Waiting For Superman? Don't Hold Your Breath

Why single women want the fairy tale, but never find it.

Dating Advice For Ladies With Unrealistic Expectations

Dating announcement:
Desperately seeking Prince Superman.

Tall. Dashing. Handsome. Strong. Romantic. Thoughtful. Sexy. Humble. Philanthropist. Rich. Loves his mother. Great in bed. Loves to give massages. Volunteers at the local shelter. Reads to the blind. Rocket Scientist. Six-foot-two. Perfect teeth. Always in a great mood. Loves cellulite. Buys flowers every Wednesday. Always has good breath. Has own private jet. Does the dishes. Exactly like my father. Exactly NOT like my father. Makes the bed. Has NO FLAWS WHATSOEVER.


... The list goes on and on and on.

Unfortunately, I'm not making any of these up. These are examples of things I've heard from my female clients regarding what they want in a man. Of course, there are things on that list (and on every girl's list) that are perfectly appropriate and reasonable, depending on unique, individual needs, but would you really rather be single and alone just because he forgot you prefer lillies and brought you daisies instead? 

Here's the problem I see time and time again — unrealistic expectations. It's probably one of the top reasons many people have such a hard time finding the right person for them; what Ms. Single-and-Looking defines as "right" is actually completely wrong.


Let's look at this phenomenon a little more closely. Why do we have such unrealistic expectations to begin with? Where do these ideas come from? Who taught us that if it's not happily ever after then it must not be true love? Aside from the obvious cartoons we all watched with princesses, dwarves and fairy tale creatures, we get our lessons in love from what we witness growing up. Of course there's a bajillion and one messages people get from their families depending on the dynamics, parental relationship (or lack thereof), and ways we each interpret those messages as kids.

For example, if your mom constantly put your dad down and criticized him, you might have learned that women should emasculate men and men should be doormats. If your mom did everything for everyone else and always played the martyr (i.e.: never taking care of herself with a "woe is me" attitude), then you might learn that your own needs are not as important as everyone else's (and you might end up with a man who needs a mommy for a partner). If your dad was always betraying your mom and she looked the other way, you might learn that women should put up with anything and ignore any and all indiscretions.

Those messages will repeat themselves in your grownup relationships unless you've spent time trying to understand and change them. Keep reading...

More Dating Advice from YourTango:


If you were lucky enough to grow up in a functional, loving, traditional household (I use the word "traditional" very loosely), then you might not have acquired any preconceived relationship challenges (lucky you!). However, even with a fantastic upbringing, some people still face heartbreaks and dating disasters as adults. It's because no matter what you do, you cannot control or predict other people — and dating always involves at least one other human. Therefore, it's always a risk.

Perhaps you had a father who was like Superman to you. He could leap tall buildings (he could get on the roof to fix the satellite dish). He moved faster than a speeding train (he could ski a double black diamond as if it were a bunny hill). He was stronger than any mountain (he stayed in shape and made sure people knew it). So what kind of man will you grow up to look for? Superman, of course! Is that wrong? Not necessarily. Is it realistic? I'm gonna say no. Superman doesn't exist, and here's why:

While that amazing superhero dad of yours was doing all his superhero things, you, as a child, never noticed his kryptonite. What I mean by that is he had his flaws just like everyone because (and I hate to burst your bubble) he was human. Yup. He was. You just never saw it because your dad is supposed to be your hero — and that's OK! What's important, though, is once you grow up and start looking at the world through a more mature lens, it's necessary to see and accept the flaws and humanness in him — because that's reality.

What if your dad was the opposite? Maybe he wasn't all that swell. I'm not talking about regular, every day flaws. I'm referring to the really not-so-good things like abusive, super angry, a big jerk—I'm sure you get the point. Unfortunately there are lots of girls who have had to grow up with this type of parent, as well. Because he's the first man from whom you learn about relationships, you learn that relationships are painful, scary, and lonely. As an adult, women from these situations will either find men who repeat this type of behavior because that's their "normal" OR she will have created a fantasy of a man who can save her from that kind of life and always be in search of—wait for it—a superhero (which is fantasy...not reality). 


I'm not here to bash dads, or moms for that matter. Parenting is super hard and there's no perfect way to be a perfect parent. What I want to highlight is that, no matter what parenting you experienced growing up, it will inevitably affect your choices in dating.

I know, I know, reality sucks sometimes. But it can be really great, too, and can also alleviate a lot of pain and heartbreak if you know how to appreciate it. Here are a few suggestions about how to live and date like a real human: Keep reading...

Be realistic.
Seems obvious, right? Wrong! (See list at beginning of this article). I can't tell you how many women I've worked with over the years who have been in search of love and, when we get to their list, have the most unbelievable requirements for Mr. Right. Usually I assume that their list has been influenced by past heartbreak, romance movies and some crazy self help book they read. Bottom line: If you want a REAL relationship and REAL love, then you must be REAListic in your search. This doesn't mean you have to compromise; it means you must decide what you value most, versus what might be "icing on the cake".

Take your own inventory.
That's right. Is your list representative of things you, too, can bring to the table? If one of your deal breakers is that he always brings you your favorite flowers on Wednesday, are you willing to always let him play online video games for 3 hours on Saturdays? If you are looking for perfection, are you saying that YOU are perfect? Hint: the answer is NO, no one is perfect.


I don't care if you spend every waking moment of every day of your whole life trying to be perfect, it's not gonna happen. You are human. Everyone poops. Everyone gets a zit now and then. And everyone has flaws. If you don't have a single flaw, then you may want to call the Mothership to come get you... because I think you are lost and on the wrong planet.

Are you really looking for love or are you playing it safe?
Sometimes my clients are looking for someone that's so spectacular they subconsciously know he doesn’t exist. It's a defense mechanism many women use to keep themselves safe from heartbreak. "If he doesn't fit my list then I can dump him, and avoid getting my heart broken." In order to find someone, you have to be open to vulnerability. You'll get nowhere fast if your expectations of a partner are so outrageous that only a computer-generated program could possibly meet them (Come to think of it, maybe there's an app for that!). To combat this I highly recommend working on your list to make sure it's reality based. I have a formula I use with clients (and myself!) to ensure "The List" is realistic and tailor-made to fit each person's unique wants and needs, without being unattainable.

Ladies, I'm not saying Prince Superman isn't out there, but maybe he doesn't look exactly like what you think he's going to look like. Maybe he'll fit your criteria but it will be in a different package. Keep an open mind, an open heart, and please, put down that fairytale storybook. Nobody rides a white horse to work anymore.