Behold the agonies of a Guardian reader, who is looking for a man:
I am 31, with a successful career, friends, my own home and a close family, but I struggle to find relationships with men.
What’s that “but” doing there? Men, in the main, don’t care if a woman has a successful career or her own home (unless he’s a bum), and they are as likely to see friends and a close family as drawbacks rather than assets. How many of your mates are also single?
Now the time has come where I want to settle down.
At 31 the men in her dating pool will be between 33 and 40. She can find one who is handsome, smart, and single: pick any two.
I usually meet men online, though never really pass date three – this often being my decision. I find it difficult to “fancy” men I have met online, though I have fancied those I’ve met in real life. Sadly these encounters recently have led no further.
Translation: the men I want to be with are already married. All that’s left are men I don’t want to be with.
I usually find it’s the same reason I end up finishing with men online. They were not confident enough, not willing to take a lead, and I don’t feel sexually attracted to them.
If they were confident and willing to take the lead, they’d have snaffled a partner long ago. Remember those guys who used to chat you up when you were 25 but you turned down? Not looking so bad now, are they?
I really want a long-term relationship that leads to family life, but I don’t know how to find it.
This is a bit like a 31 year old man deciding he wants a military career.
The advice she receives isn’t bad, but it isn’t half dressed up:
First, change your criteria. If you’re looking for a long and meaningful relationship instant sexual frisson might need to slip down your priority list.
In other words, she needs to drop the lofty standards she believes she’s entitled to and come to terms with the fact that she’s going to have to select from the blokes who are sat in front of her, not the married men in the office.
You should never force yourself to endure a physical relationship with someone you don’t fancy, but it can take more than one date for people to reveal themselves.
Underneath that beer gut and bald plate is a wonderful personality.
It might be better to pause your rigorous appraisal process and learn to make friends first.
A veiled reference to the modern woman’s 277 bullet-point list of requirements every partner must satisfy.
I suspect your determination to secure a lasting relationship could be the very reason it’s eluding you.
Your expectations are unrealistic, and you come across as desperate.
Life can’t be programmed to deliver the moment we want it to. We have to embrace the mystery and surprises along with the frustrations.
It’s not going to just land in your lap, dear. You need to work on this a little, starting with yourself.
This young lass could have saved herself the trouble of writing to the Guardian by listening to Grandma.