“I just ended a relationship with a bad boy, and started dating a nice guy who has all of the stability and lovely qualities the bad boy was lacking. The problem? I’m not physically attracted to him. I don’t get excited when he calls and even though we did have sex finally, I don’t want to do it again. Is there something wrong with me? Am I looking for the wrong things? Amazon also recommended Lori Gottlieb’s book which gives the exact opposite advice from yours, which is to settle for Mr. Good enough, but the thought of settling depresses me. Should I settle for a nice guy I don’t really like?” —K.

Hi K.,

Your story about the bad boy and good guy are so familiar — we have all been there, tugging between the two of them, wondering which one’s right for us. Well, I’ll say this: By the sound of it, the bad boy sure isn’t right for you. If he’s not providing the feeling that you’re loved and important and taken care of and special, than forget him. You deserve a good guy like the one you’re talking about. But here’s the shortest answer I’ll give you: Just because one particular guy you’re dating is a good guy does not mean he’s the right good guy.

What I read is that you’ve proven to yourself that you can like a good guy. The fact that you took it five dates far and slept with him and see all the potential for a happy relationship with him? That’s huge! That’s progress! I’ll bet that when you were with the bad boy and saw this guy (or guys like him), you didn’t consider those guys as even options for you. So I say kudos to you for doing those visualizations and imagining how good it would feel to be with someone who actually put you at the top of their list and who considers you special.

That said, you don’t have to settle down with the first good guy who makes you feel that way. There are a lot of good guys out there, and the fact that you’ve started dating one is what I call in Meeting Your Half-Orange “the little green sprout.” The fact that you’ve gotten yourself one big step closer to enjoy the company and picture a future with a guy that treats you well? That’s amazing! Don’t get down because you don’t want to have sex with him again; stay up that you’ve come this far with him in the first place. It’s a sign you’re closer than ever to being ready for the right good guy. Maybe it’s him, but I don’t know.

I mean, just read your own words again: “I am not physically attracted to him. I don’t get excited when he calls and I even though we did have sex finally, after our fifth date, I’m not sure I want to do it again.”

The fact is, there is nothing wrong with you. And while I can’t say whether or not you’ve been looking for the wrong things—or have over the years—it sounds like you know now what is important, and that’s all that matters. As for Lori’s book, she makes some good points about finding the important stuff in a guy, about looking for the yes’es, and I couldn’t agree more. But she also pushes the idea that even if you don’t feel a spark or special about the the person you’re with, maybe it’s worth settling anyway and with that, I couldn’t disagree more.

I know that you’re scared because you’re 38 and you want to be in a relationship, but don’t let fear make this choice for you. Do you really want to marry and have children with a man you don’t want to have sex with more than once? With someone who doesn’t make you want to take his call? If you don’t get excited about going out to dinner with him or kissing him now, then what’s going to get you through the ups and downs of a relationship as time goes on? Determination, I suppose. But that doesn’t sound like a very joyous existence to me. And haven’t you waited this long because you want a relationship that enhances your life, rather than bringing it down?

The point of a relationship is supposed to be to add to your life, to make you even happier than you are when you’re single, to perhaps start a family with someone and have fun along the ride of life together as a team. Otherwise, why get into one? But it sounds to me like this guy—so early in your courtship—already isn’t making you happier. He’s making you have doubts. He’s making you question yourself. He’s making you wonder if there’s something wrong with you because you don’t like him.

The truth is, sometimes even the hot sexy guys who look good on paper don’t cause a spark in us. And I hate seeing awesome, strong, gorgeous women beat themselves up because they can’t “make” the chemistry experiment sizzle, they can’t make the volcano work. And the way I see it, without a spark of something, it’ll be hard to make a relationship work. I’m not saying that your other half needs to look like that bad boy and needs to be physically perfect from the outside, but *something* about him does need to elicit a spark of *something* inside you that makes you feel lucky to be with him.

For those who’ve read Meeting Your Half-Orange, you may remember the story of the girl who was best friends with a guy who was balding and wore concert T-shirts, while she’d always pictured someone with higher-end style. Yet when he kissed her one night, the sparks between them flew, and she now considers him the hottest guy ever. The way she put it was, “I’d look at him and say, ‘I’m so glad it’s you.'” Her friends didn’t necessarily consider this nice guy hot and the general public might not, but for her, he’s the cat’s pajamas, and it’s because of how big his heart is, how he makes her feel, and because their physical chemistry—once they tried it—turned out to be electric.

This guy you’re dating, maybe you will fall in love with who he is on the inside. And maybe he will turn out to be a great match for you. But I don’t want you to torture yourself with trying to find it inside him if it’s just not there. My good guy friend just finally gave himself the gift of ending a relationship with someone he kept “trying” to make it work with. He said “I was so exhausted because I didn’t want to *try* anymore, I wanted to just *be.*” And that’s how the right relationship will make you feel. You’ll enjoy being, instead of working so hard trying.

I can’t tell you what to do, of course. This is your life, your heart, your future. But it sounds to me that you’ve finally figured out how you want to feel in a relationship with a good guy, and it’s just now about summoning the right good guy. If “settling” depresses you, don’t do it. You don’t have to! You know what you want now. You can follow your gut from this place forward.

You don’t have to dive into my book if you don’t want, but the truth is, I wrote it for people precisely like you, because you are now where I was when I was dating. I was tired of beating myself up for not liking the “right” people, I was tired of trying to summon chemistry with good guys, and I was tired of dragging myself around to places where I might meet the right someone. What I did, and what you can do if you’re up for it, is simply begin by realizing you’re not asking for too much. A good guy who you’re also attracted to in some way? That’s simply a combo of two men you’ve dated before, and these men do exist. The guy for you may not be a Versace model hot, but it is possible to be madly attracted to a guy with a kind heart who treats you like gold! You just have to believe that guy does exist. I believe he does for you. Now you just have to believe it. That’s all that optimism is—believing it. Maybe it will grow with this guy, but whatever happens, give yourself permission to feel a true connection. Because that’s what’s going to make you happy in a relationship in the long haul.


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