Oceans of advice, and too few solutions

One thing that will come up the minute you either let it be known that you’re dateless to any circle of friends in real life, online, or any other place will be advice. Hell, dating advice is none too rare online; just Googling it will produce nearly 30 million results! They will range from mainstream magazine articles or book shills to people running online columns or message board topics, to even videos online. Everyone and anyone seems to have some magic answer for why you (or I) haven’t been able to find that special someone – or any someone – and get out into the pool. Whether you log in to commiserate with the masses at About.com or send an email to the Playboy Adviser – two things I did in college – you will be swarmed with a sea of advice from experts to layman.

The one thing I never found was answers. I really do wish it was that easy, or it that simple. But the bottom line is everyone is unique, and that means every screwed up person is screwed up in a unique way. The path that made me the Dateless Man wasn’t a simple or static one.

I figured for spits and giggles I’ll bring up some of the most common or memorable bits of dating advice I have ever gotten from friends, family, strangers, articles, or emails and why they didn’t click for me. If some sound like cliches, well, that’s only because many are. We’ve been bombarded with so many sound bite morals in fiction and media that few of us even examine what they mean or even if they’re universal.

“Just be yourself.” – It sounds so simple and obvious, but it’s not. What if you don’t know who you are yet? And what if “yourself” is a terrible, lame, or otherwise non interesting person? Really, this advice just sounds like, “keep doing what you’re doing longer, and it will work out instead of defining insanity”. After over three decades of being myself, I am pretty confident that who or whatever I am is not attractive romantically to anyone that I am into.

“Pretend to be someone else until you learn how to do it.” – This is usually followed about how it’s all part of “the game”. Why does love or dating or relationships have to be seen in the prism of “a game”, as in some sport or contest with a winner and a loser? In effect, this is acting, whether one pretends to be someone else completely or just “fakes being confident”. In the end, this is lying to someone as a first impression, and I’ve never felt that’s a good place to start any relationship, casual or deeper. I know that none of us reveal or act like our true selves in every social or professional setting – and most times we shouldn’t – but shouldn’t dating be different? Besides the fact that I am no actor, I always felt it would end poorly to pretend to be someone else to a woman, and then inevitably have to disappoint them later on when the act has to end.

“Date younger women.” – Unfortunately, I never felt any attraction to “jail bait”. One disadvantage to getting older is that it does change the dating pool one can partake in, which can become a problem in a society where women are essentially manipulated into growing up faster and told to dress as sexily as possible for men’s benefit – even while children, and even while then hypocritically being judged for such things by the very men they’re told to entice. I usually have less in common with younger women, and often feel like cradle robbing even considering a woman who is too young. Age 18 is “legal” and 21 is “old enough for bars”, but even women around that age seem too young for me, and I would feel like a dirty old man even attempting to date one. Heck, sometimes a 23 year old can seem young to me. To switch the P.O.V. a bit, most younger women are into “older men” besides on maturity, wealth, access to things like homes or vehicles, and social status when compared to peers. I don’t have my own place, or a car, or much money, or even a good job. I imagine there are plenty of 17 year old dudes doing better than I am. And at least some of them have a future.

“Date older women.” – Besides the fact that some women past a certain age (not all, or even most, but some) are not my type, my biggest worry here is getting involved with someone who wants to “settle down” and get married, when I am nowhere near that stage. Why jerk them around? To switch the P.O.V., most women who date younger man, besides for companionship, do so because they’re seeking younger studs to instead of the older men in their age range who may need pills to make anything happen. I am nowhere near attractive enough to fill that role.

“Ask out women you’re not into to build confidence.” – I have debunked this a few times in previous posts, but I may as well bring it up here. Usually, it’s men who bring up this advice, usually by switching out some words I used and adding ones like “ugly girls” or “fat girls”. Frankly, I find this entire line of advice to be cruel and demeaning to women. I am past the stage in my life where I would ever feel that just because I am not into a particular woman – that she isn’t my type – that she deserves to be used merely for my own “experience”. I don’t like “using” people, period. I know what it is like to have my emotions jerked around to someone else’s benefit, and I’d rather not ever do that willingly to another person. The worst case outcome of this would be a woman I am not into falling for me when I am merely exploiting her for my own personal “confidence”, which leads to a heart breaking ending and a lot of bitter resentment. Honestly, men who do this sort of thing are part of why many women are wary of them or hate them (beyond the whole “patriarchy” or “rape culture” thing). Less importantly, I’d get nervous asking someone out regardless of whether or not I was into them. Practicing on a statue would make me nervous.

“Go out with female friends to attract available women via jealousy.” – Admittedly, this is one of the ones I got from the Playboy Adviser about a decade or so ago. The theory was that women tended to look twice at any man on a date, even if he wasn’t terribly attractive. While I suppose one could expect some sort of advice based on sexism from Playboy, the fact remained that if I had any female friends who I was close enough to go out on the town with, I’d probably want to date them, not use them as “bait”. Besides, that’s still using someone else for my benefit, isn’t it?

“Just live your life, go about your hobbies, and things will happen.” – Honestly, this was the one that I subscribed to for the longest time. Variations on it include, naturally, only asking out people who are into the same hobbies or social clubs you’re in. It may be solid advice if one, say, is an avid exercise junkie or goes to a gym, or into dancing, or so on. Unfortunately, my hobbies are mostly isolated ones which do not promote opportunities to date or cultivate social situations. My hobbies are basically reading comic books, watching anime/cartoons, or attending comic book movies. Comic book shops are not the place to go trolling for dates, and neither are comic book message boards or tumblrs. At worst, you’ll be seen as some gross creep for doing so and scaring off the women who are there just satisfying their hobby. But most likely you’ll be searching for people who aren’t there, because most of those circles are run by men who get very clannish about that sort of thing. Nobody ever earned a date by going, “Hey, I actually know the origin of Rocket Racco0n! Want to discuss it over tea?” In the end, female comic book fans are still people, not some alternate class of beings. They still have the same wants and needs that any other person has, and that includes looking for traits in lovers that I don’t satisfy on any real or theoretical level. I’ve spent years just living my life, cultivating my hobby, hanging out with friends, and absolutely none of that ever led to a romantic encounter with a female friend or a stranger. I’m not about to start trolling FORBIDDEN PLANET looking for a date now.

“Date online.” – The ultimate format to be genuine and open, eh? The main reason why I don’t is because anonymity and text on a screen doesn’t erase the hang ups for me. I still never know what to say, even if I have been reading someone’s profile for hours. What is the best opening line? Use a cheesy line from a book, and it’s dismissed as stock and desperate. Use some reference to the profile? Just say “hello” and risk being ignored because you’re one of 14,000 people who start off that way? And no, I am not even entertaining what is perhaps the most common form of internet online wooing: “yo honey can i haz tits pleez?” as sent by someone named “BigPenius2014” or something. I mean, do I have to? That’s just lewd and crude and stupid and terrible regardless of the format. And it’s also why any women who do date online are so burnt out that they won’t bother responding to some neurotic wreck like me who can’t even figure out what to type in an inbox.

“Just pay for it.” – Yes, believe it or not I have gotten advice regarding the use of prostitution more than once; especially when someone admits to being a male virgin over the age of 12 online. This naturally ignores the entire premise that most prostitutes are minors or women who have been threatened, bullied, attacked, and violated by pimps or others in their life, and that the sheer act of sex should outweigh an encounter with a traumatized woman who is not there for anything regarding pleasure. As if the moral reasoning shouldn’t be enough, I am hardly in a financial position to afford such things, even if they were legal. My friends have gone to Las Vegas more than once and I am not sure if they ever employed the services of legal prostitutes there or they merely utilized the drunken frat house lifestyle there to land short term lovers, but I never could afford to go with them nor wanted them to pay for my trip. Once I did have to turn down an offered trip to a strip joint for similar reasons; I feel most of the women in such establishments are desperate women being exploited, and I’d also feel like more of a circus freak needing my best friends to pay for such things to me because I am too much of a loser to even afford it myself. Some will mention that since men are expected to pay for dates anyway, prostitution is just “cutting out the middleman”, but I disagree on every fundamental level with such an estimation. There is a difference between paying for a meal or some drinks while getting to know someone or sharing a fun night out versus handing someone a wad of bills to dance for you or worse in a dynamic where if she refuses, she could either lose a job or face a beating. Sometimes I wish I was a real superhero so I could save the women who have to work under such conditions.

“Are you sure you’re not homosexual?” – Maybe not advice, but usually something which I have been asked online more than once. Given the social pressures that exist, being “in the closest” is still a thing for many men and women, even if most of America (at least the east coast in general and NY in particular) is more open about such things now than in 2004 or 1994 or 1984 or so on. There are times I genuinely wish it were that simple, because I interact easily with men and there is much less social anxiety for me. However, I have never been interested in men romantically, nor been tempted or curious. I have nothing against those who are, and in fact have had some homosexual friends dating back to high school (whether male or female). I am not “asexual” either – that would imply a total lack of desire, and it’s not desire I lack. Trust me, I genuinely wish I could switch off something within myself which would cause me to lose any feelings of lust or mournful emotional attraction to women and go about my life without that. During some periods of time I have tried to do so, burying desire and attraction as deep into myself as I could as I lived my life just working, reading comics and hanging with friends on occasion. It has yet to work; it only buries the problem, not solves it.

“Read a book/take a course on how to date.” – That’s just a way to continue this cycle while allowing someone else to profit, isn’t it? No one book or author or source works for everyone, and everyone will recommend something different. Atop that, there are plenty of sleazy authors trying to sell sleazy advice to desperate loser men. Pick-Up Artists – sometimes dubbed PUA’s online – thrive on a healthy market of these sorts of men. I can’t imagine with there being so many variables to human interaction that any set code of rules would work. It doesn’t help that a lot of PUA stuff is usually pretty demeaning to women, and seeks on preying on those who are vulnerable (or under the influence of alcohol). I mean sure, I think most men have fantasies of being able to walk into any bar, be Mr. Cool and walk out with any woman they desire. But that’s sheer charisma or looks, not badgering someone. Advice books or courses authored by women also have another problem – they tend to be advice on what attracts that particular woman. A lady who is attracted to shy bookworms will no doubt advise everyone to hit up their local bookstore and make googly eyes at women in the MYSTERIES section. I am the definition of shy, damaged goods who hides in a corner, and yet no matter how many women have told me in some form that they adore men like that as opposed to jocks or studs, I’ve never once succeeded relying on those details. Besides, most of these things always seem like more of a sell than a chance to help someone. “Yes, you too can woo all those ladies at work or the bar…just for six easy payments of $19.99!” No, thanks.

“Go to bars and clubs, everyone gets laid there!” – That requires more money than I have if prolonged. Besides that point, I am not comfortable in either setting. I don’t enjoy getting drunk, because I dislike losing control over myself and acting like a goofy annoyance due to it. I also don’t enjoy the idea of trying to prey on women who are under the influence. Clubs seem to encourage more drinking and drug use than bars, but above all I cannot dance worth a lick. I have no interest in dancing and have no desire to embarrass myself on the floor. I cannot seamlessly integrate myself into those situations, especially with music too loud to hear, and any attempts to go to bars or clubs either alone or with friends have proven to be wastes of time. I spend the entire night trying to piggy back my friends’ conversations, at best. I am an accessory to their evening, and nothing more. Such settings rely on not only an audience under the influence, but on the allure of charisma and physical looks alone. Had I the sort of charisma and physical looks to succeed in bars or clubs, I would not be the Dateless Man. Instead, I have something which appears to be the very opposite of charisma. Any man placed beside me becomes more attractive and desirable to women based on sheer comparison. Even if I wanted to have aimless hook ups, I lack the sheer chemistry to do so. I am no woman’s fantasy. I’m certainly not a woman’s nightmare, if only because sometimes fear can be attractive to some people. I’m more like every woman’s tedium, the physical manifestation of waiting on line at the DMV. I am the angel of boredom. A better time can be had with anyone, anywhere else. And that’s what people want, a good time.

That’s about all I can think of in terms of the best of the lot when it comes to dating advice I have gotten. If there was some fool proof alchemy to it, we’d all know it because it’d have been commercially sold to us by now. At this point in my life I am not looking for advice or even success anymore, because I have given up on both. At this point I want to understand, for pure intellectual curiosity. Why have I failed, and how? All the advice in the world seems to bring me no closer to that answer.

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