Beautiful and Smart, But Unlucky in Love: The Reasons Why

gentlemen_prefer_blondes_movie_trailer_screenshot_16-1

I have treated many beautiful women who reported a history of bad relationships: unfaithful boyfriends or husbands, frank physical or verbal abuse by their partners, or a loss of interest by the men from whom they most wanted that interest. There are lots of reasons for this. Here are a few:

1. If you came from a home where you were neglected, criticized, or abused, your self-worth is likely to be less than what it should be. Recall Marilyn Monroe: famous, beautiful, and talented, but insecure and unlucky in love. A woman with the background I’ve described often looks for approval from someone who unconsciously reminds her of the person who failed to love her as a child. It is as if the unconscious mind is still looking for the thing never achieved before (love or approval), and it only has value if it comes from a similar person. Since the parent in question was neglectful or critical, the chosen substitute will likely be that way as well, providing the woman with another chance to win loving attention. Given her poor choice of a partner, the sought-for affection and approval are no more likely than they were in childhood.

2. Whether male or female, if you moved too often as a youngster, the insecurity of being the new kid on the block is hard to shake. You may also feel the never-ending need to prove yourself. Once again, insecurity can lead to choosing someone less good and kind than you deserve.

3. Are you too needy? Are you dependent upon your boyfriend or husband to make decisions for you? Are you unable to support yourself financially? Can you bear to be without a boyfriend for very long? Do you need regular reassurance you are “the one and only?” This gets old. While that reassurance will temporarily calm your fears, your lover will almost surely tire of it, leaving you insecure if you don’t ask repeatedly for confirmation of his devotion (or him feeling put-upon if you do). As with a number of the concerns mentioned above, therapy is suggested if your self-worth requires an ever-present escort who constantly bolsters you; and a tendency to lose your sense of self in the relationship, forget about your friends when with a romantic partner, and give-in to the new love-interest for fear he will otherwise leave you.

4. Is your beauty (or sex) all you believe you have to offer? There are tons of gorgeous, sexy women out there and, unlike you, they won’t age! (Or at least it will seem so, since, as you get older there will be a new cohort of young females who eventually will look preferable in purely physical terms). Although men can be pretty primitive in their response to the physical characteristics of women, qualities like wit, kindness, intelligence, good humor, and integrity grow in their value to all but the most unenlightened men. As someone once said, “Beauty fades, but stupid is forever.”

5. If a man shows interest in you too early, are you turned off? It’s true that there is an element of gamesmanship in dating and mating, but don’t choose the intrigue of a man who is hard to get and miss the devotion and decency of another.

 

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5b/Du_Caju_%28miss_Belgian_Beauty_2006%29.jpg/500px-Du_Caju_%28miss_Belgian_Beauty_2006%29.jpg

6. Are you entitled? Do you believe your boyfriend or husband should keep you on a pedestal, shower you with gifts, and buy the best house in just the right neighborhood? Do you value money, status, and material things too much? If you do, a well-grounded man will tire of you or avoid you. One who is less secure or less enlightened may simply become weary of your demands for “more,” and instead seek a woman who is less self-involved and shallow.

7. Are you a good listener? I hope so, because relationships demand this. If you aren’t, your partner will not feel understood. Unless you respect the differences between yourself and your lover (which very likely were initially attractive), you will find the relationship works poorly or not at all.

8. As I’ve said before on my blog, sexual interest and enthusiasm are necessary parts of a good relationship. Abandon them at your own risk. However, this is not to suggest you should have sex simply because your partner wants (or worse) demands it.

9. Do you allow yourself to be demeaned in public by the man you are with? I always ask marital couples seeking therapy what attracted them to each other. One male I recall said, “She ‘shows’ well,” about his beautiful wife. The words and tone were demeaning, in no way a compliment. Indeed, the man might have said the same thing about a show dog or show horse. The lovely lady remained silent. A more self-respecting woman might have walked out of the room.

10. Do you have a drinking or drug problem? Does your male friend? How do you know you don’t? Just because friends and acquaintances drink as much as you doesn’t mean you can avoid the alcohol or drug-driven downside of heartache, arguments, and a bad end to the relationship. Read up on alcohol abuse to get a sense of where you stand: http://www.alcoholscreening.org/

11. Do you wind up with men you feel sorry for? Not a good choice. Do you give in to men who pursue you relentlessly, even though you aren’t enormously attracted to them? Again, this is not destined to lead to a successful match.

12. Do you believe you can change the man you are with? A miraculous transformation is unlikely to occur. Meaningful alternations in any of us take their own time and much painful effort. As the old therapy joke goes, “How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “One, but the light bulb has to want to be changed.” Take a measure of who you are with while you are still capable of being objective, which means your evaluation needs to be done early in the relationship. Once your heart takes over, rational judgments are either too late or altogether impossible.

13. As a father two two career-minded, married daughters, I applaud independent women who forge careers. But just as a man needs to remember his wife and children require attention, so do women in high-powered careers need to live by the same rules. If you are neglectful of your partner, mentally or physically exhausted by the work you do between 9 and 5, and consumed by issues related to your vocation, the relationship is at risk.

14. Are you too critical? If you experienced or observed a fair amount of criticism growing up, it is easy to become like the person who did this. Indeed, we are often at risk of becoming the thing we hate, or of normalizing the unfortunate characteristics we observed in our parents because we had no other family to compare them to. Compassion, understanding, forgiveness, and acceptance are needed in any good relationship, and in large quantities.

15. Do you expect your boyfriend or husband to fulfill your life and make you happy? No one can really do that for you, although having a companion can be worthwhile and important. But a relationship will not solve all problems or make life perfect. Don’t expect it to. The weight of that expectation is more than most lovers can bear.

16. One final point, and a sad one. If you are smart and beautiful, and especially if you are professionally accomplished, there are men out there who will be intimidated by your competence, intelligence, authority, and attractiveness. As a result, you might have to generate more than the usual amount of effort to find a good match. Unfair, but true.

In closing, I should say that making a good choice of mate, regardless of whether you are a man or a woman, is challenging. But there are a lot of good people out there (albeit fewer men than women), so if your history shows a pattern of failed choices, its best to look in the mirror and ask why. And, if you can’t come up with an answer or change your pattern even though you are aware of repeating the same mistakes, therapy often helps.

This post has generated one very heated and critical comment. You might want to read it and see what you think: Dealing with Online Criticism of that “Bald, Ugly, Old” Man: Me.

The top photo is of Marilyn Monroe, a cropped frame from her 1953 movie, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds. The second image is of Céline Du Caju, Miss Belgian Beauty 2006, taken by Eddy Van 3000 and sourced from Wikimedia Commons.

43 thoughts on “Beautiful and Smart, But Unlucky in Love: The Reasons Why

  1. I’m seeing a pattern here. I keep noticing you reference to therapy. Why is it that therapy is the only definite way of resolving such issues in your essay’s? I’m referring to the essay’s regarding insecurities, relationships, and this essay…It may be me, but I’m just seeing this quite often. I’m starting to think I need it.. heh

    Like

    • Thanks for your comment, Christina and thanks for reading. Of course, therapy isn’t the only definitive way of resolving personal issues. Some people are very insightful about what they are dissatisfied with about themselves and what will fix it. Some will read books or talk to friends and gain insight. Some will take on those things about which they are afraid and change themselves almost as an act of will power. Some will learn from what experience has to tell them and change themselves. But for many of the others, therapy can provide a route to change and sometimes even empirically validated methods to make that change.

      Like

  2. Telling The Truth

    well God certainly punishes many of us innocent people these days.

    Like

    • I’d certainly agree that there is lots of unfairness, whatever the cause. I hope that your luck changes. Thanks for commenting.

      Like

  3. […] “Dealing with Online Criticism of that ‘Bald, Ugly, Old’ Man: Me” Beautiful and Smart, But Unlucky in Love: The Reasons Why […]

    Like

  4. Hi Dr. Stein,
    I am almost 40 and never had a serious relationship. I am a well-educated, professional woman. When I start liking a guy, he backs away. Because of this rejection, I haven’t dated in three years.As a child, I was not rejected at home, but some kids rejected my friendship at school. Moreover, I’m not demanding or acting defeated around guys. What pushes guys away?

    Like

    • Beyond what I’ve said in this post, it is hard to know. If you have some friend who is observant and knows you well, she or he might be a good source for the particulars. I suppose one might also ask oneself the question of what kind of man you are drawn to? You raise the issue of timing, which prompts me to think you might also want to consider how quickly you attach strong feelings to men and whether that is evident to them. None of what I have said necessarily applies to you, but I hope I’ve given you some things to think about and, as I said, perhaps there is someone who knows you and your history and can enlighten you. All the best!

      Like

  5. Some of us never had these problems. We are what I used to call real ppl. You know, average smart, average looks. Maybe a little kinder than average. But lving in the real world where we are not going to be loved just for our looks. It’s what my aunt told my cousin who couid not figure it out by 25 years old. Think about what you have to offer, bc most of us aren’t head turners. Can you be kind, tell jokes, make someone feel special , have talents? WE are all unique whether or not we are pretty.

    Like

    • drgeraldstein

      Very well put, Nani. You might want to read the short poem of Philip Larkin, “Born Yesterday.” It describes his wish to the new female child of friends of his to be “ordinary.” I think you might find his reasoning for this wish to your liking. Please don’t misunderstand my suggestion as in any way indicating that you are ordinary. Indeed, you sound very wise. Larkin’s take on being “ordinary” is interesting.

      Like

  6. Some people are just unlucky and there is nothing you can do about it. Life is random and unfair.

    If Love has never touched your life, you have to come to terms with that fact and move on. I’m 43 and have only really experience love from my departed mother. I would love to be a mum have a husband and be happy but it just never happened for me.

    Although I am sad and heartbroken you just have to be brave and carry on. What else can you do. No matter how beautiful you are. It take one person to recognise your inner and outer qualities and if that never happens then you just have to live your life as best as you can.

    Like

    • Well said, Meagan. I hope the rest of your life is enriched by many other things. And, just perhaps, an unexpected love.

      Like

    • Why do you have a defeatest tone? Why do you sound like you’ve thrown the towel in, and there’s no hope for you? You’re only 43! You’re not dead! Get out there and have fun, and someone will see you having so much fun and want to join you.

      Like

  7. Yes.. I was just thinking all about it for the past few days..why I am single. 31 years old , attractive , European(if that matters) etc etc.. Why men that I meet seems never take me as a serious woman not as a one night stand, but serious, Christian and with values ? The last relationship that I had was a year ago. And what I believed I had with that person turned out to be just another lie as when he left me he admitted that it was nothing serious or didn’t mean anything to him.. Funny, but men in my life would just draw this beautiful picture of the future and they would just shatter it all after getting what they want.. And I am not that type of a woman that sleeps with the guy on a first date ,,or second or third..No. Being sexually intimate is something very personal to me . The most personal thing I can share with a person after develop trust with.. So for about a year I had no men in my life. And in that past year men would make a move..but these men are either married or in some kind of other relationships or whatever that I would never ever dare to disrespect myself like that. I am not picky , I am not needy .. I am a good listener, I do everything I can for the people I love. I have so much love in me and I wish I could share that with someone special..
    Well.. at the end I was thinking, maybe its a bad thing I like to look at my best everyday, dress up even when I go grocery shopping, nails done,hair done etc etc.. I take care of myself , because I love to feel good about myself. Maybe that gives a bad impression about me? I don’t know..
    Reading all these comments I realized one thing. I am not the only one in the whole planet to be single.. also I was lucky to become a mother and I have a 11 year old boy that is my oxygen . Yes I wish he had a dad.. but so far we are happy.. with each other.. and I still want to keep believing that one day that special person will find us to make us even happier:)
    ERIKA

    Like

    • Thank you for commenting, Erika. No, I wouldn’t think that being European would make any difference to a serious man. And, you do sound like a fine person. Some men, of course, don’t want to marry someone with a child, but many do. You may find that as time passes, some of the men who are actually worth your time will be back on the market after a divorce. So, in some sense, the odds change a bit in your favor. You do not sound at all desperate, nor do I think you should be. There is still much opportunity. In any case, I wish everything good for you and your son for the holidays and 2015.

      Like

  8. …because it’s all her fault? Really? You mean ugly and dumb women are lucky in love? Men more aggressively (and deceptively) pursue beautiful women, overlooking her other traits in favour of what he wants from her, he is blinkered. If you’re a plain woman a man looking for a conquest will say “I’m not interested in anything serious right now” because she is seen as less rare and he assumes (not necessarily rightly) that a plain woman he doesn’t need to lie to to get what he wants, if you’re beautiful he will tell you how he has been waiting for you his whole life because he knows if he tells the truth he will not get what he wants, if you’re beautiful and smart he will lie to you AND directly attack your self confidence (if not your self esteem) to “bring you down a peg” to a level he feels you are accessible to and controllable by him (AKA the pick up artist community, why don’t you check them out and write something about how messed up they are). Beautiful women are still seen as something to be manipulated and possessed, a trophy, their other traits are overwhelmed by others perceptions (and desires), peoples wants, fears and insecurities are projected onto them.

    You can’t blame a bad upbringing, someone who’s lived a sheltered life isn’t going to spot the warning signs of an abusive man so quickly as someone who has seen it coming, if she can do much about it is another thing, it’s naive to think only certain people will end up with an abusive spouse and it ignores practical aspects such as agency, social stigmas (both stereotypes of disadvantaged people and of advantaged not wanting to be stigmatized who don’t disclose abuse) and socio economic practicalities, you can’t leave if you have nowhere to go. The vulnerability does not come from her internal state either, it comes from a lack of social support and the way articles like this victim blame only compounds the distance people put between themselves and the victims, shame on you, blaming her makes her easier prey and washes the guilt from the perpetrators. Also missing from the discussion is age, young women lack experience, had Marilyn for example lived she may well have been happily married by now and who knows how her life was distorted by the press, people love a tragic idol, you don’t see people running down women like Sophia Loren.

    You’re damned if you do damned if you don’t if you’re a woman no matter how you look, your level of intelligence or your success you will always be judged. If you’re smart and beautiful and in a happy healthy relationship there will always be someone trying to re frame that too “how happy can they be really?” women are seen as public property and putting this all on the individual woman is a cop out and a cheap shot. You want to write something enlightening try examining the men and the bystanders in this situation, nothing happens in a vacuum.

    Like

    • I don’t agree that I have uniformly blamed the victim. You seem to be taking my words to an extreme not present in the writing. That said, I will let your words speak for themselves and readers may evaluate you and me as they wish. I have written about men and, as regular readers know, not in a way to whitewash them. And, I do agree, the behavior of bystanders is often not at all admirable. In any case, thanks for your comments.

      Like

    • Perfectly Said!

      Like

  9. I was just asking if your problem is finding love and not just finding trie love or at least good relationship.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • I think the question you are asking is entirely different than the one I’ve attempted to address here. Some of the same reasons might apply, but there are a range of other possibilities. For example, are you shy? Are you depressed? Are you angry? Are you a perfectly fine person who has been unlucky? Do you live in a place where the women outnumber the men by a large margin? It would be a very long list. The good news is that it appears you (or the person about whom you are writing) are still looking for love. Sometimes it comes by surprise, sometimes late. One never knows. Love is sort of like a lost object: it is always found in the last place you look. Best wishes.

      Like

  10. Well im just sick and tired of seeing other women with what i feel like I deserve..It’s VERY depressing because its like…What the hell is she doing that im not???

    Like

    • drgeraldstein

      Sometimes it is not anything you’ve done. I’ve met too many fine woman who aren’t lucky in this way. The good new, though, is that life can change in an instant. I wish you all the best.

      Like

      • Beautiful..just what I needed to hear..life can just change in an instant..and holding on to faith that one day, right time. Right place he will walk into my world rocking it 😊

        Like

      • Thanks, Peta. Chance plays a bigger part in life than most of us wish to imagine. I’d not be surprised if a good person turns up.

        Like

  11. Jocasta Eleanore Forbes

    I can relate to this article and the comments which have been posted. I have been married 3 times all the marriages ended in divorce sadly. I think i went for the same type not knowing i was doing so really. I am now 68 years old single i have my own flat and a busy social life. I date men but don’t get to involved no more marriage for me. I think the trouble is some people go into relationships at times with the feeling they can just use the person as they think it suits them. Not thinking of the other person’s feelings which is very wrong. I got divorced because my husbands thought i was just there to please them and do the chores. I wanted a life not be a doormat to someone else. Of course it works both ways men can get used too by women which is just as bad.

    Like

    • drgeraldstein

      Thank you, Jocasta. You might have read Aristotle’s “Nichomachean Ethics.” One of his subjects (in Book Eight) is the question of different types of friendships. A friendship based on utility is the lowest form, as your experience suggests. Best wishes.

      Like

  12. I consider myself to have been unlucky in love. I am an intelligent, attractive professional. I was married to an abusive drunk for many years. Three beautiful children. I suffered PTSD as an outcome of an extremely viscious and unpleasant separation and divorce. He left me destitute. It took me many years to ‘recover’ from this dark period in my life both emotionally and financially. I have dated on and off and then met the man I thought was the love of my life. He was the perfect partner until he moved in and became a moody and cruel manipulator – he was a great actor for nearly 3 years! More years wasted there. I am very happy to be on my own again, but wonder how I have been treated so poorly. I am not needy, I am a hard worker and pay my own way. I am sensitive kind and smart. It is sad to think that I will spend my future alone without someone to share laughs and companionship and travel with. I have a full life and many interests. I look at so many of my friends and family in long term relationships and wonder where I have gone wrong. Is it just bad luck?

    Like

    • First, Fi, congratulations on overcoming the two relationships you’ve described. Not everyone would have been able to do so. I certainly can’t say for certain why you’ve been unfortunate in relationships. However, I don’t rule out bad luck. All of us have been fooled. All of us have had our share of luck, good and bad. We do not control events as well as we might wish or believe we do. It seems you have been doing an excellent job of controlling what is in your power. In any case, I wish you all the best, regardless of what you decide to do about men going forward. The game isn’t over until you say so.

      Like

  13. TheRealTruthWhy

    Well with so many Career women today that are very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, and very money hungry, well that really speaks for itself why many of us Good men are still Single today which is Not by choice.

    Like

  14. Thank you for the article.
    Even though I am quite young to share a lot of experience on the topic, I want to share my observations so far. I am a psychologist, 25, female singer, fairly attractive, smart, etc. The “attractive and smart” is the part others would state about me – I shy away from doing so, since I don’t have the necessary self-esteem. But I objectively know that I am beautiful and smart. I just don’t like saying that for myself.
    Anyways, without further ado, my point is, I have been in one serious relationship so far, which I am still in. I don’t know how long it will last, but what I know is that I have never before been seen as sexually attractive enough by other men whom I also liked. It is an odd phenomenon; I tend to be romantically liked and approached by men I don’t find attractive, whereas I myself keep being attracted to people who don’t find ME romantically attractive, and automatically “friendzone” me. I say it’s an odd phenomenon, because it almost seems like a curse sometimes – I feel like all the attractive and handsome guys both inside and out just don’t have an interest in me. Almost as if they either only like my intellect, but not my looks. Not because I am unattractive, but probably because I don’t have the classic sex-appeal. I have more of an innocent vibe to my presence, which I guess is not attractive enough for men to take things further.
    This is the only way I can explain it. In the words of a male friend: I don’t like you as anything more than a friend, but not because you are unattractive or stupid, but because I just have no explanation about it. It is like the mystical concept of “chemistry”…
    P.S. sorry for any mistakes, English is not my native language.

    Like

    • Thank you, Adi. Your use of language is excellent. What comes to my mind is whether you are drawn to men who are “hard to get,” in which case the reasons for that might be worth thinking about. On the other hand, appearance is not something we all agree upon, so your less than 100% ability to capture the romantic attentions of men to whom you are attracted might not be at all remarkable. I’m glad to hear you have found a mutually satisfying attraction with your current boyfriend. Best wishes.

      Like

  15. TheHonestTruthWhy

    Well the way i look at it is that with many women today that now have their Careers which many of them are so very high maintenance, independent, selfish, spoiled, greedy, picky, and very money hungry too which really speaks for itself. They will Never go with a man that makes much Less money than they do even if he is a very Good man since so many women today really want the Best and will Never settle for Less which makes it a real shame. That is an Excellent Reason why so many of us Good men are still Single today and Not by choice.

    Like

    • Your name, “HonestTruth,” certainly is consistent with the directness of your message. Since I’ve already outlined the reasons for poor luck in love from my point of view, I’ll leave it to a member of the fair sex to respond to your thoughts.

      Like

      • TheHonestTruthWhyAgain

        Well i just wanted to add a little more to my comment that i made a few months ago which i met a woman that i really wanted to go out with but when she found out how much money i made she told me that i only date men that make a lot of money which was very insulting to me to hear this. I said to her that you must be kidding me right? And she said that i feel much more secured when i date a guy that makes a lot of money which as you can see that money happens to be a major issue with these women today which is a real shame how Most women have Changed since the Good old days when Most i would say Weren’t like that at all since Both men and women in those days really were Struggling to make ends meat. Quite a Change in the women of today Unfortunately from years ago which is why there are many of us Good men that are Single today when i have friends of mine that went through the same thing too which Doesn’t make any sense at all when we still make Good money to get by.

        Like

  16. I realize this post is quite old so sorry for still commenting on it. I think the post very well addresses every point. One thing that I was hoping you would include, however, was the fact that some women (okay, fine, me…) seem to somehow have an inherent incapability of falling in love. I could elaborate and tell you the last time that I (age 31, fairly attractive, smart) actually felt anything remotely like infatuation was about 4 years ago…. I would look at ladies going gaga over a beautiful man walking into the room, and I would be like, “how do you DO that…” (and no I’m not gay…)

    Like

    • drgeraldstein

      No problem re: commenting on an old post, Ri. I don’t think I have ever been asked this question before. I can only speculate. Do you have a history of bad relationship experiences that might precondition you to deaden yourself? Or, perhaps, is there some underlying depression? Are you able to have intimate (that is, emotionally close) relationship with women? The questions might lead you to some answers. Best of luck.

      Like

  17. I am told very beautiful, intelligent and kind and men have always run away from me. These 16 points (except nr 16) do not apply to me ,so there must be something else. Therapy did not work. It has always been like this, since college until now (I am 40 and still single, never married) . If I wait for them to pursue me, they will not do it. If I pursue them, they will not accept.
    I tried all to meet someone, charity events, art classes,church, 2 master degrees abroad, police and military conferences, clubs, bars, restaurants, sport clubs, internet dating (many years), to be introduced by old aunts , motor shows etc etc etc.
    I know at least 25-30 young men (counting from school till now) who were in love with me (or at least they said so to others or to me) and I’ve been in love with at least 20 and I have never had a real relationship. They run away, ad litteram. It’s like a curse. Worse now then before.
    Beside beauty and kindness, I ‘ve read thousands books, from antique Greeks till classic French and Russian literature, I paint, I am good at sport, I am very clean, I smell nice, I am not high maintenance, natural looking, decent dresses. I am not arrogant and pride, if I count my qualities here it’s because I want you to have the right picture, not to brag. I am so tired, no one can explain what happens, psychologists, priests, friends, relatives, nobody understands why. It seems that more I want someone, more I drive him away, but I don’t behave needy (unless they can read my mind).

    Like

    • drgeraldstein

      I, too, am at a loss, Claudia. However, I am also confused by this sentence: “I know at least 25-30 young men (counting from school till now) who were in love with me (or at least they said so to others or to me) and I’ve been in love with at least 20 and I have never had a real relationship.” Perhaps if you clarify this I will be able to understand your situation a bit more, since your words suggest you have had both many relationships AND not a single “real” one.”

      Like

  18. If I made any English mistakes, it’s because I have not practiced much recently, I am from a latin European country and English is not my native language

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s