New readers, welcome to Dear Wendy, a relationship advice blog. Read some of the most popular Dear Wendy posts here. 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), do a search in the search bar, or submit a question for advice at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.
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 email@example.com.