Is It Men That Want The Fairytale Relationship?

Name: Should I Be Smitten
State: TX
Age: 30
Comment: Hi Moxie,

The last time I wrote in, I had just been broken up with after 3 months of dating (Should I be Friends was my moniker). I was a bit flummoxed after the break up and asked for advice. Well, here I am again. I really tried to internalize the advice I got on this site and applied it to my next dating situation, which I’ll describe here…

About a month after the last break up, I started online dating again. I had just turned 30, and for some reason I didn’t handle it well and started to feel this pressure about settling down. I started reading Evan Marc Katz religiously and decided to not put chemistry first in finding a boyfriend. I met a guy and we started dating, and I remained in contact with others and still dated others because I didn’t want to jump into something right away. Said guy and I got along pretty well, had fun together, and he was really smart and funny. The chemistry was not electric but we made up for it with good conversation and an enjoyment of similar interests. He did all the right things-set up dates, texted me but not too much, was thoughtful, listened to me, and did not move anything too quickly. He would tell me he enjoyed spending time with me and overall we had a good time. After about 1.5 mths, he told me he took down his profile and did not consider himself single anymore and I agreed.

Fast forward about a month later, and I was being dumped again! It was almost the exact same conversation I had with the last guy. He thinks I am wonderful but something is missing. I have to say, I didn’t disagree, but I thought it would grow and we got along well so we deserved a fair shot. I told him the only thing I feel really angry about is that I feel misled because he talked about future plans, always made dates, told me he loved spending time with me, asked to exchange Christmas presents. I said “Why would you say and do those things if you had doubts?! I want to know for my own personal education.” And his response: “Because when I am with you I am so happy and have such a great time, but when I am not with you all the doubts creep in. We come so close to fitting perfectly, but we are just not there.” I have no idea what this means. And it is almost exactly word for word what the last guy said. What is going on here? I think that at 3 months there should be doubts! You barely know the person. I am starting to think that it is the guys that want the fairytale, while I was ready to compromise and make a decision based on compatibility.

I guess I am asking: What am I missing here? Should I be smitten at 3 months and not have any doubts? Am I settling if I am not smitten? And are guys wanting to be completely sure at 3 months?

To give some insight into my personality. I am a pretty nice person. My friends say I am the rock of the friend circle. Kind and warm. I’m attractive and like to have fun in the bedroom. And I am upbeat, optimistic and laid back. I try to go with the flow while giving fun suggestions about stuff to do. The only thing I may be assertive/aggressive about is my very very liberal views. We never fought and always had a nice time with one another. Hope that helps!

ETA: I asked Smitten a few follow up questions. Here’s what she added:

Also, this may help. He is 36 and his longest relationship has been 6 months. Maybe this should have been a big red flag to me……We dated for about 1.5 mths after we slept together. Also, this may help. He is not a player by any means. He is kind of a big dork. But I like dorky guys and know plenty so that doesn’t bother me. He said the last time he had slept with a girl had been two years prior to me and they had dated for 6 months and he hadn’t dated or slept with anyone since. I asked why. And he said he just hadn’t really met anyone…..

 

I have no idea what this means.

Yes, you do. He’s expressing what you were feeling. He didn’t feel any chemistry. He gave it a few months. It didn’t work. He left. There really isn’t much to analyze here.

I guess I am asking: What am I missing here? Should I be smitten at 3 months and not have any doubts? Am I settling if I am not smitten? And are guys wanting to be completely sure at 3 months?

Yes, guys want to be really sure that there’s a basic attraction and compatibility before they commit. You have to give this guy credit. He appears to have genuinely given this a go. I don’ t understand why you’re so befuddled other than he beat you to the punch. You and he felt the exact same thing – no strong attraction. If it’s not there by a couple months in, it’s not going to happen. He cut his losses and moved on.

He did all the right things-set up dates, texted me but not too much, was thoughtful, listened to me, and did not move anything too quickly.

This is why I keep saying that all of this gestures mean nothing. They are done and expressed because men know we expect them to be and because they want things to go well. And they want to get laid. Men and women go through the motions all the time. Hell, we had a letter a couple weeks ago about a guy who went home with his girlfriend for Christmas and then dumped her two weeks later. All of this behavior is about keeping the peace and maintaining simplicity and status quo. That’s it. That’s why you can’t base your level of investment on these actions. With experience, you learn to identify how a relationship is working out.

I am starting to think that it is the guys that want the fairytale, while I was ready to compromise and make a decision based on compatibility.

He could have unrealistic expectations or issues with intimacy.  Or he just really knows what he’s looking for and won’t commit to someone if he doesn’t feel there’s long term potential. 36 year sold, by today’s standards, is fairly young. I know 40somethings who have never dated anybody longer than a few months.It actually makes sense to me that he, and many other men, are not taking commitment lightly. They don’t want to risk locking themselves in to something that could end up ruining them financially or otherwise down the road.

This concept seems to be very foreign to a lot of women. We want to believe that men are all damaged somehow and that’s why they aren’t committing. Meanwhile, even imply that a woman of 36 isn’t married or doesn’t have much long term relationship history is damaged and you’ll have a battle on your hands. “She’s single by choice! She won’t settle! She doesn’t need a man! Societal pressure! Bleeerrrrgg!!”

Everybody has to start acknowledging that relationships are not what they used to be. People also need to stop discounting someone’s ability to form relationships period, not just romantic relationships. If this guy has a stable group of friends, healthy relationship with his family, etc then I doubt his issues are with intimacy or commitment or that he’s emotionally deficient. Somebody choosing not to commit or who doesn’t have a string of (failed) relationships or marriages is no longer considered atypical. Do I think it’s a good sign that his or anybody else’s longest relationship was 6 months or less? No, I don’t. But as you get older, it becomes harder and harder to change that.  Between becoming set in your ways to acknowledging a lack of desire for commitment to just plain never working through your issues, the older you get the more difficult it becomes for someone to commit. That’s why you can’t make sweeping generalizations and have to take each person and evaluate them on a case by case basis.

Yes, you were basing your decisions on compatibility. But it really sounds to me like you’re trying to pound a square peg in to a round hole. Instead of trying to diagnose this guy, just face facts. He didn’t want you. That’s it. That’s all you need to know.

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27 Responses to “Is It Men That Want The Fairytale Relationship?”

  1. Dimplz Says:

    ” Am I settling if I am not smitten? And are guys wanting to be completely sure at 3 months?” I think yes. Based on your story though, you don’t seem as though you were smitten. You just seem to be disappointed and chalk it up to failure. You’re not failing. You’re learning. People used to tell me you will know and I would always say “bullshit,” but if you know when something is not right, then conversely, you will know when it IS right. I know it’s tough because I have been where you are right at this moment. This too, shall pass. Just be patient and don’t take every breakup to be a personal failure on your account. It’s more like a failure to connect. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    • Howard Says:

      I think women look for the fairytale before they even start to get to know the guy. And men look for the fairytale after getting to know the woman well. It may seem like the same behavior, but very different. One is based on assumption, one is based on reality.

      Whatever deficiencies she has, don’t disappear, because she experiments with a no chemistry situation. It’s arrogance really to imagine that because you were magnanimous with requirements related to chemistry, you should be rewarded with commitment.

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      • Joey Giraud Says:

        Yeah. “I’m willing to drop my standards to be with you, so the least you could do in return is commit!

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  2. jaclyn Says:

    Dear OP,

    I am going to write about a cause of relationships failing which may have absolutely nothing to do with you, so please feel free to ignore this comment if it doesn’t apply to you. I just wanted to write this since a lot of people struggling with relationships read this site, and I hope to reach anyone who actually does this.

    From talking to my male friends and watching their interaction with their girlfriends, there is a cause of a relationship failure that I wanted to write about. Sometimes my friends date women who really want to get married and think the easiest way to do so is to always reflect back whatever they think their partner wants. “Oh, you like golf? I love golf too!” “Oh no, honey, whatever restaurant you want would be perfect!” For my male friends, the attention is great for a little while, but after a few months they tell me that they are bored (or realize subconsciously that they don’t really know very much about the woman whom they are dating) and break up with their girlfriends who never have any independent opinions.

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    • DC Phil Says:

      In other words, a doormat. The analogue to a betaized man.

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      • Joey Giraud Says:

        More like a mirror.

        I’ve learned to mirror when interviewing; finding ways to be agreeable without being obvious about it.

        Works great for landing a job, not so good for holding a job. Seems that pretending to be someone else is hard to pull off on a daily basis.

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    • Mandy Says:

      I was just about to say the same thing. I don’t know what specifically in the OP made me think this, but it just reeks of a woman who just wants a boyfriend/husband…not any one specific guy to be her boyfriend/husband. Any good guy will pick up on that after a while. A guy doesn’t want you to be what you think he wants, he wants you to be you. You need to be you, and see if you fit with a guy. Stop worrying so much about what he thinks of you and why he is or isn’t dumping you, and start concerning yourself with what you think of him.

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  3. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    “If this guy has a stable group of friends, healthy relationship with his family, etc then I doubt his issues are with intimacy or commitment or that he’s emotionally deficient.”

    I think this is a very good point, and one similar to something I’ve said before. People are so quick to characterize someone as “committment-phobe” while completely ignoring all the committments that person makes in their life – other than marriage. Do they have a job? Do they have investments, or property? Do they have family connections? Do they, um, make commitments? Because, if so, you need to look for other explaantions for their behavior towards you. In that context, “Committment-phobe” has no meaning and is just name calling amongst women. May as well just call him a jerk and move on.

    With respect to the OP, I do think it is unusal for a man to reach the age of 36 and not ever have had a meaningful, longer term relationship. I do not think that’s commitment-phobe, however, becasue I think typical so-called commitment-phobe behavior is learned in men, from having (or discovering) tons of options in contrast to one or two relationships they’ve had. In other words, men would typically have a relationship of some kind when they are younger before the options start pouring in. As they get older and more desirable, men compare the relationships they’ve actually had with the “single life” they begin to experience, and choose the latter. Or, at least, they begin to set a very high price for giving up singledom. I don’t think that’s what’s going on with the OP’s guy. This guy has nothing to compare his single life to. He may be delusional about relationships. It appears to me that the OP’s guy is suffering from lack of experience. Not too much experience.

    However, this: “He is not a player by any means. He is kind of a big dork. But I like dorky guys and know plenty so that doesn’t bother me.” Every woman thinks her tastes are sooo quirky and unusual and no, really, I really only like dorky guys, not like other girls. It’s delusional. If YOU like him, trust me, other women like him and probably for the same reasons. He has options. And, you have competition.

    So, in my humble opinion, the likely explanation for this guy – who lacks relationship experience – is that probably, things were okay with you but he saw a better option and took it. I doubt he broke up with you as an act of sheer generosity, to “let you move on” with nothing else lined up for him.

    This shouldn’t be discouraging though. You can read all the dating advice in the world, nothing guarantees you results every time – or even one time. The steps you took sound right to me. Just didn’t work out. People lose interest and move on. It doesn’t necessarily reflect a pattern.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      People are so quick to characterize someone as “committment-phobe” while completely ignoring all the committments that person makes in their life – other than marriage.

      Here’s the funny thing. You often here women say that a guy should have a good relationship with his Mom. You rarely hear women act concerned about the fact that that guy they’re dating continuously “gets laid off”, or always has problems with his employers or friends or isn’t terribly close to their family. They excuse it. Whereas a man would pay close to attention to such signs and base their decision to commit on those very things. When I meet anybody – male or female – and they have that kind of track record with friends, family or jobs, I tend to avoid them. There’s a malfunction there.

      I would be far more concerned about dating someone who has a scattered resume and strained relationship with their family than I would a guy who’s never been married or who’s longest relationship was a year. 6 months? Yeah, that’s concerning.But if he has other commitments in his life, I would probably look past it and get to know him.

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      • offensivedan Says:

        Moxie, just b/c you are not close to your family does not mean much.

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        • fuzzilla Says:

          I don’t agree that it doesn’t mean much, but I agree that it’s an unfair basis for dismissing someone. You can’t choose your family.

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        • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

          Often times is does. Some people grew up in dysfunctional environments and distance themselves. That’s actually a good sign. But there’s a difference between growing up in a household where there is abuse, neglect, addiction or mental illness and “me and my mom fought a lot and daddy didn’t praise me enough.”

          Like I said, I would be concerned if someone had a strained relationship with their family and friends and a scattered job history. Individually these aren’t necessarily bad signs. But if there’s more than one, it usually is.

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          • DrivingMeNutes Says:

            People need to separate “red flags” from moral judgments. You can be totally blameless for all your various flaws yet still have flaws that are (and should be) relationship dealbreakers for others. As an extreme example, if someone suffers from a debilitating mental illness, we feel sympathy but we don’t choose to date them.

            Poor familial relationships is a less extreme example. But, its still a red flag. It is true that you can’t choose your family. But, unfortunately, there are consequences to a poor family situation that will likely impact your relationships with others, and one should expect that potential partners may avoid you as a result.

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          • fuzzilla Says:

            Sometimes people with real horror-show upbringings turn into remarkably strong, smart, resilient, amazing people. Make me feel like “Jesus. What have I ever had to complain about? Ever?” If they do overcome stuff like that, it’s usually because there was another trusted adult who stepped in at a crucial juncture and did at least some of the job that the parents dropped the ball on.

            I’ve done a lot of work on myself and have a stable job history and enjoyable friendships and at least a workable/tolerable relationship with family. I have to say (maybe this is OT) that with Mr. 9-10 Dates I’m struggling with how to be vulnerable enough to foster a meaningful connection and yet not overshare and scare him away. One thing I keep in mind as kind of an internal gauge is to remember the “best friend” who stole my boyfriend when I was around 25. I won’t get into the whole story and my point isn’t to seek sympathy…long story short, she called me to confess that they’d been hanging out and how I “needed to know” this and how she hoped it would strengthen our friendship and whatever. I more or less said “fuck you very much” and hung up. My point is…did she really think I *needed* to know that? Did she really think it would “bring us closer”? No, I think it was all for her benefit to absolve her own guilt. It was like being used as toilet paper after she took a dump on me. So anyway…when I’m trying to sort out what’s healthy sharing versus what’s oversharing, I think of that, ask myself what I want to accomplish by sharing XYZ, how I think the other person would feel to hear it, if I think it would bring us closer or is just all about me and absolving my own guilt or using the other person as therapy or whatever.

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            • fuzzilla Says:

              (BTW, some more context to the story: This chick had been blowing me off for months and I assumed we weren’t friends any more. THEN she comes at me with some jazz about “I need to tell you this because your friendship is so important to me!” Probably what happened is the dude started blowing her off and she was indirectly trying to get back at him by blabbing to me. Anyway. Was years ago, and I did turn it into a decent lesson about sharing versus oversharing and checking my motivations).

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      • uesider Says:

        That’s a very good point. That may be more of a “canary in the coal mine” because while some might be inclined to fib about how long their relationships have been, they are likely to talk about jobs, friends, and family. I’ve dated women who complain constantly about their job and how they are unfair to her. They also constantly have drama with their families and friends.

        Sure enough, that train comes right on time and they complain about some real or imagined sin of mine. These are people unable to maintain basic human relationships.

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    • DC Phil Says:

      Sometimes commmitment-phobia is related to the men throwing in the towel the dating arena, if only temporarily. I did this from time to time when I was younger because I wasn’t getting the results I thought I was getting. I was also more immature and unclear about what I wanted, not to mention being in a small area where the dating pool was much smaller than in a big city like DC, where I live now.

      And, trading up isn’t limited to guys — though you’re correct in that it would seem to be more common in guys as they get older. The older a guy gets, the more his worth goes up. Women have the advantage when they’re younger, and as they get older, their worth declines. So, when younger, women would be more likely to trade up.

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  4. DC Phil Says:

    1. Spot on about the gestures. Actions speak louder than words, but such gestures can be done half-assed or communicate something other than what the person is actually feeling. Observing the actions long-term is what’s best. The guy (or girl) could leave any time. There are no social customs in place providing the boundaries as to how a person should act.

    2. Also very true about how men are skittish about commitment. Tom Leykis was the first to talk about this at length on his radio show years ago. In essence, what’s in it for men when it comes to marriage and, by a lesser extension, commitment? To be fair, not all men out there, of varying ages, are interested in playing the field. It can be a big pain in the ass concerning time, logistics, etc. They’d rather have something more doable and that doesn’t cost a lot. I’ve always thought that a guy’s commitment-phobia and thinking that he’d “lose his freedom” if he were to settle down with one woman is framed in opportunity costs, even if he’s not completely honest with himself. What does he give up vs. what doe he get? Women do the same, though, with female-friendly laws on the books, they stand to benefit more financially from a divorce.

    3. I wouldn’t necessarily label a late-30-something woman who isn’t married or who has a scant LTR history as “damaged.” If she NEVER was in a LTR, then I’d start to worry because the vast majority of women out there, at one time or another, were in some kind of LTR. A guy’s general concern would be if the woman maybe likes being on her own too much or is unable to pair bond with a human being. It’s definitely underscored if the woman has two or three cats.

    4. Indeed, the older one gets, the more difficult it is to commit. Sort of a paradox of wisdom, I’d say. By virtue of living for so many years, one gains insight into what works for them and what doesn’t. Trouble is, so has the other person who has lived for so many years. When younger, neither has that much life experience and so the canvas is fresher and not painted over as much. Both are more open to each other and to life as a couple. The paradox, however, is that immaturity is more prevalent and can cause problems later on.

    No easy solution. As Moxie says, you take everyone on case-by-case basis.

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  5. offensivedan Says:

    OP, it sounds like he thought you were great but wants to see what else is out there. That’s not unusual behavior in a early thirties guy. Also, OP , he could have found you boring.

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  6. Crotch Rocket Says:

    “I had just turned 30, and for some reason I didn’t handle it well and started to feel this pressure about settling down.” Well, that’s a bad start to any story: that pressure leads to women looking for any man rather than the right man.

    “I … decided to not put chemistry first in finding a boyfriend.” Chemistry is not the only thing one should look for, but it’s still important. Good chemistry is what motivates men to make the rest of the relationship work–and bad chemistry is nearly always the root cause of men letting a relationship fall apart.

    “The chemistry was not electric but we made up for it with good conversation and an enjoyment of similar interests.” Say what? “Good conversation and an enjoyment of similar interests” is how I would describe my relationship with platonic friends, not something that “makes up for” bad chemistry.

    “Fast forward about a month later, and I was being dumped again! It was almost the exact same conversation I had with the last guy.” Well, that may be bad luck or it may be the start of a pattern. Moxie didn’t link to your previous question, so perhaps you can enlighten us about what happened last time so we can see if there is a common thread.

    “He thinks I am wonderful but something is missing. I have to say, I didn’t disagree” Well, there you go; neither one of you is happy with the relationship and he did you a favor by ending it.

    “I thought it would grow and we got along well so we deserved a fair shot.” It sounds like he did give it a fair shot and things just didn’t pan out. Perhaps he was too quick on the judgment, or perhaps he was just willing to admit failure before you were–due to the “pressure” mentioned above.

    “Why would [he] say and do those things if [he] had doubts?! I want to know for my own personal education.” Because he knew that’s what was expected of him and he wasn’t ready to rock the boat at that point. Given the other data here, it doesn’t appear to have been malicious.

    “And his response: ‘Because when I am with you I am so happy and have such a great time, but when I am not with you all the doubts creep in. We come so close to fitting perfectly, but we are just not there.’ I have no idea what this means.” It means exactly what you’re saying: you two are perfectly compatible on paper but there’s just no (or at least not enough) chemistry in person, and he’s not willing to go the rest of his life without that.

    “And it is almost exactly word for word what the last guy said.” Well, hopefully that will make you wake up and take notice, especially since you seemed to think you were doing something different this time but got the same result.

    “What is going on here? I think that at 3 months there should be doubts! You barely know the person.” I think at three months there should be questions, but I’m not so sure about doubts. Then again, that could be why I’m single.

    “What am I missing here? Should I be smitten at 3 months and not have any doubts? Am I settling if I am not smitten? And are guys wanting to be completely sure at 3 months?” Completely sure? No, but I think most guys have a sense of how far a relationship can go at that point. Some guys are perfectly willing to date (and screw) a woman for years even though he knows he’ll never marry her; other guys in the same situation will break up with her rather than lead her on. (And then he’ll be blasted for being a commitment-phobe and/or having no LTR experience!)

    “He said the last time he had slept with a girl had been two years prior to me and they had dated for 6 months and he hadn’t dated or slept with anyone since. I asked why. And he said he just hadn’t really met anyone.” Assuming he was being truthful (and I see nothing here to indicate he wasn’t), that seems to rule out the Swinging Monkey Theory.

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  7. Carina Says:

    36 is not fairly young. In what world?? If the guy is 36 and hasnt had a relationship longer than 6 months, ever?? Thats a red flag. Move on. Ive been there and have heard plenty of similar stories and they never end well.

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    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      Yes, and a guy committing to a woman after a week and offering her a key to his place and talking kids and marriage after 6 weeks/2 months is TOTALLY normal.

      I mean…really? You’re making my point. Women assume that any guy who doesn’t jump into commitment has issues.

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      • LaRubia Says:

        A dear guy friend of mine who is 43, met a woman who is 22 – he proposed to her within a month of meeting her. We’ve all met her – and all of us wonder what’s the rush? She’s like a little girl in a big body, and not too bright – He’s a very successful software guy who was married for 12 years, has been divorced for a bit over a year and has a 10 yr. old son. We’re all waiting for the impendng crash – all I want to say to him is: PRE-NUP. I guess he just misses being married . . .

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  8. Smitten Says:

    Hi everyone. This is the op. Thanks for all the comments. It may have.come off like this in my letter but I an not a doormat. In no way.was I not myself with this guy. I didnt.change my opinions to his and I didnt agree with everything he said. When I said I an go w the flow I meant I dont get upset over.little things. Like if plans changed or if he didnt want to do something I did. But I truly never stopped being myself. I was not true to myself in what moxie said. I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
    I do believe I learned from this situation to just relax and not force things anymore. But one thing I do struggle with is the idea that I may never meet someone w great chemistry, who challenges me, makes me laugh, have great sex with, I’m compatible with, who is mentally healthy and has similar.goals and values. What if I never meet the man who makes my heart sing? That is why I tried something different this time to see if it could work. It didn’t. I learned. And I was surprised it wasnt enough. But ill move on and hopefully find what is. I dont think askin gwhat if I never meet the guy for me is a bad
    question.ithink it is an important one to ask. And as I get older I am starting to come to terms with that you dont always get what you want. Be it the job, the car, the baby, the man or the house. But it is (making the best outof what you do have.

    sorry for rambling. And I had to type this on my phone bc work blocks moxie so I have many typos

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    • Yuppy Says:

      “But one thing I do struggle with is the idea that I may never meet someone w great chemistry, who challenges me, makes me laugh, have great sex with, I’m compatible with, who is mentally healthy and has similar.goals and values. What if I never meet the man who makes my heart sing?”

      Those are good qualities that you are looking for in a man. But my question to you is do you offer those same qualities to a man? If not, then how do you expect a man of that caliber to be interested in a women who cannot match his qualities. I think you need to work on yourself more, be more funny, be great at sex, good at BJs, be more witty/intellectual (not pseudo-intellectual), etc…..

      I understand you want all those good qualities in a man, yet you seem to offer none of those in return. So a high quality man will look at you and ask, what do you have to offer me?

      If you are a women of great quality, with above average looks, men will find you and want to keep you without you searching them out.

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  9. Saj Says:

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out op but it was for the best. I’m 30 and chemistry is what brings your relationship joy. Other wise when you get sick of faking it with a dead sex life you end up divorced at 40 or 50 and missed some great oppertunities.

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  10. Meg Says:

    Moxie, you say “This is why I keep saying that all of this gestures mean nothing. They are done and expressed because men know we expect them to be and because they want things to go well…. That’s it. That’s why you can’t base your level of investment on these actions. With experience, you learn to identify how a relationship is working out.”

    I agree with this statement, and I think it can be hard to separate these gestures from a true understanding of whether or not a relationship is working out. At least for me, and it seems that I am not alone. I’m sure that you’ve answered this (somewhere in this blog), but can you please touch on HOW “with experience, you learn to identify how a relationship is working out.” What are some tell-tale signs since gestures tell us nothing?

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