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ARCHIVED ANSWER TO A READER QUESTION ABOUT DATING
-- Posted February 26, 2002 --

   The Question From Lost in the Library.

    Dear Date Guru:  I am a single, 26 year-old male, out of college for three years, working as a librarian at a law school. It is a nice job, but sometimes I feel like a loser in the midst of a bunch of students who are on their way to the legal profession. It can be tough sometimes. I am attractive, but I don't have the "status" of a future attorney or graduate of law school.

    At any rate, I have had a couple of close relationships that went belly-up after about six months, both of them with female students here at the law school. One was a couple of years ago with a second-year student. She ended up dumping me after hooking up with another guy in her class.

    My most recent girlfriend was a first-year student and we were doing pretty good for a couple of months. We had a lot in common, played tennis, liked similar movies, music and books. Then, this pattern set in where she would just not be available. She would make excuses to not get together like having a ton of homework, being behind in her classes, etc. I decided to break it off because it was just too frustrating. I didn't feel she was that interested in continuing the relationship and was just looking for an excuse to get away from me. I know she also ended up dating a male law student. I feel like I was used in both cases. They were interesting women, all right, but they actually kind of picked me up, rather than me picking them up. And, I fell for it. Also, I am fairly shy and don't often make the first move in meeting women.

    Now, after being dumped twice, I am feeling a little embarrassed at my job and I figure I should get another job somewhere else, because women here are just not going to stay with a guy who is just a librarian at a law school. What do you think I should do? Signed:  Lost in the Library

   The Answer.

    Dear Lost:  I hope you don't let these two women who dumped you scare you away from your job. The first thing to do is not blame yourself for the way the relationships ended. If these two women are not willing to talk to you about their feelings and what it is that they are truly dealing with, then, well, they really should not be allowed to determine your self-concept. They have a problem. Their problem is that they don't have the simple, basic, human, social skill of talking about their feelings. That is their problem, not yours.

    Your problem is not being good at making first moves. As long as you are a person who more or less lets women choose you, you will be setting yourself up for difficult times. The more you let others choose you, the more they will choose you for their reasons, whatever they might be. In this case, it is my guess that these "newer" students were feeling insecure, not sure what their value was in their peer group and chose you for your looks and ease of access. You were, in essence, a transition boy, a security blanket until they had a better feel for their school environment. Quite frankly, I think you should swear off dating students. They are in the midst of so many changes, that often, you are just setting yourself up for a very complex life.

    Now, about the initiation anxiety that you have. Gotta work on it. First, you have to decide what type of woman would be good for you to date, not just the glamour girl, but, really, what do you want? Once you are clear on that, then you can either choose to look for the "ideal" woman, or get better with your initiation skills and social skills with women in general, without the pressure of trying to make it into a dating relationship.

    Practice smiling, saying "hi," giving compliments, making small talk, asking questions, listening, dealing with women saying "no." If you can't handle hearing "no," you won't be able to ask them to lunch, for coffee, to dance, or on a date. "No" can be handled externally with a sense of confidence and humor by saying "I'm sorry, maybe some other time?" Or, "I thought we might have some things in common to talk about. If you change your mind, would you let me know." Things like that.

    Get good at not just hanging up or walking away, but talking just a little bit more, even if your invitation is rejected. Internally, "no" needs to be handled by knowing that you cannot go through life without hearing "no" many, many times. So, get used to it. In a sense, the more you hear "no," the more often you will hear a "yes." It is the law of averages. However, don't go getting pushy on me!

    For more information and resources on "shyness" check out the following:

    I hope that helps. Take care, and thank you for writing!
    Posted by:  Ron Sterling, M.D.   Read our Disclaimer.

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