I’m a 21-year-old, straight male and lately every time I see a woman I'm remotely attracted to, I just feel sad. My last breakup was really bad and it took me a while to even think about dating. I really want to be in a serious relationship, but nothing has worked out (going to bars, dating sites, school, etc.). I've met a lot of really great women I’d love to date, but they never feel the same way or they barely notice me at all. Part of me feels like a creep or objectively unattractive, but my friends disagree, and a large portion of these women actively pursue a friendship with me after rejecting me, which is fine. Although, at this point I’m just trying not to try, but really I’m depressed about not having a girlfriend. I’m not sure if it's healthy to continue pursuing a relationship or not since both options seem to just make me sad. Plus, if I was to keep trying I’m sure I’d need to improve my self-esteem. Do you have any idea how to do that?--Depressed Monkey Child
Aw, Sugar Shoes! You are not a monkey (although genetically we do share 98 percent of our DNA with chimps, but that’s not an insult, just a fact!). However, you do indeed sound depressed. And you also appear to be selling yourself short, especially with descriptors like “creep” and “objectively unattractive,” which I should remind you is a thing that doesn’t exist! Attraction is subjective, like good taste in music or whether croutons counts as “dinner.”
That said, the problem isn’t you, it’s how you view yourself. Before you can go out and sex-up and romance all the ladies, you need to romance yourself first, build yourself back up from your bad breakup and your less-than-stellar self-image. How do you do that? That’s the challenging part. You would probably benefit from a therapist, especially since you mentioned depression more than once in your letter. You might also benefit from a new hobby -- something that makes you feel badass and confident -- tai chi, brewing your own small batch kombucha, learning Metallica songs on the ukulele, etc. Throwing your time and energy into something new and self-improvey is not only cathartic and potentially babe-getting (research shows that 100 percent of girls with bangs and glasses cannot resist a ukulele player), but it helps to distract you for a little while and gives you a sense of purpose.
Getting a girlfriend is great and all, but it’s not going to cure you of all the Sad Feels you’re experiencing. We can’t rely on others to help us fix our lives. Only we can do it, which is both sad and great news. Sad because life is hard and there are like a hundred thousand jewelry and yogurt and Coors Light commercials telling us how much happier we’d be if only we had a coven of girlfriends who wear tiny bikinis in sub-zero temperatures. But it’s great because self-reliance is a useful skill not just for our love lives but for our life lives too. The “secret” to meeting women is no secret at all. Project that you are worthy of someone’s attention and you will be. But first you have to believe it yourself. This might require some faking at first (or a lot of faking), but eventually you’ll get there. Fake it until you become it, as Amy Cuddy says in this awesome TED talk. Hear me, DMC? You are worthy of people’s attention and affection. Now don’t come back until you yourself are convinced. I’ll be waiting with a tiny guitar and a whole lotta faith.
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