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Hello all you Twitternet meat hordes, and welcome to Ask Dr. NerdLove, the only dating advice column whose pre-orders are only available at 1:00 AM.
This week, it's all about sex: who wants it, who doesn't, where to find it and whether deciding to wait on it is a losing proposition when it comes to dating. What are the best practices when it comes to finding a no-strings attached hook-up? (We've covered this ground in the past, but it's a common question.) Is deciding to wait until marriage going to make it harder to find dates?
You're going to be waiting in line at GameStop anyway, so it's time to shine up the old brown shoes and put on a brand new shirt. Let's do this thing:
I would like to get laid more often, but I don't know how.
I didn't have sex in high school, I barely had sex in college, and while I'm more active now, it's not nearly as frequent as I would like it to be. I have a high sex drive which makes it tough to deal. I "take care" of myself as much as I can within reason, but sometimes you just need to tango with a partner.
Here's my real problem though: I'm terrible at casual sex, by which I mean I'm terrible at making it happen. I suck at Tinder and Bumble (I didn't know guys could even suck at Bumble but I found a way), and I can't ever seem to seal the deal in clubs or parties. I'm not really eye candy, and I have trouble standing out and making an impression in those scenarios. I'm a conversationalist, and I usually come across better in talking scenarios.
Problem is, the type of people who are into one night stands or casual sex typically hang out in clubs or on Tinder, where my game is wack. I've thought about taking to Craigslist but I've had very little luck there finding casual situations that don't require a "donation".
Meanwhile I need it bad and I have no idea what to do about it. Am I just going to have to get better at standing out in clubs? Do I need to boost my Tinder profile? Or is there a way for me to meet like minded people where I'm in my element?
Sincerely, Needs it bad
Alright, NIB, I have a question for you: are you looking for a no-strings attached hook-up (or series of hook-ups), or are you hoping for something tonight? Because right now it seems like you're conflating the two and that's a mistake.
There's a difference between casual sex in general and one-night stands. Casual sex is just sex without the expectation of a committed relationship. Women who're up for a casual hook-up aren't necessarily going to be up for a one-night stand and people who're up for one-night stands may want relationships.
The mistake you're making is that you're asking about "where", when you should really be asking "why." Specifically: why would a woman be interested in hooking up with you? Because, quite frankly, women who're interested in casual sex — whether it's a one-off hook-up or a fuckbuddy relationship — are everywhere.
They're not just on Tinder or at the club or at singles bars. They're on OKCupid. They're at Barnes and Noble. They're at that subdued house-party with the red wine and hummus. They're standing in line with you for your morning latte. Women are just as into casual sex as men are. It's just that most of the time, their potential partners are turning them off.
Everyone's heard of the Clarke/Hatfield study — the one that had attractive research assistants approaching members of the opposite sex on college campuses and asking "Would you like to go to bed with me?"
Almost every guy approached by women would say "hell yes," because this is how pornos start. Almost every woman approached by men said "hell NO"... not because they, as a gender, are averse to foolin' around but because dick coming out of the clear blue sky — or out of a dating app — is generally not dick they're going to want.
Sex has risks for women that it simply doesn't have for men, from pregnancy to an increased risk of sexually-transmitted infections and sexual assault to old-fashioned slut-shaming. When you control for those risks, then women's interest in maybe banging out with a stranger rise. Scientists at the University of Mainz found that when their physical safety and privacy was assured, women were far more interested in some NSA nookie.
But it's more than just being safe — the sex needs to be worth it. Dr. Terri Conley found that the more skilled a woman perceived her potential paramour to be, the more likely she would be to hook up with him. Guys, after all, are almost guaranteed to orgasm during sex. Hetero women… aren't.
In fact, less than 68% of straight women achieve orgasm during penetrative sex and that number goes down during one-night stands. There are a lot of guys who see sex with a stranger and think "well, since I'm not going to see her again, there's no need to put in any effort."
And then, just to add the lime kiss of "fuck you" to offset the bottom-shelf jug tequila of lousy sex, some guys will turn around and call her a whore for letting him sleep with her.
Small wonder why a lot of women aren't that inclined to fuck Johnny Rando. The sex just isn't going to be good enough to make it worth taking the chance. And frankly, a lot of dudes advertise that they suck at sex.
Guys who "flirt" by turning every conversation sexual, who use high-pressure tactics from whatever dodgy subreddit they turned to, even the fedora-tipping M'lady-ing Nice Guys are all proudly displaying their lack of bedroom skills like the tail of the saddest peacock in the word.
Apps like OKCupid and Tinder aren't much better. Allow me to illustrate the common experience that women have as soon as they open an online dating app:
Whether it's in person or online, those are all great indicators that the guy couldn't care less about the person they're trying to hook up with; they just see her as a convenient hole for their pole. And while there will be times when people are cool with being objectified, having somebody signal "I see you as an animated Real Doll" is a pretty good indication that the sex is going to be fucking awful.
Considering how many of those same dudes will immediately turn around and yell about how she's old/fat/ugly/a whore and they wouldn't fuck her with a borrowed dick… well, that's less of a the offer of a hook-up and more 5 minutes that she'll never get back.
This brings us back to you, NIB. Now that you know a little about why women do — and don't — say yes to casual sex, let's make an action plan for you. The first thing is that you need to change your focus a little. You're going to find women who're up for a casual relationship… but you're going to do it differently than you had been before.
Start with ditching clubs and bars. Yeah, there're people who're open to hooking up there, but if you aren't comfortable in that environment, you're gonna have a miserable time and that's going to salt your game. You'll do better at parties — not raging keggers, but lower key get-togethers that will play to your strengths. You know you do better when you can talk, so prioritise meeting women in places where you can have conversations.
You should also prioritise OKCupid over Tinder. While Tinder may have the reputation of a hook-up app, OKCupid also has plenty of people who are interested in casual sex and is structured in a way that lets you connect with people over more than just your pictures.
The next thing that you're going to do is focus less on getting laid right then and there. Yeah, I know you're horny and your junk is screaming "nownownownow" but a little time and care is going to serve you far better than rushing things, especially if you're not experienced with getting same-night hook-ups.
A woman may well be up for hooking up with someone without wanting to date, but that doesn't necessarily mean that she wants to bone within an hour of meeting. Even someone who is openly and explicitly looking for casual sex isn't going to appreciate somebody who treats her like a sex ATM. The dudes who open a Tinder conversation with "Can I fuck your tits?", the ones who slide into DMs asking for nudes and the grabby bros at bars are all trying to speed-run getting laid and that's part of what's turning women off.
You need to give her a little time to feel comfortable with you and decide that she's interested in going to bed with you. Sometimes that can take as little as 20 minutes. Sometimes that can take a day or two — or a couple dates.
So you need to slow your roll a bit. Going on a date or two and getting to know her as a person is going to work a lot better for you than trying to glitch your way to the final stage right from the jump.
Date, flirt in a low-key manner, have an amazing date (or dates) and let her get to know you as an awesome, fun guy. The guy who makes her feel good in general is going to be someone who she's going to want to spend time with ... including naked time.
(Just remember: exciting beats pleasant when it comes to dates. This means that "dinner and a movie" is not on the table. Go for a bike ride. Race go-karts. Do something fun that gets your heart-rate up.)
And while you're at it: put some effort into yourself. There is a lot of surprisingly simple things that you can do that make you sexier. A guy who dresses like he just got off work at Best Buy isn't going to be sending up the Studly GoodNight signal, nor is someone who's doused himself in Axe. Presentation is a big part of showing that you're worth banging.
TL;DR: a little less focus on "Take Me Home Tonight" and a little more on connecting with people. It may not be as immediate as trying to get a hook-up in a dingy club bathroom, but you'll have a better success rate… and better sex overall.
Hey Doc Nerdlove,
First off, let me say I'm a fan of your column. I read it whenever it posts, and you usually have good information and alternate perspectives I wouldn't have considered on my own. I think you do a good job, and if nothing else, it's entertaining.
With regard to that, I think I have a problem, and I'm wondering if you could provide some insight to help me out. Some pertinent information about me: I'm your standard heterosexual dude, in my late 20s. I have a good job and career outlook, am financially comfortable, own my home, and have a couple of nice vehicles.
I was raised as a Southern gentleman, do my utmost to always present myself as such, and I consider myself reasonably attractive, at least as far as mainstream conventions would have you think. I'm happy with who I am, and near as I can tell I'm the textbook definition of mental health.
All sounds good and well in order, right? Here's the thing: I'm still a virgin, and I'm almost positive it's crippling my love life, to the point of killing it outright. I don't have a problem getting a date (I do the online thing). I have a problem with maintaining a woman's interest, and after careful introspection of every other facet of my personality, life situation, and mannerisms, I have to conclude my lack of sexual experience is the issue.
Shortly after the subject of sex is broached with someone, whenever that may be, and I talk about myself, things always taper off one way or another. Most often all contact will simply drop off, which is preceded by the woman expressing discomfort or disbelief about my status. I've never had someone tell me explicitly "I won't date you because you're a virgin", but that's the only conclusion I can make.
I've been single for about 7 years now, alternating between periods of actively trying to date and putting romance aside for my job or hobbies. Lately I've been feeling pretty self conscious about it, what with 30 not too far away, and friends/family asking questions and making comments.
As to why I'm a virgin, my ideas and opinions have changed over the years, but the most prevalent driving thought has always been that when (if?) I do get married, I want my wife to have everything I have to offer, including that small, special piece of me that is my first time. When I dredge up that memory in the future, I want to think about the woman I married, and no one else.
I want to add a very clear caveat here in that I don't think less of anyone who is sexually active, regardless of circumstance. That's your life, and I'm not going to judge. A woman's "history", which is most certainly not my business anyway, is irrelevant to me, so long as she's genuinely interested in me.
My question to you, Doc, is what do you think about my perceived problem? Am I missing something about myself? Am I simply going about looking for someone the wrong way? Do I have a problem at all? I think empirical data would prove as much, but maybe it's just all in my head?
Should I give up on the idea of saving myself altogether, and simply yield to the cultural norm in order to improve my odds? How would you say most people contextualize sex anyway; is it a legitimate physical need, or a means of emotional bonding, an expression of feeling, or perhaps something else? I'd appreciate any help you'd be willing to provide, and in any case, if you actually read this, thanks for your time.
Yours Most Sincerely, Lonely and Wondering
The issue isn't that you're a virgin, LaW, the issue is why you're a virgin. There are plenty of women out there who're OK with a guy who's a virgin - hell, there are some who're turned on by it. The fact that you're wanting to wait until marriage that's the most likely culprit.
The first issue is that, frankly, dudes who're focused on waiting until marriage tend to have less than desirable attitudes about women and women's sexuality. Yeah, that's not you… but most women have encountered slut-shaming arseholes or gone through "abstinence-only" educational seminars and the association is going to turn them off faster than a cold sewage shower.
The second issue is that most people aren't going to want to wait. Sex and sexual compatibility are vital parts of a relationship.
You ask if sex is a physical need, emotional bonding or an expression of emotion or something more; the answer is "yes". It's any single one of those and all of the above and more. Most people want to have sex with the person they're in a relationship with and they're going to see artificial limitations on it as a deal breaker.
Should you give up on your ideals? That's up to you man. Literally every man I've ever known, only two were virgins until marriage (and frankly, one of them only squeaked in under a technicality).
If you want my strict opinion, I think it's a poor decision to choose to wait. There is a lot about yourself, sexually, that you simply aren't going to know until you've experienced it, and that knowledge is going to affect your relationship with your partner or partners. Neither will waiting until marriage ensure that this will be your only partner.
You can't divorce-proof your relationship by waiting, nor does having sex before marriage (or engagement, for that matter) doom things. Plus: waiting until after your break-up requires lawyers is a bad time to find out that the two of you don't sync sexually.
Just as importantly: the fact that someone is your only partner or your hundredth isn't going to make them any more or less special, nor will it make you less special to them. There will be a lifetime of experiences that will make them stand out in your mind.
At the end of the day, choices have consequences, and only you can decide if those consequences are worth it. In your case, choosing to wait until marriage is going to drastically reduce your dating pool… like, to single digits. Fewer than 10% of women have not had premarital sex, and while their virginity may not matter to you, it's also an indicator of how they're going to feel about your waiting.
If you want to stick to it, then you're going to want to focus on women who share your views about virginity. Meeting women at church, religiously affiliated meet-ups and sites like Christian Mingle are going to be your best options; you're far more likely to find women who'll be OK with waiting than if you're trying to shotgun your way through the general population.
But like I said, that's all up to you. I'm not gonna lie: waiting until marriage means that you're likely to be waiting a long time, my dude. If that's a price you're willing to pay, then more power to you.
Do you have a one-night stand story to share? Were you a virgin until marriage? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. And meanwhile, we'll be back with more of your questions in two weeks.
Ask Dr. Nerdlove is Kotaku's bi-weekly dating column, hosted by the one and only Harris O'Malley, AKA Dr. NerdLove. Got a question you'd like answered? [email protected] and put "Kotaku" in the subject line
Harris O'Malley is a writer and dating coach who provides geek dating advice at his blogPaging Dr. NerdLove and the Dr. NerdLove podcast. His new dating guide New Game+: The Geek's Guide to Love, Sex and Dating is out now from Amazon, iTunes and everywhere fine books are sold He is also a regular guest at One Of Us.