How does a very good man meet a very good woman?
June 24, 2008 6:24 AM   Subscribe

How does a very good man meet a very good woman?

I am a slightly overweight, fairly good-looking but not stunning college drop-out with limited future earning potential. My best friend is in incredible shape, has a doctorate in a technical field, is a talented poet (for real, no embarrassing or childish doggerel), and a sweet and charitable guy, with an amazing future ahead of him. We are both in our late twenties, and we live in the southwest U.S.

So why is it easy for me to establish meaningful long-term romantic relationships with interesting, beautiful, intelligent women, and he just can't seem to meet anyone?

He's been in long-term relationships before, and I've observed him to be a generous, loving partner - but lately things have been bleak for him. I cannot figure out why, and I have been thinking about this for literally years before I decided the hell with it, I'm asking MeFi. I know you don't know him, and maybe you're ill-equipped to answer such a nebulous question, but where are the smart, fun, kind, interesting women whom I can't imagine not being crazy about this guy? What can I do to help him?

You can reach me at if you have any questions. Thanks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
A new study shows that bad guys really do get more girls.
posted by Autarky at 6:37 AM on June 24, 2008

I am a slightly overweight, fairly good-looking but not stunning college drop-out with limited future earning potential.

Because you are very comfortable with exactly who you are. He's either hit a dry spell or has a few things to work out. Either way, the key thing to remember is it is just a matter of time and to keep at it.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:37 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Frankly, I don't even know where to begin. He sounds great on paper. But that's not real life, and most women fall in love with a man based on *who* he is, not *what* he is. I've known plenty of men with similar-sounding backgrounds who in person were just... ehh. Either too awkward talking to women, or too eager; too obviously needy, or gave off an air of not needing anyone at all. It's impossible to tell from your description what it could be, but it is something, and because you're his (male) friend you probably will never see it.

Find a woman who has been on a date with him, or a long-term female platonic friend of his, and ask her why it didn't work out.

Or, he could do the asking himself. That might be problem #1.
posted by methylsalicylate at 6:40 AM on June 24, 2008 [3 favorites]

In complete and total seriousness, though, this is not a question that's answerable in any authoritative -- perhaps even useful -- way. A collection of traits does not a person make. We don't know this guy...maybe he's a truly awesome dude but never, ever leaves the house and hence meets no one, or maybe he's only attracted to women who are wildly inappropriate for him so it never goes anywhere, or maybe he's secretly gay and has been in a successful relationship for years but doesn't want to tell you because he thinks it might freak you out. Who knows?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:44 AM on June 24, 2008

This is not a rhetorical response:

It might be reasons we don't know about; it really might simply be very bad luck. (I like to claim the latter for myself).

Or we might not know. If anyone could actually provide a definitive answer to "How does/why doesn't a person of X qualities meet teh right mate?" they'd be running a very, very successful dating service. For that matter, that's what eHarmony and (in another sense) okcupid (and perhaps others I don't know of) are explicitly doing - though their answers, I fear, are less in the form of a helpful explanation and more in mathematical algorithms.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:54 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

He sounds like a total overachiever, and I bet his poetry sucks to boot.

No seriously, this is nearly impossible to say. Maybe he's trying too hard. Maybe he should quit looking for beautiful, intelligent, interesting women, and just try to meet whoever will take him. Maybe he's not trying hard enough. Maybe he smells bad. Maybe you're a crap matchmaker ;)

If you really want to help, just take him places where there are women. Join a screenprinting class. Be his wingman, and not too too charming.
posted by shownomercy at 7:27 AM on June 24, 2008

My best friend is in incredible shape, has a doctorate in a technical field, is a talented poet (for real, no embarrassing or childish doggerel), and a sweet and charitable guy, with an amazing future ahead of him

It's somene's personality that attracts people, not their doctorate or future (at least, most people with genuine intentions).
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 7:29 AM on June 24, 2008

He's not getting chicks because he's not really trying.

Are you sure he really wants to meet someone? Being single is as good a lifestyle choice as any. If he's as good looking as you say women will approach him in various situations. By just watching him in those situations you should be able to get a good answer. No wait. You never said he was good looking. Maybe the dude is just ugly.
posted by uandt at 8:01 AM on June 24, 2008

He's overachiever-y enough to seem inaccessible... so anyone with the least bit of insecurity (i.e., almost everyone at that age) keeps their distance. He will have to work at least twice as hard as you to convince anyone that he is genuinely interested in them.

You are accessible, so you interact freely with many more people. More opportunities lead to more positive results.

There's no real mystery here.
posted by Pufferish at 8:22 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

Is he having trouble getting a woman, or are you just mystified by his lack of effort? Maybe dude's just doin' his own thing, and there ain't no reason for you to worry about him.

If he's really stumped, and really wants to know if he's a total herb or something, encourage him to pay five bucks and ask us himself.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:55 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

My best friend is ... a sweet and charitable guy ...

There's the problem right there. He should become narcissistic, implusive, and callous if he wants to get women.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:57 AM on June 24, 2008

My tried-and-true advice for meeting romantic partners is this: volunteer work.

Wait, don't leave! Volunteering for a project that you care about is of course rewarding in and of itself, but can also be an opportunity to meet people with similar interests and values -- moreso than striking blindly into the bar scene, for example. If your friend is charitable, as you say, he may be open to such a venture. Working closely over time is a great way to get to know someone, and with volunteering there aren't really office romance type taboos.

Personal anecdote: I met my SO forever ago while doing community/youth reconciliation work.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think everyone citing that "bad guys get the most girls" article is missing the point that they're talking about college-age girls in that article, not women.

By the time you're past college age, hopefully you've outgrown the bad boy phase (Note to self: Outgrow the badboy phase.)

Anyway, nthing what most have said about your friend sounding great on paper. That still doesn't say whether he's made himself available to women with similar interests/education level/level of attractiveness as his, or if he's simply trying to bag the hot chick ... or completely content doing the single thing.

Have you ever asked him why he's still single? Does he seem to mind or is he just happy with his PhD and poetry? I could be perfectly content with that.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:40 AM on June 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

He's not trying hard enough, he's very selective (meaning, he isn't comfortable with very many people), or he's not completely comfortable with himself. Any of those might answer your question.

At least, those are the reasons why I don't have a boyfriend.

I have a friend who likes everyone. I mean, he'd date any cute girl he meets. (I know, what sounds so wrong about that?) For me, it takes a lot more than a guy to be cute for me to be interested. I've been around the block and know what I can deal with long-term and what I can't. It makes it easy to end relationships very quickly. And it seems that the few guys I am interested in don't feel the same way about me, and I think that's just a matter of math. I date a tiny number of people, and only a tiny fraction of relationships end up working, so I don't end up dating much. (It doesn't help when a guy won't tell you why he doesn't want to see you anymore. I hereby blame all my dating and personality problems on the guys who wouldn't tell me why they went cold on me.)

So maybe your friend is something like that.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:13 AM on June 24, 2008

Oh, and I really excel at being alone, which is why I don't try very hard.
posted by iguanapolitico at 10:13 AM on June 24, 2008

I'm just speculating and I could be completely off the mark but...

You view yourself as not an amazing catch, so you are more likely to treat a girl better - doing all you can because you don't believe you can get such a wonderful girl again. You appreciate what you have.
Your friend knows he's a great catch and because of this he doesn't work as hard on his relationships. He can just go out and date someone else if it isn't going well.

Or maybe you just smell nicer.
posted by idiotfactory at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2008

Scene at a bar: "Hey, I'm anon's best friend. Do you like poetry? By the way, I'm a doctor, yo. Check out the guns!" (kisses biceps)

I feel that perhaps a woman would be better equipped to answer, but I'll take a stab at it. It's been said, for the most part: his abs and his degree are not who he is. These are just things that he's done. He should not expect to be any more successful in the game of love than you expect to be unsuccessful.

However noble your intentions may be, is it possible that you're feeding him the right advice the wrong way? It just seems that the way you describe him (my best friend is in incredible shape, has a doctorate in a technical field, is a talented poet...) that you might be fueling some sort of "I am my abs/degree/poetry" mentality.

The good news is that, provided he's comfortable with being rejected, it just sounds like he needs to put himself (and not his resume) out there a bit more and play the field. Finding someone great to be in a relationship doesn't have to be the goal. How about finding someone great to get drinks on Thursday?
posted by littlelebowskiurbanachiever at 10:52 AM on June 24, 2008

A book called "How to Succeed with Women" by Ron Louis worked for me, correcting the mistakes I had been making for 20 years.
posted by neuron at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2008

Is he the type of man who could inspire other men to go into a battle with him? If not, then he will not get women. Are you?

That's the real secret of who gets women and who does not.
posted by ChabonJabon at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2008

The number of women who are on his level is way less than the number of women on your level.

He may be too shy, too picky, or both. Or else he just needs to be more patient.
posted by konolia at 11:54 AM on June 24, 2008

Man, I can't believe you asked this question about me. Oh, wait. You said 20s.

What I failed to see in the question is, "Does he want to be with anyone?"

And if he really is a decent poet, get him out to do some readings. Even bad poets get the girls. There's open mic nights, poetry slams, scheduled readings, etc.

Showing up at the same place until you are a regular helps as well. And not just for the poetry type things. Any event.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:18 PM on June 24, 2008

Does your friend care that he's single? Maybe he's picky because he realized he's only happy in relationships with certain types of people. I spent most of my 20s single more often than not and happy that way--I was focused on other aspects of my life. My friends who were in relationships would say things to me along the lines of what you are saying (you're smart, funny, attractive, whatevs other flattering attribute, I just don't get why you don't meet an awesome dude) and I found it unintentionally insulting.

In a world of so many fucked up and damaging relationships, why do we assume a single person must have something wrong with them or they wouldn't be single?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:39 PM on June 24, 2008

When you've got a PhD keeping you busy into the evening; travel; an hour or two a day reading newspapers and books; half an hour cooking a night; going to the gym; doing some sports; going to the pub with colleagues; keeping up with friends; and staying on top of housework, there may be a girlfriend-sized hole in your social life without there being a girlfriend-sized hole in your time.

Furthermore, with the right technical PhD it is possible to do all the above without speaking to any girls except supermarket cashiers, your students, and your friends' girlfriends, none of whom are appropriate targets for sexual advances.
posted by Mike1024 at 3:44 PM on June 24, 2008

My answer before reading anyone else's answers: There's this theory out there that someone can be so good looking that it's intimidating and therefore no one asks them out. I've usually heard about this as a problem for super gorgeous women. And it seems, to me, that there's an even stronger theory that that theory is bullshit.

All I know is that, for me, it IS true for some guys. There are guys who are so good looking that I would never think of approaching them. I would likely not notice if they were flirting with me; if I did notice, I'd assume they flirted with everyone.

Obviously, since none of us have met your friend, it's hard to do anything other than guess or answer based on our own personal experiences.

What I've thought of since I read what others wrote: I guess I just assumed that he does want a relationship or some sort and that's part of why you asked. But maybe not. Or, maybe he's not actually *trying* even if he does want to meet a girl. A little effort is required.

And, hey, Mike1024, what's wrong with supermarket cashiers? lol. There's cool girls everywhere, if you look. :-)
posted by INTPLibrarian at 5:01 PM on June 24, 2008

what's wrong with supermarket cashiers? lol. There's cool girls everywhere, if you look. :-)

Many, if not most, supermarket cashiers dislike being hit on by customers.
posted by narrativium at 6:03 PM on June 24, 2008

Just a thought -- you mention long term relationships. It could be he has an STD, say herpes or HIV, that he only reveals when things get serious, that scares away a lot of women.
posted by msalt at 6:11 PM on June 24, 2008

oh wow, he sounds like a catch. In words.

in person? maybe he gets too technical and drowns ladies in jargon? Does his play up his good looks and body to the point it works against him? {I ask because one of my good friends is a straight guy but a metrosexual, has a killer bod and smile but puts moisturizer and dresses in sleeveless shirts and hot shots in the gym, and constantly digs me why gays follow him home and women think he's gay} Non-sequitur.

No one's looking for physical/character flaws but as the adage goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't. Your friend really sounds great and i hope it's really just a dry spell (if he's looking). Otherwise, perhaps he's also just comfortable in his own skin, being single and letting nature takes its course. Both of you are still young. [I'm a 26 yo woman and I think i'm young!] I'm sure some very good woman out there will appreciate him for who he is (1st and foremost) and what he is (phD, hot bod, cute face).

PS: Can I hit on him? :D
posted by prudie at 11:18 PM on June 24, 2008

This sounds SO much like a female friend of mine. She is beautiful, intelligent, has a great job, is athletic, has lived all over the world, etc etc etc but I date more than her, and have more MEANINGFUL relationships than her, despite my being a 'big girl' (ha ha, understatement! LOL), with an average job and not athletic in the slightest, and having always lived within 2 hours of where I grew up. What was eventually explained to me, after having male friends hook them up with her and then have it never lead to a second date, was that despite her attractiveness and intelligence etc. she is BORING! Dead boring. She never has an opinion, never voices her beliefs or perspectives, doesn't know how to have a conversation, etc. One guy called it "Raging Apathy". HAHAHA! Anyway, as much as I love her I totally see what they mean.

So whether or not your friend has a shopping list of 'desirable traits', maybe he's just boring.
posted by gwenlister at 8:49 AM on June 25, 2008

All of this "looks and accomplishments can be deceiving" talk may certainly be right on. But I'm feeling defensive and want to stress that even interesting, non-boring, non-annoying, attractive and intelligent people can have a hard time dating. ;)

You know, like geniuses frequently tend to be on the low end of the happy scale. It can be hard for high achievers to find happiness, just as it can be hard for losers to find happiness. Just for different reasons.

Maybe the guy's boring. Or maybe he truly is fabulous and finds everyone ELSE boring. There's really no way for us to answer the question, but all of these are good theories.
posted by iguanapolitico at 9:53 AM on June 25, 2008

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