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.
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Unfortunately, I fall under the dating over 50/no quality men categories and BOTH of those are “weather” problems. I can’t get men to date me who won’t even consider me, and the sheer lack of volume of quality men can’t be fixed by ANY dating advice, no matter how good it is. So, I and most of my single friends have resigned ourselves to growing old together. I wasted 4 years, and thousands of dollars on books, courses, workshops, clothes, hair, botox, gym and yoga fees, and of course online dating sites. I paid fees for a singles events group, participated in more MeetUps than I can count, attended dances, dinners, parties, and sporting events and GOOD MEN my age are NOT out there. You wold be doing a lot of women a lot if good to just be honest. Tell them the odds are low, and keep your expectations even lower of finding a suitable partner after 50. If someone had spared me, I would have been very grateful.
I am in total agreement. After my husband passed when I was 51 I did all the things you mentioned and actually had a couple of boyfriends for a while. After all the years of self improvement, I became more attractive, more interesting, and healthier both physically and emotionally. my standards for who I wanted to date also went up.
One day I realized I had my own wonderful life, yet was making myself crazy and spending lots of time and money looking for love. I quit looking and have been having a ton of fun with friends and am so grateful for all I have. That was 3-4 years ago and I am 67 now and going strong. BTW, when they say love finds you when you stop looking….don’t count on it.
The first two are most compelling for me!
I am SO over trying to “fix” myself in hopes of attracting a man. WTF are they doing for themselves to attract us? We over-rate them so much. The last couple of years (and I’m almost 50) I’ve had a couple of married friends get very flirty with me – asked me to send sexy pics and whatnot. I responded to one by sending him a pic of the boot I had on, telling him that’s what would be in his ass if his wife found out he asked for that. More recently, an old friend texted me saying he would be in town and wanted to get together. I thought about how fun that would be, until, the next thing I know, he’s texting me about how hard and frisky he is, and that he’ll be sure to bring his toothbrush and PJs! We haven’t even been on a date! He’s in his mid-50’s! It’s so inappropriate! These men have zero class and seem to think it’s okay to act like that. I think what bothers me most, is that both men in my examples have been friends for 30 years and I have always admired them – until now – and I think they just showed me how they all (okay, I’ll be hopeful and say “most”) are. Its very disappointing! It seems the internet and platforms like Tinder have destroyed any sense of chivalry, wonder, and courtship that used to be involved in dating. What’s also disturbing is that the only reason it’s working for them is because women are allowing it. It seems to be the new norm. Not for me!
I think it is the new norm. These older guys are probably seeing how young men treat young women, and how those same women allow themselves to be treated.
The worst possible attitude is that as women of a certain age, and attractiveness, some men think we’ll take whatever we can get. They know that options are scarce, they figure, “You’re older, but still hot. You’ll be starving for some attention. And when the younger, hotter, more naive, less challenging chick shows up, I’ll dump you and you’ll be prepared because you’re expectations and faith in humanity have been forced that low. The End ;-)”.
I care less and less about what men could possibly want and just go wherever I want to go by myself.
Dr. Binazir, I am curious what you have to say to all these women who have made disparaging comments about dating after 50. I am 53 and have been divorced for 5.5 years. I dated a guy for about 3.5 years who turned out not to be “the one” – we broke up about 6 months ago … so I am “back out there.” After reading these comments, a women like me could walk away from this article feeling very dejected and hopeless. I choose not to. I think attitude is everything. I have met about 10 men in the past 3-4 months on various online dating sites. Haven’t met the right guy yet, but I also haven’t given up (or won’t give up). Yes, it is like finding a needle in a haystack. And yes, it is very important to be happy with your life and who you are without being part of a couple. I have a great life, yet know it would be enhanced with the right partner by my side. I choose to believe it will happen … maybe later than sooner. But I believe there are still good guys out there. As a matter of fact, every guy I have dated (only one or two dates, up to 8-10) have been gentlemen (kind and respectful). There just hasn’t been the spark or the connection that I want or need. Maybe I’m being too picky…but my point is there are still decent over-50 guys out there — guys who want a woman who is close to their age. Don’t give up, unless you truly choose to be without a partner.
I’m replying to address weather and clothing and how to move what we all say is unchangeable or set in stone. You aren’t going to change the men in your environment, you can only change, or move, yourself. Personally, I’m not looking for marriage but I am looking to be treated like an equal human being first, rather than as a gender. I’m moving to Germany in a few months because I realized the problem is a bit more systemic. In my own culture, we’re turning into the Handmaid’s tale over here, and my German friends wonder what in the name of all that’s green we are all doing over here in the current economic and political climate. It seems to me the issues we talk about (age, looks, behavior) are the product of something else. The basic difference is very deep and foundational. When I left the east coast for the west years ago I was doing so because I didn’t want to deal with humidity and bad weather anymore. I also wanted out of a puritanical social environment. I got the good weather and one of the best relationships I’d ever had from that move. However, no place in my current “culture” is going to have a dating pool of men who live in a society that treat women as a human being, rather than as a mommy, baby factory, sex slave, furniture, or trophy. I don’t fit into any of those categories and neither do most of the women I know whether single or married. I’m tired of my gender being viewed as indentured servants. My solution is to leave a culture that doesn’t understand how to grow up and is raising women to buy into the idea that we’re less because we’re not enough of something (young, sexy, loose, religious, whatever). Dating is different in other cultures and sometimes you have to just remove yourself from the wrong dating pool and go to another.. like moving from the country to a big city where there are more options, only this time the environment that *supports* the dating pool is different too, there aren’t just more fish in the sea, it’s a different sea, one where the culture itself is more mature, one that separates sex from dating in a way that enables both men and women not to feel guilty or judged, yet where the culture is wired to get to know another person as a human being first before even thinking about trying have sex (if a German guy is dating minded he’s not going to try and have sex with you until he has known you for weeks or months), because both are equal and one gender doesn’t automatically owe the other anything just for being that gender. Why, because they are paid equally and treated equally in reality, not in lip service. In most ways, I’m more German than American I suppose, but I didn’t know that until I started to look at what was driving the behavior that has men treating women as objects, still, in 2019. It isn’t that there are fewer men in the over 45 or over 50 age category, it’s those old white men are hard to completely reprogram against a society where they’re still more important and come first over any female their age or younger–and in a society who allows dating apps to program their algorithms to exclude women over the age of 45 some types of matches. Online Apps cater to MEN…why? because men are 5 to a ratio of 2.1 women on dating apps. They are the customer, and the online app is the shop showing off the merchandise they’re trying to buy. Reprogram the way you use dating apps and the algorithms will skew in your favor, but even when I did that myself with good results I realized the larger truth…You can play the game better and smarter than the game’s inventors but you still, if you want to get out of the game need to get off the board somehow, and not dating or not having sex is not the answer. The issue is not the rules of the game, it’s that no one wants to grow up, least of all the culture we live in. That’s bigger than what clothes you’re wearing or the weather. If you don’t like the weather, or culture, where you are, move. You are not a tree. For most women, that’s difficult because of children, grandchildren and it’s easier for me because I have neither, but drastic change is needed if we want a dating pool that accurately reflects who we are as women in this century. That means drastic national change, systemic change, conversation change and it means we have to stop raising girl children or grandchildren to buy into the conversation that says we are less than men or that women owe men automatic entitlements of any kind because of their gender. It also means no settling, which we do if we remain on dating apps or play any of the games in our culture arranged for dating. The foundation that supports all the dating games in our culture was built by men’s ideals and opinions. I want a different weather machine, one whose games include me as an equal and cater to me equally. The decision I made is at a much more underlying level than dating, I realize, but that’s the problem with a value system, everyday life is produced out of that value system, and I value myself as a human being. I will not help my culture turn me and the women in my life into a Handmaid.