Why is it so hard to find a women interested in long-term relationship?
September 6, 2014 11:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm a male in my late 20's who's having trouble finding a woman to settle down with. I keep getting attracted to/and attracting women who are either not interested in serious relationships (only casual/physical relationships) or have some self-esteem issues/other problems that makes them very unstable/emotionally fluctuating. I wouldn't describe myself as overly attractive (very average looks and slim build) or promiscuous, so I'm kind of puzzled by how and why these women feel attracted to me.

As a person I like to talk to and meet new people and I'm told I'm overly friendly and charming, so that might be part of the problem. However, I like these traits about myself and it has helped me meet a lot of interesting people and helped me along with my education and career.

As for the second group of women, I have had/have some self-esteem issues of my own (brought on my childhood bullying) and I think that on a subconscious level, I'm attracted to other women who are similarly "damaged goods" and that I'm telling myself that I don't deserve anyone better. When I do finally find a women I think has some potential to be a long-term partner, they either already have a boyfriend/husband (long stable relationships) or are not interested in me/attracted to me.

During my early and mid 20's, I felt like I had more than enough time to find the right girlfriend, so I wasn't too discouraged when things went sour and i was with the wrong kind of girls.
But now I'm nearly 30, and almost everyone in my circle of friends have started to settle down, buying a house and most have children now. And of course i feel like the odd man out. I'm trying to convince myself that i don't have time for a serious relationship and i need to focus on my career, and that's also my explanation whenever people ask me about it.

But truly, there's nothing I want more than to actually settle down with a loving partner and have children. I catch myself thinking more and more about it, which surprises me sometimes, since just 5 years ago, I couldn't imagine myself ever settling down and having a kid. I don't know what's changed, but I feel like I've matured a lot during these last few years and that has probably given me a new perspective of what I want. Also my older siblings have got children of their own during this period, which has further given me the desire to have children.

But of course the problem is that i just can't find the right kind of girl who's interested in a long-term relationship. This last few months it has really been eating at me, since i just seem to see happy couples with kids everywhere i go. On the streets, my own family (siblings), on my Facebook feed etc. I know it sounds terribly selfish and self-absorbed, but it's really frustrating and annoying to see other peoples' happiness and hearing about it all the time. I find myself being unable to be truly happy on the behalf, and I just feel so ashamed for that. And then that terrible realization is lurking in the corner.. What if something is really wrong with me and that is the reason I just can't find what I need? I find myself doubting myself like never before and it's driving me crazy.

I feel like I should perhaps go into therapy to help solve this problem. But I'm kind of afraid of the costs and that it's an admission that something is wrong with me. I've had therapy about 12 years ago, to help with some self-esteem issues I had, brought on by bullying in my childhood. It seemed to help somewhat, to put proper words on the problems, but I feel like I overcame it on my own and didn't experience any breakthroughs with my therapist. I also only had a couple of sessions because of the costs.

I'm also just wondering that it seems weird to have to get therapy just because I can't find a relationship. Is it really supposed to be that hard? I'm on the verge of just giving up and forgetting about it, but that's not really a possibility either is it? Because even if I give up, I will still have the urge to be with someone and have children. I don't know what to do right now and I really hate this helpless feeling.
posted by kampken to Human Relations (31 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Not knowing you personally, I'm wary of commenting on your situation specifically. But I can tell you that in my experience, and contrary to my initial presuppositions, it actually is really difficult to find someone to settle down with. Aspects of your post really resonate with me, because I am in my late 20s as well, and struggled with similar questions, especially a few years ago. The conclusion I came to, for what it's worth, is that a whole lot of it simply boils down to luck. Some fortunate few meet the right person in high school, or as undergrads. Others have a chance meeting with someone compatible when they're not expecting it, like in an airport or something. Others of us have to slog through, going on endless awful OkCupid dates and maybe never meeting someone. As far as I can tell, my friends who are married aren't any more pleasant, attractive, academically or professionally successful, or any other superlative, than any of the rest of us. They just happened to roll a lucky throw. Not being in a relationship isn't some kind of cosmic referendum on your attractiveness or on your value as a person. The truth is that there are billions of people in the world, but probably in reality there is only a very thin sliver of people with whom you are compatible enough to consider settling down with. Those people are pretty hard to find, especially because they don't wear signs advertising themselves. You either are lucky enough to bump into one of those people by chance, or you have to intentionally aim to maximize your chances of engineering a connection. I think most single people feel like you're feeling - that they deeply want to be married/coupled, that they are frustrated by how difficult it is to find someone reasonably compatible to do that with, and that they feel like everyone else has had it much easier. It's possible that there is something particular about you that is preventing you from getting into a serious long-term relationship. But I think it's at least equally likely that you're just unlucky, like others of us, and that you shouldn't take it personally.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:01 PM on September 6, 2014 [40 favorites]

Agree that it really is luck of the draw.

But, I do think that one can maximize the chances of meeting someone compatible by socializing actively with friends, because friends of friends are more likely to be compatible with you than random internet strangers. I know more people who are married to people they met through friends (even Internet friends!!) than through purposeful online dating.
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:08 PM on September 6, 2014 [8 favorites]

I agree with fingersandtoes, and think that your odds are higher of meeting someone compatible in your current broader social networks than randomly.

That said, as a former deep sceptic of online dating, I do want to put a good word in for it. To me, the beauty of online dating is the clarity and specificity it provides. I have quite particular deal-breakers and requirements for a partner, and I loved that I was essentially able to pre-screen people from their profiles before even going out for coffee. I wouldn't be interested in dating probably 99% of men, but I could look on their profiles in advance and determine the 1% who might be a good potential fit, which ensured that the limited time I had for dating was focused and as well-used as possible. Also, online dating sites allow you to make explicit what you're looking for ("long-term relationship" versus "casual relationship", or whatever). While the average person on an online dating site is very likely less compatible than someone you could meet in your current social circles, the advantage of online dating sites is that you can get a lot more clarity upfront about their long-term goals and desires with regard to marriage and children (since those are important to you), and you can screen for any big deal-breakers before investing a lot of time on dates etc. If you haven't tried online dating, it might be worth giving it a shot. It's not a magic panacea, and you still will come across a whole lot of people who are hilariously mismatched for you, but it might be worth it as another avenue to pursue in addition to using your current friend networks and whatever else you may currently be doing.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

When I do finally find a women I think has some potential to be a long-term partner, they either already have a boyfriend/husband (long stable relationships) or are not interested in me/attracted to me.

Do you have any women friends or family members who you would trust to tell you why you don't think the people you have identified as matches are interested in you? Because yeah, luck of the draw, and you only need to find one person, but if you have in fact met some likely people, why has every single one not led to anything? That would be a question to dig into a bit.
posted by BibiRose at 12:20 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing that it's a crapshoot. It's not a meritocracy and there are no guarantees. We all know folks who are awesome and not partnered, and we all know folks who have issues and (at least appear to be) happily partnered. There are always a whole bunch of factors beyond our control that need to come together in just the right way for us to find romantic love.

I suggest learning to accept the "crapshoot"/"beyond your control" aspects of this. It will help you to overcome tendencies that may put people off because they are perceived as desperate. It will also help you to refocus outward on all of the many things to do, see and get interested in that will help you live a happy, rewarding, enjoyable life without a partner. Then if a partner comes along, great! That's icing on the cake, but in the meantime you will be fulfilled by your life as it is and won't be pining for something that may or may not happen.
posted by jazzbaby at 12:23 PM on September 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

The other thing to note is that as far as I can tell, by your late 20s, many people who want to be in a serious long-term relationship already are in one. The remaining pool of single people thus has a higher-than-average proportion of people who don't want to be seriously coupled, for whatever reason (prefers casual sex and the single lifestyle, self-esteem issues preventing them from taking the plunge, too focused on career to want a relationship at the moment, or whatever). Obviously the pool of single people is fluid, because couples break up. Additionally, there are obviously people like yourself in the single pool, who simply haven't found someone yet. But I do think that the pool of people looking for committed relationships thins through your 20s, and that by the end of your 20s, your chances of meeting single people who want a serious relationship are less than random chance would suggest, because many people who really want to be permanently coupled already are, so are thus out of the pool. Single friends of mine have observed this too.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Thanks, that actually calmed me down a bit :) I'm usually not one to despair so easily, but I was on a first date earlier today that was just horrible and I guess that just tipped the scales. It definitely helps to not think of it as something personal.

@fingersandtoes & ClaireBear

Most of my recent dating activity has been with women I've met through work, studies and through friends (but mostly the unsuitable ones). So that's something to work on right there.

I tried online dating many years ago, but I didn't really have much luck. I'm guessing its a bit different for men on these sites, since it's quite difficult to get a response from most women (since they get flooded with messages?). But perhaps I should give it a try again.


I might try that actually. When I was younger I did have some relationships that might have led to something more serious, but I wasn't really ready or mature enough at the time. It's strange how that works out :P


That's pretty much what I've been doing for the last few years. I do enjoy spending time on my own and I'm very careful not to appear too needy or desperate. But it's just not easy when you have this huge desire to actually settle down and move on to the next phase of your life. But yeah, it helps a bit to accept the randomness of it all.
posted by kampken at 12:32 PM on September 6, 2014


I've theorized about that myself and I agree that this might be the case. At least it helps to know that I was in no way ready for a long-term relationship in my early 20's..probably not even in my mid 20's. Hopefully there are some women out there who are in a similar situation.

I hadn't heard of CBT therapy before but it sounds quite interesting. I will look into it and might give it a try. And thank you :)
posted by kampken at 12:44 PM on September 6, 2014

Perhaps the "unstableness" and emotional fluctuation that you feel is problematic in the women you have been dating isn't actually a flaw in their character, but actually the normal complexity of human emotion? I get the sense that you are looking for some sort of ideal that may not exactly exist. People are deep and multifaceted, and it's not until you really get to know someone that you get to see every side of their personality. When you say "the wrong sort of girl" you're dismissing a whole swathe of humanity that you have decided doesn't meet up to your expectations. There are no "sorts of girls" everyone is a distinct and complex individual, we all have our good points, and our messy, complicated interior life. Be sure that you are giving the women you date a chance to be themselves, loving not just the good things about them, but also their flaws and idiosyncrasies. Looking at other people's lives on facebook you only get to see the good aspects that they choose to share - the hard parts of actually making the relationship work they keep to themselves. It's never easy, because we are all damaged goods. If you can accept your own imperfections, you will come a long way in accepting and even loving those of others.

be the sort of person you want to be with. Be trustworthy, be understanding, be kind. be fun.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:51 PM on September 6, 2014 [10 favorites]

Just to answer your follow-up: I think it is different for men on online dating sites, but I also think you can greatly maximize your chances of a response by making your profile as interesting and specific as possible. The vast vast majority of profiles on OkCupid (the site I'm familiar with - but I imagine it holds for all of them) are extremely similar and extremely generic, in my opinion. I would sift through maybe a hundred male profiles in a weekend and they all essentially blurred into each other - men who are "down to earth", who "like to have fun", "enjoy going out or staying in", who want "no drama". If you really make your profile specific and memorable (in a good way), you stand out a whole lot. Also, you maximize your chances of finding someone actually compatible, to boot. The same holds for the messages you send. Many of the messages I got were very generic (and were probably cut-and-pasted from hundreds of other messages that these men were sending to other women) - things like "hey wup up sexi", "hi!!!", etc. If you make your profile interesting and specific, you only contact women who you have specific reason for thinking would be a good match (or at least, that you refrain from contacting women who are obviously unsuitable for you based on their profile and stated values), and you write a specific message to them that you couldn't cut and paste and send to another woman, I think your odds of getting a response will be significantly higher than average. Also, a few pro-tips: in your first message, do not in any fashion mention the body of the woman you are writing to (how sexy/beautiful it is, how hot you find her, how much you'd love to sleep with her, etc.); and take care to write a message that is spelled and punctuated properly. Most of the messages that I received and ignored failed on one of these two counts, and I have heard similar from other women.

Also, the answers to this question that I asked several months back might be of help to you - they were to me, and I was feeling similarly when I asked it.
posted by ClaireBear at 12:55 PM on September 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm the female version of this, really. 30, looking for something long-term and finding either a) nothing but dudes wanting hook-ups, or b) everybody around me already has a partner :-/

I agree with a lot of the above advice. Daily, I concentrate on myself and what I'm doing (in the sense that I need to make bank to pay rent, I need to study to get X grade, etc.), while always keeping an eye out for a special someone, and letting people know I'm looking.

It's so hard to tune out the whole freak-out WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! because it's natural to feel that way. And it's just a plain sucky situation to be in, especially when people assume There's Something Wrong With You (tm) if you're not already in a relationship.

All I can advise is to calm down. You're not on a timer. You're not in a race. There's no gold medal for finding a partner before X number of planetary revolutions around the sun :) Becoming okay with the idea that it may never happen is also tough, too.

(And if you're interested, then drop me a message?)
posted by Chorus at 1:00 PM on September 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's really hard to find a person to be in a family with. Think about how huge that is. You're establishing a family. You need to pick someone who is your partner in life. Of course it takes time to find that person and to vet them and to weather some storms with them to insure that they're really the right person.

The other thing is that it's all failure until you find the right one. I get it, it's frustrating. I was 39 before I got married, but BOY am I glad that I waited for the exact, right person. Husbunny is a wonderful person to go through life with. We travel and have adventures and even when we're in a waiting room somewhere, we're having a pretty good time!

So turn your thinking around on this. You're not having a hard time finding the right woman, you're doing your due diligence and insuring that when you DO find the right woman, that you'll be ready to partner with her and to establish your family.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:08 PM on September 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

@ 5_13_23_42_69_666

When I say unstable and fluctuating, I mean women that have huge mood swings from one day to the other. Like being all lovely one day and screaming their lungs out the next, without any reason. Or being extremely jealous to the point of calling/writing me whenever I am out with friends (even male friends). Or very emotionally manipulative. For instance I was on a date with a woman who threatened to report me for rape, when she realized I wasn't really interested in her.

I always give new people a chance and try to get the whole picture (as much as possible anyway). I agree with your point on Facebook, it doesn't give a full and truthful picture of a relationship.


I appreciate the help, but your post just reminded me why I got fed up with online dating :) It feels like you have to jump through SO many hoops just to get into contact with a woman..and even then you have no idea what's going to happen. It just feels like you're fishing for an extremely rare fish, who is probably not even paying attention. If that makes any sense? :) But thank you for your advice.


Nice to hear from someone in a similar situation. Thank you :)

@Ruthless Bunny

Yes, you're right. It's probably the biggest decision you have to make in your life. I guess I'm just tired of waiting but I don't really have much of a choice.
I just have this irrational feeling of being "too late". It doesn't make much sense but I'll probably have to work on that.
posted by kampken at 1:12 PM on September 6, 2014

Therapy helped me with the self-doubt and "do I have what it takes to be partnered"-worries I had when I was single. It sounds like you have feelings of shame around mental health that you could do without. Therapy isn't "just" for people with problems - it's for anyone who wants to explore ways of taking care of their emotional and mental wellbeing.

ClaireBear nailed it: these are very typical feelings and fears among the un-partnered. So much really is the luck of the draw. That said, the more you can do to accept your feelings of frustration and channel your energy into your own happiness, the more likely it is that you'll be ready for and attractive to a potentially compatible partner when they finally come along. No one wants to date someone who is consumed with bitterness and anger over being alone.

One of the toughest things about being single and wanting a relationship is the risk of being and feeling a bit too needy. While it's completely normal to REALLY want to settle down RIGHT NOW, the strength of your desire for a partner might repel a really good person. You might be too eager, too intense, too willing to overlook potential red flags.

The trick - and it's a tough one - is to allow yourself to authentically want what you want .. but don't want it too much. Oddly, in my experience, the only way to dial back on the intensity of your desire for a relationship is to feel it completely - intensely. Feel the frustration, the sadness, the anxiety - all of it. And don't run away from these tough feelings. Let them in. Let them out. Take care of yourself - not just your career. Invest in your happiness. Give back to your community. Volunteer. Take care of someone. Exercise. Eat delicious food. Go on an adventure. Wear clothes you love. Find ways to treat yourself the way you'd want a partner to treat you. Keep trying to find a compatible person, but focus mainly on what you can control -- your own wellbeing.
posted by Gray Skies at 1:33 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

yikes! you really have been on some dreadful dates! sorry to hear that.

Also, since you said you were interested in CBT, there is an online program called moodgym created by an Australian university that lets you guide yourself through CBT with a series of writing exercises. It is free, and I've read good reviews, so it may be worth a try.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:49 PM on September 6, 2014 [7 favorites]

Date older women. Meet women at church or other venues that appeal to people with family values. Try online dating. Honestly, it should not be that hard for a 30 year old man to find women who want to get married and have kids, unless he is dating much younger.

All of your complaints about your dates being "emotionally unstable" sound to me like they stem from your lack of interest. A loving date who suddenly screams at you is a woman who wants to get close to you and is frustrated when she senses you are not that into her. A woman who threatens to report you for rape when you drift away is a woman who is desperate to get your time and attention. A clingy and jealous woman is one who does not trust you or believe in your fidelity.

All of these problems stem from the same source: You are not that into them and they sense it. So fix that problem somehow. Either expect to put more time and effort into relationships with women or only date women you're over the moon crazy about.

Also stop calling them girls.
posted by quincunx at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

@Gray Skies

You are right about the therapy part, I need to overcome that stigma.
I'm very self aware about being too needy/desperate exactly because of this reason. It's a strange balance of being interested but not too interested etc.


I could probably write a book about all those weird dates, but I'm afraid I'll scare some people away from ever going on dates :) Thank you for the link!


I can't tell if you're serious or just a troll. Either case, I'm desperately looking for a ignore/block button. "A woman who threatens to report you for rape when you drift away is a woman who is desperate to get your time and attention." Really?
posted by kampken at 2:25 PM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm also just wondering that it seems weird to have to get therapy just because I can't find a relationship.

Do not trivialize your dating life!! Despite what popular culture wants you to believe, it is not the purview of the daffy teenaged girl. It is a super-serious Big Deal for an adult to find another adult to make a home and a family with.

Think about it like this: Would you feel silly for going to therapy to talk about issues related to your mother or father? Probably not, right? This is not really so different. The itchy problem you feel is related to family--your future family. Part of why serious dating is such a daunting process is that the stakes are really very high. You didn't choose your family of origin, but you have some say-so in what your future family might look like. This is thrilling, and terrifying. A therapist could really help you re-frame your goals and self-talk, and give you the best shot at making something good happen.
posted by magdalemon at 2:26 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'll also go ahead and throw in a plug for cultivating a meditation practice, if that's something that interests you. That has helped me to open up more space between myself and how I feel. When I'm "on the cushion", I'm still very aware of how I feel, but I'm also more aware that what I'm feeling right now is impermanent. I am not what I'm feeling right now. It's just what I'm feeling right now. The spaciousness that I'm opening up can also give way to other feelings, like the joy in doing something that I love, spending time with friends or family, hanging out with a beloved pet, etc. One of my meditation instructors describes this as seeing strong emotions as weather systems moving through our minds.

I mention this because quite often when we are dealing with really powerful emotions, we feel engulfed (or perhaps ensnared) by them. Meditation is a tool that helps us loosen the perceived grip those emotions have over us and enables us to be at more ease. Anyway, something to consider if you think it might be helpful to you.
posted by jazzbaby at 2:38 PM on September 6, 2014 [5 favorites]

All of your complaints about your dates being "emotionally unstable" sound to me like they stem from your lack of interest. A loving date who suddenly screams at you is a woman who wants to get close to you and is frustrated when she senses you are not that into her. A woman who threatens to report you for rape when you drift away is a woman who is desperate to get your time and attention.

WTF? No. Even if they are, you do not want a woman who reacts to frustrations and problems this way.
posted by unannihilated at 2:41 PM on September 6, 2014 [18 favorites]

Not a troll. In your own words she threatened you "when she realized I wasn't really interested in her." Re-read what I wrote and you will ascertain that there is a difference between excusing someone and explaining their motivations. In no way did I excuse anything she did. Screaming and rape accusations are obviously wrong, bad things to do that I personally would never do and never condone. I thought this would be so obvious that I would not need to state this. (I'n an effort at brevity.) Obviously not.

I am also not claiming that these women were perfectly emotionally stable, as I have no way of knowing that and indeed, mood swings are pretty much te definition of emotionally unstable so I would not argue that anyway.

I am simply pointing out that people have motivations for their actions. Even "crazy" people. People who kill people have motivations for it. Does that make it right? Duh, no. Does it mean that it is worth trying to spend a few seconds to ascertain why people do the things they do, even when those things are wrong? Yes. Maybe you really and truly only dated three objectively, scientifically, certifiably emotionally unstable women. That's all she wrote, just bad luck. Fine. I guess that is statistically possible. But it is also worth some time to ask yourself why these women did the things they did and what they hoped to gain from it to see if there is anything you personally can do to avoid this in the future.
posted by quincunx at 3:12 PM on September 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do people KNOW you're looking for long term / marriage/kids? Your friends? I have male friends that are single and attractive but when a female friend asks me about them I say -no, he's not looking for that. And they lose interest right away. If your friends know you're ready to settle down you tend to get treated differently by their friends, introduced to people, invited to different kinds of gatherings etc. It's the time honored way to meet people after all.

As far as having emotionally unstable women be attracted to you- the world is full of crazy people looking for someone to latch onto. Sounds like you need better boundaries and more of a sense of your own dealbreakers and to learn to enforce them early. You shouldn't be getting tangled up with people that are so clingy all the time. Take it slower, don't be afraid to stick to your guns. Giving people a chance is great but maybe only one chance from now on. Pick better people to let close to you.
posted by fshgrl at 4:10 PM on September 6, 2014 [4 favorites]

I have had/have some self-esteem issues of my own (brought on my childhood bullying) and I think that on a subconscious level, I'm attracted to other women who are similarly "damaged goods" and that I'm telling myself that I don't deserve anyone better.
This is what you need to go to therapy for. If you're starting from a foundation of low self-esteem and "I don't deserve any better" then you're not going to be able to find someone healthy with whom you can team up as you go through life.

I feel like I should perhaps go into therapy to help solve this problem. But I'm kind of afraid of the costs and that it's an admission that something is wrong with me.
If you feel like you should go to therapy, listen to that inner voice. As for costs, google "sliding-scale therapy" + your city. Also check out the mefiwiki on getting help.

We ALL have something wrong with us. And the thing that is wrong with us is not that there is something wrong with us. Everyone's got their problems and issues, even the most successful person you know. The beauty of honestly (this is the key!) figuring out what is wrong with you is that you can then start to fix it.

Don't know what to do right now and hate feeling helpless? Then make the commitment to getting help from a professional to figure out how to identify your problems and some solutions.

And yeah, don't call women "girls."
posted by foxjacket at 8:35 PM on September 6, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm partnered, but I'm reading "If the Buddha Dated" for a class, and while it leans towards the hippy "put it out there and you'll receive it." But there IS so much in there about ways to work on yourself/questionnaires, short essays to write on your own in order to find the right mate. Just to figure out who you're actually looking for, in a non picky way - how to define your boundaries, and how to say "Thanks, but no thanks."

I wish you luck and happiness. Finding a person you might friend and then WHAT!?!?!? Fall in love with!!!??? Is the hardest thing on earth (in my f'd up/drama laden childhood.)

-Conchita (I hope you see my humor up there. I've gotten in trouble with my snark over and over but I cannot help it!)
posted by mochilove at 12:40 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Thanks everyone. You've been really helpful. I don't know what happened last night, but I just snapped. I'm usually not the kind of person to get emotional or give in to despair, but I guess everyone has their limits. I feel much better today though and I feel like I have learned of a lot of things I can try to fix my problem. It was also kinda nice to know that I'm not some kind of weirdo who is the only one who feels this way about relationships :)


You're right. I need to get over this therapist-fear for sure.


Something like Mindfulness maybe? I've heard a lot about it recently but didn't think it was for me. Might check it out again.


Hmm, I think you're on to something there. I have NOT been telling my friends and family what I'm looking for. Again, it feels shameful and loser-like not to already have found a partner when everyone else has. So I've been telling them I'm not interested and I wanna focus on my career etc. This is definitely something I should work on. And it would cut down on the psycho-dates.


True, therapy is most likely a good idea.


Cool, I'll give it a shot..I love to read books :) And your humor was refreshing..thanks :)
posted by kampken at 3:02 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

[Hey kampken, glad to see you're getting some good advice, but Ask Metafilter isn't actually meant to be a back-and-forth conversation; you can answer direct questions and clarify any misunderstanding, but basically just relax, let the answers come in, and pick and choose which seem most helpful for you.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:15 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

Either concentration (also single pointed or samatha) or insight (vipassana) meditation will help open up that space that I'm talking about. They are both excellent places to start. If this is something you decide to pursue, I suggest getting some guidance on how to do both so you know how to use each to get the most out of your practice.

Ideally, it's best to do this in person with a qualified instructor. In lieu of that, these folks have put guided meditation sessions online. They have a very general purpose, non-denominational approach. If one instructor doesn't resonate with you, keep looking.
posted by jazzbaby at 7:11 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

You've been out with some women with cluster B personality disorders/psychopathy by the sounds of it (look them up)... most people have issues and rough times.. but these personalities are at the extreme. You may have a potent chemistry with them for historical reasons, take this time to define your boundaries and needs.

I tried net dating years ago and would rather eat my foot than ever go near it again, so there are single women out there not doing it too (erm, well one at least ;).
posted by tanktop at 8:59 AM on September 7, 2014 [2 favorites]

In addition to telling your friends and family what you're looking for, think about how your lifestyle would change when you marry and have kids, and start making plans and little changes in that direction. Can a child seat fit in your car, or do you have plans to trade in when the time comes? Do you live in a good school district, or are you saving up for a down payment in such an area? Is Sunday morning devoted to sleeping in and recovering from a late Saturday night, or does it involve family-friendly activities like hiking, brunch, church, etc? Not to imply that all parents fit the same mold, and you don't want to go too creepily far with this like hanging out at playgrounds or whatever, but think about how easy or difficult it is for a woman to picture you as the kind of husband/dad you plan to be.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 11:42 AM on September 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Look, for some of us out there, it genuinely IS THAT HARD. My friend was telling me about some show she'd seen where a 700-pound woman found love over the Internet and was all, "What is wrong with us that we can't find anyone?" Well, you get lucky or you don't, is what it boils down to. Most of the population "gets lucky" before age 25, but you and I and my friend and a lot of this thread did not. And you don't know if you ever will. Some people do later in life and some never do and you don't have much control over the situation. People tell me at this point that we have to wait for the first round of divorces to happen before more singles are released into the wild, or whatever. I don't know. I don't think it will ever happen for me (but I can certainly understand why that's the case), but you don't really know one way or another.

I do think that men who want families can and do find women because I know of a lot more women who wanted families who never found love than men. (I can't think of ANY guy who wanted a family and never got one in the end, actually.) Maybe you just need to wait until you're a bit older or something. Though on the good news side, you're a guy and don't have MY EGGS ARE ROTTING going on top of that, so your chances of having a family won't die off forever like it will for the other half of the population. I believe that you can and will get what you want at some point.
posted by jenfullmoon at 12:12 PM on September 7, 2014 [3 favorites]

Hey. Former hot/cold girl here, dated lots of guys like you, ran away from them all, but not before confusing the heck out of them, I'm sure. I would have won at red flag bingo. (Let's make that a thing!)

I was attracted to: their stability, their safety, them liking me so much, they wouldn't challenge me and to a degree they let me dictate terms. Also I wanted to settle down but parts of their openness scared me and brought up other, deeper unresolved issues.

I left because: deep inside I didn't like not being in an equal partnership, I wanted someone to call me on my crap. One guy did call me on my crap and I wasn't ready for it, and I ran away again. (He was also fairly clingy but that's a separate story.) Also I was just unstable inside. I met some very good people but ran away from them too.

If you are consistently attracting these kinds of ladies, there is a piece of your emotional make-up that matches with hers. You will need to find and heal those pieces. Based on what you wrote I can't guess what it would be. In my case I suspect the guys kind of wanted someone controlling. Subconsciously of course. Like they weren't comfortable with their own power. Yeah, actually, a lot of it did come down to boundaries and control issues.

Therapy helped me out enormously and it may help you out too. You don't have to commit to going for years, and it is not weird to go to therapy for this kind of thing. If your relationships aren't working as you'd like, therapy can be helpful. Good luck.
posted by serenity soonish at 2:43 PM on September 10, 2014 [3 favorites]

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