Ask Max: Overcoming My Upbringing


So we’re back with another edition of Ask Max and we have another male reader question. We’ll call this guy Darius since I’m watching Love Jones while I’m writing this, and he’s having difficulty adjusting to his new-found freedom.

Ready? Let’s get to it.

Hi Max,

Male reader here, I find your candid posts a great read. Reason I’m writing is I grew up in a very serious religious family, with no sisters and under close family watch. Now that I’m in college a lot of the scrutiny has kind of loosened and I’m freer to approach girls and see what there is out there for myself.

Problem is, the upbringing remains in my head, and I find it nearly impossible to confidently express interest in a woman. And when I do, I’m shy about the fact that I find her physically attractive, almost ashamed, like she will laugh at me or something.

It works against the woman as well: I’m very intimidated by a girl who is at all overt about her physical interests and I’m surprised myself at how cold I become, or worse yet vindictive. I don’t want to be an emotionally distanced guy who just goes out with girls to impress his friends, that’s not who I am, but that means actually appreciating this aspect of a woman’s psyche, and it shouldn’t be any different from someone else’s. What’s your advice to overcome this intimidating sense that’s stopped my personal life from beginning well into college?

Fan and reader.

For some reason, this question reminds me a lot of Philip Larkin’s This Be The Verse. If you’re not familiar, it starts off like this:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Now I don’t know your life, but I can only assume your parents are at least in part responsible for the predicament you’re in. But that’s neither here nor there.

As far as I can see, you have two problems here. Number one is a lack of confidence, and that’s an easy one to get over. Like I said in this post and countless others, the key to building confidence is to fake it til you make it. You may feel shy or intimidated when you meet a woman you’re attracted to and that’s okay. As long as you don’t let her know it. You just channel your inner Kanye West (or whoever your favourite cocky bastard may be) and step to that girl as if it’s a foregone conclusion that she will want to get with you. As far as you’re concerned, you’re doing this bish a favour by even paying attention to her. Remember what I always tell you guys – women are lemmings and if you act like she just has to be with you, she’s more inclined to believe it. Just fake it til you make it. It’s as simple as that.

Now the other part of your problem is a bit more complex. But the advice is kind of the same. When I read it, I was reminded of a story my sister once told me about a dude she knew.

This guy was the ultimate commitment-phobe; the thought of being in any way obligated to a woman made him stabby. So he lived a happy bachelor life until he met a woman he couldn’t resist. From what I understand, she was everything he could have ever wanted in a woman and he just had to have her. But this chick wasn’t down for those fuzzy undefined non-relationships this guy specialized in so he had no choice but to step up and wife her.

At the time that my sister told me this story, the two of them had been together for years but the dude never went a single day without feeling overwhelmed by the fact that he was actually in a relationship. At some point of every day he felt caged, trapped, backed into a corner. At some point of every day he wanted to run for his life. But when he started to feel that way, he just reminded himself of how dope his girl is and all the ways in which he benefits from having her in his life and he reminded himself that being in a relationship was the only way to have her so there was nothing else he could do.

What this means for you is that when you start to feel cold or vindictive or disdainful or whatever of women who are overt about their physical desires, you kinda just need to get over it. You can’t help how you feel, but you can help your behaviour. If you don’t want to be the emotionally distanced guy, don’t be him. Simple as that. Force yourself to get past your hang ups and give these girls a chance, even if they make you feel some kind of way. Your opinion of them might change once you get to know them and maybe in time your distaste for this type of girl will dissipate. Or maybe it will solidify; but at least then you’ll know it’s legit and not just left over from your upbringing.

So that’s my advice, what say you readers? Weigh in with your advice in the comments.

bag lady. digital nerd. beauty junkie. shoe whore. i'm a sucker for big words and box-fresh kicks. know a little bit about a lot of things and have something to say about everything.

Comments 7

  1. I think this guy should spend sometime figuring out his sexuality. Something about this email/letter rubbed me the wrong way. He may need to hold off on just jumping right in and dating women and figure out how he wants to express himself sexually. He’s never done that before, there’s some value in not fooling with women until he’s sure.

    1. NinaFontaine says:

      I agree with Dr. J – I got the same feeling.

    2. GirlSixx says:

      Yeah it made me do the O__O face as well but for different reasons though.


      Welcome back Max!!

  2. GirlSixx says:


    This sentence right here >>>>> “And when I do, I’m shy about the fact that I find her physically attractive, almost ashamed, like she will laugh at me or something.

    I think him feeling intimidated is the least of his problems, the fact that he wrote he feels “almost ashamed” to find a woman physically attractive may speak volume about something else that WE aren’t privy to, I mean really yeah he never had any sisters but was he home schooled or attended an All Boy’s School, if not, then he should have had some interaction with females by now to the point he shouldn’t feel ashamed of finding her attractive.

    Max I dunno. *scratcheshead*

  3. i almost said something really mean. but then i caught myself. i hope things work out for you buddy.

  4. Malik says:

    Intense therapy dude. You seem to have deep seated issues and they should be addressed prior to engaging in any type of relationship with a woman.

  5. LushLife says:

    I grew up in a very religous home, to be honest it was a cult. So I understand where he is coming from. I think the being ashamed part is you are taught that lustful feelings are wrong and feeling them is bad. Just know this those feeling aren’t bad you aren’t going to hell becuase you feel that way and you aren’t a bad person.

    With that out of the way. I say just talk to girls, girls in your class, girls you aren’t attracted to, girls in your dorm. So you can get use to being around and talking to girls, so you can see its not that bad. Even if they don’t want to talk to you being rejected is apart of life that we have all experienced.

    You won’t know how someone will react to you if you never talk to anyone.

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