Ask Dr. NerdLove: We Had a Passionate Affair. Why Doesn’t He Like Me Anymore?


Dear Dr. NerdLove:

I have a problem. My marriage was failing, and I fell in love with our Jiu Jitsu instructor (we’ll call him Ethan). The biggest problem was that I was still married and he was somewhat friendly with my husband (we will call him Rick). But Ethan and I clicked right away. I had an instant attraction to him, but I did my best to squash it.

As time went on, Ethan ended up being there for me during a rough time, emotionally when my husband wasn’t. Eventually, I told Ethan my feelings for him and he reciprocated. We ended up having a sexting relationship that was hot and heavy, but also filled with true emotion. However, he started getting pressure from another friend, who ended up causing a big scene and telling my husband what was going on before I could even process what was going on myself. My husband freaked out, and we’ve spent the last two and a half years trying to make it work. However, he’s ended up having his own infidelities numerous times while I did not.

We’ve decided to separate and then divorce. I recently reached out to Ethan to apologize for how everything went down, and he responded saying he had just been thinking about me that morning. It was a very sweet conversation. He told me that he thinks about me all the time and that we should get a drink soon. He was at work and I was about to take my son for a walk, so I suggested we carry on the conversation later. He agreed. Then I didn’t hear from him again until the next afternoon when I asked him a question about his gym. He apologized, and said he left his phone at work (hmmm).

We talked a bit more about everything that happened. He told me how he felt badly and that it was just recently that he got out of his funk from the situation between us. I respond with a few things and, after an hour or so, noticed that he saw the message and didn’t reply. I asked if I had said something wrong and then he disappeared again for 24 hours. He responded the next evening with “No you’re good, just super busy the past couple of days”. I ask him what he’s been up to not long after he sent that message, and now I haven’t heard from him again. He hasn’t even viewed the message. I haven’t contacted him since.

I spoke with a mutual friend of ours and he told me to be patient, that Ethan leaves him on “read” for days all the time. I asked him if he knew if Ethan was dating and he said he had heard nothing.

Here’s the thing, after doing some social media snooping, I see he’s been hiking with a girl these past days. Now, they don’t mention each other in their posts, she seems to go hiking a lot with other people. And it seems like he’s doing it for exercise based off of what he has said in the posts. It seems like they have been friends for while and work together. He liked a photo of our mutual friend and I today, but hasn’t responded. Is he trying to play it ultra cool, or if he doesn’t have the guts to say he’s dating someone else. I’m not glass, I wish he would just say as much. How long is an appropriate time to wait until I attempt to message him again? Should refriend him on social media? Should I just file this under it wasn’t meant to be?

What should I do? Thank you!!

Left On Read

There’re few things that’re more frustrating than a relationship that seems to go cold for no reason. It would be one thing if you could point to some inciting action, some event or occurrence that would explain why someone — someone you had just had a fairly hot fling with — has started treating you like an afterthought. When there’s no real explanation, then you’re left to come up with the answer all on your own… which is a great way to take all of your brain weasels, feed them a coffee/meth slurry and just let them go to town on every anxiety and insecurity you have. Suddenly you’re left questioning everything and wondering what glaring flaw you have that you were unaware of that would make someone seemingly be night and day different in how they feel about you.

The truth is often a lot more prosaic… and not always helpful when it comes to getting any sort of closure. The pattern you describe with your jiu jitsu instructor is, unfortunately, fairly common and one I’ve seen more than a few times. Here you are, an attractive woman in a troubled marriage, having lots of feelings for someone who’s been there for you, who’s supported you during a rough time and generally been everything your husband isn’t. It’s understandable that you’re going to have fairly intense feelings.

The problem is that those feelings weren’t returned… not in the way that you thought they would be, and likely not to the level that he thought. That attraction you had for him was certainly flattering — who doesn’t like being the focus of an attractive woman’s fantasies? — and the relative intimacy of your friendship with him almost certainly didn’t hurt, especially as he was your source of support during those troubled times. It’s certainly not surprising that he was interested in having some naughty, flirty fun with you. He may even have been caught up in the excitement of the moment. But I strongly suspect that for him, the taboo nature of what you were doing, the secrecy and the necessary limitations were the draw; he may have rounded those feelings up to something more than just sexual attraction, but it seems like getting busted threw a bucket of cold water on the whole situation.

Now here you are, free and single and ready to mingle and able to do more than just sext with him… and he doesn’t seem to be interested. He’s saying all the right things, that he thinks about you, he wants to see you, but his actions are a different story. And the policy here at NerdLove Industries is very simple: deeds, not words. And his deeds are saying “not feeling it.”

And that, at the end of the day, is the problem. The rest of it — the woman he’s hiking with, his indeterminate relationship status — are all red herrings. They don’t factor into the equation. It’s his behavior that’s telling you how he feels and what to expect.

Case in point: I’m willing to bet that during the height of your hot and heavy text affair, he was Johnny-on-the-spot as soon as the notification pinged. Now, you’re getting replies on such a long time delay, it seems like you’re trying to text someone on Mars. That in and of itself isn’t the issue. I mean, the fact that he’s leaving you on read isn’t unique to you; he’s not avoiding you while still talking to his other friends. The issue is that he’s treating you like he treats everyone else.

Now if you were to ask me to speculate, I would guess the fact that you’re not forbidden fruit anymore makes things less exciting. I also imagine that getting caught and the time away didn’t help either. But honestly? The reasons don’t really matter as much as his feelings and the way he’s acting. And those, as I said, are telling you that he’s just not interested now.

I don’t think asking him for an explanation is going to be fruitful. There likely isn’t an answer he could give you that would satisfy you and, frankly, he may not be able to explain why himself. It’s difficult to tell someone why your feelings have changed or why you don’t feel a certain way beyond “They just did and I just don’t.” That’s only likely to frustrate you more and send those brain weasels back into overdrive.

I think in this case, the best option for you is to file this under “nice while it lasted, but not meant to be”. You have the memories of a fling that kept you going during a rough time in your life, and that’s where it’ll have to stay. Give Look at this as a relationship that lasted exactly as long as it could, and then it came to it’s natural end. It may not be the same sort of closure as “well, I’ve found someone else”… but closure that you give yourself is the most important.

Good luck.

Hey Doc,

I am 22 years old and I am a virgin. I have severe anxiety that is caused by me being a virgin. I need to figure out how to get over my anxiousness towards sex, dating and relationships and how it relates to my virginity. I feel that me being a virgin is a huge turnoff to women, especially my age, so I am very shy in approaching them.

Looking at me, people would probably be stunned that I am a virgin because I am in pretty great shape somewhat of a natural bodybuilder so, I know girls look at me and stare at me and whatnot. I had a situation that had happened to me when I was around 19 where, long story short, I was in bed with a girl, I told her about my virginity and she laughed and told me I was pathetic but she would still fuck me anyway because she felt like no one else would.

Since then I have been very nervous to get in bed with any girls, so it has lead me to not even trying in shame and fear of rejection. I had a relationship I was in at 16 up until I was 19, where my now ex-girlfriend and I decided if we were going to have sex it would be after we married. She was very religious and I respected her so I wasn’t going to push it.

Well, she’s been gone, the relationships been gone and I feel that I have let myself fall behind. I have considered for the last few months about going to a prostitute and just paying $300-$350 for the hour and getting it over with; I haven’t followed through with that yet because I am very nervous and I know I would be taking several unnecessary risks. Outside of my non-existent sex life, I have a great job that pays well, I have some education, several different work experiences and I know that if I am ever in need of a job, I would be taken care of by any of my former employers in a heartbeat.

Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated and put to good use, this holds me back as a person from dating and having the life I want to have and I don’t know where else to go to for help. Your videos on the virginity paradox and the incel community both made me feel that I need to reach out for help.

Thank you,

Left Behind

First things first, LB: being a virgin at your age isn’t that unusual. You’re a smidge older than average, but you’re still well within the mean of that particular spread. But honestly? Even if you were far on the edge of the graph… so the fuck what? Your being a virgin has exactly as much meaning and significance as you give it, no more, no less. Being a virgin at 22 doesn’t make you any less of a man than losing it at 8 makes someone a stud. All it means is that you haven’t had a particular experience yet; that’s it.

I mean, your history and your life now are all indicators about just how bullshit the stigma around virginity is. Your first serious girlfriend wanted to wait until marriage and you were willing to respect her beliefs. That’s as big of a sign of your good character as one could want. When you’re sixteen, you’re basically a walking erection. You’ve got all these hormones flooding through you that a stiff breeze would make you harder than Chinese calculus and yet you respected your girlfriend’s choices without protest. That’s admirable.

Similarly, now you’re a hot piece, with a good job and the admiration of many a lovely lady. That alone should tell you that the fact that you’re still a virgin isn’t because there’s something wrong with you.

The issue you’ve had hasn’t been that there’s something shameful about being a virgin, some invisible mark of Cain that designates you as one of the Great Unfuckable, it’s that you’ve been dealing with assholes. That girl who offered you a literal pity-fuck? She was an asshole. Her shitty behavior towards you after finding out that you were a virgin says nothing about you and everything about her being an awful goddamn person and you should thank whatever gods you believe in that you didn’t actually sleep with her. She didn’t deserve the privilege of being your first and you didn’t deserve the ignominy of having your first sexual experience be with her. You, my friend, dodged a bullet like you just got told there is no spoon.

Honestly it sounds to me like the biggest issue for you is the sting of the asshole making fun of you. And while that’s understandable, her being an asshole has nothing to do with you; assholes are gonna ass. But there’re more good, caring people than there are assholes out there, and anyone worth sleeping with isn’t going to give you shit like she did.

Now would going to a sex worker solve your problems? I’m inclined to say no, but only because the issue is in your sense of self-worth. From a purely objective standpoint, there’s no reason not to. A sex worker, especially one who’s in a position to charge $300 an hour is almost certainly going to want to make sure your first time is a rewarding one. She’s much more likely to put care and consideration into your experience and center the appointment around you and your pleasure than, say, a random hook-up at a bar. And honestly, there are less risks involved with an escort than a stranger, especially in locales where sex work is legal. So if you decide you want to hop a flight to Reno and take a trip to one of the brothels out that way, then hey, treat yourself my friend and have yourself a hell of a time.

The only reason I say that you probably shouldn’t is that I suspect that in your case, it would only make you feel worse. I get the feeling that you’d see having paid to lose your virginity as another black mark in your ledger, more proof that there’s something wrong and shameful with you. And while that’s not true, adding to your anxiety over this would be counter-productive. So I think the best thing you can do is start to redefine how you see yourself first. Treat being a virgin with the same level of importance as having never had sushi or schwarma or mansaf: you’ve never had it and you’d love to find someone who can introduce you to it.

(Also: holy shirtballs would I love some mansaf right now…)

Think about it: if you’re trying some new cuisine, you’d want somebody who’s interested in making sure you have a great meal, no? Nobody who would want you to experience sushi for the first time would be giving you a six-pack of California rolls from the grocery store; they’ll want to take you to their favorite sushi restaurant and helping you figure out what you want to order. So it is with your first time: you want someone who is as interested in your enjoying and appreciating the experience. Maybe that person is someone you’re dating. Maybe that’ll be a friend who’s interested in helping you out. Maybe you’d get lucky and it’d be a stranger who’s kind and caring and a little turned on by being able to break the seal on a hot hunk of man.

What you don’t want to do is to treat your being a virgin like something shameful or something you need to apologize for. The way you treat it is going to affect the people you meet who you might potentially lose your virginity to. Treat it like either no big deal or a special treat someone gets, then you’re more likely to find someone who’s going to be turned on by the chance to be your first — and trust me, they are out there. On the other hand, treat it like a deep dark secret and you’re more likely to find people who’ll give you shit for it and give you a lousy first time. Not because of any woo-woo-read-The-Secret kind of magic but because those will be the people you’ll be more likely to gravitate towards. Thinking that it’s a bonus means that you’re more likely to look for someone you would think is worth sleeping with. Thinking of it as your deep dark shame means you’re more likely to look for someone who’d tolerate it or take pity on you.

Trust me: you want the former. You want to be the former.

Honestly, LB, I think this will be less of an issue than you realize. Choose to see yourself differently and I think things will fall into place for you faster than you expect… and it’ll reward you in ways you’ll appreciate for years to come.

Good luck.

Previously published on doctornerdlove.com and is republished here under permission.

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