First of all, I would like to thank you for your wonderful articles which I find very helpful even though I am a girl. I found out that I have never given much thought to some issues that you addressed in them. For example, after reading about creeper behavior and that poor girl who was so awfully verbally assaulted in subway my first thought was “Never get on a subway in the USA!” but then I realized with a start that similar things were going on in my country as well. But I guess I just took them as some kind of law of nature: if you are a girl riding in a subway late you just bound to be hit on by a drunkard and there is no escaping it. It never occurred to me to think about it as an issue which can be fought against before, more like something inevitable, which you can’t change anyway so you just have to deal with it.
It’s not the reason I decided to write to you though, I would like to ask for an advice. How to look less intimidating and scary and more open and friendly? Interested in dating in general?
Thing is, I am 21 years old virgin who have never been in romantic relationship before. I suppose I am late bloomer – I haven’t been interested in guys, dating and sex until very recently. There also have never been many guys around (my majors both in the University and high school were to do with liberal arts which meant that most of my class-mates were girls) so I am kind of not used to communication with them and to be honest a little bit afraid of them.
But apparently they are afraid of me even more. Or so I’ve been told many times. It appears that by first impression I always look like I am made of ice or iron, very reserved and strict as if I am silently judging everyone and generally hard to approach. Which is not true at all, I am very happy if people approach me at parties and the likes and love to meet new people in general. Still, it seems guys of my age find courage to talk to me only after consuming lots of alcohol. (Older men is another story though, I’ve been told that I usually behave not like my age but much older and that seems to attract men over 40 who usually have wives already).
How to change that? Smile to everyone around me? Change something in body language?
Also, many people seem to assume that I already have a boyfriend. Maybe I look so uninterested that people think that I’m already attached? What one should do to show that they are interested in dating?
I don’t think that I am unattractive, rude, mean or that socially awkward yet I am single. My parents and friends pressure me a little bit to find someone and maybe I do feel a little lonely while watching romcoms and yearn for some affection. That’s why I decided it’s time to do something about the impression I have on people so when I finally make myself go to those magic places where you can meet a lot of single guys I keep hearing about I’ll be ready.
I would appreciate any advice and would like to thank you in advance!
PS: I am sorry for bad grammar; English is not my native language.
Without seeing you in person, it can be hard to diagnose the problem… in as much as there is one, anyway. To start with, it could depend on the people you’re hanging out with. A lot of liberal-arts types are often shy or introverted, possibly even a little intimidated by you; a lot of guys get anxious over the idea of approaching someone they find especially attractive because they fear they may not measure up. If you’re especially driven and ambitious, they might worry they have to be at least your equal or you might not consider them “worth your time”. As a result: it takes a little booze to ease the anxiety and serve as a little social lubricant. Older men tend to be more secure in themselves, especially with younger women; they’ve frequently worked through their hang-ups and often feel that their age gives them a leg up, status-wise. This may be part of why so many older gentlemen feel comfortable approaching you; they feel like they’ve got less ego on the line.
Keep in mind: this is their problem, not yours. If a guy is intimidated by your accomplishments – perceived and actual – then they need to work on their hang-ups.
I suspect though that at least part of this has to do with the fact that you’re a late bloomer yourself. You haven’t had much social experience and you’re more a little intimidated by guys yourself. This may be causing you to come off as uninterested or reserved when in reality, you’re actually just a little shy. I would start by checking your body language. I’m guessing you tend to stand a little pointed away from other people, possibly with your arms crossed. This tends to read as “closed-off”; holding your arms across your torso – crossing your arms, holding your drink like a shield, etc. – is often a defensive look that says you’d rather people keep their distance. Pointing your body away indicates that you’re directing your attention elsewhere, which carries the message that you don’t have any interest in what they have to say. Letting your arms hang loosely at your side, letting your body relax so you don’t look like a soldier at attention and angling your body towards the people you’re talking to will come across as much more open and approachable than someone who seems like they’re inspecting the troops.
I also suspect that you may not be smiling much, or at least that your smile isn’t necessarily being “read” as a smile to others. There’s a comedy video called “Bitchy Resting Face” that’s gone viral recently about people who seem angry or stern when they’re not making the effort to smile. It’s obviously for comedic effect but there are people – women and men – who come off as stone-faced or even angry without intending to. In fact, this is a problem I’ve had to work on; I may be having a good time, but people think I’m upset because I look so serious. I’ve had to make a conscious effort to smile more – a wider, more obvious smile than my usual sardonic smirk or solemn mien.
Now, one thing you can do in social situations where you’re looking to meet people is to give what some call “approach invitations” – in this case, meeting someone’s eyes and then giving them a smile. Some folks respond well to the classic “meet the eyes, look away, meet the eyes again and smile”. Both of these are natural signs that you want them to come over and talk to you.
But while this is all well and good, I’d also advise you to take your social life in your hands and approach guys you’re interested in rather than waiting for them to notice you. If they’re afraid that you’re cold and unfriendly, coming up to them and saying “Hi, you seem like you’re cool and I wanted to meet you, my name is Iron Lady…” is going to let them know you really are a warm and caring person they should get to know. Don’t be afraid to be willing to make the first move, including asking them out on dates; luck tends to favor people who make their own opportunities rather than waiting for them to happen. It can be a little nerve-wracking at first – ask any guy in the NerdLove forums about how nervous they get about approaching someone they’re attracted to – but experience and practice will help you get more comfortable making the first move and getting to know awesome people.
Hi Dr. Nerd Love,
I just wanted to start off by saying that I love your site and articles, keep up the great work.
My question is part personal finance and dating. I’ve been single for the past 2 years now and it’s been great. I’ve been able to travel, pursue my hobbies, and simply have fun on my own terms. However, now I’m approaching 30 years old and starting to think about dating and finding someone special in my life. The thing is over the past 4 years I racked up a considerable amount of consumer debt. A few embarrassing financial mishaps happened and I decided to set myself straight. I spent the past 6 months learning everything I could about personal finance and getting them in order. I have a stable government job that I enjoy. I adhere to a strict budget, adjusted my lifestyle, got rid of my car, moved back into my parents, and reduced a lot of frivolous expenses. If I can maintain my stick to my new financial plan I expect to be debt free in February 2015. I’ve done several “bootcamps” and a lot of reading and listening to material such as your blog, so I have a good understanding of how to meet girls. My question is should I spend more money on going out partying, and trying more activities to meet someone by pushing back my debt free day?
From my male biased perspective it seems that not having a car and living at home with my parents is not very attractive, even though I know a lot of my peers live at home due to the current economic state. So should I wait until I am debt free move out and then start dating? I’m also thinking that if I do that I am giving up almost two years of searching time and that I may miss “the one” during that period. Right now my entertainment budget is minimal and I am almost sure I would go over if I started dating again. Dating requires money going out for dinner, parking, drinking, concert tickets, out door activities, lunches all that great stuff costs something and it can add up quickly especially if I’m seeing more than one girl at a time. I don’t want you to get the impression that I buy everything for girls and want to be their sugar daddy. I am cognizant of not falling into that trap and not to attract those type of girls. I imagine there are only a limited amount of cheap things to do like picnics, free galleries, and bike rides. What are your thoughts?
– Credit Card Slave
First of all: congratulations on getting your life in order! Financial debt is out of control in this country and absolutely ruining people’s lives. Getting everything paid off and keeping your head above water is no small accomplishment, especially with the economy the way that it is right now.
Now as to your question.
Dating, like life, does take a certain level of spending – food ain’t free, after all – but if it means going into debt to do so… well, you’re doing it wrong.
Part of what you need to do is think about the types of women you’re interested in. If you’re looking for a woman who wants to go out on the town every weekend, likes to go dancing at clubs, wants see the latest movies in the theater and eats out on the regular… well, you’re probably going to be better off giving yourself time to build your finances up more. If you’re looking for someone who can appreciate creative dates, Netflix, picnics, museums, hikes and home-cooked romantic meals, then you’re in luck.
Dating can be done – and done well – on the cheap, even if you’re seeing more than one person; it just takes careful thought, creativity and planning. There are more cheap and free date activities out there than you’d think; you have to be willing to do your research in advance. To start with, start scanning the local alt-weekly; these will have all sorts of listings for cool events that are free to attend, from speaking engagements, gallery openings, local theater performances, classes, Farmer’s Markets, craft faires and film festivals. You should also find Facebook groups that talk about current events in your area and check Yelp and Craigslist for various goings-on. The more you know about what’s happening in your city, the more cheap date opportunities you’ll find.
Also: just because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a lousy date. Museums, for example, make excellent dates. They’re classy, they offer plenty of topics for conversation and most of them ask for voluntary donations rather than a set price. Picnics, hikes and bike trips can all be insanely romantic with just the two of you taking in the beauty of nature. You may not be able to go out to dinner on dates but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t date at all; I’m a huge fan of the “romantic homemade pizza” date – you collaborate on ingredients and make a pizza from scratch at your place or hers and then enjoy it with candle light and a nice bottle of wine. Pizza is awesome because the ingredients are cheap, it’s easy to make and it looks really impressive… and everyone loves pizza.
The great thing about dating on the cheap is that by having restrictions, it forces you to get creative and that is going to make you more appealing to women. Sure, anyone can do the traditional “dinner and a movie”… but how many women have gone tubing down a river for their first date? Or went to a kite festival or a flower show at the botanical gardens? These are going to make you stand out in a good way amongst all the other guys out there.
The biggest problem you’re honestly going to have is logistics. Living at home and dealing with public transport can be a problem – not because it’s bad but because it’s going to be considerably less convenient than if you have your own place and your own car. Everybody’s been fucked over by the economy; nobody’s going to blink twice about the fact that you’re taking the bus or the subway or that you’re living with your folks to get out from under your debts and save up your cash because everybody’s had to tighten their belts. If the women you’re dealing with are going to look down on you for getting your finances under control… well, frankly, you’re better off not dating them in the first place.