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What to do when women simply don't find you sexy?
March 16, 2014 6:28 PM   Subscribe

I've never had too much of a problem finding a date - usually online - because I look really good on paper, have my shit together, and am pretty good at being outgoing and breaking the ice and all without being a total creep like a lot of people seem to have issues with. But a disturbing trend is starting to take place. I'll be dating a girl, everything will be going good, conversations flowing, jokes hitting, etc etc... and then she'll start to yawn. The date will go on and she'll never give me that playful touch on the arm. When it's over, she'll go in for the hug instead of the kiss. And I try not to look into it, but after 2 or 3 dates pass and we've progressed normally they'll tell me that they just aren't interested. It got so frustrating I asked the last girl to not spare my feelings and let me have it - she told me I don't turn her on. The remains of my shattered ego will be regurgitated inside...

"Sorry, but for your age you have thinning hair. And you're pretty skinny. And you're not really exciting me. That's really it, sorry."

It fucking tore me apart and looking back I can see that all the girls I've dated lately have treated me coolly and I'm worried this is the main reason. I can't grow my damn hair back, I keep it short (I'm not trying for a weird combover or anything). I honestly don't feel like I look bad at all, I've got a good face and I take care of myself even if I'm not a muscle bound jock. And I'm not going after obviously shallow girls just after sex or anything, I'm 23 and am dating girls around my age who mostly say they're tired of playing games and are looking for something more serious. What the hell?

It's really incredibly frustrating. I think I'm just not sexy. Maybe it's my personality too, maybe I'm not "dangerous" or "challenging". But I don't want to change who I am, I want to find a girl who likes me for me. What the hell do you do when you're just not exciting girls?
posted by johnpoe50 to Human Relations (70 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keep dating. It's a numbers game, pure and simple. Eventually you will find someone who finds you sexy.
posted by eq21 at 6:33 PM on March 16 [35 favorites]


But I don't want to change who I am,

Then don't.

I want to find a girl who likes me for me.

You will, eventually. But you may have to try a lot of people, go on a lot of dates. Dating is a numbers game.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:34 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


How long is "lately"? Everyone has ups and downs. Once I kept track and it took me over 20 dates just to meet someone I went on more than 3 dates with.
posted by bunderful at 6:40 PM on March 16


Are you attracted to them? And are you flirting with them? I think sometimes it can make a difference if your attraction is clear...and if you seem confident. That's not to say that these just weren't the right matches for you, but flirtation does make a difference.
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:41 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


I guess I'm someone with a fragile little ego, but for me personally, I'd try to stay away from the "Just give it to me, let me have it" thing. Because the truth is, no one is right for everyone, and everyone can find someone(s) to eviscerate them and point out all of their flaws, because the fact is that everyone does have flaws. We just gloss over them when we find the right person.

That stuff can really get to you. And you can either get way bogged down in it, or you can focus on the things you have got going for you, and it seems like you've got a lot going for you. I don't really take this advice myself, but I know it on good authority that it is good advice.

Maybe you should take a break from online dating and try meeting people other ways. It sounds like you're tired of it.
posted by mermily at 6:44 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Plenty of women like thin guys, although it's not a bad idea to engage in an activity that gets you a little more fit, purely because it will do wonders in a few years for keeping yourself healthy and it's a fantastic habit to get into. Plenty of women give zero fucks about thinning hair, too, or even prefer it (yes! it's true!) and you're right to present yourself honestly.

I'm about one age bracket older than you and let me tell you, a skinny dude who has his shit together and is capable of making some of the first moves is like a holy grail to me. 23 seems pretty young to me, to be going for serious relationships right off the bat. It might be that you're dating women who say they want one thing but still cling to a level of frivolity that you're just over with. (I experienced this with both genders when I was in my early 20s.) Have you thought about dating slightly older, just to see?

Question: Do you find these women sexy in return? Are you turned on by them? Or are you just feeling obligatorily attracted because hey, lady parts and smelling nice and laughing at your jokes? One of the sexiest things is knowing that you're attractive to the other person. How do you express that, and are you being truthful about it? What kind of person would you like to be having sex with, and are you dating them?
posted by Mizu at 6:45 PM on March 16 [20 favorites]


"Sorry, but for your age you have thinning hair. And you're pretty skinny. And you're not really exciting me. That's really it, sorry."

Somebody really said that? Sorry, I don't believe it. I think you said that.
But if somebody did .. good lord. That's not somebody you need to be interested in. Keep going, dude. The most important sex organ is your brain.

Plus .. thinning hair? Seriously? That's a sign of testosterone. Think about it.
posted by LonnieK at 6:46 PM on March 16 [11 favorites]


I think you're in a confidence death spiral, and there's not much We the Internet can do to reassure you that you are fine, which is what you really need. But you are fine.

Do not ask any more near-strangers why you don't turn them on. Sexual tastes can be arcane, and "failing" to meet them may not even constitute a genuine flaw on your part. What if the girl had said "I am really into hairy moles, really big ones with the hairs drifting in the wind" or "You smell wrong - clean and all, don't get me wrong, but I respond to a very particular chemistry and it's just not happening". Of course, with stuff that specific, you'd get dumped on the first meet, not the third, but would you still feel torn up? I think you wouldn't. I think she hit on your particular sore spots and you're taking this too much to heart.

Thinning hair or skinny body type are definitely not uniform dealbreakers (even if there were such a thing, and I am pretty sure there's not, based on some of the loathsome people who've been married. Most of the genocidal dictators I can think of were married or in serious "die in the bunker together" relationships, and few of them could have posed for Greek statues, if that's our beauty ideal.)

There is, as the expression goes, a lid for every pot. Hang in there, keep dating, and remember to round out your social life with regular outings with friends so that you don't get twisted up from seeing people only in the tricky evaluative context of dates.
posted by gingerest at 6:48 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


Ugh, that must have been awful to hear and I'm sorry. HOWEVER, I would try not to extrapolate what she said to all your other dating experiences. It's one girl! And dating sucks and is a drag, and not everyone is going to be attracted to you. I feel like "You're not really exciting me" is the crux of her statement, and the rest is just her attempt to justify it.

Granted I don't know what you look like, but "skinny and with thinning hair" pretty well describes a guy I knew a while back who made me mad with inappropriate lust. I was 24, he was 26; he was also like 5'6" and our friend group was filled with six-foot blond Adonis types, so it's not like I was hard up for eye candy. I'm more or less indifferent to muscles, height, and hair growth (they don't turn me on or off), but he did have a nice deep voice and that gets me every time. We women are weird like that. Like I never comment on these dating questions because I have pretty much zero useful advice ever, but thinking about that guy and his stupid thinning hair just got me all shivery and I had to come in and tell you that some woman, somewhere, is going to be wildly attracted by either one of the very attributes that this other girl finds unattractive, or by some other random-ass thing about you that you would never even consider in your internal appraisal of whether or not you're attractive.

It might be that you're dating women who say they want one thing but still cling to a level of frivolity that you're just over with.

On preview, this too.
posted by sunset in snow country at 6:49 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


My husband is completely bald, not particularly tall, nor is he "dangerous" or "challenging" (ugh), he likes math and computer games. To me, he is the sexiest man in the entire world. He's a bit puzzled by my enthusiasm for his physical form as he's not used to it. You'll meet the right lady eventually, one who likes you for you.

And I agree with the folks above, if someone doesn't want to date you, don't ask them for their honest feedback about their rejection of you. It's never going to make you feel better and after a few dates, is really more about them than you.
posted by Aquifer at 6:50 PM on March 16 [14 favorites]


If they kept going on dates with you after not being attracted to you in the first place, then they weren't all that great with their motives maybe and it ain't on you for it.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:50 PM on March 16


Also, people that say they're tired of playing games are the heaviest players.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:52 PM on March 16 [30 favorites]


It's hard to tell from your post if you lift weights or not, but step 1 to being physically sexy as a man is having muscle mass (step 2 is having a low body fat percentage). The only way you're going to get muscle mass is through resistance training. Aerobic training, and the common forms of classroom yoga won't get you there. The easiest form of resistance training is weight lifting. Don't expect any results for 1 year after working out 3 to 4 days each week.

Resistance training is also the easiest thing you can do to be sexy, even if it is physically grueling if you're doing it correctly.

Step 1 to being psycho-socially sexy is knowing how to lead. I really have a lot of trouble articulating this concept, but you know you're doing it when people follow you. It isn't about dominance or fear. It is about love, and knowing the path forward (especially when there is no path, or the path doesn't matter.) The place to start here is to understand the concept of cathexis. To boil it down to a sentence, "act with love."

This one is a whole lot harder than lifting weights, so just start with lifting weights.

Don't waste any time seeking feedback, the answer you get won't matter, and seeking feedback is actually a step backwards for you.
posted by 517 at 6:54 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


This is not so much my advice as the thing I have heard repeatedly from a couple guy friends who started losing their hair young-ish--as soon as it hits the point where other people start to notice it, society expects you to either commit to being okay with being The Balding Guy Who Wears A Lot Of Hats, or you need to buzz it so short it's invisible, which does also kind of provide its own marker. This is one of those things that sucks for men in the way that a much larger variety of things suck for women--you can't control it and yet societal expectations are so against it that your options are very limited.

As you get just a little older, it stops being as much of a thing, because it starts being a lot more common, but the early 20s seem to be the worst of it.

But you don't need every woman alive to think you're hot, just one, so while you may need to look longer, I don't think it's a Doomed to Singledom kind of thing even if you're not doing the socially-expected thing.
posted by Sequence at 6:58 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Honestly, dating is just really, really hard for a lot of people. Some people have an easy time attracting a large number of people easily, but those people are in the minority. Most other people have to play the numbers game, or just get lucky (or have some divine intervention). What complicates this is that we have cultural standards of what is attractive which can skew what people are looking for, and then there are also just preferences that people have that can vary quite a bit from person to person.

I'm sometimes surprised that I ever got married at all, actually, as I felt a lot like you do. I looked kind of good on paper, but felt like I couldn't take a relationship much further than initial curiosity. The good news is that if you simply keep at it, be who you are, and try to internalize rejection as not an issue of your personal integrity but of other people's somewhat unpredictable preferences, then you are likely to beat the numbers and find someone who likes you for exactly who you are. That day is pretty great. I was 27 when I found the woman I have been married to for 13 years now, and my longest relationship before that was about 2 months in high school.

Hang in there and don't worry. Keep pressing on, and good luck!
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:04 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


I think by dating online, you might be having dates with a lot of girls who you wouldn't be able to make a date with at, i.e., the bar, because of lack of physical connection. There's nothing wrong with that at all but it means you're going to be on dates that don't necessarily go anywhere. Keep dating and just don't get too emotionally (or financially!) invested in the dates and keep it fun.

Life isn't a TV show. People don't have tons of sexy, fun dates with people with perfect teeth. You have crappy or awkward dates with girls with bad breath or too many cats and then you meet someone you can be with for a year or 5 years or forever. You're 23 - enjoy the ride!

Oh and agree that if a 23 year old girl is 'tired of playing games' then she's been playing a whole lot of them.
posted by ftm at 7:05 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


You don't want feedback from these women. There are as many reasons as there are women, and sometimes none a women can articulate, why they don't find you attractive. Think about it there are probably lots of good looking, put together women who you just don't like and if you're doing online dating I bet you've looked at lots of profiles where there isn't anything really wrong but they just don't do it for you.

I also think you should be flirting with them. I've been on dates with men who simply didn't flirt at all and especially when I was your age it was really hard to make the first move. Knowing someone is interested in you makes them seem more interesting. Ask them lots of questions, remember what they tell you and follow up on the next date (like if they tell you their mom is renovating her bathroom ask how its going), make eye contact, go in for the kiss if the moment seems right and don't get discouraged that fact that you're going on dates is great it takes a while to find the right person.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 7:05 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Who are you dating? Date nerds.
posted by heyjude at 7:08 PM on March 16 [17 favorites]


Don't worry about your looks, that's not what this is about. If there were obvious deal-breakers going on with you, like if these women thought you were just straight up too ugly to get with (!), you wouldn't get past the first date with them (at the latest). Not getting past the third date more likely means that there's nothing obvious wrong with you (including that you look fine) but that these women don't want to commit to being your girlfriend.

I think I'm just not sexy. Maybe it's my personality too, maybe I'm not "dangerous" or "challenging".

Just going off of what you say here about not being "challenging" or "sexy" -- maybe these women are thinking that committing to you would be stifling or dull? A way to counter the "stifling" problem would be to make sure to be easy-going and accepting on your dates. A way to counter the "dull" problem would be to make sure to be sensual and to find pleasure/fun in whatever you're doing. I'd also try to take a real interest in their lives not related to you, things like their work and family and friends, because that will help reinforce that you *like* them having a life and that dating you wouldn't put them on lockdown.

Also, are you physically flirting with these girls and coming onto them? You don't have to be all that aggressive about it, but you also don't necessarily have to wait until they touch your arm to touch theirs.

If your humor tends to run toward self-deprecating or negative, try to keep things a bit more positive in the early days. You don't have to drastically change your sense of humor or anything, just hold off on saying kind of crummy things about yourself and/or the world around you until she's sure she *likes* you and/or the world around you. You might be accidentally influencing her to think things are crummy if you're always joking about how crummy they are.

Anyway, keep your head up. Love is a crapshoot, it doesn't necessarily mean anything that you haven't clicked with any of these women lately. If you're getting to a second or third date that means you're not doing anything egregious. I think you probably have just hit a stretch of bad luck and time will take care of things.
posted by rue72 at 7:11 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


It sounds to me as if you're gluing all these girls into one mass of 'girl', as if all their responses are the same and have the same reasons, and also as if there's one single standard you need to be meeting. You don't say much about the actual vibe you experienced, in the moment, with any one of them. Instead it sounds like you're somewhat outside of these interactions, not participating; you're describing observations of what I guess you feel should be a linear behavioural sequence, vs sensing chemistry or subtext. Like, A happened and B happened, so C should happen. But it's the in between and underneath A and B that matter, you know?

'Being sexy for most people' is one thing. That's what celebrities trade in, and even they don't hit the spot for everyone. Finding a connection with a particular person, being sexy to some individual, is something else. Meeting some cultural standard of attractiveness, like having lots of muscle, might help you in some ways - it might help with your self-confidence (exercising, outcomes disregarded, will do that anyway). But it matters very little when it comes to finding a good match /good chemistry. That is totally individual.

So I'm wondering if you are really engaging with these various girls you're dating, as individuals. Is the conversation spontaneous, or are you telling stories and jokes you've told before? If it's the latter, then, that is more about you performing than a mutual conversation, and a conversation is always more interesting than a performance (on a date).

I think, try to let your guard down a bit. Instead of worrying about meeting some external standard, talk about what you care about. When you can do that comfortably, that's a better sign it's a match than jokes 'hitting'. Ask your date questions. If you're genuinely curious about the answers, that's a better sign it's a match. Think of dating more as just getting to know people. You can't be a match for everyone, you know? It might take another 10 dates to find a click, or it might take just take one. Hang in there :)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:31 PM on March 16 [13 favorites]


Dude, you're soooooo young. So young. In a few more years, girls aren't going to care as much about your hair thinning because your peers are going to start catching up.

In the meantime, get a platonic girl friend's opinion on how your hair looks if that part of the assessment is bugging you. If she says Bic it, then Bic it. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

And don't worry about the skinny thing either -- in a few more years, you're going to start looking lean and mean against a lot of other guys.

I may be biased because I have a type: skinny and Bic'ed, so ymmv.
posted by mibo at 7:53 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


Baldy thin dudes are fine. Chubby hairy dudes are fine. Weedy bald guys with pot bellies and back hair are fine. And all of them can be sexy (musculature is not, as far as I am concerned with my attraction to men, the 'first step to male sexiness' or whatever).

Randoms who start in with the 'looking for someone serious' and 'done with game playing' are not where you want to be. Like someone said, that's high territory for game playing and drama llama ding dong. Asking them for advice is...fraught. Should I take romantic and personal advice from some bro who whinges about women? No! So you shouldn't be taking romantic advice from the equivalent, unless you're really really into drama and so on.

What are your hobbies, what do you like to do with your spare time? Let romance into that aspect, instead of performing it in a highly regulated situation.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:59 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


I'm 23 and am dating girls around my age who mostly say they're tired of playing games and are looking for something more serious.

That is actually code for "I suck at dating". People who say that up front, you should smile and back away slowly.
posted by fshgrl at 8:07 PM on March 16 [10 favorites]


Why are you going on two or three dates with women who clearly aren't interested in you after the first one? Even you can tell. It's wrecking your self-esteem and you're probably internalizing that you deserve to be rejected. Just don't go on second dates with those women. It frees you up for more first dates with new ones, and as the first reply said, it's a numbers game.

"Being sexy" is a really bullshit subjective oppressive media-created designation that women who are not built like supermodels have been struggling with for many years. I'm sorry you're facing it as a dude, but it doesn't make you unusual or special. Get over what you imagine your problems are by not treating them like problems. Don't bother trying to please everyone by changing things about yourself that you don't want to. You only have to find one woman who wants to pick up what you're putting down. Just one.
posted by juniperesque at 8:11 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]


Disclaimer up front: I am not the girls you have dated. I could be wrong. But when I personally have agreed to go out on one (but especially two!) dates with a guy, and then drift away, it's probably not that he's terribly ugly. He's most likely passable, but he needs to *make a move.* I am not going to do the playful arm thing, sorry. Eventually a girl might, but I am explaining things from the perspective of a significant amount of girls like me out there.

What is most likely happening is that you are okay looking, but not good enough looking to get a pass on personality. I feel like a lot of people get into this ugly/hot dichotomy mentally and most of the time that's not really what's happening, maybe especially for women. Most people are neither, but are average. You're okay, but you can't expect to "coast" on your looks or expect them to be an automatic and forever "yes" switch. You need to back it up and bring the charm, dude. At least, that's how I work, as a woman. Looks become kind of irrelevant with massive amounts of charm anyway, to a certain extent, so you will definitely get returns from improving your charm- which, by the way, can absolutely be improved.

Also, real reasons I personally have given the "not excited" or yawn response:

-dude doesn't ask me about myself
-dude talks about work too much
-dude is too quiet, looks down on small talkers
-dude goes on and on about something specific I don't care about or already know about ("mansplaining")
-dude doesn't look into my eyes and really see me
-dude is obviously nervous and uncomfortable
-basically it all boils down to "dude thinks way too much about himself, not enough about me."

23 is really young. You have time to fix this.
posted by quincunx at 8:18 PM on March 16 [52 favorites]


I could be way off base, but it sounds like you are doing a lot of sitting around and talking on these dates. Maybe you want to mix it up and alternate active dates with more sedentary dinners? I'm not saying you have to be jumping out of airplanes or something, but show your next date multiple sides to your personality by actively doing something. If each date is the same thing, then it is not hard to imagine (true or not) other ways you are one-dimensional. Good luck!
posted by 99percentfake at 8:19 PM on March 16 [1 favorite]


You're getting lots of good advice - I could "+" almost everyone who's commented before me.

There is nothing inherently wrong with thinning hair, being very skinny, or probably anything else about you. I have a very skinny male friend with thinning hair who is 32-ish and just got engaged. He never really dated either - I think his fiance is, in fact, his first/only girlfriend. But she's the right ONE for him, and that's all you need. You just need to be YOU and snag ONE person. There's a lot of rejection involved in dating.

My husband's hair is so thin I shave his head for him every other week. He is not muscley or dangerous, and when we met he was SUPER scrawny. I thought (and still think!) he's hot. I will also say that I've developed attraction/crushes on guys I initially thought were "weird looking" due to their personality, and have a deep seated gut-level dislike of some very good-looking guys who were grade-A pieces of sh*t.

I vote for immersing yourself in work/school/hobbies and meeting people that way and letting something develop at it's own pace. Patience. Nice, nerdy (?), genuine girls are never going to describe themselves as "tired of playing games" because we never played to begin with. We're just out there being normal reasonable people and going about our business - work, school, etc. Anyone cute and quiet you're maybe overlooking? (Story of my LIFE.)
posted by jrobin276 at 8:20 PM on March 16 [8 favorites]


but step 1 to being physically sexy as a man is having muscle mass (step 2 is having a low body fat percentage).

Well, for some people. I'm short and pudgy and muscle mass? Hah. Yet somehow my boyfriend can't keep his hands off me. Sexy is in the eye of the beholder.

There are as many different body types in the world as there are desires for them. Some women liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike skinny guys. I can think of two girls I know who swoon over men who'd make a coatrack look chubby. So, I dunno, you have two choices: accept your body shape for what it is and be confident about it (confidence is sexy!), or join a gym and put on some bulk. Protip: gym habits will fall down. Age will encroach. Confidence, however, lasts.

As for your thinning hair? Embrace it and just shave it off. Lots and lots and lots and lots of women find bald men extremely sexy. Anyone remember alt.sex.sexybaldcaptains or whatever it was called? Often, a bald dude is catnip.

The bottom line is, you're young and while you may actually seriously want a Thing, most of the girls your age are dealing with pretty conflicting social messaging about expectations, have almost certainly dated at least one total jerk, and are wary. Which is fair. But "I'm sick of game playing," as mentioned above, is absolutely "I am the biggest game player ever. Welcome to the Thunderdome." In my experience anyway.

And at the end of the day, dating really is a shotgun thing. You're going to kiss a lot of frogs. It takes time.

I guarantee you that out there is a lovely lady who adores skinny men with big hearts and big brains. You'll find each other. Just takes time, that's all.

The best advice I've ever heard about dating (quite possibly around these parts) is this: forget about dating. Make yourself someone that people want to date. Work on conversation skills, active listening, and asking open-ended questions about things other people like, and then digging in for more detail. E.g. "You mentioned the other day you were reading X. What did you think of it?" Work on being a decent guy to be around.

And most importantly: make friends with girls! As in actual platonic not-trying-to-get-all-up-in-your-business friends. You know why? That girl you're friends with? She has this really awesome friend who would totally dig you, so why don't you give her a call sometime?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:27 PM on March 16 [9 favorites]


Yeah what you describe here is pretty much the textbook definition of "dating." It goes shitty about 1,000 times more often than it goes well. I don't think you have anything to fix, to make yourself "exciting to girls." This is because girls do not all like the same thing, because we are all individual people who like whatever weird shit we like.

And by the way, women get a fuckload of flack for daring to express our weird preferences--we're supposed to just be so damned grateful for the attention, apparently, and anything less is "shallow."* So no, we won't tell the truth about why we're not dating you, and being pressed will feel like a lose-lose proposition for us. So uh, a lady might say something blunt and mean because you have refused to accept anything else, and what has she got to lose? Moral: don't ask people that question anymore. It's not nice and it's more than a little manipulative.

Don't try to be exciting to girls. Be exciting to yourself and see who tunes in. Stop trying to drum up attraction and instead try to see who is naturally drawn to you, and who you're naturally drawn to.


*Not an attitude you seem to have, but, an attitude that many men, and much of society, does exhibit

PS: Honestly? A lot of girls at 23 ARE NOT AT ALL looking for something serious, they're just conditioned to say so because otherwise people will call them sluts. They don't know WHAT they're looking for, because dude, they have been adults for five minutes and I dunno if you noticed, but adulthood is hard and confusing and ps, it actually doesn't even kick in for like 3 more years. Hoo boy, 26 is a doozy.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:29 PM on March 16 [24 favorites]


I'm older than you, and I'd unscientifically assert that two thirds of the men I know are on the balding-to-thinning spectrum, maybe twenty percent are kind of holding on, and whatever small percent remains have John Kerry hair, all luxurious and bouffant-ready. And as far as I can (still unscientifically) tell, it makes not one bit of difference in terms of attraction. Ditto scrawny versus pot bellies.

In other words, she either told you things that were true but specific to her (just like one person might like blondes and another brunettes), or was her simply not feeling it and grasping for something specific to say when pressed. Either way, don't worry about it and keep dating.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:36 PM on March 16


Oh wait hold on.

You can basically ignore most of what I said and just insert what I said the last time you asked about dating.

You also asked about weightlifting. How's that going?

I'm, forgive me if this seems rude, getting the feeling between your last dating question and this one that:

1) You don't actually have a firm grasp on what you are really looking for in a partner, and what you want is A Girlfriend! not "Hey wow you are such an awesome person, wanna go ride bikes?"

2) Given the very similar ground these two questions are treading, it feels like there's an answer you want to hear, and I'm not sure what it is.

tldr focus on making yourself awesome. If you build it, they will come, etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:42 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry that the world is cruel but...well, if you want something amazing, you're going to have to work for it. If women don't find you sexy, you're going to HAVE to work on building that sex appeal, that charm - saying "I don't want to change for anyone" isn't helping anyone...

I'm sorry.

read this.

I know this is a Cracked article, but it helped me a lot in understanding many things in life. I re-read it often when I feel 'woe is me'.

You're a guy with thinning hair and you're skinny. Okay, no big deal. The big deal is your attitude of not wanting to change for something good to come in your life. Get a decent body. Learn a new instrument. Become a good dancer. Gain real sex appeal and confidence, and you won't have to worry about pleasing shallow ladies - real, sexy, wonderful women will be drawn to you.
posted by rhythm_queen at 9:45 PM on March 16 [4 favorites]


Mom used to say, "Before you meet Prince Charming, you have to kiss a lot of frogs." Works both ways, I think. I mean, you like some of them better than others, too, right?

If I'm going to find something sexy in a man in a short period of acquaintance, it usually comes from confidence in his posture and physical bearing. One of the best ways to achieve that is through dance lessons – ballroom, tango, salsa, what have you. It will do amazing things for your posture, your upper body carriage, your eye contact, and just your sheer physical presence in a room.

You know who else was a skinny guy with thin hair? Fred F***ing Astaire.

My tango instructor was a short, skinny, most definitely gay guy with kind of fishy lips. But the minute he got up into posture to demonstrate a step, there were definite vapors happening.

So, even if you never get out onto the dance floor with a girl, you’ll probably still see the benefits. And class is a great place to meet people in the first place; a good instructor will make sure everybody rotates and gets to practice with everybody there.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:50 PM on March 16


Hi, I'm queer and date people all over the gender spectrum. There's this thing that's acknowledged in queer dating/attraction where you're not quite sure if you wanna fuck someone or wanna be their friend, if you wanna date them or you wanna be more like them. Sometimes there's someone who looks like they could totally be your longterm boo on paper (or rather, OKC's glowing pages) but they're not and you just had no way of knowing that and you figure it out when you just leave the bar a little tipsy but just kind of awkwardly wave goodbye instead of dryfucking on the street.

I think straights kind of think the only reason you have gotten along for two dates is because you're meant to date (because men and women are never supposed to be friends???) and not just because you have a ton of shit in common on paper and aren't horrible people.

A bunch of girls are going to be not right for you to date. Instead of being all OH GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH MEEEEE be more like "oh hey cool I found a new friend."
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:00 PM on March 16 [12 favorites]


Flip this whole issue. Say you were insanely attractive for the sort of superficial woman who doesn't give a damn about anything but superficial aspects (the type of mainstream American who's completely bought in to the notion that love's about finding the most attractive possible partner to masturbate against).

Say you dove in and experienced a procession of such women. How rewarding would it feel? How long would it be before you'd start trying to erect a bimbo filter so you wouldn't need to waste your time with such women? How many pillow talk conversations (let alone dinners and general life partnering interaction) with such women could you possibly stand?

Well, the good news is you have such a filter. Use it! Be grateful! Stop spending your time with stupid ditzy women. Women like that don't know what love is. They're awful to make love to.

In fact, consider making yourself LESS attractive. Gain weight or stop trimming your nose hair or something. Honestly, who's got time for ditzy people who don't understand love? I actually pity handsome guys. How do they know who's real, who's deep, who's actual chemistry rather than just into their chiseled cheekbones? You'd need to keep saying "no" all the time, and that just feels weird and depressing. Being normal looking allows you to have normal human interactions with everyone, sans turbulence. And the women who, in the course of your day, demonstrate some chemistry might very well turn out to be aces. And you've met them and established that chemistry organically. It's about YOU, not some shiny image.
posted by Quisp Lover at 10:29 PM on March 16


Always been scrawny. 129 at 6'1" in high school scrawny. 43 now and 160 scrawny. Been a long time since I had enough hair so I keep it buzzed down and grow a beard when I feel like it. Had girls turn me down because I'm so scrawny. Still remember one saying she could never date me because I'd make her feel fat.

Yet I've always -- always -- had at least one girl -- usually more than one -- pursuing me. Who knows why? It doesn't matter who you are; someone will think you're the most attractive person ever, someone else will think you're the ugliest, and everyone else is on the spectrum in between. Your job is to recognize that attraction in them and in yourself, so that you spend your time and attention on mutually attracted potential partners.

By the way, since you can't judge that online, show off your skinniness online. Be honest about your weight and height. Get good pictures of you in clothes carrying the platonic girl friend stamp of approval, from your own wardrobe, and don't limit your wardrobe to things that "hide" your frame. Show your hair, too. Let the girls who will weed you out for those things do it before they meet you.
posted by davejay at 12:34 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


(I like Davejay's answer better than mine)


Don't worry so much about your looks. Women (and people!) say a lot of things about what they want. But they don't really know what they want. People eventually find themselves surprised to be attracted to someone who is supposedly "totally not my type." A woman, for example, may say, "I like tall men," but she might mean, "I like to feel protected" which is something a tall man might help with - but also a confident man, or a thoughtful man, or a man who wakes up early... "I could never date you," actually means "for a surprising moment, I considered dating you."

Anyway I don't think looks is your particular problem.

BUT this idea of just wanting someone to like you for who you are is an interesting one. Because
who you are right now might be someone who is looking to women to bring value to your life, rather than putting it there yourself.
As the great Harvey Danger once said, "if you're bored, then your boring."

Best advice I've heard is to have things that you are excited about out in the world. Could be a sport, beekeeping, learning a language, whatever. To be passionate and even expert in something gives you confidence and a life.
Confidence just means you don't need to rely on someone else to give your life meaning. You give meaning to your own life.

So if you go to the gym a little more - go for you. Don't get hung up on how that will appear to women. Get hung up on how awesome it is that you can do another pull-up, that you can lift 5 more pounds, that you can run 2 miles without stopping. Get outside more not because you want to impress women, but because you are learning to love the sun on your skin, to notice the many different ways a morning can feel, to remember that the world is so much bigger than us. Volunteer somewhere not because you want a woman to notice you, but because you care about something outside of yourself, because, as Helen Keller said, "I am only one, but I am still one. I can't do everything, but I can do something."

And with these things you become a bigger, better, more attractive person.
posted by jander03 at 12:43 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


Go for the full head shave - it's a great look
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:08 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Chemistry's a b*"'%, man. As others have said, the physical stuff isn't that important... it's what people use to explain to themselves why a particular person isn't doing it for them, but if you had the right chemistry with that person, looks would be nearly irrelevant.

Date a wider variety of people outside of your usual type. Go uglier, fatter, taller, geekier, outside of your standard regional cultural/ socioeconomic range. If (like most of us) you tend to always be interested in the same type but always have negative experiences with that type, switching things up might change things.

If you want to avoid as many third dates that go nowhere, start picking people up in person. If you prefer online dating to the angst of that, I get it and that's fine, but you'll end up spending more time on each person before figuring out whether they're interested. Not a bad thing either if you're interested in friends!

And seconding the idea of going on more active dates. If you're mostly doing tradition sit around and talk dates, start trying more physical or social things.
posted by metasarah at 3:42 AM on March 17


I feel like you're approaching this like an engineer or something. It's not an engineering problem, really, it's more 'be in the right place at the right time' and 'be receptive'.

I really don't think this is all that gameable. I think people think they gamed it in retrospect and believe they got their girlfriend or boyfriend because they worked for and got a perfectly flat stomach or learned to order with proper pronunciation off a French menu when in fact it's because they lightened up a little and started hanging out at the dog park with their dog on Saturdays.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:54 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


but step 1 to being physically sexy as a man is having muscle mass (step 2 is having a low body fat percentage).


Also, people keep harping on this and I don't mean to pitch us anymore toward a derail, but this is really and truly simply not true, and if we all stuck to principles like these only Ken and Barbie would have partners and the species would slowly become extinct.

I am a middle-aged woman, and I have literally never heard a female (or male, for that matter) friend say anything remotely like this about the men they do or do not find attractive in my entire life and I have never experienced it myself.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:00 AM on March 17 [11 favorites]


Don't date early 20s girls who say they're done playing games. They're not, even though they might think they are, and they're not looking for a guy like you, even if they might think they are.

Don't go on second dates or more with women who aren't attracted to you.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:18 AM on March 17


But I don't want to change who I am, I want to find a girl who likes me for me.

Hell yes you do!

I'm into the chubby guys myself - and "dangerous" / "challenging" in dating-speak has in my experience too often translated to "obnoxious". Don't fret about your build or your personality. So they didn't appeal to one girl? Forget her.

You are your greatest asset. Invest in yourself. I don't just mean keep yourself fit and healthy - invest in your mind. If you cultivate other interests or develop your skills, that will give you confidence; and true confidence (not arrogance) is attractive to everyone. And even if it doesn't get you a date, you'll feel better as you venture out into social circles because you'll feel like you have something to bring to the conversational table, if that makes sense.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:10 AM on March 17


Do you have a talent? You might try finding a way to show that off (but not be a show-off) to your dates. Finding out someone is insanely good at something is extremely attractive to me, and to others, I think. I figured this out (don't judge!) watching Clay Aiken on the 2nd season of American Idol.

It doesn't have to be performing either. Woodworking, fixing things, cooking, great with kids, anything really can have the effect.
posted by auntie maim at 6:19 AM on March 17


Don't change who you are for someone else. Change who you are for yourself.

Being 23 is a weird time. You kind of have to decide how much of your life will be based on your post-college habits/friendships/activities (if you went to college) and how much will be yours alone. It can be really hard to break out of those patterns, especially if you're either unaware that you're in this sort of rut or don't see the benefit from doing things in other ways.

What makes YOU happy? What makes YOU feel good? What makes YOU feel confident about yourself -- especially in a way that makes it easier for you to say, "Yeah, I'd much rather keep doing what I'm doing on my own than compromise who I am and what I like for some random woman"?

Focus on YOU. The confidence and self knowledge you build will get you much closer to an ideal partner than focusing on what THEY want (that giant, varied, completely unpredictable THEY) any old day.
posted by Madamina at 6:21 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


but step 1 to being physically sexy as a man is having muscle mass

At the risk of starting a movie quote-off, I don't like men with too many muscles.

Seriously, I always wonder who they're trying to impress, and how much time we could be spending together doing fun things that we're going to have to sacrifice while he's at the gym.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:28 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]


You know what? Just keep your eyes peeled.

This isn't college, where you're going to be indiscrminately sleeping with people.

I'm sure you'd like to get laid more, we all would, but a lot of people are just getting pickier. I know when I was younger, my benchmarks were lower. If you were pleasant, and I was in the mood, I'd be willing. As I got older, not so much.

It's nothing about you particularly, it's about you and the lady in question and the chemistry.

So adjust your expectations.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:30 AM on March 17


If you're feeling self-conscious about your hair, think about shaving it off. I started losing my hair at 17, shaved it off at 19 and haven't looked back (36 now). Not only did the comments about my hair stop overnight, women who find bald men sexy started noticing me in a way they hadn't before.

This isn't a cure all for the other stuff you're processing. And I agree with others that you should stay true to yourself and focus on what you enjoy most. This is just a suggestion about how to deal with one area that's making you feel self-conscious.

NB: if you decide to shave, it will initially freak you out and you might nit be able to look at yourself in the mirror. That will pass.
posted by dry white toast at 6:46 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Agreed with those who say, "tire of playing games" is not what you're looking for. Look for women who NEVER MENTION PLAYING GAMES because they didn't do that shit in the first place (or at least have enough distance from their game-playing days to realize what they sound like when they say that). Also think about dating older women, if they're interested in you.
posted by mskyle at 6:50 AM on March 17


Basically you have to decide if you're on your own side. You will never, ever please everybody. That's impossible. You've said that you've got a good face and you take care of yourself and you're not into shallow and those are all good things. There's someone out there who will think that's good too, if you're open to the possibility.
posted by h00py at 6:53 AM on March 17


Normally I stay out of these posts but this sentence struck me and apparently some of the other posters who have asked if you are being flirty with them.

The date will go on and she'll never give me that playful touch on the arm. When it's over, she'll go in for the hug instead of the kiss.

The way you write this may not be totally accurate, but it lacks a sense of agency and willingness to take the risk of making the first move yourself. Maybe that's not accurate, but that's the way it's written. If you "look good on paper" to paraphrase, I expect it may be somewhat close to the truth. Are you willing to take the risk of being the person who initiates? Are you trying to be the nice guy who doesn't push anything? (I think there are plenty of potential partners who would be flattered to be asked for a kiss, instead of doing the awkward dance or the grab-and-accept.)

Also what other said about 23 being young still, and not feeling too beat up over these experiences. (I like skinny guys, too, but I'm out of your age range and geography.)
posted by whatzit at 6:57 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I've got a good face and I take care of myself even if I'm not a muscle bound jock. And I'm not going after obviously shallow girls just after sex or anything.

But I don't want to change who I am, I want to find a girl who likes me for me.
I'll be kind of blunt here, because I had something like this attitude until I was around your age and I'm really glad I got rid of it. Ask yourself this: are you looking for dates with complete disregard for physical attraction, or do you want to date someone who turns you on? If the latter, then expect that your dates will feel the same.

Working to improve your physical self is not some kind of disingenuous act of selling out; that's an excuse you tell yourself making so that you don't have to do something difficult. Self-improvement is a virtue, as is physical fitness. Getting in better shape will make women more attracted to you, will increase your confidence, and will not make you into whatever stereotype of a "muscle bound jock" you're carrying in your head. That's some high school baggage it's time to let go of.

You can resign yourself to searching for a girl who will "like you for you," or you can decide to take charge and work on making yourself more attractive.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:59 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


It's asking a lot of women in their early twenties to ask that they never say idiotic things like this or that about playing games.

People in their early twenties say and do stupid things all the time. (People sometimes become a little smarter with time.)

If it's a theme, that's disturbing, but on the first few dates I'd expect some random nonsense motivated by social pressure and awkward silence.

How interested are you acting? Where's your playful touch on the arm?

And are you interested? Or are you just hoping if you log enough dating hours some woman will force a romantic relationship on you?

You don't have to be overwhelmingly attracted to her. She doesn't have to be ga-ga for you. Meet people. Have fun. Eventually, if you act naturally, you and someone will click.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:00 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


"Sorry, but for your age you have thinning hair. And you're pretty skinny. And you're not really exciting me. That's really it, sorry."

Somebody really said that? Sorry, I don't believe it. I think you said that.


Eh, I can imagine that being said. You're on date two or three, you're not all that into the guy, maybe you don't even have specific reasons, but when you gently try to elide the question he presses you into a corner (verbally) and asks you to give it to him straight.

Even if I didn't have a particularly nuanced reason for not really wanting to go out with you again, I can imagine saying something because I feel obligated to be responsive to your request.

Don't ask things you don't want to hear the answer to. And if you must ask for this, don't ask in person - send a polite email asking for feedback (much the same as you would after not getting a job you'd interviewed for) and give her time to think about it and also the option not to respond.
posted by arnicae at 7:10 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


and then she'll start to yawn.

My first thought was that you're talking too much about yourself. Even if you don't think this to be true, try this on your next date: cut the amount you talk in half. Or more. Many guys talk waaaay more than they think they do and it gets really fucking boring. Many guys also don't know how to pay attention to cues that they've lost the other person's interest. Keep the focus on her.

Your hairline and your weight are red herrings. Many women won't care, and some women will be actively attracted to you because of those things. All women will be attracted to confidence, so work on not being self-conscious.
posted by desjardins at 7:46 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


Work, as well, on the attitude that "I'm doing x and z, but she isn't giving me y!" (where y = the arm touch, the not-yawning, the sex.) It isn't a video game. There's no cheat code. You go out and have a good time with someone, period. That's a date. Going out and having a good time with a human person.

You seem so focused on what YOU are doing that you have kind of ignored the other person who's right there with you. If you were actually genuinely tuned in to the conversation, you wouldn't be surprised that she's yawning, because you'd be conscious that it's late. Or that she had an early shift this morning. Or that she's not much of a night owl. Or that the conversation isn't *actually* flowing. If it's taking you by surprise, well, then you're performing, not interacting.

Do you have lady friends? Just regular friends? Think about how THOSE interactions go. Your dating interactions shouldn't really be that much different, especially on dates 1 and 2.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:33 AM on March 17 [6 favorites]


I am a middle-aged woman, and I have literally never heard a female (or male, for that matter) friend say anything remotely like this about the men they do or do not find attractive in my entire life and I have never experienced it myself.

I mean, I don't usually say it, but it's true. All the guys I've dated save one have either been able to lift a truck or wrestle a bear. Some of them have been skinny and wiry (good type) and some have been Vikings, and some have been muscled with fat over the muscles (also good type) but yes, muscles are often a turn on as long as they're not too obvious. Strength is sexy. OP, if you started weightlifting, keep with it! It does help, and also helps your confidence, which is another real thing.

Thinning hair is in fact a no - go in a way that just shaving the damn thing is not. Shave it and own it. When you are just kind of embarrassed about it, it's a turn off. Confidence is sexy!

The other thing to keep in mind: you say "conversation is flowing and jokes are hitting", but what do you mean by that? At least in my culture/generation, it's considered a skill to keep the conversation going whether or not you actually like or are interested in the other person. It's polite to laugh at their jokes.

Look for evidence of attraction before you go out, and I think you'll be in a better place, too. Online dating may just not be for you.
posted by corb at 8:51 AM on March 17


Reasons I don't go out on a second or third date with a guy:

1) He talks about himself a lot and doesn't ask me questions about myself. When I talk about myself, he doesn't smile, make eye contact, or ask follow up questions that show he's interested. I get the feeling that he did not ask me out because he likes my taste in music or my eyes. He asked me out just because I'm a woman. Any woman at all would do.

2) He is not trying to get to know me and see what I am like as a person. He is trying to impress me. He is trying not to blow it.

3) We are not having fun together. We are not laughing together. When I show delight in something that happens - a yummy desert or a random street performance - he does not take pleasure in my delight.

4) He is ready to be my boyfriend and I don't even know his last name.

5) None of the above apply, but I'm not attracted to him.

Go on lots of dates with lots of different types of women. Don't get too invested in anyone until you've gotten to know them, but work on being a good, engaging and fun date. OR take a break from dating and use that time for something you enjoy. Volunteer. Take kazoo lessons. Learn Spanish. Go hiking.
posted by bunderful at 9:02 AM on March 17 [5 favorites]


If you're getting past the first date your looks are not the issue, although sure, becoming more attractive (e.g. weightlifting, better hair/clothes or whatever) always helps if someone's on the fence about you.

Whenever I've gone on 2-3 dates and stopped, the reason is that nothing is horribly wrong but there's no connection. In other words, our personalities don't seem compatible. This can be for many reasons - he is boring i.e. doesn't have any real hobbies/passions (or any that appeal to me), he can't carry on a conversation, he doesn't seem interested in me as a person (as opposed to a generic female being), I don't like his attitude about some things, he seems very shy/awkward, there's just no verbal/physical chemistry, etc etc. So there are some things you can probably work on, and other things that are just a compatibility thing.

Also, this is very telling: The date will go on and she'll never give me that playful touch on the arm. When it's over, she'll go in for the hug instead of the kiss.

If you're waiting for the girl to be making the first move without doing anything yourself, you're going to be waiting a very long time, particularly if you're not a male model. In general women are socialized to let the guy make the first move, plus we tend to know from experience that guys will almost always make a move if they're interested, so if he hasn't, he's usually either extremely shy or not all that into us. Some women will make a move anyway (which is great!) but it's a bad idea to wait around for it.

I was also unaware that I'm apparently supposed to be giving guys a "playful arm touch", which just seems fake to me. Don't expect people to be following some kind of script, because many of us were apparently not given a copy or prefer to write our own.
posted by randomnity at 9:16 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Just a note: I like skinny. I like really skinny. I *really* like really skinny. I am not the only one. So just keep that up until you're in your thirties, and people like me will be crawling out of the walls staring longingly at you, because that gets increasingly hard to find.

I met my ex when we were 26. He was also (this may not come as a shock) quite skinny. He had a fairly big nose and a quiet, brainy personality and he thought he was terribly unattractive. He had had one serious relationship before me, a pretty abusive one, in which he stuck around because he thought no one else would want him. Then he started hanging out with the right people for him. Women in social circles which overlapped with ours started expressing obvious appreciation and interest. It took him a while to realize that he was in fact catnip, but he eventually came to accept it. He hasn't started seriously dating again since we split, but he will have no problem at all doing so when he's ready. But this is not just because he's pretty (though he is). It's because he's awesome. He's still a tall skinny guy with a big nose and a quiet, brainy personality. Surprise! That was fantastic all along! You just have to meet the right people.

I also used to think I was incredibly ugly and long for someone to want me so I could feel okay about myself. But, like my ex, I just needed time and the right social environment to realize I wasn't unattractive at all. Being a tall skinny small-breasted nerdy goth chick is working brilliantly for me now. I'm having obscenely good luck with my okcupid dating. I absolutely wouldn't have when I was 23, though I looked almost exactly the same. (Really. I still own a lot of the same clothes and have purple hair. I guess I have more tattoos now.)

I think a lot of it is about shedding the angst and insecurity of your teenage years and growing into yourself. And learning what you need to change about yourself for yourself and doing that, and realizing what an awful idea it is to sublimate parts of who you are just so you'll have someone anyone. That gets you nowhere. Certainly nowhere good.

(Final note: I am usually a full-head-of-hair girl. But I am desperately excited for Friday, when I have a second date with a fellow I first met up with last week. Who is both bald and *insanely* sexy. He was awesome and funny and we had great chemistry. Go for that. Hair is secondary.

But seriously, keep the skinny.)
posted by Because at 9:31 AM on March 17 [4 favorites]


And by the way, I have a big crush on a particular skinny guy with thinning hair. I'd love to go out with him. Because he's kind and smart and funny and doing really cool things with his life.
posted by bunderful at 9:44 AM on March 17


Ask yourself this: are you looking for dates with complete disregard for physical attraction, or do you want to date someone who turns you on? If the latter, then expect that your dates will feel the same.

This is something I hadn't considered, because I just naturally assumed that you were doing unto others the same thing you want done unto you: you're dating girls you like just for themselves, right?

I was also unaware that I'm apparently supposed to be giving guys a "playful arm touch", which just seems fake to me. Don't expect people to be following some kind of script, because many of us were apparently not given a copy or prefer to write our own.

You and me both, sister. I must have missed that day in health class, and Mr. Annable didn't gave me the handout. And he's dead now, so I'll never get it! Do men lack the "playful touch on the arm" muscle?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:38 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]


I endorse what 517 said above, about working out to build muscle mass and, to an extent, "leading." Building muscle will probably automatically improve your confidence, which is like doubling your investment in sexiness.

The only thing 517 says with which I disagree is this:

Don't expect any results for 1 year after working out 3 to 4 days each week.

Your results will depend on your own physiology, of course, but a 23 year old thin guy with healthy levels of testosterone might be surprised with the results after just a few weeks of regular push-ups, pull-ups, and moderate weight-lifting. I know I was.
posted by General Tonic at 1:20 PM on March 17


NB: if you decide to shave, it will initially freak you out and you might nit be able to look at yourself in the mirror. That will pass.

Throwing this story out as an adjunct to the above comment: I delayed shaving my head for a long time because my hair stylist insisted it wasn't thin enough yet. When she went off to another career I decided to trust my long-neglected instinct and shave it off. It helped that a friend had recently done it, and looked great.

My own reaction: hey, actually that looks pretty good. The reaction of every straight guy I knew: you look like you [insert crude reference to surviving a German prison camp in WWII, and/or comments about my ears sticking out]. The reaction of every straight girl and gay guy I knew: you look great and your head is a great shape for being shaved. Also a lot of head-touching.

It actually took me about six months to shake off the negative comments, despite my own feelings and those of people who might actually find me attractive in a sexual sense. If you experience it, you'll get over it. Hang in there.

Plus: so much more time in the mornings when you don't have to prep your hair!
posted by davejay at 1:36 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Like a few other posters, I think you could benefit from working on your charm. Chemistry is ephemeral and sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. That said, when I think about the guys who've given me that pleasant, exciting gut-twinge, they had a few behaviours in common that I suspect aren't particular to just me. These were often guys of average physical attractiveness or worse, for what it's worth.

1. They weren't shy about eye contact. Most people are worse at this than they think.

2. They were snappy dressers, for whatever definition of "snappy" made sense for their milieu.

3. They listened carefully to the things I said to them, and dropped indications into conversation that they'd remembered what I talked about last time. The smaller the detail, the more of an impact it made when they remembered it -- going beyond the obvious "how's [your job/school/major life event/travel/project] going?" to remembering the titles of books I'd mentioned, a restaurant I'd been to, the name of a friend, etc.

One guy who was an especially skilled charmer managed to drop hints that he understood me on a deeper level than my other casual friends, and could see beyond a stereotypical set of outward characteristics to my particular wonderful specialness. "I bet what most people probably don't understand about you is..." When done well it was like a drug.

The common impulse is to try to make yourself understood, somehow make her see how special you are. This is why guys are so eager to recommend their favourite books, make mixtapes, etc. But recognize that she wants to feel understood too. It's a rare thing, few people make a genuine effort, and when it happens it's exciting.

4. They were comfortable making decisions (without being domineering). Some guys will try to leave all decisions about the activities to the woman, thinking it shows them to be open and flexible. But it's really just pushing the responsibility (and, by extension, the risk) onto the other person. Saying "how about we..." and then waiting for feedback is usually better than "what do you want to do?"

5. In a similar vein, they weren't afraid to show me they were interested and do the playful arm-touch (or back-touch) themselves.

6. They gave off the impression of being well-read and worldly, about more than just their pet interests, without having anything to prove.

7. They weren't afraid of pauses in conversation. Sometimes they'd pause to find the right words, or let me do the same, without leaping to fill in the space.

Of course, she might not be into you for some reason that's totally out of your control, and then none of these things will help. But if you're getting "the chemistry's not there" feedback, there are plenty of things you can do to raise your average chemistry level with people.
posted by beatrice rex at 3:41 PM on March 17 [13 favorites]


Most important thing is to keep trying. Dating sucks, and you have to kiss a bunch of frogs to find your princess. Sorry.

Nthing shaving the head. Once you go bald you'll never go back. Well, sometimes I get lazy and then I look like a homeless person for a while. But bald works for most guys pretty good.

Asking a woman you'd been on a few dates with "what's wrong with me, give it to me straight" suggests some pretty serious insecurity. Alas, visible insecurity is unattractive. I wonder if you are radiating a lonely "would you be my friend/girlfriend?" vibe.

I don't know you but I'd be willing to bet if you are unattractive it is not physical. You can change your demeanor and insecurity a little easier than growing new hair. (Not a lot easier, unfortunately.)

> It fucking tore me apart

You're going to have to get a thicker skin with girls you've just started dating. I can understand this stinging, but this is one girl you barely knew, she sounds like someone you didn't want anyway, and you'll probably never speak to her again. Some girls will like you and some won't. Don't focus on your disappointments and humiliations.

My second advice (after keep trying) would be to experiment with taking dating less seriously. Sounds like you get plenty of dates. Don't follow up for a second date every time. Don't follow the same script for every first date. Try initiating more physical contact during the date--be less passive there. Try bailing on a date part way through if it's not going well. Be decent to your date, of course--don't tell her she has big hair, is fat and scares you--but otherwise, don't be timid and try some different stuff.
posted by mattu at 3:51 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Dating really is a numbers game, as everyone has already mentioned, so I can't really offer any new advice on that, but as it pertains to hair thinning:

Have you ever considered doing a full shave (bald), but leaving well-groomed facial hair? This is a really common 'look' in the PacNW. Most of my male friends with thinning hair go this route and all of my female friends are fans of it. YMMV.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:21 PM on March 17


I've always kind of liked skinny dudes, for what it's worth. Lots of women do. I think you've gotten a lot of great advice above. I've been into lots of dudes who aren't conventionally attractive, and the three big factors have been:

He has a cool job or hobby, or expert knowledge about something obscure and interesting. Average looking guy, but he knows about blacksmithing or rare books or carpentry and can explain this interest in a way that's not condescending? Awesome.

He is interested in women's perspectives and art made by women; I still remember the swoon that ran around the room when one of my male friends said he'd read the entire Little House on the Prairie series.

He is actually interested in what I'm saying, instead of treating me like a captive audience for big speeches. And he shows that by asking followup questions and more or less remembers those details the next time I see him.

The good news is that you can learn to do all of that, and it will make you a better-rounded and more interesting person in general. 23 is pretty young and attraction is terribly unfair, but having interests and being an attentive listener will help.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 4:57 PM on March 17 [2 favorites]


My personal opinion is that some women will use `thinning hair`or `skinny`or `short` to describe men in a hurtful way - just as some men will use the term `fat`to hurt women. It is disgusting and ridiculous but you should not take these cruel words personally. These descriptions are just as relevant as `dark hair`or `green eyes`in terms of determining attractiveness. Everyone has their own preferences and you will be surprised how many are not attracted to what is considered sexy according to the overpriced magazine full of ads on the grocery newsstand.

The only advice I can give is that, as a conventionally attractive female with a preference for men who are not considered conventionally attractive, I found the `plain`men I liked had expectations just as demanding as the super rich and popular men I dated. They would not take seriously perfectly nice ladies that even the popular guys would consider! I did learn a few useful things that might help you though:

- you should approach people you are naturally drawn to without preconceived notions and expectations for what is required to be attractive. For example, I have a strong preference for men who are extremely short yet seldom find that in real life and that is ok because people can be sexy in secondary and tertiary ways... And when you get to know them they become sexy in a primary way due to their personality

- if you are not getting a positive response from a woman you have gone out with on the first date there is no sense going on additional dates. Usually if someone is attracted to you it is obvious from the start unless they have personal issues - and if they do it is up to you if you are comfortable dating someone like that. Unfortunately some people will continue to date you if they think you are a nice girl or boy despite not having that spark because... It is something fun to do, or there is a free meal involved, or they are decent people on the rebound, or you distract them from some emptiness inside.... All bad reasons to continue seeing them. Of course these situations can work out but it is up to you if the gamble is worth it.
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 6:48 PM on March 17


Say you were insanely attractive for the sort of superficial woman who doesn't give a damn about anything but superficial aspects (the type of mainstream American who's completely bought in to the notion that love's about finding the most attractive possible partner to masturbate against).

Not to call out the person who said this, but please, read about Nice Guy syndrome if you are wondering whether you aren't being 'edgy' enough. It's very common for young men who feel they are struggling with dating to end up becoming rather bitter, and it doesn't help anyone.
posted by mippy at 9:22 AM on March 18


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