Not all advice need be professional. Sometimes your problems merit a bit of unvarnished honesty from a dude equipped with nothing more than a computer and a conscience. Luckily for you, I’m that guy. Welcome back to Tough Love. (If you’d like to be featured, email me at [email protected])
Today we’re discussing what to do when it feels like you can’t catch a break on the dating front. How do you keep going when it feels like all hope is lost, especially when those around you seem to be finding it with ease?
Note: I’m a columnist, not a therapist or certified healthcare professional. My advice should be interpreted with that in mind. If you have a problem with anything I say, file a complaint here. Now, let us begin.
I’m 32 years old and having zero luck and no fun dating. It’s been 4 years trying on and off, getting absolutely nothing and nowhere.
I’ve tried online dating all of three months then deleted it, no one talks. I got like one match and they never responded. I spent days changing and tweaking my profile for nothing, it seems.
I’ve got friends that are socially inept to me but they are able to attract women and date—weekly they would have new girls around. Part of my problem is I have very little contact with women and I’m not able to get a date to try to get better at it. I’ve been in lots of hobby groups and it’s either old people or guys in the exact same position I’m in. I don’t know what to do.
Any help is appreciated,
Beyond Frustrated Black Nerd
Dear Beyond Frustrated Black Nerd,
You’re in a tough place, so you have my sympathies. Often when we’re playing the field, we yearn for an immediate payoff. That rarely turns out to be the case for most people, regardless of how charming, witty, or handsome they are. Dating is a process, and an annoying and potentially heartbreaking one at that. There’s a reason that “dating sucks” is a fairly common refrain, reflected in myriad books and podcasts.
With that in mind, know that this isn’t necessarily a “you problem.” Still, the issue could be with how you’re presenting yourself, particularly in your online dating profiles. Forging human connection with other singles is more art than science, but I believe cultivating the right dating app profile really does boil down to a clear scientific formula. Are you using low-res, grainy photos, or selfies from four years ago? Does your profile provide a window into who you actually are? Are you well-versed in the subtle art of the thirst trap?
The annoying part about swiping through Hinge or Tinder is that it actually requires a pretty decent amount of effort to build a profile that might lure potential matches. I’ve never encountered your profiles (obviously), so I don’t know if you’ve taken the time to curate a page that sells you in the way you deserve. You’ve said you’ve “spent days changing and tweaking” your page, so maybe you already know this.
If that’s the case, give it more time! Three months is nothing in the grand scheme of finding a partner. I know it can feel like an arduous slog, especially because your dating apps are always there, begging for an anxious swipe-sesh. Try to moderate your use. Give yourself a day or two a week to swipe, and detune from the addictive pull of the apps for the balance of the week. It can be easy to obsess over this stuff—especially after a year of quarantine and isolation—so try to not let it dominate your headspace.
As for your friends who you say are getting dates—screw ‘em. Relationships are highly subjective, and just because it looks to you like they’re having success doesn’t mean they have anything you don’t have. And while I believe that’s true, it’s far more important that you believe it. There’s no secret recipe they’re employing; it very well could just be luck of the draw. At the same time, you could ask some of them how they’ve been meeting these dates. There’s no shame in that, and if your buddies have been finding success by using a certain strategy, maybe it will work for you.
And one more word of advice: Try not to stress! Thirty-two is quite young, and by that age, you have the gift of not being quite the knucklehead you probably were at 25. You’re more emotionally mature and you know what you want. Be true to yourself and continue to make the effort, because it obviously matters to you. Eventually, it will pay off—not because of fate dictates “there’s someone out there for everyone,” but because you care and will have put in the work.
That’s it for this week, but there’s plenty more Tough Love to go around. If you’d like to be featured, please get in touch by describing your dilemmas in an email to me (please include “ADVICE” or “TOUGH LOVE” in the subject line). Or, tweet at me with the hashtag #ToughLove. Serious inquiries only: Don’t email or message me if you don’t want to be featured in the column. Disclaimer: I can’t respond to everyone, so please make sure you outline a specific problem in your note. I won’t respond to generalizations, like someone “being mean” or vague descriptions of “relationship problems” without any concrete examples of what’s ailing you. Until next time, take care of yourselves!