The Relationship Virgin

LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS (PART 8): THE RELATIONSHIP VIRGIN

Please read Love and Relationships (Part 6): Finding the Right Person to help clarify some of the terms. Remember from Part 6 that the Relationship Virgin is: “a person [who] is so cautious of all the bad relationships they’ve gathered from sources other than themselves, that they have accumulated a list of exactly what they want in a mate and what they don’t want in a mate. They usually create an unobtainable perfect mate in their minds, and are scared away from ever beginning a meaningful relationship with anyone or they think no one is ever good enough to begin a relationship with in the first place…I don’t mean these people are physically virgins, but that they are too cautious with their love lives.”

The Relationship Virgin doesn’t quite need to make their ideal mate list if they haven’t already. He or she often over thinks and researches their knowledge of love and relationships through everything but themselves, such as friends, family, books, movies, magazines, internet, etc. And they’ll accumulate so much knowledge without the actual personal experience to back anything up that it becomes very convoluted in their minds about their love lives. This often comes with the Relationship Virgin having listed everything they want in their perfect mate, often so perfect, it is a bit unrealistic for them to ever meet them during their first attempts in the dating world.

You’ll often find many pre-teens in this category, usually females, though most of them get out of that mindset when they start dating different people and start refining their wants in their mates. On the other hand, I’ve known some who never get past that phase who go into their early twenties (or later, as The Forty Year Old Virgin would have us believe) with the same mindset, never having quite had any personal experiences to help refine their lists. In this early-twenties age range and beyond, the Relationship Virgin come in two different extremes, too, though most of Relationship Virgins I’ve observed usually lie somewhere in between both.

On one side is the Awkward Intellectual, who tries to reason their advances into the dating world and over-intellectualize everything so that they become very awkward in social settings and have trouble finding mates or even friends.

On the other end is the Stubborn Independent, who consciously or subconsciously believes they can’t get their ideal mate, so they believe their best course of action is to not date at all, often saying they’re not looking for anyone at the moment.

This isn’t to say that either the Awkward Intellectual or the Stubborn Independent are bad in any way, for most of my friends who fall somewhere between these categories, are some of the most interesting individuals I know. And they probably are so interesting because they’ve been so independent.

It’s not a bad thing to want to be independent either, or to be intellectual in the way you approach your goals, but I’ve noticed that many a Relationship Virgin, no matter where they lie in the spectrum often think relationships wouldn’t add that much to their lives, and they probably think this because they have such trouble finding a suitable mate.

Advice for Relationship Virgins

The solution here for the Relationship Virgin is to reanalyze any lists he or she may have about their ideal mate, and then re-substantiate their list with personal experiences, and cutting out the stuff that wasn’t personally experienced.

And if you don’t have a physically written list yet, write it out, I’m most certain that you have one in your head somewhere already, and you’ve been adding to it for many years. Then for each point on the list, draw it back to where you may have first been drawn to this point. Then determine if it’s something you actually experienced yourself, was this a trait your parents showed you and you know exactly what it feels like to experience it and appreciate it? Or was it something you gleaned from a friend, relative, book, magazine, or movie, where you learned some lesson that the source was able to share with you and you didn’t really experience it for yourself?

I’m not saying it’s bad to take advice from sources other than yourself, but you really have to evaluate what kind of lesson you’re grabbing from it. If a friend of yours is not particularly great at keeping meaningful relationships and shares all their dating secrets with you, don’t take everything they say to heart, especially if you haven’t experienced the same things as they have. Whatever proves to be useful for them in their dating realm and whatever proves to be a meaningful relationship for them is not necessarily going to mean a successful dating secret or meaningful relationship for you.

But your friend has had so much more experience at dating than you have, and they must have some useful information for you to use, right? Not necessarily. The only person who can determine the right way to find their ideal mate is you, and perhaps you don’t have much experience in it so you don’t have any secrets to the dating world, but that’s easily fixed with a few attempts at the dating world yourself.

The reason why so many people have so many tips for lesser experienced daters is because of people being too scared to even try. So even a person who is a very bad dater who may very well be a Clueless Lover and have no idea how to really find a meaningful relationship will have tons of experience to back their dating tips and share it with anyone who has less experience. But is this really the source you want to base your love life off of? Wouldn’t you rather be more independent and figure out the right way to find your ideal mate through your own smarts and trials and errors?

I know, it’s hard if you haven’t had any experience and there are those who want to share theirs with you, and there’s nothing wrong with taking their advice, as long as you’re smart about it. But if you’ve found that even after taking their advice, or being too afraid to take their advice, you’ve really not gotten far in the dating world, maybe its time to step up to the plate and try a few attempts of your own. You’re not that clueless, you’ve been single thus far, and you’ve done a lot already, there’s no reason why the dating world should be any different than anything else you’ve already tried and succeeded in.

I was very much a Relationship Virgin myself, but one of the first things I learned in my relationship was realizing that all my accumulated lists of things that I thought I wanted in a mate were really moot. They weren’t truly substantiated, and they were compiled from mostly movies and magazines I’d encountered.

But the stuff that stayed on my list was all stuff that I had truly personally experienced with my friends and relatives. Some of that changed as I better understood myself and others, but those points never left my list. And at first I thought I was lucky that my mate ended up having many of the points which I knew I wanted, and then many points which I didn’t even know I wanted, but I later came to realize that what I really was lucky in was not that I found my particular mate, but that I decided to commit to the relationship and throw my Relationship Virgin worries to the wind.

If it turned out that my mate and I weren’t meant to stay in a lasting relationship, the experiences I personally experience in the relationship will prove so valuable in my search for my next relationship (if I so choose to find another one), that I would not be scared to revert back to a Relationship Virgin. And that’s simply because I have the experience to back up what I want, and know that I’m not deluding myself with the impossible-to-find perfect mate.

Of course, that’s not to say I wouldn’t be very disappointed and sad to break up. After having learned so much in the short six years we’ve been together, I would be very saddened thinking what I would miss learning in the years to come without my mate sharing it with me.

Advice the Awkward Intellectual

So what if you’re an extreme Awkward Intellectual and you just can’t seem to meet anyone? Practice. I was extremely awkward as a kid, and that stayed with me throughout school, and even now I sometimes feel that social awkwardness tendency when I’m in new and unfamiliar surroundings. But I overcame that by practicing. And I had some pretty embarrassing moments trying to practice, but with each embarrassing moment, I learned more and I became less and less socially awkward. And practicing this is doing anything that you feel socially afraid of doing, may it be asking someone out, or even just talking to some people you’re acquaintances with but don’t really know as friends.

There’s no one way to do it right, you just have to find your own way, and you won’t find that way until you try and practice. And it doesn’t even matter if you fail, you succeeded in the fact that you were able to do it. A failed encounter means nothing in the long run. But even a lucky encounter may mean a lifetime of lasting meaningful relationship(s), whether that be a lover or a friend. So why not just go for it and keep trying different tactics.

I used this tactic during job interviews. It was very excruciating at first as I felt I was horrible at interviewing, but after many failed interviews, I eventually landed a few good interviews and got a job. Then I had to deal with a bunch of co-workers, strangers whom I had nothing much in common with. But I tried different ways of talking with them and I eventually got really good at making small talk (something I was absolutely not gifted with at all before) and even making phone calls (don’t even get me started on how awkward I used to be in this field!). And if I can do it, anyone can do it. At first, it won’t be easy for most people, but if you keep trying, you’ll get good at it, there’s no way to fail except if you don’t try at all.

Advice for the Stubborn Independents

Alright, so what if you’re not socially awkward and that’s not holding you back from a relationship. You’d just rather be independent is all. Sure, many Stubborn Independents make many reasons for not being in the dating world. And I’m sure many of them have good reasons for it. I won’t list them, I’m sure you have many of them to justify your single status.

But hear me out on this one point. Have you ever considered what you may be not gaining by staying single? This isn’t to say that you can only gain positive experiences by being with someone, but you surely do gain huge amounts of experience by simply dating someone who is totally not right for you (and think of what you’d learn from someone who is actually compatible with you!). You certainly can’t deny that having to deal with someone else most certainly ups the experience you will get than simply being alone.

I know a lot of Stubborn Independents who never even dabbled in dating, and they proclaim to me that they aren’t looking for anyone at the moment. To which, I think, if they really knew what they could gain from even a failed relationship (let alone a good one), they wouldn’t really say that. Why would you postpone the chance of finding a great companion who may prove to be the love of your life and be the one who helps you grow into a better person?

Sure, there may be some bad dates and you may feel like there is no one who will ever mesh with you, but if you postpone your search or never even look, what will you really gain from it? More time to learn stuff of yourself?

I’ve learned more stuff being in a relationship than being out of one. And I continue to learn more of myself everyday. And if someday I decide that I need to be on my own to learn more of myself, I can make that decision, but isn’t it better for me to do that after knowing the flip side of being single and being able to make that decision with the experience to back it up?

I think someone who’s been in relationships can make that decision better than someone who hasn’t properly experienced both sides yet. You wouldn’t say that your favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla if that’s the only flavor you’ve ever tried, right? You’d have to first experience chocolate and strawberry and rocky road and maybe even sherbet and frozen yogurt before you could really make that decision. I’m not knocking being single, it may be the best status for many people, but don’t throw out the possibility of being in a relationship (meaningful or not) until you’ve tried it!

POSTS IN THIS SERIES:

Love and Relationships (Part 1): An Introduction

Love and Relationships (Part 2): The Phases Leading to a Meaningful Relationship

Love and Relationships (Part 3): Communication

Love and Relationships (Part 4): Independence vs. Relationships

Love and Relationships (Part 5): The Couple’s Accountability System

Love and Relationships (Part 6): Finding the Right Person

Love and Relationships (Part 7): The Clueless Lover

Love and Relationships (Part 8): The Relationships Virgin

Love and Relationships (Part 9): Don’t Give Up!

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