DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I had a good, long think about what it is I want, after reading your column; in a girl, in a relationship and so on. I’ve pretty much known what kind of girl I’m attracted to but your words helped me solidify my thoughts and for that I thank you.
Personally, I’m attracted to tomboys; you know, the girls who delve more into male activities than female. Perhaps I find this attractive because I find it easier to relate but nonetheless, it’s what I like. I want my girl to be outgoing and adventurous to somewhat counterbalance my introverted nature. I want to find a girl who likes to talk about anything and everything; have stimulating conversations or just bulls--t for hours. That’s just a small overview.
Now, as I’ve found out, very few girls like this exist. Most girls my age (I am currently 20) have grown out of the tomboy phase. The ones who are, however, are already taken. Pretty much any girl that I’ve thought was perfect for me was either clearly not interested or taken. Now, I’ve tried dating sites before (OkCupid, as you suggested) and explicitly stated what kind of girl I’d like but unfortunately, I’ve had little to no luck. While it would be amazing to finally find that perfect girl, I can’t help but think that perhaps I’ve idealized her too much.
What do you think, Doctor? Have I idealized my perfect girl so much that I’ve made my standard impossibly high for any good girl to reach or should I hold out hope that I’ll fine my dream girl some day?
Put On A Pedestal
DEAR PUT ON A PEDESTAL: There’re a couple things to consider, POAP. I mean, what you describe wanting isn’t exactly definitional when it comes to being a “tomboy”. Honestly, sitting around and bulls--tting for hours isn’t a masculine or feminine trait; that’s something that knows no gender, just personality type. So perhaps what you’re looking for has less to do with being a tomboy and more to do with just liking to talk. The difference may well be what you and she prefer to talk about. And if that’s the case… well, you’d do a better job if you don’t automatically assume that what more traditionally feminine presenting women talk about are less serious or stimulating than what you’d want to talk about.
But there’re a few things in your letter that suggest that maybe this goes a bit beyond looking for a stimulating conversational partner. Which is why I think the first thing to ask yourself is: are you looking for a girlfriend, or are you looking for a self-improvement project?
The second thing to ask is whether you’re choosing tomboys because you’re drawn to women with more masculine-coded qualities, or because you feel as though they’re more attainable and less intimidating than someone who’s more feminine?
Now I ask these things, because it’s going to make a pretty significant difference in who you’re actually compatible with and – importantly – whether you and they would actually be happy in a relationship.
To tackle the first question: a lot of guys, especially ones who have relatively little dating experience often find themselves attracted to women who they feel would make them different people. It’s the appeal of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl: a sexy woman who makes you the person you wish you were, but with blowjobs included. And while this is a nice fantasy… MPDGs aren’t real, and flesh-and-blood people aren’t out there hoping to foster folks while they do their self-improvement thing and then send them off to their Forever Relationships.
In the real world, there’re a host of problems with this. To start with, being the diametric opposite of the person you’re trying to date can lead to more problems, just through sheer personality conflicts. If, for example, you’re a dedicated introvert who prefers staying home or avoiding large gatherings, then you’re going to have a harder time dating an extroverted social butterfly. It’s not that an extrovert and introvert can’t make things work, but if you aren’t ready to make compromises – like being cool with them going off and doing the social thing when your batteries or drained, or their being cool with your dipping out when your reserves get low – then you’re upping the relationship difficulty factor by a lot.
A bigger issue, however, is the fact that your partners, no matter how wonderful they are, can’t bring anything out of you that isn’t already there. It’s one thing if you’re shy and your partner helps you feel secure and confident enough to come out of your shell, for example. But they can’t make you someone you’re not, and trying to do so will only frustrate and annoy the both of you.
Change has to come from within. If you want to work on your introverted nature, you’ll need to do that yourself, without a girlfriend acting like a Sherpa to you through the experience. You’ll want to get better at gauging your social energy, figuring out how to balance the expenditures with your need to recharge. A partner can’t do that for you, nor can she change that in you. And her trying to drag you out and about may feel good at first, but you’ll quickly discover how much it annoys you (and then frustrates you, then angers you, if you two don’t find an equilibrium that works for the two of you). And if she’s someone who legitimately wants to try to make you more extroverted and outgoing… well, that’s going to frustrate her when it doesn’t work.
This is why the first thing I would suggest is to make yourself the person you’d want to date – that is, if you’re hoping that a relationship is going to make you a different person, or you want a partner who’s qualities will transfer to you… focus on cultivating those qualities in yourself instead of looking outside for them.
This, incidentally ties into the second question I had for you: are you sure that you want tomboys because you’re attracted to women who have a more masculine-coded energy and vibe, or because you feel like dating them would be an easier lift?
If it’s the former, then hey, introspection done, go out and find yourself the motor mechanic maiden of your dreams. But if it’s the latter… well, that’s going to also be a problem. If your interest in them is more about their being less intimidating or thinking that they’ll be more into you than a traditionally femme woman would be, then you’re setting yourself up for a deeply uncomfortable situation.
A lot of times, people (men, women and non-binary folks; this crosses all genders and sexualities) who date this way – looking for a less intimidating, more attainable partner – often find themselves dissatisfied with their relationships. As the initial NRE starts to wear off, they often find that they wish their partners were just a little different. Maybe they could be a bit more refined, a bit more gender-conforming, a bit more… traditional, one might say.
But for the person on the receiving end of that treatment, it’s kinda dehumanizing. You’re being asked to change bits of yourself, sand off the unwanted areas, change these other things until you’re no longer who you actually are, and now you’re spending your time trying to be somebody else’s fantasy version of you, instead of your authentic self. And that’s an awful thing to feel or experience. And if you’re someone who goes along with it, it can take a lot of time to get back to who you were, instead of someone else’s vision.
Now to be clear: I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing or hoping to do. Nor, for that matter, am I saying that you’re a bad person for possibly wanting those things. What I am saying is that you should interrogate those interests and your type and figure out if that’s what you actually want in a partner, or in yourself.
It’s also worth noting: just because someone seems girly or traditionally femme-presenting doesn’t mean that she can’t have a more masculine streak to her, or that a less feminine woman can’t also dig femme-coded activities or interests. There’re plenty of women who’re fully capable of both.
If you do this self-exploration and do come to the conclusion that you prefer a woman who has a more masculine energy to her, then have no fear: they do exist. However, to find them, you’re going to have to start looking for the women who’re out doing those more male-coded activities – however you’re defining them. Work backwards from the position of “ok, so this is what my ideal match would be into”, then find the places where people who are into those activities are most likely to gather and become a regular in those spaces.
If you’re hoping to find someone who’s outdoorsy and adventurous, then it’s time to start getting out to the country, or joining hiking groups or other outdoor activities. If you want someone who likes working with her hands, then you’ll want to look to maker spaces or places where the more mechanically inclined are going to gather.
But again, I have to stress: these need to be organic to who you already are or what you’re into. If you’re hoping to find a woman who loves working on motorcycles, but you’re not into them yourself? You’re going to have a much harder time connecting with her than you would if you find someone who shares similar interests to you. And if it really is a matter of finding more feminine-presenting women to be more intimidating… well, that’s going to be something that you have to change in yourself by becoming more secure and confident in who you are and your own value.
So TL;DR: make sure you know what you actually want, and that you’re not basing your “type” on things besides actual compatibility. If it’s more about your being a better person? Then start with your relationship with yourself; this way you won’t deal with heartbreak and failed relationships while you learn that what you want and what you need are two very different things.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, email@example.com