Slow to boil in a microwave world
December 6, 2007 9:27 PM   Subscribe

I don't infatuate easily, and am very slow-to-warm-up with regard to romantic interests. What's a gal like me to do in the world of speed dating?

I'm a rather reserved person until you get to know me well. And often, when it comes to romance, I don't feel "that spark" too quickly. I've been known to spark for guys only after knowing them for months.

This has led me to much difficulty in the dating world. A lot of times there is pressure to "fish or cut bait" after three dates. The trouble with me is that it can take me a lot longer than that to really get to know someone and find out where my feelings lie. By that time the man in question has usually given up or just wants to remain friends.

I've also been accused of "leading men on" due to my slow-to-warm-upness. Honestly, I'm not a tease, I just need a little time.

So what's a woman like me to do in the dating world? I know the usual solution would be to try to make boyfriends out of friends, but due to my introversion I don't have a huge social circle (though I do have a few close, good friends) and I don't work in a place with loads of eligible over-thirty men. So the online, arranged-dating world is really my best bet. For the record, I'm over 30 so I'm thankfully past the callow twentysomething get-drunk-and-hook-up stage, but I still find a lot of men my age want to rush, rush, rush.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

"... So the online, arranged-dating world is really my best bet. ..."

IMHO, if there is any mechanism that encourages the speed dating, million-fish-in-the-ocean, let's-meet-for-a-look&see-drink-and-decide-before-wasting-any-time ethic, it's online dating. Why not get involved in some local service clubs, like Kiwanis, or other area volunteer opportunities? Some of the civic festivals in your area may depend on volunteer help, as they do in my city, and it's a good way to meet people, while serving your community.

A girl that is slow to warm up, it seems to me, could benefit from rubbing elbows.
posted by paulsc at 9:59 PM on December 6, 2007

I've got to say, you sound a bit like me. The shortest amount of time I've ever known someone before making a move was two months. The longest was a year or two. The only time I got involved with someone faster than that was when he made the first move β€” and even then, it took me months of slightly awkward hanging out after the first encounter to decide I wanted a real relationship with him.

So I feel like I ought to be qualified to address your situation. The thing is, I've never been successful at dating. I agree with you: taking a stranger out for dinner twice seems like a lousy way to figure out if you're compatible, or even interested.

What has worked for me is hanging out in certain kinds of social circles. It helps if they're large and loosely organized; it helps if they're mixed-sex (oddly, this is true for me even thought I'm bisexual); and it helps a lot if dating friends within the circle isn't taboo. Invariably, under these conditions, one of two things seems to happen. Either I'll find one of my friendships there is blossoming into a potential relationship, or I'll find that a more distant acquaintance there has caught my eye. One way or the other, it gives me a chance to develop my own interest without needing to, as you said, fish or cut bait.

So for instance, the woman I wound up marrying was a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend. We kept showing up at the same parties, and by the time we got involved I'd had over a year of watching her from a distance and was pretty damn sure she was wonderful.

I guess this is just a long-winded way of saying that paulsc is right, rubbing elbows might be the answer. For me, rubbing a certain kind of elbows β€” ones belonging to casual, gregarious people who wouldn't be offended if I took a shine to one of their friends β€” has worked best. Your elbage may vary.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:44 PM on December 6, 2007

I agree with paulsc. I'm in some ways your male equivalent, and I found that online dating was the worst possible match for me. At first it seemed great -- the measured call-and-response of email really works for me, sort of like writing letters does. But the pressure to make fast "fish or cut bait" decisions, and the sense that everyone is doing lots of parallel dating (because you don't want to wait until you know person A is a dud before contacting person B, right?), in the end didn't work well for me at all.

So I think you've given yourself the real answer: "try to make boyfriends out of friends." You do that by consciously expanding your social circle, pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone if you need to, and taking risks. (Risks with rejection and your dignity, not with your personal safety!) As a fairly introverted person, I am always surprised by how well it works to just walk up to someone and say "hi." And from "hi" you find common ground and from there perhaps dating is possible, and if it is clear that you don't want to date them perhaps they have a friend who is more your type.
posted by Forktine at 10:53 PM on December 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I am another male equivalent, and generally agree with all of the foregoing. Note also that it's easily possible you already are meeting slow-to-boil men, and they're just pretending to be interested in moving faster or are forcing themselves to move faster than they really want to.

...which sounds stupid, but I cannot tell you how many people kept telling me I had to move faster with women. Every time I went on a date, every single one of my male & female friends immediately wanted to know if I liked her. My saying "I don't know yet" was universally disparaged, followed by all manner of well-intentioned lecturing (about how once I become a friend then she'll never be attracted to me, about how women decide if you're a friend or a lover in the first X amount of time, about how going slow is a sign of indecision and weakness, if you don't kiss by Moment Z then she won't respect you, etc. etc. etc.). God help me if I went on a second or third date without trying to get physical.

You might think I'm kidding, but I'm not. It was really depressing.

The point being: if you say you're interested in going slow at the outset, you may find some guys are happy with that, even in the online dating world. Some of us just been conditioned to assume there's something wrong with us, as men, for being OK with that. Embarrassingly enough, I believed that for most of my life.
posted by aramaic at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2007

It sounds like you need to expand your social circle and start hanging out with more and more people in non-date settings.

Online dating is a horrible idea for someone like yourself. It really exaggerates the things you don't like about dating.
posted by chunking express at 6:58 AM on December 7, 2007

Seconding non-date settings. You make a friend...feelings grow... Find scaffolding structures that keep you hanging out with the same people over a longer period of time.

Oh, or go back to school. Grad school can be a cauldron of hanging out round-the-clock for two to three years. Or join a gym. Or a church. Or maybe a "scene" (are you a musician or artist?). I'm trying to think of ways you can still play the numbers, but in a slower way.
posted by salvia at 10:17 AM on December 7, 2007

To me, I think you already have it right. The super-fast world of dating these days is ridiculous - there is so much pressure that you can't possibly get to know someone well enough to determine if he or she is someone even worth getting closer to.

Don't change that about yourself. Instead, do what a lot of the posters above have said - continue to build your circle of friends and get to know people and potential partners that way. Every single relationship I've had started out as a friendship first, and I just can't imagine it any other way - what better way to find a compatible partner with mutual interests?

There have been lots of questions about how to increase circles of friends with lots of good answers, so I invite you to look through the AskMe archives. But really, don't change a fundamental part of you to try to fit better within a system that doesn't work very well anyway.
posted by widdershins at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2007

i feel for you, i'm the same way. relationships are cool, but dating is hell. i tried online dating, dated one woman for about a year who is still one of my closest friends, so i'd have to say it was worth it just for her. when people ask me why i'm a 52 year old heterosexual bachelor and i'm in a fanciful mood, i tell them that a devil imp cast its shadow over the bed when i was conceived. there may be nothing you can do, so just tend your own garden and let que sera, sera.
posted by bruce at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2007

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