DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I was a very late bloomer during my teenage years. As a result, it took me a long time to develop an interest in the ladies. To add up to the problem, I’m very introverted as well. I have also had some bad luck with the people I have been interested in labeling me as “just a friend”. The result: I have never done anything with women beyond maybe some hugs. No kissing, or sex.
I got into college a little late (I was 27). Went through a few semesters without friends, just acquaintances. Finally, 2 years in, I met a few people. I developed a crush on one of the girls, but she had a boyfriend at the time. I figured things were finally looking up for me; I could maybe meet more people through these friends. Maybe meet a girl somewhere inbetween?
After a semester with them, things started to derail. One of them dropped his course, another girl started dating a guy and quit the group. The girl with the boyfriend moved. I was alone again.
I kept in touch with the girl I had a crush on. She told me she broke up with her boyfriend, and, well, I got a bad case of oneitis; I started going after her pretty hard, even offering to visit her in her new city just so I could try something and at least get the kiss part over with.
Turns out she wasn’t that fond of the idea. I had to get three soft-no’s to get a grip. It sucked, but then it dawned to me that I was back at square one.
I don’t really know how to do much about dating. I’m currently trying tinder and other dating apps, and while I do get matches, I’m bad at escalating things. Sometimes I’ll message for too long and get unmatched. Sometimes I’ll get ghosted. I went for a walk with a girl from tinder one time. While I enjoyed it, I chickened out and didn’t really try anything other than talking (I’m a great listener). It makes me feel really awkward and terrible that I don’t know how to do these basic things at my age.
I’m kind of thorn about this. Half the time I’ll understand this was mostly due to my lack of attitude, some outside factors, past history, etc, and that there are things I can do about it now… but the other half I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. I mostly worry that, if I do meet someone, they might not understand and reject me, or label me under “weird”.
I have even looked up escorts online (but didn’t message them) to maybe get it over with, but I’m not sure how to go about it, or if it will even help me in the first place.
Help me out, Doc
DEAR MISFIT BUT STILL COLLECTIBLE TOY: Let me help you with something that may put your mind at ease: you’re going through the exact same thing that literally everybody goes through when it comes to dating. Everybody starts from zero. Nobody comes to dating or relationships with an instruction manual. Hell, that is literally why I write this column: to provide that instruction that people wish they’d had growing up.
Everybody starts out with no experience and has to fumble their way forward. If you’re lucky, you might have a role-model who you can look to for advice or guidance. Some people are extremely lucky to have a natural gift with human interaction. But even they have to crawl before they walk and walk before they run. And – as everyone can tell you – learning to walk and running means falling over a lot in the process.
If you want to learn to walk, you’re going to have to let yourself fall a few times. Maybe even a lot. You’re going to pick up some bruises, same as everyone else did, but those bruises are signs that you’re trying things. You’re pushing yourself. You’re taking risks. Sometimes those risks are ill-advised, like your oneitisget the best of you. But you learned and now you know better.
And let’s be real here: you’re obviously doing some things right. You’re getting matches, you’re getting dates. That’s pretty damn good. Ghosting happens, regardless of your experience. Dates to nowhere happen. That’s just part of the dating experience for everybody.
Your biggest problem, to be honest is that you need to take more risks, MBSCT. You have to be willing to court rejection and failure because failure is part of how we learn. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should dive into things head first. You don’t need to, say, go for a kiss in the first 10 minutes of a date because screw it why not. But you should stop hesitating or waiting for 100% certainty for things. You’ve had a few good back-and-forths on Tinder? Time to ask them for a date. Things are going well on a date? Ask her for a second. She’s giving the “I want to kiss you” signs? Tell her you want to kiss her and see what happens. If you get rejected… well, it sucks, but you took that risk. Each chance you take makes the next one that much easier. You learn a little more about what to look for and – critically – that you can take that chance and survive.
And sometimes when you fall, you fly.
You may be starting a little later than average, but that’s not a bad thing. You’re not in a race or a competition with anybody, you’re on a journey. You don’t have a deadline. You don’t need to catch up to anyone. You just need to get where you’re going, in your own time and at your own pace.
You’ll be fine.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a 21 year old woman living and studying in the United Kingdom, and I wondered if you could answer a question for me.
I’m currently single and happy to be so. I enjoy the company of friends and family, but am quite introverted and enjoy being alone.
I dated a guy for a few months a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t so keen and we broke it off. I have never had any kind sexual intimacy with a partner before, but I’m very aware of my desires and drive and curious about having sex. I don’t identify as any sexuality; I just don’t know yet.
My question is; if I ever pulled at a bar or a club, would it be a good idea to sleep with them?
First of all, twenty-one may be seen as pretty old for being a virgin, and will probably put them off. And while I want to have sex in theory, I’m sure I’d be pretty scared if it ever actually happened. This person could well be a stranger, and I wouldn’t know who they were or what they could do. I have been diagnosed with GAD, and am pretty sure that I probably have a lot of social anxiety.
If going out with mates can sometimes be difficult, the idea of intimacy seems almost impossible. Friends and peers who have had sex make it sound really easy, like breathing, and I’m often surprised when they say how young they were when they had their first time (nothing illegal or shocking, btw)! I feel like i must have been off sick when they had that lesson.
I also have quite a quirky personality. I’m pretty nerdy and bookish, but enjoy wearing make-up and keeping in shape. I like to crack a lot of jokes, talk about odd things, and make people around me laugh. I doubt, however, that these things make me particularly sexy.
So this is just a question more than anything. I’m not as I’m saying this about to hit the town, so I guess it’s kind of hypothetical. And to be honest; I think I know what your answer would be; wait until I’m in a relationship with someone I’m comfortable with and then see how it goes. Thing is, I’m not even sure if I feel romantic attraction as I’ve never really had a crush on anyone I’ve known. I dated my ex because he seemed like a lovely guy and I wanted to give it a go.
I have to admit, that this question is mostly fueled by my libido, and that’s never a great start. I’m not ready to be in a serious relationship right now; I have enough to worry about in terms of study and getting a job as it is.
I guess what I’m asking is if I really, really wanted to take the plunge and take someone home, how could I go about doing it, and what could I do to keep safe?
Sorry for the weird question. The writing probably sounds a bit formal, and to be honest, I feel odd for asking. I don’t think people see me as being a very sexual person on the outside, and I probably flatter myself by making it sound like getting another’s interest would be easy in the first place.
Thank you for bearing with me,
Girl In An Oyster Shell
DEAR GIRL IN AN OYSTER SHELL: Let’s start with an obvious question, GIAOS: do you want to have sex? Is this an actual need that you’re feeling and you are starting to ache to fulfill it? Is it more of a curiosity, wanting to know what you’re missing? Is it something that’d be nice, but something you could live without if necessary?
What I would suggest hinges a little on those answers. Sexuality is less of a spectrum and more of a Japanese multi-axis graph; some people get incredibly horny but as a slow-burn for specific individuals. Others are voraciously omnisexual, still others don’t have a sex-drive at all. Some crave members of one gender but will sleep with members of a different gender if they’re sufficiently hard up.
So if you’re demisexual, for example, it’s not going to do you much good to go trawling bars and clubs for a hook-up. Just something to consider while you’re pondering your options.
Meanwhile, let’s talk about some of your fears and anxieties for a second. The first is that at 21, you’re behind the curve for sexuality and people will judge you for it. And while this may be true – assholes are everywhere after all – there are guys out there who aren’t going to see this as being bad or a deal breaker. The folks who treat your being a virgin as something shameful or unusual are self-selecting out of your dating pool and your bed.
As for strangers… yeah, that’s a risk. That’s a risk everyone takes when it comes to sex and dating. You help mitigate those risks by being aware of them, understanding your vulnerabilities and correcting for them as best you can. You keep your bulls
t detector fine-tuned, you watch for danger signs. If you don’t necessarily trust your judgement, then you have friends who can help you vet potential candidates. Sex is a full-contact sport and comes with inherent risks, same as snowboarding or skiing. You go in using best practices and safety procedures and do your best.
Now, all that having been said, there is a fairly simple answer to your dilemma, GIAOS: don’t look to hooking up with a stranger for your first time. You may well want to look to some of the guys you alreadyknow instead. Presumably you know them well enough to know which ones are the most respectful and trustworthy. You’re already comfortable with them – you have that pre-existing friendship – which makes talking to them and being relaxed around them easier. That alone makes them better potential partners than rolling the dice on Johnny Rando from the bar.
There’s also an advantage to looking to friends you know than someone you pulled on a night out: they’re more likely to actually know what they’re doing and make an effort to please you, especially if they’re agreeing to be your first time. One of the reasons why a lot of women don’t care for casual sex is because the sex is so rarely worth it. Most guys will get off in a casual encounter; far fewer women will.Someone who knows you, respects you and is invested in your comfort and pleasure is going to be a better lover than someone who’s just looking to bust a nut and call it a night.
So consider picking a single guy friend you trust and find attractive and tell him that you want some no-strings, time-to-lose-your-virginity sex and is he down to get down?
This approach can have drawbacks; there’re folks who’re just bad at keeping things casual. Some guys have a hard time seeing sex – especially sex with a friend – as being just about sex for sex’s sake and get awkward about it. And even people you know well can have a bad case of Crouching Good Guy, Hidden Douchebag.
But overall, there’re fewer risks to looking to a friend for a casual one-off, especially if all you want is to get the virginity thing taken care of.
Or, if it’s more your speed, go on some dates, vet some dudes and see if you feel good about giving them a shot. It can take a bit longer, especially if you’re looking for something more hit-it-and-quit-it, but it’s the more common approach.
All up to you and what feels like the right approach for you.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)