The Big Oh!


Dear E. Jean:

I have read enough of your columns now and the fab Conflab's accompanying advice to know that good men are out there and they often come when you are not necessarily looking or searching. However, dating has always been difficult for me. I am 30, and I realize that I do not believe I will ever find love; and what's worse, I don't think I deserve it.

I feel that I am "not like other girls,” meaning that I am unlovable. I am very much myself and do things I want; and I think that should be attractive in its own right. But that has so far attracted only a small amount of men, and the majority of them were not right for me, or straight-up abusive. I have an active social life and have worked in a bunch of environments in my twenties and yet, I never see men around me I find attractive (not even physically). Every couple of years I actually ponder whether I might be a lesbian, but I don't think that is who I am. Recently, I also considered whether I might be aromantic, but again, I have a big desire for romantic love, so I don't think I could be on that spectrum.

This year, I’ve gone on six Tinder dates so far and I am beginning to give up. I have been using online dating sites for seven years and all I got was two short-lived relationships without love, a sexual assault and many dates with men who were not able to even carry on a decent conversation. I am getting to the point where I am becoming a misandrist, and I do not like it. I am stupefied by the fact that I do not feel chemistry with almost anyone. I do not crush on people easily. And I feel weird about it. I see thousands of photos on Tinder and think that maybe just one or two of those people are immediately attractive and appealing to me. Isn't that too little? 

Don't get me wrong, I know what I can bring into the relationship and what my strengths are, but all my life, I cannot shake off the feeling that I am weird. Do people like me simply not fall in love? Not have relationships or marriages or life partners? And why am I not meeting any attractive men, despite working in dynamic environments, going out to events and bars? At this point, I feel it is statistically impossible to not have fallen in love and not have had a long-term relationship at my age. Sincerely —Not Like Other Girls 

P.S. I know the Conflab will ask: Have I been seeing a therapist? The answer is yes, I am seeing a therapist.


Not Like, My Nubile Nougatine:

So, I’m reading your question and before I can stop myself, I hear myself thinking, “Ah, poor young woman’s probably uglier than Cleopatra’s armpit,”—oh, yes, I’m gonna be blunt here—I shot out of Betty McKinney Carroll’s womb with a three-billion-year-old brain amped-up by evolution to A) wonder about your beauty; and B) judge your mating possibilities. Therefore, I beg your pardon, Ms. Not, but I Googled you. And . . .

Holy Moly!

I immediately send you an email:

Hail! I’m in the middle of answering your question and looked you up. (OBVIOUSLY, your identity will NEVER be revealed) but I’m curious—Is this you? (Link)

You reply:

Hi, E.Jean, yes, that is indeed me :)

I don’t respond to you with what I’m actually thinking, which is, Heavens to Mergatroyd! You’re built like a brick shithouse, woman!

You look, in fact, so much like a modern version of Ava Gardner, I’m surprised Frank Sinatra doesn’t kick the lid off his coffin and chase you all over Europe.

[Ravishing Reader, I don’t need to explain why I cased Ms. Not’s “joint,” now do I? Romance depends on two initial jolts: Ms. Not has gotta like a chap’s looks. And a chap has gotta like Ms. Not’s looks. Possessing the curves of a racing yacht causes interest. Interest causes attraction. Attraction causes love. And I just wanted to check—I beg Ms. Not’s pardon—I just wanted to check, after reading her prickly, but charming letter, if she was, in fact, wearing armor. Not that that can’t be hot...

But no. Ms. Not rattles nary a saber. Instead, in her photo, she is wearing a butter-yellow cashmere sweater. I always said, Give a woman a tight-fitting sweater and a tube of red lipstick and she can have any chap she wants. So that question is settled. (If you are a devotee of Jane Austen, you’ll understand when I say it feels like we’ve just reached the moment in Mansfield Park when Fanny Price and Ms. Crawford settle on what Fanny will wear to the Bertram Ball.) Now, back to Ms. Not.]

Forget your hog-twaddle about not “ever finding love” and not “deserving it.” Those are lies. If you think they’re true, talk to your therapist. Old E. Jean is telling you there’s no problem here, Ms. Not. You simply haven’t met enough men, or . . . women. You are a shrewder, sexier, more vivid woman at 30. And it so happens that the exact right age to meet a nice guy is 30. So let’s get on with it:

The Flirty-for-30 Plan (Guaranteed to Crank your Hurdy Gurdy… )

The more men you meet, the more men you’ll like. The more men you’ll like, the higher the odds of feeling attracted to one or two of them. Got it? Good. So. Pull up your bra straps, woman—cuz you know how I just said you didn’t have a problem? Well, you do have a problem. Your problem isn’t attracting men. (Dress a stuffed moose in a skirt, spritz her with Chanel No. 5, program her to smile and laugh at a chap’s jokes, and show a bit of udder, and that stuffed moose would do extremely well at any speed dating event.)

No, you are what Darwin talks about when Darwin talks about men “loving novelty.” Your problem is finding men who make your heart leap, your cheeks flush, your tongue tie, and your beautiful little friend, Miss Clitoris, lift her head and wink, so what you’re going to do, Ms. Not, is place yourself where there are high numbers of elite men.

These are the kind of sporting events where—hell, I could haul in my old bathrobe and it would meet more men than you have in the last 10 years: I’m talkin’ baseball spring training, Le Mans, The Masters, The Henley Royal Regatta, Ascot, the Belmont, the Breeders Cup (ahem). As a matter of fact, I can personally endorse the Men’s Room in the tony clubhouse section of Belmont Park 15 minutes before War Emblem, winner of the Kentucky Derby, winner of the Preakness, with the great jock, Victor Espinoza aboard, stumbles out of the gate, loses the Triple Crown, and my $200.

Why was I there? There were about 83 emotionally intense women lined up to use the Ladies’, so I dashed into the Men’s. Egads! The poor buggers were so dumbstruck when I whirled in—alone, unescorted, wearing my Vivienne Westwood thoroughbred-blue suit and matching Chuck Taylor All-Stars—nobody moved. It was a big place and smelled like Secretariat’s fundament. Ten or twelve statues that had recently been men were standing in front of the urinals. Then a rakish Black Jack Bouvier-type broke the spell by exclaiming, “GIVE THIS YOUNG LADY A STALL, GENTLEMEN!”—whereupon the statues started moving and Jackie’s father commenced pounding on the stall doors.

“Thank you, sir,” I say.

He all but dragged some poor fellow out of the first compartment and, with a bow lower than a jockey’s Jockeys, held the door open for me.

Ms. Not, do you think I could, under those highly perilous yet erotic circumstances, unburden my bladder?


However, as I left (to a gentlemanly ovation!) several of the fellows followed me out to the champagne table to ask “which horse I have,” and so on, and one rogue wanted to meet me later in the paddock.

If you can’t wait until the Belmont Stakes in June, just wait till you’re ovulating.

Then go where the men are—Boat Race night, prize fights, the Super Bowl, Burning Man, the U.S. Open, and the games, races, matches, tourneys in your city. I don’t need to tell you what to do when you get there. I’ve read your CV. Your whole career is organizing events, managing festivals, coordinating gallery viewings, curating conferences, etc., etc—precisely the wrong events for meeting multitudes of comely young single chaps.

Oh, you’re wondering about the ovulating advice? Not only do men find women more attractive when they are ovulating, but ovulating women find men more attractive, particularly the more masculine men.

It’s the other big Oh!

If you don’t like ovulating and finding masculine men attractive at events, put on something sporty—scarlet cap, pin-stripped shorts, your hot slavic blood in your cheeks—and try the batting cages, driving ranges, skeet clubs, hockey rinks, bike trails, and hang-gliding centers in your city. I don’t know which you like—swinging, hitting, shooting, skating, riding or gliding, so I leave the sweaty details up to you.

And you can always go to a “home brewers” meetup, and hope you don’t run into Brett Kavanaugh. Those affairs are lousy with creative blokes talking about beer.

Meanwhile, the Conflab will give you about 80,000 other smart ideas.

Finally, I love that you describe yourself as “weird,”—of course you’re weird. All the finest people are weird. But stay off Tinder. The apps are excellent for meeting a vast and marvelous range of people, but do Bumble, The League or Hinge instead. And if you ever start having throbbing daydreams about women, take a look at Her. And if anyone tells you to “wait,” or that love will “just happen,” or “if it’s meant to be, it will be,” tell them to shut up, and GO! GO! GO!


And speaking of weird . . .

There is a very, very weird person ruling our world right now, telling Joe Biden, the Democrats, and the Senate what to do. I refer, of course, to the Sphinx of Capitol Hill, the Dancer of the Seven Veils, Senator Kyrsten Sinema, triathlete fashionista, first open bi-sexual in the US Congress, the woman who can, as The New York Times said, “make or break a spending bill at the center of President Biden’s legislative agenda.”

Let’s just pause for a moment of silence as she passes by.

And here is Abby Disney. We gabbed this week about Trump, weird childhoods, and “What Do We Need Men For.”

Abby’s fantastic podcast, All Ears

And the Conflab is weird. They give the best straight-up advice on Substack!

The Conflab is where we hash over the questions sent to Ask E. Jean—and where our boisterous community regularly rescues mankind. Today, we’re solving the problem of Ms. Not Like Other Girls, a big fan of the Conflab. She believes she will “never find love,” and thinks she is “weird,” because she is 30 and has never fallen in love.

She wonders why she’s “not meeting any attractive men.”

Conflabbians! Here’s a woman who needs no advice about attracting men. She needs advice on how to find men attractive.

Can you give her any tips?

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Photo of race horse, Al Bellow/Staff, Getty Images; photo of Ava Gardner, Bettmann / Contributor, via Getty Images; photo of Milla Jovovich as Joan of Arc, Ronald Grant Archive, Rex Features, Columbia Pictures; photo of War Emblem, Michelle Wilkins, Getty Images; photo of Ava and Frank, Bettman/Contributor, via Getty Images; photo of Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Caroline Brehman, CQ-Roll Call, via Getty Images; photo of Abby Disney Sean Zanni/Patrick McMullan, via Getty Images; photo of Joshua Matz, E. Jean, and Robbie Kaplan walking into Federal Court: Jefferson Siegle for The New York Times.