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So I've tried a bunch of things to get an answer to this question, none of which have worked, so I figured why not try Stack Exchange, maybe you guys can help me :)

Anyway, here's the background: I'm a guy, in my early 30s. I'm a bit of a dork, my main hobby is gaming (all gaming, literally anything you can consider a "game" is something I will at least try once, although I don't like all of it; in particular the in-vogue high-graphics low-gameplay FPS genre is something I treat with utter disgust) and I'm a software engineer by profession, which means that I have enough money, but also means that I don't have a lot of opportunity to either be around the opposite sex or to exercise, so I'm slightly overweight (although trying to lose weight by dieting and have had mixed results). As far as I'm aware I have good hygiene (I shower every day etc, and nobody has ever mentioned to me that I have BO except immediately after I've done some activity which has exerted me to the point of sweating, which is understandable).

Now, the problem is, I'm having trouble getting girls (women, if you prefer; I prefer the vernacular "guys/girls" over "men/women") to go on dates with me. In general, the way it seems to go is I'll meet a girl, we'll chat about whatever, she'll sometimes mention that I'm a nice guy and whatever, and then abruptly she will stop talking to me, not respond to my IMs, tests, etc, for seemingly no reason that I can think of.

Now the thing is, as I mentioned, I'm slightly overweight but not massively obese (for a height/weight estimate, I'm about 5'10" 180 lbs and I don't drink beer so I don't have a beer gut), I have good hygiene, most girls consider me to have a good personality (at least that is the feedback I have received); it seems I'm checking all the boxes. But I can't seem to "close the deal", as it were (that is not a crude reference to sex, I just mean that getting second dates or keeping girls interested in me is profoundly difficult).

What I would like to do is get feedback on why I'm having such difficulty. Unfortunately I don't have many friends who can give me productive feedback; obviously my friends are my friends and they like me, because they're my friends; the ones who I've asked have given me either non-productive feedback or have given me feedback which isn't practical (e.g. "you're too fat, lose weight", which I'm trying to do but one does not simply drop 50 lbs overnight (when I started dieting I was almost 210 lbs now I'm slightly over 180) or "get some new hobbies", which is good but I don't know what types of hobbies to try). What I would like to do is get feedback from the girls who have rejected me, but the problem is they don't usually just flat out reject me; usually they just stop responding to my messages, so asking them anything is difficult. I also don't want to go up to random girls, who I am interested in and who are my friends (or at least friendly with me) and ask out of the blue "why won't you date me" or whatever, cause that's weird.

What are some things I can try to do to try to get real, meaningful feedback to improve myself?

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This is an incredibly hard question to deal with both online and in real life. There are a lot of variables at play, and it's extremely difficult for a given person to identify which of those matter, the exact circumstances you're encountering, etc. Someone might well be able to give very generic and obvious advice (like "get new hobbies"). Besides, people may not even have a strong, conscious understanding of what they respond to/do that other people respond to. And if they don't know, they can't just tell you.

But even if someone gives you ten things to do, and you do them, there's no particular reason to think these are substantial and decisive things that will produce the results you want. It is, in my opinion, extremely unlikely that these sorts of troubles are due to a handful of distinct, discrete "things", like (for example) liking D&D rather than SoulCycle.

Anything specific that I suggest is, at best, a guess which may have nothing at all to do with your specific situation. That said, I have two broad strategies that might be of some use.

The Cyrano Review

It's hard to properly convey the real context and events of what you're doing when you are trying to get or impress a date, especially when drawing from the things that you noticed and remembered (you already know all that stuff!).

But if you have someone who you think might have some good advice, having them nearby so they can see for themselves can bring a lot more of that context in. This could be as open as a group event where you're all together the whole time, or as removed as a friend who goes to the same bar as you and checks in on things once in a while.

Later your friend can talk to you about things. If you make an obvious misstep, you can get an honest report of it. If you miss an opportunity, they might be able to point it out to you. And there's no guessing about what signals you might imagine she sent (or did not send). If your date is just not a good match for you in terms of personality or interests, you can hear that (hopefully) unbiased report and know that there may not have been much else you could have done.

The Non-Date Perspective

It's been my observation that dating is not as different from other relationships as many people seem to think. There are some differences, of course, but someone who is able to attract people for totally platonic, non-date activities is probably someone who will also be able to attract people for dates as well.

With that in mind you don't need to be entirely focused on dates. You can aim to improve your social skills in dating-relevant areas without actually needing the scenario (and attendant pressures) of dates or trying to get dates.

Get out, meet people, and try to get together with people for casual events which you happen to enjoy. You'll probably have more opportunities to do this with people in general as opposed to the subset of those people you'd be interested in dating, which can give you more scope to try different approaches and see what people do and don't respond to.

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    So the thing is, I have a fine time getting my guy friends to hang out with me, and when I just feel like hanging out I usually call my guy friends and they usually respond. However, I have a hard time getting girls to respond in the same way. Your perspective is good, but the problem is I'm even one step behind that. The one thing I've found is that girls respond to me when they feel like I have something they want; however, once they get that thing, they stop being interested, and that's even worse... – Ertai87 Aug 28 '18 at 17:31
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    @Ertai87 It's always dangerous to assume that your understanding of others' motivations is complete, or even adequate. That applies to me making this comment, so take it for what it's worth. But from your statement it seems far more likely to me (from an Occam's razor perspective) that there is something different about how you interact with your male friends vs. female acquaintances than that every woman you've interacted with is fundamentally a user and devoid of empathy. – Upper_Case Aug 28 '18 at 18:04
  • The standard questions I would ask to elicit more information on what you're describing would be along the lines of "how many of these attempts have you made with girls, and how often was that the result", "how well did you know them first', "what did you invite them to do and why did you choose that activity", "how did you go about making the invitation", "how similar do you think your invitations were compared with those you offer your existing friends", and "what are your results like when inviting men you've known for a similar amount of time". – Upper_Case Aug 28 '18 at 18:09
  • I mean, obviously I would be more inclined to want to meet up with a girl I have an interest in more than meet up with a guy, so the interactions are clearly very different. The one common element to both is that they both tend to happen over instant messenger, so most of the interactions are in text; therefore things like body language, tone of voice, and so on, are more or less out of the equation. Failing that, if you can ask me more pointed questions, then perhaps I can provide more pointed answers. – Ertai87 Aug 28 '18 at 20:37
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    @Ertai87 This isn't a good forum for that sort of back-and-forth. My point is just that if you have two situations A and B with broadly similar goals (hanging out socially) but different approaches (one casual, one "date-focused"), and you are generally successful in situation A but not in situation B, then it's not unreasonable to try and make your approach for B more like your approach for A. A lot of people change their behavior more than they realize when they go into "get a date" mode, and to their detriment. – Upper_Case Aug 31 '18 at 14:12
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You have to be very clear about your expectations about "real, meaningful feedback". I think most people see no benefit for themselves in telling you 100% exactly what they think about you and your performance in dating. It could lead to misunderstandings, conflicts or guilt if they go too far. Would you dare tell one of your friends he is fat/unsexy/a loser/lazy/impolite etc? The same goes for women giving you their opinion and the effect is in fact stronger in this case, because there is always the fear of being overpowered. It also makes you look desperate in their eyes and they will lose some respect. Your guy friends might also have no idea what a girl wants. Are they popular with girls themselves? Finally, is there any really objective opinion? Ask 20 people a similarly open question (not about you) and see how little their opinions will overlap. As much as I would love some of that honest feedback myself, I think it is not worth the trouble.

From a first glance, it seems that you are intelligent and you pay attention to other people's responses, body language, etc. But you are trying to catch a signal (the girl's interest) in a noisy environment (irregular and half-honest feedback) by calibrating your sensors as well as possible (asking for honest feedback). There will always be some noise and this is something we have to expect. If you are always trying to reduce it, you will just perpetuate your insecurity.

Instead, what I suggest is to to embrace the noise until patterns start to emerge. Find an activity that you enjoy and that involves plenty of women, just to get a glimpse of how they think and become more comfortable around them. For me, that was social dancing (salsa, swing, tango, whatever), for which there is always a shortage of men at the higher levels. You have to work together with your partner and you often have to switch partners. It might also help you with your weight loss goal.

Good luck with your targets in any case.

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I think the feedback from your friends is real and meaningful. If they're telling you to lose weight, then take that as a sign to double down on your existing efforts. You've already shown you can lose 30lb, and of course it's not going to happen overnight, but you'll wake up in 3 years time and the weight you are then (and the consequent effect on your dating life) will be entirely determined by the effort you put in now.

Not that you have to wait till then to make meaningful improvements. Your friends have suggested that you get involved in hobbies; if you aren't sure what to do, then you should follow up. Ask if they can introduce you to some of the hobbies they take part in (and some of the girls they know through those hobbies).

Lastly, you mention that you have a hard time getting feedback from girls because you tend to drop out of contact rather than getting rejected outright. A relationship is not a job interview where you get feedback at the very end; it's an ongoing process of communication. If you're meeting a girl for a first date, ask her to be honest with you during the date about whether or not she sees things going further. Reassure her that you won't take things personally, and keep a humorous attitude so that you can at least give her the impression that that's the case. Get feedback early and often.

One thing that works quite well is to ask a girl what her 'type' or 'usual type' is. This gives her an easy way to tell you things she isn't keen on about you. For example, if she says that she likes really tall guys, then you might be able to tell later on that she rejected you because of your height. If she says she likes skinny guys, or guys who play sports or music, then you might get more of a picture into why you might not be fitting the requirements.

With any luck, you will get a bigger picture of what girls are after, and also see that, just as all women are different, so are their tastes in men. If you've been rejected because of your height, for example, then you know that there's no kind of self-improvement you can do that will change that; you just need to find a girl who is shorter than you in heels, or who isn't looking for a super tall guy.

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I think there are several different areas where you could aim to make progress. It is only based on a small amount of information, so please correct me if I am wrong.

  • It sounds like your self-esteem, especially with respect to dating, is not very high.
  • You don't get out enough to meet new people, and make contact with them.
  • You are not very skilled in interactions with members of the opposite sex.

These points seem quite independent, but they are actually strongly related. Improving any of these points also improves the others. If you are more confident, it is much easier to contact new people. If you are that social guy who jokes a bit with everyone at a party, girls will want to get to know you and come to you. If you enjoy life, and have a lot of fun, people want to be around you, we all want to have fun right.

Maybe you can try to improve yourself in fun way. Diet can also mean eating more healthy, and you can also lose weight and improve your health with new activities/sports. That is also a great way to meet new people and improve your social skills.

Try:

  • Registering for a cooking course and/or club. A great way to have fun, become more healthy and meet people at the same time. Also a great activity on a date.

  • Find nice activities or sports to do. The most important thing is that you enjoy it. Try new things, also things very different from what you usually do. You could force yourself to try something completely new every second week. It can be especially nice if you can bring a buddy with you. I am a typical guy guy, engineer, my favorite sport was kickboxing. But a friend dragged me to bikram yoga class, and I enjoyed it so much I registered. Never would have thought that, and I actually smirked and made fun of it quite a bit when she suggested it.

  • Try some club or group to meet new people. When I moved to a new city and country I joined some groups at meetup.com. I met new people and had a lot of fun. There is something for everyone there; book clubs, wine clubs, cooking clubs and going to bars clubs. Or try some gaming related clubs, I think they are also out there.

Last but not least, about social interaction with the opposite , I can highly recommend finding some information about something called the PUA, or pick-up artist community. This is a group of nerdy, analytical people, who have made it their mission to dissect the game of courting/flirting and romance in an understandable and almost technical way. I found it very enlightening and it helped me improve my social skills and understand people much better. The book 'the game' by Neil Straus describes how he came in to contact with it, became obsessed with it and got very good at it. It also describes all the facets about it in some detail. I found it very entertaining to read too. Be a bit careful with it though, some people almost get addicted to it, and there are also some weirdo's and creeps who are in to it. Never loose yourself, and always treat other people with respect.

Good luck with your quest, and most importantly, have fun!

  • OP isn't asking for advice, but asking specifically on how to get feedback from people who have rejected him. – John Gowers Sep 19 '18 at 17:15
  • You have a point, I'll consider adding something about that as well. – Orbit Sep 19 '18 at 19:16

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