Please excuse my hiatus. I've been working on a post and it turned out to be really long. It's basically the dating manual I always wanted but never had. I sent it to a friend to ask for some feedback and she pointed out the obvious: it's really long.
I'm going to publish a series of blog posts, each of them being a single topic from my original post. I'll publish one or two per week.
"Hello? There are two people stuck on an escalator and we need help!"
The first rule of dating is that you have to do your part.
The easiest way to go about dating is to ask someone on a date. Be bold. After a few rejections, one becomes accustomed to it. It always hurts, but it's easy to shake off and move on. Ask questions. Open up and share your thoughts and feelings. Choose to love – first as a friend, with room for romance later on.
Many women feel that it's a man's job to do the asking (a valid opinion, if not the only one). Regardless of who does what in a relationship, gender should not be a crutch. If you don't ask people on dates because you feel that it doesn't fit your gender, that's fine – but be sure you don't believe that it fits your gender because you don't want to have to take any risks.
There is plenty that can be done in dating besides asking people on dates. You can go to places and do things that allow you to meet people. You can encourage people you'd like to get to know (some people call this flirtation). You can make yourself your best self by learning, becoming more physically fit, by improving your dress and grooming, by growing financially, and in many other ways. You can start conversations. You can make it easy for others to start conversations with you. You can lower the barriers that prevent people from actually getting to know you.
Of course, it's possible to be active without acting intelligently. Since my objective is a happy, stable marriage, repeatedly asking someone out when I know I don't want to marry her is acting but isn't acting in a way that will help me reach my dream. I should also be sure to focus my efforts where they're most likely to be productive; for example, I might do well to meet people in social venues where most of the women aren't college freshmen. There isn't anything wrong with freshmen, but they're unlikely to be a good match for me. So if you're trying hard and aren't seeing results, ask yourself what it is that you want and what you might do that would be more likely to help you get there.