When your life has given you precious few romantic opportunities with women – as mine has – then the realm of the imagination tends to be the only outlet. As no end of cartoons, films, or TV shows will state, the imagination is a powerful thing. After all, it’s the power behind fiction itself, both as an author and a reader. Our fantasies, or lack thereof, can sometimes effect how we act outside in the world.
As a little boy growing up in “Reagan’s America”, initial fantasies were easily power fantasies. I can’t speak for how young girls interpret the messages around them, as I’ve never been one. But in the 1980’s, most narratives for men and boys seemed pretty clear. Be a hero, get the girl; and believe me, that narrative starts young. As you get older and hormones kick in, naturally, this fantasy grows more detailed.
However, the difficult thing about being physically inexperienced past a certain age is that your imagination cannot go anywhere where it is never been. So while I can easily imagine what it is like to hug or kiss or hold hands or so on, anything beyond that is within the realm of the gods. Eventually we all realize we’re not superheroes and that real life is different, and our fantasies shift towards something more realistic.
Most male fantasies are usually about domination. Defeating an enemy, winning a game, rising above someone else (or everyone else), and so on. I think a lot of mainstream fantasies involving sex tend to be the same. Missionary position, with the man on top, dominating. At least, that is how the media seems to portray it. Yet as I got older, none of my own personal fantasies seemed to involve that. Instead, the things which seemed to hit my sweet spot were far more mundane. Instead of imagining how nice it would be to be naked with a woman, I was wondering what it was like to share a sunset with her, or to talk while watching the stars at night. During some lonely nights when I was in college, when I was feeling particularly depressed and repulsive, I would imagine what it would be like to lay with a woman I fancied. Not sex. Not even foreplay. Just…laying there. Maybe hugging at most.
It wasn’t until I was a little older that I realized I was thinking about “cuddling”. That the sort of stuff I was having fantasies about was the sort of stuff women say they like in magazines or letter columns but not in real life. “Walks on the beach,” is a cliche for a reason. That isn’t to say that I am beyond physical attraction or making a crude joke with the guys now and again, or even a mild fetish. But as I get older, these things almost seem like a cover, like a mask I have to wear to at least appear normal to average guys I am around, or friends with. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what was at the core of it; I was sensitive, in a world where men are expected not to be. I’m passive, in a world where men are expected to be aggressive. Yet my fantasies don’t involve being dominated by a woman with a whip or anything; that sort of thing doesn’t appeal to me, either. Even now, as I type this, while I won’t deny being beyond physical pang, in the end I am not even after sex as a physical act unto itself. I think I am after love, or the lack of it. I think I fantasize more about companionship more than sex.
It happens constantly. It will be a nice night out, a moderate temperature, and the sky will be clear enough to watch stars. And a part of my subconscious will think something to the effect of, “A shame I have never had a girlfriend; this would be a nice night to stargaze with her.” And then I catch myself and shake my head at my own lack of masculinity. “Even my fantasies are lame,” I think not long after, and move on.
The rest of my friends have all cottoned on to how to get things done. By and large they have better jobs and better relationships. Most of them are engaged or with long term girlfriends, and those that aren’t don’t seem to be more horny than lonely. They’re not cads or monsters but I do think they objectify women more than I do; they’ve gone to strip clubs or hired strippers for parties on occasion. They don’t mistreat the women they’re with (even if I haven’t spent much time with them and their lovers since high school and college when we hung out more), but there always seems to be this wall between them and their lovers where they stand up for themselves or are more assertive. I’ve seen perfectly happy couples within my social circle get into arguments that I never would; if I was with a woman as beautiful as some of them were, I’d rarely waste energy on some pointless argument. I wouldn’t be obsessed with getting drunk whenever I wasn’t working or sleeping. I’d be focused on her. I imagine that I’ve taken things to another extreme; I may not objectify women but I either put them on some mental pedestal or remain in awe or anxiety over them, feelings from grade school that have never gone away. And maybe that is why my fantasies remain those of a younger age. Why I fantasize about how nice it would be to spend time with a woman or cuddle, instead of mounting and dominating like men my age are supposed to be doing. Even in the media I consume, while I don’t seek out or like romance movies or most romantic comedies, I do enjoy a good romantic subplot in the geeky media I do consume. I can “ship”, and then become embarrassed that I care that much, even to myself.
It could also be due to poverty. I don’t earn much money so cuddling, walks on the beach or stargazing are pretty much things that can be done for free. Drinking, bar hopping, club going or so on costs money, especially in New York. And if there is a place where women don’t focus as much on what a man earns in terms of attraction as much as men focus on her chest or rear end, it isn’t here. New York is full of strong, independent, career oriented women, and none of them want a moment’s time with someone who is a step below them in the social status, at least unless he is ravishingly handsome or some sort of gifted artist. When you’re neither, and even within your own mind you’re not dominant, you may as well be invisible to them. And maybe that’s a good thing; they’re far too busy and harrowed by a sexist culture to bother with me.
Hell, the goal of men in America is supposed to become rich. To be dominant over all around you, king of the heap. While I would like to earn more and land something better, I don’t want to rich. I just want to be comfortable enough not to worry about myself or my mother, and to have someone to be comfortable with. Yet I don’t want to just marry the first woman I date, because I want a choice to choose her over others not to be one made out of desperation or laziness, but a true choice. I think the problem is my fantasies are akin to what a woman of the 1950’s might have imagined, and the problem is that I am a man in 2014, and those things just don’t work anymore.
I don’t remember all of the dreams I have, but what I do indicates that I dream about women frequently. In most of my own dreams, I don’t “get” them. And if I am having a dream in which I am hugging or kissing a woman, the moment I become aware of what is happening, I know it is a dream because it’s something I never experienced – and then it ends. I’m not even the hero of my own dreams. I know myself too well. I always buckle and fold under pressure, break under competition. Nothing I am is good enough, and that is a very lonely place to be.
Maybe one day something will change, and either my fantasies will become more domineering or perverse, or I’ll just become truly asexual and lose all desire or wants for companionship. But that’s not this year. In a world where the ideal man is akin to a wolf or a stallion, I’m more of a turtle, and not even a mutant ninja one either. Behind my sense of humor, I’m just vanilla and boring, and that’s likely part of why I never succeeded with women or attracted any that I was attracted to as well. Whatever men are expected to be, I don’t fulfill it on any level beyond body hair and physical equipment – not even in my fantasies. I remain simply…the Dateless Man.