Dateless-Man vs. Envy

And no, this was not an introduction to some Full Metal Alchemist fan art someone made. I just typed the title and that was the first thing I could think of.

envy

I’ve said in the past that I have tried not to be jealous of my friends. It was something I definitely was during my teenage years which I have sought to purge from myself. But perhaps I have usually used the wrong word. Jealousy is feeling someone wants to take what you have. Envy is wanting what someone else has that you do not. It would be more accurate to say that as a teenager I was often envious of my friends. Most of them came from “comfortable” middle class households and had more comforts, and less worries and responsibilities, than I had. They also all had more social skills with women and had women show genuine interest in them. None of them turned 21 without having had sex and/or a few relationships under their belts. Pun intended.

I hardly even realized my own feelings of envy often propelled some of my often blunt wisecracks towards some of my pals as a teenager until I was in my 20’s and in college. I realized that was what I had felt, and that it was wrong to be so. It’s wrong to be envious of friends; I should be happy for them. As my friends, their joy and success is in a way, mine. So I took extra effort to purge myself of negative feelings towards them, to be happy for them when they did well as I should be. They’ve all gone on to be more successful and have much happier lives than I have, and I am genuinely glad for them. It can be a work in progress, but it is a work I feel I have gone a great way towards.

But occasionally I have set backs, at least with people who are more acquaintances than friends. One of the oddities of Facebook is that it allows you to befriend, follow, and chat with anyone, even people you hardly remember ever meeting. One of my online “pals” is a guy I’ll call “Skip”, who is at best a friend of a friend. I am sure I met him personally at some bar my friends took me to over the years once or twice at best. He certainly seems to have more fond or definite memories of meeting me. That’s always been one of the odd and frustrating things about my life. Men who I barely recall meeting seem to have fond connections about me and remember me forever. Women hardly know I exist. I easily make impressions on men without trying, but with women I may as well be a ghost. Such is life.

Skip is roughly my age (probably a little younger like most of my pals are), is a postal worker, is into many of the same geeky things, and keeps in shape. He’s coming off of a particularly nasty and sudden break up with either a wife or a fiance, which he has at times handled poorly. He projects a lot of stereotypical (at best) attitudes about women over it and clearly has some resentment issues. He’s been trying to move on and date again, but he misses that deep connection he once had. However, he has one tremendous advantage that he doesn’t seem to appreciate: women find him attractive. Skip sporadically shares stories online of when women give him compliments or flirt with him. This week, however, he “lamented” after a date about how “all these women want to do is hook up on the first date”.

To say that he was complaining about having too much water before a very thirsty man was an understatement.

I understood his plight – he wants a deep connection and some slow burn tension, not aimless hook ups – but I also stressed that being attractive to women was an advantage towards that goal that he could appreciate. But the more I typed, the more some of those hints of resentment and envy bubbled forth. It’s more complicated when you consider the secret that I have to keep close to my vest at all times – that I am a post-30 virgin. A few of my friends know, but he isn’t one, and none of the ones who do share it. I doubt many of them even think about it often, which I am glad about.

At one point I typed this:

I understand wanting a deeper connection with someone, especially after a rough break up. But at the same time, the fact that women are so into you at least physically at least means that your chances of finding it again are good, since you’re considered attractive. It’s a short cut towards finding some of those deeper connections. I mean, think of the alternative. Imagine knowing no woman would ever want to have you, even for a moment, in any sort of romantic way. I call times like that “being awake”. You at least know you can interest women, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you. That’s a tremendous advantage. It may be frustrating when it’s not mutual, but at least take advantage of it to find someone who does bring that passion to your heart again.

As you can see I tried to use myself as an example of the opposite end of the spectrum. Skip continued and revealed the women he just went on a date with (or another recent one) revealed that she’d been involved in a threesome within the first 20 minutes of the date before complimenting his eyes. He enjoys “the chase” and wants more of an “old fashioned” woman such as Julie Andrews (seriously), although he did find it “flattering” that women found him so attractive that they always wanted to “hook up” with him. In addition to this, I did have another friend (who is a genuine pal, who I have known since high school) giving more of what I can call “typical guy advice”, such as, “Take the ass if it has been a while to perk up your mood. Hell maybe it’ll even develop into something afterwards” and “Well, assuming she enjoyed the threesome she awkwardly brought up there is always that avenue if you’re bored and feeling energetic”. This other pal is currently involved with his 5th or 6th lover, at least.

Next to me they may as well be discussing quantum physics from another universe. Their love lives and their reactions to women may as well be from another universe compared to me. I’m not saying that it’s wrong for Skip to dismiss being considered “a hottie” because the feelings aren’t mutual, nor is it wrong for my other pal to encourage him to “take the ass” if he can or is “bored”. I mean if the women Skip’s with are that into him, nobody’s being hurt. There’s nothing wrong with casual sex or short lived romances. As my pal said, many times something deeper starts off there; people “hook up” and then later decide they have fun and get along out of bed too. That’s perfectly legitimate. And as I said, I know Skip has been through a rough bit and could use some happiness.

It was just striking a nerve with me, I guess, to see him complaining about achieving what I have always dreamed of. It took all I had to not reveal my secret and say, “Look, you could be like me; a 30-something year old virgin who no woman who was too young to sign up for AARP has ever desired, so be grateful for what you have”. But that’s a secret I never want to reveal until I have to; least of all because of an earlier incident on Facebook several years ago where some of my friends who did know enjoyed a little “in joke” about it.

In the end I did admit:

I guess. Maybe I’m just too far on the polar opposite of it. [Skip] wants something deeper and passionate and he’s stuck getting a lot of vapid sexual attraction. I’m the walking anti-hormone, where all sexual desire goes to die.

I know that while some single guys like me lament about how “nobody likes us”, it can be especially frustrating to have people you don’t like “in that way” be into you. In fact I’d argue the only advantage to being one of the great untouched is that I have never been involved in breaking a woman’s heart. I can’t imagine putting someone through that. I always assumed if I dated, I would be the one who was dumped. I can handle and survive my own pain; I can’t control how others handle or survive their own. I know what it is like to have attraction towards someone who doesn’t like or acknowledge you in any way; I would hate to put someone else through that. I would feel so much guilt. Of course, dating women because you don’t want to “make them sad” or prolong a relationship you’ve already emotionally checked out of bring their own problems to them. Like many things in life, there’s no perfect solution; just choosing which flawed one works for you.

I’ve heard it said that’s never good to measure yourself by how you compare to others. Our own stories are unique, we’re told, and comparing our raw footage to someone else’s highlight reel will always result in heartache. I would contend that anyone who saw the highlight reel of my life and didn’t consider it underwhelming and pathetic is either delusional or starving in a third world country. But it’s difficult when it seems that every peer around you effortlessly achieves what for you is impossible. I literally cannot imagine a situation where a woman I am into desires me, and all around me I have peers like Skip who make that seem a forgone conclusion. When their love life has so many options for them that they can dismiss many of them.

I, on the other hand, am so desperate that there is literally nothing a woman could say which would repulse me from her so long as I was genuinely interested. I cannot dismiss any opportunity because I hardly get any. I spent the last couple of months seriously questioning whether I should sleep with a 60+ year old woman who is my mother’s friend who I am not into either physically or intellectually simply because I have no other options to ever lose my virginity short of a trip to Las Vegas. Desperation is the anti-sex equation, but what is the alternative for an older virgin? Because if I told someone, “I was just waiting for someone as special as you to come along,” that would be a bold faced lie, and I don’t believe in that. Unfortunately, “you’re the first one who thinks I’m hot for some reason I can’t fathom” may be honest, but it doesn’t inspire passion.

Perhaps my outlook would be different if my friends had been like me, struggling to understand and interact with women. But instead they’re all normal guys and I’m the freak. And it’s a role that I sometimes tire of. I tire of being the Xander of the group, the Orko, the Snarf. The funny sidekick who for one reason or another just is not on the same level as the others, and who is utterly useless in areas where it counts. I may be able to make cute anime references or occasionally spout some wise philosophy or insights into people, but I’ve not forged out a good career or figured out how to attract people I desire.

I wish I was so attractive to women that they gave me compliments or I had so many opportunities that I had to fend off the worst ones to get to the best. Instead I’ll probably be lucky to have one lover in my life, probably when I am far from my physical prime. I do hope that Skip finds what he is looking for and at least intellectually understand his dilemma. I’m not exactly looking for one nights stands either; I just wouldn’t refuse one if it arose with someone I liked. I don’t think I’d ever lament women wanting to sleep with me on the first date, even if they weren’t my type. I’d stop at “flattered”. Especially since I’ve never felt that in my love life, ever. I’ve always felt like an outsider, and when I interact with insiders, it really shows.

The struggle with envy is a never ending challenge. I hope to master it someday, but this week probably wasn’t it.

Dateless-Man vs. Best & Worst Dating Environments

I’ve explored a great deal about my love life, or lack thereof, over the past two plus years. If it was any colder, I could solve global warming single handedly. Theoretically, if I were to go about trying to change this, I would need to cater to my strengths. So I figured it might be interesting to examine my own feelings and past to sort out which areas I would be best or worst at. By “environments”, I mean a setting or location. It’s easier to list the ones where I do the poorest and then move my way up. Although since I am still one of the great untouched, one could say there’s no habitate or location where I do well or am genuinely considered desireable. I’m doing this in a free form, free association style so I don’t think I’ll be numbering any of them.

Dateless-Man’s Worst Dating Environments:

Bars & Clubs: I’m lumping these together because they’re similar. I don’t enjoy drinking to excess, and they usually have music that’s so loud that I have to yell all the time. But the biggest challenge is that not only is it hard to strike up conversations with random women who are strangers, but that it’s even harder to even find any who are alone. Even if you go to a haunt on “singles night”, most women will either be with a date (a man or another woman), or be with a gaggle of friends. It’s hard enough coming up with an ice breaker or opener, and having it be heard over the din of music and other people talking. But now I have to scope out who is single and who isn’t with a crowd. It’s incredibly difficult trying to engage with a group of people when you only want to speak to one. There’s no socially acceptable way to say, “Excuse me, ladies, but I only want to speak with her. May I have permission or is this unacceptable?” So you have to either wait until the group splits or try to engage them all, which is as many times as difficult as there are extra people there. And no group makes it easier. As soon as some dude comes over, the collective will judge him. And as soon as I might almost have the confidence or a good line, 5 other guys have already gone for it.

I’ve gone to bars many times with my friends since high school. I have always felt like an extra wheel, desperately piggy backing onto other people’s conversations. I never enjoy myself. The conversations rarely are about anything I have much experience with. Nobody is there to talk comics or anime, they’re talking jobs or lovers or so on. Adult stuff. There’s not much to say about work and even less to say about my love life. At best I am their shy awkward sidekick, making all of my pals look more charismatic by default. I do even worse at clubs, where the music is louder and everyone is jumping up and down. Even if there was any space to dance, I have utterly no ability. There’s no way to distinguish myself apart from “jumping moron #25” or “jumping moron #26”, especially if they’re in better shape and more at home in the environment. Since clubs have less space or volume for chatter, physical attraction is more important than even bars. And that’s always been one of my biggest hurdles, being unattractive. I don’t think I am ugly, but I’m hardly the sort who women tend to be immediately physically attracted to. At a club, this is the kiss of death.

I only went to a club one time without my friends (and even with them, I only went to about 2-3 clubs with them). I paid the cover and then tried to avoid being trampled. I maybe had one drink and stood around planning the best opener I could think of to a woman I had spotted at a distance who was totally alone. By the time I had, it had been about half an hour or more and another guy had swept in, and they were chatting at length. I was in my mid 20’s and it was quite a waste of time. At least when I am with my friends, I occasionally have someone to talk to and it is less embarrassing then being alone. But I’m not at home even with them in either. Bars and clubs really require you to overpower the scene with personality, looks, and/or charisma and I have none. It all feels so artificial. If you try talking to anyone, they know exactly what you’re after and will reject you before you get in a word. Assuming they even hear you.

Parties: They’re similar to bars and clubs. Most parties one is invited to tend to involve friends or associates. If they’re a regular crew, it can usually mean no one is single there. If it does involve some single women, then EVERY OTHER GUY will have the same objective as me. This immediately puts me in direct competition with other guys, whom I may already know, with direct witnesses. If you fail, you will be remembered for that FOREVER. It will be the story the group tells at every subsequent gathering until you all die. Even if you attended a subsequent party with a harem of Swiss bikinni models, someone will recount the one time you flamed out. If it’s a party where I barely know anyone, it’s similar to a bar or club, only with lower volume. You may have to interupt a group, which is awkward. Anyone you try to chat with knows exactly why you are there.

“Hi, my name is–”

“I am not into you, get away from me,  die in a fire please.”

“Hah, look at ____, she just told him to die in a fire! We’ll tell this story forever.”

Fuck parties. Ones that involve dancing are even worse. Thankfully I’ve never been to one like that. Just awkward social gatherings where everyone was coupled up aside for the one girl who was bulldozed by all the single guys, usually. Like Bars & Clubs, the downside to using icebreakers here is that they’re difficult enough to come up with, and always feel artificial. Everyone knows that a guy isn’t going to start up a conversation with a woman he doesn’t know (or barely knows) unless it is fodder for something romantic. That puts an air of artificiality on it, and a sense of futility for me as well.

And no, cosplay parties aren’t any easier. I went to one last year, actually. If you come to a party alone with no friends and can’t break the ice with women in groups dressed normally, nothing gets easier just because they’re dressed like Avengers or Sailor Scouts.

Speed-Dating: I’ve gone on four of these, including one last year at the New York Comic Con. I’ve typed at length about them, but clearly they are not a good environment for me. I have never gotten one full date out of them. They can be exhausting, and feel like mini job interviews. Even when  you feel there is chemistry, someone can have their fill of you quickly. If there are others nearby, they can hear your schtick ahead of time. Many times, the hosts’ attempts at comedy or keeping the mood light are as embarassing as the MC at a 4th grade prom. They’re a good way to meet dozens of women very quickly, and also a good way to be rejected by dozens of women in a hurry. The last one I went on I was genuinely proud of my performance, but it didn’t get me anywhere. Apparently, after a sample of the Dateless, nobody wanted another helping.

Random Street Cold Approaches: Basically, just chatting up women on the street or when circumstance happens outside. Admittedly, this is supposedly the hardest thing to do, a challenge to all but the most suave or sleazy of pick-up artists. Opportunities such as this don’t come up often, but when they do, I botch them. I’ve also watched in awe as others seem able to wade into these sorts of opportunities around them. It’s difficult enough for me to come up with an icebreaker or “go all the way” and try to get a name and number at a venue where in theory it’s socially acceptable, like bars, clubs, or parties. On the street at random feels even harder.

Dateless-Man’s Best Dating Environments:

Schools/Classes: By virtue of my one date in high school. Two things are to my advantage here. One is proximity; women in the class get a dose of me a number of days every week. They get used to me, maybe even hear me speak. And that leads to the other thing, regularity. I am not the sort of person women are just attracted to. I’m nowhere near as dashing, interesting, or charming as other guys. My strength is waring on people like a set of old socks. Not in an aggressive way, but in an, “Eh, he’s harmless/sort of funny” sort of way. The only dilemma I used to face is that if I made a move and failed, the rest of the semester would be awkward, and likely lead to gossip. I’ve heard it said that “things are only awkward if you make them awkward” or “people take cues from you on how to react”. I think that’s baloney; platitudes that people say without ever thinking about them. Unless cues are read properly and both parties are single, an unwanted classroom solicitation can be awkward or lead to gossip regardless. Still, I preferred the time to plan a move (which I never made), and the repeat opportunities. And at the very least, you have something immediately in common to talk about.

Warm Associate Approaches: Unlike a “cold approach”, a “warm” approach means you actually know the person. This may be a coworker, a classmate, a friend, an associate, or someone in your social circle. I can’t say I ever feel at home or comfortable in any setting involving women, but I feel less uneasiness with someone I am familiar with. It makes it easier to get an idea on their interests and a better notion of whether we click. This isn’t to say that I’ve ever succeeded here, either.

Online Dating: By virtue of my one date from OkCupid. In theory I have more control of my initial presentation. I can type and edit a profile, and try to pick photos where I look less horrible. You have more time to reply to any texts and can theoretically reach out to dozens of women in a very short period of time. Were I to try dating again, it would be exclusively through this medium. I really have no better options. I am not going to waste money on bars and clubs where all I would do is pay money to drink overpriced alcohol, stand around, and leave dejected. I can write well enough and if I zealously attacked this I could probably get at least one or two more dates eventually. Probably maybe almost!

Last Man On Earth: With all competition eliminated and all hope of future procreation available only through me…the rate of artificial insemination and homosexuality among women would rise about 1,000,000,000,000 %. However, by sheer virtue of being the only remaining option available, I would become more desirable and my rate of success would increase. Yes, I am taking this premise seriously.

Alternate Planet and/or Universe: Maybe I’m not. In theory in an alternate universe or planet by some sheer fluke of their solar radiation, atmosphere or gravitation forces I could be bestowed with powers far beyond mortal men there. It could be a realm of empathic psychics who find my awkward yearning and self loathing vulnerability attractive, in the same way that Cyclops is somehow attractive to Jean Grey, Psylocke, and Emma Frost. If a guy with a foreign accent can be considered “sexy” just by virtue of that alone, imagine being a guy from another universe. Maybe it’s a dimension where the stink of failure is an aphrodisiac. Or it could be a planet where all the males are gone. Look, I just don’t do well with competition.

Conclusion: It looks like short of getting lucky with warm approaches, it’s online dating or bust for me. It gives me more time to build rapport or set up something, or rely on my writing skills. It does take a lot of work and planning in terms of dates. And I do face having to overcome my virginity, my litany of faults, and my potential kinkiness. But with all other venues being far more difficult, it’s my least worst option. I wish I had a better one. I suppose a long term approach would be expanding my social circle, going to MeetUps and hoping either someone there is single or knows someone who knows someone who is single, but that’s far more long term than online dating. Besides, MeetUps which are geek orientated already have the problem of the one or two token women likely fending off more offers than they want. My ideal environment would be someplace where I had no memory of my endless failures with women, where I felt truly confident and accepted, and where I could sense genuine potential desire in the women around me. Short of a flight to Vegas, however, I don’t think any such place exists in this universe for me. I remain…the Dateless Man.

The Awkward Escape Clause Got More Awkward

No, don’t worry, I didn’t sleep with anyone yet still.

But there was a totally unexpected development related to my last posting here, “Dateless Man vs. An Awkward Escape Clause”. To recap, I went over how one of my mother’s friends and former co-workers, a woman in her 60’s named Dee, has harbored a crush on me for ages. I discussed how I feel no chemistry nor any sort of attraction to her physically or mentally (as in, personality). Considering my woeful romantic history and lingering virginity, I theorized that should I ever want to just “get it over with” without shelling out for a trip to either a sexual surrogate clinic or Las Vegas, Dee may have been it. However, a lot of this had been theoretical, me going from events which had happened years prior and picking a topic to write about.

A part of me wondered if I had misunderstood things. Or if I hadn’t, that it had been about 6 or so years since I’d seen Dee and things could have changed. Not that I had changed my own “squick” opinion about the entire affair. But I wondered if more of it had been in my head than reality. It’s typical of men to overestimate women’s sexual desire in them, even unwanted desire. I’ve usually never been like that at all. Usually quite the reverse; I usually assume I’m the lowest ranking man ever on the scale of “fuckability”. Or at least somewhere below Alf but above Hitler’s Literal Corpse.

Well, as “fortune” would have it, Dee ended up calling the apartment that I share with my mother (for economic and health related issues; she’s handicapped). I managed to reach the phone first. And while my conversation with Dee was brief, she left no doubt about her desiring me. In fact if she’d been any blunter about flirting with me, she’d have started quoting lines from porn.

One of the first things she said was, “I forgot how old you sound now,” in an impressed sort of tone. It made me remember that since she was Mom’s co-worker in the 90’s, she first met me as a kid. It further creeped me out a little that she had a crush on me now (and yes, I would feel the same if it was a man lusting after a woman he’d known as a kid, like Dorian Grey). She asked if I was seeing anyone, and mentioned a present she gave me when we’d had dinner (with mom) around the time of one of my birthdays. She’d gotten me a cheap ring (likely a hand me down) that I never wore. Dee said, “Well, you have my ring so I’m yours first,” before later adding, “Make sure to invite me to your wedding so I can cry in the first aisle” or words to that effect.

To say I was shocked was an understatement. My own replies were blunt as I waited for Mom to get on the line. Two or three words max, usually in disbelief. It was very awkward for me, and I could feel my anxiety rise by the moment. Now, as I mentioned in the last post, Dee has always been what some would say is a “liberated” woman. She is merrily promiscuous and prefers younger (white) men. I don’t look down on that out of purity or anything. If I met a woman who I liked who was similar (and I have), that wouldn’t effect my respect for her in the slightest. It just felt very awkward for a woman who I wasn’t into who was as old as my mother being so blunt about crushing on me. Dee has a weird sense of humor and is hardly shy about romantic subjects, so it wasn’t anything deliberate. It was just her nature. That didn’t minimize that brief conversation making me feel odd.

Afterwards, I told mom about it. She wasn’t surprised, but then again I imagine they’ve talked a lot about men over their two decade or so friendship. She knows about Dee’s crush on me and my own lack of interest.

So, let’s sum it up. For the first time in my life, I had a woman talk dirty to me over the phone (or at least come close). I was not only in my 30’s, but it’s a woman almost twice my age who I’m not into in any way, but is a family friend so I am obligated to see more than a stranger. Whenever I have dealt with anyone younger and/or someone I actually am interested in, I always have to read tea leaves or be put in a situation where revealing any desire will come with some measure of pain for somebody. But when it comes to old ladies in nursing homes or friends of relatives, by god they think I am sex on a cracker. And people wonder why I am so romantically frustrated and find this avenue so hopeless. It would be a hilarious comedy if I wasn’t the one living it.

When 2016 started, I thought it might be a pivotal year in terms of my romantic strategies or lack thereof. Maybe I was, once again, looking for a sign of whether any redoubled efforts would be rewarded. Ever since January, I’ve had a lady friend come to me for advice online and to buck up her own esteem from love lost, who later went on blossom after my help to her. I am genuinely happy for her, just disliked being put in a situation where it was either risk upsetting an emotionally fragile woman who just wanted someone to vent to sometimes, or be alone forever again. And then I fell and hurt my knee at the start of the summer, and needed months to recover. Now this. I have the choice for obvious and easy sex with an old woman I don’t desire in any way but clearly has the hots for me, or wait another few months and be an even older male virgin. Aren’t choices fun? Especially whenever it’s always choosing one in which you lose the least?

I got my sign. The universe has spoken. My love life is a miserable, frustrating, underwhelming joke with no good options or prospects. If I were to proceed anyway with any attempt, it would have to fly in the face of every blunt sign that reality is telling me. There is not one reason why I should feel confident in having any better success than when I was younger and could rely more on youth and proximity. This incident was just another straw in my Underwhelming Haystack of Love. The Magic 8-Ball has once again told me, “ALL SIGNS POINT TO NO”.

I’m not saying I’m giving up, even though I probably functionally have for a long time. I’m more experienced now, and I think I talk to strangers better due to the job I’ve had for years. I know at least intellectually that I’m not the absolute worst out there. I have had many people buck me up online on this blog, which is appreciated. But I realize now that in doing so, I would have to be prepared to act against all logic. In this, trying to actually make a love life happen, I would have to hammer a square peg into a round hole. I would have to reject every single sign the universe has sent me and go, “I think I can anyway”. I either have to have the determination of a super-soldier or the stubborn delusion of a hopeless romantic masochist. I don’t know if I have either in me.

I have no intention of taking up Dee on her “offer”. I’m just not into her in any way. I am not so desperate to lose my virginity that I am willing to try to sleep with an old woman who has a fetish for me who I am not interested in either physically or intellectually. That’s either a sign of integrity or a sign I simply don’t want to lose my virginity as badly as some others. Either way it means the same thing. Bars don’t hold “wet integrity contests”, after all. But as we near the later end of the year, with another birthday on the horizon for me, I have to look at my options and status honestly. I am woefully behind schedule in terms of romantic experience. I will have to work 50 times as hard to get half as much as the average person got when they were 15. I do not have youth or proximity on my side. I have no distinct advantage when compared to almost any other man. Apparently only old ladies think I am worth touching. A shame I have no desire to be a nursing home gigolo.

These are really the only options I’ll ever have. Whatever is in me is really all I will ever have to work with. I’ll have to be prepared to work against the grain of every instinct I have, every sign the world around me has shown me, and without any positive reinforcement. And all that just to, what, get a second date? In a more competitive market, with so many disadvantages? There’s an element of luck and chance in these affairs, and I’ve never had it. I’ve followed the “just pursue your passions and someone will come along” advice for much of my life, and clearly that has never happened.

There is more to life than relationships. There are more things I can do besides find a lover. There are more things to enjoy than sexual relations. It may have been a brief and very awkward telephone conversation, but it certainly has sparked a lot of thought. Thanks for reading, everyone!

 

Dateless-Man vs. An Awkward Escape Clause

“Beggars can’t be choosers.” – Proverb

Being a man who is severely inexperienced with romance past a certain age brings with it a lot of interesting dynamics. By interesting, of course, I mean either awkward or terrifying. You have things to keep secret, yet which can’t remain secret should you proceed to resolve them. You have less perspective on this very common fact of life, and find yourself having to dance around conversations or expectations to avoid giving it away. And you also have to combat certain attitudes about sex, love, and dating not only from peers, but society and your own head.

There tend to be two major schools of thought regarding older male virginity. One is to gradually become more fulfilled with your own interests and at least try to make any lovers you have meaningful. After all, a very common complaint about more “experienced” people is some regret that their first time wasn’t with someone they would have liked, or they had a few regrettable sexual encounters for dumb reasons. Men especially are encouraged to treat sex like experience points in an RPG, or think of it like that. A lot of anxiety I and others in my lot feel is the sense that we are not “real men” unless we can assert it through either sex or violence. This is baloney based on sexism, but it persists. Even in circles involving less experienced men talking about their fates or thinking about it themselves.

One attitude which can persist in some places is the sense that an older male virgin simply has unrealistic standards. That all he (universal he) wants is a perfect living doll regardless of his own physical state and anyone less is ignored. That if only he was more willing to “take what he could get”, he’d “get laid” and so on. And there is some truth in this for some; some people do have unrealistic standards. I never thought I did; the sheer volume of women I have found attractive as I went about my daily routine for over 30 years has been too varied to suggest that. But to me it represents a paradox. Desperation is seen as an unattractive trait; yet any older male virgin who isn’t so desperate as to leap upon any and every sexual opportunity, no matter how vile or awkward, “just doesn’t want it bad enough”. Even peers who share this state can occasionally be just as judgmental in this regard than any studly jock.

Which brings me to the subject of this article. Anyone who’s been reading along with the blog for a while may realize I sometimes use lengthy introductions to avoid having to discuss subjects I find awkward. And I may as well type it out before I clarify. The gist of is that my mother has a slightly older friend of hers who has usually made no bones about finding me attractive, and I could probably lose my virginity to her without much effort on my part – if only I was willing to sleep with a woman I don’t feel anything for who is friends with my mother.

An “awkward escape clause” indeed!

I briefly mentioned my mom’s friend before, in “The Last Actual Date”. She was the one who set me up on it (with a much younger co-worker of hers). A lot of backstory is needed. For a long stretch of time, my mother (before she was disabled) worked at an artist’s school and met a lot of wild and wonderful characters there. One of them is a woman I’ll dub “Dee”. They’ve been friends maybe twenty years or more. And like a lot of older women who have been friends over a decade, they have had periods of time where they didn’t talk and hated each other, only to reconcile eventually. Dee is roughly around my mother’s age (call it early 60’s), works as an artist’s model at the school, and is both a little eccentric and very “liberated” in her romantic life. She is also a major fan of Superman. As far as I know she’s never been married nor doesn’t seem to want to marry. Much like my mother did in her youth, her own sexual conquests almost seem to be a hobby. “I like sleeping with young white men,” is something Dee’s said in my presence during dinner. Her current on again/off again boyfriend is a priest who is cheating on his vows with her. She’s also hardly monogamous and, like mom, can sometimes be a bit “risque” when talking about sex. I’ve met her at various times throughout my youth and once I was in college it seemed to get out somehow that she found me attractive.

The last time I saw her was maybe 7 years ago when she, my mother, and I had dinner. It was around either my birthday or Christmas and she gave me a cheap hand-me-down ring as a gift. It was maybe a couple of years after she’d set me up on that blind date with her colleague (which Dee apologized for, which she didn’t have to do). I didn’t talk too much but Dee and mom talked plenty. At the end of the dinner mom seemed to reaffirm the rumor that she “liked me”. I hadn’t noticed; Dee seemed to talk about her usual topics. Her torrid dating life, some of her thoughts on society, happenings about her job, and Superman. At one point I joked about her “having a shrine” to Superman at home and she deadpanned, “How did you know?”

The biggest problem with such a situation with Dee is that I have no genuine feelings for her. We don’t seem to click or have any chemistry in terms of personality. Without describing her looks the best way to put it is that she doesn’t click for me physically. She isn’t ugly but I just feel nothing there. It seems beyond obvious that Dee wouldn’t mind a “booty call” from me, or at least once did. However, I obviously have never taken her up on that or explored it. Least of all because I find it awkward that someone who is my mom’s friend and around her age is into me for a “booty call”.

One of the oddities of being among the romantically inexperienced elder male communities (whether I want to be or not) is that sometimes they (or we) have a knack for being victims of “traditional male culture” while also strictly enforcing it. And I say this with personal experience in how I view myself. After all, a great deal of why I have a poor self image is because I am unable to fit my own criteria for masculinity which is within my own head. The anxiety older male virgins feel is not just coming from society and culture norms, but from their own feelings and enforcement of it. And one of these dynamics is the sense that “a real man” takes any sex he can get (so long as it is among consenting adults, although too many men see that as debatable). If he doesn’t, so goes the theory, then he “doesn’t want it enough” and “deserves” to be a virgin and unloved. Traditional “male theory” is that it shouldn’t matter that I feel no desire emotionally, intellectually, or physically for Dee, nor should any feelings regarding her age or role in my mother’s life exist. I should just capitalize on the opportunity, especially as someone who laments at length about being a virgin. Especially as someone who at least entertained the notion of prostitutes in Vegas or sexual surrogates inside my own mind as a temptation. I could easily imagine at least one of my friends (probably a guy one) encouraging me to put all this aside and try to move forward with this “opportunity”.

One of the many frustrating ironies about my life is that while I haven’t ever been considered attractive to women around my own age who I was into, much older women have always found me attractive. During the last few years of my grandmother’s life I spent a lot of time in various nursing homes and I can’t count how many old ladies blatantly flirted with me. Nothing like poor vision, heavy medication, borderline incarceration and at least a half century (or more) of an age gap to make me a stud, huh? Every man wants to be a “lady-killer”, but with that crowd it could get too literal. Maybe there was a time where men like me were considered attractive, but that time is long past and isn’t coming back. I try not to get nostalgic for an era I never lived through. So add this factor into the situation with Dee and one can see how it can seem complicated when I think about it.

Plus, how would I even go about it? Just call her up and ask her out? Have a ridiculously awkward “date” before the…other stuff? And attempt to go through the physical motions with someone I all but literally have no feelings for? Would grinding through the physical act of sex with a willing person even if it went against what I am comfortable with be better off for me in the long run? Besides, I’ve never talked with Dee bluntly about this sort of thing to begin with. In theory, one of the few “advantageous” (or “less horrible”) parts of being an older male virgin is supposedly getting to have some more choice about one’s “first time”. In real terms, too many people out there were raped or molested or pressured into sex when they weren’t ready, and it is a source of trauma. In other terms, many people tend to regret their first time, usually with someone in their youth who they slept with due to the same reasons why I even fret over this thing with Dee – social pressure and hormones. I’m older and not enslaved to my hormones, and old enough to know better. This doesn’t even get into some ramifications of those around me. While I am sure Dee won’t “attach” to me or see it as anything deep, how would my mother react? She’s an ex-free love hippie herself (a fact which makes my virginity very ironic) who has said she would understand if I did so, but she’s also said that knowing my position of having no intention of doing so. Lord knows it could drive a wedge between mom and one of her longtime friends. I am not a prude and have no issue with a “booty call” or a promiscuous woman (so long as all parties in her life know and accept it), but something seems off about a situation where I have no emotional or physical desire, and all it would be is a physical transaction I feel I am doing for “my own good”. Literally all I would get out of it is finally being able to not be a virgin anymore. A sexual surrogate is part of genuine sexual therapy, and in theory a Vegas prostitute would be someone I could choose specifically because there would at least be physical desire there. And those are options I have rejected outright.

Is it wrong to want to have a first sexual encounter where I at least have some genuine feelings for someone else on an intellectual and/or physical basis? Even for just a short period of time? I don’t mind being the object of someone else’s fantasy or booty call, it just feels off to just go into it for the act itself, and for there to be no kind of passion or genuine energy in it. But perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps I should jump at this chance to finally shed my shame in a perfectly legal and consenting way. Most people’s first time is hardly perfect and mine likely won’t be either (especially since I am sure I will be physically underwhelming for the woman and she will either be disappointed or disgusted). But something about it feels off, feels wrong.

Deep in my heart maybe I know that the sheer act of sex won’t “fix” or alone improve upon many of my faults and problems. And if it won’t, maybe it isn’t worth it to lose it in a deeply uncomfortable situation just because it maybe presents itself. Unfortunately, the alternative is more lonely nights, more feelings of woeful inadequacy, and more lost months and years in a pit of despair over this. You can’t put a value on integrity, but it won’t keep you warm at night either. I am tired of being a freak, a comedian’s punchline, a facade of a man. Yet I am apparently not so tired of it that I am willing to take advantage of an old woman’s fetish with a wince just to check a box off a list. It is who I am. And that is…the Dateless-Man.

When Imagination Is The Enemy

“All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.” – Barbara Grizutti Harrson

While this may not be true for natural acts or acts of cosmic space science or nature, it’s true for anything made by people. Anything from a building to a machine to a painting to even this post began inside someone’s mind. That is why many self help or confidence gurus always stress things like focusing or visualizing. “Be the ball” was a punchline from one such type in the classic comedy “Caddyshack”. To a degree this is a lot of power for the imagination. It could be said that almost anything that people make is their attempt to make their own thoughts into reality, to transfer it from an intangible medium to a tangible one.

And that may be another one of my problems within the world of dating (as if my previous 45 thousand problems were a warm up). I simply cannot imagine what success with a woman is like. I mean I can on a basic level if I am writing some fiction for a story or a role playing message board or something. I can empathize with someone relating an experience or get some “feels” (as the kids today say) about some stuff in media regarding romance. But if I am trying to visualize or imagine what positive progress in romance would be like, it pops faster than a balloon at a porcupine wrestling match. It’s bad enough when women in real life aren’t into you; it’s even worse when the women in your own head don’t like you or raise suspicion.

This is important because any kind of strategy or planning session for any sort of forward progress usually has to begin between my ears. Like with anything else, it has to begin inside my mind. As a concept, I have to imagine it. I have to be able to imagine myself at least being moderately successful with a woman, or at least to receive positive signals, if only to prepare myself to react. One of the many problems of inexperienced men is missing cues, after all.

Yet my own internal instincts bring my own experiences and cynicism into my own imagination sessions. It’s like poking criticism at a training dummy, but it happens, and it is weird. It is like having my own Great Gazoo in my head, only he’s pointing out from experience that things aren’t as they appear, even if I am the one inventing them. The ironic part of is is that it could be a manifestation of the fear of rejection, yet rejection is the only reaction I know of, and usually what I expect.

For example, if a woman told me, “I think you’re hot,” even an imaginary one, my internal Id would want to debate her. “How many men have you seen?” or “Perhaps our date should begin at Pearl Vision” are my immediate internal replies. Now of course I would never say things like this, but it would be the urges I would repress. In fact I could imagine a comedic skit where even if a date is going well, I assume it’s based on ignorance and then I go about trying to introduce her to better men around me. It doesn’t translate well here, but when I speak in real life, my imagination usually works quickly for humor purposes. No matter the situation or what I am experiencing, I can find a way to make a quick joke or make comedic banter if appropriate. It isn’t difficult for me, and it never has been. It’s sort of like having an invisible ventriloquist’s dummy at all times. But up against women in a romantic context, even an imaginary one,  and it’s fueling doubts.

I don’t believe this is mere anxiety. I’ve had three dates in my life, and for two of them they were hindered to no small degree by my own doubts. I was in absolute disbelief that I was even on them and liked enough by a woman to be on one, even during them. I could not imagine a world where a woman found me desirable romantically. While those examples date to my teens and 20’s, to a degree I still can’t. And I know for many women, this is part of why they dislike dating “Nice Guys”, or inexperienced guys, and/or virgins. Having to endlessly battle his own self doubts becomes a drain and an unfair burden. I wonder if an incident just earlier this year was a manifestation of this. I simply cannot imagine a woman being into me at all. Not even if it is my own imagination and I am the one inventing her. It’s like being a mad scientist who builds the perfect robot mate, and then being suspicious of it.

The very concept of a woman liking me “that way” does not exist in my imagination. My initial reaction is that it is due to ignorance, and as soon as she learns more about me it’ll end badly. My own morality feels it is wrong to take advantage of that ignorance. And that is a problem only I can solve in myself, and I have no idea how. Positive experience would ware that down in theory, but having it makes it hard to actually get it. It is yet another thing about myself I have to keep a lid on around potential dares and hide about myself. Like being a virgin, or so on. And after a while I am hiding so much about myself that I can’t relax at all. And until I can just allow myself to be, I will merely repeat the past. It doesn’t help that I am starting at a severe disadvantage, being years behind the curve for these sorts of fears and romantic growing pains.

It even translates to dreams. I don’t remember all of my dreams (who could), and I don’t dream about women all the time (who does). But when I do, and I do, my own imagination turns against me once I become aware of it. I can’t count how many genuinely fun, positive dreams I have had which came to an abrupt end because I became aware that I was seemingly kissing a woman or having some positive romantic interaction with her and my internal thought was, “This never happened. This is impossible. This is clearly a dream.” On the positive side, I don’t have one set “dream woman”; when I fantasize about women, her details always vary. I don’t have one rigid set type, not even when I am dreaming.

I recall one vivid dream many years ago which was oddly inspired by “Men In Black”. I was enrolled at the agency and was trying to puff myself up to impress a fellow agent who was a woman. Then someone from human resources began to drag out all of my old coats from childhood, which were always more colorful than I would want to wear now because my mother had picked them out for me (or I was younger and taste changes). I found this embarrassing and kept denying I ever owned them, even as each one was more familiar than the last. I remember in the dream saying stuff like, “I never wore that. I never wore that. Oh, wow, you even have that one? Which I…also…never wore.” Obviously, the lengths I go through to deny my own secrets even in my own dreams is pretty drastic.

So, even in my imagination, if a woman liked me, my initial thought is “why?” and a sense of disbelief. On the one hand, this keeps me from being “catished”. Anyone online who thinks I’d fall for someone pretending to like me would find me a very savvy and frustrating opponent. Unfortunately, so would an actual date. In theory, my expectation of every date going poorly should be an advantage; any reaction above a zero is progress, after all. But until I can visualize it from within and truly imagine it as possibility, it will be even more of an uphill struggle than it already is. I am already coming at it from every possible disadvantage, after all. I’ve dealt with bullies, jocks, a lifetime of bad luck and a society of social macho standards working against me. But perhaps the biggest challenge I have to overcome is myself.

But myself is all I have. That’s the rub. If I can’t imagine it, it can’t ever exist. And I don’t know if I have it in me to live the rest of my life where this doesn’t exist for me. A part of me wants to, and I can imagine myself being alone. Unfortunately, that’s less a dream and more of a nightmare as time goes on.

Dateless-Man vs. “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”

If there’s one movie within recent memory which seems to be heralded as encapsulating the plight of older male virgins, it’s this Judd Apatow movie from 2005. Not only was it Apatow’s directorial debut, it was also the first film that Steve Carrell starred in after joining “The Office” and co-starring in the first “Anchorman”. Ever since its debut, it’s the term used to describe older guys who are virgins. Younger men bring it up as something to avoid. Within the community of older male virgins online, it seems to represent the closest the mainstream comes to capturing or dramatizing their fate. At least that’s the impression of it that I always got.

Up until this weekend, I’d never seen the film. I was still in college when it debuted, and likely in denial about my own status. I was still in my early 20’s, I thought I’d crack that nut (pun intended) sooner or later. I may have just not been interested, period. But, fate and a late night run at my local Rite Aid brought me into contact with an extended edition of the DVD for about $7. Now I was older and fully aware of my own identity as an older male virgin, and finally curious enough about this movie to see it and judge it for myself. Going into the film, I was wondering if it would upset me unexpectedly as some movies occasionally can (such as the first “Back to the Future“). Having finally watched it, I will say that while I enjoyed it overall, it was quite an experience and I certainly had some issues with it.

In a way this post may be a bridge between this blog and the sorts of things I write elsewhere online. I have written many a movie review for some message board postings, and I do comic book related reviews for a website online (I found a new site after the closing of my old one a few weeks back). This will be the first review type post I do here, and it isn’t something I plan to make a habit in the future. However, I thought my thoughts on this would be an appropriate topic for the blog, as well as add something a little different from my usual flashbacks or whining.

In recapping the plot, I find it amazing how many comedic actors had cameos in this movie who would go on to star in their own flicks and/or TV shows later on. Carrell stars as “Andy”, a 40 year old stock manager who works at “SmartTech”, which is a knock off of chain electronics stores like Best Buy or RadioShack. He’s a socially awkward man who collects action figures and avidly plays video games, and is wound tight and barely sleeps. When word gets out that he’s a virgin, his collection of rowdy co-workers share their own views of sex and women with him in the aims of “getting him laid”. Andy goes on a series of misadventures until he runs a fellow middle aged person in Trish (Catherine Keener) who runs an eBay retail store who forms a genuine connection to him. Trish initially forbids sex until the 20th date for her own sake, and Andy spends the time getting closer to her and two of her kids (including a 16 year old played by Kat Dennings). There is a happy Hollywood ending, but it certainly comes after no end of raunchy skits and “edgy” humor.

Two of Andy’s co-workers are played by Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, and while their characters have names, it’s more fun to just refer to them by the names of the masked vigilantes they’d play later on: Green Hornet and Ant-Man (respectively). Romany Malco’s “Jay” is arguably the most “cool” one of the lot, even if he does play into quite a few stereotypes about black guys. Jane Lynch also plays Andy’s oversexed and weird supervisor. Other notable comedians who had cameos here are Mindy Kaling as Ant-Man’s ex Amy, Kevin Hart as a ghetto stereotype customer, Jonah Hill as an eBay customer, and Elizabeth Banks and Leslie Mann playing two crazy women that Andy has misadventures with before things get settled with Trish.

Besides the cameos, it was weird seeing this because in many ways, it really is a movie which could only be made in 2005. “Survivor” is name dropped plenty of times as a new thing, and eBay is still this new and mysterious thing that some people need outlet stores for. But the biggest sign was a notable bit where Andy explains to Trish that VHS is “a dying format” and DVD was the future as he tries to sell her a DVD/VHS combo machine at SmartTech. The fact that Ant-Man still had VHS tapes (albeit of his porn collection) helps cement this as a movie which could only take place 11 years ago. It feels weird that it’s been that long ago, as if suddenly the presence of video tapes means this is a period piece now. For the record, while most of the American anime distribution companies abandoned VHS as a format in 2003, most major studios waited until roughly 2007-2008 to abandon the home video format completely after a reign of over 25 years.

There are some skits and segments which I did find a little outdated or disturbing. There are a lot of borderline racist segments involving two Middle Eastern characters played by Gerry Bednob and Shelley Malil which get old fast. There is fairly liberal use of the “N” word for a mainstream movie of the 21st century. Leslie Mann’s major scene involves a skit where surviving a ride with a dangerously drunken driver who gets into several accidents is seen as something which is supposed to be funny and not scary. Overall I was reminded of a DVD commentary that Mel Brooks did once where he said that too many recent comedies were just individual skits bridged together at a minimum by a plot, and don’t always work from within it, and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” certainly does qualify as that. It’s not as bad in that regard as some recent comedies (such as the “Scary Movie” line of films) but there was plenty which could have been cut and not effected the plot in any way. An extended bit includes Green Hornet and Ant-Man rattling off “How I know you’re gay” disses, which nowadays would seem very homophobic (much as the plot of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” plays as pretty transphobic now). Naturally the main draw was Carrell’s portrayal of Andy and trying to make guys like him seem human while still having some fun with them (since it is a comedy).

I didn’t relate to every aspect of the movie (nor did I intend to), but some segments hit close to home or did draw on my fears. In the first act, Andy accidentally reveals his virginity when he’s pressured into going to a poker game with his coworkers by Green Hornet, Ant-Man and Jay and he’s trying to fit in with their stories revolving women and sexual conquests. I have long known the pressure of such things, which may be part of why I became more solitary. Most of my major friends know my secret and there’s an unspoken agreement to never bring it up or urge me for any details about my own love life. And even this is only about 6-7 people if I only count those who live in the same city as me. But I certainly have coworkers and they certainly do talk about similar things on occasion (especially since most are younger than me). As embarrassing as it is for such a secret to be blown (because Andy could not accurately describe what breasts felt like, because he never touched one), I must say a scene where Andy flees the store mid-shift because the guys had told EVERYONE there was pretty much something I’ve feared. It’s hardly my worst fear or the worst thing that I could imagine realistically happening to me, but it’s in the top 10. That’s one of many reasons why I am vague about a lot in this blog. Andy’s explanation of of his virginity as, “It just never happened,” was also pretty good I felt, even if his circumstances were different. Unlike me or a lot of older virgins, technically Andy did have some opportunities (and had at least kissed someone once); just for comedic effect all of the girls he encountered in his youth were scary (i.e. a girl with large braces talking about blowing him). One bit where Andy’s pals trick him into going to a speed dating event I could relate to, since I’d gone to approximately four of them over the last six years. Even the reasons were similar – the belief that one could cram years worth of missed opportunity into a couple of hours.

While there is a lot of fun made of Andy’s plight (i.e. his inability to put on a condom, his refusal to even masturbate), the film is also fairly brutal of mocking his jerky co-workers who are supposedly experts in the field of women and showcasing that their “experience” hasn’t exactly made them any happier or wiser despite how they may act. Jay has a steady girlfriend who he mercilessly cheats on, until she catches him in the act and he discovers she’s pregnant; Jay then breaks down into a sobbing mess about being insecure despite his bravado. On the surface Ant-Man seems like he’s the closest to understanding Andy since he talks a lot about feelings, love, and connections, until more is revealed about him. He’s been broken up about a girl he dated for four months for two years, to the point of obsessive stalking or bad mouthing her once he talks about her for longer than few seconds. Ant-Man also has a giant box of porn which he “donates” to Andy. I found chunks of Ant-Man’s focus disturbing if only because he was closer to the mark of how many guys seem to be; obsessive, focused on porn, and with endless axes to grind over their ex’s, even if they only dated them for four months. Green Hornet arguably comes off as the wisest, even if he’s essentially a pot-headed wanna be writer, and his advice is less about swagger (like Jay) or feelings (like Ant-Man) and more about “talking to women” without really talking to them. Andy trying Green Hornet’s “answer every question with a question” advice works exactly once. Arguably the best thing Andy’s pals do is set up the opportunity to talk to Trish. Because he already bikes and exercises, Andy didn’t have to go through the “everything will work out so long as you LIFT, BRAH” wing of advice that many older virgins get.

To a degree the hardest thing to relate to about Andy for me was that he actually did get plenty of opportunities; he just either botched them or they were with comedic-effect freaky women. That’s always been one of my pet peeves with Hollywood; in TV and films, women will just TALK to the lead shy hero, and in real life that doesn’t happen regardless of the setting. The few times it did for me, it was the “She Likes You Game” and I was being teased.

It is worth a mention that in the flick itself, most of the negative opinions of Andy’s virginity come from either himself or other men. Most of the women who find him dorky or weird don’t detect that it’s from his virginity. At one point Andy reveals his virginity to a health clinic that he takes Trish’s daughter to and that revelation has no effect on her opinion of him (she finds it weirder that he knows magic). Jane Lynch’s character offers to become Andy’s “friend with benefits” after it’s revealed. And Trish ultimately accepts it because it beats the alternative theory of why she thought Andy was weird (thinking he was a pervert or serial killer). I’ve heard a lot of similar sentiment from people online and off, that it supposedly isn’t as big a deal as I make it. I contend that anyone who said that never had to deal with it. Even the movie claims it’s no big deal because it’s less bad than the alternative (thinking someone is a serial killer). I did at least appreciate that the movie chose to make Andy’s “ideal mate” someone who was actually a little older than him.

So, my conclusion? The movie did go through a lot of experiences that I did or feared doing. Some of the “advice” that it offers the hero is spot on (especially the “you need to practice on drunken women you don’t care about before risking sex with someone you do like” line). Yet I am aware that it is Hollywood and a comedy to boot, so I don’t take it like the gospel truth or a documentary. Besides, Andy isn’t even the oldest virgin in comedic pop culture; Principal Seymour Skinner from “The Simpsons” was still a virgin at 44. Although much like Andy, that didn’t last long when he met someone oversexed who liked him.

I can relate to the giant lead weight that my virginity feels like. I would like to just get it over with, move on, and be closer to a normal man and not a circus freak. There is genuinely no way to positively reveal it to someone without seeming like a vulnerable loser, and I could relate to Andy’s angst about that. I didn’t care for the fairly blunt metaphor with the toys and video games, i.e. that his hobbies were just a sign of immaturity that Andy should sell and be rid of when he “grows up” and “becomes a man”. But, it’s just a movie from 2000-frigging-5, so what’re you going to do. It was good to finally see what all the fuss was about. It would be nice to finally lose my virginity, but I have other things to worry about. Sadly, every year that goes on I become closer to living up to this title, and unlike in the world of Hollywood and mass media consumption, nobody finds such a story endearing or charming. They just see a guy who can’t get any.

 

Temporary Woes or Curse from Fate?

I try not to be a paranoid or superstitious person. I am an atheist (although not the kind who spends his life trying to “disprove God exists” or so forth) who went to a Catholic elementary school and whose mother is an ex-Christian turned Buddhist (seriously). Yet I occasionally have moments of spirituality or superstition; usually in the sense that I am uniquely cursed. I’m sure as someone who has mentioned being cynical and pessimistic at least once, that’s a surprise. Yet sometimes I wonder if it is more than just my own defense mechanism or psychological neurosis.

It seems that whenever I seem to be attempting to make inroads in terms of my dating life (or lack thereof), something seems to happen in my life which takes far more priority. As a teenager, I imagine my style was cribbed from the fact that my grandma’s declining health and faculties she essentially lived in our apartment roughly 90% of the time (as well as mother becoming disabled and unable to work by the end of the 1990’s). In college, entire years worth of time were taken up helping mom in her efforts to supervise the armada of home care attendants for Grams in her own apartment and seeing to her care. By the time I graduated college and got my first decent full time job, I was literally spending one to two weekend days a week helping with Grams’ care with mom miles away. Then six years ago Grams died and then came the rush to settle her affairs and apartment and have mother move back home (since by that point she had essentially been living with Grams for over two years). Then came unemployment and the frantic search for work while resources dwindled. Then came a steady but low paying job for years with fluctuating salary.

But this summer, if not since the start of the year, I felt a sense of change in the air. I wasn’t making much but I had gotten used to it. With me fighting a losing battle against time in terms of being an inexperienced virgin (by the time one’s more than a year past 30, they’ve entered what I call “Monk, Circus Freak, or Serial Killer Territory” in terms of social opinion), I’ve felt a special urge to “crap or get off the pot” in terms of dating for months. Yet there was always a hesitancy due to nerves, budget, and a fear that once again some family or financial crisis would arise and make such worries as fretting about being lonely and untouched feel like passing quibbles.

Well, true to form, it happened again. At the end of June the company I work for did a major overhaul of their business model in which my position became obsolete. While not fired, it meant I would have to adjust to a new role with a salary which is lower in the short term and more unpredictable in the longer term. For the last fortnight things have worked out okay, but only because I had a week’s notice to start saving for some bills. I have no idea what August or the fall will look like, and whether I can keep things up in terms of production. Even when I am doing well, there is more stress and pressure to perform than there had been for the last couple of years. This has caused my efforts to find a new and better job to increase substantially (to the point that I am taking two tests for federal/state jobs this month) and for me to have less justification for spending money which I may not be able to count on for anything beyond budgeted items. My biggest “luxury” are comic books and that averages $20 a week (or occasional DVD splurges). Even cheap dates in the city cost enough to take a chunk out of my piddly budget, which is obviously the problem with being broke and why that’s understandably seen as a flaw for men in dating. Unless you’re awesomely handsome or talented in the arts (music or painting especially), a guy who’s broke is seen as a loser. On the plus side, my schedule has become more “normal”.

In addition, the website which I’ve been writing comic book related articles for since 2009 in a freelance capacity shut down. While the money I got for it was always minor, it was a blow to my ego as I liked being considered a professional writer in some capacity as well as being a professional in the business involved with my hobby even in a small fringe capacity did something for me which I can’t describe. It certainly made me more interesting seeming. Losing it was an added blow to my ego at a time where I was worrying more about finances and job stability for the first time in years. I am trying to land a spot on another website in addition to exploring my day job options, and am even considering starting my own blog just to get back in the article writing habit again. But it is something else to deal with right now which has made hopping on OkCupid and trolling for dates a waste of precious time.

So now any plans for dating go on the back burner. Again. And soon the summer will be fall and then winter and that limits options for dates anyway in terms of daylight and cost (as most cheap dates are outdoor dates). Again. And before you know it, it will be 2017 and I will be older. And so the cycle repeats, ad infinitum. Yet what alternative do I have? Try to go on dates and admit right off how broke I am? Blow through finite resources (including a savings account which is in low triple digits) to go on some dates? Burn through time I should be spending looking for better gigs or emotional fortitude I will need for that job hunt in messaging a gazillion women hoping for the one who will talk to me, and then the one out of those who agrees to a date, only to have it end with in all probability in a “meh”?

This is one major reason why losing out on romantic experience when one is in high school or college is time which can never ever be made up. During those times there is usually less stress over finances and job pressure if only due to ignorance or youth or both. Being a grown up means more grown up concerns and priorities. Paying the bills and making sure there is food on the table and clothes being washed and so on takes priority over trivial things like making up for lost time, or even happiness. It’s the curse of capitalism, perhaps.

If it was truly meant to be, if I was truly meant to find some love out there, why would things in my life seem to grow harder and harder and more stressful every time I even considered taking more active steps towards it? I know this is close to “woe is me whining” territory, but this has been a common pattern in my life, and it has always stunk. Every time I ask the universe for a sign, it gives me one; that sign is always one that makes me miserable, is all. But at least miserable is better than dead, or homeless, or so on.

Another lost summer, another lost year. Another lost ember of hope. And officially my second year running what I call “my lonely man blog”. And so I remain…the Dateless-Man. But at least I am not currently the Jobless Man.