The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male office worker in my 20s. I’ve never dated anyone of the opposite sex before.
I have a normal interest in women. During my college days, I liked a girl in my seminar groups and gave her a present before graduation. (After obsessing over it, I finally bought her a bookstore gift card.) But I didn’t dare ask her to date me because I was afraid of being rejected. We ended up having just one meal together after graduation before the whole thing ended.
I also like a girl at work, but I can’t find a way to steer the conversation to nonwork topics. I’m unattractive and poor with words, and what’s more my paycheck is nothing to brag about, so I shy away. I spend my days pouring my affection on anime and manga characters and averting my eyes from reality.
When I see couples walking together on the street, I feel uncomfortable and jealous. What should I do to get rid of this gloomy feeling?
I, Osaka Prefecture
Dear Mr. I:
Thirty years ago, when romance was flourishing more than it is today, I would have advised, “Go for broke and tell the girl you like her.” But in these times, I feel like that kind of advice will just cause you to recoil.
You have the desire to go out with a woman and get married, I can see that. Also, you said you had a meal with a woman you like, and you also have a job. Because of that, I don’t think you’re the type to be rejected by women out of hand.
So, how about you forget about the past and find some kind of excuse to ask out one of the single women around you who strikes your fancy? For example, tell her there’s a restaurant that you can’t go to by yourself, or that you mistakenly bought two tickets to an exhibition.
The key is to think of it as practice for dating women. (Needless to say, you will have to cover the practice fees.) If one woman refuses, try asking another.
Once you get used to it, you can start going out on multiple dates. If you don’t hit it off with one woman, you can ask out another, or you can ask a friend to introduce you to someone. Or, if efficiency is what you’re after, how about signing up for a matchmaking service to find the right person? Try taking a lighthearted approach to the process.