Avoid Dating Burnout by Thinking More Like a Man

This week I spoke with my client, “Sue,” who recently entered the online dating world. Right off the bat she had scoped out a profile she really liked and emailed him. He seemed interested, attentive and pretty fabulous on paper. The next thing you know…she has a date!

When they met in real life, he complimented her generously, told her he felt so lucky to have met her, and talked about doing lots of things together. At the end of the date, they both agreed they wanted to see each other again. She felt a major connection.

Sue was understandably thrilled and got that he-could-be-the-one tingle thing goin’. I’m sure you know that feeling.

But it’s likely you also know the end of this story: he never followed through.

He didn’t call when he said he would. He cancelled two dates. He had long story for why each time and professed his interest and desire to be with her again.

And then he stopped calling.

By the time Sue and I connected, this entire story had transpired. When I talked to her, she was in damage mode. You know: rumination hell, where we gals can’t help but go. Why had he said all those things to me? What did I do wrong? Do you think he ever liked me? Maybe he just has too much going on in his life right now…should I tell him I’ll wait? Why do guys keep doing this and not following through???

Sue was emotionally drained, and her dating confidence was in the dumps. She was exhausted. And then those words I hate to hear started coming: Why does this always happen? I’m done! This is bulls#%!

Listening, I felt the same here-we-go-again feeling. But it wasn’t about the guy; it was about her.

First, let me answer her questions:

Why had he said all those things to me?  Because he probably liked you.

What did I do wrong?  If you showed up, had fun, and were “real”…absolutely nothing.

 Do you think he ever liked me? Again, yes. I do…when he was with you.

Should I wait? NO! For what?

Why does this always happen to me? It doesn’t. You’ve gone out with about 10 guys in the past several months, and this disappearing act has happened twice. That doesn’t count as “always” in my book.

And the major, most important answer I gave her was this: You will never know what happened. Ever. And it doesn’t matter.

She didn’t even know this guy. She was totally disregarding his bad behavior and holding on to her initial, uninformed impression. She was hitching her wagon to a fantasy: a wish that she was finally in the presence of The One (at least potentially). After one date she jumped in HEART first…and created her own crash and burn drama.

And the kicker is, while she was spending all her energy on a relationship that never existed, she wasn’t responding to the dozens of men in her Match.com inbox waiting for her attention. Seriously…dozens!

Now let me guess the guy’s side of this: “Oh, she was nice and kinda pretty. Fun to hang with. Yeah, It would be nice to see her again. I’ll make a date. Oh look! Something shiny!”

That shiny thing could have been another woman, his career or some family thing. Who knows? But he found something he’d rather do, and he did it. I agree it would have been gentlemanly of him to tell her that he was moving on, but I don’t think he was a jerk or a liar. He was not yet invested in her, and he was taking care of himself.

Ladies, it would help you to approach dating a little more like the guys. Yes, I said it: like the guys. Most women go on a date hoping he’s the one. Even though he might be seriously looking for the one, most men go on dates thinking something like, “She seems nice. It’ll be cool to see her and get to know a little about her.” And if what he learns doesn’t knock his socks off, he may get waylaid if something shiny comes along.

Remember, the purpose of dating is to DISCOVER whether he’s your guy, not to DECIDE if he’s your guy. That’s what a relationship is for. It isn’t about getting him to like you or making him fit your expectations.

Not only did Sue lose three weeks of potential fun dates, but she burned herself out and brought herself to the verge of giving up on finding love…all over a guy she never knew.

Start slow, keep an open mind, stay in the moment and don’t go ALL IN on anyone too soon. This is the grownup girl part of dating: manage your expectations and keep your fantasies in check no matter how strong the guy comes on. Balance your heart with your head.

By choosing the crazy woman’s path of dashed hopes and disappointments (I think I can say that because that was me for many years.), you will likely burn yourself out. The ups and downs will get the best of you. And then you miss out on so many opportunities to enjoy yourself and to stay open to many guys, one of which will your last first date. Slow and steady wins THIS race…and the right guy.

Comments

  1. Marie says

    Hi Bobbi,
    I agree with you 100%. For many men, especially those new to online dating, it’s like a giant candy store full of women. These men aren’t emotionally ready for a real relationship anyway, so if they flake out early it’s a blessing. Those that have been around awhile begin to tire of the endless emails and awkward first dates and start to look around for a “quality” woman to settle down with. I always pay attention to men’s actions, not their words.

    • says

      Good points Marie! It is overwhelming to some who hop online and get tons of interest. Even if a guy thinks he’s ready for a relationship I can imagine his “excitement” when his inbox begins getting the “incoming.” But, just like us gals, they do grow up and realize what they really want: a wonderful partner. Oh…and actions definitely do speak louder than words. Thanks Marie!

  2. Betsy says

    I agree. Interesting. I am 68 and on Match. I have been getting a ton of attention: 30-80 ‘hits’ daily, and at least 2 emails a day. I screen. Well,I had a tentative date with a man, and he didn’t get back to me with the details, so I let him know that I was no longer available for that day, that I had already accepted another date. He got back to me, and then, didn’t follow through that time either. In the meantime, he had given me his regular email. Well, I googled him. He is a convicted felon! He forged and embezzled and spent several months in jail and had to pay restitution of $200,000 plus. He didn’t follow through. I let him know that didn’t work. I am glad we never met! Be careful out there!

    • says

      HI Betsy, Unfortunately there are some bad people out there, but it’s a tiny percentage of the total. About your other guy who disappeared: sounds like he did try to get to know you if you had 3 dates and he drive 3 hours. My guess is that he just didn’t see you as a match. You’re right: Next!

  3. Betsy says

    I also wanted to add, that I have had many men who seemingly enjoyed my company and then totally disappeared. I feel I did everything right. The latest one: we had been on 3 dates, he asked me out for another. I couldn’t make it. It was too late when he suggested it. At that time, he was traveling 3 hours to see me, each way, and stayed in a motel. Then, I was at my mountain home 7 hours away from where he lives. Then, lo and behold, he was assigned a job one hour away from my mountain home. He wrote me and told me that. We set up a tentative date. He was going to call and set up the date. He never called. Before the week ended, I let him know that because I didn’t hear from him, I had made other plans. Never heard from him again. This is a professional man with a graduate degree, as is the one in the preceeding post. Amazing! I feel I did everything ‘right’ again. His loss!!

  4. Lynn says

    I really like Maries’ statement to pay attention to their actions, not their words. I like the idea that the purpose of dating is to discover whether he’s your guy. Lynn

    • says

      Thanks Lynn! I agree that Marie’s got a great point,

  5. Marie says

    I’ve also read that if a man cancels plans a lot or disappears for awhile, he may still be married! I always figure that if a man really likes me, he’ll figure out a way to see me. If I’m just his “back-up” date, I’m not interested. There ARE a lot of good guys out there, just like Bobbi says. You just have to learn to read between the lines, like Betsy did, to weed out the losers!!

  6. Betsy says

    Thanks Bobbi and Marie!

    The man who lived 3 hours away, had bad luck with his last two relationships. (He is a hospital administrator and pharmacist.) Both of the women died. As I wrote to him, if that had happened to me, I would have a huge hole in my heart and even though I thought I wanted a relaonship, it would be, on some level, too difficult.

    The man who was the convicted felon wrote the most eloquent profile. He was convicted of credit card fraud and forgery. He has his own business, volunteers and cares about the earth,is athletic….He’s a long standing Rotarian and member of the Elks….. all things that resonated with me. He also wrote that he earned $150,000+. (The income part isn’t that important to me.) I really dodged a bullet.

    I usually screen pretty well. I have to have a couple of phone calls before I will meet with a man. In this case, it didn’t get that far. He never called me. Just beware!

  7. Lynn says

    I just found your website and signed up for your emails. The first one that asked me to confirm my subscription showed this link.

    I just wanted to comment on using one of the sites that you have to pay for. I tried match and harmony and both sites were absolutely horrible at matches for me. I listed my likes (& dislikes) and they totally disregarded them. (Example… I said NO to smokers, yet they matched me with smokers. I told them the age range I wanted and they matched me with men in their 70s and 80s.) I didn’t get a single decent match on either site and felt disrespected by the sites and also that I wasted my hard-earned money.

    I have tried a few of the free sites and I have met several men. I dated one off and on for about 2 years, but that isn’t going anywhere, so I am ending it. The others just didn’t measure up.

    I am looking forward to reading your materials and see where I might be going wrong or how I can better approach the screening process. Thanks.

  8. Janet says

    Shout out to Betsy and the “candy store” comment! Have used this term with my friends and realize I visit the store too….to Lynn story above, you mentioned match and eharmony as giving you “horrible matches”, smokers/wrong age range etc. Sorry to read of your experience, but I have been online dating with these two sites off/on for 3 years and have never had specifics you mentioned appear in my matches! I’m thinking of writing a book (or a screenplay)actually as I have been amazed at the quality of men I have met through these sites.
    Bobbi, we have met briefly and what you are doing for us women over 50 is fabulous. Your insight is accurate and we all benefit from your life experience and passion! Thanks for caring and sharing!

    • says

      Hi Janet! So glad to hear from you and thanks for your kind words. My “Find Hope and then Find Him” isn’t just words. I really REALLY want to do this for you and I’m always so happy to hear that my work helps you. Let me know when you write your book…got some stories for you!

  9. susan says

    Bobbi I really enjoy your site!

    This column’s advice is always a good reminder. With the dating sites I haven’t fallen in love with any profiles, those that sound too good to be true I generally pass over. The cynic in me makes me. My burnout problem isn’t so much disappointment in men, because those that I’ve met recently have been very nice. It’s exhaustion from life! As a critical care nurse I work three 12 hour shifts a week, watch after my father (I’m the only child in the state), am in graduate school and manage three residences (his home, my home, and his senior apartment – the market is horrible and I can’t afford to sell his home.) It’s hard to muster the enthusiasm to develop a connection. If anyone has advice about that I’d love to hear it!

    • Marie says

      Hi Susan,
      I’m in a similar position to yours, and I’ve recently realized and accepted that not only do I not have the time or energy to date right now, I also don’t have much to give to another person. The little free time I do have I prefer to spend with girlfriends, my kids, or alone. I know this will change someday but right now I’m happy with taking a break from dating. Does anyone else out there find men exhausting at times?

      • says

        I hear you ladies. You clearly have very challenging lives and it can be really hard to add anything to it. But men are only as exhausting as you let them be. If you look at dating as simply something you have to endure to meet The One…it can suck. If you look at it as an opportunity to meet some nice men (as you acknowledge definitely do exist), share a nice chat and maybe dinner…it can be quite relaxing and fun. The key really is to know what you want and don’t want, set some boundaries and just be yourself. The exhausting part is often all the nonsense of putting up with guys who you shouldn’t be wasting your time with and/or trying to be someone you’re not. Oh, and going on every date hoping he’s the one instead of hoping you have a nice time. That’s just setting yourself up for disappointment since – by definition- almost every single guy won’t be the one…until he is! Yay!

        If you can’t approach it this way I think it’s a great idea to opt-out for now. But if you can, it can be a wonderful distraction and release from all those other tough and not so enjoyable parts of your life.
        I”m here to help you any way I can!

        • Barb says

          Great article Bobbi. I’m going to show it to my friends. I’ve gotten calls from friends asking how I can date different people all the time. Women tend to feel guilty accepting dates from different guys. I think that when we meet a great guy or a perceived great guy we instantly jump into a “relationship” with that guy. It’s why we wait around for him and feel as though we are cheating on him if we accept other dates. It was through working with you that I come to see dating as just a social engagement with the opposite sex and not “Oh my Gosh he may be the one.” When I started viewing it from that perspective it has become more fun and can be a way to break free form life’s pressures and just go out, be yourself, relax into it and have a good time. It does not have to take a lot of energy. And every time you meet a new guy, you learn a bit more about yourself and what you are looking for and are one step closer to meeting the guy that is right for you. I tell you ladies. If you can work with Bobbi, it will be so worth your time!

          • says

            Congrats Barb! You entered our work with an open mind and open heart and you courageously applied what you learned. Congratulations on your success. And thanks for reminding that success isn’t necessarily when you find The Guy…it’s when you find – and love – yourself in relation to guys. Big huge hug to you!

        • susan says

          Thanks Bobbi! Working on enjoying the ride :) and gaining a lot of perspective. And looking forward to more of your e-mails.

      • Gina says

        Hello Marie.
        I have to reply very openly to your comment.
        First of all my English is in progress, therefore you can find some mistakes. :-)

        So many personal excesses to do nothing and to stay in your safe zone and to be stuck. It is like living in a prison.
        How do you feel there?

        You have written “I ALSO DON’T HAVE MUCH TO GIVE TO ANOTHER PERSON. Could you read it again and again?

        What do you thing, how low or how high is you self-evaluation?

        You share time with your girlfriends, with your kids, or alone. How much does it mean for you to be fulfilled by that way?

        Why are you here?
        Why are you here on Bobbi’s web site?
        What do you expect firstly from your life?

        Definitively I can say, people must firstly fulfil ourselves in order to fulfil the others.

  10. Betsy says

    Lucky me! I have found a really good man. We laugh and have fun. He is loyal and gives me compliments and does all the old fashioned ‘stuff’. We have had one date a week during the last month. I want to hear more from him during the week, and to see him a couple of times a week. And yet, I am aware that this is the relationship he wants. If I find that he doesn’t feel like ramping it up, within the next month, I may have to tell him that I think that right now we want different things in our lives. What do you think? Do I need more patience? He, seemingly, is the best man, in terms of inherent qualities, that I have met on Match.

  11. Betsy says

    Update with the guy who I felt had the deep virtues I am looking for. My initial criteria was good health, kind, reliable, conscious, retired, (as I am), fit. Well, this man is 40 lbs overweight, he has heart conditions, diabetes, and isn’t very active, and still needs to work. I am throwing all that previous ‘want’ list out the window. We have fun. He is the leader.

    He pulled away for awhile. I emailed him about how I felt some distance, and that because he was pretty new to online dating, he probably met many women who intrigued him d that was Ok. He wrote back and said he was ‘seeing’ another person. He has still been in touch with me. He said he will call me next week. He has been reliable before. If may be that this is as far as we go together. Either way, it’s Ok, because there are so many other good men out there. (I’m 68 and have big thighs :)) I love my body and date a lot. (I did, however, tell other men that I wanted to see where Tom and I went, and was not interested in dating others right now.) I’s easy to resume multiple dating anytime.

    • Marie says

      Hi Betsy,
      It’ll be interesting to see what Bobbi has to say here. It’s definitely one of the perils of online dating — there are so many choices! A similar situation happened to me last year and I felt like the “second-stringer” with a man I really liked. I stopped being available to him and he eventually came around. Unfortunately, he developed the bad habit of occasionally getting back on dating sites and I had to let him go.

      • Betsy says

        Thanks Marie,

        Good for you to value yourself more than to take crumbs.
        I have done a lot of work on myself and becoming more conscious in the past 9 years.
        Yet, I have been reading Harville Hendricks and he states that if we look a the negaive and positive characteristics of men we have been in relationship, they will be similar. To me, that’s scary! I think I am getting past that. My ex, of 38 years, never gave me a compliment. Tom does all the time, so that I feel good. I will just have to wait and see how consistent he can be.

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