Seven Signs of an Emotional Coward

A totally biased and not-at-all politically correct guide to avoiding Mr. Wrong

A totally biased and not-at-all politically correct guide to avoiding Mr. Wrong

Austin Photo Set: News_Christina_avoiding mr wrong_april 2012_bad date
Healthy adults recognize that mistakes are what make people interesting.  After all, every mistake offers a chance to learn lessons and gain wisdom. Courtesy of redorbit

Are you a woman in your early thirties or beyond? Are you tired of going from one dead-end relationship to the next? Do you still hold out hope that you will find someone special to settle down with? If so, listen up, because this story is for you!

The following is a guide that will help you avoid unnecessary heartache by detecting bogus sincerity (or “B.S.” for short) without having to waste months or even years of your life in the process! Think of it as a tool you can use to smoke out the tools.

You know the kind of guy I’m talking about. He’s in his mid-thirties or beyond and has never been married. But rather than being okay with his profile, he constantly talks about wanting to settle down and have kids. He swears that he always thought he’d be married by now. He is forever imploring people to fix him up with heir friends and is non-stop searching for Ms. Right.   

 The following is a detector to identify people who are Commitment Oppositional While Always Requesting Dates. This COWARD detector can save you untold amounts of time and frustration.

But despite his obsession with marriage, he never even gets close to walking down the aisle. In fact, he can’t sustain a relationship more than two years tops — and most of them end much sooner than that.

The following is a detector to identify people who are Commitment Oppositional While Always Requesting Dates. This COWARD detector can save you untold amounts of time and frustration. After reading this, you should be able to spot a COWARD in any setting: At work, at a party, at the gym, at church. You can be friends with him if you have the patience, but don’t date him unless you’re okay with frittering away your time in a relationship that won’t amount to anything.

Here are the characteristics to look out for: 

1.  I’m okay, you’re…well, you could use some work.  Image is everything to a COWARD. So, when it comes to a potential wife, a COWARD is looking for perfection. He wants a woman who looks fabulous all the time — like she just walked off the set of a Ralph Lauren photo shoot. Ralph Lauren models never have morning breath, bad hair days or spinach in their teeth. A COWARD knows this and is always on high alert for these defects. The minute he spots one, it’s the beginning of the end.

2.  Don’t stop believin’.  COWARDS often talk about believing in “picket fences” and holding out for the “total package.” To a COWARD, the total package features a girl who is educated and has a respectable job, but not a job that threatens his ego. So, nurses and teachers — and the new millennium equivalent of those jobs, pharmaceutical sales reps or title company closing agents — are all excellent candidates.   

But most importantly, a COWARD wants a girl who has never been married and has no kids. His wish list was not so untenable when he was in his twenties. Once in his thirties and beyond, holding out for the girl who has never been married and has no kids becomes more and more improbable. As time wears on, the pool of potential women meeting that criteria who are within ten years of his age (younger, of course) rapidly dwindles. Rather than modifying his standards to make them more age-appropriate and realistic, he instead keeps trying to date women who are fresh out of college. He spends a lot of time pursuing girls who are not likely to be interested in him. Plus, the bigger the age gap, the less “perfect” the relationship will look to outsiders. And that presents yet another problem for a COWARD, since image is everything.

3.  With this ring, I thee dread. A COWARD hates divorce. He views it as a sign of failure and thinks it tarnishes your image and converts you into damaged goods. That’s why he can’t marry someone who’s been married before — because they are very publicly less than perfect. And that’s also why the very idea of marriage is terrifying. He has to be one thousand percent sure that the marriage will be perfect and last forever before taking the plunge. Because there is no way of knowing that with certainty, he never has the courage to get past go.

Often his fear of making a mistake is interpreted as fear of making a commitment, but these are really two different problems. To the extent a COWARD is afraid of making a commitment, it is because he can’t shake the feeling that someone better might come along and then he will realize he made a mistake. And it is this fear of making a mistake that paralyzes him. 

4.  Thank you for smoking. A COWARD will often get into a relationship with someone even though that person has what he believes to be a fatal flaw. Take smoking for example. I knew a COWARD who got into a relationship with a girl who smoked even though this COWARD hated smoking. The whole time they dated, he constantly complained about her habit and insisted that she quit. It was a common topic of arguments between them. After a while, he broke up with her. Why? Because she smoked. Never mind that he knew she smoked from the first time he met her. He felt the break-up was totally her fault. 

I’ve seen COWARDS do the same thing with religious beliefs, political affiliation and even kids from a previous relationship. By dating someone with a fatal flaw a COWARD has the break-up all scripted out from day one. It’s like having an insurance policy on your relationship — only instead of helping to tip the odds in favor of your relationship succeeding, it works in the opposite way: It guarantees its failure. The COWARD can parachute out of the relationship at any moment, and jettison all the blame in the process. And if we’re being totally honest, that’s the real definition of relationship success to a COWARD.

5.  Separate checks, please — unless it’s a reality check. Because COWARDS deliberately get into relationships that won’t last, they both resist and resent spending money on their dates. They keep a running score of who pays for what and constantly track how much they have invested — in terms of money, of course — in the relationship. Every time they have to open their wallet, they are doing the math of whether they are getting a good return on their investment or whether it’s time to pull the plug.

6.    Double the standards, double the delusion. A COWARD is only interested in girls that look like Scarlett Johansson (if she’d only drop a few pounds), or Penelope Cruz (but maybe with blond hair), but objectively speaking, how does a COWARD look? On a scale of average to acid wash jeans, he falls somewhere in the middle. But judging from his standard uniform of a polo shirt tucked into some pleated-front khaki shorts, accessorized with a braided belt, and topped off with some sports socks and tennis shoes, objective self analysis is not a COWARD’s strong suit. In other words, he is completely oblivious of his not-so-hot looks and persnickety habits. All of the ignorance; none of the bliss. In his mind, he is a total catch. And this overall self-delusion keeps him believing that he has a realistic shot with the hot new TV news reporter that totally looks like Pamela Anderson’s way younger sister. 

7.  Can’t touch this. There may be some things on paper that make a COWARD look attractive. More often than not he has a good job — maybe he’s a doctor or an engineer. He probably has a nice car and owns a house. Often, he likes to travel. But behind every strength lies a weakness. His really nice house? Don’t touch anything, because he’s really OCD about it. His strong relationship with his family? Well, guess who still holds hands with his mom at the grocery store? His love of travel? His past five trips have been to his old Boy Scout camp to relive his merit badge glory days.


Well, there it is. Not a pretty list, I realize, but hopefully a helpful one nonetheless. Learn these signs, and you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration. 

A healthy adult recognizes that mistakes are what make people interesting. After all, every mistake offers a chance to learn a lesson and gain wisdom. But a COWARD's fear of failure sentences him to a one-dimensional life spent idling on the starting line.

But now, thanks to the COWARD detector, you can blow right past Mr. One Dimensional and keep on going until you find someone with enough wisdom (gleaned from his mistakes)  to see you for the multi-faceted person that you are (thanks to your own set of misfires). And when you hit that stretch of road, you’re in for a beautiful ride.