I’m feeling kind of mopey right now. There are a variety of reasons for this; work has been kind of stressful lately, and the social prospects that I thought were developing a few weeks ago seem to have not really developed at all. My life is pretty good overall, and I have no doubt that with enough patience I’ll eventually be able to overcome even my formidable social problems, but it may take a while. In the mean time, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how I got to this point, and I think I’ve figured at least a few things out.
I guess what I’ve always wanted most of all is to have sex with women who want to have sex with me, but not in the context of a series of random one-time encounters with people I have nothing in common with, or in the context of a long-term relationship so serious that everyone assumes it will end in marriage. The problem, though, is that for a long time I sort of implicitly assumed those were the only two options. Back in college, when I was a frustrated virgin, I knew I didn’t want the former, so I assumed what I needed to find was the latter (and to eventually break it off before it got too serious, but that was a problem for later). I was aware of the concept of “friends with benefits” and so forth, but I didn’t really understand how it differed from a serious relationship. And, to be honest, I’m not totally sure I understand the distinction even now. The idea that I could be friends with someone, and have sex with her a lot but without any expectation of anything more, was something that just didn’t really occur to me.
So I spent my college years unsuccessfully chasing a serious relationship, which is what I thought I wanted. This involved a lot of poor judgment in who to ask out, and a lot of rejection as a result. After college, when I finally met someone I liked who liked me too and we managed to have sex, I rushed into a serious relationship (over her initial skepticism) without thinking it through or understanding what I was doing. And, of course, it eventually ended badly and I realized that, no, a serious relationship wasn’t what I had wanted at all. Not long after that I had a nice fling that was more or less what I had been looking for all along, but we were in different places in our life and it couldn’t really continue. Since then I’ve had three brief sexual encounters in as many years, and that’s all.
Looking back, I really wish I had realized when I was in college that I didn’t have to worry so much about doing this the “right way,” and just taken the opportunities that arose. I also kind of wish I had gone to a different college that was more congenial to my social needs, but that opens so many what-ifs that I try not to think about it too much. Whenever I read stuff about the “hookup culture” on college campuses I think “Yes, that. That’s what I want. Why can’t I find it?” Even in grad school, where I probably could have had the sort of social life I’ve always wanted if I had tried, I made a conscious decision not to, in order to focus on school and not be distracted by girls. I think that was the right decision as far as it went, but in retrospect there were really obvious opportunities I should have taken.
And now I live in a place where I still don’t know many people even after two years, and most of the people I do know have so little in common with me that they aren’t really plausible friends, let alone romantic partners. I know there are people I have more in common with here, and I’ve even met some, but developing social relationships is really hard for me so it’s been slow going. I just start to worry too much, partly because I’m afraid of rejection, but also because I’m really worried about being perceived as a jerk who assumes all women are going to be into him (or whatever). Lately I’ve been realizing that both of these things are inevitable and I need to just take the risk, but I’m very risk-averse so it’s been hard to put that understanding into practice. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually but for now I’m still just generally kind of lonely and sad.