…The more they stay the same

At least this will flow well with some of the other posts thematically. It’s not always something I plan – especially as I am through with retelling my own past adventures – but the writer in me always likes when there is a sense of flow. It is naturally a shame that events mentioned in previous installments seem to come to such logical conclusions.

Following up on “The More Things Change…” from November, I have an update about “Carrie”, a woman I discussed in that segment. As a famous swordsman once said, there’s too much to explain, so let’s sum up. Carrie is the ex of one of my friends who I had met a few times in passing (enough that I had an awkward memory involving her) who has become more familiar to me as we have connected online (via Facebook). We went from becoming “friends” to me sharing banter with her to private message chats where she would seek to vent about her own loneliness and woes with dating, and even seek advice. While I never revealed my terrible secret, I did say more than once that it was ironic for her to come to me (of all people) for advice about dating or relationships. Society puts a lot of pressure on women (far more than even virgin men like me) to the point that Carrie is over 30, has a Master’s degree, is into geeky stuff and is beautiful, but she was angst ridden because she was suffering from some flaky men and dating games from some of the dudes she wanted to date. She internalized it to the point that ¬†Carrie thought she was “too fat” because she is a size eight. Naturally, being a lovely woman with whom I shared many interests as well as a sense of ennui, I developed a crush on her. Back in November I lamented that I saw no “good way” out of this situation. If I admitted my feelings for her, it would cause Carrie to rethink all of our chats and my words to her, as well as add pressure to her life since it was something she likely didn’t expect. In fact, she directly stated how she likes to keep “friends” and “boyfriends” separate in her mind. If I kept silent, yet another potential romantic opportunity in my life – regardless of how slim – would pass me by.

Fortunately, Carrie’s turmoil over feeling so undesirable because a few men stood her up or dumped her immediately after pursuing her for ages is over. Unfortunately, I now have to see gushingly happy photos and status updates about her and her new boyfriend on an almost daily basis. And this puts me in a very mixed position. I am genuinely happy for her; I didn’t like seeing her feeling so down on her self (to the point that I was concerned for a few hours that she might hurt herself one day) and I am glad that she has found someone to enjoy life with – at least in the short term. I am not feeling envious or jealous, at least I don’t believe I am. Yet each status update from Carrie brings it a quiet sadness in addition to elation about her state. It seems like once again, fate has seemed to tease me with a situation that I am not allowed to fulfill. That my only options were to risk adding more angst to an already angst ridden person for no other purpose besides my own feelings, or to do nothing and await the inevitable – for another man to realize how damn lucky he is that Carrie likes him. That much like many of my past adventures throughout this blog, in terms of romance I never, ever, have had a genuine, honest chance with more than one or two women in my entire life. It is always trying to make the best or come out unscratched in a mess of a situation. It feels akin to being stuck in a pottery class where I am never given clay or technique, only broken glass and comparisons to everyone else.

I believe I have handled the situation fairly and maturely. I’ve congratulated her and wish her well online. I usually click “like” on those gushy photos, because I am genuinely glad she is happy. I haven’t felt even a twinge of anger or envy at the new dude in her life, as I have at times in the past. There were fleeting moments I got defensive about my “longest female friend” Sonia’s boyfriends or fiances, or when co-workers briefly flirted with her. Towards the end of college after meeting a woman dubbed “Scarlet” who I seemed to click with in every way for two weeks, I found out that she had a fiance; for a fleeting moment I genuinely felt the urge to attempt to compete with him for her regardless of Scarlett’s own desires. Not to say I harbored these negative feelings I just mentioned for very long, but they still existed for a moment or two. I can imagine if a situation such as this with Carrie had happened when I was still in my late teens or early 20’s, I would have wept at some point. It isn’t something I like admitting, because such feelings are a sign of weakness for men, but when I was in my late teens and early 20’s I would sporadically cry over my feelings of loneliness or despair. I would never do it in public or even often at home; I would literally go to my elementary school’s yard to do it in private. There have been no extreme depression lows over this. No anger, no resentment, no envy, not even for a single instant. And for that I am proud of myself. I try to be the best person I can be despite everything, and it isn’t good to be jealous of friends and so on.

Yet in the place of these “hot” emotions is a quiet sadness, a sort of weary acceptance of what was already estimated. It was inevitable; unless I was willing to risk putting Carrie in some sort of awkwardness or emotional confusion (which I wasn’t), I was never going to admit my feelings for her unless given some sort of obvious sign that it was okay (which wasn’t an extended conversation about how puzzled and dismayed she was to have another friend hit on her). This was the natural conclusion to this situation, and I am glad that it has worked in Carrie’s favor before long. It isn’t entirely healthy for her to put so much of her own esteem into her ability to succeed with men romantically, but she desires a long term relationship – and besides, I can certainly relate to feeling like one’s confidence can be destroyed by an endless train of romantic failures with others. It would probably have been asking too much for this situation to be “easy”, for her to be longing for some chum she knew who felt the same way or for her to just make a pass. Life doesn’t work out that way. Besides, Carrie’s looking for a long term end to her dating life, and I’ve hardly even begun; a fling might have left her worse off than me unless I was willing to just commit to the first person I seriously dated. Which I can’t say I am with 100% certainty. Is this wrong?

The fact that this all came to a head around Valentine’s Day was the extra icing on the 50% off candy. They’ve never been good holidays for me, why should they start looking up now? While I am a little proud of myself for taking this well, I am also disturbed by how well I am able to take this. This quiet sadness can feel just as disconcerting as passionate depression, even if doesn’t have the same energy. I am weary of all of this, weary of the feelings, weary of the loss and the tease of things which can never be. I want to be free of it, to shed it like a coat and move on with whatever the rest of my life will be. Because unless there is some other planet or dimension to go to where I will suddenly be seen as desirable by women due to some fluke in the sun’s rays or physics, I don’t see an end in sight the longer I exercise in futility. How the hell can I even consider diving into the gauntlet of OkCupid for one last time when I am handed reminder after reminder that I do not exist as a romantic being for anyone? How daft can I be for even considering it?

Random dude who is dating Carrie; treat her well, and realize how lucky you are. Some of us never get that chance with anyone even half as cool as her, not even once, ever. Some of us are just on the outskirts looking on, forever. And one of us is…the Dateless-Man. Whether I want to be or not.

Dateless-Man vs. New Year Doldrums

Just like that, an old year is over and a new year has begun. And just like that, I went a month without a post. I genuinely try not to do that – as ideally I like to get in roughly two posts a month – but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Now that I have gone through my mental vault of previous memories and failures with women, and considering I have waxed on about many related topics more than once – especially my own virginity – there sometimes isn’t much use in typing up a blog entry which is essentially “same ol’, same ol'”. But now that it’s at least February I at least have enough to grouse about for a few thousand words.

As stated some time ago, I consider the period from October to March to be the half of the year where I am usually at my most morose and/or depressed. The change of season from fall to winter can do that to plenty of people for a variety of reasons, such as less sunshine. For me it usually is because from Halloween to Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and ultimately my own birthday, I am faced with a multitude of “special days” which only remind me of my own loneliness and the seeming futility of my own state in that regard. I can honestly report that since beginning this blog in summer 2014, in the name of aiding in my own mental health via expression, I’ve felt less of these negative feelings this year than last. I do believe that having vented a lot about my own past and foibles with women, as well as simply knowing I do have a “safe space” to type about my own ¬†frustrations where I won’t have to fear anyone I “know” finding out about it is helpful. This isn’t to suggest that I’ve suddenly become a joyful optimist singin’ in the rain, but that at worst, having this blog (and those who read it and contribute to it) has at worst done no harm and at best given me an extra cushion to my own frustrations or thoughts.

But that’s not the only thing you’re hoping to read, is it? You want some updates into my adventures (or lack thereof)!

There has been a development involving a recent online situation I had with a woman I dubbed “Carrie” in “The More Things Change” back in November. It involved me becoming online friends with an acquaintance who I also realized was a friend’s ex who I naturally developed a crush on (and just as naturally, saw no viable way to reveal this without pooching things). As the months wore on, Carrie would continue to chat with me via Facebook, albeit mostly to vent to someone about her own woes with relationships and dating. I usually did my best to comfort her and offer her advice, which she seemed to appreciate (even if I did note the irony of it coming from me of all people without revealing my own secret). She’s commented how I “make everything seem so reasonable” and “give the best advice” more than once.

As we continued to chat, and I continued to weigh my options, she finally told me of an episode where she was considering revealing her feelings to a longtime friend who she believes likes her, but never made a move until one drunken “sort of” kiss. She stressed how she usually likes to keep “friends” and “lovers” as apart as possible most of the time, which was why this was bugging her out (in addition to her own esteem being shot by a few rejections). As someone who adores her I of course can’t imagine why any man would reject her but naturally I keep this to my vest (while bucking her up with compliments). Once Carrie got into how out of wack it is for her to consider dating a friend, especially one who wasn’t me, I realized that any sort of revelation of my own would likely do little more than complicate matters. It was something I feared back in November but as the new year happened, became more of a sure fact. According to her Facebook updates, Carrie is now dating someone – whether it is that friend or another dude, I have no clue – and appears far more upbeat than she was at the end of the year. I’m genuinely happy for her. While it certainly would have been nice for her to have “chosen” me or been more receptive to that potential, in the end we are going in two different directions. She is over 30 and looking to settle into something more long term, and I am even further over 30 and have barely even begun to have a love life. In all honesty she deserves far better than an inexperienced man-child virgin with a crappier job like I am, and I know it. I am stuck in this void in which I hardly want to settle down, but I’m not entirely eager for one night stands either – as if I could get either. Still, that’s not the direction Carrie is headed. I’m mildly disappointed but overall not surprised. My romantic life has never been that easy or clear cut before, why would it be so now?

Relating to my most previous installment, I am still planning out the best “imperfect strategy”. To this end I have begun reading some advice columns here and there across the internet. Two of them can also serve as the best examples of what is often out there for men in my situation (outside of standard “pick up artist” sleaze). There is Doctor Nerdlove, a former PUA artist who encourages a lot of progressive ideas with both his articles and the community of people he fosters in his forums. Another is “Good Looking Loser“, which essentially tells you that all you need to do is work out and keep plugging at online dating until something gives. The former is a very welcoming place and many of the people there give good ideas and advice, even if it sometimes can be almost too understanding. If you don’t think you have what it takes to slog through it (like me), everyone is cool with just chilling until you’re 100. The latter, of course, will scream at anyone to just hit the gym and hit up enough women, or you’re a weenie. As always I feel caught in a crossroads.

My least worst option is giving OkCupid a genuine try. I decided (or rather, was convinced) not to hand over money to the website to see my “likes” because many of them could be outdated; merely a total since I first joined in 2006. The best idea is to restart from the ground up with a new profile. Research shows that keeping it short is usually for the best – no more than about 97 words a section. Ideally having at least one profile shot which is taken professionally (as in, by a paid and/or trained photographer) is best, with selfies-via-mirrors to be avoided. But most of all, it requires a slog. Ideally, only 1:20 or 1:30 or 1:50 (etc.) will respond, and out of those maybe 1:20 or 1:500 will agree to a date, and out of that maybe 1:20 or so on will want another. Online dating is perhaps the best and easiest way to make one last gasp at making up for lost time, but it can also be just as frustrating and daunting. I didn’t have it in me when I was in college in my 20’s, or even in my late 20’s when I began my latest job. Now that I am facing down another year, getting another year past 30, being another year of old baggage, I genuinely don’t think I have what it takes to go through with it, to grind it out like I have to (especially without messaging people I genuinely have zero interest or compatibility with just to make up numbers). I am sure I can avoid coming off like a creep in those “private messages”, but I doubt I will come off beyond mediocre either. Yet I am not getting any younger, and as hard as it is now, it won’t be any easier when I am over 40, or over 50. This really, really, really, REALLY is it. I either make a shot sometime soon or I may as well never bother, ever, anywhere. And I am not sure what I want, or what I have the fortitude for, and whether I have any attributes which would help me for either.

So, 2016 begins much like 2015 ended. At least so far.