How can I cope with celibacy?
October 16, 2012 5:09 PM   Subscribe

I'm a heterosexual American man in my mid-20s. I have no relationship experience, never had sex, never kissed, never held hands, blah blah blah. I'm not looking for help approaching women, I just need some ideas on how to cope with a life of loneliness.

I've basically concluded that the probability of finding a woman who is interested in me is so close to zero that realistically I should expect it never to happen. It's not just a matter of opportunity; today, I'm employed in an isolated position with no female co-workers, and the only women I know personally are significant others of male friends, but only a few years ago, when I was in college, I was at least somewhat gregarious and met lots of women. And yet, anyone I approach has no interest in me. I'm physically very ordinary, or so I think, and I've noticed this pattern when trying to make anonymous, sight-unseen online dating work as well. I'm simply personally unappealing.

I'm not angry about it. I've heard so much about 'angry 20-something virgins' that it seems a cliche, but that's not me at all. I'm not blaming anyone other than myself. In fact, I think my situation has paradoxically given me a perspective on women that many men my age lack (or else my capacity for empathy is growing with age). I spend a lot of time reading anything I can find about relationships, how women experience the world, and how people like me are generally perceived. At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful. Over the past few years I've relegated myself to only seeking companionship over the internet, where my advances can be easily ignored and present only a minor inconvenience, but as I mentioned above, nothing has ever come of it, regardless of how much effort I invest, or how positive and happy I pretend to be.

I'm morally opposed to exchanging money for intimacy, so prostitutes, and maybe therapy, aren't options. Similarly, any kind of relationship that exists in any part due to a large power imbalance in my favor (with someone much younger, or of much lower socio-economic status) is unacceptable. I realize that there are behavior-modifying drugs that might help, but anything that extreme, that would fundamentally alter my mind, is too frightening to contemplate. I'm afraid that I'll lose something important, like my creativity or passion for things I value. I've thought about joining a monastery, but I'll never achieve the goals I have in my life if I spend it somewhere like that.

So, this leaves me in a really unhappy place. I find myself constantly fantasizing, and thinking about sex and love (often just trying to imagine the mundane details of hypothetical relationships), and then feeling terrible when reminding myself that I'll never experience them. I masturbate, unfortunately a lot, which I doubt is healthy, and it's very hard to do it without some form of pornography (I haven't used visual pornography in many years, for moral reasons), which just leaves me feeling wretched and worthless afterward.

Some days, it's bearable; some days, I actually feel optimistic. But I'm NEVER actually happy, and it just seems to get worse the older I get. I feel like my problem is hopelessly constrained and totally impossible, but I might as well try. What say you, hive mind? How else can I cope? What is a good strategy?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (68 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
You don't sound like you need strategies for dealing with the fact that you'll never find love, you sound like you need therapy for depression.
posted by xingcat at 5:12 PM on October 16, 2012 [53 favorites]

IAAT, IANYT.....Paying for a therapist is not "exchanging money for intimacy". I suspect that somehow, at some point in your life, you've been led to believe that the persona you've described is what you are destined to be. This doesn't need to be the road you follow.

You're a drowning man being offered two choices... choose the swimming lesson.....
posted by HuronBob at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2012 [45 favorites]

I think you should reconsider your moral stance on therapy. It may be "money for intimacy," but it's not just that.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2012

I'd like to meet a guy like you. High ethical standards, totally articulate, not willing to break down on your values and morals, empathetic (although perhaps in a clueless, depression-fueled way) towards women, an interest in true love...

These are all interesting and pretty unique traits! The problem isn't with you, your looks, your intelligence : you are suffering from depression and/or other mental issues and *do* need therapy...which, by the way, is a lot more than intimacy.. But honestly, you are NOT an unappealing man. There are plenty of women who would love a guy like you.
posted by rhythm_queen at 5:18 PM on October 16, 2012 [10 favorites]

What HuronBob said.
posted by outlandishmarxist at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2012

How do you know people aren't interested in you? This isn't intended as a patronizing question but as a smoke test. From your post, it sounds like you've intellectually backed yourself into a corner where you've ruled out any possibility of a relationship, but it's hard to tell from your post whether that thought process is actually valid. Might there have been people in the past who might have been interested, but you didn't see it for whatever reason?

Call me Pollyanna, but I still believe there is a Jack for every Jill, or near enough. If you don't believe me, just spend some time on mass transit. Some of the most unappealing people I've ever encountered ride transit and enough of them are coupled up to suggest that there is at least some hope for you, however unappealing you think you might be.

You specifically don't want advice on meeting women, so I won't offer any. But maybe you're throwing in the towel before the fight is really over?
posted by ga$money at 5:20 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

Are you kidding me? How can you think so little of yourself and at the same time so much that you claim you KNOW what the future will bring?

You don't need to settle for loneliness. You shouldn't if that's not what makes you happy. Give therapy a try. You make your feelings sound reasonable but they aren't. It isn't reasonable to see yourself in such miserable light.
posted by Tarumba at 5:21 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

There's a lot in your post that makes me sad and I think you're operating under a lot of mistaken assumptions, but to start with one-

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high

... assuming you are not crossing any lines (ie any uninvited touching, overt sexual innuendo), a woman can feel however she wants about you approaching her/hitting on her, but that's her problem, not yours.
posted by Asparagus at 5:21 PM on October 16, 2012 [9 favorites]

Your main problem is you are believing a lie.

And that lie has more power than you think it does.

I had recommended to someone else on here that they google Cooley's Looking-Glass Self; it is a concept in sociology that revolutionized my own life in college. In a nutshell-you act according to your perception of how others see you, and THEY react to THAT.

Therapy of some sort would be very helpful for you. I think group therapy in particular might be a good option.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:21 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

I agree you should reconsider therapy and that it sounds as if you are depressed. Please get help for that.

Beyond that, you need hobbies, volunteering, and activities that put you around people you can be friends with (male and female) and people you can potentially date. Consider dating someone older than you are.
posted by heyjude at 5:25 PM on October 16, 2012

I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful.

This is not a healthy attitude towards interpersonal relationships. You sound like a thoughtful person, and I posit that you have the ability inside yourself to make judgement calls on whether a given instance of approaching a woman is ethical/appropriate or not.

I think you would benefit from taking on activities that put you into contact with women. Popular culture not withstanding, I would guess the majority of relationships do not arise out of an "approaching a woman" scenario.

Relationships or no, I think this attitude needs recalibration. You can be celibate as a doorknob and you'll still be really missing out if 50% of the population is a no-go for conversation.
posted by threeants at 5:29 PM on October 16, 2012 [13 favorites]

I'm morally opposed to exchanging money for intimacy, so prostitutes, and maybe therapy, aren't options.

Therapy is not "paid intimacy" (though it can -- indeed, it must -- involve sharing personal information and feelings). Therapy is a means by which you confront and solve problems, develop new skills and habits, and learn happier, healthier ways of relating to yourself and other human beings. Saying it's not an option like this is a little like saying "I need a house, but I'm morally opposed to paying money to acquire the hardware and tools in order to build it."

The way you are presently feeling and living is not everything you are fated to experience. I want to reach out through the computer and give you a hug. It sounds like you have pretty serious depression, which I understand very, very well -- enough that I know that there are a lot of options for treating it. I wish you the best.
posted by scody at 5:30 PM on October 16, 2012 [7 favorites]

I agree with therapy. How about also asking some of the female partners of your male friends to set you up on blind dates with friends of theirs? I know they have a terrible rep, but it sounds like whatever online dating you're doing is not working out and what the hell do you have to lose now, if your other option is just giving up?
posted by sallybrown at 5:32 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I masturbate, unfortunately a lot, which I doubt is healthy

It's perfectly healthy. Really. Your sex drive probably falls into the normal range, and you're celibate, and that river has to flow somewhere. I'd be worried if you didn't feel the need to do that. Stop er, beating yourself up about beating off.

Also, what everyone else said.
posted by orange swan at 5:32 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Really, the whole problem is in the first sentence:

"I've basically concluded that the probability of finding a woman who is interested in me is so close to zero that realistically I should expect it never to happen."

Here in England, the word we have for a mathematically incorrect probability statement such as this is "bollocks".

The rest of the post is just icing on this cake, even though you do try and justify this - logically incorrect - probability. So you're not Brad Pitt in the looks department, nor do you think you have the instant crowd-pulling magnetism of Neil deGrasse Tyson? Dude, welcome to Planet Male, population Most Of Us! And most of us (plain and a bit dull males) have relationships, mess some of them up, and do better than others.

If we can do it, you can do it.

You've got to get out of this rut, and not let it dominate your thinking for longer. Every month you spend in this relationship no-mans land in your head is a month WASTED when you could be doing all the relationship fun things.

I don't know the best solution for you, or even the best first step. But you need to get it sorted, get this ridiculous and incorrect assumption, which is stopping you from having a rumpy life, out of your system.

Do not waste any more time.

Try stuff others suggest here.

Start trying stuff today.
posted by Wordshore at 5:33 PM on October 16, 2012 [18 favorites]

I really do not know what "I'm simply personally unappealing" means. Do you mean physically/behaviorally/etc. I can not tell whether you have locked yourself up to protect your self from hurt/rejection or the imagined difficulty/pain to others. it really is impossible to know what is brutal self assessment, rationalization and/or intellectualization. Also, it is difficult to know whether your ethical/moral views are antecedent or post experience. I have a hunch the latter--values/beliefs tend to be shaped much more by behavior than vice-versa. i am very confident your decision to not see a therapist is a rationalization. it is the only way I know that you have a reasonable opportunity to get objective feed back.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:37 PM on October 16, 2012

What I meant to get at prior is that I've never in my life "approached" a woman stranger in hopes that it might catapult us into a romantic comedy. But I would get quickly frustrated if I wasn't able to ask a strange woman if the bus already came, if she doesn't mind moving her laptop cord, is anyone sitting here, etc. etc. I'm a pretty talkative, social person and I don't think I've ever met someone in "the wild" who I don't otherwise have some connection to, who graduated to more than vague acquaintance level. YMMV, but I think for most, approaching people in public is just not a fruitful way to form relationships, romantic or platonic. So don't sweat that.
posted by threeants at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

You need to reconsider your stance on therapy and drugs. As others have mentioned, therapy isn't the same as "paying for intimacy" in the way that hiring a hooker might be (and even that is... not quite so accurate). Therapy, for many people, is for talking about the issues that they cannot talk about with their intimate partners. It's often raw and painful.

As for drugs, there is a fundamental misunderstanding that many people have about medications like anti-depressants. They do not turn you into a different person. They don't change who you are. They do give you an incentive and a little push to try things and think about things differently than you have before, though. But it's up to you to actually make those changes-- the drugs don't do it for you.
posted by joan_holloway at 5:48 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

What everybody else says plus : 25 is a weird age. It's halfway between your teenage years and your "adulthood" and it often feels like you're making no traction whatsoever. It's too soon to come to any conclusions about yourself, or women or your place in the world.

You sound like the sort of person therapy was MADE for.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:49 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

My sister sounds a lot like you, though she intends to remain celibate until marriage. She has met some people through online dating when she was flexible with he location. She's looking for the right relationship with the right man so was willing to consider starting a long distance relationship (pretty much anywhere in North America). So although she is still single she has had more relationships/dates than she would if she had limited herself to a 100km radius.

PS. Me mail me if you want me to play matchmaker!

posted by saradarlin at 5:52 PM on October 16, 2012

I've lurked for a long time now and finally there's a thread I can comment on. OP has described me to a T. I'm turning 30 in a few months. I've been lonely for a long time now and here some of the things I do: work 80 or more hours a week, write a technical book on the side, solve math puzzles, learn physics and play guitar. You can fill up a week with activities like this quite easily. And I also drink by myself; probably to excess. I used to go to bars before until I couldn't. Alcohol didn't help my loneliness, the empty glass just magnified it a lot.

I know my lack of socializing is affecting me at work. They think I'm weird and offputting - I'm not invited to work parties or like, and, frankly it doesn't bother me anymore. I've spent nights awake fantasizing about a life that could have been; chances I should have taken and risky avenues I've left unexplored. When I'm doing all the "intellectual" stuff to keep busy, I develop a superiority complex that all these other sheeple could never do what I do or think the great thoughts I have. It's just more fantasizing, that's all. Maybe I'll outgrow it, I don't know. I'm looking for another project. I'm thinking about learning another instrument.

On the plus side: I'm financially independent because of the amount of time I've spent working. I could buy whatever I want, but stuff doesn't makes me happy. Never did.

There's no prize for living a hermit's life. The Buddha doesn't show up and grant you some divine understanding. The life you'll live is simply a consequence of the choices you'll make. I'm future you and I feel the same way I did when I was 10, 15 and 25. That's all I really have to say.
posted by freshkippers at 5:57 PM on October 16, 2012 [18 favorites]

I think of therapy as being somehow the opposite of intimate. It's the ability to be open without being intimate. Intimacy requires caring about the other party's feelings, a lot of delicate negotiations, and while it should involve a lot of honesty, there's a lot of requirements to temper how you say things, etc. Therapy? You're not responsible for your therapist's happiness. You can say whatever, and it's not personal to them. It's wonderfully freeing.

Psychiatric medication, if you really are depressed, doesn't change who you are. It helps you *be* who you are. (I have anxiety and it has been a massive life-changing thing for me, along with the therapy, in the best ways.)

I really doubt you'll be alone forever--coming from another perspective, lots of gays and lesbians get into the dating game very late and do fine--but it's a great thing if you want to learn to be okay with it for right now, because being okay by yourself makes finding someone else easier. Therapy is good for that. The other thing that's good for that is building up a life full of things that you are really happy to be engaged in that aren't romantic relationships: a career, hobbies, friends. Depression gets in the way of those things, often, so if you find yourself with roadblocks you don't understand, that could be why.

Get that stuff in order, and you tend to become much more attractive, regardless of looks or money, which is great, but also you gain the ability to be much more patient and wait for something right, not just the first possibility you come across.
posted by gracedissolved at 5:57 PM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

I've basically concluded that the probability of finding a woman who is interested in me is so close to zero that realistically I should expect it never to happen.

It's advantageous to not be excessively hopeful, but this isn't realistic - or helpful - either.

It sounds like you are trying to gracefully handle the fact that you are a virgin in your mid-twenties, to not be angry or resentful about it, which is good. However, you are also trying to just wish your need away. That won't work. If you were truly asexual, sure. But from your post, it is clear that you're not. You do want to meet a woman and have a relationship and have sex. You cannot mentally disintegrate that away by joining a monastery or something.

It will save you some emotional energy to acknowledge that, even if you're not going to go out looking for a date any time soon.

I'm not looking for help approaching women, I just need some ideas on how to cope with a life of loneliness.

This is a good idea - don't worry about women right now. Deal with your loneliness directly. You should continue to nurture the relationships you have online and talk to those people openly. It doesn't matter whether you meet them or not or what gender they are. Just connect with other human beings.

At some point, though, plan to address your need to be in love with a woman. I think keeping this in mind will help with the "alone forever" distress.

When you do, I think you should give online dating another shot. I know it's horrible to send out message after message and only rarely receive a response, and then have that response never go anywhere, but you can mitigate this by:

- Not writing massive essays to each person to which you introduce yourself. (As I unfortunately use to do.)
- Checking your dating web site inbox once per day and only once per day.

Try to get one response per month, and maybe eventually, try to go on one date per month. They could be horrible! But give yourself credit for doing it, and then spend the rest of your month enjoying your creative pursuits or entertaining hobbies, knowing that you did your part to address your long-term goal. I never had the social fortitude to push myself beyond the once-per-month level of activity, yet I still ended up in a great relationship.

Better yet, try to make friends in person with people that share your interests. Go to meetups. Unfortunately for me, when I was a virgin in my twenties, all of my interests and hobbies were horribly male-dominated. I felt cursed and wished I liked indie rock and didn't bother to meet up with my compatriots. But in retrospect, even hanging out with more dudes would have helped me feel less disconnected and would have gone a ways in helping me deal with meeting new people in general. Maybe you can even develop a significantly-sized social circle, which I've heard was the key to meeting women.

Even without that, though, you can find someone that will like you. Millions of people far more horrible than you find someone. You'll need to suffer to get there, but that's like everything else in life, practically.

Basically, what I've said boils down to: Keep on communicating with people and trying to understand them. You'll find that rewarding in itself, and it will assuage your loneliness and build up your ability to have a good relationship.
posted by ignignokt at 5:58 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Man, I identify with so much of what you say. I suspect quite a few of the folks responding here do not.

I've been there. I was entirely celibate for a huge portion of my twenties, and in many ways I felt as you do. Somehow I just didn't have the knack of forming a relationship with a woman. It was like I missed a class in school. I could socialise with women quite comfortably. Make them laugh, have fun... but when it came to anything beyond that I just didn't have a clue how to make what seemed to me a massive quantum leap. It still seems that way, to be honest. I still don't really understand how to do that whole man-woman-getting-together thing, and I'm in my fifties. I've been lucky a few times, is all. The good news is, you probably will be too. Most of us are, eventually. Just keep socialising and hoping, dude. Guys like us have to trust to luck, but you can make luck more likely by giving it more opportunities. You don't need therapy. Some things have to be endured, not "fixed". Just give yourself as many chances as you can.
posted by Decani at 6:01 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yep, nthing therapy.

If you can't pull that off, things that will make celibacy more bearable are probably the same things that will get you into relationships. Pick up some hobbies, join a band. That is the kind of stuff that I did at 25. I had been single for ~4+ years at that point, and was drinking pretty heavily. I would go to bars, and then come home and write a comic series about the things that I had just done at the bar that I regretted (it was titled "regret is...").

I eventually went to therapy because I realized I had not dealt with some major things that I hated (absolutely the worst shit) about myself. I told my friends about this stuff before I went to therapy in fact. It wasn't paying for intimacy, it was an opportunity to get a response to some complex problems.

I am interested as to your moral objections to therapy.
posted by jonbro at 6:01 PM on October 16, 2012

I'm morally opposed to exchanging money for intimacy, so prostitutes, and maybe therapy, aren't options

A lot of what you say here sounds kind of childish and 'deep' in an eye-roll worthy way. If you really can't handle getting therapy, I think you might enjoy joining a philosophy discussion group to try and meet similar people.
posted by jacalata at 6:08 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ask me has many great answers in the archives about how to live happily alone. But I think you could really use Other answers.

Here's the thing: paying for therapy made me really anxious too, like I was paying for a friend. But the reality is there is NO intimacy. Sure, your therapist and you explore intimate parts of your psyche. But they're a professional the whole time. After 5 years of therapy I had no idea of my therapist was partnered or not, and we Weren't friends. But I got to the point where I realized she wasn't "faking" caring about me because I paid her. She legitimately cared about me because I'd shared so much of myself and worked so hard with her.

I came to realize that "therapy is just paying for intimacy" was my anxiety and dysthymia trying to keep me lonely, self-esteem challenged, and stuck. Trust me, at 100 pounds overweight and a Lot older than you, I had a lot more reasons to continue to be virgin. I told my therapist I didn't want to date, and she Immediately called me out as lying, and she was right. Therapy helped me get real intimacy - not with my therapist, but with someone who loves me for who I am.

You deserve to be loved for who you are. You may not get there through therapy, but you're sure not going to get there by giving up, either.
posted by ldthomps at 6:13 PM on October 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've basically concluded that the probability of finding a woman who is interested in me is so close to zero that realistically I should expect it never to happen.

You're very young. There's no good reason you've articulated that you should "conclude" something so drastic and tragic. It's almost melodramatic. Lots of weird-looking, downright unpleasant guys find women, surely with your sensitivity and thoughtfulness you can do the same.

And yet, anyone I approach has no interest in me. I'm physically very ordinary, or so I think, and I've noticed this pattern when trying to make anonymous, sight-unseen online dating work as well. I'm simply personally unappealing.

Your main problem is that you not only lack confidence, you're self-deprecating in the extreme. That's why women aren't into you, dude. Nobody wants to be with someone who openly but passively dislikes themself like that.

I spend a lot of time reading anything I can find about relationships, how women experience the world, and how people like me are generally perceived.

You need to stop doing that. You're being way, way, WAY too navel-gazing, self-pitying, and also paradoxically insufficiently self-interested. Start spending your time reading about things that excite you and make you feel good.

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason

That's delusional and neurotic. You need to start learning the difference between healthy, polite boundaries and complete segregation.

I'm morally opposed to exchanging money for intimacy, so prostitutes, and maybe therapy, aren't options.

Since you're a virgin, you might not realize that prostitutes don't generally offer intimacy, they offer sex. Therapists don't offer intimacy either, exactly, though you may be emotionally open with them. You wouldn't know either of those things because you've never had business with either group!

tl;dr: you should see a therapist to help you disassemble the edifice of doubt and restriction you've built up around yourself. You've surrounded yourself with bizarre, unnecessary personal commitments to solitude and unassertiveness that are making you miserable. Stop indulging those histrionic commitments and start getting help from a mental health professional. Do it tomorrow. Do it. You will be much, MUCH happier, I promise.
posted by clockzero at 6:22 PM on October 16, 2012 [22 favorites]

You sound like a person I'd get along well with, actually. Thinky. Moral. Able to put aside your immediate personal wishes because of your ethical beliefs. That's good. It makes me sad that a thinky fellow such as yourself can't seem to meet a girl.

(I mean, if you're around Minneapolis by some weird chance, feel free to memail me and I can point you in some "how to meet people" directions.)

Here are some thoughts:

1. You sound a bit like a good friend of mine who is now a bit older than you, has many delightful qualities and couldn't seem to date. My friend eventually met this great girl who was herself perceptive and unusual and who sort of got the whole thing rolling. I'm pretty sure my friend felt a lot like you do now prior to the relationship. Post-relationship (for it ended) my friend has been able to date other people much more easily. It can happen.

2. I find myself wondering what your upbringing was like because you sound a bit like me. One of the things I've had to work at in therapy is disentangling my ethics from my neuroses, and it's really difficult! Your question makes it sound like you have some of the same issues - how do you separate "as an empathic and smart guy, I know that approaching women is kind of fraught and being a bitter/entitled jackass is gross" from "I am afraid that no one will love me and I need a moral system that makes sense of this"? I was brought up in a very authoritarian (though loving) way which placed a lot of weight on "being good" and very little weight on "asking for what you want and need", and was brought up very much against the whole idea that you can have [harmless] things just because you want them, not because they are good or evil. Like, I feel like I have a good ethical system, mostly, but I also sometimes turn my ethics on myself, hurt myself pointlessly (with ideas!) and make myself feel bad. Or I use my belief system to rule things out when actually I am scared of them or scared of failing.

3. Fear of change is a really big unconscious thing for me, and I've found that I am often more at home being "the one who is miserable and lonely because they deserve it and besides, fate" than I am trying to change. This is unconscious and difficult to root out. Is this a possibility with you?

4. If you don't want to/can't go to therapy, try writing. Write about your childhood, what you think your identity is, how you'd like your life to be, important things that you can remember. In therapy, I ended up basically narrating my whole life in great detail with speculation about what made things the way they were, and it helped me a bunch. I often had to narrate and re-narrate, like peeling an onion, to get to some deep stuff. (Some of it stupid! Stupid things from childhood can mess you up!)

5. If you really ever get desperate enough, you can establish a moral and non-skeevy relationship with a sex worker. There are independent people out there who are smart and nice and sexually confident who will be fine with creating an intimate and recurring professional connection with you, if you're pleasant and kind and offer fair pay. How do I know this? From knowing some sex workers socially. In a way, it's like having the same hairstylist for years - it's a professional relationship and it has limits, but it's not impersonal or exploitative.

6. Based on what you write, it sounds like a part of you doesn't want to change - you've pre-emptively refused all the most direct ways to tackle your situation. Did something hurtful happen to you when you were younger and you're still in some ways frozen into that identity? What was your family like? You may not be conscious of this part of you - it's not that you're lying or being a hypocrite when you write. It's not that your beliefs about intimacy are wrong, bad or insincere; it's, they are a bit like a kaleidoscope - you might need to sort of turn them a little bit to make them work for you.

7. On a practical level, everyone I know who is awkward made friends and got dates via political or cultural activism. I would never have had a date in my life (I'd still be hung up on Anne, the most beautiful girl and weirdest girl in the world of suburban Illinois in 1991) if it weren't for zines, comics, science fiction and activism. You don't sound like you're holding out for a cheerleader heiress, so if you can hang around that type of milieu long enough, some awkward girl will meet you, like you and awkwardly invite you to coffee. I mean, I have awkwardly invited many people to coffee, and if it was awkward it was always because I had intent.
posted by Frowner at 6:25 PM on October 16, 2012 [16 favorites]

Celibacy is not a default position; it's a choice. Therefore, one doesn't really "cope" with celibacy. Similarly, you don't buy intimacy with therapy. You go for therapy to do the work that is required for and keeping you from being happy, whether alone or partnered.

But I'm NEVER actually happy

This is very telling. You really could gain a lot with CBT-type therapy, or even books such as Feeling Good and Intimate Connections.

Your position is different: you would like a significant other but so far, for whatever reason, you don't have one in your life. You don't know what the future entails so it's really not fair to dwell just on the negative possibilities. In the meantime, you have to remember that no single person, not even a partner, will fill the void in life. Life is too complex for that. And, you have work to do before you meet a partner. A partner does not make one happy. Rather, when one is happy and at one's optimal best, it is then that a partnership is truly and fully enjoyed. Your goal really should be to be the happiest and the best you can be, and then continue to make efforts to meet women, without expectations. And at the end of the day, remember, life does not own any of us any special blessings. You take what life offers you, and enjoy the present. For all you know, these may be the last years of your life as a single person! Who knows?
posted by xm at 6:29 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't know if I speak for the majority, but I know I'm not the only one. Someone's physical appearance makes about as much difference to me as the colour of their favourite tshirt. That is, it doesn't.

What someone's attitude is (bitterness, apathy, depression, whatever) does matter. I do have to second therapy, particularly if you haven't ever gone to it!

Someone who hits on ANYONE, simply because they don't care who, they just want a girlfriend - that's not how you want to be. Get to know people, make friends with females, without other motives, and if there's someone who you LIKE, then see if anything can happen.
posted by Ashlyth at 7:03 PM on October 16, 2012

So here is what I think is happening (and you can take or leave my armchair diagnosis).

You've recently discovered that you may be quite smart, but you are probably not going to be a rock star or discover the cure for cancer. At 25ish you--and most people--are figuring out you're quite ordinary. You assume "interesting" has to be A Thing One Has, like a colorful hat or a pet penguin, rather than being A Thing One Is, so you just assume you don't Have It because it's in-born.

Because, and now I think we're getting to it, you fundamentally don't like yourself and are afraid to put yourself out there for fear that they will see The Emperor with no clothes and discover the terrible, dark secret of your ordinariness. I think your attempt to resign yourself to celibacy is twofold: one is that it is Safe, because you do not have to put yourself out there and makes you different and special. You even use it in your post, claiming ordinariness and then saying things about how "people like you" are perceived, when reading books about relationships without ever being in one is like reading a bunch of books about Paris and assuming you know you'd hate the food there.

You don't like yourself and that is the fundamental problem you are grappling with. That's why you think women will regard your advances as harassment--since you're not saying "Women always accuse me of harassing them"--rather than as attempts at dating or companionship because you don't like yourself. You say you're physically very ordinary...well, so is everyone except the far ends of the bell curve, and they all manage to get dates and reproduce...but you don't like the way you look, I bet. You even twist it into your ethics: You are so terrible, such an ogre, that a woman dealing up with you will automatically be horrified, so it is far kinder that you spare the ladies of the world your horrifying visage.

But I think you're just afraid to put yourself out there and accept your fundamental ordinariness, because that would be the crushing blow you Could Not Bear.

You sound very depressed and if you're taking the monumental step of deciding you'll just be alone forever, maybe it's worth seeing if maybe, just maybe, you're wrong. Because what you're suggesting is the equivalent of setting your car on fire and dumping it in a lake because it's making a weird noise and ethically, you can't ask someone to fix your car.

That's not to say lifelong celibacy is a bad or terrible thing, however, it's pretty clearly messing you up in the head. If your post said, "Hey guys, I feel no need for a relationship or to ever have sex," that would be something else altogether.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:08 PM on October 16, 2012 [9 favorites]

You've done something strange with your studying and reading about relationships and women where it seems you have created this completely different species in your mind. You have a lot of empathy for them, you're willing to do the work to understand how they think and view the world, but you are completely missing the fact that women are PEOPLE. Just like men, just like you.

You don't mention if you have the same difficulties forming close bonds with other men, perhaps you find all close relationships to be slightly alien.

Nthing therapy. I see a therapist, I am not paying her for intimacy any more then I would be if I was hiring a personal trainer at the gym. She's helping me sort through past traumas and develop better coping mechanisms. Don't refuse help just because there's a price tag, therapists have to eat after all.
posted by Dynex at 7:18 PM on October 16, 2012 [9 favorites]

You sound like a very decent person who's gotten his head all wound up in some very unhelpful ideas and ways of looking at things.

As others have said, your idea that simply approaching a woman is tantamount to harassment is incorrect. John Scalzi had a post on his blog recently about, basically, how decent-but-socially-awkward folks can minimize the chances that their attentions make somebody else feel uncomfortable. It sounds like you've got his points #1-4 nailed, and I'm guessing you're good on #5 as well. (As Ghostride The Whip points out, you're worrying about the possibility that women might feel harassed; you're not saying "Women always accuse me of harassing them".) So take a look at #6-10. I'm guessing you're probably okay there too, and that your concerns are more due to hypervigilance and depression than to any actual inappropriate behavior on your part.

Two books by the Zen teacher Cheri Huber might be helpful to you: Be the Person You Want to Find: Relationship and Self-Discovery and (Regardless of What You Were Taught to Believe) There is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate. I recommend Cheri's work a lot when it's appropriate because I truly believe that if I hadn't found her books (first The Depression Book, then Nothing Wrong With You) I would have attempted suicide by now.

I'm guessing you're nowhere near as loathsome as you perceive yourself to be. Please do consider therapy, medication, awareness practice, or whatever else seems like a possible path. You sound awfully unhappy, and you deserve to feel better.

Oh, and as others have said, therapy is this weirdly non-intimate yet intensely personal thing. But truly, although I knew more about my hairdresser than I did about my therapist (after seven years of working with my therapist, I don't know whether she was single, partnered, married, or widowed; gay, bi, het, asexual, or something else; an only child or one of many; etc. etc. etc.) the time I spent with my therapist was far more useful on an ongoing basis. I learned skills and tools in my sessions with her that I've been able to use outside of therapy to deal with my life in better and more constructive ways.

I'm guessing you'd be willing to pay a mechanic to fix a problem with a car engine, or a surgeon to fix a hernia, or a plumber to fix a broken pipe, or a gardener to figure out why the leaves on all the plants are turning yellow. Getting therapy is similar: there is a problem or situation in your life that's causing you difficulty or distress, so it makes sense to seek assistance from somebody who has advanced training and experience in addressing similar problems.
posted by Lexica at 7:36 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

There have been lots of other great answers, so two short things from me:

1) Therapy isn't paying for intimacy: you pay a doctor when your body's ill; you pay a therapist when your mind is ill (and I say this as someone who has sought therapy for depression and anxiety).

2) I think it will be hard to accept being alone without having experienced a relationship. That's a pretty big life experience. That said, I think you're exactly right to have boundaries (no huge power imbalances, etc.).

Since you're asking strangers on the Internet for advice, here's mine as a someone who has chosen to be single for a significant amount of time (6+ yrs): live your life. Do all the things you would do if you had an SO. Take classes, go camping, go to parties (if you like them), go to meet ups, read books, travel--just do your thing so that you're happy. While there are definitely wonderful things about being part of a couple, there are also a lot of wonderful things about being single, too--it's just that the deeper ones don't get discussed much by popular media. It's a pretty powerful thing to be so independent that you can live your life on your own terms without regret. 90% of the times I feel bad about being single are brought on by someone telling me there's something wrong with that choice; and then I remember that I actually *like* living on my own, that it's the right choice for now, it was the right choice a few years ago, and it might always be so. But making a decision != coping/accepting: make it an active choice. And it's a choice that can change.

That said, to me, you're still pretty young. I'm in my early 30's, and there are very, VERY few available single men my age. You may find that you have a larger pool of interested women when you hit 30 than you do now. But even if you don't, hey, single life can be pretty awesome regardless.

But do please reconsider therapy! Being depressed poisons life, single OR coupled. I speak from experience.
posted by smirkette at 7:43 PM on October 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Since your question is how to cope with celibacy, I won't pile on here except to say that you sound like you are doing it quite well masturbating when you feel the urge. If you want to have sex and you won't pay for it or use some sort of power position to get it, then you have to change your belief you can never meet someone. Talk about bad odds, just sitting at home learning how to be celibate will not produce a relationship that leads to intimacy and intimate sex.

None of your co-workers are willing to set you up? Or the females you mention you know through their relationships with males you know? I met my ex-wife by asking a colleague if he had any female friends to set me up with. He did.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:51 PM on October 16, 2012

You're not happy. That's what it boils down to, and even if you woke up tomorrow with a gorgeous girlfriend beside you in bed, who loved you dearly, you still wouldn't be happy. Because happiness is internal; external things cannot make you happy.

How do I know? I have you as a best friend. I've dated you, more than once. I WAS YOU.

I know so, so many intelligent people who either don't think being happy is possible, or think circumstances (money, love, sex) can make them happy. I'm here to tell you: only you can do the work to be happy. Your happiness can't come from circumstance, because circumstances change.

Go to therapy. It's not paying for emotional intimacy. I'm no more emotionally intimate with my therapist than I was with my high school guidance counselor.

Good luck. You sound like a good, but depressed, man.
posted by peacrow at 7:52 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'd like to meet a guy like you. High ethical standards, totally articulate, not willing to break down on your values and morals, empathetic (although perhaps in a clueless, depression-fueled way) towards women, an interest in true love...

My thoughts exactly, I am totally serious. As I was reading your post, OP, I was waiting for the part where I would see why you were "personally unappealing." Instead, I found you more, and more, and more appealing. Really quite highly appealing. By the way, I'm feeling absolutely no need to blow smoke up your ass or try to make you feel better about anything, I am giving you my spontaneous and honest thoughts. I am pretty certain that if you lived in my area and I forwarded your post to any number of my single female friends, they would want to know more about you.

I suspect that your issue is one of 3 things:

1. You don't recognize it when a woman is interested in you. Or you might act in a kind of hesitant or cautious way that makes her think that *you* are not interested, so she kind of acts the same way in return.

2. You may have some kind of issue that is stopping women from being interested in you, but my stab-in-the-dark of a guess is it's more likely to be a physical issue rather than a personality issue. I actually think physical issues can be easier to fix much of the time. If you feel like you could psychologically handle having your physical appearance/presentation be critiqued, it might be worthwhile to ask someone kind of blunt about this. It might be something you have never considered, something that actually might not be that hard to change.

3. When I was growing up, I had this friend who was a bit younger than me. He was always extremely ethical. Slowly, he became more, and more, and more ethical, and kept his behavior to stricter, and stricter standards, and eventually it got to the point where he couldn't live life anymore and had a complete mental breakdown related to it. He was diagnosed with OCD and went away from school for almost a year (I think his parents had him in a combo of inpatient treatment, and outdoor/traveling programs). Ten years on, he is still pretty intense about it, but he has found a combination of strict, rules based religious practice that is compelling to him, and he is also still in therapy I believe. And he seems pretty happy. So, I know people in the thread have brought up depression, but I'd like to bring up OCD. I'm not saying you have it or I think you have it based on what you wrote, I'm just saying what you wrote sounds kind of similar to someone I knew who was diagnosed with that.

I would also like to say, having participated in a lot of "women's perspective" threads here, I have never read a single one where the takeaway message should have been "you can't approach women ever at any time without making them feel threatened, harrassed, and bothered." Not in any way. Seriously, contact anyone who participated heavily in any of those threads and ask them. That's not what the point is at all, and that's not the case for us or the reality. There are plenty of ways to approach women respectfully!
posted by cairdeas at 8:11 PM on October 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

You know, I just had this flash of insight about Ask Metafilter advice: it is so intensely CBT-influenced/commonsensical that it tends to neglect the individual's past in favor of a sort of one-size-fits-all advice. So for instance, it's very easy to give advice that actually sounds (to me at least) kind of belittling and cruel - when someone says "you are unwilling to accept that you are not Special, so you do this hurtful thing to yourself to make yourself feel special", that's very....well, it may be an apt diagnosis but it's a surface one. If it's true, the question then becomes what is it about your particular experience which gives you this desperate need to feel special, a need so deep that you'll torpedo your romantic life to achieve it? That's not something that everyone does!

There's this - I think - violent and cruel impulse in certain therapeutic mindsets, where the common trope of "you are not the only one with these problems, they are solvable" gets turned into "you think your problems make you special and unique, but really they just make you self-aggrandizing".

In therapy, as I was saying upthread, I've done a lot of talking and thinking about how I ended up as I am. Some of what I think I've figured out is pretty silly - a couple of hurtful but comparatively trivial things that happened to me when I was seven or so, for example - and much of it is fairly small potatoes compared to being beaten or sexually abused. My life isn't memoir-worthy. And yet, it's been enormously helpful to look back at those things, to bring all those memories into my contemporary consciousness. It really does rob them of much of their power, sometimes because they seem silly and sometimes because I can feel compassion for my younger self that was denied to me at the time. I really strongly urge you to think about your teen years and your childhood, try to figure out how you think of yourself now and why.

I mean, in a sense no one is special. But you're the only you that you have. In a sense, no one is the hero of their own story; no one is the hero, but you're always your own narrator. There's nothing wrong with paying careful and compassionate attention to what you feel and think.

On the therapy front: is it that you feel that paying for a therapist is wrong because it's like paying for a friend? Two thoughts: one, when you've been pretty lonely, the kind of concentrated and compassionate attention you get from a good therapist is part of the healing process. Unfortunately, under capitalism money has to be involved - but very few people are therapists because they want to get rich. People are therapists because they want to help others heal. It's an unusual relationship - it's not a friendship, but it is about compassion, a kind of closeness. (If you read science fiction or fantasy at all, you might want to read Le Guin's Always Coming Home, which isn't SF per se; the "bringing in" that is the main healing process in that book is very like therapy.) You might think of therapy as almost a collaborative artwork - it's work that you do with someone else.

Also, therapists do things for you that friends can't and that it's not fair to ask friends to do. A therapist can listen and listen and listen, and you can ask that of them; a therapist can put pressure on bad ideas that you have while a friend may feel that doing so is unsupportive.
posted by Frowner at 8:12 PM on October 16, 2012 [16 favorites]

This is how I describe being on an anti-depressant to my friends who are afraid that they will be fundamentally changed by going on meds for their depression: All the antidepressants do is create a small breathing space between me and my depression. Instead of it being all around me and constantly pressing on me, I can look at it from arms length and see it for what it is.

That's it.
posted by Brody's chum at 8:40 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think we all have a lie that we believe about ourselves and that influences us (how we act, and how others respond to us, which in turn informs how we act). Similar to what St. Alia of the Bunnies said, it sounds like you believe deeply in a lie about yourself--and the lie is some form of "I am not worthy" (of love, sex, companionship, whatever). Not only do you behave according to that lie, others likely interact with you according to that lie.

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful.

As a (late 20's single) woman, I find this part of your question particularly misinformed and illogical. There are lots of ways to approach women without annoying, harassing, or threatening them. Smile, say something, and be brief if you're worried about annoying them. I also would not characterize approaching a woman as selfish. Selfishness means not being concerned about others, and you seem overly concerned about others. (To an almost paternalistic extent--why don't you let women decide when you're annoying them rather than assuming you know which woman do and do not want to interact with you). I would practice chit-chatting. Once a therapist assigned me the homework of smiling at people on the bus and starting one conversation with a stranger. Do this with both men and women.

Your question is actually how to cope with a life of loneliness. I would suggest fighting against a life of loneliness. To deal effectively with loneliness I think you need a way to express it. Can you write letters to someone? Keep a journal? Create something. Also do something. Exercise. Join a group; you could volunteer or take a class. I think an earlier suggestion of taking a philosophy class might be especially stimulating for you. Joining a new group has the added benefit of meeting new people, about 50% of whom may be women.
posted by kochenta at 8:55 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The pieces of your post that keep getting quoted above are indeed highly melodramatic. In this you remind me of my younger brother, who's 20. No offense. I love my little brother. But he can't at 20--and you can't at 20-whatever--possibly have the kind of perspective on life y'all seem to think you do.

There are no valid "coping strategies" for life-long self-imposed exile from romance. Does that even make sense from an evolutionary perspective? Think about it. You seem like an analytical guy. Look around you. Forgive me, but look around at people. A lot of them are dumb and ugly, and obnoxious to boot. And most of them are shacked up! However horrible you think you are--and you probably actually aren't, but that's where the therapy would come in--there's someone "at your level" who's lonely too. Actually, when love works correctly, you're both wondering how you managed to score a partner who's out of your league.

I had a friend. Good guy, kind of rough around the edges though and prone to getting off on the wrong foot with people. In addition to that he was born with a crippled right arm and they had to remove his right thumb early on. He was prematurely balding by his late teens and he had a lazy eye. He also didn't smell very good. Articulate, though, like you. Genuinely a good person, like you.

During the years I knew him he dated two great women long-term. I knew them both, even introduced him to the second one. It was clear as day they both loved him desperately. Desperately!

Don't resign yourself to this at 25, man. Maybe get some therapy. Just try it on for size. Six sessions. Think of it as a social experiment. Do it because fifty people on the internet told you to. Good luck.
posted by The Minotaur at 10:19 PM on October 16, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm struck that you're convinced you have nothing to offer a woman yet you don't want to take antidepressants because they might take away your creativity. Are you creative? How so? Creativity is a huge turn on for some people.

What's not a turn on is being self-deprecating to the point where it turns to pity. You are protesting way too much about how no one will ever find you attractive and if you're putting off that general vibe then it's not hard to understand why you're lacking in intimacy.

There's not a single answer above that isn't spot on, so this is another one chipping in to say that your attitude is toxic, you sound depressed, and you need to stop thinking about how you'll never find a partner and do something about it. Despite the fact that I found your question annoying for constructing an argument for why you suck and then basically asking how to deal with people thinking you suck, you also sound like you're smart and thoughtful, which is the general consensus of the other folks here.

Also, throwing it out there, Quirkyalone is a really cool movement and I think you may find yourself aligned with aspects of it. Some people remain alone/celibate and it's definitely normal to masturbate a lot. Now that I'm in a relationship, I don't get the chance to do so or have sex nearly as often as I masturbated when single. Relationships take up a lot of time and once the honeymoon period is over, most of the time you're not having sex. So that's one bonus to being single, you're gonna have the healthy release of an orgasm way more. (It shouldn't be something you assume is shameful as long as it's not interfering with other aspects of your life and you keep in mind that if you do meet someone that only having porn to go one presents issues I'm sure you're aware of.)

Lastly, tons of people feel or have felt the way you feel, including me. I think you're way more normal than you can imagine.
posted by thesocietyfor at 10:22 PM on October 16, 2012

Well, for coping-with-celibacy I'd recommend a lot of vigorous exercise, deep friendships, eating right, sunlight, reading novels, having pets. But like pretty much 99% of the other commenters I think you are kind of selling yourself short here. It is NOT unethical to express romantic interest in a woman, and there may well be someone out there for you. Mid-twenties is too young to admit defeat.
posted by feets at 10:47 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Take what works for you from this and leave the rest.

I was very afraid of loneliness for a long time, and the fear fucked up my head much more than being alone or feeling lonely did. Being alone and feeling lonely are two quite different things, both unavoidable. Being alone is necessary and although some people only tolerate it, some of us find it relaxing, safe, pleasant. Feeling lonely, isolated, is painful, but like grief or anger, it's tolerable with context, management, distraction, and occasional relief, plus the usual advice not to let yourself get too hungry, tired, or bored.

My strategies
Context: Don't frame this in terms of a lifetime of loneliness. Even pleasures sound kind of awful when you put them in those terms. That's why addicts and alcoholics endorse "one day at a time" - anything is daunting if you look at it as a lifetime commitment, and it's unrealistic because that's not how you encounter things anyway. You'll encounter your "lifetime" of loneliness exactly as you would a "lifetime" of companionship: one moment at a time, with the possibility of unexpected change present in the next moment.

Management: Cultivate an appreciation of your own company. If you catch yourself being unpleasant to yourself (running yourself down, for example), rein it in. Explore activities that can be enjoyed alone - keep trying new things, and don't be embarrassed or performance-oriented, because no one will know. Reading, painting, photography, knitting, fishing, bicycling, journalling, scrapbooking, tatting, modelbuilding, screenprinting, geocaching, hiking, rock-climbing, collecting things, fine art forgery, woodcutting, gardening, machining, robot-making, star-gazing, WHATEVER. Try new things. Figure out what you like, and do those things. You say you are creative - continuing to expand your creative expression makes life richer.

Distraction and relief: Cultivate friends and do stuff with them. You don't have to do it in that order, either. You can figure out some stuff you like to do that requires other people, arrange to do that stuff regularly, and cultivate some of the people you meet whose presence is especially pleasant. Do your best to establish some variety in the extent of those friendships, over time, because everyone has many social needs; it's commonly and wrongly believed that the best way to meet those needs is to identify a single socially and sexually compatible friend whose company is preferable to that of all others. Some do have such a person in their lives, but there are major trade-offs involved (often including letting some of those needs go unmet). Leaving that aside, friendships have a variable natural lifespan, so it's good to keep working on new ones. (I still have a very hard time with that, myself.)
posted by gingerest at 11:18 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Two summers back I had this brainstorm that I thought might help me deal with my own awkwardness with women. I was involved in a couple Meetup groups that had several nice women as regular members. On average they were fifteen years younger than I, and I didn't feel that I had a lot to offer them, so dating probably wasn't a possibility, but I enjoyed their company as casual friends within a larger group. It was a big improvement on my mostly isolated lifestyle. So I thought since dating and relationships had always seemed like such a reach I won't even think about dating and relationships anymore, I'll just have these pleasant attractive women friends without any of the baggage and expectations. I told a couple others of my conclusion but they just didn't seem to get it, told me that I was kidding myself, which surprised me, because I thought my new approach was perfect, genius really. Problem was, life for other people moved on while I was trying to play safe, and about as soon as I reached my decision all these people in the group starting pairing off. Since they were now investing their energies in their new relationships, less activity as a group happened, I saw much less often these female friends that I was relying on to fill this big void, and I felt left out once again.

There's no strategy for living a life closed to possibility. You can't turn off the desire to feel important to someone else.
posted by TimTypeZed at 11:23 PM on October 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Such great answers in this thread!

I think my situation has paradoxically given me a perspective on women that many men my age lack (or else my capacity for empathy is growing with age). I spend a lot of time reading anything I can find about relationships, how women experience the world, and how people like me are generally perceived.

This is me, giving you a hug.

From someone who has been there - this is a real, real positive of spending a large part of your young adulthood single and not something that should be sneezed at.

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful.

Look, you seem aware enough to know what is an acceptable way of approaching a woman and what is unacceptable. A friendly smile and a 'how are you' is not selfish or harmful, at the very least you'll improve her day.

With all due respect, all this is broken head-logic and indicative of very poor self-esteem. Unfortunately, poor self-esteem is a turn-off and it's probably that that is making women not respond as you would wish. Not your so-called 'ordinariness' (really, do you think that only models have sex?)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and I hope you do), is forget about the sex-matter for the time being, go to a therapist (see the excellent answers above on how therapy is NOT the exchange of intimacy for money and in fact exactly what you need), and work on fixing this. Listen, dude. Everyone deserves love. You are not some sort of freak, whom any right-thinking woman would run away from screaming. Quite apart from anything else, the thoughtfulness and morals demonstrated in the question indicate to me at least that you are a catch.

I'm not saying that as soon as you feel better about yourself, you'll be having sex with lots of people. I mean, you might do. But once you learn to like yourself better, the sex-thing will not matter. A lot of people live through their lives without a partner, I personally know many people who have not been in relationships for years (some, for as long as I have known them) - and they are all whole, happy, busy people. Sex does not equal happiness.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:13 AM on October 17, 2012

Yeah, based on what you've written, I don't see what it is that would be unappealing about you to women. But that's not the point. If you truly are resigned to your life at 25 (25!! Do you know how young this is?) then you're going to have to keep very, very busy. Because I don't think lack of sex is the biggest problem for you right now, though it probably feels pretty urgent because people get horny and all that. But loneliness is a harder thing to deal with.

If you really, really are resigned to this (at 25!!) then filling your life until it's so full you don't have time to think about how lonely you are will help. Volunteer, work, pursue creative interests or hobbies, get a pet, volunteer, be an active member of your community, spend more time with your family, volunteer, work on your friendships, and so on. With sex I find it's easier not to think about it if you stop thinking about. And by that I mean: do the things you're doing so you aren't lonely AND stop masturbating. For some people mastubation helps; for others, it can make you want sex more. Try quitting masturbating and see if it helps you to stop thinking about sex so much.

Saying all that, you are only 25! I don't know what your life has been, I don't know what your experiences have been, but just because all women aren't attracted to you--just because every woman you've ever approached isn't attracted to you--does not mean that every woman is not attracted to you. And if you decide that you don't want to be resigned to a life without a romantic relationship, you'd want to look at the women you're interested in (are your standards unrealistic) and how you're approaching them (are you actually approaching them?).
posted by Polychrome at 2:33 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Anonymous, I realise that none of us are really answering your question, but that's because it is flawed in its premise. You are applying statistical probability to something ruled by chaos theory.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

If you're never happy, then everything you've tried so far has not worked and you need to try some radically new solutions. Not more of the same, not variations on old themes, but actually new stuff you have not before tried. Like therapy.
posted by prefpara at 3:55 AM on October 17, 2012

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful.

Others have told you how flawed this logic is, so I won't do that again. I am intrigued as to what you mean by 'ethical' in this context, especially coupled with 'basically any reason'. I'm in a relationship but I talk to men every day - in my office, on the phone, sometimes on the train or at the bus stop, friends of friends. I remember well how irritating it is to be single, strike up a conversation with someone who happens to be male, and them presuming it means I'm hitting on them and dropping in irrelevant mentions of girlfriends. Most of the time, though, men and women talking has no sexual or romantic element whatsoever, and probably having few women around you will make them seem less like people and more like a mysterious Other which you can't talk to like everyone else. How do you get on with your friends' girlfriends?
posted by mippy at 4:52 AM on October 17, 2012

Dude, you're totally painting yourself into a corner. You say it's for moral reasons but really it sounds like you are avoiding confronting the messiness and hurt of vulnerability.

Somewhere out there is a woman - women - who might be really happy to meet someone like you. What's your moral code on denying her that possibility?

I think you yourself are probably fine. You are probably just missing some tools. Lots of us are missing tools. Therapy can help you with this. Joining social groups, observing, and working on connecting with people can help with this too.

Read Dan Savage's piece of getting the future you laid.

Listen to the Brene Brown Ted talk on vulnerability.

Call a therapist and make an appointment.

Post your online dating profile here and let us help you with it.
posted by bunderful at 5:06 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, feets' advice to exercise is a great idea. Work out hard. Celibate or no, it'll exorcise a lot of anxiety and gradually mellow you out over time.
posted by ignignokt at 5:11 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's a whole lot of great advice in this thread.

The idea that you're somehow globally unappealing, or that the odds are against you, &c, has already been addressed, so I won't add to that.

However I will say that if I had to pick *one* thing you're doing wrong, it would be this.

First you make this statement:

"In fact, I think my situation has paradoxically given me a perspective on women that many men my age lack (or else my capacity for empathy is growing with age). I spend a lot of time reading anything I can find about relationships, how women experience the world, and how people like me are generally perceived."

And you follow it with this statement:

"I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high"

So basically, you think women would see you as a harasser if you tried to interact with them in person. That really makes this statement:

"I'm not angry about it."

a lot less credible, since the attitude "I'd ask you out but if I did you'd have a go at me" is often one I've encountered from angry men.

I grant you that most of them are really angry at themselves and are projecting their feelings of unworthiness onto women; you really do have superior insight when you acknowledge that the source of the problem is you. You are definitely unlike other angry guys (TM) in that respect.

But you've constructed a system of thinking whereby you can't be helped, it's unethical to do any of the things which might help you (I agree with you about the prostitution thing btw), and the only thing you can do is cope. Anything we say to you short of "here's how you cope", you probably have an answer for, because you just can't be understood by normal humans.

The problem is, you don't cope. This is not a situation that can be coped with. You have nowhere to go from here except addressing the problem. According to you, your problem is that you are so uniquely repulsive that you can't fix your situation using the same problem-solving tools the rest of us use. At this point we would all say "therapy!" Maybe you could hold your nose and just try it?
posted by tel3path at 6:47 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Please memail me. I would like to discuss this with you confidentially.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 7:05 AM on October 17, 2012

Also, do you see yourself in this description written by another mefite at all? Could any of the "needs to work on" items apply to you?
posted by TestamentToGrace at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2012

At this point in my life I don't believe that it's ethical for me to approach a woman in real life for basically any reason, because the likelihood that she will feel annoyed/harassed/threatened by me is so high and can't be reconciled with the very low probability that she'll respond positively, making any such action on my part selfish and harmful. Over the past few years I've relegated myself to only seeking companionship over the internet, where my advances can be easily ignored and present only a minor inconvenience, but as I mentioned above, nothing has ever come of it, regardless of how much effort I invest, or how positive and happy I pretend to be.

I've been thinking about this bit, which reminds me of some of my other bad thought processes. Here's an interpretation (which may not be correct, but then again may be.):

1. You're a guy with a conscience and a lot of emphasis on reading, analysis, preparing yourself for situations, understanding what the other person has experienced and thinks about. So you want to know about relationships and women, and you read some books! You're a guy with a conscience, so you read some feminist books. (I mean, it sounds like you're reading at least vaguely feminist books.)

2. You're also a guy with low self-esteem and not too much romantic experience to counter-balance it. So you tend to assume that if there's a bad thing out there to do, you'll end up doing it.

3. Because you're very thinky, you also understand that, for real, you probably will fuck some stuff up. And that you probably will accidentally occasionally act like a little bit of a sexist entitled creeper, because you grew up in a society that teaches guys to be that way. That really will happen.

3.5 Because you aren't living in a feminist community of women and other radicals, you don't have the social perspective that lets you both be self-critical/self-aware and keep all that stuff in proportion instead of thinking "I am the worst person ever and if I approach a woman that is practically like punching her in the face while screaming PUA negs at her!" This is actually a difficult balance to strike - if you're privileged in a given situation, it's hard to be appropriately self-aware and yet not tip over into self-hatred or self-righteousness. (Although self-righteousness doesn't seem to be your problem.)

4. When you put 3, 3.5 and 4 together, you get paralysis and self-hatred!

5. But because no one wants to feel like they're a terrible person - particularly for things they are only likely to do, or for systems that they are fighting but were born into - you also feel a little bit crabby and resentful. Plus, you feel like both your character and your ethics prevent you from having a relationship! A relationship! The most ordinary thing in the world - a thing that openly sexist jackasses who don't bother to read books can have! So you feel bad. Maybe you even feel bad for feeling bad! (That's how it works for me.)

6. So you write to Ask Metafilter. This is good and healthy, because it suggests that you have a healthy and natural urge to be happy and to be alive and to not hate yourself. Good!

I mean, I still struggle with squaring that particular circle - my own thinky thoughts are about something else, but I feel like the process might be similar.

The things that have helped me are that "narrating my life" thing that I do in therapy and in writing and being compassionate with myself. I know that I am a reasonably self-aware and reasonably self-critical person. I know that for the most part, even if I do something dumb by mistake, it is shiningly obvious to people that it was by mistake, and it's usually pretty small, and I am 100% willing to apologize/make amends. I know that I am not the same as someone who romps through life blithely doing [the bad things that I worry about], even if I still need to be self aware and self critical.

Allowing myself to think "I am not actually a terrible person who is ideologically committed to [Bad Thing] so I don't have to hate myself and constantly keep myself in check" has been a big project for me, something I work on constantly. It's okay to want to be alive and be happy and to not spend every waking moment thinking "I am so loathsome that I must keep myself away from other people because I am Hurting Them With My Very Presence because People Like Me Are Terrible By Definition". Show yourself some compassion.
posted by Frowner at 7:17 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]

When you manage expectations down past the floor past the basement past the mantle of the earth and into a pit of despair, then you are kind of just going to end up hanging out in a pit of despair.

There is no audience for the kind of martyr you are turning yourself into, so there is really no point if you can't figure out how to enjoy it yourself. Sell out and hope a tiny bit for things that you want. Try like everyone else.

You can do it. It is worth it.
posted by skrozidile at 7:38 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I’m 38, when I was 25 my situation was very, very similar to yours. My luck with women was 0, I was pretty much convinced that I was unattractive, not that great a person, and that I was doomed to be alone. I wanted intimacy desperately, and my failure to obtain it was a constant source of angst. I was depressed. Here’s how I turned myself around (a lot of this has already been said):

1. I started seeing a therapist. Self-loathing is not an attractive quality. My depression shaded all of my actions and interactions. There are usually organizations that offer therapy on a sliding scale, even free. Ask around, you’ll find one.

2. I started exercising and watching my diet. To this day I still hate doing that, but losing 30 pounds and getting in shape is good for a billion reasons.

3. I shaved my head (I started balding at 18), figured out some facial hair that worked for me, and got a funky pair of glasses. Strangely turned a blech face into one that women actually found intriguing (I still don’t truly believe it, but the empirical evidence backs it up). Point is, a decent haircut can do wonders.

4. I learned to dress better – very few guys seem to focus on this, especially among the techies, so this is a way one can really distinguish himself – it’s shocking what a sport coat and a funky pair of sneakers can do for a look.

5. I focused on the things I was interested in, and made me happy. I wrote a novel (never published, but it was the accomplishment that gave me confidence). I travelled a lot (travel gives tons of time for introspection, broadens your view of the world, makes you interesting).

6. I volunteered, which made me feel good about myself and improved my self-worth. It also let me meet some really cool people. (Look for an organization like New York Cares or something in the Hands On Network).

7. I changed how I viewed dating. A date is an opportunity to meet someone and get to know them, that’s it. This person may end up being your friend, may end up being an acquaintance, may teach you something you never knew and then disappear into the ether. If you go into dates with the idea that this will lead to love or be a failure, then 99.9% of your dates will be failures, and that’s just depressing.

8. I figured out how to interact with women on an actual, rather than theoretical level. This involved me embarrassing myself, a lot. There were probably 100, or 1000, interactions that were more awkward than they should have been, but had I not done that I wouldn’t have become much more confident and pleasant in the following 1000 interactions. The only way to get better at interacting with people is to interact with people.

9. I threw myself whole-hearted into dating. I found OK Cupid to be an excellent dating site. Yes, there’s an almost constant flow of rejection, but once you accept that rejection isn’t about you, it’s ok. (Here’s the thought experiment – has there ever been a woman who might have been interested in you, but you just weren’t attracted to for some reason? There was nothing wrong with her, she just wasn’t right for you. She wasn’t a bad person, you just weren’t that into her. So, reverse that and it doesn’t feel so bad.)

Anyway, for the past decade or so I’ve led a pretty interesting life, I’ve made some amazing friends, and I’ve gotten to a place where I’m quite happy. And about 6 months ago I got engaged to the woman of my dreams. It took about 13 years to find her, but it’s not like I was sitting around like a potted plant, and the pay-off was totally worth it.
posted by rkriger at 8:35 AM on October 17, 2012 [20 favorites]

One thing I wanted to add to my post (I brushed on it, but I didn't say it). Let's talk about being interesting.

First, go watch some of those Most Interesting Man In The World spots on Youtube. Hang with me, just do it.

Now, the way they are pitched is he's inherently interesting, like it's an in-born character trait, which seems like a belief you have (and a lot of people share). However, if you watch the ads, what is he doing? He's going out and he's meeting people and he's doing things. Even when he's at home, he has a pet mountain lion, and you know that has A Story behind it, because one just doesn't go down to the Mountain Lion Store and purchase it as an accessory. Likewise, one doesn't wind up exploring a cave in eveningwear or competing in the Olympics or talking to a bunch of monks or going down a ski-jump from the safety of one's own home or from the safety of one's emotional shell.

He puts himself out there and has experiences and that, you'll find, is what makes people interesting. And what's great about our world today is so many experiences are available to you. Sure, you may not go waltzing with royalty, but you can still shoot a machine gun or jump out of a plane or go to Thailand or write a novel or visit an emu farm or read The Necronomicon (heck, you can get that off Amazon) or ride in a submarine or eat bugs. If you want to learn a cool skill, I bet a community college near you offers one. Mine offers motorcycle riding, welding, jewelrymaking, and all sorts of things. And it's that willingness to go out and try things that will make you interesting and give you interesting experiences.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Other than the pervasive self-loathing that comes across in your post, I'll nth the observation that I don't see anything particularly "personally unappealing" about you based on what you wrote. I'd bet a tidy sum that your present lack of relationship experience comes down to mundane bad luck more than anything else.

You don't sound like a bad guy, and you need to stop beating yourself up for being human. Wanting companionship is normal, and while nobody "owes" you a relationship or sex or attention, unless you literally smell like the inside of a dumpster and go around kicking puppies for fun, there are absolutely other people out there who would be delighted to make your acquaintance/date you/hang out with you/etc. It's just a matter of finding them.

And, yeah, when you're somewhat of an unusual person (whether due to a particular code of ethics, or an atypical set of interests, or uncommon hobbies, or disinterest in "cultural default" activities like the bar/party scene) it IS harder to find people you're compatible with. And I don't think pretending this isn't true does anyone any favors.

What does help, though, is finding ways to engage with your interests in places/settings where you're likely to encounter other people. Of course you can't expect this to lead to instant dates (or even dating prospects), but by being around people, you tend to get to know people, and those people could end up knowing other people who they could introduce you get the idea. You refer to "creativity", "passion", and "things [you] value"...these are GREAT starting points in looking for opportunities to meet people, even if it's just on message boards or similar at the beginning.

I can't speak for everyone, of course, but I find it *immensely* intriguing/appealing to encounter people who are obviously very "into" what they're doing, whether that be art, or photography, or woodworking or what-have-you. E.g., I sincerely find it ridiculously attractive when my partner (who, by the way, I didn't meet until my 20s) starts talking about the technical specifications of cool machine-shop equipment he's looking at adding to our garage, or when he's explaining measurement tolerances, etc. Of course I find the subject matter interesting in its own right, but the attractive component stems from the fact of how clearly caught up he is in something cool he's doing/working on. You don't say what your interests are in your OP, but I can pretty much guarantee you that whatever they are, there's someone out there who would very much appreciate your passion for them.

Also, this is sort of "out of left field", but...presuming you don't live somewhere with a pet restriction, have you considered maybe getting a dog? Not only would dog-walking be a great way to potentially meet people, it would be an awesome opportunity for you to "get out of your head" a bit. Moreover, as a female-type person who is generally of the surly-and-introverted persuasion (especially in public) I've noted that, for whatever reason, people with dogs register in my brain as "less likely to be creepy" when I pass them on the sidewalk, etc. I can't explain why this is...maybe it's because, if the dog seems happy, I figure the dog's human must be treating them well, and is therefore probably not a jerk? Either way, I can pretty much guarantee you that you WILL get approached by other humans, some of them likely women, if you take up dog-walking. So if you're in an okay position to do that, it'd probably be worth a try.
posted by aecorwin at 10:45 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Even though your entire narrative was focused on the dating thing, I'm going to ignore it and try to only address your direct question: how to cope with a life of loneliness?

The "simple" answer is generally to keep yourself busy... the less time you spend simply sitting around and noting the lack of someone next to you because you're actively doing things, the less time you spend feeling lonely. At your age, and in your state, this is the time you can try hobbies, travel, take on personal projects -- basically try out things that perhaps only mildly interest you. Keep yourself busy, and expand your experiences. Do the kinds of things you would have difficulty doing if attached and/or child-laden.

A more complex answer is to have purpose... is the world a better place because you are here? Even if it's your "fate" to be alone, is that any reason you can't help make things better for the people around you? From high level stuff like volunteering for charity (*whispers* which is a great way to meet people), to just making sure your family and friends have a little helping hand when they could use it, ensuring that when you feel bad that you can look in the mirror and know your life isn't a complete waste can help keep a lonely feeling from descending into full-blown depression.

(and the dirty secret of all this is that the more you do, the more "interesting" you become, and as such... you never know what will happen)
posted by Pufferish at 11:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing therapy. If only to get a "second opinion" of your worldview from someone who has met you and isn't an online advice giver. It may be that you need help figuring out how to navigate social interactions, but have not had it. I have a friend who has a similar outlook on life as you, and while he's an average ordinary guy, it's not his ordinariness that is causing him to miss out on social relationships. It's because he is not very good at navigating social situations, and is very very hard on himself in a way that is awkward to be around. Being friends with him is just harder than being friends with other people, but that's not a reflection of his value as a person.

That said, on being alone. Learn to re-focus. Eat lunch with a book or podcast you are interested in. Fill your time with hobbies or pets. Take walks to get out, get exercise, and let your brain wander and think - not about loneliness - but about the moment you're in, the weather, the buildings. Use your time alone and make it worth something to you. When you feel yourself dwelling on being alone, STOP DIGGING YOURSELF IN and turn your mind elsewhere. At several points in my life, due to some circumstance, I've been very isolated for months, even a year (which I realize is not a lifetime), and finding ways to usefully occupy my brain with thoughts other than being alone helped me. Dwelling on how lonely you are is a habit you may be able to force your brain out of. Find things that make you happy and do those things. It may lead to meeting people, and eventually a partner, or it may not, but you will be happier when you're doing things for yourself, people can usually pick up on that. Don't let "Will I meet her here?" be the thing that controls "Did I enjoy my day/event/outing?"
posted by nile_red at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thinking about this some more, probably because I could have written much of this at 26.

Honestly, I've been single for about 95% of my life. I was a late bloomer, and it took me a long time to enter the dating field and I'm still struggling with the long term relationship stuff.

There are times when this has been a source of big angst. There were some Friday nights spent googling "loneliness," until my therapist pointed out that this was wallowing. I'm still single, but it's no longer so painful and difficult. It's complicated to explain exactly why, but mostly I've worked on addressing my mental health (partly through therapy) and also on just having fun. If I spend 2 or 3 nights a week hanging out with friends, going to an interesting class, or volunteering, then by the time I do get a night at home alone it's an awesome chance to read a book or play interactive fiction or draw. Or, um, surf metafilter.

I've also learned to recognize when my thoughts start to wander down Self Pity Lane, and nip that in the bud. That mental path could be:

Friday night and I'm alone > I haven't seen anyone all week > I'm feeling lonely > Something must be wrong with me > Maybe I'll never meet anyone > Probably because I suck ... etc

But it could also be:
Friday night and I'm alone > I haven't seen anyone all week > I'm feeling lonely > Hm, maybe I should invite some people over for chess or sign up for that improv class. Meantime this is a chance to try out that new bar/read that book. (Strategy: Cope with present loneliness - work to prevent future loneliness).

Even if you remain single for the rest of your life, which is highly doubtful, life can still be well-lived and full of connection, friendship and family.

One last piece of advice: Make friends. Make female friends who are not just friends because you are friends with their partners. Maybe you've already done this, but if not I think it will really help. Not that you should do this with a plan to date these women, but because friendships with the other gender are important and can help you gain some perspective. Friendships with men have helped me a lot.
posted by bunderful at 4:11 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

From the OP:
Thank you, so much, for all your advice. I've read every comment in this thread, more than once, and many of your analyses are incredibly accurate. I can't say that I've completely changed my beliefs as a result, but you've at least made me realize that my reservations about therapy are probably pretty baseless. I will try it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:22 PM on October 17, 2012 [14 favorites]

For the OP, that's great news. A good way to find a decent therapist is to ask your primary care physician for a recommendation, or ask friends or family if you're comfortable talking with them about that. I've also just gone off the list of insurance approved therapists and that's worked out. If you don't hit it off with your therapist, don't despair, just look for someone new -- they won't be offended. You may find you're more comfortable talking to a man, or a woman. (It's likely you'll find someone pretty easily, putting people at ease is part of their job after all, all I'm saying is, if for some reason it doesn't work out at first, don't give up).

Good luck!
posted by rkriger at 6:44 AM on October 18, 2012

This AskMe could've been written by me ten years ago when I was in my mid-twenties.

I'm glad to see you're considering finding a therapist—please find a good one with whom you're comfortable sharing these feeling. It worked wonders for me, and I don't think I'd have met Mrs. Vandelay if I hadn't.
posted by Arthur Vandelay at 4:34 PM on October 18, 2012

I skimmed through most of the responses, so forgive me if I'm repeating any of them. Also, I see that you responded and think it's great you're considering therapy.

From personal experience, I think it's just cyclical. I lost my virginity at 21 (re: had sex ONCE) and then didn't again until I was 25. From about 16-21 and especially 21-25 I lived in a constant state of anxiety, wondering if I'd meet someone who would "understand" my lack of experience, who would be patient with me and not pressure me. I convinced myself this person probably didn't exist and in turn, my unhappiness and desperation was outward and probably a huge turn off without me really knowing it or taking ownership of it.

I was in and out of therapy from 19 on and while it did help to talk about it, it wasn't a cure-all. I'm a huge advocate of therapy, but I did find myself coming in week after week, month after month not feeling like my problems were really being "solved", when in fact, discussing other things was helping me improve myself and therefore becoming more approachable and a little less worrisome. I think some would argue therapy is a lifelong process.

I was also on anti-anxiety meds, which at the time, were really helpful. I had to try a few out before I found the right one, so if you do find yourself taking something and it doesn't seem right, try something else.

Anyway, I guess my point is (which is what I think lots of others were saying) is that being alone is making you depressed which is making you more alone. You don't have to accept loneliness as future tense or your destiny. You do have to learn to cope with being alone TODAY since that is in fact, what you are.

I'd say, just try to enjoy the potential each day brings, try and do ONE thing that at least puts a smile on your face, even if that's just playing the same song over and over again extremely loud or ordering something different at the coffee shop. Don't be a slave to a future you can't predict and don't let it shape how you're feeling right now.

I know, way easier said then done, but I remember being 25 and wondering if I was going to die alone and what would I do if I was still a virgin at 30 or 40 or death. And that didn't help ANYthing.

Please know many people are in your same position and chances are, "it"'ll just happen for you.

Best of luck.
posted by patientpatient at 9:28 PM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Cross border independent consulting- how's it work...   |   Help me not ruin my shoes so fast! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.