So I missed out on my 20's, how to catch up? Should I catch up? Lengthy explanation inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
When I was 18 years old (34 yo now), I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The very serious, break with reality kind that required hospitalizations in a psych ward. Throughout my 20's, I was hospitalized something like 8 times. Further, at one point I had moved back home and was eventually kicked out with a restraining order filed by the mom, a misdemeanor trespassing plea, and six months in jail (mom and I have been fine for a few years now).
Despite all of this, I managed to graduate from a well regarded state university, get a job, and eventually end up in grad school where I am now about halfway through a competitive PhD program with a well known and respected advisor (who knows nothing of my past). The bipolar is under control and I am looking forward to the rest of my life. To give you an idea, I'm in great shape (ran 9 miles today and will benchpress my bodyweight a few times on Monday), many people have told me I'm very good looking throughout the years, and I can count on being approached by a random good looking woman around 1-2 times a month.
The big problem is that I really missed out on the dating / relationship things that most people go through up to this point in their life. I've never had a long term relationship (hetero male). Longest I've ever had was around 6 months, in high school. Honestly, I haven't been laid in over a decade. Grand total, I've had sex 7 times with 6 different girls. Add to this the fact that my father died when I was very young and my mother never dated or remarried after that. Consequently, I was never exposed to the day-to-day aspects of relationships that many people see when growing up. Further add to this that I don't drive and I am in a city where this is seen as strange and/or a glaring indicator that you are a loser. The cherry on top is, of course, the bipolar.
The obvious answer to my situation is to seek therapy, which I have done, however it has been more than useless. My therapist will be somewhat uncomfortable, give somewhat useful/useless advice, and continue on to another subject. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I've read dating advice from many different sources, including the PUA guys (boo! hiss!) and Cosmo/AskMen/Men's Health etc.
From what I've read on the female perspective, I am about every red flag in the book and then some, I should probably give up now. Further, even when I am getting to know most women I am generally a "nice guy" and get slotted into the "friend" / "keep him at arms length until I figure out if he is serious relationship / marriage material" buckets very easily. Either (1) I never even get the chance to tell them about all of my red flags before things become platonic or (2) they don't even need me to explicitly tell them about the red flags before they determine I am not for them (this is fine with me and what dating is all about IMHO).
From the PUA perspective, none of this backstory matters and I should just concentrate on working on my game and bedding girls ASAP. Sadly, the PUA stuff has actually helped me more than anything else. I do ignore the "wear a feather boa, three pieces of jewelry and compliment her nails then ask if they are real" type of stuff and instead try to gain insight into the psychology of dating.
My skills with women have increased substantially, and I do get a fair amount of attention and looks, however I have very limited time to invest in socializing and getting better.
So I am looking at being 36 years old, with a PhD, a good job, zero adult relationship experience, a nonexistent set of bedroom skills, abundant red flags with very little idea of how to reveal them tactfully, and a decent amount of attention from women (many of whom are looking to settle down at my age).
I'm not really sure what to do here. Should I even keep trying? Should I resign myself to loneliness and become the nutty professor type? This has been on my mind a decent amount lately and I would appreciate any advice / insight / stories the hive mind could offer, especially from anyone in an a position even remotely resembling mine.
Also, since this is a sensitive subject for many people, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org