DEAR DR. NERDLOVE: I’m an almost 37-year-old female virgin who is in good shape, makes good money, owns my own home, and considering my social awkwardness has a large circle of similarly weird and intellectual friends. But I badly want to be married and have a biological child or two, and time is running out for that to happen. The issue is that I have literally never once in my life experienced mutual attraction.
I’ve always been shy, nerdy, awkward, over-analytical, and had deep niche interests, so much so that I had myself officially tested for autism a few years back, but I’m apparently neurotypical. I also have a lifelong secret fantasy of being sexually dominant with a man that I despair of ever putting into action. I see myself as average-looking, neither attractive enough for my looks to be a significant plus on their own, nor ugly enough for them to be a significant minus if a guy likes my personality, but I may be overestimating my own attractiveness based on the reactions of guys whom I thought were in my league.
I like shy, nerdy, gentle-seeming men whom I can imagine pushing down and ripping the clothes off and making whimper. But every one I’ve ever encountered who wasn’t already taken has ignored me, and gently or soft-rejected me on the rare occasions I got up the courage to ask them out. Typically they seem to end up with more conventionally hot, outgoing women. Conversely, I’m repelled by dominant, outgoing, conventionally manly men; I can deal with them as friends, but can’t shake the feeling that they have more potential to be abusive or unfaithful in a relationship, and can’t imagine opening up to them sexually even if they’re physically attractive. The thought of being sexually dominated by a man is pretty equivalent in my mind to being raped. And the only men who have ever shown romantic interest in me have been those dominant, outgoing men who weren’t even physically attractive. I’ve even been in several situations where a man I’ve rejected has become aggressive and stalkerish, which for a woman who has never even had a relationship just feels comically, cosmically unfair.
I’ve kept detailed journals dating from around when I first started noticing boys early in high school, and I’ve spent the last month or so reading back through these and adding up all my disappointments. And I’ve objectively determined that so far in my lifetime, there have been 31 guys I’ve liked who haven’t liked me (8 of whom I asked out and was rejected by; the rest just ignored me, often when I was making every effort to get them to notice and like me short of actually asking them out); 13 guys who’ve liked me whom I haven’t liked (3 of whom got scary when rejected; the rest took it decently); and a grand total of zero guys I’ve liked who have also liked me.
(This is only counting in-person interactions; I’ve tried various dating sites and apps, but it’s just been more of the same, i.e., I only get messaged by men I’m not interested in, usually because they seem too macho, too conservative, and/or not intellectual enough, and none of the ones I message or match with are ever interested in me.)
I’m not looking to achieve any kind of epic body count here; I just need one compatible, mutually attracted partner for the rest of my life. What steps can I take to make that happen within the next year or two?
Only Want What Can’t Have
DEAR ONLY WANT WHAT I CAN’T HAVE: Attraction and compatibility are complex and wild beasties, OWWICH, and it’s important to remember that there’s rarely a single reason why anybody does or doesn’t struggle with meeting someone.
However, there’re a couple areas that tend to be the most common sticking points when folks have a difficult time finding a mutual match.
One is, obviously, presentation. The thing folks often don’t get about attractiveness is that it’s at least partially artifice. Someone can look model-hot when they’ve got a full face on and they’re dressed to the nines, but be absolutely unremarkable when they’ve just rolled out of bed or are dressed to go for a run or hit the gym.
Average looks often really means “average presentation”; a change in style, grooming or make-up can be transformative. So one thing that may help for you is to work on your look and style. What you’re doing now may be functional, but it may not evoke who you are as a person or play to your best aspects. It may also simply not signal to the people you’re most interested in. If you’re a domme in potentia, but you’re dressing like an office worker even in your off days, you’re not sending those signals to potential submissive men about who you are and what you’re about.
There’re a number of options for you to work on your presentation; this is an area where women are a bit luckier than men, since y’all have a head start on it being permissible to say “I need to learn how to do this”. I’d suggest trying to decide the sort of vibe or sexy archetype you feel resonates the most with you and look to start inhabiting it. Going someplace like Sephora or Ulta and asking for some advice on make-up that will help evoke those vibes can be a good start. So too would looking at styles on Instagram, Pintrest and elsewhere to give you a starting point that you can use as a baseline.
This is also going to be about attitude. Look at some of the characters in geek circles who get the “please step on me” crowd going. Lady Dimitrescu dresses like a lady of means from the 20s and 30s, but her demeanor (and, admittedly, size) is what draws people in and makes them say “punish me, I’ve been bad”. The same blend of confidence, authority and control is part of the appeal of both overtly domme-coded characters like Bayonetta and less-overt ones like Susan Ivanova. The more you cultivate and can inhabit that sort of character, the more you’re going to find folks who vibe with it. You don’t need to be going around barking commands or reminding people that Thou Shalt Not Question Ivanova’s Orders, but carrying yourself with that same level of attitude will go a long, long way.
Another thing to consider is what I tell people all the time: if you want people who are of a certain type, figure out where those folks are most likely to hang out and spend time there. Now, you say that you’re interested in submissive men who are into dominant women. Well, the most obvious place to start, in my opinion, would be to get connected to your local kink community. You’re going to have a much easier time finding submissive men looking for a dominant woman in an area where those submissive men have already pre-selected themselves than by going around hoping to find them by random chance.
Do some research – Google may be a decent starting place, but I’d also suggest specific subreddits and even Fetlife – and find a munch (an informal kink community get-together) in your area and join them. Getting more connected in the kink scene and making friends there will not only help you hone your desires to be the top in your relationships, but also help you connect with guys who are looking for precisely what you’re offering.
And as a bonus, if you start learning more about kink, topping and BDSM, you’ll feel more confident in yourself and in going after what (and who you want). Those more submissive guys aren’t always going to volunteer themselves or leap into your path and beg you to step on them. Sometimes you’re going to have to be the one to make the moves that draw them in. If you’ve had some experience with being the dominant in a scene – even if kink and BDSM isn’t necessarily where your interests lie – you’re going to feel more empowered to make the first move, especially in ways that some of those guys are going to respond to. Confidence and courage, after all, are about attitude and self-belief. If you know what you are capable of and what you’re worth, it’s much easier to say “ok I’m into you, let’s do this,” rather than having to build and build up to the point of being able to say something, only to find out that they’ve already been asked by someone else.
Now, to be sure: this is going to take trial and error. As with anyone who is trying to find their true, best self, you’re going to experiment with things that may not work out for you. That’s perfectly normal and it’s part of the process. You have to be prepared for some dead ends, some false starts and learning that some of the things you thought you wanted weren’t what you needed. But by learning how to best express and inhabit your true self, you’ll make it that much easier to find the folks who are looking for precisely what you offer and how to draw them in.
Please send your questions to Dr. NerdLove at his website (www.doctornerdlove.com/contact); or to his email, firstname.lastname@example.org