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As a teenager, I bought into the whole religious reasons thing to not have sex. Early in college, I considered having sex with my long term boyfriend at the time; however, this relationship abruptly turned abusive and crashed and burned, which made me grateful I’d hesitated.
But nearly ten years later, my dating life is nonexistent. I can barely get a guy to look at me, much less give me the time of day. I hate how desperate I feel and seem to be in wanting a relationship and know that I should be happy with what I do have in life (but when has that ever placated anyone?).
It’s been occurring to me lately that maybe it’s due to the fact that I still haven’t had and am reluctant to have sex. Is this something guys can just read off of me? Is it a turn off? Could this maybe even explain why I have such an abysmal time dating?
I’m sorry that religion impacted your view of sex. I’m sorry that your abusive relationship soured you further. Your reaction to those situations is somewhat normal — if you view sex as problematic, your defense mechanism protects you from men and sex. It also protects you from men and love.
Understand, men look for sex in the process of looking for love. A guy can decide if he’s open to sleeping with you in 2 seconds; he’ll probably take closer to a month to figure out if he wants to be your boyfriend and a few years to figure out if he wants to be your husband. This is normal, too, not behavior to be judged or shamed.
I am a 46-year-old, twice divorced, mother of 3, dating a man with whom I had a serious relationship in my 20’s.
Back then, I ended the relationship because I never trusted him (he was somewhat of a player, 8 years older, while I was a naive law student who had had one previous relationship) and although we were very compatible and I loved him very much, I did not see a future with him.
After my 2nd divorce, I reached out to him; we chatted for hours and made a date to meet up for dinner and drinks. That date lasted 7 hours, we both felt an immediate re-connection, and I had this amazing feeling that we had both grown up and were ready to be in a more mature relationship.
The first several months were great; we had many fun dates and became intimate within the first month. There were some red flags early on, like when I asked if he was seeing anyone else and he laughed it off — I thought he was saying my question was ridiculous — after all, he had already told me he loved me.
Turns out, I was wrong. Five months into the relationship, I learned that he had been dating someone very seriously immediately before we started dating, that he was not over her when we started dating, and in fact had tried to get back together with her nearly 3 months after we started dating (she said no).
Also, he had a female “friend” (the former best friend of the aforementioned serious girlfriend) who he spent an inordinate amount of time with (and actually lied to me about sleeping at her house) but insisted there was nothing going on with her.
It made me uneasy but he continued to …
Jenna Birch interviewed me again for Shape Magazine and Yahoo Health in 2015, and I was delighted to learn that she wrote a book called “The Love Gap: A Radical Way to Win in Life and Love.” I can’t vouch for the book itself but I really love this excerpt I read on Psychology Today and wanted to share it with you.
“After looking into the mating preferences of more than 5,000 men and women by way of survey, researcher and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., writes that we are seeing a “Clooney Effect” in this country – a nod to the recent marriage of America’s favorite bachelor, actor George Clooney, to human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin. According to Fisher’s numbers, men desire smart, strong, successful women; 87 percent of men said they would date a woman who was more intellectual than they were, who was better educated, and who made considerably more money than they did, while 86 percent said they were in search of a woman who was confident and self-assured.”
Sounds all well and good. Except, as you know, there’s a gap between what men say they want in theory and what they actually want in practice.
“Men only think they know what they want – or they know what they want in theory, not what they’d choose when put to the test IRL. “Men seem to be influenced less by their ideal partner preferences and more by their emotions or feelings at the moment,” she says. “Specifically, when men were outperformed by a woman in a domain that they cared about – intelligence – they felt threatened, assessed by diminished self-ratings of masculinity, which then led them to act in a way counter to what their expressed ideal preferences were.” In other words, these guys …
I am a 25-year old woman living in North Carolina. I’ve been with my loving, consistent boyfriend (also 25) for a year now and I’ve been impressed with how easy and natural the relationship is. We live separately but see each other at least 2-3x/week and have keys to each other’s places. However, we spent the holidays together this year and it’s become apparent his family and childhood issues still haunt him.
His parent’s awful marriage and a genetic predisposition for mental illness left him in bad shape. I have no room to judge as the anxious child of a bitter divorce, but after 3 years of therapy and dozens of self help books I know I’ve done my part to become a healthy person and partner. He went to therapy as a child and a few times in college, but since then hasn’t been back.
Even though he has always been emotionally available, some of his habits make me want to ask him to see a therapist. He gets jealous even though he’s never been cheated on, and if he has one too many beers, feelings and tears usually follow. He often agonizes over what people think of him and will go to events he doesn’t even like so friends won’t be upset (and expects me to attend). When I ask him why he’s like this, he’s very self aware and explains to me how he’s feeling and why he feels that way. For example, he has jealousy issues from witnessing his father’s affairs growing up.
I love him and want to accept him as he is, but is it fair to ask him to go to therapy and at least try to work through these issues? If so, how can I approach the subject without making him feel …
I’m well-aware that criticism comes with the territory of writing for the internet. The fact that there are 130,000 comments on my blog should be a decent indicator of how much dissent I allow (pretty much everything except personal insults). I also know that it would be impossible for any reader to have a full understanding of my marriage; it’s all mediated through blog posts, videos, etc. But since I use my marriage as an example of the kind of marriage I wish for you to have, I believe it’s fair for you to want to know whether I’m some sort of bullshit artist or a guy who actually walks his own walk.
And while I haven’t done this for a long time, an individual comment on this recent blog post just rubbed me the wrong way. Since I couldn’t shake the feeling, I figured this would be a great opportunity to explain myself to anyone who may have the same perceptions as this reader about me and my “uninspiring” marriage.
And, by “explain myself,” I mean, I brought in my wife to directly address each of the partially-true, partially misguided claims below. She’s more diplomatic than I am but I do love that she comes out swinging.
“I fear I must say what many other women are afraid to say and it’s that you don’t come off as good husband material initially either. I think you can not see this about yourself and only see what a super great catch you are.
– You spoke about how you had about 300 dates in 10 years; sorry but according to the math that’s only about 2 dates a month; low numbers. I bring that up because
– You said you Never had a relationship last longer than …
Like Meghan Daum, Heather Havrilesky is another author and Facebook friend whom I haven’t met yet. She, too, is a Duke graduate from the 90’s as well as a noted advice columnist, and I’ll be the first to admit that she’s probably better than I am.
Not because she’s spent fifteen years studying dating and relationship dynamics like a I have, but because she’s one helluva writer with a uniquely powerful voice who puts WAY more thought into her blistering columns than I do with mine.
I could pull any one of her Ask Polly diatribes she writes for New York Magazine, but this one, entitled, “Why Don’t Men I Date Ever Truly Love Me?” really struck a chord.
Not only is the question – from a woman who is liked but never loved by her boyfriends – a well-written one, but Havrilesky’s answer gives me goosebumps in its fierce clarity.
“There’s nothing wrong with you… You’re probably attracting a wider swath of men than is good for you. They aren’t self-selecting themselves out of contention, because you seem perfectly healthy and reasonable. If you seemed impatient or intolerant, you might slough off some of the wishy-washy slackers in the mix. If you were a little temperamental, you might lose all but the most fervent admirers. Instead, you are healthy and sane and no one will object to being a team, and when you hit month 18 you’ll (very wisely) assess the situation with your therapist: “Welp, he’s either going to pop the question or hit the road, and I need to be fully emotionally prepared for either eventuality.”
This reminds me of my wife – a woman who is so happy and even-tempered that she could always get men to date her, but was so happy and even-tempered …