In this week’s Dearly Beloved, the advice column by author Michael Arceneaux, a reader reveals that after living on Beyoncé’s planet for nearly three decades, he thinks that he is finally ready to date. There’s just one little issue, though: he waited nearly 30 years to want to go out and meet people! What will all these potential baes and snacks, presumably with far more extensive romantic and sexual experiences than he, think of him given that his own experiences are essentially nonexistent?
Does he have a right to be terrified? Is there no hope for someone who waited this long to make connections? Should he put himself back in rice and stick to the lakes of loneliness that he’s used to? As a wise woman eerily similar to Mama Odie from The Princess and the Frog once said on her OWN series, “Not on my watch!”
Thankfully, this reader has reached out to someone who understands the plight of the late bloomer. Even if delayed, it’s never too late to fornicate or find love. Insert the soothing sounds of Mariah Carey’s “Bliss” here.
If you want Michael’s advice, just email him at [email protected] with your question. Just be sure to include SPECIFICS, and don’t forget to start your letter with Dearly Beloved!
It’s a thing.
Oh boy, how do I put this without sounding like a whole mess?
So I’m almost 30, in college, trying to start my career, and still trying to get my entire life right. It ain’t perfect, but I feel like I’m doing very good after some gigantic hurdles in life. I mean I have been THROUGH it and there just wasn’t time for anything else in between all that.
But, recently, I got it in my head that I’m ready to go out there into the dating game. I’m lonely in a way that a friend just can’t help, okay. Main problem though?
I haven’t dated not once in my entire life. I have zero romantic or sexual experience. Absolutely. Zero. I feel like a newborn babe thinking I can play with wolves and I am TERRIFIED.
So what am I to do? I am legit baffled by this whole thing and, considering my age, it’s a little embarrassing and makes me not want to tell anyone my business or even go out there in the first place. Any advice?
Near-30 and Ready to GO
Dear Near-30 and Ready to GO,
First off, congratulations for recognizing a void in your life and being proactive on how to correct it. And no, I am not giving you the equivalent of a participation award. Seriously, be proud of yourself for getting to this point. There are a lot of lonely people in this world, but familiarity often breeds complacency, and even if the longing for love and pleasure may make life less joyous, not everyone pushes themselves to the point in which they want to confront the matter at hand.
Based on your letter, it sounds like you are ready to do just that, so salute to you. Feel good about that. It’s a start. It means you don’t assume loneliness to be a foregone conclusion.
And let’s get this out of the way: you are not a mess and there needn’t be any reason for you to believe otherwise. An inconvenient reality for many queer people is that we have a bit of stunted development, and because it took us longer to live our lives out loud, we are not as experienced as our straight counterparts. As for that experience, it doesn’t necessarily make one any more adapt at romance — just ask Adele, Anita Baker, or Jazmine Sullivan, or cue up the saddest parts of Lemonade, still not available on Spotify.
Having said that, I’m not going to lie to you, starting late is hard. I am a bit of a late bloomer myself so I understand your concerns on a profound level. And like you, I have been through it, too. However, if you know that you are lonely in a way a friend cannot help, you have to begin the work to find someone that’s more than a friend.
You can start at any pace you want. It could be an invitation to drinks, coffee, or dinner; a museum; some athletic shit I see those Instaboys or Real Housewives do; something with a much smaller group that allows you to feel a bit more comfortable at trying that new-new.
As for sex, well, it depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a meaningful connection first a la Janet Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile,” that will take some time. But if you’re looking for something more immediate along the lines of Janet Jackson’s “Do It 2 Me” and “Anytime, Anyplace,” well, there’s an app for that. There are more traditional, in-person means of making that happen as well. Do what works best for you on your own schedule. Hopefully, you find a nice combination, which would be Janet’s “Twenty Foreplay.” Many of us continue to search for that. Trust me, love.
Now, as you meet people, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to vomit every detail of your life on date number one. Or two. Or three. Or four. That, too, depends on your level of comfort. This is new for you so you will understandably be cautious.
Will some people freak out? Perhaps. The same goes for a person potentially making you feel even more embarrassed about your lack of dating history and sexual experiences. I know that feeling; it can be humiliating. It can make you question why you even bothered. It may compel you to fall back into your cocoon. Please, don’t let anyone do that to you. This also applies to dealing with a person who turns out to be the wrong one for you. Rejection hurts; it is self-sabotaging to cling to it.
Your past trauma and struggles may have shaped you, and in this case, delayed certain aspects of your life. Still, they do not define you. Nor do they have to deter you from your present choice to put yourself out there — which may yield you a more complete future. And once you meet the right person and forge a connection, those bad experiences will matter even less.
Yet, you will never learn any of this if you don’t act and move forward. You may feel like a newborn baby now, but you won’t feel that way for much longer. Some things come naturally for some, but for others, it takes much longer. Regardless, we all move on our time.
What you will have to do in the meantime is remain committed, know that you are worthy, and believe no matter how long it takes, you will find what you are looking for. So, when it comes to the question “What am I to do?” the answer is easy: try.
I wish you all the love and thotting in the world ‘cause you deserve it.