Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Confessions of a single guy

My birthday is two days after Valentine's Day. I'll be 28 this year.

Growing up, February was my favorite month because I doubled up on the cards with money enclosed. The checks ran dry long ago. In elementary school you were required to give Valentine's Day cards to everyone, so that was nice as well. As an adult, the obligatory cards are few and far between. This time of year it becomes all the more apparent that I'm single, which, as I get older, feels more pathetic.

I am not single by choice. I've never been much for the bar scene. I can be painfully shy in social situations. If someone initiates the conversation first, I'm fine and an exchange of dialogue will flow naturally. Approaching others I don't know very often terrifies me as I become gripped by a fear of rejection. This paralyzing trepidation, as is usually the case with these sorts of things, can be tied back to injustices I incurred in adolescence.

Most of my life has been spent in the dreaded friend-zone. I've lost count of the number of times of heard variations on the following phrase “You're a really great guy, but I can't see you as more than a friend.” Hearing that over and over again begins to take a psychology toll and you can't help but wonder: what is wrong with me? Am I releasing the wrong kind of pheromones? Am I releasing any pheromones? Perhaps, I talk about myself too much or don't listen enough. I am working on both.

Of course, it is just a line. It is a way, in theory, to soften the blow of the rejection. Even so, there is a certain truth to it. I've been told by women that the fireworks, the magic, the spark isn't there with me. I am too amicable, easy-going and, well, friendly. Whatever the reason that I am friends only material, I call their bluff. I become a friend. It has paid off as I've made some important friendships this way. In truth, I don't mind the friend-zone, but, naturally, desire more.

So, I have turned to the world of online dating and, much to my surprise, I've been quite successful at securing dates. My site of choice for the last year has been the free website, which is every bit as good as the pay-site At both sites though I encountered the same phenomenon. I would send lots of messages out and receive very few responses. On many occasions I'd spend 30 minutes to an hour constructing a message and get nothing back. In talking to the women who did respond I discovered that the problem is that most of the women on these sites have inboxes stuffed with crude, none-to-subtle propositions for sex. The good, unfortunately, gets tossed out with the bad.

I've been able to secure dates because okcupid has an instant messaging service. I search for profiles of women who are online and when I find a profile I like I send a clever one-liner or directly reference something from their profile. I still get ignored, but more often than not I get a response. Something about the immediacy makes it harder to dismiss. It helps that the first thing I say isn't about the size of a certain piece of my anatomy. Many of these exchanges peter out, but some eventually leave okcupid for other social media before moving onto phone conversations and dates.

There have been positive experiences and disastrous ones. There have been sweet, intelligent, witty women and raving loons. I had a conversation with a girl who claims she sold her soul to the devil in exchange for the power to beguile all men. Apparently, I am immune to her bewitching charms. There also seems to be a high number of women on okcupid with serious emotional issues. This leads me to wonder if everyone on dating sites are damaged goods and therefore what does that say about me?

I am discovering more friends on okcupid than love interests and after years of frustration of being just the friend I am simply embracing it. In the past, I was trying too hard. There was a desperation in my pursuit for love. I've come to a place where I'm glad to make new connections and create a network of new, worthy friends who can enrich my life. Should one of these friendships turn to love that will be welcomed, but I'm no longer going to sweat it. I've come to dating later than most and I'm experiencing it at my own, perfectly healthy pace. The more I think about it that doesn't sound pathetic at all.

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