I'm invisible in real life, but do well in online dating [27/m]
July 20, 2015 8:50 PM   Subscribe

In real life women don't flirt with me, smile at me in public, or glance at me when they walk past me. However, with online dating I do really well. What gives? I'm starting to suspect I'm just really photogenic and I'm a bit of a dog in real life.
posted by GiveUpNed to Human Relations (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Do you flirt with women, smile at them in public, or glance at them when they walk past you?
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:51 PM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I am a huge flirt, but I do not engage strangers in public.

Are you talking about strangers, or women you work with/friends of friends/women you meet at hobbies? There is a difference.

Online dating is a medium where the cards are on the table. Public transport is not the same thing. Do you know what I'm saying?
posted by Youremyworld at 8:59 PM on July 20, 2015 [10 favorites]

How well do you write? I can charm anyone on paper but I'm an introvert in real life. If you have a well written profile and you photograph well, it could be making all the difference. This is a good thing, as long as you can follow through when you meet up.
posted by Jubey at 9:02 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Are you talking about strangers, or women you work with/friends of friends/women you meet at hobbies? There is a difference.

I'm referring to both strangers and friends. My friends have women smile at them randomly in shops, while the shopkeeper ignores me. Co-workers and friends flirt with them, but not me.
posted by GiveUpNed at 9:03 PM on July 20, 2015

I'm skeptical that that's flirting. I don't know, maybe. But I think it's just more about expression reciprocation. Like, I would say I'm in the same boat, but I put it down to my resting bitch face-- it feels to me like I have a neutral expression, maybe even a slight grin, but I know (based on feedback) that it looks like I'm glowering. I try to match expressions but I probably look much more negative. It's really only been the past six months (I'm 30) that I've realized and tried to be mindful of this. I'd ask for feedback from friends in this direction. YMMV.
posted by supercres at 9:11 PM on July 20, 2015 [11 favorites]

You might have what is awkwardly referred to as Bitchy Resting Face in person. I felt the same way as you for years until someone pointed out to me that my face and body language in real life indicate that I am unhappy (scowl on face) and uncomfortable (arms crossed, leaning back). I've now made it a habit to put on what feels like a really stupid grin, which seems to garner a lot more positive attention in person.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:13 PM on July 20, 2015 [9 favorites]

Every person you see on a dating site is there because THEY WANT TO DATE SOMEONE. The people you see in a supermarket are there because they ran out of olive oil, got called into work when they had plans, have terrible allergies and need to grab some decongestants. Etc. Of COURSE you get better responses and more interest online than you do in random public places. It is not you, it's your audience.
posted by kate blank at 9:20 PM on July 20, 2015 [49 favorites]

This is probably a combination of mirroring and confirmation bias.
posted by deathpanels at 9:24 PM on July 20, 2015 [5 favorites]

I don't smile at random guys who are in my preferred dating demographic. I smile at other ladies, guys I'm not interested in, guys that look non-threatening that I'm not interested in, and the elderly.

Usually if I find a guy attractive I have to look away. Don't know why. It's an impulse. I never regret it though, because what if he's the charming, attractive guy that robs banks or kidnaps dogs or steals your identity?

Also, most women have a lot on their plates. We don't just go wandering around by ourselves looking for hot guys to smile at and ask us out in the middle of the afternoon while we're supposed to be studying, trying to relax, figuring out what to get our bff for her birthday, worrying about whether accounting got the memo or if we have time to go to kickboxing etc.
posted by discopolo at 9:52 PM on July 20, 2015 [31 favorites]

Also, some people are naturally charming with an easy, non threatening energy that doesn't expect reciprocation. Maybe you're too intense. You certainly care a lot about this and it clearly bothers you. That doesn't jibe with having that energy that people who are warm and charming give off.
posted by discopolo at 9:56 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Have you ever talked about this with said friends? I feel they could offer you way more insight than we could. For now, how about starting the conversation? Say hi to the shopkeeper yourself, smile at everyone, etc.

Clearly, if you're finding success in online dating, you're doing something right and that is awesome. So many men find online dating frustrating so it's extra great that it's been so positive for you. If you were truly "a bit of a dog" in real life, then those dates wouldn't be going anywhere. To honest though, I sense a lot of negativity in your wording and it's a bit off-putting: it sucks to feel left out and even worse when it's a repeated pattern. However, it's totally possible to work on the vibe you're sending out in the world! I'd want for you to feel as charming in person as you do in your online dating encounters.

How would you say your self-esteem and self-image are overall at present? Have there been any times where you've had strangers react positively to you?
posted by smorgasbord at 10:01 PM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Another vote for "I don't smile at strangers to flirt, tho I may smile at them if they look unusually friendly / cheerful / otherwise nice." (And I'm pretty grumpy in public myself.) So what your friends experience is likely not flirting.
posted by ClarissaWAM at 10:09 PM on July 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a guy who dates guys so my experience may not be translatable to guys who like women.

Smiling at someone? That's not flirting. Flirting is talking. I've definitely had guys flirt with me, guys who if I'd only ever seen a photo I'd have been utterly uninterested and who were entirely successful with the flirting.

How are you presenting yourself in public? What's your body language? Is it open and accepting, or is it closed off? Maybe look up the concept of the half smile, and the whole idea of welcoming body language.

In the real world, minus photoshop and/or deceptive framing, people are much better looking in person than in photos (seriously; I do a lot of online hookups and only three times in my life has someone ever been better looking than their pictures, no matter how artfully posed), so that's probably not your issue (unless you're posing and editing your photos to elide possibly dealbreaker features). It comes down to social skills and charm, which suck to learn. How are you interacting with people? Are you showing genuine interest in what they have to say? Are you mirroring body language?

I'm someone who comes off as very standoffish in person, to the point where I was surprised very recently to have a guy text me saying "so hey we met last night and hi want to go on a date?" Flabbergasted. Do you have someone close to you and safe who you can trust to give you an honest appraisal of how you come across? If you do, ask that person this same question. If you don't, flip through your mental Rolodex for someone you can trust to tell you these things.

Most likely, your issue is not at all how you look, it's about presentation. Do you have a friend of your preferred gender with whom there's zero sexual interest and you can say, and truly hear the answer "I want to be flirtable with people of this gender. How do I do this?"

Honestly? If you're doing well with the online thing then physical attractiveness is probably not your issue. How you present yourself in public--that is both verbally and in how you dress/groom/arrange your body--likely is. And that probably needs someone who knows you in person, and you can trust (and who trusts you to take what they say without getting upset) to tell you how to make yourself more approachable.

And guess what? You're already en route to making this work simply by asking the question. You're demonstrating that you're self-aware and interested in improving yourself. That is a sexy damn thing, assuming you continue it past "attaining a mate" into "keeping a mate." You are doing the right thing right now by asking for help. That is an eminently desirable quality in a potential mate, no matter what the genders involved are--someone who is self-aware enough to say "hey I'm not doing this thing the way I want to be doing this thing HALP" is someone who is a keeper.

You're on the right track. If you have people of your preferred gender in your world, ask them what to do to be boyfriend (or maybe hookup? not sure from your question) material. The important thing is to do those things honestly and authentically. Be who you truly are.

Way to go you for even asking the question.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:35 PM on July 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

Women smile at me sometimes in shops or on the train. I'm a straight woman. I think it's because I look friendly and not like someone who will turn it into something annoying.

I'm sure you are a nice, non-threatening/asshole looking guy, but a lot of women have been hit on in public places and in a way that is not particularly welcome. I am not a supermodel by any means, but the following has happened to me:

- a man following me around the library where I worked, smiling at me every time I looked around, repeatedly over months
- a man staring at me on the bus and, when I got off, threw his business card down on the pavement and shouted 'CALL ME'
- a shelf-stacker in Asda who asked me, whilst I was choosing bread, whether I'd go on a date with him (to reiterate the not-a-supermodel thing, I'd just had a cast off my leg, was wearing my boyfriend's tracksuit as it was the only thing that fitted over it, and was in dire need of a proper shower)
- the alcohol-scented elderly Irish guy who sat next to me on the bus and made me promise that 'If I win the Lotto, and I give you two million, and I keep two million, we will get married' and then went off on a long explanation of how when, in the olden days, a young man would ask 'if I could join my colour to your colour, and then nine months later, a baby would come out'
- a guy who sat down on a park bench next to me when I was sewing (ie actively engaged in something that didn't involve striking up conversation) to loudly slag off the large man ahead working out with his personal trainer, and whenever I tried to politely ignore him and go back to what I was doing, would shout 'HEL-oo? HELLO?' at me to get my attention again.
- countless guys who stare smack at my chest as they're walking past in a way that makes me feel like I've forgotten to put a shirt on today.

Now, I'm not saying all women will assume you're an asshole. In fact, most of this was bemusing at most (aside from park bench guy, he was a raging asshole). You probably are smart and decent enough not to go about staring at chests or, as one man did to me when I was shopping on my lunchhour, pleasantly inform me that I am 'bouncy'. It's just that when out and about, women just generally want to get on with their day, and they don't know whether being friendly with you will lead to somethign that is at best awkward and at worst actively uncomfortable. Even if I were single and looking, I'd be a bit on my guard in this way. The meet-cute is a plot device.
posted by mippy at 2:49 AM on July 21, 2015 [15 favorites]

I never meet any men in real life. It's always online. This is because there are so many seriously creepy men who will actually follow me around as I shop if I accidentally make eye contact with them. I keep my eyes on the floor or on the shelves at all times. I don't see friends unless they come up to me. There are more aggressive women out there who do want the attention and who will try to make contact but they are looking for a specific type of man and they aren't always the nicest girls.

Now, if you meet someone online and then she doesn't like you in person, then that is something that you should investigate.
posted by myselfasme at 6:03 AM on July 21, 2015

You don't say anything about your interactions with these women except they don't smile. Are you smiling? Making non threatening eye contact? This part may sound stupid but I am assuming you bathe so you don't smell, wear clean clothes, and are nearly dressed, things that aren't a problem online of you have a "pretty face" but are the first thing a woman notices in real life. Do you give off friendly open body language? Or are you hunched over and shut off? Also don't assume all women smile to flirt, often it is just social mirroring or being polite.
posted by wwax at 6:17 AM on July 21, 2015

For better or worse, men are still the ones who are assumed to be responsible for taking the initiative in dating. This is true online and off, but is much more true offline. That's probably why you have better luck online. But this also means that if there's someone in your group of friends who you're interested in, it could work out for you to ask her out.
posted by Asparagus at 7:11 AM on July 21, 2015

Are you possibly anxiously/tensely scanning passing women's faces to see if they're smiling at you/verify that they're not, as you suspected, smiling at you? Because don't do that and you might get some smiles.
posted by tempythethird at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

There's some confirmation bias implicit in online dating since everyone on the site is more or less ipso facto looking for a date, but I have dated plenty of men who I connected with online first who I probably would have never looked at if I'd seen them in a coffee shop. Looking good on paper (online) is no joke; as long as you are authentic online, and eventually move towards real-life dates, you have nothing to worry about.
posted by juniperesque at 7:36 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm a little unclear what the question/problem is. If online dating is working for you...keep doing that? PLENTY of people aren't great at meeting people in bars/clubs/etc. -- hence the popularity of online dating. I mean, ultimately you just need to find one person you really connect with, not have everyone in the world constantly flirt with you, right?

Or, is the problem that you get responses online, but then when you meet up with people in real life things immediately go south? If that's the case, maybe you can post more details about what's going on. Are you posting super unrepresentative/old photos? (No joke, I once met up with a guy who was literally 200 pounds heavier than his photo...yeah, don't do that. Aside from anything else, it feels really deceptive.) Are you a great writer but super awkward in person? Etc. This can also be something that it's good to ask friends about and tell them to be very honest.
posted by rainbowbrite at 10:17 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just want to confirm what mippy said. As a woman, smiling at random men is an invitation for harassment, especially in a city. While you can work on improving your odds, please don't take it personally!
posted by Gor-ella at 8:39 AM on July 22, 2015

Two things - first, maybe you're doing well online because you communicate yourself well in your profiles. This is good thing, it means that people find you interesting beyond your surface looks. Also it means that you probably know yourself pretty well, as you are able to talk about yourself in an interesting way that makes someone want to meet you.

Secondly, I agree with earlier posters who say that women generally don't (and probably shouldn't) go around smiling at men on the streets. While men do this often to women, for women it does invite harassment, and they are smart to be careful with strangers, which is what you are on the street.

I think we ll often feel kinda invisible in the modern world, so I wouldn't take that as a judgement against you. If online dating is working for you, keep doing it! People use it to great success all the time and start wonderful relationships.

I work for a pretty big adult dating site, although it's not the kind we're talking about here. People call all the time to just have a conversation with someone. Adult chat, etc. has a bad rap as a weird thing, but it's usually just people looking to connect to others outside of the 'real world'. The funny thing is, it's a perfectly honest conversation, usually, and it often seems more like psychology than sex. I know it's not match.com or whatever, but I think the point is the same. It's about getting away from 'meeting people on the street' and expecting a movie-like encounter, and instead connecting with people through your thoughts (or in your case, profile, which communicates who you are).
posted by RobC at 7:39 AM on September 4, 2015

« Older Low-fee checking with 2-factor authentication...   |   Font Identification in Progress.... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.