“Why Don’t I Receive Much Attention From Men?”

Image by Ed Yourdon

Image by Ed Yourdon

The following is an email that I received from a reader. I don’t usually publish the private messages I get, but the issue she addresses seems to be pretty common, so I asked her if I could post her letter (slightly edited for length) and my response (in its full fury) here.

Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments if you have any insights of your own.



Dear Dennis,

Why do I not receive much attention from the general male population?

Before you proceed to trash this email, thinking it comes from some innocent 22-year-old who is fishing for compliments to feed into her sky-high ego, I assure you I am fairly educated with a decent self-reflection ability:

1. My looks are slightly above average at maybe 7.5–8.5 out of a scale of 10, depends on whether you are viewing me from the Asian beauty standard or American standard (I appeal to the older Asian generation more, apparently they think I resemble the movie stars from the early 80s’).

2. My body is not bad, average, 36-26-34, bit lacking on the booty part, but I wear butt pads to camouflage (curious of butt pads? Yes they are like a bra for your butt).

Now the important part is over. Let’s move onto the not-so-important ones:

3. I’m quite funny. In writing, or emails, or any communication tool that requires typing.

4. I do fairly well in the banking world, proper, conservative, and go home with a good pay.

5. I know a bit more outside my normal star magazine, and I don’t have Tourette’s Syndrome.

6. I volunteer for a cause I care deeply about and recently got invited to speak on TV.

7. I am quite logical and consider flowers to be a waste of money, and make sure I treat the date back after every two meals they buy.

Based on the resume above, I would think I could get the majority vote. However, when it comes to the world of dating, I could be sitting in a club alone while my 200-lb girlfriend is being hit on left and right, I can be completely ignored while a group of perfectly eligible investment bankers chat up to my girlfriend who’s one chromosome over being severely retarded, I can be brushed off from my dates for reasons such as “you are over the baby-bearing age” (I’m 30), or… “why can’t you be clingy and sweet?” Etc, etc, etc.

I do occasionally receive 100% appreciation from great guys, but it happens so rare that it might only have happened once or twice in my… 10 years of dating life.

Now with this long-winded bitter email, dear dating expert, can you please tell me, why?


Confused reader

It’s hard for me to provide feedback without actually seeing how you interact with others in a public setting. But, I’ll be happy to share whatever insights I’ve picked up over the years, as I’ve had quite a few female friends who’ve experienced this very issue.

First off, I’ll be blunt. If you’re talking about getting attention from the male population, this stuff matters:

1. My looks are slightly above average at maybe 7.5–8.5 out of a scale of 10….

2. My body is not bad, average, 36-26-34….

And this does not:

3. I’m quite funny. In writing, or emails, or any communication tool that requires typing.

4. I do fairly well in the banking world, proper, conservative, and go home with a good pay.

5. I know a bit more outside my normal star magazine, and I don’t have Tourette’s Syndrome.

6. I volunteer for a cause I care deeply about and recently got invited to speak on TV.

7. I am quite logical and consider flowers to be a waste of money, and make sure I treat the date back after every two meals they buy.

#3 will apply if you’re online dating. But otherwise, forget #3 to #7 and focus on #1 and #2, if what you’re hoping to do is stoke that initial attraction in men. (At least, that’s what I’m inferring, since you asked why you don’t seem to get much “attention” from the general male population.)

At the same time, you also neglected to mention the one other factor that’s just as important as #1 and #2: How you act.

I have a friend who, when she was single, would never get approached by guys. If she was out with a group of girlfriends, they’d be hit on left and right, while she’d be all but ignored. Now, this friend is attractive and fit, and when you talk to her, she’s totally friendly. Yet, her natural body language always gave off a “fuck off” vibe. She couldn’t help it, it’s just who she was. She just looked like a mean person.

One comment you made led me to suspect that you might have a similar issue:

I could be sitting in a club alone while my 200-lb girlfriend is being hit on left and right, I can be completely ignored while a group of perfectly eligible investment bankers chat up to my girlfriend who’s one chromosome over being severely retarded….

I’m not sure if you were just being snarky here, but the attitude implied in this particular sentence, if it’s the attitude you tend to take when you’re out with said friends, will likely be reflected in your body language and general demeanor. If you’re standing there, looking on with disdain as your “girlfriend who’s one chromosome over being severely retarded” is getting hit on, then… well, there’s your answer. You’re not getting approached because you’re acting like kind of a bitch.

This video pretty much says it all:


Granted, the video is supposed to be satire. But, it does actually make a very good point: If you’re out with friends, do you look warm and inviting, like you’re having fun and hoping to meet people? Or do you look like you’re stuck someplace you don’t want to be, with people you don’t want to be with?

My suggestion is to start paying attention to your friends who do get attention from guys. How do they stand when they’re out? What sorts of facial expressions are they wearing? Are they smiling and laughing? Or do they stand there with a half-scowl on their face? If they catch a cute guy glancing at them, do they look back and smile? Or do they turn away without acknowledging the guy?

And, oh yeah, stop judging your friends because you think you have the goods and should be the one getting approached. Because, seriously, that’s not attractive.

The bottom line is, it takes courage for a guy to approach a woman. Ergo, it helps if the guy thinks that she wants to be approached and will be happy to talk to him. And the way he gets that vibe is through her body language.

Again, without actually seeing you in action, I can’t say for sure what’s going on. So, all I can suggest is to emulate, emulate, emulate. Study what your friends who get approached are doing. And think about what you’re not doing.

And of course, make sure you focus on the traits that matter in this case. That you’re funny, or successful, or practical will certainly help make you attractive to someone looking for something deeper. But, if you’re not generating that initial attraction because you’re not considering the superficial qualities, then the guys out there will never notice you in the first place.

Personally, I think that’s a mistake tons of men and women make. They insist that they have attractive core qualities, and that’s what counts in the long run. So, that’s what they should be worried about. And yes, they are correct… to an extent.

At the same time, they forget that when we’re wading into the sea of dating, we’re all going to start at the shallow end. It doesn’t matter how beautiful the deep waters may be. If the shallows are filthy and disgusting, we’re going to walk away and find another ocean to dip our toe into. And this goes for both sexes.

I hope this helps. And good luck out there.

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  • You know, this actually helps me, as a guy!
    I generally try my best not to spend my time with people I don’t like, so when I see a woman that looks like she might be a bitch, I don’t even bother giving her a chance to prove me wrong, no matter how good looking she might be. Maybe I should start being more open minded… Though to be honest, I’m scared shitless by bitches, and it’s deeply embedded in my system to steer clear of women that look bitchy…
    Damn it, now besides the balls required to start a conversation with a “regular” woman, I also need balls to try it with a potential bitch! *sighs* I don’t know if I’m well enough testiculary endowed for such an ordeal…

  • Related to what the lady wrote about herself, I got a distinct feeling from her self-portrait that she really isn’t an inviting person, quite the contrary.
    Words like: logical, proper, conservative stand out, while I also noticed the lack of words like: warm, passionate, friendly. This… coldness also comes off to me as the general vibe of her self-portrait, together with a smudge of pretentiousness.
    I’m suspecting she might be an introvert, but I’m an introvert myself and I’m not cold and aloof – well, most of the time, and definitely not when searching for a date.
    Sooo, maybe she should try to loosen up and relax, in both her behavior, and her attire.

    Also, I want to clarify Dennis Hong’s conclusion of focusing on making a good first impression, on your “superficial” qualities – your looks and your attitude, because I’ve met a lot of people who misinterpret such a suggestion: people, he means being more friendly and inviting, NOT slutty!
    You don’t have to degrade yourselves, or act like you’re someone you’re not!
    You just have to help other people get close enough to you so they can learn what a wonderful/interesting person you are – your “deeper” qualities like humor and kindness and intelligence and being well-cultured and so on.
    I’m saying this because a lot of people I know (both male and female) made this mistake, and rushed to the other end of the personality spectrum, with less than stellar results.

  • Why wait for men to hit on you? If you find a man attractive, let him know. You don’t have to make the 1st move, 2nd move, and 3rd move, but you can certainly make the 1st move and see if he makes the 2nd.

  • I totally agree with Dennis here (and Andrei’s clarification). I used to have a similar problem…and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Really it was because I wasn’t interacting with guys in any meaningful way, at least initially. I froze up when they tried to talk to me or even smiled at me, I looked away when someone made eye contact. It was because I was shy and insecure – traits that I have since overcome, and I feel like perhaps the letter writer is doing something similar that is holding her back in a similar way. Making eye contact, smiling, making a joke or silly comment, just overall being friendly and open…these things will show men that you’re willing to engage and don’t come off as too aggressive. Another thing I think that helps is to not be too dismissive – if you interact with the opposite sex with only the express intention of getting a date, I think you’ll find you have much less success than when you interact with the intention of just talking to and getting to know a new person. It’s called just having fun – something that, from the tone of the letter, I think the writer could probably use a little more of.

    • Excellent points unbounded!
      Indeed, in my experience much better things come from “just having fun” than when actively hunting for a relationship – you’re more likely to meet someone you like, for either romance or friendship.

  • I agree and disagree with various things stated both in the main article and posts above, but here’s my two cents. Clearly you have a positive opinion of yourself. That’s great. Maybe the issue is more the “men” that you’re seeking attention from? There are lots of men and women out there who glaze over great possibilities because they are too focused on particulars that may not be realistic. It’s great that you can be honest and upfront and say things like you’re a 7 or 8/10 but how does that translate when you’re out looking to meet people? Would you chat up a 7 or 8 of the other gender? Or do you think to yourself “I’m too good for him, he’s not at my level”? You’re smart and witty and volunteer. Awesome. How do you view someone else’s passion, humor, and wit if it doesn’t align with your own? I’m not saying you should settle by any means, but often times, if I can make the stretch analogy, our eyes are bigger than our stomachs.

  • I disagree with Dennis about what is important and what is not important in this letter.

    After reading this letter more than once, I am not so confused as to why you are unable to get a date, I am more confused that you are able to keep a friend. Would you want to be friends with the girl who says this about you, while bemoaning her inability to get her own man, “I could be sitting in a club alone while my 200-lb girlfriend is being hit on left and right, I can be completely ignored while a group of perfectly eligible investment bankers chat up to my girlfriend who’s one chromosome over being severely retarded.” Maybe stop being such a bitch to the people who ARE in your life and maybe you’ll be able to attract someone who isn’t there already.

    • Goddamit you’re right!
      I was so enthralled by the video that Dennis linked to that I forgot about that part of her letter…
      Well, I guess she’s the girl in the video that really is a bitch!

  • You aren’t getting attention from men because you don’t deserve it.

    As other people pointed out less colorfully, you use language that makes you sound like a bitch. You EXPECT men to treat you a certain way because of the way you perceive yourself, and that’s your big mistake.

    Maybe your 200lb friend is hilarious and knows a lot about sports and has gorgeous eyes that light up when she smiles. Maybe YOU aren’t as perfect as you think you are. If anyone besides you gets attention from a man, I assume you’ll be annoyed, and that probably reads on your face and further deters people from approaching you. You have to seem LIKABLE and FUN and INTERESTING.

    Being an “8.5 with almost perfect proportions” isn’t everything. And honestly reading your letter made me not like you. If you’re anything in person like I read you in words, I wouldn’t talk to you either.

    1. Get over yourself.
    2. Get a better personality.
    3. Be nicer.

  • Wowzers to all the hate responses and it was entertaining. But am I the only one who thought she was just trying to be funny and stating the fact how she gets ignored under certain circumstances?

    I do, have girlfriends who suffer from similar situation. Despite the RBF, they also love to criticize, talk back, and call out the bullshits that men casually mentioined.

    Sometimes, we are just out there looking for someone agreeable to have a drink with after work, we are not completely ready for an intellectual debate after a whole day of exhausing work.

  • Everybody already gave very good points (you definitely sound like a bitch).

    However, I will tell you a little secret as it seems nobody knows that – and even you : investment bankers will never consider you proper girlfriend material. Those guys have brains, money and power. It looks like you do to. They are not interested in that – and less so because you have a fake booty (perfect proportions ? really ??), and a bitchy attitude.

    They just want gorgeous trophy girlfriends. That’s, as a girl fairly successful myself, one thing I learned. Men as successful as me will never consider me as datable. They need just a trophy and in this equation, only the good looks matter.

    It does not mean you are not good looking : my mates always tell me I am perfectly well above average in terms of my looks. But just not enough for what they would be looking for. And they don’t need someone who is professionally successful.

    You need to be looking at something else than status, money or power because chances are, you are far from the classical gorgeous black or caucasian beauties those guys are after !

    As for 200lbs friend : chances are, her face is more pretty than yours and she conveys a charm and warmth you are unbale to show to other. Learn from her, don’t be jealous.

  • All the messages here helped me a lot, you guys. To be fair and honest, I am exactly like the girl in the letter: a bitch… and a little bit chubby, which is in no way better. I am conservative and insecure, shy and obsessively realistic and I always keep a straight face. Truth is, if I try to act friendly and nice and inviting, I feel like my intelligence is somehow overshadowed by my good, cute girl attitude. I don’t want to come off as a innocent, naive girl, but that’s what acting friendly makes me feel like: it hides my ability to show that I am an intelligent woman. How do I get over this?

  • If I’m being honest, it’s probably because of her ethnicity more than anything. Sometimes girls in ethnic minorities can be quite pretty, whether she is indian, Chinese or black etc. but men will ignore them point blank because they’re not white or light enough. It has nothing to do with how attractive the girl is, just her race. And it’s not racist just personal preference plus society says lighter skin is more beautiful. I have a friend who is Jamaican and on the darker side who I think is really beautiful, but she often gets little to no male attention and it’s not because she’s ugly but because she is a black girl I think.

    • This is complete garbage and bullshit. There are plenty of fat ugly Asian women that can easily land men and men hit on them Or black Women or whoever. Men will go for a creature with a vagina and if she happens to be an ugly female they’re OK with that Reason the poster is getting ignored is because she’s pretty and the dumb men are insecure

  • Anyone can try this. I found it and tried and now feel much relaxed. I think that it`s the point.

  • I have bitchy resting face. Despite this I have had non stop compliments on my looks and body throughout my life, but yet, am always alone. I am a person who is permanently depressed…..always have been. With that has come a lot of anger, and eventualy I’ve become a shutdown cold, nasty unfeeling human. There’s no point in going into why here. But ultimately I would say that looks are way down the list when it comes to being successful in love and life. Personality and attitude are key. Positivity, kindness, openness and humility. Work on yourself while you’re still young.

  • Haha this is how it is. Men hit on the ugly fat women. As a gorgeous woman. Too all men do is abuse me ignore me or play games. If you’re pretty all men will do is play games with you try to dominate you and that’s it

    • And this has nothing to do with your race
      I’m a gorgeous Indian woman and I look like a movie star. Well Pakistani. However I don’t look my race I just look like I should be a Victoria’s Secret model

      I can pretty much tell you that men will never hit on beautiful or gorgeous women all they do is play games and abuse them. I even went to a matrimonial speed dating event and I was the prettiest woman there
      I was bullied by everybody including the men
      Some men didn’t even want to talk to me again even though I’m cool and laid-back and a cool person

      However they all were excited to talk to the hideous fat girl next to me who is also a really rude person
      It’s funny to watch men can treat a hot girl like crap and hit on the fat ugly rude girl This is how the idiotic men today are

  • This post was really helpful; I find myself in a similar position! I do think the writer was trying to be humorous not mean though. The comments have also been useful- I just may have an aura of resentment. I have a pretty face but have piled on the pounds of late; I do get approached by men, but they’re not my type *sigh*

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