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How do you find appropriate partners to date when you're just not that attractive?


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Hi Grant-

I will assume that you really did want an answer to this question, so I will throw it out there. First and foremost, I would think about trying to expand your definition of "attractive". There are all sorts of attractiveness, and despite media messages to the contrary, you don't need to be super skinny and beautiful to meet those other criteria for attractive.

So, how do you meet people?

1) Join some groups that do activities that you enjoy. Some examples: dinner groups, book clubs, religious/spiritual groups, hobby groups (knitting, exercise groups, etc.), volunteer groups (Habitat for Humanity, etc). If you join a group, then you already have at least one thing in common and one thing you can talk about with someone.

2) Try an online dating/meeting site. Make sure to use a reputable site, and use common sense about what you post.

3) Many bigger cities have speed dating situations. They aren't always called that, but the basic idea is that you pay a fee and go to a restaurant, bar, etc. and in an organized way, meet a large group of people for a very short period of time (you usually chat with people for 2 to 3 minutes). People who are interested in getting to know each other better can then schedule additional meetings (coffee, dinner, etc.) after the evening is over.

4) Ask friends, family members to introduce you to people. Obviously, this can be a bit tricky if someone introduces you to someone and then you don't

"click". However, this can also be a great source of new relationships.

Anyone else have some ideas?

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Well I have to respectfully disagree with the assessment that you don't have to be super skinny. I think it's certainly easier to find partners if you are more conventionally attractive, and since I'm not, I'm not interested in tips that people who are conventionally attractive would try. I have tried book clubs, and hobby groups and classes and they were filled with lots of other women who had also been given these tips, and VERY few men.

Thanks for you tips though. I will give the online thing a try.

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I agree those are good tips! When I tried taking classes and engaging in my hobbies most of the spaces were populated with women who were also seeking mates and a few really nice gay men (whom befriended me, which is fabulous, but ultimately not helpful for finding an appropriate partner).

And while it's true I do not wish have a partner interested for superficial reasons, it's a little unrealistic to pretend that physical attractiveness isn't a factor in how how people choose mates.

I guess I was just wondering how people who aren't going to win any beauty contests go about finding mates. I don't have my experience (or any actually) with dating and while I'm certainly open to trying new things, I guess at this point I've become incredibly frustrated with responses from people who act as though it's really quite simple. It's really difficult and frustrating without asthetic advantage.

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Hi Grant-

I certainly didn't mean to suggest that appearance doesn't matter at all. Particularly when we are barraged by pictures of perfect looking people (who are often airbrushed and photoshopped in major ways) in the media, it certainly is something that affects society, so that is definitely a naive statement.

However, if only physically attractive people developed relationships and became committed to each other (lived with each other, married, etc.), then there would only be a very small group of people in relationships. If you think about it, only a very small subset of people meet the "standard" definition of skinny and beautiful.

So, what I meant to suggest was that you need to move beyond a common style of thinking that is negative and sabotaging, that goes something like this: "I am not attractive enough to get a date, etc., so I shouldn't even try" In expanding your definition of attractiveness (e.g., thinking something like, "I may not be skinny, but I am a great listener, am very funny, and have a great smile... or whatever positive qualities that you possess that would be attractive to another person" can help when comes to "putting yourself out there."

The other suggestion I could throw out (a bit more indirect, but still important) is to consider having a conversation with someone you trust about your social skills. Are you someone who looks people in the eye, smiles, and encourages social interaction? Or, do you have trouble starting up a conversation, maintaining eye contact, etc.? If you do not have good social skills, then you won't attract (and may even scare away) potential partners that you run across.

May I ask your age range? Sometimes it is easier to give more specific suggestions about how to meet others when we know your age.

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Hey people :rolleyes:

I certainly have a degree of empathy with Grant. Speaking as someone who feels he has 'unpopular aesthetics'. So strongly in fact that he has become a recluse for his entire adult life and a good portion of his adolescence.

Oh man, I'm speaking about myself in the third person :eek:

I think that having unpopular aesthetics can make it 'less probable' that I will find a sexual partener easily, I like to think that if I made sufficient effort (which I don't) to find someone that I would ... eventually. Although I would have to tolerate a lot of rejection. But then, rejection is a normal part of life for 99.99999% of triers, non-triers have a 0% rejection rate.

Online dating is good because you can put your picture up and get rejected without you even knowing about it. Eventually you WILL get some interest, even if you have two heads and a snakes tongue you will because peoples tastes are extremely varied. There is someone out there who will look at you and feel horny, trust me.

Hmm, Grant what do you mean by appropriate parteners ?

Edited by xaq75
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I'm 35, and often are told I don't "look" 35. I think that just means I don't have wrinkles or sun damaged skin, which is true, I'm darker complected so I haven't aged much at all. I'm a grant writer which I can do from home and a sexual health educator (specifically HIV/STI outreach at clubs, bars, reststops and other location of high risk sexual activity) so I spend a lot of time around people and get a LOT of feedback from others about how I present myself. Mostly positive. I have a great smile, raspy, but not off putting voice and people often remark I have really beautiful eyes (which I don't know, that's what people to say to fat women, so that's to be taken with a grain of salt). I also am really good with eye contact and I understand how important that is. Believe me, I've read all the books regarding eye contact and the magical powers it holds. Look forward to hearing any tips.

And by appropriate partners I mean someone who shares my interests. Not creepy and significantly older men who approach me in grocery stores and then seem offended when I scoot away from them because they make me uncomfortable. Specifically when they seem especially interested in how YOUNG I appear and the size of my breasts. It's very creepy. They never seem to be well educated or possess any social graces and I'm sorry, but I do not think for one second I'm putting that kind of vibe in the universe to deserve that kind of response.

I have great relationships with my friends and family and this is a struggle because of my fluctuating mental health, but I do work at being a great daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, being thoughtful, considerate and loving.

So I'm not about to entertain the "there's something wrong with how you're presenting yourself" trope.

That said, I did put up an online profile, mostly to observe. I selected a realistic, but playful picture (not sexual or provocative) and so far it's been mostly the same kind of men who approach me in grocery stores who have been viewing my profile and messaging me. Most are divorced, have kids, cannot spell and after reviewing their profiles seem to share none of my interests. I like reading, browsing book stores and writing. I do not like to hunt, fish or be outdoors. I realize I sound kind of snarky, but it's really frustrating.

Edited by Grant
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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Grant,

I am intriqued that you interpret people telling you that you have beautiful eyes as implying that they think you are fat. The reason I am intrigued is that I have two daughters, your age (twins), and each very thin. They have beautiful eyes and are told so and that has nothing to do with being "fat" because they are not, not in any way. I have no way of knowing the intent of people who make this comment to you (about your eyes) but, is it possible that you are telling yourself to dismiss something that could very well be a compliment?

Also, Grant, are you certain that all of the men who contact or speak to you are just illiterate boors?? The reason I ask is that, after more years of private practice than I like to admit to :), I can tell you that I have seen many men and women who avoid dating contacts by constantly find things wrong with anyone interested in them.

Please do not misinterpret what I am suggesting. I agree, anyone you just meet and who makes comments about your breasts, is, in my opinion, a jerk. I am not referring to that. I am referring to dismissing people who state that they are interested in the outdoors or who may be "blue collar" or who do not spell so good. Are you really certain none of those could be good candidates?

Please let me know what you think??


Edited by ASchwartz
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Not sure I have a fully formed thought here, but I have a few half formed ones so maybe together they will be helpful? :)

I note that the majority of relationships occur due to proximity. Meaning - you become friendly with people you see on a regular basis. This is why people recommend taking classes and joining clubs or going to church to meet people. Not sure where to suggest you go - but if you stay home, your chances of meeting someone will be lower than if you go out.

There really are a wide range of body types that men will find attractive. Some men, perhaps the majority, are just going to be conditioned to go with what is projected for them to like (e.g., models), but you don't have to look far into the various categories of pornography that have been developed to see that some men are into a variety of body types and shapes and sizes and ages. So - honestly - there are men out there who will find you attractive enough to want to sleep with you. This is not the same thing as wanting to be in a relationship with you, I well know, but it is something you are complaining about and I want to point out some actual data (!) to suggest that it isn't necessarily the case the way you think it is.

It is my impression that with men (and women) there is an ideal of what they'd like to get, and then there is what they will accept and be willing to grow to love. It's easy to "buy" the cover girl becuase it is what everyone else wants to buy, so there is no possibility of feeling shame or wondering if someone else thinks you're a loser becuase you're with an undesirable girl. But men are willing to buy into a relationship with a woman who is not a cover girl so long as there are other things about her that they like or which fulfill needs, and so long as the woman passes some basic "good enough" factor on the looks scale (which varies with each man). Each guy is going to want something a little different, but generally the attractive qualities will include some degree of nurturing quality. Men like to be nurtured becuase they can't give it to each other as it is too "gay" to express nurturance between men. Silly, but them's the rules.

I'm also thinking that you should not write a guy off simply becuase he can't spell or doesn't present himself so well initially. Why not invest in a few dates (safely conducted) and see if there is anything that can happen? What on earth do you have to lose? I have found in my own life that though I started out with a particular "type" that I had in mind, I have not ended up with a woman who fit that type, and this is precisely becuase I did not limit my dating to only women who fit my type. I dated women who would date me, and doing this helped me figure out what was really important to me and what was less so. And this strategy worked out well for me for what that is worth.

Finally, there are worse things in life than living alone. Being treated badly by others is one of them. Keep that in mind as you go forward, so that you don't get stuck in something that turns out to be abusive.

Edited by Mark
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I was just thinking that it's a good thing you dated women who would date you because otherwise it would be known as "stalking!"

That's a good joke, CatMom!

What I meant there was that there was a time in my life where I spent time mooning over women who were not interested in dating me, and that didn't get anywhere. It's important to be able to detach your affection from those partners who don't reciprocate, is what I'm saying. Not everyone is good at that important skill, but you do improve with practice.

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  • 4 weeks later...
I'm also thinking that you should not write a guy off simply becuase he can't spell or doesn't present himself so well initially. Why not invest in a few dates (safely conducted) and see if there is anything that can happen? What on earth do you have to lose? I have found in my own life that though I started out with a particular "type" that I had in mind, I have not ended up with a woman who fit that type, and this is precisely becuase I did not limit my dating to only women who fit my type. I dated women who would date me, and doing this helped me figure out what was really important to me and what was less so. And this strategy worked out well for me for what that is worth.

Yeah, nope. That's my only deal breaker; must be literate. I will not bend on that. They can be short, fat, bald/balding, any race, any creed, differently abled, transgendered, but they absolutely MUST have an education. I have an education and I think it's fine that I expect the same of a partner. It's not as though my desired traits in a partner are ones I don't have myself. I thought one should seek out people who shared their values about life. I don't like the outdoors and so a person who did wouldn't share my values or be someone I wished to date. Why is it only really attractive people who get to decide what's works for them? But the less attractive are either covertly or overtly told basically to suck it up and be open to crap they do not want? Seems a little double standardy to me.

I decided to work on losing the last 40 lbs (I've already lost 100, though it didn't make me "thin" just not-as-fat) which will put me in a better position in terms of dating. At this point all I can do is focus on changing myself.

Edited by Grant
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