Monday, May 17, 2010

Ready To Give Up

Dear Jocelyn,

I will be 28 next month, and I've barely dated (I'm female). You advised one of your earlier readers to let guys do the pursuing, but that hasn't happened in 11 years. I'm not pretty, I'm introverted to the point of being socially inept, and I'm nervous because I don't know anything. I tried online dating, but I was up-front about the fact that I was Christian and waiting until marriage, and I only attracted creepy guys who took it as a challenge. I don't want to lead anyone on, but I am not even sure what I would want out of a relationship. Marriage seems daunting, and the idea of having a child scares me, but it would be nice to at least have had a boyfriend at some point before I die. Any advice, or should I just give up?

Dear Lonely,
You have my sympathies. I spent some lonely time in the dating world, and I know many other girls who have too. At a certain point, the idea of letting the men do all the work and pursuit seems hopeless, since they are not doing any asking. But let me point out two things: 1) A woman can do many things to attract a man while "waiting" for him to pursue her, and 2) a man that you have to go out and drag in is probably not the kind of man that you want.

I have difficulty evaluating the situation since I don't know you—therefore, I do not know if your assessment of your beauty is realistic or simply low self-esteem. However, I do know that women are notoriously bad judges of their own beauty. I also have seen many women whom I think of as relatively plain, who have flocks of men surrounding them because of their self-confidence and sparkling personalities. So let me share what you can do while the men around you are getting their act together.

First, find some things about your looks that you can change. Enlist some well put-together friends to help you. Get an attractive haircut, buy some new clothing, and perhaps invest in some subtle makeup. Some women think they are misrepresenting themselves by doing things differently, but I simply call it good advertising. Your outer looks often represent your inner feelings. So if you dress dowdily, hunch over, and don't fix your hair, what does that say about your inner self? Conversely, if you sit up straight and confidently, dress neatly and attractively, and spend some time on the outer appearance, it can speak volumes.

Next is to seek some professional help. Many people think therapists are only there to help with depression or anxiety; what they don't know is that therapists can help with a multitude of issues. Seek a therapist with a cognitive behavioral orientation and ask her for help with developing social skills and graces. There is a link at the right of my blog where you can find a therapist in your area. This therapist might also help you explore your self-esteem issues.

Finally, put the word out. Tell friends and coworkers you are interested in finding someone. Get out and meet people! Go out with friends, go dancing, go do interesting things. Chances are much better for you if you don't limit the men you meet to co-workers and the Domino’s deliveryman. If you try online dating, I advise using specifically Christian websites. While I think it is admirable that you are a virgin, that is perhaps more appropriate to share after several dates, rather than on your dating profile.

One last word—it is fine that marriage and children are daunting for now. You simply are not ready at this point. Focus on dating, and when you meet the right man, you will be prepared. I recommend reading the book How to Get a Date Worth Keeping for excellent advice by Henry Cloud. Please do write back in several months from now and let us know how things turned out.

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