I also know you said that there are women who are attracted to gingers but I have yet to meet one that is or maybe it’s just because I’m ugly. Who knows maybe it’s just bad luck and eventually, I meet a woman where the attraction is mutual but I doubt it.
I also want you to be brutally honestly with how I look and don’t hold back.
(And yet somehow they never seem to appreciate it when I point out that canonically, the Phantom fucks…)
This is Michael Berryman. If you’re a fan of genre entertainment, you’ve almost certainly seen him in a multitude of movies including One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Hills Have Eyes, The Devil’s Rejects, Lords of Salem and others. Mr. Berryman was born with hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia, causing him to be born without hair, finger nails or sweat glands. It’s also why he’s able to play so many monsters and mutants with a bare minimum of makeup or special effects.Mr. Berryman is, to put it charitably, a very unusual looking person. He’s never going to be a GQ cover model, nor is he likely to be voted People’s Sexiest Man any time soon. He’s also happily married and lives with his wife on their farm out in California.Michael Berryman is proof yet again that while classic good looks can help, they aren’t the only thing — or even the most important thing when it comes to being attractive. Personality, uniqueness, passion and confidence all count for as much or more when it comes to attraction. And frankly, being good looking has less to do with your physical features than it does your presentation and styling. Anyone who’s binged a couple seasons of Queer Eye can tell you just how transformative some properly fitting clothes, basic grooming and a good hair cut can be.
Your problem is entirely your attitude and your desire to prove yourself fucked by the fickle finger of fate instead of taking steps towards taking control of your life. The reason why you struggle with finding anyone who’s attracted to you can be summed up by… well, pretty much this entire letter. Nobody is going to want to date someone who’s entire outlook on life is “it’s ok if you don’t like me. I wouldn’t like me either.” There’re reasons why Eeyore isn’t considered the sex-symbol of Winnie the Pooh, after all. Even someone who thinks you’re hot sex on toast is going to pull back in the face of that much relentless negativity. There’s no amount of physical attraction that makes up for feeling like they’re going to have to be constantly reassuring you that you’re fine and everything’s ok and yes they want to be there. There’re only so many times that you can ask someone for reassurance and then turn around and basically call them a liar when they provide you with it before they’re going to peace out.
You fail because you’ve already decided that you’re going to fail. You can’t find people who like you back because you’ve already decided that they won’t. With the attitude you display here, you demonstrate that any attempt to meet someone, connect with them and build chemistry with them won’t even be half-assed; it’ll be quarter-assed at best. Then to make matters worse, because you’ve already assumed that nobody could possibly like you, you ensure that you will never be successful… regardless of the reality on the ground. Either you discount the possibilities that someone is attracted to you and assume that it’s a trick or a mistake, or you never try in the first place.
You have so latched on to this belief — and refuse to let it go — that you turn towards the most bizarre rationalizations imaginable. I mean, I’m still kind of boggled at the whole “ginger” thing. Ignoring my own dating history as a ginger, I find it somewhat astounding for you to insist that women don’t like gingers in a world where Michael Fassbender, Paul Bettany, Domnhall Gleeson and Robert Redford all exist. And then there’s this study you mention which…
Look, if I had the Infinity Gauntlet, the first thing I would do is speed construction of a Studio Ghibli theme park for myself. But the second thing I would do would make it impossible for people to cite studies if they can’t be bothered to actually read beyond the headlines. Hell, in this case, you don’t even need to shell out for the actual study; you could read the goddamn summary and realize that maybe you were misunderstanding things. I quote:
“Despite having fewer close relationships, this meta-analysis also revealed that when preterm born adults had friends or a partner, the quality of these relationships was at least as good in preterms compared to full term born adults.“
“The finding that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability. Rather preterm born children have been previously found to have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing.”
The takeaway here is that your being preterm has nothing to do with, well, anything. The issue is social skill development and atittude… both of which are things you have control over. Social skills are skills and any skill can be improved with time and deliberate practice.
But before any of that can happen, you need to sort out your outlook and your attitude first. Before you do anything else, you need to talk to a therapist. It’s pretty clear that you’re dealing with a lot of pain and self-image issues that are well beyond the scope of a loudmouth with an advice column. What you need is a trained professional to help you drill into these issues and find the solutions to help break these mental routines that you’ve been stuck in for all this time. There’s nothing wrong with you physically; the issues you have are strictly emotional and psychological… and that’s ok. That can be taken care of. But only if you actually commit to doing the work it takes to help yourself.
The best advice I can give you right now is to simply take dating off the table. People don’t need to be in perfect condition in order to date — the human population would die out in a generation if that were the case — but they do need to be in good working order. The sooner you prioritize yourself and your mental and emotional health, the sooner you’ll be in a position to date. When that day comes, you’ll understand: the only thing that has been standing in the way of the social success you dream about were these mistaken, self-limiting beliefs that you’ve been clinging to.
Greeting Dr. NerdLove,
I have been best friends with my friend (T) for the past 3 years. We were close in high-school, but recently reconnected after my divorce because I decided it was time to reestablish my support system and to find purpose outside of romantic relationships. Yay me. T has watched this journey and often is confused by my desire at the beginning of my journey to become emotionally independent, not relying on others to fuel my self-esteem.
T has a hero complex. It seems that the more burdened, needy, or out of touch a woman is, the deeper he dives into emotional attachment with her. I’ve tried to explain to him that this course of action will serve as a catalyst to unhealthy and unsatisfying relationships. Women who identify as victims, do not want to be saved. He did not believe me and did not heed my warning before impregnating the mother of his child (my goddaughter) and now they are newly split with no reconciliation in site.
Because I am his child’s godmother, I take T’s emotional well-bring very seriously and do my best to offer advice as best I can using the tools I’ve learned in my own personal growth. T does not heed this advice and so lately I’ve been pointing out when he’s not sounding like himself and referring him to his (male) friends to check his perspective. I have the suspicion that he doesn’t trust my opinion in relationships even though since my divorce I’ve made great personal strides, have more self-esteem, and am satisfied in my romantic life.
Recently T has equated “women who behave like men” (like me, in many perspectives) as having some sort of penis envy and that their goal is to castrate or emasculate him. I’ve tried explaining, that that’s not how it works, that we can’t determine how others feel based off of the actions of few, and that he should seek professional help. All to no avail.
So my question is Doc… do I continue to attempt to keep his bitterness as bay, forcing him to self reflect while he’s kicking and screaming along the way? Or do I take space/end our friendship (and my godmother-ship) as to not encourage/enable his refusal to take responsibility and seek healing fulfillment? My friends are my family, literally. They’re all I have but I’ve cut every biological toxic family member out of my life for my own good (and theirs). I’m at a loss. I understand residual bitterness after an unsuccessful relationship but I do not want to be there when bitterness becomes disdain.
What are your thoughts?
A Friend Indeed
When you say “T has a hero complex”, my Spidey-sense started going off like crazy. What you describe is what I refer to as White Knight Syndrome, a tendency for some men to focus on women they see as broken, burdened or otherwise in need of “rescuing”. The men who’re most prone to this tend to have low self-esteem and poor boundaries. They frequently don’t believe in their own worth as an individual or as a partner and tend to believe that they need to “earn” a woman’s love or attention by being a hero of some sort. This means that they have a proclivity towards finding women who either they see as victims or who present themselves or identify as victims. Because they don’t think that they have any inherent value or worth, they look for people who “need” them.
This, needless to say, rarely ends well for anyone. Sometimes they end up in a co-dependent relationship, where one partner thrives off causing drama, while the other fills his need of being needed. Other times, they end up in toxic or even abusive relationships, with partners who seek to take advantage of their low-to-nonexistant boundaries. And still other times they try to start a relationship with someone who, frankly, doesn’t want or need to be “rescued” and rather resents the fact that someone sees them as a “project”.
To make matters worse, this desire to save or rescue someone doesn’t come with the skills or the emotional wherewithal to do so. Guys who have White Knight Syndrome will often end up pursuing people with financial hardships, chronic health conditions, even disabilities… only to find out that they can’t “love” someone better. Their care and attention doesn’t magically make things right, and they rarely understand what dating someone in those situations actually means. Once they realize that either they’re in way over their heads, they (and their relationships) tend to fall apart, often leaving everyone worse off than they were before.
So I’m not surprised when he insists that women “are trying to emasculate him”; they’re refusing to treat him like the gallivanting hero he aspires to be and that cuts him to the core — not just of his identity, but to his belief that this is the only way he might find love and sex.
The problem is that, unfortunately you can’t force him to listen to sense. You can tie him up and sit on him and yell at him until you’re blue in the face… but that doesn’t mean he’ll listen. And even if he does listen, he’s not going to necessarily understand. Part of the problem is that — to be blunt — you’re a woman, and he’s already got a dim view of women who don’t “need” him. You can advise him to talk to his male friends. You can even ask his guy friends to reach out and try to explain things to him for you. Maybe if they say the same things but With A Penis, then it might penetrate.
The other part of the problem is that he’s made this part of his identity, and that’s incredibly difficult to shake. He’s going to resist any implication that things are wrong because… well, that implies that there’s something wrong with him. At best, you can hope to plant the seed that leads to change by asking questions that lead him to questioning things. What, precisely, does he mean by “they have penis envy?” Why would women want to castrate or emasculate him? What would they get out of this? Which makes more sense: that they’re trying to live their own lives and don’t “need” his help, or that they’re luring him in for shits and giggles? As two reasonable people, couldn’t you agree that this scenario seems unlikely and impractical?
This, unfortunately, isn’t a guarantee. He won’t change unless and until he’s ready to do so. That may not be for a while, if it happens at all. And if it does happen, it may not happen until he’s burned himself on the metaphorical stove… again.
At the end of the day, you’re a good friend to him and it speaks incredibly well of you that you care and want the best for him. But unfortunately, the only person who can make these changes is T. And if dealing with T becomes detrimental to your own mental and emotional health and well-being… well, then as hard as it can be, you have to be willing to prioritize your own needs first. As the saying goes: you have to make sure your own oxygen mask is secure before helping someone else with theirs.
Are you ready to take your love life to the next level? If you’ve been waiting for a masterclass in how to develop the skills to transform your dating life and find that new special someone when you’re ready, then you’ll want to sign up for the beta test of the Dating Accelerator Program — an 8 week seminar where I will be teaching you and a limited number of students how to transform your dating life and help you find the social success you’ve always dreamed of. Visit NerdLove Academy to learn more and save YOUR spot in the Dating Accelerator Program. Spots are limited, and the sign-up ends this month, so don’t hesitate!