My friend needs a date!
August 2, 2006 3:51 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to help my buddy find a girlfriend. He's 26 and pretty normal, other than the fact that he's never had a girlfriend or even been on a date and he's obviously extremely shy around females. How can I help him?

I've known "Drew" since we were kids. He's never been on a date besides high school dances (he'd go with a friend of a friend's date) and more recently some dating programs. It used to be kind of a joke, but now it seems like it's never going to happen. We're not trying to get him laid or anything, but it would be nice to teach him to talk to girls.

His problems, as I see them are:

+He's the youngest child (by several years) to immigrant Chinese parents. He's totally americanized, but his parents have always babied him to the extreme. His mom always had crazy rules for him, like not being able to drive anyone but himself until his sophomore year of college. I don't think his parents would like it if he had a non-asian girlfriend, even though he told me he's not attracted to asians. At this point, I think his parents would be satisfied with almost any living female.

+ He's got no interest other than sports. If you were to bring up a current events topic like "Hey, how about that bombing in Lebanon" he'll be baffled. But he plays golf every day after work and participates in about 8 fantasy football leagues each year. I've suggested that he watch the news or read a newspaper once a day to broaden his topical horizons.

+ Although he's very sharp and has no problem talking to people (except for women in his peer group), he's the kind of guy that has really no confidence in himself. He'll never "take a chance" on voicing a controversial opinion, or do something socially risky like get a girl's number.

+ He seems to have really high standards. The girls he has met through introductions or various dating schemes always seem to have some problem (she's ugly, or annoying, or...)

+ I've been told by various females that he's not very attractive, but I think it's more of the way he carries himself than his actual appearance.

Yes, I'm totally certain he's not gay. I would like to be able to offer suggestions to him on how to meet/approach women without being condescending or have him feel like I'm making fun of him. I really like the guy and want to see him do well. Besides just being about getting chicks, I think he won't live up to his potential as long as he has this confidence issue. Suggestions?
posted by b_thinky to Human Relations (34 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Get him into a real, physical sporting club that has a good proportion of the people attending being female. Regular socialisation with the right people (i.e. not the other guys in the fantasy football league) in the right context will do wonders.

I was nearly him - except for the chinese sports-fan thing and a handful of years - and that's what solved it for me.
posted by polyglot at 5:02 AM on August 2, 2006

and by sporting club, obviously I mean "not golf". Something with teams and an active post-game social life.
posted by polyglot at 5:03 AM on August 2, 2006

+ He seems to have really high standards. The girls he has met through introductions or various dating schemes always seem to have some problem (she's ugly, or annoying, or...)

So.. this guy seems to not really want to do what you guys want him to do. Some people have lower desires for sex and companionship. He's not gay, but he could be asexual. Or just doesn't mind not having a girlfriend right now. It's not wrong, just different.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 5:04 AM on August 2, 2006 [2 favorites]

What about encouraging him to try an online dating service? This way he can put his photo & his interests out there, and look up people who he thinks he might be attracted to as well. I know a number of people who have found long term relationships from online dating, but if not, at least this might be a way to get him to go on *a* date.
posted by tastybrains at 5:07 AM on August 2, 2006

Has he ever expressed a desire for you to "help" him in this manner?
posted by phrontist at 5:14 AM on August 2, 2006

It sounds like from his point of view the costs of doing what it would take to get a girlfriend - especially one who would suit his standards - outweigh the benefits. Maybe he's right, maybe not, but I don't think you're going to convince him to change his mind.
posted by teleskiving at 5:35 AM on August 2, 2006

+ He seems to have really high standards. The girls he has met through introductions or various dating schemes always seem to have some problem (she's ugly, or annoying, or...)

If he has low confidence about his ability to maintain a relationship, he may be going on the defense by pre-emptively rejecting them before they have a chance to reject him.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 5:52 AM on August 2, 2006

If it is right that we learn about relationships from our parents, and his mom had all sorts of crazy rules, then maybe his lack of interest comes from the fact that he doesn't want more crazy rules. He could just be not interested because of that. Having exceptionally high standards may just be a convenient defense mechanism.
posted by procrastination at 5:56 AM on August 2, 2006

Set him up with a blind date. You'll have to do all the legwork on this one (ask the woman, set up a mutually acceptable time for them to meet, etc) but he will appreciate it and you may, just may, get something started for him.

Sounds like you're a great friend.
posted by rinkjustice at 6:11 AM on August 2, 2006

and by sporting club, obviously I mean "not golf".

Why not? This guy plays golf every day. He obviously really likes golf. Find the guy some golf-loving girls to play golf with, that's what I say.
posted by reklaw at 6:28 AM on August 2, 2006

This is very nice of you, but Drew should be able to find his own way to someone's heart.

From what you wrote about him, (for me personally), there are a lot of big NOs.

- all that time with online sports? Yuk, in my book.
- parents that might hate me. Yuk.
- not aware of what's going on in the world? Triple Yuk!
- high standards? Ha! It doesn't sound like he has enough going for him to have high standards!

If other ladies out there are like me, this may be a problem.

I hope that there are GOOD things about him too - like he is an extremely loyal friend, lots of fun... or something!

What I'm trying to say is, let him find his own dates - online, real life, whatever. Unless he is actively asking for help in this arena, he'll find his own way.
posted by k8t at 6:50 AM on August 2, 2006

I know you said "you know" that he's not gay, but with a family like that, I wouldn't be surprised if he's really closeted.

Many, many people live double lives. More common than you'd imagine.
posted by milarepa at 7:03 AM on August 2, 2006

Unless Drew has expressed unhappiness, frustration, or dissatisfaction with his current state of affairs, I don't think you ought to be "helping him,"

I don't think you ought to be helping him, either, because it sounds like he's something of a lost cause and it'll just be a waste of your time and energy.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:11 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm going to second k8t. First thing that guy's gotta address is his high standards--you don't mention what he's got going for him, but unless it seriously outweighs all that against him getting him a lady is going to be nigh-impossible.
posted by Anonymous at 7:52 AM on August 2, 2006

Set him up with a blind date.

Just be prepared for the woman you set him up with to never speak to you again.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:54 AM on August 2, 2006 [3 favorites]

His high standards are just a front to protect his ego. Take every copy of Esquire or Details or Men's Health that he has and burn them, then cancel his subscription. Get him a subscription to the Economist and a kick in the balls.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 8:08 AM on August 2, 2006 [1 favorite]

+ He seems to have really high standards. The girls he has met through introductions or various dating schemes always seem to have some problem (she's ugly, or annoying, or...)

Of course, we all know that this is not about "high standards." It's about finding some fault in a woman as quickly as possible so as to avoid the terrifying prospect of having to talk to her further.

You might want to point that out to him. People can genuinely fool themselves with this one and spend a lot of time in this useless place.
posted by scarabic at 8:12 AM on August 2, 2006

Some people don't place as high a value on having a significant other as most of society. It sounds like he's happy, or at least hasn't asked you for help with the situation. Sure, he'd probably like to be more comfortable around the ladies, but that doesn't necessarily mean he needs to start dating, especially if it's with someone below his standards. And to the people who say he's not good enough for high standards, you're confusing your standards with his. Each person's standards are the cutoff point where that person deems a relationship is worth the loss of being single. If he's not as desperate to get into a relationship, than he can afford to wait for the right person.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:13 AM on August 2, 2006

Intimate Connections. Its magic, I assure you.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on August 2, 2006

It sounds like he's happy

...or he's so unhappy that he's hurling himself into various hobbies specifically so that he doesn't have to confront his various issues. I'm not saying this is the case, just that it could be.

In my view, before you can effectively take action you need to sort out why he's in this state. If he's genuinely happy, then leave him alone. If he isn't happy, then you'll have a better grip on what needs to be done.

For example: his rejecting people could be due to foolishly high standards, or he's just launching a preemptive strike because he "knows" they'll just reject him. Could be either one, and the solutions are very very different.
posted by aramaic at 9:07 AM on August 2, 2006

We know his faults, as k8t pointed out, but not his positive features. We know reasons he's ruled out women, but not what he'd want in a relationship. Maybe focusing on the positive side of both these things will help.
posted by amtho at 9:38 AM on August 2, 2006

On second thought, a laser-like focus on What He Wants would probably be a good next step.
posted by amtho at 9:42 AM on August 2, 2006

Seconding what ThePinkSuperhero said. Don't set up any female that you want to keep a good relationship with.
posted by k8t at 10:27 AM on August 2, 2006

rather than a blind date it might be better to start having group like dates with 5 or 6 people, some female and some male and doing something that interests him.. like all going to a driving range. preferably with girls that are interested in golf, or even just interested in LEARNING how to play golf, even if he just builds some friendships with girls it will help bring down that wall of shyness. i think before he should actually start dating girls he needs to learn how to be comfortable around them.

a couple other ideas.. a group (one that doesnt focus on established couples) outing to the beach/park and play some volleyball with mixed teams, frisbee competitions (or frisbee golf) with teams of a girl with a guy. i think they best idea is to be in a situation where he has to actually work along side of girls to progress at something he loves doing. throw in a picnic lunch and some other games and everyone should have fun and be up for that sort of thing.

whats important is that he finds that confidence, ive had friends that girls would follow around and the guy still never noticed or thought he would ever have a chance with and kept up his walls. and another thing.. he should never have to change the person he is, they may be harder to find but their are definitely girls out there that will want to do the same things he loves.. yes even fantasy football.
posted by trishthedish at 10:32 AM on August 2, 2006

Response by poster: Some replies to things that have been pointed out/asked:

+ He's not gay. At least the porn on his computer is not.

+ I agree the faults he finds in women are a cop-out because he's unsure of what to do next. I think one of the problems is he's literally looking to hit a home run on his first swing. Even if he doesn't like a particular girl 100%, seeing her a few times would be great practice. (Not talking about sex here, just relationship-building).

+ I know for a fact he does want to meet women, but he's obviously very sensitive about it so it has to be brought up delicately. I don't want the conversation to be "here's what's wrong with you."

+ Some good qualities: he's smart, good sense of humor, outgoing, genuinely nice and caring about other people. As mentioned above, he's looking for a serious relationship and not just a hook-up, so he's not a sleaze.
posted by b_thinky at 10:33 AM on August 2, 2006

Have him read "The Game" by Neil Strauss, or have him explore fastseduction. Only if he truly is looking for a girlfriend though, or if you really think he wants to learn but is too shy to seek help on his own. He needs to get out there and start getting rejected. He needs to start talking to women more and start viewing rejection less as an attack and more from a "What did I do wrong?" standpoint.
posted by thegmann at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2006

The blind date idea is a terrible one - he'll just nitpick again, and as others have said, you risk losing the female friend you set him up with.

I vote for expanding his social circle to include women (it sounds as if he doesn't spend any time with women at all, so it's no wonder he's awkward around them). But, since the subject is a sensitive one, don't push him towards doing this in an obvious way - is there some activity you and he could do together that would involve hanging out with women? I'm struggling to think of any mixed-gender sports... is he really not interested in anything else?

Have him read "The Game" by Neil Strauss

Ick, no, don't do that. Creepy.
posted by jack_mo at 11:45 AM on August 2, 2006

Stay the hell away from that fastseduction crap. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
posted by reklaw at 12:14 PM on August 2, 2006

There's nothing nasty about it, it's all just what any other guy does to attract women subconsciously, but broken down. So instead of saying to someone, hey, be confident, be yourself, which is not really very helpful, they can actually see the processes that take place and create attraction. Say what you will, but it works, and it allows for a much more level playing field, no pun intended. It's more about learning to like people than about manipulating them.
posted by thegmann at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2006

Are you a single guy? If so, you can declare that it's high time you hit the town as single&looking guys (group of 3+ preferable), and that he is part of this group because (a) you need a group to do it, and (b) he's single, and your friend, so he's damn well coming, and (c) you could all do with girlfriends, so he's damn well not going to sit back and let it all be about you.

If you are not a single guy (or if you are, it matters not), as has been said already, I'd put activities that involve/introduce female friends, collaborators, and activity partners, rather than potential dates, higher on the list to begin with - it sounds like he first needs to get more used to interacting with women.

Example: The memorably cute girl, Helen, at the dance class each week - she does a sexy thing with her hips during the dancing, but isn't very good at turning yet. She's apparently got a boyfriend, but is quite outgoing and happy to chat after class, or join you guys and some others from the class to get a bite to eat afterwards, she's funny and the conversation is often lively.

Thus she's attractive, but is not a potential date, yet might perhaps be a potential date in the future (but probably not), and is involved in regular friendly interaction / discussion with him. Put it all together and he has a "safe" way to learn to be himself and comfortable around girls he's interested in.

Either that, or he developes a hopeless crush and everything turns to custard. But with you at his side as his flawless navigator, nothing can wrong... maybe. :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:58 PM on August 2, 2006

Wondering if this is a family situation -- I know some Chinese still have arranged marriages, hard as this is for many of us to understand. Ask Drew if his parents have someone lined up for him, back on the mainland -- they may just be waiting for her to come of age, before putting her on the airplane.
posted by Rash at 2:17 PM on August 2, 2006

Thus she's attractive, but is not a potential date, yet might perhaps be a potential date in the future (but probably not), and is involved in regular friendly interaction / discussion with him. Put it all together and he has a "safe" way to learn to be himself and comfortable around girls he's interested in.

Oddly, something roughly similar to this is happening in my life right now; you're right: that "not on the market-ness" is a useful, well, tool in this situation.
posted by baylink at 3:47 PM on August 2, 2006

I think his parents would be satisfied with almost any living female.

On preview, apologies because this didn't register. Yes, I imagine at his age, they're a bit frantic about this situation.

Don't have a ready solution -- Drew sounds like he's love-shy.
posted by Rash at 4:17 PM on August 2, 2006

You could always hope that there's a woman who can see his potential and literally drags him passionately into a relationship. That does work.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 1:05 PM on August 8, 2006

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