How to Find the Girl of Your Dreams

A question for you.

How many times have you been frustrated with the people you’ve been dating?

Seriously. How many times have you been this close to giving up on dating entirely because of bad relationships and worse dates? The toxic exes, the Ones That Got Away, the dates where there’s been no chemistry, the date you thought was amazing but ended up going nowhere. How many times have you despaired about finding someone you liked rather than someone you could tolerate? Or worse, someone who seemed awesome at the start but turned out to be a manipulative bag of evil?

"There is no sex act on this earth that could make sitting through this entire meal worth it..."

“There is no sex act on this earth that could make sitting through this entire meal worth it…”

What if I told you that you were going about finding women the wrong way? That the lessons you’ve absorbed through culture (or picked up from well-meaning people) are actually making it harder for you to find the relationship of your dreams?

After all, when you’ve  put in all of that work learning how to be more attractivehow to dress better, building your confidence and working on your banter, you don’t want to date just anyone; you want to date someone amazing. 

Here’s how to find them… as efficiently and smoothly as possible.

Know What You Want

This is a theme I come back to over and over again because, frankly, most guys don’t really think much about exactly what it is they want from a woman.

Oh sure, the obvious answer is “sex”… but that’s actually not helpful, nor is it always true. Some people want to be Hank Moody, getting laid at the drop of a hat, barely able to walk down the street without pussy falling from the skies and onto his crotch. Other people think they want the player lifestyle because… well, guys are supposed to want that. But when they actually experience it, they find that they hate it; it’s emotionally isolating, it’s draining, it’s expensive and, ultimately, they don’t find it satisfying. Others have the opposite problem; they think they want marriage, the house with the white picket fence and 2.5 kids, but they chafe under the restraint.

Why is this important? Because knowing what sort of life you want – really want – to live is going to affect the type of people you’re going to find in it… including the women you’re going to want to date and who are going to want to date you.

Knowing what you want – in detail – is important. Some people aim for the stars and insist they’ll only date someone who’s practically a supermodel, while others throw their hands up and say “I just want someone who looks halfway decent and gives me the time of day.”

All of these people are making dating harder on themselves and guaranteeing a life of dissatisfaction. They’re setting themselves up for disappointment; supermodel looks are nice and all, but looks don’t make up for an incompatible personality. Super-low standards aren’t any better; it says that you have absolutely nothing to offer other people, nor are you terribly concerned about them as individuals. By saying “I’ll take anything”, you’re telling people that you just want someone to fill a hole1 marked “girlfriend”.

I’m a firm believer in the power of words – in this case, writing down what non-physical qualities you want in a woman and in a relationship. No seriously: make a physical list. Write it out by hand. Not only does hand-writing engage an entirely different part of the brain than typing, but the act of actually writing that list down forces you to think in depth about just what you want from your relationships.

Are you looking for someone who’s outdoorsy? Someone who’s cultured? Someone who’s into sports? How about politics – do you want someone who’s not just politically active but is an actual activist, or do you prefer someone who’s less directly involved? Religion is important, too – for some people religion (or the lack thereof) is an absolute dealbreaker; if you can’t respect your partner’s religion (or they can’t respect yours), your long-term potential plummets.


"Must... like... scotch... and... pony...girls..."

“Must… like… scotch… and… pony…play… harnesses”

It’s important to focus on non-physical aspects because personality and shared interests count for a lot more than looks in a relationship’s longevity. Most guys haven’t put much thought into just what makes a girl compatible with them; they assume that one area of compatibility (i.e. fetishizing geek girls) ensures that everything else will fall into place. As a result: you get a lot of frustrating relationships that seemed like a good idea at the start but turned into misery later on.

It also helps you identify problems that are holding you back.

This Is Why You’re Single

One of the reasons why I advocate writing everything down is because sometimes it’s a way of spotting issues that you wouldn’t notice otherwise.

There are two common problems that are often revealed when you write down a list of what you’re looking for in a woman.

The first is a case of fundamental lifestyle incompatibility, which happens when what you want is diametrically opposed to who you are. If you’re hoping for a bikini model who works out every day to keep herself in top shape and your only exercise comes from jumping to conclusions, you are going to have a very hard time finding someone willing to date you. Similarly, someone who is ambitious and motivated isn’t going to be interested in a slacker whose days are spent at a minimum-wage, minimum-responsibility job and whose nights consist of marathoning Supernatural reruns.

"How can you expect me to go outside when Dean's about to open the gates of Hell?"

“How can you expect me to go outside when Dean’s about to open the gates of Hell?”

Despite what we’ve been told over and over again, opposites don’t actually attract; in fact, dating success correlates far more to shared interests. You don’t need to match up 100%, but the more you have in common – in interests and in lifestyle – the more likely you are to click.

This is something that comes up over and over again: guys (and women) who think dating is akin to the real-estate market; they’re hoping that there’s a magical unicorn out there who’s open to finding themselves a fixer-upper that could be awesome with a little work. A quick scan of OKCupid brings up many profiles where men are looking for women who can drag them out of their shells, add some excitement into their lives, or otherwise help them reach their full potential.

In short: they’re looking for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

The problem with this outlook is that women aren’t there to make you better a better person. Going into a relationship hoping to fill a hole in your life or otherwise change who you are is setting you and your partner up for heartbreak and misery. It’s incredibly unfair to expect someone to take responsibility for your life when they’re likely having a hard enough time handling their own. If you’re going into a relationship looking for someone to fix a problem in your life – whether it’s that you’re shy, you’re repressed and need to be loosened up, you want someone to help you make up for lost time or otherwise validate your existence – you’re not looking for a relationship, you’re looking for a caretaker.

You don’t want to go into dating looking for someone to complete you, you want someone who can compliment you.

One example I return to over and over again are extroverts who are dating introverts. The couples who make their relationship work aren’t the ones hoping the extroverted partner can drag the introverted partner out of their shell, they’re the ones who can balance each other out.

Solve your own issues and complete yourself. 

Looking For Love (In All The Right Places)

If you’re looking for a particular type of woman, you have to understand them. Having a list of qualities that you’re looking for in a potential partner makes it easier to find one.  In many ways, it’s like thinking like a hunter2: you can either blunder about the woods and hope to stumble upon a deer at random, or you can try to maximize your chances by finding their watering holes and food sources. When you’re looking for someone with specific qualities, then you want to go where they are more likely to gather. Bars and clubs, for example, aren’t the greatest of places to meet geeks – it’s certainly possible (especially if the bar has a pub quiz night) but the odds aren’t necessarily in your favor. By the same token however, they are the best place to meet women who might be interested in a one-night stand or hooking up that evening… something you’re less likely to find at your local Barnes and Noble.

That being said, a bookstore that catered to singles would be a license to print money.

That being said, a combination bookstore/geek singles bar would be a license to print money.

The other thing to keep in mind: you are what you do, and like attracts like.  You are far more likely to have success in meeting the type of people you are looking for if you focus your attention on the aspects of your life that you enjoy. If you’re a reader, you’re more likely to find people you click with not just at bookstores but at author readings, book-release parties and lecture series. If you’re into movies, then you’re much more likely to meet people who’ll be into you at movie festivals. It may require some lateral thinking – where would an accountant best meet someone, for example – but your search for the girl of your dreams will be much more efficient if you’re concentrating on events that play into your lifestyle.

Screen For What You Want

Many guys have a hard time on dates because they treat it like an audition – they’re so scared of screwing things up that they can’t focus on getting to know the person sitting across from them. The whole point of a date is to make a connection with someone. At the same time, however, you want to make sure that you’re with someone who matches up with what you’re looking for – after all, if you’re looking for someone who’s intellectually curious, you don’t want to find out that your date hasn’t read a book that wasn’t required for class.

I’m a believer in efficiency when it comes to dating and spending the evening sifting through a rambling conversation for clues to whether my date matches up with my ideals like a prospector panning for gold isn’t terribly efficient. At the same time you don’t want to grill them like you’re trying to get them to confess that they stole the Maltese Falcon – it’s a date, not a police interrogation.

There are easier ways to get to know your date, Lois...

There’s a reason why she never got a second date with Superman…

You don’t want to force the conversation in the direction that you want; it’s boorish and obnoxious and a very good way of ensuring your date won’t return your phone calls afterwards. Instead, I’m a fan of asking leading questions – open ended topics of discussion that help nudge things towards  what I’m really interested in finding out. I’m an obsessive reader, and I’m always looking for someone who shares my love of books, so I’m likely to ask my prospective dates “What are you reading lately?” It’s an expected getting-to-know-you question that can lead off into any number of directions – geeking out together over shared favorites, comparing favorite authors, discussing the merits of fiction and non-fiction – as well as letting me know just how much my date matches up with what I’m looking for in a relationship.

“What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?” is another good one – it’s a way of getting to know what sort of person you’re talking to on many levels; what she considers to be  “adventurous”, whether she’s the sort of person who plays it safe or who likes to take risks, and it provides an insight into her hobbies and interests. If the most adventurous thing she’s done is going on a Peace Corps mission to build irrigation systems in the Sudan, I know she likes to travel, that she’s generous and caring and I am almost certainly more of a selfish asshole than she’s willing to put up with.

Behavior is also a way of screening for the qualities you’re looking for in a partner. The way you interact with people – and the way they respond – acts as a way of screening. I’ve talked before about how I’m a fan of antagonistic flirting – bantering and teasing as a way of building interest and attraction. The women I’m most interested in are ones who respond to that sort of interaction; I’m looking for women who will banter and tease me right back. My friend John Rubio, for example, has an outgoing and edgy sense of humor, one that could be mistaken for negging if you don’t realize he makes fun of himself more than anyone else. Like my style of flirting, it’s a way of screening for the women who have the sort of personality he’s attracted to – someone who enjoys his style of humor and can give him shit right back in equal measure.

If you’re looking for a sexual relationship for example, you’re going to want to be more overtly sexual – having a sexual edge to your flirting, being more willing to touch, being direct about your interest (while being respectful, mind you). The people who are interested in a one-night stand will respond while those who aren’t will shoot you down. Whenever I’ve talked about sexualized flirting on the blog, there were many who said “This would never work on me, I’d walk away without a second glance,” which is the whole point; those are the people that being overtly sexual are meant to screen out.

This is exactly what screening is about – minimizing the time spent on people who aren’t what you’re looking for.

Don’t Waste Your Time

If there is one universal truth, it’s that life is short and time is valuable… and you don’t want to waste time on people who don’t match your needs or who just don’t like you.

Take the example of the readers who would dismiss a potential date who was looking for a same-night hook-up. Yes, he could mask his intentions and put in the time and effort it would take to build up enough attraction that his theoretical partner might be open to the idea of sex that evening… or he could move on and find someone who is already open to hooking up with someone new that night. Similarly, there is the fascination with so-called “bitch shields” – when a woman supposedly acts rude or dismissive in a way to fend off a prospective suitor. Much ink has been spilled in the PUA community on how to “break down” those defenses and get her to like you… and all of them are a waste of time. Either she is that rude, judgmental and unfriendly – in which case, why would you want to spend time with her in the first place? – or she’s signaling to you that she doesn’t want your attention. Could you convince her to change her mind and decide maybe, just maybe she likes you after all? Yes, in theory. In practice, it rarely happens… and when it does, it’s almost never worth the time and effort it took in the first place. You could spend all evening at a party trying to convince that one woman to maybe change her mind about you… or could move on to find someone who is interested in talking to you and wants to go home with you.

Not everyone is going to like you… and that’s OK. That’s inevitable. The sooner you accept this, the easier dating becomes… because it frees you to find those with whom you are compatibleThe desire to have everyone like you, to avoid rejection at all costs, is needy behavior; it’s a sign that you need constant validation from others instead of being secure in yourself.

Rejection, at its core, is a sign that you aren’t compatible with the person you were flirting with. You may not have been their type, which means you wouldn’t have worked out in the long run. You may have a physical feature they find unattractive, which is fine because you want someone who’s into you. If they don’t like geeks, then you’re better off being rejected; after all, you wouldn’t want to date someone who doesn’t respect your passion and interests.

You have to be willing to risk rejection – or to reject others – in order to find what you’re really after.

It can be a difficult process. It can be disheartening.

But in the end, when you find someone amazing, who compliments you and fulfills you in ways you could never imagine?

That’s when you know it was all worth it.



  1. While you fill THEIR hole… <rimshot.WAV> []
  2. Which I admit is is a potentially creepy metaphor, but stick with me here. []

  • CmE

    Know what you want is key. The two main pieces of advice I hand out on the forum are:

    1. Get out there into the real world and meet women, meet women, meet women, stop using online dating as a crutch.

    2. Put some thought into where you see a woman fitting into your life. Most people apparently haven't thought about this at all. They just want A Woman, apparently completely generic and boilerplate, with no conception of where she fits in or even what type of person she is. This makes no sense, and makes your search for a partner essentially aimless, and so much less likely to get anywhere.

    Even a couple of years back, in my late teens, my gut knew that I wanted a woman to have all my babies (yes, the philoprogenitive instinct is strong in this one), hence my bent towards LTRs and commitment. Once my mind had got around this I figured I might as well be explicit and refine my parameters accordingly.

    God that sounds academic. But you know what I mean.

    • OldBrownSquirrel

      "1. Get out there into the real world and meet women, meet women, meet women, stop using online dating as a crutch."

      The real world is a great place to meet extroverts, the sort of people who like to go out to bars with large groups of people every night and party it up. If that's not my idea of a good time, and I'm visibly not part of that demographic, then I'm not going to meet someone who's a good match for me that way. Other wallflowers are more likely to be at home rather than clinging to a wall in public.

      • enail

        On the other hand, if you go out IRL and introduce yourself to people clinging to walls, you could meet Spiderman! 😛

      • CmE

        For heaven's sake, I specifically said that there are a million and one good ways to meet women IRL without hitting the bar scene in any decent-sized city. Many of the activities and events you could go to will have plenty of introverts attending, not just extroverts.

        And who said that introverts can only date other introverts anyway?

        • OldBrownSquirrel

          The problem is that the places you can meet women other than bars (bookstores! coffee shops! public transit! fandom conventions! elevators!) are places where men are being taught that women don't expect to be approached and would generally prefer not to be approached. If a guy doesn't want to come across as a predatory creep, the choice is pretty much limited to bars and online, the only contexts in which it's implied that women are OK with being approached.

          • enail

            How about classes? Hobby groups? Interest-based meet-ups? There are plenty of situations where meeting people is expected. Why focus on approaching strangers going about their lives? I mean, unless you also try to make all your friends by chatting up strangers on the subway, you probably already know other ways to meet people.

            Also, many women don't want to be hard-core approached in the places you list, yeah, people don't usually like to be interrupted in their daily business for an approach from a total stranger (and most definitely not in a situation that is hard to leave or isolated!) But very few people mind if the person behind them in line tries to chat a little. And if you happen to actually get a good conversation going, there's nothing wrong with asking if they want to continue it over coffee.

            Don't bug people who are trying to do stuff, don't act like a woman-seeking missile of date-asking and hit on every woman you see in the bookstore one by one, but chances are – with the very important exception of safety differences – if you'd start a conversation with a man in that situation, it's okay to start a conversation with a woman and see where it goes

          • CmE

            Yes, this. Just don't leave people in situations where they're trapped (an elevator, or they're at their workplace), and you're mostly fine. Most people are completely fine being chatted up some, and if they aren't in the mood are also perfectly capable of conveying that.

          • zmd

            yes, exactly. People need to learn how to be generally friendly, with everyone. I have met guys through classes, group bike rides, political groups, volunteering, through friends, at parties, and at bars. I even met one guy I dated for a short time waiting outside the elevator in my office building. Just strike up a conversation. I am not a natural extrovert either, but I have trained myself to be one, and it starts with just being a friendlier person with everyone, not just people you're interested in. I think it has helped me tremendously, not just in meeting guys. My boyfriend was recently commenting at how good I am when meeting his friends and family for the first time ("You don't just sit there! I never have to bring you into conversation! It's great!"), and I think this is largely because I have taught myself how to be engaged when meeting people and keep conversations moving. It is an important skill in all parts of your life, from talking to a cute girl, to making a good impression on your coworkers when you're trying to small talk before the meeting starts.

          • CmE

            The message of this message:

            Relationships do not begin in people's heads. They begin outside.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            OK, suppose a class has ten students and lasts two months. Suppose half the students aren't your preferred sex. Suppose (just throwing out a number) half the students are outside your age range, or that you're outside theirs. Suppose that 70% of the students are already in relationships. This leaves 0.75 students per class. That's ignoring attraction, chemistry, etc. One might try taking larger classes, but it's harder to get to know people in larger classes; you get better numbers, but you trade off the intimate setting that allows people to get to know each other.

            Here's another problem, more specific to me: I have kids, but I don't want more. Women living a carefree, childless lifestyle aren't going to be interested, and that's OK. Women looking for a father for their yet-unconceived children aren't going to be interested, and that's OK. In theory, there are women who don't want kids of their own but are not averse to dating someone with kids, but in practice, such women are few in number and difficult to identify. This leaves my most promising demographic: single mothers. Now, how many single mothers have time to go out and take classes? They're busy enough driving their kids to classes. The need for child care often makes it impractical for them to take classes on their own.

          • enail

            If you spend as much time doing things to meet people as you do justifying how impossible it is to meet people and how dateable women in your age range don't exist or aren't actually dateable, I think you would have met a lot of cool people in your demographic by now.

            In all the time you've been posting here, I've yet to see any sign that you actually want advice or suggestions or anything other than confirmation of your belief that your situation is absolutely hopeless. What are you looking to get out of this blog? Are you looking for sympathy? To share your fears with people in similar situations? For advice on how to deal with your fears? If you give us an idea of what you want to get out of this, maybe we can be more helpful instead of just disagreeing about the hopelessness of your situation.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Mostly I'm looking for advice on what to do if I win the metaphorical lottery and actually meet someone who might be a good match. I'm also somewhat resigned to living vicariously; I have kids, and I'm trying to get a handle on what advice to give them when they're older.

          • zmd

            All you can do is just keep meeting people. Look, let's take your scenario. You take a class, 50% are not your preferred gender. Maybe you start a friendship with a woman. Maybe she has kids and you set up a playdate. Maybe she starts to like you as a human person and thinks "hey, there's this cute single dad who coaches my kid's sports team, maybe I should set OldBrownSquirrel up." People think that when you say "get out and do stuff" it means french class immediately leads to hot french sex on the table. No, you need to just meet people. All kinds of people. Just fucking meet people, and be satisfied with that. Enjoy the opportunity to meet new and interesting people. Build up a rich social life. The more people you meet, in general, the more opportunities you will have to meet the person you'll like, eventually.

          • zmd

            whoops, I misread your post and figured you were female. Either way, the general message still applies.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Heh. I make a point of not gendering my comments unless there's a good reason to do so. I suppose some confusion is inevitable. 😉

          • And if you don't really enjoy meeting people? If meeting lots of new people all the time is extremely draining, and having a huge social circle is exhausting and difficult to keep up? Not everyone is gregarious, makes friends easily, or can handle having more than a few friends at a time.

          • eselle28

            Then sometimes you need to step back from it and take a break to refresh yourself, and to take a look at your social circle and prune the people in it who aren't good friends or who are particularly exhausting.

            This kind of thing is absolutely harder for introverts, and I think CmE is taking things a bit far with this complete opposition to online dating that seems to be based on what's possible and enjoyable in his particular circumstances, but I think introverts can do some of these things too if they pace themselves a bit.

          • CmE

            It's not a complete opposition. If you have quite niche tastes in what you're looking for (collarme jumps to mind) or if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere (so most of America really) then online dating is obviously a hugely valuable. But it's just ridiculous to see men (and it is mostly men) in the middle of, or in close proximity to, whopping great big cities teeming with thousands upon thousands of suitable women, not getting out there to meet these women and dooming themselves to the cruel and gruelling treadmill that online dating can so easily become, when they'd have so much fun just getting out more.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I live in close proximity to a whopping great big city (by US standards). It's teeming with thousands upon thousand of women. Most of them are not my age and/or married and/or looking to have kids and/or avoiding men with kids and/or lesbian and/or asexual and/or … you get the idea. I'm not even getting into whether I'm attracted to them or they're attracted to me, just whether we're looking for the same things. Women? Yes. Suitable? With vanishingly few exceptions, no, not for dating (standards for friendship are much, much lower, in large part because there's no expectation of exclusivity; by facebook standards, most people I know have hundreds of friends), and it's not a matter of my having unrealistic standards. There might be a few dozen women hiding out in my area who might be interested in dating someone like me. I'm not sure I'll ever meet any of them. Granted, online dating doesn't offer much hope, but at least it's not a huge time sink. Has anyone joined lately who's anything like me? No? OK, I'll look again in a couple days. Thirty seconds navigating a web site and running a query, and I can move on to doing something I actually enjoy.

          • Astral

            Meanwhile my small city meet-up group based around non-gendered interests is mostly women, seemingly heterosexual for the most part. About 5-10 regulars, a few dozen semi-regulars. Every few events, only one or two men attend. All the regular members also attend other groups and activities, both in small city and nearby bigger city, so we get to know what other interesting things are going on and what the "personality" of the other groups are. Most of the women are single; several are divorced. Some have children, some don't. You'll find people of all ages from mid-twenties to 60ish. The only type of person you won't find is the early 20s party girl with PINK written across her butt. Most events are small enough that there is good group conversation, so people can get to know one another. Why don't more men attend? I don't know really. But I do know some who spend most of their free time gaming, some who spend a lot of time on high intensity outdoors or sporty stuff, and I know a lot of bars where I can find many groups of men talking among themselves in closed circles at tables. I am sure they are comfortable and having fun in all of these situations, but if they really do want to meet women, the odds are low they will meet them through their normal, comfortable routines.

          • Niteynite

            I have to ask.

            What exactly are these non-gendered interests?

          • CmE

            Yeah, I was going to say this.

            Seriously just get out there and meet women.

          • eselle28

            On the other hand, there are ten people in that class who have similar interests to you. Throw out all of the other stuff besides interpersonal chemistry (the kind people feel with potential friends), and I think your odds of meeting someone who can expand your social circle are reasonable. That person may know other people who are potential dating partners, or other other people who are potential friends who know potential dating partners. It's a slow strategy, but for people who don't have any or many single friends, sometimes building up a network of other single people helps.

            I'd agree that you may not find as many single mothers at classes, however. It might be worth spending some time thinking about where single mothers, especially slightly geeky ones, are more likely to be found. (I'd agree that one of the answers is "online dating sites" but there may be a couple of other places.)

  • LeeEsq

    Question, I've been on a few dates where I was bored and wanted to bow out but felt I could not without being a jerk. How can a person end dates early without being douche?

    • If you're bored, try to go for an activity that isn't boring to you by default. Saying that the topic of conversation/venue isn't really working out for you is never a crime. If it still is soul-sapping, just steer the date towards an acceptable end(perhaps plan a date that can be extended-dinner to drinks somewhere afterwards with a gap in which you can call it off).

    • eselle28

      How soon are we talking about here? If my date has been reasonably polite and honest, I generally feel like it's worth spending 40 minutes seeing if things can turn around. Then I just finish up my coffee/drink, do the kind of rustling thing where it's clear I'm getting prepared to leave, and start talking about how it was nice meeting him and the other pleasantries people exchange when they're leaving.

    • CaseyXavier

      There's nothing wrong with saying, "You know, I don't think this is going to work out/I don't think we're a good match. Let's save each other some time and call it a day. It was lovely to meet you, good luck in your search." It's awkward as shit and that's why people mostly just endure hours of agony with someone they KNOW they never want to see again. But it's not rude to bow out and be gently honest about it.

      That said, I agree with Eselle that sticking out about 40 minutes or so is worth doing. Meeting someone can be awkward and make people behave in a stilted way, so at least let everyone calm down and relax a little and see how it goes. If your date is saying things like how much she loves Hitler and stealing from the homeless in the first 90 seconds though, all bets are off and I'd run asap, heh.

    • OldBrownSquirrel

      One trick that I'm told is popular with women: arrange for a friend to call you at a pre-arranged time, say (by consensus of earlier comments) 40 minutes in. If the date is going well, you can ignore the call; women might want to answer in any case just to make it clear that they're safe, ideally with a pre-arranged code phrase. If the date isn't going well, the phone call becomes a concocted excuse to end the date early: some family emergency that requires urgent attention, but it's been nice meeting you.

      • Paul Rivers

        Lol, that's so cliche, I don't think anyone would believe you…

        • eselle28

          Yeah, I don't think that one really works anymore. I think it's better to skip excuses entirely and make it seem like 40 minutes was just the date length you have in time anyway, or if you absolutely must, to say you have to feed your dog/catch up on some work/beat the traffic.

          I always remember the emergency phone call as being reserved for times when the date was offensively bad (showed up drunk was insulting, sat down at the table and confessed having lied about important things), and in those cases, I find it actually works better to just get huffy and say something like, "Um, yeah, I'm going home now."

        • Paul Rivers

          Plus, I mean – if you're a guy, have some backbone. If you're not going to see her again anyways, you don't have to act like your leaving is some sort of traumatic event for her. There's a good chance she's sitting on other side of the table also thinking "I wonder how I can end this conversation…". Say "I should get going soon", wait for another several sentences, and then say "Thanks for coming out, I should get going". She'll most likely try to wrap up the conversation herself.

          If she doesn't wrap up the conversation in a few minutes, stand up next to the table, and say "I've got to get going". One of the things is the seem pleasant while doing it.

    • zmd

      go out on weeknights on first dates. That way, you can always say "I have to get up early for work in the morning, so I need to get going." A good date will always give you an out, but then again, you're not having a good date.

  • LeeEsq

    I think that I have a fairly good idea about what I want in a relationship. I know that at this point I'm looking for a girlfriend not a wife. By this I mean somebody I'm in a romantic/sexual relationship with but things like marriage, kids, mortgages, or even moving into together are on the table because I'm really not ready for that yet. At some point in the future, I might be but since I've never really been in a relationship I don't want to have to learn how to be a husband and/or father before I learn how to be a boyfriend. At the same time, I'm not really into polyamory so What I want is a romantic/sexual relationship that evolves organically rather than one where I feel that I'm being pressured into something that I'm really not ready for.

    What I'm looking for is someone whose intelligent so I can talk to them and who have compatible interests to mine. Hopefully, she'll either dance or like to learn how to dance. She definitely needs to be able to tolerate my dancing. An order to stop dancing is a deal-breaker. And yes, I'd like physical affection and sex. I do not want a completely cerebral boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. I'd also like to be able to go out with her and not have every night be a night at home in front of the TV, which I really don't watch anyway.

    • LeeEsq

      What I don't want is to be in a relationship where I feel like I'm on the side or the periphery of her life. That was one of the problems with my only previous relationship, I constantly felt that I wasn't really her boyfriend and that she just agreed to go out with me so she could say that she had a boyfriend rather than admitting she was single. She also had problems with anything remotely physical and would not want to talk about it.

      I also don't want to be a player that sleeps around for the reasons that DNL outlined above and because there is no or little emotional intimacy involved in that lifestyle.

      My problem is that I'm not really sure how women see me when I date them. I've dated a wide-variety of women that met the parameters of what I'm looking for. I've dated women that were very similar to me or that were somewhat to very different from me. The usual reaction is the same that "I'm very nice but they don't think we'd make a good couple" or something similar. There seems to be some element about me that sends signals that I'm not good dating material to a lot of different women.

      • LeeEsq

        Sorry for the epic post but I'm getting to a point. I'm wondering if the problem is that I do not radiate any sex appeal or that many women simply do not see me as a sexual being. One thing that I've noticed from dance is that women. In the classes some of the women tend to be a bit older than me about the age of an aunt or a mother and I'm treated in a maternal manner by them. Another young man in the class tends to bring about more cougar type instincts. Women around my age also seem to put less sexuality in their dancing with me than they do with other women. So a lot of women think that I'm sweet or a gentleman or whatever but they don't necessarily see me as somebody you would be romantic or sexual with. So I do not seem to fit what many women are looking for in a boyfriend or husband or even for casual dating. What do I do about this?

        • CmE

          It's quite hard to say without having seen you in the flesh. Paul Rivers said that you posted a video of yourself talking a while back – I don't suppose that's still around? Pm me via the forum if you don't want to post it publicly (my username is the same).

          Anyway, for a masterclass on projecting sexuality check out Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire", The Merovingian from "Matrix Reloaded" (something of a personal favourite, he's the inspiration for all my dirty talk and no I do not do a French accent) Clark Gable as Rhett Butler…and…oh almost any movie Jack Nicholson is in (Jack Nicholson being the ultimate exemplar of a not terribly attractive man – on the surface, anyway – who just breathes charisma). I can't remember the names but there's that one with Diane Keaton and Keanu Reeves, and the classic where he co-stars with Helen Hunt.

        • zmd

          When I date and a guy gives off the "I'm not ready for marriage or anything serious" vibe, I generally do not continue to see him. It's not that I need to get married tomorrow, but someone who cannot picture that for himself in general, comes off as incompatible with my future goals. I am not going to invest months or years in a person and then break up because he's just not ready for anything serious. I have a friend who is pretty adamant about not being in serious relationships and he usually goes with short term hook ups and friends-with-benefits arrangements (we were FWB until I became exclusive with my bf). He is a good friend and has a rich social life, which I think is where he gets his emotional and intellectual satisfaction. This is his trade off. I think you will probably have to end up making a similar trade off, at least for a while.

      • It's possible they're saying the "wouldn't make a good couple" line because you have different long-term goals. Wanting marriage is an absolute necessary for me, even though I wouldn't want it until a number of years down the road. If a guy said he wasn't interested in marriage/moving in together/kids with me, but just wants to be a boyfriend, it'd make me feel like a Practice Girlfriend…. and there would obviously be a mismatch of long-term priorities.

        It might be that from a glance, you and the women you're asking out have similar goals…. both want monogamous relationships… but they might be looking for the long term, while it sounds like you still want to date around a little bit (not in the player sense, in the "Girlfriend > Single > Girlfriend" model. I can only speak for myself, but I'd probably stop seeing a guy with a similar attitude, because I'm just not interested in that sort of short-term dating.

        • Dr_NerdLove

          The model Lee seems to be talking about is serial monogamy.

          • LeeEsq

            Yes and no. If I end up marrying my first girlfriend thats not an issue. However, I want the issue of marriage to come up organically rather than have it be known that my partner is looking for a husband right away.

          • zmd

            yes, but when you tell someone "I'm not looking for a serious relationship," you're not saying "this can never develop into something serious" you're saying "I don't want it to be serious." The girl is left with one of two options, either to put her own future on hold, or to hope you change. Not great options. Very few people go on a first and assume it's going to end in marriage. "I'm not really looking to get into a serious relationship unless it really feels right" is not a thought you need to verbalize.

          • Cactus

            Most women are going to want to wait before discussing marriage. My partner and I moved pretty fast, but even we waited on that for a little while and it only got brought up because we were awkwardly singing along to a White Stripes song. If it’s something you might want down the line with somebody, you’re in the same position as a fair amount of women looking for serious relationship. They also know that a breakup may happen, and unless they’re desperate, they won’t be screaming “marry me NOW!” right away. Saying you want marriage someday will send better signals than saying you don’t want marriage.

        • CmE

          If they were attracted to him but had incompatible life goals some of them would sleep with him but not date him (women do do this!) The problem is lack of attraction.

          • I think women do it, but not as often as popular media and PUAs claim. Like Dr. NL has talked about in the past, women are taking huge risks when engaging in a one-night stand, so it has to be really worth it. Lee seems to be sending out really mixed signals…. he's putting out the Boyfriend Vibes, but isn't a good Boyfriend match for girls. But because of the Boyfriend Vibe, he also doesn't seem like a good/safe option for a One Night Stand. His base level of attractiveness doesn't really matter so much if he seems like a mismatch for either a One Night Stand or a FWB.

            I get the impression (and it's just an impression, no evidence) that women are vary to sleep with a guy who they met online who they are absolutely not interested in dating. Women here on the forum talk frequently about how guys get very upset when the women sleep with them but won't date them. Meeting through online dating sets up the interaction as a dating one, which makes it difficult to transition into either FWB or a one-time thing.

            My guess is, you have to set the tone of the interaction immediately, because it takes incredible skill to change it; so the women might have been okay sleeping with Lee if he'd immediately approached them as a one-time hit-on, but since they met him in a dating context, they aren't interested.

          • CmE

            Well how do they know anyway? I assume Lee isn't discussing his ideal relationship or life goals on first dates, or he really shouldn't be anyway. These women aren't mind-readers, they can't possibly know that his Boyfriend Vibes are ever so slightly misleading.

          • He might be subtly letting it slip. Without sitting across the table from him, it's hard to say, but it sure seems that even here in the comments there's a cross contamination of his signals. I can never shake the impression that he is just looking for a girl to stick into the Practice Girlfriend Have Sex A Lot slot. Not trying to be harsh, that's just my impression.

          • CmE

            Well yes, to some extent that is my impression too but

            a) I strongly predict that will change in a real hurry if he gets it on with someone he really clicks with and

            b) it's just not the kind of thing that you can figure out from a first date. Lee reveals far more of himself here than he would to a date.

            What's easier to believe: these women just aren't attracted to him for whatever reason, or they're basically mind-reading.

          • But my guess is women aren't attracted to him because he gives off mixed signals, and the "I just need you to fit a slot" mentality. It seems like he gets a ton of first dates, which knocks down the idea that he isn't at least superficially attractive. I think he might give off the impression that he just wants A Girlfriend, and will take nearly anyone who is hot enough…. I think I can speak for a lot of women when I say women want to feel special, and at least on the site, Lee hasn't given me the impression that he sees his dates AS special and unique.

          • LeeEsq

            Its rather hard for to make dates feel special and unique without getting to know them better or being completely insincere about it. I'm meeting them after a couple of online exchanges for the first time. Its kind of hard to treat a person as special and unique without engaging in some less than ethical behavior at this level. I don't know them that well and am trying just to determine if I want to see them again and charm them if the answer is yes. Would you rather I engage in PUA techniques?

            How do you make somebody who is basically a stranger feel special and unique anyway?

          • fakely_mctest

            Off the top of my head?

            Helping to move the conversation along by being an engaged participant. Showing excitement and interest via tone of voice and (if you're of the type, talking with your hands SORRY THAT WAITRESS I ACCIDENTALLY HIT, apologized profusely for that one.) Asking further questions about a story she's told or chiming in with something like, "That reminds me of X that I did" or "Oh, yeah something like that happened to me/a friend/a family member" or "That sounds exciting/uncomfortable/difficult, how did you handle it?" Laughing when you find something funny. If you find her funny/insightful/thoughtful (even if she's not the absolute funniest/most insightful/most thoughtful person you've ever met because I know some people do that math in their heads), tell her so: "You're really funny; how did you get so funny?" Say it with a smile and she has the choice of either talking about why humor/whatever is important to her or just accepting the compliment and moving on with the conversation.

            These would pretty much apply for both online dates and nonline dates (a guy I'm chatting with on OKC used the word and I think it's cute). Of course, if you know the person a little via friends or whatever, you can talk about mutual acquaintances.

            Being "present" in the hippyish sense of the word is a huge help. Being visibly engaged is also incredibly important. Think about it like acting: when you're on a stage, your makeup has to be a bit more exaggerated than it would be out on the street, your actions have to be a bit larger, and your voice a bit louder. A date is kind of the same — except for the voice thing, please don't yell at your date 😉 — because you're just getting to know each other, you might have to be a little more outsized in your conversation and general demeanor than you would with someone who's known you longer because you two aren't practiced at picking up each other's more subtle signals yet.

          • LeeEsq

            I do all of this. I ask questions, answer questions, respond to what my date is saying, laugh or chuckle if I find something she says funny or amusing, make eye contact, engage in light touching if I feel its appropriate, and try at times to end the date with a kiss if I want to see her again. If there is a bit of awkward silence, I try to break it. This isn't anything I don't do or don't know.

          • fakely_mctest

            Well, I don't really know what to tell you then. The only other thing I can suggest is somehow amping yourself up to be interested in people in general since your question was how to make a stranger feel special and unique.

            Try talking to strangers in a non-dating context, both men and women. Find a friendly bar where people in your age cohort might hang out and go on a day that's not a Friday or Saturday. In NYC, I can personally vouch for Burp Castle: as a really relaxed, quiet-on-purpose, no pressure place (the bartenders shush you if you get too loud). Free pommes frites on Sundays, Mondays, and Wednesdays.

            No one can tell you how to find people interesting on a personal level. To me, people just are interesting. Connecting my curiosity about people in general with my dating was a good way for me to get over online dating burnout. Even if there's no spark there (happens more often than not), I look at it as an evening with an interesting person. It helped me to be less goal-oriented and more experience-oriented.

          • LeeEsq

            I'm also failing to see that there is any practical distinction between a woman wanting a man to make her feel special and unique, at least early in the relationship, and a man wanting a Magic Pixie Dream Girl early in the relationship. Both involve a fantasy of somebody coming and rescuing them from the doldrums of life to a certain extent. If women aren't there to make men better people as DNL pointed out above than men should not be there to make women feel special and unique, at least not at first. Wanting a man to make you feel special and unique actually seems pretty close to the "Nice Guy" behavior that women often complain about.

          • Why would I want to continue going out with someone who saw me as just a disposable fill-in for a slot? The difference between a Manic Pixie Dream Girl and wanting the guy across the table to treat you like a unique individual is that the latter is a big part of dating. Why would a woman continue to waste time on a guy who sees her as just another one of the unwashed masses?

          • LeeEsq

            She shouldn't but a man shouldn't want to date a woman who saw him as nothing special either. On a lot of the dates I've been on, I've never gotten the impression that I was seen as anything unique or special by the woman. There were more than a few dates where I felt that I was being used as an hour's entertainment. At the same time, for a first date, I can't really expect much. The woman I'm dating is basically meeting me for the first time and needs to gauge me before she could decide whether I'm worth the investment or not. Its the same for me, I can't treat a woman as unique or special till I know more about her. This requires more than one date.

            The women I've tried to date that I knew in real life, it was easier to treat them as unique and special because I knew more about them. There was a wonderful woman that I've met through dance. She infatuated me when I saw her for the first time and I feel in love with her rather fast. Eventually I learned that her birthday was coming up. I decided to make my move. What I did was get her gourmet chocolate and a card and on the card I wrote that just getting the chance to meet you was reason enough to take up dancing. And it worked kind of, I got a very strong positive reaction and than messed it up by not following through out of cowardice. However, I was able to do this because I knew her better than somebody I just met.

          • The women weren't right to use you for an hour's worth of entertainment, either, IF that's what they were doing. Just because they did it, doesn't mean you should. If you don't see the person as unique or see something special about them, you probably shouldn't be wasting either of your time.

          • eselle28

            I don't think that women are using you for an hour's worth of entertainment. Women don't generally accept dates just for the amusement value, at least not unless the activity suggested is something extremely fun and hard to get access to. I think what's more likely that some of the women you were on dates with were bad dates (women can have subpar dating skills too) and that in some other cases, the date went badly and interest was lost. It's possible you may have also missed it once or twice when someone was focusing on you – it might be worth it to notice if it seems to be happening in the future. That being said, knowing how it feels when your date isn't very interested in you should provide some insight into why it's important to show at least some interest in your date.

            I don't think people are suggesting the level of fascination that you're describing with the woman you met dancing, but more a bit of a spark of interest that makes you want to get to know a lot more about the person. It's somewhere in between infatuation at first sight and the idea of the dull, preliminary interview.

          • fakely_mctest


            And, honestly, if you think that your date's attention is wandering or divided or whatever? You're perfectly within your rights to gently call them on it.

            I've been on a date where a guy got awfully yawn-y, a couple where they seemed distracted, and some where they seemed generally spaced out. A simple, "You seem distracted; is everything okay?" is totally kosher. Sometimes we ended up calling it a night, a couple of times the guy had ADD and we switched seats to get out of view of the TV. Asking the question saved me doing some annoying, interior post-mortem after the fact.

            One of the nice things I've found about online dating is that it's freed me up to be more direct than I would be if it were a friend-of-a-friend and I was overly worried that a question like that would get me labeled a Jerk forever with a corresponding neon yellow letter "J" I'd have to wear around places.

          • fakely_mctest

            Many people, in general, want others to see them as distinct individuals with something particular to offer, be it romantically, platonically, or even in a work-context. Seeing people as one, undifferentiated mass even when you're having a one-on-one interaction would be a real stumbling block. Ideally, relationships of all sorts happen when two people think the other is awesome.

          • eselle28

            The dynamic that most people want is one where both people are treating each other as being special and unique. Generally, that doesn't involve anyone rescuing anyone else from boredom. It can be two people with cool lives caught up in how awesome this new person they've just met is.

            That's idealized and lots of relationships don't start out quite like that, but it's not as if this recommendation is meant to suggest that you have to let others use and objectify you to treat them as special.

          • LeeEsq

            Yes, I recognize this but a message that I'm receiving is that I'm supposed to make the woman feel special and unique on the first date and this is something that I do not really think I can do without getting to know a person better. I don't see people as undifferentiated mass but it takes time to get to know people and really see whats unique about them unless its really obvious.

          • eselle28

            I have to say, I have a hard time identifying with this sentiment, to the point where I'm not sure what to do with it. I'm pretty indifferent to large sections of humanity, to the point where it's a social problem and I try to consciously work on being better at it, but if I'm on a date with someone there's usually something there that's intriguing or sexy or cool and I want to learn more about him and what makes him tick. You might not know the whole story, but even just on an online dating site the non-generic profiles usually hint at the points of uniqueness.

          • enail

            Yes, this. I don't think you have to think they're a completely amazing, totally fascinating, one-of-a-kind being or go all sparkles-and-anime-cherry-blossoms on a first date, just that you're finding interesting and appealing things in the specific qualities they're showing on the date, rather than just that they meet all your basic criteria and are generally sort of fine.

          • LeeEsq

            I generally think that I convey this, that I find the person interesting and appealing on date if thats the case rather than the you meet all the basic criteria and are generally sort of fine. At least I try to convey the former. Thats what I've been doing on the date. I've even attempted vocalizing this interest at the end of the date to express the interest. I'm not doing anything differently than what people suggested.

          • Why are you asking them out if you don't find something unique or special about them? Or are you literally asking out every single woman who comes your way?

          • LeeEsq

            No, I don't ask every single woman that comes my way not by a long a shot. What I usual do when responding to online profile is to read it very carefully and find something that I comment on or maybe comment about something in their picture. Sometimes I go for curious inquiry and other times for flirty depending on what I can come up with but I put a lot of effort in the initial response. If I get a response back, I continue back and forth as required.

            Using a recent example, my last date says that she spends a lot of time thinking about art in her profile. I asked what does she think about when she thinks about art and she came back with answer. I responded to that and we had a back and forth that evolved to cover a variety of subjects. I asked her out on a date, to see a really fortuitous MOMA exhibit since I made a comparison between the difference of Munch and Renoir painting in our conversation. MOMA was having an exhibit on Munch luckily enough. We met up, talked about art and other things for about an hour and half while walking around MOMA. I flirted with her, engaged in light but appropriate touching. At the end of date, I told her that I'd like her and wanted to her see her again. She seemed to agree, at least at the time. Latter, I wrote to her that I really liked her and wanted to get to know her better. I was very sincere in this. She replied back that she had fun but did not think that we would make a good couple.

          • LeeEsq

            And this last date really bummed me. On my dates, I really do try to find out what my date is like and try to treat her as special as possible for a first encounter. I flirt, make jokes, charm, and its simply not working beyond getting a first date. I can take only take so much of this without getting anywhere.

          • fakely_mctest

            So maybe it's time to put less effort in for that initial meeting? If you're feeling burnt out and you don't want to take a full-on break (which is also a totally valid option and something I personally recommend as a general thing), just dial it back and give yourself some breathing room. There's a reason why drinks after work/coffee are the bog standard for first internet dates — you're essentially mutually intrigued strangers trying to suss out whether you want to be more.

            Reserve your energy for a pleasant conversation/figuring out how her profile self fits in with her real life self/figuring out how her real life self differs from the picture of her you half-formulated in your head based on reading her profile and messages. For me, at least, that's a full plate for an hour or so in an evening.

          • LeeEsq

            Most of my first dates have been coffee/drink dates with pleasant conversation/figuring out her profile fits in with her real life self etc.. Not out of choice necessarily but its because its what the other person seemed comfortable with. Only a few of my dates have been activity dates. Neither seemed to work out well.

          • fakely_mctest

            I think people tend to prefer the coffee/drink dates for first meetings because they're low-pressure. They take place during a relatively limited timeframe and they're easy to duck out of if whatever connection you're looking for isn't there.

          • Mengsk

            This is just a mild curiosity, but since dancing is so important to you, do you ever take ladies out to swing night (or whatever night there is for the style that you do)? That might be more of a second date thing, but it seems like it'd be a great way to stay in your element with the girl.

          • Paul Rivers

            "I'm also failing to see that there is any practical distinction between a woman wanting a man to make her feel special and unique, at least early in the relationship, and a man wanting a Magic Pixie Dream Girl early in the relationship. Both involve a fantasy of somebody coming and rescuing them from the doldrums of life to a certain extent. If women aren't there to make men better people as DNL pointed out above than men should not be there to make women feel special and unique, at least not at first. Wanting a man to make you feel special and unique actually seems pretty close to the "Nice Guy" behavior that women often complain about."

            Lol, yeah, you hit the nail on the head. It's a similar dynamic, just with different verbage and adjectives used.

            I've watched several relationships start now, and it's always some sort of back and forth. It's NEVER that the guy does a lot of work, then the girl finally dates him. She always working herself – whether she realizes it or not.

            It's like a series of escalations. He does something, she does something a little more, she does something a little more, he does something a little more, she backs off a little, he backs off a little, then he does something, she reciprocates back…

            There's nothing wrong with doing something to make a girl feel special – as long as it's not to much work for you, and she reciprocates in some way. The huge problem is when she expects you to bend over backwards for her before she does anything at all – it's unfair, and while she enjoys it it usually doesn't get you anywhere with her anyways.

          • zmd

            Everyone needs to bring value to relationships. If you want to stand out, your value needs to be unique and lasting. The problem with MPDG is that the guy expects his infatuation alone to be his value. And the problem with nice guys is that their value isn't unique. I have guys being nice to me all the time. My best friend, who is a dude, brings value into my life not because he's simply nice, but he's supportive (he would hang out with me when I was unemployed and depressed, and bring food and movies to cheer me up), and he's a ready to go activity partner for a million different things. My boyfriend brings value into my life because he'll talk to me when I need someone, takes care of me when I'm sick, gives me affection, and listens to me and engages me. Both of them have made themselves valuable in ways that would be somewhat challenging to replace if they disappeared. That is a difference between a nice guy and a typical "nice guy." "Nice guys" are nice to every girl in the same way. My guys are nice to *me* in a way that *I* need.

          • LeeEsq

            Can you tell me something that I don't know? Yes, I recognize that I need to bring something thats unique and lasting to the relationship. My issue is with what women expect on a first date. Like I said above, I meet most of my dates online. On the dates I'm as charming, polite, and respectful as possible. I do basically everything suggested by people on this blog. This doesn't seem to be enough apparently. It seems that women are looking for something on a first date that I can't understand or deliver in a first real life encounter. I've certainly never felt that most of them women I've dated, with the exception of one who declined my request for a second date anyway, did anything to make me feel unique and special on the dates.

            I recognize the problems with MPDG and its not what I'm looking for. I might fantasize about it sometimes but I know that it can't be found in real life.

          • Akai

            The difference is the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is expected to change the man's life, whereas the man making a woman feel special/unique is just expected to demonstrate specific interest in her as a person, rather than a generic woman, for a couple of hours. It's really not about rescuing her from the doldrums of her life, it's about treating her like a human being rather than a Potential Girlfriend.

          • Paul Rivers

            I don't disagree with you that there's a difference between making someone feel a little special right now, and rescuing their whole life.

            But the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl" is nothing but the girl version of almost every female-targetted romantic novel, movie, etc ever. Another poster a while back said that typical female fantasy (in books, movies, etc) is usually –
            1. The girl is somewhat attractive, but not to attractive
            2. She's a little boring
            3. Often two guys are competing for her, or he's a bad boy who she reforms, or a long series of unlikely situations occur that continually bring them together again and again.

            It's the same theme other way – a desire for someone to come into your boring life and make things interesting and exciting.

            I've personally never liked the Manic Pixie dream girl, as it's incredibly obvious to me that this person is so manic and ADD they would be impossible to live with. But I mean – we're talking about a genre where the female equivalent has sparkly vampires (Twilight), or ending up on the same flight on a plane repeatedly if I remember right (when Harry met Sally, I think), or where one of them dies at the end (seriously, start watching for it, one of them dies a *lot*)…

          • eselle28

            Sure, they're all wish fulfillment fantasies. Story about a beautiful, charming young girl who comes along, drags a boring, average-looking guy out of his tedious life and teaches him how to be free (often ending with her moving on and him having learned something)? That's wish fulfillment marketed at men. Story about a handsome, charming guy who comes along and drags an uptight, average-looking woman out of her tedious life and teaches her how to love (often ending with the couple living happily ever after)? That's wish fulfillment marketed at women.

            The problems only start when people start thinking that either of those fantasies has much to do with how their future relationships are going to look.

          • enail

            I don't think Marty means that they know exactly what kind of a relationship he's looking for without him mentioning it, just that things he says and the way he acts give off an impression of wanting things he isn't actually looking for, or just general mixed signals that make it hard to get a read on who he is and what he's hoping to move their interaction towards.

          • eselle28

            People do sometimes give off general vibes, though – the I Want Someone to Fix Me Vibe, the I've Already Named Our Children in My Head Vibe, the I'm Just Looking to Get Some Practice In Vibe, the I'm Burnt Out on Dating and Just Going Through the Motions Vibe.I'm wondering if the first, the third, or some combination of both is coming across, along with some attraction issues that are also disqualifying him as a short term prospect.

            He may also be unintentionally gravitating toward women who are fairly conservative about sexual relationships and who aren't open to having casual sex at all.

          • LeeEsq

            Did I ever say that I'm looking for casual sex on this site?

          • eselle28

            You've talked with people in depth about how you might go about finding it, and that you feel shut out of the casual sex market. My assumption has been that it's something you might want, but isn't your first choice way of connecting with someone.

          • LeeEsq

            Your right. I wouldn't refuse casual sex but at the same time it is not the first way I'd like to connect with somebody. I'd prefer a little bit of emotional intimacy at least.

          • LeeEsq

            To a certain extent, I recognize that I might be giving off "I'm Just Looking to Get Some Practice Vibe." For reasons that were basically my own fault, I skipped a lot of what people learn about relationships, romance, and sex during their teens and twenties. I didn't really start actively looking for dates till I was employed so I'm playing catch up. Even now I know practically nothing about dating, being boyfriend, how to bring up things like sex or anything.

          • Sure, but there's a difference between "I know nothing" and "Looking for practice." The first is just being honest about your own lack of experience, while the second is kind of laying it on the other person to give you something.

            It's kind of like teaching a friend of mine to sew. I may end up doing most of the project for them while I show them how to insert darts or do gathering, but if they are engaged and actively trying ("Oh, could you show me that again?" "Wait, I'm confused… what are the point of darts?"), they are building their own expertise, and it feels more like a fun adventure we are doing together.

            Contrast that with a friend who just kind of sits back and idly watches as I make the project for them, doesn't ask questions, and has a general "Well, I'll learn what I need to as we go along." They are engaging passively, and it makes me feel more like unpaid labor, than a teacher.

            The fact is, you don't need "practice." Practice is really not that worthwhile, because every person and every relationship and every situation is different. Practice can only help in that it allows you to read people better, but that's only if you are actively engaged with it. You could have a whole string of relationships, and still not REALLY know more than you do now. So looking for a "practice" relationship is more of a burden than it would be a blessing.

          • LeeEsq

            I agree with this but I never said that I'm looking for a practice relationship since I know that they do not exist.

          • So then why are you giving off "I am just looking for practice" vibes? Why the incredibly focus on your lack of experience? Why the terror about a long-term relationship?

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            "Practice" needs to be put in its proper context. I think he's willing to consider this interminable series of first dates as practice dates, that he'll gradually get better (ten thousand hours of first dates!). It's certainly more constructive and less discouraging to see these first dates having some value as pedagogical exercises rather than complete and abject failures; the downside may be a tendency to give off a vibe of seeing the dates as mere pedagogical exercise, building up to the lucky lady with whom he spends hour 10,000.

          • LeeEsq

            Because I'm deeply afraid that I'll somehow manage to skip all the fun parts of the relationship, all the courtship, and the excitement and get straight into the serious planning how to move in together and build a life parts or that I'll get an eratz, going through the motions type romance. Its an irrational fear but situations like this have been known to happen.

          • eselle28

            Situations like that have been known to happen, but you even admit that it's a mostly irrational fear. People who push for commitment too early tend to give obvious warning signs, and you do have the power to say no to arrangements you don't want.

            I think this is a fear worth trying to conquer. It clearly upsets you, and it seems like it might be influencing your luck with dating in unfortunate but subtle ways.

          • LeeEsq

            While I recognize that I have the power to say no to arrangements I don't want and probably the willpower, I also recognize that the other person as the power to say no to what she doesn't want to and that my lack of experience is going to be a deal-breaker for a lot of people. Why date somebody who lacks experience when you can get somebody with experience and what you want faster?

          • Robjection

            Who says that there is someone with experience and what they want? And even if there is, who says that such a person is actually feasibly meetable?

          • ccmc

            I dunno, I've met a lot of people who want very different paces for dating, and I myself have a definite pace I prefer (slow). In most situations, as long as both people are upfront about it, it's not a big deal. When I'm clear that I like to go slowly and enjoy multiple meetings and activities with a guy before getting physical or exclusive, some guys exit stage left, but many are totally fine with it. One guy said something that is almost exactly your situation, "Y'know, I haven't dated very much in my life, so I'm still exploring and trying to figure it all out, y'know? I'm looking to get to know people at a leisurely pace, and then hopefully find a lady with whom I'd like to be exclusive." There was absolutely nothing unattractive or weird about his statement to me (and no I had not brought up my pace with him yet).

            My point is, you seem to be assuming the pace that OTHER people prefer rather than confidently putting out there the pace that YOU prefer. Why assume a conflict when you don't know that there actually is one?

          • Mengsk

            The fact of the matter is that no matter how good you are there is always someone who is more experienced, better looking, better at sex, or whatever. They don't matter, because they have the distinct disadvantage of not being on a date with the lady. A genuine connection trumps any of these paper qualities 9 times out of 10, at least in the initial stages of the relationship.

          • The thing that would put me waaaaaaay off is this notion of "courtship is the fun and exciting part of the relationship, building a life together is dreadful." If even a sniff of that attitude is leaking out, it might be making potential partners very leery.

          • eselle28

            You haven't said it. It's possible that you're unintentionally sending signals of that sort to women, however. A combination of being very worried about commitment, even when you're not yet in a situation where that's even in the conversation, and seeming a bit anxious or inexperienced could be enough to give a hint of that to someone.

          • zmd

            you can't really practice being in a relationship without being in a relationship. There is no such thing as relationship training wheels, and it is insulting to a woman to think you only want to practice on her until you find someone better.

          • eselle28

            I get the feeling Lee might be giving off mixed messages when it comes to sex in more casual contexts. He's open to it but sometimes comes across as disapproving when it's being discussed. If that comes across, he might be ruling himself out for anything but Boyfriend Track positions.

          • CmE

            But he says he wants to be on the Boyfriend Track and isn't all that interested in hookups anyway….

          • eselle28

            Sure, but the question was why there aren't any women who are classifying him as Just For Sleeping With.

            I think the problem with the Boyfriend Track is, unfortunately, that his ideal relationship is a hard sell. Intense, time-consuming, low commitment, non marriage track monogamy isn't first on most women's list of what they're looking for. Add in that Lee seems a bit bored and frustrated with his life and wants someone to spice it up a bit, and that he's inexperienced and wants and may need someone who will be a bit patient and understanding, and that's unlikely to appeal to a woman who's not even going to get a long term commitment out of the deal. I think he needs to work on building attraction, and to also be very careful to avoid sending out some of these vibes that the relationship will be a lot of work.

          • CmE

            Yes, you are completely right but

            a) Lee's dates can't possibly know what his ideal relationship looks like

            b) his level of experience in relationships won't really be all that obvious either on a first date, particularly since by now he certainly isn't inexperienced when it comes to first dates!

            If he was getting so far and then getting dropped (lots of brief relationships) I'd agree there was this kind of problem, but not getting past of the first date speaks to attraction issues far more than anything else.

          • eselle28

            Oh, I don't mean to say that his dates are psychic and know exactly what the problem is. He obviously looks good on paper. I think he may come across as needy or anxious in person. Those are bad signals for the Boyfriend Track, and they're not especially desirable for lower commitment relationships as well. If he's also targeting fairly desirable women who can afford to be picky, I think that explains much of the problem.

          • Paul Rivers

            "If they were attracted to him but had incompatible life goals some of them would sleep with him but not date him (women do do this!) The problem is lack of attraction."

            You're right on, you still would be – even if you left out the "sleep with him but not date him" part.

            If you can find his post where he posted his video (if I knew what the title was I'd mention it, but to find it I'd have to do the same thing you would – go back article by article looking for it), several of the women who responded were like – Ooooooooooh, yeah – I can see how you're giving off a very non-sexual, non-attractive vibe.

          • Yup. I do this. 😛

          • zmd

            Some people would, others wouldn't. Some women are good at compartmentalizing and can do this, and others can't and will avoid it.

        • LeeEsq

          I'm not necessarily opposed to the idea of marrying my first girlfriend if it ends up that way. I just don't want the end goal to be marriage right away.

          • eselle28

            So then you're essentially looking for a regular old serious romantic relationship? Because that's what most people who want serious relationships say too.

            If that's really what your position is, then I think you really need to stop freaking out about this being pushed into marriage and children thing. There aren't that many women who have engagement-marriage-baby on a short, inflexible schedule, and if you run into one you'll spot her right away. In the meantime, thinking too much about it might make you inadvertently give off anxious or non-committal vibes.

          • The Simple Man

            I argee with eselle here. If someone is pushing for marriage on the short term you will be able to tell and run away from.

            But I do find it interesting how you don't want marraige to be the end goal in the relationship. You do realise that is the point generally of DATING right? You date someone, become serious, move in and get married/and have kids (in that order or skip moving in).

            The end goal of dating and relationships IS MARRIAGE. Unless you state you want a defacto relationship with no kids.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Not everyone wants kids. Among those people who have kids from previous relationships, not everyone wants more kids. Beyond a certain age, especially for women, a goal of having more kids becomes somewhat unrealistic. That doesn't mean people necessarily stop dating. If having kids isn't on the agenda, then marriage isn't necessarily an immediate priority.

            There's the stereotype that men are averse to commitment. I'm divorced, and while I'm interested in dating, I'm really not in a great hurry to marry again, partly because I'm not interested in having more kids, partly because my previous experience with marriage didn't end well. If young men are averse to marriage, it's because they "haven't grown up yet." If older, divorced men are averse to marriage, they're subject to that same accusation, though the truth might be that they're once bitten, twice shy. Sometimes the only externally evident distinction between immaturity and baggage is the amount of gray hair.

          • enail

            While I think people most often date in hopes of it leading to a long-term relationship, there are plenty of people who want neither marriage nor kids.

            The end goal of dating and relationships is whatever the people on those dates/in those relationships agree on.

          • Paul Rivers

            "But I do find it interesting how you don't want marraige to be the end goal in the relationship. You do realise that is the point generally of DATING right? You date someone, become serious, move in and get married/and have kids (in that order or skip moving in)."

            It's the weird and distorted social complement to how women will talk about how they're "not looking for sex" when clearly they're hoping to meet a guy and date him, and wouldn't date a guy the sex wasn't good with. It's like how many times have you seen a girl say "I'm not looking to meet doing this", but really she is? Like – constantly.

            It's basically the same weird thing. I've known lots of guys who don't like the idea of "wife", "marriage", etc. But when I ask them what they're looking for, they want a girl. Who's attractive, yes, but who they want to spend time with. Share feelings with. Have a relationships with…when you say "You want to meet someone who you like so much you can't imagine dating anyone else being any better, and you want this relationship to last forever?" and they say "Oh, yeah, that's totally it!" and you say "So you want to get married" and it hits an emotion like "Ehhhh….I'm not sure about that".

            They're understandable both rediculous on a logical level, but…that's how it often is.

          • LeeEsq

            A lot of people get into relationships in their teens and twenties when marriage isn't even on the table and nobodies thinking about. I did not have these relationships when I was in my teens and twenties. I do want to get married eventually but right now my goal is simply to get into relationship and what I need is a girlfriend and not a wife.

          • Joy

            A lot of people do get into relationships in their teens and twenties. A lot of people do not. Of my high school and college friends, at any given time, the majority were not dating anyone. And I'd say around half of them never had a boyfriend or girlfriend during high school.

            Maybe your area of the country or your social group is different. But you seem to have this script in your head where just about everyone except you had high-fun and low-responsibility relationships throughout their teens and twenties, and you have somehow been unfairly deprived of this awesome near-universal experience. And that just isn't the case.

      • Thereal McCoy

        This is definitely weird, but do you have a trusted friend who take a video of you while you are on a date (make sure they know to only get you in the frame and not your date bc SUPER WEIRD and POSSIBLY ILLEGAL)? This is a common technique for improving job interviews, I think it would be a useful tool for improving how you date, too.

    • Rachel

      EDITED to respect Lee's pet peeve against third-person discussion

      Yanno, after reading this whole thread, I am wondering if maybe you might be demisexual, Lee?

      I identify as demi and I find it is very hard to date because I just dont give off those "I am sexually attracted to you" vibes, even when I AM attracted to someone as a potential romantic and sexual partner. It tends to come off as lack of chemistry, which is a very valid concern. Ive tried faking sexual attraction to people I am otherwise interested in, but the resulting sexual encounters feel hollow and unfulfilling, and I got burned out on that.

      So its a possibility that maybe you are just not giving off those "I am attracted to you vibes", because you need that emotional connection first? If thats the case, then you're most likely going about trying to meet people all wrong. Dont ask me what the right way is, I've given up for now, because I am relocating in a few months.

      • LeeEsq

        I wouldn't go that far. I'm in a state of horniness a bit too much to be a demi-sexual and definitely felt the "wow she's hot, I'd do her" feeling. If offered casual sex, I'd think I'd be able to perform if I accepted the offer. At the same time, I'm a romantic. Being Don Juan, that is having a repeated sexual encounters with no emotional intimacy, isn't really that appealing. Polyamory boggles me as a concept, I don't think its immoral but I can't understand the appeal of it intellectually. Sex and physical love is important but also simply having ordinary fun like going to movies or museums or doing chores together is important. Building a life together is important. So given a choice between a romantic relationship with one woman and lots of casual sex with many woman, I'd choose the relationship hands down. Intimacy and romance are much more important to me than casual sex.

        • LeeEsq

          At the same time, twice in my life I just saw somebody and fell for them very fast and very hard. The first time was when I was fourteen. I started noticing girls at twelve but this was the first time I noted and crushed on a particular girl. She was seventeen at the time. We are still in touch somewhat because of Facebook. The other time was when I was twenty-nine and it was with the woman I've mentioned above. I was in love with her for over two years and I'm not quite even sure why I feel in love with her. She is very beautiful but I've seen lots of rather attractive women without having similar feelings but this woman was different. Within a few months of meeting her, I was deeply infatuated and just kept that way for a long time. She rejected me but we are still somewhat in out lives. She is fond of me and part of me still lights up when I see her even though I don't think I'm really in love with her anymore. It was a worthwhile experience though. Simply getting to meet her was enough.

        • nihilinitio

          Being a demisexual doesnt mean I lack a sex drive. I get horny too, and need to rub one out every so often. The thing is that I dont feel horny FOR someone UNLESS he is my romantic partner as well. When I masturbate, I dont fantasize about anyone in particular, and what porn I look at is for visual stimulation only, not fantasy. I dont turn down casual sex if I like the dude and it is offered and I am bored and need some stimulation, but in those cases, I am not particulary raging hard for him. Its, as they say, entirely (too) casual.

          I say all this because you may very well not be a demisexual, and I wouldnt presume to push on you a label you dont feel suits you, but there is still the possibility that you are not projecting a "I am seriously into you and I really want to pursue this with you" vibe with the ladies you are meeting. Its possible that your fixation, for lack of a better word, on emotional intimacy, echoes the dynamic I have as a demisexual trying to date sexuals. It comes off as lack of chemistry.

          • LeeEsq

            I'd say I'm romantic and favor relationships over casual sex but I have felt horny for people who weren't my romantic partner, although I also tend to fantasize about romance to. Either way, I'm still stuck dating with the parameters of society.

          • LeeEsq

            All I have to say is that I'm finding the dating process enormously frustrating and at this point I'm not having any fun at all. I feel excluded from everything but an endless series of first dates. I'm not getting casual dating, long-term relationships, casual sex, or anything else and I want it and want it now. I've waited long enough, its my turn.

          • The Simple Man

            The entitlement is strong in this one.

          • Robjection

            Feel free to want a relationship, or casual sex, or anything else. But at the very least ditch the whole concept of "turns". This isn't Texas Hold 'Em.

          • fakely_mctest

            Lee, you've expressed this concept of some cosmic injustice where you feel you're owed a "turn" in the past and, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if some of that attitude comes through on actual dates. It's also the opposite of the whole "seeing people as distinct individuals" position. A person is not a "turn" and that's not at all how dating and romance work. It's rather dehumanizing and off-putting and I think you'd be best rid of the idea.

          • Gman

            To be honest, I don't think lee intended the words "my turn" in a "I'm entitled to have it" kind of way – but more in a "I see everyone around me becoming successful with women and I want that too" kind of way, which is a legitimate feeling to have.

          • Agreed.The language is open to misinterpretation but that's because we're text-only on the Internet.
            I think we've talked about this before Lee, but no one is faulting you for wanting a relationship or even for feeling frustrated.

          • LeeEsq

            Yes, I did not mean “my turn” literally. I guess a more accurate way of saying this is that I’m tired of going through the same steps and not getting anywhere. It’s exhausting and not fun but its necessary to get what you want. At the same time, its like you keep falling down and getting hurt.

            BiSian, I don’t know about this. Not necessarily on this site but plenty of other people seem to conflate any sort of heterosexual male desire with entitlement. IMO frustrated heterosexual women are dealt with more sympathy.

          • Well I wasn't speaking about the Entire Internet because, frankly, it can be full of assholes.

            Following such a fact, in my experience, frustrated people are more likely to get sympathy IRL than online. My friends and I are quite patient and sympathetic about each other's romantic frustrations. Because we matter to each other and it's part of the friendship agreement to empathize and give advice. However, the Internet has no such social rules. Even feminist sites like jezebel can quickly turn into blame-fests and shrugging off people's very real problems. I'm just saying, don't make the mistake of taking Internet assholery for IRL attitudes.

          • LeeEsq

            I know, the GIFT (The Great Internet F-based explicitive Wad Theory) that people act on the Internet in ways that would never act in real life. The preening to prove ideological purity in order to appear good is annoying and so is the overuse of first world problems, privilege, and entitlement.

    • zmd

      Your comments remind me somewhat of an ex of mine. No matter what happened, it was terrible, and if it wasn't terrible, it wasn't enough. No one cared about him, no one loved him. I loved him to death, and every time I brought it up it didn't matter because "well, one time you made this joke and it made me feel bad." And I would say "Baby, that was a year ago, and I've already said I'm sorry. How are you still holding on to that?" but none of it would matter. Everything was terrible, and he had it worse than everyone. Then it progressed to "I'm worthless, I don't deserve all this shit but I'll keep getting for the rest of my life."

      • Paul Rivers

        It's hard to tell for sure who you're responding to, but I don't think LeeEsq is like that. He stuck his neck out to go on dates, put a lot of effort in, etc etc – it just hasn't worked for him. He's in that state of frustration that everyone gets to when they really want something, but just can't seem to catch a break – or they're just continually receiving advice that doesn't really help them at all, and don't know enough to find a good source of advice.

        • LeeEsq

          Yep, this about sums it up. i'm at the point in my life where I think I'm ready for a relationship and can't seem to get into one.

          • isdzan

            I wonder if some of your frustration and disappointment might be showing? A hint of that to someone on a first date would be enough. The woman doesn’t know you and doesn’t know why you are frustrated and disappointed. She will just know you are frustrated and disappointed which is generally not a positive trait. I tend to be pretty taciturn so when I am frustrated it comes off as a cold anger.

        • zmd

          I accidentally responded here instead of a different thread. The comment box holds on to draft comments, and it's easy to get lost about where you are posting.

  • A lot of what's said in this article but makes sense…. and yet, in the practical, real-world, it just doesn't seem to.

    I am very into nerd/geeky guys, so I go to where nerdy and geeky guys supposedly are… comic book stores, cons, book stores. And yet, in the rare circumstance I meet a single one, they are not interested, because I am not what they are looking for. I am too much like them-average looking, intelligent but not blindly brilliant, kind of awkward and introverted. It's WHY I like geek guys, because I assume they are like me…. and yet that's the very thing they don't like about me (among others, I'm sure, I am largely speculating.)

    The answer to that is to become the person the people you like are attracted to. If I want a nerd guy, I should become what a nerd guy finds attractive. Or I should, as the Doc says, stop wasting my time and go find someone who would dig me as I am. But that's kind of the key problem…. no guys like me as I am!

    What happens when the Abundance Mentality butts up against the reality of there just not being a lot of options? Or when you've figured out what you want, but that type doesn't want you…. do you change yourself to be the person they want? Or just hope and pray you find someone you want who also digs you even though you aren't their type?

    • CmE

      Two questions: how many men do you meet (as in for the first time) per month?

      Secondly, when you say "Or when you've figured out what you want, but that type doesn't want you…. do you change yourself to be the person they want?" – what change exactly do you have in mind?

      • Keenena

        Yes can the Dr talk about this? What about when the people you are attracted to, your type, universally find you are not their type?

        • LeeEsq

          This is a problem that I have to. I find myself attracted to women that do not see me as their type, what I like is elegant and classy women. Based on who actually responds to me first on their own initiative on OkCupid the women that seem to like me, besides the ones looking for help with their immigration status*, can best be described as the activist type. While I agree a lot with them politically somewhat, I've found myself not really attracted to them when we met up in real life for various reasons. The answer might be is that you either have to really change yourself in order to get the type you want or re-examine the type you are looking for.

      • Number of men I meet in a month, I'd probably say 10-20 a month. Single men, less than 2. (If we're only counting online dating when I actually meet them in person.)

        As to change…. aside from changing physically, I don't have much of an idea. I don't really know why guys don't like me, aside from my looks. The most I can gather is that I think geeky guys would like me more if I was LESS geeky. Like, if I was more a stereotypical girl who was just open to geeky things. I sometimes get the impression that me already being a geek and knowing stuff intimidates guys, and that they are let down they can't introduce me to various geeky hobbies.

        • Devicat26

          ! ten to twenty men a month? Actually, I'm really impressed. I wonder if I'm doing it wrong, I have a horrible time meeting new men. Can I ask how you meet these men? I try to go to bookstores, events, malls -whatever but have a terrible time meeting new interesting people.
          I wonder if it's regional too. I've heard many people say the city I live in is terrible for socializing. It's funny; I know men say all the time they can't meet new women but I have the same problem with men. Maybe I need to chain myself to a hardware store or something.

          • Magic tournaments mostly, also just meeting people through friends. It's usually only 10 guys, but during the summer months when there are cons and sporting leagues, I can meet a few more. I should also stress that this is just MEETING people, not actually becoming friends with them… and that 99% of the guys I meet are engaged/married (to very lovely women…. that's also how I meet a lot of the men, is through becoming friends with their wives in our book clubs/sewing circles.)

        • enail

          I started on this track in the forum just now, but I think you might do better with people who don't rest so much of their identity on being the Ultimate Geek. People who like geeky stuff but don't define themselves exclusively that way would be more likely to be excited by your shared interests without being intimidated by them.

          • eselle28

            There might be something to this. Honestly, when I reflect on my past relationships, the better ones have been with guys who had some nerdy or intellectual interests but who didn't define themselves as nerds or who were less nerdy than me. It's kind of sad, because ideally I'd like to be dating my own people, but sometimes it seems like that comes with some weird compensation issues when it comes to dating.

          • How would you go about finding such people? Where would "closet nerds" or nerd-friendly-but-not-nerds-themselves guys hang out?

            I think it's the good suggestion, but the big problem I see with it is… my nerdiness is the main thing I have to offer guys. I kinda don't have much else going on (only in terms of dating, I've got loads of other valuable things in terms of Being a Human.) My nerdiness has always been my big selling point; without it, I'm just kind of an awkward, boring gal. For a guy who isn't that into nerd things, that means I really don't have much to offer.

            Kind goes back to the idea of, what if your type isn't attracted to you…. I could be open to dating a closet nerd, but there's nothing about me he would find attractive.

            … A lot of people on this forum have commented about my bitterness over my looks, and I think this is kind of a central tenant. It seems like guys will excuse a lot of personality or interest mismatches in the name of physical attraction. Since I don't have that to offer, I feel I need to make up for it in terms of shared hobbies/interests. Take away the shared hobbies/interests, and I'm dead in the water in terms of dating.

          • Mel_

            I've found that the best way to meet nerd-friendly but not uber-nerd folks is through somewhat but not uber-nerdy interests. E.g., most of the writers I meet have some sort of other nerdy interests, and/or are open to hearing about them/trying them out. Taking martial arts classes–assuming you find a class that's a good fit–I'd say pretty much everyone at mine is a SF fan and many of them play video games, etc. Film festivals–movie buffs are often at least open to more obscure media and may be willing to give, say, anime a try even if they haven't before.

            I would try to think of it as, what you have to offer is not so much your specific interests but the type of interests you have (thoughtful, story-based, crafty, etc.) and your enthusiasm for them. Someone who has similar types of interests will find your enthusiasm to be a plus even if their interests aren't exactly the same. My husband, for example, doesn't write, but because he's into other creative activities (game design, music composition), he gets why it's important to me and we're able to have long impassioned discussions about the creative process and so on, even though our interests in that area are technically different.

          • Cait

            A person who only brings nerdy interests to the party is just as limited as a person who only brings looks to the party. This isn't to be insulting, so much as to encourage you to focus on what else you CAN offer, because in reality no one is defined solely by their looks any more than anyone is defined solely by their hobbies. That supermodel might also be really into chick-lit and rollerderby. You might have geeky interests, but maybe you also provide a good sounding board for people.

            Think about what people in general want out of a relationship: Sure, physical stuff, but more importantly things like companionship, emotional support, partnership, fun. How you interact with your friends (female inclusive) and other people in your life you aren't dating can give you hints about what other things you're good at. Maybe you're the kind of person who can listen to other people's problems and get straight to whatever is *really* bothering them or maybe you're clued into the world of geeky stuff and you always have a new show or movie to get into on cozy nights at home or maybe you're the world's greatest cheerleader for the people around you. Whatever, those things are what people actually want in relationships. Don't sell yourself short.

            And finally, girl talk: enough about your looks. Seriously, stop. You're doing this to yourself. You are not objectively ugly by any definition and there is nothing I or anyone else can say that will convince you of it otherwise. But it comes out and that level of insecurity is in and of itself needy and unattractive. When I was in 2nd grade, I drew a picture and showed it to one of my friends saying "Oh, but I know it isn't really good" and she looked me in the eye and said the wisest thing a 7 year old has ever said "You're just saying that so that I'll say it's good." She was right. Going around saying "Oh, I'm ugly" or "Oh I'm stupid" or "Oh I'm a failure" looking for validation is an unattractive habit, and it is a habit. It's fine to be realistic about yourself. We can't all be ScarJo. But you know you're not hideous. We know you're not hideous. You aren't even in the "Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder" category, you're pretty much objectively cute as a button. So stop it. We want you to be happy, and this isn't how you do it. I'm sorry if that comes across as harsh, because really, I mean it when I say you're barking up the wrong tree.

          • zmd

            the things that make you valuable as a human being make you valuable in dating.

          • Paul Rivers

            That's a little condescending, because it's clearly not true. *Some* of the things that make you a better human being also make you more dateable, but if that was actually true overall rock stars would have trouble finding dates and nice people would all universally be married and off the market.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            I have kids. To someone who wishes to pursue a carefree, childless lifestyle, this makes me worthless for purposes of dating. It doesn't reduce my value as a human being.

            I don't want more kids. To someone who wants kids of their own but doesn't already have them, this makes me worthless for purposes of dating. It doesn't reduce my value as a human being.

            I am the age I am, and slowly increasing. For many people, that makes me worthless for purposes of dating. It doesn't reduce my value as a human being.

            I'm a guy. For straight men and lesbians, this makes me worthless for purposes of dating. It doesn't reduce my value as a human being.

            I have plenty of friends. I'm not dating any of them, nor am I likely to. The things that make me valuable as a friend don't necessarily make me valuable in dating.

            There are plenty of things that make me valuable as a human being that the overwhelming majority of the population will see as adding absolutely nothing to my potential value in dating. That's reality. If I didn't believe that, then the fact that I'm not dating someone would make me feel worthless. I don't. This is just my lot in life at this point. It might change; it might not.

        • CmE

          Yeah, that single men less than 2 is probably some very decent percentage of the problem. Where are the single dudes in your area? Go there, wherever it is. It's just the reverse of what I tell the guys. Meet men, meet men, meet men.

          Geeky guys have their fairly well-known problems. Much as I love all the guys at my LGS, I would only date a handful, if I were a girl. Branch out some more.

          As for the looks/presentation stuff, shrug. Having checked out your FB I can say that I like the silk pirate pants, and your boobs look pretty freakin hot in that photo (also, finally, a photo where you look genuinely confident, something of a smile FTW!). Have you lost weight recently or is that just my memory playing tricks on me? Anyway, you look svelte, so props. If I was to give tips I would say grow your hair longer and rock the sexy skirts+tops or dresses, but I can'd do that, so I won't.

          Now that smiling confident powerful look in the silk pirate pants photo, with the "yeah, winning" body language? Commit it to memory and reproduce it frequently.

          • The wonders of a corset. I've actually gained a far amount of weight, but corsets hide all evils. Why don't we wear them all the time again?…

            Haha, I don't think there ARE single men in my area. To be fair, there aren't that many single women either. I don't know if it's a function of the Midwest, but by my age (late 20's) nearly everyone is engaged/married. The average first marriage age seems to be about 25 or 26 for women in my social circles.

            Is that similar for your guys' geographic areas?

          • CmE

            So wear the corset all the time, Jesus. You can do so with proper steel ones. Or at least do so when speed-dating or regular dating or whatever. It does great things for your body.

            BTW, whatever you were doing for "Rocky Horror 2010" worked very nicely as well, I would say.

          • I tried that. I wore a corset to a party after a friend told me I was "a 5 on an average day; maybe a 7 if you dress up." So I tried to dress up as a "ha, shows you!"… Only to be told I was trying too hard. I think corsets are only allowed in cosplay or goth scenes, and then people think you're just being dumb.

          • Cat

            Perhaps wear the corset as an undergarment (which is how they were worn when they were "every day" type things)? That way, you could get the slimming effect, without being accused of "trying too hard."

          • enail

            Also, avoiding hanging around people who go around telling you you should try harder on your appearance and then tell you you're trying too hard.

          • I agree. Frankly I get a little annoyed at the whole corset-as-outergarment thing, because it's not historically accurate. I'm just uptight like that.

          • enail

            But undergarments often become outergarments over time (historical time, not, like, in the morning my bra's under my shirt, and by evening it's the top layer over my winter coat), so doing that is kind of part of a historically accurate cycle!

          • ccmc

            I dunno, enail, I think you've called out the next big trend. Evening outer-bra!

          • eselle28

            Didn't Madonna already do that?

          • ccmc

            Apparently not well enough, since I don't remember it making it into mainstream fashion. Clearly there is work still to be done.

          • Thereal McCoy

            Ahhh, your friend is a dick. Stop listening to them.

          • Hannah Solo

            Wow, that "friend" sounds like an asshole.

          • eselle28

            Well, obviously it's even a bit worse in mine. 🙂

            Most of the people in my social circle are looking for their second spouses. I'm fine with that (I'd be an awful hypocrite if I wasn't), but the problem is that most of them have the kids as well as the ex. Anyway, yeah, it seems like Midwesterners tend to marry a bit early than people in some other places.

          • enail

            No! At 31, I was only the second among my similar-age friends (or at least ones who weren't already married by the time they came here) to get married. I'm sure that's later than average for a given social group here, but what I hear from friends of friends in their mid-to-late-30s suggests the single folks are not significantly outnumbered by married folks.

          • hobbesian

            part of it's the midwest.. people tend to marry earlier there.. and a lot of people who grow up there don't want to stay and they leave and go to Boston or Seattle or LA or DC..

            I actually understood the twin cities to be something of a mecca for young people though.. even rivaling seattle and portland for sheer number of hipsters per square mile..

          • Paul Rivers

            Growing up and going to college here in the Midwest, there's 2 very difficult things about the culture here –

            1. There was an article a while ago that really encapsulates the mentality here. The tagline was "“Minnesotans will give you directions to anywhere except their own house.”

            2. 80-90% of the people (both guys and girls) I've known were either married or already dating the girl they were going to marry within a year after graduating from college. It's like 50-60% of the people I knew met and started dating their spouse in their freshman year of college, there's another period in that year after they graduate that many of the remaining single people meet and get married.

            I don't know exactly how is elsewhere though…whenever I talk to friends who moved, it's not like they're brimming with new people either. I know a guy who moved to California, and he says it's not easy to meet people there either.

          • hobbesian

            yeah I think that's just the thing.. while gender ratios, and even instances of homsexuality roughly balance out.. so in theory there should be at any one time 40% of the pop as hetero sex females and 40% as hetero sex males.. the problems seem to abound in the fact that 1) Economic Crisis is causing people to have undesirable financial prospects, or stunted social growth, due to social stigmas "ewww you live with your mom… " 2) even beyond the negative stigmas created by the media and porn as to what constitutes attractive.. the obesity epidemic is causing severe aesthetic challenges, and social stigmas 'ewww you're fat"… 3) the "greying" of the west, where there are more Old people than there are Young people. Add to that lifestyle factors such as, being non-religious or a-religious in the US is still a SEVERELY socially isolating choice in large swathes of the country.. and is overwhelmingly preponderant among younger people.

            So what you wind up with is a smaller number of young people, who have less money, live at home with their parents, and don't partake in one of the largest social gatherings in the country… while at the same time often having unrealistic expectations as to what they are willing to accept as far as dates go…

            I mean here in the south it isn't uncommon for people to get married straight out of highschool. and if they aren't married, they are likely to be single moms.. or very unfortunate looking.. The ones who aren't those things do their best to get out as fast as possible and never look back.

          • Paul Rivers

            You're right, that theoretically, the numbers should balance out.

            This biggest problem – like part of what you're saying – is **meeting** those other people.

            When 50% of the population is trying to meet someone, there's a lot of social things going on that let you meet the other people in your same situation. Your freshman year of college is probably the biggest opportunity – you're surrounded by an entire group of people your age, the majority of which are single, and almost all of them are looking to make new friends as they've just gone to a new college and don't have existing friendships.

            If you come into contact with mostly the same 15 people a week, and those 15 people are welcoming and socialize all the time, even if 90% of the population isn't single you'll likely meet other single people. Yeah, you might have to go out, etc etc, deal with boring situations, etc etc, but it's probably worth it.

            But if you come into the same 15 people a week, and you're locked out of meeting other people they know, you're a little screwed. There's like – lol – **one** other single person you might meet, and if you two aren't attracted to each other, well, that's not going anywhere.

            There's *also* a problem where the attractive people get taken early, but honestly, I think an inability to meet other people who are also single is the biggest one.

            I don't know how much I agree with you on the other stuff. I mean, I hear some complaining about "ew, you live with your mom", but my friend who picked up 'game' didn't find it to be a huge problem when he was living at home. Hell, he doesn't even have a real job. (Though to be fair, the fact that his parents have money makes it a lot easier for him). Once girls decided he was attractive, they'd talk about how they didn't like that in guys – then makeout/sleep with him anyways.

            I do think that social isolation can make this worse – when a girl knows several guys who like at home, or has to live at home herself, she can't really afford to look down on it as much as she can when you're a rarity/anomaly.

            I don't know that I think obesity is the problem either. It…*might* be driven by the increase in unrealistic images that we see…I dunno. But obesity and the like are something that one can actually (most of the time) do something about.

            3. I don't think the greying of the west is a problem either, personally. It's like you said at the beginning – it should still balance out.

            Personally, I think social isolation is the biggest problem. There's a million things it causes:
            – Unrealistic expectations (for both genders)
            – Inability to meet someone you'd be interested in
            – A lack of experience (for both genders) in interacting with real people face to face, something that's expected in a relationship
            – Did I mention unrealistic expectations? lol…it's just on soooo many levels…

          • hobbesian

            No I think that is all true.

            PBS ran a thing a while back, they used Drake's Equation for finding life in the cosmos to estimate the number of potential matches a single woman in her 20's would have in manhattan.. well they estimated she should have something like 400 potential matches, but the chances of her actually meeting one of them in a sample size as big as manhattan was infinitesimally even with going out and hitting a different venue every night of the week.

            I used their formula and found, for my town of roughly 14,000 people, that there would be 3 potential matches for me. And considering I'd dated 2 of them, and the 3rd had just broken up with me.. I realized it was time to move. In theory by going to a town with 10x as many people, I should have a potential pool of 30 matches, but trying to *Find* one of those 30 is going to be a lot more difficult in a pool of 140,000 than it would be in a pool of 14,000…

            It's sort of an inverse thing, the bigger the area you live in, the more potential there of matches existing.. but the less likely you are to actually come across one by sheer luck.

          • Paul Rivers

            I don't know, that sounds a lot like…consulting an astrology chart of something. A "formula"?…

            The wikipedia page evens says for Drake's Equation –
            "This has led critics to label the equation a guesstimate, or even meaningless."

          • eselle28

            I'm having trouble even seeing how that could be applied in a way that's useful beyond an amusing TV segment. It contains factors related to compatibility that vary greatly depending on the person and that haven't been widely studied. It's one thing to estimate how many single people in your general age range live in your area. It's another to try to guess what everyone's big dealbreakers happen to be.

            It also assumes that people only bump into each other randomly. The fellow who seems to have written the paper that originated the idea estimated that on a given night, there was only a 1/1000 chance that he'd meet a single, college-educated woman between the ages of 24 and 34 in London – not even one who was compatible, just one who met his age and education requirements and who he found attractive. This is clearly ridiculous, since all he would need to do is find a bar that caters to the young professional set to guarantee that he'll be in a room of women who are mostly young and educated. He says he finds 1 in 20 women attractive, so he should be able to beat his own theory fairly easily.

          • hobbesian

            Yeah it was basically done tongue in cheek, and it reliably kept the factors exceptionally narrow.

            Location, Gender, Age No bodytype, no looks or appearance, no interests.

            I just find it to be a rather amusing anyway..

          • hobbesian

            It's basically just playing with CDC and Census Statistics to get a VERY rough estimate.. and it's pretty easy to do and we do it all the time already..

            You're straight a straight male, so 100% of the population now gets cut down to JUST the 40% of the population which is made up of straight females. only X% of those straight females is within your age bracket of 18-35 so you can then figure out a rough idea of how many straight, 18-35 year old women there are in your area.. so on and so forth.. you can add in % that is college educated, % that identifies as republicans, % that is morbidly obese according to CDC estimates.. and narrow it down further and further.. then you can figure out .. the one main flaw is like eselle said.. you can easily maximize your ability to find these people just by knowing where to look for them..

          • Joy

            I'm in the same geographic area as Marty, and I personally know 23 single women and 4 single men–3 of whom are related to me by blood or marriage. Granted, I'm not currently making a point of deliberately going out for the purpose of trying to meet new people. But it does seem like I exclusively meet married couples or single women. So maybe it is partly the area? Or maybe I'm just not ever going where the single men are (church, for example, is notoriously unbalanced in favor of married couples and single women, and I work at a small company that is heavily skewed female).

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            Sample bias seems likely, though local shortages of men are certainly possible in areas where large numbers of young men are likely to leave either for military service or prison (women can do either, of course, but they typically do so in lesser numbers) or in areas where a large senior population demonstrates the skew that results from women having a greater life expectancy. In practice, I'm describing rural areas (disproportionally providing military volunteers), urban areas (disproportionately imprisoned), and the Sun Belt (disproportionately old on account of being a popular destination for relocating retirees).

          • hobbesian

            I went and checked out the OKCupid page for the twin cities.. There is definitely some sort of dysmorphic demographics going on there.

          • OldBrownSquirrel

            OKCupid doesn't necessarily provide a random sample. I'd be curious how the Twin Cities compare to other metropolitan areas.

          • hobbesian

            Then you're free to do the legwork to find out.

          • hobbesian

            Sorry, that came out a lot meaner than I wanted it to…

          • eselle28

            Rural areas almost always have an excess of single men. The only ones that don't are towns that will be dead in a few years because there aren't any young people at all, just a few elderly women whose husbands have died. In healthier rural communities, men who leave for the military generally either take a local woman with them, or leave one at home but maintain a committed relationship with her, taking her out of the "single" category.

            The people who actually leave are disproportionately young women, who are more likely to attend college than their male peers and more likely to pursue office or service sector jobs that are more plentiful in populated areas. Disproportionately male jobs (agriculture, the trades) are more likely to be found in rural areas, as is the training for them, and men are somewhat more likely than women to value the outdoor recreation opportunities that rural areas provide. A lot of places that actually have few single men compared to single women are large, urban, Eastern cities, because women have moved there from other places.

            (That being said, I think my personal case is an example of how gender ratios aren't the end of the discussion when it comes to dating. When I lived in New York, I had lots of dates and a few relationships, despite there being a comparative shortage of single men. In North Dakota, where there's a severe excess of single men, I've had far fewer dates and no relationships. Sometimes "fit" matters more than absolute numbers.)

          • Maggie

            Hmmmmm… Maybe I should move to the country… I kid, I kid. Athough the dog would love it…

          • hobbesian

            yup. This is exactly it.

            that was something else I wanted to get to eventually.. but I'm kind of working on a post for the forum about it. Geography, Demography, "Fit", economic outlook… they are all important.

        • zmd

          I'm into geeky guys too. I would say a few things:
          1. As we get older, how outwardly geeky we are changes. I am probably a geek girl, but I certainly don't look like it. I dress like a J. Crew/Ann Taylor model for work, and on weekends I look more like a hippie than a hipster. As I've gotten older, my interests have widened. You may be missing some geek guys under your nose because they don't give off a geek vibe anymore.
          2. Meet people. All the time, everywhere. Become friends with girls. Become friends with guys, single or not. Follow up with anyone interesting. Don't turn down invitations. Go to parties, or host parties and ask people to bring friends. I met my geeky boyfriend because I went to a party that one of my friends took me to. I don't think either of us expected the other to be geeks, but we both were! Now that I'm not single, I love setting my single girlfriends, especially since now I have access to all my bf's single dude friends.
          3. Just be open to all kinds of people. In college, I was into the quite, introverted, super nerdy geek guy, and he wasn't really into me. I was into geeks the way some women are into musicians. But what I realized as I got older, that I what I really liked about these guys wasn't their nerd cred, it was that they were smart, that we shared some interests, and that I felt challenged by them. When I started looking for those qualities (and trying to cultivate them in myself) I was way more successful.

    • StarlightArcher

      This is actually a common conundrum that I and my nerdy girl friends have noticed. You're fun, you're nerdy, you're smart and you're a girl. Stands to reason you should be able to find a nice nerdy guy to grow a tardis with you and nerd happily together. Problem is, they look through you like glass. Why? Well, two reasons come to mind (1) you don't look like Seven of Nine in her boob suite and (2) you're normal human and these guys have fetishized "nerd-girl" into someone who doesn't exist beyond the age of sixteen. Basically, you're hunting in prime Nerdlove outreach territory. Just because they have similar passions does not mean they're emotionally mature enough to date. That's why all the "good" ones you meet are always taken. Nerd girls always know a unicorn when we see one.

      My buddies and I never did figure out a solution. Unless you count our plan to set up a ranch in the mid-west where we grew smart, nerdy, good looking, mature nerd mates. Personally I thought we coulda made a mint.

    • Mengsk

      You've seemed to be hung up on the idea of self improvement. I think that with writing, one of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was "write what you like to read". In the context of dating and self-improvement, you should try to cultivate in yourself the things that you are attracted to in other people. It gives you a goal to work towards without this yucky feeling that you're compromising yourself to appeal to others and has the added bonus of forcing you to seriously think about what your preferences are.

      • Funny you should mention that about writing…. the "write what you like to read." That is usually my go-to rule, until a whole bunch of people read my stories and went "Ugh, how boring/depressing/pointless." Even my own mother!

        So that kind of goes back to the original question: yes, you can improve yourself as you prefer (or write what you'd like to read), but that doesn't really solve the problem of no one WANTING that (wanting to read what you've written.) I'm sure I'm not a Special enough Snowflake that my tastes divulge so differently from the rest of the world that what I like no one does, but gee does it sure seem that way!

        • Mengsk

          If I may ask, what do you usually like to read? Because, at least in my experience as a writer, I find that my desire to tell a story that’s DEEP and MEANINGFUL and RELEVANT often gets in the way of writing the things that would normally enjoy reading. This is probably due, at least in part, to the fact that I feel most motivated to write when I’m depressed or pissed off about something, but the point remains is that my writing would probably be a lot better if my preferences as an artist more closely mirrored my tastes as a reader.

          I mean, if the problem is that nobody wants to read what you’re writing, the solution is to become a better writer. Yes, that does involve changing yourself and altering the sort of stories that you tell, but if you’re following your own tastes and preferences, then you shouldn’t feel like you’re being inauthentic. I mean, say what you will about Stephanie Meyer, but that woman clearly loves stupid romance novels, and by god did she write a stupid romance novel. And she has an audience of millions. I’m sure you don’t want to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but fortunately, when it comes to dating, you only need an audience of one.

          • Mengsk

            I should amend that to "Altering the sort of stories you tell OR how you tell them". If Gentleman Horndog is correct in his impression about you, it could well be that the metaphorical story is quite good, but just needs to be told in a different way. Or marketed differently. There are a lot of reasons you can fail at dating that don't have much to do with who you fundamentally are as a person.

    • Gentleman Horndog

      The impression I've gotten of you on this site is that you're a very cool person battling SEVERE self-esteem issues — so severe you're not even willing to acknowledge them as self-esteem issues, but are still internalizing preposterously harsh criticisms of yourself as some kind of cruel "truth" about your desirability as a human being.

      I would be shocked if you weren't unwittingly sending all kinds of "I Hate Myself Because I Suck So Much" signals in person. This puts you in a nasty Catch-22; I suspect the guys who are likely to be most interested in dating you are the ones looking for women with poor self-esteem, and are thus not likely to be guys worth dating.

      You've convinced me that the only "change" you need to make is to accept and love yourself for who you are — and once that comes through, I have to think the guys you want to date will take notice. Unfortunately, "accept and love yourself" is easy advice to give and goddamn difficult to actually do.

      • But I thought a frequent point of this site is that we SHOULDN'T really love and accept who we are…. That we need to appraise ourselves with clear, open eyes and change/adjust as necessary. Ya know, that whole joke of "How is being yourself working out for you?"

        Where's the line between self-love and acceptance, and realizing big, necessary changes* need to be made?

        *I think I'm still stuck on figuring out what the hell changes I need to make, and how far I am willing to go before I feel like I am abandoning who I am.

        • CmE

          He has a point in that you do seem to have convinced yourself you are Ms Cave Troll incarnate. No, you probably won't win any beauty competitions, but you aren't ugly either. The package wants some minor presentation work IMO, but having trawled your photos I'd say when it comes together there is quite a lot of untapped potential.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            Been down this road, mate. You're fighting the symptom, not the problem; as long as Marty dislikes herself this much, you can tell her she's attractive until your typing fingers go numb and it won't matter. Her shitty self-esteem has formidable defenses, and will take your feeble insistence that her pictures are actually quite appealing and crush it as casually as stepping on an ant.

          • Um, I'm not sure how "untapped potential" and "needs some presentation work" is equal to "appealing." Unless it's to reinforce that I'd be better-looking if I was skinnier and had a better body shape, which I kinda already knew.

          • CmE

            Did you not read what I wrote like 5 lines above?

          • Viliphied

            Easy: Think of the thing DNL talks about here re: appearence a lot. It's not "you need to be skinnier with a better body shape", it's "wear clothes that fit, wear your hear in a way that flatters your facial features, and make sure you're cleaned up when you go out".

            That's the level of "presentation work" that CmE is talking about, but you immediately took it to mean that it was a fundamental flaw in your body. I remember having a small epiphany on this site a couple of weeks ago, when I was feeling down about my weight, and I read one of the wardrobe articles. I went out, bought some new clothes that actually fit me properly, and that weekend, I had 3 separate people who see me often ask me if I'd lost weight. Again, the only thing I'd actually changed was the way my T-Shirts fit and what color they were.

          • Well, hopefully this doesn't come across too snarky, but if you can explain how to fit a body with broad shoulders, a small bust, a large stomach, narrow hips, no butt, and short pudgy legs in a feminine way, I am all ears. I've read a lot of "dress your body shape" blogs, and the most I get out of them is that I seem to have inherited all of the worst traits from all the different shapes with none of the advantages.

        • enail

          Keep in mind that even in DNL's articles, the changes he suggests might need to be made are just as often things like "work on your self-esteem" "raise your standards" or "try meeting people in different situations" or in-between things like "change this one aspect of how you interact with people (be flirtier, don't be creepy, express your passion, stop expressing your passion for one damn minute and listen to the other person," as they are big changes about who you are or what you do in life.

        • Mengsk

          Might I suggest that you're overestimating the magnitude of the changes that you need to make? I know it can feel like change is impossible. But as someone who, just a year ago, genuinely believed that I was too awkward, cerebral, inconsiderate and introverted to make friends or find a lover except in miraculous the-stars-have-aligned situations, I feel like most of the changes that I made were not massive or revolutionary. It was more a matter of finding social situations where I felt at ease and could get genuinely engaged and involved, and do things with what I consider to be my best qualities. That's not to say it was easy– building confidence to actually start asking people out was rediculous. But looking back, I don't feel like I fundamentally changed who I was.

          • I think it probably depends on how broken you are. For some people, big changes maybe aren't necessary. But for some other people, it seems like they have to go the opposite end of the spectrum to have any success. Maybe I've read Dr. NL's story wrong, but it seems like he essentially created himself anew to have the kind of success he did.

            In metaphorical terms, maybe you were 70% awesome, and just needed a bit twitches to get to 85% awesome. But someone is at 25% awesome would need some big changes to get to the same level, if that makes sense?…

          • I think it depends on how fundamentally broken your character is, and what exactly needs to be changed. Some people really do only need to slightly adjust a few things to be even better. But if your foundation is rotten, no amount of awesome change to the paint color of the house or the cool bay windows is going to amount too much; you have to change the foundation.

            So I think deciding whether massive or revolutionary change is needed depends entirely on how much, and what specifically, you need to change.

          • Mengsk

            My point is that when you're in the thick of rejection, it's very easy to see your problems as more essential to your person than they actually are. That doesn't mean that the task of self improvement is easy, but it's also simply not productive to view it as this cataclysmic upheaval. You keep on saying that you don't know how to make yourself more appealing, which makes an awful lot of sense if you view yourself as fundamentally unappealing. I expect, like most people, you're something of a mixed bag, and you need to find situations that bring out the things that you like most about yourself. I'm not saying this is easy, particularly when you're convinced that those characteristics are inherently repulsive.

        • Gentleman Horndog

          "But I thought a frequent point of this site is that we SHOULDN'T really love and accept who we are…. That we need to appraise ourselves with clear, open eyes and change/adjust as necessary."

          Wow. We really are reading different sites with the same URL, aren't we.

          There's a hell of a difference between "You should identify and adjust attitudes and behaviors that are damaging and counter-productive" and "You suck and need to rebuild yourself from the ground up." Loving who you are does not mean clinging ferociously to every thought and habit as though they were somehow inviolable, immutable cornerstones of your identity as a human being.

          When I read this site, I take away a message of growth. That doesn't mean scrapping who you are; that means learning to become a better version of yourself.

          If you hate yourself, of course you're going to see nothing worth preserving when you look within. Even if you could rebuild yourself as a completely different person (and you can't), you'd just find a new set of reasons why this shiny new version of yourself is woefully inadequate, too.

          You are a flawed, imperfect being — just like the rest of us. That is never going to change — for any of us. You are also intelligent, articulate, compassionate, attractive, and likely have a host of other splendid qualities not immediately apparent in this format. Until you can learn to see, accept, and appreciate the latter without obsessing over the former, until you can accept what's good about yourself without reflexively suffocating it beneath a pile of reasons why it either isn't true or doesn't matter, you're going to remain unhappy.

          • Rachel

            Hear Hear!

            Marty, I think the general consensus is that your greatest stumbling block is your crippling lack of self-esteem. As a result you are desperate for positive attention from people whose opinions matter to you–in this context that is nerdy men. Unfortunately, that desperation and your lack of self esteem are scaring folks off. Personally, if I were you, I would quit trying to meet men, and learn to not hinge your self-worth upon the validation of a man's approval of you.

            I know, easier said than done. But seriously, the biggest problem you have is your own self-image.

          • As far as stop trying to meet men… Well I'm already at Forcible Celibate, give it a few more years and I'll be Forever Alone as well. If I could figure out how to stop wanting a relationship, I'd do that immediately.

          • Rachel

            Afraid of being Forever Alone? That right there is part of your problem. Hell the Doc wrote a post about this back in April. Why are you afraid of it? Why do you think that finding a mate happens on a timetable or that your worth as a woman has an expiration date? Yeah I know the whole baby-making thing has an expiration date, but are you looking for a relationship so you can be a mother, or because you want the relationship? if so, then you need to figure out WHY you want a relationship so badly, and what you expect to get out of it that you cant give yourself. Some introspection is in order, here.

            As an aside, I wonder if you realize that relationships dont make anyone better, or fix anything. They simply echo who you are and who your partner is, magnifying all your issues and by some magic alchemy, combines them to create new issues that require significant self-confidence to get through them without losing your sense of self.

          • Well, yes, I want kids. That's probably #2 reason for why I want marriage. The "wanting a relationship" and "wanting kids" goes hand-in-hand. I rather expect that once I've hit the fertility skid, a lot of my desire for a relationship and marriage will disappear, because one of the primary things I desired a long-term relationship for will vanish.

            I'm pretty sure I want a relationship for the same standard reasons most people want a relationship: companionship, sharing your life with someone. For me, my boyfriend/husband also becomes my best friend. Without a relationship, I have no best friend, because that role is occupied for many other people, other by their spouse or by a different friend. I've never been anyone's best friend, and I really crave that kind of intimacy, closeness and connectivity.

            It also becomes a big drag to always experience new things by yourself. Yeah, new things are fun, but doing everything by yourself gets awfully lonely. I can't exactly remind myself of that one funny time in Tokyo when I accidentally sat in ketchup while wearing khaki pants. I already do 95% of the things in my life on my own… it's just be nice to have someone to share the burden and the joy with.

          • maggie

            Clear, open eyes doesn't necessarily mean "blistering, degrading self-criticism" either… Yeah, DNL advocates we take a good look in the mirror, but not in the mirror of doom, gloom and everything bad… Let's stay realistic.

        • StarryFork

          Marty, have you ever considered speaking to a counselor or therapist regarding your issues of self-love/hate? I feel like dozens of commenters here have re-iterated that you consistently present yourself as kind, funny, interesting and interested, however you are not able to believe that this is true.

          I also get the impression that your friends are abusive POS's who are not going to be good people for you to talk out your thoughts and issues with. You need someone impartial you can speak to – hopefully someone that will earn your trust and that you can believe in.

          I feel like the big, necessary changes frequently discussed in DNL world are more in terms of attitude and perspective and behaviour than changes to your actual self – who by all examples is a pretty cool person, just one who really needs a genuine soul-hug.

          Don't abandon who you are – definitely don't! But you need to love who you are, even if you ARE plagued by doubts. This is a really hard thing to do, and that's why I'm hoping you have a source for outside therapeutic help in this matter. But I really think that you're not going to find the right partner for yourself until you stop tearing yourself down so constantly and consistently.

          • It still goes back to the idea that maybe tearing down is needed. I have spoken to several counselors, but they've never been able to help me, because they can't figure out why I seem to so totally alienate everyone around me. Maybe I'm just really, really good at subconsciously masking myself around therapists, but at least two of them have commented on the difference between what they see in their office, and how people "on the outside" describe me.

            I have just run into far too many people who vehemently dislike me in real life, to hand-wave it away. There obviously is something fundamentally broken and wrong about me, I just can't figure out WHAT…. thus the frequent tearing/questing.

            Would you love yourself if deep down, it seemed you were an awful person. but you didn't know exactly HOW you were awful?

          • StarryFork

            But don't you think that maybe people are being alienated by you because you despise yourself and are constantly giving off a "wouldn't want to be part of a club that would have me as a member" aura? Or like the Horndog said, "I Hate Myself Because I Suck So Much" vibes.

            I've got to say, I find it almost impossible to spend time around people who violently despise themselves, even when I actually like them as people.

            I think you don't need tearing down. I think you need building up.

            Also, I do love myself, even though I know exactly how awful of a person I can be, at my worst. I love myself because I know I'm working on being better at the things I want to work on, and I have fundamental faith and trust in my own personality and worth. If you don't have that, well I feel that this is where therapists and professionals come in.

          • Nah, I started alienating people way before I had any idea that I sucked. And I only think I am suck after being told for years that I suck. In isolation, I am rather *shrug* about myself. Put me around either people, and I start thinking I suck because that is the feedback I get from those around me.

            But we've gone round and round on this score, and it's just seems to be too hard a thing to explain from the inside/understand the outside, so it's probably best to ignore the whole topic. I'd rather not endure another chorus of "God, stop being so annoying and grow some self-esteem!"

          • StarryFork

            Well I've been alienating people for years, and I don't suck. Alienating people is a genius test to discover what kind of people you are not suited to hanging out with.

            And though people may have been telling you that you suck for years, people don't necessarily know shit. As dozens of other commenters have told you, "those people" sound like epic assholes, and even if they are good cosplay friends, they are bad actual friends.

            IMO, in isolation, you really ought to feel <3 about yourself.

            And just one last comment – have you ever considered that you are blinded by self-loathing to the point that YOU ARE WRONG ABOUT YOURSELF? And that the impartial chorus of internet people telling you that you're great, and to grow some self-esteem might actually be correct? Just consider it. Unless of course you already know better. In which case, how is that working out for you? :/ It's not? Why not try considering that we are right about you and you are wrong?

          • Ah, the trouble is, the Internet isn't impartial (and even here, I piss people off like no tomorrow. Trolling-without-meaning-to seems to be my special talent.) If it comes right down to it, I'll believe the people I run into in my every day life over the Internet, because on the Internet I have much greater control over how I appear…. Like with the therapist, I may be subconsciously masking my brokenness in a way that I can't when among people in the real world.

            If you had a forum of people telling you you were awful, but your friends telling you you were fantastic, you'd believe your friends right? Because they actually know you. So I think you can see why I'm more inclined to believe real-life people. And real life people really don't dig me.

            I choose *shrug* in isolation mostly because I'm not thinking about myself, negatively or positively. I'm just doing whatever I'm doing, and what I'm doing is separate from my idea of who I am. I think about who I am only in relation to other people, because it's the difference between them and me that makes me, me. (Wow, that got trippy.)

          • StarryFork

            I find talking to you frustrating, it's true – which is a variant of being pissed off. It's just that you seem to have a lot going on brain-wise, and frankly you're a darn sight more physically attractive than me.

            But I love myself. I love myself, big thick ankles and all. Weird blotchy, pudgy, old-lady legs and all. I love myself, hairy nipples* and all. I love myself, abrasive, hot-headed personality and all.

            And since I know that I'm worthy of love, I was able to find *and recognize* love when I ran into it on a date.

            Until you decide that you're a good person, worth being loved by yourself, I don't see your life starting to pick up any other people who love you, either as friends or potential husbands.

            You can fight all you want about how real life people don't dig you, or why they don't. Yeah, I get that. But do you want people to dig you? In future? Got to dig yourself, sister.

            *did you hear that, btw? I have hairy nipples. and I can't pluck those ladies either, I assure you it does not end well. When you are feeling particularly self-loathing, just remember that you did not have to overcome hairy nipple self-hatred.

          • eselle28

            As far as I can tell, people here like you plenty when it comes to every topic besides this one.

            As for real life friends, you definitely have some who don't seem to dig you. You've mentioned at least one female friend, however, and I think I remember you writing in the past about having a close guy friend who you went to for support sometimes (apologies if I'm remembering incorrectly). Do those people seem like they don't dig you? Or are we talking more about ex-boyfriends and more critical friends?

          • You're remembering correctly. I do have a close guy friend I go to for support, and a few very awesome lady-friends who I look up to. But I kinda see those friendships as…. tolerant? Like, they are all very kind-hearted, warm souls who I think hang around with me out of mixture of pity, empathy, and "eh why the hell not." I think I get way more out of the friendships than they do.

            Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful that they at least pleasantly tolerate me. But I've always suspected that if I stopped calling them and bugging them to hang out, they'd drift away.

          • eselle28

            Ah. I don't know your friends, of course, but I think it's at least worth considering that you're dead wrong and that these friends genuinely care about you. You're kind-hearted and empathetic yourself, so it shouldn't be a surprise that other caring people like being around you.

            I think it might be worth assigning those friends' opinions of you (as expressed vocally and shown by the fact that they hang around with you) a much higher value.

          • I would assign a higher value if they didn't immediately start to disappear/forget I exist as soon as I stopped calling or bugging them.

          • hobbesian

            Ah hah so I'm not the only one who suffers from this rather debilitating jerkbrain tendency "Omg I didn't here from X for 2 days he must hate me forever what did I do to deserve this !!!11111!!"

            9 times out of 10.. it just means they are busy with other stuff.

          • Uh, well, I mean more like weeks or months, before I finally break down and call them. Lots of broken plans as well. Pretty sure that's not Jerk-brain.

          • hobbesian

            well that's not uncommon for me either.. I have acquaintances that I hang out with some times.. but who I may not hear from for months at a time..

          • ccmc

            If they had a big problem to talk through, would you be there for them? Have you in the past been there for them? Maybe the friendship is more equal than you think.

            Or perhaps you're not sure that they would come to you with a big problem. I have found it useful when I realize the potential for a lopsided friendship to explicitly say, "Hey, what exactly is going on with X? How are you feeling about that?" and make sure I take lots of time with follow-up questions and concentrated listening. I have found it to make a big difference in my feelings about the friendship, even leaving aside the other person feeling cared for (which is obviously important).

            I'm not saying it's necessarily one or the other of those situations, just food for thought.

          • Robjection

            Actually, I wouldn't automatically believe my friends. In theory, they are supposed to know me better than some random people on the internet. However, even the greatest idiot can have moments of genius and the greatest genius have moments of idiot. It's entirely possible that, despite my friends telling me that I am fantastic, I am actually pretty awful.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "I have spoken to several counselors, but they've never been able to help me, because they can't figure out why I seem to so totally alienate everyone around me."

            I do not see this as remotely mysterious.

            Marty: Help! What am I doing wrong?

            Others: You hate yourself. It is vastly more obvious than you think. It's exhausting and grating. Please stop it.

            Marty: Of course I hate myself! Have you MET me? There's nothing worthwhile about me!

            Others: Nonsense. What about X?

            Marty: [Initiates lengthy discussion on why X is untrue.]

            Others: Jesus. Okay, not agreeing with you, but what about Y? Y is a positive character trait you clearly possess in abundance.

            Marty: [Initiates lengthy discussion on why Y is irrelevant.]

            Others: Right, sensing a pattern. Just to say we tried … you've very, very obviously got Z going for you, at least.

            Marty: [Initiates lengthy discussion on why Z is both a lie AND irrelevant.]

            Others: I'm gonna go see if there's anything good on TV.

            Marty: SEE? I win the argument! I AM completely worthless! Help! Won't somebody PLEASE help me figure out what I'm doing wrong?!


          • Ooorrrr, maybe I hate myself because people are constantly telling me I'm exhausting, grating, and annoying. Just a thought.

            And for the record, no one in real life says "What about X" or any of those things. This is what I mean about the disconnect between the Internet and real life. I think what I do about myself because of what people tell me about myself, and people don't tell me positive things in real life.

          • StarryFork

            Orrrrrrr. Maybe they are exhausted/grated/annoyed because you are constantly telling them how unloveable you are, and unwilling to foster any debate on this subject? 😉

          • Rather chicken or the egg isn't it?

            Though, I did try an experiment once. I had this group of friends who really, really didn't seem to like me. They claimed the exact same thing, that they didn't like me because I was "always" complaining about how unlovable I am. So for 6 months I shut up. I kept the conversation completely focused on them, let not a word about my private thoughts or life slip my lips (they had no idea I had a boyfriend for several months), and did my absolute best to act as passively and nicely as possible.

            Big shocker, they STILL disliked me and found me annoying. Sure, they tolerated me more cheerfully, but it didn't really change their opinion of me.

          • StarryFork

            I just still don't understand this whole "hanging out with people who really dislike you" thing. Life's too short! Maybe… you would hate yourself less if you weren't so constantly in negative, judgey, self-hatey situations?

          • I do try to hang out with those types less or not at all. But it leads to an awfully lonely life, and lots of people to avoid when out and about.

          • Maggie

            Or maybe there's a middle ground that's not passively-aggressively saying absolutely nothing to them at all… Friends share happy things as well as bad. I enjoy much more telling my friends about the adorable knitting pattern I just completed or the pies I baked than bemoaning the fact that I spent the weekend baking and browsing for patterns online instead of being social. Mainly because if I had been social I wouldn't have pie and that would be a true tragedy.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            So, you hate yourself because people who otherwise like you get frustrated by your refusal to confront how much you hate yourself?

            You come here looking for help. I'm quite certain you're looking for it sincerely.

            But whenever anybody responds by saying something nice about you, you fight them. Fight them like they just insulted your mother.

            Whenever anybody responds by suggesting another less-brutal perspective or things you can try, you fight them. Fight them like a methed-out honey badger.

            It seems like the ONLY response you'll accept when you request help is some variant of "Nope, you're fucked, nothing you can do about it!" Except that's just speculation because, from what I've seen, nobody on here is actually a big enough bastard to do that. Not even the trolls.

            In fact, if anybody here were to be as big an asshole to you as you are to yourself, they'd get banned. Fast.

            If you're not willing to confront the self-loathing that oozes from everything you write about yourself, I seriously doubt you'll find the help you're looking for.

          • Except there is no evidence that real-life people otherwise like me. That's what I'm trying to point out.

            I fight it because it lacks evidence or logic. If someone can give me examples about why I am X, I'd be a lot less tolerant. But saying "Oh, you're so X!" without any examples or reference as to WHY they think I am X just comes across as ego-stroking or being nice for the sake of being nice. Like how even when I knew a friend thought I was fat (because she'd told mutual friends that she thought I was fat), she'd rush up to tell me how thin I looked. I don't trust anything without proof (and that goes for negative things, I just have way more proof in the negative columns.)

          • StarryFork

            Luke/Marty: I can't believe it.

            Yoda/DNL commenters: That is why you fail.

          • Honeybadger

            Delurking and probably going to dive back into lurking mode after this post, because I usually don't like to repeat stuff I said or that others already stated.
            Marty, you mentioned seeing yourself (or being seen as) 'broken', and wondering what exactly that brokenness might be. I will now list some common factors that can potentially make somebody feel broken (you might say that you are totally not like any of that, but usually a bunch of special snowflakes makes up snow, an snow looks pretty much the same most of the time.)
            – Traumatic experiences in the family: a parent with a mental disease, death, divorce, disfunctional relationships of any sort
            – Traumatic experiences in childhood: Harassment in school, whether by a group of students, the whole class, the teacher(s), in varying grades of systemacy, over a prologued period of time. Standing out in any way (exceptionally good/bad grades) and making yourself believe you are largely defined by that
            – Personal mental history…accidents? Phobias?
            These things most commonly lead people to believe that they are worthless in some way. So what to do?
            – Consider therapy. (Because I don't claim I can help you overcome traumatic stuff, and most people will not be able too, either. The following tips only pertain to a factor of your mental health. Disclaimer out.)
            – Realise you are not that special, i.e. you could potentially open up to somebody who made similar experiences.
            – Don't 'use' friendships. What I mean: Don't solely form friendships so you have one more 'mirror' that can hopefully give you a more accurate/more pleasing self perception. It's a thankless job, it's nobody's job, and nobody will be able to do that. Also, friendships in general would be very boring if friends only talked about what they thought was wrong with them.
            You can instead: bond over common interests, find stuff that makes you both laugh, experience stuff together. Make positive memories. If somebody makes you feel bad about yourself consistently, resist to put more energy into that downward spiral of negativity (it actually doesn't matter who started the negative spiral!!!), and move on, put positive energy into other friendships.
            Likewise, if you make yourself feel bad about yourself consistently, stop following that train of thought. Change negative messages (' I can't xyz / I'm not zyx') into positive ones (I could try abc! I could do efg!)
            It actually does not matter if your view of the world is inherently optimistic, realistic or pessimistic. Even if you are a pessimist, you may find comfort in the thought that most people are egoists first and altruists second, so you will never be wrong in finding something that interests somebody else personally, and this should produce 'reliable results'.
            My cred: I am by no means a psychologist or anything of that sort, but had self esteem issues until my early teens (as well as mild Asperger's) and was yearning for friendships as a kid. Stopping my mental downward spiral and assuming the best of other people (aka picturing the desired outcome) enabled me to adapt to, screen for, and find these people that liked me as well as I liked them; and abandon those I didn't click with faster, and with less collateral damage. Friendly nods all around.
            I know you were writing about relationships, but relationships require a component of healthy friendshipping plus a component of healthy self perception-ing, among other.

          • zmd

            Then I would make a list of characteristics you like about people. When you meet some and you like them, just as a human being, as yourself why. Why do you think the wives and girlfriends of the geek guys you meet are lovely people? Is it because they ask you questions about yourself? Do they remember things about you? Do they try to help you or offer you advice? Are they welcoming, friendly, and how? Do they show up to things when you invite them? Do the invite you to things? Try to cultivate those positive traits in yourself.

          • Cait

            I am hella curious and would love to actually talk to you outside of the forums about regular stuff. Is it odd that I'm more intrigued by you than grated or annoyed?

          • You would be alone in that regard round these parts.

          • enail


          • Cait

            Seriously, Marty. I sent you a friend request on Facebook.

          • KMR

            I actually feel the same way as Cait. I always enjoy reading your comments and forum posts. You remind me of myself in some ways, and you seem like the type of person I would get along well with.

            It's just that since I don't post very much, and we haven't conversed directly, I figure you know next to nothing about me and regard me as a total stranger (or maybe what you know of me you don't like), so I figure it would be really awkward of me to be all like, "Let's be friends!" Plus, I'm way too shy to initiate that sort of thing.

          • Yeah, I was gonna comment and then… em, what's the point… might as well pay my bills while I'm online…

            Your comment sums it up pretty nicely.

          • Thanks for commenting just to add to the pile of how annoying and grating I am. It really does wonders for this self-esteem you are all constantly harping on me to have!

          • StarryFork

            How come you totally absorb the parts of our communications when we're getting frustrated at your lack of ability to face down your low self esteem issues, but you completely skim over/ignore the parts of our communications when we're talking about how cool, smart, likeable you seem?

          • Because you give examples of the grating and annoying and not for the cool and likable part. Not sure if you saw my comment up about, but with how people are socialized to be nice and complimentary even when they don't believe the compliment, I tend not to put much stock in statements that don't have any evidence behind them.

          • StarryFork

            Well I'm sorry that I don't have time to comb back through the forums for specific quotable examples of you being witty, or compassionate, or funny, or any of the other complimentary things people have said about you in this thread.

            Frankly, I'm confident that you'd be able to argue it up about how you weren't being funny or interesting, so there's no chance that it could result in any "proof" for you either.

          • Gentleman Horndog

            "Because you give examples of the grating and annoying and not for the cool and likable part."

            … because all the people who tell you you look damn good in your photographs? Do not count.

            Because the way your contributions to conversations that aren't about yourself are consistently upvoted and engaged by other commentors? Does not count.

            Because the fact that people try, over and over again, to help you with your issues, even though you are not, to put it mildly, somebody who accepts help well? Almost as if we found something genuinely likable about you and sincerely want to help, as though we are trying to help a friend? Does not count.

            But anything negative, even if it's very obviously rooted in the frustration of watching a friend suffer for (what we clearly feel to be) no damn reason? TOTALLY COUNTS.

            Explain to me again how there is no evidence either for your positive qualities or for your willingness to ignore them.

          • Telling me I need to wear a corset all the time to negate how fat I am and that I have presentation problems… not sure how that counts as looking good.

            Upvoted, no. Engaged, sure. But "engaged" does not mean "valued," since people here engage with trolls as well. I get down-voted just as often as I get up-voted.

            As for helping me with issues…. well, sort of, though then again, I really don't understand how people think telling me I'm annoying and frustrating and grating is helpful.

          • Maggie

            No one told you you needed to wear a corset because you looked fat. They said you looked good in a corset and if you felt comfortable and sexy in one, why not wear one all the time. Hell, I wear corsets regularly and I weigh 100lbs soaking wet. Id you said that you felt sexiest in a burlap sack I'm sure people here would be telling you to strut your stuff in that. You are choosing to see the negative and ignoring the positive. As I said higher up the comment stream, looking at oneself realistically does not mean looking at yourself negatively. It also means finding the positive and focusing on making it even better.

          • Yes, I looked good in a corset because it made me look skinnier, and as if I have a different body shape than I actually do. IE, I look fat without one.

            You'd have to have something positive first to focus on it.

          • enail

            Hey Marty, do you think maybe you could try to avoid saying that you don't have anything positive about your appearance here?

            It's such a strong and blanket statement that it tends to get into that territory where everyone feels they have to argue to defend their vision of reality – it seems like you're saying "this is a fact," and basing all your other points on that premise, but anyone who doesn't agree that the basic premise is true feels like they have to challenge it because if they move on to the rest of your points, it seems like they're accepting your premise as fact.

            I don't want to shut you down, and it's not that I don't think you should ever say anything negative, but when you state something in such absolute terms, it's hard to discuss things in a way that doesn't escalate into these self-esteem discussion spirals. Do you see what I mean at all?

          • Just trying to be honest.

          • enail

            I understand that, and I'm not trying to suggest that you lie instead. You can only operate from reality as you see it. But other people can only operate from reality as they see it. And those two perceptions of reality are quite different.

            So it would help me if you could phrase things in such a way that it doesn't seem like you're stating an absolute fact, because it's hard to move past it if it seems like someone is making an assertion of fact that you think is incorrect. It's like, say I'm good at math, If I say "I didn't have a problem with that math question. Here's the technique I used to solve," people probably wouldn't think at all about the first sentence, they'd just move on to thinking about the technique I'm suggesting. But If I said "that question was so easy no one would ever have a hard time with it," they'd probably land up discussing that, because that might disagree with their perception of reality.

            For my part, I'll try not to express my opinion in a way that denies your perception of reality either. Does that seem fair? 🙂

          • Honest by whose standards? Much as I hate the pure preteniousness of claiming someone has internalized X, operating on the '2/10 would not bang' model of one's porn-perusing peers who have a hypocritical attitude towards how well they themselves have to dress is an exercise in misery.

            A handy exercise is to compare what you find your best picture and your worst picture. Observe the lighting differences, the expression, the way your hair falls, your posture, how the clothing falls on you, how the colour co-ordinates with your eyes and hair, what accessoires you're wearing or aren't wearing but which you would want to add, etcetera. Focus only on factors you can easily change.

            Looks are malleable for the most part.

          • enail

            Can I just mention, then, how much I enjoy your comments on the forum? You have some of the smartest, most insightful posts on there, and so often you bring a completely different angle that no one else has come up with. For some recent examples, I've been loving your Game of Thrones comments, your stuff in that thread on Stepfording and what you said about guys who act personally offended by fat women.

            Also, I enjoy your mad use of animated gifs, your pirate pants, and that photo in the Raven costume is so fun, it would definitely make me want to meet you if I were browsing photos for friends.

          • Joy

            Socialization or not, I don't generally give compliments I don't mean. If someone gets a haircut and I don't like it, I don't say "nice haircut, it looks great!" I just don't comment on it one way or the other.

            This is especially true online. There have been occasions in face-to-face personal interactions where not saying something nice, positive, or complimentary would be obvious, awkward, and slightly rude. So in those cases I'll do so. But I'm certainly not going to go out of my way to pay someone insincere compliments on the internet where nobody is looking at me and waiting expectantly.

            I don't think you're gorgeous–most people aren't–but I do think you're reasonably cute. And when you aren't talking about how awful you are, you're articulate, sometimes insightful, and occasionally witty. You seem like you've got some interesting hobbies. I really think the main thing holding you back is your determination to believe bad things about yourself and your utter refusal to let anyone else believe differently.

          • Hey, I figured if all the stuff we've been telling you so far hasn't worked (and I've tried to snap you out of it several times as well), maybe letting you be is the best thing to do! We've already had lengthy discussions here about your self image several times before to no effect, so maybe it's best if we didn't put you in situations where you feel you need to prove how horrible you are. Seriously, what else is there to do? I think leaving you alone to have some introspection might be best.

          • (grrrrr, part of my comment is missing)

            Anyway, my point is we're obviously not helping, and maybe it's time we stop playing therapist before we do more damage. We may have good intentions, but you know what they say about good intentions (road to hell and all that jazz).

          • Gentleman Horndog


            Valid points.

            What's on TV?…

          • Okay, gonna be really blunt here: I freaking hate you people for doing this to me every.single.time.

            You *choose* to comment. I am not holding a gun to your head. I was not even TRYING to go down this track in this article or comment thread. Now it's divulged into yet another "Poor Me" argument tra-la-la round-the-world trip where I look like an attention-gobbling drama queen, and you heavily sigh and dramatically roll your eyes about how difficult this is for you, and how you try SO HARD to help.

            If you *know* I am "difficult" to help in your words, then don't throw yourself into the thread and then pout that I am difficult to help. It's like wandering into a zoo and shaming the giraffe for having a long neck. You know it has a long neck. Either enjoy the long neck, or don't go to the zoo.

            And I ESPECIALLY hate it, because people have used my "low self-esteem" to beat up on me my entire life. Claiming I hate myself is the excuse bullies use 90% of the time to continue harassing me. "Well, you don't like yourself, so why should I? If you just liked yourself, I'd stop." It makes me responsible for other people's bad behavior towards me, and ya know what, I ALREADY freaking internalize that shit enough as it is. Don't tell me to have better self-esteem, while simultaneously bemoaning how difficult/annoying/grating/frustrating I am. *How do you think that helps?*

            Either help me, or don't. If you're gonna help me, then at the very least accept who I am, and try to emphasize if ya can. If you don't wanna help (and there is no law of human decency stating you must), then please have the decent not to bemoan how you totally WOULD help me if I wasn't just soooooo ungrateful or frustrating or what have you.

          • ccmc

            Hi Marty. I didn't participate much in the thread above, but I wanted to ask you a question. Are there any particular kinds of advice or comments that you would like? Please understand I'm not asking this in any kind of negative way–genuine question. Is it okay with you if people point out a moment when you might be interpreting something very negatively? Is it okay if people make any comments about your looks or personality, even if it is a positive?

            Obviously I don't speak for anyone but myself, but I would like to know what sorts of conversations feel the most helpful to you.

          • Sure, point out a moment where I'm being negative. I was enjoying/engaged with this comment thread right up until it became yet another "You obviously hate yourself, and I'm going to scowl and sniff and judge you for it."

            I don't enjoy those comments for the reasons listed above, and because they don't DO anything. They don't engage me, they don't seek to understand me or really connect with me by maybe sharing something about yourself. They just strike me as judgmental and have a "I have figured this out and won't bother understanding you any more" quality to them, which in turn makes them feel pointless…. okay, you've figured me out and decided I'm X, now what?

          • StarryFork

            Hi Marty,

            I'm sorry that I was involved in the above madness – I agree with Ladyshark, it's clear that we are not engaging you or making any kind of positive difference. I apologize, since it's clear that I have made you feel worse in this situation.

            Regarding your advice, I did try to point out a moment when you were being negative, I did try to engage you by sharing something personal about myself – probably the thing I am the most self-loathing about and the thing that makes me feel totally unloveable and societally hideous worthless about. And how I overcame that, and how my partner was able to overlook it and see my value as a human being.

            I'm sorry for judging you – that's not respectful behaviour, and it's not like we are trained professionals.

            I don't want to judge you or make you feel bad. And I didn't get involved in this to do that either. I guess the reason I got involved in this is because – I don't really know why – but I like you. I keep coming back to this site, not just for the articles, but because I hope that you will have changes in your life, positive changes. And I want to see you find a place where you feel happy and worthwhile and loved.

            I hope you are able to find it someday. Best wishes.

          • ccmc

            Okay, so what I'm getting from that is that the most specific comment or advice is probably the best for you? While it may be true that self esteem is at the root of things, it is a giant thing to tackle all at once, and doesn't seem very actionable. On the other hand, pointing out a specific instance in which you neglect to take the positive into account could potentially help you get in the habit of balancing the bad with the good, do you think? I personally believe a large portion of happiness is habitual–habitually taking note of good moments, getting in the habit of avoiding bad moments and people, etc. It's not one big thing, but a collection of details trending more positively than they did before.

            Regarding your original question, somebody (I've lost track of who) recommended your local makerspace for meeting people, and I would second that. Not only would you meet new people, you'd be creating something, which I always think is good for one's day, and you'd be around people who are motivated to do the same. You seem to be really creative, so I imagine those would be your people. 🙂

          • And you're right – we need to break this cycle of behaviour and the best thing to do is not to let the threads get out of hand. You push back, we push harder, la la la, and we get nowhere. The truth is, as much as we want to help you, I'm not sure we can. In fact, I think we're making the situation worse. Yes, we choose to comment, but we don't tell you what you want to hear, or what you need to hear (and I have no idea what we are suppose to say, because WTF do I know, I just drew Benedict Cumberbatch with a tiger), and it all gets out of control and ends with: "I freaking hate you people for doing this to me every.single.time. ". We just have to accept we're not helping and bow out.

          • zmd

            Your comments remind me somewhat of an ex of mine. No matter what happened, it was terrible, and if it wasn't terrible, it wasn't enough. No one cared about him, no one loved him. I loved him to death, and every time I brought it up it didn't matter because "well, one time you made this joke and it made me feel bad." And I would say "Baby, that was a year ago, and I've already said I'm sorry. How are you still holding on to that?" but none of it would matter. Everything was terrible, and he had it worse than everyone. Then it progressed to "I'm worthless, I don't deserve all this shit but I'll keep getting for the rest of my life."

            Marty, this is such a dangerous path to start on. Your attitude will color the rest of your life and hurt the people around you. My ex and I broke up over two years ago, and his emotional abuse still haunts me. I love my current boyfriend, but everyday I worry that he'll become that depressed self-loathing person my ex still is. I urge you to see a therapist again, and really try to work through it. Show him or her this comment thread. These are deep issues that often take years of work to resolve.

          • Uh, if he was an abusive jerk, then he was right about how he was terrible and unlovable. You *shouldn't* have loved him. Why would you love someone who was abusive and worthless? It's good you got out of it and found someone else, but if someone is worthless and abusive, why shouldn't they be self-loathing?

          • zmd

            I didn't fall in love with him when he was abusive. I loved him because once I saw good in him, and it's probably still there, buried deep underneath his self-loathing. Even as bad as he was, he was not as bad as he thought he was, and as a friend and someone who loved him, I wanted him to be better. I will never get back together with him, but I will also never believe that he's just naturally a terrible human being that can never get better with hard work and self-evaluation. Ironically, he wasn't self-loathing but being abusive. If anything, that seemed to be justified in his f-ed up mental state.

            Despite everything, he wasn't worthless. No one is worthless. Perhaps you don't have the tools to feel worthy, but that doesn't mean you can't get them.

          • Nobody is worthless in terms of being treated like a human being, but some people are worthless when it comes to the friends/dating sphere. We are not all entitled to a relationship or friendships; some people really are worthless when it comes to the value they add to someone else's life.

          • Mengsk

            Feel bad for getting back into this, but we're an advice community. We're here (or perhaps I should say "I'm here") because we find these problems with love/dating interesting and challenging, and it's personally rewarding for us to help people who have them. Most of us also have or have had similar problems.

            I don't know how to speak in online forums without making it seem like we're ganging up on you. When I was bullied, the advice was always stick up for yourself. I never figured out how to do that– every time I tried just left me feeling more worthless and powerless. It only got better when I went to a new school where the people were (thankfully) much nicer. But even a decade later I feel like I'm carrying that baggage. So yeah, these comment threads feel a lot like ganging up, a lot like harassment, a lot like victim blaming. And it's fucking bad. I just wish I knew how to do it differently.

            I mean, I don't know. I feel like, if you're looking for advice, I guess the idea is follow the sort of advice that you find engaging. That could be poetry, philosophy, literature, even religion if that's your thing. I mean, i can infer from your presence here that you find social activism/feminism engaging. I don't know, perhaps joining an activist community, or something else whose work you really value. The point is to find a way to engage with your issues without getting derailed by fears fears and toxic thoughts. If philosophy is your thing, I'd check out Existentialism is a Humanism. If it's literature, Paulo Cohelo has pulled me out of some pretty bad places.

            Also, props for playing Magic! It's a fantastic game. I never have time to play it anymore, but I still read about it whenever I have the opportunity.

          • FormerlyShyGuy

            Your only annoying and grating feature is this insistence that you are annoying a grating!

          • Debra

            You can go further than speaking to several counselors and actually find some serious help.

            I'm only a quiet lurker on this website who comments abouts once every 5 months or so, but I do read the comments and I do think that you can greatly benefit from seriously pursuing help. Your outside/inside issue is very familiar to me and it may actually be true that you subconsciously present yourself differently to other people.

            Your forcing yourself into a neat little corner, convinced that people not liking you equals you being the villain of your own little story. It is more likely an unfortunate combination of factors that make the outcome a really hard cycle to break out of.

            Don't drop looking for help because not everyone can help you. It took me two years before I found someone who was on the same wavelength.

          • >your own little story

            This, so much this. Trying to create a consistent narrative of the self is an absolute detriment to happiness, especially when you run the risk of turning it into a Greek tragedy. The impressions the negative ninnies in your surroundings have of you are a series of fundamental attribution errors turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

            As objective as all your self-criticism may be to you, look at how they coincide with mood and moment. Do you remember times when you were riding a confidence high, felt like singing in the shower and suchlike, in which all those gloomy voices inside your head mattered none? Which one is the more realistic version of you?

            The answer is neither. You're a different person even from second to second. There is no intrinsic self, and the harder you convince yourself of that, the easier it will be to change it. At least, that's what worked for me.

        • hobbesian

          Honestly, I am not saying this to take a dig at you, so please don't take it as such.. but I checked out the OkCupid site for your town and you have some seriously stiff competition.. it's left no doubt in my mind, that if some of these women who have "No one has contacted her this week" blue dots.. there must seriously be something to your gender demographics comment…

          My suggestion? Is figure out how to re-brand yourself and make yourself stand out…. There are a LOT of "quirky, cute, nerdy girls" in the twin cities..

          • My strategy should probably be to give up, as someone mentioned up thread. I'll figure out how to one of these days…

          • zmd

            for strict meeting someone purposes, I got a lot out of reading Arden Leigh's New Rules of Seduction. She studied PUA with some of the other PUAs, but her approach seems somewhat more genuine and much better geared towards women. You have to take her with a grain of salt though, as she talks way too much about being a professional dominatrix.

        • Gentleman Johnny

          Where's the line between self-love and acceptance, and realizing big, necessary changes* need to be made?

          Where it has been the whole time, at the meeting place between your goals and your unwillingness to change.

    • Mike W.

      Marty, I'm not sure if you're still reading or not, but the way you talk about yourself reminded me of this: Maybe it'll help?

    • zomg

      I've been reading through the thread, and I'd like to say

      1. The friend who gave you a number ranking sounds like an asshole.
      2. You're probably more than "just nerdy"–it sounds like you're also crafty, thoughtful, and outgoing.
      3. The big thing with attractiveness is confidence. I worked for a long time in retail (clothing and otherwise) and what I can tell you about seeing hundreds of people a day is that the ones who were attractive, who I enjoyed talking to, were the confident ones. They tended to be wearing what they liked, they walked and spoke with confidence, and they generally seemed to be having a good time in their own life. Body type, clothing choice, profession, and age were all irrelevant.

      Good luck, homeslice. You sound awesome.

  • Girls of my dreams? I only ever dream about entertainment I've watched, so it's time to create a tulpa waifu.

    In all seriousness, what I'm looking for is:

    playful, curious, fidgety, laid-back, easy to laugh with

    working hard and hardly working, always up for volunteer work (abroad), doesn't want to be tied down, sucker for the unorthodox and the cheap, loves to dabble in contradictory subcultures

    It sounds very specific, but there a boatloads of dudettes like that. I suppose that's not a bad thing either.

  • Keenena

    I have to agree that sexual flirting comes off as creepy more often than not. I’m actually willing to have a one night stand with a guy. But he better be attractive, interesting, and not come across as rapey.

  • StarlightArcher

    Funnily enough this sounds just like the List of Ten advice I got in women's ministry at church camp. They had us make a list of the top ten things we sad single ladies wanted in our future spouses. Let me tell you, trying to narrow down a wishlist into the ten most precious things was a nightmare. But the doc's right, writing it down is very helpful. You can learn a lot about yourself by listing what you want in another person.

    Bonus fun, if you happen to find that old list years later (after you've grown and changed a bit) it can make for some really interesting laughes, both the funny and embarrassed kind.

  • Devicat26

    Ugh. Concerning the drilling your date with questions; the last guy I dated on OkCupid did this. We were making polite conversation, talking about subjects we studied in college when I mentioned I didn't get to go to college until I was twenty five (the reason being was personal, that I had a lot of bad things happen in my early twenties that took years to sort out before I was ready for college) and he would not let it go. Asked once why it took me so long, what was I doing? and I replied some personal issues had taken place but I managed to make it back to college and graduate. Asked again, then asked AGAIN. 'Why did you wait so long to go to college?' Did he think I was in jail? Leading a revolution in Cuba? In a cult? Why did he have to harp on something that I said was personal and wasn't comfortable discussing?

    End result; I took this as someone who did not respect my boundaries and told him 'don't call me I'll call you'. Which I never did.

    • eselle28

      Yikes. That's rude.

    • hobbesian

      As someone who didn't get to start college until he was 26… I can sympathize with this a lot. It comes up a LOT when I get messaged on OkC.. it's amazing to me.. considering the state of the economy.. how many women I've talked to who seem to take it as moral failure that I haven't graduated with a Masters degree at 24, and I don't have a career & and a starter home….

      Whenever it comes up, I tell the truth, my mom was sick, someone had to look after her, that someone was me. So for 5 years I basically worked, and took care of a sick person. She's thankfully doing much better now, so I finally was able to get on board the college train and start making moves towards being out on my own again.

      • Maggie

        Imagine the looks I get when I say I'm in trade school… "But…. But don't you want a real degree?"

        • FormerlyShyGuy

          Even though so many real degrees don't lead to a real career like a trade school often can.

  • pjabrony

    Here's my list, transcribed from my hand-written one.

    -Indulgence of my idiosyncrasies, both in nerd culture–I'm an otaku., a brony, and a fan-fiction writer–and in general life–I'm a right-wing libertarian, non-religious person. I worry such niche interests limit my compatibility, but it's who I am.
    -Someone with whom to share activities. A gaming partner in MMOs, both to teach and to learn from. Someone to show me movies and TV series I haven't seen, letting her guide me through them, and vice versa.
    -Being able to enjoy romance with someone. Celebrating Valentine's day, giving flowers, singing love songs. Doing all the schmaltzy things that get the girl in the movies. Even if there's a more mundane foundation to a relationship, I still want the romance.
    -Sex: exploration of fetishes, mostly mental ones. Also an understanding that sexual release is a biological need, no different from going to the bathroom, and should not be denied. That doesn't mean available 24/7/365.25, but it does mean frequent.
    -Economies of scale that come from having a family. If an LTR, being able to enjoy the increased lifestyle that comes from living together, either through two incomes or one partner keeping house (which could be me).

    Comments? Is anything I'm looking for unreasonable? If not, where are the best places to meet people? Do my niche interests hurt my chances?

    • Mel_

      I don't imagine this is something you're bringing up early on in conversations, but your fourth point would raise a major red flag for me. Sexual release is *not* a biological need no different from going to the bathroom. Your body cannot function without expelling waste–it will do so automatically if you try to deny it too long, and trying to avoid doing so causes major health problems. On the other hand, people are physically capable of living long and healthy lives without ever having sex.

      It's fine if you have a high sex drive and want a partner who is similarly enthusiastic, but framing it as a "need" that "should not be denied" gives the impression that you're going to be pushy and demanding about it, and not sympathetic if your partner happens to be having a period where they're not as available. Women respond a lot better to a guy who's focusing on "this is a fun activity that I'd like to do together a lot" rather than "this is a need you must fulfill".

      Your niche interests shouldn't be a problem–there are lots of women otakus and fan-fiction writers (actually I think the majority of fic writers are female), for example. It sounds to me like fandom-based events/groups–conventions, anime clubs, writing circles, gamer meet-ups–would probably be your best bet for finding compatible folks.

      • pjabrony

        Just speaking for myself, not everyone, but if I don't get frequent release, say when I'm on vacation with family and there's no opportunity, I get irritable, distracted, and creepy. Yes, I can live that way, but only in the same way I lived with migraines until I got treatment. It's a quality of life issue. Which isn't to say I'd need my partner to be available all the time, but I would need her to be understanding.

        • Mel_

          Yeah, but you can take care of that on your own, right? You don't need partnered sex to get that release. And it may be unpleasant, but it's still not a need on the same level as using the bathroom.

          My point being that you'll be a lot more successful if you simply look for women who have high sex drives themselves, so that most of the time you will get that release through partnered sex which will be enjoyable to both of you, and are prepared to take care of yourself if your partner is having a particularly stressful week/is under the weather/etc. rather than seeing it as something she should always have to take care of or she's not being "understanding" enough. Seeing partnered sex as a need to be fulfilled for your personal sake rather than an activity to do for mutual pleasure isn't conductive to healthy relationships.

          • pjabrony

            If that's permitted in a relationship. I always believed in breaking up with my right hand when I get someone else.

          • StarryFork

            I just cannot imagine not solo-masturbating regularly. I think that this is something that needs to be part of the discussion between yourself and your partner.

            I don't believe that you should ever focus on masturbation to the point of your partner being unsatisfied, but sometimes you just need release! Oh man, I could never function on a day to day basis without being free to get myself off.

          • Mel_

            Well, what's "permitted" in a relationship is negotiated by the participants in that relationship. The vast majority of women know that men masturbate and don't expect them never to do so while in a relationship, especially if he's made an overture toward partnered sex and she's declined. Most women would prefer you take care of yourself rather than expect them always to be in the mood at the exact same time you are and to get annoyed if they aren't.

            Where opinions differ more is on what materials you use *while* masturbating (acceptance of porn, and what type of porn, is not a given, for example), but again, that's something you work out with your partner.

            Certainly "I have a high sex drive and sometimes will want to masturbate if you're not up for sex" is an attitude much preferred to "I have a high sex drive so you need to be up for sex pretty much whenever I want it or deal with me being crabby". Why on earth would you think "breaking up" with your hand is somehow more respectful to your partner than accepting that sometimes she won't be in the mood when you need release and being able to take care of that without a fuss?

          • eselle28

            If you also have a high sex drive, that may end up being limiting in terms of who you can be partners with. I don't want to try to deemphasize sex as an important part of a relationship. I care about it quite a lot and wouldn't want to date someone who rarely wanted to have sex. But it's hard to find someone who has exactly the same sex drive and who almost never is sick, sad, overworked, depressed, or just plain old turned off. If you're cranky when you don't have regular sex but also aren't willing to take care of yourself when your partner isn't on the same page as you, that could lead to some troubles.

        • Mengsk

          When you need release, jerk off. When you want to be sexually intimate, have sex.

          • Gunther

            Masturbation isn't sex.
            Reciprocity is essential to sex (even casual).

            The fact that the OP conflated the two, to some degree, is kinda gross. But then again, I can well imagine that lots of people are making the same conflation all the time.

        • I'm jumping to conclusions here, but when you get irritable and distracted, it makes it sound like you have a bigger underlying problem. Excessive masturbation has been shown to actually do this to you. I would look into addressing that first, because like Mel, Marty, Eselle said, the way you approach sex is a big red flag for any partner. If you find a way to remove the irritability and need of frequent "release", a healthy, balanced relationship will be so much easier to find. Here's a good Ted Talk about the neurological effects of porn/masturbation, if you're interested:;…

          • pjabrony

            Interesting video. I imagine it's right, but I'm not sure that it's worth it. Philosophically speaking, I think that what the video calls "natural pleasures"–food, companionship, and sex, the dopamine drivers–are the point of life. I'm prouder of what I've consumed than what I've accomplished in pursuit of consumption. It goes back to my first point: that's the kind of personality quirk that I'm looking to share with someone.

          • High sex drive is a part of personality, you're right. But that isn't the red flag everyone is talking about. It's when you said sex "should not be denied." I'm not sure you understand how serious that is. Because when you show a woman that you will not be denied sex, it becomes sexual assault, plain and simple. If you really need to masturbate, that's fine. I'm not knocking masturbation. (Only the feelings of irritability that you described, because it suggests an addiction.) But when a partner comes into play and you *need* to have sex, other people's feelings become involved and you *NEED* to respect their feelings too.

            I hope you find what you're looking for, it's certainly possible. Nothing else on your list is problematic or unreasonable. But when you finally find her, don't screw it up with this. That's all we're trying to tell you.

          • pjabrony

            I get all that, and communication is key, but it's a matter of standards. Like, if my partner wants to have sex and I'm not particularly in the mood, I consider it part of the relationship that I should help her out because she wants it. The same as if she wants to go out to dinner or watch a movie. Most of the time I want to, sometimes I don't, but some of the sometimes, I have to put my feelings on hold for the sake of the relationship.

          • eselle28

            Why is "have sex" or "go to the movie" the default when only one person is interested? It seems as if the needs of the person who doesn't want to do whatever the thing is are at least as important.

          • pjabrony

            Because that's part of family and a relationship. Sometimes it means doing something you're not overly enthusiastic about just to be with the other person. In Venn Diagram terms, a relationship has to be a union of two people, not a conjunction. Because if I only did things other people suggested when I was enthusiastic about it, I'd never do anything.

          • Mel_

            Yes, sometimes it means doing something you're not overly enthusiastic about to be with the other person. But other times it means accepting your partner would *not* enjoy doing something at all and so not making them do it. Why is it so hard for you to accept that it isn't always one way and that a healthy relationship involves both types of compromise? No one is saying that a romantic partner would never do things they're not super eager about just to make the other person happy, only that it's unreasonable (and uncaring) to expect them to do *everything* you want them to do whether they want to or not.

          • eselle28

            But a compromise is something that suggests both people make concessions. Why should all concessions about sex be made by the person who's voting "no"?

            In most cases, there seems to be a bit of give and take, with some amount of the person with the lower sex drive deciding to have sex when they're not that into it but also not strongly against it, some amount of the person with the higher sex drive backing off when the other person really isn't in the mood, and some amount of people providing sexual satisfaction that isn't necessarily intercourse. You can set your standards how you'd like, but a partner who always says "yes" and who never expects you to compromise is a big ask. I can imagine someone with a lower sex drive who partnered with someone with a higher sex drive and who didn't have any children and was lucky enough for there never to be medical problems on either side meeting it, but otherwise, it seems a bit unrealistic.

          • pjabrony

            But I'm not saying that. Both you and Mel_ are saying "always" when I'm saying sometimes. Heaven knows that I've cashed in my "I don't want to do something tonight" karma (for lack of a better word) sometimes. But most of the time when I'm asked to do something fun, I do it.

            Edit: Robjection's saying it too. Is there a reason my "sometimes"es are coming across as "always"es?

          • Robjection

            Because you were answering the question "Why is "have sex" or "go to the movie" the default when only one person is interested?" You said that you believe it should be the default because it's part of a family or relationship. If you do not believe that that should be the default, then a) learn to read, and b) say that you don't believe that that should be the default. If you do believe that it should be the default, then I will have to disagree since there are more options than just "yes" and "no", and a compromise means finding somewhere to meet in between the two extremes, and really "in between" should be the default, with deviations from that default being made when there is something that literally cannot be compromised on.

          • pjabrony

            OK, let's mince words.

            Me: "Most of the time I want to, sometimes I don't, but some of the sometimes, I have to put my feelings on hold"

            eselle: "Why is 'have sex' or 'go to the movie' the default when only one person is interested?"

            Me, in my head: "Aha, eselle must be using the word 'default' to refer to the 'some of the sometimes' in my comment above! I should answer her question as opposed to drilling down on the meaning of the word."

          • Robjection

            See, I interpreted her question about default as responding to "Like, if my partner wants to have sex and I'm not particularly in the mood, I consider it part of the relationship that I should help her out because she wants it." Why would that situation (which is not a compromise on both parts, but a situation in which one person's desires overrule the other's) be considered the default?

            Moral of the story: in this world of no non-verbal communication, you have to be uber mega super ultra hyper pedantic with your words.

          • eselle28

            My question was why is it always X rather than always Y, and your example of compromising before was you agreeing when your partner wanted to have sex and you haven't. You hadn't actually made clear until now that it's important things go both ways.

          • Mel_

            Reasons it sounded to me like you were saying you'd expect your partner to almost always if not always have sex if you wanted to regardless of how she feels about it, or you would not consider her a compatible partner:

            -You referred to sex as a "need", which is something that generally can't be compromised.
            -You said you wanted to stop masturbating once in a relationship (so… how else could this need be filled if not by your partner?).
            -When I and others pointed out the problematic nature of these two ideas in combination, you've either defended them or not responded to our arguments at all, so I had no reason to believe I'd misinterpretted you (I assumed if I had, you'd have said so).
            -You also seem to be totally ignoring the fact that often if your partner says no to sex, it's because it *wouldn't* be "something fun" you're asking her to do. Sex isn't fun if you're not at all in the mood; depending on the reason, it might be outright unpleasant. You've shown no acknowledgement that you understand that your partner saying no isn't necessarily or even often going to be her refusing "something fun" but her saying "that would be unpleasant for me right now".

            I do note that looking back over your comments, I missed the "some of the sometimes" when you were talking about putting your feelings on hold. In the rest of that comment, it sounds like you're saying doing what your partner wants is more important than respecting what your partner doesn't want, but that part does suggest you only mean some of the time. In which case, it would have been helpful for you to clarify that you are in fact, as I suggested would be preferrable, willing to take care of your release yourself on the sometimes when your partner bows out, rather than refusing to and then taking out the resulting bad mood on her. Because accepting a "no" by stewing over it and allowing it to have negative effects on you because you've decided only she can give you that release isn't really accepting it.

          • pjabrony

            I'll try to clarify: in the spirit of open communication, I would hope that me and my partner would speak about sex, and that either she would give me permission to take care of myself, or discuss how best to meet each other's needs. But it's the "You shouldn't have release when you want it" attitude, like in the TED talk, that would be a major flag for ME in a relationship.

            I also have to disagree with this: "Sex isn't fun if you're not at all in the mood; depending on the reason, it might be outright unpleasant. " Sex can be fun even without arousal. To hold your partner when she's aroused and do what you can to make her happy can be very rewarding.

          • Mel_

            I think that's fair, and I myself wouldn't want to be with someone who told me I couldn't masturbate if I was in the mood and he wasn't. I really don't think you'll have much trouble with women meeting that criteria–like I said elsewhere, the vast majority of women are okay with their partner taking care of himself if they're not up for it.

            As to the second point, notice I said "not at all in the mood". There's a difference between simply not being aroused yourself but being in a mindset where you can enjoy making your partner feel good, and being too tired/stressed/distracted/whatever to take any enjoyment out of it at all. (Especially if in your mind "doing what you can to make [your partner] happy" includes PiV sex. Consider that for a woman, being penetrated when she's not aroused is usually outright painful.) I'm pretty much always happy to at least "help" my husband; if I say no to him, it's because it honestly wouldn't be pleasant for me for some reason.

          • You completely missed the point of the Ted Talk then. I only brought it up, because it can be a serious addiction for some men. You said you experience issues when you don't masturbate (i.e. irritability, inability to focus). I posted the video, because if you're interested in addressing those symptoms, it may help you. And then wouldn't have to look at sex as a solution for your symptoms. The video never said don't masturbate ever.

            (EDIT) Also, you're here arguing semantics, and the whole point of this is plain and simple. When a woman tells you that she doesn't want sex, DON'T MAKE HER HAVE SEX.

          • Robjection

            False dichotomy there bro. Compromising is not something where there is always one yes/no answer to default to. It's something you decide on a case-by-case basis. You're allowed to do that you know.

          • Mel_

            What eselle said. Would you really enjoy having sex with your partner if you knew she wasn't into it, and was only going through the motions for your sake? If you knew it was going to be an unpleasant experience for her? Why would you want to make her go through an intense physical act that she isn't interested in having right then rather than take care of it without her needing to be involved?

            I don't know how many relationships you've actually been in, but the way they usually work, when they're working well, is that sometimes people compromise, and sometimes they do their own thing. It isn't reasonable to expect that your partner should always do whatever you want to do with you. You're still two independent beings. Sure, sometimes maybe your partner might agree to have sex even when she's not totally in the mood because she's not totally against it at the moment either and she likes the idea of making you feel good. In which case, great! But sometimes your partner will not just not really be in the mood, but be feeling so not sexual or stressed or sick or whathaveyou in a way that would make having sex actively unpleasant for her, or she has something she needs to get done that's going to take the whole day, or she's gone on a business trip, or whatever, and in those cases it's incredibly selfish to expect her to put her feelings and life on hold for your physical satisfaction when you could just as easily take care of it yourself. Just as it would be incredibly selfish of her to expect you to go out to dinner if you were tired or ill or had things to do around the house, and so you really didn't want to go out.

            I mean, if you've decided that you want a partner who'll basically always have sex with you when you want to regardless of how she feels, then you can go ahead and look for that. But you asked if there was anything in your list that was likely to hurt your chances, and we're answering you honestly: that one most likely will. Not just in finding someone, but in having a healthy and fulfilling relationship with the person you find.

          • StarryFork

            I do get where you're coming from, pjabrony – being there for my partner is really important to me too. However there is a difference between a partner being GGG and a partner also having legitimate needs that must be respected, like sometimes occasionally not being okay with going to the movies, or going to sexytown.

            This might just be an issue that you can't vet for in early dating, something that you have to discover as you gain intimacy with someone, and start talking about your honest sexual needs and wants.

            Before you have established mutual care and respect with your partner, I think that this type of conversation will have potentially scary connotations to readers of your online dating profile or first/second date prospects.

            But don't give up! I'm sure you can find a partner who values this too – there are lots of people out there who care about these things too. BTW – this "being there for your partner" thing works much better when it's not totally focused on P-in-V sex. Other ways you can be "there" for your partner include sexy dancing! Mutual masturbation! Cuddling! Frottage! Use of toys/machinery! Oral sex! Dramatic readings!

          • Nope. You don't have to put your feelings on hold for the sake of the relationship. If she's your girlfriend, saying no to something won't make her break up with you. Your relationship isn't being held together by a yes or no answer. (Hint: If it is, it's not worth it.) She likes you. She wants you to be happy. And if she wants to do something that you don't want to, she WANTS you to tell her the truth. And the same respect should be shown for her. Period.

            Now, if your "standards" mean sex whenever you need it, then you've got a serious problem. Because I guarantee that no matter how high her sex drive, she's not going to want it 100% of the time. You need to respect her when she says no. You can take care of your release of your own (per the other comments). Otherwise, it's called sexual assault, and she will break up with you for that.

          • Paladin

            I wouldn't say that the video is stating that these natural pleasures are bad, just the old adage that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In this case, too much can profoundly disturb your neurochemistry.

          • Bovis

            "Philosophically speaking, I think that what the video calls "natural pleasures"–food, companionship, and sex, the dopamine drivers–are the point of life."

            That's not philosophical; it's an unsupported assertion. Indeed, it's an obviously false one – being hooked up to a machine that constantly stimulated the pleasure centre of your brain couldn't be construed as a fulfilling life morally or in common thought.

          • pjabrony

            No, wireheading isn't considered fulfilling…by anyone outside the wireheading community. Similarly, we might look at the utopia of Brave New World as a horrible place, but everyone inside loved it. Who's to say whose perspective is the more accurate one?

          • Bovis

            -an actual philosopher who deals with ethics (as opposed to someone who wrongly claims to be speaking 'philosophically').

            "Similarly, we might look at the utopia of Brave New World as a horrible place, but everyone inside loved it."
            What's your point? That they 'loved it' is irrelevant. If you're actually interested in ethics, there is as much literature out there as for anything else, which explores issues like this in greater depth and focus than a ~70 year old sci-fi novel.

            Back on topic, though: the fact that you consider sexual relations with your partner/s to be an advanced form of jerking off is pretty messed up. Isn't sex about being with another person(s) more than anything else? Even casual sex requires an awareness of the other that simply isn't present when jerking off. To view sex as using someone's body for 'release' (as you put it) is kind of sociopathic.

          • pjabrony

            "-an actual philosopher who deals with ethics (as opposed to someone who wrongly claims to be speaking 'philosophically')."

            Since I'm wrong about everything, just tell me what to think and then I'll be right, and we can end this and be happy.

    • I'm getting the same red flag as Mel. I'm…. not sure I understand your 4th point.

      I completely understand wanting to be introduced to new nerdy things per point 2, but it might be there isn't anything new to introduce you to. Nerdom is big, but it isn't THAT big. It might be that a girl has similar interests as you, and neither of you has run into anything new lately to introduce each other too. So I might put "Introduces me to new nerdy things" down as a "Nice to have but not necessary."

    • eselle28

      Like Mel and Marty, the biological need thing is a bit troubling. Wanting a regular, healthy, fun sex life is one thing, and a very reasonable one at that. Not only does the phrasing make it sound like you might be unreasonable and demanding, talking about sex like urination ends up overlooking the emotional, psychological, creative, or pleasure-seeking aspects of it.

      Beyond that, I don't think there are any issues with any of your specific wants, but I think it might be somewhat hard to find one person who has all of those traits. I think the one that might be the most difficult is finding someone who's on board with your very….pragmatic….approach to sex and living together but who's also a romantic. Those things tend not to go together. If you add in geeky and libertarian, two traits that also correlate a bit with being more cool-headed than romantic, and I think a lot of women who otherwise are compatible with you will end up being a bit less into that part of things. It might be good to identify a category where "partial credit" will be sufficient, or where you can cut someone a bit more slack than the others.

    • StarlightArcher

      People like to use words like "healthy sex drives" without really thinking about the message those words imply. Who decides what's "healthy"? The really fun thing about sex drives is that they in constant fluctuation- especially in women. Due to where she is in her monthly cycle, she may be feeling like a one woman sex machine, and the next day like a celebate nun. Even some forms of contraceptive (synthetic hormone birth controll) can literally kill a woman's libido, and I can speak from painful experience. And if you're like many Americans who are fighting clinical depression, many types of medication you're prescribed can make sex horribly painful (again another fun experience I got out of this life).

      So I guess from a purely logisitcal approach- what happenes when your girlfriend is menstruating, or is sick, or is depressed, or has sustained an injury of some kind, or the two of you have had a child together and she's recovering from the trauma? Is it so inconceivable that you might need to find your release on your own?

  • Tea Fish

    The whole "where does a boyfriend/girlfriend fit into your life" question is one I've had a lot of trouble with, actually. Half the time I feel like my life is already filled to the brim with various things (work, friends, various hobbies, family commitments) and jamming someone else in there (a boyfriend) would either disrupt the delicate balancing act I've already got going on, or that he'd get shafted in favor of all the other things in my life. How do y'all here maintain your own lives while dating around, or seeing someone on the regular?

    • Gentleman Horndog

      "How do y'all here maintain your own lives while dating around, or seeing someone on the regular?" This is where shared interests can become a Big Deal. My girlfriend and I both do improv together; our two-person team's first show is this week. So preparing and performing counts both as doing stuff we like AND spending time together. Find somebody who will be your partner in crime and not just another obligation you have to fulfill.

  • LeeEsq

    To the people above, can you please not talk about me like I'm not around. Its a really big pet peeve of mind when people talk about me like I'm not on around. Its kind of like being treated like a child.

    • If we're responding to someone else in a thread that is about you, how would you like us to refer to you except in the third person?

      • Paul Rivers

        Yeah, if writing about something that was mentioned in a previous thread, I'm not sure how else one would phrase it. If I was in person, I might say something like "The other day, John was telling me about his European vacation…" even if John was standing right there…

  • CmE

    It's complement, not compliment.

    • Gina

      Thanks for saying this. I didn't want to be that person.

  • Thereal McCoy

    It's like it's never even occurred to you that being overtly sexual != dtf, nor does !overtly sexual = !dtf. If you are overtly sexual, I think you just want a warm hole for the night. Legs = glued shut. If you actually talk to me and find out what I am like, I think you are actually interested in that warm hole being ME. Panties = stripped. I'm not unique in this, either.

  • ccmc

    OH MY GOD, DNL, complement, not compliment. It's much more important that one's partner complement one than that one's partner compliment one.

    I try really hard not to be too Grammar Police-like, but those are two totally different words.

    • ccmc

      And… I just realized that came across as very not nice. I'm sorry. You put a lot of effort into a thoughtful and interesting article, and I fixated on one letter. Sincere apologies.

      • Robjection

        Sorry to burst your bubble but CmE beat you to the punch.

        • ccmc

          Fair enough. What bubble would be burst by that, though?

  • Maggie

    As to if opposites attract or not… My folks who are nearing 30 years of marriage are often seen as diametrically opposite. My mother is a former dancer and an artist. My dad is top of his corporate field. They come from different contries, have different mother-tongues, had completely different upbringings, view the world very differently… Few people get how the hell that even happened, never mind how it lasted.

    But… They had a few interests in common and those common interests showed them how well they clicked on all levels. Despite being radicaly different, they respect each other's differences (except when he decides to say something racist, then he's toast) and even after 30 days if one goes away for more than a day or two, the other is whining about how much they miss them and when are they coming back.

    So opposites don't necessarily attract, but they can work.

  • Glides

    Replace the 24th to last word of this article (I counted, I think) from "when" to "if," and this is truly A-quality writing.
    Because let's face it, there's no guarantee that person even exists.

  • LazieLizzie

    Ugh, when you find a man who doesn't want kids, let me know. I'm pretty sure that's my biggest block in dating right now. Everything always seems to be going great until he says something about kids, and I say, "I don't like kids," and then he looks at me like I just admitted to slaughtering an entire village with my bare hands.

    So then they start pushing a casual relationship, which is fine, I love casual sex, but they always seem to forget about the "relationship" part of that phrase. Instead of being a girlfriend or a friend-with-benefits I end up being a toy that gets taken out and played with when he's horny and put away and forgotten when he's finished. I can understand not wanting to put effort into a relationship you know for a fact isn't going to work, but it leaves me high and dry, and I don't think the other person ever really gets what he wants, either.

  • Sam

    Compliments are fun, but I'm pretty sure from context you want someone to complement you.

    I really need to find a way to turn off editor-brain when I'm not working.

  • Gunther

    The whole paradigm of holding an ideal in your head and then searching around for someone (or something) that fits is so bogus and reductive. Indeed, it's worse than one-ism, because the *thing* (note, not a person) you desire isn't even real. Can you really have a real relationship with a person who you've reduced to a checklist of attributes? Isn't an important part of a relationship (maybe the most important) the otherness of the other? I don't doubt that many people do perfectly well with their partners, but is that because of something shared with the partner(s) or because their boxes are being checked? (Kind of like finding a good personal trainer…)

  • Grahav

    I want the bookstore/bar.

  • CountArioch

    My list for the perfect woman:

    1. Willing to clean my house in exchange for money.
    2. Will immediately leave after cleaning my house.

    3. If she brings a friend, her friend may cook me dinner while she is cleaning my house. After the house is clean and dinner is served, I will give them money at which point they will leave.

    I don't really want a relationship, and my heart condition has barred me from sex (doctor's orders! I am probably the only man who can actually say that something is preventing them from having sex, heart defect unrelated to diet/lifestyle!) , but having a maid would be nice.

    • eselle28

      If all you want is a cleaning and meal delivery service, there's no need to gender it or to talk about people bringing their friends. Service professionals don't need to be women. Beyond all that, I do hope you're aware that women can be friends, if you have some interest in friendship.

      EDIT: Ugh, I just tossed a couple of screaming children under the bridge, didn't I?

      • PFC Mailman

        Feeding trolls is a good use for screaming children, at least if you took them from a theater in the middle of a movie.

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