Cave woman


By Andrea Nemerson. View more columns here


Dear Andrea:

I'm ready to go live in a cave. It's been two years since I've dated. Partly I backed off from the scene, and partly I'm not receiving much interest. I think I'm smart, approachable, creative, "together," nice, and passably cute. It's starting to affect my self-confidence.

I joined eHarmony ($120!) and, solicited friends' input on my profiles, and followed up on every match. I got one eHarmony date (great but not local) and rarely heard back from anyone. I try to e-mail one guy a day. Either they don't answer or our communication peters out soon after I e-mail. The ones who really get me seem very interested, ask me out, then drop it when I accept.

Why? Is this a Mars/Venus thing? Maybe online just isn't my venue? I do several activities that attract single guys, but haven't led to much — except maybe embarrassment on my part when I show interest and get a brush-off. Maybe try going through friends again? That worked in the past.

I just turned 40 and would like a partner. Mostly I've been solo, and that really sucks.

Forty & Frustrated

Dear F&F:

Before you go live in a cave, you might consider something a little less drastic, like living in a smaller, less brutally competitive city far from the coasts. It's an idea.

Barring that, we have to subject your online interactions to the scrutiny of a girlfriend panel. Ideally these would be your girlfriends — they could make far more specific suggestions, like lose that mullet or stop telling everyone about your rectal fistula. But if you don't have a panel, you can borrow mine. I convened one for you.

Irina: The phenomenon of guys initiating and then vanishing as soon as you try to make a date is very familiar, and probably has nothing to do with her. I could theorize all day, but when it comes down to it, they're not ready to actually connect with people, so fuck 'em. Next!

Also, she should try free sites, like, which may attract guys who are more open to chicks who initiate. She should stay involved in the activities, and of course hit up her friends if that worked in the past. But she could still go online if she can let go of some of her frustration. Maybe see it as just one more tool to increase her odds of meeting guys.
Myrna: I wonder if there's some kind of smoking-gun thing in her appearance or self-presentation that's causing this. Maybe her desperation is showing? As far as the real-life men go, the guys may be panicking when she comes on to them, so if she doesn't think her mutual attraction radar is good, maybe don't do that.
Leanne: God help us all, she's 40.
Andrea: Right, but we have seen that 40 is not an automatic dating death sentence. Also, what about the disappearing-act dudes? I assume they've all gone off with hotter-sounding properties, but I wonder what makes those other properties so hotter-sounding.
Lucilla: I'm fat, in my 40s, rural, and follow a weird religion — guys should be thin on the ground for me. Yet I've had a good many dates recently before settling on one gentleman. I also got rejected or given the silent treatment by dozens of guys. I tried to project positivity and hope, and used words like "passionate" to indicate, discretely, that I like sex. In pictures I was smiling and had my hair down. And another vote for okcupid — free and has lots of activities where you can participate and get to know people without pressure. Also Craigslist, although you have to wade through lots of awful guys to get to the good ones. As for why guys don't follow up: They're not into you, they're not really committed to finding someone, or they're married. Or all three.
Ruby: There is also a possible picker problem. My rule for online dating is "look for normal."
Andrea: I like that! FF, I do think men and women approach this a bit differently. You're taking the rejections too personally — a lot of those guys are answering every new ad that appears. They don't know you, so they aren't rejecting you. Stick with the online dating if it's at least a tiny bit fun, but pursue the circle of friends options — all the research says that we basically marry ourselves, so hang out where you already hang out, but more so. Get as much feedback as you can about your personal presentation. (Note: this is does not mean criticize every aspect of your body and find it wanting. I mean, do you seem fun, clean, sane, and at least passably light on baggage?)
You are NOT more likely to get hit by lightning while suffering a terrorist attack than you are to marry after 40. There's nothing wrong with spending a little time alone in a cave recuperating right now if that's what you need, though. It's rough out there.
Don't forget to read Carnal Nation ( for more Andrea and other cool stuff.

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