Should I try online dating because I have not met any men being social?
January 17, 2017 8:05 AM   Subscribe

I am 21 and I am going to graduate college soon. I have never had a boyfriend or been asked out before. I am in shape (5'5 and weigh 125 pounds). I feel like guys are not interested in me even when I do try to be social. Should I actually try online dating because I have not met any men being social?

The only guys who tend to hit on me are older taxi drivers and occasionally men on the street. But I have never had a guy interested in me by being social (I joined a few clubs and a volunteer organization and I even joined a study program to meet others, I also go to dance clubs although not frequently) and guys at a reasonable age or in a reasonable position (not homeless) don't really seem that interested in me at all. There have been many times when I am next to a cute/interesting guy in a public setting (such as a coffeeshop /sitting on an airplane/grocery store), although not intended for socializing, and he never starts a conversation with me. I think about starting a conversation with them but they look like they aren't interested or they never acknowledge/notice me/just ignore me so I don't even bother. I am starting to think that if I cannot really attract a guy outside online dating, then there must be a problem with me.
posted by ionable to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Loads, loads of people use online dating successfully, whether or not they can attract people outside of "in person" situations. Go ahead, give it a go.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:14 AM on January 17, 2017 [16 favorites]

There is not a problem with you.

Try online dating. It has the advantage of being an environment explicitly made for engaging people and expressing interest -- that is what everyone is there for. Real life doesn't always have that clarity, which may be a reason behind not being approached.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:22 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Meeting people in a public setting is something that almost never happens in real life, so don't feel bad that you aren't chatting people up at a coffeeshop.

Online Dating is great if you want to go on dates, but it's not necessarily a ticket to finding someone that you actually click with in person. Think of it as just another way to get yourself in front of new people. I personally find it to be kind of a grind, so that's why you should also keep participating in clubs/organizations that you find interesting, not to find dates but because you like to. You might meet someone there, you might not, but you'll also be a more interesting person when you do actually meet someone whether that's online or somewhere else.
posted by AndrewInDC at 8:26 AM on January 17, 2017 [6 favorites]

First and foremost, there is NOTHING wrong with you and you may well indeed enjoy online dating. I certainly have. But let's look at this for a sec...
There have been many times when I am next to a cute/interesting guy in a public setting (such as a coffeeshop /sitting on an airplane/grocery store), although not intended for socializing, and he never starts a conversation with me.

I think about starting a conversation with them but they look like they aren't interested or they never acknowledge/notice me/just ignore me so I don't even bother.
Do you suppose it's possible that dudes don't start conversations with you for the exact same reasons you don't start conversations with them? Or they're shy? Or afraid of rejection? Or--and here's a big one--know better than to approach/annoy a woman out enjoying herself alone in public?

The most important thing to know if you want to talk to boys is that you have to talk to boys. If you want to chat a dude up, be confident and make the first approach! You can't wait for the world to fall at your feet.
posted by phunniemee at 8:29 AM on January 17, 2017 [48 favorites]

Hey OP, I was you! (in fact, I think I recognized you because I said something to this effect on your last question, too.)

When I was in your situation I went for the online thing. I think you should go for it. Not because I think you'll necessarily find your ~perfect dude~ there or something - personally I ended up with with a couple awkward coffee dates, one "real" first date and a pretty lousy kiss (my first) with someone whose name I don't even remember anymore and a boatload of creepy messages before I quit. But so that you realize that this:
if I cannot really attract a guy... then there must be a problem with me.
is a load of bullcrap. You're fine. Really. For me, online dating caused a lot of angst and anxiety to the point where I quit after a few months (and every once in a while I repeat this join-and-quit cycle to no avail) but I think that it was ultimately a valuable thing for me to have done, just for that one realization alone. It has freed me to live my damn life the way I want to without the constant anxiety over whether or not I can find a date.

So yeah, do your thing, go and set up your profile, see what's out there, go on a few dates if you want. (Remember to be safe and trust your gut when it comes to potential creeps.) At the very least you'll meet some new people and get out of your shell a bit. But be willing to eject if you're finding it takes up too much of your headspace, and remember: you're fine. Really.
posted by btfreek at 8:33 AM on January 17, 2017 [7 favorites]

I am starting to think that if I cannot really attract a guy outside online dating, then there must be a problem with me.

duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude. no.

Online dating is basically how it is done now, yes people still meet outside of it but like is said above other encounters are FULL of ambiguity of intentions so a lot of people just save their moves for online dating where they know the person is at least receptive to being asked out.

There is nothing wrong with you for using online dating, NOTHING. Even the people I know right now that "met" in person still went home and looked each other up on online dating sites and then really expressed interest there because then it was assured the person was single and looking.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:34 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I feel like I could have written this when I was in my late teens, and that was BEFORE the ubiquity of online dating. When I was young and adorable (as I'm sure you are!) I didn't know how to ferret out what interest looked like from "normal" guys, because of all of the inappropriate "interest" (more accurately harassment) I received from a very early age on the street or on the bus or at my afterschool job, etc.

A cute guy my age who was just plain interested seemed either non plussed or possibly repulsed to me. Man I had that all wrong.

I do think that because my signal reading got all warped, it affected my self esteem and my behaviour. I believed there was something "off" about me. Maybe I was too fat? (I was not). Maybe I wasn't approachable enough? (I was, but failed to recognize the dance). Eventually I think that because I believed something was wrong, so did other people. I also think I was more guarded than I needed to be which also made some guys uncomfortable/intimidated. I am certain I came off as very hot and cold, which probably set off warning signals.

All of my girlfriends seemed to navigate this better than me and I never quite understood why. In retrospect I think it is because they kept a measure of confidence I lacked, and when they hit dry spells, they focused on something else. They didn't turn their frustration inward.

In the late 90s I started meeting guys online. There was a much bigger stigma about that then, but I could get past the awkwardness in online correspondence. It definitely made things easier for me.

If I could go back in time, though, I would root all of that "something is wrong with me" BS out of my psyche as best as I could. Nothing is wrong with you. Something is wrong with the world you live in. It is afraid of you!
posted by pazazygeek at 8:39 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I am in a similarish situation except that I am almost 40 and newly single. I lost my partner of 8 years and all my family moved away. I found myself in a position of having no friends and no partner. I was initially anxious to meet another woman. I realized that that was a mistake and tried to focus on meeting people and putting myself in social situations to get friends and eventually a partner.

The thing that sucks about online dating is that there isn't a lot to choose from and there are tons of red flags (at least in the age group that I am looking at). The problem with seeing people at the gym and coffee shop etc is that it is hard to approach without seeming "creepy" or inappropriate or desperate. I think that most people want to enjoy their coffee or do their workout without having to fend off people. I think that there is a difference because of your gender. Approaching is frustrating. Men are expected to do it, but then they are creepy or whatever. I can GUARANTEE you that guys will not mind if you strike up conversation with them. If they are interested then they will keep talking. Believe me. If they aren't, they won't. It is actually refreshing when it happens to me.

I'd also recommend meetups and being active in things you like. You will be around like minded people without the pressure. It can certainly be awkward to put yourself out there but it gets better. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
posted by kbbbo at 8:41 AM on January 17, 2017

The way I think about online dating is that it sorts out all of the weird consent/is this person partnered already/is this person the right sexual orientation to be interested in me crap that is confusing and hard about trying to attract people/find romance in public spaces.

People in the world are just people doing their thing; you don't know a lot about them and they don't know a lot about you. People on online dating sites are people who are saying explicitly that they are interested in sex and/or romance, with the side benefit of also providing more information about themselves (age/preferences/interests etc.) than you'd be able to get instantly from someone you met randomly.

All of these things are important in the dating funnel; dating online just narrows the funnel down to from "all humans I see around me" to the point where it's actually useful and you can get going more quickly - you've already established that they're looking for a relationship, that they're interested in dating people of your gender, that they like French cheese and bad movies or whatever you're looking for.

I knew I wanted to date someone taller than me, and I'm a tall woman - OK Cupid let me search dudes by height as well as by compatibility from the comfort of my own living room; if I'd gone to a bar I'd have been scoping out all the guys taller than me, wondering if I found any of them attractive, wondering if any of them found me attractive, wondering if they were available, wondering if they were nice etc. - all of that before we even approached one another (assuming either of even us did approach the other, which is far from a given because of anxiety and fear of rejection).

Cute person meets cute person in cute setting is cute for a movie, but it's a really unrealistic dating model and you shouldn't base your entire self esteem on living up to the standard of a cute movie.
posted by terretu at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2017 [5 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with you. Bear in mind that now that online dating exists and is veeery commonly used among people your age, men are probably less inclined to approach strange women in coffeeshops than they would have been 30 years ago, because they have the option of meeting women in a way that doesn't involve running the risk of annoying a stranger who would rather be left alone or getting ignominiously rejected in public. (And I see that as a good thing! I'm also a woman in my 20s and I don't really like being hit on in public on the rare occasions that it happens, so I'm glad it doesn't happen more!) So if there are older family members in your life who are making you feel weird for not meeting men at random, bear in mind that they're working from an outdated model of how young people interact with each other in public.

One way of meeting people that was very common in the past and is still very common now: friends of friends. Do any of your female friends participate in a hobby that has a lot of guys?
posted by ostro at 9:15 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Most people find partners through meeting people in their existing networks (work, friends, hobbies) or online dating. Almost nobody I know is dating someone who asked them out/was asked out the first time they laid eyes on each other (let alone in a public setting where many people think it's rude to strike up conversations with strangers!!).

It's a lot like finding a great job, actually - it helps a lot to tell your friends you're looking and to work on increasing your network naturally (ie build relationships with people for their own sake, NOT just as a way to find a job/date), and if that doesn't work, looking online can help you come across people/jobs you wouldn't encounter otherwise. For both jobs and potential dates, even though most won't be what you're looking for and many of the good ones aren't on there in the first place, you can sometimes find some real gems online - so why not look? Don't restrict yourself to only looking online, but it's a valuable part of your search.
posted by randomnity at 9:45 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with the consensus. Also would like to add that there has been a subtle change in social norms over the past decade due to the ubiquity of smart phones. Even ten years ago, it was more common to speak casually to strangers in coffee shops, bus stops, and on line a the store. Because everyone was just standing or sitting there, in a state of potential interaction.
The norm of looking at one's phone while in any sort of in between down time has gradually shifted the tendency to speak to strangers into a more marked, surprising, notable kind of interaction than it used to be. I don't know that we've all caught up to understanding this shift, because (as someone remarks above) it's not how things look in the movies. While obviously idealized, the movies actually did reflect an earlier kind of social norm a bit less fantastically. People used to run out of coffee shops to ask each other out -- really! not now. But it's not your fault.
Go date online.
posted by flourpot at 9:51 AM on January 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

Guys don't want to come off as creepy, if you're next to an interesting seeming guy just say "hey I like blah" or "did you know blah" and the worst that will happen is they grunt instead of respond thoughtfully, if you want to approach a guy this way the best is to be regular in your routines so that if someone is interested you'll both start showing up at the same time and making more eye contact, that makes it easier to start a conversation.

But agreed you should try online dating.
posted by lafemma at 9:55 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to chime in to say that the judgement of random men regarding your ultimate date-ability and desirability is totally meaningless, and I think you should forge forward without concern about that. My situation has been close to the opposite: I spent most of my life severely anxious, depressed, numb, and detached (so something was literally wrong with me!), and I have a bit of an unusual look about me, so not a mainstream kind of attractiveness. I should have been fairly undateable. But somehow I always had an endless stream of relationships. I can't say much for the judgement of those guys, and I wouldn't expect the judgement of the men you have spent time with to be any better than theirs. It is seriously the luck of the draw, and being in the right place at the right time or not, as frustrating as that idea is. Maybe internet dating would shake things up a little bit for you in a positive way, or maybe it would be a bummer. But I doubt it would be the end of the world either way; and again, there is zero reflection of your actual worth in any of this. Good luck!
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 10:01 AM on January 17, 2017

Are there men at these social events/clubs that you do? Are you just regular-friendly with any of the men there? Are you friendly with anyone? Like, if you're sitting next to a woman at one of these events do you talk to her? Or if someone talks to you do you respond in kind, laughing, asking questions? Making silly comments? What about when you need help with something, do you seek out another person in these groups to work with or get assistance from or do you just struggle through on your own? Do any of these study groups meet at a coffee shop or bar? Maybe you are missing the "let's be social" cues. I do this sometimes. Sometimes in preparation for going out, I literally think up a few conversation prompts or interesting things I've done or wondered about recently. I rarely use them but I find that it helps my brain switch to be social/more extroverted mode than my rather inwardly focused mode.

I love the idea that you would sit near a cute guy in a coffee shop and he would just strike up a conversation with you and a relationship would be started. I don't think there's any world other than in the movies that this has a chance at working. I mean, it occasionally does but don't hold your breath for that.

I'll also throw out that these groups that you're joining to meet people, when you show up are you focusing too much on the mission and task of the group and not enough on your personal goal which is to meet people? (Plan to meet men and women since women friends are good to have and can also introduce you to good men.) Anyway, be one of those annoying people who doesn't seem to be very on task and just wants to chit-chat and be silly. Since you're about to graduate, you have a great conversation opener: "Is this your last year? What have you liked about school? What do you want to do? Oh, you're interested in climbing? I've noticed a bouldering gym..." Yada, yada.

But why not try online dating, too? Just remember, it's your zero date, not your first date. It's where you get together just to see if there's interest in going on a first date.
posted by amanda at 10:23 AM on January 17, 2017

There is no downside in putting up an online dating profile. (OK, you'll get a bunch of stupid messages from douchebags who just want to hook up, but that seems to be a fact of life for women, not just in online dating, alas.) Even if you can meet people offline, the pool of potential matches is much larger, and much less subject to chance. The latter, in particular, is important. Otherwise your only options are whoever happens to be sitting next to you. If I say that your soulmate could be out there and you might just never cross paths, it's because that happened to me. My wife and I lived next door to each other, but we never actually met until I messaged her on OKCupid. Our apartment buildings shared a parking lot, and we've always laughed wondering how many times one of us almost ran the other one over in that parking lot before we met. Had I never tried online dating, I would probably still be single and trying to figure out a way to talk to the cute girl I saw in the parking lot.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:29 AM on January 17, 2017

Most women I know say they abhor being picked up or when men come on to them in the street. Perhaps the men around you have finally listened and decided it's not OK to make a pass at a total stranger.

Go online. That's your surest bet.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2017

Do it! Do online dating! And also feel empowered to message men and ask them out!

I think some of us introverted folks can give off a certain subtle quiet/"keep to myself" vibe in public and then as a result most people who are decent at picking up on social cues don't make overtures to them. And the only people who DO make overtures are those that are bad at reading social cues and/or don't give a shit if their overtures are unwanted (like the cab drivers and men on the street.) None of this means there is anything wrong with you, it's just a thing.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2017

What flourpot said!!! I couldn't have said it as eloquently. I noticed this phenomenon, after a life altering situation put me into a very isolating headspace. I used to blame other people in general - "they don't even look at each other anymore!" - but that just made me more adamant to speak up during an interaction, and slow down to smile, acknowledge another person, or simply point out something of interest (like a breathtaking view, or something amusing).

I was extremely wary of creeps, but - most of them seem to keep their heads down a lot more these days. It's the good ones who recognize this for themselves, and look up attentively to what is happening around them. Those are the ones whose eyes I like to catch... even if it's just to create a connection between two people, and develop a friendly atmosphere in the places that I frequent.

Yes, I tried the online dating, but everyone with their boxes to tick off - or they write someone off without a second glance... where's the fun in that? That's just looking for someone to fill a position... but maybe that's what you'd like?

I like the slow simmer - it's unpredictable, but that's where you have to put in your own perspective and see how that changes the flavour from time to time. It also usually ends up with a much better mingling of tastes, too. Mutual experiences built over time. Just a thought.
posted by itsflyable at 5:25 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

There have been many times when I am next to a cute/interesting guy in a public setting (such as a coffeeshop /sitting on an airplane/grocery store), although not intended for socializing, and he never starts a conversation with me.

Men are continually told not to start up conversations with women in public settings, how they just want to go about their business and not be hit upon.
posted by WCityMike at 5:30 PM on January 17, 2017 [4 favorites]

I am starting to think that if I cannot really attract a guy outside online dating, then there must be a problem with me.

Would you take this attitude about finding an apartment? Would you say that if you have to resort to looking on Craigslist for an apartment, then there must be something wrong with you as a potential tenant? Would you spend month after month looking for apartments, even past the point when you would have wanted to move into one, just for a chance at finding an apartment without using the internet?

I doubt it. Instead, you'd simply do whatever you think will be most effective at getting an apartment. If you happen to do that by walking around, fine, but if it turns out that going on the internet is more efficient, you'll do that.

That's the rational approach. Why not take the same approach to dating? If you have a goal, do whatever it takes to reach that goal. Once you've reached it, it won't matter how you got there.
posted by John Cohen at 11:33 PM on January 17, 2017

Online dating is definitely the solution here, and it's really a much better solution than just waiting around for random dudes to hit on you in public. That's not really a good way for anybody, on either side of the equation, to try and find a potential romantic partner. It's really an insane way to try and find someone to date, when you think about it. (And, anecdotally, I think guys in at least some demographics in the US are slowly starting to get a clue about how unwelcome it is, much of the time; see comments above.)

While there are other situations that basically make clear "yes, I am single and potentially interested in meeting someone" other than online dating, it's by far the most straightforward way of doing that. So I don't see any reason why you wouldn't try it first.

YMMV and there are quite a few other recent posts giving pros/cons of various online dating sites and apps, but based on (the admittedly very biased and limited sample) of my friends, OkCupid seems to still be the dominant traditionally-designed online dating site (where anyone can message anyone, but in practical terms for hetero folks this means that women get spammed), while Bumble seems to be preferable if you find that off-putting. Coffee Meets Bagel is a totally different mechanic, built around the idea of one match per day, which also cuts down on jerky system-gaming. Anyway, you may want to try several and see what matches your style, and don't get discouraged if you try one and find that it's not for you.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:14 AM on January 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Online dating can be really fun if you don't take it too seriously. I went on roughly a dozen dates 14 years ago that were terrible mismatches (even though we IMed beforehand). The next online date turned out to be amazing and we got married 4 years later. The last 14 years have been awesome!

So I guess what I'm saying is: go for it! (but be prepared for a few duds and don't hesitate to move on)
posted by poe at 12:11 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older how long does it take to send mail from New York...   |   Vegetarian cooking projects Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.