Dear Lifehacker, I am desperately in need of some relationship advice. I am infatuated with a young lady who works at a fast food outlet I frequent. I am forty-one and have never had any kind of a relationship or even been on a date. I had viral encephalitis at 14 which pretty much destroyed my self esteem, but I've decided to stop procrastinating and get on with my life. I really want to ask her out, but it's an extremely difficult situation because she is behind the counter or around other staff 99% of the time! What do you think I should do? Thanks, Worried Admirer
It's great that you've overcome your personal issues to get yourself out there. As the adage goes, it's never too late to find love! With that said, the current object of your affection probably isn't the best place to start.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to refrain from pursuing this person. For starters, most hospitality workers don't enjoy being chatted up on the job. When you order food from a cashier, you are taking part in a business transaction. Adding romantic overtures to the exchange is pretty inappropriate, even in the unlikely event that your feelings are requited.
There's also the age gap to consider. While I won't speculate on the young lady's age, I'm going to assume you're significantly older than her. This makes propositioning her for a date even more inappropriate.
Plus, if she rejects your advances, it will doubtlessly make future interactions awkward. The embarrassment might even force you to go elsewhere to buy food. (On a side note, "infatuated" is a pretty unhealthy way to describe someone you barely know.)
My advice is to put her out of your head and take a look at some online dating apps instead. The stigma that was once attached to these services has completely disappeared in recent years. There's absolutely no shame in attempting to find your significant other this way - indeed, many single people vastly prefer it to "traditional" dating. A lot of these services are also free to use.
There are dedicated dating apps for almost every conceivable customer, from fans of literature (Alikewise) and pet-lovers (DateMyPet) to beard-fetishists (Bristlr) and gluten-free singles (GlutenFreeSingles). Then of course, there are all the usual suspects such as Match.com, Tinder and OkCupid (you can read an in-depth review all three here.). Concentrate on one or join 'em all: nobody can judge you if you don't tell.
If you don't know much about online dating, you can find out all the basics — including the pros and cons — via our introductory guide. You might also want to check out these tips for crafting a good online dating profile. As with most things in life, the trick is to not put all your eggs in one basket and above all else, persevere.
This story has been updated since its original publication.