Depression and dating

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Post by Enail on Thu Nov 22, 2018 12:17 am

ReploidArmada wrote:
At this point, I'm utterly convinced that one of two things is going to happen: Either one, I'm going to die without ever having sex or being in a relationship, or two, that I'll end up going insane long before I meet someone worthy of my time. People keep telling me that it's "normal" to go several first dates without ever getting a second date, but if that's the case, then how do normal, well-adjusted people keep going through the rejections and failures?!

It seems like you pin a lot of your hopes for your future and self-worth on dating in general, which translates into a lot of pressure on any given date or date possibility to work out. That might land up making rejections a lot more painful and upsetting to you than they are to a lot of other people. As frustrating as it is, the more you want something, the more you feel you need something, the more it hurts when you don't get it; I think if you can work on finding ways to spread out some of the hopes and needs you're currently putting into your search for a relationship onto more different aspects of your life, you might find the ups and downs of dating life a lot less hard on you emotionally.
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Post by ReploidArmada on Mon Nov 26, 2018 11:03 pm

You're right, I do pin a lot of my hopes and dreams and self-worth on dating, and on each date. I don't know how to change that, though. I feel like changing how much hope I put into each date is kinda like changing who I am as a person, which is a very difficult thing to do in the best of circumstances.

Anyway, I did decide to do something recently: I posted a couple threads asking for advice about my lack of second dates on Reddit, one on r/dating and one on r/dating_advice. Some of the advice I got was... not very helpful (someone said "You're the kind of guy who will attract single mothers and damaged women... only date the damaged girls for the medium term, just to get practice and be seen with them," which is very much NOT something I'm going to take to heart anytime soon) but some of the advice ranged from sort-of-helpful to actually helpful. Here's some of the "sort-of-helpful" stuff:

  • "You don't know how to flirt? DUDE, read articles or watch YouTube videos from dating coaches. They're literally everywhere."
  • "I know it's not as easy as 'just don't be needy', but you really need to tone it down."
  • "Coffee dates are kinda half friend zoning yourself because they feel like a meeting."
And some of the useful stuff:

  • "Well, if you think of "flirting", what do you associate it with? Think for a moment, then read my list:

    • Playfulness
    • Eye contact
    • Touches
    • Romance
    Those are some of the cornerstones / key points of flirting. Keep it light and playful. Challenge her on her beliefs. Tease her with a smirk. Keep deep eye contact, accentuate your sentences with light touches when appropriate."
  • "Asking for permission is super unsexy, but so is doing it against their will, obviously. Women like assertive men who "go for what they want", but obviously also respect boundaries. So if they look like they dislike what you're doing, stop. That said, you don't need special permission for light touches. They're generally acceptable."
  • "If anything, ask your date what she likes to do or give your date options (and be more open-minded with doing those options) and come to an agreement together."
  • "Definitely do not do full disclosure like that. I guarantee that drove her away. Look up "onion theory of communication" to get an idea of timing of when to disclose our baggage. Depression is a scary thing for most people, hence it's heavy baggage. Save that little bomb for when she already likes you and you know more of her baggage."
  • "Keep asking questions, get your butt in therapy, try speed dating for some extra experience, practice keeping ladies attention just by chatting up randos on the street and in stores..."

I don't know how much of that I'll be able to put into practice - or how long it will take to do so - but, it's nice to have some extra sources of help and advice. What do you folks think about the above?

EDIT: I had a bit of a revelation as I was chatting with some lady friends on Second Life, of all places. I realized that the likely number one thing I can do to improve my mental state right now, and possibly improve my chances of finding someone, is to learn how to be patient with myself. Granted, that is a very difficult thing to do, but I feel like that one change - if I manage to do it - would help me get rid of my desperation towards love, help fix the "hopes and dreams" distribution that Enail pointed out, and help get rid of my fear that I only have a very limited time in order to find someone. That last one, in turn, might help me in other ways.

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Post by ReploidArmada on Mon Dec 03, 2018 8:39 pm

I read the latest DNL post about the 27 year old guy who wrote in asking if his lack of dating experience at his age was killing his chances of finding someone. Holy balls, that one read like I wrote it Sad

Everything in that first letter feels like it came out of my life, except the chemotherapy part. Social rejection, body image issues, not having a relationship until "very late" age-wise, depression, college completion issues, feeling old, feeling pressure to "catch up" with where he "should have been" at his age... And that's just the second paragraph Sad

I feel like there's a lot of overlap between that guy and myself, just based on what he wrote down in his letter to DNL.

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Post by berrybear on Wed Dec 26, 2018 10:45 am

Dating is a good way to avoid depression, by the way!

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Post by ReploidArmada on Wed Dec 26, 2018 12:10 pm

Well, it would be, if I was having any sort of luck with it. I'm not. That's kinda been the point of this thread: My dating life is non-existent in part because of my depression, and I've been trying to brainstorm ways to work through it, get dates, gain romantic and sexual experience, and find a partner.

Lately though, many of my usual friends and allies here have been busy with other things. Maybe everyone's been taking the holidays off? I dunno!

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Post by Enail on Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:06 pm

Uh, wow, no, Berrybear, dating is a terrible way to avoid depression, that's a super-unhealthy mindset!

<mod>That said, Berrybear has been looking an awful lot like a spammer for a while; I've let it go on this long because they are enough more topic-relevant and less spammy than most spammers and I wanted to give them a chance in case I was wrong and they weren't. And also 'cause I forgot about it Razz  But at this point, I think it's getting disruptive. So I've PM'd them for a little clarification in case they are genuine and put their posting on hold, and I'd ask that people don't reply to them while I give it a little time to see whether I've made a rather rude mistake or not. Thanks!</mod>
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Post by ReploidArmada on Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:15 pm

Hehe, no worries Enail! I'm happy to see you post again though Smile Did you have a good Christmas/Crimbo/holiday?

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Post by Enail on Wed Dec 26, 2018 3:54 pm

Yeah, low-key but nice, how about you?
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Post by ReploidArmada on Wed Dec 26, 2018 6:27 pm

My dad doesn't really celebrate holidays, but I talked him into buying a ham so we could have a good holiday dinner this year. Otherwise it was just another day to not have to work Razz

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Post by Enail on Wed Dec 26, 2018 7:20 pm

A day off is a nice thing to have!
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Post by ReploidArmada on Thu Dec 27, 2018 6:28 pm

I got official confirmation today: The last lady I was crushing on, one of my former coworkers, is in fact dating one of my current coworkers. Pardon me while I go watch my hopes and dreams die a horrible, bloody death. Again.

I'm really, really sick and tired of having zero, or less than zero, luck with ladies. Every encounter with someone I've been attracted to or interested in has ended poorly. Even Jen, the one woman I went on more than a single date with, was someone I couldn't have sex with. Maybe that could be chalked up to inexperience or bad luck instead of physical incompatibility, but the latter would fit the patterns of my dating life. My time on OKCupid has gone similarly, with one of two things happening: Either I don't get a date in the first place, or the dates I do get never amount to anything.

I feel like I'm at a point where, if things don't get better soon, I might end up doing something drastic in the near future. I'm not sure what that something would be; Knowing me, I could see myself either risking criminal charges to find a sex worker and just get that virginity thing over with, or I might end up straying down the path of self-harm. I truly do hope neither of things occurs, but I'm starting to get despondent beyond belief.

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Post by Enail on Thu Dec 27, 2018 7:06 pm

<mod>Hey Reploid, I'm sorry you're feeling so bad, but your post is straying towards stuff that's not suitable for this forum, so I'm going to ask you to remember that this is not a site where it's okay to talk about self-harm as if it's a reasonable decision, and if you're finding that kind of thinking heavily on your mind, you need to talk with your therapist or other official mental health resources about that. Look after yourself!</mod>
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Post by ReploidArmada on Thu Dec 27, 2018 9:56 pm

...Sorry, Enail. If it's any help to hear, those self-harming thoughts are faint and at the back of my mind right now. I'm just very worried that, with my dating life and lack of success the way they've been, I'll end up getting to that point. Unfortunately for me, my therapist (when I do get to see him nowadays) is laser-focused on things like my self-care, hygiene, and socialization skills, instead of what I feel like I need to work on (like my desperation, feelings of worthlessness, etc).

If we can disregard that for a moment, though: What am I supposed to do with myself right now? My last crush paired up with someone else I know, and I'm feeling very crappy about it. I currently don't have anyone else I'm attracted to, and online dating is working about as well right now as a snowblower in the desert. If I should focus on myself right now, then what should I do first? There's like twenty different things I feel like I need to do! And, of course, doing those doesn't help with my mind telling me that I need to be paired up with someone immediately lest I become somehow undesirable and, therefore, completely unable to date in the future.

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Post by Enail on Thu Dec 27, 2018 10:24 pm

Well, maybe it would be good to give a try at working on one of the things your therapist is focused on? And then maybe you could accompany that with giving him a push to put some attention to one of the things that you're concerned about. A balance between the two might work.
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Post by ReploidArmada on Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:58 pm

Eh, maybe that would work. I was also considering switching therapists, though. I feel like he's had a history of doing things like asking me to do too much at once, or making me feel bad or worse about slip-ups or failed tasks, and I feel like I need a therapist who makes me feel like they have my back all the time, not just when I'm doing "well" or following their instructions. In addition, my previous therapist was trained in cognitive and dialectical behavior therapies, and my current therapist isn't.

I'll let my therapist know next time I see him (which isn't for a couple weeks unless I can find the time in the middle of the week to do so. Considering what's been going on with my life, it might be worth it) and see if I can work something out with him.

In the meantime... I guess I just suffer from a re-broken heart Sad

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Post by Enail on Fri Dec 28, 2018 5:20 pm

Yeah, that sounds like he's not a great match for you, so if switching is an option it might be a good one.
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Post by Werel on Fri Dec 28, 2018 10:29 pm

I'd also say that your therapist is pushing you hard on stuff that will greatly improve your chances in the dating world - socialization and hygiene in particular are hugely important when you're trying to meet a partner! Focusing on those things, if you can find a way to work with your therapist (or a new one), might help you feel like you're making progress on stuff that'll help you be happier in your own skin, as well as help you increase your odds of dating someone.

You may also want to work with a therapist about ways to shut down those jerkbrain thoughts about "you need to date someone RIGHT NOW OR ELSE". Sounds like that particular thought process is one which bugs you more than any others - maybe there's something your therapist can help you develop strategies for coping with?
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Post by ReploidArmada on Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:04 am

Hi Werel! Grin

I think you're right about my therapist pushing me on things that will help me find someone later on. The main problem I'm having with that is that I don't really have enough willpower to do all of the things he tells me to do *and* keep up with my job *and* keep up with my own brain telling me I need to spend more effort on finding women to date. And of course, the "doomsday clock" thoughts and fears I keep having aren't helping me any either. They just increase the stress, pressure, and expectations I put on other people who are initially interested, which usually scares them off after the first date. Unfortunately for me, I'm not sure my current therapist is equipped or willing to help me silence those rogue thoughts.

I would like to retort something, however. I'm fully aware that almost no woman will want to date a guy who looks or smells like he can't take care of himself, and that is unfortunately something I still have to work on. However, I have previously been working on my socialization skills. Earlier this year, I was going to monthly mixers downtown in an attempt to desensitize myself to social interaction, especially with women. Of course, the mixers were for an amalgam of Meetup groups, most of which having to do with happy hour drinking or whatnot instead of meeting singles. But, that's beside the point.

Unfortunately for me, my socialization skills haven't really transferred from "normal" interactions with other people to those associated with dating. As a result of that, and of course my complete lack of experience with dating in general, I've had almost zero luck keeping my dates interested and intrigued enough for a second date. The main problem shouldn't be appearance, conduct, or self-care, since I do make sure to do things like shower, wash my hair, and dress nicely when I do have dates, and during them I'm not pushy or overly aggressive. If anything, I just don't know how to create that romantic/sexual tension between her and myself, and keep them interested in me long enough to move on to a second date. And, of course, my dates - when I do have them - are few and far between because my online dating luck is sparse at best, and I'm unable to find people around me who are single as well.

EDIT: Speaking of which, I posted some of the "results" from when I was asking Reddit for advice getting a second date some time ago. What do you guys think of those?

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Post by Enail on Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:31 pm

The advice mostly sounds pretty standard, other than I'm, unsurprisingly, not a fan of generalizing "what women want" and I think the touching advice leans towards overly pushy - there's no need for verbal permission for every touch, but that doesn't mean 'just go ahead and do what you want and then only stop if she clearly doesn't like it,' especially if you're not confident about your social calibration. The point you should start looking for a reaction is before you touch - if they're generally seeking proximity rather than pulling back or leaning away; their reaction as you reach towards them. Adjust based on that so as not to touch someone who doesn't want to be touched rather than just being willing to stop if they show overt signs of dislike.

Also unsurprisingly, I'm not a fan of stopping randos on the street or in stores, where they're just trying to go about their day. Good places to practice being friendly with strangers are when people are naturally stopped but not absorbed in something, like in line at the store, or in more social situations.

However, I'm with Werel that asking your therapist for help with some strategies to dial back the feelings of urgency about having to date ASAP, and focusing on general self-care and socializing would be better places to put your energy, and more effective in the long run.
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Post by ReploidArmada on Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:25 am

Okay, I understand what you mean about looking for signs of willingness to touch before you do so. I do have a question, though: Most of my first dates have been dinner dates (which some people I know have shown displeasure about, but never mind that). How do you judge whether someone's willing and interested in breaking the touch barrier if you're sitting across a table from them? And, for that matter, what's the best way to actually do so?

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Post by Enail on Wed Jan 02, 2019 2:24 pm

I think DNL has a lot of pretty detailed advice for both reading whether they're interested and for actually touching on dates. But I meant not only judging in advance whether you should reach to touch someone, but also paying attention in the actual moment as you're reaching out - a common and relatively clear situation to see those kinds of reactions is when people are meeting or leaving and one of them goes for a hug. Especially with people who don't know each other that well; they might start by opening their arms to gesture explicitly "I'm proposing we hug," to see if the other person reciprocates. And then or if someone just moves in for the hug, you can often see if the other person tenses up a bit, backs away, moves an arm in for a blocking handshake or wave, keeps their body as far away as possible while hugging. People-watching is a good way to get a better sense of these kinds of things, and it's also something that you can practice in platonic situations as well as romantic ones.

But I do want to emphasize that I don't think focusing on details like 'the right way to touch' is the best use of your efforts. If you're on a date, I'd suggest focusing more on paying attention to how you're feeling about things, to give yourself some time to listen to whether you're enjoying being around this person specifically and why or if you're just interested because it might lead to the girlfriend or sex achievements, notice if they're respecting your boundaries or throwing up red flags, realizing when desperation is running the show and dialing back, being in the moment without trying to push it towards a particular future or anticipating your fears.
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Post by Hielario on Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:42 pm

I'm sorry for going slightly off-topic, but...oh my god is seeing a sex worker a crime where you live?? (Seriously, what the fuck!?)
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Post by ReploidArmada on Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:44 pm

Yeah, it is. I have little idea why, but it certainly is illegal to visit a sex worker where I live. It sucks.

Back on topic: Enail, that last paragraph seems like a *lot* to try and focus on all at once. Admittedly, I currently try to just enjoy the company of my date and let things happen as they will, but I kinda feel like having all of those things running through my head at the same time is just going to compound the pressure I'm *already* putting on people because of my feelings of desperation and urgency.

Some of my friends on Facebook gave me a chewing-out a day or two ago, about how I feel like this new year will not be the one that ends in me becoming a happier person and finding a lover. A lot of what they said revolved around me needing to change my attitude towards my possible recovery, and needing to focus on actually doing something with myself. But, as we (likely) all know, I still feel like I don't have enough time to devote to improving myself first, because I'm afraid I'll miss out on love entirely by the time I'm finished. Maybe fixing that thought pattern needs to be step one?

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Post by Enail on Fri Jan 04, 2019 4:10 pm

It wasn't meant to be lots of different things, just one thing that I tried to express in too many ways! Headsmack Maybe just "try to be present in the moment instead of focusing on what you want or fear it will/won't lead to?"

I definitely think working on that time pressure thought pattern is a good idea, and sounds like it would help you a lot if you could shake it!
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Post by ReploidArmada on Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:37 pm

Okay! That seems more reasonable. Smile I'll try to have my therapist help me work on removing that thought pattern next time I see him.

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