DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a 35 years old man who recently broke up with his girlfriend for 3 years, because I couldn’t handle the fact that she has had several lovers before me and I was an inexperienced virgin. I keep comparing us on that and I feel awful.
My life is severely messed up due to family problems and as a result I have always been alone, feeling disappointed and with low self-esteem. I abstained from coming close to women. I met her through common friends.
She really loves me and I know I would have stayed with her, if it wasn’t for my constant urge to meet and have sex with other girls as I have never done before and “bridge the experience gap”. I never cheated on her and neither did she have a problem with me being inexperienced.
I feel I have lost my one and only precious love with whom I would like to spend the rest of my life. How can I proceed, feel good with myself and come back to her after all? I know from her own words that for the time being she is still there for me, showing her true love. Can I make it or do I have to cope with her loss to truly find myself and “grow up”, finding love with a new mate?
The thoughts that I am old, I don’t have many chances to settle down and that there will always be an abyss of experience separating me from the girls around my age buzz in my head and drive me mad.
Thank you very much in advance!
Virgin In The Wild
DEAR VIRGIN IN THE WILD: I get letters like yours all the time, VitW. Every time it’s someone who feels like there’s a window closing and that if they don’t somehow make up for their utter lack of experience, they’re doomed to never date, ever. When they do find someone, they then get anxious over the difference in numbers; they feel as though that their lack of experience means that either they are “missing out” somehow or that they need to balance out the scales so that they’re more equal with their partner, somehow.
Not that anyone can explain what equality is supposed to bring, exactly.
Here’s a truth: your experience – or lack thereof – isn’t the problem. Your problem is the importance you’re putting on it. The number of partners you’ve had is ultimately meaningless; it doesn’t mean anything other than “you slept with X many people”. It doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a more desirable person; people have sex for reasons that have nothing to do with the person they’re banging. It doesn’t mean that you’re a better lover; people can have lots of one-night stands because they’re selfish dicks who never get a return engagement. It doesn’t mean that you did anything right or wrong or anything else.
Here’s another truth: there is no amount of sex that’s going to be “enough”. When you’re trying to derive your value through how many people you’ve slept with – especially when it’s in comparison with how many people your partner has slept with – then all that’s going to happen is that you’re going to (maybe) rack up notches on your bedpost and still feel empty and unfulfilled. You’ll be trying to fill a bottomless hole with sex and wondering why you never feel any better about it.
The “experience gap” you’re worried about isn’t relevant. If someone is going to judge you based on how many people you have or haven’t slept with, then they are someone you don’t want to be in a relationship with. Someone who’s right for you is someone who accepts the number of partners you’ve had – whether it’s 0, 1 or 100 – as just part of who you are. There will always be people who’ve had more sex than you; that’s ultimately a null value set because it has nothing to do with you.
Being with someone who’s had more sex than you doesn’t mean that they’re judging you and thinking “man if only I had someone who actually had more than me.” It means that they have chosen you. You can either trust your partner and accept that they’re telling you the truth when they tell you that they want to be with you… or you move on.
And you, VitW, can’t seem to accept someone at their word.
Now it’s time for the Chair Leg of Truth: right now, you can’t go back to your ex. I’m sorry, but doing that is just going to destroy any chances you have of actually making that relationship work. One of the things I always tell people who want to know whether they should get back with their ex is that if you haven’t resolved the reasons why you broke up in the first place, you’re just going to replay your break up the second time around. Second verse, same as the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse. And you, VitW, have yet to deal with what broke you up.
You don’t need a loudmouth with a blog, my dude. You need a therapist. You need to find someone who can help you pick apart these issues and give you the tools to get your head on right. Until you do that, trying to rekindle your relationship with your ex is just going to cause more pain. If you don’t know where to find a therapist in your area, then you may want to start with the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists and find someone to your area.
I’m sorry that you’re hurting, my dude. But you need to address that pain before you try to date again. It’s the only way things are going to get better.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m having issues with my love life. As much as I want to, I can’t help but feel like there’s something wrong with me that’s holding me back. When I was younger it was a competition between my mates on who could get more numbers/hookups/dates. So… I put a lot of time and effort into it… And have had a fair few long term relationships (OK not really, the longest was 3 months), but so many hookups and flings. I would like to see them again or more but we make out/do stuff/have sex for a week.. Two weeks and then it fizzles out for some reason.
I do the swipe right on everyone on tinder so I have 767 matches… Don’t get replies all the time I guess a lot of the girls I talk too don’t take it all that seriously. Erm.. Had a really good “copy pasta” message for OkCupid and Plenty of Fish, anyway that’s besides the point. Over the past 6 years that I graduated high school I’ve gone on something like over 1000 dates (yes I realize that sounds partly vain/sad/unbelievable and believe me I wish it weren’t the case).
SOMETHING ALWAYS GOES WRONG!! Of the last 3 girls I was talking too, I’m mates with one of their exes, one blew off our date and stopped replying (happens fairly often) and I err kind of got irritated and blocked one because I thought she was leading me on (She wasn’t. I’m not prone to this kind of behavior but it does happen every once in awhile, was much more common when I was younger).
I dunno what I’m doing wrong, mate. I’ve always had really low self esteem and thought I was ugly. It doesn’t make sense because I model for a living? (Like fitness/fashion/pageant); I don’t have 6 pack abs… But I’m reasonably fit I think.
I have a physical disability, and I think it also contributes to my self esteem issues and depression and anxiety issues. I just really identified with what you said; thinking “I have chemistry with everyone who gives me a chance” and the mindset of thinking “women have all the advantages in the dating field”.
I also seem to have issues with narcissism and ego problems. It’s hard to explain; like I used to get super butthurt when women didn’t reply on fb messenger or something silly like that. I don’t anymore because I’ve seen my exes inboxes and how many nonsense messages something could get lost in or whatever.
Could my attitude towards women be bleeding into my interactions with them?
Rational and obvious thought says nobody is owed sex and you are not entitled to dating someone, or their time. Nor is it a “needed” component of life. I just find myself super lonely without it, wondering and being jealous of all my friends who are in long term relationships..
And I find myself feeling like I’m singled out and victimized, even though that’s completely out of left field. I mean it’d have to be one massive conspiracy to specifically target me out of everyone else in the world so that’s totally silly, but yet it’s how I feel.
I’m just tired of being alone. I don’t want to take the stupid red pill anymore or have angry poisonous beliefs about women or “alphas and betas”; yet all I can think about is “I’m ugly, and the good looking guys are the one’s who have all the luck. Stupid douchebags with 6 pack abs! Rawr Anger! Stupid women for wanting to go out with attractive men!”
That was a heavily over dramatic version buuuuut.. I think you can understand the gist of what I feel?
I don’t want to end up alone. Maybe I should get a kitten or something?
– Guy who thinks he’s ugly but is probably just woefully average
DEAR GUY:Um, my dude, I think you need to look back over what you just wrote to me. You mention feeling as though that having a physical handicap gives you a disadvantage and that you’re unattractive in one paragraph, and in the other mention that you’ve had multiple hook-ups, flings and literally hundreds of matches on Tinder.
And then we’re back to the idea that you’re beta and ugly.
To quote the sage: “You keep using that word. I do no think it means what you think it means.”
So straight talk: yes, your attitude is bleeding out into your interactions with women. However you may feel about your looks, you clearly have enough going on that you’re able to get that initial interest, even dates and hook-ups. But the reason you can’t keep them is because, frankly, you’re a hot mess and women can tell.
You’ve got a real gumbo of issues here, dude. Let’s start with “SOMETHING ALWAYS GOES WRONG.” Of the examples you’ve given, one of them is just basic bad luck. Hey, you’ve got a friend in common and she’s decided that means she can’t date you. That sucks but hey, sh-t happens, wear a hat. You can’t control for bad luck, you can only roll with it and try agian.
The other two are, frankly, your fault. Yeah, some women will just up and ghost a dude and it blows, but if it’s happening to you frequently, then you need to take a moment to stop and do some serious examination about what all those experiences have in common. And frankly, the biggest common denominator those interactions have is… you. You’re dripping a lot of bitterness and entitlement here, man, and that’s in a letter to me. Trust me when I tell you, you are not hiding that from the women you’re talking to. Women are going to pick up on your attitude and decide they’d really rather just cut off communication and get back in the dating pool instead of dealing with you.
Now don’t get me wrong here: I get that you’re frustrated. I totally understand. Back in my bad old days, I was single more often than not and bitter with it. And trust me, that bitterness really drove people away. It’s not just being Eeyore, it’s being the dude who says “yeah I know, I’m ugly and also f
k you for dating someone else”. That alone is going to push people away. But then there’s also the way you’ve described your interactions with people. Getting pissy with someone because you suspect they’re leading them on? That’s not cool. Neither is treating dating as “I want to fit someone into the hole marked ‘girlfriend’ and I don’t care who.” People in relationships want to feel special and desired because they’re them and you want them specifically. If you’re making them feel as though their primary value to you is a warm body, they’re gonna NEXT you so hard your head will spin. Having competitions with your buds about who could get more hook-ups is part and parcel of the whole problem; it dehumanizes women to just being points in a screwed up contest. Yeah, I did that shit too back when I was a PUA; it was gross when I was doing it and it was gross when you were doing it. No woman out there, even those who dig no-strings sex with Johnny Rando, appreciates feeling like they’re an interchangeable cog.
Like Virgin In the Wild up there, you’ve got an attitude problem and a validation problem, not an issue with your looks. You’re trying to use women as proof that you’re not “ugly” or undesirable or what-not and that’s simply never going to work. That’s the bad news.
The good news is, like VitW, you’re recognizing that this is a screweded up situation and you need to change. That’s an important first step, man; you really can’t fix a problem until you recognize that you have a problem. And – more importantly – you’re picking up on the right problem that you need to fix. A lot of people never even get that far.
No amount of external evidence – up to and including that apparently you work AS A MODEL – is going to shut up that voice in your head if you’re relying solely on external validation for your sense of value. You need to learn to find your own value if you want to quit feeling like you don’t measure up to whatever unbelievable standard you seem to have given yourself. And much like I told VitW, the best thing you can do right now is talk to a therapist; working with a mental health professional will go a long way towards unpacking these issues and helping you move towards a more equitable relationship with a person instead of a cardboard cutout with “girlfriend” scrawled across it.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)