I'm a 42-year-old male spinster – is there hope? :)
September 10, 2019 12:43 AM   Subscribe

I'm a 42-year-old cishet guy in the US. I'd like to start dating for the first time in my life. My experience in romantic relationships is greater than zero, but still pretty spotty. And I'm extraordinarily self-conscious about revealing this fact to a stranger. I feel like it's a huge red flag which will send women screaming in the opposite direction. Seeking advice (and maybe a few success stories to encourage me). Strap in; this is long :)

Over the years, I've stumbled into a few romantic relationships (meaning: an existing acquaintance or friendship turned in a romantic direction, and I never had to go on A Date with a stranger). It's always been "friends first, then lovers" for me. I don't trust people easily, so I need to know someone pretty damn well before I can be vulnerable enough to get romantically involved. (This is huge part of the reason that I've never really dated – the expectation with dating seems to be "date first, then maybe sexual partners, then hope that things deepen into something more". This clearly works for many people, and that's great – but it doesn't work for me. The notion of sleeping with someone who I don't already know and trust well gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.)

But I do mean "a few relationships", and it's been nine years since the last one. And they've never lasted long, and I've always gotten dumped in the end, and I've often been "the rebound". (And I always, always get overinvested. Unrequited limerence, sometimes for months or years, is a really fucking annoying pattern in my life, which I'm trying to break.) So I feel like a clueless adolescent in the dating/relationship department. This is not what a person who is skilled in healthy adult relationships looks like.

I've come to realize, belatedly, that I have social anxiety. This comes with a lot of self-loathing and avoidant behavior. I'm also realizing that this has defined much of the arc of my life, and limited me in many ways.

All of this is especially true when it comes to romantic relationships. On some level, I think I believe that it's somehow wrong/shameful/inappropriate for me to have/express romantic interest in another person. Rationally speaking, I know that this is nonsense – but the feeling is still there.

I'm working on these things in therapy, with some success. I've also committed to improving myself wherever else I can. I've lost 30 pounds and counting (partly to improve my self-confidence, partly to address a health issue); I've begun saving to buy a home; and this is generally a time of unprecedented personal growth for me. It feels amazing to realize that I can do something about this stuff.

I am realizing – belatedly – the value of setting boundaries (for myself, as well as others), communicating my needs directly, making sure that I surround myself with non-toxic people, and investing in those people with support and love. (That's part of why I want to date, actually – sexytimes and other adventures with a partner are wonderful, but I'm realizing that I also really, really want to share in another person's joy and pain, and to do everything I can to lift them up and make them feel loved and accepted. Giving love feels incredible, y'all.)

I don't expect to find this overnight. I realize that some people never find it, and that – at this point in my life – I might be one of those people. I also realize that building and maintaining a relationship means a lot of ongoing hard work. But I'd like to at least try.

So! Here's my best idea about how to approach dating. Tell me what you think:

I lurk on OKCupid. I see a fair number of people who seem to be in a similar boat. Maybe they haven't dated much either. Or maybe, like me, they express a preference for going slowly, and getting to know people as friends first. Maybe they say "hey, you should know that I've struggled with [insert mental health issue here]". Et cetera.

So I'm thinking about revising my profile similarly, to include the following. (My actual wording might be more informal than this, and would obviously also include info about my interests, a few hilarious witticisms, etc.):

"Hi! I'm Anonymous. I'm into X, Y, and Z. I've never really dated much – but I've been learning a lot about myself lately, and as part of that, I'd like to get out there and meet some people. I'd eventually like to find a long-term partner – but I prefer to know someone as a friend before rushing into a romantic involvement. So for right now, I'm just feeling out the waters and looking to meet some people as friends, and to see where that leads. Maybe you're looking for the same?"

And then, just, like...go on a date or two, with the understanding (on both sides) that these are low-stakes practice dates, which might result in nothing more than a friendly conversation.

Even this is somewhat terrifying, but it sounds a lot more manageable. I'd feel a lot more comfortable on a date with someone who is, by their own admission, as clueless and/or apprehensive as I am :)

My specific questions:

1. Does this sound like a good approach?

2. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to my lack of dating experience? (I'd like to get that out there early, to weed out the people who will be turned off by it.)

3. Be real with me: how big of a red flag is #2? Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and there will be people for whom it's a disqualifier. I get that.

4. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to the social anxiety, and my present phase of personal growth? (I don't want people to feel like they're just props in my therapy – but if I'm going to mention my spotty romantic history, then it seems plausible that I might want to explain that, briefly, in order to demonstrate that I'm working on those issues.)

5. In general, how should I think about #2? How can I frame it to myself so that it's less "I'm a hopelessly undateable loser", and more "I've had my challenges in the past, but I'm making a commitment to overcome them, and that might be kinda scary but is totally achievable"?

6. Or is it, perhaps, premature to start dating? Should I focus on the social anxiety and self-loathing in therapy first, and then try dating? I'm not sure whether it's better to solve the social anxiety by plunging headfirst into a scary and uncertain situation, or to solve some of the anxiety first and then plunge into dating with greater confidence and resilience. (But perhaps this is something that I need to figure out for myself in therapy.)

Apologies for the length – it's hard to make these kinds of posts concise. I will truly appreciate any advice you have to offer. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (34 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hello! I don't know the first thing about dating apps, because I've never used them, so I can't help you there... but I do have a success story that you may find encouraging. Here goes:

A dear friend of mine started his first relationship at 46. They've been together for 14 years now and they look very happy to me. No, you're not too late at all.

He was open with her about not having had any previous relationships. That openness was probably a good idea and caused zero problems. It may have prevented some.
As far as I know, my friend's partner found his lack of experience not offputting at all, and in fact kinda sweet.

They had been friends for several years before they got together in a romantic sense. I'm not saying that this is the only way this could work, but it worked for them.

If you're worried about a lack of sexual or dating experience, keep in mind that people are very different. A new partner always means that a lot of things are new, and experience will only get you so far: even if you were experienced, you would certainly need to learn plenty about your new partner and their sexual / romantic/ relationship wishes and habits. So there is always a lot to learn.

I do think your proposed dating profile approach sounds good. Under the right circumstances, that might very well appeal to me.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:27 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I might read 'little dating experience' as 'little relationship experience', so if that matters to you you might want to phrase it a bit more clearly.

Best of luck, whatever you do.
posted by trig at 1:38 AM on September 10 [9 favorites]


As a hetero woman who's finally ended 7 years of dating, I wouldn't have minded your lack of dating but seeing it in your profile may have caused me to imagine unreasonable/unfair reasons for it.

I get that you want to be open about your lack of experience (that's nice that you want to be open but it's not like its a hobby [hey, I like fishing, do you like walks on the beach]). It (to me) comes across as a "hey, sorry, I can't X" . I read, having a wandering eye, like I do, or being overweight, like I am, should be required warnings on a dating site. Fuck that shit.

Also, I kept my personal health details private until I met someone who fitted my mental health issues. So few people understand anxiety disorders, and as a man, you are on the wrong side of the numbers. (Even women like me get spammed by so many guys that choice - while not necessarily between good and better - is a major part of our dating experience).

Don't lie - you can say you prefer evenings at home or you're an introvert.

I've lost my thread because this is on mobile, but don't wait until your social anxiety is "cured" before you try dating. For me, it was a useful desentisation tool - after getting no second dates from 30 odd guys - I wasn't scared of the meaningless small talk anymore.
posted by b33j at 2:34 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


Oh, and assume (it might not be true) that the 50 first dates are practice, because if you get invested too quickly (like I did in my early dating),even if the person is a really good match, it may send up (false) red flags. I had to work really hard (7 years into dating post 24 year marriage) and set boundaries with my companion of 2.5 years and counting when he made (way early) declarations of admiration and fondness. Now of course, we both enjoy the concept that he fell in love with my profile (it was longer than usual and I requested people who contacted me to at least try and be interesting) but at the beginning, I was all "this guy is so desperate - any woman will do - how can I form meaningful rapport with someone who doesnt care who I am".
posted by b33j at 2:41 AM on September 10 [8 favorites]


IMO, dating profiles are not like cover letters or work resumes.... you aren't required to explain gaps in your history ahead of time like that, in your profile. (I don't think so, anyway.)

I'd expect that to become part of early-dating conversation with whomever you chose to share it with. At some point, that's stuff that Gets Talked About; but only with people you reach that level with.

Speaking from some experience-rather than try to curate your profile toward as-yet unknown people who you're trying to please... just write about what makes you awesome. And let the chips fall. And post good, interesting pictures that show your personality, with appealing smiles. No fish, please. (Unless of course fishing is Your Thing!)

The lesson I learned (and it was a hard one!) was this- there were lots of dating failures. And not one of them was "my fault". Those people were just WRONG for me. No matter what I'd put into my profile, they still would have been wrong. So agonizing over what to say, wondering if I was funny enough, appealing enough, matching someone else's expectations enough.. all time wasted, and needless anxiety & stress I was putting on myself.

The person I finally found who is RIGHT, didn't even approach me first- I approached him, and his profile was very bare-bones. But he had a great smile. So I went out on a limb. Our first date was 4+ hours of great conversation, and it just kept going from there.

The short version is- don't sweat it. Just start meeting people and wait for the one who doesn't make you feel like everything depends on you completing some hidden checklist of optimal requirements.

The only way (I think) to figure out if you're putting yourself in front of the right people is... to put yourself in front of people. Meet IRL sooner rather than later; get coffee, go for walks, do lots of low-stakes activities with as many people as you can. Let things be less fraught. It's supposed to be fun, I hear. : ) Best of luck to you!!
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 2:51 AM on September 10 [16 favorites]


My online dating experience is old and out of date, but I suspect few people visit online dating sites because they want to find a friend who might some day turn into a date. There probably are some, and maybe that's enough. But, you're looking for something quite different from most people. Being upfront about that doesn't seem like a bad idea, if it's a small part of a larger profile. I'd skip the history (until the second date) and just talk about what you're looking for.

My naive suggestion is to instead spend more time doing things that bring you into contact with more people who are interested in the same things as you. When you find one you'd like to date, say, "would you like to go on a date with me" with no ambiguity. (It's the hardest thing in the world. But it's worth it.) Not everyone is interested in dating strangers. That's okay.

For what it's worth, both of my parents are happily living with partners they met in their late 60s, and they both have significant mental health challenges. It's never too late. Best wishes.
posted by eotvos at 3:06 AM on September 10


Like trig I would also read "little dating experience" as "little relationship experience". I think you're defining dating as "meeting someone for the express purpose of sparking a romantic connection" and I would probably define dating as "the stage of relationship where both of you have agreed you're romantic but it's not like you're engaged or anything." If you've ever been out to a nice dinner or a movie or the farmer's market with someone you're romantically involved in, by my definition that's a date.

The way you want to say it is "new to the whole online dating scene" or "new to the whole dating scene" or "I don't date much." It is neither a red flag nor a big deal, and in fact might be a plus to many. Some people might be turned off, but hell, some people don't like people who've dated too much! It's a matter of personal preference and individual neuroses! There's no way to win here and therefore there is also no way to lose!

One way to frame it to yourself might be that a win isn't getting the other person to like you, a win is just showing up. Please focus as little about whether or not your date is into you as possible and instead focus on whether they're interesting, what might be interesting about them, what you can learn from talking to them... If you go into it thinking "I'm interested in people and this is a way to meet people" you'll be much more relaxed than if you go in thinking "oh god I have to be charming and appropriate I can't be weird what if I'm awkward." This is going to sound bad, but their opinion of you based on a couple dates doesn't actually matter.

Also, I highly recommend watching the Netflix show Dating Around, which features one person going on five dates per episode, presented without judgment of any of their dates. It's low-key and might help give you a script of how a date could go/familiarize you with what modern dating's like. (Please ignore this suggestion if your form of anxiety is going to make you compare yourself to singles who are made up for TV and edited for articulateness, but if you're more nervous about not knowing how it'll go this show might help.)
posted by storytam at 3:39 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


I think, and I say this as a 38-year-old single woman who is back on okcupid, you’re worrying about this too much. At our age, there are always Reasons why someone is still looking, and it varies from just got out of a relationship or was too busy in the past or was too shy etc etc. The past few men I’ve gone out with have had their reasons (including one who I suspect is just very shy around women) and past relationship experience means very little to me, or to most of my single women friends. And in some cases, it actually might be a bonus. If I met someone who said their last relationship was nine years ago but they got a little burned out by dating and are trying again, it wouldn’t even faze me.

So don’t worry about it! Keep up with therapy, keep working on bettering yourself as we all should do, and maybe mention on the first date that you like to take things slow so she doesn’t think you’re not interested. And reframe your past dating experiences in your head! You’ve had relationships! They haven’t worked out; you’ve been focusing on yourself and now it’s time to try dating again! This is 100% totally normal. Honestly, again, this is not a big deal. If someone is turned off by that? Too bad for them, you’re not their cup of tea, happens to all of us.

And I would actually advise not to say anything on your profile about this. If I see a profile with something like this on it, it’s a bit of a yellow flag. Not because I care that this is true, but because I feel like if it means enough to the person to write it out, then dating them might be slightly complicated. Don’t sell yourself short before someone has ever met you!

Best of luck! Dating is rough, no matter who you are!
posted by umwhat at 4:09 AM on September 10 [15 favorites]


I think your plan sounds fine. And you know OKC profiles are editable, right? :) Try it out, see what kind of response you get, tweak as needed so that your true intentions come across clearly to your ideal target audience, as it were, and see what happens. I don't think you're going to turn off the right person with what you've got here, though it's possible that your odds of encountering them in the first place might increase with some kind of variant.

That said, if I had to guess what might need to be changed, I'd pick

...and to see where that leads.

I know this is literally what you want to do. I even told you to do it too! However, this specific phrase is the only part of your proposed profile that would make me personally wary, because too often it's used by people who want to deepen a friendship to the point that sex is in the offering, but then expect to coast at that same level of friendship indefinitely, without ever investing enough emotionally to become a true partner. You don't sound like that's your thing at all, so it'd be a shame to have come off that way. I think the easiest fix is to drop the whole "so for right now" sentence. I could be wrong though, so if you want to try it this way to start with, go for it.
posted by teremala at 4:13 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


The one thing that sounds odd to me is "looking to meet some people as friends, and to see where that leads." Looking for friends is not the same as looking for dates. It's absolutely OK to want to go on dates, and to say so. Especially on a dating site!
posted by zompist at 4:21 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


The only bit of your wording that gives me pause is "I've been learning a lot about myself lately, and as part of that, I'd like to get out there and meet some people."

It makes it sound like your goal in meeting people is to learn more things about yourself, which is ... fine, I guess, but puts a lot of emotional baggage on your date, and treats her like a step on your self-improvement ladder, rather than a grown-ass woman with agency and baggage of her own.

I don't think, based on the rest of what you've written in this question, that that's what you mean, but that's how it comes across to me, a woman who has been known to use OK Cupid but stopped precisely because of the overwhelming number of men who want a lady-person to fix them.
posted by basalganglia at 5:19 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


As a 50-something straight dude myself, with tons of “relationship experience” (ouch that is an infelicitous construction, it’s better shorthanded as “living”) to my name, brother you are overthinking this and that is a bigger problem than your lack of “experience,” because you’re communicating a lack of self-confidence in that draft ad. You’re communicating imposter syndrome. You’re communicating preemptive failure. And those are not things that work to get over the starting line in an anonymous algorithmic sea.

You’re letting it all out too soon. And the thing is, you’re really not so far from any sort of normal. You describe the history of plenty of men. Even those of us with relationship “experience” often take the wrong lessons from that experience. (Takes a bow.) Your prior way of meeting women — essentially through contact in non-dating-focused settings— is how a huge number of good and bad relationships have started. Online dating has shuffled that within your own lifetime in some profound ways, making mating more of a large scale empirical exercise. No one your age or older who has had or wanted to date in the present era in search of a durable relationship has not faced the anxieties you describe or the learning curve that is involved in dating at scale with a goal, maybe not as badly, but you’re on the spectrum of “normal” more than you seem to believe. And so are many women who share the same or related worries. That needs to be internalized: there are women out there who are going to be in to you for the very qualities you fear are disqualifying. Trust me. Just don’t lead with anxiety.

I have wound up very happy. Getting there took a lot of learning and a lot of struggle. Self-doubt was never not part of that struggle. Nor has it been for any man I know well, or any woman. And by the way, unrequited limerence is also endemic to the human condition. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
posted by spitbull at 5:25 AM on September 10 [11 favorites]


You can post your proposed text, see what kinds of responses you get, make edits if you like, see what changes.

As a 43-y/o woman with limited relationship experience, I personally would like to hear more about your interests, your work, hobbies, family - those things to me are a better indicator of whether we might be a good fit. I'd pare down the relationship stuff to something like:

"I'm new to the online dating scene. I'd like to take things slow and really get to know someone."

Once you meet someone you click with, you can have more conversations about how you both want things to go.

This is my personal opinion and may not reflect the views of all women everywhere.
posted by bunderful at 5:31 AM on September 10 [19 favorites]


"I'm new to the online dating scene. I'd like to take things slow and really get to know someone."

Is perfect. I wouldn't box yourself in before you even had the chance to meet the other person.
posted by moiraine at 5:52 AM on September 10 [12 favorites]


I would just assume someone who is still a bachelor at your age has focused more on their career and is now thinking of settling down.

My husband was partner-free for the 9 years prior to us getting together. We'd dated in college, then found each other on the internet 25+ years later, and started talking via email & phone. I don't think he would have been a good match for me when we were younger, as he was not very mature, and I think my expectations at a young age would have led to a break-up. But, he is (somewhat) more mature now, ha-ha.

One thing that did cause trouble wasn't his lack of dating experience, it was the fact that he hadn't lived with anyone in almost 10 years, and before that, the woman he was with was sort of like a roommate, who eventually left to deal with a family matter and just happened to never come back, to which my husband's response was to just not date anyone. He is somewhat shy, and does have some social anxiety (can't attend parties with a lot of people, he will go as white as a ghost and start sweating and shaking), but he's fine one-on-one with me and small groups of people.

My point is, he and I have very different views on what constitutes sharing household duties, and also doing them in the first place. He sees no reason to mop the floors, ever. I'm not uber picky, but I do mop when I see dirt. We had a long and drawn out discussion at Walmart once, because I wanted to buy a toilet brush, and he didn't want to spend the extra money on it. I guess if you're single, you can do what you want (clean or not clean), but after you find someone you click with, the next step will likely be living together and/or marriage. So think about what do you want in a person, how you will share daily household tasks, are you a neat freak, or a casual cleaner, are you a morning person, do you like to go hiking in nature, or enjoy dinner and a movie? Do you drink alcohol, how do you feel about coffee, or pot, or things of that nature? Do you want a professional woman or a homebody? Think of your likes and dislikes, your hobbies and interests, and look for someone with similar tastes. You don't both have to have the same exact hobbies, but if you can appreciate each other's interests, and they overlap somewhat, that will be a plus. My husband and I have discovered that the many years we were apart, we'd both read some of the same books, for instance. I like a guy who reads books, and my other partners had very little interest in reading, literature, or poetry, etc. My husband doesn't care for pop music or celebrity news, and I like both of those. He knows almost every single classical music piece ever composed, and can name that tune when they come on the radio. I like rock 'n' roll and he likes The Beatles and says maybe Adele and Lady Gaga, because they have good voices, LOL.

We both love animals, especially our two cats. Birds, nature, all of those things. He is really more of a homebody than I am, and I have to instigate outings, because it drives me nuts to be at home ALL the time, except for things like grocery shopping or doing laundry. I don't consider chores to be outings. He hates shopping, I love shopping, and stopping to browse, and he can't wait to get in and out of the store as quickly as humanly possible. This presents a challenge when we both need new clothes (last time, he ended up with a pack of underwear, and zero new jeans and shirts, both of which he really needed). These seem like little things, but your style of doing things will be a factor in any future relationship, so that's the stuff you should be thinking about, not your lack of experience. Trust me, you will gain experience, some good, some bad, and then hopefully meet someone with whom you are compatible.

I'd save the talk about experience for oh, the 3rd or 4th date with someone. Just list your hobbies, likes, "I'm into gaming, especially XYZ game," or "I love making homemade pasta," or "I go to the gym a lot, I'm into Crossfit" or anything, favorite TV shows, movies, are you a coffee fanatic, into craft beer, etc. Stuff like that.

The biggest turnoffs for me, when I was looking at online dating, were the guys who said stuff like, "No headgames!" or had an impossible list of what they wanted in a woman, "petite, fit, takes care of herself, likes to cook and clean, loves hunting and fishing, and will be a good stepmother to my 8 kids from 3 previous marriages," I mean, come on. Just be yourself.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:58 AM on September 10 [10 favorites]


I have anxiety and I've never mentioned it on a dating profile, I go with the "put your best foot forward" approach where I reveal some little tidbits about myself that show I'm an individual (and give people something to write to me about) and give people a sense of me without putting everything that makes me vulnerable up for strangers to read. Put your interests, hobbies, favorite movies or music, things you want to try (like activities, foods, trips etc.), give women something they can comment on to bridge a conversation.

My partner, who I met on a dating app, also has anxiety, and he also didn't mention it (his profile was mostly blank but I thought he was cute and had kind eyes and kindness was way up on my list). Pretty much everyone I've gone out with has something whether it's a tendency towards depression, anxiety, or other personal struggles. I think if you're an adult over 25-30 it's safe to assume you've been through some shit.

It's good you're seeking help for the social anxiety. It will likely be there while you're dating and you shouldn't take it's appearance as a sign you aren't ready to date, but just try to accept it and carry on as much as possible. If you know you'll be more comfortable in quiet or less busy settings feel free to mention that when setting up a date, I myself don't like crowded bars and am not a drinker, a nice restaurant or park setting is better for me. Whenever I'm really nervous with a date it's due to a mismatch, if I'm uncomfortable it's my gut telling me something's not quite right, but that's different from the normal pre-date jitters where you're nervous because it's an unknown situation. For me spending time before the date talking/texting and finding commonalities makes going into the first date a lot easier, I usually felt like "ok, this person is nice and funny and likes dogs and the same food as me so at worst we will eat some tacos and go home alone".
posted by lafemma at 6:10 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


I didn’t date at all most of my life on account af a long term relationship that started in high school, and I have awful social anxiety, and I think you should start dating now! It’s great that you are in therapy, that will be so helpful while you get used to it. My experience was that most of the dates felt so so awkward, and a few were actually wonderful, and the more I did it the easier the anxiety got: it was like jumping into a cold stream and then just letting the water carry me along. All the stuff about personal mental health and life plans won’t matter until after the first few dates. All you need to worry about at first is making conversation about things you are interested in, and being a good listener, and being kind. If I was on a date with someone who was open about being nervous (like it is something you might mention casually and laugh off and move on), I wouldn’t think that was a red flag, but making it seem like the main thing about you would be. When I was going on dates I thought, Ok, I will be awkward but enthusiastic, because there’s something interesting about everyone, and the person I would like to date long term will be cool with the fact that I’m in therapy and not great at conventional small talk.
You can always post your profile here for critiques!
posted by velebita at 6:59 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I'm a 38-year-old woman who dates in your age bracket and I've seen plenty of men on OKC be open about not having much relationship experience; they typically cite focus on their career or family obligations or similar as the reason, and I never think much of it when framed that way. Sure, go ahead and mention the personal growth if you like; a lot of people do that, but no need to state outright that you have social anxiety. Everyone who is on a dating site is at least a little socially anxious. It's vulnerable to put yourself out there like that!

I can also say that online dating might be just the ticket for breaking the unrequited limerence cycle. I know exactly what you mean, and how that can be a really tricky part of dating people with whom you were good friends first, and I have been where you are. You have little to no attachment to people you meet online and you get a lot of good practice at inuiting the ones that aren't going to work out and ending them quickly, and there's value and empowerment in that. It can also be a really fantastic way to learn a lot about yourself and discern what you actually want out of a partner and a relationship. You might think you already know, but literally every single date I've been on and every person I've met, even the ones that didn't go particularly well, have taught me something new in that regard. Either they see something in me and reflect it back to me in a way I'd never thought about, or they raise awareness of something I need in a relationship that I hadn't admitted to myself, or a caused me to establish a boundary or a dealbreaker I didn't know I had until then, or...whatever. So many things. It's a cool opportunity, frankly.

I'm realizing that I also really, really want to share in another person's joy and pain, and to do everything I can to lift them up and make them feel loved and accepted. Giving love feels incredible, y'all.)

I love this and would most definitely smile if I saw it in a profile. I second the suggestion to come back here and post your full profile for feedback!

Also make sure to answer lots of the questions on OKC! If you are completely honest in your answers, I think they can be a really good way to communicate your approach to dating without having to use the exactly right words, if that makes any sense. E.g. I *am* one of those people who likes to, erm, verify sexual chemistry (or lack thereof) fairly early on because that's hugely important to me in a relationship, so when I see someone who has answered that they wouldn't want have sex until 6+ dates at minimum, that's a pretty big indicator to me that we're not going to be particularly aligned in our approach to dating.

Good luck and have fun!
posted by anderjen at 7:33 AM on September 10 [2 favorites]


1. Does this sound like a good approach?

Positivity counts for a lot in online dating. There are ways to say what you want to say in a positive tone. Instead of "I have little relationship experience", you could say "It's been a while, and I'm ready to change that!"

2. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to my lack of dating experience? (I'd like to get that out there early, to weed out the people who will be turned off by it.)

Keep it vague for now. This is probably something that is better handled face to face anyway. At our age, we all have something, and your something may not be as big a deal as you think it is.

3. Be real with me: how big of a red flag is #2? Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and there will be people for whom it's a disqualifier. I get that.

Again, positivity and confidence. Putting yourself out there as someone who needs a practice partner -- why would someone go in for that? Appearing as someone who has their shit reasonably together is going to vault you above the rest.

4. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to the social anxiety, and my present phase of personal growth? (I don't want people to feel like they're just props in my therapy – but if I'm going to mention my spotty romantic history, then it seems plausible that I might want to explain that, briefly, in order to demonstrate that I'm working on those issues.)

Keep it vague for now. Talk about evaluating life changes and being on a path of self-discovery, and being happy with the results so far.

5. In general, how should I think about #2? How can I frame it to myself so that it's less "I'm a hopelessly undateable loser", and more "I've had my challenges in the past, but I'm making a commitment to overcome them, and that might be kinda scary but is totally achievable"?

This is one of those things where success breeds success. Going out on dates and having a good time and lessening the magnitude of it all is what's going to get that 'loser' idea out of your head. Believe me -- I've been there. You're not a loser, so stop with that.

6. Or is it, perhaps, premature to start dating? Should I focus on the social anxiety and self-loathing in therapy first, and then try dating? I'm not sure whether it's better to solve the social anxiety by plunging headfirst into a scary and uncertain situation, or to solve some of the anxiety first and then plunge into dating with greater confidence and resilience. (But perhaps this is something that I need to figure out for myself in therapy.)

Just do it. Go on. Just do it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:47 AM on September 10 [5 favorites]


As a single woman in your age bracket, I wouldn't find a lack of relationship experience a dealbreaker. But I would go with something like bunderful's script--the more worried you appear to be about it, the more worried I'd be. That is, it represents certain challenges, but everyone's got a set of those; the bigger problem is your attitude towards those challenges. There are plenty of solid reasons people don't have a lot of dating experience that I wouldn't raise an eyebrow at, but I don't want to start dating men who think they're fundamentally unlovable and are looking for a partner to paper that over.

I also hope that you are open to dating women YOUR AGE who are of equally limited experience. (I'm not on a dating app right now, but I would auto-cross-off any guy whose age bracket of interest didn't reach to his own age, and ideally, depending on how the app works, a little higher.)
posted by praemunire at 8:21 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


42 is the meaning of life!

Anyway, first of all, you sound lovely and I feel you will definitely find what you're looking for with time and effort. Second, you are not your dating experience (or lack thereof), you are a person. As a Person(TM), you have your idiosyncracies (which may or may not relate to dating), likes, dislikes, things that interest you, don't interest you, etc. etc. What are those things? Put that in your profile.

I agree with spitbull that you're way overthinking it. All dating is is meeting people to see if you're interested in another date. If you are, then you set up another date. If you aren't, then you don't. Here's my suggested strategy for you: Message people you're interested in. You may or may not get a response. The conversation may or may not taper off. After you've established a rapport, ask them to go to coffee - this is the "pre-date" to see if you want to have an actual date. Have a pleasant conversation. If there's no mutual interest, it ends there. If there is, set up that date. That's it.

You might send out a lot of messages and get nothing back (in that case, come back to askmefi with some sample messages and we'll troubleshoot :) You will meet nice people who are not interesting. You will get flaked on, cancelled on, ghosted on. You will meet people who are good on paper, but you are just uninterested in for no particular reason. You will meet people where you're interested in them, but they're not interested in you, and vice versa. You will meet people who are just not emotionally available, and that isn't your fault. You might meet zombies (people who ghost who contact you again). You might meet someone where things go well in the beginning, and then fizzle out. And then you might meet someone where it all lines up - you get each other, and you want the same things. What I'm saying is: online dating is a slog and a lot of work. I don't want to scare you off, just don't get discouraged, because it's REALLY easy to get discouraged. Just want to set your expectations. It can also be fun, just meeting new people. If you go into online dating with no expectations, you'll be fine. If you're expecting to meet a lovely person every time (and maybe you will get lucky and that will happen!) you set up a date, that might not happen.

Dating is a skill, just like any other, it takes practice. You're going to learn as you go, and you'll learn more about what you want in a relationship and can tweak your profile accordingly. You don't have to be vulnerable right off the bat with someone. Just talk about yourself, what you like, what you're interested in. That's what you do with friends, right? Similar idea. (Just don't give off such a friend vibe that there's no romantic interest... flirting a little bit will help) And definitely post your profile here (with photos) for feedback, if you want.

As for your profile text, that's too much about your dating history. All you really need for that is: "I'd eventually like to find a long-term partner – but I prefer to know someone as a friend before rushing into a romantic involvement." and I'd reword it to something like, "I'd eventually like to find a long-term partner but I'm no in rush. I believe that friendship is important to the foundation for a great relationship."

In general, how should I think about #2? How can I frame it to myself so that it's less "I'm a hopelessly undateable loser", and more "I've had my challenges in the past, but I'm making a commitment to overcome them, and that might be kinda scary but is totally achievable"?

...You just did reframe it? :)

On the inexperience thing, have a look at this.

On preview, I totally agree with what praemunire said - I'm also a single woman in your age bracket.
posted by foxjacket at 8:30 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


And then, just, like...go on a date or two, with the understanding (on both sides) that these are low-stakes practice dates, which might result in nothing more than a friendly conversation.

First dates are generally assumed to be low-stakes practice dates. You don't need to put a hat on a hat by spelling it out; that just evinces a lack of confidence, and you don't need to confuse a lack of experience with a lack of confidence.

1. Does this sound like a good approach?

No, the goal here is to go on dates. Put your best self out there.

2. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to my lack of dating experience?


You can still get it out there early once you've started talking to somebody. Your impulse to put disclaimers in your profile is borne of those "it's inappropriate to have romantic feelings" thoughts. Don't hobble yourself.

3. Be real with me: how big of a red flag is #2? Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and there will be people for whom it's a disqualifier. I get that.


It's a fact of your lived life so far, so don't worry about it. We are all a crawling mess of disqualifiers to this person and that.

4. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to the social anxiety, and my present phase of personal growth?


Not at all. These are not necessary or appropriate things to put in a dating profile.

5. In general, how should I think about #2?


You're thinking about it way too much. I don't know how to change your mental framework, but doing more (dating) and thinking less (about how dating could go wrong) will probably help.

6. Or is it, perhaps, premature to start dating?

Maybe, but you will not get a definitive answer here, or in therapy. It sounds like you are doing the necessary work on yourself, so if you want to date, go out there and act like you're worth dating, treat people with respect and kindness, and see what happens.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:16 AM on September 10 [4 favorites]


1. Does this sound like a good approach?

I feel like this approach makes it seem like you're very caught up in managing your own expectations, anxieties, ego, which comes off as you being very inward-focused. Which isn't a problem, it shows you're reflective. But it also isn't very welcoming in the context of dating.

This is stuff that it's fine that you're doing/thinking about but it's not something to highlight in this particular venue. I mean, EVERYONE on the site (or who is dating in general) is having to manage their expectations, anxieties and egos, that's part of the deal and why dating is stressful/difficult (for everyone), so best case scenario is that you're highlighting a subtext that is not at all unique to you (which is pointless), and worst case scenario you're trying to convey that something unique about you is that this stuff is especially difficult for you to manage (which is self-sabotage).

2. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to my lack of dating experience? (I'd like to get that out there early, to weed out the people who will be turned off by it.)

No. If you hit it off with someone, you will probably talk about this in the first date or two. Dating history is personal enough that you don't need to be blasting it out to strangers via your profile.

3. Be real with me: how big of a red flag is #2? Obviously, this will vary from person to person, and there will be people for whom it's a disqualifier. I get that.

Pink flag? Depends on how much relationship experience you're talking about and (honestly) how much the specific woman you're interested in likes you. But I mean, that you don't have a ton of dating experience is just a fact about your life that is going to be true whether it's a red flag or not. So while I personally wouldn't put it on the profile because I think it's too personal for that, if it comes up in conversation then I think it's important to be honest (and not try to dissemble or hedge because you're worried about what the reaction might be. Honesty is always the best policy, ultimately).

4. In my profile, how much (if at all) should I allude to the social anxiety, and my present phase of personal growth?

No, too personal. This is something to share in intimate conversation with a specific person, not something to put on your profile.

5. In general, how should I think about #2? How can I frame it to myself so that it's less "I'm a hopelessly undateable loser", and more "I've had my challenges in the past, but I'm making a commitment to overcome them, and that might be kinda scary but is totally achievable"?

Again, very inward-focused. Which is fine and normal. But you're not dating for self-discovery, you're dating because you want to fall in love with another person, you want to strike up a happy relationship with another person. What can you offer that other person? What do you think would be fun to do with someone else? That stuff should be the focus of your profile, beyond your basic world-view and hobby stuff.

This (future) relationship is something external to you, it's something you create *with someone else.* Your struggles with your relationship with yourself are of course not totally irrelevant, but this relationship is fundamentally a separate thing from you and your inner life. You can struggle with your inner life and have a beautiful relationship with your girlfriend/wife. You can have a fantastic inner life and struggle with your relationship with your girlfriend/wife. She is going to have her own personality/history/needs, and there are also different skills involved in having a happy and fulfilling relationship with another person v. a happy and fulfilling inner life. Your relationship with a specific other person is not the same relationship as the one you have with yourself.

6. Or is it, perhaps, premature to start dating? Should I focus on the social anxiety and self-loathing in therapy first, and then try dating? I'm not sure whether it's better to solve the social anxiety by plunging headfirst into a scary and uncertain situation, or to solve some of the anxiety first and then plunge into dating with greater confidence and resilience. (But perhaps this is something that I need to figure out for myself in therapy.)


Personally, I think you should start dating. That you're interested in a romantic relationship is reason enough to give it a try. If you find yourself making the same mistakes, then work on fixing THAT behavior and THOSE mistakes. Again, the mistakes you make in dating are not necessarily the same ones that you make in other relationships or in your relationship with yourself anyhow. The only way to get better and more comfortable dating and in relationships is to date and get into a relationship.

Also, I think you're underestimating yourself. Just because you have trouble loving yourself doesn't mean you won't be able to love someone else. Just because you have trouble being kind to yourself doesn't mean you won't be able to be kind to someone else. And you will make a woman very happy by loving and being kind to her. Don't make your AND your future significant other's life worse by continuing to hide.
posted by rue72 at 9:56 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


I agree, put your best foot forward. People use different criteria when trying to narrow down from the 5000 singles within 25 miles of them than when talking to a real person in front of them. Like poetry, every word in a dating profile speaks volumes. I would not highlight things that people might overinterpret, and "little dating experience" is just such a thing. In reading what you wrote, I literally got the impulse to click to the next profile when I read that sentence, which is totally not fair to you, but that's the kind of impulsivity at play in reading profiles.

The other place where your framing might benefit from a shift is the part about self discovery. People want to date people who are interested in them, not who are preoccupied with themselves. Not saying you are, but it could come across that way. Especially right next to the part about not having dated much. That stuff about wanting to share in another's joy and pain (while having an appropriate level of separation / boundaries)? That's the stuff.

So I'd cut the sentence "I've never really dated much – but I've been learning a lot about myself lately, and as part of that, I'd like to get out there and meet some people." Just go straight from saying that you're into X, Y, and Z to talking about how you'd eventually like to find a long-term partner but would like to take things slow. I personally liked the sentence about starting as friends and seeing where things go.

is it, perhaps, premature to start dating? Should I focus on the social anxiety and self-loathing in therapy first, and then try dating?

Your instincts are the best guide, so give it a try and see how you feel. No harm in trying! You might find that it feels like a distraction or like you aren't really connecting with people because you aren't ready to make that the priority. Or maybe it will go great. It is amazing to overcome decades of anxiety and have your mind full of revelations about who you really are, etc. But the best time to date is not right when you need to be giving that amazing process your full attention, but just after it settles out when you're like "the inside of my head has gotten a little boring and my life is in a good place -- I'd really like to connect with someone else and learn about them and start to build a life." If you find the process of interacting with other people and trying to understand them to be pulling you away from this important work you're doing then you can always hit the pause button. But it sounds like your instincts are saying you're ready, so good luck!
posted by salvia at 10:16 AM on September 10


Yeah, I wouldn't throw it front-and-center in your profile, but I wouldn't worry about it either. By their late 30s people are a lot more relaxed about other people's life paths and relationship paths, and everybody knows someone they care about who did not partner up in their 20s or early 30s, for good reasons, and people understand that it's not "weird."

I have a friend who's in a similar boat to yours, he's in his 30s and has basically never dated (and had only short and not-super-serious relationships). He's naturally shy, and he dealt with a lot of social anxiety on top of that, and he found college profoundly alienating because so much of the social life revolved around drinking and partying and that is not at all his scene, and that kind of put him off dating for a long time. But he's got a good job, he's got no debt (when he noped out of college social life he started working a lot to avoid dealing with it, and managed to get through college and a master's with a combination of scholarships and paying his way) except a mortgage on a nice place. He's close with his family and his nieces and nephews all adore him, he has a small but very tight-knit circle of close friends (some he's been friends with since kindergarten!) and has a low-key but active social life, he tries new things, he travels a lot, he's woke, he's a good listener, he recycles, like you he started getting fit a few years ago and runs 5Ks and 10Ks now.

He's more focused on finding a partner now, and he's always really worried that he's not attractive on the dating scene since he didn't date much earlier on, but when I tell my female friends about him, their eyes widen and they're like, "He's a catch." He is! Like, he didn't date a lot because he was shy, and because college was an awkward fit socially, not because he was an incel or a misanthrope or anything. And he achieved lots of other trappings of a successful life -- friends, job, his own place, interesting hobbies. And unlike a lot of single men in their late 30s, he comes with very little baggage because he hasn't been married and divorced and doesn't have children from a previous relationship. (And, in his case, he loves kids and he's great with them, and he's totally down to date women with kids from previous relationships.) They see a shy, commitment-oriented man who has a lot going for him, has a close-knit and loyal network of family and friends, and has NO EXES to deal with. It's still a matter of meeting a lot of people and finding someone you have a spark with, but I promise you, his limited relationship experience makes him MORE attractive, not less, at this point in life. You sound like you've got a lot going for and like you know yourself pretty well; I expect plenty of women will find it a plus with you as well.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 AM on September 10 [7 favorites]


I think what adds to your (normal?) anxiety about dating is the fear of failing women’s expectations of you. Where they might want to kiss on the first date, have sex on the third, etc, and if you don’t, they will think you are wired/whatever. That’s why you want to preemptively “warn” them about this in your profile, and to weed out those for whom this is a problem right off the bet, so that you don’t have to deal with this uncomfortable feeling of inadequacy or not being “normal,” or having to explain yourself.

I’d recommend trying to think of yourself as a person who doesn’t have to fit into the mold of what modern dating is “supposed” to be like. Because there really is no one way to date. There are so many different people out there with polar opposite preferences. And that’s OK, and you are OK, and you don’t have to apologize in advance for your very valid preferences.

I’ve spent many, many years as a woman, struggling with a problem of being afraid to disappoint a man I’ve just started to date (even if I wasn’t even sure I liked him all that much), afraid of him accusing me of just leading him on, afraid that he would move on if we don’t have sex really soon. This led to me sometimes having sex with men much sooner than I was ready. This was obviously bad for me. Bad for my self esteem, my feeling of self-worth. My life became SO much better when I finally (in my very late 30s) started to realize that what I want and feel within a relationship matters. It matters just as much as what a man wants and feels, and that there’s nothing wrong with me.

I’d recommend writing up a profile that reflects on what an awesome person you are. You could be awesome because you like hiking, or can bake, or have some goals or something you are looking forward to (could be anything – traveling to a place, climbing a mountain, baking the next challenging cake, something career related, planting a tree, etc). You could also be awesome because you realize that life is a process of learning and growing and you are curious about this journey. You could be awesome because you take time to observe and understand others around you and curious about other people’s lives and growth processes. You could be awesome because you have a great sense of humor and are fun, and yet you are very responsible. (Etc., I don’t know you, just some examples of what to focus on, perhaps).

And then look for people on the dating site that you find interesting, talk to them, and ask them out to coffee as soon as possible. There is nothing shameful about wanting to meet someone who might potentially later on become your romantic interest – for coffee. First meetings (I don’t even consider them dates) are very low key, low expectations ways to just meet a person to see if there is mutual interest in person. I’m not talking mutual interest of jumping into bed together. Mutual interest to meet again because you find them beautiful, feel good while talking to them, feel that they are an open and honest person, or any number of other preferences you might have are there. Check with yourself on your level of interest and joy during and after this first meeting. If you feel you had a great time and see some potential, ask them out on a date.

Think of a place that’s good for having a conversation, ask them out, agree on day/time, confirm a day or two in advance by saying that you are looking forward to seeing them on Friday or whenever, be well groomed, be on time, and start looking forward to having a conversation with this person that would reveal more about you to her, and vice versa. Use this time together not just for small talk, but ask some deeper questions about their preferences, desires, goals. If conversation feels open and sincere, bring up your own preferences, say, of needing a few more dates than what you think is considered “usual” before you want to be physically intimate, and ask what her preferences are in this area. They might be very similar to yours, or way different one way or the other. Nothing wrong with that or any of you. This is your first date, and the purpose of it (and a few consequent dates if they are to follow) is to LEARN about this person, and allow them to learn about you. You’ll be looking for red flags (think what types of things are deal breakers for you, and ask questions that could lead up to reveling those). You’ll be looking for things in common – not just hobbies, but it terms of outlook on life and relationships, and their role in your future. Again, this is the time to learn about the other person. Probably majority to people you’ll meet will not be suitable for you. This is a fact of life for everyone. Numbers game and all that – vast majority of people have to go on a rather large number of dates with different people before they find someone who clicks with them in an amazing way. I had to. And every date that didn’t lead to anything was not because I or he “failed.” It just takes time and a degree of accepting who you are, and being able to speak your truth even if it’s scary at first, to eventually meet someone amazing.
posted by LakeDream at 11:28 AM on September 10 [3 favorites]


So I haven't read all the responses but I am in a somewhat similar situation as you. Although I have been married before so the issue with relationship experience is a bit different. Like some other people have said don't say anything about lacking experience. My advice is to keep things light and somewhat ambiguous in your profile. It's ok to have some mystery.

Now this is the part where I would probably get downvoted on Reddit. The most important thing is to be good looking and not short. It's great that you have lost weight. But for the love of Zeus do not be short. Use some good pictures of yourself. If you do not have any hire someone to take some for you. Smile and dress nicely. If you have a dog post some pics with your dog. If you are 5'9 or taller you shouldn't have much trouble finding dates. Go on as many as you can and enjoy.

No I am not bitter. Why do you ask?
posted by Justin Case at 12:44 PM on September 10


This was me, under another user name.
It's my most popular answer on Ask MeFi.
50 year old bachelor + Match.com = True Love.
posted by Bill Watches Movies Podcast at 1:42 PM on September 10 [7 favorites]


The things you highlight in a profile are the things that anybody looking you up will -- reasonably-- assume you want to talk about with total strangers. so you have to distinguish between things that are a red flag in your life and things that are a red flag to put on your profile to be read by strangers.

so: haven't dated for however many years? not shameful, not a red flag, but the right time to mention it is matter-of-factly, when your date asks you about your last serious relationship, as people often do on dates. a reasonable woman is not going to think badly of you when she finds out in casual conversation, but she may freak out if you announce it, context-free, when there is absolutely no reason to be announcing such personal things. such as, say, on a public profile.

social anxiety? this is the last thing anybody needs to announce in advance, because other people will notice as soon as they talk to you. even in text. if you write enough on your profile, it will show; you don't have to say it. It is also common and standard among online dating types; I assume every man in my personal dating demographic is depressed and anxious to some degree because, well, I know my types and I know how they are. they don't need to spell it out and it would worry me if they did -- what exactly are they trying to warn me about? I would wonder.

Low-stakes dating is good. Say things that give a potential date a good idea of what you're like to be with -- things you like to do, like to read, like to think about, like to talk about. you are not a product for sale; you do not need to list your imperfections and dimensions as if you were advertising a dented used car or a cramped apartment and scrupulously listing every flaw & accident history.

do, though, say the thing about liking to make friends with people on the way to a relationship. this is the standard and normal way to get a romantic partner, but you are right that not everybody assumes it anymore and it is a very positive thing about you that will appeal to the kind of person you want to date, as long as it doesn't come over as insincere.

(when you talk about your past, do not say "limerence" when you mean falling in love unless you are exclusively interested in other people who talk that language. there are a lot of them, so it could work out, but be sure that's what you want. it is the reddest of flags to outsiders. and: a pattern of unrequited love for years is HIGHLY relatable to just about everyone, but do not confess that up front, if at all.)
posted by queenofbithynia at 3:04 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Wanted to offer a success story - my partner was 41 when we met, and he had only had one previous long-term relationship. We met at a movie marathon, and we just hit it off immediately. We've been together for almost 3 years, and it's so good and lovely and mature and calm and fun and wonderful. I think because we took so long to find each other, it makes us appreciate each other even more? But you are not too late!
posted by superlibby at 4:09 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


I've only ever met anyone I've dated by being some flavor of friends first. I also thought from the above-the-fold part of your post that you were going to say you'd never had any romantic experiences at all. Neither is a bad thing or means there's something wrong with you! But it does mean I'm answering this question differently than I would if it's "literally never kissed anyone romantically" territory.

Because honestly, I think it's kind of a non-issue (and I'm glad you're in therapy because that's a hard message to internalize when it's part of the narrative you've been telling yourself about yourself). So re: questions #1-5, I would probably barely allude to it in the profile at all if I were you. I might put in one offhand comment like "I'm new to this whole online dating thing but nervously excited to give it a try!" I agree with everyone who says your profile ought to be about who you are. What are your passions, your personality, the things that you think about and do from day to day? If your profile is all about your dating history or lack of experience, what you are communicating is that that is your personality. That all you think about all day is dating and trying to meet women and how anxious you are about it. Is that what you want to communicate? (Rhetorical question answer: no, it's not.) It doesn't have to be super exciting and flashy and all about how you love expensive suits and trips to Europe, it can just be "a good day to me is sitting on the couch with a cheap beer and trying to cook every possible food item in Zelda: Breath of the Wild (I'm up to 67 so far!)" or "one of the things I love is going to the park to look at dogs and pick up cool rocks. Once I found a rock that looks like a penguin".

You can however bring it up once you're on a date. If it becomes the entire conversation you've gone too far, but I think if you are kind of awkward and dorky that will come through on the date and it will be okay to be minor amounts of vulnerable with someone who's attracted to dorky awkwardness. And that's definitely a thing people are attracted to.

Re question #6, no. Anxiety is kind of an all-your-life thing. Not in a "you're doomed" way but in a "this is a chronic condition with ups and downs, not a thing you get cured of" way. You can't let it hold you back here. I would have a very different response if you said "I have severe anxiety and I can't and won't consider therapy" but you have a care team and a plan and are doing the work. That's exactly what someone wants to see from a potential partner--it shows you won't expect them to be your surrogate therapist or to be the only care team you've got.
posted by capricorn at 9:07 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


I'm going to echo the folks saying that including these specifics about your history and mental health make you come across as a lot more anxious and high maintenance than I think you really are. And I'll add that the way OKCupid functions now means that trying it out that way and seeing if it works well may not be the best plan, unless you're in a big city with a ton of people using OKC. Like Tinder, if someone swipes left on you, they're not going to see your profile again; sometimes ever, sometimes not for a good long while.

Going into a long explanation of how you want to be friends first etc. is also more prescriptive than is useful. You can throw in there that you're a "demisexual," which will concisely make that point and reduce the odds that someone will meet you looking for a hookup.
posted by metasarah at 10:11 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Hey, anonymous -- no advice, but if it makes you feel any better, you're not alone. I'm pretty much nearly point-for-point the same as what you describe. Just to let you know you're not alone.
posted by WCityMike at 5:35 PM on September 13


I've never really dated much – but I've been learning a lot about myself lately, and as part of that, I'd like to get out there and meet some people. I'd eventually like to find a long-term partner – but I prefer to know someone as a friend before rushing into a romantic involvement.

Your framing makes it sound like you don't have any relationship experience at all. In these relationships you had, didn't you go on dates sometimes -- perhaps out to dinner, or to see a movie, or something? You went on dates, with the person you were dating. You knew each other for a while as friends before you started dating. Dates were had. You have dated.

Really the only thing to say on that would be that you are new to online dating, but don't put that in your profile. Save that information for very early on getting to know each other -- that's when you say "I prefer to know someone as a friend before rushing into a romantic involvement".

Generally most people see someone having relationships with people they had already gotten to know before starting to date as being a positive. You are trying something new, going on a date with a stranger -- and most people see a willingness to try new things as a positive.
posted by yohko at 5:45 PM on September 13


« Older Help me deal with my mom’s deathbed disclosure   |   What happens to Vinyl car wraps after their... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments