DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a very average guy when it comes to dating, I feel. I go out on dates with girls once in a awhile. I don’t have any issues with asking girls out, but at the same time I’m not a “player”. The question is: What do I do if I’m insecure about my girl’s career? Is there something to make it easier to get over?
I’ve been dating this girl for a while. I met her in a bar in where she was working as a go-go dancer. Her lifestyle of constant bars and clubs, along with getting hit on by various celebrities makes me insecure. In the past few years she has been on TV, including a stint was a model on some pretty awful shows on the former Spike TV network.
I don’t stop her from doing anything, And I never pay for anything. But her lifestyle, and the fact that she makes more money then me makes me insecure. I find myself working that she’s going to decide she could do better or that some Hollywood celebrity will turn her head. How do I learn to get over this insecurity?
LIVING THE DREAM, LIVING THE NIGHTMARE
DEAR LIVING THE DREAM, LIVING THE NIGHTMARE: This is a classic case of the “The Chasing Cars Dilemma”. Lots of guys get crushes on women who are make money based on their looks, whether they’re go-go dancers, strippers, burlesque dancers, Twitch streamers, cam-girls, models or what-have you.
However, there’s having a crush on these women and then there’s the reality of dating them. Like a dog chasing cars, what the Hell do you do when you actually catch one?
If you’ll pardon what I freely admit is an awkward and problematic metaphor: Dating women in these careers is often like owning a high-end sports car. It’s great in theory, but the reality is very different. They make you feel cool and your friends will be jealous as hell, but actually owning the car may make you more stressed than you realize.
The same is true about dating people who are professionally sexy. The fantasy of the relationship is great, but the reality of it often involves issues that you never considered. You’re going to have to be pretty secure in both yourself and your relationship to make it work.
One thing you need to recognize is that jobs that require someone to work in the public eye - especially jobs that focus on someone’s appearance - tend to attracts a particular personality type. While exceptions will always exist, a lot of people who pursue these kinds of careers tend to be people who like being the center of attention. And, society being what it is, that often means male attention.
And with that attention comes people who are willing (and, often, able) to try to buy the model’s time and affection. Sometimes this comes in the form of people who’re willing to blow their get-a-life savings in cash tips or gifts. Other times it comes in the form of parties, networking and job opportunities. And if a person’s job on tips or the largesse of strangers, then being flirty and approachable is also part of the job.
That can be hard to deal with, especially if you’re prone to jealousy or insecurity.
So yes, it’s entirely understandable – reasonable, even – that you might feel a little insecure by the fact she’s rubbing elbows with celebrities. It’s entirely understandable why you’d feel like you can’t compete.
Here’s the thing to keep in mind: she’s chosen to be with YOU. You offer her something nobody else is giving her.
Yeah, there are plenty of folks who’ll tell you all kinds of crap about hypergamy or gold-diggers and how women evolved to look for the highest value provider or what-not.
It’s bullsh*t. Women don’t date people based on their bank statements or their resumes or their cars, they date PEOPLE. The fact that she’s dating you means that you have what she values. Whether it’s the way you make her laugh, the way that you see the real her, the way that you make her feel safe and secure or just how you can always make her smile, the point is that she’s with you for a reason.
You may not be one of the strangers buying her lavish presents or taking her to star-studded events, but you are the one who makes her feel special in the ways nobody else does. That’s no small thing.
But what about all her Hollywood suitors? How are you supposed to compete with them?
You don’t have their money, you don’t have their fame or their opportunities, so don’t try. Never play the game on someone else’s home turf; play it on yours, where YOU have the advantage. You know her. You know what she values. You know what she needs, and you know how to provide it.
Now I’ll be honest with you: this can be rough. You’ll be dealing with jealousy and the feeling that you don’t measure up. These are natural and understandable. And there are many ways to deal with them. Part of it is to work on yourself and become a better, more interesting and attractive person — the best, most refined version of you.
But the bigger part is to be a grown-ass adult about it and keep the lines of communication open. The more you and your girlfriend can be honest with one another, the more you two communicate and are able to reassure one another and keep the core of your connection vital and alive? The better you will do.
There will always be imbalances in every relationship; one of you will be more attractive than the other, one of you will make more money than the other. That’s life.
If she’s pulling in more money than you right now, then be happy for her because hey, that’s awesome. It’s great that she’s having success. Getting insecure about it or acting as though this somehow makes you less of a man — it doesn’t — is only going to hurt.
And who knows? You very well might find YOUR career taking off and it will bring you on par.
The best thing you can do here is relax and appreciate what you have. It can be tricky, but it CAN work. You just have to decide whether you have enough faith in your girlfriend and in your relationship to endure.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am not a good looking person by any stretch of the imagination, at least not in the conventional sense of beauty. The thing is, when I’m using dating apps like OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Tinder, I can easily find women I’m attracted to, both by their pics and their self-description. The thing is, they don’t seem to be as interested in me as I am in them.
I will also be contacted by women who are attracted to me, but whom I don’t find attractive in return. How do I remedy my own physical attractions (as physical as you can get over the Interwebz) to girls who aren’t interested and girls who are interested?
- Skin Deep
DEAR SKIN DEEP: Welcome to the wonderful world of dating, where Venn diagram of the people you’re into and the people who are into you can often be two separate circles with minimal overlap.
I’m going to level with you, Skin Deep: dating is often a numbers game, especially when it comes to dating apps. One of the benefits of dating apps is that we’re able to look for exactly what we want in a partner. Of course, this is also the drawback: it’s very easy to be so focused on what you think you want that you pass up on people who you might work with if you met them in person. OKCupid and Tinder are great, but we’re designed to pick up on thousands of little signals that indicate whether we’d find someone compatible or not, and you can’t get those from a dating app.
As a result, you’re going to go through a lot of no’s and people who seem great on paper but don’t work in person. You’re also going to end up missing people who aren’t perfect on paper, but that you might click with if you’d met under different circumstances.
You say that you’re not conventionally attractive; clearly you’re not unattractive, since you have women who’re trying to get together with you. But there’s more to attraction than looks; there are issues like shared interests or compatible lifestyles. The investment banker is going to have a hard time dating the club kid, no matter how hot they may find one another; there’re just too many differences in what they want from life.
Now when it comes to finding the right intersection of people who you want who also want you, there’re a few things that you can do. Part of it is to just lean into who you are. It’s good to be polarizing, instead of a broad people-pleaser.
As much as it’s a cliche, you really don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s far better to be a few people’s shot of whiskey. That is: you don’t want lots of people who only kind of like you, you want a small number of folks who REALLY want you. Spending some time working on presenting exactly who you are and what you have to offer and polishing it up to a bright sheen can help you find the people who’re going to crave what you’ve got.
You may also try a few things like changing up your profile and getting some professional pictures taken. Sometimes the problem is less how you look and more the way that you’re presenting yourself. Never underestimate how things like lighting and camera angles can completely change how somebody looks.
But at the same time, you may want to examine your attitudes towards the ones you are attracted to vs. the ones who come to you. If you’re refusing them out of some sense of “I deserve better”, you could be seriously screwing yourself out of opportunities that you don’t realize. Remember what I just said about how dating apps mean we may overlook people we’d dig under other circumstances? That applies here.
Now don’t get me wrong: if you’re not attracted to someone, you’re not attracted to someone and trying to force it isn’t going to work. But at the same time, if you’re hoping people are going to give you a chance, you need to be willing to do the same for them.
Some people don’t necessarily photograph well, or know how to be photogenic. Others may not be model-beautiful but are attractive anyway even if they don’t conform to the Instagram-famous version of beauty. They may have qualities that you’d crave in a partner, if you met them in person.
They may not be your ideal on paper, but they may work far better in person. If they seem like they might be cool, then roll the dice and gamble 30 minutes and a cup of coffee. Worst case scenario: you’re out 30 minutes of your time and $5 for a latte. Best case scenario: you might surprise yourself and realize that - as the sage said - you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)