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I'm clearly doing something very wrong (dating)

(38 Posts)
MojoMoon Tue 09-Aug-16 22:38:59

I am 31 and have been single for nearly ten years.

Live in London, university, post grad, good job, career progression, lots of friends, my own little flat in the centre.
I think I must be reasonably nice and interesting as I have a decent number of talented, smart and fun friends. I've been on three holidays with different groups of pals this year, hen nights, festivals, weddings. I've even been asked to do a reading at two of them so I feel like I must be fairly valued.
I'm out three or four nights a week, seeing friends for dinner, drinks, gigs, theatre, pub etc plus volunteering once a week.
I go to the gym, take classes there. I take a language class for part of the year as well.
Travel a bit for work, work in fairly male dominated industry.
In short I am out and about and doing things.
But I can count on one hand (in fact on two fingers) the number of times I have been asked out in the last decade. I'm a feminist so I believe women can ask men out and have done so three times, to no avail.
Men just don't seem to are me in a romantic light at all.
I have no idea how to flirt and I think as time as passed I am more and more anxious about this and so probably veer completely the opposite way and while I'll chat to anyone and be nice and friendly, I am almost deliberately totally "buddy" like.
I am increasingly worried I have missed the boat somewhere in my twenties as almost everyone is now partnered up and the big house parties of my youth where you could meet people easily and I guess "practice" are in the past.
I've lost weight and sorted my skin out in last 18months so now look better although still pretty average size 12 etc. Spent some money on clothes and hair too and definitely look better and have has compliments from my mates.
I've tried asking my friends but I think they just think I am being fussy.
So what do I do? Have tried internet dating, still have a profile but have not enjoyed it much so don't spend huge amounts of time and energy on it. Have done speed dating, it was fine, conversations were fine but none of my ticked ones ticked me.
I guess I am fussy in that I don't fancy that many people but it's not like I have a specific list of things they must be, just that I need to really like them and that doesn't happen much.
Any advice wise women? I'd like to have a nice solid relationship and children but it seems like a distant possibility.
Sorry for long rant, is hard to talk about this in real life

AndiiPandii Tue 09-Aug-16 23:30:27

You sound very like me MojoMoon. The reasons I was given by my friends were either:
- you are too fussy. OR
- you are too successful/forceful and men find that intimidating.

I don't have much advice to give to be honest and would be interested in the opinions of others. My personal observations are:

- as I got older, I realised that it's probable that I am fundamentally commitment phobic -which in my mind got dressed up as fussy.

- if you work in a male dominated world and seriously succeed (as I have) it is probable that you come across as intimidating/masculine/forceful/work focused and not flirty/femine. There is nothing wrong with this in the work place - it's how you succeed and especially in a misogynist/macho work environment. But it does mean that it takes a very special man to match that.

- if you are fussy, you will need to atttract more men in order to pick the one that meets all your tick boxes. If you are not fussy, you might like 1 in 20 - so you need to meet 40. If you are fussy you might like 1 in 100 so you need to meet 200 - etc.

- I always attract more men when I'm self confident in myself. You are more likely to flirt if you feel good about yourself - or even on a low level to match a smile with a smile rather than a scowl or a blank look. So if things bug you about yourself - change them if you can whatever that is. Hate your teeth go to a cosmetic dentist. Hate your skin, spend money on a dermatologist and a beautician. Hate your weight, personal trainer and down the gym. Doesn't matter what your issue is but if you can get core self confidence men will come to you. If you are still too fussy (like me) it maybe the commitmentphobia is the issue.

MojoMoon Wed 10-Aug-16 23:43:26

I don't think I am commitment phobic if it was the right person!
Definitely true that I have a work persona that is completely non flirty and maybe this has filtered through to being my default setting and so I just don't feel comfortable being flirty.
I have definitely thrown money at the problem and am way better dressed and more attractive than a few years ago. But it is disheartening that despite friends complementing me, it seems to have made zero impact on how men see me!

i8sum314 Thu 11-Aug-16 00:12:33

This was me, and still is. Literally the only people I've met have been through OLD because at least then, you both know why you've shown up.
I'm a lot older than you and I realised after my last relationship (that wasn't a relationship, just a man behaving like the best bf I ever had but reminding me sporadically that we were 'friends' hmm ) that I confuse(d) uncertainty with butterflies. I tried to do something different and date a nice man who made me feel a bit stifled to begin with. Now I think he's gone off me to a degree so now I am back to feeling anxious again but that's another story

Anyway, google Attachment Styles in adult relationships and see if any of it strikes a chord.

My mother also did me the enormous favour not of raising me to believe that the most shameful thing you could ever to was be physically attracted to somebody. So I never throw back my hair or laugh in a tinkly fashion or stare at somebody for a moment too long, because, then, omg, they might know that I was physically attracted to them and that is obviously deeply shameful. Thanks mum.

Ps friends used to tell me I was too fussy as well but I think that's what people say. It seems kinder than ''well, nobody approached you, right so''.

i8sum314 Thu 11-Aug-16 00:20:27

andiipandii yeh, I can go from feeling stifled by somebody else's certainty for me, and I keep telling myself, ''i'm not sure, i'm not sure, but, but, I'm allowed to end it, if I panic, I can end it, so stay calm, stay here'' to then, if i decide I do like them and don't want to lose them, anxiously preoccupied if I don't hear from them. And yes like you, for years this was served back to me by confused observers as fussiness.
The man I'm dating now, I went from feeling stifled to anxious in the space of about 6 weeks.

Great fun being me.

toffeeboffin Thu 11-Aug-16 00:31:22

Do you actually know how to let a guy know you fancy him? Can you flirt? I know you say you don't find flirting comfortable, but is that just at work or all the time?

Temporaryanonymity Thu 11-Aug-16 00:36:29

Oh god I can't flirt unless I have wine. I so need to know how to do it sans wine.

Sorry OP, I have no advice. I'm much the same as you.

SystemAticcally Thu 11-Aug-16 00:53:26

It doesn't seem like there is anything that would slow you down in that respect from what you have described.

So it may be that

-you are overestimating yourself (we all do it to some extent)

-evaluate yourself through your own lenses (ask your friends to try to give you some impartial feedback)

-omitted to tell us something important

worst case scenario, all men who might be of interest to you are taken or not interested in you.

CodyKing Thu 11-Aug-16 01:18:23

Men dislike strong woman - you don't^^ *need* a man - you just want one!

Men need to be needed.

Try being a bit helpless to begin with and leant to flirt - bit if extra eye contact touch his hand etc year the water - oh do you like X? I've always wanted to go -

MiaowJario Thu 11-Aug-16 02:11:52

I am now 41. Ten years ago I could have written something fairly similar. Dated a lot/had regular longish relationships in teens/early a bit 'serious' in the post grad and career years. Concentrated on studies, then career, on building a proper life.

Few dates and flings here and there, but nothing over a month or two except a three month rekindle with an ex from my younger days.

The thing is, the type of guy who will both appeal to and want someone like you does exactly the same in their twenties and early thirties as you did. Studying, working, building solid friendships. There might be some travel in there too. They aren't in the market for anything serious and don't bother. They are too busy writing that thesis/putting in the hours to make partner on schedule/ taking professional exams/building that cv....

When I was about 30, my mum said " the serious career guys are about to come back on the market". And they did. Between 31 and 35 I had ten credible guys make serious moves in my direction.

During that time I fluctuated between a size 10 and a size 16. At one point I had cropped hair and wore combats a lot, and at that point the best looking guy I have ever been involved with in my life made a play even though I was giving out serious off the market vibes. What mattered was that I had a good job, was funny, had things I was passionately involved in, had something to say for myself, had some depth of personality & spirit and I wasn't totally physically repellant.

A lot of guys who want kids young get married/coupled up in their early to mid twenties. The ones who want to build a career and /or financial stability before they embrace married life often lift their heads up from their desks at about 30-35. You're just about to hit your stride.

You don't need to make any major changes or drop your standards- maybe be open minded on some minor preferences like to a guy being dark rather than fair at most.

Some minor tweaks can help if they boost your confidence/happiness. It won't hurt to polish up on your repartee, get your hair done a bit more often, buy a new item of clothing slightly more often or go the gym once more a week, maybe practice having a open/kind face that says " if you ask me out for dinner I will say yes" (but only wheel it out if a professional acquaintance/friend of a friend you like asks you to go for lunch or coffee on some vague pretext/pre-date like "exploring linkages in our respective fields" or "help me try out this restaurant bar for my upcoming birthday bash"). But don't break your stride or change your life.

sklooshy Thu 11-Aug-16 02:37:08

I can't relate, marking my place to come back and comment tomorrow, it been a long day! I'm early 30s, I've always wanted to steely but only got to the point now I'm ready to actually do it.

sklooshy Thu 11-Aug-16 02:41:51

I don't think we have missed the boat at all, I do and always have been in a predominately male environment. I have very few close female friends but get on very well with make friends and find it hard to see the difference between friendship and flirting. Generally I see it as friends then sometimes they back off and the reason turns out to be they wanted more confused.

sklooshy Thu 11-Aug-16 02:42:49

Steely hmm settle down

YoungGirlGrowingOld Thu 11-Aug-16 07:58:57

I was in the same position as you OP 10 years ago.

I think it is a genuinely difficult age for OLD. I had the impression that a lot of guys on there are put off by 30's women because they think lots of them are looking for commitment, biological clock ticking and all that. Many of us are and it's quite reasonable to do so! At 31 or thereabouts, most of the men who contacted me through OLD were late 40's through to early 60's. Sometimes I was at the upper age range of what they were looking for.

It's shit and I remember feeling quite swindled at the time! (Then I met DH and we married when we were both 38 - DC1 is on the way! I would love to be doing all this 10 years ago but there it is).

CodyKing Thu 11-Aug-16 09:24:27

Steely * settle down*

LOL thought that was a new term for married man!!

emilybrontescorset Thu 11-Aug-16 09:43:59

I'm single too op but I'm much older than you so in a slightly different position.

I've joined an old site. I'm getting lots of messages of men.
I've been on a couple of dates too.
One guy I was very attracted to and we met up several times. He's just disappeared since. I think he wanted someone less confident and someone to look after. I don't need that, I'm self sufficient.I think I'm quite fussy too.

Sorry for not being very helpful.
I've only just learnt how to flirt. Eye contact, smile and ask questions.


lasttimeround Thu 11-Aug-16 10:03:27

I think sometimes if you are very together you need to indicate that you'd quite like a relationship otherwise guys just think you wouldn't be interested cos you're so sorted. That doesn't need to be typical flirting but showing a little vulnerability so people don't think you've got everything you want and they can't offer you anything. In a calm way.
I found 30 a bugger. All the decent ones it seemed had got snapped up a year or 2 earlier. If you look for guys a bit older (35 upwards) you'll see some second time arounders. Or you get lucky - I met dh at 32 when be was 33 and thought gosh hes great

PanGalaticGargleBlaster Thu 11-Aug-16 11:48:32

Men dislike strong woman - you don't^ need a man - you just want one!

Men need to be needed^

What utter bollocks

HustleRussell Thu 11-Aug-16 12:07:39

I am a man in my mid 30s and have a successful career. I think many men do want a certain type but for me, it is important that she is equal in all ways.

That does mean that I do look for someone outgoing and confident. Speaking to friends etc. I do think I may be in the relative minority!

lasttimeround Thu 11-Aug-16 14:09:01

Also do you really want to be with someone who likes the stuff you put on that isn't you. It's OK. Make sure there's no aloofness or back off vibes you don't intend but the acting needy and flirty thing not necessary

MojoMoon Fri 12-Aug-16 00:56:57

Thanks all for your responses. Some things to mull over.
I wonder if I am unrealistic but I really dont think I am. I just don't want to settle down with someone I don't love and respect so being smart and interesting at least is a must have .
Was talking to colleague from another department today and we'd both recently been to the same gig (separately) so I thought I'd be brave and ask if he wanted to see a band next week I have tickets to. To which the response was "not sure, I'll have to listen to their second album first to see if I like it".
So not exactly a resounding success. I'd have said yes to any bloody band he has suggested!
It's not like he is totally appalled by me, I made the cut into a tiny group of colleagues invited to his birthday. But my attempts at taking it somewhere slightly more flirty totally failed

LittleOyster Fri 12-Aug-16 07:55:54

My guess is that you are being friend-zoned. Sounds as though there are a lots of guys in your circle that like you/want to spend time with you, but right now they don't see you as a sexual prospect. Would it be worth getting some coaching to help you with the flirty/femininity stuff? It's just a technique, like anything else.

Once you've got that initial 'hook' sorted, they'll be queuing up as it sounds as though your lifestyle is really cool, and just the sort of thing most men would love to be a part of.

happyandsingle Fri 12-Aug-16 08:43:42

I'm 37 single mum of one and single bar few short relationships for nearly 9 years. it does make you think is there something wrong with me? some women just seem to attract men easy. when you are single so long you just feel invisible to men.
people look at you like your a freak when you tell them how long you have been single.
At least you have time on your side op. you are still young and your age is when many men are looking to settle.

museumum Fri 12-Aug-16 08:50:18

I was like you. Lots of male friends meant I gave off only "friend" vibes and not "flirty/dateable" vibes. Guys saw me as sorted and not in any need of a partner.
The only thing that I was able to do was join an online matching service and go on dates. That way at least the guys knew I wanted dates not mates.
I only dated three guys - number 3 is my now Dh 😀

happyandsingle Fri 12-Aug-16 08:53:36

lucky you museumum wishould I could of had same stories with Internet dating.
just met a ton of losers instead

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