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November 28, 2009 10:28 AM   Subscribe

How do I deal with my recently redeveloped confidence?

I'm mid twenties and a male. I'm highly intelligent and educated, in very good shape and moderately handsome. When I was younger I was precocious, very confident and gregarious, but at about 13 I started developing severe cystic acne that would get worse for many years. At about 14 I started fighting sometimes deep depression, for which I was on Prozac briefly. I learned to deal with it on my own, and things weren't really any worse than most teenagers perceive them to be. By 16 or 17 I was in phenomenal shape from extensive involvement in sports and apparently confident and attractive enough that I was dating frequently. At 18, I was about to go to college, live with my best friend and continue my enthusiastic lifestyle. Then, without relating all of the stories in detail, I lost that best friend to profound schizophrenia, quit playing my sport, developed a serious drug addiction (to OTC sleeping pills of all things), moved mostly alone to a new town, and became entangled in a two-year relationship that I wasn't ready for and felt I never consented to. I got out of shape, my acne got worse, and all of these things combined into some deep guilt, depression and general self-image issues. All of the standards, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism (I'd kicked the pills sometime during the relationship), struggling in school, etc. I couldn't see how things could change. I haven't been on a date in four years, since passive-aggressively driving the girlfriend to end things.

But wait! It gets better! I don't know if I started growing out of the hormonal things, or if I just bootstrapped myself up over the years, but lots of things started happening. In no particular order, I switched majors to something that I love and excel in, began taking Accutane (acne med) which is helping greatly, and started exercising regularly to the point that I'm in almost as good of shape as I was at my peak, became financially successful, learned to drink in moderation, and learned to dress. Bearing some relationship to all of this, my spells of depression have been getting shorter and shallower to the point that they've been nothing more than normal, temporary bad moods for some time now. More to the point, my confidence levels have been high and (this is key) non-manic. So things are going well, and have been for long enough that I'm no longer afraid of breaking the spell by talking about it.

Here's the question part: What do I do now? It's been a long time since I either got or allowed myself to perceive any attention from females, and since the confidence levels have been the most recent development which is corresponding to a perceived increase in said attention, I think I can verify that confidence really is key.

I've been getting much more attention from acquaintances, cashiers, girls on the street, wherever, which I enjoy. However, I have no experience to deal with this. I don't know how to "make a move" on someone at a party, or the protocol about asking out a waitress, liquor store cashier, or smiley girl on the street. For that matter, I'm not even sure that this attention points to the possibility of romantic attraction rather than general friendliness. The last time I was "macking" as it was called then, my main tactic was, "wanna come over and watch a movie?" Which, while possibly still viable, isn't the silver bullet it used to be with roommates around.

What do you think? How can I figure these things out? I want to date again. I want a good relationship again. I don't want to be celibate.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keep it light, keep it friendly. If you see a woman you like with whom you have a passing acquaintance, ask her to go out on a date. If you see a woman who is a stranger to you, introduce yourself, have some light conversation, and then see if she wants to have coffee or something.

Most of all, don't pressure yourself to dive deep into a relationship right away. It sounds like you're quite a catch, so I'd say have fun with few expectations, and let other people appreciate you for who you've become.
posted by xingcat at 10:40 AM on November 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forget experience and tactics when dealing with women.
Deal with women like you love them. They'll figure out the rest.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:58 AM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you have friends? I would work on getting some GOOD friends first. They're the ones that will lead you to all the other good stuff you seek, and get you out and through the people and times and situations that don't quite work out as planned.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:28 PM on November 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Listen I know this is a cliche, middle-aged-man thing to say, but I've always found being authentic is the key. People are attracted to others who are comfortable in their own skin.

Just my two cents.
posted by gb77 at 4:12 PM on November 28, 2009


If I could distill it down to two things:

1. Have strong intent. Know what you want. Make no excuses for it. "Why are you talking to me?" "Because I think you're cute. Duh."

2. Have no expectations. You're just gonna talk to her. If she gives you her number, great. If she agrees to go out later, even better. But if she blows you off don't worry about it; chances are it's not to do with you. Think, "next."
posted by dualityofmind at 4:49 PM on November 28, 2009


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