Occasionally I get a letter that is less of an entry for Ask Dr. NerdLove and more of an a prompt for a longer form response — something between a Post-Mortem and a typical Wednesday column. This is one of those times.
Well , where can I start? The simple thing is that I don’t feel good enough to talk to women. Currently I’m training like hell to be more attractive (I go to the gym x6 times a week, in my country we are not in a lockdown) but it takes time to get the type of body women are attracted to, at least on Tinder. First of all, I’m not looking for something serious and I know for fact that for casual relationships (or casual sex for that matter) women like muscular/fit men so… well I must train everyday but Doc, I feel tired you know? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy training but it’s exhausting! I even take SARMS to accelerate the process!
I read your articles, but I disagree with what you said about casual sex and women. For example, women are the gatekeepers of sex because they are the ones who are approached , that give them by default the power. Why you believe that for example, on tinder men don’t get many matches? I mean, I know some men do get tons of matches but.. see those men, what they have in common? Good looks and muscular body, and yes, I know that Tinder is not real life but women in general will prefer muscular men for casual sex. So, Doc how can I be less tired? I feel that for casual sex I must be muscular to have a chance…
Welp, there’s a lot to unpack here… but I think we all might benefit from throwing the entire suitcase away instead.
This is going to end up being a long one because there’s a lot to cover. And while this is going to sound like I picked your question just to bag on you, I honestly didn’t. I want you to find the kind of sex you’re looking for, my dude. But to do that, we need to dig in pretty deep because I think you’re coming at all of this from the wrong angle.
Bro, Do You Even Lift?
Let’s roll this from the top, GR, because you’ve got a lot of fundamental errors going on here at… well, almost every level. I mean, even if I accepted your base premise (and I don’t) that women are the gatekeepers and require muscular men for casual sex, you’re still doing it wrong. Training six days a week is how you end up severely overtraining and not only ruining your gains but running the risk of serious injury. Doubly so considering you’re using performance enhancing drugs of dubious efficacy and safety and a high likelihood of not even containing the ingredients promised on the packaging. I’m not surprised you’re exhausted on that level alone; signs of overtraining include fatigue, irritability and agitation and a decline in athletic performance.
But as I said: that’s just if I either focus solely on your attempts to get swole or accept your base premise about casual sex and what women look for in potential sex partners. But I don’t and frankly, it’s flawed from the jump. And the hard truth is that it doesn’t matter how much you want to will shit into existence, if the foundation of your beliefs are wrong, it doesn’t matter how much work you put in… you’re still not going to succeed.
Now, I picked your letter for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that a lot of guys have convinced themselves that they need to be jacked manly men in order to be attractive to women. This is something that comes up a lot, and it’s a belief that has almost become religious dogma among some men. In fact, dudes believe this so fervently that they’ll argue with women who tell them “dude, I like skinny guys/ dad bods/ chubby guys/ stocky guys,” insisting that these women are lying or would change their minds if they could get someone else. It doesn’t matter that these women are explaining their lived experiences and choices they’ve actually made; this goes against the dudes’ belief system and thus it can’t possibly be that their beliefs are wrong.
It’s especially amusing (for annoying values of “amusing”) when their citations are “dude, trust me,” “it’s patently obvious,” and “everyone knows this.” Other examples of “evidence” include imagining what other men are experiencing on Tinder without actual numbers and evidence, badly and deceptively edited “social experiments” on YouTube and elsewhere, and the existence of sexy dudes on TV or TikTok or Instagram.
You barely have to scratch the surface before you realize that most of the people who believe this are talking to other men about what women want as opposed to, y’know. Asking women about it. And the few times they try to point to women as proof, it’s almost always an individual saying something or a self-selected (and non-statistically significant) pool of people talking about theoreticals, rather than what they’ve actually done.
I mean, yes, if I were to be offered a choice of a guaranteed date and/or hook-up between Kat Dennings and a complete stranger, I’m probably going to choose Kat Dennings. But then again, my choice between being given a million dollars tax-free or a decently-paying 40-hours-a-week job doesn’t mean that men are inherently lazy and want to have riches handed to them. It means that, in the event that someone wants to give me stupid amounts of money with no strings, I’m taking the damn money. Because hey, as long as we’re living in fantasy land, I’m gonna roll with the fantasy.
But pointing out hot dudes on social media getting comments from thirsty women doesn’t really prove anything other than “people find conventionally sexy people attractive, film at 11”. It’s no more indicative of a universal preference than men commenting on sexy women’s pictures; it’s patently obvious that while dudes will go all wolf-whistle-jaw-drop-lip-bite over hot women, those aren’t the only women they’ll sleep with or date.
This is what happens when men only listen to other men about what women want. You end up with funhouse mirror versions of reality, based less on reality and more on a couple folks who’re pissed that someone else is getting what they want (and the grifters who prey on those insecurities). This is how you find dudes who’ll dissect everything about a celebrity and insist that by their calculations, he’s scientifically ugly because he doesn’t measure up to the new version of phrenology they invented.
Meanwhile as folks are going on about how only Magic Mike types get casual sex, women are screaming about Loki (not just Tom Hiddleston… Loki, specifically) or how David Bowie was the key to their sexual awakening in Labyrinth or how much they dig Sung Kang.
Sex Is About Mutual Choice
Similarly, the idea that women are the ‘gatekeepers of sex’ is wrong as well. This is a faulty premise that’s hung around for generations. The basic premise is that women “control who gets to have sex” because they “have the power to choose” which… yes? Women do, in fact, get to choose whether or not they want to have sex with someone. But so do men. In fact, men do the choosing first. Unless you are literally — not “emphatically”, not “exaggeratedly”, literally-literally — approaching every single woman you see for casual sex, you have been choosing people as well. You chose to approach this person, swipe right on that one, or otherwise attempt to get them to want to have sex with you before they ever had a chance to consider the question. Women have to have the right body type, the right presentation (make-up, hair, style), skin color, photos, etc. before men will ever talk to them. Clearly, men have all the power when it comes to sex and dating.
Seriously dude, it’s like you forgot the whole point of Tinder: it’s a double opt-in system. Both parties have to be interested in one another in order to make the fucky-times happen.
The truth of the matter is that the idea that “women get to choose because men do all the approaching” has nothing to do with power and everything to do with the fucked up relationship we have with gender roles and sexual dynamics. Men do the majority of approaching because we live in cultures that have punished women for being sexual for literally hundreds of years. Even now, when women are overtly sexual, express sexual desire or sexual autonomy, people lose their goddamned minds. You can see this in how people responded to Cardi B’s W.A.P, Megan Thee Stallion’s Thot Shit or, shit, Madonna’s entire goddamn career. Women who are overtly sexy are demeaned, seen as less intelligent, less “valuable” and dudes yell at them for “attention seeking” — see, also, every female streamer on Twitch with so much as a hint of cleavage. Porn stars get beaten within an inch of their lives by their partners and it’s seen as being justified because “she’s a slut”.
Women — as has been pointed out many a time before — have the same insecurities as men do. They’re just as worried about being rejected as men are. They don’t want to approach someone or try to flirt with them only to get shot down. They have the same worries that men do when it comes to the sting of rejection. And then, on top of this, they have to factor issues like “physical safety” and the way a lot of men respond to being approached. A lot of guys will either assume that this is a trick or a trap and freak out… or assume levels of interest far out of proportion to how she actually feels and treat “hi, how are you” as “take me in a manly fashion right now.”
Small wonder that a lot of women won’t make the first move; it’s not worth the risk.
And even when they do, a lot of guys miss it; women making the first move doesn’t look like the oversexed singles on Too Hot To Handle, it looks like a woman saying “how’s your night going so far?”
But what about men getting fewer matches on Tinder? Well, funny thing about that: it’s because those same dynamics follow us online. In fact, those dynamics lead to men and women using Tinder in entirely different and contradictory ways. Men swipe right on as many women as possible in order to maximize the number of matches they get. They decide who they want to talk to after they match. Women, on the other hand, will swipe right selectively, and only on people they’re actually interested in. But what often happens is that they find that the guys they matched with in good faith were, in fact, not interested and unmatch them. And the guys who do message them will send a first message that’s less than 25 characters long. Not words. Characters. Including spaces and punctuation.
This disincentivizes women from swiping much at all. And while I’ve got a very, very large  on your insistence that only certain guys get all the matches, it’s worth remembering that matches on dating apps are fundamentally meaningless. It only “counts” — as it were — if you actually, y’know. Actually meet up in person and go on a date. How many matches you get doesn’t mean a damn thing; anyone can get matches. It’s about being able to make the connection, both in messages and in the flesh. Otherwise, all you’re doing is measuring your e-peen with a number that’s ultimately inconsequential and only has value to other folks who want to compare e-peens.
Which, in fact, leads me to my next point:
What Are You Actually Looking For?
There’re a lot of ways to find casual sex — some more complicated than others. But a lot of times when men talk about looking for casual sex, they aren’t necessarily talking about a friends-with-benefits relationship or an ongoing connection without the expectations of commitment or monogamy but one-night stands and same-night hook-ups. More often than not, the guys who are hyper focused on “needing to be swole” or who matches with whom on Tinder think of casual sex as “meet up to fuck” with very little in the way of conventional dating between “meet” and “mate”.
In fact, the fact that this hinges on Tinder instead of… er, Hinge, is kind of a tell in and of itself. Tinder, after all, started out trying to be Grindr for straights; all about facilitating quick and easy hook-ups. Even as its overall usage has changed, Tinder is still synonymous with the concept of the zipless fuck. I mean, GR, you’re not exactly talking about not being jacked enough for Bumble, are you?
But the thing is: you can find casual partners on Hinge and Bumble. There’re plenty of women on there who’re looking for a guy they get along with, who they find attractive and who isn’t interested in something committed or even long-term. But the reason why this gets less attention is very simple.
It’s not really about sex. It’s about validation.
One of the beliefs that contributes to toxic and restrictive ideas about masculinity is the idea that a man’s value is measured in part by how much sex he has. The more desired a man is, the more manly he is. And since women aren’t supposed to like or want sex and are supposed to hold out for commitment, a guy who gets a lot of one-night stands must be very manly indeed. After all, if he’s so hot that he can get women to fuck without meeting the “marketplace value” of sex… well, he’s at the top tier of men, the mythical “Chad”. This is supposed to be the goal after all: fuck as much as you can before some woman manages to tie you down or forces you to settle for less than you “deserve”.
The problem is… this ultimately is pretty goddamn hollow. Not because sex is somehow more meaningful or something when you’re in a committed relationship — more on that in a second — but because ultimately, it’s not about sex. It’s about wanting to prove something — whether to yourself, to your peers or even just to the imaginary crowds in your head. It’s about filling the hole in your self-esteem that tells you that you’re not “worthy”. But if you bang a lot of strange, surely that’ll prove you’re desirable! That you have meaning! This will show all of those others — real and imagined — where you stand on the ladder of masculinity!
And it won’t. Because fucking people doesn’t heal your self-esteem. Hell, women will sleep with folks for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with the person they’re fucking and everything to do with themselves. Sure, getting off with a stranger you just met may make you feel like Studly Goodnight… but how do you square that sense of being “worthy” when they chose you because they wanted to send a message to their ex and you were the least objectionable option that night?
This is also part of why there’s usually more emphasis on picking up women or hooking up with different women on apps than finding an FWB; there’s more “glory” or “prestige” to be had (theoretically) in numbers. Sure, the sex with an FWB or a casual regular partner tends to be better because of the foundation of trust and communication… but doesn’t quantity have a quality all of its own? Even if you’re still left with nagging doubts and your insecurities don’t magically go away?
And to be clear: I’m a fan of casual sex. I’m a fan of same-night hook-ups and even of one-night stands on occasion. But having been on both sides of this particular equation, I can tell you from personal experience that there’s a very real difference between the kind of experiences you have when you’re pursuing casual sex because that’s how you roll, and pursuing no-strings sex and picking up women because you’re trying to prove something.
Which is why, GR, I think it’s really important to examine just what your motivations are. The focus — hell, the apparently near-obsessive need — to be jacked and to get chicks off Tinder suggests to me that this is less about your just being someone who likes to fuck and more about wanting to prove that you’re wanted. And again, I have been there and done that and built an entire career out of it and I am here to tell you: that feeling will never go away, no matter how many women you bang. If this is ultimately about getting the approval and validation from others — even if those “others” are mostly in your head — then all you’re going to do is numb that feeling temporarily… before it comes roaring back, just as strong and harrowing as before.
What REALLY Makes Women Say “Yes” to Sex
All of this is a long-winded way of saying, my dude: the reasons why you’re exhausted is because you’re trying to live up to standards that are not only completely made up, but that are virtually impossible to live up to. The Rock looks like he does because it is literally his job to look like that. His life and career are built around being so in shape that he becomes a thirst trapezoid… and even then, it’s entirely dependent on the role. You can see the difference between his early days in the WWE, his role in Snitch and Fast 6. The same goes for Chris Hemsworth, Charlie Day, Kumail Nanjiani, Simu Liu, Chris Pratt… any super-hunk you care to name: their super-jacked bods are the product of their entire lives being based around eating and training at intervals so strictly regulated that it’s virtually impossible for anyone else to follow them.
And the thing is, the people who care the most about this aren’t women… it’s other men. While yes, women like looking at hunky men, that’s not their prerequisite for casual sex. Here’s the baseline of what women are looking for when it comes to casual sex:
a) He’s attractive to them
c) The sex would be good enough to risk pregnancy, sexually-transmitted infections, the potential of physical and emotional violence and the societal consequences of being a woman who likes to fuck.
I mean, why do you think it’s still called “the walk of shame”?
Before you start going on about how being muscular fits into A or C, it’s worth remembering that not only do women like a wide variety of bodies and types, but that looking like you were carved out of marble and abs doesn’t mean you’re actually good in bed. Speaking for myself: I’ve slept with women who were model-gorgeous but thought all they had to do to be good in bed was just “show up”. Women, likewise, have oodles of stories of men who were conventionally hot or hung like porn stars and how awful they were at sex. One of the reason why women don’t like casual sex isn’t because they don’t like sex, it’s because men tend to see casual sex as a reason to just get off and go. After all, why bring your a-game if you’re never gonna see her again? Not to mention, this often comes with bonus points of calling her a slut or a whore afterwards.
While conventional good looks certainly help — nobody is saying otherwise — it’s not the only factor, nor is it the most important. A dude who actually radiates good sex, whether through being a skilled dancer, a great flirt or simply knowing how to build a sensual connection is going to have far more success than someone who’s pleasant to look at but otherwise an empty vessel.
Now, if you dig working out and strength training for its own sake then, shit dude, go for it. Hit that gym, drink your protein shakes and eat all the cod and chicken breasts you can choke down. But focusing on trying to measure up to imaginary standards that’re held up by other men instead of what women are actually looking for is just going to mean that you’re constantly be under the gun. You’ll literally never be able to measure up because you’re convinced that you need to be superhuman. And worse, any success you do have won’t be satisfying in the ways you hope.
You’d do better to focus on social skills and learning how to build connections with folks, how to meet people in person and communicate and — again — demonstrate through word and deed that you’re worth banging because sex with you would be good. That’s not gonna come because you’ve got them boulder shoulders, it’s going to come because you know how to touch someone and how to move your body. You’ll have more confidence and self-assurance because you’ll be more focused on developing yourself as a person, not trying to rack up enough numbers that you’ll be able to reach the top of the Masculinity Scoreboard (before someone else kicks you all the way back down the ladder)
You’ll be less tired this way because you won’t be chasing down a goal that is literally unobtainable. You won’t be as hung up on impossible goals and unrealistic standards and putting all your energy trying to get the approval of strangers, approval that doesn’t even have anything to do with the people you’re hoping to sleep with.
Finding sex partners, even for same-night hook-ups is about connecting with people, getting to know them and building relationships. Even folks who are open to having sex that night by someone they’ve just met — whether on Tinder or at the bar — don’t like being treated like a foregone conclusion or a sex-ATM. They want to connect with that person, make sure they have a vibe and chemistry and a reason to sleep with them, specifically. That’s gonna be a lot harder to come by if you’re convinced that a deltoid and a bicep, a hot groin and a tricep are all it’s gonna take to make someone want to take you buy the hand.