Seven years of relationship chaos

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-07-2013
Seven years of relationship chaos
Sat, 09-07-2013 - 3:15am

Hey, thanks for reading. I'm new here. You can call me M. I just had my 23rd birthday. I’m not going to cry myself to sleep or anything since I’m not the type, but it’s something in my life that’s bothering me significantly.

Here’s some background on me…6’3, 260 of muscle (ripped…literally, shredded). Most women would give me about an 8 in the looks department (but I’m African-American, so not everyone’s cup of tea in a culture of Westernized beauty). Pretty confident…some might say exceedingly so (but that’s never put anyone completely out of the running.) I’ve been on a “college tour” over the last few years, most recently at an elite liberal arts college in New England (I’m “taking time off” at the moment, I’ll just say.) So there is a lot that I need to work on in general. But with dating and relationships, it has just been one failure after another.

First serious relationship was at 19 with a girl my age. It was a great relationship, but her father and his racial intolerance were ultimately the main reasons why that fell through. I was cut off completely. To say it was devastating would be an understatement. Little over a year later started dating a 29 year-old. I liked her a lot, but for some reason could not muster up the sexual energy for her. That doomed us and put me in a position of, let’s just say, trying too hard to make it work. Then dated a 32 year-old. We hit it off well initially, but she felt I was coming on too strong and cut me out completely (I did not intend to send whatever vibes she got, seriously, but it harkened back to the earlier painful break-up). Dated another 32 year-old after that for about 3 months where I was basically jerked-around, back-and-forth, and treated like crap before I was discarded. Since then there have been some little things here and there, a few hook-ups on campus, but nothing substantive.

Two things bother me…1) I should have had a meaningful, long-term relationship by now and 2) I should have had a meaningful sexual relationship by now. The two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. Again…I’m not saying that I should have had perfection. But I think it’s unusual for someone my age to be so sexually inexperienced AND to have not had a real relationship. Basically, I feel pretty rejected and I also feel pretty angry. I’ve basically been resolved to a life of scanning dating sites, hoping something is going to workout somewhere along the way. Nothing ever does. I just feel like there is a brickwall. I haven’t had sexual intercourse since December of 2011. It’s like I’ve been cast into a cycle of want…the longer I go without, the more desperation sets in, and the more rejection I face, the further that desperation is driven. All of this engenders frustration. And I’ll just preempt some of you by saying I don’t think that it’s some arbitrary goal to have wanted more relationship and sexual experience by now, since the longer you go without these things in life the more difficult interpersonal relationships become when you do get there. Sexuality is an important part of sustaining relationships, especially marriages, and when that's lacking it can be problematic.

I was complaining about similar things at 16. Now I’m 23. What’s next, I’m going to be 30 ing about this still? Then 37? Again, I am really angry because I don’t understand what it is that’s wrong with me or why I’m 23 having to about what are essentially teenage problems. I feel like I'm a normal guy...maybe I am deluding myself, but I really do. I just feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to find an attractive, consenting adult woman who would like to have sex with me and that perhaps it shouldn’t be so hard either to find a consenting adult woman who’d like to get to know me in a deeper way, one that may or may not lead to a relationship. I don’t think I’m entitled to someone, but I feel like I’m an interesting, decent, and affable enough individual to where I should probably be able to have normal experiences. Where I’m at by this age, statistically speaking, is abnormal. Frankly, I’m sick of posting ads of Craigslist and profiles on OKCupid and POF to having to constantly go through the same BS. The more this frustration builds, the harder it makes things when I actually come to the point of dating someone since negative ideas are associated with these experiences.

Okay. That’s off my chest. Thanks for putting up with me. Now, for your honest opinions.



iVillage Member
Registered: 02-25-2013
Sat, 09-07-2013 - 8:41am

Don't beat yourself up about having no serious relationship by the age of 23. The human brain isn't even fully mature until age 24 or 25, and people who get married before this age, end up with a 75% divorce rate. You don't even fully know yourself by this age, so how do you expect to choose an appropriate lifetime partner without extensive life experience? Don't think of your past as a failure. Think of it as a learning experience. You've learned who is not right for you. My first piece of advice is to get back into college. Many people meet their future spouse there, as you're probably majoring in the same thing and so have the same career interest. It's also a great way to be around people your age who are more likely to have a good future, since college educated people usually make 4 times more than non-college educated people.

Take up a hobby that really interests you. You will meet others who share that interest. Make a must haves and dealbreakers list of what you want in a relationship. If a woman lacks any must haves and possesses any dealbreakers, cut them loose and move on. You say that one woman said you came on too strong. If that means you wanted to get serious right away, slow down. Take a wait and see attitude. Take it day by day and see if the both of you are on the same page in all of the major ways. Try You click on your city and see what activity groups are meeting in your area. It's less stressful than online dating. Think of it as normal to have to date a lot before finding "the one." How realistic would it be that the first person you date will match you in all of your life goals, chemistry, sexual compatibility, etc? You usually have to date many people before you find someone who matches you in all of the major ways. Good luck.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 09-07-2013 - 12:47pm

Dear M;

You really have to relax about this because your manner of thinking is self defeating.  You're thinking "I'm 23, it should have happened by now" where I'm thinking (since I'm middle aged) "you're only 23--you have plenty of time."    I have a beautiful 24 yr old DD, college grad, good job, very popular with people.  She never had a BF in high school--I just could not figure this one out at all.  You know mosthigh school boys go for looks and she was cute and not fat and had a lot of friends, was involved in all the social activities, so I don't know why that happened.  In college, she had a short relationship w/ one guy who seemed to want the sex but not the title of BF & GF so she dropped him.  She did have one relationship that started in her senior year and lasted 2 yrs but after she graduated it was difficult because he lived in the college town 2 hrs away and then she got a job out of state so they just coudln't keep up long distance.  So there is nothing wrong with her but she hasn't met the perfect guy for her yet either & I can say this is true for most of her friends.

I think if you give off this sign of desperation like "I need to find someone right now", first of all you'll probably come on too strong & be too clingy, which will turn women off.  There really is no time deadline for this.  I had one serious relationship when I was in my early 20's but I didn't meet my (ex)H until I was 25.  Most 23 yr old men aren't ready to settle down & get married anyway.  I think the best way to meet people is to go about your normal life & look for women who are interested in things you are interested in so you can meet them naturally & become friends.  I think the fact that you were dating women older than you means that you're less likely to make that a successful relationship--age differences are more important when you are young than when you are older.  A woman who is around 30 is ready for marriage and it's unlikely she's going to want to marry a 20 yr old.  Look for someone closer to your own age.  I agree that college or shared activities are great ways to meet someone.  And OLD is too cause there are probably more young people on there, but look for someone who has the characteristics that you want.

I also have to say that if you want a meaningful sexual relationship, try to get the meaningful personal relationship first.  I know that hooking up/casual sex happens often with people in your age group and I'm not saying that it is never good, but there's a huge difference between having sex with a random person and with someone you're in love with.  Maybe things are different for men and it seems like they can separate emotions from sex better than women can, but I'd bet it's still different.  Concentrate on getting to know someone.  Women don't want to feel like they are being used by a guy for sex and then they will never see him again.  If you actually try getting to know someone for a few dates (at least) first, the woman will be so surprised by your being a gentleman that it will probably make things much better in the sexual area.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-07-2013
Sat, 09-07-2013 - 7:46pm
Thanks for your response. I think where I went wrong with this posting is that I used the word "meaningful." Which might be sending the wrong message. I'm not looking for a soulmate, I'm not looking for someone to take romantic long walks on the beach with, I'm not looking for someone who's trying to get hitched. That's not my intent at all. Basically I just think it'd be nice to know someone who's down for hanging out, getting acquainted, and maybe having some sexual relations if we're both cool with it. All-in-all, I don't think it's that much to hope for. As far as the situation with the woman who said I came on too are some facts. 1) I maybe called her twice, 2) did not initiate text/FB conversations any more frequently than she did, may have done it less so, 3) I didn't really do anything crazy or abnormal. Two things I did...when we made out on a date, I 1) said that it was something I normally didn't do and 2) while we were texting at one point, I said I "missed" her and that I "adored" her. retrospect, I can see how that might be a little much, but at the moment I honestly thought I was just being smooth. And what's ironic is that I thought SHE had seemed too interested in me before she dropped that she was "uncomfortable." That, however, put me in a situation where I was trying to fix things and patch things up...and, as you may know, sometimes trying to fix things just makes them worse. So I'm not looking for anything serious and I'm not the type who really gives of those vibes, at least from where I stand.
iVillage Member
Registered: 09-07-2013
Sat, 09-07-2013 - 8:24pm
Again, I think I'm giving off the wrong vibe here. As I explained in my post to Safire1023, I'm not after something serious. "Meaningful" was the wrong word. I don't date women thinking, "well, this is going to be the one!" or with some sort of conniving scheme on how I have to catch them and drag them to the altar. I think I approach dating with a level-head. I don't overdo contact, I don't give off physical signals that are too strong, if I'm dating other women I make sure to mention or hint at that. I emphasize early on that I don't rush into things...and, you know, I really don't. Mostly that's because I, like most people, like to take time in getting to know people. I've been in situations where I dated women who wanted to move too fast, and where I felt uncomfortable and compelled to move on because of it. So I don't want everyone to get this impression that I'm this desperate, clingy but who just can't control himself because I don't think that'd be accurate. I think this is part of what's messing with me. I know it's one thing to have an objective standpoint, but I really don't feel like I'm someone who behaves abnormally or in a peculiar manner. I think a big problem I'm having is meeting women, especially when I'm trying to meet women online. Online dating is a s***show. I don't think it works that well (and this is coming from someone who has had more "success" than most men doing it.) Conversely, I also don't feel like I give off the "just want sex" vibe, although I think women might sometimes look at a man like me and make that assumption. I just feel like getting yourself across to a woman is about trying to strike some balance...can't be too much after sex, can't be too much after a relationship, can't be too this, can't be too that. Women are very picky when it comes to dating, and part of that is biological, but you wonder how much of that behavior is anachronistic for a society like ours.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 12:36am

You seem to have very strong opinions about what "should be"!  You're 23, and you have HAD meaningful relationships, and they didn't work out.  That's par for the course.  Most people start dating in high school, and go thru a few partners, even some "long term" ones.  You were dating older women.......why?  Looking for the "experience" you think you should have had?  Are you looking at women as hard as you look at yourself?  You seem to think you have a lot to offer......maybe you do, but if you come off as "here I am you lucky woman" you're not going to impress many women.  As another poster said, instead of looking for a woman to have a "relationship" with......(it sounds like what you really want is a sex partner, or call it a relationship if that makes you happy) then get yourself involved with people at school, people in the same classes or on the same path. There are also social clubs with various interests......find one you're interested in, and look for friends, not relationships.......that's how most relationships start, from friendships. 

As far as what's "supposed" to be at your age.......there aren't any rules.  Some people are married at 18, some don't find the right one until they're 30.  When you find the right person, you'll have that relationship.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 10:51am

23 isn't over the hill, you know.  I'm a lot older than you and nowdays think no one should get married until at least 25-27, until they have some clue who they really are.  Look what you're doing - kicking yourself, and for what?  I think many things happen when they are supposed to happen.  A woman 9 years older than you likely has some experience and may be interested in you initially for the very reason you are so much younger - insecure women at that age could easily think wow, I have this much younger hot hunk after me, what a boon to my ego.  (Same for men, I'm sure, judging by how many ditch partners in favor of a much younger woman.)  What's wrong with being 23 and playing the field?  Can you just relax and enjoy what's there instead of agonizing over not having a more long-term relationship going?  You are so young, quit beating up on yourself because this particular arrangement hasn't yet come along - where's the fire?  In a few years on you and added maturity along with it, you might find yourself interested in a completely different type of woman.  Now is the time to just enjoy your freedom and grow up.  At 23 I'm not even sure I knew what I wanted out of life, and by then I was already married - don't do it in that order, do it the other way around, it'll work a lot better.  I don't think it's necessarily true the longer you go without the tougher it will be when you get there.  It could be the more terrific it might be instead.  But Craigslist?  Did you not hear about the Craigslist killer?  Uhmmm....he apparently was quite good at getting them interested via Craigslist, and then they end up dead.  You need to find a new avenue to meeting women, it's a rough world out there.  Know how frantic some couples get when after years they can't conceive that baby?  They finally learn to relax  and many are saying "voila - baby on the way".  Good things do come to those who wait.  Don't get so anxious about this, anxiety makes us look desperate, and deseprate isn't attractive to many of us.  Just relax, be yourself, and put yourself where you may just meet some nice women.  Hint:  I learned years ago lots of women nowdays see big old car shows as great places to meet guys, so many of the guys there go SOLO.  But relax, things come along when you least expect it.  If you get totally insane to get married, you might find yourself marrying whoever will say yes.  Ditto for relationships without marriage.  You're 23 - enjoy being 23 and stop obsessing.  Been there, done that, not a pretty picture. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-09-2008
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 10:55am

I like your thinking - I have ALWAYS felt the very best relationships/marriages are between close  friends. 


Avatar for slah54
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-04-2012
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 11:04am

I agree about being friends first.  I was friends with my husband for years before we started seeing each other.  And here we are, married 30 years and still best friends.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-04-2006
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 12:33pm

Hello "M".

I have three perspectives. 

One is my own son, who will be 23 next month. He is a college graduate, bi-lingual (English and Japanese) and is a tall, attractive young man.  He's even smart AND a nice guy with a great future ahead of him.  And he isn't dating.  He hasn't had a girlfriend since the summer after his senior year of high school!  But it doesn't bother him at all.  He is so busy working, going places with a large group of friends, and figuring out what he wants to do for a career that he doesn't feel the lack...or maybe he doesn't feel like there's a lack!  He told me he doesn't even want to consider getting married until he's thirty, and until then he keeps busy with friends.  Through his friends he's met a lot of great young women, so now it's at the point where he can decide if he wants to date any of them. And if not, he's going to keep doing all the things he has been.

Another perspective is a co-worker's daughter.  She's a great girl, cute as a bug, attending college, working two jobs and active in gymnastics.  And she does NOT want a boyfriend!  She has so much going on and is having so much fun with all her activities that she feels a boyfriend would interfere!  She says, what's the hurry, I have a lot to accomplish first before I can even think about a guy!

Finally, my own experience.  I was pushed into getting married when I was 22 (I was given an ultimatum...he told me, marry me or I'm leaving you).  To make a very long story short, we divorced after 12 years of marriage during which I was chomping at the bit because I wanted to live the single lifestyle and couldn't!

I tell my son, get out there and do all the things you can NOW, while you have no ties and no one whining at you about how you never spend time with her and when are we getting married?????  He plans to travel, maybe take a job in New York or Japan or Hong Kong or Luxembourg...wherever!  And he can, because he hasn't tied himself down.


Instead of worrying about not having a girlfriend or sex partner, how about living life?  Your life CAN begin now, you don't have to wait until you have a female involved with you.  It just seems to me to be such a waste of time, when there are so many things you could be doing now, while you still can.  Trust me, you don't want to wake up 65 years old wishing you'd traveled or had experiences while you had the chance instead of spending so much time and energy trying to find a female to attach yourself to.

Avatar for xxxs
Community Leader
Registered: 01-25-2010
Mon, 09-09-2013 - 2:27am

 There is nothing wrong with just living & growing.  You will need a career that allows you to grow.  Obtaining financial acumen and using it wisely.  You do not need to have a GF.   There are downsides to having a FWB too.   You get lazy.  You do not extend any effort to make new friends.     There is also choosing high quality women.   Educated, ambitious, intelligent,attactive,adaptive are some of the more important qualities.   And more likly to enjoy a FWB relationship.   Class also plays a very big part.    FWB's (Friend(s) With Benefits are more the province of upper middle class women.  But you need to know the rules.   
   Sex is a lot of fun and you can learn a lot but be careful.  Some women are not honest.  Nor are taking birth control.(even though they say they are). You might find a tantric partner and learn advanced sexual, emotional techniquees .  Then there are books The Perfumed Garden By Sir Richard Burton, The Anaga Ranga, The complete Kama Sutra byAlain Daniélou,(this is the real Kama sutra and will take some time to digest).      If you become an interesting man, interesting women will find you.   Nobody is 100% trustworthy,nobody.  There will always be that narrow passage.

"At the narrow passage, there is no brother and no friend."