Ask Dr. NerdLove: Why Do Guys Keep Ghosting Me?


I’m not searching for information so much as an explanation about something I have encountered a couple of times.

I am a girl who dates men, and more than once, I have ended up in a sort-of-ghosting situation immediately after checking in to see if friend remains into hanging out (and him telling me he totally is).

This is how it stands out:

We have been hanging out/hooking up for over 1 month but fewer than 3. He seems like a nice, ordinary guy (ie: has passed my weirdo/creep/asshole filter). Things feel reciprocal, and fairly relaxed. We are chatting frequently and getting together maybe once or twice per week.

Then things begin to feel different. I realize I have made the past one or two sets of programs and he has not made an attempt to make more, it has been maybe two months since we last hung out (ie: it is a break in the pattern). But he is still initiating nearly daily text talks.

As opposed to continue to indicate hangouts and get shot down, but not wanting to invest a whole lot of time texting with somebody I never really see, I request something along the lines of,”Hey, we have not hung out in awhile — is that something you are still into? It seems just like perhaps not.” And he answers, necessarily,”Oh, I have just been busy, I {} to hang out.” So I say,”Okay cool, let me know when you are free.” Or something along those lines.

(With one exception, where he chose to fulfill, then stood up me, THEN I never heard from him again.) WTF?

Why do guys that are otherwise fine do this?

And perhaps I do want advice — is there anything I could do differently? I really don’t want to be a person’s texting friend forevermore, whether or not I am wanting something casual. However, it seems weird to just vanish from a thing that has been happening for more than a month with no fundamental –“Hey, are we still doing this? No? However, it feels far worse attempting to have an honest convo, and being ghosted for this.

Each time it happens I get a little caked with Men-In-General (an too, warier), and I would love to become a Bitter Old Hag (TM). Help?

Sincerely,

The first part of your question is simple, JDGI: they are taking the path of least resistance. Or rather, the course of {} . They have decided that, for some reason, they have decided they don’t wish to see you again, however they do not necessarily need to mention that to you. So rather than actually having a conversation that ends with”Hey, I am just not feeling it”, they are doing The Fade rather in hopes they can quietly depart this connection without needing to have what they imagine to be an ugly or awkward spectacle.

Here is the disconnect: you know that all you will need to hear is”yeah, we are not doing this any more”. No fuss, no muss, no harm, no foul. However, what they are expecting is something a lot more dramatic. Maybe they think you will be angry or loud. Maybe they’re expecting you to… I dunno, shout, call them names, refuse to leave the relationship, who knows. But whether that conflict they are imagining is real or only a fantasy, they have decided they don’t wish to take the risk on it getting actual. So they simply try to gently fade into being an ex in hopes that should they do it slow enough you won’t see it happen. Because women apparently are like T-rexes and monitor by movement.

It’s rude, it is inconsiderate and after you’ve been hanging out that long and relationship on the routine, you deserve the courtesy of a”hey, this is not working for me, peace out, cub scout” text or call. But unfortunately, the fade appear to have become a permanent part of the contemporary dating landscape.

(Incidentally, this is not exclusively a man thing; lots of girls do it too.

Unfortunately, because the reason people do so is to prevent conflict — even though there is not likely to be battle — there is very little you could do about it. You are essentially dealing with the situation in somebody else’s mind and unless you are secretly Professor X or Eleven, there isn’t much to be done there. You may try to preempt the notion that breaking up with you is a enormous drama-fest by bringing up how very low play you’re. No? Or you might just straight up ask them to be straight with you if they are not feeling it.

But again: that is attempting to pre-empt someone else’s problems and you can not do this without actually getting in their head. You can say all the appropriate things, lead by example and give every indication that no, you really ARE as low-key as you appear to be. But if they are that conflict avoidant? They are still going to attempt and sneak out the back door without you noticing.

Sadly the only thing to do is concentrate on what you can control… and that is the sort of guy you are dating. If you are into a particular personality type — say, shy, conflict avoidant nerds — then you might want to see about filtering them out and going for guys who are simpler and open about what they’re searching for.

Very good luck.

Hey Doc,

You know those questions from men where the answer is essentially”get your life together before you begin considering dating”? Well, I think I might have the opposite problem;

During the past 18 months I went from essentially a call centre operator to a senior software developer. During this time I’ve mended my charge, began saving, got to the gym, and generally leveled up my entire life.

Now I feel like I’m completely undateable. My life seems completely incompatible with people who I knew a couple of decades back and to people I am meeting now, I am still too far behind in life to grab.

Is this just what eventually becoming a your life together in your 30s is like?

New Money Same Issues

First of all: congratulations on all of the work you have put in. You’ve made plenty of progress and you should feel proud about all you’ve accomplished. It says a whole lot about you that you could generate all this happen.

Now let us discuss your problem. The problem here is that you are taking a look at things the wrong way, NMSP. Your problem is not that you are too far behind in life. Your problem is that you have leveled up.

As you level up your character, you may realize the mobs in the area you’re in give you less and less experience… often to the point where you are going to stop getting any XP for having fought them. This is because you have outleveled the region; you have outgrown that region along with the enemies and quest lines are for men and women that aren’t as far along as you are. Consequently: none of it will be meaningful or satisfying to you; attempting to mill in that area will be the experience equal of a car spinning its wheels while it is stuck in the mud.

I strongly suspect that your main problem here is that while you have done some remarkable work and gotten your life into an great location, you are still falling on older routines. You might be going to the same bars, coming the exact girls and expecting the same results. The issue is, now that you have developed this magnificent new life, they are simply not right for you any more. You are a different person than you were two decades ago, and that person should stop dwelling in the past. It is time to move from the starting area and begin pursuing the new opportunities you’ve… chances that you might have previously thought were just out of your reach or off-limits.

This doesn’t mean that you need to stop what you are doing; it just means you will need to change expectations to your new reality. If you have been a pub guy, it could be time to move up to cocktail lounges and bars rather than shot bars and dives. If you have been mostly a dating program kind of dude, then it is high time that you update your profiles and begin setting your sights higher and more sophisticated.

Frankly, NMSP, you have what we in the relationship information business call”a quality issue”. The sole issue is in how you are looking at it.

Very good luck.

Hello Dr. NerdLove,

I have an ongoing issue with always attracting guys that turn out to behave like huge jerks. I must be a part of the problem because I am drawn to them and keep going through the exact same cycle of professional bullshitters again and again. It’s like I’ve”big hearted empathetic sucker” invisibly stamped on my forehead, but that kind can see it a mile off.

I am fairly powerful, attractive, keep myself well, smart, fun, witty… I have been a winner since Star Trek TNG was brand new and I have been playing video games since before there was net.

I’d really enjoy a loving good partnership. I know I am worthy of what I need and can be that sort of partner for somebody else.

How do I break out of the cycle and fix this problem permanently?

Free Lunch

If you continue dating the very same sorts of men, you are going to keep getting the same sort of bullshit you are dealing with now. So the obvious starting point would be to look at exactly who it is you are attracted to and why. The why part is essential, because presumably you are not aroused by people treating you like shit. So you will need to look over these relationships in your past and determine what sort of Venn diagram they are creating.

What I’d suggest is that you begin searching for commonalities in these men — beyond being jerks — and see if you’re able to zoom in on exactly what it is they have going for them which pulls you in like a fly into a Venus fly trap. It might well be that these men represent or meet some lack which you feel in your life. Identifying that and resolving this lack so you don’t search for it elsewhere means that you are no longer attracted to the men that are hot but poisonous for you.

Or perhaps it’s a matter of traits you find attractive that just so happens to be comorbid with being a garbage fire of a human being. Maybe there is a certain degree of cocky assurance that you dig. Perhaps it’s that you are trying for men with a certain degree of status in their community, standing that leads to them with swelled heads and overdeveloped perceptions of entitlement. Or perhaps the problem are the relationship pools which you have been pulling your spouses from. It might well be that what you need is to look further afield and see about finding guys who are your type but not as inclined to treat you like another mark.

Be methodical about this FL; the more you’re able to winnow out potential causes, the more you can zero in on the reason you continue going through the very same routines in your relationship. As soon as you recognize the pattern and the cause, the easier it’ll be to split the sequence and find someone who is ideal for you.

Very good luck.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: How Can I Stop Creeping Out Women?

I knew this lady through Twitter this past year, we share the exact favorite TV show and I wish to stay in her part of the world, I am studying her language. We communicated through Twitter through the year, enjoying each other’s tweets and learning about our own lives from it.

Things began to change every month, when she has started ignoring my comments and queries, though we had some discussions and I {} her likes. Things got worse with each passing week, and tonight I could not take it anymore, I DMed her, asking if I had done something wrong.

Yes,” she said. She said we appeared to have different ideas on our relationship, and she did not like it that I inserted her on other social media apart from Twitter. Turns out we also have various cultures — in my civilization acquaintances easily add each other on Facebook, in her culture it is reserved for close friends.

The fantastic news is she did not block me and we’re still mutuals on Twitter.

Turns out I repeat the same mistake I did in college. Two friends I enjoyed literally running away from me and I did not understand what is happening — no touch, no lewd talk, but it occurred. We stayed friends, but I’d scared them away. Another love interest ghosted me, and if we had a chance meeting, I had been so blessed she prevented the shop assistant from calling the police as I was weeping within the store.

Some people have asked me to dial it down when chasing a girl, and I thought I have it, especially today I write column for a feminist site. Turns out I have made lives miserable for me and another person due to my bad habit.

My question is, how can I restrain my intensity? How do I attract a girl better without scaring her? How do I win her trust slowly? How do I distinguish between being caring & supportive and being overbearing?

Thank you,
Too Intense

Y’understand, TI, initially, I was going to chalk this one up to a difference in how people use social media. Some folks collect connections and followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc while others prefer to use it strictly as a method of staying in touch with close friends and loved ones.

Then I got to the part about friends literally running away. And the line on your freaking someone out since you ran into them at the shop.

Hoo boy.

Look my dude, you do not only come on too strong, it seems like you’re becoming so involved in emotion that you are blow through people’s boundaries like they are not even there. Even if we are allowing for the fact that you aren’t touching people inappropriately or saying inappropriate things… there is a good deal of space for making people deeply, intensely uncomfortable during your behaviour. And lots of it appears to stem from the fact that you have absolutely no comprehension of how your behaviour comes off to other men and women. I meanI hate to say it, but if you are not engaging in hyperbole on your letter but you’ve had friends run off or had the cops come on then the issue here is not that you are coming off as too extreme, it is that you’re coming off like a psychopath.

I mean, okay I get it. I get being into a person or so excited by somebody that you receive a bit over the top, in ways which make people uncomfortable. It is a little like being an over-eager golden retriever who would like all the attention, all the time. In its head, it only needs to play with its new friend. But in its excitement, it is not recognizing how it’s ruining the living area, digging up the carpet, chewing on all of the furniture and leaping around people that aren’t comfortable with large dogs.

You may not mean to be causing all this discomfort. You clearly are not aware of it. But not being conscious of it really is not an excuse. When it keeps happening to you over and over again, particularly if folks keep bringing it up to you.

It seems to me like there are two issues here. The first is that you look intensely needy. It is one thing to be excited and enthused about a new friendship or dating. But many times, once we have low self-esteem or feel like we are not”worthy” of relationships, we could begin getting incredibly pushy and clingy and emotionally overinvest in {} . We wish to lock down those relationships as quickly as firmly as possible, before they could realize they made a mistake by getting together with us. We would like to eliminate the chance that they could find somebody else cooler, more attractive, more interesting or more”worthy” than us so we would like to occupy all their time, spend all our time together and otherwise just be certain we are their whole world. Otherwise they may stop liking us that would be a goddamn tragedy.

However, it’s rare that we recognize this behaviour for what it is. More often than not, we just chalk it up as”being excited” or”being a hopeless romantic” or”with a big personality”, not understanding how we are demanding a far greater degree of intimacy or relationship than is actually justified. And that results in behaviour that’s DEEPLY bothering to people on the receiving end of it. And by even the most charitable reading, it seems to me like you did not just assume a greater degree of friendship than ever existed, you began behaving like you’re the only person in their own lives.

I mean being ghosted absolutely stinks, but responding so over the top at a chance encounter that people felt they had to call the goddamn police?

The second issue is that you are very self-centered. I don’t mean this in the sense that you are selfish, I mean this in the sense that you appear to be wholly unaware of how other folks feel. How you describe things makes it look like things had escalated to such a level that people were literally running out of you and you had not realized how bad it had gotten until there. And this was not one time, this is multiple times within the span of years. That is not good dude. That is not a case of”not very good at reading people”, that is”verging on being oblivious” or”living in my own version of reality”.

Now here is the thing: this is obviously not something that’s completely out of your control. All your examples of the behavior are with girls, which informs me that this is selective behavior. If you’re ready to control your”intensity” with guys, then you are able to control the exact identical intensity with women. Yeah, you might not be sexually attracted to guys, but the fact which you can seemingly recognize that acting like this with men you know would be bad means you have the capability of acting like this with girls. Even women you have a crush on.

At the moment, the last thing you should do is wondering how to win people’s confidence or avoid scaring away women you are attracted to. You will need to get this shit in check by, for example, yesterday. Frankly, I believe the best thing you can do is start looking for a therapist, particularly a therapist that helps people deal with emotional problems and social consciousness. This is the type of thing that you will need a trained mental health professional because man it’s past the paygrade of a loudmouth with an advice column. You want to devote plenty of work at not learning how to give up your own neediness and regulate how emotionally invested you get in {} , but in learning how to read the goddamn room. You have been missing a great deal of warning signs and signals and it retains contributing to increasingly intense confrontations with people. You have been fortunate so far, but it is the type of thing which could very easily have consequences for you, including getting fired from your job.

Concentrate on getting better. Dating can wait until you are in a better location.

Hey Doc,

I will do my best to keep this somewhat short. To start I had been excited for life as I entered my final year before I turn 30. My wife and I moved into a rural area close to both of our families as we’d planned following my army service. We both earn over the median income wages on our own, and were prepared to travel and do lots of exciting things that we can afford because of our low cost of living. I also had the benefit of my close but little group of friends in town to fulfill all my RPG, tabletop, and standard nerd needs.

The Issue? My wife asked me for a divorce after 7 years together, and I wish I had a cool story or a real reason but she simply stopped loving me. When she brought her desire for this about a year ago I asked her what had to change and to her disbelief I did what she asked and much more. She even gave me credit for it but stated that the atmosphere just never came back.

While it’s not exactly what I need I can not make her return to me without feeling like I manipulated her into something contrary to her true desires for the sake of relaxation. I know what mistakes I made and I can not go back and become a better spouse. I know this and consequently we’ve been very agreeable and pleasant with one another in finalizing the divorce. She gave me one of those dogs when I’d always figured I would have to fight for one.

Now the actual problem, I have worked professionally to maintain a fantastic spot. My job pays me well and provides me well over the average vacation days. The down side? I don’t know what I need to do anymore. This strategy worked when I had the ideal partner picked out who’d explore and experience with me.

I live somewhere where many individuals are partnered off, the accessible girl my age are usually single moms. No offense but it is not something I am interested in as my ex-wife and I had already discussed not having kids. My close friends are amazing for all of my nerd stuff and are definitely capable of getting some meaningful conversations. That said just one is in a relationship he says might be his final and not in a fantastic way. The other uses all of the programs but has really high standards and is trending towards being lonely. The thirds spouse cheated on him a decade ago and he has not let go. None of them are big on going out and doing things besides staying home RPGing and hanging out, which I love but I also want more.

I am afraid to pick up and move to larger place as making adult friends at this stage sounds intimidating and frankly unfulfilling. So far as dating goes I imagine I could figure out that again, I work out, eat right, and assess a number of the self improvement blocks most areas recommend. The issue is that I just don’t have the motivation for this.

It just feels like I am missing out now and I am trying to live a life I intended with no one of the greatest parts. Han would not of made it far without Chewie. Now I am sitting in Mos Eisley by myself trying to find out if this is actually the place for me.

I know I have rambled and said a great deal but bottom line is, I am doubting every decision I’ve ever made and just when I thought I had life figured out and was excited for the future. I am now scared, confused, and searching for somewhere to start.

You should not feel bad about where you have ended up, HwC. You did not make a mistake, you decided that, based on all of the available information you had at the time, was the right one. It was the perfect choice for your life at the moment, a life you had no reason to think would change as drastically as it did.

Life comes at you fast and circumstances have changed. What worked for you under a particular scenario might not be as good of a match for you as it once was. The question now is if this new circumstance is such a terrible fit that you can not make it work or not.

Now let’s be honest: a great deal of your sense of despair and confusion is because, dude, you just had your legs kicked out from under you. You had every reason to feel that your life was going in a particular direction and then suddenly what has been thrown into chaos. You just had your bell rung; you are permitted to be confused and upset with this. That is perfectly normal; it is a fair individual’s response to an irrational situation.

What you should not be doing is trying to make significant life changes; you are still reeling from everything that happened, even if it is not immediately obvious. Your immediate priority should only be giving yourself time to heal and adjust to a new ordinary. You want to be certain that you’re making an educated decision rather than rushing out and making decisions based around that feeling of loss and upheaval.

As soon as you’ve gotten a bit firmer footing, then you may begin trying to determine what your next move is. And having a clear mind and sense of purpose will be important, since you have some choices to make.

The thing you will need to understand is that life is all about trade offs — what are you prepared to risk and what are you prepared to live with? It’s very, very goddamn rare that you are going to be in a place where you are able to adapt to all the vagaries of life without making significant changes to your status quo. You’ve got a list of goals and desires, many of which could be incompatible with where you are right now — both emotionally and physically. On the one hand, you get a fantastic job that provides tons of perks, you live close to your loved ones and you’ve got a relatively low cost of living. The trade off is that you are in a location where it may be more difficult for you to date.

Regardless of what you do, you are going to have to be ready to correct and make changes. {Are you going to adapt it to your {} , cannibalize it for parts or abandon it completely? |} What trade-offs are you ready to make to be able to adjust the plan or invent a new one? If you choose to move, then you are going to need to sacrifice your work and your circle of friends. If you choose to stay, then you are going to need to reevaluate your priorities with relationship. You might need to accept that your potential dating pool is smaller or analyze your feelings about kids. You might need to start looking further afield for prospective partners, maybe even looking towards a long-distance relationship before you move or they opt to join you.

Or you could do what many men in your position have done: take the time to concentrate on yourself and your own desires. You built your life around compromise and shared sacrifice so that your spouse could pursue her targets. Perhaps it’s time to dust off old dreams and chase these, especially if you’re in the financial position to take a few risks.

Concentrate on some powerful self-care and getting yourself back into psychological fighting form. The excellent thing about your future is that you can not miss it; it is always just ahead of you.

You have got this, HWC. You are gonna be nice. You are one with the Force and the Force is with you.

Very good luck.

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Hey Doc,
It has been a year since I joined the army, and looking back, I am in a much better place today than I was then. When I joined, I had just removed from school due to drug dependence and was living with my parents, feeling like dirt.

A year after, and I have a far better relationship with my parents, I have lost weight, and I am doing well financially. By all of metrics, I feel as if life is going better, which I have made immense improvements.

So why can not I stop feeling like a fucking loser?

Once I was skipping class, doing drugs, dismissing my well-being and relationships, I had been getting more dates than ever and felt more confident than I do now, despite my entire life being in shambles. In my head, I moved from an awkward nerd who had difficulty talking to people let alone girls, to somebody who partied, hung out with friends, and might chat up girls easy.

And I have built up myself. But I am not valuing that. And I can not stop believing that the me that seems when I am an addict is more attractive than the me who has my shit together.

I can not even trust my own mind. I guess that is why I am asking you; How do I get myself to begin valuing my accomplishments? I need to have the same confidence I had before but without the identical self-destructive habits.

Very respectfully,
Hyde wishing that he was Jekyll

You said it yourself, HWHEWJ:”on your mind.”

It is not that being an addict made you a cooler, more confident person: you are just remembering it that way. I mean, let’s be honest here: if life were {} , why would you stop? By your own admission, you’d dropped out of school, your relationships were awful and your life was falling apart.

We are not objective, impartial observers of fact; we lie to ourselves all the time. We distort our own memorieswe edit the unpleasant components and choose to only focus on the highlights of yesteryear. That’s among the reasons why, by way of instance, we are tempted to return into exes that we know are bad for us. It is also part of the reason we’re tempted to return to lifestyles which we know were ruinous.

That’s before we {} in mind-altering substances. To quote a wise man, everybody knows you will life forever once you’ve done a line or two. It’s quite easy to believe you are thicker, suaver, smoother and more attractive once you’re drunk or high. But the issue is that your ability to judge your state is severely diminished. You are not thinking clearly… you just think you’re. In your mind, you are the second coming of Oscar Wilde, falling bon mots and holding court into a room filled with admirers who are hanging on your every word. In fact… well, you’re the man who is slurring about his doctrine, laughing at his own jokes and overlooking the annoyed, uncomfortable and bored looks on the faces of the people around you.

And look, I am as guilty of this as anybody. I have had too much to drink and thought I was the smoothest of the smooth and the coolest of the cool… and in fact, I was being an obnoxious asshole to people.

The parts I remember in any way, that is.

At this time you are at a low point. You are missing that bullet-proof assurance you used to have. It does not matter that it was illusory, odor and smoke out of your own mind; you miss the way it felt, even when truth doesn’t line up. And that is totally understandable. But here is the thing: you have that confidence. You have the capacity within you. It is not that drugs magically imbued you with confidence and the gift of gab, it just turned down the volume on the sections of the brain that were holding you back. It is less Dumbo’s magic feather and much more Dumbo’s magic mushroom.

You felt that way before. You can feel like that again. You can still party, you can still hang out with your buddies and you can still talk up girls. You may find your confidence again. You’ll need to do it the hard way — not using the medication as a short-cut — but it can be achieved. You begin by recognizing what you have and learning to be thankful for them. Simply quitting and taking inventory of your life is a fantastic means of recognizing that you’ve got more going for you than you understand. And you have a lot to be proud of; pulling yourself back from the brink and rebuilding your life is really goddamn impressive.

The fantastic news is that you’ve got easy access to this too; you have got your brothers and sisters in the military… your literal squad. Let that be the basis for finding those significant, emotionally satisfying friendships, particularly with other guys . You can still hang out with your buddies without needing to be stoned out of your gourd.

And while you are at it, find your community. One of the things which can help build up us is feeling like we are part of something larger than ourselves. Your service in the military is one example. Another may be what you do once you leave the ceremony. Finding — or creating — your neighborhood and your goal will provide you leadership and fulfilment. You will have the feeling of satisfaction, of knowing that you are doing something which matters will help build that sense of confidence and make you realize just how much you need to offer.

Recall: the past you recall is an illusion, a mirage. It is a dream that obscured the ugly facts of your situation. You are in a position to reconstruct it… for real this time.

You have got this.

I am just coming from what I believe was my first connection, but to be honest I do not know whether it is over, or if it even begun. I am all mixed up and feeling lonely with no support she would normally be giving me. The events leading up to it are odd to say the least so I will begin at the beginning.

A couple of years back, two friends of mine started dating. I have been friends with a few of these — we’ll call her A — for three decades, but we were not super close. I had been friends with another man — who we will call B — for eight decades. A and B began dating around two-ish decades back, and they had been going steady ever since.

This season I started going to the gym. However, things began to get tough in her relationship, and she and her boyfriend fought a lot. It culminated in B damaging A, and performing some pretty bad psychological damage. I would rather not disclose the specific details of what happened, but this was lifelong injury levels of hurt.

They dragged out the connection for about a month later, through which A came to me for comfort, while B turned off all of the help I offered. I opened up in ways I have never opened before, and managed to get emotional support in a way that {} really common between men. Furthermore, it felt as though I had been genuinely helping someone to be a happier person, which gave me a excellent warm and fuzzy feeling. Over all, everything was terrific. I had found someone who I could genuinely call my very best friend, a name I had never wholeheartedly given out before.

Here is where things go wrong. A was separated from her ex for about a month and a half, though the breakup was just formalised a couple weeks ago. At this point in time, A and I were hanging out one or two times per week, and we talked every night before bed. I realised that had feelings for A, but I did not really understand them. I could not tell if I liked her, or if she had been just a friend who also happened to be extremely attractive.

Her last relationship had left her {} pretty ruined, and she said she did not want a complete relationship yet. I was going to let it go and move on when she said she would be amenable to being casual, and that she had really had a crush on me because before the big bang that ended her relationship. I was ecstatic. I had never been in a relationship before, and I had never been close with anybody as I was using A. I was afraid {} ruin our friendship when she turned me down, but what was going better than planned. The next few weeks were paradise. We had sex a few times, and we spoke even more publicly than before.

Unfortunately, school ramped up, and we did not have enough time to hang out. I had been feeling a bit lonely. In my drunkenness, I decided to “test” her. I pretended to be gloomy and denied interaction from anyone to determine if she would come and check on me. She sent a friend to do this because she believed she was too drunk to assist. I translated this as her not deeming me value the time. It was a dick move. Apparently her ex used to do so and she actually did not like that I did it too. She became distant during the next week before telling me she was angry, and I was hurt that she had not told me I had messed up earlier. It has been downhill from there.

And now we have reached the present. We have been talking lately. Apparently what she had wanted from”being casual” was casual hookups along with being friends. What I thought she had meant was an open, short term relationship. She revealed to me lately that things just got to close to a complete connection for her comfort. She has been wobbling between wanting to be friends with benefits with me, needing to cut off things, and everything in between.

I believe I still have feelings for her, but I do not really know. Last time we hung out was before everything went bad, and we had a excellent time. I wish to continue to spend some time with her, but she keeps leaping on what she wants. She is leaving for out of town soon, so she will be gone for some time. I’m all mixed up inside and I do not know what to do. This is not just the first (nearly ) relationship I have had, but also the first time I’ve really liked a woman this much. I know that a critical relationship is wholly out of the question, but I would love to go back to the way we were before.

Will we ever have the ability to return to being close buddy like before? The support from this was amazing and really helped me make it through the entire year, and I would like to return to that.
Is it possible for us to be intimate, but also be friends, with this happening again?
How do I tell how she feels? Everything she says contradicts something she’s said, is contradicting something that she ends up saying afterwards.
What should my next steps be? I truly don’t like the concept of going nuclear with her.
How can I avoid this type of thing happening again in the future?

Best Wishes
-All Mixed Up

Hoo boy.

This was… not the ideal connection for your first foray into relationship AMU. While I do not doubt that you and your buddy had a real relationship, there was plenty of crossed wires, miscommunications and complicated background there.

The fantastic thing is that this is {} to offer you a great deal of much-needed experience that will serve you well in future relationships. Assuming, of course, you really learn the lessons from this one.

And the first lesson is do not test your relationships. You were drunk, you’re feeling low and you’re having doubts. But there is feeling low and having doubts and then there is trying to make your girlfriend jump through hoops to be able to prove… something. Part of the purpose of being in a relationship with someone is learning how to trust them and to rely on them. If you’re concerned about things or have questions, the solution is not to see if she will pass your ordeals three, it is to use you words and speak to her.

That, incidentally, is the next lesson. As long as the two of you were, you were not speaking with each other… not in how you should have. The most obvious disconnect occurred right at the beginning. Among the main parts of getting the Defining The Dating Talk is to really define your terms. It’s pretty apparent that you and A had quite different ideas and expectations of the sort of relationship the two of you’re likely to have. She, on the other hand, expected to simply add sex to your preexisting friendship without expectations of monogamy and commitment.

If the two of you had had a conversation about what you anticipated and defined your terms, things may have turned out otherwise. You may not have been so upset by her being busy with school and inadvertently reopened the wounds that B gave her.

So taking your questions in reverse order:

  • How you avoid this in the future will be to prioritize clear and open communication. Ensure you and your prospective partners are on the exact pages about what you expect from the connection, and do not be afraid to express your feelings to them.
  • Your next step is to speak with her, find out what she wants and allow her prioritize her recovery; she’s not been outside of her connection with B quite long and when things were as traumatic as you said, she is going to need time. That may, unfortunately, mean time away from you.
  • You tell how she feels by speaking to her and ensuring you understand what she is saying. It is not that she had been asking for conflicting things, it is that you two were talking at cross purposes. You’d conflicting ideas of what this relationship would entail and that detonated the entire thing.
  • No, I do not think you are going to be FWBs again anytime soon. I think you are going to have to acquire more relationship experience under your belt before that is a real possibility, and she is going to need time to concentrate on getting over her past relationship. If you can return to being her friend and letting go of your hope to get back into her pants, then perhaps. But again, this will depend on her.

Unfortunately this leads into your next semester: not everything can be fixed, no matter how badly you need it. Sometimes the consequences of your mistakes is that the connection is permanently changed and can not return to what it was. The one thing you can do from this point forward is see what this new connection will be… or if there’ll even be one.

But that is going to depend on A. And the only way you can ever know for sure is to speak to her.

Very good luck.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: Why Is This Friendship Fizzling Out?


Dear Dr. NerdLove,

I was wondering if you could help me out with friendship dynamics.

I met this really cool girl, we’ll call her Zoe, about 3 weeks ago. We hit it off immediately: 3-hour dialog, a lot in common, super easy to speak to, soul-sister type of feeling. She is a far more extraverted person than I usually hang out with, but that made me excited because she is connected with this huge group of other cool individuals. When I first met her, I got a weird feeling about her character, but it was hard to put why and since the connection felt great, I brushed it off as me with too high expectations for individuals.

This woman and her husband host a weekly get-together in their house, which they use as a type of open house to contact their friends. Fun games, fantastic conversation, etc.. All the people were fine. Additionally, Zoe came over to hang out with me in my home several times and we hit it off just like the first time we hung out.

The thing is that the connection appears to be tapering off, and I really don’t understand why.

I got sick lately, beginning about a month ago, where I can not drive and the doctors are not sure what’s wrong (I am not contagious). So I have not been able to actually get out of my home and I have not been able to make it to some of those weekly get-togethers or other things my new buddy group has planned, like hiking excursions and other social events on the weekends. I told my friend what was happening with me around the time I first got ill, and she looked concerned and sympathetic in text messages, but that is as far as it went.

This is sort of where the problems began. I have not seen her in some time because I can not drive. My sickness makes it tough to be out and about so I have not risked catching a ride to her place. I invited her over to my place to hang out but she said she was busy and was so sorry. After a while, she began not replying to my texts as much (I send you maybe once a week and she answers about half of the time). She never checked in on me to see if I was doing fine, and it began to feel awkward reaching out to her, knowing I was probably going to get rejected, possibly by being turned down for hanging out or simply not receiving a response in any way. I understand that she has been extremely busy socially recently also.

I don’t know if my expectations are unrealistic, but they are so it is clear in my mind goes when I am anxious: A great friend would have checked in on me to see if I was getting better in my illness. A good friend would have attempted to see me or reschedule understanding I can not go anywhere, but she’s not. A good friend would have reacted to my texts even merely to let me know she got them{} ignoring them entirely. She’s apologized for not responding to my own texts before, saying how much she cares for and misses me, but the behaviour does not change and I don’t see any activities supporting her words.

I understand this friendship is young (again on the order of a few weeks ), but I can not help but find the intuitive hit this woman is much more self-centered than she originally let on. I have another close friend who said he has seen similar patterns in {} . Essentially, they be certain you’re attached to them and appreciate them and go over to their place to hang out, but once they know you are hooked, they sit back and relax. I really don’t want to think this is the sort of brand new friend I found. I’d hate to get rid of this friend because she is sort of this self-titled”leader” of the new group and I enjoy plenty of the people I have met inside, but it seems really crappy being ignored, particularly when I am sick. And to tell the truth, I miss her. Again, she is cool and fun to hang out with.

Are my expectations too high? Can I have a blind spot that I am unaware of that is making me the problem in this circumstance? I’ve often suspected I’ve social dynamics struggles because I have not been able to keep friendships for at least 2-3 years since I was small, and I know that I am super sensitive and have any anxiety which gets in my way. I also have a propensity to assume people do not like me and do not want me around, when in fact I have been told I am a joy to be around and very socially calibrated (I believe I just learned the moves and can behave well). I know these things are raising my anxiety around the situation and I am wondering if it is not just me and my own difficulties.

Assuming there is absolutely nothing wrong, and this is normal for new friendships, have you got any hints on the best way best to maintain connection? I have not accused her of anything since I do not even know if she has done anything wrong!

I do not want still another new friendship to fizzle because I do not know what I am doing. This has happened to me before, and previously I have just stopped reaching out entirely, losing the friendship completely.

Sick and Abandoned

There’re a few possibilities, SaA.

The first is that you might have rounded up the amount of the connection the two of you had. This is not all that unusual; we feel the thrill of New Relationship Energy with platonic relationships as frequently as we do with intimate or sexual ones. You met someone who is really cool and you really enjoyed spending some time with. It is understandable that you would feel strongly about this new relationship you’d. Unfortunately, that we might be excited about a new relationship — whatever the type — does not necessarily mean that the person we are enthusiastic about feels the same way.  It may well be that while you’re super-hyped to get this magnificent new man in your life, she did not feel the same way. Not that she did not like you or did not feel that you’re cool, just that she did not necessarily see you as her new BFF.

The next possibility is that your absence meant that the two of you were not able to keep the friendship going to the same degree. One of the things we seldom consider is that friendships require both time and maintenance.  It requires seeing each other at least once every few weeks to keep a friendship going and preventing them from beginning to fade. Considering how recently you met with her and how much your illness has incapacitated you, the very fact that you haven’t managed to place in these keeping-the-connection-going moments may indicate that your friendship meter began depleting. This has nothing to do with you and everything related to just the way people form and build social networks. Without active maintenance, they begin to go away. Since she has been planning more active outings your illness has been preventing you from attending, then it is that much harder for you two to get together and cement those bonds.

Another possibility is that she is a bit benignly self-centered; she tends to favor things on her terms, such as when and how she sees her friends. If her open-house occasions are her favorite means of keeping those social networks, then the very fact that you haven’t managed to create it through no fault of your own — supposed that she simply did not think about seeing you more often.

Along the same lines, if she is a real social butterfly, it might well be that she is topping out in the amount of connections or friendships she could reasonably maintain; we all have only so much emotional bandwidth and we could only reasonably maintain so many social connections before a number of them begin to fade.

It might also be that your illness makes her uncomfortable, or that she is just selfish and does not like putting herself out there for people she is not already near.

There is not really any way of knowing, and agreeing beyond a particular point isn’t useful. It is too tempting to blame yourself or move down unhelpful roads that are not really connected to reality.

Now all that having been said:” I think that the likeliest explanation is that your link was not as tight for the two of you. Not everybody bonds with other people super-quickly and you could have had expectations that she was not going to have the ability to fulfill at this point in your friendship. That is a damn shame, to be certain.

However, what I would not  do is assume that this is because people do not like you. Just like intimate or sexual relationships, occasionally we will meet people who we’ve mad chemistry, but we just are not compatible with on some basic level.  And it might well suck, because they’re amazing, but it conditions mean that it just can not work out. Similarly, {} intimate or sexual relationships, not every friendship is supposed to last forever… or even for terribly long.

If your disease eases up or you find a remedy which makes it easier for you to get about, then it could be possible to reconstruct that link and also put in the time necessary to solidify things. Or it might be that, circumstances being what they are, this is a friendship which you might need to let go of and prioritize ones where your buddies are more prepared to make space for you and your own restrictions.

Very good luck.


We have both gained a substantial amount of weight since we have been married, but I am trying to mitigate that with exercise and diet. The issue is, he is not; and whenever I try to converse with him about it, he makes me feel like I am the bad guy for bringing this up.

Look, we are both approaching 40, and I know we will never be the”twinks” we were when we met, but I would love to be better than I am, and I am finding it rather tricky to find healthy with no support. His sex drive is nowhere close to it had been when we met. And it is frustrating because most this is correctable and he is refusing to even attempt. It is like he does not care.

I really like my husband. I’ll never”fat-shame” him, and that I know my weight struggles are not his issue. But I’d find it far easier to handle this when I feel like that he had been {} , and if he would attempt to be healthier too. I don’t know what to do, short of giving him an ultimatum: it is me or the sugar, dude.

One of the universal truths is that gravity and time make fools of us all ultimately, CFHH, and what we do is ultimately fighting a delaying action. This gets harder as we begin hitting our 40s and 50s, when our metabolisms have a gigantic hit.

That is when everyone has to make a decision: is it worthwhile to them to change things up and operate at pushing back against the inevitable?

While it’s definitely possible to be fat and healthy, it seems like your husband is not . What is slightly more about is that he does not care.

This is where it is time to begin using your words and figuring out how he is feeling. His deciding to let himself go could be an indication of — and trigger — melancholy. One of the ways that depression manifests is that you are a useless pile of garbage and there is no use in trying to do anything about it. Then as your physical condition deteriorates, you take that as evidence  which you’re, in actuality, crap, which reinforces those feelings. He may be reacting to injury or a sudden change in his life such as the death of loved one or the loss of his job.

But he is the only person who can let you know just what’s happening. So the best thing to do right now is sit down and have who Awkward Conversation — roughly your wants, his wants and exactly what’s happening. You will want to highlight that part of what you would like from him is his support for your targets, in addition to your nervousness about his health. Sleep apnea, for instance, can lead to potentially deadly  complications. So let him understand: you want the both of you to be there, not only for a fantastic time but for a long time. And you want that opportunity to be collectively .

The sooner you are aware of how he is feeling — and he knows what it is that you want from him — the earlier you can come up with a way for the two of you to get your needs met.

Very good luck.


A couple of months back I wrote in about my friend Sarah.  

I’m delighted to report that both the trip and dialogue were a success. She confirmed she had captured the feels and was considering what it’d be like to get serious but when her family member unexpectedly passed it away her life into disarray and she understood our lives were not moving in similar directions — that I agreed with. We agreed it was best to stay friends and she invited me to find active dating. I wanted her all the best as she continues to handle the family issues at home and reminded her that she has friends here that care for her. As for the trip itself we had a blast and proceeded to be physical.

I’ve mixed feelings about the results of course but recognize it’s for the best. We stay close friends and we are staying in touch. I need to thank you and the community for those remarks which encouraged me to finally get the closure with Sarah.

Currently, I am back in therapy. In spite of the confidence I gained from my time with Sarah it is not enough to calm my nerves and get comfortable around people. I still have to work the stress that continues to hold me back from actively relationship. The work persists.

Hanging From The Telephone

I’m glad your trip was a success, even though it was not necessarily the outcome you had been hoping for.

Meanwhile, you are on the right path: caring for yourself and functioning on your own anxiety issues is the right option.   It ai not glamorous or even terribly fun… but at the end, you will be in a far better place. And, even better: you will be ready once you find another chance for connection and love.

You have got this HTBT.

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Doctor NerdLove, I was hoping you could possibly help me with an extremely tough situation I am in.

The woman I have been interested in for the last month, who’s also quite a great friend of mine, has a boyfriend who’s by no means a good human being. The other day I found that he’s cheated on her several times and I have decided that as a buddy it’s my obligation to tell her. I’m not positive if that is the right choice, however, and I’m uncertain how to tell her all. If you could please weigh in on this, I would seriously appreciate it! Thank you so much.

Waiting In The Wings

Well, you asked, but I do not think you are going to like my answer.

Here is what you can do, WitW: you back the hell away.

To begin with, let’s be fair here, only you, me and the Web: you are not doing this from the goodness of your own heart. You did not decide that it is your duty to tell her because you’re that great of a friend, you are trusting that when you tell her she is going to ditch her cheating scumbag of a boyfriend and fly to your arms as the person who helped her see the truth. Which, to be perfectly honest, is a fairly shitty reason to intentionally insert yourself into the middle of someone else’s relationship drama.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s match this out somewhat. Let us assume that I give you my blessing to telling your crush about her allegedly philandering beau or you chose to go and inform her regardless. How, exactly, do you believe she is going to react? Here is a hint: she is going to take it seriously. The only question is that she is going to be pissed at.

And the smart money says it is likely to be you. You might have noticed that people do not appreciate bad news. In reality, we tend to get irrationally angry at the man who brings us the bad news, whether it’s their fault or not; there is a reason why”don’t shoot the messenger” is a frequent term, after all. So you are already starting off with your prospective hunny-bunny ticked off that you are telling her that something is rotten in Denmark.

But then there is another step: why should she believe you? Have you got proof? Have you got unquestionable proof which you could actually show her? Proof that could not possibly be clarified? Because in case you do not, then it is likely to be your word against her boyfriend. And sure, her boyfriend could be an assbag, but he is still her boyfriend. This gives him more credibility in her eyes than you’ve… particularly if either of them know that you have got a crush on her. And believe me, if she does not, he almost certainly does. This will be leveraged against you — you are going to look like you are lying up so as to split them up.

Now let us add another wrinkle to the mix: what makes you so sure she does not know already? You do not say you understand when it occurred, if she discovered before, if he confessed or she confronted him {} they have worked or not. None of which will work out for you how you are hoping.

Let us throw a third wrinkle: how would you find out? Can you prowl through his telephone or emails? Because she is going to need to know… and she is going to need to know why, exactly you’re prying into her company. All this will make a difference, since it is likely to be demonstrating your schedule rather strongly. And if you two are not honest-to-god BFFs — that, from the sounds of things, you are not — it is going to seem like you went digging for dirt, even if we grant that your motives were as pure as the driven snow. And that will bring you right back to that credibility issue.

But hey: let us say that you have the ability to thread all those needles and she dumps her good, scummy boyfriend. Assuming she does not lash out at you for inducing her break-up, she is still not likely to swoon into your arms. She is going to be pissed off at men generally and in no mood for the attempting to be the next in line… in reality, she is probably going to resent it. Women do not appreciate it when men suddenly assume that the window of opportunity is open since they have literally just broken up with someone. She is going to need a while to recuperate and your hanging around so as to help her through this ordeal will begin verging rather seriously into Nice Guy territory.

In short: you have got yourself your fundamental no-win scenario. And you’re not likely to Kobayashi Maru your way through this.

This is not your business. Your becoming involved is just going to add another layer of drama to someone else’s relationship. And even under the best of circumstances, it is going to end badly for you.

Leave it alone.

Hey Doc,

Got a question for you. I am a woman who recently took the initiative and asked out a guy I had some chemistry with. We’re in exactly the exact same fandom world, and finding nice and ordinary people among us is quite infrequent.

I started to reach out to him email a couple of months ago. We had a couple of conversations, where he threw in some remarks seemed like bad attempts at flirting. Not everybody has game, right? But after initiating a few discussions, I decided to let him reach out to me, and he did not. OK. Fair enough. Moving on….

Then I reconnected him in a recent event, and he began reaching out to me with gusto — mails, pictures (clothed!) , etc.. He confessed to basically stalking me on social networking, though he does not actually have a social networking presence himself.

So after a couple of weeks of email flirting, I chose to be a grown-ass girl and ask him out. What I got back was a long, rambling email where he admits to being in relationship with somebody else, but he does not want to lose what”we have.” I have never seen evidence of him with a significant other, and I would be very pissed off if a boy of mine was having this sort of relationship with another woman.

There have been a few short email exchanges because my rejection. He has done all the reaching out — I guess either to take my temperature to find out if I’d still speak to him or checking in to make sure I have not sunk into a huge melancholy (trust me, I have not ).

What’s up with guys and their hidden relationships? Perhaps his rambling was a wonderful way to conceal that he just was not into me? Since I’ll run into this guy at forthcoming fandom occasions, what do I do? Frankly, I feel totally embarrassed and humiliated. I sort of want to tell him to go to hell, but I do not want to be the bitter bitch who hates him because he turned me down. I also need to prevent him, but that gets tiring, also. Trust me, if I had any idea he had a long-term GF or would turn me down, there is no way in hell I’d have asked him out in the first location. What was he doing beginning this sort of connection with me in the first place? Can I bother to keep a friendship that he seems to desire even though I know it will not be enough for me?

Thanks,

There are a whole lot of possibilities here TC. It is possible he was stringing you along because he enjoyed the flirty attention you had been giving him. Or it is entirely possible that once you reconnected, he decided you were cool and wanted to be friends. I can not say for certain one way or another — after all, I was not there, and without depriving you both and reading the transcripts, it is kind of hard to say whether he had been flirting — you say his match seemed kind of weak — and if so, how much of it was just flirting because flirting is fun and how much of it had been flirting with intent. All that being said: I do not believe he had been leading you on, and I do not believe he was deliberately concealing the fact that he had a girlfriend. Considering that you are operating in similar circles — fandom will be a small world, after all — it is entirely possible that he presumed you knew he was seeing somebody. Why didn’t he bring her up when you’re speaking? Well: I have not seen the transcripts, but it is possible that the subject just didn’t come up. I have had many, many discussions with my friends — people both — where we do not talk about our significant others just because there’s no call. It is possible — even advisable — to have a life outside your connection after all.

I also am willing to wager {} no idea you were to him. When you straight-up out him, he suddenly realized that you two were not on the same page and suddenly things got awkward. Or perhaps he had a hint that you liked him but was prepared to ignore it in hopes that you would wind up romantically interested in somebody else and you would not have this nascent infatuation between the both of you.

Either way: shit done got bizarre.

Before I get into what to do about this, I wish to deal with your question about what was he doing beginning a relationship with you whatsoever. Something to bear in mind is that men generally have more emotionally intimate friendships with girls than they do with other guys. It’s a good deal easier for men to open up to girls than it is for other men; regardless of how much people can talk about bromances, being open and emotionally intimate with another dude is still seen as being unmanly. The term”bromance” conveys the”ha ha, it is kind of like you are dating” pointed nudging and also not-quite joking, and men can be uncomfortable with this. Thus, we often seek out closeness from our female friends, who have a tendency to be less judgmental and more accepting of emotional openness. When you look at it from one angle, yeah, it may sort of look like a romantic relationship… but it is about fulfilling an emotional need than attempting to begin an intimate relationship or conduct an affair.

But all that aside, the immediate question is: what do you do now that this is out there, flopping about on the table like an Awkward Turtle? At the moment, you are feeling ashamed and probably a bit angry. Take some time to allow the sting fade along with the anger cool off. As soon as you’ve gotten beyond the immediate pain, you are likely to realize that it isn’t as bad as it sounds . Liking a dude who does not like you back the exact same way is not embarrassing. Getting turned down, while sucky, is not something to be ashamed of. All that happened is that you found out that the both of you were not compatible. In the long run, there is no harm, no foul. It’s tough to see it today, but with time and perspective, this will wind up being one of those things you look back with entertainment among the wackadoo elements of the relationship game.

He clearly expects to keep your friendship. As I am always telling men, one of the difficulties with being at the Friend Zone is that you are choosing to remain there. You state that being friends is not going to be sufficient for you — fair enough, that is a legitimate option. Just do not cure his wanting to be friends like he is offering you the booby-prize, or that being friends is a bad substitute for romance.

If you don’t wish to be friends with him and you do not need to spend the remainder of your time preventing him whenever you may be at exactly the exact same event, then I recommend you be straight with him. Tell him that he is a cool guy and you like him, but you’re hoping for something more.Let him understand that trying to be friends with him would to be painful for you and it is not fair to either of you to attempt to continue things when you are longing for something he is not able to provide you with. And then you simply let matters drift apart. If you happen to run into each other at events, then be polite, say hello and just keep going. If things get awkward, then simply acknowledge the awkwardness. It doesn’t need to be a teeth-grindingly embarrassing situation if you don’t let it be.

Very good luck.

This post was formerly published on Doctornerdlove.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: Can She Be Pushing Me Into A Relationship?

Hey Doc,

Longtime listener, first time caller. I (35M)’m about one month from a two-and-a-half year relationship. We part on good terms, we just realized we {} a excellent longer-term fit. The part that made me a terrible fit was that I had been immersed in my career and hobbies that she felt as though she was not a priority. It is a fair charge, but it is not the entire story and I will leave it there.
I enjoy being single. I think it’s fun meeting new and interesting and attractive folks. It’s also much easier on my schedule that’s chaotic and packaged by design. I am contented with my hobbyjob and comfortable with all the consequences of deciding to prioritize that part of my life. I have recent, definitive evidence that even a excellent and supportive partner isn’t going to be a fantastic match unless we can share aspirations. I am fine with that, and I am okay with the possibility of not finding that individual for a while or ever.
A couple weeks before, from the enthusiastic rush of becoming single again, I happened to reactivate a relationship account mostly with the intent of looking around to see what was out there. I got a message from somebody, and because I figured it’d be interesting I decided to meet her for drinks. During that date I explained to her what my situation was: recently single, very active, looking to concentrate on career stuff. She wanted to get together again, which we did twice on events spread out over the last month.
She is very attractive and has a fantastic personality and sense of humor, so I’d love to keep spending time with her. She is also not a person whose aspirations I see being compatible with mine. But she has done a few things that make me believe she’s much more interested in a relationship than I am (and her relationship profile indicates the same, but she and it are clear that she is not interested in having kids ). She’s described us as”relationship”, dropped casually into conversation a small number of occasions including on our next date. She texts frequently, often just asking me about my day or wanting to chat. She makes regular reference to needing to see each other again (while acknowledging the boundaries I have set around my period ).
I’m wondering if I’m overthinking or underthinking things at this time. She is an adult who appears to have no difficulty saying what she wants. I have made clear on a few occasions what sort of emotional position I am in. I want to keep watching her on a casual and intermittent basis but I do not know whether she will be comfortable with that. If I expect her to make it clear if she’s expecting something more than what we are currently doing? I really don’t want to hurt her, but I also don’t want to mug myself.
Thanks!

I think what you have here is your setup for a Mitch Hedberg joke:”I don’t have a girlfriend, I just know a woman who would be really mad to hear me say that.”

The issue I see here is some thing I have seen over and over again in relationship — somebody who is ostensibly listening but not really hearing what you are saying. Occasionally we meet somebody who’s seemingly perfect for us except for one minor, itsy-bitsy problem: we need a connection and they do not. The conflict arises when we do not take that battle seriously. So we try to ignore the issue. We pretend it is not there, or that it is not a significant deal-breaker. Sometimes we pretend we are cool with something casual — even if we are not. Other times we assume that we could only… wait it out. We assume that as they are ideal for us, we have to be ideal for them. Therefore it becomes a waiting game. But we can not forget that this is a one-sided arrangement… and so we attempt to force folks’ hands.

Sometimes it means that people get passive-aggressive, treating any mention of additional partners, other programs or the casual nature of the connection with scorn or obvious disapproval. Other times people will attempt to backdoor their way to a connection, dropping references to relationship and future plans to casual conversation. If you do not immediately push back, then well, that has to be tacit acceptance of this connection framework, right?

This is something I have seen people do… hell this is something I have done in previous relationships. Problem is: it does not work and it only makes everyone unhappy in the procedure.

I can not say for certain this is exactly what your friend is doing… but it certainly appears like she is chosen to ignore the fact that you are not relationship material at the moment. The situations you describe — falling”dating” to the dialogue, texting you just to discuss your daily life, etc? That’s all of the type of behaviour I expect to see from somebody who’s moving towards a committed relationship, not something casual. While I am certainly not a believer in any type of artificial limit of how many times you’re”supposed” to speak to someone you are not wanting to date, the frequency and topics sound far more somebody assuming a degree of familiarity that you don’t have — and yet in your case — you are uninterested in.

A number of this could just be a matter of different relationship styles. She can have a different definition of”relationship” than you. She might well be the type of person that has these kinds of conversations with all her friends. I doubt it, but it is certainly possible.

But the only way to figure out this is — as I am so frequently saying — to use your own words. If she brings up the notion that you are dating, then you might want to ask her exactly what that means to her. This doesn’t have to be accusatory; it is just that you might have different expectations and you need to make certain the both of you are on the same page. That may also be a great time to have the Defining The Relationship talk; when she has not grasped you do not see this as going anywhere long term, then it is time to make sure she knows that. But if she isn’t prepared to acknowledge that you have chosen to prioritize your career over relationship today? Then it’s far better to finish things earlier rather than later. This way the two of you can be free to find people that are perfect for you — someone who is looking to date severely for her and someone who just needs something low-key for you.

Very good luck.

I am currently in an area of frustration and stress that’s been going on for far too long and I want to know if I the need the chair leg of truth or just to just calm the hell down.

To make a long story short I met this girl, who we’ll call Sarah a couple of years back when I had been, at the moment, a psychological mess. I’d just moved from my parent’s home and was about a year to treatment for depression and anxiety.

When I first saw Sarah I was instantly drawn to her but, knowing where my head was at, made it a point to keep things strictly platonic. I told myself I had to expand my social circle and group of friends which had dwindled down to almost nothing after graduating from school before I even thought of having a girlfriend.

Fast forward a year and things quickly took off. I have gathered a strong new set of friends, we are getting together almost every weekend and I’m getting invited to innumerable parties and get togethers. At precisely the exact same time I am getting closer with Sarah who’s also in exactly the exact same group of friends but I am still telling myself to keep it platonic. Having read your work, I am watching for indications of attention from her and coming up empty. But, our mutual friends begin asking me if we’re dating that, more than anything else, just confuses me. Why would they believe that? Granted we usually wind up speaking at meetups and gravitate to each other but that is about it. I brush it off as a wonderful compliment that hey, it should not seem as awkward as I feel like it’s when I am chatting her up.

I’m also crashing on her couch after celebrations. My confidence has skyrocketed, I have been going to the gym regularly and my social skills overall have improved dramatically. We are seeing each other just about every single weekend and she is always pleased to see me and attend things together. The one thing that’s missing is your physicality.

Now do not get me wrong, it is not that I do not want to get my hands on her, I am simply incredibly uncomfortable with physicality generally. On numerous occasions the minute is crying to get intimate or request a kiss. {But there I sit{} acting like I have a force field around myself which prevents me from so much as giving her a hug goodbye, which makes me bang my head against my steering wheel in frustration as I drive home. |}

After getting asked by mutual friends again when we’re dating, I muster up the courage to ask her the same question; are we dating? When I ask her she looks just as clueless as I am. It’s clear she’s simply been enjoying time together as far as I have and had not given much thought to making it exclusive or serious. We continue to speak more private and we make plans to go on a few trips out of town together.

Tragedy would unfortunately attack when a family member suddenly dies and she had to fly home to assist her siblings. It soon beacane clear she will have to return home to care for the home and handle the family member’s effects. This gives us only a month or two before she moves several states away. It seems like the endgame today, and by the way she’s currently acting I can tell she feels the exact same way. She’s currently becoming noticeably more physical, always sitting right next to me at group works but what’s more, a whole lot more intimate when lonely. Now we are cuddling on the couch, she is putting her head in my lap, etc.. However, I’m crashing on the couch at night and we’ve never kissed. In this time I refrain from pressing her further about the connection status since I do not need to bring any unnecessary strain on her and what is the point? That is all coming to an end soon anyways perfect?

Well we continue to call and text during the next few months during which time my attention with her does not waiver. Supporting this fixation is a couple of guys from our mutual group of friends who’ve basically been sending us. They tell me how they’ve understood Sarah more than I have and never saw her act the way she had me around. They need her to return and keep inviting me to maintain that goal living.

It’s been close to a year now because she moved and since then I’ve seen her twice in between the telephone calls and texts. She flew out to see me for a couple of days while I was visiting a new city on business and I flew out to her home for a couple of days. I have sadly failed to have the connection talk during trip, rationalizing that we just had a couple of days together and why make it serious/awkward?

She’s not a big texter, two, she’s busy with her job during the week and 3. Each time that I do predict she always picks up and is happy to speak. Still, I fall back into grief and tell myself I want to get over her before one of us necessarily texts another and all is well with the world again.

As it stands now I am hoping she will be returning for at least a week over the next few months but it remains to be seen whether she will actually be returning long term. So my question to you Doc is if our connection, as it is now, is doing more damage than good to me. If I continue to hold out for her possible return to grow and continue our relationship or should I proceed?

I am currently searching for a new therapist to speak to about this and my apparent lingering problems with anxiety and confidence.

Hanging By The Telephone

I am not the person you should be speaking to, HBTP. That would be Sarah. The two of you are circling around one another like protagonists at a love manga, both of you obviously interested in one another but neither of you prepared to really muscle up and take responsibility for your own feelings. You both appear to have determined that neither of you wanted to afford the chance of getting rejected or danger”destroying” the friendship and so the two of you just lived in that frustrating limbo where all of your friends could tell exactly what was happening but neither of you wanted to listen.

But the issue is that you all are not in a love manga or a romcom or a CW telenovela. In all those, the status quo can go on indefinitely. Two destined fans can circle each other like planets around a star until circumstances eventually induce you to make your move. And — seriously — people proceed. In the end, two people might have the capacity for an remarkable relationship… but possible does not mean a damn thing if it’s not acted upon. The perfect possible relationship is finally less desirable than the imperfect relationship with somebody who really made a move. And the more you won’t make a move, the greater the chances are that someone else will.

A willingness to wait for as long as it requires can be kind of candy in films, if you don’t consider it too hard, but it does not work in the actual world. Nobody will wait that long, nor should they. And holding out hope that she might return? That is just another way of stating that you are not eager to make your move.

So in case you would like this relationship to really occur — or get closed on what could have been — then you are going to need to stop talking to some loudmouth with an advice column and really speak to her. You’re going to need to get over whatever hang up that is keeping you from really addressing the elephant in the room and spit it out already. And I do not mean falling”Hey, I love you” in her lap and walking away like a kitty depositing a dead bird on the front step or requesting her to say”yes we are dating”. I mean stepping up and saying”I enjoy our friendship but I feel like there is more here and I need to date you. May I take you out on the right date?”

1 way or another, you will get your answer. Either she will admit the obvious and say that yes, she want to give this a try, or she will say thank you but no. In any event, you will have finally gotten a response and be able to move ahead… either with a connection with your sweetie, or with the freedom to eventually find someone who does want to date you.

Very good luck.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: Is It Time To Abandon A Friendship?

Hi Doc,

My question is about dealing with the aftermath of confessing intimate feelings to a close friend and coping with his rejection whilst not losing that friend and moving the nuclear option.

Long story short, I am a late bloomer in her early 30s with limited experience (had a first kiss and sensual experience when I was 30, just 1 connection, and had sex just 3 times in my lifetime ). So, the previous summer I’ve developed a crush on a really close friend that I knew for 2 years at the time. The problem was that he had been going to leave town to move across the sea in 4 months. Despite this, I wanted to follow a short-term relationship with him, I felt like having a short-term intimate encounter with him outweighed the fact that it is going to be a connection with an expiration date.

Being a firm believer in direct communication, I asked him if he would be interested in us dating each other and I tell him that I recognize that most likely it is going to be a connection with an expiration date and if he does not feel he is into that he should not be scared of saying’no’, I will take it. He answered he was also considering us dating each other but he was afraid he does not have the time to date someone in another 4 months (he was supposed to travel quite a bit for work reasons prior to leaving the town ). Anyway, he said {} think about it. Three days after we got together for drinks with another girl who’s very closest friend. I could not stay long and left, the following morning I got a news from her that matters escalated after I left and they decided to play a version of truth or dare game by stripping off their clothes and telling each other mad sex things they’ve done (but they did not touch each other) and that I should have stayed that night to join them. Frankly, I felt dreadful upon hearing that information, though there was not any reason. A few hours later he messaged me saying that he does not have any secrets from me and I am free to inquire about his mad sex experiences he confessed to a friend of mine while naked, but he wants to be in the perfect mood, so I should not push him to inform about them.

A month after the three of us were hanging out (he {} tell me these stories) and that I was being playful with him put his hands on my back to get back massage. The following day he wrote me that he was really considering having a romantic relationship with me despite the limited time we have, but due to the’hand thingy’ (I did not ask him for his approval ), he determined that he will change his mind. I gradually recovered then, but the fact he was keeping secrets (what he told another buddy ) was slowly eating me. Several weeks before he left the town I told him how I felt about him having those secrets from me. He disclosed these secrets, via a text message, not face to face, and it felt as though it was not genuine.

Those secrets turned were the truth he practiced some BDSM actions several years back and that he was ashamed of them. Now, here is what, I am also into BDSM (never practiced but I know I need to do it), so I told him that those things he should not be ashamed of and that I find them amazing and {} also into them. During the past week we had been talking a lot about them, and lots of day after he left the town he explained he could be up for trying some of these, 1.5 months later when we were supposed to share a hotel room for a week in a music festival in a different country. But when we actually met, he felt somewhat angry and distant (I do not know what triggered it, but he had been stressed searching for employment in a different continent), sooner or later at this occasion he said that he favors going for dinners with different people rather than me (before that we had been having dinners together and planned on celebrating New Year’s eve together at the festival). He also stated that I need to change my plans of seeing him across the sea (fortunately I did not book my flights yet). The remainder of the event was quite depressing for me.

After all of this I feel have hard time processing what have occurred (that nude night with a buddy of mine after he explained that he does not have time for casual sex, the fact he was concealing his interest in BDSM while telling me he trusts me and does not have secrets from me, or his weirdly distant behaviour at the festival). I feel miserable and have difficulty sleeping when I think about most {} things that happened between us the past year and I think about them almost daily. Am I overreacting and simply have to find mental help? The matter is that I really appreciate his friendship and that I still keep contact with him. But sometimes I think if I need to go complete nuclear option? But I’m terrified of losing a close friendship with him and doing the nuclear option and losing contact with him would do more psychological damage as opposed to maintaining a contact.

Thanks a lot for any feedback!
Nukes and Friends

This is somewhat complicated, NaF, since I think there are a couple of issues colliding here.

The first is that this man appears to have issues with really saying what he thinks or feels. I mean, it is pretty clear to me from his activities that he is simply not interested in you and — for whatever reason — can not seem to bring himself to say it straight. Maybe he is concerned about hurting you. Maybe he is just very passive aggressive. It might be that you were not as clear about the nature of the connection you wanted with him and he thinks you want something more committed than he’s up for. Maybe he enjoys dangling the notion of the two of you getting together on your head like he is dangling string above a kitten. Who knows. But what’s clear is that the problem isn’t that he does not have time for casual hot games… it is that he does not have time for casual hot games with you.

And hey, that stinks. It can be incredibly debilitating when it feels like somebody is telling you that you are simply not good enough to bang. I don’t think that is what he is actually saying, but you would be forgiven for taking it that way because he is acting really goddamn weird about it.

Now it is fair that some folks do not necessarily like being caught or feeling like they’re being forced to touch someone they would rather not touch. Everyone has the rights to their bounds and it is definitely not impossible that you crossed one of his. However, for him to tell you another day”hello, I was totally going to hook up with you but you tried to make me give you a massage, so nevermind,” is… questionable. It comes across as a bizarre and cruel way of punishing you for a transgression you’d no idea you’d made. If this was real, then I really question the need to bring up the concept of dating, rather than just saying”hey, I was not cool with your catching my hands like that.” That’s the type of thing which makes me wonder about his emotional intelligence or social calibration.

And if it was not genuine and only a way for him to escape having to turn you down (to get a question which you asked a month ago) then he is being a match playing dick.

Again: if this came from the clear blue skies, then this is a man who has been the emotional equivalent of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and you are better off not dating him.

All that having been said howeverI believe you are also making a bigger deal out of a whole lot of this than is really justified by the situation or the relationship. It seems to me like you’re far more invested in this man than you should have been, all things considered. It stinks that he was more inclined to fool around with your friend — even though nothing happened — than you. But feeling betrayed he had interests along with a background he had not shared with you? That’s a bit much. Friendships, even ones that are close, are not depositions; people are not required to share each and every detail of the lives and histories, particularly details that they might be embarrassed by or ashamed of. That is not”keeping secrets” from you, that is just him with a right to privacy rather than having to disclose every little thing he has ever done.

I get that you feel left out from the fact he told your friend about this through wacky nude time… but frankly, that’s his call to make. It is understandable that you would feel hurt that he did not trust you with this advice, but again: that is his absolute right. If he needs to tell someone he is flirting about his sexual history but not you, that is up to him.

And to be honest: with as put out as you seem about it, I think part of the battle here is that you’re so put out about all of this that it became a bone of contention between the two of you. And if you’re bringing this up on the routine with him as a problem with your relationship… well, I could see how he would begin getting annoyed by it.

I don’t think you need mental assistance, NaF, I believe you are inexperienced and overinvested in somebody you liked. It’s the type of thing that most of us do when we are first trying to navigate intimate and sexual interest beyond puppy-love when we are kids. A good deal of us go through this in middle school and high-school. A number people do this later in life. It stinks, but it is a part of their learning experience and sadly, some learning experiences involve falling on our faces and amassing some bruises. However, as much as it might sting, that is how you grow your hit points at the long term.

So I think for now, I think it can be better for you to let this man go for some time. Whether this dude is not as emotionally intelligent than you would expect, you allow a crush overwhelm your common sense or both, I believe you will need some space and perspective. Unfollowing his Instagram and Snapchat, muting him Twitter and Facebook… all of these are ways that you give yourself space to heal and get over someone. It’s hard to let things go when you are constantly tempted by the chance to verify his Instagram or see whether his connection status has changed, after all.

Give yourself a rest from this man, go and gather new adventures, fall in love over and over. Let your heart heal.

Very good luck.

I think need some guidance. I have issues with my self worth when it comes to”after relationship situations”.

In the past I had a couple of relationships but none of them lasted for at least a month or two. I understood I was a wonderful guy and began to fix it (and stumbled upon your site at the time). We would head out once and then she slowly stopped responding to my messages (even calls in 1 case), with no explanation and I have never heard from her. Despite the fact that the date sounded fine, I tried to learn from each rejection and prevent errors I have made before I felt like I have failed.

What if it is going to become usual and I’ll get rejected? What did I do wrong? She is online and she watched my message, why had not she reacted already?” . My mind comes up with catastrophic situations and I worry about things that didn’t actually occur.

At times it comes to assessing my smartphone now and then which is the behaviour I wanted to avoid and making me even more anxious.

Basically my self worth drops and the assurance I felt throughout the date is just dust.

I opted to stay cool, enjoy the day and provoke the interest in her. Throughout the day she informs me about a man she is likely to meet which was sufficient to begin doubts in me (why did she do this in the first place?) . When I was paying for her after the dinner (first date) she cried but then she was like”I will cover when we will meet for another time” (which sparked the expectation for another date in me and that she was curious ). She responds to my messages then day although I am nearly always the person who initiates the conversation. My anxiety and negative thoughts intensified when I saw a post with that man (and her response to it).

My question is: How to manage these ideas and catastrophic situations and how to keep my self worth?

Worst Case Scenario Vision

Alright, WCSV, do you see what I just said to Nukes and Friendship? A good deal of that applies to you, too. The issue you are having here is that you are mentally overinvesting in those dates with people you hardly understand. In a lot of ways, first dates are just like a sample from the deli or the ice cream parlor: you are trying to determine if you are at all interested before you commit to purchasing a complete order. Getting hung up on someone you’ve only had one date with — even though it was a very good date is the way you set yourself up for unnecessary heartbreak. You do not know this person well enough to justify giving them so much importance that assessing your phone is enough to provide you with anxiety. A sexy stranger, very possibly. A stranger you had a fantastic time with. But a stranger.

The objective of a first date is simple: you need to connect together and see whether there’s enough mutual chemistry and interest to justify seeing each other again. If there is not, then it is a shame… but you will find countless other potential partners out there. This was only one that did not work out.

It sucks that things have not worked out with these girls you have been dating, but the majority of what you have been learning is that these are women who, for some reason, you are not compatible with. A whole lot of this is simply out of your control. Sometimes you get lucky right off the bat. Other times you need to search around for some time. You may satisfy the wrong person… or you may meet the perfect person at the wrong moment. The one thing you can do is be sure you’re working on your side of this equation.

Part of this is making certain you are taking the appropriate course from these dates. It will not do you any good if you are going on those dates and supposing, as an instance, you want to overcompensate for your Nice Guy ago and become a snarky asshole. On the flip side, you might still be acting TOO fine and coming across less as a possible partner and much more as a pushover. You may be spending too much time trying to impress your date and insufficient time trying to connect together.

That is why I urge that men who what to get better at relationship should maintain a journal. Whenever you go out and approach people or go out on dates, write down as far as you possibly can about what happened — what you said, what they said, how they reacted, how you felt at the present time, etc.. Try to maintain as strictly objective as possible; report what occurred without judging or assessing or making assumptions about how the other person felt or what they believed. This gives you information, and allows you to search for patterns which may indicate particular sticking points.

The same is true with analyzing the wake of said dates. If your discussions are regularly tracking off, see if you can pinpoint exactly where the change appears to happen and if it is happening at more or less the exact same time. It could be, as an instance, that you are a small over-eager and that is putting people off. On the other hand, it might also be that they simply were not feeling it and there is nothing you can do about it.

Which is a challenging truth: sometimes there is not anything to find. Sometimes the problem is not anything that you are doing but the people you’re dating.

That’s why finally, the response to getting better at relationship is… to go on more dates and try doing things differently. You may study the theory all you want but the only way you can acquire those levels in relationship is to go out and grind out’em in the area.

And incidentally: do not sweat getting ghosted so much. As much as I wish it was not true, ghosting is now part of the relationship landscape. It is rude and it can be disheartening, but at the end of the day, it says much more about them than it does about you. The one thing you can do about it’s be the change you wish to see in relationship.

Very good luck.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: What Can You Do When Your Best Is Not Good Enough?


Hello, Doc,

I am a single bisexual dude. Then I hit 30 and began to worry I had missed the chance to find someone. I decided it was time to put effort into attempting to date because it clearly was not happening on its own, but I was not in a good place emotionally to begin. It took a year of working on myself then for a place where I finally feel confident and able to really put myself out there.

I am on essentially every big dating program and site now. I compose thoughtful messages, select people based on their interests or personalities, avoid conventionally attractive individuals since they are already overwhelmed with attention, and I attempt to be open-minded concerning appearance, physique, age, sex, and sexuality. I put plenty of time and effort into creating the best profile I could, and I try to connect with as many possible matches as possible.

I mentally prepared myself for all sorts of rejection, but I can not even get to the area where somebody might reject me because I never hear back from anybody. I don’t actually get any answers or interest or messages from men or women (not counting the arbitrary 50-year-old men who just happen to be throwing out dick pics in all directions and seeing what sticks)

I turned to the world wide web to find out what information was out there for single folks who had been ineffective, and it seemed to boil down to information for improving yourself, but… What if I am already trying my best with all that? To cover some of those”you need to fix yourself” advice: I like fashion and dress nicely, I use an embarrassing amount of skincare products and set lots of care into my look, I am at a healthy weight, in good shape and workout a lot, and I’m currently in therapy to work in my melancholy and mindset. I have met all of the singles I could expect to meet through my current social circle. I go to meetup groups and things like that. I’ve taken all of the advice I can on taking great photographs and having a fantastic profile and sending good messages on dating websites. I have plenty of hobbies (solo and with others ), hard-earned abilities and interesting life experiences, and I believe that I’m a fantastic conversationalist, humorous, passionate, affectionate, and overall a great guy with lots to offer! And it has taken me a great deal of hard work to get to the point where I could say that and feel like I am good enough for somebody else.

I honestly think I am being the best version of myself I can, but the final result is that I am still not good enough for anybody. There’s a large part of me wondering when I am already following what all the information states and doing my best but still failing, there has to be something really wrong with me. I do have an ugly face and I am short, but I can not do anything to change that, so I have been trying to make up for it with all the excellent qualities that I really do have. Recently, though, I have begun to wonder if these might be defects that other individuals won’t be prepared to check beyond no matter how hard I try.

Nobody owes me anything, obviously, and I do not blame anybody for my lack of success, but it still stings to feel as though I am not up to par for anybody out there at my very best.

If my best is not good enough, and my worst qualities are ones that I can not physically change, where do I go from here? When I started trying online dating a couple of months back, I did not expect it to be a massive success, but I was optimistic that I would at least be able to get a few people willing to go on a date with me. Now I’m beginning to doubt I have any value to others, and I am very ashamed of myself, particularly when I have single friends of all types success with OLD where I am failing miserably.

I am doing my best to remain positive and barrel, but I feel like most my hard work to feel worthwhile has unfortunately begun to fall apart because of this. Should I wait to turn 50 and ship out dick pics to all the strangers I could find? Please assist!

Doing My Best, Beginning To Stress

First of all DMBSTS: you will need to give yourself some credit for the work you have done. You’ve put plenty of work into your mental wellbeing and into your life and that is outstanding. You’ve done a lot on your own and no matter of how things are going at this moment, you have achieved more than you understand. You should be proud of all that.

Second of all: You know what words jumped out at me? “Dealing with my melancholy”. This is an important issue and one which casts doubt on some of your claims of defects because depression is a fucking liar. Depression whispers in your ear your worst fears and anxieties are accurate, that all your defects are worse than you had thought and everything is pointless. And it’s all the more persuasive because not only does it reach your best anxieties, but it does all this with your own voice. And I have been there, I have done that, I have done the job and I am here in the future to tell you that this basic truth: all {} things depression tells you is bullshit.

As I’ve stated more instances than I could count within this column when I had a nickel for each self-proclaimed”ugly” man who turned out to be anywhere between ordinary to”no, you are really good looking”, I would be needing mecha fights with Elon Musk at a life-size mock-up of Tokyo 3. We zoom in on what we assume are our imperfections once we look in the mirror, because we’re hyper-focused on them. We see them clear as day and twice as big because we are so knowledgeable about the topology and landscape of our face that they stand out to us like mountains.

Depression and anxiety take all that and dial it up to 11, and then it snaps off the dial since FUCK YOU THAT’S WHY.

Like I said: depression is a liar, and it’ll beat you down if you let it. That is why it’s great that you are working with a therapist about it. Getting depression in check and realizing just how much of it’s bullshit will be the single best thing you can do to help yourself. Learning how to love yourself is a massive part of relationships. It is not that you need to think you are the hottest thing since World War III or that you are perfect and anyone would be a fool to NOT be with you. It’s learning how to think that, even if you’re not perfect, you are still worthy of love. Even in the event that you have flaws, you are still worthy. Even if you’re not getting the success that you wish you had, you are still worthy.

That is something to hold on to, even if it feels like there is nothing you can do.

But that does not mean that the answer is”stop trying to date till you get your melancholy managed”; it is just tact which you ought to pursue while pursuing relationship. Another is shifting up how you are coming dating because right now, you are getting in your own way.

So let’s talk a bit about what you are doing and what you could do differently.

I believe the first issue is that you’re attempting to do too much all at once and you are giving yourself a horrible case of burn-out. This is truly common, especially among men. There is a trend for men to be what The Love Gap writer Jenna Birch calls”linear developers“: we tend to treat everything as a linear procedure. So that we spend a whole lot of time doing anything but relationship, so by the time we are ready, that is the only thing we do. So now we are insanely invested in the outcome because we have just put all this work into getting to this stage for ages.

Plus it makes things difficult because lots of times, the people we want to date — especially straight women — develop as a net: cultivating and growing their lives more or less concurrently. So they have been prepared to date and frustrated with the fact that they are on a different timeline than the people they are interested in.

So now there is a massive disconnect between possible games, which fuels the frustration since here we are, we are finally ready and nothing is happening. And that rips us square in the ghoulies because after living for this moment, our self-worth becomes so wrapped up in the outcome that this lack of achievement means that everything else we have done is worth and we are worthless.

And our psychological resilience falls apart.

Take on your case, DMBSTS: you are putting in all of the energy and getting nothing back, which is cratering your self-esteem. Part of the problem is that, honestly, you are putting in all of the effort. You are throwing a lot of yourself into this that you don’t actually have any reserves. Worse, you are doing it so widely and inefficiently that you have made it tough to find any returns on your emotional investment. So you will need to dial this back.

How you are on”every dating program out there” is a good example of this. Even allowing for hyperbole, when you split your focus over multiple dating programs, you wind up spreading yourself too thin. You’ve got too many people, too many programs, too many messages and spend too much time on all them. You wind up with the paradox of choice (too many choices ) and diffusing your energy and time. So begin by narrowing your focus to one, possibly two programs at the most. Various programs have different cultures and draw various audiences. Match is more oriented for serial monogamists while Tinder is shallow and shallow by design. Bumble and Hinge are both aimed more for people searching for relationships, while Scruff, Grinder and Recon are more hook-up oriented. And a curse (individuals searching for one-night stands maintain deluging people who are searching for commitment).

Pick one or two that {} with your immediate objectives and the sort of person you’re searching for, and allow your other accounts go dormant for some time. If you choose to switch apps, have a one-in, one-out strategy, to keep yourself from becoming overwhelmed.

Next: dial back the amount of investment you are making. As counter-intuitive as it might appear — even considering some of my advice about the topic — you’re putting too much effort in that first message. It’s great to be private and considerate, but there is a point in which you’ve spent so much in that message that the lack of reaction wrecks you. Your goal should be two-fold: get them to take a look at your profile and get a dialogue started. Do not overthink it, do not place too much time into it and do not write them a book. Give them a reason to check out you and also to reply to you. Ask a question, have loads of conversational hooks in your profile and then proceed to another person.

As importantly: message the people you’re attracted to. That bit about not texting the attractive people? That is not you making a wise play, that is you screwing yourself over since you do not think they may be interested in you. It is just another way that you let your melancholy rule your life and cheat yourself from potential happiness. Not messaging them does not improve your chances, it simply means that you keep on telling yourself that you are not good enough to attempt to even speak to them. Reinforcing your own sense of worthlessness is not a successful relationship strategy, even when you’re dressing it up in a lost sense of consideration for others.

In this day and age, most individuals are not meeting their spouses through Tinder and OKCupid, they are fulfilling them through work, through friends and through shared tasks. Living your life in such a way that it brings you in contact with others with similar interests is part of how we increase our potential dating pool. And in fairness: you are doing that. But part of the issue, I guess, is that you are approaching this as”If I go to X, I’ll find Y people I wish to date,” that is a mistake. Your goal in fulfilling people ought to be just that: meeting people. If some of them are people you will want to date right off the bat, then yahtzee! But most folks are not; that is nothing to do with them or you, that is just numbers. We are not attracted to everybody we meet, or even nearly all people we meet — especially right off the bat. The amount of people we meet that we would like to date immediately is modest. The amount of people we develop brought to as we get to know them? That is much higher.

As importantly, you may not meet people that you wish to date in that Meetup or in your social circle… but you more likely to meet somebody who’ll introduce you to the men and women that you want to date.

That, however, is another location where you must be ready to take the initiative. If you’re trying to boost the amount of possible partners, then ask your friends for assistance. Tell them you are looking to date and do they know anybody that you may click with? They might not have anybody in your mind right off the bat… but the window does not slam shut if they do not have anyone right then and there. You are meeting and getting to know people all of the time and so are they. So if they know you are single and looking and they meet someone new who may be your specific shot of whiskey? They then know to try putting you two together.

But the main thing you will need to remember? You will need the ideal person in the perfect place, at the ideal time. That can be tough to get to lineup. A few of the people you meet might not be in the perfect place, for you or for them. Or they might not be the perfect person yet.

A smart man once said: it is possible to generate no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness. That’s not a indication that there is something wrong with you. That is just life. But so long as there is life, there is the opportunity to make everything work.

What you can not do is compare your trip to anybody else’s. Some people have a simpler time in relationship which has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you personally. If you were to do the exact same things they did, you’d get completely different results compared to . Not because there is something wrong with you, but since you are not them.

And your journey is far from over. This is not the end. This is not even the start of the end. This is the end of the beginning.

Very good luck.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: How Can I Drama-Proof My Relationship?

Hello Dr. NerdLove,

Your pillar here and on Kotaku have helped me a great deal before and I’m currently in a situation where my friends are giving contradictory advice and I felt like that was the ideal place to turn for clarity.

There is some context before I (she/her) enter this specific situation: I am currently a graduate student in a program with a fairly small class size and that’s led to a somewhat poisonous atmosphere where gossip reigns supreme. I have managed to stay fairly under the radar with a reasonable quantity of work, maintaining my private life totally personal, distracting questions, and making it clear I do not tolerate BS in regards to work. The worst my relationships with classmates gets is that the degree of remote but cordial coworkers.

I became close with just a few classmates and realized a couple of months ago that I have feelings for one of these. I was planning on talking to him about it and seeing if there was any chance he would be interested, but lately things have happened that have made me wonder how well I know him. He and I are friends, but we have known each other for less than a year and lately he pulled some shit that prompted plenty of class gossip. Some have fairly obvious, deliberate lies, some fairly obviously directed at his buddies to find out what our response would be.

A couple people were hurt by what happened, but we have talked to him about it. It was a very honest conversation and we are all still close. I thought I’d worked through it because the hurt was accidental and what happened was a group of mishaps and honest stupidity. The entire story wasn’t even that bad it was only a collection of stupid decisions in the worst possible circumstances.When we spoke, he also seemed to understand that a whole lot of his activities came out of the very typical man thing where he did not unpack plenty of his justification before just diving into things. He appeared to be serious about trying to be better and also to thank before he acts. However, I am hearing different accounts about what happened from various people, and a few friends who do not understand everything have fairly negative opinions about him today.

My question is this: if I still have that conversation about relationship with him? I have kind of powerful feelings for him, and I do trust he explained the truth about what occurred. I really don’t want to get sucked into this bizarre middle school drama my app has going. Is it selfish to be concerned about my reputation? I actually just want clarity but is that worth all of the possible hassle?

Before I get to your particular question, RA, let us work backwards. Yes, it is totally reasonable not to want a relationship due to the drama-bomb it may set off on your life. It might be that they’re in the center of a controversial and bitter divorce. They could have a profession that puts them under the microscope, along with your relationship them may invite people to pry into your life also. Or they are someone who lives their life by the”hold my beer” doctrine and does not give a second’s thought to the possible consequences of their actions… especially if those are impacts which other individuals have to manage.

However, by the same token, I have seen plenty of awesome individuals who have been fucked over by circumstances out their control. They’d orbiters and stalkers who strove to make life miserable for anybody who’d date them. A whole lot of times, the objective of these movements is not simply to fuck over someone for the LOLs but to completely isolate them from anything resembling a service community — from friends to lovers to co-workers to companies.

I’m not gont lie: it takes a special sort of person who’s willing to stand together with the target of that type of potential shitstorm, and those people can be tough to discover.

So in the abstract: {} understandable that you may decide to not date someone due to the possible drama. However, by that same token, you are allowed not to date someone for any reason you decide on, in the drama llama in their own lives to how their nose whistles when they breathe. Folks get to choose what their private deal-breakers are, however absurd it might seem to an outside party.

Now with all that said, let’s discuss your situation, RA. You have a couple things that you would like to take into account before you dive into this specific relationship.

The first is straightforward: how much can you trust this man versus the men and women who have first-hand details? However, by the same token… sometimes that gossip is not malicious, it is defense. There’re tons of spaces where data is distributed by whisper networks since the culture supports and defends the poor actors over their victims. Even the famed Shitty Media Men record was shared as a means to let girls know who to be watching for, not to slander innocent guys because FUCK YOU PENIS, THAT’S WHY.

So you are gonna need to make a gut-check about if this man is being straight with you — both about what happened and how he is trying to do better.

The next question is: how much does this gossip really influence your life? It is one thing if you are handling high-school bullshit — snickers from the halls, whispers and dirty looks and absurd rumors. It is another if these are behaviours that may actually affect your life — both in the here and now and when you complete the program. Are these individuals who’ll attempt to isolate you from friends and family by making linking with you poisonous to their social wellbeing?

When it’s just annoying high-school mean-girl shit: are you ready to dismiss it or grit your teeth and power through it till you complete your graduate program? If it’s the latter… well, frankly, if things are that bad, I would be more concerned about getting the fuck out of the program over relationship someone.

But the last question you need to ask is the most important: is this man worth the possible headaches? This is not an idle question; any relationship will come with its own particular challenges and it’s own slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Some of us are completely worth it; they are reasonable people in unreasonable scenarios, and a connection with them will be enriching and amazing that it is worth the fight. Others are not; they might be a dirty great time, but the possible drawbacks outweigh what they bring to the table. After all — as Alanna Massey famously put it — dick is abundant and of low value. Everyone has their flaws, so concentrate on the great and what attracts you to him. If he’s a fantastic man who perhaps needed to learn how to think before he acts and reveals he’s really willing to meet his potential, then it could well be worth the possible gossip and drama. If this is a man who is a fantastic time but not always a love for the ages… well, there are other Slab Squatthrust’s out there who do not include a side-order of dull social politicking.

Very good luck.

I am a woman in a long-term relationship with a guy. We do not have too many problems in our relationship and those we do have we have talked about and are actively addressing. There’s 1 thing though, that is sort of come up as an issue that we have talked about but do not really know how to fix: stickin’ it in my bum.

He has never done anal and wants to try, I have tried it and love it with a considerate partner (which he is). However, the couple of times we have worked our way up to it, his body hasn’t actually cooperated. He is hard while he lubes up me and I am playing with his penis, but he goes soft when he attempts to put it in. I guess he’s psyching out himself — he puts a whole lot of focus on how he sees this as a sort of gift that I am honoring him (I really don’t see it that way, but I never saw any harm in that belief until today ), and I wonder whether he is dealing with performance anxiety. We have talked about it and he sets down it to lack of stimulation whilst managing the logistics of speed and positioning, but admits he might also be placing too much burden on the act to have the ability to perform.

We have set an unspoken grip on things for now — I guess if he keeps trying and failing it is going to turn into a Big Thing in his mind and it’ll get worse. We’ve got a perfectly satisfying sex life without it, but I know he still wants to try (and I am kinda excited about being his first in this specific arena).

Do you have any ideas about getting over the cock-softening mental block? I am more than delighted to keep him physically aroused during prep, but I would love some suggestions about the best way best to maintain his heads in the game also.

Thanks!

I guess part of the problem your boyfriend is having is that he sees anal as this large undertaking — the type of thing that is generally reserved for porn rather than something that girlfriends do. The fact he’s treating this as a”present” you are giving him, instead of a new and distinct sexual activity that you like, leads me to think he thinks you are not into this. If he is holding on to this idea that you are doing things under some type of duress, or that you are only doing this for him, then I am not surprised he is deflating a bit. It is sweet — he does not need to do something he believes you don’t want — but it is going to be a continuing problem if he can not bring himself to take”YES YES YES” for a response.

Now there’re various alternatives for the physical side of this equation. The two of you can, by way of instance, head over to the local sex shop and find a cock ring. Lots of men and women use cockrings to keep their erections; the rings help limit the blood-flow within an erect penis so the blood can not leave the penile tissues and leave him at half-mast. This would help mitigate the dilemma of trying to maintain his hard-on through the prep and warm up.

However, I guess the better answer is to dial back on penetration for today and instead, work anal play in a routine sexual routine. When it’s the (gentle) use of hands, a butt-plug (be sure it has a flared base) or other forms of anal stimulation and play, the more he experiences you appreciating buttstuff, the less he will see it because this sacrifice you are making on his behalf. By demystifying it and taking it out of being this deep event and more just one more way the both of you please one another, he will have the ability to escape his mind and put his focus where it belongs: on both of you.

She and her partner Matt have quite a few great educational comics about anal sex and anal play, which might help him get over any hang-ups he is considering getting up in there.

Very good luck.

This post was formerly published on Doctornerdlove.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Ask Dr. NerdLove: How Can I Prevent an Awkward Blast From My Past?


Hi there Doc!

Primarily, I know this is not too serious or profound as most of your columns, but I need help!

Which is the crux of the issue.

{Before I met”Greg” (husband) I was super obese and in an abusive relationship, which I feel was based on my weight and {} fetish. |} Some of these were because he fetishized my burden, but frankly just tired of the psychological and sometimes physical abuse. Losing the weight made me feel as though I was in top of the world and I sort of spiraled. I worked in a bar at the time so opportunity was blessed and that I took it. I slept around and moved to a bit mad, frequently mixing social groups which caused a little tension between the people I was with and embarrassment on my part. Finally I met my now-husband for an unexpected place and I had been out of the game entirely…

Or so he believed.

For the first two years I craved attention. And it was not even that Greg did not give me that focus, he totally did. He made me feel like a queen and still does. I never grabbed the physical line while I was with Greg but I did cross some lines.

I flirted, I gave out my number to ghost the man on purpose, I sent boob photos merely to feel that”power” Chris sided with me following the abuse came out when nobody else did.

We started messing around when we worked together, and he saw what was happening with my abusive ex and actually helped me get out. He told me all the things I want to hear but I do believe he meant it. When I told him we needed to stop, it looked like it did… but that was exactly the identical time I met Greg.

The sexting, however, did not. They were explicit and that I wanted his attention. Well, Greg found the texts {} out. I wanted this to work out with Greg, so I made the decision to block Chris (and his close friends) on social networking and changed my phone number. We worked beyond the sexting and finally got married.

Liz is a close friend of Greg’s best friend, so I am worried that Chris will appear at events and get-togethers with her.

I feel like I will have the ability to act normally. I am really happy Chris has found a girl he is (possibly ) compatible with, and I am beyond that entire time in my entire life. I am nervous because Chris may not feel the exact same way and it appears to be just casual with Liz. I know he tried to locate me several times times after I blocked him/his buddies and changed my number, but that was four decades back. I am aware that if Greg ever saw Chris in person he would wind up in jail or we would be getting a divorce on anxiety alone.

How do I cope if everybody is in exactly the exact same place at precisely the exact same time?

-Possible Blast From Your Past

Alright there’re a few things to deal with here.

The first rule of dealing with an ex, PBFTP is easy: do not make assumptions without proof. At the moment, you are working under the assumption that Chris is a) still sleeping around and b) he has pantsfeels for you based on… well, the fact he attempted to get back in contact with you for a bit, article Nuclear Option. But that was four and years ago, and you have had no contact with him since. Hence the information you are working with is probably out of date.

As it has been so long without a contact, your mental image of him is essentially a frozen moment in time, a picture of that he was back then. But consider who you’re back then, vs. who you are now. You have grown and changed over the years; you are in a far different place than you were back when you knew him. There is no reason to think {} not just as capable of change as you are, particularly over the span of decades.

I mean sure, it is possible the dude is still carrying a torch (in his trousers ) for you and is dying for more sexts and filthy Snapchats from you… but it’s also just as possible he’s gotten over you.

In addition, it is just as possible he’s not the identical swinging single man about town he was four decades back. He might have toned things down and prefers to get a few dedicated friends with benefits. The matter is that you don’t understand. Getting worried about the chance he’s into you and may do things which could potentially make things awkward is simply borrowing trouble in the future, trouble that may well never happen. The further you get angsty over the chance — not the inevitability but the chance — of running into him at a social occasion and his making a spectacle, the emotional bandwidth you will need for actually enjoying life at the moment. In addition, that is likely to create tension between you and Greg that simply does not need to occur.

And frankly, you’ve already got a fairly good indicator of the likelihood of everyone being in exactly the exact same location. Liz is evidently a few spots removed from Greg’s social circle; she is literally”the friend of a friend”. So unless you have been seeing her regularly in get-togethers before now, I think you may safely assume that the odds of an awkward encounter are not so high that you will need to begin making contingency plans.

Then it is easy: be polite. You don’t have to be super enthused about visiting him, nor do you want to Solid Snake your way from this party in hopes that you could make it to the door without the host seeing you depart. You only have to wear a polite smile, say”wow, it’s been a while” and power during the initial awkward as you see exactly where things stand. If Chris has chilled out or given up on his hopes of getting back into your pants or your DMs, then hey there is nothing to worry about. If he has not, then you can be polite-but-distant and make the all-purpose exit of”hey, I must go talk to somebody over there.”

What I would not do is go somewhere out of the way or make plans to meet up… or perhaps necessarily unblock him on social networking. This does not sound like a friendship you are hoping to rekindle, and until you are more confident about exactly where everyone stands vis á vis the whole”yeah I was sexting you when I should not have been” issue, it is far better to play it safe and keep everything strictly aboveboard.

But then there is Greg. I’m not positive whether you’re being hyperbolic about Greg or when he is still holding onto that level of anger… but for fuck’s sake, it had been four decades back. I don’t deny that the dude his right to be hurt. He has certainly got a right to be cynical, not to trust him or to just plain not like the man. But if you are not exaggerating for effect and Greg is still nursing the sort of grudge that would result in violence or a blow-up with you that could end your marriage? Then Greg should be talking to a person about how to learn how to let go and let things heal.

If nothing else, he wants to trust you to not make a new error with a previous error.

TL;DR: do not assume that Chris is still going to attempt to knock you, or that you are even likely to encounter him. Should you see him be considerate, if he does hit on you, then be firmly distant and do not respond.

Very good luck.

Hey Doc,

I am looking into getting into online dating shortly.

I’ve bought your book on it and have begun reading it, but I have a couple questions on choosing photos for my relationship profile.

For the primary photo that individuals will see when first looking at my profile, you said no mirror selfies, but it’s okay to still only use a telephone? Or if I ask a friend that has a real camera shoot some photos?

Secondly, for the other pictures I need to be updating/rotating via semi-regularly of me doing hobbies and being busy, how many should I have? I am not one to take photographs, so the library of possible photographs I have is limited.

In addition lots of my hobbies do not lend themselves to many photogenic moments. My hobbies and activities include martial arts, doing improv, playing D&D, and dance. I don’t take photographs at martial arts since I am there to work out. And I don’t take photographs during D&D since I do not play it to post about it on Facebook or social websites, and it is not something I’d probably ever post photos of. Photos sometimes get taken of me when I am doing improv, so I really could use some out there (but they generally are not from great angles or have the best lighting for pictures). When I’m dancing it’s usually too dim in the area for any photos to flip out.

Have you got any suggestions for how to start getting more photographs for an online dating profile? Do I simply need to begin getting used to shooting more photos? Should I ask my friends to help me take some when I am doing these activities? I just have difficulty taking photos because I am generally focused on doing the action as opposed to attempting to catch it for memories or for social media.

-Pics or it Didn’t Happen

Funny thing about photographs, PoiDH: a whole slew of factors dictate how we appear in pictures. Photographs are a rendering of a 3D object in 2D space by means of a convex lens; this implies that distortion will occur. If you have ever opened the selfie-camera in your phone rather than the rear camera, then you understand precisely what I mean; what looks kinda horrible and warped. So, yeah, the sort of camera you use will make a difference. A DSLR or Micro 4/3rds camera with changeable lenses will give you slightly — but not unnoticable — gaps in relation to a point-and-shoot or a smartphone. It’s a lot easier to control for focal length, light and depth of field when you’re able to switch the lenses out.

But in this day and age, the majority of us are using our mobiles for 90 percent of our photo-taking. And honestly? So if all you have to work with is the iPhone, that is not a bad place to begin.

Now the amount of photos you need to have is a matter that is up for debate. You will need more than one and ideally at least 3 or 4 to provide a general idea of who you are and what your story is, and your best limit will be dictated by the relationship program; some limit you to a max of 6 to 8, while others will allow you to connect your Instagram accounts… potentially offering countless photographs for anybody who is interested enough to click through.

How many times you will want to update them will be a bit more variable. If you are doing some A/B testing to find out what works best for your profile, then you might choose to give it two to three weeks, to determine which get you the very best responses. If you’re pretty satisfied with your profile and the results you’re getting, then I would suggest maybe every few months or whenever you’ve undergone a significant change to your look. The advantage of rotating in new photographs and rotating out older ones is that it activates the algorithm on many dating programs; the programs prioritize active accounts and retaining the photographs fresh means that individuals are more inclined to see your profile.

You definitely need to keep your photographs present — over six months or so; there is nothing more annoying than going through and finding that someone’s photographs are no more representative because they were initially taken in 2016 or what-have-you.

In terms of getting more photos? The simplest thing is just to begin being The Photo Guy and getting pictures with friends and family. While ideally you need pics that show you to your very best advantage, do not underestimate the value of getting photographs that show you and your friends having fun. Some Tales from the Table photographs of you and your buds playing D&D can work… and if you do not feel this is something people’d discover appealing, I’d point to the sheer number of girls who LOVE D&D as a result of Crucial Role, The Adventure Zone and other popular campaigns on Twitch, YouTube and podcasts.

(Also: if you are good at dance or martial arts, for fuck’s sake get some images… or even better, video. Tinder and other apps allow you to upload animated gifs, and a gif of you burning up the dance floor will be similar to catnip to many, many girls.)

Another choice is to cover it. You will find photographers out there today who specialize in photographs for dating profiles — not only posed portraits but”candids” also; see what is available locally and when they have a portfolio you prefer, then it could well be worth the investment.

But here is the thing about getting more photographs: it will be good for you in general. Not for your dating profile or getting more enjoys on Facebook or Instagram but since they are mementos and memories, moments of your life frozen in time. Even if they are not great for getting you dates, they will be a superb reminder of the time in your life.

Trust me: there is nothing like having the ability to return and look over the great times from yesteryear.

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