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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