Dateless-Man vs. Zen

“This is the life I got left. Know what I mean?” – Mercy, “THE WARRIORS” (1979)

Longtime readers may know that we are at the tail end of what I usually considered my “loneliest time of the year”. To briefly recap that 2014 entry, it’s the period between October thru March (roughly from the build up to Halloween thru Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and ultimately my birthday). I won’t reveal whether I am an Aries or a Pisces partly to remain mysterious and partly because I place little if any stock in astrology. The point is that usually for this six month span, I would become even more morose and depressed than usual. It would remind me of my own failings in life, especially with my love life, even more so than the six months prior.

Therefore, October 2016 – March 2017 represents the third such period I have gone through while crafting this blog. It began in July 2014 as a bit of an experiment. I hadn’t seen a therapist since high school and I was curious what the effect would be if I were to find a format to lay out many of my own memories about my love life (or lack thereof) since it often caused me great emotional pain. I’d tried to write (or type) personal journals for years but never could put pen to paper. But the blog format, where there was always the potential of interaction with a reading audience, seemed to do the trick. And so I laid out practically every major memory and interaction I had regarding the opposite sex. I wrote essays about my own feelings about romance, my own angst over my virginity, and so on. In quite a few articles recently I have stated how I have felt that blogging about my state has had an effect on me, I was just trying to pinpoint what.

In particular, a few times I’ve stated feeling at a crossroads; I certainly did last year. I am in my 30’s and am woefully behind the curve in terms of dating experience. As I laid out, all of my previous attempts have been few and far between, and often unsuccessful due to my own inability to cope, bad luck, or circumstance. Ever since the end of college in my late 20’s I sort of put these feelings in a box, trying to move past the intense feelings of isolation, inadequacy and love-sickness which often depressed me when I was younger. I felt caught between two possible choices. The first is to make one last ditch effort at dating with whatever woeful attributes I have before it is really too late in terms of age to make any impression. This requires literally ignoring the great body of evidence that I’d complied and gotten out of my mind into text regarding my past attempts and thinking success was remotely possible anyway. The second choice was to “find my zen” as I called it, and finally abandon any hope or desire to be romantically successful. To abandon it as I’ve abandoned many childhood pursuits which were unrealistic and move on with my life.

As of now, I have to say that this has probably been my easiest “Loneliest Time of the Year” that I can recall. My angst was at a minimum compared to 2014-2015 or 2015-2016. My birthday in particular was just a normal work day. There were no pangs of regret or frustration, no feelings of inadequacy or failure that I often felt on that day. Even one of my very best friends commented on how she noticed that I wasn’t “freaking out” about everything days before like I usually do. But it wasn’t just the tail end. New Year’s and Valentine’s Day came and went with noticeably less negative feelings than usual for me. I genuinely think expressing so many harrowing memories and feelings in an honest way, which I rarely get to do since I don’t like dumping emotions on my pals too much, has helped. I’ve unloaded years worth of memories with stories I genuinely hadn’t told anyone, or explored angst in a way beyond a vague comment in real life. Furthermore, simply knowing I have a safe space has also helped. If I do have a relapse, I know I can whip up a blog post about it. Some of the stuff regarding “Carrie” is an easy example; rather than need to bury some romantic drama for years from my high school or college years, I could blog about it in real time. It’s helped me move on.

(Incidentally, I had dinner with one of my friends and his now very pregnant wife. “Carrie”, who is the ex of a friend and one of their pals, apparently has had drama with them. She had a shortlived relationship with another friend of theirs who I know, and without going into detail is now persona non grata with most of my local social circle. It explains why she was so surprised that I attended her birthday party, and why she was interested in what I could tell her about the “old crew”. While I don’t judge women based on what others say about them – even friends – it certainly has added a wrinkle there. That even if that 1% chance of her being into me was possible, it would probably poison the well with a few of my closest friends. Ah, drama. How much I hate it.)

This isn’t to say that I am a happy camper, or have accepted myself and all of my flaws in the ways some would prefer. What it does mean that I feel less tormented by my own pangs and romantic lamentations than before. In fact I hardly have any lamentations now. I’ve let go of a lot of it, at least for the moment and the recent past. Maybe I am making peace of things which were never meant to be. I’ll never have a successful “puppy love” crush in elementary school. I’ll never have a hormonal high school fling, or a free spirited college affair or two. I’ll never have a successful romantic prom or school dance. I’ll never have a relationship where, due to youth and circumstance, it would have been be okay to make any growing pain errors or for it to be acceptable if I just want to enjoy things like walks in the park, beach walks, hanging out or watching the stars on park grass instead of more “mature” dating like bars and clubs or more expensive trips. All of those milestones are behind me, and there’s no way to make up for them as a man in my 30’s, when I am supposed to be experienced and together. There is no do-over, no second chance. And these days that’s sort of okay. The notion of that doesn’t fill me with any negative feelings. These days it feels like a statement of fact. It is who I am, the hand I was dealt. I’ve groused about it plenty, and now I feel spent and empty.

I have described myself as going through the five stages of mourning the death of my love life more than once. When I was younger — especially throughout college — I was often caught in a web of denial, anger, and bargaining. I have waded through depression a while, and I feel very much that acceptance is in reach. This isn’t to say that I am promising never to relapse for a moment or two; that’s not how emotions work. But as of 2017, it very much feels like less of a big deal than it did in 2016 or at any point since I’ve begun the blog in summer 2014.

It is possible that it’s due to outside factors. I often find comfort in routine. The company that I work for (and have for over 5 years) has seen quite a few more shifts over the past month and a half. Things at home rarely get easier regarding a handicapped mother and not having a lot of spare money. And the administration, as well as dealing with people who are reacting to it in one way or the other can become exhausting. But I don’t think it is entirely due to these factors alone. I think I may have genuinely reached  a place where I have vented enough, and in a different way, then I have before. It’s the emotional equivalent of having hit a heavy bag until I have nothing left but to collapse and recover, and then walk away.

I have visited another message board on occasion – the one hosted by Doctor Nerdlove, who is among the saner advisers of male geeks online – and I have encountered some criticism that all I have done is make being “the Dateless-Man” into an identity that I can’t let go of. I suppose some of that may be true. I certainly didn’t want to become like this; it’s been a combination of society and my own inability to put myself together in a shape which fits in anywhere. I’m too normal for the true out and proud freaks, but I’m too freaky for the norms. But if so, what is my alternative? The dating game isn’t golf; there are no handicaps or mulligans. It’s difficult for anyone in their 30’s to reenter it for any circumstance. For a man to do so with less romantic relationship experience than the average junior high student is nearly impossible. I’m not a bachelor; I am a collection of red flags and underwhelming attributes in the shape of a man as far as others see. Sure, my friends might talk the world of me and consider me a funny, smart, loyal guy — but none have every been in a rush to set me up with anyone they know, either. None have ever seen me as a romantic being. I simply have never projected that vibe. Men like me are given no mercy, no understanding, no patience — and why should me? Most women have been annoyed, victimized, or even threatened or attacked by men with even fewer red flags. They have no time to take a chance on me, and I certainly don’t blame them. I’m IN me. I know I’m not all that. It is too late to make up for lost time. It would be selfish to inflict myself upon them, expecting miracles.

If being the Dateless-Man has become an identity, it’s not one I chose. It’s one that I discovered I was while I was already midway through it. But to me it’s just a cute name to call myself on WordPress. At the moment I find myself in a place where all of the old rejections, lamentations, romantic frustrations, and lovelorn yearnings just don’t hurt much if at all anymore. I have become numb to it, but not numb to all feelings. I have regrets, of course. It is a shame that I will never get to know certain feelings. I’ll never get to caress someone, hold them, kiss them, make them feel special and lovely in the way that only a lover can. Or, heaven forbid, do all that more than once. But, it’s also a shame I’ll never get to ride a dinosaur  or punch out a bank robber. Life goes on, and I have things to do, hobbies to enjoy, and so on. Regret is a terrible motivator, and I’m not motivated by that. The emotions regarding my lack of a love life haven’t been as hot or passionate as they were at this time last year. The old slings and barbs, the memories and thoughts, even some of the songs, which used to bring me terrible pain are now nothing to me.

If this is what acceptance looks like, I am not minding the view so far. The irony is that if I’d reached this state about a decade ago, or even 7 years ago, I might have thought, “Good, so if it doesn’t hurt so bad anymore I’ll give OkCupid another go!” Can you imagine that? “Oh, now that I feel no pain anymore, I’ll run face first into the inferno.” That’s just crazy. Thank goodness I’m old enough to know that it’s no use chasing pipe dreams, nor is it worth it to lament about them. It’s possible that something could trigger a relapse, but I have no clue what, and I am not eager for it. At the moment I am as close to Zen as I have ever been, and it feels much better than the alternative. To realize and accept, or at least be the closest to accepting, what can never be can be very liberating.

I mean, it could be worse. It could always be worse. And that’s not bad.

Dateless-Man vs. The Ideal Woman

“You’re my type, baby — a woman!” Larry Fine, “Three Arabian Nuts”, 1951

While it’s still February and the specter of “International Sucks If You’re Single Day” still fresh, I thought I mind ponder what my “ideal” woman might be like. I actually did a post like this way back when, but since it’s been about 2.5 years, I imagine it’s ripe territory to revisit. After all, I’ve rehashed other stuff like angst about my virginity more than once, so it’s fair game.

To be honest, whenever someone would ask me what type of woman I was most interested in, I would often feel awkward. But I guess this isn’t enough of a description since just about everything involving women or romantic overtures makes me feel awkward. I feel awkward when I get out of bed in the morning, on a weekend. To be more specific, just thinking about ideal traits I might prefer in a woman feels demanding to me. It feels like I am being picky or judgmental, even of hypothetical women who do not exist. And to be fair, many men have absurdly high standards and demands of women they date or bestow interest in. In fact, when you admit to being an older male virgin online or even acknowledge having little romantic experience well into your 30’s, inevitably someone will insist that the problem is that your standards are too high. And, admittedly, for some men out there that’s true. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, having no ideals or standards for a woman one prefers is bad too. A guy who is “eager to stick it anywhere” is seen as a sleazeball, and he probably is. People want to feel special, like someone who has chosen to date them has chosen THEM, not aimed for the nearest human shaped wad of meat that got within range.

Last year I got a reminder than as much as I bleat on about being an older virgin, I clearly am not willing to lose it at all costs with literally any woman. I know for a fact that a friend of my mother in her 60’s is very much into me physically, at least because younger white men are her fetish, and I couldn’t be interested in the least. In fact the woman creeps me out to be honest. So I clearly have standards, which means I clearly have an ideal for someone I would like to date. Is it possible to have one without being too picky or demanding?

For a lot of guys, most of the traits of their ideal woman are physical. I know that when I dream about women, they never are alike. They often are of different ethnicity, hair color, skin color, shape, and size. If I had strict physical demands, I’d imagine I would always be dreaming of, say, blondes, or so on. Some guys have a fetish for a particular hair color or even ethnicity, which can be gross. Fetishes also play into ideal women I guess. But I don’t, and my physical type is very flexible.

I like to think I am a “face man”. I basically have to “like” a woman’s face. Anything else after that about her, at least physically, is a detail. Naturally, unless you are dealing with identical twins, faces are unique. I can’t narrow down what details about particular woman’s faces that I like, because I have gone for a wide variety of them. It is the sort of thing that is hard to pin down in text and comes off as wishy washy. “Oh, he’s just trying to convince people he doesn’t just troll for hotties”. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There’s been a wide variety of women I have looked twice at. Some have been over 200 lbs, one was a “little person”, I am not put off by physical handicaps. I have naturally looked twice at many “conventionally attractive” woman too. I don’t expect brownie points to being open minded and having a wide physical palette, I am just saying it like it is.

In terms of body type, my philosophy has always been that I do not expect a woman to be a perfect model unless I am one myself. I am not, so I am not mainly looking for that. While I won’t lie and say that there aren’t upper limits to my liking in terms of under or over weight, usually that’s only at an extreme. Again, I have been attracted to women of various sizes. I don’t believe that alone is a strict ideal. At this point in my life I don’t “judge” (for lack of a better word) a woman’s looks in a number scale like a damn lot of men do. “Oh, she’s a 4, she’s a 7, she’s a 10,” none of that noise. To me it’s more of a “my type, not my type”. It’s yes/no, pass/fail. This sounds strict, but it’s actually been more liberating for me since high school. I can go onto any bus or subway or be in any gathering and instantly see many women who, at least on initial physical appearance, are “my type” and they are a variety of shapes, sizes, and ethnicity. I think it gives me more options.

If I am honest, one sort of strict physical ideal is height. I would be intimidated by a woman taller than me. That would be 5′ 11” and up. I would feel even more emasculated than I usually feel. That isn’t to say I would be scornful, or if I happened to go on a blind date with a woman who was 6′ 3” or something I would demand she hunch. But it would be intimidating for me, and make me feel more neurotic. I can feel out of my league around any woman, much less a towering Amazon. It would feed into what I always inevitably think around women – “What in the world could she possibly see in a loser like me?” Some guys are turned on by women they think could toss them around, but I am not.

Therefore, most of my idealized traits I look for in a woman wouldn’t be physical. Probably the first trait I would idealize would be intelligence. A sense of humor is an absolute must. Kindness would be nice, but on the other hand I like sass too. I imagine a woman would have to be a little patient with me, but I’m not looking for someone to mother me. I get enough of that from my actual mother. Understanding is a key trait too, but within reason. I mean, I won’t deny I can be full of crap sometimes (or a lot). I would be anxious around someone who deferred to me TOO much.

Ideally I would prefer a woman who was into, or at least open towards, a lot of the geeky stuff I am either into or on the periphery of. I imagine this is universal; an artist or musician is likely to prefer someone who either is into similar things or is at least tolerant of their arts, for instance. That isn’t to say that we need to be lock step in everything. Like if she’s more into board games or STAR TREK while I am more into comics and anime, that is fine. I am very flexible. But if she wasn’t even tolerant of that stuff at all, I doubt we would sync up very well. Accepting this about myself has also been a process, albeit one which has followed the course of society. When I was in high school and even college, things like comic books, anime, and video games were still very niche and cultish. That isn’t to say that plenty of people didn’t like them, but they were more fringe. Over time that changed and now it’s not uncommon to see online dating profiles where people list what anime, board games, or comics they like (or for even “mainstream” people to admit a favorite film genre is “superhero movies”). Prior to 2008 or so, this was much rarer. I welcome this change, and can only shake my head at angry guys who act like “gatekeepers” of this both online and off. It is a shame that it’s happened when I was well over 30 instead of when I was younger, but such is life.

Therefore, when I was trying to date in my younger years, I kept those geeky things close to my vest. I sort of had to; they were fringe stuff, and I was already fringe enough. This included my previous halfhearted attempts at online dating and 75% of all of the speed dating I did. In contrast, the last speed dating event I did in 2015 was at the New York Comic Con and it was pretty liberating being open and honest about the nerd stuff. Even when there was no chemistry, we could usually talk about that stuff for a couple of minutes.

Now when some guys say they want women into geeky things, I sometimes wonder if they may need to be careful for what they wish for. That is, these days it may be possible to run into a woman who actually knows MORE about their chosen geekery, enough to “school” them on it. There also involves a give and take with passions, which goes with anything people like. Each person has to be willing, at least a little, to indulge the other. If you want your partner to like all of your things but aren’t willing to even try some of theirs, that’s unfair and hypocritical. I am absolutely down to learn some more about someone else’s passions. In fact I usually find talking about what drives another person really intoxicating.

Now onto the “mature” stuff. There is a study that says that adult virgins are so unpopular that even other adult virgins don’t want to sleep with them. Now ideally, I would prefer a woman with experience, if only so at least one of us knows what they’re doing. Two virgins trying to have sex with each other is awkward enough when both are teenagers, but things get worse if you’re both in your 30’s I imagine. This isn’t to say that if somehow I wound up meeting a woman I really dug and she told me she was a virgin, that that alone would be a deal breaker. I would just feel even more pressure since neither one of us would have a clue as to what to do. I also would feel a great swell of pity that her first time was with me. If I’m terrible at sex, an experienced woman can at least let me know so I have some hope of improving. Even though I am pretty shy and awkward about tactile stuff, I have always fantasized about cuddling or caressing. Naturally that would mean I’d prefer a woman who was into that stuff. I do have a fetish but it isn’t anything I rely upon exclusively nor would I ever reveal unless I was in a deeply committed relationship, and maybe not even then. Ideally, sure, I wouldn’t mind meeting someone who was into it, but it isn’t a deal breaker.

Ideally I would prefer a woman who was able to have fun without spending a ton of money. Naturally this is mostly because I am broke, not because I think women are “gold-diggers”. Hell, I think plenty of men are gold-diggers these days and I think that trend is on the rise. Sure, I am game for some activities which may require money sometimes, but I also enjoy simple pleasures. Conversations, stargazing, walks in the park or on beaches or some of that sappy stuff, just enjoying the company of other people. Even when I am with friends, while bars and clubs are nice and so are movies, sometimes I just like to chill and enjoy their company. Someone who wanted to drop $100+ on a whirlwind of clubs every other night may not be my type…at least not for long.

It still feels strange for me to list ideal traits I’d prefer in a woman to date. That’s because I consider myself open minded, and I’m not just looking for an ideal. Especially since my love life has barely even begun and I am not looking for someone to marry right now. I can try to find something in common with almost anyone by using empathy. And I am aware of my many flaws and shortcomings. A woman who were to date me is slumming it, and I know that. Therefore I do my best not to be demanding and to be open minded. It would be hypocritical of me to reject a woman I otherwise was liking for something small or petty and to pine if she did the same to me. I try to lead by example, even to a fault. I try to be open for new experiences, especially with women. After all, I have rarely gotten to be in the company of women I desired or was attempting to court. A woman could suggest bungee jumping without a rope and I’d likely be game for it if I was into her enough. Unfortunately, being this way is considered being a doormat and is unappealing. The bottom line is an ideal is just that; an ideal, nothing real. It might be a guide to work with because life’s more confusing without a plan, but it isn’t anything I rigidly adhere to.

Perhaps the most important trait in a woman I’d prefer would be that she actually likes me romantically. It sounds dumb to say it like that, because of course that’s what everyone likes. I’ve never experienced this in my life, though, so it still seems like an exotic novelty. To have someone who I desired actually desire me back, even if only in a small way. Even if it was at the level of a shrug of the shoulders and a sentiment of, “Eh, I’ve dated worse.” That alone would be incredibly intoxicating to me. I honestly have no idea what such a thing feels like. I often fear that were it to happen, I’ve been without it so long that I wouldn’t believe it or would be suspicious. At the very least I would assume that if a woman did desire me back, it was out of some sort of fluke or ignorance. Either I had somehow stood in the right light or unknowingly capitalized on a solar flare, shift in the cosmic axis or an undiagnosed optical condition. Or through some fluke or pure accident I managed to strike a perfect first impression which I would have no way of following up on. In some ways I wonder if that would freak me out more than a rejection. I can deal with rejection; I expect rejection, and consider it the inevitable outcome of any overture or romantic attempt. I would have no game plan for the opposite. If a woman called me a waste of life, I’d probably shrug and agree. If she called me cute, I’d wonder if she’d ever met another man in her life. I would worry about living up to her ideal, and fear she was seeing something in me which wasn’t there. Which is why having a poor esteem is a trap for any woman I go near (since there’s no way to win), which is one reason why I usually consider this stuff futile.

Having an ideal is a fine thing to have, so long as it doesn’t lock you into one rigid course. Life, and people, are full of variables. A key rule is to be just as understanding and open mined, if not more so, than you’d expect someone to be with you. And that means while having some idea of an “ideal woman” somewhere in my head isn’t a bad thing to have in terms of having a basic road map, it isn’t anything I am hung up on. Least of all because it implies me having a set of standards I expect a woman to live up to, when in reality, I am the one who has to match her standards from a disadvantaged position. Being the Dateless-Man, I am already entering any romantic situation from a position which is only slightly above zero. I am the one who has to make that number rise through continued effort. I am the one who has to prove my worth, live up to some expectation or demand of what she wants a man to be. I feel like I live in a world where everyone is either yellow or blue, and they become green when they meet, and I’m stuck being spotted polka dot plaid. I’m a platypus at a swan lake. Tofu at a steak house. A puppet trying and failing to be a real boy. So in that regard, going over what I would want in an ideal woman can sometimes feel like spending time focusing on a pipe dream.

Still, this has probably been my longest offering in a while, and a rare month where I got in two posts. Next month, I acknowledge another year older as the Dateless-Man. It usually always comes with some degree of depression or malaise, but this year feels different. I haven’t gotten as anxious about things which didn’t relate to work so far. I don’t long to not be alone as much as I used to. Maybe after so many years, and so many posts, I have gotten out a lot of the emotions about this which I had within me. Maybe Zen is becoming closer. Maybe the acknowledgement that finding romance with an ideal woman or even any woman is simply another impossible fantasy to abandon like so many parts of my childhood is near. Maybe I can truly close this chapter of my life this year, and be done with it once and for all. Sure, I wouldn’t mind it happening for me, but I could say the same for finding a jet-pack or a suitcase full of a million in cash. Part of becoming an adult is realizing what is obtainable versus what is a dream. Maybe in not chasing an ideal woman, I can finally wake up.

 

International Sucks If You’re Single Day

“I’m just a lonely boy, lonely and blue. I’m all alone, with nothing to do. I’ve got everything you could think of. But all I want is someone to love.” — Paul Anka, “Lonely Boy”, 1959.

Don’t let the quote fool you. Valentine’s Day came and went and I wasn’t too blue. The period of time from October to March usually represented the half of the year when I got more depressed, morose or lethargic. I’m hardly the only one who experienced this, and studies have shown that the change of season often have that effect on people — less daylight hours. As I explained once before, it starts in October because Halloween represents a holiday I used to love as a kid but has become less enjoyable as an adult. Christmas has tons of false commercial cheer and New Year’s tends to bring regrets. February brings “International Sucks If You’re Single Day”. And my birthday is in March — where I grow another year older as what I am.

When I started this blog in 2014 it was right before this period and I am sure some of my posts during it showcase it. Not only did I intend this blog as an outlet for my memories and frustrations regarding whatever anyone could call my love life, I also intended it as a bit of a self experience. I had never typed up any sort of journal expressing my own thoughts on personal, non geek or genre related stuff in my life. I had no idea how I would react.

So this is the third annual go around of this “period of the year”. And beyond one period of frustration, I’ve been pretty “chill”. Recent reorganizations at work have kept my mind elsewhere, but I don’t think it is just that. Having this space to not only be able to vent, but to have some discussion or reflection after with others — albeit on my terms, since this is my blog — has helped. I’m not saying when the big 2/14 came around I was dancing in the street. Least of all because recent snows have kept the streets slick and ice ridden. But on the whole I was okay.

And anyone who has ever taken mass transit in a major city after February 14th can tell you, it can be a gauntlet if you’re in the wrong kind of mood. I work atypical hours so I usually come home later than usual. As in, around 9-10 p.m. That is after the period where couples who work can still meet after and do whatever. And boy, the couples were out in force. I didn’t witness any platform canoodling but there were plenty of flowers, balloons, couples just drinking in each other’s company. Being that I live in NY, these were couples of various types of people and orientations as one melting pot. One couple that were standing on the train for a while looked to be in their early to mid 40’s at least. The woman resembled Nancy Allen to me (of Robocop and Carrie fame). Since whenever I often see couples either making out or soaking in their time together, they tend to be younger, I actually thought it was cool to see a couple who were neither elderly nor college age.

As also part of my usual tradition, I got some a card and a small gift for my mother. It’s kind of lame that she’s really the only person I ever had to shop for on that day. I’ve sort of adapted it to being another time I have to buy her a present and a card out of the year. It isn’t that I dislike it or anything, it’s just something I compartmentalize in my mind. I barely even like mentioning it because of “Momma’s Boy” stereotypes that I have always felt surround me. Only in America are adults who live with family members and/or parents seen as immature or lessor than. For most people it is an economic necessity too, which also implies bad things. Her being handicapped of course complicates it, but most people don’t care, frankly. The American model is to abandon all of your roots as soon as you can, live alone, work for some corporate master, earn 10% of your worth, retire on 10% of that, and die. Hopefully after breeding at least once. It all seems so small and mechanical to me. Especially as plenty of super rich families all live close by or under one McMansion here like on Dallas. But I digress.

Regardless, I took an “International Sucks If You’re Single Day” without any real period of being glum as a good, albeit different thing. It is more evidence to the possibility that after so many years, I am finally accepting my status on an emotional and spiritual level. Perhaps having a safe place to vent on my own terms really was a missing component. Sure, there are times when I may feel a twinge of frustration or longing, but I don’t sense they’re as long or frequent as 2014 or 2015. We’ll see how I handle my birthday, which I always dread. I never want to be another year “past 30”. Enough of those and I’ll eventually be “past 40” and so on. If I hate living up to plenty of stereotypes of virgin men (I’m a geek, I live with my mother, I don’t have much money, etc.), imagine when I am a literal 40-Year-Old-Virgin. Being a working adult helps with that; I can keep my birthday on the down low, have a normal day at work, and be done with it as soon as possible. That’s exactly how I like it. After all, what is the point of a celebration to me? What sort of life do I have to celebrate? Sure, I have it better than a lot of people and I do try to appreciate that. But on American, NY terms I’m not even a face in the crowd. I’m on the lowest rung out of all of my friends. I am behind them and most of my peers economically and romantically. Why would I enjoy celebrating more of that? Just give me a normal day, thank you. That was always harder at school, where teachers and/or friends would insist on bringing it up every year. Plus, teenagers and adults in their 20’s always want to get plastered on birthdays.

I wonder if part of the acceptance within me, besides the sheer venting, is the recollection and listing of all of my past memorable incidents with women or futile romantic efforts. Actually laying them all out in text form from A to Z in rough chronological order has allowed me to go back at them beyond just my own memories. It was a release of some pressure, perhaps. Or maybe seeing it all in black and white helped me come to a place close to acceptance. I am what I am, and certain things were never meant to be. Fighting against this, hoping against hope, yearning for things I was not made to attract brought me a lot of pain. But now I have it all here, to read and reread if I need to. It is easier to finds a new angle on something. In addition, it’s easier to not have to recollect it as often, since I have it down in text here.

It could be argued that if I really accepted my state, I would reveal more of myself. I would reveal my virginity in my public profile or at least be willing to admit my exact age, name or where in NY I live. I wouldn’t hide my virginity to others or avoid the subject entirely. I would argue that while I may be closer to acceptance, I am not 100% of the way there, and even if I were, relapses or regrets are part of being human. I don’t like being judged, or pitied, and revealing those things openly would result in both. I don’t want to become a laughing stock at work. I don’t want to have some of my friends who are women pity me or misunderstand me. Being aware of public perceptions is part of acceptance. What I am is not normal. It never will be. I have lost too much time. Using the mantle of the Dateless-Man suits my purposes for now. I can vent and share without being judged or pitied on too personal a level, and I compartmentalize this from my “public” life a little. I am not ready to reveal myself as a freak quite yet. I am not ready for many awkward conversations about it. I barely even like to acknowledge it verbally.

At any rate, at least now is “Happy Cheap Chocolate Day”! Corporate candy overstock is my best friend.

Dateless-Man vs. “Carrie’s” Birthday Party

So, it’s officially 2017. A new year, new possibilities and the same old worries. The minimum wage has gone up in NY, which has led to downsizes at my job. I’m safe, deeply entrenched, for now. America has a new President and my birthday is only two months away (give or take). It will be another year as Dateless-Man, and another year of older male virginity. Having exhausted most of the recollections of my interactions with women, at least those worth typing a few hundred words about, over the last two plus years, topics for posts sometimes get scarce beyond my sporadic whining about stuff. But, this weekend was an exception!

Long time readers may recall the last time I mentioned a woman I dubbed “Carrie” last February. The long and short of it is that she’s the ex of one of my friends from maybe a decade ago who I later realized I had an awkward “2nd Base Moment” during that tenure. Basically, during the time they were dating, she was at one of my pal’s BBQ’s, got falling down drunk, and in trying to catch her from face-planting on a porch the side of my hand brushed against her chest. I apologized to her, and my pal, frantically, everyone laughed, great times (for them; I was mortified for an hour). We got reacquainted on Facebook last year as she went thru a bout of depression. Eventually she got better as she met a new beau, and life moved on. Last week was her birthday and she invited a bunch of people to a party over the weekend. I was invited; in fact, I was the only member of my usual “crew” (who I barely see anymore) who was.

At first I debated going. The party was held in two places; a classy pizza place/Italian restaurant and then at a bar which was loosely themed around Dr. Who. “Carrie” was the only person I would know at the party, for one. The bar was also fairly far from home, for another. And then there was my general dislike for parties. But there were other advantages. I had nothing else going on, for one. Another was that while we’d chatted online, I hadn’t personally seen Carrie beyond a quick “hi-bye” at some previous bar shindig years earlier. And I won’t lie; having something to post about here was maybe 20% of it.

The rest was my mixed emotions regarding her. Carrie had been seeing a guy as of last year, but in recent months I noticed a change in her online feeds. Less happy pictures with him, more seeming to acknowledge being single. Some angst about hitting another year in her 30’s unmarried and without kids. On the one hand, we are going in different directions romantically; she wants to settle down with something long term, and I’ve not even begun. She also doesn’t know about my secret and it’s embarrassing enough with a woman I haven’t known long, much less one I have probably known loosely for almost a decade. On the other hand, I won’t lie and say that maybe 2% of me was curious if she would give me some “signal” at the party. I knew better than to unload emotional vomit towards her at her birthday party. As it was, whatever angst from last year is over for me. I moved on emotionally, but am fine with being pals. Since her social circle was new to me, I was also curious as to any possibilities of any of them including single women as well as general networking.

So I got a hair cut, shaved, and put on nice but still semi-casual attire. It was appropriately dressed for the shindig as I got to the restaurant later than some but earlier than roughly half her guests. Carrie seemed genuinely surprised and pleased that I had made it out. I have a reputation of being a bit of a hermit in our social network. She naturally had to move about to different sections of the table as more folks arrived. I chatted with some of the other people there, who were either single dudes or paired up couples. The party in the restaurant was fairly intimate, only about a dozen or so people around some tables. The pizza was okay, gourmet and all that (i.e. light and flaky). There was one older woman who was maybe in her late 30’s or early 40’s who I actually would have liked to chat with, but she wasn’t there long and spent much of her time with Carrie. Overall, at least I thought I handled myself well. There was no noise to drown anything out, and I kept people laughing with one liners or banter about whatever topic it was (usually shared media we liked). I didn’t hog Carrie’s attention and there were moments when I had to “recharge”. But I doubt if anyone there who didn’t know me would have known I was shy and introverted.

Two of the couples there were heavily into gaming and other nerdery. They bonded a little over having Dungeons & Dragons days per week and playing other games. One couple I talked to extensively; oddly I seemed to get along well with a perky blonde who was with an ex-soldier turned snowboarder and thrill seeker. They wore matching tuxedos, but she decided to wear his top hat, so she was like a blonde Zatanna. It was delightfully weird. It also made me think about how being into nerd things seemed to be no big deal compared to my college days. The couples talked about nights playing intense board games like old school couples used to talk about poker or bridge. It made me wonder what it would be like to have a lover who shared my passion for something.

Once we got to the bar, however, I’d say my social interaction deteriorated drastically. It was insanely loud and packed; barely standing room only. It also had live music, in particular a swing band whose specialty was playing “swing” versions of mainstream rock or pop songs and mixing them together into movements. It reminded me of The Mask and my fascination with that film and animated franchise in junior high. Hell, I related so much to the Mask as a tween that it alone may be worth an article. It was a great band, but it added to my feeling of isolation. Some of the people were dancing in the front, which only reminded me of my inability to do so.

There are three reasons why I don’t dance. The first is I have no skill. The second is that I have no rhythm. The third is that I am too uptight to humiliate myself trying. I didn’t used to be; in elementary school during my class clown, pre-bullying days I went to some of the dances the school started holding in the church basement by about 4th or 5th grade and didn’t mind flopping around like a dingus. But then again I also had plenty of pals to chat with between movements. Nowadays I am far too sheltered and closeted to even try to do so. I sometimes wonder if I would were I wearing some disguise and there was no risk of identification. Unleash my inner dance comedian (because that is how badly I dance; it invokes laughter, but when I am the right mood I actually don’t mind performing for laughter). Sort of like a park mascot or…The Mask. Some of the people had some skill (the women more than the men, naturally), but a lot of it involves just letting go and moving to the beat, and I can do neither.

Carrie danced. At one point she rubbed up against one of her other, taller, guy friends who she was very familiar with for an extended period. She wore a rainbow sparkled dress thing and had dyed her hair red. She sometimes laments about being a size 8 or 10 or whatever but it’s all proportioned. Besides, anyone who isn’t sleaze would consider that “fat”. It sounds lame, but sometimes I simply enjoy being around a woman I consider beautiful even if it’s totally platonic. It makes me feel good, in a non lustful way, to be in her presence. To be worthy of her presence. Maybe it is inexperience, or prolonged years of being unworthy or beneath the notice of women I desired or was attracted to or even got along with. I tried not to huddle around her too awkwardly, but the noise and dancing made it hard to chat with anyone for longer than a few lines. There were 2-3 other women there who were Carrie’s friends, but it was too loud for introductions and I was neither confident nor loud enough to introduce myself. I felt it awkward or risking being “obvious” to loudly try to introduce myself to them at a bustling bar without any prompts. Two were in corsets. Carrie has some very unique friends. Maybe that’s my problem, I was the only one of my crew who stayed weird. They all morphed into normal guys after college, and I remained an awkward freak.

I would watch the dancing, the overall going with the beat, and would try to calculate imitating it like a robot. Like most bar experiences, it made me feel left out, like an alien watching humanity and trying to imitate from afar. At one point Carrie noticed and asked, “Too social for you?” I replied, “No,” which was maybe half a lie. The restaurant was fine, but at the bar I was overwhelmed. I wondered if I could handle parties or even dating again, so long as we avoided being lost at a bar. I wasn’t the first to leave, but after the band left around midnight people started filing out, and I didn’t want to miss the last bus out of town. As it was, I barely made it. Carrie once again noted being pleased that I made it out, which she followed up on via Facebook.

I imagined that had this party happened maybe ten years ago, or even 8, I might have reacted differently. My reason for going would have been 100% hoping Carrie initiated “something” rather than acknowledging that we were on different paths. I would have sulked or been jealous about the geek couples I wasn’t part of. It would have depressed me later. Instead I am calm, collected. I acknowledged it all and enjoyed what I could. Carrie did inquire about her ex who was my pal, since he’s quit social media for at least a year. We also chatted about other friends who will soon be parents. Carrie expressed surprise that they would be the first in our group to breed, since she considered most of them “immature”. I joked that most men’s emotional maturity is at best half their physical age, so they were on track.

Overall, it was an interesting experience for me. It reaffirmed my inability to cope in loud bars or massive groups socially. In more intimate settings, I imagine that I joke around enough that people might not know I was shy and introverted unless they knew me well. One half of the evening allowed me to become a part of a group of mostly strangers, and the other half reaffirmed how in many ways I am an alien on my own planet. I will never relax enough to dance, and I always feel apart from people in too large a group at clubs or bars. Carrie obviously made no “moves” towards me and if anything, rubbed up against another guy literally in my presence. There were at least 3-4 other women I encountered that I would have liked to get to know better who for aforementioned reasons I never said a word to. Yet there were no feelings of malaise or regret to this shindig for me. Maybe in a way this was also part of why I went. To see how I would react should things develop in the way I expected them to. C’mon, I’m too experienced to assume that Carrie would reveal some secret desire or I’d bump into another woman who was into me. I’m not a teenager or in my 20’s anymore. I know that’s not meant to be, and doesn’t happen at social settings for me.

And I was okay. I wasn’t skipping down the street about it, but I was okay. It was water off a duck’s back, a fact of life I had accepted. I was more concerned at the end with catching my bus and making it home without being involved in a drive by. Is it possible I am coming closer to my Zen? I’ve lamented many times how I wished that my inner desires for companionship and love would vacate my body. How I could wish to somehow reach into my soul and turn that desire off like a switch, through willpower alone. And sure, there are moments still of frustration and envy. Unfortunately, I am only human. But overall I think I am in a different place now than I was at the end of my 20’s, or even in 2014 when I began the blog. Having this as a safe space to safely vent my romantic frustrations and bleakness has mattered. Getting all of those stifling, humiliating, and one sided disasters of my memories about women out of my mind and into text, where others can see it, has had some impact.

The absence of pain is not pleasure. But it’s still the absence of pain. With my sense of humor and experiences from work I can handle the rest. This party, while short, was an interesting experience for me and my reactions. If this is the development of Zen, of no longer giving a damn about being alone anymore, then I welcome it. I’ve yearned to be free of these urges. Perhaps now that I have vented in essays for two years, I am closer to that state. Perhaps this is a sign that I have entered the last stage of mourning of my love life — acceptance.

And with my birthday coming up soon, that may be the greatest gift of all.

Dateless-Man vs. 2016

“I know, look at me, I’m hideous! Do you think I want to be this way? A freak!?” – Arlen Crane, “Guyver 2: Dark Hero”

Just like that, another year has come and gone. 2016 in particular will be one which may live in infamy for many of us. Many talented musicians, actors, and other celebrities departed this year, as well as the craziest Presidential election in ages. For me personally, it was a very strange year. I ended last year feeling that perhaps I would make a stand in my dating life this time. That something pivotal would happen, or could happen. That I was fighting a battle against time and it would be one of my last years to even attempt to reenter the dating world and garner any kind of success.

It seemed that even the desire to do so opened up the floodgates of fate. My job went through a drastic restructuring, and I had to focus on either readjusting or finding a new gig. I also suffered a knee injury which resulted in some recovery time for most of the summer. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and overall, I was lucky. The only reminder is a scar. I suppose if a woman ever asked, I could lie and say I got it in some bad ass manly incident. But maybe that’s thinking ahead of myself, as I am wont to do.

I began the year engaged in discussion with the ex of one of my best friends, trying to simultaneously bolster her own confidence and emotional needs while wondering when or if I could seek to ask her out. Opportunities don’t come up very often, do they? In the end she said she would take a break for her sanity…before getting in hot and heavy with some dapper dude she met. It didn’t help that she was looking for something permanent and long term, while I am the very definition of wanting to make up for lost time. It’s fair game to go after a woman who may want to settle down, but who hasn’t made such a thing bluntly known. It’s quite another to know that and pursue her for less than matrimony. At any rate, I ended the year debating whether I should take up my mother’s older horny friend on her painfully obvious desire to sleep with me in pursuit of her own fetish. I learned, or at least relearned, that my desire to lose my virginity is not an absolute zero sum game. I drew the line at wanting to sleep with someone I had no physical, emotional, or intellectual desire for simply because it was offered. I suppose it means I have integrity, but that and two bucks won’t get me on a bus.

I went over my flaws and my strengths this year, which was an interesting experiment.

In fact, this entire blog is an experiment. After another morose night around July 2014, I decided to get out some of my unresolved or repressed feelings and memories regarding my own lack of a love life. I’d tried to do so privately via a Word file that only I would read, but I never typed so much as a sentence. Somehow, the blog structure, under an anonymous name, with others reading it (whether a handful or dozens, or even hundreds) managed to get me to actually put fingers to keyboard. The addition of an audience, or at least a potential one, somehow got me to express some of these feelings in as honest a way as I could. My grandfather was a writer and lecturer; writing’s in my blood. Of course, he was also a bad ass merchant marine during WWII who literally run away to join the circus as a boy. It seems the more I learn about my family roots, the more I learn what a stiff I am. Everyone, even my mother to a degree, has had awesome adventures or exciting moments in their life. I’ve got nothing. I almost got run over a few times by cars as a youth, that’s pretty much it. Maybe if I had had that sort of life, even though my mother naturally raised me to not have to, I would have had the confidence needed to be attractive.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect upon all of my past posted failures with women. And simply knowing that this is a “safe space” for me has helped. Any time I am really feeling depressed, or some incident has really gotten to me, I can type up a post here. Having that is a safety net which I didn’t have prior to 2014. It means a lot, especially all of the cool people who comment all the time. Usually this time of year is the peak of my depression, and this year hasn’t been so bad. Not that I am upbeat about the holidays or 2017, I simply haven’t felt as bad as I often do from October to March. Being consistently busy helped, but so has having this outlet.

I don’t do resolutions, and having some expectation or urgency to make a decision on my dating life last year didn’t help. If anything, the universe has spoken; just the mere inkling of wanting to dive into the world of dating again was followed up with economic uncertainly and a very physical and bloody injury. I am fighting a battle against time, where my years of vitality or ability to attract a lover who is potentially under 60 is growing more narrow. Now it comes down to whether I want to heed the universe’s warning or defy it. It would make it easier if I had any reasonable expectation for positive success, but I do not. I would have to act in the face of nothing but a history of failure, frustration, adversity, and misery, at a time when the stakes are far higher than they would have been in high school or college. I haven’t had it in me in the past, when I was younger and had less to lose. I don’t know if I have it in me now. I know it will be an emotional gauntlet which will drain some of my finite resources and spare time, with no reasonable expectation of success. I don’t know if I am game for that. My desire to not be alone would have to override my self preservation. Not being actively miserable isn’t the same as being happy or content, but it’s close enough for me.

I don’t welcome new years; I brace for them. In a few days 2016 will be no more, and a new year of potential horror, wonderment, or both will arrive. I’m sure some new adventures for me will arise for me to blog about, I just don’t know about them yet. Thanks for reading along with me for all this time, everyone! I hope to fill more posts for you full of my usual angst, opinions, and foibles with women next year. I would like very much to no longer be this way, to not have to be stuck with what seems are bad options or no options, or to be able to turn back the hands of time. But I can’t. The most I can do is move on, or onward.

Dateless-Man vs. Envy

And no, this was not an introduction to some Full Metal Alchemist fan art someone made. I just typed the title and that was the first thing I could think of.

envy

I’ve said in the past that I have tried not to be jealous of my friends. It was something I definitely was during my teenage years which I have sought to purge from myself. But perhaps I have usually used the wrong word. Jealousy is feeling someone wants to take what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has that you do not. It would be more accurate to say that as a teenager I was often envious of my friends. Most of them came from “comfortable” middle class households and had more comforts, and less worries and responsibilities, than I had. They also all had more social skills with women and had women show genuine interest in them. None of them turned 21 without having had sex and/or a few relationships under their belts. Pun intended.

I hardly even realized my own feelings of envy often propelled some of my often blunt wisecracks towards some of my pals as a teenager until I was in my 20’s and in college. I realized that was what I had felt, and that it was wrong to be so. It’s wrong to be envious of friends; I should be happy for them. As my friends, their joy and success is in a way, mine. So I took extra effort to purge myself of negative feelings towards them, to be happy for them when they did well as I should be. They’ve all gone on to be more successful and have much happier lives than I have, and I am genuinely glad for them. It can be a work in progress, but it is a work I feel I have gone a great way towards.

But occasionally I have set backs, at least with people who are more acquaintances than friends. One of the oddities of Facebook is that it allows you to befriend, follow, and chat with anyone, even people you hardly remember ever meeting. One of my online “pals” is a guy I’ll call “Skip”, who is at best a friend of a friend. I am sure I met him personally at some bar my friends took me to over the years once or twice at best. He certainly seems to have more fond or definite memories of meeting me. That’s always been one of the odd and frustrating things about my life. Men who I barely recall meeting seem to have fond connections about me and remember me forever. Women hardly know I exist. I easily make impressions on men without trying, but with women I may as well be a ghost. Such is life.

Skip is roughly my age (probably a little younger like most of my pals are), is a postal worker, is into many of the same geeky things, and keeps in shape. He’s coming off of a particularly nasty and sudden break up with either a wife or a fiance, which he has at times handled poorly. He projects a lot of stereotypical (at best) attitudes about women over it and clearly has some resentment issues. He’s been trying to move on and date again, but he misses that deep connection he once had. However, he has one tremendous advantage that he doesn’t seem to appreciate: women find him attractive. Skip sporadically shares stories online of when women give him compliments or flirt with him. This week, however, he “lamented” after a date about how “all these women want to do is hook up on the first date”.

To say that he was complaining about having too much water before a very thirsty man was an understatement.

I understood his plight – he wants a deep connection and some slow burn tension, not aimless hook ups – but I also stressed that being attractive to women was an advantage towards that goal that he could appreciate. But the more I typed, the more some of those hints of resentment and envy bubbled forth. It’s more complicated when you consider the secret that I have to keep close to my vest at all times – that I am a post-30 virgin. A few of my friends know, but he isn’t one, and none of the ones who do share it. I doubt many of them even think about it often, which I am glad about.

At one point I typed this:

I understand wanting a deeper connection with someone, especially after a rough break up. But at the same time, the fact that women are so into you at least physically at least means that your chances of finding it again are good, since you’re considered attractive. It’s a short cut towards finding some of those deeper connections. I mean, think of the alternative. Imagine knowing no woman would ever want to have you, even for a moment, in any sort of romantic way. I call times like that “being awake”. You at least know you can interest women, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. That’s a tremendous advantage. It may be frustrating when it’s not mutual, but at least take advantage of it to find someone who does bring that passion to your heart again.

As you can see I tried to use myself as an example of the opposite end of the spectrum. Skip continued and revealed the women he just went on a date with (or another recent one) revealed that she’d been involved in a threesome within the first 20 minutes of the date before complimenting his eyes. He enjoys “the chase” and wants more of an “old fashioned” woman such as Julie Andrews (seriously), although he did find it “flattering” that women found him so attractive that they always wanted to “hook up” with him. In addition to this, I did have another friend (who is a genuine pal, who I have known since high school) giving more of what I can call “typical guy advice”, such as, “Take the ass if it has been a while to perk up your mood. Hell maybe it’ll even develop into something afterwards” and “Well, assuming she enjoyed the threesome she awkwardly brought up there is always that avenue if you’re bored and feeling energetic”. This other pal is currently involved with his 5th or 6th lover, at least.

Next to me they may as well be discussing quantum physics from another universe. Their love lives and their reactions to women may as well be from another universe compared to me. I’m not saying that it’s wrong for Skip to dismiss being considered “a hottie” because the feelings aren’t mutual, nor is it wrong for my other pal to encourage him to “take the ass” if he can or is “bored”. I mean if the women Skip’s with are that into him, nobody’s being hurt. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex or short lived romances. As my pal said, many times something deeper starts off there; people “hook up” and then later decide they have fun and get along out of bed too. That’s perfectly legitimate. And as I said, I know Skip has been through a rough bit and could use some happiness.

It was just striking a nerve with me, I guess, to see him complaining about achieving what I have always dreamed of. It took all I had to not reveal my secret and say, “Look, you could be like me; a 30-something year old virgin who no woman who was too young to sign up for AARP has ever desired, so be grateful for what you have”. But that’s a secret I never want to reveal until I have to; least of all because of an earlier incident on Facebook several years ago where some of my friends who did know enjoyed a little “in joke” about it.

In the end I did admit:

I guess. Maybe I’m just too far on the polar opposite of it. [Skip] wants something deeper and passionate and he’s stuck getting a lot of vapid sexual attraction. I’m the walking anti-hormone, where all sexual desire goes to die.

I know that while some single guys like me lament about how “nobody likes us”, it can be especially frustrating to have people you don’t like “in that way” be into you. In fact I’d argue the only advantage to being one of the great untouched is that I have never been involved in breaking a woman’s heart. I can’t imagine putting someone through that. I always assumed if I dated, I would be the one who was dumped. I can handle and survive my own pain; I can’t control how others handle or survive their own. I know what it is like to have attraction towards someone who doesn’t like or acknowledge you in any way; I would hate to put someone else through that. I would feel so much guilt. Of course, dating women because you don’t want to “make them sad” or prolong a relationship you’ve already emotionally checked out of bring their own problems to them. Like many things in life, there’s no perfect solution; just choosing which flawed one works for you.

I’ve heard it said that’s never good to measure yourself by how you compare to others. Our own stories are unique, we’re told, and comparing our raw footage to someone else’s highlight reel will always result in heartache. I would contend that anyone who saw the highlight reel of my life and didn’t consider it underwhelming and pathetic is either delusional or starving in a third world country. But it’s difficult when it seems that every peer around you effortlessly achieves what for you is impossible. I literally cannot imagine a situation where a woman I am into desires me, and all around me I have peers like Skip who make that seem a forgone conclusion. When their love life has so many options for them that they can dismiss many of them.

I, on the other hand, am so desperate that there is literally nothing a woman could say which would repulse me from her so long as I was genuinely interested. I cannot dismiss any opportunity because I hardly get any. I spent the last couple of months seriously questioning whether I should sleep with a 60+ year old woman who is my mother’s friend who I am not into either physically or intellectually simply because I have no other options to ever lose my virginity short of a trip to Las Vegas. Desperation is the anti-sex equation, but what is the alternative for an older virgin? Because if I told someone, “I was just waiting for someone as special as you to come along,” that would be a bold faced lie, and I don’t believe in that. Unfortunately, “you’re the first one who thinks I’m hot for some reason I can’t fathom” may be honest, but it doesn’t inspire passion.

Perhaps my outlook would be different if my friends had been like me, struggling to understand and interact with women. But instead they’re all normal guys and I’m the freak. And it’s a role that I sometimes tire of. I tire of being the Xander of the group, the Orko, the Snarf. The funny sidekick who for one reason or another just is not on the same level as the others, and who is utterly useless in areas where it counts. I may be able to make cute anime references or occasionally spout some wise philosophy or insights into people, but I’ve not forged out a good career or figured out how to attract people I desire.

I wish I was so attractive to women that they gave me compliments or I had so many opportunities that I had to fend off the worst ones to get to the best. Instead I’ll probably be lucky to have one lover in my life, probably when I am far from my physical prime. I do hope that Skip finds what he is looking for and at least intellectually understand his dilemma. I’m not exactly looking for one nights stands either; I just wouldn’t refuse one if it arose with someone I liked. I don’t think I’d ever lament women wanting to sleep with me on the first date, even if they weren’t my type. I’d stop at “flattered”. Especially since I’ve never felt that in my love life, ever. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and when I interact with insiders, it really shows.

The struggle with envy is a never ending challenge. I hope to master it someday, but this week probably wasn’t it.

Dateless-Man vs. Best & Worst Dating Environments

I’ve explored a great deal about my love life, or lack thereof, over the past two plus years. If it was any colder, I could solve global warming single handedly. Theoretically, if I were to go about trying to change this, I would need to cater to my strengths. So I figured it might be interesting to examine my own feelings and past to sort out which areas I would be best or worst at. By “environments”, I mean a setting or location. It’s easier to list the ones where I do the poorest and then move my way up. Although since I am still one of the great untouched, one could say there’s no habitate or location where I do well or am genuinely considered desireable. I’m doing this in a free form, free association style so I don’t think I’ll be numbering any of them.

Dateless-Man’s Worst Dating Environments:

Bars & Clubs: I’m lumping these together because they’re similar. I don’t enjoy drinking to excess, and they usually have music that’s so loud that I have to yell all the time. But the biggest challenge is that not only is it hard to strike up conversations with random women who are strangers, but that it’s even harder to even find any who are alone. Even if you go to a haunt on “singles night”, most women will either be with a date (a man or another woman), or be with a gaggle of friends. It’s hard enough coming up with an ice breaker or opener, and having it be heard over the din of music and other people talking. But now I have to scope out who is single and who isn’t with a crowd. It’s incredibly difficult trying to engage with a group of people when you only want to speak to one. There’s no socially acceptable way to say, “Excuse me, ladies, but I only want to speak with her. May I have permission or is this unacceptable?” So you have to either wait until the group splits or try to engage them all, which is as many times as difficult as there are extra people there. And no group makes it easier. As soon as some dude comes over, the collective will judge him. And as soon as I might almost have the confidence or a good line, 5 other guys have already gone for it.

I’ve gone to bars many times with my friends since high school. I have always felt like an extra wheel, desperately piggy backing onto other people’s conversations. I never enjoy myself. The conversations rarely are about anything I have much experience with. Nobody is there to talk comics or anime, they’re talking jobs or lovers or so on. Adult stuff. There’s not much to say about work and even less to say about my love life. At best I am their shy awkward sidekick, making all of my pals look more charismatic by default. I do even worse at clubs, where the music is louder and everyone is jumping up and down. Even if there was any space to dance, I have utterly no ability. There’s no way to distinguish myself apart from “jumping moron #25” or “jumping moron #26”, especially if they’re in better shape and more at home in the environment. Since clubs have less space or volume for chatter, physical attraction is more important than even bars. And that’s always been one of my biggest hurdles, being unattractive. I don’t think I am ugly, but I’m hardly the sort who women tend to be immediately physically attracted to. At a club, this is the kiss of death.

I only went to a club one time without my friends (and even with them, I only went to about 2-3 clubs with them). I paid the cover and then tried to avoid being trampled. I maybe had one drink and stood around planning the best opener I could think of to a woman I had spotted at a distance who was totally alone. By the time I had, it had been about half an hour or more and another guy had swept in, and they were chatting at length. I was in my mid 20’s and it was quite a waste of time. At least when I am with my friends, I occasionally have someone to talk to and it is less embarrassing then being alone. But I’m not at home even with them in either. Bars and clubs really require you to overpower the scene with personality, looks, and/or charisma and I have none. It all feels so artificial. If you try talking to anyone, they know exactly what you’re after and will reject you before you get in a word. Assuming they even hear you.

Parties: They’re similar to bars and clubs. Most parties one is invited to tend to involve friends or associates. If they’re a regular crew, it can usually mean no one is single there. If it does involve some single women, then EVERY OTHER GUY will have the same objective as me. This immediately puts me in direct competition with other guys, whom I may already know, with direct witnesses. If you fail, you will be remembered for that FOREVER. It will be the story the group tells at every subsequent gathering until you all die. Even if you attended a subsequent party with a harem of Swiss bikinni models, someone will recount the one time you flamed out. If it’s a party where I barely know anyone, it’s similar to a bar or club, only with lower volume. You may have to interupt a group, which is awkward. Anyone you try to chat with knows exactly why you are there.

“Hi, my name is–”

“I am not into you, get away from me,  die in a fire please.”

“Hah, look at ____, she just told him to die in a fire! We’ll tell this story forever.”

Fuck parties. Ones that involve dancing are even worse. Thankfully I’ve never been to one like that. Just awkward social gatherings where everyone was coupled up aside for the one girl who was bulldozed by all the single guys, usually. Like Bars & Clubs, the downside to using icebreakers here is that they’re difficult enough to come up with, and always feel artificial. Everyone knows that a guy isn’t going to start up a conversation with a woman he doesn’t know (or barely knows) unless it is fodder for something romantic. That puts an air of artificiality on it, and a sense of futility for me as well.

And no, cosplay parties aren’t any easier. I went to one last year, actually. If you come to a party alone with no friends and can’t break the ice with women in groups dressed normally, nothing gets easier just because they’re dressed like Avengers or Sailor Scouts.

Speed-Dating: I’ve gone on four of these, including one last year at the New York Comic Con. I’ve typed at length about them, but clearly they are not a good environment for me. I have never gotten one full date out of them. They can be exhausting, and feel like mini job interviews. Even when  you feel there is chemistry, someone can have their fill of you quickly. If there are others nearby, they can hear your schtick ahead of time. Many times, the hosts’ attempts at comedy or keeping the mood light are as embarassing as the MC at a 4th grade prom. They’re a good way to meet dozens of women very quickly, and also a good way to be rejected by dozens of women in a hurry. The last one I went on I was genuinely proud of my performance, but it didn’t get me anywhere. Apparently, after a sample of the Dateless, nobody wanted another helping.

Random Street Cold Approaches: Basically, just chatting up women on the street or when circumstance happens outside. Admittedly, this is supposedly the hardest thing to do, a challenge to all but the most suave or sleazy of pick-up artists. Opportunities such as this don’t come up often, but when they do, I botch them. I’ve also watched in awe as others seem able to wade into these sorts of opportunities around them. It’s difficult enough for me to come up with an icebreaker or “go all the way” and try to get a name and number at a venue where in theory it’s socially acceptable, like bars, clubs, or parties. On the street at random feels even harder.

Dateless-Man’s Best Dating Environments:

Schools/Classes: By virtue of my one date in high school. Two things are to my advantage here. One is proximity; women in the class get a dose of me a number of days every week. They get used to me, maybe even hear me speak. And that leads to the other thing, regularity. I am not the sort of person women are just attracted to. I’m nowhere near as dashing, interesting, or charming as other guys. My strength is waring on people like a set of old socks. Not in an aggressive way, but in an, “Eh, he’s harmless/sort of funny” sort of way. The only dilemma I used to face is that if I made a move and failed, the rest of the semester would be awkward, and likely lead to gossip. I’ve heard it said that “things are only awkward if you make them awkward” or “people take cues from you on how to react”. I think that’s baloney; platitudes that people say without ever thinking about them. Unless cues are read properly and both parties are single, an unwanted classroom solicitation can be awkward or lead to gossip regardless. Still, I preferred the time to plan a move (which I never made), and the repeat opportunities. And at the very least, you have something immediately in common to talk about.

Warm Associate Approaches: Unlike a “cold approach”, a “warm” approach means you actually know the person. This may be a coworker, a classmate, a friend, an associate, or someone in your social circle. I can’t say I ever feel at home or comfortable in any setting involving women, but I feel less uneasiness with someone I am familiar with. It makes it easier to get an idea on their interests and a better notion of whether we click. This isn’t to say that I’ve ever succeeded here, either.

Online Dating: By virtue of my one date from OkCupid. In theory I have more control of my initial presentation. I can type and edit a profile, and try to pick photos where I look less horrible. You have more time to reply to any texts and can theoretically reach out to dozens of women in a very short period of time. Were I to try dating again, it would be exclusively through this medium. I really have no better options. I am not going to waste money on bars and clubs where all I would do is pay money to drink overpriced alcohol, stand around, and leave dejected. I can write well enough and if I zealously attacked this I could probably get at least one or two more dates eventually. Probably maybe almost!

Last Man On Earth: With all competition eliminated and all hope of future procreation available only through me…the rate of artificial insemination and homosexuality among women would rise about 1,000,000,000,000 %. However, by sheer virtue of being the only remaining option available, I would become more desirable and my rate of success would increase. Yes, I am taking this premise seriously.

Alternate Planet and/or Universe: Maybe I’m not. In theory in an alternate universe or planet by some sheer fluke of their solar radiation, atmosphere or gravitation forces I could be bestowed with powers far beyond mortal men there. It could be a realm of empathic psychics who find my awkward yearning and self loathing vulnerability attractive, in the same way that Cyclops is somehow attractive to Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Emma Frost. If a guy with a foreign accent can be considered “sexy” just by virtue of that alone, imagine being a guy from another universe. Maybe it’s a dimension where the stink of failure is an aphrodisiac. Or it could be a planet where all the males are gone. Look, I just don’t do well with competition.

Conclusion: It looks like short of getting lucky with warm approaches, it’s online dating or bust for me. It gives me more time to build rapport or set up something, or rely on my writing skills. It does take a lot of work and planning in terms of dates. And I do face having to overcome my virginity, my litany of faults, and my potential kinkiness. But with all other venues being far more difficult, it’s my least worst option. I wish I had a better one. I suppose a long term approach would be expanding my social circle, going to MeetUps and hoping either someone there is single or knows someone who knows someone who is single, but that’s far more long term than online dating. Besides, MeetUps which are geek orientated already have the problem of the one or two token women likely fending off more offers than they want. My ideal environment would be someplace where I had no memory of my endless failures with women, where I felt truly confident and accepted, and where I could sense genuine potential desire in the women around me. Short of a flight to Vegas, however, I don’t think any such place exists in this universe for me. I remain…the Dateless Man.