The ultimate "Why am I single?" thread
November 1, 2007 11:22 PM   Subscribe

If you were single for a while and somehow got out of it, how did you?

I've been single for 3 years and consider myself a good catch. For the first two years of that period, I wasn't actively looking. I'd go to clubs every now and then, and I'd also keep up-to-date with my female friends, but nothing every materialized on both fronts. In the past year, I've really pushed myself hard onto the dating scene. I've gone with the idea to accept almost any theory of dating. And yet, I'm not getting any real traction. A lot of good first dates, but no good second dates. The girls that like me, I don't like back. The girls I like, don't like me back.

I'm curious about stories of people getting out of a long dry spell of singledom, and what they think got them out of it.
posted by philosophistry to Human Relations (39 answers total) 54 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I'm working my way out of my dry spell at the moment - mine lasted the majority of my twenties - I'm 29 now and my last serious GF was 7 years ago.

I'd say for probably my first 4-5 years I wasn't actively looking, and similar to you kept up with friends and made myself available, but didn't really find anyone special. The last couple of years I've been a little more pro-active about getting out and dating, but I haven't been trying too hard.

I think the key is not to push it too hard. Think about those girls that really, really want to date you - there's never the level of attraction / interest there for me - I think the mystery adds a little something to it. You need to try and be that way yourself - available but aloof.

Most of all, though, I think its good to realize that it's really not about you. Its something external to you. I've found that when it rains, it pours - I've got a number of great girls to choose from at the moment and my new problem is figuring out which one to pursue primarily. The metaphor extends beyond that, however: I don't think it was any change that I really made, so much as just waiting for the rain to come.

Your long dry spell will end, sometimes I guess it just takes a bit longer than you originally envisioned.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:34 PM on November 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I don't have any great advice, just a me too. I was single for 7 years, from 21-28, it ended when I met the right girl so all I can say is hang in there, don't try too hard just stay open to the world around you.
posted by Cosine at 12:43 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

patience, practice and analysis, ie why they didnt like you, why you didnt like them. If you can figure out the signs during the selection process the odds get better if you're only dating ones you're sure you do like for instance since your dating time is probably a limited commodity.
Even better but harder is identifying and ruling out beforehand ones that wouldnt like you. Its not an exact science but you can actively improve your chances
posted by browolf at 1:03 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Boy, dry spells. And as soon as you go find a girlfriend, it alters your pheremone balance somehow and all the women flock to you. And you think, where were all these women when I was dry?

It sounds like you're getting enough dates, so it might just be luck. Maybe your choosier now than you were last time you were single, since you have more experience about relationships and compatibility. Anyway, I wouldn't worry about yourself and whether or not you're a good catch. Whatever kind of catch you are, that's the catch you are and pimping it up will make things worse.

When I met my current girlfriend, I wasn't really interested in her romantically at first, I had the sense that was the kind of woman you can talk to about sex, which is quite valuable -- you know, having an ally on the other side. I started telling her all my stories about striking out with other girls and one-night-stands that went bizarrely awry, and we had a good laugh, and that's how we got to know each other better. So I guess I fell into my relationship backwards. Now I'm living with her.
posted by creasy boy at 1:04 AM on November 2, 2007

The girls I like, don't like me back.

Is your behaviour changing for the worse when you're keen on a girl? (Changing for the worse most importantly includes counter-intuitive things like: if she does something that normally you'd suggest she stop, or she is otherwise inconsiderate, you suck it up and say nothing because you want to be polite and not criticise her, which can make you come across as a spineless pushover instead of the "nice and polite" that you intended.)

In other words, there are sometimes things we only do when keen on someone that we assume are helping, when in fact, the changed behaviour is hurting things. Keep an eye out for those things. Yes, I could have phrased this as "just be yourself", but that's a bit vague. And overused :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:58 AM on November 2, 2007 [7 favorites]

For me it was introductions from mutual friends. Cliche I know.
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 AM on November 2, 2007

I hate to say it but you ever heard of that cocky and funny "seduction" technique? Well, it can really work. Just for kicks I tried it a couple of times in the past and it really can, if used correctly, make women respond a bit more positively.

The downside if you mess up with it you can hurt or piss off the girl, which can ruin an otherwise beautiful relationship. My recommendation is to use it in a modified fashion, i.e. insert it into a bit of your basic introductory flirting. Alternate cocky and funny with actual serious interactions. Just don't lay on the emotion right away, and try not to look to attracted to the person, as that is, unfortunately, something of a turn off.

Also, I've recommended it many times before, but you should really check out OkCupid. These days meeting girls online is totally cool, and has the advantage of meaning blind dates aren't really blind. Don't compliment the girls when you message them; just sound casual and comfortable like they're a future "old friend". After you've filled out a few hundred questions on OkCupid, you should start seeing women in the 80%+ match range. These are the girls you want to go for.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:11 AM on November 2, 2007

Whoops sorry about the crap link. Didn't realize it became so spammy. Anyway, a google search for cocky and funny will bring some interesting stuff up.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:14 AM on November 2, 2007

Best answer: My last relationship before the one I'm currently in ended badly. And with that bad-breakup came a two-year dating hiatus, though this was not by choice. Not to start with, at least. At first, right after the break-up, I wanted a new relationship so bad. I was probably on the rebound, or maybe as a straight, single guy some sex would just have been nice, so I sought a woman and/or relationship out, and found no-one.

As the months dragged on, I kept looking, with no success. I tried internet dating, and went on several dates, though none of them resulted in a relationship. Infact, if anything, the internet dating was a huge mistake as rejection after rejection destroyed what little was left of my ego.

And so, around 1.5 years after my breakup and with one rejection too many, I gave up. And by that I mean I literally decided not to date or to look. If I went to a party and saw a girl I may have thought I'd have a chance with under other circumstances, I didn't talk to her with the idea of pursuing a relationship. We just talked, and I moved on. I saw girls in the street and thought "she's hot" etc, but that was it; I simply stopped looking for a relationship.

All this extra time spent focusing on other things I started to learn how to meditate, and relax, and to like myself. My perception of myself was that I was unattractive, but who cares? I was at peace with how I looked, who I was, and didn't give a damn about what anyone thought about any of that.

And then I met the girl who would be my fiancee. At first I just talked to her with no intention of pursuing a relationship with her, as had been my MO when it came to women for the six months leading up to the day I met her. And we talked, and talked some more. And eventually I couldn't help but realise that this girl was something else. Hesitantly I decided to break my rule of no-dating. We went on a date.

And now, today, three years later, we're engaged. I proposed to her earlier this year and my life couldn't be better.

My advice then is to stop looking. And by that I mean really, really stop looking. Stop stressing over whether or not you'll ever find someone. As I said in a previous thread, there is a social pressure on people to find someone and copulate, but that is a constructed pressure and not one all should conform to.

So stop looking, find yourself, and get to know yourself. All of that is easier said than done, I grant you, but trust me, it's worth it. Because my experience is that once you've done that, you'll find that special someone, eventually, and your relationship with her will be all the healthier for all the hard yards you put into getting to know your own self.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:42 AM on November 2, 2007 [35 favorites]

The one adage I genuinely stick to: If you want to get laid, wear your oldest, filthiest, holiest underwear whenever you go out.
posted by Jofus at 4:55 AM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

+1 Effigy2000.

Stop looking.
posted by rachelpapers at 4:56 AM on November 2, 2007

Best answer: I agree with Effigy2000, this is perfect advice and works well. I did somewhat the same thing. I had a crappy relationship, and had ended it, but felt lonely and didn't know what to do.

I just dropped out of that whole mind set, went into short therapy to figure out why I made the choices I did.

One thing that I found hard, was to see that the people I wanted to date or sleep with initially were usually bad choices. A more mature person would pick someone less flashy, over the top, crazy, etc. Like if I was at a party, the person I immediately was attracted too was usually a bad choice. I knew that the right choice would be what I would consider the second tier, but actually those people were the better ones.

And it worked out for me. I ended up going out with someone I had known for a while, and although I thought they were attractive and cool, I had never really considered dating them before. I ended up marrying this person and we have been happy now for 11 years.
posted by chocolatetiara at 6:10 AM on November 2, 2007 [9 favorites]

Wow, there must be something in the water lately.

Really, there is no guarantee that you will ever have a significant relationship. There, I said it. There is no bill of rights that we are swaddled in at birth that guarantees that we will be pretty, or that we will be loved, or that we will have a good time. Many people who don't deserve it wind up in one long "satisfying" relationship after another, many who seem perfectly lovable never wind up finding anyone who really appreciates them. You might never have sex again.

I really, really think that in order to be functional HUMANS, each of us needs to confront and make peace with these possibilities. We need to have at least a modicum of control over the chattering voices in our minds that tell us what we want, or are entitled to, or can't live without, so that we can reduce them to a roar dull enough that it doesn't impede our daily quality of life, or even worse, our ability to put our best foot forward when we actually DO meet someone interesting.

Seriously, loneliness is the human condition. The years I was in a relationship didn't necessarily dispel my loneliness, in fact I felt more lonely and misunderstood at times than I had when I was single. You need to stop seeing a relationship as a destination, as a benchmark of personal growth. Train yourself to stop seeing women as targets, to stop comparing them all to each other, and to what you think you deserve (or worse, would settle for). Without these distractions, you may not be any happier, but you will be more likely to approach others as you really are (and as THEY really are).
posted by hermitosis at 6:15 AM on November 2, 2007 [113 favorites]

Sometimes I think "stop looking" might be better rephrased as "focus on yourself." Because, unfortunately, if you happen to work in a single-gender dominated field, or not live in an urban area where serendipity might bring you into contact with all kinds of people, not looking at all can result in, well, nothing happening.

So instead, I'd second the suggestion to look inward, take a step back and relax, like allkindsoftime and others wrote. I found, when I was single, that my best luck was always when I didn't care what the outcome was, and just did it in a "why, well the heck not, see what happens" sort of way. Sometimes playing a little mind-game with myself to stop from being ludicrously shy or cautious helped. I called in "What Would Antonio Banderas Do?"
Not in a sleazy player kinda-way, but just a casual best-self forward way.

But keep some feelers out there, because you never know what might happen.
posted by canine epigram at 6:18 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

Stop looking works for two reasons.

One, already mentioned, when you are looking, it's hard to meet a new girl without doing something stupid out of infatuation, excitement, hope or despair. If you let these emotions take control, they will keep the true and attractive you from showing through.

Second, if you spend all your time looking, it's easy to forget about organizing yourself a fulfilling life. Your life has to give you an opportunity to engage your passions before somebody else will recognize them. The girl in question will want to share your life because it is exciting and rich.

You may think having a girl in my life would bring me back my joy, my strength and make everything right, but nobody enters a relationship out of pity hoping to have a merry life-mate spring from the newly formed duo.

I've had good luck combining the attitude of stop looking, while looking very actively.

For instance, I was bringing myself to enter a new social circle every couple of months. I would ask a friend to introduce me to the other side of social circle. I volunteered for a technology charity. I did a few contracts for a café downtown where all sort of interesting people worked. I did all sorts of things that were at the same time interesting and social.
posted by gmarceau at 6:29 AM on November 2, 2007 [9 favorites]

The whole thing about women flocking to you once you are no longer single is a total cliché, but it has often been true for me. I think it is not so much that women are attracted to attached guys (although some certainly are), but rather that people are attracted to happy, confident people. Someone who is unhappy when single, and happy when in a relationship, is therefore going to look a lot more attractive when they are in a relationship.

The "so what?" in this is that you really should find a way to be, and to appear to be, happy and confident in your life now, rather than waiting until you are in a relationship to send those signals. This is part of the "stop looking" advice -- if you aren't looking, but are instead focusing on being happy in the place you are, you will look a lot more attractive than someone who gives off the scent of desperation and dissatisfaction.

Like a lot of us, I've been there, done that, though not for such long periods as some of the people responding. In almost every instance, I encountered a relationship by finding a way to be happy in my (single) life, while also being social. I tried online dating, but not only were a lot of the people I met reeking of desperation, it made me feel desperate. Every serious relationship I've had has come about through meeting a friend of a friend, or a friend of a friend of a friend. You meet, there is some hint of a connection, and then you have to take a risk (I mean, she could laugh in your face, or be an ax-murderer, who knows?) and put yourself out there and say "hey, how about dinner next Thursday?"

If you are "looking," but you aren't taking the risk of asking people you've only just met to go get coffee with you (or whatever floats your boat), I don't think you're really looking. And if you are "looking," but people can smell the desperation at fifty feet, or you are being too picky, or you are only trying to date people who aren't compatible with you, then you also aren't being serious about it. If what you are doing isn't working for you, stop doing it. Take a bit of time, think about things, find a way to be happy and confident, bump up your social life and start meeting more new people, and take some risks.

You are getting the first dates, so you clearly appear minimally acceptable -- but either you are going on dates with the wrong people (and those basic incompatibilities are becoming apparent early on) or you are behaving in ways that don't make the second dates happen. We aren't there, we don't know what you are doing, but I don't think that there is any argument that it is working well for you. I don't know if you need to relearn basic etiquette, or to learn to screen your dates better, or what. But somewhere in there, something needs to change, and only you can do that.
posted by Forktine at 6:41 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

You're a member of a self-selecting group that tends to stay single longer than others because you find being single most tolerable. The relationships you abandon (the ones where you don't like the other party as much as they like you) means that you didn't like them as much as you liked being single. Don't sweat this - it's actually a great place to be. You will find the one eventually who partnering up with makes being single not so attractive anymore, and go from there.
posted by vito90 at 6:45 AM on November 2, 2007 [16 favorites]

I had a relationship that ended horribly in 2006. My ex was needy, clingy, and had mental issues. She was horribly insecure. I had to break up with her for my own good. We officially broke up in November 2005, but didn't end all contact until February 2006.

I echo the fact that you shouldn't be actively looking for relationships. That doesn't mean don't be open to the possibility of a relationship. Just don't try to force a relationship to happen. If the time is right, then things fall into place.

A couple of months after my breakup, I was approached by a girl on MySpace, and we began e-mailing. We had awesome conversations, and I met her a couple of times. It didn't go anywhere because she was attracted to me and I really wasn't attracted to her romantically.

Then, around October of 2006, I met a girl who worked in my old boss's office. We struck up a rapport and the same thing happened. After we hung out a couple of times, she asked me if I was seeing anyone. Again, I wasn't ready for a relationship. So, I declined.

Fast forward to 2007. I was volunteering with a nonprofit and one of the intake volunteers and I began e-mailing. She was sweet and kind. We never had a lull in the conversations. I finally felt ready to break the year long drought. It was the right time. Now, we're engaged and looking forward to a long life together.

I think that the key that made me attractive to women is that I always remained true to myself. I never tried any of these dating theories or the like. I talked about things that interested me and that I was passionate about. I also realized that being single allowed me to pursue thing I wanted to pursue. I began writing, watched movies I'd always meant to watch, reconnected with old friends, etc. That comes across more than a seduction technique.

I also waited until it felt right. A lot of guys will dramatically lower their standards in the hopes of finding someone, anyone, to go out with them. That's a big mistake.

I know it's tough out there. This is a huge cliche, but I'll say it anyway: Do things you enjoy and be yourself. That will attract women to you. Get out there and volunteer, take a class. Get into situations where you can meet all sorts of people.

Good luck!
posted by reenum at 6:54 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I'm female, but I've had a dry spell or two as well, so I think this can apply to anyone.

The way I got over my most recent dry spell of 2 years and eventually met my fiancé is by finding a place where I belonged and meeting a lot of like-minded people there - in my case it was a part time job doing something I was really interested in. Before that I had tried and tried to meet guys I liked by going out drinking (they were all boring or jerks) and through internet dating (they were all weird or boring or jerks) and it just never worked.

It sounds horribly clichéd to tell you to pursue your interests and hobbies in order to meet people, but I really think it's one of the best ways. It can be anything, from finding your crowd at karaoke night at a local bar to volunteering at an animal shelter. (Volunteer work by the way is always heavily skewed toward there being more women so if you feel any altruistic leanings at all, it's a very good bet).

You can go very quickly from a dry spell to a "when it rains it pours" situation if you can just figure out where you're supposed to be.
posted by Jess the Mess at 7:12 AM on November 2, 2007 [6 favorites]

The girls that like me, I don't like back.

Perhaps you are being too picky and this if hurting you in the long run. In reality, the person you end up with has little resemblance to the person you find the most attractive or the person you fantasize yourself with. There's just so much more out there and being picky only limits you.
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:23 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I broke a 5 yr single streak when I fell in love with my best friend, we got engaged about a month ago. I guess acouple things to note about how things worked for me. At the time, I was working on accepting the fact that I may be single for the rest of my life and that that was OK. It was a little disappointing but certainly didn't mean I wouldn't have a fulfilling life. So I guess that's another vote for the "stop looking" camp.

And for me, I had to change my mindset a bit. I NEVER thought I'd be attracted to my fiancee because he wasn't my "type" on a very superficial level. I realized that my priorities were all screwed up and I didn't need to date someone who fit some ridiculous "Mr. Perfect" checklist I had made up. The thing that really mattered, like his kindness and our joy together became most important. The funny thing now, he's the sexiest, cutest thing I've ever laid my eyes on.

One of the best things about falling in love w/ a friend is they know you on a much more genuine level. This has been stated by others here for a reason. Both of you are not putting on airs to impress one another so you're able to be honest which starts things from a much realer place.

Somethings to think about. Good luck.
posted by lannanh at 7:32 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

"My advice then is to stop looking. And by that I mean really, really stop looking."

For what it's worth, I follow this advice while clubbing. As a result, everyone thinks I'm gay. YMMV :-)

Guy at a club... on the dancefloor... and not hitting on girls... that's unpossible!
posted by -harlequin- at 7:47 AM on November 2, 2007

My two cents - I'm recently out of a relationship so my method isn't tried and true, but it seems promising. I've been meeting people through a couple of professional organizations I've joined, through my school's alumni association and through And from your profile I see that you're in Austin, a city I would think would have lots of resources. The great thing about doing stuff with these organizations (whether socially, in a volunteer capacity or in an educational setting), is that you can get to know people without being in a dating environment.
posted by Ruby Doomsday at 8:41 AM on November 2, 2007

Uh, give the girls you don't like back a chance. I can't imagine why you wouldn't follow up on a "great first date" with a woman even if your first impression of her isn't every single thing that you want. I think "stop looking" is dumb advice but there's something to it: rather than desperately searching for that "oh-so-special somebody" there's a lot to be said for just looking to have a great time with somebody (or somebodies) whose company you enjoy and vice versa. So the next time you find yourself on a "not amazing!" first date with somebody who's not necessarily pushing all your buttons try to stop yourself from focusing on all the reasons you don't like them and instead pay some attention to some of their positive attributes. And heck, the simple fact that she likes you is itself a pretty strong positive as it indicates good taste on her part. If the problem here is that you're simply not dating the "right woman" then you may simply need to readjust your attitude.
posted by nixerman at 8:54 AM on November 2, 2007 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I moved to another city.
posted by streetdreams at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

philosophistry - If you are ever in Grand Rapids, Michigan drop me a line... I'll take you out ;-) (albeit this doesn't solve your problem and there is no guarantee that you would like me as well)

I will second those that said not to worry... When the right individual comes along, you will know.
posted by NotInTheBox at 10:32 AM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

The whole thing about women flocking to you once you are no longer single is a total cliché, but it has often been true for me. I think it is not so much that women are attracted to attached guys (although some certainly are), but rather that people are attracted to happy, confident people. Someone who is unhappy when single, and happy when in a relationship, is therefore going to look a lot more attractive when they are in a relationship.

It's both. If you walk into a club with a hot girl on your arm, other girls will think 'wow, he must be something special' to land her. It's called "social proof" -- in essence, the other girls are trusting the judgement of the girls you're with. And they're judging you on the company you keep. It's not so different from being introduced by a mutual friend -- other people's opinions of your awesomeness (implied by the fact that they hang out with you) are perceived as more trustworthy and valid than anything that you, yourself, might say. (Indeed, bragging on yourself -- even if it's 100% true -- is the best way to kill attraction.)

Conversely, put the same guy at the bar, drinking by himself, and even if he's a confident and friendly guy... well, there's an air of creepiness about him: why is he out by himself? does he not have friends? is he just trolling for sex? if so, can I believe a word he says? sure, he's kinda cute, but he doesn't have a girl? not even any friends?? must be a loser...! or ohnoes maybe a serial killar like I saw on FOX!!!!

The sucky thing is that if you're a decent, single guy, you'll have "lesser" girls throwing themselves at you, but you can't really date them because you know that: 1. you'll never develop deeper feelings for them, and 2. they will fall in love with you -- a recipe for (their) heartbreak. So if you soldier on this "ethical", lonely road, the more attractive girls will implicitly think you're a loser because you don't have a girlfriend. I mean, nobody chooses to be alone, right? Right?? So not only are you lonely in the short term, you're potentially hurting your chances with your future, hypothetical One True Love by not using some poor lovesick girl for short-term company. This really sucks, but I don't have a good solution for it.

I think most guys (and girls) are content to date somebody they're not particularly into, knowing full well that they'll dump them (or just cheat on them) when they find somebody better. That's the most common dating model, IMO, but it's too unethical for my tastes. But, being aware of this common behavior is helpful: I now have zero ethical problem with approaching women who "have a boyfriend", because I know there's a very good chance that she's just using him for company until she finds somebody better. (Me!) Of course, if they're obviously in love, I just smile a inside for them and turn off the mating dance -- being in love is sweet and wonderful, and who would want to sabotage that?

Tip: If you go out by yourself, that's okay, but you either have to start talking with strangers immediately, making them your "short-term friends", or you have to lie and tell the girl you're alone because you're "waiting for your friends". Being alone at a club is generally perceived to be predatory behavior, perhaps rightly so.
posted by LordSludge at 10:48 AM on November 2, 2007 [9 favorites]

I wanted to add that, at least to me, the worst advice you could have given me a couple of years ago is 'stop looking.' I think its easy to look back and say "Its always in the last place you look" and ignore the looking process itself.

Also, no one admits or cares to remember how awful looking for job when youre unemployed is.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:50 AM on November 2, 2007 [4 favorites]

Your story sounds a lot like mine, but from the opposite gender, at least up until recently. Tried various theories of dating, asked friends to set me up, really made an effort.

About a month ago I gave up on the whole thing, and I've been a lot happier. I find that it's much more rewarding and enjoyable to spend time on work or personal projects, visit with friends, or even do chores around the house than to waste a few hours getting to know a guy who a) I have a nice time with who never calls me again, or b) turns out to be an uninteresting stalker. All my attempts at dating, approaching the problem in different ways, have lead me to conclude that it is yet another thing that many people enjoy which I don't particularly care for.

If I end up meeting someone, that's great -- but spending time, money, and energy on this pursuit is like buying lottery tickets: fine if you enjoy it for what it is, but in most cases it's not going to lead to a big payoff.
posted by yohko at 11:08 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

I too am in the dry spell. A lot of my friends told me to quit looking as well. So I did, and nothing happened. Or occassionally, a guy might ask me out and I would turn him down because it wasn't instant chemistry. I realized that was a bad MO and probably self-destructive and I think it showed. Having matured a bit, I decided to do a more half-way approach that I call "Going with the flow." It consists of not trying but if I find myself in a conversation with someone that is interesting and/or makes me laugh (and that is my only criteria, aside from not giving me any creepy vibes) I will say yes if they ask me out, or I might take the initiative and leave him with a phone number, which I've learned guys LOVE. I see it as an attempt to broaden my social circle and not so much a date. This keeps me calm and relaxed while on the "date." Some have gone badly, some are okay, some are better than okay. I should note that I'm in a big city and meeting someone can be as simple as walking to the grocery store. But you're in a big city too so this is doable.

I guess I make it sound great and easy but really, so far none of these guys ended up being a lasting boyfriend but in the process I'm learning to hone in on what I like and what I don't like. I'd consider that progress. And I'll nth the theory that when it rains it pours. Every time I set up a date, 3 or 4 more guys magically line up. I think the fact that I can even get a date does enough to the ego to give that air of self-confidence and it shows.

Anyways, no real advice, just a me too.
posted by smeater44 at 11:16 AM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

Do anything that remove you from your day to day context - everyone has mentioned good things from meetup on.

The best relationships (and ultimately my superduper marriage) came from me putting myself in situations where I would meet people that I would otherwise never meet. I didn't know what to expect socially, so I was just myself.

I got lucky with the personals, but I hear that that has gotten kind of brutal lately. I met a whole slew of people I'd never have access to, or even talk to, had at least a cup of coffee with them, really understood what I wanted and what I didn't [very different from what I thought], had some good times, some horrible ones [including a sing along in an irish bar with a guy dressed in a black leather pirate outfit, including gauntlets, who I still see in the grocery store on occasion].

So: new situations, low expectations, have fun!
posted by beezy at 12:55 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I had this happen when I was living in a small city where everyone in my age range seemed to be already paired up or undesirable. I was single about a year.5 and tried some dating that I'd describe as very lackluster and disappointing. I was sort of getting used to being single, which had lots of benefits, but I eventually decided to try online dating. It seemed skeezy but I was getting tired of waiting around, and I didn't really expect much to come of it. I was on one site for a few weeks and met the guy I'm now married to (which was not my final goal at the outset!). So, if you haven't tried this, it's not a bad idea. You basically just get to "prescreen" anyone you'd date, assuming the people are being honest.
posted by wowbobwow at 2:20 PM on November 2, 2007 [2 favorites]

ps- there is nothing wrong with being picky. Contempt prior to investigation is one thing, but wanting certain characteristics/qualities in a mate is a good thing, IMHO.
posted by wowbobwow at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

So only ugly women refrain from poaching other women's boyfriend's, Lord Sludge? Gimme a break. That's kind of offensive to those of us who are women and don't look down on single guys just for being single.
posted by Jess the Mess at 4:42 PM on November 2, 2007

Best answer: i don't think there is really one answer to this. there are ppl who will say you will find someone when you aren't looking, and then there are ppl who tell you that you aren't making enough of an effort. in the end, i'm not entirely convinced there is anything you can do that really matters. meeting someone you click with is a complete crapshoot. it can happen at any time, in any situation. i think the only thing that matters is if you are open to it.

my longest relationship in the last seven years was for six months. other than that, i've sort of been a one-date wonder as well, with a number of breaks in between spurts of dating (the "not looking" vs "putting myself out there"). one day, during one of my breaks, a friend of mine had me check out someone who'd contacted her on match. i hadn't been on it in awhile so i did a search to kill some time. read the best profile that i'd ever seen on there, emailed him…and met the best guy ever.

so you never know.
posted by violetk at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2007 [3 favorites]

So only ugly women refrain from poaching other women's boyfriend's, Lord Sludge?

Where did I imply that? I certainly didn't mean to. (I'm curious where you inferred that, however.)

I meant to say that I, myself, don't have a problem with poaching some guy's girlfriend if I don't think she's that into him. (And if they are genuinely close, she won't be into me anyhow.) I used to be all "ohnoes, she's in a 'relationship' -- she's off-limits!" No longer.
posted by LordSludge at 6:11 PM on November 2, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Lots of good stuff here. I marked as best answers those who spoke from experience of dry spells of singledom to make it easier to find those responses. I believe that the other comments, though, are still valuable.
posted by philosophistry at 11:22 AM on November 3, 2007

I think that "stop looking" isn't enough if you're doing it with the intention of eventually finding someone. That's the zen koan paradox about this piece of advice -- it doesn't work if you want it to work.

Learn to love being single. Learn to love just being yourself. Learn to love the freedom it gives you.

Put another way -- you may not be ready for a relationship until you really don't care whether or not you have one.

Years ago, when I was in despair about not having found my significant other, a therapist said to me (in effect): "Maybe you're meant to be alone. Maybe who you are would be compromised by having a relationship. Maybe there are things you're supposed to do and accomplish that you couldn't do if you were in a relationship. Maybe a relationship would actually stand in the way of your happiness."

That moment was an epiphany -- I'd never considered the possibility that I might be whole, complete, content, and alone all at the same time.

Whether partnered or alone, my life has been infinitely more satisfying since then.
posted by treepour at 12:24 PM on November 3, 2007 [22 favorites]

Another voice in the "become alright with the idea of always being single." It took me a long, long, long time to become at peace with this and before I did I was never happy. I looked at people in relationships and was nothing but jealous even if I didn't care for the girl in any way. I was extremely bitter about it. It all came to a head several years ago when I got drunk and became an extraordinary asshole and acted out a lot of my pent up frustrations and destroyed a really great friendship.

It took a long time to put the pieces back together, but when I did I realized that my happiness is not predicated on other people making me happy. It's not all on me to be happy, but most of it is and I make the choice to be happy despite being single. It's liberating to be in this situation. Except for the crazy work hours that prevent me from being able to have a life.

So while I wouldn't wish anyone to be single forever, I at least hope you can learn to be satisfied with what you have. And if you find someone to share the rest of your life with, hey! Added bonus.
posted by Green With You at 6:07 PM on November 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

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