What kind of girl should I marry?
September 16, 2011 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Should I marry the girl I like having sex with, or the one I like the rest of the time?

I have a recurring problem where the kind of girl I want to bang the hell out of is not the kind of girl who makes me feel anything before or after. Are both of these already decided in childhood? Can I change one? Am I even asking the right questions?

I keep finding myself in situations where I'm either upsetting someone I've had a seriously enjoyable hour with by forgetting to act like I care, or having slipped into sex with a best friend/little sister type I can't unscramble that egg and have to keep... whisking her. Both end badly because I'm an idiot. I can't keep doing this. It's time to pick.

A lifetime of empirical evidence suggests I won't find these qualities in one person.
posted by fraac to Human Relations (100 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

A lifetime of empirical evidence suggests I won't find these qualities in one person.

Um, how old are you? My husband was 57 when we met.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2011 [16 favorites]

I will give the standard MeFi answer of: have you tried therapy?

A great many people find people who they love romantically AND want to have sex with. Passionately. With gusto!

Have you also considered that you may be seeing both types of women as objects, in terms of what they can do for you? I don't think you're ready to marry. At all. Because you would be promising your partner a lifetime of contempt, contention and frustration.
posted by Ashen at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2011 [22 favorites]

You should marry neither of these, um, girls.

Wait a while, then find a woman that you love and you like to have sex with.
posted by bondcliff at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2011 [35 favorites]

Dude, seriously. These are not mutually exclusive. Keep looking.
posted by tommasz at 1:12 PM on September 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

What qualities in each of these women somehow end up mutually exclusive in your eyes?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2011

Why would you have to pick? You don't have to get married, and you shouldn't get married to someone you don't like all of the time. If you keep meeting girls who fall into one of two unsatisfying categories you've built in your head, the problem might not be the girls- it might be your head. If having fun with someone for an hour upsets them because you "forget to act like you care", that's also a problem with you that you need to fix in yourself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:13 PM on September 16, 2011 [13 favorites]

[...]the kind of girl I want to bang the hell out of is not the kind of girl who makes me feel anything before or after[...]

[...]slipped into sex[...]

[...]I'm an idiot. I can't keep doing this. It's time to pick.

You don't sound like you're ready for a lifelong (presumably monogamous) relationship yet, at least based on this question. For the moment, I would suggest "picking" neither; when you are in a loving, satisfying relationship with someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life, marry that person, and types be damned.
posted by ellF at 1:14 PM on September 16, 2011 [11 favorites]

N'thing the others that it doesn't sound like you are ready to get married or have found the right person yet.

I would also like to add, though, that there's no law saying you have to get married at all. There's also no law that says you have to be in a relationship with only one person forever and ever until the end of time. Find an arrangement that works for you and your partner(s), and go be happy.

Don't marry someone you don't love just for the sex.
posted by phunniemee at 1:15 PM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

Am I even asking the right questions?

Not even close, but it's good that you're self-aware enough to ask the questions.

You're making a hell of an assumption as far as "picking" goes. Getting married isn't like going to the store. What makes you think that a woman who you're only sleeping with, or a girl with whom you have a terrible sex life would want to marry you? Both of the relationships you describe sound like a terrible basis for a marriage.

Both end badly because I'm an idiot.

No, both end badly because something up in your noggin is preventing you from having a complete experience with a woman. Go figure that out before you start tossing out marriage proposals to people you shouldn't be marrying, and who shouldn't be marrying you.
posted by griphus at 1:16 PM on September 16, 2011 [41 favorites]

Keep looking and/or having casual sex. Whatever works for you in the long-term. You clearly haven't found someone you want to marry yet.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2011

While it is quite cliche you may want to do some thinking about the Madonna-Whore complex.
posted by vanitas at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [13 favorites]

I'm also wondering how old you are, based on the fact that you're referring to women as "girls." Give yourself some time to grow up and find someone you actually care about. People do it every day.
posted by something something at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I'm 34 and I feel weary, like I've done too much of this. I need to be doing the next thing. I've only ever totally enjoyed sex with a particular kind of girl (woman? do we call them that now? see, that just says I'm too old to be not taking this seriously, right?) and I've only ever felt anything outside sex with another kind of girl (definitely girl for this). I really strongly suspect these archetypes are fixed. In any case I've avoided people for about a year, I'm just worn out by the whole thing, so it's not like I'm finding more fish in the sea; there's just these current two who I haven't yet made hate me, mostly by avoiding them.
posted by fraac at 1:22 PM on September 16, 2011

What? Get married? Ok maybe your older and have been doing this for forty years but I bet not. Even if you have you don't seem very mature emotionally. Stop looking for girls and work on yourself until you're ready to put some work into a relationship (they take a lot of work or whisking as you call it). Also update with more details.
posted by boobjob at 1:23 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Am I even asking the right questions?

No. Instead, try asking:

"Is it possible I'm not ready to marry ANYONE right now?"

"How do I decide what qualities do I want in a partner, and how do I stop being willing to settle for people who only have some of those qualities but not others?"

"How do I shift from thinking that I have to 'get married' in general, to starting to think about whether I will marry one or another person in the specific after I've known them a while?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I thought that taz had some amazing insight in his response to a similar question. And I agree wholeheartedly with vanitas that you spend some time evaluating what role the Madonna-whore complex is having in your relationships.
posted by argonauta at 1:24 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I really strongly suspect these archetypes are fixed.

Which is why they appear to be. Nothing about your consciousness is some immutable, objective fact bestowed upon you by a higher power. If you want to, you can change what you think and how you think. Do you not like this aspect about how you perceive the world? You go to a professional and work on fixing it. That is the entire concept behind therapy. Unless you want a miserable marriage, you'd be wise to do that before getting engaged to anyone.
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

woman? do we call them that now? see, that just says I'm too old to be not taking this seriously, right?

I'm not even sure if you're serious, period.

Yes, anything that causes you this much anxiety should probably be discussed in therapy. Whatever variant of the Madonna-Whore complex you're operating under needs to be untangled by a professional if it's interfering with your relationships to this extent. In the mean time, don't date anyone or sleep with anyone. Work on figuring out why you have such rigid expectations in women.
posted by lydhre at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also, I can assure you that going through a divorce is a whole lot worse than what you're feeling now.
posted by griphus at 1:28 PM on September 16, 2011 [19 favorites]

Um, are you attracted at all to the girls you like? If so, build on that. Obviously, you cannot marry someone you don't like. So your choice here is either to be the single guy banging chicks forever (or at least as long as you can still get those chicks, how long will that last, hmmm....?) - or to rethink your sexual standards.
posted by yarly at 1:31 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Wait, everyone is saying this has to do with the Madonna-whore thing, but you haven't actually told us what types of girls these ARE that you want to have sex with and that you feel things for.

All I can figure out (I think?) is this:

As to the girls you like having sex with, they are girls/and or women.

As to the girls you feel things for, they would definitely be described as "girls" and not "women" and are best friend/little sister types.

Is that right? Can you describe a little more about these two types?
posted by Ashley801 at 1:32 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not saying that you're actually dating two such women, are you? Because if that were the case you might want to marry the one who's OK with the idea of an open marriage.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2011

I agree with the other posters is that this is not a binary choice - right now you have some sorts of expectations and preconceptions that are preventing you, I think, from truly connecting to a woman (yes - you are 34 - you should call people of the opposite gender who are old enough for you to sleep with women, even if they behave like "girls" to you).

There is a tone of disrespect in your post that is grating. There are a hell of a lot more than two types of women in the world, and if you want to have a truly happy marriage, you should really go to therapy and examine why you don't see women as people, really, but archetypes, some of whom you want to have lots of sex with, and others whom you want to -- well, I can't tell what it is exactly.

If I were you, I'd stop dating and go to therapy. Tell them what you've told us here. Say that you want to figure out what a happy marriage would look like to you and the qualities that the person you'd marry should have. Then, when you start dating again, I'd use what you'd learned and be very mindful about looking at the person you're dating as an individual, not someone from group A or group B.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:38 PM on September 16, 2011 [25 favorites]

That's good to know about divorce, griphus. Madonna-Whore thing... yeah, I guess it's a version of that. But isn't that stuff fixed in childhood? I mean paedophiles can't suddenly get straightened out.

justsomebody: I have barely any relationship with either of them because I knew what would happen and felt sick. I'm on the Jesus -> Charles Manson personality axis, so if I had my heart set it would play out with some inevitability. My heart is not set. I'm sick of myself.

"and others whom you want to -- well, I can't tell what it is exactly"

Hug, make fun of, have them adore me. It's a very little sister thing. But it feels really good, better than just about anything.
posted by fraac at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2011

You are more likely to find someone you're happy with if you avoid sorting people mentally into arbitrary groups based on your past bad decisions.

If you're worn out by the whole thing, then stay out of the whole thing entirely until you meet someone whom you find particularly energizing or enticing. The fact that you don't know what you're looking for is only going to muddle things as you keep trying to make the pieces fit, which is unfair to the women you're dating in the meantime.

Also, if you never end up getting married, that's okay.
posted by hermitosis at 1:41 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Also, if you never end up getting married, that's okay."

It's not okay. I'll die having done less than half of everything.
posted by fraac at 1:43 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm of the belief that the Madonna-Whore complex can be cured by learning to stop objectifying women.

Until then, you probably shouldn't marry anyone.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:44 PM on September 16, 2011 [38 favorites]

Any female under 18 can be called a 'girl'. Any female that a 34 year old man would be respectably involved with is definitely a woman.

My advice is to keep up with the celibacy and enter into therapy. If you only find yourself enjoying sex with women who you don't respect or even like and dating women you don't find appealing, that's not good. I could see either thing happening once or twice, but definitely not as many times as you've described. Men who feel good about themselves don't have sex with women they don't like. Men who feel good about themselves don't date women they don't like. Get yourself sorted out! Once you deal with your own issues, The Woman Of Your Dreams will probably happen to you.
posted by 200burritos at 1:46 PM on September 16, 2011 [12 favorites]

You are really coming off as a narcissist here. I am guessing that your problem is that you either attract women who look up to you adoringly and thus flatter you (the little sister type), or you seduce the really pretty girls (also feeding your ego). Different aspects of the same narcissistic personality. I don't see you having a good relationship unless you start approaching women as equals rather than as means to your gratification.
posted by yarly at 1:52 PM on September 16, 2011 [31 favorites]

A lifetime of empirical evidence suggests I won't find these qualities in one person.

I would submit that empirical evidence gathered by a single person is insufficient to form a viable hypothesis when there are billions of other individuals gathering empirical evidence on the same subject with different results.
posted by The World Famous at 1:52 PM on September 16, 2011 [25 favorites]

But isn't that stuff fixed in childhood? I mean paedophiles can't suddenly get straightened out.

It kinda sounds like you want there to be some end-all-be-all solution, but don't want to have to change yourself. This is one of those times where there's a mental mechanism that you need to work with and eradicate. Stare it straight in the eye - not only is it pushing women (yes. They are women. Say it with me now) into two one-dimensional categories, but it is also hurting you. It is hurting you because you continue to have dissatisfying connections to women, and you have deprived yourself of being able to enjoy a woman's company and who she is as a human being. That sucks! So don't be quick to say that you can't get rid of your Madonna-Whore complex. It happens to be built in with a whole bunch of societal things, such as "You are near 40! You should have had the house, car, job and kids by now! YOU ARE NOT A MAN." Which is utter bullshit. On some level, you know it's utter bullshit and it's making you unhappy. I'd wager that chances are, the women you want to have sex with AND have a great relationship can sense your emotional immaturity a mile away, and avoid you for that reason. The catch here is that you have to work on yourself to even be able to find them.

Time to stare yourself in the face and start working with all of that.
posted by Ashen at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [17 favorites]

It sounds like therapy could be very helpful to you. Tell the therapist you're having trouble connecting with women in a way that feels meaningful to you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well... you should marry someone whom you are absolutely sure you want to marry. Don't marry just to get married. It's not going to make you happier or make you more of an adult. It's a commitment, not an achievement. If you have to ask, you're not ready.

There's not a lot of detail in your question, but if I had to guess at why you consider these traits mutually exclusive, I'd guess maybe you're attracted to the sort of rollercoastery intense relationships that start out with all sorts of sparks and end in drama and yelling. They're exciting, and excitement is sexy, but they don't last long.

Or maybe it's something else. What exactly is it about the women you're sexually attracted to that prevents you from getting along with them? What is it about the women you're emotionally close to that doesn't turn you on? Perhaps there are some different traits you're conflating here?

And... what classifies a woman as "definitely girl" for you? Either that relationship happened before adulthood, or there's something worth unpacking there.

I also think it's interesting that you say "what kind of girl." I don't think any happily married person would describe their spouse as a "type." They see the whole person.

Finally, no, this sort of thing is not set in stone from childhood. Far from it. Most of us suck at relationships when we start out, and sometimes the people we think are right for us really aren't. We get our hearts broken, and make stupid decisions, and gain experience and wisdom, and learn more about who and what are actually good for us, and what we can bring to a partnership. If all you've learned from your years of dating is that there are two types of women and you consider yourself "an idiot," it's time for some reflection or trying something different.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:53 PM on September 16, 2011 [4 favorites]

It's not okay. I'll die having done less than half of everything.

Can you explain more what you mean by this?
posted by the jam at 1:55 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

"Also, if you never end up getting married, that's okay."

It's not okay. I'll die having done less than half of everything.

No matter what, you're going to die having done much less than half of everything there is to do. But you definitely shouldn't try to rectify that by promising to love and cherish above all others a woman you don't respect.

And let's be honest: you don't respect any of these women. Some of them, you believe aren't worth talking to and only use for sex. Others, you treat like children and believe are sexless beings who exist to make you feel good about yourself. Neither of those ways of relating to other human beings is respectful, much less conducive to partnership.

Am I being hard on you? Absolutely. Because you are proposing to lie to a woman and use her for your own ends. No woman would agree to marry you if you said, "You're not what I'm looking for in a wife, but I'm getting older and I feel like I'm supposed to marry somebody before I die, and you're here, so will you marry me?" If you want to get into a real relationship, figure out why you hold these false ideas about the world and fix yourself. Then you'll be a person worth marrying. Until then, leave these poor women alone.
posted by decathecting at 1:56 PM on September 16, 2011 [38 favorites]

But isn't that stuff fixed in childhood? I mean paedophiles can't suddenly get straightened out.

Things like pedophilia and homosexuality are deeper-rooted, broad-strokes kinds of things -- those dictate what GENDER you're attracted to. There's a big difference between being attracted to men and being attracted to women, or being attracted to grown adults vs. children (or humans vs. sheep).

However, things like "I dig women, but I dig women who are easy vs. women who are reserved" is something that can ABSOLUTELY be fixed by therapy. Provided, that is, that the person entering therapy WANTS to change.

[Not getting married] is not okay. I'll die having done less of everything.

That's a new question for you to ask: "why do I feel like not getting married means 'I'll have done less than half of everything'?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dude, you don't trip and suddenly find your dick in a vagina.

Slow down on the sex stuff and get to know more of the women you meet. Treat them like people, first and foremost, rather than potential bedmates and helpmeets.

Because, seriously, we don't exist to "make you feel good" or as receptacles for your genitals.

With some time and introspection you might find a woman who you want to bang and cook dinner/have long conversations/whatever with.

But don't marry someone who is only half of what you want. Please.
posted by bilabial at 2:06 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I am not qualified to say the things I'm about to say.

Pay attention.

You can't have a satisfying relationship with a woman because women are not real to you. Maybe you only have this problem with women, maybe with everyone.

The fact that you refer to women as "girls", though not totally unusual or unheard of, is distinctly off in a way that evokes the uncanny. It supports the interpretation that you don't really "get" people.

Your question states your problem very succinctly: you keep relating to people (women) in the same ways over and over again, you have only one way of doing this.

I'm on the Jesus -> Charles Manson personality axis, so if I had my heart set it would play out with some inevitability.

You sense that the problem you have is something deep within you.

My heart is not set. I'm sick of myself.

In all humility, I would suggest that you print this question and take it to a medical doctor and ask for a referral for therapy. I am not qualified to say this, but my guess is that you need to be referred for a lot of therapy, for a long time: at least a year. Don't just do this with a view to relieving depression or whatever, because that would not be treating the root of the problem, which you have identified quite accurately: you're sick of yourself.

My guess is that you will need to stay very motivated in order to get better. I wish more people with problems like those you describe would acknowledge them and reach out for help. Don't lose your resolve. Good luck.
posted by tel3path at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2011 [10 favorites]

I don't think you're looking at this from the right point of view. You don't *have* to get married. You may want to get married, but that still doesn't mean it has to happen now.

Before you marry someone for the wrong reasons, I really think you should go to a therapist. It seems like you have a much bigger issue than you're stating here, and as awesome as MeFites can be, you need to have someone with more experience to help you get through this. Marrying for the wrong reasons will be bad for both people involved, and griphus is right. Divorce is very traumatic.

Personally, I think you're over-thinking the entire situation. 34 is not old or too late; you have time to find the right person (not the right type.) Slow down, and date just to date; not to find the perfect woman/the woman you want to bang/the woman that can be your best friend. There is more to life than sex, and I promise you no woman wants to get married because she fits all or even half of your guidelines. We're people, too, not just artifacts to be used for sex *or* as someone to spend time with when you're lonely. A relationship should be about more than sex, life milestones or having someone to hang out with.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2011

I'll bet some of the "hot sex girls" also would be great life partners. But you never even give them a chance, because you immediately categorize them as sex objects.

The problem is your ideas. If you can't change your mind on your own, and you won't seek therapy, then you're stuck with what you've got or worse.

Again, the problem is in your head, and not with the 3 billion or so women on Earth.
posted by General Tonic at 2:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [11 favorites]

i agree fraac. if you don't get married, you'll never know how it is to get unmarried, and it's likely you'll need to.

your choice is immaterial.

think of it as relationship quantum mechanics. if you observe the event, you change it.

here's an observation: marriage is a process; choice is an event.

once you choose your irrelevant partner and marry, you then (he laughs!) supposedly commit to stay in the process. (my sister in law has "until death do us part"-ed four times. Why they call them vows eludes me.

only the process is between two changing entities. who you are when you choose is valid for that instant. after the choice, you change. so does she. even if you don't make a choice, you and she change. that's what we do. otherwise you'd still think comic books were great literature like you did when you were 9.

say you marry for the sex. well, in 50 years, you'll be having sex with an 85 year old woman. how does that strike you for fun, fraac? hot, huh? she, OTOH, will be having sex with an 85 y/o geezer. go find a woman who wants that in man on craiglist or nerve or OK Cupid, or wherever you wish to look.

say you marry for the love. it's kinda weird, but the closest you'll get to love before you have killed yourself in the interests of another human you absolutely would die for, is your pet. that's unidirectional. you may marry for infatuation or for what you hope will develop into love, but you don't do it at the front end and you don't really know if it will happen until it does. that has more to do with you than with her.

the numbers are against you, either way. people are not points and 'forever' to most people means about 7 years, if you go by divorce/breakup statistics, freely accessible to anyone with computer competence and basic math skills. i am sure you can tell me what your odds of drawing a straight flush are? using those same skills, what are your odds of being married in 20 years? now that you have that in hand, , what are your odds of being happy at that point AND having your mate happy?

close.to.zero. those who stay in a marriage are at best, normally distributed by happiness and that means that only half are above the mean.

put the GIRLS in a hat and choose one. see what happens. repeat as needed.

(i married twice.. 24 years first time and widowed, 9 so far in the second and last one. it is neither the path to happiness, nor a panacea, nor easy, though by damn, it is simple to arrange! i'm cynical by nature, and just up from a nap so my diplomacy screens are off. sorry.)
posted by FauxScot at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Listen to griphus!

And, no, NOTHING in your head is "fixed" and unchangeable. Your brain is a dynamic organ, ever-changing. Hopefully, it is improving on its decision-making process as it goes, but if it's not ("the kind of girl I want to bang the hell out of is not the kind of girl who makes me feel anything before or after"), you need to work on fixing the cognitive processes that are leading you astray.

Therapy. Guided introspection. And, BTW - you're young, and there's plenty of time to get your head straightened out, so you can be the kind of guy who proposes to and stays with the kind of girl who'd want to be with the kind of guy you are... But you aren't that guy yet.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:23 PM on September 16, 2011

The Madonna/Whore dichotomy isn't something you just need to get *over* or some kind of sickness. It's one of the great themes of male-driven literature, film, art and of course music. As the wiseman Usher once said, men want "a lady in the street but a freak in the bed."

All those women you meet, however, are nuanced, multi-faceted individuals, OK, most of them. And some of them will get excited by being perceived as the good girl next door who is also the kinky slut in bed. Not all of them. Maybe not many of them. But if they are that kind of girl, they're certainly not going to advertise it on the first date or before. So you're going to have to get to know people. And see if someone in there turns into someone you're attracted to as you get closer to them.

I say this as someone who got classified as "the kind of girl men date/f-, but don't marry" in college. Like, to my face. And it sucked. But my now-husband fell in love with me, and maybe because I didn't date him right away or whatever, we talked about books and movies and my proclivity for making pies. He told me that I was the first girl that both sides of him agreed on.

But of course I didn't date him then because I was as insecure and screwed up as people are suggesting you are, so I married a guy that didn't "do it all" for me but was theoretically the right kind of guy to marry. That sucked and we eventually got divorced. I wised up and realized that as soon as I had my crap together that my friend from college now magically "did it for me" romantically too. I was lucky as hell that he still didn't find another girl that fulfilled both sides of his romantic needs so we got married. We've been married 5 years and he gets to have me bake him homemade apple pie in an apron and, well, the other stuff too.

So, I've been there. Grow up a little. Get to know people. But don't feel like you have to "get over" the dichotomy. The more you get to know people, the more dichotomous you'll find everyone is.
posted by Gucky at 2:33 PM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

Yes, if she is over the age of 18 she is a woman. Start thinking of her as such. And start thinking of her as a human being, that would also help. (Because she is one!)

You seem to be in a bit of a bind - how do I solve this Madonna-Whore complex I have and actually get married but how can I not take any responsibility whatsoever for my actions/thoughts and instead place the blame on my childhood which I clearly cannot fix now.

The good news is that you're actually asking a question about it rather than just shuffling along merrily destroying everyone else's lives. So it seems like you actually want to change.

A short-term action plan would be:

1) Think of women as human beings.

2) Start referring to women as girls.

3) Stop placing people in little boxes with little labels on them.

4) Stop putting pressure on yourself to get married.

5) Seek a therapist.
posted by mleigh at 2:41 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

2) Start referring to women as girls.

Or, alternatively, stop doing that.
posted by mleigh at 2:42 PM on September 16, 2011 [7 favorites]

A lifetime of empirical evidence suggests I won't find these qualities in one person.

Check your instruments - I think they may be off.

By which I mean that the problem here is an information processing problem, not a problem with who you're attracted to. If I had to guess, I would say that you feel some kind of shame about the type of women you want to sleep with, or that you have some kind of shame about sex in general.

I can't tell which it is from your question. Do you have a physical type that's unusual? Do the women you want to sleep with not look like the women your friends want to sleep with? If so, it's probably option 1. Otherwise I'd think about the possibility of option 2.

Either way, you might be definitionally excluding women you want to sleep with from the category of women you could build a life with (not saying you're doing this on a conscious level). Therapy can absolutely help with this - attacking needless shame is one of the things a good therapist can do.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:43 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

"Men want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed"

Like gucky says, some women can be both you know. Pigeonholing women into one role or the other isn't helpful, we don't all categorise like that. Stop thinking of it as "either or" and stop thinking about marriage as an abstract achievement to tick off the checklist. Don't get married until you meet a woman who makes you think "damn I want to marry her."
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:44 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

It strikes me that your question is, in effect, "I'd like to Be Married someday. What's the least-bad choice for a wife, in the abstract, of these two very bad kinds of relationships I've been in so far?"

Please try hard not to think of "being married" your objective, such that you're just trying to cast the part of the wife. What I think (I hope) you REALLY want is to meet someone interesting, develop a mutually rewarding relationship with them that includes both friendship and enjoyable sex, fall in love, then decide--together--that you want to spend the rest of your life with one another and want to mark that decision with a momentous event and changes to your legal status.

That is the only ONLY way that you will end up being happily married, in a marriage that is happy for both of you and for any offspring you may raise together, and you're going to have to follow those steps in order. To get to step one, being open to meeting someone with whom it is even possible that you might follow all above the steps together, that's where you need to understand yourself better in a very fundamental way, and, simply put, you are going to need professional help.

Invest in yourself. Give yourself not just a chance to be truly happy, but to make someone else truly happy, and, maybe, to raise children that will have the foundations of their own happy lives. I can promise you that that will not be your story if you settle for either of the two "types" of dysfunctional relationships you have had to date. I wish you luck.
posted by argonauta at 2:49 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Tel3path told you the truth.

Follow that very good advice.
posted by jbenben at 2:52 PM on September 16, 2011

I keep finding myself in situations where I'm either upsetting someone I've had a seriously enjoyable hour with by forgetting to act like I care, or having slipped into sex with a best friend/little sister type I can't unscramble that egg and have to keep... whisking her.
Apparently you believe that genuinely nice women (yes, that's what you call them) can't/don't/won't get creative/nasty/wild in bed. You are incorrect.
You clearly see marriage as an endpoint. Marriage is just the start of having a complicated, committed relationship. Not being married, and being confused about women and sex is wearing you out. Trust me, a bad marriage and/or a bad divorce is really, really bad. And that's even without kids.

Therapy, therapy, therapy. When you do telephone interviews with potential therapists, ask them if they would define themselves as feminist. I think you will have better success with a therapist who understands gender equality quite well. This doesn't have to be a woman.

You are pretty young, and you describe yourself as deeply tired. That's a common indicator of depression. Again, therapy.

People change. You can't change your fingerprints, or certain hard-coded parts of your Self. But your understanding of yourself, of women, of people, relationships, etc., can. And you can find the love and passion you want.
posted by theora55 at 3:09 PM on September 16, 2011

Good grief, you're not ready to marry ANYONE! In the meantime, perhaps you should try monogamy (or even celibacy!) for a while, 'cause unless both the women you're currently seeing know and are okay about each other, you're being unfair to both of them.

(And by the way, they're WOMEN, not girls, unless you're messing around with children..... and while this may seem minor, it's possibly part of your problem: they're grownup adult human beings, and calling them 'girls' infantilizes them and denies them full adulthood equal to your own.)
posted by easily confused at 3:12 PM on September 16, 2011

I didn't think I saw women as objects. It's that I've known only two ever who made me feel anything apart from during sex. I don't think that's objectifying if I'm honestly reporting my (lack of) feelings. Is it? I'm always very respectful. The two who made me feel things are, apparently, of a type: small, super cute, oddly naive yet very smart, very sexual and dangerous (probably psychopathic or something), everyone around them smitten with them except for me, and me the only person who can deal with them. I like that they look up to me and accept me when I'm kinda naive and weird myself. Most people don't do that and I think it's important. Ideally I'd be sexually attracted to them beyond the UST we both enjoy. And there have been two, really very similar, and I messed things up with one and I haven't touched the second one to the point of avoiding her for weeks at a time.

But I also think it means something when I recall that there were only two women with whom I ever totally, fully in all ways possible enjoyed sex. I was always nice but they took it more personally than I did and in one case I was careless and she got hurt. Enjoying sex has to mean something fairly important, I guessed.

Types... okay, one of the 50 'truth wizards' identified by Paul Ekman says she strongly believes that physical appearance and personality and inseparable. I only mention that because I already believed it.

I actually went to a therapist, for the first time, a few weeks ago. Got the impression she was scared of me. I found that dispiriting but sadly not unusual. Like I said, I've avoided almost everyone for a while now. Maybe everyone's dead out there.

Okay, well, thanks all. I'm going to shave and then decide what to do next.
posted by fraac at 3:23 PM on September 16, 2011

Whoever said Madonna/Whore complex really hit this one on the head. Please do your future spouse and children a favour and go to therapy.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:23 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Perhaps whoever assisted you with your travel through time from 1951 could recommend some resources to help you with this issue.

Seriously, relationships are not about you. They are about two people and how they feel about each other. If you don't feel very much about women, don't try to marry one; just be kind to your nephews and nieces so you'll have someone to think of you in your old age.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:26 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The young g^Hwomen are not giving off any sexual vibes (around me) even when flirting wildly. They want to be wanted, but even if they have to use sex to get control of people it never feels like they urgently need it. I'm very sensitive to what vibes people are emitting when what they want is different from what they need. So I don't think it's entirely me. What's the female issue where they use sex to get a protector?
posted by fraac at 3:32 PM on September 16, 2011

Maybe everyone's dead out there.

This is a very disturbing statement to me. There is a whole world of alive, living, positively-interacting people who want you to be one of them. You can, and should, be one of them.

I'm thrilled to hear that you've been to a therapist. It's okay if it wasn't a good fit on the first try. Please, please go to another, very soon.

posted by argonauta at 3:35 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I didn't think I saw women as objects.

Understandable, since society keeps people from being that self-aware.

It's that I've known only two ever who made me feel anything apart from during sex. I don't think that's objectifying if I'm honestly reporting my (lack of) feelings. Is it? I'm always very respectful.

So are the friends of rape victims who end up assaulting them, but that's neither here nor there (note. I'm not calling you a rapist).

What's the female issue where they use sex to get a protector?

Please stop deflecting. And please - pleeeease - take everyone's advice seriously.
posted by Ashen at 3:35 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

The young g^Hwomen are not giving off any sexual vibes (around me) even when flirting wildly. They want to be wanted, but even if they have to use sex to get control of people it never feels like they urgently need it.

This . . . this means that they are being nice to you because they are interested in you and would like to get closer to see what you are like.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:37 PM on September 16, 2011

In a way, I think this is a version of this question:


At least when you're looking at the answers that say, "it's unlikely that the final answer is that you're just too awesome for guys to handle."

It's unlikely that you're too scary for therapy, or too intense/compelling/perceptive a personality for a fulfilling, equal relationship with a mere mortal woman. (not to be too harsh, but Jesus and Charles Manson are both the long tail.)

You may have met the wrong therapist or the wrong women, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

Get a psychologist who's worked with prison populations - many have, and it's unlikely you'll throw them.

For the relationships, wait until you've talked to a decent therapist. Other than that, believe that more people may, in fact be your match.
posted by mercredi at 3:40 PM on September 16, 2011 [6 favorites]

You're very good at reading people in a way (i.e. you're not wrong about having a certain kind of sensitivity), but your overall interpretation of what they are doing is fundamentally wrong.

I second the suggestion to find a therapist that works with prison populations. (Note: not in any way, shape or form am I suggesting that you are a criminal.)
posted by tel3path at 3:48 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

[OP, it's time for you to step back from the question and let it develop how it will.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:04 PM on September 16, 2011

Whoa. This whole thing is about four women in total? You've enjoyed the company of two women, and enjoyed the sex with two different women, and from that you've concluded that there are zero women in the world with whom you will enjoy both the company and the sex?

You're getting judged pretty hard here, and I totally get why -- your tone is not pleasant, and it's not making people feel very generous towards you. But setting aside all the armchair psychologizing and lecturing: if you're picky enough about whose company you enjoy that you've only met two such women in your life, and picky enough about who you like having sex with that you've only met two such women in your life, then you are simply going to need to meet a LOT of women to find someone who falls into both categories. That's just a result of the numbers, not of the mutual exclusivity of these categories. I've had a number of good relationships where I really enjoyed the company and really enjoyed the sex. But there are also plenty of guys who I've met in my life who I either had enjoyable sex with or enjoyed their company. If I had one hat with the names of the guys who I've had great sex with in it, and a different hat with the names of the guys whose company I've enjoyed, and I picked just two names out of each hat, I wouldn't be at all surprised to get four different names. But that wouldn't mean that there were no names that were repeated in both hats!

You need a way bigger sample.
posted by ootandaboot at 4:56 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sounds to me a bit like you're terrified of forming an intimate connection with anyone and feeling vulnerable, and thus can only get involved with women you don't respect or feel superior to. That's not a great recipe for happiness, really; in a real relationship you should always feel a bit vulnerable because the other person is important to you.

Additionally, you seem to have a lot invested into the idea that you're unique, and special, and no one could understand you and you're like some lonely philosopher-king on a mountain top. But I would respectfully submit that no one is really more unique or special than anyone else and tonnes of people can understand anyone, including you, OP.

Indeed, I don't think you're like Jesus, OP, and I don't think you're like Charles Manson, either. I think you're a dude who's getting a bit older now, and is feeling lonely - and afraid of getting even lonelier - and is scared at the prospect that he may just be an ordinary, pedestrian human being, eking out some kind of life between the cracks of working and sleeping, and afraid that no one will see any value in that person, or that the only people who can are broken or worthless, and that any attempt to initiate a connection with someone who isn't broken or worthless is going to result in rejection, mockery, disgust.

It doesn't have to be that way, man. Why not try some therapy, maybe some meds, and spend some more time with your friends, the best quality friends you have, and start thinking about why they like you and why you like them, and forget about girls and their types for a few months. Best of luck.
posted by smoke at 5:07 PM on September 16, 2011 [15 favorites]

You are either trolling or have some problems in the social skills department. Either way you need therapy. I'd bet the farm you are not nearly as scary as you think you are, as much fun as it is to think you scared the therapist.
posted by jnnla at 5:10 PM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

I've known only two ever who made me feel anything apart from during sex.

Ok, I'll take the bait on this one. Women do not exist to "make you feel" anything. Something for you to work on would be your "locus of control" which is to say, recognizing that you and only you, are in control of how you feel. Internalize that. Your locus of control also involves other aspects of your life. For instance, that you can be happy without being married. This concept involves balance. Being able to see what is out of your hands and what you can have agency over.

And yes, nthing that you should see more than one therapist, it may take a while to find a good match.
posted by bilabial at 5:57 PM on September 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Four out of a lot more than four. I can tell very quickly, so I rarely get involved and mostly nobody gets hurt. If I had a choice, my favourite ever was a six foot tall Polish lesbian who was touring the world with her girlfriend, they were totally in love, and she introduced herself by grabbing me and kissing me because she just decided that I needed it. Only name in my phone with a little heart beside it. I've totally appreciated some very beautiful people.

smoke: you're right, I've been avoiding people more than necessary out of fear of rejection. Good call. My best friend, as of right now, is a prostitute I've seen twice. She lives on the next street and I've been thinking about inviting her around to take drugs and watch cartoons.

jnnla: I'm not American so I have no problem being fucked up and not blending in. Narcissistic and social skills problems, yes, and surely more besides. I don't need to be fixed, I just want to be happy.
posted by fraac at 5:58 PM on September 16, 2011

"Ok, I'll take the bait on this one. Women do not exist to "make you feel" anything."

No, but surely that's a reasonable way to tell them apart?
posted by fraac at 6:00 PM on September 16, 2011

I thought the rest of my response was clear, but on re-reading it I realize that I am more tired than I thought.

This may sound like semantics, but there is a real difference between the following two sentences:

"she makes me feel relaxed"

"I am relaxed when I am near her"

Depending on other people to bolster/regulate/etc your moods is a recipe for instability. It's not the basis for healthy relationships.

Deciding that a person "makes you feel" some way puts the blame (or credit) for your emotions outside yourself.

This is generally considered an unhealthy belief system. Please address it before moving forward toward marriage.
posted by bilabial at 6:24 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, right. Yeah, that was just word choice. How I feel around someone totally depends on who they are but I don't judge them for it, just observe. I blame no one but myself.
posted by fraac at 6:31 PM on September 16, 2011

Your question and your subsequent answers are reminding me A LOT of a former friend of mine. He's 37, still single, but when he does date he's still dating much younger women. Usually they're about 24, but his preferred age range is 19-22.

He likes them very small, very thin, very young, and smart but very naive. This is his preferred type, because they don't have much life experience, and he can play the wise worldly older man who can show her all the hidden beauty and splendor this world has to offer. It takes a couple of years for them to realize that dating someone who controls every aspect of your life* is the opposite of fun and romantic, and that his idea of showing them the hidden beauty and splendor of the world extends no further than making them watch his favorite movies and tv shows and read his favorite books, which all come with extensive lectures from him on why his favorite things are awesome and anyone who doesn't like them is just too dumb to understand them the way he does, and doesn't she want to be smart and worldly like him?

He tends to separate the women in his life into two groups: the ones he dates, who fit the very definite type I mentioned above, and the ones he's friends with, who he regards as totally asexual beings. The women that he's friends with also tend to be smart and a bit naive, but otherwise they're much closer to his age, and they're not as childlike in body**.

He had a pretty terrible childhood and had to undergo court-ordered therapy as a teenager after he put his fist through a sliding glass door when his then-girlfriend told him she didn't want to see him anymore -- he's very proud of the "fact" that the counselor he had to see seemed to be afraid of him. When I asked him why he thought the counselor was afraid of him, he told me it was because he was obviously so much more intelligent than the counselor, that the guy must have been intimidated by his brilliance and knew that trying to help him would only reveal his own inadequacies, and also he was so strong and handsome as a youth that obviously the counselor was envious of his virility and strength, and was trying to assert dominance over what he "rightly" saw as a true alpha male/evil genius. (Yes, I rolled my eyes at that. Hello, walking textbook picture of a megalomaniac!)

I am not saying that you are exactly like this guy. I just see a lot of similarities between what you've said here, and what I know of this former friend. I think the thing that would have helped him the most would have been extensive therapy, with or without meds. The meds issue is something that's different for everyone, you might benefit from them and you might not, but that's an issue to work on with your doctor or a psychiatrist. What you need most is talk therapy, to drill down into why you separate women into one of two categories, why you only have sex with women whose personalities you don't like and why you're not sexually attracted to the women whose personalities you do like, why you keep comparing yourself to Jesus (dude, that's weird, seriously), and on and on and on.

You really, really should not be dating or fucking anyone at all (even that super nice prostitute, because guess what, she's a human being who deserves respect, which you do not offer to your sexual partners at all) until you get some therapy. Seriously. Until then, you're just a ticking time bomb that's going to go *kaboom* and do serious damage to the people around you. You'll marry some poor woman and ruin her life because you don't actually care enough about other people to treat them well. If you have children with that woman, they'll likely grow up hating you and having extremely painful love lives because the only model they'll have to learn from is you, and the you that exists right now is seriously emotionally damaged and needs attention from trained professionals. That's a lousy thing to do to a child -- you're in a position to completely avoid being a textbook crappy father and crappy husband by doing some work on yourself, so do the work.

I hope you take the advice here seriously, and that you do get some help from a therapist. Only you have the power to make changes in your life. You can't expect another human being to come along and fill the void in you. If you expect your life partner to be some awesome, amazing woman, you have to be putting the same things on the table, because what awesome, amazing woman is going to settle for what you have to offer in your current state? You have to be whole to attract whole people -- so do the work.

Good luck.

*He controls how his girlfriends dress, wear their hair, what cosmetics they can use, who they can socialize with and when... they're never allowed to have any male friends, even gay men, because he doesn't trust other men -- this is because when he's single, he sleeps with women who are cheating on boyfriends or husbands. He doesn't allow his girlfriends to wear nail polish because he thinks it makes their hands "look dead", he prefers dyed hair because he thinks most natural hair colors make ladies "look dead", he doesn't like his girlfriends to wear makeup because it's "slutty" although when he's cuckolding other dudes, he goes for the most made-up women possible. He controls what they eat, because he prefers being able to see their ribs when they move.

**Let's just say that based on his taste in women, his taste in questionable porn, and his habit of flirting very heavily with a mutual friend's pre-teen cousins, my spidey sense tingles like whoa. Add in the fact that none of our mutual friends will let him be alone with their daughters, and... yeah. I think you understand my meaning here, and if you don't, I'll be blunt: If he's not a pedophile, he's doing a great impression of one.

posted by palomar at 6:50 PM on September 16, 2011 [15 favorites]

[OP, this is not the place for a debate. You need to dial it back quite a bit. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:19 PM on September 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

fraac, I sure don't think you're a huge jerk for wondering this. Not in the least. Hell, I bet many people on this very thread--men and women--have wondered the same thing at some point. This is human nature. It may not be PC to admit it, it may not be progressive, but wanting to screw one person and make dinner with another is a familiar feeling to many, many adults. It doesn't mean you think of women as objects. Jesus! It's not unlike saying, "well, I (fraac) have two close male friends--one is from childhood and we sit around and shoot the bull, and the other was my college roommate who really helped me out when I was struggling with life problem X." Does that mean you think of men as objects? Of course not.

Maybe it means monogamy is not for you. I don't know--sure not an expert there.

I won't insult you by saying "oh, you just haven't met the right person," but maybe try to keep reminding yourself that the girl, or girls, COULD be out there, as the tagline to an 80s lesbian movie goes. Try not to give up totally even if you don't have much hope day-to-day.

Perhaps there is a female friend, really just a friend, no tension there, no history, to whom you could talk about this? Of course women sometimes feel this way about guys.

Also, 34 is not long in the tooth for a guy. You could struggle with it for another 10 years and then settle down with a whole slew of women in their 40s.

All the best! Hang in there.
posted by skbw at 10:02 PM on September 16, 2011

Also. I am going through one of these Class A human relations things myself, not this particular problem, but, you know, similar on the "how fundamental is it?" scale. I've been blessed with friends to lean on, and they have helped me, and I've solicited advice, and gotten a lot of good ideas. BUT BUT BUT. Even my closest friends, most familiar with my situation, the ones who are not petty or mean--even in the best case, their advice usually says as much about their own struggles as it does about my particular case. Even the best-intentioned people are going to defend their own choices, more or less consciously. So take it all with a grain of salt.

And, for God's sake, don't marry some girl who doesn't turn you on just because you're lonely! Fortunately, there's one mistake I haven't made.
posted by skbw at 10:20 PM on September 16, 2011

skbw, all due respect, there's a pretty big difference between the example you present ("my childhood friend and I do XYZ, but my college pal is more helpful with ABC") and what fraac presented as his problem ("I don't have any feelings for the kind of women that I end up wanting to have sex with and I end up upsetting them when I forget to pretend that I care about them when we're done having sex, and the women I DO have any kind of feeling for are women I find sexually repulsive"). To boot, he believes that his two-category division of the entire female gender is hardwired in him from childhood and cannot be changed.

When someone has the belief that all members of the opposite gender are either fuckable bores that are only good for sex, or ego-boosting asexual sidekicks, then yes, they do think of that gender as objects.

(please note that I am using the same words fraac has used to describe his problem and his feelings about the roles of women in his life.)
posted by palomar at 10:42 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Well, yes, I read all that, too, but it doesn't cost anything to give him the benefit of the doubt. Why, yes, he could be a complete nutcase, or he could just be a normal guy with a tendency to bombast. Enough people presumed the former, I decided to presume the latter.
posted by skbw at 10:50 PM on September 16, 2011

I'm not calling him a nutcase. I'm saying that from the way he describes the women in his life and how he feels about them, he does think of them as objects, and thinking of women as objects is not helpful when you're trying to land a wife.

It's nice that you are giving him the benefit of the doubt, but you're kind of wrong when you say it doesn't cost anything. It'll cost fraac if he decides, hey, nothing wrong with thinking of women as either saints or sluts, no other options. It'll cost the women in his life. I know it's probably hard to think of it like that, but come on -- the guy is here asking for advice about which girl to marry, the girl he really doesn't like but likes banging, or the girl he likes but would rather die than bang. He really is asking for help with planning his future, and pretending like there's not some questions raised by the way he talks about the women already in his life doesn't feel like the right thing to do.

(And just because I'm concerned by how someone views women, that doesn't mean I am calling them a bad person, or a "complete nutcase", so hopefully that wasn't being implied.)
posted by palomar at 11:10 PM on September 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

So for what it's worth, I'm not usually inclined to pop into AskMe threads all "YOU NEED THERAPY." But reading the conversation in this thread, I feel like yeah, in fact, therapy would be good for you. Not even like you need therapy, but like you'd probably get what you wanted out of it and maybe even enjoy it if you found the right therapist. It sounds like you're interested in introspection and self-examination, and you're looking to have a really in-depth back-and-forth conversation where you can lay out all the details of your worldview, and examine them, and sort of figure out how they all fit together and how to live a good happy life that's compatible with them. And this is unfortunately not the right venue for it, but therapy could be the right venue for it.

Maybe I'm projecting here. You remind me a lot of how I was five or ten years ago. I had a lot of complicated ideas about how the world works, and how people work, and what I needed and wanted out of life, and what my options were — and all of the ideas, taken individually, seemed pretty sound, but taken all together, the conclusion they led to was "Fuck me, it's just hopeless, there's no way at all to make this work, I'm just gonna be lonely and miserable forever." Looking back now, I can see that most of those ideas were accurate and useful — hell, some of them were even pretty damn clever — but that a few of them were inaccurate in subtle ways. And it was only once I sniffed out the inaccurate ones, and figured out how they were leading me astray, that I started realizing shit wasn't all that hopeless and I actually did have a decent shot at happiness.

Therapy helped a lot with that. It doesn't have to be about diagnostic labels or "fixing" you or fitting you into a particular mold. Done right, it can be more like applied philosophy. Basically I got to spend an hour a week explaining my beliefs, and sorting through them, and working out which were true and which were false. And if your goal is happiness, that turns out to be a useful thing to do, because clinging to false beliefs can make you seriously miserable.

A lot of people here are telling you "Dude, you have some fucked-up ideas about women." And maybe you do. It sounds to me like there's something tangled-up or ever so slightly not-quite-right in the way you're looking at other people, or at love, or at sex, or something. But okay, people are complicated, and ideas are complicated, and figuring out where exactly you've gotten yourself tangled up is kind of a big job. Probably none of us will be able to pinpoint the precise source of the problem for you, because we don't know you at all and we don't have time to spend thinking about your situation. Which is where therapy comes in. A good therapist, one who actually gives a shit and takes the time to get to know you, will be able to help you get yourself untangled again.

So for real, think about it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:17 PM on September 16, 2011 [9 favorites]

I don't need to be fixed, I just want to be happy.

Sometimes "how you are" and "what you want" are separated by the divide called "what other people will put up with."

If there is something off-putting about you (and from reading your contributions to this thread, I can see that being a possibility) many women will avoid you. This is something that can only be resolved by a) waiting it out until you find a woman who you like who also appreciates you as you are or b) fixing those aspects of your personality that are off-putting.
posted by crankylex at 12:05 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I thought about it all night and lack of respect is definitely not the problem. If I were to characterise how I deal with people I'd say I treat everyone as an individual: most everyone who doesn't lie to themselves and require manipulating, which I can't be bothered with, tends to adore me. When I said almost nobody makes me feel anything that didn't mean to imply I was angry with them for that, in fact I'm very accepting of it, and I only realised I could feel anything around people about three years ago. My honesty can be triggering though, which would be more appropriate in a controlled environment.

Topic solved. Cheers all!
posted by fraac at 3:26 AM on September 17, 2011

Okay... I'm going to answer your question by staying within your very narrow boundaries, but not before I first say,

a) Therapy. No question.


b) Forget about "marriage." Sometime... not now. If you are thinking marriage because you think you might miss something by not having kids, well, go ahead and miss something. Do not create a tragedy out of what is currently just a couple of crossed psychic wires.


That said, here's your answer: the girl you like to have sex with. Not the current one, probably, but one from this half of your female dichotomy. Drop the other group (we'll call it group B), completely drop. Don't spend your emotional and mental currency on group B, then go and relieve your physical needs with group A.

Focus only on Group A (sex: want), and be emotionally celibate with any Group B thing. No Group B at all; cut them out. You're some kind of demon-zen wizard, right? You can do this.

Unless you're terminally damaged, you will be forced to recognize that Group A (sex: want), is not some otherwise featureless kaleidoscope of cooch and boobies. You are going to have to admit the discovery of humor, talent, tenderness, intelligence, honor, whimsy, vulnerability, strength... because it's all there in Sex: Want; you've just been delimiting the parameters to make sure your peas don't touch your potatoes.

Without Group B to take up the slack, your Group A is going to begin to define itself differently. So, in your search for a relationship, stick to Group A/Sex: Want. Yes. (look, you came here to ask the question. this is the right answer. Group A won't actually change that much, but you will, if you're lucky.)


Finally, the whole therapist afraid/in awe of you thing? yeah, yeah, yeah. That puts you in a "type," brother. My ex was that type, too. Yes, he was smart and charismatic and shit, but that getting over on the therapist thing is kiddie junk, which he eventually recognized and deeply regretted that he had wasted resources that he had desperately needed for so long with that bullshit. He turned out to be bipolar... I don't know about you, but find a therapist you respect and stop playing Jesus/Manson ego-stroking games... it's melodramatic and pretty textbook banal.
posted by taz at 3:43 AM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

I actually went to a therapist, for the first time, a few weeks ago. Got the impression she was scared of me.

Try a male therapist.
posted by idiomatika at 5:00 AM on September 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Topic solved. Cheers all!

Well, that was easy. You know something, your question and follow-ups had a rather made-up quality to me, like you were imagining yourself as a character in a novel or a movie. I feel as if your problems are so bound up with your writing style that you may not have a personal problem at all-- more like a writing problem. If you could stop sort of stylizing your experience, you could just go ahead and live.
posted by BibiRose at 6:46 AM on September 17, 2011 [8 favorites]

Personally, I think all the 'you need therapy' suggestions are kind of lame. A therapist is going to put you into a fixed model they have and then try to 'fix' you for a fee. Perhaps I should see a therapist to get over this hangup of mine.
Anyhoos, your dilemma to me sounds like 'I really want to love, bond with and respect the person I'm currently fucking with abandon'. Pardon my French, but that's how it comes out to me.
My picture at the moment, based on what I've been reading, would be this. As bonding mammals, we're somewhat distinct from other mammals. We have a sexual mating system (hot sex) and a bonding system (love, care, nurturing) that are at cross-purposes. For most mammals, sex is a quick one-off before heading off into the woods. We have those same processes in us. On the other hand, bonding is a complex, sensitive system for us to create long-lasting relationships with our mates, children, family, friends and community. For me and for most people, finding support and love through bonding is one of the most important and fulfilling things that can happen in their lives IMHO.
This site has an interesting take on how to unite the two systems successfully in a relationship. I'm not saying the site's methodology is correct, only that it's an interesting look at this area that can inform the topic greatly.
I would also recommend reading this book "Sex at Dawn", about our evolutionary pattern as tribal foragers and how we're a lot more like bonobos and chimps in our essential sexual patterning than current social models will allow.
Does any of the above sound like an answer. It's not really. Since we can't really fuck our friends, neighbors and co-workers like we would like to (get over it), the question remains how we can live healthy lives with our bonded mates without driving ourselves and everyone else crazy with unrequited lust or acting out on primitive drives to procreate that screw up our lives in various ways.
Maybe this site has the answer. The question being how to have a deep, nurturing bond with your mate yet combine that with a fulfilling sex life that really works long term, like decades or a lifetime.
posted by diode at 6:54 AM on September 17, 2011

Hug, make fun of, have them adore me. It's a very little sister thing. But it feels really good, better than just about anything.

Yeah, not a good basis for marriage. What you're experiencing there sounds like sibling love, which is not IMO a healthy basis for marriage. Notice in there it's pretty one-sided: you hug them, you make fun of them, you're adored. Very much an imbalanced situation.

Here's how you should feel about the person you eventually marry:
  1. You find them sexually attractive and you enjoy being physical with them.
  2. You feel like their equal. You don't idolize them; they don't idolize you.
  3. There are things you do with them that you enjoy doing more with them than anyone else. This doesn't have to be sex, BTW. Maybe people might disagree with me on this point but I think it's important.
  4. You agree on the important things. What is important is different for everybody. For some people it might be religion; for others politics, etc. The key is if you really loathe their position on something you feel strongly about, it's going to make it difficult to have a peaceful relationship with them.

posted by Deathalicious at 7:08 AM on September 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

most everyone who doesn't lie to themselves and require manipulating, which I can't be bothered with, tends to adore me. When I said almost nobody makes me feel anything that didn't mean to imply I was angry with them for that, in fact I'm very accepting of it, and I only realised I could feel anything around people about three years ago. My honesty can be triggering though, which would be more appropriate in a controlled environment.

Okay, sorry, but I find these statements pretty disturbing. Does anyone else?

Look, if you only just figured out that you can feel anything around people 3 years ago, that means that you might just have to wait for a while before you meet that special someone, because for most people that happens earlier in their lifetime, and there are a lot of years of experience to go before you get to a point where you can have a healthy relationship if you're seriously that new to emotions and feelings.

Also, if your "honesty" is "triggering", that probably means you're saying things that upset or hurt other people, right? You say you want to be happy: I remember reading a phrase somewhere that said something along the lines of "You can be right, or you can be happy, which do you choose?" Marriage is very much about letting go of being "right" (something I still struggle with) and accepting that sometimes even when you feel there's an objective truth out there, to just let it go for the sake of harmony with other humans. Even then, there are plenty of people I know who I would characterize as extremely honest who have somehow managed to never hurt other people's feelings. So it's possible to have "honesty" without it being triggering.

And if seriously everyone adores you that is a problem because to a large extent, forming lasting relationships is about stripping away all that and being vulnerable and imperfect.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:19 AM on September 17, 2011 [7 favorites]

"You know something, your question and follow-ups had a rather made-up quality to me, like you were imagining yourself as a character in a novel or a movie."

I always like to sound plausible.

The thing with the little sister types is they're the only people with whom conversations make any sense, except for a with a couple of male friends who were psychopaths. Making sense is a big deal. Most people are afraid to look me in the eye and I have to pretty much deal with everyone, like in the relationship it's my job to have things make sense. Hugging, making fun of and adoring go both ways - it's totally perfect except I have no inclination to throw them on a bed.

I get into weird situations where everyone around except the girl believe that something is going on, and we believe something else is going on, and there's this freaky confusion that I've never seen depicted in film or television or been described by anyone else. I think it's people needing the animal power hierarchy to make sense of things, and me and the girl just wanting everyone to be friends. People are such fucked up animals.
posted by fraac at 7:36 AM on September 17, 2011

Your main problem is that you're addicted to drama and in love with the idea that you're so complex and unusual that, try as you might, you can't avoid this drama. Everyone loves you too much! You're a magnetic Charles Manson! You can manipulate anyone but you don't want to bother! You avoid everyone because all you can do is cause pain! Oh, brother. You don't need to be asking about women. You have so much more to sort out.
posted by pineappleheart at 8:05 AM on September 17, 2011 [10 favorites]

Hi fraac, Just wanted to say you're not alone in a LOT of what you mention in your post. No, I'm not exactly like you, but I scare therapists too. I find I end up babying their feelings instead of getting real help. And I really, really need some help, but it's almost killing me trying to find it from the monkeys out there. I am trying to fit in to society, to survive, but the harder I try, the deeper I dig myself. I've come to accept that I'm not meant to fit into a "normal" life or be with a "normal" person.

I don't know what you've lived through or where you've come from, but I can sense this: what you've survived enabled you to have a sharper understanding of how ugly the real world can be than most people. It's exhausting. It can be terrifying. It can be downright fucking depressing because it feels like only YOU can see how wreckless this world really is with the most fragile of things... like love, being happy, relaxed, and carefree. It's just icing on the cake when you try to find someone to relate on this, and get deflected/minimized as too dark/negative/morbid/whatever. There aren't enough pretty flowers and butterflies in the world to cover up what's so easy for me to see, and so easy for others to tune out.

The advice I want to share is this: find a way to honor your own personal truth. Find a way -- with a therapist, in group therapy, books, online research, whatever it takes in a healthy way if possible. Find a way to realize what you survived without minimizing ANY of it. Why?

I keep finding myself in situations where I'm either upsetting someone I've had a seriously enjoyable hour with by forgetting to act like I care, or having slipped into sex with a best friend/little sister type I can't unscramble that egg and have to keep... whisking her. Both end badly because I'm an idiot. I can't keep doing this. It's time to pick.

You're slipping into sex with little sister types because they ARE more relaxing for you to be around, and that's because they connect with the little brother in YOU -- basically, your inner child. Your inner fraac who, because of what you had to endure from early in childhood, had to be split away and hidden because he learned VERY EARLY ON that expressing himself AS HE WAS was going to lead to BAD.

People jumping all over the Madonna/whore complex are blowing this out of proportion. It's not about the double standard in society; it's about the split in you. It's about how you were taught/trained/beaten into believing that REAL YOU and ACCEPTABLE/"LOVABLE" YOU had to be two completely different things. One part is trying to play normal (but is genuinely disinterested in what ends up being meaningless interaction), while the other part is reacting to the genuine affection felt in immature relationships with little sister types, who accept the REAL YOU as you are. That's the piece that's missing -- it doesn't matter how old you are, you still have never felt like the REAL YOU was acceptable. And now you're getting older, less attractive, and validating that REAL YOU is getting harder and more hopeless. Hence, the secure promise of companionship in marriage...

Try to see past the false dichotomy; it's not about one girl or the other but about choosing YOU. Giving yourself the chance to discover what DO YOU ACTUALLY LIKE? Give that inner fraac a real chance to learn and appreciate his own gifts before putting all that power in the hands of some girl/woman/person. Give yourself a chance to realize your own awesomeness; define your own awesomeness. And let yourself grieve the time sorely wasted. Best of luck!
posted by human ecologist at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Look, you're not scaring therapists. You want to believe you are because for some reason you think you're more tortured and intense and intelligent than anyone else, but I can assure you that those of us who work in the mental health field see much, much worse than narcissists who say silly, ominous, vague things like "I haven't killed anyone . . . yet." Seriously, men. Please stop imagining your therapists are afraid of you. They're really not. Such fantasies do confirm, however, that you either want to be scary or that you have a really hard time gauging others' reactions to you. This reinforces the idea that you NEED THERAPY.
posted by pineappleheart at 1:54 PM on September 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

I met one therapist, she was scared of me. I sensed she wasn't the kind of person who reads me well so I pondered whether training alone would suffice. At one point I was staring at a jug of water for ten seconds hoping to be offered some, then I just asked for it, and her assent betrayed unmistakeable fear. Plus the fact she ignored my emails afterwards. Way I see it, therapists are people and most people can't deal with me, so whatever.

I'm kinda freakishly self-aware so if I say something is happening it's usually happening unless I use a qualifier like 'probably', then it's usually probably happening. I'm not boasting she was scared of me, it felt horrible. I hadn't spoken to anyone in months and some acceptance would've been nice.

I think if you can't accept - not believe, just accept - someone's version of events then it helps no one to say that. A lot of people can't understand me and fill in the blanks. I'd rather they just asked. Human ecologist lucked out with an obviously similar background.
posted by fraac at 2:28 PM on September 17, 2011

Well, for what it's worth, I believe you; perhaps my only critique on anyone's thought-through self-perception would be to say that our underlying axioms may explain reality very well but may not be the only or the most helpful ways to explain that reality (or to communicate it to others). I'm a little suspicious of the idea-- so popular among a certain cultural group-- of 'drama'. On the one hand, I see where it comes from-- I too am emotionally conservative in many ways-- but it's a version of the 'tall poppy' syndrome, where we downplay the extremes in behavior and emotional make-up because we don't like to think that these extremes really exist. Most people avoid others that are either too different or those with issues too in-depth; I once read an article that really struck me about sociopaths, which basically said a lot of their anger and manipulativeness comes from the necessity of 'playing' for people to be heard at all. I can well believe the psychologist was scared; this may even be especially likely of psychically sensitive individuals who perceive you just a bit better, who knows. I do think that there are tougher psychologists out there, of course.

In any case, even without having similar experiences, I feel that human ecologist is on the right track: it's about a dichotomy in you, not them. This is basically the source of most false dichotomies: they're tricky and hard to get away from even for highly self-aware individuals (such as yourself), because they underlie the very foundations of your adult consciousness, being formed so early in childhood. It's a bit like chasing your own tail: you may perceive yourself as is, but how do you perceive beyond yourself, where the 'truth' is that you'd ideally want to guide you? Mere perception doesn't guarantee truth; it just means you have a clear view of inner appearance. It even means you may be a little more stuck than those less perceptive; I've found this to be the case (being highly self-aware). The more vividly self-aware you are, the more you are fooled into believing perception is fixed reality. All it is, however, is perception.

Following up on the idea of 'little sister' corresponding to the younger inner self, this explains why you can't mentally sexualize them or progress; that would (on some level) be a self-violation and a sort of desecration of a refuge. Thinking about this, it seems clear that it's an inner projection rather than 'reality'. You may be living this reality subjectively, but simply because someone slots into place in your inner drama doesn't mean they are, say, your little sister. We're talking about some serious blocks between your emotional/younger and adult self, and between the self and the Other, especially considering what you said about not feeling a lot for people until recently. The definition of blocks, especially ones related to trauma, means that no amount of self-awareness would be 'enough' to transcend them, and like I said, your very confidence in your perception makes you more stuck then.

The thing that I guess I wanted to say is that age isn't really an issue, so you don't need to 'hurry'-- in fact, love gets better with age, as people mellow & work out their issues more. Besides the false dichotomy inside/outside you, I wanted to say that once you're 'better', once you feel ok, adoration won't seem like a good thing anymore. A mature relationship doesn't involve adoration. Purity and intensity in romantic love isn't the same as a child's adoration-- in an adult relationship, it's more complex, I dunno, like an aged wine. I myself find guys talking about adoration to be a turn-off (when I read personal ads, say), because it implies a simplistic view of love. The end-result (I think) is somewhat bitter love-- compromised, battered, impure. Sort of deliciously compromised with reason, experience, compromise, acknowledgment of limitations and mortality and need and inadequacy. That's what makes it-- finally-- suited to who you are, once you're an adult. That's why it's not tainting it to, well, do dirty things with that person and have those things not be dirty at all. All these people were talking about 'respect', but in America, at least, 'respect' is too pure a thing, and you do seem to 'respect' people in a certain way, yes. I think 'respect' is looking someone in the eye and not flinching, even though you see their ugliness, because you understand them. You see the path they took, and you acknowledge it was necessary. That's respect. You trust their judgment as you'd expect them to trust yours. That's rare, of course; real respect is pretty rare.

Anyway, it's a hard thing, I get that. When I read stories with male protagonists who have a similar problem-- this instinctive desire not to 'taint' some women, a carelessness in using others sexually-- I got so frustrated. I always wished they could understand, not that women are more complex in general, but that this one woman being put (and putting them) on a pedestal is more complex. No one is pure, and that's ok. Ugliness is at the heart of every pearl; the beauty is the beast. I always wanted to shake that protagonist and make him see that, and then-- I imagined-- in accepting himself, he could finally accept her, and they could have dirty monkey sex and happily ever after. Well, this is my dream, but I think it's possible, especially if you're Jesus, right?
posted by reenka at 10:33 PM on September 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

most everyone who doesn't lie to themselves and require manipulating, which I can't be bothered with, tends to adore me

I just wanted to say that this is one of the most strange things I've read. I'm a pretty likable person, but some people don't like me, and those people have their own, perfectly valid reasons (personality clash, unpleasant behavior on my part, general misanthropy, etc) that I might disagree with, but they aren't lying to themselves. Also, how can most people tend to adore you if "... most people can't deal with me"? You spend a lot of time assigning motivations to other people (like your therapist) and I'm sure you believe whatever stories you come up with with all your heart, but that doesn't make them true.

You've talked about the little sister type relationship, but I'm interested in the women that you enjoyed sexually - what did you enjoy about them? How did your personalities not click?

I'm kinda freakishly self-aware ...

It sounds like you are dealing with depression/anxiety - and depression doesn't always mean moping around all the time, and it seems like you are externalizing a lot of your emotions on other people. Right now, other people have to change in order for you to obtain happiness. I think therapy, with a therapist you feel comfortable with, could be a great help to you. You're not broken, but sometimes it helps to have an impartial outside observer to help you get back to a place where you can pick up the path that will lead you to happy.
posted by fermezporte at 12:52 PM on September 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Those mosts don't conflict. I absorb energy from people around me. They project usually their demons onto me, or sometimes nothing (the sexy ones), but my favourites just really want to play.

What I liked was partly physical and partly that they didn't mind me initially and outright liked me after we had sex. We just had a good rhythm and it was all nice, y'know. No sharp edges. Rare for me to meet people whose issues don't flare up near me. But no spark in their eyes, no eagerness to understand everyone around them, generally content. If I had to guess I'd say the ones who make me feel things were exposed to violence and dealt with it in a way smart, cute girls do to avoid becoming victims.
posted by fraac at 1:57 AM on September 19, 2011

I don't know what you've lived through or where you've come from, but I can sense this: what you've survived enabled you to have a sharper understanding of how ugly the real world can be than most people

It's interesting that you marked this as best answer because it would really describe the person that you had started to remind me of. Scary to some, very sensitive (and in some ways very sweet and loving), he had been abused as a child and then got out through situations that brought him in touch with a bunch of nasty types (criminals, etc.). He referred to himself as "an emotional vampire" which to me resonates with your "I absorb energy from the people around me." He wouldn't see a therapist because he didn't want them to "find out what/who he really was."

So I think your issues are very different from gender stereotyping and objectifying women. I believe you when you say you're good at reading people because he was excellent. In some cases, he used his ability there to give someone exactly what they needed. But I felt bad for him because it never seemed like he saw those details through a "we're all in this together" lens. He mostly interpreted it through a him vs. the world lens: what did they want from him? how did they see him? were they a threat? were they the one who saw what an outlier he was? He also had a strong desire to protect the weaker members of society from the bad forces out there.

I really hoped he'd get help. When coupled with greater self-awareness all of his strengths could have gone further, been less frightening to others, and been less burdensome and isolating to him. He could have relaxed a bit more.

Anyway, there are a lot of therapists out there, and not every one is going to be afraid of you. But you're not just, e.g., someone having trouble grieving the loss of a pet. Find someone who specializes in tougher cases, maybe by asking for referrals from the fearful ones.

On whether things can change, yeah, from my own experience, I believe they can. Just your own awareness can make subtle but significant shifts in the patterns. It's interesting (even telling?) that you haven't described the women you want to have sex with. You're so aware of dynamics: what's that attraction about?

Anyway, I throw out a lot of details about this old friend, not knowing which apply to you. The thing about him was that he stopped feeling like a typical life was possible for him, and turned to alcohol and perpetual international travel. Things definitely took a turn for the worse for him. I'm not trying to scare you (and suspect that trying to would lead to the opposite effect of what I want to accomplish here). Good luck.
posted by salvia at 9:51 AM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was about to sell my flat and travel. Seemed the only thing left to do. Winters are getting colder.

The sexy ones... I dunno, it's weird, I can't get a read on them. My first girlfriend was like that, and after five years we admitted we didn't know each other. The only common factor is we both really enjoy sex, there's no game being played at the time (why I feel nothing the rest of the time?). Heck if I know what that means. Maybe they're just my 'type' and they like that I'm into them.

I'm all about "we're all in it together". I believe the best way to make people safe is with parties. Turns out if you don't respect the social hierarchies it makes a lot of people really angry; they have a lot invested in everyone knowing their place. I actually got fired from a voluntary job because the manager was terrified of my universal friendliness.(to which half the people above reply "Huh? No that doesn't make sense. It must have happened like this...")
posted by fraac at 11:41 AM on September 19, 2011

I'm all about "we're all in it together". I believe the best way to make people safe is with parties. Turns out if you don't respect the social hierarchies it makes a lot of people really angry; they have a lot invested in everyone knowing their place. I actually got fired from a voluntary job because the manager was terrified of my universal friendliness.(to which half the people above reply "Huh? No that doesn't make sense. It must have happened like this...")

Boy, you sure encounter very odd people!
posted by Deathalicious at 1:07 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Based on the responses you've given us in this thread -- and the last answer you just gave -- I'd wager that the biggest reason why you "didn't really know" your first girlfriend after five years was because you were really, really, REALLY focused on trying to examine the relationship instead of just....HAVING it.

Throughout this thread you have been so focused on trying to identify and diagnose whatever syndrome, root cause, sociological theory, or what have you that would "fit" your situation that I think you're overlooking what's actually in front of you. You started out asking us whether you should marry Girl A or Girl B, then shifted to whether your therapist would be able to "rewire you" or whether it was "deep-rooted like pedophilia", and you've been at that kind of kind of approach with all your answers, it feels like. Even with your most recent answer, you're thinking about whether you and your last girlfriend were "playing games' and about how "social hierarchies" can "make people feel safe at parties".

Dude, stop trying to diagnose yourself and just have fun at the damn party/enjoy the relationship/give up on the therapist if they're not working/JUST FREAKIN' BE. If you spend your whole time trying to figure out what label fits your situation, you'll miss out on the uniqueness of the situation -- and that's where your real "getting to know other people" lies.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

You know, here's another thing. Most people have more than one role they like to play. In a really good relationship, you each get to play more than one role. And I think you're overlooking that.

My girlfriend acts like the little sister I never had — sometimes. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. Not when there's some sort of crisis, or when there's work that needs to get done, or when we're gettin' nekkid. But sometimes, yeah, I get to tease her and give her advice and/or noogies and she gets to admire me and/or stick her finger in my ear, and it's all good.

It sounds like you're sort of doing this all-or-nothing thing. Like, there are Sexy Girlfriend Types and Little Sister Types, and it's just utterly inconceivable that one woman could go back and forth between those two archetypes as the situation demands. If the world were really like that, then yeah, that would be pretty frustrating. I don't think I'd be happy with a 100% full-time Sexy Girlfriend Type or a 100% full-time Little Sister Type or a 100% full-time anything-type, because doing anything 100% of the time is boring as fuck. But dude, the world is not like that. There are umpteen gajillion roles, and people switch back and forth between them all the damn time, and the better you get to know someone, the more roles you get to see them in.

Look at it this way. You've told us that you can be a Sexy Boyfriend Type around some women, and a Big Brother Type around others. So you know that you can play more than one role. Well, if you can be flexible like that, then why not believe that a woman could be just as flexible?
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:09 PM on September 20, 2011 [7 favorites]

[fraac, you really need to treat this less like a chatroom and more like a question-answering resource. Please ditch the chatty stuff, if you have something additional you need to clarify at this point that's fine but other than that once you've asked your question that's mostly all you should be doing in the thread.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:15 PM on September 20, 2011

Ok, no idea if you're still checking this, but I just thought it might help to check out resources on the Enneagram Eight type-- you really seem like a classic case. It's work joining the website temporarily to see some of the extra info available, as well. It may be helpful to check out some of the relationship dynamics of the Eight with the other types to see if something clicks. Enneagram stuff provides a framework for personal growth that doesn't depend on psychologists, which you may find helpful.
posted by reenka at 9:52 PM on September 23, 2011

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