It’s day 3 of the Captain Awkward Pledge Drive. Get weird, pretty little short film for a dollar! Try to spot Intern Paul in the back of the crowd scene at the end!
Everyone who has contributed so far should have received a Vimeo link to stream and download the movie. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Onto today’s letter:
Add this to the never ending stack of e-mails you get from the shy, awkward, nerdy guys who don’t know how to deal with women. I started reading your column after seeing it linked on another website, and I found your advice in the number of posts I’ve read to be quite good. The comments seem to be good to, so hurray for community! On to the problem.
I’m 23 and I have never had a girlfriend. In fact, I’ve never been on a date. This isn’t to say that I haven’t tried to ask girls out, they just always say no. In fact, I’ve been rejected about 100 times without any woman ever even viewing me as good enough for a first date. To say I have a problem with rejection would be like saying the Mariana Trench is kind of deep. I really want to date and experience that part of life, but I don’t know how to go about it. Each time I get rejected it makes me remember all the other rejections, and I feel absolutely crushed.
I have a lot of reasons why I would make a great boyfriend; however, I also have a number of things that make me insecure — I have a bit of acne for example. I see lots of beautiful women out on the street, but I am not at the point where I can approach them and start up a conversation out of nowhere. I am currently trying online dating, but it is a disaster; women won’t even respond to my messages. I cannot think of a worse feeling than writing a nice, witty message and being completely ignored. Sometimes I’ll see that they even looked at my profile, and they still won’t send me a polite “I just don’t think you’re the right guy for me, good luck though” message. I’ve received differing advice on how to approach online dating with half of the people telling me to not spend more than 30 seconds on any message because 99% of the women will never respond, and the other half saying I should write nice, thoughtful messages to maximize my response rate. So far, neither approach has worked. I got my profile critiqued, and I have been told that it is pretty good, yet I’m still not getting any responses! My profile picture isn’t great, but I rarely get my picture taken, and I don’t want to be one of those people with the self shot mirror pic. I’ve considered getting professional pictures taken but that seems over the top to me.
I try really hard to keep my chin up and focus on all my positive qualities, but it is extraordinarily difficult when I can’t even get a single woman to think, “He seems fun and nice, sure I’ll respond and see if this goes somewhere!” I have many friends that are women, and the only thing that they can suggest is that I need to feel more confident and less desperate. I try to fake the confidence and hide the desperation, but it isn’t going to go away until I can get a little affirmation that I’m attractive and worthy of dating. I know this should all come from within, but I’m a nerd and my statistics don’t look good. It is a challenge to feel confident and not desperate when the data indicates that the problem is me and the ticking of the clock grows ever louder in my mind. I’ve considered PUA stuff, and not being concerned about how women feel about me approaching them, hitting on them, and talking to them but that just isn’t me. I don’t want to be a pushy, aggressive creep — I don’t think I could be if I wanted to — but I need to be able to get some success, and I don’t know what to do. No one I know is having the trouble I’m having with dating, and the more failure I have the more I want to curl up in a ball in the corner and cry. Please help!
Statistics are Valuable Except-in Mating Examples
I feel like this is a well-covered topic here, so you’re in luck.
First, it’s a good sign that you have female friends and that you’re rejecting PUA stuff. Yay!
Second, your description of “lots of beautiful women on the street” makes me picture a movie montage where you look at all of them and think about how you are nervous and can’t have them or even go up and talk to them and it’s kind of sad.
You have women friends, so you know there are shy, awkward women like you. And people who definitely made it through the high school college years without finding romance or a sexual connection and who are figuring this all out as adults, like you. And some who don’t feel on top of their mojo like you. And some who are throwing themselves into trying to date like you are and having no luck. Or doing hilarious, brave, awesome things and coming back and telling us about it. Everyone has something they are insecure about – could be bad teeth, could be their Bruce Wayne-like pile o’ money, could be getting over an old relationship, could be acne (which I also suffer from as an adult. Want to talk dermatology?). While we’re here, this is probably the most straightforward, basic advice on dating I am capable of producing, and here is Commander Logic’s guide to Geek Relationship Fallacies.
That’s it. That’s all of the advice. Try to be a bit more confident. Even if you don’t feel confident, don’t vomit your insecurities all over people. Keep trying to meet more people, and some of them will be maybe-friends and some of them will be maybe-romantic partners. Don’t act entitled or cling too tightly when you do make a connection. It will take time and patience and a lot of it is based on luck. Rejection/lack of connection is the default setting, and actual connection is rare. You can’t really control whether someone will like you, so stop setting other people up as someone who has magic powers to accept and reject you and focus on your own feelings about whether you like them. Try to enjoy yourself and spend time only with people who are as cool as your friends.
And remember, each person you approach is a new person – she’s not responsible for all the other rejections. She can’t see all the other rejections and doesn’t know about them unless you project insecurity all over her and introduce her to your shame monster. So even if you don’t feel like this is true, each conversation/message/crush is a totally fresh start and the more you treat it that way the more successful and happier you’ll be. Your brain is being a jerk to you when it says “This will be like all the other times, you’ll see.”
So I’m going to give you two more pieces of advice that don’t usually crop up in the dating threads.
1. Seek out women’s stories & creative work. Take 6 months of your life and watch movies made by women, read books by women, read comics by women, read blogs by women, listen to music made by women. After the 6 months are up, keep reading work by women when and as you find it interesting, but for those 6 months really make it your project to get to know as many women’s stories and perspectives as you can. Ask your bevy of female friends for suggestions. I don’t know if or why this will work, I’m just having a thought that maybe it will help you divorce the idea of women & romance & dating & rejection & insecurity in an interesting, cool, fun way and feel like you’re learning something new. You may not like certain stuff, and I don’t want you to go to the bookstore and say “Give me Twilight and everything with a pink cover and some shoes on it!” Read the good stuff and have fun with it.
2. Maybe no one will ever love you or desire you. Maybe that’s not going to happen for you.
(Probably it will! But maybe not).
If you knew that was a real possibility, what would you do with your life to make it as awesome and happy and fulfilling as possible? What kind of time would you invest into your friendships, family, community? What hobbies and activities would you pursue to make yourself feel more connected and less lonely? What kind of care would you take with yourself in terms of exercise and eating good food and reading good books and constantly learning and growing and making yourself interesting and happy? How would you go after your dreams? How would you approach your career and work to become truly great at something?
Cool. Go do that stuff. Stop sending OK Cupid messages into the void for a while (OK Cupid will be there when and if you want it again). Remove the pressure to be a guy who “approaches women” from your life for a while. See who you meet when you are in pursuit of becoming your most awesome and happy self. It will probably take a while and dumb random luck will be a factor.
Love is awesome and worth having and worth seeking. You’re not stupid for wanting it. It’s just…well…”Mama” pretty much said it all here: