Who knew that an article listing my top ten dating faults would prove to be so popular? I want to thank everyone who replied and of course an extra thanks for those seeking to buck me up and/or flatter me with what they saw as my strengths. Considering one commentor suggesting I do a fault list got me inspired enough to do it, it’s only fair that I attempt to balance it out with a list of my dating strengths – especially since at least 3 or more commentors suggested I do that. I’m a bit of a pessimist, but even pessimists should bow to peer pressure now and then.
But first to get it out of the way, I thought I’d insert an addendum (or addition) to that top ten dating faults list. I’ve had some time to think about it and absorb some of the comments, and some of you out there disagreed with some of my faults. In particular, some of the ones towards the bottom of the list (such as “No Car” or “Not Tall”). To this I submit one which I suppose could be a side effect of some of the other ones (such as “Negative Attitude”), and that would be a “Bad Temper”. While I am not a walking rageaholic, I do have a bad temper when it is riled. I’ve known about this since I was a kid so I usually spend a great deal of time bottling it, as I do with most of my emotions. I tend to be so reasonable and patient that I imagine most people who know me would be shocked if I claimed this; some have never seen me angry or if they had, it hasn’t been since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, due to my lack of confidence I seem unable to summon it forth when it would have been useful – such as when I was being picked on during 7th grade or even high school. My own fears and anxieties seem to counteract it. Usually when I do vent it is in safer places or against lessor issues, and never against women. I’m not violent and my temper never lasts long, usually a few seconds. Because I know about it, I take active steps to make sure I don’t lash out with it and can manage it as best I can. But it still exists, and it arguably is more of a red flag than not being tall or not having a car. So for those who objected to some of those flaws, insert this one in the list instead!
Unlike the list of flaws, which I sort of did a first draft of years earlier in a spiral notebook, listing off my strengths (at least in terms of dating) ventures a bit more into uncharted territory for me. Although there are a few things about myself that I have some pride in, I try not to be an arrogant person or someone who overestimates themselves, especially in areas like dating where I objectively know that I’ve routinely failed. In the 1973 film “Magnum Force”, which is the second of the “Dirty Harry” film series, Harry Callahan (played by Clint Eastwood) famously adds to his list of catch phrases with the line, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I certainly always feel that I certainly know mine, which sometimes prevents me from getting in over my head. Add in “Negativity Bias“, a psychological theory which suggests that negative things feel more “honest” to some of us than positive things, and listing positive dating traits can seem like a more challenging and dishonest exercise. After all, clearly no woman has thought any of my strengths outweighed my flaws enough that she became romantically interested in me. It can feel like listing off the positive traits of a car that is a lemon, and being a used car salesman trying to unload…myself. “Sure, the engine catches on fire and there’re no seat-belts, but check out the nifty cup holder!” And while I’ve never said that I have zero positive qualities, the trick is having ones which are genuinely romantically appealing to other people in enough ways that they counteract the “red flags” that I have sticking out of me. While I think over them, a part of me almost always seeks to counteract them with caveats. I suppose I could have asked some of my friends who are women, but without knowing the context it might have seemed like I was fishing for compliments. And I haven’t told my friends that I write a “lonely man blog” during some of my free time.
But, enough dawdling! Let’s see how deep I get into this. Remember, these may not me my sum total of positive qualities as a person, but the ones which I feel via experience or interaction are my most positive traits towards women I would like to date.
Dateless-Man’s Top 10 Dating Super Powers!
1). Sense of Humor
This is a no-brainer for me. I all but over rely on my sense of humor to be sociable with people. I seem to always be able to come up with some sort of quip or wisecrack about something in my environment or life when I have to. This isn’t to say that I can’t have serious or straightforward conversations, but there’s a reason why I attached to Spider-Man as one of my favorite superheroes as a kid. It is because of this that people who know me seem to doubt I am shy or afraid to talk to women at all. What I lack in confidence, charisma, good looks, or anything sexually appealing I usually try to make up for in laughs. At the last speed dating event I attended at the New York Comic Con last year, I surprised myself by how well I was able to utilize this, even when things got awkward. Unless someone is a fairly humorless person, I can usually get almost anyone to laugh. It’s almost an unconscious ability; I’ve always been able to do this. I usually stick to more PG stuff until I get to know my audience, and I’m hardly a stand up comedian (even if I have had no end of people suggest I try it out since high school). It’s a useful skill for life in general; it can be a very cruel and depressing enough place without being able to find something to laugh at, even something dark. My own dating exploits and lack of game would be utterly hilarious if I wasn’t the one experiencing it, after all. This used to fade when I got nervous, but I think in recent years it’s become more formidable.
To the best of my ability I try to be reasonable and understanding towards other people, women especially. I don’t judge a woman by her past, or her profession, or her hobbies, or her libido. Being a social worker for a while allowed me to better learn how to be more of an empath towards others, to be able to place myself in their shoes as best as I can to be better able to understand where they are coming from. But to be honest, I think I was able to do this a little even before I went to college. I’m not the sort of guy who would judge a woman by her ex’s or by abuse she suffered, nor have any misconceptions about her based on whatever she was into (at least when compared to the average guy). In fact if I liked a woman, there is little she could tell me about herself which by itself would scare me off. “You hide bodies for the mob? Well, I’m a telemarketer, so to each their own.” As a part of this, I do not have a “Madonna/Whore” complex like a lot of men I know, including many of my friends and co-workers. It’s hypocritical, among other things. I imagine because of this, it’s been one reason why I’ve been able to have friends who are women without getting too mixed up over feelings for long. This isn’t to say that I’m perfect or don’t have trouble thinking women all think as a “hive-mind” or can get mired in stereotypes about gender (especially since growing up in the 80’s I was fed a lot of them in media), but I do my best to avoid being stuck in that quagmire all the time with everyone.
I hesitated for quite a while before I put this one on. But, I thought about the people who knew me that if asked this question, would likely note that I was “smart”. It always feels vain and misguided to claim this about myself to such a degree – I feel like those animated shorts when Wile E. Coyote faces off against Bugs Bunny and makes sure to always introduce himself as “super genius” before he gets flattened or blown up. And for someone who has been told by others for as long as he could remember how bright he was, I always felt like a blithering idiot who just couldn’t figure out how to fit in or do what was expected of me all the time. Nor am I intelligent in a terribly useful way – such as about computers, engineering, or finance. While intelligence in a woman certainly is something appealing for me, I wonder how appealing it is to women if it isn’t projected in a way relating to economics or identity. Mark Zuckerberg’s intellect is easy to see as attractive; he’s used it to make himself wealthy and famous, and to connect untold millions across the globe to each other. That all said, I’m at least aware that my deductive reasoning skills are usually above most average people. That actually hasn’t made my life any easier; I can certainly understand how the saying, “ignorance is bliss” arose. And to be honest; if I was a total hunk with a huge bank account, even if I was dumb as a post, I’d never go home alone (and vice versa; if anything I’ve known plenty of men who seem to actively dislike women smarter than they are). Naturally, this includes being articulate and being able to type well enough on a blog. But, if only to fill out the numbers, let’s just put this on and move on.
Although I have never had sex, or even had a make out session, before (and at this rate, probably never will), I do believe I am sensual. Supposedly, women like this. By this I mean that I am not looking to merely mount someone, thrust a few times, and then roll over and go to sleep. When I fantasize about sex or making love I imagine it as a completely sensual affair. Kissing, cuddling, holding, caressing, massaging, and so forth. I am not looking for physical interactions with a woman to be short or quick. I envision it as a sort of physical art if done right. And all art is subjective, dependent on the whims of both the artist and those experiencing the art, and has to even adjust and change towards those whims and expectations. What each person deems as sensuality differs, but I think everyone to a degree wants it. As badly as I would like to have sex, I don’t consider it as a completely one sided affair; I would want her to get pleasure out of it, too.
5). Does Not want Sex at All Costs
To some limited degree this probably helps stifle my attempts at dating (alongside sheer cowardice and inexperience), but overall this means there are lines I would not cross in order to sleep with someone. I do not believe in drinking to excess nor taking advantage of someone who has. I don’t play manipulative pick up artist games (like “negging”) towards dating. While I would not oppose a “one night stand” or going behind hand holding on the first date, I’m not aggressive about pushing someone’s boundaries. Consent is key, end of story. As much as I may desire somebody, I still respect them as a person with their own desires and needs, chief among them to feel safe and comfortable. While I have been tempted with ideas involving seeking out a sexual surrogate and a legal brothel in Las Vegas, ultimately I would refuse to utilize either even if money were no longer a roadblock towards them. I don’t see women as flesh to be conquered, and I don’t subscribe to the “all’s fair in love and war” motto. The irony is that when the topic of me doing a list of strengths came up last month and I replied in the comments section, I wrote that I’d struggle to list more than a few and jokingly included, “not a date rapist”. Well, here we are. Regardless, I would not want to pressure someone into sleeping with me and would want such a choice to be something they were actively enthusiastic about – even if such a thing would probably make me suspicious (or concerned that they were misinformed about me). Obviously, I am not one of those guys who subscribes to the “she didn’t say no” mantra and instead go with the “she has to say yes” mantra instead.
I’d argue I have this to a fault, but lack of it is definitely a problem with many men. They seem ignorant of their own faults and/or ignorant of how they come off to other people, especially women. While being acutely aware of all of my faults (or at least most of the ones I’ve identified) may cripple me with asking anyone out, it also allows me to attempt to compensate on them, work on them, or at the very least not bombard someone with them deliberately. To be forewarned is to be forearmed, after all. That also means that I’m not looking towards a woman to identify my flaws and work on them for me; that’s a journey I’m already on which is independent of her. I know I can have a temper, so I am work on it. I know I have a negative attitude, so I work on it or acknowledge it, etc.
I’m a loyal friend, so it stands to reason I would be a loyal lover. I don’t imagine myself ever cheating on someone, and not merely because I sincerely doubt two people would ever be interested in me romantically in general (much less at the same time). While I’m not avidly looking to settle down with or marry the first woman I date, and would like to have some experience before I made that plunge, I’m also not looking for a harem either. I feel it’s wrong to juggle romantic relationships as if they’re rubber balls. Once I’ve made a connection with someone, I don’t scare off easily. If she has some faults or demons, I’m willing to face them with her. In real life this doesn’t count for very much, nor is it sexually appealing, but I do think it is worth a mention.
8). Not an Addict
I am not addicted to any substances. I am not an alcoholic nor am addicted to any other drugs. While I am willing to have a drink or two in social situations I don’t avidly drink to excess nor do I rely on it as a crutch. To a degree this is bad because most people in their 20’s seem to live to get plastered and I could probably use some “liquid courage” (to the point that a few times my pals have remarked, “the bug up his ass slips out when he’s buzzed” about me). But I know the danger of relying on it too much; alcoholism runs in my family. In fact my awareness that I am an “addictive personality” means I limit what I become addicted to. For the moment it’s the Internet, comic books, anime, and chocolate, and I intend to keep it there. Many men out there are addicts to something or other and I know that can be a major red flag (and/or an inevitable relationship killer). I have many red flags, but this isn’t one of them. I also don’t judge a woman who enjoys some alcohol or some recreational drugs (such as pot) so long as she isn’t an addict either.
9). Decent Voice
This is definitely reaching, but at least it allows me to list more than seven. While I certainly don’t have a perfectly seductive Barry Manilow/Keith David deep voice, I don’t have a high pitched or terribly nasal one either. My voice does technically aid me in earning a living. At worst my voice sounds like a recording one gets for “Moviephone” or the announcer on the Staten Island Ferry. While I do have a slight “Nu Yawk accent”, it isn’t as pronounced as it is for many others (to the point that not everyone notices when I talk to them out of state for work). Hey, if I was willing to note “Not Tall” as a flaw, I may as well note “Doesn’t Have the Worst Voice” as a strength, darn it!
10). Likes Cats
Firmly in the “reaching” territory, but it’s apparently important enough that online dating sites such as OKCupid have a specific section for it. While there is overlap in regards to the “cats vs. dogs paradigm”, the cliche is that men prefer dogs and women prefer cats. I’m actually the exact opposite (to the point that I have a phobia of large dogs). Some women fret about being seen as a “crazy cat lady” if they have more than two; to me I just call that a “pride”. I used to have a cat as a kid and they always remind me of a simpler time in my life. In fact the only downside to this is (and please forgive the dirty joke that is coming) if I was invited to a woman’s place and she had a cat (or cats), I might be distracted wanting to play with the wrong kitty. In general I am pro pet and I don’t get envious about them; I know some insecure guys may fret that “she likes a pet more than me”. Pets are family; most lovers come and go. I’m gung ho for and not repulsed by even “unusual” pets like snakes, ferrets, lizards, or spiders in general.
It took me a while to go over this (which is why this entry wasn’t published in April) but this is honestly the first time I ever went over such a list with any sort of thought and also the first time I did so and managed to reach a tenth one. I don’t believe I left any major ones out; unlike with the flaw list I couldn’t endlessly come up with things I neglected. To a degree I am adaptable to the point that I’m willing to engage in a woman’s hobbies even if I’m not initially into them, but that’s fairly standard. Relationships are supposed to be two way streets, right? I also feel I am flexible in terms of what attracts me compared to the average guy, but there’s also no canonical way to prove that.
So now there’s a yin to the yang, a light side to the dark side. The question now is, what does it mean and what to do from here? Do I honestly believe that these strengths accurately match or compensate for the flaws within me? No, I don’t. And clearly I’m not alone in this reasoning since I’m in this dateless state. In theory these are the things which I am supposed to lead with in dating, whether online or in person. I’ve never been especially good at doing so, least of all because it always seems patently dishonest to me. I know in sales you use the positives as selling points and omit the negatives, but life isn’t supposed to be sales. It feels like seeing to promote ignorance about myself, or capitalize on it. I know everyone has their own faults and imperfections both in themselves and in relationships; that’s normal. What isn’t normal is to have no relationship or romantic experience past age 30, which is where I am. At best I am beginning a journey which for most began as teenagers and where most are now reaching its end. I am woefully behind schedule in a world which has little pity for such things. Dating in one’s 30’s is difficult even for those with plenty of experience; with zero it’s almost impossible. It’s dating on “hard mode”, and I can’t even get past “easy mode”, and there are no shortcuts, cheat codes or guidebooks to help me.
It isn’t as if no woman has found me funny; I’m just not funny enough to be romantically appealing. More than one woman has found me understanding; I’m just not understanding enough for that to be sexy. And that’s the ultimate disclaimer with this strength list; none of them individually or combined have ever been enough. Maybe that’s part of why it is easy to have a “negativity bias”; the flaws in our lives seem to be more potent and challenging, worth more “points” on the unofficial character sheet of life. It doesn’t matter how funny or understanding I am if I have poor confidence. It doesn’t matter if I want to be a sensual lover if I have a negative attitude or zero charisma. Until I can either fix or negate my flaws, the strengths are just details. They’re decent wrapping paper for a hollow or unappealing present. They’re tasty icing on a bland or repulsive cake. It’s not a fact which I blame women for or have any resentment or anger towards them for; the faults are mine, as are the strengths.
I think this has been a decent exercise for me. The question is where to take it. My least worst option is OkCupid and I doubt I have the fortitude for the long hard slog it takes to get anywhere with it. I know from the experiences of others that it’s very possible to go on dozens of first dates which never go anywhere. “Warm approaches” would be ideal but my social circle doesn’t go deep enough for it (and even if it did, I’m too embarrassed to all but beg friends to do the work for me). Yet clearly I’ve been unable to truly accept my perpetual loneliness despite my best attempts and intellectual desire to do so. I’d love to just flip a switch within myself and abandon all emotional and spiritual desire for companionship or love forever, but I don’t think one exists short of hypnosis (and maybe not even then). Chemical castration is expensive and dangerous, and likely wouldn’t aid in this regard; the longing isn’t due to lust exactly, but something within which I can’t fill in or wall over despite my best efforts. I don’t know what it would take to do so; perhaps some tragedy which I don’t want to face.
Anyway, those are my Dateless-Man super powers. Thanks for the suggestion, everyone, it’s been an interesting experience. They may not be good looks, confidence, or charisma, but they’re still mine all the same. I’d still prefer nigh invulnerability, though.