DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m hoping for a bit of advice. I’m a single woman in my late 30s. I’m a big nerd, but I can also talk sports fluently. I have a great job that pays well, a nice apartment all to myself, multiple degrees, interesting hobbies, and look dang good in a pair of heels. However, I’ve pretty much resigned myself to being single forever because I am not down to have sex on the third date. Hell, I might not have sex on the sixth. Or sixteenth. I feel like sex is a pretty huge expression of trust, and after a handful of dates with most dudes I don’t think I’d trust them to be unattended with my laptop, let alone my naked body. I’m not waiting until marriage, and I do have a healthy libido, but I suspect I’m demisexual and it takes me longer to feel the level of connection that would make me comfortable with sex than most people.
You’ve had lots of columns about how to disclose virginity, but how do I disclose that my date ain’t gettin’ lucky anytime soon? Do I put that in an online dating profile off the bat or do I wait until the topic comes up in conversation? As it is I try and at least offer to go dutch on every date so they don’t feel like they’re owed anything, but I still get plenty of ‘ice queen’, ‘prude’, and ‘shouldn’t have lead me on’ by around the third date, which I am super tired of. At this point I feel like the only men with the patience I need are religious and waiting for marriage, but I am hella agnostic, so that just isn’t gonna work either.
Thank you so much,
Have A Little Patience
DEAR HAVE A LITTLE PATIENCE: I’m going to be blunt with you, HALP: you’re going to have a lot of issues with guys who’re going to want sex and want it soon. There are a lot of men who simply aren’t going to want to wait. A significant number of them will hear that you take things slow and they’re gonna vanish on you. That’s likely to sting. I’m not saying this to change your mind or to make you feel bad for your choice; I just want to let you know, up front, that this is going to present a challenge for you in your dating life and you should be prepared for this.
And to be sure: the guys who don’t want to wait for sex aren’t in the wrong for wanting it, nor are you wrong for wanting to wait. Those conflicting desires are just a sign that you and they weren’t compatible in the first place. For the guys who are interested in dating you, waiting until you’re comfortable and feel that connection is going to be the price of admission.
Now, as you’ve seen, you will encounter dudes who will take this badly. They’re the ones who’ve called you a prude or frozen. While it’s not wrong for them to be disappointed that this relationship isn’t one that they were hoping it would be, their insulting you for having this boundary is a pretty good clue that you dodged a bullet. You’re better off for these guys having self-selected right out of your dating pool.
But while doing that particular bullet means you’ve filtered out another jerkass, who wants to go through that every time they’re on a date? I would suggest that you make it clear up front that it you need to build up trust and comfort with someone before sex is going to be on the table. If you don’t necessarily want to use the term demisexual – which, let’s face it, is still pretty inside baseball right now and a lot of folks won’t know what it means – then you might want to phrase it as you’re a slow burn who prefers to take her time before sex is going to be on the table. Let folks know that this is how you’re wired; you like to build that trust connection before you’re ready to sleep with someone
Putting this in your dating profile is going to weed out a lot of the guys who are hoping for sex by date 3. Not all of them to be sure, but most will self-select out of your dating pool before it ever becomes an issue.
That being said: it can be helpful to give people a rough idea of how long they might be waiting. It’s one thing to tell someone it may be a month or so. It’s another to just leave it completely ambiguous and leaving someone wondering when, or even if it may happen. That’s asking an investment from someone without telling them what the price is, and that’s not fair to them – especially if you’re the only person they’re dating.
It’s also good to make sure you’re not accidentally sending mixed signals to people you’re dating. And to be clear: I’m definitely not saying you’re doing that. It’s just a classic case of folks making assumptions based on facts not in evidence. If they don’t know you and how you roll, they have have a different idea of how things are progressing than you do.
It’s important that everyone is on the same page and understands what’s likely to be happening in the near future. If you’re getting increasingly physically intimate with someone – a goodnight kiss on date two, some extended making out on date four, rolling around on date six, etc. – then folks could be forgiven for being frustrated when it seems like things are escalating towards sex only to be told it isn’t.
So, my advice, boiled down is “communication, communication, communication”. The folks who know up front how you like to conduct your relationships are opting in to your pace. If that’s not what they want or what they’re looking for, then hey, better to get that out of the way early so that you and they are both free to go find someone who IS the right match for you.
I would also suggest that you go looking for demisexual men – I promise they’re out there, I hear from them all the time – and give them priority over other dudes. They’re much more likely to be on the same page as you, and your mutual patience will mean that you’re much more sexually compatible than the ones who say you’re leading them on.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org