Real issues around virginity

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Post by inbloomer on Sun Sep 01, 2019 4:18 pm

I saw there’s a discussion on the main site about what at the specific level truly bothers one about being a virgin. I don’t know if Ney, who started it, looks at things here, but independently…

For me I think there are several issues. In terms of what I actually want, a lot about relationships and sex in the generic doesn’t appeal that much, or I can at least see the downsides. However, it is a magical feeling when two of you together are truly more than the sum of your parts, and are sparking off each other and pushing each other to a higher level. I think that can only ever happen in short bursts and you need to know each other very well in the first place. I’ve had that feeling with male friends (though more in the past, when we had more time to hang out together), but never really with anyone female and it’s a shame.

But even if I hadn’t found the ideal life partner by now, received wisdom says I should have had some opportunities for sex and relationships. I just don’t think I’ve had any: although I’ve had plenty of friendships with women, very many outings that were effectively dates even if not explicitly called such, they’ve always stopped just short of that point – and when I have asked explicitly the answer has always been no.

That leaves the constant, spinning question of why. Is it literally that I’ve never met the right person? If so, that’s incompatible with all the messaging about abundance mentality and beautiful, brilliant women round every corner. Is it that I’m making some basic and obvious mistake? There’s pressure to believe it’s that, because it’s the least uncomfortable answer for society. But is that likely, given that I’m not stupid and have been trying at this for so long, and have been devouring dating advice for the past few years? Is it that there really is something wrong with me, some undiagnosed issue? It would have to be severe, given some of the people I’ve known over the years who have successfully found partners. Or is it that the proportion of sex and relationships which truly makes both parties happy is actually much lower than society wants to admit, and really it comes down to be lucky or have really low standards and expectations?

Additionally, I think it is fair to say that I’ve been a common target for women who are feeling a bit lonely and unfulfilled, i.e. they’ve just started a new relationship that they’re unsure about, or they’ve been cheated on, or they’ve just moved to a new city. Out of nowhere they suddenly want to have lots of deep communication and lots of meet-ups, without ever quite crossing into flirting. But as soon as they’re getting on better with the boyfriend or have found other friends, they ghost or fade. The effect is to leave me with the pain of a break-up – even if I absolutely saw it as no more than a friendship, it still hurts – without anything tangible to bank. You can’t refer to someone like that as an ex or as someone you briefly dated.

So yes, I think virginity touches on issues that go far beyond the importance of the specific act.

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Post by Datelessman on Thu Sep 05, 2019 11:46 pm

I saw that discussion, and it's one that has popped up on the main DNL page from time to time. Considering his mission statement and most of his audience, and those who write in, it's unsurprising that it does pop up. As an older male virgin myself, I'd be lying if I said it didn't occupy a lot of my head-space for years worth of time. I have a blog where I've opined about it many times, and I naturally would come out of the woodwork any time the topic came up on the main forum years ago. I don't know if Ney checks here either but it's a good conversation.

I've felt many of those same things myself, especially as I get further and further into my "mid 30's" and greater problems like the risk of homelessness make me think about past regrets. I wonder not only why I didn't manage to have a relationship, but why I was never even capable of attracting even some cheap lust from women I was into throughout my life. All of my friends seemed to cross that plane many times and none of then were Don Juan types or "racked up numbers" of different lovers beyond the "average" of 3-7. We all hung out in the same social circle, knew the same people, had many of the same interests. And it wasn't always a matter of them being any more forceful or persistent with "making moves" than I was to THAT drastic a degree. More period, yes, but not 25% more. Yet women in their orbits just seemed to "like" them, word would get back and things would happen. Most of them, at least in high school and college, would date in reverse. They might "hook up" at a party or after a pub crawl and then actually go on dates or hang out later on. And while I wouldn't say any of them drastically changed in demeanor and temperament after they'd had sex, but ALL of them gained at lease a smidgen more confidence with women after. None of them were quite as awestruck or hesitant or frankly awkward about dating as they were before (again, also without being any drastically different). Could some of them still be oblivious? Yes. I remember being at a bar during a Super Bowl and being stuck in the middle between a pal and a woman who was shamelessly flirting with him all night and he didn't catch on; I actually had to tell him.

But it wasn't just dating. Even women who were friends with me wouldn't seem to hug me or peck me on the cheek as easily or freely as my pals, just in general. They might all find me hilarious, or smart, or even a "good guy," but I just didn't seem to exist as any sort of romantic being to them. And I still don't to most women.

To cut to the chase a bit, I think DNL has the best of intentions, and he and many of the others on the forums genuinely care and want to help. They want to understand while at the same time encourage dudes to be optimistic and progressive, and not despair, which is not an easy feat. But my criticism of any time "the virgin problem" comes up on the forum is that I genuinely feel that DNL and the rest drastically underestimate its effect on the psyche of some dudes and work too hard to encourage them by diminishing that sense of loss or angst. I mean even in last week's article itself, DNL compares the lack of having had sex to the lack of having rode a jet ski, in the name of it being "just any old experience you haven't had."

With all due respect, not everyone jet skis. Society hasn't spent centuries grinding into men's minds that riding a jet ski is a sign of maturity. In fact, I imagine an extremely small proportion of the population has ever rode a jet ski. Yet literally single person on Earth is expected to have sex at least once in their lifetime, and a clear majority of them within the U.S. do so by age 21. It is a near universal experience. Past a certain age nobody expects anyone to have ridden a jet ski, but it is commonly assumed you've had sex or kissed someone or especially been in a relationship which lasted beyond a week. You can't say the same of riding a jet ski, or rocket science, or any other extreme act which DNL always compares "the first time" to. Back in the day DNL compared to riding a roller coaster, and while that's a far better comparison, even that isn't the same.

I also feel DNL vastly overstates just how many people sleep with each other for reasons not at least vaguely specific to the person they chose. Yes, some people have sex due to things like wanting a rebound, or a warm bed for the night, or money, or even to make someone else jealous. But they do NOT just go "eeany meany you the peenie". There has to be something about the person they chose beyond proximity. And that's hardly getting into the fact that most sex happens between people who like each other and feel safe with each other in a way beyond friendship. It may bud from friendship, but it's a plane which is different. There is a shift between, "I could talk to you about French painting for hours" and "I want to touch your lips to mine." And those who have never experienced that but have seen it in others can sense what they haven't had and it is easy to go, "why not me?" at least once. I think sometimes DNL doesn't realize how much some of his advice can seem like (not is, but seem like) it belittles or talks down to people who angst about virginity so much. "Oh you silly goose, it's no more concerning than your haircut. Trust me, I didn't get laid until, gasp, 19."

Finally, while I again know that DNL and the community there genuinely mean well and want to ENCOURAGE people to try no matter what (it's literally how DNL earns a living), I also feel he drastically underestimates how much harder older male virginity gets with each passing year or decade, and how a lot of the angst and pent up feelings about it can snowball. He's right when he says, "hard is not impossible." But hard is still HARD, and not everyone will succeed at "hard." It may seem cruel to pretend like it's not harder for a virgin who is 35 or 45 or 55 or 65 to finally "break the plane" as it were than someone who is 30 or 25 or 21 etc. But I argue it's almost as dishonest to just treat it like it's nothing different than a choice of t-shirt. A man who is 40 and has never ridden a roller coaster or a jet ski is hardly unusual. But one who has never had sex, or even been in any romantic relationship whatsoever, IS a red flag to women, especially in an era where male toxic rage against them seems like it rolls endlessly in newspapers, the media, and life. Many woman cannot afford to be terribly understanding about it, for the sake of their owns safety. And for the older virgins themselves, it can be very difficult to play that numbers game year after year when it only gets harder and harder and harder. Especially when much of the advice they get, if they seek it, is usually a mix of toxic PUA garbage from other sites, or well intended but frankly overly "Pollyanna" diatribes about how we all have to work on creating a better world where virginity doesn't exist and we all sing songs in circles and dance and nobody is mean or judgmental and society hasn't led most men in power to act like monsters which causes this sort of anxiety about virgins. And maybe one day that will be our world, but it won't be anytime soon, and the belief that any individual virgin can just spin around and act like Mr. Slick because hey, they haven't ridden a jet ski either is just lunacy.

I am not saying I have any better advice. And, for the third or fourth time, DNL and the group MEAN WELL. I love them for it. I'd rather take well intended but inaccurate encouragement than toxic PUA stews. But I suppose I wouldn't mind if he and the gang weren't a little more realistic. Not everyone will succeed at harder. And it IS harder. But the best you or I or anyone can do is be the best person they can be and live a fulfilling life regardless. At least as much as possible.
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Post by inbloomer on Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:31 pm

I absolutely agree that if you’re in the position of having been liked by plenty of women but never liked “in that way” the difference seems huge, and when others who don’t have that experience try to trivialise or minimise that it doesn’t help. A woman I once confided in kept going on about how she understood totally because she’d once been single for three whole years. That’s not the same.  

I get what DNL is trying to do in terms of destigmatising it and yes, being in the right place at the right time is clearly a major factor. But with any goal, even if it’s just getting to ride a jet ski, if most other people can achieve it relatively easily yet every single time you try it something goes wrong and you never even get close, that does burrow deeply into your psyche and it’s hard not to get twitchy, which other people easily then jump on and claim is the cause of your lack of success not a symptom.

Having said that, I don’t think finding sexual partners has ever actually been a universal; a century or so ago it was more generally accepted that some would, some wouldn’t. Since then a lot of barriers have been broken down, but no one could claim dating is a solved problem. Digital technologies – email, chatrooms, social media, dating apps – have all turned out to be ultimately rather disappointing, because even though you can technically connect with almost anyone at any time, very often the other person just doesn’t want to.

DNL’s focus has shifted a lot over the years. Originally he was all about cold approaches, but while there are times you can start a conversation with a stranger, it’s very unlikely to lead to anything major and women are now defensively primed against PUAs. Then he was all about online dating and gaming the perfect profile and icebreakers: I’m one of many people who has tried apps and found them very unproductive for finding people you might actually want to date - the reasons are complex but it’s a common experience. Now he says your best chance is through your daily activities and social groups.

Which I agree with, but he does put a lot on this one script of you march up to her and say “I would like to take you on a date this Friday”, and either she says yes and you live happily ever after or she says no and “don’t start no awkwardness and there won’t be none”. Which … for a start is not exactly new advice, Jane Austen would recognise the substance of that script, and I think it does underplay the real-world risks and complications. Like, it’s human nature to be extremely avoidant (i.e. say yes when you really mean no), to be bad at keeping secrets, and to be wary around anyone who has form for springing difficult conversations on you. And these days, pretty much any approach outside of a dating app could potentially be seen as inappropriate. (DNL himself has said no relationship is 100% equal, e.g. there’s always some power imbalance.) So you can kind of understand why people either get too scared to take any social risks, or decide they might as well go the whole hog and send a dick pic.

Everyone’s agreed that if you ever meet someone who is a slam dunk – there’s clearly mutual attraction and compatibility – then that’s all fine. But outside of that eventuality, I’ve yet to find any really solid, helpful advice for what you can do.

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