Many years ago a friend was pet-sitting, and she told me she was taking care of a "socially awkward dog". I said that sounded like me, so she explained that this dog's issues manifested through inappropriate peeing.
That wasn't so much me, but as someone who felt unattractive and often awkward, the phrase wrung a bell. The same thing happened the first time I heard "involuntary celibate", but still, the way it gets used isn't really me, and it isn't the way the originator of the phrase meant it either.
Writing about them the issue last week, I mentioned that there probably should be some supplementary information on availability of sex. I want to try and get that out of the way now, which I will do feeling somewhat unqualified but still believing I have a point.
I know I could have sex if I wanted to, and I do want to have sex, but at this time it is not really an option to have it the way I want it, in a committed marriage relationship where there is mutual respect and affection. I could wish for different circumstances, but I am nonetheless making a choice. That is a choice I base on my religious values, but I know that not everyone shares those values, and I know that there is a world of choices out there.
Content note: I am going to be speaking pretty directly about sex, but not necessarily graphically.
Self-gratification is an option. I don't believe that I should masturbate. That is primarily because I believe that an important purpose of sex is to help bond a couple, with the release of oxytocin helping that. On a deeper level, I have concerns that it could prove addictive for me, and then it would harm my balance between physical and spiritual, but really I don't do it because I believe it's wrong and that is religious in nature. That could be perceived as being on a more shallow level, I know, but I do think about it and take it seriously, so that's where I stand there.
For people who do not have those concerns, yes, masturbation is available and there are many items that can make it more effective. Otherwise, possibly ways of reducing the physical urges can include exercise, meditation, yoga, and low-calorie diets. (Not joking.)
Often it is not just about the urge, but the accompanying desire for a physical connection with another person. Great. I believe in that. Here is something else that I know is available, even though I do not partake of it. It is relatively easy to find a hookup. There are people willing for that. There are applications that help you locate them, there are places you can show up to find people, and those options are out there. Even though I know that I am not the most attractive and desirable woman out there, I know that I could find partners. They are out there. Even when I did not think it was possible for anyone to want me for a long-term relationship, I knew that I could find a hook-up, and that hasn't changed, even as I age.
What if that still isn't enough, and you want an emotional connection as well? That is available too. I held myself back from it for a long time because I believed it wasn't possible. That got me into a life phase where the dating pool is much shallower, and I know that. But you know, I could still do it. At this point, I don't have the same level of patience for a lot of men, or the willingness to overlook some flaws in him because it could mean children.
You know what? That is still a choice. The choices I was making were not always conscious, and they should have been. I could have worked on healing some of my wounds much earlier, and that would have been good for multiple reasons, but ultimately, conscious of my choices now, I am satisfied with my life.
Out in the "manosphere", there is a group called "sluthate" that started as "puahate"; because initially their resentment focused on the pick up artists who told them that they could have women but whose seduction methods failed. They still hate the men who are getting sex, but they decided to focus on the women, which I suppose is easier, and to wallow in the unfairness of being rejected by women whom they have never regarded as full human beings with their own unique tastes and desires.
Maybe the pick up artists have more physical charms, maybe your ideal woman's partner is better-looking than you, but it is so not about that. Fat people have sex. Old people have sex. Disabled people have sex. People with acne have sex. People who are introverted have sex. People often have sex with people who are better than them, when you are rating people via shallow and superficial criteria rather than appreciating them as people. And if you do a find/replace and change every use of "sex" to "relationships", it remains true.
I'm not saying that it is easy. Honestly, just deciding that you want a committed relationship rather than just sex ups the level of work required significantly. It remains possible.
Having had my own issues with self-worth, I can feel a certain amount of sympathy for someone who things that their appearance eliminates them from any chance of attractiveness. I can even feel sympathy for being attracted to people who are more attractive to you, and feeling a pang at that.
Where my sympathy quickly evaporates is where the resentment starts. The hypocrisy of ruling out other people based on their looks, but thinking your looks shouldn't be held against you? I have no sympathy for that. The stereotyping of women as shallow, and only liking jerks so nice guys don't have a chance? Yeah, none of the guys I have heard say that have ever been that nice.
I sympathize with unrequited desire. The desire to control someone else, though, that is something else. You don't get that.
And it won't make you happy, for what it's worth. It will twist your soul and damage your humanity as find it harder and harder to acknowledge the humanity of anyone else. The richer things that come from reaching out, learning, connecting -- those will get lost to you, but I will be more worried about the people to whom you are a danger.
That's the key: your desire doesn't trump anyone else's. It should be a really easy concept, even for NYT commentators, but apparently not.
That worries me.