I’m having dating problems

Last night's pick-up contest was fun. I meant to write down the winning pick-up line but I didn't, and now I can't remember how it goes. It was something about underwear, a watch, and a time machine.

Also, there's a cool date auction thing tonight. I can't go myself, but I happen to know that some Love Letters people are involved.

And ... I love this letter.

Dear Meredith,

These days, I often find myself humming Lady Gaga's "Speechless."

I'm 25, have had a few involvements that were complicated (in the real-life sense of the word, not the Facebook status), but never a real, capital-R relationship. Most of my life, I didn't get much attention from guys, and was not all too happy about it. The first time I asked out a boy, in seventh grade, he said yes and then forgot! Later, he turned out to be gay.

Lately, I've been making an effort to put myself out there -- trying online dating for the first time since college, asking out friends of friends, etc. I've met some interesting characters, including a "Beowulf"-loving Trekkie from Jersey and, no joke, a UPS delivery man. (Yes, there was much innuendo about packages!) But I've also dealt with a string of painful rejections.

The Trekkie and the UPS guy, both of whom I met on OkCupid, came on strong at first. They complimented me a lot and seemed really into me. The Trekkie, with whom I spent four hours talking on our first date, even bought me mini-cupcakes! But they each suddenly lost interest after two dates. If you're wondering, in one case there was some sandwich-making -- not quite a grilled cheese, more like a tuna melt. In the other case, we didn't even kiss. You can probably guess which was which.

Then I met a really cute guy through mutual friends, and we clicked on all the levels. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this was the first time in my life this has happened. We had a wonderful time going to the trampoline park, watching "Firefly," and making bad puns (and no, none of those are euphemisms, although I do enjoy joking about punning linguists). Everything seemed so promising. We were hanging out almost every day, and he was talking about spending time together months down the line.

And then he gave me the "I don't know what I want, I'm in a weird place, I don't want to lead you on, blah blah blah" spiel. It turned out the real reason was that he had met someone else.

I've developed some good coping strategies: crying along to 90s rock (some favorites: "#1 Crush" and "Stupid Girl" by Garbage, "Novocaine for the Soul" by the Eels, "What Do I Have To Do" by Stabbing Westward, "6th Avenue Heartache" by the Wallflowers, "Long December" by the Counting Crows, "Runaway Train" by Soul Asylum"), and smashing tacky Valentine-themed mugs from the dollar store. But I'm still having a rough time.

My question is: how do I hold onto my confidence? How do I fight off the (sometimes overwhelming) urge to become bitter? Will there ever be guys who like me and want to be with me, and if so, how on earth will I be able to believe they really like me?

– Speechless of Somerville (I know Speechless in Somerville would sound better, but I wanted to be SOS!)

How do you stay confident, SOS? Let me tell you. There are some 25-year-olds out there who aren't dating at all. There are other 25-year-olds out there who are dating, but can't make a tuna melt with someone to save their life.

You're totally normal. Because getting past the second date at 25 is difficult. Everyone is in a "weird place." Everyone is trading up. Everyone is ... well ... 25.

For some people, dating around is fun. For others (like you), it's a pain. You probably want some instant rewards just for putting yourself out there. It doesn't work that way, which stinks.

You're hilarious. You appreciate the genius that was Joss Whedon's "Firefly." You are wicked smart and know that "Beowulf" is not a "Twilight" character. You like Love Letters and aren’t afraid to break cheap mugs.

I'm not worried about you. I know you'd rather have a great boyfriend than date, but you have to keep dating to get a great boyfriend.

As for believing that someone really likes you when they say they do, well, that's just a question we all have to deal with. There are never any guarantees.

All you can do is keep on truckin'.

Readers? Am I right? Want to date this LW? Want to validate her? Any song suggestions to add to her mix? Advice? Discuss.

– Meredith