DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a 25 virgin with no real experience with woman. I can make friends with woman but as for dating… nothing. I’ve always had confidence issues and just struggle to believe someone would like me that way. I am trying to break through this with therapy (Which won’t be starting till after the holiday) and I’ve joined a number of clubs but this could take some time to develop results.
I’m going to Amsterdam for a few days next month, basically a holiday with a few friends from college. Amsterdam is a nice city….but it’s also known for the red light district. So I think you can see where this might be going.
Being the only virgin left in my social group does play on my mind a lot. I know losing my virginity won’t solve all my problems but…. having it hang over my head is just exhausting. I also realize other people my age are in the same situation but within my social group I really am the last one left.
I just feel like such a loser when everyone’s drinking and talking about past sexual experiences. I’m also older than most my friends so being a virgin does get me down.
Overall my friends have been very supportive about it. My friends have teased me a little about it…with one hinting that I should go see a prostitute while in Amsterdam although I think he was just joking. Overall however they have told me it’s nothing to worry about and I’ve still got plenty of time. The group I’m going with have never asked but I’m pretty sure they know about it.
Honestly…. I don’t know what to do, I know people look down on this route of losing it….but at the same time the stress of being the last virgin really does get to me. I might feel worse afterwards but at the same time I might be relived to finally have got rid of it…. to be honest I have no idea.
I guess I’m just asking for any advice you might have,
Red Light Green Light
DEAR RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT: Here’s what I think, RLGL: I think visiting a sex worker is a valid option, if it’s going to ACTUALLY solve your problem.
What you need to do before you make up your mind is a little soul-searching and practicing some self-awareness. What, exactly is the issue you’re having with being a virgin? Is it just that you haven’t had sex? Or is it that you haven’t felt desired, that someone hasn’t felt like you were good enough to have sex with?
Part of why guys get hung up on being a virgin is that they see it as a Mark of Cain; they’re a virgin because it means that there’s something wrong with them. Just as dogs and bees can smell fear, women can sense whatever this flaw is and write them off as potential sex-partners. Other guys see it as a mark of accomplishment or skill – that having sex with someone means that you were able to seduce them or convince them to sleep with you.
In both cases, losing one’s virginity to a sex-worker is – for lack of a better term – cheating. It’s circumventing the system that regulates who’s supposed to have sex and who isn’t and thus… I don’t freaking know, the whole thing makes no sense. But the end result is a feeling of shame and remorse, that this somehow didn’t count and is just further proof that you’re dysfunctional at some level.
The problem is that this ignores the fact that sex isn’t a test of worth. As I’ve said bewfore: women aren’t Mjolnir. It’s not as though women only allow those who are worthy in. Women, like men, will often choose to sleep with people for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the other person besides convenience. However, hooking up with a woman who has decided she’s willing to hang the nearest warm body is considered by many a “legit” to lose one’s virginity, while a sex worker isn’t.
The difference? One allows the fig-leaf of pretending that this followed the cultural narrative of how men are “supposed” to lose their virginity. It’s easy to tell yourself that you were chosen instead of “enh, you’ll do”. It also ignores that sex workers can and do choose their clients. An escort may well have put more thought and deliberation into accepting an appointment from a virgin than somebody who just wants to get laid that night.
The odds are also better that with the right sex worker, you may actually enjoy your first time more. A lot of people who lost their virginity the “traditional” way will tell you: it’s often a fumbling, confused mess. Having someone who’s focused on you, on your comfort and pleasure could make all the difference in terms of enjoying the experience.
Now: ignoring what other people will say about how you lost your virginity (since you don’t have to tell them) – how would YOU feel about losing it to a sex worker? Will you always think of it as not being “real”? Are you always going to worry that people are snickering behind your back, even if they don’t actually know? Are you going to think of it as “cheating” and keep holding onto these feelings of low self-worth because of it?
Then I’d say you’re better off to save your money and put it towards working with your therapist.
On the other hand, if you just want the act done and the knowledge that you’ve actually been inside another person and you aren’t going to get hung up on it being part of a commercial exchange, then hey, go for it. Do some research before you go. Read blogs written by sex-workers. Listen to their podcasts. This will teach you a lot about how to treat them with respect and find the right sex-worker for you — and to make sure that you’re booking with somebody who’s doing sex work of their own free will instead of having been trafficked. Visit the brothel’s websites, see what they offer. Read some reviews and see about finding a specific brothel that will suit your needs. You may even be able to book an appointment in advance instead of wandering around and getting increasingly intimidated and possibly picking someone at random and ending up disappointed.
As far as I’m concerned, virginity is an artificial construct with out actual meaning. It’s no different from going skydiving or having gone on a road trip; it’s just an experience you haven’t had yet. So visiting a sex worker for your first time is going to be as legit as any other method. It’s just a question of how you’ll feel about it afterwards.
DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m wondering if you can give me some advice about a sticky situation with a geeky friend?
I’ve a really close friend who’s on the spectrum - specifically an Aspie. He’s also a bit socially awkward and completely conflict averse. We’ve worked together on projects for years, usually one assisting the other, more often me being in charge. We’ve always worked well together and gotten along; we’re both nerdy and have a lot of the same interests, particularly in books and stuff. This friend would be someone I feel very close to, and since I was bullied a lot growing up I find being close to people kind of difficult. I look on him sort of like a slightly younger brother, and try to look out for him when we work together, since I’ve seen him be taken advantage of before. I also always try to make allowances for the fact that he’s not neuro-typical, because I know it makes his life more difficult.
Lately though we’ve encountered a problem. During a mutual project, one which he was leading, we ended up bringing in an outside person. This person was very rude and belligerent to me, speaking over me, belittling my contributions and generally behaving like a git. He also made some very unhelpful comments about people with mental health issues (and the project in question is about mental health issues, something I also suffer from). Suffice it to say the whole interaction was awful and uncomfortable as hell; everyone around the room felt it.
Unfortunately, because my friend was the lead on the project and I didn’t want to undermine him, I didn’t feel like I could call a halt to things myself as I usually would have, and my friend didn’t step up. He just doodled on his papers and said nothing.
When it was over I was quite shaken, and explained that I would prefer not to deal with that person again. My friend seemed to feel this was my being irrational, that I was finding fault where none was. Anything I said about how uncomfortable I felt was presented as my being “mean,” or trying to “cause trouble,” and “not being willing to hear feedback on my work.” I pointed out that I had no issue with feedback: I’ve taken it for years, and did indeed use anything this person said which I found interesting or helpful. I just didn’t like how he treated me.
This didn’t seem to matter, however, and I eventually disengaged from the project (my part was done). I have kept a distance since, only coming in when and if needed. It seems to be going well (as I knew it would) and I have no doubt it will be a success. My question though is, how do I deal with my friend?
I know he is quite stressed at the moment and also that he is conflict-averse. (He is currently seeing the person I didn’t wish to work with every day.) However, I don’t feel I can pretend that everything is ok and I would like to talk to my friend about my feelings when the project is over: do you have any ideas for how I might do this? Like many Aspies, he often misses social cues or finds things which would bother other people baffling because they wouldn’t bother him. I understand that. But I don’t think I should have to put up with nasty behavior (or his enabling and excusing it) because of that. I get enough of that s
Any advice you could give would be gratefully received, because I really care about this friend and I’m afraid this will poison our friendship. What can I do?
E the Super-Villain
DEAR E THE SUPER-VILLAIN: There comes a point in every relationship – regardless of the kind – where you have to make a choice: say take action and risk the friendship, or let things continue as they are. Because not taking any kind of action just means that you’re going to be dealing with this situation again in the future.
Now, the actions to take could range greatly. You could have a full-blown Come To Jesus with your friend and explain – with slides and graphs if needed – exactly why this guy was being a jerk and how it differs from “criticism” or your looking to “cause trouble”. You would likely need to go in point-by-point order to connect the dots, as well as require your friend to explain how and why you would be causing trouble in this case – possibly several times to get the point across.
I’ve got a friend who’s Christian. She’s pretty relaxed about things in general, but she feels her faith pretty deeply and takes it seriously. I, on the other hand, am somewhere between an agnostic and Taoist and have little regard for organized religion in general. I also swear like a sailor. It bothers my friend when I say “goddamn”, which is practically punctuation for me. I don’t get how it’s offensive, but hey, it bothers her so I do my best to not say it around her.
I mention this because the fact that I don’t share the same emotional twinge around the phrase doesn’t negate her offense. She’s my friend, this bothers her, I don’t want to bother her. Therefore I do my best to not say it around her.
Your friend may not understand how this dude’s behavior offends you. But that doesn’t let him off the hook, especially as project leader. Even if he doesn’t feel the same level of offense doesn’t mean that he gets to ignore that it bothers you.
If your friend doesn’t recognize things as being a problem if he can’t perceive them as being a problem, and you are going to have to spell it out. This is likely going to end up being an ongoing discussion, possibly with reminders and a series of notecards.
(Say what you will about the Clara Oswald/Peter Capaldi era of Doctor Who, Clara providing a list of acceptable responses/ this is how you’re offending people for The Doctor may serve well for any number of geeks in similar situations)
Another option may end up having to be downgrading your friendship with this guy. If the risk of this conversation poisoning your friendship is high enough, then not saying anything may mean that you’re going to have to be less involved. Especially if your new co-contributor is going to be an ongoing part of his life.
If he’s willing to ignore or excuse your discomfort or mistreatment in the name of going along to get along… well that’s a pretty sh
ty way to treat a friend. Being conflict averse, awkward or on the spectrum doesn’t give him a “Get Out of Being a Decent Human Being Free” card.
I get that it’s hard to stand up to others, especially when you’re not sure about the social cues or rules in a situation. However, even if he can’t lead the charge, he can, at the very least, back you up as you enforce your boundaries and tell the other dude to STFU.
From the way you describe things, your friend may not grok the why, but he could certainly figure out that you were upset and being bothered by this guy. Your friend may not recognize social cues, but he does have a sense of empathy. It may well be that, for someone as conflict averse as him, it’s easier for him to just brush you off rather than put himself in a position to have to do something about this. You, after all, are less likely to get in his face than the new guy.
Hopefully he’s not actually that much of an a
If you’re going to hash this out, then be clear and be willing to connect a whole lot of dots for him. If he can’t necessarily make the intuitive leap from behavior to reaction, then you need to spell it out. Probably in great detail.
It may well be that what you need to do is – in addition to explaining why this other guy was being a dick to you, what you would like from your friend in situations like those. Having a set of guidelines to follow might empower him to speak up next time.
If you two are as close as you say, then I’d like to think he’s willing to listen and recognize your needs in this. Things may get tense for a time, but with luck, the love and respect you two have for each other will let your friendship recover.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)