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February 18, 2006 6:49 PM   Subscribe

How can I get over my confidence issues and find a girlfriend (or boyfriend) in Ft. Wayne, Indiana?

Although there are people who care for me, like the person posting this question, and people in town with whom I sometimes go out and consume alcohol, I have still managed to convince myself that I am unattractive and have no friends.

I'm not physically unattractive but sometimes I sorta have a bad attitude. I like to talk about how I'm gonna kill myself because nobody loves me and I'll never find a girlfriend and I'll never lose my virginity and stuff like that. So, how can I turn my life around? By the way I don't want to go to college. Also if enough people seem interested, maybe I will post a pic. Seriously though, I am both cute and clever but just too cranky and shy and I have myself convinced I suck when really I don't. How do I get over this?

By the way, how unusual is it for a 21 year old boy to be a virgin?
posted by thirteenkiller to Human Relations (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Pretend.

No. Seriously. Pretend.

I posted about this in another thread on AskMe, but it bears repeating:

A normal if not "slightly less than average" looking guy worked for a magazine, and was always annoyed at how "easy" it was for "hot guys" to get dates all the time, and how hard it was for him.

A little unscientific but still valid study was done. He and a "hot" guy were given simple instructions and sent out several times to follow them:

Go to a cool bar, find a table of attractive girls with an open seat, and open with "Hi, my name is [name], mind if I sit down?"

The normal guy and the good looking "ladies man" guy both followed these instructions, and both had roughly the same level of success at getting numbers and dates. It was something like 9 rejections for every 1 number/date for both guys.

The upshot of it all was this: good looking guys have the confidence to talk to girls and ask them out, and also the resilience to just go try another if rejected.

"The road to success is paved with failure" is a very true statement.


Beyond just saying "get out there and TRY already" - I do need to get back to my initial advice: Pretend.

Feign confidence (not arrogance, but confidence). Seriously, just do it. You aren't lying, because soon once you realize that girls actually like you when you're not all down on yourself and talking about how you'll be a virgin forever -- that confidence will become real.

Nobody likes it when guys talk about how they'll always be a virgin, or how nobody loves them or their life sucks. Girls turn tail and run the second they hear that stuff. They want a guy who's got some self confidence, and you portray a complete and utter lack thereof.

I'm not suggesting you talk about how awesome you are, and keep repeating "I'm soo cool" in conversations.

While some may disagree with the ethics of this, something that might help: Define one weekend as "social experiment weekend", and tell yourself you're going to talk to cute girls and not give a rat's ass if they reject you, because you don't even know them enough to be interested in their personality ANYWAY, so who cares. You must follow through with this and HONESTLY not care - don't go out looking for a date, just go out looking to talk to girls.

You'll find that by introducing yourself by name, and holding a little conversation, you'll do a lot better than you thought. Build up your confidence, and then go get that date!

I do not recommend online dating for someone like you who seems to be a bit inexperienced with meeting girls, and who seems to lack self confidence. All this will do is allow you a crutch, and allow you to continue to avoid learning how to meet people naturally - a skill that will pay off BIG TIME later on in life, not just in dating but in the workplace.
posted by twiggy at 7:04 PM on February 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's not at all unusual for someone your age to be a virgin, no matter what our sex-saturated culture tells you.

As for confidence, confidence comes with practice. You have no practice, so you have no confidence. Start with baby steps-ask that cute girl if she'd let you buy her coffee. You aren't asking her to undress you so she can mock your ugly, naked, virginal body in public; you're asking her if she'd like to spend a little time with you having coffee. She doesn't even know that you're a virgin. You're just some guy asking her to have coffee.

Stop talking about killing yourself, you don't mean it. You're desperately lonely and painfully shy, not suicidal.

Relationships take effort-whether it's friendship, amorous, or both. You admit to having a bad attitude; that's all in your head. Work on that. Nothing breeds success like success. You get over it by taking that first little step, no matter how small it is. If you can't even bring yourself to ask a girl to let you buy her a latte, try to crack a joke with someone cute in line at the grocery store. That will make you feel good enough to get on the next step in the ladder. And put a lot more effort into your friends, or as you call them "people who care for me and people in town who I sometimes consume alcohol with". You would like a girl (or guy) to be your girlfriend, to take her clothes off and let you put your cock inside her, but you don't want to commit to your friends even to the extent of acknowledging that they're friends? Believe me, they're you're friends, you just won't let yourself accept it.

You get what you give in life. Throw yourself into life as much as you can bear to, even if it's uncomfortable and you feel foolish. Very importantly, take an active interest in your care and appearance if you don't already. Make sure that you look good, and you will feel good-not only because you look good in the mirror, but because it feels good to take good care of yourself. By the way, for some reason girls notice your shoes. Don't ask me why.

Finally, it's not the kiss of death to be a virgin. Whoever the lucky girl is who takes yours, make sure she knows it, because she will consider it incredibly romantic and special.

You're not unworthy of love and affection. Society is not conspiring to deny you a girlfriend and make you a virgin. If the average meathead shmoe you see at the sports bar is getting some pussy, surely it can't be that hard-and it isn't.

Here's something for you to think about: very often, people who are wallowing in their own misery do it because they have somehow come to enjoy wallowing in their misery. Consider that. Isn't it fun to get attention by saying "I'll kill myself, I have problems no one else has, I'm still a virgin, blah blah blah"? Every time you complain about your life instead of doing something about it, and someone responds to you with sympathy, they are rewarding you in a small, meaningless way-but a way that your brain notices. You're training yourself to enjoy it. Snap out of it. What you would really enjoy is someone to love and make love to. You're wasting time; these are the best years of your life.
posted by evariste at 7:12 PM on February 18, 2006


i think if you're talking about killing yourself to people, then counseling would be a good idea for you ... it doesn't seem as if you feel good about yourself and it doesn't seem as if you value yourself ... and i think that being a virgin or being lonely is not your only problem

i suggest you consider having a talk with a professional about it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:18 PM on February 18, 2006


A friend of mine just started taking anti-depressants. Now he feels like he could just go up to any girl and ask them out, and not feel bad. The personality changes in him are, quite frankly shocking.

Seriously if you want a "quick fix" try antidepressants.

I've always thought they were a good idea, but seeing them in action first hand is really amazing.

Also, try lowering your standards.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 PM on February 18, 2006


Another thing you could try is working out, losing weight and building up muscles. Not only will it make you more appealing to girls in general, it will also help boost your confidence, and simple exercise will make you less depressed (although my friend worked out a lot and it didn't help him. For me excersize and losing weight have made me totally un-depressed, it's like I'm on anti-depressants even though I'm not).

There no reason why you should be feeling bad like that. Fix up (or try to fix up) your personality and life, and the rest will fall into place.

IMO.
posted by delmoi at 7:23 PM on February 18, 2006


To add to delmoi's point about exercise: consider cardio.
posted by evariste at 7:25 PM on February 18, 2006


http://www.psychologymatters.org/exercise.html
Exercise was a beneficial antidepressant both immediately and over the long term.
Although exercise decreased depression among all populations studied, it was most effective in decreasing depression for those most physically and/or psychologically unhealthy at the start of the exercise program.
Although exercise significantly decreased depression across all age categories, the older people were (the ages ranged from eleven to fifty-five), the greater the decrease in depression with exercise.
Exercise was an equally effective antidepressant for both genders.
Walking and jogging were the most frequent forms of exercise that had been researched, but all modes of exercise examined, anaerobic as well as aerobic, were effective in lessening depression at least to some degree.
The greater the length of the exercise program and the larger the total number of exercise sessions, the greater the decrease in depression with exercise.
The most powerful antidepressant effect occurred with the combination of exercise and psychotherapy.

<snip>

Both individual experiments and general findings repeatedly point to the power of exercise in the treatment of clinical depression. Other studies indicate that exercise can be important in the treatment of various types of anxiety; issues of self-esteem; weight loss and weight loss management; and addictions. Research is emerging on the effectiveness of exercise in the maintenance of cognitive or mental functioning and the treatment of serious mental illness.
posted by evariste at 7:29 PM on February 18, 2006


This will sound harsh (Probably because it is), but get over yourself.
Seriously.
Read over your post, count the Is, mes, mys.
You have flaws, yeah.
You have good points, yeah.
Shut up about them.
See someone you like, sit down across the table from them, and listen to what they have to say about themselves. Self-deprecation can be an endearing quality, but you've gone into self-pity/self-hate. Stop sabotaging potential relationships by scaring people off.*

*Sorry about the tone, but I could have written this post not too long ago. If I could travel in time, I would kick my younger self's ass far wasting so much time.

And I didn't have sex 'til I was 24, if that helps.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:39 PM on February 18, 2006


If you are actually suicidal, seek professional help, pronto. If you're not, drop the woe-is-me, I'm-filled-with-ennui, I'll-kill-myself shtick, pronto. It's tedious at 21; it's gonna be downright social kryptonite in your 30s. Trust me.

Also, in addition to confidence, one thing thing that people find attractive in others is when they have their own pursuits, hobbies, opinions, aspirations, etc. -- and take an interest in others' pursuits as well. In short: do stuff, and ask people about the stuff they do. Whether its music or bowling or camping or traveling or dancing or whatever, when you find something engaging, you'll find other people to engage with.
posted by scody at 7:40 PM on February 18, 2006


Smile, ask people questions about themselves and listen to there answers. This takes away from the pressure of thinking of things to say and gives other people a chance to do something they probably love -- talk about themselves. If you can try and forget about meeting people to have sex with them, instead try and focus on making new friends having fun.
posted by kechi at 7:50 PM on February 18, 2006


I totally agree with Scody, and have this to add:
figure out the qualities you like and admire in other people (real or fictional), start cultivating those qualities in yourself, and chances are you'll find that you're actually meeting those types of people.
At the very least, learn to cultivate an air of non-desperation (something that having loads of different interests/hobbies helps immensely). People can sense it a mile off, and carrying around a black cloud of Pigpen-style loser vibes is a tremendous handicap.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:03 PM on February 18, 2006


Obviously you're not overweight, which is too bad since for me, losing weight was such a confidence booster. As far as your body is concerned though, you might want to get a tan, or at least better lighting :P.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 PM on February 18, 2006


I agree with Alvy and scody. And while the pic is quite nice, it doesn't mean shit.
This is coming from someone who had more action when he weighed over 330 pounds than he's had since losing almost 100lbs.

Seriously listen to yourself and see if YOU would like you if you heard yourself.
posted by zerokey at 8:54 PM on February 18, 2006


Are you in college? If not you should go.
posted by greasy_skillet at 9:14 PM on February 18, 2006


I'll say this: there is a tone in your post that unquestionably rubs me the wrong way. What I think it is, is that you manage to sound neurotically self-doubting and yet insufferably cocky at the same time. I want to jump right in and say that is probably not a fully fair and accurate description of you: but it is what comes through. I'm being a little blunt because many of the people I've been closest to have had a similar personality, no surprise because it has been a large component of my personality as well. The people I know who are still very much like their 21-year-old selves some 13-16 years later are among the most miserable bastards I know. Those who have overcome the most difficult and prickly aspects of this complex of personality issues are some of the best people I know.

If I may grossly oversimplify, I think it's basically like this: the self-loathing component is part a fake or front you throw up to deflect or baffle genuine criticism, in part the expression of real negative feelings you have about yourself. The problem is, when you constantly declare yourself to be shit, people (in particular potential dates) figure you must know something they don't and your projection of self-doubt becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I've seen this come out really horribly in relationships where a person of this character constantly berates their partner with negative proclamations about themselves. To me it always sounds like he's demanding the partner prove s/he really loves him by standing up for hom - even against himself. Its a mind game and sort of a sad one and no matter how wonderful or accepting the partner is, some part of them has to be thinking "maybe he's on to something."

The arrogance is partly a defense mechanism, a reaction against your internal self-criticism as well as the real or perceived criticism of others, partly a genuine but misdirected positive self regard, as in you know you have a good body or you know you are smarter than average or whatever good qualities you really believe in in yourself.

The reason I suspect you're low on friends and dates, then, is because you're displaying the negative flip sides of positive qualities. The positive side of self-loathing is humility. Humility is not thinking you are crap, putting on an aw-shucks, just li'l old me attitude, or denying your actual strengths and talents. Humility is the quality of the person who understands that we are all fallible and limited, that there are always things we don't know, that we stand on the shoulders of giants, that we will all be dust in a thousand years. It is the quality that allows us to be compassionate and paradoxically I think the quality that allows us to make the most of who we are.

The positive side of arrogance is confidence. Confidence is hands down one of the most naturally attractive components of personality and is far more important than appearance. I think the shrinks are right about at least one thing; we get a lot of our confidence (or lack thereof) from our parents first and our overall childhood second. If you get cut down a lot, in one way or another - either at home or in early social environments - you will become averse to whatever feels like risk to you.

Well, your childhood is over and whatever may have fucked you up can't be helped now. As an adult, there is exactly one way to increase confidence: finding genuine challenges and comporting yourself through them in a way you feel good about.

A few notes about specifics from your post:

I have still managed to convince myself that I... have no friends

Yet you assert the fact that you do. Consider the disservice you do them by discounting their friendship. Try removing the focus from yourself and thinking about them. What traits make them attractive? What are the things you like about them. As you think about each thing, consider: I recognize these qualities in my friends because I share them, even if I don't display them very well. Trying to connect to the positive in your friends may help you let your friends be your friends instead of obstructing them.

I like to talk about how I'm gonna kill myself because...

Even if it's completely jocular this is quite extreme. The underlying message is, "my life is worth nothing - not existing would be a step up." If you're expressing this way to others it is also manipulative. Make a real effort to stop talking this way even if you still have the feelings. It is very unattractive, it is programming you with a bad message, and puts your friends in an ackward position.

By the way I don't want to go to college.

The fact that you inject this non-sequitur into this makes me wonder what's behind it. You don't have to go to college but being unwilling to could be a big obstruction to a very large variety of goals. Are you cutting out a whole swath of potential possibilities for yourself because you have some sort of prejudice against heigher education? How carefully have you examined those prejudices? Pick an hour, some hour, and play a game. For that hour you have to totally commit yourself to going to college for four years no matter what. You're doomed to it, you have no choice, the Almighty Nanojath put a spell on you. Beyond that you have total freedom. Where would you go? What would you study? Really think about it. Look around on the internet. How does that make you feel?

Whatever the case, you don't say much about your life outside the relationship sphere, but I'm guessing your problems don't stop at the dating scene. Again: if you want more confidence, you need to be challenging yourself. Somehow, anyhow. Maybe college isn't the challenge you need. But unless you are genuinely happy with your current life aside from relationships, i.e. work, housing, you need goals and you need to be doing something about making them real.

By the way, how unusual is it for a 21 year old boy to be a virgin?

Well, you're well above the average but still well within normal territory (at least for a person who sincerely wants to get laid and is not necessarily demanding the first person they do it with be the "one and only"). But its clearly gotten to the point where its weighing on your mind and giving you something of a complex. As hard as this preaching is to practice you really need to lighten up on that aspect and focus on developing your own personal, professional (whatever that means for you) and internal life in more positive directions. Be open, take chances, focus on finding and building relationships and the problem will take care of itself soon enough.

One other side note about college on that front, though... Whatever else it may be it is the end-all, be-all happy hunting ground for ass. Just sayin'.

Sorry about the book. Good luck with that.
posted by nanojath at 10:03 PM on February 18, 2006 [1 favorite]


I am posting on behalf of the person in the picture, btw.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:04 PM on February 18, 2006


thirteenkiller-I figured.
posted by evariste at 10:37 PM on February 18, 2006


College.
posted by blacklite at 12:01 AM on February 19, 2006


Your friend sounds quite a lot like me in my early twenties. There is all sorts of good advice in this thread that I wish I'd had a chance to listen to back then. I also kick myself for not taking these steps earlier in my life. Key things for me in changing my attitude included:

- pretending. Twiggy's advice is spot on. If you are constantly telling yourself about how unattractive you are, you will not attract people. I had a long-established routine where I would form very close friendships with women and moan about how no woman wanted. They didn't find this cute or magically interpret it as a request for a date - they just stayed friends with me. Take some risks - ask people out. If there's nobody you know who you want to go on a date with, join some local clubs (doesn't matter what) or just go to a bar and try to get chatting. You'll get knocked back a lot - but so does everyone. It is not just you, honestly. And you will get lucky. This may sound trite advice but telling yourself you are unattractive is - or was to me, at any rate - vaguely obsessive behaviour. The only real way to drop an obsession is simply to tell yourself you will not be obsessed.

- friendships. One of the ironic consequences of making lots of close friendships with girls was that suddenly, I had a much better idea of what made them tick. I just didn't use it. Looking back I think this has stood me in good stead not just for my romantic relationship but also for work or platonic friendships.

- "appearance". This isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one. I'm not talking about physical appearance, more style I suppose. I didn't really think about clothes until a few years ago - I wore all sorts of baggy shapeless stuff. Paying more attention to what I wear, and choosing things that suit me and accentuate my features gave me a lot more self-confidence. The same applies to things like your haircut. It probably sounds desperately superficial but it is not so much a case of dressing "trendy" or "attractive", more dressing in a way that you feel makes you most confident.

- desire to change. Wallowing in self-pity can be quite a comfy place. I don't say this to accuse you of doing it - merely that I certainly did it, and in a perverse way really enjoyed it. It's very easy and risk-free to moan that girls don't like you - it makes the world very easy if slightly painful. But it avoids all the difficulty and potential pain of relationships if they don't go right. It took me quite a long time to step out of that comfort zone - I had to want to. You may find that you actually don't want to at first, so you will have to be pretty tough with yourself.

nanojath and others have put this all far more eloquently than me, but I wanted to stress that I have been in a similar situation and changed it. It's not impossible - good luck with it all.

By the way, how unusual is it for a 21 year old boy to be a virgin?

Not at all unusual. I was 22 when I lost my virginity. It wasn't a case of true love waiting - I would love to have lost it earlier! - but it just took a while to happen. It is not something that bothers me now; it's not like you put it on your CV!
posted by greycap at 1:46 AM on February 19, 2006


Damn, nanojath. Way to be wise and insightful! It would be unjust if that were not marked as a best answer. Are you listening, kids?

Oh and also, thirteenkiller, I know that you didn't ask for advice for yourself but here's some anyway: Your friend sounds kinda toxic. And he could be acting the way he does because it obviously garners him much attention and concern from friends like yourself. Just the fact that you are posting this question for him gives me the impression that you may be making a project of trying to help prop up his self-worth, console him, make him see the good that you see in him. Which is sorta unhealthy for you on many levels. It sounds like he may be (perhaps unconsciously) manipulating you into feeling sorry for him and devoting your time and attention to him.

Maybe you could show him that there are better ways to get people to demonstrate that they care about you by just ignoring him when he gets all negative. It would be better for both of you if you took a step back, declined the invite to his pity party, and let him figure out how to boost his self-esteem in a way that didn't suck the lifeblood from those who care for him.

Oh, and somehow I don't think posting a photo of his torso to a bunch of strangers and then showing him that they said that he's not chubby is going to solve his problem. He needs a hobby, preferably one which brings him into contact with people who are too sick or needy to spend time worrying about how flabby their stomachs might look. That should bring things nicely into perspective.
posted by wetpaint at 2:53 AM on February 19, 2006


Do you know any girls that listen to emo, they would probably be into you.
posted by Falconetti at 8:29 AM on February 19, 2006


Why are all of these answers marked as best?
posted by k8t at 10:11 AM on February 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns. Changed my love life forever.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:46 AM on February 19, 2006


I'm being serious, not snarky or rude, when I say you also might want to think about lowering your standards. No, I don't mean "settle, you're a loser, you can't do better," not at all. But I know so many guys - and girls - that say in one breath, "I can't find anyone," and in the next breath, "Well, I don't know about her, she has sort of a big butt," or "she isn't into this band I like," or whatever. If you want people to be loving and accepting of you, even with flaws, you have to offer that back to them. There are plenty of great girls out there that also have self-confidence issues, are late virgins, etc. but if you hit the bars looking for only the hottest, most outgoing ladies you won't find them. Of course, I don't know that you do that, so excuse my advice if you don't need it, but I know tons of nice-but-sometimes-awkward guys that inevitably pick out the Miss Americas for their advances.
posted by piers at 12:14 PM on February 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


hmm. Am I the only one that found the girl-friend/boyfriend contruction interesting? Is sexual identity an issue? My advice is tailored to the sexually confused as well as the shy.

I worked at a university for about ten years. Loads of 20 somethings are still struggling with prolonged adolescence. Social skills and dating skills are learned. It sounds like a chesnut, but you need to steep out of yourself to figure out who you are, and how you come across to other people.

I think you need to start with flirting before you date-- get used to social interactions. Seriously. Just learn to be comfortable talking to people socially. Don't go for a homerun till you've watched the game a bit, till you've practiced.

FYI. A lot of relationships start pretty slowly, people just getting to know one another. You're in a small town. You can afford to get to know people slowly.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 3:25 PM on February 19, 2006


Having a negative self-attitude is a self-fulfiling prophecy. I had a friend who would always whine about how she didn't have a boyfriend. My guy friends would say "Oh so-and-so? She's hot, but she's so damn whiny!" i.e. complaining about being single kept her single.
posted by radioamy at 10:45 PM on February 19, 2006


I have a flu at the moment and am not feeling especially coherent, so I'm glad to see that so many people have expressed really good advice far more eloquently than I can at the moment. I just have one thing to add:

It gets better. It gets better. Keep remind yourself that: It gets better. You are still in the process of figuring out how to be who you are in the world, and the more you work at it, the better you will get at it... if you work at it.

I went to an all-boys' school from fourth grade up until the time I graduated high school, and it left me really awkward an unself-confident around girls. I don't want to present college as some magic solution, and there were certainly lonely moments there--but going to a coed college, and just being thrown into classes & extracurriculars where it was the most natural thing in the world to strike up conversations with girls helped me realize that what girls want is exactly the same as what we all want: respect, friendship, trust, all those things. ( I'm now happily married to an amazing woman I met in college. Obviously I cannot guarantee that you will be so fortunate, but I guess what I'm saying is, I wish I could go back and tell the 21-year-old me that a much happier life is in his future. Telling you this is the closest I can get.)

Maybe college isn't right for you for whatever reasons, but listen to the people in this thread who are encouraging you to push yourself out of your shell, however you do it.

If you will push yourself out of your comfort zone, you will expand your comfort zone. Life gets better. Trust me.
posted by yankeefog at 10:50 AM on February 20, 2006


go to college.
posted by cellphone at 8:19 PM on February 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Whoa don't tell your first random hookup you're a virgin (not special, not romantic), do you want to really screw with their minds? Seriously -- we've all had our v-cards you just need to get over it and hook up with a last call slut. Trust me after you first time your life is changed and you will feel more confident. You'll want to do it all the time and you'll go after all types of girls (even the ones you think are way more attractive). Less is about attractiveness and more about "game". The girl wants to make sure the guy she's hooking up with or dating is cool and won't be high maitenance.
posted by geoff. at 7:38 PM on July 22, 2006


Update: He porked some girl from MySpace.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:30 PM on September 21, 2006


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