I have quite a few male acquaintances, and a lucky few I even consider real friends. I get along with them well, we can spend time together separately or in groups, and our time together can often be engaging and enjoyable, at least from my perspective.
Also, I may not be a supermodel, or even a size 6, but I do think I’m at least attractive. I’m not grossly overweight and I make an effort with my appearance – exercise, makeup, dress, hair, good dental hygiene, etc. I’ve even been told I look hot/beautiful/nice.
Forget why I don’t have a boyfriend yet, why can’t I even get a date?
It must me be, right?
I asked JT if there was anything glaringly obvious in my appearance or my behavior that I was missing that would be a turn off, and he couldn’t really think of anything.
However, considering that he has only rarely seen me interact with other people, since it’s usually just us, and he doesn’t really know my other friends, though he has met some of them, I realized that, while a helpful source (e.g. my crooked nose isn’t to blame), he wasn’t able to speak for a larger population than himself.
So, I put my big girl pants on and asked another trusted male friend, Lorenzo, what he knew about why I wasn’t dating.
- He is a member of my faith, and has the same beliefs about marriage and its importance as I do.
- He actually dates.
- We have mutual friends, most of whom he has spent significant time with and discussed such topics.
- Our relationship has been clearly defined as platonic.
Using qualification number 3 as our starting point, I asked him, “What do you know about why I haven’t been asked out in the year I’ve been in this ward?” I made it clear I didn’t want details about who had said exactly what, just the things I should improve upon, as I’m the only one I can change.
I was afraid it was going to come out like this:
Fortunately, I really appreciated his answer.
“You can be intimidating.”
It makes a lot of sense. When you get to know me, you know I can be thoughtful, love engaging on a meaningful level with others, and will bend over backwards for the people I care about. However, upon first introduction, I can come across as a bit of a self-absorbed know-it-all.
“Yes,” said Lorenzo, “You’ve studied many things, and accomplished quite a lot, but you can present that in a way that makes you more approachable.”
When discussing the findings with my mother, she suggested that I could still admit to knowing something about a given topic, but not being a source of authority on it unless necessary.
What NOT to do-
Other Person: I’m studying Subject X.
Me: Oh I read about book about that as part of this non-fiction kick I’ve been on lately, with my friend Roxie. It’s amazing that Aspect Q and Aspect E are so alike! And then I realized how it affected my Thing and then everything just clicked.
Other Person: Um, yeah.
What TO do:
Other Person: I’m studying Subject X.
Me: Oh I read a book about that once. I really liked learning about Aspect Q especially. What do you like about it?
Other Person: Let me tell you!
Obviously, in that scenario Other Person will, hopefully, see that I’m more interested in them and their knowledge or experience than in my own, and that can’t be bad.
It’s much easier than my father’s suggestion, from a similar conversation we had long before I ever talked to Lorenzo.
“Well, maybe you don’t tell them you’re THE Person Who Does What You Do, just A Person Who Does a Broader Version of That.”
“It’s going to come out eventually. When I tell someone I’m A Person Who Does What I Do, they almost always say, ‘Oh cool, where?’ and I say, ‘The Whole Organization’, and they say, ‘Oh, like at This Department?’ and I say, ‘No, actually I work for That Department as The Person Who Does What I Do.“
It’s much easier to start with being THE instead of A, but it’s essentially the same idea that Mom and Lorenzo suggested – be personable and engaging, without coming across as a stuffy egghead. Yes, it may seem a little like a head game, which I’m very much opposed to as a general rule, but sending the right message about ourselves is important. We can’t use a Vulcan mind meld or Jedi “mind trick” to ensure we convey our message exactly as we intended.
I know exactly why I can come across as a know-it-all, which actually helps. I was taking 8th grade courses in 6th grade. I graduated from college early at 20, knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my career at 22, and started doing it. And I have read a lot about a lot. Jack of all trades, master of a few (literally, you can legitimately call me Master Jinxie). I’m the oldest child, and therefore destined to be a little bossy. I AM a well-educated, highly motivated woman, and have been for quite some time. Unfortunately, being that awesome at 22 (which is when I got the job I have now), you have to fight some age-ism and convince people that you really do know your stuff, despite your birthdate. Confident, disciplined, and self-motivated can easily be interpreted as arrogant, inflexible, and unapproachable, and I don’t want that.
Once, I had a roommate who was working on an engineering degree. We met a young man who essentially told her “Oh, I can do all that engineering stuff, but I don’t have a degree in it. I just read a few books. I could probably get an engineering job easy.”
We were appalled at his arrogance. I don’t want to be that guy.
So, I’m working on it. It hasn’t translated into anything tangible (like a date), yet, but it can’t be hurting my chances.
And, as Lorenzo reminded me as well, it never hurts to smile.