Hey... so I'm a twenty-one year old art student and basically I'm trying to break into mainstream America and it's snazzy dating scene. Unfortunately, I've got a few issues that I'd like your insight on.
- I'm not a bro - I don't watch sports. Also, my city has a very angry "bro scene" and I'm too in love with life to walk around with a flat-billed hat and look angry all the time.
- I can't pop my collar or wear funny looking clothes. Should I just get a suit? Not a black one but a tan one like all the Irish guys wear in Goodfellas?
- I have no idea what to talk about. All I do is read, go fishing, and work on my stuff. What am I going to say? How much I hate techno? How absurdly priced the drinks are? The truth is that I love women's fashion (as long as it's foxy) but if you talk about that they think I'm gay (cause I'm smart enough not to look at their breasts).
- Where should I go? The club scene is out of the question because there's too much dubstep and all those girls are on MDMA. Classy bars? I don't have any money. I won't have time for a job until December.
I'm not asking these questions to hook up, I really want to go meet some nice and normal people.
Emily's Take: When reading your e-mail you made sure to tell me all of the things that you don't like and hardly anything that you do. I imagine that's the real reason that you're having trouble breaking into "mainstream America's dating scene."
I have gone on dates with people that automatically tell me everything they hate and it is such a turn off. They come across as unhappy, closed minded, stubborn, and snobby. I'm sure you can understand how someone can get that opinion. If I tell you that I like a certain band and you spend the next five minutes telling me that you hate them and why. You're going to make me feel like my opinion isn't valid and I'll likely feel like you're talking down to me and making fun of me. It is going to make me have a stomach ache and go home early.
Now to your questions:
1. Keep an open mind and don't automatically rule people out as potential matches until you've actually taken time to get to know the real person. From your e-mail, it sounds like you'd rule me out b/c I'm a huge football fan and I didn't even ask you to watch the game with me yet.
It is fine if you don't watch or care about sports, plenty of guys don't. I just want you to remember that opposites attract and your future girlfriend or wife might be a cheese head and you might find a Packers t-shirt under the Christmas tree. You don't have to pretend to love it but you have to appreciate that she does. You also have to be willing to sit through a game and cheer on the team with her in the stands from time to time. My boyfriend doesn't go crazy for sports and he's not thrown into a bad mood when our team loses the way I am, but he is willing to go to any game with me. He drove hundreds of miles with me to cheer on Ken Griffey Jr. when the Seattle Mariners came to a city near my hometown of Pittsburgh. He doesn't care about baseball but he's happy to do it because he always has a good time because he knows how much I like it. Relationships are about compromises.
2. It sounds like you're asking if you should buy clothes that don't fit your personal style and personality. No, absolutely not. Do I think you should own a suit? Yes. I think everyone should own a suit for weddings, funerals, and other fancy events. Do I think that you need to alter your everyday style? No, I think you should be who you are. When you are, you'll be more confident because you're not trying to be something you aren't, and you'll be more relaxed which will always help you meet people or have a successful date. Just be careful that you don't pigeon hole yourself into developing a signature look. I think too many guys do this and suddenly you think that you can't wear jeans b/c you never wear jeans and someone made a comment the last time that you did. I mean, how many people do you see walking around in stone wash jeans and a freshly cut mullet? They're stuck in the 80's and afraid to change. Be yourself and don't be afraid to change your style as your personality changes and matures. Trust me, it will.
3. You read all the time but you have no idea what to talk about? That doesn't make sense. I read the news online pretty much all day long and I come home from work and I tell my boyfriend about all the interesting stories that I read. I'm sure he doesn't care about half of the stuff I tell him (I may have a thing for celebrity gossip) but he appreciates that I found it interesting and it will spark a discussion or remind him of something that he's read. Conversation happens, just start talking. Just don't focus on the negatives. Reread your 3rd question, you only told me about things that you hate when you suggested topics. You told me several things that you enjoy (reading, fishing and working) but seemed to rule those out as topics. And don't be so quick to judge someone. If you ask me what the last book that I read was and I tell you Cinderella, it isn't because I'm a moron that doesn't read. It means that I don't have a ton of time for books for myself and I read that to my 5 yr old niece last weekend.
When you date someone, you want someone that you can talk to about the things you enjoy. Early dates are all about getting to know the other person, ask questions that will get to the heart of who they are. Family, childhood experiences/memories, vacations they've taken, dreams, stories about friends, pets, embarrassing moments, books they've read, good movies they've seen, anything. If you're on a date you should be interested in learning about the other person but also willing to open up and share the same things about yourself.
4. Where should you go? I'm going to come across as shallow when I say this, but I'm saying it anyway. If you can't go out to the bar and nurse one drink (water, soda, or alcohol) all night while you try to strike up a conversation, how are you going to take her out on a proper date? I've never been a fan of looking for dates in a bar. I think the better way to meet people are through friends, at friend's parties, at events that reflect your interest (Perhaps an art gallery event or arts festival?) at a café (Starbucks, Panera, etc.) or even online.
I give the following advice to anyone looking for a relationship online: Don't mess with the free sites. The paid sites are filled with people that you know are paying a fee because they want a relationship AKA they're not casually hanging out on a free site checking out their options while they're already in a relationship. I think you'll find better results but no one ever listens to that advice, so set up your profile and then write back in to tell me if I'm right or if you found the woman of your dreams on plenty-o-fish.
If you're looking to meet new people, try new things. You don't need a lot of money to try new things. Volunteer. Go to a new museum. Find events on Facebook or the local newspaper's calendar of events. There's always something going on. Buy a Groupon deal and try something new, take friends with you. If you're having a good time with your friends and find someone cool to talk to, talk to them. Don't go to every event looking for a date, go looking to have fun and if you meet someone there, that's great. If you don't, at least you had a good day and did something new.
Kristin's Take: This question is right in my wheelhouse; when I'm not working at Bro Council Headquarters, I'm working in the arts, so take it from me: there are lots of girls who like guys who are into art. The key to finding them, like finding all worthwhile girls, is to be yourself. Don't feel like you have to dress by like any definition of a bro, pretend to like sports, or love techno (does anybody even still like techno?) if those aren't things you're in to. Girls worth spending time with are the ones who are into guys who are passionate about something that they're legitimately into, whether it be cooking, arts, or soccer; not the guys who are just out to impress them. Take Mikhail Baryshnikov for example, he's a male ballerina and over sixty years old; but is so passionate and good at what he does, that there are blogs dedicated to just how attractive he is.
Now, for where to meet girls: I'm not sure what city you're in; clearly that metropolis needs Bro Council to give a seminar in being respectable "bros," because flat-billed hats and being constantly angry doesn't have our seal of approval; but most towns have free or low-cost gallery crawls or open art nights, which are awesome places to meet girls who are into both art and fashion. The upside is that these kind of places can usually double as classy bars too in that most galleries will also have complimentary drinks for attendees. Since you're in art school, I'd be willing to bet your university has some coffeehouse concerts or art openings posted on a bulletin board on campus; try checking those out, most of the girls I work with aren't huge fans of loud, crowded clubs and dubstep either, but we are fans of discovering local bands and artists. Another good idea for a date is to check out local theaters; they usually have huge discounts for students to plays or musical acts.
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