After my straight friend Brandon’s girlfriend broke up with him, we had many conversations about dating and relationships and marriage. He had difficulty understanding the strength of my attraction to other guys and how weakly I felt anything sexual or romantic toward girls.

Brandon urged me to consider dating a girl; because I trusted him, I seriously thought it through.

Up until then I had mostly believed I would remain single for life, a belief based on my study of 1 Corinthians 7. When spiritually strong, I wanted to remain single. But on weaker days, I started wondering about marrying a woman.

I would look and feel more “normal” if married. I would definitely fit into the Christian world better.

So, I decided to try out dating a girl.

Sarah was my closest female friend, one of the most spiritually strong Christians I knew, and she had many female friends who looked up to her. I had also heard several guys comment on her good looks. Because I already loved her as a friend, I knew I’d only ever really consider dating her.

Sarah is likely a Myers-Briggs ENFP personality, and I’ve somehow always had an affinity for ENFPs…

When I asked her out, Sarah gladly said yes.

After dating for about six months, I felt the friendship and relationship going great, and I had high hopes for experiencing a deeper attraction to Sarah.

Still, I also felt a growing uneasiness — a feeling I described to Brandon “like my first day at a new school where nothing was familiar.” I had emotional pain and a sense of foreboding inside.

Brandon laughed and responded, “That is just fear. Act like a man, take courage, and keep going despite that fear.”

He and all my other friends kept encouraging me to press forward through the relationship. I loved them, and I appreciated all they were saying; so, I decided to take the next step.

I would bring up the topic of marriage with Sarah.

To be continued . . .

Tell us about your first experience dating the opposite sex. Did it feel natural, or did you feel like a fish out of water? Did your attraction grow and turn into marriage, or did the dating relationship stagnate and disappear?

* Photo courtesy N Medd, Creative Commons.

  • My first experience dating the opposite sex started and was cut short almost as soon as it began. I was in the sixth grade and she was in the seventh. We met at a school dance taking place in the cafeteria space of our middle school. After getting past an awkward first impression and managing to overcome the social turmoil of my reputation at the time (I wasn’t a popular kid at the time), we decided to go steady. During times at the dance and due to limited seating, my new girlfriend was comfortable sitting on my lap while sat on one of those ugly metal chairs lining the perimeter. This was especially nice for me as we held each other and grazed our hands along the lengths of the other’s arms. I thought I had finally arrived to falling in love. Yet as I was holding her I began to question of whether I was truly in love with this girl or was I simply in love with the idea of being in love or being in boy-girl relationship. As it turns out I had such an incredibly big ego at the time that I just figured because I was who I was, not necessarily on the social ladder’s top notch, which I felt needed a girlfriend. Sadly, this was one of my most early lessons on how relationships can change, even in an instant. Seeing us together in public was too much a social strain for her and our romance came to an abrupt end. She caved under the pressure. Yes, she dumped me. Looking back I chalk it up to dating experience and naïve young love, yet I also ponder whether the rejection left a bruise that caused self-doubt to fester. Was I ever going to be someone’s Mr. Right or just a perpetual Mr. Right Now?

  • My first date was in my junior year in HS. She pursued me in chemistry class; she was pretty flirtatious. We shared a meal at Bob’s Big Boy and then went to a local mall to buy Neil Diamond albums. A week later we spent the night at the Rose Parade with friends, and I held her hand for the first time in a Gene Wilder movie. We ended up going to the university together for 4 years, and she continued to flirt in many chemistry classes. We were open about my attraction to males, and she was remarkably supportive, especially during a rough sophomore year where I seemed to undress (automatically without wanting to do so) everyone who passed by on campus, especially the males. I could not stop my thoughts and felt I was going mad. She threw up one afternoon after she thought I had confessed sleeping with a male classmate, but I was confessing more of my mental torment. We eventually broke up when she met an entirely straight missionary, and I met my wife a few months later.

  • Your perspective is invaluable, Marshall. Your stories through all the eras and people of your life encourage me. I’ve yet to date another person myself, and I do wonder what that experience would have been like if it had already happened in some way. Part of me wishes I had a guy friend to push me into it, like you described here, but part of me is also glad I’ve “held out” in hopes of my first date being truly meaningful one day. I guess only time will tell.

    • Thanks, Tom! Even though Brandon and other friends pushed me, I could have resisted. I decided myself to go along with it because I was in an emotional place where I wanted to fit in better with Christians and even society in general. I will explain more of my feelings in later posts.

  • I grew up with probably too much female companionship, and definitely too few male buddies. My experience most of my life has been that women are non-entities. I have great interest and emotional hunger for men. I tried eHarmony to see if something would “jump-start,” but quit trying since I had so little motivation. I’ve worked on dealing with the infancy attachment problems I’d had with my mom which I believe resulted in deep, defensive detachment toward all things feminine (especially breasts). The deepest, irrational (couldn’t connect them to any conscious memory) core feelings I could touch were terrible grief and fear that a woman could hurt me. I’m more open emotionally toward women now and don’t rule out that a door in my heart could open toward a specific woman, but I’m not trying to make something happen. I’m working on building relationships with men to try to satisfy that greater emotional hunger.

    • “…don’t rule out that a door in my heart could open toward a specific woman, but I’m not trying to make something happen. I’m working on building relationships with men to try to satisfy that greater emotional hunger.”
      I really think you might be hitting on the ongoing reparation (building relationships with men) we all need to endure as SSA men to break down the “emotional blockage” within us. Once this blockage is mitigated, not necessarily totally gone from us, can we also be receptive to the love of a woman (a door in my heart could open toward a specific woman). I don’t want to call building healthy, loving, platonic and noble relationships with men as a “cure” to SSA, but taking into consideration the alternatives I’ve heard, I think it is a step in the right direction. BTW, I’m Eddie and I’m obsessive compulsive writer. 😀

  • Red, Mistaken Identity, and Mike, I am glad you found happiness in marriage to a woman. That has not happened with me, but I know several other SSA guys who are similarly happily married.
    Unlike several of you, I was never motivated to date until after I graduated from university.
    I will tell more of this story in following posts.

  • Marshall,
    Thank you for your post. I recently found out YOB and as I read through the blog posts, I appreciate how many others struggle with SSA as I do. Your post was particularly interesting because at the encouragement of friends, I recently went on dating apps and go on dates with women. I’m just not that excited to meet them.
    I wonder, if I could find a girl who I could love as a friend and keep dating, whether I could bring up the question of marriage as well…and be honest about my SSA once I do.

  • Marshall

    Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. I seek to do that with great joy, because He is better than everything we give up! Also I want to love others in an unselfish way as Jesus taught. I currently do my best to live out that kind of love with 15 other friends on a farm near the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. I love talking about what really matters, and seeing a friend's heart turn from pain to joy, from fear to peace, and from despair to hope! My writing tends to focus on the topic of friendships with other guys. I have never married and am currently the oldest author on YOB.

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