March came and went with only one post. I usually try to keep things up to a twice a month rate, but sometimes I get too busy and other times there just isn’t much to type about, or I don’t have the time. And, quite frankly, until I figure out what my true desire is in terms of dating – to either give up or muster the strength to give it one last shot – topics for articles aren’t easy to come by. I repeat myself a lot here, but I try to mix it up sometimes.
But, I am willing to take suggestions from the cool people who have commented here so far. And after a conversation in the comment section with “Nadja” last month, I dared that I could make a “top ten” list of my faults. She suggested it’s as good a topic as any, and it certainly is. A bit of it may also get repetitive, but that’s just what us old guys do.
For disclosure, this actually isn’t the first time I have sought to list all of my faults into some other medium. During a fit of depression in my late teens or early 20’s, I once listed perhaps two dozen of them in a spiral notebook I found laying around my room. Many of them overlapped but it was the best I could do. Years later after I’d long forgotten about it, I offered the notebook to my mother so she could jot down some of her recipes for me and she found it. To this day she occasionally brings it up, but I digress. Considering that a trial run, my challenge this time was to boil them down to ten without overlapping.I realized I could condense a few into distinct categories and that made it easier. There’s one or two possible things which perhaps could be condensed, but I also considered them distinct enough that each one would likely be considered a flaw by someone else – especially someone I wanted to date.
The order will be from most damning to least damning. And while the position of some of these faults might be variable, the order more or less signifies how critical they are. The last four (or so) are ones which could technically change overnight if I, say, won the lottery. The first six would take far more work to get past, if I could at all. As a final disclaimer, the contents of this list may not represent literally all of my flaws, merely the worst ten, and especially the worst ten in regards to dating. So, without further ado…
Dateless-Man’s Top 10 Dating Faults!
1). No Confidence
I’ve struggled with this one since I was in elementary school and it has only gotten worse. It does stem from “7th Grade of Hell” but also other areas. I have always been introverted, but I have failed at so many things in my life that I have virtually no confidence in almost anything that I do. Things with college didn’t go according to plan and neither did landing a successful career afterward, for starters. I have nothing but losses in terms of women and that has made it almost impossible for me to believe in myself in this area especially. I may have reached a state called “learned helplessness” which means that after so much negative reinforcement and poor results from efforts to change or escape my surroundings, I have simply given up and just see life as an endurance run. It is easy to do when the score is you zero, life infinity. It manifests in many ways, one of which being that I avoid confrontations and am hesitant (at best) to stand up for myself, giving me the impression of being a doormat. And a lack of confidence is a killer flaw with many things, especially women. In fact it may manifest itself the most in regards to dating. Because of my lack of confidence, I see no point in pursuing new attempts or approaches because I doubt I have any chance of success and consider it a waste of her time and energy. I have no inner sense that I have a chance, that there could be something about me that is romantically appealing. The few dates I have gotten in life (three) were mostly a result of luck or circumstance, and even the latest was over eight years ago, when I was younger and had more potential. Without confidence, failure isn’t just inevitable, it is expected. And when one has never succeeded in something, nor had any skill at a related activity (such as sports, or computer skills, or singing, or dancing), it is extremely difficult to develop true confidence without being delusional. There are extremely fleeting moments when I have confidence, or areas where I do (such as writing) to a point, but it tends to evaporate quickly.
2). No Charisma
More important than looks (at least for a man) is an inviting, intoxicating, outwardly hypnotic personality or “essence” which draws people in. It’s more than skill or experience, it’s an unspoken aura or attitude or state of being which immediately makes a man stand out from the herd. It relates to chemistry, hormones and chemicals which date back to our primal days which haven’t been bred out of us yet. Charisma is literally “how you say it”, with “it” being anything. A man with charisma can say the most disgusting, outlandish thing or wear the most ridiculous outfit, or even be absolutely hideous physically, and yet draw people towards him as if he had a super power. It’s possible to have charisma without knowing it while reaping the benefits of it subconsciously; those who have it and know it can (and often do) use it to their benefit, either socially or economically (if not both). Some have more than others but even a little works wonders. If you don’t have it, though, there may be no way to fake it or learn to act around it. And baby, I ain’t got it. In fact, I may have the very opposite of charisma, which I dub “the anti-hormone”. I don’t exactly repulse everyone around me, but within my presence is a null field with which all romantic and sexual energy can neither enter nor escape. Without charisma, flirting is almost impossible; I don’t know when or how, or to what intensity. If you get it even 0.0001% wrong, it comes off as awkward and off-putting (or unnoticed), and there is no margin for error. Unfortunately, awkwardness isn’t appealing and you don’t get a second chance; post-30, you barely get a first chance. I may be intelligent and do my best to rattle off funny banter, but without charisma, I never reach that level of romantic interest. I’m always just a friend or a wacky colleague. And there’s great value in being that, don’t get me wrong. But without charisma, it’s all I ever am, and that can get lonely.
3). Negative Attitude
I’m an introverted cynical pessimist. Part of it was natural; as an infant I would rarely cry unless something was especially dire, preferring to keep pain or discomfort internal for as long as I could. My life’s experiences, especially during puberty and young adulthood, have given me a negative outlook on life. I’ve tried to be more optimistic, and my sense of humor often masks this or makes it easier to swallow. But I often have a bleak, nihilistic view of life, assuming the worst outcome of every situation as a means to prepare for the worst, which I always see as inevitable. When things go well, that only gears me up for the expected fall to come. The CBS sitcom “Becker” starring Ted Danson got the closest to explaining this as “Rubber Band Theory”. I try not to be a raging maniac about it, but it’s there all the same. My own lack of success, charisma, and confidence only feeds into this negative loop within myself. I don’t see the glass as half empty, I see it as about to fall on the floor and shatter, and then I’ll have to clean it up while avoiding being cut. I can find the negative slant in almost anything, and find something to complain about eventually. While it helps me write reviews and critique comic books or film, it can be a drag elsewhere. This also contributes to a dreadful internal self image. While intellectually I know I am not the absolute worst choice available romantically, emotionally and spiritually I consider myself so, because of my attitude and my knowledge of my own faults. It makes it harder to try to “sell myself” on a date or profile because anything I type or say which is in any way flattering about myself feels dishonest, and it seems as if I spend my life cover up my flaws and hoping nobody notices. It is ironic that I seem to be so afraid of rejection, considering I probably say worse things to myself every day when I wake up than any woman could ever say to me (and if she did, I’d internally agree with her). I expect the worst possible outcome at all times, especially when I myself am involved. And even as I do my best to prepare for it, it can still disappoint me.
4). Older Male Virginity
Why isn’t this higher up? Because if not for the other three, I probably wouldn’t be a virgin. It is the ultimate manifestation and symbol of my lack of success with women and my failure as a man. I know my hang ups about this are due to sexist rules placed in society by men, and are not the fault of women nor any particular woman. But it exists all the same. Less than 2% of Americans are virgins past the age of 24 and not only do most adults not want to date them, even other virgins apparently don’t want to either (according to at least one recent study). I’m over 30 and that is well past the time that anyone considers “normal” or even “slightly off” to still be a virgin. I am in uncharted territory now in the eyes of society; the realm of only the clergy, serial killers, or circus freaks. I know I am far from alone out there in this regard, especially thanks to the Internet, but this doesn’t make it any easier. It is a secret which I have to keep to my vest, every minute of every day. It prevents me from discussing relationships or women casually with other people, because my experience only goes so far. It prevents me from offering physical pleasure to a woman because I have no idea what I am doing or what to do. I’ve never kissed or been kissed, never engaged in any kind of sexual activity with another person. It makes it impossible to try to convince myself to be confident when approaching a woman, even online, to date. Unlike plenty of other secrets to have – even a murder conviction – there is absolutely no way to spin this (even internally) in any matter which is positive if one’s virginity was not due to religion or some sort of horrible sexual trauma (and even those last two are heavy to put on people). There is no way to spin, “I was too lame for any other woman, and I was too unlucky to do what most people have done by age 15 while drunk”. Even internally, there is no way to gloss over being “colossally unlucky” at best. Even if I began dating a woman and things got serious enough that I thought intercourse might be possible, I would ultimately have to reveal it for truly informed consent, as I know for a fact some women deliberately do NOT want to sleep with a virgin for whatever reason. So not only is it a secret shame that I can’t openly reveal in real life to anyone without fear of mockery and a loss of respect, but it is a secret which I would have to eventually reveal or work around with someone I wanted to date. It also complicates any long term planning as well; I don’t want to settle down with the first woman I sleep with, but ultimately that may be how things play out. It doesn’t help when no end of anecdotes I have read online from women professing to “not mind virgins” usually end up with them either marrying the guy or going steady immediately. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, it’s selfish and cruel to consider a woman a “test relationship”, as a step on a ladder or a path, when she certainly has her own goals and path as well. People normally go through their “test relationship” phase during high school, college, and early adulthood (even if at the time they may not know it), and by their 30’s one is supposed to be mature in that area. I am at least 20 years behind schedule in this regard, and there is absolutely no way to make up for lost time or compensate for this gap short of becoming a millionaire overnight. The only advantage is that I am absolutely free of STD’s, and that’s not an advantage; it’s a bare minimum. Besides, most men who have STD’s lie about it anyway. “Oh, sure, baby, I’ve got crabs and mange; wanna snuggle?” Even were I to suffer a head injury and get over the first three flaws, this would still be a block to my success. It is a deep dark secret, which cannot be spun in a positive way, and inevitably will come up should I date anyone even borderline seriously.
These four form either a square or a rectangle, and the latter is the same shape as my “Mattress of Solitude”.
5). Unflattering Looks
To be honest, most of the individual flaws from that spiral book draft from my youth could be condensed into this one (with one exception, immediately below). I’m just not good looking or physically appealing, at least under the standards of modern society. I don’t think I am universally hideous, if only because that would make me more memorable. I can say that I have gotten more looks of revulsion from women (which I have dubbed, “The Look of Ick”) than the opposite. The one woman who complimented my eyes was also trying to sell cologne on the street, and that was when I was a teenager in the 90’s. The only women who have ever seemed to find me physically appealing are elderly women doped on up pills in nursing homes (due to grandma I spent a lot of time visiting them years ago) or married women pushing 60 who have lost most desire for their upper middle class husbands who I am not attracted to. I have a red mole on my cheek and my teeth aren’t so hot (I am missing half of one of my front teeth from a junior high incident). No matter how I cut my hair it seems to always be out of style, as if I was born to have come of age a decade sooner (I have bushy 80’s metal hair). I’m a generic face in the crowd, clean shaven or not. I’m about 10-20 lbs overweight, which naturally I could do something about if I exercised more (even if money is tight and gyms aren’t free). But that wouldn’t change my face, or teeth, or the deformity below. Someone on a message board forum once claimed that looks was a “neutral” flaw, which I have a very hard time believing. I’m sure plenty of women just walk around clubs and bars looking for chiseled personalities (y’know, just like men do).
A lipoma is a common form of benign soft tissue tumor made of fat which collects under the skin at some random point of the body. You can be born with them or they can form at any time, and tend to gradually get larger with time. I only began to become aware of it towards the end of high school, but my mother insists that I was born with it (and it was the size of a pimple at that point). It is near the small of my back and is now the size of about half a rubber handball (roughly 2-2.5” in diameter). It is noticeable when I take off my shirt or even if I bend or shift a certain way fully clothed in anything less than a jacket or sweater. Someone trying to hug me a certain way or pat my back in the right spot will notice it. As it is a cosmetic issue (it is under the skin and does not cause any pain, even when I lean against it or lay on my back), most poor people’s medical insurance won’t cover it – and surgery tends to cost roughly $3,000 at least for it. Considering the risk of cancer in my family and that virtually every member of my family that I know (even ones who are upper middle class and can afford good insurance) have suffered some drastic malady due to medical malpractice or errors (especially my mother and late grandmother). One mistake and I could really get genuine back problems. It could get infected. The lipoma could grow back and/or spread, or become cancerous due to being fiddled with. I kept this apart from “Unflattering Looks” because even if I was a square jawed Adonis with six pack abs, this is a weird thing to have on my back and any woman would take pause at it. It’s hardly the worst deformity or physical oddity to have – my stepfather is literally a dwarf, for instance – but it’s the sort of weird thing which would catch people off guard. It, along with not being buff, make me petrified to remove my shirt. I’m even self conscious about it for a split second when I am alone and about to shower. I’ve got a large wart near one of my nipples, but this’ the creature feature. It adds to the feeling of being a circus freak. At this point I imagine that a woman who has somehow made it through the gauntlet of these other flaws – either not minding or noticing my bad attitude, poor confidence, lack of looks, and may not even mind me being a virgin – and now has this extra weird thing to contend with. It’s a mood killer, on top of other mood killers. Every time I feel it on my back, it tells me, “you will never have sex, at least until you are so old that doing so would literally kill you.” And that is a drag. Short of surgery, there is nothing I can do about it, full stop.
7). Low Wage Earner
I’m broke, basically. I technically work two jobs (my 40 hour a week day job and writing comic book related articles for peanuts in my off time because it is a hobby and I get some cash for it) and I’m in the lower percentile of American workers. And this is with a couple of raises these past two years! Lack of money means less spare income to spend on dates, or surgery, or gyms, or super expensive clothes, and so on. Some have told me that being in NY that this isn’t much of a deal-breaker because there are plenty of things to do for little or no money. I think that’s a crock. While I’m not suggesting that “all woman are gold-diggers” or even a high percentage are (and if anything, plenty of men in recent years seem to be the ones mooching financially off lovers), being broke is in the very least unflattering and limiting. If a woman earns as much or less than me, I’m a step down for her. If she earns more, I’m a leech who may try to drain resources for her (in her eyes). I have no problems personally with any woman who is more educated or better off than I am. But piled atop the flaws above, this is just the latest rotten cherry in an unappealing sundae. There is technically a difference between being cheap and being frugal, but that’s a distinction nobody notices or cares about. I certainly wouldn’t want to mooch and have someone pay for dates; it just limits how much I can spend on them.
8). Don’t Have my Own Place
I don’t have control of my own home. I live with my mother in what is basically a “new age tenement”, or a nice way to say “slum”. Neither of us can afford to move and even if I could, I would worry about my mother because she is handicapped with chronic illnesses. But, I can’t bring a woman home even if I wanted to. It is too cramped and there is little privacy. It furthers the idea of me not being a grown man. And no, nobody would understand about my mother; America is a country where the ideal is to move out as soon as possible and then ditch your parents in a nursing home to die at the right time, unless you are well off enough to put them up with attendants at home. Despite all the bleating about family values, American society is all about individual consumerism and independence. I have plenty of fair reasons for still living at home over 30, but frankly nobody would care.
9). No Car
On the lower even of the flaw scale but still there. It relates to the above as it is a sign of not having much money. I don’t even know how to drive; I avoided learning out of the fear that my pals would just make me the eternal designated driver for their booze crusades in my teens and 20’s. Now I regret it since it would have been easier to land a better job if I could, I just lack the time now. NY has an extensive mass transit system, but that limits where you can go and when. Not having a car impresses no one and does no favors. It’s another inconvenience.
10). Not Tall
I’m not short, but I’m not tall. I’m roughly 5′ 9.5”; I look 5′ 10” in boots or with poofy hair. Many women on dating sites specifically scan for this, and it could be argued some are as shallow about this as men are about physical looks or particular body parts. Average height for American men is 5′ 8”, but the magic height is 6′, since that’s tall but not too tall. I don’t have an attitude about it, but my height alone won’t draw any attention to me. Note that as the last flaw of the top ten, it is the flaw which is the least damaging in my eyes. The most damage it does is in online dating, since most women scan for it as they inspect profiles and it isn’t something you can really lie about for long, even if one was going to lie. As I said, this is hardly the worst flaw and as I said, I’m not short; just not tall.
And that’s it, folks. I could do a list of my dating strengths but that’d be about five, tops. Each one alone could be a hurdle, but put ’em all together and they’re quite the sticky wicket, indeed. Each one of these flaws individually would make dating more difficult; but all ten at once is an entire rogues gallery of loneliness. Guys who are the opposite of all this – men who are confident, charismatic, sexually experienced, good looking, financially stable (or mobile) who own their own place, a car, are tall, and have no physical deformities – are what are referred to as “a catch”. And why wouldn’t they be? Women are not wrong to have standards for themselves about what attracts them and who they consider worthy lovers; lord knows men have a million different petty things which they use to reject or accept women. Even standards which could stem from toxic masculinity (i.e. such as finding aggressive men attractive and passive men weak) are not unreasonable since that merely means they’ve paid attention to all of the cues society has given them since they were born.
There were some faults which didn’t quite make the cut in the top ten which should get a mention. I have geeky hobbies involving comic books, anime, role playing games and genre films, but I didn’t include it because without the ten flaws above this would only be a minor problem (as many women are also into some of these and they’ve become more mainstream within the last decade). There is my age, but the dating scene for people over 30 is universally more difficult even for people with experience. I considered my consistently terrible luck, but that’s also something which seems to be universal and comes the closest to whining about something less tangible (life is unfair, but it’s unfair to most people). It could be argued that I am selfless to a fault, since I am unwilling to risk inconveniencing someone by asking them out and seem to consider a woman’s feelings to be more important than my own in almost all circumstances – especially ones where romance is involved. As such it even further corrodes my charisma and makes me come off as someone that nobody gets “hot” for. My morality may even possibly be a flaw. Men who are sociopaths willing to destroy entire neighborhoods to score real estate deals or stocks for themselves, at least in the short term, rarely find themselves alone at night in comparison. I may shake my head as my peers talk about things they routinely use in dating (such as coworkers discussing the “best type of alcohol” to ply women with which doesn’t hamper their own performance too much) or manipulative tactics which are part of “the game”, but the reality is that’s part of the ritual. I consider such tactics repugnant, but I’m one of a minority in that regard. Why does it have to be some game of tricks and lies and booze, I think, why can’t it just be people trying to find someone they like who likes them back trying to have fun mutually? Clearly, I am far too “Pollyanna” for the real world.
One last thing that I want to make absolutely clear, is that I know that mending all of these faults comes down to me, and all of these faults are mine. I do not blame women for them in any way, nor do I expect a woman to fix them for me. I do not expect women to be perfect and flawless nor am I only attracted to perfect and flawless women. I am more than willing to do my damnedest to face down a woman’s flaws with her and help her the best I can, even if I have no romantic desire in her and we’re just friends or acquaintances. But, that and two dollars wouldn’t even get me on a bus. I just wanted to establish that just because I am a hot mess of faults doesn’t mean that I judge women for being a hot mess of faults, nor expect one to not have her own issues to deal with. If anything, my awareness of this makes me hesitant to risk including her in my own turmoil even by association. I would be severely concerned for someone who considered me an appealing catch; I’d assume they were ignorant of the facts and question what could possibly be so appealing to them which makes them neglect them, at least subconsciously. I know women find such an attitude frustrating, and thankfully I’ve never had that problem; no woman has found me appealing.
So, this has been an interesting exercise for me. Condensing my usual litany of flaws into categories which covered more of them right off was a challenge. The only dilemma is the more I think about, the more faults I could add, and the more I am willing to defend them. I’m not fishing for compliments or expect anyone to argue against them. Frankly I’m liable to disbelieve or dismiss statements to the contrary. I’ve been working on fixing these faults for as long as I can remember; my confidence and attitude especially, with extremely limited degrees of success. Unfortunately, I am fighting a losing battle against time. As difficult as it may be to date now, it will only get harder once I get to my late 30’s, or 40’s, or 50’s, or so on. To use a vulgar motto, it may be time to crap or get off the pot. Because of these faults, though, I don’t believe I will have success or that I have the fortitude which will be needed to persevere (especially online). And if I don’t have it in me, I don’t see the point of making beginning motions if I don’t think I will make it to the end. There are no rewards for running a half marathon; you either finish or you don’t. And while there is a genuine weariness about the entire process and all of my frustration, unrequited feelings and multiple soul crushing failures, there is also a sense that these faults in tandem are simply too much to overcome or too much to expect anyone to accept.
I seem to have spent as much time as I can remember trying to make up for these faults, and nothing I am or can do seems to be enough. That feeling of not being enough alone feels like an anchor on my soul sometimes. That no matter who I am or what I do that I am not even a contender. I am simply…the Dateless Man.