How do I explain my past?
January 18, 2022 5:33 AM   Subscribe

I’m a guy in my mid thirties who has never dated before. I’ve never been on a date or had a girlfriend. My only sexual experiences with women have been with escorts. It’s how I lost my virginity and even got my first kiss.

Throughout my life I’ve struggled with making friends. I was bullied in school and at home which did a number on my self esteem. I often ended up being labeled the “nice guy” while other guys got labeled cute or sexy. Even with my friends I get the feeling that they and their girlfriends feel sorry for me.

So here I am in a new city ready for a fresh start. I’ve tried online dating and have had a few conversations with women though no dates yet. I’m wondering say I end up dating somebody and my past comes up, what do I say about it?

I’m thinking of just telling a white lie saying that I haven’t dated in a while and that all my exes are long gone. Obviously I’m not going to tell women I pay for sex. It’s one of those things I’m hoping to take to the grave.
posted by OriginalCaptainPrice to Human Relations (25 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

As uncomfortable as it may seem--and your comfort is best assessed according to each person you meet who makes you wonder about this--a good starting point is being as honest as you can muster, as honest as you think the time calls for it. I was a sex worker for a time in my 20s, but since then I've been in two serious relationships (one of which lasted a quarter of my life and included becoming a parent to three awesome stepkids who are still my prides and joys). For each of those relationships, and all the little ones in between, I've made a judgment call based on the situation, the other person, my own feelings, etc. when deciding how/if to bring up this part of my past. I haven't always brought it up, but those two serious relationships? I brought it up in the early stages of both of those (including the relationship I'm in as we speak). That says something to me: I invest more in people with whom I can be and feel more honest.

You're the best judge of what to say, but a lot of people in my shoes make use of the white lie approach as a way to test the waters. Something like: I've had relationships in the past but they never amounted to much more than something casual; I've known pretty quickly in the past that the relationships I used to start weren't started with the intention of making them into something lasting, I didn't know that about myself until I got older; I can't believe I'm saying this but I feel shy talking about my past relationships before I get a feel for this one; and so on. Does anything in there sound like something that you'd be comfortable hearing yourself?

One more important thought that I think is a very true test. If you would view a potential partner harshly for sharing with you exactly what you're disclosing to them, regardless of how they craft the information in conversation, that's something to pay attention to. If it's information you plan on taking to the grave, does that mean that you would reject someone else for having had the same experiences as you've had? If there is shame at the root of your discomfort with having paid for sex, make sure you're aware how that shame may be projected on potential partners. Even if you never mention a thing about this, you can do yourself and everyone around you a big favor by not using this as an opportunity to "work on" how you feel about this aspect of your history/sex/relationships. After all, I think it's entirely defensible to keep your past as private as you wish, as long as you're clear about that (and not angry about it) when a partner or close friend asks you about it. It's on you to come up with a response that you can deliver without sharing shame, anger, or judgment of the person who cares enough about you to ask.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 5:50 AM on January 18 [61 favorites]

I wouldn’t mention exes, just say that life has been busy and dating hasn’t been much of a priority up until now but that you’re ready for a relationship. It makes you sound like an interesting person with a full life (which I’m sure you are!) and that meeting the right person will be what makes you stop and smell the roses.

Don’t mention exes if you don’t have them because that’s not truthful. But putting a positive spin on something is never a bad thing. Good on you for getting out there, I’m sure you’ll go well.
posted by Jubey at 5:54 AM on January 18 [19 favorites]

I completely agree with late afternoon dreaming hotel.

There's one more thing I'd like to layer on, and that's that, in your question, there are a few "red flags" with how you are approaching the situation. I mention this because in my life, self awareness is huge for learning and adapting for the future.

The biggest red flag is the idea that you are often labelled as a "nice guy" in comparison to others. This mentality is extremely common with people in your situation, and I was in that situation myself once too. But, for myself and all "nice guys" - having this perspective means that your head is in the wrong place.

If your being "nice" that means that you are batting above your class for dates. Women don't want someone who is nice to them, women want someone who is their equal. Equally nice, equally flirty, equally funny, or equally serious.

For me, and many nice guys, and maybe for you (though I can't say for sure) that's because the concept of self-improvement was never really taught to us. Focusing on your fitness, your hygiene, and your social bonds are among things that you need to improve about yourself to break the mentality. If you don't have many friends, or a strong exercise routine with goals, and hobbies that get you out of the house and interacting with others often, you will be much less desirable to others.

Most sketchy "pickup" or whatever groups basically say this same advice. The first step is to improve yourself. It's not a cheat code, this really has to be the focus for the first long time.

My recommendation for dating, especially in a new city, is first try to make a strong social group with dating WAY in the background. Try to connect with other male friends! After 6 months to a year of having good friends, THEN ask them for advice. I'd put all your emotional energy on that for a while, and stop fruitlessly swiping on people. The best case scenario for a date is someone you meet through a hobby or mutual friend anyway.

The best way to make those friends is through hobbies or meetup groups. I just moved to Boston and have had a lot of luck in hiking and trivia groups.

Once you are done improving yourself and you start making meaningful connections without an ulterior motive, you won't care about your dating history. Most people even long in relationships don't talk about their past much. You can always say something like "I never dated someone I like as much as you!" Without too many details.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:03 AM on January 18 [44 favorites]

Personally, I've never wanted any sort of detailed blow-by-blow about my partner's past — and quite often they felt similarly. That's not to say I didn't know names and fights and reasons for breakups in some cases, I did — but not all. In the one gigantic exception where a partner really wanted to be "honest" about his entire past, it was a disaster. He'd never had a for-pay sex partner, instead, he had simply been involved with so many people he felt the need to write it all down for me on a big sheet of paper — and there were just so many of "them," his past paramours, it was the only time in my life I felt diminished by comparison. I suddenly seemed to be one of many in a very large crowd.

So I didn't blanche at your discussion of pay-for-sex partners, but I immediately worried that just below the surface you were really angry about it. Not everyone responds this way, and the ideal response to a less than fruitful early dating life is to scoff it off philosophically, but not everyone can, and I've noticed this especially in men who felt like they were bullied as children because a lot of bullies don't recognize when they're bullying, but instead see themselves as victims, which can play out really badly in a relationship if not outright kill it. That's not to say you are that guy, but it is to reinforce that improving yourself means finding ways to feel proud of, and confident in, yourself, regardless of who did what to you when or how you got your initial sexual experience. Women aren't therapists and they aren't saviors. They're just people, too, you know.

Long story short: I would worry less about disclosures and more about being ready for a relationship. Start by just meeting a girl you like not as a girl, but as a person. Join a book club, go fly-fishing or the online equivalent: Your goal here is to make a woman friend. Nothing more. And fly-fishing or art or bitcoin will give you something to talk about, and the more comfortable you get, just talking, the more likely you are to become friends with her and maybe more than anything that will give you the practice, and comfort, you need.
posted by Violet Blue at 6:58 AM on January 18 [19 favorites]

I just saw your headline again as I was flipping back to the main page. Pay-for-sex partners is not "a past" with all the sin and shame that implies. Men (and women, but mostly men) have been paying for sex for millennia. It can raise questions about safe sex or commitment phobia, but sometimes sex is just sex. That's how we're all made, after all. So don't judge yourself. It will definitely alarm some women, but it probably won't alarm others. Either way, it's not important enough to get distressed about in advance. Relax.
posted by Violet Blue at 7:07 AM on January 18 [9 favorites]

A few data points:

One of the most successful and gorgeous people I know was a virgin until she was 39. Had never been on a date. Lost her virginity that year and never had sex again and still has not been on another date and she's 48 now. Her (lack of) sex life doesn't define her -- don't let yours define you.

One of my best friends was a virgin until he was 33 and had only been on 2 dates. Now, 20 years later, he has a wife and two great kids. Again, he didn't let his lack of dating experience stop him from finding the right person and living a fulfilling life.

Though I wouldn't volunteer your sexual history, I wouldn't shy from being upfront about your lack of experience if asked. Regarding escorts you can just say you never ended up in a long term relationship with any of your past partners, that they were just for mutual gratification, and that you're looking for something more now.

Regarding dating apps, if it weren't pandemic times, I would suggest being bold with your date asking. Get to the "Want to grab a drink/bite/coffee?" part early. You will get a lot of No's and a lot of bad dates from Yeses, but repeatedly meeting new people and learning that a date that's a one-off is better than no date at all because it helps build your confidence in the process. I don't use dating apps anymore but when I did, I'd often state clearly in my profile that "I prefer to meet sooner than later -- not into endless back-and-forth messages." and then when I got likes I had an excuse to ask them out quickly, often with just my first message: "Drink?" (Note, make sure you read their own profile thoroughly so you don't message sober people like that.) Many people will appreciate you cutting to the chase. (Of course, many won't, but in my experience they don't cut you off, they just politely decline and ask to chat/call/etc for longer.)

Obviously my app advice doesn't work so great in a pandemic.
posted by dobbs at 7:50 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

I would not lie but not overdisclose, if that makes any sense. I've never had any serious relationships before is true and also nothing to be ashamed of. (I don't think you should be ashamed of your sexual past either, but that does not sound like where you are at right now.)

Slightly outside of your question, as part of your fresh start, might you consider therapy to help you contextualize your feelings of being relegated to "nice guy" and not having much experience so you don't bring any thinking with you that might be unconsciously holding you back? No one deserves to be bullied but having had that experience myself, I found that dealing with the past made my future a lot easier.

Eventually, I hope for you that you don't have to take anything to the grave. Being able to be your entire self with someone is amazing healing freedom.
posted by *s at 9:43 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

I didn't blanche at your discussion of pay-for-sex partners, but I immediately worried that just below the surface you were really angry about it.

I (mid-30s woman) had an identical reaction to your post. While yes, some women will judge you for only having experience with sex-workers, others will rather be concerned with your explanation for why this is the case. Because I promise you, the reason you haven't had success with romance isn't because you're a "nice guy." And, in my experience, guys who are still blaming their lack of sexual success in their 30s on their "niceness" are often bitter, resent women (sometimes violently), and act entitled. And that's why they aren't successful with romance.

Obviously I don't know you, and perhaps this doesn't apply to you - but I agree with those suggesting that the problem here is one of perception/mental framing. It might be worth talking through with a therapist why it is that with friends you "get the feeling that they and their girlfriends feel sorry for me." Either you have bad friends, or you're selling yourself short.
posted by coffeecat at 10:02 AM on January 18 [32 favorites]

Last year I (late 30s) went out with a man (mid 40's) who had never had been in a relationship or had a girlfriend. All of the ease and banter and chemistry we had evaporated when I asked, very casually, about his romantic past on our third date. He grew stiff, answered in as few words as he could manage, quickly changed the subject.

But that was okay with me. Everyone has sensitive areas. I was happy to continue to see him. I assumed that as he grew more comfortable and intimate with me, he would find it easier to relax and talk more naturally (not necessarily telling me everything but at least not acting like this topic was utterly taboo). That never happened. We went out for three months and the second time I mentioned past attachments at the end was exactly as awkward as the first time. I said something like, "Hey, it's okay, I'm not judging, I'm just curious," but he literally hung up the phone on me to avoid talking.

And then he ghosted me LOL so at least I didn't have to break up with him.

The reason I'm telling this story is: it's a pretty big red flag for me if someone I'm dating is not comfortable with themselves and their own past, comfortable enough to talk openly and honestly about it (which is different from in great detail). Their discomfort tells me this person has avoided doing their necessary emotional work, I'm not interested in partners who aren't doing their own emotional work - life is too short for me to spend tiptoeing around their trash. OP, you gotta start taking out your own trash. Seek therapy. Start working on your emotional and psychological health. You will be a hundred times more attractive to potential partners if you do, but, like, do it because you need to do it for your own wellbeing! Let this be part of your fresh start.
posted by MiraK at 10:48 AM on January 18 [30 favorites]

I think there is only one right thing to do here and that is to be prepared to tell your partners the complete and entire truth, when it comes up. I don't mean blurt it out on the first date, but I also mean don't expect to enter into a relationship while keeping a secret you're planning to take to the grave. That would mean the relationship is based on a lie and it will mean you will fear intimacy. And when your partner asks about your past, as they normally will, you will either have to tell lies, or tell them you don't want to discuss it, either of which means your relationship will never progress past the shallow superficial stages. If you decide to tell lies, even by omission or misdirection, you enter gaslighting abuse territory which I heartily do not recommend.

To me this means you have to find a way to be comfortable with who you are and especially what you've done. You can either decide that paying for sex is normal and no big deal, or decide that it's actually wrong in a moral absolutist sense. The first path is easy for you because it doesn't require any introspection, guilt, or change on your part, but it also restricts you to people who have no problem with what you've done and aren't going to probe. The second path is hard because it means facing some very very uncomfortable truths about yourself, and it would necessarily prompt a period of massive self-examination and change and to be honest atonement. The fact that you don't want to talk about it openly tells me that you are not really willing to take the easy path and I think this is absolutely a mark in your favor.

I personally think that there is actually something morally wrong in an absolutist sense of paying to use someone's body for one's own sexual gratification, especially when that person is potentially socioeconomically underprivileged and maybe even trafficked into sexual slavery, and while this may not be the case in your specific circumstance, it's definitely overwhelmingly the case at the macro, class level, and you have to walk a pretty tangled path to say that what you did is okay while sexual slavery of trafficked women is wrong. I also think that really it's impossible to feel okay or good about using another person in this way, even when that way is enshrined in the fabric of our society. It's your choice how much you want to face this, but I can promise you from someone who has been somewhere similar that the easy path of pretending everything is okay and keeping your secrets will only lead you away from the intimacy you crave.

I would also encourage you to frame this not as a question of your past, which you can pretend is over, and your values, which are still active now in an ongoing sense. And your values are absolutely the business of your prospective partners and not something you really have a right to lie about. So where do you stand? Is it okay to pay for sex? Does the fact that the guy is really lonely make it okay? If not... how do you deal with the fact that you did something not okay?
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:08 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

While yes, some women will judge you for only having experience with sex-workers, others will rather be concerned with your explanation for why this is the case.

I agree with this line of thinking. You need to be able to talk about your past experiences in a way that conveys respect for sex workers. And, gently: you need to mean it.
posted by Dashy at 12:18 PM on January 18 [7 favorites]

Personally, I don't think you need to bring up sex workers right away -- (if the connection is strong perhaps consider bringing it up on like -- date #3?) -- but I think you should be honest that you haven't been in many romantic or sexual relationships. Who knows, maybe she's in the same boat and this will lessen the pressure for her substantially.

But one thing to be aware of is that a lot of women who are on first dates with strangers flinch when they hear the "I always got friend-zoned/always the 'nice guy'' lament. My mind immediately goes to potentially violent outcomes this mindset, and not just because I know women who have experienced violence at the hands of men with this narrative. TBH, while I would have no problem dating a man with zero sexual experience, I'd run for the hills at the first mention of "I was the nice guy while others got to be Bad Boys." Arthur Chu wrote an essay about this phenomenon of male entitlement -- here is a non-paywalled version of it.
posted by egeanin at 12:56 PM on January 18 [14 favorites]

As a contrary opinion, I would never, ever date a man who paid for sex and I’d be running out the door if I found out someone hasn’t told me about this. Clearly, some women feel differently about this. I would encourage you to use honesty as a filter in this respect.
posted by vanitas at 1:45 PM on January 18 [4 favorites]

Obviously I’m not going to tell women I pay for sex

the present tense is the most concerning thing in this whole question.

your past is your business. a lot of women who would view your choices with distaste or contempt, if required to form and verbalize an opinion as strangers, would withhold judgement if you explained your sexual history some months in. as long as you had never outright lied about it before then and they really liked you. you might successfully keep it secret forever, but you probably wouldn't have to.

but this is what would happen if you were describing what you had done once or twice. if you were describing what you used to habitually do, much iffier but still very possible.

but unless this is a simple typo you seem to be saying that this is a current and permanent part of your chosen lifestyle. not something you used to enjoy doing but have put away forever as you begin this new venture into dating unpaid volunteers; rather, something you do in the way that other people travel or go to the opera - something that is a serious hobby without an end date on it, even if it is infrequent, even if you pause it every time you're seriously seeing someone.

if this is really the case, then you do at some point have to tell women you do this, in spite of the fact that it will repel a lot of them. because if this is the case, it is not a detail of your past private life but a big and fundamental part of your whole deal. and they do have a right to know that about your present self if they get in a relationship with you, in a way that they do not have the right to know every detail of your past.
posted by queenofbithynia at 2:52 PM on January 18 [13 favorites]

The danger is any kind of lie in a relationship, including early on, is that you may continue to have a relationship with that person and need to keep up the lie. It's pretty bad to have a foundation of lying. What if it comes out eventually?

I would go with "I haven't dated much" if it comes up early on, and leave it at that.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:27 PM on January 18

Ok, I went back and checked your previous questions, and you've asked one, from last July titled "How can I have a normal relationship with women?" in which you presented similar views as you have in this post, and got similar feedback.

I say this with kindness, because you clearly know you have some emotional work to do and clearly desire to change, which is more one can say about a lot of people in your boat, but dude, you need to accept that this problem is bigger than you can tackle on your own. If you're resistant to therapy for some reason, perhaps this will be helpful (it was once helpful to me): if you and your brain have been unable to solve this problem on your own your whole adult life, what makes you think the future will be any different? If you had a persistent physical pain, you'd go a doctor, right? Your difficulty connecting with women is clearly causing you anguish- enough to join Metafilter just to ask two questions related to this problem- people here are thoughtful, but this isn't a substitute with talking to a professional.

Good luck.
posted by coffeecat at 7:00 PM on January 18 [15 favorites]

It’s one of those things I’m hoping to take to the grave

I feel like one of the great joys of being in a relationship is being able to truly be yourself, the good and the bad. That means honesty. It also isn't really fair to your partner to keep something like this back- for some people it would be a dealbreaker. They should be able to make that decision for themselves.
posted by pinochiette at 7:07 PM on January 18

I think there’s a lot of good advice in this thread, and agree with lots of people that talking with a therapist would be a really healthy and helpful way to answer this question. Finding a sex-positive, sex-worker allied therapist could help mitigate fear you might have about being judged in that conversation.

Here is a directory of sex-positive therapists - it’s ostensibly for an American association, but there are many countries on their drop-down menu. Psychology Today has categories for “sex-positive” and “sex worker allied” - here’s someone based in San Francisco for more search terms.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 8:38 PM on January 18 [3 favorites]

In terms of cognitively framing this in your own mind, it might be useful to think of your background as involving "transactional sex." That is the term that social scientists use for a wide range of practices, including hiring escorts. The concept also includes many activities that people who do not identify as sex workers engage in. For example, a goodly number of people expect to receive expensive gifts from the people that they have sex with, which is obviously a transaction, but the recipients often do not identify as sex workers. With this broader framing, your experience may seem more normal.
posted by mortaddams at 4:31 AM on January 19

Oh, I remember your previous question! You asked why other men have no trouble attracting women even though they beat up their girlfriends and wives, but you don't have a girlfriend. It was a weirdly disturbing question and I can see a clear link from there to this new question, since there is something very strange about the way you're talking about your ~sordid past~ re: the sex workers you patronized (or should that be present tense?!). Coffeecat is spot on. Your issues are larger than what you can resolve on your own. Your immigrant background may make you reluctant to seek therapy but I am also an immigrant from one of those countries and I can promise you that therapy is neither scary nor shameful. It's exactly like going to a doctor except this doctor has extremely advanced skills in putting you at your ease! It isn't as intimidating as you're thinking it will be.
posted by MiraK at 5:16 AM on January 19 [4 favorites]

I want to second most of what coffeecat and MiraK are saying. Your two questions approach the same issue, just from slightly different angles. In the current question, you have kind of shifted your focus from the core problem-- attitudes stemming from your family of origin-- to the coping mechanism. Understood as a coping mechanism, your history with sex workers may be objectionable to some people, and a source of shame to yourself. Other people, as the range of responses indicates, will not be overly bothered by it. But if you are hiding that, are you also hiding the issues that drove you to seek out sex workers in the first place? Until you address the whole picture, the problem is not with your past; it is with current issues that have yet to be resolved. I see it as somewhat analogous to people who have a drinking problem that they have tried to resolve simply by stopping, rather than by looking at why they were drinking.
posted by BibiRose at 6:24 AM on January 19 [2 favorites]

Refer to the escorts as if they were dates you didn't pay for.

If your narrative sounds something like this you are good to go: "I only went out with Julie once. She was really sweet and had a gorgeous giggle, but I never got to know her. Then there was Maxine - that was pretty brief - I think we went out three times? Maxine collected model cars and was putting in a lot of hours working to help her brother pay her medical bills. She moved on. I called her a couple of times and left messages but I couldn't get through, so I knew she just didn't have the time. The last one was Brenda. She was a good bit older than me. She was shorter than me and fit in just under my arm and I loved the way that felt, kinda like she was my sidekick. She dyed her hair and I didn't think dark dye like that was was a looked good before I went out with her, but now I like it. I realised she wasn't trying to pass for natural. She just liked the way it contrasted with her natural colour. And it did really look cute. I think I learned quite a bit from Brenda about having preconceived expectations."

If you can't come up with innocuous, affectionate and admiring things to say about them, you are not ready to date.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:41 AM on January 19 [5 favorites]

I think you should go to therapy partly to find a way to be comfortable talking about your sexual history. If you have this big, shameful secret that you refuse to talk about with anyone, then that is going to be a block to you actually being able to connect with people, especially but not only romantically/sexually.

One of the things that makes therapy really effective is saying out loud the things we are really ashamed of, and having those confessions be received with empathy. Even just saying it out loud to another person will take some of that burden off your shoulders.

Going to therapy to address this doesn't mean you HAVE to tell anyone else. You don't have to tell partners about your sexual history if you don't want to (you DO have to get tested for STIs and disclose those, of course). But if you can work out some of the shame you have around this, I think it will present less of a block for you.

And yes, there are women out there who will accept this about you. Sex work is work, and it wouldn't exist if there weren't clients - not everyone sees it as a moral failing. I wonder if this is your shame speaking, in that you think the kind of women you'd want wouldn't accept it? Therapy will help with this too.
posted by lunasol at 10:19 AM on January 19 [3 favorites]

mortaddams, I can’t disagree more with your advice. OP, please don’t buy into toxic norms that your sexual value to women is based on how much money you spend on them. It diminishes and dehumanizes both you AND your potential dates.

If you want women to have sex with you because they like and want you for who YOU are, don’t assume that their sexual interest can be bought with presents and/or effort. If you end up dating women who tell you that you need to buy them things for them to have sex with you, stop dating those women. If you want a genuine connection, you need to let go of cynicism about women’s motivations and treat them as equal partners in finding and building relationship, not as adversarial economic competitors.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 3:06 PM on January 19

I want to offer a data point that I don't see represented here that might help you feel a bit less anxious. I don't discuss my sex life with anyone. It's private. I don't think this is dishonest in any way. I think it's a boundary I have and and I offer this so you realize that there may very well be people out there who won't require this information from you. I do not think you owe a significant other, date or sex partner every bit of your history, sexual or otherwise. I've lived with my significant other since 2006 and he has *never* asked for this information from me. I have offered certain things I felt were important or relevant *over time*, as things naturally came up, *if* it was important, and with lots of respect for the other person's (past partner's) privacy. And I have a basic idea of my SO's past in that I've met an ex girlfriend and, have heard about some of his past relationships–again, over time, and never details about sex itself.

What I *did* want to know when I first started dating my SO–beyond who he was, his life goals, etc–was if he had any STDs, if he suffered from any mental illnesses, depression/anxiety etc and if he was abusive in any way. I asked about STDs once I realized sex was a possibility. I asked about mental illness only after I witnessed his depressions first hand. And I looked for red flags for abusive behavior as I do with everyone. I didn't need to know my SO's sexual or relationship history to establish those things. I realize that asking a person's history is par for the course for many, but not for everyone. Not everyone believes this is the best path to take within relationships. I feel like the privacy of my previous partner and respecting my own boundaries is just as important as honesty with my current partner. I don't believe I owe anyone my life history. I think I can be private, in a close, loving relationship and be honest all at the same time. I will never have that kind of discussion with anyone. And no one has ever required it of me. Please realize that your sexual past shouldn't haunt you. And if it does bother you, your sexual past may well be nobody's business until you do some work on yourself and heal. Even so, it still might not ever be anyone's business. That's entirely up to you.

Also, if this helps you at all, I wouldn't be bothered if I was dating someone who had not lost their virginity until they were in their thirties. If they offered they had paid for sex I might be a bit taken back, but I would also consider how strong the drive to have sex with another human being is. There are definitely issues with paying for sex (that others here have outlined for you way better than I ever could). Your issue is finding out what is preventing you from having a relationship. I read both of your questions, as other have. I feel that you genuinely want to fix things. That you recognize the cultural dynamic surrounding you is unhealthy and that you wish to change to be able to have a relationship. The fact that you asked this question is a very good start. There is a ton of excellent advice in this thread. Therapy would be a great help to you to sort this out. My advice is to stop paying for sex as it's causing you shame, and to stop worrying about how old you were when you lost your virginity because it doesn't matter. The advice to make friends with mentally healthy people before you attempt dating is the best advice in this thread. A year is not a very long time to invest in yourself, to do some serious work on yourself to get where you want to be. I wish you the best of luck.
posted by marimeko at 5:42 PM on January 19 [2 favorites]

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