What is wrong with me?
October 6, 2012 9:11 AM   Subscribe

Why am I so unattractive to women?

I’m a 25 male living in the UK. Quite simply, there must be something wrong with me as I don't think women find me sexually attractive. For a start I've never had a girlfriend. More on that later.

The rest of my life is really very good, no joke. After my 25th birthday, after nursing a fragile hangover and realising I wasn't 20 anymore, the realisation that almost every all of my friends apart from me has had some kind of relationship or another dawned on me. It was quite frankly a very sad and depressing thought. I suppose I'd always known it was a weak point, but it's never affected me mentally until now. That realisation has kicked started something massive and it's been growing in the back of the mind. The trouble is I don't what to do since I don't know why women don't dig. So I’m asking for some advice Mefi, because crowd sourcing is great and I have faith! A little about me below.

+ I'm not a complete social dork! I genuinely do get along well with most people and have a couple of really awesome close friends. Most of them live a few hours away but we hang out couple of times a year and it’s always good fun.

+ I work in a professional office environment in a small city. Fairly respectable high-end profession, long hours but it’s well paid. A challenging but enjoyable role. I have a great relationship with everyone in the office.

+ Independence suits me ok. I live by myself not with my parents. I get on with them though.

+ Had a good college experience from a Russell Group university. The Russell Group is the UK equivalent of the Ivy League. By that I mean I didn't just shut myself in a room and study (apart from the problem of dating obviously).

+ Man, I love sports and exercise. Put a tick against trail running, hiking, climbing, skiing. They are awesome and have taken me to incredible places in Europe most people just don't get to see. And yes I do use the gym on top of all that. Part of the motivation has obviously been to try to look good, but I genuinely love pushing the limit and it wouldn't change even if Ms Girlfriend existed. Probably.

+ Confidence. Used to be a problem (natural introvert) but I have to be outgoing for what I do at work, and it’s rubbed off on my personal life. I don't have problems meet new people. Also I think most of us grow in confidence as we grow older, at least I have!

+ Appearance. Explaining your appearance over the internet is always a little awkward and I wouldn't normally say any of this but I think this affects the answers to this question so here it is. All that hard exercise combined with a fairly controlled diet has paid off (for those debating to do exercise to lose weight, do it). Shall we say I have an obvious muscular build, probably about 10% body fat? On the flip side, at 5 foot 7 I’m not very tall. And I have awful skin but thankfully the doc’s giving me meds for that which seems to be helping lately. Finally, for the record I'm of SE Asian descent.

+ I used to put little effort into dress but recently this is an area which I've invested a bit more in. Thankfully as a guy, this is less of a minefield than as a girl.

+ Normal dating. Countable on one hand. All of them flaked after the first or second.

+ Online dating. Tried with poor results. Got 2 or 3 dates over a year and none of them worked. And here lies the problem of not living in a big city, folks. The ratio of getting dates to the effort put in was so low it was canned after the "CBA" threshold was passed.

So here it is Mefi. The problem is girls just don't seem to be interested. My life is good apart from that so I suppose it's like building a big Lego car and finding the last vital piece is missing. Lately I've been looking for signs of flirting or whatever in normal social interactions and very few are given. The ones that do flirt are almost always taken. Goddamn. Is there something wrong with me? Am I just terrible at flirting? I suppose my question is what the hell do I do now? Is it worthwhile seeing a therapist? I have no plans to stay single for ever but at this rate if I don’t find out what the root cause is then this is a likely possibility.

Any suggestions welcome. mefisendadvice9000@gmail.com for all your PM needs. Thanks!!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (42 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you may be lacking confidence which can be a turn off for many women.

I've heard that taking an improv comedy class can really help develop confidence in almost all social situations including dating and its a way to meet other semi shy people trying to do the same thing that you are.

I heard a local radio host say that the class(es) he took improved his social skills and confidence tremendously plus he met a whole bunch of new friends of both sexes. You don't have to be seeking a career in show biz or the like but just to increase your sociability skills.

Good luck!!
posted by Tullyogallaghan at 9:20 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have no idea if you have this problem or not, but do you carry around your "unattractiveness" as a chip on your shoulder? I had a friend in college who had become so bitter about not being able to meet anyone that it just radiated off of him in a negative way.

Quite frankly, with a body such as you describe, I doubt you are unattractive to all women. There are definitely women for whom that is a major selling point.
posted by cabingirl at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2012

25 in England is a really strongly different age than 25 in America. Being in a small town (I am 33 and in Dudley, West Mids) can be more difficult because the pool is so small. I met my partner on a Tuesday night at a pub when she was ejected from her nearby roller derby practice and wanted a beer. I am not saying go to more bars, but there are probably unisex sports activities in your area that you are not considering. Taking up a different kind of sport challenge in a new environment, such as joining a harriers club, will introduce you to a new group of people. You need a new group of people in order to meet a new person, generally.
posted by parmanparman at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2012 [5 favorites]

Hooking up with the opposite sex is just not about what the other person wants--and in all honestly you sound like a normal guy from the way you describe yourself--but it's also about what you want. So ask yourself: have you met anyone you really fancied recently? If not, you need to put yourself out there and meet more women. If you have met someone and you didn't do enough about it, you need to start pursuing more. Woman like to be chased.
posted by dydecker at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Here to second lessons of some kind. My brother in law was in a similarly down situation after a divorce. He found that engaging with the world through art and cooking classes helped him to rebuild his self esteem. He eventually met his second wife through a chat board that he frequented, but the lessons helped him to engage with the world like the truly interesting and interested person that he is.
posted by pickypicky at 9:27 AM on October 6, 2012

Well, to start with, women aren't some collective borg mind. What a women finds attractive is going to vary from person to person, just like with men.

I doubt there's anything glaringly wrong with you, you're introverted and live in a small town. Having trouble meeting people is just part of that package. Sign up for classes and activities that involve being forced to talk to other people one on one (improv classes, language classes, intramural sports) and expand your social group. Even making new friends with men will open up opportunities to meet women, so just get out there and be social.

You don't state whether you have any close relationship to women, outside of romantic ones, and some of your blanket statements imply a mindset of potential "othering". If that's the case, you'll need to sort that out. It's a lot easier to make friends with and date if you aren't treating the person across from you like a slightly different species.
posted by Dynex at 9:28 AM on October 6, 2012 [13 favorites]

Have you actually met anyone you were genuinely interested in? It could very well be that by the age of 25 and living in a small city, you just haven't met anyone that there was a connection with. My suggestion is keep your eyes open more to individual women, gradually get to know them as people and ask yourself if you are genuinely interested in them. This sincerity alone is an important feature that women look for.

Just as I finished typing this, I see dydecker's and Dynex's comment and second them.
posted by alusru at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh man. I hate to say this because it feels like perpetuating something that is wrong and bad. But to be perfectly honest I think a big part of this issue is that you are SE Asian in a largely caucasian society. It's still a comparatively unusual thing culturally for caucasian women to date SE Asian guys.

There will still be plenty of women out there who would be interested, but I'm just saying, if it's caucasian peers you're comparing yourself to and thinking there is something wrong with you, I think there are issues of racism in play there.

I'm also going to guess things will improve for you once your skin clears up.

About meeting women, you should definitely ask the girlfriends of your friends to help set you up. I'm betting they would love to help.

It's also good to make friends with single girls even if the two of you aren't attracted to each other. I think odds are they will know lots of other single girls that they could introduce you to.
posted by cairdeas at 9:33 AM on October 6, 2012 [35 favorites]

You sound like a great catch! I know it seems that 25 is old to have never had a serious relationship, but I think it's much more common than you would guess. I do think it's harder in a smaller city to meet people but not impossible.

I share a lot of the hobbies that you listed and one thing about them is that they can be pretty individual and not always offer great chances to meet people. For example, running and hiking, in large metro areas there are groups of people who do these together but in most cases they are individual activities that you can do alone. I would suggest going to more happy hours and bars where there are guaranteed to be more people around to interact with.

You come across as pretty normal and not egotistical your post, but the whole post is really all about you and nothing at all about what type of women you are attracted to. Were you interested in any of the women that you went out on dates with? If you weren't really into it, it's likely they realized that and subsequently flaked. Finally, whenever I see these types of questions, one possibility is always that you are only going after people who are out of your league. I did not get that impression from your post, but I would encourage you to be open to chatting with different types of people, even those who you might not grab your eye at first sight.
posted by seesom at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you've only been in shape for a little while and your skin is still clearing up, I'd wait until that was a bit more established and then reevaluate.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd skip the online dating. I remember reading an article on the OkCupid blog where they ran the numbers and found that being on the short side drastically reduced a guy's online dating chances. But this is pretty specific to online dating, where your height is listed there along with everyone else's.

So that leaves meeting people in real life. The best way to meet people in real life is to seek out a type of social event that most people avoid like the plague: the party where the host is the only person you know. These kinds of parties are the best way to meet dates. Your presence at the party suggests that the host vouches for you, but he or she will be too busy to talk to you all night, and you will be forced to talk to new people. But don't only talk to women. The guys might become your friends, which is a good thing in itself, and also they'll have parties too.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:39 AM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

You seem to be doing about everything you can be doing. It *might* be confidence (what you describe about yourself as confidence sounds more like being outgoing which isn't quite the same as having confidence). It probably isn't as much about your physical appearance as you seem to think either. If anything, on paper you sound like a great person. You have a good job and exciting hobbies and you're very fit! This can intimidate some people. I've dated online too and there are tons of times where I saw an awesome person and felt I would have to try too hard to get them to be into *me*. And because I'm not very confident myself, that has stopped me from reaching out to some people I thought were pretty great.

Also, I think for some people singleness becomes a sort of inertial property that's just hard to shake for no particular reason. Women can sometimes tell, maybe not consciously, that the guy is giving off a long-term singleness vibe. I think a lot of people, for better or worse, don't want to be a person's introduction to relationships. Until one day you meet a woman who either doesn't notice it or doesn't care and is into you enough to see what happens next. And all you can do is keep trying until you find that person.

You may want to move to or closer to a bigger city. Just by there being more people in the dating pool would help you get more dates and thus meet someone you get along with quicker.

Hope this helps.
posted by Green With You at 9:42 AM on October 6, 2012

I do not agree with cairdeas comment about racism. Granted it depends on where you live, but where I live it is common to see Caucasian women with Asian men.
posted by seesom at 9:42 AM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

IMO, dating is just a numbers game. I, as an introverted Asian woman in a large city, went on about 30 to 40 dates in a three months period. Most of them were just one date, no spark, and moving on. I ended up meeting my current partner as an online friend of an online friend...

If you are doing online dating, ask to meet up after two or three messages. If she says no, she's likely not ready to meet anybody in person, and you save yourself time.
posted by ethidda at 9:42 AM on October 6, 2012

Are you waiting for women to come to you, or are you approaching them? Because your description makes you sound pretty normal all around, which makes me wonder if the real issue is your introversion. Both in person and online dating works somewhat as a numbers game, meaning you need to talk to a bunch of people to find the few that you would want to hang out with, and of those few only a very small percentage are going to click with you.

And we still live in a world where the guy is mostly expected to be the one making the advances, so it's kind of in your lap to make it happen, sadly. I don't mean to be sounding like I am encouraging you to start propositioning every woman you meet between the ages of 18 and 80, but I would encourage you to be much faster at saying "hey, want to grab a drink?" or clicking the "send a message" button on the dating website. Don't be gross and indiscriminate, but unless you radically ramp up the number of women you are talking to I don't think you are going to get different results.

Lastly, as always, do you have a trusted friend (male or female) that you can ask things like "do I smell good?" and "be honest: are there things I need to fix?"? Because we all know people who maybe wear clean clothes and comb their hair, but aren't so great to stand too close to, if you know what I mean, and generally no one is going to say anything because people are polite that way. I doubt those are your issues, but it's far better to rule that out conclusively now than to find out later.
posted by Forktine at 9:43 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Are you a genuinely nice guy? Do you respect women? Are you kind, are you warm?

The men who can be physically decent looking but are bitter, not easygoing, sarcastic, negative and too interested in themselves are not the kinds of guys healthy women are interested in.

I've always been attracted to men who are caring, comforting, pro-active, and positive people to be around. I've lost attraction towards men who are bitter, angry, overly self-interested, negative, or see women as objects.

Also, I'm SE Asian. Are you trying to date other SE Asian girls or any girls of any race? Are you just trying to meet a girl off the street? Do you just want a relationship that may or may not be serious?
posted by discopolo at 9:54 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have seen this before-- guy who is reasonably attractive, holds down a job, reasonably well socialized with friends and a social life who makes it into his mid to late 20s never having had a girlfriend.

My guess is that you are giving off a non-sexual vibe in your social interactions with women. Growing up, you likely didn't prioritize romantic relationships with your classmates because you were concentrating on other things and didnt have that as a goal. And even if that's what you wanted, you are finding reasons why you wouldn't want to date the people you're meeting rather than meeting someone you have chemistry with and taking a gamble.

And I am not sure how much of this is changeable-- you are who you are. You have a social routine that works for you in most ways. What worked for people I know in your position was to really put a lot of effort into online dating, going on dozens of dates until they found the right person for them, and then they stuck with that person. And those dozens of onlines dates also served as practice, as well as making the situation clear to both parties that the possibility of romance was on the table, so your otherwise non-sexual social vibes wouldn't be misinterpreted.
posted by deanc at 9:55 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

where I live it is common to see Caucasian women with Asian men.

Do you live in a small city in the UK? Because having lived in one, my feeling was that it was far less common than in the U.S. (Also, having graduated from a Russell Group university, it's not comparable or equivalent to the Ivy League, so I would drop that comparison.)
posted by grouse at 9:56 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

What exactly are you doing to meet women near your age with mutual interests?

I have a wonderful guy friend who is attractive, fit, smart, great job, incredibly nice, etc etc etc, but he works at a male-dominated company and primarily hangs out with our male-dominated college social circle. Not a lot of opportunity to meet women there, and it's shown in his dating history. So I ask again: what are you doing to meet women?
posted by olinerd at 9:57 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds to me like a relationship has simply not been a priority for you (which is totally fine and normal). But now that it is becoming a priority then you need ot focus more attention and time on it.

You mentioned 3-4 dates in a year; as noted above, dating is a numbers game and you are simply not getting enough exposure. So get out and meet/interact with more people until you find one that clicks. Modify some of your hobbies so that you still feel fulfilled but that you interact with other people,so rock climb in a gym, not just outdoors, hike with a group in the city instead of alone in the countryside etc. Take up some physical excerise tha thas more women participating (horse-riding and yoga come to mind). It sounds like you have alot to offer the community so see about group volunteering like serving food at a soup kitchen, reading to children at the library, coach sports teams for kids/woman. Vacation with and around other people, maybe try booking a cabin away for your friends and their girlfriends and ask if their girlfriends have any single friends would would want to come too. Actually, try to spend more time with your mate's girlfirends so they can vet you and maybe meet some of their single friends.

It really doesn't sound like there is anything wrong with you at all, more that the right women have been able to find out how awesome you are because they haven't met you yey.
posted by saucysault at 10:05 AM on October 6, 2012

So, I've read your post and you sound adorable to me.*

Obviously, none of us really knows you in person. We're going by what you've written and it's very hard to be objective about yourself. For all we know, it could be that you are so fit and so active that some of the women you've gone out with don't think they can keep up with your activity level, and they're just intimidated. Or you could be incredibly boorish and not realize it. We're not really going to get a definitive solution just from analyzing this question.

Maybe you can get some clues from the dates you did go on, though.

Think back to your conversations. How much do you remember about those women? How much talking did they do, and how much did you do? Were the dates an equal interplay of getting to know each other, or did one of you really tend to dominate the conversation? What you want here is a natural back and forth, where you are *both* interested and asking questions about each other. If the woman stops talking, that's a definite red flag--either you have said something that turned her off/raised a red flag, or you are talking over her rather than listening to her. So if you find yourself dominating the conversation, maybe dial it back a bit, "Enough about me! So, you were saying you blah blah blah before, how did you get into blah?"

Your skin problems may not be an issue (congratulations for getting help with that!), but your reaction to them might be. If you tend to rub your face when you're nervous, for example, you might be calling attention to your skin. Absolutely don't pick at it, of course! (I always know when my spouse is particularly anxious about something because, without realizing it, he will do this fidgeting thing where he starts to bite his nails).

Also, how did the women "flake" after one or two dates? Did they say, "Sorry, just not interested", or did the communication taper just off? Generally, when you are romantically interested in someone, you are expected to step up on the calling, texting, etc. Don't play games, like waiting x number of days until you get back in touch. You want to follow up within just a few days if you are interested, because a lot of women worry about appearing too aggressive and will wait for you to make the next move. If you don't, they'll assume you aren't really interested. (Naturally, if they do indicate they aren't interested, then you take them at their word).

I doubt you really have anything "wrong" with you, though. I'd bet it just comes down to you being young and focused on other interests to the extent that you haven't actually concentrated your efforts on fostering a relationship with a significant other. Now that you are realizing it's a priority with you, I think you'll have more luck.

*I don't mean adorable in a cute puppy type of way, just adorable as in young and sweet, as I'm much older than you, so please don't take offense!
posted by misha at 10:14 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

are you a runner or do you play any sports? i would join a coed running group or coed team sport that meets regularily - or if they have meetup groups in the UK - look into those, because I (a female) have been single for a really long time - am relatively attractive - and still had zero luck dating online. I met my beau at a regular tuesday night run with a running group that runs every tuesday. we also saw eachother on the bus a lot. proximity and familiarity helped. good luck and do not give up!
posted by BlueMartini7 at 10:29 AM on October 6, 2012

Nthing make sure you are giving off a sexual vibe and being flirtatious. Because men fear coming on too strong, they back off and send the wrong signals. Most likely, you aren't doing anything wrong, per se--you seem like an average guy, probably friendly and respectful to women--but you do need to be flirty and a teensy bit obvious. Help a lady's intuition along.

Do you even want a relationship? You said it was only after realizing your friends had all been in relationships that you felt down. Don't look for a relationship (or problems inhibiting one) if you are happy. 1.) Happiness and secure in knowing yourself REALLY ARE THE MOST ATTRACTIVE THING, more than your job, skin or physique, and 2.) It's really, really OK to not date in your twenties (or 30s or 40s or ever). Don't get peer or society pressured into feeling otherwise.
posted by peacrow at 10:37 AM on October 6, 2012

" Normal dating. Countable on one hand. All of them flaked after the first or second."

There is your problem. Normal dating is more than countable on one hand. You need to ask more women out. It is a numbers game, and, unless you have 30-40 digits on said hand, you just need to do a lot more asking.

Set a goal of asking out 4 women a month (or whatever works for you). Even women you don't necessarily click with right away. By the time you get to 30/40/50, you will have yourself a girlfriend, and have learned a lot about women to boot.
posted by Vaike at 10:42 AM on October 6, 2012 [4 favorites]

Another thing to watch out for: women have a sense for when men want "a girlfriend" as opposed to when they specifically want a specific person (i.e. the woman in question). Don't be that guy trying to fill a job vacancy.
posted by availablelight at 11:33 AM on October 6, 2012 [10 favorites]

The ones that do flirt are almost always taken.

Just because they're taken now doesn't mean that they'll be taken forever. By that I mean that if you like a woman's personality and enjoy her company, you can still hang out with her even if she's taken. Think of it as similar to dropping your resume off at a company in your field - even if they don't have a position available now, who's to say that a spot won't open up at some point in the future that you may be considered for? Furthermore, most women I know are happy to help out their guy friends by introducing them to their recently-single female acquaintances, inviting them to parties, etc.

Personally, I'm not at all a dating expert (in fact, quite the contrary: I'm trying to take a break from dating right now) but one thing that has worked well for me in the past is implementing the agenda less as a hunt and more as social networking. Instead of focusing only on women who meet your "target criteria", consider that there may be many indirect paths to your goal.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:52 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are not my acquaintance, but I will mention this person in case it strikes a cord with you. "Adam" is a mid-30s man with a generally successful and fulfilling life except for an abysmal dating record and no hope of female companionship on the horizon. He's had a few dates over the years, not many even though he's socially active among his (mostly male) peers, is a good conversationalist as long as the topic isn't how Adam will be single for the rest of his life, and within the parameters of reasonable to expect someone would be physically attracted to him based on appearance.

Adam thinks of a girlfriend or wife as something he needs to make his life complete and sometimes expresses the opinion to his friends that he is A Nice Guy who deserves a female partner who is good enough for him (roughly equal in ability and accomplishments, not unattractive, no personal problems). He gets a few dates, though rarely a second date. He has a few women in his social circle who very clearly don't want to have anything to do with Adam in a sexual or romantic sense. There was a woman who was interested in dating him over a period of months, but Adam didn't think she was good enough for him and eventually she stopped trying.

Until Adam can remove the framing in his life that treats a mate as a privilege which should be his along with his other privileges, he will remain undateable, unmated, and convinced there is nothing wrong with him. He's an extreme version of someone who has a lot going of him yet can't see why he's not able to achieve the kind of human relationships with a segment of the population he sees not as fellow humans but as rewards or objects.
posted by thatdawnperson at 11:59 AM on October 6, 2012 [21 favorites]

The ones that do flirt are almost always taken.

I'm one of them, because I enjoy flirting as a way of interacting, and I feel much more free to do so if there is definitely NOT going to be anything happening.

Think of it as networking. She might not be the girl for you, but she might know a girl who would be the girl for you.
posted by ethidda at 11:59 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You sound great! I would really suggest just going all-out with the online dating. Make a nice profile, have people on Metafilter and friends look it over to help you make sure it is good, and then just message a lot of women. Go on dates with the ones who are interested. You may strike out many times, but this should eventually work. I have a few friends who are awesome, but weren't finding dates in their (our) social circle. They did this, and now they're all dating great people - although it took a lot of tries to find someone that you like and that also likes you, it will happen.

I would suggest something like "low-key inexpensive dinner and maybe drinks" for the first date. Pick a place that has a nice vibe, that you're comfortable in, and use that as your "dating arena" for all of your first dates from people you meet online. This might help you become more comfortable about the whole thing, and will probably aid you in exuding more confidence.

And you can always leave your height off of your online profile if you're worried, but I don't think that anyone that you would want to date would really care about that. You're fine - you're perfectly within the normal range of height, so don't let that stop you from asking women out. Being short is no big deal, and you don't want to date someone who decides that she "doesn't like short dudes" because a) you're not that short and b) she doesn't know what is important in romantic relationships anyway.
posted by k8lin at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2012

The advice here is great. As a teacher, spending a lot of time observing young people, I'd like to add: there is truly a girl for every guy. You are fine as you are. You might want to be more curious about your dates, as some have said, but you seem to be a genuinely nice person.
posted by mumimor at 12:02 PM on October 6, 2012

Seconding ethidda's advice, plus - flirting (not heavily, or to the point where everyone's uncomfortable, but just generally) with a woman who is already taken is a good way to practice, since you *know* nothing's going to come of it. It's a low stakes game in that case.

One other thing to consider is whether, as an introvert, you're too much in your head during the date, or when talking with women. I've known introverts who were really into a woman, took her out, but never got a second date because they never let it be known externally that they thought she was great. She got the vibe that he was uninterested, or distant, because he was too much in his head.

Also - dating is one of those funny things where many people I know found the person they were looking for when they stopped looking - which is to say, when they got comfortable, truly comfortable, with the life they had and just generally were social because they enjoyed being around other people.

I'd also Nth trying to find a mixed gender sports club to take part in. You sound (rightfully so!) very confident in your sports abilities, so it would be a good way to meet someone - you'd already be in your comfort zone, where you feel confident and happy, and you'd also possibly find a girl who'd understand your need to push the bounds of what you can do athletically, and who might even want to join you in that quest.
posted by RogueTech at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2012

a female partner who is good enough for him (roughly equal in ability and accomplishments, not unattractive, no personal problems)

Isn't that what most people are looking for? Isn't that who most people ultimately end up with (modulo what we consider show-stopping 'personal problems')? I'm sure your kind instincts are causing you to make Adam sound much less unpleasant than he is, but these preferences, in and of themselves, don't make someone out to be an undateable, unattractive prick.
posted by deanc at 12:51 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's the deserve that's the problem (and the larger problem with Nice Guys in general). It's the entitlement, not the criteria.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2012 [6 favorites]

Try asking your friends, and seconding the getting feedback from other dates. You might be more introverted than you realize.
posted by teslacoilswoah at 4:03 PM on October 6, 2012

Try out social hobbies that will have the participation of both genders or more female ones. I'm an Asian female in a moderate-sized Canadian city, and I love hiking, cycling, and video games, so it's pretty easy for me to find guys with my shared interests. But most of the women I know here are into yoga, political organizing, art, music, or volunteering for non-profits. Most volunteers for non-profits here women for some reason. How about joining a community garden or try out different groups/events to volunteer for? It's okay to possibly meet women through those means so long as you're genuinely interested in those activities or trying out something different. I think it's just generally easier to find potential partners through shared interests or communities.
posted by Hawk V at 5:00 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

you sound like you're somewhat successful and used to getting what you want (otherwise, why post this?). That means you might feel entitled. Even if you don't feel like you deserve a girlfriend, you do seem very focused on results (and the quality thereof). In my experience, women (unlike, say, corporations) tend to be uninterested in the bottom line, at least in so much as it might apply to relationships; they (like you) want to share their life with someone else, not increase their social profit margin.

For many women success is important, but taking whatever method you apply at your job to be successful and transposing it to your love life (which is what I imagine you've been trying) is bound for failure.

Rather than applying all of the complicated suggestions above, I suggest 1) not over-thinking this issue and 2) going out and actually attempting to get to know (attractive) women; it's harder than it seems, partly because they think such an avowedly pure motive is ruse, and partly because it actually is. Best of luck.
posted by anewnadir at 5:23 PM on October 6, 2012

I am a married, nerdy woman and my husband is shorter than you (and me) and I have known a fair number of men like you over the years, so I have some thoughts.

Do you want to date? Do you want to find a serious relationship? Either or neither is okay, but it's best to know for yourself what you're looking for. Not everyone "dates" and thats okay.

When engaged in all this self-reflection, ask yourself, are you reaching out and expressing interest in the things that interest the women you meet / date? Are you talking to them like equals? Conversely, are you treating women you "fancy" as slightly special? All of those things are important to me and my friends when considering men as potential partners.

I have SE Asian friends who certainly experience racism around dating both in Canada and in the UK (worse there, I gather). This might be a thing, but that doesn't mean you won't find your perfect mate - just that you might not be "wrong", some women may not be seeing you as dating material for reasons that you can't control.

You definitely need to find group activities with women at them. Repeated exposure is key to getting invited to parties, introduced to single women and possibly even going on dates. You describe a lot of solo or near solo activities and friends you see pretty rarely... I encourage you to engage in activities with other people that you can enjoy at least a little - running clubs, sports teams, games nights, your local professional association, whatever. New things allow you to demonstrate some vulnerability and give you something to talk/bond with other participants over.

Best of luck
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 7:47 PM on October 6, 2012

I read these words from you:

I don't think women find me sexually attractive
I don't know why women don't dig
girls just don't seem to be interested
finding the last vital piece is missing

And find myself thinking what others have said above, concerning your treatment of "women" as an undifferentiated group:

women aren't some collective borg mind
Don't be that guy trying to fill a job vacancy.

In other words: there is nothing in your question about liking, loving, lusting, befriending or connecting with individuals; only the collective group "women". Every time you find yourself thinking of women as a group, as an interchangeable set of pieces to fit into your life, as a mass entity of any sort, catch yourself. Stop and reflect. Tell yourself: I am reducing the humanity of the very people I wish to interact with. These are people. If you find a person you like, who likes you, you have a connection, that is good. But always keep your mind on the humanity, the individuality of each person you pursue a connection with. Check your tendency to classify people as group-representatives.
posted by ead at 11:06 PM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

To be honest I think skin for guys is kind of what weight (... and skin, and other things) is for women. In that once it's "fixed" in terms of the beauty standard, you get a much larger pool of applicants. So that was probably a good choice.

Confidence really is the most important, though. I find it dreadfully difficult to be confident in a flirty environment, but all of my boyfriends have been friends first or we've had a bit of a love at first sight thing. In other words, I agree with ead, thinking of women as individuals (and genuinely befriending them) is a really good bet if you're not a natural born flirter. For me, having a boyfriend is definitely having a good friend who I also get to have sex with. It's not to me a totally different category of "now I have snagged me a man" or whatnot.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:01 AM on October 7, 2012

Want to chime in that you do sound like a catch and that nothing is wrong with you. But it does sound like your confidence has taken a bit of a beating. Understandable, but it's up to you to overcome that. Modesty and humility are good, so keep that, but self-denigration, not so much.

You're still very young. Some people are late bloomers, and that's OK. Acne does really take a toll on the self-esteem, too. I had acne when I was younger, and I got the three main products from Acne.org and their basic regimen really helped to clear me up in a few weeks.

I also used the book Intimate Connections to make friends and help meet partners. It's much better than any pickup artist material that anyone else may recommend, which in my opinion plays heavily on gender stereotypes. Burns' book simply helps people to learn relationship skills. I'm also introverted, and this book helped me.

Defining what you want helps too. Have you sat down and made a list of the qualities you want in a girlfriend? Respect, kindness, and interest in you are, of course, baseline. Don't settle just because you're lonely, or you'll find yourself lonelier still even in the presence of another. Don't tolerate anyone being indifferent or mean to you.

Look for women you have things in common with, coming from a similar background and close in age. You could try social groups that have to do with fitness since you are passionate about it, and see who you meet that way.

Also, if you want help with your online dating profile, you can always run it by us in a week. Metafilter gives great feedback on those. Sometimes it's a simple fix, like a new picture in a different light, or a word changed here and there. You are going to be fine.
posted by xenophile at 10:59 AM on October 7, 2012

I'm in a very similar spot to you, and much of what you described of yourself I find mirrors my image. I learned two things recently that have attributed to why I can't land myself a girlfriend; lack of confidence and fear of rejection.

They sort of go hand-in-hand. My fear of being rejected by women got to a point where I had almost convinced myself that no woman wanted to be with me, which lead to an extreme low of confidence. And while I'm still not up to par with my confidence, it is growing and I have been able to meet new people.

What I've done, and what I'm sure has already been suggested multiple times, is go out to gatherings that have a significant number of women. Just try talking with them and getting to know them, but don't be afraid of getting turned down.
posted by stonecutters88 at 8:59 AM on October 8, 2012

Another thing to watch out for: women have a sense for when men want "a girlfriend" as opposed to when they specifically want a specific person (i.e. the woman in question). Don't be that guy trying to fill a job vacancy.

I promise you this is really, really true. I know a guy who went to Oxbridge and then a PhD at a RG university (I'm curious as to why the comparison can't be drawn with the Ivy League, but anyway, Russell Group unis tend to be seen as 'good universities' and definitely more academic) and is now very successful in his academic field. He owns a house - something which most of my generation sees as an impossibility in the South East at least - and is very clever and funny, if a little socially inept. That description means there should be thousands of nerdy women wanting to shack up with him, right? Sadly not, because just like some men use women for sexual purposes, there are also men who want A Relationship irregardless of with whom this will be, and this is more of a turn-off than bad skin or being a little quiet.

REading your description, I instantly thought of a friend of mine who would definitely date you. You're interested in travel and sports, and to many this makes you sound fit and interesting! Are you a member of a running club or a sports group? I would bet there are many women who love exercise as much as you, but think that a potential partner wouldn't be interested and they wouldn't get to go rock-climbing in Croatia or whatever. You are lucky in that your main interest isn't particularly/generally skewed to one gender or another (you don't get many men in knitting groups as a rule).
posted by mippy at 7:07 AM on October 9, 2012

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