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.