Leveling Up: Developing An Abundance Mentality

Welcome to 2014 folks. It’s a new year and ripe for potential and improvement.


After you're done nursing your epic hangover, anyway...

After you’re done nursing your epic hangover, anyway…

If you’re like most folks, you’ve made some New Year’s resolutions. Perhaps getting better at dating is one of them…

Usually around this time, I make my annual tirade about how New Year’s resolutions are wastes of time but I want to do things differently. You see, one of the reasons why so many resolutions fail is that you’re addressing surface issues rather than the core causes. For example, f you’re trying to lose weight, you have to adjust your entire lifestyle, not just go on a diet or adopt an overly ambitious exercise routine that you’ll inevitably quit in a month’s time.

Similarly, if you want to get better at dating, you have to do more than just learn some new techniques and snappy patter and calling it a day. Those are surface issues, not core ones. Most long-term dating problems stem from what the PUA community calls “inner game” – that is, issues that stem from your self-esteem and attitude. Your core beliefs – both about yourself and about other people – affect far more than you realize. The way you see the world acts as the filter for everything in your life, and the more negative and restrictive your views, the more negative and restrictive the world will be to you. The more self-limiting beliefs you accept, the harder of a time you’ll have with dating; you will have effectively hobbled yourself with nothing but a mistaken idea of what you can and can’t do.  It becomes a self-reinforcing concept thanks to what’s known as confirmation bias: the brain’s tendency to give greater emotional weight to evidence – no matter how weak or unreliable – that validates what you already believe.

But that goes both ways. Just as self-limiting beliefs lock you into place and keep you from being able to progress, adopting positive beliefs help liberate you and empower you to pursue your goals in ways you never could before. And just as with self-limiting beliefs, those positive attitudes can become self-reinforcing as well.

So let’s talk about one of the most important beliefs when it comes to success in dating: adopting an abundance mentality.

Scarcity Vs. Abundance

Most men I’ve coached have had issues with a scarcity mentality – that is, the belief that women are a limited resource.  There were many varying details – some men believed that they needed to find their “soul mate”, while others artificially limited the number of women that they believed they could possibly be interested by holding onto incredibly high – even impossible – standards. Still others didn’t believe that there were many women who could possibly be interested in them. But while the particulars would differ, the end effect was the same: they believed that every rejection and every break-up was one step closer to dying alone, unmourned and unloved1.

"My ipod is permanently set to the 'David Banner Walking Away Alone' song from The Incredible Hulk."

“My iPod is permanently set to that sad walking-away song from The Incredible Hulk.”

Many issues that hold men back in their social development spring from a scarcity mentality. Neediness, for example, is often born out of a scarcity mentality; you fear losing out on this potential relationship because you believe that it’s your “last chance” or that women who are attracted to you are so rare as to be almost non-existent. Because you’re so hyper-aware of the potential “missing out”,  you  convince yourself that it’s going to disappear into a puff of hyacinth and loneliness if you don’t lock it down now now now.  As a result – you become clingy and needy, constantly texting and calling and poking her on Facebook, with each unanswered message making you even more nervous and convinced that something is wrong . Of course, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as that behavior is precisely what drives her away.

To pick another common problem, look at Oneitis. Oneitis is a scarcity mentality taken to the extreme;  it’s the idea there is exactly one person in the entire world for you out of a population of 7 billion and if it doesn’t work out between the two of you… well, tough shit Chuck, hope you’re prepared for a lifetime alone with nothing but bitter regrets and cursing fate for deciding that your soul-mate would be better off married to a stockbroker named Chad with his perfect hair and his natural charm and his teeth and God I fucking hate Chad…


A scarcity mentality can often result in approach anxiety – you become afraid to make that first move because you risk getting rejected and that rejection means that you’re that much closer to a life of involuntary celibacy. It leads to resentment and entitlement issues; the idea that 20% of the men get 80% of the women – a common, if mistaken belief amongst many MRA and PUA forums – stems from a scarcity mentality, for example. It also leads you to becoming bitter and resentful over the success of others for “hogging” what would, supposedly otherwise be yours.

The abundance mentality, on the other hand, is simply the belief that there are many, many amazing and available women out there. While a rejection or a break-up may hurt – and it certainly does – it isn’t the end of the world because there will be others out there who will also be incredible. It’s the belief that each rejection isn’t one more step towards being Forever Alone, it’s one more person who wasn’t right for you and puts you that much closer to finding somebody who is. It’s the rejection of the idea that there is The One and an acceptance that there is The Many – many women with whom you are compatible, who are incredible and beautiful and caring and who would make an incredible partner for you. It means not stressing yourself out over whether or not she’s going to flake on your date, worrying that you’re going to say the wrong thing or all of those other annoying fears and nagging anxieties because the worst that can happen is that you move on to somebody else… and when it does work, that person is all the sweeter because you’ve chosen her out of all the other possibilities rather than latching onto somebody out of fear or desperation.

But how do you go about developing that belief, especially if you’ve spent so long in a scarcity mindset?

Cultivating Abundance

Going about actively developing an abundance mentality can be tricky, especially if you’ve long held a scarcity-based mentality. There are a few steps to the process.

1. Retrain Your Brain

The first step is to break down the negative patterns. Negative thinking is a habit; you carve a groove into your brain and your brain prefers to stay in that track because it’s easier than deliberately trying to push it out and carve a new one.

Free your mind and your ass will follow...

Free your mind and your ass will follow…

So you have to deliberately build up a habit of thinking positively – in this case, consciously deciding to see things differently. You have to become more mindful of your thought patterns, learning what triggers these thoughts and why. Once you start being more aware of those thoughts, you want to deliberately reframe negative thoughts about the scarcity and unavailability of women. For example, you may want to think to yourself “It’s ok if she rejects me; there are plenty of women out there who will want what I have to offer,” or “The worst thing that happens if I ask her out is that she turns me down and I’ll go talk to somebody else.”

It will take some time; it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to develop a new habit to the point that it becomes automatic… but the rewards are worth it.

2. Practice Gratitude

Want to recognize how many opportunities there are in the world? Start being grateful for what you have. A scarcity mindset focuses on what you don’t have. When you’re paying attention to what you don’t have leaves you feeling like you need to grab for everything because it could be taken from you at any moment. Taking time to practice gratitude means you’re forcing yourself to be more aware of everything you do have and how fortunate you are to have it. People who practice gratitude are happier and feel more fortunate and tend to be more optimistic in general. Optimism is, after all, a key part of an abundance mentality; you’re believing that even when things are difficult, you’ll still do better in the long run.

3. Be Vulnerable

Part of a scarcity mentality is fear. The fear of missing out, the fear of rejection and the fear of being alone. You fear rejection because you believe that you’re going to miss a narrow window of opportunity and when that window is closed, it’s closed forever. All too often though, we let those fears push us into bad decisions – holding onto toxic relationships for fear of being alone, trying to conform to other people’s ideas of who we should be in order to avoid being rejected.

When you’re cultivating an abundance mentality, you want to embrace those fears. You want to open yourself up to them and admit they exist without shame. It’s fine that you’re worried about rejection – everybody is. But when you let a scarcity mentality convince you to try to avoid rejection at all costs, you’re ultimately hurting yourself. By being willing to be vulnerable – to deliberately open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt – you’re saying that you understand, even welcome rejection because you realize that in the end, rejection means that you most likely weren’t compatible in the first place. It’s better to get rejected from a potential bad relationship than to go endure one out of fear that you’re going to never find somebody who will say “yes”.

4. Stop Comparing Your Unedited Footage To Other People’s Highlight Reel

A scarcity mentality breeds resentment; you look around at other happy couples and feel jealousy and bitterness because they have what you want. Why do they get to have it so easy when you have to struggle and scrape for every crumb of affection? Why do other people get to feast when you starve?

Once again, you’re focusing on what you don’t have at the expense of what you do… and you’re not even basing it on reality. You have no idea what’s going on through that other person’s head or how they got to where they are. You are basing your supposed inferiority on a fantasy you’ve built up in your mind. That player you envy is a bundle of insecurities who continually chases after women because it’s the only way he can get validation. That guy with the hot girlfriend is miserable; they may look great together but she treats him horribly.

Being jealous of what other people have only makes it harder for you to improve. You’re defining yourself by other people’s standards, standards which may not even exist except in your imagination. It makes you spiteful and bitter, which inevitably comes out in your day to day interactions with other people.

Someone with an abundance mentality doesn’t worry about the success of others; he understands that dating isn’t a zero-sum game. One person doing well in no way affects his own future. It’s not something to be jealous of but something to motivate him to strive for and achieve too.

5. Look Around

This can seem a little obvious but part of cultivating an abundance mentality is to be more aware of what’s around you. It’s easy to get tunnel vision, letting your confirmation bias filter out the hundreds and thousands of women you see every day.

Oddly, it feels a lot like a Bond movie cold-open.

Oddly, it feels a lot like a Bond movie cold-open.

People with scarcity mentality spend a lot of mental bandwidth justifying why all of these women around them “don’t count” for one reason or another; this one would never like him, this other one almost certainly has a boyfriend and the one over there, well just look at her, she clearly only dates douchebags

Just as when you compare yourself to others, you’re filtering out the people around you based on imaginary standards and perpetuating the idea that there are so few women out there. Yes, there will be plenty of married women, or women with boyfriends, girlfriends or who are otherwise unavailable. There will be those who you don’t find physically attractive. That’s not the point. The point is to increase your awareness of what’s around you. People with an abundance mentality look around and realize that all of those people around them – whether he’s lusting after them or not – represent potential. It’s a constant reminder that there are many, many women out there – you just have to go looking.

Abundance In Action

Having talked about developing an abundance mentality, let’s talk a little about how it works in practice. The benefits to having an abundance mentality, as it were.

Imagine, if you will, that you’ve set up a date with a cute woman you met at a coffee shop. Except… you’re starting to get those nagging feelings that this isn’t going to happen. Sure, she seemed interested in getting together but she asked you to text her on the day of, and since you didn’t read my article on preventing flakes, you agreed. And now that you’re getting ready, she’s still not responded to your text trying to make sure you’ve still got plans.

You’re about to get flaked on… so now what?

"OK, I'm going to give her just one more hour..."

“OK, I’m going to give her just one more hour…”

Someone with a scarcity mentality is going to get upset; he just spent all this time anticipating the date. It was going to be the highlight of his week! Now he’s either going to be desperately trying to salvage the date or pitching a fit over how unfair it is for her to just blow off his plans.

Somebody with an abundance mentality wouldn’t have invested so much importance in the date in the first place. It’s definitely something to look forward to, but he’s already suspecting that it may not happen. And when she does flake out on him… well, yeah, it’s rude as hell and it sucks, but all it means is that he now knows she’s just not that into him. In many ways, she’s done him a favor; he’s found out early on that she’s not somebody he’d want to spend time with anyway, rather than having just invested hours of his life on what would’ve been an otherwise mediocre date at best.

Similarly, someone who has an abundance mentality has fewer problems with making an approach. After all, all rejection does is clarify that the person he’s tried flirting with isn’t into him – valuable information to have before he spends a good portion of the night hanging out with her. She’s freed him up to go find somebody else who appreciates what he has to offer; now he can spend the rest of the evening just enjoying himself instead of trying to sort out whether or not she digs him.

People who have an abundance mentality also notice that they have more dates and better love lives than those with a scarcity mentality; having that belief in abundance actually helps bring that abundance into their lives. Not because of woo-woo, “I read the Secret” prosperity bullshit but because they are setting themselves up to find that abundance. By believing in abundance, they are priming themselves to notice it and take advantage of the opportunities that those with a scarcity mentality miss out on because they’re so caught up in the idea that there is so little out there. Women respond to men with an abundance mentality – after all, that belief in abundance is a critical part of confidence and as I say over and over again, confidence is sexy.

Someone who believes in the possible may be wrong, but the ones who believe in the impossible are always right… to their sorrow. Develop an abundance mentality and realize just how amazing the world can be… and be able to find that abundance you seek.

  1. Hat tip to Dave Sim for that turn of phrase. It’s kind of a shame that he became a raving misogynist in the end… []

  • I still get confused about the abundance mentality when it comes to relationships. In the early stages of dating, it makes complete sense to me-the whole idea of not putting too much pressure or significance that can breed neediness and desperation. And it is nice to know that I can look around and go "Whadaya know, I DO have options" and select the one I like best, as opposed to the one that just happens to be there.

    But the idea that a boyfriend would look at me and go," Ehh, she calls too often; there's surely someone better out there for me!" makes me a little queasy. Dating is all about embracing the unknown and living in uncertainty, but when I get into a relationship with someone, I like some reliability. If I know that in the back of his brain, he's constantly judging me, that any move of mine could be the last because hey, he can always get another (and let's face it, there's ALWAYS someone better out there, so… how does that work?), I just cannot imagine how that can lead to emotional relaxation and intimacy. What am I missing here?

    • That it's not about your boyfriend looking at you and thinking "eh." ?
      It's about knowing that they're with you because they want to be with you, not because they think that you're the only woman who'll have them. It's knowing your partner won't dissolve into a puddle of helpless goo if you leave them. They know a breakup doesn't doom them to "forever alone" or whatever.
      The truth is, any partner CAN always get someone else. There are never any guarantees to a relationship lasting because it only lasts as long as both people want it to.
      For me, I want my partner to have an abundance mentality because the flip side, them staying with me because they don't want to be alone, sounds horrid and insulting.

      • True, but is the flip side of a partner looking at you and going "I could totally get someone hotter/smarter/less annoying/<fill in trait here>" really all that better? I have certainty dated guys in the past who were with me out of desperation or loneliness, and I never want to go there again…. but I also want someone who looks at me and goes "she is totally the best." I don't want a guy to dissolve into a puddle of goo if we break up, but nor would I feel very good if he shrugged his shoulders and forgot I existed inside a week.

        Call me a romantic, but I do want to be special and 'the best' to my partner.

        • fuzzilla

          **Call me a romantic, but I do want to be special and 'the best' to my partner.**

          Then you cultivating an abundance mentality would be training your brain to think, "There are lots of women he could be attracted to and happy with, but he still chooses me."

          Do you view the people you date through that lens of, "Eh, he's cool, but I could do better?" Maybe sometimes you do, and if so, it probably won't last long. That's just the way of the world – most relationships don't work out – and not necessarily you not being trusting or whatever. If you're really into someone, you're not constantly thinking about how much better you could be doing. I'm skeptical and have trust issues and I try to frame any doubtful or jealous thoughts as, "There are many people he could be attracted to or be happy with, but not many people check off all or most of his desired trait check boxes simultaneously, as I do (and vice versa)."

          • fromthelandwithlove

            This seems relevant:

            In other words, Tim Minchin is madly in love with his wife and has been with her a long-ass time. But if they weren't together, he might be happy with someone else.

        • enail0_o

          I think it's possible to both feel like one's partner is 'the best' and be confident that the person you're with is right for you, and still know that if things didn't work out, there are other people that you could be happy with, other relationships that could be just as right for you.

          It doesn't mean they're not special to you, or that you wouldn't be genuinely and lastingly sad if you broke up. It means that you're sad about losing that person and that relationship because you really liked them and they made you happy and people miss people that they loved when they're gone, rather than being sad about losing that level of person or that general quality of relationship because they were your one chance to have someone like that and you'll never get another relationship that good again.

          • Ah that makes complete sense.

          • enail0_o

            It does? I didn't expect that! Well…good. 😀

          • pauldwaite

            Absolutely. Relationships aren’t about evaluating partners on a scale of 1-10, and picking the one who deserves highest number. People can’t be quantified like that.

            An actual rewarding committed relationship *will* be scarce, because it’s pretty tough to have more than one of those at a time. The abundance mentality described here is about the abundance of *opportunities to start* a relationship.

            And if you’re being mindful of and grateful for what you already have, then an opportunity to start a relationship is unlikely to hold a candle to your current relationship.

          • "The abundance mentality described here is about the abundance of *opportunities to start* a relationship."

            Yeah, see, THAT I can get behind.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          You're confusing "abundance mentality" with "callous douchebaggery."

          I ran into something called The Ladder Theory several years ago, and I believe it's what you're describing: date the "best" woman you can until a "better" one comes along, then dump her for the new hotness and thus "climb the ladder."

          Setting aside the fact that it's a cruel, repugnant way to treat people, and that you're filtering your social circle to only include people so awful that they're totally unbothered by this behavior: it dismisses the notion that building a shared history adds strength that exists only within that relationship, and will be lost if that relationship ends. It pretends that all women can accurately be represented by some "value" metric, and says "compatibility" is a myth. (I have traits my fiancee adores that other women would find annoying as shit. We're excellent partners for each other; I know for a fact there are plenty of women for whom I'm a terrible choice.)

          A good relationship rolls value into itself as time goes on, like a Katamari. You become "the best" to your partner just because no matter how hot that other chick is, he doesn't have any pics of him and her wandering the museum pretending to be terrified of stuff, and laughing their heads off about it. She never snuggled-up on the couch with him to binge-watch Breaking Bad. She never watched him melt the fuck down over the IRS screwing-up his taxes and sending him nastygrams claiming he owed tens of thousands of dollars, and provided hand-holding and hugs while he sorted it out. He did not hold her hand at her grandmother's funeral. They do not share any silly in-jokes or pet names known to them and them alone. He does not know which of his traits that you adore will be annoying as hell to her.

          THAT'S how you become The Best.

          I WANT my partner to have an abundance mentality. I WANT to know that if I suddenly turn into a crappy partner, she can improve her life by ditching me. I WANT to know she's with me because she likes what I add to her life, not because she's convinced she's not gonna do any better and may as well settle.

          • Oh I'm not even necessarily referring to "hotness." Obviously if a guy is dumping you JUST because the other girl is hotter, with no other considerations of qualities, he's a douche and you should be more than happy to get rid of him.

            But I do always wonder how much shared history really has against the excitement of the New. The New is flattering and fun and exciting. You may have held your partner's hand, but maybe the New could have held it even better.

            I've been enough around the block to figure out that New is not always Better. But since we are discussing nerds by and large here, I wonder how many nerd guys have discovered that by this point. In the past few years, I have been astonished to discover how many nerdy guys are actually kind of players… guys who are making up for lost time by filling their validation bank with as much New and Exciting girls as they can muster. Sure, every girl is "unique" and "special" to them, but they go through girls like a Pinterest-er at Michael's.

            The obvious answer is, of course, to steer clear of those guys. I might just be running into a lot of em over the last few years because I'm at that tender age where nerdy guys are finally ditching their insecure shells and becoming self-improvement butterflies (if they haven't married their high school/early college sweetheart.) But that seems to come with a heavy dash of commitment fears and taking the abundance mentality quite literally… There is *always* someone better.

            I'm thinking of a post I saw on Reddit about a week ago. The guy was talking about how his ex was gorgeous, funny, charming, smart, "came from a good school", supportive, blah blah. But she wasn't "athletic," not much of a foodie ("doesn't that say something about her skills as a future mother?"), and occasionally kind of spacey (left windows open.) The guy said he sees dozens of gorgeous women every single day… surely, there is someone out there who has all these fine qualities but isn't as big a space case as his ex! I guess I just fear that is the logical conclusion of the Abundance Mentality.

          • eselle28

            I'd say that's The Next Big Thing Mentality, not Abundance Mentality. I think it's a spectrum, where some people tend to flit from relationship to relationship without really valuing their partners and other people attach so strongly to the idea of being in a relationship that they'll tolerate abusive partners. Just by the nature of the site, I think we see more people in the second category, so hear the advice to fix that problem more frequently.

          • Bas Kleijweg

            Huh, I can sort of sympathize with that notion(wanting to make up for lost time and wanting to try plenty of options to get a better idea of what you want), but judging on 'ranking' rather than compatibility and not realizing the happiness level will also depend on growing on each other seems very Oneitisish to me.

            Besides, surely there are gals who would be in the same place mentally and want a flexible, open relationship with clear communication while you both play the field? If they can't be open and upfront about what they want, then they're doing it wrong.

          • I've never dated women, so I honestly can't say, but I would *guess* that more men than women would want to "play the field" and be flexible, at least once you get to a certain age. Blame "stuck-up" sexual mores, blame a culture that says women over a certain age are over their peak, blame biological clocks, what have you, but in my experience I haven't found very few female players. It seems like most ladies are okay with open dating for a month or two, and then want to lock it down into something more monogamy-ish.

            I think it kind of goes back to that idea that, more or less, men are viewed as successful if they have a lot of options, women are viewed as successful if they have an *awesome* option. So a guy gets cultural accolades for being a player, and a gal gets accolades for satisfying a guy enough to keep him.

            I also see ranking and compatibility as largely the same thing. Maybe you're just ranking girls by compatibility. But in nerd circles, I think there's still some amount of thinking quantity over quality, or "social capital" over compatibility. ("I am a loner, but want to date a girl with tons of friends because landing a popular chick means I'm also popular and valuable…. even though I don't actually enjoy the mechanics of BEING popular, never getting alone time or having a close-knit group of friends.")

          • Bas Kleijweg

            Possibly, I'm in a student environment, so that might affect it too, but I've seen plenty of female 'players'(what often gets taken out of the equation is that they let the dudes do most of the legwork, but they drop plenty of passive signals). Same pattern of not wanting to turn it into something permanent with a note of ambiguity, while still keeping the door open to booty calls, social back-up, etcetera.

            Don't know if this is weird, but I'm much more used to the steady shittalking the flexible and vice versa, without much regard for gender lines.

            Perhaps I should have explained it better, but ranking here meant judging gals by their rating on some sort of objective scale nonsense instead of how well they mesh with your own preferences/personality/etcetera(of course, there's always people who don't know themselves well enough to differ the two).

          • Mengsk

            I'm not so sure that there are more women players than men, thought it could well be an age difference thing. I've definitely dated a fair number of female players. However, this could easily be because, at any given time, everyone is more likely to have dated players because players are out doing the most dating.

          • Brooke

            I've heard the term ladder theory before, and I remember it as something distinctly different: the point was to see the ladder as some kind of hierarchy not where to place the woman you're interested in, but where to place yourself in relation to her.

            That is: "Your" goal is to get as high on the ladder as possible. It's not a way to rank other people. If we speak of a hypothetical woman, she would have a friend ladder and a romantic partner ladder. If you are interested in her your "goal" is to get on her romantic partner ladder and to avoid the friend ladder.

            The foundation of this "theory" was that if you were on the friend ladder it would be very hard to get on the romantic partner ladder. This was why proponents of this rejected the nice guy approach as that would lead to getting stuck where you don't want to be. I also strongly remember some abbyss metaphor relating to jumping from one ladder to the other…

          • Bas Kleijweg

            Yeah, it's standard bonezone vs. friendzone nonsense. The abyss just meant that trying to switch once you're locked into one would lead to the gal dropping you entirely.

            It also had a charming 'guys will bone anything, but only when drunk' counterpart for the dudes. And it was way too wordy for such a simple concept.

        • I agree with a lot of what people have said here about an abundance mentality is essential in a healthy relationship, and I just want to add that I think it's the most romantic thing in the world to get to say "I choose you" over and over again every single day to your partner, when you know that there are so many other possibilities out there. And the day you don't choose them over someone else, then it's better for both of you to move on anyways.

      • hobbesian

        correction, the relationship lives and dies at the whim of ONE partner. There is no 'both' involved. It takes two people to decide to have a relationship, but only one of them gets to decide to end it.

        That's precisely what hurts so bad about a breakup, the other person is dehumanizing you and taking your agency away. You're opinions, thoughts, etc don't matter to them anymore and will not be taken into consideration.

        • ember

          Whoa, that's a bit much – not wanting to date someone anymore is treating them as less than human? Let's say they decided to take your agency into account, which therefore prevented them from leaving. Whose agency is being taken away then? What's the compromise between being together and not being together?

          This hits home for me because I got a text from the ex stating that by breaking up with her, I was telling her that only my feelings mattered. Which, what? You want to have a discussion where I agree to stay in a relationship I've just checked out of? Really?

          So yes, breaking up is usually (but not always) unilateral. A world where you have to ask someone's permission to dump them is not a world I want to see.

          • hobbesian

            so.. it's okay for them to make you miserable and hurt your feelings and make choices for your life.. but don't you dare do it to them! That would be wrong!

            They are the one reneging on the original deal remember?

          • You really want someone to stay with you because "that was the deal at the beginning?" Really?…

            Your life doesn't have to be miserable after a break-up. Even if there are no other options immediately on the horizon, where there's life, there's hope. I just cannot fathom why you'd want someone to continue dating you when their heart and soul isn't in it. Trust me, I have been in a position of being single, and been in a position where someone was with me out of obligation and I will take *single* every time. It may be hard to imagine, but someone staying with you out of obligation is an even huger drain on your self-esteem.

          • enail0_o

            The 'original deal' upon starting to date rarely includes staying together forever no matter what, regardless of changes in either party's feelings

            If that is part of the original deal, chances are pretty good that the people making the deal are not in a healthy enough state to be making that kind of decision.

          • eselle28

            In most breakups, the original deal wasn't "until death do we part." Typically in dating, the commitment is to date each other as long as that arrangement is satisfactory to both people.

          • hobbesian

            none of that changes how I feel about it.

            If you're expecting any sort of breakthrough where I'll suddenly agree with you, it's never going to happen.

            But boy, it must be nice to have that kind of power over another person.. to say 'I'm breaking up with you, and there isn't anything you can do with it, I'm going to go back to my world where I have tons of options and never lack of sex or affection… and you, well.. you just get to sit her alone for the rest of your life cause I said so!"

          • Robjection

            They decide that you cannot have a relationship with them specifically, not that you cannot have a relationship at all. If you're unable to find another person to have a relationship with, that's your problem, not theirs.

          • hobbesian

            And if they are the only person I want one with? Then what?

            They are still making a choice for me that I have no say in.

          • You accept their decision and move on. You can only control yourself. Maybe they come to regret it; maybe the timing is wrong. Maybe you move on and discover a new someone who you want with in equal or greater amounts that your ex. If they don't want you, that is their right. The only thing you can do is respect and accept that they are following their heart.

            Or, hell, go the proactive route. They don't want you? Embrace self-improvement and change until they do! And who knows, maybe in the process of becoming a more confident, attractive, even-keeled person, you discover that both your ex AND other people want you. Win-win!

          • Robjection

            "And if they are the only person I want one with?"

            You decided on that, not them. Even if it is only on a subconscious level. So it's still your problem, not theirs.

          • Johmichaels

            What, in the whole world? Of seven billion people? Sounds like you've got a case of one iris there.

            We've all had break ups, and yes, at the time it feels like that's the only person and they're the one hurting you and controlling everything, but things do get better, and you realise it isn't as simple as "my ex is evil, I hate them" though that is always fun to think post break up.

            Truth is, your relationship with the ex wasn't perfect. Some things were not going well for her, and if you think about it,some things weren't going well for you either. You both put up with things you didn't like, that didn't work, and from that you can learn how yur next relationship can be better, how you can be a better boyfriend, and find a more suitable partner.

            I think most people have had a break up which lead to a belief that no one could ever replace an ex,but most of us find someone even better afterwards. Why would it be any different for you?

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Some things were not going well for her"

            I don't know the specifics of the situation, but I do think hobbesian has a point (yes, I know) *if* it was a situation where the other person in relationship never communicated what wasn't going well for her, and never gave the other person a chance for the two of them to do a little conflict resolution together.

            I've had someone pull that. It wasn't pretty.

            A short example in skit form:

            BF: "I was waiting for a call from you at some point to hear an apology."

            Rooo: "How was I to know you were expecting a call if you've never told me that was what you wanted in situations like this? Especially when I can remember numerous recent situations where I've reached out to you by phone and you haven't picked up or been available?"

            BF: "crickets*


            I don't think a good relationship is defined as one where conflicts don't happen; that's not terribly realistic. Rather, I think it's defined as one where you have a system that works for both people to work things out when problems come up.

            Even Gottman says one of the most destructive so-called "communcation" patterns in a relationship is stonewalling. If this person never communicated what they thought was problematic, and just withdrew and broke up with the other person … yeah, I'm putting that in the Not Okay pile.

            /possibly unpopular opinon

          • Johmichaels

            You're absolutely right, often partners don't tell when there is a problem and don't try to work it out. The exact thing happened with an ex of mine. In hindsight it's obvious she wasn't happy with the way we were going, but I was kinda blind to it (first relationship rose coloured glasses).

            But at the same time, I could have done more as well to talk to her, just try and catch up. I'm kinda glad I didn't though, because those communication lessons I learnt from my ex really helped in future relationships. As I started a relationship with the woman I married, one of our first conversations was about how much we talked and how to deal with conflict. Our relationship hasn't been conflict free, of course, but it has definitely benefited by how much we would talk to each other.

          • And…. why are you sitting there alone? Why are you *allowing* this person to have power over you? Why aren't you taking a deep breath, accepting that this person doesn't currently want you, and going out to find something else to do? why are you sitting there alone, instead of finding hobbies, finding friends, embracing new possibilities?

            This is exactly what the Doc means… if you really believe this is the ONLY person you can have a relationship with (as opposed to the BEST person), you are giving away all of your power. YOU are the one creating that kind of pain inside you.*

            Don't be a victim of your own twisted mentality. Get out, embrace the unknown. Your ex may have options and love/affection now, and you might not, but that doesn't mean you NEVER will unless that is the reality you create by refusing to see possibilities.

            *Please don't misunderstand me, break-ups cause pain and there is going to be aching and hurting regardless. But the particular kind of pain that says "they get to have all sorts of sex and options and love" is pain you are causing yourself, not pain caused by your ex.

          • hobbesian

            see, you're always so truthful and heartfelt in your replies.. but honestly. I don't want to start over, I don't want to learn new hobbies, I don't want to "get out, embrace the unknown" or any of that, I want back what I had. That's it. The world could be pitching swedish volleyball players at me from sunup to sundown and I still would want back what I had because I made a promise that is now strangling my life.

            I cannot do any of that stuff you suggested because if I do it, it means I'm breaking my promise, and then I'm a hypocrite.

          • enail0_o

            Would you actually be breaking your promise? Was your promise really to the effect of 'my relationship with you is eternal and totally independent of your relationship with me, and I will be a good and loyal partner to you to the best of my ability forever whether or not you accept me as your partner still?"

          • hobbesian

            I would consider it breaking my promise to date or look for a new partner, yes.

            Obviously it was not worded the way you worded it, because at the time It was made we both I think, honestly thought it would last forever, so there was no reason to add qualifiers to it.

            I'll go with what Rob said, yes, as far as I'm concerned I sold myself to her entirely. She chose to dump me at the landfill like the parents in AI did.

            You know, I never intended that comment to turn this thread into such a huge tangent, I just wanted to point out there was no 'both' involved in a breakup typically. And I think that my original comment is 100% accurate, I'm done with this though, I'm not going to derail this thread anymore.

          • eselle28

            Even taking it outside of your specific situation, I would say that there often is a "both" involved in a breakup, especially if we're talking about long term relationships and not just declined third dates. I've known lots of couples who agreed fairly mutually that they'd be better off divorcing or breaking up, even if one person brought up the idea first, and there are lots of other relationships where only one person wanted things to end but the other person contributed by failing to be an adequate partner.

          • I have no idea what kind of promise you could have made that would do that.

            But regardless, you're already embracing the unknown somewhat. You don't know when you're going to die. You don't know when the earth will end. In the grand scheme of things, whether you meet someone new and attractive is rather small peanuts in the "unknown" spectrum of things.

            Maybe you don't need to find new hobbies. Maybe you just need to whole-heartedly embrace the ones you do have. Maybe all you need to do is be selfish and focused for a while. Maybe you live a cloistered existence and THEN embrace the unknown.

            The fact is, even if your ex came back to you, you shouldn't WANT what you had. Because what you had is broken. That's why it's not still here. What you need is something *new.* If your ex were to want you again, you'd need to focus on building something BETTER, something that will actually last. If you're focusing so intensely on what you "had," you lose the possibility of having something even better, maybe even with the same girl!

            You have to move forward. You have to put the past behind you, and work towards a better future, and that's true even if your ex comes back. As long as you're stuck in the past, you miss out on all sorts of amazing opportunities…. which means you could lose your ex twice! Does that really sound like what you want?

          • Amen, Marty! I've had this happen to me with an ex – he did lose me twice for this exact reason and it was terribly painful for both of us. Waiting in stasis for someone to come back never works out for anyone.

          • Robjection

            "I cannot do any of that stuff you suggested because if I do it, it means I'm breaking my promise, and then I'm a hypocrite."

            You sold yourself into slavery? I mean, what kind of promise could be binding you to someone who clearly does not give a shit about you, and on top of that, the promise does not benefit you in any way?

          • isdzan

            Ah, I know where you are coming from but sometimes things aren't so black and white. I am going to use the example of my first boyfriend who I broke up with.

            We met in Headstart and started dating when we were 15/16. I thought this was it. He was awesome and amazing and our families are close.


            I wanted to go to college and that meant leaving the rez and leaving the state. He never wanted to leave the rez, work on the ranch and have kids sooner than later. We agreed no kids until I finished college and he would come with me and take some non-degree bookkeeping and ag classes (school wasn't his thing)


            He hated living in LA and it was killing him. By sophomore year I knew I wanted to go to grad school and was not ready for kids yet. If I went back and lived that life I'd be the one dying inside, but if he stayed with me he'd die inside. So I ended it.

            He went home and within a year met his wife. They are on kid 4 or 5 now and happy. I stayed and finished my degree and met my bf. Had I stuck to my promise, no one would be happy. If we stayed in LA he likely would have drunk himself to death or killed himself. If I'd gone home with him, I would have probably done the same or worse, resented him and my kids, possibly hated them.

            Sometimes breaking up is the least bad option.

          • velveeta

            Wow, that's some story. Most have been so painful for both of you to make that break…

          • eselle28

            I'm not expecting that I'll change your mind. I'm simply stating my own opinion.

            Someone who breaks up with someone else isn't guaranteed tons of options for either sex or affection, nor are they guaranteeing their partner will be alone for life. The only think that's determined by their decision is that one specific relationship will end, and I can't imagine how that would work otherwise. A relationship that consists of one person who's happy and trying to make things work and another person who's a spiteful captive who hasn't cared about the other person's feelings in years sounds even worse than a breakup.

          • fromthelandwithlove

            How many relationships have I ended where my partner who I chose to break up with went on to date someone new before I did? The answer is more than one.

          • …that really doesn't sound like any breakup I've ever been through O_o

            Maybe because I haven't dated any possessive assholes with delusions of omnipotence so far – just people I wasn't compatible enough with.

          • Max

            "If you're expecting any sort of breakthrough where I'll suddenly agree with you, it's never going to happen. "

            I think this sums up most of the discussions people have with you rather well.

          • Robjection

            How does a relationship between two people work exactly if one person doesn't want to be in it?

          • hobbesian

            Honestly I don't consider that my problem. She should have thought of that before ruining it.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            So, basically, you're a cat. Once you lick something, it's yours forever.

          • hobbesian

            no, once the words "I want to spend the rest of my life with you, no matter what happens" were uttered, the way I look at it we became each others forever.

            So now I'm stuck, because I can't bring myself to break my promise to her, even though she felt no such compunction.

          • That isn't a promise.

            Nope, sorry! Notice the present tense of "I want." As in, in the present moment. As in, in that moment she was being genuine about her desire, but it has nothing to do with the future.

            Though really dude, that's just arguing semnatics. Are you really going to hold this poor girl (and yourself) to something that isn't even a marriage vow? Are you really THAT stuck on a promise that most people would correctly interpret is half-truth, half-hyperbole?

            I'm gonna be honest: I don't think it has anything to do with keeping a "promise." I think it has everything to do with you bitterly trying to claim the moral high ground in order to soothe your ego.

          • Robjection

            So, by following the letter of the promise rather than the spirit, you did sell yourself into slavery. No wonder you're more than a little peeved about how it worked out.

          • That it's like the romantic Muggle version of the Unbreakable Vow.

            (Speaking of, while I adore the world of HP, sometimes I am very glad I don't live in it, cause I'm fairly certain I promised at the age of 4 to eat only pickles forever. I love pickles, but MAN would that get tiring. Hey, new idea for a novel-the existential angst of someone forced to eat nothing but pickles for the rest of their lives. Though then Red Pillers would probably take it as a literary allegory to monogamy and marriage. And this is why I never finish any projects.)

          • Gentleman Horndog

            I was thinking something similar — a story/novel based around a magic artifact that forces people to keep the vows they made when they were young.

            I'm thinking it's the sort of stunt that would be pulled by a trickster spirit. One of the nasty ones that views "teaching lessons to mortals" as a sideline to their TRUE love: making people suffer.

          • Joy

            I love the world of Harry Potter beyond all reason. But you really don't have to dig that far down to realize that an awful lot of things in that world have deeply frightening ramifications and are more than a little messed up.

          • Johmichaels

            Sorry, why can't you break a promise made to your ex ou no linger have a relationship with? Who's going to care?

            Not your ex.
            Not your friends and family, who may not even know about this promise
            Only one person would care if you broke your promise….you. And people break promises to yourself all the time. Look at diets or gym memberships. Are these all terrible, never to be dated people?

            So you break you promise, the worst that could happen is you judge yourself negatively….which you're already doing. The best that could happen is that you meet someone better, be a better person, and have a new relationship. Which would be better?

          • Robjection

            Puh-leese! It was ruined before she left!


          • Wondering

            You realize that what you're advocating here is essentially a type of slavery, right? That the other person has no freedom to live where they want, have autonomy over their body and decide to have or not have sex with whom they want. That you *own* that other person; that they *belong* to you because you and only you have decided they can never leave despite what their wishes are as a human being.

          • zmd

            I would say, you've told her feelings don't matter when you refuse to have any time of conversation or give closure. You know, I really wish that more people broke up by telling their partner the very hard heartbreaking truth, which is "I thought I felt more strongly about you, but I realize now that I don't feel that way. I loved you and I have fallen out of love and there is nothing you or I can do to change that." If it is something you honestly feel your partner can change, they travel too much, they react badly to particular things, they are too needy, whatever, it's your responsibility (if you do care about the relationship) to give them a chance to change. This is also their chance to be like "hey, fuck you, I'm not changing." Then you break up. I just wish that if I was broken up with, I wasn't given a reason that I know I could have improved on if I got a chance.

          • OtherRoooToo

            " I just wish that if I was broken up with, I wasn't given a reason that I know I could have improved on if I got a chance."


            I tried to say something like this upthread. You put it much better (and more precisely).

        • Mel_

          Okay, I've got to speak up here.

          Hobbesian, I know you've had a couple of really awful partners who did leave you for completely selfish reasons with no consideration for your feelings. But you are projecting your own experiences way too much onto relationships in general.

          For one, you're assuming that the partner who's being left was always keeping their end of the "deal". But most of us, at least, don't get into relationships based on the sole condition of "you will stay with me". Most of us understand that the relationship will continue as long as both partners are treating the other person well, meeting their emotional needs, etc. An awful lot of break-ups happen because the person who initiates the break-up no longer feels their partner is treating them well (or perhaps is treating them quite badly), often after they've tried to give their partner the "agency" to change that and the partner has declined to. e.g., Technically, I was the one who initiated the break-up with my first boyfriend. After a whole lot of problematic behavior on his part that I'd tried to talk to him about and work through several times in the past without making any long term progress. And yet based on the blanket statement you've made above, you're saying that I "dehumanized" him by expecting him to have the compassion and self-responsibility to treat me decently, and that anything less than me staying with him regardless of what he did as long as he still wants me around is taking his agency away on a whim.

          My husband's first girlfriend started cheating on him with another guy, while happily keeping him around. Was it "dehumanizing" her for him to decide that wasn't acceptable treatment and leaving her?

          I think that's the most obvious case where it seems ridiculous to paint the person initiating the break-up as a total villain. From what I've seen, the other most common reason for break-ups is less cut and dried, but still has no one really being the villain. People, especially young people in their early relationships, change. Their mental, emotional, and physical needs change. Sometimes two people who are compatible change in different ways and are no longer compatible. Sometimes one person changes before another and is no longer happy with how things were before. Unless you're a psychic, you can't predict this happening, and there's no way you can prevent it from happening. You yourself should know quite well that you can't control your feelings–if you could, then you could turn off the pain you feel about your fiance leaving you. Telling someone who's had experiences in life that have affected who they are, so that they now need something different from what their partner was providing to be happy, that they should just be happy anyway, is like me telling you to just get over your break-up and stop caring. Which I wouldn't do, because I know you can't just turn that off, and it's pretty insensitive for you to suggest other people should be able to control their feelings in ways you know are impossible.

          If a person finds they need something they're not getting to be happy, and they talk to their partner about it and their partner is unwilling or unable to meet those needs, they have taken their partner's thoughts and opinions into consideration. They've given them all the agency they can. It's sad, but again, it's hardly a matter of callously discarding the person on a whim.

          Yes, there are people who do callously break-up with people who are treating them perfectly well without making any effort to salvage the relationship or even discuss the situation with their partner despite promises made etc. Yes, that is incredibly hurtful and selfish. It's fine for you to say, "the way my fiance broke up with me was awful" or whatever. What's not okay, and doesn't even make sense, is to assume that all break-ups have the exact same dynamic as yours, and thus to condemn everyone who's ever left a relationship.

          (I'd also point out that you and any person you date have the exact same amount of agency. You are both capable of ending the relationship at any time. You are also both incapable of forcing any other given person to have or continue a relationship with you. The only reason you see this as unfair is because you've decided you would never want to end a relationship. But that's you giving up the agency you have. No one has taken it away from you; most of us are fine with other people being "allowed" to break up with us because we know we can in turn break up with someone who isn't making us happy too.)

      • Meyer N Gaines

        Lol, not gonna lie, 5 years ago (my senior year of high school), I was involved with a woman just because I was sick of being foreveralone, and I thought that I could get sex from her and lose my virginity. I did not love her, or even like her very much. In fact, at that time I remember thinking about her as a "6," and looking jealously at my friend's "8" (this is a friend who was pretty much a better version of me, and his better romantic success only made me feel worse about it). I didn't think she looked that great, and I actually found her kind of irritating as a person.

        I only stayed with her out of the possibility of getting sex out of it. Naive 17-year-old me thought that if I dated her long enough and was nice to her, I would eventually get sex out of it. Except that never happened, and I just got even angrier at the fact that all my friends were getting sex and I was just stuck at bj's.Eventually, I got fed up with her, we parted on bad terms, have never spoken since, and hate each other to this day.

        It was after that episode that I found out about the seduction community, and I realized all the "beta" things I had done, and I swore that in college, things would change. Except then I got sidetracked by a League of Legends addiction and poor grades, then working like mad for 3 years to make up for that. Then I got into a grad program, and thought "well, now I can get my dating life in order!" Except it turned out to be a lot harder than expected, and now I have to put my PUA Adventure on the backburner while I sort out these new problems.

        Every time I think my life is getting on the right track, fate comes along and turns everything to crap haha.

        Oh, and please don't judge me too harshly on things I did 5 years ago. Back then, I think I was the embodiment of a scarcity mentality. I literally thought nobody would ever want to date me, so I had to put up with a girl who I did not find attractive physically or emotionally.

        • OtherRoooToo

          "I was involved with a woman just because I was sick of being foreveralone, and I thought that I could get sex from her and lose my virginity. I did not love her, or even like her very much."

          If you still have the "get sex" mentality (which I will admit I've seen in some of your posts far more recent than 5 years ago)? Then yes, I'm judging.

          Let me ask you something — I've seen you (and a lot of men who seem to think like you) hyperfocus on what you can "get" out of a relationship with a woman; how she can best "serve" your "needs".

          What does she get out of being with you?

          If you're adamant about framing relationships as transactional like that, what does she get out of the deal??

          (And I mean *you*, you as you are right now — not some hypothetical rich gymbunny bad boy. I've observed that men who believe women all have that mentality justify it by saying really one-dimensional things like "Well, women just want money." And you don't necessarily have money, or other things you think they want — but you still go after those same women thinking, or at least communicating in places like here, that even though you don't have megabucks (you're a student or temporarily de-financed or whatever) or are built like the Helmsworths, or whatever you believe is important to these women, that there are things *you* want that you're entitled – yes, I said it – to get from them.
          What is it you think you have to offer them in exchange??)

          • Meyer N Gaines

            Well when you put it like that, I have nothing to offer. Not a surprise that I'm forever alone, haha. I don't feel entitled to sex though, and if I ever did, years of loneliness have disabused me of that notion.

            Oh, and I don't like having a "get sex" mentality, but I guess I don't see any alternatives. I've probably mentioned this before on the forums, but the Horrible Woman acted like doing anything sexual was worse than going to the dentist, and that really forced me to think of sex in transactional terms, because that was all I had known.

            Come to think of it, I'm not sure why she didn't initiate the breakup, and why I had to do it.

          • isdzan

            Maybe she had a scarcity mentality and thought you were the best sche could ever get? I mean, considering that you wouldn't reciprocate oral sex, I am not surprised she didn't really want to go beyond head with you and maybe she didn't realize that other men might find her attractive and be more sexually compatible with her.

          • Meyer N Gaines

            Well, I did reciprocate, but that shit was nasty. Also, she was no great lover herself.

            I mean, I get that this is a women's site, and you guys are going to take the woman's side on this, but I'm not the bad guy here. I was naive and stupid, but that doesn't make the old me a bad person.

          • Guest

            "That shit was nasty".

            Well then. Aren't you a generous person. Never understood guys who don't have a problem with a woman going down on them, but find the reverse disgusting. Quite frankly I don't think any woman should offer oral sex to a man until he has proven enthusiastic about doing the same for her (with the caveat that she wants him to give her oral sex of course). Too often the women wind up doing all the giving, and get nothing in return. (of course if the dude is enthusiastic I would hope the lady would reciprocate in kind)

            Also the fact that you phrase it as "That shit was nasty" says a whole heck of a lot about you, your maturity and your general attitude to things that take you out of comfort zone.

            Oh! And the idea that you aren't the bad guy. No one is saying you were. But maybe you weren't the good guy either. She was using you for a relationship, you were using her for sex. This is what we call an unhealthy relationship where neither person is behaving well.

          • Meyer N Gaines

            Ironically, I did offer it to her first, and we tried it again a few times, but I always hated it, and she got nothing out of it, so we eventually realized that it was pointless.

            I mean, I get that she was using me for a relationship, but what's the point if the relationship is shitty?

          • isdzan

            Thinking it is the only chance of a relationship you might have. Or scarcity mentality. You saw her as your only option for sex, she saw you as her only option for love/affection. Neither of you were happy or satisfied and you both shouldn't have let it go as long as you did. Now, after this experience, hopefully, neither of you will get in a similar situation.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "I get that this is a women's site"


            Funny that you should say that, since I was recently chided – by one of your compatriots, IINM – that since this was a site for *men*, I as a woman shouldn’t even expect much empathy or consideration for my point of view here.

            "I'm not the bad guy here."

            First, nobody even said all that.

            The thing, though, about being a good guy? Is being big enough to own up to it when you’ve been engaging in bad behavior, and hurting another person, instead of being defensive and making excuses.

            I mean

            " that doesn't make the old me a bad person."

            a) what I was pointing out above is that the "new you" seems to still have a lot of the same ideas about how to treat women as you say the "old you" had, and

            b) this?

            "that shit was nasty. Also, she was no great lover herself. "

            is just, you know, rude.

          • Meyer N Gaines

            It may be a site for men, but it seems like mostly women come here. Also I don't even know who IINM is.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Confirmation bias. I suspect you get a lot more women commenting here than at other men's sites*, but plenty of dudes are regulars in the comments, and the women who do come here are generally quite sympathetic to guys. (And I'm fairly sure I couldn't get away with my screen name on a women's site. 😉 )

            (* — This is where I cop to speculation and admit I'm not a regular on any such site.)

            This is a men's site. That so many women feel comfortable contributing to the discussion means it's a GOOD men's site.

          • hobbesian

            I agree with this statement. Compared to the comments section at goodmenproject and a few other places I've checked out.. I'm really glad that are so many genuinely concerned and interested people here.

          • thepaleking71

            I don't think a website with a tagline "helping nerds get the girl" can be considered a women's site, unless all of DNL's articles were about nerdy lesbians.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Well when you put it like that, I have nothing to offer. Not a surprise that I'm forever alone, haha."


            I'm going to say this, and it's from the heart.

            I had pretty much this same exact struggle with two (otherwise, I thought, lovely) nerd-esque men recently.

            With the one, I tried my best to convince him he had other things about himself, that I valued, that I wished he would let me appreciate while he was building up the other things he apparently thought he had to "be able to offer me" in order to be in relationship. I couldn't convince him. He wasn't trying to hear me. *sadface*

            The other, when he told me what he was looking for from me — which was pretty comprehensive, but when the relationship is reciprocal, I don't mind giving — when I asked him what *he* thought he had to offer … I got radio silence.

            In neither case was that the response I was looking for (to understate the point by a fairly significant margin).

            And what frustrates me so about you and so many nerd guys saying the same thing is that you just stop there.

            You say "I have nothing to offer."

            And then you just sit there.

            You don't look at yourselves in the mirror, and say "What could I improve about myself so that I could be in relationship with this woman whom I've told I value?"

            You don't say "What could I be doing differently in order to participate in this relationship with this person I want?"

            You don't say "Maybe this person I'm in relationship with, that I value, has made some observations about me – both positive and that need improvement, but mostly positive – that might merit some consideration."

            No. You just. sit. there.

            I don't generally quote Dr. Phil, of all people, but he has a phrase that, if tweaked, I find quite applicable in these situations.

            To wit — how is this working for anyone involved??

            Here's the thing.

            We women are working on our relationship skills, and we're working hard — especially those of us interested in self-styled intellectuals/nerds.

            You all are the only ones sitting here not doing anything — nothing but saying "I have nothing to offer" — and not being willing to change anything.

            Has it dawned on nobody else that maybe if some of you all who spout this "nothing to offer" mantra look in the mirror, and change a few things, and meet us halfway, we could all have better relationships? We could all be happier, if you did your half (since we're already working on ours)?

            Is it *that* much like rocket science …??

          • Robjection

            Someone get this woman a hose, 'cause she's on fire tonight!

          • OtherRoooToo

            LOL. Cutie.

            If you can find me a man who appreciates my frankness over the long haul, I will throw you a very nice party of exactly the type you like. 🙂

          • MCSpanner

            For those of us who have got nowhere relationship wise, how do we know what needs to change? Everything about ourselves?

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Everything about ourselves?"

            Just a minute there, MC.
            Please stop with the hyperbole.

            (I'm a poet and don't know it.)

            Since I'm dating regularly, but still don't have the permanent relationship I'm looking for, I am once again indebted to GJ for sparing me the criticism of being the pot giving the kettle tips by beating me to it (please see his comment in this thread).


          • MCSpanner

            Where is the hyperbole, it was a genuine question for those of us who have no dating history (good or bad) to reference to when it comes to what to fix. So the only solution I see is trial and error with everything until something works.

          • OtherRoooToo

            The hyperbole is that *nobody* is asking you to change everything about yourself.
            That's a rather blatant exaggeration.

            (I mean, especially if you say you have *no* dating history? Then theoretically nobody should have told you *anything* was wrong … since you haven't been out on any dates/interacted with anyone. *scratches head quizzically*)

          • MCSpanner

            Theoretically, the list of things I am doing wrong could include everything. Chances are highly unlikely as I don't murder people as a weekend hobby but to get into a relationship could take me going through all of that list and changing it so the only aspect of the original me left is the name on my birth certificate.

          • Quit being so melodramatic. It's unlikely you're doing everything wrong.

          • MCSpanner

            It is also highly unlikely I'd progress through the education system and 4 years of employment, sharing a variety of buildings and oxygen with X amount of girls and none of them be remotely interested in me.


          • Dude, just sharing air with people isn't enough to "get" you romantic interest. That I can guarantee.

          • MCSpanner

            Really? Certainly seemed that way at school and Uni.

          • What are you fishing for? The statement that some conventionally attractive people get romantic interest by doing absolutely nothing? Because while that might be true (and I disagree because those "hot" people have put tons of work into their appearances) the truth is that most of the population has to, I dunno, talk to people, flirt, ask someone out, work on themselves in many ways, etc… to be able to get romantic success.

          • MCSpanner

            And now we return to the vague working on themselves bit. Vicious circle this lack of knowledge stuff.

          • Dude!
            I don't know you in real life. I can't really tell you what you would need to work on.
            Though I suspect your self-pitying, why bother attitude might be somewhere to start.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Though I suspect your self-pitying, why bother attitude might be somewhere to start."

            And there it is.

          • MCSpanner

            The why bother attitude is a result of not seeing the end result as worth it. I don't think my self-esteem issues come into play at this point – though they would if I got back into attempting the dating stuff.

            The only issue I have is the occasional spell of loneliness and that is easily fixed with a trip to see a football match or a couple of hours playing an online multi-player game.

          • Okay then, you don't see dating as worth it for you.
            More power to you–you don't have to change anything.

          • Meyer N Gaines

            So I don't understand…I thought you were being rhetorical and trying to tell me not to put relationships into transactional terms. But it seems now that you are ENCOURAGING me to think of relationships as transactions, and telling me to increase my buying power.

            Regardless, I'm pretty much doing what I can, I'm back in the gym, I'm on the road to a high-status profession as a physician, and I've actually been forcing myself to socialize with people (I hate it, but I do it anyways). I mean, I guess that I could look into penis enhancement, but really, I'm definitely not just sitting there.

          • enail0_o

            You might want to consider the less concrete things that people can offer other people in relationships, personality stuff like kindness, sense of humour, interesting discussions, willingness to help out, etc.

          • Yeah…umm, most people don't want a dude who only brings being fit and rich to the table. But the qualities enail mentioned are pretty much universally appealing.

          • Joy

            I'd say muscles and money actually rank pretty far down on the list of What Most Women of My Acquaintance Want. To compare looking for a relationship to looking for a house, Has Nice Arms is on the level of something like Has a Bay Window. I see some guys working really hard at having an awesome bay window, but meanwhile their house lacks structural integrity, or is hard to find and doesn't have a house number, or there's some other much more important area that gets neglected, because Bay Window.

          • hobbesian

            The thing is though, working on your arms is *easy* compared to doing a lot of the other things..

            I could start swimming again and weight training and eat nothing but kale chips and chicken breasts and I would be ripped and it wouldn't cost me anything except my time and a lot of boring chewing. My body, my hormones, all of it is designed in such a way as to do that kind of stuff really well and without a whole lot of extra work on my part.. just doing pushups and eating an ultra low fat diet would probably be enough to get my otterlike sleekness back..

            But showing off your personality? when your personality is specifically quiet and introverted? That shit is hard.

          • Johmichaels

            Hard, yes, but not impossible. Introvert and quiet aren't the entirety of your personality, what things do you do, what are you interested in, etc, doing or talking about things can be a way to show off your personality.
            I remember DNL talking about developing some interesting stories to help along conversation, it can also help show your personality.

            Another point on introversion….it's usually out out as an all or nothing divider, but it's more a trait we'd use in particular situations. A person we would conventionally think of as an introvert can and does talk to many people, presenting lectures to thousands, and do everything at extrovert does, the main difference is that they would feel much more tired as a result.

          • Joy

            Which is almost certainly one reason for the focus on it, although I can also think of others. It's typically easier than doing the self-examination or emotional work and provides more visible results.

          • hobbesian

            That's exactly it, you can actually SEE the results of your work, and for people who are often raised in outcome dependent cultures, EG the US, outcome is all that matters.

            It's the same type of thing I've mentioned on here many times, that the journey to me is just a hassle along the way standing between me and my objective. But if I can actually see results along the way, it's less odious to undertake.

          • There's a wonderful book called Everyday Holiness that has specific, measurable exercises you can use to develop your character. If you want, I would totally send you a copy. 😀

          • velveeta

            #1 You are lucky getting into/staying in shape comes fairly easily to you!

            #2 Don't think of it as "showing off" your personality. Think of it as being real about who you are, what you like, what you're like. Accept who you are and it will show in how you relate to others!

          • hobbesian

            Well, when you are told a million times "Just be yourself", but then "Just being yourself" is never good enough. What they really mean is "Be yourself, so long as yourself is awesome, and if it's not awesome, be someone who is awesome" but no one says that.

            I mean, what exactly are you expecting the guys in the relationship to offer? This is a serious question because I'd like to know.

            Because I don't quite understand what you mean?
            Do I need to offer 6 figures before I can date?
            Do I need to speak 3 languages?
            Do I need to have abs of steel?

            These sorts of material things are what society tells men we are supposed to be offering, but they basically require you to spend all your time studying, or working, or working out. No time for relationships. So if this is the case, then the natural assumption anyone who is lacking anything "Marketable" like that would have is "I have nothing to offer". That at least is what I generally mean when I say something like that.

            Or is it interpersonal skills?

            If it's this, then most guys are specifically taught from a VERY young age that the only interpersonal skills they should have are working a room to make a sale.

            Or is it so subjective and case by case you can't really describe it? In which case how do I ever learn what to improve if I start from Zero on every new partner?

            I mean, I guess to me it really is like rocket science because I don't understand what you mean.

          • enail0_o

            Can't speak for OtherRoo of course, but I'd say it's pretty case by case which things any given person is looking for, but there's a pretty standard pool of things that could broadly be considered suitable for offering, even if not every person will consider every one of those things a plus for them. It can include concrete things like 6 figures and abs of still, as well as interpersonal skills and personal traits – which could be anything from 'endless curiosity' to 'considerate'. Different social/demographic groups tend to prize different sets of offerings over others, though there's still variety within any given group.

            Do you remember that "What do you bring to the table/zombie apocalypse" thread? I seem to recall you listed a pretty good set of things that you're willing and able to offer that I would confidently put in the category of 'suitable for offering.'

            So I think your task is not so much having things to offer as 1. finding people who might be interested in what you might offer (which I know is not an insignificant challenge in your area) and 2. getting better at letting people see the great things you have to offer (which is another place where various interpersonal skills can come in handy).

          • hobbesian

            Yes that was actually a pretty fun thread.. and yeah I mean I get that I just was sort of confused as to what exactly was being said here.

            It's difficult sometimes to get out of the transactional mindset when so many things seem to be endlessly reinforcing the transactional mindset..

            I know the kinds of things I have to offer, and I think that since that thread I've grown to be a bit better at showing them without being such a complete doormat in real life.. but a lifetime of learned obsequiousness is not unlearned overnight of course.. But sometimes it really does feel like I'm being told I need all those concrete things, regardless of my every day existence when I see it isn't the case…

          • hobbesian

            And to be honest I don't really expect Roo to reply anyway, fair's fair, I said I didn't owe her a reply and she doesn't owe me one. But you're reply at least did illuminate things anyway.

            I just keep flashing back to that Feynemen thing when he's talking about Light moving like waves except they don't exactly.. and then saying light moves like particles except not exactly.. that seems to be how dating is.. it's transactional.. but not exactly.. and it's not transactional.. but not exactly.. and those "not exactly"s are entirely based on the personalities over the persons forming the relationship..

          • Christine

            Interesting. For me, this relates to how, no matter how many self-improvement things you do or how much you try to control the environment, connecting with other people requires IMO at least a small leap of faith.

          • hobbesian

            Right, and that seems to be the bit where I choke. I've never been good at it, and the few times I've done it I've gotten burned really badly. Now I'm hesitant to do it at all, and ever invest any kind of emotional connection with anyone.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "And to be honest I don't really expect Roo to reply anyway"

            I do think it would help, if you were looking for a specific response to something, to
            a)take the time to look and see that you’re commenting back to the person you’re demanding a response from, if you feel the topic is that pressing, and

            b)ask the question directly of the person of whom you’re demanding a response

            *looks around, doesn’t see that here*

            Enail pretty much covered what I would have said, though.

            (Of course, I’m sure it was accidental – the failure to reply to me directly and then the little passive-aggressive “I don’t really expect a response from her” jab. These threads are long. I’m just asking you – and anyone else reading here – to consider the possibility it was a half-subconscious PA jab… like you don’t really think enough of me to consider looking carefully to make sure you were commenting back to me on the topic. Especially in light of your last “You don’t deserve a response from me” reply to me.
            Just some food for thought. )

            P.S. On something similar to the same topic, “Rooo” has three “o”s, not just two (the way you wrote it).

            Because yes, when I want to show someone – even an acquaintance, even on the internet – that I’m paying enough attention to them to care about what they say, I also do take particular care to notice how THEY prefer their name/pseudo/moniker to be spelled. Yes, I really do.

            (Short of typos in a hurry, I do consistently take the time to spell your name correctly, for example.)

          • enail0_o

            The spelling error was mine to start. Sorry about that, OtherRooo! Fancy spellings get me sometimes :\

          • "Well, when you are told a million times "Just be yourself", but then "Just being yourself" is never good enough. What they really mean is "Be yourself, so long as yourself is awesome, and if it's not awesome, be someone who is awesome" but no one says that."

            Okay, I'll say it. You should be awesome. If you're not awesome, or don't think you're awesome, why should somebody awesome date you? Make yourself awesome. Not some weird idea of attractive-to-girls that you pieced together from watching bad TV and thinking of women as a hostile alien species. Awesome.

            As a hint to start you out, telling people you're single because women only want rich guys with big muscles is extremely non-awesome.

          • hobbesian

            No no, I'm single because I am a poor judge of character.

          • You are supposed to figure out what YOU like about yourself, and then look for a partner who has what you want and wants what you have. Usually, the lists are pretty damn similar.

            For instance, I want someone who is open-minded, self-contained, curious, funny, kind, compassionate and considerate. I would also list those things as all things I think I bring to the table, and would want my partner to love about me.

            You should walk out your door everyday knowing what is good about you, and be proud of it! If you have a nice smile, smile a lot. If you're kind, be kind to strangers. People will see that and respond to it. Stop worrying about what these men and dating sites and Reddit threads seem to be telling you about what women want. Decide for yourself what YOUR woman would want and put it out there for her to pick up on.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "Come to think of it, I'm not sure why she didn't initiate the breakup, and why I had to do it."

            Dude, when I was in college, I had a girlfriend who told me she thought she was a lesbian … and somehow, I was the one who had to break up with HER.

            When you're new to romantic relationships, you're liable to do some stupid, inexplicable shit, especially if you're young. (And I should really remember this whole experience the next time somebody is rhapsodizing about the awesome sex they missed-out on as a teen. 🙂 )

    • zmd

      I think it's a fallacy to think a boyfriend will look at you and go "she calls too often, there's surely someone better out there." That is not always the thinking in a breakup. Very rarely are people broken up with because there is a mysterious better other. Perhaps you always called a lot, but back when he was infatuated with you and excited by a new relationship, he could brush off that annoying feature. Now he can see more clearly and he's reevaluating what your negatives may mean for his life, as you do with anyone you get to know better.

      You know, I would love for everyone in my life to have little Sims people bars above their heads and I can see how what I do effects their annoyance and satisfaction factors. But that kind of reliability just doesn't exist when you're dealing with other people and it's super hard to accept sometimes.

      • "Very rarely are people broken up with because there is a mysterious better other."

        Ah, well, we might have to disagree about that, since in all the cases where a guy dumped me, that's *exactly* what the situation was. To be fair, it goes hand-in-hand with the fact that the guys were dating me out of desperation. By dating me, they increased their confidence… and then suddenly other girls liked them too, they realized they do indeed have options, and POOF, no more relationship with me.

        I'm not saying that's the case for everyone. It just seems to be a pattern within my own relationships. And there probably is some insecurity and fear within me, at the idea that the more a guy knows me, the less he likes me because I'm no longer shiny. I let that insecurity morph me into Stepford Wife a few times, and it was a very uncomfortable and regrettable experience.

        But that's one of those "slightly advanced" social techniques I can't quite seem to master… being enough of myself to feel authentic and open, but not enough to annoy and push people away. And the less mental energy I have, the harder it is to see that line…. and for some goddamn reason, despite my frequent pleas for slaps upside the head, people never seem to think they SHOULD tell me when they start to feel uncomfortable, they just expect me to know and mind-read and then get annoyed with me when I don't. And there's my social rant for the week. 🙂

        • So, you once asked me to tell you when I thought you were stepping over the line. But when I did, you got really mad, started ignoring my posts, and have repeatedly misconstrued and generalized what I said. It made me feel really betrayed, and I am now extremely unlikely to ever help you in that particular way again.

          If you want people to tell you when they feel uncomfortable, you might want to think about how you react when they do the thing you're asking for.

          • I didn't get mad at you correcting me, I got mad at you doing it in a way that essentially translated to "I get to take you down and have the final word then take my ball and go home!" And I haven't been ignoring your posts… if anything, I just don't respond because you seem to intensely dislike me. Why would I respond to someone who just seems to get angry whenever I talk to them? As far as you feeling betrayed… yes, I have asked people to tell me when I'm over the line, but that does not mean telling me in a way that doesn't take into consideration the fact that I am still a human with feelings who deserves respect.

            For example, if I ask a friend his opinion on my dating life, and he comes back with 'I feel sorry for any guy you date. You really need to be single, oh, and I think the guy you are hung up on should go find someone else to fall in love with who he can actually have a healthy relationship with,' that sure is saying his opinion and telling the truth….. But I don't think it's out of line for me to find that rude at best and sadistic at worst.

            If getting angry when someone uses harsh and cruel language to tell me I'm over a line is somehow not acceptable, then I guess maybe I *don't* want people to correct me. I don't really need to give people more reason to mistreat me.

          • Robjection

            You've got a point. It is possible to be honest with someone without having to be brutally honest with them, unless all non-brutal forms of honesty fail.

            This isn't to say that you need to sugarcoat things. It just means that you need to consider whether the harshness you've included in your opinions is really necessary.

          • You're right, Marty. I clearly didn't communicate in a way that was effective, and then I lost my temper about it. I hurt your feelings and I didn't mean to. I'm very sorry.

            I don't dislike you. Yes, I think you are making some unwise choices, but I have empathy for them because they are based on your past bad experiences. Even if I didn't, I also totally support your right to make choices that I think are unwise. Your life is your life and at the end of the day you're the one who has to live it! Finally, I only think those choices are unwise BECAUSE I like you and BECAUSE I want to see you succeed.

            I don't know if any of that helps, but I truly do wish you the best of luck.

          • I really appreciate the apology. I'd like us to be able to communicate in a way that made both of us feel good. I'll try harder not to seem like I am ignoring you or pushing your buttons. Sound good?

          • Yes!

            Let me tell you one specific thing I need from you. I sometimes need to say, "I can't continue this conversation right now." That is almost always because I'm really caught up in a conversation but something complicated is happening in my offline life. If I don't make a public commitment to not post in the thread anymore then I will procrastinate by posting instead of doing the thing I'm supposed to do. If this happens in a thread where we're talking, how can I make a public commitment not to post in a way that doesn't make you feel bad?

            (This doesn't happen often, but since I massively screwed this up last time, I want to make sure I know how to do it right just in case.)

        • Astral

          In terms of the mysterious better other: I've had exactly one relationship of about two months in person which was compatible on all levels. So I know what that kind of compatibility is like. In the meantime I've fallen for with equal intensity/and in several cases, dated other men. But in the cases where we were together for long enough, I discovered just how attraction-erasing having multiple incompatibilities is. As incompatibility knowledge adds up in a relationship, I'm also out in the world living, meeting new guys, many of whom appear to share and genuinely enjoy some my eclectic interests, or seem more open-minded sexually, or less stubbornly stuck, or whatever. So it's not as if I'm comparing the guys I'm dating to former "compatible guy" or I'm simply getting entranced by the new and shiny. I've actually never ended up with a guy I started crushing on while I was still dating someone else. But I know what makes me happy and what is possible through all these experiences. The other people simply provide some very focused perspective that underscores that the relationship I'm in at the time is not a good one for my long-term happiness.

        • zmd

          Well, often, the pattern in relationships is: Girl meets Boy, Girl and Boy, as this is their first meeting are on their best behaviors (whether consciously or not), and easily push things under the rug. Boy and Girl spend more time together, and as happens when you spend more time with someone, things that were slightly annoying before now grate on you a lot more. Little problems that you thought maybe would fix themselves didn't. Boy maybe starts wondering, are these things I don't like about Girl just molehills, or are they incompatibles? Maybe there is someone more compatible out there, not better, but just more inline with my needs.
          That insecurity of no longer being shiny, it's not just you. It's a fact of life. You will always become less shiny to someone. Everyone does. I promise you, Justin Timberlake became less shiny to Jessica Biel after they started dating, and she probably decided at some point "Okay, these annoying things are not enough to make me not want to be with you." Perhaps she said "Justin, I swear to god, you need to stop playing World of Warcraft all Saturday and help assemble this Ikea furniture we've had lying around for a month, or I am LEAVING!" and I guess he was like "FINE, Jessica, you're a nag, but there is a benefit to our relationship that outweighs that annoying feature." I'm sure when they had only been dating each other three weeks and Jessica complained about Justin's WoW habit, he was like "awww it's cute how she cares about me." Where was I? Oh yeah, everyone loses their shine.You have to decide whether you're willing to deal with their loss of shine.
          As for your shine, there is no magic way of being perfectly yourself while not getting on anyone's nerves. And people who look as if they accomplish that, are able to do so through lots of practice and communication. It's not a talent, it is a skill. That being said, people can be morons. I often tell people to be direct with me about when I'm messing up and they often don't do it. I think having time you cut out for "processing" problems helps, which people hate to do. Sometimes, if there's something I want to discuss or check in on, I will ask my boyfriend ahead of time to plan to discuss it, like "When you come over tuesday, I'd like to spend some time talking about our different habits when we go out, and how we can compromise on that."
          There are some things about you that people will just underestimate and later they will be dealbreakers and there's nothing you can do. I have an anxiety disorder, and while I'm upfront about it, many people just don't realize how it effects me or them until I start having an episode, sometimes months into a relationship. At that point, they either decide it's something they can work with, or something they can't have in their lives.

      • Joy

        "You know, I would love for everyone in my life to have little Sims people bars above their heads and I can see how what I do effects their annoyance and satisfaction factors."

        That would be so handy sometimes. "zmd thinks Joy is being sociable." Great, time to line up another Chat and Get to Know. "zmd thinks Joy is being boring." Hmm, apparently not so much with the Talk About Cats.

      • OtherRoooToo

        "Very rarely are people broken up with because there is a mysterious better other."

        *wry smile*

        I'm thinking you don't date in NYC.

        "You know, I would love for everyone in my life to have little Sims people bars above their heads and I can see how what I do effects their annoyance and satisfaction factors."

        If you get into your lab and get that done, I will be the first in line to buy one.

        Then we will go public.


        • kathrynmblair

          I am very interested to see this SIMS bar conversation, because I think it might result in me strangling more people. I can already tell when people want me to do what they want, not what I want, and I already get mad about it, and I can only manage by telling myself I can't actually read their mind and maybe they have reasons or whatever. If I could actually know what they were feeling, I would feel compelled to take more responsibility for it.

          Recently, a woman thought everyone in our choir should take a day off work to sing at the funeral of a long-time parishoner who had died. She had already committed to doing that, and made the choice on her own, and was saying something like "Well if I'm the only woman there it's going to be ridiculous! We should all do it." As far as I know, she isn't even very close to this parishioner (like, I don't think I had ever seen them talking). If she had a bar over her head saying "Woman disapproves of everyone else's choice to go to work instead of this funeral, given that the funeral is on a work day", I think I might have punched her.

          Maybe people would see my "Kathryn feels that you are rude and self-righteous" meter go up and would actually shut up. That would be nice. Or maybe I would just offend everyone.

    • Jenn

      Is the opposite really better? I mean do you really want someone who sees you as the only person who could ever love them and therefore will use things like threats and abuse to keep you from leaving? Someone who feels that if their relationship ends the world ends with it, and they'll try to take you down with them? Because that sounds horrible to me.

    • There's the whole gratitude part of abundance. They should value you for who you are. Yes there are others he could be with but he chose you. Thinking of who else you could be with is ungrateful and going back into the scarcity bit, and will eventually cause you to go full circle and believe in scarcity once again.

  • Jarenth

    Good article, Doc. That scarcity mentality thing is something I can recognize in a lot of my own behaviour, and trying to get that turned around — bit by bit — seems like a good personal accomplishment goal for the coming months. Thanks for the tutorial.

    I was going to make another comment here, but then you started talking about The One and The Many, and then I started thinking of Neverwinter Nights 2's One of Many, and the whole train of thought went to hell.

    Dating One of Many must be confusing as all hell. Would it still count as flaking if it showed up in a different personality than the one you originally asked out?

    • Jenn

      I'd be way more about the whole soul-eating aspect.

      • Jarenth

        I figure that's second-date material at the earliest.

  • Abundance mentality is not only realising
    "I don't need to hold on to a crappy relationship because I can find somebody better"
    but also
    "by staying in a crappy relationship I'm effectively preventing myself from finding somebody better".

    Also, isn't it much better to be wanted out of a sea of amazing potential partners, than to be desperately needed when the only other option is soul-crushing loneliness?
    [This also remind me of toxic masculinity – in a world where toxic masculinity is not wanted, such men are left trying to create a world where it is (seemingly) needed]

  • Mask

    This is a good article, but sometimes reality actually is closer to the scarcity mentality. Maybe it's geographic area, maybe it's issues of attraction, maybe it's unorthodox standards, or maybe it's a combination of factors, but abundance is unfortunately not everywhere for everyone.

    • Amen to that. I'm living in rural Pennsylvania, where single geek guys in their 40s are few and far between.

    • eselle28

      I live in the middle of nowhere, so I sometimes feel like this as well.

      What I find helpful is reminding myself that even though there are only so many people to choose from, there is choice involved. I could date someone if I wanted to – that might mean being open to dating a man in his early 20s or his early 50s or one with children or one who I didn't have much in common with, but there are opportunities and I've decided that those particular ones aren't very interesting to me. It's a small shift, but I think moving from, "There's no one to date!" to "There aren't all that many people I'm interested in dating." feels better and is more realistic.

      • OldBrownSquirrel

        "It's a small shift, but I think moving from, "There's no one to date!" to "There aren't all that many people I'm interested in dating." feels better and is more realistic."

        I know the feeling, but sometimes it feels a lot like sour grapes. It reminds me of times of the classic Groucho Marx quote, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member." Part of my consolation is the belief that there's almost no way it could work with someone who's still in the dating pool at my age; we're all just too damaged to be capable of maintaining relationships.

        • Joy

          Dude. I can't remember how old you've said you are, although I don't think it's as old as I was picturing based on your posts. But people are still single, or single again, for any number of perfectly good reasons, a large number of which have nothing to do with being "damaged." That's frankly a little offensive to a lot of people.

          Your issues are your issues. Don't project them onto an entire demographic.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'll confess that I have a tendency to project my ex's flaws onto the rest of her demographic. That's one reason I don't really think I'm ready to date yet.

            I come up with likely scenarios about why women my age might be single. Why do marriages fail? In many cases, there's somebody else, and when the affair wrecks the marriage, the cheating partner often ends up with the other man/woman, and the one who's left single is the one who was cheated on. What's it like to date someone under those circumstances? Well, she's likely to be a control freak, convinced that I'm cheating, because she's come to see this as expected behavior, but this time she's going to nip it in the bud. Sorry, I don't need that kind of abuse. There's also the question of why her ex started cheating in the first place. Is it simply that he was a philanderer? Or is it that she stopped having sex with him? Why would I sign up for that? Or perhaps he had a drinking problem, and now she's going to freak out every time I have a beer. Or perhaps she's the one with the drinking problem. I could go on.

            I think there's a tendency for people who are both good at relationships and interested in relationships to end up in relationships as time passes, and those who are left behind are disproportionately those who either aren't good at relationships or are simply uninterested. That's exacerbated by the fact that some failed relationships end up making the people who were in them even worse at relationships; people who learn from their mistakes and become better people because of them tend to end up in relationships. Perhaps that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but it's not necessarily going to make you a better partner. It's less of an issue when people are young and still in the process of finding compatible partners; by my age, though, with only the bottom less-than-30% remaining unmarried, it's unquestionably true, however offensive, that a significant proportion of the singles are people who in all seriousness shouldn't be in relationships. If you take a hundred people at random, ten or twenty of them will just make lousy partners, and their relationships simply won't last. That's most of my dating pool. I'll grant that at this point I'm probably one of those who would make a lousy partner.

          • isdzan

            Yeah, I have to agree. You would make a lousy partner at this point, but so do most people shortly after a bad divorce/break up. But most in your situation make it out the other side with baggage they can fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. You might end up the same if you can find the other side of your gloom and doom cycle.

          • Robjection

            In your first big paragraph, it seems like you are not considering the possibility that a marriage ended amicably with no party doing any wrong to the other(s), or the possibility that the marriage ended in hostility but without any cheating going on. These may or may not be the most common ways of a marriage ending, but they do happen.

            In your second big paragraph, you say that "people who learn from their mistakes and become better people because of them tend to end up in relationships." What's stopping you from learning from your mistakes and becoming a better person because of them? And then, if you end up in a relationship, your problem is solved, or if you don't, what's stopping someone else from going through that same process and also not ending up in a relationship?

            Honestly, I get the impression that you haven't thought things through as much as you think you have.

          • OtherRoooToo

            You, there. Yes, you. The one with the Logic Gun.

            Put that down. Do you have a permit for that thing? 😉

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            As I said, I'm coming up with likely scenarios. Even if every story is unique, I'm expect there are certain commonly recurring themes. By "I could go on" I'm explicitly recognizing that this is not an exhaustive list of reasons that a marriage might end. I'm not explicitly considering the possibilities you mentioned, but I'm hardly ruling them out.

            As I said in my post, I don't really think think I'm ready to date yet, and that's one thing that's unquestionably going to keep me from ending up in a relationship for the time being.

          • Remington

            I don't know if you truly believe what you write or if you're just afraid to outright ask for emotional support, but if I'm not mistaken you've made several rants about the futility of dating women your age, yet you seem uninterested in changing your beliefs despite other commenters making rational suggestions that you don't appear to have considered.

            You keep framing your problem as being stuck with women who because of their age must be broken or unworthy, so you need to realize that relationships don't really change as much with age as with with people and circumstances.

            A relationship between two middle-aged people isn't going to be that different from a younger counterpart, and even if we were to find a handful of differences, there'd still be an upside for every downside brought on by age.

            That said, I would gladly offer support and sympathy if that's what you were really looking for, because life sucks sometimes.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I'm not saying that women my age are worse because they're older; I'm saying that the dating pool at my age is largely depleted of people who are good at relationships because those people found their way into relationships and as such are no longer in the dating pool. The big problem isn't a decline in quality with age, but rather the separation between more capable partners, who tend to end up in relationships, and less capable partners, who tend to end up left in the dating pool. For younger demographics, that separation is less complete, which makes dating much easier. The other problem is one of quantity, not quality; the dating pool is, in absolute terms, far smaller when a significant majority is married than it was back when the overwhelming majority was single. The original topic, after all, was abundance vs. scarcity.

            There are also ways in which older singles can be poor partners for me, even if they're not "broken or unworthy." One reason for people to stay single for a long time is unrealistic standards. Consider a scenario in which some women are totally hung up on tall men. Many of those women may end up in relationships with tall men, but the fact remains that the number of women who are solely and exclusively interested in tall men often outstrips the number of available tall men, at which point many of these women simply aren't going to end up in relationships with tall men. If I'm not tall enough for them, they're not interested in me. It's not that they're broken or unworthy; rather, it's that they consider me unworthy, but that's an effective impediment to dating. Women who don't assign such weight to height are more likely to find someone who meets their standards, and at my age, they're likely to have done so already.

            There are also plenty of women who may no longer assign any weight to high school clique labels like "nerd" but who still maintain those same prejudices under different labels. For example, an engineer with a six-figure income, living independently, might be dismissed as a "man-child" solely because of an interest in comic books or video games or science fiction. There aren't many women who hold this attitude, but there are some, especially in older generations, and they're more likely to be single because of such attitudes. Again, it's not that these women are broken or unworthy but rather that they see men like me as unworthy, and women who aren't so judgmental have had a far easier time finding partners.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            You have a really low opinion of single people our age, don't you?

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Well, I think the most formidable barriers to my dating (aside from my not feeling ready) are that I already have kids and that I don't want more. There are plenty of single women my age who don't want to date men with kids, and I can respect that. There are plenty of single women my age who are willing to date men with kids but would prefer not to date men with kids as young as mine, and I can respect that. There are plenty of single women my age (OK, mostly a bit younger at this point) who want kids of their own, and I can respect that. Most women who are going to reject me have valid, inoffensive reasons, and I'm not going to dislike them because of those choices.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Honestly, that first reason (not feeling ready) is a really good one and it explains why our experiences with similar dating pools are so different. Just don't let the statistics handicap you when you are ready.

          • Remington

            I understand perfectly well what you meant, but my point is that you're making a statement that effectively says that an older women has a higher chance of being broken and unworthy, regardless of what theory you back that conclusion up with.

            What I'm trying to tell you is that you're being irrational. You seem to assume that there's a universal set of qualities that separate people into "marriageworthy" and "broken", but the truth is that what's wrong for one person may be a perfect match for the next, and that people hook up and break up across all ages for more reasons than you could imagine.

            People grow and change and are also much more varied than you seem willing to give them credit for, and everybody has different ideas of what constitutes as a relationship. Your job is to get out in the world and showcase your personality, so that someone who is similar to yourself will recognize a connection and become attracted to you.

            Since you seem to be so married to the idea that you have fewer options, why not also admit to yourself that having fewer options effectively means having fewer bad options? There weren't more GOOD people in your 20s. There were just more people, which have now been boiled down to a smaller number but with the exact same variation of personality types.

            And what about the upsides of being older? Older women know what they want, are starting to worry about growing old and therefore wants security and a stable partner, and are (according to some studies) peaking sexually. You're dating in a pool of people that work harder to be appealing and interesting than ever before. That's an advantage.

            It sounds to me like you're making excuses. Maybe you have problems that you're not ready to deal with, but if that's the case I think you'd do better to admit it. Nobody is going to look down on you for saying "I have problems that are keeping me from meeting women, but I don't have the energy and power to deal with it yet." If anything you'd get a pat on the back and some genuine empathy.

            It breaks my heart to think about you growing old alone when you clearly want a good partner, so I hope you manage to deal with your false beliefs. You seem like a nice person.

      • Mask

        Interesting, but how does that make it feel better? Is it because it gives you control in the situation?

        • eselle28

          Partly that, and also it's a reminder that I do have the option of deciding that having some sort of partner is preferable to the kind of partner I have in mind. It's one I choose not to take now because it seems unappealing, but there's a possibility I'll feel differently at some point in the future.

          • Mask

            Interesting, thank you.

    • LeeEsq

      Indeed. A lot of times both things could literally be true. A person can experience the abundance and scarcity mentality at different times of their lives for a variety of reasons both in and out of their control. Likewise, sex can be both an activity or a resource depending on the circumstances. Its not really either/or but which one is applicable at the time.

  • I definitely need to adjust my thinking.

    I've turned myself around in so many other areas – losing 70 pounds in the last 5 years, starting (and completing) writing projects, finding and purchasing a piece of land that I can stretch out on. But I'm still so pedantic when it comes to my love life. I put unneeded pressure on myself…beating myself up with negative thoughts over and over again ("I'm 30 and haven't had a date in years"…"I'm 30 and haven't had a girlfriend since high school"…"I went to an all male college and sabotaged myself by not meeting any girls when I had the chance"…"My friends are all married and starting their families").

    There's none of my (usually) consistent glass-half-full optimism in my romantic life – it's almost exclusively negative. It will take time to retrain my brain and get rid of that "every rejection and every break-up was one step closer to dying alone, unmourned and unloved" mentality. But the first step is resolving to make the change.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      You're 30, and no longer have to work around roommates / sneak behind parents to have sex in your own bed.

      You're 30, which is a nice round milestone for women who've gotten burned by immature dipshittery from dudes in their 20's and would like to try their luck with slightly older men.

      You're 30, and can afford dates that have nothing to do with ramen noodles. (I'm assuming, given that you're purchasing land for stretching out upon.)

      You're 30, and have spent a lot of time figuring out who you are and getting your shit together, both of which are appealing traits.

      You're 30, and can have a romantic life that does not need to work around your children.

      Good luck, man. You can do this. 🙂

      • eselle28

        Oh, man. While I completely appreciate the ode to being 30 and the general spirit of the advice, I have to say that it really makes me cringe that one of the incentives is being able to date 20-something women. There are some benefits to 30-year-old women as well.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          I left the age of the women undefined for exactly this reason. 🙂

          • eselle28

            Ah. I read "…slightly older men" as referring to the age difference between the woman and 30-year-old.

            Not that there's anything wrong with dating 20-somethings as as 30-year-old, but I think it also is worth noting that another benefit of being 30 is that you're seen as a reasonable partner for women who also have their shit together, can afford dates that have nothing to do with ramen noodles, and are less prone to immature dipshittery themselves.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Ah, I intended it as "slightly older than who they'd been dating." And yes, your phrasing is likely better.

        • Yeaaaaaaah. I was talking with a friend of mine at work a few weeks ago; she is 28, dating a guy about 34. Works for them, great; but she was horrified that my age range only goes up to 31ish (I am 28.) "If you ever want to get married, it has to be AT LEAST mid-30's!" she exclaimed.

          There's just something a little… icky about the idea that guys can fuss around in their 20's and then settle down with the nubile younger wives.

          • eselle28

            I think that 3 year age ranges might be a bit limiting for people past their college years, whether it's 3 years younger or 3 years older, but I'd agree that it's frustrating when men expect to only date women 8 or 10 years younger than they are, especially if they're extolling their stability and having it togetherness while dating someone who's in the same age range that they considered immature and too young for marriage when talking about themselves.

          • isdzan

            Yeah. 3 years makes sense at younger ages, but less after 25 or so. After that age you start finding yourself friends with a huge age range of people because you meet them after you are out in the real world vs school. My social pool of non relatives ranges from 22 to 64.

            For what it is worth, the BF and I are 6ish years apart. 28 and 34 almost 35.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            FWIW, my instability and immaturity when I was the same age as my now-fiancee had little to do with my age and a whole lot more to do with the untreated mental illness I was rocking. (Not that I think your comment was aimed at me, but it did whiz by a bit close. So I guess we're even? 😉 )

          • nonA

            You don't get it both ways. If you want your pick of partners, put in the work. Including but by no means limited to doing your share of the approaching and risking your fair share of the rejection. If you want to just hang back and accept what comes your way, you're not really in a position to complain when it's not to your liking.

            If a guy wants to exclusively chase girls ten years his junior, more power to him. If he's actually in a position to attract them, good for them both. If not, someone with unrealistic expectations fails to have them met. It's not really worth getting fired up over.

      • Thanks, man! I really needed to hear this – and I probably need to hear it more going forward.

        Not to set the bar too low, but I just want to have a date of any kind. Too often I've fallen prey to the negative thought of spending eternity alone (as Doctor Nerdlove includes in this article) because I've never had success with women. Feeling better about myself is the first step, I'm sure about that.

        And to clarify, I can do something more elaborate than ramen noodles and a movie, but the process of buying a house and renovating it does put a serious crunch on the wallet. I'm living a little better than when I was paying off my college debt.

        Thank you again though – it's been hard for me to take a compliment or advice in the past. I know I need that kind of moral support from someplace.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          "Not to set the bar too low, but I just want to have a date of any kind."

          Once you get that out of your system, I recommend moving on to "Date with a woman whose company I enjoy" at your earliest convenience.

          Standards. We're allowed to have them. It's actually better if we do. I promise. 😉

      • LeeEsq

        What if you wanted the thrill of the work around or sneak behind? Its not that great at the time but it does make for a good memory and amusing story latter.

        • eselle28

          Then you grieve for not having had that and move on toward finding the rest of what you might want. Or you can get your own roommates, date someone who has them, or go visit either of your parents – there's still some times when adults need to sneak a bit.

          There's also the option of continuing to be upset that you didn't date in high school, but as I think you've seen, that doesn't tend to do anything to remedy the situation.

        • Meyer N Gaines

          It's fking overrated. Trust me, sneaking around your parents in sex or drug-related matters might seem cool or badass at first, but it gets boring. When I was dating the Horrible Woman in high school, we only had her car to do shit in, and it was cramped and uncomfortable as hell.

          Nowadays, most of my sneaking around revolves around my drug dealing friends. Because Indian parents are known for their complete disregard for privacy, they've had to develop some interesting workarounds to move the drugs. No direct exchange of drugs or money. Instead, they leave the stuff in hidden "dead drop" locations that are only visited at night. And yeah, going on their drug dealing runs seemed like cool FBI shit at first, but it got pretty boring and pedestrian after a few times too.

        • Then you deal with the extremely minor disappointment of not having had crappy teenage sex. I mean, what other option is there? I'm disappointed that I never got to have lunch with Kurt Vonnegut, which would be way better than crappy teenage sex, but all I can do is suck it up.

          Also, your concept of how sex and relationships work for young people does not seem to be based on any lived reality.

      • LeeEsq

        What if your also worried about mismatched goals. I'm just looking for my first non-toxic girlfriend and a lot of people with more relationship experience at my age might be looking for something beyond what I want.

        • FormerlyShyGuy

          This question has been addressed for you many times, you find out those differences about a potential date and if they are deal-breakers you don't date them. If they are more minor you try and communicate and compromise.

      • Niteynite

        As someone who is 29 and views that 30 year old birthday like a ticking time bomb, reading this makes me feel a whole lot better. Thank you sir.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          Dude, comparing what my sex/romantic life was like before 30 vs. after 30 … I'll be discreet and concise, and just say "It got better."

          • MCSpanner

            4 years and 2 months to go!

        • kitten420

          I’ve been a lurker here for years but never said anything. I don’t know why I feel the need to respond to this, but I feel exactly the same. I’ll be 30 in 3 monthsand I feel like that means I’ll be old and my boyfriend might ynot want me and boys in general might not want me(I’m poly, and my primary is in Portland but I have 2 very minorrelationships, one with a man, one with a girl)my primary is the only one I’m truly in love with and I’m working on moving to Portland to be with him. He got a really important job l there and was unemployed here so l had to go. He has family there, but I’m so worried that once I get there he’ll have found new primary partner or even completely not want me anymore. I keep hearing things like for women 30 is hitting the wall and I’m nervous. There are a lot of intelligent, sensible people here I’ve watched for lmonths. does anyone have any advice or even reassurance for my problem, even someone saying I’m just being silly would help a bit(by the way, he invited me, he said he’d be happy for me to follow him. We’ve been together almost 4 years. I’m not just jumpingto Portland randomly hoping he’ll be pleased)good idea? Bad idea? If anyone has comments I’d llike to hear them. Thanks for all the entertainment while I was lurking.

          • kitten420

            that should have read he was unemployed so he had to go I’m still here in New York City

          • Has he talked to you at all about the practical ramifications of you following him? For example, apartments, work, friends, etc.? If he has, then I think you shouldn't worry about following him; talking pragmatics is a clear signal that he means what he says. You should be mindful of sustaining your relationship long-distance in the meantime, and the sooner you can get a clear date on when you're moving the better, but I don't think you'll arrive only to find he's moved on. If you haven't discussed pragmatics, it doesn't mean he doesn't want you to come, but I would definitely talk pragmatics as soon as possible (e.g. will you live together?) and pay close attention to whether he reacts with enthusiasm or ambivalence.

            As far as turning thirty – I am a woman in my thirties who just moved out of NYC and most of my friends have love lives that have only gotten better post-thirty. I get the fear (believe me!) but in large urban areas, at least, it's not the reality.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            What's he told you? How committed is he to this relationship? How much do you trust him?

            If he's acting and talking like he reciprocates your feelings and he's in this for the long haul, you're probably being silly. If he's acting like your relationship was just a convenience thing that he'd be happy to pick back up should it become convenient again … gotta ask why you'd move across the country for that.

            What does he say when you discuss this with him?

            And guys who treat "Not in her 20's" as some kind of dealbreaker aren't the guys you want to be dating in the first place. 🙂 Don't let it drain your confidence, and you'll be fine.

  • zmd

    I love the line about "comparing your unedited footage to other people’s highlight reel." It is so hard being in your late 20s and watching seemingly everyone settle into marriages, careers, and buying houses, especially in the midst of break up. When I'm going through a breakup, or even just a bad day, I listen to This American Life's episode on break ups (and occasionally the Three of Us song contest winners). In the very beginning, Ira Glass is talking to a woman who is going through a break up and she says "breaking up is the most cliche thing. Everyone you know has broken up with everyone they've ever been with except the person they're with now, and chances are good they'll break up too, but it still feels so unique to you." There's something about that thought that I like. Everyone in the world has managed to get past exactly this, and so can you, even if it takes a really long painful time.

    • thepaleking71

      I fell into the same trap in my late 20s, and it caused me to spiral into the worst depression of my entire life (and I've had some seriously bad episodes of depression). After a couple of drinks off my birthday bottle of JWB, to celebrate my 30th this year, I had an epiphany that changed my life: the whole time I've been a square peg trying to ram myself into a round hole, so no wonder I didn't have a marriage or a house or any of that stuff: I'm just not made for it. And you know what, that's okay. I feel like alot of people who think they're in a period of arrested development in their late twenties don't know themselves very well, and could use some mindfulness practice (or some good Scotch). Being mindful made me realize that the things I coveted of other people were things that I had no use for or even didn't really want.

  • MCSpanner

    What if you don't even have a highlight reel to compare to theirs?

    • enail0_o

      Okay, so what would it take for you to start a short highlight reel? What sort of things do you envision being on it? What areas are you currently most proud of in your life that you could mine for highlights?

      • MCSpanner

        Escaping dating square 1, regardless of the amount of time, would probably be a highlight. The dating highlight reel has been recorded over with a couple of Boardwalk Empire episodes.

        I moonwalked once, does that count?

  • LeeEsq

    I've been on enough dates to know that there always women who are willing to go out with me at least once out there but at the same time I'm really having trouble cultivating what could be called a proper abundance mentality because I haven't progressed beyond a first date. My abundance of first dates is complimented by scarcity of anything else romantically and I guess this gives me a half and half mentality. I know I can always get another first date with somebody else but still see second dates or anything else as a scarce resource.

    What I guess I'm saying is that people are shaped by their experiences and cultivating the proper mentality is extraordinary difficult when it goes against your experience. A person who can not get a first date is going to view potential partners as a limited resource rather than something that could easily be achieved. I stopped treating first dates as a limited resource after I got a lot of first dates not because of a change in mentality. Likewise, a person who is a walking love and sex god or goddess will find the abundance mentality quite natural.

    • Falcon

      I don't see how the above comment deserves a score of -5. I think it's good to understand how these feelings come about – sure, the insight alone won't help you overcome your issues, and may not even be necessary, but it can help you realise that you're basing your view of the future on simple extrapolations rather than absolute truths.

      I am in the "hasn't had a first date" category myself and I'm trying to break out of the thought pattern which assumes that my past experiences will be replicated forever on my timeline. Is it easy? Hell no! Am I making any progress? Maybe a little.

      Note that LeeEsq wrote "extraordinarily difficult" – not "impossible".

      • FormerlyShyGuy

        You could be right that the comment is being reviewed overly critically, but just like a good song can be over played this sentient coming from this person is become increasingly over played here. There is a noted aversion to change that Lee has expressed which makes him in particular posting this unpopular.

      • LeeEsq

        Its getting negatives because it doesn't fit within the orthodoxy of the site.

        • TheWanderingDude

          No, it got my negative because you repeat the same damn thing on every single post.
          And if we engage you i'm 100% convinced we will get the same old arguments as before and it will lead to nowhere as always.
          Going in circle is only fun until it makes you sick.

          • OtherRoooToo

            "Going in circle is only fun until it makes you sick."

            *steals phrase*
            *runs off with it like Carmen Sandiego*

          • Guest

            You are adorable!

          • Jes

            Not only does he repeat the same damn thing on every post, but then goes on to dismiss any advice offered to him. And then whines some more. Eventually the majority of the comment thread revolves around his misery and perceived victim status, all while dismissing any attempts to help him.

            It gets old.

        • Guest

          Wow really? Really? After all the comments to you in all the threads on all the posts here, the only possible conclusion you can draw is that you are a rebellious person who doesn't go with the majority and THAT's why people are downvoting you? It's actually really rather helpful to read this reply. I'd always thought you were just in a headspace that made you not ready to try anything new. Now it's clear you don't think you are doing anything wrong in the first place however.

          I don't know why anyone here bothers to give you any advice whatsoever. You are so clearly not paying any attention to what others are telling you.

          For the record the downvoting is happening for precisely the reason FormerlyShyGuy says. You have nothing new to offer, you listen to no one's advice, you do nothing differently. WHY ARE YOU HERE?

        • Phoenix

          More because you're either a drama king who wants a pity party and we're fucking sick of it . . . or you're a stupid dog that keeps chasing his own damn tail no matter how many times we have told you that you will never catch it.

          Either way, start contributing something different and maybe you *gasp* WON'T get downvote.

    • OtherRoooToo

      " I'm really having trouble cultivating what could be called a proper abundance mentality because I haven't progressed beyond a first date. "

      I can't help but wonder at least once why, at that point, you don't sit for a minute and ask yourself "If I keep getting the same result at this point, what could *I* do differently to see if I could get a different result?'"

      FormerlyShyGuy and Guest seem to have covered that ground pretty well already, though.

  • LeeEsq

    I am going to offer a limited defense of "comparing your unedited footage to other people's highlight reel." Its true that we never really see the entire story and that the happy couple making out on the park bench might be miserable when they are alone together. However, properly directed envy if kept under controllable levels can be a great motivator for personal change. If you compare yourself to others at the right amount than it could act as a necessary initiator.

    There is also nothing wrong about feeling a bit melancholy about missing out on certain things that you wanted but can't experience because you started your love and sex life latter than others.

    • eselle28

      I don't really agree with the envy point. While it can be a motivator, people I know who draw on that heavily for motivation tend to be overly focused on what other people have and more generally on what they think they should want, which can distract from focusing on individual needs and goals. We already have to deal with a lot of social messages telling us what sort of relationships we want and what sort of people we should want to have them with, without any nuance to adjust for people's individual quirks and needs. Your friend's wonderful relationship might very well make you miserable if you magically swapped bodies. Looking at highlight reels only enhances that, because you see the strengths of their partners and relationships but not the fault lines.

      As for being said, yes, I would agree that it's normal and expected for people to occasionally be unhappy about things in their lives that they would like to have and do not.

    • thepaleking71

      I agree with eselle28. Fear, shame, and envy are powerful motivators, but they will only take you so far. Being mindful and positive is what takes you all the way to your goals. Being envious of others is especially dangerous, because that envy might make you go down a path that ultimately won't make you very happy. Everyone has to figure out what they want out of life on their own; unfortunately, few too people actually do.

      • I started my career in science and engineering because I was envious of the smart kids, it's taken me good places so far (I'm only finishing undergrad so I'll how happy grad school makes me).

        ' that envy might make you go down a path that ultimately won't make you very happy'

        This statement is so generalized and vague that it's useless.

        I agree with Lee, if you already have anger, bitterness, and jealousy, you don't have to delude yourself into a deluded mindset that's positive about everything. Keep them, but use them correctly to motivate you to go to places you want to go to.

        • thepaleking71

          Chucky, it's not about deluding yourself to be positive, it's about choosing to evaluate something from a different perspective. Also, it's good that you found a path you've taken as a result of envy, but I would speculate you're in the minority when it comes to that motivator. For example, if you asked him what one thing he would want to do more than anything else in the world, my brother would tell you he would be a professional chef. But my family grew up poor, so he went into economics and eventually got his MBA from Harvard. He clears a quarter of a million dollars a year, but he works like a dog and isn't very happy with his life. Is that specific enough for you? I hope I've proved myself useful.

          No offense, man. but that kind of harness your negative feelings stuff is the domain of angry young men. It doesn't really work when you get older because bitter, angry people are a chore to be around in a professional situation.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Again, its not about delusion, its about framing things in a way that maximizes your options and yes, looking at it in a better light. Why? Because karma isn't some magical force that strikes from nowhere. Its the logical result of your actions. So if everything you do is based on anger and envy, you're an angry, envious person. You can aim that at positive results all you want. You're right, its not something you can just switch off. You can learn to overcome it or not but people are going to respond to someone motivated by higher ideals vs someone motivated by envy very differently.

            Honestly, this is the primary difference between people following Doc's dating advice and straw-PUA's. The difference in motivation between guys who feel bitter and entitled vs guys who have a more positive approach is visible, it does effect the kind of women you're going to get to spend time with. Its the difference between "what techniques will make her do what I want" and "how do we do something cool together".

          • thepaleking71

            I'm always happy that you've got my back, Gentleman Johnny.

          • Fallacy of the excluded middle. Also using the word techniques makes it seem like you're grasping at straws for a scare tactic.

        • isdzan

          Envy, bitterness, jealousy, greed, anger, etc. can take you places, but only so far. I do agree that applied narrowly (as you did with your degree) negative motivators can be useful, but it is easy to lose control of them if they are your primary or only motivation. Especially because there will always be people that have something you don't or have something better. It can turn into a perpetual motion machine where someone is always dissatisfied and unhappy.

          Your degree is a great example of a good use of envy/jealousy. You used it to motivate you to enter and complete your program. It worked because you didn't get hung up on needing to be the smartest, you just wanted to be one of the smart ones.

          • Christine

            Well put. I've found that examining feelings of envy, anger, etc. can help me sort out my own motivations, and very often it comes down to me being mad at myself for not pursuing or focusing on my own goals. And that can be helpful as a centering process. Continuing to focus on other people won't help much in my experience.

          • I just want to amplify something isdzan said here, because it's super smart.

            There's a huge difference between using negative feelings to motivate you to reach an internally defined standard, and using them to motivate you to outperform other people. The former can actually be productive for most people, as long as you pick the right kind of task to apply them to, and you limit your negative feelings to the task at hand rather than generalizing them. The latter tends to cause your negative feelings to spill onto the people you're using to motivate yourself, and can easily land you in a worse situation.

          • I so no necessary harm to the desire to match or outperform other people. That was one of my motivators too. It can lead to bitter feelings that are best kept private coming out in the real world and ruining relationships, but it doesn't have to be outcome. Can easily =/= will be so.

          • Hence why I said "tends" and "can." I'm just not sure you're actually the counterexample you seem to believe you are.

          • That's kind of like me saying I'm just not sure you're actually the genius you seem to believe you are, no?

            People say feelings of bitterness, anger, and jealousy will spill into your life and ruin your relationships.

            No relationships ruined yet on my end.

            Pretty close to a counter example, afaik.

          • Fair enough. Like you, I only have the evidence of how you behave on these forums. You often come across as nasty and bitter, but you're right – for all I know you are very different in person, and even if you aren't it might have nothing to do with your approach to competition.

    • Jes

      Oh, here we go again….

  • Meyer N Gaines

    Yeah, uh, it really seems like the "20% of the guys get 80% of the girls" thing is kind of true, at least in my experience. From going out with guy friends, I can already see a large difference between guys who "pull" and guys who don't. I mean, most guys I know are almost as romantically hopeless as I am, but there are a couple who are buff, wealthy, tall, charismatic, and have their shit together. These are the guys I know who have attractive girlfriends/fuck buddies, and who can score one-night-stands at clubs.

    I mean, at first I thought it was just because these friends were Indian, and our degenerate culture strongly encourages sexual segregation, leading to a state of affairs where young men have no idea how to interact with, let alone seduce women. But I noticed this even among my white friends: it looks like there are a few guys who get laid a lot, and guys who struggle to get laid at all.

    • eselle28

      Are your friends hitting on 80% of the women, though? You mention their girlfriends and FBs are attractive, and the women they're hitting on in clubs are a somewhat narrow group just by virtue of their being at clubs. Are your friends also dating and sleeping with less attractive women, homebodies who are at home on Friday nights, and all the other sorts of women out there?

      In a lot of these cases, it seems to me like the reality is closer to 20% of the guys pairing up with 20% of the women, while there are lots of other people who are clueless and many more who are in long term relationships with ordinary-looking people.

      • Meyer N Gaines

        Point taken. Yeah, these "20%" guys score women either through social circle, clubs, or bribing them with illicit drugs.

        • Meyer N Gaines

          Let's not get into the ethics of the last one though, I personally see it as prostitution at best, extortion at worst.

    • Really? When you go out and look at people on the street, you see one guy with a harem of seven or eight women trailing obediently behind him, and then a bunch of sad single guys? Because I mostly see couples.

      • Me and my co-ladies have more of a time-share arrangement. I get our guy between 6am and 10am on weekdays, and 2pm to 4pm on weekends. They're pretty nice about swapping around when I need to change my schedule, though.

        • Joy

          Personally, I prefer the large group dates, because you're more likely to find someone who's brought Shout wipes if a hot wing gets dropped on your shirt. It does get harder to fit in restaurant booths, though.

    • assman

      I went out last night and made two approaches both of which failed. Today I have spent time thinking about my oneitis, how hard it is to get women etc and how I never get what I want.

      Last week I made one approach and was making out by the end of the night. That week I was thinking about all the various possible women I could go after, how easy it was, what a fantastic time I would have and I spent little time on my oneitis.

      Its all in your head.

  • OldBrownSquirrel

    According to 2010 census data, in excess of 70% of women my age are married. I'm not arguing that the 20-80 argument holds any water, but that's still a significant majority of women with whom I have effectively no chance. The remaining 30% or so also includes women with boyfriends, lesbians (remember, most gay marriage is since 2010), asexuals, etc. Women who are both single and interested in relationships with men are likely a fairly small fraction of that 30%. Efforts to "go out and meet people in real life" mostly result in meeting women who are either nowhere near my age or married. I was in a meeting recently; of the five or so women in the room, the only one not wearing a ring was my ex. It simply cannot honestly be said that there's an abundance of single women my age. Granted, an abundance mentality is perfectly reasonable for men in their twenties or so (who are admittedly the major target audience of this blog), but there come a point in life when it no longer holds at all.

    • isdzan

      If 70% of women are married in your age group then aren't 70ish% of men also married? So it isn't all men chasing 30% of women. It is approximately 30% of men chasing 30% of women, so roughly identical numbers since gender ratios at your age are close to 1:1.

      • OldBrownSquirrel

        A big part of the problem is the sheer difficulty in meeting people my age who are single, especially through real-life activities. Granted, men are as scarce for them as women are for me, but that doesn't really help much when it comes to meeting people. I checked my several hundred facebook friends a while back; the only single mothers I know are two women with boyfriends, my ex, and my mom.

        • isdzan

          The big part of the problem is you are not in the headspace to date right now. Demographics are not the pain problem.

          Most married people are friends with other couples. You were recently married and have probably not made a ton of new single friends of any gender. How many of your male FB friends are single?

          People I know are mostly unmarried (some bf/GF) not due to age but to lifestyle (the age range is 22-64 for who I hang out with). Having a child will make that harder for you depending on custody arrangement/availability of child care, but it won't make it impossible. Some of the folks I socialize with are parents with kids under 5.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I was married for ten years, but I started dating my now-ex shortly after relocating for a job, so I didn't have much of a chance to make local friends before the marriage took over my life, and many of the friends I had in those days have since moved away.

            I know lots of single guys through FB, though many of those are young. I know four single fathers who, if they're in relationships, haven't shared that with FB. That's still a pretty small number.

            I think a huge part of my problem is occupational gender segregation. I'm a software engineer, and I know very few women through work. Along similar lines, I'm sure there are plenty of women teaching in elementary schools, for example, who don't know very many men through work.

            Realistically, one of my better options will be to go onto facebook and ask my friends to set me up with people they know, but I'm reserving that for a time when I'm in a better headspace.

          • isdzan

            One thing you might want to focus on now is making friends/acquaintances of any gender. You are pretty socially isolated from other single people your age. Not sure where you are located, but around me there are solid number of single parent meetup groups, so that might be something worth checking out. Remember, this isn't to find dates, this is to develop a social network of people that only know the divorced you. Also maybe look at some interest groups outside single parents to meet new friends/acquaintances.

            Baby steps. You are in the process of rebuilding a life as a divorced person. Dating might need to wait for a time.

  • velveeta

    Hey, as a person who has been a 30/40-something single parent in the married suburbs, I can relate to so many of your issues. So I want to pass along a fact that my therapist reminded me of over and over:

    People are coming in and out of relationships all the time.

    This fact really helped me hold onto my optimism and become a lot less attached to the scarcity mentality I had going. I mean, "scarcity" doesn't even start to describe how it felt at times. "Barren Wasteland" comes closer.

    But my therapist had a point. People are coming in and out of relationships frequently. Granted, they will not all be interesting to you or the reverse, but eventually, there will be someone pretty great. Believe it!

  • John

    It annoys me when girls say they like nerds but only date muscular nerds

    • *Looks at the nerdy guys she has dated* *Laughs hysterically*

      I'm not gonna say the guys I've dated haven't been attractive (obviously they are attractive to me, which is why I dated em) but muscular? Where in the world are you getting your data?

      • M Dubz

        yussss… skinny femmey nerd boys FOREVER!

    • It sounds like you are talking about a specific person. Do you have a story you want to share?

  • trixnix

    I think an abundance mentality is difficult to create. I like certain ideas in it like not being needy, overly invested etc but it's been thirteen years since my last relationship that didn't end in some mad nonsense and I find it hard to reconcile that with the idea that there are lots of women out there who would like to date me. I'm not a good looking guy and, whilst looks are not everything, you do need to be physically attracted to someone you date/go out with etc and try as I might I keep coming back to the thinking that my looks hold me back in dating in a big way.

    There are some things that can be done. But the whole "learn to be better with women" and "anything the naturally gifted can do, I can do too" stuff is a set of ideas that I don't see playing out in the real world. Naturally gifted people tend to have good looks and other things that benefit them. That doesn't mean they don't face their own set of challenges and problems with confidence. I can't work out why my good looking friend can't see that, unlike me, he can create instant attraction when he meets a woman. I fall down at the physical attraction stage and because that's the important bit I end up as the friend rather than the lover and there's really not much I can do about that.

    It's heartbreaking in a lot of ways because I am getting a bit fed up of it. My sister is all loved up and it'd be kinda nice to have someone in my life in a dating capacity even though I am repairing and healing from various things and need to be careful. I have not seen this abundance of women that I can date and yes, when I do meet someone who seems interested it is a rare thing and maybe I get too attached. What happened with the last person I was in love with doesn't help matters either.

    I don't know. It's all a bit of a mix really. You do your best to be positive but it gets challenging.

    • MCSpanner

      I kinda get what you mean, at the moment the idea of an abundance of women is laughable to me. I recently signed up for a dating site just to see the sort of people around in my area and I couldn't imagine *any* of them being even remotely available for someone like me.

  • rammspieler

    LOL Abundance Mentality.

    I ended up talking with my "Now Oneitis But Once Upon A Time Not Oneitis But Whom I'm Desperately Trying To Get Over Now Despite The Dreams I Have Of Her" a few nights ago. I asked her what she ever saw in me that made her like me back when she did. Yeah it was nice to hear about qualities that you barely acknowledge that you have yourself unless someone else tells you about them. But considering that they are all "internal qualities" vs. "external qualities, and therefore would be hard to display to any potential mates, I think it would be safe to consider that even if I adopted magial thinking bullshit like this, I don't think a lot of girls and women would be willing to go out with an "intelligent man whom shares a lot of my same interests and with a unique sense of humor" if said man has been told to his face many times before that he "looks like a serial killer" at worse and "average" at best. She also said that I could find better women than her out there. I told her that perhaps I was still looking at things through a pink lens, but despite all of her faults, I doubt that any woman could be better than Oneitis and I wish those women luck in trying to best Oneitis in my heart and soul.

    • Gentleman Johnny

      I don't think a lot of girls and women would be willing to go out with an

      Well there's yer problem.

      doubt that any woman could be better than Oneitis and I wish those women luck in trying to best Oneitis in my heart and soul.

      My mistake, there it is.

      • rammspieler

        Well when your oneitis comes pretty damn close to what you're looking for in your "soul mate", I would say that it could be difficult to top all that. Yes, she may have her problems. But I doubt that having a lack of those problems makes any person automatically a "better" candidate.

        • And yet, Oneitis doesn't want to date you. She isn't your soul mate.
          A person who is romantically interested in you is a "better" candidate for a romantic relationship.
          But yeah, you need to figure out a way that works for you to get over your oneitis. Because dating people you're constantly comparing to My Soulmate Who is Perfection in Female Form is not going to end well.

          • rammspieler

            I never said she was my Soul Mate. I said that she was pretty damn close. She's not even "perfect", but it was her imperfections that made her unique as a person, as much as they hurt her and me as well.

            Anyway, as for dating and comparing people to oneitis, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I first have to figure out how to even get a date. It's hard to remind yourself that there are other people if you don't even know where to find them and ask them out. Or if they even exist in my area. Like I said. I wish whatever woman whom would even consider me desirable a lot of luck.

    • Johmichaels

      "said man has been told to his face many times before that he "looks like a serial killer"

      Is it wrong that the first thought that came to my mind is "Which serial killer"?

      Because if we're talking Ted Bundy, that's a completely different situation than say Jeffrey Dahmer.

      • rammspieler

        Nobody goes into specifics. They just said that I looked like a serial killer. Although one time, I was compared to Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

        • hobbesian

          Watch 'Adventures in Babysitting" The Automechanic in that that looks like Thor? Same guy. Filmed both those movies in the same year. He lost all the weight from Private Pyle, put on all the muscle in order to play Not-Thor.. in the same.. freaking… year.. D'Nofrio is hardcore.

  • kittenhasawhip

    Hrm. I like the sentiment of this article, and I think it would be helpful for people who are just starting to date. But I do not think it is helpful to people who have been in long-term relationships and are about to break up.

    Every relationship has its quirks because we built them with different people at different times in our lives. Prior relationships will inevitably affect how the next relationship forms (due to the lessons we have learned). So for me, every relationship is unique – has its own dynamic, it's own friction. With that in mind, you can understand why saying "well…there are other relationships to be had" isn't really comforting. Yes, there remains a possibility that a different relationship will satisfy me. But it will not be the same as the relationship I'm giving up. I *will* be losing something scarce. And that's the scary thing, right? Losing a dynamic *you've built over time that is incredibly unique.*

    I think this is slightly different from what the author is saying, which concerns how we value people, not necessarily our relationships, as scarce. I can agree with him to that end.

    • username_6916

      If anything, applying the "abundance mentality" to that can be downright insulting. Imagine telling a new widow or widower that "It's okay, you can find someone else!".

  • evenbiggerspoon

    I'm female but I have noticed myself that I do not find the vast majority of men attractive and realising this makes me vulnerable when I finally after years do find someone attractive I have tried to notice the people around me over the last year. I'm pleased to see your article advises the same.

    However….the results of this experiment have simply confirmed to me that I do not find 99% of men physically attractive. There are plenty of men I like as people but they're not really my type; then there are the occasional men who I find attractive – very occasional – and it seems to be that each time I can recognise quickly they are too old/too young/acting like a dickhead. I'm trying not to see the world through a negative filter, but I really can't see another side to this. I really like the men I know, I just don't want to have sex with them as I don't see them that way.

    Is it enough to protect me if I am simply seeing rejection as an opportunity to meet someone more attuned to me? I feel like I've already got to that point and already feel that way, as to be honest I'm just not interested in dating someone who I don't think would make a long-term partner/father to potential children nowadays, it seems like a waste of my time now that I'm older. I have fallen into the trap before of seeing a sudden change in interest from people as evidence I have done something to 'turn them against me' rather than realising that if they are going to be so intense and hot/cold then they're just not someone I will enjoy being around. But nowadays that is reversed and I realise that I rarely do anything that would – imo – put anyone off (or put me off, if you like), so I trust that their behaviour has nothing to do with me at all.

    I still don't have an abundance mentality, though, I just feel I would rather be alone than with someone who isn't right for me.