Quit Making Yourself the Butt of the Joke

(NOW: You can read Dategirl every day on the Daily Weekly!) Dear Dategirl, I'm 35 years old and can't seem to get into a relationship. In fact, I've never had a boyfriend to call my own—although I have, both wittingly and unwittingly, borrowed other people's. I think I've got a good face, a stellar (and occasionally self-deprecating) sense of humor, smarts, a good heart, good friends—all the things people say make me a catch. I've even started working out, so my body is in pretty good shape, too. I've tried online dating, and have given lots of sites chances over the years—everything from Craigslist (where I've had the best luck, and not just for sex) to eHarmony. I've given the paid sites at least six months each. The men I've met? Some are OK, no spark. Others are 20 years older and 60 pounds larger than their online personae. I've given chances to people against my better judgment. But I'm tired. I work a lot and try to go out, but whenever I have free time, I want to catch up with the people I already know and care about. Also, everyone's married, including many of my friends. Yes, I'm picky, but I don't think I'm too picky because I have a mad crush on my officemate, who weighs about 100 pounds and has a bad leg, not to mention an intermittent lisp. Of course he has a girlfriend, among other problems, so I know enough to stay away. Or at least I'm trying. Just what is my problem?—Man Repeller

You look good, you feel great, you're smart, funny, and awesome—what could possibly be the problem? Maybe it's because though you might say these words, you don't actually believe them. Having a self-deprecating sense of humor is fine, but it can also be the first line of defense for someone with incredibly low self-esteem. If you're the first to make fun of your funny teeth or lumpy butt, it defuses anything cruel anyone else might come up with. Not that I would know anything about lumpy butts or funny teeth. Another thing you might want to consider before you bust out the self-deprecation is that not everyone is perceptive enough to pick up on the fact that you're joking. You'd be surprised by how many people are literal thinkers. For example, take 30 Rock. Tina Fey is a slim, beautiful woman, yet her shtick entails always talking about what an ugly chunk she is and how she'll never get a man. Understandably, all the characters treat her like that's actually the case. I realize that the reason behind this casting is that unattractive women aren't actually allowed onto prime time, and they have to make do by slapping a pair of glasses on an otherwise gorgeous one, but suspend logic for a moment and apply it to your life. I'm not saying you have to morph into a stuck-up bitch, but quit making yourself the butt of the joke. Surely there are other things to laugh about besides any deficiencies you might possess. In a rare burst of genius (see what I did there?), I advised a friend who was having a rough time to keep repeating "I'm the bomb, I'm the bomb" silently to herself anytime she was feeling insecure. It worked. Why? Because faux confidence is every bit as effective as the genuine article. While we're on the topic of self-sabotage, quit with the taken dudes. I'm not coming from a place of judgment here, but of practicality. When you decide that it's OK to be number two, three, or four in some guy's life, that's where you're going to end up on everybody's list. You deserve better. dategirl@seattleweekly.com

 
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