Real stories about dating and relationships in New York City. Truth is more interesting than fiction.

Old Habits Die Hard

I’ve written a few times about the type of I used to date.  And the fact that I know that, in the long run, those relationships always go wrong.  No matter how much I like a guy or even how much he likes me, I’ve been down that road enough times to know there is no happy ending.

Just a lot of tears and anger and sometimes a few feeble apologies long after they’d do any good.

Being the slow learner that I am, it took me a long, long time to get here.  And here isn’t a firm place.  Sometimes I’ll meet some guy and like him immediately and then realize after the fact that he’s officially “bad for me” and I shouldn’t see him again.

Even harder is the fact that I don’t find myself atttracted to too many guys who aren’t “bad for me”.  Instead, I’m constantly playing this game with myself.  I call it, What about him.

What about him?

Nah, he’s bland.

He’s not bland.  He’s nice and sweet.

What about him?

Nah, he’s too timid.

He’s not timid.  He’s just not pushy.

What about him?

Nah, he’s too _____.

Get over it.

It’s a sucky game, a sucky way to try to date.  Never trusting my own instincts.  But I figure I’m learning.  Unlearning old habits.  Picking up new ones.  Trying to always remember that that little voice inside my head (the one that wants to skip work and stay in bed and have sex all day) usually doesn’t know what’s best for me.  So when it says, “I want him”, it’s a sure sign to stay away and keep looking.

I’m not sure if this makes sense to anyone.  But a while ago someone asked me to write on this topic (changing the type of men I dated).  This seemed like a good place to start.


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8 to “Old Habits Die Hard”


  1. Hammer86 says:

    The real problem is that you’re not just fighting against “your type,” you’re fighting against all of your evolutionary hardwiring telling you what type of personality and behavior is attractive. Attraction is not a choice. Trying to recondition what you’re attracted to is like trying to turn a gay man straight, and that’s really not an exaggeration. I don’t really know what someone in your position should do, but settling is definitely not the answer.

  2. klawless says:

    Oh girl… I have so been there on this one. It takes time and consistent attention to change a “hardwired” type, but I think it’s possible. At least, I’ve seen it happen. There are some days that are harder than other (or some guys cuter than others) that make it a serious challenge, but when you know that you collect the bad for you guys — what else can you do? The concept I had to fight for the most was balance. Instead of going from jerk to “nice guy,” I learned to aim for someone in the middle… “nice guy with a backbone” works just fine for me. Maybe “badass with a soft and mushy center” is perfectly your cup ‘o tea. *cheeky grin*

  3. DateDoctor says:

    Ahhh if us girls could only go for the weak and timid, we would be spending more time on our registry and nordstrom’s and less time on these darned blogs…However, our kind would eventually die out because we married the species of male that would not be able to protect us and our kin.. A little deep, even for me, at 830 am, but our instinctual attraction is developed out of an evolutionary need to feel secure- Rick Moranis (gatekeeper from ghostbusters, Honey I shrunk the kids) ain’t gonna cut it.

    Besides, I would rather go to bed alone with my Tivo, then wake up to some puny little horn ball computing his next move, and me reluctantly obliging because I “settled.”

    That being said, in psychology, we often tell people their “picker” is broken. We do tend to recapitulate the dynamics of early childhood- some which are not always functional. Therefore, if we find that a man is emotionally unavailable and distant- BINGO, it’s “daddy LOOK AT ME!” Funny enough, we feel completely at ease and comfortable…because its what we are used to.

    So, what do we do with all this knowledge? I think we go for the guy that is initially not who we would go for…maybe his delivery is a bit less smooth…maybe he is noticeably nervous around us, but he’s extremely attractive, funny, and charming. Stick around long enough and maybe this guy is someone, who – develops into a man that genuinely cares about you but will also have a backbone when its needed. Its just that he’s not used to “playing the game,” and wasn’t able to be “clutch” right out of the gates….This is the man we want…the ones that are able to sink the three pointer with two seconds left in the game…are the ones that have done it before- over and over.

    Don’t give up… I haven’t.

    (BTW- Who is going to write these blogs once we find, said “Mr. Right?”)

  4. Dating says:

    I think we are all foolish sometimes when it comes to dating, even though we sometimes know the person and know they are wrong for us we all fall into the same trap only for it to be a losing run in the end.

  5. pansophy says:

    Dating a guy that isn’t what you are attracted to isn’t transcending the driving force that underlies what attracts you to a man _ it’s just doing the opposite of it.

    In other words, what ever that is inside you that causes you to be attracted to people that ‘are bad for you’ is still making your decisions for you; you are either in a relationship that is either ‘not good for you’ or just fundamentally doesn’t fulfill you.

    Can’t work.

    You need to get at the source issue and transcend it by releasing the energy behind the issue. Then you just won’t be attracted to that anymore.

    Having said all that, you do need a pretty complicated mix of traits that will be rare to find in the same person.

  6. browolf says:

    writing of course is a good way of reinforcing ones ideas. Maybe it would help to define clearer the type of guy that would be best and try and figure a way of determining it without having to rely so much on yet untrained gut instinct. I think klawless has it right with “nice with backbone” and whilst “badass with mush” could work too. the trouble is there you’re in too deep when you discover there’s no mush. it seems to me thus you want to be able to determine nice before you meet them and backbone when you do. as far as attraction goes. is having less upfront and getting nowhere any worse than having more upfront and getting nowhere?

  7. Singletude says:

    Thanks for this post–I think I was the one who asked you about it. I’ve found this issue of attraction to the wrong type to be a stumbling block in my life, as well.

    I once had a conversation with my cousin, who also found herself attracted to the wrong type. She had been to counseling and had read numerous self-help books, and she concluded, “You can tell your head what to think, but the heart wants what it wants.”

    You might call my type the Impetuous Romantic. They don’t necessarily come across as dominant or aggressive, but they are, nevertheless, fundamentally narcissistic kinds of men. I can now spot these types coming from a mile away…But it doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to them anymore or that I AM attracted to men who are NOT like them.

    There are many reasons that I’ve stopped dating, but one of them has to be that it’s just not fun for me to date men I’m not attracted to. I like being single and would rather continue to be so than try to be with a man I’m not attracted to.

    It occurs to me that this comment might sound depressing. I don’t mean it to. I do believe that we can overcome unhealthy attractions by identifying and resolving their root causes. But it’s just that sometimes those roots go so deep that it feels nearly impossible to dig them out for good.

    I will say, though, that if it’s a dominant, confident man you seek, I know there are such men who are also capable of being very generous, compassionate, even selfless. In fact, I dated one of those who is now one of my dearest friends.

    Anyway, I hope you’ll keep us posted as you work on changing your dating patterns. I think it could be really helpful for all of us who struggle with these kinds of issues to see the practical steps someone is taking to overcome them.

  8. Simone Grant says:

    -Hammer
    SMH again. I realize you adhere to rather simplistic ideas about attraction. Many people, myself included, believe that human attraction is more complicated than just our biological urges. Oh, and I have no intention of settling.
    -klawless
    I agree, balance is the key to getting this right. And I’ve come pretty damn close. Close, but no cigar. Not yet. And yes, it takes consistent time and attention.
    -DateDoctor
    I don’t believe in Mr. Right. I think he’s kind of a destructive myth. I’m also not looking for a protector/someone to make me feel secure. Just a guy I like so much that I’d rather spend time with him than be alone. Oh, and good sex. Pretty simple, actually.
    -Dating
    Welcome to the blog. Yeah, there’s something kind of comforting about knowing that everyone makes the same mistakes over and over.
    -pansophy
    I know I’m looking for a complicated mix of traits – hence the not having a boyfriend for over a year :-)
    -browolf
    Actually, “nice” is one of those things that’s easy to fake. Much harder to fake a real backbone.
    -Singletude
    I know that the guys I’m seeking exist. But they’re rare. And you’re right – the heart wants what it wants. But the heart is fickle and I’m a pretty damn cerebral chick. Most of my dating decisions are made with my head.

    Thanks for chiming in, everyone. This is a tough one.