I don't want to meet my wife on Tinder
July 14, 2014 7:06 AM   Subscribe

I'm inept at dating in the real world. Help me learn how to take a girl from acquaintance to date and face the uncertainty in between.

I'm the author of this previous post from April. (FYI:The girl at the center of that post did not work out. Long story short I never asked her out on a date but our messages got very short/infrequent very quickly so I chalked it up to disinterest and gave up.)

I'm posting here because a few weeks ago I met (and fallen extremely hard for) someone, I haven't feel this level of attraction to someone in a long time. Sadly though, I find that once I start going to friends (and ultimately MeFi...) for advice on a specific girl I have entered the point of overthinking everything and dooming any future interactions.

My current situation is very similar but I think I need to approach it from a broader perspective. It has become very clear to me that something on my end is consistently wrong. My way of thinking, and how I act on my thoughts/feelings - I must be approaching the goal of a relationship the wrong way?

My MO has been 1) meet a girl 2) Start chatting on facebook 3) Get her number/invite her out somewhere 4) ???

Since that post in April I've downloaded Tinder in an effort to meet more girls/get out on more actual dates (what is more awkward than a first date that is also the first time meeting each other, right?). It has been great for casual dating and hookups but I'm looking for something more than just physical attraction. It has confirmed for me that once I'm in 'dating mode' with a girl things can and do proceed very well.

My recent 'failures' with girls I have met in real life situations have been made more confusing/depressing though. I feel as if there is an implicit psychological effect of having been 'matched' with someone that allows me to possibly be more aggressive or at least more confident.
For example, with this girl I'm crushing on now, we left off our messaging with her inviting me to an event this weekend which ended up getting canceled. Technically the ball is in her court in terms of sending another message. I know I could just send one(double messaging eek!) but I feel almost afraid to do so.

Has anyone been in my shoes? What can I do to change all of this? I seem to have trouble understanding how to go from "female human who knows me" to potential date. I hear, "I met my wife waiting on the line at the Post Office" and cannot at all process how that could ever happen.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
1. Women. You are dating women, not girls, unless your dates are under 18. Women. They are adult human beings.

2. You said you do well once you are dating. So, you ask her out on a date. If the event is cancelled, you ask her on another date.
posted by jaguar at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2014 [38 favorites]

Why is the ball in her court? Do you only want to date aggressive women? What about the nice girls who fall into more traditional dating roles? I hear single men complain all the time about how they only get crazy women and then I spend some time with them and realize that they are the ones making the women crazy. Stop making women crazy.

1) Be direct. If you feel strongly for someone, put it all out there.
2) If you want to see her, ask to see her. Ask for a specific time and outing. Do not wait for her to take call you.
3) Pay for every outing. If you cannot afford an expensive outing, plan for an inexpensive outing.
4) Be prepared. Have your tank full, your reservations made, and your apartment clean.
5) Accept that there are only a few people in this world who you could possibly fall madly in love with and most of your dates are going to be just for fun, and may never lead anywhere.
posted by myselfasme at 7:14 AM on July 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Just put it out there. Call her on the phone and ask her out on a date.

"Karen, you're a real hoot, I'd love to take you out. Are you free this weekend for dinner and a movie?"

Note how there's no ambiguity there, she knows you're interested in her romantically, and you're proposing a concrete and specific thing. You can then spend the next week texing or Facebooking about what movie and where for dinner.

Also, if she's not interested in dating, she can specifically tell you so, and not tap dance around a 'hang-out' or playing tag on social media. I think a lot of problems people have around gauging interest of members of the opposite sex is that in an effort not to come on too strong, or to keep from being vulnerable, you play the 'friend-game' then you spend hours mind-fucking every little thing to for clues to what your relationship may actually be.

So sack-up and properly ask the woman out on a date. Also, woman, not girl.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:19 AM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

What is more awkward than a first date that is also the first time meeting each other, right?
Oh, I can think of so many more awkward things than this. I met my boyfriend of 1.5 years on OkCupid. Every time my mom asks about him she brings it up: "Wasn't it weird to meet him on your first date?" ... No? It's no weirder than meeting him the way she met my dad; she was on a date that her friends set her up with and my dad happened to tag along and she liked my dad better than the other guy. How is that less weird - or less awkward! - than purposefully looking for someone that I share mutual interests and attraction with on the Internet? The way I did it was planned out, it was purposeful, it was direct, there was no guessing: we saw one another's pictures and read each other's profiles and emailed a bit and we liked each other well enough to meet in person. That's straightforward! It's clear! It's a logical way to date! I am enthusiastic about Internet dating because it works really well for introverts and people who like to plan things out, two things that describe me well.

If you aren't looking for a hookup, Tindr is not the place for you. Try something that is more geared toward dating and relationships, like Match.com. Even OkCupid is not great for dating; there are a lot of people looking for more casual things there.

Also, get away from those "rules" about who contacts whom when and all that. If you want to contact her, contact her. By not contacting her, you're presenting a false version of yourself: someone who doesn't want to contact her. That's not true; you want to contact her! Do what you want, as long as it's reasonable (and yeah, getting in touch again after one cancellation is reasonable; more cancellations, and you've got your answer, don't keep trying). Be yourself. You know what I did on my first date with my boyfriend? I met him and I said "I am nervous!" because I was nervous and he laughed and he told me he was nervous too, and then that was out of the way, and we had a great time talking.

You're probably not going to meet your wife waiting in line at the post office but that sounds exhausting to me, as an introvert who likes to plan things.

Good luck. Be yourself. Cultivate yourself and your hobbies. Go on a more serious dating-oriented site. And think of dates as "something to do" rather than "a way to meet my future wife" because most of the women you meet will not be your future wife - only one will - and it might take awhile to meet her. Try to enjoy the process as much as you can.
posted by sockermom at 7:23 AM on July 14, 2014 [7 favorites]

Tinder is easier because the matches are more explicit. Nobody is there to make new friends. So be equally explicit with this woman you're interested in: ask her out on a date, and say that it's a date.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:24 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Technically the ball is in her court in terms of sending another message.

Technically what? No. You are dating, this is not some kind of complex rigging of pulleys and switches.

1) She invites you to event.
2) Event gets cancelled.
3) You say hey, how about we go do [blah] instead.

In general, if you are interested in a person, the next step is to let them know that. You're adults; the days of facebook chatting should be behind you. Want to chat with someone you're interested in? Ask them to go on a date and to join you for coffee/drinks/whatever.

Wallowing around waiting for someone to answer your unspoken "do you like me too" before you do anything isn't going to accomplish much.
posted by phunniemee at 7:26 AM on July 14, 2014 [4 favorites]

Your question is kind of all over the place, if I may say so. Are you asking how to meet people in real life as opposed to online? Or are you asking how to progress from initial interest (however that's achieved) to dating to a relationship?

For the first one, asking someone out at the post office or some such place has been successfully done I'm sure, but it's not that easy. It's easier to ask people out in social situations like parties, bars, group activities, volunteer events, and so on. Don't set your sites that high if it intimidates you. Just buy your stamps and leave.

As for the second one, I think your M.O. sounds great. For number 4, if she says yes, go out on the date. If it goes well, ask her out again. What's the problem you're having?

Don't be afraid of "double messaging" or showing interest. You don't want to harass someone, but you seem to erring on the other side where you're expecting the other person to take initiative.
posted by Leontine at 7:29 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Technically the ball is in her court in terms of sending another message.

I'm afraid I don't understand your current situation. Someone invited you to a specific event, which -- from your wording -- was cancelled (as opposed to her cancelling her own invite), correct? I don't see why rescheduling the event would necessarily be "in her court," with you helpless to do anything about it.

The only reason that there are "courts" at all, in early courtship, is so that there is a framework within which people can formally/symbolically express interest. In other words, to help protect us from accidentally appearing pushy or needy. Within reason, once the first few moves have been made, "courts" can be disposed of. She has made her intent to see you socially quite clear, by inviting you to a (now cancelled) event. There is no risk of stigma or embarrassment in you making the first move to reschedule; in fact, she would probably appreciate that reciprocation.

I mean, it's certainly possible that she's somehow lost interest (in between asking you out and the cancelling of the intended event). That happens. But it's more likely that she's still interested, and wouldn't mind having you save her some effort. In a sense, you're actually expecting her to put her neck out twice, here.

More broadly speaking, perhaps it's the mindset that spawns words like "technically," that's the "consistently wrong" issue, here. You seem to be aware that you might be overthinking, so working on not obsessing about process might be a good idea. Moving forward, in a similar situation, it's totally normal/casual, to say something like, "Bummer that the thing you invited me to got nixed; I was looking forward to doing something together! If you don't already have an alternative lined up, I was thinking we could do x instead," as an immediate reply. That way, she knows her effort (and emotional exposure) is being returned in kind, and no one has to sit around worrying about who is "supposed" to take the next step.
posted by credible hulk at 7:39 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, don't approach random women at the post office. Or anywhere. Take that pressure off yourself; life is not a romcom.

But do let your friends know you're available, looking, etc. You might be surprised how many single women come out of the woodwork once your friends know your situation. Do accept as many invitations from friends as possible, and show up to these social events and enjoy yourself.

What kinds of hobbies do you have? Dating is not a hobby. IMHO, men who are overly preoccupied with dating and finding a girlfriend are extremely boring and highly likely to give off desperate vibes. So avoid that.

I'm sure you've heard this advice thousands of times, but I think you'll have the best success if you take the pressure off the goal of "finding a girlfriend" (or wife) and just get really into doing you, living your life, being an interesting guy and cultivating talents and skills and interests and stuff. Be the person you'd want to date (gender aside); be the type of person you want to attract and don't sweat it so much. There are no rules.
posted by magdalemon at 7:45 AM on July 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Oh, and lest you think that the above advice is coming from a place of supreme ease with things like dating...

It's coming from a dude who took hours to fully process/accept that the 15+ friends who showed up at his house (all of whom had driven ~ 50 miles to do so) were actually, really-really there to throw him a surprise birthday party.

And then encountered the same mental block, when they did the same thing the next year.
posted by credible hulk at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Actually--I was wrong just now. There are rules! The main one is to be respectful. Don't ever get to thinking that anyone owes you anything (lest you fall into the trap of believing in a "friend zone").

And honestly, the more I think about this and reflect on some past life experiences? The best/longest/most serious and fulfilling relationships I've had all began with clear, unequivocal expressions of interest. Showing sincere interest, consistently, will pay off big-time.

I remember when my boyfriend and I first got together. I had also been (casually) dating a guy who was into some "The Rules" shit and PUA tactics. Barf. By contrast, my boyfriend was wonderfully direct and unconcerned with playing it cool. One time I asked him why he called me right after a date--it was an early date, like our second or third--and he said, without pausing, that he just wanted to talk to me. Like, no big deal. You want to talk to somebody? Talk to them. Tell them you're interested. Don't play it cool and stay up worrying about "double messaging" or whatever. That sounds a little like a PUA thing, and it will really damage your chances of success with adult women.
posted by magdalemon at 7:58 AM on July 14, 2014 [13 favorites]

You just have to do it. The reason things didn't work out with that other woman is that you never asked her out. You have to use the word date, don't worry about waiting for signals or beig awkward, and just ask. That's really all there is to it. If she likes you at all she'll probably give you at least one date.
posted by quincunx at 8:17 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I seem to have trouble understanding how to go from "female human who knows me" to potential date.

The best way you get to a potential date is to ask..

I hear, "I met my wife waiting on the line at the Post Office" and cannot at all process how that could ever happen.

You never know how you're going to meet your next partner and in the off-line world (as opposed to online), the best way to meet someone is to stop trying to meet someone. Just relax, be yourself, be open and be happy with your own lot.

It sounds like your main issue is confidence.. one way to increase your confidence is to stop putting so much pressure on yourself. Instead of looking for your wife everywhere, just try to open yourself to love.
posted by Gray Skies at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2014

I don't want to meet my wife on Tinder

OK, I just noticed the title of your question here.

First of all, as a few people have mentioned, going into dating as "a way to meet my wife" is putting way too much pressure on the thing. You date to meet interesting people; you continue dating to maybe find someone who sticks.

But anyway, why wouldn't you want to meet "your wife" on Tinder? If you think so poorly of the women who use Tinder, you shouldn't use Tinder yourself. Meeting people is meeting people--if you meet someone cool and you guys click, what on earth difference does it make that you met them on a dating app rather than in the produce aisle at the grocery store?
posted by phunniemee at 8:25 AM on July 14, 2014 [12 favorites]

I hear, "I met my wife waiting on the line at the Post Office" and cannot at all process how that could ever happen.

It seems impossible until it happens, and then it just does and feels like the most natural thing in the world. Basically the problem here is that you crushing hard on someone doesn't imply the reciprocal and trying to force it to happen is kind of a recipe for heartbreak. Just relax, talk to people, and when its meant to happen, it'll be easy.
posted by empath at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2014

My MO has been 1) meet a girl 2) Start chatting on facebook 3) Get her number/invite her out somewhere 4) ???

I'm not trying to be mean, but it's a little funny to me that 4) is where you get lost. Number four is: wait for an answer from the woman. If she says yes, then you agree upon a time and a palce and then you meet her there and you talk and flirt. If it's going well and you've been in one place for a while, you can suggest going somewhere else and doing something else (e.g. if you were having coffee, you can suggest dinner; if you were at dinner and talking about bowling and you know a really good bowling alley, you can suggest going bowling, etc). If she says yes, then you go to that new place and you keep talking and flirting until you decide to either a) suggest going somewhere else or b) call it a night.

If you get home and decide you had a nice time, contact her again and ask her if she wants to meet you for dinner/lunch/bike riding on a specific day, and if she says yes, then you meet up with her and do the talking/flirting thing again. Continue with this cycle until you either a) start kissing or b) one of you decides they're not interested.

The thing about this process is that there are no shortcuts really, and no magic tricks. If you like someone and want to find out if they like you, you have to take a risk at some point and tell them or show them that you like them. This seemed to be the root of your problem in your last question, and I can sympathize, because it's scary taking an emotional risk. Putting it off and trying to suss out whether or not she's interested through Facebook chatting probably seems safer, but you're risking something there too, and that is: she could get tired of chatting with a guy who she'd thought was interesting but who doesn't seem interested in meeting up in person any time in the near future. I'm a woman, and that has happened to me a number of times. So: be brave! I know you can do it!
posted by colfax at 8:32 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Lots of marriages are just hookups that happen to "stick".

Like people have pointed out upthread, the great thing about it (and dating sites) is that both people know the other one is there for the same reason.
posted by supercres at 8:56 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wait, seriously? The girl in that April question - You messaged her after that walk and never asked her out? You dropped the ball, dude.

Get on OkCupid. Message girls. Ask them out in the 2nd or 3rd message.

Meet girls through friends (parties, etc.). Get their number (only find them on Facebook if you absolutely didn't have the opportunity to ask for their number for some reason. Try asking a friend for their number before you look them up on FB). Ask them out in the first or second text message you send them.

Whether you like it or not, the burden to drive the rhythm of the early days of dating someone new is typically on the guy in a straight relationship. You should be gauging her response - is she enthusiastic, quick to get back to you, making suggestions of her own? But many women won't take the reins and ask you out until about the 4th or 5th successful date. The politics and morals of gender aside, this is just reality. You need to be more aggressive!
posted by amaire at 9:13 AM on July 14, 2014

If you don't want to meet your wife on Tinder, then go on OkCupid. Or Match. Or E-Harmony.

I agree with phunniemee, though -- people are people, I don't see why it matters what site or app you meet them through? In fact a lot of the same women probably use multiple dating services.
posted by Asparagus at 10:20 AM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

My way of thinking, and how I act on my thoughts/feelings - I must be approaching the goal of a relationship the wrong way?
Yeah, I think you are. I feel like you may be projecting some traits which may be turning women off. Going into online dating with the mindset of looking for a wife is kind of jumping the gun, so to speak, and quickly crushing on someone who you barely know will make you look desperate and weak.

Imagine you're on a job interview and your prospective employer suddenly start gushing about how you'd be perfect for the job and how it's so hard to find someone.. etc. Makes you a bit hesitant to work there, doesn't it? What's wrong with this company that they're so desperate to hire anyone into your position?

Even if you are feeling very good about where things are headed with one of your dates, I don't think you should be so gushingly obvious about it. Men are supposed to be more reserved with their feelings. And yes, I know that you don't have to adhere to stereotypes about masculine behavior and we're all enlightened blah blah blah but the odds of the women you meet online being deeply into progressive feminist philosophy are vanishingly small, so you'll probably have to pretend to adhere to gender norms, at least at first.
My MO has been 1) meet a girl 2) Start chatting on facebook 3) Get her number/invite her out somewhere 4) ???
That part is right. But it seems like you have some expectations about steps 5) and beyond that are getting you in your head before you've forged the beginnings of a relationship that could head in that direction. Your notions of what you want out of a relationship are good to have, I'm not knocking that. I think you could be a little more confident and less stressed about the initial phases of dating if you reigned it in a bit and didn't focus so hard on how this girl could be your wife, etc. That puts an awful lot of pressure on you to make sure this is the one, and nobody wants to be on the receiving end of that. See what I mean?
posted by deathpanels at 11:30 AM on July 14, 2014

Man, dating really can be a real bummer at times! Everyone above made some great points and suggestions; indeed, online dating can certainly result in some wonderful matches but it can be frustrating, too. It sounds like you are looking to branch out from what you’re currently doing since it’s not yielding the results you’d like. Having that realization, however painful, then deciding to mix things up is a great next step!

Since you’d like to meet more potential dates in person, here’s some specific advice surrounding the post office, since you had mentioned it as a random (but certainly possible!) place to meet. However, this could apply across the board with the actual location being most anywhere. Let’s say you have a P.O. Box that you check a few times a week on your lunch break after you’ve had a bite to eat and enjoyed getting the fresh air along the way. You keep a cheerful disposition and start by saying hi to people you regularly see. You then start making chitchat with others, like the clerk “Gosh, yesterday sure was busy! I’m glad you’re getting a breather today” or someone mailing a festive package (as long as they’re not in a rush ;-) “Wow, I bet the receiptant will love opening that!” People can always keep it short, as in “Yep!” or “You know it!” or even a gruff “Bah” (surely no reflection on you) or they can turn it into a one-time conversation or ongoing chat. (“You should have seen us an hour ago: it seems like everyone was stocking up on Forever stamps before they go up at the end of the month!” “Oh, yeah, thanks for the reminder. What do you have right now?” Etc.)

The conversing is really done more for a mutually-positive interaction than anything else (but you never know!) It establishes your credibility as the decent human you (already) are, and even strangers can pick up on your good vibe and then you never know where that might go. At that point, please do write in again and the hive mind can help you brainstorm some specific steps. (Granted, establishing a rapport with random people usually takes a few weeks or months but you know this. :) Regardless of the end result, the small talk can make the little things in life better (or at least it does for me!) It may not be your style and that's cool, too, so please disregard it if it's not for you: meeting people is that precarious balance of being true to yourself and yet venturing slightly outside your comfort zone... which is exactly why it can be so hard!!

One more thing on invites: I think what people said about trying to accept as many as possible is especially key. Recently, someone nice asked me out indirectly: you know, like a “let’s hang out with others!” thing that was really a precursor to a date. Long story short, being in a (monogamous) relationship but wanting to be friendly (since he IS a good guy), I invited him to a low-key, recurrent group sporting activity. (Note: he’s relatively sporty so I know he’d probably “fit” in, if you’d pardon the pun!) He turned it down, which is fine but too bad: the group has tons of awesome single women with whom he could have hit it off; plus, it’s just a super friendly bunch worth getting to know for the heck of it, if I can’t say so myself.

Finally, I want to offer some empathy on how hard dating can be. I know sometimes it just helps to hear “yeah, it’s rough” as well as “I am confident that you will eventually meet a great match — a bunch of great matches even — but I wish it weren’t so hard now.” Being single can be rad, for sure, but wanting a special romantic partnerships is also totally OK (of course!) and a very understandable and relatable wish. Best of luck!!

[And, if I may, which of the above suggestions — I’m talking about the awesome posts of the many Mefites who jumped in to help, not just my own ;-) — sound most appealing and/or do-able to you? I know it’s harder to respond when it’s anonymous but hopefully you’ve found a new thing or two to try!]
posted by smorgasbord at 5:19 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

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