Dr. Nerdlove's Loveline Special from 5/8/19: I was the First Caller! Discussion, anyone?

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Post by Datelessman on Mon May 13, 2019 11:54 pm

I thought long and hard as to which section this should go in, and since my question was intended to be more about social trends than specific advice for me personally, I thought it should go here. Obviously if any mod disagrees, move it to its final destination.

Anyway, so this past Wednesday Doctor Nerdlove (DNL) had his first "Loveline Special" in this new era of his podcast, alongside co-host Crystal Donovan. It wasn't live but he set up a voicemail and collected questions since the start of 2019. I thought long and hard before I called in, since I wanted to introduce a topic which I felt I had some stake in in a way which would invite some good discussion of it. Not only did he select my question, but it kicked off the show! I was beyond honored and flattered! Plus, for any who are curious, I use my real first name and that is, of course, my voice.



The show is about an hour but my call comes in at the 2:10 minute mark. DNL and his co-host Crystal Donovan spend about 6 minutes on it. There also is another caller named Patrick who presented a call with similar themes, where I am referenced again, at the 28:40 mark.

The joke I make it a little awkward, which DNL noted (although Crystal seemed to disagree). I wanted to use it to sort of hint at some of my previous posts at the other forum, like a signature.
https://i.servimg.com/u/f12/19/72/70/30/dmproo10.png
https://i.servimg.com/u/f12/19/72/70/30/dmproo11.png
https://i.servimg.com/u/f12/19/72/70/30/dmproo12.png

From three topics on DNL:
https://www.doctornerdlove.com/why-you-should-fake-it/#IDComment997053297

https://www.doctornerdlove.com/ask-dr-nerdlove-admit-im-virgin/#disqus_thread

https://www.doctornerdlove.com/fear-of-virginity/#disqus_thread

I know, the topic of older male virginity and I can't seem to separate each other, but I felt it was certainly one I had experienced and I wanted to present it in my own way. The incident I allude to in the phone call was actually centered around witnessed a "trash talking session" my manager and co-workers were engaging in at work in 2016, where mocking men for presumed sexual inexperience was treated as a commonly accepted joke and while I hardly took it personally, since it wasn't about me, a part of me wondered if there was a way to make that or similar moments with men teachable.

I didn't pop up in the podcast's topic on DNL for two reasons. One, I was banned, and even though it's not an IP ban, I felt trying to make up a new account just to do so without any "official" permission to return from a mod would be sleazy and misunderstood. And two, I feared some of my old patterns would repeat if I returned there and I'd ware out my welcome again. This forum is about more my speed. But I figured for the sake of honesty and possibly making a discussion, I'd do so here.

Once again, I was beyond honored to be featured here, and hopefully my question helped craft the show and give other people some insights. I was happy to contribute.
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Post by KMR on Thu May 16, 2019 2:47 pm

Congratulations on being featured on the podcast!

I was wondering if you had some kind of specific questions that you wanted to be addressed in this discussion, or if this was more just an open invitation to voice any kinds of thoughts someone else might have on this topic?

For instance, did you feel that DNL and Crystal did not fully answer the question you asked and wanted to address that question with others to get a clearer answer? Were you curious about other people's takes on the points that DNL and Crystal made in response to your question and wanted to further expand on those topics?

I'd be happy to try and engage in a discussion on a broad topic like this, but I organize my thoughts a lot better when there are specific questions that I can reflect on and it's a little vague for me right now.
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Post by Datelessman on Thu May 16, 2019 10:08 pm

More of an open invitation. I am curious about other people's reactions to the topic and the answers given by DNL and Crystal, or their own takes on the subject at large.

For the record, I have always disagreed with some of DNL's opinions and takes on the subject, but I am hesitant to turn this into a debate in absentia with him. I realize why he has those opinions where he differ on the subject, and know that a lot of the reasons for them on his part have to do with good intentions. Let's say that I was hardly surprised by DNL's response, since he's consistent from his columns. Crystal had a good rapport and added a lot to the whole podcast, IMO.
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Post by KMR on Fri May 17, 2019 12:38 am

All right, then I'll just throw out some general thoughts on the subject. This may be overly general to the point of uselessness, however. Smile

Your question was regarding the societal stigma around older male virginity. The way I see it, there are two components to this. One is the external reaction from others about male virgins: the stereotypes and attributes ascribed to this group based on perceptions and cultural conditioning, which influences how people outside the group talk about and behave toward people who fit into that group (or whoever they assume may fit into that group). The second is internalization of this stigma by individuals within the group: the ways in which these individuals perceive themselves and conceptualize this aspect of themselves in the construction of their own identities.

Your question sounds like it's leaning more towards asking about how to deal with the former, whereas the discussion from DNL and Crystal seems to digress more toward the latter. I think this is because it's hard to give actionable advice to individuals on how to deal with issues on a societal scale, whereas it's easier to provide strategies for managing one's own internal feelings and behaviors. (Not saying that it's easy to actually CHANGE one's own internal conceptions, that's a very difficult thing to do, but just that you generally have more control over yourself than you do over others.) Additionally, I agree with the point DNL makes that people will take their cues from you, and that the more you act like it's a big deal, the more other people will perceive it as a big deal, and vice versa. Just as external forces and stereotypes can influence one's own internal conceptions, so can one's internalization of those stigmas reinforce and perpetuate societal stereotypes. It's circular.

Now, I have to admit that I personally have not really encountered the external component of this stigma very much. Either I don't associate with the kind of people who hold these kinds of negative attitudes or have just not been privy to those conversations. I'm aware that these attitudes exist to some degree, but my only data points come from secondhand accounts and some pop culture. On the other hand, I have personally encountered a number of people who have internalized these negative attitudes and expressed those concerns and feelings, in addition to secondhand accounts of this (e.g. people describing some of the conversations in incel communities) and pop culture. I've also seen people express sentiments that run counter to this stigma, saying that older virginity is not that big a deal and wouldn't make them think less of someone. So from my own perspective, it's difficult for me to tell what proportion of the stigma truly stems from these external forces versus how much of it is being amplified by the internalization. If I base my understanding solely on my personal experience, it feels like the latter is the bigger issue. Someone else, who encounters a lot more of the external negativity surrounding this topic, would likely feel like the former is the bigger driving force. Without more objective data, we really don't know which is closer to the truth. But this is likely where some of the disagreements stem between those who are concerned about their virginity and those who try to reassure them that it's not as big a deal as they're making it out to be.
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Post by Datelessman on Fri May 17, 2019 11:01 pm

I doubt any reply you could make would be "useless." Useless is bot spam. Razz

You're right that I framed my question as less as a personal one for me as an individual and more about confronting older male virgin opinions. I did this for a few reasons. One, I figured another caller would ask a more personal question as it's a common theme with DNL's column. Secondly, I wanted my call to be different than "woe is me for I am virgin," even if barely. Thirdly, I thought it was an interesting question that I put a few weeks of thought into. I wasn't surprised that DNL and Crystal mostly responded to it as a personal question, nor did I mind too much. I mean, this kind of stuff is on my mind because I am one. Even when such comments or opinions are not geared towards me directly -- and few are -- they are noticeable because I am a part of that "community", or at least classification.

I interpreted DNL and Crystal's advice to one degree as embodying the change that you want to see in society in regards to "better opinions of older male virgins in society" through one's own actions and demeanor. It isn't bad advice, although a part of me doubt that it forms a dent or does much to change opinions beyond individual or "exceptional" basis. I mean, big manly superheroes like Captain America and Superman are often interpreted, at least in modern interpretations, as being fairly close to virgins themselves until an older-than-average age, but the mainstream opinion is still low.

Now, one thing I do want to make clear is that the "stigma" that exists for my fellow untouched is due all but entirely to other men. It was men who constructed the social "rules" and norms for the betterment and advantage of other men -- and even then, the upwardly mobile. It is often older male virgins themselves who do a good (or bad) job of perpetuating the stereotypes with their own behavior. And I include myself in that, since there have been plenty of times documented by online text where I was being petty or stubborn or displayed bad or misguided opinions about women or even had a tantrum. Perhaps not on the level or scale, or rate, as many of the average people on "incel" boards, but still enough that I can't just hand-wave myself from that sort of statement either. I do my best and feel I'm "not as bad," but that's not as good as I could be either. And obviously, murderous subhumans who kill others and blame being single for it are a large chunk of this too. While I am not denying that some women can and have carried this low opinions of virgin dudes, but that I feel it's more to do with them emulating the social rules and feelings around them, as we all do about a variety of things. Plus, women are often the targets and victims of men, and bad male behavior, and so I feel they may fairly owe it to themselves to be extra careful or maybe even unforgiving of men at the first hint of a problem.

I feel that "playing off something as no big deal" isn't quite as effective as DNL feels it is, and I disagree that a lack of any experience at romance is no greater a disadvantage in dating or even many in depth conversations than a lack of quantum physics knowledge. Talk about a previous lover or even the opposite sex or relationships due to lived experiences which most people take for granted as universal comes up a lot more often than talk about physics, at least outside NASA. But I digress.

I have "encountered the external component of this stigma" quite a few times, including once earlier this year, and they're all male dominated. Probably the harshest was in 2013 when I was new to Facebook when one of my best friends, nearing my birthday, made a status topic asking if anyone of his circle knew a, to paraphrase, "desperate drunken slut with no standards for my friend who has a birthday coming". While I was not tagged or named, virtually all of my friends and major associates at the time (which included several women) responded and seemed to know who he was "implying". One highlight was a woman who I once crushed on in high school stating, "if it hasn't happened by now, it probably never will." It wasn't fun reading my friends have a good in joke at my expense, even though ultimately I thought my pal's intentions were good, just bone-headed in his delivery. The incident which inspired my call to Loveline was actually from 2016 and at work. It was a phone sales job and my manager was keeping the flow of the office going with a session of give and take trash talking with his pal and a co-worker, who was also one of the lead sales. At one point he jokes to the office, "don't be a 40 year old virgin like ____ is!" The irony of course is that he was far from a virgin -- in fact if memory series he was pushing 40 and dating a young woman who was barely 21, if that, and usually bragged about it. But the sheer wall shattering laughter of everyone in the room, who were mostly men but included a few women, stuck with me. It was like my supervisor just invented "that's what she said." The last was earlier this winter/spring, in an incident I noted in the "rants" section here, where the lone MRA I hadn't banned from my social feed for a variety of lame reasons decided to bring his toxic personality to me after I wrote and promoted an article that I write professionally for a comics website which was about CAPTAIN MARVEL, because she became the symbol of "feminazis" to men who hate women. I'd sat on the fence with him and tolerated his crud on my friends feed for way longer than I should have, and with more than one woman who was a creator on my feed watching I took my stand and tore into him. He threw me being a virgin in my face against me, which I assumed he knew from being an associate of my key group of guy friends. Ironically it was that incident that stuck with me the least -- I dismissed it as the ravings of a man-child. Granted, 2019 is not 2013, so maybe I gained perspective. Still, a part of me always  imagined what would have happened if I took a stand and made it more "teachable". Could I have changed minds, or protested too much? And isn't being silent condoning it?

On the other hand, I have read or heard many women express their takes on older male virginity as being at worst neutral for them and at best no big deal. Perhaps even from you, but it's a fairly common opinion on DNL. So I suppose the natural takeaway is, why focus on what men think of it since they're the cause of it? And for me my answer would be that it's tough to unpack mainstream social opinions, and I think the amount of women who go with them and consider it a "red flag" are underrepresented in the "romantic advice for male geeks" circles for obvious reasons. That and I feel it's a lot like asking someone if they'd date a handicapped person. Almost to a man, or woman, would they say they would, because overwise that's nakedly admitting to being shallow or a jerk. But how many really would, or have, or do? Exactly. Now being a virgin and being handicapped are two totally different things, but it was the best comparison I could think of right now.

As DNL has said, no one can tell who is a virgin and who isn't. One of the advantages of outgrowing the hormone pressure cookers of high school and college, absolutely no one accuses someone of being a virgin or uses it as some common insult. Ironically, it's the stigma of virginity that leads to that common assumption -- that no person past a certain age is one. The problem I feel is that many of the consequences of a lack of romantic success -- physical awkwardness, extreme shyness, an unwillingness or inability to touch even casually, little skill at reading cues or even honking signals -- thus become misunderstood as being worse than they are, and it loops into itself.
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Post by inbloomer on Sat May 18, 2019 6:56 pm

Some thoughts from different angles on this subject…

Technically, late virginity shouldn’t be a problem. One of the most useful comments I’ve seen on the topic is that as a skill, having sex is not like being a concert violinist or a ski jumper, where there’s an elite standard that you’re never going to reach if you didn’t start really early. It’s more like riding a bike, where everyone is a bit wobbly and unsure the first few times but soon plateaus out at much the same level.

I do think that while older virgins (men and women) are unquestionably a minority, they are a bigger minority than often thought, because of the stigma around it. The rule of thumb is that most people, even those in relationships, are having less sex than you think they are.

Although incels talk about sexual privilege in a reductive way – success definitely isn’t all about looks or height – it’s hard to deny that some people never seem to have any trouble finding partners (they’re in a really long-term relationship, it ends for reasons not their fault, then within three weeks they’ve found someone even better), while others go through failure after setback after failure. I’ve seen this in other areas of life, e.g. some people have unhealthy lifestyles yet never get ill, while others have super-healthy lifestyles yet go from one serious medical issue to the next.  

I absolutely loathe the trope that late virgins inevitably have terrible social skills, because it’s self-reinforcing and often simply wrong. Over the years I’ve met enough people who were painfully shy and awkward yet in the “no trouble finding partners” group, and others who could effortlessly charm a room full of strangers yet really struggled to form intimate relationships.

Having said all that, part of the Atlantic article about the sex recession does suggest that if you reach your mid-twenties with zero romantic/sexual experience, your chances of shifting that any time soon drop dramatically – and that’s the same for men and women. The article doesn’t have firm answers, but vaguely suggests that inhibition takes root and grows stronger the longer you are not experiencing those situations.

On the practical side, I think most people will, if they can, date within the small circle of people they know best anyway. But your mid-twenties is when having a posse to hang out with all the time gets a lot harder, because everyone is busy and juggling multiple commitments. Approaching random people has always had a very low success rate, and it seems pretty widely accepted now that online dating is not as effective as it was originally marketed as being.

I also think there’s probably something in the theory about the cumulative effect of small hurts. Nearly everyone goes through some preteen and teenage traumas related to social rejection, which are unpleasant at the time but shouldn’t ruin you for life. But I do wonder if particular patterns of early rejection, combined with certain personality types and lack of support, can add up to more serious and long-lasting traumas than is generally understood.

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Post by waxingjaney on Sat May 18, 2019 9:34 pm

inbloomer wrote:Having said all that, part of the Atlantic article about the sex recession does suggest that if you reach your mid-twenties with zero romantic/sexual experience, your chances of shifting that any time soon drop dramatically – and that’s the same for men and women.

Anecdotally, there seems to be a burst of people having their first romantic/sexual experience in their late 20s, then another smaller group in their mid-late 30s. Older than that, and the prospects do fall off to just about none.
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Post by Datelessman on Sun May 19, 2019 4:55 am

inbloomer wrote:Some thoughts from different angles on this subject…

Technically, late virginity shouldn’t be a problem. One of the most useful comments I’ve seen on the topic is that as a skill, having sex is not like being a concert violinist or a ski jumper, where there’s an elite standard that you’re never going to reach if you didn’t start really early. It’s more like riding a bike, where everyone is a bit wobbly and unsure the first few times but soon plateaus out at much the same level.

I do think that while older virgins (men and women) are unquestionably a minority, they are a bigger minority than often thought, because of the stigma around it. The rule of thumb is that most people, even those in relationships, are having less sex than you think they are.

Welcome to the board, inbloomer!

You are right, that in theory not having had sex is merely the lack of a particular skill or experience which is fleeting at best and shouldn't add or subtract value from a person. In practice, however, I think most of society expects people to have had sex by the time they graduate college, and beyond that it's seen as "different" in a way which a lot of other skills and traits are not. Life's full of weirdos and unique individuals, but someone who reaches, say, mid to late 30's or older without sex usually has assumptions placed on them.

I do find it a tad ironic that DNL sometimes attempts to soothe angst about a lack of sexual experience by comparing it to having never ridden a roller coaster before. He means well, with the best of intentions. He wants to motivate and encourage. But...most people past a certain age have ridden roller coasters. Typically when young. In fact I could imagine a slew of people finding it weird or at least "sheltered" to meet someone who was 30 or over and hadn't ever ridden one. The only difference is that rectifying that is a lot easier and doesn't take nearly as much work, or luck.

Although incels talk about sexual privilege in a reductive way – success definitely isn’t all about looks or height – it’s hard to deny that some people never seem to have any trouble finding partners (they’re in a really long-term relationship, it ends for reasons not their fault, then within three weeks they’ve found someone even better), while others go through failure after setback after failure. I’ve seen this in other areas of life, e.g. some people have unhealthy lifestyles yet never get ill, while others have super-healthy lifestyles yet go from one serious medical issue to the next.

Some guys have all the luck. Some guys have all the pain. Some guys get all the breaks. Some guys do nothing but complain...

Rod Stewart literally sang a song about this once.


Joking aside, this totally seems to be the case. But beyond that, I think what vexes some older virgins isn't the fact that there are studs or goddesses whose success seems effortless, with perhaps the key word being "seems." What may vex them are everyone else who maybe isn't a stud or a goddess but still manage to eke or stumble their way into more romantic success. At least that was how it was with me and my guy-friends through high school and college. In high school we were all on the semi "fringe" side; we wore black, we liked metal, we liked anime & comics, and we played tabletop RPG's. This was the mid to late 90's when such things were still considered niche. None of us were jocks (although some were more athletic than others) and even to this day none of my pals could claim a number of different lovers in high single digits. But they all hit that 3-7 lover average for most American men without necessarily being tremendously skilled seducers. Women in our social circle seemed to eventually gravitate towards one or the other of them, or one of them might have some success during a pub or club crawl. I found bars and clubs overwhelming for me socially; to this day I may be able to hold court in a small gathering, but in a bar or club I am drowned out. I just for some reason was never among them, and I never quite figured why. I was always a woman's boyfriend's wacky pal. And then we all grew up and have had our own lives.

I absolutely loathe the trope that late virgins inevitably have terrible social skills, because it’s self-reinforcing and often simply wrong. Over the years I’ve met enough people who were painfully shy and awkward yet in the “no trouble finding partners” group, and others who could effortlessly charm a room full of strangers yet really struggled to form intimate relationships.

Having said all that, part of the Atlantic article about the sex recession does suggest that if you reach your mid-twenties with zero romantic/sexual experience, your chances of shifting that any time soon drop dramatically – and that’s the same for men and women. The article doesn’t have firm answers, but vaguely suggests that inhibition takes root and grows stronger the longer you are not experiencing those situations.

On the practical side, I think most people will, if they can, date within the small circle of people they know best anyway. But your mid-twenties is when having a posse to hang out with all the time gets a lot harder, because everyone is busy and juggling multiple commitments. Approaching random people has always had a very low success rate, and it seems pretty widely accepted now that online dating is not as effective as it was originally marketed as being.

I also think there’s probably something in the theory about the cumulative effect of small hurts. Nearly everyone goes through some preteen and teenage traumas related to social rejection, which are unpleasant at the time but shouldn’t ruin you for life. But I do wonder if particular patterns of early rejection, combined with certain personality types and lack of support, can add up to more serious and long-lasting traumas than is generally understood.

I assume you mean this article? I had to Google it: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/12/the-sex-recession/573949/

DNL had a podcast about this recently and there's some debate as to how accurate the figures are. While it is universally acknowledged that there seems to be less reported sex going on lately than before to a degree that it is statistically notable for sociologists, it's debatable as to how drastic a degree it is overall. The economy is bad, but it's been bad before. Politics is divisive, but it's also been that before. The rise of media and technology may be a factor; having ready access to pornography, for example, became less of a luxury in the 80's and 90's, and has become about as easy as getting tap water in the 21st century. Women's liberation has been a factor, and a positive one I'd say. Marriage rates have gone down, the rate of divorce has gone up, student loan debt is one factor causing many people to delay various "milestones" like home ownership or even moving out, and various online cults seeking to "weaponize" angry lonely men are all over the place in a way where even in the early 2000's they were still reduced to random newsletters on truck stops.

There's a lot about life and society which is traumatizing. Growing up as a person of color, and/or in poverty, or queer, can arguably be a traumatizing experience unto itself. A lack of romantic experience and/or habitual rejection in the face of the genuine or conceived belief that "everyone else succeeds at it" can become traumatizing, or self fulfilling.

waxingjaney wrote:
inbloomer wrote:Having said all that, part of the Atlantic article about the sex recession does suggest that if you reach your mid-twenties with zero romantic/sexual experience, your chances of shifting that any time soon drop dramatically – and that’s the same for men and women.

Anecdotally, there seems to be a burst of people having their first romantic/sexual experience in their late 20s, then another smaller group in their mid-late 30s. Older than that, and the prospects do fall off to just about none.

Definitely. Dating over 30 can be rough for nearly anyone, but especially for those for whom it never came naturally, or for whom it never came when social settings like college were arguably more conducive.
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