Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Am I Too Young To Settle for a Guy Who Isn’t Hot?”

I know you must get a ton of questions, so I’ll go straight to the point. My boyfriend is 34 and I’m 22. It’s the first serious relationship I’ve ever been in, and we’ve connected on many levels after I decided I would give him a chance.

Reasons I went for it:
– He has a great personality
– He’s very sociable
– He’s kind
– We have things in common
– He’s smart
– He loves me a lot

Reasons I was so f***ing hesitant:
– Age gap
– His looks (I’m talking maaaybe a 6 out of 10)
– Our height difference (I’m 5’10”, he’s 5’8″)

I’m absolutely aware those are superficial things, but: 1) they cause me to not WANT/DESIRE to have sex with him; I don’t feel that FIRE, strong PASSION where I want to rip his clothes off; and 2) part of me is self-conscious about being with him in public (not around friends, that’s fine) because I think people will think “what is she doing with him?”. I’m no Charlize Theron, but I’m good-looking and I don’t like feeling like I’m settling for less than I could have, especially at 22!

I’ve dated “hot guys” in the past and wasn’t interested in sex, but I didn’t have the connection with them that I have with my current boyfriend, so I don’t know if my lack of interest in sex is just a trait of mine or if there’s someone out there not only with whom I connect on a deep emotional level but also with whom I can have mind-blowing sex.

Am I settling too soon? — The Young Girlfriend in a Funk

Yeah, you’re settling too soon, but not for the reasons you think. You aren’t settling too soon because your boyfriend is a six instead of a nine. You aren’t settling too soon because you’re young. You aren’t even settling too soon because your boyfriend is 12 years older than you (although that’s a lot at your age, and it’s a big deal, and it would probably eventually create some significant issues between you). You’re settling too soon simply because you’re using the word “settle” in relation to a significant other. There’s no bigger sign that you aren’t with a good match than feeling like you’re settling. A genuine reason you might feel like you’re settling is that you don’t know yourself yet, so how on earth could you know what kind of guy you want to “settle down” with or spend your life with or commit to or whatever it is you think you’re doing with this guy — or you think you’re supposed to be doing — that is causing you so much anxiety?

First of all, you don’t need to commit to anyone. You’re allowed to be a free agent who dates multiple guys, or maybe who even dates just one guy but isn’t committed and hasn’t defined the relationship in terms of BOYFRIEND and GIRLFRIEND. Just casually date. It sounds like you’ve had a few experiences with guys who don’t really turn you on, so figure out what it is that DOES turn you on. Apparently, it’s not your current boyfriend. Fine. Don’t “settle” then. Keep getting to know other people. Keep getting to know yourself. Maybe you aren’t even into guys at all. Maybe you like women. Maybe you’re asexual. Maybe you want to be treated a way you haven’t been treated by anyone you’ve dated yet. Who knows! Clearly, you don’t. So keep experimenting and figuring out. There’s no timetable on when you’re supposed to figure this out. There’s no deadline for when to find a forever match. You don’t even need a forever match. You could be single forever. Or you could find the perfect person for you when you’re 32, and you spend the next ten years having all kinds of adventures with all the different people you might get to know — people and experiences that will continue to shape and help you figure out who you are.

In the meantime, please know this: No one is looking at you with another person, whether it’s your current boyfriend or someone else, and asking themselves why you’re with him. People simply don’t care about anyone else’s dating life as much as you apparently think they do. At most, they might think, “Ooh, he scored! Lucky guy.” But they’re not going, “Woah, that beautiful 22-year-old with the guy who’s shorter than she is really settled! I wonder what’s wrong with her that she’d date a six when she could probably get a nine?!” No one’s thinking that. The fact that YOU are thinking that about yourself and worried about others thinking that is a clear sign that you don’t know a whole lot about life, yourself, and the world, and you really have no business “settling.” You need to be doing the opposite of settling: go collect experiences, have adventures, date around, lift the anchor of your life that’s kept you safely tethered to everything you’ve already seen and experienced and sail for a while. It’s the only way you’ll grow. It’s the only way you’ll truly learn enough about yourself to know who you are and what will make a great match for you. And until you find the match that makes you forget the word “settle,” don’t even think about doing it.


Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

25 comments… add one
  • JD July 26, 2018, 9:12 am

    I won’t even get into the vanity in comparing your looks to him or the height thing. You THINK you’re a 9 but that mentality knocks you down a 5.

    A 12 year age gap isn’t insane, when you are older. At 22 it is huge. You barely know yourself yet.

    Spare him and break it off. He deserves someone who is crazy about him.

    I can also assure you that as you get older how you perceive looks changes, a lot. A personality has a lot to do with how attractive someone is. He deserves someone who sees that.

    Reply Link
  • Rebecca July 26, 2018, 9:40 am

    …ouch. Poor guy…

    Not to pull the “when you’re older…” shtick, but when you’re older you’ll realize that the ‘right’ person (or people, no judgement) will trip your triggers whatever their outward appearance because of that first list of reasons, and will do so strongly enough that they are beautiful in your eyes.

    Reply Link
    • csp July 26, 2018, 11:25 am

      Yea – but honestly, you shouldn’t just date a guy because he is nice to you. You don’t owe it to him. There are plenty of quality men out there who I don’t want to date. There needs to be more.

      Reply Link
      • Rebecca July 26, 2018, 12:39 pm

        No, of course you shouldn’t. I’m talking more about “is kind in general + makes specific effort to be kind in targeted ways I find appealing.” Eff that whole idea of owing someone a relationship because they’re nice, thing. That’s bullshit.

  • Northern Star July 26, 2018, 9:43 am

    Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Especially your significant other.

    And maybe, since your boyfriend is the one who brings everything but amazing looks to the equation, HE’S the one who’s settling/losing on better opportunities here. Would you love to hear that your boyfriend thinks he’s slumming with some naive 22-year-old because she’s hot—even though her personality isn’t so great and she’s simply not mature enough to really be an equal partner in a relationship?

    That would hurt, right? You probably wouldn’t want to stick around if you knew that’s how he thought about you. So break up and find someone you actually respect and are proud to be seen with in public. At a bare minimum.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Copa July 26, 2018, 9:52 am

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: It’s pretty red flag-y when someone 30-ish+ is dating someone who college-aged. It’s not so much an age difference thing as it is a stage of life thing. By the time you’re approaching your 30s, you’re hopefully in a different stage of your life than someone who is either still in college or who maybe just graduated within the past couple years and is still getting accustomed to adulthood.

    Anyway, you should break up with this guy. Plenty of attractive people date average looking people because personality plays a huge role in attraction. There are so, so many guys I’ve met over the years who I was initially unimpressed with but later on found attractive as I got to know them. If this guy isn’t doing it for you, you owe it to yourself to find someone who does AND you owe it to him to let him find someone who isn’t embarrassed to be seen with him in public!

    Also, FWIW, I spent my early/mid 20s with the same guy. I loved him and am remember most of that relationship very fondly, but admittedly wish I’d spent those years dating around.

    Reply Link
    • csp July 26, 2018, 11:28 am

      Totally agree with this one.

      Reply Link
  • Juliet July 26, 2018, 10:02 am

    Cute is only worth 2…
    On a scale of 1 to 100.

    Reply Link
  • brise July 26, 2018, 10:28 am

    When you start to make a list, then it is not a man you love. You will know and experience how it is to be really in love. It is something else than that, making lists. It is a desire and an impossibility not to be with this person.
    By the way, no one is perfect. There will always be something lacking. Know that for the future, life is made of intensity and lacks, or we would not be alive.
    Do the right thing and liberate yourself (and him, as you are not in love with him).

    Reply Link
  • Fyodor July 26, 2018, 11:23 am


    Reply Link
  • SpaceySteph July 26, 2018, 11:52 am

    You should never ever settle, however you also need to know that looks aren’t everything. I also don’t think looks are the main driver of whether or not you want to rip someone’s clothes off. Chemistry comes from the whole package– who the person is inside and out. If you don’t feel that for this guy, I don’t think its just because he’s a 6 and he’s short.
    If you’re going to be with someone for the next 50 years, looks are a drop in the bucket. Chemistry is important. Personality is important.
    Maybe you are too young to be looking for that kind of relationship, which is totally fine– you’re 22! Go forth and live! When you’re ready to settle down, I think you’ll realize that looks are only part of what you’re looking for.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Skyblossom July 26, 2018, 2:23 pm

    If you are asking the question you are with the wrong person.

    If you’re with the right person you don’t care who is better looking. You don’t care if they are a 6 and people think you could do better. You don’t care if you are taller. You certainly don’t think twice about what some strangers might think when they see you together.

    Keep looking until you meet the guy that makes you not care what others think. The guy you don’t try to measure with a list. The guy you just want to be with because you want to be with him.

    Reply Link
  • anonymousse July 26, 2018, 3:09 pm

    Why date someone if you don’t want to fuck them?

    You are 22. This is the time to make mistakes, bang whoever you want (with protection, of course) and marinate in your narcissism.

    Find a super hot dude who rates you in just the same way. There’s a lot of them out there.

    And yeah, I also th8nk that age gap at your age is just…yuck.

    Reply Link
  • Avatar photo

    Juliecatharine July 26, 2018, 4:24 pm

    A 34 year old dating a 22 year old is not a catch, he’s either in it for the arm candy or is severely stunted. MOA, date, experience life, and adjust your attitude because it’s really unattractive.

    Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Skyblossom July 26, 2018, 4:31 pm

      The age gap is bad. He is either emotionally immature or he loves having a hot, young girlfriend on his arm.

      Reply Link
    • MissD July 26, 2018, 5:42 pm

      Somebody needs to tell my friend this. He’s 36 and always going out with girls in the 22-26 age range. I tried to explain to him how this is weird and he doesn’t understand why. He doesn’t think there’s any difference between himself and a 22 year old.

      Reply Link
      • Avatar photo

        Juliecatharine July 27, 2018, 7:47 am

        Miss D. If you’ve had that conversation and he literally doesn’t think there’s a difference between a 36 year old and the 22-26 yo young women he dates maybe it’s time to take him at his word that he’s stunted. Seriously, that’s the conclusion I would come to.

    • saneinca July 27, 2018, 12:43 am


      Reply Link
    • Avatar photo

      Copa July 27, 2018, 9:13 am

      I have a friend who is turning 34 in the next few weeks. Exclusively dates women ages 20-24 or so. I think it’s super weird. I’ve met a couple of his girlfriends over the past few years and I’ve liked them all as people, but they always seem so YOUNG. They all still live at home with their families. One wasn’t even 21 yet and couldn’t even drink with us at brunch. One was 24 and pressuring him to get married. Anyway, he doesn’t think it’s weird. BUT, I also think few quality women closer to his age would want to date him.

      Those first couple years out of college when you’re finding your footing professionally and financially, and figuring out who the F you are as an adult, I think age gaps shouldn’t be huge. A couple years older is fine. Twelve is pretty messed up.

      I’m in my early 30s and at my last job we had a lot of very recent college grads (like 0-2 years out of college). The maturity gap between myself (29 at the time) and someone right out of college was actually really interesting to witness. I cannot even imagine dating someone that young.

      Reply Link
  • Rick July 27, 2018, 7:50 pm

    Sorry LW ….Wendy is so wrong here …

    Many people comment or question why someone would go out with a particular person. They just won’t say it to your face.

    If there is a big mismatch in either person’s looks, people notice and talk

    I have seen many good looking women with average or even ugly looking men and even i wonder to myself “what the hell does she see in him”?? I have heard similar comments from friends. It does happen. I mean what the hell did Julia Roberts see in Lyle Lovett??

    You can tell a lot about a person by whom they’re dating/having a rship/married to.

    Reply Link
    • JD July 28, 2018, 8:32 am

      Ya like you can tell a lot about the women with you because clearly they are idiots.

      Reply Link
      • Rick July 30, 2018, 4:04 am

        Sorry to disappoint you JD, but they actually like me 🙂

    • Avatar photo

      Dear Wendy July 28, 2018, 8:37 am

      And you can tell a lot about a person who would be that interested in why a good-looking woman is with a less conventionally attractive man. It’s just so super shallow and invasive and stupid. And really, anyone who matters shouldn’t care and anyone who cares shouldn’t matter.

      Reply Link
    • Rebecca July 28, 2018, 10:37 am

      Let them notice or talk, who gives a shit. Looks are not guaranteed, and I’d rather have a great personality in a mate than a pretty face.

      Reply Link
  • carolann July 27, 2018, 11:03 pm

    We all get ugly in the end. Seriously, I have dated / married some really good looking guys… none of them look quite like they did now that they are pushing 50. Looks fade…and pretty quickly too.
    If LW is so good looking then she should be able to have her pick of good looking guys her own age…oh no?
    I seriously doubt she is quite as cute as she thinks. Most woman I know who think they are all that … SO aren’t. (and the ones who don’t think they are, are often really beautiful.)

    Reply Link

Leave a Comment