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Feeling undeserving.
June 22, 2011 9:58 AM   Subscribe

How do I start feeling like I deserve the happiness I feel in relationships?

I'm a 25 year old man and my life has gotten a lot better recently. I've recently lost a lot of weight, and even gotten a little bit fit. I started a new job a few months back that's actually pretty great - quite a change from the string of crappy and temporary jobs I've had since I graduated college three years ago. My girlfriend of 3.5 years dumped me, but that ended up being a positive thing, too, as we had stopped being attracted to each other for awhile.

So since I'm now employed and looking better than I have in a while, I decided to join OKCupid and send out some messages. I've never really dated per se; serial monogamy has been my MO since high school, so I figured it was high time to get some experience in this arena (I've never asked anyone out, my four relationships to this point were female-initiated). I've been on six dates this month, four of them went really well.

Two of these women I am amazingly attracted to, and one of them is by far the most attractive person I've ever been out with. My problem is that I just don't feel like I deserve these women. I've spent a lot of my life overweight, introverted, depressed, and sort of ugly. My time as a commissioned salesman has helped me develop an above-average ability to smalltalk and build rapport (at least for someone at my level of introversion), but that's about it. This has made it difficult, since I don't have the courage to make the first physical move. When I made out with one of these women, I couldn't even accept that it was real or that it wasn't some sort of joke she was playing on me. My brain was just screaming, "This does not happen to you. Something is wrong."

I know this isn't that uncommon, so I'm asking you, MeFites: how do you overcome these types of feelings? And, how do you allow yourself to become more vulnerable and just take the leap when you know you should kiss her (or him), but feel terrified at the possibility of rejection?
posted by speedgraphic to Human Relations (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
You're going to have to force yourself to get comfortable with it. Visualize your ideal self, or James Bond or Kanye West or whatever kind of cool confident guy you want to be, and make yourself do what you think that guy would do. I'm egalitarian in nearly all aspects of dating--I pay for dates, I call when I feel like it, I unhesitatingly initiate making out--but I almost always wait for the guy to make the first move from making out to, like, fooling around or whatever the next step is, so I would really encourage you to make that move, rather than waiting for it to be made. You're going to need to just psyche yourself up and attack it. Pretend you're leaping from the high dive or yanking off a band-aid or something. A moment's courage is all it takes.

And seriously, seriously, rejection is no big deal. It seems scary before it happens, but after it happens, if it does happen, which it probably won't, it's not gonna crush you. You will dust yourself off and get over it, and the next time try be half as difficult. Making the move and getting shot down sucks very little compared to never making the move and just wishing it would have happened.
posted by milk white peacock at 10:13 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Time and experience. The longer this goes on, the more your mind will rewire to accept these positive experiences as the norm.

For me, as someone whose early sexual years came down to "sex / intimacy are something other people get to have," there will always be a little bit of that voice that says "not for you" even though things have been much better since my teenage years. I've trained myself to let that voice speak its bit and then push through the fear. It evaporates after a few moments.
posted by MillMan at 10:14 AM on June 22, 2011


"And, how do you allow yourself to become more vulnerable and just take the leap when you know you should kiss her (or him), but feel terrified at the possibility of rejection?"

In all no-kidding seriousness, I imagine asking metafilter. And I remind myself that half the thread will be people saying JUST KISS HER ALREADY. And then I kiss her, because I don't want to look silly in front of metafilter, never mind the girl.
posted by Tomorrowful at 10:15 AM on June 22, 2011 [30 favorites]


I've found success with congnitive therapy on this. David Burns has a great book called "Intimate Connections" that is right on in these areas. I advise you read it and do the exercises.

Also, sometimes past trauma will increase the percieved potential pain of rejection, making "putting the moves on" as men are still generally expected to do, quite difficult. By examining that trauma, you might learn things that will help.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:18 AM on June 22, 2011


I'm a good looking guy. I'm also pretty lonely and depressed because I'm a quirky nerd with like a zillion different interests and it's really hard to find people I click with. I recently went on a date with a cool girl and it went great - until she said "I don't understand why you are attracted to me, you're like, hot as shit and brilliant." I died a little bit inside and then explained to her, in different words, that being with her made me feel good...which is what it's all about, right?

That hot girl likes you. Likes spending time with you. Kiss her, god damn it.
posted by 3FLryan at 10:20 AM on June 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Start making a gratitude list - you're grateful for your job, your fitness, etc., then look at the list and realize that you Deserve all these things. You deserve to get paid for good work, and you deserve to be in happy relationships.

An extra bonus to being mindful to this stuff, for me, is that it makes me want to be all-the-more worthy of all that great stuff, and therefore encourages me to be a better girlfriend/friend/coworker, etc.
posted by ldthomps at 10:40 AM on June 22, 2011


""That woman was sexy...Out of your league? Son. Let women figure out why they won't screw you, don't do it for them."

~ShitMyDadSays
posted by SamanthaK at 11:47 AM on June 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


The key to happiness here is being comfortable with where you are, and what you've got. You have a beautiful woman in your life right now...you do deserve her, regardless of what you think, as you give her the gift of happiness...she may stick with you for a very long time....she may be gone in a year. Who really knows? Enjoy the present moments, relax in your own skin, and let yourself take on the great journey that is life.
posted by samsara at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2011


Hey OP, I hope I can say this without making you feel worse about yourself. You sound like a good guy, who deserves to be happy. Please forgive me if this comes out as insensitive.

Two of these women I am amazingly attracted to, and one of them is by far the most attractive person I've ever been out with. My problem is that I just don't feel like I deserve these women. I've spent a lot of my life overweight, introverted, depressed, and sort of ugly.

This is a problem. It sounds like you are placing too much value on the way these women look (and the way you used to look). You were not any less awesome and deserving because you didn't look like George Clooney, and (this is very important) these woman are not any MORE awesome and deserving because they are hot.

I know society tends to accept that a person's value as a human being, and especially as a partner, goes up if they are incredibly attractive, but society is an asshole.

Believing that you deserve less because you do not think you are (or were) attractive goes hand in hand with believing that these women deserve more because they are. One of my very best friends is an incredibly beautiful woman. She stops traffic (and once I saw her almost cause an accident, though she never even noticed) and men fall all over her. She is often way out of these guys' league...but it is not because she is beautiful, it is because she doesn't value people based on their looks, and the guys do. Don't be like that.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 2:29 PM on June 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


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