Help teach a woman how to attract the men she's interested in.
November 15, 2009 9:59 PM   Subscribe

What resources would you recommend to a 29 year old woman who's got absolutely no game whatsoever and needs help with every aspect of the dating world, from meeting guys to keeping them?

Basically, save me the cost of charm school for my sister. Don't be insulted on her behalf- she's asked for help.
posted by tumbleweedjack to Human Relations (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Intimate Connections.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:03 PM on November 15, 2009

Be real.

That is all.

(Happily married to an awesome woman for 22+ years.)
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:34 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Don't be crazy.

No, I'm serious. This isn't malicious, or snarky, or anything. This exact conversation has happened between myself and friends:

"I hear you're dating someone!"
"Yeah! She's sane."
"She's...what? Whoa...really?!"

Be that girl. It's huge.
posted by effugas at 10:38 PM on November 15, 2009 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: "Be real" is not the advice I'm looking for. My sister's genuinely upset that she seems to scare off every guy in her perimeter. She's already real, she just needs help learning the appropriate ways to behave when you want to get a guy to be romantically interested in you.
posted by tumbleweedjack at 10:47 PM on November 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

We really need more information here. What about her is scary? Because if it's "she doesn't know how to dress attractively and lacks basic small talk skills and has issues making eye contact" that's one thing, but "she has an IQ of 160 and a PhD in astrophysics and guys find her intimidating" it's another.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:52 PM on November 15, 2009

Perhaps it would help to get a sense of how she's reacting now to offer better counsel. Or, if that's too much, have her stop doing what she's doing now since its obviously not working. Maybe try the opposite of what she's doing now.

I'm mostly curious as to how someone gets to 29 without even the first clue about dating or how to behave around people of the opposite sex.

Maybe a good step would be to stop thinking romance and think friendship first. You know, baby steps and whatnot.
posted by fenriq at 10:54 PM on November 15, 2009

Best answer: Hidden in the magical internet somewhere there's a paper on the science of flirting. Hey, what'cha know, Google's got it!

SIRC Guide to Flirting

As much as I initially scoffed at the idea of a flirting manual, what it lists is pretty spot on. Of course, if someone were to mechanically follow each step like they were assembling an Ikea dresser, the effect would be diminished. For someone without a clue though, it could be a good guide to interpreting flirting, and what to do back.

I think the 'be real' advice was a caution against following too many guidelines and rules and all that- someone genuine is far more attractive than someone who doesn't call you back, or shows up late, or makes a forced comment, because that's what some guide told them to do.
posted by twirlypen at 10:56 PM on November 15, 2009 [12 favorites]

She needs a small group of friends that can nicely and constructively tell her what to do (and what not to do) and how to do it, and possibly what to wear while doing it. I've done it with a close friend of mine (i.e. no you shouldn't have sex with a guy you just met in the alley behind the bar if you are looking for a relationship with him, no you cannot leave the house with a hole in your pants it doesn't matter if your sweatshirt is long enough to cover it, yes you need to brush your hair everyday, you get the idea, it's a slow process...).

This is the kind of advice only good and trusted friends can give and she has to be prepared to hear it and open to trying new approaches. I don't know what your sister's particular problem is, but depending on her issues a therapist might be good too (if she has anxiety issues for example). If she is scaring off every guy within 50 feet of her she may have some serious issues reading basic social cues. So she may need to start with basic social skills before moving onto dating skills.
posted by whoaali at 11:04 PM on November 15, 2009

Which guys is she interested in?

The easiest way to meet someone if you have no "game" is to meet others that don't either (e.g. I am hopeless in bars, therefore I will not try to meet people in bars). If you mean she is hopelessly geeky but good-natured, there are lots of guys that are cool with that, and lots of geeky events to meet them at. As others have said, being sane and at peace with yourself is worth more as a women than any amount of game.
posted by benzenedream at 11:05 PM on November 15, 2009

Response by poster: So for clarification: there's nothing wrong with her, except that she doesn't understand the basic mechanics of flirting. twirlypen's link is the kind of thing I'm looking for.
posted by tumbleweedjack at 11:10 PM on November 15, 2009

Are you certain she wants a guy? I have seen, over and over again, someone's desire to make a particular friend (or sibling) more socially appetizing for her- or himself supersede any real desire or imperative of the friend's. Your last comment suggests that's not the case, but really—ask her what she wants.

The value of mating, as a thing you think about and execute, is frankly absurd. We are not here to "find" individuals to get them "romantically interested" in us. We are here to really live, and the moment you ascribe your (or your sister's) present failure to attract a dude to something bigger and more certain than it really is represents a monumental failure of proportion.

I'm not saying your sister is stupid for caring. It's understandable. I'm saying she might be much happier not giving a damn whether a guy looks back at her.
posted by trotter at 11:16 PM on November 15, 2009

Best answer: This question has been asked before and the answers always seem to start out pretty awkwardly when it's a woman asking the question.

The SIRC Guide is dead-on, though. I read it about a month ago for the first time and I was like, "what, what, what, I had to figure all that out by sometimes painful (and now, hella fun) trial and error between the ages of 23 and 30 when nowadays kids can google search that shit and be done with it? Seriously?"

I've picked up a few extra nuggets of advice along the way, though. For one thing, don't let the idea of being a late bloomer intimidate you. There is one, and ONLY ONE thing that you learn from dating experience, which is this: Every relationship is different. Everybody has a little bit different definition of flirting. Everybody likes a little bit different kind of touch. Everyone kisses a little different. You find the things you do well and you adapt them or drop them according to the person you're with. When in doubt: Experiment, copy and ask. Playful straightforwardness is hot.

The reason that this revelation is important is because it means that there is no such thing as a late bloomer: Everyone is starting nearly at zero when they meet someone they really click with. It's the meeting clickable people that's the hard part, and that's something that everyone struggles with at this point in life.

And yes, "just be yourself," is a cop-out answer. But it's on the right track. Instead, work towards being the best version of yourself that you've dared to imagine.

Because, the truth of the matter is that, you're far closer to being that person than you think. Work towards being that person in small, achievable steps. For instance in your day-to-day life, just spend time working on the first level of flirting: smiling, making eye contact, asking open ended questions because you're genuinely interested in other people (that is to say, questions that can't be answered with just yes or no).

Become comfortable with Schroedinger's Dates: Is it a "date"? Are we hanging out? I won't stress because it'll be fun and practice for flirting either way. If someone isn't in to you, that's okay. It's their right! It doesn't mean anybody did anything wrong, because attraction is complicated and everybody's different and (this is a new lesson on the emotional learning level for me) sometimes timing really does matter so don't try to force it, just go with the flow and don't obsess over any one person or any one perceived faux pas, because the right person is going to come along at the right time and they won't care about what stands in the way.

Yes, the advice about taking up hobbies and volunteer work if you're not into the club scene is also great. Sometimes peoples' hobbies don't attract diversity of gender and they need to branch out. The neat trick about leaving your comfort zone is that it adds new passions and focuses strengths and leads to that elusive confidence and interestingness that feed attractiveness! The other trick is that when you work towards becoming your better self, you open up opportunities. Your life becomes more mindful and the windows for good timing become bigger and closer between.
posted by Skwirl at 1:30 AM on November 16, 2009 [19 favorites]

Skwirl has the answer - before she can really flirt, she has to feel REALLY good about herself, being herself.

Once she feels like she's a wonderful person and a great option, things will start to change with men.

She'll be able to read signals that her previous insecurity would have caused her to misinterpret.

She'll be able to show interest confidently with men she´s interested in.

She'll be able to find a "look" that is natural and appealing for her.

She won't freak out of someone doesn't call, or does something not-so-smart.

She'll be able to date successfully, because she knows how to take easy.

She'll be able to be rejected/dumped without it being the end of the world.

I'm still not much of a "flirt" or I guess, at least not an obvious one, but I feel good about myself and as far as I can tell, guys really like that.

Oh, and if worse comes to worse, she can "fake" these feeling-good-about-herself behaviors. Fake it till ya make it!
posted by Locochona at 7:08 AM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

big cliche coming: the book He's just not that into you.
Great lessons in discerning who/what is a waste of energy and time.
posted by bunny hugger at 7:40 AM on November 16, 2009

Last week, I was nodding in my head to a girl who was complaining to me that she "has absolutely no game". She was being real as she plowed on-- "I am ready to start dating again...Check out my heels...."-- And so on.

Even as useless as this girl's "real" game is, I still advise being real. Being real means gracefully losing an army of potential lovers and learning from your own mistakes rather than making someone else's.

If you do this:

she just needs help learning the appropriate ways to behave when you want to get a guy to be romantically interested in you.

and it doesn't work, then what a waste of time. And if you steal someone else's clever lines, good date ideas, someone else's moments of inspiration, then who is this man falling in love with? Talented Mrs. Ripley? Is it going to be satisfying to have a lover who has fallen for your artificial image? And if he notices, won't he think, "if she's so great, why does she need to pretend?" Unnatural effort is the dating analogy of overselling.

There is no recipe for meeting people because you're pursuing a feeling not a person. Similarly, there is no such thing as "keeping a man", but rather keeping a feeling alive. You have to watch things unravel again and again, heartrendingly, until the watching perfects you.

What you can do is get lots of practice. Stay in good health, physical and emotional. Be in public. Smile at everyone. Talk about the things that you're crazy about and listen to people. Laugh without hesitation. Do what you love. Follow the moment wherever it takes you.

Of all of these things, smiling (real smiles) is the most important. I can't tell you how many times I've thought, "this would have gone a lot quicker if she (or I!) hadn't been so goddamn shy."
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 10:29 AM on November 16, 2009 [3 favorites]

Flirting is good but IMO, it is only half of the issue. Babies flirt. Getting attention for a few moments is good, but then what? Rapport seems to be a good word for what you are looking for. You want them to be comfortable enough to go beyond the intial conversation. Rapport requires that you pay attention to the signals they are sending out, as well as the ones you are.
posted by kgn2507 at 11:19 AM on November 16, 2009

Seconding Intimate Connections by the author of Feeling Good. Using CBT tactics it improves one's understanding and confidence in their desirability as an intimate partner. In other words, it helps one 'be real'.
posted by Kerasia at 2:41 PM on November 16, 2009

I picked up a copy of How Not To Date recently, and it's entertaining, lighthearted, and full of examples of bad dates. I personally view it as encouraging -- it helps me look back at things I've done or people I've dated in a less negative light, because other people have had these experiences too.

Of course, it also might scare her off the whole dating thing, so YMMV.
posted by mismatched at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2009

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