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On relationships, expectations, and dehumanisation

What follows is my reply to an email I received with the subject line “How to accept how unlucky and lonely i’m ?”. The identity of my correspondent shall remain a secret. Please note that part of the content is for adults: some words and concepts might be inappropriate or unsafe for sensitive groups or settings.

I have received such emails before (not sure why) though I only now realise this is a topic that needs to be addressed in public. I am thus publishing this in hope of helping others who go through similar experiences and are troubled by the thoughts pertinent to them.


Myself a programmer. I like programming , but i also like other stuffs such as bodybuilding (although i’ve not done yet ). But my life is very very lonely, I’ve 0 friends, i’ve never experienced a girlfriend , never hugged pathetic soul.

When i walk in road, i see two couples talking happily , walking eating, riding bike, posting on facebook. I’m 29 age now and I’m virgin.

I dont use any social media, i’m pursuing computer science . I feel so jeleous by looking others, that i literally want to hurt myself . I feel like i’ve missed my young age, when some people yell about my loneliness would be rather be homosexual or asexual instead. Because of virgin myself, i also want to marry to virgin girl , such thoughts comes.

I do watch porn and mastrubate about 5 6 times a day, it feels like daily habit like eating food . feels so unhappy , pathetic my life is.

How can i motivate myself?

You are not unlucky

Let’s start with the subject of your message:

How to accept how unlucky and lonely i’m ?

You describe yourself as unlucky, which suggests that you have already made up your mind about this state of affairs. The inference is that you think of people who are not like you as being the lucky ones. Are they though? Are you truly without any luck? Has God forsaken you or are you simply not making an objective assessment of the factors of the case?

You write that you are a programmer, who likes programming, and who is pursuing computer science. To me these sound like descriptors of a lucky person. Not everyone has the skills to be a programmer: it takes a certain kind of mental capacity and character. Just like not everyone can be an artist, a nurse, a comedian, a sportsperson, a philosopher… Each one has something unique and special in their own way. What would life be without programmers or engineers and scientists in general? What would it be like if we had no artists, nurses, comedians, sportspeople, and philosophers? Everyone matters.

Furthermore, you are lucky to be able to pursue computer science. Not everyone has the luxury or chance in life to commit to what they like or are good at.

Put differently, you are overestimating the value of what you lack and are not appreciating what you have. Why would you do that? Why would you not recognise your qualities as special?

Learn to live with what you have. Be satisfied with less. The desire for more is insatiable and will always burden you.

The upside of your subject line is that you use the word “accept”. You recognise that there currently is a mismatch between your actuality and your wants. This means that you have already made the first step in the right direction.

You are not in control of everything

There is this cultural construct that each of us is the master of their own destiny. We have free will and basically whatever we get in life is what we deserve. I think this is untrue. Yes, there is the relevant epiphenomenon, or else a kernel of what appears to be freedom of volition, involved in our life but the fact is that we do not control most of the factors that apply to our case.

Did you choose your parents? Did you decide where you were born? Did you pick the culture you were immersed in? Did you select the people in your life who influenced you in one way or another? Do you control the opinions of others which influence the perception of your own selfhood? Do you determine the environment you find yourself in? The list of questions goes on about “you” as an individual in a social whole, “you” as a human organism that is determined by the ecosystem, but also “you” as a biochemical system of systems that is, among others, the host of benign microorganisms who are symbiotic with—and necessary for—human life. The more you think about it, the more your realise that the factors you control are but a fraction of the totality of factors whose interplay brings about the constitution of your case.

Simply put, we say that we cannot criticise the work of the gods. We are but a tiny part of a grand design. If anything, this is a poetic way of recognising that we are not in control of the whole world. We have to accept our actuality the way it is, not how we imagine—or wish—it to be.

This is another perspective on the topic of luck. Try to see the value in what you have.

Jealousy, gender roles, and social norms

You write:

When i walk in road, i see two couples talking happily , walking eating, riding bike, posting on facebook. I’m 29 age now and I’m virgin.

[…]

I feel so jeleous by looking others, that i literally want to hurt myself. I feel like i’ve missed my young age, when some people yell about my loneliness would be rather be homosexual or asexual instead. Because of virgin myself, i also want to marry to virgin girl, such thoughts comes.

There are many concepts to unpack here. Let’s take them one-by-one.

I will comment on your jealousy the same way I did for your presumed lack of luck. You think others have something that you do not and you rationalise your condition as you being a man manqué. You belittle yourself thinking that you are a lesser being than others and that somehow you are defective at your core.

To me this says that you are burdened by expectations. Instead of focusing on what you are, you want to be another person. The mismatch between your actuality and your desires causes those feelings of worthlessness that you describe.

Expectations are crass generalisations about people or states of affairs. They do not consider the actual person in the given situation. Instead, they demand that the person behaves in accordance with a predefined role. If your behaviour revolves around meeting expectations, you are effectively trapped in a role-playing game. Instead of being true to yourself, you set up an avatar, you pretend—or try—to be someone else, and neglect what your actual being needs and/or can do.

Understand that you will always fail while trying to be another, for you are only fit to be yourself. That is the only sustainable option. Everything else will eventually make you suffer.

I ask you take a step back and think things through. You do not know for certain that those other people are happy. You are reaching conclusions based on partial and imperfect information. Relationships can bring about a state of happiness, though not necessarily. Have you considered the possibility that behind that facade of what you see on social media, at least some of those people are actually miserable? Have you thought about major problems of our world such as domestic violence and abuse? Did you account for the number of divorces that are registered? Maybe divorces are not a common phenomenon in your culture due to certain rules that are in place, but do not mistake their absence as proof of widespread satisfaction. People may be suffering in silence under the weight of structural oppression.

The underlying theme is that we have this notion that being sexually inexperienced is an undesirable condition and something you should be ashamed of. Everyone encourages you to find “your other half”, as if you are otherwise incomplete. This is a bunch of interwoven stereotypes, else nonsense. You are more likely to lose part of yourself and be miserable when you are in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. You will be caught in a situation you hate living in, yet are forced to endure. Whenever something is imposed, whenever we valorise the form while ignoring the substance, we are likely to suffer and live in desperation because we are forced to behave as someone we are not.

By reading your words, I understand you identify as a man. I then assume that your culture, just like mine, has a toxic conception of manliness which reduces a man from a fully fledged human being to a piece of meat that carries—and is defined by—its penis.

Consider this double standard: a man who is sexually promiscuous is seen as an example to follow, whereas a woman who does the same (or even far less) is labelled a whore and persecuted as such. This is obviously pernicious for women, but now I want to focus on your case. The man who has no sexual experience is thus considered a lesser person, nearly subhuman and worthy only of contempt. Why? Why is a person with talents, emotions, and intellectual curiosity reduced to a fucktoy and judged on that account? More generally, why must we be defined by sex, whether that concerns its presence or absence? And why must we not be encouraged to aspire to our highest instead of being forced to expend our vitality on sexual themes?

My point here is that we are caught in the web of our culture’s expectations. Sexuality is, at best, a facet of what a human is. It neither is the definitive one, nor the necessary conduit to happiness. It is entirely possible to be happy while remaining single and/or chaste. And it is perfectly fine to enjoy your life without any sex. On this note, have you ever considered how wise and/or holy people are typically not known for their sexual exploits? The reason is that they understand how this is not a precondition for enlightenment. They aspire to their highest while overcoming social norms about sex.

This is not to say that sex is inherently bad. It is neither good nor bad. What matters is that we do not lose our sense of perspective and understand how there has to be a virtuous balance in our life. If we obsess about something—anything—we are not balanced and will suffer the consequences. To find the balance, we need to be honest with ourselves. Instead of trying to fit in and participate in a role-playing game, we must recognise who we are and live in accordance with our nature and, thus, in harmony with nature at-large.

[ Watch: Ataraxia, moderation, and mysticism (2022-02-16) ]

Now let me quote once again this sentence from your message:

I feel like i’ve missed my young age, when some people yell about my loneliness would be rather be homosexual or asexual instead.

This makes it sound like “young age” is the same as “sexual life”. The truth, however, is that young people—and people of all ages—have experiences that do not revolve around sex. How we judge those experiences depends on cultural norms. Again we witness the bias in favour of gender roles: the “manly” man, the “lady-like” behaviour, and so on.

I understand that homosexuality and/or asexuality come with social stigma in your culture. The specifics do not matter right now. The gist is that this stigma is also a consequence of the single-minded focus on sexuality. We are conditioned to treat humans solely on what lies between their legs, which are their relevant preferences, and whether those are “right”. This is dehumanising and ultimately cruel.

Consider this email you decided to send to me. Think about what you truly felt when you made that decision. Did you think “I will ask this dick owner how I should use my own dick”? Or did you actually feel that you had to consult a philosopher about what the prudent frame of mind for coping with these challenges? If you were expecting the former, then you could simply post a comment on some random website and get the relevant feedback—my input would be superfluous in that regard. But you sent the message to me, which can only mean that you want to receive insights that inspire you to consider the bigger picture and break free from the culturally induced obsession with sexuality.

You also told me a bit about yourself, like how you are a programmer, which suggests that you already know deep down that life is not about sex.

Virginity and expectations

You write:

Because of virgin myself, i also want to marry to virgin girl, such thoughts comes.

Marriage and the desire for it is yet another cultural norm: this notion of the “other half” and concomitant humbuggery I already alluded to. It is okay to be in a relationship with someone when you recognise their worth as a human. And it is perfectly fine to marry them. What is problematic is to be a hypocrite. To want marriage for the sake of marriage, to be in a relationship for the conformity of being in a relationship, just so your peers think highly of you and/or do not bully you anymore.

Now consider virginity, which is a heavily loaded concept. Would a woman who is no longer a virgin be bad for you? Does a woman lose her worth after that one-off event? Please think this through. It seems to me that humans have inherent worth regardless of such trivialities. A human who has never had sex is equally worthy as one who has had sex before. Sexuality and sexual orientation are irrelevant in that regard.

We are overthinking virginity by constructing intricate conceptual superstructures and multifaceted taboos around it, making it seem like the single most important issue in life when it simply is an inconsequential detail in the grand scheme of things. This misconception harms people in profound ways, just how it is harming you.

Suppose you meet a woman right now. Let’s say she has a keen interest in paintings, knows how to play the violin, and studies history. Will you want to learn more about her interests or will you simply judge her on the basis of her virginity or lack thereof? I think you should focus on what the human is and forget about the rest. If, however, you judge women on whether they are virgins or not, then you are walking down the wrong path: not only are you objectifying/dehumanising them, you are also reducing yourself to a mindless fucktoy. There is a reason we think with our brain and not our genitals.

Motivation and false wants

Let’s now switch gears. So far I have focused on what cultural norms make us feel. But we also have to recognise when we need to improve our disposition. Allow me to elaborate by commenting on what you wrote:

Myself a programmer. I like programming , but i also like other stuffs such as bodybuilding (although i’ve not done yet ).

[…]

I do watch porn and mastrubate about 5 6 times a day, it feels like daily habit like eating food . feels so unhappy , pathetic my life is.

How can i motivate myself?

How can you like bodybuilding, in the way you like programming, if you have never done it? In the absence of further information, I can only entertain hypotheses:

  • This sounds like the kind of role-playing and fakery I already mentioned, which links back to the invidious concept of the manly man. You claim to like the act of bulking up because that is what the stereotypical man is supposed to be (sport is fine, harmful expectations are not). Though you do not truly believe in the stereotype, which is a positive, hence your lack of commitment to that end.
  • You are faking it. You say you like something because it makes you sound cool or whatnot. Here too the underlying mechanics are about the desire to fit in and be part of the culture. Perhaps all “alpha males” (another silly superstition) in your milieu do bodybuilding and you want to give the impression that you are such an alpha as well.

To be clear: I am not blaming you for partaking in a role-playing game. You are a victim of cultural norms and expectations. Recognise that, focus on your actuality, and stop worrying about fitting in.

In my commentary up to this point, I have hinted at the false wants that trouble you. You say you are 29 and a virgin, implying that this is necessarily bad. I explained how you can change your mindset about how you approach this issue. You then say you want to marry a virgin girl, as if you would otherwise lose your honour and manliness (or whatever other token of social correctness finds currency in your culture) if that woman was not a virgin. Tokens do not account for your actuality. These are inane “social points” you accumulate just by conforming with expectations. They are not about you as a person. They are about the performance of your avatar: the persona you put up while playing the role game.

As for pornography, I think it is as dehumanising as those expectations I already mentioned. People are reduced to sex dolls and the human body becomes yet another lucrative industry of inhuman, unscrupulous, exploitative capitalism. Same principle for many advertisements, movies, and other cultural artefacts that all hint at moral degradation. In this sense, you watching porn is essentially not different from you trying to conform with social norms where the actual humans do not matter. If you think that is not making you happy, which is a positive sign, then you should extend that feeling to all those seemingly innocuous beliefs about manhood, virginity, marriage, et cetera.

Try to quit porn and all bad habits as part of a transition to a balanced lifestyle. The best way to do that is to physically remove yourself from the place and/or objects that keep you in that loop. Go outside, read a book, do some actual bodybuilding—whatever it takes to focus your attention elsewhere. And always remember to treat others as fully fledged human beings, not as a piece of meat with a sexual organ attached to it.

Finally, we have to answer your question about motivating yourself. I think you will not find motivation without changing the fundamentals in your life. Don’t worry about finding a motive right now. There is no point in insisting on walking down a slippery slope. To revitalise yourself, you first need to take a step back and think critically about all those expectations that are now overwhelming you. Read what I shared here and try to take implement incremental reforms: one minute change at a time. Once you disentangle those thoughts, you will find a renewed energy to do the stuff you have the luck of being able to do. In other words, let the motivation build up organically as you detoxify yourself from false wants. You will find the motive when you discover yourself.