DEAR DR. NERDLOVE:
I am having a bit of a problem with online dating. I don’t know exactly how to make a conversation exciting enough which would lead to a date. All I do is simply ask basic get to know you questions such as where are you from, what do you do for a living etc. The end result is always the same… either they lose interest or else I get bored and give up on the conversation entirely. Other times I ask them out and they say that its too early.
The only question is how do I simply make an online dating conversation worth my time and my match’s time? I am trying to invest my time in online dating because chatting up women in clubs and bars is something that I find terrifying. To tell you something about myself I am an introverted 27 year old guy who has never had sex and who has only kissed 1 girl in his life. I find it hard to come up with a conversation sometimes or banter/jokes to keep a conversation stimulating. I have friends and work mates who are awesome and I have hobbies and interests and have travelled sometimes so I am not exactly someone who has never set foot out the door.
Can you please assist?
DEAR FRUSTRATED SOMEBODY: Your problem is right there in the letter, FS; you’re asking really basic questions and everyone’s getting bored. That’s the entire issue. When you’re trying to meet people via online dating, you don’t have a lot of the same options that you have when you meet people in person. There’s no chance to build intimacy via touch, no way to build a connection through physical excitement. All you have are your words to woo women and as a wise man once said: the purpose of language was to woo women and in that endeavor, laziness will never do.
The point of online dating is to meet people in person. To do that, you want to give them a reason to want to see you, to be excited to meet up with you. And if you’re just asking boring questions… well, they’re gonna get bored and decide they want to see someone who’s more interesting.
Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask “getting to know you” questions, nor does it mean that you have to be putting on a performance to get her to like you. But you do want to flirt and be entertaining so that she enjoys talking with you and wants more. And when it comes to language, the easiest way to be more attractive is to be fun to talk to. One of the surest ways to be more fun and engaging is through humor.
Of course, there’re all kinds of ways to do this. You can be playful in your flirting; since apps like Tinder now let you send animated gifs, you can use those to create playful banter. A Spongebob meme or Archer saying “Hey, phrasing” can be a way of playfully engaging with what she’s said by having an exaggerated overreaction.
Alternately you can play games “two truths and a lie”. Or you can find ways to react to things that she put in her profile. A Harry Potter reference could lead to, say, joking about the two of you having to write and direct a new Potter film and the conflicts that would result (because of the simmering sexual tension).
You say that you have a hard time coming up with banter or jokes to keep the conversation stimulating. There’re a few ways to learn how to be better at bantering or good at having the right thing to say at the right time. The first is to learn to stop trying and just start going with the flow. Improv classes might be worth your time here; you want to learn how to be in the moment and how to react instead of trying to plan for every contingency or find the most clever thing to say. The best flirting humor is often the least planned; when it feels forced, it’s rarely as fun or organic.
But the other is to immerse yourself in humor and things that you think are funny. That may mean mainlining comedies and stand up specials on Netflix as you try to get a feel for the rhythms and pacing of jokes and story telling. It may mean a steady diet of funny authors like Terry Pratchett or Carl Hiassen. It may mean paying attention to naturally funny people like Ryan Reynolds or Ali Wong, Mel Brooks, Craig Ferguson or Kevin Hart. The more you pay attention and learn from them, the more you’ll figure out the styles of comedy and humor that work best for you and for your flirting style.
These will make you more fun to talk to and that, in turn, will make it easier for you to keep up the emotional momentum you need for successful flirting and dating.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I really appreciate your ideas on dating and social interaction in general. Too bad your channel wasn’t up 20 years ago, that would have prevented a lot of heartaches.
Which leads me to my current situation. I’m in my late 30s and developed a crush on a new co-worker recently. It came very unexpected and the last time I felt this way was over ten years ago. At first I was somewhat amused about my feelings and expected them to go away sooner or later. I enjoyed spending time with her at work and we became Facebook friends.
That was one month ago. We haven’t seen each other lately, but I’ve developed a form of Oneitis since. I became obsessed with what she posted, who her other friends are and how she reacts to my posts. Because I’ve struggled with similar situations in the past, I was looking for ways to get her out of my head. And that lead to the stupidest idea ever: I unfriended her on Facebook. I regretted my decision immediately but as you probably know there is no way to undo this one button click.
Best case would be that she doesn’t really notice, worst case that I hurt her feelings and made the situation thousand times worse.
Now I’m thinking of ways to get back to normal. I could send a new request and tell her that I unfriended her by accident. But would she believe me? Or I could wait and see what she tells me the next time we meet each other, probably in two weeks, when a mutual friend of ours will have a gig with his band. And after that we will still have to work together from time to time. What bothers me is that I sometimes have the tendency to push away people that get under my skin. I really think I can get over her and just have a work relationship or friendship with her. But I just don’t want to make another bad decision.
Thanks in advance for your time and for your feedback,
Friends or Not
DEAR FRIENDS OR NOT: Yeah, you kinda overreacted here FoN. You had a lot of other options to limit just how much you saw of your crush. You could’ve set up groups and filters on your Facebook page that would let you see folks you wanted to see but not show you as many posts of hers. You could have set her posts to a lower priority so that they didn’t show up in your feed as often as other, closer friends. You could have snoozed her for 30 days, which may have been enough time for you to process those inconvenient feelings and get to a place where you weren’t feeling so obsessive about her. You could also have just muted or unfollowed her, which would have kept her posts out of your feed but kept your connection on Facebook, allowing you to quietly refollow her at a time of your choosing.
But it is what it is and you did what you did and there’s not really a graceful way of undoing it.
However, while there isn’t a graceful or subtle way of re-friending her… it’s not irreversible, or even all that bad. Mostly you just have to be willing to eat some crow and deal with her knowing that you unfriended her and now you want to refriend her. But there are still ways of managing that that don’t require you to say “yeah, so I kinda got obsessed with you…”
One of the (few, dubious) benefits of Facebook being such a black box system is that it glitches and f
ks up in any number of ways. If you were to, say, re-friend her and just tell her “yeah, I noticed that some of my friends got dropped from my account,” the odds are pretty good that she wouldn’t question it at all. Alternately if you tell her that you were paring down your friends list and she accidentally got caught up in the mix, she would probably take that at face value.
But honestly, the best option would be to leave out the excuses and just say “Yeah I unfriended you and didn’t mean to,” and leave it there. Unless she is absolutely, totally monkey-s
tting bananas about social media and monitors her engagement and friends list like a hawk, I doubt she’ll give it more than a second’s thought before reaccepting you as her friend online.
And then if you find you’re not over her yet, you can immediately snooze her profile for 30 days and give yourself some time.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)