Dear Dr. NerdLove,
Hello there, I’m a huge fan of your work and I feel like you’ve really helped me advance as far as dating goes. Using your advice I started online dating (using OkCupid) a few years ago and I found out that there are women out there that find me desirable, which I found to be amazing because I’m not conventionally attractive in the slightest (I’m 5’7, Babyfaced, and slightly chubby). I’ve gotten a lot of likes, had messages responded to, had several first dates, and last year even had a girl ask to kiss me. Sadly that same girl rejected me after three dates because she suddenly lost interest (she said it was because she loses interest in relationships really quickly and that that was why she hadn’t had relationships before, I don’t really believe that and think she was just letting me down easy but, whatever).
The problem is it seems like the online dating environment is evolving in such a way that greatly disadvantages guys like me. Apps like Tinder have long since overtaken OkCupid in popularity and to be successful on that app you absolutely have to be strongly conventionally attractive or you won’t get anyone to swipe right. You don’t get to make the first move and your profile is basically meaningless which unfortunately means I can’t make up for my appearance with a thoughtful first message or a well-written profile. And of course OkCupid is changing itself to be more like Tinder: your messages are basically invisible unless you both like each other, you can’t see who’s visited your profile, and you can only see who likes you if you buy a subscription. I’m terribly afraid that people like me or going to be forced out of online dating and that I’ll lose the only way I have to find a relationship. Of course, the obvious solution would be to try and get dates in real life, but there a couple of problems with that. For one, trying to hit up strangers just sounds wrong, I can’t think of anything that would scream “I’m a Creep and Probably a Rapist” more than trawling through town hitting up random women who look single. And the second issue is…well…
I don’t have any friends. There, I said it. It’s not like I’m not socially functional, I have a ton of acquaintances, usually from places I’ve worked, who I’ve joked with, helped out, and had long conversations with. Hell, there are coworkers who’ve basically told me their life story in the time I’ve known them. I’ve also taken steps to make friends in the past: I’ve gone to Meetups, started two Meetup groups of my own, even scheduled a hang out with a coworker once. But all of these fell through due schedule conflicts, groups dying out, and personal conflicts (the coworker I hung out with has recently broken up with his long-time girlfriend and isn’t currently in the mood to hang out).
But honestly, I don’t really feel the need or desire for friends anymore. Most of my hobbies are solo pursuits: playing single player video games, reading, relaxed hiking, and biking, watching anime and youtube videos, collecting albums from obscure and forgotten bands, etc. I play guitar sometimes but I’m nowhere good enough to play in a band (if I could even find anybody in town with similar musical tastes). I have a good relationship with my family who I currently live with (I’m not a loser, I have a fulltime job and I’m getting my Masters in Library Science; I’m just staying to save money till I graduate) and thanks to my psychiatrist I have meds to deal with my anxiety issues. Besides, having someone to occasionally hang out with if I’m not too busy, I want physical affection (no, not just sex, but hugging, kissing, cuddling, etc.) and someone who sees me as something special, someone who finds me to be an attractive person instead someone cool enough to watch youtube videos with for a couple hours.
But of course, the only way for me to date if online dating stops being an option would be to meet people through friends. I don’t think it a good idea to make “friends” just so I could meet women, that would be unfair to my “friends” and probably wouldn’t work anyway. Besides, making friends takes a long time, several years probably, and as someone who’s almost 26 and never had a girlfriend, I’m not sure I want to wait till I’m deep in my 30s before I can even attempt to date, especially since my chances will have dropped dramatically by then. So I guess my question is, what should I do? Can I adapt to new online dating environment? Do I just need to suck it up and ask strangers out in real life? Do I have to spend the next several years making friends and hope I eventually meet a girl?