Miss Information

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"I'd like to just be fuck buddies with him—I really don't care about the emotional aspect of things."

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Dear Miss Information,

I am a 20-year-old at a large university that just got out of an on-off-relationship that I'd like to be finally over.

I've had my eye on another guy for a while. The thing is, we went out for coffee awhile ago and I think I might have texted him too much or something because he never got back to me after that initial coffee date, which was, admittedly, lackluster.

I'd like to just be fuck buddies with him—I really don't care about the emotional aspect of things. Should I just back off, having previously fucked up, or should I give it a try? And if so, how? We're not in any social situations together so if he said no I could just bury my shame in my private.

—Eager Student

Dear Eager Student,

If your first date was lackluster, how can sex with him be anything other than mediocre? Think: most of Liz Lemon's relationships. Or this make-out, which plays in my head far more than it probably should:

Horrible hook-ups are a cinematic goldmine, but you can do better than cringe-comedy. If he can't use his thumbs to text you back, he certainly won't use them for sexier endeavors. Aim higher.

Dear Miss Information:

My love life is stuck nowhere and I have no idea what I should be doing to change that.

I recently moved to a new city for a job, where I have a reasonable social circle of former classmates, friends from other schools, work friends, extended family, and so on. Compared to most guys in their mid-to-early twenties, I have not had very many relationships or sexual partners. I've had two serious girlfriends who have taken up most of my adult life. In the most recent scenario, my ex-girlfriend cheated on me when we attempted long-distance while I was in grad school.

In the interceding year and some since then, I haven't even gone on a date or had sex, and I've barely kissed a girl. I had a lot of opportunities to meet women but shied away from many of them or didn't make a lot of effort to turn flirting into a relationship/hook-up/whatever. I think I was wary of entering into a relationship, given that I seem to be bad at knowing when to end them.

So now I'm a young professional in a new city with a fairly demanding full-time job, a limited social circle, limited opportunity to meet women, and I spent my formative years as a young adult in a relationship, so I'm not exactly great at flirting and recognizing interest, either. I've been at this new job in this new city for a few months and while I've gone to my friends' parties, gone out drinking or dancing with various groups of people, etc., I could count the single women I've met anywhere near my age on one hand.

How do I change this? And if I do figure out how to meet more women who I could potentially pursue something with (or even just make more friends), how do I address my self-perceived deficit in the area of being young and single?

Hoping for some wisdom!

—Single and Stagnant

Dear Single and Stagnant:

Yours is part of a pool of letters I like to call the "I'm Broken Because"s. Two long-term relationships by your mid-twenties seems like the median to me—I don't see why it's a setback. At the other end of the spectrum are the "I've never had"s, who beat up on themselves for not having had a one-night stand or a non-vegan girlfriend or anal sex on a mountain. So I'll put it to you, and to anyone else who is embarrassed by their personal lack of life experience: what do you consider "normal" or "perfect"? Who are you mentally comparing yourself to? Because I'm increasingly convinced that person doesn't exist.

Put another way: my first kiss was when I was eighteen, and I lost my virginity somewhere around 24. (Liberal arts schools, man! What you gain in books you lose in ass.) And I turned out FINE. Your belief you're broken holds you back far more than any actual events do.

So stop the self-limiting and keep living your life. It sounds like you're already plugged in, which is fantastic! Try online dating if you haven't already; develop the charm to chat up cute strangers standing alone at concerts or the post office or squeezing tomatoes at Trader Joe's. Take a one-off cooking class or join a French conversation group. And know that the failure rate for anyone making new connections is bound to be fairly high, but if you put enough positivity out there, eventually it will pay off.

And when you finally find yourself sitting across the table from a cute girl, consider that her background is "imperfect" too. $10 says she is fretting about the many ways she is unprepared or ill-equipped, just like you. Stop picking at your salmon and worrying about disappointing her. Focus instead on building a real connection. The details don't matter when a spark is there.