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Everything I Know About Relationships, I Learned From Porn

December 21, 2003 - 11:35 p.m.

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Last Five Entries:
The Party's Over
July 11, 2004
The Next Day
My Nervous Breakdown
True Confessions: My Life as a Female Impersonator
March 15, 2004
Bite Me
February 29, 2004



My parents and I never had "The Talk." When I was about six years old or so, I received a book on How Babies Are Made. When I was seventeen, and had my first girlfriend, who was fifteen, my mother made one off-hand comment to me reminding me that there are statutory rape laws. Other than that, sex and relationships are something that my parents and I never talked about.

All I know about relationships, I've learned from movies (it took me a long time to figure out those things are unrealistic), women's magazines (which I trusted for a while until I figured that they were like movies), friends (who had information as bad as mine), and my divorce clients (my best and most reliable source of information).

Consequently, sex and relationships are something which I have never discussed with my parents in my adult life. In part, it's because I've had few relationships and zero sex. But those rare, brief occasions in which I have dated are something I've never told my parents about. I've never told them about the dates I've been on since I've been living with them- I've just disappeared to some mysterious location to do something mysterious for the day.

The other reason for that is that I feel like a failure as far as dating goes anyway. To tell my parents about one date I'm going on, and then to have them ask me when I'm seeing her next, and then for me to have to say that she wasn't interested enough for a second date- that's a huge admission of failure that I really don't want to be making.

It so happens that I've dated yet another person through an internet personal ad. After my last experience, I had given up on the personal ads, but this person wrote to me and I thought it would be rude to ignore her. She and I met at a coffee shop a couple of weeks ago, talked, and apparently it was not awful enough that she could stand to go out on another date with me. Said date was scheduled for tonight, which consisted of dinner and going to the theatre for a play. There is just one professional theatrer within about a fifty-mile radius of where I live.

I got the tickets on Wednesday. On Wednesday evening, I was talking with my mother about how I couldn't think of a Christmas gift to get for my sister and brother-in-law. Mom said that they like going to the theatre in the summer, and suggested I might get subscription tickets for them. I held in my head the coincidence that the suggestion came on the day that I had gotten tickets for myself- I didn't feel compelled to mention it.

But them mom started saying that she didn't know how I would get the tickets, and then she started talking about how she had no idea how much it would cost. And at that point, there's a thing in my head that says if I just say nothing and pretend ignorance of facts like how to get the tickets and how much they cost, that's the same as lying. So I said, you can get them by credit card over the phone, pick them up at the box office, and the cost is $21-26 per ticket though it was cheaper through subscription. Mom of course inquired about how I had such knowledge, and I had to confess that I had just purchased tickets for the purpose of going on a date.

And from Wednesday through today, all my parents have talked to me about was my date tonight. Mom has all kinds of advice for me, most of it regarding basic social skills. This would have been a good conversation to have with me when I was twelve, but you know, I'm thirty-three now. Mom may be trying to make up for the conversations we didn't have, but the time is long past. And the little things like "don't be late" and "don't eat fast" are just a little bit demeaning. Mom is un-deterred by my hints that her "advice" is unwelcome: "Thanks Mom, I don't know anything about manners, is there anything else you need to tell me so I won't embarass myself, because I don't know anything?" (And before you think it's mean for me to be sarcastic with my mother, keep in mind that everything I know about sarcasm, I learned from her.) Dad wants the statistics on the person who will be accompanying me- age, hair color, general appearance, occupation, martial and child history, that sort of thing. He tells me to make sure I find a good woman, as if I'm not going on a casual date, but I'm making wedding plans.

So my parents have insisted on making a big deal out of my scheduled date, and I have hated every minute of it. I don't want to make a big deal out of it. There's a good chance she could stand me up, I don't want to come home from that, after my parents made a big deal out of it, and tell them I got stood up. Or even if I'm not stood up, there's no reason to think that she might want to go on a third date, and I don't want my parents asking me about why I haven't seen her again. If I'm the only person who knows about yet another unsuccessful attempt to meet someone, it's alright. I have low expectations and I've dealt with disappointment before. What I don't want is to have to admit disappointment to anyone else, and that's why I don't talk to my parents about these things, because they just won't allow me to keep some sort of emotional insulation from these attempts at dating.

Had my parents and I had these talks when I was a kid, maybe things would be different. But I didn't learn anything from them, and learning how to have relationships with women has been largely a matter of painful trial-and-error on my own, heavy on the error. That makes romance one of my personal issues that remains private from them, and I want them not to pry. If I establish a successful relationship, I will let them know. Until then, it's my business.

Fortunately, my worst-case scenario for tonight didn't happen. She showed up (the first time in four years that I've had a second date with someone), we may have had a good time, and I almost believe her when she says she'll call me.

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