DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m currently struggling with dating (who would have thought) and specifically with how i could meet someone that I can form a romantic connection with.
I’m a 24 Year old Dude, never been in a relationship, never been on a date, helpless as to why I’ve only ever gotten negative response, blabla, millions of words of advice on your site and others. What I think makes my case a bit weird is that I take a very long time to become attracted to someone. I need to know the person first, and then I could maybe think about romantic attraction.
So far, when looking at dating advice the main thing seems to be “be upfront and immediately communicate what you want” as well as “just be yourself, do your thing, and you will meet someone”. Both of which don’t work for me. I can’t immediately communicate, because I honestly don’t know at that point, and being myself over the last years has proven to not work. I have a lot of very sweet, very nice friends who are women that I wouldn’t want to be without, but that the lack of having a girlfriend is starting to become more of a problem for me over time.
I’ve asked women out occasionally, asked someone to dance in a club, tried online dating because the intentions are clearer when you meet through a dedicated meetup-space. Things like sports clubs and common interests or common friend groups also have not led to any success so far. (that is: success in terms of finding dates).
My question boils down to: how do I meet women to be potentially attracted to if I am slow to be attracted and unlucky in my usual social circles?
Thanks for providing so much insight, hope to hear from you,
DEAR SLOW RIDE: Alright, first things first, SR: your attraction pattern isn’t unusual.
What you’re describing is known as “demisexuality”, where some folks don’t develop sexual attraction for somebody right off the bat. While demisexuality is something of a spectrum, demisexuals in general tend to feel what they call “secondary attraction” — that is, the attraction you feel after starting to get to know somebody. Many need emotional intimacy and connection before they start feeling sexual or romantic attraction. While demisexuals aren’t common, per se, it’s not unusual or unknown. I’d recommend heading over to the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network at asexuality.org to learn more. They have resources and forums that can help you connect to other folks like you and to help you understand more about your attraction patterns. Knowing that you’re not alone and that lots of other folks work the same way you do can go a long way towards improving your sense of self-confidence and self-assurance.
It’s also useful to have a name or label to apply to your sexuality, because not only does it give others insight into how you roll and to set their expectations accordingly, but it means you can adjust your approach to finding relationships. This can be helpful, in part because it seems like you’re trying to find dates and relationships in ways that may be counterproductive to who you are as a person.
I suspect part of the issue that you’ve had with dating in general and online dating in particular is that you’ve been approaching it as though you were “allosexual” — that is, as though you had a more typical pattern of sexual attraction. On top of the usual frustrations people face on dating apps, there’s the fact that you’re not necessarily as interested, or even as motivated to match and meet people. That’s going to up the challenge level considerably, not just in terms of how you use the app, but the people you match with and the expectations that any potential matches may have of you.
Part of the problem, I think, is that you’re pushing yourself to try to adapt to an attraction pattern that doesn’t work for you. Asking people out on dates when you’ve just met them, especially on what’s known as a “cold approach” — that is, you have no social connection to them — isn’t going to work well for you. You aren’t necessarily attracted to them in the first place, which can affect how you come across to others, and I suspect that you may be just going through the motions rather than wanting to go on a date with them, specifically.
As a general rule, I think you would have a much easier time to focus on what are known as “warm approaches” — that is, talking to and getting to know people who are connected to your social circle. With warm approaches, you’re talking to people with whom you share friends in common — whether co-workers, friends from school or those women you mentioned whose friendship you value. This makes it much easier to strike up a conversation with them and to spend time getting to know them without the additional challenges that can come with talking to complete strangers.
In fact, your friends could well be your most valuable resource when it comes to meeting awesome, compatible women. Your friends know you and — presumably — know that you take time to develop attraction to others. You can let them know that hey, you’re interested in dating, you take time to warm up to folks and do they know anyone who they think you might vibe with? If you frame it as “getting to know folks you might get along with,” rather than people you would want to date right then and there, you take some of the pressure off to feel something for them immediately. That outlook makes it easier for you to take a little more time to get to know them and see whether or not you’d like to spend time with them. That’s time you could spend building an emotional connection to them, leading to sexual attraction.
At the same time, if you want to go the more traditional route or use dating apps, then it helps to lean into your sexuality. You know that you take time to develop attraction to folks. If you’re looking to meet people that you could see yourself having a relationship with, then you may want to prioritize meeting people you think are interesting or that you find compatible on an emotional level. These would be people you enjoy hanging out with, talking to, and, yes, going out on dates with. By prioritizing the emotional chemistry side of things, you’re make it much easier to meet people whose lifestyles, values and interests are compatible with yours. That, in turn, makes it easier to build the connection that leads to sexual attraction.
Now with that in mind, having that demisexual label makes it much easier to explain how you work. You’re a slow burn; you need to get to know someone before you start feeling sexual attraction to folks. Letting people know that up front is going to serve as a filter. There will inevitably be people for whom this type of relationship just won’t work. That doesn’t make them bad people or impatient or what-have-you; it just means that you and they aren’t compatible. Finding that out early means that they aren’t waisting your time and you aren’t wasting theirs. This is especially true with online dating; letting folks know that you’re demi in your profile makes it easier to match with the right people, while the others will swipe left.
Now this does mean that you may have to work a little more to find folks to date. Most folks are going to expect some degree of physical and romantic attraction right off the bat. That’s just a matter of numbers and demographics; there’re more folks who aren’t on the asexuality spectrum than who are. But there are folks out there — demisexual and not — who prefer taking their time and letting a relationship build instead of leaping into bed. They’re going to be looking for someone like you, someone who wants to take things slowly and build connection and trust and intimacy.
It can be a challenge, to be sure. But, as the saying goes: nobody said it was going to be easy. They just said that it would be worth it.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org