Why We Pick the Wrong Men When Dating

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I’m going on vacation and haven’t packed a thing. So I’m re-posting this popular article about keeping an open mind and being realistic when you date. If I didn’t follow this advice five years ago, I’d be where you are: reading someone else’s blog to learn how to find a good guy. Happy reading. Let me know what you think.
A common theme among women is why so many of us fall for The Wrong Guy. Wrong comes in many forms: he treats you like crap, he won’t make a commitment, he refuses to make shifts or adjustments; or he just doesn’t have the qualities you’re looking for in a lifetime mate. Yet even in our 40s, 50s, and even 60s, we can pick these guys…and then stick to them like glue.

I blame chemistry. Yup. That’s what attracts us, and reels us in. We tend to take it very seriously. So seriously that it often trumps all other data. It’s like once you decide he’s hot and possibly The One, all contrary evidence is invisible or seems irrelevant. Out the window it goes.

Look: if you want to just have sex, go for the hot men. But if you want to be adored, challenged, trusted, loved, and humored…learn how to think past that superficiality to find the real good guys. Sure…you want to be attracted to him. But  to make the good choices you have to find out what’s past their looks and get past the idea that you have to feel all giddy when you meet him.

I know we all love George Clooney – who doesn’t? But what other celebrity men float your boat? I sometimes ask that question when I start helping a new fabulous woman learn how to better enjoy her dating experience. I ask because it helps me understand her “type.” (At least the type she thinks she wants when we first begin coaching.)

So I asked Stephanie that question. Her answer: Kevin James and Jon Stewart. She loves these guys and thinks they’re hot!

Fast forward a couple weeks and we’re working on helping her be open to new types of men; at least giving them a chance. She tends to judge quite quickly when she meets someone new. (Do you?) That tells me it’s mostly a judgment on physical attributes. You may call it chemistry, I call it looks.

So then it occurs to me: Kevin James and John Stewart are the answer! Let’s face it; those guys couldn’t even shine George’s shoes in the looks department.

So I ask: If Kevin James approached you in the grocery store and tried to strike up a conversation, would you be open and encouraging or would you stay focused on picking your apples?

We all know the answer: Wow! Look at those luscious apples!!

It would go something like this: he speaks a few words to you – he’s obviously trying to connect; you decide “you’re not attracted” to him; you continue to bag your apples; he shrugs and away he goes. (Feeling crappy by the way, thank you very much.) You’ve just lost the chance of a lifetime girlfriend. The man you’ve been dreaming of is gone forever.

I’m quite sure that things like humor, integrity, and intelligence are in the list of character traits you’re looking for in a mate. (If you haven’t created or updated your list lately, I highly recommend it.) Now seriously…you’re going to know in a span of a few minutes if a man has those traits…how?

I get that attraction is very important. But it can and does grow as you get to know people. It’s just a fact. So next time you’ve got that man in front of you (or his picture) and you’ve decided you’re not attracted…can you puleeeeze just stop and reconsider?

Stay open, be kind and compassionate…and get a glimpse of his personality and character. Be a grown-up. If you do, maybe you’ll just meet your Kevin James.

A couple p.s.’s:

1. I didn’t have much interest in my husband’s appearance when I saw him on match.com. (Sorry honey.) And he said his fave pastime was sailing. I puke on boats. I only met him because he lived in my neighborhood  and it was easy. I assure you he’s the most gorgeous man alive. And that Dramamine works.

2. Here’s a good article about how women judge humor in men. It does trump looks if you give it a chance.


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  1. dave says

    Great post! I wish that more women could have your attitude. Your outlook alone would make a conversation with you on any subject terrific. I hope that women will read and heed your comments.

  2. Sandra says

    OK. So he’s scared and she’s scared. What are the new “rules” to opening up and trying someone out? It’s hard to “read” the signs once you’ve been out of the dating scene for a long time (married..divorced..dating again!)

    • says

      Hi Sandra. I know it seems complicated and, yes, it really can be scary. But here is the truth: it’s only as complicated as you make it. If you look at it this way it may help: you are two adult people meeting. Each of you are probably a little nervous, unsure of “how this thing works” and hopeful that this will be your last date. There really are no tricks and no rules…except maybe just to be as real and honest as you can be without putting it all out there at once. Dating at this time in your life doesn’t have to be how it was when you were 18. It has it’s ups and downs, but can be relatively low drama and even fun. Keep reading…and remember you can’t hit a home run if you don’t swing the bat! (I know, bad guy-like metaphor. But it works.)

  3. Mira says

    I came across your pages today. I was impressed to find good advice for women over 40 and the dating life that seems to run the gamma from null to full throttle for us.
    Yes, the advice for finding the perfect man is right on target. Sometimes the perfect one is right in front of our eyes and we do not even observe that one whom is always there ready, willing and able. We get so caught up in seeking our idea of perfection of our particular type and can be led down the wrong road once again.
    I have a daughter going through many of the same issues and I told her to take off the rose colored glasses and just go out and have coffee. Allow the moments to see where something can go without prejudging. I told her to remember that when she picks out her great reads she always will browse beyond the title on the cover.
    I shall be back to read much more.
    Have fun and stop just window shopping.
    Many smiles,
    Mira Faraday

    • says

      Mira: Thanks SO much for your note. I think you said it better then I did when you said “Take off the rose colored glasses and just go out and have coffee.” Perfect.

      I certainly know from experience that it’s difficult not to go on dates hoping he’s the one – and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. But that hope has to have some balance, right? You can throw in some reality (because odds are that he won’t be), add a little “a girl just wants to have fun” and top it off with a heap of rational thought and looking out for oneself. That makes for some healthy dating.

      Thanks again and please do come back and let me know your thoughts! Love, Bp

  4. LetmeShare says

    It sad but I agree. Most women fall for the wrong guy even if they know it’s wrong (he’s not the right guy) they will pursue their feelings despite of being advised by family and friends.

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  5. Drew says

    I’m reminded of a joke:

    A 40-something woman is bemoaning her romantic life with a guy friend. “Where are all the good men?” she cries.

    He replies, “They’re right where you left them, back in your twenties.”

  6. John says

    Here’s a scenario. A man approaches a woman who is checking out the apples. She ignors him and continues with the apples. He insists! She ignores again, and walks away. He runs around and in front of her, stopping her in her tracks. You can escalate this scenario further, but how far does the man go before he gets the Rodney King beaten out of him for being “identified” as a stalker?

    My point is, the hypersensitivity that has pervaded the system – can you say Anita Hill? – has pushed many decent men far from even TRYING to approach women. Why risk it? Sorry ladies. It’s the system WE have made. There are LOTS of decent men out there hoping, if not looking for love, and most of them are, franky, scared pantsless of losing everthing they have just for approaching a woman. It’s easier to surf the ‘net and date “Rosie Palm”.

    So when a man DOES approach, you might want to at least let him feel good about himself and say “Hi!”, regardless of his perceived “type”. You never know – it might lead to the love of your life, sailboat and all.

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