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26 year old single male & would like advice to improve myself

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  • #413838
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi there,

    Firstly, I have never done this sort of thing before so bare with my post & any comments would be appreciated!

    I’m Daniel, 26 years old and have always been single despite my best efforts particularly over the last few years to find a partner to share my life with. I work as a civil engineer & have a stable career, family life, small but close network of friends & to be honest I would say I am very thankful for the position I am in at a personal level thanks to the support/upbringing of my family & friends so I even feel uncomfortable asking for advice as I am well aware there are far more people worse off than myself.

    I have suffered from anxiety/low self esteem throughout my life but particularly in my early adult life & I don’t believe I fully realised the extent of it until a few years ago & the impact it was having on me so I have put in tireless work to improve myself and am not afraid of looking myself in the mirror & see what I can do better.

    For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to find a girl that can be a life partner and my goals in life are very much focused around building a family & working to set my family up & enjoying my life with them as I value relationships with people.

    I have been putting myself out there continually through dating apps, being set up you name it & I always run into the same issues that has beaten me down to a point where I am almost starting to accept things like I may not have what it takes to find the right girl that thinks I am worth the effort long term.

    Everyone around me always says I am such a great catch & all everything going for me & that those that don’t want me are missing out but it’s starting to concern me as I keep seeming to run into the same sort of scenario where a girl will date me and then say “you’re such a great guy but my feelings haven’t progressed”. I smart enough to know you cannot force feelings & each time it happens I am always mature/respectful of the girls feelings & to be honest I have never left anything on bad terms.

    I would say with me is what you see is what you get, I’m down to earth like to laugh and have a joke, family oriented, loyal to this I care about, probably more on the introverted side initially (but not shy, I think in big groups I can be but in general I am fine) and then as I become more comfortable I show more and more sides of myself. I have been raised to be a gentleman and generally just a nice person but I am not that stigmatised “nice guy” that I see around social media etc.

    I guess I feel a bit like giving up on it all after my latest experience, which was yet another disappointment as I really am not sure if it’s just whilst I have a lot going for me am I not capable of sparking feelings within someone even if I supposedly tick a lot of their boxes etc.

    For example, I had been dating someone for a bit recently and to be honest it was going great like each date it had progressed and the interest seemed strong both ways. She had even said so herself, she was affectionate around me etc etc and then out of nowhere she did a complete 360 and said her feelings hadn’t progressed, now after hearing this for probably the 1000th time of my dating life it’s hard to swallow especially when to be honest I have never connected with a girl like this before. Of course I respected her because what else was I to do but by the same token I definitely felt something was there given how random the change was & just by her actions really not indicating any disinterest/lack of feeling apart from the moment she told me so I reached out genuinely to basically tell her all the good I thought of her & just wanted to see her thoughts on whether she’d be open in future to continue getting to know each other given we shared future outlook/similar values/got along great/both comfortable (which we’d all said previously also). I don’t regret saying any of it because she was worth the effort but I didn’t expect reciprocation & I got as I expected the same sort of message saying “no connection” etc. At least I can genuinely tried my best and had the right intention all the way through & she should be able to see that.

    I guess where I am left now is like a real reluctance to want to try again with anyone because I feel like it’s something about me like I “tick the boxes” but I don’t spark feeling within someone enough for them to see me as worth it, I know the typical response is you haven’t met the right one but it’s happened that many times that I genuinely think it’s something I am incapable of sparking within a girl.

    Firstly, I don’t know how I am really going to get over this girl & then I am scared to go back out there again because I feel so much pressure on every date I go on that at the drop of a hat they’ll just say no spark.

    To the women out there do you think I need to find some sort of edge about me and remove the genuine side & try make people chase me or whatever, I am so confused

     

    #413844
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Daniel

    It’s lovely to meet you! You sound very mature and like you have a good head on your shoulders.

    You mentioned that you have some anxiety and self esteem issues. I think continuing to work on these issues will be helpful. Confidence is sexy. Have you seen a therapist for these issues?

    Could you tell me a bit about the women you’ve been dating? Are there any common themes in your relationships? I’m wondering if you have any habits of selecting incompatible partners.

    Dating statistics show that like men, women under 25 women like men value physical attractiveness. However, over the age of 25 women start to find other qualities attractive. Your maturity, stability and other good qualities will become immensely valuable in your dating life as your dating pool ages. Basically, dating becomes selecting partners with good qualities for child rearing.

     

    #413845
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Daniel:

    Welcome to the forums! First, I will repeat what you shared using the boldface feature to indicate your words (with minor adjustments), next I will quote you and respond:

    You suffered from anxiety/ low self-esteem throughout your life. In your early 20s, you realized the extent and impact of these two things, and you have put in tireless work to improve yourself. For as long as you remember, you always wanted to find a girl that can be your life partner and build a family with her. You are family oriented, loyal, down to earth, likes to laugh and you value relationships. At 26, being a civil engineer with a stable career, a life with your family-of-origin and with a close network of friends, you did  not yet manage to have a long-term relationship with a woman.

    “I keep seeming to run into the same sort of scenario where a girl will date me and then say ‘you’re such a great guy but my feelings haven’t progressed‘… now after hearing this for probably the 1000th time of my dating life…”- even if this number (1000) is exaggerated, it is very puzzling that the same happened again and again and yet again.. every time.

    “Everyone around me always says I am such a great catch & all everything going for me & that those that don’t want me are missing out but it’s starting to concern me… I had been dating someone for a bit recently and to be honest it was going great like each date it had progressed and the interest seemed strong both ways… and then out of nowhere she did a complete 360 and said her feelings hadn’t progressed… saying ‘no connection‘ etc… I feel like it’s something about me like I ‘tick the boxes’ but I don’t spark feeling within someone enough for them to see me as worth it, I know the typical response is you haven’t met the right one but it’s happened that many times that I genuinely think it’s something I am incapable of sparking within a girl.”-

    – I am sure that what is to follow is an atypical response because it is unpleasant and risky for me to suggest (you and anyone reading my response may get angry at me for suggesting it as a possibility, not a fact, mind you). Therefore, I am emphasizing that what I am suggesting is indeed only a possibility, not based on any evidence in regard to you: in my experience bad breath or a bad body odor (not necessarily very intense or noticeable at a distance,  and not necessarily a result of not showering, brushing etc.) is a strong turn-off in the context of a romantic relationship, no matter how great other attributes of a person are. It may be something I’d try to ignore for a while… focusing on the great attributes, but.. sooner than later, it’s the basis for withdrawal, can’t help it.

    Of course, what I suggested right above can be totally untrue, but .. just in case there is truth to it, and you have not been aware of it so far, then it could be the easiest and fastest thing to fix (ex., taking nutritional supplements advertised as “odor cleanse”, “internal deodorant”, etc. ), and that’s exciting! Or there could be another turn-off that the women preferred to not reveal to you, explaining their withdrawal in the easiest, most non-confrontational way available to them.

    (I) am not afraid of looking myself in the mirror & see what I can do better“- this is why I had the courage to suggest the above as a possibility. It’s just that I can’t detect any other possibility to explain the repetition you described in regard to your dating life. I understand that you are anxious and have a low self-esteem (you can elaborate on it, if you’d like), but lots and lots of people with anxiety and low self-esteem, particularly those with a stable career and great attributes, have long-term relationships. Please let me know your thoughts about my response, and if you would like, we can investigate the matter further.

    anita

    #413848
    Rachel
    Participant

    At 26, you sound burned out and exhausted from the dating treadmill. There is an ancient expression: “Meshane makom, meshane mazal.” Change your place, change your luck. I think, at this point, if you continue to pursue the same activities in the same places, with the same people, you will continue to experience the same disappointment. My advice would be to move away to a new city (hopefully not too far from work) and join new clubs, meet new people, NOT with the idea of dating/marriage, but with the idea of socializing and meeting new people for interesting activities (hiking, horseback riding, cooking, traveling, gardening, fishing, sailing, tennis, etc.) Just enjoy your life and learn new things. See the world. You said it yourself: “I am scared to go back out there again because I feel so much pressure on every date I go on.” It’s the pressure that is killing the spark. They feel the pressure too! And maybe that’s what’s turning them off. Remove the pressure by engaging in fun activities that are not considered “dating,” and perhaps some sparks will ignite. And no, I don’t think you need to try and be less genuine. People will read through that quickly and will be even less inclined to find that spark. Just be you.

    #413878
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Helcat,

    Appreciate your response greatly!

    I have been seeing a therapist for a while now when I realised the extent of the anxiety/low self esteem & instead of suppressing it I have decided to tackle it head on & I have come a long way. It has changed from things like “what did I do wrong”, “what is it about me etc” to now knowing deep down I have all the attributes to make a good partner & that I am a good person but it just feels like there is indeed something missing as all that good stuff (ie genuine, down to earth, stable career/family life, fit/healthy) does not seem enough for people to pursue past a given point.

    As far as the people I have dated, it has been a mixed bag as generally I give people a chance. I definitely think those that are early 20s probably don’t look for/value those things and are more superficial (which at that age I don’t expect them to have figured out what they want).

    This last girl I dated in particular felt like it had all the makings of something good. Same age, same upbringing, same morals/values, agreed on our outlook for the future, laugh a lot together, both were affectionate with each other (apart from being fully intimate together – this I prefer to take slow when it’s someone of potential), she had said to me she felt completely comfortable & fully like herself around me. In the week leading up to her telling me her feelings hadn’t progress enough as they should have by that stage she had been calling me out of the blue to see how I was, she reciprocated that she wanted to continue hanging out/seeing me then 4 days later she said that. I accepted it as there’s not much else I can do & I was away on a trip for a week so I thought I’d give myself time when I’m back to look at it properly before acting on anything else. I thought she was worth the effort given the connection to tell her what I thought of her in the hope it might do something (even though realistically I knew it wouldn’t), she sort of just reiterated the same thing “I think you’re a great guy but…”.

    This situation is symptomatic of what happens to me, I would say though 90% of the time when I sit back and look at the different situations I can admit it was coming or understand the “no spark” etc. This case here there was really no sign of that until she told me & I’m confident I did everything I could in the most genuine way possible it’s just got to a point now where I am starting to believe maybe it’s something about me that I am missing something that evokes some spark in a girl beyond thinking I’m a good guy.

    I am unsure how to change my luck from “you’re a great guy who ticks the boxes but no spark” to having that spark, when you hear it enough you go from thinking about it from a point of view that “they just weren’t the right one” to well hang on maybe I am like too down to earth for my own good that I’m not actually attractive.

    #413879
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Anita,

    Thanks for your response much appreciated!

    I would say that the grooming of myself is not the issue as I have been raised to always present myself well in that regard – not in a superficial/self-centred way but in a “take pride in the way you present” way so I don’t believe that’s a problem as I am often complimented for the way I dress/smell/appearance.

    I can definitely improve areas such as continually working on my self esteem/self worth & trying to not take it as personally as I do sometimes it’s just beaten me down over a long period of time I guess

    #413880
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Rachel,

    Thanks for your response I appreciate it greatly.

    I did make the decision over the last few days to delete my dating app accounts after this latest rejection as I think I need time not so much to get over it or “to find myself” but more so as a break from dating as I was going on the app and for example didn’t feel any urge at all to message anyone new/swipe on anyone new just because I feel a bit scared to fully let myself out there again.I am the type that wears my heart on my sleeve so I probably feel the weight of rejection a lot heavier in some cases.

    Unfortunately because of family/work I can’t move away from where I am now, I have been making a conscious effort on being myself more and more in these situations but the feeling is very much like me being myself is good enough for 5/6 dates but nothing beyond that as that is usually when it stops.

    I am not afraid to say to a girl how I feel or what I want etc, I am always conscious of the vibe & consider things like not putting pressure on the girl/communicating with them so I think my approach is relatively ok but I am questioning it a fair bit now like I need to like “make moves” be more “smooth” etc to try find some sort of extra edge.

    It’s like I am good enough to get some repeated dates with a girl but ultimately they never see me worth long term

    #413881
    Helcat
    Participant

    Hi Daniel

    That’s great! I was just checking. I can already see from your replies that you’ve made a lot of good progress with your therapy. I’m sure that you will continue to grow and achieve some great results.

    I’m sorry that you’ve been dealing with these issues dating. I can understand feeling fed up and needing a break from it all after what you’ve been experiencing. It’s healthy to allow yourself time to process how you feel about it all.

    On Tinder the average number of matches for men is 1 in 10. Of these, half typically end up with an actual date. Do you have any thoughts about how that compares with your experience?

    You mentioned that your date went cold on you after your work trip. Do you find that you travel for work a lot or infrequently? Do you work long hours? I only ask because you have what women would consider potentially a high paying job. If there are a lot of hours and travelling some women can find themselves unsatisfied with the amount of time spent together. My friend who is an aeronautical engineer has expressed these differences in dating.

    I’m also wondering if you mention your job on your dating profile and which dating apps you typically use?

    #413883
    Helcat
    Participant

    *My friend who is an aeronautical engineer has expressed these difficulties in dating.

    #413886
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Helcat

    I want to just move on from this girl but it’s hard because I know there was at least something and it was just completely out of the blue and I know from experience that it’s pretty much dead in the water & to be honest I don’t want to risk putting myself out there again as much as I want a partner just for the same thing to happen and they don’t feel a connection to me. I don’t know whether I am supposed to go faster or slower, whether I need to physically escalate faster etc etc.

    Basically feels like being down to earth, pretty much easy going in nature, having a stable job/family, being fit/healthy & having basic good morals/values is still not enough for someone to take a chance on me, what is it that I missing?

    Oh I should of been more clear, the trip was just like a 4 day trip interstate with my best friend and his girlfriend which was pre-planned prior to meeting this girl. She had said she felt completely like herself around me and was more than happy to continue seeing me when I got back etc etc, affection was there. The only real sign of her going cold was when she ultimately mentioned it and I was a bit like to myself “what happened in 3/4 days”. I don’t regret reaching out after giving it a few weeks to breath to tell her that basically I think she’s a great girl whose worth the effort to get to know better if she’d ever be open to it again. I didn’t do it in a desperate way, I just told her what I thought of her (ie good values, good outlook on the future like my own, kind) & that it would be a shame given we were both comfortable etc to not get to know her better so I just said there’d be no pressure other than getting to know each other better & if she wasn’t into the idea ultimately I’d respect it. So without saying exactly what I said that was the gist of it so I hope even though she just reiterated what she had said to me previously I hope she still would have a good impression of me & know I was genuine & had right intention.

    My work is busy but I am lucky where I am that it has the right amount of work/life balance and I tend to start earlier in the day if I am going to have a long day so I don’t get home late, and I would make the effort to spend time with a partner as they would ultimately be my priority.

    I was only using Hinge which I just deleted, tinder & bumble I didn’t like for different reasons. Tinder wasn’t really my vibe & Bumble I really had no success so I just thought I’d pick one and stick to that so I picked Hinge.

    I think before I deleted Hinge just the other day I had about 180ish matches over the course of last year when I had re-downloaded it. Usually the match doesn’t reply after a couple messages or if I happen to get into decent conversation with them I take it off the app & it might progress to a date from there. I can tell more so now with experience which girls I would be keen to meet pretty early on & I have been told that I come across the same in person as I do via message which they say is easy going/nice/good to talk to but maybe slightly quieter natured but not in a bad way.

    Like I don’t doubt these women think I am a good person/nice to talk to etc etc, I can’t really remember any dating experiences having ended on bad terms to be honest as I may have mentioned I typically just accept things and don’t burn bridges particularly if I happened to like the girl just in the hope it might change sometimes but that’s wishful thinking in pretty much all cases from my experience as I have never had a girl really change their mind or get back in contact unless I randomly make it happen.

    It sounds like I get friend zoned a lot, which is probably true but I don’t even think it is specifically “friend zoned” because if I am/was interested in a girl & that conversation comes up I usually just respect what they say but don’t really entertain the idea of really growing a friendship but I’ve definitely talked to girls I have dated from time to time on social media months after we’ve dated but they are very brief exchanges and I would not say we are “friends”.

    This might not make sense but it feels like I am pretty much in-between a friend and a romantic connection. Like I think people see potential in me as a partner & more than a friend & I have been described by girls as someone they’d take home to their parents but then there’s not enough of a connection or spark for them to put in the effort to get to know me better on a deeper level or be patient even when things are going really well & there’s really no need not to explore something. I understand you can’t force a connection and I would never do that but gee it feels like I tick boxes but there’s one I don’t tick and that is basically what stops everything.

    Now I am utterly confused, exhausted and drained as to how I am supposed to go about it anymore. I should be myself which I try to do but it feels like ultimately I’m really not worth the extra effort for a girl.

    #413888
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Daniel:

    I was wondering, can you/ will you elaborate on what you mean by having always suffered from “anxiety/ low self esteem”? What do you mean by it, specifically?

    anita

    #413891
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Anita

    Sure thing,

    Basically I think I have always had a degree of anxiety coming from my parents as they can be stress heads and probably for me mainly within large group settings I have in the past struggled to really “find my feet” and be comfortable in my own skin enough to just relax and be myself which stems from low self esteem.

    I do not believe people would really ever think upon meeting me that I have suffered from those type of things but I guess if I can explain it best it would be that I grew up around a very “alpha male” type of group and within sporting environments where sort of oneupmanship was a theme and a “boys club” type of vibe. Me personally I would describe as an introverted extrovert, like an onion type of analogy you have to peal back the layers to get to know me more and more but I am not necessarily shy I just need to warm up/get comfortable. I don’t think this really fit in with these types of groups even though I was respected by pretty much the whole group.

    I think entering into adult life and throwing women into the mix of this dynamic perpetuated my anxiety & worsened my self esteem as the narrative in my head has become “you have to be an alpha male type” to get the girl otherwise eventually just being my natural down to earth laidback self will be too boring. So therefore because of this I struggled to really feel comfortable to be myself early on in dating but now it has changed.

    I still have those thoughts and when things like this happen that’s sort of the line of thinking I instantly revert back to but I always try to be myself no matter what & I realise this opens me up to feel rejection quite heavily & self doubt ensues.

    Where I am at now after the latest disappointment is basically even when you match values, future outlook, common interests etc etc and the boxes on both sides are being ticked it seems that I am not ultimately worth the effort for a girl to really seriously pursue. they don’t have a bad opinion of me, I think its the opposite but I am starting to believe whilst I may be thought of as a good guy, I am not quite good enough. Yes, maybe I haven’t met the right girl but I feel like for literally none of the women I have dated to really ever mention they even half like me in that way makes it hard to believe that will just change.

    #413892
    Phoebe
    Participant

    Hi Daniel,

    I completely feel your feelings as one of my best friend she, 25 years old, is suffering the same of your issues. She has changed from one to other dating apps but none of them really worth it. I remember once she had really strong feelings and connection with 1 guy on Tinder but at the end he was just a guy with ” common purpose” that usually found on dating apps. So, as sharing this with you, I just want you to know that you are not the only one out there, it could be a wrong time in a wrong place for you to find your “real happiness”. Remember that: Good things always take time.

    It is very understandable while you are suffering with your anxiety and being hunted with those same feelings over again in a very short time. It is very hard cause we always think about negative sides than positive sides. Also me, I am suffering from anxiety to depression. All I can advice you is, we are still young, and we are worth to be happy in our personal boundary. We allow to express our feelings in both emotional and physical ways, but when it is right person coming, you will feel it in your heart and your decision is in your mind. Eventhough if you are a good and a gentleman, but we need that “spark” from the very first conversation. Be sincere, strengthens the relationship through ongoing, honest communication. For me, I will feel comfortable and interested in a guy that I can trust every single word he says to me. Don’t make a fake profile just to try messaging your partner and seeing if they respond. Please share what you’re looking for in a partner and also ask what they’re looking for but remember, we can be friend. As being a new friend, a lots of interesting to talk to each other every day. Good hints for you: during a conversation, try to add a little cute sentences randomly ( I bet ya dont remember me but i’m the one in your dream). Something is not too over but something little may helps.

     

    #413922
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Daniel:

    I would say with me is what you see is what you get (original post)…  like an onion type of analogy you have to peel back the layers to get to know me more and more (6th post)”-  if you are as easy to know as what-you-see-is-what-you-get, then how is it that what one sees is only the outside layer of the onion…

    “I have all the attributes to make a good partner.. I am a good person but it just feels like there is indeed something missing… what is it that I (am) missing?“- I will try to peel back the outside layers of the onion (based on what you shared in your six posts), with the motivation of getting to that “something missing”- in the core of the onion, perhaps.

    First, in the outside layers of the onion are these adjectives, alphabetized by me (these adjectives are taken from how you responded to members and from what you shared in your 6 posts): appreciative, down to earth, easy going, family oriented, (a) gentleman, (a) good person,  (a) great catch, laid back, likes to laugh, loyal, mature, a nice person, not afraid, respectful, and thankful.

    Quotes that include the adjectives above: “any comments would be appreciated!… Appreciate your response greatly!… Thanks for your response much appreciated!.. Thanks for your response I appreciate it greatly“, “I am very thankful for the position I am in at a personal level thanks to the support/upbringing of my family & friends.. not afraid of looking myself in the mirror & see what I can do better…Everyone around me always says I am such a great catch… I am always mature/respectful of the girls feelings…, I’m down to earth, like to laugh and have a joke, family oriented, loyal… I have been raised to be a gentleman and generally just a nice person.. I am a good personlaidback…  easy going… I have been told that I come across the same in person as I do via message which they say is easy going/nice/good to talk to“.

    Let’s jump perhaps straight to the core of the onion, as I see it: “I have suffered from anxiety/low self-esteem throughout my life“.

    Since you started dating, this has been added to the core of the onion: “I don’t spark feeling within someone enough for them to see me as worth it… I am incapable of sparking within a girl… scared (that) at the drop of a hat, they’ll just say no spark… I am so confused… I am starting to believe whilst I may be thought of as a good guy, I am not quite good enough“.

    You wrote: “I have been raised to always present myself well… I grew up around a very ‘alpha male’ type of group… I don’t think this really fit in with these types of groups even though I was respected by pretty much the whole group. I think entering into adult life and throwing women into the mix of this dynamic perpetuated my anxiety & worsened my self-esteem as the narrative in my head has become ‘you have to be an alpha male type’ to get the girl“-

    – this is my best understanding at this point: you did not fit the alpha male type group you grew up around (you were not an alpha male), and you felt anxiety and low self-esteem as a result, but you learned how to present yourself to the alpha male group in such a way that got them to respect you. Fast forward, you thought that the same presentation will be good enough to get a woman’s interest in a long-term relationship with you. But the presentation that worked for you somewhat, in the context of the alpha-male-type group, has not been working  for you at all, in long-term romantic context. And so, the narrative in your mind has become (paraphrased by me): since my presentation to the alpha male crowd (now presented to women) is not working for me, maybe I should become an alpha male.

    Before I proceed, I need to ask you: does any of this ring true to you?

    anita

    #413928
    Daniel
    Participant

    Hi Anita

    Thanks again for your reply I appreciate your help!

    I think it does ring true to a large extent. I think I never really “fit in” to this group I think I was in this group because growing up I was quite a good/successful sportsmen so I landed myself in that group as a result but I would say I was also a floater who spoke to everyone at school for example and found common ground with most people. So I think I was respected in this group purely because I was a nice guy end of the day.

    In regards to bringing the female dynamic into this, I have always known deep down I am just down to earth/genuine but because of the group I am within and seeing them be successful at a bar/club or whatever with women that it planted a seed that I have to act more like this type of character to attract a woman.

    With experience dating I know that I can’t attempt to be like the alpha male because it is not who I am but where I get confused is….just because I am not that typical “alpha” does not mean I am not manly or a “nice guy”, I have control of my life & am stable and I believe I am emotionally intelligent but a lot of rejections about having no spark etc have led me to believe I need to “play games” or whatever in order to keep a woman interested despite people such as my close friends partners telling not to do that & keep myself genuine and wear my heart on my sleeve as I usually do.

    But I am starting to feel that this emotionally in tune side of me is weak to women or it doesn’t help ignite sparks or create attraction in me. I am not weak when I say emotionally in tune, what I mean is I am not afraid to show interest/express a feeling/listen to others/help those in need because I care. I am also levelheaded & not sporadic with my emotion despite the anxiety I have suffered. The anxiousness happens mostly when I am on my own in my own thoughts.

    Basically the feeling is like this silly sort of analogy….I am like a book you pick up, read the blurb and the review and it looks pretty good nothing wrong with it at all, you start reading and have a good impression of the story but eventually it bores you and you put it down & never got back to it.

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