Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: newcastle, UK
| | limiting beliefs arising from lack of romantic/sexual experience
I'm a 23 year old man. I'm a virgin, and have never had a girlfriend, or even gone on what could be considered a date. I've kissed a few girls, but only when very drunk in situations where it was very clear it meant nothing, and would lead to nothing, and not even that in over 2 years.
I was very shy and introverted in school, had very few friends, and spent most of my time reading. At the age of 16, I discovered drugs and alcohol, and with these as crutches, I spent a lot more time socialising and making friends. Many of the people I got to know then are still among my closest friends.
I still use alcohol (drugs not so much) as a crutch in social situations. Over the past year, as I've gotten into personal development I've taken much greater active control of my life. I have taken up a variety of hobbies incompatible with alcohol, including tap dancing and rock climbing. Although I'm still quite quiet when sober, I'm more friendly and cheerful than I was 8 years ago, and have less social anxiety, so I've had some success at making friends in these contexts
I used to be very lazy and out of shape, but over the past year, I've been eating much better, and getting lots of exercise. I've lost about 30 lbs, and am in the best shape I've ever been in. I occaisionally get compliments on how I look. I now shave regularly (I used to have a long, unkempt beard) and generally take greater care over my appearance
I'd hoped this would help, somehow, that it would increase my confidence or something, but it hasn't. I still find it impossible to think of myself as attractive, or that anyone could possibly be interested in me.
Dealing with this situation, starting and maintaining a loving, long term, mutually beneficial relationship, is one of my main personal development goals (my others are reducing my comsumption of/dependence on alcohol, and doing regular volunteer work with an eye to possibly moving to a more fulfilling career, both of which I am making slow progress on). I've done a number of things to help me further this goal. At bars and clubs, I will start conversations with strangers. I don't feel up to the task of hitting on them yet, but feel like just going out and talking to people must be a good start. I've joined an internet dating site. I even asked someone out, someone I'd liked for a while but always talked myself out of asking. She said no, let's just be friends, so that's what we are (and actually, that's been fine. None of the awkwardness I'd been worrying about).
So I have been making efforts here, but it's been like pulling teeth. I feel like I have to summon up all my energy and willpower to do anything at all, and then I lapse back into inactivity for a few days while I regroup. I take action, but it's very haphazard and inconsistent. I have yet to get anyone to actually respond to me on the internet dating site (been on there a bit less than 2 months now). I have a profile and a picture, though both could probably be improved. I've sent many generic "winks" to let people know I'm interested, but no response. I've sent a couple of actual e-mails, no response there etiher, but they take so much more effort. Not only because you have to think of something to write, but because they're more personal, the feeling of rejection if (and it feels like when) they don't respond is greater, so it takes more strength to send them. I havn't even admitted to any of my friends that I've joined an internet dating site. I guess I feel like, if I let people know that I'm trying, it makes my continued lack of success that much more humiliating.
I know how I feel about myself is holding me back, but my results seem only to confirm those feelings. I feel kind of like I need to trick someone into liking me, or that if anyone wanted me, it would mean they were desperate or there was something wrong with them. I think maybe if I could approach this with confidence and enthusiasm it wouldn't be so hard, but the best I can manage is a kind of grim determination, and the thought that, surely, if I look hard enough, I must be able to find someone (anyone?) who'll have me. I sometimes feel like I'm only doing this to prove to myself that I really am that freakish and unloveable, or so when I talk to people about this stuff I can say "my life doesn't work that way, and I know because I've done my best to make it work". Not only does this make it hard for me to put the time and energy in, I'm also aware that it's deeply unattractive. I try not to convey this impression, of course, but it probably comes through anyway, and no girl wants to feel like you want her just because you have no other options, or that you'll take anyone and that she just happens to be the only one who'll say yes.
So I don't know what to do, really. I'm trying, but I'm not getting anywhere (early days yet, though, really - I've only been making an effort sporadically for about 2 months) and it's not making me happy. My self esteem is starting to suffer (in other areas it's quite high - in many ways, I'm proud of who I am and the life that I've built). I'm wondering if I should just give up on this goal, and accept that that means there's a good chance I'll spend the rest of my life single. There are other areas of my life where this time and energy would make me happy, would make a positive difference in my life, and I feel like I'm wasting it here. It feels like a cop-out, though, and I know that right now I wouldn't be able to truly accept being single, I could only resign myself to it.
Phew. A lot there. I hope it all makes sense. If you want any clarification or further info, just let me know. Any feedback or advice you can give would be much appreciated.