Gaining independence and confidence

Hello everyone. I am one of the “late bloomers” interviewed for this project, and I would like to post a brief version of my story to give hope to other readers out there. If I can become a late bloomer, anyone can.

A short background – I had a very difficult childhood. My parents were abusive: beatings, neglect, arbitrary punishments, mental cruelty, and social isolation were the norm. My classmates saw me as a runt and a freak to be bullied and rejected, and my teachers saw me only as a problem student to be controlled rather than helped.

I reached adulthood with few hobbies, few life skills, fewer social skills, no ability to relate to my peers on any level, and a peculiar knack for making people dislike me after a short interaction. I desperately wanted a normal life, including friends and a girlfriend, but this seemed unattainable. Partly from a desire to take control of my own life, partly to spite my parents, but most of all to not be that one person among thousands who couldn’t get laid in college, I turned down offers and scholarships from multiple colleges and set for myself an attainable goal: a job, and with it my independence. Almost four years after finishing high school, I had it. I estranged myself from my parents immediately.

By this time, I had started to think I would probably never find a girlfriend. It came as a complete surprise when I did, at age 23, by random chance rather than any deliberate action. This lasted about a year and a half, but when it ended, I was better off for the experience but otherwise back where I started. It might be a long time before random chance favored me again. Three more years passed before I could muster the courage for any deliberate action.

By that time, I had, to some degree at least, caught up in useful real-life skills and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and what I could compromise on and what I couldn’t. I was cautiously optimistic when I tried using internet dating sites. I met several women from them. Some were incompatible but one eventually became the next girlfriend. I’ve been with her for 11 years.

So, in the spirit of keeping it positive, here are my recommendations for breaking out of involuntary celibacy…

  • Take control of your own life if you don’t have it. If you don’t want to follow the path your parents intended for you, don’t. A feeling that you are acting and not just reacting can help give you the confidence to act further.
  • Value your independence, both financial and functional. The person who always needs money, rides, or favors is looked down upon by others and often passed over by potential partners.
  • Learn from your mistakes (you will likely make plenty of them early on).
  • Balance your budget and stay out of trouble.
  • Don’t miss chances to learn new things or new skills. Even if they have no immediate effect on finding a partner, they may still be indirectly useful in terms of independence and confidence, and of course useful for their own sake.
  • Throw away your preconceived notions about what traits your future partner will have. You might be unknowingly passing over a good match just by thinking about the probability that your future partner would have a different job, look, personality, age, etc. than the person in front of you.
  • Know what you can compromise on, and what you can’t, and act accordingly. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
  • Don’t pass up something short term, just so long as you know when to get out of it. Any experience is better than none.

Good luck!

Dennis

An Everyman living in an Anytown in the American Midwest

This Post Has One Comment

  1. I’m having trouble with two statements. The first is the value of independence. I know that for some, asking for favors may be a sign of weakness, but if people come to me asking for reasonable favors, I feel like it’s a compliment that I they value me enough to give me the opportunity to extend kindness. I don’t look down on the people who ask me for favors, and if they are friendly with me I hope that they will extend the same kindness as I did for them. The second one is the not having preconceived notions. It’s human nature to have conceptual ideas of what their ideal “happy place” is, and people also have their ideal version of who they want as their partner. Completely dismissing that ideal is problematic because you have no basis on where to start looking for a person that is compatible with you. I understand the need to be able to compromise, but having no standards at all could lead to a relationship that can become extremely toxic. I’m having difficultly getting to where you are, and I know that unless i am able to make the necessary changes to my life, I will remain stuck where I am romantically and sexually. I am just not sure if all the lessons you took away from your experiences can apply to people who are having difficult finding romantic and intimate partners.

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