Lack of interest/competiton

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Lack of interest/competiton

Post by DazedAndConfused on Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:41 am

Hello people of the forum.

This is the text of a mail I was planning to send to Dr. NerdLove, until I realized that he's handling a huge deal of emails and I can't wait too long for a reply. Also it's a pretty long email which would eat the entire page.

Warning: this isn't a nice mail. Actually it's a whiny rant. You might roll your eyes in frustration, hit the wall with your heads, or wish to slap me in the face at times. Hell I want to do that from time to time. Still, it's an issue that I can't discuss with anyone in my life (I hate whining and complaining, people hate that), and this is a place where people come to discuss their issues, so I might as well post it:

"Dear Doctor NerdLove,

This is a rant,and probably a whiny one at that. I realize that you've probably gotten this kind of email many times. I realize that my attitude isn't probably the healthiest one to have. But hey, you're probably gotten used to whiny rants by now, so I think you can handle this. Feel free to facepalm if you think I'm just not getting something really easy (which is probably true). Feel free to use this mail as an example of entitlement, or of bad attitude, or whatever my problem is. You're probably right.

Anyway, here's the issue: I've never been very good at dating (wow, how original!). I have only asked out a handful of women in my life (literally 5 or 6 before this year), I've only been to a couple of first dates, and only had one (short) sexual relationship. Part of it is due to titanic levels of approach anxiety: for a long time I've been convinced that I was too ugly/socially awkward for women to be sexually attracted to. Part of it is due to ...lack of interest? (Is that a thing?) I'm not incredibly interested in trying to pursue no-string attached sex (although I wouldn't say no if it happened) and I've only fallen in love once, in high school, for someone who didn't like me.

Recently, though, I've been struggling to improve my dating life. I've actually started flirting and I've been to a couple more first dates (which didn't lead to anything, sadly). I no longer think I'm too ugly or awkward to date, mostly because I've improved my looks and my social skills enormously (I'm the first to be surprised by the transformation).

The main problem is that the lack of interest remains. If I'm not getting the right "vibe" of mutual interest from the woman I'm flirting with I usually don't bother pressing on. Mostly because I want some kind of spark, of connection, and if I'm not feeling it then the whole exercise is just going through the motions and wasting my and her time. If I don't like them in that way, or they don't like me in that way, what's the point in trying to build something that doesn't exist, or in making a fool of myself by going after someone who's clearly not interested?

Better to move on and wait for someone I can connect with.

When I'm not very interested in someone (which is to say, pretty often) the only driving force that pushes me to date is competition. I have a pretty fragile ego and when friends and acquaintances ask me if I'm going out with someone, or joke about my non-existing dating life, I feel compelled to go out and prove them wrong. Not so much because I'm interested in dating, but because I'm interested in showing them that I'm not the pathetic, hollow lonely shell of a person that they think I am.

Recently this has gotten worse because of my roommate. He's very successful at dating, loves to rub it me in my face (he shows me the pictures of the girls he's going out with and asking me how hot do I think they are) and has made it a routine to make jokes about my lack of success or interest.

He's also the kind of person that makes me scratch my head for his success in dating: he's not very physically attractive, he's a slob, rude, frequently belches and farts in public, and an "ironic misogynist" to boot. He's very confident, though, which probably explain his success. I actually thought he was lying about his dates before I met them in person. So, as you can probably guess, the competition mode of my brain kicked in. "You can't be worse than him" my brain says "You should show him that you can play the dating game, too"

I've started to go around and flirt with women I'm not interested in just to show him that I'm not the loser he thinks I am. Yeah, I know, this was a bad idea. Mainly because it's shitty reason to approach people because it uses them as objects to show my success, but also because it makes me feel bored, frustrated by the lack of connection.

So...how do I get over my competitive side? How do I tell to myself that I don't care about the perplexing success of my roommate, and that I don't need to prove anything to him or to myself?

Dazed and Confused"

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Re: Lack of interest/competiton

Post by eselle28 on Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:53 am

I'm assuming this is a roommate you were assigned or picked mostly for financial reasons rather than one you chose to live with. He sounds like a real charmer. I think part of the solution here is to disengage as much as you can from his talk about his personal life. Mockery might work ("I'm flattered you value my approval that much, but can't you figure out if your girlfriend is hot on your own?") and so might indifference ("Uh, I guess she's okay"). I would also suggest avoiding hanging out with him in public and making a private rule not to tell him anything at all about your personal life, good or bad. He might think you're a loser, but I think that this is the kind of person who you're unlikely to be able to impress period.

As for the sparks thing, I think you might benefit from thinking about a first date as an opportunity to get to know someone and see if there are sparks, rather than something that happens after you've already decided there are some. I wouldn't give this advice universally, but it sounds like you may not have dated enough to have a good idea whether you click with someone romantically right away or whether your interest tends to develop more slowly. Also, even if you are one of those people who can feel chemistry right away, the women you're talking to might be a little shy or not on top of their flirting game at the time you approach. I think you could benefit from gathering a little data about this. It might turn out that you're someone who really is only compatible with a small number of others or who just doesn't have a high level of interest in dating, and then I think there's not much to be done besides cultivating patience and seeking out environments where you're likely to be respected as a single person rather than pushed to date.
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Re: Lack of interest/competiton

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:03 am

"Dear Dazed and Confused,

Don't punish yourself for your frustration. As far as I can judge, you haven't acted this out on anyone. Allow yourself to feel that emotion without flagellating yourself for having it, and then let it go. Consider talking with a therapist if it persists, or get a DBT worksheet so you can combat it in a more structural manner by yourself.

It's good to see that you're improving yourself, and there is nothing wrong with casual flirting. Would you be angry at a lady for leading you on is she casually flirts with you? No? Precisely. The bad notion is that you're forcing yourself to do something you're not enjoying. Not everyone meets their partner through cold-approaching (really, most couples meet through friends and other connections). Dates are another story. If you're looking very hard with an outcome-dependent mindset, you're going to be enjoying them less.

This is not to go into a zen nonsense mindset of "love will come if you stop looking for it", but more into enjoying the moment. You've gotten a date, you're meeting a new person, you can do something fun together. Set up dates that you'd enjoy if you went solo on it. If you don't feel a spark in the initial interaction, don't bother setting something up.

It can be easily connected to the competitive side. Why are you dating on the terms of your social environment, and why aren't you feeling a connection? Are you going for ladies who you think you should go for based on their criteria? Write down a list of traits you would need to feel a connection, and you can have a handy-dandy guide to narrow down your search. This is a check to see whether or not you're picky (there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you accept that it makes it so you have to look harder and wait longer), and also your shield against any shit the people around you give you. This is what you're looking for, and if you remain dateless for periods of time because you haven't found it yet, so be it. You can say you already tried dating for its own sake and it wasn't for you.

Treat your roomie as an exercise in communicating clearly what you desire. You want him to stop teasing you with unoriginal crap, you want him to stop asking you to rate what he dates, and you're not going to accept shallow justifications for his behaviour towards you. Use this same mindset towards your dates, be upfront about what you're looking for. The only thing you need to prove to yourself is that you won't let others dictate your desires.

As always, if you need to craft an arc of improvement in the meantime, consider posting in these threads:
http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t44-the-same-old-stories-dating-profile-message-advice
http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t130-rate-my-style-redux
A bit of spit and polish can never go wrong.

Hope this helps! Also, buy my e-book!

Signed,
Haggis McMalley"

(sorry for that last one, the letter format made me do it)

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Pompeii, VIII.2 (in the basilica); 1904: "O walls, you have held up so much tedious graffiti that I am amazed that you have not already collapsed in ruin."
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Re: Lack of interest/competiton

Post by kath on Thu Feb 25, 2016 1:42 am

The ideas above are great!

Just have one other thought:

Are you a competitive person who needs to be great at ALL THE THINGS, or are you one of the people who kind of picks an area of focus for competition and is pretty good to go with winning at that?

If you think you can be OK with the later, I would make a conscious decision to focus your competition on [Productive Area X] (whether it's a hobby you're into, academics, physical feats, whatever) and choose not to compete on the dating front. So that would mean changing your self-talk around dating to de-emphasize it as an area you are interested in competing about, refusing to engage in conversations where you or others are showing off about dating, and re-wiring thought habits in which you compare your dating life to other people's. Engage in those things on the Productive Area X you've chosen, but not with regards to dating.

That might help take some of the pressure off and free some of the emotional effort around dating for figuring out what works best for you in terms of finding / generating sparks, etc.
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