DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I was hoping you might be able to give me an outsider’s perspective on something I’ve been thinking about lately:
Not taking a vow, or asexuality, and not dealing with involuntary celibacy from not being able to find a partner, but voluntary celibacy, that has lasted longer than anticipated. I should probably explain my situation, now.
When I was a younger man, after an experience that caused me to question what I was doing, who I was doing it with, and why with her specifically (I will only say it involved a bad pseudo-friends-with-benefits breakup, and a rebound fling that I really regret, but is in the past and I’ve dealt with the emotional baggage), I decided that I would start waiting to have sex with anyone until I knew where things where going, and more importantly, that it was someone I actually wanted to be involved with. It became one of my Rules. A Rule that has actually served me pretty well up to now.
In college, I didn’t date very much, and what dating there was, was usually limited to first dates, and a handful of second dates. I never really felt anything with any of these girls, though, even the ones I considered friends before going out with, and because I wasn’t worried about getting laid at the end of the night, I like to think I was able to see more clearly that it wasn’t working.
Now, I’ve stuck with this Rule for a while… and I’m wondering if somewhere along the line I made a mistake setting things in stone. Honestly, I recognize a huge part of that is that I realized how long it’s been since I’ve actually had sex… and, well, to be completely frank (we’re all presumably adults here) pressure is building.
I’m starting to feel a lot like Josh Hartnett towards the end of “40 Days and 40 Nights”… only it’s been about 73 times longer than 40 days.
So it’s been that long since I’ve been with anyone, and my last couple attempts (I’m positive enough not to call them failures, because I do recognize in retrospect I shouldn’t have tried having a relationship with them.) at dating have me thinking… “Maybe I should have just done it, had some fun, and gone forward with a clearer head.”
Especially the last girl, who… I ended up not seeing after the second date, mainly because things started to get heated really fast on that second date, and even though I stopped to explain to her I wanted to wait a few more dates before having sex, and she said she understood and respected that… she kept going for my belt buckle until I made her stop… I was extremely uncomfortable with that.
Even though I’d never pressure a woman into doing anything she didn’t want to, I know it happens all the damn time, and, I kind of know what it feels like now, so I’m just even more against anything that isn’t enthusiastic consent. I had that thought later in the day, actually… that if the roles had been reversed, that I was her and she was me… there probably would have been a fairly decent chance I would have been raped that night… and that was basically what told me “Don’t go out with her again.”
Which should say something, because I’m almost half wondering if I should have just gone through with it. That is how desperate I’m starting to feel. That maybe I should have had sex with someone who, when sex was on the table, I realized it was a red flag about that person.
That thought has me reeling. I’m wondering if I missed something. Maybe I should have reevaluated this sooner, and maybe I’m missing red flags now, because even though it helped my see them in the past, my Rule might now be causing me to miss them.
I am confused, horny, and seriously considering that some Rules are meant to be broken.
Questioning The Rules
DEAR QUESTIONING THE RULES: You know why I really hate 40 Days and 40 Nights?
Because it’s one of the most messed-up movies I’ve seen in a long, long time. There’s not a single thing to recommend to it and just about everyone in it is a cretin. First, you’ve got the main character’s brother – a priest – who seems to have forgotten that part of the point of the priesthood is to provide advice, comfort and support for your flock – especially when, y’know, he’s trying to actually follow some of the rules of your religion. Then there’s the large crew of jerk-asses that he calls his friends for some reason – and a more toxic band of morons you will never see. The writing is hackneyed, relying on some of the hoariest of tropes to maintain stupid drama that can only be kept up if the characters are unable to have a five minute conversation, the “good girl” character is profoundly unsympathetic and then you’ve got the ex.
The one who rapes the main character. And it’s played for laughs.
And then he has to apologize to his girlfriend. Who’s mad at him. For being raped.
(Stick with me here, there’s a point to all of this.)
The gag, of course, is that “hey, Josh Hartnett got laid, it’s not all that bad!”; it’s part of the standard definition of masculinity where men are walking poles looking for any available hole. There’s no question ever about the fact that Harnett’s constantly having people pushing in on his boundaries, ignoring him when he’s telling them “no” and pushing him to give up on something he feels he needs to do for his own emotional health and well-being. Nope, it’s all about the idea that “woah, one dude was able to go cold-turkey, that’s unpossible!” and that apparently being celibate for that long gives him magic orgasm powers.
Now granted, I don’t expect nuanced views of human sexuality from a comedy whose poster is a gag about a dude’s crotch, but it is possible to have a raunchy sex-comedy and manage to actually not treat somebody’s libido as a joke.
So after that long digression, let me bring this back to you, QTR.
You decided that, for your own emotional well-being, you needed to be willing to cut back on sex. You’d decided that you want to wait until there’s at least something going on with the relationship – you don’t specify whether you mean three to five dates, emotional commitment, exclusivity or what, but hey, your junk, your rules. This is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. You have the right to set your standards for sex to what you want them to be and three to five dates – which seems to be the implication later on – isn’t an unreasonable standard, if longer than I would wait personally. Now in full honesty, I think by setting the standard where you did, you may have voluntarily limited your dating pool considerably; a lot of women are likely to think 5 dates is a bit extreme. That’s 5 weeks of dating somebody, assuming a once-a-week date… that’s a lot to (ahem) swallow.
But hey, there are women out there who’d prefer to wait a bit before going to bed with a guy. So that’s not really the issue here.
No, the issue here is the reasons for holding on to that rule in the first place, and when or if it’s time to let it go. On the one (very hairy) hand, you’re backed-up, and being painfully horny is known to inspire dudes into making bad decisions. On the other hand, you’ve been holding on to this rule for eight years now. This is something you started because you were trying to heal from a bad break-up and a regrettable fling. And… dude… I’ve had sex that I’d rather not have had in retrospect, but 8 years is a long damn time to be holding on to that attitude. You say you’ve dealt with the emotional baggage of the events that inspired this rule.
So you have to ask yourself: do you still need this, or are you holding on to it out of habit? Because frankly, it sounds like the latter rather than the former. And to be perfectly honest, I’m kind of wondering if this rule of yours has become a way of trying to insulate yourself from pain by driving people away.
I’m not the one who can make that decision for you. You’re going to have to do some soul-searching about whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. If you feel like it’s something that’s benefitting you, then adjust things a little. Be willing to take things on a sliding scale rather than an absolute, arbitrary pre-requisite. Get yourself a Fleshlight or a Tenga to cope with the need to seed and consider looking for women who have the same take-it-slow attitude that you do.
If you decide that perhaps it’s time to be willing to just go out and lay some pipe – and there’s nothing wrong with wanting casual sex – then go for it. If you find that maybe that was a mistake, then you can go back to waiting The great thing about setting rules for yourself is that you can decide when they are or aren’t necessary.
But let me be absolutely clear: that date of yours who kept going for your belt-buckle even after you said no? That ain’t cool. I get that you’re horny as hell and kinda wishing that you’d taken advantage of sex that was being offered – or, let’s be honest, pushed on you – but this was someone who was deliberately pushing past your boundaries. You really don’t want to have sex with someone who feels like she’s allowed to ignore your “no” and hopes that she can change it to a “yes” if she keeps going. Having an erection isn’t permission to say “well, he really wants it, even if he says he doesn’t.” The old “your mouth is saying no, but your body is saying yes” cliché doesn’t excuse anything. If the genders had been reversed, we’d be having a very different conversation right now.
Regardless of whether you decide to continue to wait or to bang out as soon as you get the opportunity, you want to be with someone who knows that no means no and yes means yes.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am a 22 year old male with no sort of relationship or sex experience. I had a 2 week fling in high-school that started and ended basically without my involvement. Of course I do want to get in a relationship, who doesn’t. But, I have a bit of a problem.
I get nervous, especially about one thing: consent. Now, I am not an evil guy (at least I don’t think so), and as such I don’t want to rape. Raping is not a thing I want to do. If I was doing a rape, I would want to not do that thing. Not just for fear of jail, but because it is a thing I would rather not do. But, I hear many horror stories from the Internet, and they scare me.
On one hand, I keep reading about these thick headed numbskulls that, rather than using physical force, bully and coerce with emotional guilt. On the other, I read about vindictive women who, after the act, decide they want to charge the other with I understand that many of those things may be exaggerated, as is literally everything on the Internet, but it still makes me nervous.
How can I be assured that I can protect not only myself, but any hypothetical partner I may have?
DEAR NERVOUS: First of all my dude: those vengeful women you’re worried about are basically the Africanized killer bee attacks of dating. You get a lot of people fear-mongering and exaggerating the claims because it suits their agenda to do so with no facts to actually back things up. Red Pill bros, Men Going Their Own Way and general misogynists love to cry about false rape claims because they want to sell you a narrative of being in danger at all times. The fact of the matter is, you’re more likely to get hit by lightning – twice – than find someone who decided to accuse you of rape because SCREW YOU PENIS. The vast number of false rape claims (which are already statistically insignificant) aren’t rape accusations – that is, accusing someone of having raped them. Those false claims are that the crime occurred, WITHOUT specifying a person as the rapist.
Second of all: there’s a very easy way to make sure that the person you’re wanting to have sex with wants to have sex with you: ASK HER. Enthusiastic consent is the name of the game, man. Making sure you have a yes and that she’s as down to clown as you are means that you don’t have to worry that you’re crossing a line or doing something you’d never want to do. And this doesn’t have to be a mechanical “may I take off your bra, may I touch your left breast, may I touch your right breast” that a lot of people like to claim. Enthusiastic consent can be sexy as hell – from a breathy “I want to kiss you so badly right now” to a good old fashioned “want to fool around?” can get you where you want to be.
So take a deep breath Nervous and quit over-thinking things. Being considerate of the other person’s comfort and interest and just using your words is all it takes to make sure that your partner is as DTF as you are.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)