I'm addressing this to Nick but I'm really interested to hear input from the group as well.
I've been reading your blog a lot lately and it's been extremely helpful in getting my head on straight when it comes to dating and sex.
I was born and raised in a fundamentalist religion and dedicated my life to it pretty hard-core up until the last 9 months or so. I worked at the central hub of the religion as a full-time volunteer for almost 7 years, working for no pay...just room and board. I had my doubts and challenges the whole time but the religion was my context for everything else in my life so it kept me in much longer than it should have.
The past 9 months since waking from my indoctrination have been really positive but also full of new challenges, ones that I've been trying to confront head on. The religion prohibited blood transfusions so I went and donated blood yesterday. The religion prohibited involvement in politics so I voted in the local primaries, etc. The religion views homosexuality as a sin, so I started making friends with gays and lesbians.
Probably the most daunting challenge though is dating and sex. Obviously, this was a "No sex before marriage" and "flirting is bad and abuses emotions" religion so my experience is truly zero as I've never been married. I've only ever dated and kissed one girl. This was in large part because the religion taught us that dating should only be started if you have genuine intentions of marrying this person. The majority of couples that start dating get married because they've already been learning as much as they can about each before the guy even asks the girl.
Because of this, I have some real mental hurdles to get over when it comes to the way things work in the real world.
There's a girl I'm interested in right now and so far things have been going pretty well. We're having dinner tonight after work which will be the third time we've spent time together (first time: ice cream on the day we met; second time: hike). I know that tonight is when I need to throw the gauntlet down and start getting physical, beginning with touching like you teach and seeing what doors she's willing to open (wish I had read your stuff before the last two times we got together).
My issue is that my brain is still stuck in "If I show this girl attention it's because I'm serious about wanting a long-term relationship" mode. The actual fact is, I don't know what sort of relationship I'm looking for at this point, aside from the fact that I know I would like to gain sexual experience and really learn how to please a woman on that level without feeling like I owe her the rest of my life.
I guess what I'm trying to ask is: What are the expectations out here in the real world?
I know every girl and every person for that matter has very different expectations but I've worked pretty hard in my life to not be a douche-bag (a pattern I would like to continue) and I'm afraid of suddenly becoming one or being perceived as one if I just start getting together with girls and then breaking off a relationship in the short-term.
So what does a typical short-term relationship look like. How long do they last? How do you end a relationship like that?
I've read your article on breaking up which has some great advice but I'm looking for a little clarity on what general expectations people have going into a sexual relationship in 2018 and how I can have some shorter relationships to start finding out what I AM looking for without being a player.
Thanks Nick and discussion peeps!