It has been a little over a year since I joined the site, with the intention of beating LS or at least bringing it to a level I can work around. I have done better than I thought I would, but not as good as I hoped I would (does anyone?) and now it's time to write down the year's events. It would make me happy if one or more of my fellow LS on this board can try actions like this and do as well or better than I have done.
In one of my earliest posts on here, I noted that I had, largely by accident, had a grand total of two girl-friends, by a loose definition. On more careful consideration, I don't think the second one counts, even by the loosest definition. We didn't get as far as sex, the whole thing was a mess from the get-go and probably a major mistake for both. It was around the time that blew apart that I joined this site.
First, I read Gilmartin's book, and I found it very enlightening. More than once as I read the sections where he wrote about the traits and living conditions that correllated with LS, I thought he could have almost been standing behind me as he wrote it. (I skipped the chapter on astrology, though.) When I read the section about how the problem might be beaten with practice dating, I thought "I wish they had something like that around here." I started thinking about how I might try something like that by myself, without the organized group described.
One thought in particular spurred me to action more than anything else. Without decisive action, I would, after having come so close, revert almost overnight to the state I had spent almost the whole three years gone by previously: a few steps above a shut-in, crippled by LS, and likely to stay that way permanently, while the piece of shit that I had been allegedly seeing would, sooner rather than later, move on like nothing had ever happened and find her next victim.
I considered trying to act in real life to be a lost cause, but the internet was right at my fingertips. I decided to look just for sex at first, partly to bring my woefully inadequate level of experience to at least within shouting distance of the average for a man my age, and partly because the summer's debacle destroyed any patience I might have had for female bullshit. I had been at least somewhat flexible and forgiving before, but I thought that if I should be lucky enough in future to find a regular girl friend (not just sex), I would dictate the terms of the relationship and she would either accept them unconditionally or take a hike. My way or the highway ... fuck me or fuck off ... There would be NO REPEAT of the past summer's misadventure, during which I let her walk all over me, piecemeal, and in the end still walked away with nothing. If I sound bitter, angry, and hateful, it's only because I am.
On the first day of December, I joined two internet dating sites. One was mainstream, although it had an option for sex only, and the other was dedicated to sex only. At first, I had difficulty filling out the profiles. I wasn't sure what to put down. It took hours of thought and several tries to come up with something that met the minimum characters requirement and didn't contain any obvious bullshit or fillers. I came up with (paraphrased) that I was looking for sex, possibly in a "friends with benefits" arrangement, that I did not want to take part in anything too unconventional (no BDSM, no threesomes, etc.) and that age and appearance were unimportant. (When it's sex only, a vagina's a vagina, after all.) I deliberately selected a poor quality picture to scan in, and deliberately used a tool that came with my computer to make the quality even worse (mainly by exaggerating the contrast, making the sunlit side of my face overly bright and the shadowed side almost black) to reduce the chance that I might be recognized. I didn't degrade the picture so much that it would have been rendered useless to any women I sent it to, though.
For a week or so, I browsed the profiles indecisively. I made notes of which ones were worth pursuing, which ones weren't, and which ones were likely fakes. If the photographs were a little too good - as in they didn't look like they'd been taken by the average Jane with no special training in photography - I was suspicious. If anything in the profile's words didn't look quite right either (not sure how best to put this into words, more of a gut feeling than anything) I was also suspicious. I eliminated any ones that said they wanted to do something I wasn't willing to do (like go partying beforehand) or, conversely, any that said they were looking for something I couldn't offer.
Then came the hard part, typing that first message. Drawing inspiration from some articles I'd read on the internet, I came up with a few principles to guide me. One was be brief, and not to go into any rambling monologues (like what I'm typing now, haha.) Another was to mention something - anything - in her profile, that way she knows I took the time to read it, and write no bullshit, ever. Even with these in mind, the LS tried its hardest to derail my efforts. I sat in front of the computer, in peace and quiet, with all the time I cared to take to type a message, and it took forty-five minutes to come up with three short sentences, during which my hands shook so badly I could barely type. When I hit "send", it felt as if the weight of the whole world had been lifted from my shoulders. Then I felt a chill, because it was 61 degrees indoors and I was drenched in sweat. I thought that it was lucky that I was living in the age of computers, because if I had so much trouble doing that remotely, how could I have ever been able to try something like that in real life?
I was surprised and gratified when, a few days later, I received a reply. She was tentatively interested, but wanted to chat. So I taught myself to use an instant messenger program (something I'd never used before) and used it to talk to her. Even though it was in real-time, I found it easier (relatively) because the first step, writing that message, had already been made, and it became easier still over the next few minutes. To summarize, she asked me if I could get there and if I would use a condom (yes to both), then a few minutes of idle chatter about nothing, then she said she to come over on her next night off work.
I did so, even though I'd started to get nervous again now that the chips were down. I kept thinking on the way over "If I embarrass myself, it will kill off what little confidence I've managed to build up and make another try elsewhere that much harder." - and other unpleasant thoughts. I tried to reassure myself by thinking "First time after such a long break is likely to be awkward, if I can pull this off it will get easier." Awkward it was, but after enough trying I did manage to break a three-year drought and double my number of sex partners in the waning days of 2007.
Gilmartin was right: it gets much easier with practice. I asked her almost without ANY difficulty whether she'd be up for another such meeting another day, and she said probably. On the drive back home I flipped the bird in the general direction of where the woman from the previous summer lived (late at night, no other drivers to think I was flipping them off, haha)
I slowly began going through the lists on the dating sites and writing to more women, a little at a time. The messages I sent were all fairly similar, but none were identical. I soon realized that I had gotten beginner's luck on the first try, because only about one in five messages generated any response at all. Between sending messages and working, I used the instant messenger program for its other purpose, to enter chat rooms. I figured I could try for sex or possibly a regular girl-friend in there, practice talking in real-time (if not face to face) as I did so, and kill some time bantering with random people about any topics even if nothing else happened.
I did meet a few women in there who were interested in a regular boy friend/girl friend arrangement, although nothing came of it. My newfound inflexibility and bullshit-intolerance probably saved me from something as bad or worse than what I'd escaped from the previous summer. I did have a promising first chat with one woman, but the next day it became apparent that she did not match what I wanted in a girl friend, and I told her so, quite bluntly. I had never rejected outright a woman before, and oh boy did it ever feel good.
Another chat in late January led to one date with a different woman, one in which I had, in what was a first for me, deliberately worked toward and asked for, as opposed to having it happen by accident as another almost five years earlier had done. It didn't work out; she seemed even more nervous than I was (hard to imagine!) and after we had a pizza she said she wasn't interested in pursuing it further, so I drove her home and that was that. I was not terribly bothered by it though, because I had three things in mind: (1) even among normal people, the majority of first dates are also last dates, (2) I had not committed any major gaffes that I was aware of, so I had not sabotaged the date with my own idiocy or LSness, and (3) I had a fallback position in the sex sites, knowing that what I'd done once, I could at least in theory do again.
As it happened, that route bore fruit again the next week. Another woman was sufficiently interested to chat, and she asked me how I had come to be on the site. While we were chatting, several things that I could have put in my profile came up in conversation. In hindsight, they seemed quite obvious and I oughtn't to have overlooked them. It gave me something to pad out the profile a little bit. I added what I should have had the presence of mind to think of the first time: that peace and quiet with no distractions, a no stress, no pressure environment, was essential.
We did meet, but it turned out to be a once and done thing, she stopped answering my messages. Oh well, I thought, I'm still doing better than just a few months ago, and there are more out there. I met the one from December again shortly afterward, and it was much less awkward the second time around.
In late February, I met a third woman from the sex sites, with minimal awkwardness for the first meeting and almost none afterward. While I was seeing her, I received a vindication of my type-no-bullshit strategy. She said in plain English that she had been a little uncertain at first, but my upfrontness and directness when talking to her had convinced her that I was worth a shot. Honesty is still the best policy, it seems. I saw her about once a week for over a month, but then she too did a disappearing act, for reasons known only to herself. After three messages went unanswered I went back to the list.
In early May, I met the one that I am still seeing regularly. We got along well enough that we have continued meeting once or twice a week for over half a year. This past summer, we agreed to see only each other, that plus a VD test made it possible to forgo the condoms. We sometimes get pizza or something but nothing much more than that. I consider this arrangement satisfactory for the foreseeable future, so I have shelved, for the time being at least, any plans of finding a regular girl friend.
This brings me to the present day. The LS is contained, and I aim to preserve the current arrangements as long as possible, and the sites are still there in the event that it becomes no longer possible. The LS is not beaten though, I still find it difficult to imagine approaching a total stranger IN REAL LIFE. The thought does not make me as nervous as it once did, but I still do not feel that I would be able to do so. To put it analogously, I might never walk, but the internet is my crutch.
So....good luck to any of my fellow LS who decides to try something like this. Even though most are probably looking for a regular girl friend, I would encourage them to go the sex-only route for a short time at least, the experience will be valuable, if nothing else. If it works, or not, for anyone else, please type it up!
If I can do it, anyone can.