The Official Dating Thread

This is NOT a thread for Dopers to hook up with each other, but rather a thread for Dopers to share their recent experiences, questions, turmoils, and battle scarrs picked up from dating.

21 year old introverted male here.

Over the pat few months I’ve scourged the Earth for every article, book, website, and message board I could find on picking up, socializing with, and dating women. And the information I’ve come across has helped a helluva lot. My dating has quadroupled and I’m now very comfortable approaching random strangers and in cafes and asking if they would like some company. For the past two months I’ve had about a date a week. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about people in general. The three biggest lessons learned so far being:

  1. What people say they want and what they respond to are two ENTIRELY different things.

  2. Even if a girl is throwing herself at you, you still have to know how to catch. This means knowing how to read body language, tone of voice, and certain social skills I’m still trying to aquire. Earlier this month I had a gorgeous redhead throwing every signal my way and I didn’t even know it until she left and my coworkers gave me hell over it.

  3. There’s a certain process you must go through to engage the interest of a girl. Some people call this a mating ritual, some people call it a game (and sometimes it is), and still some people call it a test. I don’t know what the hell it is, but it’s quite evident that most girls are very sensitive to whether or not a man makes it through the process in one piece, or if it strips the guy of every piece of armor he has and exposes his every insecurity, vulneribility, and his small, frail body. It is an EXTREMELY rare case when a girl finds me attractive, and maintains that attraction, for having desirable physcial traits and a common set of interests. A girl might find me interesting, but rarely so interesting that coming on a smidge too storng, not strong enough, or making a strange joke can’t turn her right off and have her proppeling herself away from me into the stratosphere

But regardless of whatever the hell “this” is, it’s important not to become angry about what turns them on or off. They have no more control over what flips their switches than I do. I can work on my social skills. I have that luxury. Most girls can’t work on, oh say, getting wider hips or larger breasts.

I’ve been using Craigslist lately and have some pretty gosh darned good responses. I post my personal once a week and typically get 3-7 responses each time. Many times girls write in to do nothing more than tell me what a wonderful personal I have. It’s good for the ego.

Sometimes they write in to praise my personal, and express interest…then they drop it a moment later for no apparent reason. Sometimes they do this after writing me a page or two email. No joke. It’s totally mind boggling.

And holy crap, isn’t chemistry such a fickle thing? I keep meeting all these people, and if they like me I don’t like them. If I like them, they don’t like me. And sometimes me and the girl have everything in common. We go on a second date and the planets align, a gopher ceases to be scared of his shadow, and somewhere in the distance a pirate and a ninja shake hands…and regardless of this, you don’t freaking like each other! Then you’re whisked back in time where you’re Wyatt Earp at the Let’s Just be Friends Corral.

I feel confident, self assured, and attractive. I also feel totally lost.

The whole whole process is like blowing a bubble. Blow too hard, it pops. Blow not hard enough, it pops before it becomes anything too big. Blow just right…maybe. I really wish it wasn’t such a delicate process.

I was getting along real well with one girl I was went out with three times. I’m not feeling any romantic chemistry, but we do enjoy each other’s company. So last time we meet she says she’s going to call me. She doesn’t call. I let five days go by and I call her to ask if she’d like to see a movie that night. She told me she was hanging out with someone else and would call me back. Ok, whatever. She doesn’t. I’m willing to just leave it at that, but a few days after that, she sends me an email asking me what I’ve been up to. I tell her in a friendly mild mannered tone that I’m waiting for those two phone calls, and she should call me so I could tell her about a 300 foot drop I took at one of our local attractions. It’s been three days. She’s not calling.

And you know what? At this point I really just want to know how to get my book back. If anyone could tell me how to do it wihtout pissing her off, I’ll buy you a snowcone.

Another thing: What the hell do you tell a girl when she asks “what have you been up to?” when you’ve been dating around? I don’t have anything exclusive with anyone, but I’ve been led to believe talking about dating other girls gets negative reactions. I don’t want to sound boring either by saying “Ugh…nothin’”.

I’ve read a thousand times that the guy ALWAYS pays for the date, and that going Dutch is frowned upon. I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if the results that come from making a girl pay her own way haven’t been favorable. On the other hand, paying for a girl just seems to violently smother attraction. Even if we’re just stopping at the Pita Pit. I used to make girls pay for themselves if I was more interested in them as friends. Now I pay for them.

Which brings me up to my next delima…I have a date tomorrow. Do I pay? Does she expect it? I don’t give a rats ass if the money is spent or not, I just want to leave a good impression. I just don’t know anymore. This whole experience of mine has demolished old rules and built new ones for myself.

I don’t know…and I don’t know.

That’s my piece. I’m done until at least my date tomorrow, but I’m interested in reading what other people have to say for themselves.

Re the paying thing, in general if it’s your first date with the girl, you pay. Don’t let her pay anything if she offers, YOU pay. Thereafter, if you ask her out to dinner, expect to pay. If she offers, it’s okay to allow her to help with the bill, but don’t ask her to. Or if you establish a relationship with her, you could set up a schedule, where she pays for every 3rd or 4th meal or something like that.

Re the dating thing, you’ve described it pretty well for a 21-year-old. Just wait until you’re 39 and going through all this, though hopefully you won’t be. You get to the point where you’re a)set in your ways and getting moreso every year and b)getting tired of doing the dance and more and more comfortable at home and by yourself. But then once in a while that one keeper comes along and makes your heart sing, and then it’s worth it. Or not.

How about, “I’ve been doing whatever I damn well please, Woman!” Sure you have to time it just right, and say it with the correct inflection, but if you do both, she’s yours.

When I pursue people, they don’t seem to respond. When I sit back, just coolly being myself, in a sort of quietly available baseline state, they freaking beat down my door. You have no idea how much this hurts my head. I’m going with it, though. I have two dates with two different guys coming up. I may even have fun on these dates if I can keep from constantly boggling about it.

Probably one of my biggest irritants on the dating scene - and I find my dates mostly through - is that very few guys are interested in “getting to know you” emails.

I like email. It’s protective. It’s relatively anonymous. I can answer it when I have time. I can put plenty of thought into what I’m going to say. I can carry on long conversations with very little effort.

I don’t like chat programs. Mostly because if I’m talking with someone, I give the conversation my full attention and would appreciate theirs in turn. Instead, what I get is a delay of 5-6 minutes between each response, and it’s not because they were typing the whole time. Plus, the spelling and grammar errors that irk me so are much more prevalent in chatting. I suppose the “real time” quality of it leads people to believe they don’t have to try so hard.

I don’t like talking on the phone with someone I don’t know. First, I’m paranoid that once they have my phone number, they’ll call it endlessly. Second, I hate my phone, and my phone hates me. This has been true of every single cell phone I’ve ever owned. Third, I really want to know more about this person so I can have an in-depth conversation as opposed to the awkward, pause filled empty air time.

I went on a coffee date yesterday to meet a guy off He didn’t like talking over email, which should have been my first clue. It was twenty miles away, because he was in the mid-cities, and I’m in the far northeast corner of Dallas. But still, his profile was interesting, and his pictures were nice.

Dull as dish-water. It didn’t help that I was feeling pretty gross thanks to a leftover cold. Didn’t help that I’d inadvertently overdressed (I had been to a memorial service that morning and only had time to swap my jacket). What really didn’t help was that he would sit there and talk for. ever. Without actually saying anything. He relied on the old “I’m the kind of guy who” standard. He stated he was funny without ever saying anything funny.

He had, so far as I could tell, no opinions, no interests, no hobbies, no activities, and no insight. Usually, I’ll do my best to add to a conversation, maybe throw a few topics in, but I was so tired and yucky feeling, the best I could do was sit there with glazed eyes and nod again.

He wants to see me again.

This is a bad sign.

Oh, yes, I do not want to meet someone immediately if it’s from a dating site. I just can’t get that comfortable with someone that quickly.

I *do * want to meet someone almost immediately. A few informative emails and maybe an IM or two, but you’re right about the aggravations of IM, and again you’re right about the phone calls. A lot of men don’t seem to understand why I don’t want to talk to them on the phone having never met them. It’s just too intimate an act without having met. But I have a very active imagination, and I give people the benefit of the doubt, and after a few emails and/or IMs, I can build up a fantasy of how they are and/or how we will click together, and then when you meet after that it’s usually a letdown. So I’d just rather meet asap and see if we click before I invest a lot of time and talk online.

How many do you consider a few? When I say immediately, I mean the first time the guy talks to me, he wants to arrange a meeting. Sorry, but no matter how wonderful the man seems, I am simply not comfortable doing that.

And I hear ya on the boring thing. I recently met a guy on eharmony- he’s from Phoenix and came down to take me to dinner. Very nice, normal, good job, practical, every mother’s dream, probably… but so goddamn boring I was in danger of slipping into a coma. How have you lived for 40 years without developing a personality, a joke or two, a few stories… something??!

Ideally there would be say, 5 emails exchanging basic info on personalities, lifestyle, goals, etc. Then maybe 3 or 4 or so short (20-30 minute) IM sessions, but only if he’s a fast reader and typer and it goes quickly and smoothly. If he’s not, I’ll give up on the IMing and make a plan to meet. Maybe all told, 2-3 weeks of communicating every few days before the meet.

I’d rather meet someone after one good online convo, instead of drawing it out. Much less time and energy wasted if it turns out we’re not suitable in person for whatever reason. Plus, there is less of an opportunity for unreasonable expectations to be built up if you meet sooner rather than later.

Ah, that’s what I have in mind as well.

Yikes, I wouldn’t say 3 weeks meets my definiation of “almost immediately.” When I first starting dating again around 4 years ago, I found that most women I met onthe Internet really wanted to move it along to either a phone call or a meeting after a few days of e-mailing at most. In fact, I used to frequently see profiles on dating sites that explicitly said “I’m not looking for an e-mail buddy.” My impression was that a lot of dudes wanted to keep up the e-mail and put off the actual meeting forever. Because, I don’t know, they weren’t nearly as tall or funny or nonboring as their profiles claimed.

This was maybe the thing that I found trickiest at the beginning – how to keep the meeting-up and the first few dates within her comfort zone without seeming indecisive or wimpy. A few women have to have the first date be a coffee date or drinks in a bar – something quickly exited if need be and in a public place. If a woman suggested dinner for a first, I assumed she was comfortable with that. One woman (after a 90-minute phone call) insisited that I meet her to go swimming at what turned out to be a pretty remote lake. (Neither of us were serial killers, as it turned out). It was totally fun, but I would never suggest that to a woman for a first date.

You can’t really ask someone right out – “So what’s your comfort zone here? Three more phone calls and then we’ll meet in a café across the street from a police precinct? And while I’m asking, do you expect some kind of a kiss on the first date if I’m not a total bore, of too forward? And after what numerical date will you expect there to be sex, ideally?” My first Internet date (via Nerve) told me after the first date that she didn’t want a kiss while it was still in the casual stage; after we got gone on 9 perfectly chaste dates, I had all kinds of people (men and women) assuring me that if she hadn’t dragged me into bed on the third/fifth/whateverth date that she was not interested. She dragged me into bed on the tenth date. So other people’s rules of thumb may not come in handy.

I’m coming up on a year of not dating at all, and I’m putting off any further incursions until the spring at least. Besides being swamped with remodeling my house, I don’t think my attitude is quite right for it – you have to be in a very positive place (to indulge in a bit of hippie-speak) to deal with that much offhanded rejection, both getting and dishing out. Plus I’m over 40, divorced, I have a child, and I don’t want any more children – that’s a lot of strikes to have against me before I even start. I did, however, have mostly a pretty good time doing the Internet thing the last time around. Then again, I was living across the river from Manhattan and now I am in the sticks, more or less. When I look on Nerve under my current Zip code, the ghostly no-photo-and-no-activity-for-3-months people begin halfway down the first page. seems to have more local results, but they’re pretty drab compared to all the funky smarty-pantses on Nerve. I haven’t looked at any other sites.

Anyway, I have 6 months to work on not being boring and to back up my “funny” with some actual funny.


As for me, no luck since August, but things are looking up.

I just started the online dating thing for the first time ever. Haven’t dated for about a year. I’ve got a profile up on OkCupid, but I’m very nervous about initiating contact with anyone. I feel like I should be going out and hitting the bars at least a couple of times a month, but I a. have a lot of social anxiety and b. am a recovering alcoholic, so the sitting around sipping an O’Doul’s and hoping someone makes eye contact isn’t really motivating me to get out there.

How do you online daters handle sending that first message? Any tricks, tips or advice?

Read their profile thoroughly. Send them a message about something you noticed there that was interesting. And try not to get all up in arms if they don’t message you back; it’s their loss. Also, since you’re on OKCupid, reading people’s journals can be a fun way of seeing what they are like, more than just their profile. I have a date coming up with a guy who started reading my journal entries, liked them, and told me so, which was how we started talking.

Just remember that sometimes you have to send a lot of messages to find someone who is both interesting and will write back, and don’t stop trying to find offline ways of meeting people.

Dopers, everything I’ve learned about online dating in my two years of doing it is boiled down into this post. It’s written for guys, and by a guy, but I imagine women can draw from my bounty of experience as well.

Thanks for the link, JoeSki, it really was very helpful and informative. Maybe you should start an ‘Ask the Online Dater Thread’ (or has that been done before?).

So Telperien, should I start using the journal there? I’ll have to look around a little more and see what it’s like, I’ve never done Live Journal or anything like that, and I’m not that comfortable putting personal stuff online yet…silly, I know, I’m trying to get over it.

Only if you feel comfortable. I use mine a lot but I pretty much just post things there that I don’t mind if people comment on. It’s an interesting way for people to get to know you. Some people don’t do anything with theirs but gripe about the match questions, so you could do that. I’ll link you to mine if you’d like. Try not to laugh at me too much. :smiley:

I don’t think it’s silly to be uncomfortable putting personal stuff online. I think a lot of people would do well to be a bit more cautious.

My life is constant social frustration with the opposite sex. Right now I teach in a redneck community where most people look good but are married. To make matters worse every girl here marries a variation of red green…(canadian joke). Anyways in my two years here I have progressed from optimistic, to angry, to depressed, to homesick, to ambivilent, to my current stage of sarcastic. I am young, have a career, healthy, a freaking MUSICIAN, and am quite social. I try to reach out and be friendly only to have the B-Bomb (boyfriend) drop in every conversation. Even if they don’t have a boyfriend they begin to talk about their prospective boyfriends like I am Charlie Brown. Yes I am the big brother that every girl never had. Why do women not like me?..I don’t know…I think the heavens designed them specifically to taunt me with their beauty while using them to destroy my faith in common sense. The chew me up and spit me out…then they stomp on my self-esteem and throw it in the crapper. I seriously think the entire opposite sex has brain damage. Smart / nice guys finish last apparently.

So hows my dating life you ask?