Generating attraction
March 3, 2008 7:35 PM   Subscribe

I am a 26-year old straight male, and I do not seem to inspire attraction by women. While I am generally liked and appreciated as a friend, I am consistently told by women that they are not interested in me romantically. What can I do to change this?

I posted previously about my lack of dating experience and my desire to begin dating. Since then, I have attempted asking out a number of women I know through various social groups. However, all of them have told me that they did not find me romantically interesting. While this set of attempts is a relatively small sample (n=3), I have consistently heard the same thing in the past when I have tried to date previously. I am concerned that I might be doing something wrong so that women are not seeing me as a potential romantic interest.

To be clear, I have a number of female friends, all of whom tell me that I am not ugly, do not act in bizarre ways, etc. I have a number of hobbies and activities, am a generally interesting person, and am a good friend. Given the length of time that I have been unsuccessful in dating, I am disinclined to attribute my difficulties to a series of "bad breaks," and advice along the lines of "it'll happen when the time is right" tends to be frustrating because I already feel extraordinarily behind socially.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (51 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Increase Aggression
Decrease sweetness
posted by Rubbstone at 7:44 PM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

I had a boyfriend once who had the same problem. Eventually he found me, but it took him a long time (he was older than you!). Find a way to make your sample size larger. He met me in a dance class, but admittedly it was the fourth one he had to take to finally meet me.
posted by melissam at 7:53 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's likely in the things you say. Don't try to be clever, just be normal
posted by markovich at 7:55 PM on March 3, 2008

First: stop putting yourself down. Second: stop dwelling on it. The minute you stop thinking about getting a girlfriend and having hot, sweaty sex with her, it will happen.
posted by parmanparman at 7:58 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think you should try online dating. In a perfect world, I think it would be cooler if everyone met lots of interesting, available people all the time and could get to know each other a bit first before things take a turn for the sexy... but we don't live in that world, my friend, and one of the things about online dating that I see as *kind* of a downside (the fact that you are On A Date when first you meet) would be a real plus for you. Once you schedule a meet up - you'll know that a girl saw a picture of you, and read some of what you wrote about your interests and so forth... and that *on that basis* she's interested in meeting you for what might become a romantic relationship. That's huge. And I think that walking into a situation like that might make you feel more confident than trying to *turn* a friendly acquaintance into a dating relationship. This might be easier for (inexperienced, not terribly confident) you, since, I think, making that transition is a more "advanced" social skill than starting with the shared knowledge that this is A Date.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:59 PM on March 3, 2008 [5 favorites]

I am concerned that I might be doing something wrong so that women are not seeing me as a potential romantic interest.

You cannot make a woman like you. If you're not doing something obviously wrong, it's almost always just very simple - you and these three women did not mesh romantically. There is no changing of minds, persuasion, or how they see you, or how you hope they see you. People sometimes click, and sometimes they don't.

Having grown up in a conservative religious culture, I had a late start dating too. And it's frustrating. And when you suddenly wake up and feel inspired to go out and manifest some changes, it can be a let down when you realize your expectations for dating and intimate social interactions don't turn out like novels or films or cooked up ideas. It's frustrating and disappointing and hard.

From one who's been there, it sort of looks like you're trying too hard. There's no formula to dating - when you act or behave or say certain things, there's no given that a girl will suddenly be interested in you. Really, the (good/bad) thing about dating is that it's all trial and error - but trial and error by totally being yourself and not caring about images you're letting off or how they see you, but trial an error in, sometimes, people just mesh. And sometimes (usually) they do not. And then kind of liberating when you're just you being you, images, signals, games aside, and someone likes you as is. Three is a very small number of tests, but understandably disappointing.
But you must be prepared that most of the time, it's not going to end up in a mutual interest.

(and are you genuinely very interested in these girls? or are you interested in "dating for the sake of dating" -- just something to consider. they might be nice, or cute, or interesting, but do you see them as potential girlfriends/partners? or are they there for you to use for experience in the dating game? not that there's something so horribly wrong with that, but something you should be aware of, to clarify your intentions in asking them out to begin with)
posted by jalebi at 8:02 PM on March 3, 2008 [4 favorites]

Concentrate on yourself not women. The rest will follow.
posted by unSane at 8:02 PM on March 3, 2008

Need way more information, but still suggest a makeover, guys I feel no matter how they look can compensate for a ton simply by dressing very well. Also, what do your guy friends tell you about your dating/flirting habits, women tend to be too nice.
posted by whoaali at 8:03 PM on March 3, 2008

First: don't get discouraged... it sounds like you're on track. Even though n=3 hasn't met with success, you've built up valuable experience (wasn't asking #3 easier than #1?).

Second: What kind of shape are you in? Maybe it's time to hit the gym. How's your grooming, posture, wardrobe? There's this whole world of things that women really notice to which geeks (myself included) are often totally oblivious. Can you enlist a female friend to advise you on these things?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:05 PM on March 3, 2008

Self confidence is key. Ask with the mindset that you have noting to lose.

Go to social gatherings, especially with your female friends. Meet new people, new women.

The whole 'It will happen when the time is right' scenario is only feasible if you put yourself in position for that opportunity to arise.

Practice talking to women. Start conversations when you get your coffee, when you go out to lunch, the bookstore, anywhere that you are comfortable being yourself.

A sense of humor also trumps just about any other quality women look for in men. I am sure that you have one, use it. If you can make a woman laugh, maybe ask to continue the conversation over lunch.

Again, just be confident in yourself, in the joke you are telling, and in as many situations with women as you can possibly put yourself in.
posted by clearly at 8:06 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Trust me, someone out there likes you (or has at some point). You're just clueless about what it looks like when someone is interested in you. You probably expect them by default to be uninterested. Remember please that girls are subtle creatures...even maddeningly so. We don't put ourselves out there - we don't grow up thinking we're going to have to chase down our mates the way that boys do. So we sit back and overthink every little detail and wait until the dude gets a clue. What do you imagine a girl being interested in you looks like? Is it her batting her eyes and saying "yoo-hoo loverboy?" Because it might just be her asking if you have the time and then telling you she likes your belt. Or the book you're reading. Or asking if you think it's going to rain.

If your friends who are girls aren't interested, ask them why and try to get their advice on what they think you need to work on - have them hang out with you and a girl you're interested in, or help you strike up a conversation with a random girl you think is cute. This way, they can give you a little critique of your "performance." One thing most girls (the ones I know...YGMV) absolutely LOVE is over-analyzing things (to the very death)! So get them to do the work for you. I've 'helped' a few friends this way and they've had nothing but thanks for me later (to my face anyway...heh). A big part of your problem might just be that you're feeling nervous and then you act visibly uncomfortable around girls you like. You might not even be aware of this behavior. Girls would notice it though. In fact, it sounds like they already are.

You say you're "not ugly" and that you're a good friend. But you're also admittedly not that experienced with girls and it probably shows - I've known a lot of dudes in your shoes and the first piece of advice I would offer is relax. Just chill out and treat girls like they're your buddies. In fact, just make them your buddies. Even if you want to get in their pants. Relax and the awkwardness will go away. If you're "behind socially" you're not going to catch up magically by having a girlfriend. You do it by getting to know more girls as people, learning to be comfortable around them and trying to avoid acting awkward or overly formal. There are a lot of girls who like nerds and find their quirkiness cute, but there is a line where someone's social ineptitude can get in the way. Try to practice striking up conversations with random strangers - male and female. After a while, it will feel more natural to talk to people randomly, and put less pressure on "making a good impression" when you meet a girl. You'll just say, "hey I like your bicycle helmet" or whatever.
posted by SassHat at 8:10 PM on March 3, 2008 [8 favorites]

Yes, n needs to be a lot larger than 3. In my experience it is a bit of a pyramid -- you meet lots and lots of women, you ask out some small percentage of those. Then a high percentage of those asking outs don't work -- they say no, they stand you up, you go on a date but she is a total dud, the first date is ok but the second is a total flop. So then you are down to a very small percentage that you "click" with, and even then lots won't work out -- life is complicated, things happen, the stars aren't aligned.

So you need to do one of two things: make the base of that pyramid really, really broad, or make your search extraordinarily focused. Internet dating can do both at once, assuming that you are living in a large metro area. But unfocused searching plus a very small base of women produces the sorts of results you are getting.

Especially if you are a tiny bit out of the mainstream, you need to actually work to get your n a lot higher. And not to stereotype, but if you take a MeFi username like "Philosphygeek," you are probably that tiny bit unique, which means that you will need to put a lot more effort into finding women who are into you than if you tend to take user names like "RichCorvetteDriver" or "FabulousHighSchoolJock," if you know what I mean. You are clearly not a 100% mainstream guy, so don't try to make yourself into someone you aren't... but also don't judge yourself by whether or not women who are looking for that mainstream kind of guy find you attractive.

The more I look at this question and your previous one, the more I want to suggest you try a combination of internet dating and making sure your social skills are up to par. If it takes professional help, or just reading a bunch of books, do whatever it takes to get those basic human interaction skills. A lot of us pick that stuff up in college -- you are just a couple of years behind where I was. The good thing is, once you learn it, it becomes part of who you are, part of a skill-set you will have for your entire life. But it is always a trial and error process -- no matter how smooth you are, someone will always figure out a way to throw you for a loop. Perfection is not the goal, just basic competence.
posted by Forktine at 8:14 PM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Don't be a schmuck. Or a jerk. Or an asshole. Or that guy who laughs like a backfiring Buick. Or the smooth mover. Or the duuuuude. Or the guy who has five beers when two are sufficient. Participate in social activities IRL or online that you enjoy, make some friends (male and female) and make sure they know your social status. If you're not a schmuck or a jerk or an asshole, your networks will expand, the word will get around, you'll have a lot of fun doing things you enjoy, and you will meet some decent matches along with some fun flings.

Don't target the crotch. People can sense desperation, and it's a turnoff.
Just have a good time while making more friends. That's it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:16 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a female nerd, a couple of things:

1) you may be a bit of a late bloomer, but you're not a freak or anything. There are lots of people out there your age with relatively little dating experience. You haven't met them because, er, if you'd met them, you'd both have dating experience! Heh.

2) something that stands out to me in both your previous questions is that while you're obviously articulate, you do come off as a bit distant/standoffish. You are allowed to use contractions, you know. I'm a fan of big words and obscure vocab myself, but phrases like "I am disinclined to attribute my difficulties to ______" come off as, well, more than a little pretentious outside of a term paper. This may not apply quite as much if you haven't and don't intend to try online dating, but I suspect that if you type like this you may also be a little prone to formalisms in real life.

Mind you, I'm not saying you should force yourself to talk in slang or otherwise be someone you're not; what I mean is that you should consider the possibility that you're giving off distancing cues without realizing it.

3) Ignore Rubbstone's advice. That whole trope about girls only wanting nice guys for friends and dating jerks is BS. Rather, women are attracted to confidence. Niceness and confidence is a huge, huge win, so try building on both. But be sincere; don't do it just to get someone's number or into their pants. Karmic reward, yadda yadda.

4) Although this is probably infuriating advice, you will probably wind up with someone interested as soon as you resolve to stop looking. Sorry, it's the way the world works.

Good luck!
posted by bettafish at 8:21 PM on March 3, 2008 [4 favorites]

I second all of the above, confidence ALWAYS wins. Be good to yourself, you've got to love yourself first before anyone else can love (or even like) you. Take care of your body and tune out the negative inner monologue. Let go of wanting sex or anticipating fucking up, just be in the moment, and practice talking/listening to women.

On a lighter note: There is no one answer or guide, but I've learned from the

Vice Magazine Guide to Girls

funny and quite accurate.

Good luck.
posted by limited slip at 8:22 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

I wonder if part of this is the fact that you're clearly asking these women out with romantic intentions, which can be too much pressure for both of you.

I'm a woman, and I often can't tell if I'm going to be romantically interested in someone until I get to know them. So if someone I don't know well is obviously asking me for a date, I'm likely to turn them down, because they clearly have romantic intentions already, while I have no idea if I'm going to develop any. But if they just want to do something casual and un-datelike, they have a much better chance, because then I have some confidence that their expectations aren't too high and they're just open to spending time with me. Then I get to know them better, and then (finally) I might decide that they're date material after all.

So it might help to simply invite a woman along to some low-key thing you were already planning to do (or can pretend you were planning to do), such as going to a museum or some other daytime, casual thing. Then listen a lot and try to relax, and don't put any romantic pressure on her.

For example, a man in whom I had no interest but enjoy talking to recently said he wanted to buy me a drink at an event that we were both planning to attend anyway. He made clear that he wanted to have a chance to talk more, so there was a hint of "date," but just a hint. At the event, when we got to talking more in depth, I realized he was more appealing than I had originally thought, because he showed that he's thoughtful and self-aware. So now he's on the radar. He hasn't applied the slightest bit of pressure, which adds to his appeal. Now it's my turn to buy him a drink or whatever.

I also agree with SassHat--I'm sure there have been women who have noticed you, but you haven't realized it. And for what it's worth, a Corvette driver or jock has no appeal at all to me or any of my women friends.
posted by PatoPata at 8:22 PM on March 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I am just a slight bit ahead of you datingwise, philosophygeek, and you might find my earlier askme useful in some way. As far as general observations:

Your sample is altogether too small. I've dated about one out of every ten women I've asked out. I know people who've done worse. It couldn't hurt to widen the pool. You're probably trying too hard because you're still so inexperienced, but that's perfectly normal. Probably the easiest time I had dating casually was when I was thinking least about it: put yourself in a position where meeting women becomes more commonplace, and start interacting with people more. (2nding SassHat)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:37 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

You cannot make people like you, but you can make yourself more likeable.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:01 PM on March 3, 2008

People in past post have gave some great advice. Work on yourself the rest will follow is good women want a complete male not a male that is missing something in his life. Dancing has great odds mostly women go there. Increase Aggression, Decrease Sweetness is very good is helpful with a certain amount of women. Best advice i can give you is stolen from Goerge Canstanza. You must do the opposite of what you been doing in order to get the sucess you always yearn for. Dont be afraid to fail, it only life you will get more then enough time for make up test later.
posted by Rolandkorn at 9:11 PM on March 3, 2008

I used to be in a similair boat to you (same age, no experience, etc) and just recently started to have some success. I'm gonna Nth the online dating recommendation. It's great because it greatly expands the pool of available partners, and you'll be able to avoid any initial nervousness you may have. Also, since you seem to be a fairly intelligent guy w/ good grammar you're already ahead of the curve in the online dating game.

To give you some idea of what to expect for numbers (take them with a grain of salt though). Online, about 1 in 10 women I wrote to wrote me back. I ended up actually meeting about 1 in 3 of those in person. Half of those I asked out again. Half of those I asked out for a 3rd date. So 3 is far too small of a sample size if you're anything like me.

Another thing to keep in mind is that since you're just starting the first one probably isn't going to work out. I found that once I stopped *expecting* things to go well (and even assumed that I'd have some unsmooth moments) then I was able to achieve dating zen and things started going well.

If you have any questions feel free to message me.
posted by hamhed at 9:17 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

How To Succeed with Women works.
posted by neuron at 9:26 PM on March 3, 2008

I'd like to highlight and expand on something seanmpuckett mentioned. Find something you enjoy doing, and put yourelf in social situations with other people who enjoy doing it. You will be more relaxed, more able to just talk to people without expectations.

If it weren't for the SAD, it would be a no-brainer, even if you're not looking to meet a possible future partner. Do more of the things you like to do with other people who like to do them. With SAD, it's hard. But it sounds like you've chosed to do something about it, and whatever you try is going to be hard.

For what it's worth, I, too am basically attractive but was putting my self in the position of "asking for a date" as opposed to having fun with people. It's that second thing that teaches you who you are, lets other people see who you are, and helps you to develop. You're not a finished work of art yet by any means.

If you're like I was, then you can't just "loosen up, or "have more confidence" just by deciding to do it. But if you put yourself in a place where you're naturally enjoying yourself, then you will inevitably loosen up, and you will actually be more confident because you'll be talking about things you have a genuine interest in and knowledge of.

Whatever you know/like/do, find a way to be with other people who know/like/do it. There are ALWAYS other people meeting to do it or discuss it, no matter what it is.
posted by lockedroomguy at 9:31 PM on March 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

To a certain extent, one of fave movies, Swingers (nsfw language), has a nice bit of advice which I'll paraphrase to fit here, you've got to quit caring, but the catch is, you've got to really stop caring. You'll put off a vibe thing that is irresistible, because: you. don't. care.
conversely you can get a lady friend to 'pretend' date you, this often makes other women interested in what they may be missing out on.
This is not to denigrate women, most men are pigs, lets face it.
Also, having friendships is a good thing, when these develop into romance, as the often do, it's way better than some random club hookup.
I speak from experience, but no vast experiences, I'm not a daddy mac or anything here, obviously. But just being you (like you are with yr beer buddies, except hold the farts) and being a bit aloof yet mysteriously often works.
common sense tells me to not post this.
posted by dawson at 9:59 PM on March 3, 2008

What can I do to change this?

Keep asking.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:21 PM on March 3, 2008

If you're "behind socially" you're not going to catch up magically by having a girlfriend.

Couldn't agree more. When I finally met my girlfriend, I think my social skills actually got worse. I just got too used to hanging around her and not having to deal with strangers. For a socially anxious person such as myself, it's really easy just to end up socializing with someone you feel comfortable with, like your girlfriend, and blocking off the rest of the world.

philosophygeek, people have already given you tons of great advice, but I just wanted to say I know how you feel. People told me the same things - "it happens when you least expect it", "stop caring", etc. and it all seemed like bull and I figured I was an exception because of my social anxiety and other problems - after all, I'd never been on a single date, not even any puppy love kind of thing in school! But the weird thing is, everything ended up exactly like they said it would. I gave up for a while, threw myself into studying foreign languages, went to study abroad, planned a really cool weekend trip, and invited a nice female classmate to come along - and it just happened! Of course, who knows what it really is - maybe it's like the old myth about hairs growing in thicker after shaving. The hairs would have ended up growing in thicker regardless if you shaved or not - give it enough time and it'll work out regardless of what you do.

Also, I think appearance is more important than people might want you to believe. Back in those desperate days, I had really bad hair, clothes, glasses, etc. yet all of my friends told me I looked fine. I'm not exactly a hunk now, but you'd be surprised how much a change of hairstyle and a new wardrobe can do for your self-confidence, at least. Women actually do notice shoes and things like that. I found the most honest advice by posting a picture of myself anonymously on a forum and asking people what they thought - of course, some people were unnecessarily harsh, but it was helpful.
posted by pravit at 10:26 PM on March 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

I think a lot of guys who are unsuccessful at love (I was one of them) take the entire dating thing way too seriously. First dates should be about having fun first, romance second. Ah, the wisdom of years. I'm now married and in my mid-thirties, and the whole dating thing seems so much easier now (in concept).

Before worrying about getting laid or starting a long-term relationship, it's important to learn how to make a woman laugh, and make her want to call you. Learn how to have a pleasant conversation with women, always keeping in mind that you want to find out the colour of her underwear.

Shoulder rubs are out. If you've never kissed but you've given a woman a shoulder rub or foot massage, it's all over, baby. But, if she asks for one and you withhold or flirt (what's in it for me?) then it's game on.

Personally, I don't see how two single straight people of the opposite sex can ever be friends. You can be friends with your best friend's girlfriend, but you can't be friends with that girl you met at a party.

If you're aggressive, as someone suggested above, always be a gentleman. The last thing some sweet girl wants is a stalker or asshole type. Leave them laughing (or crying) but never nervous.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:29 PM on March 3, 2008 [2 favorites]

Also, you have probably already heard of "speed seduction" and the like, but if you are as socially awkward as I was, it will backfire horribly. Trust me on this one. Some of their advice about confidence, not putting women on pedestals, etc. is helpful but the rest of it only works if you have a general level of social competency the writers are assuming you have.
posted by pravit at 10:35 PM on March 3, 2008

I found out that people I got to know and became friends with were impossible to approach romantically. Now, that's not true for everyone but it sounds like it is true for you.

I also recommend that you go for an online dating site. Why? Because you will be meeting with people who want to go on dates, who want to start something romantic. So, you don't have to wonder whether they are interested or not, they will be interested. Be a bit more aggressive on the online dating, this is expected. It's more important to come across as friendly, sorta smart, a bit funny. Don't press it, don't overdo it.

When you meet someone, think relaxed. Think meeting someone who is not intimidating but is not someone who will think of you "as a brother" or "as a friend". Try to get to know this person on the date. Ask questions instead of talking about yourself.

OkCupid is great because it automatically steers you towards people who will be compatible with you. Then, just choose the profiles of the girls who: a) seem attractive to you and b) suggest that they might be interested in dating. Contact these girls. Best of luck!
posted by Deathalicious at 12:25 AM on March 4, 2008

Wow, that Ladder Theory stuff is amazingly offensive to both genders. LOL, girls are lying manipulators and guys are pigs, zomg!
posted by bettafish at 12:33 AM on March 4, 2008

To be clear, I have a number of female friends, all of whom tell me that I am not ugly, do not act in bizarre ways, etc. I have a number of hobbies and activities, am a generally interesting person, and am a good friend.

Seriously, for as long as you describe yourself like this - for as long as it's possible to describe yourself like this - you're going to have problems. These attributes you list are not in themselves attractive. Women/people do not get excited merely by the absence of negative qualities - not ugly, not bizarre, generally interesting etc. Eventually you'll get a girlfriend anyway because there are plenty of women as desparate/lonely as you are and you'll both settle for a kind of cosy mediocrity. But if you want anything more fulfilling you're going to have to think about coming up with some reasons why going out with you would not just be bearable but actually desirable. You sound a long way from that.
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:56 AM on March 4, 2008 [6 favorites]

Please don't take offense if this doesn't apply to you, but... in nearly every case I've encountered of a sweet/nerdy/socially awkward guy complaining about how girls only want to be friends, it turned out that the guy was spending all his time mooning around over high-maintenance beauty queens and cooler-than-thou super-hot hipster chicks while completely ignoring the sweet/nerdy/socially awkward girls he could actually be happy with.
posted by Wroksie at 3:00 AM on March 4, 2008 [16 favorites]

Confidence. I am pretty sure that this is it and all the rest is just gravy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:06 AM on March 4, 2008

(n=3) is WAY TOO SMALL. philosophygeek, I'm a successful, attractive*, outgoing man in his 40s, and I would think nothing of being turned for dates down three times in a row by women. Nor being accepted three times in a row.

(* according to many hetero women, who know better than I)


Some days chickens, some days feathers. Or, less glibly, some days you've got everything going for you, and then other times you can enter into a funky period where your attitude, outlook, nervousness, or choice of dates is just off, somehow.
posted by IAmBroom at 5:39 AM on March 4, 2008

Go out with your best female friend. To bars and clubs. Stand around. Chat. Have fun. Get a (tiny) bit tipsy and approach a few women, with your friend in tow. Here's an easy cover -- you walk up and say "What kind of shoes are you wearing?" And the girl will give you a kinda blank look before she answers. And then your friend walks up just as you're saying "My friend, oh, Hi [name insert]!, Yeah, she's really shy and she was admiring your shoes so I had to come over here and ask. But now she's here. Yeah I told you there were [brand]!" Done and done.

You've paid the woman a nice compliment (but not a creepy one), you've shown that you're not weird, because you have a female friend who is in to shoes, you've shown this girl that your friend is not your girlfriend (probably, she might think you're swingers I guess), and you've already started some introductions and now the girls have something to chat about for a few minutes.

P.S. - I've never done this. And YMMV. The first few times will be hard. You just gotta start putting yourself out there. There will definitely be some bad moments, but probably lots of good and funny ones too. At the very worst, you and your female friend will have lots to laugh about, and she might even be able to critique your "game."
posted by zpousman at 5:55 AM on March 4, 2008

Just relax and be yourself. Contrived approaches like the one zpousman has described are cute and might work, but if you end up having a relationship with someone you "picked up" that way, she might feel misled or decieved when she finds out it was all an act (and she will find out eventually.)

Same thing with wearing a fedora. Unless you love wearing fedoras, don't do this. You will look like a dickweed.

Bottom line is don't do things specifically in an attempt to make women fall for you that you would not otherwise do. Changing up your appearance could work wonderfully if you are just cleaning up or modifying your own tastes as appropriate, or highlighting certain aspects that are you; adopting certain looks or appearances solely because you think it might appeal to someone else seems awful to me in that it is not genuine.

Something you do that one women hates is something that another woman will love, so you might as well act naturally. And anyone who cares about anything more than how hot you are (or aren't) will be able to tell if you're faking.

So relax, be your wonderful self, and keep approaching women until you find one willing to actually get to know your wonderful self. Be mindful of timing--timing is the one enduring element that made or broke any romantic involvements I've had.

And if nothing else, stand up straight. Posture is important for lots of things.
posted by Polychrome at 7:15 AM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the suggestions thus far. Given some of the comments, I should clarify that the n=3 sample comes from the time since I posted my previous question. I realize this is a small sample, and the only reason I bring up my concerns now is because the comments I received from that sample fall into a pattern that I have heard in the past. Overall, the population of date-attempts is around n=30, and after hearing the "not attracted to you" line repeatedly I was concerned that I might be doing something incorrectly.

A number of people have suggested not actively looking or not looking explicitly for someone in a romantic way. I would be interested in hearing more about how to move to the romantic level if the relationship does not start in that context, since all the couples I know just hit it off right away.
posted by philosophygeek at 7:32 AM on March 4, 2008

Philosophygeek, I'm going to generalize and say that most romantic relationships start either (a) shortly after the people become friends, or (b) after two acquaintances get to know each other better. At least that's mostly the way things have been with my friends and me.

If you're looking to turn established friendships into relationships it probably won't work very well unless you've secretly been crushing on each other for a while and finally figure it out. I think the point of what everyone is trying to say is that if you go out looking specifically to meet a romantic partner, you will put too much pressure on everything and probably come off desperate.

Just go out and look to make friendships. A LOT of romantic relationships come from "new friends." Keep the old ones you have as friends, because they're pretty damn hard to come by.
posted by PFL at 8:50 AM on March 4, 2008

I would be interested in hearing more about how to move to the romantic level if the relationship does not start in that context, since all the couples I know just hit it off right away.

You and she will both know if you want the relationship to become romantic- probably within 10 milliseconds of meeting. However, it is impossible to know what the other person is thinking.

One approach is to simply ask "Would you like to go out for meal/other-activity, just the two of us?" That would probably work fine- but it's not terribly romantic. What you really want to do is Flirt. Send signals. Flirt some more. Let this go on for a little while. When the timing is perfect, commence with Stage 2 of your Master Plan. She'll be like "Yes, I'd love to go meal/other-activity! I thought you'd never ask!" WIN.
posted by proj08 at 8:57 AM on March 4, 2008

23skidoo, I may have misinterpreted, but I think the point of that excercise is just to practice starting conversations, without expecting anything else at all from it. It's basically social skills roleplay thing, except the stranger doesn't know that. It seems pretty harmless though, so that's not much of a problem. It gives you something to say to any girl, without the pressure of having to worry about being awkward, etc. as the conversation continues. It's actually pretty brilliant I think. Yes I'm serious. In addition to getting practice starting a conversation, you get practice saying something kind of weird, and getting used to reactions to that, while giving you the chance to explain it away when your friend approaches.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 9:35 AM on March 4, 2008

Reading these questions and your responses, I do worry a bit that you might be like this guy I kind of know. He is the sweetest, nicest guy in the world, smart, has a great job, a house, amazing finances, a cat -- all the things you would want in a partner. However, he is just painfully socially awkward, and is having a lot of trouble finding romance because of it. He is fixating on "I want a date," and someone must have given him the same kind of advice that I've given here (increase your n), so he's going to every woman he meets through friends, activities, social groups, etc, and asking them out. But because he is not doing the necessary pre-screening of candidates (hmm, is she someone I could really get along with? Is she flirting with me? Is she single?), and he isn't socially adept enough to ask these women out in a comfortable, easy way, he has caused a lot of awkwardness and discomfort. Some of the women feel harassed, others feel insulted that they were being asked not because of who they were but rather just because they were a woman that he had met.

And even when he has dated women, things fell apart because his lack of social ability meant that they had to do all the "work" of the relationship. It's sort of like that little repetitive joke that people always post on MeFi -- 1. idea, 2. ???, 3. Profit!!!!! He has 1. go on dates, 2. ??????, 3. be in a relationship, but the question marks are where the important part is missing. Internet dating in particular can serve as the bridge to get past step #1, but step #2 comes down to you figuring things out.

Lastly, do you have some friends who could play "Queer Eye for the Geek Guy" with you? (They don't really need to be gay -- just people who have good fashion sense and will take you shopping and introduce you to their hairstylist and give you productive feedback.) It is shocking how much difference the simplest of makeovers can produce in a person. Don't let them try to transform you into something you aren't, but anyone can fall into a rut where the way they are dressing, taking care of themselves, and carrying themselves does not match who they actually are. Especially if you are still mostly wearing the same kinds of clothes as you did in your teens or early twenties, and if random strangers are not stopping you to compliment you on your hair and clothes, sign yourself up for a makeover. To be confident, you have to first look and act confident.
posted by Forktine at 10:10 AM on March 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

I think Forktine is really onto something. Being in law school, aka geek mecca, there are more than a few guys I am friends with who have very awkwardly pursued me and every other single girl they know. It is very obvious when a guy obviously just wants a girlfriend and if you fit the minimum qualifications, i.e. girl, cute enough, single, well you're in. No one wants to be asked out just because a guy really really really wants a girlfriend, you need to form some sort of personal connection before asking a girl out, especially if you tend to be towards the socially awkward/inexperienced side of the spectrum. Being asked out because a guy is (and please try to not take offense by this) a little desperate is kind of insulting. No one wants to be dated because the guy didn't have any other options. Also, word gets around if you are pursuing every girl you meet, girls like to feel special. If you want to go for volume use the internet, but as far as asking out girls in your social circle, I would set your target on one girl at a time. Girls talk. Assume they know everything, assume they know things about you, even you don't know. So if you ask a girl out to a movie on Saturday and she says no, I wouldn't go running to girl #2 to ask her, she's going to know she was your second choice and not be too impressed.
posted by whoaali at 11:11 AM on March 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

Dude, ask another question when n=50.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on March 4, 2008

Don't do this. She's going to think you're gay.

I must agree. Except for the rare fetishist, it's only women who care about shoes.
posted by Rash at 2:20 PM on March 4, 2008

SassHat is *so* on the money that this thread could have been closed then & there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:29 PM on March 4, 2008

Research phase. Your reading list: Desmond Morris, The Human Zoo, The Naked Ape. Neil Strauss, The Game (read it without taking it seriously). Since you're twenty-six, your target audience is probably gals ranging from nineteen to twenty-four, right? Study your demographic. Are you hanging out in clubs? Figure out who these club-going women are. You might find you may not even want them once you get a better grasp of the situation and instead turn to more studious gals. Find out what they say they want in a guy, then observe with a clinical eye the men they actually select.

Work phase. Get some new clothes. No, really. Go to the mall and blow some money on clothes at a semi-upscale shop where the people attending you are not teens who are there until they can find something better. I hate to say it, but my three best outfits were picked out by middle-aged gay men, with ties for second place going to an elderly woman with a sharp eye and an older gent who seemed to be a bit seedy. In other words, find someone who cares about clothes. Tip them for brutal honesty. Oh, and you'll have to wear them out and about. Not too often, just enough that people see you differently.

Similarly, visit a dentist, get a sharp haircut, some good shoes, and work out a bit. Looks are important, but showing that you care about your grooming and body is more important. Take dancing lessons. Do some Toastmaster. Other public, social situations where you have to interact without being so laser-focused on the mating game.

Attitude phase. As others have mentioned: stop caring so much. No, love is not a magical butterfly which will land on your shoulder when you stop trying. It's more that desperation is the garlic of romance.

I'll relate some anecdotes (which is not the singular of "data," but serve as points from which you might extrapolate) during which I received a great deal of positive attention from women. 1) Post eye surgery, went in to a favorite restaurant, kept my sunglasses on so as to not traumatize people with how I looked. My lack of eye contact and less than usually bubbly nature somehow resulted in a number of gals who decided to come sit at my table while I stared off through a drug haze.

2) Was in some pain from muscle strain, dragged to a party by friends, spent the entire time lightly snarking rather than chatting up girls - end result, taken home by an unfamiliar woman who later confessed that she was very curious as to whether or not I'd be that mean alone.

3) Was on a mission to have an angry chat with someone and grumpily ignored someone over whom I had been, well, fawning. This ended up with the gal in question clinging to me for a week afterwards.

Overly nice guys finish last. There's a balance between adoring doormat and brutal psycho. Too nice guys aren't a challenge, and they must have no life. I'm told women grow out of this kind of thinking, the same way men aren't all "boobies!" once they get past thirty. I'm not sure how much of this is hardwired and how much of it is just media-driven paranoid "too much attention equals guy who wants to skin me and wear my face like a mask as he does his little kooky dance."

Finally, never ask women out on a date as the "first social event." Instead, you're doing a thing. Maybe she'd like to come along to that thing. Maybe you have friends going, maybe not. You'll be doing that thing whether or not she'll meet you there. A great example is a concert by a local band, one you actually enjoy. You're going to go to that concert. She'll like them. Don't give her a CD, do say "they have a myspace page if you wanna hear." Next time you see her, mention that the concert is coming up as the very last thing you say, as if you almost forgot. The advantages are numerous: you're not spooking her with a head-on approach. It's public. It's social. It lets her know that you have something going on in your life besides trying to impress women.

I'll repeat that: have something going on in your life besides trying to find a girlfriend.
posted by adipocere at 6:16 PM on March 4, 2008 [9 favorites]

Here's a simple experiment -- can't hurt, might help. Your methods so far have led to consistent "you're nice but no thanks" answers, so just change your methods for a while and see what works by trial and error. If you've been asking girls you know well, ask girls you've only recently met. If you've been falling head-over-heels and getting too nervous to be cool, try asking out a girl you're not very interested in -- it's good practice, and she might turn out to be a good catch after all. If you've been hanging out at the cafe, try a concert or an art gallery. If you hit the gym regularly, take a week and go jogging through campus instead.

And then, if you want, go back to your old habits. You'll have tried different tactics and interacted with people you otherwise wouldn't have. It's never easy to leave your comfort zone but it's always worth it, and you'll gain more confidence in those old habits as well as the new ones.

(not to discount those above who said: enjoy your life, be a cool person and let it happen. it will.)
posted by Chris4d at 10:44 PM on March 4, 2008

i know a lot of guys who are hopelessly attracted to women who aren't attracted to their type, and completely ignore those who swoon. might be something to consider.

for example, some women do throw themselves at tough dumb guys with IROCs. if you're a librarian and you dig those women, dude, you're shit outta luck.
posted by klanawa at 10:11 AM on March 5, 2008

One thing that has been mentioned in this thread that I think bears repeating is that you need to make sure you're putting yourself out there. It's hard to find new people if you stick to your work and your home. Bars, coffeehouses, concerts and other live entertainment, volunteer work, etc are all good places not just to see people but also be seen. I met my last girlfriend at the bar trivia night I ran, and the current one at a live band karaoke night. If I'd been at home watching TV, that couldn't have happened.
posted by jtron at 7:10 PM on March 5, 2008

Get out more.

I've never had any success with the online dating thing -- in fact, the only people I know who have ever had success with the online dating thing have been women. Obviously, that means at least as many men must have done so, but the m-f ratio in online dating is, frankly, horrible.

Here's what I've had success with, over and over again: meeting friends-of-friends. It's all about the strength of weak ties (which is also the title of a massively important sociology article by granovetter). The more people you know, who know other people and introduce you to them, the more your dating pool expands, and in comfortable, non-artificial, settings where the women know you're not a freakbag (because their friends are also your friends).

Also, focus on your strengths. That is, go where women who like the things that you are are likely to hang out, and then display those things that you are. Which is highly vague, I know, but, well, I don't know your strengths.
posted by paultopia at 6:48 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

See also, everything sasshat said.
posted by paultopia at 6:48 PM on October 18, 2008

Also, also, also,

A number of people have suggested not actively looking or not looking explicitly for someone in a romantic way. I would be interested in hearing more about how to move to the romantic level if the relationship does not start in that context, since all the couples I know just hit it off right away.

The idea here is that actively looking --> desperation --> the relationship does not start in that context, because the relationship doesn't start.

Not actively looking --> sparks can still happen, but you'll actually notice them because you're not asking out women you're not really into, plus don't look desperate so they'll happen --> when sparks happen, relationship starts in that context.
posted by paultopia at 6:57 PM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

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