Miss Information

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I've started doing hostile things to women. What's wrong with me?

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Dear Miss Information,

I've been in a strange kind of rut with women for the past four or five years, and I'm worried about how it's affecting my mind. It's not a dry spell — I've dated and slept with a few women during these difficult years. It's a kind of frustration that stems from being pretty socially clueless. Well, clueless about one aspect of socializing, anyway.

I've never been a "player" or a "ladies' man" — at age twenty-seven, I've had fewer than twenty sexual partners. I have never been very good at hitting on girls, but I'm lucky to be tall and fairly good-looking, and in college that was often all it took. Since then, I've had to try harder, and it's been a long, hard road since then. I've made so many embarrassing mistakes, suffered so many humiliating rejections, and chalked up a fair few abject failures. I try to meet women in lots of different places (work, school, bars/concerts, dating websites, singles events, etc); I've sought advice and guidance from many different sources (ranging from priests to parents to pickup artists); and, slowly but surely, my "game" is getting better. But the failure-to-success ratio is still really high.

It's been this way for years now, and it's so frustrating that I'm starting to feel like I hate women. Sometimes I'll pass girls' names while scrolling through my phone and mutter obscenities under my breath. Sometimes after a date or an effort to try chatting up a girl doesn't go well, I'll cruise dating websites saying hostile things out loud to the women on the screen. Lately, I've gone as far as actually sending rude messages to women on dating sites. That was the point where I had to ask myself if something's wrong with me. I mean, it's satisfying in a sick way to think how shocked and/or upset these women will be when they read what I think of their pictures or their interests, etc., but it also squarely in "not cool" territory.

Is it normal to feel this way? Should I get a therapist? I'm pretty uncomfortable by the thought of discussing all this without the anonymity of the internet and I figure if I can just keep working on this until I either meet a girl I really like who likes me back or get good enough at picking up chicks that the frustration lessens, my misogynistic thoughts will fade away. Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated.

— Frustrated Fred

Dear Frustrated Fred,

I first want to grant you diplomatic immunity. Yes, your actions are squarely in the "not cool" territory, and there is some real pain and mean-spiritedness to your language. But you're trying to get help, and that's the important part. Here's your flag, here's your motorcade, and please stay near to your embassy.

I bet you anything the reason you're having trouble "picking up chicks" is precisely because you think of it as "picking up chicks." A woman won't fix your frustrations, nor is it her responsibility to. There is a lot of relational baggage going on here. While you're feeling this kind of aggression, I highly doubt you'll be able to suppress it long enough to convince a woman that you regard her as an equal.

Look at it this way: have you ever had a waiter who clearly hated his job and, by extension, you? He might be all politeness, but there's no mistaking that rage. Or how about your friend's boozy mom who drinks to dull the pain of her dashed dreams? Right! Bummer. In both of these cases, you can read exactly the thing these people are wishing to suppress. The vast majority of us are incapable of hiding these sorts of things. Those of us who can are probably diagnosable as sociopaths.

So, good news! "Your darkest truths are nakedly on display." Thanks for reading, everyone. Kidding aside, I appreciate that you seem genuinely concerned and that you recognize that your thoughts are unbalanced. This seems squarely like an issue for a therapist. I understand it's hard to talk about in person, but therapists are trained to be shocked by nothing. You should also find that getting outside help will be validating — their job is to help you "heal," not to guilt you. A therapist won't berate you or tell you you're fucked up. A chick you're trying to pick up, though? That might be another story.