help me stack the odds in my favor
October 2, 2011 9:28 PM   Subscribe

Checklist for increasing the odds of finding a significant other

I would like to set up a project to increase my chances of starting a serious relationship within the next year or so. My plan is to set reasonably small goals and tackle one new step every two weeks. The current items on my checklist are:

- Cut out sugar/white flour from my diet
- Commit to going to the gym 3x a week
- Commit to spending an extra 30 minutes every morning on hair/makeup/putting together a cute outfit
- Take a picture of myself every morning and review once a week - think about what's working and what isn't
- Attend 1 "singles" meetup event per week
- Start 1 conversation with a stranger per day
- Set up a profile on a online dating website
- Contact two people on the dating website per week

Can you suggest any items I'm missing? Do you have any thoughts on whether this type of approach would work? If you've undertaken a similar project, do you have any advice for what worked for you?

Relevant stats:

I'm a gay female in my late 20's. I'm about 20 pounds over what I would consider my "ideal weight". (Currently, I'm about a US size 10/12 in most stores). I'm somewhat socially awkward. I have some experience with short term dating but I've never clicked with a long term partner before. I live in a medium-sized city with a fairly large gay population, but I don't have a lot of connections with the community here.

I really like this previous question but I'm interested not just in increased confidence/attractiveness, but also in maximizing my opportunities to meet someone I'll mesh with.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!
posted by GraceCathedral to Human Relations (48 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is the weirdest thing, but also a true story.

Randomly, I made a vow to be as generous as possible for one year - expecting nothing. I never imposed on anyone at any time, but if I had extra ability/cash/time and could do a favor or whatever, I did it. NEVER expecting anything in return. Not even a thank you. I didn't put myself at a disadvantage, I was careful not to, just.... if ever an opportunity to do a simple (or sometimes complex) favor presented itself, I said "Yes" instead of "No."

Towards the end of that year I (magically) met my husband. We knew each other for two months, dated for two weeks, and get married at the end of those two weeks.

We've been very happy for 3 years and welcomed our first son 5 and a half months ago.

----

So. You might go about this project in very different ways, like improving your insides instead of your outsides.

Anecdata. FWIW.

I did not undertake that project with any specific goal in mind, I just wanted to see what might happen if I let myself give in to my better impulses as much as possible. YMMV and all that!
posted by jbenben at 9:49 PM on October 2, 2011 [38 favorites]


IANA(Advice Giver), usually, but something about your list struck me as off. If you haven't already been doing the first four items on your list pretty regularly throughout your adult life, it seems somewhat unlikely that you'll be able to just turn on a switch and start doing it now. It's just so hard to see results for long-term changes like this and there's so little incentive to keep doing it once you realize it'll take months before anything tangibly beneficial might come out of it. In order to do this stuff and make sure it sticks (not just half-heartedly go to the gym every once in a while and then slowly peter off once the weather gets cold), you might want to focus more on getting yourself mentally in a solid place. Unless you're pretty confident in your self-esteem and are dedicated to a wholesale change in life or whatever this may be, maybe don't throw yourself into "singles" events just yet (don't freak yourself out and give yourself a negative experience which you can use as an excuse not to go to anymore). Starting conversations with strangers can be hard too. Why not instead just start smiling more, saying hello to acquaintances or people you see regularly, and start building a network organically like that? Once you feel like you feel like you have connections with the community there, you can turn things on hyperdrive and start throwing yourself into all sorts of fun meetups and events--though if you know of especially friends groups that host meetups [MEFI!] then by all means, start with that. But just based on experience, it sucks going to a mixer/meetup in a strange place and feeling like you kinda just hid in the corner. Unless you're already in the mode of "hey, I know how to meet people" rather than "why isn't someone coming up to chat with me already???" you might get turned off from going out the next time there's a great event with strangers.

Good luck! Meeting people and building a new group of friends is kinda awesome. Like cultivating plants. Give it water and nutrients and all sorts of patience.
posted by jng at 9:49 PM on October 2, 2011


This sounds like an awful lot to be trying to tackle all at once.

I understand the urge to reimagine and remake yourself, but setting too high a bar inevitably backfires. If I were you, I'd cut this list like...in HALF, at least, and see if you can make that shorter collection of goals into long-term routines for yourself in the next few months. Once that first list can be dealt with easily -- once your new habits are properly settled in and comfortable -- THEN tackle something else.

But weight loss AND fitness AND fashion AND hair/makeup AND stretching yourself socially AND aggressively seeking out other singles....and then taking daily photos of yourself to nitpick? That's a recipe for discouragement.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:55 PM on October 2, 2011 [21 favorites]


These all sound sort of shallow. They'll get your foot in the door with first dates, but they won't necessarily get you a long-term partner. I know it sounds like a total cliché, but it's your personality that matters if you want a serious relationship and not just short-term girlfriends.

For the for-real relationships, you need to work on who you are, not just the presentation. The product, not the package. Instead of all the singles events, spend that time volunteering or taking classes or pursuing a hobby with a social element.

If your short-term dating experience includes the sort of unsatisfying relationships that fall apart at the six-week mark, figure out if you've got any sort of pitfalls in your thinking or behavior that might lead to that happening. I had a lot of this when I was dating: I'd date people who were either not really compatible or not interested in a serious relationship, just because they were interested in me; I'd get overly excited when someone I genuinely liked expressed an interest, and held on for dear life like a neurotic barnacle, eventually freaking them out; I'd be coy or passive-aggressive instead of just asking for what I wanted. And when these inevitably resulted in the six-week breakdown, I'd always think: "I need to lose weight. I need to dress better." Not "I need to chill out" or "I need to take less bullshit from my dates." Inadvertently relationship-sabotaging thoughts and actions are pretty common among people who don't have much relationship experience and/or really desperately want a partner. And if you're down on your looks, it's easy to blame them instead and miss the real issue.

Make sure your home's in good shape, too - clean and reasonably organized. Not only will this make it easier for you to take your dates home, but once you get to the point where you're spending entire weekends together and talking about moving in, it won't be such an awkward transition.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:01 PM on October 2, 2011 [22 favorites]


Hmmm. Suppose I cut the list to 5 items... 1 item per month for 5 months. Which 5 items do you think would have the greatest impact?

I know so many awesome people who have been single for years (none in my demographic, unfortunately). Maybe I am pushing too hard on this, but I feel like there must be something I can do to increase my chances at finding someone.

Currently I excercise twice a week (yoga) and eat a *mostly* sugar-free diet (though I could do lot better). I've lost about 15 pounds in the past year. So some of these are just about commiting more thoroughly to something I'm already commited to. I've gone to meetups in the past but haven't really attended much over the summer. I think I have a reasonable number of hobbies... I travel, do yoga, bake, and volunteer at my church.

Thanks for all the answers so far!
posted by GraceCathedral at 10:10 PM on October 2, 2011


Ooh, an idea: take some sort of martial arts class. You'll get an ass-kicking workout, another interesting hobby, and social time all in one. It's easier to hang around and chat after a kickboxing class than after yoga or at the gym. You might not meet eligible singles there, but you could think of it as friend-making practice or building your social circle (and perhaps getting introduced to potential partners).
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:24 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Before I met my wife, I had been in a bit of a lonely bout. I had previously been in a long-term relationship that ended. I went on a few dates with girls that were nice enough but never really went anywhere. I finally got to the point where I was OK just being myself and single. I didn't feel like I needed anyone else to be happy. I tried to improve myself *just for me* (I took up bicycling and lost 30lbs., for instance).

Shortly after I become comfortable with my single self, I met my wife completely by chance online (not on a dating site). It was a while after that still before we started really "dating", we were just friends for something like six or eight months before we started a romantic relationship.

There is nothing that exudes confidence like real, honest-to-god confidence that you are a worthwhile person, even on your own.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:37 PM on October 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Take time to make a list of what YOU want in a partner (rather than exclusively focusing on making yourself broadly attractive and available).
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:37 PM on October 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


My concern is that if you do these things to meet someone, you'd meet her from a mental place of desperation and trying so hard, like "I hope I'm almost good enough," rather than from a place of "hey, I'm starting to really like my life, join me."

If you knew that, sadly, you were never going to meet a special someone, and you had to make your life just exactly what you wanted it to be without her, what six-month goals would you take on then? If I had the energy to take on five to ten new things, I think my list would be to take a weekly improv class (because I find it super fun and also challenging in a good way), join a swim team (because it makes me feel super in-shape and it is fun to be fast in the water), join a softball team or some sort of sociable sport, start a garden, show my appreciation to all my family members, and learn a DIY side gig (like making furniture or something). That list probably represents two to four years of effort, but that's the kind of thing that would make my life more what I'd want. But I'm sure you have your own very individual list.

I'd try to become the person you want to be with the social support system that you want to have. If being that person is about really systematically tackling dating and your appearance, then your list is fine; otherwise, what's missing to you?
posted by salvia at 10:46 PM on October 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


I live in a medium-sized city with a fairly large gay population, but I don't have a lot of connections with the community here.

I would put this at the top of your list. It's not that your entire life has to be about being gay. But if you want to find a significant other from among the 2-10% of the population in your demographic, it makes sense to spend your time cultivating activities that put you in touch with concentrated groups of those people. It's no use wearing cute outfits if you're not around cute lesbians who will admire them. Spending time with other gay people (who are single or have single friends or will go with you to activities where you can meet single people or whatever) is going to have a bigger impact on your dating life than any change in your eating habits or conversation with a random stranger ever could.

You sound perfectly dateable to me; I think your first priority should be to spend more time with the community of people you actually want to date.
posted by decathecting at 10:46 PM on October 2, 2011 [12 favorites]


As others mentioned, your goals seem very focused on your outer appearance. Changing your outer appearance can get you more dates, but it's not going to help a lick to get you into a long-term relationship. In fact, sometimes having more dates from people that have been attracted by your outer appearance only makes it more difficult to sift through and find people that are attracted by your inner qualities. I'm not saying you shouldn't do things to improve your appearance, but in my opinion as someone who has changed her outer appearance fairly significantly, I can say that this is only a first step towards getting closer to people.

As someone who is long-single myself, I think the steps are (1) work on being as healthy as possible, and pay some attention to how you look on the outside (what you are doing); and (2) work on your inner self- be as emotionally healthy as possible, learn things, develop skills, do productive things with your time.

Anything beyond that is fighting fate. Of course it's good to put yourself out there, meet people, etc, but I believe that the right person will appear at the right time, and it's not something that can be forced.

Good luck!
posted by bearette at 10:50 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


This line:

"- Take a picture of myself every morning and review once a week - think about what's working and what isn't"

Made me sad. Maybe I'm projecting? But this really sounds like an exercise in self loathing to me. A weekly ritual of self-excoriation wherein you dwell upon every flaw you can find. Even if that's not your intention, I feel like it's a risk.

I'm totally down with doing things like "eating less sugar" and "working out more", but I think that ideally that would be because you want the better health for yourself. "Looking more sexually attractive to land dates" can be a secondary or tertiary goal of your increased fitness.

The reason I say this is because your self worth can't be supplied externally. You can't feel good about yourself if your only source of validation is "she thinks I'm attractive".

Sorry, I'm lecturing. :/ I just want to urge you to love yourself first.

I think jumping into the online dating scene is a great step. It's tough being bay because in the regular world, you have to negotiate that territory of "is she straight?" before you even begin to think about a date being a possibility, and sussing that out is sometimes awkward and difficult. Online dating helps with that in obvious ways.

Other than that - what are you passionate about? What are your hobbies and what are hobbies you want to have? Authors and films and music and games you love, your dream of climbing rock faces, your appreciation for an expertly made latte, whatever it may be: these are the things we connect with others over.

Good luck! I have a friend that is lovely in every way and deserves a woman that will make her happy but she's basically taken the approach that eventually that woman will magically appear in her life. You're going out and looking for her! That means you stand a good chance of finding her.
posted by kavasa at 10:53 PM on October 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


Food for thought ... ideas to consider:
* Play a team sport.
* Try Toastmasters or a communications class or activity that might help with your social awkwardness.
* Try one or more online communities, not specific for dating, but geared to lesbians, your area, or your interests.
* Try lesbian or LGBT related activities, groups, travel, etc. Take it a step further and help organize such stuff. Doing so will not only help you become more known but can boost your confidence.
* Try multiple dating sites. Different ones have different pros and cons. Some seem to be more popular in some areas than in others. When you start on a site, see about getting some feedback on your profile, either by a friend, or some sites have a forum for this.
posted by maurreen at 11:15 PM on October 2, 2011


Eating healthier and getting in better shape are great goals to have for yourself, but if you focus those on other people its easier to get discouraged. "I just dropped a pant size, why didn't the cute barrista flirt with me?" :(

As far as self improvement with an eye toward learning how to be more appealing in the dating scene... if you're friendly with any of your ex's, they may be able to give some pointers... close friends as well. Granted, it may feel like criticism, and to a degree it is... but there are things that others might be seeing that you aren't aware of that might help your chances.

Also, if you have friends who are out in the local scene, see if you can tag along to a party or two and start meeting people through them. Not blind dates, just getting out and making new friends. Look at making friends first, rather than viewing each new acquaintance as a potential romantic conquest (it can come off as desperate or creepy, and you definitely don't want that).

Look at attending singles mixers in the local community, or other local events that will give you opportunities to get out and meet girls who might be interested. With the holidays coming up, PFLAG and other groups are likely to be looking for volunteers for various things.

Do some research into online dating so that you can learn what to avoid (if someone asks for money, is from nigeria or ghana, delete and block immediately, the small possibility that they're not a scam artist isn't worth the potential heartbreak and financial/legal consequences of trusting the wrong person). If you do start meeting people from online, remember to have the first couple of meetings in public, populated, well lit type places until you're comfortably sure they're not some kind of psycho :)
posted by myShanon at 11:21 PM on October 2, 2011


Maybe I am unusual, but as a gay female in my late 20s, I do not care whether my potential dates eat sugar or white flour, how often they go to the gym (although I would like them to be able to hike 5 miles with me), precisely how much they weight, or how much effort they put into their outfit and hair. I care about whether people are warm, communicative, relatively comfortable with themselves, interesting to talk to, and can take care of themselves with things like budgeting and keeping their house liveably clean.

I would just work on being happy and on meeting people.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:22 PM on October 2, 2011 [13 favorites]


Also:

* I think the constant picture thing is a bad idea.

* I think one change a month and halving your list, is much better.

* It might be a good to review your past relationships and related. What went right and wrong, and how can you use that information toward a better future?

* I would put priorities on putting yourself in position to get to know the kind of women you have more potential with (in other words, more about meeting lesbians you have other stuff in common with than anything about appearance).

Good luck!
posted by maurreen at 11:32 PM on October 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think your first item (unless you have a genuine medical reason) would decrease your chances rather than increase. I assume your intention is weight loss but the side effect is a fussy eater. Going out for dinner is a common early dating experience and chocolates are a common gift. Being obviously on a strict diet is not attractive. Spend that energy on the gym and learning to love the body you've got not the body you wish you had. 20lbs is not that much unless you're really short - just the right clothing and you could look like you've lost 10-20lbs.

Why is contacting people on dating sites the lowest on the list? It should be at the top. People of all shapes and sizes find love and intimacy, losing 20lbs is unlikely to have a major impact on your ability to get dates. Contacting 4 people per week instead of 2 could pretty much double it.
posted by missmagenta at 12:20 AM on October 3, 2011


Thanks so much to everyone who responded! Here is my revised action plan, based on some of the suggestions above. I am marking as "best answer" everyone whose advice I will try. My plan is to build on each previous item, so that by month 6 I should be practicing all 5 habits.

Month 1: Join a weekly martial arts class at "the gay gym". (I put this first because it's actually something I've been wanting to try forever! If I hate it, I'll swap for another weekly class that has a more "social" vibe than yoga).

Month 2: Start attending one LGBT meetup per week. Work on making more connections within the gay community.

Month 3: Start spending an extra half hour in the mornings on my appearance (an upgrade from my current 5 minutes). (I somewhat agree that this is shallow, but I scoured askme before I posted this and working on appearance was really highly recommended to literally everyone except me. I promise not to do the photo thing!)

Month 4: Commit to online dating. (This is lower on the list not because it is the least important step, but because I think it is the most difficult / time-consuming one, and because I want to build up to it).

Month 5: Cultivate generosity.

To those who responded about working on loving myself first and not fighting fate - you may well be right. However, personally I'm a little bit skeptical of the idea that when you're ready for a relationship, love will appear in your life. It seems a little bit like saying that when you're ready to care for a child, you'll get pregnant, or when you're ready to have a career, you'll be offered a job. It's almost like saying that if you fail to connect romantically, you were unworthy, rather than just unlucky or inept. My preference is to think in terms of strategies - skills to learn, habits to acquire, risks to take, ways to better the odds. This doesn't mean that I will stop practicing the things that make me happy on my own - therapy, yoga, cooking, travel, volunteering, etc. But I don't necessarily buy that having a rich inner life always results in outward connections.
posted by GraceCathedral at 12:59 AM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


GraceCathedral: I think the things that you plan to do sound good and will probably result in more dates, which does in fact make the chance for a relationship more likely.

That being said-

It's almost like saying that if you fail to connect romantically, you were unworthy, rather than just unlucky or inept

Actually I think I was saying the opposite: failing to connect romantically is often more about your fate than what you are doing, specifically (of course it can be both; but I've found that making people attracted to me doesn't always result in me being attracted to said person, hence making myself more attractive hasn't led to more long-term, reciprocal relationships of the kind I want.).

I really don't mean to be a downer and I absolutely think you are doing good things here. My main point was, I guess, that getting into relationships also seems somewhat to be the luck of the draw: there are some people without any particularly great qualities, inner or outer, who seem to constantly be romantically attached; other people who have great inner and outer qualities who have trouble getting into long-term relationships. This isn't related to qualities these people have, necessarily.

Getting dates is something you can control; meeting more dateable people is something you can control; and by doing such you are increasing the odds of being in a relationship. But I believe that the reciprocal feelings involved in a serious relationship is not something you can put a timeframe on ("I want this to happen in a year").
posted by bearette at 1:33 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Commit to spending an extra 30 minutes every morning on hair/makeup/putting together a cute outfit"

Hi. I am one of those girls who look pretty damn good everyday. So here's my advice: You do not need extra 30 minutes in the morning. I take maybe 10-15 minutes choosing my outfit and putting on makeup. What you need, however, is a decent wardrobe in place and a set makeup routine.

Just a couple of tips:

For my daily makeup routine, I put on foundation and eyeliner, and a dash of perfume. This is pretty basic but by god, it transforms me from the person who just woke up to the person who looks set for the day. I'm sure some girls would go the whole nine yards, but if you're anything like me, just a little extra effort can go a long way. You will probably have a different daily makeup routine (for example, mascara does not work for me but I know that for most girls, it's essential), but you need to identify what works for you.

For a decent wardrobe: this is pretty tough to summarize in an AskMeFi question, but here goes. You need key pieces (basic black skirt, basic black slacks, jeans, A line skirt, black stilettos, black pumps). Never skimp on the key pieces - they do not have to be designer brands, but they should be from good solid brands and they should not be made out of synthetic PVCs and polyester-type stuff.

You need key accessories: I have one set of gold-based accessories and one set of silver-based accessories, where my handbag, shoes, earrings, necklace, belt form part of a 'set'. (I'm currently starting to compile my blue set, but either gold or silver should go with most outfits).

You need non-key pieces to throw variety in your dressing - no one ever remembers that you wore the same black slacks 10 days in a row, but everyone will remember that you wore your bright blue blouse two days in a row.

You need to identify colours that work for you and colours that don't. And you need to identify colour combinations that work for you too. I like bright green or blue tops a lot as they go with my beige skirt and jeans.

I took about 2 years to hammer my wardrobe into shape, and this included long shopping trips occasionally.

Also, never buy anything at full price unless ABSOLUTELY necessary (you have an interview tomorrow, and you need black shoes). Almost everything goes on sale.
posted by moiraine at 2:45 AM on October 3, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think working on your outer self is just fine, and is equally as necessary as working on your inner self.

However, I tend to agree that finding a partner is a matter of chance. The idea that a partner will just manifest in the universe the moment you attain the requisite level of enlightenment is... well... maybe I just haven't attained the requisite level of enlightenment yet. You know, the level of enlightenment seemingly enjoyed by all those people who... um... well, to look at them and observe their behaviour, you wouldn't know they'd attained this mystic level of enlightenment, indeed whose level of enlightenment is discernible solely by the fact that they actually have a partner.

Honestly, once you've checked your teeth for spinach and your personality for overt disorders, I think it's largely a matter of luck. There are systematic studies of ways to increase your luck, and the cases cited include people who always have the partner of their dreams, so I reckon it's worth a shot to try The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman. I used to know a psychopath who always had a partner, and the way he did it - other than being totally unhindered by ethics or conscience - was to treat life in general as a numbers game. Wiseman's study findings bear this out and he's full of techniques for increasing the numbers of people you know. It can't hurt, and you don't even have to become a psychopath to do his luck-improving exercises.
posted by tel3path at 4:18 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, after reading some of the responses here, I wanted to say about my previous comment (on improving outward appearance), that the point of dressing up and looking good is not to be that immaculate well-manicured girl completely obsessed with looks, but to look decent, approachable, put-together, well-dressed, confident. Like it or not, your appearance and your clothes send signals to other people. You can control these signals. Part of fake-it-till-you-make-it is to look and dress the part.
posted by moiraine at 5:14 AM on October 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Like kavasa said: Sorry, I'm lecturing. :/ I just want to urge you to love yourself first.

You're more likely to connect with someone if you didn't feel so much work would be required to make you lovable. Also, you'd be less socially awkward because you could be yourself.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:23 AM on October 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ha - tel3path, I think that is exactly right. I am trying to employ the psychopath strategy.

I know that there is no way to guarantee that I fall in love with someone or that someone falls in love with me, but I do have to hope that I can take steps to increase my chances. As things stand. the average number of single queer girls I meet in a year is less than ten. I think I can do better than this!

It is interesting to me that after reading a bunch of askmes from people in similar situations (mostly men seeking women) who were advised to work on appearance/attractiveness, seem to be getting the opposite advice. (Setting goals to change any part of your appearance means you haven't accepted that you are loveable?!?) I think lesbians can be as shallow as everyone else when deciding whether to go out for coffee with someone.... and if we haven't reached the coffee stage, how will they ev en find out about my inner beauty?
posted by GraceCathedral at 5:48 AM on October 3, 2011


Seems like many people would have less or a "problem" wit this question if it had been phrased more like "I've decided to start taking better care of myself and how I present me to the world by doing these x things"

Think of it like that. The potential for a girlfriend MAY increase, and may not, but in the meantime you've taken steps to improve your diet, exercise, and social life, which are all good things unto themselves.

Separate the actions from the result and you'll probably have a better time of it.
posted by softlord at 5:54 AM on October 3, 2011


As a poet once said, true love is a promise with a catch.

He advised this:
Step out into the light.

Make it about you learning to approach someone you like, instead of making yourself more approachable.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:26 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


These sound like a lot of them start and end in your own head, so I like your amended list more than youre starting list. I'd also suggest working on community building, so it's not just YOU taking YOU to a class, it's you going out with your friends to a thing where you might all meet people. i sort of find that relationship building works better when you're not in a vacuum, where you're already surrounded by people and settings that you enjoy. I know that you've been doing some manner of this and it hasn't been working, but I just want to make sure that stays as part of your plan. I would absolutely make sure your friends are part of whatever this plan is. Presumably, whoever you start dating will become a part of your friends group at some level. You can also ask them for advice/suggestions which would be worth more than the advice of strangers since presumably they know you.
posted by jessamyn at 7:28 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Throwing in: I take photos of my outfits, good hair days, good makeup days, so I can remember which outfits were awesome, fun hair ideas, etc.; I think it provides incentive to come up with a fun outfit, and it is fun to look back on the pictures and re-wear outfits that really worked. I think that approaching it from a negative place is bad, but disagree with others that taking these pictures is inherently "bad"
posted by Acer_saccharum at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2011


GraceCathedral: "Month 2: Start attending one LGBT meetup per week. Work on making more connections within the gay community."

You make that sound so.....clinical.

Instead, find an LGBT sports league or some sort of common-interest club that meets regularly, or with some sort of commitment attached. You'll be more likely to form long-lasting friendships that way.
posted by schmod at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2011


It's not clear from your original post if you identify as butch, femme, in between, etc. I would guess femme from your description of working on hair/makeup longer? What kind of girl is your type?

I ask because dykes come in all categories and like all categories. I am pretty femme (enough so that most people assume I am straight), and generally tend toward liking other femmes, but sometimes the more butch/stud end really does it for me. I was actually surprised the first time I realized I found some butches really sexy, because I think women are so conditioned to think that female attractiveness= hair, makeup, dress, etc.

I guess my point is, make sure your outer makeover reflects what you like and what you want yourself to look like. If you want a Bieber haircut, little to no makeup, and flannel shirts, then rock it and work on making your skin really clear so it's nice without makeup. Plenty of girls go for that just as much as someone with super-styled hair and a cute outfit.
posted by nakedmolerats at 7:49 AM on October 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


As for the appearance thing; I think the reason you're seeing so many past posts that encourage the OP to take a closer look at their appearance and you are being discouraged from doing so is that your original question already demonstrates an awareness of the importance of first impressions and basic grooming and all that. Sure, fine tune that, but you're probably pretty good already. Sometimes OPs come in to these questions with an attitude that their perfect partner should instantly look past their outdated clothes and terrible goatee and recognize their sparkly personality. They think grooming doesn't matter, and that's not true and you already know it. Now the idea is to spend the minimum amount of time possible on it to get an acceptable result and don't overthink it. Ask a friend once in a while if you're not sure something is working for you, but otherwise, get your routine down and spend your energy on other things.
posted by slow graffiti at 7:55 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think you should drop the checklist entirely.

Concentrate on living your life. Start getting out and doing stuff, NOT because you might meet someone and end up in a relationship, but because you want to do it and it will enrich your life.

Of course you want to be in a relationship but that shouldn't be your goal, in my view. I think that the best relationships evolve because both people are out there doing things they love, whether that is cycling, volunteering, traveling, painting or whatever. You meet people - lots of people - who share some of your interests. You get to know them. Some become friends and you enjoy playing/working together. Some you won't hit it off with. And maybe one of them will become a partner one day.

But maybe not. And meanwhile, you've been living your life as fully as you can. Honestly, your question and a lot of your follow ups give off an air of desperation. You seem very critical of yourself. People can sense that and the not-so-kind ones will take advantage of that. Develop your interests and try out lots of new things, only because you want to. Instead of scrutinizing your appearance, build your confidence by accomplishing stuff. That's what others will find attractive.

As Popeye said, "I yam what I yam". If you're someone who breezes out of the house after a 5 minute fluff and polish, great! Spend that extra time reading up on something you find fascinating, or something you know nothing about. Just ... start living, because the clock is ticking. Live a fabulous life, be awesome with or without a partner. You have to be happy from the inside. It will plainly show on the outside.

Go have some fun and report back in 6 months.
posted by Kangaroo at 8:51 AM on October 3, 2011


- Cut out sugar/white flour from my diet

This is temporary, right? Because, well, I'm a straight male, not a gay female, but if I went out to dinner on a first date with a woman, and she wouldn't eat anything with sugar or white flour in it, I'd probably think twice about continuing to see her. Maybe this is just my baggage from having an anorexic ex, but I want to be able to say "oh man, you have to try this cake" and not have it be a big deal.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:47 AM on October 3, 2011


Of course you want to be in a relationship but that shouldn't be your goal, in my view. I think that the best relationships evolve because both people are out there doing things they love, whether that is cycling, volunteering, traveling, painting or whatever. You meet people - lots of people - who share some of your interests. You get to know them. Some become friends and you enjoy playing/working together. Some you won't hit it off with. And maybe one of them will become a partner one day.

But the OP said she is in her late twenties and has been doing this for some time with no good result. She is also in a demographic which is relatively small. I wish I had stopped following the advice to "get out there doing things [I] love" about a decade ago, because if I had, I might still have a realistic possibility of having children.

I'm glad the vast majority of people on this planet have had no trouble finding a partner just by going about their daily activities. But not everyone has had that experience, and I've found that being systematic and purposeful has increased the number of dates I get by... well... about infinity percent actually. I wish I had started a lot sooner.

I think we need to get real here. Most of the people I know at my age have had their fill of romantic relationships and have more children than they can cope with. They can't understand why I would feel troubled by the loss of something that they assume is just there for the taking. Oh, partners can't transport you to some celestial realm of perfect bliss, you know. Oh, you're probably just idealizing that guy, try to imagine him sitting on the loo, that will cure you of all those pesky feelings. Et cetera. I am sure they only want to make me feel better and don't mean to stigmatize me for trying to get what they've got, but that is pretty much the effect.

It is not "desperate" to want a partner nor is it unhealthy to have that as a goal, and it's actually quite cruel to say that it is.
posted by tel3path at 10:00 AM on October 3, 2011 [9 favorites]


This is a good essay (or, at least, it speaks to me) about how aesthetics work in queer-lady relationships: Queering My Mirror. You're already very conscious about your looks -- I don't think spending more time thinking about what's "wrong" with you is going to be productive here...
posted by heurtebise at 10:09 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Read "How to win friends and influence people". Some of it is dated, but the rest is really helpful.
posted by 4midori at 10:20 AM on October 3, 2011


Also, There Is Nothing Wrong with You.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:37 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Granted I'm a guy, but the number one thing you could do to attract me would be to throw away the make-up and forget about your hair.

Different people like different things, so the whole make-up/hair thing will be more for you than for anyone else.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:47 AM on October 3, 2011


I just want to second tel3path's response. While I think getting more involved in hobbies, etc, is good all around *and* could be a good way to meet a partner, I don't think the OP should stop there; she should supplement that by actually purposefully looking for a partner, whether that means online dating or singles events or what have you.

Just to make an analogy here...if the OP were looking for a new job in finance, I don't think anyone would tell her to just go to finance-related meetups and hope to run into a contact who could get her a job. That would certainly be good advice but she would absolutely want to supplement it by searching for job ads online and applying for those jobs, etc.

I think it's good to identify what you want (partner, job, etc) and go after it.
posted by whitelily at 10:51 AM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is some real distaste for the daily photo exercise, but if personal style is something you value and want to improve upon, this is the best way to do it. It's no different than a runner keeping track of mileage, or a weighlifter noting weight and reps at the gym.

I frequent a forum dedicated to mens' style, and there is a thread in which people post the outfit they're wearing. Some real schlubs post terrible fits, but I've seen a few who are willing to absorb some extremely frank and sometimes abusive criticism without taking offense. They get incrementally better with each post, and within 3-6 months look consistently good and receive lots of praise. There's no self-loathing, just open acknowledgment that there's room for improvement and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
posted by Mendl at 11:31 AM on October 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the goal is to be in a relationship, I would question the losing weight part. People of all shapes and sizes are in relationships, not just skinny girls. Go out, do more fun things, join the gay community in your area, and generally put yourself out there more. Meet people who are in relationships, and ask them how they met. I know people who've had long spells of being single, and people who've lost a good amount of weight, but I don't know a single person who only met her significant other after dropping some weight. Whether or not you are 20 pounds above where you want to be, there is definitely someone out there for you. What you want to work on is meeting that someone. So, you could say the thing that's missing from your list is being out and about in the world as much as possible.

Also, why wait on joining online dating? You can join okcupid for free any day you want, and set up a profile, and see who's out there, and start getting messages from people. It only takes as much time as you want it to take.
posted by violetish at 2:39 PM on October 3, 2011


Once a month, go get something done at a salon/spa. Nails manicured, great haircut, facial, massage, etc. It's a way of trying new ways to look, and being good to yourself at the same time. Once a month, go shopping, and buy something really terrific. Not just "It pretty much fits, looks okay and is on sale," but quality wardrobe essentials that look great and make you feel good. A great pair of shoes, a terrific coat, jeans that fit perfectly. Again, it's self-improvement and self-indulgence at the same time.

Make friends. Having a good circle of friends is a good way to meet people you're likely to want to date.

Have fun, and cultivate some higher needs - knowledge, joy, spirituality, generosity, fun, skill, etc. It will attract others who follow the same goals.
posted by theora55 at 3:49 PM on October 3, 2011


To those who responded about working on loving myself first and not fighting fate - you may well be right. However, personally I'm a little bit skeptical of the idea that when you're ready for a relationship, love will appear in your life. It seems a little bit like saying that when you're ready to care for a child, you'll get pregnant, or when you're ready to have a career, you'll be offered a job. It's almost like saying that if you fail to connect romantically, you were unworthy, rather than just unlucky or inept. My preference is to think in terms of strategies - skills to learn, habits to acquire, risks to take, ways to better the odds. This doesn't mean that I will stop practicing the things that make me happy on my own - therapy, yoga, cooking, travel, volunteering, etc. But I don't necessarily buy that having a rich inner life always results in outward connections.

I just wanted to pipe in to say I totally agree with this statement and applaud your approach. There seems to be this horribly common rhetoric nowadays that single people are single because of some great personal failing, whether it's their failure to love themselves, their failure to possess the qualities to be a good partner or some sort of moral/character failing. As opposed to bad luck, circumstance or the way you are presenting yourself. I personally feel it's anything but loving yourself to believe you are alone because of some personal spiritual failure as opposed to needing to get to the gym more and meeting more people.
posted by whoaali at 4:12 PM on October 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Instead of giving yourself a list of things to do to "find" a relationship,why don't you make a list of things to do that YOU want to do? Dates will come when you're feeling happy and free BY YOURSELF! That confidence shines through on people... use this time to get right with yourself... and then you can think about relationships. By what you've said about losing weight and wearing makeup, it makes me think you don't like the way you look on a day to day basis. We all have those days, but maybe you can start there... why don't you like yourself? Why do you feel you can't date unless you're thinner and wear makeup everyday? Don't you think you should be comfortable with a signifigant other no matter what you're wearing or how you look? I hope you find what it is you're looking for... and in the meantime, I hope you find yourself. Good luck to you. :)
posted by camylanded at 8:23 AM on October 4, 2011


why don't you make a list of things to do that YOU want to do? Dates will come when you're feeling happy and free BY YOURSELF!

respectfully, i think the OP wants to find dates.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:23 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without getting involved in debate...

I love your "clinical" approach. You're assigning yourself measurable, track-able actions that are in your control, and at the end of each week you can review them. That's how people progress.

I think your modified list looks great, and you could even count your class for the first month as your outing, so that by month 2 your actually going out into the LGBT crowd twice a week.

Going out often and into crowds of people you might like to know is going to be the key. Every time I volunteer to help with an event I meet someone who I could be interested in. Don't just attend, be part of the event - it encourages people to approach you. I will be volunteering at a beer fest soon, and there will be people there who, like me, like to drink fancy beers. One of them is bound to be my type. (Also just going out with your friends and their friends will help you practice socializing and introduce you to new people.)

One last thing - Awesome that you are improving your body and that doing that in a joyful and proud way is your first habit - you'll have it for a long time. At the same time, don't feel like not having a certain body type will inhibit a relationship. Considering the vast menagerie of pornographic websites dedicated to niche body types, I think it's fair to say that everybody is somebody's type.

I might adapt your list!
posted by jander03 at 11:26 AM on October 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


This sounds like something that would be helped by Health Month. There's a fair-sized group of MeFites on it; it's social; it has a lot of feedback and statistics. And what I've found is that it is very good for determining what things are and are not possible within a month - if I've bitten off more than I can chew it becomes evident very quickly.

Pretty much all of the things you're trying to monitor are there as preset (but tweakable) rules. If not you can add custom ones. And there might even be a sponsorship chip or two left from the batch that Mathowie bought; see the first link.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:42 PM on October 5, 2011


Er, make that the second link.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 5:43 PM on October 5, 2011


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