Punching below your weight: How to find a keeper

I am sitting in a café, and next to me sits a couple, that any observer would count as being on very different ‘levels’.

This couple is around my age, maybe 5 years older and they have caught my attention because of a trend I’ve seen occurring over the last year – extremely mismatched couples. Or as some may put it, ‘punching below one’s weight’. That’s right, slumming it, not pulling the goods. It occurred to me that this is because we have reached ‘marrying age’, the ‘pressure zone’ as some may coin it. It is time to settle down and when I mean settle down, for some of us, that purely means to settle.

We’ve all experienced the gamut of relationships. Long distance, High School Sweetheart, Lust filled, dramatic, crazy, should have stayed as friends, long-term ….

I think we can all agree that the scariest relationship was the one where our partner was special. Attractive, smart, talented – all the things you ever wanted. Then came the day it ended, taking you forever to get over the heartbreak.

Could you go through that kind of heartache again? Hell no!

So you’re on the hunt for someone solid, dependable, probably not all that attractive to the opposite gender. Someone, who would give anything to marry you. Someone that felt so thankful to be with you that they would never stray.

Wow. How fucking depressing.

It seems that in the face of fear, you have decided to allow love to lose its importance, replacing it with the need for security, for the boring instead of the inspirational.

Let me fast forward. You’re now 50 with 3 great kids, living the same suburban experience as your parents and their parents before them, all because you couldn’t risk spending your 30’s alone.


Don’t do it!

I know where you’re coming from. Yes, it is scary feeling thinking that you’re never going to find someone and that if you do, you better hold onto them because if you don’t, it may take even longer to find someone next time round.

It’s a race, didn’t you know?!

If you’re the lucky last of your friends to find love, bouquets are purposefully thrown your way at weddings and brunch conversations revolve around married friends sharing possible options with you, describing potential partners as having a ‘solid work ethic’ and being ‘upbeat and personable’.

A year of bliss vs 30 years of monotony?

I’d take the one year of bliss. It may seem like more of a gamble but the inspiration you feel from being with a partner you’re passionate about, the qualities you adopt when you’re with someone who makes you a better person, the smile that forever dances in your eyes when you’re truly happy, isn’t worth sacrificing thanks to some self-imposed deadline.

I’m not saying anyone is ‘better’ than anyone else. Some people are just a better fit. Don’t settle for anything less than that. Afterall, this isn’t just your 30’s you have to get through but the rest of your life.

Find a knockout. Life is too short to play it safe.


  1. So essentially you are saying that if you are with a person that isn’t “hot” you “settled”…. because nothing else goes into that decision making process??

    I’ve been out with women that are good looking, but they were as thick as bricks… if I had stuck with them, I would be ridiculously unhappy…

    grow-up, there’s more to life than looks.

    1. Not talking about looks at all. I’m talking about people’s personalities, whether or not someone inspires you, instead of plain adoring you. You need to be challenged and excited by your partner, not just with them because you got sick of playing musical chairs, so you just sat down on the next free chair and decided that it would do.

    2. To add to that. By being with the ‘hot chick’ that was ‘thick’, you could have also ‘settled’ believing that you’d reached some kind of peak and you should just stick with it. Goes both ways….

      1. agreed… my point was more that you seem to have made an assumption based on, from what I can gather, looks?

      2. NO! Not at all!! This para sums it up for me –” It may seem like more of a gamble but the inspiration you feel from being with a partner you’re passionate about, the qualities you adopt when you’re with someone who makes you a better person, the smile that forever dances in your eyes when you’re truly happy, isn’t worth sacrificing thanks to some self-imposed deadline.”

  2. I can’t help but think that you’re overlooking the fact that ‘less-attractive’ people have to work harder to develop their personality/ skills? Perhaps they are actually the more interesting ones…? Hmmm?

    1. Again Paz, not talking about looks. When I said ‘knockout’ I was keeping in theme with the ‘punching below one’s weight’ line.
      Find someone that knocks your socks off. Not a supermodel.

  3. hey krist, i get what you’re saying here and agree with the main thrust, but there was some wording that lent itself to the impression you were equating attraction to physical looks (especially regarding a couple you saw in a cafe. it’s a little hard to judge much other than surface in that situation). I can see where the raised eyebrows came from.

    i’m down with the rallying of people to live their passions, but I think there’s something to be said for the dependable, solid types. my parents weren’t exactly a mills and boon novel, but there was a loyalty between them; to stick things out to the ends of their lives. that i admire. even if I never have it myself.

    I think people change with age, and what they want changes. It’s not just racing the bodyclock; what satisfied me when i was 19 wouldn’t even interest me now.

    1. Hi Max
      I can see how people may have believed I was talking about looks, thanks to starting off with a physical judgement of a couple in a cafe but really they just sparked my current train of thought around the relationship turmoil I have seen explode around me in the last year.
      There’s everything to be said for the dependable types. I love that your parents were passionate about their commitment to one another. We all hope for that and I guess in a sense, what I’m saying relates to doing the right thing by someone. Isn’t it a disservice to be with someone for the sake of having someone to take you away from single life? You’ve got to think the person you’re with is tops and quite frankly, if you don’t, you shouldn’t be with them. For they are missing out on being with someone that thinks they are the bees knees.
      I agree with you entirely. Me at 19 was a very different person. I know exactly what I want and who I am and I guess, again, all I’m saying is, age shouldn’t dictate anything, your heart should lead the way and your mind will do the rest.

  4. Since you are generalising from your own experience, I shall do the same.
    After half a dozen or a dozen “years of bliss”, they just don’t cut it anymore. They all start to feel the same. The pros and the cons start to rebalance. You realise that while you can fill up alright on hors d’oeuvres, it still never feels like a meal; and in the end, you want a meal.
    You’ve also realised that the qualities you want in someone to go the long-haul with are different from those you want in a crazy intense passionate affair.
    It’s not one or the other. I’m glad for – and learned so much from – all those roller coasters. And the woman I’m with now never blew my mind as thoroughly as some of them did. But what she does for me – and it’s something I never would have appreciated or even recognised at 25 or maybe even 35 – is something so much better.

    1. I’m so glad you’ve found someone awesome. Sounds to me that you did what I’m saying to do? You didn’t just jump in did you Dirk? You took your time and found the awesome woman that you’re with? Or did things pan out differently? I’d love to hear more. Either way, I hope I can be as happy one day! 🙂

  5. You are partially talking about looks. The café couple, did you get to know their personalities?

    Also, you may not realise this, but your entire life is from a hot girl’s perspective. Yeah you’re intelligent and creative but your looks have played a major role in all your relationships, romantic friendly profesional. That’s the way it is for everyone and to pretend otherwise is silly.

    “So you’re on the hunt for someone solid, dependable, probably not all that attractive to the opposite gender. Someone, who would give anything to marry you. Someone that felt so thankful to be with you that they would never stray.”

    Someone that has such an unattractive *personality* that they would be eternally grateful to be with your attractive *personality*?! It’s hard to imagine that dynamic unless you’re shopping for potential boyfriends at hospital psych wards.

    Looks, personality and health are the three basic attributes we possess. Health, especially mental health, is the connecting tissue between looks and personality. No-one really talks about health. Some people insist that looks are key, others say that it’s deeper to focus on personality, but without health none of it matters. From obvious physical problems like cancer or paraplegia to more subtle mental health problems that drive drug addictions or destructive relationship choices…

    Never mind. I’m out of my depth talking about this stuff.

    You’re basically arguing against the mentality of Diana King’s song “Shy Guy”.

    “I don’t want somebody who’s loving everybody
    I need a shy guy, some kind of guy who will only be mine”

    I think you’re right.

    Nice to see more of your voice bleeding into the self-help vibe you’ve been wordpressing. More viscera!

    1. “Health”, eh? You’re right…that’s hardly ever brought into consideration. Or it’s the distant third.

      Still, I do hear “crazy chick”, “needy”, “desperate”, “clingy” and “daddy issues” bandied about when my mates discuss potential gals, so it is on the radar in some form.

  6. I disagree, I think the problem with girls nowadays is that they punch far too above their weight in their youth, get heart broken a dozen times by the same 10% of men the 90% of women feel they are entitled to be with and then they have this attitude of, I’d rather go without if I can’t have what I want. That’s fine for some girls, but from the looks of it this is an epidemic!.. well in Sydney anyway. Can’t tell you how many girls have turned me down because they feel they are too good for me, when originally I thought I was too good for them? Weird. Love your show by the way.

    1. Hey ptys!
      Love hearing your opinion on this, especially being a Sydney-sider myself. I think the fact women are holding out is interesting! I don’t know any of those ones to be honest. So far, most of the single women I know have been living in the power of the yes! Myself included. If someone asks you out (in person, social media doesn’t count) you say yes and see how you two get along. I think we’ve all felt that you never know someone unless you spend some time with them and who knows? They may just be a perfect match!

      1. Yeah I get frustrated when I hear of the “man drought” in Sydney as myself and some of my male friends seem to get over looked alot by the same girls we used to date in high school and University. There becomes this long shopping list of things you need in order to be eligible, which sometimes is difficult to achieve for you ordinary guy. But I guess I’ve been guilty of picking girls based on there looks alone, so it goes both ways.

      2. Sometimes I wonder if our little clicks in Sydney, stop us from meeting other singles. We don’t go to a wide array of night spots (and for some of us we don’t really do the clubbing thing anymore anyways) and we go round in circles in our own little groups wondering why Sydney is so ‘small’ and there’s no one left?!
        Every girl has a different shopping list and I’ve heard some lists that make me cringe….There are some of us though, that believe you don’t marry success, you achieve it.

      1. It’s funny as I no longer go to night spots either. Tend to enjoy a few quiet drinks at a small bar on a weeknight not in the hopes of meeting girls but just to be amongst it… and you never know? Last girl I asked out was at an RSA training I did for work, LOL. Have to admit seeing a group of more than three girls can be extremely intimidating to approach especially if there are other guys there. It’s all about the icebreakers, a guy just needs a smile or a “hi” to know a girls interested and he’ll usually do the rest. Thing that confuses me alot is the difference between a girl just being friendly and a girl being interested, tend to mix those up alot!

        Yeah, the shows my little Monday monotony breaker on iView, really enjoyed ‘The Thin Blue Line’ couldn’t pull myself away for a second.

  7. btw Kristy, don’t take the criticism to harshly, good to see that you are ballsy enough to put your thoughts up in the internet, which can be one of the harshest environments in terms of the feedback that you get back…

    also ptys…
    there are some great small bars around Sydney now and I agree that they are a great place to go and just hang out…

    1. Haha not at all! I am not backward in coming forward and would prefer to surround myself with those that have strong opinions. Yes men are boring 🙂 Thanks for the support though and hopefully we can go head to head in the future! Haha

    2. “… ballsy enough to put your thoughts up on the internet”? What is this I don’t even.

      I was looking at joining the Defence Force or becoming an SES volunteer, but I’ve decided to become a blogger instead. Now, where’d I put those wrist guards…

  8. I was essentially going to echo the thoughts of many who’ve already replied. It seemed from the offset that you were judging the ‘level’ of people based on their looks alone.

    I’m one of those guys who consistently punches above his weight in relationships. From an outsider’s perspective, at least. My last girlfriend was studying arts/law, spoke fluent Italian, and was a model. The girl before that worked in finance and was the face of a make-up company. And at the moment I have a girl who keeps asking me to marry her who has a body that guys only dream about. Damn right I’m bragging.

    You were talking about Sydney women above. I happen to think it’s Australian women. Our girls have a barrier up, if they’re single. The only decent conversations I have with women are with those who already have partners. Their guard is let down. They show their true personality and they allow themselves to laugh, whereas single girls I encounter seem to assume that I only want into their pants. Instantly stand-offish. As if spending the time to get to know someone who wasn’t necessarily Mr Perfect is time poorly spent.

    Your “knockout” may be the Men’s Health pin-up boy with the trust fund. Or, he may well be the assistant sales manager with a weight problem.

    End Rant.

    1. I think men don’t have a clue how much of an effect charm & confidence can do for them.. You’re clearly one of those guys with instant charm.. I think you should msg me.

      Seriously though, I do agree with you- it is Australian women in general. But to balance that, Aussie men have a particular mentality which is quite frustrating (and Im sorry that I am being general but we are all talking from personal experience) but they tend to think if they give you ONE freaking compliment, then you’re supposed to just jump and say OMG yes you’re so amazing please please please date me.

      I don’t think its fair to assume someone is a particular way (ie stand-offish) just because she doesnt melt when you talk to her. Some people have been burnt, very very badly and may not instantly let their guard down, and some people may just be out to catch up with friends or let off some steam and not really thinking about meeting someone..

      Of course, if a girl is just a bitch to you well then thats a different story.. I just dont like the pressure of having to give someone my number just because I was nice to him and didnt tell him to leave me alone. I’ve been called the worst things just because I have engaged in conversations with guys who have approached me and then said look it was nice chatting but I am just not interested in dating at the moment- Great. Now I sound stand offish. But maybe you guys can explain to me what I should be saying- as I commend and appreciate someone actually saying HI HOW ARE YOU- but what if I feel nothing, no spark, no attraction- why is it such a crime to say “it was fun chatting but.. ”

      It is so confusing at times. Help me out here.

  9. Is this about looks, or the Gen X mid-life settling crisis? My last ex, while a physical match people approved of, was no where near my league of needs when it came to emotional maturity, morality, love, support or friendship. What if I find the latter, but he is not the former. Do I say no to that because he is not a physical match you, Tom, Dick and Harry think is beneath me? Sex and the City covered this off with Charlotte and Harry’s relationship. Harry made her happy. Recently, I’ve been watching the West Wing, and while everyone gushes about Sam Seaborne and Josh Lyman, I’m attracted to the balding Jew Toby Ziegler because his is the voice I like roaming around in my head. It’s the simple things that get us in the end, and that’s what makes us happy.

    1. Point is, to pick happiness. Not the easiest option to take you off the market. This is a Gen Y point of view, being Gen Y myself. I can’t stress anymore how this post is not about looks. This post is about back the horse that will stay because you’re scared of heartache and being alone in your 30’s. Definitely about the ‘settling crisis’ though. I can’t hear one more person say ‘I owe it to her’ to get married or ‘he doesn’t rock my world but he thinks I’m awesome’.

  10. Excellent blog post, and something I also feel strongly about.

    I may be skipping ahead here in to marriage territory, but here are my thoughts:

    It all boils down to what I call “love out of convenience”, and its something that I see far too often amongst my family, friends and people around town. People seem to reach a point where they become settled and comfortable with their partner, regardless of whether they are the best match for them or whether there is actually any “love”. The longer this goes on, the harder it is for the couple to realise the problem and to try and resolve it.
    For unmarried couples, this can also become the reason for marriage. I have seen some of my friends go for the big marriage just because it seemed like the logical thing to do. They had reached an adequate age and been together with an adequate partner for an adequate amount of time. The American Dream come true.

  11. Nicely blogged Besty. I hope people “read” past the photo as you did justice to the topic past the superficial. I know exactly what you mean and I’ve seen countless friends settle for second best or even first worst because it was the devil they knew. Often it was because of an abusive past producing an idea that they didn’t deserve better or that subservience was the only thing that relationships had to offer them – & happens to both boys and girls.

    I am surprised at some of the comments that are fairly generic and marginalizing to you personally. “You may not realise this, but your entire life is from a hot girl’s perspective” is a subjective qualification, pretty offensive and an entirely misleading stereotype. Kudos for having good grace in your replies. Obviously your perspective has is entirely segregated from your place of birth, cultural heritage, family dynamic, friends etc – just level of “hotness” and “gender” o_O

    Of course when you are as amazing as us it’s hard not to punch below your weight LOL 😉

    1. Segregated? I tried to talk about the three basic attributes I think are universally important (looks being just one), but I gave up because I’m a self-professed spazz. Thanks for the goggle eyes though. O_o

      She’s more than just a beauty, but when an exceptionally physically attractive person marginalises that factor, it rings false. At least it does to me LOL smiley face.

      The boxing metaphor is the most interesting thing anyway because it alludes to the dark core of human sexuality. We’re not so removed from the detached brutality of animal husbandry, whatever social niceties we wreath on our nature. But that’s way too big an idea to address in a comments section, internet acronym emoticon!!!

    1. I’d love for you to elaborate. Shallow in what way? For urging people to embrace being alone over being with someone that you don’t love? To not waste someone else’s time and take advantage of their feelings for you, so you’re not the ‘single one’ in your group of friends? To pick the smart guy that challenges you instead of the guy that carries your bag and says yes to everything you ask for? This isn’t about looks, this is about coupling up because you’re too scared to be the last person asked to dance.

      1. Agreed. I think when you have experience in this, the whole race against time or else you will be an old spinster bullshit droned into your head, the argument is both personal and emotional.

        It is so difficult for some people to understand me when I say things like I DONT CARE HOW ATTRACTIVE YOU THINK HE IS, HE DOESNT MENTALLY STIMULATE ME!

        Muchos kudos for not being afraid to be the last person asked to dance- if I am there with you, technically we’re the last two..!

      2. Gosh I think you are bleeping fantastic!! And its like you read my mind with this article. I actually dated somebody for a while that verbalised this sentiment to me “umm I thought being an attractive means someone always saves the day for you” Then it occurred to me that people out there literally think being attractive is like magic and you couldn’t possible understand what real life is like (since you are obviously only seeing things from a “hot girls perspective”) arghhh!!!

  12. Interesting post. I know what you’re saying Kristy and understanding where you’re coming from. It’s easy to look at a couple and based on looks/dress you kinda wonder what’s happening. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the way it is. We all do it.

    I used to only date guys I found physically attractive. You know, had “chemistry” with.

    Then I woke up.

    I’m 27 now, married for 18 months to a guy I met at soccer. He was a backpacker from Germany and as you can imagine… I wasn’t expecting to meet my perfect man friend at soccer. All nasty and sweaty like, I looked far from attractive. haha. After 3 months of playing every week with this particular bunch of blokes, I realised how gorgeous the German was… and I don’t mean looks wise. He was meek, gentle and extremely good at kicking a soccer ball.

    I thought… here is a lovely guy who would make an excellent life partner.

    And he did.

    I dated him for 3 months, we married and I just had his baby.

    I don’t consider him the type of guy that girls would chase… and I’m not an oil painting, so I don’t think it’s a matter of settling Kristy.

    It’s more about maturing after dating a bunch of hot, rich assholes.

    enough from me.

    1. I don’t want to see my girl friends end up with rich, hot men. I want to see them end up with men that inspire, challenge and excite them.
      A yes man isn’t enough.
      It sounds like you found a good guy. We’re all in search of one of those. But sometimes the nice guy doesn’t inspire you. You can’t just stick it out because he’s in love with you. That’s pretty much what I’m saying. Don’t settle down with someone just because. Be with someone because you couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. 🙂 That’s all I’m saying. Sounds like you’ve found that x

  13. Great Blog and i totally agree! Lots of men and woman hit 30 and straight away “have to get married” or settle right down… Most of the time it is not with the person of their dreams.. it is with someone who “will do”.
    End result… they end up unhappy, one in two end up divorced and they are now 45 and a single parent.. (much harder to find happiness) i would think??

    This all came about by the individual settling for 2nd best and rushing relationships and making decisions for the wrong reasons?

    Why settle for 2nd best?

  14. The picture of your article is entitled “hot girl, ugly guy”. And judging people while sitting in a cafe seems very superficial and shallow. You can swing this back to personality at the end of the article and in these comments but this post starts off from a very immature perspective of relationships.

    1. Sure. You can thank Google for the name of the pic. As for where it started, I’m happy for you to feel that way. It was an observation. It got your attention. At the end of the day, looks OR personality, no matter what we’re focusing on, we’re all running around scared just wanting someone to love us back and that’s when we lose sight of why it is you decide to spend the rest of your life with someone. Because they’re great, not because they like you more than you like them. I’m not sure where you are in the world, or how old you are but so many women around the age of 30 in Sydney, Australia have engaged me in the ‘anyone’ instead of ‘the one’ conversation. Sometimes a girl gets sick of being lonely and it takes a lot of courage to believe someone amazing just might be out there for you. Thanks for your thoughts.

  15. Love this article Kristy. Totally resonated with me.

    All relationships begin with a physical reaction to someone. Reaction being the operative word. Appearance is the first thing we see- unless we are blind, or getting to know someone online – sans profile pic.

    “I think we can all agree that the scariest relationship was the one where our partner was special. Attractive, smart, talented – all the things you ever wanted. Then came the day it ended, taking you forever to get over the heartbreak.”

    Um, hello – are you reading my journal? Being with someone who is considered attractive to the masses is a gamble. Its easier and safer to ‘settle’ for someone who might not make your heart race as MUCH as the Brad Pitt look-a-likes of the world.

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