I'm 35 years old. I'm funny, smart, beautiful. I make good money and have a lot of friends. But I've never been in love, nor has anyone told me they loved me. Forever Alone?
December 30, 2010 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm 35 years old. I'm funny, smart, beautiful. I make good money and have a lot of friends. But I've never been in love, nor has anyone told me they loved me. Forever Alone?

Yep. Never have had a "real" boyfriend. And I meet men all the time. I've spent years dating online. But I meet men in "real" life on occasion, too. I sometimes even get stopped in the street and asked out. But everything ends up unsuccessful. On average, I date at least 10-15 men a year, but rarely, do they go past the third date. Sometimes this is because of no chemistry, or because they just don't feel it for me or vice versa. And I've dated everyone from carpenters to doctors, students to artists. Poor, rich, tall, handsome, homely, gnome-ish, etc. I do not date based on looks. In fact, I try to avoid overly-handsome men. So, I try to keep the dating pool large. I've seen my friends marry, have kids, meet their loved ones both online and in person and have the most wonderful lives. I'm not trying to compare myself here and I'm sure not everything is a bed of roses with my friends lives, but it's hard not to feel jealous sometimes. I'm awfully lonely and feel duped by relationships.

I'm a very warm, engaging and funny person. People tell me this unsolicited often. All the time. I have above-average looks, where I get stared at from across the room and have literally even stopped traffic. I'm not a nerd or an introvert (although, I adore nerds and can nerd out all night long). I'm kind and would give the shirt off my back to my worst enemy. I'm not obsessed with my career, but I make gobs of money. So, I don't know what exactly it "could be" that makes relationships impossible for me. I've been to therapy consistantly. I've beaten myself up numerous times thinking it was me. Both therapists, friends and family are baffled at my hard time with meeting a good man that would be a good fit. It doesn't make sense to anyone.

I went on a date yesterday (I met online). He was rude and critical and it was hard to hang out with him. Needless to say I won't be calling him again, but just the whole experience was disheartening. I am vowing not to date anyone anymore just for the sake of it. I used to think I had to "Put myself out there" but the more I do, I seem to meet more and more undesirable people. But if I don't "put myself out there" then I remain single and lessen my chances of meeting a decent guy.

Most people I know are married and don't know how to sympathize with this. I don't want to talk about this anymore with friends because it's getting embarrassing. I've never dated in high school or college (but I've had been with guys for a few weeks at a time and have had plenty of one night stands). I just don't like that or want that anymore.

I really want to know what it feels like to have my hand held, or someone to hug me from behind. Or to push the cart around in the grocery store. Or having funny farting contests. Or to dress up to the nines and dance all night. To just simply feel loved. I have no idea what that would feel like coming from someone who isn't my dear friend or family member. I have been alone for years so I realize and can live this way and can accept it. But I don't want to live the rest of my life alone. Does anyone have any advice on something like this? Is this truly bad luck?
posted by boostershot to Human Relations (88 answers total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
Are you in a situation where a potential mate can get to know you and vice versa? I mean, forcing a relationship doesn't really work. For me at least I really need to get to know someone (and that someone), and love eventuates. It's not immediately apparent, but it grows.
posted by the noob at 9:42 PM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Yes, I'm really down to earth and love to listen and talk and learn from people. I'm an extrovert, so this is something I enjoy and how I get my energy. I don't try to force anything out of anyone and in fact, I'm really conscious of that. I would rather listen to people first before I speak and I personally pride myself on not interrupting someone or sounding like an annoying twat. I'm the oldest in a huge family, so I learned give and take early on. You can't force anything, and I really do respect that. However, I often feel like I am not given a chance from the other person or that I may intimidate someone and for that, they don't try more with me.
posted by boostershot at 9:49 PM on December 30, 2010

Is it usually you that ends things? Next guy that is willing to stick, well stick it out, give it nine months, see if he grows on you.
posted by sammyo at 9:54 PM on December 30, 2010

Yeah, who is determining that three dates is it, generally? You, or them?
posted by tristeza at 9:57 PM on December 30, 2010

Well, I don't know you, but your question comes off as pretty arrogant and self-involved. It's possible that people are picking up on that and keeping their distance. You also seem preoccupied with judging and pigeonholing yourself and the people you've dated, which is frankly obnoxious if you're as blatant about it in real life as you are in this question. It also seems like you want a relationship for its own sake, which is unhealthy and a sure road to being permanently unsatisfied.

I dunno, I certainly shouldn't be throwing any stones myself, but you might be happier if you made more of an effort to put others before yourself.
posted by nasreddin at 9:57 PM on December 30, 2010 [37 favorites]

Here's an interesting question for you:
would you be willing to forsake your career and the whole industry if someone
told you this would help?

I am not saying that your job or career is the culprit here. Just want to try
to understand a bit more about what you value.

What is it that you value?
and what do you expect [value wise] from the men you date?

It seems to me there might be some incongruence here. You might not be aware of
it, but still might be there.
posted by theKik at 9:59 PM on December 30, 2010

Have you tried dating someone you are friends with first, who shares common hobbies and activities that you enjoy doing together? Or are all the guys you date, you are just meeting them for the first time and trying to get to know them over dinner, coffee, etc?
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 10:01 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I don't know whether you've had an amazingly bad run of luck, or not, but I do think that cutting your friends and family out of discussing/aiding with your love life is a bad move. At 35, most guys in your peer group that are available, who haven't been married/or in a long term relationship, have been doing something else, usually career/avocation related, that has been awfully important to them. And the guys who have been in one or more marriages/long term relationships, have some definite opinions about what worked/didn't work, and what they want from future relationships. What they all share, however, is a level of restraint about getting into relationships, that their peers who paired up successfully in their early 20s, didn't have. People who are available, in their 30s, are just, in my experience, not going to fall in love as head-over-heels quickly as they once might have. So, yeah, I think it does get a bit harder to bond, and even to find someone willing to bond, the older you get.

For that reason, I think it helps to continue to involve your family and friends in finding and evaluating new partners, or to start doing so, if you never trusted them with helping you before. Those close to you have a natural interest in your long term happiness, may know your likes/dislikes, your philosophical/religious outlook, maybe some or most of your dating history, and what you want in the future. Not all will be effective in finding and steering suitable dating candidates your way, but some may. And in that sense, your own abilities to find and select dating candidates are multiplied by your network, if you work your network well. And usually, whether you like it on not, you do have to date the future father of your children awhile, before he becomes their daddy; so, if you don't want to wind up alone, you're kind of stuck with continuing to date, until you find someone with whom you can mutually bond.

I think its also a good idea to shake up your social routine somewhat. If you're not catching fish in the rivers you frequent, it's time to look for new rivers, so to speak. Where are the dateable/marriageable single men in your area, in their spare/leisure time? At the gym or the YMCA? At the bowling alley/ball game/golf course/boat yard? Taking up some new activities, and looking for help getting involved in them, can be key to meeting new people.
posted by paulsc at 10:04 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]

I hesitate to comment because you say you beat yourself up a lot, and it's hard to know just where to aim with such a general situation and a "what's wrong with me" question. I'm sure a lot of comments you'll get here will just feel like more beating.

Anyway, when we beat ourselves up, people can really sense that. Especially if they feel like you're just this wonderful person, and they're (referencing the pool of gentlemen) uglier than you. They start to get the feeling that if you're beautiful and you beat yourself up, then probably they are not going to last long.

That feels like maybe part of an answer to me. I mean, "you're too hard on yourself" is rarely helpful, I think...but if there are parts of that tendency that transform into "you're too hard on others because you expect yourself to end up with perfection" then you've got yourself a real, solid issue to work on.

But if not...what are your therapists saying?
posted by circular at 10:05 PM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

I really want to know what it feels like to have my hand held, or someone to hug me from behind.

Do you hold hands? Do you hug from behind? I'm having a hard time getting a sense of the personal warmth you are putting into relationships. Not in general, in particular with individual people- how do you act if you like someone? Are you good at letting people know that you care? I'm talking both platonic and romantic relationships. I wonder if you are coming across as too cold, too business-like. I don't believe you are those things; I think you could be letting your stress wall you off.

Or not- you just had one really bad date yesterday. You're feeling extra down today. How you feel today is not your whole life. Do some good wallowing over the next few days and I bet you'll feel better.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:12 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Hi, thanks for the good feedback. I would definitely change up careers and take a new direction. I sort of want to anyway, as I think my job negatively affects my life (work crazy hours with nutsy situations). I am grateful to be employed, but don't want to throw all my stock in career.

I value friendships and time well spent with folks that I enjoy to be around. From someone I'd like to date, I value friendship first and kindness and humor. Consistancy.

I agree, there must be something not flowing right here. I'm caught between thinking its within me or bad luck... not sure, but I'm trying.

Example: Last three guys I went on more than 3 dates with:
1. Guy A: I didn't realize he was a fierce alcoholic. He hid it well. We never drank together, but he flaked on me constantly and I guess in hindsight, all the classic signs were there. He ditched plans with me constantly. But I kept giving him chances. It just exploded one day *he had a melt down of epic proportions and I was quite taken aback. He's currently in rehab and has been for the past 3 months.
2. Guy B: He was in the middle of a nasty divorce and had two small children with disabilities. I thought he was a good guy, so I gave it a chance, despite my red flag of this being a difficult situation. After a month, I discovered he was still sleeping with the wife. I felt awkward with this arrangement so I broke it off.
3. Guy C: Had two kids that he put before everything (which I agree, you should). However, he would change plans and cancel a lot- which is fine- but when it got to be every time, it got pretty frustrating and our dating life just sorta petered out.
posted by boostershot at 10:12 PM on December 30, 2010

To put it another way, if I asked you out because of your looks or because you're witty and charming in public, and then, two or three dates later, discovered that this kind of thing is the soundtrack in your head, I would sense that immediately and run for the hills. The issue isn't that you're too hard or too easy on yourself, it's that you're living in a screenplay you've written for yourself in which you are the main character and everyone else is a disposable extra. This is pretty common and not necessarily crippling, but many people do find it quite off-putting.
posted by nasreddin at 10:17 PM on December 30, 2010 [39 favorites]

Best answer: Well you advertise yourself as a great catch, so maybe this posting will work better than an online dating profile.

There's a slight possibility that maybe none of the men you've gone out with have actually been the right type for you. However in reality maybe you're just really self unaware. I'm speaking from experience here.

Often someone who says they are a listener more than a talker can be perceived as aloof or arrogant or uninterested or even just uninteresting. A while back I perceived myself as a good listener and later had lots of my friends tell me that initially they thought I was a prick because I wasn't that engaging when we first met. Someone once told me I came off as judgmental rather than interested. This changed once I consciously decided to over-act my interest even if I felt I was being fake. It seems to have worked and people don't really think I am being fake. In some sense this has helped me to actually become more interested in other people.

There's also the chance that maybe you really do project your interest in other people but it goes to far. Perhaps your interest is perceived as feigned. If you come off as fake it can be just as disengaging as being under-interested, in my opinion.

I'm not sure it's a bad thing to just date for the sake of dating. Maybe you can treat your next batch of dates as an experiment. I'm not saying act like a different person, but maybe augment or tone down your natural responses to see if something else works. Be over-interested, or over-excited, or if you need to go the other direction maybe you need to tweak the amount of time you listen vs. how much you talk.

Sure you run the risk of driving away Mr. Right if none of this works, but your hit % has apparently been zero thus far so you might as well assume none of the next 10 guys will be that guy either so you've really got nothing to lose.

And if nothing else, maybe you should just exploit the benefits of being single and do some solo traveling or other activities you'd never be able to do with an SO. You might find someone that way...
posted by thorny at 10:20 PM on December 30, 2010 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: I'm a pretty affectionate gal, even with my friends. I've attempted to hold hands with previous dates, but I once got shaken off by this guy claiming he hated hand holding, so it scares me to make the first move on that now. His actions embarrassed me and made me feel stupid so I am just hoping someone takes my hand one day.

I think I am starting to turn hard and having less patience. Maybe I'm fearful of getting rejected (not just by the man, but the whole situation). I mainly am the one who ends up breaking off the start of something with a guy- but I do also give chances, too. Understand that I do want to give everyone a chance and give it a shot, but I think I've just met a lot of people that aren't working out. It doesn't "feel" right. I don't feel chemistry and don't want to waste my time. With those men that I have had feelings for and have felt like wanting to persue something- well, those guys didn't seem to have return feelings for me.
posted by boostershot at 10:22 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you ever date outside of your age bracket?

What you describe as an ideal sort of relationship is what a really romantic guy in his 20s might want, or someone who has been through his life crap already and has his priorities in order for himself in his 40s or 50s.

Not everyone goes through life at the same pace, right? So maybe you're a better match for someone a drastically different age, and you just never would have considered it an option before?
posted by Mizu at 10:22 PM on December 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

The love you take is equal to the love you make. As an exercise, mentally list the things you love about someone, even someone you don't know, or an actor. I believe this exercise will change the tenor of your future dates.
posted by xammerboy at 10:22 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Would you say your problem is that you don't meet many men you like or have you met men you've had strong feelings for who didn't reciprocate your feelings? Or a bit of both? And if you are meeting men who you feel you could one day fall in love with, but they don't feel the same way, how often and under what circumstances are you meeting them?

I'm trying to tell if you are possible over idealizing potential partners or if you somehow are scaring off or desexualizing yourself around men you feel a connection with.
posted by whoaali at 10:23 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This is great feedback. Thank you, guys. I appreciate it. This is actually very helpful.

I do end up doing everything solo and find it rewarding. I just got back from a solo journey to Argentina. I hiked the glaciers in El Calafate, danced the tango in Buenos Aires, went white water rafting. It was great! I wrote a lot and spent a lot of time relaxing and meeting interesting folks. As much fun as I had, I still did have moments where I thought it would have been nice to experience everything with someone special.
posted by boostershot at 10:26 PM on December 30, 2010

You say that you purposefully avoid very good looking men, but if you're as amazing and beautiful as you portray yourself to be in your question then perhaps your soul mate is an extremely handsome man and you have been unwilling to meet him this whole time. Next time you meet a man that is "too handsome" ask him out!
posted by katypickle at 10:27 PM on December 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

Why do you avoid "overly attractive" men? It's easy to not feel sparks if you avoid what lights your fire.
posted by milarepa at 10:31 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I haven't pursued a lot of traditionally handsome men because in my experience with this, I've felt uncomfortable with other women hitting on them or the handsome man not really trying to get to know me or putting a lot of effort into it. I also have tried to not be so "pursuey" because the guys don't like that, either, right? I realize that this is probably stupid of me (not asking out handsome men) and should realize I could be pleasantly surprised, too. I should try not to judge a book by its cover.

However, I would like to be asked out every once in a while and that rarely ever happens. I am usually the initiator (even online).
posted by boostershot at 10:38 PM on December 30, 2010

Best answer: Is it possible you have unrealistic expectations for "romance"? Or that at this point you're putting so much weight on the whole thing you can't have the ease that might make for the kind of fun early on that leads to the kind of intimacy you're hoping for, or that the whole thing is getting you depressed?

If so, maybe you might consider tabling the whole thing for six months and taking a breather.

The other thing is, are you really available? I just mean if you approach it really systematically via dating sites and what not, it's like you have a thin stream of people auditioning and there's nothing wrong with that approach, but many of us meet people at work, the gym, at parties, etc., so it's possible your pool of applicants is smaller than you think, and smaller than other people's. By which of course I mean maybe you should start sleeping with your boss. (I'm kidding - but you know what I mean. Maybe you're overlooking people in front of you.)
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:40 PM on December 30, 2010

Stop looking for a man to date. Stop obsessing over the situation. Stop beating yourself up. Relax, enjoy your life, be wonderful to yourself. Go out. Have fun. Make friends with people you enjoy being around. Let love find you instead of you beating the bushes to find love.
posted by MsKim at 10:42 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, you guys, thank you!

I think you are right... I'm going to table the notion of dating for a while. I took down all my online profiles as I read through all your answers. I'm going to chill for a while and plan my next trip. I'm not gonna think about this shizz for a while. I think I got a lot of inward healing I have to do for myself before I really feel love one day.
posted by boostershot at 10:46 PM on December 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I think Mr. Johnston said it best:
True love will find you in the end
You'll find out just who was your friend
Don’t be sad, I know you will,
But don’t give up until
True love finds you in the end.

This is a promise with a catch
Only if you're looking will it find you
‘Cause true love is searching too
But how can it recognize you
Unless you step out into the light?
But don’t give up until
True love finds you in the end.
You need to follow his advice and keep doing what you are doing. I think you have blockages. I think you should give people without the initial spark more time to let them grow on you. But you know this. Most importantly, keep getting out there and keep learning from your experiences. Do more dating, not less. Take more chances with men, not less, including hand holding. Do even more of everything you are doing.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:47 PM on December 30, 2010 [10 favorites]

And you didn't date in high school or college either. That's interesting. I mean, nothing wrong with that, plenty of people are late bloomers. But that means that whatever is gong on has deeper roots than just last month. So (now we're really getting personal!) what's your relationship like with your parents? What's their relationship like with one another? You're the "oldest in a huge family," and...?
posted by salvia at 11:03 PM on December 30, 2010

Response by poster: Hmm, yes. I didn't date anyone while I went to school. No one ever asked me out. I was sort of a class clown, friends with everybody-type and a total book nerd. I am a late bloomer, but I have always been popular and personable. I come from a military family so we moved quite often, so I was adept at making new friends all the time and it was quite easy for me. I was kinda chubby in high school, so I always thought that's why boys didn't ask me out. Since then, I've bloomed.

My parents are still together, but its not a loving marriage. My father is a well respected surgeon and a workaholic. He wasn't always pleasant to my mother. Maybe this is something I fear? Maybe somewhere in the cockles of my soul, I fear getting into a situation where a man isn't nice to me.
posted by boostershot at 11:11 PM on December 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One thing you can do for yourself is find something you can care about enough to make a contribution to. A cause, an idea, an area of the world or an area of need that speaks to your heart and prompts you to give something back of all the good fortune and many privileges you have in your life. If you care about something more than the pursuit of what you fancy will be fun and make you happy, you might find that you light a spark in yourself that makes you attractive to people who also attract you. And you'll have something in common.

Happiness is not something you can go after head on. It's the byproduct of right thinking, right living and caring for something outside of yourself. Don't look for a person to fall in love with, rather, look for something you care about and can give yourself to. You're far more likely to meet the right person for you by doing this and if you don't ever meet a Mr. Right, you will have something in your life that can function exactly the way being in love functions. You can be happy.

You sound as if you have a very great deal to bring to a good cause. Bring it!
posted by Anitanola at 11:33 PM on December 30, 2010 [13 favorites]

Be happy with yourself. Love will find you. Or not! But at least you'll be happy.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:37 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think you should give people without the initial spark more time to let them grow on you.

I agree, but simultaneously I think you need to trust your gut more. Give people more time, but don't ignore the red flags -- right now it sounds like you are doing the opposite (bailing fast except when there are red flags).

Love is sometimes hard, and sometimes messy. Are you actually available? As in, is there space in your life for another person and all the compromises that come with them?
posted by Forktine at 12:30 AM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

I think you should start seeking out the men you're interested in, and ask them out - attractive or not. Be more "pursuey." As a guy, I can tell you that I absolutely LOVE it when a woman pursues me. Just be genuine and be careful not to come on too strong

Also, I think you've got the wrong idea about attractive men. They're like everyone else, just more attractive. Excluding them because they're attractive is just as bad as excluding someone because they're not drop-dead gorgeous. Also, keep in mind that attractiveness is SUBJECTIVE, and by excluding people that you find attractive you're just torturing yourself to uphold an ideal of loving someone despite what they may look like. Physical attraction does matter to a degree.
posted by smokingmonkey at 12:47 AM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]

I am of the opinion that all the moving around you did as a child has made it so that you back away every time you get too close to someone in the subconscious fear you will be moving again and have to leave them behind. You were programmed to make friends but not to get too close or you will be let down because you would then have to move. You profess to want to get close to someone, but I think you fear that if you do he will disappoint you.
posted by AugustWest at 12:52 AM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

Leaving aside the guys you mention who were radically unsuitable, maybe it's time to bite the bullet and call a few of the guys you've dated, and ask them why it didn't work out? They're your best source of data.

But if you want a brutally honest off-the-cuff assessment, the one stand-out thing about your original post? I don't think I've ever known anyone be so unstintingly complimentary about themselves, either in real life or in writing. Not without it being wrapped in a little humility or self-deprecation or just "although I say it myself". Maybe it's a military-family thing. I don't know you, and I'm not judging you, that's just my instant reaction to the text you put in your post.

So, if I have to guess, it's that you talk like that to your dates, and you come across as arrogant and self-satisfied -- you give the impression you have no needs, no weaknesses.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:16 AM on December 31, 2010 [15 favorites]

I once got shaken off by this guy claiming he hated hand holding, so it scares me to make the first move on that now. His actions embarrassed me and made me feel stupid so I am just hoping someone takes my hand one day.

Dating just is embarrassing sometimes. Learn to live with that. Walling yourself off from holding hands with B just because A wasn't into it risks leaving B believing you're not into it. Maybe B got embarrassed at some point trying to hold hands with one of your predecessors.

Do what you feel like doing, and if they're not into it, blow them off and wait for somebody who is. Don't settle for mediocrity out of desperation.

I also think that one of the healthiest things you can do in your situation is just stop searching. Declare yourself unavailable. Pull all your online profiles. Get yourself to a point where you really don't mind being single, and the world will almost surely surprise you.

If my experience is any guide: take up bicycle touring in large groups.
posted by flabdablet at 1:31 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

But I've never been in love, nor has anyone told me they loved me.

I love you [as a fellow mefite]. There you go, one down!

Nthing AmbroseChapel's "unsparing discussion" with a few exes or good friends. Sometimes men get put off by really non-obvious things that are not easily discernible by girlfriends.

Traditionally handsome men who are in their mid-thirties and single without a prior recent divorce are single for a good reason - usually they are players, alkies, ADD, narcissists, or some combination thereof. Lots of my female friends have the same approach you do due to getting burned by tall, dark, handsome wackos.

as I think my job negatively affects my life (work crazy hours with nutsy situations).

This may be a large part of the problem assuming you are not delusional in your self-description. A wild-ass guess of the average guy's timeline of relationships might be something like this:

- Go to college, fool around
- Graduate, get a job, date more seriously
- Move in with someone (1st LTR), if it works out, they're out of the dating pool, if not...
- Figure out 1st LTR doesn't work (divorce if married, break up if not), figure out relationship boundaries and needs. Lose couple friends and gain free time.
- Be scared of another LTR, get new friends and activities after breakup
- Meet someone and commit to another LTR

These can occur with large year gaps due to work, travel, or school. Also, depending on the first LTR, it can take a short or long time to finally figure out it's not working. E.g., take friends from my hometown, who never went to college and were all married and divorced twice by 30; in contrast, I have a set of grad school friends who were all late bloomers and just getting into their first LTR and real job as they hit their late 20s.

The key time to meet guys is in the "Lose couple friends and gain free time" phase (hopefully after they have gotten over the breakup in a healthy way). When I meet people in their 30s at hiking event or newly starting martial arts instruction, I now reflexively assume they just got over a divorce or recent breakup because almost everyone has. Its pretty rare for someone settled to strike out into a new activity with a significant time commitment without some kind of life event prompting it (ok, some get diagnosed with diabetes). Hanging out with people who spent most of their 20s in school or volunteering helps find 30 somethings that don't have too much prior relationship baggage - nerds that took a while to get their social act together are another overrepresented group of late bloomers.

So this is a long-winded way of saying yes your schedule might be screwing you up. Longer term continuing activities (at least weekly) with largeish time commitments that people do post-breakup are ideal for meeting people once you get older.
posted by benzenedream at 2:19 AM on December 31, 2010 [23 favorites]

I am with nasreddin and AmbroseChapel; I think you want to take a close look at the amount of boasting in this thread. And the extent to which some of the boasting is very unobjective.

What you see as "adept at making friends" could be coming off as false to others, overly gregarious and superficial...

"I hiked the glaciers in El Calafate, danced the tango in Buenos Aires" -- stick with "I went to South America." Let others ask the details. "Highly respected surgeon" -- nobody cares, not right off the bat. Self-tagged as smart and funny? Oy.

You are trying to live off a pre-written script and some things are not adding up. "I really want to know what it feels like... to dress up to the nines and dance all night." And yet there you were cutting a rug in Buenos Aires. So lonely, yet...so many friends and family. You long to hug and hold hands...you're a pretty affectionate gal even with friends! And so on. What?

Humility is a big key to happiness. Other things follow from it, too.

Also: the meat and potatoes of relationships are not really the exciting romantic bits. Set the sights to something a bit more mundane (albeit not unpleasant). "I want to know what it's like to work out whose turn it is to snowblow the walk. I want to make sure I keep the pen by the phone. I want to use earplugs because my mate snores."
posted by kmennie at 3:27 AM on December 31, 2010 [27 favorites]

I would encourage you to reread a previous question of yours, the one where you and the handsome man talked and flirted for months over email, yet when y'all finally met and you kissed him, he pulled away, left and then did the slow fade away.

That reaction is an odd to one who is as beautiful and wonderful as you describe yourself in this post.
posted by nomadicink at 5:03 AM on December 31, 2010

Best answer: I love the internet. I love YOU, in a completely platonic and totally-not-meant-to-be-creepy way that I would not be embarassed for Mrs. RKS to find out about... I identify with what you're saying because I have some friends in real life who are in a similar situation.

But... I'm sure I'll hear some wonderful stories to the contrary, and I know it's a generational bias because my marriage is older than the internets...


if my wife were hit by a bus or ever wised up and left me, I would not be looking for love online. I will carve out a limited exception for things like people you meet on FB and twitter, because those networks often a)emerge by osmosis (i.e. you meet friends by meeting your friends friends and b) revolve around real-life relationships. But it would still be all about the people you meet in real life, and NOT in "looking for love" situations (bars, speed-dating, etc.)

What online dating, singles bars, etc. all have in common is they are, frankly, meat markets. If that's what you're looking for, you'll find it. You're meeting men who are, by and large, looking for hookups, not relationships. Anecdotally, according to female friends of mine, you're meeting men who are married already and lying about it in order to have strings-free sex (or at least attention) outside of their marriage. Even the sites that advertise heavily about how "different" they are in this regard are the same way. It's baked in. No matter what the nice man on the commercial is telling you about their scientific process, it's the same type of people feeding themselves into the loop.

You've been given good advice about not being so focused on looking for it. If you're as attractive as you say, you will find out about and meet available men no problem, the issue will be (and has been all along, really), creating stress-free contexts in which to get to know them WELL before even getting to dating, much less committment. I think church, hobbies, and people you meet in connection with work are much better candidates for making those kinds of assessments. You're discouraged because you're meeting a particular cross-section of men - those who are on the prowl. The behaviors you describe in your dates are typical of the kind of men who have to work that hard at it - anti-social, rude, critical, damaged.
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:41 AM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]

To paraphrase Captain Kirk:

"I'm from real life. I only work in the internet."
posted by randomkeystrike at 5:43 AM on December 31, 2010

Response by poster: Hey, thanks for the advice, guys. I've decided to nix the internet for dating. I did take down all online profiles tonight.

I'm aware most folks think I'm boasting about myself when I've been describing this particular situation about myself to everyone, but honestly I'm trying to describe a background in detail. If I didn't list particulars like that, someone would ask, "well, geez, do you think you can't get a date because you are dull?". I typically don't walk around going, "Hey mister, I'm funny and beautiful, etc. etc.". I don't talk like that in real life. I have plenty of humility in my life that I will not be listing out here as it is not really the point for this, but it's there and I recognize it and I carry it with me every day. It's a struggle to not be paralyzed by depression, personally. I have had / do have an extremely difficult life that I learn from and honor every day. I have personal mefite friends who know me in real life and would vouch. Because I choose not to be self-deprecating at every turn is a small miracle for me and I'm no longer going to pretend I'm less than what I am just to "seem" more in touch with humility. Please know that I am.

When I've made a move on a guy or did something that ended up not going well in the end, trust me, I've learned from it. At least I've tried. And I've tried with everyone. You can fault me for that. Assholes and angels alike. So sure, go through previous posts and make a judgement call, but I think the overall thing I'm getting here is I've got a long way to go.
posted by boostershot at 6:46 AM on December 31, 2010 [7 favorites]

Is it possible that you are a very assertive person? Reading through your self-description, I thought that you sounded wonderful, but also extremely self-confident which I would definitely find a little intimidating, and make me less likely to ask you out. That is not to say that confidence is not attractive (I think it is), but I generally like spending time with people who have a good balance between humbleness and confidence.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:50 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

And on top of all that, you're so modest!

"Why can't I find love?" is such a hard question to answer, even if it's your lifelong best friend asking. I can't answer confidently for your situation, especially since, as others have mentioned, your question could be summarized as "I'm so great; what's wrong with me?"

But I can throw out a few possibilities. One or more of the below might be a factor here:

- There's something off-putting about you that we don't know about. Maybe that you don't even realize you're doing. For example, being rude to waiters or talking negatively behind people's backs or constantly asking if you look okay or whipping your dentures out and plopping them on the table before you eat. It's unlikely that you have some huge dealbreaker quirk, but we don't really know what you're like, and we don't know if there's more to the story than what you're offering us.

- If your question is at all reflective of how you talk/act on dates, you're probably giving people the impression of being shallow and full of yourself. Talking yourself up is good in an online profile or a job interview, but even then you don't want to be too perfect ("my greatest weakness is that I work too hard!"), and once you've gotten your foot in the door, you've already made that first impression and don't need to convince anyone of your awesomeness. Since you're fairly new to AskMe, you might not know of the Anonymous Fedora Guy whose question went down in infamy (perhaps a little unfairly; he was likely a good guy at heart); your details are different, but there's a similar undertone of gosh-I'm-greatness.

- Your date-or-dash meter needs calibration. Do you continue seeing people who seem interested in you, even if they're constantly throwing up yellow or red flags? Do you let things fizzle with people who don't give you that initial spark? When I was dating (usually unsuccessfully), I tended to use "he's interested in me!" as my primary measure of whether a guy was worth going out with again. If I had to do it over again, I would have far less tolerance the charming-but-issue-laden guys, and give the sort-of-boring ones a little more time to come around. Instant chemistry is not always a good indicator of how a relationship will go.

- You're wanting it too hard. Desperately wanting to be in a relationship is a turn-off, and it can lead to some super-turn-off behaviors. You probably wouldn't be comfortable dating a guy who viewed you primarily as proof that he was worthy of love. People want mates who are already happy and interesting and complete; if you can feel content on your own, you'll be a better draw. And if you can evaluate men without turning them into relationship MacGuffins, you'll have a better sense of when to go and when to stay.

- Dating sucks, and you've just had a run of bad luck. I don't know how to elaborate on this, because dating really does kind of suck, and it can do a number on your self-confidence if you have to keep at it for years.

Regardless of whether any or all of these are at hand (and I really am just spitballing here), if you're able to view yourself with some objectivity while still being kind to yourself (there's a huge difference between "here's something I can improve on" and "here's something I suck at" - from your most recent update, I get the sense that you're having difficulty finding the middle ground between arrogance and self-deprecation) and enjoy a date without worrying about whether he's The One, you'll be in good shape.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2010 [17 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, I'm assertive and confident. I do not fear going out on a limb or looking like a jack ass. I approach and talk to guys most of the time. Though I think some guys have mentioned they like this, I don't see it always working, obviously ;). I do get shot down. I know what it's like to get rejected in multiple, hurtful, humiliating ways. But I do think that some guys may be intimidated by me, too. Some have said that. I've curbed a lot of who I am to find some sort of balance. I know that's not right, but I try to turn down the volume of myself all the time to "fit" but that doesn't always work, either. I need to get better at finding balance more appropriately.
posted by boostershot at 7:08 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Haha, and wow! I wish I didn't write this so late at night. I am embarrassed that everyone thinks I'm arrogant. Maybe I am giving off that vibe. That's horrible! And something I don't want to give off at all. Trust me, I'm no model or nobel peace prize winner. I was just trying to piece together a snapshot. I don't walk around arrogantly at all or act that way. I am a confident gal, but I don't have that spray-painted on my upturned collar. I feel that comes out in conversation and action. And for the most part, it's other people who have given me these compliments (ie: smart, pretty, etc) so I'm using that to describe myself. I'm actually very humble and nice, but describing myself positively sounds arrogant. And since this post is essentially "about me" I'm sure that doesn't help when I'm saying "I" a lot. I don't know what else to say about that. I don't want to apologize for trying to stay positive about myself, but I also don't want it to get twisted that I'm some sort of a vain monster or something.
posted by boostershot at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2010

Best answer: So, first off, not to be harsh, but it's not just bad luck. You sort of seem to believe your "on-paper" characteristics automatically equal Loveable. You may be as wonderful as you say, and it's great that you feel good about yourself, but that can be misread. I'd tone that down. Importantly, I was having trouble "hearing" you in your original post and getting a true sense of the issues, until this comment.

I've attempted to hold hands with previous dates, but I once got shaken off by this guy claiming he hated hand holding, so it scares me to make the first move on that now. His actions embarrassed me and made me feel stupid so I am just hoping someone takes my hand one day.

There's something odd and tone-deaf about it. I can't for the life of me imagine "attempting" to hold hands with someone I'm not already sure wants to hold my hand, and worse, being shaken off. I mean, you don't really try for that -- hand-holding is a pretty intimate gesture -- you don't do it until you've already gotten to that place of comfort and closeness. Maybe you have like a relationship Aspergers thing, in that you can't read what's appropriate at what stage. Maybe you are talking too soon about how great you are, maybe you are assuming that all the qualities you list out above are the perfect combination for everyone rather than just one special one, maybe you are not allowing others to see the flaws and imperfections and quirks that make us ourselves, and maybe you are not paying enough attention to whom you are dating (flakey, alcoholic, married, tied down with kids) in your attempt to get out there.

I think you need to Just. Stop. No more dating, six months. Try to block out other couples, don't go to dating sites, stay away from romantic comedies and silly love songs. Really put yourself on a Dating Diet. Burrow inside a little bit. Go to therapy, the gym, examine what's going on with your career, learn something new, hang out with friends and family (and when the topic turns to men, smile with authority and authenticity and say "Next topic!").

It's not easy, the first few months kind of suck, but it is possible and it will lead you to a different way of presenting yourself because you will be a little bit different. Good luck.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:32 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: boostershot, I don't think you're necessarily coming across as too aggressive or too confident. But I'm wondering if you are, simply, very intimidating. From your description, you sound very well-rounded and desirable - maybe too much so? The rest of us mere mortals want someone confident, certainly, but confident because they're real and have worked through some of life's issues and come out better on the other side. You may very well have done this - I certainly hope so - but that's not coming across so well in your writings above. It sounds more like your confidence is built on having ticked off/amassed desirable attributes/experiences, if that makes sense. You don't have to dumb yourself down, and you don't have to pretend you're less than you are (please don't!) - but you may want to let the chink in your armor show a little.

I also second the posters above who said that being a good listener who never interrupts can sometimes, paradoxically, come across as being uninterested. You may want to engage a little more during the conversation and see how that works. To me, it sounds like the combination of very confident + pretty and well off etc + unengaged listener = cold or superficial woman out of most people's league.

The last thing I'm going to say is that frankly, I very much doubt that you've just been extremely unlucky and meeting all the wrong people. If you've really been dating as wide of a cross-section as you say, then the common denominator is you and there's something about you that is sabotaging your potential relationships.

Good luck. You will absolutely figure this out. Happy 2011!
posted by widdershins at 7:36 AM on December 31, 2010 [7 favorites]

Don't worry about the mefites trying to knock you down a peg.

Back in my single lady days I was talking to a friend of mine about a string of bad idea dudes I had dated. Like you, I was feeling rather wtf is wrong with me? As I was beating myself up over this, my friend said to me, "Have you considered that maybe you weren't the problem in those equations?"
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

OP, I don't think you sound arrogant at all. You sound more like you're trying to be aware of your own good qualities in a culture that doesn't want you to without external validation.
posted by westerly at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2010 [22 favorites]

This is a total long shot and may not apply to you at all, but I had this problem until I realized I was into women. It literally took me years of never feeling really deeply for any guy, and now I am falling hard for people (female people) all the time. It feels liberating and scary and wonderful.
posted by whalebreath at 7:47 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Haha, and wow! I wish I didn't write this so late at night. I am embarrassed that everyone thinks I'm arrogant. Maybe I am giving off that vibe. That's horrible!

On the Internet—and in real life—lots of people react badly to people who present themselves favorably. Particularly women get this! So I would not listen too hard to these comments. (Though perhaps you are a narcissist! No idea!)

I don't know what the "problem" is with your dating life—and there may not be one! You are by far and away not the first straight woman in her 30s in a big city that I have heard this from, not at all!—but I do know that people hate confident people who describe themselves in glowing terms.

I can also tell you that dating men in their 30s—including in Chicago, when I was younger—involved dating a lot of losers (sorry!), a lot of stealth losers (secret alcoholic, yes!) and a lot of guys who just weren't present. And also some really wonderful people who weren't a match. (And to be fair, from their perspectives, sometimes I was the loser or the stealth-loser or the one who wasn't available or focused.)

But in solidarity, I can tell you that I'm a smart, successful, confident, good-lucking fun person who is a great listener and adventurous and an all-around good time. (I have my flaws too! Don't get me wrong! I'm a slob and I'm bad at keeping up with friends and I overcommit and some other things, etc.!) But I have to reiterate that you are getting weird feedback here—which is only reasonable, as this is the Internet and we don't know you and can't see you—and I think a lot of it is projection, or at least fitting you into a model of peoplehood that people have experienced which may not fit.

Also in solidarity, I can tell you that I didn't get engaged until I was 38. And, you know, I'm totally awesome.

In short, to your answer: we don't know. But we do all know that the answer to your question of "will I be alone forever" is "no." I'm glad you want to shake things up a bit. When things aren't working out, you try something new. Move, change jobs, shave your head, whatever—shaking it up is always a good idea.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:47 AM on December 31, 2010 [11 favorites]

You don't make an arrogant impression on me. Instead your comments in this post sound insecure. It seems you are really busy with thinking about how you are, and who you are, and how other people see you. You might not have any headspace left to think about other people, and that can lead to misreading signs from men you date and to seeing what you want to see instead of what's actually there.

I also don't think this is bad luck. If you've been in therapy for awhile, maybe consider starting group therapy to answer some of these questions you ask here. Discuss it with your therapist, who should be able to help you find a suitable interpersonal relationships focused group. Good luck!
posted by Shusha at 7:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [5 favorites]

I'm sorry you're lonely. That really sucks.

I'm 15 years into a very happy marriage (with lots of hand-holding). I've noticed a difference between my history and the history of my single friends. When I was dating, I looked for friendship. Many of my peers looked for "the spark." I don't blame them. That's how romantic movies teach us to date. But if there's one thing I've learned to distrust, it's the phrase, "We don't have chemistry" (and also "we have chemistry") when uttered after the first date (or even the fifth).

I'm not smarter than my friends. I just got lucky by being unlucky. Unlike you, I'm not gorgeous. I'm a nerd. I'm flattered that you date guys like me, but, back when I was in the dating pool, women like you were few and far between. The chances of a spark happening between me and a date were slim. I was the "why can't my boyfriend be like you" guy. Which, though I hated it at the time, was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Why does it keep taking you a while, after you've already been dating these guys, to find out that they're alcoholics or still sleeping with their ex wives? Is it because you start dating guys before you're friends with them? (I know that's the norm. But that doesn't mean the norm works for all people.) My wife and I were best friends for a year before we even started dating, before we so much as kissed. By the time it became romantic, she didn't have many secrets I didn't already know. And if it hadn't become a romance ... well ... I would still have had a great friend.

Meanwhile, I know SO many people who have lousy relationships with people they sparked with right away? Some are in unhappy marriages that include kids. Ugh. How did they get in these messes? Chemistry. Instant attraction blinded them to other, more meaningful stuff.

What does "chemistry" mean? I'm not belittling it. I have great chemistry with my wife and I've had it with a few other women. But what it means when you first meet someone is attraction-to-surface-details. Not necessarily just physical attraction, but also attraction to someone's attitude, clothes, political views, career, wit, etc. All those things are fine, but they're not very deep and don't have much to do with lasting, hand-holding relationships. In any case, when you first meet someone -- even after you've gone on three dates with him -- what CAN "chemistry" mean other than attraction-to-surface-details?

I know you say that you DON'T have chemistry with some of these guys. But, in a way, that's the same problem. You're basing a lot on whether or not you have a spark really early on. I may have misread you, but it sounds like your pattern is...

a) first few dates with no spark, dump him.
b) first few dates with spark, don't learn enough about him to notice he's a deadbeat.

People mistakenly think that physical attraction MUST be there at first or it never comes. It probably took months for my wife be to attracted to me. And I've certainly met women that I didn't find attractive for a long time. If you're like most people, you can have chemistry with almost anyone you like, even if you don't at first.

Though I was somewhat of an oddball to think this way in my teens and 20s, now that I'm middle aged, I'm finding more and more of my peers have come round to the same view. So don't expect a guy to fall in love with you quickly. Work towards friendship first.

One more thing: you turned some people here off, because you described yourself as beautiful, generous and rich. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you did that to help explain your problem ("Hey, I've got all this good stuff going on! Why aren't men more into me?") But PLEASE don't say things like that in real life. It's a HUGE HUGE HUGE turnoff.

I'm a little concerned, because you didn't even add a disclaimer. Most people, in your shoes, would have written "I'm embarrassed to toot my own horn, but, being as objective as I can be, I would classify myself as attractive..." You didn't do this. You just made it seem like your beauty was an undeniable fact. Maybe you think it is. Maybe other people have told you you're beautiful. Maybe you turn heads. Whatever. No one likes egoists, so don't broadcast this stuff.

It can also backfire and make you seem like you're lacking in confidence. Most people who are confidently beautiful or rich (and certainly most people who are generous) don't ever talk about it, because they don't need to. Your post comes across as "the lady doth protest too much, methinks." When I hear, "I'm beautiful," I have an urge to ask, "Why do you think you're ugly?"

(I assume you're smart and worldly enough to understand that men don't turn their heads because they see a beautiful woman. I mean, that's ONE of the reasons they do it. But they also do it because they see an ass in a tight pair of jeans or whatever. I've seen women with super plain faces turn heads. All it takes is a short skirt, big boobs or whatever. Many of us men respond to pretty broad cues. I'm not doubting your beauty. It's just that I see an odd tension in your post between claims that you aren't hung up on surface details and -- yet -- a lot of talk about surface details, like physical beauty and money.)

And -- PLEASE -- we're in the middle of a dismal economy in which many people are out of work. Avoid saying things like "I make gobs of money." It sounds like you're lighting cigars with hundred-dollar bills. Instant turnoff.
posted by grumblebee at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2010 [49 favorites]

I am embarrassed that everyone thinks I'm arrogant. Maybe I am giving off that vibe.


And, you are not listening. Look at what you are marking as best answers vs the answers that are collecting favourites here. Certainly there is nice advice in what you have marked, but.

You wrote "Since then, I've bloomed." Nah... Look, I'm 35, too. And I'm lovely! I am a much, much nicer person than I was in my 20s. Also a snappier dresser and so on and on. But, far from perfect. This's part of a process. I can't wait for my 40s -- it's mind-blowing to think how much better I'll be in another ten years; there's still plenty of crap about me for me to finally notice and finally jettison. You are still blooming.

Humility is not about self-deprecation. You haven't figured that out yet, so whatever humility is there is not coming through. Are you at all spiritual? Not necessary, but religious teachings can be useful for this sort of thing. Quick Googles for "Buddha humility" and "Jesus humility" will bring up some great quotations. It's not about putting yourself down or hiding your accomplishments. But it does involve not being intimidating.

You: "It's a struggle to not be paralyzed by depression." I have a dear friend who wobbles back and forth between arrogance and depression. He doesn't mean to be arrogant, just: "But, these are facts." However, nobody wants to hear them as he lists them off. And then when he is not musing on his accomplishments, he is an unhappy person who can be difficult to get on with because he is so busy beating himself up, and then as a consequence of being beat up, he becomes rather needy and self-centered. Is there a chance you are teetering back and forth on the same...totter? Are you insecure?

Again, there are things here that are just not going together as one would expect. Lots of friends, very lonely. Very confident...struggling to not be depressed? Why depressed with "I'm funny, smart, beautiful. I make good money and have a lot of friends"? What sort of feedback are you getting from your therapist on these things? If it is just head-scratching it is likely time for a new therapist.

Do view it all as part of the process. Thirty-five is still pretty young. Again: still blooming! Nothing going on right now is something you need hang on to for another decade if it doesn't suit.
posted by kmennie at 8:03 AM on December 31, 2010 [14 favorites]

Your profile gines your real name, and that's something you may want to rethink. To me, you sound a bit like you're so self-sufficent and active, that most of your friends just assume that you're A-OK, and don't need to be fixed up with guys or indeed, need any help with anything. While being able to take care of yourself or make your own fun are great characteristics, you might take a hard look at yourself, and wonder if you've built such a formidible facade (she's daring, resourceful, bold!) that no guy wants to try to see what's behind the social mask. Being able to show your vulnerability is a key to inviting love, I think.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:10 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: To me, you sound a bit like you're so self-sufficent and active, that most of your friends just assume that you're A-OK, and don't need to be fixed up with guys or indeed, need any help with anything. ... Being able to show your vulnerability is a key to inviting love, I think


I'd like to see a list of five things you think are wrong with you. (Of course, I don't really expect you to post that list here.) And "I can't get a boyfriend" and "I seem to come across as arrogant in this thread" don't count, because those aren't things that are wrong with you. Those are things that are happening to you.

You are seriously claiming that you can't imagine why no one (except losers) wants to date a perfect person like you. I doubt you really think that, but that's what you're literally saying. How can anyone help you if you don't open up about who you really are? (And, again, "I may intimidate people" is not an answer. That's (a) talking about other people and not you and (b) giving yourself a left-handed compliment.)

If you'd like to open up this way but can't ("I honestly can't think of ANYTHING about me that might be unattracive"), that's worse! THAT'S what you need to work on in therapy. That means you really, really don't know yourself. I've never met a perfect person.

I'm a smart, generous, loving funny guy, but here are five things that are wrong with me:

1. I am sometimes mean to people who haven't done anything wrong.
2. I'm jealous of people who are more attractive than me.
3. I am scared to take risks.
4. I worry over nothing.
5. I don't "give back" nearly as much as I know I should. (e.g. I'm selfish with my time and money.)

You come across as either someone who couldn't make a list like this (inhuman) or someone who could but wouldn't, because she wants to wear an "I'm perfect" mask. Both of these sorts of people are unattractive.

Of course, I'm not suggesting you go on dates and talk about how fucked up you are. But you need to find a way to show that you're human and vulnerable. And if you think vulnerable is the opposite of confident, you don't understand what confidence is.
posted by grumblebee at 8:29 AM on December 31, 2010 [20 favorites]

Response by poster: I agree- humility is not about self-deprecation. However, I'm not typically insecure and I'm not like your friend you describe, Kmennie. It's not one way or the other. It may not make sense to you, but yes, I still am lonely despite having friends. I'd like to experience love with someone special in my life. That's my point. When I am lonely, sure, I call up a buddy and go get coffee. Or I go read a book or go to a movie. The point I'm trying to make is that I've struggled with trying to find a special relationship in my life and I am trying to find out why. So, I am trying a few things. Therapy, alone time, being with good friends, turning to metafilter, journaling, exercising, going online, joining meetup groups, etc. It may just end up being timing and needing more self reflection. Who knows? I'm not saying I'm perfect and I'm not trying to come across as arrogant on the internet when I say positive things about myself. I am mainly saying these things to outline that I'm not a complete loser or messy slob who is falling apart at the seams. Yes, I learn as I go, like you. And yes, I do consider it a part of the process. I've favorited the answers where I felt I got something out of it- and no, they aren't all rosy.

Thanks, Ideefixe. I took down my real name.
posted by boostershot at 8:32 AM on December 31, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, grumblebee. It's hard to get into specifics. I think some people hopped on the "Boostershot is just plain arrogant" train and I've been trying to defend myself instead of explaining more detail. I'm sorta scared to now- haha :) However, I realized that I wrote it and everything is up for interpretation. I'll try to be more specific and less defensive. I think I'm pretty down to earth and easy to talk to and other folks would say the same. I"m not this harsh lady with a wall built around me that can't relate and open up on a date. In fact, it's the opposite. Maybe that's a problem? haha, who knows...

Here are 5 things I think are wrong with me that I'm trying to work on:
1. My patience runs short
2. I take things too personally sometimes
3. I take a long time to "get over it"
4. I reveal too much (in real life)
5. I tend to spend a lot of time on things that don't need that sort of attention. I don't move on quickly enough, in other words.
posted by boostershot at 8:44 AM on December 31, 2010

Best answer: I am a guy, and can speak for others. I dont care if a girl is beautiful -- I care if she is fun and vibrant. I don't care if she is smart, I care if she is balanced and sane. I don't care if she is successful, I care that she considers me successful. I don't care if she is funny, I care that she laughs at my jokes.
posted by blargerz at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: And I apologize for the "gobs of money" comment I made earlier. To give it context, I've lost 3 jobs in one year (I don't know how I can prove this, but I have). I've spent a year unemployed and scraping by. I know what this economy is like. I've managed to plow through and find a job that is generous in salary. But I surely went through f'ing hell getting there. I sold my car, downgraded my apt, sold off furniture and jewelry on Ebay, etc. I'm just relieved I have a job now and feel lucky that i'm not pay-check to pay-check (at the moment). This could all change in the drop of a hat. Was this humiliating to lose 3 jobs in one year? You bet your ass. I got fired from two (it happens a lot in my industry) and the other had little funds to go on. I count my lucky stars every day that I found employment.

I grew up in an Army family of nine. We did not have a lot of money growing up, despite my dad being a military doctor. We lived in free housing and all the kids shared ONE bedroom. Sometimes if we were lucky when we moved, we got a bigger house where then the girls would get a bedroom and the boys would get their own room (think Brady Bunch). I never got new clothes, my parents did not spoil any of us. If anything, we got lost in the swarm and felt neglected. This is outrageous to even think about now, but I learned a lot at a young age. I moved to 7 different countries by the time I was 10. And sure this may sound unbelievable, but it's probably why I'm having issues as an adult? I definitely account for it.

I got my first job when I was 14 and have been working ever since. I worked full-time throughout college and paid for it myself. So... I do understand what it's like to work your ass off for a buck and still do it now. I shouldn't have said "Gobs of money". I just shouldn't have. I shouldn't have said a lot of things, as now, I feel pretty stupid about posting this at all.
posted by boostershot at 8:58 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

As a 37yr old single man.. I can totally identify with a lot of the angles/frustrations you are feeling. Here are some of my observations/comments as I read down through this thread:

1.) The way you describe yourself and people getting the impression you are conceited/arrogant.

First, let me say:.. I don't think you come off as "arrogant" or "full of yourself". To me, your description and comments seem pretty clear/accurate. You sound like a fun, capable and radiant human being. (not without faults of course, but self-actualized enough to recognize them and still put your best foot forward in spite of them). That's awesome.. and you should feel good about reaching that point in your growth as a human being. IE = don't listen to the naysayers. Continue being awesome ;)

BUT… there are 2 "pitfalls" (that I've experienced constantly too).. and I'm not sure how to tell you to avoid them.

……A) the general public will (likely) interpret your radiance as arrogance. This is unfortunate and extremely difficult to avoid. It forces you to walk a really thin line of trying to continue to be awesome, but also not offend anyones delicate sensibilities or come off as insulting or condescending. You end up constantly double-guessing your impulses and holding back at moments when you really should radiate outward.

……B) With regard to the dating scene specifically:… I've noticed potential dates will withdraw or shy away from someone who appears "superior". The unfortunate truth is… most people are "average".. and looking for a MATCHING partner. (someone else who is "average"). If you're a rockstar confident adult who travels and tangos and knows multiple languages,etc,etc.. That's awesome = but it also effectively eliminates about 90% of the available dating pool for you. (IE = it's lonely at the top)

2.) Demographics and the "good" 30-somethings already being taken.

I looked at your MeFi profile.. and it says "Chicago"… so at least you're in big city. (in my case, I'm in a relatively small city of only 150,000 and its dominated by 2 groups: college kids (not my scene) and families (also not my scene).. so the dating scene here for single-30's is pretty much non-existent. I'd really love to move to a big city,. but am not yet at a point to cut my career and re-establish somewhere else.

The other thing you have to keep in mind:… by the time most people reach their mid-30's.. they are either: 1.) already taken… or 2.) been through enough crashed relationships to become pretty jaded and cynical. Not saying it's hopeless… but the odds get much much lower. (see my next comment). This is probably the reason you notice more creeps and weirdos … because there is some truth to the fact that by the time you reach your 30's, available creeps and weirdos DO outnumber available "Mr Rights".

3.) Expectations for "Mr Perfect".

As I mentioned before.. one of the problems I've run into quite a bit is potential dates saying to me: "You sound to good to be true." (IE = they simply can't believe that someone at my age can be: well-adjusted, single, no "baggage", no kids,etc…. without assuming there must be something wrong with me, or that I'm trying to trick them some how).

I haven't yet figured out how to "fix" that problem. I am who I am, and I try to be as humble, honest, transparent and self-deprecating as possible. (while at the same time being confident, self-assured, resourceful, intelligent = the attributes I assume attract the person I'm looking for).

Good Luck !? ….
posted by jmnugent at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]

> "I feel pretty stupid about posting this at all."

Constructive introspection is nothing to feel stupid about.
posted by jmnugent at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Saying you have shitty luck with dudes and listing things that other people think are your positive qualities is not the same thing as thinking you are perfect. Like, at ALL.

I agree. I was pointing out that her original post said, "Here are a bunch of good things about me. Given those things, how come I don't have a date?" That's not a well-rounded picture, which makes it hard to be helpful.

Here are 5 things I think are wrong with me that I'm trying to work on:

It's nice to see that you ARE human, boostershot. Wanna hold hands? Oh, wait. I'm married. (If I wasn't married, I wouldn't want to date the person who wrote your original post. But I'd be more interested having read that AND your latest post.)

Seriously, I didn't expect a list here. What's more important is whether or not you feel comfortable letting these things show when you're on dates. I don't mean "do you act impatient on dates?" I hope you don't. I mean "do you feel comfortable letting a date know that you're the sort of person who isn't alway patient?"

I've been trying to defend myself

Again, I'm wondering if you're a defensive person. Defensive people are, by nature, scared of being vulnerable. Are you scared to be vulnerable on dates.

Finally... Ugh... I hate to pick at your list, but I'm going to. Why? Because I still think you're putting up walls. Please DON'T feel the need to go further here. It's none of our business. But I'm worried you think of yourself as vulnerable when you're not.

(When I was in therapy, I thought I'd been really open with my therapist. But after a year, she said, "I don't think you trust me very much." I asked why she thought that. She said, "Because you never tell me anything really personal about yourself." And she was right. I didn't get it consciously at the time. I thought I WAS opening up. But it was like I was opening a huge book and only showing her the first page.)

1. My patience runs short
-- Whose doesn't?

2. I take things too personally sometimes
-- We all do.

3. I take a long time to "get over it"
-- Everyone does this.

4. I reveal too much (in real life)
-- Everyone does this, too.

5. I tend to spend a lot of time on things that don't need that sort of attention. I don't move on quickly enough, in other words.
-- This too.

In other words, though this list is a good start, it's a bit like one of those horoscopes that could apply to anyone "You sometimes withhold from people, but you are usually generous...." Or like how people respond in a job interview when asked about their weaknesses: "I sometimes work too hard. I get unhappy if my co workers are mean to me..."

I have now read a LOT of verbiage about you, but this is the picture I get: an attractive, successful woman who has no major bad qualities. She's sometimes impatient, just like anyone.

Who are YOU?

I am not trying to goad you into listing bad stuff about yourself. Good stuff or bad stuff, I am trying to goad you to reveal YOURSELF. Not to me. But to someone. If this is not happening in therapy, then get a new therapist. You're never going to learn why you're not in a relationship if you don't open up about yourself. I get the feel that you think you ARE opening up about yourself, and maybe others in this thread think you are. But I don't.

Maybe the next step would be for you to write another list, which you don't have to post here, that centers around your relationships with other people. "I take a long time to 'get over it'" isn't about how you relate to other people. It gets somewhere in the vicinity, but it's in a suburb rather than downtown in the city.

Here's the sort of thing I'm talking about (but about me).

1. I am terrified of being abandoned, so I tend to cling to people or not risk getting into relationships with them at all.

2. I am not all that generous with my stuff. I don't alway share when I should.

3. I get jealous of people who are more attractive than me and sometimes choose to not hang around them.

4. I need reinforcement that I'm smart and attractive, and I sometimes do passive-aggressive things to get it.

5. Although I can be insecure, I have a streak of entitlement. Part of me wants to be friends with "the smart set." If someone is too ordinary, a snobbish part of me doesn't want to be associated with him.

I urge you to NOT post a list like this here -- at least not quickly, just to prove you can do it. Rather, spend some time thinking about it.
posted by grumblebee at 9:13 AM on December 31, 2010 [9 favorites]

As a guy I am going to make a short note having skimmed the thread: I get the distinct impression that you say things to your dates that make dating you sound like a lot of work.

This just sounds like you have excessive expectations and a tendency to crave things you can describe breathlessly:

I just got back from a solo journey to Argentina. I hiked the glaciers in El Calafate, danced the tango in Buenos Aires, went white water rafting.

I am well traveled; I would never describe ANY of my trips with this travel company advertisement sort of text... It does not come across as arrogant, it comes across as phony.
posted by rr at 9:16 AM on December 31, 2010 [10 favorites]

I've lost 3 jobs in one year (I don't know how I can prove this, but I have). I've spent a year unemployed and scraping by. I know what this economy is like.

boostershot, I hope I'm not coming across as an asshole. I care. I really do. I've been so lonely in my life. I know what it's like.

But PLEASE stop being defensive. It's okay if people in this thread think you're arrogant. It really is. They'll all move on tomorrow, and next time you post to MeFi, they won't think, "Ugh. That arrogant girl!"

You are focusing more on defending yourself than listening to people. It's normal to jump to your own defense, but just stop. Just go zen. Listen to all the opinions here, even the ones you think are wrong. Maybe the have a grain of truth in them. If they don't, so what?
posted by grumblebee at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

In other words, you're say, "Why can't I get a date? What's wrong with me?"

And then when people tell you what they think is wrong with you, you say, "THAT'S NOT TRUE!"

A lot of it's probably not true. We're strangers on the Internet. But you'll never get to the truth via defensiveness.

"I feel pretty stupid about posting this at all."

I understand. I would be embarrassed to. But you know what? You're human. Humans get lonely. Humans aren't perfect. Thank you for posting this. It will help others in your shoes. I hope it winds up helping you, too.
posted by grumblebee at 9:23 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, this is actually very helpful, and I greatly appreciate it. It's hard not to feel defensive, but yes, I asked for opinions, so let' er rip! Hehe. Frankly, any insight is important, and I sorta feel like marking everything as the 'best' answer. Good and bad, it's pretty interesting to hear this and despite that I think a lot of opinions out there don't ring true with me, I still take it into account and will think about it.

I do speak flowery about fun things I've done that I am proud of (that Argentina trip was a trip of a lifetime and i'm still geeking on it) but rr made a good point. I don't typically speak like that in real life, but with that phony comment, I'll take that into account, for sure! Phonies are a phobia of mine and it freaks me out that I would come across as such. But seriously, thanks for pointing that out.
posted by boostershot at 9:35 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of the 12 women I know who married men after age 35, 8 of them met their husbands through online dating or newspaper/magazines personal ads.

One met her husband at a professional conference; one met her husband at work; one met her husband at a place of worship; one met her husband through mutual friends.

Online dating isn't a tool you should discard just because people in this thread tell you to discard it. There are definitely men on there looking for long-term relationships and marriage.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:42 AM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My armchair analysis of you (and my bona fides here are that I got married for the first time at age 34) is that you are so invested in trying to be perfect that it's hard for people to get to know you. Hence the narrative that sounds more like advertising copy, the workaholism, the blah blah blah.

Also, I forgot one woman I know who married for the first time at age 36; she met her husband because they were neighbors in a large condo complex. You remind me a bit of her, between the crazy work hours (she's an ER doc) and the love of adventure travel (she's been all over the world doing super-fun things). She's also very attractive, very smart, a really good-hearted person, a loving aunt, daughter, and sister. But her life was so busy that none of her relationships really "took" until she met the right guy by complete chance.

The thing is that she didn't stress about it, she just kept doing her stuff and this very nice guy happened along. She has two sisters, one of whom married her college sweetheart (they fell in love during Freshman Orientation) and the other of whom is 45 and unmarried, but open to marriage if the right guy came along.

If you were my friend, I would tell you to get to know the shyest and nerdiest of the single men who were involved in the tango community. Really draw them out. Don't try to be perfect or interview them like you were Katie Couric, but be as awkward and nerdy as your inner self wants to be. If you get rejected, you get rejected; so what? YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. The whole thing about never holding hands because it bugged one guy feels really significant to me.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:49 AM on December 31, 2010 [10 favorites]

I am definitely not answering with advice, maybe more of a shared perspective in some aspects of what you are going through and with some questions you might want to ask yourself, as I have been asking them of myself lately too.

Some background: I am 35, single (never married), career oriented, driven and although I have been in relationships where the L-word has been thrown around, after they are over it seems obvious in the post-game analysis what felt like love probably wasn't. Unlike you, I would not categorize myself as beautiful or even of average attractiveness, so a lot of my reflecting on why I don't have love centers around not being "good enough" to be a partner, but good enough to sleep with behind closed doors.

Issues of attractiveness aside, I do wonder if there is something inside me/some people that keeps them single without being a huge red flag. I do not carry a flashing sign that says: NOT READY FOR A REAL RELATIONSHIP, but what I get from dating is that I'm fun for a little while but not the type someone wants to settle down with. If I had a dollar for every guy who went on to marry the girl he dated right after me, I would be rich enough to buy us all tacos.

The big areas of my life that I think seem to negatively influence my relationship status are:
1. Career... I know I have turned men off by being a slave to my job and not always being on the ready to see them and put my work down.
2. Independence... I grew up with a single mom and 2 little sisters. We did not rely on a man to help us, we figured out a way to handle just about any problem on our own. I have been told this is offputting to some men who feel like they want to caretake/rescue. (I'm really sorry if the generalities here are offensive... obviously this is not true of everyone!!)
3. Expecations... Maybe not having a father figure around messed up my sense of reality, but I can tell in less than 3 dates that I don't want to pursue something if there are signs of any of the following: alcoholism/drug addiction, anger issues, irresponsibility/lack of maturity that manifests in things like court issues, bankruptcy, being fired, etc. Maybe I miss out on a lot of potential because I'm shutting some people down and those people will eventually grow into the person I want, but I can't bring myself to accept it yet.

This will probably bring a lot of groans, but there is a line in the Sex and the City movie that I am starting to think is the root of my singledom. Samantha is breaking up with her boyfriend and says something like "I loved him, but not as much as I love myself." I don't think she meant it narcissistically... I think she just really knows herself and her high expectations and that realistically love is not going to be an easy thing for her to succeed in.

Last thing, I promise... sometimes all the noise in our heads about what am I doing wrong, why am I such an idiot, I am such a screw up, no wonder no one loves me, ad nauseum, stems from the bar we have made for ourselves being too high to achieve. Then we set bars for others that are too high for them to achieve. Then we are miserable with ourselves and disappointed with others and alone because we suck and they suck.

So - are you sure you really want love when it may be impossible to have that without losing some of who you are, and if you really do want it, can you lower the expectations for yourself and for others?
posted by prettymightyflighty at 11:31 AM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

What Sidhedevil said. Also, use your huge number of friends- tell them you're lonely, straight up. Ask them for coaching and ask them to spread the word to their friends who are single if they think you'll be a decent fit. It's just like job networking.

There was something about doing that for me that really made something click in my brain. I was COMMITTING to finding a relationship, not just dating in a non-committal way and then complaining that nothing worked.

Last spring I ended up dating a guy I'd met years earlier and stayed in touch with on and off very sporatically. He's everything I wasn't looking for, both in lifestyle and age, but really, he's seriously awesome.

Also, as a datapoint, age 35 really sucked for dating because it seemed like 85% of the single guys were single due to a recent debilitating divorce involving kids and a relocating or some other disaster. They were in no kind of place to get into a committed relationship.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:52 AM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I didn't get an inkling of sparks on my first couple dates with the man I'm going to marry; I didn't really until the 5th date. And then everything started to fall into place. I sometimes marvel that I almost said no to our second date...if I had, I wouldn't be marrying the most wonderful man I've ever known.

So my advice is to give men a few dates before cutting them off because the spark is not immediate and powerful. Slow burn vs. quick fireworks? Slow burn is the way I'd go.
posted by Windigo at 12:54 PM on December 31, 2010

rainydayfilms has put her finger on the problem that I, too, have been having with your posts: You come across more as insecure than arrogant to me, but mainly you come across as EXTREMELY inauthentic.

I knew someone who actually talked the way your original post is written. I think she chose to deal with her very deep insecurities and pain through the highly popular cover-up
method of "fake it until you make it" Unfortunately, in her case, forced self-esteem and self-confidence came across as bragging, arrogance, and an often laughable level of self-delusion (she would refer to herself as 'glamorous.' Did you really stop traffic? Really?) To my mind, this is what is causing the extraordinary disconnect which I felt reading your post, especially when contrasted with your previous post. You've been trying so hard to be who you would like to be that you don't know who you actually ARE. This could explain why you have neither fallen in love nor had anyone fall in love with you.
posted by uans at 1:00 PM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

You sound lovely to me. If I were a single guy in your age range, I would totally date you. If you lived near me, I'd like to be your friend.

I had a high powered job in my thirties and met guys through online dating because that was what I had time for. I wasn't finding the right guy but was exercising my dating muscles and having fun. I ultimately met THE ONE at a metafilter meet up in DC and we got married when I was 35. Have you gone to your local metafilter meet ups? Go, go, go to your local metafilter meet ups!

I think you are having a string of bad luck. I don't think there is anything wrong with you. I'm not sure the solution is to take yourself off the market; you need to meet men, not sequester yourself off. (I often wonder where I'd be now if I hadn't made the effort to go out to that bar the night of that metafilter meet up where I met my husband.)

At the same time, if the guys you are dating are hurting you and you need a break, I empathize and agree you should go ahead and do it. I hope you just don't beat yourself up about comments in this thread. I feel like I know you from the way you have described yourself. You aren't a braggart in real life, you are just trying to describe yourself objectively. People and especially women take a lot of crap for doing this. I really don't think there is anything wrong with you, and that on the contrary you sound lovely, and that you just need to meet the right person. Keep believing in yourself! You rock!
posted by onlyconnect at 1:03 PM on December 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're getting a lot of responses because you ask what should be an easy question and everyone is puzzled by why it turns out to be so hard. So they all try to figure it out based on what you say here (which I think is not really the right kind of information, ultimately.) I'm tempted to join in and try and guess too, to the point that, in another incarnation, I'd be compelled to date you just to solve the mystery. And, that's kind of what I think it would take since words don't seem to approach what's actually going on.

Still, I have to try a guess, like the others, so here's mine. I believe your dates don't feel needed enough. You say you're lonely, but would anyone viewing your life from the outside ever guess it if you didn't tell them? If you ignore who took whose hand, who asked who out, etc., do you think your dates feel you're glad to be with them? I mean, not just on the particular occasion, but glad you met them, because just getting to know them has changed you in some unclear way? In other words, reading your words make me feel, in part because you're "doing everything you know you should," that you are too complete and don't need anyone else more than in a maybe-I'm-missing-out sort of way. See, you listen to people's responses and consider their advice, but we're doing problem solving. I don't experience you as needing. That's fine if we're problem solving for real, but dating isn't like that. People want to feel you have a more than superficial need for them, even if only potentially, because, at this point, you've just met. It's relatively easy to ask someone out if rejection is only a minor annoyance. You can decide to take someone's hand to see if it works, but the risk of it not working has to feel more than just that you made a mistake.

This isn't something to fix by acting differently, so it's not immediately useful (if it's even true--it's a guess) but something to explore within yourself. How comfortable are you letting men know you're needy? How comfortable are you letting yourself know? Not "know" as "have the information" but know as a hunger? That's where I'd start.
posted by Obscure Reference at 1:50 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm feeling a little uncomfortable at the people saying, effectively, "don't listen to the haters", because it seems like I'm one of the haters! I'm really not. I tried to make that clear.

I honestly think that, empirically, if you gave a thousand people a paragraph to describe themselves, it would be unlikely to find even one would describe themselves, (without any qualifying phrases like "although I say it myself") in such glowing terms. It's honestly, simply unusual to come across someone who talks about themselves in that way.

So that, and the travel-brochure copy, and the "gobs of money" comment, which you yourself seem embarrassed by, speak to the fact that there's, let's say, a tone-deafness. There's something you don't get about how you come across. Here, it's in writing, and you're assuring us you don't actually talk that way, but I think it's sensible to assume that you have the same tone-deafness about something that you're doing on the dating scene.

This was very interesting to me:
I do think that some guys may be intimidated by me, too. Some have said that. I've curbed a lot of who I am to find some sort of balance. I know that's not right, but I try to turn down the volume of myself all the time to "fit"
are you saying you try to fake being less wonderful than you really are, because you think men will be intimidated by the real you?

Also, as other people have said, if you've gone to a therapist, talked honestly and openly to them, shown them the real you and said "so, why can't I get a boyfriend?" and they say "I dunno, it's a mystery" ... that's not a good therapist.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:31 PM on December 31, 2010 [4 favorites]

Disclosure: I've been a friend of the OP for >15 years. It is with her okey-dokey that I comment in this thread, though we didn't discuss the content of what I'd say.

> Be yourself. Someone will love you for just being yourself.


I hold this opinion, and I tell her this pretty much every time this conversation rears its weird head. I've also told her quite a few times that she's beautiful, funny, smart, cool, etc., so maybe I'm partly responsible for her matter-of-factness about that one. But hey, it's true. She's not supermodel-hot, and I know she doesn't think she is; she's pretty -- beautiful hair, gorgeous eyes, and she photographs consistently well, which is something I wish I could do just once in my lifetime!

And she's also not exaggerating her good qualities when she says she's funny. She's a comedic writer who can make me pee my pants at times, and it's something I adore about her. She has a truly infectious giggle, which is what drew me to her initially. Does she overstate things and get flowery with the language when she's talking? Yeah. She's a storyteller, and it makes her storytelling all the better. It bleeds over into normal conversation at times I've noticed, but I kind of like it. To me, this is the heart of who she is -- an artist. I've never known a comedic sort that didn't do that, so to my way of thinking that's fine, and I expect it. If it's a flaw, maybe I enable it because I overlook it. I could see it confusing or weirding people out though, now that I'm thinking about it.

I dunno, boostershot, maybe tone that down a little when talking to a new guy. Maybe they get intimidated when they sense that you can stand, unafraid, and talk to a whole room, and actually hold everyone's attention (cuz girl, that's uncommon among the rest of us). Maybe they freak out that they're not as engaging/funny, so they won't be able to make you laugh. Maybe they don't think they're on equal footing with you because you can be over-the-top hilarious and really super outgoing. I dunno, but those are all possibilities at times, I'm sure.

I'm not recommending that you ditch the giggly, funny, goofy parts of yourself at all when out on a date, but I'd recommend toning it down initially, then easing them into it. We (our friends) also tend to have a pretty harsh/TMI sense of humor a lot of the time. I don't know if you do this, but I've found that when I let that shit fly with other people it sometimes backfires. I'm more careful about that than I used to be. If he seems like the kind of guy who won't be traumatized by my humor I'll proceed with caution, but I don't talk to relative strangers like I do to my friends anymore. It seems obvious in retrospect, but damn if it didn't take me a good, long while to learn from that mistake.

As to the serious: you're a good listener -- far better than I am, for sure -- and you respond thoughtfully in serious conversation. It's something I admire about you. You do get snippy with me from time to time in situations I don't think warrant it, but you recognize that. (Stop that.) And don't do that with guys on dates, if you do, which I doubt. You also do take things to heart at times, as you said in this thread, and I see you get your feelings hurt when you feel rejected, but I can't tell you how to get over that one, as much as I would love to be able to. I can hug you when I see it happen though. I was a neglected kid too, and I think that one just takes tons of time. Fucking families, man...

Finally, I tend to agree with the poster who mentioned the moving-around and losing friends so much as a kid. I really do. Interesting that the other two friends we hang with together the most are both former military kids, too. And we are a very forgiving lot -- we overlook a lot of social conventions that, for lack of a good descriptor, better socially adjusted people find rude. I hadn't considered it before, but it makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, we all detach from uncomfortable situations with some ease. Are you detaching prematurely from these "bad" dates? Give that a little thought. I've caught myself doing it in the past. Maybe these guys aren't good at putting their very best foot forward on a first date, and you're writing them off. Maybe they're insecure in some little way, and first dates bring it out, and you're just dismissing them out of hand. Dunno, but it's something to mull over, perhaps.

I hope you're okay with this more personal response to your question. If you're not, just hit the "Contact" link way down at the bottom right of this page, ask, and Jessamyn will delete my response from this thread.

It'll happen. Just keep being the bright, sunny, vibrant girl that I know and love. He's out there. Maybe he just hasn't moved to Chicago yet because of the GODDAMN weather. He'll find you, and he'll get you the way we all get you.

Then we'll all get together and roast a pig, laughing about that one time you wrote an AskMe and then threadsat like it was your JOB, and then you got all defensive, but then you recovered. Remember that?! Then remember how you sat down and kept re-reading all the responses until the lightbulb appeared above your head? And then you were all like, "wtf was I thinking? Why was I stressing out about drunks that didn't like me, married losers who didn't pan out, and all those anonymous jerkoffs from that cupid site who only wanted to befriend me so that they could send me *yawn* photographs of their very run-of-the-mill penises? What was I thinking?!" Then we'll all toss back good beer and run out to spend your gobs of money on more good beer. (!)
posted by heyho at 2:38 PM on December 31, 2010 [17 favorites]

I think you need to raise your standards. I am attractive and assertive and I got REALLY sick of people telling me I was too intimidating and acting insecure. So now I actively seek out people who are not intimidated by much of anything for friendship and dating. I am dating a much more conventionally attractive alpha-type male than I ever have before and it's been great. He's very secure, very good looking and kind of cocky. In the past I would have thought he was a bit much but in fact he's perfect for me. Neither one of us is particularly impressed by each others looks or general fantastic-ness, which is very relaxing for both of us. We both independently do a lot of stuff that interests the other and that gives us something to talk about all the time.

Finally, I know it's 2010 and all but men still want a partner that they fell equal to or better than in terms of earning power, looks and general awesomeness and will get very weird if they don't feel they measure up. So set your sights high.
posted by fshgrl at 2:48 PM on December 31, 2010 [6 favorites]

I dunno, boostershot, maybe tone that down a little when talking to a new guy. Maybe they get intimidated when they sense that you can stand, unafraid, and talk to a whole room, and actually hold everyone's attention (cuz girl, that's uncommon among the rest of us). Maybe they freak out that they're not as engaging/funny, so they won't be able to make you laugh. Maybe they don't think they're on equal footing with you because you can be over-the-top hilarious and really super outgoing. I dunno, but those are all possibilities at times, I'm sure.

IMHO, it's not worth trying to have a relationship with a man who feels that way about you. They will always be insecure and it will keep coming up. Now a guy who appreciates your skills and is proud of them but also has mad skills of his own that he's totally secure in is a keeper. He will understand you without feeling compelled to compete with you.

Although cooking dinner is becoming a competitive sport around here. Jeez.
posted by fshgrl at 2:57 PM on December 31, 2010 [3 favorites]

heyho's post came just as I was pondering something I wanted to add, and it confirmed a lot of things.

"From a large family" and "moved around a lot as a kid" are very solid markers, in my book, for people who grow up to be performers. And heyho's confirmed that view of you as a friend. And a lot of performers kind of don't know how to be themselves, don't know how to stop being "on" all the time.

And dates are, of course, performances. So you go out there and perform. And you've said yourself, if I read it correctly, that you modulate your performance so that guys won't be intimidated.

But long-term relationships aren't performances, they're about being yourself. By the time you get to the comfortable pushing-the-cart-round-the-supermarket stage, the other person knows you pretty well. They've seen you at your best and your worst, they've seen you when you have the flu and when you puke. And they've seen you just plain being you.

So, what is the "just plain being you" you like? When you're not "on", when you're not achieving anything or being clever or witty or improving yourself? It's Sunday morning, you literally have nothing to do, you sit around your home ... doing what?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:13 PM on December 31, 2010 [7 favorites]

You're a special snowflake, boostershot, and your quest is to locate men who are attracted to your specialness. So, you're a performer. People in show biz often date other people in show biz. Plenty of people like that in your town, so why not give it a whirl? You might meet a man who understands and really values your performing ability, in ways that ordinary guys never would.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:12 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

I just want to say that I don't think the way you talk about yourself is cocky or arrogant - I believe you. I, too can say very good things about myself.

I also have been single for a looooong time. I have been in love, and I have loved, but in pseudo relationships or anti-relationships. It has taken me several years to grow out of difficult relationships, and I am pleased to say that I *seem* to be getting closer and closer to finding something healthy and good.

A couple of things - yes, I'm sure you have a block. What it is, I don't know. Several people mentioned you letting others see your vulnerability, and I agree.... that's related to a lot of things.

Only very recently (this year!) I have finally figured out how to express my feelings and needs and wishes confidently enough to make the men I date feel wanted/needed/useful/strong etc. I really had to learn to feel even better about myself to be able to voice these things, without feeling vulnerable and scared and anxious.

About holding a guy's hand - the point of view you want to achieve (through therapy or reflection or whatever) is: "I held that guy's hand, and he reacted like an idiot. How silly of him! Pff, whatever. Holding hands with me is a big deal, a really special thing... I'll know when I find someone really cool, 'cause he'll be very pleased to hold my hand."

You already recognize that you have great qualities, now... love yourself even more. Stay humble, of course, but insist on your value. Don't let the guys who don't click or who are annoying get you down.

When you are really at peace and loving yourself, you will attract more of the right kind of men (handsome or otherwise) and you'll find it easier to share your needs and desires with them, thus establishing a reason to stick around... !
posted by Locochona at 8:38 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

I have read your blog, and I think you are a smart, funny quirky good person who will find what you seek when you least expect it. I would continue to go on dates, but I suspect your will meet Mr. Right when you least expect it, when you are engaging in just being you doing whatever it is you do in your ordinary life.
posted by AugustWest at 11:23 PM on December 31, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hi there,

thought i'd send you a little private message but decided to just reply here instead. first up - i was reading it and you could've been me 3 years ago. Super successful, attractive, incredible network of loved ones, a nice warm person, and well, seem to have it all etc. People who say you are boasting in the thread are in disbelief - but yes, incredibly, such people do exist. i'm assertive, confident, funny, and yeah, i'm pretty awesome. HIGH FIVE!

one thing i WAS doing wrong in dating (and like you, wondering what i was doing wrong), was dating ANYONE and being almost TOO wide with my net. Why would you want to go out with just ANYONE? If you were setting your friend up who was just AWESOME, wouldn't you pick a guy carefully for her?

So I cut down selectively, by making sure anyone i dated, i also ADMIRED. to do this, i looked at what i valued - clearly, i value ambition, good job prospects, financial future, and warm relationships. i valued intelligence, sociability, great values, and attractiveness. I also valued men who were confident and secure, and had good emotional intelligence. so then, i started only dating men who "impressed" me. there's nothing wrong with this - you would do the same with a house or car you were investing in, this is after all a long term match you're after!

when you date men you actually admire, you'll soon find reciprocation i feel - i found that men i'd dated prior had been really intimidated by my slew of awesome traits, and/or over time, some even tried to emotionally abuse me because they felt so inferior. oh no, this is bad.

anyway, this is my long round about way of saying - you're amazing on so many levels, so try and find men that you find amazing too. that's a good start, and attraction is bound to be more passionate. men who are as AWESOME as you are few and far between, and maybe you have to accept that and look harder. Why would you want to go out with someone less awesome?

I ended up with one of my close guy friends - a man who's a lot older than me (15 years) but i ADORE him and he me. Over time, we realised we both had these AWESOME things we seeked in someone else - and it's the most functional, wonderful and loving relationship i've ever been in, incredibly equal, with lots of mutual admiration. i think it's because he embodies so many things that I see in myself and like about myself - he's attractive, social, ambitious, successful, and has great family and friendship values. Plus we get along like a house on fire!

Good luck - but i just wanted you to know you're not CRAZY and certainly not up yourself. As madonna once famously said "i know what i want, and i work hard to get it. if that makes me a bitch, ok".

YMMV, and your values in a man may be different to mine (and certainly, i wasn't expecting to find mr perfect) - but it was a good start to me having a HAPPIER dating life since most guys I was then choosing to date were pretty damn good to begin with! :)
posted by shazzam! at 12:33 AM on January 1, 2011 [17 favorites]

Chicago has a male:female ratio of 100:106. There are just not enough men to go around.

When gender ratios get that far out of whack, the members of the scarcer gender tend to become more picky and feel more entitled while the members of the surplus gender have a much more difficult time dating even if they would be considered a "great catch" in a more gender-balanced dating market.

You would probably have a lot better luck if you moved to the Southwest, or one of the other dark blue areas on this map of gender ratios.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:03 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

To be clear, I agree that you shouldn't "tone yourself down." What I was referring to are the over-the-top, loud, crass jokes that are funny as hell in a reading, or in my living room, but a little too much for a first-date conversation. I'm reasonably sure you know what I'm referring to, boostershot, and that I'm not telling you to change who you are in order to snag a guy, nor am I telling you to worry overmuch about offending his sensibilities because he might be The One. I'm suggesting a very minor tweak here.

What I am saying is: talk about the weather if you must, but leave Batman's asshole out of it -- just on the first date.
posted by heyho at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi everybody! Thank you for this great feedback. A lot of it makes a lot of sense and I've been thinking about it throughout the past few days. Some stuff doesn't really apply to me, but I still appreciate it. All in all, it's very interesting to read all this stuff and to hear what you guys think. You guys are a great community and I'm happy to be a newbie amongst you guys!

I must clear up a few things for future readers of this thread. First off- I'm not a performer, I'm not an actress. I don't have a theatrical facade. I do have a dark, goofy sense of humor, but I think that's a good thing, personally. I am not afraid to speak in front of large groups of people (in fact, I love it) so, I guess that could be "performance" in a way. I don't whip out my dirtiest, outrageous joke on a first date, but I do keep it real to my personality, too. We all should, right? Keepin' it light is a good thing!

Also, the biggest take-away that I am getting from this is that it's always best to be friends first. That is what I'm going to concentrate on from here on out. Not dating- but friendships. They mean more to me than this dating mumbo jumbo anyway. I'll be sure to stay on that track and will keep you guys updated! Hopefully something good might happen one day :)

Thanks again.
posted by boostershot at 8:03 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

It could be your personality, which no one can comment on in this forum. There are many many things in a women that can turn a man or other people off (vice versa). You could have low self esteem, you may be overtly funny, your dark goofy stuff could be too too dark for many..

Best to get input from your friends. Besides I think we all know what our blind spots are..its really easy to know that because someone usually has mentioned it once or twice in our life

Forget about men, what do people in general say about you? Not that everyone is right but if it keeps repeating, it might be something they magnify but maybe a small smidgen of it might be real.
posted by pakora1 at 8:45 PM on November 21, 2011

I am vowing not to date anyone anymore just for the sake of it.

That's an excellent decision. Have you considered not dating anyone at all for a while? You seem to have a good time doing things, so perhaps you should just start doing those things with other people, people you think you'll have a good time with. Even people of the same sex, people who you're not attracted to and have no intention of dating, people you find annoying generally but who might be a good partner for a given activity.

I could write a volume, but I won't. I will instead note that I have known many attractive, successful people who were (at their core) good people, and still couldn't find a good partner to save their lives. Love isn't like a job, where you keep applying and once you get one, you get perks and promotions and rewards; it's something that happens, or doesn't, and you don't really get to control it. There are people who don't really love each other, who stay together for their entire lives, and people who truly love each other and yet never manage to bring themselves into the relationship they both desire. It is complicated, frustrating, and can drive you crazy, and if you work too hard at it, you end up attracting other people who are working too hard at it, and nobody benefits.

At the end of the day, just stop dating for a while, meet lots of people for fun and friendship (through other friends and while pursuing hobbies and so on) and practice being a good person who makes herself happy and sometimes other people, too. Be the kind of person you want to be with. At least then you'll be set up to meet a good partner if it happens, and if it doesn't, at least you'll live the rest of your life knowing you are a good person, and being happy.
posted by davejay at 11:24 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

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