What Makes a Man Attractive?

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There are few questions more frustrating than “What’s he got that I ain’t got?”

It’s a long-running complaint amongst some men that only “certain” guys get all the women1 – the so-called “alpha males” who are tall, dark and handsome assholes with lantern jaws, fast cars, a six-pack and seven figure salary. All other men are just shit out of luck and may as well jump off a cliff; they’re evolutionary dead-ends, forever doomed to be unable to spread their seed and carry on their genetic lineage.

“Sorry guys. Better luck next time.”

Women, others insist, are interested only in hypergamy; only men who offer some means of rising socially or economically are the ones getting all the sexing. Others will say that geeks are shut out because of a prejudice against brains or the socially awkward. Still others have equally arcane ideas of what women – apparently a monolithic entity of vast and unimaginable social power - want.

The common denominator in all these ideas boils down to “something other than me”. The rest of it tends to be a mishmash of theories on what women want (or actually want, rather than what they say they do..) that explains why someone who isn’t them is getting all the sexing. I can relate; God knows I spent enough time in my youth believing that there were two types of dudes in the world: the ones who women found attractive and everybody else. And I was very firmly in the latter category.

Of course, this begs the question of “if only a certain percentage of men get the majority of the women, why haven’t we died out as a species?”

Wait: wrong question. The question is: “How do you know that this is what women find attractive?” The answer is usually a variation of “this is what the media tells me” or “this is what I see all around me every day.”

The problem with this is that, frankly, the plural of “anecdote” isn’t “data”. People are prone to blind spots when it comes to a deeply held beliefs, an intellectual fallacy known as “confirmation bias”; that is, we’re only seeing the things that back up what we already believe and dismissing (or simply not seeing) everything else.

So rather than going on about Studly Good-Night at the club with his Maserati and $4,000 suit is the only one women like, I wanted to get down to what women really find attractive. So I asked them.

Flipping The Attraction Switches

Over on the Dr. NerdLove Facebook page and Twitter feed, I put out the call for women to weigh in on what they found attractive in men – not just in looks but in personality, behavior and lifestyle. Now while I’ll be the first to say that this was not by any stretch of the imagination a scientific study or formal poll, the results are, I think, fairly indicative of what women – predominantly 18-34 and cutting across many ethnic and religious demographics – like.

Now obviously there was a fairly wide variety in what people liked; after all, aside from some baseline factors built in that encourage survival of the species – facial symmetry, outward signs of physical health and ability to sire/bear offspring – what we find attractive tends to change based on cultural and emotional influences.

But there were certain areas – call them attraction switches – that came up over and over again. The men who successfully hit these switches are the ones who are most often seen as “attractive”.

Passion

Women are drawn to men with passion in their lives. Too many people are content to simply exist, following a routine of “wake up, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat” day in and day out, living out Thoroeu’s “lives of quiet desperation”. People with passion in their lives are driven. They don’t just meander or float through life, they have purpose. They have something they live for, something they care about with an intensity that you just don’t see often. There’s a part of their life that brings them fulfilment, that pushes them on and inspires them.

This, incidentally, is why being a rockstar is God’s gift to ugly people.

People who have passion are interesting. They have a certainty and assuredness about them because they love what they’re passionate about whole-heartedly and don’t worry about “maybe I shouldn’t get this excited over my favorite bands” or “maybe I should act my age instead of waxing rhapsodic about the power that books have over me”

Even if it’s not a passion that they both share, when someone is passionate about something and knows how to express that passion in a clear and attractive manner, it’s very hard not to get caught up in their enthusiasm and carried along by it.

Confidence

OK, we’ll get it out of the way now: confidence is the  #2 cliché of what women find attractive in men2. Even so, the fact that it’s included in the list almost reflexively does not in any way diminish the fact that confidence is a universally attractive trait. The problem is how many men seem to mistake arrogance or obliviousness for confidence. The so-called “alpha” behavior that men often mistake for confidence tends to be selfishness and a lack of respect for others, not the knowledge of one’s own abilities and value.

Confidence is, ultimately a belief in oneself; the knowing what you’re worth and what you’re capable of even in the face of people who belittle or demean you. It’s knowing that you are equal to the trial at hand and the correctness of one’s path. Someone who is confident is tempered by self-awareness and humility; it’s less of an the idea that you can’t fail but the knowledge that you can succeed if you work hard.

A confident person knows what he’s worth and is willing to work to get what he’s worth rather than to assume that he just deserves it by virtue of existing. A confident person doesn’t cringe or whine at the first sign of trouble; they grit their teeth and push through it. A confident person in a relationship doesn’t let his partner walk all over him or expect her to be a substitute mother, telling him what to do and how to do it.

True confidence – that feeling of certainty and potential that comes with knowing to your core who you are and what you’re worth – is magnetic.

  1. and by women they mostly mean “sex”, although there are some who will claim that only alphas get the girlfriends too []
  2. just after “a sense of humor” []

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Comments

  1. This is brilliant! Finally! Seriously, I could not give a monkey's bottom about abs, but if a guy respects me, can make me laugh, and can go on and on about anything he's passionate about (don't care if it's game theory or 18th century french lit or knitting), he's got this in the bag, baby.

  2. dichotomousprime says:

    Ironically, the one thing I questioned about myself reading this article was the confidence bit… but what you've described here gives me a lot of encouragement to continue down the path of personal development I've been set on the past little while. Thanks, Dr. Nerdlove! :)

  3. Dear Dr., this is one of the best lists I've ever seen. Yes, yes and more yes to all of these things listed. You are spot on. You've managed to pick out my top five for me, without me even having to think about it. A+ for you sir!

  4. The one big problem is unless they find you attractive, you're not going to get an opportunity to show off your other traits. You can be the smartest, most passionate, funny person in the world, but if they don't like the wrapping paper, they're not going to open the box. I have a lot of great things to offer, but being attractive to women is not one of them. I'm fit and tall but incredibly androgynous. As in, it is a coin flip as to whether or not I will be address as "Sir" or "Miss" when getting coffee at Starbucks.

    Another problem I see is the perpetual discussion of confidence. I'm a nerd, so I like to look at data. If the data is endless lack of interest, it is hard to feel confident, especially when you've fixed other issues you can control and things have not improved. I can pretend the problem has nothing to do with me being unattractive, but if I've checked off everything else, it is hard to see any other answer. Of course, I could assume it is because I'm too attractive and they're intimidated, I do get hit on by gay men all the time, but I don't really think the assumption of too pretty is correct.

    • That's just not true. Like the Doctor said, girls are very subjective about the wrapping paper (for my part, I LOVE androgynous guys), and moreover, girls' opinions of men's attractiveness are strongly influenced by his personality and demeanor.

      At a Con back in July, I noticed a guy a few rows back from me in a panel who was nice looking, but didn't appear to be anything special. A kind of "glance at and shrug" sort of attractiveness. A little while into the panel, one of the panelists pointed out that he was knitting. He INSTANTLY became five times more attractive to me and many other ladies in the room, simply by sitting there and doing something he enjoyed.

      I'll give another example. At this same con, my friend and I noticed a guy across a room party who seemed, again, cute but nothing amazing. As we continued to circle around the parties, we noticed how friendly he was, how the people around him seemed to be having a good time, and how open and comfortable he seemed. At some point later in the night, he approached my friend, who happily spent the rest of the night hanging out with him. If she had been judging him purely on looks, she would never have done that; but the way he carried himself, and the way his personality shone through, far outweighted the initial judgement of his "wrapping paper."

      This is why I don't get why guys complain about approaching. Approaching gives you a HUGE advantage. If you are waiting to be approached, you WOULD be judged entirely on your looks (welcome to the world of ze Ladies.) By approaching, you instantly get a chance to demonstrate your personality. The way you approach, the manner in which you walk, talk, start a conversation… all of this you can control when approaching, and girls give a lot of slack to friendly, non-creepy guys who have the guts to talk to them.

      • Because approaching is hard and rejection sucks, and I know the vast majority of men, myself included, don't view it as an advantage at all. I have never approached a woman who felt the desire to spent more time than necessary chatting to me if she didn't like the way I looked. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I mostly meet women at bars because I don't want to intrude when they're doing something during the day. It seems like a pretty intrusive move to walk up to a woman reading in a book store and trying to strike up a conversation.

        • Well have you tried somewhere other than bars? Do you go to Cons? What about bookstores, comic book shops? What are your hobbies, what are your passions? What advice of Dr. Nerdlove's have you tried to incorporate into real life?

          You don't view it as an advantage? Would you rather be judged solely on your appearance, or have a chance to show off your personality?

          • I have tried non bars including going to meetups and seeing if I can't meet people there. The meetups have been great for learning how to talk to strangers and get to know people in a non-threatening environment, but I haven't met many women at any of the meetups. I guess that has to do with the interests being heavily skewed toward male interest. Quite a bit of the advice, actually, but things that involve approaching women stone cold definitely not. The last thing I want to be is intrusive, and I've read enough to know that women reading, listening to music, etc don't really want to be bothered by some random dude, so I don't bother them. Online dating has, in short, been a total disaster. I don't photograph particularly well, and my nerdy group of friends is not one to take tons of photographs.

            No, I don't. The stinging and shame of repeated rejection far outweighs the benefits of approaching imho.

          • So what are your hobbies and interests? What sort of meet-ups do you go to? I personally am not a fan of meet-ups, because they are kind of isolated social events. I like events where groups of people are the same across a time period… like cons, or neighborhood coffee shops, or regular get-togethers (*cough* DnD *cough*)

          • I'm a musician, I enjoy magic(the gathering), poker, basketball, and I'm an entrepreneur, so I go to a lot of entrepreneur meetups. I also enjoy cooking, but I don't go to cooking classes or meetups or anything like that.

          • Why in the world not? Cooking class is a great place to meet women. I see a lot of couples in my cooking classes, but the woman frequently brings along her single friend, or has single friends she'd love to hook up on blind dates. Do you go to Magic hours at local comic shops? Tournaments?

          • Well, they're not cheap, and I've been told by every woman I've spoken with that I will instantly be pegged as gay in any cooking class, so I'll be fighting that uphill battle. I play on a competitive level, yes.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            So you get pegged as gay. Whoop-de-shit. Five seconds of talking with you should cure them of that.When I was starting out, I got “Wait, I thought you were gay” all the time. Never slowed me down, helped more than a few times too especially once I understood why I kept getting it.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I used to get that for no more than dressing well (ok, maybe a bit flashy) and holding conversations about mutual interest without looking below a woman's neck. Its not worth worrying about and as Doc says, its easy to dispell.

          • My boyfriend gets hit on by gay guys a lot, and because he takes pride in his appearance and likes shopping (and has a lot of female friends), my friends and I have teased him occasionally about being our surrogate "gay best friend." That's never stopped waitresses from slipping him their number on our dinner check. In front of me.

          • Haha, that's amazing. I take great pride in my appearance and love shopping too, but I have never had the good fortune of having a waitress slip me her number. I've never even had a woman hit on me that I know of.

          • Commonly known as X says:

            And you never heard they "why are all the hot ones gay?" stereotype. Once they figure out you are heterosexual, which will be pretty soon, being thought of as possibly gay before won't hold you back at all.

          • OMG. There is nothing hotter than a guy who can cook. One of my life goals is to have more chefs in my circle of friends. If all the chefs I knew weren't taken, my (non-cooking) boyfriend might have some competition. ;-)

          • If you like Magic, try expanding the games you like. I don't know a lot of female Magic players (and I'm in the industry), but there are a lot more women playing other games that share audiences with Magic — tabletop RPGs, board games, etc. I live in Seattle and frequent Cafe Mox (a restaurant and bar attached to a game store, designed to give you a place to play games and eat and drink), and the split there seems to be about 60% male to 30% female. You can often find people there who are looking for a fourth person to try a game. So I'd check if you have something similar in your area. You said you're in a large city, so there should be social outlets where strangers go to play games. Get involved, and become one of the regulars. Even if you don't meet a like-minded woman directly that way, the other regulars may have female friends, sisters, coworkers, or whatever, and if you prove to them that you're a great person, they are a resource to help you find dates.

          • Translate the meetups and such to further friend activity. Your activities and interests might skew towards males…but those guys have female friends, relatives, and acquaintances. I've met quite a few dates and partners as friend of a friend. So you have a Interesting Club you go to. You make friends with people in the Interesting Club. You hang out with those people in other contexts and you meet their friends who come to these hang outs. You will probably meet women at some point in all this activity. There you go.

          • Also, I note that you have not revealed your location. If you're in a small town or rural area, and you've been there for a while, there really might not be that many women in your demographic.

            Also…branch out in your interests.

          • I live in a very large city, so it isn't a lack of people around.

          • Maybe try resetting the goals of your encounters. If your goal in approaching someone is to get a number or a date, you're going to fail quite a bit regardless of how attractive you are. Try just approaching women with the goal of having a brief, pleasant conversation and judge success or failure on that basis. Then, when you get good at that, start asking out women you click unusually well with. I don't even bother to ask someone out until they've given me an indication that they can entertain me with their company for two hours.

            You'll still get turned down plenty, but it won't sting as much because it won't feel like getting shot down. Inasmuch as she was making a judgment on you personally, you will have passed, because you were charming enough to entertain her for those brief few minutes. You'll just know that she probably had a boyfriend, or wasn't looking to date at that moment, or you just weren't her cup of tea, for whatever reason.

          • A thousand times this.

        • How do you know the reason the women you've approached haven't wanted to keep talking to you because of your looks? As DNL points out, there are any number of other reasons, and short of the woman telling you explicitly why she's not interested, you can't know why any particular person wasn't.

          I totally back up what Marty's saying here. There are guys I've been attracted to who aren't by any means typically physically attractive, or even my usual "type" (not that I've gone out looking for guys who fit a specific mold, but over time I've noticed there are patterns in the type of guys I find physically attractive). But an engaging and attractive personality can make a person start to "look" more attractive too. And there have been guys I initially thought where good-looking, but after interacting with them and seeing the unappealing parts of their personality, no longer felt remotely physically attracted to them. For me, at least, personality is a *huge* component of overall attraction, and often overrides physical characteristics.

        • Have you tried asking out women you know instead of strangers?

          • I have not.

          • Why not?

            I don't speak for all women, but I would not go out with some guy I've just met who gave me his number. There is a zero percent chance I would call him back even if I were single.

            People I would (and have) gone out with include friends of friends, people in my classes, coworkers, etc. I know my preferences there aren't that uncommon.

            It sounds like you don't like cold approaching women. Many women don't like being cold-approached. It sounds like you want women to get to know you and not make snap judgments based on your exterior. Everyone, male or female, has more information on which to judge people that they know than people they've just met, and if you're getting to know someone in the context of a common interest, job, class, etc. and not in the light of whether you'd date them, right now, at this minute, it's more natural and you're less inclined to make quick or shallow judgments.

          • This! I have never gone out with someone I didn't already know, and I never would. Most of my friends are the same. In fact I only have two friends who've actually gone on dates with someone they met randomly, and both vowed that it was a total disaster and that they would never do it again. A lot of women will not date someone unless they already know them.

          • He probably hasn't asked out women he does know because of the social narrative that women do not date guys they already are friends with because they don't want to lose the friendship if the relationship ends.

            The fact that there can be a world of difference between 'know' and 'friends' is something that usually doesn't get considered for a guy.

          • Plenty of women go out with friends. My boyfriend was a friend of mine for three years before we got together. In fact everyone that I have ever been with (except for one, and that was the biggest disaster) was a friend first. The one who wasn't, was a friend of a friend and I really should have gotten to know him better before we got together because if I had I would have realised how incompatible we were. I think when some women say they don't want to lose the friendship, they're just don't want to hurt a guy's feelings by telling him that they just plain aren't interested.

          • Dear Dr. NerdLove,

            Please allow me to click the thumbs up icon multiple times for this comment.

            Sincerely yours,
            Robert

          • P.S. By "this comment" I mean Delafina's one that I was replying to.

          • The problem with asking about people you know is that you can ruin a perfectly fine friendship that way. I know this from personal experience. Its not always the case but there is a strong possibility of this occurring. There are other women I know asked out and got closer to even when after rejection though. Its just a risk.

          • That's totally fair. I guess figure out how to ensure the awkwardness isn't coming from your end if you date and break up, or if you ask her out and she says no, and that's all you can do. I still think your chances are better with people you know, though.

          • I think it probably works best with people who are in the middle ground between complete strangers and friends. Women you've gotten to know through larger social groups/clubs/classes/whatever, so they have some idea who you are and that you're at least an okay person, but not someone you've spent any one-on-one time with before. That way there's no friendship to make awkward, and if you're low pressure about it and totally easy-going if you're rejected, it shouldn't cause any tension in the group. This works best if you take the standard DNL advice to do the asking out as soon as you realize you're interested in her romantically, so you don't have time to develop a huge crush and a whole bunch of hopes that'll make it hard to treat it as no big deal.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            You can also get a "no" and deftly move on. It depends on both people but I've rarely had much difficulty with going from conversation to expression of romantic interest, rejection and back to conversation. Granted, not everyone can shift gears that fast but if you're the kind that can take a no with a little shrug and go back to being friends instead of being devastated, there's no reason not to ask. It probably also means you're sufficiently self-confident to have a good chance.

          • Absolutely! I had a friend fairly recently who was like, "Hey, are you seeing anyone?" and I was like, "Yes, I am," and he was like, "Ok, just had to ask," and I said, "I'm flattered!"

            And that was the end of it. We still see each other just as much as before (which is fairly frequently, but has always been in a group), and there hasn't been any awkwardness, and it wasn't a big thing.

          • I would not be able to do that. I feel crushed beyond belief when I get rejected. I always thought it would feel less painful the more I got rejected, but I feel worse the more I get rejected. It builds up one on top of the other. It isn't fun to think that you're so repulsive no one will give you even a token, "eh, maybe I'll go out on at least one date with him and see what he's about!"

          • SliceOpie says:

            K I know this post is super old, but I guarantee the one and only thing that stops any woman from wanting you the way you wish you were wanted is your lack of confidence.
            If you just loved yourself and knew your self worth and weren't so intimidated to your core by women, they would see you. I promise.
            I am a very attractive female to most people. I'm not a stick thin girl so there are still a lot of men who don't find me to be their cup of tea but they've never said i was unattractive or implied it. I must admit that the men I find physically attractive are usually THAT guy. BUT… and this is a big but. His looks play NO part in what sort of interaction I will have with him.
            Sure, I might go home and think of him that night, but him being attractive to me means sh!t all. The guy you will catch me talking to or going home with is the one who displayed confidence, humour, passion and kindness.
            99% of the time. I say 99% of the time because as a (self-confessed) "slut" (which I don't think is bad, I just like sex, responsible safe sex) I've been with many many men. 2 have been physically up to my standards of attractiveness. I am TELLING YOU, how you look is only a fraction of information about you.
            I mean, I am not about to buy a house from looking at it's outsides, and a pretty exterior house is trumped by and old ugly house with a gorgeous interior every single time no matter what.
            Have a bit of faith in yourself for goodness sake. I could slap you! You're worth just as much as I am, and I love me, and everyone else seems to love me, and the opposite sex love me and I am no better than you.
            It is fair to say as an attractive female I have a leg up when I want to engage with other attractive people, but you know what, I feel just as judged and suffer just as much anxiety when I am talking to someone as you must. They don't have to be physically attractive for me to feel nervous.
            I have been told time and time again by relatively unattractive guys that what makes ME sexy is my confidence and my openness. The way I can tell all but not too much is apparently very engaging. Some of my conversations would put those pretty boys in the hospital with an illness, but it's those funny silly and open guys that get that. They think it's endearing that I can have a legitimate conversation about really strange things.

            I'd like to see Brad Pitt enjoy talking to me. Never gonna happen, and that is OK, because I don't want a pretty guy, I want one who is interested in me for who I am. If you want a girl to like you too, show her who you are. Everyone, when they open up, is interesting. I bet you think you are hilarious when you're with your friends, or think you're really clever and interesting when you're with them. But I also bet you are comfortable with them. You have confidence with them…

    • It's not that you are not attractive to women. It's that you are not attractive to *some* women. There are plenty of women out there who find an androgynous man highly attractive. Some of those women are only attracted to androgyny, some of them also like a good square jaw, and some of them can't explain why they are physically attracted to a particular guy, they just know they look into his eyes and need to excuse themselves to their bunk. It's not always easy to point to a single thing as the physical aspect that is attractive, and as the good Doctor said, no two women are attracted to exactly the same physical type.

      • Also, while they're attracted to a specific type of physical category, if you have the above qualities, they'll strongly reconsider their physical requirements in a hurry.

      • True. I'm not attractive any woman I've never met in person or messaged online. I recognize that there are going to be women who find me attractive; I just have never met such a woman, and they are probably an immensely small minority of women that exist.

        • If you're not willing to travel to a different country and that you're not willing to have a long-distance relationship (I don't know whether or not these are true, but for sake of argument I'm going to assume they are), your dating pool is already reduced to a minority of women. Add further criteria to the list and your dating pool shrinks even more, sometimes even by upwards of 99% just for one criterion! And you know what? An immensely small minority of women is still enough of a dating pool.

      • The funny thing is that in high school and college I was distressed because I thought all the women liked pretty boys/androgynous men, its what you get when you in anime circles, and my appearance is hyper-masculine. I'm covered in hair and clean-shaving is a bit of an oxy moron when applied to me. A younger me would never think that some men feel disadvantaged because they are androgynous, thats what I assumed most women wanted.

        The moral is that people's look preferences differ greatly.

    • I should also mention that while I love androgynous guys, you could stick the hottest one in front of me and I still wouldn't approach him. (Dr. Nerdlove has covered a lot of reasons as to why this is.) If you are waiting to be approached (I get that impression, since you mention that you think ladies are intimidated by your looks), you might be getting the impression you are unattractive because ladies don't approach. But in my "data" collection, I see very few ladies approaching guys. I certainly never do it.

      • I do but not as much as I used to. The fact that I'm in triple digits in terms of rejections without anything to show for it discourages me from doing too much of it. I also don't approach unless there is some sort of signal that she may be interested, and I rarely get those. I tend to overestimate them, since even when I think they are showing interest, it seems to not go so well for me!

        • Dr_NerdLove says:

          Here's the thing Will: I have approached way more women than you have. I have been shot down far more times than you have. It's through failure that we learn what it is we're doing wrong. I can assure you: 9 times out of 10, it's not because of your looks, it's because of something you've done while you were approaching. You may have acted creepy. You may be coming up with the Eeyore attitude you're showing in your comments here. You may have had some initial interest but lost it because you couldn't maintain it. You may have approached someone who had a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, an STD, who just got out of a relationship, who was asexual or just didn't want to talk to anyone because it was Friday and the moon was waning. Want to get better at approaching women? You have to keep approaching.There's a phrase in the PUA community that I find apt: the first 1000 rejections don't count. If you want to do something you have to practice, and practice means being willing to suck at it while you work to improve. You like data? Start documenting your approaches, write EVERYTHING down – what you said, what she said, what you were wearing, how you were feeling beforehand, EVERYTHING – and start looking for commonalities. Vary up your approach. Try different conversational gambits.And while I'm at it: it certainly doesn't sound like you LIKE approaching women in bars, so why the hell do you keep doing it? There are more places to meet women…

          • The primary issue I feel is that I've had zero success ever. It isn't as if I'm getting a low conversation rate. I have a conversion rate of precisely zero. I definitely don't act creepy. Coming off as creepy is my number one fear to the point of it being irrational. I have to psych myself up and tell myself it isn't creepy to just say hello.

            I do actually keep track of everything, though I don't write it down. I analyze afterward what I could have done differently, where I think things may have gone wrong, if what I said was a problem, how my body language was, whether it was because my tie clashed with my shirt, did I miss a spot when shaving, etc. I have tried to remove as many variables as possible by nailing all the little details from my freshly polished shoes to the dimple in my tie. My friends who happen to be women are probably quite tired of helping me break down my approaches to see where things didn't work and how I can improve the next time. I don't take too many conversational risks; I don't want to say something that comes off creepy or otherwise blow a potential opportunity.

            I don't like approaching women period. I dread it. It's just you and a woman who views you as some strange man coming up to her. I'm intensely focused on not doing anything that will make her uncomfortable, feel threatened, or feel negative in any way. This includes being vigilant for signs she doesn't enjoy me being there and does not want to continue speaking with me. I might have internalized the "don't be an aggressive creep who can't take no for an answer" beyond a reasonable level.

          • This is tricky, but I wonder if the problem isn't that you're being so careful and cautious that you're coming across to the women you approach is unengaged, insecure, and/or stiff. Any of those things could contribute to people not warming up to you.

            I think Greg made a great suggestion–it might help if you stopped talking to women with the specific goal of getting a date. What if you just went out with the goal of having an interesting conversation with someone? If you aren't already planning on asking for the woman's number or to see her again, then you don't have to be spending the whole time you're approaching her and talking to her worrying about whether you're going to "blow a potential opportunity". You may need some practice at simply talking to women as potentially interesting conversation partners to build your confidence and poise, and once you've gotten more relaxed about just talking to them, then start thinking about asking people out again.

            A possible way of putting this into practice: Give yourself an assignment the next time you go to a social event like a meet-up or a friend's party (where people expect to be approached by people they don't know, so there isn't an instant stigma). The mission: Talk to X number of women (you decide based on the size of the group, the length of the event, and your comfort level) during the course of the event, find out at least one topic each woman is enthusiastic about it, and ask her at least three questions about that topic. You are not allowed to ask for future contact (though if a woman asks you for your contact info or to continue hanging out, awesome!). But if you find you're enjoying a conversation, by all means keep conversing. You're putting no pressure on her, just planning to talk to her about something she enjoys talking about, so there's no reason to feel like you'll be creepy or intrusive.

            Might be worth a try! And best of luck!

          • I think it is an excellent idea. I guess the hardest part will be going into it just looking for conversation. After all, I'm not getting any younger. That whole ticking clock in the back of your head saying "pretty soon no one is going to ever want to be with you because you've grown so old without having a date or girlfriend that as soon as they realize what damaged goods you are they'll run as fast as they can." With that said, I actually have no problem at all talking to women I don't find physically attractive. I have more female friends than male friends because I find women extremely easy to talk to so long as I am not attracted to them. As soon as I am attracted, forget it. This will happen with current friends who I start to get attracted to even. Once I feel attracted, the fear of saying the wrong thing or being off putting becomes oppressive. It happened with a really good friend actually and what went from a great friendship with lots of playful banter and fun turned into an awkward terribleness that ruined the whole thing.

          • I mean this in a totally friendly way, so I hope you won't take it as an insult, but have you considered talking to someone like a therapist? The fact that you have such a huge anxiety around women you're attracted to–even women you previously were perfectly comfortable with–sounds like more than just standard approach anxiety to me. Getting extra help working through a particularly intense mental block like that isn't really any different from going to a doctor when your body starts acting up in ways that are making life difficult for you. Maybe a cognitive behavioral therapist would be good, someone who can help work out what negative thought patterns you're getting into and give you suggestions for how to replace them?

            Even if you don't like that idea, it still might help to take my suggestion (conversational mission), and apply it specifically to women you find attractive. No, you're not getting any younger, but sometimes you need to step back and do some groundwork on a problem before you can move forward.

          • It's hard to choose to be with a guy when you fear that he won't like himself if you don't choose him. It's too much pressure. It is much easier to choose a guy who would be sad if you didn't like him– he likes you, after all!– but who wants you to make a choice that is good for you. That's part of respecting a woman. It's knowing that she is the best judge of which guy would be a good mate. You may hope she chooses your awesome self, but you show her who you are and leave the decision up to her to show she likes you. Love needs both people to be actively interested in each other specifically. Men who want every woman to like them are collecting women rather than loving them.

          • Who said anything about wanting every woman to like me? I just want one woman to love who loves me back. I also don't think it is fair to suggest that I don't respect women when I go way out of my way to make sure I am respecting boundaries and not being pushy or aggressive.

          • No insult taken! I actually see a therapist regularly. There are professionals for a reason, and I feel no guilt over seeking professional advice on most topics. It's no different from consulting with the sommelier when I go out to dinner, or getting my hair cut by a stylist. The years of therapy have helped some, but I am terrible at lying to myself. I can't convince myself that there's nothing wrong with me in terms of dating when my lack of any success (I can't even get a woman to agree to go on a date) clearly demonstrates that there is. As I have improved the many things I can improve upon without any accompanying success, I have had difficulty feeling good about it going forward. I assume the first one is the hardest because at least then you have some confirmation that you are attractive to some people and worthy of dating. The key is getting to that point, and I have not gotten there. I do try to look on the bright side of being alone; I have plenty of time to work on my instruments and singing for example. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to see friends and acquaintances dating and getting married and wonder what it is about you that prevents you from obtaining that.

          • Okay, a couple thoughts then. Have you talked to your therapist specifically about working on your anxiety around attractive women? Because it sounds like that's the biggest problem, and maybe it could even be approached sort of like a phobia–where you slowly work through scenarios starting with very low pressure ones (like just imagining talking to an attractive women while doing breathing exercises etc. to keep yourself relaxed), rather than trying to make yourself feel relaxed right there in the most intense scenario (actually talking to the woman hoping to date her), which obviously is going to be hard. If you assume that "what is wrong" with you is not your personality or your looks but simply that you're too tense and anxious, then the solution is to work on being less tense and anxious, and that's a physical response that you can practice overcoming.

            I also wonder if you've tried online dating? Presumably it would be easier for you to "approach" a woman you find attractive if she's not right there in front of you, and you can take as much time as you want deciding what to say, and you don't have to worry that she isn't looking for a dating partner. It might give you a chance to get some positive feedback in a lower pressure environment.

          • I'll bring that up specifically with my therapist next time we meet. I have done online dating, but I have not had a good experience with it. The content of my profile is very good, but my pictures are mediocre. My group of friends aren't really big on pictures, and I don't want to be that guy who has professional photos on their profile. I am a decent writer, so I assumed that I would excel with online dating. I've been surprised at how rarely a woman responds to my messages. I feel like most of the responses I do get are from women simply trying to keep their profiles from saying "replies very selectively" because they're quite short, and when I respond I don't get another response back. It is certainly not as stressful, but I hate the feeling of sending a great, thoughtful message and not getting a response. Over, and over, and over, and over again. This is another reason I feel like it's my appearance.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            By the way Will: you say you're slightly on the feminine/androgynous side of things? Allow me to make your millennium.Find your local anime con. For bonus points: cosplay as a bishonen character; Tumblr may help you figure out which one works.Watch women lose their shit.Lots of women who are anime fans are into more androgynous guys. See also: David Bowie.

          • Well, I love anime, and halloween is coming up so… seems like I have a project!

          • Hell yes. I'm not even *into* anime, but bishonen are hawt.

          • MordsithJ says:

            THIS. As soon as I read 'tall, thin, androgynous musician' I immediately thought David Bowie.

          • "I can't convince myself that there's nothing wrong with me in terms of dating when my lack of any success (I can't even get a woman to agree to go on a date) clearly demonstrates that there is."

            Oh dude, you're breaking my heart. :( There is nothing wrong with you. You might be engaging in behaviors that are getting in the way of your success, but:

            There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. You.

            *You* are not broken. You don't need to be fixed. Trust me — I've known quite a few people who spent time there and one or two who lived there. I've even been there a couple times myself. And nothing about you reads as broken.

            Have you considered asking one of your female friends to play wing woman? I used to go to trivia night with some single male friends of mine, and we'd go as a threesome so we always needed at least a fourth player, and get some of the girls at the pub to join our team. It was a good low-pressure way to meet strangers, and the fact that they already had a girl on their team made it easier to get other girls to join.

          • Hi William,

            I think there's a lot of good advice on this thread, but I just wanted to add: Not having romantic experience does NOT make you damaged goods, no matter how old you are. That's a terribly harsh way to think of yourself. Women you're interested in dating might be curious about why you haven't gone on dates before, but I don't think it will be an automatic dealbreaker for most – and I imagine that if it does come up in conversation, a lot of people would be sympathetic to, "Well, it took me a little time to learn how to be more confident with the people I found really attractive," which is what it sounds like you're saying here. I mean, how many people have been there?

            I know that, "Don't worry about 'needing' to have more experience by the time you reach X age!" is a really unhelpful thing to say, because it's not that easy to turn the worry off. (Full disclosure: I'm not very experienced with dating, either, so I do know what that worry feels like!) But I think it's more anxiety than you need in an area that's already stressing you out, and I also think that people who are worth dating won't dismiss you out of hand because you're inexperienced.

          • "…whole ticking clock in the back of your head…"

            Do not listen to the clock. Desperation has a smell and it's not a good one.

            When you're talking to someone, be there, in that moment with them. Stop thinking about time, whether it's on a macro and a micro scale (set an alarm on your phone or watch if you need to be out of there at a certain time, and then forget it). As far as you're concerned, until that alarm goes off, you have all the time in the world. Don't stress about how many women you're going to approach.

            Try this: Find a place you like. A bar, a coffee shop, etc.

            Sit there, and enjoy people watching.

            Look around the place that you're in. Appreciate it. Make it part of your territory. Maybe you sit there and read a book, and just get comfortable. If you're at a bar, get to know the bartender. Ask about the history of the place. If the owner's around, get to know him. Make them your friends and allies. Tip well. Because later on, when you do start talking to women, if they like you, they can help you. Many women pay attention to how other people treat a guy they're talking to. If the bartender or the baristas or whoever like you, that makes you more trustworthy. You're being vouched for. People who you interact with are showing, by how they interact with you, that they know you and you're not a jerk. They respect you, and like you.

            And once you're comfortable there, once you feel like this is your place, this is your territory, your home ground, then start talking to women there. Some of them are likely to be regulars. Just talk to them. Don't worry about that clock. Don't worry about asking them out. Just get to know them. Tell them stories about the things you've seen while people watching. If you've learned that the bar has an interesting history, tell them about that. Introduce them to the bartender. Introduce the bartender to them. Tell them about a drink the bartender is really good at making.

            Desensitize yourself from your anxiety about talking to attractive women here on your home ground, among people who like you, a place where you're comfortable and confident. You're the native here, and they're the visitors.

            And there will come a time, when you're talking to an attractive women, when you'll think, "What the hell? I'll ask her if I can buy her a drink."

            Start there. Start with a drink and some conversation. You can work up from there. But start on ground where you feel at home.

          • IMO, I hate the phrase the first 1000 rejections don't count because it assume success at 1001. There is no gurantee of success, ever if with constant trying.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            No, it doesn't assume success at 1001. It assumes it's taken you 1000 rejections to even start having an idea of what you're doing. You gotta crawl before you run.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            It also doesn't assume 1,000 consecutive rejections. Whether your rate of success (however that's defined) is none, 1 or 10,000, the successes only tell you that you're doing it right. Rejection gives you indications of how to deal with people better.

          • I personally read it as saying exactly that: There's no guarantee of success, and at some point you should stop spending your time looking for dates. But, that point is only after a LOT of practice; don't get discouraged by a few rejections.

    • Androgyny can be super-hot. Just ask Freddy Mercury or David Bowie. Heck, almost every woman I showed it to loved (and agreed with) this comic: http://www.shortpacked.com/2011/comic/book-13/05-… (And that's a pretty androgynous-looking Batman.)

      As far as confidence goes: Act big to be big. You're going about it backwards if you ask if you should be confident because of your experience. Experience should *calibrate* your confidence — not define whether it's there or not.

      So, to put it in business terms rather than dating terms, because interviewing is, in some ways, similar to dating: I have never been turned down for a job in which I actually got a face-to-face interview. I also have never been offered less than my asking price. (And in two of my four jobs in my chosen field, I was offered more than I asked for.) Now I have a fairly significant resume, but I certainly didn't when I entered the job market. What I did have was confidence. It wasn't based on any experience — I had no experience. What I did have was a basic belief that I am smart, I am likable, and above all, I'm eminently adaptable.

      And bad stuff has happened to me. I got fired once. I had the company I loved and believed in go under. I had a job where the harassment was so bad (and supported by the company) that it wasn't worth trying to deal with it anymore. You use those things to sit down and examine your *actions* and ask yourself what mistakes you made and what you would do differently. You ask yourself what you did succeed at, and look at how you can use what you've learned to do better in the future. You can check more things off your list of things to try that didn't work. But letting failure tell you about your behavior and your mistakes is not the same as letting failure define you.

      Failure is a teacher. If you view it as a teacher it can make you more confident, not less. Having the thing that you're most afraid of happen to you, and living through it, and realizing, hey, it didn't kill you and in fact it's possible to be fine — even happy! — again does a lot to make you less afraid of things. It's your choice whether each failure, or each bad experience (because sometimes you didn't do anything wrong, but that doesn't mean you can't learn from it), makes you stronger or more fragile, more confident or less.

      • Dr_NerdLove says:

        Listen to her, folks. Delafina speaks wisdom.

      • Ahaha, that comic is awesome. The lips part really got me because my lips could best be described as sultry. It's funny, when it comes to work and business, I'm the most confident guy around. I can walk into a meeting with someone far more powerful than myself who is just taking it as a courtesy and wow myself right into a contract. I have no trouble selling my ideas and expertise in business, and when people aren't interested I know it is either because they cannot afford it, or they can't wrap their heads around the value of what I'm offering. Obviously, this is the sort of mindset I need to move over from my successful career to dating, but like with everything, it is easier said than done.

        Success and confidence are a positive feedback loop if ever there was one. In business, this was easy for me because I have always had unwavering belief in my abilities. That is missing from a personal and romantic perspective. It seems to be a mindset issue because unlike business where I take the "I have not failed; I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work" I take each romantic failure as part of a series as opposed to an individual event. I don't know if that makes sense.

        • Prettyinblackxx says:

          Three words for you: Jonathan Rhys Meyers. He was in Velvet Goldmine, playing a David Bowie-esque character. He also is in that show the Tudors.

    • Here's how it goes William, if you would have shown me a picture of my ex boyfriend, I wouldn't have even been slightly interested, not my type at all, only thing he really had that was "my type" is that he had pretty eyes and was tall, neither of which I noticed until later. When he talked to me, all bets were off. He became the most attractive person I knew. Smart, confident, and funny. I'll still talk to him, and I still love him, because he's fun. This is not even getting into the fact that everyone has different opinions of what's physically attractive.

    • I'm fit and tall but incredibly androgynous. As in, it is a coin flip as to whether or not I will be address as "Sir" or "Miss" when getting coffee at Starbucks.

      Holy shit you sound hot. A lot of women would be incredibly into someone who looks like you. I know I would be. And you do get hit on all the time by gay men, so yeah, I think it's safe to assume it's not your looks that are the problem. Some women might not be attracted to guys who look like you. Lots of others are. If what you're putting out there in person is anything like what you're putting out there in the comments, I'm guessing that you approach women with a sort of sour defensive attitude that puts them off. I mean, that's the reason I'm not going to hit on you right here in the comments (aside from the vanishingly small likelihood that you live near me.) I wouldn't want to hook up with someone who seems negative and resentful, and has weird unvoiced expectations for what women (all women!) should be and do. (You're not a terrible case. I've seen 1000x worse on the Internet. But still.)

      But I mean, the hotness of your self-description has motivated me to register and post this. It's actually ridiculous, like one of those romance novel heroines who is all like 'Alas, no man will ever want me because my dark hair stands in stark contrast to my pale skin and green eyes, and my bosom is disproportionately large for my fragile frame.'

    • Anonymous says:

      William, you have led an extremely cloistered life if you believe that no women are into androgynous guys.

      Two words: David Bowie.

  5. This list is awesome and totally accurate. I would also point out to guys that what girls like in a guy physically can change as they mature. The guys I used to find attractive and the guys I'm into now are very different. Why? It changes a lot based on who I'm with. I look for all the things Dr. Nerdlove mentioned – and whatever form they come in is the one that becomes a real object of lust. Provided that he makes an effort with hygiene, and buys clothes that fit and keeps them in reasonable repair, a lot of women are game, especially if passion, confidence, respect, intellectual curiosity and humor are there. It's not usually bad looks that screen guys out, it's lack of effort or the misguided idea that presentation shouldn't matter at all.

  6. anonymous says:

    The Passion part of the list and the CoD joke has me thinking. There's gotta be things that having a passion for is a negative, no? A passion for video games means you're probably spending a lot of money and a lot of hours doing something singular, and it's still more of a stigma than not. I see a lot of girls say "About to lose my husband/boyfriend for a few weeks because of [big video game release here]". A passion for porn is probably not that attractive either. What's the line and what's the difference?

    • VintageLydia says:

      I think with video games is for some guys who are “passionate” about it are more or less addicted. There is a difference between playing in one’s free time and keeping up with gamer news and going to conventions than the guys who just go to work, come home and play the game until dinner. Then after dinner continue playing until they go to sleep, rinse and repeat. They take NO time out for their partners and their other responsibilities. It’s one thing to unwind for a couple hours or schedule times to play online with friends, but the guys whose girlfriends are complaining about being gaming widows are acting like children. Like they have no responsibilities, take no notice of their partner, etc. And honestly, I know I’m willing to give a bit of lee way here myself. My husband isn’t much of a gamer so when we does get into a game, he tends to go overboard. But only for a few days. And if I really need him for something, he will pause at anytime.
      As for porn, I feel the same. I don’t care that Mr. Vintage watches it occasionally. Sometimes we watch it together. But most guys I know who claim they are “passionate” about it are actually addicted. Again, ignoring their partners, etc. This can sting even more because most healthy relationships do involve sex and if your partner is feeling ignored in favor of another sexual activity, they can find themselves feeling really inadequate and like their partner doesn’t actually love them.

      • anonymous says:

        Say a guy comes home from work, plays his guitar until dinner, eats, then plays his guitar after dinner. Same deal?

        • anonymous says:

          Or probably more realistic, comes home, works on cars, eats dinner, then works on cars after dinner.

          • VintageLydia says:

            Same deal if it’s every day for weeks on end. You know how you hear about women complaining that men won’t grow up? It’s this type of selfish behavior that triggers is. Play guitar, form a band, go to and play at gigs (or car shows or whatever the hobby) but DON’T ignore everything else. Don’t just expect your partner to do all the cooking, the housework, the whatever else around you. She’s not your mom and you’re not twelve (I’m using a general “you,” not actually YOU, anon.)

            In the end, it’s not what the passion or hobby is, but the degree. Everyone likes passion. No one likes obsession or addiction.

          • I'd say that part is about finding a person who is a good fit. Rejection can be a good thing. If you play video games on weekends and like to stay home, do you really want to be with a woman who likes to go out all the time? People opt out of partners all of the time for a variety of reasons. When I was single, I was drawn to men who were really bad at flirting. They felt more genuine and trustworthy, like my dad. My best friend liked flirtatious men like her dad. I'm sure you have your own things you like– talkative vs quiet, thrifty vs. generous, competitive vs. fairness-oriented, etc.

            Even traits that are obnoxious that you don't want to change can helpfully edit your dating pool. If you think racist jokes are funny and you say a racist joke, many women will be offended will opt out. The women who think we're all a bit too uptight might opt in for the same reason. It's important to know the consistent parts of yourself and let potential mates see the you that you plan to be with them. False advertising is confusing and doesn't lead to a relationship. I say show your addiction with video games. If you end up finding yourself lonely, at least you'll have some motivation to moderate your play time.

          • That's going to be a turnoff to most people unless they are almost equally involved in Passion X. The benefit of passions is that they indicate that people are involved in the world around themselves, have things to teach and share with others, and generally aren't stuck in the work-television-sleep humdrum of daily life. The best case scenario is if someone has work, Passion X, checks in on Lesser Interests Y and Z now and then, and will occasionally be flexible enough to learn about a partner's interest or to try something new.

            If your routine is just work-Passion X-sleep, then you're not much more fun to be around than the person who puts television in the middle slot, and you're not substantially more engaged either.

          • anonymous says:

            TV can't be a passion? You can learn a lot about storytelling and creating fascinating characters (and how to royally screw up both), can pick up something common to talk about with others and watch documentaries to learn new things through it, as an example.

          • TV can absolutely be a social passion rather than an isolating one. I'm going out to dinner shortly with some friends who just caught up on a show we all like so that we can discuss it.

          • VintageLydia says:

            TV absolutely CAN be a passion. It's one of my husband's actually. When we met, he worked in TV (he was an audio technician) on a freelance basis on things as varied as Obama's first political campaign to work on Trading Spaces to commercials for the US Navy. He also took the time to learn about home theater set ups, what features are important in TVs and a slew of other things.

            As you can imagine, he watches it a lot and it is an important aspect of his life.

            It is, however, not the ONLY aspect. He doesn't just come home, watches TV, eats dinner, then goes to bed. He has other hobbies and interests, he takes time out for our family and friends. He is PASSIONATE about television without being OBSESSED with it.

          • Television can absolutely be a passion. I was just using it as a sort of shorthand for passive, non-analytical consumption of a little entertainment between work and sleep, since it's the most common choice of people who just want something to fill the amusement gap. Things like internet can also easily fit in there, but can also be passions depending on how an individual relates to the activity.

    • Well, there is a difference between passion and obsession. To use one of your examples, when Mass Effect 3 came out, I gave my girlfriend warning that this would be occupying a fair amount of my time. I had been looking forward to this game a lot, and was super excited to finally be able to sink my teeth into it.

      However, I also did not ignore her when she called, I was enthusiastic about getting together and spending time with her, and anytime we were talking or together, I focused on her. I was passionate about ME3(among other games), and play quite a lot of them, but I don't let them distract me from my relationship.

    • I don't think it's a question of some passions being "good" and some "bad" but of how, and how much, you devote yourself to that passion. In terms of how much: any passion that you spend all your time on activities relating to, while neglecting your significant other, is going to be problematic, whether it's video games or athletics or corporate finance. Similarly, any passion where you're spending money that really should be going to other important things will also be a problem. While passion is appealing, obsession or addiction generally aren't–you need a sense of balance and an ability to engage in and look after yourself in the other parts of everyday life. But if you play lots of video games *around* spending quality time with your significant other and working at your job and so on, and you don't spend money that cuts into your ability to pay your rent/participate in activities you and your significant other enjoy/etc., anyone who complains about that has a bias and isn't someone you'd probably want to date anyway.

      In terms of just how: there's a difference between a pastime and a passion. Usually the kind of passion that other people find appealing is one where you're engaging with the topic on an intellectual and emotional level. You don't just enjoy participating in activities relating to it, you can talk articulately about it and you've given thought to what you appreciate about it and what you don't, and you convey your enthusiasm for it when you talk.

      For example: I am not much of a gamer myself. I have a few specific games that I really enjoy, but the vast majority don't hold my interest. My husband's creative passion is game programming. Even though I'm not super enthusiastic about games, and I don't program at all, I enjoy talking with him about his passion because when he talks about it I understand what he loves about it, and his interest is so in-depth that we're able to find lots common ground (I'm a writer, so we have a lot of discussions about the creative process in general, what gets people engaged in stories in both games and in books, how to build tension, etc.).

      I wouldn't say someone who plays a lot of video games, but never really considers what they like about them or how they're put together or anything like that, really has a *passion* for them, in the sense we're talking about here. Similarly, someone who watches a lot of porn but has no real interest in talking about it, it's just about sexual release, I wouldn't say is passionate either. On the other hand, while I have a lot of issues with the majority of porn, if I started talking to a guy who clearly had researched what goes into making porn, and knew what he thought was good about it and what wasn't and why, I'd happy have a conversation about it, enjoy getting his perspective, and find that appealing (unless, obviously, that passion came with a lot of negative views about women, which is a totally separate problem from the passion).

      • anonymous says:

        Two things that come to mind:

        1) If you want to get good at something, you have to practice a lot. It almost seems like an impossible balancing act to have a passion that you really want to become the best at and a healthy relationship at the same time, nevermind having multiple passions.

        2) In my experience, being analytical about anything turns people off more than not. I can tell you why I loved a story (movie/TV/comic/cartoon/etc), what worked and what didn't, and what should've been changed to make it work better. Most people will just say if they liked it or not, and maybe drop a quotable or a meme and move on because they don't care much about it, no matter how passionate you are.

        • 1) This is true. I guess you could say it's mainly about priorities. I think most people can become very good at something without having to spend *all* their time at it. I've spent a lot of my free time writing since I was in my early teens, but not every waking minute–I also did school work and then day job work and saw the friends I most wanted to keep in touch with and dated and so on. And still got to the level where I'm now making most of my living off my writing. Could I have gotten to that level sooner if I'd spend all my free time writing? It's possible. But I *wanted* to have those other things in my life, so I made room for them. I don't think my life would be as enjoyable, or that I'd have as much to write about, if I'd shut out everything else.

          So I think you have to ask yourself: what's more important to me–getting that extra X amount of practice every week, or setting aside a little of your time to do whatever you'd want to be doing with a significant other? If it's more important to you to get that extra hour of practice, then that's your decision–but you are the one who's decided you don't have time for a girlfriend. It's not about the girlfriend's judgement of your passion.

          (It is also helpful to look for partners who have their own passions and so don't expect there to be tons of couple time in your relationship. But you have to give them at least a little time, or it's not really a relationship at all.)

          2. Like my last point above, I think this is about finding the right people to hang out with. I love analyzing stories (in all forms), and I mainly hang out with (and have dated) other creative types who naturally analyze stories too, because they're working with them. If I'm chatting with someone who's more of a casual book/movie/TV fan, I ease off on the analysis. But I probably couldn't be with a guy who didn't enjoy that sort of passion at least to some extent, because I'd feel like I was suppressing myself all the time.

        • I completely disagree with #2. Artists/writers/filmmakers etc don't create their work to just be passively consumed, and moved on from. If you're dating women who don't like to think about and analyze their experiences, well I think that's where the issue lies.

          I dated a guy who was working on an Economics phD. Do I know anything about Economics? No. Has that ever been an interest of mine at all? No. But when he started talking about his research and applications and what he was doing, I could tell that he was passionate about it, and it made me want to listen to him talk about it for hours. I'm passionate about Math. Do most people like math? HAHAHAHA no. But I've been with partners that used to love seeing me get really excited about a topology proof or a cryptography algorithm. Seriously, seeing your partner get so excited about a subject area, is similar to watching them get turned on – it turns you on too. Well, it does me, anyway.

        • As to #2, I completely disagree. As someone who makes games, we absolutely create them to be analyzed and discussed.

          But whether it turns people off or not is usually a function of how you're talking about it. When it's a conversation, people will usually say things like "Wow, I never knew that!," or "Wow, I have to see/play/read that!," or my all-time favorite thing to hear, "Wow, I feel so smart now!" And they'll ask questions.

          That doesn't happen when you're lecturing them rather than having a conversation with them, which is what tends to turn them off.

    • There ARE things that are considered bad to have a passion for — off the top of my head, I can think of child pornography, Twilight, a eating-disordered lifestyle, deep fried Twinkies, etc. I wouldn't say videogames is one of them. Personally, I wouldn't date a man unless he was a gamer, because that's the depth of my own passion for videogames. But what IS unattractive and problematic, whether it's videogames or motorbikes or knitting, is obsession mistaken for passion, or being focused on something to the point of excluding everything and everyone else in your life. If my boyfriend wanted to marathon play Bioshock Infinite when it comes out, that would be fine (except not because I'M going to be marathon it first ohoho). What wouldn't be fine is if, during that marathon game, he couldn't be assed to speak two words to me, or shower, or clean up after himself, and this was a thing that happened all the time with every new and exciting game release. Having passion isn't an excuse to inconvenience or be inconsiderate for others, and I would say that is something many women have experienced with their significant others and videogames.

    • I'm not so sure, it depends on whether you are trying to get laid or trying to get a girlfriend. Lets say you're honest about your passions for both video games and porn, and girl after girl rejects you because of this, but you stay vigilant and (mind, discussing your passion for porn on the first date is probably a bad idea) continue to be honest about your interests. Well ya might very well land a girl who shares those interests with you, and now you get to have a relationship with a girl who is passionate for porn and video games. And hey, even one out of the two is fine honestly.

      When it comes to dating, I find honesty is the bets policy for the most part, especially when it comes to you and your desires, feelings, and passions.

    • It really depends on your social circles. If you are dating in geeky social circles than I don't think a passion for vide games would be a stigma. If you are trying to get a woman whose in a more, lets say a traditional or high culturally minded social circle, than it could be a problem. On the other hand she might not mind, My passion is partner dancing. Most of the women I've been on dates with, never partner danced, but nearly all of thought it was at least neat that I'm into it.

    • I agree with the other comments about how it's the degree of one's passion, more than the object of it, that makes the bigger difference. For instance, someone having a strong passion for their job is a very admirable quality. However, if that person's passion takes the form of them constantly working late and barely spending time with their significant other, or being so exhausted from work each day that they cannot show a similar passion to their partner, it can become very problematic.

      • I don't know about this. I think its important for somebody to have an interest or hobby unrelated to their work and outside it. I'm passionate about my work but being single-mindedly devoted to your profession to the exclusion of other hobbies and interests makes for a rather boring person. Another problem is that people whose sole passion is their work tend to have lives that gravitate around their work place and dwelling place and might not be that amorous as partners. My inclination is to be very sensual and amorous, so I'd like a woman who could return the feelings.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Gentleman Johnny's three sentence guide to passion vs obsession:
      You control your passion.
      Obsession controls you.
      Passions are a positive. Obsessions are a negative.

    • Commonly known as X says:

      So there's two things possibly going on here – one, spending damaging amounts of time doing something can be damaging to a relationship if one partner's out of it, and the other is socially unacceptable passions – like Porn or Twilight.
      But really, if you are that obsessive about something you might have an amazing relationship. Scientist couples who spend ridiculous amounts of time on their work are some of the most famous lovers in history – the Lavoisiers and the Curies, or Voltaire and Madame du Chatelet. Lots of couples make amateur porn together – not my ideal partner, but women are all different. And if you were a guy who was a Twilight fanatic… society might laugh at you, but you would not be lacking available women at the next convention.

  7. Anonymous#1 says:

    Great list. I'd love to meet some of the women who have these items as their criteria, and don't get me wrong, I KNOW they are out there (I'm not being a cynic). But, I think the female fans of Dr. Nerdlove might be a lot smarter than your average bear, if you catch my drift.

    • You have something in common with the women who read the doctor's posts. Maybe they are more like the women who would be a good fit for you.

      • I don't think that Anonymous#1 post is bad. This is one of Doctor Nerd Love's weakest posts because it assumes that certain sensibilities are universal among women. This isn't necessarily the case.

    • You know, a year ago I would have found this post kind of offensive (YOU INSULT THE SISTERHOOD!). But I did a lot of thinking several months back, wondering why I had this assumption that women in general are wiser, less emotional, possessed of greater common sense and maturity than men, and so on.

      What triggered it was that I don't usually watch talk shows or reality television, but the TV in the kitchen at work was on a lot, and someone kept turning it to I dunno what the shows were. But I would watch it and think, "Where do they find these women? These women are *idiots.*" It was like a different species from the women I interact with regularly.

      So I got to thinking, and I realized that I've worked for several companies staffed by super-bright people. I work in the tech industry. It's very male-dominated. In my last gig before this one, I was one of two women on a 40-person team. There are a lot of really bright guys I've worked with who were emotionally stunted, lacked common sense, and had little in the way of social skills. Whereas the women I worked with — few and far between — tended to be powerhouses, politically astute, extremely competent, good judges of character, etc.

      And I had to deal with a lot of crap because I was female. Some of it was intentional — the men were insecure and wanted us out of their treehouse. Some of it was unintentional — these guys weren't used to dealing with women as coworkers, and said some stupid stuff or made really bad assumptions. I don't blame most of them — as I said, a lot of them were extremely bright when it came to engineering, and anything but when it came to emotional intelligence. But it was hard as hell just to get through the day sometimes.

      I realized that most of the women who didn't have it all together, who weren't adept at reading and handling people, who hadn't learned wisdom when life offered teaching moments, had all been weeded out fairly early, and the generally emotionally slow guys vs. confident, emotionally mature women I was dealing with were not necessarily representative of our genders as a whole.

      So that may be what's going on here on DNL's blog — geekdom in general isn't quite as harsh as the professional circles I've been in at weeding out women, but there is some of that.

      That said, I'm not sure that that's a bad thing for his male readers. Presumably you don't *want* to date women who aren't emotionally mature and smart.

      • Society and culture in general have also long assumed that women are wiser, more mature, and possess greater common sense than men. The wise women coupled with the foolish man is a long staple of comedy. Think the Honeymooners, the Flintstones, the Simpsons and countless other sitcoms. I'm not sure where you are getting the women are less emotional thing though. Women are supposed to be more emotional than men while men are more stoic. At least thats how tradition goes.

        Look at how controversial Bridesmaids and Girls were seen for having women act with a ridiculousness and selfishness traditionally reserved for men in comedy. People had problems with a sort of Calvinist feminism where women get to be as buffoonish and selfish as men.

        • I thought Bridesmaids was controversial more because it was one of the first times I watched female characters act like actual real, flawed (and hilarious!) human beings. Normally female characters in comedies are cliched stereotypes to the point where it is just painful and frustrating to watch. It was also amazing to see a comedy film where the lead character's main goal was not related to finding/keeping a man. It's one of the rare movies out there that passes that test (which I can't remember what it's called but it goes as follows):

          1. Are there two named female characters who have a conversation with each other that is not about a man?

          Does not happen very often sadly.

        • Old women are often thought of as being wise, but younger women aren't. A standard stereotype is that women are ditzy and incapable of reason…that they aren't good at math, science, that they can't be rational. This goes back to Aristotle.

        • Actually, the idea of wise women/foolish men is only common in specific restricted arenas, like sitcoms and folktales. For most of modern and early modern history, in the West at least, it was thought that women were more emotional, yes, and also that their emotions generally overrode their common sense, so they couldn't be trusted to make sound decisions or logical arguments or often to speak for themselves at all. Whereas men were the rational ones who could think things through without their judgement being clouded. (Hence why women weren't allowed to vote, to run for office, to enter certain professions, or even to own property in some places.)

          • For most of modern history, yes, but the last 20 years are the most important part of modern history for the ~20-year-olds that frequent this site. There's a definite strand of wise women/foolish men in the culture for that period, though it varies for different subcultures, of course.

          • Well, I was replying mainly to the statement made that "Society and culture in general have also *long* assumed that women are wiser…" (emphasis mine). Twenty years is not a long time in the development of society and culture, nor do I think the assumption is generalized.

            I mean, yes, I have gotten a sense of women sometimes being seen as "wise" when it comes to emotions–being more aware of what they're feeling and what to do about it than emotionally-clueless guys–I still think in terms of intelligence and practical thinking, North American society still leans very much toward seeing men as the rational thinkers. And rational thinking is still valued much more highly than any sort of emotional awareness. Just look at the topics DNL has needed to address here on this blog, and that keep being brought up by commenters. The most frequent claims about women in dating scenarios: That we stupidly keep falling for guys who treat us badly even though we claim to want nice guys; that we're incapable of recognizing value of the great guys apparently right in front of us; that we're unreasonably cautious around guys we don't know because we're incapable of realizing that a "few" threatening approaches don't reflect all guys. Doesn't sound like we're being seen as very wise to me.

            I've personally been called "dense" and had my math skills mocked by a guy here, when my math was perfectly fine and he was the one not understanding how averages work. (I was at the top of my class in university level statistics; I think I know how to work with a few basic numbers.) I've also been accused of being paranoid and over-sensitive when defending women's rights to have their boundaries respected. And this is despite the fact that I was presenting my arguments with more data and concrete examples than the people calling me irrational and stupid. If I was posting presenting myself as a guy, I have to wonder if I'd have been dismissed the same way.

        • "I'm not sure where you are getting the women are less emotional thing though."

          Well, as I said, this isn't based on cultural narratives — it's based on my experiences with the other women I deal with in my professional circles (which are, by and large, also my social circles).

          As far as the emotional thing, that may be the cultural narrative, but it's not really supported by the data. The amount of mood-altering hormones in a woman's bloodstream when she has PMS, and is therefore supposedly at her most emotional and irrational, is equal to the amount of mood-altering hormones that are always present in men's; women have an overall higher return on their investments, because men tend to be more emotional about their investments and therefore take higher risks; etc.

          Society apparently confuses expression of emotions (women tend to be more overt about their emotions) with being controlled by them. :-)

  8. Isn't this post assuming that heterosexual women are monolitich bloc, each with the same idea of what makes a man attractive? The list of qualities in what makes a man attractive to closely aligns with certain ideas that are less than universal, Shouldn't the more natural conclusion be that different women consider diffierent qualities attractive just as men find different things in women attractive? This is assuming that no women could be superificial and value things like height or income above passion, confidence and respect. Its assuming that feminsit/fannish sensibilities are the norm among women rather than just commmon.

    • Well, DNL did note that this isn't a scientific study that applies to all womankind. :) And I don't think anyone's saying that no women care about superficial qualities as well.

      I think this is more like a list of the most common necessities. I've never met a woman who said something like, "I'll only date guys who look like movie stars" or "I'll only date guys who make at least six figures a year" (though I'm sure there are a few women out there like that–I'm just saying I don't think they're a minority). I've met a lot of women who'll say they can't imagine dating a guy with no sense of humor or no intellectual curiosity. That doesn't mean that women who want a funny, passionate, confident guy aren't also influenced by his looks, his income, etc. A funny, passionate, confident guy who's also physically attractive (to that women–as the post points out, different women find all different physical qualities attractive) is obviously going to have a better chance than a funny, passionate, confident guy who's outright unattractive. But I think a lot of women would not date, or at least not date for very long, a guy who has no sense of humor, or who's totally passionless, no matter how good-looking he is.

      • I suppose whats realliy bothering me is the assumption of a certain sensibility that is common in some social circles but not in others. Its the universaility of this post thats annoying.

        • You do have a point. However, the bit about passion seems pretty universal. How can a woman fall for a man if she can't see what matters to him? Part of love is seeing someone's specialness and having that person see yours. The things that matter to a person are the things that make that person unique & special, no?

  9. While we are on the subject of what makes a man attractive, why do many women seem to place a lot of value in height? Its the most common physical attribute that women say they are looking for in a man. I'm rather short but otherwise not unattractive physically and consistently feel disadvantaged because of my height. I did one of those matchmaking services. Possitively the women they set me up on dates with said I was kind, a great listener, and passionate. Negatively, most of them said that I was not what they were looking for physically and by this meant I was too short.

    Since I am short and many but not all women seem to prefer tall men, this not being relatively to their height, what can I do make up for my lack of stature? This is something that really bothers me because there is nothing that I could do about it but height seems important to a lot of women.

    • anonymous says:

      1) Muscles

      2) Keep digging and find a girl who doesn't care

      3) Short girls

      4) Payback, tell'em their boobs aren't big enough or something, it's pretty much the equivalent of what they're doing.

    • VintageLydia says:

      I’ll give you some advice that is often given to heavier ladies:

      Stop considering your height (or weight or weird nose or whatever you’re self concious about) as a negative and more as just another feature, or even an asset, and try to find girls who LIKE that in a guy, or at least willing to overlook it. I prefer tall guys, but I’ve dated short ones, too. It really is all about attitude.
      Some girls will still be turned off, but they obviously weren’t the ones for you, anyway. So no harm done.

    • This is a tricky thing, because I don't think it's entirely conscious personal preference–I suspect there's an instinctive evolutionary aspect that makes men who are taller "ping" as attractive more than short men, kind of like there seems to be an instinctive trend toward men finding women who have an hourglass figure most attractive (those child-bearing hips!). I think most women who prefer a guy to be taller than them (I do think it's relative–to a five foot women, a guy who's five foot six is quite a bit taller–a guy who's 6'2" would quite possibly feel too tall) couldn't actually explain *why* the height difference affects their level of attraction. I'm definitely affected by that, and I couldn't tell you why. It just… does.

      Which doesn't help you, other than to say, I don't think women are discriminating against short guys on purpose. What might help: I've talked to women who do prefer short guys, so while they're not the majority, they are out there, you just might need to look harder. Like the anon above said, you're probably taller than at least some women, so it won't be a problem if you're approaching short women. And if you have lots of other appealing qualities, like being a great conversationalist, making her laugh, generally getting her to enjoy herself with you, that can build enough chemistry to override any instinctive aversion to a shorter stature for some people.

      • The thing is that I don't think, based on my experience, that height is relative to the women's height. I've seen losts of very short women with tall, not taller, men and have been treated as short by women of all heights. This might be something that I'm interpresting worng but from my experience the preference seems to be for men around 5'10 to 6'2". Above that height tends to become less attractive because being too tall is freakish. I'm 5'6" which seems to be just under the accetible point and at the start of the problematic point. Roughly I'd say that men who are 5'7" and under are perceived as short. 5'8" to 5"11 as average and anything above 6' as tall.

        I get what you are saying about instinctive evolutionary aspects but if humans followed instinctive evolutionary aspects than men would only date/mate/whatever younger, submissive women. Humans are able to overcome a lot of other bad instincts from evoluton, why not the height one? Blaming it on evoluton is a cop-out.

        • I think you're right about what's perceived as short/average/tall, but just because you're short compared to the average guy doesn't mean you'd be *too* short for a short woman. I'm 5'4" and my first boyfriend was 5'7", and he didn't feel too short to me. I've found it's mostly a matter of feeling you're looking at least slightly up when you meet the guy's eyes, and I think feeling somewhat "shielded" when he hugs you, which only requires a few inches difference. I'm sure there are short women who find guys who are a lot taller than them attractive, but I think that's more like preferring guys with blond hair/square jaws/slim builds/whatever than feeling there's something off about guys who are shorter.

          And I agree with you that instincts aren't everything, and I'm not blaming evolution so much as pointing out that there's a reason why this specific pattern exists (vs., say, you don't see the majority of women having a preference for the same specific hair color or skin tone or whatever–that's much more varied than height preference). But the fact of the matter is that *physical* attraction (which has nothing to do with submissiveness–and the vast majority of men do date women who are younger or at least not very much older than them, for similar reasons as the height thing) is to some extent chemical and out of our control. You can ask that women give guys who are shorter a chance to win them over with their personalities, and I think most women don't dismiss a short man out of hand. But if even after talking with you, they're still not feeling attracted, well, they can't make themselves feel it.

          • Like I said, based on my experiences and observations is that a lot of women, even short women, want a tall rather than taller man. I've known many couples where the man was a good eight to ten inches taller than the women. And women you were shorter than me have rejected me at least partly because of my height. This again is just personal observation but its the evidence I have to go by.

          • A guy can be too tall, trust me on this one. It is better to feel "well matched" with a guy, but that may just be me and all of my friends and personal observations.

        • VintageLydia says:

          I think Mel brought up the evolutionary aspect because it IS a trend. A trend that kind of sucks for you, but there you go. Just like the trend to prefer hourglass women sucks for those who are really slim or apple-shaped. But I see short guys (and slim and apple shaped women) in relationships all the time. It’s easier for tall guys to get dates, just like it’s easier for hourglass shaped women to get dates, but people date outside of those norms all the time.
          If your height is disqualifying you for dating for some reason despite you’re other positive traits, you don’t want to date those women anyway.

        • I don't think it's evolution per se, but more that people like people who make them feel like they're doing gender right. Men like women who make them feel like they're whatever their ideal version of masculine is, and women like men who make them feel like their ideal version of feminine. When women are with a man who's taller than them, it makes them feel big, and for a lot of women, that makes them feel unfeminine and unattractive.

          • I get what you're saying but your last sentence should read "when women are with a man who's shorter than them, it makes them feel big, and for a lot of women, that makes them feel unfeminine and unattractive."

            I've heard this explanation on a lot on why women prefer tall men. Isn't this one of the things that feminism was supposed to be about smashing up the idea of gender rolls and other such garbage? In a feminist age, yes I realize we aren't completely there yet, should a man or women's height really matter.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            I've noticed that one's genitals have a tendency not to ask “but does this reinforce traditional gender roles?” before deciding that they're into something.BDS&M, f'rex, is the subject of great debate in feminist circles. Clarisse Thorn has written extensively on this in fact.

          • It doesn't matter objectively–I doubt many women look at a guy who's shorter than them and make a conscious decision that he's somehow less attractive. I certainly don't. But there in spite of feminism, there are still a heck of a lot of unhealthy messages that both men and women absorb, that affect how we feel, and we can't control that. (We live in a world where political debates on women's health issues are held without a single female decision-maker involved, and presidential candidates can make claims like that vaginas can magically kill unwanted sperm without being laughed out of the country. Progress has been made, but there's still a heck of a long way to go.)

            If I was going to break down the taller thing for me, I'd say it has something to do with a feeling that the guy can protect me if necessary. Do I actually believe I need protection? Not particularly. Do I feel like I can't look after myself? No. But still, whether it's biology or social conditioning or a combination of those and other factors, there's an appeal in it that isn't under my conscious control.

            Attraction isn't fair, and it isn't something people can turn on and off because they've decided someone deserves it. It's totally arbitrary and unfortunately that means for non-typical people, dating's harder. (I totally sympathize–I'm obviously not the typical standard of female attractiveness myself, considering that even on dating sites I've never been approached by very many men.) But like people are saying, there *are* women who are attracted to shorter guys. It's not like you're out of luck, it's just you probably won't get as much interest as a taller guy. Not fair, but other than generally continuing to challenge stereotypes and restrictive gender roles in a general sense, I'm not sure there's much any of us can do about it.

          • I know attraction isn't fair but I feel that I'm in constant cycle of self-improvement, lowering my standards, and keep getting rejected because of one superficial thing or another. I'm compromising what I want all the time. Why can't others compromise as well. Its not the women hate me or find me boring or annoying, most of the women that I know seem to genuinely enjoy my company. Nobody ever called me creepy or found my interest in them unpleasant. Its not even that I'm being Friend Zoned in the traditional sense. Based on the way I'm rejected, at least I'm making it clear that my interests are romantic/sexual. Its like everything that I want is so close but just out of reach or that I'm being kept in reserve for when they want to settle down and get married. But I want my wild, romantic fun to. I'm tired of this, I feel that I'm the ant doing all the work while the grasshoppers are out playing.

          • I don't know you, but since women keep saying you sound good for marriage but not dating, maybe you are coming off too serious too quickly? Perhaps you aren't coming off like you'd be okay with just a fun set off dates? Maybe you come off as a bit desperate? Maybe being a bit more chill and fun would help?

            A second thing: why are you lowering your standards and compromising all the time? That could come off as desperate or like you have no boundaries…which isn't attractive.

            You should have standards. Should you have insanely high standards? Probably not…but standards are expressions of your values, world view, and self worth. Standards are a way of knowing yourself. You should have them.

            I have a list of deal breakers as well as a list of negotiables. You should also have such a list. Spend time and think about what is valuable to you in your life and in your relationships. It will be different than my list, but having one is an important way to make you more dateable…because it shows that you have spent time really thinking about the person you are/the person you want, the things you bring to a relationship/the things you want from a relationship.

          • I know what I want from a relationship. That does not necessarily mean its attainable. At this point having too many deal-breakers is a luxury that I can't really afford.

          • I think we've had this conversation before in the comments on another post. As I said then:

            1) You don't actually know that the women you're approaching/going on dates with/etc. *aren't* compromising with guys in general just as much as you do with women in general. You just know that they don't seem to be attracted enough to you specifically. You don't even really know why they're rejecting you (and whether it's so superficial) because most women, even when it's on a survey and not to your face, are hesitant to criticize other people's personalities when they know that information is going back to the other person. The few times I had to let guys down during online dating, for example, I usually used an excuse like that things were going well with another guy (even if there was no specific other guy) because it seemed a lot kinder than saying, "You come off as really arrogant and that's not appealing to me" (this was one actual guy) or some such.

            2) Assuming that the women are at fault, rather than that it's just bad luck that you haven't met someone (I'm not saying you have to think you're doing something wrong either!), is a negative attitude that could be coming through when you're meeting women, whether you're aware of it or not, and be putting some of them off. So if you can't see any way that you can do what you're doing better, you're probably better off assuming it's bad luck. Especially since…

            3) Even if the women *are* at fault, and you're running into a whole lot of very superficial women who won't give anyone a chance unless the guy meets their unrealistically high standards, there's nothing you can do about that. Saying over and over again that people should compromise more and give people more of a chance doesn't do *anything* to actually change how those women are behaving. The only benefit I can see is that you're getting to vent, but by venting this way you're just reinforcing the idea in your head that the women are at fault and being unfair–which leads us back to my point #2.

            I think everyone commenting here can sympathize with you, and relate to being frustrated with a lack of dating success (whether presently or in the past). No one's trying to say you're just not trying hard enough. We're just saying that the way you're framing the problem could be problematic in itself.

          • Sure they do. Happens all the time

          • Since when is wanting to do away with restrictive gender roles "garbage"?

          • I thought when he said "smashing up the idea of gender roles and other such garbage" he was saying that gender roles were garbage, not that doing away with them is garbage. Or that might just be hopeful misinterpretation.

        • Ugh, okay, pet peeve: let's not confuse societal preferences with evolutionary ones.

          There's little to no evidence that "submissiveness" in women has an evolutionary advantage or is otherwise "natural." (As opposed to aggressiveness in men — the very fact that most of our socialization for men is centered around channeling or sublimating aggressiveness (e.g. sports, competitiveness), whereas socialization for women is centered around submissiveness, is a good indication that it's a socialized trait.) Younger, definitely — preferences for big, firm breasts and blonde hair are both preferences for things that are good indicators of a woman's youth (blonde hair tends to darken with age, and big breasts sag), but submissiveness/passivity doesn't have those markers. Blue and other light-colored eyes show arousal (pupil dilation) better than darker ones.

          The assumption that it does has led to a lot of bad science around ignoring the role female choice plays in evolution (assuming cavemen just dragged women they liked back to their caves with no indication as to whether the woman was interested) despite the evidence provided by other primates and other species in general, and even how fertilization actually happens (despite the enduring narrative of the strong, aggressive sperm fighting its way to and then penetrating and fertilizing the passive egg, when the truth is closer to a dance — the egg actively attracts and activates the sperm; see, for example: http://discovermagazine.com/1992/jun/theaggressiv….

          Anyway, sorry — off-topic. Just a pet peeve.

          • As someone with a background in Anthropology, it also peeves me a bit, so I am delurking to thank you for mentioning it. It also ignores that not all ethnic groups have the same level of sexual dimorphism–or value that sexual dimorphism as much–as European/non-Native North American ones. Humans don't have these same bodies all over the world. Human sexual dimorphism varies. So in Bali, for an example at the other end of the continuum, the ladies have not preferred huge difference between men and women and there is much less difference in height and even "curviness" to the point of having very similar waistlines and even breasts between the ideal Balinese man and the ideal Balinese woman, with the ideal person being small and androgynous by our standards.

        • Freakazoid says:

          On another note, why is being too tall "freakish" ? What the hell makes us freaks? I hate how short people have a "woah is mee" mentality and get all the sympathy while us "freaks" can't complain about being stereotyped because we're automatically the "aggressors" simply because of size.

    • I am about 5'1" and I really like shorter guys. But here's the rub: if the guy I'm dating is shorter, then he needs to be heavier. As in, a little chubby, a little hefty. If he is short and thin, then I feel, to put it bluntly, fat. I feel like I'll break him in half or something, or smother him if I try to sit on his lap. Being "bigger" than the guy can make a lot of girls feel unfeminine, I think.

      Also I really don't think height is that important. Some of the biggest players I know are short.

    • I'm taller than average for a girl, which makes me taller than at least half the guys around my area. I think the height preference is mostly the result of culture. Any storybook illustration of a couple will have the guy at least a head taller than the girl. I still find taller guys attractive but I've dated guys who were much shorter than me because personality and confidence – as well as attractiveness – are more important to me than height.

      Besides, when you add the complication of high heels, the whole height difference thing gets ridiculous. Girls are 'supposed' to wear high heels, with the higher the better. But at the same time it's an enormous faux pas to be taller than your guy. After spending way too much time worrying about this with one of my first boyfriends, who was within 2 inches of my height and therefore put me in great danger of overtaking him with an average pair of heels, I gave up and now I wear whatever footwear I want.

      • Prince is 5'2" and was a major sex symbol in his prime. He had passion, confidence, and an interesting range of women's wear. If anyone proves that attitude trumps looks, Prince does.

        • He also had a lot of cameramen hiding his height, just like 5'7" men Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone.

          • Sammy Davis, Jr. was another very short sex symbol. Or Michael J. Fox, whose only 5'4" but he was seen more as a cute guy rather than a sex symbol. I'd argue that Prince, Tom Cruise, and Stallone became sex symbols in spite of their height and it was probably a disadvantage at first.

    • I'm about 5'1" and I've dated guys who were 5'5", 5'8", and 6'2". I was physically attracted to all of them just fine. I'd even say that the guy who was 6'2" was a little too tall for me (having to stand on tiptoes to kiss someone is a bit uncomfortable), so my preference is on the lower end of the scale. But in general, height is not really a factor for me. I might draw the line at someone who is shorter than I am, but the number of adult males who would fit that category is very very small.

      Incidentally, the guy I dated who was 5'5" never had an issue with being discriminated against by women because of his height. However, this was probably because he himself has a preference for women shorter than he is and has only sought out and dated those who are his height or smaller. So I do think relative height between the man and the woman plays a role and that shorter girls are likely to be more receptive to dating shorter guys.

    • I dunno — I'm 5'5", and I come from a land of tall people (most of my male relatives are over 6 ft, and I'm the shortest woman in my family), so anything under 6' tends to look "short" to me.

      I think there's an evolutionary component to it — at some level, you want to know that he's big and strong enough to protect you. And there's a practical component — if I'm going to have someone around most of the time, I want them to be tall enough to get things down for me. And there's a weird cultural component that tests out but isn't fully explained, where we view height as correlated with competence and respect those who are taller more. And competence and authority are attractive.

      I'm not sure that there is anything you can do about it, unfortunately, other than continue to play up your other qualities. I'm dating a guy (who's taller than me but still seems a bit short to me) because he's awesome.

      For some women, height is going to be an absolute deal-breaker. For other women, it might be something they care about, but if you're interesting enough, they might be willing to look past it. And some won't care. You can't do anything about the first two groups, so if a woman declines a second date and cites your height, let it go and move on because it was never going to go anywhere anyway. Focus on making sure that your dates have a great time, and the ones for whom height isn't an absolute deal-breakers should be willing to look past it.

      Focus on developing enough of a presence that people notice that rather than your height. I worked with an executive producer who I didn't realize was short until we were both in the office kitchen and I asked him to get something on a high shelf for me and he pointed out that we were the same height.

      Dude had *presence.* In my head he was tall.

    • My brother is no giant, lamented it forever. He’s blissfully happy with his wife who is three inches shorter than he is. Keep your eye out for petite ladies.

    • I'm one of those girls who is a sucker for really tall guys. It's one of the only things that I genuinely find physically attractive. I don't know why, there's just something about craning my neck to look up at someone that is really appealing. That being said, I've liked and been attracted to plenty of guys who weren't tall and there's plenty of tall guys who I've had no interest in whatsoever. It's just a nice little add on when they are very tall, a bonus almost. Like a girl having big boobs maybe?

      That being said, unfortunately I can't be physically attracted to someone shorter than myself. It's nothing against that person, it has everything to do with me being insecure with my own body. I need to feel smaller than the person I am with, else I feel like I am some sort of giant, heavy lumberjack and that there is no way they could find me attractive when I'm towering all over them etc. I am aware this is stupid, but I can't help it and I can't change it. But that's just me and not all women. I have a friend who is very tall and in a relationship with a guy shorter than herself, and she loves him to bits.

      • I'm attracted to conventionally attractive, glamorous women with good fashion sense but have dated women who weren't conventionally attractive if they had other things about them that I liked. Whats wrong with compromising on one thing if everything else is all right?

        • I think what becelec is saying, that compromise is okay, but it’s harder to compromise when it means that as a woman, it makes you feel bad about yourself to be with that person every time. I know I totally relate. I’m 5’7 and on the thicker side. If I was thin, I would have no issue dating guys shorter than me, but being my current size, it makes me feel like some giant amazon woman, and it’s wholly unsexy. It’s clearly a personal problem, and nothing to do with you being short.

          • Pff, you have no idea how sexy giant amazon women can be :P

            But yeah, there are some things that it's really hard, sometimes even impossible, for someone to compromise on. To an outsider, these things may seem to make perfect sense, or they may seem totally arbitrary, but ultimately it doesn't matter what the outsider thinks, since we can't control our feelings with logic (as much as I sometimes wish we could).

        • I don't think that there's anything wrong with compromising if you're happy to do that. When people are in love, they overlook all kinds of flaws, physical and otherwise. But if you're not physically attracted to someone, and they don't make you feel physically attractive either, then what's the point of being in a physical relationship with them? You're better off just staying friends and finding someone who actually pushes your buttons, otherwise you're just wasting your time and theirs.

        • It's all about how much you value each thing. If what turns you on is knowing a guy is bigger and stronger than you, feeling feminine and delicate when you're with him, and that's important to you, then it's important to you. Possibly enough to be a deal-breaker. If you know that that's a component of what you need to be happy with a guy, then dating a guy that doesn't have that quality is wasting both your time.

          If it's not that important to you, then yes, maybe someone's other sterling qualities can make up for it. But if it is, there's nothing wrong with recognizing that and dating accordingly.

        • Commonly known as X says:

          I agree, really. Women being hung up on height is superficial, unfairly dismissive of something you have no control over, may be a product of internalized sexism and they could be missing out on great relationships. But hey, some guys aren't interested in me because I'm over 25, or not their body type, or even too short.

          I can't make people attracted to me – and to be fair, they can't make themselves attracted to me. The best I can do is try not dismissing a potential partner out of hand because of their body shape or their race or something that was beyond their control, and not dismissing other peoples relationships because "she's dating a guy like a foot shorter than her" or "his new girlfriend is enormous".

    • I am 5'6"
      There are quite a few women who won't date me because of my height, because they need to feel small next to their boyfriend. I don't want to date a woman who needs to feel tiny next to her boyfriend. I want to date a woman who feels powerful and attractive no matter how tall or small I am.

      Here's the thing, you don't want to date a woman who won't date you because of your height. Let that go.

      I have a number of personal elements that would disqualify me from dating for a number of women…way more than most of the guys here have.
      There are women who won't date me because I'm 5'6"
      There are women who won't date me because I'm atheist.
      There are women who won't date me because I'm black.
      There are women who won't date me because I've had sex with men as well as women.
      There are women who won't date me because I'm a trans man…which means my full sized penis is a strap-on.
      There are women who won't date me because I'm really liberal.

      And let me tell you, being transsexual is a way bigger element to handle while dating than being a nerd, which I also am.

      But here's the thing.
      1) no one is obligated to date me (or you).
      2) people are allowed to be attracted to who they are attracted to–if you aren't attracted to black guys or short guys or whatever guys…no one can make you be.
      3) I am really awesome. I am an awesome person to date. I am a real catch. I deserve to date someone as awesome as I am. Someone who won't date me because of my height, race, trans-ness, atheism, etc? A) their loss, not mine and B) why would I want to date someone like that?

      I once met a woman who thought I was super awesome, but wouldn't date me because I use Old Spice aftershave. Oh well! That is her prerogative and her right to have that standard. I don't know why she has it…but it doesn't matter. That is her boundary and it is important to her…so I respect it. Because I respect women.

      I once went on a date with a woman who seemed pretty cool, but I found out that a) she liked to play with giant cockroaches and b) she was a republican. Both of those things disqualified her from my dating pool. That is my right.

      Let's talk about my transness for a moment.
      There are people who will feel that because I am Trans there is no way they could find me dateable. I have spoken to people who have straight up told me that they found the idea of dating a Trans person gross and unnatural, etc. Ouch! There are people who are just transphobic…a lot of people.

      But that is not a problem with me. That is a problem with them…and a problem I don't want to date. Being Trans is on one hand not a big deal for me and I don't think about it much. On the other hand it means I understand a number of the problems women deal with in patriarchy and also understand women's bodies…I understand that women aren't from Venus and men from Mars…that we are both human…I understand about male privilege and how it can function in a toxic way. So I think being Trans is a bonus…and I deserve to date someone who feels the same way. Will that limit my dating pool? Yes. But that is okay!

      The biggest hurdles to dating women in my experience?
      -Men who don't like or respect women
      -Men who don't treat women like equals or human. (This includes putting women on pedestals just as much as it does treating them like dirt…it isn't good to be on either side of the virgin/whore dichotomy)
      -Men who don't know anything about women and don't seem to feel like they need to do anything to correct that problem.
      -Men who don't have any self-respect, self confidence, or sense of self in general.

      Sadly, I see way too many people on these boards with these problems. DNL and many of the posters (male and female) try to help people overcome these states…but are too often met with defensive resistance.

      • Dr_NerdLove says:

        Old Spice is barely acceptable.

        But AXE is a crime against humanity.

      • 1. I love this post. So much. Everything you've said is just spot on.
        2. How the hell does one play with cockroaches?!

        • She and I were strolling down the boulevard after dinner. It was a nice warm evening. And she saw a giant cockroach on a palm tree near us. So she went over to the tree, picked up the cockroach and started playing with it…letting it crawl on her. She commented on how she loves doing that and noted how strong of a grip giant cockroaches have.

          And that was it for me. Despite many of her other positive qualities…I knew then I just could not date her. Maybe LeeEsq would find that shallow and that I should have given her a second date…but…I just couldn't. Playing with cockroaches…I just…can't.

      • I just wanted to say that I love this comment and I love your attitude–awesome indeed! :)

      • *applauds*

      • I understand this. And yes I respect women, treat them like equals/humans rather than goddesses or dirt, know about women, and have a great deal of self-respect/confidence. And yes, I realize that you are going to have to take my word for this since you don't know me in real life.

        My issue distilled is this. Women like me as a person but do not seem to think of me as a romantic partner. This isn't a problem with communication. The rejections I receive at least let me know that I'm communicating my interests clear enough. I feel burnt and tired from the entire process and feel that I'm going nowhere.

        • This was me until a few months ago. Then, for no reason that I can discern, I started getting more attention than I could handle. Life is random. Just be the best version of yourself, and go out and meet people until you find some that are buying what you're selling. It'll probably happen eventually.

      • Rock on with your awesome self, dude, and thanks for sharing your wisdom. :-)

        I've really thought that we cisgendered people should really be turning to trans people for wisdom about the other sex. As a woman, I can go to women for advice about men, and they'll speak in a language I understand and address things that are important to me, but they are still trying to figure out why men think the way they think, the same as I am. There are certain hormonal and neurological differences — even leaving out the socialization aspects — that make it hard to translate. Men can try to help me understand men, but since they're not women, sometimes they have difficulty translating for me in ways I understand. But I remember the first time I read a memoir by a transwoman, and it was revelatory, because she had been both sexes, hormonally speaking, and was able to outline the differences with that expertise in a way those of us who have only ever been one gender just can't (her description of the "testosterone shield" she had as a man and felt the absence of — both in a positive sense and a negative one — really helped me understand some of the risks men take that seem bizarre to me). No cisgendered person could have provided that sort of perspective on both sides.

        So I wonder sometimes, in all these advice columns on dealing with the opposite sex, why none of them are written by trans people.

        "And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
        Enacted on this same divan or bed;
        I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
        And walked among the lowest of the dead"

        and all that jazz. :-)

        • Thanks for the kind comment!

          My personal theory why people don't want to hear much from transpeople is because many, many people are really invested in imagining that men and women are really fundamentally different and transpeople complicate those assumptions something fierce. So many people on these boards do it all the time.

          Men and women aren't fundamentally all that different, but maintaining the illusion of a huge difference makes people feel comfortable with inequality.

  10. anonymous says:

    Nice post. However, "to beg the question" does not mean "to raise the question."

  11. So, I'm pretty sure I fit just about all of these reasonably well. I'm at least moderately good looking, tall, funny, passionate about what I do, and at least somewhat confident (and I've been told that I'm some of these things by other people, so that's not just me talking). Also I have broad shoulders.

    And yet I'm still here, reading this website, because I still have trouble with dating.

    (If I'm being really honest, though, my biggest weak point would be "confidence," specifically around ladies)

    • I can totally relate – I am exactly in your position – people also tell me that I am tall, funny and passionate (though to be honest, most of the time it's my family telling me this – I haven't really asked my freinds about this). Also, as far as confidene go I am EXACTLY like you – pretty average, but finding it difficult to gather confidence around the ladies.

      • I feel the same the same way except the tall part. Women don't hate me, I've never been called a creeper, they think that I'm kind, passionate, and a good listener. I'm fit, well groomed, and successful in life, Many people are surprised that I'm single. I often get asked questioned about my non-existent wife and kids But the women that I've dated never seem to want a second date. The consensus is that I'll be a good boyfriend for some other woman. Where is this other woman?

    • The Mikey says:

      I find it highly amusing that confidence seems to be an area where a lot of dudes seem to be lacking. Likewise, I lack that quite a bit when it comes to womenfolk. Now while I can talk to girls/women I have no interest in rather easily, I have difficulty with women/girls I *am* indeed interested in. I don't know why, exactly. That isn't to say I have asked any out, I have, and I got nothing out of me asking. Although these ladies, were girls I was/am friends with initially that I then grew attracted to. *shrug* I'll still talk to them, but not as much as I used to… I dunno.

      It's funny, I'm confident in a bunch of different facets of my life. I think I'm a good artist, guitarist, filmmaker, techie/student/nerd-geek, among other things. Yet the opposite sex is still rather elusive. I'm beginning to believe that learning how to sweep pick on my guitar is easier than getting a date. No, I'm joking sweep picking takes a lot of dexterity, but my point is I still find it kinda difficult to get a date, let alone talk to a girl I think is cute. Think of it as having the proverbial frog in your throat is more or less as my issue I haven't the slightest clue what to say. But then saying that what I say doesn't matter makes it more frustrating.

      On the whole, I don't quite fully understand.

      • I think a lot of women feel the same way about men. Most of the women I know, out of all the areas of their lives, are least confident when it comes to romance.

        I suspect a lot of it's due to social conditioning. We're taught to think about the opposite sex as almost like alien beings rather than fellow humans who happen to have a different set of genitalia. Guys get all these messages about how they're going to have to convince most women to give them the time of day, that we're going to be so demanding and expect all this romance and expense to come with even a casual dating relationship, and women get all these messages about how most guys are only interested in "one thing" so we have to be careful that we're not being tricked into thinking they like us for anything else, but at the same time even the good guys won't find us appealing at all unless we're pretty and sexy and alluring. It seems to me that a lot of us of both genders want pretty much the same thing: to find someone cool who we enjoy talking with and doing things with and making out with. But it's hard to totally get past all those messages that keep bombarding you, and so a lot of us also spend a lot of time worrying about whether we're doing things "right" and getting hung up on those insecurities.

        It's a really big problem, and I'm not sure how to really tackle it. But I hope talking about it on blogs like this helps at least a little!

        • Oddly enough, I personally don't actually feel any more uncomfortable talking to guys I'm attracted to than to anyone else. Now, I'm a pretty shy person in general, so there's a certain level of anxiety I feel when talking to anyone whom I don't know very well. But it's really no different a reaction for me between talking to another girl or talking to an attractive man.

          This could be partially due to the fact that I have several platonic male friends and have spent a fair amount of time in male-dominated social circles (i.e. geeky gatherings). As a result, I'm pretty used to interacting with the opposite sex and don't see it as something alien.

          • Yeah, I think women who've spent a lot of time with male friends (and men who've spent a lot of time with female friends) probably tend to have a clearer sense of the fact that we're all just human beings. :) I wasn't trying to say that *every* man and woman is insecure about the opposite sex, just that I think it's a pretty common problem on both sides. Witness how many dating advice columns and blogs there are, for both men and women, vs. career advice or friend advice or what have you.

        • The Mikey says:

          Oh, for sure. I'm positive, they do. My sister tried to go for some dude's number and totally chickened out, and she's already had two boyfriends or whatever.

          You're, right though, I do want to "find someone cool who we enjoy talking with and doing things with and making out with." Except every time I find one either they don't like me (or maybe they do and I'm just too stupid to realize it), they already have a boyfriend, aren't at all interested, or just want to be friends with everybody. But if I do find someone cool that I may enjoy talking to, all those messages go out the window, ironically, I can never find the right words to say, "Hey I like you" without feeling like I'm 12 years-old again (I'm 20, soon to be 21 btw).

          I've had experiences where I've said/done pretty dumb shit when I was like 14 to 16, which is why I refuse to really let myself speak/do anything sometimes when it comes to girls/women out of fear of being a creeper or offending them. Also another reason why I've become a bit of a prude and just shy away from talking about sex most of the time with anyone. Matter of fact, I just avoid talking about my non-existent personal life unless asked.

          I don't know how to tackle it either, to be completely honest. Most of the time I feel rather lost on all this, and most of the time after I've I've been shot down is ask myself, "WELL… WHAT NOW?" Nothing, Mikey. Just leave it alone.

          • I honestly think the best thing you can do when you're feeling that way is train yourself to believe that it doesn't matter whether this specific woman likes you or not. If she doesn't, lots of other women out there! Assume most of them probably aren't compatible with you–because we all have different preferences and needs, so that's true for everyone–and rejection is just eliminating someone who wouldn't have worked out anyway. Naturally, you need to talk to plenty of women to find the few who are going to be right for you. So you go over, you chat to see if you do actually find her interesting and if she seems to find you interesting, and if she's enthusiastic, great. If not, move on. If it's a girl you already know, you ask her on a date, but if she turns you down, oh well. Lots of other women out there.

            That might sound counter-intuitive, but I'm not saying to think that *women* don't matter. You can still respect them as people and be considerate without thinking one particular woman's opinion of you says anything about your worth–just like you can respect other guys as people and be considerate of them, but presumably you don't put yourself down if one guy you happened to start talking to declines a suggestion to hang out again. You probably interact with a lot of different men in your life, but you recognize that only a few of them are going to really click with your personality and end up becoming real friends. Not so different with women and dating.

            The thing is that most creepy and offensive behavior comes from men who care *too* much–who want each woman's approval so much they don't approach at all and just hover and stare, or keep after a woman even after she's indicated she's not interested, or who are so bothered by rejection or a lack of obvious interest that they become aggressive or insulting. If you can convince yourself, at least in the moment, that you don't care that much, then you can have that casual conversation without giving off desperate or pushy vibes, and you'll be able to disengage politely if you need to. And you'll be able to talk to a lot more women, and be more likely to run into one who happens to click with you.

            It's one of those things where you'll have to fake it until you make it. But if you keep reminding yourself that you're just testing the waters, getting to know people, nothing serious, you can probably at least trick yourself into believing it until you really do start believing it.

            And, I know this is annoying to hear, but you are still really young. When I was 20, I'd only had one relationship (which was incredibly unhealthy and codependent), and never been asked out or had romantic interest shown to me by any other guy. A few years later, I happened to meet the guy who eventually became my husband because of a random profile I'd posted up on an indie arts meet-up site several months earlier and totally forgotten about. You never know how long it's going to take or how it's going to happen, but you greatly increase your chances if you are just out there meeting people while doing things that you enjoy and not stressing about it too much.

          • The Mikey says:

            I like the idea of assuming that most girls wouldn't be compatible with me (I don't know for sure though, so that's kinda frustrating), but at the same time I feel like that will harbor a confrontational attitude on my part (albeit still sorta friendly). >:I I'm highly aware of there being plenty of women, but I often find myself enjoying the sights between girls I actually wanna ask out.

            But see, here's the thing I'm not terribly picky, and I have indeed been "testing the waters" for a really long time. I say this though, but I just can't approach to save my life just to chat either. However, I have indeed trained myself to treat girls/women as my equal, I simply can't approach girls I don't know. I will admit that it does brings me down a little sometimes because hanging out with ladies is a nice change of pace since I don't do it very often.

            I don't to hover, at all really. If it goes south, I run the hell outta there. I, however , I play the 'glancing game' a lot, but I don't really know how to win. :P I just sorta keep my distance. I'm not gonna lie, I am bothered by rejection, but not to the point where I'm an absolute asshole (or aggressive, for that matter). I try to be a decent human being and I'll only be an asshole if they're an asshole to me first. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by convincing myself that I don't care much, unless you mean I don't care much about being rejected. Because I actually was in a Gamestop to reserve RE6 when this dude kept hitting on a girl working there and kept hanging around there even when she turned him down. He went away when I was talking to her so I could reserve my game. She was telling me how he was asking weird questions, so then, I realized if I was in that situation instead of asking about her, instead ask about what she does outside of work like school or a hobby, relating back to what the doctor said about someone's passion about whatever it may be.

            In all, I understand what you're saying too, but again, it's just difficult for me to figure out what to say and gauge how long I should stay. But, like a moron I'm trying to figure that out before I even make an approach and end up not approaching because I'm a huge wuss. I'm aware of other girls being out there, just kinda hard finding courage to find the right one.

            And, yeah, it's pretty annoying and highly frustrating to hear that I'm really young. I know, I am, but I'm not getting any younger either. I've always felt older than I probably should be. For the record I still haven't gone on a single date yet, so I am the classic Kiss-less Virgin™ (awwriiiight, self-deprecating jokes being my forte, unfortunately). But I also feel that getting a relationship out of random chance is the equivalent of ripping a hole in the space-time continuum by screaming into the air hoping to discover time travel. Since I'm going to school, I am indeed constantly meeting new people in classes and if I'm not stressing about girls, I'm stressing about Astronomy class or whatever. In all honesty I try not to stress about it, admittedly when it's being thrown in my face all the time by other random strangers (and friends) it's difficult NOT to stress about it.

            Gah, sorry about the long reply. I feel as though I'm talking in circles here.

          • The thing about assuming most women wouldn't be compatible with you–well, for one, you *do* know that for sure. Given how unique we all are as individuals, and how many different needs and wants each person has, it would be very odd if half or even a third or a quarter out of all the people you happen to meet are people you'd want to be intimate (emotionally as well as physically) with. And as far as being confrontational, I mean it more as, if you recognize that most women aren't going to be the right one, then you can approach them not thinking "I'd better not screw this up because I need to impress this woman" but "I want to find out how much I actually enjoy talking with this woman". It becomes less about getting her approval and more about seeing how much you "approve" of her… which puts some of the control back in your hands and can help you feel more confident.

            About the not caring–yes, exactly, I mean convince yourself you don't care if the woman isn't interested. Not because you'll just keep talking to her anyway (if she's not interested, why would you want to keep talking to her?), but because it's not really that big a deal. Obviously getting rejected a lot feels like a big deal, but any one specific rejection means very little in the grand scheme of things. You still want to care in terms of, you'd like to know a little more about her and what she's about.

            You say you've been "testing the waters" for a long time, but also that most of the time you end up not approaching at all. I'm not sure which of those things is more accurate? Because you aren't really "testing the waters" unless you're actually talking to the women–just glancing at them and watching them from afar doesn't get you anywhere. That's why I suggested trying not to worry so much about the dating/rejection aspect of it, to focus just on casually chatting women up to find out a little about them. Say, make your goal not to get a date, but simply to start a conversation by asking a question or commenting on something relevant (or a combo of both, which often works well–"Great Doctor Who shirt! Who's your favorite doctor?") and find out if they're interested in talking. If they're not interested, you've still succeeded in your goal, which was to find that out. :) No failure possible!

            This will at least get you some practice at feeling more comfortable talking to women in the first place. And do it with women you don't necessarily find attractive right off the bat too, to stop yourself from starting to think it is about getting a date after all. It sounds like your biggest problem is not that you're doing anything to turn off women, but that you're not actually putting yourself out there and getting their attention in the first place, so I'd figure that's where you'd want to start working on your anxiety.

            A couple of random notes:

            -Keep in mind that if you're really concerned about not intruding on women, it's highly unlikely that you're going to be missing any obvious signals. You're much more likely to misread signs in the other direction and assume she's not interested when she is, which isn't great for you, but doesn't really hurt her at all. If you know you appreciate and respect women, trust yourself to treat them well.

            -If you particularly have a problem approaching women you don't know, why not focus on chatting up women you sort of know already? Sit next to a woman in class (someone who isn't in the middle of reading or talking to someone else) and make brief friendly conversation before the lecture starts. Talk to women at social events you go to–friends' parties, clubs, meet-ups–people you see on a somewhat regular basis but haven't really talked with one-on-one before. Many women (as you'll see in other comments on this post) prefer talking to guys they've seen around a little over random strangers on the street, and in those sorts of contexts, a little casual conversation between people who don't know each other well is expected, so you're unlikely to be interrupting something else she wants to be doing.

            I hope this helps!

          • The Mikey says:

            I'm not entirely handicapped in social situations, to be completely honest with you. I can talk to women. I talk to the older women in my general education classes all the time. I talk to the women who're much older than I am, older than me by as much as 20 to 30 years. They're not the kind of women typical dudes my age would give the light of day probably. I'm just being nice and relating to them by using the class material (or even by pop culture references that should fly above my head), like one lady in my English class currently didn't like Catcher in the Rye, I didn't either and we conversed as to why. It's not necessarily hard to talk to women/people in general, I can do that.

            What I DO have trouble with is approaching the women I do find myself attracted to. But yeah, I do chat up some of the older women in my classes and even I played Cards Against Humanity with a group of much younger women too (prolly in their mid 20's) at a Games Day in San Diego.

            And yes, you're indeed right. I was a moron to imply that I was testing the waters when I haven't actually gotten my feet wet. But something worth noting is that I always assume that most girls/women are already in a relationship, which is also what keeps me from approaching. I could be wrong though in both regards.

            But thank you, it's much appreciated you make a lot of sense, I'm just really shy about talking to girls I *do* find attractive. That, I believe is all I have to work/fix. The only real reason why I'm more or less leaning to use the approach method I guess is because a lot of the girls that I do know, as I've said above, are already taken, aren't interested in me/a relationship. Which is fine, it's just a little frustrating (emotionally and sexually).

          • In all honesty maybe you should not worry about cold approaching for now and just focus more on getting better at having conversations. I don't think it's the best idea for men who aren't all that great talking with women to begin with to attempt to cold approach a stranger unless their intentions are simply to better their conversation skills. Coz all that's going to happen is you're going to get shut down repeatedly and then feel more frustrated.

            So many women will turn you down no matter what simply because you are cold approaching them and they just don't date men that they don't know, so you might not even be that bad in terms of conversation/flirting skills, it's just that you had no chance to begin with no matter what you said or did, because while they would be happy to have a conversation, most of them are just not out looking for a date.

            I'm not trying to be discouraging, I just believe you're going about this the wrong way. I'm one of those lucky people who naturally has great social skills, and can go talk to a bunch of randoms when I'm out with ease and have a really good time. This is partially because I never go up to a person with expectations for the conversation, thinking "I'm going to try and get something out of this". I simply think "they look cute/fun/have a cool accent" or I overhear their conversation about pirates and can't help but chime in because I freaking love pirates.

            Talk to anyone, not just women who you are attracted to. Go talk to a bunch of guys if you overhear them talking about something that interests you. Have a conversation for the fun of it, not just to try and make someone like you. You don't even know if you like them yet, and a relaxed conversation about something silly (or something important) can help you to figure that out.

          • The Mikey says:

            Well, you're being very discouraging right now. :P

            Nah. I get what you mean. But I need to try, like I've said before the girls I do know are either taken, or aren't into me/not into the idea of a relationship. Which is fine, but that's frustrating as hell too. But what makes it even more frustrating is, if it's a girl I already know and I think she's awesome how long do I wait before I ask them out? A day or two after I met them? I dunno.

            But, believe me, I'm a pretty friendly dude. I can talk to any dude pretty much unless I don't like them, I can talk to women too. I just have issues talking to women that *I* find attractive.

          • As a girl who has frequently gotten together with guys who were friends first, I'll give you my opinion on it. (Granted, this is my opinion only, and obviously doesn't count for all women.)

            I think the 'Friendzone' is a big bunch of crap. You can be friends with someone for years, and still get together and subsequently break up without it ever ruining the friendship (though obviously, you both need some emotional maturity to achieve this). I also don't believe you just grow so close to someone that you could never see them in a romantic light based on the friendship alone (I think people just use this as an excuse when the truth is that they just really aren't attracted to the other person). So I really don't think you need to rush in and ask someone out within a day or two of meeting them. That can be really off-putting, plus it makes you look like you ask out everyone you meet (even if you don't, it just seems overeager). I mean, you don't really even know if YOU like THEM yet, you know? I'm not saying you need to wait years but I think the best amount of time is a few weeks, so you've gotten to know them a bit but it hasn't been so long that it looks like you're pussyfooting around. Plus, she's gotten to know you better, so she's gotten a chance to see a bit more of your personality which is a bonus.

          • The Mikey says:

            Aha. I believe you, two good friends of mine who were dating since 2009 or so split back in… March? I don't remember, exactly. In any event, they split, but they still remained very good friends. I was shocked to see how well they were talking to each other even after they split, so that was refreshing to see. It was refreshing to see that amidst their breakup their friendship still remained, hell I remember the girl telling the dude that she may even help him find another girl too which was pretty kick ass.

            As for the friendzone, I think the Doc nailed it right on the head awhile back. It's just a euphemism for "I like you, but I don't wanna go on a date with you." Which is fine, disheartening, but fine. What are you gonna do eh? And to be perfectly honest, I've only known a few (maybe about two) girls where I was friends with them first and then felt attracted to them after long awhile of knowing each other (I'm talking years in one case and in another case, months). We weren't terribly close, but we knew each other (in both cases) well enough I thought I had a chance, but I was wrong.

            Now for waiting to ask someone out I've met was a different story because of exactly what you said. I would hate to be off-putting. So I always wondered how long before I ask somebody out, which is why I guess I've missed a few opportunities perhaps. Now I know my answer, but before doing so, how many times would I have to hangout with them before I actually make a move, you know? Generally, if a girl makes a good enough impression on me I'll prolly like her (as a person first). I met this one girl back in December of 2011 and I asked her out 6 months later (only to be shot down too). I dunno, it's getting confusing and too detailed, this shouldn't be as complicated as D&D 3.5.

          • There's not really a specific number of times you need to hang out before it's ok to make a move. The best I can say is just not straight away for reasons previously explained.

            In regards to knowing when to make a move, rather than time, look for signals she's giving off. Again, this is all anecdotal advice (not saying all girls are like this, they aren't), but I can nearly always tell if I have a friend who likes me. If I don't know for sure, I have a pretty strong suspicion about it. If I'm interested as well, I'll start flirting. When it happens and I'm NOT interested back, I will start putting down subtle clues that I'm only interested in friendship to try and save them the awkwardness of being shot down. If they don't pick up on those hints and keep pushing, I'll give out stronger clues. And so forth until either they get the hint, or I outright have to bluntly say something.

          • Dr. Nerdlove covers this kind of stuff in heaps of his posts. A lot of the time you can make it a lot easier to avoid rejection or pick up on interest by paying attention to how she's behaving when you are hanging out. Most girls, unless they are REALLY shy/introverted, will usually drop some hints either way.

          • The Mikey says:

            Yeah, I agree with not asking out guns blazing, that'd be silly. And yeah, I've tried to pick up on some cues like the ones the Doc put on his blog awhile back.

            It's difficult, to be honest. I tried reading this one girl's signals, I met her in December of 2011 and asked her out in May of 2012, so we knew eachother for a nice chunk of time. And before that I'd talk to her fairly well. Anyways, I tried to read her signals to see if she was interested. I was certain she was. I went into church one morning, she was super happy to see me, as was I. When we sat on the bench, her head would lean towards me, when she crossed her legs, her right leg was pointed towards my leg. I'd mirror her a little and she'd mirror back and it was things like those. So I thought, "Holy shit, she digs me." So the following Sunday I went for it, asked her out and got nothing. So either I misinterpreted her signals, or she was leading me on. I don't know, I didn't get hung up over it, it just kinda disappointed me because I thought it was going so well.

            I'm almost certain I misread some signals there. But I'm not certain, at least she was honest with me. So maybe signal reading I should brush up on too, believe me, I've done it (and failed).

          • Why are the only two options that you misinterpreted her signals, or she was "leading you on"? Either she wasn't interested in you, or she was intentionally messing with you?

            The most likely explanation was that she was interested in you but still didn't want to go out with you, and her body language was indicating that interest. The interest may have been platonic (I find lots of people interesting without being attracted to them). Or she may have been sexually attracted to you, but not wanted to go out with you for any one or more of a myriad of reasons. It's possible to find someone physically attractive, have chemistry with them, and still recognize that going out with them would be a bad idea. Some people may be sexually attracted to a particular physical type, but that doesn't mean that every person who fits that physical profile and sparks sexual attraction is going to be someone that they want a relationship with.

            Being physically attracted to someone (you're not always aware of your body language), treating them in a friendly manner (you may like someone as a person without wanting a romantic relationship), and declining to go out with them when asked is not being dishonest or "leading them on."

          • The Mikey says:

            Ahh, yeah I understand what you're saying. It was silly of me to think that, in retrospect. I wasn't mad when I got shot down anyways, but I wasn't gonna ask why I was shot down either.

            It's a shame. I swear I thought I had this one. Oh well. This is really confusing to be honest with you, so she was interested, but she wasn't? Goodness this is very confusing.

          • Sorry, that response was pretty unclear because of how we're using the word "interest."

            In the context of a dating advice site, "interest" generally means "sexual interest."

            The problem is, the things dating sites generally tell you indicate "interest" *don't* always mean "sexual interest." Sometimes they mean "interest in what you're saying." Human behavior is complicated, and the goal of most dating advice is broad strokes. They want you to start by at least being able to identify and hit on people who aren't actively wishing you would go away, but they often treat body language as if signals for "I want to continue talking with you" and "I want to sleep with you" are the same. They're not.

            Let's say I meet you at a party and we start talking about a movie we both saw. We both loved it, and we start discussing the nuances of the plot, and I am really into this conversation. My body language is going to read exactly like what most dating advice will tell you means I am interested in sleeping with you. But I'm not. I'm just enjoying the conversation.

            So, the girl in question may genuinely have enjoyed talking to you, but that doesn't mean she wanted to date you. (Interest in the conversation, but no sexual interest or interest in dating.)

            And sometimes you can have sexual interest and still not want to go on a date with someone. It's possible to think someone is hot (and have your body language, if you're not careful, indicating that) but not want to spend any time with you. A guy with the body of an Adonis, who smells amazing and has a killer smile might walk up to me and start talking to me. And after a few minutes, I realize this guy is a complete asshole. That may not change the fact that I find him physically attractive, but I certainly don't want to go out with him. (Sexual interest, but no interest in dating.)

            So "interest" can mean a lot of things. And the mere fact that someone likes talking to you, or finds you sexually attractive, doesn't necessarily mean that they're interested in going out with you.

            Make sense?

          • The Mikey says:

            Yeah, makes sense. Just because you're talking to me doesn't mean you're attracted to me, and that's perfectly reasonable. What I'm curious about now is how in the hell can I tell if a girl is attracted to me or not since what I THOUGHT were clear signs actually aren't anymore…? When I thought she liked/was attracted to me, my confidence level shot-up tenfold but then dropped back through the floor boards afterwards.

            Not gonna lie, my heart sank when I got her text later telling me she was only looking for friendship. But at least she was being honest with me. Ironically, honesty, is something I look for in a girl (and I treasure honesty very dearly), so it made the rejection just a little more painful but easy at the same time.

            Oh well, I misread signals. Made my move and it amounted to nothing. I'm not gonna question why else she wouldn't go out with me, but I definitely understand what you mean. Although the slight age difference may have something to do with it (I'm 20 she's 24). Whatevs, not gonna worry about it.

          • Yeah… I'm gonna say something that people might not agree with, but I really don't think subtle body language like that means a lot. People tend to mirror each other a lot without it actually meaning sexual attraction. It's usually more of a sign that you're just comfortable. Same with things like playing with hair, some girls do that all the time, and it doesn't mean anything beyond a fidget. I've had that happen, where guys thought I was flirting with them because of how I was sitting/standing/smiling/etc, and I would have not even had a clue that I was even doing it. I'd be looking for more concrete signs, like actual touching, gentle teasing/banter, turning the conversation to something a little more sexual. If she's put in a lot of effort on her appearance, that sort of thing. The biggest giveaway I can think of is if she's sitting next to you and she's actually pressing her leg against yours – that sort of thing is a sure sign.

          • I could see where somebody may disagree, case-in-point, my little snafu. But you're right too, I've caught cases of mirroring a little, where friends of mine have mirrored me now that you mention it.

            To be honest, I'm pretty shy about touching. I can tease a little (I'm not sure about banter, I'm still not sure what 'banter' really is) and I NEVER make or take things to a sexual level. If anything I turn into a bit of a prude which probably isn't the best idea, but I don't wanna make it seem like a pervert either which is why I do that too. Unless they ask me something sexual, then okay I'll answer, but I usually try to never make sexual jokes. That, on a personal level is a no-no. The main reason for that is due to past experiences going south from ramping it up to a more sexual conversation. Maybe it's because I don't really know what that means… turning the conversation more sexual, that is.

            *shrug*

            As for pressing her leg against mine? I dunno we were sitting pretty close that time in church, so I don't know. Eh, it's in the past.

          • Same here! I tend to mirror anyone I'm talking to (even the ones I actually want to get away from) because I was taught that it's rude not to look interested when someone's talking with you.

          • I too think "the Friendzone" is buckets of baloney. I'd met someone who became a friend, who was worried about spoiling the friendship, and I asked him, "Whyever would you go out with someone who WASN'T your friend??" Apparently that had never occurred to him, and his previous relationships reflected it, too. You might find out that you are better off in your attempts to converse (not "date") with women you find attractive if you just pretend that they're ordinary human beings, just like you. Because they are. The problem seems to be is that you are, in fact, treating them differently. Why don't you find out if you like them first, before you worry about dating them? That's what conversation and friendship is all about. And you may want to keep your options open – that woman who is 20 years older or 20 years younger may turn out to be The One for you; it worked that way for my brother – and for me, come to think of it.

            Oh, and I like short guys, too.

        • I think we do have some advantages that even as we move toward a more egalitarian society, we have baggage from our cultural narratives, and one of those is that men are expected to approach women. Another is that men are supposed to want sex more than women, that women are the gatekeepers of sex. So an average- or better-looking woman is likely to get approached more often than her male counterpart simply because she's been trained to sublimate her desire, whereas he's been trained that part of his gender role is to express it.

          Feeling like the desired rather than the desiring party, and knowing that even if you don't approach people you'll still get approached, probably does give one more confidence.

          • The flip side to that is the attractive woman who doesn't date because most men either assume she's already with someone, or they're afraid to approach her. It's been my experience, and that of other women I know, that even asking men out doesn't necessarily produce the desired results; a great many men, much as they may hate the ritual, prefer to be the person pursuing rather than the one being pursued (I've wondered if it's because they associate the traditionally "female" role with being "passive").

            The down side to the above is sometimes only the guy who is totally unaware of how offensive he gets will be the only one to approach an attractive woman.

    • Are you respectful?

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      My question to everyone who feels like Max: are you here reading or are you here reading and out there doing? Doc's training program (so to speak) isn't an overnight process. One of the key axioms is that you don't become an expert overnight. People skills like any skills take practice. You don't grow based on the number of articles you read but by the amount of time and effort spent applying those lessons.

  12. I have problems with the c-word – I don't even like to type it out. And I find that knowing myself and my capabilities makes things worse. As an example, I've been rock climbing for about four years now. The first and second years were great, I could feel myself getting better every time I went out and I really enjoyed myself. By the end of the second year I was leading Severe to HS (US 5.5 to 5.6 – considerably easier than average, but I still felt good about it thanks to ignorance). Then I got some objective feedback. I saw other people joining the sport and quickly surpassing me, I fell off an easy route and could have really hurt myself if my belayer hadn't been incredibly on the ball and sprinted backwards, and now I'm really dispirited and, much as I hate to admit it, the c-word is affecting my performance. I seem to have lost my ability to feel out my position and plan my moves – I get scared and freeze up/chicken out on easy routes, and when I tell myself not to be afraid, the result is that I'm afraid and ashamed.

    My rock climbing story also reveals a problem with passion. I'm old enough that I really ought to have my life defined, and yet there's nothing I do where I really "click" – have that deep understanding or that tight feedback between effort and results that makes me want to say "This. This is what I want to define my life by."

  13. So basically, you have to be half-past perfect to remotely have a chance.

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      if you consider the basic, general guidelines the Doc laid out "perfection", you need a better definition – we women can be way, way more exacting when it comes to their ideal man. What the Doc lays out in the article isn't all that difficult to achieve (many men do, and so can you) – it will just take some effort on your part, is all.

    • A little more than 50% of the men in the US are currently married (and presumably a significant percentage are in relationships but not married at the moment). If that many people not only had a chance but found a committed partner, it obviously doesn't require anything like perfection (or else "half-past perfection" is not actually that hard to attain).

      • It's always felt like I'd have to play-act or perform instead of just "be myself." That's why it might as well be saying "you have to be perfect."

        • Dr_NerdLove says:

          Which aspect are you saying you'd have to play-act? 'cuzif you're saying you have to play-act intellectual curiosity or being respectful to women, I think you've got bigger issues than having to be “perfect”…

          • Okay, yeah, respect to women isn't hard. I'm your classic ISTJ type if you're familiar with MBTI type things. I tend to hold most passions or intellectual curiosity and what-not on the inside or go and explore them on my own. Emoting them and sharing them with other people isn't something I really do. The sense of humour doesn't come out until I get a handle on where people stand on that kind of thing. And confidence… among people I know, it's fine enough, among strangers, I'm certain I'm intimidating more than anything (the kind of "I'm in the middle of the something, get out the way" kind of thing that my height and lack of too much facial expressions doesn't help… been trying to smile more and such at least), among girls I'm attracted to, it's either intimidating or dropping my spaghetti. The play-acting is just because most of your suggestions aren't things I'd normally do with friends and such, nevermind a girl I'm interested in.

          • Comment got split.

            I also tend to see a poor outcome, that if I do these out-of-the-ordinary things and a girl's into it, then there will come a point where I'll get comfortable enough that I'll fall back into natural habits, which means I basically set her up under false assumptions of what my personality is.

          • You say: "I'll get comfortable enough that I'll fall back into natural habits, which means I basically set her up under false assumptions of what my personality is."

            I think this reveals something important: you are confusing habit for personality. When you say that you hold your passions on the inside, or that you can only express confidence/humor when you know where people stand, are you describing personality, or habit? Why do you think one versus the other?

            Or, this: when I was in my late 20s, I decided I wanted to play hockey. Had never done it. I got some gear, found a beginner's league, and went out there. I sucked, of course. I could easily have constructed some internal narrative about how I was "play-acting" (there was even a 'costume'!), and totally shut myself down. Instead, I just decided I was learning.

          • Doesn't work. You don't have to interact much with your teammates, you just gotta play, and you can practice on your own to get better, and you like hockey enough to play it, so it's not play-acting, it's exploring a sport. The more apt comparison would you be taking up hockey even though you don't like it at all just to become friends with people on the local rec team.

            I don't otherwise value socializing or going out because I can have fun and focus on something and recharge on my own. It'd be play-acting because I'd be doing something I otherwise don't care about (probably not convincingly because of this) on the off-chance a good result came about. And if one did, then this kind of stuff does wear off once you get comfortable with someone, and your natural tendencies surface. I watched a friends relationship fall apart completely because after the opening "passionate" stage of the relationship wore off, he was way less motivated to do a lot of the things he was adamant about doing when he first got with his girl and fell back into his natural habits and lifestyle. I think it'd be pretty unfair to set a girl up like that,

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            So, what you're saying is that you do not actually value a relationship at this point in time. Maybe you like the idea of one (or just the idea of sex?), but when it comes down to actually spending time with other people in activities, you'd rather the other people just butt out.

            My advice: either learn to share, or learn to be content with singledom. You don't have to do everything together in a relationship, but if you want a relationship, you're going to have to learn to spend time and energy on others, and to value that time spent (trust me, women can quickly tell if the time being spent on them is token and not valued).

          • I think you're totally right that pretending to be someone you're not to get a date is a bad idea. But I'm not actually seeing many ways in which the way you describe yourself differs from the qualities DNL said many women seem to be looking for (which you suggested was too demanding).

            -You say you respect women already, so that's taken care of.
            -You say you have a sense of humour and confidence with people you know–well, once you've gone on a few dates with a woman, you'll know her and those things should start to come naturally, right? You'd just have to "play act" at being confident until you knew her well enough to actually feel confident–it wouldn't be something that would "wear off" but rather develop.
            -In the comment I'm replying to directly, you mention socializing and going out as things that you'd have to play-act at, but the post never said women are looking for men who want to constantly socialize and go out. (If you *never* want to socialize and go out, that could be a problem… but if you don't want to be around other people ever, what exactly do you think you do with a girlfriend? I'm not sure why you'd want one if you don't ever find other people's company appealing. But if you're just introverted and don't like doing those things *a lot*, you find an introverted girl who also enjoys doing her own thing a lot, and it's no problem.)

            The only disconnect I'm seeing is that you say that you have passions and intellectual curiosity, but you don't usually share them with others–that you prefer "keeping things to yourself." I'd have to wonder why this is. How intellectually curious are you really, if you don't care about finding out what other people think about the topics you're curious about? How passionate are you really if you never feel like talking about the things you're passionate about with anyone else? If you met a woman (or a man, for that matter) who was passionate and/or curious about the same topics you are, or at least similar ones, you'd feel no interest in discussing them with her/him?

            A lack of interest in having dialogues with people–where you share your thoughts on something and they share theirs–seems to me like a problem that's bigger than just a dating obstacle. I think if might be helpful for you to figure out why this is. Is it that you really don't care about other people's thoughts and opinions, or think they're valid/useful/important? Is it that you don't think *your* thoughts and opinions are valid/important enough that anyone else would care? Is it simply that you haven't been hanging out with people who are actually interested in similar things, with whom a dialogue like that would be enjoyable?

            Because yeah, a relationship is about sharing, and a woman isn't going to enjoy being with a man who never wants to share his thoughts and feelings with her. You don't have to be totally open about everything all the time, but you have to let her in. That's what emotional intimacy is all about. Denying her access to what's going on inside your head isn't any different than one person in the relationship saying they don't want any physical intimacy–no sex, not even making out. It's not unreasonable for a romantic partner to expect both types of intimacy with you (over time), and if you can't give it, then you either need to accept your opportunities for relationships will be limited, or you need to try to change your personality or whatever emotional or mental blocks are holding you back, so that you can offer that intimacy.

          • I've found most passion and intellectual curiosity can be quenched by research or going to a class or hiring a teacher. Socializing about it is wasted time and energy, because they either don't care, do care but agree, or do care and don't agree which lead to even further wasted energy while you pound eachother with gospel opinions. There's no sharing necessary to get to where you need to go with them.

          • I think you're viewing conversation in a very restricted way. Socializing with people who are interested in the same topics can lead to other, enjoyable things: getting perspectives you might not have considered before (if you both agree, you might agree for different reasons; if you disagree, they might disagree for reasons you hadn't thought about, or hadn't thought about that way), finding out information you might not have already known (because the other person has come across different research/classes/whatever than you), and being directed toward resources you might not have been aware of (a great website, or book, or class, or movie), just to name a few. Which is purely from a practical standpoint. Many people get enjoyment out of talking about something they like and hearing that someone else likes it to, and getting to discuss the things they like about that topic, in the same way that many people enjoy reminiscing about pleasant past experiences together, though it sounds like this isn't the case for you.

            I get the impression from what you've written above that you don't actually think that other people's perspectives and opinions have much value. Which suggests to me that you don't actually respect people in general (not just women in particular) very much, unless they meet specific qualifications like being certified in a subject. I'd guess that's the root of your problem right there.

            What exactly do you want a woman's companionship for, if you think talking with her would only be wasted time and energy? If you're only interested in the physical component, then I'd suggest websites specifically geared toward physical encounters, or prostitutes if they're legal where you are, and/or just sticking with self-pleasuring. For women to want a partner who actually enjoys talking with them isn't asking for "half-past perfection"; it's a normal component of the vast majority of human relationships (not just romance). If you wouldn't want to be in a relationship with a woman who wouldn't even kiss you, then you can't blame women for not wanting to date a guy who isn't interested in talking with them.

          • You can get all that stuff you mentioned off the internet (which isn't real socializing for the most part) with no extra hassles involved and usually in far greater detail than you'll ever get socializing in person. And in my experience, face-to-face most people aren't telling me anything I need to know or don't already know, or they're just talking to talk. It's very rare for it to not be more than a draining waste of time. It's hard to give it value when you're not getting any in return.

          • So what do you want from a relationship with a woman? What's the picture you have in your mind when you think about dating someone?

          • I envision my home to be a sanctuary away from the rest of the world where I can recover in peace from whatever work I have to do to make that home a reality. Being with a woman who wants a similar kind of thing and isn't dragging a ton of people and/or drama into that personal space seems like a must. As for dating, hell if I know, dating means doing the opposite of all of that.

          • But what do you want from this this woman who might theoretically be in your sanctuary? You don't seem to want to talk to her…so what is she there for? Presumably you can cook and clean for yourself. So…what do you want to have a relationship for? What do you imagine you'll get out of the relationship? What are your relationship needs and desires?

            You haven't yet articulated the answers to those questions…and they are important questions. No one can enter into the relationship you are looking for if you never articulate what it is you want.

          • Hypothetically, she'd be the kind of person I'd want to talk to and share with, and someone safe and low-key enough to allow into my home, heart and mind.

          • But apparently you don't want to talk with or share with anyone (in person, at least). *Are* there people with whom you don't find conversing a waste of time? If so, then obviously you just need to look for women like that. If not… what makes you think a woman you *would* enjoy talking with exists within your current preferences?

            Dating doesn't mean dragging other people and drama into your personal space. It just means spending time with the other person. Where and how you spend that time is up to you, and there are plenty of girls who don't enjoy busy social situations either (*raises hand*), and are happy doing low-key quiet dates.

          • Online, kinda yes. I have them mostly figured out, so the things that used to be interesting about them aren't really anymore. Offline, no. My circle of friends has dwindled to nothing, and I haven't missed them in the least. Some of them were poor friends in hindsight (the kind that teach you that you that it isn't worth sharing thoughts and feelings because you're just giving someone else potential ammo), but even the ones I liked were very draining to be around and like the online ones, I had them figured out. And I don't think a woman would be interested in talking with me, because the only way to "flip her switches" is to do the things that I'd otherwise wouldn't do/play-act etc. There's a reason I said "hypothetically" above.

            And it really does. If things go well, you'll have to deal with her family, her friends, etc, which is just inviting trouble in.

          • So… you don't even like any women and yet you're bitching that they have basic minimal standards which you really can't be assed to even try and reach? Why would you even want a relationship if you don't like anyone and can't be bothered in the first place? Get a cat or something.

          • There's a difference between not liking someone and not being able to get anything out of them. I don't hate the people I'm not longer friends with, I just don't miss their company because they weren't adding anything new or interesting and were draining to keep up with.

          • Exactly. So you don't like them. Like I said. If you don't miss something then you can't have really liked it to begin with. Get yourself a cat.

          • No interest in taking care of animals :p

          • Hey! Cats enter into relationships with people. No, they don't date them, but most pet owners would definitely say there's a relationship. Don't condemn an animal to a life of loneliness.

          • I'll repeat what I said before then–if you don't enjoy spending time with *anyone* in person, what makes you think a woman you would enjoy talking with exists? (Not a woman who'd be interested in talking with you, a woman *you* would be interested in talking with.)

            And if you don't think a woman exists who you'd enjoy talking with, even one-on-one without taking friends or family into account, because you simply don't enjoy or feel the need to have human company in general, why are you looking for and complaining about having trouble finding a girlfriend? What do you think *would* be enjoyable about that relationship for you, when you don't even care about having friends?

            You still haven't really answered that question. I feel like you're complaining that you can't find a good cake and then admitting you hate any food that's remotely sweet. The problem isn't that there are no good cakes out there, the problem is that you don't like something that's inherent to cake. So why not just stick to the things you do enjoy?

          • Because friendships are 100% transitory, whereas the right relationship would be about building an understanding together. And I did answer the question, you just weren't satisfied because I didn't get specific enough for you to pick apart.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            Dude, EVERY relationship in life is transitory. people betray, get married, drift away, move house and, ultimately, die. And how on earth do you expect to "build an understanding" when you don't even value the people currently around you? Once all the passion and lust burns away, a long-term romantic relationship looks very similar to a long-term friendship.

          • How can you stand putting real time and effort into something that will most likely come and go like nothing ever happened?

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            Because my life has been made richer for their presence in it, however briefly they were there for. There is a richness in living life for more than just your own enjoyment, and I think you may be robbing yourself of that.

          • I dunno, maybe you were just lucky to be somewhere where there's a lot of interesting people? The things I feel when I think about most of the people who've come and gone are either regret (there was some really shitty people I hung out with regularly for way too long) or that they were just in it to kill time.

          • See, this is where we get into a loop. You're expressing two completely different concepts here. Whether people are "interesting" is about how you see them–do you find talking with them interesting? Whether people are behaving in shitty ways or just killing time is about how they treat you. A interesting person isn't automatically going to treat you well, and a person who treats you well isn't necessarily going to also be someone you find interesting.

            And the two problems have very different solutions. If you're not finding people who are whatever you consider interesting, then either your standards are too high and you need to learn to approach social relationships in a healthier way (which is what I'd suspect is the case, given that even with the vast reaches of the Internet at your disposal, you're not finding you're really connecting with anyone even online) or you're not in a good community for you, and need to move somewhere more suited to your interests and/or find groups nearby that are related to your interests.

            If the problem is that you keep trying to be friends with people who treat you badly or don't seem interested in *you*, and this has made you nervous about connecting with people, then you'd probably want to put less stress on finding a super dedicated friend and just on meeting people who follow some general baselines of behavior: no shitty behavior, enthusiastic about talking or doing activities with you. Don't worry about how long or close the friendship will be until you make sure they're at least a decent "good acquaintance", and that will save you from getting emotionally invested before it's "safe” and then feeling rejected again.

          • Because I can value the interactions I'm having with someone right here, right now, in themselves? Because if the interaction is good and makes me happy right now, it has value regardless of what happens in the future? Because drifting apart from a friend doesn't devalue the friendship you had before?

            The amazing meal I had last year at one of the top restaurants in the world is well and truly gone. I can't taste it anymore, and It's long since digested and not nourishing me anymore.

            That doesn't mean it wasn't worth every one of the considerable number of pennies I paid for it. It was an amazing experience.

            You know, they've found that once people have their basic needs met, they are happier when they spend money on experiences rather than things.

            Maybe you should think of your friendships less as commodities and more as experiences. You might be able to appreciate the happiness they give you in the moment more.

          • Bit late for that, they've moved on.

          • Not all friendships are transitory. It depends on what you both want out of the friendships, but some people become your family of choice, and those people don't go away.

          • You answered the question by saying you'd want something with the woman that you've also stated several things you don't actually enjoy (talking and sharing with another person). Surely you can see that doesn't make any sense? Even this new transitory vs. not idea you've finally brought up doesn't explain it, because you've said you find conversations to be a waste of time because you get nothing out of them in the moment, which isn't going to be influenced by how long the other person is or isn't going to stick around afterward. Someone saying the exact same statement of, "Oh, I like X too, because of Y and Z reasons" isn't going to magically become more useful or interesting to you just because they're made a lifelong commitment. (And if it actually is, I second the therapy suggestion, because there's something profoundly unhealthy about measuring the worth of other people's statements on subjects unrelated to you personally by how much emotional commitment they're made to you personally.)

            So presumably there's something more to this, something else that you want or some idea you have of what this woman would be or do, but you're unwilling to say what. For someone who seems to pride himself in being totally practical and efficient about communication, you aren't expressing yourself clearly at all.

            We're not trying to pick apart what you're saying–we're trying to figure out what it is exactly that you want, so we can *help* you get it. Presumably you commented here, on this advice blog, because you wanted advice? But we can't suggest anything useful while we're stuck in this loop of "I want a women to talk to” "Here's how you can get that” ”But I don't like talking!” And we can't move beyond that unless you start explaining yourself more thoroughly.

          • Safety. Sharing silence without either thinking "something's wrong/someone's mad" or having to think it needs to be filled. Being able to say what's on my mind without it coming back on me somehow. Coming home on a rainy pacific-northwest friday and being able to say "I'm wiped, let's just stay in and listen to the rain tonight" without this being seen as a negative or anti-social thing. No kicking up needless drama because she's "bored" and needs to feel something (that would take an 11/10 down to a 0, I have no patience or attraction to this due to seeing too much stupid family drama). Knowing her viewing/reading tendencies enough to introduce her to things I'm interested in the right way and vice versa (strangely enough, the only person it wasn't difficult to introduce things to was a girl who had a crush on me back in the day, everyone else is pulling teeth to get'em to try a bit).

            Split

          • Cont.

            Not having to worry about being the "fun" guy or the life of the party or having to constantly impress her friends to raise her social value or going clubbing or anything like that (it's very discouraging to see that most of doc's advice is mostly about doing these kinds of things).If I get drained, she'd have other things she can do and/or would understand and give me the space to recoup (it's easy enough for me to do the same, but if she's a more extroverted girl, I don't know if I could keep up even if I tried).

            I don't know what else to say or what you could be looking for out of this.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            so, what you have on offer for girls is.. being silent, listening to rain, not talking and not being the life of the party? sorry, dude, but if that's all you're willing to offer another person, you are boring.

            relationships are not passive add-ons – they take work, serious work. and they need to go at least somewhere – your idea of a relationship sounds more like keeping a pet than actually dealing with another member of our species.

          • "Be the life of the party or you're a boring foreveralone." Fantastic.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            more like "learn to take an interest in others or be forever alone" but that seems to be a tad advanced for you.

            For now, I suggest accepting the fact that you are a boring foreveralone. When you're ready to make an effort to change that, then we'll talk.

          • Okay. I'm still naturally introverted even if I have an interest in people? I'm never going to be the life of the party because even imaging the best-case scenario, it's not something I want. What do I do?

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            Your introversion isn't really the issue here. Never has been.
            As someone who is somewhat intorverted, I know introverts can set and build up mental filters in order to prolong interaction times with others.

          • It really feels like it is.

          • All I can say is, there are plenty of women who wouldn't have a problem with any of these things. Most introverted women (and there are lots of us!) can share silence, enjoy staying in for the night, avoid social drama, happily share their viewing/reading tendencies, and have no interest in being the life of the party or going clubbing or constantly impressing people. Go to online dating sites. Look for profiles where women talk about their interests being things like reading and watching movies and other often-solitary pastimes, and don't mention clubbing or other super social things. There will be plenty.

            The thing is, you're still going to have to put in *some* effort. You're going to have to be able to share something about yourself in conversation so that she knows what you're like, so she can decide whether she likes you. (You can't expect someone to commit themselves to you if you haven't even let them get to know you, right?) She's going to expect you to be able to interact with her for more than an hour at a time, at least some of the time–only seeing each other for one hour at a time doesn't give either person much time to get comfortable with the other (because, y'know, you will have to *date* her–whether those dates are visits at your respective homes or quiet public places or whatever–before you get to the point of living together). And yes, you probably will at least occasionally have to interact with her family and friends, because if you get into a serious relationship with someone, you *become* part of their family. It doesn't have to mean a lot–my husband and I almost always see our friends separately, because our friend groups mostly revolve around interests the other doesn't share, but we do have dinner with my parents once every month or two. (If he didn't enjoy seeing my parents, though, I'd be fine if he stuck to only coming for major holidays–so more like 2-3 times a year.) Though if you find her personality appealing, it's fairly likely that the people she hangs out with will have similar personalities that you also won't find too bothersome.

            Does it suck if you open yourself up to a person and it turns out she isn't what you wanted? Sure. But that happens to all of us, and it's an unfortunate but unavoidable characteristic of human social relationships due to the fact that we don't have telepathy and can't instantly assess how much we like a person and what they're all about. Either you decide you'd rather be alone than face the possibility of failures, and own that decision, or you decide that you'd rather face some failures in order to eventually find the right partner, and do your best to make sure the women you're approaching are already showing some signs of fitting what you want.

          • Dating sites are sparse for this area, it's mostly much older people using them, so that's out.

            I'm not even sure where I'm supposed to look. I mean, you can say "people are everywhere" but perfect strangers don't hassle eachother everywhere to get to know eachother.

          • Well, I was going to also suggest themed social gatherings around your introverted interests, like potentially book clubs or film groups or whatever, but I realize that being around a larger group will probably be very draining for you in the first place without trying to get to know specific individuals in addition. Which is why I suggested starting online. If you are up for something like a book club or other hobby-based meet-up, or can work on the getting-drained problem so you're able to enjoy a few hours of social interaction, it's pretty normal for strangers to chat each other up in that context, since you have the common ground of being in that group together.

            If you live in a fairly sparsely populated and/or not very introvert-friendly area, you'd probably be a lot happier if you can afford or save up to move to a big (or at least, bigger) city that will cater to a wider variety of interests, including introverted ones, and including dating site participation. It may seem like a hassle in the present, but in the long run, I suspect it'd put you in a much better place not just romantically but also in terms of finding friends you actually like, job opportunities, etc.

          • I guess it's a place to start. Thanks, and sorry to everyone for being a shit.

          • You seem to have a really one-dimensional and condescending opinion on what women are like, almost like you've decided this is how all women behave based on an episode of Gossip Girl that you watched one time. You also are still just listing the things you don't want from a relationship rather than what you do want. The most I've gotten out of this so far is "safety" and introducing her to things you like.

          • I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say.

          • Am I supposed to be building my ideal human being. Giving her exact hobbies and personality traits or physical specs? Deciding how we interact with eachother beforehand? Sounds very restrictive.

            As for things I don't want, I know those more solidly because I've seen first-hand how things go with them.

            And if it sounds one dimensional, it's because that's how most people portray themselves in public. There may be more going on in their head, but it's not on display.

          • I don't think so dude. Most people have a lot on display in public, people who come across as one-dimensional are a rarity outside of high school IMO. I think you're just being incredibly judgemental and making a lot of assumptions about people you don't even know.

            I'm not talking about describing you idea human being. I am asking you to explain why you even want to be in a relationship with another human being when you can't even stand to be around any in the first place. What would they contribute to your life if you don't want to talk/connect/spend any time with them? What exactly would you do, together, as a couple?

          • No way. People in public are on auto-pilot most of the time. You can't tell me they're showing off a lot when they're just trying to go about their business with little fuss.

            In an ideal situation, she'd be an exception.

          • People have tons on display in public. It's just a matter of having enough interest and empathy to see it.

          • The Simple Man says:

            Which is something anon has none off.

          • So…it really doesn't sound like you are interested enough in other people to be able to have friendly relationships, let alone romantic ones. You just don't seem to like people (women or otherwise)–so it is a bit beyond me why you'd want to date a person. Do you actually want to date a person? Especially since she might have family and friends and might want to talk to you?

            I sounds like you don't actually want to have a relationship with someone.

            I have to ask…are you in therapy to discuss your dislike and disinterest in other human beings? Because maybe you might want to work through that. Because as you are describing yourself right now…you don't seem to be able to give the sort of energy/friendship/interest in another person that necessitates any sort of relationship. You also just don't seem to trust people and seem to view interpersonal relationships as trouble and not worth it.

            Which will make it hard to date…and if you do date…doesn't bode well for the relationship working out or being healthy.

            I recommend therapy to work through some of this.

          • Oh please. It doesn't matter how long you've been friends with someone or how friendly you are with them, say "no" a few times to hanging out because you're doing something else or you're tired, they'll just move on to people who will give them the extravert recharge instead and leave you behind. Or they'll have to do the right thing for their own lives or jobs by moving to another place, and now you're out all that work you put into building something. That's not what friendship should be about, but that's what people treat it as. I'm supposed to go to therapy over this? :p

          • Jesus Christ.

            Yes. Yes you should.

            I say no to my friends all the time, and yet they're still there for me when I am ready to say yes. That's the difference between friends and acquaintances.

          • Then I've only had acquaintainces, because they just usually stop calling or asking once I've said no a few times. :p

          • And you don't think that maybe some therapy would help you understand why you have only had acquaintances?

          • Maybe the way you say no makes them feel that you're not interested in being friends with them, rather than not wanting to do that specific activity at that time? If you refuse an invitation, follow up with one of your own – show them that you want to see them. It's also okay to tell them that you're not up for some things, like loud parties, but that you would really like to do other things with them.

          • It's probably not because you say "no" them that they disappear, it's probably because you sound like you have some sort of superiority complex.

          • I never talked to them the say way I do on the internet.

          • Someone with a reasonable degree of emotional intelligence can pick up on your underlying attitude without you having to actually say things. I don't mean to be cruel, but I'm having a hard time understanding why anyone would want to be friends with you, let alone in a relationship with you, given that you don't see the point in putting any effort into your relationships, and your contempt for most people you interact with comes across loud and clear.

          • Trust me when I say that the vast majority of friends I've ever had haven't been able to read me or otherwise thought I was fine, if a little too quiet. This comes mostly from their own mouths.

          • People can get a negative vibe from you without being consciously aware of it enough to put it into words. But it'll be there in the back of their minds, and influence how much they feel like trying to keep in touch with you and continue hanging out with you. They might not realize *why* they don't find it totally enjoyable to hang out with you, and assume it's just that even though you're a "fine" person (not exactly the highest order of compliment) you and they don't click so well, but that doesn't mean your attitude isn't influencing those encounters.

          • How do I not do it, then?

          • Only hang out with people you are actually enjoying hanging out with, whose thoughts and opinions you respect, so you won't be feeling those negative ways toward them in the first place. If you start to get worn out and feeling like you're not enjoying hanging out in that moment any more, say you need to leave before you get so drained that you can't show your enthusiasm for the time you have spent together. And if you stop enjoying their company altogether or stop respecting them, stop hanging out with them for your own benefit as well as theirs.

            If you don't enjoy hanging out with anyone, or don't really respect anyone, then you need to work on your attitudes about the rest of the human race on your own or with a professional before you start trying to make friends.

          • To some degree, finding what's interesting and worthy of respect in a person is a skill you can learn. I'm not great at this, I've even taken a perverse pride in it – Ooh, I'm so smart, how can I possibly find these dumb people interesting . Ooh, I'm so discerning!

            But then I met a woman who knew the chefs at all the most awesome restaurants, got invited to the coolest gallery showings and was on chatty terms with the top specialists in all fields. She was a brilliant professor who spoke a gazillian languages . So, not exactly some schmoe who's too stupid to know who she does and doesn't like.

            My first assumption was that she knew all these cool ppl b/c she went around impressing people. But watching her, I realized it was because she had an amazing ability to be INTERESTED. A cab driver, a scientist, a five-year old, a maid, everyone was interesting to her, b/c she was so determined to find the kernal of amazingness that exists in everything in the world. And if you want yourself to be a smart, knowledgable, interesting and happy person, I'm pretty darn sure this is what you want to aspire to!

          • That's possible. It's possible that your "friends" have only ever been people with low emotional intelligence who were oblivious to your contempt for them.

            More likely, they sensed it, but were too polite to say anything and preferred to simply stop inviting you to do things, as you say almost all of your friends have done.

          • How friendly can you have been with these people, really, when every time you were talking with them you were thinking what a waste of time it was and how well you had them "figured out"? That's not a remotely friendly attitude. I suspect people didn't stop calling because you couldn't hang out a few times, but because they picked up on the vibe that you weren't actually enjoying yourself when you *were* hanging out. Why would they want to keep spending time with someone who has such a low opinion of them?

            Also, you really think someone's a bad friend because they need to move in order to have a better life? If *you* had really been a friend to them, you'd be happy that they found a better opportunity, even if sad to lose the friendship. *That's* what friendship is supposed to be about–caring about the other person's happiness and enjoying spending time with them. You seem to think friendship=forgiving you all your personality flaws while being totally perfect in their treatment of you and putting you ahead of everything else in their life. Real friendship is reciprocal. You get what you're willing to give.

          • I last about an hour in social situations before I get wiped out. I can drag it out to two if I don't engage much, less if someone's a chatterbox. I don't actively think "This is a waste of time" but I do tend towards playing it defensively just so I can last. Most of the time I was winding down by the time my friends were just getting going. Result still ends up being the same.

            And no, I don't think they're a bad friend. I just think you're out all that time and effort it took to make that friend when they do the right thing for themselves.

          • Okay, well then, I would still second the therapy suggestion, because I think you need to get to the bottom of why socialization is so very draining for you. I'm very introverted, but I'm still able to spend more than an hour or two with other people now and then without being completely exhausted. It's definitely not normal to be wiped out from an hour of socializing, especially if that's even when you're one-on-one with the other person. And unfortunately it's understandable that people will be put off by someone who seems to find hanging out with them so exhausting. But it's quite possible that your exhaustion is caused by something that can be worked on so that you can enjoy social situations more.

            Another reason talking to a professional might help is that, as I suggested in a different comment above, it sounds like you're a little confused yourself about what exactly the problem is. Sometimes you sound as if you find people in general predictable and boring and not worth your time, and sometimes you sound as if you feel you just can't measure up to *their* standards. I'm not sure if the former is a defense mechanism you've developed to deal with your insecurities around the latter, or if the latter result is caused by the fact that the former is true and coming across in your interactions, but either way you've gotten yourself in a big tangle here, and I suspect it's unlikely a random commenter on this blog will be able to get you completely out of it. I do wish you good luck in sorting it out!

          • Commonly known as X says:

            I don't actually think you sound like a horrible person, but you do sound very depressed or otherwise unwell. Some people are natural hermits, but your "I want to meet someone to spend time with" but I hate spending time with someone problem is more than introversion. If you are actually happy with your isolation though, maybe you should consider if what you are missing is sex, not relationships. There is nothing wrong with just wanting to get laid once in a while, as long as thats all the other people involved want.

          • It doesn't seem like this is a reaction to other people's high standards. It's sounding as if you find almost all interpersonal interaction draining, troublesome and unrewarding. If that's the case, I think that almost anything our society views as a romantic relationship would be more of a burden than a benefit to you.

            Is there a reason that you're interested in such a relationship beyond the fact that society tells you that you should be in one? If you're mostly seeking sex or if you want someone to share the work of running a household, I think it might be better to label those impulses that and to see if you can find a way to fulfill them without a romantic relationship. Most candidates for those alternatives will expect things of you as well (casual sex partners care about appearance, sex workers care about money, roommates care about money too), but those may be less burdensome requirements for you to meet.

          • I know the #1 rule of Internet Advice is not diagnosing people online, which I am not doing, but you remind me in a very, real (trigger-like) way of an abusive ex I had who had schizo-affective disorder. He was very intelligent and drew me in with his, "I'm too pre-occupied with my passion to really pay attention to you", and made me want to be the one woman who he would let into his "sanctuary". I don't necessarily think that you are just like him, in terms of mental illness, but some of the terminology you use is jarringly similar, and honestly quite scary.

            I understand you are probably just a severe introvert with a high IQ, but please for the sake of any potential partners you may have, seek some therapy. It is not reasonable to expect a woman to not come with any family and friends when she enters into a relationship, nor is it healthy.

          • So let me get this straight: you view socializing as "wasted time and energy," but you want to be in a relationship? You understand that a romantic relationship involves socializing very frequently with the other person, right?

          • I like to hold out hope that maybe there's interesting people who aren't a waste and aren't draining.

          • BritterSweet says:

            *What* do you consider an interesting person who isn't a waste of time or energy?

          • I think that finding all interaction draining is a problem with you, not a problem with the people you interact with, and that you need to figure out what's causing it before you can hope to have healthy, rewarding relationships, whether it's with friends or romantic partners.

          • Could you give a little more detail about what you're looking for in a relationship? It doesn't sound like you want a partner in your hobbies. If you'd like to find an independent woman who has interests and passions of her own and respects your need for "me" time, I think you need to at least communicate that you have these hobbies. It might not be strictly natural, but if she doesn't know you have them, she might confuse you with one of the many slightly clingy guys she's probably met and had difficulties with in the past. If you're just looking to quietly watch television in the evenings and have a sex life with a partner, that's going to be a little harder. There are oodles of women looking for that, but also plenty of men offerng it, so it will be a little harder to make an impression. __One thing you might still work on is trying to be more like the self your friends know around women you're looking to date. That would involve some behavior that wouldn't feel completely natural to you, but that could give a better picture of what your personality will be like once you're in a relationship with someone. I agree you shouldn't pretend to be an open, emotive person when you're in fact not, but it sounds like you're holding back some of your better qualities until people know you quite well. That makes things awfully tricky for the women in your life – if they can't see the best parts of your personality, what else do they have to go on besides superficial qualities?

    • Did you even read this post? As Doctor Nerd Love said himself, if every heterosexual man had to be an "alpha" in common parlance or "half-past perfect" in yours than there would not be 7 billion humans. Most of us, including myself, are flawed beings but most of us manage to find a mate one way or another. In modernized societies the task is a bit harder because marriages aren't arranged and women have more refusal rights the they would in more traditional societies. What Doctor Nerd Love gave is a list of attributes, attributes that can be cultivated, that would make you stand out more to women. You don't even need to take up a sport or anything. D&D can be more your passion, as long as you can convey this passion than you have the attribute of passion. Respect means that you do not see women as beings who only exist to serve men's pleasure or goddesses that you are to sacrifice small goats to. It means that you treat them as fellow humans. Confidence means that you don't come across as sniveling beggar asking them to love you and kiss you because you know.

      Trooper6, if you must know one deal-breaker, this is it. A woman I date must be able to read text deeply and comprehend it. Inability to comprehend text is off-putting. I want a very literate woman. Somebody I could have serious and deep intellectual conversations with.

      • LeeEsq, I'm glad that you have at least one deal-breaker. And I'm glad that your deal-breaker is what it is. Ideally deal-breakers aren't some shallow silliness, but something that communicates a) you have self-respect and won't leap at just anything that breathes (because that isn't attractive), b) you have a sense of who you are/want and what you have to offer. This deal-breaker does both of these things. I've just learned a bit more about you through this deal breaker…and what I've learned has revealed something of your passion and personality. Also very good, you framed your deal-breaker as a positive rather than a negative.

        You have to have standards. This seems like a really good one for you. This definitely seems like one of those things that if you compromised on this you'd end up getting into a relationship that would not work out long term and would make you unhappy while you were in it.

        And that is really, for me, what deal breakers are about. Not about having impossible standards…but knowing that that this trait or that trait is just not healthy for you and you could not be happy in a relationship with that trait hanging around.

      • When you prefer keeping things to yourself, it doesn't matter how much confidence or passion or what-not you have. :p

        • Commonly known as X says:

          No it doesn't, because you are not communicating it. If you don't communicate it, it can't attract others.

      • Ha! I have almost the same deal breaker! I require men to be able to think about issues critically and abstractly. Oh, and also being Pro-life is a deal breaker for me too, but I don't think that's unreasonable, since I like sex but don't want kids atm.

  14. The reality is that few women are that fit and good looking and those that are bounce around from person to person until they are too old or already married. Atraditional western values have women preoccupied with being men (or the same as them) without preserving classic, traditional, feminine qualities — the ones that men want.

    • A mail-order bride might be the answer for you then. Or hold out a few more years for the mail-order sexbots.

      • Blech, both concepts are really disgusting. Mail-order brides is a system rife with abuse and way too close to human trafficking for ethical and legal comfort. It should be outlawed. Some mail-order relationships might work out but the idea of buying a woman is so utterly evil that I can't support it all. It suggests slavery and slightly less bad the commercialization of romantic love and sex, which is something that I can't tolerate. Love and sex should not be commodities that could be brought in cash or kind. They should be gifts given freely to a person you want to receive them. To turn love and sex into product that can be traded is just simply wrong.

        Sex-bots are worse because they represent the ultimate commodification of love and sex. Too many people, especially men, would not longer strive to improve themselves if sex-bots existed. They'd save up and buy a sex-bot or maybe more than one if they are inclined towards polyamory. When they got tired with one model, they would exchange it for another. A significant portion of women would do the same. But can sex-pots provide the companionship and emotional support than a flesh and blood human can? Why not take a human mate in all their messiness? I want a companion and help-mate, somebody to support and support me.

        • Dude I'm not endorsing this shit. I was basically saying that for this guy to get what he wants he'll need to forget real, live women who have a choice in the matter. He sounds like the kind of creep who would do one of the above.

          • I know, I just wanted to expound on my thoughts on the matter.

          • Commonly known as X says:

            Actually, I wish sexbots were around because it would keep creeps and MRA's away from real people. If they must objectify, give them objects. How much better of would it be if this guy could get a robot to give him a handjob and a sammich rather than pestering us because we don't want to do it.

          • I'm with CommonlyX; I think sexbots would help prevent a lot of people from being physically abused (I'm not talking BDSM here, I'm talking actual abuse), it would make it possible for those who are utterly unable to connect with the person of sexual preference to have some alternative to abject loneliness with minimal or no sexual outlet, and it would make it possible for the utterly offensive (hi, Palamas!) to get exactly what they want without annoying the rest of us.

    • These "classic," "traditional," "feminine" qualities are nothing of the sort. They are race, class, region, and time dependent. Most of them are fictive notions emerging out of bourgeois culture in the mid 19th-Century and given a special fantasy land spin in the US in the post-War era. They are not natural, they are not traditional, they are certainly not the values that all men want. Most historical farmers, for example, wouldn't want the wilting flower you are talking about because they would not be useful on the farm.

      Anyway, in a post upthread I noted that one of the problems men have with dating women is that they don't like them or respect them…this post is one of the things I'm talking about. And sadly, attitudes like this make it difficult for all men and women.

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      yeah, yeah, there are no good women any more, Feminazism ruined everything FOR EVAR, blah blah, blah…

      So, when are you gonna man up and take responsibility for your love life, hmmm? Or are you content to keep hiding behind Feminism's straw business culottes?

    • Do not feed the troll.

  15. I am writing to apologize for the whiny nature of many of my posts on this thread and the past few previous threads. There are issues that I'm working out right now, something that is happening in my romantic life is frustrating, puzzling, and wonderful at the same time. It could work out well but would require a tremendous amount of care on my part. It could also end disastrously without this. I should not be using this blog as a source of therapy.

    • Your post is mysterious! No need to explain, I'll just say, I wish you luck on whatever is happening in your romantic life right now. Relax and enjoy yourself. Trust your deep instincts. Be open and aware. (Yes, my mother was a hippy, but her advice never steered me wrong).

  16. NomnomChompsky says:

    Are we to take "outward signs of physical health" as a euphemism for "don't be fat/obese for christ's sake?" It just kind of seems like that.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      No, it's “Do you look like you're healthy enough and physically able to father/birth children who could survive long enough to reproduce as well”.

      • NomnomChompsky says:

        That is good clarification. I think a lot of the time that kind of capability really comes through in personality as well. I have a very close friend who was born with deformities that left him wheelchair bound, and outwardly while a lot of people would think of him as incapable of doing a lot of things he proves them dead wrong. He's a super stand up guy and he's happily married with children now. You're most definitely not wrong when you talk about how varied people are in what they desire in another person.

    • "outward signs of physical health" is time, class, location, culture dependent. There have been times/places where if a man were fat/obese that was a desirable sign of wealth, power, and health.

      There are men who count as obese who are very, very fit.
      There are men who are very skinny who are very, very physically unhealthy.

      But to those guys who consider themselves fat/obese–are you happy to date women who you consider fat/obese? Or do you have a double standard?

      • NomnomChompsky says:

        I have met men with that double standard, but I have never really understood them. I'm a bigger dude but I've dated a range of girls of all sizes. Doesn't really bother me.

    • While it would be nice to say "That doesn't matter!", the truth is it really does. Not that you need to have an ideal BMI or anything, but a lot fewer women are into chubby guys than are into normal/skinny/ripped guys. You have a limited potential pool of mates if you are seriously overweight.

      • I think that's true for People in general not just guys. Do you think chubby women have it easier? Personally, I'm lucky to be chubby with in a proportionate way, and in the fat-acceptance community I would be considered body-privileged. But there are plenty of chubby women who have small breasts or no butts, or carry their weight disproportionally that suffer just as much if not much more than chubby guys.

  17. psychsage says:

    Shoulders? Shoulders are attractive now? What kind of shoulders, will men wearing tube tops be as sexy as women wearing V-necks? Is there a non-humorous response to this news.

    • It's only news if you're not female :-)

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      relax, you can keep wearing your V-neck – I think it has to do with general shape (no obvious signs of illness/ general health) and posture (again, health – both physical and mental).

      Plus, it gives us a tip-off as to whether you excessively masturbate or not :P (sorry, couldn't resist).

  18. A guy who used PUA to manipulate women with daddy issues into having sex with him talks about respecting women…

    • Wow, that sounds personal.

      • Well, think about it. The moral of the story that eventually lead him to make this site seems to be "learn to manipulate people and press their buttons and you'll get what you want."

        • Really? Because my experience of this site is someone who has tried a lot of different things in the dating realm, and now is trying to help people succeed in having successful, healthy, realistic and mutually-respectful dating lives. While I may disagree with allowing PUA tactics into the conversation at all, when he cites them, it seems to be largely in terms of increasing confidence ("don't be discouraged by rejection") and not in terms of cheap manipulation ("do these things to lower a woman's self-confidence and then she'll sleep with you").

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Just out of curiosity Del, have you ever read Clarisse Thorn's Confessions of a Pick Up Artist Chaser? I think you might find it interesting; she takes a look at PUA culture and tactics from a feminist's perspective. Short version: shit be complicated, lots of PUA tactics are sketchy as all hell, but there IS some stuff in there that's actually good. I think you might find it interesting as a subject for debate.

          • No, but it certainly does sound interesting. My experience with PUA tactics is largely limited to dealing with guys who are annoying me by attempting to use them on me. <wry>

  19. Vegetta00 says:

    Great advice, Doc. But… there is no patriarchy. Never has been. When you say that we should let women know we understand their plight of gender equality, what the advice should be is that we should let women know we recognize their female privelage without actually saying it in that way. It sounds bad to say it, but if a man wants to be more attractive to a woman, he should pretend to recognize her selective victimhood as legitimate. Actually scratch that. You can show a woman legitimate respect without appealing to her fantasy of a feminist man. Patriarchy, afterall, is an illusion created by feminist theory. You should not encourage it anymore than you should encourage religion. i.e. Don`t pretend to be a christian just to get into her panties.

    • x_Sanguine_8 says:

      but Vegetta00 – Trix are for kiiiiiids…

      (pulls out comb to work on troll's shock of fluffy bright pink hair)

    • HAHAHAHAHAA!! oh God, I have to laugh myself sick now. an ILLUSION, hahaha!! oh how silly we've been all these years because of COURSE we have women presidents, and equal pay and don't have to worry about walking alone in public and- oh, wait.

    • Vegetta my dear, you're either a troll or an idiot (I had such better words to use there but I don't want mess up the good doctor's comment feed with my spewing of profanities) Whether you are a troll or an idiot doesn't matter to me, just knock it the hell off, no one thinks you're funny, educate yourself.
      If I was selecting what I was a victim of or from it certainly wouldn't stem from my gender, there are so many better things to choose from and I'm pretty sure there isn't a meeting where all women get together and decide what problems we're going to say we have, maybe my invite got lost in the mail.
      I also hate the term "feminist man" a feminist is a gender neutral term you can be a feminist if you're a dude just as easy as you can be a misogynist girl.

    • Don't feed this troll.

  20. Anonymoose says:

    So how does one find a passion? I have things I like and get excited about, but I'm not sure it's the same kind of thing you're talking about…

    • Passion comes from being open. It comes from not being afraid of being disappointed.

      Showing passion comes from not being afraid of what people might think of you. One of the things you see a lot with teenagers is that they're so afraid of being vulnerable, so afraid that someone might think they're not cool, that they tend to downplay the things they care deeply about. ("Yeah, I go horseback riding. It's not that big of a deal, just something I do. I compete and stuff. Y'know, it looks good on my college applications.") Unless they're sure that the people they're talking to won't think the thing they like is stupid, they'll act like it's not that important so they don't lose face if other people make fun of it. If you don't care that much about anything, no one can hurt you.

      Ironically, passion is one of the things that will make you a successful, charismatic adult.

      If there's nothing in life you're really enthusiastic about, keep looking. What gives you a flow experience? What do you like thinking about?

      • Anonymoose says:

        If "flow experience" means getting a rush, most of mine come from seeing well-done story-telling with good characters come together perfectly. I could pull out a bunch of examples of what's done right and wrong in things I've watched and read (One Piece is going to be one of the greatest works of fiction in human history, Pro Wrestling has destroyed so many good things that the few great things it manages to produce just aren't worth it anymore), but it's a passive passion. Doc's seems more like a life calling or a fixation on a specific goal or a career instead of thinking a lot about why Greg Rucka's Punisher is way too good to be lumped in with most other superhero comics (Rachel Cole-Alves is the best original female character mainstream comics has produced in decades) or how much I love Daredevil or whatnot.

        • Commonly known as X says:

          Actually on most of the posts here the things that are used to describe a geek or a nerd is passive consumption – Doc talks about liking comics or games or sci-fi shows. I kind of like the old fashioned version of Geeks as sciency/engineering types, and thats more where I come from myself, but hey, language changes. I think as long as you can talk intelligently about your interests (and more importantly, listen and talk intelligently about the other person's interests) you are showing some passion and intellectual curiosity.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            This. If you're genuinely interested in something, it shows when you talk about it. I used the examples elsewhere of art history, old English literature and philosophy. Those are "passive" fields in that they're studied, not created. That applies just as well to anime, sci-fi movies, 80's hair bands and the like. If you can seriously discuss the literary contributions of Pro Wrestling (to use your own example), you've got a kinda nerdy, kinda goofy topic that you can bring up to pretty much anyone with an interest in any form of entertainment. The trick is in not feeling like a social outcast for having that interest.

            Example (said in that light, not entirely serious tone):
            I watch Survivor. Its kind of a guilty pleasure, I know. But if you imagine its a National Geographic show about primates, it makes it SO much more fun. Every episode is all about who can be the biggest chimp on the island. (If its working, make some ook ook noises and say in your best Planet Of The Apes Voice "Me have immunity idol. Bow before me puny apes!")

        • I second what X said about that talking and listening intelligently is an important element. If you have enthusiasm for a topic, and it comes across in your voice and body language, people see that as passion. And I'd argue that a love for stories is not really passive, not if you're engaging with the story and thinking about it. As a reader or viewer, you're also a participant–you help construct the story's meaning by figuring out what it means to you, which you can then discuss with other people while finding out how they related to that same story.

          As a writer, I've found it a very humbling experience to see reviews of my books, and realize how seldom anyone reads a book exactly the way I intended it to be read. A whole lot of the story happens not on the page but in the reader's (or viewer's) head. Everyone brings their own preferences and biases and past experiences and associates, which can result in noticing and appreciating (or disliking) totally different elements… It's fascinating. And it means there's always a lot to talk about!

  21. This is absolutely brilliant.

    Yes, we want a guy with passions, interests, etc. Someone who's driven. It's why we like musicians, artists, writers, etc– they're people with an idea in their head, and they've just *got* to get it out there with some kind of creative expression.

  22. Nothing is more attractive in a guy than a genuine interest in feminism.

  23. THIS IS GREAT INDEED,, ATLEAST I CAN TELL I GOT THE LOOKS,, BUT NEED TO IMPROVE ON THEM DAY AFTER DAY,, WAOOW.

  24. Schrodinger cat says:

    LeeEsq, I can certainly relate to your experiences. I'm a man, 5'3". And, based on my experiences, a huge proportion of the women out there would never consider going out with me. Most women find me interesting, intelligent, funny (in a nerdy kind of way), kind and passionate. I'm pretty accomplished (PhD in physics, work as a "rocket scientist" and am one of the leading authorities in my field, one of the best chess players in the country), go to the gym 5 days a week (so I am in pretty good shape), and I am a pretty good salsa dancer as well (I've danced with several former world champions, and always left them with a smile on their face), and am pretty chivalrous (I'm the only guy I know that has put himself between an armed gunman and his date). But my dating life sucks, and it always has. I tried online dating; only one date resulted and, after meeting, she left within 2 minutes and said "I'm sorry, I didn't realize how short 5'3" is". I tried an Asian dating service (thinking that Asian women are shorter than average, and thus might be more interested in shorter men). I ended up meeting one young lady through the service; upon first meeting, her first words to me were "you're so short!" (which she repeated 4 more times on our very brief date). Within the salsa scene, I can say that women love dancing with me, and often tell me that I'm one of the best leaders they've ever danced with; I've gotten well over 300 phone numbers, not one of which has ever led to anything serious, as they tend to think I'm fun to dance with, but not dating material. But I have had the fortune to date a very few wonderful women (so I know they are out there)… I'd say it's all a numbers game. There's nothing you can say or do to change the way women feel about short men (here's a great article on the subject: http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/artic… ) . All I can say is that being a short man means that you're just going to have try harder. You've basically got 2 choices: you can give up (which is no solution), or you're just going to have to ask out 10x as many women as most other men.

  25. Well William – i feel your pain although to lesser extent due to a higher success rate (zero is not hard to beat). /Although I would not recommend it if you have an addictive personality but alcohol (somewhat controlled) helps a lot – rejections are almost painless and your success rate will go up and .. you will know you can do it – next challenge do it sober.

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