Decade-long dry streak.
September 24, 2012 1:30 PM   Subscribe

This is a very difficult and embarrassing question to write. So please be kind. But essentially, I have been (involuntarily) celibate for many many years and it’s driving me CRAZY. How can I stop this decade-long dry streak? And if I can’t, how can I learn to make peace with it?

I am a straight woman. I have been living like a nun for about ten years. I am 30 this month and all my feelings about being alone are sort of coming to a head at the moment with the result that sex is basically all I think about. I have been happy enough all this time but lately all I can think about is how lonely I am and how much I would like to be touched. I do touch myself - like it’s my job - but lately that too has lost its savour. I feel empty and pissed-off before, during and after.

I used to think I was holding out for a relationship, the perfect husband and 2.4 children, but lately my desires have grown humbler and humbler and basically right now all I would really like is some good sex with a person I like. I just don’t really know anyone like that - not that I don’t like anyone but everyone is either in a relationship or not attractive to me. And I just don’t even know what I would do if I met someone I was interested in, I have no game at all. I can only be myself with everyone, and while I am popular and have many friends of both sexes, I am obviously really bad at selling myself in a romantic or sexual way because I never, never get any offers.

I have some major hang-ups re: online dating - basically, I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment.

With my friends, many of them are in the same position as me really so I can’t really ask them to set me up with people - and again, I find this entire thing so mortifying I am not comfortable with trying to be ‘set up’ at all.

I am reasonably attractive, am overweight but carry it well, dress well, am confident, cheerful, and very independent. I’m not super, super attractive but I’m not repellant either. I am a good person. I think what annoys me most about this situation is that I really feel like I deserve to be happy, and I am not.

I guess my question is twofold:
(1) I don’t want to be doomed to be celibate forever, it sucks. How can I make sure I’m sending out the right signals (without feeling like an idiot)? Is online dating really my only option?
(2) How can I be happier with being celibate forever? If that really is my future, how can I cope without my biology literally going haywire through lack of what it needs?

This is the first time I'm putting these feelings into words so apologies if this question is a bit all over the place.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

Care to explain exactly what it is you have against online dating? I think it is rather unusual to have such a strong opinion about it, and I feel your response might be illuminating.
posted by blue t-shirt at 1:33 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Online dating is your best option. My advice is to work on overcoming your aversion to it.
posted by rocket88 at 1:35 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have some major hang-ups re: online dating - basically, I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment.

Well, get over it. This is your best and easiest route.
posted by desjardins at 1:37 PM on September 24, 2012 [21 favorites]

Right, that bit jumped out at me too. Look, if nothing else, you can set your profile on most sites to only be visible to logged-in users, and then anyone who finds out you have an account?... well, THEY'VE got one TOO, so how obnoxious could they really be about it?

But reading between the lines a bit it sounds like you don't want anyone to ever know that you're trying to meet someone, or interested in meeting someone, or open to the possibility, or whatever. Which, if that's the vibe you're projecting, you are gonna have some trouble meeting someone, you know?

There is a huge grey area between "nun-like" and "desperate-looking," and you're gonna have to somehow make your way out into that grey area at least a little bit if you want to make this happen. If not online dating, then getting out in public in some other way and acting like someone who's available and willing-to-flirt and etcetera. Online really is less intimidating than in person for most people, but whether you do it online or in person you've gotta do it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [17 favorites]

Seems like the simplest solution is to get over your hangups about online dating. Seriously - reasonably attractive 30 yr old woman seeks sex - you'll be spoilt for choice - high chances of finding someone you like, unless you're very picky

There is nothing shameful about online dating anymore, lots of people do it. Smart, attractive, professional people. Its not just for losers and basement dwellers these days.
posted by missmagenta at 1:41 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

It's TOTALLY not embarrassing to be single at 30! Maybe try to separate your "10 year dry spell" shame (honestly, I don't think you need to be ashamed of that either) from your singleness. Ask some of those people you like who are in relationships to set you up! They don't need to know that it's 10 years, not 10 months. That is your business.

I also think that 95% of people, by this point, either have dated online or know someone well who has. There is no stigma. It's just how you meet people.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:42 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I am popular and have many friends of both sexes

Pardon me for drawing on a stereotype, but one or more of your male friends are almost certainly itching to sleep with you, right as we speak. What kind of social things are y'all getting into? Is there any way to loosen things up a little? Even if you could just bring yourself to say something about hankering for some affection around even one of your group of friends, the message would get out.
posted by ftm at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Currently actually pissed off, feeling empty, vs. hypothetical "DIE of embarrassment". First, consider testing that theory. I have never seen "embarrassment" listed as a cause of death.

Second, if you are looking just for sex (as a hetero female), it isn't that hard to come by. Studies show that, unlike women, men typically say "yes" to no strings attached sex. How interesting does the person have to be if you are completely desperate? I am not trying to be mean. Just trying to say "Well, there's your problem". If you want sex, it can be had. If you want sex with a loong list of provisos, that gets trickier.

So boil it down to a shorter list of provisos and just get laid. You will learn something about how people work that out and then, armed with new knowledge, you can add a few provisos back in without it being a showstopper.
posted by Michele in California at 1:46 PM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

Stop giving a hoot about what others think, frankly you have no ideas what they have been up to themselves so no one is a position to judge you. Do what feels right to you. You do seem to have some issues in breaking through your obstacles, practice at that and let the chips drop. Try the online thing, accept your self as you are and go for it!
posted by pakora1 at 1:47 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

It sounds more as if you need to improve or restructure your social life; join clubs, take classes. Many people feel happier just meeting in a context where dating isn't explicitly the agenda, but local drama or singing or book clubs are surely full of reasonable men on the look out for people like you.

You do not need to do online dating, and if you don't like the idea it probably won't work for you.
posted by Segundus at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have some major hang-ups re: online dating - basically, I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment.

How would someone find out you were on OKCupid?

Because really, think about that for a moment.
posted by tel3path at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment.

Consider the possibility that your friends, family, coworkers, etc. might actually think more of you if they discovered you were using online dating sites to try and find happiness, as opposed to seeing that you are perennially unhappy yet refusing to take simple, common steps to improve your life.

To be honest, your question seems more appropriate for posting with a sock puppet rather than anonymously. You might consider dropping five bucks on a second (third/etc.) account so you can participate in the thread and clarify. Maybe there are specific reasons why you're averse to online dating, or specific concerns that you could be helped with.

More generally, a person who is thirty has plenty of options and opportunities for changing and improving her life. Thirty might seem old to a teenager but it often seems very, very young to people who are even only forty.
posted by cribcage at 1:48 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

Just get on the internet. Everyone's on OkCupid - the only people I make fun of re: OkCupid profiles are those with no faceshots because how embarrassing would it be for someone to see your online profile? OMG!

Unless you're a politician, celebrity, whatever - no one cares.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 1:51 PM on September 24, 2012

You're not getting sex because you're ashamed of wanting sex. How do I know you're ashamed of wanting sex? Because you would "DIE of embarrassment" if anyone you knew found out you were on OKCupid.

Get over your hangups about sex, my friend. Online dating doesn't work for everyone, but "I'd be embarrassed if anyone knew I was looking for dates" is a recipe for disaster.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:54 PM on September 24, 2012 [27 favorites]

"I have some major hang-ups re: online dating - basically, I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment."

One way to deal with this is to plan for this eventuality, make a plan on what to say, how to react, etc. This is really pretty generic advice for "I'm worried about if X happens". Even perhaps structure your profile around that (i.e., if you smoke weed or you would like your partner to scream "surrender dorothy" in the throws of lovemaking, maybe leave that ambiguous in your profile and then discuss it on a date).

Another strategy to use is to not post face pictures to avoid people casually recognizing you. Pictures like a backlit profile, shot of you looking over a bridge railing from behind, etc.

I'm not going to say that online dating is your best or only hope, but I will say: there are a lot of reasons that (sane, nice) guys will just not approach you in public venues for the purposes of dating or even casual sex (outside of going to a swingers club). This includes your male friends. Without a philosophical discourse interspersed, I think there are a lot of good reasons online dating is becoming a fixture of socialization in the 18-35 demographic.

Online dating is OK. It is very normal in your age group. It is getting more and more common and acceptable all the time and probably will continue to do so.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:55 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Let's analyze this logically:

1) You're not on OKcupid or a dating site
In other words, perhaps you lack the initiative to seek out what you want...?

2) You "have no game"
In other words, even when you like a guy, you don't express it. Yep, that definitely shows a lack of active agency.

These two facts suggest that you don't want to take the initiative in pursuing a man: rather, you want the man to pursue you. Well, that's not necessarily a problem. If there's a large difference in value (either objectively or subjectively) between a woman and her prospective lover, it makes logical sense that he would have to pursue her. Wait, what's this?

3) I’m not super, super attractive but I’m not repellant either.

4) I am 30 this month

That's... not exactly the kind of thing that makes guys say "Wow! What a catch! I must pursue her and win her over despite her apparent indifference!"

Look, speaking from the perspective of a reasonably charismatic single guy, I have plenty of options and I can afford to be picky. I mean, I'm not even that good-looking but I still get flirted with and go out on fairly successful dates with attractive women 8-10 years younger than me. There have also been occasions where I overlooked physical traits and dated women who are somewhat overweight, because I felt a strong emotional connection to them. However, if a woman wants to be actively pursued (the way you seem to), she better have a lot going for her. Why put in X units of effort for reward Y, when I could put in the same effort for something worth more? That's just common sense.

In short, my advice is either 1) Change your attitude and take the initiative to actively pursue men that you like, or 2) Improve your perceived desirability enough that they will want to actively pursue you. Without either of those two things happening, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:59 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd read Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns and do all of the exercises for at least a month.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on September 24, 2012

You're getting waaaaaaay too many negative responses here about your feelings about online dating. It's perfectly fine to not like online dating. Move on from that.

Not having sex is a symptom of the real problem, which is not being around enough people of the kind you'd like to get close to. What kinds of social circles do you run in? What hobbies do you have? How often do you go out into social venues, vs. staying at home?

You are not doomed to being celibate forever. Don't settle for that. You sound like a lovely and charming person. You say you have "no game at all" ... not possible. Everybody has game, just of a different sort.
posted by jbickers at 2:04 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

I think the people asking you to consider why you would die of embarrassment over OKC have it right. Why is it so embarrassing? It seems like it's because it's admitting you WANT a relationship, or at least sex. It seems to make you feel vulnerable to publicly admit you want it.

Sounds like you'd rather not discuss the topic than have someone know you'd prefer to be with someone.

Maybe your first question is to figure out why it's so shameful to want to be with someone, when it's something almost EVERYONE wants.
posted by namesarehard at 2:04 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Of course it's perfectly fine to not want to date online, but wanting to die of shame at the thought of it suggests there's more going on there.
posted by namesarehard at 2:05 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

A similar thing jumped out at me as did the other folks answering here - the hangups about online dating, the fear of your friends finding out about your profile, the unwillingness to ask your friends for setups because you're mortified of what they might think and this, this especially:

This is the first time I'm putting these feelings into words

Anon, would it be fair to say that you have some difficulty stating your needs directly? That perhaps you've put attached a lot of weight and shame to your dry spell, and that it compounds the more you think of it and the less you speak of it.

First of all, yes, online dating is utterly normal nowadays - boring, even. Those friends of yours that you fear the judgment of? I'd warrant that 1/2 minimum have profiles of their own. It's not even a thing anymore, honest. Some of the most stable, loving couples I'm aware of in my personal life came together online. Maybe it was odd and exotic at one point but that was a long time ago. It's nothing, nothing, nothing to get hung up about anymore. And you know what? In the unlikely event that a friend DID think less of you for setting up an online dating profile, then you could take that as rock-solid proof that this friend was a compassionless asshole and ho true friend at all!

BUT, my suspicion is that online dating isn't your real hangup - it's this thought that's gotten into you that your desires should not be voiced, that reaching for what you want out of life is somehow wrong and rude and unwelcome. Loneliness has a way of compounding itself, of telling the lonely that they deserve it and are outta line if they try to escape it. This affect grows stronger the longer it is allowed to continue - a person can get used to almost anything. But loneliness is lying to you, anon! Lying!

If you have good friends, they would see you happy - if you're not comfortable asking for a setup, you can at least talk to them about your hangups, what vibe you're putting out, that kinda stuff. Think of what you would say to a friend in pain who came to you with similar struggles - would you scorn them for their honesty and vulnerability? Would you think less of them for their basic human needs? If you're a decent person, the answer must be no and if your friends are actual friends, then they want to help you. They probably have some inkling that you're in pain, even if you don't open up about it - it would make them so happy to see you happy! Let them be friends to you.

But getting back to the issue of honesty - if my suspicion is correct and there's this thread of hiding your desires and needs in your life, of thinking of them as unworthy, then this is probably your biggest problem. I think a lot of lonely people make the mistake of thinking that someone who could dispell that loneliness is somehow doing them the favor, holding all the cards, running the whole table and it just isn't so. Love and sex are mutual delights, as far from zero sum games as anything can be when practiced with kindness and respect. Couplings can thrill both people involved - it's not like you bring nothing to the table, like there aren't any cards in your hand! The man who breaks this dry streak with you won't do so out of charity, he'll do so because he wants to have a fun bounce with a fun lady - with you!

You're someone worth having. You're someone to lose. You're worth touching and loving. Believe these things because you are human and they are true. If you open yourself to the world and make plain what you want from it, you might be surprised at the response you get. I've got a similar tendency to overthink and get down on myself, you see - but once I grew so frustrated with the poor results of that approach that I started Gordian knotting my way through all the timidness and self-reproach, the turnaround was almost instantaneous. And furthermore, once the scales had fallen from my eyes, I saw all the encounters and affairs that were possible right under my nose if only my timidness hadn't denied their possibility.

One final thing: A lot of straight women, sadly, have this idea that it's somehow improper for them to approach men and be open about their sexual needs - that it reflects poorly on them somehow or will put the fella off. Anon, this is leftover misogynist bullshit from a million fucking years ago and if there's any such stuff in your head then I urge you to purge it immediately. There's nothing hotter than a confident, self-assured woman who reaches for what she wants out of life. Make it plain to the next man who interests you that a good time with him is something you want out of life and I think you'll be delighted by what might follow.

Setup an OKC profile - it's a lot of fun! Talk to your friends - they love you and they want to see you happy. And be kind to yourself, most of all - understand that you have a lot to offer, then begin to offer it with confidence and joy.

Good luck to you. You posted this because you're ready for things to change and I suspect they soon will.
posted by EatTheWeek at 2:14 PM on September 24, 2012 [17 favorites]

So here's the problem. To have sex with people, you have to meet people. Most people do that through social connections (friends of friends and so forth), bars, churches, or any other random number of social gatherings. If they have no luck in the in-person methods of meeting other people, then many turn to online dating. You can not do any of these, but you do have to find some way to be in some sort of social setting that allows you to meet new people.

Do any of your female friends go out to bars or whatever? Do they do it with the intention of finding a "new friend"? If they do, could you tag along and observe, get pointers, or dive in the game yourself?

I have a dear friend who has been single a while, and she admits freely that it's because the only interaction she has with new people is at work, and she refuses to date people from work. Recently, she's started doing online dating a bit, but that was mainly because she feels that she's too old and too uncomfortable going out to bars to pick up dudes. Plus that's not her style.

I'm not trying to be harsh, but you have to meet people some way and if online dating isn't your thing, then find an alternative. Personally, I've never liked online dating and felt awkward doing it. I met my husband in a bar. In fact, I met all of my previous gentlemen friends in bars, parties, or through mutual friends. I get the online dating aversion, I really do. But you have to put yourself out there. People don't magically show up on your doorstep to have sex with you, and if they do, you should probably call the cops.
posted by teleri025 at 2:18 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Start by making a sockpuppet OKCupid account. But no identifying information in it. Use to to browse for a while. I guarantee withing a few days/weeks you'll sack up and make a real account.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 2:22 PM on September 24, 2012 [7 favorites]

From a fellow involuntary celibate:

Having a little awesome sex will not make the returning drought any easier, so try not to give in to the temptation to lower your standards. Keep your standards wherever is genuine and revel in the knowledge that at least you are sparing yourself the misery of having great sex and then having to come down from the hot and the bother. I don't even want to keep talking about what that exercise does to your sanity.

For the long term game plan, consider that the current potential person of interest shortage is because the late twenties/early thirties years are The Great Pairing Off. I like to think I will have pick of the litter once The Great Unpairing begins in about five to ten years.
posted by skrozidile at 2:43 PM on September 24, 2012 [8 favorites]

I know everyone's already getting all up on you for not liking OKC and stuff, and I agree that it's okay to want to avoid that route. That said, my last 2 boyfriends (including the one I've been dating for over a year and now live with) have been from OKC. When people ask us how we meet, we tell them, and we either get 1. "No way, us too!" (more than this than you might think) or 2. "Cool! My sister/coworker/uncle had great luck with X dating site." It's the sort of thing that a lot of people are doing but not a lot of people are talking about.

I also got plenty of people messaging me who were just looking for sex (with varying levels of transparency), which to me is preferable to being at a bar(/similar) and having dudes hitting on me and having to play that whole game while not sober. You can of course still meet up with them and make sure they're not totally icky before inviting them to your bedroom (or visiting theirs), but you can make some kind of judgment beforehand of how likely you are to get along on a baseline level.
posted by jorlyfish at 2:49 PM on September 24, 2012

Once again, there are many things in life that can be solved by getting a little bit drunky at a metafilter meetup. For serious.
posted by elizardbits at 2:56 PM on September 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

...I am popular and have many friends of both sexes...

This is what guy friends are made for. Ask one or two to rate you as in how you come off to them. They should be able to give you some pointers about your presentation and possibly spread the word that you're looking for sex with likable person.

You may also wish to contact the mods and have them include an anonymous email for people to give advice to.

The embarrassment thing? Totally understandable, but you're going to have to decide if you want to deal with some potential embarrassment or stay celibate. Embarrassment passes, especially once you've gotten laid.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:04 PM on September 24, 2012

What do you think you will get from sex with a partner that you're not getting from sex on your own? More satisfaction? (That's a toss-up. It really is.) Love? (Maybe, maybe not.) What you will NOT get if you stay celibate: pregnant, STDs, urinary tract infections from nonoxynol. Boy, do I miss those UTIs. Haven't had one in a long, long time, if you catch what I am throwing down!

If what you believe you're missing is a loving relationship, that's definitely something that you can't really get at home by yourself. "Love yourself?" That's been ringing hollow to me lately. That being said, there is no substitute for self-RESPECT, which you already seem to have: for example, you haven't sold yourself short by sleeping with someone you didn't really want.

There really aren't any easy answers to finding a loving, sexual relationship, and you're right to prepare yourself mentally for the possibility that there won't be one. You are NOT ALONE and it's really, really not about your looks or your personality! (Look around - are only cute, healthy people the ones you see in relationships?) If you enjoy your friends' and/or family's company, have an interesting job and/or rewarding things to do at night and on the weekends, it'll go a long way toward easing the loneliness.

BTW, one-nighters and brief hookups don't ease loneliness: they make it worse. That's been my experience; YMMV. I know I had to find that out for myself, no one could tell me not to do it.
posted by Currer Belfry at 3:15 PM on September 24, 2012 [6 favorites]

Not to jump on the online dating bandwagon, but there's something I feel you should consider: it is really really good practice. Those signals you're talking about sending? The ones you're unsure about? Once you hang out with a few strangers and practice chatting/flirting/whatever in that context, I think it's easier to do that "out in the wild."

OKCupid doesn't have to be where you find somebody to sleep with/date/love, though it can be. It can just be the place where you practice being more assertive/stating what you want/etc. with a much lower risk of consequences (avoiding stepping into your social circle and muddying things up or what have you, when you're just practicing.)***

FWIW, I set up an account, went out with some dudes, got more comfortable going on "dates", and then met my current lovely boyfriend at a dance party and deleted my profile.

If you're still dead set against online dating, pick a hobby and join a group. Or many groups. Go to a meetup. Volunteer somewhere. You need a flow of new people in your life.

***This is not to say you should use people just to brush up on flirting. Go out with people that interest you/you find attractive. I just mean that it's okay not to take it too seriously if there are no sparks/your expectations aren't met.
posted by dysh at 3:19 PM on September 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

It sounds to me as though you're projecting your past/current dissatisfaction and embarrassment with your romantic life onto your future options. This is totally understandable, but I think you might find they're nowhere near as bleak as you think.

Just as a datapoint: I joined OkC earlier this year. I had heard people (here!) rave about it, but figured it would never work for me, I don't really date (I'm sort of philosophically opposed, even), I'm too particular in odd ways, etc. I stumbled across the OkTrends blog, and was fascinated enough by the idea that a massive anthropological experiment was masquerading as a dating site that I wanted in. I didn't put up a profile or pictures, I just answered questions and looked at the guys that had similar match percentages. I was extremely impressed - the type of guys there were exactly the type of guys I'd have liked to have met in real life. I finally set up a profile, still not totally committed to the idea (I told myself that it was primarily for amusement purposes, because I didn't want to get my hopes up). Of course, I got the "Wat up u r sexi lolol!!11!" messages that most women get (basically, the verbal equivalent of being groped in the subway), but I also got a reasonable number of long, thoughtful, articulate, and respectful messages from men who were eminently dateable, in my opinion. I even met one very lovely one in person. There really was nothing embarrassing or awkward about any aspect of the experience.

If this was my experience, as a reasonably attractive mid/late-twenties straight woman who is a no-sex-before-marriage type (which presumably puts a lot of men off), you ABSOLUTELY will get tons of responses, especially if you're looking for casual sex. I almost guarantee you that you will get lots of messages from lots of kind, attractive, and articulate men. It sounds maybe like you'd benefit from raising your standards, however: it's a little bit concerning to me that you said that you really want to get married and have children, but will settle for uncommitted good sex with a nice person. Obviously you can do the latter while hunting for the former, if it won't distract you from your goal too much. However I really think it would be eminently possible for you to get what you want here, and I would encourage you to set your sights high and to go for it! Network through your friends for dates, if you want, but I'd urge you to go online: it might feel odd at first, but the people there are just like the people that you'd meet in real life, and in some ways, it's even less awkward, because it's clear from the beginning that it's a date, etc.
posted by UniversityNomad at 3:36 PM on September 24, 2012 [5 favorites]

Nthing everyone saying to get over your hangups about online dating and just do it, but also I think you should reframe the way you think about it:

Forget about the past 10 years. What's relevant is that TODAY, you are a single woman, who's looking for a guy to go out with, have sex with, be in a long-term relationship with, whatever. Your dating/sex history or lack thereof is just the past... what you're looking for, and who you are wouldn't really be any different if you were someone got out of a relationship 3 months ago.

Yes, the topic will eventually come up if you start seeing someone regularly, but it really won't matter to a guy who's into you. If anything he'll just think, "Huh, it's surprising that this great catch of a woman hasn't been taken off the market, but that's fortunate for me!"
posted by Asparagus at 3:38 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

On the things-to-be-embarassed-about scale this isn't bad at all. MY difficult to say confession: I didn't lose my virginity until I was 29. If it matters, I'm male. And FYI, I turned 29 less than TWO MONTHS AGO. How did I go about losing it? Dating via OkCupid. I wasn't dishonest at all about being a virgin either. Heck, at the time I didn't even have a *bed*. Basically, if there was hope for me there's hope for pretty much anyone with a pulse.

You may need to step outside of your comfort zone and give online dating a chance though. If you give online dating a fair chance and still don't like it that's one thing. However, you seem to be against the very idea because of how you think you'd be judged by your friends. If they're the kind of people that would judge you badly for online dating then I'm sorry they aren't great friends. If they're great friends, when they hear that you met a guy they'll be happy for you... even after learning you met him from the internet.
posted by Green With You at 4:13 PM on September 24, 2012 [9 favorites]

Just for the record: I have zero interest in online dating myself. So, yes, it is okay if that is not your cup of tea. The problem is you seem to know no other way to get a cup of tea at all.

While doped to the gills on prescription medication, I did a lot of things re getting hooked up that I would have otherwise expected to die from embarassment over. Generally speaking, people have no way of learning that unless I tell them. I got over it. My idea of "embarrassing" changed, which was a good thing. And I learned a lot about this making connections thing work.

Online dating is a potential place to start. It doesn't have to be more than that. Maybe it won't work for you, but you need a place to start and you apparently know no other route. So if you continue not getting any, it is something you can consider, if you so choose.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 4:26 PM on September 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have some major hang-ups re: online dating - basically, I don’t even know what I would do if someone I knew found out I was on OKCupid or whatever. I would DIE of embarrassment.

With my friends, many of them are in the same position as me really so I can’t really ask them to set me up with people...

Ever think that the reason that a lot of your friends are in the same position as you is because you would all DIE OF EMBARRASSMENT if, God forbid, you had to resort to on-line dating to get some? Not to be flip, but seriously, everyone has done it and some point or other and I don't know anyone who would bat an eye at hearing about someone they know meeting someone from an online dating site. And seriously, these sites are like shooting fish in a barrel. If you want to clean out those cobwebs, get over your hang-ups and put up a profile already—bc yeah, self-love gets old after awhile.
posted by violetk at 4:39 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Data point: My 55 year old mother met someone online, and it worked out.

Hows your wardrobe? How do you carry yourself? When was your last stylish haircut? These things can impress people, but more importantly, can help with self confidence.

Where do you go to meet guys? Bars are traditional for a reason. Not to harp on online, but there is a ton of resources for dating, hooking up, one night stands.... all sorts of things. Hows your flirting skills? Maybe observe people (sneakily!) in bars or such. But from what I gather, glances, smiles, hair touching, casually touching them, good body language, etc.

I'm a huge, huge believer in both liking and loving yourself. Important to be able to accept where you are, forgive yourself, and not stress about the things like lack of action recently. Its ok :)

As always, I'm one of the mefites who like therapy.
posted by Jacen at 6:41 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Totally agreeing with Currer Belfry. It sounds to me like you are hungry for more than dating, and more than sex. Being celibate can be awful. Having lots of sex but no real relationship with another person can be worse. Much worse. (and as C.B. says, you probably won't believe that until you try it for yourself.) And some people don't ever get to have a truly loving relationship. And sometimes even the most loving relationship ends far too early in loss, from accident or illness.

I don't know you well enough to make any suggestions, but if all you're thinking about is sex all the time, you've put yourself in a dead end corner. I can't see that online dating, or any dating, is going to make a rat's ass worth of difference to the work you need to do right now, alone or talking to someone else.

No one here has addressed the "how to live as a celibate" question, but you need to find your own answer to this. Almost everyone has to be celibate at one time or another in life. Even people in deeply satisfying relationships. I'm disabled and this has forced long periods of celibacy (and not much touching at all) on my husband. I'm deeply grateful that he's never suggested that this has made him feel "empty" or "pissed off."

Being loved, being touched, being desired, being desired only for sex -- these are such difficult things we all deal with. I admire your openness and honesty, and wish you the best of luck.
posted by kestralwing at 6:56 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're 30, being single is pretty common at your age for many people. Celibacy isn't that big a deal for other people, though I feel your pain.,

If youve decided you want a nice guy, then tell your friends that, join groups, ask your friends for introductions... Nobody can read your mind,
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 8:15 PM on September 24, 2012

Brene Brown's book about shame, I Thought it Was Just Me might be helpful for you. Your attitude toward online dating suggests, to me at least, not embarrassment but rather shame--not that you think sex is shameful, necessarily, but that you're worried about the assumptions other people will make about the kind of person you are if they find out you have an online dating profile.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:18 PM on September 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just went through a dry spell, three years. I have been online dating and am also not happy with the thought of needing to do it, but this is where life is right now. I would rather be in a happy relationship but I'm not, so it seems like all other options are undesirable: being alone, online dating, putting myself out there. So which is the least undesirable of these options? Online dating. I finally met someone to have sex with, although he isn't someone I want to have a relationship with. He's not the most attractive man that has contacted me, but for some reason I was more drawn to having sex with him because of his mannerisms. I think the better looking men intimidate me, and that doesn't lead to good sex. I'm on a quest to find an attractive man I want to have sex and a relationship with, but for now sex with an mediocre looking man who has a good personality does the job well enough. He's not the best lover but he's not the worst. I guess it boils down to gut feelings and doing what you want rather than acting on fear.
posted by waving at 2:46 AM on September 25, 2012

Behind closed doors, your friends are wondering why you haven't tried online dating. Seriously.

Aside from that, try some meetup groups that interest you. You'll meet new people, and many (most) of them will be single as well.
posted by cnc at 5:08 PM on September 25, 2012

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