Lots to offer

I'm talented and have many friends, but women don't seem attracted to me. How can I make them like me?

Published November 24, 2003 8:36PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I've been having a lot of trouble lately. Women just don't seem to be interested in me, and I don't seem to know how to make them so.

I am in my early 30s, fit, talented, by no means ugly, have many friends, several of them female, and have lots to offer someone. But no one I ever meet seems attracted to me.

It doesn't seem right to approach somebody at random at the supermarket or on the street, and Internet dating sites are just stupid.

I have not had many relationships in my life and the ones that I have had have been pretty screwy and I have been on the giving and receiving end of my share of pain. Now I'm just all messed up and it's annoying. I'm ready to get over it but I just don't know what to do next.


Dear Help!

What you need to do is figure out what you want from a woman, and then devise a concrete plan for getting it.

Right now, you're stuck because you are taking a passive approach. That's never going to work. You're putting the burden on the woman to be interested in you. Forget that. What's important is that you're interested in her. If you're looking for signs of approval, that's going to make you tentative and cautious, and she's going to feel bored and confused. She's not going to know what you want. If, however, you make it clear that you're interested in getting to know her because there's something about her that you find admirable, intriguing, alluring, at least you've got a compelling argument. Even if she's not interested in you at first, she may at least give you a shot. After all, just the fact that you're interested in her shows you have a glimmer of good taste. Besides, you're a Salon reader, and that should give you points.

In short, you've got it all backward. You've got to declare your interest in the woman first, and give it time to play out. So: Are you interested in a woman? Why? Which one or ones? What is it about her that interests you? What is it you want from her? Just what sort of plan comes into your mind when you see her? Is it a carnal thing that you've got for her? Is it a warm feeling that comes over you when you look at her face? Do you see yourself parading her around town so your guy friends can see you with her? Do you see yourselves sitting around a cozy fire in a mountain lodge? Do you picture her as a librarian in horn-rimmed glasses? See what I mean? What exactly is going on in your head?

So figure out what woman you want and what you want her for. Then try to arrange to make that happen. You're going to have to do the work. She's not necessarily going to give you permission ahead of time. You're just going to have to put forth your plan and move things along.

Be open to rejection, but don't be looking for it. Be aware that she'll let you know when it's time for you to go away and stop calling. She may start with subtle hints, which you might not get at first, but that's OK. If she seriously wants you to go away, she'll let you know.

Clear reject signals are, like, verbal things: Don't call me. I'm not interested. It's over. They may be a little less clear, too; some women think they're being clear but they're not. So if she says something like, "I'm not sure this is working," ask her for clarification. Is she saying she wants to stop associating with you? Is she saying no more dates? Is she saying stop calling? Such inquiries may be too blunt for her, and may make you seem stupid, and she may equivocate, but you've got to push for clarity, because you're new at this and you're not extremely perceptive. You've got to let her know that you really like her but the minute she says go away, you'll go away. Just remember: When you get the clear reject signal, you have to go away promptly, or she'll tell her friends you're a stalker.

You may take a lot of rejection this way, but that's the way it's been for guys for a long time. Get used to it. Humanity has to reproduce. We're not all babe magnets. Somebody has to make the first move. The pretty ones sit around opening written invitations and letting the phone ring. The rest of us stand in the garden throwing pebbles at their windows. That's the way it is. Get yourself a bucket of pebbles.

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