Why are the only guys interested in me so far away?

 Dhsghyr asks:

I have never had a boyfriend. For some reason, no guy I have ever met has ever been interested in dating me. No guy I have ever liked has liked me back. Then I go on websites and there are tons of guys all over the world that claim to find me attractive. I end up forming great connections with guys I can’t meet so it never goes anywhere.

Has anyone else ever had this problem? I don’t know what to do. I can’t just move. I just want to form a connection with someone who I actually know. Any advice?

Demetrius says:

It seems like you’re struggling with two issues: The first is that you’re having a hard time finding romantic options in your area. The second is the perception that you are more liked and desired by men who are quite a bit of distance from you. Not sure if I can give you the answer you’re looking for, but I can try.

First, let me just say that with the spread of the internet, feeling like you’re more connected to your peers from distant lands is not surprising. Most of the people I interact with on Twitter are either Canadian or British. Not all, but like 60% of them. Which is interesting because an overwhelming majority of my readers are from the US. While my friends and family, who are primarily based in the US, are all very supportive (thanks y’all) the people who interact with me the most on Twitter, where I am the most active on the internet, are mostly from out of the country. On a certain level getting to know someone primarily online can be extremely intimate. I can’t tell you why for sure, but I do have a theory. I think that because online communication is primarily through text, our brains have to work harder at trying to understand people because the subconscious work our brain does to assess people when we see them in person, like judging body language, tone, threat assessment, etc., we have to do using our conscious mind. Since our brains are working harder, we notice things on a conscious level that we might not if we got to know someone in person. It’s sort of like if you saw a bear in real life, your brain is going to flip the “fight or flight” switch because on a subconscious level, you know that animals that are bigger and stronger than you pose a threat. But if you were watching a video of a bear interacting with humans on the internet, your brain is going to carefully assess on a conscious level whether or not said bear is friend or foe. Spoiler, the bear is going to do something adorable more than likely, unless Werner Herzog is narrating.

Anyway, tangents aside, why is it that you can’t meet anyone in your area? You know, since we’re talking about the human brain, one of the other things I like about humans so much is our brain’s skill at Pattern recognition and Apophenia. One of the greatest skills a human has, and an indicator of our intelligence, is the ability to recognize a pattern. Not sure if I’m right? Ask yourself how we test animals for intelligence. It’s generally either recognizing themselves in a mirror, or being able to learn. Mice are fairly smart, and we know this because they can get through mazes. Dogs don’t understand human language, but they recognize patterns in the sounds we make. What is learning beyond matching information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory? That said, the tendency to recognize patterns when there aren’t any, apophenia, is one of humanity’s greatest weaknesses. I think that most daters experience some form of apophenia, especially when they resort to saying things like “I just can’t meet someone great!”. You can meet someone great, you just haven’t YET.

I think that your two concerns, lack of romantic partners and finding that people who are interested in you are very far away, paired together, are contributing to the idea that you just can’t find anyone nearby who is interested. You probably can, unless you live in an extremely low population/low population density part of the world. Even still, I genuinely think that most people in most parts of the world can find a romantic partner if they try hard enough. There are obviously extreme exceptions, but odds are good that if you have access to the internet, you can probably meet and date online. I’m not saying everyone has someone out there just waiting to meet them, I’m not a soul mate person, but I think that through hard work, self-reflection and understanding what you’re looking for and being realistic about its attainability, you can find somebody to love. I think in your case, pairing a scarcity of options with interest from distant suitors is contributing to you feeling a heightened sense that there is no one near you that you’ll like. It could also be that you’ve exoticized people who aren’t where you’re from. It’s not that uncommon, and while we tend to think of it in a way that focuses on nationality (i.e. OMG, I swoon for French Guys) or ethnicity (i.e. Oh man, Black Girls are so hot), people can and do exoticize people based on where they’re from, even in the same country. It’s why so many people on dating sites try to highlight their regional “values” as a selling point. Midwestern values, southern charm, and so on.  It could also just be as simple as people being more attractive to you precisely because they’re unavailable. Some people want what they can’t have.

Whatever it is, it probably isn’t as hopeless as you think. I also wouldn’t read too much into the affections of people you have no shot at actually dating. It’s nice to flirt with someone who you’d need a passport to see, but you have to put it into context. Are there some women who live 500 – 3500 miles away from me who I would almost certainly date? In a heartbeat. Do they flirt with me way more than the women who may live 10 miles away from me? Oh, most definitely. Will I let that dictate my views on the availability of viable romantic options? No, and neither should you. You can meet someone near you who you like, you might just have to try harder to do it. What does trying harder mean? It means being more aggressive with your style of offline and online dating. Odds are good that unless you’re using Bumble, you don’t send first messages to men as frequently as they do. Change that. Be aggressive. No one is going to hand you the perfect guy, sometimes you have to put yourself out there to find him, or start the conversation. It’s easy to fall back on dating roles when you live in a thick dating market, but if you live in West Bubblefuck, your clinging to traditional dating roles isn’t going to help you. Whether it’s by being more social, cold approaching men to start conversations, or sending 1000% more first messages than you currently do, figure out how to do more. Work harder, and you’ll see results, I swear.

Good Luck Out There.

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