Savage Love

Pannies and Forties

Comments

1
Um, this column has tomorrow's date (02/12/14) but it ran weeks ago. What gives?
2
Weeks ago? It's new to me.
3
OMG! The lead letter was the Jan 31 SLLOTD recycled. Letter #2 was the same old advice to the currently unattractive. #3 was fluff. #4 was... I dunno. Dan, please delete this column and give us a better one. Thanks.
4
Mostly OT to this column, but I wanted to share a podcast link. When Ira Glass was on the Lovecast a couple of years ago, he told Dan about doing an interview with a couple who took a 30-day "Rumspringa" from their relationship so they could have sex with other people before they married, but then they broke up.

That discussion is at about 29:00 here:
http://www.savagelovecast.com/episodes/2…

I happened to hear last Saturday's "This American Life" broadcast, and it included the story he was talking about:
http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-ar…

Thought I'd post it just in case anyone's interested in checking it out.
5
I'm certain it's pretty clear that Dan is currently distracted by a two-week ogling of Apolo Ohno's ass.
6
I'm not entirely convinced that overtipped sex workers are the best tutors for How to Interact With Women, but I have absolutely nothing invested on this one, and therefore don't care in the least if I'm entirely wrong. I rather doubt, though, that a regular patron of overtipped sex workers for sixteen years is going to have the money he'll need to get with "all those women" in his forties.

Whether LW and others of his ilk might be lucky beyond their so-called deservings to marry a sex worker is, perhaps, open to interpretation.

I'd tell him to assume that the chemistry he seeks will never happen and see if he can construct a worthwhile life should that turn out to be the case. If he can, then anything that comes to him at 40 or earlier will be a bonus. If not, he'll have his task cut out for him.
7
"Being sexually active does not make you 'impure.'"

Yes it does. In modern American English, the term "purity" is used to refer to sexual chastity, moderation and virginity, and the context makes it very clear that the LW is using the term "purity" in this way. The man who added a new definition to the term "Santorum" should know very well that it takes more to get a word to change its meaning than pretending that it already has.

It would be more useful to tell this girl, "What do you mean you've already screwed that up? Just because you're no longer 100% pure doesn't mean automatically mean you're 0%. Just because you said yes once (or twice or twenty times) doesn't mean you have to say yes again. Lots of people who aren't virgins live chaste lives and are picky about with whom they have sex. If that's what you want, don't assume that you aren't allowed to just because you're not a virgin."
8
I'm not sure the LW is actually schlumpy... He's depressed but if we're to assume honest, reasonably good looking. He has a crappy sex life but it exists. I don't think he needs to wait until his stock rises in his 40s. He says he has never felt chemistry with a woman...that and the depression seem like the sticking points of his problem. I agree with vennominion that pros don't seem like the way to go here. If anything I think it could add to his bitterness potential and warp his sense of what romantic connections feel like.

My advice, keep taking your meds, go to counseling and get a dog/something furry and loveable; pets are awesome company and force you to function in order to provide care. Caring for something other than yourself helps open your mind to allowing new things into your life.
9
@7 A much healthier message though would be, people who care about sexual purity are people you should not be involved with. There is healthy sex (sex that all parties involved want and that involves reasonable safety precautions) and unhealthy sex. There is ethical sex and unethical sex. Try to have healthy, ethical sex, and stop caring about a concept like purity. Having happy experiences isn't a bad thing or something you should be ashamed of.
10
@7: "In modern American English, the term 'purity' is used to refer to sexual chastity, moderation and virginity."

It's never used to refer to 'moderation'. Perhaps you meant 'faithfulness' or 'monogamy'?

Anyway, while it's used that way in some circles ('purity rings' for example), it isn't used that way (except ironically) in the culture at large.

Imagine, for example, if a current affairs show referred to an 'impure woman', meaning one who had had sex outside of marriage. People would understand what was meant, but would protest.
12
Dear Dan,
I am studying the Tyler Clementi case in my ethics class. It makes me incredibly sad that someone would be bullied for being gay.

I thank you for your commitment to help end this kind of intolerance.

-CS
13
@DRF

Just because Dan has recycled his Jan 31 SLLOTD doesn't mean that you're entitled to copy/paste your damn comment to it.

And FYI : purity in the Bible has NOTHING to do with virginity. Nothing.

So don't trot out your Puritan agenda to 18-years-old pansexual girls who are already affliged with dating fundamentalists.

They already have their hands quite full, no need to further abuse them with woman-hating virginity-is-purity shit.
14
Here's the Louis CK bit on getting better in your 40's.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohbv6haI1…
15
@Funtional Atheist

"the prospect of his squandering what's left of his youth--his 20's and 30's--without real romantic and emotional connections"

is indeed depressing, if one goes for the "happy thereafter" viewpoint. But that's not how life usually unfolds, is it ?

I'd say if that depressed guy is able to reach his forties without being damaged in the usual ways by real life, because real life won't bother with him, more power to him.

And sure the ladies are going to flock to him in his 40s, if for a lack of "real romantic and emotional connections" in his so-called squandered youth, he's the lone unjaded individual out there, when shit hits the fan for all these women who didn't look at him at first.

Most "real romantic and emotional connections" don't turn out to be that real, after the intitial rush of hormones is over, and undergoing painful break-ups are not a very nice way to squander one's youth away either.

Suppose you make the relationship "work" for more than a few years. Then there's the widespread mismatched libidos issue, with its agonizing moral pains. And the very common happenstance, for individuals with an history of mental disease, of getting involved and trapped in an abusive relationship and/or marriage.

So after having squandered your youth in failed relationships, then comes the heartbreak of divorce with kids, whether you just can't stand your partner's habits anymore, or you've finally come to realize that the other parent is indeed a bigger stain on humanity than yourself, and is on his way to harm/hurt/kill you and/or the kids. Divorce, a gift that keeps on giving, since it's hell to raise kids better than to subhuman standards when they're caught between two hating-each-other's-guts parents...

16
@14 Thanks for the Louis CK link, Magenta, but it doesn't work...
17
Isn't it possible that the guy has sexual issues because of the meds he's on? And waiting 20 years to get his life going seems like horrible advice. Join a church, join a dating service, join a club or take a class or volunteer...all good ways to meet single girls. 20 years of using a prostitute(and isn't that illegal?) is not the best use of his time.
18
Ms Sissou - And there lies the rub. This reminds me of the woman who lost more than half her body weight and got bitter at the thought of dating someone who would not have loved her identically at her heaviest; will he in sixteen years be emotionally open to women who scorn him now?

Alternatively, by your scenario, the forty-year-old women who will be flocking to him will all be dinged up and pursuing him mainly for his undinged status. Once the novelty wears off, will he feel entitled to better?

You may not have seen it in France, but there was a television commercial that ran over here not long ago in which a woman who seemed a cross between Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic spoke in a presumably highly-desirable-for-opposite-sexers Eastern European accent about the qualities of her ideal man, who turned out to be a fairly standard-issue schlub. LW's not wanting to become a bitter MRA perhaps indicates his recognition that he doesn't want to feel a growing sense of entitlement to date models. He may find, though, that he feels entitled to date people as relatively undinged as he.

At any rate, I thank you for presenting the sort of grim assessment that can only come from an insider.
19
Severe depression in young men often starts in the teens, lasts ten or fifteen years, and then gets a lot better. 'Swat happened for my hubby. By his early thirties he was able to come off the antidepressants which were screwing up his sexual mechanics and deadening his personality. Right in the middle of that process we got together. I could tell he was getting his life sorted, and he trusted me enough to tell me about it. That was what did it for me.

Anyone who has doggedly survived the hell of major depression and got their shit together has huge strength of character, which is attractive. The hard thing is probably to build up friendships with women even though your jerkbrain (see Captain Awkward) is telling you they hate you.

20
PS - looking again at the second letter, I realise the LW wants to feel 'romantic connection'. I'm not sure that happens for everybody until a relationship is already well established. It depends how much mutual trust you can find.

Dating someone with heavy-duty depression turned out to mean that trust was hard to build - he didn't feel much about anything, and he sure as hell wasn't going to tell me about it.

Finding someone reasonably attractive, finding them pleasant to be around, being able to have an enjoyable conversation - that was where we started from.
21
More physical activity for UGLY would be a good idea. It would get him fit and feeling better about himself, both of which are attractive to women. Also, if it doesn't change his love life, then it will at least get him healthy and increase his chances of making it into his 40s and beyond.

Once he has basic fitness down, he can join or look for co-ed sports, where again, even if it doesn't click with anyone special, it increases his interaction.

Lack of physical activity has a HUGE impact on depression.
22
See how the descriptor of the person can change the feel of the story, without it actually being in any way part of it?
And thus the detail might be relevant, because of the possible background for which it serves as shorthand?
23
@21: Good advice, and I'd extend it to generally following Dan's advice for young males hoping to get laid in the future. (Find a physical activity you enjoy, so you're making the best of what you have to work with in the attractiveness department. Find a group activity you enjoy so you're doing stuff, which you can then talk about and which gets you practiced at the human interaction thing. Read so you have stuff to talk about. All of these make you much more interesting when you are trying to attract women, and give you practice talking to them like they're not aliens.)

If he is bland/average in the looks department and depressed, I'm going to put the blame for his love life squarely on the depression. Does "functional" mean able to hold a job but not much social life? If he's lethargic, has low self-esteem, struggles to connect with people (the lack of romantic connection ever, is that just a subset of lack of other connections with people beyond family?), and is generally focused on how down and crappy he feels, that's not going to be viable at a singles mixer in anyone short of Greek-god in the looks department. Whereas there are lots of average-looking guys out there who are confident and together and living full lives who are managing to date.

It's trite, but: Become happy with yourself first (probably via lots more therapy plus finding things about which you DON'T feel lethargic and depressed) and it will be much easier to attract women who want to be with a guy like you, because you will be a lot more appealing than the current just-barely-poking-head-from-depression version. It will take more time.
24
Tip for depression: Only make decisions after a two-mile jog. Or a one-mile jog, followed by a one-mile jog/walk/crawl back home. It will help more than you'd think.
25
For UGLY - is he only trying dating with conventionally attractive women?

Anti-depressants can lower sexual desire as well as performance, so he might be feeling less physical "connection" / interest now as a side effect of treatment (worthwhile though given that depression can kill).

In addition to Dan's advice, how about learning how to communicate with women emotionally by building non-sexual friendships with women by engaging in activities like volunteering, political activism, etc., where there are women and you're working in small groups on a common cause you are interested in? if you're religious, join a church [shudder] with social volunteer groups. add some meetups for some physical activity like hiking where there'll be potential for both male and female friendships / social connections
26
@7 Defining purity as virginity is insanity.
27
@any sex workers reading this [or Dan] - what are your opinions on what's a stingy tip for a sex worker, what's fair, what's generous?

should tips vary by country depending on legality, availability of free healthcare, etc.?

googled but no consensus, and the Emily Post Institute is curiously silent in an otherwise comprehensive section on tipping:
http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/t…
28
To the pansexual girl:

You're 18 years old. You like masturbation and porn and other girls. Do you realize how many guys out there would kill for a girl like you?

Don't waste another second on your sex-negative crazy boyfriend.
29
MOS: I'd like it if you told your boyfriend, in the kindest and most gentle way, all of the stuff you wrote in your letter here. He'll still not 'get it', but hopefully a seed will be planted in his brain and we'll have one less narrow-minded, judgmental, et al guy if the conditions are right for the planted seed to sprout and blossom in the coming years. And DTMFA of course. But, you'll be in a privileged position of where he'll probably have his ears perked to know why he is being rejected, and perhaps you can really make a positive, eventual difference here. It happens.
31
@11 and @17, thank you. Dan, "wait 20 or 25 years" is your best advice? Why not "bide your time until you die" instead?
32
@31: Yeah. Those are pretty similar, too--depression kills.
33
Advising UGLY that women will want him when he is in his 40s is bizarre for many reasons. For one thing, it is most certainly not the case that all "schlumpy guys" find themselves awash in female attention once they hit middle age. Certainly some men who didn't have much luck with the bar/club scene that dominates dating for 20-30 somethings will find more success later in life, when more women are focused on attributes other than "looks good on the dance floor," but plenty of middle aged men are still searching for romantic connection and coming up short. There is nothing in UGLY's letter to suggest that he will be a particularly stellar catch when he is 40 -- low self-esteem and lethargy do not magically disappear with age and they aren't any more attractive at 45 then they are 25.

More importantly, in my mind at any rate, UGLY specifically asked for help with not becoming embittered toward women due to his inability to attract them. I hardly think that "wait until women have finished having their fun with young studs and will be willing to get with you because you own your own home" is the kind of advice that would fend off anti-woman bitterness.

(Besides: if he took Dan's advice, used the services of a professional while biding his time, then started dating these supposed hordes of eager women, I think many of those women would be pretty turned off to hear "oh, I only slept with prostitutes while I was between the ages of 25 and 40; I've been waiting for women to catch up with me" in response to an inquiry about past relationships.)
34
Ugh. That quote from Louis CK is horrible. "You're going to be the branch that she can grab before she hits the ground. It's going to be so great. It just takes time for her circumstances to match your looks." Before she hits the ground? Her circumstances as she ages will match your "dumpy" (LCK's word) looks? This is insulting for everyone involved. Older women do sometimes make different choices about who we date, but for most of us I'd say it is because experience teaches us to look for qualities that aren't just skin deep, rather than that we are so desperate we'll cling onto any man we can get. Be more respectful, please.
35
Ack, Dan, you missed the point in the last letter. Mexican does not equal immigrant, and immigrant does not equal Mexican. By allowing the descriptor "Mexican" to be used as a lazy short-cut for the idea of "a brownish looking guy who speaks with an accent and works in a restaurant and is a bit baffled by some of our customs" is how we, as a society, create and maintain these frustrating stereotypes. Usually you're good about owning your mistakes, but this time not so much. I've worked in restaurants, too, Dan, and I understand what you were saying in your response, and I am telling you unequivocally that whether or not the dude was Mexican was absolutely not germane to the story. You should know better - especially after it was pointed out.
36
UGLY, if you find yourself unattractive, then why be bitter at women who agree with you? The conventional advice here is right on - work on yourself first. I know it's tough when you're depressed (and I don't mean to minimize that at all - it really sucks and it's really hard to deal with), but until you find effective treatment (meds, exercise, hobbies, sunshine, etc) you won't be very fun to be around. Cultivate the things you like about yourself, learn to laugh at the things that aren't so great, and cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the good things you have in life. These are things that will make you attractive, first to yourself, and then to others. Not being bitter is a function of accepting that few people will want to know you until you are a person that you would want to know.
37
What if UGLY had written the following: I'm an okay looking guy (not hot, not ugly). I've never had a girlfriend. I think I'm completely undesirable and I don't like bestirring myself.* Why aren't women attracted to me?

*aka low self-esteem and lethargic

The letter has enough details to make him sympathetic: just starting to get a handle on major depression, grasps that lethargy and low self-esteem aren't that appealing to a mate. He uses "unattractive" beginning and ending, framing the letter, and I think Dan et al are reading that as "physically unattractive" when he specifically says he isn't physically repulsive--physically he's okayish. That leaves personality for the reasons he perceives himself to be unattractive/ugly.

If you think you're ugly in an emotional sense, that's not going to be attractive to people without serious rescue issues. "Why would anyone want me?" is just not a helpful vibe to put out.
38
Further thought: Just as "unattractive" is more emotional than physical for Ugly, "lethargic" probably goes beyond "no jogging." It's hard to cultivate relationships (of all forms, including friendships with other straight guys) if he can barely bring himself to get out of bed. Getting further along in treating his depression is the real answer he needs here.
39
locate and patronize [...] a independent sex worker (which can help you learn to interact with women)

Not likely. Be careful with this. In my experience, exclusively seeing sex workers for long enough will leave you with undeveloped sexual skills and incapable of starting or maintaining a "normal" (non-commercial) sexual relationship.
40

UGLY - I would ALSO take one tip from the MRA's that you don't want to become (a bitter) one of: start lifting weights now!

It is as you say: "Low self-esteem and lethargy aren't exactly the best things for attracting the opposite sex." A regular program of exercise tailored specifically to the male physique will help to solve that problem at its roots.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The MRAs are right about some things & weight lifting is one of them. You might also consider some of their other ideas about male self-development.
41
@ fubar - #3 -- entitled much?!! How about a bit of gratitude you have all this free entertainment on the inter webs and less bitching?

Dan - one thing I thought was relevant about mentioning the restaurant worker's ethnicity - Mexican - is that I also (rightly or wrongly) added "almost certainly Catholic-raised..." to the scenario.

I know a lot of ppl want to live in a world where one's ethnicity ought to be irrelevant to the issue at hand, but unfortunately we do not live in such a world - as yet. Culture does have impact.
42
I've always used the term "baby dyke," but I might actually switch to "dykelet."
43
LW# 3. I made the EXACT same comment on this website when I first read ERR's letter. To me, the "Mexican" bit wasn't relevant at all.
44
@7: Dictionary definitions are great if you want to understand conventional usage of a term at the time it was entered into said dictionary (or the last time it was revised), as filtered through the bias of whomever wrote and edited said dictionary. However, dictionary definitions are not a sound or compelling basis for moral or ethical arguments, or real world value judgements. Put another way, what is technically correct and what is right do not necessarily coincide, and the former is an erroneous way of getting at the latter. As I understand it, Dan's advice is more about getting at what is right, rather than what is correct. You should also know that over reliance on dictionary definitions to understand and argue about meaning is hack; it's socially inept, emotionally oblivious, and intellectually myopic.
45
@36 has some good points:

"UGLY, if you find yourself unattractive, then why be bitter at women who agree with you? The conventional advice here is right on - work on yourself first. I know it's tough when you're depressed (and I don't mean to minimize that at all - it really sucks and it's really hard to deal with), but until you find effective treatment (meds, exercise, hobbies, sunshine, etc) you won't be very fun to be around. Cultivate the things you like about yourself, learn to laugh at the things that aren't so great, and cultivate gratitude and appreciation for the good things you have in life. These are things that will make you attractive, first to yourself, and then to others. Not being bitter is a function of accepting that few people will want to know you until you are a person that you would want to know."
46
I'm with @21 on the subject of exercise. Regular, moderate exercise is one of the best non-medical ways to help depression, for a number of reasons. It stimulates production of endorphins, it gives you something to concentrate on so you get out of your own head for a while, it provides goals that you can strive to accomplish, and it tones you up so you look better and get a bit of an ego boost.

You do need to focus on managing your depression, UGLY - and I agree that that means exercise, therapy, (probably) meds, and hobbies. Congratulations on getting to a "functional" place - it may not seem like much to some people, but for those who were "non-functional" at some point it's a HUGE step.

Try really hard to find things that you care about and enjoy, whether it's a sport, a cause, a solitary hobby like reading. Attractive people are interesting people, and interesting people are people who are passionate about something. I know that's going to be hard when you're depressed, because it's difficult to get passionate about anything when the world seems flat and gray, but try, and hopefully in time it'll get easier. It almost doesn't matter what you're interested in, as long as you're interested in something.

And please try not to hang onto the thought that you'll never meet someone who wants you, and who you want. Currently depressed people tend not to make good partners, but people who've struggled with it in the past - even if they relapse from time to time - often gain positive personality traits that mean they make excellent partners down the road when things are a little brighter. Not always, of course, but often. You already show that you're capable of introspection and self-awareness. The fact that you managed to fight your way from a non-functional depressive state to a functional one shows fortitude and tenacity. People who've been through depression and come out the other side are often - perhaps even usually - capable of a great deal of compassion and empathy for others, if they can keep from becoming too bitter. These are all good, valuable traits in a partner.

I wish you the best of luck.
47
MOS-- Let me expand on Dan's good advice.

When you break up with your boyfriend, you'll be tempted to tell him why. Don't! If you say a word about sexual incompatibility or mismatchment, he'll interpret that as meaning that your lack of virginity or insistence on masturbating and viewing porn are flaws or sins that it's his place to forgive you for. The more you insist that you're not right for each other, the more he'll insist that he's forgiven you and that God forgives you, and you'll be stuck.

Instead, give an enigmatic smile and say that it's not working out. Stick to your guns about giving no explanation. This will leave him with the inescapable possibility that it's not you; it really is him. If you absolutely must say something to fill the blank, give a platitude about how relationships between people as young as you are rarely work and that you hope you can remain friends.

Then, and this is the hard part, don't prove anything to anyone. Enjoy your freedom, your porn, and your masturbation, but don't make a big deal out of them talking about them too much either. Act like you know and everyone knows that they're normal and healthy and therefore not something to be talked about all the time any more than washing your hair is.

Don't rush into the next relationship because your friends all thought you were a cute couple with the last guy. Just be yourself and leave your options open. That's good advice after any break-up. Leave yourself open to dating without being desperate for it. The idea is to make it obvious that you're not-dating status is because you're confident, not because you're tainted, but also not because you're virtuous.
48
For the depressed man, trying not to feel bitter toward women. Instead of projecting your feelings of inadequacy onto women, take responsibility for your current state of affairs. It's not their fault you're depressed and feeling badly. That's on you and only you can fix it. If you don't like yourself, don't blame women for also not liking you. A woman isn't going to be able to fix your depression for you. She can't make you feel better---only you can do that. To echo everyone else, you have to work on yourself first. When you change yourself, the types of people you attract will change too. Healthy, happy women who work out and have good jobs want men who are also happy, healthy and have a job. Work on feeling adequate within yourself. You have to validate your own adequacy and wonderfulness within yourself before others will see it. You have to feel a connection to yourself before you can feel one with other people. Find things that make you light up inside--if this is impossible go back to therapy to manage your depression, find female friends who share your interests, volunteer, exercise, online date, cultivate interests you're are passionate about. This journey will make you a stronger, deeper person with much confidence in yourself--and no woman can resist that. I wish you much luck.
50
Yes UGLY (it makes me sad to type that!), look into treating your depression further. But ignore the "exercise and hobbies" people--those are fine for mild depression, but not major depression. If you could or wanted to do those things, you'd be doing them, and you don't need something more to feel guilty about, or to feel that you're falling short in.

If you haven't already, I highly suggest looking into medical causes for your depression, and possible food intolerances. My treatment-resistant depression turned out to be a symptom of an autoimmune disease (thyroid-related). Treatment resulted in the lifting of a vale like magic. The trick is that you need to find a doctor who is willing to look outside the box, since conventional doctors aren't trained very well in this area outside certain narrow parameters. Naturopaths can be a good alternative, if you can afford it.
51
Ms Crinoline - "Inescapable"? Hardly. Perhaps for you, but alas, even if it would be better off, you're not the world. That is one of the most escapable conclusions in existence for most people.

I don't particularly disagree with saying nothing, but for different reasons. I think she could perhaps get away with turning this on its head and telling him that his virginal inexperience just isn't going to make the cut and that he should just go marry another little virgin and dream of her when his marriage founders. (The tone might be similar to that in Lilies when Bilodeau advises Simon to grab the opportunity presented in the form of the balloonist.) It might be a bit less than kind to the better sort of virginal young person, but it might jolt BF in a positive direction.
52
@28- Ashley Amber NO ONE SEEMS TO GRASP, PRAISE, AND REAPEAT YOUR GREAT ADVICE.
The regulars are just too busy analyzing each letter's words and what they really mean, as if this was a bible class of some sort. Then they question other regulars' interpretations and demand clarifications.

Long Live Irregularity!!!
53
I empathize with UGLY and wish him the best. But as for Dan's answer and Louis CK, I'm with @34.

It's already pretty bitter to characterize 40-something women as desperate.

It's true we don't care much about looks. But a sense of humor and an ability to get things done are paramount. Louis CK has both. A man fighting depression, unfortunately, does not.

In fact, a 20-something might romanticize a man's depression. I did at that age.

Good luck to UGLY at putting together a full and fun life that hopefully then will include a fun, full-of-life, wise, sexy forty-something woman.
54
Only one denotation of impure refers to sexuality. In metals in refers to the amount of excess foreign elements. for water it means potentially added ingredients that could cause harm. Dan was simply pointing out the discrepancy between these denotations and how it is used when applied to sexuality.
55
UGLY - Do you think you are good person? Do you treat others well?

Then just like yourself for that. The girlfriend and everything else will eventually come.
56
"I lost the big V a year ago. He knows, isn't happy about it, but is willing to date me anyway."

"Anyway"?
What the fuck is that supposed to mean?
He's (grudgingly) willing to date you, despite the fact that you're "damaged goods"?
Listen, there are guys who like you and there are guys who don't like you.
In neither instance do they like you "anyway".
This guy is a judgmental tight-ass.
Run.
Run fast and run far.
57
@ven: I'm not entirely convinced that overtipped sex workers are the best tutors

Ven old sport! I'm thinking the advice isn't so much about learning how to interact with women than it is about blowing off steam, steam that might otherwise channel itself towards bitterness over female rejection.

I do think being sexually accepted by a female has a certain healing power for the straight male soul, even if he has to pay for it.
58
UGLY: I'm a 21 year old attractive female who has had issues with clinical depression in the past. And while I can't say I've suffered from a lack of sex (sex has been in anything but short supply, and while not all of it was great or even ok, it's been relatively fun), I too was tormented by the idea of never finding love. I felt sexual chemistry, but never romantic chemistry (on my end). I got bitter and kind of gave up, and resigned myself to a life of sex with no connection.

On a whim, because a friend of mine did, I signed up for okcupid. And I spent a month or two on there bored/disgusted/unimpressed. One day, as a result of my boredom I did a keyword search for I don't recall what exactly, but something apparently obscure enough that there were only a few pages for a worldwide search. I clicked on the profile of a cute guy I was 99% matched to, whose fascinating profile sparked a several-month-long conversation that was about the length of a short novel. Then, also somewhat on a whim, I bought a plane ticket and visited him in Denmark. I fell in love 3 or 4 days into my visit, and we've been together-long distance, except for a Christmas visit-about 6 months now. Though we're dealing with lots of red tape at the moment, we're currently trying to figure out a way for me to immigrate there.

It all seems hopeless until suddenly it isn't. My search radius had to be 8,000 miles, and ticket prices to Europe are a fucking bitch, but I ended up finding someone that has improved the quality of my life astronomically. Don't get bitter, get creative. Look in the nooks and crannies that wouldn't occur to anyone else. And embrace the possibility (likelihood) of getting hurt. Love is awesome and worth the work and the wait.

Another note for depressive people generally: there is nothing better you can do for yourself than working out. Working out stabilizes my mood like nothing else. It also makes you look pretty good, but the endorphins would be worth it even if it didn't.
59
Also, UGLY, if you're on here, ignore 50. Naturopathy is pseudoscience. Additionally, psychiatry is not pseudoscience, but it is a terrible field as it's practiced clinically. Proceed with caution and educate yourself thoroughly about anything you're proscribed. Mental health treatment is one of the trickiest fields in existence, and that makes it a feeding frenzy for charlatans.
60
Yeah, I also thought the "Mexican" thing in last week's letter was relevant because ERR noted that the guy was "spiritual." So he's someone who was likely raised Catholic and who takes his Catholicism seriously.
61
@tbm42 I agree that there's a lot of charlatans out there, including in the natural health field. There's also a lot of good stuff. I can only speak for myself, but being treated by a naturopath combined with my own research has a) diagnosed my autoimmune disease (it's clear cut, there's a blood test for it, other doctors just never checked), b) helped me put it into remission, which c) lifted my depression. You need to be careful, and do your research, but please speak of what you know personally instead of dismissing me out of hand.
62
@58--If I were 24, depressed and feeling down about my unattractiveness to women, I'm not sure how knowing that you're attractive and have had a varied, interesting and fun sex life by age 21 would make me feel better about myself. What exactly was the point of telling him that?
63
Dan, you needed to be more honest with UGLY. He admitted that he's still got low self-esteem and is lethargic, so he may be "functional" in terms of employment but he certainly isn't date-able right now...not being of his age or his looks but his own behavior. True, it's because of an illness but you always say a person should be in working order because they start a relationship. The way he keeps from being bitter is to admit that right now he is NOT a good catch and women who recognize that are being perfectly reasonable, therefore he should work on becoming better, on someday becoming date-able. Simply growing older won't do it. Also, I agree with others that daily exercise would help.
64
I don't know what the right advice for UGLY is, but Dan's wasn't it.

I'm a fan of his advice to 15-year-olds to invest in getting their 19-year-old selves laid, but holding tight until 40 is the kind of non-advice a married gay man in his mphties--who had his fun in his 20s--would give to an unlucky twenty-something straight guy.

...wish I had something better.
65
I'm pretty sure that schlumpy guys in their 20s and 30s ALSO have great sex lives ... if they have their own TV shows. And Louis CK was married in 1995, when he was 28.

UGLY needs to work on his emotional issues, not just wait.
66
Dr Sean - While you're the expert here, Mr Savage did state quite specifically:

[(which can help you learn to interact with women)]

Mr Savage does seem to be on a bit of a mild kick lately of touting sex workers as some variety of High Holy Healers. While I basically agree with him about sex work, I'm not prepared to follow his promotion of its practitioners to shamanistic status, and suspect that it will end one day in such measures as making being pro-sex-worker as essential to the list of qualities of date-worthy people as being pro-choice and perhaps even making Must Have Dated (if not Been) a Sex Worker as equal to Must Have Smoked Pot on his list of qualifications for the Presidency.

(I do give Mr Savage a bit of leeway here,though; the people who really stump me on this are the ones who want all sex workers to become billionaires with full immunity from any negative consequences while wanting all their customers to be stigmatized, shamed and often punished.)

I just offer a mild suggestion that many an overtipped sex worker might primarily be eager to retain that status. If ever there were a member of a profession with the strongest motivation to give someone a fish rather than to teach him successful fishing technique, the OSW might be it. I do not attach any blame to any member of an underpaid profession who wants to make a good thing as regular a gig as possible. Indeed, if one were to suspect Mr Savage of having been reading his Machiavelli recently, he could know that the sort of sex worker who takes pride in making customers more fit for the dating world than they are when they present themselves could make LW quite date-worthy by the time he's 30, but he'll grab the chance to offer an extra decade of being overtipped.
67
I'd be very disappointed if I were UGLY and had just been advised to wait 20 years for an unpaid sex life. Some better advice would be not to wait for HIS 40s, but for the women's 40s. As in, join a dating site, and go for older women! Yes, we still prefer men who aren't depressed and are therefore fun to be around, so get that depression treated too. But UGLY's age and (presumed) virility could well score him points amongst the cougar crowd that he's not getting among women his own age. A few short, passionate flings with some sexy older ladies will fuel his confidence and make him a better lover. Go for the fortysomething women now, not in 20 years' time!
68
Re over-tipping independent sex-workers:
According to Miss Manners it is a no-no to tip the owner of a store or restaurant, even if a/he's the person who serves one. The rationale is that the owner sets the prices of the food/ services, which distinguishes him/ her from an employee who should be tipped generously.

Since an independent sexworker sets his/her prices independently, there should be no need to tip, never mind over-tip.
70
"Stay relatively employed and washed; you're going to be amazing in your 40s. You're going to be the branch that she can grab before she hits the ground. It's going to be so great. It just takes time for her circumstances to match your looks. When real shit matters, you're going to be the sexiest motherfucker in the world."

I have a word for this kind of guy: vultures.

You're not the branch that women grab before they hit the ground, you're the scavenger circling over the body after it hits the ground.
71
Telling a depressed person he may be lonely for 20 more years seems like an encouragement to commit suicide.
72
It's depressing that the PC scolds in Toronto are not just content to berate and "educate" those in there physical environment. Keep it in your pants, Tim. Mexican is not a dirty word.
73
@migrationist: numerous sex workers explicitly state tipping policy on their ads. Some say tips are welcome but unnecessary, others have lists of specific gifts people can optionally bring. I don't think it's quite as expected as with waitstaff, for example.
74
A potential issue with tipping for providers is the fear that some clients may expect services that aren't on the menu.
75
51 Mr. Ven-- Inescapable possibility, not inescapable conclusion. I don't want MOS's boyfriend to conclude that he's the problem. I want him to consider the possibility that he's the problem, and I believe that by saying nothing, MOS makes that inescapable. This may be a semantic quibble.

As for your 2nd paragraph, you're more optimist than I. I do believe that those who are morally smug at 17 can grow into decent human beings, but that enlightenment doesn't come from girlfriends who are both hurting you by breaking up with you and for whom you also have contempt. Whether that contempt comes from the aforementioned moral smugness or jealousy strikes me as irrelevant.

Instead, if the enlightenment is going to happen, it's more likely to come from a general experience of the world. If he's lucky, this mature 17 year old leaves his Bible-belt high school and goes to college in the progressive north east. Or he gets away to any big city which will have to be more progressive than the backwater small world he currently lives in. Once there, his eyes are open to all the people walking around in a variety of relationships. He notices people taking masturbation for granted without so much as wink wink. Then, if he's lucky, he thinks back on that long-ago girlfriend and smiles to himself.
77
@13- sissoucat being confrontational and ignorant again *yawn
78
Sometimes a plain "I don't know" would be better.

You are telling a depressed young man to wait SIXTEEN years to have a chance to find the partner he wants!?

Please see my first sentence for emphasis.

Fail.
79
Ms Crinoline - I was thinking more of religious people who don't yet know that their piety isn't solid because they've never had the situation flipped on them. He's presumably (I suspect the critical "anyway" in the letter that has so many people ready to crucify him *may* be hers rather than his) used to judging her to be morally subpar; being judged himself to be sexually subpar is the sort of thing that can jolt someone into realizing that the foundation was not solid. Yours is the path of conscious change, taking up the axe and chopping down the house oneself; mine is that of abandoning the house because it blows down in a strong wind, or even just a huff and a puff.

Given that he has the easy out of just telling himself that she's been seduced by somebody fiendish, he can probably escape having to consider that he might be the problem if he wants sufficiently to do so.
80
re: the first letter. Dan, I agree she should break up with him - they are obviously a miss-match on so many levels. However, he is younger than her 18 years so he is still very young. I do think you should give the kid a break. He is after all just a kid. Hopefully he learns and grows from this but there's no need to be so harsh about an immature kid who's probably not an MF (as in DTMF) but just a very young man who's still got got a LOT of growing up to do.
81
LW2 Obvious solution: Date depressed women. Oh, to have someone that understands.... The internet is your friend in this one.

@62 Because the fact that she had such a sex life didn't make a difference in her forever alone feelings. Because it doesn't.
83
@34,53: You realize that CK is a comedian, right? And that this was not somber advice from Polonius CK, but part of a joke that is almost completely self-deprecating?
84
@83

Yeah it's super hilarious...
85
I really don't understand the advice to UGLY. Why/how do depressed people suddenly become attractive in their 40s? How is it good advice to tell a depressed person to wait decades before having a relationship? I'm a depressed woman in my mid 20s and this makes no sense at all. I'm obviously not in the best position to give advice myself but I would tell him to seek out more introverted types who are open minded enough to accept your moods. I sure as hell would not tell him to give up and see hookers for decades and wait for women to magically fall into his arms at an age when most women are already married.
86
Ok people, I don't know if I'm being too cynical here, but this is the only way I can make any sense out of the advice to UGLY. Maybe this is implying that he should become a sugar daddy to compensate for being sad? I don't know.
87
Perhaps the overripe women CK describes plummeting from their lofty branches have been dislodged by the flailing mid-life crises of the men they were attached to.
88
@TheLastComment: I think the general point is that UGLY has years of opportunity for romance ahead of him, and things will get better.

Depression aside, it would have been good to hear when I was in my 20's that one's 40's could be so much fun, although I don't know if I'd have believed it.
89
@Still Thinking: Or perhaps they've dislodged themselves.

A more generous reader might see Louis CK's comment as a humorously self-deprecating expression of gratitude to older women for being more appreciative of men and forgiving of their imperfections.
90
@seandr - If you consider his potential dating pool changing from unattached, in shape 20-somethings to out-of-shape 40-somethings that have had all their fun with young dirtbags and are just looking for a guy to help them with their brats as "getting better"; then yes it will get "better" in his 40s. Dan's advice to that guy was pure crap. While there are are few grains of truth to what Louis CK said, that was still a comedic bit and not something you should base advice for a serious problem on. If he waits until his 40s without having had any sort of major relationship, he'll just come off as weird, even to desperate 40-somethings.

He says he doesn't want to become bitter toward women, but if he waits until he's middle aged to find a serious relationship, his hatred of women will become as inevitable as the tides going in and out and the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. And why wouldn't he be angry? Who wants to be told "You weren't good enough in the prime of your youth, but now that I'm older, kind of desperate, and need some help around the house, you'll do."? That's a bitter pill to swallow.

The one advice on here I've read that is spot on is that he needs to get to the gym and lift weights. Lots and lots of weights. Some people on here have framed it from the perspective that he needs to exercise to manage his depression, but he needs to exercise so he can become more attractive to women. He should get in the best shape of his life and work on his career, then use that as a starting point to getting out there and dating in his late-20s/early 30s. There are plenty of guys who suffer from depression that have lots of relationships (hell, tons of Hollywood actors suffer from depression). There are plenty of women in their 20s who like to try to "fix" those kinds of guys. That he's not attracting those women suggests that he really isn't all that physically attractive, and he doesn't have adequate game to overcome his dumpy appearance. So, he needs to man up, get in the gym, and get swole if he wants to start getting laid more often.
91
@90:
You mean if he wants a pity-fuck? I always find guys who think lifting plenty of weights makes them more attractive to women quite pitiable.

Physical fitness from playing sports, from running or cycling, from physical labour: that's attractive. A guy with pumped-up muscles from lifting weights is just a weird and sorry sight.
92
@91:
Lifting plenty of weights doesn't mean he'll turn into some ridiculous-looking bodybuilder. Hugh Jackman and Chris Evan lift a crapload of weight to prepare for their superhero movies, and they can still wear normal clothes. If he runs all the time, he'll just end up looking skinny and haggard later in his life. Marathon running is the worst way to get in shape if you're doing it for appearances. It ages you just as badly as too much sun and smoking too much.
93
@90: If he waits until his 40s...

To you and everyone else squawking about Dan's advice to "wait", that was not Dan's advice.

Dan advised UGLY to stop fixating on finding a woman, immerse himself in other pursuits, and find his calling. (There's no reason the gym can't be part of that, although I'd say that finding a career he enjoys is more important).

Should UGLY follow that advice, he's far more likely to find love at any age. Women aren't drawn to men who are desperate. Women are drawn to men who have a purpose. And there are countless men and women who spend years trying and failing to find a mate, only to succeed as soon as they give up their desperate hunt and find happiness in being single.

And I'll add that being insecure and overly invested in the idea of a relationship makes you a great target for those who would use and abuse you.

That's pretty much the story of my sister's life, who just moved in with an awesome guy. And I met Mrs. seandr after we had both just ended relationships and the last thing either of us wanted was another. As far as either of us were concerned, we were just having a summer fling. That mindset left us room to just have fun together without being weighed down by high expectations. And before we knew it, fall arrived, then winter...
94
@migrationist: A guy with pumped-up muscles from lifting weights is just a weird and sorry sight.

The research shows that women are generally attracted to men with muscles. I started getting a lot more attention from women once I started hitting the gym. I've also noticed a lot of arm touching as part of their flirtations.

The research also shows that degree of muscularity women find attractive is less than what men think women find attractive. So, no, UGLY doesn't want to become one of those ridiculous, overly muscled steroid freaks you are referring to. Somehow, I don't think there's much danger of that happening.
95
Hahaha love the Louis CK reference. I was wondering how Dan felt about his version of "It Gets Better". I believe in both :P.

Yeah it was meant partially tongue in cheek but at the same time, it's pretty true. You don't really have to wait until you're 40. And self-improvement and learning to love yourself is the most important thing. But everyone becomes more mature over time and if it seems all the girls you see are really snubbing you now (rather unlikely people aren't that bad), in a few years they will give you the time of day because we all get less snobbish and superficial over time.

Some don't and they're awful people, but most do. Pick any nonsexual activity to improve in, something that you are passionate about and makes you want to do well in other parts of your life. Going to the gym is a bit like 2 birds with 1 stone but that's not necessary. People want to get with someone who love themselves and have passion and focus in life. Some are cool with a fixer upper (my gf included) but it's not fair to blame women for not digging a vibe of no confidence. You'll get there! Everyone here agrees!
96
UGLY, being attractive to women doesn't come with the same set of rules as women being attractive to men does. Some women aren't looking for that, we're looking at who you are, not what you look like.

Women will date 'regular' guys who aren't Johnny Depp, if they're great people, make them laugh, and have good manners and treat them with respect. Yes, sometimes that's all it takes.
There are enough good looking guys out there who are douchebags, and have no idea how to treat a woman!! Some of us have dated those guys enough, and got sick of that bullshit.

I have dated plenty of guys that nobody else thought was hot. I did!! Why? Because they are awesome people, and deserve some love too.

So hang in there. Somebody will think you're great one day, depression and all. :)
97
@7: the LW isn't "impure" because there's no such thing as sexual purity. Dictionary definitions and semantic pedantry have nothing to do with it.
98
UGLY may well want to visit the gym regularly, in part because exercise and the attendant rise of endorphin levels helps with depression, and also because the visible effects will be appreciated, too. But in his letter he specifies that it isn't his looks that make him unattractive: "Physically I'm not bad (not hot, but not ugly)"; it's his "extreme" depression and most of all, I'd guess it's his self-confessed lack of self confidence.

The solution, therefore, is not simply to work out and get more muscle-y. Nor is it to wait it out until he's 40. He says he fears becoming so embittered towards women that he ends up joining an MRA group--so I don't see how a depressed, low-self-esteem-ridden, 40-y/o with a membership in good standing on some Internet MRA chatroom is going to have better success even with all the desperate, lonely 40 y/o women fleeing their first marriages out there.

Perhaps there are a few people--gay and straight, male and female--that don't find low self-confidence to be an impediment to attraction, and there are probably a few who find it attractive (for various reasons, but most probably have to do with their own feelings of insecurity), but for the vast majority, a lack of self-confidence is extremely unattractive. What UGLY needs to do is develop a better outlook on life, some interests verging on passions that are also interesting to others, a better attitude, and a stronger sense of self-love--and that's much harder to do that 25 reps of 20 bicep curls. But it will give him more than those bicep curls, too, not just in terms of rendering him more attractive to women his own age who might end up being romantic prospects, but also to men and women of all ages, who find that they enjoy interacting and socializing with him.

Depression and loneliness go together like a breakup and a pint of Ben and Jerry's. Depression is an illness of isolation. He says he's already gotten some "help" for it and is doing somewhat better, but it sounds like he could use more help, in the forms of more or different and more effective medication, exercise, cutting alcohol out, if he drinks, maybe talk therapy, especially if the therapist helps him to pull out of his lethargy and get things accomplished--start small--and most importantly, gets a job if he doesn't have one, or starts volunteering in his community. He needs to get out of his own head, to be busy, to have a purpose, to have responsibilities, to think somehow of others. He really needs to pull himself out of the isolation that depression siren-sings one to, but the lethargy that he feels (also a symptom of depression) keeps people from doing things.

Then he needs to find or cultivate some interests that put him in contact with others. It would help if these interests were some that are generally shared by some women, but even if he develops his inner geek and gets social with other geeks, some girls are geeks, some like geeks, and some are sisters of geeks or friends of the girlfriends of geeks. UGLY just needs to be sure that he is a geek who practices good hygiene!

It's really the confidence that is attractive, but that can't come from a vacuum; it needs to grow. So UGLY should put himself into situations where he can gain a sense of confidence in himself, if not as a Cassanova, then as a person with particular skills and talents and something to offer others. If that happens, I guarantee that not only will he end up with a girlfriend, but with more friends in general, and a greater general satisfaction in life.

And, UGLY, don't be bitter. Bitterness helps no one.
99
The shakiest assumption in the advice to UGLY is that depression gets better with age. Unfortunately depression tends to gets worse with age as doors start closing on you - there is a reason why even many well-socialized people go through deep midlife crises in their 40s. I can guarantee that a 40 year old who has never been socialized is going to be a worse mess than a 25 year old who has never been socialized.
100
@vennominon

"At any rate, I thank you for presenting the sort of grim assessment that can only come from an insider."

You made me laugh there...

@Eudaemonics

Thanks for the advice about running, it's a great idea. I'll use it.
101
You know what? Fuck it. The Stranger needs a better search engine. I want the Savage Love article over the past year where Dan talks about about the grey area between rape and consensual sex. The one dealing with a dude who was drunk with a chick who was also drunk.

Fuck it, I'm drunk and am too drunk to look for it.

I'm also drunk but not drunk enough not to use improper grammar. So, yea, fuck ya'all who use improper grammar. And, yes, "ya'all" is apparently correct. For some odd reason.

Can you answer, Dan, despite it being Valentines with your family?

I think, and certainly hope, not.
102
I tend to hang out with other social rejects, and I've met some very attractive men who have 0 relationship experience. One of the most physically attractive men I know is still a virgin in his mid 20s. He told me he would never lose his virginity because he's too awkward. I swear he looks like a male model. He is one of the few people in my life I have ever attempted to hit on, we even went on a date, but that went nowhere.

Point is, I think it's difficult for some people to imagine, but it's possible to look fine and still have trouble with relationships, especially if you're male. I'm not saying weight lifting is a bad idea, it's just not going to cure everything.
103
Ms Cute - "A pint of Ben & Jerry's" makes me think of what I'm guessing to be The Approved Womanly Method of Borrowing a Handkerchief - no matter how violently she's been sobbing, she uses the smallest possible portion of handkerchief to take the tiniest dab at the corner of her eye (perhaps a corner of both eyes after extreme grief) and returns the handkerchief in near mint condition with a grateful claim of feeling much restored.

Surely a breakup should go with at least a quart. If it only gets a pint, B&J seems a bit midmarket. Godiva might do, if they still put out ice cream. Or there was a charming New-York based outfit a few years ago that came out with a line of extremely expensive pints in decadent flavours containing from 18 to 32 grams of fat per serving. That seems right in the ballpark for a breakup. We might make a rule that one ought to consume a hundred grams of fat for the breakup to be of sufficiently operatic proportions.

And for anyone about retort with Get Thee to a Gym, a) I am not a particular connoisseur of ice cream (though I recall that peppermint stick must be firm to be first-rate), which I generally only bought when it was on sale and I had a $0.75 coupon to triple, and now I don't have anywhere to triple coupons or access to coupons that aren't "$1 off 2" or worse, b) I infinitely prefer tennis, and c) apropos of very little, I passed one of the few remaining Friendly's restaurants on my way home (probably a New England thing only; perhaps Mr Married, who has been absent lately and who has not, I hope, been murdered, will be familiar with the chain) and realized that I have not had a milkshake since the early 1980's, when I suppose I was considerably more romantic.
104
Mr. Ven, I wasn't aware that B&J's comes in sizes other than quarts. I also think that their Cherry Garcia is breakup-worthy, but I tend to medicate my heartbreaks with wine and not ice cream these days. In fact, I try to stay away from ice cream in any amount or of any brand because it's far too dangerous for me. Essentially any container of it is a potential single serving size.
105
Vennominon, I'm just a lurker here, but may I confess that I consistently adore your contributions?
106
At the possible risk of being told to shit the fuck up, Happy Valentine's Day, everybody.
:)
Griz