≡ Menu

“I’m 30 And Have Never Had A Date!”

New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. If you don’t find the info you need in this column, please visit the Dear Wendy archives or the forums (you can even start your own thread), or submit a question for advice.

I am 30 years old, relatively successful in my current career track, intelligent, attractive, easy to talk to, and very friendly. I seem to be able to get along with absolutely everybody and make others feel at ease. So what’s my problem? I’ve never had a boyfriend. I’ve never even been on a date. To the best of my knowledge, no guy has ever been attracted to me. None of my girl friends believe me when I inform them of this fact. Why would I lie about being such a loser in love? I’ve asked them when we’re out with guys if I’m giving off some sort of lesbian or “don’t come near me!” vibe, but they say I’m not. I’m very good friends now with someone whom I would love to date, but I’m afraid I’ve already fallen into the “friend zone” with him. I have tried online dating too, by the way, and that didn’t go well. I try very hard to celebrate my singleness and most of the time I succeed, but with my (younger) sister’s wedding coming up I’m getting just a little bit less celebratory. Is it time to join a convent? — 30 and Dateless

No, it’s not time to join a convent, but it’s definitely time to adjust your attitude. It’s great that you think you’re relatively successful, intelligent, attractive, easy to talk to, and very friendly, but why on earth haven’t you extended some of that confidence and positive thinking toward your love life? And why are you so convinced no guy has ever been attracted to you? How can you possibly know the thoughts of every guy who has ever laid eyes on you? You can’t. The truth is, there’s no conceivable way you could have any idea how many men have been attracted to you over the years, and the fact that you think you do, leads me to believe you suffer from some sort of extreme “relationship dysmorphic disorder,” a term I totally made up that’s inspired by the definition of “body dysmorphic disorder.”

Body dysmorphic disorder is a “psychological disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her body image.” It’s commonly understood as the disorder in which a person sees something in the mirror that greatly differs from what others see when looking at him or her (imagine a skinny person seeing a fat person in the mirror). Relationship dysmorphic disorder is, as I define it, a psychological disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her ability to attract a mate and sustain a relationship. The idea of RDD is that the affected person thinks she is defected when it comes to relationships (and should join a convent), while people who know her can’t understand where in the world these thoughts come from.

So, how can you treat RDD? Well, to start with, I’d suggest therapy to get to the root of where these negative thoughts stem from. Was there verbal abuse in your past? Were you criticized a lot as a child? Do you suffer from social anxiety? I’d also enlist a very good friend or two to be brutally honest with you about how she perceives your search for love. Surely, you have a dear friend who has been privy to your relationship woes. What does she think is the issue? Let me be clear: you are not asking your friend why she thinks men aren’t attracted to you; you’re asking her why she thinks you haven’t had luck in your search for a date. There’s a difference.

While you have the help and support of a good friend, I’d suggest you fire up on the ol’ online profile again. You say your initial foray into online dating “didn’t go well,” but what does that mean? Clearly, you didn’t even go on a first date with anyone, so what are you basing your critique on? Did you strike up an email correspondence with anyone? Was there anyone you found attractive or interesting? Were you proactive in reaching out to those people or did you passively wait to be contacted? Did you cast a wide enough net, or were you limiting your search to handsome 33-year-old MDs with Doberman Pinschers? Pinpointing exactly why your online dating experiment “didn’t go well” will go a long, long way in figuring out why you haven’t had any luck in relationships in general. Maybe you’re too picky. Maybe you aren’t as friendly as you think you are. Maybe you aren’t presenting yourself in the best light or making it easy for men to find you (for example, not posting a picture of yourself is a sure way to limit the amount of attention you attract online).

Finally, if you actually have a guy in your real life whom you’re into, for the love of God, ask him out already! If he says “no,’ you’ll survive, and you’ll also have a wonderful opportunity to learn a little something, especially if you’re as close with him as you say you are. If he says no to your request for a date, ask if there’s anything you’re doing that’s sabotaging your chances at love. I simply don’t believe that a 30-year-old woman who is everything you say you are would have as much trouble finding a date as you have without taking some active role in her situation. There’s either some reason you don’t want to date (men) and you’re subconsciously sabotaging your attempts, or, as I said earlier, you suffer from RDD and the defects you think you have when it comes to relationships only exist in your head. Either way, one thing’s clear: you’d benefit from therapy (and a little tough love from a few close friends) much more than you would a trip to a convent.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar Desiree March 1, 2011, 9:44 am

It is statistically unlikely (in the extreme) that no man has ever been attracted to her, but I am interested in the fact that she has never been on a date. Maybe guys have asked her out before without her realizing they were expressing sexual interest? It just seems unlikely that a woman would go thirty years without being hit on, so I am inclined to think a lot of this is in her head. When I was younger, I was very hard on myself (and had body image issues) and therefore thought that no guys were interested in me. Looking back on it, I now realize that I was hit on quite a lot, but I didn’t pick up on it because of my negative perspective. The other side is that she may be extremely picky. Some women will moan, “No man wants to date me,” but they really mean, “No handsome millionaire with a heart of gold wants to date me.” Realistic expectations and a deep appreciate for genuine people with all their charms and flaws will go a long way in the search for a great mate.

avatar WatersEdge March 1, 2011, 9:46 am

I agree with you, in addition to my post.

avatar alli_wan March 1, 2011, 11:02 am

“It is statistically unlikely (in the extreme) that no man has ever been attracted to her, but I am interested in the fact that she has never been on a date.”

Statistically unlikely does not mean impossible. I really don’t know why this is so difficult to fathom. Yes, there are women out there who are ‘too picky’ and moan that no Prince Charmings out there are falling at their feet, but unfortunately, however unlikely you think it to be, the Undateable are out there. I know because I’m one of them. People forget that for any one person to be ‘more desireable’ there has to be someone else who is ‘less desireable.’ While for some people this is a temporary condition, some of us are less lucky that way.

When I was in high school, the idea of anyone dating me was a joke. I was fat, unstylish, nerdy and unpopular. As I matured I found friends, but not dates. The idea of going to prom was so ludicrous that to this day I still don’t know if my mother understood that not even same-sex friends would want to go with me, or if she just thought my class never had a prom. (She went so bananas for my sister’s prom that I suspect the former).

I then opted to attend a women’s college. Not being either lesbian or bisexual, the odds of dating did not improve. I am however, unique among my straight college friends in that I was never once hit on by a woman. It’s not like I wouldn’t have figured it out eventually, everyone else did. For me, it didn’t happen. It wasn’t the men who didn’t find me attractive, it was clearly everyone.

I then went on to graduate school in science. No one has time to date anyway, but it really didn’t matter. By then I was fat again and spent all my time in the lab. It was about this time that I realized I was not in fact oblivious to flirting, because I realized it was happening to people all around me in my presence, just not to me. It was rather like high school all over again, but without the put downs.

Now I’m 33 years old, still Undateable (though thinner), and am surrounded by Married People With Children. Somehow I have managed to go from the Land of Singles to the Land of Married without ever passing through the Dating Lands. I could blame it on shallow men (and shallow women?) but I’m honest; the common denominator is me. I’ve been thin, I’ve been fat, I’ve had bad teeth, I’ve had them fixed, I’ve had terrible clothes, I’ve had better clothes, I’ve worked crazy hours and I’ve had times of work/life balance. None of it has ever made a difference.

As for the ‘near misses’ of ‘men who were supposedly attracted to me,’ it consists of 1) the 30-something sci-fi con boy who half-heartedly hit on me at a con, after hitting on every single other female at the con first. He was actively looking for a place to sleep. I don’t consider this a sign of attraction when his pick up line consisted of ‘I think your friends are trying to set you up with me’ as opposed to daring to suggest he might actually want that. 2) the guy who flirted with me on the bus, whose first act on our ‘date’ was to pee in the bushes, then want to ‘hug’ and who continued to call. That he spent most of the ‘date’ planning our financial future and ‘didn’t have a phone number’ told me he was looking for a meal ticket and seemed to think scientists make a lot of money. Just because I’m Undateable doesn’t mean I don’t know that men who don’t have phone numbers are men who are already living with someone else.

Some of you may argue ‘but look, see, it’s statistically impossible to NEVER have someone be attracted to you.’ Having someone attracted to your dorm room or your wallet is not having someone be attracted to you, and going your whole adult life without the barest nibble of attraction is not so impossible that it doesn’t happen. Hollywood likes to tell us that the shy wall flower or the wimpy nerdy guy gets out of high school and becomes a vixen or a hunk or at least reaches a reasonable level of attractiveness and finds a companion. Reality says that sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Some people get over the dating barrier, other people find hobbies and adopt cats. It’s not that it’s statistically impossible for Undateable people to exist, you’re probably just not noticing them either.

avatar callmehobo March 1, 2011, 11:12 am

Alli, it sounds like you are suffering from RDD, too.

It also sounds like you don’t have a whole lot of confidence in yourself. I think you could benefit from some therapy, like Wendy told the LW. This self efficacy is unhealthy- and it may contribute to your perceived “undateableness”

I’m so sorry you feel this way about yourself. No one deserves to feel unwanted. Please, please find a professional to help you work through this.

avatar ReginaRey March 1, 2011, 11:24 am

AMEN. Alli, you definitely need a big jolt of confidence. No one deserves to go through life thinking all of those negative things about themself! Who cares if you once had bad teeth, or you were overweight? There are PLENTY of people out there with those same qualities (and WORSE, I know!) who like what they see in the mirror. And there are plenty of guys who would like that reflection, too. I promise you that the reason you, and the LW are “undateable” (which you are not!) is because YOU think you are. Guys are very tuned-in to confidence, and if you have none, and if you dislike yourself as much as you seem to, how in the world can THEY like and love you? It may sound tired, but people will love you if you love yourself first.

avatar alli_wan March 1, 2011, 12:06 pm

I really don’t want you to feel sorry for me. Most of the time I don’t. But I really get tired of dating advice consisting solely of ‘oh, just change your attitude and it will happen.’ No, sometimes it won’t. Sometimes no matter how much you want it to, it really, really won’t, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for my ‘dating life’ to happen. I know too many bitter people who, even having had a dating life, however small, found it got them exactly nowhere. At some point you have to throw in the towel and find something else to do.

I didn’t write that overly long post to get sympathy, more to just say that it’s actually not all that unheard of for someone to get to age 30 and for them to be just as undesired and invisible dating wise as they were when they were 14, if not more so. I don’t have Wendy’s ‘Dating Dysphoric Disorder’, because I really do have a realistic view of my dating prospects. I don’t have Body Dysmorphic Disorder either. I’m know when I’ve been fat, I know when I’ve been less fat (and I’m really happy with my current weight, and really only want to weigh less for health reasons at this point). But being self-sufficient, confident, independent, somewhat thinner and somewhat better dressed is not going to change my dating prospects. It never has before, and it never will. My goal in life is finding something else to judge my self worth on and find some other route to happiness and fulfillment, because dating has never been an option.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that for some people changing their attitude might work, but it’s really not going to work for everybody, and it’s not always the root of the problem. And just because someone may ‘feel’ like no one has ever been attracted (or more specifically, no one has ever expressed interest), doesn’t mean it isn’t true. For some people it is, and it’s very dismissive to assume that this can’t happen to someone.

avatar ladiejoy March 1, 2011, 12:38 pm

Sorry, you wrote this while I was writing my reply – and you address some of the things I say. First, I don’t feel sorry for you. YOU are the only one with the power to change, so if you choose to go through life with this pitiful attitude then it’s your own damn fault if you can’t find someone to share your life with, even on an interim or casual basis.
“being self sufficient, confident, independent, somewhat thinner and somewhat better dressed is not going to change my dating prospects. IT NEVER HAS BEFORE AND IT NEVER WILL.” Yeah it hasn’t done anything before because you don’t BELIEVE in the power of those things to change you. And your fatalistic approach to the future is simply ridiculous. It’s like you’ve built this wall of steel around you. I’m not saying that dating is even a requirement to being happy – but you quite obviously have such negativity about it that it’s clear it IS important to you, whether you admit it or not.
I think the best thing you said was that you need to find other roads to happiness and fulfillment. I honestly wish you success with that… because once you find that, I think you might just be surprised at what else you find – thus proving the point that attitude IS everything.

Look, I know it doesn’t sound like it here but I am in actuality an extremely empathetic person. I like to make people feel good about themselves, not tear them down. I don’t want this to come across as I’m berating you so I hope you’re not taking it that way. I really just want you to BELIEVE that these things that “everyone” is telling you are true, and use that as a force for good in your life.

avatar realist_here March 29, 2014, 3:41 pm

Pointlessly positive people can be so annoying. They are wired to be positive against all facts and all odds and in the face of all reality. And they are tolerant of anyone but a person that doesn’t share their unbridled optimism. All you positive people do is set people up for disappointment when the unfortunate truth doesn’t match your pie in the sky unpractical viewpoint.

meadowphoenix AB March 1, 2011, 1:39 pm

I got a question for you. Have you ever asked anyone else out on a date. If you haven’t, if you’ve been waiting to be pursued, then yes it IS an attitude problem.

avatar Krissy March 1, 2011, 3:15 pm

I was once the same way as you alli wan. I grew up overweight, did some fluctuating throughout college, lost some, gained some, changed my hair, my clothes and my makeup. At the time, I felt pretty good about myself. I was a little on the shy side, but I had plenty of friends. I had pretty much resigned myself to a life of singleness and was pretty ok with it. I didn’t get any attention from men aside from the occasional guy that was really just using me to get to my friend. At that point in my life, I would have had the exact same things to say, that I was confident, happy with my looks and apparently men just weren’t interested. Then something changed. I had a few really rough life experiences that launched me into a bout of pretty bad anxiety and depression. During that year, everything in my life was difficult, from just getting in a car, to going out with friends. When I finally emerged from this episode, I had a completely new perspective on life. All of the little things that people take for granted I was thrilled with! Just feeling good enough to go out with friends on a friday night was enough to make me giddy. I lost 30 lbs and actually became the completely healthy sized person that I assumed I never would be (like I said, I was pretty ok with being 170 lbs, I was overweight but not huge or anything). I also started to embrace life more. I start looking at socializing completely differently. I stopped going out at night hoping to meet men, and started just going to have fun. I actually loved meeting new people and striking up random conversations, something that I was ok at before, but didn’t exactly enjoy. I started viewing all of these interactions as a way to enrich my life. Meeting new people was like a fun new game that I had never even known existed before. It wasn’t until I had gone through my episode with anxiety that I realized the kinds of vibes I was sending off before. I may not have been unhappy with myself, but I certainly never thought I was sexy. I didn’t expect anyone to be interested, so they weren’t! The first time I woke up thinking, damn i’m a pretty good catch, I started acting that way! People just seemed to believe whatever I thought in my head about myself. Before, I didn’t know how to interact with men and I was too afraid of awkward rejection to try. Now I look at every person I meet as a possible new friend. When I started loving life, men started flocking to me. It seems that all they really want is to be around someone that is having fun and enjoying themselves, no matter what the circumstances. The change that took place in me was very subtle, but it made all the difference when in came to relationships. Relationships shouldn’t be some type of goal that we have to reach in our lives. Mine happened to me when I was too busy enjoying myself and playing this new socializing game to even notice the new attention I was getting.

avatar MJ March 1, 2011, 10:36 pm

I completely know where you’re coming from, Alli. I honestly don’t know what it is about me that doesn’t really attract men, but I’ve had a relationship with exactly one dude in my 32 years of life. I’m kind of plain and I’ve been fatter and thinner–but the whole “getting hit on” thing just doesn’t seem to happen for me. I have friends, a decent job, interests, etc., and I’ve had people tell me they have no idea why I’m single…

Anyway, people always say it’s your attitude, or that you’ve had a bad childhood or whatever…but I honestly don’t think that’s the case. It is what it is, and the options are a) get over it or b) sit around and bemoan your lack of coupling.

That said, I’m not giving up hope completely–and I know I’ll have a good life, coupled or not. But I do believe your experience to be accurate.

avatar HP March 11, 2011, 2:18 am

All I wanted to say is that I’ve been where alli is, and I get it. While we’d all love to believe that everyone should be happily coupled up, it’s not for everyone, for a number of reasons. There are other things to do with your life besides define it by your significant other.

Also, as a (somewhat negative) sidenote, if I had written alli’s original post, I wouldn’t have appreciated the unsolicited advice about how to make myself more attractive to others. Then again, I’m just projecting, so I’ll stop there.

avatar Jessica February 21, 2012, 9:06 pm

I really enjoyed reading your posts. You are so cool and very inspiring.

avatar Desiree March 1, 2011, 11:48 am

I think Wendy’s point (and mine) is that it is impossible to know this because it is impossible to get inside the head of every person who has ever seen you. “And why are you so convinced no guy has ever been attracted to you? How can you possibly know the thoughts of every guy who has ever laid eyes on you? You can’t. “

avatar ladiejoy March 1, 2011, 12:19 pm

Wow, Alli. I’m going to be brutally honest here, because I really can’t think of any other way to approach this. I can FEEL the waves of negativity emanating from your post. Your tone is incredibly bitter… Now, I completely understand the feelings of bitterness and anger after reading your life as you’ve described it. However, I can’t help but feel that if a random stranger on the internet such as myself is so affected by your negative attitude (that’s like a combination of “poor me” and “fuck you”), that you are likely projecting this on the people you interact with on a regular basis IRL.
It is heartbreaking to me to think that some people are so full of self loathing or so lacking in confidence that it affects every facet of their life… I know it’s cliche but I agree with the others that it sounds like you (as well as the LW) could benefit from therapy. I absolutely don’t believe that you are Undateable, and I don’t even know you. Every negative thing about yourself that you described was physical in nature. You know, that’s not the be all and end all of the dating world. Where is your personality? There are a damn lot of men out there who REALLY dig a chick because of her personality and/or because of common interests – and those are the very guys that are also likely to find you physically attractive. You’re clearly not looking in the right places.
But bottom line, you have to lose the attitude. Besides the fact that so much negativity can manifest itself in various physical ways, it does you absolutely NO good – people are intuitive and they can sense when someone has no confidence.
I’d say figure out where your interests lie, start participating in some activities that include said interests (outside of work), get some therapy, and you’d be amazed at how it can affect your life. It sounds cliche – but cliches exist because most of the time they’re true.

avatar _jsw_ March 1, 2011, 12:33 pm

@alli_wan: I’m guessing that your reaction to people saying that you’ve got RDD (and/or BDD) and just need more confidence in order to get guys to want to go out with you is probably something along the lines of “they have no idea what they’re talking about.” Your comment was very well-written and detailed, and you have certainly been dealing with this for a very long time. So… I’m going to assume that you’re absolutely right. Furthermore, I’m going to assume you’re not just unattractive but actively, repulsively ugly – no matter how you actually look, what I’m imagining is worse. The way I’m picturing you – and, again, it’s far worse than you are – there’s no way any degree of confidence would help you.

Given that, are things helpless? No. Not even given that.

First, as others have recommended, exercise. There is no downside to that, assuming you don’t get so extreme that you injure yourself. Exercise is always a good thing. It builds confidence, it improves body image, it make you feel better physically and mentally. You’re a scientist. You know this.

Second, figure out a good target weight – or more properly, a good target size, and get there. Your body is changeable, and you can reach the size you want. You can’t change your genetics, but you can change your shape. Being at a good weight for your height has numerous benefits, and there’s no downside to that, either. Again, you know this.

Third, make sure your attire suits you. Doesn’t need to be sexy, but make sure you like the way you look in it. This also builds confidence and, aside from some cost which can be minimal, it has no downside.

After all of that, I’ll assume you’ll be a healthy, in shape, well-rested, well-dressed ugly person. You won’t be, but I’ll continue with that assumption. Even so, at that point, you’ll be far more dateable because you’ll feel better about yourself. It’s inevitable. You cannot possibly exercise, get into a good shape and weight, dress well, and not feel at least better.

Next, if you truly are just screwed genetically, fix those things that seem most fixable. There’s really nothing about one’s appearance that cannot be changed. I am not an advocate of plastic surgery in most cases, but if what stands between you and happiness is a nose, or your teeth, or whatever, then… fix them.

As soon as you are ok with the way you look, you will find that guys will be attracted to you. Not all men, everywhere, but enough men, and not just strange ones on buses and at conventions. The key really is confidence, but when you’re so positive you don’t have any reason to have it, you first need to build those reasons.

avatar WatersEdge March 1, 2011, 2:46 pm

JSW- very true. There are so many things about our appearances that are within our control, that genetics only plays a part in the final outcome of how we look. And even if Alli or the LW were repulsively ugly, which I doubt, there are plenty of men who are also less attractive than average. There is no such thing as undateable. None. Doesn’t exist. Everyone’s love life is within their control.

avatar DesiDad December 2, 2013, 1:59 pm

I have some suggestions to LW and alli_wan.

1. Did you ask some of your close friends to set you up with some guy? Why not?

2. Did you seek out some shy, possibly less-than-hot guy who was staying close to the wall at some event, not really able to work up the nerve to barge in and talk to the girls? Why not? You could be doing BOTH of you a huge favor!

3. Go to a bar or club in an area where nobody knows you, with a couple of close girlfriends. Try to just strike up a conversation with some decent guys, or encourage it if/when it happens. Ask them what you could change about you to attract more invitations to dates. I feel most decent guys will give you pretty blunt pointers about what vibe you are giving out, rather than what vibe YOU THINK you are giving out.

avatar lemongrass March 1, 2011, 12:48 pm

I have a coworker who is in her mid thirties and has never dated, who is still a virgin. She feels pretty much the same way about it as you do, I absolutely can see where you are coming from. She is overweight and I do think that adds a lot to her stress. From my perspective though, it doesn’t matter. I think she is beautiful, and fucking hilarious, and a wonderful person. If I was a lesbian I would date her because I truly believe she is worthy and deserving of love.
I have a feeling you are the same way.

avatar moonflowers March 1, 2011, 6:01 pm

I never realized it until I chatted on a dating site recently with a really depressed guy looking for a girlfriend, but the slightest hint of low expectations or negativity is so easy to pick up. I’m definitely not the most well-adjusted person, but this guy’s attitude was filtering into even his initial attempts to contact me, and it was making me less than enthusiastic to meet him, even though he was doing his best to appear happy and confident and hide the problems he had.

I have the same problem of believing that “men don’t like me” myself, but this run-in convinced me that i probably am not hiding that negative belief as well as I think I am, and it might just be thinking this way that is turning folks off. You may be attracting a lot of early attention from guys, but they get discouraged by the whole “you couldn’t possibly be into me” attitude and will usually give up before making their interest known to you.

This is something I’m still working on myself, but I’ve only recently realized that If you insist on believing men don’t like you that way, it will be difficult for a man to truly convince you otherwise. It’s pretty painful for the person who loves you if you keep doubting them by indirectly saying that you don’t think you’re attractive, so why should they.

avatar Encouraged November 23, 2012, 4:54 am

I can relate to this post. This is very much my life as I am almost 30-years old and have never had a boyfriend and have been on one date (and I had to ask him out). I will be honest. Weight is an issue and I was constantly criticized as a child and told no man would want me for being fat. I have a VERY critical family. I seem to really get the brunt of it from all angles. It’s like they all take a opportunity to kick me in the face. Fast forward and I’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid issue that I am treating and I feel hopeful about my health as it relates to my weight.

I still feel really insecure about, well, me. I admit I don’t have very many friends — people my age don’t tend to want to be friends with me — which means I don’t get out, well, at all. I also find myself single in the land of the married.I have a kick ass career that requires me to be people oriented. But when you’re the manager, it puts you off limits to some of the social avenues in the workplace.

And if you don’t feel sorry for me yet. I am an African-American female living in place that is predominately Caucasian. Needless to say, I am at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to standards of beauty. And speaking of stats, studies show that most men would rather date any race other than a black women, even if they are a black man.

Well folks, this is my everyday reality. So while I feel more hopeful about my weight, I feel very helpless about my social situation.

avatar DesiDad December 2, 2013, 2:01 pm

If you have a thyroid issue, the weight issue may go away. Best luck!

avatar mthom6430 January 31, 2014, 2:13 pm

It’s possible. I am 45 and have never dated anyone. I have met guys via Internet, in person and otherwise. None of those meetings ever resulting in a “dating” relationship. Some of this was the result of not willing to compromise on Christian values but other than that I am totally disappointed that I do not really appeal to guys. If I meet someone I am interested in, I pursue them and not the other way around. I am at a totally hopeless state now and at the point of just going out with anybody for whatever reason

avatar WatersEdge March 1, 2011, 9:45 am

Even though this LW thinks that she is doing everything right, there is probably something she can do to make herself more attractive/appealing to the opposite sex. The signal that she wants to date is not coming across.

Learn to flirt. Smile, make eye contact, ask for help with something then smile and say thank you. Practice making small talk with strangers so you don’t lose your cool when talking to a cute guy.

Exercise- even if your weight is perfect, it will get you in tune with your body and make you feel more confident and sexy.

Check out your clothes. Are they clean, ironed? Do they match? Do they flatter your figure? Guys are visual creatures- are your clothes girly? Some may disagree with this advice, but I really do think that girly colors and cuts (pretty, brighter colored shirts with feminine details like a v-neck, a cami + cardi with a little lace or a little ruffle) send the message that you’re single and available to date. If those really aren’t your thing, start with small approximations and work your way up.

avatar Desiree March 1, 2011, 9:48 am

I like your point about girly clothes. It may not translate into the same outfit for every woman, but feminine details on clothing do seem to make women more approachable for men.

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 1, 2011, 10:01 am

The clothes definitely matter. Men are very visually oriented and women dress to take advantage of that fact. I think this is often subconscious but if you watch what women wear you will see that women who are not in a long term commited relationship dress more provactively/sexily than women who are in a long term committed relationship. The clothing says, “I’m available, you can approach me.” The flip side of this is that women in long term relationships will often tone down their clothes and then their boyfriend feels like the woman no longer wants to be attractive to him but it really means she is committed to him.

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 1, 2011, 11:22 am

I think flirty clothes are a statement and an invitation. “I’m flirting with you won’t you come flirt with me.”

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 1, 2011, 10:07 am

If you have no idea why men don’t approach you I suggest you get a book on body language. Especially one devoted to the body language of dating or sexual chemistry. If you search Amazon.com for body language books you will find quite a few that are specifically geared to dating. I think they would help you to begin giving signals that show you’re interested and would also help you pick up on the signals that men are giving that show they are interested in you. Besides, these books are just plain fun to read.

avatar Margblogger March 1, 2011, 10:15 am

I’ve got a similar story to the LW. I’m 26 and I’ve just gotten into really dating. I always had “dates” to prom and such, but they weren’t really dates or guys that wanted to be my boyfriend, they were friends. I didn’t really go on my first date until I was 23. My mother jokes that I was born without the flirting gene, and I think she’s right! Maybe the LW just doesn’t realize when a guy is flirting with her, because I sure didn’t. I’d have a guy hitting on me and it would go right over my head until my friends would pull me aside and yell at me for not flirting back. Now that I’ve made a more concious effort to flirt and be just a bit girlier (i was quite the tomboy growing up) I’ve noticed more male attention coming my way and I feel more comfortable with it.
It took me a long time to figure out what I was doing wrong, but now that I have and I’m making more of an effort to be confident and reach out to guys, I’ve found a really nice guy who makes me happy. It may have taken 26 years of not having a clue, but at least I finally pulled my head out of my you-know-what and put forth some effort. I think the LW probably has a lot going for herself and will find the right guy. Get back online and practice your body language and flirting, go on some practice dates with guys you may not totally be into, just to get a few under your belt and deal with the nerousness. Best of luck to you!

avatar Jules March 3, 2011, 9:02 am

I went through a period in my early-mid twenties where I forgot how to flirt. I would cry all the time that men weren’t into me, there was something wrong with me and my friends would say “You probably shouldn’t argue and act snotty when a man approaches you, real turn off.” I am a relatively attractive woman, so it really is true that attitude and self-confidence makes a BIG difference.

avatar Heather Girl March 1, 2011, 10:29 am

Confidence attracts men. Fake it til ya make it.

avatar baby.blanka March 1, 2011, 10:36 am

So even if the confidence is not at 100% – if this is such a stresser for you, why not ask out a guy? I know it’s taboo but most of the guys I know would fall over from heart failure if a woman asked them out. THEY spend a lot of time stressing too, so it not only saves them the trouble but immediately gives them an ego boost. Wendy is right that you can’t really be sure that men haven’t been attracted to you but you also have to ask yourself if you have been seeking the right type of guy. If you know someone really cool and laid back, I bet he would love for you to ask him for coffee or drinks!

avatar ArtsyGirl March 1, 2011, 10:39 am

LW – Also there is always a chance to expand your attempts to meet single guys. I suggest an inter mural sports team if you are athletic or maybe see if any local bars do trivia nights if that is more your bag. Even dog parks are great ways to meet new people who might share a common interest with you. I have a number of GFs who have a hard time meeting guys and it normally stems from some key behaviors:
1. they go out in big groups which are intimidating for guys
2. they hang out mostly with committed people who are not likely to hit up the hook up spots
3. they have a gaggle of guy friends who they hang out with a lot but are firmly in the friends category – this lends potential suitors to be confused by the relationships (they ask themselves if she is dating one of the guys) and it gives my GFs a BF crutch because they get some of the benefits of a relationship (safe flirting and attention) but are not emotionally committed or putting themselves out there.
As Wendy said- if there is a guy out there you already like, ask him out! It is the 21st century and it is perfectly acceptable for the woman to be the aggressor in the relationship. Good luck!

avatar ArtsyGirl March 1, 2011, 10:43 am

P.S. I would also not broadcast your lack of relationship experience too early into any potential relationship. You can be vague and say that you haven’t had tons of luck with the dating scene when you first meet someone you might be interested in – after a few dates it would be better to broach the subject since the guy will already be interested in you and not prejudiced like he might if you have it posted on your dating profile or announce it on your first date. Anyone else thoughts about this?

avatar ReginaRey March 1, 2011, 10:52 am

Yes – there’s certainly no need to advertise a lack of experience. For a guy, that will send off some unnecessary red flags…he’ll likely be distracted by trying to figure out why you’ve been unlucky. There’s no need to share that up front. Also, your first post was what I was trying to get at, too – expanding your social activities is key to meeting more people.

avatar TheGirl March 1, 2011, 10:47 am

I have to agree with Wendy. There is clearly something seriously wrong with your perceptions. There is absolutely no way that you’ve never been seriously hit on if you are 30, female and even remotely attractive. It is, however, entirely possible that you didn’t know it when it was happening. Some people just don’t flirt naturally. My husband is one of those people – he has always gotten hit on constantly, but he never really realizes it when its happening and always thinks its happening when it actually ISN’T. It got him into some trouble before we got together. Luckily for him, I made the first move and took care of that problem.

avatar ReginaRey March 1, 2011, 10:49 am

How much are you truly putting yourself out there? I understand how very difficult, and tiresome, it can be to go out on the weekdays or weekends after you’ve had a long day or week of work. Most days I just feel like going home, eating dinner, relaxing, etc. I’m wondering if your busy career may be preventing you from getting out with enough regularity to meet a bunch of different men. I would suggest joining some groups or signing up for activities that you personally enjoy doing – a painting class, a book club, the alumni association of your college, a rockclimbing group, whatever you enjoy doing! You’re much more likely to meet a man with whom you share some interests when you’re already doing something you enjoy. You’ll also have a shared topic of conversation, which will make it much easier to transition into a a real first date. This is exactly how I met my current boyfriend – we were in the same group that traveled abroad a few years back, and we were both there because we had a sincere interest in art, history, and culture. It certainly helps to get the ball rolling, and to meet people with whom you can share certain interests and activities in the future!

And, as some of the other commenters and Wendy have alluded to, is your list of “qualifiers” in a man particularly long? I think a great deal of women prevent themselves from meeting great guys because they *think* they know exactly what they want in a man, and won’t settle until they find that exact person. It’s great to have certain values and standards that you won’t compromise, but if your list is extremely long and you or a friend thinks you’re being unreasonable, maybe it’s time to reevaluate and be a bit more open-minded when it comes to the kind of men you see yourself dating. It’s definitely more important to agree with a partner about a set list of values and life goals than it is to agree about a long list of superficial or material desires. I wish you lots of good luck!!

avatar missarissa March 3, 2011, 4:14 pm

There’s an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte and Carrie go to big meeting with a dating guru and Charlotte asks a question. Charlotte says that she’s discouraged about finding love and that she’s trying, and the guru responds “maybe you’re not putting yourself out there. maybe you’re not really trying, really out there” and Carrie gets mad, and yells back at the guru, “Oh, she’s out there”

I feel like someone kind of needs to say this to you and possibly to the other people responding , especially in their response to Alli_wan. There are some people who follow all the advice and do all the recommendations and STILL can’t make it work. It doesn’t make them bad people. But accepting this doesn’t make them pessimists or have low-self-esteem. They MIGHT. But, like Alli_wan said, they might be that miniscule-y small portion of the population who it just never happens for. And its sad, but its also sad that some people never find the job that they love, never find a city that they click with, don’t talk to their parents because they are truly unfortunate ppl and a whole host of unfortunately true combinations of luck that some people experience.

Should they just accept their fate? Well, it depends. It depends what makes them happiest. They should do that.

I agree with wendy that LW might have her aptly-named RDD, but I don’t think Ali-Wan does. My brother wears a shirt that says “You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you”. Some people really are unattractive to the other sex. Lots of women have friends like this : they’re smart, they’re cool, they’re awesome people, and you WISH you liked them, so you can’t wait until they meet someone who will make them happy. But you aren’t attracted to them and that is insurmountable in terms of a sexual relationship. Most of the time, they do meet someone else, but sometimes, they don’t. Understanding that fact doesn’t make them “paranoid”. It makes them honest.

avatar Herself the Elf March 7, 2011, 8:11 am

THANK YOU. This is what I’ve been wanting to say while reading this whole thread. Sometimes things just DON’T go right, and to blame it on a person’s attitude without even knowing them, like people are doing to Alli, is almost sort of insulting.

I’m in my mid-20’s, a virgin who has never been in a relationship. I have lots of guy friends, just never had a date. Always in the “friend zone.” I guess I’m too familiar, too “boy”-ish, too available, not flirtatious enough…not pretty enough. I’m a friend, but I’m just not sexually attractive to guys. I wish things were different, but I’m me, and this is the hand I’ve been dealt. For anybody to say “Don’t be silly! Men would be tripping over themselves to date you if you just smiled more often/looked more confident/wore a fluffy pink skirt!” seems condescending. I know who I am, I know my own life. I hope someday I’ll meet somebody who could be romantically attracted to my laid-back personality and low-maintenance style and all that crap. But until then, I’m Friend Zoned, and that’s just the way it is.

avatar _jsw_ March 1, 2011, 11:00 am

In addition to all the great advice above, you might also want to consider getting involved in an online community with male and female members. Having been active on a number of forums, I’ve seen firsthand how such communities can help pull people out of their shells. It’s a very “safe” place to do things – you can remain as anonymous as you like – but also can be a very social, flirty, open place, where you can watch interactions play out and try a bit of it yourself.

I’m not suggesting you look for a date with someone you meet on a forum (it happens, and it can work out wonderfully, but it’s not a good goal to go in with). I’m just saying they can be non-threatening environments to see both sexes interact and to try it yourself.

avatar Desiree March 1, 2011, 11:52 am

That’s a fantastic idea, and a great way to utilize the Internet for its social potential. My dad is autistic and has trouble interacting with people in person sometimes, but he has made friends through his favorite guitar forum.

Kristina Kristina March 1, 2011, 11:04 am

I feel like the LW is unapproachable when men come up to her, and oblivious to the fact that they might be flirting with her.

jammy jessielou March 1, 2011, 11:49 am

I agree with the thought that she must not realize when men are flirting/expressing an interest. Maybe she should be the one to ask men out on dates? Get a friend to set her up for a double date? Try speed dating!
It also sounds like she is resigned to her ‘fate’ of being ‘undatable’ and may be subconsciously sabotaging herself.
I am sure she is a lovely person, she just needs to believe it about herself!

avatar jnsunique March 1, 2011, 12:22 pm

I really identify – I didn’t start dating until I was 26! To tell the truth, I was interested, but not interested enough. Friends told me that I was confident and straightforward enough (not flirty) that I gave off the vibe that I was already taken or not interested. I found my husband by deciding to use Craigslist for “practice” dating – meeting new men, but not taking it too seriously. Just meeting for coffee, happy hour, etc, and trying to make a good first impression. I enjoyed the experience – if you’re safe about it, there’s nothing to lose! I’d recommend it – the nice thing about dating online is that there is no ambiguity about whether or not the man is looking for a date. Don’t waste too much time online before meeting in person, and don’t be afraid to post an ad! It changed my life.

avatar jnsunique March 1, 2011, 12:33 pm

Also, I tried online dating a few years before that and had no luck – don’t be afraid to give it another go!

avatar belongsomewhere March 1, 2011, 3:13 pm

My experience is maybe similar? Definitely less extreme, but I do think there are some common threads. I did not have one, single date in high school, and I assumed that I was undateable. I am not unattractive, I am smart and funny, but I am shy. People didn’t bother to get to know me. OR that is what I thought when I was in high school. I have since realized that I was isolating myself. I was the cause. I didn’t LET people get to know me. I had female friends, but only one boy ever asked me out and he (not kidding at all) had recently pinned a girl against the wall and threatened to kill her! I didn’t let people in. I blamed others for passing me by, but I had essentially pulled myself out of the running before they had a chance to consider me.

When I got to college, I only made ONE friend–a boy, who became my boyfriend in a matter of weeks. We have been together for a few years, and he and I agree that we will not be needing to date anyone else, ever. I have never “dated.” It was never necessary.

I guess what this story boils down to is a piece of advice: put yourself in a new situation, where other people are in a new situation, too. Take a class, join or start a club or meet-up group, just do something new. I would not recommend doing any “singles” events (at least not for a while), because they can have a competitive atmosphere, which you don’t currently seem to have the confidence for. You don’t necessarily have to DATE. Dating isn’t for everyone. Sometimes people truly AREN’T datable, but they may be perfect for relationships, which could mean that you’re looking to the wrong people, in the wrong places or situations.

avatar lindabun March 1, 2011, 11:47 pm

I had the same dating experience as you! That’s pretty cool! Sorry I have nothing useful to add.

avatar brendapie March 1, 2011, 4:15 pm

I’ve considered writing to Wendy about my similiar situation so reading this has been so eye opening and helpful. I’m also a 29 year old virgin who has never been on a date. I had makeout partners in high school and guy friends I spent time with in college but an actual romantic and physical relationship has eluded me. I can’t say I really desire a relationship – it’s so unfamiliar to me to want a boyfriend or get married but I do feel out of place amongst my peers who are pursuing those things.

I did not spend my 20s going to bars or parties (never been to a party actually) and the friends I made in college have all been reduced to Facebook statuses. I am comfortable with my life as it is although I am still working on my career path and aim to achieve more success with that. Yet I found myself wondering what was wrong with me because there is this total disconnect I experience from my peers – they are excited about having babies and getting married and it all seems so foreign to me.

It took me some time and I’m still processing this as we speak but I realized that I wasn’t allowing myself to experience life. I am incredibly shy by nature and have a moral code that I upheld others towards but I realized through trial and error that I would never make new friends or experience love if I held people to high standards. Most importantly I also realized that I haven’t given people the opportunity to love me and how could I expect people to enter my life if I keep the door shut?

I think LW is on the right track with seeing all the wonderful qualities about herself but she needs to take that and develop some confidence and change her surroundings a bit. In meeting new people and experiencing new things, she should gain a more complete view of herself and that confidence will be so attractive.

avatar ladiejoy March 1, 2011, 4:58 pm

I think you’re fine by holding people to high standards, there is nothing wrong with that. It’s when you expect everyone else to believe the same way you do, or act the same way you do, that it becomes more of a judgment rather than a standard.

Sounds like you are doing things right… :)

avatar brendapie March 1, 2011, 6:15 pm

I have a hard time being around people who drink – I find alcohol to be so disgusting and I completely shut out people who partook in drinking. It took me awhile to realize that I was judging people for not agreeing with my lifestyle and denying myself the opportunity to get close to them.

Just a shame I realized this so late in the game – I feel like I missed out on my 20s so I can relate to LW being 30 and never having gone on a date. I constantly hear and read about how much fun your 20s are and that it’s the best time to explore the world and yourself. I don’t have dating experience so I feel light years behind my peers but my advice for LW, which I plan to follow myself, is to not focus on my age but to enjoy life and to love myself. It’s easy to list your best qualities but to believe in them is what truly makes you a whole person.

avatar Anastasiachs March 1, 2011, 7:32 pm

Do you cross your arms a lot? I do all the time, it’s just really comfortable for me, plus I’m almost always cold, and, I’m told, this signals to guys a) I’m not having a good time b) I’m bored c) leave me alone. I’ve only had guys tell me this (my father, my best guy friend, my boyfriend, professors, random guys I’ve met a concerts, etc, etc), but never a girl, it might just be a guy thing.

avatar Jshizzle March 2, 2011, 9:33 am

I love that even your profs commented on this. Crossing my arms is my default stance, I just don’t know what else to do with them.

I will say to the letter writer that a lot of people end up in relationships just for the sake of being in one, ignoring huge warning signs, etc. It’s hard to meet relationship-worthy people because they don’t necessarily go out and around trying to intiate dates, and are more likely to throw themselves into work or sports.

If she lives in a small town or city, she may need to consider living in a bigger city to meet more people–though in this economy it’s probably not recommended.

avatar moonflowers March 3, 2011, 1:54 am

Crossed arms are interpreted to be a “defensive” posture, while arms relaxed at the sides are supposed to be “open” body language. I think it really might just be how men interpret it because I’ve never felt that way about these gestures, but if it’s true that guys will interpret it as disinterest, it might be a worthwhile behavior change to make.

avatar SpyGlassez March 1, 2011, 8:19 pm

(I’ve also posted as blurpke here, but I decided to go back to my preferred username.)

I didn’t start dating until last October, when my now-SO asked me out. I was a 28 year-old woman, had never dated, had not had anyone interested in dating me ever, and was fine with that. I had (and still have) an awesome best female friend with whom I travel, wrote, got a masters degree, got a cat….I won’t pretend there weren’t moments when I wondered why I seemed so unlovable, but I was overall happy. I met my boyfriend by surprise; he was enrolled in the community college course I taught. FWIW, aside from the fact that he always laughed at my corny jokes, I was not initially attracted to him. Actually, it took most of the semester for me to get the names of everyone in my class straight, his included. He asked me out after the class ended, and we have been very happy together (and there’s no conflict of interest; I was teaching a required writing course, and he won’t take any more entry level courses in his field of study). I guess what I am trying to say is, just live your life to the fullest. That’s what I was doing when he dropped into my life. I wasn’t expecting it; and while he makes me a happier person, I was happy before I met him and never felt I needed him to make me whole.

avatar 30 and Dateless March 1, 2011, 9:16 pm

Yes, it’s the letter writer. I wanted to follow up on some of the comments and suggestions just so y’all don’t think I’m completely brainless.
As to therapy, I have been through it before for other reasons and I do believe it has helped me in many aspects of my life.
I am certain that when I was more shy that I missed flirting but now when it is actual flirting I can pick it up. However, the vast majority of of the flirting I am getting when going out is along the lines of one-night stand, and that’s not exactly my style.
I have been working on body language over the last several years and it turns out I have been doing the right things.
My net is not ridiculously narrow–I’m looking for a wide age range, a reasonable education level (some college or better–I have my master’s), don’t care about money, don’t care about religion, around my height or taller.
I do take some umbrage with those that suggest that I or other ladies in my predicament must be putting ourselves in this situation because we want to be here or because we’re not aware enough of our situations–if someone’s hitting on me, and I’m only smiling sweetly and carrying on a conversation with them, then just because I haven’t made a move to rip off his pants how exactly is that my fault for his not asking me out?
I am trying to summon the courage regarding asking out my friend, but he is rather old-fashioned, and I don’t think he would take it well if a girl did the asking. Also, I would hate to lose the friendship. Wendy, if you could pop back in on this one…

Dear Wendy Wendy March 2, 2011, 7:53 am

People always worry that expressing a romantic interest in a friend is ultimately going to ruin the friendship, but honestly, there’s no reason that has to happen if you’re casual about the whole thing. A simple, “Hey, our friendship is really important to me and I wouldn’t want to do anything that might damage it, but if you were ever interested in seeing if there could be something more between us, that’s something I’d be into exploring,” would suffice. Any guy who freaks out and runs away over that probably wasn’t such a close friend to begin with anyway. And the way you’re presenting the idea still gives Mr. Old Fashioned the opportunity to doing the asking out if it important to him.

avatar KateHC March 1, 2011, 11:34 pm

Oh, man….

I was undateable in high school. Looking and thinking back, I probably wasn’t as awful-looking as I thought I was, but whatever–as the nerdy girl in a very small school system, who was often one of the target kids (y’all know what I mean… permabullied) there was just No Hope for dating.

I got to college, met a guy, (who was terrible and I should have known better) and dated. I continued dating guys who were looking for a meal ticket or crash space. I should have valued myself more. I didn’t. The people I wanted, didn’t want me. The people I dated, ended up treating me like garbage and tossing me away like it, too.

I’ve been single. I’m now married. My marriage was about on the rocks five years ago, when it finally, finally hit me– unless I do the things that make me happy–that genuinely make me happy, without reference to another damn person on the planet– then I won’t BE happy nor will I be able to assist anyone else in being happy. And that unhappiness was the total root of my…unattractiveness.

Not only did my marriage turn around, but now apparently I am totally The Sexy Bombshell amongst my circles. Go figure. (I’m kind of oblivious, but I’m told I figure high on a bunch of “really wanna date that, shame she’s married” lists. And hey, I’m willing to believe that!)

There’s no one key, but antidepressants and a raftload of hobbies did it for me. Stuff that I enjoy, not “try to enjoy on the way to finding a maaaaannnnnn”.

Skyblossom Skyblossom March 2, 2011, 10:15 am

I’ve always felt that you must make your marriage happy rather than expect your marriage to make you happy.