DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I have a constant battle with my jerk-brain, and I was wondering if you could help.
I have a girlfriend, with whom I’m in a long distance relationship due to our respective work situations (we have over a 13 hour time zone difference). She loves me to death, and I love her to death. However, I cannot stop comparing myself to other guys.
I’m kind of a big guy, and I like doing manly things like lifting weights and shooting guns. She has an ex-boyfriend whom I’ve looked up on social media before, and he is bigger and stronger than I am, has a manlier job than mine, and she’s admitted that he has a bigger dick than I do. And I obsess over all of it.
My brain tells me I’m not good enough for her, and she sexually wants him more, and that she isn’t satisfied by me as a man. I guess my question for you is how do I get past that? Do you have any strategies for me to feel secure in myself, in her adoration for me, and stop projecting my own insecurities on her? Because that’s what I’m doing. She could love me til the end of the earth and back and I still would keep projecting these insecurities onto her, and not being satisfied in myself as a man.
DEAR IN COMPETITION: Hoo boy.
There’s a lot to unpack here, IC, and most of it has to do with a lot of cultural bulls
t that you’ve absorbed over the years. Brace yourself, this ain’t gonna be fun.
You have two problems. The first is that you’re insecure. The second is that you’ve tried to compensate for those insecurities by painting over them instead of dealing with them head on. And you’ve done it by diving head-first into the ideas of what you think a man is “supposed” to be.
This is the question that keeps popping up all over the place – most notably in Fight Club – and it continually points to how fragile manhood can be. This constant dick-measuring contest (metaphorical and literal) just drives home the idea that if you don’t hit certain benchmarks, you’re not “a man”.
Let’s start with the whole “I’m into manly things”. It’s not really relevant to your question. Why did you feel the need to include or qualify it in the first place? Because you’re dealing with insecurity, and insecurity is not “manly”, so there’s this knee-jerk impulse to reassure everyone involved (but mostly you) that you are, indeed a manly man who does manly things. It’s the emotional equivalent of painting over the cracks in a wall and pretending they don’t exist instead of filling them in. It’s a performance, a dance… a masquerade. But inside, you’re the same person you were and you still have those same insecurities.
And the problem with trying to compensate for those insecurities is that when you buy into the idea that those benchmarks are the only thing that define you or make you “attractive”, you’re going to run into people who are even more “manly” than you. There’s always going to be someone who’s taller, more muscular or has a bigger dick. So now their existence diminishes you; it takes away from your “manhood” and makes you lesser. And when you use those same benchmarks to compare yourself with someone in your girlfriend’s life? Well, now you’ve got a self-imposed emotional crisis on your hands. I mean, her ex has a bigger cock than you do! How are you supposed to compete with that?
By building yourself a bridge and getting the hell over it.
Let’s start by talking about attraction. Something that guys buy into is the idea that women are naturally hypergamous; that is, they’re always trying to date “up”. Therefore women will naturally be attracted to – and thus choose – someone who has more of X desired quality, whether said quality is money, looks, abs, social status or giant wang. The problem is that people don’t work like that.
Oh to be sure, there’s always someone, men and women both, who’s looking to trade up. Gold diggers are a thing, as are dudes looking for trophy wives… but in general practice, it’s complete and utter horses
t. Attraction isn’t something that can be measured on a spreadsheet, where if person X has more points than person Y, you go with person X. Attraction is a multi-dimensional axis; somebody may not be the hottest thing since World War III but he or she has other factors that make them appealing. And hands down, one of the things that controls attraction the most is how you make people feel. If people feel good in your presence, they’re going to prioritize their relationships with you. As one of my friends regularly puts it: she married her husband for the entertainment value and she is never bored.
A lot of the things you think make him more appealing to her are in your head. Case in point: penis size. Fun thing about penis size: it has very little to do with sexual pleasure. Take a quick gander at sex toys designed for women; unless they’re a novelty gag toy, they aren’t ginormous monstrosities that look like they’d never fit in a human being. They’re small-to-average sized and designed to stimulate the clitoris and g-spot. Even the largest toys, like the Hitachi Magic Wand, aren’t intended for penetration, they’re designed to provide direct, intense clitoral stimulation.
That is what gives women pleasure, not just the biggest, veiniest cock imaginable. Hell, past a certain size and you’re just poking at the cervix, which women will tell you ain’t fun. While there are women who’re size-queens, most women will tell you that they prefer a lover who understands things like foreplay, oral sex and manual stimulation than a Studly Goodnight with a 14″ monster jamming away like a fleshy jackhammer. That’s porn sex, not real sex and porn sex ain’t that fun.
And here’s the other thing to keep in mind about your girlfriend: yeah, there are folks, including folks she’s seen naked, who’re bigger and taller and stronger than you. Guess what though? She’s not with THEM. She’s chosen you, even though you apparently don’t have the same number of Man Points as her ex. Sometimes you have to tell your jerk brain to shut up and take yes for an answer.
What makes you a man? Acting like a grown-ass adult, not how tall you are or how much you bench. Quit worrying about your Man Points and focus on being you.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I am dating an Asian girl that has several close male friends, she says they are more like brothers. One of the male friends acted inappropriate at a party, after my girlfriend ate a plate of oysters, with everyone making jokes about oysters being an aphrodisiac, he grabbed her wrist, straightened out her arm, pulled up her sleeve to check her pulse, so he could see how horny she was. Then he repeated this act a second time later in the evening. I talked to my girlfriend about the incident and she said that what he did was wrong, but everyone in the group knows how he acts, so everyone is ok with it. I am not fully with the group, but I do know several of the people and when I discussed what happened they said it was wrong.
I don’t understand why she accepts what he did was wrong, but then tells me it is ok? Also, before we arrived at the party, she asked me to tone down my affection for her because it wasn’t proper for Asians to do things like kissing and holding hands in public, but her friend did much worse and she is saying it is ok because everyone knows how he is. Very confused. What’s going on?
Not Sure How To Respond
DEAR NOT SURE HOW TO RESPOND: Let’s start with the PDA. One of the things to keep in mind is that in a lot of Southeast Asian cultures, outward displays of affection are considered rude and make people uncomfortable. In Korea and Japan, for example, you won’t see couples being overly demonstrable in public; that’s seen as being something that you do when you’re alone. So that’s not all that unusual, especially if she comes from a very traditional or conservative family. Being touchy-feely amongst her friends and family could lead to her having to field a whole host of grief that she’d rather avoid.
But as to what’s going on with her friends at parties? That’s simple: her friends are ass
*es. They feel entitled to her body and to embarrassing her because they think it’s funny and she isn’t stopping them.
This is an issue of boundaries: specifically, she’s not enforcing hers. Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of women go through: putting up with their ass
*e “friends'” antics because “it’s just how they are”. Even in this day and age, women in general are socialized to be overly considerate of men, to not put up a fuss and to go along to get along because it’s “rude” to speak up and refuse. Mix this in with the social pressure of “well, it’s ok because they’re my friends and this is just how it’s always been,” and you have a (partial) explanation for why so many women put up with sh
ty, harassing behavior from people.
Unfortunately, there’s not much that YOU can do, directly. You can and should call out sh
ty behavior when it’s happening, especially when you know it makes your girlfriend uncomfortable.
You can also make it clear that you have her back and support her, especially if she decides she’s had enough and doesn’t want to put up with things. Sometimes part of the reason why people go along with behavior that hurts or humiliates them is because they feel like they’re the only person who objects and they won’t have any support if they speak up. If she knows you’re there to stand up with her, that might give her the courage to finally tell them to knock it the hell off.
However, it’s entirely likely that your girlfriend will protest and say that “it’s ok” even though she’s quietly dying inside and wants to dig a hole in the floor and pull it in after her. Again: this is the sort of whammy that society tends to put on women’s heads - that they’re not allowed to speak up in their own defense, even when they’re manhandled and mistreated by people who are supposedly their friends.
Unfortunately, at the core of things is how your girlfriend feels and wants to do. You can’t MAKE her do anything, whether it’s cut the assh
es out of her life or to start standing up for herself. You can support her and encourage her to enforce her boundaries. You can cheer her on and be her back-up when and if she does push back against the assh
es, because they’ll try to pressure her into giving in.
But ultimately, it’s her her decision as to how to respond to them. That can be frustrating, especially when you feel like the answer is plain and clear cut. It sucks, but at the end of the day, it’s her move to make… and only she can be the one to make it.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)