Get a dog

Pub date May 6, 2009

Dear Readers:

The "Lonely Guy" responses are in:

I read the letter from Lonely Guy/Nice Guy and my thought is that he sounds kind of resentful and also like he wants to "get" a woman, which isn’t the same as wanting to meet women! Maybe they can tell. — Reader A

I wondered about that too. Not really liking women yet feeling compelled to seek them out (and resenting them for it) is a common pattern for straight men (and women with men; I’m not letting anyone off the hook here), but I don’t think that’s what’s going on with LG. I was reminded, though, of the way my husband used to wonder why he always had a girlfriend and at least another female or two waiting hopefully on the sidelines in case the current one got hit by a bus. There were cooler, smoother guys, he’d point out, and guys who looked more like George Clooney, so why him? After enough different women told him why — because he genuinely likes women — he finally believed us. Lonely Guy doesn’t seem like he dislikes women, and he does say he’s genuinely interested in what they have to say. My bet’s on not so comfortable with women but likes them fine. Next?

My GF and I were discussing our previous experiences dating. She sets some key criteria for the relationship she wants, and when she meets someone who meets them, she sticks with it. Of course, a deal-breaker could pop up, but she is not poised to run. My M.O. was always to bail at the slightest uncertainty. But when some stuff came up with us, she wouldn’t let me. As we’ve worked through it, we have built trust and grown closer. I know she’ll still be there tomorrow, and she knows I’ll be there too. I’m grateful that she wouldn’t let us quit. — Reader B

Actually a great point about dating in general, but not helpful to a guy who has somehow managed to get dumped by every woman he’s seen except the one who was for some reason an immensely inappropriate choice. Or do you think a serial dumpee can learn to "not let" dumping happen, as your girlfriend did with you?

My suspicion is your letter-writers lack a large network of friends, male or female. I’ve observed that people who can make friends have the easiest times getting dates. Even "boring" people can stop being boring if they develop interests they can share. When I was single, most of my dates were referrals from my social network. There is an old adage, "To have a friend, you have to be one." That sadly, must be the character flaw. — Reader C

Mmmkay. I think you’re right that having friends helps, on a practical level in that friends have friends, and probably on some sort of meta-level as well (Who saw the recent articles on how having friends, even if you don’t see them much, makes you live longer?). I was not precisely calling for people to pinpoint LG’s "character flaw" though, sheesh. Spot the flaw, win valuable prizes!

This guy spent 10 years in an unhappy relationship. I don’t think he knows what companionship really means. He also treats dating like a chore. He dates so he can … stop dating? If you are lonely, get a dog. — Reader D

Yes, LG, stop treating meeting women as the equivalent of cleaning out your vegetable drawer. Reader D is right. Once D added "get a dog" to Reader C’s suggestion about cultivating "interesting interests," though, my mind strayed to my favorite piece of dating advice ever, culled from a Mademoiselle article I read in college: "Walk an interesting dog." I have met many dogs since them, and often wondered which of them qualified as interesting enough.

I’ve never had any problem meeting women. Unlike LG, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I’m a nice guy, because people never tell me that. Is it true then, that women go for jerks? I don’t think so. People like me, and I’m not a jerk to women any more than I am to anyone else. I’m not attracted to doormats. What I do think is that people are attracted to confidence and are generally more interested in people who are interesting. You don’t have to be an asshole to be interesting, but maybe he has become such a good listener that the interesting things about him never even come across.

If he insists on using online dating, he should 1) try instead of (look up Helen Fisher’s books), and 2) never write a profile describing himself as "nice." He should talk about hobbies or interests (if he doesn’t have any, he should get some, or at least get a dog), and 3) rent The Tao of Steve. — Reader E

Haha! OK, SG, get a life, or get a dog, and write a niceness-free profile. Reader E may be a jerk, but he gave the best answer.



Don’t forget to read Andrea at Carnal