Other sources for physical intimacy?
November 6, 2009 10:03 AM   Subscribe

Lonely, hungry for intimacy, ravenous to be touched, coddled or stroked. I'm old, sick and unattractive, I used to be smoking hot but men don't look at me any more, nor do they even acknowledge my presence. The area I live in is sparse for dating, and I've even tried one night stands. I have given up. What are some other ways to get the physical needs I have for the human social intimate relationship I do not have? I've done the CL casual encounters, internet dating etc.... Going for a massage now to see if it helps, and yes I have a loving and much loved pet....but I need more. Any resources? I'm sure there are others like me out there.
posted by ~Sushma~ to Human Relations (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
A cuddle party?
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:06 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

How about volunteering at seniors homes or institutes for the mentally challenged? There you'll find folks who are plenty enthusiastic about giving and receiving hugs and cuddles, and you'll feel better about yourself for helping. And who knows - along the way you just might meet someone connected to these places who can give you the sort of special cuddling you seek.
posted by fish tick at 10:33 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Skip the casual encounters, to be honest. Even if you are up for it, advertising it won't bring you the best the world has to offer.

I don't know how old you are, but it really doesn't matter. I think the idea that you "used to be" smoking hot is something you may want to forget about. If you are always competing with the woman you used to be, you are fighting an idealized picture of yourself and you will never win. Examine yourself, accept yourself for what you are. It will help if you can get a new perspective - a therapist can help a LOT. I wouldn't have believed it myself just a year ago.

Massage is a good idea, though it won't satisfy the need for intimacy - or it shouldn't :) At the very least, it feels good, and can really help relieve stress - which in turn can free up the part of your mind that is burdened.
posted by Xoebe at 10:34 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't know how old you are, but it really doesn't matter. I think the idea that you "used to be" smoking hot is something you may want to forget about.

Yes, this times ten million.

I know lots of old women, chronically ill women, and women who don't meet social beauty standards who find love all the time. My father was just invited to the wedding of a woman who is in her early 80s and is slowly losing extremities to diabetes.

Massage, etc., are awesome. Connecting with people with disabilities and terminal illnesses is awesome.

But if what you want is a romantic relationship with a partner, look for that, too. Craigslist "casual encounters" is not the place to look for that.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:43 AM on November 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've looked through some of your past questions to find out a bit more about your situation, and I was wondering if perhaps you have tried support groups for others who are also sick? What I'm reading here is you need is a companion, a partner, who can hold you, not just the other physical needs. Perhaps finding someone who is also in your situation, who needs you as much as you need them, might provide you with the benefits you need.

And I know you've said you tried internet dating but I would think that there would be some options there. I'm sure it can get endless and frustrating but if you find someone with whom you really connect it may not be a bad option to pursue. Plus it makes no sense to put all your eggs in one basket; trying multiple avenues simultaneously should increase your chances of success.
posted by arniec at 10:44 AM on November 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is there a beauty school in your area? The students there regularly provide services very cheaply as part of their training. Most of them are young and love to talk. I know this won't give you real intimacy, but it would give you social and tactile interaction – I don’t know about you, but I love having my hair washed, cut and styled, or getting manicures and pedicures. And don’t worry, all the services are supervised by the teachers, so if by chance you get a bad haircut, the teachers will make sure it’s corrected before you leave. (In my experience, this happens rarely.)
posted by yawper at 10:52 AM on November 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

I think you should look into avenues to build your confidence. You may still need more human contact, but you can drop the "I'm sick but I used to be hot" mentality. You probably have a smokin hot personality if you can allow yourself to realize it.

Side benefit - confidence attracts people, more people = more touch!
posted by WeekendJen at 11:15 AM on November 6, 2009

I hope the massage helps. I have found them helpful when I was in that kind of circumstance.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:34 PM on November 6, 2009

It's all in the head. Absorb that, truly understand it, and utilize it.

The exact same situation and exact same facts. Yet: one person is going to be happy and another miserable. Ergo: it's not about the situation or facts. It's about your head.

There are things that are out of your control and things which you have some control over. Psychologically well adjusted people, know how to accept that which they have no control over, and are able to marshal their strength to fight for that which they have control over.

You cannot control your age. Let it go. If you spend one minute pining for the past, you've just wasted that minute. It's in your head - you can't roll back the time, but you can control your reaction.

How men react to you. Partially controlled. First and foremost: you must feel comfortable with yourself. You will never have the crowds of men trooping after you again. That's gone.


You were once "smoking hot" - and perhaps that made you lazy. You relied - like many beautiful women do - on your beauty to do all the work. When that was gone, you were left with no skills (I'm talking about attracting and keeping a mate, friends, people).

But you know what? You're never too old to learn new skills. What attracts other people: self confidence, sense of humor, and knowing exactly what you want. There are many men/women who are physically unattractive or old/undesirable. Yet they get great mates. Why? See above. Really. Why is knowing exactly what you want and great confidence a good thing? Because it winnows out the field. There is a million fish in the ocean - fine, but how can you tell which fish is worth catching? If you present an ugly face and demand to be loved, like Serge Gainsbourg (I mention him not because he's famous, but because he's a face you can google - which you can't do for the random "ugly guy"), the prospective mates will break into two groups, very rapidly. One will bail. Are you sad? Wrong! Be happy, you just efficiently winnowed out: those who would demand that you bend too far, or who would want to control you, or who simply cannot see beyond the face. Good riddance! The other group - some will try to see what you are, outside of the face, and some will b hypnotized. I say consciously: hypnotized. You know "ugly beautiful"? That's what's happening. It's really ugly - but so full of confidence and good humor... it's beautiful! Ugly that is bashful and terribly aware of it's ugliness is just that - ugly. Don't be ugly. Be ugly beautiful.

The rest is up to you - it's in your head. Project your face. Ugly beautiful face. You know what you want. You are self confident. You laugh readily. You are a delightful presence. You'll find the right guy. And don't mourn the wrong guy - you're better off without him. And if you never find the right guy? BFD. It just means you played the odds - and your color never came in. But that's still better than settling for the wrong color. That is why it is NEVER wrong to go for just what you want. And yet, if nothing and nobody is there? That's still in your head - how will you take it? Will you cry? Or will you say "f*ck it, I've decided to be happy with what I have".

Small anecdote. Way back when, when I was a uncouth youth, I convinced my friend that the bump on his shin is a sign of cancer and the leg would have to be amputated. I was very persuasive. He was truly bummed out. The next day, I told him: "no, that's just a harmless boil. You do not have cancer" - he was angry... then I said "Happy Birthday" (it was his birthday) "this is your birthday present - I gave you back your leg. I cured you of cancer." He was happier for that present than any other. He spent a day thinking he had cancer - cancer that would result in a loss of a leg. Since then (30 years ago), whenever he complains about anything, I say: you don't have cancer. That snaps him back. Perspective. Why be happy you are cured of cancer? Why not be grateful you don't have it? Every day, I count my blessings and am incredibly grateful - among my blessings is that I have two legs. It's all in your head. Good luck!
posted by VikingSword at 12:37 PM on November 6, 2009 [11 favorites]

I wish you the best in resolving this, and some of the suggestions upstream are very good. My thought is that part of your barrier is your own perception of who you are.

I'm going to recommend a therapist to help you work on self image. I'm not denying any realities in your life as it concerns age, appearance, or illness... I have no perspective on that... but, as a MSW, and as an older individual (yep, older than you), and as someone with their own physical limitations, these do not need to stand in the way of physical relationships....

Explore this with a good guide, it may make a difference...
posted by HuronBob at 6:43 PM on November 6, 2009

It's taken me this long to respond looking at all the great links up there.... :-) Thanks.

Unfortunately I DO have terminal cancer myself, it is slow growing yet incurable form of blood cancer that is extremely painful, so I'm pretty sure my pain shows through, hence making me look angry, sad, etc. I would imagine that it itself is a turn off and I probably should make some effort to hide it, although I've made great strides in the self-pity department. The 'cancer' has been given a new place in the scheme of my life and I now call it a 'blood condition', so I'm getting there. BUT I'm still fugly with a sense of humor.

I have been through counseling during many key points, divorce after 20+ years of beatings, the loss of my life savings to embezzlement, to bankruptcy, to the deployment of two sons to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, to nearly losing my job because of illness, to the full-time caretaking of an adult brain damaged son, and to being completely and utterly alone through these experiences, and conquering agoraphobia.

If it wasn't for my counseling, the Glock and I would have had an intimate encounter.

Having said that, a long time ago a psychologist gave me a list of things to replace a man/and or human contact, things that have the same effects as cuddling...but I lost it and thought the hive would have access to something like it....many of the links above are great, and arguably I could use a boost of self-esteem.

Quote: 'Side benefit - confidence attracts people, more people = more touch!'

Yes! Agreed, wholeheartedly, Jen.

I LOVED the guy with the free hugs, if this weren't a small, morbidly conservative town I would consider it. That is by far the best suggestion thus far. Jaltco, I *swear* I looked for those links before I posted this. :-D

Quote: 'You cannot control your age. Let it go. If you spend one minute pining for the past, you've just wasted that minute' Point taken and cherished.

This post got me thinking of how beaten down I am and maybe I should try and change my attitude from cynic to optimist.

posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:25 PM on November 7, 2009

See if your doctor will help you find a sex therapist, or someone who will provide you with therapeutic touch, hugging, stroking, etc. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2009

Y'know, I have my moments like this. Over the last decade or so I went through so many things that just beat me to a pulp emotionally, and being a creative type I'm also insanely hard on myself (I don't care what anyone says... all serious artists are inherently blessed with profound self-esteem issues to battle. That's why so many historically turn to drugs and self destruction). I can't compare my problems to yours, but I also went through my share of loss and victimization and abuse (mine wasn't physical, but sometimes the damage inside is the hardest to heal) and painful health problems and career meltdowns and years of caretaker duties... plus a healthy sprinkling of those "I used to be hot, dammit" feelings... blah blah blah.

When you're in the middle of it, it just feels like such a quicksand pool of suck, it's hard to think things could ever turn around so it's hard to see things any differently. The problem with that, is you start to perpetuate more suck. The pool of suck gets bigger and you sink deeper. And at that point it's hard to not just throw your hands up in the air and say "I'm tired. Fuck it. This is my life. A pool of suck."

But it isn't.

When I was going through hard times I had a few friends get really annoyed with me. They kept telling me "You shouldn't talk about the bad stuff. You're being negative. Have a good attitude and it'll all be great!" While I definitely believe in aiming for the positive, I learned a lot about seriously bad times recently. Sometimes they just aren't your fault when you go through them, and feeling like a failure for not being cheery doesn't help. I used to think it was all in the attitude, but sometimes things simply ARE crap and you have every right to feel the way you do. ANYONE WOULD. You're human and going through serious serious struggles! But the thing is... there's a difference between being realistic and accepting the suck at face value and choosing to live in it permanently. It doesn't define you, it's just what you're going through. There's no denying it, but there's no reason to choose to make the pain last longer than it needs to. Everything is temporary... whether it's great times or horrible times. Life is a rollercoaster, that's just what it is.

As I see it, I've gone through a lot of mourning periods over the last few years. I've had to say goodbye to various things, people, and beliefs. That's hard. But I've found that over the last six months for my own survival I've really had to find ways to reinvent myself and redefine who I am based on what I have to work with NOW. Not based on who I was fifteen years ago or who I dreamed I would be. Yeah, it's not what I was expecting... but LIFE IS LIKE THAT. It can't really be planned, change is inescapable, and you have to take the ingredients you're given sometimes and make a meal with it. Sometimes that meal ends up surprisingly delicious, even though it's not what we ever would've gone to the store for.

Your life is what it is. You can't change that. You can only change how you react to it. I'm willing to bet that there are other people who are going through or have gone through the same experiences that you could either draw friendship and support from or actually inspire. You're a survivor, so wear that knowledge proudly! You're still alive!

Make use of what you have. Try looking for new ways to live, to laugh, and to share your heart with people. Find ways to be inspired by others and the world, take some moments to discover what makes you feel like your best, happiest self and gravitate towards it whenever possible. In turn, you might be surprised that people are drawn to do the same with you.

I mean in all honestly, I'm not going to say that I'm no longer standing in a pool of suck... it's smaller, but I have my share of things that are still going seriously wrong. Thing is, after a while I've found I barely even give notice to that pool of suck under me because I'm too busy swimming along through it instead of just standing there finding ways to make it seem even bigger.

BTW, funny thing... now that I'm doing fine, the people who put me down so hard when I was at a low point suddenly want to hang out with me again and are all over how great I am. So after a bit of thought I've decided that they aren't the kinds of people I should gravitate towards. I know I'll feel down again someday, and they won't be the kinds of friends I'll need by my side to help me swim when I'm sinking again.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2009 [2 favorites]

now that I'm doing fine, the people who put me down so hard when I was at a low point suddenly want to hang out with me again and are all over how great I am. So after a bit of thought I've decided that they aren't the kinds of people I should gravitate towards. I know I'll feel down again someday, and they won't be the kinds of friends I'll need by my side to help me swim when I'm sinking again.

Nthing this x1000.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:32 AM on November 9, 2009

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