Dateless-Man vs. Youthful Cartoon Crushes

Working from home, stressing about housing court and of course, Covid-19 have really sucked what little life there was out of this blog, and I guess my life. I haven’t had as much time or will for articles, and 2020 so far is shaping up to be my most scarce year ever. Which would stink, since this past July was my 6th anniversary doing this blog. Six long years. A part of me admires the dedication to this blog, the people who read get some enjoyment or fulfillment from it, and the self-perspective and analysis I have gained from it. Another part of me wonders how things would have gone had I just doggedly tried OkCupid or PlentyOfFish more since 2014. Now, of course, with everything shut down and a handicapped mother to fear getting sick, dating is done.

But, enough about the grim present. Let’s focus on the nostalgic past! This is actually the post I would have written last time, if my only online romance guru hadn’t have gone and admitted to being a creeper back in June. Back in May, I had a discussion with one of this blog’s commentors and the conversation led towards crushes on cartoon heroines. Although the conversation led somewhere I wasn’t willing to go — living vicariously through an imaginary fictional girlfriend, basically — it did get me thinking about where my fundamentals of attraction came from. I’ve written articles based on chats with this blog’s dedicated readers before; where else would I have gotten my “Top 10 Flaws & Strengths” articles from?

Now I suppose someone may ask: “how far into your own lack of a love life’s past can you go, Dateless-Man?” And my answer is, far enough so that I can break the space/time continuum, visit myself in my youth and tell myself to date more, therefore ensuring that in at least one timeline, I became somebody’s boyfriend. Besides, until there’s a Covid vaccine, the present isn’t about to get any sexier. And in terms of sex appeal, I’d have to work my way up to ALF.

As a caveat, I’d like to preface it to say that despite the title, there were no long term “fantasies” involving any of these characters. There were no fan arts, no shrines, and no naughty dreams. I seemed to always know the difference between animation and real life, even as a kid when I watched nothing but animation. The girls and women I would dream about were either ones I knew in real life, or most often, ones created by my own imagination. However, I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit there weren’t some animated girls/women I “attached” to a little as I grew up. For all I know, they could have helped shape the qualities that I find attractive in women now. After all, when I was a kid and teen watching cartoons, I still had hope.

Without giving away my age specifically, my memories began in the early to mid 1980’s. One of the first handful of cartoons I remember attaching to during my pre-kindergarten (or “pre-K”) years was Inspector Gadget, and that means the female character who made an impression on me at my youngest was Penny (or Penny Gadget as she’s informally known). The original series ran for 2 seasons from 1983-1986 on broadcast syndication and has remained in circulation on some channel more or less ever since. The niece of the title character, she was voiced in the first season by Cree Summer (in her first role) and in the second by Holly Berger.

Penny was hardly the first notable heroine in animation during this time. Other examples include Teela from He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, Firestar from Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends, the titular heroine She-Ra, the girls from Jem & the Holograms, Scarlett and Baroness from G.I. Joe, and Cheetara on Thundercats. And for weirdos, Smurfette from The Smurfs, or even Cleo from Heathcliff for the furries. But for whatever reason it was Penny that first stuck with me, and I’ve never quite figured out why. Now, remember, at the time I wouldn’t have even been in first grade yet, so technically Penny was an “older” kid at the time.

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That may have been one of the reasons why Penny did make an impression, though. Unlike the others, who were all either teenagers or adult women, Penny was a kid, like me. She was older but still a kid. And she didn’t have any combat skills or super-powers, or dressed in an unrealistic outfit. Penny was super-smart, brave, and resourceful, and had many skills, but she wasn’t a martial arts master or a warrior. And while she did get imperiled a lot, most times she got out of it herself. Besides, at the time (and even today), Penny was very unique. She may have been a cute pig-tailed blonde, but she dressed like a tomboy — right down to patches on the knees of her pants. No dresses or bows for her, or pink of any kind, even. Yet she was also a computer genius who didn’t look the part; and trust me, in the 80’s, “dork” characters were usually easy to spot design wise. Maybe to pre-K me, Penny was “realistic” for a cartoon girl and reflected qualities I liked.

After 1987-1988, though, my child life was almost completely dominated by one franchise: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That thing hit like a truck full of surfer catch phrases, half-shelled heroes and pizza and few kids realized how big it would get. It was the top of the heap for kids media for at least 4-5 prime years until 1992-1993, when things started to wane (and it faced stiffer competition). And even then, the original cartoon still lasted 10 seasons, 7 of which were on CBS. The show ran so long that in the last seasons in 1996-1997, characters started using “the Internet.”

And of course you can’t have the Ninja Turtles without April O’Neil. Voiced by Renae Jacobs, her animated appearance comes with a bit of history. She, like the rest of the Ninja Turtles, were based on comics from Mirage Studios circa 1984. In those, April was originally heavily implied to be a woman of color. The interior art was black and white, but many of the issue covers made it more obvious. She was based on the then-girlfriend of co-creator Kevin Eastman, who was Asian. But the cartoon made her (and villain Baxtor Stockman) Caucasian, and then from then on reprints of the original comics sort of amended that. Considering how popular April became with boys, I always wondered what would have happened if she’d remained a woman of color in the ’87 cartoon.

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At any rate, unlike Penny there’s no deep rooted mystery as to why I attached to her at the time. As the female lead of the biggest franchise around, it was impossible not to attach to her. I imagine for some kids, the skin tight yellow jumpsuit and red hair helped. Her design was inspired by Fujiko Mine from the Lupin the Third franchise, who wore stuff like that all the time. However, it’s still an odd outfit for a TV reporter! Speaking of which, in the original comics she was a lab assistant, whereas in the cartoon she was an anchorwoman and also got imperiled a lot. Unlike Penny, despite being an adult (in her mid 20’s if I recall one line properly), she had to be rescued almost all the time.

As a kid, April was essentially the damsel in distress; she was pretty and an adult and a key bit of exposition within the franchise. She still bravely ventured towards danger, even if it almost always led to her capture. On rare occasions she helped save the day, and at least often gathered info for the Turtles, or was their main contact with the human world. There’s some subtext there that I missed as a kid but saw on a rewatch years ago. Her boss at Channel 6, Burne Thompson, is kind of a gruff creep who dates a woman half his age who clearly hired April for her looks, and would get irritated when she insisted on being a journalist. One episode even has April stress once her contract is up, because she doubts Burne will rehire her. And her snooty co-worker Vernon Fenwick is always trying to one-up her or get her fired, or demoted, despite being a coward. By the end of the series, April becomes an “independent freelance journalist,” not beholden to one network, and she ditched the yellow jumpsuit.

Ironically, while I had no interest in April’s pal Irma (the secretary at Channel 6) as a kid, she definitely is a character who is more amusing if you rewatch when older. Despite her homely fashion, cave-woman hairstyle and thick glasses, she was very thirsty. She’d flirt with anyone, get jealous anytime April or any other woman got more attention than her (even as a hostage) and got misty eyed anytime she even talked about men. It didn’t matter if they were humans, mutants, aliens, or even robots. It’s very funny. And the show never “cheated” and ever claimed Irma was “Hollywood homely.” They never had that moment where she took off the glasses and pony-tail strap and suddenly she was a model. Nope, not even when she got zapped by rays and briefly became “Super-Irma,” she always looked the same.

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But, April and the Ninja Turtles had plenty of rivals. I’d be less than honest if I didn’t give a mention to Lydia Deetz, the pre-teen goth girl from 1989’s animated Beetlejuice animated series. Voiced by Alyson Court (also from Big Comfy Couch), the cartoon was based on Tim Burton’s classic 1988 film of the same name, and was so popular that at one point during its 4 season run it was airing on ABC and Fox virtually at the same time. It aired on Fox during weekdays and on ABC Saturday morning, which is nuts. Pale, with black hair, a tunic ripped off Spider-Man’s back, and thick purple eye-shadow, she may have been many a boy’s introduction to “goth girls” at the end of the 80’s. In fact the weirdest thing about the show was Lydia’s relationship with Beetlejuice.

In the film, Lydia’s a teenager (played by the then-18 Winona Ryder) and Beetlejuice attempts to marry her. Yet in the cartoon, Lydia’s in middle school and is merely “good friends” with Beetlejuice. Such good friends that Beetlejuice often calls her “babe” and they celebrate anniversaries (and at times treat a brief end of their “friendship” as if it were a break-up). And more than one Netherworld being tries to marry her. Regardless, no matter how gross, ugly, lazy, and mean-spirited Beetlejuice often was, Lydia was nearly devoted to him for three reasons. He accepted her as she was, he often would aid her in her own revenge schemes against either her parents or her snooty classmates, and he could always make her laugh. As “the class clown,” a part of me always liked that last part.

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However, by 1992-1993, my interest in Ninja Turtles was starting to wane. I was growing up and better, more serious cartoons were hitting the small screen. The first among them which caught my eye were another team of mutants, the X-Men. Based off the popular comic book and hitting Fox only about 3 years after NBC passed on a pilot, it plastered Jim Lee’s costume designs all over TV screens and action figure aisles. Although the team are called the “X-Men,” about half the team are women, and the one who caught my attention was Rogue (voiced by Lenore Zann). Clearly a product of the 1980’s, Rogue combined super-strength and nigh invulnerability with a sassy Southern attitude and her curse of being unable to touch anyone. I suppose it may not shock people that an older male virgin would attach to a character like that.

Unlike those other heroines, there was more genuine angst and tragedy to Rogue. It was clear that if left to her own devices, she was a confident woman who would have a healthy love life. But the same powers she relied on every day kept her from touching anyone without killing them (or risking their psyche and powers bonding to her forever). She wasn’t always a bundle of sadness, but now and then it would hit her, and she would consider, say, a “cure.” Unfortunately, I can’t say I ever connected to Gambit, her self proclaimed immortal lover. Sometimes he’d ware her down and other times she was as annoyed by him as I was. He was like a spandex clad, trench coat wearing Pepe LePew with five o’clock shadow. Besides, what competition in the “lady” department did Rogue have? Jean Grey shifted between delivering exposition and screaming. Jubilee (also voiced by Alyson Court) was usually annoying. And Storm often spouted haughty, melodramatic weather-related dialogue which was so bonkers that it’d make Thor blush. At any rate, it was that mixture of assertive sass with deep seeded vulnerability which likely helped me attach to Rogue as a kid. And no, the spandex didn’t hurt.

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By now there were tons of quality cartoons on the air. Batman: the Animated Series was arguably the king of the heap with plenty of cool characters of both sexes. The irony is that unlike some other franchises, I was already well aware of Batman and his cast due to the syndication of the 1966 TV show. And there was Gargoyles, which is still awesome, but as a kid for whatever reason I didn’t watch the show as often as I should have. But if we’re talking about lady cartoon characters I attached to as a kid for reasons, then it’s Felicia Hardy (voiced by Jennifer Hale) from 1994’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Hardy, as the Black Cat, was a longtime character from Spidey’s comics, but the version from the cartoon was almost a new character. A wealthy trust fund youth, she was initially interested in the jock Flash Thompson before growing closer to Peter Parker, and ultimately his alter-ego, Spider-Man.

In the comics, of course, Spidey’s true love is Mary Jane Watson. In the cartoon, though, Mary Jane went through all sorts of weird stuff, such as being banished to another dimension, cloned, and mingled with Hydro-Man’s DNA as a clone. It was Felicia who made a stronger impression as she went from a spoiled little rich girl to someone who grew to appreciate others, and ultimately became Spidey’s partner (and briefly lover) as the Black Cat (whose origin was mixed with Captain America’s for some reason). Whenever Spider-Man was going through something really rough, Felicia, or Black Cat, was always there. She wasn’t just someone he fought for; she could often fight with him. Her only demerit was getting intertwined with Morbius the Living Vampire, who sucked. Fox’s censors had so neutered the science vampire that he was essentially an angst ridden variant of Count Chocula. It certainly was fun when Hale got to reprise the role for a Spider-Man game from the original PlayStation 1! Although not as tragic as Rogue, Felicia did have pain in her life and went through more of a journey than April did.

As the 1990’s ended I was getting older, going to high school and all that, and I was mostly weening myself off of broadcast network cartoons to obsess about Japanese anime for a while. Nowadays, comics and anime are fairly mainstream, but in the late 90’s it was still niche territory (or “only for kids”). There were still plenty of fodder for Saturday mornings, but the last cartoon which had female characters that “connected” to me when I was still young enough to be impressionable was 2000’s X-Men: Evolution on Kid’s WB. It really was a “crossroads” kind of show. Production would have begun in 1999, and it debuted at the start of the 21st century as Fox’s “X-MEN” film became a hit. As such there were design and plot elements which seemed to represent the end of the 90’s and the start of a new era no animator could entirely predict.

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By the year 2000 I was in my late teens, finishing high school and beginning the shift to college. And the last two animated heroines who made any impression on me while I was still technically a juvenile were in some ways “back to the future.” They also represented the archetypes of the sorts of girls I was attracted to at the time. A new incarnation of X-Men meant a new incarnation of Rogue, this time voiced by Meghan Black. She was a teenager like most of the cast, and this time redesigned as a goth. Pale skin, dark or odd clothing, and more angst ridden than flirty.

Alongside her was a longer term X-Men member who finally got a chance to be a regular, Kitty Pryde/Shadowcat, voiced by Maggie Blue O’Hara. Kitty was the exact opposite of Rogue; perky, upbeat, optimistic, and with endless “Valley Girl” lingo. And as I said, they were essentially the animated avatars of the sorts of young women I usually crushed on during my social life at school. I either liked happy-go-lucky upbeat balls of energy who I imagined could get me out of my shell like Kitty, or edgy fringe-crawling goths like Rogue who would hang back with me and mock the “norms” with me in between sharing our traumas. At the time I’d become well know for wearing a black leather trench-coat and steel toed boots, even during the summer, and acting “too cool for school” to mask my crippling insecurity. It never worked.

So, what did we learn from this? About the only thing all of these characters had in common was being smart, and fighting bad guys. Many of them were career driven, confident, and often were driven to excel in worlds dominated by men (even if a few of them were often saved by men). I wasn’t obsessed with any of them and I certainly don’t wish to live vicariously through any now, even if I can understand the power of imagination to get one through the day. It was fun to revisit this, if only to remember a more innocent time in my life where I still had a shred of hope for a better day. I doubt I’m the only American dude who “noticed” some heroines in animated form, even to a minor degree, as he grew up.

It’d be nice to have some genuine experience to compare a lot of the imagination to. But, those who can’t do, teach, and those who can’t teach, blog. At least I got to treat an article here a little bit like the day-to-day geek articles that I write in my alter ego, much like when I discussed The Mask or reviewed “The 40 Year Old Virgin.” Thanks for reading, everyone. Maybe next time it’ll be something deeper or bleaker. And hopefully I can get in at least enough posts here to match 2019!

 

 

About that one Dating Guru I (sort of) Listened To…

The topic of this post would have been different, but events took a slight turn and I couldn’t avoid it. Most of this was because I’d included the links to a particular dating website guru often enough that I could almost be considered an ad-man for him, even when I frequently disagreed with him about his opinions about older virgins. Or after I was banned from his main forum for, as far as I can figure, having less “tolerance” for drug users than the site’s philosophy preached.

Time for a recap. Every few years in my attempt to sort out my feelings about being single, lonely, and a virgin, I would seek out either advice or kindred spirits online. This first began in college (when, ironically, the idea of reaching age 21 as a virgin was seen as “doomsday”) when I would email the Playboy Advisor and joined my first forum about this stuff at the (now defunct) About.com. It continued sporadically every few years after college, especially after I turned 30 (and then past-30). The problem is the internet is full of snake oil salesmen posing as dating coaches, especially for “late blooming” (or insecure) men. Many of them may peddle a few nuggets of worthwhile advice wrapped in heaps of negative stereotypes, aggressive tactics or just plain old hokum (or B.S. for those of you who, unlike me, like using slang which is less than 80 years old). Many of these self proclaimed gurus treat “The Game,” the book that founded the pick-up artist scene, as their Bible.

For the record, there are women who also peddle dating advice for men, but there don’t seem to be as many of them online, or they advertise their wares less aggressively. After all, most of the “gurus” are really out to peddle books/CD’s/webinars/coaching etc. And it’s rarely cheap.

Around 2014-2015 (which was around when I began this blog, July 2014) I stumbled upon Doctor Nerdlove, a.k.a. Harris O’Malley (ak.a. DNL). He wrote one of his frequent articles about older virgins and I started “lurking” (or reading). A reformed Pick-Up Artist (PUA) who claims to have been a “late bloomer” because he didn’t have sex until he was 19 (seriously), he has long sought to recreate his image and men’s dating advice upon realizing the PUA stuff got him laid but made him miserable. He’s been running his website since 2011 but likely wasn’t able to earn his primary living at it until years later. His angle is usually to extract the positive kernels from PUA with a more liberated (or “woke”) approach which focused on building a positively genuine self image, relating to the feelings of other people, and being open minded. At the start you could argue he was PUA-Lite (since “working out” was still a major focus for him until 2015-2016 ish) but ever since he focused more on curing what was between men’s ears, not what was in their pants.

His articles and advice columns often helped me rethink some of my own memories, perspective, and philosophy. Releases such experiences from the deep pits of denial with this blog helped, but DNL was often a tool for my path towards self discovery. However, DNL was rarely shy about the idea that he’d been a jerk and an a-hole during his PUA days, and likely mistreated or manipulated more than one woman into bed. His views on cheaters, which usually advocated forgiveness for all but the worst offenders, often put him at odds with his own audience. He also is a heavy advocate of polygamy, because that’s what he and his wife practice. As such, in an era where the transgressions of predatory, creepy, or even moderately sleazy men get exposed online, I was surprised that a former pub-crawler turned advice guru hadn’t ever had such a past pop up. A part of me thought that he practiced what he preached, especially in relation to apologies; keep them private and don’t make them “about you, but the victim.”

So, imagine my surprise when I checked his website late last week and found this. To summarize, a guru who often railed against public attention grabbing apologies was making one himself. One of his dalliances had come back to haunt him, but it wasn’t one from his self-admitted sleazy past pre-2011. Instead it was from 2017, a time when DNL was already a full-time dating coach who was a sporadic guest at comic book conventions (specifically, Emerald Con). That was also the year I received a permanent ban (described as “a very long vacation”) from his site (and moderator) for far less grievous offenses. It seems that at the Emerald Con in ’17, DNL came onto a fellow guest panelist/booth person at a hotel bar and, feeling a good “vibe,” flirted with her. His own personal style is a give-and-take, push-and-pull back and forth banter which probably can be misunderstood unless you’re very very good at it (or find a very receptive partner). The woman in question, in particular, asked him not to tug her hair as some sort of playful gesture; he did anyway. Her mood changed and he ended his efforts. Later on in 2018 a “mutual friend” told him that the woman felt violated by his efforts, and DNL issued an email apology. DNL even had that pal “shadow” him at the 2018 Emerald Con to make sure he didn’t “act up” again. This past February, DNL heard the woman got his apology but was far from forgiving and wanted nothing further to do with him.

Quite why, then, that DNL waited 4 months to make this public is unknown. He frequently makes posts preaching male behavior every time some well known men in geek circles are “exposed” as sexually aggressive creeps. Almost exactly a week before, DNL made one of those figures, Warren Ellis — the writer of a comic he likes, Transmetropolitan — the centerpiece of such an article. Ironically, it focused on removing problematic men from their art. Considering that DNL’s moderate Internet empire has branched out considerably since 2017 — he’s written a few books and his posts appear on Patreon, Kotaku, Good Men Project, UExpress, and his videos average 2,000-5,000 views on his YouTube channel — perhaps this was an attempt at damage control from a ticking time bomb. He’s sought to use the incident as a “behavior modeling moment,” but I can’t help but be reminded of sanctimonious preachers who then beg forgiveness when they’re exposed as a cheater, or a drug user, or a pedophile. Granted, DNL’s transgression is nowhere that severe, but the self serving presentation is similar.

O’Malley is usually open minded towards the people who write to him for advice, but he is often big on reading people and not pushing boundaries (especially when the other party clearly establishes one). It seems DNL, at least once, did not take his own advice. I mean, I may be a lonely virgin whose views about drug users were once unfairly compared to “reefer madness,” but even I know not to do something to a woman she directly says not to do, especially to her body. And (outside of a strict BSDM routine), how the hell is a hair-tug “playful?” I also found it ironic that my moderate forum transgression, where I neither insulted or belittled or even cursed, earned me a lifetime ban, while DNL is begging his audience for forgiveness for doing what a forum member would be banned for admitting.

No one is perfect. Lord knows I’m not. There are many things I’ve not done that I am not proud of. When I was 12 and in the midst of being bullied in junior high, part of how I won over my tormentors was by insulting someone else for their bemusement; a girl. My own sense of shame and self hatred for that, in some form, remains. But I certainly am not someone who preaches about being “a good man” for a living and then deliberately crosses a line, no matter how slight, with a woman at a bar at a con. Maybe people would be best served to realize that comic conventions are essentially business conferences and not to mix them with too much pleasure. And while I never considered Doctor Nerdlove a perfect role model, or a role model at all, he was the only ‘net guru I gave the time of day to. And now he’s done something which has disappointed me, and likely a chunk of his audience. He’s also given ammunition to the “incel Men’s Rights Activists” who avidly troll him.

Also, you know how I and many men in my situation are overly shy and cautious? And how we usually buck when DNL and others give us, essentially, the same advice that Miss Frizzle from THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS gives in relation to dating — “Get messy! Make mistakes!” Well, for me, it’s because the last thing I want to do is put a woman through even 10% of what this lady experienced, even by accident.

I’m well into my 30’s and too old to be shattered by someone whose jargon I read (and reflect on, and often criticize) proving to be human and having sinned. But it does feel a bit like peeking behind a set at Disneyworld and seeing Micky Mouse performer take off his head and snort a line of cocaine. It’s shatters the illusion at an unexpected moment.

And to think, people thought we’d have cities on the moon in 2020. Instead it’s come out like this. It’s all moot since no one is casually dating in the era of Covid-19, but it was all I could come up with to post about before July.

Hope everyone else is safe out there, wearing a mask, and washing your hands. I know I am. In more ways than one.

Dateless-Man vs. Covid-19: A (Dating) Apocalypse!?

Boy, things sure changed since Leap Day 2020, haven’t they?

For those who may have just emerged from hibernation or alien abduction, the world has currently been ravaged by a virus dubbed Covid-19, which is thousands of times deadlier than the flu and arguably more transmissible. America in general, and my home state of New York in particular, has been hit hard. More people have died of this virus in the last 4-5 months than who died in the Vietnam War (which took about 19 years). It has led to lockdowns, shutdowns, layoffs, and obligatory face-masks in public, among other things.

Now for the facts. Neither I nor my handicapped mother, to the best of our knowledge, have been infected. I did have a very nasty cold in February; whether it was Covid-19 or just a particularly nasty flu bug or so on is unknown. Unlike many others, as of this writing I haven’t been laid off or fired from my job. It’s considered an “essential business,” and after a lot of delay and drama I have been working from home for the last 2 weeks. I was among the last 6 employees in my section who had been venturing to the office since mid-March. I have now been at this “new job” for about 1.5 years; it feels like a milestone since I hadn’t been at a job beyond 11 months since 2017. This, in addition to internet woes, is the bulk of the reason why 2 months have passed between installments.

The only positive angle is that the Covid-19 crisis has essentially delayed the housing court eviction trial. It’s been adjourned twice since March, and that may continue into August for all we know. Evictions in NY state have been suspended until at least that month. So, isn’t it great when something terrible is derailed by something worse?

That and I feared seeming trivial, even on my own blog. To some this seems highly neurotic. To these people, I would state, “Have you not been following along since summer 2014?” But, to answer this neurosis, I offer this disclaimer. In no way do I seek to trivialize the pain, suffering, and sorrow that this time has brought. In the grand scheme of things, being an eternally single older virgin is a mere inconvenience in comparison. However, this is not a political blog, and I certainly have feelings related to its topic due to this era.

Among the many after effects of Covid-19 and the various local and state governors’ responses to it is that it has essentially and all but effectively shut down casual dating. Or virtually all dating, really. Married people or couples living under the same roof are fine, and essentially are stuck together. They’re either boinking like rabbits or counting down the days until divorce lawyers’ offices reopen. For everyone else, though, it’s a Herculean challenge. Some, like Dr. Nerdlove, have suggested “virtual dating” via Zoom or FaceTime or Skype in order to compensate. I am personally impressed that some, especially “DNL”, have jumped on the bandwagon within less than 60 days. He in particular has hosted “webinars” about the tricks and virtues of virtual dating, as if anyone knows how this crisis will end or has any real facts behind them about how effective anything is. I imagine if this stretches out another 4-6 months, another book will be forthcoming. It’d have to be; all of his previous books are as useless as a bikini in Antarctica so long as the virus surges — and maybe for a year or so beyond.

I can imagine that for some pre-existing couples who were already dating for some length of time but were not yet living together, “virtual dating” to maintain things long distance is a useful strategy. At least in the short term it’ll keep some of that magic alive, and in fairness, the technology to really do this beyond letters or phone calls has really only been readily available within the last 10-15 years. But for single people? All “virtual dating” would do is increase the odds of being “Catfished,” or having porn or other embarrassing images and texts circulated online if things go sour (or you found a sadist). Most importantly, all that would do is string along the initial phase where everything seems hunky dory online until is comes time to meet and either someone flakes or there is the realization from at least one party within 5 seconds of meeting that there is no physical chemistry and dating is impossible. Normally this might be sorted out in a week, or even 24-48 hours. Nowadays, virtual dating would drag this out to weeks or months, which is stupid. Anyone can seem appealing online. I could seem appealing online. It’s the “meatspace” where it counts.

Frankly, if I were a dating guru (and if I was, holy Hanna, have things become a Stay Puff Marshmallow Man style disaster), I would not be telling single people to be courting online for months or so on. I would be telling them the same thing most “experts” told me; it’ll happen when it happens, so chill out and have perspective. Many people are freaking out over the idea of, gasp, possibly going a few months or even a year or two without sex. I could (and have) done that on my head. While I can attest how much that can stink, I can also attest that there is worse to live through, and that with some perspective it’s possible to do stuff in the meanwhile. The studs, the jocks, the biker gang members, the couch surfing musicians, they’re all in my world now. How’re them apples?

Of course, there are some lamentations and regrets. Even if the various shutdowns ended tomorrow, the scars of Covid-19 will linger. If one was to date, where to go? Most mass social events like bars, clubs, concerts, arcades, museums, art galleries, even restaurants are closed or can’t occupy people. Public parks and beaches are even closed. Most people would hesitate to ditch the masks and gloves or touch a total stranger for a while, and understandably so. Until there is a functional vaccine that either prevents Covid-19 or treats it, I doubt many of those events could begin, or most people would be comfortable at them; at least in NY. I can’t attest for states where the family trees barely forked anyway. And such a vaccine is 1-2 years away, at best.

The cynic in me isn’t surprised that all this happened around when I wrote a post even entertaining the idea of diving back into online dating. Things are so rough that not even seeking out a prostitute to finally make a man of me is a viable thing right now; even Las Vegas is shut down. There were many times, including on this blog, where I wished the desire for human companionship or even physical lust would end or become officially impossible. I suppose this would be the point where Rod Serling emerges and tells me to be careful what I wish for. For many of those forced into romantic isolation, they can at least sustain themselves of memories from better times. I can’t, because there were none. Even in those fanciful past days of January 2020 when people could frolic outside safely, I was as untouched as a grilled steak at a vegan convention. The odds of becoming a real life “40 year old virgin” have increased astronomically even though such a fate isn’t official until 2022 anyway.

There will be an aftermath, but what will it look like? This is a generational crisis, much like the Great Depression or disco once were. Assuming it ends and we don’t all wind up starring in an unintentional live action roleplay of of “I AM LEGEND,” the dating world will be shaped a bit by memories of this even after the lockdowns fade. Some of them may be a boon, and others a bane. But, they go with the caveat that I would probably remain untouched even if I walked naked into a women’s prison.

One boon is that the “social expectation” of “casual touching”, such as hand holding, forearm touching or even small-of-the-back patting which normal people barely even think about won’t be quite as mandatory. Under normal circumstances if I was on a date with a woman and I said, “I can’t read signals, is it okay if I touched your hand to signify unity and a romantic high point during the climax of this next anecdote?” or at least acted as if I were about to do this, I would be seen as a neurotic freak. However, after the covid crisis, even the palmy “hornivores” may be reluctant to touch a total stranger so easily. My shy refusal to go for a hand or so on may not be seen as evidence that I am an unappealing drip, but merely that I am “still nervous about the virus.” It might even be a more common thing! All it would take is a global pandemic to make me more hip!

(Of course there may be those who suggest that a more honest approach in theory could be acceptable. That saying to a woman, “Full disclosure, I’m shy and haven’t dated much but I really like you, would it be cool if I tapped your forearm casually or something like a normal person might?” is the sort of thing that is at least honest and “adorkable” and that somehow making yourself more vulnerable than you have to be to a stranger tests moral character. To them I would say that even being “adorkable” requires being at least physically cute, and that most women do not find vulnerability in men sexually appealing unless he is the size of a wrestler. “It was at that moment of peak patheticness that I decided to kiss him,” said no woman ever. Some would say, “A woman who rejects you for being genuinely vulnerable and honest isn’t the right one for anyway.” I would respond that such people don’t speak for me, and that I am in no position to reject any remotely viable options, or did you miss that article where I wondered if it were okay if I had no choice but to sleep with a “dumpster fire personality” if it was my only choice? It’s easy to hold out for quality when you’ve gotten some once; not so much if you’ve never been good enough for anyone.)

Another boon is that the “courting” phase, of interactions before any physical stuff is expected, may go up and this means a chance to “get around” the lack of physical chemistry. While immediate physical lust is a thing, according to theory, people fall for personalities more than looks. That could be an advantage to those who rely more on wordplay than chiseled abs, or at least look like we’re willing to wash our hands a lot. Perhaps a more shy and inexperienced man at least has less risk of carrying Covid-19 from his other dozen lovers that month.

The biggest bane, of course, is risk. People are worrying about more than STD’s; there is no way to have genuine sexual intercourse and protect against Covid-19. I may be young and healthy enough that it is unlikely to kill me, but my mother is not. She is old and ill enough that it likely would be fatal if she got it. Even if lockdowns end and so on, until a covid vaccine is as common as one for measles, how many of us are willing to risk our lives or those we love just to get laid? As badly as I want to no longer be a virgin, am I willing to risk my life or especially my mother’s life just to finally end my shame? No, I am not. It’s a horrible choice to make, but life is full of those.

Perhaps the biggest wild card is how people react once those shutdowns end, a vaccine at least seems to be in the foreseeable future and rates of infections and death drop? One reaction could be a similar one to the “sexual revolution” where weeks, if not months or even years of unexpected mass celibacy creates such a lust overload that standards loosen a bit. Contrary to what some men think, women get just as horny and “Marvel Cinematic Universe on Disney+ with a Vibrator” only compensates so long. Perhaps the allure of a reasonably intelligent and not insane or obviously terrible dude like me will suddenly become more appealing in an era where everyone is ready to gasp at a strong wind. Sure, she could hold out for a better man on her feed (i.e. anyone else), but here I am now. She could take more time to try to find Mr. Right or settle, at least for the moment, with Mr. Acceptable. I’ll never be Mr. Right for someone; if I were I would genuinely be concerned for their mental state or visual capability. But Mr. Acceptable? Baby, I was born to be a place holding milquetoast with a few witty lines! After months of staring at four walls and a cat, even a loser like me might seem comparatively more interesting, especially if she was already climbing those walls.

After all, some could say the concept that dating is a life-risking affair is nothing new for women. They’re statistically far more likely to be abused, assaulted, or killed by a man they know even casually than men are, and are more at risk of averse effects from STD’s. Even a pregnancy, statistically, is possibly fatal to a woman (especially in America, which lags behind Europe medically). The virus makes this risk higher, but some might say all Covid-19 has done is make men hesitate as much before casual sex as women already do.

The other reaction, though, could be the exact opposite. With casual sex becoming a literal life-risking affair, that could make everyone more discerning than they are now. If even holding the wrong person’s hand could lead to getting sick or accidentally exposing a vulnerable relative, it may seem counter-productive to risk it on anyone who isn’t checking off all those boxes. After all, everyone will have learned that mass celibacy is not fatal and may be more willing to wait for a better and more ideal match regardless of “urges” than they were before. If that was the reaction, then I am doomed. I never checked off those boxes before sex became a pandemic defying affair. I am not reaching such a higher bar under more pressure afterward. Under this outcome, the notion of a woman being willing to risk the immediate health of herself and her family just because she somehow found me attractive enough to want to touch shifts closer into the realm of science fiction.

I could accept a woman choosing me because she is horny enough after quarantine to straddle a rocking chair, and at least I have moving arms. But assuming one came out of quarantine and insisted she found me special enough that she is willing to risk her life to touch me, I would never believe it. In fact, I’d find the entire notion completely insane. I’m not even worth covering my side of a fast food tab, at least not sexually. Anyone who didn’t see that is too deluded for me to consider taking advantage of. I suppose a blunt shrink might argue that my biggest problem is I am most accepting of women who share the same low opinion of myself as I do, rather than risk dating one who had a higher one out of fear of being wrong (or realizing most of my singleness was self-inflicted and all I had to do was get out of my own way). But that realization wouldn’t change anything, and a positive romantic experience for me is still just as realistic as meeting a vampire.

In the meanwhile, during this crisis, I wouldn’t advocate any fake virtual dates for singles. I’d suggest everyone take a page from us rare few rational virgins and take a chill pill. No one ever died from being single, and being single is a chance for self discovery. I discovered that I liked being a nerd and a geek, and aside for the part where it makes me unappealing to women I wouldn’t want to be any other way. You can’t have everything in life.

I do regret never having had a romantic relationship before now, when it got more complicated for everyone. As much self discovery as I have gained blogging here for almost 6 years, a part of me wonders if spending that time on OKCupid just grinding it out may have yielded better results. But, we don’t get do-overs in life and if it really is over, at least now I can genuinely blame something external. Being a loser may have made my love life sick, but it was Covid-19 that killed it!

Hope everyone else is staying sheltered and safe, and thanks for reading if you are. For now, and maybe forever if this bug endures, I remain the Dateless-Man.

Whatever Would I put in a Dating Profile, Anyway!?

This is one of those rare articles where I didn’t put in a versus theme in the title. It happens from time to time. Sometimes they don’t seem organic and sometimes I like to mix things up a bit. The genesis of it stems from The Tick cartoon from 1994-1996 on FoxKids, which was always a favorite of mine. I know I’d written that before, but since it may have literally been years ago, it doesn’t hurt to restate it. Much like my nom de plume of “Dateless-Man” stemming from a comic strip I once considered writing and drawing in college which would have been a fictionalized autobiography about being a virgin. Think of SCOTT PILGRIM, only with more dark, bleak humor.

Anyway, as the weeks wind down until my next housing court trial installment between my handicapped mother and the slumlord, it comes time to get in the monthly installment. And it came down to either this or actually admitting what my fetish is. And I am genuinely not ready for the latter yet. This is a personal blog with a modest following, but it still feels public, and it still feels awkward to type about it honestly. Trust me, if you think I am ashamed of being an older virgin, I have more shame about that. It’s nothing objectively bad, but if I didn’t make mountains out of molehills…I’d be successful, or something else ghastly.

I’ve said a few times that were I to try dating again, my primary element would be online dating. My personal social network of available women has long since faded, and I always found the idea of begging my friends for help in an area where they all navigated fine by themselves to be especially humiliating and pathetic. It certainly doesn’t help that the few times I have gotten my (male) friends involved in anything remotely nearing my love life, it ended badly. The long term ideal would be to expand those social networks either by making more earnest attempts to make friends at work and/or doing MeetUps with fellow comic nerds, or something. And while I don’t doubt that, I feel like using a line Bill Dauterive uses in the 4th season episode of “King of the Hill” titled, “Bills Are Made to be Broken”:

“I can train, or I can play, but I can’t do both.”

And at my age, with my own knowledge of my emotional fortitude, I genuinely don’t think I have the patience to invest years of time in making more pals in the hopes one of those has a single friend/sister/aunt/cousin/roommate/mother/grandmother/great grandmother/grand piano who they feel like steering me too. Especially since the purpose of those groups is not to find someone in them to date, but to enjoy a hobby or activity with company, and make friends. I didn’t like navigating the awkward limbo of “are we friends/classmates or are we potential lovers and how do I navigate that divide” from school. It may seem mundane to the romantically initiated, but to the uninitiated, the line between “friend” and “lover” can feel like an insurmountable and confusing invisible wall. At what point does a woman go from “this fellow is perfectly pleasant to be around” to “I want to touch his lips to mine?” I have no clue, and such a shift seems impossible to me. At least with online dating, that pretense is gone. It’s essentially like trying to get an audition. I either would dazzle within the first 10 seconds, or I won’t.

However, that comes with a unique challenge; the dating profile. And while I am not exactly looking at the exact format of OkCupid or Plenty of Fish or Geek2geek has now, but the general angle remains the same. The idea is to entice someone and provide some necessary information to potential lovers without sounding boring, or arrogant, or nuts, or pathetic, mixed with pictures that no one is usually pleased with.

The pictures don’t concern me too much. Do I wish was taller, and more buff, and more handsome, with better teeth and without a weird lipoma on my back? Sure, but there is only so much I can do about that these days. I’ll never be taller, and short of cosmetic surgery, not really get any better looking. I’m not hideous, but decidedly average. It won’t be my looks that get me any attention, at least with women under 60. The nursing home crowd always found me attractive, but I am aiming a tad younger these days. Using the old rule of “half your age plus 7” means no younger than 26, but if I am honest I’d really prefer someone in their 30’s to 40’s, which is around my age. The challenge is finding someone who is old enough to know better than to date an older virgin who reads comics and lives with his mother, but still too young to care.

But to be honest many people don’t lead with their looks; personality is key. And the last time I did an OkCupid profile in college, it was not good. I was going through a fit of depression and it felt like dishonesty to not either admit or allude to nearly all of my faults. My original profile even admitted to my virginity, albeit at a time when I was still in my 20’s so it we merely “unusual” and not “circus freak territory.” The tone was almost daring a woman to message me despite it all, which is not a good look. The fact that I even got one date with it is itself a miracle. I do not want to repeat that error.

The ideal is to make it like a resume; where bending or exaggerating the truth is preferable to lying. In fact, it’s usually expected; after all, everyone is an athletic world travelling savant according to their profiles! The problem is while the fits of depression are not as passionate, at least in regards to dating, the general notion around dishonesty remains. It was far easier to come up with ten flaws on this blog than ten strengths, after all. And the last thing I want to do is lie or mislead someone into thinking I am something that I am not. However, how to proceed when trying to convince someone to consider dating you feels like it is lying, or misleading?

Another problem is that a few of the things that I genuinely feel are strengths of mine are of the variety where it is best to show, and not tell. For instance, I think I write well. It’s boring and blunt to just say that in a profile; I have to display that. So, that adds pressure to not just come up with a serviceable profile, but to make the New York Times Bestseller of Dating Profiles. It’s the same with a sense of humor; just typing, “I have a great sense of humor” is boring and mundane, and I already look like “generic white guy who could lose 20 lbs”. Comedy is not easy, especially without knowing my audience or having much to work with. I tried editing my original profile to reflect this as the years went on, but it was always halfhearted. The trick is that if I go too far with it, the profile looks coy, smug, or elusive. It could even come off as creepy if I snuck in one too many double entendre‘s. On the other hand, if I pull off an imaginative, well written, and funny profile, I could come off way better than my mundane pictures suggest — especially next to many of the other thirsty dudes online with their bathroom mirror selfies. So, no pressure or anything.

It also can’t be long! Studies show the best profiles have about 93 words or less per section. I can’t even introduce an article in less than 500 words!

That is only part of it, though. One of the many ironies of my life is that in some objective terms, I am already familiar with many of the separate elements of this. I have worked on the telephone at various call centers for nearly 9 years now. Most of this was in sales, where I had to learn about “the pitch,” “the close” and so on. I especially had to learn about numbers, where 1:20 was a decent day. Maybe that is why I gravitated to speed dating events for a while, since this was similar; that and it was a way to make up for lost time by cramming in as much failure as possible within a short period of time. At any rate, I am much better at gauging interest now than I used to be; sensing when I “have” someone or am “losing” someone. I have a better understanding of my sense of humor and how darn easy it is for me to make someone laugh in a live conversation. It’s almost too easy; I have to literally focus on turning it off to get work done. All of this is understandable when it is focused towards something cold and utilitarian, like a charity, where I am selling a product I did not create, with a “script” or techniques I did not create, in which I am merely the vessel. It feels like something entirely different to transition it into selling “myself,” where I am the product. Embellishing the strengths and pretending the faults don’t exist or rebutting them is natural in an objective setting; do it with myself and I feel like a con artist. No one knows me better than I know myself, and I know I am a man who has never once gotten a woman to love him that way, not even for five minutes. That is a lot to rebut.

I always imagine a woman falling for some clever profile or joke I go on, and then really getting to know me and being massively disappointed. Being anxious about that almost leads me to want to put in a disclaimer somewhere. “Warning: potentially interested party assumes all risk upon the inevitability that said product (me) is lamer upon closer inspection.” But, that can’t be in a profile; then I go back to where I was in college where all it does in list faults and bad attitude in so many paragraphs. And I do not have the time to even pretend to do this again for one last time unless I am serious, and I have it an earnest effort.

Certain things are just facts. What I do for work, what my hobbies are, maybe a blurb about having a handicapped parent. Some stuff about what I would like in a woman, without it being just “existing, and liking me.” Apparently it is a big enough of a deal for many women if a man likes cats or not that it is worth mentioning. But it has to have more than that, and portray more than just that. At the same time, I am afraid of misleading someone into thinking I am some witty intelligent wordsmith when once things get hot and steamy I will be stammering and lost like a twelve year old in the woods.

Would I admit to being a virgin this time around in a profile? No. I feel something like that isn’t appropriate until later on. Perhaps by the third or so date and only if I genuinely thought the woman was understanding. If not, these days I would err on the side of secrecy, and hoping I can stumble and bumble my way through it. I do genuinely not want to come off as someone who is just terrible at kissing/cuddling/sex, and in fairness, being a novice is a very good reason to suck in the beginning. On the other hand, the notion of admitting something I am deeply ashamed and shy about to someone who is a relative stranger, even after more than one date, is very intimidating to me. I cannot afford to “scare” someone off due to ignorance. I feel no one is obligated to reveal their dating list to a potential partner. I wouldn’t care if a woman had zero lovers or a 100 lovers; just so long as I was the only one if we were dating. I am not polyamorous, although I could see myself accepting it in another if she was sleeping with me, at least initially, due to a lack of options. So since I am not a hypocrite who has a “Madonna/Whore complex,” why should that philosophy change if the number is zero? There is one theory that admitting it outright would weed out “bad partners” and a first experience may be better with someone who knows and understands (or, possibly, is turned on by it, although I cannot imagine how or why). But the reward is not worth the risk for me. I cannot afford to even tease at ruining someone interested because I was more honest than I had to be. Lots of men suck at sex and still get it; maybe I should be content with doing my best and letting her come to her own conclusions about why I am not good enough.

It isn’t as if I plan to be a lousy lay my first time, but let me put it this way. Very few things in life can be mastered or even done modestly competently without practice and some sort of learning curve. There are people who are “naturals” at certain tasks or skills, and I have never been a “natural” at anything in my life. Even my writing and sense of humor only came after lots of practice (particularly in school). And I sincerely doubt that the one thing in my life that I would be a natural at, after all this strife, yearning, frustration, and disappointment, would be sex. Life is not that convenient. And while it is true that no one starts out good at sex either, they usually get over the “awkward confused fumbling” stage during high school or college. One of the primary advantages of dating while older is that the odds of anyone “guessing” that my awkwardness and inability to have any sort of physical chemistry with anyone is because I am a virgin are virtually none; it will be assumed due to social expectations that I am not. The problem is that without that knowledge, the only conclusion would just be that I am a bad lay. Many women will consider a guy that if he can’t kiss well, and that is one of the many physical things leading to sex that I have no experience with. And beyond investing in some sort of latex sex robot, there’s really no way to get it in an ethical or legal way. And the world is full of mediocre white men who are bad lays, and I will not attain any sort of romantic satisfaction unless I can rise above that herd, at least for a few women.

I digress. As I have said before, in college, my minor was in digression.

There are other things to get into a profile beyond all this, as absurd as it is. One thing is narrowing down what sort of relationship I would want, and how to convey that? Do I want one night stands? Long term relationships? Or something between? What if the answer is, “I don’t know?” The only problem with that is, a man who is in his late 30’s with that kind of answer either seems immature, or sleazy. I would prefer not to have one night stands, even if in truth, very few women sleep with a man without at least 2-3 dates. But on the other hand, I am clearly not looking for marriage now, nor have any intention of committing eternally to a first lover. The problem is that for many older male virgins, many people who seek to buck them up cite examples which are exactly that; an OMV either marrying their first love, or being in a long term commitment to her, and that’s nerve wracking. Roughly 6 years ago, I was chatting online with another pal who at the time was a virgin (and in his 20’s) who asked me if my first lover was “everything I wanted in a woman” but she wanted me to marry her fairly soon, would I do it? My answer at the time was, “No.” My friend then proceeded to call me an idiot, and maybe that’s true. There is such a thing as bad timing; sometimes we meet the right person at the wrong time, or vice versa. And at least at this stage in my life, I could not commit to a first lover because for the rest of my life I would never know if I committed because she was truly that special, or because I quit while I was ahead (like Michael Strahan retiring from the NY Giants after winning a Super Bowl). And that is a lousy thing to have in the back of your mind for a marriage. Ideally I’d have at least one relationship under my belt so I’d know I could survive the end of one and I’d know if I decided to walk down that alter, it was because of love, not fear of being single.

Naturally, dating profiles also point out things someone doesn’t want in a lover. And I’ve gotten some flack from people online for admittedly having very few lines in the sand because of near desperation. It may be a bad look to admit that I would at least strongly consider sleeping with a Neo-Nazi Trump-Lover so long as she was physically my type and wanted to sleep with me (despite the assumption that my persona would put off any woman like that), but it’s kind of honest. I am not in a position to have too many restrictions. I drew the line in the sand with my mother’s friend because she was not my type physically, we did not get along intellectually, and she creeped me out. But that is a very, very, very low bar. And for the record, “Neo-Nazi” is essentially what I think a “worst case personality for a woman” looks like to me. But what about other things? Some people don’t like smokers, but I don’t think that would be a big deal for me. Vegan? Who cares. Deeply religious? So long as she wasn’t a fanatic missionary who was “waiting ’till marriage,” sure. Has a dog? I actually have a fear of dogs (especially large dogs), but I might be willing to be torn to shreds by a pit bull for a chance at sex at this point. Is a gang member or involved in organized crime? That’s really the same as being a banker or a stock broker, isn’t it? I might feel emasculated dating a woman who was drastically taller than me (I am about 5′ 9”), but would that reason alone be a “don’t message me if” line on a profile? No. I would certainly wonder why a 6’3” Amazon would waste her time with a scrub like me, but I’d wonder that if the woman was 5′ 1” so it’s really nothing uniquely disqualifying.

Which leads to the one dilemma which makes all of this feel moot sometimes. Even if I crafted an utterly amazing profile, with some decent pics, how would I react to positive hits? If that inbox popped up with a message like, “Hey, I’d love to go to coffee with you sometime.” What would my first reaction be? Even after all this time, and acknowledging the few missed opportunities I’d had? My Id reaction would be to text back, “My god, why?” I wouldn’t be so uncouth as to actually do that, but stifling that urge may hinder efforts to properly flirt or show interest back. As I said in the Platypus Post, my big enemy isn’t necessarily rejection, since rejection and I are old friends; it’s disbelief. The more obvious and blunt the woman, the worse it would get; my one OkCupid date called me “cutie” in texts more than once that in no way made me loosen up or act flirty back. Granted, that was a long time ago, but I sincerely doubt I would be much smoother now. My default expectation is my advances are unwelcome and undesired to women. A woman who welcomed and desired them would be rubbing up against a quarter century of disbelief, and that’s a tough hill to climb even for a stud-muffin, much less from a wordsmith with arrested development. I have to offer more than just a few good jokes and big words to make it worth that much hassle to a woman, and I sincerely doubt I have that unless the woman was just incredibly desperate, ignorant, or nuts. And if so, I would feel guilty taking advantage of that.

One of the most important things a profile has to ideally offer is a pitch. It has to lay out the reasons why a woman should choose me over all of the other people that the soulless computer is matching her with. And I am not certain I have one. I am someone who has few standards, who doesn’t know what kind of relationship he wants, and can’t sincerely offer any promises of romantic adventure. I mean I could certainly imply capability or hide insecurity behind bluster, buffoonery or boasts, but it isn’t sincere. Sure, I offer witty wordplay and being halfway decent, but in New York that is literally a dime a dozen. You can kind legions of non-rapist average men with a good joke or two behind them at any bar, bookstore, or boardroom. My anxiety and inexperience makes me abnormal, which is not the same as being extraordinary. And while there are women who do genuinely like a good freak or two (i.e. furries and fetishists), I don’t think I am freaky enough for that crowd, nor am comfortable leading with my weirdness. To do that, I would have to craft a profile where I describe my virginity as a golden sexual opportunity for a woman to set off some sexual dynamite with someone who has no STD’s, children, alimony or vengeful exes who can be molded into whatever her lust desires, but I am not certain that is the right or honest track to run with, nor do I think I would be comfortable with a woman looking at me like a Pokemon to collect, either. Although to be honest, I would have less disbelief if a woman came at me with, “I never thought I’d find a virgin as old as you and the opportunity to check that off my list is fascinating” instead of, “You look like a cool guy”. I am obviously not a cool guy and any woman who thought so has not known many cool guys, and I would probably pity her for that. But someone who saw me as the Last of the Virginsaurs to tag and release? I can roll with that. Perhaps there is a way to split the difference between extremes? Try to acknowledge that inexperience and present it as an opportunity without detailing myself as the legendary King Dong from Dull Island? While I can’t promise someone sexual satisfaction, a sincere effort to try my best in itself isn’t a bad thing, especially in a world where many men are lazy, ungrateful and unimaginative lovers. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that imagination is kind of rare and it really takes very little of it to impress people. Surely there is a way to acknowledge some inexperience and sort out the best way to “spin” it. To do otherwise may itself be insincere.

A profile is intended to be an introduction to someone’s identity. Perhaps part of the problem is that I’ve been the Dateless-Man so long that I can’t figure out how to be anyone else. Finding out that it’d only been my lack of effort, and not being uniquely cursed, which held me back would be a lot to deal with on top of navigating the minefield of texts and rejections it takes to date. Sure, I am woefully behind in terms of romantic development, but considering the average person only has about 3-7 different lovers in their lives (and as far as I know, none of my male friends and 90% of my lady ones were any exceptions), in theory I could match or surpass that with a decent couple of years. If I tried and failed, I’d feel bad but it would be expected and something I was familiar with. Success, on the other hand, is an option I am unsure I could handle. My world is one where I am invisible to women. I am not sure I could get used to one where a few wanted use my love handles to go for a ride with me. It seems like science fiction to me, like Neo bending a spoon. As pessimistic as I am, though, success is always some kind of option, and one I have to prepare for.

So, that is a lot to try to sort out in terms of writing in as few words as possible. It certainly is far more challenging that reviews or fan-fiction, or blog posts like this. Even a resume is merely the listing and embellishing of facts; it feels less personal. But on the other hand, as personal and awkward a challenge as it is, it still feels like a writing challenge, and perhaps with the right words, mood, and time, one I could tackle.

Thanks for reading, to those who got this far.

 

 

Dateless-Man vs. the Platypus Post

The platypus is a duck billed, amphibious, venomous, egg laying mammal. In terms of animals, it’s a little bit of everything. And that’s what this entry will be. Much like the platypus (or the comic book villain Mysterio), I couldn’t decide what this entry would be in terms of one theme, so I am going to bounce around a little and include all of what’s in my head right now (that relates to the blog’s theme, of course). I’ll add some bolds and breaks to at least keep it readable. But, what else to call this? A platypus post.

plat

Current Events: The next round of “my handicapped mother and I are being evicted by a slumlord” plays out in housing court next week. It’s sapped whatever will I had to focus on dating or even comment on it. Last year saw this effort reach a fever pitch, and I only got in 9 articles in 2019. I think that’s a historical low since 2014. I suppose the possibility of me being homeless, jobless, emotionally destroyed and dead doesn’t quite connect to my woes about women, but it at least overlaps. Even in New York, the homeless genuinely have fewer rights than convicts, because convicts get lawyers and advocates. My chronically ill mother is also growing worse, and who knows when she will drop.

Aside for that, things would be gravy. I’ve gotten comfortable at my “new” job (which I have now had almost 1.5 years now) and I’ve shifted to doing comic reviews on Patreon after the website I write for changed policies, and it’s been modestly successful. I still make little money, but it’s been more of “little money” than the last 2-4 years.

Lackadaisical Co-Worker Dating Service?: A new job means new co-workers, and naturally there are 2 or more that I sit alongside every day in my cubicle, fielding calls from shareholders. One of them, I’ll dub “Peter,” has over the course of the last year occasionally mused about “trying to hook me up” with one of the many lady co-workers he knows. He’s been there a year longer than me and seems to know everyone. I’ve hardly met this woman he’s talking about but she certainly is my type.

However, nothing official has happened. Little formal introduction. And no real effort beyond an occasional statement when she walks by. It reminds me of the “efforts” most of my high school era pals did in that regard. Now, in defense, I never asked him for more concrete efforts, nor have I ever done so of friends. I often consider my own dating woes embarrassing and any admission of needing help as shameful, at least with fellow men. I guess it is some of that “toxic masculinity” in society I haven’t been able to shake. It’s one of those things that a part of me would like to happen, but the other part would find it humiliating. No matter what, I’d always imagine my pal “begging” her or to date the schmuck they swear is a nice guy (me).

A few weeks ago my co-worker went on and on about her looks, and I quipped, half quoting him, “Lean, good figure, luscious? You sound like you’re talking about a leg of lamb!” Nothing’s come of it and little ever will, but it’s worth a mention, right?

More Virgin Advice Frustrations: As I have said a few times, Doctor Nerdlove is really the only “romantic advice guru” I have spent much time on in my long term quest for answers about why I am, essentially, too lame to land dates. Since his advice is geared towards dorky guys the subject of older male virginity comes up a lot in his advice column; 2-4 times a month on average. I covered some of these frustrations with it months ago, but every time he repeats some of his usual lines about it, I cringe.

He (and he is not alone) seems to believe so much in the social concept of virginity that he all but literally thinks men can erase all of the angst from it, as well as the reactions from others, with enough willpower like Neo from “The Matrix.” He seems to believe there is no difference in social expectations, pressure, or turmoil between he losing his own virginity at age 19 (technically older than average) versus someone who is a virgin into their late 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, and beyond. He overestimates how easily someone can overcome that, as well as the general understanding or tolerance of others — especially women who (fairly) see it as a red flag to meet a guy beyond a certain age who no other woman has trusted. A “bad date” for a woman can literally end in death; it is in her interest to be highly discerning. He compared defining oneself by it to not doing other activities like skydiving, which are nowhere near as socially expected as having had at least one romantic relationship or encounter by the time hair starts to grey.

Having been banned from his main site, I’ve since taken up residence on an unofficial spin off forum. Another older virgin started a topic to comment along these lines and I’ve more or less become the co-host. It’s almost like sharing an older male virgin column. On the one hand, it allows me to comment in real time. On the other…a part of me is always dismayed that I’ve become an “older virginity expert” like those “rent-an-experts” who cycle through local news telecasts to explain weather, law, politics, rampaging gophers or other inanities. “And now to offer his rebuttal, D.M., freelance chastity sufferer.” There are moments I am genuinely tired of being the Dateless-Man, but like the Man in the Iron Mask, it seems like something I can neither hide, run from, or remove. It’s literally the only topic related to romance which I can discuss with any legitimate personal experience…because I never got the experience.

Shifting Opinions: May as well lump in two semi-regular topics of years past which I shifted my opinion as the years have gone by. I likely have mentioned them before, but I may as well get them out now because they came up in some of the aforementioned discussions.

I used to be vehemently opposed to the idea of losing my virginity to a sex worker. Not because I had distaste for the workers themselves. And not only because it is an “industry” which in most areas of the world capitalizes on the oppression of women. But because I saw it as trading one “shameful secret” (my virginity) with another (having first had sex with a prostitute). The former, in theory, is a short term secret; the latter is one which I have to keep to my grave. And to make it clear, it is still extremely unlikely I will explore this option. If I were to, I’d only do it in Las Vegas or Amsterdam, where it is legal, and that requires time and money I simply do not have (nor may ever have). I suppose doing it in some foreign, temporary local only adds to the idea of being secretive and “shameful,” but those would be my terms. However, due to age and the lack of viable options and my own feelings, it seems like less of an extreme option than it did 6 years ago.

I mean, let’s be blunt. As I officially enter my “late 30’s” the only men who remain untouched virgins this long are stereotyped as religious zealots, serial killers, or circus freaks. All I would be doing is playing down to expectations. And in terms of the long term secret, well…the line between “my first time was with a pro” and “my first time was with some random lady at a bar who neither one of us recalls five seconds later” or “my first time was at some drunken teenage house party” isn’t as thick as some think it is. And while, yes, I know it means more coming from someone with genuine feelings who simply liked me enough, the simple fact of hearing the words or going through the motions I think would be important.

One of the many weird things I learned from my “Kink Panther” tenure (where, to sum up, I briefly did some non sexual but fetish oriented text role-play with an Italian girl who lied about her age and was younger than she led me to believe) was how rarely I had positive attention from anyone of the opposite sex in a realm which even teased at romance. I had literally never been flattered by a woman before, in any context. I never had a woman act in awe of me because I was imaginative or clever or something. “Flattery” is not a term I am used to with those of the opposite sex. So even if I am fully aware of the monetary transaction between I and a sex worker, simply hearing certain words, doing certain things, alone might have some power. It could also lead to a bad habit, though.

The other shift? That my admitting to any woman I am to date in the immediate future that I am indeed a virgin is not a moral obligation. I used to think so, in order to give fully “informed consent,” since there are women who genuinely do not want to sleep with a virgin. But then I realized it is akin to anyone acknowledging how many previous lovers they had. I am not a believer in the “Madonna/Whore Complex;” I do not judge anyone by how many or few lovers they have had (except for myself, of course). I honestly don’t care; who they really are and treat me are more important. So why should this belief change when that number is zero? Now, naturally admitting such a secret is not something to do too soon, since that is socially awkward. And it is should be done on a case by case basis. If I twig that someone may be receptive by a second or third date about that inclination? Sure, why not. But these days I am more willing to err on the side of keeping it to myself. I used to feel it was essential to “justify” a poor or awkward first performance at kissing and/or sex, but the risk of it ending such opportunities is too high. Besides, plenty of experienced dudes are awkward and/or suck at sex; sure, I have a fair excuse at it, but why complicate things? If I ever got close enough that sex seemed possible, why do anything to pooch it?

Dr. Nerdlove and some others advocate honesty in the name of getting better lovers who are more understanding, patient, considerate, etc. They also raise the possibility that some women find it a turn on. But if the goal is to get dating experience, not find a soulmate, does that really matter so much? I am in little position to be so discerning. I’ve drawn the line in the sand at not having sex with women who do not interest me physically or intellectually, even if offered. Beyond that, I am pretty flexible. Sure, I’d love to meet a woman who accepted me for who I am and was eager to make my first time truly special without expecting it to be the first act of love in a lifelong union. But I’d also love to win the lottery or be six foot three. In real life we make due with what we have, or get. So if it looks like my first time is with a rando from OkCupid who has mistakenly misunderstood my snarky jokes for charisma and sees me as a placeholder between “real men?” Who am I to argue?

Not to say I would deny being a virgin if asked, but outside college that is unlikely. Nor am I to lie and claim I’ve bedded before. In a way being a virgin makes seduction difficult because that implies convincing someone that you can please them sexually, and I can’t, because I’ve never done it before. But I feel I am not obligated to be 100% honest if it goes against my best interests, and it doesn’t involve anything which does harm.

My Other Enemy is Disbelief: I may expand on this, but this is akin to a post I did a long time ago, when I determined a key reoccurring factor in my failures with women was fear. Worries about being financially destitute, the fading health of my mother, being homeless, and doubt in my ability to land a date under any circumstance or any method aren’t the only reasons why I haven’t tried to date much in a long time, or sought to find a Zen past the desire. They’re big reasons, but not the only ones. Beyond fear, the common denominator behind all my reactions with women romantically is Disbelief. I simply do not believe that a positive reaction is genuine. At worst, especially when I was younger and being bullied was more recent, I considered it a trick. At best, I assume it is ignorance that I would be a cad to exploit. I did a “Three I’d Monster” post but it could be condensed to this.

This is a problem because if I am honest, it isn’t that I had zero opportunities at romance. I’ve had approximately three. The problem is disbelief was a factor in pooching all three. And as much as I have learned about myself, socializing, and reading people, this disbelief remains. I simply would not believe any positive reaction I got, in large part because I had so rarely experienced it. And I mean general disbelief. I have disbelief in my ability to inspire those feelings in another, for one. And if a woman was receptive who I desired, I would be in disbelief of her reaction too. I’d be like the leads in the bar scene from Mel Brooks’ “The Producers,” wondering in a flabbergasted tone “where did I go right?” And in trying to suppress all these urges to scream, “ARE YOU BLIND OR JUST MAD, WOMAN!?” it would severely hinder my ability to make a connection or muddle thru. And I know part of this is due to my own negative self image; someone who challenges it causes me mental stress, even if it is what I would want overall.

If a woman said she chose me because I was the cutest and funniest guy on her feed that week, I would absolutely 100% not believe her. I might likely pity her; to have such a feed where I am its highlight is a woeful thing. On the other hand, if a woman said it was because I looked pathetic and low maintenance, and she fully intended to dump me the nanosecond anyone better came along, I would be more relaxed and likely compliment her honesty. I genuinely do not know what a woman, at least in my first relationship, would have to do or say to get past my disbelief. And I am too old to waste any opportunities over it; I would never forgive myself. Hell, I don’t forgive myself for the rare opportunities I didn’t capitalize on as a youth. It’s a no-win situation and until I feel I can overcome it, it seems to defeat a lot of desire to make more earnest efforts. The problem is time is the enemy, and it will be something I regret were my life to end tomorrow. But as I said before, time and circumstance have done me no favors.

There, the Platypus Post has reached a sufficient length. Hope everyone’s 2020 has started out better than mine! Maybe next time I will feel more focused, or there could be a sequel to this, with a creative title.

Until then…I remain the Dateless-Man.

 

Dateless-Man vs. The Sire

“So, are you dating anyone?” — question asked to me by my deadbeat father, via telephone, 12/12/19

Normally at the end of the year I have a versus post against that particular year. It initially started because New Year’s used to be at the heart of the six month period from October to March which was my peak depression phase. Then it became a helpful way to sum up some of the themes I’d covered during the previous year. But those usually tend to be lower viewed posts and to be honest there’s not enough sum up material to cover 2019. What worried me in 2019? My handicapped mother and I being evicted by a slumlord. Sure, I still angst about being the Dateless-Man at times, but a large chunk of my focus was on economical woes. It’s carried over from 2018, and if the housing court proceedings drag into May 2020, it will officially be 2 full years since this odyssey into Hell began. Since the last hearing punted things into February, that’s very likely.

When this blog began in July 2014, I was posting 2-3 times a month, easy. It helped that I spent a lot of that time revisiting old memories about dating, going all the way back to elementary school where the problems first formed. Things slowed down once I ran out of past memories to analyze around 2016 ish. That isn’t to say I literally covered every memory of every interaction with the opposite sex ever — I’d have to be Rain Man to do that — but I’d hit the major ones. Then 2017 started with some worries about my job, and 2018 brought on not only the eviction mess, but another stint of unemployment. Thankfully, it was very brief and I have now been at my new job for over a year, something I haven’t accomplished since 2017. So that’s positive, at least. Unfortunately, it also means post counts have dwindled. I usually struggle to submit 10-11 posts a year since about 2017. I know this is really more of an interactive journal on my own terms, but it is something I think about.

Part of it is perspective, which this blog and the commenters associated with it have helped me to gain, along with some stuff I learned from the Doctor Nerdlove community. The rest is that with age and more worrisome things to focus on, being an untouched virgin just pales in perspective. It’s merely one more source of misery to worry about.

However, one notable incident happened to me this month that I thought was worthy of a post, since in theory it ties into the themes of this blog — which are an analysis of my absolute failure with dating women. One aspect of it which I have not covered much, because there is usually little to tell about it and because I don’t believe it is an angle which carries much weight, is my lack of a father. Biologically, of course, I have one; I was not a “test-tube baby,” although I may as well have been one. But in terms of an actual presence in my life, I have never had one.

To keep things brief, I was technically born out of wedlock. My biological father, a former Wall Street millionaire, was cheating on his wife with my mother, who was about 14 years younger than he was. However, my mother did get married to another man before I was born, so I guess I am not technically a bastard. Both were well aware that the second man was not my father. I have met my step-father (who is a little person, or a “dwarf” as some would call him), although since my mother divorced him the last time I have was at least 30 years ago when I was very young. But in terms of my biological “father,” I have no memory of him. Only photographic evidence proves that we’d technically met when I was a baby until I was about 1-2 years old. Despite being a Wall Street millionaire, he didn’t want to pay child support, and skipped town in the late 1980’s to avoid doing so, and spent decades working off the books to limit attempt to locate him or garnish his salary. Granted, it wasn’t as if New York’s child support enforcement was terribly proactive about it either. Usually every few years my mother would have to nag them, often in person, to get some non-response. It was only after the 21st century began and I was nearing 21, and only after a large bank got the financial rights to handle child support accounts and therefore realized they were missing out on money from allowing him to flee for so long, was he located in Florida and back child support payments began. By then he’d owed about $125,000, at least. Payments were sporadic at best ($200 one month, $1000 the next, and sometimes nothing for two) until he finally applied for Social Security, and a proper garnishment began.

By that time I’d only spoken to my “sire” as I will call him once on the phone when I was around ten years old. Because I’d known he was a deadbeat, I almost treated it like I was dealing with a fugitive from “America’s Most Wanted,” a show I watched avidly, jotting down information. Since then I’ve spoken to him about three more times on the telephone, and even that’s only been within the last decade or so. My feelings about him have been mixed and evolved with my age.

As a kid I never really felt like it was a great loss; having one parent was all I ever knew. My mother hardly “trained me to hate him;” if anything her memories of him were far rosier than mine would have been in her circumstances. But she was always frank with me about how he was not in our lives and should have been supporting us. My maternal grandfather had also abandoned his family, but he at least sent child support ($60 a month, which he did not adjust for inflation, from the 1950’s until likely the 70’s). I knew about my step-father but he was also not around due to divorce, because my mother had problems being monogamous for long stretches of her life and did not feel she would be faithful to him, and she did not want to break his heart. The sire was merely Mr. Not Appearing In This Family. I knew of him from old photos and mother’s memories, but he was not a presence, missing, bad, or otherwise. I knew other families had fathers, I knew a two parent household was considered “normal,” and that all of my friends and peers seemed to have that (and better financial resources). But as a kid I was not mournful about it or paid it much mind. I was more concerned about Ninja Turtles.

It was not until I was in college before even the first pangs of anger at him began to fester. And it wasn’t so much anger about myself, but for what abandoning us had done to my mother, both emotionally and financially. After all, we likely could have moved out of the slum which we are about to be evicted from years earlier had he been more responsible about what he owed. By that point I never referred to him as my father; the usual term I use to this day in conversion is “sperm-donor.” But that anger and resentment wasn’t terribly emotional or passionate. It was essentially the sort of resentment one might place upon a stranger, because he was one. I was aware that the sire hadn’t done this because he personally hated me and my mother, but because he was essentially a coward and wanted to flee responsibility.

In years past my mother has wanted me to reach out to him and allow him some chance at contact, which were efforts I usually did just to humor her. One such letter eventually led to one of our more recent conversations this decade, which was awkward. Firstly, the sire sounds very close to Jerry Springer over the phone. Yes, that Jerry Springer. I know it isn’t him of course, but he could seriously earn spare cash impersonating him for themed messages like some voice actors do if he’d wanted. Secondly, we remain in this precarious position about him. We still need the back child support, and while it is being garnished from his social security, I am sure if he wanted to be an asshole about it and gum things up, he could find a way. Therefore, I’d rather not confront him or act too angrily toward him while we still need it. Thirdly, it appears that now that he is old and realizes he will die sooner rather than later, he’s somewhat regretful for abandoning me. My interactions with him are usually cold; at best I have tried to humor him so that the child support and his biannual money order gifts to me ($100 for my birthday and Christmas, every year for decades) don’t cease. Once he has repaid everything, assuming he lives that long, then at that point I will risk being honest with him.

Granted, there isn’t much to be honest about that he doesn’t already know. He knows I have some anger and resentment towards him. Ironically, his own father (my paternal grandfather) had abandoned him, too. And I can’t say that I hate him. Hatred is a hot, seething emotion that binds you to someone. I have never been that close to him to hate him. I know hatred and have felt it many times in my life. I hated the bullies who tormented me in 7th grade. For years I hated my aunt for deliberately making things difficult for my mother and I as we sacrificed much to ensure grandma’s last years were relatively comfortable. And I actively hate the slumlord trying to evict us. But the sperm-donor? Hating him would mean I felt he played a large, deliberate role in my life, and I never feel that he has. I only share his last name because my mother changed it legally when she proved paternity in the 1980’s. I used to have my step-father’s name for my first few years, and I’d rather have kept it.

By now, longtime readers should be aware that when I say that I will be brief, I mean it in the sense that Shakespeare did. That is, an extended monologue is coming.

All of this is backstory. On December 12th, my mother and I were set to go to housing court for the latest round of “evict the poor.” It was an afternoon hearing, so I’d slept in a little and got up in the early afternoon. My cell phone rang less than five minutes after I’d gotten up and shut off the alarm, and I was surprised that it was the sire, on today of all days. I’d virtually forgotten that in a previous obligatory card that mom insists I send him for his birthday or Father’s Day that I included a blurb about our ordeal and my cell. Even still, the timing was unnerving. I was groggy and hardly in the mood, but since I make a living having functional telephone conversations, I was able to get through it.

The sire had actually done some research on our slumlord and came to the same conclusions as I had; he’s a crook, who literally has over 50 dummy corporations set up at the same address (complete with identical suite number). But the topics moved a little from that as he went on about how expensive NY is and how he’s lived in a retirement village for years. He mentioned the last time he went to NY was in 1990. I didn’t mention that he didn’t bother to try to visit me at that time, and that it was only a few years after he skipped on child support. But then again this is also a man who once whined to me about how he had to pay 80% taxes on his seven figure salary in the 70’s and had to somehow survive on a quarter mil a year — to a son who considers weekly orange juice a luxury. Even in this telephone chat the sire mentioned how he “made all his money” when he was about my age and has been able to enjoy a relatively comfortable retirement for decades. As anyone under 40 knows, very few of us after his generation will ever be able to retire comfortably. It probably helped not paying 100k to the woman he cheated on his ex-wife on for decades, or to the son he didn’t care about ’till he got old. I sometimes still joke that any day now he’ll call and ask me if I could spare him a kidney.

But near the end of the conversation, he asked me the question I put in quotes at the top. It always stops me cold when someone asks me about my dating life. Very few of my close friends ever do, since they know I am eternally single. Not even my mother mentions it much. It was part of small talk on the sire’s behalf. I said that I wasn’t dating, because I was too stressed out and couldn’t financially afford to. I didn’t mention being a virgin who most women wouldn’t spit on, but the regret in his voice was noticeable.

There are some “experts” out there who would assign blame for me being an older virgin on the fact that I grew up without a father. Frank Kermit, for instance, in some of his radio appearances has stated that he considers having “a dominant mother and no father” as being one of the primary factors he’s observed in his virgin clients. Of course, as an older Generation Xer, many of his views on gender roles are still a little retrograde (i.e. he still considers women “more passive” and so on). If that was true, then the African American community (who the right wing often lambastes for having absentee fathers) should be full of virgins, and they aren’t. I suppose not having a male role model may have effected me in general; I had to form my own around He-Man, Batman, Spider-Man and Inspector Gadget, essentially. That was the media I was absorbing at the time. And before you laugh, Batman and Inspector Gadget were the only figures on TV via syndication in the 80’s who usually did act like fathers. However, I don’t believe the absence of a father has played any role in me being the Dateless-Man beyond limiting financial options for mom and I since childhood.

Probably the most genuine exchange between us happened near the end of the call. He claimed he loved me, perhaps expecting me to say the same. All I said was, “Yeah.” I am willing to humor him or make small talk, but only to a point. I also don’t call him “dad” or anything like that either.

I know me talking about my sire here is a rare thing. Even my best friends who have known me for over 20 years haven’t heard me mention him more than once or twice, if at all. But this call happened and I thought it would be a more fitting and interesting topic for a year ender. Coming from two generations of deadbeat fathers on both sides of the family has added pressure to me, at the very least. It means that it is up to me to break the chain. If I ever have a child, biological or otherwise, I have to be nothing short of SUPER-DAD to make up for generations of failures. That is a bit of weight to add to a dude who’s never even touched a woman’s leg. But perhaps it only adds to one of the founding principles of this blog; that my own utter failure in dating isn’t simply because I am just a “bad guy.” It is because there have been a variety of unique circumstances which have culminated to this point, and are almost insurmountable unless there was either a nuclear holocaust or I won first prize in PowerBall. Perhaps I never did have a chance, or had so few that I failed to capitalize on any, and now it is officially too late.

Daddy issues are common in fiction, because they are common in life. The late comedian (and arguably philosopher) George Carlin once said, to paraphrase, “Many of the problems in society can be traced to how fathers treat their sons.” In life I sometimes used this to relate to clients back when I was a social worker; most of them had rarely seen a white man whose father ditched him and who’d grown up in poverty with a single mother in NY. I don’t ascribe blame at my dateless state to the sire, but it was certainly an odd question to hear just hours before housing court.

The new year is upon us, and just once I would like for it to be happy. It is very possible that 2020 could spell the end for life as I know it, and not in a good way. If so, then at least it ends. A finale is better than endless limbo. Hopefully it is a happier occasion for whoever is reading this. One of the companies I did speed-dates with a decade ago still sends me emails about holiday singles parties, and I save them but I never go anyway. Who knows what this year will bring.

At least for now, I remain…the Dateless-Man.

Dateless-Man vs. the “Own Choice” Canard

It’s Halloween (or Hallowe’en) here today, and once upon a time that used to help kick off the “most depressing time of the year” for me. Now? There’s a more general malaise of dread from the endless legal battle between a slumlord and my disabled mother and I. Our eviction trial is officially set for December. A judge will visit our apartment in a week. I may very likely be homeless by Christmas. Faced against such a nightmare, ghouls, vampires, demons, or mummies seem like child’s play. Even being a dateless virgin seems like small potatoes. If 2017 was the year of Zen, 2018-2019 have been the years of Dread. There are few things worse than knowing the economic (and possibly physical) end of your life is inevitable, and all that can be done is delay the inevitable another 3-6 weeks at a time.

However, it is the 31st, and having skipped September, I want to get this one in.

But this blog isn’t intended to be about me bemoaning my eviction fate. Sure, it is pretty hard to have a love life and get laid while homeless or struggling against it, and the stress over it alone is will-sapping. But I like to stay on topic. My own vast wasteland of a love life is one which I have always indulged here. There are few other places I can be as candid or reflective about it.

So at the unofficial spin-off message board forum to Doctor Nerdlove (DNL) called “Nerd Lounge,” I have engaged in and helped revitalize another discussion about older male virginity alongside another fellow who, like me, is riding his own “Mattress of Solitude.” There is a part of me that does fear becoming a “one subject pony.” I feel like I am becoming a sort of unofficial “expert virgin witness” at times online. It isn’t a role I wanted to be in or planned to be in, or even one where I am even a fair or notable representative of. But it’s become the only subject related to dating that I have any legitimate perspective and experience with. That it is the only major dating topic where I have anything relevant to say; that I have any “street cred” with. I mean, what is my alternative? Continue to try to embellish the whopping 3 dates I have ever had? Offer advice about what women want from the man who they’ve never, ever wanted that way?

So it got me to thinking about a particular argument that I saw pitched at older virgins and/or “sad sack” guys who would whine about their dating woes on Doctor Nerdlove’s own website forum. It was an argument I recall getting tossed at me more than once, including by their infamous “Mod”. And it typically goes something like this:

A lot of people (or men, in this instance), myself included at times, will claim that one of the reasons they don’t “try harder” is they feel for various reasons they are insufficient, unworthy, or just a plain old hot mess to want to inflict themselves on women to “practice” or “work thru” their issues. And this attitude is easy to cultivate at the DNL forum, since DNL often (and rightfully) calls out toxic male behavior and its effect on women in general and the dating world as a whole.

Getting men to realize that dating isn’t therapy and to handle their own selves before they complicate the lives of others — especially women who have their own traumas to deal with — is sound perspective. But, DNL is also a dating coach, so he has to straddle this line between doing that and giving advice that encouraging trying harder. But that’s a delicate tightrope and during his weekly letter answering columns (which make up the bulk of his content now), he often “prescribes” therapy or taking a break from dating for the sake of sanity. Unfortunately, the forums try to pitch encouragement, and if someone bleats too long about abandoning dating for the sake of others, they will get “the canard.”

And the canard is that by doing so, they are denying women a chance to “make up their own damn minds” about them. That denying women this opportunity is somehow proving that the man doing so doesn’t value their opinions or is open to their wants, because he doesn’t give them the chance to decide whether they want him. And that such a revelation should encourage some soul searching.

Wait, WHAT!?

So what would the logical conclusion be? That all the lounge lizards, date rapists, professional moochers, abusive, and predatory men are the ultimate feminists because they give ladies plenty of chances to “choose” them? That it is better to give women the “opportunity” to go on a date with a hot mess rather than to be self aware to know you’re a hot mess? Isn’t the goal here to create a better dating world, not unleash a horde of dudes with no self awareness trying to date their lives better contrary to the long run? And how can it be preached that women aren’t therapists while potentially risking them becoming that if they date too many men who should genuinely take a break or realize how broken they are?

I mean, to use myself as an example, I know for the moment I am undateable. I am neither handsome, nor economically stable. I may be homeless by 2020 and even innocent dating risks me being seen as a “moocher,” a dude who makes a living scimming off the women they date (and there are TONS of them; more so than lady “gold-diggers” I’d argue). I cannot offer a pleasurable romantic or sexual experience, because I have no such experience. Sure, I could promise to try hard, but outside of children’s TV, “trying” and not “succeeding” is worthless. A man of my age who has never been in any kind of relationship, especially a long one, would be a red flag even if  I weren’t untouched. I clearly have woeful esteem issues and even if I were to dip a toe in, I would probably need so much patient coaxing and reassurances that I am unlikely to remain attractive to anyone who doesn’t have a fetish for “The Miracle Worker.”

This isn’t a theory; I KNOW this. These are facts. And to rush in throwing caution or the sake of others to the wind just to I can finally pop my rocks before I am sleeping under an overpass would be the epitome of selfishness or self delusion. I am not “denying” anyone anything. I am being self aware enough to know that the timing is dreadful. In fairness, I’ve said that for the past 10-15 years, and that’s a problem. But we don’t get the past back, nor a do-over. Sometimes opportunities pass, and are gone, and cannot be reclaimed.

Now, I am fine with notions of good advice, or “tough love,” or trying to encourage people out of their comfort zones to surprise themselves. But please, let’s not use canards that thinking you’re too much of a mess to date is somehow denying women of choice. Guilt is a poor motivation, and guys who barrel through relations offering women the “choice” of them usually cause more problems than they solve. They don’t need to be encouraged to do so by people who don’t have to suffer the consequences.

I don’t believe someone has to be perfect to date, but I think being able to handle yourself is at least a basic requirement. Knowingly giving someone a bad choice is considered fraud in some circles, and I don’t think dating should be akin to unloading a used car. Romantic success should be mutual success, not someone “getting over.” And more than anything, that’s one canard that I have never cared for.

Happy Halloween, everyone. Hopefully the real nightmare isn’t your current situation, like it is for the Dateless-Man. If it is, I am truly sorry, and all I can offer is that hopefully what is left afterward isn’t broken beyond repair, but is stronger.

Is a Late Bloomer Allowed Bad Choices…even if on Purpose?

Once again a month has gone by without another installment from the Dateless-Man. It seems to commonly happen around the summer for various reasons; I’d been faithful about typing up at least one post a month since July 2018, when I’d missed that June. Granted, that was also the month where things regarding my still unresolved eviction battle with the slumlord started to hit full steam. I am pleased to see so many new readers are checking out what I usually dub “My Lonely Man Blog.” While most of you are from the United States, WordPress’ tabulators are detecting hits from Canada, the U.K. and even India! I guess it shows that some of the issues I have are truly universal for some men, and people in general. Anyway, we’re more than midway past August so I’d better whip something up now!

As much as it is difficult to focus much on my love life, or examining my endless lack of it, with the specter of homelessness hanging over my head, this time I really do have something which broaches the topic of the blog that I’d like to get off my chest.

In terms of lady-themed updates, there isn’t much. The co-worker I’d chatted with who was “my type” who naturally I didn’t mix work and pleasure with from February has long since been let go by the company I work for, so I never saw her again. Not that it is wise to try to date co-workers, even for experienced daters, but it certainly is worth noting how fleeting interactions can be between us sometimes — even more so than college peers used to be. The only good thing to come out of my current crisis regarding housing is some of the lady associates I’d made over the years got back in some online contact with me again. One of them has included “Carrie,” one of my pals’ exes, who I haven’t blogged about since 2017. There are some pangs of this time, finally, having some stones and asking her out, but c’mon. We all know I won’t. By this point it’s been so long it would make her question my entire friendship with her, at least so I fear. Admittedly, since I fear my economic life coming to an end more than ever, there’s a sense of desperation to it which is unpleasant. Another associate is a woman I’d barely met in real life but who has touched base via social media who fancies my comic book articles that I write for another website. We get along well, but she has a boyfriend. Kind of a shame, but I enjoy our chats regardless. It’s fun to talk “geek stuff” with someone new.

(And for those curious, I hadn’t chatted with the young lady from Italy from “The Kink Panther” since January. Considering she was less than honest about her age and was far younger than she’d initially led me to believe, it’s for the best. I wish her well, though.)

But no, what I want to delve into involves something which happened over the spring which I’ve chewed on ever since. I’ve mentioned the Doctor Nerdlove website and community a few times; I even once called into his podcast. While I was banned from his main message board, I still post sporadically on an unofficial sister forum run by some of his fans and associates. I was engaged in some private messages with a woman who was shocked that I’d been banned and over the last year and change we’d kept in touch. Unfortunately, our differing opinions on dating philosophies and techniques were often a point of contention, often on my part. That combined with all of the stress and pressure going on got me to issue some replies which were a bit off the deep end, and she’s severed contact for about 4 months now. I apologized but I hardly blame her.

Our last bit of contention centered around a discussion which devolved from what were acceptable standards from a lover and whether I could, should, or would reject someone who was physically “my type” and was “into” me based on personality flaws or other factors. I consider myself an extremely flexible person; I am willing to indulge and accept virtually any political opinion, job, hobby, or so on that a woman might be into. I try to understand other people and their points of view, and practice empathy whenever possible. Plus, I am very aware that I am essentially seeking a woman who doesn’t mind dating an older male virgin who isn’t especially tall or buff, and who is usually flat broke. She’d have to be extremely open minded and not prone to harsh or immediate judgement, to say the least, so it’s only fair that I practice in kind.

The discussion spoke of immediate “deal breakers” beside physical stuff, which I am also very flexible regarding, and I stated that few seemed to exist for me. The worst example I could come up with for a woman whose views were the polar opposite of mine would be someone who was a “MAGA, Pro-Trump Neo-Nazi” type. Which in New York is pretty rare but not outside the realm of possibility. I professed that my general temperament and opinions would usually repel those types, but when given the theoretical example of a woman who was physically “my type” who professed those views yet was still coming onto me and wanted to date me, I stated I’d be willing to do so, knowing it wouldn’t last but not being able or willing to pass up the opportunity. This apparently appalled the person I was talking with, especially since I also had the misfortune to lump this example with “a drug addict” or someone associated with organized crime or a street gang.

Things got worse when I stated that plenty of people, men and women, who have more “normal” dating lives than an older male virgin often had at least more than one lover, if not more, who they knew to be “a dumpster fire personality” either later on or even at the time. If it was okay for them to have such lovers in their past, why was it wrong for me to be willing to give such a person a chance if the opportunity arose and she didn’t repulse me physically, specifically knowing going in that it wouldn’t last long.

In immediate hindsight, I saw how this argument came off as entitled, and that professing a willingness to sleep with a Neo-Nazi who was in so many words hot enough for me just for sheer experience is a bad look to project. The thing is, was I in the wrong for having it, or admitting it? I’ve known many men who eagerly admitted to being willing to date “someone crazy” over looks alone.

The point I was trying to get across, though, was whether or not I have the “right” to accept whatever romantic opportunities come my way, even if they are with someone who may be physically “my type” but otherwise is a “dumpster fire” personality just for the sheer sake of having never had ANY of the sort of relationships or “trying things out” that most people have? Or because I don’t have the “excuse” of youth, I therefore should only date people who match with my moral code and ethics perfectly? Where do I draw the line? I don’t smoke, for one; am I a cad if I rejected a chain smoker? Or would I be a monster if a woman who worked for big tobacco and laughed at all the cancer claims came onto me, and I agreed to a date with her?

Ideally, quality should always come before quantity. But in real life we don’t always face such clear cut choices, and some of us are lucky to get what we can get. It is beyond obvious that I am not going to have many lovers in my life, if any, and I probably should choose carefully just who I reject if and when the occasion arises very carefully, because I know the opportunity may never come again. I just wonder where the line is between being too open minded or too eager or desperate. I suppose that line should be anyone who makes me uncomfortable, and in theory someone who was otherwise physically attractive but was a Neo-Nazi or a corporate shark should. But at the same time, I get so tired of being a virgin sometimes, of being a failure of a man in more ways than one, and I’d just like it to end so badly that sometimes the cost doesn’t much matter.

It should matter, though, and hopefully I can get back to a place where I am not asking hypothetical questions about whether it’s okay to deliberately flex or ditch some sense of interpersonal ethics just for a roll in the hay. Even if it may be the first, and last, roll in the hay one may ever get. If I have learned anything, it is that life is cruel, and unfair, and often gives miserable choices. It may very well come down to sex with a Neo-Nazi or drug mule, or no sex at all. And am I a demon for at least considering the former? If I had to? Even if I hope to never, ever, EVER have to?

I’d love to have better choices of lovers, wonderful women whose morals and personalities work well with my own likes and moral codes. I just don’t think I have much to offer them at this time, so I often find myself bracing for whoever else is out there for me. If there is anyone else out there for me.

As always, thanks for reading. This was an awkward one, but I am glad to have put my thoughts to text on this one.

The Upside to a Life Not Lived…

All our times have come.

Here but now they’re gone.

Seasons don’t fear the Reaper, nor do the sun, the wind or the rain. We can be like they are.

Come on baby, don’t fear the Reaper.

Baby, take my hand, don’t fear the Reaper.

We’ll be able to fly.

Don’t fear the Reaper.

Baby, I’m your man.“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Blue Oyster Cult, 1976.

Almost the end of June, and I try to get in one post a month now. Back in 2014-2015 I tried to make it two, but eventually I ran out of flashback stories, and work schedules took their toll. For the past year it’s been less about that and more about my handicapped mother and I facing a lengthy eviction proceeding at the hands of our cruel slumlord. It’s stretched over a year and two proceedings, but a trial date is now imminent. It’ll either be in mid July or, at best, sometime in August. And without an attorney I expect this to be a kangaroo proceeding. While we pay our rent, our landlord has claimed we are “hoarders.” The apartment isn’t the prettiest, but that’s mostly because there have been some 50 violations within it which were not fixed for the past 6-plus years. Only in America, or New York, can a landlord demolish your apartment with neglect, then evict you for having a messy apartment. I expect we’ll get a nice trial. And the be evicted. It’s all about formality and delaying the inevitable.

Technically I was homeless once before, but I was about a year old, and so thus don’t remember it. Being homeless twice in under 40 years is pretty damn crappy, to be blunt. Our lives are worth nothing more to the landlord than an extra $21,000 in annual revenue from new tenants without rent control. Considering he (or at least his limited liability company) is involved in ownership of some 30 buildings and likely makes multi-millions in revenue, it seems a paltry amount of money to destroy lives over. But, it’s New York. Greed is good.

This post is more of a sequel to one I made in November, titled, “Vs. a Life Not Lived.” I waxed philosophical about what my life may have been like had some things shook out differently, and of being tired of the grind. But lately the more I have thought about some things, the more I see one advantage to how things have shaken out, at least in regards to the intended premise of this blog — my love life, or lack thereof.

I got to thinking how my life will now enter a phase; how it was before being homeless, and how it will be after. I see the end of the road coming faster now, as I will enter an era worse than death, or imprisonment. After all, inmates have rights, such as free legal and medical care. I expect to find myself wearing everything I own, in a shelter alongside ex-cons, getting nostalgic about that time in my life when I had things like a door that closed or personal space. It’s the kind of era where it is easy to think back on all the things I never got a chance to do, and now likely never will. That includes being in a relationship, or having sex. My odds were bleak before, but now will be all but nil. Even if I manage to claw back, it will likely cost me, at best, the rest of my 30’s. No man — NO MAN — outside of fiction has had a satisfying romantic life which didn’t begin before forty. None. At least not without having to pay for it.

But the more I thought, the more I thought of the downside to if I’d been more successful in love. If I’d had one lover, one relationship, then the odds of having more would have been statistically higher. And the odds of being in the middle of one now — when I have been going through such horror — would also be higher. As bad as this is for my mother and I, and some of my friends, imagine how horrid it’d be for a lover of mine. The stress alone would likely end the relationship in an ugly fashion due to arguments. Over the past year I have seen myself get angrier, more bitter, more frustrated with my lot, and have much darker and more cynical thoughts in general. It would be terrible, for me and a lover, to put her through such emotional anguish. Even if I handled it like a saint, it’s a rough emotional thing for her to have to watch a boyfriend go through. I wouldn’t want to put someone I am dating through that, whether we’d been dating for years or weeks.

Even worse, desperation and circumstance may have forced my mother and/or I to move in with her, were I dating someone. And if that happened, I’d become even more of a stereotype of the modern dysfunctional man. The fact that most men STILL believe “most women” and “gold diggers” and are only after money is a laugh. Because with modern times and the economy, it’s more like the reverse. Men are more likely to be underemployed and/or under-educated compared to women. I’ve seen far more gold digging men both on TV and in real life (to a limited degree) than the reverse. Even some of my best friends who are coupled up, their wives usually are the breadwinners. But even worse are those guys who move in, become a drain on resources, and feel entitled to that. It’s an ugly cliche for a woman nowadays to fall in love with a loser who almost immediately moves in and won’t leave, citing one calamity after the next. That, along with the appalling way that men usually treat women, is one of the primary reasons why women are so hesitant to date, and why any hint of a “red flag” is bad for them. They’re not intolerant; they’re being careful!

And I suppose at this point someone might say something like, “Well, Dateless-Man, if you were dating someone decent, they’d love you and WANT to help you out, and how dare you not let her make that decision for herself?” To that I would say that you’re missing the point. I wouldn’t want to put a lover through that, to even make such a decision on her part a possibility. I do not want to even appear to be a leech and a mooch to another person, much less a lover. It isn’t simply pride; it isn’t right, period. Lovers should be partners; whether long or short term. They’re not supposed to be carrying someone’s weight. To even bring this heap of drama on a friend is heavy; on someone more intimate would be even worse. I would not want to bring such a decision to her doorstep, and it would tear me up inside to even do so.

I felt like a failure of a man for not being able to make love like one. Now, I feel like even more of one because I was unable to pull myself and my mother out of poverty despite a college education and briefly having a city job. At every turn I have failed, and any time I seem to gain a step, the floor collapses under me.

Looking back, the best window I had when I should have pursued that “last chance” at dating would have been 2014 to about spring 2016; after that is when job instability began. Perhaps when I landed the city gig at the end of 2017 was the last gap. Because I cannot imagine having a chance now. But you know what? I am glad for that now, glad I won’t be tearing a woman up inside over having to go through this with a dude she’s shagging. The fewer people close to me means the fewer people ripped apart by my failure and shame. It’s for this reason that I haven’t bothered with a GoFundMe for aid. Beyond the humiliation of begging for money online, to what end would it accomplish? My friends are broke, or investing all they have in children. If everyone I knew gave $5, I doubt it’d come to more than $1,000. That is too small a sum to be of much use, yet it would kill me to ask, and feel even worse for being so desperate that I’d accept such a scrap.

It is kind of a shame that this blog is not ending on a more positive note, but in a way that’s also fine. There are too many people who see older male virgins as being hapless schmucks who exaggerate their failings and “choose” to be miserable. Many don’t believe that some of us are uniquely cursed, and that our feelings of anxiety or frustration with poor luck aren’t entitlement, but actual human — or animal — emotions. Maybe that is my fate, to serve as a cautionary tale that failure and doom despite the best of intentions and efforts through outside actions by others is a remotely possible and legitimate outcome. That life isn’t all about positive attitude and repeating some New Age hipster baloney about positive attitude or “good vibes”. That sometimes you can hold your head high and march ahead with all the confidence in the universe, and still be hit by the train of life.

It isn’t the end yet, but it feels like it is close. But at least being the Dateless-Man means that I won’t be bringing down a Dateless-Woman with me. Ironically, my reluctance to date has spared some poor women from  being drug into the abyss of financial destitution, or the stress of dealing with someone who is. I chose not to be a leech who attaches himself by his baggage to anyone nearby with a death-grip. At least if I die, I have that dignity with me. It would have been nice to have had a relationship, to have had an attempt at making art through lovemaking. But hey, in another couple of months, I’ll be getting nostalgic about having a shower or toilet paper, or clean clothes.

I just hope through my writings, that at least some of what I have gone through won’t have been for nothing. If at least one person who was a little miserable about their own love life and/or virginity gained something out of this blog, whether understanding or even a good laugh or just the relief of seeing someone who had it worse, then my job is done. And while I am disappointed that my life hasn’t turned out anywhere near what I imagined it would — even 2 years ago — there is a part of me which feels it is about time it has all come crashing down. I can’t take another 10-40 years of disappointment and misery. Best to let it end while I can still comprehend it.

I no longer fear the Reaper. I just wonder what’s taken him so damn long.

That time Dateless-Man revealed his name on a Podcast…

Not a joke, or an imaginary tale! This really happened!

So as I have mentioned a few times, over the years in periods of despair or depression I sought various sources of online advice or camaraderie. This led me to various message boards, websites and advice columns, which I mention at length in my “Virginity Advice” rant last year. Pretty much the only one I found even remotely worthwhile, either as advice and/or providing some semblance of a supportive community was Doctor Nerdlove. That isn’t to say I always agree with him or anything, but out of all of the advice I’ve waded through, he may be the least “full of it” to me. That and I get a vibe that while he, like many “geek male love advice” gurus online, he is peddling books and coaching services, that he genuinely wants to help others.

Doctor Nerdlove, or Harris O’Malley, or “DNL,” has tried doing a podcast at least twice since he turned up online in 2011. His first attempt around 2012 or so was a failure, but his second attempt over the last 3 or so years has been more successful. He does “question answering” advice columns in text, and usually does advice lectures in the podcasts. However, he’s wanted to do a call-in style podcast before, yet he can’t or is unable to do a live stream sort of call system — especially since he usually brings in a guest when he does those. So at the start of the year he set up a voicemail and asked people to call in and ask a question. So in the spirit of knowledge, as well as to bring the topic to a wider forum as a part of that group, I left a message sometime around February or early March.

Not only did DNL choose my call, but it was the first call he picked! The show is about an hour but my call comes in at the 2:10 minute mark. DNL and his co-host Crystal Donovan spend about 6 minutes on it. There also is another caller named Patrick who presented a call with similar themes, where I am referenced again, at the 28:40 mark.

dnl

So, yes, that is my voice (from a crappy cell phone), and that is my real first name – Al. Now, of course, “Al” is the short version for several names, and I won’t reveal which one that is. Alfred, Alexander, Alphonse, Alfredo, Almundo, Alowishus, so many possibilities. I sounded a little anxious because I’d never called into a radio show before, even one that wasn’t really “live.” After going back and forth about it for a few weeks I just decided to be impulsive. I also apparently say “you know” in every other sentence when I speak without realizing it. Other common verbal tics of mine that I have noticed in the past are “like” and “dude,” which I attribute to being a kid in the 1980’s. I also know most voicemails have a “limit” of about 2-3 minutes and I wanted to cram in everything I wanted to say without going over. As it was I had about a minute or so of dead air after since there was no prompts to hit a button to end the message or set the priority, as many voicemails have. I used to leave them for a living, so I got used to cramming in a crap-ton of info into about 1-2 minutes.

First off, I am pleasantly surprised and honored that DNL and Crystal chose my all, much less as the first one. I tried to carefully craft it in a way where it would be appealing and invite some conversation without going off the deep end (which I can do sometimes). I even tried to phrase it a little in the grander scheme and not me personally. I was inspired a little by this incident from 2016, where some of my co-workers made some general “virgin jokes” in the course of trash talking and I had no response. I did like their overall responses and overall, I enjoyed having my viewpoint put up there in audio/visual glory. I’ve actually considered doing a podcast myself for a variety of reasons (either for my usual geek hobbies of comics and anime, or for this, what I call my “Lonely Man Blog”), but never have. As DNL demonstrates, most podcasts are better with a co-host and I could never find one for either subject. I also don’t have the tech, the funds, or the know how at the moment.

Secondly, while I hardly want to “debate” DNL here on a far lessor viewed blog where he’d have no way to respond, I wanted to state for full disclosure that I disagree with at least 10-15% of his views about older male virginity and the stigmas that come from it. He restates many of those views in the video and I knew them already from his column, so they weren’t surprising. I feel our area of disagreement is that while he comes from a good place and would rather inexperienced dudes get out there and date more — as a coach, it’s literally his job to say whatever he has to to encourage that reaction — that he underestimates the stigma both in general society for “older male virgins” as well as the stigma that said society can end up placing on the men themselves. If society teaches you a certain thing is wrong, or off, or taboo, or unusual, it is a very tough nut to crack, nor is it easily overcome in others.

DNL feels he can relate because he didn’t lose his virginity until he was 19 in his second year of college, and with all due respect to him, that’s nothing in comparison to someone who is in their 30’s, of any gender or orientation, facing it. Losing it during college, even if at age 20-21, is right at the edge of “normal” in the usual bell curves, according to most research on the subject. Even I didn’t start freaking out about it or thinking something was seriously wrong with me until I hit 20. After all, at 19 I was still a year or so removed from my first date in high school, so I still had some degree of hope.

Again, with the best of intentions, DNL feels that virginity is no more or less a flaw in someone’s dating history than not having any other experience. In the podcast he compares it to, paraphrasing, “punishing yourself for not being able to contribute to a conversation about quantum physics.” Talking about quantum physics, versus at least a reference in casual conversation to a previous lover or even picking up on those subtle cues or having general familiarity with things like kissing or first base is quite different. Now, the advantage to dating after college is that outside of that setting, or high school, absolutely no one would even “guess” or hint that the reason for someone’s shyness or general awkwardness with dating are due to virginity. The social norms mean that even if someone is a complete introverted mess, the other party by general assumption will assume they are not a virgin. The dilemma that this raises is that then that person will have to assume other reasons for those reactions — for instance, that the man is just terrible at kissing/body contact/taking cues in general, or that anxiety is a character trait. Now, there are men (and women) out there who may be awful in bed despite dozens of partners (in fact, one reason why the count is so high is because no one comes back for a second or third “helping”), but  being a virgin is at least a legitimate excuse for not being any good at it right off. Even removing all social assumptions from other people, reaching an older age and going into a dating situation knowing it is complete unexplored territory where there’s no positive experience whatsoever can be hard to get past.

I forget if DNL mentions it here, but he also believes that people sleep with other people for reasons which have nothing to do with the other individual’s traits or qualities. Reasons include to make a third party jealous or envious, or even for their own egos (i.e. proving they “still got it”). And while this is certainly true, I think DNL overestimates these instances and sometimes fails to realize that even in these situations, there has to be at least something appealing with the other party besides proximity and timing. Even if in some cases it’s as simple as, “I liked your shirt and you seemed friendly.”

I just feel that DNL underestimates the steeper hill to climb that exists for older male virgins and it isn’t anywhere near as easy to overcome them either mentally or with social interactions in dating itself. He operates under the philosophy that “hard” and “impossible” are drastically different, which is very true. But “hard” is HARD and not everyone will succeed. I get why he feels that way and I don’t hold it against him, but there it is. I don’t feel telling them that it’s no bigger hurdle that not being experienced at quantum physics is either true or helpful. A person could, in theory, positively spin a murder conviction to a date — inmates and ex-cons get laid all the time. It is very difficult to spin romantic inexperience at an age well past 30 without either lying (even my mother has told me to lie and say it was for religious reasons) or being confident on a delusional basis. DNL says that other people take their cues from us, but it does strain some credibility. If I express confidence in my romantic abilities and my ability to please a woman on a date, I am not confident; I am DELUSIONAL. An ape with a pick ax has a better chance of pleasing woman than I do. And a woman who genuinely liked me enough to forgive or look past my romantic shortcomings would make me either worried for her own mental health or suspicious.

I suppose it is worth a mention that while DNL didn’t like my self depreciating joke about “Virgin airlines,” which is an old joke I’ve told since 2015, Crystal found it cute and thought if I went at it with that ability of confidence it wouldn’t matter. I doubt it’s that simple, but considering my sense of humor is my strongest social attribute, it’s encouraging at least. I wouldn’t outright tell a date I was a virgin (unless she asked, which is extremely unlikely), so nobody outside these circles would hear that joke.

My question was about how to combat the social stigma without standing on a soapbox, and by and large their advice was to live and embody that image in oneself. They also stressed not to compare oneself to others because we’re all on our own romantic journeys, which is supportive, but…I feel it’s a bit Pollyanna. Clearly the romantic journey of a person in their 30’s who had, say, 2-4 lovers during their youth and have now settled into a long term relationship is seen as more socially normal than someone who is in their mid or late 30’s who hasn’t so much as kissed anyone. And no one sees or expects the journey of the latter to end up well or satisfactory, at least on a romantic level. There have been many historical figures who were virgins, but I’d like to not have to invent clean energy or lead a social revolution to not be seen as a romantic failure.

Well, I guess I did wind up debating DNL in absentia after all. Like in Shakespeare, anytime someone says, “I will be brief,” prepare for an extended monologue. It was great to be a part of the podcast and to help bring these themes and issues to a wider audience. I’d love to be able to comment as an expert witness on dating topic beyond older male virginity, but that happens to be my major, and it’s too late to trade in that diploma now. And I have more pressing concerns with housing and economics lately than dating, which only adds more years to the clock against me. My odds of having more than one lover and having it be satisfying for either or us, nor obtaining any measurable degree of happiness romantically are low, and I suppose I’d be satisfied if some expert told me that, rather than get wishy washy on me claiming all I needed was to wish upon a star, have a spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye and then I, too, am just of worthy of a roll in the hay as that dude with six pack abs, a killer smile and a thousand dollar suit. Because we all know that’s a crock. It’s just poor business for the dating advice circuit.

So, anyway, that’s my real first name and that’s what I sound like. I cited my voice in my list of positive traits — am I right? Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone!