How To Deal With Men Who Won’t Date Women With Issues

Name: Reneechild-free-220
Comment: I’m a woman in my early 30s who uses Match.com for online dating. Regarding the men I’m seeking, I’ve set the age range between 30 and 45 years old.

I notice some men repeatedly question me about my childhood family during the first date. They’ll ask how old my parents are, what they do for a living, how long they’ve been together, etc. I should mention that only a specific demographic of men ask these types of questions. Usually it’s the highly-educated professional men in their late 30s to mid 40s who have never been married, have no kids, have not been in a serious relationship in several years, and are looking for the relationship that will lead to marriage (and kids). Younger men do not question me extensively about my family of origin.

I’ve heard that some pickier men do this because they would never consider getting into a relationship with a woman who was raised in a broken home or a household that was headed by a single parent. Some have said that a woman who grew up in a two-parent household is far less likely to have ‘daddy issues’ and the resulting baggage.

Although I came from a two-parent household, I’d rather not talk that much about my childhood family during first dates. I feel that first dates are for getting to know each other, not the family. By the way, some of the men have gotten silent when they discovered my father works in retail (yes, they asked). But we usually end up on second dates.

There are no special cultural issues at play because the men and I were all born and bred in various parts of the US. Thanks.
Age: 32
City: Fort Worth
State: Texas

This is the very reason why I stopped using Match.com. It was full of men on a mission to find a wife or step-mom to their kids. As I’ve mentioned previously, dates with men or women like this always feel more like interviews. There’s no room for flirting and getting to know each other. You’re being sized up. Either that or you’re dealing with men who are wildly socially inept who don’t know how to make conversation.  I think those 40+ men who are finally deciding to settle down and have kids just precious.   It’s unfortunate, because I think many of them become so tunnel visioned in their approach that they have a blindspot to some real red flag issues.  The men who state outright that they’re looking for  a life partner or soul mate (yeesh) are guys I avoid. Dating them is a chore.  They’re interviewing you for two positions: wife and mother. They’re not even thinking about long-term compatibility. All they care about is how much room in your life you have for them, are you too career focused and not someone who will want to stay home and raise their youngin’, etc. You’re basically seen as an incubator who makes them dinner. No thanks.

Guys who don’t want to date women with “issues” are just shooting themselves in the foot. We all have issues. And given the growing divorce rate, many people are products on one parent households. Choosing not to date someone who is a product of divorce is cutting your options in half if not more. All that matters is how someone handles their baggage. Not whether they have too much or any. Think you’re never going to encounter someone with some kind of issue? You’re adorable. Can I date on your planet? It sounds heavenly.

All that said, I think you might be connecting the dots inappropriately. Your father’s job probably has nothing to do with why someone faded. This is online dating, where the Fade was pretty much invented. Sometimes it’s just a matter of too little time and too many options. The men in the age range that you’re meeting are high in demand. That’s the more likely explanation from why you didn’t hear from them again.  Never try to determine why someone ghosted on you. You’ll drive yourself crazy. People just move on. It’s not necessarily something about you that made them do so.  I think we like to come up with excuses for why somebody didn’t follow up with us, when the real reason is that they just met someone else that they liked more.

You don’t have to discuss anything you don’t feel comfortable on a date. If you find that lines of questioning like this are happening regularly, come up with a scripted response that doesn’t come off rude but that shuts down the conversation. Or turn the question back on them. Most people love talking about themselves. Respond with a one or two word answer and then say, ‘How about you?” If they press on with the questions, that’s your cue to turn them down for a second date.

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26 Responses to “How To Deal With Men Who Won’t Date Women With Issues”

  1. noquay Says:

    Yep, Moxie, I absolutely hate this. I came from an extremely abusive family, I bailed at 17, worked my way through college while raising a brother. I am the only one in my family that even made it through high school. I earned three college degrees without getting into debt, one of them a doctorate, am a senior level academic yet the only thing that matters is that I was born to the wrong people. Try telling a guy that you purpisely broke the cycle of family abuse by conciously deciding not to have children and you are evil personified. Now, I just tell guys most of my family is dead, which is true. Even in my dotage (53), I am surprised by the amount of men in my age range recruiting for a mommy. With half of all marriages ending in divorce and the proliferation of folks that do not marry but have kids, you would indeed have to move to another planet to find someone completely free of family baggage.

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  2. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    Here’s a joke. What do you call a person who dates on a mission to find a partner who is stable, comes from a good background, wants kids and has capacity and wherewithal to raise them, and who will selflessly cater to their needs and take care of them?

    A WOMAN.

    I don’t date men so I plead some degree of ignorance on these things. But, seriously, these guys don’t sound like me, nor any guy I’ve ever heard of. I fit the subject demographic (except for the Texas part which, I concede, may be significant here.) Sounds to me more like she’s projecting her own insecurities/prejudices on to the men she dates – i.e. she’s imagining what things she might like/dislike about herself if she were a man. But, to engage successfully in that thought process requires some understanding of men and their motivations. My personal biased view is that men do not really think like this woman thinks/says they do. Men are primarily motivated by sex. (And, you can successfully predict male behavior based on this simple premise.)

    So, I agree with Moxie that the OP is seeing patterns that aren’t there. First, how does she know these guys are looking for a wife or mother to bear their children? The only possible answer is that they said that. Out loud. On a first date. And, that alone, if true, makes their claim really suspicious. And, if they didn’t say it, it’s a baseless conclusion.

    Second, how does she know the reason she’s being rejected. A lot of people commit this fallacy. It’s all baseless conclusions. If I go on a date with a tall woman and she rejects me, can I legitimately conclude that it’s because I wasn’t tall enough? It’s possible that’s the reason, but there could be a million other reasons, some having to do with me, and some having nothing to do with me. Or some combination of all those things. And, even if I’m lucky enough to be given a reason by her, what possible basis do I have to believe it? Do I know this woman? Maybe she was being nice? Maybe she was being vindictive? My view is that a reason provided for rejection is actually more likely to be false.

    Bottom line. The reason there is confusion about male behavior like this is because the interpretation of the behavior is colored by a completely mistaken view about motivation.

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    • BostonRobin Says:

      My answer to your joke is “single!” :)

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    • Renee Says:

      Hey, I’m the OP. Thank you for your insight! I just wanted to answer your question on how I know the men I date are looking to marry / have kids.

      Many of them have straight-out told me during the dates. They’ll say something along the lines of, “I thought I’d be married with kids by now. I never imagined I’d be 43 and still single. I’m looking for the relationship that will lead to marriage and make me stop looking.”

      Still, I appreciate your comment, especially considering the fact that it comes from a male point of view. Thanks again.

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      • Nicole Says:

        Yes, and “I’m getting tired of being single” or “I’m really jealous of my married friends.” Or the absolute worst – “I’m ready to be a dad.” At first I assumed guys were just saying this stuff because they thought it was what women wanted to hear… But some of them actually mean it.

        I never know how to respond; I just sit there with my deer-in-the-headlights look. I guess I should applaud that these men know what they want and are being honest about it, but it’s awkward. I was married at 22 and divorced at 32. If I get married again, it will be because I’m madly in love and positive I want to share the rest of my life with the guy. I’m not interested in someone who’s just looking to settle down with the next good-enough woman he meets.

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        • C Says:

          In fairness, you should understand that a guy may get to a point in his life where he is ready for a partner and to start a family. The right person for them will feel the same way. The upside is that by saying this up front, they quickly identify woman who feel the same way. It doesnt mean he is necessarily desparate or looking to grab the first warm body he attracts and dragging her off into the woods, it does mean that he probably isnt interested in casually dating any more or that he might be done with multi-dating, and is only interested in exploring relationships with a future. I personally think its a good thing.

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          • Nicole Says:

            You’re right… I think I just got burned out dating guys like this when I first started dating online… But their honesty probably saved me a ton of time and energy.

            My profile said only “doesn’t have kids” because I didn’t want to deter guys who already had children. Ended up on a lot of go nowhere first dates with men who assumed all women are dying to start a family – or a least all childless 34 year old teachers looking for long term relationships.

            Eventually I quit replying to anyone who didn’t clearly say that they were happily child-free or already had kids, and that’s been much better for me. I’m currently seeing a divorced dad of 3 who’s great…. And also wants something long-term but doesn’t want to rush into marriage or kids.

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          • Lamont Cranston Says:

            A couple of friends of mine had a marriage that ultimately collapsed because of this. He was significantly older than her and had reached a point in his life where he wanted to be a dad. She wasn’t through being young and carefree and the marriage didn’t survive.

            It was a bummer, and I wish, as someone who got splashed with some of the fallout, that they had addressed it up front instead of later.

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    • C Says:

      I read this to my boyfriend and that was his reaction too. “Guys dont care what her dad did for a living. Guys care if she is hot.”

      I think the guys were probably just trying to make conversation more so than evaluating her as being marriageable based on whether her parents were divorced or what they did.

      Sometimes, when the conversation doesnt flow and the person across the table from me is something of a conversational dead fish, I sometimes reach into my sad bag of tricks and pull out something that everyone can talk about like their job, their families, their college, where they grew up, etc…

      Most of the guys I dated when I was single recently was in that age group: the mid-30s to mid 40s group. Some of the guys wanted to start a family and some of the relationships got kind of serious (i.e. exclusive) but none of them wanted to know about my family history and if I had daddy issues. I mean even the term “daddy issues” is a derogitory dig women use to describe hot young women who date older men (either golddigger or daddy issues). I would think a guy who wants a chick to stay home and crap out kids would want a woman with “daddy issues” so he could control the relationship.

      OP, I think you are either dating guys who are socially inept or you arent doing enough to drive the conversation and reading into the conversation.

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      • Joey Giraud Says:

        Your boyfriend is wrong. There are plenty of men who at some point shop for a woman to fill the role of mommy-wife, men who are in no way players, usually strongly religious types who believe in marriage before sex, that kind of thing.

        I’m not at all like that, but I did have two girlfriends with “daddy issues” and they were pretty messed up in the relationship dept. I was aware of that when I met my now-ex-wife, keeping an eye on her relationship with her father, which was occasionally contentious and somewhat mutually dismissive.

        Funny, those same problems were part of why we divorced.

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  3. Nicole Says:

    Renee, I’m about your age and over on the Dallas side of the metroplex… I’ve met a couple of guys who were clearly looking for an “incubator who makes them dinner.” But there are plenty of successful, educated men in that age range who don’t treat dates like interviews. Having children isn’t a priority for me, so my solution was to just avoid anyone who says he definitely wants kids/more kids. If you’re looking for something that will lead to marriage and kids, it will probably be harder for you. Guys who have waited this long to settle down are pretty choosy…and as Moxie pointed out, they can afford to be that way.

    Having said that, I think general questions about your childhood are pretty standard first date stuff. Where did you grow up, where did you go to school, do you have any brothers or sisters…even the question about what your father did for a living sounds pretty typical. I didn’t grow up in a picture perfect family, but people asking about my background has never bothered me. Trading a few funny anecdotes from your childhood can be a nice way to learn more about someone.

    Try not to take the questions too seriously. A guy who actually cares more about your dad’s job or whether your parents are still married than he does about YOU isn’t someone you want to date anyway.

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  4. Matt Says:

    A major archetype of a single 30 year old guy is that he is or thinks he is the total package: smart, well educated, athletic, artistic, well-traveled, attractive with a great job and career. He just has a hard time finding a woman to match his awesomeness. That’s why he’s never been married.

    I am finding that there is a small demographic of women who think they are the total package as well, and can’t find that right guy to match her awesomeness. However, a more common archetype of a single 30 year old woman is that she has been hurt badly by some relationship: boyfriend, marriage, or family. This has made her too weary or jaded and is now guarded about any new relationships.

    We see a lot of these types, and the best thing is to move on.

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  5. BostonRobin Says:

    That sort of questioning is just a hoop, a way of putting you on the defensive. Your choice to jump through it or not. It’s also completely inappropriate on a first date, even second, so you do well to be rid of them that early on.

    My family background is dysfunctional, period. Thanks to therapy, self-awareness, and time, I’m probably emotionally healthier than a lot of people from “normal” families.

    Deep issues like this have no place in the getting acquainted process. You can open up after the other person gets to see the sort of person you are now. You wouldn’t go on about some complicated medical or financial issue right away. Why bring out old stuff?

    When someone asks me about my family, I gloss over the awkward details and move the conversation along. I don’t think anyone has had a problem with this, but frankly I don’t care. I choose not to engage in mind-reading as to why someone doesn’t want to see me again. No bandwidth for that!

    Family questions are a smokescreen too, a way for someone to avoid facing their own demons by assuming that they’re families are actually healthy. There are plenty of “normal” families with such a toxic dynamic that everyone is a neurotic mess. Some of the most messed-up people I’ve known came from “normal” families, so I am no longer impressed!

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    • Lamont Cranston Says:

      Nothing wrong with not talking about sensitive stuff on a first date, but I’ve got to admit: if I think someone is ducking questions I start to wonder why.

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    • Vic Says:

      Wait… what?

      So are you really saying that asking questions about a persons childhood and life are “inappropriate” on a first date?

      What could be more bland and milquetoast? I mean seriously!

      So this is the average convo like that:
      Guy: So where did you grow up?
      Girl: In _____ . How about you?
      Guy: In _____. I went to your hometown once and did ______.
      Girl: Oh really I used to go there often! I went to your hometown once and did _____.
      Guy: Oh that is neat growing up my father was a _____ and so we often did ______ there.
      Girl: What a coincidence I also enjoyed doing ____ with my family growing up.

      These are just typical conversations. They are the same conversations we have all had 1000+ times, they are the same conversations we have when anyone meets anyone else new. Why on earth would you believe them to be inappropriate?

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  6. Kurt Says:

    I don’t see what is all that outrageous about the men whom the OP has met. Those men clearly know what they want and are going after it and don’t want to waste their time with the wrong women. Perhaps when they were younger they were more open to dating women with “issues” but now that they are getting older, they are feeling some pressure to settle down.

    Men like the ones the OP mentioned are in the driver’s seat as they know that most women in their age range would love to settle down with someone like them, so they can afford to be picky. I don’t have a problem with this even if the OP and Moxie do think those men are overly picky or superficial – women are also very superficial when they peak in relative attractiveness in their early 20s and routinely reject men for being “too nice” or for other seemingly trivial reasons.

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    • mindstar Says:

      I also think there may be a certain payback element in that behavior. I’m sure a few of these guys are using the fact that they are now in high demand to get “even” with all the women who rejected them in their younger years by being hyperpicky and rejecting women for petty reasons.

      Contrary to some of the comments here however I think there is nothing wrong with asking basic preliminary background questions on a first date.

      I come from a very large Irish Catholic family (5 youngers sisters and 4 younger brothers)and sharing what that is like with a woman on a first date is a great way for her to get to know me. Similarly her sharing her background is a way for me to get to know her.

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  7. D. Says:

    A few thoughts, having, to some degree, been that guy.

    It can be absolutely genuine that the guy is looking to settle down, is tired of casual dating, etc. If he says “I’m at a point in my life where I’m ready to settle down,” that’s not necessarily a ploy.

    Just because a guy says that in a general sense, doesn’t mean he wants to do it with you or the first warm, reasonably attractive body he comes across. He’s also not necessarily just looking for a cook, maid, and broodmare, either. He may genuinely want a partner in life, and someone who meets whatever his notions are for what that’d entail.

    Third, it may be that he’s saying it to distinguish himself from the rest of the guys out there who are more interested in just casual dating, and to see if you’re on the same page. Some women in their 30s and 40s honestly are NOT looking to settle down, or are at best ambivalent about it. To me, that seems like a legitimate thing to try to figure out on a first date, particularly if someone saying “I don’t want kids” or “I don’t want to get married” is a dealbreaker. That said, there’s probably a more artful way to do that than saying “I want to get married and have kids. Is that something you’re generally interested in, too?”

    Anyway, guys who look at each new date as a potential life-partner…yeah, they deal with a LOT of disappointment, and in can mess with their heads. It certainly did in my case, at least until I relaxed a little and focused a bit more on just enjoying the date, rather than spotting dealbreakers or “must haves.” But prior to that? I’d go into dates, even first dates, with that mindset of “Better figure out if there are any major dealbreakers,” assuming I couldn’t tell from her profile.

    All that aside, asking a question about one’s family history in broad terms isn’t necessarily an attempt to evaluate you for life-mate potential or whatever. It might just be small talk for a guy who’s actually family-oriented. It could be a “test” to see about whether your background is up to par for what he imagines he wants…but so what if it is? If it turns you off, just don’t go out with him again, and go on about your business. It’s his problem, not yours.

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    • C Says:

      On the first date? Holy smoke! This just totally rang a bell. I got in touch with my childhood best friend and her older brother (also something of a friend back then) who had just turned 40 and had never been married. We got together to catch up and really hit it off. He asked me out but I had a boyfriend at the time.

      A couple months later, as a newly single and with much encouragement from his sister, i asked him out. It was probably the worst date I’ve ever had.

      It felt excatly like he was hunting for something, ANYTHING to be wrong with me. He would talk about wild and carefree friends and when I would say that I admired how free the sexual culture was in the 70s, he would suddenly put the breaks on and talk about how sexually conservative he was. Lots of talk about marriage, family, balh blah blah…It all seemed really heavy and intense for a 5th date let alone a first date, but its not like we were strangers. I practically lived at his house as a kid, so i just assumed he had grown into kind of an intense person and just went with it.

      Well, I must have given the ‘wrong answer’ at some point because things suddenly turned on a dime and he suddenly couldnt get rid of me fast enough. I didnt mind the rejection. But Ive never ever had a date let alone an old friend treat me like that – like I was suddenly some crazy stalker who he had to ditch immediately.

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  8. LostSailor Says:

    How to deal with men who won’t date women with issues? Moxie is right: Don’t date them. I don’t think they are shooting themselves in the foot by not wanting to date women with “issues” because while “we all have issues,” well, there are issues and then there are issues.

    But that’s not really what’s going on here. The men Renee is complaining about–men in their late 30s to early 40s, never married, and looking for a relationship leading to marriage and kids–are indeed checking her family history to judge whether she is a good bet for marriage and motherhood. They are facing the same pressure some women do in their mid-30s, the pressure of time to start a family and they’re running out of time to do it.

    Of course, if they’re bringing all this on first or even second dates, they’re also quite clueless. It’s one thing to want to filter out women who they might judge to be less than a perfect fit for their idea of a happy family. But that should wait until he’s established whether there is any initial chemistry with a woman, and then ease into the background check.

    I disagree that choosing not to date someone who is the product of divorce, especially a never-married in her mid-30s is a bad strategy if marriage and family is the goal. For men, given the current social and legal landscape of marriage and divorce, it’s actually a smart move, even if it does cut their options in half. These men have already hurt their chances for a long-term, intact marriage by waiting so long, and the dangers they face are real.

    I also don’t agree that these particular men are primarily interested in sex or only whether a woman is hot. Those may be considerations, but a man in this age range bent on starting a family is far more likely, in my estimation, to be focused on matters of character.

    Which is why I also disagree with this: All they care about is how much room in your life you have for them, are you too career focused and not someone who will want to stay home and raise their youngin’, etc. You’re basically seen as an incubator who makes them dinner. No thanks. That’s painting with an overly-broad brush. Is is possible? Sure. But it’s like assuming that every woman who wants to date men who are financially stable, if not wealthy, are all golddiggers who are just after his money. It’s might be true sometimes, but not necessarily the norm.

    As for Renee, she doesn’t really say what she’s looking for. Or what her fundamental problem is, other than she’s uncomfortable talking about background and family on early dates. I don’t blame her a bit; as I said, men who do this are essentially clueless about how to go about reaching their dating and relationship goals. Moxie is indeed right that she doesn’t need to talk about anything she’s uncomfortable with, and turning the question back on the guy is a good tactic, assuming she’s not completely repulsed by the questioning.

    If Renee is looking for a relationship that might lead to marriage and family–really looking–she’ll have to decide whether a guy’s cluelessness is a deal breaker. If she’s unsure about that goal, she should just move on. She’s 32, so there is time. But she should be clear about what her dating and relationship goals are.

    If she is interested in marriage and family, and she is initially interested in one of these eager beavers, I’d suggest an approach that would gently signal that their goals might be the same, but these things don’t need to be determined on the first date.

    Along the lines of “Whoa, Hopalong! Let’s rein that in and see if we even like each other before we start picking colors for the nursery. So, what’s the best concert you ever saw live…?”

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  9. James Says:

    Match.com was a disaster for me. 6 months and not one date. TOO MANY men and not enough women and those that were there were not interested in me nor was I interested in them. The only woman I managed to contact was an overweight 40 yo butterface. And she thought she was God’s gift. OKcupid is another site I don’t have luck with. POF I do very well on, especially for hookups. I have a love hate relationship with online dating and dating in general.
    If someone asks you a question you’d rather not answer on a first date then steer the subject to something else. Some people are clueless and some are nosy. A first date should not reveal too much because most times it won’t progress beyond that. And I do not use online dating to find a stepmom for my kids or a new wife. UGH been there and done that.

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    • DrivingMeNutes Says:

      “an overweight 40 yo butterface.”

      Don’t mean to quibble. But, I do not think “butterface” means what you think it means.

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  10. PGHGal Says:

    The problem is that this line of questioning isn’t foolproof. I was raised by my mother amd grandparents. I have my degree, a job helping people and I’m financially and emotionally stable. I have not yet been married, nor had any children at 33.

    My half sisters were raised by my father and their mother (who were married after my birth). One has had several children out of wedlock with an abusive man. One has had TWO marriages annulled. One is engaged to a deadbeat whose life revolves around her going to work to pay for him to sit around on the couch.

    Now according to the men the OP has dated, I’m the greater relationship risk. Yet I have had far more healthy relationships with men. I admittedly am not sure I want children, but I do want marriage. Many of these little “checklists” we create are the real reason why we are single Getting to know someone as an individual is how one determines compatibility in a relationahip; a handful of arbitrary questions only scratches a very superficial layer.

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    • D. Says:

      Two things.

      1. “Many of these little ‘checklists’ we create are the real reason why we are single.”

      Spot-on accurate. Checklists are helpful…right up until they aren’t anymore. I often think that people with elaborate lists of “must haves” and criteria and such are basically single by “choice.” Even if they say they want something…they really don’t, and their rigidity and inability to be happy with anything here in the real world that crosses their path proves as much. It’s fine to have a sense of what you want, but it’s also important to be flexible enough to recognize that you may not get everything on that list, but can still be happy.

      2. Again, I’d say that, if the guy on the other side of the table from you is disqualifying you because of what you tell him, that’s his issue, not yours. Stuff you honestly cannot change — like your blood relatives and family history — is stuff that people basically can choose to accept about you or reject. And either choice says nothing about you, personally. Your personal history is part of who you are. You can’t escape from it, nor should you try. I mean, you know, unless you’re in Witness Protection or something. Then you should totally try to escape from your past.

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      • C Says:

        “2. Again, I’d say that, if the guy on the other side of the table from you is disqualifying you because of what you tell him, that’s his issue, not yours. Stuff you honestly cannot change — like your blood relatives and family history — is stuff that people basically can choose to accept about you or reject. And either choice says nothing about you, personally. Your personal history is part of who you are. You can’t escape from it, nor should you try. I mean, you know, unless you’re in Witness Protection or something. Then you should totally try to escape from your past.”

        This is very true. And ironically, the same attribute that one person will reject you for another will love you for. One person may look at a tough childhood and deem you broken, the next will look at your tough childhood and admire your resilience, strength and breadth of experience. You dont always need to play to the median. You dont need to appeal to everyone, you just need to appeal to one right person.

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  11. Jesse Says:

    One might be tempted to think that the answers you get on a first date — “are you looking for marriage?, are you looking to raise a family?, are you willing to have sex with me at least once every day” will be true for the rest of time, but unfortunately that’s not how life works. People change, sometimes because of events, sometimes because of you, sometimes just because. I doubt if most people really know themselves we’ll enough that they can answer those types of questions with certainty , especially when the answer is colored by use existence of someone they are out having a first date.

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