Given £5k, how do I get a girlfriend?
February 16, 2014 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm rapidly approaching 30 and I've never had a girlfriend. It's going to be a good year in career terms and I should be getting a nice wodge of cash in the next couple of weeks. I really don't want to be alone any more and this is a resource that I have, so how should I use it? I'm short (5ft 8) and a little tubby so maybe a personal trainer and a wardrobe refresh? Or perhaps therapy/counselling is the way to go? Should I be doing cookery or dance classes to make myself a more attractive, well-rounded person? How about a dating coach? What do you think?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It's hard to tell without knowing why you think it is you haven't had a girlfriend up until now. Have you been too busy? Do you think it's your looks or your physique? Is it because you're insecure and don't talk to women?

You shouldn't have to spend money to get a significant other. My advice is always to do the things you like to do in places where there are other people who also like to do those things. That makes it easy for you to strike up conversations and make plans where the conversations/plans have a built in "in," because you both know you both like them. For me, it's community theater (met my partner on a show he was acting in and I stage managed), but it could be anything.
posted by xingcat at 7:23 AM on February 16, 2014 [13 favorites]

What do you have the least confidence in / what do you think will help boost your confidence the most?
posted by J. Wilson at 7:35 AM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

5'8" isnt too short to get a date. No such thing.
Being tubby isnt't stopping you from getting a girlfriend either.
I see short, not well-rounded, tubby dudes with dates all the time.

Getting to the gym with a trainer will certainly improve your health and probably your confidence when you start having the strength and stamina to do things you never could before.

Some people will poopoo a dating coach, but, just like at the gym, coaches help us get better at the things we care about.

Nothing you say helps me understand why you can't get a girlfriend. Might just be that you dont leave your house or office enough.
posted by jander03 at 7:40 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

You need to ask for your friends, preferably female friends this question.

If you want to date someone who is fit and a good dresser then yes you should get a personal trainer and revamp the wardrobe. If you don't mind dating someone a little on the chubby side then you are probably fine. Being in good shape can never hurt you in the dating world, but people of all shapes and sizes find love everyday so it's not a prerequisite.

Do you have a large group of friends? If not, why not? New to town, never really found a good group? Then yes activities, classes to get out and meet people. Social anxiety, other issues holding you back then yes therapy is a great idea.

We can't know what would help you most, so I would cover all your bases. Sign up for 6-8 weeks of CBT to work on your social skills. Personal trainer is too expensive and unnecessary. Join a gym or start on an exercise program like PX90 (doesn't need to be PX90 just something structured). At the same time revamp your diet so you can start to take off the extra pounds. Join a sports team or some other class that will allow you to get out and meet people. Not necessarily just girls, but expand your social circle. When you've completed your exercise program reward yourself with some new clothes.

When you've done all of this, so probably 3-6 months from now. Try out online dating and see how it goes. Good luck!
posted by whoaali at 7:44 AM on February 16, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm rapidly approaching 30 and I've never had a girlfriend.

This is not because you're short or slightly overweight or whatever. I (and probably you) know plenty of people about that age who have had, or have, girlfriends, or even wives and kids, without looking like male models, or even being slightly short or overweight.

If you want to find yourself a girlfriend, go to places where there are single women. Interact with them, talk to them, if some of them seem fun and interesting, ask them out on dates with just the two of you.

You don't meet girls by improving your appearance. It won't hurt, sure, but there aren't going to be any more girls sitting around your flat waiting for you to ask them out just because you have a personal trainer.

"finding a girlfriend" starts with "talking to women", not "spending money".
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:02 AM on February 16, 2014 [21 favorites]

I would spend it on coffee.

Let's say a coffee date costs £6 ($10 US). A coffee date is just long enough to pique interest, and not too long in case it's awful. You can have over 800 of those dates with your money. You don't have to hit it off with all of them. Just one. See a nice woman? Ask her out, peel off £6, and see how it goes.
posted by Houstonian at 8:19 AM on February 16, 2014 [23 favorites]

The improvement has to come from inside the house, so to speak. I know a lot of shortish/overweight/geeky and otherwise "imperfect" men who have partners or get a lot of action with the ladies. What they all have in common is self-confidence and the ability and willingness to actually talk with and listen to women - women they are interested in as potential partners as well as just regular friends.

So if improving your physical appearance would help give you confidence in yourself, then sure, try that. But if you look good and still can't bring yourself to talk with and listen to women you're interested in, that alone won't help.
posted by rtha at 8:28 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I agree with xingcat that it's hard to tell what you need to do without any insight into why you've been single so far. I promise you it's not down to a lack of money; people from all walks of life find partners after all. In my own history it's never made a difference whether I've had money or not, my "success rate" has been about the same regardless. I'm going to talk about a few different things here, so forgive me if this wanders a little bit. The question is so general that I'm not sure how to structure my answer, and I'm just going to try to hit what I see as the most important points in no particular order. Also, I'm going to assume that you're male; forgive me if that's not the case, but it makes my writing easier and I have a hunch that it's correct. If you are not then please just roll your eyes at me and mentally swap pronouns where appropriate. Nearly all of my advice is, I hope, appropriate for people of all genders.

That said, there's nothing wrong with wanting to improve your presentation. If looking better helps you feel more confident and self-assured then that's sure to help you in all areas of your life, including romantic areas. However, you don't need to spend money to improve your presentation – it can help, sure, but it's not necessary.

The main thing you need to do in terms of improving your looks is to know what you want to look like. What about your looks dissatisfies you right now? (It's not about "what about your looks is unattractive to women", as "women" are not a monolithic group. This is about making yourself feel better, because that is attractive to almost everyone.) Spend a little time thinking about that before you make any moves; don't obsess about it to the point of self-hatred or anything, but take a critical look at yourself and decide what could use sprucing up.

Getting in better shape is definitely a good option, maybe your best one. Sure, different women are attracted to all sorts of different body shapes, but by and large most people prefer (all else being equal) partners who are healthy and full of vitality, and a "fit" look is also probably the most popular. Exercising will help you a lot there! Not only will you look more fit (and hence more like a person who takes care of himself, cares about the way he looks, and has the willpower and discipline to maintain a fitness regime) but you'll also feel better both physically and psychologically. You'll also be healthier – regular exercise is one of the absolute biggest predictors of overall lifetime health quality that there is, and while that may not have direct benefits in terms of finding a partner it's certainly nothing to sneeze at either.

You don't necessarily need to hire a personal trainer to get in shape. Heck, you don't need to spend any money to get in shape; running is one of the best exercises there is, and it's free. However if you think you need a bit more structure you might join a gym (find one that is convenient for you to go to, since you'll be more likely to go if it's not a hassle) and maybe schedule a handful of sessions with the gym's trainer to get you started and help you establish a regimen. Once you've made it a habit you'll be well on the way to getting fit.

As far as clothes, you probably are going to have to spend some money. Don't rush into it though; for one, if you're about to start exercising a lot you probably will change clothing sizes, and for two if you haven't paid much attention to this area before then you probably won't know how you want to look. Clothing is expensive to experiment with. You might start by reading up on some men's fashion blogs (don't take them as gospel, just look at them to see what advice or styles seem like they might or might not work for you) and if you want to experiment on the cheap start hitting up thrift shops. Save the retail stores for when your body has settled down and you have a better idea of what you like.

Thrift shops are actually great in general! You can't go to one and guarantee that you'll come out with a whole wardrobe of great clothes all at once (or even that you'll find anything good) but if you just find one or two that you like and browse them semi-regularly while only buying things that are perfect (good condition, a style that you like, fits you well) then you'll gradually build up a nice selection of clothes without spending much money. Also, anecdotally, lots of women find thrift-store shopping fun. Not all of them obviously, but I've been on more than a couple casual dates that involved thrift stores.

Some other things you might do, if you need to, involve upgrading your hygiene. Get a decent haircut and have it redone often enough that it never looks scruffy. Wear deodorant every day, if you currently don't. Keep your fingernails trimmed and clean. If you're cleanshaven, shave every day. If you have a beard, keep it trimmed and make sure that you shave around the edges every day as well. Consider a decent aftershave, but don't go crazy there.

Now, you mentioned cooking and dance classes but I'm going to make things a little more general. What you want to do, and this is perhaps more important than anything else so far, is develop your interests. What women (and people in general) like more often than anything else in my experience is partners who are interesting and who have their own thing going on. What do you like to do? What have you always wanted to do more of, but have never made much time for? Start developing that. Bonus if you can make a social activity out of it, because that will provide you the opportunity to join interest-based social groups where you might meet women with similar interests.

This can be almost anything! You could join a book club, or a hiking club, or a recreational sports team, or a tabletop roleplaying group, whatever. You could learn a musical instrument, or woodcarving, or electronics, or anything you like. It doesn't have to be a huge endeavor and you don't have to be immediately great at it – what's more important is that it's interesting and satisfying to you, so that you seem like a person who is bringing more to a relationship than just a job and some money and a burning desire to find a partner. You shouldn't brag about it or bring it up every chance you get with potential partners as that would be obnoxious; if you have interests, they will become naturally apparent to others as long as you don't try to hide them.

Also, get on OKCupid. I don't know if you've noticed, but online dating is totally the normal thing to do nowadays for people who are actively looking for a relationship. OKCupid is free and for all its flaws (and they are legion) seems to be the best and most popular general-purpose dating site out there. If you want advice or critique regarding setting up an OKCupid profile that's a whole 'nother Ask, but AskMe is a great place to come for advice in that regard.

Next, work on being nicer to be around. I'm not saying that you're currently an asshole or anything, but it never hurts to think a little bit about how the way you act is perceived and to take some steps to improve that perception. If you have a close friend whom you trust, maybe ask him or her to give you some constructive criticism about your mannerisms and behavioral habits, to point out some things you may never have noticed about yourself that may be a bit irritating or off-putting. Most of us have at least a few things like that that we could stand to work on, and in my experience a more pleasant demeanor is not only attractive but also makes all of my social interactions more pleasant in turn. It's not easy to do – by age 30 you have a lot of inertia and habit shaping your behavior, and many of your more annoying habits are probably invisible to you – but with time and patience you can definitely improve. Again, I don't mean to imply that you are more annoying than the average person, but everybody has something about their behavior that they could stand to change.

In general, some of the most common things that people could stand to work on (in my opinion) are conversational: things like listening to others, treating conversations as cooperative rather than competitive interactions, taking genuine interest in other people, talking about subjects other than themselves, not interrupting, resisting the urge to "score points" or prove other people wrong, finding things to say that are both positive and genuine, and knowing when to keep one's mouth shut. Maybe one of those struck a nerve? If so, that might be something you could work on.

Finally, the old cliché "be true to yourself" has a lot of truth to it and encompasses the intended spirit behind most of what I've said here. A great deal of being attractive to potential partners involves being the person you want to be. Nobody is (or even knows) exactly the kind of person they want to be, but all of us can work towards it. The more you come to embody your best and truest self, the happier and more confident and more relaxed you will become and the more pleasant you will be to be around (because happy people are, on the whole, more fun to spend time with than unhappy ones). That is attractive to almost everyone. It will never mean that you personally will be attractive to everyone (statistically speaking most people are just not into you, for any value of "you") but it will mean that you will be much, much more attractive to the kind of people who like the kind of person you are.

Good luck out there. Have fun!
posted by Scientist at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2014 [17 favorites]

None of the things you list: your height, being a "little tubby," not being able to cook or dance well, or having an unimpressive wardrobe are necessarily holding you back. That stuff isn't really going to make or break you in a way that isn't made up for with genuine confidence in yourself. Thinking about my dude friends our age who are in good relationships, most of them don't really cook or dance and aren't necessarily fit or well-dressed.

Investing money in a wardrobe or personal trainer? Sure, that's a great thing if it makes you feel better about yourself. Because, otherwise, trying to use your body and what you do with it as a fishing lure isn't really going to get you anywhere. Therapy or a dating coach? Again, the focus there is going to be self-esteem and self-confidence. If you can't figure out how to summon it in yourself -- which isn't simple or easy, so, yeah, it is totally understandable that you'd need a hand from a professional -- then, yeah, go for it. But actively taking advice on how to make yourself attractive to women in, again, the fishing-lure sense is a waste of your time.

Oh, and last thing: don't "refresh your wardrobe" in the sense of getting more "attractive" clothes if you don't really understand how dressing works. There is really nothing more obvious than a dude who picked his clothes out solely to attract women. It's roughly as attractive as obviously affected mannerisms. If the stuff you have is threadbare and shabby, or doesn't fit or whatever yeah, get some new gear that looks nice on you. But for the love of god don't just buy yourself a bunch of Affliction t-shirts and cowboy boots and call it a day.
posted by griphus at 8:39 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

So.. I'm short, 35, and tubby. These things don't really matter; there's lots of people of various genders out there who flat out prefer their men to be short and tubby.

The best use of your money:

- join a gym for a year. Tubby is fine, but exercise is good for you in all sorts of ways, and if being portly is hurting your self confidence then by all means do something about it. Groups tend to spring up around gyms--at the gym I belonged to a million years ago, the regulars in the yoga class had organized a monthly healthy potluck evening for ages, for example.

- take up / become more socially active in a hobby you already enjoy. Go forth and meet people and make friends. Expanding your social circle is a great way to meet potential romantic partners. "Hey," says friend from your Hobby Group, "my sister is really nice and I think you two would hit it off, give her a call." For example

- invest the rest in your future. Retirement planning or similar. Perceived stability is a huge attraction factor for lots and lots of people.

As for cooking, all you need is an internet connection. Alton Brown, obviously. Jamie Oliver too--his cooking is very simple and naturalistic and very easy to follow along. I'd also suggest Delia and The Two Fat Ladies for basically the same reasons. A few months of watching their shows and recreating the recipes will make anyone a good home cook.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

You don't need 5k to get a girlfriend, hell there are plenty of short fat people with girlfriends who have no money and you're one up on them.

You need to get into a space where you can talk to women who you're interested in dating. For you this might be a place where you have something in common, like a shared activity or interest, or it might be at a bar or nightclub. Then you need to begin approaching and talking to women. It's really that simple.

Finding a dating coach is not a bad idea.
posted by sid at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Can you cook? I agree with feckless that it doesn't take much to learn how to cook, that resources are plentiful, and would add that if your ability is at zero I recommend starting by learning to cook eggs (fried, scrambled, omelet). In doing so one learns about the heat levels on their stove and the basic principles of the act, and if one wants to rock it like a Truffaut film an omelet and salad are an easy meal to go with.
posted by mr. digits at 9:15 AM on February 16, 2014

The single most effective way to spend that money is to move somewhere there are a large number of single women.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 9:29 AM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am getting a vibe that you feel women are very different creatures from men. I may be reading too much into your question but ask yourself this: "Would I want to hang with someone who didn't give a **** about me when I didn't wear expensive clothes?" You wouldn't want friends like that (I hope) so why assume women are different?

A girlfriend is going to be your best friend (plus extra perks) so you need to focus on how to get into situations where you can find that person who won't care about your cooking skills or if you wear matching socks. You may find investing in a hobby the best way to spend your money and time: join an am-dram society, take up a sport that isn't all-male, or do some volunteering. Put yourself in social situations where you'll meet a broad spectrum of people - and don't focus too hard on meeting the dream girl right away. Just have fun out there and be totally open.
posted by kariebookish at 9:38 AM on February 16, 2014 [12 favorites]

This is not something you remotely need £5000 to do, but one thing you could do is to start getting your house in order, so to speak. When you first start dating someone, you really do find yourself spending a little more money.

For one thing, going out costs money. Someone above mentioned just using the money on a lot of coffee dates. You could totally have a large fund for dating, and know that you can basically see as many women as you want or go out as much as you want without having to worry about it.

Beyond that, while you don't need to revamp your wardrobe or remodel your home, when you start seeing someone it seems like there are suddenly a lot of little things. Do you have the right clothes to wear to X or Y activity you might like to do on a date? Do the clothes you'd likely wear on a date look presentable? Think, like, "Do I have hiking boots?" or "Do all my t-shirts have stains on them?" not "whole new wardrobe".

Is your apartment the kind of place you could bring someone to stay the night? Like the clothing question this isn't so much about a complete remodel, but, do you have an extra towel? A stash of condoms? What's your bed like? Could you offer someone a drink or cook someone a meal without having to think about what you have on hand or whether there are enough forks?

When you start dating someone, you suddenly find that there are a lot of little things to spend money on that you otherwise wouldn't think much about. Socking away your bonus so that, whatever the situation, you can drop everything and just enjoy yourself rather than being self-conscious about the holes in your socks, could be a great use of that money.

As far as finding women to wear a clean t-shirt for and lend a towel to, I agree with everyone else here that the trick there is get out and meet more women. Online dating can be great for this, as can expanding your circle of friends or doing some kind of organized hobby that women also tend to do. This might be another worthwhile way to spend a little money.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on February 16, 2014 [9 favorites]

Might I suggest taking up dancing? It will help with your physical fitness and get you more comfortable getting up close to women.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Beyond what's already been said, I would suggest you review your life in layers.

1. Do you act your age? (is your place decorated like a university dormitory? are your friends all younger than you? it's good to have a mix of friends, including contemporaries and people older than you)

2. Do you have your act together? (no deferred car maintenance, current on dental/medical visits, good credit ratings, no "red flag" vices, etc.)

3. Do you have a life plan? (just a few sentences about your career ambitions and where you generally see yourself in five years, articulated in a reasonable way -- and leave some room in the plan for a significant other)

4. Are you focused on the now? (it's okay to discuss the past or the future, but most of your conversation needs to be in the present moment; and your home should not be a shrine to the past or some empty shell waiting for a future)

Around the age of 30, your stock will rise by focusing a bit on these four areas.
posted by 99percentfake at 9:57 AM on February 16, 2014 [21 favorites]

You only need $5.

Don't for get to do the exercises as written.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:03 AM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don´t get a wardrobe refresh, and cookery, dance or skydiving classes to make yourself more attractive. It won´t work.

Get some clothes you really, genuinely like.

Take classes of something you enjoy and want to do.

Do whatever YOU want to do.

Don´t become "well rounded". Become YOU.

THAT is going to make you more attractive.
posted by Fermin at 11:22 AM on February 16, 2014 [7 favorites]

You want someone who will love you for you, not a 'new and improved' version of you that will only stick around for a short while until you fall back into old routines and habits. Unless you're going for a complete lifestyle change here and are willing to put dating off for a long while so you can change for yourself only, I would advise you to start loving and cherishing yourself right now and embracing who you are instead. Trying to change yourself temporarily so you can snag a girlfriend is not going to do you any good.

The fact that you think you're too short, too fat, and not good with women speaks to your insecurities more than anything. There are plenty of women who are dating or married to men of average to below average height and who are a bit fluffy.

To me it sounds like you need to work on your self-esteem first before anything superficial. Without a solid sense of self-esteem and self-worth, you'll never be emotionally strong, confident, and attractive to women, no matter how much work you do on your appearance. There are plenty of very attractive tall men out there with low self-esteem who have a difficult time keeping their women happy.

10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem: How to End Self-Doubt, Gain Confidence, & Create a Positive Self-Image by Glenn R. Schiraldi PhD

Read that book before you do anything else. Then start to care for yourself as if you are caring for a partner you adore- someone you cherish. Exercise, take great care of your body, moisturize your skin, drink lots of filtered water, nurture yourself with healthy foods and get lots of rest. Start having a positive, uplifting internal dialogue with yourself about your abilities. Love yourself. Once you fully embrace yourself and learn how to nurture yourself properly, dating will seem effortless compared to how it seems now.
posted by OneHermit at 11:40 AM on February 16, 2014

There is a person of my acquaintance who is 5'8, and a little tubby, and who has never lacked for female companionship. He's in his 30s, recently ended a long-term relationship and has been dating via OKCupid, and has been seeing a woman for a couple of months whom he really likes. So nothing you've said is anything like a dealkiller.

Here are my tips:

1. Be interested. People are interesting creatures; talk to them, be interested in their lives, be interested in their hobbies and their passions. Not everyone will be interesting to you, but the only way to find out is to be generally interested in the people you run across.

2. Be interesting. Have hobbies and passions yourself. Taking classes is good; it causes you to meet more people AND makes you more interesting! But in general, DO things.

3. Be a grownup. As 99percentfake says, have your finances in gear, be on top of your shit, take care of your teeth, have your home not be a sty.

4. Know what you want. Do you want to meet a bunch of different people and date casually? Do you want a partner to enmesh your life with? Do you want someone whom you see 2 or 3 times a week in perpetuity? Kids, yes or no? Any answers are fine, as long as you're clear.

5. Use OKCupid. Dating is hard enough in your twenties when your life is in flux and you're all thrown in with all kinds of other people whose lives are also in flux. It's nearly impossible as you get older and people's lives and social circles become more settled in.

and, last but definitely not least:

6. Be the kind of person who's a good partner. Kind and respectful, clearly communicative, willing to own your own baggage and solve problems collaboratively.
posted by KathrynT at 12:06 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fix the things that bother you, because then you'll feel better and feeling good about yourself is attractive.

For example I had my teeth fixed because they bothered me and stopped me from wanting to smile. Nobody else had ever complained about my teeth, but that's not the point. They made me feel less attractive, so I was.

You can't make yourself taller, so forget about that. There are plenty of short women in the world who don't care.

You mention being tubby, so it obviously bothers you, so it's a problem even if it bothers nobody else.
The best approach to fixing that is diet and exercise and less obviously, the right clothes, since your wardrobe can make you look fatter or thinner than you actually are. So I'd say you were right on target with "personal trainer and a wardrobe refresh" although I'd add some kind of diet plan to that, possibly instead of the personal trainer. And actually following a diet plan involves learning to cook new stuff, so that happens as a side effect.

And once you've spruced yourself up and are feeling good, online dating.
Good luck!
posted by w0mbat at 1:01 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't have time to read all responses, so sorry if I am duplicating.

The first thing that leaps to mind is a gym membership. Not because you are a little tubby, in itself, but partially because clearly it's an issue to you or you wouldn't mention it. Confidence is the #1 thing you need when approaching women, so anything that makes you more confident is a good idea. Going to the gym is great for improving your disposition (endorphins!) and making you proud of yourself. Doing something proactive for your health is a great way of sending yourself the message that you are a worthwhile person to date.

Taking some classes might be a good way to go, too, as long as you are picking something you are legitimately interested in, so you get something out of it and enjoy it even if you don't meet someone to date. Engaging in something enjoyable and expanding your horizons, again, makes you a more appealing dating partner.

As for therapy, I'm not as big of a fan as many mefites. I suppose if you have particular issues you want to work on, it might be a go. But I'm more a fan of getting yourself out there, engaging with life, and being open to whatever comes along.

Don't overthink it at this point. Pick something and do it. If you're not pleased with the results, pick something else and Go.

As for the 5'8" thing, that's not tall, but neither is it really "short". I don't believe it is much of a handicap in meeting women, *unless* you let it undermine your confidence. You may want to make a point of consciously noticing all the non-tall men strolling around with women on their arm. There are a lot of them.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 1:21 PM on February 16, 2014

I am getting a vibe that you feel women are very different creatures from men.

Ditto. I'm all for self-improvement and have seen an increase in positive responses to me after benefiting from many of the things you're talking about doing, some of which can cost money, yes. But something about the notion that if you just do x y z you'll "get a girlfriend" within a year with 5k... I don't know, it makes me wonder if you might be vulnerable to PUA ideas. Which, if you followed them, might "get you" an insecure and miserable girlfriend but would make a genuine connection impossible, because that sort of thing is about manipulation. So I hope zero % of this worry is justified.

In case it even slightly isn't (e.g. if you look at women as beautiful, mysterious birds, or as untouchable, unknowable things who have power over you, or if you've mentally rated women for attractiveness using numerical systems, or even if you've just all your life found us confusing) I would work on getting to understand and know women as people, and addressing this in therapy.

Self-confidence is attractive to everyone. It's good to like yourself, to have faith in your inherent goodness* and in your personal qualities*, and to think, "hey, I look all right". JWilson is right -- look at what you worry about, and work to address it. It is empowering to have physical self-confidence, and to dress well (I'm not against makeovers). If you don't feel good about yourself in whatever area, address it.

But it's not like there's some objective standard you have to meet to be attractive to "women".

By the way, 5'8 is around the world-wide average height for men, it's not short! I'm a 5'7 woman and have dated men 5'3-6'2 (guessing; I haven't measured anyone) -- I don't think I'm out of the ordinary that way. So much else matters more than height.

*and to find these in others -- kindness and generosity of spirit are hot.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:21 PM on February 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think not having a girlfriend will almost always be a confidence issue rather than a genuine problem with one's appearance or personality. By all means, if working out regularly will make you feel more confident, definitely do it. I think taking cooking lessons is unlikely to help you win over a woman -- most women want a nice guy who treats them well and respects them. The issue here is probably that you lack the confidence to chat with women the way you would anyone else you want to get to know. Work on bettering yourself and feeling like a great version of yourself.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:06 PM on February 16, 2014

The one thig I didn't see mentioned here (which might just be because I'm on my phone and scrolling quickly) is that a lot of people who haven't had relationships have a tendency to look on every member of the opposite sex as either someone they hope to date or someone undesirable/creepy/whatever.

so yes, spend your money doing the things you love and meeting others who love them, and make friends with men and women with no expectations (but no self-defeating assumptions that you're undesirable yourself) and just see where it goes.
posted by capricorn at 2:51 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Everyone here is completely and totally right when they say you cannot buy a new you that will miraculously find love. Every quality you have is one that is found in people in happy relationships. So forget the money and just go for it, but...

The one thing I'd say is, if you've got an extra pile of money, do go ahead and start exercising. Hire a personal trainer, or find a gym or martial art or physical activity that resonates for you, and spend money to game yourself into going consistently (I get to buy myself an x if I go to the gym x times a week, etc.) Why? Not because gym people have better love lives (au contraire, I would never consider dating the majority of people I see at the gym) but exercise does have an anti-depressent, emotionally regulating, confidence building, and of course physical well being increasing impact. And regular exercise (not to be mistaken with just trying to lose weight) increases your chances of living longer, and therefore getting more time to enjoy whatever relationships are in your future.
posted by latkes at 5:05 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm going to ditto people suggesting exercising not because it will make you more attractive, but because it will make you feel better about yourself, and feeling okay about yourself is a very defining feature of being able to meet people and have relationships that don't suck, among many other things.

I was just talking with an old, old friend the other day and reflecting on how neither of us is ever going to be super-buff but we are both substantially more comfortable in our skins since we started actually paying some attention to physical fitness, and how nice that is. You may still continue to be tubby, especially if you also want to learn to cook--won't really matter. If you're interested in your body doing sexy body things with other people's bodies, then getting in touch with your body is important.

Aside from that, yeah, the most important thing is just to get out there, once you're ready for it, and accept that basically everybody who didn't have their parents arrange a marriage for them has gone through a bunch of bad dates and iffy relationships before they settle down. Good judgment comes from experience, much of which comes from bad judgment, as they say--making mistakes and the willingness to do so is a necessary component.
posted by Sequence at 6:12 PM on February 16, 2014 [2 favorites]

I am not sure how you go about dating. Have you tried online dating? I met my fiance through online dating. I do not know how I would have gotten a date post college. (I only had 1 boyfriend by that time). As a woman I do slightly look at appearance for attraction, but the biggest thing I want is personality and someone who is nice. Although being nice is complicated since some 'nice' guys come off as creepy if they don't understand how to socialize with another person.

My suggestion would be to try online dating. If it doesn't work, then maybe try a therapist to find out if there is some manorism that is turning people away.

Cultivating hobbies by cooking and dancing should be done for yourself. It may be attractive to women, but it may not depending on the person. So if you doanything make sure you do it for yourself.

Good luck. I hope you can find a nice woman.

Also depending on your finances, saving the money might be smart. I think men who are good with their finances are attractive, but to each their own. That being said It also makes sense to spend money on what is important to you.
posted by Jaelma24 at 6:32 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Well, for one thing, faint heart never won fair lady.

30 and never a girlfriend, very likely faint hearted with women. Curing this won't be easy and will necessarily involve doing some things you find scary or uncomfortable. Resolve yourself to taking this on.

Most important thing is getting out there in the world and interacting with actual women. I think the suggestion of a dance class is a good idea, but the main thing is getting out of the house and doing something where you interact with other people including women.

If you are not on Match/OKC/etc, fix that. You're not looking for a wife or a soul mate. You're looking for practice interacting with the female half of the human race, one on one. It's OK to date someone once and decide you don't want to see them again. This isn't easy to do, but you will need to learn to do it. You have to get used to rejecting as well as getting rejected. Don't be picky, don't try to perceive your perfect match through a computer screen, just go on as many dates as you can get.

I would avoid losing your virginity through causal sex. It's probably going to hurt if you experiment with casual sex, maybe a lot. If you get the opportunity it may be hard to resist taking it, but my advice is wait for a relationship where you're pretty sure the girl is seriously interested in you.

If you have morose or self-deprecating mannerisms, you have to break those habits. Not at all attractive. Do you dress well, are you well groomed? You don't have to be a GQ model, but you should look like you're paying attention and making some effort.

I think a dating coach might be OK, but be honest with yourself if it's really making a difference, and cut him (her?) if it's not.

Don't despair. A buddy of mine is about your age, never had a girlfriend until this year. From what I gather it has gone very well and he's quite happy. Definitely not too late.
posted by mattu at 6:32 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think dance classes can be a good way to address a whole lot of things all at once - exercise that's actually fun, posture and presentation training, a new social environment which opens new/different doors, etc. But this is a long-term plan (months and years), and the kind of dance you choose or like affects things. Eg if you're learning social dancing, instructors won't focus very much on things like posture, presentation, movement, attire, compared to if you set out with a goal of eventually doing say, ballroom competition. But competition is a long-term goal that over the years will rack up a fair bit more than $5k, which is fine if you discover you enjoy it, but not a good plan if it turns out you hate it. Social dancing on the other hand might have you dancing with a larger number of people, some of whom, if you're both regulars, may become friends. Dance classes might also get you used to overcoming the fear of looking awkward, and thus take the fear out of night clubs, which are another avenue for meeting people.

Regardless, use online dating to go on a lot of dates, if only to get some experience with dating. No pressure - the dates don't need to go anywhere, it's fine if they decide you're not their type, you're just learning to be comfortable having an enjoyable time with someone when romance is potentially on the table. It's something that you can practice, and enjoy practicing. Online dating will suck up a lot of time though - for most guys it takes a lot of messaging to get a date, and it's guaranteed that the vast majority of people you write to will not respond. (It's very important to understand that so that you don't interpret it as rejection and get all down on yourself.)
posted by anonymisc at 9:21 PM on February 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree you don't need a wardrobe makeover to get a girlfriend, but I will note that thirty is around the age that a lot of men realise they're still dressing like they did at university and start moving towards a more adult look. If you tend to wear, say, t-shirts that you got free from a conference, baggy jeans, and hoodies, you might benefit from slowly putting some mature pieces into your wardrobe.

The most important thing isn't brand or style, though some styles definitely look dated. The most important thing is fit. So many men wear clothing that's too large for them.

A couple of quick tips/ideas.

Jeans: Dark or medium wash, not skinny, not baggy.

Casual pants: No pleats, and get them hemmed so you don't look like your legs are melting.

Shoes: Jogging shoes are for jogging. Get some nice leather shoes, or, if you want to wear sneakers, Chucks are classic.

Jumpers: Wool or cashmere. There's a bit of an anti-hipster backlash against v-necks at the moment, but I think v-necks look fantastic on men, and if you're a bit stocky they're much more flattering than round-necks.

Jackets: Get a couple that suit the weather/environment you're in.

Business: If you have to wear a suit to work, get it tailored, or at the very least, get the sleeves and the pants hemmed. (Congratulations! You now look better than 90% of celebrities on the red carpet.) Make sure shirts are not too baggy, especially around the waist. Nice leather belt. No novelty ties.

If you're not sure how to judge if clothing fits you right, that's what sales assistants are for. Or ask a friend who has a good eye to come shopping with you. Just trying on a bunch of, say, jeans until you realise what cut looks best on you can be really helpful, and once you can recognise that, it's much easier to shop for yourself next time.

Good luck!
posted by Georgina at 9:39 PM on February 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Why do you think you need to change yourself before someone will love you? I think you should find a nice therapist who can help answer that question.

Putting aside money for the incidental expenses of dating is also a good idea.
posted by sam_harms at 1:05 AM on February 17, 2014

I'm rapidly approaching 30 and I've never had a girlfriend.

Let me therefore make an assumption that you have therefore spent at least half your life in a state where you wanted to have a girlfriend and where you failed to do so. That is enough time to build up some serious insecurity and feelings of hurt. As others pointed out, the reasons you gave for why you have not got a girlfriend are not really valid. So there must be one or more others: maybe you're shy, maybe you've been avoiding women - whatever. But you need to know this in order to fix your problem efficiently and avoid tackling symptom rather than cause.

So the first item I'd put on my list would be a visit to a counsellor. You can find one near you in the UK Counselling Directory.Look for somebody who specialises in relationship issues - beyond that study the biographies and seek out somebody who seems to resonate with you and who seems more interested in constructive listening than in pushing a particular therapy type. A good counsellor will help you identify root causes of your problems and then proceed to come up with the most efficient strategies for fixing them. You should probably be able to look at spending no more than a tenth of your budget on a counselling.
posted by rongorongo at 6:52 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Smile more. Go to a fancy salon and get a haircut ("I want a change, what do you suggest?"). Lose some weight (run, eat less crap). Brush your teeth, make sure you don't smell bad. Get a nice coat and shoes.

If you look better, people (men and women) do treat you better - sad fact of life!
posted by dickasso at 10:28 AM on February 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not about money. It's not about clothes (although it wouldn't hurt to buy a few new outfits - doesn't have to be fancy or expensive - even walmart or target type stuff is fine). Buy good shoes, though - not fancy Italian leather, but something quality that will last; it's cheaper to spend more once than to spend less often. It's not about the car you drive, or what you do for a living. If you can pay your bills and put a bit in savings each month, that's fine. Buy some clothes and a couple pair of shoes, put the money in savings to earn interest.

It's not about your looks. 5'8" and "a little tubby"? Irrelevant.

It's all about personality. Can you be yourself? Can you smile, relax, laugh? Tell a joke? Make an interesting story about what you did with your boring day at work?

If you can make someone else smile and laugh, the rest is all downhill.

I used to worry about all the other stuff too. I'm 5'10", honestly morbidly obese, but in the end I realized that all that mattered was me, the person inside - and eventually I found real, true friends (and for 11 years until she passed, a wife) that only cared about the person inside as well.
posted by mrbill at 12:22 PM on February 17, 2014

Tricky to change one's personality! Let's hope anon has some interesting and/or funny stuff to say already, given the right atmosphere and recipient.

Those who only care about the person inside are utterly wonderful human beings, but also incredibly rare. Smartening up a bit gives the other 99% a chance.

(Also worth researching the market and targeting specific demographics when using online dating sites, check the OKCupid stats blog. Freakonomics recently did a podcast on the subject too.)
posted by dickasso at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2014

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