How To Get What You Want in Dating

I want to talk to you a little about the idea of success and dating.

There is no one definition of success when it comes to a person’s love life. We all come into this with completely different goals, goals that may well change over time. One person’s definition may be to fulfill his desire to be the king playboy of his social scene. Some may want a life of polyamory or a few friends-with-benefits arrangements while another may want to find the love of his life, settle down and raise a family with 2.5 kids, 1.8 cars and the white picket fence.

Some people want to live in a letter to Penthouse Forums.

But while the definitions of success in dating may vary, there’s one thread that runs through it all: it’s about having standards. Nobody found everlasting happiness by saying “Well, I guess I’ll take what I can get”.

You need to know what you want… and more importantly, you have to know how to get it.

It’s About More Than Looks

One of my eternal pet peeves about the dating scene is the idea of rating people on a numeric scale; by reducing someone to a point-scale you’re dehumanizing them and reducing their value to how society will view them as an ornamental object. It ignores all of the other aspects about them – personality, interests, life’s goals and ambitions, whether they’re a good person – and focuses on a subjective value. You’re not interested in a person so much as you are in bragging rights. It also becomes a way of justifying a lack in other areas; sure she may make you miserable, but c’mon man, she’s a 10! You gotta put up with that shit because she’s someone you’re dating who makes your friends insanely jealous!

It’s also a great way to make yourself miserable.

No matter how attractive someone is, it takes more than looks to make for a relationship that’s going to last longer than however long you need to get your rocks off.

Speaking from experience, even if all you’re looking for is an hour or two of squishy noises with out any of those pesky “relationship” strings attached, you still need to be able to talk to whomever you’ve just gone to bed with if you want to avoid doing the real walk of shame.

 But on the whole, a relationship that’s going to work requires a deeper level of attraction and connection than “God she’s got a GREAT ASS!“.

To be fair, I’ve probably dated a few women just because they made my friends make this face…

A relationship that works – one that you can be proud of – is more than just sexual attraction. It’s about how their personality meshes and compliments yours. It’s about their interests; they may not be a nerd, but they might well be nerd-curious. It’s about a complimentary lifestyle and outlook; a homebody with no intellectual curiosity isn’t going to work well with a voracious reader with a spirit of adventure and a drive to visit far-off lands.

It’s all about how you relate to one another, about whether or not they’re cool enough and awesome enough to hang with you.

What Do You Want In a Relationship?

Before continuing with the rest of this article, I want you to indulge me. Take some time and draw up a list of ten to twenty non-physical aspects of what you would want in a romantic partner. These can be anything: a love of music, a passion for culture, someone who likes to get stoned and watch movies… but they have to be non-physical qualities. No “She must have double-d breasts” or “he has to be at least six feet tall and able to breathe through his ears”.

Take this seriously; these are the “must haves” and “should haves” that would make someone more compatible with you. While it’s tempting to make joking statements like “must be able to suck a golf-ball through a garden hose”, you should think about sexual compatibility; after all, it’s an incredibly important part of a relationship and something as simple as mismatched libidos can be a recipe for heartbreak.

These are going to be aspects you care about; the more you care about them, the more important it is to list them and even more important that you learn to screen for them.

Adopting A Screening Frame

When you’re looking for a partner-in-crime, you want someone who measures up to your expectations of what you want. You want someone who impresses you, who’s qualifications meet or exceed your standards for a relationship. Sure, you’d like them to like you… but it’s just as important that they prove that they’re worth your time. If you’re money and you know you’re money, you want someone who is equally awesome.

“I have my standards. They’re low… but I have them!”

Screening your dates means that you’re looking for someone who works with you, someone who has the attributes you want1 . You don’t want to just grope around blindly2 and hope to get lucky3 – you want to be actively looking for those specific characteristics.

Online dating is a great resource when it comes to screening for particular qualities; if you’re a nerd looking for a fellow nerd, scanning dating profiles is a great way to get a quick read about whether someone might be worth getting to know. But what about when you meet in person? You don’t just want to start grilling them for information.

Whether you’re meeting via OKCupid or you met at the holiday party, you want to be searching for the aspects that you want in a partner without treating it like an interrogation.

This is why qualification is such a valuable tool.

“What Do You Have Going For You Besides Your Looks?”

Qualification is an important part of finding the relationship you want. When you’re looking for someone who’s awesome in all the ways you want in a potential romantic partner, you don’t want to treat getting to know them like a job interview.

“So it says here that you claim to be especially giving as a lover. Now, obviously as much as we would like to, we can’t just take you at your word. Could you provide us with some references?”

Using qualification is a great way to learn about someone. You’re asking them to explain to you just why they’re awesome… and then using that as an opportunity to reward them (as it were) for being awesome. This helps create a positive feedback loop that helps generate attraction for both sides; you’re finding out what this person has going for them in their lives and they’re being told that yes, that does make them cool.

You want to use low-investment open-ended questions as a way of starting the conversation: “What do you like to do for fun?” for example, is fairly low investment; you’re not asking someone to justify their existence, just to tell you a little bit more about themselves. “What do you have going for you besides your looks”, on the other hand, is pretty damned high-investment; by asking a question like this, you’re explicitly saying “Impress me with something personal about you.” Someone who’s very attracted to you, who has invested more of herself in the interaction will be more likely to respond; someone who is – theoretically – still vetting and being vetted is far less likely to respond at all, never mind taking it seriously.

The benefit of using open-ended questions means that you can direct the conversation towards the areas that you find most important in a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. If you’re interested in the arts for example, you can start by asking “Are you creative?” or “Who’s your favorite painter?”, or “Do you ever listen to opera?”  then take that answer and build on it. “Oh man, I love people who are really into culture; I always feel like that people get so caught up in TV and movies that they forget how amazing theater is” or “That’s so cool. Art’s something I’m really passionate about. I can just lose myself in museum or gallery for hours. What draws you to painting/sculpture/bronze-working?” You now have a topic you can both riff on – how great live theater is or opera vs. symphonies or painting vs. sculpture, Neo-classical vs. Impressionist, whatever – before moving on to another qualifying question like “Are you adventurous?” or “What are you passionate about?”

The great thing about qualifying as a dating tool is that not only is it a good way to screen for compatibility with a potential partner-in-crime, but also as a way of building attraction and rapport quickly. After all, you’re finding all of these commonalities – presumably ones that you’re passionate about – that you share. It also helps justify your attraction to them; when you’re reaffirming that yes, their love of $COOL_THING makes them cool, you’re establishing that you are interested in them for more than just superficial reasons (such as “amazing tits” or “great ass”).

In addition, the use of qualification helps weed out the undesirables earlier; if you’re a travelling type, you’d want to know whether or not the two of you are going to be jetting off to exotic vacations and sun-drenched foreign coasts. By asking qualification questions – “Do you love to travel,” you use your time much more efficiently; better to find out that no, they hate travelling in the early, “getting-to-know-you” stages than to be six months in and getting bushwacked as you try to plan a romantic get-away.

The Soft Bigotry of Low Standards

When you’re socially inexperienced or have been rejected over and over again, it can be difficult to feel as though you should expect anything. There are many people – even in the comments on this blog – who feel so desperate for a relationship that their attitude is “I’ll take whatever I can get.”

It’s understandable how one might start to feel this way. Hell, felt this way, back in the bad old days. When you feel as though you’ve been beaten down enough times, it’s natural to think “I want someone, anyone.” Unfortunately, this very same attitude ends up being part of what is holding you back from dating success.

The problem with this idea – that you’re so desperate for a relationship that you’ll take anyone – is that the people holding on to it often don’t understand what they’re really saying. You may think that you’re just saying you’re open to finding love anywhere, even if it isn’t the Disney-esque happy ending with cartoon birds singing you off into the sunset while blind cherubs floating around shooting people with arrow… which is, to an extent, fairly admirable. Unfortunately, however, that’s not what the rest of the world hears. The rest of the world hears “I have given up and want someone to take pity on me.” The feeling of desperation radiates off of you in waves, projecting your need for validation and lack of self-confidence to everyone around you. It doesn’t read as openness, it reads as neediness and neediness is the opposite of sex. It is the Anti-Sex Equation.

“Why yes, your abject begging has melted my cold heart! I’d love to date you!” said nobody ever.

If you’ve sunk so low that you’re reduced to wadding up your dignity and tossing it aside in the name of finding someone to date, why would someone want to date you? After all, you’re advertising that you don’t believe you have anything to offer… so what incentive is there for others to take an interest?

Moreover, you need to think about what this says to the people you do try to date: that you don’t care about them, so much as what they represent. They’re not a person, they’re a warm body that you can use to plug the hole labeled “relationship”. Nobody likes feeling as though they’re the booby prize in the dating game.

“Oh, well fuck you too, sir!”

In declaring that you would take “anyone”, you are telling the person you would date that they have no qualities that you find attractive; the only thing they have going for them is that they happened to say “yes”.

Hopefully, you might see why this is an attitude that isn’t conducive to romance.

Of course, having just said that…

Settling Down Means Settling For

It’s important to realize that nobody is perfect; nobody is going to match up 100% with your list of must-have qualities, nor does anyone get 100% of what they want in a relationship. There is no “The One” out there, just a lot of “The .75″s and “The .81″s that you round up to The One.

I realize it can be a hard mental shift after I’ve just finished explaining that having standards is important and finding people who meet them is a key to a lasting relationship. But you have to rememberthat it’s entirely possible to have standards that are too high or to have expectations that are out of the bounds of reasonability. It’s a bad thing to have no standards, but it’s just as bad when you’re letting the idea of “perfect” keep you from the reality of “pretty damn good”.

One issue I’ve seen on more than one occasion are people – women and men – who have a list of “must haves” so long that reach the point of impossibility; the only way to a person could actually match those expectations is to be fictional.

…which has it’s own issues.

This is why I recommend keeping the list of desired qualities comparatively short; once you get past a certain threshold, you no longer carrying around a list of “must-haves”, you’re carrying a list of why you’re still single.

The fact of the matter is though, that while you may not get 100% of what you want, that 60, 70, even 80%? It’s pretty damn amazing.

And well worth holding out for.



  1. not just those… now get your mind out of the gutter. []
  2. Stop it! []
  3. OK, I walked into that one. []

  • The converse of this is to know what you bring to the table, too! If you don't consider yourself much of a catch, it means you expect any woman willing to show interest in you has abysmally low standards – and thus isn't really worth pursuing because she can't possibly *really* be interested in you. You assume she'd walk out the moment she actually found an alternative.

    Women (outside the party girl scene) rarely do the 1-10 attractiveness scale thing for guys. We're just as likely to be impressed by looks as guys are, but we rarely compress our judgement down to one dimension quite the same way. A great sense of humor, enthusiasm about a hobby which can be shared, etc. go a long way toward balancing out looks if you're not a "10."

    • Paul Rivers

      Yeah, but to be fair, the girl almost always has the role of "the person being pursued", which gives her a lot more latitude to have a larger list of criteria. Because she can take a more passive role, sitting back and waiting to see if he fulfills her expectations is something she can afford to do, while the guy who has to do more of the pursuing cannot.

      I do not believe in any way that anywhere near the majority of guys "only" wants looks. Love looks? Yes, absolutely. But everyone I know who's actually gotten married always actually has more than just the 1 criteria…even my friends who are looking to just "get laid" have more than 1 criteria (looks and a sense of passion at least).

      But it's far worse for a guy who's doing the pursuing to have a complex set of standards, because he has to have a very low set of standards to start the pursuit.

      I guess that's not to say you can't have more standards as you go on, but I've tried having more standards myself, and – it's a disaster. You've got two people with a long list of standards – and things never go anywhere. I've simply found that while I want more than the simplistic handful – visually attractive, sense of passion, some sort of common interest – it always followed the same pattern:
      1. I would meet the girl, often social dancing
      2. She would be rather reserved, and be hesitant to give out her facebook or phone number (back in the day people were more hesitant with their facebook info than they are now)
      3. I wouldn't aggressively pursue her because she hadn't met my standards
      4. After a few times, she would finally show up and be friendly, outgoing, I'd learn a lot about her, I'd want to ask her out – and she would introduce me to her boyfriend, a guy she also met at dancing 1-2 weeks ago. A guy who pursued her for reasons no more complex than she was cute, and he felt interested in her.

      Now might this guy have had additional standards after they started dating? Sure. But it didn't matter any more, because she was *already dating* the other guy, they would never break up, and eventually they'd get married. Sometimes she'd even mention later than she had been interested in me, but I "didn't seem as interested" in her as this other guy.

      • Mel

        But in your example, the problem wasn't that the girl wasn't meeting your "too many" standards, it's that you hadn't taken the time to find out whether she did before you decided you wouldn't pursue her (since, after all, it turned out she did meet them once she'd opened up more). I don't think DNL's saying "don't start to pursue people who don't meet your standards"–he points out that you have to pursue the person at least a little to find out enough about them to know if they're a good match for you. That sounds to me like "pursue the other person until the point where you find out there's a problem", which he's saying is better than "pursue the other person as long as they keep encouraging you to, regardless of anything else about them".

        • Paul Rivers

          No, that's incorrect. I didn't decide "not" to pursue, I just didn't pursue her as vigorously, which she decided meant that I wasn't that interested. Since she's playing the "you seem interested in me, so I'm oh so busy and unavailable…" game, less vigorous pursuit of her doesn't go anywhere except staying friendly acquaintances with her.

          At the beginning of the article he suggest drawing up 20 non-physical criteria…I don't think the article specifically says where to apply those criteria, but I'm saying if you apply them upfront you're not going to get anywhere.

          • Mel

            Okay, so you decided to pursue her less vigorously. You still decided that *before* you knew whether she met your standards, simply because she didn't tell you everything about herself immediately. (Unless your main standard was, "is totally open about herself the first time we talk".) If everything you did know about her was attractive, and you hadn't hit on any dealbreakers, why would you pull back your pursuit?

            And did you read the entire article? Right after the suggestion to draw up a list, he discusses at length how to find out whether people meet those criteria–by checking their dating profiles if online, by asking qualifying questions, etc. If one of your criteria is, say, "loves traveling" or "is passionate about something", how could you possibly apply that criteria upfront before you've had a chance to talk to them and ask about traveling or passions? This is common sense.

          • Paul Rivers

            On the first one, are you saying that you pursue someone vigorously and passionately – then when they fail one of your criteria drop them like a rock? Because that was something I just felt like I was being a jerk to do. I dunno…in retrospect, maybe that's what women expect, if I knew that's what she was expecting I wouldn't feel bad about it.

            On the second one, I have tried a lot of those things and have not found them very useful, at least as the guy. Reading a persons online dating profile is like reading a car ad in it's usefulness – you might get a general sense of if they're the general model you're looking for, but no useful information beyond that.

            I'll use your criteria – which I agreed was useful criteria rather than arbitrary stuff that didn't matter – from another comment to illustrate –

            "Respectful (of me and other people)"
            "Genuinely encourages me in my endeavors"
            "Confident enough to get by without frequent reassurance"
            "Able to make plans at least a few days in advance"

            These aren't things that you can figure out from a profile. These aren't even things that are difficult to hide in person, if they think that they "should" be hiding them. These are things that you have to spend some time with the person to figure out.

            I guess having, written all that, I don't really see your point…I said that if you draw up 20 criteria and apply them upfront you're not going to get anywhere – in my experience, and from the experience of other guys I know. You asked me if I "read the entire article" where it discusses how to find out – that's not my point. My point is that it's not useful to find out upfront. I haven't seen "I like travelling to!" actually be any indicator of whether people's relationships work out or not, and as the guy who's doing the pursing it just makes it more difficult to get to the point in dating where you can find out the things that do actually matter for your relationship.

            As I said, this advice does not necessarily apply to the woman – or more accurately, whoever's doing more of the "being pursued" role (which is not *always* the woman, but usually is, whether I like that or not).

          • eselle28

            I guess I don't see what the quarrel is here. No, you can't assess whether someone meets all your requirements before asking them out. Aside from your example of all of them women being scooped up before you could act, there are simply some things that take time to assess.

            In my case, an online dating profile lets me find men around my own age, who live within a reasonable distance, don't have children, aren't so religious as to talk about the Bible or their relationship with God in their profile, can write reasonably well, and show some interest in learning or intellectual subjects or geeky fandoms. (I will say that while travel isn't a must have, I am looking for someone who's interested in seeking out new experiences, and some combination of "doesn't like to travel" and "picky eater" can signal the opposite).

            If someone meets those standards, we can meet in person and I can see about some of the other standards. Some things, like "open-minded and giving when it comes to sex" can't really be assessed until you know someone fairly well.

          • Ainuvande

            It's very possible that once you backed off she didn't think of you that way anymore. Remember, she's not psychic. She turned you down once, you took it well and backed off, becoming a random acquaintance. Some other guy came up to her and did get her information. So she went on a date with him, and it turned out they had a lot in common. Or it could be that you got turned down because she was busy figuring out how to pursue him. In any case, assuming that he's asking her out just on the basis of cute and that they didn't have an acquaintance before dating is a silly assumption to make.

          • Paul Rivers

            What? Are we going into "you can never know anything so don't even try" territory here?

            This happened to me multiple and repeated times, and as I said sometimes the girl would even tell me later that she had been interested in me. I'll take my own experience with this stuff over "wishful thinking" reasoning – especially stuff that I actually watched other people try and fail with – any day.

            And to reiterate, I didn't say "don't have standards", I said that the pursuer (usually the guy) doesn't have the room to have a lot of filtering criteria and standards – as it's been my experience that when guys do that things usually don't go anywhere.

          • Ainuvande

            Actually, I was thinking the opposite. "You never know, so why not find out?"

            After all, if you ask someone out and then it turns out that they aren't what you want in a girlfriend, you are a) only out one evening, b) have learned something about her and yourself, c) have possibly gained a fun story for later in life. So go for it. One date doesn't marry you to her, and the worst case scenario isn't all that bad.

          • Camelopardalis

            "I just didn't pursue her as vigorously, which she decided meant that I wasn't that interested. Since she's playing the 'you seem interested in me, so I'm oh so busy and unavailable…' "

            I believe I have suddenly discovered the source of your defensiveness. You make logical leaps that simply do not follow. Why exactly would you think a woman is playing any sort of game that starts with "you seem interested in me" when you have back off pursuing her? Why exactly do you think that retreating sends a message of "I'm interested"? And why do you assume that because she is busy and unavailable that she is playing a game? Maybe she really is busy and unavailable. Maybe for a guy with whom there was MUTUAL interest, and who SHOWED that interest, maybe by even continuing to pursue her, she would be willing to work something out with her schedule? Clearly she is willing to work things out since she is dating someone.

            Guys who hang around hoping that their presence is enough to show how much they like a girl and get all sad sack when she dates someone else are known as Nice Guys. Nobody likes Nice Guys. And stop using the dance scene as your personal dating pool. Girls can spot that, and it's fucking creepy.

          • Astral

            I'm going to offer another perspective, as a woman who has taken a couple years off the dating scene after dealing with a few different types of bad situations in a rather short period. I would like to get back into it now that I've done some healing, re-evaluated my standards, and gotten my confidence back. There are good reasons I am reserved and stand-offish in various situations, even if I might be potentially interested.

            So, I was recently in a variation of this scenario. Guy from a professional circle I've intentionally been reserved with (need some good boundaries and don't want to drama up my professional world) but have had a couple of awesome conversations with proposed a social hang out. I don't know if it's romantic, but he's dropped the "are you married? kids? age?" questions. My immediate reaction was along the "I'm oh so busy with little availability" lines. But it's not a game; it's true right now, and being careful is also really important to me. My reply left things open but may well have sounded like a thanks, no thanks. He was gracious. It took me all of a few minutes to get that "WTF? I haven't had such good conversation and felt so tingly in a couple of years and I want our conversations to last longer, so what exactly am I protecting or avoiding here" feeling. Luckily he is not reserved and standoffish, so I felt comfortable enough later to be able to come back and offer a specific plan and escalate flirting. Which now might seem like mixed signals, but I still don't really know his intentions either. In any event, there will an opportunity for better getting to know one another. He didn't need to pursue me after I was ambivalent (if he is indeed pursuing me); it was helpful, though, that he remained genuinely warm and respectful and showed the lines of communication were still open.

      • Tosca

        "Yeah, but to be fair, the girl almost always has the role of "the person being pursued", which gives her a lot more latitude to have a larger list of criteria. Because she can take a more passive role, sitting back and waiting to see if he fulfills her expectations is something she can afford to do, while the guy who has to do more of the pursuing cannot"

        This isn't entirely true. The pursuer gets more concrete Accepts/Rejects, but at least he can DO something about it. An unattractive woman, or even just an average woman, has faaaaar fewer "pursuers" than her attractive sisters. The less attractive she is, the less likely the pursuers are quality or even really serious. (Like the drunk guy who hits on the fat woman because she looks desperate, but would never admit to his buddies he bedded her. That's not very quality attention from her perspective.) So she'll just sit there, for months or even years, getting no "hits" worth her time, and due to social rules she just has to sit and wait.

        I don't know about anyone else, but even taking into account the sting of rejections, I'd rather be PROactive than REactive. Reactive sucks and means you are at the mercy of whoever bothers to show you attention.

        Obviously, I hate these social rules and advocate for women to pursue. If I were single, I'd pursue, and in fact I DID pursue my husband. But guys have to be open to this and not view it as off-putting or "aggressive" when women do pursue.

        • Paul Rivers

          "An unattractive woman, or even just an average woman, has faaaaar fewer "pursuers" than her attractive sisters."

          I didn't mention that because that's another topic, but I agree with you completely. Often in discussions about what "women" do, what's really meant is what "visually attractive women". It's a similar thing with men (as in it's often not as much about looks, but when a girl say "men act like this" they usually mean "men I'm attracted to act like this").

          "I don't know about anyone else, but even taking into account the sting of rejections, I'd rather be PROactive than REactive. Reactive sucks and means you are at the mercy of whoever bothers to show you attention."

          I'm discussing what I see in the real world, not what I *want* to happen – I love a girl (I find attractive) taking action to pursue me, and even if I'm not attracted to them I'm certainly not offended or anything.

          I think your feeling on it is *fantastic* – it's just a real rarity among the real-world women that I've known. I've known many who have felt they wanted to, but when they tried it and they got rejected or it got complicated they usually gave it up.

          As a guy, the biggest problem is that:
          1. Women's idea of "pursuing" is often so obscure I'm not even aware of it
          2. When it's more obvious, it's still not obvious. I cannot tell you the number of times that women who are "clearly" pursuing me are actually just enjoying flirty attention. Let's say there's 3 girls who seem interested in me, and you could rate their apparent level of interest at 1, 2, and 3 – I now force myself to pursue the girl who's level of interest is at a 2 and not pursue the 3.

          Because while I *want* to go with the 3 – because while the 3 is the *most interesting* – EVERY TIME it turns out that she's married, in a long term relationship, etc etc. As part of a social dance scene, and having travelled, it has been without a single exception that the girl with the highest level of apparent interest is never actually single and available.

          I was going to say that a girl has never actually *said* that she was interested in me, or crossed the physical boundary herself first, but there was one single time – a girl who it later turned out (that night) who had a boyfriend but liked to screw around with other guys on the side…

          So I totally agree that it's ridiculously complicated, like you said…

          • Commonly known as X

            Well, that girl who crossed the boundary first could be me! Women who approach are going to be the ones who are less into traditional gender roles, pretty sex-positive and accepting of being seen as slutty and are more likely to be in an open relationship than the general population. As long as she was open about her boyfriend, that is a limitation you decided on, and thats well within your rights. It doesn't cancel out the fact she did approach.

          • Paul Rivers

            Well first, in my opinion it still wouldn't count because even in an open relationship – in my very limited experience – people usually have a "primary" significant other, then there's the other people they're dating. If she was single but into open relationships that would count, but being the secondary guy is a different situation – it still goes to my point that "single" girls have never actually said something.

            Second, had she been in an open relationship I would have used more respectful terminology than "screw around with other guys". Later when her boyfriend found out what she was doing he broke up with her and was pretty pissed off. Or so I was told through mutual friends.

          • Mel

            I think the reason many women who "pursue" do so subtly and won't overtly ask the guy out or whatever, is that there are different ideas of what constitutes an interested response from a man and from a woman, because in our society it is considered much more standard that a guy will go after a woman he's interested in.

            When a guy goes up to a woman, he's not going to ask her out immediately either–he chats her up, checks out her body language, sees if she seems to be enjoying the conversation. If she's giving signals that she's not interested (short answers, no smile, etc.), most guys stop there without continuing the pursuit in a more concrete way.

            When a woman decides to pursue a man, she's still often thinking in those terms. She wants to get his attention, to show she's interested in him by talking with him and smiling and so on, and she figures that once he's noticed her, if he's interested in her at all, he'll take the next step. If she goes over and flirts with him and he doesn't suggest spending more time together or ask for her phone number or whatever, to her that's a signal equivalent to the "short answers, no smile". She thinks, she's given him the signals that she's interested, he hasn't pursued that, so he must not be interested in more than the current conversation. She doesn't want to embarrass herself by pushing things further any more than the guy getting "short answers, no smile" wants to embarrass himself the same way.

            (Obviously this isn't true of all women or all men, nor is it ideal, I just think this is a dynamic that frequently comes into play in these situations.)

          • Not to mention, guys who are actively pursued by a woman almost always interpret that attention as "She wants sex with me!" – even if that's not what she's after. If a woman pursues a guy she must be a slut (in his mind) and therefore not worth dating – although he's often happy to string her along for long enough to hop in the sack. And if she does, it's Q.E.D!

          • Tosca

            I've gotten this from guys I've just been being friendly with. I'm not really very flirty by nature, but give certain guys ANY kind of friendly attention and they suddenly think you are hot for them! This happened mostly at work. Dude, I'm required by my job to be nice and polite to you. IT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING.

          • Paul Rivers

            I don't disagree with the social condition stuff and such, but another poster a while back said something that I've always thought – at the end of the day, almost no one really likes go through the process of the being the pursuer and risking rejection and humiliation. The difference is that women don't *have* to – a girl with attractive qualities will get asked out by *someone*, and even if those aren't exactly the guys she wants she often seems to find that preferable to going through the risk of humiliation.

            As Tosca points out, this does indeed create a system where the visually disadvantaged girls are even *more* disadvantaged, but that's another topic.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            I would agree that no one enjoys rejection. I'd dispute that its a big deal. I like going through the process of pursuer (here used in the very ballpark sense of "initiating conversations with the opposite sex) and while rejection isn't flattering its not crushing either. On balance I enjoy conversations with interesting people enough that I don't also need to get a date out of it. Its really not hard to slip "so, you seeing anyone?" and "no? Well I'm going to $COOL_THING Friday night if you want to come along" into a conservation and to keep right on going with the previous topic if it doesn't work.

          • Jess

            A thousand time, this! If a woman does pursue, at some point you have to expect her to back off to see if you are actually interested in her. It goes back to that scene in My Best Friend's Wedding. The gay friend is on the phone and says, "So, he's chasing her, and you're chasing him. Who is chasing you?"

            Guys have to show their interest by actively engaging and making things happen, or we think their interest is lukewarm at best and will bail as soon as he sees something better.

      • eselle28

        No one's saying you have to decide that someone meets all your standards before you ask them out. That's what first and second dates and, for a lot of people, the first few months of dating are for. The women you met who met their future husbands and had a whirlwind love affair are somewhat in the minority – most early dates end up teaching people they're not that compatible.

        Some sort of common interest, and lifestyles that at least seem to be compatible on the surface often are enough to justify a first date. That Doesn't mean that it's a good idea to go into dating with the idea that those things should be prized above all others (that goes for the non-looks things as well; lots of hipsters fall into the trap of forming relationships based on record collections and there are certainly women who never think long past "Oooh, he's a [fill in job here]). It also doesn't mean it's healthy to think about dating as just being a way to find a cute girl to…well, you'll get to that part and what else besides cute you might want after you find a cute girl who will go out with you.

        • Paul Rivers

          "No one's saying you have to decide that someone meets all your standards before you ask them out. "

          I don't think the article said that *wasn't* true either, but my post wasn't saying "I disagree with the article", my post was only saying "don't make a list of 20 things and put them up front if you're the pursuer (usually the guy)".

      • Thortok2000

        Steps 2 and 3 are your problem.

        Somewhere between you being interested in her, her being interested in you, her not willing to give out her contact information, you not 'aggressively pursuing her' (whatever that means), or whatever, something got bungled up.

        It has nothing to do with standards or lists and more of judging interest level, both of your perception of her interest in you and your judgement of how interested you are in her.

        "I talked to her a bit and wasn't interested, later I became more interested but she was already taken." That's basically what your story is saying. This isn't anyone's fault.

        This is where lists come in and help, though. Review why you weren't interested in her, what 'standards' were making you not so interested in 'aggressively pursuing' her. Check those standards for validity…are they superficial? When you later learned more about her, did you not really care about those standards? If so, your list could probably use some revision.

        Or were they valid standards? As in, later on you learned something differently than what you originally thought, and she wasn't disqualified by that standard anymore? If so, then you should work on your perception so you don't 'disqualify' someone when they haven't actually failed your standards yet.

        Point being, having 'standards' as a pursuer is just fine. It's a time-saver for one. I don't want to date a smoker for instance, if I see someone smoking, I'm not going to go up and have a conversation (or at least not one with an intent to communicate interest and get contact information, I'd probably still be willing to chat and socialize and maybe even practice flirting if I thought I could do so without communicating interest). If I find out they smoke in conversation after having already gone up, I'm no longer interested, and stop communicating interest. I'm not sure if that's the right reaction, it could give off mixed signals probably, but I don't know what else to do, that's a question for the Doc in my opinion.

        (This is for example purposes. In real life, any ONE thing is not enough to make me lose interest unless it's a dealbreaker. It's the 60-80% thing the Doc was talking about. It's the sum of the parts.)

        Point is, standards aren't the problem, your judgement calls and perceptions are the problem. The clue here is that she later said she was interested, but you didn't pick that up at the time, so either she's politely lying, or at the time she wasn't giving off signals at all, or your perception is broken. That's the problem, not lists or standards.

      • I promise you, whining about how women supposedly have it better because they're socially punished for demonstrating too much agency is NOT attractive.

  • Oisin

    ‘Like JT Dawgzone always says… Swing at every ball!”
    Reminds me do you think you could do a Learn From This on the Ice King from adventure time?

    • Tosca

      LOL JT Dawgzone reference!

    • Alberich


    • Trooper6

      But good batters don't swing at every ball. They learn to judge if a pitch is not right for them…if it is too low, too high, too much on the outside, or inside.

      If you swing at a bad pitch, if you are lucky you miss and it is a strike. If you are unlucky, you connect with the ball which becomes an easy pop up fly and you are out.

      • Jess

        Swing at every pinata then? I'm not going anywhere with this analogy, I'm just being goofy. Mmmmm Candy.

        • Trooper6

          Candy! Hm…I think I have some jelly beans in my kitchen….distracted by candy….mmmm…nom nom nom

  • Guest

    Just want to add that you can convey your enthusiasm for something even if you have limited experience or resources. I'd love to travel more and have been to some awesome places, but don't currently have the finances to go where I'd like to go. When I mention I've been to X and Y, but dream of going to Z and ZZ, it keeps the energy and conversation flowing. Don't limit yourself to your actual experiences, share your dreams as well.

  • Sam

    You know, I'm realizing that writing out a list is one of the best ideas ever. Not because it helps you find "what you're looking for" but it opens your eyes to how impossible and unfair your own standards can be.

    • Ainuvande

      That's really impressive insight into yourself. Congrats!

      (step 2, when you're ready for it: what can be compromised?)

      • Sam

        The insight was about how some things on the list were contradictory of one another (hard-working and laid-back both) and essentially if I were to make a list at this point it would be a search for an impossible middle ground in some ways. Looking to the list can backfire in that it can be a list of ten excuses not to give someone a chance.

    • Just in case anyone's interested, I'm a girl geek and here's my list of non-negotiables:

      1) must be a geek/nerd
      2) must not think ME being a geek/nerd is a character flaw
      3) must not be a smoker
      4) must not drink more than socially
      5) must be able to carry a tune at least passably
      6) must be capable of holding down a job that wouldn't embarrass my parents
      7) must not treat me like a second-class citizen for being female
      8) must be Christian or at the very least not object to me being Christian-ish
      8) must be at least passably attractive (although to be fair, people get more "attractive" the longer you date them.)
      9) must have a basic grasp of human hygiene

      Note that there's nothing specific about appearance or weight or income on there. Yes, being overweight and unemployed would work against you, but none of those individually would be a deal-breaker if everything else was good. I do have a "it would be nice" idea of what the ideal guy would look like, and I'll freely admit my husband doesn't look a bit like it. That's okay, though, because he's a nerd and he can sing and he loves and respects me enough to balance it out.

      • Sam

        Heh, as an atheist living in Alabama, I've gotten screwed over by your number 8 more times than I can count. Not that I'm offended, I tend to look for people whose philosophical views match my own as well.

        • I'm in Alabama too, and I'll admit I've moved closer to "agnostic" than "Christian" nowadays 🙂 I wouldn't rule out an atheist, but I would rule out an atheist who couldn't deal with me identifying as Christian. Several of my friends are atheists and they have the same complaints you do – it sucks living in the Bible Belt.

          • Sam

            That's understandable. Are you in North or South AL? I'm in N. AL, but I went to college in South, where it's much, much worse.

          • N AL – Huntsville 🙂 (I like to pretend it's not really Alabama, though – we edjikate our wimmen!) It's pretty much a nerd mecca, which is awfully convenient for those of us who grew up as lonely little nerdlings and despaired of ever finding other people who felt the same way we did about computer games, higher education, science fiction, and building robots 😛

          • Sam

            No shit? I'm in Huntsville too. I went to college in Troy which is "real" Alabama, and so I'm pretty sure that Huntsville was just airlifted into the state from Missouri. I am a fan of the nerd culture here… even people who aren't nerds have nerdy obsessions or interests! I noticed that last time I went to a party and there were two different kegs of homebrew. Also the entire town shuts down on Sunday nights so everyone can watch Walking Dead 🙂

          • gracegems
        • eselle28

          Heh. I'm also an atheist in a deep red state. I think it ends up doing a lot of sorting on both ends of the decision-making process.

          I used to not answer the religion question on online dating sites, but I actually get more quality responses (from fellow atheists or from people who are on the less devout end of the religion spectrum and respect where I'm coming from) when I'm upfront about things. I suspect the same might be true for Christians living in more secular areas?

          • Sam

            I was a lot pickier in my Christian days, despite not having an actual list. I remember at least one girl that I didn't pursue solely based on one political issue.

          • To be honest, I have a lot more respect for anyone (atheist or not) who actually has spent time thinking about religion and made a conscious choice than I do for people who have blindly followed the religion they grew up in just because they never learned that there are alternatives. I don't identify as atheist, but I enjoy talking religion with them 🙂

      • OOOH Can I do mine?

        1.) Must not be a republican
        2.) Must be able to carry on a conversation deeper than favorite bands or the such
        3.) Must be open-minded in the sack, and not laugh at sexual suggestions even if they don't interest him/her
        4.) Must be college educated or equivalent self-education/life experience
        5.) Must be respectful of me being a feminist
        6.) Must be respectful and supportive of my interests and ambitions
        7.) Must have interests and ambitions
        8.) Must have his own friends
        9.) Must not live with parents
        10.) Must own a form of transportation higher than a bicycle (I live in a city where you can't really do much without a car/motorcycle, and I'm not willing to be someone's chauffeur, sorry I'm not sorry).
        11.) Must have a stable job with a comparable income to my own.


      • Just curious, why does a potential mate have to be able to carry a tune?

        • Delafina

          As a former professional musician, I'd be fine with my SO not being able to carry a tune…as long as he never sang. If he did, our relationship would end with me strangling him while screaming, "TUNE IT OR DIE!"

          • I'm tone deaf and one of my best friends is a classically trained opera singer, and she never minds my singing like in the car and such. She always loudly sings along with me.

          • Delafina

            I'm not saying it's universal to musicians, or even to everyone with perfect pitch. But hearing someone sing out of tune for a sustained period of time is like nails on a chalkboard to me. I literally get goosebumps and a mild adrenaline rush.

          • Oh I know, I think it depends if you love the person or not. Since my friend loves me, my tone-deafness is endearing to her and it turns into like a big joke that she participates in, I'm sure she feels the same as you for random strangers singing out of tune.

        • I know that's a frivolous one on there, but I dated a few guys who were tone-deaf and I just couldn't stand it. It's really sexy when a guy sings to you. I sing all the time and it would be a real downer to be with someone I couldn't share that with.

          • Jess

            People are allowed to have at least one goofy standard. I had two. Must not be allergic to cats, or anti-cat, and must respect that vanilla ice cream is a legitimate flavor and therefore a perfectly valid choice as my favorite flavor.

          • Trooper6

            As a person allergic to cats, I appreciate this. I love cats…but I'm really, really allergic. So allergic that I react even in the absence of cats if someone just has been petting and loving their cat recently. If I hug someone with cats? I get allergic reactions. And my allergic reactions are bad. Anti-histimines don't really help. With a big dose of cat, it is two days before I'm able to be productive again.

            I can't be around cats or intimate with a cat owner–no matter how perfect we would be together otherwise. And since I know how important pets are to pet owners, I'd never ask someone to give up their cats for me.

            So, cat owners who won't date allergic people makes a lot of sense. We'd both just be miserable.

          • Jess

            Yeah, I learned that one the hard way. Allergic to cats became an automatic dealbreaker. Here's to finding someone with an avid aquarium hobby or a bird. 🙂

  • Paul Rivers

    Before continuing with the rest of this article, I want you to indulge me. Take some time and draw up a list of ten to twenty non-physical aspects of what you would want in a romantic partner. These can be anything: a love of music, a passion for culture, someone who likes to get stoned and watch movies… but they have to be non-physical qualities. No “She must have double-d breasts” or “he has to be at least six feet tall and able to breathe through his ears”.

    The thing is…this was a huge cultural theme when I grew up, but the reason why it died off is it didn't really seem to work. To paraphrase what an ex-girlfriend of mine said while we dating – she drew up a list, wouldn't date anyone that didn't meet her list, then finally one day she met a guy who did!…and she found that she couldn't actually generate any romantic or sexual tension feelings about him – at all. It was something of a theme in high school – generated from watching it happen again and again – that a girl with a list would *always* end up with her long term boyfriend not meeting most of her criteria.

    From observation, it seems like people come up with completely irrelevant criteria. It has seemed to me that the only time this is successful is when they have a relatively short list, with (frankly) somewhat vague criteria, like "one platonic activity that we enjoy doing together".

    People tend to be just really, really bad at predicting what they want in a partner.

    • Mel

      I think the list can work for people in the situation DNL describes–who are at the point where they feel like they'd take anyone who shows an interest. Actually, I *know* it can, because it's something I did. I dated my first boyfriend basically because he was interested in me, and he was the first guy who'd ever been interested in me, and that was really exciting. But it made for a very unsatisfying and unhealthy relationship. After we split up, I wanted a point of focus to help prevent me from getting into a similar situation. So I made a list of what I wanted in a romantic partner. I still have the document on my computer (I am a packrat, I keep everything) so I can give completely accurate quotes. Some examples: "Respectful (of me and other people)", "Genuinely encourages me in my endeavors", "Confident enough to get by without frequent reassurance", and "Able to make plans at least a few days in advance".

      I didn't cross-reference with that list whenever I met a guy–it was just there for me to glance at occasionally and remind myself not to lower my standards too much. It isn't that hard to find guys who are respectful, encouraging, at least somewhat confident, and capable of plan-making, really, and if I was talking to a guy who belittled my pursuit of a writing career or kept flaking out on plans at the last minute, it was good to have that reminder that I could and should want more than that.

      I think the list making works best if you draw on your actual experiences in relationships (friendships can count too if you haven't dated before)–what makes you happy and unhappy when spending time with other people. That helps with the "bad at predicting" problem. (For example, presumably if you can't stand hanging out with a guy friend who refuses to ever back down in an argument, you wouldn't like that in a romantic relationship either–so "able to compromise" could go on your list.) And like DNL says, you shouldn't expect you'll necessarily find someone who meets every point on your list (especially if it's long and/or includes very specific details). I had some points on mine that I knew were "would be nice", not "essential". But for anyone who's so desperate to get a date that they'd stay with another person even if that person was, say, regularly insulting them or hardly ever willing to make time for them or any other number of things that could make you miserable–and I see a lot of people who stay in relationships that are making them miserable–it can give you a starting point.

      • Paul Rivers

        Yeah, and I don't disagree with your list, but I would reiterate two things –
        1. One of the good things about your list it's relatively short, and very high level, not nit-pick specific criteria – your list says "respectful", it doesn't go into irrelevant minutia.
        2. As I said in another comment, whoever is the one in the "being pursued" role (which is usually the girl) generally has a lot more room to have filtering criteria than the one doing the pursuing. In my experience, guys applying the same level of filtering criteria – at the same points in the process – doesn't work.

        Look…I've spent the last couple of years applying criteria myself, and it generally hasn't worked. I've dated 2 girls, and both times my criteria were "I think she's hot and I want to see her naked" and I didn't think beyond that. Other girls that I have tried to apply more criteria to? It just never quiiiiiiiiite works out…

        Now…one could argue what's *actually* happening is that I already have quite a few criteria built in on an emotional level, so I'm really just reducing my criteria. There was a girl recently that I was interested in but she hit some emotional thing in me and I just never felt like generating the same enthusiasm towards her again, even if I tried to (I don't want to go into the details, but she was telling me about this strong negative emotional reaction she had towards a very brief interaction with a guy I know – for reasons I thought were completely unjustified to have that strong of a reaction – and my emotions went "omg gtfo").

        So maybe it's just perspective…but I do think that guys generally have to have a much smaller list of criteria than the girl, if the guys are doing the pursuing.

        Also, to quote the article, it's important to remember that –

        It’s a bad thing to have no standards, but it’s just as bad when you’re letting the idea of “perfect” keep you from the reality of “pretty damn good”.

        One issue I’ve seen on more than one occasion are people – women and men – who have a list of “must haves” so long that reach the point of impossibility; the only way to a person could actually match those expectations is to be fictional.

        • Mel

          Ah, I was only giving a few examples from the list. It was actually quite long. Maybe 30 different points? About half of which were essentials and half "would be nice". But all of the essentials were high level criteria, not nitpicky, like the examples I gave.

          Like I said, I think the list-making is specifically useful for people who are in that desperate "I just need a girlfriend, any girlfriend" (or boyfriend) mode. Not so much people who already have the sort of built-in criteria it sounds like you have, that you don't need to think about because you're able to set reasonable standards somewhat automatically. A list helps you develop some standards when you have none other than "is female, is alive, is not hideous"–if you're taking "would be nice" qualities and making them into essential ones, I totally agree that's counterproductive.

          • Paul Rivers


        • Gentleman Johnny

          "High standards" as an excuse to wall myself off was my issue. Now I'm dating someone who's too young, not the right build, etc etc. I'm way to skinny for her, she never dates smokers. . .

          and its working great. I'd say we're both in that 75-80% that you round up to 100.

      • Trooper6

        "I think the list making works best if you draw on your actual experiences in relationships (friendships can count too if you haven't dated before)–what makes you happy and unhappy when spending time with other people. That helps with the "bad at predicting" problem."


        I have a very serious list. It isn't crazy long. But it is a list of deal breakers for me. And this list is borne out of experience and my morals. Some are hard line in the sand sorts of things, some are possible to overlook. But these are things that I know from experience will not work for me.

        And yeah, I'm a guy…but that doesn't mean I can't have standards. Indeed, I find it is really important for me to have standards. I vet just as much and others vet. For example:

        1) I will not date a Republican or Libertarian.
        2) I will not date anyone who fetishizes me.
        3) I will not date anyone who is seriously religious.
        4) I will not date anyone who is very negative or describes themselves as an asshole.
        5) I will not date anyone who uses a sexual label to describe themselves that doesn't include dating men (so I would date a queer-identified woman, but not a lesbian-identified woman, no matter how attractive or how into me she was).
        6) I will not date anyone who has a conquest attitude about sex. If a person thinks sex is about taking or giving up…I'm not having sex with them.
        7) I will not date anyone who doesn't like to analyze pop culture and have long conversation about said things (because we'd both end up miserable)
        8) I will not date anyone who doesn't care about politics.
        9) I will not date anyone who is racist, sexist, transphobic, etc.
        10) I will not date anyone who doesn't love themselves.

        I'm 40 and know myself well, and know what does and doesn't work for me in relationships. I know what I will and won't compromise on. I will not date someone who would be unhealthy for me or who we'd just make each other miserable.

        • Tosca

          Number 4 is a good one! Apropos to that: someone who describes themselves as "politically incorrect" and proud of it! Shudder!

          Dating misanthropes is tricky, because they hate people. One of these days, they are going to realize that *I* am also people.

          • enail

            Also, they'll be very disappointed to learn the truth about soylent green.

          • Trooper6

            #4 comes from my mother. Who always gave great advice.

            She told me once, "If someone tells you they are an asshole, believe them. They aren't lying to you."
            That has never steered me wrong, that advice.

            Also, I am totally with you on the "politically incorrect" thing. That usually just means a person who likes insulting people and doesn't care about other people's feelings. Not the sort of person for me to date.

    • Tosca

      True story: when I was 15, my friend and I were talking about boys, and I mentioned one boy who I would NEVER EVER DATE EVER. I would certainly NEVER marry him. Ugh, just the thought!

      ….I married him 7 years later.

      • Paul Rivers

        lol, yeah, that's what I mean…like Mel's high level list is cool, but I've seen people go into creating lists of things they think they should care about but they really don't, and those lists never seem useful…

        • Delafina

          That's a problem with their honesty with themselves, not a problem with the concept of making a list.

    • Commonly known as X

      We are especially bad at predicting what we want when we are still growing up, but that doesn't mean it was a bad exercise . Sometimes we need to clarify our thoughts. I'd think of it as working out a guide to who we are and where to concentrate, rather than a proscriptive ban on anyone who doesn't tick the boxes.

      When I first did this ias a teenager, it was all about them being intelligent, liking to read a lot, being bi. Now I would more say having intellectual curiosity, being able to have interesting conversation about things , being open minded about sexuality. Its part of growing up that you recognise more about yourself and why you want the things you want,. Thinking explicitly about what I wanted helped me see what was irrelevant (like them being bi) when what I really wanted was them to be openminded. I still find bisexuality in men hot, in a fetishistic sort of way, but really its completely irrelevant to whether they would be a good partner for me.

      Also I would include kindness – which along with niceness, empathy, etc. never made it onto my list when I was 18 and that was a wake-up call for me. I think its possible to look at your list, and realise you are a raging snob, or sexist, or afraid of change and that this might be a problem in your romantic life. And once you know, it will help you change if you want.

    • eselle28

      This is why it's important to revise your list of what you might want in a partner as you interact with people. A long list that includes things like "adores tennis" probably won't be useful to anyone except perhaps a very serious tennis player. But I think people get a list of more useful must-haves and no-ways as they date a bit.

      It's hard for people who haven't dated at all, or for people who have had one partner and whose primary reaction is to want someone different, but I think it can be a useful starting point to think about what traits are compatible in friends and then sort out which of those would be needed in a romantic partner and which wouldn't. I agree with Mel that some of this is pointed at people who are mostly just looking for some girl, any girl, who will be interested.

      • Juuuuuulia

        I think I mentioned this earlier, but it's also useful to frame the list as "what do you want to be doing with your partner?" Because you already know what YOU want to be doing most of the time, so you need a partner that will help make that happen or not get in the way of it. I think knowing this up-front helps you recognize if your first relationship doesn't turn into what you wanted. Otherwise, you're likely to tell yourself that this is how it's supposed to be and put your own feelings aside.

    • LeeEsq

      I do not think that Dr. Nerdlove is recommending a list with very specific requirements like only dating women who read everything by Asimov or not dating a man who doesn't own a Rolls-Royce. What I think he meant by list is a sort of outline of general qualities you are looking for like artistic, physically fit, or a witty conversationalist.

    • Camelopardalis

      "To paraphrase what an ex-girlfriend of mine said while we dating – she drew up a list, wouldn't date anyone that didn't meet her list, then finally one day she met a guy who did!…and she found that she couldn't actually generate any romantic or sexual tension feelings about him – at all."

      You've shared this story before, and it continues to be ridiculous. Basically, one guy who met the list but wasn't compatible in other ways was enough for your ex to abandon her list and for you to determine once and for all that lists don't lead to compatibility. That is a logical fallacy. That's like saying, I married a woman my age and went through a horrible divorce, so no woman my age will ever be a good match for me. Or saying, I've dated two engineers, and neither of them worked out, so I will never date another engineer. The one guy who didn't have a spark with your ex is not correlated to any other guy who also meets the requirements in her list, and it means nothing for future guys that the first guy didn't work out. Your high school story is 1) from high school, about inexperienced people and 2) a nice demonstration of confirmation bias. I sense a lot of defensiveness disguised as (poor) logic, and I really start to wonder about the source.

  • Pingback: Dr. Nerdlove « Single White Female 101()

  • I completely agree with you Dr, having no/lower standards has never worked out well for me. But how do you fend off the social pressure of being told you're too picky/you have too high of expectations/you "don't give people a chance"? And how do you tell when you're being too picky, or when your standards are too low? (Having a short list might work, but if my 1 must-have is "Has to be a wealthy doctor" that might still be shooting too high.)

    I'm also curious to hear how many people believe in leagues. It is important to have standards, but should you also aim to stay within your "league" and not aim too low or too high?

    • adambluth

      Sofi Papamarko, aka Sexy Typewriter, cracked this egg of wisdom on our collective heads earlier this year on her (unfortunately) now defunct blog:

      "There’s no such thing as leagues. There are only people who are attracted to you, and people who aren’t."


      • Then how can a person have too high of standards? If that's what they're attracted to, that's what they should pursue, right? Doesn't the idea of having too high of standards come from the assumption that you are not able to attract what you want?

        • Mel

          To me, "too high standards" means that you're eliminating people you *could* be attracted to because of other factors that make you decide they're not worthy. There are women who might decide to only date guys who have white collar jobs, for example, or only date guys who like to party, and so as soon as they find out a guy doesn't fit that criteria, they put aside any attraction they might have been feeling (possibly to the point of not recognizing it was ever there) and move on. That doesn't mean that woman couldn't be happy with a guy who works as an electrician, or a guy who's not a big partier–she isn't giving herself the chance to find out. So lowering her standards would allow her to find that out.

          If you really, honestly, cannot feel any emotional and/or physical attraction to anyone other than a very select group of people, even when you give them a chance, then that sucks, but I can't see that lowering your standards would help. It would just mean you'd end up in relationships with people you weren't attracted to at all, which would be unpleasant and unfulfilling.

          • Commonly known as X

            Yep. I mean there are definitely some things that you just have to accept as a limitation because you could really never be happy in that relationship. If BDSM is really important to your sexuality, vanilla relationships probably won't work out. I could never be with a Tory because politics is very important to me. But, do I really need a man that wants to read a lot – when I think about it, what I want is someone who has interests and can talk about them, and my interests, including stuff I read in books. Its still a standard – its just if I think about it, it doesn't need to be so limiting.

            Also, people really get hooked on dream lovers – some erotic fantasy where she looked just like this, and he acted just like that, and their standards are really about trying to recreate them. You will never meet that person, because there are only real human beings out there.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Politics is one I find very interesting. I could easily be with someone of the opposite political party as long as we could have conversations about issues without it turning into a personal fight. Most of my friends are, to one extent or another, in the fiscally conservative, socially liberal camp. Despite that, we vote for at least three different parties based on what we prioritize first: potential winner on economy, potential winner on social issues or guaranteed loser who agrees with both. We call each other on our partisan bullshit all the time and inject facts that the other side wouldn't normally get, so its actually quite healthy,

          • I felt the same way up until the current political climate. The republican party has so maliciously aligned themselves as anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-education, anti-science, anti-LGBTQ, that I don't think I would touch a man who identified as republican without breaking down into giant elephant shame tears.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            And I'm sure that there are Republicans who say the same thing about Democrats and their immoral socialism. Neither side is any more monolithic than "men" or "women". When you hear about the latest Republican shenanigans, even if they're the actual words of one politician, more often than not its the equivalent of reading about women on a men's rights group. Unless someone is outright saying "I voted for David Duke because black people have too much power in this country and the jewish conspiracy is drugging us with chemtrails" I'm pretty willing to take the time to suss out why someone voted for the other side. Not every Republican is even one of the anti-s you listed.

          • they may not be, but if they align themselves with a party that touts those tenants even if they only agree with the fiscal policy, then that says something about a person as well. To me that says, "I don't give a shit about equal rights, or people in general, as long as my taxes are low." Which is not someone I would be interested in dating.

            I have many friends who have voted republican in previous elections, but could not, with good conscience, bring themselves to support the republican platform in this past election. If you look at previous republican records, even Reagan, the republican golden boy, would not be able to win the primary in the current climate because he would be too liberal.

          • And the thing is, when you have one party talking about human rights and actually trying to get things done, and the other party yelling "socialism" at everything that is NOT socialism (I know socialism I was born in Russia), or trying to delegitimize the president because they dislike his skin-shade, or equating homosexuality to sex with ducks, or believing that a woman's body prevents pregnancy during "legitimate rape", or even fucking classifying rape, then it's not just a difference in political opinion. It's not just a difference in the types of solutions we'd like to implement in this country. It's the difference between having a political opinion and being fucking deranged.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Folks, let's keep the discussion of politics to a civil minimum unless it's directly on topic, 'mkay? It's been a divisive political season and if you thought that feminism, male privilege and creepers caused rancor (and Rancors) and flaming in the comments, you ain't seen what politics can do when you find the unmovable conservative and the unstoppable liberal collide.

            And I have to read all of the comments so I'd really rather not have to wade through it all. So do it for my sake if nothing else.

          • I'm sorry *hangs head*

          • Trooper6

            It if is Star Wars politics is it okay?

            I think it is terrible that no one is thinking about the Rancors! I mean, chained up in pits by Huts? Shouldn't Rancors also have some sort of humane treatment? Even if they might eat you? Stop the oppression of Rancors! Petition the Galactic Senate!

            Wait, does anyone know the respective positions of the Rebel Alliance and the Empire on the humane treatment of Rancor? Because that will totally sway my vote.

            Though…I don't think you really get to vote at all in the Star Wars universe…at least not as an average person. That universe is full of monarchies and dictatorships.

          • eselle28

            I don't think politics are so much the issue. Values can be, and depending on the social group in question, politics sometimes substitute for that. I'm happy to either argue it out or agree to disagree, depending on the dynamic, about many fiscal issues. Not all of them, but certain ones.

            I'm far less comfortable with men who have conservative attitudes on gay or trans issues – aside from the basic issue of justice, some of the people who end up being condemned are my friends and people I'd expect my boyfriend to socialize with! I would also never knowingly have sex with someone who was opposed to birth control or abortion, for the most practical of reasons. On a less obvious front, as an atheist I don't mind dating people who have faith of some sort, but I don't have a great deal of patience for people whose faith isn't able to accommodate itself to modern science. There's no practical reason for that one. It's just something that's hard for me to respect in a partner.

            The flip side of everything in that last paragraph? There's someone who feels the exact opposite way, and that's valid too. And it wouldn't matter if that person party IDed with me over other things or not.

          • I think not having sex with someone who is opposed to birth control/abortion is much bigger than a practical issue. That is a man who thinks that it is okay to legislate a woman's body. That is a man who thinks a woman's body is a public entity that can be regulated and controlled. That is a man who does not respect a woman's private reproductive rights, who thinks that a woman who spreads her legs should have to be forced to give birth.

            Not only would I not have sex with such a man, I would not talk to such a man in a social setting if I could help it.

          • eselle28

            I characterize it as practical because I thing it's an additional whamy on top of the philosophical debate. I'm very much on your side when it comes to this issue and distrust people who disagree.

            I'm just saying I can resolve this just on the whammy. I've had an abortion. It wasn't some big tragic thing. I don't feel the least little bit bad about it. And while I doubt I'll ever become pregnant again, I don't want to have children and I'd do the same thing if things went wrong a second time. That's what I mean when I say it's practical. Even a very understanding person of opposite sentiments wouldn't work for me.

            If you don't have the whammy and you still feel the same way, I'm very much on your side. It is a larger issue and I would like everyone to support for reasons other than self-interest, but because it's the right thing to do.

          • eselle28

            Ugh, I hate my phone. So many typos.

          • Paul Rivers

            Yeah, what Mel wrote exactly.

            There's one more thing that happens as well – sometimes you have emotional standards that you don't realize are horrible or impossible. For me specifically, there was a feeling I was always attracted to. Then I met a girl who had that feeling…she ended up dating someone else. But she was still part of our friend group, so I was able to see what happened.

            It turned out that that emotion was some sort of…naked ambition, combined with some sort of lack of real bonding in the relationship. She eventually broke up with her boyfriend in order to date his new roomate, then when his new roomate backed off (because it was to much conflict for him), she eventually went on to date another guy…then *also* fell for that guys best friend…for which she left him, then went back to him again…right now it seems like she's actually genuinely troubled that she's unable to keep these relationship stable…

            Being able to watch it was the best thing for me, because it changed my emotions so that I felt comfortable not having that emotion in a girl. And who knows – maybe in another girl, that emotion would not have had exactly those results.

            But still – I look back and think of the girls that seemed interested in me but that I passed up because they lacked that "certain something' and think "wow, I wish I had 'settled'".

            Logical standards can be the same way – someone who really, really wants to date/marry a surgeon may also really, really want a close and supportive relationship, not realizing that a surgeon's long hours and constant on-call time will mean she will never feel both ways about a the same guy.

          • well of course, a person's job, their political beliefs, are extremely important in a partner.

            For example, a man that works in a drive-thru window signals to me that he has low education or is unmotivated. It doesn't matter if a guy is a teacher (pays less than what I make) or a doctor, those careers signal that education and knowledge are important to him. I don't want to quote well-known shakespeare in conversation and receive a blank look, or mention a current event and receive apathy. So yea, those are important.

            Another example is a man who identifies as "Pro-life" or even a republican in our current political environment. That signals to me that a man possesses a set of basic values that I would find problematic in a relationship, such as mysogyny and lack of empathy.

          • Mel

            I agree with you about politics, because those are beliefs–but then, I didn't mention politics or say they're not important.

            But a job only tells you so much. If you dismiss the guy who's working at the drive-thru without giving him a chance, you might miss finding out that he's only doing that because the economy sucks and he hasn't been able to find a position in the field he has a advanced degree in. Or he might be self-taught enough to have conversations about Shakespeare, but he's saving up money to go to university because he couldn't afford it before. And I'm sure there are doctors who don't recognize Shakespeare quotes and can't talk enthusiastically about much outside their field, for example.

            A job can definitely indicate certain characteristics are more likely than others, but they're not a guarantee. It seems to me it makes more sense, if you're meeting a person for the first time, to see what they're all about rather than making assumptions about them. Why would you have "must be in a career that requires high education" as a criteria when what you really want is "someone who can carry on a thoughtful conversation on a variety of subjects" (or whatever exactly it is that matters to you)?

          • Of course they are exceptions, but the vast majority of people working in retail or drive – thrus are of a low education and have little ability to have thoughtful conversation.

            I guess I don't understand what you are asking of women. Do you seriously believe that as a woman I should date my way through the thralls of drive-thru workers until I find the one that I connect with on an intellectual basis? Or is it more statistically sound for me to go for men who I ALREADY know satisfy that criteria for me?

            Of course, if I am out in a bar, and get approached by a guy who has a very thoughtful conversation with me about Joyce or Politics or feminism, and I find out he works as a dogwalker or something, I am not going to dismiss him, because he already demonstrated those qualities to me, but I am not going to arbitrarily date people in those careers of hoping to find the one guy who doesn't really belong there intellectually.

          • Mel

            "Of course they are exceptions, but the vast majority of people working in retail or drive – thrus are of a low education and have little ability to have thoughtful conversation."

            Wow. That is a really insulting and prejudiced view of people. My husband was working in retail when I met him, while working toward a degree in English. He could talk about Shakespeare with you just fine. I know lots of people with university degrees and/or intellectual interests who are working low level jobs for a variety of reasons, the two main ones being: because it's hard to find jobs in many fields with the current economic climate, and hard to get a good job in a field you're not trained for, or because they're pursuing a career that doesn't pay very much (like music or theater) and need something easy and part time to pay the bills.

            I also know lots of people with high level education who are awful conversationalists, and lots of people with less education who have tons of interesting things to talk about. My father in law worked in a factory most of his life and has only high school education; my mother in law has a university degree and works in medicine, and yet my FIL has many more topics he can converse about, and is much more enjoyable to talk to, than she is. Education does not make you a great speaker or even particularly knowledgeable outside of whatever you had to learn to pass your exams. Many people are intellectually curious but don't do well in school settings, so don't pursue them very far, or don't have the finances to pursue them. That doesn't stop them from having access to all the information on the internet, in libraries, on the news, etc.

            I'm not sure why you're gendering this–I've been using the example of women have standards about guys in this thread because I'm talking to fellow women (I'm a woman too! I apply this to myself!), but the points I'm making apply to men and their standards too.

            Anyway, I'm not saying anyone should go seek out people of a career they think lowly of. But how often are you in a situation where the first thing you know about a prospective date is his (or her) career? Usually you meet a person, and in the course of talking to them you find out what their career is. But since you're already talking to them, it shouldn't too hard to determine whether they fit your actual criteria of being able to have a thoughtful conversation (or whatever), rather than making an assumption based on their job. So what use is having the job itself as a criteria? In what situation would you be considering getting to know or date someone, while knowing nothing about them other than their job?

          • Again, I don't think I gendered it at all. When I was in college, and working as a secretary in a hospital, it was really off-putting when doctor's would flirt with me, and I had no intention of dating one then because I felt like they were enjoying the status inequity in the potential relationship. I'm talking about, if I am at McDonald's and the guy at the counter hits on me, I'm not going to be receptive to it, same as with the guy trying to sell me a cell phone. In those situations, their job is the first thing I know about them.

            Also, when I'm online dating, I do screen the "what are you doing with your life" section. And for the record, I just lost my job 2 weeks ago and canceled my online dating profile, because I am not a hypocrite, and since I do not date men who are unemployed, I am also taking myself off the dating market for the time being.

            Looking over my comment, it does seem like I gendered it a little, but in terms of your husband and father in law, they are of course exceptions. I am not saying I would dismiss people based on their career, but it is easier to seek out people in certain careers because those careers already provide a baseline educational requirement. My dad is a city bus driver, and my mom is a nurse practitioner, and he is much better versed in politics and history than she is. Again, that is an exception. And I'm sorry for being insulting, and I don't think the majority of people working in drive-thrus or retail, etc, are bad people or unworthy of love, I'm saying they are probably not good matches for me. I know this from experience, from dating men who were significantly less educated than me, and guess what? It was awful, and so I create standards from my own personal dating experience.

          • Mel

            I think it's totally reasonable for you to pick who you date based on your past experiences. You seemed to object to what I said in my original comment above, but I don't think I was talking about your situation at all. I was talking about people who let a standard like a type of job be a dealbreaker even when they were enjoying an interaction with the person up until that point–people who never give anyone who doesn't meet that standard a chance to find out whether it really makes a difference (even if they're not meeting anyone who does meet their current standards).

            And I have to disagree with the assertion that people who are intellectually curious in lower profile jobs is that much of an exception–it does depend on the age of the people involved (people in their early twenties are often not yet qualified for better jobs because they're still getting their education), the exact job, and exactly what kind of intellectual curiosity you enjoy (artistic intellects vs. academic intellects, for example), but like I said, I know *lots* of people in that position (mainly because know lots of people in the arts). When you say the "vast majority" of people in jobs like retail have "little ability to have thoughtful conversation", that goes beyond just stating they're not the right fit for you and is making a generalization about a huge number of people in a derogatory way. If what you want from thoughtful conversation is a specifically academic sort of thing, that's fine for you, but the way you phrased it made it sound as if you think people who work in lower education jobs can hardly string more than a few sentences together at a time or have opinions about anything other than what they want for lunch. I'm not offended on my own behalf–I'm an academic high achiever myself–it just seems like a very narrow view of the world.

            But we can agree to disagree.

          • I think our experiences are fundamentally different. Let me deconstruct this in a proof way. Let m = a person who holds a low-ed job.

            You know m from the arts, so you experienced that person from the perspective of that interest before you learned about their job. Your statistical sample is skewed, because ALL people m that you know are also people who are in the arts, so their ability to engage in higher level interests is elevated. You cannot make inferences about people m in general based only on your statistical sample.

            All the people m that I know, I knew first from low-ed jobs. While not every m I know is the same, my statistical sample is a better representation of ALL people m, because it is not consisted solely of exceptions that your statistical sample is. Does that make sense?

          • For example, my mom works of in an STD free clinic. The majority people she sees are low-income because they don't have insurance. She likes to make the inference that "the majority of low-income people people have STDs and are sexually irresponsible", which is a logical fallacy based on her statistical sample, since ALL the low-income people in her sample by default are seeking treatment in an STD clinic, which is not a representative sample of the whole low-income population.

          • eselle28

            Maybe as a way of branching on the conversation, what do people think about not wanting to date someone for the logistical reasons associated with a low-income job? I'm not talking about someone who wants to marry rich instead of middle class, but more the logistical issues that come up when one person is having financial problems serious enough to make early stage dating very difficult.

            I think I'd probably put it in the same category as looks standards – that it's not good to be riduculous or exacting, but that there are sometimes when it's a problem and it really does prevent things from going further.

            (This isn't an attempt to justify gold-digging. I have a good job and tend to be attracted to people whose self-descriptions start with starving or aspiring. The guy I've been dating lives the next town over, often doesn't have gas money, and doesn't have a place where I can sleep over if I go to see him. Means we don't see each other much, and while I'm not calling it off, I often find myself wishing we could get to the stage where i can just buy him shit…which we can't, because we don't see each other often enough to feel that serious.)

          • Of course that is a reason as well.

            When I had a nice programming job, 2 weeks ago, I used to enjoy going out for drinks, or dinner or to see a show once in a while. Of course not all the time, but I was in no way rich, and couldn't afford to always pay for another person's meals or tickets or drinks, but that I would still want my partner to be able to join me in those activities. It is frustrating always having to stay in and do stuff at home because your partner can't afford to go out, and you can't afford to pay for them all the time.

          • Delafina

            I wouldn't start dating someone without a decent job. They don't have to be rich, but they have to be able to afford to socialize (go see a movie, meet for lunch, etc.). I don't need or want extravagant presents (I don't care if it cost nothing if you put thought into it), and I pay my own way, but I've come to realize that I like to have the freedom if we're hanging out at my place watching TV or whatever to say, "Hey, let's go to the market and get some lunch!" Getting out of the house and going new places is important to me.

            I really hate putting people in awkward situations, so having to worry about whether suggesting that is going to hurt someone who can't afford it is not something I want with a partner.

            If I already care about someone, and they lose their job or whatever, I'll happily pay their way so we can hang out, but I don't want to start a relationship with someone who's in a bad financial position.

          • I feel the exact same way

          • Also, I really don't think saying the majority of people working in drive-thrus and retail have low educational backgrounds and have little ability to have a thoughtful conversation is that insulting. I worked as a waitress, a bartender, a secretary, in retail, and other low-ed jobs while I was in college, and the majority of my co-workers were not in college, and were not capable of thoughtful conversation.

            My own father, mentioned before, who is a city bus driver, has refused to introduce co-workers of his to me, because he thinks they are not educated enough to date his daughter. (Like, when some young driver saw me at an event where my dad was honored for something or other, and asked my dad later for my number). My dad, LITERALLY, steers me away from his younger co-workers at company picnics or other events, and blocks potential conversation.

          • Well, I think I meant to say, that yes, while that may be insulting, it is not necessarily untrue.

          • Mel

            As I suggested above, it sounds to me like you have a narrow view of what constitutes "thoughtful conversation". Maybe your co-workers who had deeper thoughts on things didn't discuss them with you very much because you clearly disdained them? Just because someone talks superficially about some things doesn't mean they don't also have other things going on in their heads.

            And your anecdote about your dad doesn't tell me anything about the people he works with, only that he's prejudiced against people who don't have "enough" education. If he blocks all conversation between you and those people, then you really have no idea whether they're capable of talking about anything in a thoughtful way, do you?

            Those are your experiences–I am telling you that in my experience I have known many educated and/or intellectually curious people who worked in low-ed jobs for a variety of reasons. I'm not saying the majority of people in those jobs are educated and/or intellectually curious, I'm just saying in my experience there's at least a significant minority (not just a tiny exception) who are. Why is your experience absolute proof and mine doesn't count?

          • I don't disdain anyone in low-ed jobs. In fact, I had many friends at work, and my co-workers talked to me quite a bit. I don't have to disdain someone to not want to date them. I brought up that example of my dad because I was attempting to demonstrate that he knows his co-workers and he still thinks they would not be good matches for me, and he does know his co-workers, he's a very social guy and is friends with many of them. Again you should check out my argument about the difference of our statistical samples that I made above.

          • Kira

            The plural of anecdote is still data. You've biased your sample just as Mel has, only she didn't try to make any generalizations, only counterfactuals.

            I would suggest the issue here is not whether or not low-ed jobs are worthwhile, but whether or not you are comfortable making a judgment that basically throws away large swathes of the population all at once.

            How about using a qualifying question when someone asks you out? I don't know at all what sort of thing would count as validation of being intellectually curious, but for the sake of example let's say it's enjoying indie theater. If, say, the cell phone dude asks for your number, you could say, "I don't know, my favorite thing to do is go to fringe plays, what's the last good fringe play you saw?" and if they can give you a good answer, then you have a reason to date them, and if they can't, you have a valid reason to reject them.

          • Actually, the plural of anecdote is not data. The plural of anecdote is anecdotes. My statistical sample is less biased than Mel's because its main qualification is "people working in low-ed jobs", where the main qualification of her sample is "people who are involved with the arts".

            I'm not sure if you skimmed or read the previous comments, but I did not say anything about throwing away large swathes of population. I discussed the fact that if the 1st thing I know about a date is their job, a low-ed job will likely make me less receptive to that person. I am under no obligation to question the intellectual curiosity of every McDonald's employee that hits on me, my only social contract there is to be polite, and pay for my food. However, if I meet a person through a different venue and we have a great conversation, and after I find out he works at McDonald's, then I would give him a chance. However, his job would raise red flags, and I would be curious to know if he is working there as he finishes school or if he just doesn't have any other ambitions, because no matter how smart a man or a woman is, if they have no drive then I am not interested.

          • Kira

            my apologies; I accidentally left out the word 'not'.

          • Delafina

            I think it really depends on their age and circumstances. Plenty of people in low-paying jobs are people in or just out of college. I've known plenty of people with interesting day jobs (actors, professors, etc.) that don't pay that much who take a couple evenings bartending to supplement their income. Heck, I knew a VP of a major bank who worked at her favorite clothes store a couple nights a week because she liked getting the employee discount and genuinely enjoyed helping people shop for clothes. She certainly didn't need the money.

            But if someone's in their mid-30s and is still working at a fast-food place, I'm going to ask why. It's not an absolute deal-breaker for me — maybe there's an interesting reason, but people who have a lot of passion for their job are very attractive to me, so if someone's got a dead-end job and doesn't seem to be trying to leave it, I find that a turnoff.

          • Well, I'm 26, so I'm trying to date guys around my age or slightly older, so of course it's a red flag for someone in my dating range primarily works at a low-ed job, without any indication of having other ambitions.

          • Anonymoose47

            I'm mid 20s, never had a job and been getting over some fear/self-esteem problems that have been plaguing me for years now. I'm gonna be low-end for awhile, it's crushing to know I'm gonna be disqualified by most women in my age range.

          • I'm sorry that's crushing, but you should be disqualifying yourself. If you are having fear/self-esteem issues that prevent you from working, you should not be dating. I know this sounds harsh, and I really hope you do get better, but in dating, you are not the only person affected. It is not fair to subject a potential partner to your issues, if you have not dealt with them yet.

            As I mentioned in previous comments, I lost my job 2 weeks ago, and have removed myself from the dating market, for a number of reasons as a result of that. One reason is that it is unfair to a potential partner, because I would not be able to afford many date activities, so until I find a job, I am not dating. It is okay to not date if you are in a position where your issues or status make you a potentially difficult partner.

            As an aside, the term I used was "low-ed" as in low education jobs, not low-end. I was a junior programmer, which is low-end(little money) but not low-ed.

          • Anonymoose47

            I meant more for when I start getting a handle on things. Kinda like "Oh, you're mid 20s/early 30s and don't have a degree job yet? Sorry, not gonna happen ever."

          • Well, if you read through the previous comments,

            1.) not all women feel as I do.

            2.) I don't DISQUALIFY people in low-ed jobs. I just don't necessarily seek them out, or at worst am wary about them. Which means that if you are going after women like myself, you would have to demonstrate qualities that women like me are trying to suss out quickly so that your career status has little effect on our decision to date you.

            First however, you should determine if you want to date a woman like me. You have to determine what you want. What qualities are important to you.

            If qualities like education, intelligence, being well-read, politically active, are qualities that you enjoy in women, then you should seek to embody some of those qualities yourself so that women like that are attracted to you.

            If those qualities don't matter to you, if you are looking for sweet, easy-going, extraverted, etc. (not necessarily mutually exclusive from above), then you can find those qualities in women who couldn't care less about what kind of job you have.

          • enail

            I don't think that's even what onlyyevster said, let alone what you should worry most women think. She mentioned 'without having indication of other ambition' and specifically mentioned that education and intellectual curiosity are important to her.

            I think what you can take from this is that, if dating fairly intellectual people is important to you, showing signs that you have an interest in learning more and improving yourself is important. I think a person who is working fast food due to Reasons but is saving up to study Interesting Thing or is paying the rent while being a Struggling Artist or is interested in pursuing a career in Something That Excites You in the long term can still be appealing to someone who values intellectual curiosity.

          • Thank you.

            I think I was just trying to say, that statistically speaking most people who work in those jobs are not pursuing Interesting Thing, so they are usually unattractive.

          • Delafina

            There are plenty of women whom this dire economy has left stuck in low-end jobs. Heck, I have friends with JDs who are working retail jobs.

            But yes, a lot of professional women with mid- to high-range jobs may disqualify you because they want a professional and financial equal. That still leaves the ones who don't care, and the ones in low- to mid-range jobs.

          • eselle28

            Counterexample: me. I have a graduate degree and a very high-paying job. Despite the problems I outlined below, I am currently casually dating a guy who's in his late 20s (which is a few years younger than me) who has a college degree but not the right type of job to go with it.

            From what I've gathered, you're younger than he is and you're looking at dating women your age or a few years older or younger. Guess what? Lots of women in their early to late 20s aren't doing so well on the job front either, or are familiar with dating men who are having problems.

            (Look, from what you've said, I think it would be worth it for you to work on the career issues, as they tie in with some other things, but you don't have to be an automatic success to get a date. Women here are of varying ages, circumstances, and preferences).

          • eselle28

            Here's the really great thing. You're getting started late on a lot of things, it sounds like, but on the career front you're not really behind your peers. Most women who are around 21 or 22 won't have had a decent job yet, and that's certainly not to young for you. Many women who are exactly the age you are won't have had one either, given the poor state of the economy. I think everyone I know who's 24ish either lives with parents, is still in school, or is married but only one of the people in the couple has an appropriate job (often not by choice, tough sometimes there are babies in the mix already).

          • Anonymoose47

            I'll accept this as truth and hope for a future best, then. I am 26, though. Little farther out than 24ish.

          • eselle28

            But we're talking about 2 years here. That's not such a big deal. Women who are 24ish are perfectly fine for you to date, and there certainly isn't any shortage of 25-year-olds or 27-year-olds who don't currently have great jobs or who are suffering setbacks.

            It's good to attack things from both fronts and work on getting a job as well, but you're not the only person in the world whose career hasn't worked out perfectly. Some women won't be understanding, but others will be in the same siutation.

          • enail

            And a lot of that will still be true later on. I'm in my 30s. I know so many highly-educated, intelligent people who have had long periods of being unemployed or employed at low-status/low-paying jobs or jobs they hate; for many of them it's b/c of health problems, depression or family issues – the kind of things that are pretty personal and might make them feel awkward when asked about it at job interviews or in social situations. They learn to talk about it in a way that isn't too mopey and move the conversation on to what they'd like to be doing or something positive that they're focusing on. (With strangers & casual acquaintances – with friends, of course, sometimes you just need to mope!)

            There are a lot of people out there who totally get things like "had a rough period," "turns out I hate Prestigious Field I Studied in, still figuring out what I really want to do" "job-hunting is hard," "going back to study Thing I Really Want To Do." This is true at 26, it'll still be true at 30, from what I hear it'll still be true at 40. Life is tough sometimes.

          • Tosca

            Before you let it send you into a negative spiral, remember that it is only Onlyyevster's preference. Which she is entitled to. But she is just one woman. So get the phrase "disqualified by most women" out of your head!

            I'm more with Delafina, in that it is highly situationally dependent. As a lady in my 30s with a kid, I have different standards. However, someone in your situation wouldn't necessarily be a dealbreaker IF he were actively working though his issues (not just TALKING about it, but actually DOING it) and if we were highly compatible in other areas. So don't despair.

          • Delafina

            "Highly situationally dependent" is a good way to put it. Someone my age having a low-paying, entry-level job is a big red flag for me, but not an automatic disqualifier. But in your mid-20s, in this economy, it's hardly uncommon and not a badge of shame.

          • Becelec

            Not most, just some. I'm mid 20s and I couldn't give two shits about the sort of job a guy has. Things like that aren't important to me at all.

          • LeeEsq

            When ever I'm chatting with a woman on a dating site or meeting her for coffee, I always see if she has any interests or hobbies outside of work. If she says no or gives something standard like "hanging out with my friends", than she is not somebody that I'm probably going to get along with. Having interests or hobbies are signs that you leave a fulfilling life and that your not totally devoted to your job. If she has a hobby, she is also more likely to understand my desire to spend time at dance.

          • Of course, that makes a lot of sense. For someone like you that has hobbies, hobbies in a mate are important.

            I don't if I have "hobbies" per se. I'm very politically active, I write and read a lot. I don't really think those are hobbies, but I am constantly seeking knowledge, and I need a man who understands that. I've been with a lot of men who think that I'm weird because of it, that it's kinda a pointless pursuit in their eyes, and of course those men are not for me.

          • LeeEsq

            I'm using hobby in a broad sense to mean any sort of activity that you do outside of work or study. So for me, reading, which I do a lot of, writing, and seeking knowledge would be hobbies. Writing fan-fiction or blogging non-professionally are definitely hobbies.

            Plus, if a person has a hobby its a sign that the person isn't completely devoted to their career that their job always comes first. I really don't want most dates to be cancelled or cut short because work constantly comes up,

          • Oh, ok thanks for clarifying. I always feel weird about the term "hobbies" or when I'm asked about them. I feel like I need to list off my Jane Austen-esque accomplishments.

            "Well, I am proficient in needlepoint, and I play the piano, as well as sing. On cold winter nights, I enjoy knitting and a rousing game of Bridge. On warm summer days, I entertain my guests in the garden or attend polo matches"

          • Delafina

            <3 this whole reply.

          • Just to touch on the partying example. I don't think that's necessarily a bad criteria to have on a list for a woman who likes to go out every weekend. It is very hard to have a relationship with someone who has very different social tendencies than yourself. I have "does not like clubbing" on my list, because I wouldn't want to be with a guy who needs to go out to a posh club every weekend, because I would either have to go with him or stay home while he went without me. Also, that interest speaks to a type of person that I just don't see myself liking. One of my best girl friends was with a guy for a long time who hated going out, and she was a very social person. Even though she was in a relationship, she would always have to go out herself, and she was bothered to not be able to present as a couple to her other couple friends because her bf was a homebody.

            Mel, I totally respect your point, but those are not necessarily examples of bad high standards to have. I think examples of really unhelpful high standards are those that don't necessarily speak to the personality or value characteristics of a person. Such as,
            – has read all of Asimov (as mentioned above)
            – likes to watch Jersey Shore (if it's good enough for Rachel Maddow, it's good enough for me)
            – is adopted

            I'm pulling these out my ass, but do you see what I mean?

        • Tosca

          I read a really awesome article once I *think* by Snarky's Machine, about too high standards. My google-fu is failing me now, but she boiled it down like this:
          If you say you want a supremely fit, rich doctor (for example), well, are YOU supremely fit, rich and a doctor? Because people tend to attract people like them or close to it. If you are an out of shape person living with your parents who didn't graduate high school, you aren't going to have much to bring to the table of a fit, rich doctor.
          It's not to say you can't aim that high, but if you want someone in that lifestyle, work towards some of it yourself (go back to school, join a gym, etc). If you aren't prepared to work on yourself so you have something to offer a person like that, maybe you should adjust your standards.

          • Hypothetically, what if a person is searching for the "equal" (rich, fit doctor searching for rich, fit doctor), but not finding success, should they then lower their standards?

          • adambluth


            If they are willing to wait for someone who meets that criteria to come along, then I don't see anything wrong with that. If they don't want to wait, if they want to date with more frequency, then "lowering" their standards might very well provide them with more options.

          • eselle28

            I think it's worth considering now and then (whether or not you're searching for what you think of as your "equal"), but I think it's often good to examine things.

            My usual thought exercise is to imagine someone who's very much what I'd want in a partner except for that ONE THING on one hand and then to imagine not having a long term parner on the other, and seeing what my gut reaction is to both those things. That's not to say that not having a partner doesn't win sometimes – it does more often than not.

          • Delafina

            Well, I'd think they should ask what really constitutes "equality" and what qualities are actually important to them. Why do they want another doctor? Is it because there are aspects to being a doctor that it's important that their partner share, that only someone else in the same field can understand (in that case, why not a nurse)? Or is it because they respect people who are similarly driven and will understand the crazy hours and energy their career takes (this is why you see a lot of doctor-lawyer or doctor-executive pair ups)? What's actually important? "I want to date a doctor" doesn't really answer that question. And "equal" can mean a lot of things — financial equal, intellectual equal, prestige equal, emotional intelligence equal, education equal, career passion equal, self-confidence equal, etc. You aren't likely to get them all, so it pays to understand which types of equality you actually care about.

          • LeeEsq

            This is interesting because it also revolves around self-perception which is sometimes not reliable. I mentioned previously that physical beauty is important to me and my standards of beauty are convetional. Its not the only think I'm looking for but its one of the things. I work out on a regular basis, so my body is pretty fit. I pay attention to my clothes and grooming for the same reason. I consider my face to be rather handsome. The problem is that I really can't tell if my self-perception about my looks is reliable since I've been described as everything from average to handsome.

            A person might easily view themselves as being a good mate for a supremely fit, rich doctor and be totally off because of an overly confident and unrealistic self-perception. I don't know how many people are really this honest with their self-perception.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            For guys, much as for women, the difference between average and attractive is thinner than you think. In jeans and a t-shirt, I'd say I'm average for my age. In a suit with a fresh hair cut, people ask me if I've ever considered being a model. Grooming, wardrobe and confidence might not get you into the Brad Pitt range but they'll get you 75%+ of the way.

            Intelligence is a lot easier to check. Do people you're not related to often mention to you that you're smart? Then you probably are. I suspect that applies to lots of personality traits. If you're smart, kind, giving, warm or whatever, you don't have to fish for the compliment. People will bring it up on their own.

          • mmm suit… Do you wear suspenders too? I totally have a thing for men in suspenders 😛

          • Gentleman Johnny

            This is the second time in as many weeks that my fashion sense has gotten the attention of the Ladies Of The Dr. Nerdlove Comments. Maybe I should start my own blog. 😀

            More seriously, I love suspenders but don't generally wear them for practical reasons. I waffle between a 28 and 30 inch waist. When I'm on the low side and wearing suspenders, the waistband of my pants is awkwardly loose and uncomfortable.

          • lol, you should start a fashion tumblr

          • eselle28

            There is truth in this.

          • Paul Rivers

            While I totally agree with the sentiment, the real p.i.t.a. difficulty comes in because a lot of times people date not exactly people like them, but their social compliment.

            (straight) Football players generally aren't out there dating other football players – whether they're dating cheerleaders or another category, they're not "the same", there aren't many female football players. A busy surgeon might date a woman who's much more emotional and like running a household because wants that stuff but doesn't have any time himself – dating another surgeon, with two on-call schedules, would never work.

            A lot of the "super hot and emotionally bubbly" girls I've known are dating guys who aren't very emotional.

            Back in the day it was pretty common for really visually attractive women to be dating much, much less visually attractive guys – clearly whatever the balance was, it wasn't about two people with equal looks.

            I agree with the sentiment 100%, I'm just saying that the confusing part is figuring out what the compliment is.

          • eselle28

            Yes, I think it's completely reasonable to want something that's not exactly the same as what you have to offer. Otherwise, we'd all be dating clones of ourselves, which I think is pretty horrible.

            I think the basic level stumbling block is when people have their expectations about looks and personality types and career success and then when asked what they have to offer in return, can't really mention much beyond being a reasonably decent human being. Lots of people can offer that. The somewhat more subtle stumbling block not realizing when the things you do have to offer don't appeal much to the people you want to date, and figuring out whether you should try to tweak what you have to offer, or change your expectations, or decide that you're willing to be single until someone with a particular set of tastes comes along.

          • This.

            You might thing that qualities x,y, and z are awesome for a potential partner. But if you are trying to date a person of type A, who needs qualities a,b,c in a mate, then x,y,z are pretty useless in that endeavor.

            Kinda like me going up to bro-ish guy in a posh bar and saying, "hey big boy, I've got a level 85 shadow priest. Wanna go back to my place and farm?" While I might think that my (retired) WoW character is awesome, it isn't something that guy would appreciate in a potential mate.

          • Tosca

            That is awesome, madam. You almost made me shower my computer with coffee. Well done!

          • Trooper6

            This is how I am imagining the scene in my head:

            onlyyevster: "hey big boy, I've got a level 85 shadow priest. Wanna go back to my place and farm?"
            Trooper6: "well, my Subtlety Rogue is only Level 70, because I never got Wrath of the Lich King, but–"
            onlyyevster: "You never got Wrath of the Lich King? and you specced your Rogue Subtlety? You have just disqualified yourself from my dating pool!"
            Trooper6: *hangs head in shame*


          • Orv

            There's nothing wrong with having a Subtlety rogue… I mean sure it isn't as flashy as a combat rogue.. and it may not bring the deeps of an Assassination rogue, but Subtlety rogues bring umm… well…. (I have barely touched my rogue since MoP I have no idea what they bring anymore).

          • I agree, I used to battlegrounds with a subtlety rogue, I was the bait, he was the hook.

          • Trooper6

            In raids I did consistent Damage over Time and never pulled aggro. But I know some raiders would only take classes specced in certain ways and apparently Subtlety wasn't the spec.

          • KMR

            Not to add to your confusion but… this is going to differ as well, depending on the person. You can take a single quality and find people who want a partner who shares that quality exactly, but then find other people who want a partner who is their exact opposite on that quality to "balance things out."

            For instance, I am a shy introvert and I strongly prefer to date other introverts. I'm pretty comfortable with my introversion and much prefer to stay in and hang out with only one or two people at a time than to go out and do something more social in a bigger group. If I dated an extravert, I'd likely either feel pressured into going to social gatherings more often than I'm comfortable with or feel guilty that my preference for staying in would be keeping him from doing more of what he loved. However, I recently dated a guy who, although he was an introvert like me, actually would have preferred to date an extravert because he felt that he really should be getting out more and wanted someone who would encourage him to be more social.

            So I don't think there are many guidelines like "this trait should be the same" vs. "that trait should be different so as to complement one another." It just depends on what each person wants in a partner and why.

          • Tosca

            I think the original article was geared more toward people who THINK their preferences are "normal", but are in fact unreasonable and what is holding them back from finding someone. You know, that stereotype of the waitress holding out for the rich doctor or the gamer living with his mom who wants a fit model. Curse my terrible Google-fu! I really wish I could find it.

            Expounding on what estelle28 said, it's not so much about matching, exactly. A doctor or an athlete is going to have a certain lifestyle. Same with a soldier, or a police officer. They have weird hours, they have to be dedicated to their jobs. Perhaps the professional athlete doesn't have to date another professional athlete, but s/he would have to date someone who is at least inclined toward the lifestyle (someone fit and outdoorsy, rather than a laid-back gamer, for example). A cheerleader may not be another football player, but she would understand the sacrifices that come with the lifestyle (intense training, traveling, etc) because she'd have to do them too. Same with a doctor married to a nurse or another doctor. If the doctor had a non-medical-field spouse, they'd have to be extra understanding that the doctor sometimes works overnights and holidays and that the job can be overwhelming (like ER docs). They'd have to pick up a lot of the slack at home and with the kids, and as long as resentment doesn't build, it can be done.

            I'm a wife of a soldier, and while I'm not one (yet), I have a special kind of personality that makes it easier for me to handle the tougher aspects of the job. Plus, mu husband and I are matched well everywhere else. It's not only about outward markers. If you're the clingy, jealous type, what makes you think you'd be happy with the gorgeous but flirty social butterfly? (Rhetorical "you)

            There are always exceptions, of course. Some people seek out opposites. And I'm not saying it can't work; I'm just saying the odds of a person like that falling for, and building a life with someone wildly opposite or not in the same place in life, is slim. And I'm thinking long-term; raising kids, keeping the marriage passionate and communication open, let alone relating to one another after 20 or 30 years, if going to be increasingly difficult once the initial shine wears off!

          • Delafina

            This is why I think it's really important to make that list, and then to try to find the *reason* for each thing on your list. What does that quality represent to you? A lot of things on the list may be shorthand or symbols for a quality behind the list item, and if you make the symbol your goal, rather than seeking out what it represents, you can end up finding out that it doesn't make you happy at all.

            Like I've mentioned elsewhere, I used to think that I could only be happy with someone highly educated. After I started working in the tech industry, with genius millionaire college dropouts who had wider experiences and interests than most people who stuck with college, and who were more well-read than I was, I realized that I had been assuming that staying in college meant that you valued learning, and that dropping out meant that you didn't. Now, in many — maybe even most — cases that's true. If you go get a master's degree or a PhD, you probably do value learning a lot. And a lot of people drop out of college because they'd rather be making money than learning, or they aren't self-disciplined, or whatever. But there are people with ravenous intellectual curiosity for whom college isn't the right place to satisfy it. I'd been substituting the symbol (advanced degree) for what I actually valued (curiosity, love of learning, wide interests), and consequently I'd been spending a lot of time with people who didn't make me happy.

            And if that symbol (their profession, their degree, etc.), rather than the qualities it represents, is deal-breaker-level important to you, it's important to ask why.

        • adambluth


          I don't think so, or at least I don't want to.

          And yes, if maintaining high standards for potential partners means you are exclusively attracted to those who meet or exceed them, then that's fine. It's when you aren't attracting those people, or if it is preventing you from dating at all, that it becomes an issue. Then it would be wise for you to, maybe only temporarily, revise them.

          "High standards" is not entirely synonymous with "unreasonable standards."

    • Commonly known as X

      I don't like the idea of leagues because its not always about a hierarchy, but I think people are going to have more difficulty finding sex or love when they want something they are not. For example, there was a link in the "Women like assholes" post, to a Tumblr of "women with assholes", and to me it all liked like young men with a certain type of aesthetic with young women of the same type of aesthetic. I'm not really into that look myself, it was mostly shirtless guys with fake tan, hair gel, and and a swaggering posture, but I could see why young women with the same aesthetic (skimpy tops, fake tan, elaborate style and a sexy pose) would be. Its like a Tumblr about hot goth chicks with jealous moaning about how they are all into weird looking guys with black hair dye and too much eyeliner.

      People who get caught up in disparate standards, whether biological or cultural, should recognise they are going to have a harder time finding their match. So, if someone is not conventionally gorgeous and they would only consider people with very high conventional standards of attractiveness, it may work out for them, but nobody wants to hear them whinging about how nobody ever gives them a chance. And if you are a nerd into Jersey Shore or cheerleader types, you have to recognise that opposites rarely attract. It might happen, but its going to be harder.

      • Tosca

        Like attracts like. I, a nerdy girl, can't be upset that the fake-tan-Jersey-boy type isn't into me. Because I'm not the female equivalent of that clique. Maybe I want to change myself (but that's a ton of work), but most likely I'd just as soon as not date those dudes. Even if magically I was able to find that special one who wanted me, I'd have to seriously think about whether we were suited to each other. Maybe we could be? But honestly, someone who clubs all the time (and multiple nights a week!), drinks and possibly does drugs, isn't the right guy for me no matter what he looks like.

        And this is why I see a lot of nerd girls accuse their nerdy brothers of pining for women who may not be right for them. Because if this Tumblr is to be believed, lots of guys pine for these women based on looks alone. They don't even care what else the woman has to offer them. They aren't willing to become Jersey boys or look at nerd girls, so they're pretty much SOL.

    • Mel

      If you have people constantly badgering you about being too picky, when your standards are reasonable (more on that next), I'd say you need to tell them to back off ("I think my standards are reasonable, and it really bothers me that you're trying to undermine them. Could we please not talk about this?") and if they keep badgering you anyway, they are not good people to have in your life and you should avoid them as much as possible, and if it's not very possible, avoid talking about dating with them. (Captain Awkward has a lot of great advice on dealing with people who badger–simply repeating "I'd rather not talk about that" and changing the subject over and over generally gets the point across before too long.)

      I think you know your standards are too low if they're not weeding out guys who you're unhappy with. If you're staying in a relationship, or continuing to pursue a guy/encourage a guy to pursue you even though he's doing things that make you unhappy more often than happy, then you need to raise your standards so that doesn't keep happening. (What is the point in being in a relationship if it's not generally making you happy, after all?) Knowing when your standards are too high is harder… I think if you're having trouble finding dates at all, the best thing to do is to lower your standards to only include the things you know are essential–you couldn't possibly be happy without them–and forget all the things you just figure would be nice for now. See what happens then. If you find you're open to more guys and thus getting more dates–and you're actually enjoying those dates even though the guys don't have certain qualities you thought you'd like to have in a partner–then you've discovered those standards weren't useful and you can chuck them for good. On the other hand, you might find that yes, you've tried dating guys who are X now, and like you thought you didn't end up enjoying spending time with them that much, so that standard should stay.

      I've never thought in terms of leagues. To me that's a weird value judgment. I don't think I'm a better or worse person than anyone else (in most cases–I think I'm a better person than the average mass murderer! 😉 ), I'm just different. I need to find people who fit well with me, not people who are of the right "quality" to deserve my attention.

    • Coley

      I think you might be talking about two different kinds of standards. For instance, Mel's examples above of "respectful of me (and of others)" is a very different kind of thing than "has to be a wealthy doctor." One standard is about who a person *is* and the other one is about what a person *does* and what kind of lifestyle they enjoy.

      I suppose most of us have standards about class/social status, since most of us end up with someone in the neighborhood of our own class (which sorta squicks out the idealistic side of me as I write this). But even if these social standards are really important to someone, they will still tell him/her very little about which wealthy doctor is going to be a good fit. I'm sure doctors are bad people/incompatible/some other bad thing at least at the same rate as the rest of us, so it would pay to make the distinction about what kind of standard are employed. And at some point, if someone narrows the field so much, they may have to make some less-than-ideal trade-offs between finding a person who they can have a satisfying emotional relationship with and someone who has the right resume.

      After all that, I'm realizing you can just replace DNL's "has a nice ass" kind of standard with "has a nice job/bank account."

      • Mel

        Yep. I think criteria like wealth and career are pretty much as superficial as appearances, because they tell you relatively little about how you'll actually get along with the other person. I mean, it's one thing to want someone who has *some* sort of money or job to support him/herself, which is reasonable unless you enjoy supporting someone else, and another to require a specific amount of money or a specific type career beyond that point.

        • Commonly known as X

          Also, “rich doctor” Is the kind of standard that is more likely to be psychological shorthand. I.e. it probably means “I want a boyfriend who is going to please my mother”, or “what I want is a luxurious lifestyle”. Possibly it means someone has a sexual fetish for white coats. And if its a shallow seeming sort of standard, I usually think that you could rewrite it to get what you really want without imposing such strict limit or deal with your issue outside a relationship. Like, maybe you could choose a boyfriend that doesn’t mind dressing up for you or get over dissapointing your family.

          • eselle28

            I think your interpretation of it is what works best for me. I'll admit I was squirming in this subconversation, because while I care about who someone *is*, there are also aspects about what a person *does* and what kind of lifestyle they choose that matter to me.

            But there are generally ways of paring that down a bit so that it doesn't limit the number of potential dates to a handful of people, and sometimes so that it ends up bringing back to someone's values and priorities.

          • Gentleman Johnny

            Wouldn't someone with a fetish for white coats also include Col. Sanders (or any Kentucky Colonel) on their list?

        • Mel, I tend to agree with you on a lot of issues here on DNL's site, but I don't agree with you here. This view is of "all you need is love" is completely unrealistic. Money is a stressor in relationships. I don't think it is unreasonable to be afraid to enter a long term relationship with someone who has low earning potential or has amassed a lot of debt. I know I am, and I am understanding of men who don't want to date me because I have student loans. If they marry me, then those loans are theirs as well. It is very difficult to be in a relationship with a huge financial inequality, because on the lower-earner side, there is discomfort with admitting you can't afford certain things, and on the higher-earner side, there is guilt about spending your money on activities that your partner can't afford.

          Personally, it's scary for me to enter a relationship with a man who is not able to provide for himself at around the level I provide for myself. Knowing myself, I will feel bad, and will start paying for his stuff as well, because I want to do the things I want to do with him, but that spirals out of control so quickly, and quickly tips the scales on my already precarious income-loans balance. Money is very stressful, especially at certain life junctions, and I think having the standard "I would like a man who would not add to my money stress" is not unreasonable.

          • Delafina

            I think this is very practical, given that money disagreements are the #1 cause of divorce.

          • Anonymoose47

            Thanks for bringing up money, that's actually something I wasn't thinking of that I could add to the "list."

          • Anon

            If your suitor was independently wealthy, would you also feel weird about it?

          • depending on how they displayed their wealth. I grew up middle class, it makes me uncomfortable when money is thrown around… I can't really help it, I've always been like that. I don't even like expensive gifts. I've dated wealthy men before, and every time it makes me feel really weird. So it would really have to depend on the person.

          • enail

            Fabulously wealthy is one of those things that's thrown around as a characteristic of a dream date, but in reality it could cause problems, or at least awkwardness. It would create a power imbalance, and just like with dating someone poorer than you, there are all kinds of questions about how who pays for what that can make for resentment, feelings of obligation, uneven ability to make relationship decisions etc.

          • Trooper6

            I know a woman who ended up with a guy who is independently wealthy…and it causes trouble in their relationship. She was raised to value working a lot and it really bothers her that this guy doesn't work. He just hangs out with his twin brother fooling around all day. She didn't realize it would bother her until after they got serious. But she keeps wanting him to get a respectable job and he keeps responding, "Why should I? I'm wealthy."

            I couldn't date someone who chose not to some sort of work. I expect to share household work with my partner, so I wouldn't be happy with a stay at home housewife/husband. If my partner was wealthy enough to do some sort of non-traditional thing they cared about: volunteerism, pursing painting, etc. that would be okay. But…they need to have something in their life that involves doing things with other people, including going to continuing education. *Something*

            This is not the same as having no job involuntarily. If you want a job but can't find one…no judgement there. Though I still would expect them to do *something* with their time besides lounging around the house in a bathrobe.

          • Delafina

            Totally dependent on how they used and presented their wealth. I have several extremely wealthy friends, and for the most part, hanging out with them is no different than hanging out with any of my other friends. We watch movies, we play games, we eat out, we go to sports events. They are people who use their wealth not to acquire status symbols, but to make themselves happy. They spend it on things that they genuinely love (for example, in the case of one couple, they have an amazing kitchen, because they love cooking, but they drive inexpensive cars, because they're not car enthusiasts), not things to show off. And they don't do anything to make their friends feel like any less than their equals. I think it helps that they made their own money — they didn't grow up wealthy. So, I could see dating someone like that and not having a problem with it. Someone who flaunted their money, or someone who grew up wealthy and didn't really have any sense of what it was like not to be wealthy, I don't think I could date.

      • Paul Rivers

        "After all that, I'm realizing you can just replace DNL's "has a nice ass" kind of standard with "has a nice job/bank account."

        haha, yeah, totally….

        • Tosca

          As in, both are equally stupid reasons to want to get into an LTR with someone?

          I agree!

    • Squirrel

      I generally just told anyone who claimed my standards were too high to sod off, but that was me.

      Frankly, one of the major advantages to writing down your standards is that it gives you an opportunity to justify those standards to yourself and figure out where your wiggle room is. I don't like smokers. I am allergic, so it's a big deal for me. But I have dated smokers who limited their smoking to Not Around Me and were careful about making sure they cleaned up afterwards. My list used to include "loves to read," but my husband isn't all that big of a reader. He likes to read, but prefers to get his geek on via visual media like movies and TV.

      Tim Minchin has a song called "If I Didn't Have You," in which he talks about how the woman he loves falls "within a bell curve." Figure out your bell curve, and go from there.

      • Mel

        I like your point about smokers–I think how the other person responds to your needs and interests is just as (if not more) important than whether they match them. e.g., Being an artistic person, I like being with someone who's interested in the arts too, but what's *really* important is that the guy respects the fact that *I'm* into the arts. I've dated a guy who was not only creative but also a writer, and that didn't work out in part because he insisted on mocking the particular genre I write in on a regular basis. My husband doesn't write, but he respects the fact that I do and encourages it. I'd take the latter over the former any day.

        • I think your argument can just be summarized as "I prefer men who are not assholes to me". Which I think is a great standard. Cheers.

      • Tosca

        My Old List:
        -passionate, romantic
        -into art and music
        -likes video games and geeky stuff I do

        The guy I married:
        -is VERY kind. Yay!
        -Buuuut, he is not passionate or romantic. Oh, sure, he loves me very much. But he doesn't express it in the typical "flowers and candy" way. Nor with purple prose. He's pretty stoic.
        -Not really into art or music. Maybe a little? I'm the one with the art books, the full iPod, and piles of burnt CDs. He has like, 10 CDs that he's had for years.
        -He is very intellectual. Yay! One thing I love about him is he's not a d-bag about it, either. He has no arrogance or superiority about his brilliance. I can talk to him about anything and he never makes me feel like I'm below his level. (I'm smart, but he's like, HOLY SHIT brilliant).
        -He likes video games only ok, and his geeky stuff isn't like my geeky stuff. I'm more likely to play tabletop RPGs, write fanfiction and draw comics, spend a day playing video games. He likes to build models, watch historical documentaries, experiment with cooking, and solve mundane household problems with MacGuyver solutions.
        -He is an atheist and liberal-friendly, something I never even had on my old list but would definitely be on a New List should I ever be single again.

        Soooo, I guess he matches in lots of ways but not at all in others. Lists shouldn't be set in stone. Sometimes people surprise you!

    • OldBrownSquirrel

      Just as there are two different roles, approaching and being approached, there are two different sets of standards. For those approaching, whom do you approach? For those being approached, whose approach is welcomed? Most of the comments seem to focus on what standards to apply to those doing the approaching, typically men; there hasn't been much about the standards applied to those being approached, typically women. The notion of "league" can be applied by anyone, and if a man gets the impression that a woman is above his "league," or at the very least suspects that she perceives herself as such, he can cut his losses early, effectively anticipating her standards, possibly incorrectly. For those doing the approaching, I don't think there's a sense of someone being "below" their "league;" it's more a matter of personal tastes and what they consider attractive, without universally recognized objective standards. Men who prefer blondes might preferentially approach blondes, whereas men who prefer brunettes might preferentially approach brunettes, without thinking in terms of "league." Physical appearance is a major criterion in part because it's something that can be evaluated very quickly in a face-to-face meeting, especially when deciding which of several people to approach, whereas less superficial qualities aren't evident at first glance; consequently, to the extent that perceived "league" carries any *immediate* weight, it only influences the approacher to the extent that it's visually evident. A man with little money, for example, might see a woman wearing expensive clothing, jewelry, cosmetics, accessories, etc. as being out of his league. I've previously described my perception (which some characterize as flawed) that women in heels are tacitly expressing a preference for taller men, and shorter men might see such women as being out of their league; taller women are likewise likely to receive less attention from shorter men, as there's a widespread perception that many women feel entitled to men their height or taller and are seldom willing to settle for less. There are some contexts in which "league" is obvious and directly comparable; a man who's overweight will probably have better luck with women who are similarly overweight (and less luck with women who are less overweight or not overweight at all), and if he doesn't like it, he can try to lose weight. I suspect that one of the reasons both men and women often do what they can to appear younger is that it allows them to be attractive to younger partners. There are other contexts where qualities are generally evident, but men and women aren't so easily directly compared to each other: male pattern baldness, breast size, etc. It's not always obvious how to adjust standards in these cases, since few women are bald and most men are relatively flat-chested. There are contexts where "league" is generally less immediately evident but still directly comparable between men and women: level of education, conversational skills, etc. Those might cause one party or the other to cut a conversation (or date) short if a mismatch becomes evident. Recognizing membership (or lack thereof) in a common subculture (goth/Jersey shore/stoner/body modification/etc.) isn't quite the same as "league," which is generally seen as describing quantitative (or at least rankable) differences rather than qualitative differences. Religion (or lack thereof) is similar but is often less obvious than subculture; atheists in particular don't really have traditional clothing or jewelry. I'd expect atheists and non-co-religionists to be less likely to approach someone wearing specific religious jewelry, though. Sports fandom works much the same as religion.

      • HighDesertABQ

        My interpretation of this particular Nerdlove article was that it was meant more for men/approachers and that it was specifically trying to help with having standards other than appearance. So the comparing of physical attributes strikes me as beside the point (of this post). I thought DNL was sort of saying "hey guys, set aside what she looks like entirely, and tell me what sort of PERSON you would want to date."

      • Becelec

        "I've previously described my perception (which some characterize as flawed) that women in heels are tacitly expressing a preference for taller men, and shorter men might see such women as being out of their league"

        I'd just like to reiterate that this idea is not flawed, this is flat out wrong. I doubt there is a single woman in the world who wears heels for this purpose. It absolutely has nothing to do with advertising what kind of man you are interested in. Absolutely nothing.

      • Camelopardalis

        "I've previously described my perception (which some characterize as flawed) that women in heels are tacitly expressing a preference for taller men,"

        Flawed does not even begin to describe this. Mostly she is expressing a preference for high heels. If there is any message to men in that, it's probably that she has a preference for men who like her in high heels.

        "and shorter men might see such women as being out of their league; taller women are likewise likely to receive less attention from shorter men, as there's a widespread perception that many women feel entitled to men their height or taller and are seldom willing to settle for less. "

        There's also a widespread unwillingness on the part of short men to date women who are taller than they are. In other words, it's not all coming from the women.

      • Trooper6

        OldBrownSquirrel, even though you and I are both "old," we don't inhabit the world the same way at all.

        You said: "Just as there are two different roles, approaching and being approached, there are two different sets of standards."

        Just as I don't subscribe to the conquest model of sex (where guys "get some" and women "give it up") I also think the approacher/approached binary doesn't have to be that way. And thinking exclusively in those terms can bring up the sorts of weird attitudes and resentments about men and women that are neither healthy, nor helpful in getting the kinds of relationships I'm interested in, a relationship between equals.

        So, while there have been times I've been the approacher, or the approached, generally I see interactions as mutual. A person and I are talking together, getting to know each other together, flirting together. At some point it becomes clear that we both want to a) see each other more later and/or b) make out right now. Perhaps we just start making out. Perhaps one says do you want to grab coffee…but it doesn't matter who actually asks, and asking doesn't make you the approacher, because in this situation, everything is mutual. Both parties are enthusiastic and dancing together.

        I see dating and relationships not as one person chasing another, but two people dancing together. It makes me a much less bitter person, a much less entitled person, a much more relaxed person, a much more secure person, and it means most of my relationships have been really awesome.

        If I wanted to date a sort of person invested heavily in 1950's gender roles, then my approach wouldn't work, but I don't want to date those people.

        • OldBrownSquirrel

          My understanding is that it's expected that guys will make the first move, and if a woman doesn't express sufficiently enthusiastic positive feedback, then that's a hint that the guy should go away lest he be thought a creep; in practice, that means women are expected to make the second move. That seems to be the dance you're describing, more or less, or at least the first few moves of the dance. It's very unusual for women to make a first move, though, even in this day and age (I'm told it has to do with concerns about strong, possibly violent negative reactions from men who are unaccustomed to being approached), and when it happens, either it's an exceptionally hot guy (i.e. most guys shouldn't hold their breath waiting for this to happen to them) or an especially forward woman or both. I'd expect women to have better luck with this approach than men, in large part because most men, unlike many women, aren't sick and tired of being approached; that being the case, I'd expect the especially forward women not to remain single very long, especially since they have their pick of the men who are too beaten down to approach women.

          The fact that men are effectively obliged to make the first move and that women feel more at liberty to express an interest (or lack thereof) once that first move has been made is one of the reasons so many men casually approach so many strange women. Even if not many women respond positively, enough do so to make it worthwhile for those men, and the immense number of women approached and occasional positive result reduces the emotional stakes for the men. It's why women are approached on trains and buses, among other places. It's why women on dating sites are flooded with brief, meaningless copy-and-paste messages. These are guys who are making a purely nominal first move for the sake of giving interested women who are unwilling to make a first move the opportunity to make a second move. I'm reluctant to go that route, mostly because it seems dickish to bother that many women who aren't interested just for the sake of finding the vanishingly small number who are, though I'd be much more comfortable trying something like that on a dating site than on a train. Really, it sucks for everybody (except hot men, as previously discussed).

          • Trooper6

            It isn't 1950, though some people still live in the 1950s–but I don't want to date them.

            I long ago let go of the approacher/approachee mind set. That mindset leads to relationship dynamics I don't like. So, I don't chase people (because who wants to chase people who are running away, even if they are doing it with passive-aggressive come hither looks).

            I have conversations *with* people. Together. As regular human beings. A human being I don't know if I am romantically interested in yet, because I don't know that person yet. A human being I assume also doesn't know if they are romantically interested in me yet, because they don't know me yet. We just have a conversation. Or we have a dance. Or whatever.

            I don't get beaten down, because I don't think of this as combat. I think of this as two people interacting together. And I never get called a creep. And I even talk to people on buses and trains…not as often, because there are rarely people who seem interesting enough in a bus/train context to have a conversation with. But it has happened. Heck, one time I saw a neat looking woman on a bus, commented on a tattoo that had an insider reference…turned out we were both veterans and she was shipping out the next day. I helped her pack up her stuff and we had lovely sex on the floor of her empty apartment. But I also didn't go into that conversation "hitting on" her, or with any expectation other than I wanted to let her know that I got the inside joke of her tattoo. I will also talk to kids on the bus and old ladies, anyone really.

            I go into interactions open and without ulterior motives. I don't "hit on" people (why would I hit on a complete stranger–who could be a psycho?)–I have a conversation with people and learn about them. And I have has just as many people (women and men) say the first phrase to me as I say the first phrase to them.

            I think letting go of the idea the "saying hello"=="hitting on" will save a lot of drama in the long run.

  • Tosca

    It's hard to get out of that low self esteem, "what do I have to offer anyone" mindset, but it is essential. When you meet people, whether friends or romantic interests, really ask yourself, "Do I even really like this person? Do they add value into my life?" instead of "Gee, I should just be grateful they want to hang out with a loser like me." You are WORTH having quality friends/lovers!

    Doing this means there are a lot fewer shitheels in your life you have to put up with.

    And about being desperate, guys. I love shy, nerdy boys a lot, but anyone too desperate would send me running. Here's why: a woman can never be sure if she's dating the Glom-On, NEVER LET YOU GO kind of guy. They can edge into stalker territory, though it rarely dangerous with this type of guy, just very annoying. I've known a few guys like this in prior friend circles. So desperate for female attention they are, that they actually drove away girls who LIKED them by glomming on WAY too hard and fast. The girl would run, and rightfully so.

    • Mel

      Yes to this, completely. And to your last paragraph, I think DNL makes a good point that part of the problem with desperate attention is it doesn't feel personal. If a guy I was only just getting to know glommed on to me and got serious really fast, he might think it should be flattering that he's showing so much attention and devotion, but to me it would feel like it has nothing to do with me, because he hardly even knows *me* yet. So it clearly would be much more about him and his wants and needs than me personally. It's hard to feel flattered by that.

      • Tosca

        OMG yes, especially with nerds suffering from One-itis! At first it might seem sweet, but having someone base their ENTIRE LIFE and mental health on YOU is very scary!!

        • eselle28

          Yeah, that is not fun in the slightest. Also not fun is if when the desperado eventually runs into a second person who finds them attractive – the first one falls off the pedestal awfully quickly, since "willing to give me a shot" was often the only thing underlying the relationship.

  • Mel

    *women having standards

  • Mike

    Wow. What a wake up call.

    I've known about this site for a few days but hadn't had the chance to take a read yet. This is the first article I've read and you really struck a tone with me.

    You described me perfectly in the first paragraph of the Low Standards section. Socially inept, rejected time and again, willing to take in anyone that would accept me. It's not a pleasant place to be. But I've never thought how that makes me look to others. It explains so many things. I've tried the online dating thing a few times and it's always the same. Browse girls. Find a girl that sounds fun. Flirt with girl. Meet girl. Tell yourself you enjoyed the date(s). Girl stops returning calls.

    I've always wondered why every single girl would stop returning my calls seemingly out of the blue. I "thought" we were having a good time, but I was just telling myself that. It never dawned on me how obvious it must have been that I was just "going through the motions" just trying to find anyone that would accept me. My list of "must haves" essentially contained one item: "Someone who talks to me".

    Thank you for finally explaining to me what I've been doing wrong. I never knew why those girls stopped seeing me. I thought it cruel and unfair that they wouldn't have the decency to at least tell me where things went wrong. But now I know.

    • Camelopardalis

      Frankly, Mike, what I get from your post is that you have found one more motion to go through, and this one will be the one that works for you. I can't tell you why every girl stopped returning your calls out of the blue, no more than I can tell you why every guy stopped returning my calls out of the blue. I can tell you for sure that it was not necessarily about you. It is cruel and unfair that you don't get to know the exact reason, but you can't get mired in that. If you keep assuming that it was always something you did wrong and that you have discovered what that was and expect things to change significantly once you stop "going through the motions", you will swiftly descend into bitterness as girls continue to fade away for reasons that likely have little to do with you. Change your standards, fine. Keep working on being the person who YOU like, yes. Also work on accepting that some girls are going to fade away for reasons known only to themselves, and it's not always about you.

  • Anonymoose47

    A Low Standards Q:

    How can you tell if it is low standards or not? I remember doing this in a previous comment section, and being told that all I was doing was finding negatives to disqualify… and when it came to positives or "what I wanted", there wasn't much specific I could figure out.

    • Commonly known as X

      What does your list look now after all this? Has it been helpful?

      • Anonymoose47

        Both has been and hasn't been. I feel pretty strongly about some things I don't want, but "wants" are pretty wide open and I'm not remotely sure what qualifies as a "need."

        • enail

          Maybe start with pretty basic things like "treats me with respect'? Things where you'd worry about a friend if they were dating someone who didn't have those qualities. You can consider things that would make it impossible to have a relationship or difficult to spend a lot of time in close quarters. "is monogamous/poly" or "shares my religious beliefs/athieism/ability to get on respectfully with people of a different religion" "non-smoker"?

          How about the qualities or interests that make you comfortable with a person, the ones that make you enjoy time with them, eg "values intelligence " or "prefers an amount of alone time compatible with the amount I prefer," "gets my sense of humour."

          I think it's okay to just make a list without worrying too much about which are wants and which needs, and then decide over time what's the most important to you.

        • Tosca

          Needs: I would start with even more real base level stuff. For example, could you date a woman who was religious? How religious? Or non-religious?
          What about politics? What is your comfort threshhold?
          Does she smoke or not? What are her practices around alcohol and drugs? Does it match yours?
          Is she diligent about her money, or do you prefer a more relaxed attitude?
          Do you want kids? Would she? Would you be open to dating a woman with kids already?
          What's your sexual style? It can be hard to say, as a virgin, but are you comfortable exploring kink? More vanilla? Would you be ok with sex a few times a week? Every day? (Keep in mind sex fluctuates over a long relationship; there's dry spells, especially with kids, and periods of hot, weasel-like screwing, so don't fret too much over this part. 🙂 )

          These are very core compatibility questions that a lot of divorces happen over.

          Mine would look like:
          -must be center or left-leaning
          -casual smokers ok, social drinkers ok (no clubbers or barflys), no drugs
          -needs to be more relaxed about money, but not so relaxed that he spends it all or makes foolish decisions. No giant debt; school loans ok. No prior bankruptcies.
          -I have a kid, so he'd have to be ok with that. I also don't want any more bio kids, so he'd have to be ok with that too. He can have kids, but I'd be extremely observant and cautious about his relationships with his ex and kids.
          -Sex? Well, I won't say too many details, except to say that the guy who wants it "every day" or multiple times a day (!) is going to be too much for me to handle. :/

          Notice how I made these requirements without agonizing over whether a loser like me deserves to dare ask for it! See that's where the confidence to declare basic preferences will help you. It will make it less likely that you will "bend" them and be unhappy. "Gee, he's awfully right leaning and I think he goes to church, also he talks to his ex a lot late at night, but I guess he's nice and I don't really deserve better. Who am I to judge him, he's willing to date loser me, etc" NO! This can only lead to misery.

          Come on, Anonymoose, make your list!
          It's fun! 😀

          • Anonymoose47

            I'll give it a shot.

        • Kira

          I had a bunch of friends who repeatedly told me that the guy I was dating wasn't worth my time, and/or that I was too good for so-and-so, or ask if I wouldn't maybe be happier with someone who could keep up with me in terms of X. Essentially telling me my standards were too low. That was what did it for me.

          In the end, what worked for me personally was two-pronged: First, having a fairly extensive list, but being flexible about nearly all of them. Like, pretty much anyone could be interesting with a sufficient minimum aggregation of things that mattered. Second, being unwilling to put up with any of my very few dealbreakers at all, the minute they appeared.

          With time, I became fairly practiced at being flexible in considering possibilities, but quick to exit in the face of early problems and immovable about dealbreakers. I guess I had a more or less superficial willingness to check anything out, combined with a core stubbornness that I was going to know it when I saw it. And for all the wackily out-there stuff I considered, the guy I ended up with is far more perfect for me than I possibly ever hoped.

        • Juuuuuulia

          I think it's also helpful to decide what sort of thing you'd like to spend your time doing together. Do you want to go outside once in a while? Do you want to hang out in groups? Do you want to go to events or museums and conventions? Do you just ALWAYS want to be cuddling and watching a movie every night? Also how much time/space do you need to yourself? Those are all useful. ^_^

  • Alberich

    "Nobody found everlasting happiness by saying “Well, I guess I’ll take what I can get”."

    I'm glad the good doctor provided a counterpoint to this in the article's last section. "Settling" certainly qualifies as making a decision regarding what you want. You can even decide to settle for being alone and still find happiness.

  • Gman

    This post comes at an amazing timing – because I JUST had a conversation with a friend of mine about what it is that I am looking for in a girl.

    To sum the conversation up – I realized that I am looking for a "friends with benefits" situation. The reason to this is that because I am inexperienced with barley a dozen dates and a few makeout sessions under my belt, I realized that I am not ready for something fully committing and serious. I feel like that the moment I start dating someone on a regular basis and once I get to experience sex, then things would become much more clearer to me. So, for now at least, I believe that finding some cool girl that I can hang-out with and enjoy having interesting conversations with and just having fun, while also enjoying the physical/romantic/intimate side of things, but without feeling committed to the relationship, is exactly what I need.

    The meaning of "without feeling committed to the relationship", is that I am still being monogamous (notice I didn't write "open" relationship) but I don't want to feel like I'm doing something because I "must" or because "that's what society expects of me" or because "I'm getting older and if I don't get to experience sex/relationship as soon as possible, I will be doomed to be forever alone". I also realized that I had that dangerously toxic mindset (the one about becoming forever alone) for a while and that I simply need to be at ease and find someone who I like and can connect to on an emotional and physical level.

    Plus, I just quickly notched down a 10 list of things I am looking for – 5 were critical things and 5 were "recommended" things. It also helped me feel a little bit more focused and less anxious/nervous about relationships in general.

  • Mike

    So, I'm trying to make my list and I'm running into a problem…

    There's this girl (isn't there always?) that I've had my eye on. She's a coworker, and we've held a variety of social statuses together… anyways that's not the point.

    My problem in making this list is that I continue to pick out qualities that she has. It's like I've already decided she's perfect for me, so any girl must have the same qualities as her. I know that can't be true, or at least it's highly improbable to be true.

    So how do I filter out what *I* really want versus what I like about *her*? I'm having a very hard time drawing that line.

    • Delafina

      You do that by really thinking through the things you put on your list and asking yourself why you care about them, and if they're really what you think they are. I used to think "educated" was a criterion for me, but I realized that for me, that actually means "curious" and "likes learning new things."

      And part of it is just experience. You learn what really matters to you by spending time with people who have qualities on your list and finding out that you don't actually enjoy hanging out with them, or by being surprised at a quality that makes you happy that you didn't realize was important to you. As you get more experience, you also learn to abstract what makes you happy into qualities you care about.

    • eselle28

      I agree with Delafina that some of this is a matter of trial and error. I've dated lots and lots and lots of people, and I still tend to praise the traits I currently find most amazing in whoever I'm into at the moment the most highly, even if other people I've happily dated haven't always had them. Being aware of the joys of infatuation can help things in check all by itself.

      Beyond that, a good starting point for a "list" is to think of things you think you need in general from people who are close to you. As an example, I need frequent small and occasional large blocks of time to read or daydream. I get along better with family members or roommates who can accept that I'll give them plenty of attention otherwise, but who aren't inclined to pout I go to my room with a book in my hand. So, my list would probably include an item saying "Independent; either a fellow introvert or a more outgoing person with an involving hobby that he doesn't expect me to join him in." Romantic relationships obviously have even more things to consider, but I do think the basic "person I'm going to spend a lot of time around" guidelines apply and should be considered.

  • Delafina

    Sounds like you work in hell. 🙁 If you don't already have them, seek out friends who aren't your coworkers, because your coworkers sound awful.

    • Anonymoose47

      Most guys are like this.

      • Delafina

        Having had ratios ranging from 12 men: 1 woman to 50 men: 1 woman in my workplaces, with 90% of my friends being of the male persuasion, I am reasonably confident that this is not true.

        • Anonymoose47

          You're right. Had a negative behaviourial slip, carry on.

          • Delafina

            Good on you for recognizing it!

          • enail

            But also, man, I really hope you can get to know some people that don't suck as much as that soon!

  • Alberich

    I would be a-maize-d if that particular prejudice were reduced.

    • AFC1001

      Oh, now that's just corny.

  • The Mikey

    Some of these comments make my head and my heart hurt, mainly Rivers (sorry dude, but you give me sad vibes even through my monitor).

    Anyways, the phrase, “I’ll take whatever I can get", I realize now is kinda silly. How can one take whatever he can get if he can't get jack-shit? *shrug*

    I dunno. As for me, well I just need to get better at approaching (still). Gettin' better… gettin' better, I just need to figure out what to say beyond a "Hey, what's yer name?" Plus expressing that "Hey I think you're cute, wanna go out sometime?" Without sounding like a gorram creeper. Or am I just getting ahead of myself? 😛

    • Tosca

      I highly suggest! Find a good, mixed gender group doing something you like to do. When you're in a group, the pressure of "approaching" is cut down. There's lots of new people at Meetups, so you won't be alone. You might have to go a few times, but it's a nice, no pressure way to meet women who are into what you're into.

      • The Mikey

        Ahhh!, we meet again. I was going to go to a D&D Meetup a long time ago. But I was about 16 at the time plus a lot of the people attending were a lot older than me (like in their mid-30’s). So I thought it would have been weird. Of course at the time I wasn’t looking for that. <_< I can check it out but I dunno I've always been wary of online meetings/meet ups/dating. I dunno why the idea of online dating makes really uncomfortable, strange dilemma I got isn't it?

        I've said it before and I'll say it again I can talk to people just fine, men & women but when it comes to women I personally find attractive is when it falls apart and I have trouble approaching. But like I said earlier I'm getting better at it, just haven't asked anyone put yet from a cold approach. Which I realize now is prolly a bad idea and I get why getting a conversation going would help.

        I have no idea what I'm doing. 😀

        • Tosca

          Aww, I totally get it! It took me WEEKS to get up the stones to actually try Meetup. And I wasn't even trying to meet romantic partners, just new friends.

          But the beauty of it is the activity will do a lot to break the ice. For example, if you were in my gaming group and there was a woman who you thought was attractive at our table, you wouldn't have to worry about approaching her or even having conversation. You'd just play the game, laugh and have fun, and gradually get more comfortable. And sometimes after our meetups, we hang after or go out for a couple drinks (schedule permitting), so it's the perfect, low-pressure IN!

          • The Mikey

            Nowadays I'm not too shy about that kind of stuff, after all, through the Doc I've learned about privilege & what have you. So it probably won't suck, nor be very awkward since I'm teetering on the edge of 21 pretty soon (bars, yay). Plus, I mentioned in another comment on another article that I can almost win-over anyone (and I have). As for friends, I dunno, I got a pretty wide circle of friends.

            As for breaking the ice using the games as common ground, yeah, that's awesome I've done it and I've made some new acquaintances/friends from that. Unfortunately, you never know if the girls/women that attend are single or not if you find one that tickles your fancy through all the gaming.

            For example I went to a games day (which wasn't a meetup, but rather a gaming event) looking to demo a new game a of Risk, and play Warhammer. I did all that and was later playing Cards Against Humanity with these three other girls. We were laughing it up, having a grand time, though there was one girl who caught my eye in particular. I was gonna make a conscious effort to talk to her a little more but before I even got to do that (and I didn't get a chance to say anything to the girl in question anyways), she said to her friend across from her that "I'm getting this game to play with my husband and his friends." So in my head I'm saying "Aw crap" and moved on. It's a tricky, I'll be honest.

            But I'm getting better at approaching, just need to figure out what to say beyond a "Hi, what's your name?" when meeting a cute girl for the first time outta the blue (I've done that too!).

          • Tosca

            Oh that's definitely true, man. But it is that way out in the world too. You never know who is married or has a boyfriend/girlfriend. Or, hell, if they are even straight!
            Although, they do have "singles" meetups, and sometimes even "single geeks" if you're lucky. It'll up your odds, anyway.
            Even in the bar scene. I know I've gone to bars with friends, and I wasn't available any of those times.
            Good luck!

          • Dr_NerdLove

            There's a reason why I have a search function on this site ya know.

          • The Mikey

            Oh I read that one, looks like I need to read it again. Thanks, Doc.

          • Delafina

            If you have an FLGS (friendly local game store) that hosts events and women show up, that's a great way to meet women. And making new female friends, if they're taken, can be a good way to meet single women (if you like the interests/values/priorities of one of your female friends who's in a relationship, there's a higher-than-average chance that her friends share some of those interests/values/priorities and some of them may be single).

            Games are great icebreakers because beyond asking people's names, you can then talk about the game, which gets you past the awkward stage after introductions.

            As far as figuring out whether they're single, ask. But first, you need to not have a ton invested in the answer. Think of it as asking something low-investment, like whether a restaurant you want to try is still open. If the answer is "no," you might be slightly disappointed, but you're not going to be crushed. Then just ask: "Hey, if you're not seeing anyone, would you like to go out for coffee some time?" "Sorry, I'm married." (smile) "Ok, just had to ask! Have you played the new Game of Thrones board game yet?"

            Getting rejected doesn't have to be a big deal, it doesn't have to be awkward, and it doesn't even have to end a good conversation. But I think it pays to ask as soon as you realize you're interested. If you spend time working yourself up, you get more and more emotionally invested in the question — and the answer. Ask when you're still in the stage of realizing "Oh, she's cute and I like talking to her!" but before it gets to "OMG, SHE IS AMAZING!!!"

          • The Mikey

            There is a game store nearby, I'll check it out later to see if they have gaming events. I've also actually thought about asking a female friend of mine if any of her sorority sisters were single (she's also rather geeky). 😛

            Makes sense that the games are excellent ice breakers because afterwards we can talk about what made us lose, or what we could have done better in the game, etc. The list goes on when talking about the game, so I agree, games make great ice breakers.

            Also holy shit, you're a genius. 😛 No, seriously I never would have thought about "Hey, if you're not seeing anyone, would you wanna go out for XYZ". I honestly would never have thought of that, and I do believe I've made the mistake of being a little too invested/waiting too long. Then that's another problem I've always had, is determining how soon is too soon once I do figure that I'm interested.

            In the case of rejection, it hurts, but it's not so bad. But for some reason things do get awkward even if I didn't make a big deal out of it, but later things go back to normal sort of. *shrug*

          • HighDesertABQ

            One of the best traits a person can have in meeting people to start dating is the ability to shrug off a rejection or approach without making things too weird. Like, just feel the awkwardness for a couple seconds and then turn the conversation in a different direction and not make it a big deal.

          • The Mikey

            I've definitely done that, actually. Granted I did "approach" when the girls in question weren't busy anymore, but I did it! The awkwardness was minimal because they were leaving anyways, but they were smiling from ear to ear when I did approach them so to speak.

            I always try to treat rejection as a non-issue.

  • Tosca

    Oh, dude, gross. What Delafina said. That's not professional in the least. Even if you weren't a virgin, there is NO REASON to share your personal details at the workplace. That is inappropriate. It could also leave you wide open for bad stuff, lawsuit-and-hostile-workplace-wise. Better that you remain mum.

    Just reading this made me want to rescue you and take you to our Cards Against Humanity game night, where the people are cool and don't treat others like trophies or conquests.

    • Robert

      Cards Against Humanity? I am perplexed and intrigued.

      • Kira
        • Is it just me or does it remind you of Apples to Apples but with questions?

          • Kira

            Never played Apples to Apples myself, so no data.

          • Squirrel

            It's pretty much exactly like Apples to Apples. Only for really, really horrible people. Which is why my friends and I all love it. 😀

        • Robert

          Haha! I have got to try this out!

      • Delafina

        Are you a snarky GenXer or millennial? Are you a participant in internet culture? Are you social? Have you no shame?

        If you answered yes to all of these questions, Cards Against Humanity ("a party game for horrible people") is for you.

        (Seriously, I laughed so hard while playing that my abs were sore the next day.)

  • Thortok2000

    Twenty non-physical aspects, hmm? Let's see. In no particular order…

    Too long, splitting into 10 and 10.

    1. She needs to be kind. I want someone who knows how to be gentle, how to be compassionate. I want someone who can be nice and sweet the majority of the time.

    2. But not too sweet. She needs some sarcasm. I want someone witty enough to keep me on my toes and laughing. Being sarcastic without being bitter will help add some spice to the sugar-sweetness.

    3. She needs some intelligence. If I'm constantly confusing her or if she's slow to understand things, it makes me feel lonely and disconnected from her. I want someone who can 'partner' me on the intellectual level. (Intelligence does not mean knowledge, having different knowledge sets is interesting.)

    4. I have to understand her. I don't need to 'get' everything about her, and I love a woman who's unpredictable, but although I may not have guessed ahead of time what she would do, being able to understand why after the fact is important to me.

    5. She needs to be able to communicate. This definitely helps with me understanding her. To an extent it helps with her understanding me.

    6. She needs to be able to write well. I communicate well in written form and I find that people who have good writing skills have good communication skills. Nothing turns me off faster when meeting a woman online than if she can't type.

    7. She needs to take initiative. I don't want the kind of woman that waits for other stuff to happen and then reacts. I want the kind of woman that does stuff and then watches to see what the reaction is. (I don't take as much initiative as I should and she needs to be okay with that, although I hope she rubs off on me.)

    8. She needs to be positive. Again, I'm not as positive as I should be and I hope she rubs off on me, but it's much harder for me to be positive if the other person is negative. I have enough of my own negativity, I don't need someone bringing me down, I want someone bringing me up, and who I want to bring up too. I want someone who smiles easily and naturally.

    9. Our sex drives need to be similar. I don't want either of us to feel unsatisfied and I'd rather not open the relationship.

    10. She has to be into D/s, and be submissive. Now whether that's only in the bedroom or what, up to her. I'd also be okay with a switch that submits to me and doms others (non-sexually).

    • Thortok2000

      11. Our kink interests need to match. I lean more towards 'gentle but cruel' rather than 'rough and painful.' I'm flexible though and willing to meet my partner's needs; she needs to be, too.

      12. Our outdoor interests need to match. I don't mind camping, hiking, maybe even some heavier stuff like mountain bike riding, white water rafting, and maybe even try some stuff I haven't tried before like hang gliding or something. But this isn't my 'normal' state and I would be up for doing these things maybe once or twice a month at most. Someone who's much more active than me in an outdoor way, I'd either feel like I was being pulled out of my comfort zone or that she only has fun when she's not with me. If her outdoor interests are significantly more than mine, I won't feel compatible with her.

      13. Must be okay with cats. One day I want a cat of my own, at least one. I'm not crazy about dogs, depends on the dog, but I can handle it if it's her dog and not 'ours.' Possibly other animals, we'd have to talk about it.

      14. Must be okay with me spending long amounts of time playing video games. Preferably participating, playing with me or watching me play them. But could also be she does something on her own, surf the net, read a book, knit, go out with friends, whatever, while I have my game time. I'm always willing to put down the game if she needs my attention, of course, I won't use it as an excuse or tool to ignore her, but she needs to respect the focus I have when gaming and either join in with me or just let me have my time and not distract me from it. It would be more fun to share it with her, though!

      15. I'd also like someone I can cuddle with, read books aloud to, watch movies or TV on the couch with.

      16. Our taste in music should be compatible. Not a hard limit, but please don't assault my ears! About the only things I know I don't like are most rap, hip-hop, country, blues, and heavy metal (although even those have some songs I like, just most that I don't). Anything that's too far from rock and pop, basically. =P

      17. She has to accept that I'm an atheist. I don't have anything against Christian women, but, I don't think I'd have anything in common with someone who was really religious. Religion just isn't something in my life, and it's not a passion I can understand or empathize with very much.

      18. Needs to be affectionate. I have a high degree of affection and I'm very touchy-feely and love to be with someone who is too. Holding hands, kissing in public (when/where appropriate), cuddling, all that good stuff.

      19. Has to be passionate about something. Great if she's a bit of a geek, into anime, video games, stuff like that. Should have a quick and easy answer for "What are you a fan of?"

      20. Not have kids. Wasn't sure if I was going to include this one or not, but I'm out of ideas for what else to put. I've dated women with kids and they've been some of the best dates, but for something long term, I'm not sure how I feel about it and it would be easier to just not have to worry about it.


      So how's that? Are my standards too high? It was tough coming up with that many.

      Edit: Looking through a couple posts reminded me I also prefer someone who doesn't smoke, do drugs, drink, or curse. I can bend a little on the drinking and cursing as long as it's not too much, but smoking and drugs are a hard limit.

      • HighDesertABQ

        I think your standards look great. I love that you put kindness in the first position. Your standards sound like you really know who you are and what sort of person you'd like to share your life with. And I think that's really what DNL was getting at.

      • You dislike blues?!?!?! Blasphemer!!

        • Thortok2000

          Blues are depressing! Great music though. As long as I don't actually listen to the words I'm alright on blues songs, usually.

          Problem is I like variety and about the only time I get to listen to blues is when it's only blues. A blues song now and then wouldn't be so bad, maybe.

          • Trooper6

            Note from your resident Musicologist:

            The blues are not all about sadness. There is a very huge portion of the blues (especially early blues), are not sad at all, rather sexy/saucy/funny.

            Songs like "My Daddy Rocks Me With A Steady Roll," "It's Tight Like That," "I'm No Man's Mama Now." None of those are sad songs. There are so many songs about jelly rolls in sugar bowls or women wanting their coffee ground by there man's coffee grinder…and so on.

            If you go to Chicago Electric Blues, there is a lot of strutting and swagger songs. "I've Got My Mojo Working," "Hoochie-Coochie Man," and so on. There are bunches of blues that are upbeat and driving.

            Just so you know!

          • Yes! I'm a huge blues fan! and Blues is one of my fave types of music to play on the guitar! It doesn't have to be sad, just usually has to be in a minor chord.

      • enail

        Great standards! It's smart that for some of them you note ways in which these could be flexible – that seems helpful to remind you of the real point of this list – finding someone you can be happy in a relationship (etc?) with. And you seem to have considered your reasons very thoughtfully so that you can probably evaluate unexpected issues that come up and decide whether they're a problem for you based on what you've already thought about.

      • I'd do a lot of thinking about the D/s thing. It's definitely something you want compatibility with – but it takes a LOT of trust for a woman to be willing to sub for someone. (Many? Most?) of the female subs in the larger D/s scene have experiences where guys decide not to respect their boundaries, often after a scene is started and they're not in a position to just stop and go home. Stories range from unwanted gropings to flat-out rape. Any female sub with any experience in the BDSM community will have a giant twitchy trigger around "MALE DOM" and you'll need to be extra-careful not to push it. If you find someone who is already into BDSM, great, but do consider the possibility of finding someone vanilla and teaching them what you like.

      • Ghost

        There's a couple instances where you express the hope that some of her characteristics will rub off on you – might want to put those feelings under a magnifying glass, because it sounds like there might be a bit of Manic Pixie Dream Girl in there, like you're looking for a girl to do the heavy lifting for you… (That, and I don't know if sweet-nice-positive and *sarcastic* happens too often outside of twee indie love interests.) Looking for support is fine, but the initiative-taking and positive outlook should be things you're already building for yourself, you know?

        Otherwise, your list is pretty admirable – you know what you want, and they're overall good and healthy traits, so props!

  • Trooper6

    Oh, I just need to say to Dr. Nerlove, Mae West is the most awesome ever. I enjoy playing her song, "I like a guy what takes his time" in class and see my students who think they can't be scandalized by anything…end up being scandalized by a song that is 80 years old.

    Though it makes me sad that it is 80 years later and we still don't have many media figures like Mae West.

    • Delafina

      Or Dorothy Parker. Both of them are on my list of "If there is an afterlife, I am having a posthumous dinner party with them" people.

      • I concur, DP is my literary idol.

        • Trooper6

          Another concurrence from me! Now to add to this particular dinner party, I'd want to add Anita Loos. I think the three of them would be a hoot…and it would be New York/Hollywood wittiness all around. I wouldn't mind inviting the Fitzgeralds along as well…and maybe Cole Porter and Noel Coward.

          Okay, seriously? I just want to attend a really exciting Jazz Age cocktail party will that entire jet set.

          • Dr_NerdLove

            Be honest: Midnight In Paris is what Heaven looks like to you, isn't it?

          • Trooper6

            I admit to everything!

            In olden days a glimpse of stocking was thought of as something but now god knows, anything goes!

          • Delafina

            Can we add the Gershwins?

          • Trooper6

            Without a doubt! I'd definitely want to invite Josephine Baker and Duke Ellington as well!

  • Gman

    I find that there's a lot of prejudice in-grained against the inexperienced in our society"

    Tell me about it – just yesterday I saw this typical reality show that started here called "Date in the dark" (A literal translation of the title). Basically, they take 3 girls and 3 guys and they go on dates with one another in a completely dark room, while the viewer gets to watch them via Infrared cameras in the room. After they "Get to know each other" they get to see each other and decide if they want to keep on meeting outside the episode or not.

    It sounds like a maybe interesting concept, but just like any other reality show – in the end it's just another way to perpetuate stigmas and stereotypes within the viewer's mind. Almost all the people that participate are somehow a stereotype or just plain shallow people and the ones that seem "normal" – have some sort of "defect". Like in the latest episode, there was what seems like a perfectly normal girl – but the "defect" of her was that she is a virgin at the age of 23. One of the guys that were interested in her got into "serious dilemma" once he found out about this "defect" – because he was afraid that the fact that she is a virgin means that there is something "mentally wrong" with her. Even though, in the end he "gave it another chance" I just felt disgusted – I mean even the other girls told her "listen – the fact that you're a virgin ISN'T NORMAL" – she got really offended and I was simply shocked. Last time I watch this show…

    So yeah – just got proof to what you wrote here – sad but true….

  • Jess

    No kidding! But more than that, making fun of something that I like, or telling me I shouldn't like it because they feel it is boring is overstepping bounds. I don't care if HIS favorite flavor is the craziest thing on the planet so long as he shows a respect that I can like what I like even if he does not.

    BTW, I knew my hubby was a keeper when he admitted that vanilla was also his favorite flavor. We keep things spicy in other ways. LOL

  • I have a question regarding standards for all the commenters and DNL. I'm 26, and one of my biggest deal breakers is kids, for a number of reasons:

    1) I don't like baby-mama drama – also that's another woman that will ALWAYS be in my partner's life, and I'm not really that into it.

    2) I have this possibly irrational, but completely strong feeling that I want my first child to be my partner's first child. Like I would feel so alone during my first pregnancy if I had to go through all the stress and uncertainty and bodily trauma (yes, I see pregnancy as trauma) while partner was all like "been there done that, nbd".

    3) building on 2- I want my children with my partner to come first. Maybe that's selfish, but that's what I want in my future.

    4) Kids in a young man also signal to me that they didn't really care about their future or building a stable life first, and that is a value I care deeply about. I feel like birth control and condoms are not that hard to come by, and failing at that shows a lack of reproductive responsibility.

    However, I've noticed that the older I get, the harder it is to find a good guy without kids, so, I guess, any advice?

    • enail

      It sounds like this is a dealbreaker you may need to keep – as things stand right now, you seem like you'd be pretty unhappy with a guy with kids, and if being in a relationship makes you unhappy, what's the point?

      I'd suggest trying to keep an open mind about some of it, though. A guy who wasn't the sort to make sure he had a stable life before having kids when he was younger might change and become more of a planner as he gets older, possibly b/c he wishes he'd been more prepared before having kids. Or maybe he was one of those rare ducks that was pretty well-planned and stable when he was quite young.

      People change as they get older. And that could be for you too – don't fall into the trap of thinking that just because something is important to you at one point, you can't re-evaluate and find it's not so important later on. If it's on your list doesn't mean it's a rule for life.

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  • sdiegolo

    Having the non physical qualities to look in a woman in mind, bottom line is without sexual attraction the relationship will be doomed. On a side note I strive to level up to the type of woman I want attract by taking care of my body, looks and creating the life I want to live.