Stop Wasting Your Time Looking For Mr. Right

A single woman recently wrote me this:

What do guys want? I’m an intelligent, good-hearted woman with a lot to offer any man. But all the men I meet seem to have some sort of congenital aversion to commitment—to settling down, getting serious, getting married. But isn’t that the best life has to offer — finding that special someone, falling in love, getting married, settling down, having children, growing old together? Don’t men want that, too? If so, how do they think they’re going to get that, if they’re not willing to commit to a relationship?

Though of course we’re talking here about a world of variables, one enduring, universal truth is that men find unappealing in women the same thing women find unappealing in men: Neediness. No one is attracted to the emotionally needy. (No one whom anyone would want attracted to them, anyway: there are always cretins out there looking for weaker persons to prey upon.)

Any woman who is frustrated by how reticent the men she dates seem to be about getting involved with her in a serious relationship would do well to consider the possibility that she’s too clearly communicating to those men that she wants them to get involved with her in a serious relationship. Because if that is what she’s doing, she’s blowing it. It’s like screaming at a cat to come to you: it’s certain to instead run away.

The woman who is putting off vibes that she’s looking for a committed relationship might as well hang a sign around her neck that says, ‘Desperate! Please Help! Please save me! At Least Compliment My Hair!’

No one is attracted to someone who is clearly looking for anyone.

The bottom line is this: You can’t live your life waiting for a man to make your life. Feeling that a man will complete your life is the one thing guaranteed to keep a good man from being attracted to you. Because inseparable from the message, “A man would complete me” is “I’m incomplete.” And to signal “I’m incomplete” is to signal, “I’m a loser who doesn’t like herself.”

Not exactly catnip. If you don’t like yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

Consciously and purposefully looking for Mr. Right can only mean that you think that you are Miss Wrong.

My advice is to forget Mr. Right. Just stop searching for him. Instead, start thinking of yourself as Miss Perfectly Fine By Herself, Thank You Very Much. Because in truth that’s who you are. And if that not who you are, make it who you are. Become perfectly fine with yourself. Make your own life. Be whole, independent, happy, productive, active, physically fit, interested in stuff. Do stuff.

In short, commit to yourself before worrying about anyone else committing to you. Live your life; and let Mr. Right find you. And he will. Nothing attracts a man more than a woman who doesn’t need him. Confidence is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

Life is one big paradox. And one of its biggest is that the only way to find Mr. Right is to genuinely and truly stop looking for him.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Aaron

    preach it brother!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      You know, I think I will!

      If anyone would like me to come to their church or social gathering to yak about why single women shouldn't look for men, lemme know! I'm cheap! I also promise to include in my talk up to THREE jokes that people are up to 45% guaranteed to laugh at. Call today!

  • http://robinjester.wordpress.com robinjester

    i always tell my girlfriends that if a guy says i dont want a relationship right now, he really means i dont want a relationship WITH YOU right now. every single man is looking for the same thing except most of them (huge generalizations always fail us <— ) dont know what they want til they see it/her staring back at him. more women should adopt this attitude of i'll know it when i see it instead of searching high and low for it. this coming from a single woman in her (now) upper 30s who spent most of her 20s and 30s saying no to mr right.

    i equate this to finding a dress or a pair of shoes, as gender appropriate as you get. if you are looking for something specific and need it, let's say, tonight by 7pm, chances are you will freak. but if you casually are shopping and find something lovely without even really trying, it is a sweet sweet victory. or something like that.

    • Argy-bargy

      Unless you ABSOLUTELY need that pair of shoes by 7 pm, in which case you may freak…er, I mean wistfully realize that the lovely pair of shoes you were looking for will just have to wait for another day….

    • http://www.saintfacetious.com saint

      Though girls are on a kind of clock, especially if they want babies. Hence the age range for girls who are freaking out about not being married.

  • http://www.lovecominghome.com christina lewis

    this is really great. and so true. well said.

  • http://leighannnapier.com Leigh Ann Napier

    Love this John!

    Yes, we MUST be happy with ourselves BEFORE we add anyone else to our identity. Take advantage of the single time to really live into what you enjoy and what you want to be more about. Single women/ married women/ teenagers/ tweens…we're all wonderful! But we may just not all know it yet.

  • Tanager

    Well, there are some good points in this post. But what's missing is a very important reason women look for commitment from men: you're wandering, sex-obsessed apes most of the time who can hardly be trusted not to be salivating after some bimbo's melons when you're 90 years old and married for 50 years.

    And careful on what you counsel: I've attained "Miss Perfectly Fine By Herself, Thank You" status and discovered I'm complete enough to take my hawwwt self right off the market ;-)

    If no one is attracted to someone looking for someone, why does anybody do the bar scene or the club scene? Or is that only someone looking for someone for one night? I mean, maybe it is.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      "Men are wandering, self-obsessed apes."

      Gosh, you do sound like a fun date.

      ;-)

      • Argy-bargy

        Yeah, I think the key is to appear like you're off the market while scanning your surroundings using peripheral vision because unless you really are off the market, you're not. Personally, I don't have very good peripheral vision, which puts me at a disadvantage. I think. Unless I'm not supposed to look like I'm looking.

        See John, now you've got me thoroughly confuzzled.

        • amelia

          That's it!!! One of my best friends in college (who happens to be a guy) told me that his strategy for attracting someone was to "act like and a**hole" and for some reason, it worked!

          As for being totally happy and single, you got it. I'm living where I want to live, doing what I want to do and basically enjoying every day as it happens; grateful to God for all of it, too. :)

          Do you have any advice for the guys, Mr. Shore, or is it only women who seem to be the "needy" ones on this blog? heh, heh, heh. ;)

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          Like the scene in the 40-Year Old Virgin?

      • Tanager

        Hey, maybe you’re the exception, John, since you read “SELF-obsessed apes” instead of what I actually wrote, which was “SEX-obsessed apes.” So apparently you are not obsessed about sex! On the other hand, perhaps you’re obsessed about self? Heh.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          I was moving/quoting too quickly, for sure. But calling men "sex-obsessed apes" is certainly no less an insult than calling them "self-obsessed apes." Men are just as interested in establishing loving, long-term, monogamous relationships as women are.

          • Tanager

            I never said they weren’t, John. This comment was a bit of a snark rather than truly serious, but any man – even the loving, honest, open, caring, married ones – will pretty readily admit they can’t help themselves; they love sex and think about it a lot. So the guy can be a jerk and obsessed with sex, or he can be fabulous…and still stuck with the obsession! And maybe obsession is the wrong word for “I love it want it and it’s really hard not to think about it a lot of the time.”

          • Jill

            I believe, in your last sentence, you could have left off the "not to think about it all the time." part. Snork.

          • Tanager

            I said "a lot of the time" not "all the time." That's the second time today someone has made an unconscious substitution!

          • Tanager

            Oh wait. Ha!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Isn't this genetic? It feels as though you're implying it's a dimension of character when from what I understand of men (which is about .002%), it's a fairly instinctive impulse.

            I certainly don't excuse the crappy character that results in thinking about sex all the time. I'd also offer that women will use sex as a means of getting what they want as well.

          • Tanager

            I'd agree with your second paragraph, DR, in many cases. I certainly learned that "my man" treated me much better when he was "satisfied" – so I "used it" to get what I wanted, in the sense that I wanted to be treated kindly and with love and affection. Married women will tell you there is a noticeable difference in the demeanor and behavior of their husbands when their needs are met in this way.

            It's not always about "I want a new pair of shoes," although I'm sure sometimes it is.

    • Ace

      Yea, it's funny, I decided at a young age (around high school) that I had little use for "romance" and "relationships" and bizarrely enough, I do not have men flocking around me despite not paying a great deal of attention them in most settings.

      I think the real thing is that what a lot of guys want in a woman is basically just something they can kick against their ego, and I have no patience for that sort of thing. If you can't pander to a guy's sense of his own superiority, then he's not much interested.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        “If you can’t pander to a guy’s sense of his own superiority, then he’s not much interested.”

        Wow. That’s … some harsh opinion.

        • Ace

          Based on personal experience, so YMMV. I'm sure women can be exactly the same, but I've never tried to have a romantic or sexual relationship with one so I can't say.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      Men are sex-obsessed apes? I feel like I've read this somewhere. Perhaps during my stay in the Embittered Women's Shelter, maybe it was a placard on the wall.

    • http://none Don Rappe

      Why are you calling that sweet young granddaughter a bimbo?

  • Elizabeth

    John Shore, get out of my head! Last night I watched a man literally scream at a cat to come to him, and you're right, it's the perfect analogy for this.

    Of course, you can never go wrong by complimenting a woman's hair. Even a confident one.

    • Argy-bargy

      True dat.

  • Berkshire

    Great post, and I agree.

    There's one part that puzzles me, though. That bit about men being attracted to women who don't need them. I think that might be true, but at the same time, don't we always hear about how men need to feel needed? I've even known of men who left relationships because they didn't feel like the woman needed them.

    Perhaps its a matter of degrees–nothing wrong with wanting to feel needed. But maybe one can take it to a not-so-healthy extreme?

    And as an aside, if you find yourself in a desperate rut of waiting for Mr Right, if you have the means, I highly recommend travel.

    Go someplace new, see new things, think new thoughts, and see yourself in a new light. Shake things up. If it's a country where you don't speak the language, so much the better (though, do learn how to ask where the nearest bathroom is). Observe yourself in challenging situations, and see what you can do, how you can triumph–or laugh about it when you don't. Feel fresh and new and good about yourself. It's contagious.

    And if you don't have the means, start saving, even if it takes a long time. You might find it a more satisfying goal than finding the "perfect" man.

    • Liz

      You are so right.

  • Argy-bargy

    Although there is nothing funnier/more tragic/rich-material-for-a-formulaic-romantic-comedy than TWO needy people freaking each other out (unless they plunge into a mutually and self-destructive relationship).

    Uh…so I've heard. *ahem*

  • Gina Powers

    I'ma 'bout to get myself in trou-ble….1) John, I love ya to pieces…mostly. ;). 2) Please also to keep in mind, though, that for MANY of us, being single was a HORRID STRUGGLE, and it may not be as easy to quickly adopt the (albeit, very mature) mindset you've recommended here…just sayin'. 3) Regardless, still a very well-thought and helpful post, and it's highly appreciated. Again, just for some of us who barely survived the hell that is singleness (I think it's probably easier to deal with depending on where you are geographically, too….but that's another story), it can be pretty hella painful. But it's cool to know you've got our back…..so to speak! :)

    • Tanager

      Well…..I think it's counter-productive to adopt the mindset of "the hell of singleness." Maybe it is a hell for you. It's not for me. Why the difference? Part of it must be our attitudes towards it, don't you think?

      There was a time when I "wanted" someone. Then a time when I thought I "should" be in a relationship (so many people are, and so many of them seem to be having a good time, right?). Then I started being with me and finding out what I enjoyed just for myself, usually small things. And I gradually realized that I no longer "wanted" someone for any wrong reason (like: I'm a failure without a man, I'm getting old and no one will want me soon, everyone else is doing it, I look like a loser, it's not normal to be single, blah blah blah.) And I also realized there is no "should" either, and I no longer allow such self-defeating thoughts into my mind.

      Once I left all that behind, a great relationship surprised me. It didn't last, but the gentleman is a lifelong friend now, which was worth it. That was more than three years ago. I haven't been in hell because I'm not "alone" – I may not have a big network of friends but I have my own company and while I have flaws I don't hate myself or hanging out with me (and the cat, books, coffee, and crazy bloggers.)

      So, you were just sayin' and I'm just sayin'. Just some thoughts.

      • Ace

        We live in a society that tells people romance and marriage is the be-all, end-all of human relationships and if you aren’t attached to someone else at the hip, you’re going to die a lonely miserable loser that nobody loves or cares about.

        It’s crap, but that’s the culture we live in.

        Unfortunately I think it does breed a sort of desperation, in men and women, and can even sour actual marriages and relationships because the “hype” has been so built up that it’s bound to be a let-down when it turns out that your “soul mate” can’t magically solve every little problem in your life.

        The “romance” fairy tale is one that really just needs to die.

        • Tanager

          In agree, Ace – it's a story that has sold for centuries, of course, and it's generally in every novel, on the cover of every magazine, and a part (if not the heart) of most films and television. And most of those mediums leave out the "work" part of a relationship (except in the crisis moment, which always resolves itself beautifully.)

          A lot of people seem to figure it out, though, and manage to buck the illusion. And that's encouraging. At least I think so :-)

          • Ace

            I don’t know about centuries. It seems to be a more modern invention, actually. Marriages used to be arranged (and still are in more traditional societies), or at least people had a limited choice and needed parental consent, especially young women, to whom they were allowed to marry. Marriage was mostly a political/economical/child-rearing institution, not “finding your soul mate”.

            For example, the reason “Romeo & Juliet” was such great drama was the idea of people choosing their own spouse, against the wishes of their family, was absolutely scandalous at the time.

          • Tanager

            I'd go with centuries. Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere…these romantic stories are certainly centuries old. True, they are both about forbidden love :-) But that's an equivalent of "love in the face of overwhelming odds" for those cultures, since they didn't have to deal with "he's with the FBI but she's a Russian spy" or "they met anonymously over the internet and now much find each other in the real world" or some such. Idealizing romantic loves goes way, way back. Even if marriages were arranged and more business than pleasure.

          • Ace

            It was generally seen as something exceptional and unusual, though. Not the norm, and certainly not something everyone MUST attain before they die, or they’re a failure of a human being.

          • Argy-bargy

            …”the reason “Romeo & Juliet” was such great drama was the idea of people choosing their own spouse, against the wishes of their family, was absolutely scandalous at the time.”

            And tragically disastrous to boot. Which may have been the point, I wonder. “Don’t chase after true love…you will find only death.”

            Boy, I’m cheery today.

          • Ace

            You're welcome to come sit at the "Cynics'R'Us" table with me.

            We have cookies! :D

          • Argy-bargy

            Well, it you truly are a franchisee of "Cynics'R'Us" then you won't mind me biting the hand that feeds me!

            :-D

          • Ace

            Fine, though I must advise you that I DO bite back.

          • Argy-bargy

            I would fully expect it to be so….

            Makes me wonder if there are any vegetarian cynics, though?

        • Diana

          This, I buy!

      • Gina Powers

        Tanager, can we still be friends? ;) Counter-productive it may be for me to have garnered such a negative perspective on singleness when I was single (happily, I’ve been hitched for nine years now–and I do so treasure being married!), but that was my reality…for a whole bunch of reasons, including my own personal wiring. I am very glad that you are not having the same experience! I do understand that my life experiences will not be the same as others in this regard, and that’s fine. Good for you for cultivating a great life regardless of who is or is not in it! VERY cool. :)

        • Tanager

          Of course, Gina! I know that's the reality for a lot of people. I had a hard time with singleness myself, but not for very long for whatever reason. And I recognize that I'm a very self-reliant/centered person so I've become OK with my own company. I had to get OK with my head and heart, or I'd have died trying to drink them both away, to be honest.

          I also recognize that one day things may change for me, and I may yearn for companionship and have great trouble with being single. I'll just have to take that one day at a time, too, should it happen :-)

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I didn’t actually say it was easy to achieve true independence. I was careful not to.

      • Gina Powers

        Nono, I know you didn't John…..and remember what I put as the first entry of my post! ;) Love you, bro!

  • http://robinjester.wordpress.com robinjester

    thanks for saying that Gina Powers.

    even as a christian woman, i applaud sex and the city series for their portrayal of single women and how much of a rollercoaster it really is. and even as someone who does not espouse sex before marriage (ahem) i related to all of it so much. but all in all, the series would also agree with mr shore, believe it or not. i have often thought about writing a "christian" version of he's just not that into you… maybe some day.

    ps. you also have to take "advice" from a married man with a certain degree of um you know salt or something.

    • http://robinjester.wordpress.com robinjester

      pps. the funny thing is that we women tend to have the opposite experience – we are attracted by and give (read: waste) our energies to the man who is kind of a loser and desperately needs our help. but that's another blog for another day, eh?

      • Diana

        Some of us. I'm so over that!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      "ps. you also have to take "advice" from a married man with a certain degree of um you know salt or something."

      What nonsense. Being married doesn't mean you can't understand the dynamics involved with being single.

      • Gina Powers

        Yeah, but bud, you got married pretty soon after college, so in all fairness–you didn't have to big of a wait (for sex or otherwise)….and speaking as a formerly single girl who didn't get married till 34, I'm thinking our experiences will vary a good bit. Yes, John, I totally agree, you would understand the dynamics of being single, but do you see what I'm getting at? Hey, in the end–you've got a GREAT, compassionate heart, and that's all that matters.

        I have to go argue with hubby now…..I think today, God is telling me to run under the bed and hide from everybody…:). Love and hugs to alll…..G

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Well, no, I didn't get married right after college. I got married two years after going to college one year. And no, I don't see what you're getting at. People are people. THAT I know.

          • Gina Powers

            Thanks for setting me straight on that….for some reason, I thought it was right after you'd graduated. Don't know where I got that from, but anyway……at the risk of beating a dead horse (bear with me, I'm in a foul mood & out of meds), you're right; people ARE people….however, to disregard our individual perspectives especially in regards to how this culture raises it's men and women to value and attain marriage/opposite sex relationships is a mistake in my opinion. I'm a Christian, Feministe, Borderline Personality-ridden, metal-head dork, who's 43 and living in conservative Central Pennsyvania. You and I (and myself and whomever else) are going to have differring (sp?) perspectives on many things, and that's quite ok. Long as we can work/co-exist with each other and not lob grenades in each other's paths, I think we'll be ok. ;) John, I sense I'm pissing you off and I that certainly is not my intention (nor is it my intention to piss off anyone else here!)….I'm just trying to be honest. Again…at the end of the day, I truly respect your thoughts, and I think you have a great heart. Peace?

          • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

            You’re not pissing me off. But you’re taking me to task for something I simply didn’t do. I didn’t disregarded anybody’s individual perspective. I live in this culture; I understand the messages it sends men and women. I think a woman shouldn’t wait to be made whole by Mr. Right. That’s … what I said. That’s what I mean. That’s why I wrote it.

          • Gina Powers

            Oh no, I never meant to take you to task at all–I’m sorry! No no, I was just adding my two cents, or at least, that was my original intent. I do love the fact that you embrace the perspective of a woman not waiting to be made whole by “Mr. Right”–my initial intention was just to say that sometimes that’s not easy, and BOY, did I struggle with that….I SO wish I had been more willing to let myself be at peace with my singleness at the time. Sure would have saved me BIG time booze/therapy bills! ;)

            And not to derail, but let me ask, where would you suggest or should I say, HOW would you suggest to someone (like me, back in the day, who found hated being single so much) to turn to God about this–to make their faith work for them? ‘Cause I’ll admit, I totally failed on that one….thus, the liquor store and therapy bills! :)

        • DR

          Some of the best relationship advice I've experienced has been from a priest. Empathy does not always depend on direct experience. Matters of the heart, loneliness, and intimacy seem pretty universal at their root.

    • Gina Powers

      LOL…true dat, Robinjester!

  • Tim

    I know I'm splitting hairs, but in the second to last paragraph it says, "Live your life; and let Mr. Right come looking for you." If Mr. Right has gone LOOKING for Ms. Right, isn't HE projecting the same incomplete and needy signal that women avoid? I think when BOTH potential mates are living as fulfilled a life they can muster often end up in similar circles. Birds of a feather. They often come together without any purpose or orchestration. God can't steer a parked car 'n'all.

    I attended my church's singles fellowship once….ONCE!

    The desperation was so terribly palpable, I could actually hear the ticking of two dozen biological clocks over the tapping of another two dozen plastic binders bouncing nervously on the knees of the sexually tense. Yikes!!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I'm glad you called my attention to that, Tim. I thought I had changed that (before I published it) to "Let Mr. Right find you." So now I'll go make that change. Good eyes/brain!

    • amelia

      For that very reason I avoided going to any of the singles fellowship events at my former church. I just felt my participation in something specifically planned due to my “singleness” wasn’t going to be spontaneous, fun or without all that ‘I really know why you’re here’ baggage. So, I’ve just hung out with my family and friends up here in the moutains and do what I love doing. I think it would be so great to meet someone who loves doing the same stuff I do, loves God and people and has an open mind about a lot. I think the beautiful thing about this part of my journey is that God is saying,” let me take over for awhile.” It’s faith that He knows what’s best for me. :)

    • Argy-bargy

      “God can’t steer a parked car ‘n’all.”

      LOVE IT! (Now, where did I put my car keys?)

  • Tammy

    The converse is true as well. When a woman knows he's not Mr Right, and resists getting involved with him in a serious relationship, he becomes desperate. Not a pretty picture. Do men have biological clocks?

    • Tim

      Maybe I'm muy metro, but I say yes.

      I was 36 when I committed in my heart to be with someone for the rest of my life. Wanting children was a big part of that decision. The good Lord saw fit to match me up with a much younger wife. She was and continues to be the love of my life. We had two beautiful kids together. A daughter and a son (now 15 and 13). Sadly, due to chronic depression that went undiagnosed in me for too many years, she fell out of love with me and went shopping for a guy not suffering from Low T.

      In my case…at my age, I'm unsure if there is another Ms. right. Besides my biological clock was stopped when I got a vasectomy to spare my wife a lifetime of birth control. Little did I know what was happening to me. God knew, and my soul is still on the mend. Each day a bit of that tragedy gives way to a little reverie, a little reverie blends into a little harmony. All things can work together—"if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…If you can fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run- Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, and – which is more- you'll be a Man my son!

  • Kim de Geus

    John, you have hit the perverbial nail on the head. I read this post to my husband, because it dead-on communicates the way we both live our lives (both before and after we became a couple). I'm going to show this to my teenagers. It explains the concept of loving oneself perfectly. Thanks for a great post!

  • Argy-bargy

    John, where would you draw the line between *desiring* a relationship and *needing* a relationship? In my experience, it's hard to tell with others from the outside and hard to tell within myself because I don't always trust my motives are pure.

    And, it would seem that if you shouldn't *look* for a relationship, the only option is to let it find you. Very Buddhist, if I may say. Let go of your earthly desires, and all.

  • Elizabeth

    Sorry for the interruption.

    Listen, I'm good with alone. I'm an only child of only children. Alone is home for me. I like eating out alone, going to the movies alone. I travelled Europe by myself for 6 months. My body actually demands a certain degree of solitude. I find myself getting irrationally irritable if I don't get the occasional ten minutes of down time.

    I think I'm pretty well-adjusted that way. I think I do a decent job of living up your description of Miss Perfectly Fine By Herself.

    I fight the good fight, to keep my mind and heart open, to not go looking for something outside myself to complete me. But if I were ever to be blessed with a daughter, I'm not sure I would give her this advice. The truth is that the existential weariness that comes from never being recognized, never being "seen" with love, is worse than anything else I've ever felt.

    I keep peeling the callus off my soul, and every time it's bloody and every time it hurts. I would not wish this life for someone else.

  • http://mikecrowlsscribblepad.blogspot.com/ Mike Crowl

    Sorry, John, but I think you're wrong in a lot of what you write here. The sex factor IS a big issue for guys, but it's not the whole of life.

    Human beings certainly need solitude, as one of the people comments, but not ALL the time. We're made for community, and one of the earliest statements in the bible is that 'it's not good for man (or woman) to be alone.' It's unhealthy. It may seem fine when you've got the world at your feet and doing your own thing is all you want to do. I don't think that lasts. Having no one else with whom you can trust your deepest thoughts is a very lonely place to be. One of the great joys of a long marriage (mine's 'only' 37 years so far) is that your instincts about the other person grow; you learn to listen; you know that if you really have to let loose with your deepest emotions that person will cope, and much more.

    When I look at the single men who live in boarding houses around my city, and see the sadness and loneliness of their lives, and the way in which they go downhill much more quickly than married men, I can't help but think that being alone isn't much of a place to be.

    Maybe women think differently about this – somehow I doubt it – but I know that even though I'm not one of the world's tough guys, not particularly macho in any respect, my wife still finds a great security in knowing I'm around. And equally, I find great security in knowing she's around.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      "Sorry, John, but I think you’re wrong in a lot of what you write here. The sex factor IS a big issue for guys, but it’s not the whole of life."

      I didn't say anything about "the sex factor" being a big issue for guys.

      • http://mikecrowlsscribblepad.blogspot.com/ Mike Crowl

        Neither you did….maybe it was another recent post! Or just something that one of the other people commented…..

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I've been married. I'm in my mid 40's and single now. While the desire to seek someone to date can be tempting, I know in my heart that the best thing I can do right now is enjoy the life I have. There very well may be a man in my life somewhere down the road, but I'd rather be truly happy by myself doing the things I love than to settle for someone who's not right for me. I've already been there and frankly the end result wasn't pretty.

    You give good advice. I think its true that someone who comes across as needy and desperate is going to repel potential good partners, simply because someone who is balanced and has good self esteem is going to steer clear of the desperation.

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    Oddly, I've been writing about this a little. It's hard. This is a very vulnerable area for a lot of people for a variety of reasons. I'm going to suggest that it's a bit harder for women, though I've nothing to back that up except dealing with the cultural understanding that women who are older and single is unlike the, "Oh, he's just a bachelor" experience. Men can be given a pass for being single where for women, it often means something is wrong with you. And honestly, maybe something is with some of us? I don't know. It's hard to say that, but it's a possibility.

    It takes a really long time to understand that need is not love; nor is pity. And wrestling with this need to be loved – validated even – by someone who says "You are it. You're enough. You're the one who is special enough to be with me forever. I'm choosing you." It's a need that is unlike a lot of others and it sucks if one is committed to really facing it.

    Slowly separating all of the emotions that accompany the sadness and fear and for some, shame that comes from being single is a very delicate business. Sometimes it's anger or bitterness. A low view of men in general can emerge. Sometimes a driven pace in other areas of our lives. For me, it can be "bag lady syndrome", that late night fear that no one is going to take care of me.

    For me, emotional maturity means I can be a lot of things at the same time. I can be sad that I'm single. I can want the romance. I can hope for it while at the same time, pragmatically realizing that as an older woman my chances of all of that are fairly slim. I can long for it in limited doses if I need to. For me, this is the place where I get to practice actually grieving something that I want, but for whatever reason, I've not gotten. It's where God becomes a lot more difficult to believe in and love and trust. But it's also the place where He becomes bigger than the cosmic something that gives me everything I want. Where false hope is something other than postponed grief. Where I really am fine a lot of the time. Good even. Where I'm tempted to settle for someone who likes me an awful lot, but doesn't really love me and frankly, I don't love.

    The desire to be chosen and to love someone enough to choose them is really important for some of us. But in my more Zen moments, I realize that loneliness is simply the human condition. And that companionship and intimacy are for the taking and to go create both for myself. And perhaps love is around the corner, but waiting for it means standing still. Life is too short for that.

    • Tanager

      Beautifully said, DR. And you're right; it's different for women. So many things tell us to be young and sexy or we're toast (even if we're not young anymore; cosmetic surgery anyone? Or any one – or ten – of those $100 and ounce bottles of cream or serum or magic anti-aging goo? Hair dye?). And we have to stay that way, because it's OK for a man to be 65 and graying and have a wife/girlfriend who looks 25 years old. We all know what the reverse situation looks like.

      So sometimes it's hard to be happy with ourselves and comfortable in our singleness. I'm OK with mine, for the most part. If I wished for anything it would be the *desire* for companionship, because a lot of times it looks like a very fine thing :-)

      So I can dream about it to, without going out looking for it. Or waiting for it. And take each day as it comes and take what it has to offer.

      • Gina Powers

        Beautifully put by both DR and Tanager! Some really cool thoughts on this today! I wish I'd known everyone here when I was a singleton!

  • Elizabeth

    Oh, John. I'm sorry for being unclear. The reason I wrote that this post was one for the record books is because I believe it is the first time I've ever disagreed with you. THAT record.

    And I was very careful not to state that you CAN'T understand this situation. I hold your capabilities in very high esteem. Only that I was unsure that you had. That's all. I'm not sure.

    You make an excellent point regarding the comparison to 6-year-olds, but in doing so I think you open up a different issue. 6-year-olds pretty much say the truth. They haven't learned a complex set of acceptable poses and responses yet.

    You can't say the same thing about talking to adults, especially about love and sex. You may talk to them all the time, but are you getting the real scoop? The blackest fears and doubts they have? Their most foolish hopes and embarrassing mistakes? Can most adults even admit the truth of their feelings to themselves? Maybe on the bathroom floor at 4 AM one night a year. And that's assuming they even want to.

    (For the record, I don't put you in this category. From what I've read, you may be the most self-aware person I know.)

    I don't think that disconnect between what people say and what they really feel is a flaw in your perception, or even an intentional choice of theirs. I just trust that when 6-year-old tells me he loves me, he's saying exactly what he feels. I don't have that same confidence when an adult says it.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Six-year-olds don't or can't lie? I shouldn't trust in the communications I have with my friends and loved ones? Yikes. We do live in different worlds.

      • Tanager

        Uh, I don't think saying "6-year-olds pretty much say the truth. They haven’t learned a complex set of acceptable poses and responses yet" isn't really the same as "sex year-olds don't or can't lie." Of course they lie. When they write on the wall or try the dog's food or say sure Mom, I brushed my teeth, they can tell a lie. But, they're generally terrible at it. And if they are making an actual habit of it? ::shudder::

        No, they may lie to cover their cute little bottoms, and they may lie a bit in a manipulative way to get that new toy…but it's not a complex, multi-leveled ruse. And they generally don't lie about how they feel – perfectly happy to tell you ALL about how they're feeling!

        So, I don't think that's what Elizabeth was saying.

        • Tanager

          Gah, "is" really the same. I gotta get used to this new keyboard.

  • onemansbeliefs

    John, you are spot on with your advice…

    The Mrs. and I are good examples of what you've written. We got married in our 30's and it was the first for both of us. She had a number of bad relationships and I couldn't get the time of day from the fairer sex. However, we both had one thing in common. We decided that if we never met that special someone, we would be happy. It was shortly after we made this decision we found each other.

    This attitude helped us eliminate any pressure which would have been present by "needing" a relationship…

  • Elizabeth

    John: Of course I'm not saying to distrust your communications with your loved ones. Quite the opposite. I am happy that you have people for whom you care, who care for you and who have earned your trust. Not everyone does.

    I live in a big city with a lot of other "out-of-towners". I live far away from almost all my friends and family. My workplaces stop and start and change regularly because I freelance in a volatile field. I even went through 2 vicars with whom I was close before I finally drifted away with the third.

    (So you know I'm not being overly dramatic, those 3 vicars were over a period of less than 5 years. A stint at the Cathedral is a career-maker, so the diocese tries to spread the honor around. Very practical and morally fair. The result, though, is that I have relationships with milk cartons that last almost as long.)

    My point is that, without the structured intimacy of school, it becomes much harder to make the kind of contact with others that might grow into friendship or love. Communications with others never get that far.

    As I age, this trend gets more pronounced. People fall in love and/or get married, and they find they have more in common with other in-love/married people. Those of us still out in the "dating pool" find ourselves increasingly surrounded by "hard cases", others who are damaged or damaging, or who dull their loneliness the ways I listed earlier. People settle for less. They give up. Or they harden their hearts to the point that, even if love found them, it couldn't find a way in.

    I know I must stay healthy and self-reliant and open and caring. I'm simply overwhelmed by my isolation in this sea of hardness. I make myself have hope, but it is an increasingly abstract distinction to make. I find myself as far or farther from that place where people trust when they hear, I love you.

    In that way, despite our morals, our intellects, or our ultimate faith in a bigger picture, you and I do live in very different worlds. That is exactly what I was not sure you understood.

    • ICanEmpathize

      @Elizabeth First, I just wanted to say you communicate quite well. So, bravo. Second, I can empathize with so much of what you said, and I'm a man. Meeting quality people is hard. Meeting people you connect with on several levels in incredibly hard. Levels being intellectual curiosity, attraction, life priorities and passions, etc… I wouldn't wish single life on anyone. My heart longs, physically aches even, every day to share this incredible world and all of the special little moments with another human being. Relationship, intimacy. My soul cries out for them. To give my all. As I get older, and see my dreams of ever being married and being a dad fade away, I wonder how much longer I can even go on living. Falling on my face, begging God for help. I've certainly let a few good ones get away in my younger years while I was swept up in love with that one who knocked me out, who then just ended up marrying for money. Navigating the dating world can be brutal.

      But this blogger's suggestion of becoming "Miss Perfectly Fine By Herself" is nothing more a facade, and a bunch of crap. My advice is be real, but become a better person. Demonstrate inner qualities that will attract someone. Like volunteering with people in need or communicating with kindness and patience. Never demand or feel entitled. Show humility. Show passion. These are things real men look for. Those who don't appreciate those things, would be miserable being married to.

      But nobody should ever be content with being alone. We are designed for companionship. Let me tell you, I've seen some spectacular things in my life, the sun rising blood red over the Red Sea, or a two-story tall giraffe emerging from the trees gliding right by me on safari… it's a long list, and it's a list I lived alone, and in absolutely every one of those moments, I can promise you one thing. They ALL would have been better if shared with another human being. If anything to say, hey, isn't that amazing.

      Life is full of a million moments worth cherishing. And it's too short to live pretending.

      • http://mikecrowlsscribblepad.blogspot.com/ Mike Crowl

        Agree with every word, bro!

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        "I wouldn’t wish single life on anyone." "My heart longs, physically aches even, every day to share this incredible world and all of the special little moments with another." "My soul cries out for relationship and intimacy." "I want to give my all to another." And yet, somehow, you've remained single.

        And I'm the one writing crap.

        • ICanEmpathize

          Yep.

          And yep.

          :)

          Welcome to the complexities of real life that cannot be contained within the confines of a blog post.

  • John Murphy

    Um…yeah, I do not think you are correct here, John. Men are looking for sex. When they get it, what reason for commitment/life/children, etc? As an example, an acquaintance told me that his hobby was “I go find chicks and then I bang them.” He apparently had a sufficient supply of women willing to cooperate. Ladies, I suggest holding off on jumping in the rack until there is commitment. Pretty quaint, eh?

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      John, Tanager (see her comment above). Tanager, John.

      • Tanager

        LOLz you're so right, JohnS – Hey JohnM, wanna Skype?

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          I literally laughed out loud.

  • Elizabeth

    @Tanager: You’re really on today. I’m loving your perspective.

    • Tanager

      Thanks, Elizabeth; I'm not *all* about the snark. And I concur with your view on the hair compliments; such a little thing, really, and if it's messy you can compliment the color…or if that's bad maybe the texture, or length, or something – you can always find something about a woman's hair to compliment and just maybe make her day :-)

  • Elizabeth

    @John Shore: This may be one for the record books, but I’m not sure I buy what you’re saying vis a vis @Gina Powers and @robinjester. I am in awe of your skills of empathy and understanding. Marriage does NOT preclude you from having insight into singlehood. People ARE people.

    But 30 years of marriage, and the exceptional quality of your described marriage, cannot help but affect your perspective. I think I might take it with a grain of salt.

    For example, I’m smart and empathetic, and I was a six-year old once. But I would not confidently assert my total understanding of being a six-year old any more. Thirty years have passed. Much is probably the same, but some things are probably different. Society’s mores, especially on love and sex, aren’t static.

    I read your touching account of your first encounter with Cat. I read the glowing comments others made afterwards, and their own descriptions of meeting their spouses, often in college. My own most important relationship with a man thus far started in college. I’m down with you as far as that goes.

    But the experience of dating changes a lot after college. It becomes much harder to make platonic friends, much less meet true loves. I don’t know if you really get that. Your statement, I didn’t get married for two years after going to college, highlights it. It sounds like a kid insisting he’s twelve “and a half”. Only someone that young, or that out-of-touch, would think that a significantly different span of time.

    Eventually, people stop wearing their hearts on their sleeves. They lose touch with the thrill of finding an intellectually and emotionally compatible mate, and start replacing it with something else — alcohol, drugs, possessions, fame, sex, junk food — instead. No one would claim those things are anything but pale substitutes for the feeling of love, but they’re a whole lot easier to find and more reliable. I never cried over losing a potato chip.

    People’s selves withdraw further and further inside their bodies. They grow callouses on their souls.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I mentioned the timeline of that phase of my life only to make clear that the commenter wasn't actually familiar with it. That's all. And the difference between I, as an adult, saying that I understand the mindset of the single person, and I saying that I understand what it's like to be a six-year-old, is that throughout the course of my adult life I haven't had lots and lots of friends and acquaintances who are six-year-olds, whom I'm forever chatting with about being six years old. Sheesh.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        (Also [and I can't believe I'm even getting drawn into this--but it IS more fun than going grocery shopping, sort of ...], it doesn't make sense to on the one hand assert that my advice is "one for the record books," and on the other assert that I can't know what I'm talking about.)

    • Diana

      "But 30 years of marriage, and the exceptional quality of your described marriage, cannot help but affect your perspective. I think I might take it with a grain of salt." See, that actually makes me more inclined to pay attention to what John says. Despite the chaos and pain of his childhood (and Cat's) or maybe because of that chaos and pain–they are the only ones who know for sure–John and Cat have had a really good marriage which has lasted all of these years. Maybe this means John knows something that I don't.

      "But the experience of dating changes a lot after college. It becomes much harder to make platonic friends, much less meet true loves." I think this is true for most people. For me, the relationship thing has never come easily. I'm not sure why. I've pretty much given up on it. I have female friends through my church. Men tend to ignore me or treat me like their little sister. I figure maybe I'm just meant to be romantically alone.

  • Cynino

    Great post. Love your writing John. Was very touched by the posts about your childhood :(. It's just that I have tried and am trying living what this post is about and I know from experience that the theory is much more simplistic than the actual practice. Finding the fine line between desire vs needy, independence vs isolation, strength vs walls, I'm happy by myself vs I won't let myself need you. I guess it 's also seems like telling someone to give up sugar… just stop thinking about it, think about how good you'll feel with out it… so what do you think about? Sugar! Or how about the woman that can't get pregnant… just stop thinking/worrying about it and it will happen. Might be true but does she ever really let go of that desire of her heart? Not likely. Of course, it is good to give everyone one more thing to fail at … that is the Christian thing to do (haha). Just be happy and confident then you'll get your man. I think you could be absolutely right … but how many married people are happy and confident? Certainly not all of them, yet look, here they are married. Hmmmmm.

    @Elizabeth. Wow, that was beautifully put. Really touched me. It is different the older you get. I am 42 and never married. I used to joke about that I skipped my first marriage. Now, I wonder if it is ever going to happen for me at all. There is something to be said about being ready to be in a healthy relationship when we are younger, when there is such a huge potential pool of eligible suitors. Now that I finally feel like I've worked through a lot of my issues and am the most capable as I've ever been to be in a healthy communicative relationship I find that the men I meet and date are not. The hardness you speak of is so prevalent. It seems that so many men (and women) have been hurt in a way that they do not recover. It is so difficult to stay hopeful and open but I know if we don't there will never be a chance to be in a significant relationship.

    "Still, for me, there is all the difference in the world between saying men and women are needy and saying men and women need each other." @Don, that was so well put. Thank you. That summed up pretty well my struggle with the post. BUT WE DO WANT to be in a significant, loving and supportive relationship. I realize that can't be the focus of my life but even as I pursue a career and other friendships it doesn't fufill that deep desire that most people have to have a partner to share life's travels with and to be known and loved. I realize that a lot of married people don't have that either but they still want it as well. I don't think that is being needy, I think that is being human.

  • nelma e.

    My advice?1) Forget about ANY relationship, ever. It is too much unnecessary pain! 2) Get a dog…or two…or seven. They love you MUCH MORE than any human ever will.3) Get closer to God, because while men reject you, God will not.4) Many men are sex addicts. Fact. Their motto is: “Why buy the cow, when they can get the milk for free.”5) Females: stop acting like desperate, clingy, helpless waifs!! Be strong and forget “Mr. Right”…it is indeed a *fairy tale*…except for a few isolated cases. GET REAL!!!!!!

  • Elizabeth

    @Tanager: Thank you for translating me. I anticipated that objection, but I could not express it as well as you did.

  • nelma e.

    Elizabeth wrote: “truth is that the existential weariness that comes from never being recognized, never being “seen” with love, is worse than anything else I’ve ever felt.” *** I am new to this blog, but I recognize (and know) deep hurt. Being alone is often horrible…but we MUST deal with it. I think this blog has opened up a Pandora’s Box of hurt & woundedness. Many, many women have been deeply, tragically and brutally scarred, betrayed, raped, abandoned, rejected…etc. There are no “Christian” men in church. Forget it. Forget those stupid, assinine “singles” meetings. (barf) As for men & sex, iti is a no-brainer. Some men will “mate” with anything…even a hole in the wall. It seems they are possessed by perverted lust spirits. Yes, even “church” guys…even some pastors. It is a huge problem. Please do not hate me for speaking the truth that is obvious. (PS I know some men have been equally hurt, but this is referring to the needy women who chase men.)

  • http://Realbillsf.com Bill williams

    Love the graphic!

    Also the imagery of someone screaming at a cat: “come here!”

  • http://none Don Rappe

    What a great post. What a lot of precious comments, especially the women. So much to learn in them. So much wonderful appropriate heat. Still, for me, there is all the difference in the world between saying men and women are needy and saying men and women need each other. And I don’t think “off the market” is the opposite of either one. Men and women different? Huh! I’m 73 years old and still fertile. That’s more than a little difference. All the young “granddaughters” are attractive.and my problem is to learn how to enjoy this without being a great asshole. We were male and female long before we were human or even mammals. Yet we are created male and female each after our own kind. I doubt that the image of God just popped out at the last evolutionary step. John’s analysis of how things are in the American culture of our time seems very apt. Proverbs has a lot of wisdom about this stuff, especially about how we may sometimes hold a little back about our first feelings so as to not be too scary. (Or so I remember from about 50 years ago when I read them.) The Song of Songs has double meanings doesn’t it? Is this dishonest? Probably to protect the innocent. In my relationships I must either protect the innocent or be a predator. Yet women love good predators. I think it’s a paradox.

    • thereigninglorelai

      Ummm, if you are in your 70s “enjoying” the attractive young granddaughters then you are automatically an asshole. Don’t be that gross guy. Just because you might be physically capable of producing offspring does not make you a catch for young women. You know, when I was 16 my elderly neighbor grabbed my ass when my mother and I took him some brownies. When he died a few years later, I wanted to care but all I could remember was him watching me like a creeper for years and touching me without permission. Just plain nasty.

  • textjunkie

    I gotta admit, when my hubby comments on his failing health and morbidly suggests I'll be single for max of a week after he's dead (yeah, he's morbid), I have thought about how a woman in her mid-forties or early 50s would go out dating again. And I have no idea how I would go about it–the scene is not what it was when I was in my 20s, the opportunities and interactions are completely different, as others pointed out above. (And I've been married almost 20 years, and that definitely warps your style, viewpoint, expectations and memories.) I don't envy anyone who is currently looking.

    That said, I have to agree with John's post, given my memory of how dating works. :) Desperation definitely doesn't work. Best advice I ever got as a teenager was "Don't look for Mr. Right–figure out what Mrs. Right is and try to be that"–NOT in the neurotic sense of pleasing every man you come across, but in the sense of being the best all-round person you can be. Go for the top of Maslow's pyramid. Which is, I think, effectively what John is saying. And what a lot of commenters have said they are doing. It won't counteract the slowly diminishing pool of opportunities, the constant influx of wounded birds into the dating pool, or the calluses that grow with adulthood. But it's not bad advice. ;)

  • Diana

    Same song as what John is singing, different singer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WF_10F7eYRE

  • lilypad

    I could not agree more with Elizabeth. Thanks.

  • Andrew

    Listen to him ladies. He is onto something very good here.

  • Vivian

    I 100% agree with you on this one, John

  • Kim de Geus

    I was trying to figure out what was the best venue for this comment – one where the most people might see it. Hopefully I chose right putting it on the blog itself.

    This post, about truly loving yourself without a man, was inspiring for me, but was wildly life-altering for my 17 year-old daughter. She broke up with a boy she was dating for over a year – you know, the First Love. It’s been months since the actual breakup, but her self-esteem took a serious hit and she’s been struggling with depression since, trying to re-invent herself as an individual.

    The other night, during one of her particularly brutal self-flaggelations, I printed out this post and slid it under her door (she had since closed the door in my face when I became somewhat upset that she was so hard on herself, after trying for nearly an hour, without success, to convince her otherwise.)

    Of course, I realize that as Mom, my words go far with my kids, but sometimes as a parent you could really use the help of another, different voice advising your kids. Well, John, yours turned out to be the one she was ready to hear (when the student is ready the teacher appears), and since she read your post she has quoted it at least twice (“Mom, I don’t want to feel incomplete without a guy. I want to get a job, renew my relationships with my family, and do things that *I* want to do!” OMG – sweet, sweet music to this Mom’s ears.

    Thank you, John, for helping to soothe the bruised self-esteem of a beautiful, blossoming young woman, who is sensitive, intelligent, and insightful beyond her years, to realize that she is, in fact, ALL of these things, whether or not she has a guy in her life telling her so.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      This made me cry a little.

    • http://www.roccocapra.com Rocco

      Thanks for sharing this Kim! Awesome!!

  • beth

    When will we get to read Part II of this Article?

    I was the Miss Perfect, that found Mr. Right, married him, After 19 years with him, turned into Mrs. I Don’t Even Recognize Myself Anymore . Reasons were many and varied, sick parents, career, children. Stress and Fatigue are killers of your soul. And it happened so slowly, I didn’t see it a coming. You get so busy and distracted caring for everyone.

    Still married, working on another title. Don’t know exactly what that will be.

    Remind those youngters-Finding Mr. Right isn’t the Be-All, End- All..Change is the only Constant.

    Oh..and the comment “He completes me, makes me gag”

  • Donna

    Do you post up on your blog or FB or Twitter, your speaking schedule? Just in case I'm in the area your speaking at, I'd love to attend. I find all of what you say very relevant and real.

    Let me know,

    Thanks!

  • Donna

    ooops…. to a grammar expert, I meant…. Just in case I'm in the area YOU ARE speaking at or YOU'RE speaking at!! :-)

  • Sally

    With respect to the author, why is being brave and honest enough to admit you are searching for a relationship also signalling that you are a 'loser' who 'doesn't like herself'? Many people in their late 20 and 30s feel unfulfilled (different to being a loser or not liking yourself) without a parter to share their lives with because they are human. These men and women may have very full lives – career, friends etc,, but they still want a parter to have a relationship with and eventually a family because they are biologically, instinctively drawn towards that. And because they want to be loved and give love. Is there anything self-deprecating about that? Sounds like a courageous aim to me!

    I would like to ask the author – why does wanting one very important thing, mean you are a loser who doesn't like themselves? Why is wanting true love and settling down also saying I can't cope / be happy on my own?

    Why does having or not having a full, interesting life have any bearing on your deeper, inner needs for the companionship and love that can be achieved in a relationship?

    I expect the author and most people who have responded are in total denial and unable to be honest with themselves. That is far more worrying than someone who is brave enough to say I like myself and I have a good life and I am ALSO looking for a relationship.

    Try telling someone in their mid thirties who friends are all married with kids to stop searching for Mr Right? That' is like telling someone of the same age who is unemployed and wants a new job to stop looking. Whereas in either case frantically looking or settling for the first offer isn't ideal, neither is sitting around doing nothing to try fulfil your deepest desires.

  • deadwrite

    Hi Sally – I think what John would like for us to take away from this article is that the most important relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. If this relationship is in need of tending, then we are going to look outside of ourselves for validation, thus resulting in "needy" behavior when pursuing a romantic relationship.

    I don't know how you feel about it, but having an insecure man asking for my reassurance all the time is a major turnoff and is very closely tied into my level of respect for him. We tend to be attracted to self-confidence in others. I've often thought about this phenomenon in people. Pulling back seems to be our natural reaction when someone needs our approval to feel good about themselves. This doesn't create a relationship built on respect, but rather on power.

    I'm so glad you like yourself – you are WAY ahead of the game there. I don't think John would in any way try to dissuade anybody from finding a fulfilling relationship with another person – I think it is his hope to guide us into building a life independent of NEEDING (a distinction from DESIRING) a relationship outside of the one with ourselves.

    When you are happy with who you are and your life as it is (as you have said you are), then you will DRAW Mr. Right to you and won't have to go looking for him. (Stop Looking For Mr. Right). I sincerely wish you the best in drawing your soulmate to you!

  • BrighidRose

    “Commit to yourself before worrying about anyone else committing to you. Live your life; and let Mr. Right find you. And he will. Nothing attracts a man more than a woman who doesn’t need him.”

    Absolute gold :) Once again, your insight amazes me. And points out the entirely obvious but totally overlooked in my life. Thanks :)

  • jaye

    Ok, so I actually AM “miss perfectly fine by herself, Thank you”. and I’m with “deadwright” here:

    ” having an insecure man asking for my reassurance all the time is a major turnoff and is very closely tied into my level of respect for him. We tend to be attracted to self-confidence in others. I’ve often thought about this phenomenon in people. Pulling back seems to be our natural reaction when someone needs our approval to feel good about themselves. This doesn’t create a relationship built on respect, but rather on power.”

    So, while I know with certainty that me and “alone,” are good friends and don’t consider myself incomplete, I still desire a marriage relationship, a home and family, to be a part of my life.

    That said, I spend my time working where God has me. I bought a house and love being hospitable to people who come into my life as colleagues, roommates, friends. My talents and interests are employed fully in this context of singleness. I do stuff, I try things, I travel, I am a constant learner. I do not spend time on dating sites, or on many dates, even, and “don’t waste time–yours and his–dating the wrong person” is my banner cry when it comes to dating advice.

    aaaaaaand…yet, the only men who have expressed any interest to date are the ones whose neediness annoys me to tactical evasive techniques.

    I’m hoping that Mr. Right just hasn’t found me yet. But while I am grateful more every day for the life that I have been given and the choices I have the freedom to make, paradoxically, I still get so tired “doing life” alone. I don’t really have a question, I suppose…just responded to the content of this post. Thanks for the discussion.

  • DR

    My advice is to forget Mr. Right. Just stop searching for him. Instead, start thinking of yourself as Miss Perfectly Fine By Herself, Thank You. Because in truth that’s what you are.>>>

    I’ve read this a few times and I think for the most part, this is really good and wise advice. I do struggle with this part of it, though. Maybe this is just me, but it would be pretending if I thought of myself this way. The real truth of what I see in the mirror is just simply put, I’m great in a lot of ways and I’m also someone that never got chosen and that woman – for whatever reason – actually isn’t perfect as a result. And it’s really hard, it’s really confusing and I struggle with not feeling like crap about that sometimes. I think a lot of single people do who are older.

    Not because I’m holding on to it – I don’t think I am anyway. I think I’m actually doing pretty well in wanting this a lot and coming to terms with it probably not happening for me this late in life. For me, thinking that everything is fine and that I’m normal would not be reality. It’s not.

    In this world, there really isn’t much place for an older, single unmarried woman outside of a professional setting. People for the most part are uncomfortable with us in certain scenarios. There is a point where no one asks if you’re dating anymore which is mortifying (for me). They stop believing in that for us. And things are just really awkward as a result and generally, my choice in that moment is to make things less awkward for them because I feel awkward too.

    To sum, I see the wisdom in this approach. But I think to also be honest about how painful it is and to start grieving a life that you wanted and don’t have is a skill more women (and of course men who are in this situation as well) need to practice more. It’s like a woman who can’t get pregnant – at some point, she stops checking for her period every month.

    Of course surprises can happen at anytime and perhaps I’m just pessimistic, but I kind of wonder if false hope isn’t often, just postponed grief. For me trying to face the terror of “Wow I’m going to be alone forever” and the shame of not being picked – for whatever reason – is what needs to be faced, if only in certain moments. And when those waves pass (and they do), I think the above quote gets to be lived much more artfully and genuinely. At least that’s what I’m hoping for and to date, has been my experience.

  • http://www.roccocapra.com Rocco

    Your point is perfect for men too!! We need to let God complete us so we can be fully ourselves, then, like you said, that’s attractive!

    “…isn’t that the best life has to offer…” God I hope not!!!!

    • Cheez

      I get tired of hearing comments about being complete in God first…as if to say 1) If you ever want God to bless you with a mate, that’s the pre-requisite 2) it implies that all the currently married folks, have it in such order 3) it’s a competition between loving God and a spouse….if my scriptures serve me well, it was God Who said “It is not good for the man to be alone…” so why set us up with a desire you won’t fulfill. We as christians go to God to help us find a partner who can share Him, His way of life, commit our lives, our homes, our families to Him. A heart true to God won’t have it any other way, likewise, a loving God shouldn’t have to keep His people waiting extensively TO THE POINT it becomes frustrating, overbearing etc. and yes, we do have our part in it. I get sick of hearing married folks who have it going on tell singles stuff like God has a plan, it makes me sick! What kind of God puts longings which are clean, healthy and wholesome in the hearts of the creatures HE makes, yet leaves them out to dry? Yeah, The Same One Who ALLOWS all the pain and suffering in the world…go ahead, let me hear it…” God has a plan…”

  • haylestales

    this is excellent. i need to be reminded of because I AM that woman who is living her life, independently, confidently…AND i’ve been manless the entire twenty-eight years of my life. i’m pursuing my dream right now and rockin’ it…unashamedly.

    pause.

    however, it’s only recently that i’ve given myself permission to desire ‘the want’ one day of spending my days with a man. i don’t think ‘the want’ is wrong. i want to love someone, cherish someone and have that mutually returned. i think we all do and i’m happy for the people who have this and are walking it out daily with their partner via marriage and children.

    i think balance is important and it’s okay to admit to yourself (as a single person) you desire companionship…someone who turns you on and reciprocates loyalty/committment. i know one day it will happen. one day.

    thanks for the article, john. i always learn from your pieces. keep going, please.

  • thereigninglorelai

    The idea that any woman who actually wants a committed relationship is somehow not happy with herself as she is, is such a cop out for men. Plenty of women are very content with who they are, but would still like a real relationship in addition. And a family. Perfectly natural things to want. Are men really so infantile that you have to reverse psychologize them into recognizing your worth by playing games? What a sorry state of affairs is The Modern Man.


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