Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Why Am I Only Attracted to Bad Boys?”

Why am I having such a hard time with men? I’m a 20-year-old female who suffers from pangs of loneliness and I’ve chalked it up to sucking at dating. I’m Russian, which guys find “exotic” and alluring, and I am studying to be a doctor. I’m definitely on the higher end of the attractiveness scale and get a lot of male attention, but I feel it does me no good.

Coming from an all-girls high school and spending my Bachelor years studying my butt off, it’s been tough finding the time or circumstance to interact with decent men. Bucketloads of guys want me for sex only. I swat them like flies because that’s not what I’m after.

I also chronically end relations with a guy after only a few dates (especially if we met online) because 99% of the guys I’ve been with get attached to me at a quicker rate than I can handle. They say they want to be with me and I’m unlike anybody they’ve ever met; meanwhile, I’m mentally begging them to apply the brakes. This *premature* clingy behaviour destroys chemistry and interest instantly for me, if there was any chemistry to begin with.

Most of the men I’ve had fireworks with have turned out to be manipulative scumbags but have an insane attractiveness that’s hard to get past. These are the men I’ve mostly met in person. I get bored/struggle to have chemistry with nice guys and, boy, have I TRIED to work on opening myself up. These are mostly guys from online whose profiles I meticulously examine to avoid the douchebaggery of the past. If I met a guy like this in person, I would only date if there were fireworks. Usually, there aren’t. Dates with these caring guys may as well be dates with my cousin. They are also the ones that will get clingy, and that makes things harder.

So far, so bad. Do I need a major attitude readjustment? Should I suck it up and try and develop chemistry with nicer, tamer men even though it’s so hard? Should I get off the dating apps? Why are the bad boys so attractive and WHY, for the love of God, am I, a successful, cute girl who tries to be caring and welcoming, constantly hit with the unlucky stick? — So Unlucky

Right away, in your second sentence, you say that you suffer from pangs on loneliness that you chalk up to “sucking at dating.” Well, first of all, I wouldn’t say you “suck at dating,” so much as you haven’t found a good match yet. You’re 20 — not having found a good match is hardly an indication of poor dating skills. Second of all, it’s interesting that you would chalk up pangs of loneliness to your dating status rather than, say, the status of your social life. In your five-paragraph letter, you make zero mention of a single friend, or a single place you hang out or activity you engage in (besides studying your butt off) even as a reference for a place you might meet a potential “right match,” let alone cultivate friendships. At 20, the best way to counter loneliness is not by going on endless dates, but by investing in close friendships — friendships that could very well last a lifetime if you’re lucky. Some of my best friends are those I met at 18, 19, 20 years old, and I know that isn’t unique. (For what it’s worth, I didn’t have my first real boyfriend until I was 21…).

So my most important advice to you is to stop focusing so much on dating and work, and focus instead on fostering friendships and nurturing hobbies and interests outside of studying. It’s in a close circle of friends, and during activities that stimulate you and bring you joy, where you will be most likely to meet potential dates you have more in common with than just a strong mutual physical attraction. You are more likely to find a connection of the mind and spirit and all that good stuff when you share some mutual friends or enjoy similar interests and hobbies.

Another thing that jumped out to me in your letter is how you end relationships after a few dates because the guys move too quickly for you and you are “mentally begging them to apply the brakes.” How about instead of mentally expressing yourself to these guys, you actually voice your needs and desires to them? Sure, it may do zero good and the guy may continue to progress at breakneck speed because you are so special and so unlike any other girl he’s ever met. But! What if expressing your needs is actually met with an appropriate response and the guy backs off a bit, respects your wishes, and gives you — and your new relationship — a little space to breathe and thrive? Stranger things have happened.

Finally, yes, I think you DO need an attitude adjustment, and that you should try harder to cultivate some chemistry with “nicer, tamer men” you seem to find so unattractive, even though “it’s so hard” to do. It’s not fucking harder than getting burned over and over and over by the hot guys you have immediate fireworks with who disappoint you after a few dates, is it? I mean, if you burn your hand every time you attempt to cook on the front burner of the stove, either take a break from cooking on the stovetop, try a different burner, or put on an oven mitt, you know? Right now, you just keep going for that burner, sans protection, and wonder why you keep getting the same result, basically saying that you don’t like food cooked any other way and that cooking another way would be too hard. Girl, it doesn’t sound like the way you’ve been cooking thus far is any good. Maybe what you think is “so hard” is actually easier, and that’s why you aren’t attracted to it. That’s why you lose attraction when the chase of the hot guys becomes too easy because they’ve shown too much interest in you so quickly. That’s why you’re pursuing a degree and a career that’s so challenging — because “easy” isn’t interesting to you.

You say you’re constantly hit with the “unlucky” stick, but your dating status has nothing to do with luck. You’ve been VERY deliberate in your pursuit of love. You’re leaving nothing to chance at all. You’re “meticulously examining” every online profile, purposely dating ONLY men you feel immediate fireworks with, and “mentally putting on the brakes” with anyone who starts turning you off (without even so much as telling them what they’re doing wrong before you dump them and move on). This isn’t bad luck, honey, and it’s definitely not opening yourself up like you swear you’ve tried so hard to do; this is plain and simple, self-sabotaging behavior. If you really want to have a happy relationship, you need to stop.

I suggest a full-on break from dating for a bit. As I said earlier, shift your focus to building friendships. Treat your pangs of loneliness with the comfort of platonic friendships, where the pressure of physical attraction and sexual chemistry is off the table (or, at least, finding and fostering these things isn’t the objective). Let mutual attraction and interest develop organically, off the dating apps and offline, in the real world, among real people, doing real things that stimulate your senses, bring you joy, and increase your self-worth. In that world, you will stand a MUCH better chance of connecting with someone who really gets you (and vice versa). And when you do, let the fireworks build over time, be vocal about your needs, and explore the thrill and excitement in the challenge of building a relationship rather than the flash thrill of chasing something pretty.

***************

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.

14 comments… add one
  • avatar

    JD January 3, 2019, 9:17 am

    Sweetie fireworks fade. You want some intense passion you believe is the making of a good relationship but that isn’t how it works. Oddly a large amount of people I know who are happily married say they weren’t super into their spouse on the first date. Not that it doesn’t happen but I find it interesting how many say this, gave it a chance and now are the happiest I know. I wasn’t that into my husband at first, frankly he was way more into me at first, and now we have one of the most passionate, loving, amazing relationships I’ve ever had. The best fireworks are those that build up. You barely know someone on a first date so to expect that level is naive.

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      Allornone January 3, 2019, 9:38 am

      I personally love that my bf and I are well past the newlywed fireworks phase. I’m still attracted to him, and we remain very intimate and affectionate, but there’s something about the safety and ease of where we are now, that I can just look at him and know he gets me and I get him and that we will be there for each other. I’m a neurotic mess most of the time, but my relationship with him makes me calm and sane. It’s so comforting. While I enjoyed the endless makeout sessions and fire of the past, this phase seems so much more real and healthy. Or maybe I’m just boring.

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      • avatar

        JD January 3, 2019, 9:40 am

        I agree. As fun as it was I enjoy the comfort of my husband knowing me, getting me and knowing he will always be there. Not worrying about where we stand and just enjoying the comfort.

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      Fyodor January 4, 2019, 8:06 am

      Eh. She’s 20. She should enjoy the fiery passion of youthful relationships while she can and worry about more mature romance when she’s a bit older.

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      • avatar

        JD January 4, 2019, 8:31 am

        I agree that she should but since she’s so worried about why she can’t find someone more serious that would be why.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie January 3, 2019, 9:38 am

    I was also struck by no mention of any friends. Are you going out with friends where you meet these guys? Have you asked your friends to set you up?

    Wendy’s right – you can’t ever expect anyone to read your mind. You want space? Ask for space. Say it right up front: I am busy. I am not interested in an all consuming relationship. I am looking for someone who has his own life and engagements who interests me. You say you are ditching these guys after a few dates, how much time are you leaving between these dates? A day? A week? The douches, are those one night stands that you’re trying to turn into something else?

    BUT… there are plenty of attractive men who aren’t total asses; so there is a chance that you are picking guys who give off a vibe that they don’t have time for you, and because you don’t want something too serious, that has an initial appeal. I don’t know. You sound like a bit of a mess.

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  • avatar

    Rebecca January 3, 2019, 9:40 am

    Sweet holy mother of cliches…

    LW, you’re 20. Give it a decade.

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  • avatar

    snoopy January 3, 2019, 10:07 am

    You’re probably attracted to manipulated bad boys because they play games and pretend they aren’t into you right away. Compared to the ‘nice guys’ who are actually honest about their feelings for you, these manipulated douchebags make you do the chasing.

    So yeah, you need an attitude adjustment. It’s *hot* to find someone who’s into you. Someone that you learn to like more as time goes on. Not someone who pretends they aren’t into you and makes you chase them and plays games.

    And like Wendy said, use your words to slow them down! Don’t just mentally say it. You don’t have to agree to every date they want to go on, you can exert control as well.

    But mostly, like other said, focus more on developing strong friendships and a social circle. Studying is important, but making friends and experiencing what life has to offer at 20 is also important.

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    • avatar

      snoopy January 3, 2019, 10:13 am

      manipulative***

      I need more coffee

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  • avatar

    Essie January 3, 2019, 11:01 am

    I think I remember you from the forums, LW, and I remember that you had a rather high opinion of yourself, contempt for what you viewed as “weak” men (what the rest of us would call nice, normal guys) and a very skewed idea of how relationships work.

    Somewhere along the way, you got taught that macho men are the only thing a woman should want. That the desirable guys are the rough and tough ones, who come on strong and maybe don’t treat you too well. That men who don’t act that way – guys who move a little more slowly and treat you with respect – well, they’re not manly enough.

    And now you’re finding that the men you’ve been taught that you’re supposed to want aren’t really what you want. I think this is something to unpack in therapy.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark January 3, 2019, 11:19 am

    Drama drama drama. All my life I have had friends — male and females —singing the badboy (and even girl!) blues. It’s so fucking tedious. Why? Because all one has to do is simply NOT make the same sorry ass mistake over and over and over and over again. It’s called — better choices. Look into them.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom January 3, 2019, 1:24 pm

    Guys won’t fix your loneliness. That’s something you need to do on your own and only when you have that fixed should you look at dating. You fix loneliness by being a good friend to people, both men and women, that you find fun and interesting and in general compatible with your life.

    Because medical school is so time consuming and stressful I think a good place to start is with your fellow medical students. You are already around them a lot and it is a natural thing to grab lunch or study with your peers. While doing casual things like eating you talk and talking means sharing and that builds friendships. You will have more in common with some of your peers than others and you will tend to gravitate to them. Build strong friendships.

    Romantic relationships are a combination of sexual chemistry combined with deep friendship. You need to work on being a good friend in order to be ready for a romantic relationship.

    I found that when I was dating there were lots of guys who were genuinely nice but I felt nothing for them. That’s okay. You don’t need to feel chemistry for most guys. You only need to meet one who is nice and that you feel attracted to and want to know better. I went a long time without dating because I didn’t see the point in dating guys just to date guys. Then one day I met my husband and it was instant attraction and since I hadn’t been dating anyone I was available to get into a relationship.

    Build friendships so that you aren’t lonely and be patient about meeting the right guy. Be aware that the right guy when you are 20 probably won’t be the right guy for life. Make your life happy without a guy and then when you meet the right one he is a bonus. I very much believe you are only ready for a relationship when you don’t need one to be happy. If you find a guy interesting and attractive and he doesn’t appear to have any of your red flags go out on a date if you like but without too many expectations. Dating does teach you what you need and want in a relationship and it does teach you to watch for red flags. You’ve gotten that far while dating so it hasn’t been a waste.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star January 3, 2019, 3:00 pm

    You are so young. I don’t know why you are so fixated on dating right now, when most of your time is going to be spent studying to be a doctor. Focus on your studies. You don’t have time for a meaningful relationship right now. Maybe you subconsciously get that, which is why you run away from anyone interested in commitment.

    Am I the only one who finds “intense bad boys” funny, not sexy? How do you not burst out laughing at them?

    Maybe it’s just me.

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  • avatar

    Ashley January 3, 2019, 7:26 pm

    Any time there is a problem in your love life you have to look inward, you are the only constant. I think you are getting manipulative jerky guys because….you sound kind of like that in your letter. I always thought opposite attracts was kind of BS. Focus on being a better person, stating what you want honestly and without malice, making friends and enjoy being 20!

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