Savage Love Letter of the Day: Don't Worry, Dating's Hard for Everyone

Comments

1
I don't much about the pickings in Portland, and I wouldn't necessarily advise the LW to up and leave her friends and life there. BUT it has long seemed to me that for women who are past college and looking for a relationship with a man who holds a professional job, the Bay Area has got to have some of the greatest odds in the USA.

Of course, in this particular case, the LW would also have to be ready to deal with being one of the few black people in the area, which she might or might not find comfortable.
3
i walk by his woman in seattle at least seven times a day. she never even looks at me.
4
@2: Yes, she did. First sentence of the second paragraph: 'Most guys seem to only want to "try a black girl" in bed. (I absolutely hate when people say that. A vagina isn't different because of my skin color.)'
6
Presuming that there isn't some other problem like being too picky, I'm thinking the problem is with the LWs friend circle. If all of your friends are partnered up with kids, that chance encounter with the peripheral friend who she just clicks with is exceptionally unlikely to happen.

For me:
Relationships that have come from online apps: 0%
Relationships that have come from friend connections or hobby connections: 100%

She needs to join whatever physical activity sportsball club thing or activism group or book club or whatever that fits her interests and has opportunities to develop friendships with people who aren't in a completely different place in their lives. In my experience, stuff happens pretty easily from there.
7
My near perfect guy (with both an amazing penis and delightful tongue), ended up being a construction worker with bad teeth and a prison record. He treats me like I've always wanted to be treated: with respect, love, and kindness. So yeah, keep an open mind and don't write people off.
8
While "try a black girl" does in fact come from an inherently "privileged" place... it's good advice that everyone should follow and maybe we wouldn't be *quite* as racist in the medium term if this were more of a thing.
9
@2, 4 Are you really that dense, or are you just trolling (or most likely both)? When guys talk about "trying a black girl", it clearly means they are not black, and it is a phrase often used by curious asshole white guys. Are you technically correct that she never mentions white guys? I suppose. Is is possible that she's exclusively dated Asians and Latinos who say racist shit (even though they themselves are people of color, and also exposed to the exact same practices)? Again, sure it's mathematically possible.

It's also mathematically possible that tonight I'll win megamillions, my wife will give me a hall pass to fuck Kate Upton, and I will indeed fuck Kate Upton by night's end.

In other words, stop being being a coy asshole.
10
As for finding professionals in Portland, I thought most baristas in that city already come with a PHD.

Sargon @ 5
It’s obvious she's talking about white guys since she mentioned she’s black and Portland is not in China.
Nothing wrong with, “Oops, I guess I missed it,” instead of making up excuses and hanging on to technicalities.
Happy Valentine’s nevertheless.
11
Jello Biafra @ 9
Once you're done please tell Ms. Upton I just got some really cute Valentine's outfits that I’d love to show her some time.
12
LSBG, getting out to classes, events, and volunteer opportunities which put you in position to meet new people are all good ideas, but I wouldn't swear-off using one or two different dating websites/apps. Online dating can connect you with a large pool of potential partners, and help you identify potential partners who closely match the person whom you are seeking.

Also, make sure that you're not just a passive participant in your own love life. Take the initiative, whether you see someone in person or view someone's profile online.
13
LW if you are reading this. I hear you. Hell I am you (minus have to deal firsthand w/ the weird, racist ignorance of PNW ppl) My brother lives in PDX. He has a GF, but he also has TONS of amazingly wonderful, educated, savvy, funny wonderful friends. I would so love to help you meet them!
14
@1:
For women who are past college and looking for a relationship with a man who holds a professional job, the Bay Area has got to have some of the greatest odds in the USA.

Of course, in this particular case, the LW would also have to be ready to deal with being one of the few black people in the area, which she might or might not find comfortable.
You're referring the the San Francisco Bay Area, right? Where more than 7% of the residents are black? As opposed to greater Portland, where fewer than 3% are?
15
Try dating outside your type--a lot of the 'on paper' stuff is a lot less important than we think it is. I have two Masters degrees and a professional job, my husband barely made it through high school and is a chef (an amazing one!) who learned on the job. He is by far and away the kindest, funniest, warmest man I have ever met and he makes me feel loved and secure every day. I truly shudder to think about the happiness I would be missing if I had nixed him based on our differences. Also, it sounds nutty but if you can afford the cost and time to care for an animal I highly recommend it--pets are amazing at giving us unconditional love and dogs especially get you out and about. Rescues rule!!
16
A dog is also a great conversation-starter. I live in Portland, and I had a houseguest who brought her dog. We took the dog to pubs and shops and craft fairs (I particularly recall REI) -- Portland is famously dog-friendly. I was always happy when my friend handed my the leash and went off (to fitting rooms, for example).

The dog and I would wait together. EVERYone stopped to talk to me! I'm the classic fat, fifty-something female, but the dog is a gorgeous athlete (German shorthair).

Some of those conversations could have led to more, if I were looking. OTOH, my houseguest -- 10 years younger, single, well-groomed, with an athletic build --was almost never approached when with her dog. So apparently it takes a beautiful dog and an approachable expression.
17
I like Dan's advice, but I wonder if we have any commenters on here who can speak as black women in Portland; I feel like "oh, dating's hard for everyone" could be a little bit colorblind.

LW, maybe you already do this? but do try going on dates with guys who you're pretty sure you wouldn't want a long-term thing with, if they seem fun. Sometimes people start applying their Relationship Material filter very early, it can be a vicious cycle from getting frustrated at how hard it is to find somebody. Even if a guy is absolutely not right as a package, people may find that one of what they thought would be a reason is not one actually.
18
>"A dog is also a great conversation-starter. "

So is a loaner dog. Someone you know has a dog. That dog would love to go to the local off-leash area. At off-leash areas, single people (married people rush home to spouses and kids) hang around, chat first about the dogs and then about other stuff.

Unlike a bar or club where you have to make split-second decisions about taking it the next step, if you go every Thursday after work, you'll see the same people there. They'll see you there. If there's some chemistry and common ground, something might develop. Even for us less out-going types. Especially for us less-outgoing types. Isn't it easier to imagine approaching someone / being approached by someone who you've seen a few times already? And by chatting about dogs and the weather first instead of high-stakes first-date topics?
20
"Try a black girl"...ugh. As if yours would taste different - like chocolate, right? If it's possible for one all-too-privileged white person to apologize for all of the bad shit that you and so many others have experienced from too many racists over too many years, please let me be the one. If it helps you to know that the Obama Presidency and all of the (white officer) police shootings and rough treatment of unarmed black men and women have definitely helped to raise my consciousness about white privilege in recent years, I'm glad. I will be your ally as we all work together to survive the Trump Presidency.

I'm with others on this chain in thinking that you are more likely to meet a compatible lover by joining clubs and activities that interest you personally, regardless of their face value as hook-up venues. I agree with Dan that you are unlikely to meet anyone who scores an A+ on all your checkpoints; at some point we do all have to settle - but I'm ambivalent about settling in terms of professional and educational achievement. I do know of one very happy marriage in which she is a Ph.D. university professor, and he is a high-school graduate (possibly GED) construction worker. I also know of several marriages that failed, largely due to vast differences in educational and professional achievement. Personally, I think I could be happy with a partner whose career was not of equal status to my own, but it would be a dealbreaker if they were unable to engage me knowledgeably in conversation. So if not a college graduate, I would require someone who was one hell of a self-taught scholar and constant reader.
21
20
Hilarious.
Did you copy that from The Onion?
22
CMD @10: You win the thread! New lingerie has clearly boosted your mood. Happy V-Day to you.

LSBG's "Most guys seem to only want to 'try a black girl' in bed" makes me wonder if she is being racially exclusive. Surely black men don't want to "try a black girl"? I know there are fewer of them in the Portland dating pool, but it sounds like her "I have no race boundaries" might actually mean "I only seek men who are not the same race as me." (I'm reminded of the old goat who only wanted 20-30something women and chastised them for being ageist when he wasn't... ahem.)

My advice for LSBG would be to try a geek in bed. Want to meet men? Chess club. Board gaming meetups. RPGs. She'll be in a minority of women there, with many single men to pick from. As they say, "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." Geeks are intelligent and many are successful IT professionals. Not all have bad skin and live at home. They may not be classically handsome but many are excellent lovers. Go geek, find what you seek!
23
@ 22 BiDanFan:
"Most guys seem to only want to 'try a black girl' in bed" makes me wonder if she is being racially exclusive. Surely black men don't want to "try a black girl"

Um, it's Portland. There's like 3 black guys, and I'm pretty sure they're all taken.
24
I thought that when the LW mentioned looking for a professional with a college degree, she was 'wanting what she was supposed to want'; she was at her wit's end, craving love and affection, with her friends all partnered up and coming out with boilerplate. She rather struck me as having an 'open heart' and 'open mind', being willing to date the doctor, the baker, the candlestick maker.

My suggestion would be the same as that of many other commentators: to decide what's she's really interested in, passionate about, maybe outwith romance, and pursue that--sports, activism groups, book clubs, worship, hobbies and so on. Or else to have a self-mockingly prescriptive and specific idea of who she'll date (e.g. a tall black guy with glasses into fantasy novels and white adult rock) and to look for that (to look for him). The specificity of what she's looking for will get her off the hook for not finding him at once emotionally, while in her own mind she should understand that she's in a position to say 'yes', potentially, to anyone promising. And it will get her out there without fear and with a sense of purpose.
26
Let me chime in and say it's a good idea not to be too hung up on paper professionals. I ultimately married a man who was "only" a high school grad (I have a doctorate). He is also up to four cs patents and works way up the chain at a Fortune 500 tech company. My desire for a degreed man was cured by my douche first husband (plenty of trump supporters went to college). So the question is what does the degree symbolize. For me it was hard work, intelligence, dedication, foresight, and an openness to know information and new things. All things my ex lacked btw, despite the degree. All things my current husband, who had no degree when we met, demonstrated. I think lw, follow dan's advice about joining groups and getting out there. I also would sit down and look at what your list means.
27
@14 (Fred)
Portland is only at 3% black population?! Wow. When I visit SF I always wonder where all the black people are, so Portland would be a real shock.

I just looked it up: Minneapolis, a famously white town, has over 3 times the percentage of black residents that SF does (18.6 versus 6.1). I had naively thought they would be similar.

With 3%, the odds that any given boyfriend of our LW will have previously dated a black woman are very slim. Even the ones who are not deliberately "trying out a black woman" are liable to be giving off that vibe. I can see how that gets tiresome.
28
Speaking for geeks everywhere, I would like to second @22's advice :)

@9 Thank you for shutting down that nonsense.

Please don't get a dog as a way to meet people. Dogs are for people who want the companionship of an animal and are willing to put the work in to train them and are willing to commit to years of care. That said, I met a lot of people volunteering with the SPCA. The staff and fellow volunteers are all amazing people and they hold regular events where they bring a group of dogs in public to promote adoption. It's also mostly single people who have the time to commit to that kind of thing that volunteer there.
29
@27 Are you going to Bayview/Hunter's Point?

Are you going to the the East Bay?
30
Marriages in which the woman is the larger/major breadwinner are less likely to be successful.
According to studies.
Because the dynamics of the relationship will run contrary to what both partners are innately hard-wired to want from a relationship.
(sure, there are gushing testimonials here from professional gals who found a rough and rugged guy, but those Harlequin romance relationships are few and tend to not last, see above...)
Which makes life tricky for gals like our amazing LW.
In our society women are more likely to go to college and grad school and make higher incomes in most urban areas.
Men are less educated, leading to less income.
Plus a considerable percent of them will be in prison.
The pool of guys that LW will deign consider is really small.

Turns out in an economy with only so much income to go around if you focus on raising women's share of the pie the pool of desirable males is going to shrink.

Gloria and the Libbers said women would become their own husbands.
They weren't kidding.

Welcome to Feminist Utopia.
31
And for every woman living the Harlequin romance dream of a polished professional affluent woman shacking up with a rugged cowhand there are ten living the reality of the house husband boinking the nanny/maid/babysitter.
Men don't thrive as kept boys and inevitably will seek a relationship with dynamics more suited to their innate desires.
Don't forget the study in NUT magazine; not only did women lose their sexual desire for their house husbands but those men also lost desire for their breadwinner wives.
You can't fool Mother Nature.
32
31
....NYT magazine......
33
Yo truther @ 30, 31, 32
Forget the researches and the magazines. Tell us how your views work for you in real life. Are you married? In relationship? Do the kids like staying at your place every other weekend knowing how awful mom was to choose a career?
What are your struggles and joys other than telling others how to live theirs?
That kind of stuff.
34
POS @ 31 - "NUT magazine" - What a beautiful Freudian slip.
35
Longtime reader, first comment.

Except for my age and location, and that I no longer give a fuck, this LW could be me. Since apparently no one else here has the specific expertise to explain her issue, I will.

Especially when you are an educated black woman, and come from a middle class or upper middle class family, dating someone without a degree is "unacceptable".

I used to do it, and my family treated me like I had the plague. Additionally, we didn't have a damn thing in common. It is difficult enough to find a black man to date who doesn't think I am an "Oreo" or other pejorative term because of my choice in music, friends, and clothing. They generally ignore my social conscience, my love of most music (no, I don't listen to current "rap"), and the fact I attended a HBCU for undergrad.

Most people are not going to understand her background, whatever it may be. She might find some unique being that is brilliant, didn't go to college, but has enough life experience and empathy to deal with her life, but that's most likely not going to happen.

Also, for me, (I don't know about her),I found it ridiculous that people wanted me to date someone with no college degree when my parents have PhDs. The level of discussion during holidays, even for fun, was a bit high level for someone who isn't interested in using their brain.

When my white friends have rules about dating people with college educations, they are applauded. But people look at me and say "aren't you being unrealistic?""Why didn't you marry Xxxx?" This is why I gave up looking for "the one" a long time ago. I just have sex with people until they bore me, and enjoy spending time with my friends.

I wish I had an answer for the LW, but you will either meet that person, or you won't. Don't force it, and don't settle.

36
Your point about degrees is 100% right, @jadegreengirl. It's weird advice. Regardless of race, a college degree is a major socioeconomic/cultural dividing line.

Some of the commenters who've mentioned they've opened their mind and found love with degree-less men are actually women who are 50+. Among the generation that grew up in the 50s/60s/70s, not going to college was feasible; more people didn't go. It's plausible that an intelligent, interesting, nice person chose a different path in life but could still click with someone who chose the college route.

Since the late 80s/90s/now, a college degree is the equivalent of a high school degree. You don't go to college because you're smart of whatever: you go because that's what you DO if you're a member of the lower middle class or above. As a 37 year old, I can't imagine having anything in common with someone who didn't go to college. Not because it's impossible that that person is smart etc., but because they grew up in and currently live in a completely different sociocultural environment (again, regardless of race). Their upbringing, their family, their current job and social groups: they might as well be living in a different country speaking a different language.
37
As a perennial singleton, I agree that the only way to meet someone is to get out there and socialise. But I disagree that you'll definitely meet a lot of people doing things you like. My interests are: going to museums and galleries, the theatre, independent/world cinema, reading about history, walking, body pump, pilates, and travelling. Men in their 30s hate all of these things, except travel. So this year's battle plan involves: a dating webite with some good photos, clubbing, Meetup.com events, and speed dating. Sod-all luck so far, but I'm going to keep trying. Good luck, letter writer!
38
Thanks, @ MeganCA, for the affirmation. I actually get a lot of that "date anyone" advice from women in the age group you mentioned. People in our age group realize it just is not realistic to expect someone with a graduate degree to mesh with a high school graduate. It CAN happen, sure, but chances are it won't happen.

Also, there isn't such a stigma with being single these days. I have a lot of single, divorced, and sadly widowed friends.
39
Jade @35, thanks for contributing your first-hand cultural perspectives to this discussion.

"Don't force it, and don't settle" - I agree with Part A of your advice to LW for sure, and with Part B as it applies to professional and intellectual equivalency. But realistically, we all end up settling somehow in our relationships. "The One," the ideal mate, doesn't actually exist, as I'm sure you've read here many times. You have settled by choosing to remain single, essentially giving up the search for a compatible long-term partner to focus instead on short-term relationships with a series of lovers. You imply that you select your lovers for their sex appeal rather than for their brains, and rely on your network of friends for cultural and intellectual stimulation. And apparently that has been a much better choice for you than settling for a man who does not possess all of the qualities that you want your life partner to have. Life is long though. Never say never - you may yet meet "The One," or at least a very close facsimile, even though you are no longer actively looking!
40
@ 35 - "The level of discussion during holidays, even for fun, was a bit high level for someone who isn't interested in using their brain"

There are loads of reasons for not having a college degree. Most of them have nothing to do with not wanting to use one's brain (hint: they're generally economical, especially in the US, something that probably wasn't a problem for someone of your privileged background).

If you only dated people who wouldn't use their brain, that's on you.

Personally, I thought most other students at university were dumb as fuck and should have been selling fashion accessories instead (which is undoubtedly what they ended up doing). Still, they all got the same diploma I did.

41
@40 Yeah, I thought she went a little hard suggesting that not having a degree means you don't like to use your brain. This has been my experience- I'm in my 30's, I have a master's degree and most of my boyfriends (my husband included) did not graduate college. Hell, my husband got his GED! He actually has managed to secure himself a professional job in a niche field because he's intelligent and a hard worker, working himself up from the warehouse. A college degree does not guarantee a thoughtful, intellectually curious person any more than a lack of degree guarantees an idiot. Some people just aren't good in a school setting.
42
That's why I wanted to include the "you probably don't realize this happens" perspective.

I think some successful minority families put extreme pressure of their children in regards to education. I probably am a huge snob when it comes to education. However, I would date someone that went to a community college or demonstrated extreme aptitude and satisfaction in scholarly pursuits.

As I wrote, I dated people who didn't attend college. They were generally so turned off from learning about my background, or just not comfortable if they met my parents, that we stopped dating.

I definitely don't believe in the concept of "the one", or I would be married right now. I can't compare my college experience to yours, I was a science major, and a geek. I had a social life, but if I wasn't getting "A"s, I was stressing, and staying up all night studying. Most of my classmates, at least the ones I paid attention to, went to graduate or professional school.

I've been a nerd/blerd ("black nerd") for quite some time.
43
Wake up folks. There is a dearth of eligible men out there because they have come to realize that being in a relationship and even marriage is a bad deal for them. Men are going their own way because there is a 50/50 chance that she will destroy his financial and psychological life by divorcing him after she has his child/ren. She will take half of all that he has worked for all of his adult life, he will pay her alimony for an indefinite period of time. He will pay child support until the youngest child is 18 and still be expected to pay for college. She will poison that/those child/ren against him so he cannot expect to have a relationship with his own children. He will lose all of his friends because they were "their" friends and she gets them in the divorce settlement. He may even lose his own family because she has told enough lies to them that they see him as the bad guy. He will live in poverty for the rest of his life in a studio apartment driving a 10 year old Toyota Corolla. He probably will become an alcoholic and may even commit suicide in the end because he has lost everything and has no reason to live. Don't say this doesn't happen. It happens every day in gyno-centric America. Sane men are disappearing before they will sign up for that deal. They are Men Going Their Own Way.
44
@36 thanks, appreciate your writing from what you know.
45
@43 thanks for expressing what you know too, dear.
46
@36. Holy ageism batman. I am a rickety 41 and married the college grad first. Didn't work. I married the non college graduate second. He did complete his undergraduate and get a doctorate over the seven year span we've been together, graduating summa cum laude. So no not all of us are decrepit out of touch oldsters...!!!!

@Jade. As a white chick, I can't speak to your experience. So I will listen.

@30. You must hate men. According to you, they just can't compete with raw brain power with women. Hear that girls? We gotta clear the field. Can't take those job from the men folk or they won't want to marry us.

Your stats re earning is manure btw.
47
@43. Wow. You really are a misogynist. Why do you think men are the weaker sex....
48
LW: I go to the gym, malls, grocery stores & there's no men there. . . . How do I meet professional men and approach them?

Dan: No men at the gyms, malls, or grocery stores? Did radical feminists kill all the guys?

"there's no men there" is likely code for...

"I go to the gym, malls, grocery stores and, while I see a lot of guys at those places, very few of them are tall, attractive & professional-looking, and the few tall, attractive & professional-looking guys I do see don't approach me and I'm too scared to approach them."
49
37/Roseanne: But I disagree that you'll definitely meet a lot of people doing things you like. My interests are: going to museums and galleries, the theatre, independent/world cinema, reading about history, walking, body pump, pilates, and travelling. Men in their 30s hate all of these things, except travel.

Surefire way to meet a man in his 30s: find a wizard who will turn you into a phone. Men in their 30s love their phones. When a man in his 30s is looking at his phone (which would be 24 hours a day if he didn't have to sleep), he is thinking "God, you are so beautiful. I love you so much. I love holding you. I never wannna let you go."
50
Jade @35: Thanks for your perspective.
What I'm taking away from your post is that paramount among your dating goals was finding someone your parents would approve of. Whilst that's absolutely your prerogative, not all of us share that goal. I'd like to join Ricardo in pointing out that a lot of idiots from rich families went to college and a lot of really clever poor kids didn't have the chance. I'm currently dating someone with a master's degree and someone whose abusive family background didn't lend itself to his finishing high school, let alone college. They are equally clever; one has a you-want-fries-with-that job and one works in IT and makes twice as much as I do, and you'll never guess which is which. At least you seem to accept that the price of being too picky is not having a partner, which again is absolutely your prerogative.

@30: A Commentor by any other name is still a troll.
51
MGTOW: Living in a studio apartment and driving a 10-year-old car is "poverty"?
AHAHAHAHAHA. There's white male privilege for you.
52
@43 50/50 chance that she will destroy his financial and psychological life by divorcing him after she has his children.

Please get counseling. You never had an adult life - you're clearly a fucking child. And if that's your attitude then all of the poisoning was done by you.
53
@49 Thanks for the laugh :)
54
@BiDanFan, I don't need my parents "approval", but black family dynamics are different. Again, I've dated plenty of people my parents hated. But there is nothing worse than spending required family time (I live in the same metropolitan area) with my family, and even as a grown adult, get the "side eye" for my shitty choice in partner/date.

That being said, I recently came out as bisexual to them. I'm actually pansexual, but they wouldn't get that. They don't care. I have plenty of friends who never attended college, and my parents love them.

I don't have any interest in getting married, I haven't since I was 30. If I meet an ideal person for a long term relationship, I have one.

Don't try to apply your family dynamic to mine. They aren't the same. Sadly, I can only discuss these issues with people of color without getting the "you care too much about your family". My cousins have similar issues. One has an awesome child with someone, and refuses to marry her partner because of "their shitty family". She doesn't care what her parents think. She's been conditioned to have certain ideas, and knows what is "acceptable" in our family.

And before one of the undesirables on the board makes a comment about single mothers, she has a professional degree, and makes in the high six figures a year.
55
@43 - I sincerely doubt that any of the WGTOW will honestly give a damn. So you have fun buggering each other in the deep woods, darling.
56
jadegreengirl, If it is any consolation, I get what you are saying. I am in my 30s and have a college degree, while my husband did not finish college but has 30+ years experience in his field that requires not only the ability to work with his hands, but also an understanding of physics, trigonometry, and geometry. The reason it works is because he is intelligent, curious, able to relate to my family, etc. So in our situation, him not having a degree is not a deal breaker. I can easily see where having a significant other who is incompatible in ways that are important to you and can't follow the conversation at a family event would put the kind of stress on a relationship that causes it to fall apart. It is not seeking your parents' approval, so much as him just not fitting in and falling by the wayside. You were not a snob about them having a degree, you gave them a chance and natural selection weeded them out.
57
Jade @55: Thanks again for the reply and the insight. Always interesting to see other perspectives.
58
Hi LW! If you're still reading the comments I just wanted to say your letter made my heart go out to you!

I suspect you're already doing the right things to meet someone, but here's a few you didn't mention outright.

Professional events in your field might be a great place to look. I have a male-dominated field, so the ratio is good for meeting men, and I've met a few romantic partners this way.

You didn't mention bars in your list of places to go to meet people. I live in a big city and generally have great luck in bars! You can pick a bar in any neighborhood--pick one that attracts the type of person you're interested in. If people ask if you're alone just say you're "waiting to meet a girl friend." That's just kind of just a thing you say when you're a single woman at a bar. It works somehow.

I am a WW and in no way want to invalidate what you're saying about dating prejudices, UGH. I THINK white people are less prejudiced in person. Online there's the added dimension of FEAR OF RACIAL EMBARRASSMENT--fear of accidentally saying something racist, fear that it's racist in some way to date a black person at all, fear that dating them and not wanting to see them again will be racist somehow. This is TOTALLY JUST STILL RACISM, it's just a different facet of racism. Point is, some people who wouldn't message you online due to racial anxiety might still be anti-racist and might fall for you in person.

Make sure your friends know you're looking to meet someone, ESPECIALLY when your partnered friends get married! Seating your single-and-looking friends next to one another at your wedding is simply good wedding etiquette. (Engaged people, take note!) And if you have the chance to give a toast at a friend's wedding, make it absolutely charming, and maybe mention in a fun way that you're single.

Your friends may on occasion do that thing where they're like "huh, yeah I wonder if you and Jason would be a good match, hmm, hmm, how can we make that happen, hmm" and then never do anything to set you up with Jason. When that happens: GO IN FOR THE KILL. CLOSE. CLOSE THAT SHIT. Say "great, is he on facebook? Yeah he looks interesting, what's his number?" Or say "sure, send a group text, say we should get together." Remember: GROWN PEOPLE DO NOT NEED AN "EXCUSE" OR A CUTESY COINCIDENCE TO MEET UP FOR THE PURPOSES OF POTENTIAL ROMANCE. You might have some anxiety about "appearing interested," but in my experience as a woman it's good to be bold in your statement of initial interest--after that you can chill out and play it however you want, be elusive or whatever.

Your school may have alumni events in Portland. I've never met anyone at an alumni event, though, so your milage may very. But it could be a good place to practice approaching people.

Public transit is a pretty good place to pick up men, if you feel safe doing so. What you want to do is get their number, not give them yours. Practice saying: "hey this has been fun, I'd love to go out sometime, wanna give me your number?" You will FOR SURE know if they're interested, but lots of men lack the presence of mind to go for the kill and get the digits. Also practice saying "hey this has been fun, but I have to finish this e-mail I'm the middle of, have a nice day" in case you want to end the interaction.

Don't give dudes your number if you don't want to! If they ask for your number say "how about I get yours?" Be as direct as you need to be. They're gonna say "why don't you want to give me your number, don't you want to see me again?" say "I don't know if I do, I'm going to think about it." Then I would probably not call those guys ever. All of this is good practice stating things clearly and negotiating boundaries.

All of these methods will result in MOMENTS OF REJECTION, which is a necessity, since at its core, your task now is to is TAKE LOTS OF SHOTS. So I empathize when you ask "how do I get out of this funk of depression," because avoiding the fatigue that comes from looking for a partner can be really hard.

As a WW, I've come to feel there is a sad, unbridgeable gap between me and the men I meet. I think of gender privilege as like, a pony. I know men have troubles of their own (more importantly, I know some men get REALLY REALLY WORKED UP if you mention troubles women have without also mentioning male troubles) but male privilege is, overall, a good thing. So no matter how much I might get along with a man, no matter how feminist he is, we'll always be, on some level, a kid who has a pony and a kid who doesn't have one. It's sad. I can't imagine how it must feel to have the additional divide of being a black woman in a mostly white city.

I can tell you from my own dating experience, the single biggest thing I did to feel more powerful and free in my romantic relations was to learn to brush off romantic failures and just ignore/forget about completely anyone who isn't interested in me. And practice helps!

I wish you good luck and that you meet someone soon, and dump them very quickly if they turn out not to make you happy.

If you like advice columns, you might want to check out Captain Awkward, who has lots to say about meeting people.

Good luck!