I'm a normal, well-adjusted, heterosexual, 30 year old male. And I'm a virgin. How do I get past this?
posted by ann on a mouse to human relations (58 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Forgive me, as this is very long. I sincerely would appreciate advice, though. This has taken me a couple of days to write, and has involved some fairly serious self-reflection.
I am a 30 year old heterosexual male. I am normal and well-adjusted. I am intelligent, funny, well-read, interesting, well-spoken, multi-lingual, talented, competent, and well-educated. (And, quite obviously, humble.) I am pretty average in appearance, but not, I think, unattractive.
Furthermore, I work in the service industry, and I interact normally with strangers of both sexes daily. I have many male and female friends and acquaintances, including close friends of both sexes. In my job, I interact with a large number of very attractive women, with whom I get along very well.
But I have never had a relationship. I have never been intimate with a woman. I've never been on a date, never had a kiss, never had a girlfriend, and never felt love.
(A couple of quick caveats. First, I am not entirely unhappy alone. I am happy with myself and enjoy my own company. I have a variety of interests which keep me engaged and entertained. I am somewhat naturally introverted, so spending time by myself doesn't bother me. And, I've been alone so long that I'm comfortable with it. It does, however, make me feel like I'm missing out on a vitally important part of life, and it's getting to the point that it's bothering me. I feel like I am missing out on life by not experiencing an emotion that is so widely discussed, written about, desired, and craved. Second, I would like to stress that I'm not as concerned with my virginity as I am with my overall lack of experience. If I was primarily concerned with my virginity, I'd hire a hooker and be done with it. I'm more concerned that my social development is deficient in some way, and that in the long term, it's going to be a detriment to my happiness.)
There are a couple of factors that play into this, I feel.
The first of these issues is self-perpetuating: The fact that I'm inexperienced makes it increasingly difficult to get experience.
I lack the experiences that everybody else started building when they were adolescents. That part of my social development simply never happened. My parents didn't allow me to date in middle school. I didn't date in high school. (Overall, I feel that this was probably a good idea, as I doubt that I was emotionally mature enough to handle adult feelings then.) I didn't date during college, either, for a variety of reasons, none of them very good. (I lived at home for a large part of my undergraduate experience, I was hung up on a girl who had a boyfriend, etc.) After college, I found my inexperience actually hampering my chances. Awkwardness and inexperience is expected among 14 year olds. After 25, though, it's weird. It's expected that you've had a few experiences by 25, and if you haven't, it's twice-weird. First, because you're expected to not be an awkward freak, and second, because of the underlying implication that somebody who is inexperienced at such an age is inexperienced for a reason; that is, something must be wrong with him. If he was normal, someone would have banged him by now.
The inexperience manifests itself as a problem in a couple of ways. On the purely mechanical front, I don't know how to kiss. Never done it. Nor do I know how to have sex. I mean, I understand it in theory, but that's about as far as it goes.
More importantly, though, is the social front. I don't know how to make a girlfriend. I make friends easily and well. But I've never gone from meeting a girl who I find interesting to being in a relationship with her. I simply don't know how it's done. In fact, I think part of my problem is that I meet a girl who I find interesting, and I make a friend out of her, because it's what I know how to do. I am "friend-zoned" often, and it's probably in large part my own doing.
I don't know how to indicate my interest to a girl. My general M.O. is to hang out with a girl until she gets the idea that I must be interested. So far, that hasn't worked out for me--we usually wind up being friends. Similarly, I don't know how to tell when a girl is indicating interest to me. I was hanging out with a group of friends a while back, and after everybody left, one of my friends asked me why I hadn't spent more time with a particular girl in the group. I asked him what he meant, and he told me that the girl had been flirting with me the whole night. I had a very slight feeling she might be interested, but I never picked up on the flirting. This is even more confusing when combined with my propensity to end up in the friend-zone, since I can never tell if I'm already there, or if I'm still in the ballgame.
Furthermore, I have no idea what to do when I'm alone with a girl. None. There have been a few instances in my life where, I am certain, if I had known what to do, I would have ended up having sex. I was with a girl to whom I was attracted, and who was attracted to me. But I didn't know what to do. Once I am in a situation where it's just me and the girl, I don't know what to do. I don't know where I should sit; if I'm sitting next to her, should I touch her?; if I touch her, how should i touch her?; how does the conversation change from "wow, that's some crazy weather we're having" to "how's about we fuck"? I don't know how to learn these things. It doesn't seem like there's a class you can go to that will let you role-play these situations.
The other factor, and almost certainly the most important one, is that I have some self-confidence issues.
Most of these are related to body image problems. In high school, I had pretty severe acne. (This was mostly cleared up by a couple of courses of Accutane, so it's no longer a concern.) After high school, I gained about a hundred pounds. I've recently lost about 70 of that, so I'm looking better now, but the self confidence issues remain.
If I try to look at myself from an outside perspective, I know that I'm an intelligent, interesting, and funny guy. But inside, I feel like I'm not deserving of an attractive girl. I constantly tell myself that an attractive woman wouldn't be interested in me--she's just talking to me to be friendly; or, she just keeps touching my hand by accident; or, she's not going out of her way to hang out with me, it's just that we happen to be out at the same time and she's got nothing better to do, so she has a drink with me.
This, I feel, is an important part of why it's easier for me to interact with girls on a "friends" level than on a "potential partner" level. After all, if we're just friends, she doesn't have to be attracted to me, so it doesn't matter if she thinks I'm a schlub.
My self-confidence issue manifests itself in a couple of ways. First, it makes it difficult to interact with a girl to whom I'm attracted. I'm always thinking that she's not into me as much as I'm into her. It's hard for me to tell if a girl is hanging out with me because she enjoys my company, or because she's not willing to tell me to go away. (I realize that it's more likely that she enjoys my company, but, empirically, the outcome has always been that I don't end up with the girl, so the other option is a very real possibility.)
Second, it makes it difficult when a girl explicitly shows interest in me. When a girl hits on me, my anxiety soars. I get nervous, I clam up, and I withdraw. In fact, the more direct a woman is in expressing her interest, the more anxious and nervous I get about it. My job requires me to dress up, and be around attractive, drunk women on a regular basis. A couple of nights ago, one woman--in so many words--offered to take me back to her place and show me a good time, after I got off work. She was a little older than I'd normally be interested in, but she was hot, and friendly, and interested. But I get nervous and withdrew, and turned her down. In retrospect, I'm not sure why. I'm afflicted with a strange emotion that I can't really define. It's a weird mix of embarrassment, anxiety, and shyness.
Third, if it comes to a situation wherein I'm competing with another guy for a girl's attention, I lose. More accurately, I concede. This has actually happened a couple of times in the last several weeks. I've been hanging out with a girl, and another guy starts showing some interest. The little voice in my head tells me that she's clearly going to be more interested in him, so I pull back, and tip my king. I don't know how to tell the other guy to fuck off, and, more importantly, I don't know how to convince myself that I should tell the other guy to fuck off.
Other complicating factors:
I have fairly strict standards. I require a woman who is intelligent, interesting, and at least somewhat attractive. My standards are probably too high, but I am unwilling to compromise on them. I'm just not attracted to dumb, dull, or ugly.
I'm not completely opposed to casual sex, but it can't be completely casual. In order for me to be seriously attracted to somebody, there has to be at least some emotional connection. That is, I'm generally more attracted to a girl that is a friend than I was to the same girl before she was my friend. If Mila Jovovich came up to me off the street and offered to take me to bed, I don't know how I'd respond. Generally, I have to know somebody, and have some level of emotional attraction to her, before I'm sexually attracted to her.
Finally, I am pretty risk-averse. I am the kind of person, who, when faced with a challenge, prefers to research everything about it, work out every possible outcome, research each of those possible outcomes, and then make my decision about a course of action. If the girl I was hanging out with were to say "okay, now it's time for you to kiss me," then I'd probably be okay, but that kind of situation doesn't seem to present itself very often, and the uncertainty makes it that much more difficult for me.
So now, my question. What advice do you have for me? How do I fix this? I can't really ask my friends about this, because, with the exception of one close female friend, nobody even knows about my situation. (I mean, I'm sure some of them have probably put it together based on the fact that for the whole time they've known me, I've never been in a relationship, but it's never been explicitly discussed.) So I turn to you, anonymous strangers whom I will never meet--how do I get past this?
TL;DR: I'm a normal guy, but I've never had a relationship. I'm inexperienced, and have some self-confidence issues. How do I get past this?