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#656: How can I ask my friends to do some matchmaking on my behalf?

Hi Captain,

I am a single man who, after the end of my last relationship, took a
few years out of the dating scene to really rethink what I want out of
my love life and learn to be happy with myself. (For context, I’m 32,
my divorce was 5 years ago.) I feel ready to come back onto the
market, but I’m finding it hard to meet single women who actually
inspire my interest. I’ve tried online dating and singles events, but
they don’t really work for me.

Far from sitting idle, I have become more and more active in the past
couple of years about pursuing my hobbies and interests, which has
helped me extensively expand my social circle. However, it seems that
every time the circle grows, the women I meet are either happily
attached, gay, or just folk I’d rather have as platonic friends than
romantic partners. I’m thrilled to make all these great new friends,
of course, but there’s more I want out of life than my platonic
friends can give me.

Cutting back on my hobbies and going to more singles events would be a
false economy; I’m at least making new friends through hobby events,
whereas singles events have given me nothing. At the same time, I
don’t have time to cram in even more regular social activities – not
without ending up with such a busy schedule of commitments and
responsibilities that there isn’t actually space for a relationship in
my life anyway.

This being the case, I’m thinking about outsourcing the problem by
asking trusted friends to try and introduce me to single friends of
theirs. Since I’ve put in the work to expand my social world in the
first place, why not enjoy the benefits of that expansion? Plus I’d be
more confident making contact with someone a friend has recommended
than a total stranger.

That said, how do I:
– broach the subject in a way which makes it clear that this is a
serious request I am making of my friends without sounding needy and
pathetic?
– make it clear that if people don’t want to play Cupid for me we’re still cool?
– make the point that I’m not up for “blind dates”? (I’d like to know
a bit about the person in question before meeting them so I can
politely decline suggested matches which clearly aren’t going to
work.)

Yours,

The Last Turkey In the Shop, UK

Dear Turkey:

I have thoughts! on your question.

Say only nice things about yourself. Stop calling yourself a turkey or any other clever and self-deprecating phrases about being the only single person out there. I know you were making a joke, but if you make those jokes around other people, stop.

You’re already doing a lot of the right stuff. I think your instincts are good to stick with your hobbies in meeting more people. Are you also reading books, etc. by women?

Actual matchmaking services exist.  Is it possible to work with a professional matchmaker where you are? My friend at the link is based in Toronto, but is there someone nearby who does this?

Start small. I think you should start with one friend, someone who hosts a lot of things and seems to enjoy introducing people to each other, rather than develop a system for asking multiple friends at the same time. And then put the request to that person as directly as possible, without hedging or apologizing or invoking the words “needy” or “pathetic.” Some people LOVE to be matchmakers and LOVE to be consulted about things like this. Possible script: “I’ve noticed how great you are at hosting and bringing people together. I’m feeling a bit stalled lately with efforts to meet women to date. Would you ever be willing to set me up on a date with a single friend of yours? Something casual, just getting a drink, no pressure?[Or, ‘Can you think of any great single women in your circle who might enjoy coming to [event]?’] You know so many wonderful people, and I trust your taste and judgment.”

You don’t have to front-load the “IT’S TOTALLY OKAY IF YOU DON’T, THOUGH.” Just ask the question, and if they say no, show them that you are fine with it. “Please, don’t worry about it! I thought it worth asking, since I trust your judgment so much, but there is no pressure at all. Thank you for thinking about it.”

Change your attitude to “Blind dates, fuck yeah!” In all probability, your matchmaking friend will run a name or names by you ahead of time without you having to make that clear from the get-go. They will feel some pressure to get this right, and they won’t want to set you up with someone you probably won’t like. However, if your friend or friends actually suggest someone for you, I strongly suggest that you go on one date with every single person they suggest. Exceptions: This person is an ex of yours, a family member of an ex of yours, this person is known to be a violent criminal. Otherwise? Go have one drink and smile and do your best to have a nice time.

You asked people to do this because you want their taste and judgment on your side, so go with it. This isn’t a service where someone is working for you by gathering potential matches, and this isn’t online dating where you can evaluate photos & interests ahead of time, this is a gift from a friend and a situation where you are giving up a bit of control in exchange for meeting someone new. Even if they get it hilariously wrong, you will end up with stories to tell. I think you should be very picky about who you go on second or third dates with, but I don’t think you should be picky about blind dates. First dates aren’t contracts or life sentences and the only way to “fail” at one is to not show up or to be an asshole. Either embrace the chaos, surprise, and mystery, or don’t do this at all.

If someone is consistently setting you up with mismatches, thank them and tell them that their kind efforts have given you the mojo you needed to go back to trying it on your own.

Make sure your follow-up is impeccable. You can’t just ghost here.

“Friend, thank you so much, it was wonderful meeting your friend. I don’t think she and I clicked, but I really appreciate both you and she making the effort.” Don’t go into details as to why you didn’t click, lest you invoke adages about Gift Horses, Mouths. Nobody needs that.

“[Date], I enjoyed meeting you. Sadly, I don’t think we clicked, but I really appreciated your willingness to come out to meet a total stranger” +  (some specific compliment about something you talked about – for instance “Thanks for recommending X author, I will be sure to check out their work.”) You never know if your date will turn into a friend who has a friend who would be perfect for you.

Good luck out there.

 Comments closed Feb 8, thank you. 

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156 comments
  1. Linden said:

    LW, you’re not alone with your dating difficulties. All the men I’ve met since I became single again or that my friends know are married, gay, too old or young for me, or poly, and I’m not interested in that. I’ve given up on the project for the time being, having concluded that the only way I’m going to meet someone at this point is if I move to a different locale, which I plan on doing in the next year or two. Don’t think you’re the only one.

    • Aurora said:

      So agreed on this one. Sometimes you really are just out of luck in your area, especially if you live in a small town or secluded suburban enclave kind of area. Have you tried areas that are within reasonable travel range but just aren’t in your immediate vicinity?

      • Cactus said:

        I also agree on this one. When I did online dating, everyone who I went out with more than once had just recently moved to my area within the last year or two from several states away. When my soon-to-be-husband and I met, we lived almost 500 miles apart. I don’t know what it was, but I was NOT clicking with people who were actually originally from my hometown.

  2. veeeeee said:

    This is wonderful advice, Cap! I’m really glad you went into why blind dates can be good things. I have been on many, and while most of them didn’t pan out, I gained a lot of knowledge about dating and myself from them, and was thus better prepared to find someone I did click with!

    • Admiral Backward said:

      This is a really good point — going on dates is valuable experience even if you never see your date again.

      • minuteye said:

        Indeed! The experience of going on bad dates made it much easier for me to tell when a date was genuinely going well.

  3. MK said:

    LW, there is one aspect of the situation that puzzles me: you say that your friends have introduced to single women interested in your gender, but they are ones who “I’d rather have as platonic friends than romantic partners”. So, it seems to me that your friends have done what you plan to ask them to do to some extent. It might even be worth considering that those introductions were in fact sublte, low-pressure attempts at matchmaking.

    • Best-Turkey said:

      Letter-Writer here. I’m not sure where you are reading this; I mention that I’ve met new people through my hobbies, but I haven’t been specifically introduced to new people by my friends so much as I’ve happened to expand my friendship group by myself, or happened to be tagging along with friends when they met new people.

      I am pretty sure no subtle, low-pressure attempts at matchmaking have been going on – none of the new encounters I’ve had have been the sort of thing that a third party could have deliberately planned in advance unless we’re talking Matrix-like levels of manipulation and control.

      • Jenna said:

        My late husband and I were set up, but, the initial meet was a birthday party that we both happened to be invited to, separately, by the birthday girl. When we seemed to be hitting it off at the party, THEN she made it more blatant, by suggesting that we drive together to X event a couple weekends after.

  4. Best-Turkey said:

    Letter-writer here. Thanks for the fast response, I’ll make sure to take all of this to heart. (Including reading books by female authors – I’ve never had a problem with that myself but I’ll take any excuse to tackle my Ursula Le Guin/Andre Norton backlog.)

    You are probably right that I am probably being too nervous about blind dates recommended by trusted friends. Come to think of it, if I start this process with one trusted friend anyway then I can select whoever’s judgement I trust the most anyway, so that works quite well.

    I’ve looked into matchmaking services in my area. The prices quoted are *enormous* – I literally can’t find any that charge less than ten times what your Toronto friend asks, where I can find quotes at all (and that’s at the more reasonable end of the market – I can point you to places which charge over *100* times your friend’s asking price). I suspect the local market is distorted horribly by the presence of large numbers of lonely investment bankers or something.

    On the whole, getting a friend to help sounds more fun, and will mean I can actually afford to take someone on a date in the first place, and even if it goes horribly the worst case scenario is I have a fun anecdote to share with my friend, so I think I’m confirmed in this course of action. Thanks once again for your help.

    • JenniferP said:

      You are so welcome! I think this is a great attitude to take.

      • eightysixed said:

        Captain – I have one question about the article regarding when the one date is well off the mark. A few years ago, a grad school class mate mentioned to me a friend that she thought I might connect with and wanted to know if I’d be open to a blind date.

        It was a big lesson learned in terms of questions worth asking pre-date, but while the date was a total misfire on my part – I think the guy got the impression that I was interested in seeing him again. Now, I will take full responsibility for not speaking up and saying directly “it was lovely to meet you, but I don’t see this going further” – but wonder particularly in the context of a friend set up what the best practice protocol is for a failed connection?

        • JenniferP said:

          From the post:

          “Make sure your follow-up is impeccable. You can’t just ghost here.

          “Friend, thank you so much, it was wonderful meeting your friend. I don’t think she and I clicked, but I really appreciate both you and she making the effort.” Don’t go into details as to why you didn’t click, lest you invoke adages about Gift Horses, Mouths. Nobody needs that.

          “[Date], I enjoyed meeting you. Sadly, I don’t think we clicked, but I really appreciated your willingness to come out to meet a total stranger” + (some specific compliment about something you talked about – for instance “Thanks for recommending X author, I will be sure to check out their work.”) You never know if your date will turn into a friend who has a friend who would be perfect for you.”

          i.e. Make sure you get in touch with the person and let them know what’s up. Your script, “It was lovely to meet you, but I don’t see this going further” is just fine.

    • You should just move to Toronto! We love British accents over here!(Like, a lot.)

      • I can vouch for this, having secured my own UK expat, and having listened to every telemarketer/bank rep/service rep flirt with him through the phone. 😛 He doesn’t get why. It’s been years, and I will never not find this amusing.

        (I also vividly recall a time when we had only just met, when he attempted to alter his vocabulary for my benefit, and I just went “Noooooooo, don’t stop saying “jumper”. Don’t ever stop saying “jumper”.”

    • Clementine Danger said:

      Best Turkey. Yes!

      I don’t have anything to add. I just wanted to say I love the username, and best luck in your dating endeavors! We’re rooting for you over here.

  5. duck-billed placelot said:

    Ok, two things I noticed: you’ve ‘extensively’ expanded your social circle to people who share (at least one of) your interests, but none of those women who are single have interested you. And two, you don’t want ‘blind dates,’ preferring to politely decline women if they ‘clearly aren’t going to work’. So you frequented places where, on paper, you would find women who would be good matches for you and found that they (so far) weren’t, but you want to veto women before you meet them on the grounds that you’ll know when it’s not going to work. Maybe you don’t know – maybe you can’t know if it’s going to work before you meet a person, particularly if you’ve been doing all the ‘right things’ and finding yourself uninspired.

    I think you should spend a little time thinking about why you haven’t been into these great women you’ve been meeting at your hobby/social events. Maybe your idea of what you like is not in sync with your libido right now (all the more reason to explore meeting different types of people). Maybe your current expectations of the kind of woman you should date don’t sync up with the image you’re presenting.* Maybe you’re a little nervous about jumping back into the dating pool with someone who frequents your favorite social events. In any case, try to figure it out, and in the meanwhile go on a bunch of ‘information gathering’ style dates with various people whom you otherwise might not, to see what makes your current self sit up and take notice

    *I hope it’s not this, but: 2 years of extensive social expansion and you’ve not met ANY available women you found cute/interesting/worth going on one date with? This is…surprising, unless you happen to be holding out for a girl who likes sweatpants AND miniskirts, loves cheeseburgers and (whatever your hobby of choice is), just woke up this way, and just really gets along better with guys. Are your expectations realistic/to be found in human women, I mean? Not the kind that will frame you for murder?

    • Phospher said:

      Seems kind of judgey. I don’t find anything weird about going that long without meeting anyone you’re attracted to who is also available. It is very easy to go into not one but several settings where everyone is great and the activity is wonderful, but there are six people in couples (two of whom you’d kind of go for if they were single, but ah well), one single person ten years younger than you, one thirty years older, one not attracted to your gender and one single who just doesn’t do it for you. The only reason I’ve met large numbers of people I was willing to go on one date with/who also wanted to go on one date with me in the last few years was online dating, which the OP doesn’t like. Without that I’d easily, EASILY go that long without encountering someone.

      • TO_Ont said:

        Oh, thank you for this comment.

      • Is there a counterpart to the Nopetopus*? Because what I need right now is a GIF of a Yestopus scrambling toward you with all the ‘yeses’ in the world.

        *http://tinyurl.com/ph58afa

      • Clementine Danger said:

        Yeah, I mean, availability + age range + matching sexual orientation + no past entanglements eliminates about 95% of the people I personally know if I were looking to date anyone. Granted, I haven’t got that expansive a social circle, but if I were looking to date someone I’d have to start from scratch too. And that easily takes years.

        Not that it’s not a good idea to check in with yourself every once in a while and reevaluate your wishes and needs, but I didn’t see anything in the letter that would point to this being an issue.

        • JenniferP said:

          Y’all are hitting on one of the reasons I am fighting to keep the Awkward Meet & Geeks as a singles event and not a general meetup. People may not hit it off with anyone That Way, but I’d like to make the pool a bit more conducive to that sort of thing.

          • Given the number of poly Awkwardeers, I have to ask: are these events *singles* only, or *legitimately availables* only? I understand that there will be some people who don’t want to date a person who is poly and has one or more current partners, but hopefully there’s some who would (especially if the other poly folk who are looking for someone right then are also there). It seems to be like any other quality which could cause some people to check the ticky box next to, “Nope, not for me, thanks!” and cause other people to go, “Hmm, that sounds pretty cool, actually.”

          • JenniferP said:

            We do not check relationship status when people come through the door. Poly + actively wanting to meet new people to date = just fine, work it out on a case-by-case basis to find people who are into it.

      • Best-Turkey said:

        That’s pretty much how it’s gone. It’s not for want of looking, and it isn’t for lack of engaging with people and talking to them, it’s just that in the process of getting to know new people either I’ve discovered that they aren’t available or interested (at which point I actively tamp down any expectations I had of more than friendship because I’m not a heel) or whatever flickering spark of romantic interest I may have had has cooled off and I’ve decided I just want to be friends with them *anyway*.

        My objections to blind dates mostly stemmed from not wanting to actually say “Yeah, I’ll go for a first date with this person” before the matchmaker in question has at least given me a sales pitch. Though in practice I can just ask for a sales pitch from my matchmaker anyway so it’s a minor quibble. By “Blind date” I very much meant “100% blind, like if you were going out with someone with an empty OKCupid profile and all you knew was their username and gender”.

        • eightysixed said:

          While I totally get the nervousness with a blind date – I just want to be a voice of encouragement that by picking your ‘matchmaker’ you’re actually putting yourself in a far more proactive position in regards to what kinds of dates you might want. While I wouldn’t get overly specific about what you’d consider a dream partner, if there’s a specific trait or feature that you’re really seeking – you get the chance to initiate that interest with your matchmaker.

          But yeah – after that, if it’s a friend of yours – you really do have to go on at least the initial date or dates offered. So I think a more productive way of thinking about it might be where you’re making the sales pitch to the match maker rather than the friend being sold.

      • Elsajeni said:

        I agree with you that it’s not weird or difficult to go a while, and socialize a lot, without meeting anyone who both is available and seems like a good dating prospect to you. But I also agree with duck-billed placelot that, if you find that that’s happening and you’re surprised and unhappy about it, it might be a good idea to run a reality check on your expectations re. who seems like a good dating prospect, as well as do some thinking about how ready you are to date and what you’re really looking for. There’s several people further down in comments sharing stories about how they had to readjust their own filters because the people they were attracted to kept turning out to be all wrong for them, or how they initially screened out someone who’s now their partner and turned out to be great for them — I don’t think it’s judgey or suggesting that the LW is doing anything wrong to say, hey, that’s a thing that happens, you sound like you’re trying to do a significant amount of pre-screening of potential dates, maybe it’s worth taking a second look at the filters you’re using and making sure they’re working for you.

        • Phospher said:

          No, I still think “not finding anyone is so very dot-dot-dot ~surprising that the only way I can explain it is that you’re expecting your partners to be fantasies and not human” is EXTREMELY judgey.

          I don’t see the OP, or anyone who’s been in OP’s position more than 5 minutes being surprised about it. And as for being unhappy about it, if you want to date then relative difficulty finding people you like is never going to be your favourite thing.

    • Anisoptera said:

      Well, it’s been 7 years of single life for me, and during that time I’ve not had more than a passing interest in people I’ve met who are also available. Hell I’ve not even been terribly interested in anyone unavailable. Unlike the LW this isn’t bugging me especially. But I don’t feel like it’s a sign of impossibly high standards or some other weirdness. I just haven’t met the right person.

      • MadDissector said:

        I was single until I was 31. Not that I wasn’t attractive for others or I wasn’t attracted to others, it’s just that it didn’t feel right, or I sucked at my timing, or I had to face the same issues as the LW: the person I liked was homosexual, already in a relationship, or too young or too old, or (once, only once I swear) it was one of my superiors and I was wise enough to write a big NOPE inside of my skull before things would go too far. Also, I need to interact and know well a person before I felt that I want something more, which complicates things, because most people showing an interest in me always ask me out too early (hence my bad timing).
        Finding someone is not that easy, but it’s too easy to accuse others of having “too high” standards. As I pointed out once to a rather judgemental friend who thought that she had a say in my love life, it is not that my standards are high (I could not define my standards to begin with), or that I am convinced that I deserve better: it’s just that I deserve happiness, as does the person that stands beside of me. If I would match with someone who doesn’t spark the right feeling for me (“lowering my standards”, her words), most probably I would make that person miserable, because I would be hating myself for just pretending. And I am not that scared of loneliness: I have been sentimentally alone for most part of my life.

        • Nanani said:

          That last line is beautiful :’)

          • MadDissector said:

            Glad you liked it! 😉

    • Jane said:

      I mean, it could also be an issue of LW’s activities of choice not attracting the sort of people he really has chemistry with. Exaggerated example: one of my favorite social activities is knitting group, which tends to attract . . . other women, of an age skewed toward 40. Not exactly my target demographic as a mid-20s hetero woman. 🙂

      A bit more relevantly (perhaps) I have studied at two different tech schools, which tend to be male-dominated. (Actually the first was evenly split, but the second was definitely mostly men.) Great, right? Men EVERYWHERE! Except that engineering schools (in my experience) tend to attract a certain blend of EXTREMELY-focused/shy/dogmatic/insecure/socially-inept/condescending young men (usually not all at once, though that does occur) that I have relatively low interest in. But the overall atmosphere of problem-solving and intellectual inquiry was awesome! So. Your ideal environment is not always populated by your ideal person.

      • I was a grad/doctoral student in the humanities for many years. I love the environment. I love my field. I love–platonically–my colleagues. I would rather bite my own toe off than date one. The idea that you will (or must!) want to fall in love someone who has the same consuming interest/s as you just because of that common interest always seems weird to me.

  6. paddlepickle said:

    Argh, I have this same problem. I am super involved in activism, spiritual communities, arts stuff. . .and I am constantly meeting hordes of awesome women, and no straight single men whatsoever. WHERE ARE THE MEN IN NYC AND WHAT ARE THEY DOING. I mean I’m grateful for the hordes of awesome women, but geez.

    • BookLady said:

      ALL OF THE YES TO THIS.

      With the addition of: there ARE actually a number of dudefolk in the activist circles here, and “active in social justice projects” is apparently a Thing I Am Attracted to.

      But. An organizing one-on-one is NOT a date, andnit’s skeevy to try to use it as one. So while in general I am fairly capable of using my words, I’m not sure if this situation… I don’t quite know how to do that without it being inappropriate, or if that’s possible. Like, a grad student TA shouldn’t ask out an undergrad who was in his or her class; there are public relationships and more private relationships, and …itsnkt quite the same, but, help I’m confused.

      Also possibly derailing. Sorry if it is!

      • paddlepickle said:

        Not at all! Where do you live that there are cute dudes in the activist circles? I want to go to there!

        I think it’s totally OK to ask out somebody in your activist circle, as long as you follow all the normal rules about respecting their no and not making it weird. You could even just say after an organizing one-on-one “Hey, I had a lot of fun chatting with you, how would you feel about getting together just to hang out sometime?” I have been in more dude-heavy activist circles than I am now in the past, and I had thingies with a couple guys without it being weird, though those were more of a ‘we became friends and ended up making out’ than an “I asked them out” scenario. There was one guy who used potentially volunteering as a weird backhanded way to ask me out, which was awkward, so do not do that.

  7. Jane Elliot said:

    I would very much recommend reading the book Dataclysm by Christian Rudder, the founder of OkCupid. It’s going to let you know a lot of statistics about why people date, what they’re looking for, your age group, and how many people are currently in your match pool (unfortunately, you’re in a tough spot; many people are matched up by your age, and not yet divorced. But don’t despair, you can find someone, you just have to get smarter about looking.

    Personally, if I were in your shoes, I would *not* go the blind date route, as that can be so frustrating you sometimes want to slam your head against a wall. I’d use a service like OkCupid, and be very smart about the match questions. and Dataclysm will show you how our biases and beliefs sometimes blind us before dates. But you also want to know that you want a general sense of political compatibility and social consensus before the date- which is why that online screening really can help. It can also help you set questions to screen out people who are poly (not that anything’s wrong with that, but it’s just not what you’re looking for.) You want to find people who are into the things you’re into.

    I would also do Myers Briggs testing and find out your personality type- so you know better who you might get along with.

    Good luck, and have fun. 🙂

    • While I disagree with you about avoiding blind dates, I do think you brought up a good point when you said blind dates “…can be so frustrating you sometimes want to slam your head against a wall”.

      I’d actually expand that sentiment out to include *all* dating! Dating is a numbers game, and ultimately, LW, you’re probably going to go on many dates with people who just don’t do it for you. That can be mind-numbingly frustrating, especially if you’re at the point in your life where you’re actively seeking long-term partnership. To my mind, it doesn’t matter whether these are blind dates or carefully selected prospects from a dating website: none of them are going to stick until one of them finally does.

      LW, I don’t know if you need this advice, but I think it’s good to remind yourself that you almost certainly AREN’T going to hit it off with every lady out there, and that that is okay. You’re not doing anything wrong if you just haven’t found that Person yet or don’t find her after going on a few dates (blind or otherwise) — just keep on keeping on (and take breaks, if you need to).

  8. Dear LW

    Other things you can try

    – host events yourself and tell your hobby friends that they can bring friends.

    – go to every party your hobby friends throw. Note I said “party”.

    – host parties. Invite lots of people.

    Good luck LW.

  9. EL said:

    I’ve been feeling some of these same things lately. My problem is that I haven’t been attracted to the men I’ve met via online dating. I even had a dream that I got back together with my horrible ex, because at least I found him attractive. Maybe I will try and implement some form of the above advice as well.

  10. biogirl said:

    Hi, LW, I literally did the exact thing you want to do to meet men and that’s how I met my boyfriend of now almost a year. Story time!

    I was always the perpetual single one of my close group of friends – they were all in relationships where they were going to marry their SOs pretty soon (one got married, one is getting married in a few months, and one is getting married after she finishes school). So I was always surrounded by very serious relationships and I got extremely self-conscious of my limited dating experience. I still struggle with low self-esteem, but back then I was definitely, firmly in the “I feel like such a loser sometimes for not even having dates, never mind a boyfriend, what the hell is wrong with me?, I’m so unlovable and will be FOREVER ALONE!” black hole of hell. Thankfully, a very frank email conversation with an advice columnist of all people snapped me out of it; I realized with that attitude, no wonder I wasn’t getting dates. I wasn’t a fun date to be around! So I tried online dating, but I was way too skittish of meeting men who were total strangers for a date. I was like you – I wanted to meet someone through friends or a social group because a) that drastically upped the chance that he wasn’t a psychotic asshole (like my last and first boyfriend who stalked me after he dumped me) and b) if we didn’t click, hey, still make an awesome friend who might have other awesome friends that I could click with. Once I made that mental adjustment – from a date being MY ONE SHOT AT TRUE LOVE to WOOO EXPANDING MY SOCIAL CIRCLE AND GETTING COMFY BEING AROUND GUYS – was when I met my boyfriend.

    So one of my friends in my biology graduate department had just started dating a guy from the physics graduate department. I approached my friend to ask her if her boyfriend had any single friends because I had just met her boyfriend and I didn’t feel comfortable broaching that subject with him just yet. She asked him and he pulled me aside to say “Biogirl, I work in physics, of course I know single guys.” and before I knew it, he was compiling a long list of potential dates and telling me who he thought I would really get along with. The first guy he said he wanted me to meet was my now-boyfriend. He then started texting my now-boyfriend right then to tell him how he JUST HAD TO MEET THIS GIRL (me), so we set up a double date between my friend, her boyfriend, me, and my now-boyfriend. I wanted to do a double date because a) I hadn’t been a date in YEARS and I wanted support and b) in case it didn’t go well, I had friends to help out. Well, the date went smashingly, me and now-boyfriend hit it off super well, he kissed me at the end and immediately asked me out again, and we’ve been together for almost a year. He is literally the nicest and smartest person I know; he supported me when I was having major mental health issues stemming from a horrible work environment just a few months into our relationship, which was a situation that maybe would have sent other guys running. I feel so at ease with him; I can truly be my zany, weird self around him and not only does he like the real me, he loves the real me.

    So I just want to say I HAVE BEEN THERE, BRO, I FEEL YOU. It was scary asking my friend’s boyfriend to fix me up. I was super lucky that the first guy happened to be one I clicked with. But I pretty much followed the good Captain’s advice exactly and now I’m in a wonderful relationship and have all these new friends that I never would have met if not for me taking that one small step in asking. I hope my story gives you some hope. Many hugs your way!

  11. TO_Ont said:

    I find that I have a similar problem. If I fill my life with hobbies and social events I enjoy as people often recommend, I make lots of great male friends who are married, some who are good friends but clearly incompatible for dating (e.g., they’re poly and that’s not for me, they’re more than twice my age and remind me of my dad, etc), and the very rare occasional good friend who is single but who I just don’t click with in that particular way. It’s a great way to make friends and enjoy my life, but so far in the past ten years it’s completely sucked as a way to meet people to date. Maybe it might have been different in my teens or very early twenties when there were just more single people around, or maybe I’m just particularly unskilled at meeting guys, but the older you get it seems the fewer single people you meet just going about your daily life. Though I do know people who met that way, so clearly it’s possible.

    I would still strongly recommend going and having hobbies and doing activities you love and making lots of good friends, but more because it makes for a wonderful life, not so much as a deliberate ‘strategy’ for meeting romantic partners.

  12. Lynda said:

    Hi! Hello, LW, I’m in the UK as well.
    Someone asked me why I hadn’t asked my friends if they knew of possible dates after I broke up with the ex. So, I asked one of them if they knew anyone; his reply was “well, to be honest, all my single friends are single for a reason… and I wouldn’t inflict them on you…” I wonder if that kind of situation might happen with your friends and colleagues?
    All the very best.

  13. Vole Central said:

    I met my spouse via a fairly dodgy matchmaker/dating service. Because they were short on people with my gender/orientation, I got to have a whole bunch of blind dates with people I really didn’t click with, but it was so very educational! It also helped me recalibrate who I was attracted to and why, since my previous scheme was “anyone who was mildly interested in me no matter how unpleasant they were”. That doesn’t seem to be an issue for you, LW, but perhaps a bunch of random dates with low expectations could be interesting for you in a different way?

  14. storyranger said:

    I can’t second the Captain hard enough about the followup. It’s a lot nicer having a cool new person you can smile vaguely at when you run into them in the grocery store then having someone who gives you a weird flash of embarrassment and burning need to flee the vicinity whenever you catch sight of them. Good followup will ensure the first. If you are trusting to things like the size of your city or the randomness of their connection to you to save you from the second, let me tell you from experience, the universe can be a real jerk.

  15. Oh mang…I could write a book on this topic! I’ll try not to do that here, but y’all are in for a good few paragraphs! ^_^

    The Captain’s advice is great, especially the part about not eschewing blind dates. I can understand the distaste for blind dates: what if you and she have nothing in common? What if she’s terrible? What if you don’t find her attractive? In this era of internet dating — where dating sites not only give you several pictures of a prospective partner but also serve up the answer to VERY personal questions such as “Once you’re intimate, about how many times a week would you like to be having sex with your partner?” (this is an actual [and useful, I might add] question on OKCupid) — the idea of going on a date with someone with little-to-no information about them can be very daunting.

    My advice to you is to find one or two friends whose judgement you really trust and to pose to them the questions the Captain supplied. If you ask a friend whose judgement you trust to set you up with some single ladies, you are, in effect, creating a filter that will probably weed out some ladies with whom you wouldn’t be compatible. I say this as someone who has set up blind dates for two of my male friends in the past: if your friends are good friends (both to you AND to the women they set you up with), they will WANT to be very discerning when they act as a matchmaker. After all, it could be incredibly awkward for them if they set up investment-banker-you, say, with a friend who scorns capitalism and is active in the the local Communist Party. Your friends are not going to want to put either you or their female friend through that experience, nor are they likely to want to undergo the debriefing from BOTH of you after a date like that goes belly-up.

    Now, apart from recruiting one or two friends to be on your own private Srs Bzns GF Patrol™, I also think there is a case to be made for being more open about your situation to all of your friends. You don’t need to go to each one and specifically ask them to scout potential partners for you, but you CAN put out there that you’re single and open to dating. Conversations about relationship status come up all the time among friends and acquaintances, and it wouldn’t be odd at all for you to contribute to the dialogue with someone along the lines of “I’m single and open to the possibility of meeting someone!”.

    This is how I ended up setting up my co-worker with the volunteer coordinator at the hospital where I volunteer. He and I are on good terms, and he had mentioned that he’d set up a profile on OKCupid and was dating a bit. He didn’t go into detail or explicitly ask me to find him dates, but he made it known that he was open to meeting people. When I met the volunteer coordinator at my hospital, I thought that they would hit it off, and since I knew he was single and looking to date, I asked him if he wanted to meet her. He never “officially” recruited me, but he made it clear by his actions and words that he was open to the possibility. A similar situation occurred with one of my closest male friends: because we know each other well and talk about these things, I know that he’d like to meet someone and someday start a family. Without him specifically asking, I made sure that he and a single female friend of mine got the chance to meet and mingle.

    And lastly, as the two previous examples hopefully illustrate, don’t underestimate how many folks out there would be happy to help you out. I loved being able to provide these connections for my friend and co-worker, because I knew that both of them are wonderful men who would be great partners to the awesome women I introduced them to. There’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to admitting that you’re looking for intimacy and partnership, and I bet there are quite a few people you know who would be happy to assist you in the search. Good luck!

    • Slow Learner said:

      So much this!

      There are several people I know who got into their current relationships because friends were aware that they were single and open to relationships, so they were nudged in the direction of good prospects. Invited to the same parties say, or invited to dinner in a middling sized group (6-8 people. Couple hosting, people being introduced, some other people so it isn’t a double date or too weird if they don’t get on).
      People generally want their friends to be happy, and plenty of people I know are more than happy to be involved with that kind of thing to smooth the path.

  16. sara said:

    Awesome advice!

    I’m curious what it is you don’t like about online dating. If it’s the endless messaging, I would suggest you give it another try but be ruthless about meeting up with people sooner to see if there’s that in-person chemistry. If it’s that you don’t like going on a bunch of first dates that don’t go anywhere, sadly I think you’ll have that same issue with getting set up. I got a sense from your desire to pre-screen that you maybe see the “friends setting us up route” as a way to better ensure that dates will lead to a good match pretty quickly. But, I sort of feel like there’s no way around the “lots of first dates” thing regardless of whether you do online dating or set-ups. Sure, with any type of dating you might totally luck out and hit it off perfectly with the first person you go out with (it’s always possible!). But, I think for many people, it’s just a numbers game because no one can line things up on paper and determine that ROMANTIC CHEMISTRY WILL EXIST.

    Regardless, I totally agree that you should embrace the blind dates thing. My fiance has a few qualities that I think if I’d known them before we ever went on a date, I might have said, “You know, that’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s probably just not right for me, so I’ll pass.” But, of course, we’re great for each other in reality! Especially if you’ve been out of the dating market for a while, I think it is VERY easy to come up with a long list of desires in a potential partner, to the point where we build up this image of a perfect partner that literally no person in the universe could ever fulfill. Part of the joy and awesomeness of relationships is discovering lots of cool things about your partner that you might have never known would attract you! And you can’t discover those things if you’re not open to a little adventure. I think it’s 100% okay to have a limited list of true dealbreakers, that you explicitly share with whomever you’re asking to set you up. (For me, those would be things like: I can’t date a smoker because I have asthma and literally cannot be around cigarette smoke without needing to use my inhaler, and I can’t date someone who’s not pro-choice because I would not be willing to have sex with someone who couldn’t support me 100% fully should a situation arise where I needed to get an abortion.) Beyond those things you really and truly know you cannot handle, trust in your friends’ judgement that they’re not going to set you up with someone for no reason.

    • Best-Turkey said:

      Online dating takes up too much time and energy I could be using doing stuff I actually enjoy (and meeting people through that process). I have already made far more friends just going out there and actually living my life than I ever made through the entire online dating process. If I spend the rest of my life single but get to invest all the time I would otherwise have put into online dating into having fun with my existing friends, I would consider it a more than fair trade.

      In short, I would rather engrave my own tombstone than draw up another online dating profile.

      • I wouldn’t recommend on-line dating but if the doing stuff you actually enjoy can extend into talking about it on-line, then there’s a whole pool of very easily accessible people out there. It’s also easy to get to know someone quite well very quickly, in a context of one of their passions. There are issues of geography, but it depends how you feel about that.

        While I’m here, I’d reiterate the Captain’s advice that some people *love* to match-make. As in, there may be folks in your social circle who have already sat pondering who they’d introduce you to if only it wouldn’t be construed as interfering (little knowing that it wouldn’t). A mutual friend says knew that Mr Goldfish and I were made for each other and sent him in my direction even though he was single and looking and I was married. The Future Mr Goldfish behaved sensibly, he dated someone else for a while, but we became the best of friends and when I got divorced, we got together. Obviously, you want a friend who takes marital status into account, but still, some people love it.

        As someone who wouldn’t be no good at this at all, I can’t imagine anyone being offended by the request, or thinking your were needy because of it. Almost all of the happy, long-standing couples of my acquaintance met through mutual friends, by some means or other – double dates, parties, as well as stealth or blatant matchmaking. As I said, I wouldn’t be good at this, but I would encourage the general plan in any single friend (and at least try to consider if I knew anyone who might fit).

        Best of luck. It sounds like you’re doing all the right things and having a good time regardless. 🙂

  17. So I want to point this out: the question that just came up a couple of posts down, the one that said, “Hey, I’m accidentally dating a Men’s Right’s Activist and I’m in love with him, how did that happen” could have been avoided by online dating, and I want to point that out, because if you set up an OkCupid profile and you have those “dealbreaker” questions set up so that people cannot contact you unless they answer questions about feminism and gender equality correctly- you’re going to screen those jerks out right away. They just can’t send the message.

    I point this out because as a person with a disability, I literally would be triggered if I went on a blind date with someone who found out about my disability and then went “oh, sorry, not for me.” Back in the day I might have accepted such treatment, and I actually did, but I cannot deal with being treated like crap any more for something I can’t control. Nobody deserves to be treated this way.

    One of the things about blind dates is they’re blind. You may actually be sitting across from someone who has raped someone. Blind dates have no filters. Yes, your friends may be the ones setting you up, but they have blind spots also, look at what happens with serial rapists i.e. Bill Cosby, frat boys, and other men. They lie. They manage to do this a *lot* of times. And we’ve also had questions on here where ‘friends’ and ‘boyfriends’ have been shielding other friends who have had extremely bad and myogynistic behavior. When you have people answering questions about their belief systems online, it is a *lot* easier to screen out the jerks.

    • I pretty much agree with what you say here, I am in an extremely new relationship (three weeks old) but I met him on PlentyOfFish so we knew certain things about each other before we even started talking, let alone dating. I also told him that I wouldn’t go on a date with him until a certain amount of time had passed so I could get to know a little more about him before I agreed to a date. That might sound rather fussy but I have certain issues with feeling unsafe around strange men so I personally need to feel like I know someone at least a little, before agreeing to meet for a date. This guy though…. *swoon*…

      ahem…where was I? Oh! yes, online dating. It gets a bad reputation sometimes but there should be no shame in it. This is the age of technology and vetting people before you date them is sometimes a good idea. Having said that, I also agree with the Capt about blind dates. If you feel comfortable enough to go on some fact finding dates with people you might not usually agree to date, you might find out something surprising. For a long time I felt immense pressure to make every single date exactly perfect. If someone didn’t want to see me again I was devastated and felt awfully crappy, even if I didn’t want to date them again either. Then one day I thought “f**k it. I’m just gonna see each date as an opportunity to have a fun lunchtime/evening out and not care about whether they want to see me again. I’ll have the next one lined up anyway.” I had what I called my “week of men” where I had dinner with a different man every night. Three of them were friends who were happily in relationships so that was just to fill in my off days and catch up with some great friends of mine, but the other 4 days were official dates. I ended up spending two years with one of guys and I doubt I would have ever agreed to a date in the first place if it wasn’t for my change of attitude.

    • paddlepickle said:

      This is the best thing about online dating by far. When I meet someone in person now, I’m kinda like “ummmm how do I find out if this guy thinks women are obligated to shave their legs? Do I just ask or have him fill out a paper questionnaire?”

      • Ha! That’s one of my dealbreaker questions too!

        No, you troglodyte, women are not OBLIGATED to shave their legs. You can go right ahead and PREFER that they do, but to extend your personal preference out to all women and make that an obligation is such an enormous NO for me.

        • paddlepickle said:

          Seriously! Some of my friends are flexible on that because they’re like ‘Oh maybe he didn’t fully read the question and just meant he prefers it’. So. . .either he’s terribly sexist or has very poor reading comprehension? Pass. Also I shave my legs once a month at MOST so it’s best to get them out of my dating pool from the start no matter what they mean.

    • ReginaB said:

      The letter writer is a guy, though. IME, only women actually need to approach the whole thing with the strategy of screening people out. Every man I’ve ever heard talk about online dating has bemoaned that they can’t get any replies, ever.

    • eightysixed said:

      I think that the concern about a blind date as being a rapist or abuser in a general is a concern that all people (especially women) have with dating anyone. And while some belief systems can be screened out via those questions – I find that a lot of people “awesome up” themselves. And at least with a friend set up, issues like “does this person have kids” or “have they gone to jail recently” are able to be vetted by a friend.

      There are truly horrible people out there who lie, and there are friends who are disinclined to see negatives in friends – but on some level all dating is a risk of letting a potentially negative person into our life. But I think the assertion that a blind date is more blind that online dating isn’t true. What is true though is where someone’s comfort lies investing time with new people and were individual’s comfort with figuring people out is highest.

  18. When I got serious about finding a long-term partner, I had a change-of-perspective moment that was very helpful to me. I crushed on a couple of people who were “like my dad” and realized that I was attracted to certain people by default. If I wanted to set myself on a new path (which it sounds like you do after your divorce) I needed to figure out not only what I wanted, but *what I had to offer* the people I was interested in. I was really good at getting strong, silent guys of good character to like me, but I didn’t at all like who I had to be to keep them. I wanted something else for the long-term. And I didn’t know how to go about it.

    As I pondered why a couple of things came into high relief: a) I advertise myself as a partner a certain way, and I offer a few things as a partner b) people who dig on that fit a certain profile. So if I altered by advertising a bit, and did some soul-searching about what exactly I WANTED to offer as a partner (i.e. adventure but not so much with the cooking) I could alter my calculus (or my mojo, whatevs) and better nose out the kind of relationships I wanted.

    With the required caveats on all relationship advice being kinda bunk: who is the kind of person you want to meet? What does she look for? Where does she hang out? What do you have to offer her? Is she secretly standing around already and you discounted her for some reason?

    • Rattakin said:

      This is brilliant advice. Absolutely a great way of thinking!

  19. Rattakin said:

    Excellent advice!

    When I was 32, I had just split up with my fiance and decided to build a nice life for myself alone. I worked, spent time with friends, went on road trips, took classes, and was wonderfully happy without much interest in dating. I had had a few bad, abusive relationships, and just decided that I was going to work on having a good life whether or not it had a man in it. It was great! Over the next nine years, I did go out on a few dates, but I discovered that I was so happy with my life that most men really had nothing to offer me. I was financially independent, I could change my own oil and kill my own spiders, and I wasn’t inclined to give up any part of my life for a man who was less than spectacular.

    I didn’t go onto any dating sites, but I did participate in some online discussion forums. A few men asked me out, but I declined. I did, however, start talking to one man and really enjoyed it. I had no interest in him romantically at first, but after a while I started to wonder…. Then I found out that he hates cheese. Who hates cheese? What kind of man doesn’t like cheese!?!?! At that point, I knew I would never go out with him. I am a dairy-hound, and so when he brought up the subject of us possibly meeting at one of the group happy hours, I immediately struck it down. No way. Why even bother meeting?

    After a few more months of online discussions and then e-mailing each other, I had to rethink my prejudices. I had told him flat out that I wasn’t interested in dating, and we had great, but very platonic, discussions. He began to grow on me. Could this work? Would he mind if I ate cheese? It took a while, but I finally told him I’d like to meet. We’ve been together for eleven years, married for four, and have been pretty much in love since that first date. It is a “mixed marriage.” I love cheese, he hates it. I like the Niners, he’s a Raiders fan. But it works for us.

    Keep an open mind and good luck!

    • I really, *really* love that a horrifying lack of cheese is the reason you decided not to date your now-husband.

      And I’m also really, really glad that you were able to get past that. Cheddar late than never! (oh tee hee)

      • That joke was soooooooooooo cheesy.

        • I mean…I *could* have said “FETA late than never!” (and dammit, I should have, since feta is the cheese I choose if the Apocalypse were to come and there was nothing left in the world except me and one type of cheese).

      • I feel like this is the real-life equivalent of Leslie Knope refusing to go to dinner with Ben Wyatt because he likes calzones. Except not a joke. SO GREAT.

      • riri8pie said:

        Ooh, fellow pun enthusiast. It’s like looking in a mirror and saying, ‘Halou, mi!’ 🙂

        • Rattakin said:

          Too cheesy. I camembert it!

    • Your anti-cheese prejudice made me giggle at work.

      “No fromage? Not even a bit of blue? Not a hint of a hit of haloumi? Not a pinch of parmesan? Then NO DATE WITH ME, GOOD SIR.”

      • Rattakin said:

        The funny thing is, he eats pizza. Loves pizza. Even takes the topping off the pizza and eats it first before eating the crust. And he can’t explain why pizza cheese is okay, since he won’t eat a slice of mozzarella.

        I’ve decided to find it charming.

        • Vir Modestus said:

          I know a guy who HATES chocolate. Just hates it. Loves brownies, because “they’re not chocolate! They’re brownie flavored.”

          I don’t even know what to do with that.

    • paddlepickle said:

      I. . .seriously don’t think I could date someone who hated cheese. This may explain why I’m single.

      • Rattakin said:

        The only real drawback is restaurants that can’t seem to manage to leave the cheese off his order. When he orders something and asks them to please not put any cheese on it, I would say that about 1 in 5 times, it arrives at the table with cheese on it. If we’re ordering take-out, bump that up to about 3 in 5 times. It’s a good thing I cook at home a lot.

        Ugh! Enough cheese talk. Now I want a quesadilla….

        • paddlepickle said:

          Funnily enough, this makes me feel more willing to date a cheese-hater because I’d get to eat all his mistakenly cheesy food.

          • got gingham said:

            Frankly, I don’t give Edam

    • Anisoptera said:

      Your story makes me feel like less of a mutant freak for being single for 7 years and not especially fighting to change it. Single life has pros and cons, and right now (and for years now) the cons haven’t been great enough to make me exert myself to get a partner.

      I will try to remember that it’s possible to date someone who hates cheese. Cheese is important. 😛

      • Rattakin said:

        You’re no freak. Sounds to me like you’re seriously lacking in desperation and neediness, which is actually quite attractive. Hold out for someone special. I predict you will meet someone in a cheese shop!

      • Nanani said:

        Same. Getting unsingle doesn’t seem worth the trouble at this point.
        (Though someone who hates cheese would not be a dealbreaker at all, since I love cheese enough to also eat their share of the cheese.)

    • Clementine Danger said:

      My husband is from the US. I am from Belgium. The cheese debacle WILL NOT END.

      He insists the condom-flavored bathroom tiles he keeps in the fridge are “American cheese.” I insist that any food product with the word “American” right there in the name is plotting to kill me. He says cheese is best when you don’t actually taste it, I say it’s not cheese until it can double as a WMD. He is of the opinion that all cheese tastes the same and it tastes bad and I am of the opinion shut the hell up, cheese is delicious and I will eat it right here in the bedroom omnomnom.

      We’ve both got a divorce lawyer on speed dial.

      • Melanie D said:

        OMG, I am so stealing that phrase “condom-flavored bathroom tiles ” for American cheese. Talk about a waste of good milk! That’s assuming there *is* any milk in it. thank you!!

      • Nonny Blackthorne said:

        *dies laughing*

        I had to link my fiancee to this comment specifically because she spend part of her childhood in the Netherlands (her mother is Dutch) and her stories of the cheese there… I still giggle at her talking about when they moved back to the US for her dad’s work (IIRC, that’s when he got an offer from NASA; if I ever decide to write a hard SF novel instead of fantasy, I know who I’m hitting up for research ^_^), her mom smuggled an entire cheese wheel into the country. You know, one of the BIG ones. “Condom-flavored bathroom tile” set her giggling uncontrollably, because it’s SO TRUE.

        If I’d grown up with access to GOOD cheese, I might not dislike it as much as I do. My folks are big cheese people and would pay for the expensive imported stuff, but my dad, who spent 5yrs in Germany, swears they don’t export the really good stuff; even still, the imported stuff was expensive enough that us kids weren’t allowed to touch it. I’ve only started to experiment with trying different types of cheese in the last few years (in part, thanks to my fiancee), because my reaction priorly has just been “meh” at best.

  20. LW, I wonder if you realize how standard online dating has become. Among my friends (admittedly a nerdy bunch, and a different country), it is actively weird to meet someone in real life. Not prohibitively so, but if it happens people usually comment on it. You’ve put a lot of time and energy into meeting people in real life, maybe try putting some of that energy into building online dating skills and see how it feels?

    • Best-Turkey said:

      See above.

      I don’t enjoy it. I’m not improved by it. It doesn’t enhance my lifestyle or surroundings. I don’t get any exercise out of it. I don’t get paid to do it. I meet more new people and make more friends doing other activities which actually do accomplish one or more of the above criteria as well.

      As a result, online dating loses out compared to literally any other activity I could conceivably be investing that time or money in. Fuck that noise.

      • Kara said:

        But you’ve already said that the new people you meet “doing other activites” are not the people you want to date/have a relationship with/spend the rest of your life with. It seems to me like you’re rejecting online dating for, well, being exactly the thing you want it to be. I’m really kind of confused by that.

        • Scoob said:

          ^^ this

        • Best-Turkey said:

          You seem to be assuming that just because the new people I am meeting are either not in a position to date me, not interested in dating me, or not someone I’m interested in dating, that that’s automatically a loss, and the only possible win condition for me is finding dateable people.

          This is nonsense. Just because I haven’t hit the romance jackpot doesn’t mean that I’m not winning at making new friends, which is a valuable and important win in is own right.

          Yes, it would be nice to actually meet people I can go further than friendship with – hence this question. But that isn’t so important that it’s worth diverting time from stuff I enjoy and which is having a positive effect on my life to online dating, which I hate and has only ever made my life worse.

          • wondering said:

            Two thumbs up.

          • laika said:

            De-lurking to say…Best-Turkey, it is totally your choice to not choose to do online dating. If it’s not your jam that is 100% fine. But can I be another voice for maybe, in a limited capacity (like with a clear end-date three weeks hence, or whatever), giving it another chance? I was an equally rabid hater of online dating after trying it a few years ago for all of the reasons you mentioned, plus one date-fail where I was trapped in a restaurant booth while every waiter ignored my frantic attempts to signal for the check and my date monologued for 2 hours straight about how he didn’t eat vegetables. I am pretty sure that I said, to a friend who suggested I give it another try at one point, a near paraphrase of your “[finding a person to date is not] so important that it’s worth diverting time from stuff I enjoy and which is having a positive effect on my life to online dating, which I hate and has only ever made my life worse.”

            But then I got to a point where, like you, I wasn’t meeting any other people I wanted to date despite being an active, involved-in-stuff-I-care-about, putting-myself-out-there kind of person, as it sounds like you are. One time I got drunk with my college roommate who convinced me to do Tinder (I kid you not) as a joke; and then I swiped right to my boyfriend who is seriously awesome and who I NEVER would have met through my circle of friends, despite all the set-ups in the world–he lives a town or two over and we’re involved with totally different activities, work, etc. I will say I went on 3-4 dates with guys that were pleasant enough, but not anyone I wanted to see again…but that’s almost unavoidable in dating, despite all of the screens in the world. I think others are correct when they say that dating is really a numbers game. If you rule out online dating, you rule out the large pool of humans who are not connected to your friend group. And it’s not like online dating has to be an intensive, time-consuming process–I would say I probably exchanged mayyyybe 10 short messages back and forth with the dudes I went on dates with ahead of time, and then had 3-4 hour-long dates where I got to share a beverage with a reasonably interesting human, who had some new perspectives, thoughts, and ideas, and one date where I went HM this guy is not at all my type but I am somehow intrigued and we’re still together seven months later.

            I don’t know you and I don’t know your schedule, but I guess I find it hard to believe that any time you spend in any form of online dating is automatically deducted from time you could be spending on more-fun activities, e.g., do you have a commute where you could answer messages? A lunch break at work? Unlike myself, do you spend 0 minutes per day with dog gifs on Buzzfeed? Or that time spent on dating-related things with people that you have met through your friends will automatically be less “wasted.”

            Please do with that anecdata what you will and I wish you the best of luck in finding someone awesome to go further than friendship with. It’s also awesome to see how much you value your non-romantic friendships.

          • pendrift said:

            Absolutely. The way Best-Turkey feels about online dating is the way I feel about trying to meet dateable people in bars, parties, or Meetup-type gatherings. It is just NOT enjoyable to me, whereas I’m very comfortable meeting potential romantic partners online and have met some of my best friends on OKCupid. If you’re forcing yourself into doing something that you already know is upsetting, it won’t show you in your best light because you’re stressed out — and it doesn’t seem like a very productive use of time and energy when you have other options that yield better results on the whole, in terms of general satisfaction.

          • Jane said:

            If you would like validation for avoiding online dating, here: I VALIDATE YOUR DISLIKE OF THIS MEDIUM.

            I personally still do it, mostly because I have some social anxiety-type issues I am working through (USING MENFOLKS FROM THE OKC TO PRACTICE CONVERSATING UPON, YESSIR) but it totally doesn’t jam with how I meet people I enjoy or am attracted to in the rest of my life. :/ For all the aforementioned “screens” it provides, the correlation between profiles I like and people I enjoy in real life is (so far) so low that I don’t really find it more efficient than just waiting on my once-a-year crush to swing around.

          • Best-Turkey said:

            laika,

            With all the goodwill in the world, please take me at my word on this issue. That commute time that I could be using for online dating? I could also use it for a nap, or to catch up on my reading, and be happier and healthier for it. That lunch break at work, likewise. (Or I could just take the time to, y’know… enjoy my lunch.) Those dog .gifs? Bring more joy and light to my life than online dating ever will.

            I am asking you and everyone else to please believe me when I say that online dating isn’t my jam and never will be, so continued posting on this thread about it is honestly a waste of your time, unless you generically want to share your experiences about it. For my part it’s kind of uncomfortable when, every time I say “No, trust me, online dating doesn’t go well with me”, people creep out of the woodwork to say “Aw, g’on, are you sure?”

            tl;dr: Online dating is one of my hard “nopes”, I tried to make this as clear as possible in my OP, really please don’t go there.

          • JenniferP said:

            100% endorsed and fast becoming a moderation issue.

        • winter said:

          Yeah ok, maybe. But people are allowed to have preferences? LW has read the pros and can make that decision on his own.

        • Clementine Danger said:

          LW knows what he wants and doesn’t want to do. He’s given his reasons several times, even though he shouldn’t have had to do that. The man said no. Leave it.

  21. TO_Ont said:

    If two years of not dating is ‘suspicious’ then I can’t imagine what that must make me, as I’ve been single far longer than that. I don’t _think_ it means there’s something deeply wrong with me or my attitudes to guys, I hope it just means I’m a bit shy and socially awkward and fearful of rejection, and that my life and hobbies, though great, rarely bring me into contact with single guys, so when I do occasionally get to know one, the chances that I will be attracted to him AND he’ll be attracted to me just don’t seem to work out well statistically.

    You do inadvetantly bring up a point that affects some people, though. One of the things that often holds me back from being more proactive in ‘looking for’ someone is the fear that if I admit how long I’ve been single and how little dating experience I have, they’ll go running for the woods or start treating me like a freak or tell other people.

  22. duaecat said:

    One additional thing about being in favor of blind dates or giving people a chance, I know a lot of people who are very happy now with people who initially checked off a lot of “NO” boxes. Things like “I won’t date a smoker” “I don’t want a guy shorter than me” “I don’t like girls with short hair.” Obviously not red flag abuser stuff, but they found once they got to know each other better they found the little things weren’t as big an issue as they once thought. To paraphrase a harsher saying “She’s going to be a woman, not a Build-a-Bear!”

    My own story is that I didn’t think I was that attracted to more bear-like men, preferring slender more dorky looking guys, and I wanted someone just as geeky as I was. I fell in love with a big blond chinchilla who had never really had the opportunity to find his inner geek, but as soon as we started marathoning old Star Trek realized there was a whole world of geekdom out there waiting to be discovered. If I’d written him off before the first date, I wouldn’t be together with him now.

    • That’s a valid point, but the reason I recommend online dating is because it allows for filters for some extremely serious issues, not the very petty ones. Blind dates don’t allow for the setting of any filters. And having those difficult “uh, so how do you feel about “Men’s Rights” or “Gamergate” and see how they react to “Would you consider yourself a feminist?” “Do you mind if I am one” discussions really don’t tend to come up on the first few dates. Definitely not before serious physical contact. After that point you may be physically attracted but mentally repulsed.

      For example, historically, on OkCupid I’ve found people I was reasonably well matched with but then found a real dealbreaker of a question such as “No means no” (The given answers: A. Always B. Sometimes. C. “It’s dependent on context. Sometimes it’s a ‘yes’ in disguise.” That should be a massive trigger warning for potential rape if someone chooses C, which a suprising number of men do. Yet very few people set that as a ‘no contact’ question.

      Don’t worry about the other ‘preference’ questions, if you online date- skip those little ones, and the reason I previously recommended Dataclysm is for the reasons you said, the author says that those little things like “I won’t date a guy shorter than me” leads to discrimination against short men, the same way men discriminate against older women…. it’s eye opening for those reasons. Even people who identify as ‘bisexual’ often select for one or the other gender (although I quibble with that stat, because they weren’t tracking bisexual people longitudinally over the course of years, so they don’t know if someone who is bi was dating one gender for several years and then switched; also, people who are bi are under no obligation to date both genders although they have attraction to both genders. The great thing about having attraction to both genders is you can choose!)

      People think they want what they want, but don’t know the other option is good too. But those filters- man, those filters can be life-saving. Especially for those of us with boundary setting issues.

      • arch said:

        You keep saying that there’s a “do not contact” option on OKCupid, but I have literally never seen that. Where is it? Is it in the questions section or somewhere else?

        • kanel said:

          I wonder about that as well, how to set “do not contact” questions. Would be neat with such a feature. Can’t seem to find it though.

        • hummingbear said:

          Disclaimer that it’s been a while since I was on OKC (I met my husband there!) but at least a couple years ago, you could set question priority to “Mandatory” – if someone answers the wrong way, they get dinged 500 compatibility points and drop significantly in the match percentage. Since dealbreaker questions tend to occur in clusters (“do you believe in evolution?” “do you believe the earth is less than 6000 years old?” are two different Qs) you can mark several of them as mandatory and drop the match percentage below the cutoff that makes profiles visible to you.

      • deyne said:

        “Even people who identify as ‘bisexual’ often select for one or the other gender”

        I think this comes up a lot because it’s harder to meet people of a similar gender who are also queer than it is to date people of a different one. Like, I am often read as female and I have no problem meeting guys I am attracted to who are bi or straight, but meeting women and other genderqueers is sometimes more difficult. As a result, I mostly use OKC to meet women and queers, and so my OKC history reads like I’m a lesbian, even though I actually have a lot of male lovers. I know this is really common with bi people of all genders.

        • bostoncandylady said:

          This, a thousand times. I’m a somewhat femme queer person who dates people of all genders, and in order to go out on dates with men, all I need to do is say “yes” to some of the ones who ask me. Finding other women to date can be much more difficult. (And that’s “finding women that I can ask to date me,” not “finding women that will ask to date me,” of course.)

          I had someone recently say something like, “So, you must be more into men since that is mostly who you date.” And then I talked about the difficulty of finding other poly queer women where I live, and femme invisibility, and stuff like that. I don’t like men more than women. It’s not that I select for them – it’s that they select for me. And since I do like men, refusing to date them to “hold out” for a woman would be weird.

          My behavior would be very different if there were as many queer women as straight men. Or, to put it a different way, if everyone I was attracted to was attracted to me.

          • MamaCheshire said:

            Yes, it’s the ratio at work. Of the people I would find myself attracted to, somewhere around half were immediately eliminated from the possibility of mutual attraction due to “not into women, sorry!” (And when I met my BFF, the second thing we bonded over, immediately after the thing that was the reason we met, was “WHYYYYY do we keep falling for gay men and straight women, it’s not FAIR!”)

            To make matters worse, back when I used more androgynous screen names, something about the way I communicate online led people to conclude I was a gay man. Including some very charming gay men who flirted with me and then were very sad (but polite about it!) when they realized that I’m a bi woman instead. I think this happened 3 separate times over the course of my next-to-last year in undergrad.

          • emberweasel said:

            This is my sexual history as a femme bi woman in a nutshell.

        • Xenophile said:

          I’m in a similar-but-not-quite-identical situation, and something that’s worked well for me is checking the “Invisible to Straight People” option. I stopped getting mail from straight men and curious straight women, and now my feed is nothing but queer ladies, genderqueers and couples.

          • bostoncandylady said:

            I looove that setting. Huge fan.

        • Xenophile said:

          I’m in a similar though not identical situation. I’ve dated/had sex with more men than women, but prefer women, and that preference has gotten stronger over time and at this point I am no longer interested in men. Trying to explain this in my OKC profile didn’t do anything to deter straight men who thought they could fix me if only I would stop being so mean and give them a chance. Fortunately, there’s a handy little setting that makes you invisible to straight people, and it’s been a blessing to me. No more creepy straight dudes, no more curious straight women hoping to experiment, no one so closeted their OKC profile says they’re straight. (Two of those three categories are legit in their own right, just not for me.) My feed is now private little garden of queers discussing bell hooks, science fiction and vegan recipes. Win.

          • Xenophile said:

            Ugh, accidental double post. Sorry!

      • Okay, but like, this is what first dates are for?

        No one is talking about randomly pulling someone off the street and subjecting them to some sort of weird matchmaking hostage situation; we’re talking about a trusted friend selecting someone they think you’d be compatible with. I’m really puzzled by the amount of fear and recoil re: dating as it was done before the Internet. It reads very much to me like trying to control a bunch of factors that are really outside your control. I have met plenty of people online that present themselves one way there and turn out to be complete turds in person; and plenty of people in person that I would have completely written off if I had met them online.

        Anecdata time! One person in my life that I love to death is politically Conservative: votes Republican, tries that whole “States’ Rights” business, etc. I am a vocal, Liberal, sex-positive feminist that works in reproductive health advocacy. If we had interacted first online, we would have been Mortal Enemies 4eva! But instead, we were able to start conversations organically and figure out that we have a very similar sense of humor, have many interests (politics included) in common, are similarly wacky and acerbic, share similar values (I know, right?) and generally love each other’s company. When I found out he was Republican, some two months into knowing each other, I was SO SAD. But then we went to Pride Day together; I found out he is very outspoken about police overreach and discrimination in the legal system (he is a lawyer); he is super supportive of reproductive rights; he works with domestic violence victims; and so on. We have some GREAT conversations/debates where we don’t see eye-to-eye at all, but because they are built on mutual respect and admiration, they are actually fun and engaging rather than frustrating and awful.

        If I had seen him on OKCupid or some such, I likely would have gotten right in the Nope Rocket to Nopetron 24. All this to say, I think there is something to be said for the “go out and meet people” approach, even if it is scary and you can’t completely cocoon yourself from jerks; I mean, existing in the world in general you can’t cocoon yourself from jerks. As much as it sucks, they will enter your space at some point and say jerk things. I think the potential payoff here is far greater for LW than the detriment. I agree with Cap’n: embrace the chaos.

  23. I agree with the Captain about blind dates, fuck yeah and being open to the experience. But I’d like to add one more reason: equitable treatment from your friends.

    You say “I’d like to know a bit about the person in question before meeting them so I can politely decline suggested matches which clearly aren’t going to work.” Aside from the fact that you are probably in a bad place to decide that something isn’t going to work – at least beyond obvious deal-breakers that your friends would probably know about already – would you want your friends answering very many questions about you that way for someone else? I doubt it, so don’t ask them to tell you a bunch of stuff about a “prospect” like that. It’s kind of awkward and I wouldn’t personally assume they’re going to get it all right. After all, they know what this person is like to be a friend with, probably not what they’re like to date.

    • Best-Turkey said:

      Actually, I wouldn’t mind them doing that at all. Let them give a potential match the same sort of sales pitch about me that they’re giving me about the match, let the woman in question decide whether I actually sound interesting enough to meet or not, that’s all cool.

      As I said above, when I say “blind date” I meant “100% blind, you know a name and a gender and literally nothing else”.

      • Vicki said:

        So you’re looking for something like “I think you’d like my friend Jane. She’s a bicycle racer and real ale fan, just got back from Costa Rica, and would probably enjoy cooking together” rather than “she’s so tall, with shoulder-length brunette hair”?

        • Best-Turkey said:

          I can’t see how any competent matchmaker wouldn’t go for the former approach over the latter – after all, you want to prime the people in question with stuff they can usefully talk about and bond over, right?

  24. MellifluousDissent said:

    I met my spouse by letting my best friend go through my OKCupid messages and telling me who to respond to and who to ditch. Spouse was *not* someone I ever would’ve responded to on my own, but he turned out to be a better match than anyone I’d chosen on my own!

    A few thoughts: (1) I got better at just going on a first date when I started thinking about the “first date” as more of a “pre-date” – “We are having drinks/coffee/a sandwich/whatever together to determine whether or not a *real* date is warranted” was a lot less fraught (for me anyway) than thinking “Ohmigosh is this the beginning of a relationship?” The first date is like taking a bite of your friend’s food that you’ve never tasted before – you’re not committing to eating the whole plate, you’re just trying it to see if you might want to order it next time.

    (2) My initial, gut-level, “ooh let’s date that guy” attractions were to the wrong people (and by wrong I mean “wrong for me,” presumably they would be right for someone else at some other point in time). Thanks to an astonishing lack of self-insight and lack of therapy, I was choosing people who felt comfortable to me for all of the wrong reasons (primarily reminding me of problematic people in my past). Is this something you may be doing? I can’t tell at all from your letter, but it was an issue for me so I figured I’d raise it as a possibility. Talking to a trusted friend or two (like I did) can really help you sort this out, if you’re willing to listen.

    (3) Consider a touch of therapy if you think #2 is happening – if you’re constantly finding yourself attracted to the “wrong” people (and particularly if there’s a specific type of “wrong” you keep finding), there’s probably something a little deeper to be worked out. Therapy’s also great for developing self-insight and a better sense of why you do what you do in general – don’t feel like you have to be having an emotional crisis or breakdown or falling apart or something to seek out a therapist. Just wanting to know/understand yourself a little better is a good enough reason to go.

    • “(2) My initial, gut-level, “ooh let’s date that guy” attractions were to the wrong people (and by wrong I mean “wrong for me,” presumably they would be right for someone else at some other point in time). Thanks to an astonishing lack of self-insight and lack of therapy, I was choosing people who felt comfortable to me for all of the wrong reasons (primarily reminding me of problematic people in my past). Is this something you may be doing? I can’t tell at all from your letter, but it was an issue for me so I figured I’d raise it as a possibility. Talking to a trusted friend or two (like I did) can really help you sort this out, if you’re willing to listen.”

      WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOA. DING DING DING. Get outta here, MellifluousDissent. Get outta my head.

  25. TO_Ont said:

    My career and my biggest hobby are actually things that have significantly more men than women, and you would think that made them great ways to meet guys, but somehow in practice it seems to mean that they are full of guys who aren’t currently looking to meet someone (otherwise they’d be somewhere where there are more women!). Not sure what those magic activites are that have lots of singles wanting to meet other singles! Also not sure if I would want to pick a hobby on that basis anyway :).

    At the moment I am at an impass dating-wise, but otherwise enjoying my life. One of these days maybe I’ll get over my hesitations about online dating; it seems to be the thing to do these days.

    • Linden said:

      My mom keeps telling me that if I want to meet a man, I need to join groups that attend sporting events because there’s lots of men there. But I hate sporting events. Even if I found someone there, he’d be someone who would be led to believe I also share his enthusiasm for sports. What’s the point of that? I believe in starting off the way you mean to go on.

      A friend of mine took a barbecuing class hoping to meet men. She didn’t meet any — turns out men don’t take barbecuing classes because either they already know how, or don’t want to admit that they don’t already know. She learned to barbecue, however.

      • Vorvayne said:

        A friend of mine took a barbecuing class hoping to meet men. She didn’t meet any — turns out men don’t take barbecuing classes because either they already know how, or don’t want to admit that they don’t already know. She learned to barbecue, however.

        I just. That paragraph is a thing of laugh-out-loud-hilarious perfection. And makes the excellent point that, yeah, what if you don’t meet anyone? You don’t want to spend hours of your life doing something you don’t at least enjoy a bit.

        Personally, I met my SO through friend-of-friend connection. (Er. Friend-of-ex, actually, and while that was weird for a while, ex and I are very close friends such that I don’t normally think of him as “ex”.) So I think LW has the right idea! Go out and do activities you enjoy, find awesome friends, see if friends know anyone who is single and looking. People you like are likely to know *other* people you might like, even if they don’t want to come to your knitting bee.

      • That is so unhelpful of your mum! 🙂 I like sport, but I had never realized what most sport fans are like until I moved into my current apartment, which came equipped with a sport fan roommate who is not also an intellectual (my many-years best sport fan friend was a colleague). If you don’t like sport, you are not going to want to be with the kind of man who joins a group that attends sporting events.

        My boyfriend and I “met” on Twitter. 🙂

  26. multicoastal said:

    I love to matchmake and have set up three friends with people they eventually married. I also met my current long-term partner by being introduced by a mutual friend, right after another friend set me up with a friend of hers and it didn’t work out. So I have some experience here.

    1. There’s no shame in seeking love, so asking doesn’t have to be embarrassing and doesn’t have to be a big ask. The way I asked my friends to set me up was, ‘Just so you know, I am looking to date and looking for something serious, potentially leading to marriage. Could you keep an eye out for anyone you know who would be appropriate for me?’ I didn’t have to give my friends a laundry list of what I was looking for, because they are my friends and we’d had many conversations about love and dating, but they did ask me some specific questions, like ‘would you consider someone out of town?’. I do recommend being as clear as you can be about what kind of dating you are looking for – just having fun, something serious, or not sure – just because if I have a friend who is looking for something serious I don’t want to be setting her up with someone who definitely isn’t, it’s unkind to her.

    2. Normally when I set people up I say “I’d like to introduce you to someone” and say a bit about them. You can ask questions, and you can say no, and I’m not offended when people say no. On the other hand if you say no more than three times in a row I’ll probably stop asking, because I will start to doubt that people from my friend group, as selected by me, are really what you are looking for.

    3. I’m kind of flattered when people ask me to set them up – it means that they think highly enough of me and my friend group that they think I have good taste in people. It also shows a lot of trust.

    4. The point of being set up by friends is that it’s *not* picture-surfing or matching by algorithm – I set people up because I have a feeling they might like each other, and I can’t always explain why. Obviously I’m wrong a lot, but that’s why you don’t get married on a first date. But if you’re asking me really it should be because you think I’m sometimes right – that I know you well enough to have a sense of what kind of people you might get along with. I have had friends who turned out to have a hilariously wrong sense of what sort of man I’d get along well with, but fortunately they realized that after a few failed attempts and nothing bad happened.

    5. A note of warning: if a man says to me that he *must* date a woman who is slender, or much younger than he is, I am likely to reconsider not only setting him up but being friends with him at all. If that’s what you want, please look for it in some way that doesn’t involve making your female friends feel bad about their body or their age.

    But basically the whole matchmaking-by-friends system has worked very well from me on both sides and I highly recommend it.

    • JenniferP said:

      #5 #5 #5 is so important, I cannot tell you. You are allowed to have the most shallow preferences deep in your heart and in your pants, and I would never try to argue someone into being attracted to people you aren’t attracted to. But “Please have x type of body” in a dating profile means inviting everyone, including people who fit your parameters, to click right on by you because you are already making it weird. “I know we haven’t met yet, but I hope that all of your insecurities about your body are uppermost in your mind while you try to measure up to my exacting standards!” is NOT a good vibe to put out there.

      • Zooey said:

        Yes OMG! I recently helped a friend set up his dating profile, and he KEPT trying to sneak in some phrase about only wanting thin women. In the face of him repeatedly saying ‘but I’m just being honest!’ I basically wound up having to say ‘Yes, about being a jerk’. (What’s extra nice is that I am fat, so his jerkiness was right up in my face.)

        Am wondering now whether I shouldn’t have just let him keep it in, just to warn people what they were dealing with.

        • JenniferP said:

          I don’t know any woman of any weight who sees that stricture and goes “Oh yay, let’s do this!”

  27. TO_Ont said:

    I don’t know about the LW, but for me some of the turn-offs from online dating are:

    Fear of meeting people who are secretly rapists or otherwise not who they superficially seem. Meeting someone outside of a larger social context, without meeting any of their friends or watching them interact with other people when they’re not ‘performing’ for a date, makes me anxious.

    Embarassment and anxiety about the idea of posting what is basically an advertisement for myself. Fear that people will ask me embarassing personal questions. Not feeling comfortable revealing much personal, but OTOH feeling like the exercise is not likely to be very successful if I don’t.

    I’ve rarely really instantly hit it off with someone before – I normally wouldn’t likely feel attracted to someone or even realize I wanted to get to know them better or even possibly be friends with them until I’d known them or watched them in ‘real life’ for at least a few weeks, if not months. So I fear I would have a hard time figuring out whether or not to even go on a second date or not. And in the meantime going out for lunch one-on-one with a stranger sounds like an unappealing way to spend my time.

    I realize writing this down that I’m probably focusing on the negatives and risks WAY too much, and that I should probably try to be more optimistic and get over my anxiety and just give it a try some time. And invite people to do an actual activity with me instead of a forced sit-down conversation, since that would mitigate at least some of the negatives for me.

    • There’s a lot to be said for getting over anxieties around online dating, especially if a major goal of yours is to find a romantic partner. Online dating exposes you to a vastly larger pool of single, relationship-minded people than probably anything else you could do.

      On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up too much if online dating just isn’t for you. I’ve had an OKCupid profile for *years* now. I have gone on a number of dates, and I’ve come to realize that online dating just Doesn’t Work For Me. I, too, need to spend a decent amount of time (think: months, at minimum) with a person before I can even consider whether or not I’d want to pursue something romantic with them. That kind of preference doesn’t really mesh well with online dating, where the entire point of the set-up is that everyone is openly hoping to pursue romance with other folks on the dating platform. For a good many years, I tried to change this about myself. I really beat myself up for not being able to generate feelings of intimacy as quickly as other people (including many of my friends, several of whom are now in wonderful relationships because of online dating). I listened to well-intentioned friends who told me that I just needed to change this or that about the way I approached online dating. None of the advice worked, and taking it often made me feel kind of crappy about myself.

      About three months ago, I realized just how unhappy this perceived “inability” to conform to what works for others about online dating was making me. Since then, I’ve just completely written off online dating in my mind. I still have my profile up, but I don’t trawl through my matches or write to anyone any more. I leave the profile up because a) it’s a great profile and b) perhaps Prince or Princess Charming will see my profile, be utterly besotted, and send me a message saying “Hey. Would you like to meet each other in hopes of fostering romance with the caveat that we NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT DATING FOR SIX MONTHS?”. However, I realize that the possibility of that happening is very low, so I took the energy I was putting into online dating/beating myself up and put it toward attending Meet-ups (much more conducive to my preference for establishing friendship and [perhaps] intimacy). Even though I haven’t met anyone who I want to smooch through my Meet-ups, I’ve really enjoyed getting out and socializing in a way that feels more comfortable and comes with a lot less pressure.

      • NailBed said:

        As someone who has encountered a lot of okay-on-surface-but-behaviour-still-bears-uncanny-resemblance-to-misogyny men, is in a body type that’s frequently fetishised and gets a lot of obnoxious online comments, had people not even read my profile let alone answer relevant questions I could filter, got people sending me messages every two hours getting increasingly agitated I wouldn’t reply right away, and really, really, really did not like the dynamics of online dating and does not want to go back to it anytime within the next, oh, ten years? I am totally supportive of LW (who has tried it and already decided it does nothing for him!) doing something different.

        I get why other people like it, really. But I didn’t find that online dating helped me avoid the issues that I found problematic and distressing in my RL interactions. Quite the opposite.

  28. From Friend of a Friend’s Web site:

    “PLEASE NOTE: HETEROSEXUAL FEMALE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED AT THIS TIME UNLESS THE FEMALE APPLICANT SUCCESSFULLY REFERS A STRAIGHT MALE APPLICANT. He must register completely, at which point, registration access will be given to the female referee. Apologies for the inconvenience, but this is to ensure that the genders remain balanced.”

    Sounds like Toronto is the place to be for single het dudes!

  29. Does anybody find the term “blind date” ableist? I’m just wondering if folks might weigh in on that. Might be a fun linguistic activity to come up with an alternative… third-party match? Referral date? Hmmm….

    • Goat Lady said:

      Not really. Using “blind” in the sense of “willfully ignorant” is ableist as hell, but in this case it’s being used in the same way you’d use “double-blind clinical trial”. Not every metaphorical use of a disability-related word is ableist.

      I mean, I’m willing to discuss, especially if blind people want to weigh in. But it doesn’t ping my radar. Caveats include that I’m not blind, just crippled, but I am on cough syrup — so this isn’t an area that touches me personally and I may not be particularly coherent.

      • I am quite literally, half bind and have worsening cateracts in both eyes. I have no issue with this term.

  30. kathita said:

    This is actually the route my boyfriend took. He had been trying the online dating thing for a while without really getting anywhere. He works in an office full of women, most of whom are actually attached, but all of whom have at least a couple of single friends. He decided to start with one of my dearest friends, writing her an email with the subject line “Doop-dee-doo Needs A Date” and began by stating that he was a single man of good fortune in want of a relationship. Admittedly, he does not do subtly well, but he got to point quickly with humor, making it clear he wasn’t just looking to get laid. Plus my friend and I are massive Jane Austen nerds, so he buttered us both up nicely. I haven’t ever seen this email, so if he laid out any particular stipulations I don’t know them, but let’s flash forward to my perspective.

    After a lovely night of Game of Thrones and Mad Men, my dear friend and I head out in search of cake. After an unusual period of quiet, she brings up the fact that there’s this guy. She described him as objectively as she could, and said while she’d never played matchmaker before, she thought we’d hit if off and could she pass along my number. I had actually recently resolved to be open to more opportunities, so I said sure.

    My understanding is that my friend turned around and tried to do the same thing for Doop-dee-doo, describing my as objectively as she could muster, though I think she did throw in at least one, “Look, she’s my Maid of Honor, hurt her and I’ll cut you,” before passing my number along.

    A couple nights later he called. I actually really liked this. We were able to figure out right away if we were even able to carry on a conversation. We talked for an hour. Then we talked for another hour two days later. This was nearly two years ago.

    In short, it worked for us. Best of luck.

  31. Rose Fox said:

    Say only nice things about yourself.

    Given that the LW is in the UK, some of the self-deprecation is likely just culture/dialect, and approaching a friend about matchmaking help with vigorous cheer and zero abashedness would actually look pretty weird. I’m a very big fan of Use Your Words but I’m trying to imagine some of my English friends attempting to do anything at all involving dating without self-deprecation or disclaimers, and I’m not really managing it*.

    I agree that the LW should probably consider dialing back the negative self-talk if it goes beyond the level of typical Englishness, but “never humorously insult yourself again” may not be followable advice.

    * Other than the time that one of them, out of the blue, sent me the most gloriously explicit one-line proposition it has ever been my pleasure to receive. But I think he was as startled as I was.

    • Anon said:

      It’s also much easier in the UK (as far as I can tell: I’m British and have never lived anywhere else) to come across as being the sort of man who thinks he’s so wonderful he deserves a date, why aren’t you already setting me up with your single friends how could they NOT want to date me!? than it might be in a culture that’s less fixated on self-deprecating humour. The level at which someone starts to ping as ‘up themselves’ is set very low!

    • Emma said:

      I dunno. Self-deprecation is a very English thing and it can indeed be a very useful aspect of dialogue, in terms of making people feel comfortable and letting them know that they’re allowed to laugh at you and you won’t be upset (unless they’re actually being mean). But there is often a sort of slippage between self-deprecating humour and just saying mean things about yourself, which often goes under the radar, but does impact how people perceive you.

      Telling a story about something you did which was silly and went horribly wrong, joking about a mistake you keep making – those kinds of things make you come across as easy-going and confident (“I bought my girlfriend Bovril for Valentine’s day! It’s in a fricking SPECIAL EDITION JAR with an amusing illustration of a cow on the label! I am such a romantic, I simply don’t know how anyone can resist me.”).

      But on the other hand, saying self-deprecating stuff in a context which isn’t funny or light-hearted – or where the punchline is that you’re [a twerp/socially awkward/bad at three-point turns/not a great romantic potential] – can come across, at best, as a way of saying something difficult without being too embarassed, or at worst as actually thinking really badly of yourself (“It’s a good thing that shopkeeper was disproportionately impressed with me for holding the door for the guy with crutches, because my conversational skills with her were zombie-like!”). And that leaves people in the awkward position of not being sure whether they should laugh along, or assure you that they like you and don’t think you are whatever you just said you are.

  32. homeruncommitment said:

    LW, the thing that I noticed in your letter (which is not a good or a bad thing – it’s just a thing!) is that you use a lot of financial / economic terms and values when you talk about your love life. “False economy” of cutting back on time spent doing hobbies. “Enjoy the benefits of the expansion” of your friendship circle. “Outsourcing the problem” of meeting women to trusted friends. These might just be turns of phrase like any other or something that’s from your job, but maybe applying an economic approach in terms of dating ‘yield’ etc. isn’t necessarily the most helpful way to go about it and framing it in this way could maybe part of why it’s frustrating. I think dating may be messier, more confusing, less ordered or predictable – and as Cap’n said, embracing the chaos might be where it’s at.

    • Best-Turkey said:

      I think there’s a happy balance to be reached between “embracing the chaos” and “playing smart”. Just because there isn’t a 100% wins-every-time super-optimal strategy doesn’t mean there isn’t a distinction between “a good strategy” and “an utter waste of time”.

    • winter said:

      Also “salse pitching” people just sounds wrong. Maybe don’t.

      • Manattee said:

        Thank you. +1 (WordPress ate my comment about this.)

  33. emberweasel said:

    I’m a thirty-something woman in the UK, date me! Kidding, but there are a lot of us out there. A lot of women will only be looking to meet someone through online dating, because it enables us to weed out some of the really scary dealbreakers before we even have any contact. I’m open to meeting someone IRL but in truth I can’t see it happening, as all my friends are either a) married b) recently divorced and thinking what a nice good-time girl I would make, bleh or c) long-term single either by choice or for very good reasons (full disclosure, I am probably in category c). Online dating allows me to find people who are really aligned with my interests.

    Slightly off topic, but is anyone who uses OKC amazed by the things people will admit to over the internet? “Why yes, I am a white supremacist and a serial rapist, but you should totes date me!”. WHAAAAAAAA

    • MellifluousDissent said:

      Your last line just reminded me of one of my favorite OKC messages I ever received – OKC had us marked as 95% enemies, he was an ultra-right-winger with fun bits of racism and homophobia in his profile, and he messaged me (polar opposite politically, and also, hey, not a racist homophobe!) with “Ur hot – why don’t we see if opposites attract? heh heh”

      I responded with “They don’t,” because I have this weird brain ailment that requires me to respond to idiots (I believe my mother calls it “having a smart mouth”). His response? “whutever ur fat ne way” Because “fat” is the worst insult he could come up with, I guess?

      It was possibly my favorite unsuccessful interaction on that site.

      • Linden said:

        I like the comeback, “I was fat when you messaged me.”

        • MellifluousDissent said:

          Dammit. I wish I’d thought of that line back then!

    • paddlepickle said:

      I’m always shocked when people answer the “No means No” question with “sometimes it’s really a yes in disguise” or even worse “a no is just a yes that needs a little convincing”. I wish that answering that way would get you banned from the site.

      • notemily said:

        I like that it doesn’t, though. If it did, people would just lie.

  34. Medallinginsomething said:

    Just to note that, as a Brit, I haven’t personally encountered the same kind of dating culture in the UK as seems to be the norm in the US. I have never known anyone to set someone up on a date with someone they didn’t already know well! I’m not saying this wouldn’t happen, I just wonder if it might be more awkward here.

    In my experience (40s, female, been around), prospective romantic or casual partners have met either via friends-of-friends (and this is where a wide network of friends is so helpful), or via the Internet in as similar way. I met my partner via Livejournal friends, FWIW, and know of a few in the same boat.

    • Myrin said:

      Yeah, same thing in Germany (which is probably why, whenever I see an advisor suggest online dating as the first choice of meeting new people, I’m initially surprised [although I’ve read about it often enough by now] because while online dating exists here it’s far less prevalent). It’s always interesting to me to see these different understandings of what “dating” means come together.

    • Kathyn said:

      I’m British too and was thinking this. I like organising parties, so I will often invite a few single people who have common interests but haven’t met yet and make sure I introduce them, but I wouldn’t set up a formal date for two specific people.

    • Clementine Danger said:

      Yeah, Belgian here, and I’ve been thinking for a while now that the dating culture in the US is kind of unique to the US. Online dating exists here too but has nowhere near as many options as in the US, and most couples I know started out as friends-of-friends, or met at school or work. We just don’t DO dating as a separate activity. It’s hard to explain, but “dating” just isn’t an activity here. We don’t even have a word for it. It just doesn’t register that way. It all falls under the “meeting new people” umbrella.

      That being said, LW knowingly wrote in to a US-based advice columnist, so I trust he knows what he’s doing and how to adapt it for his own culture.

  35. Erin McJ said:

    I really like both the letter and the response from CA. I just wanted to add that my parents met on a blind date, and have been married 37 years. 🙂

  36. Guava said:

    FWIW, LW, I’ve had a lot of success with being set up on blind dates when I wasn’t told it was a blind date, or even a setup. For example: a friend is throwing a party, I meet a guy there, we click, and later I find out that they invited him because they thought maybe we’d hit it off. In all cases, the friends knew that I was interested in meeting someone, but for me, it took away the pressure of feeling obligated to date someone that I maybe wasn’t interested in because I didn’t want to offend the person setting us up.

    I know other people might not prefer this, but it has worked really well for me (met my spouse this way.)

    • That’s my favorite way of setting people up. Inviting them both to a relatively small party (10-20) and besides the standard “hey, this is Miss Bennett, this is Mr. Darcy” introduction to the crowd, let chemistry do its work. I’ve gotten 3 relationships out of this method.

  37. caedocyon said:

    I’ve had matchmaking requests from a few friends over the last year or so—a straight guy, a gay woman, and a straight woman. They have all phrased it lightly and humorously, and there was nothing creepy about it. (The straight woman made the theme of her birthday “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” and asked people to either bring milkshake ingredients or eligible bachelor friends. Not sure if a straight guy could pull this off the same way, of course, but it helps if your friends, especially your female friends, know you and can weigh in on what you can say without coming off creepy.)

    It’s also quite flattering to be asked, though it prompted my partner and I to realize that 80% of our social circle is queer Jewish women and almost all the guys eventually turn out to be gay… We didn’t come up with anyone except for the first, and it ended up not working out for them to meet because they were both in the process of moving, but I don’t think you’re on the wrong track here.

  38. Kittentastic said:

    Yes I’ve tried the invite two single people who I knew were both looking and I thought might hit it off to a party before. All was going swimmingly and they seemed to be enjoying talking to each other, until she drank too much, threw up on his shoes and passed out on the sofa.
    You can try, but you can’t win them all.

    • Guava said:

      Oddly enough, that’s exactly how I met my best male friend in uni. I still remember the suede shoes I ruined with my vodka-cranberry puke!

  39. Lucy said:

    It’s nice to know there are other people out there in the same place I am! I’m 29, my last relationship ended four years ago, and I have recently been making a concerted effort to meet a new guy. Same as you, I have found that clubs, hobbies, etc have increased my friend count (excellent!) but not led to any romantic success. I’m also in the UK so you are not the last turkey in the shop!

  40. kimmyontheinternet said:

    I’m unfortunately not useful with dating advice because I never really successfully “dated” – I was serially monogamous from high school through college and ended up marrying the guy with whom I had my first real “grown up” relationship. Though, this is probably for the best, as the thought of dating terrifies me. So, LW, more power to you for getting out there so courageously and making lots of friends.

    My main reason for coming on over to comment is that I just got done reading an article about an online matchmaking service, which reminded me about this CA post, so I headed back over to leave a comment.

    Granted, it still isn’t cheap (it’s $600 a month), but according to their statistics 81% of their users go on a second date within 3 months of using the service, which seem like they’re pretty good odds, I think? (Again, coming from someone who’s not super familiar with what dating success looks like.)

    Anyhoo, the article about it is here: http://www.thebolditalic.com/articles/6794-singles-tired-of-swiping-paying-600-dollar-mo-for-a-dating-concierge

    It certainly sounds intriguing, though it isn’t nearly as inexpensive as the service the Captain linked to, it does seem cheaper than most. Regardless of what route you take, I hope you’re able to go on some awesome dates and best of luck to you!

  41. got gingham said:

    LW, for cert stop calling yourself a turkey.

    You are amazing.

    Not to me. I don’t know you, but *somebody* thinks so, right now, but not here, far off where–we don’t yet know and nor do they know. That is all.

    The mathematical probability that they exist is a given.

    The problem, is you have to go through the maze, to find them. (Advice above–spot on)

    Oh wait. No, once you find them its an entirely new letter to the Captain… The art of maintaining the relationship.

    So, my advice? Be amazing anyway.

    Yes it’s probably obvious your hobbies are vehicles towards dating avenues. Maybe scale them back, just be amazing at one.

    I’ve done volunteer stuff, amatuer theatre, DIY fundraising events–all great ways to meet people. Those who are truly passionate vs those solely there to “expand” their social world is clearly dilineated. Not judged upon–but certainly obvious. There’s a balance.

    Don’t be afraid to own your judgments: “I want to have a romantic liaison with somebody compatible.” Nobody sneers at that announcement.

    (It sounds like you’ve this side covered, but a reminder not to squeeze it too tight. Volunteer coordinator is often confused with “dating pool supervisor” in many orgs I’ve been involved with.)

    Also, really, LW –have some perspective. 32 is still young, and a funny demographic–you are 14 years older than legal adults of 18 years of age and 18 years younger than a 50 year old demi centurian… When I was your age kids in their mid-20s were all still “discovering themselves”, the people my age were all taken, and *at the time* people in their forties intimidated me. It was a strange step to look up and down from… But dont worry.

    This decade travels fast. Trust me. Five years goes by in a flash. What you think is a recent pop song that came out two haircuts ago is suddenly 10 years old… It truly zings by.

    Be amazing anyway. Relationships are enormous projects.

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