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Real issues around virginity

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Post by inbloomer on Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:21 pm

I think what I'm getting at is that an intense friendship can to an extent feel like a romantic relationship. Not because anyone is giving misleading signals, simply because there is a lot of overlap in the stuff you do together. It falling apart is therefore painful.

All fair enough. Except that if you refer to someone as an ex, or even with a rueful "you know, I briefly went out with her", that conjures up a whole narrative in three acts: the meet-cute, anticipation, joy, heartbreak, moving on a bit older and wiser. But "ex-friend" has a completely different connotation: it implies that person turned out to be a massive racist or something. So there's actually no mental monument you can put on it. One ever mentions it and frankly the default reaction is what yours and Enail's was: "yeah dude, what happened there is that she was being vaguely polite and you read way too much into it". You've both accepted that there was more to it in that particular case, but I had to do a lot of explaining. I just wish there could be a societally recognised way of commemorating that kind of relationship as there is for romantic ones, as opposed to feeling like everything I did during it just evaporated into nothing.

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Post by Enail on Mon Jan 20, 2020 7:44 pm

Well, I think the reason for the reaction I gave you (I can't speak for Datelessman) was that you brought it up in the context of romantic inexperience, even though what you described sounded entirely platonic - my assumption was therefore that there was a pretty large mismatch between how you were approaching the relationship and what the relationship actually was based on your description.

To be honest, I'm still not really clear why it's part of the virginity discussion for you, or why you're theorizing that people like her, who have intense friendships and then suddenly drop them, are confused about the line between friendship and romance. So I wonder if people don't get what you're talking about because your framings aren't totally clear to someone who doesn't have an inside perspective on the situation. Is the connection something like "having little experience with romantic relationships makes the emotional intensity and dating-like elements of even platonic relationships affect you more strongly?" Or am I still not getting it?

I've found something like "a former friend I used to be really close with but it ended pretty suddenly" or "but she dropped me when she started dating someone" or "when she moved away," or something like that tends to be understood decently well.
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Post by inbloomer on Mon Jan 20, 2020 8:05 pm

This thread has meandered around a lot so I can totally understand some confusion at how it got to this point. Both Datelessman and I have talked about this apparent Berlin Wall or invisible line between women liking as friends and liking us "in that way", which we've both been able to get right up to but never cross. I guess I was giving examples of having had platonic relationships that had what could legitimately be described as dating-like elements, yet they weren't dating relationships and in the ones where I did ask to make it more, the answer was "no way, not in a million years".

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Post by Datelessman on Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:43 am

inbloomer wrote:This thread has meandered around a lot so I can totally understand some confusion at how it got to this point. Both Datelessman and I have talked about this apparent Berlin Wall or invisible line between women liking as friends and liking us "in that way", which we've both been able to get right up to but never cross. I guess I was giving examples of having had platonic relationships that had what could legitimately be described as dating-like elements, yet they weren't dating relationships and in the ones where I did ask to make it more, the answer was "no way, not in a million years".

In my experience I can't ever say that someone told me that directly. It was more a sense and acknowledgement that my lady friends did not see me in any way as a potential romantic object. Like even in casual greetings where they'd give everyone a hug and a peck, except for me. Now, I don't regret any of those friendships, some of which have endured. Nor do I carry any torches still. But as you said, I did acknowledge that from those experiences, I was not the sort of guy that women crushed on, especially if they knew me well. To a man nearly all of my other friends (of any gender) lost their virginity through that social circle or network, even in we were in high school where the Internet as we know it didn't exist. It existed, but was still a bit of a luxury.

I imagine this topic comes up with this discussion because when you're an older virgin, it is hard to not play the "what if" game sometimes, especially when you're younger (i.e. still in your 20's or even early 30's).

But, yes, I see that "invisible wall" as that line between friends and lovers, and to those of us on the outside looking in it gets tough to see the difference maker as being anything beyond random chance. Especially when the odds favor so many others so easily, or more often. I've made peace with it to a degree, or at least have had more pressing matters over the years.
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Post by Datelessman on Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:39 pm

In an effort to get things back on topic, I'll post a link, as I have often done, to the latest relevant answer column from DNL. After all, older male virginity comes up a lot in his feed. This is from 1/24/20 and the second letter writer (or LW2 as veterans dub them) is a 25 year old virgin. He talks of a past of being bullied which has led to woeful self esteem. Lately a lady co-worker is teasing him and he doesn't know how to interpret it and what to do. On the one hand, even from the examples he uses, her tone appears playful or flirty (i.e. she called him "babe" once and when asked admitted it was not a slip of the tongue). On the other hand, being bullied has clearly traumatized him and he is confused at best and put off at worst by being teased. https://www.doctornerdlove.com/hes-tired-of-one-night-stands-how-does-he-start-finding-relationships/

LW2 also insists that "women don't like gingers," which is just absurd. Has he never heard of Archie Andrews? Laughing

DNL's response features some of his usual words about insisting no man who ever claimed to be a dateless troll was as bad as they claimed, and naturally pokes some fun (and holes) at the admittedly absurd claim that women do not like red heads. Seriously, I know nothing about women yet I know there is no cultural gender conspiracy about red headed men.

However, the one bit which did put me off a bit was DNL's quick and comfortable defense of the co-worker who was teasing him. DNL noted that "teasing" is one form of flirting that manifests and that it's possible that the co-worker "likes" LW2, but he won't see it because he has taken his poor esteem as an identity. Even if the co-worker doesn't want to date LW2, DNL reasons she at least wants to be friendly with him and that her interest even in a platonic fun basis proves that LW2 isn't as hideous to women as he insists.

The bit which gave me at least a little pause was DNL not even touching on the notion that LW2 was bullied as a kid and his co-worker's actions clearly reminded him of that trauma, even if unintentionally. We have a word when what someone does reminds women of painful trauma -- "triggered." I don't want to be that guy who insists that men are demonized and women are always treated as angels in the forums, because I know that is not true. I know not all things are equal. Women by and large tend to carry around far more trauma than men do, simply by the statistical fact that they're more likely to be abused, molested, or raped than a man in in their life (or have someone try all those things and not succeed). That all said, I cannot imagine DNL telling a woman who was a 25 year old virgin who admitted to being bullied to simply cozy up to a man who was upsetting her with teases at work, innocently or not, or to use that as a boost to her esteem. I imagine the forum reaction would be that such a teasing co-worker was immature (with a vocal minority believing him to be an irredeemable monster). Instead the reaction has usually been to tell this virgin dude to lighten up and embrace things. DNL also completely missed the bit about this being a thing that goes on at work, where teasing and potential flirting is risky and unprofessional. Men are almost universally told, and rightly so, to leave women alone at work. Take any romantic teasing or flirting to a social event where it is more acceptable.

This letter hit me a little close to home because I, like LW2, was heavily bullied as a youth. Most of it was in 7th grade; that isn't to say that I wasn't bullied into high school, but that 7th grade was the apex. 85% of the time it was by fellow boys/men, but at least 15% of it was from girls/women (who usually were their friends, associates, or lovers). One particular teasing game which I encountered a lot is what I dubbed on my blog as "The 'She Likes You' Game." The gist was that at least two girls, sometimes more, would gather close and one of them would tell me that , "you know, ______ really likes you," and then lead you on about asking information about you. It usually ends with them all laughing the longer they can string me along. It happened often enough that I couldn't ignore it or treat it like a one time happenstance. After a few times of taking it at face value and being humiliated, I learned to try to counter it by not giving in. The first step was giving fake names; being a comic book fan, I have a library of fake names to give someone.

One of the last times it happened was in high school; I think I was about 16 or so years old. I cut off the opening line by insisting, "No, she doesn't," and when asked why, decreed, like it was written on Mjolnir, "Because no girl likes me." I have never seen someone go from teasing to pitying so quickly. Intellectually, I know these experiences were outliers, and ones formed by youth and proximity. Emotionally, it is one of the reasons I would absolutely never believe a woman who told me she liked me for a reason which seemed genuine.

So, I can understand a LW, especially a fellow older virgin, being "triggered" by similar behavior and not exactly being on the receptive side of it. DNL often tells men not to play games like this and if they like someone, to simply be appropriately direct about it. That all said, I don't think the young man's co-worker in his experience was being malicious in any way, and it may be very possible she does like him in some way. I also know men rib each other all the time. I also know that I stopped being one of those guys after college when I realized I didn't like it when it was done to me. DNL personally employs the "friendly banter" style of flirting where "playful teasing" is part of it. That is fine but not everyone is into that. The line between "teasing" and "negging" can be very fine, for instance.

On the other hand, a line from DNL did hit me in the gut too:
Your biggest issue is that you’ve convinced yourself that you’re unattractive and you’ve worked backwards from there.

In my case I would insist that it wasn't necessary myself, but my reactions to my experiences and how others treated me versus my peers. But still, the point landed. I've had many people, especially women, insist I was nowhere near as bad as I claimed. But on the other hand, none of them would ever date dare me, or recommend me to someone in their circle who would. Then again, I never asked, because I see that as groveling and I find that humiliating ("I am too much of a loser to attract a woman by myself, so can you please help me find someone in your own life you don't mind lobbing at me?"). Granted, one of my male friends all but decimated any chances of that with some awkward social media postings years ago that I chronicled before.

So, what say everyone else? This letter or exchange bring any thoughts?
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Post by inbloomer on Sat Jan 25, 2020 7:52 pm

To be honest, to me her behaviour came across as neither malicious nor seductive, but as someone who is fairly immature and hasn't quite grasped that in a professional environment there are invisible lines which make it not the same as hanging out with a posse as you may have done at school. That's far from uncommon, but it can definitely lead to trouble if it's not tackled. I am not someone who says you can never flirt or banter at work (see my other posts), but you have to be careful about it. Playfully go too far with someone who has power over you, and six months later you can find they get their revenge just when you needed their support.

I never understand why there is so much societal prejudice against redheads. Because there is, but I find red hair very attractive.

In terms of DNL having a gender bias, I think he's always wanted to have strong credentials in the feminist community. And at times that has led him to be harder on men and softer on women than said feminists would actually have wanted. I remember one letter that really did annoy me, where the letter was about failed drunk sex and the response was telling the guy to make joking excuses for his lack of performance, completely missing that this woman was trying to force him into sex when he was too drunk to consent. I don't mean that as a terminal criticism - it's just that everyone has biases so you shouldn't rely on any one person for advice.

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Post by Enail on Sat Jan 25, 2020 10:16 pm

Uh, triggering is not only used for women (before it became the big thing it is on the internet, I'd mostly encountered the term in the context of male veterans' PTSD flashbacks). And my understanding is that it's a much more specific thing than just "being reminded" of trauma, it's things like flashbacks or that level of extreme reaction, not just something upsetting b/c of trauma.  Sorry to be pedantic, but it's one of those words that seems to be overused and misused to a degree that it's becoming less useful for its actual psychological meaning, and treating it like it's "all reminders of trauma but taken more seriously b/c it's women" strikes me as potentially harmful.
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Post by Datelessman on Sun Jan 26, 2020 8:45 am

Enail wrote:Uh, triggering is not only used for women (before it became the big thing it is on the internet, I'd mostly encountered the term in the context of male veterans' PTSD flashbacks). And my understanding is that it's a much more specific thing than just "being reminded" of trauma, it's things like flashbacks or that level of extreme reaction, not just something upsetting b/c of trauma.  Sorry to be pedantic, but it's one of those words that seems to be overused and misused to a degree that it's becoming less useful for its actual psychological meaning, and treating it like it's "all reminders of trauma but taken more seriously b/c it's women" strikes me as potentially harmful.

It isn't being pedantic, you have a fair point. You are right that there is a difference between triggering a PTSD flashback (whether for a combat veteran or an abuse survivor) and what the LW experienced. Being reminded of a past trauma isn't quite of the same caliber and you are right, diluting something serious helps no one.

inbloomer wrote:To be honest, to me her behaviour came across as neither malicious nor seductive, but as someone who is fairly immature and hasn't quite grasped that in a professional environment there are invisible lines which make it not the same as hanging out with a posse as you may have done at school. That's far from uncommon, but it can definitely lead to trouble if it's not tackled. I am not someone who says you can never flirt or banter at work (see my other posts), but you have to be careful about it. Playfully go too far with someone who has power over you, and six months later you can find they get their revenge just when you needed their support.

I never understand why there is so much societal prejudice against redheads. Because there is, but I find red hair very attractive.

In terms of DNL having a gender bias, I think he's always wanted to have strong credentials in the feminist community. And at times that has led him to be harder on men and softer on women than said feminists would actually have wanted. I remember one letter that really did annoy me, where the letter was about failed drunk sex and the response was telling the guy to make joking excuses for his lack of performance, completely missing that this woman was trying to force him into sex when he was too drunk to consent. I don't mean that as a terminal criticism - it's just that everyone has biases so you shouldn't rely on any one person for advice.

I don't think there is much of any "societal prejudice" against red heads, beyond the infamous slur, "a red headed step-child," which slanders both red heads and step children (and was likely crafted during a time when divorce was taboo). I actually agreed with DNL on that one.

I agree that workplace teasing or flirting can be risky territory and as I said, if the genders were reversed I doubt DNL would have been as glib. Of course, I know context is a thing; men harassing women at work is far more of a crisis than the other way around. That said, any harassment is bad, and the "other way around" does happen. What the LW experienced was not it, but it clearly made him uncomfortable due to his bullied past. I didn't think that was the best example to try to use to rally him towards seeing himself in a better light. "Hey, you can't be that bad if a woman you think is beautiful recognizes you enough to tease."

I also agree that we all have our biases that are tough to shake. I'll likely admit to being harder and less forgiving of men than I tend to be of women. I was raised by a single mother, I was abandoned by my father, and most of the people who have made my life difficult were men. I don't specifically remember that letter but I can imagine it playing out as you describe.

I certainly know DNL is hardly the voice of god (if only because our world would probably be a nicer place if it was), but despite all of my disagreements he's the only "romance guru" online who I have subscribed any attention too. Most of the others I stumbled upon (Frank Kermit, Good Looking Loser, etc.) usually reinforced a lot of negative stereotypes about gender roles and that older virgins being broken and whatnot, or that all salvation can be had in the gym. There is a feminist bent, which I actually like, I was just surprised this time around that he wasn't noting about the fact that this was happening in a workplace, and that some people just don't like to be teased.

Now of course I realize that teasing, like many forms of (or attempts at) humor, is subjective. A lot of it can really come down to not only context, but body language and verbal tone. One person can say, "Your mother wears army boots" and it's an obvious joke, and another can say it and it sounds like a lethal insult. There are people who weren't bullied who just don't have much of a sense of humor or take themselves, or life, too seriously. I don't think that LW's coworker meant any harm, but clearly he was confused at best and reminded of his past at worst, and I can relate. I am fine with friendly banter or joking around -- in meatspace it makes up the bulk of my social skills -- but I have never teased a woman I was on a date with or even friends with. I'm good at improvisational humor based on environment or shared experiences, but I don't think I have ever told a joke at the expense of someone I was with, especially a woman, at least not since I was a child or younger teenager (when I admit I was a tad cruel at times, which I guess makes my romantic oblivion kind of ironic or karmic in some ways).

As to how I would handle it if a woman I at least had some romantic desire in was teasing me? I don't know; again, context and execution are key. These are ways to tease or joke about someone which aren't specifically insulting to a degree ("Nice shirt, guess you must really like Spider-Man, huh, Mr. Parker?") versus something a bit meaner ("Nice shirt, at least for a twelve year old"). But I don't imagine I would like it and it would make accepting any genuine interest on her part more difficult. I can certainly take a joke, but I think a part of me is a little tired of absorbing teases from people whose approval I seek, and I would not be thrilled to revisit it. Like if I was on a date and already a bundle of nerves and she starts with a, "Nice hair, you using 'Touch of Grey' or aiming to not get carded tonight?" sort of comment, it would not be helpful even if I wouldn't be mortified or anything. I think what it comes to is that a teasing, back and forth bantering bit maybe works and is hot for people who are comfortable with dating itself. I am not, and I think a lot of older virgins aren't.
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Post by inbloomer on Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:59 pm

The letter only said teasing, it gave very little detail. I read it to mean being more informal than the situation would normally demand, as in the one example he gave of calling him "babes". The examples you give are much more aggressive.

There are a few social environments, particularly in the military, where if everyone's making vicious comments about your appearance etc. that actually means they like you, and if they're being polite that means they hate you. But that's not something I support or think is a good idea - I think that really is toxic masculinity, as people get more hurt by it than they let on but can't choose not to participate.

If your sense of humour is of the cutting and sarcastic style, the basic rule is that you have to be harder on yourself than you are on anyone else. Otherwise - and I've seen both men and women fall on this - you come across as a rather sneery playground bully who can dish it out but can't take it.

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Post by Datelessman on Tue Jan 28, 2020 10:38 pm

inbloomer wrote:The letter only said teasing, it gave very little detail. I read it to mean being more informal than the situation would normally demand, as in the one example he gave of calling him "babes". The examples you give are much more aggressive.

There are a few social environments, particularly in the military, where if everyone's making vicious comments about your appearance etc. that actually means they like you, and if they're being polite that means they hate you. But that's not something I support or think is a good idea - I think that really is toxic masculinity, as people get more hurt by it than they let on but can't choose not to participate.

If your sense of humour is of the cutting and sarcastic style, the basic rule is that you have to be harder on yourself than you are on anyone else. Otherwise - and I've seen both men and women fall on this - you come across as a rather sneery playground bully who can dish it out but can't take it.

Considering even the women in my imagination are "much more aggressive" than usual, I think I satisfy the requirement of being hard on myself. Cool I don't think I have a problem "taking it," as my male friends can talk trash now and then and I don't get bent out of shape. Between being a call center representative and a former social worker, I sometimes brag that I've made a career out of being yelled at professionally. I just might be weary of having to "take it" if I were on a date or dealing with a woman I found attractive.

I think the military may be one of the epicenters of "toxic masculinity" and power games.

There are some people who throw in terms like "babe" now and then and it doesn't mean anything sexual. For instance I have known quite a few people, either friends or acquaintances or even clients, some of them men, who use terms like "honey" or "sweetie" in a way which is in no way romantic or even means they like you. In fact sometimes it can be a precursor to a blunt or frank statement, especially in some southern or midwestern states. And that is one of the key things to teasing; context and tone and someone's very demeanor mean a lot, and it can be tough to describe to a third party.

I don't subscribe to the theory that "someone has to care to make fun of you," because I genuinely feel society breeds a low level degree of aggression and even competitive sadism that people are barely aware of. Ideally someone I was into and who liked me back wouldn't believe that making fun of me was a way to get my attention. But, the big caveat is by this point I am so starved for positive attention that I could probably roll with someone being passive aggressive so long as I was interested and they were showing some interest. But personal teases wouldn't exactly be something I am eager for. It does really depend on delivery, though.
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Post by inbloomer on Mon Feb 03, 2020 8:30 pm

I don't like the use of familiar terms - including "dude" -as a precursor to bluntness. I always feel it comes across as belittling and actually rather immature.


Anyway, to temporarily shift the tone of this thread a bit ... I actually feel there is something different about this year. I'm not predicting success, but I feel like I'm more ready for it than I have been hitherto. Maybe I've got sharper at spotting what's an actual opportunity and what's something that should work on paper but isn't working in practice. But maybe I need to go up one more level of confidence...?

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Post by Datelessman on Tue Feb 04, 2020 12:37 am

inbloomer wrote:I don't like the use of familiar terms - including "dude" -as a precursor to bluntness. I always feel it comes across as belittling and actually rather immature.

I don't know about immature but I do admit it feels condescending. I had one friend who used to use the "honey" word before laying out whatever he thought was a "chair leg of truth." I used to hate it. Even when he told me it was more of a regional verbal tic, but I still am not fond of it.

I admit as a child of the 80's I sometimes use a word like "dude" to add an exclamation point and can issue a dismissive "whatever" when I don't consider a conversation worth continuing.

My point is of course was that in the LW's example, sometimes a co-worker calling a peer "babe" is subtle flirting and sometimes it's just regional dialect.

inbloomer wrote:Anyway, to temporarily shift the tone of this thread a bit ... I actually feel there is something different about this year. I'm not predicting success, but I feel like I'm more ready for it than I have been hitherto. Maybe I've got sharper at spotting what's an actual opportunity and what's something that should work on paper but isn't working in practice. But maybe I need to go up one more level of confidence...?

Sure, why not? You've been studying the "problem" and analyzing it for a long time. There comes a point when analysis can only go so far without action, and if you feel the wind at your back and some fire in your belly that wasn't there before, ride it and roll with it. Go get 'em. Be respectful of course, but I don't think that's the problem. The urge can be rare, so don't argue how or why, just use it. I and everyone else here wish you success. Thumbs-up
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Post by inbloomer on Wed Feb 05, 2020 6:11 pm

There's a sport I've done since I was a young child. I've always wanted to be good at it and secretly thought I was capable of being good, but for a long, long time I plateaued at a low level and was constantly getting angry and frustrated, to the point where I began to consider giving up. In the last six months, after an awful lot of hard work, I've suddenly started to get measurably and dramatically better. There's still more to improve and I still make mistakes, but I'm doing things that I just wasn't capable of before and my enjoyment of it has gone through the roof.

Thing is, it's hard to intellectualise exactly what I'm doing differently. Too many muscles move at once to break it down consciously. It's not about one single physical or mental change. It's more like lots of little improvements to technique, tactics, coordination and timing have all started to merge and add up.

Let's be clear: I'm not yet at that stage with dating. But I don't know - maybe it feels not impossible that a change like that could potentially happen.

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Post by Datelessman on Wed Feb 05, 2020 10:41 pm

inbloomer wrote:There's a sport I've done since I was a young child. I've always wanted to be good at it and secretly thought I was capable of being good, but for a long, long time I plateaued at a low level and was constantly getting angry and frustrated, to the point where I began to consider giving up. In the last six months, after an awful lot of hard work, I've suddenly started to get measurably and dramatically better. There's still more to improve and I still make mistakes, but I'm doing things that I just wasn't capable of before and my enjoyment of it has gone through the roof.

Thing is, it's hard to intellectualise exactly what I'm doing differently. Too many muscles move at once to break it down consciously. It's not about one single physical or mental change. It's more like lots of little improvements to technique, tactics, coordination and timing have all started to merge and add up.

Let's be clear: I'm not yet at that stage with dating. But I don't know - maybe it feels not impossible that a change like that could potentially happen.  

You don't have to intellectualize it, and in fact you shouldn't. The difference now is will. You have the will to apply all of the hard word and attention to various independent details that you can apply them to a seamless whole. I'm sure in sports you've heard the term, "in the zone," where you stop analyzing or debating and just...be. This is essentially what Bruce Lee meant when he would talk about "being water" or "fighting without fighting;" he had honed his craft so much that he could act or react without thought.

In fact the easiest way to worry about it is to fret about mechanics like how or why. So don't. The simplest reason is your honing of the sport you love has transitioned into general confidence within you which is boosting your other desires and senses. Confidence is a buff that adds +2 to everything, essentially. But it could be a radioactive spider-bite, so long as it results in action and happiness for you.

So it doesn't matter how or why your urge to approach dating again has manifested. It could be that you're older and with more general social experience, you're calibrated better. But it could be anything or nothing; the point is acting. You don't need a reason why you feel dating doesn't feel impossible or could net a different result. What matters is using that urge, that will, if you so choose, to go do and be who you were always meant to be. If you feel the wind at your back, you don't need to worry about how you got there or why it is blowing and so on. Just sail, man. Ride that wind on crazy adventures and when it ends, you'll be better prepared for the next one.
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Post by Datelessman on Thu Feb 20, 2020 12:04 am

Monday's edition of DNL's column saw him answer another letter from an older virgin, this time from someone "pushing 30". I think it brings up something inbloomer and I (and others) and been discussing here: https://www.doctornerdlove.com/what-do-you-do-about-unrequited-friendship/

(It's LW2, or the B-letter). The gist is that the man in question has narrowed down his approach anxiety to not wanting to be seen as "a bother" to women, which DNL saw as an issue revolving around self worth. DNL actually didn't touch on the virginity thing at all, and while that did spare us a few of his regular lines, I do think he missed a potential mitigating factor there. Virginity and a lack of general romantic social experience don't have to necessarily go hand in hand -- for instance, people whose only sexual experiences came from drunken one night stands or even from sex workers may have similar problems -- but they tend to overlap a lot. It also was a case of experience being relative. For instance, the LW claimed to have only gone on 1 date; in theory, I have gone on 3, not including speed-dating events, so in that regard I have more experience. But he's also kissed someone, and I never had, so he has more "physical" experience.

DNL connected it to a general lack of self worth but I wonder if context is key. It may be possible for some people to have fluctuating levels of confidence depending on the situation. And similar to what Inbloomer and I were going on about, sometimes with older virgins there is a sense of an "invisible wall," that gap between friendship and courting, or between small talk and flirting, which seems barely noticeable to many but may as well be a moat for us. And that can lead to approach anxiety to say the least, coupled with the LW's notion of not wanting to "bother." I've certainly felt that way at times, seeing my attraction to someone as a "bother" or distraction for someone, or at worst, an unrequited inconvenience.

DNL talked a bit about belief in self worth overall, and that is very important. But I wonder if it's possible to have a struggle of one's self worth in certain situations -- like dating. After all, there are many situations where I have plenty of confidence. The problem is that in the context of dating I have nothing but a void of white. I have nothing to counter my doubts, which are the voices of experience. And while someone may have a fair degree of self worth in general, it may diminish in a dating context. It can be very difficult to truly "believe in your own value" to a woman romantic wise when you've never crossed that plane as it were. I usually got caught in a loop of believing any approach I made which was even remotely confident was full of hot air since I have no experience and no way to back up any belief that I can please a woman, and it felt like I was basically trying to con someone. Bluster and bravado have their places -- I've worked in sales and have kind of mastered the ability to sound like I know what I am talking about at all times professionally -- but they don't last.

A part of me genuinely wonders how many people in this unexpected "community" I have found myself in are atheists or are not terribly religious. I say that because it seems that a great deal of forging ahead without any real experience to quiet "the jerkbrain" as DNL calls it really comes down to making a leap of faith. That I, despite having less experience romantically than a 12 year old, have more to offer a woman romantically than some other man. It's a tall order, I think, and I have rarely been able to do it, at least not with the appropriate earnestness. And taking leaps of faith is something which I imagine is easier for those who practice religion, or have faith in something (like themselves).

DNL also goes into the idea of pals playing "wingman," and as much as I sometimes commented about my own friends never ever doing anything like that for me (albeit because I never asked), he references Barney's "have you met Ted" ploy from "How I Met Your Mother" and that looks absolutely terrifying for me. One of the things I dreaded the most back when my pals and I were doing the bar scene was them witnessing any of my failures with women and them running a commentary afterward. Conversely, I also dreaded having to "owe" one of them for some relationship with a woman for the rest of my life if they'd helped it along. But thankfully none of that played out that way.
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Post by inbloomer on Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:30 pm

The idea of wingmen already feels quite out of date. I guess it goes back to a primitive instinct about wanting to be accepted by the group, and so having more trust in someone who obviously has their own groups they are accepted by, while being more suspicious of someone who seems to be out on a limb. But I think there's a now a lot more understanding that good people don't always have entourages while bad people can be popular and sociable.

It's one thing for friendship groups to call out behaviour in each other they see and don't think is right, including by gentle mockery. But someone who mocks you for being rejected when you did the best you could is not a friend.

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Post by Datelessman on Sat Feb 29, 2020 1:08 am

inbloomer wrote:The idea of wingmen already feels quite out of date. I guess it goes back to a primitive instinct about wanting to be accepted by the group, and so having more trust in someone who obviously has their own groups they are accepted by, while being more suspicious of someone who seems to be out on a limb. But I think there's a now a lot more understanding that good people don't always have entourages while bad people can be popular and sociable.

The term may not be banded about as often by younger people, but I think the practice still happens. I did a google search on this stuff and still found plenty as recently as 2017. The term itself may be used by people in their late 30's or so, which DNL is. But friends who help each other on the dating scene I think is nothing new.

In my experiences I found that single women in particular rarely hang out in bars or clubs alone, although most social groups I haven part of during those times have been mixed gender. Mine were mostly male until we got to whatever bar or club we were going do and ran into women who were mutual friends or associates. That said, I am going back about 5-10 years at least.

It's one thing for friendship groups to call out behaviour in each other they see and don't think is right, including by gentle mockery. But someone who mocks you for being rejected when you did the best you could is not a friend.

I suppose everyone's threshold to what they consider "gentle mockery" is very subjective. One of my best friends, albeit while drunk, once telling me "you wouldn't know what to do with a girl if she sat on your lap" from college certainly did stick with me. At least in my experience, ribbing is a sort of founding bond in a lot of male circles. I used to give as good as I got until college when I realized it felt hypocritical and stopped. I wouldn't call my friends especially vicious about it, but I did dread the idea of them witnessing any of my dating failures. On rare occasions when they would try to give me "advice" it was usually along the tone of, "this is not very difficult, why do I have to state the obvious." Now we all have a sort of unspoken code where they don't bring up my love life, and I don't mention it. It helps that they're mostly coupled up now. The few times it did come up, the impression was that my pals either pitied me or thought something was a bit off with me. But, I always had a reputation as the weird, sarcastic nerd of the group.

I don't know, my interpretation of how men tend to treat each other as friends is kind of mercenary. That while there are ties, there will be a bit of "every man for themselves" when things get beyond a certain point. When my friends were single they were usually not inclined to help me since they were looking out for themselves. And to their defense, I likely would have been embarrassed and not very cooperative. I would have found a "have you met Ted" ploy to be very intimidating at the time. I could probably roll with it better now, but I'm also older.
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Post by inbloomer on Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:33 pm

"While drunk" is an important detail in that sentence. Alcohol affects people in different ways, and while it's a minority reaction, there are people who suddenly come out with nasty and hurtful comments when drunk, when it's completely unexpected and unprovoked.

I've been caught by it before: they don't start a fight that you can see coming, because they might lose. They lob the grenade in just when you thought you were having a friendly and innocent conversation. No question it puts me right off that person - it's a clear red flag that the nice front they put up when sober isn't the whole story. But try not to let the words stick with you - I know it's hard, but things like that are about them not you.

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Post by Datelessman on Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:44 am

inbloomer wrote:"While drunk" is an important detail in that sentence. Alcohol affects people in different ways, and while it's a minority reaction, there are people who suddenly come out with nasty and hurtful comments when drunk, when it's completely unexpected and unprovoked.

I've been caught by it before: they don't start a fight that you can see coming, because they might lose. They lob the grenade in just when you thought you were having a friendly and innocent conversation. No question it puts me right off that person - it's a clear red flag that the nice front they put up when sober isn't the whole story. But try not to let the words stick with you - I know it's hard, but things like that are about them not you.  

This is one thing which I kind of agree with DNL about. Alcohol doesn't turn most people into Mr. Hyde from Dr. Jekyll; it essentially acts like truth serum. It lowers inhibitions and makes it easier to do or say things which a part of them may want to do but usually wouldn't when sober for various reasons. Which is why a lot of regrettable sex comes due to alcohol.

That said, it would be easier to take your point of view if not for how that same pal and others usually treated my dateless state in situations where alcohol was not involved. The impression I usually got from most of my male friends was that my "status," for the handful who knew, was something which was to be pitied, talked around, or treated like a disease. The same pal who said that one thing "while drunk" would years later made a Facebook post near one of my birthdays at a time when I was new to the platform asking his feed, to paraphrase, "if anyone knew any drunken sluts with no standards to help one of his friends get laid." Virtually all of my close pals commented, including one who was a woman I'd once crushed on. To a person they all had a good laugh, never "tagging" me but all seeming to know exactly who he was talking about. I did think he had good intentions, but his execution put me off to say the least. Word got back to him via the social grapevine and he deleted the thread. But I never forgot it. I'd related that story a few times, but it's easy to miss in my text walls. From that moment on I knew my friends didn't understand my status at best, and at worst found it something worth ridiculing when they though it was private.

It wasn't like I stopped trusting them or didn't think they were my friends anymore. But I knew my love life, or lack thereof, was not something I could trust them with or rely on them for help. In their defense, I'd usually find such a thing humiliating. But after that, it would be tough for me to trust their efforts were they to make any, at least in that regard. And for the record, while that episode did upset me, I didn't consider it ground zero for ditching them as friends. I mean...I am a virgin well into my 30's. That is socially weird. It's like expecting your pals to not have some adverse reaction to finding out you were a vampire or an alien. To the average person, something like is the sort of thing they only hear about in news reports about mass shooters, TV shows about serial killers, or comedic films. To be surprised by any adverse opinions would be to underestimate the effect of society on people.

Still, I imagine my desire to only choose to talk about my virginity through the use of an avatar while revealing nothing which could connect to my real persona could be linked to that.

And I imagine finding new male friends who would be understanding and supportive of a virgin as old as I am would be more difficult than just finding a woman to sleep with me. It is not the kind of territory most dudes are cool with. I do have one or two lady friends who know and in fairness have been more supportive, but I don't like bombarding them with it, and to a lessor degree they still react with a dose of pity about it, and I get tired of being pitied sometimes.
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Post by inbloomer on Mon Mar 02, 2020 6:17 pm

I've never had any sense of my friends mocking me. Yes a sense that they tiptoe around it and avoid certain topics of conversation in front of me. But the rare times I've raised it directly, they've been entirely sympathetic and insisted that if they could see something I was doing wrong and they were doing right, they would say so. Indeed, their own advice of what they'd do never seemed that strong - it's a bit like in detective stories, where the detective makes a wild guess and they're always spot on, the sidekick makes a wild guess and it's always completely wrong.

I don't see a problem with wanting to discuss this anonymously. There's always the chance that something one posts could come back to haunt one years later, unfairly and unpredictably. I would rather be open but caution seems sensible.

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Post by Datelessman on Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:22 am

inbloomer wrote:I've never had any sense of my friends mocking me. Yes a sense that they tiptoe around it and avoid certain topics of conversation in front of me. But the rare times I've raised it directly, they've been entirely sympathetic and insisted that if they could see something I was doing wrong and they were doing right, they would say so. Indeed, their own advice of what they'd do never seemed that strong - it's a bit like in detective stories, where the detective makes a wild guess and they're always spot on, the sidekick makes a wild guess and it's always completely wrong.

I can relate. In theory I didn't do any more or less than they did. We hung around the same crowd, were into the same hobbies, on occasion even crushed on the same woman. I was just never the dude any of the women in the social network crushed back with. I was always their boyfriend's wacky pal. And once they all got in some successes, it was easier for them to snowball that into confidence to approach women they didn't know well, if at all. "Knowing I can pleasure a woman really helped," one of my besties said once. And it just never happened for me. I can totally relate to that sidekick bit.

In my friends' defense, when we were younger and originally formed our group in high school, some of the trash talking was mutual. I can admit that as a teenager, I was sometimes not as shy as I thought I was in regards to expressing envy or bitterness with some of my jokes. I suppose the big difference is I stopped doing that cold turkey by college, and some of them just slowed their rolls a bit with it. It was a poorly kept secret around the circle that I was no good with women, but they would never openly discuss it around me -- aside for exceptions like being drunk or posting on their Facebook feeds at a time when they were not fully used to me being on them too. On the rare occasions one would ask if I was "still a virgin" or words close, their response would be akin to a sorrowful head shake a "tsk tsk," as if I'd told them I had cancer.

Perhaps it didn't help when some of the few ways I would respond to it and feel any sense of dignity was to make a self depreciating joke about it on the rare occasions it was brought up. More than once I would be in a bar with them and joke, "There isn't enough booze in this whole place to get a woman to sleep with me." So in theory, one of my pals going from that to doing a "shout out to all desperate drunken sluts for my boy here" kind of online message isn't far fetched. I suppose the difference was a self depreciating joke is one thing; my pals joking about me when they weren't expecting me to read it was another.

Few things are more fun then reading a young woman who I had a serious crush on towards the end of high school -- and arguably botched a golden opportunity to tell her out of disbelief and fear -- type, "Well, if it hasn't happened by now, it never will."

Much of their advice revolved around being more fearless with cold approaches. And the term "advice" is used loosely.

Perhaps things may have been different had I felt comfortable enough to be deeply vulnerable with my best male friends about a situation which scared, confused, and frustrated me. But I would note that expecting that sort of enlightened, masculinity bending compassion from of a group of straight men born in the 80's and who came of age in the 90's in the inner city is asking for the moon, and that it could have been a lot worse. None of them ever went out of their way to humiliate me, and the worst they did was just in the execution. And in their defense, the machismo cut both ways; I would have hardly been receptive if they'd staged interventions either.

I don't see a problem with wanting to discuss this anonymously. There's always the chance that something one posts could come back to haunt one years later, unfairly and unpredictably.  I would rather be open but caution seems sensible.

There are times I tire of the mask and the crippling insecurity that it gives me. More than once I have been tempted to admit it in a public social media post and get it off my chest. But that is usually more drama than I am interested in, and it is easy to be misunderstood. Nor would I want to steal any attention from the real people who make brave "coming out" posts about their sexuality, or a disability, or so on. I genuinely don't think I am asexual. I just think I am a perfectly straight white man who's a virgin past a point where most people would consider normal. That is not the same.

I have almost never had any sort of serious, in depth conversation about my insecurity revolving it in real life, with words, to another person. On my blog I made a connection with another (former) older male virgin (before he'd finally ended it) and we live in the same state, and he once suggested we meet up, have a few beers and share war stories. I couldn't do it, and I was honest that I just did not feel ready to meet someone face to face in "meat-space" who knew that detail of my life...or in fact, would know that detail as one of the founding facts about me. If it was some sort of group therapy session where I was allowed to wear a luchadore mask to hide my identity, then maybe I could talk about it live. But that would be very weird in and of itself.

I also fear being a one trick pony; that guy who only talks about virginity. Hey, I didn't ask to get a PhD in this, it just sort of happened. Or didn't happen, technically. Shrug But I imagine that ship sailed and sunk about 5 years ago.
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Post by Datelessman on Sat Mar 07, 2020 12:24 am

It's hard not to relink DNL's latest advice column here since it hits a lot of the topics discussed in this thread dead center. The LW is a "pushing-40 year old virgin" (my term, since he is 39) who mentions a lot of the same feelings that I and many of the people in this thread have posted. However, he also spends have his letter with a question about a longtime woman friend who he isn't certain he should ask out, because he is afraid of not only rejection, but success. It's a doozy: https://www.doctornerdlove.com/how-do-i-overcome-being-a-40-year-old-virgin/

There's so much about the LW's plight and feelings that I can relate to, that I think I should state on the record that the LW is not me. I am not as old as he is, although I will be getting closer in a few days. And to be honest I already gave up and moved on from any "available" friends of mine who were women years ago. But since I did call into DNL's podcast last year, I figured I'd get it out there. I've nothing to gain from lying about it.

That said, boy, that LW certainly is feeling a lot of what I have. The sense of "giving up" once he hit his 30's, the anxiety and periods of loneliness, the feelings of unworthiness, the desire to "kill" those pangs, and so on. The LW seems to frame his "fear of success" as thinking that means an uptick at having to attend bars and clubs (which, like him, I also hated), he also frames it as the anxiety of facing things he has never faced before and knowing that most people by his age have gone thru that at least once. Brother, you're not alone. Hell, even if only 1% of Americans past 25 are virgins, that still is over 3.2 million people. There are entire states with smaller populations than that. We could all form up and create Older Virginia, Unicornopolis, or Chastifornia.  Wink

I did think DNL's advice went to some interesting places without repeating too many of his catch phrases (beyond "get thee to therapy," which is not a platitude since in a way everyone could use therapy). I was fascinated that DNL started off with a statement feeling that the LW had an issue with "deservedness." I found it interesting because while I know exactly what DNL means and intends with his words about it, the line between that and "entitlement" can be blurry for some people. Is believing you "deserve" something the same as feeling it's "owed" to you? It isn't, but one is like a dark or light version of the other and straddling that line may be tough for some people, especially in fits of emotion.

DNL then gets into a notion about a fear of success is because of a fear of confronting "fantasy vs. reality," but I feel he only squares half the circle here. Yes, there is that anxiety of imagining what a relationship or sex is like versus experiencing it which is real, and brings stress. But I think DNL, who ironically once again insists he knows what it feels to be rejected in a similar way (I would argue he really can't as someone who got laid before 20 and is a reformed PUA whose breakdown came from turning into a fake version of himself to get cheap sex, not being eternally untouched) misses something vital here. There are many practical things, and emotional things, which come into play with the idea of an older virgin "suddenly" dating which I feel this thread has discussed. Whether or not to share virginity information, for one. Not being used to sharing vulnerability with a relative stranger, for another, or even many practical things like reading body language or signals or even knowing when and how to pick battles about where to eat and what to do. People are expected to at least be serviceable with that stuff by 40 and starting at zero is not just nerves; there is a genuine sense of feeling behind.

DNL does travel on some well worn roads about rejection anxiety and so on. I think he misunderstands that while it may be technically true that many times a rejection isn't personal, it can feel especially personal to an older virgin since through hook or crook, rejection is all they know. As I hinted at before, I genuinely think a vast thing which older virgins like me may have is a lack of faith. A lot of self improvement advice, whether dating or working out or so on, works on essentially taking the leap of faith that despite prior experiences, more fortitude will result in success. And I feel it is tougher for older virgins to have that since they are literally living with the fact that it is possible to go thru life and genuinely never romantically attract anyone to them. That despite their best efforts and even sharing many of the same traits and circumstances as others, there is that unexplained, inexplicable difference between them and others. There is some reason why I am the Dateless-Man, and my friends were not, which are beyond things like "trying harder," or can seem like there are.

I mean, it is easy to finish with a phoenix metaphor if you have faith in a better tomorrow. If you don't, all you see is more fire.

For the record, while I do hypocritically agree with DNL about the LW being better off asking his friend out if only for his nerves, much less future success, I also doubt that the LW would get a positive answer. It's hypocritical because when I have been in the LW's place, I would never ask someone out unless I got a very clear signal. Again, I think DNL underestimate how challenging it can be for older virgins, perhaps more so than other people with dating problems, to toss aside a literal lifetime of experience for a "one more time." Especially since the stakes seem higher when dealing with a friend. Many women who make male friends may choose that specific person because they never hit on them, and platonic friendships between the sexes can be rare for some people. I've had more than one woman tell me I was their only friend who was a dude who didn't try to "mack" on them. Do you know how heartbreaking it is for me to risk destroying that just because I want to "take a chance at being my best self?" Maybe choosing the greater good beyond my own feelings is being my best self.

There also is another wrinkle for an older virgin asking out a "good friend" as opposed to a stranger, or at least one I experienced. There is the legitimate concern of laying out a metric ton of emotional baggage, relationship mistakes, and above all not being on the same path in terms of dating goals. Many woman, especially in their 30's and older, are well past the "dating around" phase and want to settle longer term. An older virgin, most times, is looking to explore. They can't truthfully promise or offer a long term relationship. I had one close friend especially who has survived a ton of sexual abuse and dysfunctional relationships in her life and is avidly looking to find someone steady, and from knowing her so well I knew that the timing is just awful. She had too much drama to deal with in her own life to have to hold a virgin novice by the hand at every turn. But above all, she deserved more than to have to suffer all of the first relationship jitters and mistakes with someone she saw as a friend unless it would end in her ultimate goal, which I could not promise. There was that sense she deserved more than what I could offer, and the risks of even daring such a relationship outweighed the positives. I wonder if the LW is going through that, and if so, I totally get it. As challenging as it is to ask out a "rando" at a bar or OkCupid, it's tough even for dating veterans to want to complicate a good friendship sometimes. The rejection may sting worse, too. Being rejected by a rando is tough, but by someone who actually knows you? Who now can't consider you a platonic friend anymore? That's nerve wracking.

DNL totally has a good point about Red Pill/PUA stuff essentially being little more than offering dudes "magic feathers." And Enail has an awesome comment in the board there, BTW. Enail is always well thought out.

Sometimes letters like these make me wonder exactly what kind of advice I would offer, since I am always there with criticisms of DNL, who actually is in the trenches. I feel I would want to temper my responses with more realism; the challenge is doing that without being discouraging or sounding pessimistic. Is it unrealistic, for instance, to tell a nearly 40 year old virgin that his path to dating will be uniquely challenging? That his rewards are likely to be few? That he is dating on "hard mode" even when he never completed "easy?" That men with literal felony convictions will (and do) have an easier time in the field and positively spinning their one big flaw than he will? But that he should try anyway if only because he's already living his worst case outcome already? I don't know. I feel the only way my own pain has purpose is if I use it to help people, but I struggle to do it in a way which isn't overly pessimistic or full of Pollyanna tropes and "go get 'em partner, it'll happen when it is meant to" platitudes. Like at times I feel DNL leans on the side of providing encouragement more than realistic expectations, and since he is an advice guru I get that on principle, but I wonder if that really is better.
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Post by inbloomer on Sat Apr 04, 2020 2:56 pm

Sooo … how is everyone doing? I hope everyone and their families is as safe as possible and following the advice.

It’s a very difficult time all round and in some ways it doesn’t feel right to talk about dating at all, though on the other hand one way to keep going is to focus on what you can do at the moment and prepare for some kind of normality eventually returning.

Before coronavirus hit things did seem to be going in the right direction for me. Not with any sense of certainty, and it’s hard to overcome a belief that when it comes to it, the answer is always no. But there are several women who I have genuinely good relations with and who, although none may be perfect matches, seem more compatible than the women I was meeting in the past. But that has to be largely on hold now.

On the theoretical side, I am more and more reaching the conclusion that a very important factor in dating is homophily. That’s the fact that people naturally gravitate towards people like themselves, whenever they have the option. For example, I have much more in common with the people I now work with and live near than I do with the average population. DNL has indeed mentioned homphily himself: he’s said that because he’s heavily tattooed, he would choose the heavily tattooed woman out of a crowd to approach.

It does seem that the people I have most in common with in terms of interests and character, happen then to be people who are on the cautious side with regard to dating and sex: i.e., they would be highly unlikely to be up for casual sex, they don’t get in relationships that often or easily, and even when they do they probably don’t have that much sex within them. Some of DNL’s advice totally is universal, but some – e.g. when he gets into the “women have sex for any reason and no reason” – feels irrelevant and inapplicable to the vast majority of women I’ve known.

I find dating hard because for me it is hard, without even having to touch single-issue explanations like late virginity or anything else. Other people find it easy because within the bubble they are in, it is relatively easy for them to get a yes. There’s no moral judgement or intended slight in that. But I think a lot of dating advice can end up having this unhelpful edge, where those who’ve had more success ascribe it to their skills or even moral superiority, and miss the fact that the women they’ve had success with and the women someone like me might be best dating are very different sets of people.

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Post by Datelessman on Sat May 09, 2020 12:09 am

inbloomer wrote:Sooo … how is everyone doing? I hope everyone and their families is as safe as possible and following the advice.  

It’s a very difficult time all round and in some ways it doesn’t feel right to talk about dating at all, though on the other hand one way to keep going is to focus on what you can do at the moment and prepare for some kind of normality eventually returning. [ETC]

Much of the reason why I haven't replied was because amid Covid-19, virgin angst seemed trivial. That and internet issues. Thankfully no one I personally know is sick, although my mother is in her 60's, handicapped and has many pre-existing issues so I have to be careful for her especially.

Covid-19 has effectively canceled casual dating (especially in NY, the epicenter, where I live) to the extent that I was actually both amazed and surprised by how quickly DNL adopted a "social distance dating" bandwagon. I mean we're barely more than 60 days deep into this and scientists have no idea how or when this will end, but he's already doing webinars about virtual dating. I am impressed by DNL's ability to strike while the iron is hot. I imagine if this lingers another 3-6 months, another book will come out. I mean it'd have to; his previous books are about as useless as Atari 2600 game walkthroughs until this passes. That said, I strongly disagree with some of it. While I can imagine "virtual dates" on Zoom and so on may keep things alive for couples who were already dating but had not began living together, I think it's foolhardy for singles to do so these days amid the crisis. All it does is increase the odds of Catfishing, or someone using "revenge porn" against you if you send anything risque (especially for women). I mean it wasn't long ago that sending "sexts" was frowned upon for this reason. More to the point, it prolongs the period where everything seems nice online until a "real" meeting is scheduled and then either someone flakes or one party realizes 5 seconds in that there is no chemistry and time has been wasted. Just now instead of this happening within 1-7 days, the risk is this stretches that out for months. Frankly, I was surprised he didn't issue the same advice he tends to give virgins; take a breath, have some priorities, work on yourself and it'll happen when it happens.

I admit there is some bemusement at the idea of people "freaking out" about 2+ months of unplanned celibacy. I can sympathize, but it's a world I have already mastered.

There has been some regret that I didn't take bolder actions in dating sooner, before it got more complicated. Even when immediate shut-downs end, this will scar the social psyche for years. I can't imagine casual dating being the same until there is a cure or vaccine, if only because dating options are limited. Virtually every outdoor activity relies on mass groups being safe, even in terms of visiting a park, museum, coffee shop, or beach. And even if there is a cure, the idea that having sex with a stranger could mean catching an easily transmissible illness that can kill a parent or grandparent will put a damper on things.

Although I suppose in a lot of ways, all Covid-19 has done is equalize some of the risks of dating from women to men. I mean, the idea that even being within 6 feet of the wrong person could be deadly is a new thing for dudes to deal with, but is kind of standard for women. Statistically, they were always far more at risk of being stalked, abused, assaulted, or killed by someone they knew even casually. And they also bare the brunt of risk and bad outcomes for STD's. But now all of a sudden men have as equal a reason to be hesitant about things.

I imagine once some of the lock down orders relax, there will be one of two reactions, or a mix therein. One outcome is that the months of unintended celibacy will encourage a lot of lustful dating as we all have urges. People might be so horny that they may not be as choosy for Mr. Right and may go for Mr. Acceptable Right Now. Lowered expectations might increase my odds. Or, on the other hand, with casual touching being a life risking affairs, standards could skyrocket. Why risk killing grandma unless the dude checks off all the boxes? If that's the case, I'll probably never date again. Even for me, since I have a mother to care about, even I might hesitate. If I had a hard time believing a woman could ever find me genuinely appealing before, I can't imagine I would be any more of a believer once that becomes a life-risking affair.

On the other hand, for those of us who are shy and inexperienced about social touching and when to read cues that it is okay (i.e. hand holding, forearm tapping, etc.), Covid-19 provides a good excuse for it. I mean normally, a person who sees to exude no physical interest even in "normal" conversation may be seen as disinterested. Nowadays, it could be played off as lingering fears of the virus and nothing personal. But then again, expecting the average person to be more reasonably understanding is a lot like expecting a hamster to pass the BAR exam. It simply is beyond them despite their best efforts.
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Post by inbloomer on Sun May 10, 2020 8:13 am

It's good to hear from you and that you and your mother both remain well.

It's of course too early to say what all of this will mean for dating in the long run. My guess is that in a whole lot of areas, it will accelerate changes that were happening anyway. I think lockdown has brought more attention on the differences between introverts and extroverts. Plenty of people have posted online about how they absolutely hate not being able to go to the pub, in big, noisy groups with lots of casual touch. Then plenty of others have replied saying they never really liked all that stuff anyway, and always felt pressured into it.

As I was already saying pre-coronavirus, I think we're coming out of the period of thinking digital technology is going to revolutionise human relationships. Yes there are specific circumstances where it can help, but as you say it brings as many risks as opportunities.

Day to day activities will eventually have to resume to some extent. I think they are a better way to meet people than organised dating, and DNL seems to have to reached that view too. The downside is that the skills required around this are complex. I do think that particularly when Me Too was at its peak, DNL and others were pushing the line that social skills are really easy. Because to concede they are difficult would give the real predators an excuse ("all those blurred lines man, I can't be expected to keep to them"). So they were just giving trite lines like "Use your words!" and "Don't start no awkwardness and there won't be none!"

As we've discussed on this forum, even when intentions are only platonic it is usually challenging to expand a relationship from its current boundaries. An example I've given before is contacting someone on social media who you know a bit but not that well: the line between them being genuinely really pleased and them being all "this is creepy and inappropriate" is really very narrow. And while it varies by national culture, people can be extremely indirect, giving an enthusiastic yes that really means no.

So basically, I don't think coronavirus can mean the end of dating, but it may hasten a shift back to staying in smaller, more localised groups, as opposed to the hit up lots of strangers who you'll never have to see again technique.

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