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.

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A Random Incident, or a Moment of Clarity?

The title of the blog may say, “The New Adventures of Dateless-Man”, but in truth most of the adventures posted are actually past incidents from my life. Delving back into my childhood through adolescence and into my college years, until now as I am “over 30″and still woefully inexperienced and an utter failure with women and romance. As my flashbacks ended, the focus of the blog has mostly shifted towards my own thoughts and feelings around related targets (with a few exceptions). Angst about my own virginity has come up a few times, and earlier this month I dipped a toe into revealing that I had a fetish at all. But this time I have a truly “new” adventure, which does involve a woman but it also involves something else. It saw me almost lock horns against another one of my “elder virgins in arms” and put in stark detail the sizable gap between someone such as I, and someone such as him. It was hardly a fun incident, but an incident which has actually caused me to question my own futility at romance for the first time in a while.

There is a bit of backstory and context to delve into. As someone who has a job which requires unusual hours as well as someone who has often utilized the services of cyber cafes, I’ve bumped into a wide assortment of unusual or strange “characters”. One of the weirdest is a man who I will dub “Vick”. He is actually a year younger than me, but due to balding and an issue with weight he appears as if he is older, and is of Italian ancestry. He actually claimed to have gone to the same Catholic elementary class as I did, but I don’t remember him at all. He is someone who, per his own account, was once addicted to drugs and “lived a life of sin” in his teens and early 20’s as he sought to eke out a career as a stand up comedian (where his demeanor, at best, is like a young Artie Lange). Vick’s father is mentally ill, foul tempered, and from what I have seen personally, extremely verbally abusive (with little ever told about his mother). However, at some point he “found God” and became a born again Christian. He mixed this into his desire to perform in order to become what can be best described as “a free form prop comic preacher” who spends most of his time busking on trains, train stations, a college he took an acting class at, parks, streets, buses, and occasionally clubs. His act usually involves him coming up with one song lyric as it relates to some “character” he as invented, which is usually the name of the character, and then singing a song which repeats that lyric over and over as he dances awkwardly for between 5-20 minutes. At the end of his act (before asking for “donations”), he will usually preach about Jesus and that his version of faith involves “a childlike faith” and “to become pure like a child” as well as “going out of your mind and thinking outside of the box”. He’s been captured on video many times on YouTube and even tried out for “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent” more than once. His talent is dubious; while I suppose he is funny in an embarrassing and pathetic kind of way, he is more annoying than anything. 90% of the time Vick’s audience is either in a train car, a bus, or a computer lab; in other words, captive. He has been detained by police and had his stuff confiscated a few times, but thankfully never been assaulted by an irate person; I’ve seen videos where he’s been confronted and perhaps God has looked after him, as nothing violent has happened.

More than his act, being “a man of God” has consumed his life; Vick has clearly used it to fill whatever void in himself that drugs once did. He is almost physically incapable of talking to anyone for longer than a couple of minutes without attempting to convert them or sermonize them. He has attended church but usually disapproves of most organized religion. He views the Bible in his own strict interpretation which includes a rigid intolerance for homosexuals (to the point that in a Facebook post about the recent Orlando shooting he all but says the victims deserved it), a belief that a woman should be “a princess”, not having sex (with oneself or others) before marriage, and seeing many things as sinful (or things such as tarot cards as “Satanic”). He is mentally disabled and sees a doctor, although other times he has claimed he was encouraged to lie about it by his parents to get the disability money. Despite his talk of love, Jesus, and childlike innocence, he has a volatile temper and is incapable of taking any criticism well. He will eagerly attempt to use his faith to judge someone else and talk himself up if he is losing an argument. Vick’s views on women are hardly the best. While he compares himself to Rocky Balboa and believes “having a woman” will motivate him into being a better man, he also wishes it was “the 1950’s again” and seems to lament the era of more independent women. While he has enough charisma to go on dates (more than I ever have), things tend to deteriorate quickly. Several times, Vick has admitted to going to massage parlors and getting “a foot job”, which I did not ask about. I believe it a form of masterbation but I am not sure. Even on Facebook, he often is asking people to attend a show or aid in whatever music video he is trying to craft online one second or begging for prayers and fighting with anyone who criticizes him or encourages him to seek more therapy the next. At heart Vick is (or wants to be) a decent person, but above that he is very annoying and passive-aggressive.

I don’t exactly recall how we became acquaintances. While I may have zero ability to attract women, I seem to be adept at sometimes attracting weirdo guys. I sometimes call them “Mr. No-Friends”. Basically, someone who senses that deep down you won’t thrash them no matter how annoying they are, and you’ve chosen to make eye contact and talk with them once. I probably talked to him once or twice and suddenly he thinks I am a best friend. I have tried everything to get him to reconsider. I have criticized him, sought to give him advice, and told him that I did not want to be friends, as I found his comedy annoying and was not interested in his faith. Vick refuses to take the hints or outright statements of discomfort; even being deliberately mean and verbally vicious on purpose to drive him away doesn’t work because deep down he knows it is all bark. He also is one of the few people in real life who knows my own shameful virginity secret, and that is one revelation I regret handing him. He is not the first “Mr. No-Friends” I have met in my life but he’s become one of the hardest to be rid of. I am normally open minded and compassionate towards people with social awkwardness, but Vick is an incredibly frustrating person to deal with.

This incident in question takes place last week (and therefore counts as a “new adventure”). I was on the train going home late at night and Vick happened to get onto the same car during that commute. It has happened more than once before and is always frustrating. Telling him I am tired and not in the mood to talk does no good; Vick will ignore me and go about with whatever he wants to talk about. 90% of the time it is an opinion about some crazy element he wants to add to his act which he wants a perspective on which he usually goes on to completely ignore, thus rendering the conversation useless. He is very loud and if he goes on his “act”, he makes no secret to everyone on the train car that we are friends, which can be very embarrassing (especially since I do not consider him a friend nor is he very talented). That night was no different as I had to talk Vick out of busking and embarrassing me before he asked my opinion about his latest “wacky” annoying character he wanted to perform as and what prop to add to his costume for it. Knowing he wouldn’t leave me alone anyway I engaged in some conversation and offered some suggestions (which he ignored). A couple of middle aged women recognized Vick from some of his busking and he informed them there would be no “show” today. From how they seemed to react I got the impression they enjoyed laughing at him rather than with him.

Things were going about as smoothly as my frustrating encounters with Vick go before an added element came into play; me seeing first hand how he interacts with women. Out of the blue he notices a blonde woman of Slavic descent (she had a Russian or Polish accent and our neighborhood has many immigrants from those areas) reading a book on a seat across from us and begins to talk to her. Vick claims to have “seen her before” and asks if they had met. Since he had just come from a club Vick soon learns she’s been to some of them and presumes it is from there. He introduces himself as a performer (and loudly proclaims that he’s decided not to perform tonight for my sake) and states that he has videos online and tried out for “America’s Got Talent” recently, which is all true. Vick then asked for her email so he could “send her links to his stuff” or words to that effect. Her demeanor was friendly (or at least courteous) as she declined, saying that “I’ll look you up since you’re online”. At this point the entire conversation changed. Vick then demanded why he couldn’t get an email, stated that he wasn’t trying to pick her up, and proceeded to talk himself up as if he was a major professional talent. The woman continued to be polite, although it was obvious that she was taken aback by Vick’s shift in tone and was now on defense. Things continued to deteriorate as Vick would compliment her on her beauty one minute while judging her “close mindedness” the next, and was all but demanding her email before going to jot down links to some of his online stuff. Vick refused to let it go and was treating it as a rejection.

As a silent witness wishing I could jump off the train at that point, the awkwardness and “crossing the line” moment was as clear as day. After 5-10 minutes of this back and forth, in which Vick was getting more heated and seemed to take each refusal more and more personally, I asked him to stop. Perhaps as a part of “male privilege” (such as not having to deal with aggressive men I am not into demanding my digits at random intervals a lot) I gave him benefit of the doubt and presumed he was ignorant of how this spectacle was playing out. I told him in no uncertain terms that he’d “crossed a line where it got so awkward even I can see it”. I asked if he even realized it. Vick instead restated his case that he was only asking for her email to share some of his comedy act links with, not to try to date her, regardless of the fact that I didn’t claim his aims were outwardly romantic. I made the error of sharing an exasperated glance at the woman’s direction (which she shared) and at that point Vick turned on me. He (loudly) blamed me for talking him out of performing his bizarre act on a train at 1-2 a.m. as causing his lack of credibility in her eyes as an entertainer. At one point Vick snorted, “Now you can finally have your chance to talk to a beautiful woman”, to which I replied, “That has nothing to do with this,” and indeed we didn’t share a word between us. Vick continued to insist on complimenting the woman’s looks while judging her for being “closed minded” and not appreciating his talent, and before long brought up Jesus as his strength and why he is a holy man better than everyone. He did finally jot down some links to look up and she took his paper, likely to avoid furthering the already nasty scene. She eventually got off the train and a few stops later, so did Vick. In Vick’s mind I was trying to sabotage his interaction with the woman, whereas in my mind I witnessed Vick cross the line into harassment and tried to diffuse the situation for the woman and offer him advice, only to have him turn on me. By that point I didn’t care if he misunderstood my intentions and was happy for the peace once Vick left the train.

At this point I realized more than one thing. Firstly, that how Vick is with me and people online seems to repeat itself with his interactions with others. While I may know that Vick is not violent and is all bark and no bite, others certainly don’t know that. I witnessed him switch from inviting to judgmentally hostile towards a woman within seconds; while I’m not naive and am more than aware that men get like that a lot, I honestly hadn’t had so blunt and ugly a demonstration since college (if ever). He doesn’t take hints with anyone and anything which doesn’t line up with his worldview is seen as a personal insult to his ego, which he will defend even if it clashes with the “holy” message he professes. The hypocrisy of those who wrap themselves in religion is also hardly new to me; I went to a Catholic elementary school, I saw it daily as a kid. Part of the reason why Vick hasn’t gotten anywhere in life or his career besides his lack of talent is his rigidly hostile personality. After all, a homophobe certainly has an uphill battle in the entertainment industry of New York. Yet he’s had plenty of opportunities with women and/or professions (even interest from cable network stations or reps from them) and botched them all.

But the second thing I noticed was my ability to accurately read the situation, “feel” the awkwardness and energy within the scene change, and just have a general awareness of the affair. Just to start out with, the woman was reading a book, which is one of those obvious tell tale signs that someone does not want to be bothered on mass transit (the other being headphones). As a rule of thumb, mass transit is a terrible place to proposition people, but things such as books or headphones are obvious demonstrations that someone is occupying their commute time and does not want to be bothered. Regardless of intentions, Vick was fearless with his “icebreaker”, but his critical issue was failing to take a refusal gracefully. Regardless of whether his intent was romantic or not, Vick failed (either out of ignorance or selfishness) to empathize with the woman and realize that it isn’t unreasonable to not want to give out a personal email to a stranger one has just met for a couple of minutes on the train whether he performs or not. An email is not quite as personal as a phone number or even a Facebook profile (or “digits”), but certainly within the third to fifth most vital contact data that most people have. He failed to realize that a strange man she doesn’t know or desire to know asking (if not demanding) her contact information or more interest than she has can be threatening (or at least uncomfortable or unpleasant). I could genuinely sense her reaction shift from bewildered curiosity to defensiveness to awkward “wanting this to end” the longer Vick proceeded and got emotional. I’ve rarely wanted to give advice regarding interacting with people, but I’ve certainly gained some experience with that throughout my various jobs that I was able to read the entire scene with 100% accuracy. I mean, if I can “feel” when interest is there versus not there over the phone for the limited capacity I have to at work, maybe that translates outside of work or off the phone. Above all, my ability to have empathy for a woman may as well have been a super power compared to Vick, even with arguably less dating experience. I have always known myself to be a shy, reclusive, socially awkward neurotic mess; I am not used to the idea of being able to read a social situation better than someone else.

Thirdly, I realized something more potentially profound. As much as I fret about being a burden, an annoyance, or a source of emotional stress to women based on my sheer inexperience or lack of charisma, I am none of these things. Vick is, and the gulf between he and I may be as vast as the gulf between myself and some handsomely charming ladies man. Perhaps I may have been closer when I left college in my mid 20’s but maybe times have changed since then. My last date took place several weeks before I landed my first major job after college (and even before my birthday that year). That was over eight years ago. Maybe I have changed since then, adapted to my experiences or simply survived more crap since 2008. I am well behind the curve in terms of the average romantic experience level for a New York man, but maybe I am not as vastly off the mark as I suspected. I’ve seen first hand what vastly off the mark looks like through Vick. And despite being a Godless atheist, I was not the one who allowed anger (one of the seven deadly sins) to consume my opinion of women or pay for “a foot job” at a massage parlor (whatever the heck that is). It sounds small and pathetic, but this may be the first time in my entire life I sensed that I was better at something even remotely involving women than another man, especially a man I knew personally (whether I wanted to or not). With my usual circle of friends I’m just their sidekick or a sexless background detail; next to Vick I may have seemed suave or confident (not arrogant or full of bravado). It also was a modern example where I proved that I was not willing to even allow a man I knew to harass a woman in my presence without a word.

There are many things I’m not and may never be. My woeful inexperience with women is a hurdle which I may not be able to be overcome. And as per the examples of almost every person I have ever seen who seeks to buck up a “later in life virgin”, I may only get one chance at romance. Virtually every person I have ever seen who ever tries to reassure an older virgin tells some version of the same narrative: “I met my latest boyfriend/husband and he was ___ old and still a virgin and now we’re engaged/married/dating very steadily”, or they offer hearsay of someone they know whose tale goes like that. Which means even that reassurance suggests that I may only have ONE shot at this (since nobody ever says, “Yeah, I dated a guy who was a virgin until he was ___ and we dated a bit and moved on, he was no better or worse than anyone else”), that it is double or nothing. I am not planning to instantly marry whoever my first lover is, nor do I think most people want to do that with an older virgin they meet (usually that’s a stigma against them; the theory that they’ll attach to their first lover like a baby duckling). Ideally, I’d want the person who I choose to share my life with to be someone I have made an informed choice towards. But life isn’t ideal and maybe I may only have a “double or nothing” shot at this. However, I don’t think I am as bad a guy for a woman as Vick (who among other things can’t hold a steady job) and maybe that means I’m not the worst freak out there. Maybe all the guys out there who “stumble and bumble” their way to more than I’ve experienced got there because they were willing to do so at all. I’ll never be a great catch or even an above average catch for any woman. But I’m closer to average than Vick, and better than horrible. Maybe I wouldn’t be as terrible at this dating stuff if I gave it another shot as I am now, not envisioning it as I was in my teens or 20’s.

I am still processing this, and things in life can always happen. My budget is low and my schedule is tight. My family obligations never end. But all year I have been looking for some sort of “sign” to maybe dip a toe back in the arena, maybe give OkCupid a serious try. This incident may have been it.

I am the Dateless-Man, but I am a better man than someone I know who isn’t an actual criminal. It isn’t much, but it’s something to hang on to. So long as I retain my empathy and experience, my attempts at dating don’t have to be any worse on someone else than any other random encounter they may have, if not better. “He did nothing for me but he was at least considerate and funny,” isn’t the worst bad date for a woman to talk about, after all. I am not the lowest denominator of men; I may be close but I’m not the lowest. I got a refresher course for that. I’m not the literal worst, as the kids say on Tumblr these days. The next step is where I go with this, if I go anywhere at all.

This is as close to upbeat as my blog posts get! Soak it up!

Steve Harvey: Master of Dating Advice?

And now for something completely different!

Now that we’re through with my vault of dating misadventures, and there’s a lull in fresh experiences to recount, it may be different to mull over a more minor reaction I had to something which relates to this blog. My job demands atypical hours (that is, not “9 to 5 Monday thru Friday”) and I’m a bit of a night owl to boot. Therefore, I’m usually awake in the a.m. hours and watching TV as I eat my dinner. Last week, I was channel surfing and happened to click onto NBC for a split second, which was airing a rerun of the “Steve Harvey” afternoon talk show from earlier in the day. I would have kept on going when the promo caught my attention for a reason which will soon be obvious. Apparently a man who was 30 years old and had never kissed a woman before (and was naturally also a virgin) had agreed to come on the show for advice, and Steve Harvey was going to help him. Apparently, Steve Harvey is more than a stand up comedian and game show host now; he’s a love guru. Considering some of the places I have sought dating advice online (or in print), I figured I would watch the segment and see what, if anything, was applicable or I thought may work for me. I also was morbidly curious about the entire spectacle.

I may as well give a little summary about Steve Harvey for those unaware, fresh from the “Dateless-Man Computer” (i.e. Wikipedia). He’s a stand up comedian who has been working the circuit since the mid 1980’s and was in some TV shows and movies during the 90’s but who has found greater success at the turn of the century. After hosting “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” and landing his own sitcom on what was then “The WB Network” (titled, “The Steve Harvey Show”) from 1996-2002, he toured with “The Original Kings of Comedy” for a stretch. He also began hosting a daily radio show in 2000. However, his star seemed to rise even beyond this in 2010, when he began hosting the syndicated game show “Family Feud”.

The Feud may still be famous for its original host, Richard Dawson, who was (in)famous for kissing EVERY SINGLE  WOMAN WHO EVER APPEARED ON THE SHOW. Other men have hosted it since, including Louie Anderson, Richard Karn (who’s since gone on to sell hoses in commercials) and John O’Hurley. I’m not a huge game show fan and “Family Feud” is usually a show I neither hate or enjoy. Being a cynic, I usually feel the families are too nice and when it comes time to pick two members for the final round, they always seem to pick the stupidest member of their brood (almost as if to ensure that nobody wins the $20,000 and/or the car too often).  Most viewers would get a better “family feud” eavesdropping their neighbors around Thanksgiving. At any rate, Harvey and the Feud seemed to click, and the ratings have gone up drastically ever since.

Knowing when to strike when the iron was hot, Steve Harvey utilized his buzz to get himself a daytime talk show in 2012. Considering the daytime talk show market is full of the graveyards of people who couldn’t hack it (not even Tony “The Boss” Danza), the fact that it’s going on four seasons is impressive. Steve Harvey’s since retired from stand up and ventured into other areas. A born again Christian, he’s started a dating website for women and often has themes revolving around relationship advice on his show. Last year, he famously botched the crowing moment of the “Miss Universe Pageant” (which he was hosting), which became a meme. Steve Harvey may be pushing 60, but he’s apparently at the top of his career right now.

This is hardly Steve Harvey’s first foray into the topic of older adult virginity on his talk show. I found two clips on YouTube from previous shows going back to 2013-2014. The first deals with a grandmother asking for advice for her 25 year old grandson who is a virgin (and who she wants to “hook up”). Harvey suggests that she leave that to the men in the family and jokes at the end that they “get him to a strip club” or words to that effect. The second has a woman who asks at what point is it weird to still be a virgin (as she is 28). After joking that she’s “at that point now”, Steve Harvey makes sure to stress that what she has is “a gift” who she should only grant a man who appreciates it. Now, I am not posting these to be overly critical; surely Steve Harvey makes less fun of these situations that many comedians would on TV. But simply as evidence that he likely has what could be considered a “typical” opinion on older virgins – that is, if it’s a guy he’d better lose it fast, and if it’s a woman she’s got something extra that only someone worthy should get (sort of like Thor’s hammer, only not a hammer). I’d seen these clips before watching the episode and they were in the back of my mind.

Apparently it is a regular bit on Steve Harvey’s talk show for people to send in requests to come on the show for advice for related topics and for whichever one is vetted the best by the producers, they get a segment. Hey, filling five days a week is tough! At any rate, the “30 year old kiss-less virgin” (as he would be called on Reddit or 4chan) was only identified by his first name; I forgot what it was so I’ll go by “Mitch”. He was exactly 30, so a little younger than me, and apparently was a paralegal as well as into playing tennis. For the record, he was white. It’s tough for me to gauge a man’s looks since I don’t look at men the same as someone sexually oriented towards them would, but he seemed about average in that regard; neither Hollywood handsome nor hideous (although his teeth were perfect). Height is also something tough to gauge on TV, as I have no idea how tall Steve Harvey is for comparison. It was quickly obvious that Mitch (who was dressed in a blue suit) was nervous, although whether because he was an anxious guy by nature or because he was on TV in front of a live audience (of mostly women) which would soon be broadcast to millions around the world wasn’t known. Naturally, revealing that he had never kissed a girl and that he was still a virgin came off pretty awkwardly; so awkwardly that when Mitch revealed that he’d already been on eight dates this year, Steve Harvey was genuinely surprised. Mitch described a typical first date as going out for ice cream and him trying to make sure there were no awkward silences by talking a lot.

The gist of the segment was Steve Harvey giving him pointers and then observing as Mitch interacts with a (presumably) single woman they’ve set up for him backstage. Throughout the segment, while Steve Harvey naturally had a little fun with things, he did try to encourage the audience to have sympathy for Mitch by saying “he’s my dude” and that “he was gonna set him up” and so on. Then came the advice. Harvey naturally stressed having “swag”, which is modern lingo for “confidence” and/or “charisma”. He suggested a jazz club as a date option over ice cream (“I don’t care if you like jazz or if she likes jazz; take her to a jazz club. You’ll come off as different from other guys”) since Mitch expressed nervousness about how close to sit with a woman  and when to touch her during conversation. Harvey claimed jazz climbs encourage close seating and the music fills space in conversation without being too loud. He also said that “chivalry wins women over” and stressed that Mitch should go out of his way, from getting his date’s seat to menus and so on. Upon seeing how Mitch seemed to awkwardly flail his arms around when he spoke, Steve said he should “cut it out with the arms, man” (which led to comedy as Mitch then almost sat on his hands). Steve then demonstrated a “move” he used to do at clubs when he was single with a middle aged women in the front row of the audience; he’d take her hand and seem to kiss the top of it, but in fact would just kiss his own hand and go, “That’s just for now, when we know each other a little better the next one’s for you”. The audience whooped and howled; I thought it came off as very corny and without “swag” it would likely be laughed off, and not in a good way, today. Mitch brought up that he wanted to “have his first kiss with someone special”, while Steve Harvey suggested that “have his first kiss with anyone he can” because getting beyond it was “the promised land”, which Harvey stressed he was having no part of.

As if this wasn’t awkward enough, then came the part where they brought in the woman from backstage for “practice”. This consisted of the pair being seated on the stage maybe a yard from Harvey and trying to go through the motions of small talk. The woman was attractive and seemed very upbeat about it. First, Mitch failed to get her seat for her, and then during their awkward small talk, asked her what shows she liked on Netflix. The impression was that this was leaning close to “Netflix and chill” territory – which is modern slang for going over to someone’s place to sleep with them. The woman asked, “Did you tell him to ask me this?” and Steve replied, “I didn’t tell him to talk about no damn Netflix!” Mitch justified it as wanting to know what shows she was into and later on brought up “Xena: Warrior Princess”. They both mentioned tennis (with Mitch offering to play a match with her) and while Steve Harvey seemed to be a bit wary of Mitch’s “game”, I do have to say the woman did her best to encourage him and seemed upbeat about it. Later on Mitch once again had to be reminded to take a date to a jazz club. Whether they went on a date or not is unknown.

I could sense the nervousness from the TV and with a twelve hour delay from Mitch the entire segment. I suppose one could say being willing to go on TV and admit to being a virgin, even without giving away one’s full name, is gutsy. Unfortunately, Mitch’s nerves made it difficult to tell for me as a viewer whether he was really like that or if he was like that because HE WAS ON TELEVISION with a FULL AUDIENCE and talking to A FAMOUS PERSON. Even some extroverts would get a little anxious under that circumstance. I also was wary of the advice; Steve Harvey comes from a different generation and I wonder if some of his “swag” would be outdated for someone half his age to try. Chivalry is nice, but it alone doesn’t cut it. Not being a guy who slams doors on someone or doesn’t offer to get a chair is the bare minimum. I can also see how going to a jazz club despite not being into it can backfire. If the woman doesn’t like jazz, and later learns (or suspects) that her date doesn’t and just brought here there for proximity, it can leave a bad impression. Probably the only real decent advice I got out of it was Steve Harvey suggesting that “normal touching” on a date begins with a tap on the arm or elbow at a high point in conversation; I’d read that before. The ambiguity of the woman who was brought in was also strange; was she a local single? A coach? An actress or other guest who was going to roll along with it for the sake of the segment? Or was there an awkward connection on TV in front of the audience? While I related to the man involved, I didn’t think the segment offered much practical advice for men in that situation and while Harvey hardly brought him up there to mock, naturally the impression was that this was a bit different from the norm. There was no vibe of “come look at the freak” (that’s “Jerry Springer”) but naturally the promos stressed he was 30 and had never been kissed.

Believe it or not, I have sought advice and guidance from many places online and off. They have ranged to the “Doctor Nerdlove” site to the Playboy Advisor, and plenty of TV shows or online clips when I have been able to find them. It always feels strange, looking up advice on things that most normal people seem to “get”, such as how to flirt or what to do on a date or how to kiss or so on. It all seems very mechanical, like I am an alien trying to learn how to be human via studying books and texts. There’s knowledge to be had, but it’s not the same as doing or being. And life isn’t a sport; while there is some leeway or benefit of the doubt for learning many new skills later in life, such as sports or art or computers, dating seems to be considered a lost cause after high school. While there are relationship coaches and therapists, these things are still looked down on. A part of me wondered what I expected to learn at all. Instead it is something else to file away under the boxes of advice which I don’t think cuts it inside my mind. I sure know if I tried that weird hand kiss move, I’d either get decked or laughed out of the room. “Swag” is important, but that’s basically charisma; and if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. It can be faked or acted around to a degree, but I genuinely don’t think it can be learned.

I am naturally petrified at the idea of anyone knowing my status as a virgin over 30 who has never been kissed, either. I couldn’t imagine going on TV and revealing that or talking about it, even if I was wearing a mask. A few of my friends know, but they number in single digits and it is hardly something I eagerly discuss. Most of my guy friends seem to have caught on that talk about women or relationships is a bit “ixnay” for me. I never bring it up and neither do they. There are times I am tempted to make a Facebook post about it, seeking to retake control of my own anxiety by admitting it. “I AM _____ AND I AM A ____ YEAR OLD VIRGIN!” and typing out my feelings towards more intimate people than folks on a blog. Just to imagine what the freedom of not having to hide the secret might be like for a second. Fortunately, then reality sets in and I know it would be something I would have to live down. Eventually my co-workers would learn and it would become the talk of the office. My friends might even be embarrassed for me. I would get platitudes and pity that I do not want. It would not go well and I would ultimately regret it. I’m not even ready to meet one person in real life who isn’t a longtime friend to reveal the secret (or knows it through the blog). Group therapy sounds scary in that regard. TV? Not unless I was getting a seven figure paycheck out of it, and maybe not even then. I may be circus freak, but I’m not quite ready to admit it and embrace it. All I ever wanted was to be normal, to have a normal life. People who stumble and bumble their way towards things I have to study up on just to comprehend just don’t understand what it is like to be on the outside of life. To look at it as something you can see and even be a witness to, but that you can’t ever touch or be a part of.

It was an awkward viewing which I didn’t expect at maybe 2-3 o’clock in the morning. It made me glad, at least, that I had kept my secret and not been desperate to be on TV somewhere. There was no way I could crack it. I also imagined that there is likely better romance advice out there than that offered by Steve Harvey. It’s not bad, but there’s got to be another five answers up there on the board given by a survey of 100 people. It’s nice that I am not alone in this regard, but I already know that. The quest is to find a way out of it without destroying what is left of my esteem.

Either that, or learning to like jazz.

Faults Addendum & Dateless-Man’s Strengths

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.

2). Understanding

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.

3). Intelligence

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.

4). Sensuality

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.

6). Self-Awareness

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.

7). Loyalty

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.

Dateless-Man vs. General Virginity Opinions

It seems that when you’re  what is termed an “older male virgin” (that is, an American man who hasn’t had sex by age 21 or so, or in my case, by age 30-plus), not only are you up against a variety of factors (such as time and inexperience), you’re up against general social norms. Greater society (men in power) seeks to classify everyone and sets up rigid rules which everyone is supposed to follow or embody or live up to. Those who don’t tend to be seen as deviants at worst and at best “a bit off”. Even if you follow as many of those “rules” as you can, sticking out in even one or two elements can place you in an area apart from others where you’re on the outside looking in. And often when those of us who have the secret of being “older male virgins” express feelings such as anxiety, fear, and even frustration about our state, it is common for those responding to claim that it’s not as insurmountable a status as we think. “Nobody has to know unless you tell them,” is one platitude I’ve heard; another is, “It’s all in your head.” And as one thinks about things rationally, these platitudes (or to be fair, perspectives) can sound sensible.

But sometimes you encounter an example within everyday life where someone you know, by complete accident and in a completely impersonal way, reminds you that these social norms do exist. That being one of that “community” of older male virgins does place you in a position of difficulty or lowered status compared to most other men out there. And that perceptions about you, should you reveal your secret, face greater odds of being negative.

(For the record, I haven’t typed a post directly related to my angst about my virginity since the start of August, so I’m about due.)

This anecdote takes place earlier this week at work. I’ve been hesitant to reveal exactly what I do for a living but I will say that it involves a lot of talking on the phone. So much so that I imagine if I did reveal it all, someone would reply, “My god, you can do all that and you can’t talk to a woman!?” To which my reply would be, “Give me a set script, a list of rigid rules of engagement and no other avenue but my voice and then get back to me.” At any rate, it was a full night shift towards the end of the week and as usual, my supervisor was trying to keep the morale of the office high and the energy positive, without distracting anyone from working hard. And as my line of work usually attracts various types of “characters” to the office, he was engaged in some banter with one of the top men in our department (who I’ll dub “Ned”). Ned is an ex-con in his 40’s with plenty of experience, and an ego which far surpasses it. Yet that ego and confidence are part of why he does well, and trash talk is a part of his demeanor. Since my office employs mostly men (and most of them under the age of 25), such things are common. Ned and my supervisor go way back, and while they trade a lot of barbs against each other, it’s always in jest and never personal.

At one point in their never ending game to out-diss each other, my supervisor was responding to one of Ned’s many statements of self congratulation and arrogance around the office with, “Please don’t be a 40 year old virgin like Ned is! Please, please, PLEASE do not be a 40 year old virgin guys! Take care of that!”

Naturally, the joke was that Ned is far from a virgin. He has a daughter with a woman he’s not married to, and even in the time he’s returned to the company over the past 3-4 months he’s seemed to go through at least two lovers (and briefly lived with one). And naturally, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is a famous Steve Carell movie from 2005 which has become part of pop culture. I’ve heard good things about it, but I never watched it in part because I feared it would hit too close to home and upset me. But naturally, my supervisor giving that line (and the thunderous laughter it got from the entire rest of the office) showcased that sentiment about older male virgins. It is that they’re lame, defective, bottom of the pecking order, lower than other men, and less desired by women.

What did I do? I faked a smile, but I didn’t laugh. I didn’t feel personally insulted, as I haven’t revealed my secret to anyone in the office and the line wasn’t directed at me. I’m sensitive, but not that sensitive. My supervisor and I get along very well, even if like most people he likes to joke around a little. Once several years ago he played a minor prank on me in which he tried to convince me that one of our co-workers who was a woman liked me (and in which she was a willing accomplice). I initially smelled a prank and refused to believe it, even with the two of them trying to convince me that it was true. It was only by about the fourth round of, “No, seriously, she likes you” did I appear to almost swallow it and allow them to get to the gist of the joke (she made sure to tell me she had a boyfriend, and that it wasn’t her idea). I can take a joke and I had no hard feelings about it, even if I hardly laughed (and, ironically, I did have some crush on her). But that was years ago, and that co-worker had long since left the company. My supervisor, and no one in the room, could have any idea of how close to the mark a line like that was for me.

Which is the point. Being a post-30 virgin is so rare that it does seem like the stuff of improbable comedy cinema. And while this was an office full of men, the opinions of most women on the subject aren’t a whole lot more flattering. There are far worse secrets to have to keep to one’s vest, but this situation only reminded me that my “scarlet V” is really the “secret shame” that I sometimes term it, and it is genuinely something I have some merit to fret about.

Dateless-Man vs. New Year Doldrums

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Dateless-Man vs. Speed Dating II: The Wrath of Comic-Con!

Despite that title, I’m not actually a Trekkie. Just related to one.

At any rate, before Halloween creeps up on us and fall begins, it’s time to blog about an event I’ve promised since the start of September. After a six year lapse in doing anything involving dating besides monthly (or bi-monthly) checks ups on my neglected OkCupid profile, I finally decided to do something a bit impulsive. I agreed to go to a speed dating event which was held during this year’s “New York Comic Con” roughly three weeks ago. While speed dating may not be the most ideal setting for shy, anxious people, it’s an activity I have some experience with – I went to three speed dating shindigs back in 2009. This event was held by a different company and naturally at a different venue. Rather than a bar in Manhattan attracting plenty of “normal” people, it was held at the biggest comic convention on the east coast where everyone was assured to be some type of geek. I’ve never had any success at speed dating (or slow dating, or any dating, ever), but I regretted not trying it out at previous cons and I figured some of the odds were in my favor in terms of shared interests.

Things are different than they were six years ago. The success of comic book movies and TV shows have made comics more mainstream than they were back then. I also have had four years experience at a job which literally forces me to talk to over 200 people a day, every day, five days a week. My grandmother’s since died and I’ve gone through four years of turmoil and struggle with my sick mother, our slum of an apartment, and other struggles. I have insisted for many installments that trying to date again after being years behind the curve is useless because I’m the same person fundamentally as I was in high school, college or in my late 20’s. At the core this is true, and many of my insecurities remain. But at this event I did notice that some things had changed within myself, at least for an hour or two.

The event was organized by “NY Minute Dating” (NYMD), which offers parties and events for little more than $25 elsewhere. They held speed dating events on all three days of the con, but I chose to go on Friday, October 9th, with the theory that if I hit it off with anyone, we could hang out at the con the second day (or at the very least, I didn’t have to get up early for work the next day). I registered in advance and arrived a little less than half an hour early. While plenty of people were in “cosplay”, I wasn’t. I was clad in my usual studded leather jacket, jeans, and a geeky t-shirt (in this case, centered around Ninja Turtles).

Some things were different between this speed dating event and the ones I went to in ’09, and others were the same. The similarity involved the women being stationary, seated at tables and assigned number cards; it is the men who visit each one for 3 minute intervals before “rotating” to the next one (at the sound of a bell). Everyone is given a sheet to jot down the first names of the people you chat with and like for matching purposes later. The biggest difference were the demographics. In the more mainstream set events from 2009, the women typical outnumbered the men; in fact, discounts were often granted to men to get them to sign up in greater numbers. At comic-con, it was the exact opposite. Between women who registered in advance (which was the preferred method) and ones who showed up on the spot, NYMD was barely able to fill a room with 30 women for longer than a couple of minutes. The male spots, however, filled up quick and there was a line of them waiting outside for any vacancies which stretched for several yards. I expected this, which was one of the reasons why I arrived early.

I was a bundle of nerves as we were preparing for the event, with all of the men lined up on one side of the room before everyone was assigned their first “positions” seated with the women. I chatted with some of the dudes alongside me about this and that. Having done speed dating before, I came off as experienced. However, despite this being a “geek” venue, there were a variety of different guys. One (who was cosplaying as some ninja type character) was quite athletic, energetic, and traditionally handsome. A younger one (cosplaying as Marty McFly) was a physics student, and we talked a little. Not long after I also shared some words with another fellow who fretted about “creeping out the girls” and had a bit of an overbite. Despite preferring women with similar interests, I was under no illusion that this would somehow make them more tolerant of certain things than women who weren’t into geeky things. The proof of this seemed to be at least 5-6 women flat out leaving the event before it started once they got a first glance at the line up of the men available. I once heard a saying about trying to date at a con; men have no chance, and women can take their pick. This left almost two dozen ladies left to have speed dates with. At least a third were cosplaying, and I managed to recognize most of the characters they were dressed as.

One of the first things I noticed was how young most of the crowd was. The sign up site said that the event was for people aged 21-35, but I noticed a grand total of one person who I thought was older than me (and barely more who were my age). Nobody checked ID’s at the door so it is very possible to have lied about age and gotten in without being 21. A gentleman doesn’t ask a lady’s age and it wasn’t a question which came up with every date, but it was very common for most of the people present to still be undergrads in college. At least half of the women I talked to couldn’t have been more than a day or two over 21. While I am willing to date younger women, they were a bit younger than I usually prefer, and at times the age gap seemed obvious. I used t-shirts and/or cosplay as an icebreaker topic and once I mentioned things such as being a fan of the original Ninja Turtles cartoon from 1987 – before some of these women were even born – I felt a little bit like Dorian Gray or Dracula (only without the charm or wealth). A slight majority of the women there were white, but there was also many women of color there as well; mostly of Asian or Middle Eastern heritage. Such things don’t matter to me; I’m not someone who avoids women of color nor has a fetish for them as some men may.

I started out a bit nervous, and it is possible the first lady I spoke with helped me fight through a lot of that. A Latina in her 20’s, she had dark hair and was not only very assertive and seemed to be proud of it, she also worked as a mortician as well as an avid kick-boxer. I got the feeling she may have killed me if we were on an actual date. Everyone else seemed far easier to talk to in comparison afterward, and I had roughly 21 speed dates in total – which makes it a perfect blackjack. I easily had the best conversations with two women who were likely friends because they were both cosplaying as gender bent versions of Blue Beetle & Booster Gold – a classic buddy team from DC Comics. It was mostly just 3 minutes of talking about comics and other nerdy subjects. I also had a fun conversation with a woman dressed as Frodo from “Lord of the Rings”. I must say that while there were only one or two out of that 21 who I could say I had no attraction to physically, there were others were there seemed to be little chemistry with, and that 3 minutes felt like an hour. The DJ who kept music flowing and rang the cheap cowbell to mark the time was trying to keep the atmosphere loose, even though he seemed to be trying too hard to be funny.

What surprised me about my own performance was the ease with which I seemed to talk. After initial nervousness, I was in a zone. Sure, I did have a bit of a canned opener and I did have to watch myself to avoid talking too much. But I would work with what I got, try to find common ground. I seemed to have more of a sense of when I thought things weren’t clicking with some women. I think I came off sounding far more confident and fun than I usually am, even if I also likely came off a bit old as well. I proved to be quite a chatterbox, even willing to poke fun at myself (when one attempt at my opener felt awkward, I owned it by saying, “Sorry, it’s just my icebreaker, let’s carry on” or words to that effect). Considering I was hardly the tallest or most handsome guy in the room, I honestly don’t think I could done any better, and I rarely feel like that about anything – especially things involving women. I took the best shot I had. Perhaps my day job caused me to rely somewhat on an opener which felt scripted, since that is what I am used to. It did help, as well as the fact that I was more in my element with fellow geeks talking more about hobbies than with more straight laced types. Still, most of the women there were talking about college and just graduating, which once again put the onus on age.

Once the event was over, one was supposed to log into the company’s website the next day and click on all the names of the people you liked. If they also liked you, emails would be exchanged. So out of 21 people, there were roughly 9 that I felt enough of a connection happened that I would be willing to go on a full date with. That’s almost half, which I think means that my taste is flexible. I mean, why would I want to continue contact with someone who I didn’t click with for even the 3 minutes? I’d rather not use anyone. Everyone had up to 5 days to send in their clicks and then allow the NYMD wizards to work their magic.

I wound up with exactly zero matches. Despite the hi tech change – previous speed dating events with another company would use physical sheets instead of website clicks – my result was the same as before. There are harder ways to be rejected by 9 women within two hours, but in the end it turned out like it always did. At least since 2009, I can technically claim to have been rejected by at least 40 women at these events. Nobody can say I never tried.

I’m of mixed feelings about this. During the event itself I was enough in a zone where I thought I could actually try real dating again, at least online, if I had more heart to give it a genuine, honest try. Speed dating is a bit of a shortcut and it’s a shortcut which doesn’t seem to be working. The question is whether I have it in me to give genuine dating a try again considering how far behind the ball I am. Not even women at comic con wanted more than 3 minutes with me. What chance do I have with women outside of my element? Why should I expect any different result now?

Happy Halloween, everyone! I am sure I will have another post or so in me in the future, I’m just not sure what it will be yet.