Dear Dr. NerdLove,
Is it wrong for me to fear women? Every time I try to talk to a girl my age they never talk back to me. They just give me weird look stare or roll their eyes. All the time. I have also had women call me creepy or weird even coworkers at my job do this. I am currently 24. I don’t look at women anymore nor do I talk to them unless they talk to me first. When I am at the store and a girl is down the aisle I will go the other way or wait for her to leave. I am afraid of women, I don’t want to be charged with a crime of stalking or something of the like. I don’t hate women, I don’t take the red pill or whatever. They just hate me. What should I do to break my fear and have a conversation with the opposite sex?
Don’t Fear The Creeper
OK, there are a couple of issues going on here.
The first is that there is something that you’re doing that’s clearly weirding women out. You may not intend to come across as creepy, but somehow you’re giving off a vibe that women – including your co-workers – are finding off-putting. And the answer is, simply: figure out what it is and stop doing that. The first step is doing some honest self-examination. Most of the time when a dude is giving off the creepy-vibe, people will have a concrete example – he may ignore personal space or constantly bring up inappropriate topics. He may address all of is questions to her cleavage or constantly be trying to touch someone, even after having been warned off. He may be missing out on social cues and not picking up on signs of disinterest or even indications that his presence isn’t wanted.
If you’re continually getting bad reactions from people when you’re approaching then, then I’d be willing to bet that the issue is most evident in either your body language or the way you’re starting the conversation. I’ve posted a list of the most common things guys do that can come off as creepy, which should be a good place to start, but it’s also a good idea to talk to your co-workers. Let them know that you understand that you come off as creepy and you’re trying to fix that, and you’d appreciate knowing just what it is that you’re doing wrong. Hopefully they’re mature enough to realize that you’re making a good faith effort to improve and will respond in kind – and that they can give you something more to work with than “everything, man”.
Your fear of women is the other issue, and I suspect that it’s amplifying everything else. When you’re obsessing about the worst possible outcome – being charged with stalking, to use your example – it’s going to end up coloring everything you do, from your body language to your word choice, even to the way you interpret the way people react to you. Intellectually, you realize that what you’re picturing is ridiculous, but hey, when your brain decides to kick things into overdrive, rationality goes out the window.
Normally when dealing with a phobia like approach anxiety, the keys are to desensitize yourself over time and to control the symptoms. The brain is ruled by the body, and the fear response is as much about your heart rate and your adrenal glands as it is about the thing that you’re afraid of. Breath control is an excellent way of calming yourself down; breathe in for the count of five, hold it for a moment or two, then breathe out to the count of 10. This helps slow your heart-rate and, in turn, calms you down.
In your case however, I suspect that you may well have a social anxiety issue, which may be an underlying cause of your other problems. It might not be the worst idea to talk to a therapist, especially someone who handles phobias and anxiety problems, about how to get that under control. Talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can go a long way towards overcoming those fears. Anti-anxiety medication may be an option as well; many anxiety disorders are chemical imbalances, and readjusting things may the key to breaking the mental cycle that causes you to tense up and panic.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help; it’s actually one of the strongest and bravest things you can do for yourself.
My girlfriend and I (I’m a lesbian if that makes a difference) have been together for almost 2 years now. I love her very much she understands me better then anyone and I can’t see my life with anyone else… but I have an issue with her attitude. She has a bad attitude towards me: she tends to take little things out on me and when I tell her she is being mean, she tells me she is not doing anything wrong. I don’t know how show her that when she talks to me like that it really hurts. We have had many fights because of her attitude; that’s what we mostly fight about. And she realizes finally when we both are in tears that she was being mean, but then I feel like we go through the same process. I don’t know where to go from here and I DON’T want to break up with her I love her too much.
Break up with her. Now.
I realize that’s the opposite of what you just told me, but the fact of the matter is, you’re in an abusive relationship. It’s an all-too-common cycle – she yells at you, finds fault in all the little things you do and refuses to see that she’s hurting you until you break down in tears and then she’s apologetic and promises you things will be better. But they’re not. She’s keeping you off balance emotionally and dangling just enough hope to keep you around, then proceeds to start the whole process over again.
And unfortunately, it’s not going to end unless you make it end. And that means leaving her. You may love her, but she’s not showing you love back. Her behavior isn’t that of a loving partner. She’s not showing you that she cares for you or respects you. She’s hurting you. And she’s doing it deliberately. Her abuse of you isn’t your fault, no matter how much she may insist that it is.
Get out. Get out now and find somebody who’s good for you. Someone who doesn’t pick on you or bully you, someone who actually cares for you and treats you with dignity and respect. It will be hard to leave – you’ve spent years building a life together, after all – but you have the strength.
You can do this.
And be sure to write back and let us know how you’re doing.
Dear Doctor, please help me. I am all torn up over staying with my girlfriend or not. We’ve been dating just over 6 months, but despite how much I like her and how well we fit together I have had doubts for much of that time. She is also my first good and real girlfriend.
As soon as I realized how well we got along and how much she liked me, I got scared. I was expecting to have to date several women and hone my skills and attitudes like you teach before I would meet such a great girl. We just got together over the internet right at the time when my life situation got good for me to have a girlfriend, like the Universe lined up for me or something. I was not ready to find myself in a good relationship so soon, because I was looking forward to the hard work and experience of dating many different girls. I feel like I stumbled backwards over the finish line, rather than running the full quarter mile oval. I’m really scared because I am afraid of hurting her, just as I’m afraid of being false to myself.
A good friend/mentor and my counselor both say that building up romantic experience is better than settling down with the first good person to come along. What I did not tell them when I sought their advice, tho, is that I am also motivated by physical beauty: I want to work hard and date beautiful women that would normally render me stupid. My current girlfriend is pretty, but less than hot. Her Whole Self still turns me on, but I cannot shake the curiosity and desire for other body sizes and shapes. What you said before stuck with me, “settling down is settling for.” If I can work to improve myself to date hotties, why not? I’d like to believe there are hot women out there who are also sensitive and caring and click with me.
One of my family said to me that I since I have so many doubts for so long that I ought to free her to find someone who is ready to love her more completely that I can.
I hope my backstory is clear, and that I have provided balanced good and bad qualities of my current nature. My question to you is which voice in my head to listen to and believe: the one that urges me to keep aiming high to develop myself as a man Good With Women (currently I am only good with woman), or the one that says I am being shallow and falling for culture’s pressure of beauty and status and that I ought to just stay with the good thing I have.
Am I being stupid for wanting to drop a pretty good relationship and person for the sake of dating more people and building up my social insecurities? Is staying put the cowardly-comfortable way to avoid the stress of learning how to meet and date more women? Should I stay with her and train myself to be content? What is the most righteous thing to do? I so want to be one of the Good Guys.
Thank you, Doctor.
Bird In The Hand
Look, can we be honest here? You’ve already made up your mind. You’re just asking me for permission to do what you want to do, which is to break up with your girlfriend and start chasing hotties because you think you can do better.
Which, hey, fair enough. You can break up with someone for any reason at all. Of course, ruining a perfectly good relationship because you want to chase supermodels is a pretty shitty reason to break up, but there’s nobody stoping you from doing it. There’s not some board out there that’s going to invalidate your break-up because you’re feeling insecure.
But I’m going to cut you some slack here – not much, because I think you’re being an idiot, but some – because I get the impression you’re pretty young and inexperienced. But that doesn’t mean it’s not on me to pound some wisdom into your head with the Chair Leg of Truth.
First of all: there is no schedule for how relationships are supposed to work. Sometimes you have to date around a lot before you find someone amazing and settle down. Sometimes you get lucky right off the bat. Two very good friends of mine met their wives in high-school. They’ve both been together for decades and are gloriously happy. Throwing away a relationship because it doesn’t go exactly according to the plan in your head is a stupid thing to do and a great way to needlessly hurt somebody.
Especially because – and I’m going to be blunt – this is almost certainly not going to be your last relationship. To be perfectly frank, the odds of this surviving over time are low, even without you slamming your hand down on the self-destruct button.
Which brings me to point two: all relationships fail until one doesn’t. And while my buddies got lucky and found their partners in their teens, that’s pretty damn rare. The vast majority of people don’t marry their childhood sweetheart.Your first relationship not lasting until death do you part, mind you, is not by definition a bad thing. Like I said: all relationships end. That doesn’t mean that there was something faulty in them or that one of you did something wrong. People change and grow over time; sometimes that means that you grow apart through no fault of one’s own. Sometimes circumstances change. Sometimes relationships just evolve into something else. A relationship ending doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a failure; after all, if you’ve had a long, loving and mostly happy relationship with somebody, especially somebody you’re still on good terms with afterwards, that hardly sounds like a failure to me.
Point three: monogamy isn’t our natural state. You’re always going to be interested in fucking other people. So’s she. That’s just how humans work; we love fucking. We love fucking so much, that we’re one of only two land-mammal species that have sex outside of estrus. This doesn’t mean that monogamy is bad or wrong, just that it’s difficult. All monogamy means is that you’ve agreed not to sleep with other people. It doesn’t say a damn thing about not wanting to, and being attracted to others doesn’t say anything about the state of your relationship.
Point four: just because you’re in a relationship with somebody doesn’t meant you stop developing or improving as a person. You don’t suddenly have a license to slack off and quit taking care of yourself just because you have a girlfriend. You can still grow, you can still improve your social skills and become a more attractive, dynamic person. The only difference is that you’ll have a partner who, hopefully, is supporting your growth and cheering you on.
Point five: It’s on you to decide what you want from life and the types of relationships you want to pursue. If you want to find someone to settle down with, that’s a perfectly valid choice. If you want to have many different sex partners because that’s just how you roll, that’s fine too. You may want an open relationship, or a poly triad or some other permutation. That’s all well and good. But it should be because that’s who you are, not because that’s how you think you should be or how society tells you that you should be. And I suspect part of your problem is that you’re buying into the idea that you need to be dating somebody who makes your friends jealous.
Real talk time: Being with somebody who makes you happy, who turns you on, who gets you and makes you laugh and helps you feel amazing is more important than dating somebody so hot that people wonder where to find the crossroad where you sold your soul. And frankly, part of how you build up your relationship XP is by being in relationships.
I think throwing someone who makes you happy aside in hopes of finding her-but-hotter is an incredibly stupid thing to do. By not appreciating what you have and focusing only on what you might be able to get is a recipe for being miserable, because you’ll always be looking for the next upgrade. After all, there’s always going to be someone hotter you could, in theory, be bangin’. You’re not looking to settle down yet, and you’re not going to be tying yourself to her forever. Learn to savor what you have for however long you may have it, rather than always looking to the horizon and thinking “yeah… but maybe I could still get Kat Dennings.”