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Published: Sunday August 10, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday August 11, 2014 MYT 5:34:34 PM

Dear Thelma: Why can’t I get a girlfriend?

Dear Thelma,

I’m a 26-year-old guy who is getting increasingly concerned about my lack of a girlfriend. At 25, there seemed to be plenty of time to look for a partner, but what’s worrying me now is my previous unsuccessful “attempts”.

Over the past few years, I have met a few girls whom I found suitable, but I always arrive at the same scenario which ends in disappointment for me. What happens is that I would chat with them online, ask them out for coffee and/or a movie. It usually starts well, but after two or three outings, they turn cold and become less responsive, and sometimes even totally ignore me.

The same scenario has happened three times and I can’t figure out what went wrong. Some of my friends find it hard to believe that I’m still single. I wish I knew what my problem was. Please help.

Something wrong

Thelma's reply:

Indeed, there is a lot of pressure for someone your age to be in a relationship. It is highly likely that it is this pressure that is sabotaging your efforts. This happens to many people. They feel like they need to settle down, and every person they meet or date is seen as a potential partner.

What happens is that they stifle the other person with their neediness and, for the lack of a better word, desperation, thus pushing them away. That’s how a potential relationship is killed.

It is difficult to explain, but there is a way of reading a person’s body language and the kind of things they say, including other factors that are interpreted as “desperate”. This is not to say that you are. It could just be that you may be giving out that message. You could be carrying with you the anxiety of not being attached.

However, in this day and age, having a failed-to-launch relationship with three women over the last few years isn’t really cause for concern. Some people date tonnes of women before a “relationship” gets anywhere.

Perhaps, you are going out with the wrong type of women. What are your criteria for asking them out? Is it only those who reply your messages online? Or that you share common interests? Or, is it because she looks a certain way?

It is important to know what you are looking for. Common interests are usually a safe bet. You will have lots to talk about and opportunities to try different activities together. A sense of humour can never go wrong as long as you are both on the same page.

Once you have determined these factors, then it may be a good time to suggest meeting up in person. Remember that you are just meeting to get to know each other. Take it easy and go at a pace that is comfortable for you. The next thing is to be up to date with dating etiquette. This has little to do with who makes the first move, or who pays the bill, or even how many days you have to wait before asking someone for a subsequent date. It is about communicating effectively – verbally and non-verbally. Tales about ex-girlfriends, failed relationships or girls losing interest after the third date are strictly no-no. This doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it. Just wait until you have gotten to know each other better.

While you want to convey that you are an intelligent, capable and successful person, be wary that you don’t come across as bragging. Talk about what you do and hint – in broad terms – your plans for you future. Mention that you would like to have a family (some day); but don’t go so far as to start saying “we” when talking about your plans. Keep things light.

Be sure to also listen to what she says. Reciprocate and respond. Express interest in what she is telling you. Make sure to have eye contact, but don’t stare. Lean forward – but not too close – when she is talking. That expresses that you are listening to her. Avoid responding to tweets, messages or whatever else that may appear on your mobile device. If you have to attend to something urgent, excuse yourself, and be sure to respond to what is necessary and return your attention to her as soon as you are done.

The art of flirting could probably also be worth paying attention to. Don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten path when thinking of ideas for dates. You are not limited to the dinner and movie combo, or even the hanging out at the mall or shopping options. Go for a trek at a nearby forest reserve. Or, take her for a drive and picnic on the beach. These things will take a bit of planning, but the effort you put in will convey that you care enough to do so. But, do resist the urge to remind her over and over again how much effort it required!

There are actually plenty of websites available that will provide more pointers and guides. You could invest some time in research before venturing out. Don’t be afraid to ask women out on friendly dates. Just remember to be very clear that your intentions are purely platonic.

Finally, it is about increasing the likelihood of meeting women who might potentially like you. If it’s online, give some thought to compiling a profile that is likely to attract the kind of women you want. The profile should also give sufficient information on yourself and what you are looking for. Don’t lie though as this will always eventually be found out. There are even some videos online that provide useful information on how to create a profile that will increase the likelihood of getting the interest of the “right” person.

If you feel courageous enough, you could catch up with the women you went out with before and casually ask them what went wrong. They may provide some valuable feedback and let you know what you need to work on. But, be prepared to listen to some honest feedback.

Meeting someone ideal takes time. There’s no need to feel pressured by factors like age, or comments by others. If you haven’t met someone, it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Just take it easy and bear in mind not to hurt other people in the process.

Tags / Keywords: Thelma, girlfriend, boyfriend, pressure

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