.
You can adjust to the weather either by putting on the appropriate clothing or going somewhere more clement. Which brings us to clothing issues: what are you wearing, sister? Does that shade of dark bitterness become you? How about your own fear of commitment lurking under your coat? Or your compulsive swiping of those dating apps?
Clothing issues are stuff you can do something about. Luckily, most of the issues from the survey are clothing issues.
You can have a robust strategy for meeting quality men.
You can delete all your apps and resolve to meet people in person instead of staying online.
You can get your mojo back and take it sky-high.
You can get clear on where your true fulfillment lies.
You can leave a mediocre relationship or turn a good-enough one into something magnificent.
You can tune your standards so they better serve your long-term fulfillment.
You can make dating fun again instead of being afraid or fatigued of it.
Which one of these would you be most excited about? Do me a big favor and let me know in the comments below.
PS: I’m a huge fan of Audible audiobooks and think their monthly subscription is one of the best deals under the sun. Bonus: when you sign up for their one-month free trial (US or UK), you can get The Tao of Dating audiobook for free! Check it out.