DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I just turned 18 and I’ve never had a girlfriend, never kissed, you get the story. I’m sure you’ve seen this before, but I’m in kind of a unique situation and I’m not sure where to go.
I went to a high school that was not quite as social as most, and even there I was extremely introverted and nerdy. As a result, I have absolutely zero social experience, especially when it comes to dating. (I have some friends, both guys and girls.) I’m going to college in the fall and I’m worried that I’ll come off as really creepy (or I’ll freak out and never be able to flirt with anyone).
To complicate things further, I’m not really sure what I want. I used to think that there’d be plenty of time later to worry about dating, but I’m not so sure anymore. And I don’t really want to have casual sex, but that’s all guys seem to want in college. Apparently I’m already late to the game, and I don’t want to start trying to date (or worse, have casual sex) at 25 just to have every girl reject me for still being a virgin. I know it shouldn’t matter, but as far as I can tell online, very few girls would ever want to date older virgins.
What do I do? Should I start looking for any relationship just to get my first out of the way? How do I practice flirting and asking girls out for when I meet someone I really like?
Thanks in advance,
Sexually and Romantically Confused
DEAR SEXUALLY AND ROMANTICALLY CONFUSED: You’re coming at this from the wrong angle, SRC. You’re assuming that you should have X amount of experience under your belt by now and know exactly what it is that you want. Except… that’s not how this all works. I realize that it feels like you’re running out of time. I realize it feels like you’re supposed to have figured all this shit out by now and be ready to attack the world with the sort of certainty that you only see in diehard Star Wars fans. In reality: you are incredibly young. It’s fine that you don’t know what you want yet because you’re just starting your life. You are still figuring out who you are and and how very goddamn big the world around you is. Even if you knew, with 100% certainty, that you wanted a straight-path to marriage – or serial monogamy or even just time to be absurdly promiscuous – you would start realizing that hey, maybe you don’t actually want this. Because I am here from the future to tell you: you will find that what you want from relationships is going to change all the goddamn time. You very well may have a monogamous period and then realize that you’re not someone who can do monogamy. You may spend time trying to be a player only to realize that what you want is to find Ms. Right and have a long-term commitment. You may be in a committed relationship and realize that you want that relationship… but not with the person you have it with.
And that’s all fine.
You’re in a period when you should be learning about who you are and trying new and different things. Going into dating with an attitude of “I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m interested in finding out” is just fine. You don’t need to have any kind of relationship that you don’t actually want, regardless of what it seems like everyone else is doing. Even if it seems like everyone is just fucking and nobody is dating (trust me: they aren’t and they are) you’re free to blaze your own damn path; you’re not obligated to anyone else’s idea of how you should date.
What you shouldn’t do is date someone just to date them. If I can give you some advice that will make your love life much happier: adopt a “f
k yes or f
k no” mentality. Don’t date someone just because you feel like you are supposed to. If you’re not excited by them, if you don’t want them to be a major part of your life? Then don’t commit to a serious relationship. Now don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean that you should only date people if there’re fireworks right from the start. Some relationships are a slow burn. It’s fine to date someone casually, without an expectation of commitment or it being long-term, if you feel good about them and want to see if things will develop. But dating someone just for experience points? That’s a shitty thing to do – to them and to yourself.
And as for the rest? You’re overthinking things … and getting some really bad advice in the process. Stop looking at Reddit or whatever other forums you’re going to for ideas about what All Women Want; while some women won’t want to date virgins, there’re more who won’t care or are totally cool with it. Hell, there’re some for whom that is their precise fetish. If you can make friends, you can find dates. The skillset is the same; the only difference is the end goal. Now I’ll point out that I’ve wrote my book New Game +: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex and Dating, specifically for guys like you, and you should definitely check it out. But – and I realize this seems contradictory – that shouldn’t be your primary focus. What you should focus on doing over the summer – and even during your first year at college – is to practice being social. That’s it. Get used to talking to people and having casual conversations. We call them social skills for a reason; they’re skills and you can improve any skill with practice.
Trust me: this isn’t nearly as complicated or difficult as you think. Just focus on getting to know people and getting used to being social. Everything else will come with time and practice.
You’ll be fine. I promise.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org)