I am writing in hopes that you may have some helpful or otherwise inspiring information regarding my best friend. He is an incredibly depressed 26 year old virgin with absolutely no self esteem.
As of this writing, I confess that I have exhausted my ability to help and am rapidly losing patience with his inability to be positive, but he is so incredibly smart that it’s hard to argue with him as he makes some depressing yet unfortunately realistic points.
I met ‘X’ (for anonymity sake) in 2009 while working at a local radio station. We instantly bonded over mutual love for music and I will be the first to tell you that he is a great guy. He is extremely smart, funny and good natured but suffers from crippling depression and terrible social anxiety.
X will often avoid the topic of women and relationships like a plague but whenever we do discuss dating, he insist that he has “nothing to offer a woman” or that “his taste is unrealistic” or “guys like me just belong in the friendzone.”
The funny thing is that if anyone were to meet X, they may have no clue there is anything wrong. He is very funny and has become good at faking being social, but is so strangely convinced that no woman would ever want anything more than a platonic friendship.
A little bit about X:
- He’s not ugly, but honestly not great looking. (Charlie Day with a bigger beard)
- He’s only 5’6″ (I’m 5’8″ and my height has never been an issue, but he insists “no woman wants a manlet”)
- He was bullied in High School and College for not being a “guys guy” as he puts it.
- His last and only girlfriend was gorgeous, but treated him like shit before dumping him on Valentines Day.
- He has no real friends, just me and his band (although they do treat him like shit)
- He doesn’t drink or do drugs which he thinks makes him boring.
- He insists that “Online Dating is only for attractive guys”
- He is terrified that he’s gonna end up as some single mother’s personal ATM
- My girlfriend even admits that she doesn’t like him and refuses to introduce him to any of her friends.
My question to you is Is there any hope for this poor guy? I truly believe that he could make some girl very happy but how do you convince someone who has seemingly only seen the worst of society that good people still exist?
Oof. I feel for ya, FI; there really isn’t much that’s more frustrating than trying to help somebody who steadfastly refuses to be helped. And therein lies the problem: he refuses to be helped. One of the keys to changing and improving is that he has to believe that change is even possible in the first place.
Like a lot of people I encounter – in consultations, in the letters I get and in the comments section – it seems like your buddy X has made “I Am Hopeless and Pathetic” part of his identity. Once the idea of “Not Being Good With Girls” and “Nobody Wants Me” becomes part of who you are – and in fairness, having folks bully him for not being sufficiently manly would be a big part of it – it’s very hard to shake. We instinctively want to protect our identity, even when it hurts us. When we run across things that challenge our identity, the Backfire Effect kicks in and makes us double down on what we already believe. Look at the incel (or “involuntarily celibate”) community; it becomes an example of nominative determinism, where by having adopted the identity, you have also accepted that you are functionally hopeless. And while the despair and frustration is understandable… if you define yourself as being uniquely fucked by the universe, then you’ve basically given away your power. You have made yourself helpless. And it’s very much a self-reinforcing cycle; nobody likes an Eeyore and the guys who are the most vocal about how much it sucks that women don’t like guys like them tend to actively turn off women. I mean, if he’s going on and on about how hypergamous single mothers are gonna steal his money and leave him taking care of somebody else’s kid, I’m not fucking surprised that your girlfriend won’t inflict him on her friends.
Unfortunately, like a Buddhist monk paying twenty bucks for a five dollar hot dog, your friend has to discover that true change comes from within. You can provide him with counter-arguments – Oscar Isaac is 5’7″, Daniel Radcliffe is 5’5″ and so on. You can offer to be his wingman, to take him shopping or to singles mixers or even just drag his ass to therapy. But at the end of the day, unless he decides to change, nothing is going to happen.
What he needs is to do is scrap everything and start over. The first thing he should do ditch his asshole bandmates so he doesn’t have their toxic bullshit weighing him down. Then he needs to get himself into therapy and talking to a counselor who can help him deal with the very real psychic pain he’s carrying around. If he can start learning that those past experiences were legitimately awful but things he can recover from, then he can start making the life changes that’ll help him become the sort of person he always dreams about being. But none of that can start until he gets his shit together.
So you could get him copies of New Game + and When It Clicks and wave them under his nose like a talisman1. But until he makes up his mind that yes, he can change, he’s just going to make things worse for himself.
The only thing I can suggest is that you draw a line in the sand: until he starts talking to a therapist – not just “thinks about it” or “goes once” but actually commits – then you’re not going to listen to his complaints any more. You have the roadmap to his recovery, but if he’s going to refuse to follow it… well, you’re not going to listen to him dig himself in any deeper.
You can lead him to the path he needs to talk, but it’s on him to walk it.
Good luck, FI. And let us know how things go with your buddy.
I’m a relatively recent divorcee (about 6 months post D-Day) and I’ve had some trouble getting into the swing of being intimate with new partners. I’ve read your blog for a while and have found it quite helpful with dating advice and with self improvement. So I figured maybe you can help me out.
So a little background to explain my situation. I got married very young (I was 20 years old!). And we were married for about 9.5 years. We have 2 awesome little guys together and are good co-parents. My ex and I decided a couple years before we got divorced that we would try polyamory. We had both been interested in it for a while before hand and thought it would bring us together like it had with some friends of ours. We probably should have realized that we were more interested in being just friends with each other but that’s water under the bridge. Eventually we realized that the romance and attraction was gone in the marriage and saw a couple marriage counselors before deciding to file for divorce.
Now to the heart of the matter. I have actually been really successful with dating in my opinion. I’ve actually been mostly focusing on finding myself and living my life for myself and my kiddos. Also on being the fun persons I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve mostly stuck with online dating because it’s the easiest option for a now single dad. I’ve met a few girls I’ve liked and discovered a problem. When it comes to sexy time I panic and get out of the mood right as things are about to get fun.
More specifically I met two girls who wanted to sleep with me and with both of them the time got ruined by my own brain. In both cases things started out okay with foreplay but I just couldn’t get over a fear of being impotent and panicking about how I was going to have another failed relationship. The first girl I wasn’t that physically attracted to so I thought maybe it was that combined with the newness of being single after so long. The second girl I’m really really attracted to not only physically but she and I really hit off when we are hanging out. This time I also panicked because I hadn’t felt a connection like this in a really long time and I thought I must be falling for this girl way too fast.
So I’ve been seeing a counselor for a bit related to depression/anxiety but otherwise I am in pretty good physical health (I’m 30 and ran a marathon this past fall and have started training for more races this year). Do you have any advice for men to help get over the feeling of impotence and the fears surrounding this touchy subject. I love you blog and I hope that maybe this can help not just me but other guys out there struggling.
Single dad looking for help
Dude. DUDE. Go easy on yourself, man. You’re only six months out of a nearly decade long relationship. Even in a mostly amicable divorce, that’s going to do a number on your brain. You need to recognize that you are still in a state of transition. You have ten years worth of habits and behaviors built up like the relationship equivalent of muscle memory, only now half of those muscles aren‘t there anymore. Relationships change our identity at a fundamental level. We don’t just become two people who live together, we merge into a single gestalt entity like a fleshy Voltron that can’t agree on what to eat on Saturday night. Only now part of you is gone and there’s a part of your brain that’s kinda freaking out at that while it heals and you rediscover who you are now.
So you need to give yourself a break here. I’m not saying “don’t date”, but I am saying “turn down your expectations”. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon three months after having busted your ankle, would you? You’re still in the break-up equivalent of physical therapy; it’s going to take some time to get back into competitive shape again. Rushing things because you “should” be ready is a great way to re-injure yourself.
Here’s how you deal with these issues you’re having.
First: you quit worrying about the future. The only thing you should be interested in with these girls is “right now”. Maybe things won’t work out with them. That’s fine: that’s for the future. You are just going to enjoy what you have right now. Right now, you’re realizing that women still think you’re damn sexy. Right now, you’re remembering that you have options and that being divorced isn’t the end of the word. Right now, you are just going experience things to their fullest without worrying about what may happen later on. The future will take care of itself. You can enjoy what you have right now.
Second: Take your penis off the table. The great thing about sex is that there’s more to it than your cock and her vaj. If your dick won’t get hard, guess what? You still have two hands. You still have a tongue. You know what never goes soft at the wrong moment? Your fingers. Sex toys. Your mouth. So don’t put pressure on yourself to perform with your penis. Penetration is off the menu for a bit. Make out like teenagers without the expectation of fucking. Use your fingers and your thumbs to get her off. Use sex toys. Go down on her for so long that you grow gills. Learn – really learn – how much you can give someone pleasure without needing to make your cock the main event. The less pressure you put on yourself to have Magic Dick, the less likely that anxiety is going to rear it’s ugly head and deflate things like the saddest pool-toy.
Third: this one is important, so I want you to pay attention. You ready?
Stop referring to your marriage as a “failed relationship”. Tattoo that backwards on your forehead so you see it in the mirror when you wake up. Shave your head if you need the room.
Your relationship didn’t fail, your relationship ended. There’s a difference. Not every relationship is going to last forever, and not every relationship should. Not every relationship is going to be an epic love story. Some are going to be short stories. Some are going to be dirty limericks. And that’s fine.
You’re not a failure because you or your wife didn’t die in the saddle. You were together for ten years, you have some awesome kids and you are able to co-parent successfully? That’s fucking impressive, man. The fact that you and your ex-wife are able to work together to raise your kids, that you have this core of, if not affection than at least respect for one another and that you don’t look at each other and wish you could just flay the skin off the other and throw them into a vat of tequila? That’s a sign that your relationship was a success. All that happened is that your relationship came to it’s natural end. That’s not failure by any stretch of the imagination.
So give yourself a break, SDLFH. You’ve got a lot going for you, but I think you’re expecting too much all at once. Take some time. Enjoy the present without worrying about the future. And realize that yes, your marriage may have ended… but it was still a success for what it was.
- and hey, may as well do it anyway… maybe it’ll give him incentive to improve [↩]