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Dating Advice #52 - Flip-Flopped Dating Life

May 8, 2009 | by Rosie Einhorn, L.C.S.W. and Sherry Zimmerman, J.D., M.Sc.

When she pursues, they run away. And when she's not interested, they fawn. Has someone got this backwards?

Dear Rosie & Sherry,

I am a 34, Jewish female and single way too long. My dating problem is the following: I don't fall in love or even become slightly interested in anyone very often. And I certainly don't get close to marriage.

On the very rare occasion that I find someone who is my "type," they do not like me. It seems like the more available I am for plans with the one I want to be with, the more they run away!

Or, the situation flip-flops. I'll have an easy time making acquaintances, which I do not like romantically. I actually find that I am more my "natural self" with the ones that I am not interested in. Then they end up falling in love with me!

I don't think I have a problem of liking men initially who are not available. They become unavailable later, after I established the attraction. They just turn out to be that way.

It's all really frustrating. Please offer some insight. Is this just human nature to want what you cannot have? How do people ever get together then? What is the cure?


Dear Michelle,

We don't believe the problem you've identified will be solved when the "right" man walks into your life. Similarly, the fact that you are only attracted to men whom you later discover are emotionally unavailable is not an issue of "wanting what you cannot have." The root of your difficulties may be that you don't have a clear idea of yourself, and what you really want out of life.

We recommend that you take some time over the next week to do some honest soul-searching. Take the phone off the hook, ask your friends not to bother you, take out a notebook and pen, and write down your thoughts on the following:

  • My strengths, talents, creative abilities and skills.
  • My feelings about values and spirituality.
  • My tapped and untapped interests.
  • What I feel I have accomplished personally and professionally at this point in life.

Then, think about the direction you would like your life to follow over the next six months, one year and five years. Include your hopes and expectations about the following:

  • education
  • spiritual growth
  • career development
  • utilizing strengths and talents
  • tending to interests I may have ignored or want to develop further
  • financial planning and economic level
  • family life
  • anything else I want to explore about my own future

We suggest writing down your thoughts because this act is cathartic, and because when you later review what you have written it will be easier to get a better understanding of yourself and evaluate your priorities.

After you have performed this exercise, ask yourself about the personal qualities you feel a life partner should have, keeping it compatible with your own values, personality and short- and long-term goals. Keep the list short. This is what you should be looking for when you date.

Don't lock yourself into a certain "type." We find that too many people date with a particular image in mind, and this closes off opportunities to get to know people who don't meet the criteria -- but who may in fact be good for them.

We have another suggestion for you. We get the impression that you tend to determine relatively quickly whether or not you are attracted to a man. This is a big mistake. The majority of successful courtships, especially those that start when the people are in their 30s and onward, do not begin with a "click" or instant attraction. They begin when two people decide they'd like to get to know each other better, and give themselves time to gradually build a courtship. The attraction between them grows gradually -- because developing something permanent is a process that takes time.

We hope that our suggestions will give you a fresh start and a better chance of success in the future. Good luck.

Rosie & Sherry

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