I listen to Dan Savage’s Savage LoveCast and I frequently agree with him, often with loud cheers, and big “Yes, Dan, tell them!” type enthusiasm.
I listened to the show he did a couple weeks ago where he addressed a 38-year-old virgin, desire, and romantic matches, and I want to take it from another angle.
The 38-year-old virgin asked a question about how to get out there and start making a dating/love life for himself after spending his adult life taking care of ill family members and not taking time to build his own social and sexual life. Part of Dan’s answer was that there is a reality that “there isn’t a partner for everyone.” He talked about how some people are not meant to have the love of their life.
I’m super psyched Dan is keeping it real. I always appreciate that about him. AND, I have a different take on desire and sex and why many people end up alone. Some people don’t really want it and they aren’t suited for relationships. That’s fine, let’s set those to the side because it’s obvious why they don’t have a partner–they don’t want one and they’re not interested! I want to talk about those who really do want one. Some of it can be a social or sexual deficit, or disability as Dan called it. When people lack experience, that deficit/disability is real because they don’t know how to be socially effective. As you know, if you are one of my readers, successful social, sexual and relationship lives require that skills be learned.
But I don’t believe there is no match for someone who truly desires a partner and is coming from a healthy place in their desire. (An unhealthy desire would be wanting something that would harm another person or would impede their self-determination.) When there is a healthy desire, there is an answer or a fulfillment of that desire too. That’s the other part of the desire. Will it be the same path with equal ease for us all? Of course not.
Someone who is starting with a deficiency has a longer way to go, more skills to learn and is going to need to commit to developing what they need in order to be a partner worth partnering with. On the same episode, Dan was interviewing one of my favorite journalists, Tracy Clark-Flory, about incels: “involuntary celibates,” many who think the world owes them something—in particular, they think women owe them sex. This is the kind of attitude that will have the thing you want evading you for the rest of your life. No one owes you anything…it’s your responsibility to create the things you want in life and in sex.
I talked to a woman this week who was mad at a partner because she didn’t have an orgasm with him when they first had sex. “Your orgasm is your responsibility,” I said. This attitude shows up in so many ways.
We want what we want but we don’t want to work for it, or give something up for it, or we don’t want to change. Let me break it down: you HAVE to. Or you don’t get it. It’s not that the possibility isn’t there, it’s that you won’t commit and do the work to change the situation.
No one ever does anything great without putting some skin in the game, taking action and working on it. Nothing happens magically. Not sex, not great relationships, not any dream worth having. You are the engine making the car run. Clean up your engine.
There is always more to learn…
If you want to be successful in sex and relationships, then develop the social skills you need, learn the sexual skills you lack, learn how to have your own orgasm, learn to communicate your needs and of course, practice.
Most people don’t treat life that way, much less sex. They float through it without really giving it their all, passively accepting the jobs, partners, opportunities, and lot that life delivers. Imagine if you actually started directing the show! What if “YOU” happened to your sex life instead of your sex life just “happening” to you? If you got clear about your desire, your deficits and you demonstrated your desire by working earnestly to fill the gaps in your knowledge, skills and determination… then you could create anything. The right people would show up. The right opportunities.
It’s amazing how many people still think sex magically happens, or that it just should instinctively happen the way they want it to. Get over that one or you’ll spend your whole life being disappointed and feeling empty about sex. You’ll be the person Dan talked about who won’t have a partner who is right for them, ever. It doesn’t just happen—you make it happen. You prioritize it and you create the life you really want. I’ve seen it and experienced it from both sides hundreds of times watching friends, students, clients and myself dance with desire, skill and commitment.
What are you willing to commit to? That’s really the question.
As always, thanks Dan for making us think.