How do I get back into the dating world?
June 24, 2009 1:20 PM   Subscribe

How do I get back into the dating world?

For the past couple of years, I lived with my parents and thus, I did not date very much. There were a few "encounters," and a couple of missed opportunities, but nothing other than that. It has been two years since I've had sex, and it seems to be seriously ruining my game. I'm not the most fit or attractive person in the world, but I'm tall, quite funny, and generally sharp. I've never had an abundance of success with women, but I'm pretty sure there is no good reason that I should not be at least casually dating someone. Or a few people!

Is there any way to re-teach myself how to date without actually DATING? Because right now, the words do not come to me while trying to communicate with a nubile female. Do I just have to wait for sex to randomly find me in order to get my game back? haha...

I tried the book intimate connections at the suggestion of a mefi'er, and it has helped some.

thanks for your responses.
posted by plungerjoke to Human Relations (34 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

Have you considered an online dating site?
posted by owtytrof at 1:29 PM on June 24, 2009

If you're open to internet dating, you could try OkCupid. It can be used to meet new friends, as well as potential dates.

Confidence is always attractive. You say you aren't "the most fit," so maybe you could try exercising regularly, both to improve your appearance and your confidence. Maybe that would help you feel more comfortable approaching people. This is of course assuming you don't already exercise.
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2009

Work on being self confident. It will help you more than any other single thing. You say you aren't confident at all? Fake it. Even fake confidence pays off. it works far more than being demure, coy or apologetic. If you fake it long enough you will end up confident, honest.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've tried OKcupid with limited success. Also it seems like quite a few of the women on there are a bit shady/too baggage heavy (having current bfs, super codependent, being generally less than honest). I also feel like I am relatively confident and sure of myself with the exception of when I'm in the dating world. The idea of it being a "date" sort of puts me into a frame of mind that isn't conducive to showing another human being that I am a person worth knowing (and dating).

I never said that I'm not confident at all, but maybe your thinking I did is indicative of a core problem. Thanks for the input so far. Very helpful.
posted by plungerjoke at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2009

Not all MeFites will agree, but consider checking out the Seduction community online. In general, it's about the mental game and building personal confidence, so that you can more easily communicate and connect with women.
posted by bprater at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2009

I'm planning on giving online dating through OKcupid one more shot, and if it doesn't work out (at some level) after that, it probably isn't for me.
posted by plungerjoke at 1:40 PM on June 24, 2009

@bprater. I've looked into the "seduction community," as you described them. While I don't doubt the methods efficacy, I would rather exhaust other options before resorting to it. I know I've been able to attract people who I actually was interested in dating in the past, and there is something in me that just isn't "clicking" now.
posted by plungerjoke at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2009

Don't go out on traditional dates. Meet a gal at a coffeeshop for a cup or tea or coffee. If you do, you won't feel like you have to hang around for the next 3 hours if things aren't vibing. That change in perspective may be all you need to relax into being yourself.

And maybe you shouldn't think of it as "dating", but seeing the experience as finding out if you can add a new friend to your life.
posted by bprater at 1:42 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I'd actually recommend paid dating sites ( is OK), because the people on there tend to be more serious about dating- think OKCupid : Match :: Yahoo Answers : AskMeFi.
posted by emilyd22222 at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

it seems like quite a few of the women on there are a bit shady/too baggage heavy

This is true of all people, not just women and not just women on OKCupid.

Other than that, seconding bprater on going to the coffeeshop instead of a proper, traditional dinner-and-movie sort of thing. It's fun, it's relaxing, and it has less social baggage.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:25 PM on June 24, 2009

I found speed dating to be helpful to allowing me to get (back) into dating after the end of my marriage. It was a great way for me to get comfortable with some of the dynamics of interacting on a date without the pressure of a real date. If you find someone you click with then you can move to additional dates with a little momentum.

Of course I don't know if speed dating is still a big thing anymore or if that was a fad that burned out a while ago, since I haven't been to, or looked into, speed dating in 6 years. The last event I attended was where I met the woman I later married.

Good luck.
posted by cptspalding at 2:35 PM on June 24, 2009

Is there any way to re-teach myself how to date without actually DATING?

I'm sorry but no. Just as there is no way to lose weight without exercising. To continue the probably ill-advised analogy: Go slowly or you'll hurt yourself, and set but firm realistic goals focused on doing a little bit as often as possible to ease your way back into it. Also, it's really only as hard as you make it--figure out how to enjoy it, and it is no longer work.

posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:46 PM on June 24, 2009

(An aside: "Just as there is no way to lose weight without exercising." This is not true. I do believe it to be true of dating though.)
posted by crickets at 2:48 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

My advice: DON'T use OKcupid for dating. Instead, just use it to meet people to do fun things with. Meet people to have a drink with or play board games with. Meet people to wander around town and take photos with - or whatever your interests are. OKcupid can be great for that - and since meeting that way isn't as weird or stressful as meeting for a "date", you're both more likely to feel comfortable... and that can lead to dating.

Best of luck!
posted by 2oh1 at 3:25 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just as there is no way to lose weight without exercising.

Starving works, eventually. It's just not healthy.

But there's no way to lose weight without losing weight, just as there's no way to date without dating.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:27 PM on June 24, 2009

shady/too baggage heavy (having current bfs, super codependent)

Be willing to give people a chance. Everyone has "baggage", it's called living.

Are you still living at home with your parents? I would consider that serious baggage/codependency.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 3:48 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

It sounds like the whole learn to date without dating might have to do with some apprehension because of anxiety.

My advice would be to sort of lay the groundwork for dating. So, if dating and being successful with the ladies is the endgame, there should be something that leads to that. To work up to that, you can 1) push yourself to socialize more 2) become friends with women with whom you're not interested in that way. Learning to say the first thing that pops into your head in a social situation is probably not typical MeFi advice, but whatever, it works. For me, at least.

All of the dressing better, grooming more, losing weight stuff will help-- but the social piece will be more about "doing." When you "do" enough socializing, that distance between "this is a person I know" and "this is a person I don't know, so I'm worried about how they might be" will diminish. Makes it easier to be authentic. . . makes you more attractive. This is an exciting time, have fun with it!
posted by No New Diamonds Please at 4:10 PM on June 24, 2009

BAH, no online dating. I think it's a total confidence-destroyer for men who don't date much, especially the free sites like okcupid. The male/female ratio is like ten trillion to one, so expect to send out a hundred messages for one date.
posted by paultopia at 4:46 PM on June 24, 2009

While online dating sites like OkCupid might feel like a waste of time or a "confidence destroyer," I think it can teach a lot about how to communicate with people.

For example, your message should contain a couple questions. That gives the other person something to respond to. I know, you're hilarious, and while your Seinfeld-esque observation about the girl's picture/love of Digimon might have put her in stitches, but that won't get you much more of a response than "haha yeah lol."

Also, make sure at least some of your questions relate to something in their profile. This shows that you have noticed them as an individual and aren't sending out a witty form letter.

How does this tie in to the real world? You ask people questions and pay attention to what they say to you. It's not that hard and really hard at the same time.

So, is it possible to date without actually dating? Sure. You can meet people for coffee and hope that it isn't a "date," but you'll eventually have to go on an actual "date" if you want to get their clothes off. Otherwise, you run the risk of enduring the gauntlet of "the girl I hang out with who I really like but don't want to ask out because that would be weird," which is a rough translation of "friend zone."

In short: Be bold. Ask questions. Listen. Good things will happen.
posted by Turkey Glue at 4:57 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

So much to cover in just a tiny MeFi space.

First: Perspective. You want to date women who are a "9" or "10"--every man does. This means that (assuming you're American) out of 300,000,000 Americans, 30,000,000 women (that is 20% of women--9s and 10s) are good looking enough for you. Out of those 30M let's say 70% are bitter, happily married, happily involved, not interested in your gender, psycho, or otherwise too much of a pain to deal with leaving you with 30% of 30M who are both gorgeous and looking for someone (you!). This means that 9,000,000 women are available and gorgeous (put a revolving door on that group for incommers and outgoers and you get the idea). Long story made short. Don't practice dating. Just jump in! If you goof it up there are a revolving 8,999,999 women left in the country to date. The numbers are far, far in your favor.

Second: Take care of whatever it is you need to take care of now. Thinking about working out? Work out! Sounds like you're young. You can get in shape faster now than when you're old. Thinking about braces? Get 'em! Acne? Clear it up! Bad breath? Tongue scraper! (or dental work or whatever. Figure it out then do it.). Notice I did not say, "Buy an expensive wardrobe." You don't need money. Also, keep your place clean, always. You don't want to stumble onto a date and rush like mad cleaning your place up trying to impress her. Chances are it won't work. Keep your place clean so you don't have to fake it.

Third: Understand that 90% of communication is non-verbal so just round it up and assume 100% is non-verbal. That means you don't have to worry too much about your looks (unless you look like Marty Feldman). Doubt me? Just remember the supreme examples of funky looking dudes and their hot dates--Billy Joel and Christy Brinkley, Rush Limbaugh and Marla (I forget her last name), or if you prefer, our big eared President and his wife Michelle. Money? Power? No. It helps but it's not necessary. You do need to make yourself look as good as you can with what you've got. That is important. Maybe you have short or doofy looking friends who somehow date very gorgeous women. Why? How? The answer is non-verbal communication. They "communicate" their attractiveness through their posture, their walk, their "presence," the way they talk (not what they say). A guy who is calm cool and collected will get what he wants far sooner than some doofus prone to nervous laughter and hunched shoulders. So to this end remember pretty much in this order what you need to become: cocky/confident, funny (as in 007 half smirk funny, not Pee Wee Herman yuk yuk funny), relaxed, fun, adventurous, mysterious. Women pay far more attention to this non-verbal stuff than guys. Conversely guys are far more "visual" if you get me. It's simply the way we (and they) are wired.

Fourth: Date. Or don't date. The ever stressful "DATE" may be too much prep work, "gaming" etc. to bother with so don't think of it as "dating." Instead meet, chat over Starbucks (or whatever). Hang out. Have fun. No need to get deep on anything yet. Get phone numbers. Lots. I've walked right up to women and the first thing out of my mouth sometimes was, "Lemme get your phone number" and because I carried myself confidently and looked like I knew what the hell I was doing, she gave me her number. . .and those times it didn't work? Oh freakin' well. About 9 million left.

Have your own life. Never be needy. Never be clingy. You don't neeeeed a woman to be happy. Remember, you are totally comfortable in your own skin. You are completely fine with who you are and where you're going. This is the key. Not money, power, being a "nice guy" (a.k.a wimpy welcome mat guy) or anything else you learned from people who don't know any better.

None of this above is about being something you're not. Every man can be confident. Every man wants to be confident. Every man can be funny etc. Find that inside of you and develop it.

And open the door for women. It's cool. It's chivalrous. Just work it into your personality.

Oh yeah. And TEASE women! It worked when you were a kid long before you "learned" it was wrong through religion, wrong headed socialization, and MeFites telling you I'm a jerk. Remeber what it was like teasing girls when you were a kid. These were your raw, unbridled, unsocialized, young cave man genes in action. Remember those times. Unlearn that socialization. Relearn how to get that inner cave man to speak to that inner cave woman and you will take off like a rocket. Teasing is fun. It's playful. It is the work of Simba and Mufassa not Scar (Lion King--great movie! Watch it again!). Tease. Be brave and tease. If they don't like teasing, they're not much fun anyway. And there's about 9 million left.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 5:39 PM on June 24, 2009 [13 favorites]

My advice is that you approach dating like a job. Go on an internet site, set up x number of dates, and go. Only experience is going to make you comfortable, and good dates are something of a numbers game no matter how good you are at it. I also agree you should start improving your self perception by working on your perceived problems. Starting could mean eating less and doing walking around the block every day.
posted by xammerboy at 6:30 PM on June 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you live in an area with a Single Volunteers chapter? After my 10-year marriage broke up, that's how I re-learned to date. You go to an event, do some volunteer work like shovel wood chips at a playground or work a charity auction or something, talk to women who are certified single-and-looking, then exchange numbers afterwards if someone catches your eye. Worst case, you spend the afternoon doing something good. Best case, you meet a nice woman who is interested in volunteering and such. It's really a great deal.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:39 PM on June 24, 2009

@flying squirrel. I do not live with my parents any longer, and I'm not sure it is necessarily indicative of what you said. Many recently graduated folks who can't find jobs would certainly disagree... Anyways, the reason I'm trying to date now is because I no longer live with them.

I think my judgment of OKcupid women came off a little harsher than I meant for it to, and I apologize if it seemed like I was overgeneralizing. I've not met anyone there who is open and honest, but I'm sure they are there.

Lots of good advice. Thanks everyone.
posted by plungerjoke at 7:45 PM on June 24, 2009

Talk to women online, in IRC rooms and the like (not sex rooms, just general chat rooms). One quick tip: don't call them "nubile females" at any point when you do.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:33 PM on June 24, 2009 least casually dating someone. Or a few people!

...while trying to communicate with a nubile female.

Advise you not attempt to pursue dating multiple people at once, or call a woman a "nubile female" (or just "female") to her face, or in your head. This is my best dating advice for you, other than just get out there and ask a few girls you like out on a casual date and don't worry about whether it's going to lead to sex or another date.
posted by davejay at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2009

Hah, Effigy, we think alike there.
posted by davejay at 10:25 PM on June 24, 2009

Yeah, the "nubile" thing set off my "creep" sensors too, so make sure you're not saying creepy things like that when you're posting an online personal or talking to a potential date.

You mention you aren't in very good shape physically. I think your first step should be to work on fixing that. Not just because women will find you more attractive (though they will), but also because you will feel better about yourself if you're working towards a goal and that will show in your confidence levels.
posted by hazyjane at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2009

nubile female was an attempt at humor.
I am not a robot, and of course I would never refer to someone that way.
posted by plungerjoke at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2009

Practice makes perfect. It's a numbers game so try to meet more and more people. Go out more often, socialize, talk to strangers.
posted by heather-b at 6:41 AM on June 25, 2009

I also feel like I am relatively confident and sure of myself with the exception of when I'm in the dating world.

That is exactly what I am talking about. You need to approach dating with the same confidence you would anything else. "With the exception of" isn't the right answer. That is where you need to be most confident. You can't halfway jump off the diving board, women can sense if you drag your feet, if you are wishy washy, and it is not an attractive quality to most well adjusted females.

Fake it, fake it, fake it, fake it. You will get the hang of it. Trust me.

I don't mean be cocky, be yourself, but self assured. Confidence is being able to admit you are wrong, if you are wrong. Not holding to a stupid idea. etc. But its better to err on the side of cocky than doormat.

P.S. fake it.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:09 AM on June 25, 2009

The male/female ratio is like ten trillion to one, so expect to send out a hundred messages for one date.

This hasn't been my experience at all, and I'm no prize in the looks department. Maybe it depends on where you live? I've never sent out any messages but have received quite a few.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:20 PM on June 25, 2009

Try Not only is it a chance to meet new people in a pressure-free environment, but depending on the groups you join there are activities involved, too. So, it's less "let's sit and drink coffee and look at each other" and more "hey we're playing a round of golf/seeing a movie/letting our dogs play together and it's kind of casual and fun."
posted by buzzkillington at 9:36 PM on June 25, 2009

I'd like to suggest as well. I'd heard a lot of great things about it for years, but I never had a reason to sign up for it myself until I felt that I wanted to continue practicing my Arabic conversational skills after finishing grad school. What I like about Meetup is that you get to pick and choose exactly which events you'd like to attend, and whether you decide to attend 2 or 10 events a month, there's absolutely no pressure.

After seeing how easy it was for me to participate in the Arabic group, I decided to look into a few other social groups, and one of those is where I met my current girlfriend. Although Meetup does have its fair share of groups that are specifically for singles, this one wasn't. We just happened to be the first two people to arrive at the event, and we really hit it off. We exchanged numbers and soon made plans to go out on a date, but even before the date happened, we saw each other again at another event that our Meetup group was sponsoring.

So to make a long story short --- by joining Meetup, I wasn't looking for a relationship, but that's just one of the many things that I got out of it. I've also had the opportunity to visit a lot of different restaurants and venues that I probably never would have gone to on my own, and with fun and interesting people who are also looking to meet other new people here in our city. You should definitely give it a try and see if it works for you.
posted by sabira at 9:14 PM on June 27, 2009

Anybody who thinks "nubile female" is not funny is probably strung a little too tight. I read it and laughed.

You can get away with it if you know how to say it. You can get away with pretty much anything if you kow how to say it.

Conversely, you can say exactly the right thing and screw it up by saying it the entirely wrong way (ever screw up a fantastic joke by screwing up the delivery? This is similar to what I'm talking about. You can screw up the perfect conversation, business pitch, or marriage proposal by saying the perfect words in the wrong way.)

And get cocky. Go right past confident and dive into cocky. Your 007 sense of humor will keep you from looking like you're simply arrogant. Cocky good. Wimpy bad. That should be your perspective.

Cocky communicates confidence more effectively than confidence does even though there will be people right behind me saying cocky communicates insecurity. Those people are wong. You need to be cocky and you need to communicate the right thing the right way. If you're confident, you get a B+. If you're cocky and communicate it well, you get an A.

It's all about (non-verbal) communication.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 9:00 AM on June 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

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