Hello Dr. Nerdlove!
I am a 17 year old nerd girl who needs some help.
Basically, I’ve been desperately madly in love probably three or four times in my life. I have always thought of myself as fat and unattractive, so in relationships, I have found myself to feel as if I put in much more effort into the relationship than the other person, to have either me ending it because I feel as if I am the only one who cares, or the other person ending it because they feel as if I like them more than they like me. These two relationships were a while ago, in 2010, both of them. After that I had some minor crushes, until I once more fell head over heels for an amazing guy. I was in love with him for a good about six months (during which he 1) broke up with his first girlfriend and 2) got a new one). As I got over him, I noticed that I was starting to fall for my best friend (this all happened in boarding school). All my life, I have claimed that all humans are bisexual, and that we fall in love with a person and not a gender, but this was a theory I developed before I started feeling sexually attracted to people at all.
I left boarding school this summer to move to my hometown, where I was overwhelmed with loneliness – a feeling that only got worse as I started school here. My friend (acquaintance, person in my life whom I don’t really care for) told me that she’d met her girlfriend over an LGBT dating website – and since there aren’t really any other dating websites for people under 18, I figured why not.
Over this website, I met a girl. We met up in early December, and have sporadically been going on dates since. I’d call her my girlfriend if someone asked.
This is where my problem starts.
I am not actually attracted to her.
She is beautiful, and smart and everything, but I’m not actually attracted to her, or in love with her. Now, you might be wondering why I’m together with her if I’m not attracted to her, but the thing is, I feel like I would so much rather be in a relationship than be single. Being single is the worst thing ever. And it is completely insane that someone actually wants me! She actually likes me and says that I’m pretty!
I find myself feeling a bit turned on by her every now and then – but then I realize that I’m not actually desiring her as much as I’m actually just desiring another human being. I’m quite introverted and like being by myself, I often even prefer that to being with her – and if she asks to hang out, it’s a mix of “woo Achievement unlocked: got a girlfriend” and “I really just want to be on the internet”.
So basically, this is making me confused. I thought I was attracted to girls as well as guys (I will also admit that I went through a phase where I watched lesbian porn a lot, even though I found it objectifying), but not being attracted to her has me thinking that I might actually be painfully, boringly straight. Or maybe I’m just not attracted to her – and I can’t decide what’s worse.
As I said, I’m a bit introverted (outspoken and witty at times, but social interaction exhausts me), and I’m very picky about who I hang out with. It takes a lot for me to like a person for who they are and not just because I need a friend and they will have to do.
I am quite intellectual, and I have quite high standards of intelligence for the people around me. I don’t find that anyone in my new high school matches the intelligence and depth of the classmates in my boarding school, and I’m not patient enough to get to know them well enough to discover such a side to them. I have a feeling that my relationship with my girlfriend an attempt at making up for the intimacy (physical and emotional) that I lost moving away. If I break up with my girlfriend, I will be alone. It’s not oneitis – it is being realistic. Two years went by with me being single, no matter how I tried. Boys don’t like me, and the 0.3 who might, I don’t. I’ve been asked to a date once in my entire life, and I have never had someone else initiate a relationship with me. Really it’s all about loneliness. Both platonic loneliness and romantic loneliness. I love being alone – I just want it to be of my own choice rather than because I don’t have anyone.
So, what I’m really wondering is can I make myself fall in love with, or at least feel more attracted to her? And if not, should I break up? She knows I’m not in love with her – we’ve talked about that. She doesn’t know that I’m not really attracted to her.
I don’t want to be alone. I really, really don’t. I suspect that I am somehow, subconsciously, waiting for something else, and that I will leave her as soon as someone else comes along. Is that wrong though? If I know it is not going to happen within the near future?
And the other part, is it possible to be in love with only one girl in your life? I don’t want to be a hasbian – but I am attracted to quite a lot of boys, and not that often or to that many girls in real life. But if a guy only enjoys gay porn, wouldn’t that be a sign that he is at least bisexual?
P.S. I’m sorry for any grammatical and/or spelling mistakes – English isn’t my first language!
P.P.S. Thank you so much for this blog, it’s incredibly helpful even to nerd girls.
– Confused Nerd Girl
There’s a lot to unpack here, but let’s take it by urgency. The more immediate needs first, the other, longer-term issues after.
So first things first: break up with your girlfriend.
You know all of those guys you dated where you cared more for them than they did for you? Remember how much that sucked?
Guess what you’re doing to your girlfriend.
You said it yourself: you’re not attracted to her, you prefer not to spend time with her and you’re keeping her around because you think being single is worse than being with someone you don’t actually like all that much. This is incredibly fucking selfish of you; you’re basically using someone else, someone who actually cares for you because you’re afraid of being alone. All that’s going to happen is that eventually either your girlfriend is going to realize what’s going on – that she’s a glorified security blanket – or you’re going to find someone whom you are attracted to and end up dumping her. In either case: this is going to hurt her like you wouldn’t believe and it’s all your fault. It’s unbelievably unfair to her for you to be in a relationship with her under false pretenses, a relationship that she has no reason to believe is not genuine and based on mutual respect and attraction.
Break up with her. Now. Do it quickly and cleanly; don’t give long rationalizations about it, don’t tell her that you’re basically using her. Just “I’m not ready to be in a relationship with anyone and it isn’t fair to you to keep stringing you along”. The cleanest break heals fastest and she’ll be able to move on to someone else, someone who actually cares about her and wants to spend time with her, not treating her like a trophy that says “I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!” to make you feel better.
Next: human sexuality isn’t nearly as binary as some people make it out to be. Sexual orientation is a continuum – some people are completely heterosexual, some people are completely homosexual and some people fall somewhere in between. Some of those in between fall closer to being gay and may round up to gay rather than bi; others fall closer to straight and may round up to straight. In your case, it can be hard to tell from the evidence given. You’ve got a crush on your best friend; you may be bi or it just may be something about her specifically that other women don’t have.
One stale relationship with a girl doesn’t mean that you’re not bi; it just means that she doesn’t do it for you. Getting off to lesbian porn could mean that you lean towards the bi side of things, or it could just be this is something that gets your motor running the way that gay male porn turns on some straight women.
(Incidentally: I’m working under the assumption that the lesbian porn you were watching was the usual girl-on-girl-for-straight-males type. Small wonder you found it objectifying; it’s about women performing for a male audience rather than a lesbian audience. One of the easiest ways to tell the difference? Check the fingernails. Long fingernails in a girl-on-girl scene usually means it’s intended for dudes.)
You may have an attraction to women, you may not. My question would be: who do you think about when you’re getting yourself off? Men? Women? Either, depending on the mood you’re in? That answer will give you a better idea of where you fall on the continuum between gay and straight.
Finally: the reason why you’re so determined to find a significant other ASAP is because you’re still clinging on to the idea that you’re fat and unattractive. You want to believe that you’re attractive to others – thus having someone to date is proof that hey, you’re actually pretty awesome after all! The problem is that a) this is a shitty basis for a relationship, b) it’s unfair to the person you’re dating and c) it doesn’t actually solve the underlying issue. Having a relationship for you is a matter finding a source of validation, someone (or something) that makes you feel as though you really are attractive after all. Except… it won’t. Not for very long. Your real issue – how you feel about yourself – is still there; all that’s happened is that you’ve papered over the hole and are trying to pretend that it’s all taken care of. And as with any surface solution, it doesn’t last. You’ll still have those nagging insecurities creeping around your brain, making you need more and more reassurance and validation from your partner that yes you are attractive… and there will still be that part of you that eventually will quit being able to believe them. And so the cycle repeats itself, over and over again as you keep trying to treat the symptoms instead of addressing the actual problem at it’s source.
You need to spend some time working on yourself and learning how to love and accept yourself and internalizing that locus of control. I know it sounds like pop-psychology-good-feelings-woo-woo bullshit but it’s true: you need to be able to love yourself before you can really have a healthy relationship with others. After all, what you want is a partner-in-crime, not a nurse or a shrink who’re supposed to magically heal you through the power of their luuuuurve. I’d recommend talking to a counselor or a therapist to help with your self-esteem issues, as well as learning how to make yourself feel attractive. And – of course – my standard recommendation of “live an awesome life” filled with passion (even if it’s a quiet passion), exploration (even if it’s by yourself) and intellectual engagement: it will make you feel better as a person as well as making you more appealing to others.
And honestly: you’re 17. You’re crazy-young. I realize that time seems to drag on forever and everything feels amplified and larger than life when you’re in your teens, but being single – even for an extended period of time – isn’t the worst thing in the world. You need to cultivate patience. You don’t know people at your school because you’ve made snap-judgements about them and – by your own admission – you haven’t taken the time to actually get to know them on an individual level. Your own attitude towards them is part of what’s holding you back. The sooner you start to change that, the more emotional intimacy – and more potential relationship partners – you will have.