Likable to all except single men?
January 28, 2015 11:29 PM   Subscribe

Why is it so easy for me to naturally make friends but never meet guys that ask me out? I always thought that people skills in both scenarios are transferable. The only difference I can think of are looks but I don't think that's my problem.

To clarify, I make the most of my looks and already spend a enough time in the gym or shopping. I don't think I am too unattractive for men to notice me. However, it could be some weird sex appeal thing that I just don't exude?

With that said, what could be the other reason that I am easily approachable and liked by people yet I never meet men that ask me out? I always seem to have to go out of my way to find men to date. It seems to be more natural for other people where they go about their daily life and just meet potential boyfriends randomly. Conversely, I never really put an effort into making friends. I am an introvert and content by being on my own so making friends is not really something I care too much about. Yet in any new enviroment people tend to talk to me and invite me to stuff and then friendships just deepen and progress over time. They tend to ask me for directions on the street too. To clarify, people that are friendly to me are always either women or non-single men. Somehow single men just seem to ignore me although I never meet that many to begin with, especially not those my age (30s).

I am struggling to get it. I think that I am a good catch with my life together and great career and it's not like I live a hermit lifestyle either. Why don't I attract men?
posted by sabina_r to Human Relations (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Besides the obvious about dating being a number's game, I think that rather than waiting to be approached by men, maybe you should start by asking the ones you're interested in out.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:39 PM on January 28, 2015 [12 favorites]

Hmm, I've pointed this out before, but no one on the internet can tell you the answer to this. Maybe it's nothing - maybe you're just impatient, or discounting men who are interested in you if you're not interested in them. Or you're not great at picking up on interest. But maybe there IS something - maybe it's halitosis, or unbeknownst to you, you come off as uninterested in a relationship, or your sense of humor is meaner than you think. We literally can't know any of this. Is there anyone close to you whom you can trust to be honest?
posted by namesarehard at 11:54 PM on January 28, 2015 [7 favorites]

What they said ^^^

To add to namesarehard's list of possibilities, do you think people are too intimidated to ask you out? It sounds like you're attractive, successful, and introverted, which all could point that direction. If you are attractive, men are noticing you.
posted by JauntyFedora at 12:28 AM on January 29, 2015 [6 favorites]

Try putting yourself in front of the men you want to find are attracted to you. If you're not meeting the sorts of guys you find attractive, it's possible that people are picking up on your disinterest and respecting your wishes. Find out where the single, appropriately-aged men hang out and then go there. While you're there, show an interest in these men. That will massively increase your chances of being asked out.
posted by Solomon at 1:03 AM on January 29, 2015

Sabina, I looked through your previous AskMeFi questions, this has been a long term concern of yours. You seem like an amazing successful woman (good career, finished a PHD) from the little I can tell about you, but you talk about a lack of confidence and a sense of depression. It seems like those may be holding you back.

May I suggest that some sort of dating coach, seeing a psychologist or something along those lines might be helpful? They can help you get a different perspective on your approach and thought process, maybe point out incorrect perceptions you have, help you gain confidence, give you tips, etc.

Oh, and for the record, I'm in my 30's, and if a smart interesting person like you asked me out, or even just flirted with me until I knew things might go well if I asked them, I'd be very interested.
posted by gryftir at 1:33 AM on January 29, 2015

You haven't mentioned online dating. This won't happen to you there. Try it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:10 AM on January 29, 2015 [7 favorites]

A lot of good suggestions above. There's a difference between being "easily approachable and liked" and being sexy/flirtatious in that the latter often means you sometimes have to be less approachable--not as a game, but because you need to communicate a level of vulnerability that includes the need to protect yourself from being hurt. If your message is "I can be open and friendly to you because you I'm not vulnerable to you" that doesn't lead to men thinking they can have much of an effect on you.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:46 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you don't flirt at all? If you give off a buddy vibe, I'm probably not going to want to pursue you romantically.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:24 AM on January 29, 2015

Has this been the situation your whole life, or is it just a somewhat recent thing? In your 30s, there just aren't as many single men your age or older out there. Those that are single, maybe some prefer to be single. Some just got divorced and are wary of asking women out. Some are in-between 22 yr old short-term girlfriends. I don't know, it may happen somewhere but I don't know any women our age who get a huge amount of wanted, unsolicited male attention. (Unless they're keeping it a secret.)

If it's always been that way, then it could be chance or it could be there's something about you, which doesn't mean you're unattractive or that anything is wrong with you. I'm all for self-improvement but I think too much can be made of wondering what you're doing wrong. This stuff can be so nebulous.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 6:07 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing age is a factor. Where you live may also be a factor in that the gender ratio may not be in your favor.
posted by jazzbaby at 6:29 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Attractive, educated women scare the hell out of most men. You either have to do the asking or wait patiently for the few men who are confident enough to handle you. I spent my 30s dating minor celebrities, because those were the only men who had the confidence to ask me out. Now that I'm in my 40s and have lost my perfect figure, I'm more approachable to nice guys. It is still nearly impossible to meet someone except with online dating and, even that, is a struggle. It takes a lot of work to find someone. It isn't just a you thing, it's pretty common.
posted by myselfasme at 6:30 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: No, it hasn't been my whole life...It only started couple or so years ago. It's not even that I meet single men and they are not interested, it's more that I almost never meet any single men my age. Again, not being a hermit it just doesn't seem to happen. Then a few that I meet, there is obvious lack of connection or anything in common. If I could pick out of any men that I meet, there would actually be many that I would date but they are all married with kids or in serious relationships.
posted by sabina_r at 6:37 AM on January 29, 2015

Response by poster: P.S. with the age thing, I am not sure how to cope with it as it's out of my control. I do my best to keep in shape, go out and be social but I am not getting any younger and it's not gonna get easier. To be honest, going out as much as I do is draining me and I feel like giving up except there is no time left to waste. Don't know, it would be easier if it was something I could change.
posted by sabina_r at 6:42 AM on January 29, 2015

Are you naturally flirtatious? I have a friend who is attractive, extremely kind and genuine. Seriously, people are drawn to her because she is so open and inviting and makes you feel important and at ease.

But she has always struggled with meeting guys to date. Lots of times they want to be friends (and mean it) but tell her that there's no chemistry. I think it's because she never teases people and is so open and honest that there is no mystery or playfulness about her.

FWIW she met the gentlest, kindest guy and they've been together for 9 years.

How do you interact with men? Do you tease or challenge them?
posted by pintapicasso at 6:55 AM on January 29, 2015 [4 favorites]

My sister told me this when we were in college. She was talking with a friend of hers. this is what he told her. "The reason Sophie is always getting dates is because she looks easy."

So whatever it was that Sophie was doing, guys were getting a message, rightly or wrongly, that she was available sexually. Now this was a group of college guys, but in San Francisco, so more goth/hip dudes, than dude-bros.

Adult men have been hitting on me since I was 12. It skivved me out, so I developed a "fuck-off" shell when I was out, roaming around. I didn't WANT that kind of male attention. My friend Summer, she craved it, and I have never failed to be out with the woman, since we were in middle school, that some guy didn't stop her, tell her she was beautiful, and ask her out. Even when we were out with her teenaged daughter.

So some people crave attention and they send out that vibe. Some of us are uncomfortable with randos approaching us, and we consciously or unconsciously put up a wall.

So. What to do? Tell all your friends you want to be fixed up. Join dating sites. Hang out in chat rooms and get to know people. (How I met Husbunny.)

Whether or not you meet your soul's always questionable. You appearance has very little to do with it. It may get your foot in the door, but relationships move beyond looks, and then it's about who you are.

You're allowed to approach people to get to know them. If you're out in a bar, It's a social place, buy a dude a drink, introduce yourself. If he's not interested, oh well. Get a wing-woman to help you out. I've done this for friends a bunch!

Some of us have to make it happen.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:01 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

What if you began with the belief that you are already irresistible and appealing to the men in question? I read a tip somewhere about social anxiety and I've found that it helps a lot when I enter parties or other large groups: Walk in and know that everybody there likes you. They already like you!!

Personally, I find that thinking that way frees me from some approval-seeking behavior I do when I first meet people, and after a few minutes I feel much more like myself--and my chances of interacting authentically with people are better.
posted by witchen at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's probably just the numbers. Similar age here - four of my girlfriends got married or engaged in the past year. Three met their partners online; one met hers in another country. Other friends who meet people while out date younger men, at least partly because that's who's out. Go online or go younger.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:48 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to have something like this problem, although I wasn't as introverted then (I was when I was in my teens).

For me, I think I know the origin-- I work in a male-dominated field, so I have cultivated a "you're a colleague/friend and NOT a lover" approach to interaction, as a self defense mechanism. (Unfortunately: it works best on those who are too clueful to pester a colleague to date them anyhow!)

I also have mostly male dominated hobbies (to the point that I am still surprised when I go to a party and it's >30% female). So again, I'd cultivated the "friends NOT lovers" approach to interaction.

But when I was single (late twenties-early thirties), I still had that way of interacting. Therefore even when I explicitly went on dates (via okcupid or whatnot), I ended up with some friendships but nothing more. So yes, there is a "friend" mode and a "possible lover" mode, and they aren't the same.

Other possibilities include that you might be hewing to someone else's idea of how to find a relationship. Maybe going out isn't the way for you. For me, going on okcupid dates was useless. I eventually met Mr. Nat (now together just over 4 years) via a common hobby; I knew him well as a friend for more than half a year before we got together. In that time we'd definitely started flirting-- we were all worried about how to tell our friends, but instead it pretty much went "I have a girl/boyfriend" and then the person would respond "oh, you mean nat/Mr. Nat?". I'm just a slow burn kinda gal (at this age, anyhow), so this is the way it worked for me.

So there's lots of ways- online dates, get set up by friends, have a common hobby, be in the same friend group, etc. So if "going out" (whatever that means to you) isn't working, and especailly because it's exhausting you, try something different. Or at least take a break-- being mentally exhausted is not going to help this.
posted by nat at 8:29 AM on January 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's not even that I meet single men and they are not interested, it's more that I almost never meet any single men my age... Then a few that I meet, there is obvious lack of connection or anything in common. If I could pick out of any men that I meet, there would actually be many that I would date but they are all married with kids or in serious relationships.

So you don't meet many single men and you aren't attracted to the ones you do meet. There's your problem. Either you need to meet more men (somehow) or you need to widen your expectations. The trick to it is repeatedly meeting new people in group settings, join whatever club, class, professional group, volunteer group, intramural sport that you're into that 30-something guys are also into and make that happen.
posted by JauntyFedora at 9:43 AM on January 29, 2015

It seems to be more natural for other people where they go about their daily life and just meet potential boyfriends randomly.

I have had this idea in my head before but it really turned out to be mostly confirmation bias. I wanted a relationship to fall into my lap without my having to put myself out there, and I was bitter about a very difficult relationship that had ended and had been so challenging, and so I latched on to anyone who "easily" found a partner. In truth, this is how the people I know in relationships actually break down:

5 people met their partner on OKCupid or Match
6 people met their partner at work
1 person is dating her close friend's roommate
1 person is married to her college sweetheart, but they were a setup back then

So, while 7 of these people met their partners in the course of daily life, you wouldn't call it "random"--the workplace and friends-of-friends are naturally going to select for people who have at least one major thing in common. And 6 of them met through intentionally seeking romantic partners. (Including myself.)

I think you gotta start actually looking, whether it's online or by finding a workplace/activity that draws in like-minded people.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:09 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

(But yeah, there's no getting around it that the 30s, especially early 30s, is kind of a crap time to try and date. People are either coupled up or they're not coupled up for a reason. I'm told this shifts later on when folks start getting divorced, or getting settled in their careers, or realizing that oops they do want kids after all.)
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:16 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yeah so here's the thing I know almost no one that didn't meet their significant other either at school, work, friend of a friend or online.

Like I can think of 2 people I know that didn't meet in that fashion. One met while waiting for the metro and the other at a bar. I know one or two people who met through hobbies/team activities. That leaves the dozens and dozens of couples I know that all met either through friends, work/school or online. Seriously it is the rare exception to meet a cute stranger at the coffee shop. Like maybe once a year I hear about someone going on one or two dates with someone they drunkenly made out with at a bar.

Just go online. It sucks, but that's just because dating sucks. It's by far the most efficient way to meet guys and go on dates.
posted by whoaali at 10:24 AM on January 29, 2015

We Put Our Faith... has the same experience that I do with regards to how people in their late 20's and up meet. Of the couples I know, all have met through online dating, church, hobby groups, or MeetUps. One woman met her husband online but not through a dating site (they both share a passion for cooking and met on a food site). Not one couple has "met cute." No-one has found a significant other in a bar or cafe, or through bumping into someone on the train, or any other romantic comedy cliche.

So the best advice I can give you is to live as full and interesting a life as you can - I don't necessarily mean adventurous unless that's your thing, but fill your life with things you enjoy. You will not only meet more people that way, you will be more fulfilled and happier in yourself. To specifically meet men, go to or OKCupid or whatever dating site you find suitable, create a profile, and start looking.

Very, very few people in real life - even the most drop-dead gorgeous and accomplished - have storybook rom-com introductions to The One.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:41 AM on January 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

And anecdotally, the majority of couples I know (the ones whose story I'm aware of, that is) met in bars. And I don't particularly associate with heavy drinkers out stay out all night types. Others are a smattering of at school (when very young), through work (though not at work), and online (not necessarily on dating sites.)

It just goes to show it's all a lot more random than most people are comfortable with. I think anyone who is single could recite the usual list of things they could try to become not-single. (Online dating, meetups, classes, ask friends for set-ups, go to parties alone, singles events, etc, etc.) Which of them you do, and how much or how often, depends on your personal tipping point at which trying to meet someone makes life unbearable. (I'd probably rather be single forever than go to parties alone in hopes of meeting someone every night for fifteen years. For example.)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 11:45 AM on January 29, 2015

I'm a hermit. I met my boyfriend on OKCupid and I couldn't be happier. I'm a very confident/in your face person socially but I'm bad at approaching men and I spend pretty much all my time alone/at home. He's also a hermit so we lucked out. I definitely encourage internet dating!
posted by shesbenevolent at 12:11 PM on January 29, 2015

All I can think of is - how are you wearing your hair and what is your wardrobe like? Many men like longer, loose hair and clothing that has playful colors and details. I don't think they like fancy "fashion forward" outfits (they can give the impression you are high maintenance or snobby) or too much unisex/business casual (they can give the impression you are serious and only there for work). Try skirts/dresses if you wear lots of pants. Try heels (there are so many low, comfortable and cute styles!) if you tend to wear athletic shoes or clogs. Try brighter, warmer colors that flatter you. Try soft textures like cashmere that invite touch. Try growing your hair long. I think there is a happy medium between "all-business" and "party girl" that men find very attractive and approachable. Maybe a little makeover or wardrobe update is in order.
posted by griselda at 7:48 PM on January 29, 2015

-mom met dad at work
-mom met step-dad via friend (friend tried dating him but they weren't a match) who met him via a singles event
-dad met step-mom through work connections, if not actual workplace. Think "medical professionals conference." They are in related but different jobs in the same field.
-of the 5 dudes I've dated: School, online, online, friend-of-friends (met at a birthday party), friend-of friends (also met at a birthday party)
-my friends' relationships; online, grad school, online, and one of them met her boyfriend while he was a tour guide and she a tourist (she's Australian, he's American)
-sister met husband through school
-boyfriend's sister met fiancé through friends of friends who noted they both played tennis
-Aunt met Uncle at church

My recommendation based on this would be:
-take up one activity that men often like. Not to be cliche but sports, camping, something to do with cars, something pretty "male-skewed." Go to meetings for it.
-used Linked In, go to professional conferences, meet people you tangentially work with once, etc. This is especially good for older people with established careers.
-get an online dating profile
-go to singles events that are marketed as "singles events" blatantly.
-get one single dude friend you just don't click with romantically who is still a good human okay with being just friends, and introduce him to your friends in exchange for access to his male single connections.
-Go to every party you get invited to
-Join a church or atheist meetup group

If you do all of the above and do not meet one eligible man you like in 6 months I will eat my hat. You may come after me for proof on this.
posted by quincunx at 9:39 PM on January 29, 2015

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