10 Year Update
I havenít posted here in a long time. But I really wanted to respond with an update to my 10 year old post and give any insight or help that I can to any guys in this situation. Iíve been procrastinating about doing this for a long time. Sorry, it is really long, so there might be typos and grammar mistakes. Iím not sure if I should respond to this ridiculously old thread or start a new one. I havenít read through the whole thread again, partly because I was embarassed to read the comments I was making back then.
TL;DR: Things got a lot better and Iím hoping it keeps getting better.
Things have improved significantly for me, but Iím still not where I want to be yet. In summary, Iíve dated a LOT of women and been in some somewhat longer relationships (4 or 5 that lasted 6-12 months). When I wrote the post I was 27. Now Iím 37. I donít know if I am just more physically attractive to women now that Iím older or what. I had also only been living in the city I live in for a couple of years so I didnít have many friends here yet. I was still clinging to my friends from college who were going down different paths and moving to the suburbs or other cities. It took time and a lot of effort for me to make new friends. Making friends ultimately led to me getting dates and having relationships.
I wish I could tell you it was easy, but it wasnít. Iíve been going to therapy regularly and trying different antidepressants since then. I had to constantly push myself to go out and meet people. I signed up for meetup groups in my area using a website/app (Iím assuming I canít post links, but itís pretty easy to find the site/app.). Sometimes I chickened out and felt terrible afterwards for letting the fear win. But if you are inconsistent like I was, and still am, try really hard not beat yourself up. Find another event with the same group or another group. Before every social event (that I found online or was invited to by a friend), I had lots of self-defeating thoughts (Whatís the point? It wonít work anyway? Iíve failed many times in the past. What if everybody thinks Iím a loser? People will be able to tell that I hate myself and have no confidence.)
It turns out that people could not read my mind. After I got to know people, I would ask them what their first impressions of me were. Most of them said that they would never have guessed that I was anxious or depressed. They said that I seemed quiet and confident, even arrogant to some. I was totally shocked to hear that, but multiple people told me that, only after I asked. I guess the pep talks I would give myself before I went out actually worked! It seems like people could only tell when I was nervous after they got to know me and after I told them I get nervous. Then they were looking for it. Most of them were supportive and tried to help me with the anxiety. Iíve actually told women that I was nervous while talking to them. They were all nice about it. Some were even flattered. So just know that people cannot read your mind and you never know what people think of you, so itís really a waste of time to worry about what everyone thinks of you. I know thatís not an easy thing to do. I still do it. But it helps a little to realize that itís impossible, a waste of time, and will not help you to be happy.
Over time, as I kept pushing myself to try, I started meeting people and making friends. I didnít hit it off with most people. I was really annoyed by or just had little in common with a lot of people. But going through the process of meeting people helped me to realize that I wonít like everyone and not everyone will love me as soon as they meet me. Before that, I was so desperate to make friends and get dates that I tried to be all things to all people and attempt to win them over. As a result, I would end up not clicking with people that I truly had things in common with because I was busy pretending to be someone else. Letís say you have no interest in sports but pretend to be because youíre trying to win over some dude you want to be friends with. Another guy who doesnít like sports and could have ended up being a great friend for you might overhear this and end up being less interested in being your friend. Thatís just one example.
I hope this doesnít sound like the typical ďbe yourselfĒ advice. Because that always pissed/pisses me off. It is good to ďbe yourself,Ē but that is very difficult for guys in our situation. For one thing, itís hard to ďbe yourselfĒ when you donít even have a firm grasp on who you are. Iím still donít fully know who I am but I know a lot better than when I originally started this thread. Also, it helps me if I donít fight the anxiety. I try to accept it and keep moving forward with whatever Iím attempting to do. I think fighting the feelings of anxiety makes them worse.
So back to my progress. Here are some highlights of what Iíve done over the last 10 years. I wonít go into detail about how the breakups happened, because that might discourage you. I hope this doesnít seem like Iím bragging or rubbing it in your face. I just hope that the progress Iíve made gives you some encouragement that you can do the same, or maybe even better. Back then, I felt like absolutely nothing would ever work. But that was not true at all.
-Met a woman 10 years older than me at a social club event and dated for around a year. Her son was almost my age. Ha! I believe she made the first move if I recall correctly.
-Met another woman at a trivia club event. She had a boyfriend at the time. But they broke up a year or two later. I consoled her, she jumped me and we had sex. We dated for a about a year.
-Met a woman in a kickball league and dated her for about 9 months. She actually made the first move.
-Dated a woman for a few fun-filled months. I met her in some social club, but canít even remember which one.
-Went to a party that a new friend invited me to (I had to force myself). Once I got there, I got really brave for some reason. I chatted up one woman but she had a boyfriend. She introduced me to her friend who was at the party. We exchanged numbers, I texted her soon after and asked her on a date. She said yes and we ended up dating for a few months. She was 25 at the time I think, which was 10 years younger than me :)
-Went on a lot of dating app dates.
--Met a woman. Dated her on and off four a couple of years.
--Met a woman 4 years ago and have dated her on and off.
--Got ďghostedĒ a couple of times.
--Had to tell women that were interested in me that I wasnít interest in them.
-Numerous one-night stands with women who jumped me to my surprise. It would be tedious to go into detail about all of them. I never led them on about it leading to a relationship. They all understood (or at least said they understood) that it was just sex.
-Iíve been in love a couple of times with women who loved me back (they told me so) and it definitely felt great. I used to believe that this was completely impossble.
Women that have fallen for me told me really nice things that I never noticed about myself. Even though you may think there is absolutely nothing attractive about you, there are. You just donít know what they are yet. Itís hard to see them because we tend to focus on our weaknesses rather than our strenghts.
One thing Iíve realized is that I have a pretty quick wit, Iím good at trash-talking and Iím hilarious when talking to people in person. I can pretty much make anyone laugh. I make my friends laugh until theyíre in pain. Itís like I was getting anxious because my mind was moving too fast for my mouth and I was filtering too much to avoid hurting peopleís feelings or making them feel stupid. But when I take the gloves off, very few people can keep up with me. Some women find that very attractive. It is a power I must wield responsibly sometimes. I havenít tried impov, but I think I would be really good at it.
Iím sort of a monster now. I can get sex pretty much whenever I want from friends with benefits or by going out and meeting friends of friends. I actually have to work on saying ďnoĒ to women when they want to have sex with me. Thereís still a part of me that is insecure and itís hard for me to pass up on attention from a woman. Sometimes I even avoid meeting women because I donít want to end up having meaningless sex. I am still too afraid to approach random women and ask them out, but Iíve done pretty well without ever really doing that.
But at this point I donít just want sex. I want love. And sex is so much better when you care about each other.
Iím not saying that you should do exactly what I did or promising that youíll get the same results. I believe you can find your own methods. You might make less or more progress than me. Youíll never know unless you try.
So please keep trying even though it seems hopeless. Itís hard to see your own progress. It comes slowly and we are with ourselves all day every day, so itís hard to notice that you are improving. You WILL improve. I think everyone does if we put any amount of effort into something. It wonít be fast and I canít predict how much you will improve. This is something my therapist has been great at. He reminds me of my successes and progress that I have made. I think the cheesy clichť is true: ďEvery day, in every way, Iím getting better and better.Ē I hope that doesnít infuriate you. It would have infuriated me 10 years ago. I hope nothing I wrote discourages anybody. If it does, let me know. I might have worded some things badly.
I hope this helps someone.
"I never sleep, 'cause sleep is the cousin of death." - Nas