…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.

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26 thoughts on “…The more they stay the same

  1. I have tried to compose a thoughtful reply, but I can’t. You are so wrong. You have as much “right” to have feelings for a friend of the opposite sex, especially when you are both single as Carrie’s new man does. It’s not your job in life to be some sort of hero above all human emotions. I assume she no longer messages you so what did standing back “respecting” her do for you? I get you don’t want to cross boundaries and create an awkward situation, but if you’re rebuffed you can always apologize, move on, and still be friends.

    Here’s an idea next time, if there is a next time. Why the hell weren’t you venting about all your (lack of) relationship problems to her at the same time? There is no better way to win a messed up lonely girl’s heart than be a broken mess who needs fixing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know, what women say, often does not have much to do with what they really want. What we want is to be desired and your self-control and respect you are so proud of can be read as not sexually interested. I experienced something like that many years ago. I had a relationship with a man I completely adored, but he was too “respectful” and “patient” and “controlled” to express a commitment to me. So I subconciously “shittested” him, to find out his emotional investment in me. First it was the standard “I’m not able to be in a relationship”. He did nothing to try to convince me from the opposite, as he respected my evaluation. That was already disappointing. After some months I met a new guy. I told “controlled guy” about him, trying to make him jealous, to obtain an emotional response. But nothing. He even said: because I care so much about you I am happy for you and I let you go. It felt so bad and still feels today when I think about it. So, no, your self control and respect is nothing you will be rewarded for, I am afraid.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well. “no” sometimes means “no”, rarely it means “yes”, often it means “I’m not sure, help me to find out” and occasionally it means “haha, what are you gonna do about it?”. Women are just as insecure as men finding their roles with all that gender mainstreaming. There are very few people who know what is best for them and who can regulate their lifes so that they are happy. Women need to feel protected and because of all that gender talking they are afraid of giving in to that need – subconsciously. You, in listening to Carrie and comforting her with compliments, more acted like a female friend. It is nice to be a “helper” but at the end of the day you also must get something out of it, otherwise you will be exploited and used as emotional trash can. With women (and often with people in general) it is a bit like with tired little children. Sometimes parents miss the right time to put them to bed, when they are sleepy but still in a good mood. Than they become cranky and at some point even desperate, they are very tired but do not want to go to bed at all. They cry, suffer and cannot sleep at all as the parents have missed the right timing. So what must happen now is that a calm and responsive adult takes the frantic kid, says “You need to sleep, I’ll take you to bed now, if you want or not and I’ll hold you down if that is neccessary and sit with you until you sleep.” The kid will insult you, kick you and genuinely hate you in this very moment, but when he or she wakes up all that will be forgotten and he or she is happy and has found his balance again. And when I do this to my kids, I still fully respect them and respect their needs and love them! I just take the responsibility in that very moment to make a decision for them because they are not able to. Also as an adult sometimes you need to be regulated by other wellmeaning people. You do not always know what is best for you.
    And, relationships are always complicated. And there is nothing wrong with settling down with your first sexual partner. One step at a time! What is settling down anyway? To live a long and prosper life together until death do us part exists only in fairytales.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Datelessman, I’ve just stumbled upon your blog and this is one of the best posts I have read in a while! I relate to many things here and would like to comment on a few, but to not overexploit your patience and keep it short:

    I do believe your decision not to pursue Carrie was a good decision. I don’t think she was trying to flirt with you in some awkward way and if she sent you multiple signs, the chances that she actually meant something different are extremely slim. Still, there’s nothing wrong with what she did, I mean we are all humans and I think it is perfectly OK for a single girl to seek some sort of advice and support from a single man. Not everything is about dating and sometimes you just want to have a meaningful relationship with someone (or a shadow of such relationship, for a moment…).

    I also understand what you mean when you say you don’t want to settle right away. I’m in a similar position – I haven’t been in a serious relationship for 9 years (I’m 32 now) and I haven’t been active on the dating scene in a really long while. However, if I ever decide to go back to that (I’m not sure if I don’t want it or if I’m so scared that I feel like I don’t want it), I don’t think I will ever want to settle for the first person, who is interested in me. A) because I feel there has to be something more there than just “we’re both alone, so let’s try to make it work” and b) because if you’ve spent so much time all by yourself, the idea that suddenly someone shows up in your life and you have to share it together is awkward and scary.

    I also struggle with the fact that dating resembles a game, in which you can either win or lose. For me the problem is also the pace. It’s like a shooter vs. RPG 🙂 Dating is like a shooter to me: you have to make decisions fast, commit to the game, accept intense emotions that come together with it and bare your soul, so that everyone can start shooting at you; while I would prefer if it was more like an RPG – you meet people and form a team, but for a while you only accept simple tasks, get to know each other and discover whether you’re compatible or should switch teams.

    Great idea for a blog, I hope you find inspiration for more posts!

    Like

  5. Oh and when I say that women pretend to be interested in something else than what they really want, I don’t mean they are deceptive in a negative way. Many dating rituals are about pretending and it’s something I realized fully when I detached myself from it. It’s not harmful in any way, or at least I didn’t ever mean it this way, but you’re kind of pretending that you’re the best version of yourself: always cheerful, always sexy, always interesting. While trying to stay open-minded, sometimes you don’t express what you really think about some situation. In the same manner some women might try to hide their real intentions for dating and reveal them later on.

    Why fretting about woman’s feelings instead of your own makes you a bad lover? I didn’t get that. If anything, it should make you a GREAT lover 🙂

    I think men and women define masculinity/femininity in a very different way. For guys masculinity is probably something like: being the alpha-male, going to the gym, always winning etc. And for women masculine guy is someone, who takes the lead from time to time, but leaves enough room for partnership, doesn’t spend the whole day in front of a mirror and can fix small things, when they get broken. Anyone can pull it off, to be honest, I could pull it off, if necessary 😉

    I also don’t think there are people, who are really undateable, if you think that about yourself, you are probably missing the point. The sole fact that you have friends is a proof that people seek your company, so why it’s not working on the romantic level? It can be anything: maybe your lack of self-confidence is showing in your behavior, maybe your expectations are too high or maybe you should simply mingle more instead of trying to date online. These are all problems that are solvable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, technically speaking, you’re not a Dateless Man if you’ve been on three dates… 🙂 And in this prison full of women you should be statistically able to date 3 out of 100 women, so if you had, let’s say, 1000 inmates, you should be able to date 30 women! Not a bad result, certainly not bad enough to call yourself dateless! 🙂

    If you’ve met only 100 women that were single and looking to date, then you haven’t been trying hard enough – and maybe this is the real source of your problem. Speed dating is like going to a bar and chatting with someone new for a few minutes, sure it is some sort of an effort, but not even close to a RL date or even dating someone just online. A good way to deal with issues such as shyness, but it’s like filtering profiles on a dating website, only you do it in RL. Your strategy was also bad: you should’ve say YES to every girl you even remotely liked or found attractive, because why not? Maybe she would like you back and you could try it on another date? I would do that, the worst case scenario we would end up as friends or never see each other again after the first date.

    Motivational talk time: It’s almost impossible to count now, but I think I’ve been on more than 100 dates with over 100 different guys in my life and with maybe a little less than half of them I’ve been on more than one date or we ended up as friends. And it’s not like those dates were with just some random guys, who wrote me an email – I was always picky about men I dated and preferred to have lengthy conversations over email before meeting them in person. That’s like A LOT of time and effort put into the dating process that didn’t really bring the results I was hoping for – never felt I met a person that I feel 100% comfortable around, someone that REALLY gets me and I get them. Usually women, but men too, have like this one person from the past they wish they could go back to and try again – I don’t feel this kind of sentiment for anyone I dated, heck, if I had to date any of these guys again, I would try to bribe that demiurge, who put me in this position, just to NOT do that 🙂 And yet I don’t feel bitter about this whole experience, even though I wasted a lot of time I could allocate to self-improvement, and I’m not bitter because it WAS self-growth in a way. All of my self-confidence stems from this experience: when I started out I was sweating and shaking while chatting to people online, years later I was traveling by myself and staying at homes of complete strangers that I met through couchsurfing like it’s a normal thing to do. I’m also a better friend to my friends and because I’ve met a lot of weird/interesting people in my life, I always have a story to tell and can relate to many things that would otherwise be completely strange to me.

    So – what I’m trying to say is that if you look at this process as a hassle, you’re completely missing the point. Enjoy every second of it – enjoy every rejection, every awkward girl you end up dating and every exciting date that leads to nothing. Because underneath all these self-confidence issues, broken hearts and feelings of hopelessness, it will be just SO MUCH FUN, something you can almost get addicted to 🙂

    Like

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