General Dating Questions/The next step?


Hi, Ali! :)

I'm Matt. I doubt whether you remember me, -- but that's OK. I wrote to you a while ago, first about getting a girlfriend, then again about making friends. You gave such awesome advice that I thought I'd come back.

A status update: I've finally made friends! I've added them on my FB even. The first time I've added people all year. I'm really starting to reap the benefits of my all of my hard work, and enjoying the fruits of my labor. My social skills are way better now, too -- I can read people, I'm way better at talking to girls, and I have a greater understanding of how all this crap works and what makes people tick.

Anyhow, adding people on Facebook is a huge accomplishment for me, because my number of friends is hovering barely over 50, but for most people, it's just this inconsequential, everyday thing. So I don't know if these people think as highly of me as I do of them. They're just so awesome. They're not like anybody I've ever met before: they're bright, really, really positive, and I have things in common with them. I wished them a Merry Christmas on Facebook and stuff, just to let them know keeping in touch with them matters to me. People don't really use the messenger, but hell, posting on their wall seems a bit intrusive and all-up-in-their-face-ish because I don't know them all that well yet (I've known them only for shade longer than 16 weeks [i.e. the length of the semester]).

So things are going awesome, Ali. Having said all that, I don't know what the next step is. I've switched schools. Thankfully its campus is right next to the other community college I went to. It's overall a better school with higher academic standards, more expensive (Thank goodness for financial aide, right?), and generally has better teachers (I'm studying philosophy and psychology now!!). My classes are going to be a lot harder than I'm used to, so I'll be busy between that and my volunteering. I want to know what the next step is. I realllllyyy don't want to mess this one up like my previous attempts at friendship. I was thinking that since the campuses are so close, I'd find out their schedules and see if they want to grab a coffee if our classes match up a little bit. They're the type of people that you can just talk to and never get bored. I have a lot in common with the one who's a Buddhist. :) Common ground, I'm finding, is better than I thought it'd be!

Is that a good plan? I just like to go with the flow with this stuff and keep it natural. Planning stuff seems kind of dumb, but I'm still new at this stuff.

Another update: I asked out a girl for the first time EVER! I think my voice cracked a tiny bit. You should have seen her face!! It showed surprise and flattery in this really cute high-school-ish way. They're always flattered, but they never say Yes. hahahaha So I'm proud of myself because that was a huge milestone for me. Plus, I'm always talking to people, and I'm actually really good with people, and I'm learning to talk to girls a lot better, too.

At this new school, I want to make a good impression on people, GIRLS ESPECIALLY, make new friends, do the Spanish club -- I'll need the practice; SOMEHOW I tested out of a year of Spanish (all that self-study paid off, I guess) -- and at the same time, keep in touch with my new friends. :)

So I need help, Ali. I'm treading in uncharted territory here, and I'm confused. There are no roadmaps or playbooks for this kind of stuff. It's trial and error mostly. I don't want this one to be an error. I've worked too hard and come to far to mess it up like I always manage to do so easily.

What I do?!?!

Thanks, Ali. I hope you had a good Christmas and solstice, and I also hope you have a great New Year. :)

Hi Matt,
Of course I remember you! I'm so glad to hear that things have been going well and that you're meeting new people with whom you really connect. That's fantastic news and bodes well for a good start to the new year!

It sounds like your new school will provide a great opportunity to challenge yourself scholastically and create opportunities for you to meet even more people. That said, you're dead on when you say you want to stay in touch with your friends from your former college. One thing to keep in mind when reaching out to your friends from the old college: they may be sensitive that you've "moved on" so don't say anything about trading up to a better school with higher standards and better teachers. That may make your friends feel like you're flaunting your new experience, or that you think less of them. I'm sure you already know that, but it's something to keep in mind with regard to being empathetic and thoughtful about how they may possibly be feeling.

If you have any private jokes with your friends from your last school, shoot them an occasional (no more than once per week) text or FB that incorporates that joke to let them know you're thinking of them. If they play Words With Friends or any other game apps, challenge them. Just remaining top of mind can help solidify friendships and make it easier to stay in touch when you want to hang out.

Since campuses are close, it's a great idea for you to get in touch and see if anyone can grab a coffee one day. Even if coffee in between classes doesn't work, hopefully you can find time to hang out or go see a movie or spend time together after classes end for the day. When people leave a social situation (such as your community college), it's important (if you want to stay in touch) for that person to be the one proactive in reaching out to make plans. In my experience, Matt, when people lose touch, it's usually not because they didn't want to stay in touch, but because they got lazy and never got around to initiating contact. So if you feel like there are people from your old school that you can continue to build relationship with, don't be afraid to remain visible to them.

As for meeting people in your new school, the general rule of thumb is that the busier you are and the more people you know, the more attractive you become socially to others. The more you do, the more stories you have to share with people, the more things you have to talk about, and the more experience you have knowing how to guide a discussion. Likewise, the saying "when it rains, it pours" exists for a reason. The energy you exude when you're busy and happy is something others can sense, and that's an energy that attracts other people. So, keeping all this in mind, be assertive and confident at your new school. The energy and excitement you have for starting this new chapter in your life is apparent - and you can let that shine as you meet new people.

People like it when you ask them for their opinions. So let them know you're new to the school and ask where the good places are to kill time between classes, etc. Asking for input is one way that shows you like someone enough to trust his/her recommendation and it usually creates good favor with people. With regard to meeting girls, perhaps you can scope out the situation. See if you can find any girls who might be on the shy side, Matt, and introduce yourself to her/them. Then, have a conversation. It could be about what they did over the holidays, over the new year, etc, or if they made any new year's resolutions. You could ask them if they have any tips for a new student, or if there are any good after-school clubs, societies, etc that they recommend checking out. You've learned how far being friendly can get you. Now, try to focus on making these approaches you've been taking second nature. You may find that once these become instinct and you're able to let go of focusing so hard on making connections, that you meet more friends and girlfriend prospects.

For meeting girls, have you considered trying Tinder or another online dating app? It might seem intimidating and there are certainly enough strange experiences that people have shared from Tinder, but it might not hurt to give it a whirl and see if you find anyone you'd like to go out with on a date. Even if it's not an immediate love connection, you'll have given yet another experience a try and if you don't like meeting people that way, you can stop.

Finally, remember that listening is the key to any relationship, whether it's a friendship or something with the possibility of romance. If you actively listen and understand what a person is saying, what's important to him or her, and what's going on in their life, you'll be able to respond accordingly. And people notice that. It's increasingly rare for people to actually pay attention these days, and it's noticeable when someone does. Just make sure to strike a balance between actually listening and over-listening. You don't want to make inferences that aren't there and you don't want to come across as judgmental. And if you hyper-focus on every single detail, that may come across as too intense. It really boils down to just paying attention and being sincere. Continue to be yourself, be friendly, and be approachable and you'll definitely meet some new people.

I wish you the best of luck in the coming year, Matt! Enjoy the new experiences and continue putting yourself out there! Happy 2015!

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I can answer questions related to "the chase"--whether to be patient or more assertive. I can answer questions regarding break-ups and moving on. I can answer questions related to flirting and meeting new people as well as how to inspire them to call you.


I have much personal experience as well as often play the role of matchmaker and advice-giver with many of my friends. I took several classes related to gender relations in college, giving me a solid perspective on communication between couples and what it means.

My writing has appeared on a website and various anthologies.

Graduated with a BA from Villanova University.

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