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So you've set up your online dating profile, answered 66,000 of those ancillary compatibility questions, and received exactly zero messages from others -- so what's the deal?! Why is no one attracted to you?

Well, it's because you're not attractive.

Here, let's cut it down into pieces that are easier to swallow. Your dating profile isn't working because ...

You Want Something from a Romantic Partner You Should Be Getting Somewhere Else

"What are you looking for?" asks the dating form.

"Let's see ... I'm gonna need someone who's gonna rescue me from my-"


That was quick, and it was quick because the first thing you want from a relationship is something you should be getting from anywhere other than a nice stranger who's willing to eat a meal with you. You want to have more self-esteem? You'd better get it from achieving something in life, because that's not the job of your future partner. You need someone to hover around you in the ready position because (emotionally speaking) you are a very brittle (though sexy) vase on top of a very high display? That's more a job for the professionals (psychiatrist, not escort). You see the mile markers in life as education, career, relationship, and family, but just because you can sleepwalk your way through the first two doesn't mean you're automatically ready for the rest.

You're Looking for an Endorsement of Your Single Life

Your dating profile is not working because you are literally posing with a sword in your photo (and yes, I know it's a katana -- I called it a sword just to annoy you). You are posing with a sword (I DID IT AGAIN) in your photo because you have laboriously over-engineered a Single Life for yourself and would now like to shoehorn another person into it in the manner of adding a seventh wheel to one of those stupid six-wheeled cars. Approximately 77 percent of your dating profile is a massive itemized list of your favorite bands and TV shows simply because those are the things that have paired nicely with your aloneness. You're looking for a cheerleader for your big pile of Single Person Stuff, but you have that pile BECAUSE you're single. There's less time for constant sword-polishing (ahem) when you're reconfiguring your day to allow for mutual trust and support with another human being.

Your job is not to demand that someone else submit to jackbooted annexation by your single person's empire. You do not want to be the Hitler of relationships. You do not want to be the Hitler of anything. I cannot stress that enough.

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You Don't See Other People as People

Why do you think you can get away with misreporting your age/height/weight by a factor of 146? Because you don't see other people as fully sentient. You've spent 960 hours thinking about why you'd potentially stop seeing someone but zero hours thinking about why someone might dump you. That's because you don't see other people as people -- you see them as props, here to supplement the existence of the One True Human. That's a tough pill to swallow, but here's a full glass of context to help wash it down: It's so common that there's even a word ("sonder") to describe the belated realization that other people exist in the same way you do. Because they do.

Ohhhh shit.

Like everyone else, you've probably grown up watching a lot of movies, and the thing about movies is that the stories that offer the most escapism by nature give you the least accurate picture of the real world. Lacking are the movies about how the universe is a big unfair mess of random shit and awkward gray areas in which you are entitled only to die screaming. Your life is not a character arc in which the Love Interest is obligated to appear at some point -- it is a horribly free-form escalator ride to the grave, and it's up to you to make the most of it by shaping yourself into the kind of person that the kind of person you're attracted to would plausibly find attractive. Something you're clearly not doing already, because you have the dating profile of the hero, the protagonist, the One True Human, who is intrinsically attractive without having to grow as a person.

You're a Genuinely Bad Person and Deserve to Die Alone in Mustard-Stained Sweatpants

There is of course that special set of people who ... suck. They deserve to be locked away in a big metal box underground like that guy who killed Superman (or didn't, as it turned out. Presumably because he sucked at that too). Do you think that women are all conniving bitches who have an obligation to keep their legs shaved? Do you think everyone who differs from you in even minor ways is by nature subhuman? Are you looking for a glorified sex tube as opposed to a romantic partner because you essentially hate human beings? Well then nobody wants to date you because your sexist, racist, sexist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, misspelled, sexist dating profile helpfully conveys what a Poe's law-level of asshole you are, and the fact that you have proudly listed your failings as though they were virtues conveys that your pool of romantic partners is amusingly limited to Russian spambots (you two will make a lovely couple).

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Let's not beat around the bush: If you have ever cried "friend zone!" unironically, then I'm afraid you're not ready to participate in society. Oh, we'd love to have you, but with the lineup we've got, we can't see you making it off the bench. For those blissfully ignorant of the concept, the friend zone is that unbearable set of circumstances in which a person of the opposite sex is ... friends with you! As if life wasn't hard enough already, now you have ALL THESE GODDAMN FRIENDS.

So how could this potentially be a problem? Because -- and this is the optimistic interpretation -- some people can only conceive of a relationship with the opposite sex in terms of the differences between those two sexes: men/women are electrical plugs/outlets, and if the two aren't experiencing a brief, sparkless insertion, then the whole thing is clearly just pointless. Which would make perfect sense if the analogy wasn't as wrong as it's possible to be.

Try this one instead: Men and women are like ... two very similar configurations of the same species, who are mutually benefited psychologically and emotionally by ongoing socialization with each other despite the fact that it's puzzlingly rare that any two of us get along for extended periods of time. So, I guess, like cats? Cats might be the easiest way to crystallize that analogy.

Friendship is an endgame state, with a little flag and triumphant music and anywhere from one to six fireworks, depending on how long it took to complete the stage. And romance? That's the secret bonus level -- and if it wasn't, more people would have fucking found it. So when another person wants to be friends with you, it's absurd to presume that the two of you are moving in the exact wrong direction.

If friendship isn't good enough, then what else isn't good enough? Is it ... everything? I hope not. Work on making friends and connections for now, and then (surprise) maybe you'll find you become the kind of person whose dating profile is that of someone who genuinely seems mature and well-liked. What do you have to lose, other than a bunch of swords? (SERIOUSLY, WHAT IS WITH THE FUCKING SWORDS?!)

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