DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: So I just finished reading your recent post debunking the idea that women only want to date rich buff alpha bros. I completely agreed with the point you made, but it reminded me of a semi-related, more nuanced question I have had about my own dating life that I’d like your take on: do women mostly go for guys with certain personality types when seeking casual sex/friends-with-benefits?
I want more sexual variety and sexual relationships in my life. I’d be thrilled to have a few friends-with-benefits or casual relationships where, yes, we’re actually friends, but also sex is a major component of the relationship. The thing is, the last time I tried meeting women for these purposes, it didn’t lead to much — few messages, even fewer dates, and nothing that went beyond the second date. This was despite me putting a lot of effort into my profile, reading through your archives, etc.
I worry that my personality held me back. I hate parties and clubs, and at bars I prefer to find a quiet corner to chat rather than be in the middle of things. My idea of a fun Saturday night is playing board games with friends or discussing science and politics over cocktails. And while I have a few close friends (most long-distance at this point due to moves), I don’t have much of a IRL social circle where I live.
I’m simply not the kind of guy who radiates charisma, organically meets a ton of varied and interesting people, or will take dates on fun adventures and wild nights through the city.
I’m confident I have attractive qualities, like kindness, financial stability, and intelligence, but they’re more “boyfriend material” traits than “sexy friends-with-benefits” traits. I’m not saying women want their friends-with-benefits to be stupid assholes, obviously, but just that merely being kind on its own isn’t going to do much to attract a woman looking for something more casual and sexual rather than a long-term partner.
I posted my online dating profile in multiple mixed-gendered communities to get feedback, and I was told that sweet, introverted, nerdy guys looking for FWB are a dime a dozen and that women want adventures and excitement from casual relationships.
The thing is, I’m pretty content with who I am. I’d be unhappy having to maintain a giant social circle or going out clubbing every weekend, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Sometimes I wish I was more charming or charismatic, but again I don’t see anything wrong with being a bit on the awkward and quiet side. But does this mean it will be difficult for me to be attractive to women seeking more casual relationships? To be a bit hyperbolic, am I doomed to a life of sexual boredom and frustration because I’m not “exciting” and “fun” enough?
(I guess I should add that I’m polyamorous, which does making meeting people a bit harder, but I had similar experiences even when I was single so I don’t think it’s a major factor)
Looking For More
DEAR LOOKING FOR MORE: There’re a couple things going on here, LFM. First and foremost: yes, being poly means that you’re going to have a more restricted pool of potential partners. Lots of folks, even people looking for friends with benefits, just don’t want to do the poly thing. They may not trust that the supposedly poly person isn’t cheating, they may feel like being in a poly relationship means they’re not as special, or it just may be more of a logistical nightmare than they’re willing to deal with.
So that, in and of itself, is something that you’re gonna have to just accept as part and parcel of the poly experience.
However, the bigger issue at hand is the assumption that folks who are looking for casual sex or an FWB arrangement are all wild and crazy party people who want to go on amazing adventures. There’re plenty of low-key, introverted folks who like to bang, but don’t necessarily want commitment or to party all the time. It’s easier to find the more outgoing club types, but that’s mostly because they’re more visible and more in alignment with the stereotype of who supposedly goes for casual sex or FWB relationships. The quiet, board-game types are out there, but they aren’t as noticeable because… well, because everyone keeps looking for the stereotype.
Yes, while there’re party animals out there who want to rock and roll all night and party every day, who hit the clubs looking for threesomes, foursomes and moresomes… those aren’t the only folks who like casual sex. They’re not even the majority. Hell, some of the most sex-getting-est dudes I know — who have a lot of casual sex (or who have multiple relationships, or both, for that matter) tend to be introverts who prefer nights at home or low-key dates. Some of the women I know who had the wildest, craziest sexual adventures were quiet and sweet — folks you would assume were natural kindergarten teachers who would be into crafts and cottagecore, and yet had strings of partners that would make your head spin.
The same goes with being “fun” or “exciting”. This doesn’t automatically mean being wild or outgoing. Sometimes what makes you exciting is the fact that you’re the person who really gets somebody or who sees the world from a different perspective than they do and you have amazing conversations. There’re lots of different ways of being attractive or charming. Being charismatic doesn’t mean you’re the loudest or most visible person in the room. An amazing date isn’t necessarily going bar hopping, doing shots, riding mechanical bulls and running from the cops; sometimes an amazing date is going to a museum and an Oddities and Curiosities expo to look at all the preserved bugs and nifty animal skulls. Or it might be making pizza and cocktails at home and having a bad movie marathon while you cuddle on the couch.
Being someone who likes quiet nights and doesn’t go clubbing doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find FWBs or casual relationships; it just means that you should be looking for someone who aligns with your interests and lifestyle.
I suspect that you — like the forums you were consulting — may be falling into the trap of looking for the wrong folks because they align with what you think the FWB-havers are like. The problem inherent to this approach is that you’re advertising yourself to the wrong market. To paraphrase the sage, you can be the sweetest, juiciest peach in the world, but some folks just don’t like peaches and you’re not gonna change their minds. You want to be looking for the folks who actually like peaches.
Are there women who want adventures and excitement from their casual relationships? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t women who are sweet, introverted and nerdy who also want casual or no-strings relationships. Those should be the folks you’re looking for… and to do that, you should be making sure that those are the ones who your profile appeals to.
Now part of the problem may well be how you’re going about trying to find a FWB. If you’re advertising on dating apps as looking for something casual or no strings, then you’re more likely to find folks who are looking for wild-and-crazy-swing-from-the chandeliers type of flings without strings. Those are f--kbuddy relationships, where sex is the main — or possibly only — reason for the relationship. But the key to FWB relationships is that they’re friendships… it’s right there in the name. So you may be better off looking for friends who are in line with what you want. That means that yes, you will need to actually improve your social circle and start working on finding friends who aren’t long distance. If you want friends with benefits, then to get the benefits, you need to find friends. There’s not really a way of skipping that step.
One of the things I always suggest to folks looking to build out their social circle is to find their people first; look for other folks who like many of the things you do, make connections and even start hosting events that would bring them all to you. There’s a lot to be said for having a board game night and getting people together to play Betrayal at House on the Hill or Pandemic Legacy. That makes it that much easier to find the folks who might also be into something low-key with you.
Another thing you may want to consider is to focus on the overlap in your particular Venn diagram and start making connections with the local poly community in your area. While poly get togethers aren’t meat markets, they are a great place to network and mingle with like-minded folks who have similar relationship styles and similar interests. You’re more likely to meet people who not only get the whole poly thing (they opted in already, obviously) but who might be more receptive to a FWB relationship with you. And, of course, there’re plenty of sweet, introverted nerds in the poly community as well.
Just remember: people are wide and varied, and not easily sorted into clean and convenient categories. The quiet homebody can be an unexpected tigress in the sack if you give her half a chance; the wild party girl can be incredibly sweet, considerate and thoughtful and looking for something committed with a special guy. Instead of focusing on the stereotype, look for the folks you’d be compatible with and work from there. People can and often do surprise you if you give them a chance. But first you have to give them that chance.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org