It actually is a bit of a shame that this blog, much like my entire life at the moment, is under the specter of homelessness and/or economic despair despite still having my city job (month 9 out of 12 of probation is in the can). Not just because of homelessness being bad, but because I had a genuinely interesting development related to this blog’s topic develop more or less ever since my last installment was posted in July. In fact, in many ways it dovetails with a segment from 2016. It’s always good when this blog has some sense of narrative flow, especially since it is totally unintentional.
Rather than summarize that last installment, I’ll just get to the gist. In addition to being a hapless older male virgin, I also have a sexual fetish. Quite what it is I shall never reveal. Should anyone even guess it, I would deny it or decline to comment. Suffice it to say, it’s nothing illegal and it, like many of my “darkest desires,” is probably tamer than the average prime time TV show. It was something which developed alongside my sexual development during puberty. I likely feel certain degrees of shame around it, and perhaps this helps fuel a lot of my romantic shyness and anxiety. After all, a virgin in his 30’s is weird and bizarre enough; reveal he has a fetish too and suddenly it risks being seen as a creep. “Oh, so that’s why no woman will touch you! You’re a pervert!” I imagine the hordes screaming. It’s bad enough being seen as a potential mass shooter in waiting.
Ever since the Internet became a part of my daily life in college, I’ve sought to dip my toe into exploring it in the usual way I explore things. I use an online alias to keep my identity a mystery, and I separate it from my “everyday” life and identity as much as I can. I’m a man behind a mask, but I wear more than one mask. Perhaps the way I compartmentalize everything in my life is another quirk or problem. My “real friends” are here, my “work associates” are here, my love life is in a box over there, and the fetish trunk is off to the side. Never the twain shall meet, yet they’re all elements of who I am. Maybe it doesn’t get easier to explore or move forward in any one direction when I am already split up in several. Yet on the rare chances there is a risk of overlap, I found it very disconcerting at best, and nerve wracking at worst. The world is complicated, and my life has been a chaotic mix of poverty and tenacity, so I try to inject as much order and purpose as possible. Even where none may be possible.
At any rate, in this other “community” I am one of countless people behind a fake name and an avatar image on a screen. And I interact with people, yet my interactions are far more limited than my efforts here, or over at Doctor Nerdlove’s spare forum. At some point at pure random another user — a much younger woman — has reached out to me in private messages. Quite why she chose me I have no idea, but we got to talking and now we essentially role play our fetishes via instant message texts and shared imagination. It is sort of like CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE with a partner.
To say this is a bizarre situation is to put it mildly. Before we began, fearing some sort of set up or misunderstanding, I insisted that she acknowledge being at least 18 or over in text (which I saved). The last thing I wanted to do is stumble into a pedophile’s trap. And while this does revolve around a fetish, none of our actual roleplays themselves are strictly erotic. It isn’t like what used to be known as “cyber,” where two people online basically describe having sex with each other via text. In fact, while if looked at objectively, the fetish would be obvious, the material is little different than a lot of pop fiction which is rated PG or so. It’s content which may check off the fetish boxes for those who share it, but to outsiders is hardly what any would consider pornographic. No mention of genitals, and our “characters” never take off clothes in our “adventures.”
I’ve engaged in message board role playing as part of my daily routine since 2002. Yet much of this until now has been centered around the universes within comic books or anime that I like, or games created by some of my friends. It’s an extension of the tabletop RPG’s my friends and I played in high school (character sheets, dice and all). I’ve interacted with players much younger than me before as part of this, and this hasn’t been a problem for the most part. Yet this is something quite different. Much as people who know me as the Dateless-Man know me first and foremost because of my shameful secret, this is someone who knows me first and foremost because of a shared fetish. It’s the first detail which we knew we had in common, and the rest is extended from that.
Yet because of my own woeful inexperience and my segmenting of aspects of my life, she has become the first woman in my entire life who has interacted with me regarding a topic which at least vaguely sexual. And not just sexual, but a part of my sexual identity which I both acknowledge and consider taboo. In this small, baby step way, I have met someone who approves of and wants to interact with at least one aspect of my romantic self, albeit in text, across vast differences (since she lives in Europe), and in a format which is far tamer than I am making it seem.
Part of this is difficult. Because she is quite a bit younger than I (a college freshman), I am very careful with my responses outside of the roleplay. I do not want to scare her off or appear mean. On the other hand, I do not want to lead her on or make this into more than it is. The other part of this is that she’s quite…enthusiastic about certain things. “Out of character” she flirts and offers compliments (i.e. it isn’t rare for her to call me “handsome” even though she has no idea what I look like). Because I have a vivid imagination and a clever grasp of wordplay (as well as a quick wit, it seems), I have somehow emerged as near the peak of those she has roleplayed this stuff with — at least so she claims. We collaborate a little on the basic premise of whatever roleplay she wants and then I essentially come up with all the details, including character dialogue, virtually on the fly. Somehow she sees this as magic, or above average. She has called me “awesome” many times, for instance. I assume a lot of this is due to her own inexperience compared to my experience. I’ve had years to practice how to write, after all. I’m a college graduate and I have been both role playing online and writing in general a long time. And then she has escalated to the point where, on her own volition, she sent me pictures of herself. They’re standard Facebook style picture, nothing suggestive or anything, but they were still unprompted and I do worry she is maybe making more of this than I want to. So I play a bit of a game where I want to give positive responses while also being vague on details and I wonder if this is better or worse than just going, “Look, I am thirty-[BLANK] years old and while the RP’s are fun it isn’t developing into anything more.”
Yet on the other hand, I know what it is like to be weird and lonely. I suppose by now I should come up with a patented nickname for her, so I’ll go with “Ellie”. From how she describes things, men her age where she is don’t appreciate “geeky” girls. And our forum is one revolving around a fetish, which most people keep under wraps. I’m not the first person she’s RP’d like this before (she’s implied she’s done this with at least two others, whether currently or in the past is unknown). She does blur the line between her “character” and her sometimes, perhaps in the similar way that I go online and only talk about my fretting about being a crusty old virgin as “the Dateless-Man (TM)”. While she teases about meeting up and cosplaying, the distance makes that doubtful. Nor would I engage her if it got to that level. She is simply too young.
This interaction with Ellie reminded me a bit of some of the advice I have been given over the years. More than one person, including one of our regular commentors, suggested I go after younger women rather than ones my age or older more or less for this reason. That their inexperience matched with their current development phase (often still in the “fooling around/exploring stuff for the sake of exploration” age) means they may be more down with stumbling upon an old unicorn like me rather than a woman who is 30+ with a kid and two jobs. Yet to me that feels awkward at best, and taking advantage of naivety at worst, and I do not like to take advantage of people deliberately.
A part of me wonders just how “awesome” Ellie would think I am if she knew I was a 30+ year old virgin who still lived with my mother who was THIS CLOSE to becoming homeless. I only seem clever or sophisticated because I have better text wordplay and imagination than the mostly teenage dudes she’s been used to — go me, I can outwit men half my age (or more). It’s easy to pretend to be suave or charming via the written word; you have all the time in the world to come up with the perfect line, and can look at your own archives in black and white to think about each subsequent response. Whereas the real life experience is far less eloquent or elegant. It’s a conditional and temporary phase, one which she or others in her situation may one day regret doing if things go too far. While I would never, say, search for people this young were I to make a serious go on OkCupid again, it isn’t impossible for me to stumble upon someone age 21 in a bar. The last speed dating event I want to at a comic convention was full of women who were, at best, a day over 21. And while over 18 is over the age of consent, does that entirely mean someone aged 18-21 or so is incapable of offering it? Is it wrong of me to deny someone autonomy if it just sort of happened? Is is wrong to be that “cool older guy” even if I know objectively it’s a phase? Where does the line between taking advantage and capitalizing begin? Sure, ideally I shouldn’t even consider dating anyone under 25-26 under the “half your age plus 8” rule, and even that’s awfully young. Yet am I once again overthinking even theoretical stuff just to stay miserable? If a gal wanted to add “witty older virgin” to her Pokemon badge vest, is it being controlling to insist that I know better?
There are parts of this, while still in the realm of not being pornographic or seductive, that I wonder might end up being good practice or showcase what sort of lover I could be. Being that these are role plays based heavily around a fetish, I have an idea of what she likes (especially since in our planning sessions she’s more or less told me in so many words). There is one aspect or angle that isn’t quite my bag, but I am willing to compromise about in small ways within the shared narrative because I know she likes it. Plus, my years of running less kinky role plays has taught me that it isn’t about being a parasite, but a give and take. A “player” is willing to have more fun and stick around if I give them what they want sometimes, rather than be inflexible or make it all about myself. And adapting to a narrative curve-ball in a session is kind of fun. And when they have fun, I have fun, because it is a shared experience.
Perhaps most importantly was showcasing my ability to compromise in the “fetish sessions” with one instance where I crossed a line. Without knowing it I had written some angle which to Ellie went a little too far. Again, this is nothing pornographic or involves genitalia, but the sort of unique quirks and tropes of our fetish. I stumbled into a bit which wasn’t her bag, completely innocently. Ellie made it very clear this was too far and basically asked me to redo it. And did I get defensive and obstinate? At best I plead my case for one line before capitulating. It’s the overall session which matters, and us being comfortable. Ellie not liking it was enough, and ultimately it was hardly a big deal, especially in the imaginary world of text role playing. Yet I hear in the world of real sex and romance, being able to be flexible and adaptable with shared interests and making a well intended err are good qualities. To me they’re just automatic reflexes.
In another post about temptation from 2015, I wondered how I would react upon hearing certain things. While I have been complimented by women before, even by those I was or could have been romantically interested in, this seems different. Perhaps because Ellie is part of a world which I and many others lock in boxes and don’t share with the world out of fear. Or at least perhaps because I do. The very idea that someone could know this one detail about me and still consider me “awesome” is kind of flattering. It is absolutely rare when I feel that emotion around women, or anything that hinted at something kinky or risque. I usually feel invisible at best and like a freak at worst around women, or situations which even tease with being romantic or kinky.
At least until I remember the reality. This is a young woman who is a world away, who is too young to realize how lame I am, and who I am a different cohort to. Our interactions are fun, but ultimately the sort of online baby steps of exploration that most people in their 20’s or so have long since moved past. Ellie is right on track in her development, while I am akin to a gnome under a bridge that time forgot. I may be a nice gnome, and we may have a good visit for a time, but ultimately this is a fleeting experience. Ellie has the world ahead of her, of which I am a very small part. I don’t mind having been part of a positive experience for someone else, especially a geeky kid who feels peers can’t relate. But on the other hand, I know of the limitations, and that my own development has forever been stunted.
Perhaps something constructive could have been learned from this. Perhaps my failure in online dating in college was not due to me being terrible, but the fact that I barely gave it full gusto, and that my writing skills have had over 11 years to develop. Maybe there is a way to capitalize on this in text, with people my own age. And even if I failed, maybe I would improve over time. But what then? What if I wooed someone with wordplay, only to be “Herp, derp, do you like stuff” in real life due to insecurity? Is it wrong to use my writing skills to project a version of myself that I in no way, shape or form could live up to? What about doing so with my voice? I’ve technically made a living with it via telephone jobs for 7 years. There are chat-lines, although they are not cheap.
This is a fascinating development. For a fleeting moment I have a little positive vibes around an element of myself that I am even shyer about than being a virgin. Such a shame that it has arisen at a time when my own economic instability may make all of this academic. Thanks for reading, everyone.