Also do those exist/work
August 27, 2012 9:00 PM   Subscribe

Therapist or dating coach?

Heya. I'm worried this will veer into chatfilter, so I'm going to be as specific as I can.

I'm doing something wrong, dating-wise, and I can't figure it out. I go on a lot of dates from OKCupid, and get set up with friends of friends, but nothing ever coalesces even to the point of taking someone home. I've been single (and unwillingly celibate) for the last six years, despite living in San Francisco, where it seems like the dates flow like Fernet.

I'm extremely reluctant to get involved with someone I don't know I want to be with for a while, so I usually just bail after one date and never see them again, even if they're pursuing me. I know on a logical level to "just go for it," and I'm lonely and sexually frustrated, but for whatever reason, I never do. It's like I'm interested in women but I can't ever meet someone who specifically delights me, if that makes sense. (save for one 9 month debacle I killed off a few months ago)

Do I just need someone to help me figure out how to date (like this lady) or is there something more fundamental that I'm not seeing about myself that I'd need a professional for? I feel totally happy and productive and social, outside of the whole sex/dating thing.

Oh, also straight late 20s male, if that's relevant.

Thanks for the advice, wise and benevolent Metafilter!
posted by OrangeDrink to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How would you know if you want to be with someone "for a while" or not after one encounter?
posted by DMelanogaster at 9:11 PM on August 27, 2012 [8 favorites]

Stop trying so hard. Stop looking for that fundamental something you're missing. Stop thinking of this as a skill that can be mastered. Stop looking for things that coalesce. Just stop.

Stop trying to get yourself laid right now.

Start trying to get yourself laid a year from now.

Meaning ... Exercise. Meet people. Relax. Work hard and get a new job or a raise. Take a bike ride. Drink. Eat. Dance. Cut your hair.

In other words, do lots of new things. Do everything except TRY to date.

It'll work.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:13 PM on August 27, 2012 [10 favorites]

IMHO, you need to accept this about yourself

I'm extremely reluctant to get involved with someone I don't know I want to be with for a while.

Once I accepted that about myself, whole sheafs of anxiety about dating and sexytimes fell away, and I feel at peace about the fact that my life looks nothing like my peers'. Because my outer life matches my inner one.

Sorry, no wisdom to relate re: therapist vs. dating coach. It does seem like from your previous question that the person you did like strung you along, so I wouldn't see anything unusual about feeling skittish about the whole question of feelings, for however long it takes. A therapist could help you unpack, or even some self-directed work like journaling might help you shake out where your head is at. Best.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 9:13 PM on August 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

It takes more than one date to know whether or not you want to be with someone. Are you bailing because they're boring, no chemistry, unattractive, obnoxious, etc? Or are you bailing because you don't feel The Spark Of Marriage?

If you're having fun with the ladies then go on more dates with them and see what develops. Nobody says you need to commit to a relationship after one date; in fact, you don't even need to commit to exclusivity provided the lady is aware that's the case.
posted by Anonymous at 9:14 PM on August 27, 2012

Therapist, hands down.

This is kind of like the difference between going to someone who identifies as a dentist and someone who identifies as a toothologist to get your root canal done. Like dentists, you can't really be sure that a therapist is that good, but you can be sure they've had years of training, have some idea of what they're doing, and are part of a community with a legal obligation to hold them accountable for bullshit. There is no equivalent for 'toothologists' or 'dating coaches'.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:15 PM on August 27, 2012 [4 favorites]

I know on a logical level to "just go for it," and I'm lonely and sexually frustrated, but for whatever reason, I never do.

It sounds like you know what you want to do, but for whatever reason you can't go through with it. This is something a therapist can help with, but a dating coach can't.
posted by grouse at 9:21 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]

You would like to be in a relationship and have taken the appropriate steps to make it happen. It's not happening. So, yeah, get some help. Interview therapists carefully and find one who will help you with achieving your goals, including relationship goals. Also, try to judge more slowly. You may be missing out on some terrific relationships by being too harsh.
posted by theora55 at 9:26 PM on August 27, 2012

I don't know if you'll accept armchair psychologizing, but it's interesting that you were super crushed-out on someone unavailable, and now mention that you hesitate to get involved with people. It kind of makes sense that if you are hesitant to get seriously involved, you'd direct your "crush" energy toward someone unavailable. But to get any insight into why, therapy could be helpful. (Is there ever a downside to doing therapy if you can afford it?)
posted by salvia at 10:10 PM on August 27, 2012

All relationships start as short-term relationships.
posted by rhizome at 10:34 PM on August 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

Therapist but it's in the same vein that Cool Papa Bell advises. Focus on improving yourself for the sake of improving yourself.
posted by spec80 at 11:12 PM on August 27, 2012

A therapist could help you. I will say that if you're having a hard time finding someone "special," maybe online dating will generally feel too random for you. I've only gone on one date as a result of online dating (just for kicks) and regardless of how the date went, it felt a little artificial to me. A lot of people love online dating and find their sweethearts that way, but it's not for everyone.

Do you ever encounter people in your everyday life that really brighten your day? It can be rare but is also often provides a much-needed spark. Right now though you might need a therapist to help you sort out and focus your feelings and act on them.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:44 PM on August 27, 2012

I just got out of a relationship and did something similar right after. I was terribly desperate to fill the hole in my life.

At the same time, I started reading A New Guide to Rational Living which has helped me so much. It's a primer on CBT and basic self-acceptance, and it's really worked for me. I've been so focused on achieving my personal and professional goals, that I haven't really missed a relationship so much. The funny thing is that by doing this, I've been hanging out with many more people than I ever have in the past. Be the person you want to date and things will tend to fall in place.
posted by neveroddoreven at 4:35 AM on August 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

It sounds to me like you're avoiding women who are actually available, and that sounds like a therapy issue more than a dating coach issue.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:23 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

So the issue seems to be with your psychology, not with your social skills. First figure out what is up with your hesitance and ambivalence about dating, and your tendency to get hung up on unavailable folks.

Then if you need some coaching, you can find a dating coach who will work with you on specific skills like starting conversations, planning dates, responding to verbal and non-verbal cues, etc. A dating coach can't help you with your "should I or shouldn't I" stuff.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:55 PM on August 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

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