DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m a 20 year old student that has almost no dating experience at all. I’ve only just recently started to get more serious about dating but so far I have had very little success. Basically until recently I was a very shy and quiet person who kept to himself most of the time but once I started working in retail I started to become a much more social person.
I certainly do go out a lot more and have made a lot more friends in the past year than I ever had in most of my school years. This includes both boys and girls. However most of my friends are guys and the girls themselves are now in relationships.
The thing is my lack of dating and relationship experience is really starting to get to me and I’ve been feeling down. Not so much depressed but more frustrated. I blame myself for what’s happened and usually end up ripping myself apart. The thing is most of my friends seem to have no problems with getting girls which I’ve seen firsthand. I won’t lie that this makes my self esteem just plummet and the negative thoughts all come back. I tell myself I will never be that good or even worse that girl’s hate me and I will be alone forever. Yeah I know that getting a girlfriend will not sort everything out or make my life perfect but at the same time I just feel stuck in a rut. This also affects me when I go out as I tend not to enjoy myself. When this happens I tend to go real quiet and get lost in my thoughts. Especially the last few times where my friends ended up spending the night with girls while I was alone.
I know the process of improving is slow but right now it feels like nothing is changing while everyone else seems to have no problem or are improving really fast. So yeah was wondering if you had some advice for getting out this rut and enjoying what i do have a bit more and actually approach dating and all that with a lot less fear and shame.
Going Nowhere Fast
DEAR GOING NOWHERE FAST: Dude. Dude. Your problem isn’t your lack of dating experience. Your problem is the way you’re beating the s
t out of yourself for it.
Seriously, take a second, put down the emotional hammer you’ve been slamming into your nuts and look at things rationally. You’ve made a LOT of progress. You’ve been making yourself into a more social outgoing person, brushing up those social skills and making a lot more friends. That’s really goddamn impressive. That’s something you need to be giving yourself credit for. You’re building a new life from the ground up and that takes a lot of work…
So why are you sabotaging all of your progress?
It’s an unfair part of life that we don’t all start off at the same place. Some folks will have advantages that others don’t, whether it’s by a quirk of genetics, by who their parents are, even when they were born. Some people are born to financial ease. Some have an instinctual grasp of social dynamics. Some people don’t have to work as hard at attracting others. Those advantages mean that they won’t have had to gone through the same development you have. This doesn’t mean that they’re better than you because they haven’t had to struggle the way you have or that you’re better than them because you’ve had to fight for what they were given; it just means that you didn’t have to cover the same ground.
The thing you need to keep in mind is that this isn’t a competition. You’re not in a race with anyone; this isn’t a hundred meter dash, it’s a hike. You’re walking a trail. Some folks entered the trail ahead of you. Some folks are going to be behind you. There will be points where you’re making excellent time and you’ll catch up with some of them, other times you’ll have to stop and take a rest and get your energy back. The point isn’t whether or not you’re able to keep pace with the fastest, most experienced hikers, it’s that you’re on the trail at all. Comparing yourself to them is only going to make you miserable… especially when you don’t know what their experience is like. You see them darting off ahead like they own the place, but you don’t see when they twisted their ankle or tore their ACL, when they tripped and fell over, or all the times they were exhausted and tired of this f
king trail and ready to just call it quits.
(To switch metaphors for a moment: you’re comparing your unedited footage to their highlight reel.)
Thing is: their progress has absolutely no bearing on yours. The fact that other people have an easier time doesn’t magically make your – and again, I stress impressive – progress less somehow. You’ve come a long goddamn way. You need to be willing to recognize that and give yourself some much-needed kudos because that s
t was hard.
And you don’t need to be the best of the best of the best in order to date; there’s no panel of judges who’re going to decide that nope, you didn’t land that date proposal just right, therefore they’re taking back her “yes”. You just need to be good enough. And honestly: the worst thing that’s going to happen when you ask a woman out? She’s going to say no and you’ll go on with the rest of your day.
It’ll suck, don’t get me wrong. Being rejected totally sucks. But it happens to everyone. Those nightmare scenarios you have about being forever alone and women hating you forever? That’s just your jerkbrain telling you lies because change is exhausting and your brain is lazy.
Stop comparing yourself to other people. Your progress is your progress and your pace is your pace. You’re not bad or broken or deficient because you need to take more time than other people do. That’s just your pace. You’ve come a long goddamn way already. You’ll get there.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org