So, about this odd 'dating' custom that you Earthlings have...

…which seems to involve locating someone whose appearance and manners are not immediately objectionable, securing said individual’s agreement and coordination to attend some kind of informal ceremonial function that typically involves the ingestion of food or beverage and occasionally some form of light exercise, making one’s self as agreeable in appearance and providing a suitable illusion of being unburdened by emotional issues, financial constraints, and and offensive lack of personal hygiene as possible, arriving at said meeting locale on or about the date of the scheduled meeting, awaiting the accession of the previously referenced individual in the same general proximity, identifying one another from grainy, ill-lighted images taken by a 1 megapixel cell phone camera, engaging in the above-mentioned ceremonial consumption without depositing more than a maximum acceptable level of detritus upon the inadvisably light-colored clothing that looked good in the bathroom mirror but now makes one appear to be a three week corpse under the mood lighting of the unexpectedly noisy and rancid smelling venue that appears to turn into a ska club in mid-dinner, making some form of vaguely coherent and non-somnolescent banter about subjects not to include politics, religion, driving habits, quantum mechanics, room-sized collections of obscure vinyl jazz records, and small pet animals that look like gremlins allowed to feast on s’mores after midnight, and finally, find some manner in which to terminate what has now become a painful but seemingly inextricable engagement in some fashion that is polite, respectful, non-felonious, and most importantly, doesn’t require gnawing off any appendages of your body that won’t grow back without the sort of gene therapy that typically results in a global zombie infestation.

The individual steps seem so almost trivial to accomplish, even by an emotional simpleton such as myself or Ernest Hemingway. However, putting them together, in correct order, in such a fashion as not to collapse like a San Francisco bridge, seems to be more complicated than assembling a multi-billion dollar orbiting space platform. And I write here from some experience. With the space platform thing, I mean; the dating process is more alien to me than a bug-eyed reptilian protagonist which swallowed a red LED keyfob light in order to become the next children’s toy holiday marketing success.

I exaggerate, of course, but only very, very slightly. I and my small crew of highly trained capuchin monkeys could have built half a dozen gamma ray laser-equipped space platforms and been poised to almost take over the world until foiled by a half-inebriated, foppish, hypersexed British SIS agent in the time it has taken me to utterly fail to achieve a third dating engagement.

But I’m certain others must have some voice external to my cranium on the topic at which they would be willing to share at tiresome length and in a voice that would make Sally Struthers wince in pain of acoustic overload. So, by all means, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of cheer.


I’ve been on dates that involved joking and teasing with the other person, walking around a little with this other person and exploring nice neighborhoods I don’t get to very often. Dates can be awkward, but unless one of the two is really out of touch with whats going on, they can be gentle “nice meeting you, hope you meet someone soon who’s more suitable, bye.”

…and as tough as it can be, it’s pretty doubtful that arranged marriages work out much better.

Of course, the presumption here is that there are actually two live bodies who are in physical and intellectual attendance at this affair. I’ll admit, walking around exploring nice neighborhoods and joking with myself is kind of my specialty, but I’m told it doesn’t qualify as a date unless you actually have multiple personalities, and the subsequent date typically involves padded walls and electroshock therapy.


All I’ve got is generic, standard advice. Rather than dating, try some volunteer work, or hanging with the Sierra Club, or community theater, or wherever you can at least socialize with people some while you’re keeping an eye out for cuties. Even if you can’t find any cuties, friends are pretty good to find, as well.

Otherwise, I got nuthin’.

The main thing to remember about meeting people on-line, is that you are likely to meet people who like to be ON-LINE. Getting them out into the real world is sometimes a struggle. Then again, my last two boyfriends I met on-line, but I always have a disclaimer on my profile. Three emails, then we meet or sever contact. Im not looking for on-line pen pals.

But tales of “not quite understanding the dating concept” is what you want?

There was the man (I have blocked his name) who I met when I lived in Winnipeg. He worked shift work, as did I and we arranged to meet one morning after we finished night shifts. He was going to take me out for breakfast. It actually sounded promising, and well maybe being a shift worker himself, he would “get” me and my crazy hours. I went home, showered, put on clean clothes, made myself presentable for an 8 am date.

Well he picked me up in 1970’s vintage bondo and burnt orange Chevy truck, (no heat at all, but there were a lot of tools and garbage in the truck to compensate, or possibly insulate) wearing greasy stinky coveralls. We drove around I think in St Boniface looking for this tiny hole in the wall breakfast place, kind of a dive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean bad food. Sometimes dives have the best brekkies. When we finally found it his first comment was “Here we are, cheapest breakfast in town!”

If I remember the food was ok, hashbrowns, bacon, eggs, rye toast, but nothing spectacular. That didn’t matter, but the topic of conversation was what bothered me. His hobby was “buying and selling” which to me triggers some alarm bells, based on previous bad dates/bad boyfriends. "

“So you fix up cars and buy and sell?”
“Oh no nothing like that.”

He then spent the rest of the meal telling about his dumpster diving habit, taking things out of the garbage and selling them at second hand stores. Ebay was still relatively new at the time (98 or 99) and I don’t think he was selling on there yet. Im sure it is his best friend now-adays. It wasn’t the buying /selling second hand items, it was the garbage-picking that bugged me. Also, I could do without blow-by-blow descriptions of what he found where and sold for how much. I remember just tuning out and timing how long it took before I said a word. I think at one point 9 minutes elapsed between my saying a single word. First last only date with this dude.

Does Stranger=Sheldon?

(That’s at least the voice I used in my head when reading the OP.)

Dont settle for less, sane.

Stranger’s been bogarting the joint again.

Maybe your problem isn’t with the date, but with the asking-out phase. When you ask women out, how well do you know them? Do you talk to them enough to find out if they’re interesting and if you maybe have some things in common? If you’re asking out random women that you don’t know anything about, there’s a really good chance that your personalities won’t mesh and you won’t have anything to talk about.

Try a little conversation and meet for coffee instead of a meal, and you won’t be stuck for so long if it fizzles.

It seems my objective here was misinterpreted, which is, admittedly, on par for threads that I initiate. My intention was not to solicit advice, of which I have received a considerable portion over the years, some good, some bad, and some staggeringly awful, but rather to engage in a fairly lighthearted and aimless dialogue about a very irritating and often painful subject, largely for my own amusement and assurance that it is not, in fact, just myself who has grave difficulties with this basic social custom.


What is the upshot of all this advice you’ve received? I mean you’re one of the smartest people on the board, and with the exception of your occasional tendency to engage in unprotected lex you seem like a reasonable, very erudite person. Why do you think you remain unfuckable at this point?

Since you are not seeking advice (which I am unqualified to provide anyway), I can simply let you know that you are not alone. I too have difficulties with this basic social custom.

And by “difficulties with this basic social custom” I mean “an unnatural propensity toward awkward and uncomfortable experiences with individuals in whom I have no interest and/or who have no interest in me”.

I spend a fair amount of time trying to reach the end of the internet and in doing so, have come across a few online dating services. I’ve actually paid money to communicate with men. That statement, as I see it in print, is as disappointing as the conversations in which I found myself. Of course, I heard from men who self-identified as “NeedyMommasBoy” and “LuvtoEatP*ssy”. Neuroses are generally not immediate dealbreakers for me, but purposeful misspellings of words like “love” as “luv” are simply unacceptable.

I think I’ve just figured it why I’m still single.

My assessment of my own difficulties comes from direct, empirical evidence that I am, in fact, enjoying not even a suitable minimum of success in the field of romantic relations. I personally think that I am, if I may borrow your crude terminology, eminently fuckable, being gainfully employed, unencumbered by crippling financial, emotional, or substance abuse problems, having no past record of criminal behavior or unwarranted physical violence, in good health and reasonable (if not ideal) condition, having a fairly diverse number of outside interests that don’t involve sitting in front of the televisor watching grown men in spandex fondling each other, being both capable and willing to write and speak in complete sentences, willing to make decisions and express opinions without being overbearing or defensive in the case of disagreement, possessing a good ‘listening face’, et cetera.

However, the segment of the population of whom I am sufficiently enamored to expend time, money, and the risk of a bruised ego seems to be universally in agreement of my undesirability to be anything more than a “nice guy,” if that. Indeed, it has been my experience that I am such an amiable fellow that at least half of the small number of women who will even agree to a brief exchange over coffee or drinks find themselves unable to cope with the aura of benevolence I unconsciously project and absent themselves to indulge in the hygiene maintenance activity of their choice. (I am assuming this to be the case, as it is at least marginally more palatable than assuming I am just not at the top of the list of numerous candidates for a particular evening.)

As for the advice I’ve received: setting aside the obvious advice for the socially unnuanced, like “Talk to girls,” “Brush your teeth,” and “Don’t engage in protracted discussions about the relative penetration of the handgun rounds in 10% ballistic gelatin until you’ve assessed her personal preference of defensive caliber,” the main thrust of advice has fallen into two equally inapplicable camps; to wit, to iteratively expand the field of candidates until I come across a woman who shows some basic interest in me, even if she is an obese, chain-smoking, marginally-employed mother of four children under the age of eight whose primary self-identification is “not a reedr, goud in bed, loking 4 a man hoo dont lie 2 me,” and to tone back the flavor of my humor and personal enthusiasms from a double scoop of rocky road and persimmon-pistachio nut in a mint-glazed waffle cone to vanilla with a drizzle of milk chocolate in one of those Styrofoam-like cones that turn into floppy cardboard before you eat down to the base.

The former advice might be applicable if my preferences were limited to Eastern European supermodels with violet eyes, but in fact my criteria are in no way at the far extrema of the population at large or represent a very narrowly focused category of exotic women; I think it not unreasonable that I should pair up with someone who shares some kind of basic interest in some activity or enthusiasm, and of whom I do not need to close my eyes and envision another in order to develop some semblance of romantic attraction. And regarding the latter, any woman who can’t engage in a modest and good-natured amount of whimsical banter just isn’t going to hold much enthusiasm for me, even if she does look like the spitting image of an Avengers-era Diana Rigg. I’m not expecting Mamet-esque exchanges of warped idiom or dialogue ripped from a Raymond Chandler novel, just a basic give-and-take dry wit that I enjoy with any number of friends and coworkers.

I guess this all comes across as pretty bitter, which I suppose that I am, despite my best efforts to deal with this situation with humor, resignation, and resilience. I would be the first to admit that many aspects of my upbringing and some innate parts of my personality bring challenge to any long term relationship, and that my efforts to mitigate these, while enthusiastic and fruitful, still leave me at some point below the optimum mate stage. Certainly I am not stunningly handsome, perfectly charming, and encumbered only with a problematic excess of wealth, but I find my own view of myself inconsistent with being an invisible, dispensable, to be avoided at all costs possibility for romantic engagement; which of course means that my own view is skewed by a lack of proper perspective, and that I should be willing to take whatever comes my way as being all that I deserve rather than aspiring to being with someone I actually find attractive and interesting. But that is a step down I just don’t want to take. I’ve been there, and didn’t like who I had to be to live with that, nor how I treated others in order to maintain that position.

Thus endeth the monologue.


Dating is indeed confusing and painful. On the rare occasions when I come across someone who is not boring or a self-obsessed jerk, I find it nearly impossible to make my intentions known. I mean, really, do you just go up and say “Hey, you’re cute, let’s go out”? Recently I’ve gained a bit more confidence in my own date-ability, and I can ask someone to go out, but not on a date, if it makes sense.

There’s one person who I see pretty much every weekday for a morning class, and I’ve got a terrible crush. He’s cute, surprisingly smart, talented, sweet as hell, easygoing…I could go on. I like him a lot and I feel as if we’d have fun if we were dating. Early on in the semester, I asked him to lunch, and we’ve been out to eat maybe a dozen times. We always find something to talk about, we have a lot in common, we make each other laugh. The only thing is, these aren’t really dates; it’s more like two friends going out and having a good time. I’m happy to do just that, of course; it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t see us together. How do I know how he feels about me, though? Maybe he’s going through the same thing I am; feeling some kind of attraction but not knowing how to go and make something happen.

I apologize for blathering; Stranger, if I’m being selfish by moving in on your thread’s territory and asking for help, I’m sorry about that as well.

Stranger, how old are you, if it’s not impolite to ask?

No, your post is actually the exact sort of response I was hoping to see.

Old enough that I should have figured this out long ago, young enough that it is a problem of not just academic interest. Oh, and a prime number.


Well, then, the important context framework for sharing is the evolutionary framework in which Earthlings operate. Nature wants us to think that love will be wonderful. Note that she doesn’t care if we think it is, she only cares that we think it will be.

As for advice, I could only have offered some muttered observations about how engaging hobbies can be.

Well, have you given up hope? I haven’t, and I probably should have, so take heart. And, of course, don’t modify your expectations unless they’re unrealistic. I’m working on this one too!

I keep giving up hope but find that it flies right back in my face like a bucket of slop thrown into the wind.


I can relate, although I couldn’t have expressed the sentiment so eloquently!