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Hey, Faggot:

I am a 32-year-old hetero male. My problem is that I fear intimacy and rejection. I even fear getting to know people. I guess in some ways I don't want to own up to my life, dreams, and desires, and I fear that in pursuing them I'll get burned in the process.

I've slept with many women, but I have always chosen women I felt disinterested in. Women I find attractive, women I could really fall for, I avoid like the plague. Most bizarre, I believe myself to be a romantic perfectionist, and in courting my ideal mate I believe I would tear my soul to shreds. Ironically, if I slept with 100 women it wouldn't boost my ego one notch, but if I even kissed a woman I held in high regard, I'd be walking on the moon.

My question: Women are now beginning to see the disinterest carved in my face like stone, so they are mirroring that. The right women are giving me the proper cues, but I am dumb to act. How do I take them down from the lofty pedestals I myself have placed them on? --Stick in the Mud

Hey, SITM:

I get a lot of letters like yours--not usually so verbose, but same issues, different circumstances--and it's beginning to get on my nerves: "I have this problem, I've identified it, I understand why I act this way, I've come to the conclusion that this behavior makes me miserable. What should I do?" Which is, when you stop and think about it, a none-too-subtle variation on "Doctor, it hurts when I go like this." And what does the doctor say? "Stop going like that."

Since you're afraid of women you're honestly attracted to--which is kinda understandable, considering you expect a "soul shredding" at the hands of a "true" love--you've opted instead to pursue women you find "disinteresting." Insecure much? But recently the women you're "disinterested in" have begun to see through you and are no longer willing to sleep with you. (Understandable: "He likes to fuck me, but he doesn't like me" is not a pleasant realization, almost a soul-shredding one.) And since you're too chickenshit to approach those "attractive and intelligent" women, you're not getting laid much.

What to do? How do you take the women you're attracted to "down from the lofty pedestals [you] have placed them on"? You decide to. There! Done! Simple, huh? You decide to "stop going like that," without having to ask the doctor for permission. You decide to approach women you're attracted to, instead of abusing women you're not attracted to. The first few times you force yourself to talk to a woman who honestly attracts you, you might find yourself a bit tongue-tied, a little unsure of yourself, even a little sick to your stomach--I had the same problems when I came out and started approaching men I was attracted to. You will get better at it with time and practice, just like I did. Just make up your mind and do it.

Hey, Faggot:

This is a desperate plea. I am a 34-year-old male, almost 35, and I am still a virgin! I can't stand it! I've been crazy about one woman or another all my life, but none are interested in me. I've definitely dreamed of a relationship, but now it's gotten to where I just wanna have sex already. I'm not even sure if I'd be able to do it right. What can I do? -- Desperate in Illinois

PS: I'm not exactly attractive, as you may have guessed. Women tend to look away rather quickly.

Hey, DII:

Everybody wants to screw up. By "screw up" I don't mean mess up, err, make a boo-boo, misapprehend, etc. I mean screw up as in "marry up": we want our sex/life partners to be better looking than we are, since their attractiveness is to some minds a measure of our own worth and desirability. Average-looking people, or less-than-average-looking people, who never get laid often pass up opportunities because they're holding out for an Adonis or a Venus (who would never-in-a-million-years-sleep-with-them), cuz they don't want their friends to think, "Was that the best he/she could do?"

What's the lesson in this for you? Have you been realistic about the women you've allowed yourself to be "crazy about" in your long, virginal life? Or have you wasted time obsessing about chicks way out of your league? If so, look around for some women in your league, or at least your division. By your own assessment, you're "not exactly attractive"--there are plenty of women out there in the same boat, looks-wise. Women just as lonely, just as insecure, just as inexperienced, just as butt-ugly. Ask a few of them out. One may fuck your brains out in a fit of gratitude.

Too shy to approach women? Use personal ads--and be completely honest about your looks and your sexual history, or lack thereof. And finally, if losing that pesky virginity is your top priority, consider hiring somebody to help you out. Nevada, I hear, is lovely this time of year. Holland? Lovely year-round. Sex-industry workers are some of the nicest people you could want to meet--they understand--and professional sex workers are often as sympathetic to their clients' emotional needs as they are to their physical needs.

PS: "Paying for it" is nothing to be ashamed of. Plenty of men have to, or choose to, "pay for it." If there wasn't such tremendous demand, prostitution wouldn't be the world's oldest, and perhaps largest, profession--so don't beat yourself up for going to a pro. Good luck.

Hey, Faggot:

You told "Green-Eyed Monster" she'd sabotage her relationship if she didn't "get [her] irrational jealousy under control."

Duh, thanks, doofus. I hope you wouldn't talk like that to someone with a physical disability, shaming them for their handicap and pointing out how it limits them. So why be so rude when talking with someone who's psychologically crippled in a way that undermines what she wants? How about giving her some clues about how to overcome the problem instead of just berating her? And is it asking so much to consider why she might be so afraid? You know, like her having been abandoned, hurt, unloved, stuff like that?

--T

Hey, T:

For all I know Green-Eyed Monster was abandoned, unloved, hurt, fed British beef till her brain went all spongy, and "stuff like that" three times a day before lunch--and so what? However she came by her jealousy problem doesn't change the fact that the problem is now hers, and she has to take responsibility for it, deal with it, and overcome it.

As for your analogy: Isn't likening jealousy to a physical handicap a wee bit indulgent? So far as psychological disabilities go, a "jealous streak" is small-time stuff and not necessarily deserving of sympathy. Think less "disability" and more "character flaw." Someone paralyzed from the waist down can't just decide to get up and walk, whereas someone can decide to cease being a petty, selfish jerk if he puts his mind to it.

Confidential to Lonely and Over 18:

I've received some mail for you, sweetness. If you'd like me to forward it to you, please write with a return address.

Send questions to Savage Love, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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