3 Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made in Relationships that Have Kept Me Single For Years


And 2 Quick Fixes that Will Save You Time and Heartache

By Mary R. Dittman, M.B.A.

Do you ever feel like you’re in a dating-version of the movie “Groundhog Day?” 

You keep having the same experience: you meet a guy, think it’s good (or could be good), then things don’t work out.  And you’re back to square one.

It’s easy to believe that there just aren’t any quality men out there, or that your “picker’s broke,” or that there’s just something wrong with you because you “keep attracting these guys.”

While it’s true that there are fewer “high-value” men over 40 than there are women, the problem may be that you’re wasting so much time and energy on the low-value ones, you aren’t available for the high-value gentlemen!

I’m WAY past 40.  Even though I’ve always longed for a husband and a family, I’ve never been married, and I don’t have any children.  

Having been single in my 20’s, my 30’s, and my 40’s, I’ve had a lot of dates and several relationships that I thought were “the one.”  I’ve had lots of heartbreak, and lots of opportunity to look back and see what went right and what went wrong.

I found three patterns that I have fallen into that I believe have kept me single when I didn’t want to be single.  See if you’re doing any of these things:

Not being clear on deal-breakers.  Having heeded the advice to create a list of what I was looking for in a man, I had a complete picture of what I was looking for.  Heavy on the values, ability to provide, shared faith, etc.  What I wasn’t clear on was the “no-go” items.  

A friend of mine is a flight attendant, and she told me that during a pre-flight check, there are a lot of things that should be a “go.”  But there are a few things that are an absolute “no-go.”  If any of the “no-go” items are present, the plane does not take off.  Period.  

Because I wasn’t clear on my no-go items, I was wasting time with men who, while they may have been nice, weren’t going to meet my most important criteria. 

Patti Stanger, the Millionaire Matchmaker, calls these your “dealbreakers.”  You need to be clear on your standards (not the same as being picky).  You only need 5 or 6 dealbreakers.

Today, I am clear on my no-go items:  must have an executive-level career; must share my faith; must be financially prosperous and stable; must only live alone or with his dependent, minor children; must be kind and respectful; must not have a criminal record.

If ANY one of those is not present, it’s a no-go. 

No, he can’t have my phone number. 

No, we can’t have coffee. 

No, I don’t want to be “just friends.”

What I used to do is compromise: if he was really kind and respectful, I’d overlook the fact that he was broke and living with his mother.  

That’s like a pilot saying, “Well, engine number 3 isn’t cranking, but the landing gear is fine, so let’s go with it.”

Confusing “acceptance” with settling.  I was raised in the Christian church, so I was taught that being judgmental of others will cause God to judge you.  So, I didn’t want to be judgmental and incur the wrath of God.  I would think, “Maybe God is sending me this guy who’s broke to teach me to not be so materialistic.”

The truth is, I don’t want to be the breadwinner for a family.  I believe that is a man’s responsibility.  I plan to work and contribute, but I don’t want to be the primary financial support for a man and his children because that scares me.

By the way - that’s nature’s way of programming the female brain for the past couple of million years.  Of course, if you’re fine being the breadwinner for your man, go for it!

It’s not judgmental or materialistic to want a man who can provide for you.  That’s the result of millions of years of evolutionary psychology. 

When I would violate my own standard in that area, I was settling.  Then I would resent the guy, and that’s not fair towards him!  The good news is, there are plenty of women out there who will take care of a man financially….I’m just not one of them.

Not prioritizing chemistry.  It’s no secret that sex is important.  In his book His Needs, Her Needs, clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist Dr. Willard F. Harley states that sex is a primary need that men have.  In fact, if a man’s partner is not having sex with him, that man will interpret the lack as a lack of love.  While it’s true that love and sex are not intertwined for men, once a man is in a committed relationship, he will view sex as proof that you love him, and if it’s missing, he’ll begin to feel disconnected from you.

I know I’m not alone in questioning the importance of chemistry.  Sometimes a guy is “great on paper,” but we just don’t feel the spark.  We wonder if it will grow with time.  Everybody is different, but I know that if I don’t feel that spark on the first date, I won’t feel it later.

You need to want to have sex with your man.  If you don’t want to kiss him, be physically affectionate, and have sexual intimacy, you are setting your relationship up for disaster.  (Unless he doesn’t want to have sex, either; in which case, you are dealing with more serious issues.)

Fortunately, there are 2 quick fixes that can help you!

Pay Attention to the Chemistry.  If it’s not a “heck, yeah!” it’s a “no, thanks.” 

Don’t string the guy along hoping your feelings will catch up.  Your first impression is generally correct, and if you’re not dreaming of him calling you or hoping he’ll kiss you, you probably don’t have the right chemistry.  You can always choose to settle, but if you don’t feel that spark, you’re also dooming him to a relationship where he will not feel loved.

Don’t make exceptions.  That dealbreaker list is your “no-go” list.  Decide what you absolutely must have in a relationship, then don’t deviate from it.  Will you have fewer dates?  Yes.  But, you’ll be less frustrated and less discouraged.

What are the biggest relationship mistakes YOU’VE made?

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