I have enough male friends.
March 18, 2012 6:24 AM   Subscribe

Men love being my friend but not dating me. Am I doing something wrong?

My dating history is the same story over and over. Men tell me they think I'm just great but they don't feel a spark for me. Then they want to be friends with me. I've practically got a harem of male friends that I've made this way.

My last two long-term relationships ended this way. After a hiatus working on some things I've been casually dating again and the pattern persists.

Also the proportion of male friends I make to men who ask me on dates is crazy skewed.

This is getting ridiculous.

I'm very direct when I'm interested so that's not an issue. I'm of average attractiveness (30, normal weight, decent face, etc.). I will admit I don't dress super feminine but I usually wear form-fitting clothes and lip gloss and earrings.

I recently broke down read several books such as The Rules, Why Men Love Bitches, He's Just Not that Into You, You Lost Him at Hello.

I felt ridiculous reading them, but what I'm doing is clearly not working. Could there be something to the central premise of these books? Namely, that I'm not being mysterious enough and providing enough of a challenge? (You know, being too available, having sex too early, being too nice. I don't think I'm a doormat, but yes, I answer calls and texts on time and try to split the check. If I feel like having sex early on I will. Sometimes I don't.) That I'm too much of a buddy and not enough of a woman? (Concentrating on cracking jokes instead of looking good. Initiating dates and calls and sex.)

As these men are now my friends, I often press them for details after things have cooled down, and they insist there's really nothing about me they could point to that made a difference. I've also asked them about some of the stuff in the books, and they insist that it's bunk, but maybe it's just that when it's put into such concrete terms it seems ridiculous to them.

Help, MeFites. I'm out of ideas, and there's got to be something to this pattern.
posted by unannihilated to Human Relations (45 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
First off, you sound great and I married a woman that is similar to what you wrote here, so there's hope. In fact, I don't think I could have married a woman much different from what you describe. The "games" as I liked to call them where dull, trite and boring and had me convinced I'd be a bachelor for life.

I'm very direct when I'm interested so that's not an issue.

I bet that's the problem or hinting at it. I think most guys need to feel as though they've conquered or taken a part in seducing a woman. It makes them feel needed, wanted and that they've done something. I don't pretend to understand that dynamic, but it seems to be there among a large part of the male populace.

If nothing else is working, sure, try being a little mysterious, somewhat less available. But acting like someone you're not may not be satisfying either. Probably best to try little things at first and not completely change who you are and then decide if you really want to attract the sort of men who go for this, because then you have to keep doing things, you know?

Otherwise, to further help you, tell us what you do for dating, where do you find or come across attractive men and how do you signal interest? How do you behave and interact with your dates? Being specific in describing 2 or 3 dates would probably help others figure out potential problems.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 AM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: What makes you think that you are doing something wrong, rather than something right?

Many of us had to date widely, or wait a long time, before finding someone right for us -- and sufficiently interested in us. The way I see it, you are having the same experience, but many of the people you see want to remain your friend, which is actually a pretty terrific thing and says something very positive about you.

I think you are assuming something's wrong because they didn't flee in the opposite direction, so that everything is right with you but for some mysterious "something." I guess, but in my experience, people who aren't interested romantically don't run screaming -- they're rather indifferent, and drift away. The difference is that yours stick around to be friends. Not too shabby, really.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 6:44 AM on March 18, 2012 [23 favorites]

After a particularly rough string of dates that fizzled (well I thought they were great, but the dudes apparently didn't), my dad bought me He's Just Not That Into You. I read it and I HATED it and thought my dad was an asshole for giving it to me. That is, until I met my now-boyfriend-of-5-years.

I didn't do very much, which I guess is kind of the point. I never called him, I never initiated dates, I let a few calls go to voicemail, I acted busy, and I didn't bone him on the first (or second) date. He always made me a priority, and still does to this day.

I'm not saying the book "worked" or anything, but it finally sunk in to me that if a guy is interested in me, he will make it known. I really hate to stereotype and I'm sure there are guys who do love being pursued, but I sure never met one.

You really sound a lot like me, and trust me, some guy is going to love that you aren't obsessed with your appearance, love a good joke, and have sex when you want to. You just need to give up quicker on the guys who aren't into you, and then make the ones who ARE work a little harder.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:45 AM on March 18, 2012 [7 favorites]

I am in a relationship now, but I did the dating thing for about a year before. Even if you are crazy about the guy, you need to implement what I call the ‘scarcity factor’. You can’t be too available. I usually don’t respond, or respond late to every 3rd text or so, don’t answer every 3rd call or so, make myself unavailable for every 4th date or so, etc. If I want to have sex early on, I let him initiate it, if I don’t want to, then I don’t. I find men mostly want what they think they can’t have.
posted by Amalie-Suzette at 6:51 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You sound like a really awesome person. A lot of guys won't attempt a friendship with a woman they lose romantic interest in, so I think you could look at this as a feature, not a bug.

The other side of the coin, though, is that you don't have to accept people as friends. You can always say, "I think it's best we go our separate ways. If we run into each other, of course I'll be civil, but I'm not looking for friends." (Note that the word "sorry" doesn't appear in that sentence.)
posted by alphanerd at 6:53 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you implement the suggestions regarding making yourself scarce & not responding to communication, there is one other thing you'll need to be aware of. You may run into a guy like me - my rule of thumb is, if I try contacting a woman three or four times (whether call, text, etc.) and get no response whatsoever, I won't initiate contact again. My rationale is that at that point, the ball is in your court regarding communication, plus any further attempts at contact with no response will make me look like creepy psycho stalker guy.
posted by AMSBoethius at 6:57 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Hmm, okay, Brandon Blatcher. My most recent long-term relationship was with a classmate from my grad program. We were casual friends first so there weren't really "dates" per se.

I meet men socially through friends and a couple of times through work, but that has never resulted in being asked on a date. I've tried to indicate interest through flirting a little harder and talking to them a bit more, but as I'm pretty friendly and jokey it may not have come through. Acting on the "He's Just Not That Into You" philosophy I didn't bother to ask any of them out myself.

Most recently I've been doing online dating (OKC). I do message men first, but I always let them be the one to propose meeting up to ensure there's really interest there. First dates are usually drinks, sometimes dinner. I have slept with a few on the first date. I always let them propose a second or get in touch with me after the first date. Sometimes I don't hear from them, sometimes I do. (That record is mixed for the ones I've slept with on the first date too.) After the second date is usually where I start to propose dates, send texts to say hello, etc.

I do respond promptly -- not immediately, but within at least 48 hours -- to all messages, calls, and texts. (Because that's what I do with everyone.) I'm pretty busy so I usually don't accept dates that aren't proposed a few days in advance. (I have occasionally.) I've accepted both weekend and weekday dates.
posted by unannihilated at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2012

I'm very direct when I'm interested so that's not an issue.

I believe that being direct can be the issue. As I've said before here, some guys are attracted to a woman who plays hard to get. Not all guys, but lots of guys. And yes, there's a lot to be said for the advice in those books.

It really must be something you are doing. Whether the overall personality/looks/dress combo isn't working for you, or whether you are too forward, I don't know. But it's something you are doing.

Women who are height-weight proportionate and modestly attractive usually have plenty of male suitors.

I would suggest putting a lot more thought into amping up your personal style, not being so direct with guys, don't act like "one of the guys," maybe get on Match.com or OKCupid and try out the role of a woman who is hard to get.

You sound like a great person, who may just need to internalize some of the lessons of these silly books.
posted by jayder at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

And sleeping with Internet dates on the first date is a good way to ensure they won't be interested in anything serious. Some good guys want to think you're hard to get and haven't been with lots of guys, and sleeping with them on the first date sends a red flag.
posted by jayder at 7:01 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Most recently I've been doing online dating (OKC). I do message men first

Do you only date guys you message first? Or do you also go out with guys that message you first?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2012

Response by poster: I go out with both men who message me first and men that I message first. In all cases I let them propose meeting up. If they don't propose meeting up within an exchange of 10 messages I stop responding.
posted by unannihilated at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2012

It isn't really possible for us to tell without knowing you more, but let me take a shot:

[...] Concentrating on cracking jokes instead of looking good [...]

With some people, it's hard to have serious moments because everything is jokes and jargon. Could that be you?

Have you ever had a feeling that a person is trying to talk about something important and a bit sensitive, and you saw the perfect setup for some piece of jargon you two have, and you said it, out of old habit or even to sort of be supportive by showing that you two have that bond? Do you ever say things that come from the heart and leave a silence afterwards that makes you feel vulnerable? With people who often do the former and never do the latter, it is hard to be really intimate.
posted by springload at 7:09 AM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

My last two long-term relationships ended this way. After a hiatus working on some things I've been casually dating again and the pattern persists.

Also the proportion of male friends I make to men who ask me on dates is crazy skewed.

It's not totally obvious there's a problem here. You're 30 and you've been in two long-term relationships -- pretty normal. Apart from a tiny fraction, the dates you go on don't turn into relationships -- which is pretty much true for everyone. You have lots of friends of your preferred gender who at some point you briefly considered potential relationship material -- don't we all?

You sound fine to me. Here's what's going to happen; you'll keep on going on dates, you'll keep on trying out different advice you read in books and hear from people on the Internet, and at some point you'll meet someone who's exactly right for you and settle down and for the rest of time you'll tell your single young friends about the book you happened to be reading the week you met your husband and how it contains the secret to true love and happiness.
posted by escabeche at 7:25 AM on March 18, 2012 [27 favorites]

"I bet that's the problem or hinting at it. I think most guys need to feel as though they've conquered or taken a part in seducing a woman. It makes them feel needed, wanted and that they've done something. I don't pretend to understand that dynamic, but it seems to be there among a large part of the male populace. "

I'm a guy and I suspect that this dynamic is at least moderately predictive of really terrible relationships. Actively trying to enrich for it is probably a bad idea on the whole, but I suspect this is a red herring anyhow.

From what you've written here I would be totally into you, though the contents of your previous relationship AskMe question would give me serious pause and likely start thinking of the friend zone. Maybe work on that and see where it leads you?
posted by Blasdelb at 7:29 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

The central premise of those books is that you hold back a bit and let your truth be revealed gradually.

You're so straightforward that you read these books and then gave them to the guys to read so they could give you an honest critique of your seductive capabilities.

Of course guys are going to tell you that they have no time for that game-playing bullshit and of course they're mature adults who want a woman who offers them sex right away, always pays for her own dates, and always returns every call on time so they know she's always gonna be there like Old Reliable and their hearts never have to skip a single beat when she's around.

These are all the behaviours of a good friend. They know that if they always treat you like a good friend, right from the very beginning, you will always do the same.

And because anything that deviates from that pattern is obviously the behaviour of a gold-digging, Machiavellian psychogirl. Anything less than complete disclosure upfront is manipulation, and manipulation is always evil. It's one or the other, remember, there's no in between. You have only two choices in life: Forrest Gump or Iago.

At least that's what they'll tell you.
posted by tel3path at 7:30 AM on March 18, 2012 [9 favorites]

If you want to call boys the next day, do it. If you don't want to... Don't. You're going to get contradictory advice here because humans are contradictory. I, for example, have a very egalitarian view of relationships and if a girl doesn't call me or arrange a date now and again, I assume she's not really all that interested. That's me. I'm not every guy. But I behave the way I want to because I don't want to find myself playing a scripted role for a relationship; I'll just naturally filter out women who don't want to initiate contact, and end up with someone who thinks it's obviously correct to call me up and ask me out.

I'm with escabeche. From this post I don't see a woman who guys don't want to date - I see one who guys want to be friends with, even when things don't work out romantically.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:40 AM on March 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

Men also say they don't like makeup, but the truth is, they don't like makeup they can tell is makeup. Let that sink in for a minute.

And heck, even makeup and hair that looks a little "done" actually fools the subconscious brain anyway. You can test this yourself- look at a newscaster or someone similar. First of all, you're usually not consciously thinking about her makeup and for that split second first impression, all you think is "pretty." if you do pay closer attention, even if it's obvious, you still can't make your brain imagine what's underneath and are probably automatically more generous. Seriously, razzle dazzle works, just like advertising works, on almost everyone. There's actually a psych study proving that people think it doesn't and they're "more perceptive than average" to tricks when in reality they're falling left and right like a fool. Smart people. Stuff works.
posted by quincunx at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

Blasdelb has a good point: reading your last question changed my views of this one a bit. Now, I realize this is easy to say, difficult to do, but I think you might want to do the opposite of what a lot of people seem be saying here. Instead of searching for a romantic connection, put that on hold. Seek out some people you think could be your true, life-long friends. Instead of trying for those ethereal "sparks" people are always looking for in the beginning of relationships (which, as far as every single person I've ever known is concerned, have never resulted in a healthy LTR), look for people to enrich your life. If one of those people turns into something more than a friend, that's great, but not the point.

What I hear from your posts is that you are being passive in all of these relationships. I know you said you have "enough male friends" but do you have enough truly great friends? I agree with many of the posts that say having dates that turned into genuine friendships is a good reflection on you and your honesty and attractiveness as a human being. But. How great are these guy friends? Maybe your life is completely fulfilled except for this one romantic part of it, but from your comments you seem to really be seeking intimacy. I'd say, go for that first. Make your life fulfilling without a romantic partner. If anything, your quest should be to find the people who make you want to be more yourself, not require you to hide who you are.

I realize that may be an unsatisfying answer (did I just hear after-school special music playing?), but faking your way into a romance is bound to be much more unsatisfying (possibly even damaging) than trying to create the life you want without waiting for romance to strike.
posted by eralclare at 8:18 AM on March 18, 2012 [6 favorites]

No, I don't think you're doing something wrong. Or more precisely, I don't think your dating history shows that you're doing something wrong.

There are three hugely different scenarios you describe:

1. Long-term relationships ending on a "let's be friends" note;

2. Casually dating guys who don't feel a spark and want to be friends; and

3. Making friends with more guys than getting asked out on dates by guys.

In your LTR scenario, there clearly was a spark. If you were doing something "wrong," or something they weren't attracted to, you never would have gotten to LTR status. And because there are only two of these incidents, the sample size is way too small to learn anything from.

In your getting asked out scenario, well, that's just life. It's not that you never get asked out, it's just that more guys you randomly meet pursue a friends course. I don't see how that can tell you anything.

In your OkCupid/casual dating scenario, how much of this has been happening? Everyone who dates experiences this. It's much more common for there not to be a mutual spark than for there to be a mutual spark. Actually, are you even feeling it in all these instances? If you're not, then why should the guy be, and why should you care?

The fact that you've had some long-term relationships says to me that you're not doing dating wrong. But, okay -- are you flirting? Are you meeting guys you like? Why are you trying not to try to look good? Another thing that stands out to me: it sounds like you're playing hard to get through about two dates and then switching off to this personality you describe of being direct/honest/etc. Have you considered starting at that personality point? There's a chance that you're meeting guys who are into one type of interaction and then switching it up; it might be more effective to try to meet guys who are into the type of interaction you're actually going to have.
posted by J. Wilson at 8:21 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

The central premise of those books is that you hold back a bit and let your truth be revealed gradually.

You're so straightforward that you read these books and then gave them to the guys to read so they could give you an honest critique of your seductive capabilities.

This is an astute observation -- you've read these books, but you haven't made any changes to your behavior. (I haven't read them, so don't have any informed perspective on their particular approaches; at heart though, if you aren't happy with your results, you should probably change what you are doing.)

Your description reminded me in some ways of my partner when I originally met her. Direct, willing to ask for what she wanted, not afraid of sex on the first date, etc. Obviously, this worked for me in a big way... but I was also her first serious, long-term relationship; it equally obviously hadn't worked for the guys she had been meeting before me. It's an approach that works very, very well for a subset of people, but if you are looking to reach the most people possible, a more Rules-y approach is almost certainly going to work better.

As with many things in the dating/relationship realm, I suspect that asking people what they want is a lot less informative than observing what they actually desire and value. So the men you date just want to be your friend -- what are the characteristics of the women they do end up dating long-term? Do you get different results when you try different things?

Also, without knowing the details of your age and the ages of the men you are trying to date, you might be running into a bit of a demographic issue where these men are what you could call in a pre-relationship phase. Are they indicating an interest in long-term relationships in their behavior?
posted by Forktine at 8:34 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Could there be something to the central premise of these books? Namely, that I'm not being mysterious enough and providing enough of a challenge?

I don't think the issue is that men suddenly become all the more interested in you when you provide a "challenge." It's that being less available means that you filter out the men who aren't that into you but figure they'll date you because they're single, you're attractive, and you're available. And eventually, the lack of chemistry will reassert itself and they break up with you. If you filter them out, the ones that will be left will be the guys who are really drawn to you and feel like they have to be with you.
posted by deanc at 8:35 AM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have the opposite view of deanc. I see that playing the scarcity game can draw interest from guys who just enjoy the chase. But you're going to have to give up the game at some point in your relationship, and after that, if they were never interested in you to begin with, then there's nothing left.

However, if you're the kind of person who doesn't like to play games, then don't. The only people who will want to date you are those who like what they see of you. It's a much more straightforward way to approach the question of whether you two are compatible and interesting to each other.
posted by segfault at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Those books are only marginally useful in that they might help you get dates with certain types of guys - but they have nothing whatsoever to do with creating a successful relationship. You need to think more about what is going on in those relationships, whether you are actually happy in them, whether there were signs of incompatibility you were not seeing.

The one thing I do wonder is if you are ending up in lukewarm relaionships because you are jumping into things and not waiting for the guy who really knocks your socks off. Be a little pickier, I think you can afford it!
posted by yarly at 8:42 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I really think you're just like most people, except that instead of having your breakups be huge dramatic flameouts and then never speaking to your exes again, you remain, like, a cool human being who still has many redeeming qualities to your former partners. This seems like a good thing to me.

How much of this has to do with "OMG I'm single and 30"? Because it kind of sounds like it's that sort of thing. Don't let it get you down, you sound great and you need to just stick with your game, because I don't see much reason here to think it isn't actually working for you (your frustration notwithstanding).

I guess another question I have is: What do you WANT? You told us a lot about what you think is wrong with you and your dating life, but, it sounds like you have a bunch of friends, you attract romantic interest from men, you get laid pretty much at will, and you've had at least a couple of functional, serious relationships. So can you say in a more affirmative sense what it is that you are missing?
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 8:49 AM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think your last question is the answer here. You're scaring them off. They're okay with being friends but are afraid of your intensity in a relationship.
posted by desjardins at 9:12 AM on March 18, 2012

Some good guys want to think you're hard to get and haven't been with lots of guys, and sleeping with them on the first date sends a red flag.

Not for anyone I know. Necessarily. The key is, is the sex-on-the-first-date in keeping with the overall vibe of the date? Was the date full of flirtation and touching and eye gazes and all that stuff that leads to sex? Then there is nothing wrong with it- just two people living in the moment.

The red flag is when one person in the date is clearly there just for the sex, where sex is practically a foregone conclusion no matter how not-sexy the actual date is. I'm not so sure it is that men love the chase, but that both partners have to do their part in the mating dance.

I would just chalk it up to being in a dry streak, where you are just a little more awesome than the guys think they can handle.
posted by gjc at 9:12 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Those Sorts of Books: They focus on the short game of getting a date, any date in front of you. The long game of opening up to someone you can live with is beyond their scope. "Love's not love which alters when it alteration finds" is always true. I think what you'll find is that you'll have just as much luck getting a date as before, but with men who you DO NOT want to retain as friends.

Friends: I like what eralclare said about putting the focus on intimacy in your life, in general. People who matter respond to others who broadcast trust--the instinct of a good person who feels someone is putting their trust in them is to protect them and that intimacy and to open up to them, as well. Right now, who in your life are you most at ease with? It doesn't matter if it's a friend, or an ex, or a family member. Start there. Spend some time with them and trust them with knowing more about yourself, the parts that are a little scary to share. When they start to share more, too, listen. If this is hard to contemplate, consider trying something similar with a therapist. Sitting a little while with what ease and intimacy means to you will let some authenticity into your interactions with others, in general, and give you permission to expect that you can be loved for yourself.

I'm in a really happy and hot long-term partnership with someone who was a friend, then FWB--and given our lives and experiences to that point (and I was absolutely someone who made male friends easily, retained exes as friends, was straightforward with my immediate wants, but struggled with that intimacy tipping point) we may have continued as easy FWB for a long time until likely spinning back out into friends. What turned it around was not my attention to hem length or formalizing how I communicated in some way, but his facing a lot of fear and potential rejection by starting to share some very important parts of himself. I found myself feeling a kind of tenderness in response that slowly got mixed up in the friendship and then built up to some feelings that were very protective and fierce and different. It encouraged me (though it was harder for me, so much harder) to do the same. It wasn't the easiest or most graceful thing (and as I revealed in this comment there was not a little beating me over the head on his part), but it's not always. Maybe you expect it to be? Graceful? Obvious? Easy? I'm not sure. You talk about a "spark," but someone has to start hitting the flint to see if something catches--and sparks are just that, little flashes, not a fire. Not something you tended to and nurtured for awhile.
posted by rumposinc at 9:31 AM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are you being receptive? Are you allowing men to gove to you and really appreciate it and feel that you deserve it? I used to feel I had to prove to men that I could do it all myself. Turns out they already know how capable I am and trying to prove it to them turned, in their eyes, into some sort of competition. Now, I know how capable I am, and I accept that men want to do for me, not because they believe I can't do something, but its a way for them to feel good and valued as well. When I didn't allow someone to help me ("no, no, I've got it covered"), I was actually cutting of a lot of the romantic connection and becoming buddies with men. Also, joking is a way to avoid intimacy, which is another way to cut off romantic connection.
posted by Vaike at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

Look, all those books you've read raise my hackles and make your male friends call "bunk" because the central premise that "Men Are Like This" IS flawed. It's silly and reductionist and no more valid than "All Wimmenz looooooveses Teh Shopping !!!! 'speshully SHOES !!!!"

SOME guys are like this (whatever "this" is for whatever book you're referencing). Others aren't.

You can maybe make some generalizations about groups of guys that share some of the same characteristics.

So here's one: the common denominator of all of the books, and the lesson that you've drawn from them is, "Play Hard To Get, The Guy Wants To Chase You." This probably isn't an approach that will work very well with guys that are towards the "socially awkward" end of the spectrum, and the fact that a lot of your male friends/ex-romantic interests call BS suggests that they're those type of guys. So maybe that's the "type" of guy you're generally drawn to.

Speaking as a "socially awkward" kind of guy myself, this - "tried to indicate interest through flirting a little harder and talking to them a bit more, but as I'm pretty friendly and jokey it may not have come through. Acting on the "He's Just Not That Into You" philosophy I didn't bother to ask any of them out myself. " - yeah, not gonna work. We don't get that you're flirting rather than just being friendly, or we don't get that you're flirting specifically at us, rather than just kind of being a generally flirtatious person. So of course we're not gonna ask you out.

If these are the type of guys you like, really, just keep doing what you've done before - just be YOU, and ditch the new, coy approach.

Nthing all the other answers that feel that some of it's a numbers game, or just a question of timing, and that actually you sound like a cool person who's not actually doing too badly. Think harder about what you feel is "missing" and why you feel that way.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:27 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

You aren't volume dealing enough. Ask guys out. Flirt a lot more. A lot more.

Chemistry is hard. Timing, even harder. Volume deal. Expect that it won't work with the vast majority of people.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:38 AM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Walk around like you are a popsicle that everyone wants to taste.

This will change everything.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 12:42 PM on March 18, 2012 [18 favorites]

m_porfavor said above: if a guy is interested in me, he will make it known.

I think that's a great distillation of what a lot of those silly books are getting at. And, that's not really a game so much as it is pretty good advice for romance. People, men and women, who find themselves constantly on the chase can end up feeling pretty rejected all the time. I also think that you're not doing anything necessarily "wrong" but maybe you should just try to lean back a little bit. Don't give up everything all at once. Don't show your cards right off the bat. A lot of guys get worried about "the friend zone." But, that can happen to anyone. I had a dear friend in college, a real hoot though a little bit outside of the mold. She always had many dear male friends. But, she also went really quickly from "I'm interested" to "oh, he probably doesn't like me, we'll be friends." And then she'd pine for them. But, she never really gave the romance a shot. The thing is, if you are interested in someone romantically, you have to keep that signal out there but lean back a little bit. Extend an overture, but watch to see if they meet you halfway.

I think sometimes being super chummy with a guy right off the bat sends the signal that you just want to be friends. Give things time to warm up. Think of conversations with men more like a glass of scotch. You need to let things swirl around in the goblet and warm up in your hand before you really know what things are going to taste like. Clinking glasses while saying, "I love scotch!" and slamming it down may just tell the guy: I guess she really likes her scotch.

Tortured metaphor aside. I don't think you're doing anything *wrong* but play a game with yourself next time you're around some guys, either friends or possible romantic interests and see if they react differently when you hold back a bit, flirt a little more subtly and lean back... see who comes to you!
posted by amanda at 1:34 PM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I have the impression that you're presenting the image of a self-confident and self-assured person, but that it's only a veneer, covering a deep insecurity and lack of assurance. That's not something dating is ever going to fix, you have to fix that in yourself first, become comfortable with yourself and who you are. This is not easy work, but it's possible, and I suspect that once you do this the kind of guys you want to date will want to date you.
posted by 6550 at 2:16 PM on March 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

The common denominator is you, assuming there are a reasonable number of men who have not worked out (and not just 1 or 2) then my suspicion is that you are going after the wrong sort of men.
posted by epo at 2:39 PM on March 18, 2012

oops, hit post instead of preview, ... or going about in the wrong way.
posted by epo at 2:41 PM on March 18, 2012

tel3path writes: At least that's what they'll tell you.

It's unwise to base your dating behavior on the assumption that people are too thick or dishonest to faithfully report their best assessment of their own motives and preferences. Men who report not enjoying manipulation do so because they don't enjoy manipulation. They're not saying it's "evil" any more than women think PUAs regurgitating lines from "the game" are evil. Just annoying, patronizing and shallow. Even if it works, as was pointed out up-thread, it's "working" like advertizing works. It might get someone on a date or into bed, but it's not really the foundation for a long term relationship.

Given the context of your previous question, I'd second 6550's assessment. Sounds like this could be a gap between presented and actual confidence. Confidence is attractive, sure, but perceptibly-fake or showy confidence -- similar to an overabundance of jokes -- can be just the opposite. Suggests inauthenticity, inability to be vulnerable or intimate in a healthy fashion.
posted by ead at 3:13 PM on March 18, 2012

Best answer: Looking at your previous questions, three things stand out to me:
- you were "recently single" in early Oct 2011
- you were feeling very insecure thereafter (quite normal in the months after a breakup)
- when something is difficult or not initially successful, you revert to thinking "what's wrong with me? I'm apparently the kind of person who just can't do this." In at least four other questions you describe a "shame spiral," ask "am I doomed?" and so forth. What's great is that you're usually aware of this and asking how to address it.

My suggestions are that you:
- realize that a 6-month lag between serious relationships is not only normal but probably on the short end
- stop labeling yourself; stop jumping to conclusions about what difficulties mean for who you are as a person; remind yourself of past successes, and the important role that external factors play
- reconceive yourself as the kind of person who is destined to succeed eventually by continuing forward step by step
- do things that make you feel better about yourself as a person, identified experimentally, and fall back on those things when you start to get insecure early in a new relationship (e.g., go to yoga class more, think back on your professional successes). But don't be too hard on yourself; being nervous early in a relationship with someone you like is normal.

Good luck. I think this question is not objective reality as much as it is a symptom of what you describe as your attachment to a negative self-image. You have clearly come a long way psychologically. That's impressive. Hang on to that and keep going.

By the way, 30 is not old.
posted by salvia at 4:09 PM on March 18, 2012 [8 favorites]

I've tried to indicate interest through flirting a little harder and talking to them a bit more, but as I'm pretty friendly and jokey it may not have come through. Acting on the "He's Just Not That Into You" philosophy I didn't bother to ask any of them out myself.

Flirting in a forward way, displaying immediate friendliness, joking around and essentially trying too hard is not sexy behavior. You're not being sexy. You're being friendly. That works when you're playing softball, not trying to be an adored and romantically pursued woman.

The point of the books you've been reading is essentially that deep, dark, velvety and mysterious passivity is magnetic. It is feminine and alluring. Are you behaving that way? No. Well, then you're missing the point entirely.

Stop driving your interactions with men. Take a deep breath, sit back and decide whether or not they get a chance with you. You don't need to *do* anything. Stop messaging guys first on OKCupid, stop asking for anyone's phone number, stop telling them about yourself right away or cracking jokes like you're someone's sister or aunt. Let them fall all over themselves to impress you-- don't feel as though *you* need to act in a similarly impressive and tryhard way.

Learn to smile in a come-hither way and simply say yes or no thank you.

Also learn to say meh, thanks for the offer but that's not my thing if he suggests something you don't like. Teach him to please you, don't be a doormat and do not accept being blown off or any sub-par efforts. Never humiliate a man, but don't roll with anything like a good egg no matter what he throws at you either. Have high standards.

You don't need to change your personality entirely, but you need to establish a connection with your discerning inner sex kitten.

Also, are there any articles of clothing which are so sexy and feminine they embarrass you? If so, learn to embrace them.

Also, a lot of men won't date you long-term if you sleep with them too early. It kills the mystery-machine of romance and they'll stop wondering: "Does she like me? What's she doing right now? I'd better step it up!" way too early in the game. Harsh but true.
posted by devymetal at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2012 [12 favorites]

Some good guys want to think you're hard to get and haven't been with lots of guys, and sleeping with them on the first date sends a red flag.

Also, a lot of men won't date you long-term if you sleep with them too early.

Alright, it's been a long time since I've been on the dating scene but I just have to flag this advice. I'm not doubting that such men exist, of course, but I'm questioning why on earth the OP would want advice on attracting this kind of man. A guy like this is not a "good man," he's a user with an outrageous double standard. If it's a deal-killer (longterm) for a woman to sleep with him on a first date, then why is he sleeping with her on a first date? Does he consider himself unworthy of a longterm relationship as well, because of his willingness to have sex on a first date?

Just sayin... a guy like that takes himself out of the running, and it's all to the good for the OP.

(NB, I think it's great for men & women to wait a while or even a long time for sex. I think it's not great for a man not to wait but to think women should--I mean that doesn't even make mathematical sense.)
posted by torticat at 7:11 PM on March 18, 2012 [5 favorites]

I'm questioning why on earth the OP would want advice on attracting this kind of man. A guy like this is not a "good man," he's a user with an outrageous double standard.

It's not a double standard unless you think there's an implicit contract, when you sleep with someone, that you will continue to regard them as serious romantic material. (For all the man knows, the woman may also have a rule that if the man sleeps with HER on the first date, he must be a player who has no long term potential.) So I'm not seeing a double standard here.
posted by jayder at 7:33 PM on March 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

a lot of men won't date you long-term if you sleep with them too early

I don't know where these "lot of men" live, but it's not in any circles I know. This trope always reads to me as nonsense left over from the 1950s or something. I've never heard a male friend relate that he lost interest in a woman due to her wanting to have sex. And, at least personally, the set of women I've had long-term feelings for and the set of women who slept with me early in our relationship shows either no discernible pattern, or at best a bias to the opposite conclusion. I married one of them, and got quite hung up on several others.
posted by ead at 7:56 PM on March 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think being direct and having open communication and asking for what you want and all that are great traits for a girlfriend/wife, ones that many men are looking for, as others have stated.

I think to get yourself out of the friend zone you just have to be more flirtatious. Flirting is like joking, but joking is what you do with friends, and flirting has sexual overtones. It doesn't mean that you have to act silly or overly girly. Flirting can be really fun when you get the hang of it...
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:18 PM on March 18, 2012

Best answer: OP, after reading your posts about "negative self-identity" and your "Bill Cowher jaw", I am betting dollars to donuts that you come off as insecure... maybe even needy. And I am guessing that is what is turning some men off, at least in part. Working on your own self-esteem, and not focusing on guys so much for a while, might be a good idea. If you do want to continue dating, I'd suggest dating multiple men casually (no sex). That way, you don't have to worry if one of them drops you. And you will be so busy that you won't have as much time to ruminate over or over-analyze one guy in particular, or focus your insecurity on him. As Ironmouth said, it's a numbers game. Up your numbers and don't worry about the ones that fall by the wayside.
posted by parrot_person at 10:45 PM on March 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, guys. Just wow. Thank you for digging through my history to figure me out. My actions, while they may take some confidence to do (telling someone how I feel) are stemming from a place of fundamental insecurity. (I need to tell him because I need to grab him while I can.) The uncertainty that comes with the early stages of dating only feeds this insecurity and leads me to do more of these actions. (Trying hard to be funny so he'll like me, contacting him frequently so he won't lose interest.)

I've decided to take a break from dating for awhile to focus on myself and further work on this problem.

Thank you all again so much.
posted by unannihilated at 4:23 AM on March 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: P.S. Though I also like the answers about me being so awesome that even people who don't want to date me still want to be my friend. :-)
posted by unannihilated at 4:35 AM on March 19, 2012 [4 favorites]

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