Reply to a disgruntled reader

Dear Nicole:

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have a number of responses, which I’ll get to in a moment, but first, I’m sorry that I make you cringe. I’m sorry that I offend you. I’m sorry that reading my thoughts makes you “squirmy… knowing that there are guys like [me] out there.” I’m not sure why you keep reading me, but if I make you feel those things, please, stop – I wish you no harm, and wish only to make people think, and, if they’re so inclined, to feel turned on. If this blog does something less pleasant to you, please don’t read it. Unless, for some reason, you want to feel those things.

Most of what you write, of course, is true: I am eager to engage. I am lonely. I do get intimacy, love, power, and sexual attraction confused. Sometimes I do write because I’m bored. Or feel shame. I don’t understand my place “in all of it,” and my “messy life and blog reflect that.” While I’m sorry this blog bothers you, I’m glad it effectively communicates all those truths.

And about loneliness: I once heard a terrific talk by, I think, Jack Kornfield, in which he described the durability of his loneliness. He talked about how he imagined that falling in love and having a family would somehow cure his lifelong loneliness, and how he came to understand that his loneliness was something he carried around inside him, something that seemed not to respond to outward connection. I’m that way. My life is big: I’m surrounded by people I love, and who love me. Family, friends, colleagues, members of any number of communities in which I participate. My loneliness persists, a chasm installed in me by my parents, who did their best, but who, inevitably, failed me in many ways.

I’ve written a lot over the years about why I write, what it does for me to share my thoughts and feelings here so honestly. And I’ve written many of those same thoughts you articulate, often in strikingly similar words.

A good thing about blogs is that they are voluntary, to readers: no one needs to read this. I don’t ask anyone to read it. Over the years, anywhere from 50 to 1000 people have visited this blog daily. On average, about 60% of the visitors on any given day are coming back, having been here before, wanting to read more. Something like 80-90% of my returning readers are women. The comment section of the blog is something like 80-90% favorable, I would estimate. Maybe a bit less so. I don’t say that as defense: I’m sure the vast majority of people in the world would hate what I write. And I’m sure that some portion of the folks who don’t return to the blog after visiting once or twice find me loathsome, as you do. That’s fine. I’m not seeking converts. I’m seeking to communicate, to expose, to explore, and yes, to medicate.

Some of what you write, alas, is simply wrong: the post I wrote, for example, about the Muslim woman and her shopping bag of underwear did not describe me getting turned on. If you read it, I think you’ll see that. It described my thoughts and emotions, which, in that case, were not particularly sexual. You write that I am “obviously not writing to a female audience.” As I just wrote, the vast majority of those who read this blog are female. I’ve met a number of women as a direct result of this blog – women who appreciate what I write, who are turned on by what I write. You, evidently, do not fall into that category. That’s ok.

I’m sorry that my writing reminds you of the painful and unpleasant reality you live every time you leave your apartment. But let’s stop for a moment and wonder about that, because I’m intrigued. I am not a guy who turns his head when an attractive woman passes. I don’t whistle, or catcall. I don’t, explicitly, sexualize women in non-sexual contexts. When I see a man do any of those things, I often communicate my disapproval explicitly. Not because I’m “woke,” but because I’m embarrassed for my gender 99% of the time.

My writing on this blog and the engagement I’ve had with readers has caused all sorts of change in my thoughts and life. I’ve come to understand a lot about the impact of my actions on others over the years, and I’ve apologized (privately and publicly) to women who’ve been impinged by my imperfect expressions of desire.

I’ve spent much of my adult life reconciling the twin realities that most women don’t want to be objectified by strangers most of the time and that I, at least, am a profoundly sexual being who responds sexually to most women (and to a lesser degree, to most men). And, that there are women who, in certain contexts, crave objectification. Consensual, respectful objectification. But objectification.

Like many of us, I feel a tremendous amount of free-floating, uninvited, sexual shame. I often am appalled by my thoughts, my feelings. I don’t imagine this distinguishes me from anyone who’s paying close attention to her or his thoughts and feelings.

What I try to do here, and, I think, I do so for the most part successfully, is to explore those parts of myself I find most confusing, unclear, uncomfortable, mysterious. I don’t make many of the claims your comment implies I make: I don’t think I’m “woke.” I don’t think I’m “normal” (whatever the fuck that is) or “healthy.” I think I’m human. What I do here is expose my humanity. I do that, as I said, for a whole lot of reasons. Including, to get attention and approval. And engagement.

It horrifies me that, inevitably, inescapably, I am condemned to perpetuating many of the ways in which male power affects women. If I could wave a magic wand and make it stop, I would. I can’t.

And a final thought. You write that I should “change therapists” if I’m not “getting to the bottom of [my] truth.” Maybe you and I have different concepts of “my truth.” My truth, and the very bottom of it, is, I think, richly on display here. I am a messy person. I hurt people, I make people feel good. I affect people consciously and unconsciously in all sorts of ways. I try to be good and, I imagine, I fail more often than I succeed. I don’t have a fantasy that I am, or could be, perfect. I try hard, though, and I don’t allow myself to stop trying hard. I constantly revisit opinions I hold, trying to upend them, to hold them more loosely. I try to understand things I don’t understand, and to imagine that I may not understand those things I think I understand.

You write that you’re “grossed out by the lack of awareness [I] show.” Ok….

I love writing. I love engaging. I love power. I love learning. I love sex. And I love connecting with people. It makes me feel whole. Even when, as with you, that connection is imperfect.

I wish you well, and I appreciate your thoughts. I hope I’ve satisfied – or at least addressed – your curiosity.

12 comments

  1. As one of those women who keep coming back, I can assure our reader that there are reasons. They are different now from when I began reading you, and my appearances are less frequent, as you surely notice.

    What I want to say, in case Nicole reads this, is that I found your blog by chance, looking for some guidance in my life (and I mean by chance, as I was not consciously looking for anything sexual, but rather to a possible meaning behind being stung by wasps; I know, seems incredible even to me!).

    What I found was what I needed then. Someone who showed me that being sexual was OK, and taught me (on and off blog) how to respect myself and my needs. Helped me explore them in some ways. And, seeing that he couldn’t help me in was I needed, but understanding my deep need to be heard, suggested I try blogging myself.

    Almost 5 years down the line, I thank you for having supported me in my dark hours, and respecting me the way you did, even when parts of it could have felt like rejection (which neither you nor I seem to particularly like 😉 ).

    My reading of your blog has changed, my writing has changed as well. I don’t read your sexy posts any more, I don’t write many myself. But I still appreciate and remember fondly the support and respect I found in you, a complete stranger, which I was realizing had never existed with the person who was supposed to love me.

    It would have been so easy for you to abuse a situation where I was so vulnerable, repeat the abuse I had suffered from for decades. Instead, you are one of the first men who showed me how to respect myself, kinks, needs and all.

    For that, I’ll be forever grateful.

    Since then, since I’ve become more secure in myself, my wants, my needs, I read you for your thoughtful insights into (one) man’s psyche. I have always been curious, and am glad to read from different points of views.

    So… thank you for being you, flaws and all. It allowed me to accept myself as me, flaws and all.

    XO

    1. Damn, woman. I’m moved! Thank you so much. It really means a lot to me.

      As I write, I really try hard to be good, and when something good comes of that – as I’ve seen in your writing, and your life, since we “met,” I feel really privileged.

      Thank you!

      1. Lol!
        I moved you! Didn’t expect that 😉

        But there is not a word I didn’t mean.( Except that I didn’t proofread and realize there are some typos… ugh! It obviously was YOUR reader, noticeD, and “help me in waYs”… )

        And let me repeat… thank YOU!
        You’re a good man Nick.
        XO

  2. Chiming in here as another female reader in case Nicole is still lurking…

    My reason for reading is different, and not as touching as Dawn’s, but wanted to share so that a) you can see that women DO read here and b) so that Nick will keep writing. 🙂

    I found Nick’s blog a few years ago through a friend, and now I have a circle of friends who read, dissect, & discuss his posts all the time. It’s my favorite guilty pleasure – a thrilling peek into someone else’s psyche. It’s like a really juicy novel that never ends.

    I love that he shares a kaleidoscope of emotions — and isn’t the mark of a great writer someone who shares all of their messy, dirty, dark & raw moments? I sure think so.

    1. Thanks so much, MC! I love the idea of a circle of friends reading, dissecting, and discussing what I wrote (and me). I mean, seriously, I LOVE that idea. It’s pretty close to the core fantasy I’ve written about. You know, except for the part where I’m there, and my cock is being sucked. But honestly, I’m happy just to be read and talked about. 😉

    2. This is a picture taken from a google search. This is not a real person. Either nick or a male reader moonlighting as a woman. This blog gets weirder and weirder.

      1. I love this obsession you have. It’s quite charming.

        So obviously, there’s nothing I can say that will reassure you, and I don’t particularly care. But. I will say the following:

        1) I did a google search of that image and I got nothing. So I’m curious what search you did, and what you came up with. Because if you’ve found a better search engine than I’ve found, I want to know about it.

        2) I’ll give you a little more information about this reader: I’ve tried a couple of times to transition her from being a reader of the blog to a contributor of material for it. She’s not responded to my attempts. She knows what she wants from me, and she gets 100% of it from reading the blog. Which, honestly, I respect. But I won’t stop, occasionally, reminding her that if she wants to have a drink, I’d love to buy her one. 😉

        3) I’m amused by the idea that either I or anyone else is investing energy in trying to fool you. You might get that checked out….

        Good luck, and keep on reading.

        N.

        1. Hear, hear Nick! 😀
          Obvioulsy Nicole has no idea that some people may prefer to keep a low profile, by putting, for example, a picture of the moon or of a wolf as a profile picture, or… why not, a picture found on the Internet…
          But putting so much effort in trying to disrupt your life… either she’s got a lot of time on her hands, she’s a jealous man posing as a woman, or she’s a robot. Maybe that’s it, she’s a robot! 😀
          Sigh!

          Enjoy your life Nicole, try to, it’s the only one you’ve got!

          1. Oh I’m a real woman. I matched with “N” on tinder and we chatted a bit before I read his blog and became turned off. He wanted to meet and I was down before reading these entries. I’m not offended as much as shocked someone thinks it’s healthy to have the feelings he does and express them in the way he does. It’s 2018, this sh$t is old.

          2. Oh I’m a real woman. I matched with “N” on tinder and we chatted a bit before I read his blog and became turned off. He wanted to meet and I was down before reading these entries. I’m not offended as much as shocked someone thinks it’s healthy to have the feelings he does and express them in the way he does. It’s 2018, this shtt is old.

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