I'm a heterosexual American man in my mid-20s. I have no relationship experience, never had sex, never kissed, never held hands, blah blah blah. I'm not looking for help approaching women, I just need some ideas on how to cope with a life of loneliness.
posted by anonymous to human relations (68 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
I've basically concluded that the probability of finding a woman who is interested in me is so close to zero that realistically I should expect it never to happen. It's not just a matter of opportunity; today, I'm employed in an isolated position with no female co-workers, and the only women I know personally are significant others of male friends, but only a few years ago, when I was in college, I was at least somewhat gregarious and met lots of women. And yet, anyone I approach has no interest in me. I'm physically very ordinary, or so I think, and I've noticed this pattern when trying to make anonymous, sight-unseen online dating work as well. I'm simply personally unappealing.
I'm not angry about it. I've heard so much about 'angry 20-something virgins' that it seems a cliche, but that's not me at all. I'm not blaming anyone other than myself. In fact, I think my situation has paradoxically given me a perspective on women that many men my age lack (or else my capacity for empathy is growing with age). I spend a lot of time reading anything I can find about relationships, how women experience the world, and how people like me are generally perceived. At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful. Over the past few years I've relegated myself to only seeking companionship over the internet, where my advances can be easily ignored and present only a minor inconvenience, but as I mentioned above, nothing has ever come of it, regardless of how much effort I invest, or how positive and happy I pretend to be.
I'm morally opposed to exchanging money for intimacy, so prostitutes, and maybe therapy, aren't options. Similarly, any kind of relationship that exists in any part due to a large power imbalance in my favor (with someone much younger, or of much lower socio-economic status) is unacceptable. I realize that there are behavior-modifying drugs that might help, but anything that extreme, that would fundamentally alter my mind, is too frightening to contemplate. I'm afraid that I'll lose something important, like my creativity or passion for things I value. I've thought about joining a monastery, but I'll never achieve the goals I have in my life if I spend it somewhere like that.
So, this leaves me in a really unhappy place. I find myself constantly fantasizing, and thinking about sex and love (often just trying to imagine the mundane details of hypothetical relationships), and then feeling terrible when reminding myself that I'll never experience them. I masturbate, unfortunately a lot, which I doubt is healthy, and it's very hard to do it without some form of pornography (I haven't used visual pornography in many years, for moral reasons), which just leaves me feeling wretched and worthless afterward.
Some days, it's bearable; some days, I actually feel optimistic. But I'm NEVER actually happy, and it just seems to get worse the older I get. I feel like my problem is hopelessly constrained and totally impossible, but I might as well try. What say you, hive mind? How else can I cope? What is a good strategy?