DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a female in my late 20’s with a variation of a problem you’ve heard before. I can’t get a date. I never get asked out, and if I ask a guy out they say no. The last guy I dated was in college and we were best friends first and shifted to a relationship as it became clear we both had feelings for one another.
I do plenty of activities where I’m around people. I play D&D with multiple groups of people (forever DM), volunteer at church in areas where I’m around other people my age, go to the gym, play intramural sports, and hang out with friends where I can meet more of their social circles. My friends describe me as fun, friendly, flirty when I want to be, passionate about the things I like, witty, independent, and sarcastic as hell. However, I’m very analytically minded, pragmatic, and not good at showing my emotions. When I jokingly asked which Star Wars character I was most similar to, they all separately said R2-D2 or K2-S0. I am also fairly overweight, but I’m working on it and know that won’t change overnight. I try to look as good as I can, but I stick with minimal makeup and clothes that make me feel comfortable but still look nice.
I have lots of guy friends, so I know I get along well with guys. They take initiative and invite me along to things; it’s not like I’m just tagging along with them. But it’s never more than that. Anytime I try and ask a guy out, which only happens after significant flirting and it seems like they’re interested (and friends tell me it looks like they’re interested-so it’s not just me misreading signals), they say that they only think of me as a good friend. And guys ask out all my single friends, but never me.
What am I doing wrong? I’m not going to mope around and say “woe is me, I’ll be single forever”. If there’s something I should fix, I’ll get right on it. Is it that I’m not attractive enough? Or am I totally missing something else?
Too Many Best Friends
DEAR TOO MANY BEST FRIENDS: Here’s my question for you, TMBF: do you feel attractive? Not in the sense of “here’re all the dudes that think I’m hot,” but the way you think of yourself. Do you look in the mirror and think that you’re sexy? Or do you look at the things that you think are your flaws and think about trying to look good despite them?
The way you describe yourself physically and the way that you describe your appearance makes me suspect it’s the latter. I’ve known a lot of folks, especially people who’re overweight, who look at their weight as the disqualifier from… well, everything. They don’t feel like they have a right to dress well, to put effort into their presentation or to just think of themselves as being a sexy bad-ass. And that sense of “I’m not good enough” tends to get in the way of, well, everything. Because straight talk: there’re folks out there who like big women, just as there’re folks who like big men. And I don’t just mean fetishists or people who think that overweight women are desperate or will put up with more bullshit, folks who are attracted to and desire big women and want relationships with them.
But it’s hard to find them when you don’t feel like you’re allowed to think that you’re a sexy badass.
So my first suggestion for you is to start treating yourself like you’re hot. Find the things that make you feel unstoppably awesome. Maybe it’s a kick-ass dress. Maybe it’s a different make-up routine. Maybe it’s finding your personal style, something that’s uniquely you and makes you feel like a million bucks. This isn’t about changing yourself to someone else’s ideal, but in finding the things that make you feel like a goddamn bundle of awesome that people would be insane to pass up. Because, like I’m often saying, attitude is destiny. And recognizing that you’re money and knowing that people would be lucky to date you changes how you approach relationships and dating.
My second suggestion is to examine how you’re coming across to people. If you’re a little more emotionally reserved and pragmatic just because that’s how you naturally are… cool, you do you. But if you’re holding yourself back because you don’t feel like you’re allowed to have a presence or express yourself… well, that’s when it’s time to give yourself take up a little more emotional space. It could be that your cool demeanor and reserve may be putting people off because they think you’re not interested. It may be that by leaning into your passions and letting those passions be a bigger part of your life, you’ll feel empowered to be more expressive.
My third suggestion is to give things time. Sometimes the issue has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the people around you. It may be that at your age and in your social circles, you’re with people who aren’t mature enough for you; god knows that those guys who like big women often have to overcome a lot of social programming that tells them that their desires are shameful and that they should only want conventionally hot women. It may also be that you just haven’t been in a position to meet the right guy yet. A good friend of mine spent years dealing with assholes who would tell her to her face that she was good enough to fuck, but not good enough to date. She was convinced that she was going to die alone, unloved and unmourned.
A couple years later, I officiated at her wedding.
As unhelpful as it can feel, sometimes the problem isn’t something that you can fix; it’s just a matter of time and demographics and waiting for things to line up correctly. Which ain’t fun… but it also means that this too shall pass.
You’ve got a lot going for you TMBF, and I suspect that the more you embrace your awesome, the more luck you’ll have. Live an awesome life that makes you feel awesome and the rest will start to take care of itself.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)