When you write a dating advice column, one of the inevitable questions that comes up is the idea of inexperience.
For many men, especially as they get older, dating inexperience is a vicious catch-22. Women – supposedly – won’t date a man with little or no dating experience. Of course that then leads to the question of just how is he’s supposed to get that experience…
For a lot of men, the anxiety surrounding their dating inexperience can be overwhelming. They become intimidated by women whom they fear have more experience than they do. They become too afraid to approach anyone, never mind people they’re attracted to. They set themselves up for failure by looking for reasons why others couldn’t possibly like them or why they couldn’t improve, and wait for the Universe to deliver instead.
But your inexperience doesn’t have to be the handicap you think it is. Here’s how to overcome your dating inexperience and find the success you want.
Dating By The (Lack Of) Numbers
Whether they recognize it or not, a lot of people treat dating like a game. To them, dating is less of an organic experience and more of a collection of statistics, perfect builds and arbitrary rules that bear absolutely no relationship to reality. Much like that annoying guy who’d rage quit from your DOTA session if you didn’t do things Just So, they treat dating as a series of steps that must be performed in a deliberate order by a specific time and failure to do so means that you’ll never succeed.
To these would-be dating Min-Maxers, you have a limited time within which to get your various firsts – your first date, your first kiss, your first sexual experience, etc. If you miss that window, then you’re fucked; you’re now saddled with a permanent debuff to your dating odds that you’ll never overcome.
Of course, this window of opportunity bears about as much resemblance to reality as Pokemon does to animal husbandry. The numbers are arbitrary and invented and almost always tend to be pulled from thin air; I’ve had 15 year olds email me in desperation, deathly afraid that they missed their window and are now doomed to lead sexless lives forevermore.
Some of this comes from simply not knowing the real statistics when it comes to sex and relationships. We tend to make assumptions based around expectations built up by pop-culture and expectations about what makes a “real” man, assuming that everybody (but us) has been riding the sex train since the 5th Grade while we’re still Machokeing our Combusken at 19. In reality, it’s the constant talking about sex and relationships that leads us to think that everyone else has had more sex than we have.
The numbers are actually fairly small; the average man has around 6 sexual partners in his lifetime and usually loses his virginity between the ages of 17 to 24. In fact, the younger you are, the odds higher are that you’re actually going to have fewer partners than previous generations.
But here’s the fun thing about numbers: they don’t tell you as much as we think. Someone who’s had many sex partners may be the last of the red hot lovers… or they may be unable to keep a relationship going. Someone who’s had very few may well be shy and awkward… or he may have had a long, happy relationship with one person.
Numbers mean sweet fuck all.The thing is, no matter what some STEMBros believe, relationships aren’t math problems and statistics. Dating and relationships are sloppy affairs, a collision of sexual chemistry, lifestyle compatibility and no small amount of luck. Numbers are data, dating is about people.
So even if you do happen to be on the far end of the dating curve, how do you keep your inexperience from working against you?
Own Your Inexperience, Don’t Let It Own You
First things first: you need to own your lack of dating experience.
However, there’s a significant difference between owning your inexperience and letting it own you. If you venture into any ForeverAlone or incel community like /r9k/, you’ll see hundreds of people lamenting how much sex they’ve never had and how the world is conspiring against them. That’s not taking ownership of being socially inexperienced; that’s making it the core of your identity and letting it overtake your life.
The difference is deceptively simple, but it makes a world of difference. See, one of the fears of being inexperienced is that your potential partners will see it as a negative. The assumption is that women (because this is almost always a hetero male issue) will only date a man who can rock their worlds and a virgin has no chance of pleasing her. And once he does, she will spread the word through the Cute Girl Network and ensure he’s blacklisted from all sexual activities in the future.
Others worry that women will be able to smell their inexperience the way bees can smell fear and reject them out of hand because FUCK YOU, THAT’S WHY.
Of course, if you’re wearing your inexperience like a shame tarp, then, it’s hardly surprising that women are going to reject you, isn’t it? 9 times out of 10, the problem women have with inexperience isn’t the lack, it’s the attitude.
(That remaining 1 out of 10 has done you the favor of self-selecting out of your dating pool and you should be grateful that you don’t need to deal with them.)
When you’re treating your lack of dates or sexual activity as a crime perpetuated against you by the universe, it makes you considerably less attractive to… well just about anyone, really. If you dig into women’s reasons for why they might not want to date someone with little experience, it’s almost always about how they behave and the attitudes they had towards themselves, towards women and towards relationships.
So let’s talk about that a little, shall we?
Don’t Make Excuses
There’s two ways that making excuses doesn’t help you. First and foremost is trying to rationalize away your inexperience. You don’t need to explain or justify it; trying to find reasons why it’s less “shameful” than others’ just reinforces the idea that there’s something shameful about it in the first place. You don’t need to explain or excuse your lack of dating experience; “I had other priorities” or “Just hadn’t met the right person” are all you need to say if pressed. It is what it is and that’s fine.
However, there’s more to making excuses than trying to find a “good enough” reason (again: you don’t need a reason) why you’ve had few (or no) relationships or sexual partners.
Something I’m always saying is that excuses don’t help; they’re a way of getting out of taking responsibility for your actions. This is just as true with a lack of dating experience as it is with other areas in life. Having little (or no) experience has nothing to do with who you are as a person; it’s a contextless data point in your life. Your behavior is what gives it context.
Take, for example, physical affection. Many people who have no dating or sexual experience worry about being a bad kisser or a bad lay or not knowing how affectionate to be in public or any of a myriad insecurities and anxieties. But experience doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be any better at these things. There are plenty of people – men and women both – whose kissing technique leaves much to be desired, even after having had dozens of partners.
No matter how many partners we’ve had or haven’t had, we all come to a new relationship not knowing the other person’s likes and dislikes. Just because the last 40 women you made out with liked the Swirly-Go-Round doesn’t mean that it’s not going to make your next partner’s skin crawl. Great sex isn’t about technique, it’s about comfort and familiarity. A great lover – even one who may not be experienced – is one with a willingness to listen, learn and adapt as needed. You don’t know what to do or how to proceed? OK… so learn. Do your research where you can (here’s a great place to start…), take some risks, make some mistakes. Letting your inexperience be your excuse for not trying or expecting someone else to always lead isn’t going to do you any good.
Similarly, letting your inexperience dictate your behavior is a loser’s game. Yes, you’re worried that you won’t know what to do. Everybody feels that way, especially in the early days of a new relationship when everything is wonderful and you’re afraid of putting your foot wrong and screwing up a great thing. But inexperience doesn’t excuse or justify needy behavior or make it acceptable.
Nor does experience directly correlate into confidence. I’ve known many, many people who’re masters in their fields yet are insecure wrecks. I’ve known people who believe themselves unto gods who I wouldn’t turn to for an opinion about cheese.
Basing your confidence on what you have or haven’t done is just a form of external validation, and can be taken away from you just as easily.
Confidence isn’t about the guarantee of success, it’s the belief that success is achievable. You can be confident in yourself and your ability to change, grow and improve, without having banged dozens first.
Inexperience doesn’t mean that people won’t find you attractive; your behavior will. A man with no real dating experience to speak of, but who dresses well, works on his social calibration and carries himself with confidence is going to find success. Someone who never approaches because he’s decided he’s pre-rejected, who never takes chances and lets an objection mindset rule his life is not.
But while we’re talking about inexperience and excuses…
Shaming Others Doesn’t Get You Laid
Something I see disturbingly often are the sheer number of men who pivot from their lack of experience to attacking others for having experience. Inexperienced men who turn right around and slut-shame women for having too much sex are all-too common. They’ve let their own anxiety curdle into hatred and resentment, and lash out at others for their own perceived sins.
Strangely, this doesn’t actually improve their dating success. Turns out, being an angry dick isn’t a universal panty-dropper. Who’da thunk it?
Part of the reason for this attitude is your bog-standard madonna-whore syndrome mixed with toxic levels of entitlement, the tantrum of someone who’s been “unfairly denied” what other, “less deserving” people have received. But in many ways, it’s also a way of trying to rationalize away the pain. Part of that toxic version of masculinity I’m always bringing up is the idea that your sexual success defines you as a man. Someone who doesn’t have any sexual experience is – under these definitions – less of a man. Adopting the identity of a sexual martyr helps make their problem someone else’s fault, rather than a failing of their own. It’s not because they’re not “real men”, it’s because they’re victims in a rigged game where other people (i.e. women who won’t sleep with them) are always changing the rules. If the universe were “fair”, then they’d be knee-deep in pussy but since they aren’t, it’s clearly the fault of someone else.
It’s worth noting that this doesn’t just manifest as harassing people over social media. It can also show up in how people treat their partners – making the more experienced partner feel shamed for having had more sex, using their inexperience as a shield for bad behavior, throwing previous partners in their face during arguments, or as a way of making the more experienced partner do all the emotional heavy lifting. Making someone else the “bad guy” (as it were) for having dated more people or slept with more people than you is a great way to ensure that you won’t get more experience.
It’s understandable to be frustrated. I get that. It’s totally understandable to be nervous, or anxious or to feel a little intimidated by people you may see as being more experienced than you. But the only person standing in the way of your own success is, well, you. You can get pissed at others, or you can own your circumstances and work to improve. You can’t do both.
They Aren’t Dating Your Dating History, They’re Dating You
Getting hung up on numbers is a great way to miss the point of dating. People don’t date your dating history, they date you. Your dating history – or lack thereof – is a part of who you are, not the totality. Having little or no dating experience isn’t a drawback as long as there’s more to you than who you haven’t slept with. If all you are is who you (don’t) bang… well, why should anyone want to date you?
If you want to date more, then you need to be someone worth dating. That has nothing to do with experience and everything to do with what you bring to the table.
Yes, there will be people who will dismiss someone out of hand because of inexperience. That’s fine. Yes, the rejection may sting, but they have shown you that the two of you were incompatible on a fundamental level. You’ve been spared trying to make a relationship (however brief) work with someone you should not be dating in the first place.
Inexperience can be frustrating, but it’s not the handicap people think it is. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs hold you back. Worry less about what you haven’t done and focus on learning how to be more awesome and the dates will come.