Dear Audra,

I seem to have trouble finding the kind of guys I want to date. I’m a happily independent lady and trying to find a guy who can meet me where I am so we can relate and laugh.

Most guys I meet seem to either want me to take the lead (no thank you, please) or don’t seem to have any direction or goals to have a direction (they don’t need a plan just like, parts of a plan is fine).

Where should I be looking for the funny, self-confident fellows who kind of have their shit together? Is there a secret clubhouse I don’t know about? If so, I would like to submit my application.

I Want You But I Don’t Need You


This is a real good news / bad news situation, I’m afraid. The truth is, most single (or non-monogamous) women I know are struggling to find quality men to date. Even more demoralizing is that of my friends who are paired up, many of them are dealing with dudes who regularly display more than one trait of the man-babies who we talked about last week.

In the last year, two articles got a lot of play in my social media feeds: The Dickonomics of Tinder, by Alana Massey and The Cuteness Matrix, by Clementine Morrigan.

Massey encourages women to internalize that “dick is abundant and low value,” and warns men that they are going to have to start putting actual effort into getting laid.

Morrigan is less optimistic, pointing out that “there are so few guys who do not have serious issues with being misogynist and fucked up towards feminine people, and there is an overflowing abundance of cute, rad, babely, smart feminine people.”

The Venn Diagram of these two pieces is this: Not enough men are putting in enough effort to be the kind of people that smart funny femmes want to date. Any advice I give about how to meet dudes has to acknowledge that.

But what if you are a femme who wants to go on a date with a dude before patriarchy is dismantled? Then what?

I’ve got some ideas.

Let’s talk about location; you ask where you should be looking for these guys. If we’re talking about a physical location or event to stake out, it’s worth asking yourself, when was the last time you met anyone new who you actually wanted to spend time with? If the answer is “2011,” then you probably need to make some changes in order to meet someone you’d want to date (or someone whose friends you might want to date). So trite as it is, I recommend all the usual tactics to broaden your social circle: go see bands you like, take classes you are interested in, do activist work that fuels you. Be brave enough to strike up conversations, and tell yourself it is the other person’s loss if those conversations don’t last.

If we’re talking about meeting people online, I am a big believer in OkCupid. I have two male partners, and I met them both on that site. There is a lot of justifiable exasperation out there for the world of online dating, and a ton of mediocre dudes are going to send you the word “hi” and expect you to somehow manifest enjoyable chit-chat out of that. I treat the site the same way I treat Google: being as specific as I can about what I am looking for, and culling those search results without mercy.

I message anyone who interests me (rather than “liking” them and waiting for them to message me). My inbox is also filtered to only show people with whom I have over an 80% match. Finally, I use this Chrome extension to help me screen for the some of the most important personality traits I require in a partner. The extension will pull in the OkCupid match questions that apply to these categories and let me know how each potential match answered. Here’s a little peek behind my curtain:

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.54.38 AM

What I like about this extension is that it forces you to determine what values you want your partner to have, and it takes care of the heavy-lifting in analyzing the presence of those values. Because knowing what you want isn’t always enough.

For example, you say that you want a dude who “kind of has his shit together,” but what does that mean to you? Is it about his career? His education? Having a close-knit community/group of friends? Being a good cook? Owning a home? Being organized?

Sometimes we need to fine-tune our rubrics. Here is an example from my own life: My partner Chris is the total sleeper hit of my dating life. He didn’t have what I had come to look for as “cultural signifiers” of what I was looking for. He dresses kind of preppy. He knows and cares about sports. Our only friends in common were Toronto indie rappers. He had a skull tattoo he didn’t even really like that he got “because it was funny.”

These examples sound daft and shallow, because they are, but we all have inherent sorting processes that are just as inane.

But in Chris’s OkCupid profile, which I only found by searching for dudes who like hip hop, he filled in the “I spend a lot of time thinking about…” section with this:

“How to make the future, both mine and everyone else’s, better than the present. I haven’t come up with a lot of definitive solutions, so if you have any, hit me up.”

Something about it really struck me, probably because I find it super rare for a dude to talk about wanting to make the world better for other people without some smug “disruptor” idea to do that, an accompanying manarchist missive, or a bunch of volunteer tourism pics in his profile. I was completely charmed by the empathy Chris displayed by saying he wanted to improve things for other people, and the humility needed to admit he had no clue how to do that.

By the second date, it became clear that he is one of the most kind, hilarious, and reliable people I had ever met. I came to love his button up shirts so much that I have since stolen many of them. I learned that what he loves about sports are the stories of the people involved and the labour practices at play. He is now a close friend to many of the people most important to me.

And that skull tattoo? It turned out the real reason he got it was because a friend of a friend was doing an apprenticeship and had run out of people willing to be practiced on, so he stepped in to help.

We celebrated three years together last autumn, and I like him more every day. Falling in love with him wasn’t about settling for someone without the qualities I was looking for (all-too-common dating advice), it was about realizing those qualities could present themselves in ways I hadn’t seen or considered before.

So I guess to sum it up: be choosy about who you bone, while sadly recognizing that decent adult men remain rare. Meet new people in order to meet people you want to date. Be willing to do a lot of data crunching to meet someone online.

Most of all though, know what you want and be able to recognize it in less-than-obvious forms. To this end, I recommend the very unromantic task of making a list of what those traits are, and how those traits can manifest. You might be surprised at how often you have no idea what these criteria actually look like in action, or how many pages you can fill in breaking down what “having direction” can look like. Send me your list – I’d love to see it

And men? Do better. Seriously.

Best of luck out there, everyone!

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