Dear Dr. NerdLove: I’ve found myself in a bit of a spot.
Through these trying times, I was able to connect with someone and the chemistry is definitely there. We have even talked about how we can’t wait to jump each others pants once this whole COVID thing blows over. We communicate fairly regularly and I am definitely excited, as she appears to be. However, there’s the ‘issue’ of distance, seeing as she lives like 8 hours away.
I say ‘issue’ because we kind of have agreed to meet halfway and getting there won’t really be a problem. The problem is the ‘when’. My fear is that the longer this progresses, the more likely it is that the intensity will fade and by the time it’s over, or at least safe enough to take a two hour flight for some hanky panky, well, there just won’t be as much incentive. This girl is not going to have any problem getting someone to scratch that itch and I’m wary that she may just decide, well, dick is dick and this just happens to be closer. While I can also get somebody to get me off, well, at this point, it’s clear that for me it’s more about having sex with her in particular.
So, any advice, Doc? Am I looking at this all wrong because we’re quarantined and oh-so-horny? Is there another way to approach this?
I appreciate it, Doc! Stay safe.
Horny in Quarantine
This is a case of “the problem you think you have isn’t the problem that you think you have”, HIQ.
Let’s start with a truth: it is difficult to have a long-distance relationship and have a perfectly monogamous one — especially when there’s no end point and few opportunities to meet in person. It’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but the physical separation can make it harder to perform monogamy — already something people tend to struggle with — perfectly. People have needs for physical contact and want to be physically intimate with the person they’re dating or in a relationship with. Not having that physical connection can make things difficult, and pretending that’s not the case doesn’t make it any easier — especially when it’s a relationship where you haven’t even met in person yet.
Here’s another truth: you’re not exclusive with this person yet, nor should you be. You’re both hornt up and excited and everything is new and thrilling… but it’s also strictly online. One of the things people often forget is that emotional chemistry isn’t the same thing as physical chemistry. You can get all kinds of turned on by someone’s picture or when you’re on video chats with one another only to discover that in person you have all the sexual connection of a brick. A very unsexy brick. Keeping your expectations reasonable is going to be a core part of not over-investing in someone that you haven’t even met yet.
Here is a third truth: it’s entirely possible that she might hook up with someone before the two of you get together. After all, you’re both free agents, as it were. Neither of you are exclusive and — again — you shouldn’t be. The odds that she will are relatively low; social distancing and quarantining is still a thing after all. However, if she does, that says a lot about her and calls to question whether you should be hooking up with her. Not because of her banging someone else, but because of acceptable levels of risk. Despite states trying to reopen their economies and easing shelter-in-place rules, COVID-19 is still running rampant through the population. We still don’t have effective treatments, never mind vaccines or cures and we simply aren’t testing enough people to make it safe enough to start getting back to something approximating normal again. If she’s hooking up with someone she’s not currently quarantined with… well, that’s a level of risk that I think most people would be willing to accept right now and says a lot about her.
But all that having been said: you’re worrying about the wrong thing and you’re definitely approaching things from the wrong angle. The first is the assumption that dick is dick and that the fact that she’s attractive means that she can get laid any time she wants. This is an incredibly common and, frankly, kinda ignorant thing that guys say about women a lot. This idea about women tends to be revealing more about the men who hold it and their relationship to others than the reality of who has the power in dating. While it’s true that some, even many, women get offers of dick more frequently from men than men get offers of sex from random women… that doesn’t mean that every woman does. Nor, for that matter does it mean that the dick they’re getting offered is of desirable quality. Even people who just want to get their rocks off infinitely prefer having at least some interest in the person they’re planning on having sex with. Folks who’re content to use other people like a breathing dildo or a living Fleshlight exist… but they’re people you never want to actually have sex with.
And again: the fact that lots of people may be offering someone sex doesn’t mean that the sex on offer is sex they’d actually want to have. Saying that women are spoiled for choice is often like saying that nobody should be starving when there’s perfectly good garbage behind restaurants. As Alana Massey once said: dick is abundant and of low value.
That part you said about it being about sex with a particular partner right now? That’s true for her, too.
(And being attractive doesn’t guarantee you’re getting attention at all; Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle is a great example of how being physically attractive doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be getting unending offers of sex from guys around you. Poor Nicole; you’re like the third Schuyler sister…)
The fact that dick may be abundant in this woman’s life doesn’t mean that she’s going to take anyone up on their offer just because it’s there, any more than you’re going to grab a sandwich off the ground just because you’re feeling peckish. While plenty of folks, regardless of gender, have hooked up because they had an itch that needed scratching, the fact is that she’s expressing interest in you. The guy who’s eight hours away. If the only thing she was looking for was a quick lay, she wouldn’t be excited about having connected with you, spending time chatting with you or making plans for the two of you to bang like a screen door in a hurricane. Nobody invests that much time, effort or energy in someone who they see as good for a one-off, never to be seen again.
By that same token: if the only reason why she was interested in hooking up with you in however many weeks or months down the line before it’s safe to travel again is because she’s just THAT hornt up, and her banging someone else would end her attraction to you… well, then that relationship was never one that was going to make it past that first hook-up, if you even made it to that point in the first place. You’d be justified in thanking whatever gods you believe in that you dodged that bullet.
But more to the point: there comes a point where you have to either trust your connection with her or give up. It’s possible that yes, she could find a guy for a quick maintenance fuck… but that doesn’t mean that she’d lose interest in you. Like I said: she isn’t investing this kind of time and energy because you’re the only available guy in a 500 mile radius, she’s doing this because she’s interested in you, specifically. Not because you scored highest on a point system, not because you’re the last single man in the county, but because she is attracted to you, has fun talking to you and wants to climb you like a tree. Even if she did bang someone else, that doesn’t change the fact she loves talking to you and wants to see you… any more than it would if you found someone to give you a helping hand and take the edge off things.
In the meantime, the two of you should keep things exciting. Flirting and teasing is a great way to keep the spark going, even when you have to be apart from one another. Think of it like feeding fuel to a fire; you’re giving it enough to keep things going, not to let it rage out of control. Flirty texts, suggestive pictures, talking out fantasies of what you’d like to do... these are all ways of keeping a sexual charge going when you can’t be there in person. You can even let things build with video chats, whether it’s watching porn together, games like strip liars poker or having mutual masturbation sessions via Skype or Facetime.
The key is to be creative and proactive; the more effort you both put in, the more likely you are going to be able to keep the spark going until you are able to meet in person.
There’s a non-zero chance that she could decide to not wait, or decide to date someone else, yes. But that’s true for you too. It’s also as true even if you were both in the same city and able to meet more often. You can either worry about other people, or you can focus on your connection with her. Getting prickly about whether there’re other guys in her life will kill her attraction to you far faster than the distance will.
Dear Dr. NerdLove,
About a month ago I found a cool female Twitch streamer. I really liked her content, I ended up in her Discord, we talked a lot, played a few games together, yada yada yada.
Everything was going fine but then about a week later I found out (not from her) that she had a boyfriend. Intellectually I knew that that shouldn’t bother me because it’s not like either of us had ever talked about the possibility of a romantic relationship, but emotionally I knew I was swimming dangerously close to one-itis.
I decided to go nuclear: unfollowed on Twitter, stopped going to her streams, left the Discord, etc. I was doing okay, but then two weeks later she messaged me on Discord to say hey, I miss you, hope you’re doing okay. Against my better judgment, I replied that I was doing okay and I was just dealing with some personal things that I didn’t feel comfortable talking about yet. That wasn’t really a lie but it wasn’t the entire truth either.
My question is: do you think that was the right response? Intellectually I know that telling the truth wasn’t going to lead to anything good, but I also feel bad about lying.
– Twitch is Confusing Sometimes
I see it’s time to talk about parasocial relationships again.
I get a lot of letters from people, looking for advice on how to hook up with various “celebrities” — which ranges from honest-to-god celebrities to famous YouTubers and podcasters, cosplayers, cam girls and, yes, Twitch streamers. I’ve also dealt with a lot of people who’ve become apocalyptically upset when they found out that their favorite cosplayer or YouTuber or what-have-you is actually in a relationship with someone. For a lot of people, it’s treated like a betrayal — how dare they give me the vague hope that I might hook up with them if they ever actually knew I existed beyond tipping them on stream?
The problem is that people get invested in what’s ultimately a one-sided relationship — what’s known as a parasocial relationship. It feels real because you see them so often that you feel like you know them… but it’s not. It’s simply that you’re exposed to them so frequently that you feel like you have a connection that isn’t actually there. This is something of a quirk of human psychology; the more exposure we have to something or someone, the more we come to like it or them.And since the human brain doesn’t necessarily distinguish between the exposure of seeing someone on a screen and in person… well, people develop strong feelings about folks they’ve only ever seen on screen.
And while this phenomena is older than cinema, the dynamics of Twitch and YouTube mean that we see far more of our favorite streamers than we do of movie stars. Similarly, the percieved intimacy of Twitch and YouTube encourages a sense of “authenticity” and vulnerability and “realism” that people respond to… even when it may well be entirely manufactured. Moreover, there are financial incentives to build that sense of connection; the more streamers and YouTubers create a sense of community — whether they’re Critters, Murderinos, NerdFighters (no relation) or other communities — the more invested the fans are and the more likely they are to support the creators. Sometimes this community includes a greater sense of access to said creators; you may never be at the table with Caduceus and Beau and Jester, but you might have access to other streamers’ Discords or private AMAs etc. that increase that sense of “I know them”.
(We’ll pause to appreciate the irony as I pointedly don’t look at my Patreon link…)
The problem is that some folks see this relationship as being more than it actually is. That increased level of access can create a feeling that you know them better than you actually do, that you’re closer than you actually are. That can create complications. Having that perceived level of access can make it feel like there’s more there than actually exists and make people feel like you have a sense of ownership over them… or developing crushes on them. Crushes that go beyond the sort of fantasies we might hold aboout other, more distant celebrities. Crushes that feel like you might actually have a chance.
But you don’t. And having that fantasy shattered — say, by her having a boyfriend — can be painful.
Which brings us to your situation. I think going nuclear was an overreaction, and one that didn’t do you any favors in the long run. One of the skills we all need to develop is how to pivot off a crush or an attraction that we can’t realize, for one reason or another. Learning that attraction isn’t a command that you need to act on is a vital life skill, especially if you find yourself attracted to someone you can’t just cut off. But hey, that was your call and it was the best choice you could have made with the tools you had at the time.
What you shouldn’t do is tell her that you cut her off because you had a crush on her. Telling her about it only serves to make your emotions her responsibility… even if that’s not your intent. After all, this wasn’t something that she encouraged; she didn’t gaslight you into thinking you had a chance, she didn’t lead you on and she wasn’t maliciously hiding the fact that she has a boyfriend. Telling her “I had to go because I want to date you and I can’t” only sets up a dynamic where now she has to manage your feelings, lest she feel like she’s encouraging you somehow. That’s not fair to her in the slightest.
Telling her “hey, I had some personal stuff to deal with, it’s all good” was the best option there. That sense that you’re lying to her about it? That’s the hope that if you tell her that you’ve got a crush on her, she’ll reveal that she feels the same way. She doesn’t and that feeling is just one more way of holding onto the fantasy that you might have a chance and — bluntly — you don’t. It’s better to let this go and give yourself some space to let things go. When things have subsided, then you can resubscribe and re-follow. But what you don’t need to do is tell her about it later. Your crush on her isn’t her business to handle, it’s yours and knowing the difference is a mark of maturity.