Who to date? The looker or the bookworm?

Originally Published: April 1, 1994 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 5, 2008
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Dear Alice,

I am writing because I have a serious problem — I can't figure out the guys at Columbia!!! I'm kind of in love with two different guys. Bachelor #1, the god, is absolutely a feast for the eyes. He is exactly my "type." He always says hello to me when he sees me or stops for a minute, and he's always smiling at me — which I am told he doesn't do for everybody. I also know that he's currently seeing somebody (but not seriously). On the one hand I don't want to seem like just another girl fawning all over him; on the other I want to let him know I'm interested without offending his Christianity (he’s religious). HELP ME, what should I do, how should I proceed??

Bachelor #2, the dork, is absolutely at the other end of the spectrum — he's short and dorky, but when I met him I fell for his personality. He seemed like such a nice guy — quiet, and smart, and funny. Now I do like him a lot and do find myself attracted to him, but I definitely don't want to marry him — I'm not into one night stands and I would like to be his friend (and I know he's attracted to me), but I'd prefer something easygoing over something complicated — so what do I do with this one?? HELP!!

—A confused bachelorette

Dear A Confused bachelorette,

It seems like there is a wide range of people you're attracted to and that's great! The more varied the guys that catch your eye, the more opportunities you'll have to meet different types of people, see what works for you in a relationship, and discover what is truly attractive to you in the long run. It also appears that your quandary here is not necessarily how to choose between two types, but how to proceed with each of them.

In both cases you could probably benefit from taking things slowly and getting to know the guys for who they are beneath their caricatures of "the looker and the bookworm" (although this would make a great title for a romance novel). Cultivating friendships with each of these men will give you a chance to observe what it is about them that attracts you. Are they opposite poles of your own dynamic personality? Do they embody qualities that you'd like to develop in yourself? Knowing yourself better, and understanding why you are attracted to certain people, can result in deeper, more meaningful and honest relationships — with yourself and with others. While exciting and fun, dating can also be scary and frustrating. It involves taking risks, putting your emotions out there, and possibly being disappointed.

For the looker: talk to him when he says hi to you in passing. Make yourself not just another "fawning girl" but an actual person who's interested in getting to know him. Maybe ask him out for coffee just as friends, so he doesn't feel his religious values or current relationship is being threatened. Learn more about what he likes to do, what he's studying, and how he feels about his religion. Don't rush it, especially if he's made it clear he's dating someone.

For the bookworm: talk to him too! Don't let your friends play intermediaries. Tell him that you've enjoyed spending time with him and that you would like to be his friend. Hopefully this will allay any relationship fears or commitment issues he might be experiencing that would make him afraid to continue hanging out.

After you get to know these men better and feel more comfortable with them, you can try to date one, both, or neither of them. If you're feeling adventurous you can ask them out or express your interest. If you'd rather wait to be asked out, be open and available to see what happens.

No matter what the outcome, dating can also teach you a lot about yourself and what you're looking for in a partner. And any experience that results in greater self-knowledge is usually well-worth any confusion it can stir up. In fact, you might find that the confusion can be half the fun.

Enjoy! And someday perhaps you'll come across a gorgeous book-worm.

Alice