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How do I help my friend find a boyfriend?
October 19, 2012 4:13 PM   Subscribe

DatingFilter: What dating advice do I give to my friend?

I've known my friend forever and she is both very much like me and very much unlike me. We're both intelligent, competitive, hyper-rational, loyal, ambitious, career-focused, well-traveled, well-educated and generous with the people we care about. We both grew up with somewhat conservative families and both had no dating experience until college. (We're both in our mid-20s.) We're both curvy and probably slightly overweight. I can't speak for myself, but when my friend dresses up--which she does more than I do--she's smoking hot. Even my boyfriend says so. (And yes, that's cool by me.)

We both suffer the same problem with dating: We come off as very domineering women when really we both want to be pursued. We come off as confident--and we are, in most areas--but we're actually very insecure when it comes to romance and our own attractiveness.

I have solved this problem with a very practical approach: I identify as kinky, and specifically sought out dominant men. On or before my first dates, before I found my partner, I was always very explicit on both how I present to others and what I am actually looking for in a relationship. This has worked well for me, and I have been in 2 long term relationships, despite never really caring if I was single or not.

However, my friend wants romance and serendipity. She's still getting over the "but it doesn't mean as much if I have to tell him to do it" mentality, which I've been slowly trying to convince her of otherwise. She's too embarrassed to post up a profile online, and vehemently defends her vanilla-ness, which is okay. (Though in my experience, because kinky people do things in so many different ways, kinky people are usually more explicit about the type of relationships they want.) My friend also does not have time to really meet people in person outside of her rigorous grad program, and the grad program does not have any potential boyfriends.

She has always wanted a relationship for as long as I've known her, and at this point gets kind of offended if people offer her casual sex. (She's hot, and they do, on a regular basis. But she's actually conservative and would not be comfortable with physical intimacy until the emotional intimacy is there. And it's not like she never wants to have sex, just not until there's some other connection.) She wants to have monogamy she can trust before physical intimacy. And yet, she has not had any experience that she would call a "serious relationship." At this point, it's become something of a sore point, and a (possibly only) source of insecurity.

I want to do my bestie duty, but I don't know how to help her. To me, she has all the qualifications of being a great girlfriend and is definitely more "qualified" than I am, by most measurements. She is slowly dipping her toe into online dating, and in the meanwhile meeting interested people and kinda-sorta telling them she's interested in very roundabout ways. (She says it's because they have mutual friends, and doesn't want it to backfire if the guy is not interested.) I don't know any single guys who would be a good fit for her (either because of age, or because they would want physical intimacy before monogamy, or some other deal breaker). And I'm wondering if there's anything she or I can do to help her find a significant other.

(She's very aware that her first relationship might fail, due to lack of relationship skills or probability. However, she's willing to give it her all regardless.)

Help please?

[If it matters, I'm an Asian American dating a caucasian and she's a caucasian American whose ideal boyfriend is an Asian American.]
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know you said your friend is too embarrassed to post a profile online, but I'd recommend online dating anyway. Especially on a site like OkCupid, you can make quite clear from your profile and question answers exactly who you are and what you are looking for, and you can be explicit from the outset about your preferences regarding various relational aspects (especially surrounding sex, and also about whether you expect the guy to pursue, etc.), and only attract those who are a good fit. For me, it took away a lot of the anxiety about meeting people without being clear whether we clicked in aspects that were fundamental to me. I understand her potential embarrassment, but at least in my experience, it really was far less embarrassing than I might have expected - in fact, I didn't find it embarrassing at all. There are a lot of really great guys of all stripes online, in my experience, and it seems to me that she might have the most luck there.
posted by UniversityNomad at 4:26 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I seem to have left out specific recommendations! It seems to me that you might be the ideal person to read over her profile after she creates it, to make sure it gives a good idea of what she's like as a person (the more specifically and accurately you can convey your particularities, the better your matches will be). If she's shy or hesitant, you could also provide her with moral support about the whole online dating experience, as well as listen to her postmortem after each date, and help her figure out whether it seems to be something she wants to pursue.

The other thing that you might want to help her keep in mind is that regardless of what the media tells us, finding a relationship that's a good fit is often a long slog, and even once you do find it, there's a fair amount of work that goes into it, and it's usually counterproductive to expect your significant other to read your mind or otherwise intuit exactly how your real-life Mr. Darcy would ideally act (that may not have been exactly what you were getting at with your mention of her desire for "romance and serendipity", but I think it's worth mentioning anyway). All of this is fairly obvious in theory, but it sometimes can take some effort to absorb in practice. Having a good friend who can provide both support and a helpful reality check of this nature would be invaluable.
posted by UniversityNomad at 4:33 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did she ask for your help? Can you clarify?
posted by sweetkid at 6:09 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


We come off as very domineering women when really we both want to be pursued. We come off as confident--and we are, in most areas--but we're actually very insecure when it comes to romance and our own attractiveness.

Can you say more -- what does she do that seems domineering or intimidatingly confident? What is it about her that you think doesn't appeal to men who are likely to pursue? Would she like to encourage less-confident guys to ask her out?

I'm hoping that if you describe what she's like, we might be able to offer suggestions.
posted by wryly at 6:21 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is she religious or spiritual? If so, she might have better luck meeting like-minded types at a Christian fellowship. It's a lot more common to find people there who relate to her values of monogamy and "traditional" romance.
posted by rhythm and booze at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


UniversityNomad made both of the points I was going to make: first that online dating sounds ideal for her because she can set out just what you have said here about wanting a man who is going to put in some effort and build intimacy, and second that you should write that profile for her* or at least read over what she writes. You paint an extremely attractive and compelling description of her, and if she is half as attractive in life as in your description she sounds like a great catch.

* Obviously don't do this as a surprise, but maybe she would be ok with you putting offering to write a draft for her? It can be really hard to both accurately and positively describe yourself and what you want (just like writing your own letter of recommendation is incredibly difficult), and a supportive friend may be just the ticket. But again, only do this if she wants you to do it.
posted by Forktine at 6:32 PM on October 19, 2012


Wanting an emotional connection to happen before a physical one is totally okay, and normal. Nothing to change there.

On the other hand, wanting to form an intimate connection with someone else, without being willing to talk about her needs or desires? It won't happen. The best she can do -- if she's extremely lucky and patient, and the odds are against her -- is stumble across a man who does everything she wants without having to ask, but who is doing those things because that's just the way he is, not because he's trying hard to make someone he cares about happy.

Believe me, you don't want to hook up with the partner who just happens to do everything you want, without you having to ask, because they're just a person with those habits. With that partner, you end up taking them for granted, and then someday they change their habits and start doing things you don't like. When (not if) that happens, you'll have to choose: put up with it, leave, or learn to ask...and this deep into the relationship, you just might discover that when you ask for something they haven't chosen to do on their own, they don't want to try, they don't want to do it, and suddenly they don't want to be with you any more.

No, better to find someone you're generally compatible with, but also with whom you can talk about your needs and desires, and whose needs and desires you care about fulfilling (mostly.) That way, if you can satisfy each other, you'll be good to go, and if you can't, at least you're working on it and you can deal with it one way or the other quickly.
posted by davejay at 9:15 PM on October 19, 2012 [12 favorites]


meanwhile meeting interested people and kinda-sorta telling them she's interested in very roundabout ways. (She says it's because they have mutual friends, and doesn't want it to backfire if the guy is not interested.

Wait, what about flirting? Has she tried flirting? Flirting is pretty much *the* way you take the initiative to get things going while still feeling pursued, and like there is romance and serendipity involved.

If she is out of practice with it or never really learned then I recommend she start with this move on these guys she is interested in. She should kind of stare at the guy until he looks over at her. When he looks over she should immediately look away and blush like crazy.

That one is super easy and it has the great combination of extremely high effectiveness, and total deniability. She should only use it once per guy though because it will get creepy if she does it too much, or if the guy is not interested.
posted by cairdeas at 11:34 PM on October 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


[OP, your comments are not anonymous if you post here. I've deleted them and will repost myself. You can contact us to post further answers from you if necessary.]
posted by taz at 12:34 AM on October 20, 2012


From the OP:
@sweetkid: Yes, she comes to me for relationship advice and to generally express her frustrations. And she knows me well enough to expect helpful advice rather than just emotional support.

@rhythm and booze: No to being religious or spiritual. In fact, she's a hardcore atheist. It's much more about trust and the fact that she believes the emotional connection should happen before the physical one.

@Forktine: I have mentioned that I've posted ads on CL, and she asked me to write her one. Since others seem to think this is a good idea, I might do that next.
posted by taz at 12:35 AM on October 20, 2012


She is slowly dipping her toe into online dating, and in the meanwhile meeting interested people and kinda-sorta telling them she's interested in very roundabout ways.

As a friend you can encourage her to do more of this ... really anything that's a departure from what she has done in the past, since it hasn't worked.

I don't know any single guys who would be a good fit for her (either because of age, or because they would want physical intimacy before monogamy, or some other deal breaker).

Don't decide for her. She's smart, she's beginning to relax her approach and possibly some of her standards (maybe she had a strict age requirement before). If you know single guys who aren't outright cads, then trust her to come to her own conclusions about dealbreakers and good fits.
posted by headnsouth at 9:36 AM on October 20, 2012


It takes some people a decade or two to find a partner. I think your duty as a BFF is to support her and be sympathetic to her feeling frustrated, etc., and to try not to feel like just because you've figured this out, that your answers will apply to her life, or even that there is any easy answer for her.
posted by salvia at 9:38 AM on October 20, 2012


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