- This topic has 14 replies, 4 voices, and was last updated 11 months, 3 weeks ago by Kate.
From a LW:
“Hi! Thank you for this free advice column. I have a lot of reasons that I don’t think I should date, but I wanted to know where I could go to get advice for someone in my situation.
I was born with a birthmark on my face called a hemangioma. I’ve had multiple surgeries to reconstruct my face and I still have some scars left from the surgeries. As a child, I was rejected on the playground and I lost out on believing that kids wanted to be my friend. So I became jaded, especially after problems in my family caused many of them to stop talking. I don’t have a strong support system.
I’ve never had a romantic relationship before and I’m 28. I’ve never been on a real date either, just a Zoom date. I don’t have friends; just one online who I’ve known for a few years. I currently live at home, work part-time (and make very little), and I suffer from severe depression. I also don’t drive, but I’m in the process of hopefully getting my license next year. I’m getting therapy and taking medication, but I am incredibly lonely. I always imagined I’d have a partner by now.
I’m sure this one of many sob stories you’ve heard. I just wanted some advice about how to get started dating someday. I tried Bumble and I didn’t enjoy it at all. I just want to know how I can take a step forward, and if I should.
And I understand if you’re busy and can’t reply. I appreciate you reading. Have a wonderful day! (And my name is in the email so please remove that if you decide to post this – thank you!)”
If you want a relationship, then yes, I’d say you should be dating.
I did the online thing on and off for a few years. It wasn’t enjoyable, but I’ve had two impactful relationships come out of it: The boyfriend I had from 26-28 (Match.com) and my current boyfriend of 4+ years (Bumble). I also had a few short-lived relationships that never made it off the ground with nice guys, but there were plenty of duds, disappointment, and rejection sprinkled in. I think adjusting your expectations for how *enjoyable* online dating is would be a good start. For most people, it’s not a great time. You get dating experience by dating, though.
One positive thing about online dating is that it gives you a place to represent yourself as you are. If you choose flattering photos that are an honest representation of who you are, you’ll know anyone swiping right is open to you notwithstanding the things you feel insecure about. I know this is different, but one of my closest childhood friends was deeply insecure about weight issues growing up and convinced nobody would date her. Absolutely refused to date or put herself out there in small ways until she got online at 27. She did go through some of the same garbage we all do on those sites, but met her now-husband on there at 28.
Additional details may help give more tailored advice — for example, men and women seem to have different struggles online — so feel free to pop in and elaborate.
I’d also say joining social groups would be a good idea for you. Having hobbies, interests, and friends/acquaintances is good for your mental well-being (and makes you a more interesting date). (I don’t mean to sound insensitive but I’d not date someone with no friends.) Romantic relationships are great, but having a full life is also important.
Lastly, I think it’s great you are in therapy and working on yourself. Dating can bring old childhood and abandonment wounds to the surface and therapy can help manage that.
Miss MJDecember 17, 2022 at 10:05 am #1117200
- This reply was modified 11 months, 4 weeks ago by Copa.
Agree with Copa that you should start joining clubs or meetup groups for your hobbies and interests. Also, church, if that’s your thing. Those are great ways to meet friends, form a support network and also meet people romantically. And, yeah, I think, for better or worse, you do have to do the online thing, at least some. It’s where people looking to meet people for romantic relationships go to specifically do that.
Copa’s advice is great and there are lots of people here who have experience with it who can help you figure it out to make it work better for you, if you want to give more info.ScarletDecember 17, 2022 at 2:44 pm #1117209
Thank you everyone for all of your replies! I appreciate everyone that took the time to answer my questions.
As far as Bumble, I felt like I wasn’t making any meaningful connections. I did get compliments about my looks which was something I wasn’t used to. But there wasn’t a lot of depth. I found it boring. I didn’t like having to have the same conversation over and over again and ultimately find that this guy has left the site, or this guy texts way too much, or this guy’s too sensitive, or this guy’s unresponsive. I couldn’t make anything real happen and I just found it draining.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible for me to date right now, not only because I’ll be getting braces next month and 8 teeth pulled (YIKES!), but I get transportation from my mother. I don’t think she’d be very open to driving me to dates (and I live in a suburban town so public transportation would be too difficult.) I’ve known I can’t practically date until I can drive and I’ve tried to face that, but it’s still been very hard.
I agree about the social groups, but again, transportation. It’s been quite a crutch for me. I hated driving and I had so much anxiety for many years, but fortunately, my dad has taken the time to teach me and it’s made a difference. Unfortunately, I don’t live in a place that’s very communal or has great spots for someone like me, especially because I don’t drink so bars are out.
I understand these probably feel like excuses. But it’s just not something I can make happen right now. I wanted to know if people felt like I should date given my mental state, my lack of experience, and my financial situation. I still think I need to work on other things first. Regardless, I’m grateful for the feedback!ScarletDecember 17, 2022 at 2:49 pm #1117210
Ignore the picture! That was a mistake!
If you don’t feel like dating right now, you definitely don’t have to. If at some point you feel like you do, then maybe try 2-3 different sites or apps, like Bumble, Hinge, and Match if that’s still around (I met my husband on there).
How to do it? Some of it is practice, noticing the signs right away that someone is a time-waster. Have a little back and forth conversation and if they seem interesting, funny, easy to talk to, then suggest meeting for a drink. If there’s any difficulty around that, then just disengage. Don’t waste time messaging with someone and not meeting. Keep your expectations low, it’s just a drink, and at most like an hour of conversation. You do not owe them “all your truth” right away. They don’t have to know you’re living at home, had a rough childhood, had a birthmark and surgeries. That can come eventually if there’s a connection. Do not apologize for anything.ScarletDecember 17, 2022 at 3:43 pm #1117213
Thank you Kate! Congrats on meeting someone great through an online dating site. It’s nice to know it’s possible. And I probably should suggest meeting them earlier on. Maybe one day I will!
If you have mental health/state issues you need to sort out, I think you should do that first. That’s not to say that you have to be perfect to date, but if it currently feels like a serious enough barrier, you can work on yourself until you feel like you’re in a better spot. I had to take time between the two boyfriends mentioned above to sort some stuff out in therapy. There’s no shame in that.
Unfortunately, I don’t know that there’s any way around the boring online conversations altogether. To my knowledge, the apps have changed since I was last on there to help come up with creative ice breakers. So you can pick prompts that will lead to something more interesting than “how’s your week going?” Or if you’re on Bumble, I suppose responding to interesting things you see in someone’s profile. Not necessarily in online situations, but I know I KILL IT with two truths and a lie and fun facts about me type icebreakers, so maybe something like that. And you can take things offline to meet for coffee relatively quickly so that you don’t waste a lot of time with the online back-and-forth (which, yes, was a snooze fest more often than not).
FWIW, not that I know the details of your financial situation, but the guy I met on Match.com dated me even though I was in my first job ever making very little money and living at home. We never discussed finances in detail, but he was early 30s and in a different spot career-wise. I’m sure he could tell I was on a budget. It wasn’t important to him. And, if anything, I found in dating that men were insecure if they perceived me to be a higher earner than them (I was often the more educated one).
Hi Scarlet! So, this is one of the most commonly-asked questions I’ve received in my 15+ years of writing advice columns. You are not alone. Many, many, MANY people go their whole young adult lives until middle age without ever dating, having a significant other, or being physically intimate with another person.
It’s really important that you understand that not having dating experience is not a reflection of you, your character, your attractiveness, or your value. This is a reflection of your emotional and physical availability and, as you’ve outlined in your letter and your response, you really aren’t very emotionally or physically available. Getting your drivers license/ securing better transportation can help with your physical availability. Working on emotional availability is a little more challenging, but truly, if having a perfect mental state was a requirement for dating, all of us would be alone. You can date while working on your mental state. You can certainly make friends. You can pursue interests and foster connections over common interests that may lead to more-than-platonic relationships.
Before I go on, here are a few columns I’ve written in the past that address lack of dating experience that may be helpful to you:
Here are some columns that relate to your issue that may help you:
“I’m 30 and have never had a boyfriend”
“I’m 32 and have never kissed a girl”
“I’m 30 and have never had a date”
“I’m 26 and have never kissed a woman”
And an update to that last one here:
http://dearwendy.com/updates-hopefully-not-40-year-old-virgin-responds/ScarletDecember 18, 2022 at 11:07 am #1117237
Thank you Copa for your response! That’s interesting to hear that you met someone even when you weren’t financially independent. That’s definitely been a factor for me in believing I wasn’t ready. I know that I need to make more money so I’ll be working on that first, but I feel better knowing it’s not necessarily a reason I’m not dateable. And Two Truths and a Lie is fun!
Also thank you too Wendy! It’s amazing how many people are so lonely and inexperienced these days. You’re right that getting my license is important and it’s a priority. I will try to make myself more avaialable in the coming year. Thanks for the other columns!