Dateless man wonders if it's because he's carless


August 29, 1993|By SUSAN DEITZ

Q: I don't believe I've ever seen addressed the problem of singles who don't drive. Obviously, this makes dating difficult, but I'm sure I'm not the only single person who does not own a car, and I find it hard to believe that none of them is dating.

My background: I'm 28 years old, a biologist with a master's degree and the president of a volunteer environmental organization. Despite this, I've never had a steady girlfriend; in fact, my last date was my high school prom 10 years ago. (Nope, not exaggerating.) I didn't meet anyone I was compatible with in college, except for one outstanding woman who turned out to have a long-term boyfriend whom she ultimately married. (We are still close friends.)

I went to graduate school and after completing my master's took my present job there. As far as meeting women, the story has essentially been the same: I've met some great ones and formed marvelous relationships, but they turned out to have been spoken for. As for the women in the organization I head, most of them are over 40. I work for the group because I love it and believe in it, but it has been hard to be in the minority age-wise.

I got so frustrated being alone recently that I gave in and did something I swore I'd never do: started answering personal ads. After writing four responses, I got a call back from a woman who was impressed by my letter and my credentials; she absolutely gushed over what I'd written. This changed quickly, however, when I admitted I don't own a car. I offered to meet her somewhere mutually acceptable, but her answer was "I'll call you next week" and that was that.

Some singles, like myself, put off owning a car for legitimate reasons. In grad school I earned less than $4,000 a year as a lab and teaching assistant. I took mass transit to school, and my sister drove me to my environmental activities. Now that I'm in better financial shape, I can realistically consider buying a car, but to put off trying to date until I settle the issue would only frustrate me more, I think.

I've continued to send responses to personal ads, this time admitting up front that I'd have to meet the woman somewhere. I don't really expect to get any calls back, but it makes me feel as if I'm doing something to better my situation until I'm driving on my own.

Are there dating options for people like me who don't yet own a car?

A: Only someone who has been without "wheels" can feel the frustration of the situation. (I have, and I do.) A car is such a potent symbol of independence, particularly for someone single and adult and supposedly living a life of mobility and freedom. Not being able to get behind the wheel and drive oneself to a chosen destination feels awful.

Right now you have three options that should both ease your frustration and solve this car problem: Start researching various leasing options at local car dealers to get the lay of the land; place a personal ad describing your strengths and omitting any mention of your car status; and arrange to study and take your driving test. When the answers to your ad come, you can truthfully say you will have to meet her for the first date because you're negotiating with a car dealer.

That trinity of options should expand your social life quickly. And when you are behind the wheel of your car, you will reap their rewards.

Q: I've been reading the personals and have answered a few so far. But I'm amazed at how women who have gone to the trouble and expense of placing them are so lackadaisical about responding. Even more frustrating to me than the singles/personals situation is the continued repetition of the phrases "All the good men are taken" and "Where are the real, caring, sincere men?"

I have been told by many of my female friends and the wives of friends that they wish they had met me before they committed to someone else. They are forever telling me how sincere and sensitive I am, how great it is to hear a man who is truly willing to communicate fully and honestly, that they can never get their husbands to talk that freely to them. And I get teased about my Tom Selleck looks, so I guess I'm OK in that department.

In my heart of hearts I know I'm sincere, romantic, expressive, loving and supposedly everything a woman wants. I don't have a big ego or carry a chip on my shoulder. I'm just a guy, a real, honest, human, emotionally capable guy. But do woman really want and appreciate that?

My main observation is that all these highly touted, greatly desired features and qualities can be as much a liability as if they didn't exist at all. The net result is that I continue to observe a never-ending frenzy of people looking for love in all the wrong places.

I'm 36 and have no biological clock, but I can tell you that what is ticking would welcome a real woman who wants me for me.

A: I hear what you are saying: The rat race is being won by the rats. But while that gets to be discouraging at times (I know), that must push you even harder to get out there and keep on looking -- in all the right places. Which eliminates singles bars and singles "soirees," singles dances; events billed as "single-anything" have a great chance of dispiriting you even further because they build unrealistic expectations and place unrealistic pressures to find the Right One and be the Right One to everyone you meet.

Follow your interests, build a secure and interesting singleness, and stay out there in the world of people. You have what it takes, just relax and let it show. Rise above the frenzy. Be yourself.

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