Who to date? The looker or the bookworm?

Dear Alice,

I am writing because I have a serious problem — I can't figure out the guys at my university!!! 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’s a wide range of people you're attracted to and that's great! The more varied the individuals that catch your eye, the more opportunities you'll have to meet different types of people, discover your needs in a relationship, and determine what’s truly attractive to you in a partner. It also appears that your dilemma here isn’t necessarily how to choose between two types, but how to proceed with each of them. Taking some time to get to know each of them and to reflect on your thoughts and feelings may shine some light on where your heart is leaning.

With each of these potential partners, you may benefit from taking things slowly and looking beyond the exterior to the person beneath the surface. Cultivating a friendship with each may give you a chance to observe even more about what you find attractive about them and what you're looking for in a potential partner. Are they opposite poles of your own dynamic

personality? Do they embody qualities that you'd like to develop in yourself? Are you attracted to the stereotype of “looker” or is it more than that?

Have you tried striking up a conversation with the “looker” in the past? You may try to say “hi” back or ask him how he’s doing; it may open the door to show you’re interested in getting to know him, not just fawning over him. Maybe then you can ask him out for coffee just as friends, so he doesn't feel his religious values or current relationship is being threatened. If you’re worried about making small talk, try asking him about his hobbies and interests, what he's studying, or about his religion if that’s something you're interested in knowing more about.

When it comes to the “bookworm”, have you told him how you feel? You may consider telling him that you've enjoyed spending time with him and that you’d like to be his friend. Hopefully, this will help you to avoid any confusion about a potential romantic relationship, and also allow you to continue getting to know him. It’s also worth noting, A confused bachelorette, that dating someone or expressing your feelings doesn't mean you have to marry them. You may begin to spend more time with this person and find out it's not complicated at all, and you rather enjoy your relationship together.

After you establish a solid friendship with each bachelor and feel more comfortable with them, you can explore the possibility of dating one, both, or neither. If you'd rather wait to be asked out, being transparent about availability and interest in dating may encourage one of them to take that step. In the meantime, you might sit back and wait to see what happens—not just with these two individuals, but with anyone else who may come into your life. While exciting and fun, dating often involves taking risks, putting your emotions out there, and possibly being disappointed.

You mentioned that you want something easygoing over something complicated. Have you considered the specifics of what this means for you? What else are you looking for in a partner? Do you want someone whose personality vibes with yours? Or maybe someone who can introduce you to new things? Tuning into how you react both mentally and emotionally as you go through this process may open you up what you want and need from a partner—maybe even present you with someone or something you didn’t even know you wanted. Knowing yourself better and understanding why you’re attracted to certain people can result in deeper, more meaningful, and honest relationships—with yourself and others.

Good luck!

Last updated Jul 14, 2023
Originally published Apr 01, 1994

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