Avoiding “Forever Alone”

Sometimes the most frustrating thing in the world is to feel absolutely powerless.

A couple of years ago, in the early days of the blog, I would do some personal coaching – mostly for friends, occasionally for the odd client or two. One of my clients, a good friend of mine, was an especially troubling case.

Karen1  was one of those incredibly frustrating cases. Karen was in her mid-30s, working for an IP firm in Manhattan. She was attractive, intelligent, outgoing… and single. In fact, she had been for several years – it seemed as though she had gone on first date after first date and nothing went right. Either the guy was intimidated by her, wasn’t interested in anything “serious,” or would string her along if he thought it would help him get into her pants… and while Karen wasn’t against banging out with a hot guy on occasion, she wasn’t looking for casual sex anymore. She wanted something more serious, more substantial. Something that had the potential to be long-term. She was, frankly, tired of long nights at home with only Netflix and the cat for company.

"It wasn't so bad until they yanked Veronica Mars off instant streaming..."

“It wasn’t so bad until they yanked Veronica Mars off instant streaming…”

Nothing worked. Speed-dating was a bust. Online dating didn’t help – the only men interested in her were looking for fuckbuddies – and one more night in the bar-scene was going to drive her insane. After spending time with Karen – even going on a practice date – I was stuck for an answer. She was intelligent, charming, friendly, passionate, funny, cheerful and ambitious. She was, frankly, doing everything right… and still getting nowhere. I couldn’t find any reasonable answer for her problem that didn’t involve radically reducing her standards just to find someone to fill the void. The best I could tell her was simply to hold on… the dating scene sucked now, but it wasn’t going to suck forever.

This, obviously, was not the answer Karen was hoping to hear. After all, she was starting to stare down 40… maybe, she admitted to me, it was time to just admit defeat and embrace the fact that she was going to be Forever Alone.

Now, Karen wasn’t the only person ever to feel this way. In fact, many of my readers have expressed this feeling that they’re reaching the Point Of No Return, where they’re forced to resign themselves to a solitary, empty existence, despite their best efforts. They feel doomed to live loveless, sexless lives, each day a trudging step towards a lonely death.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You Can’t Hurry Love

One of the first things that you have to realize is that there isn’t an expiration date on romance – some nebulous point in time that, if crossed, renders you unlovable and condemns you to die alone, unmourned and unloved. The constant feeling that time is running out is cultural; we put an inordinate value on “youth”. Every day, pop culture bombards us with stories of “young love”, beautiful people finding their One True Love in high-school or their early 20s. One of the most beloved love stories in the Western canon is about a pair of 13 year olds, for fuck’s sake.

Remember when Claire Danes was going to be A Thing?

Remember when Claire Danes was going to be A Thing?

The very few love stories that focus on older couples2 are almost inevitably  about finding love after tragedy – the death of a spouse, a bitter divorce – rather than the standard “boy meets girl” narrative.

...and those are almost all written by Nicholas Sparks.

…and those are almost all written by Nicholas Sparks.

The cold hard truth is: sometimes it takes a while to find your emotional feet, as it were. Some people are socially gifted; they have a natural grasp on social dynamics and are able to charm others or find a relationship as easily as ordering a sandwich at Subway. Others have a harder time. They may be socially inexperienced and need time to absorb the lessons that others might have learned earlier. Some may have issues in their past that have limited their ability to relate to others. Still others may simply take longer to come into their own.

All of us change and grow over time; we aren’t the same person at 40 that we were at 30 or 20, and the things that we thought and assumed about our futures are often laughably wrong. If you had told my 20-year old self what my life would be like or how many women I’ve dated or slept with in my 30s, he would have laughed in your face. As far I was concerned back then, that I would get by on whatever dregs of a relationship I could scrape together and just learn to live with it. I didn’t start to get the confidence, experience or skill that lead to where I am today until I was in my late 20s and early 30s. Some people don’t reach that level of confidence or maturity until their 40s or even 50s.

Furthermore, age ultimately has no bearing on the validity of one’s relationship, nor does it indicate some fundamental flaw for having waited for so long . Finding love for the first time in your 50s or 60s isn’t any more or less valid than in your teens or 20s; in fact, it can be all the sweeter for finding it after having looked for so long. Many of our early relationships fail because, frankly, we don’t have the maturity or life experience necessary for a long-term commitment; starting a relationship later in life can actually put you in a better position to make it work.

Sorry, your love is officially meaningless.

Sorry, your love is officially meaningless.

 

Consider The Demographics

Sometimes it’s less about you and more about the numbers. Where you live can stack the odds in your favor or against you.

One frequent issue that comes up with people having a hard time finding love – even over years or decades – is that they are often looking in the wrong places… literally. The demographics of where you live, work and spend the majority of your time can directly impact your love life. The vagaries of population size and regional culture can make it much harder to find a relationship; not every “type” is going to be evenly distributed and certain areas are going to be more likely to attract certain personalities. Larger cities tend to attract a more cosmopolitan population… but those people also tend to be less likely to be interested in settling down. Smaller towns tend to attract people who are more interested in raising a family. 

Even in larger population centers, not all cities are the same. Different regions have entirely different dating “markets”, for lack of a better term. Dallas, for example, was shaped by the mid-century oil boom and has a radically different culture and dominant personality type than the keep-it-weird folks who drift to Austin where the major industries are music, film production and computer technology. Savannah – with SCAD influencing its local culture – attracts an entirely different crowd than Athens and Macon. Do your hobbies and interests fall out of what people consider the cultural mainstream? Then you may need to consider a change of scenery. While exceptions obviously exist, if you’re looking for a fellow anime geek (for example), you’re much more likely to find them in a college town than Dog’s Ass, Nebraska.

Even the demographics within major population centers can vary drastically, which can affect your dating life. In New York City, women famously outnumber the men, 52.5% to 47.5%; small wonder women feel as though they have a hard time finding a date. Los Angeles, on the other hand has the opposite problem: there are 90,000 more single men than women. Gay men and women are more likely to find partners in San Francisco, Seattle or Boston – where the LGBT population makes up to 15% of the total – than they are in Little Rock or Amarillo. You’re going to find more single people in San Antonio than you are in Provo, Utah.

Yes, moving to a new city as a way of improving your odds of finding love can feel a little extreme. It’s a daunting and potentially expensive prospect and if you don’t have a job or social circle waiting for you when you arrive, it can be incredibly intimidating.

You have to ask yourself whether it’s worth the risk to reap the rewards.

Examine Your Standards

Sometimes it’s possible to ask for too much. One reason many people have a hard time finding a relationship is that, frankly, they’re too picky.

Don’t get me wrong: having standards is inherently a good thing. However, you can also have standards that are too high and too exacting. The more specific and stringent your standards are, the harder it will be to find someone who meets all of them. In fact, it’s entirely possible to price yourself right out of the dating market, metaphorically speaking. It’s good to want someone who’s, say, cultured, intelligent, ambitious and geeky.But if the only person that you’re willing to accept is a PhD candidate in political science who also sings bel canto opera and speaks fluent Elvish… well, they might be out there but you’re going to be looking for a needle in a haystack made of other needles.

But if you promise to subject yourself to her show, The Millionaire Matchmaker will try to find her for you. And yell at you. A lot.  (photo credit: DFree / Shutterstock.com)

But if you promise to subject yourself to her show, The Millionaire Matchmaker will try to find her for you in exchange for yelling at you. A lot.
(photo credit: DFree / Shutterstock.com)

The more exacting your standards, the smaller the dating pool you are limiting yourself to… possibly even to the point of impossibility. If you’re not willing to be flexible… well, you’re going to be spending a lot more time looking than you are finding. Put bluntly: the longer a list of “must haves” and deal breakers, the longer the list of reasons why you’re still single. One of the cold hard truths about relationships (if I may steal a line from my celebrity Patronus Dan Savage) is that settling down means settling for; nobody gets everything they want in a relationship. You get 70% or 80% and round it up; yeah, there will be things that it would be nice to have, but you have to admit that the what you do have still makes you damned happy.

The other problem with exacting standards is that sometimes what you want isn’t going to want you back. This is an issue that comes up over and over again. Whenever I ask people about their standards, I aways ask: why would this person like you? Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe in “leagues” per se, but if you’re going to insist on only wanting to date models or socialites, you’re going to have to be able to bring a lot to the table. Yes, Princess and Pauper romances do happen… but it’s not likely to happen to you if the majority of your free time is spent on Hardcore Domination matches in Black Ops 2 and fine dining is a trip to Ruby Tuesday.

One example of this dichotomy that stands out are guys who are looking for women to make up for a perceived lack in their lives. I’ve heard from staid, buttoned up men who want a woman who can shake up their lives and break them out of their shells. I’ve heard from men who want to make up for lost time, from men who want women to shake them out of their staid and dull routines and convince them to throw caution to the wind and seek adventure.

In short: they want the manic pixie dream girl. They may not recognize it consciously but the list of “Must-Haves” describes a young (and she’s always young) woman who’s insanely attractive, adventurous, free-spirited, quirky without actually being neurotic, energetic, with plenty of free time and low levels of commitment at work or to her social life in order to devote as much time as humanly possible to making his life better.

Even assuming that such a person exists and isn’t legitimately manic-depressive… you have to ask yourself: why would this person, realistically, want to be with you? If you take away the movie logic, why would someone who lives a life blissfully ignoring the more inconvenient social mores and living for the moment want to take up with a repressed, methodical homebody who doesn’t like to deviate from a fixed schedule? And for that matter: why would you want to date her? You may imagine a life of being shocked out of your shell (followed by sex marathons on every flat surface in your apartment and nearby parks) but in real life, she would drive you bugfuck crazy. There’s a reason why Katherine Hepburn is quirkily charming in Bringing Up Babyshe’s fictional. Five minutes with her (and dealing with the consequences of her actions) in the real world would have men fleeing for the nearest exit, leaving human-shaped smoke clouds behind.

Get A Second (or Third) Opinion

If you’re consistently having problems meeting someone it’s often a sign that you’re missing something – after all, in all of your dating adventures, the most common denominator is, well, you.

Sometimes it’s hard to have the level of self-awareness to identify issues that may be tripping you up; not everybody is going to be able to look at themselves coldly and dispassionately and being able to accurately measure their good points and bad points without artificially inflating one side or the other. Other times, it’s entirely possible to focus on the wrong area entirely; I’ve lost track of how many people thought that the key issue they needed to master was nailing cold approaches rather than dealing with their overweening sense of entitlement or a crippling lack of self-confidence that manifested as neediness. 

In times like these, it’s worth getting a second opinion. The problem comes, of course, in knowing who to go to. It doesn’t do you any good if you consult with friends or peers who only provide ass-pats and ego boosts. In fact, looking in the wrong places can give the wrong advice entirely; the Internet is full of echo-chambers3 of aggrieved men who insist that the problem is that women are status-seeking hypergamous bitches or that women have an obligation to consider men they don’t like.

Ideally you want someone who will be as objective as possible and helpful. Sometimes it’s a friend that you can trust to be honest, even if that honesty isn’t what you want to hear. Sometimes it’s an online community. Sometimes it’s a third-party who’s willing to help.

To bring it back to a personal example. Karen reached out to me because we were casual friends and she liked my advice4. She knew me well enough to feel comfortable but also distanced enough that she felt I could be unbiased and willing to give her the ugly truth if necessary, rather than just blowing smoke up her ass. And, critically, she was willing to listen. It doesn’t do any good to seek out an outsider’s opinion if you’re going to disregard what they have to say… whether it’s negative or positive. 

Find Your Satisfaction

Sometimes it’s possible that there just isn’t anything wrong; there’s no web of issues to untangle, no silver bullet to blow away the one lingering problem that’s coming between you and your future happiness. It’s entirely possible to do everything right and still not get anywhere. Sometimes it’s just random chance and bad luck. Life isn’t a fairy tale; the virtuous don’t always  get rewarded and the bad don’t always face justice. It’s not fair, but it’s life, and life isn’t fair. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

In cases like these, it’s hard to hear “just hang in there,” because you want answers damn it. You want love… and it’s totally reasonable to want it and to get frustrated when you feel like it’s denied to you, whether by chance or some elusive problem you believe exists. But – and this is the hard part – you have to be willing to take the long view and not let that frustration sour you and ultimately make things even harder. Wallowing in anger and jealousy will only make it harder in the long run… and ultimately you have to take the long view, because frankly, you don’t know what the future is going to bring.

In the end, the key to avoiding growing the callous on your soul that comes from bitterness and resentment is to find your satisfaction. Relationships are wonderful when they’re with the right person… but they can’t be your only source of validation or self-worth. They aren’t going to magically make your life better or transform you into someone you’re not. If you’re dissatisfied with your life, a relationship isn’t going to make it better. You don’t want a relationship to fix your life, you want one that’s going to compliment it, enhance it.

The best thing you can do is make a conscious decision to live a life that’s full and complete, one that brings you – if not joy, then satisfaction. You want a life with friends who fulfill you and a community you’re proud to be part of. It doesn’t have to be perfect – you may not love your job, for example – but it needs to be one that makes you feel whole… even if you are single for the rest of your life. 

This is ultimately what Karen chose… and it was the right choice for her. She ultimately decided to give up on dating for the foreseeable future and focus on other aspects of her life. She had a tight-knit group of friends, both in Manhattan proper and around the world via a geeky webforum. Her career was starting to take off and offering her exciting opportunities… in fact, a position opened in a London branch of her firm and she took it, pulling up stakes and moving out of the country.

Now I know that you’re expecting me to tell you that Karen met the man of her dreams in London and is living happily ever after. And as much as I would like to give this story a fairy-tale ending… well, that’s not really how life works, is it? The dating scene in London was different than in New York City but at this point Karen had more or less decided to take dating off the table and just take life as it came.

And quite honestly: this was the right decision for her.

The Truth About Being Forever Alone

I’ve mentioned this before but the cold hard truth of being “forever alone” is that some people do die without ever having found love… but you never know if you’re one of them until you die. None of us know which moment is going to be our last. You might be diagnosed with cancer, given six weeks to live and slip and fall in your bathroom the next morning. You might live until you’re 70, 80, 90 or even longer. You have no way of knowing what life is going to bring you. That’s part of the beauty and miracle of life: there is always hope.

I know how frustrating it can be. I’ve been there and I’ve seen friends go through it as well. It can seem absolutely maddening but the best thing, the hardest thing you can do is to keep living as bright and full a life as you can, no matter what and not letting the weight of all that discontent and disappointment eat away at you and leave you bitter and resentful… and as a result, chase away the opportunities that come to you in your life.

 

 

 

 

Oh, and one more thing.

A few years after I consulted with her on her dating issues, Karen came out to visit me in Austin. Afterwards, on a whim, she flew out to Arizona to meet with some friends from that web forum I mentioned. That’s where she met Jeremy in person for the first time. They’d been virtual friends for a while but they’d never met in the flesh. It was fun, flirty even but come on… she lived in London, he lived in Scottsdale. Just another case of things not working out for her.

That was two years ago.

Next week, I’m performing Karen’s wedding.

I didn't say it would be easy. I said it would be WORTH IT.

  1. Note: her name and identifying details have been changed for obvious reasons []
  2. Shockingly, one of the best exceptions out there involves Jack fucking Nicholson. Go figure. []
  3. Counting down to the snarky comments in 3… 2… 1… []
  4. Obligatory “Well there’s your problem…” []

Comments

  1. Oh you cheeky bastard with that ending :).

    But seriously, thanks for that Doc. It’s been weird for me lately after I ended a relationship that I thought was going to lead to marriage, while I feel everyone around me is getting engaged.

    But I’m feeling better now, I’ve just been hanging out with a new batch of friends in a nearby city. It’s now making me think to move up to this city with plenty of people my age once I find a job in the area. It’s always scary not knowing what comes next, but like you said: that’s the beauty of life

    • Ray Patterson says:

      I was entirely satisfied with the ending of Karen's story… until I got to the coda. Dr. nerdlove just got finished saying that sometimes there isn't a "fairy-tale ending", and that's ok. Then, he had to tack on a fairy-tale ending, effectively undermining the message.

      I'm happy for Karen that she's found satisfaction. I would have been just as happy for her if she'd found it alone.

      • Why do you call it a "fairy-tale ending" just because she got married? The fact that she lived in a completely different country from this guy when she met makes it pretty obvious that those two years between then and now were not exactly easy or stress-free, and quite possibly they're still having to make sacrifices to make this relationship work.

        • Ray Patterson says:

          Dr. nerdlove wrote:
          "Now I know that you’re expecting me to tell you that Karen met the man of her dreams in London and is living happily ever after. And as much as I would like to give this story a fairy-tale ending… well, that’s not really how life works, is it?"

          I'm using Dr. nerdlove's own term in this article for falling in love with someone and forming a relationship. Do you not think that the hypothetical relationship with the London gentleman would have also involved stress, sacrifice and work? I'm fairly certain all relationships require those.

          My point is that an ending where Karen didn't find romantic love, but did find personal happiness would have been just as satisfying and would not have undermined the point that dr. nerdlove had made earlier.

          • I think he was going for "even if you move all the way across the ocean, there's no guarantee you'll find love there… but you might find it somewhere else you're not even expecting, even if it requires some extra work to make it happen" (there's a lot more stress and sacrifice involved in making a long distance relationship work–especially one *that* long distance–than one where you both live in the same place), which would be "how life works" not "a fairy-tale ending". So I don't think it was actually undermining his point–just supporting a different point from "you can be happy even if you never find romantic love".

            But I agree that a story about someone who was happy despite still not having found love would quite possibly have been even more fitting.

          • eselle28 says:

            It sounds like she may have had to give up the London part of things, or spend much of her theoretical London time on the plane to Scottsdale. She's also presumably around 40 by now, and may have had to revise her idea of what her fairy tale marriage looks like.

            Part of the point of this article is that it's still possible to find love when you're older, and especially when you're older and a woman (there are lots of happy stories about nerddudes getting over their issues and finding sex or love or both on this site, so it's nice to read one about a woman for a change). That's message that contradicts popular culture and that I think many people need to hear. I think you can tell stories about people who do that without contradicting the message that you can build a happy life for yourself in the absence of a partner. There's room for stories about people who build happy single lives and just enjoy them and people who build happy single lives and then eventually add romantic love to the picture.

          • Ray Patterson says:

            Yes, the ending of the story does fulfill the idea that you can find love when you're older – certainly. It's unfortunate that this wasn't the point dr. nerdlove was making when he reintroduced Karen to the article. Karen's choice – to take dating off the table – "was the right decision for her".

            Dr. nerdlove implied that this would be an example of someone who had found happiness without romantic love. He then turned it around by revealing that she did find romantic love, anyway. It's too bad we don't have our example of an individual who found happiness alone.

          • eselle28 says:

            But taking dating off the table was the right choice for her. It sounds like she did it for a few years and based her life around other things. That doesn't necessarily have to be a permanent decision, and I think it's useful to see someone who did that while it worked for her and then went back to dating when it felt right.

            I guess I also wasn't really expecting this article to end in someone finding happiness alone. When Karen was initially introduced, the Doctor gave her the advice to "hold on" and the rest of the article was about how people can find love later in life and about ways that people can tweak their lives to make it more likely they'll find it. There's only one section about not everyone finding a happy ending, and it's followed by a reminder that you don't know if you'll be one of those people who dies alone until you die. To me, that was pretty much a set up for Karen eventually finding someone. There's a place for stories about people finding happiness alone, but does it necessarily have to be this article?

            This might be something I'm just feeling a little sensitive about, but this is the first time in a long time a story (rather than a letter seeking advice) has featured a woman having trouble dating rather than a man, and a couple of people have criticized it for having a relatively happy ending. Do the stories about nerd guys finding love get this kind of response? There are lots, at least, about how the Doctor got past his many issues with dating and then went on to have success both in finding casual sex and committed romantic love.

          • That's a super good point. On top of it being ridiculous that people are criticizing a *real life story* for not having a narrative-appropriate ending, it does seem weird that the idea of a woman overcoming Forever Alone is not what people want to read about.

          • Alberich says:

            I think you're right on the money, Ray. So, let me be your example. I decided to no longer pursue dating pretty soon after I turned 30. I turned 36 this week, and I feel happier and more fulfilled than ever. In my 20s, I almost couldn't imagine feeling this way, and thought the stress and fear and loneliness would always weigh me down. I'd never have a relationship. I'd never be in love.

            It wasn't easy, and it wasn't overnight, but I've managed to let all that go. Most of the time. There are still some nights when I'd like company and some days that I'd like to share. Those times are seldom now, when they used to be every day and night.

            "Giving up" on love doesn't mean giving up on happiness.

  2. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    I'm divorced, with kids. I'm not optimistic about meeting anyone, and having kids makes it much harder, but at least I'm no longer worried about being "Forever Alone."

    • You should change your name to WiseBrownSquirrel. : )

    • Don't despair on the kid front Mr. Squirrel. I know that having kids may lessen the amount of time or energy you have for dating, but the fact that you have kids is seen as a real benefit by some women. I'm in my late 30's and have had various conversations with my girlfriends lately about the fact that many of us want to be parents even though we may not want (or be able) to have our own biological kids. I also had this convo with a male friend of mine in his 40's who only dated single moms because he didn't want to start from scratch in his mid 40's. There are a number of men and women out there who would love to fall in love with a great single parent.

  3. I think you're avoiding the reality that for many women there is a certain expiration date if they want to have kids with a partner or don't want to be a particularly old parent. For some reason, when I mention this to my male friends, they scoff at me like I'm crazy for even considering that is something women think about. Women have a disproportionate amount of pressure placed on them to get married and have kids while they are still young(ish). A huge amount of the guys I meet have said they do not want to ever have kids, biological or not. Under my kind of feminism, these dudes would feel the same overwhelming societal pressure I do to partner up and reproduce.

    Unfortunately, some of these cities are kind of your only location option depending on your career. If you want to work in film, you pretty much have to be in LA. If you want to work in government or national politics, you're in DC. I'm completely unconvinced that I'll ever meet someone I like enough to be in a relationship with, and that he'll like me as well. But then again, I'm a horrible pessimistic. I'd like to be more optimistic, but that will probably never happen.

    • I'm fairly certain the correct response to inequality is not "let's make things worse for EVERYBODY".

      Pressuring people to partner up and reproduce (men do get this too, just not to the same extent) is just a rather silly version of nosiness. Reproductive choices are no one else's business. That tendency should not be indulged.

      • Anonyleast says:

        Anecdotes are not data, but I am a guy and one of the things my grandmother said to me on her deathbed was to ask why I hadn't found a nice girl and married her.

    • Gentleman Horndog says:

      Pessimism is the mother of all self-fulfilling prophecies. When somebody has the attitude that things between you are surely doomed and that they cannot possibly find what they're looking for, I advocate trusting their judgment and looking elsewhere for romantic connections.

      • hobbesian says:

        I disagree, I feel pessimism is the natural response to stuff never working out the way you want it to work out. Not the other way around.

        My thoughts cannot impact the world around me, but the world around me can impact my thoughts.

        • Your thoughts can impact the way you act, which can impact the world around you and what kind of experiences you get out of it – not *control*, but impact. Sure, thinking isn't magic, sometimes crappy stuff will happen no matter what you think or how you act; this is not an encouragement for victim-blaming.

          But given that there are aspect a person can affect and ones they can't, I think that on a personal level it makes sense to concentrate on the ones you can instead of focusing on the things you can't and shaking your fist uselessly at the sky.

          • hobbesian says:

            You're effectively saying that people can subconsciously mind-read what I'm thinking based just on how I'm acting… You do realize how preposterous that sounds?

          • No, I was saying that what you think affects how you act – people respond to your actions, but the actions were based on your thoughts. Your attitude changes the choices you make.

            Of course, people do also quite often give off subconscious cues to their thoughts through subtle, unintentional actions such as micro-expressions and body language. and feelings, and others can pick those up either consciously or subconsciously – . I wouldn't think this is a particularly controversial statement; haven't you ever been able to tell when someone was lying or nervous?

          • Robjection says:

            You ever heard the saying "Actions speak louder than words"?

          • hobbesian says:

            Yeah I've heard that phrase, but I don't think it applies here. That's specifically referring to the action of "Acting" in a situation rather than simply talking about the situation. EG. bombing Belgrade rather than just asking the Serbians to kindly quit killing all those Bosnians.

            And no, I'm pretty well unable to tell when someone is lying or nervous. I wish I could tell when people were lying.. it would be a great help and help keep me from getting hurt nearly as often as I do.

          • But you do know that people do have subtle differences in things like facial expression and body language that allow many people to tell things about them that they're not intentionally revealing, like if they might be lying or things about their mood, right?

            That's part of what people are talking about when they say that your attitude can come through when you're interacting with people, not some supernatural thing. It's not always obvious or clear, and some people are better at it than others but it's definitely something that affects how people relate to each other.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'm aware they do allegedly, but I've yet to actually notice any of them. Maybe that's the problem.. I spend my time thinking about important stuff rather than how someone is holding their mouth..

          • It's not something people think about consciously, it's just something that registers along with the words that they're saying. I'm not quite sure why you're so scornful of this – you yourself just mentioned how much it would benefit you to be better at it.

            Even if it's not something you see in interactions, it can be useful to keep in mind that many other people do, and that those cues you're giving out can have a big impact on how you come across to them.

          • More important stuff like… how much it's going to suck to be over 40, because you'll have lost some of your good looks?

            If you talk in as patronizing a way to people in person as you often do to us online, I'm not at all surprised you've had trouble with dating.

          • hobbesian says:

            well, important stuff like, when is North Korea going to start World War 3.. will we discover how to make Tokamak Reactors produce more than they consume.. that sort of thing..

          • eselle28 says:

            I guess the point is that you spend a lot of time talking about other things, like why you can't read people's facial expressions, too. All of us do, but the claim that you don't do this because your mind is occupied with higher thoughts is a little disingenuous.

          • Are you denying that you also think about totally superficial stuff like your good looks? Because there's proof that you do so right here in this thread. :P

            I'm not sure why worrying about how many lines you'll have on your face twelve years from now or whether you'll be losing some hair would be more "important" than taking note of other people's expressions to get an idea of how they're feeling when you're interacting with them. It's not as if other people are so consumed by analyzing facial expressions they can't manage to also think about North Korea or nuclear reactors or whathaveyou.

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't consider looks to be superficial.. since they are extremely important when making first impressions, or even in arranging the meeting to get to make said first impression.

          • And noticing other people's feelings are not important to making a good first impression, or being able to relate to people and carry on engaging conversations with them, etc.? I'm pretty sure that being able to pick up on someone's mood is *hugely* useful in socializing.

            And by the way, I don't think you understand what "superficial" means. It doesn't mean "serves no purpose". It means "concerned only with the surface level". An impression based on how you look is a surface level impression. So yes, a superficial concern can help you with superficial impressions. That doesn't make it less superficial.

          • a.Aren't first impressions pretty much the definition of superficial?

            and b. being able to respond to people's expressions are also extremely important when making first impressions.

          • I get the distinct impression of Asperger Syndrome rather than callousness. Especially in relation to the facial expression thing.

          • That is nowhere near important, since the chance of North Korea actually starting a war is about as probable as me winning the lottery. They've been posturing for 60 years, and will continue to follow their tried-and-true (and ridiculous) method of idle threats.

            Good news for you, eh? More time to move onto figuring out facial expressions.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'd still rather think about North Korea to be honest.

          • eselle28 says:

            Then just say, "I don't want to," and deal with whatever the effects of not wanting to are. No point in trying to claim you don't have time for something or that there are more important concerns and opening it up for argument.

          • hobbesian, please. All summed up your input here adds up to: "Everyone is much less intelligent than me, I'm the only one keeping it REAL. Why won't anyone like me despite the fact that I consider cultivating good relationships with my surroundings too much work. That's so superficial."

            This is the attitude shooting you in the foot, here and probably also in real life. You need to get over yourself in regard to other people. There are no "magical connections", neither in love nor friendship, you need to build a relationship and seem sympathetic to people. Interpreting body language and social cues and acting accordingly is a good way to go about it. Getting hanged up on all the ways that might flunk and acting accordingly is not.

            Addressing the "giving up values", it seems you see "you" as a static concept. DNL has a couple of articles on how being unable to adapt to your surroundings just might be the big character flaw shooting you in the foot. Good day.

          • "when is North Korea going to start World War 3"

            Never. Now you have space to think about more uplifting stuff.

          • *headdesk*

            This is the sort of thing I regularly hear from programmer or engineer types who have been working the same low-level job for 10 years and are continually confused and complaining about why they don't have a promotion or a girlfriend. It's a sign of low emotional intelligence.

            Paying attention to people's facial expressions and body language is what tells me when an interviewer is feeling rapport with me and appreciating what I'm telling them (gets me the jobs I want).

            It tells me when an audience is bored versus when they're excited about what I'm saying (gets me the funding I want).

            It tells me when my superiors actually value and appreciate what I'm doing, or aren't convinced (gets me the projects/raises I want).

            It tells me when people are interested in what I'm saying or bored by it (gets me the friends I want).

            It tells me when a guy is friendly versus predatory (gets me the physical safety I want).

            It tells me when a guy is listening to what I'm saying because he's interested in me as a person, versus when he's purely physically attracted to me and just pretending to be interested (got me the significant other I wanted, and helped me avoid awkwardness with guys I didn't want any sexual contact with).

            So even assuming you're borderline autistic and don't care about people for their own sakes, being able to read them and respond appropriately/shift your behavior/build rapport is probably the single most important factor in getting what you want out of life. It's by far the most important skill I have both personally and professionally (the fact that I can write, program, schedule, budget, and design well is secondary — I never would have gotten chances to show off those skills if I didn't have people skills).

            The idea that it isn't important is absurd.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'm not "Borderline Autistic" where the hell did this idea suddenly come from.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            from your severe lack of interest in what other peoples' body language is telling you about them. people who have borderline autism (such as Aspbergers) often find reading other people extremely difficult (and often don't initially understand why it is important). You are exhibiting these same characteristics.

          • A point: borderline autistic – or in fact actually autistic – isn't the same thing as not caring about people. I'm autistic myself and very much interested in people, and pretty sick of the lack of empathy stereotype/misconception.

            Being autistic *does* frequently cause the sort of difficulty parsing body language and nonverbal communication hobbesian has been talking about – it's really not something everyone can just learn. Believe me, I put a hell of a lot of work into figuring out nonverbal communication, I now spend so much energy trying to pick up and parse cues in social situations and make sure the cues I'm sending out are neurotypical-appropriate that I can't afford to invest any more, but I still can't consistently tell the difference between most of the things you mention. It's caused major problems in the past (telling whether a guy is being friendly versus predatory, I could cry…) and I expect it to do so in the future, but I'll have to take that as it comes because it's not something I can do anything about.

          • Good point. To clarify, I think the problem people are finding with Hobbesian's attitude is not that he has trouble reading non-verbal cues, but he seems to consider them valueless because he doesn't care about peoples' reactions, and seems to even question whether they actually provide any useful information to other people.

            There are of course a great many people, autistic spectrum and not, who have trouble with non-verbal cues who are lovely, caring people.

          • Honestly, a lot of hobbesian's comments about body language remind me quite a bit of what I've seen other autistic people say on occasion. When everyone around you is informing you that body language is this omg super-important thing that people can't possibly do without and totally easy to learn – except that you yourself can barely tell it exists and are never going to be able to learn it up to NT standards, and trying to is really difficult and a huge energy-drain – it's easy to get resentful and wonder why the hell other people can't change to accommodate you for once instead of vice versa. (I'm pretty sure I've complained about why people can't just tell the truth myself when I was trying to get to grips with the concept of lying as a teenager, for instance). I can even understand the impulse to say that working based off nonverbal cues is superficial and not being able to parse them makes one superior as a sort of defensive backlash. And I have to admit some of the comments here set my teeth on edge too.

            That said, just because I understand that sort of attitude doesn't mean I *condone* it. Complaining about how unfair the state of the world is and how you wish it were unfair in your favour for once can be cathartic (note: this is best done in private to understanding friends…), but it's not a productive state of mind and lingering in it will probably only make you bitter and unhappy. At some point, you're going to have to deal with the world as it is. And I am really not okay with the claim that certain autistic traits make you superior to people who don't have them even when I understand the feelings that give rise to that. Nobody can help their neurotype, and nobody is inferior because of it.

            There's also definitely work-arounds even if you have serious difficulties with nonverbal language; I admit reading Delafina's comment left me feeling really depressed at first, but then I started thinking about how I try to manage these situations despite not having the skills she does. I do quite a bit by rote, for instance – since I can only tell when people are bored by me when it's *really* obvious, I instead tried to develop a feeling for what sort of topics of conversation people tend to be interested in, how long to spend on one before it starts being seen as inappropriate, and taught myself to leave room for other people to speak, not interrupt, and go along with subject changes. All this helps to stave off the dreaded Autistic Monologue (TM). I also try to appear friendly, cheerful and enthusiastic, because I know that people tend to be more interested in what you're saying if it's clear that *you* are and it's easier for me to adjust my own presentation than to read other people's cues. Plus, I mostly hang out in circles where quite a few people aren't that socially adept (e.g. right now I'm doing a PhD in maths and most of my social circle is mathematicians) which means the occasional misstep isn't as obvious. So there *are* things you can do to try and minimise the impact of body language difficulties without investing tremendous amounts of energy into trying to read facial expressions, but you're unlikely to find them if you're stuck on why body language has to be seen as important in the first place.

          • I should add that these work-arounds are personal; they might not work for other people with these difficulties, or some other people might be able to do things I can't, and some might find that even this sort of thing is too difficult and energy-consumptive to manage. I just wanted to poke at the "learn body language or bust" dichotomy that was present in the discussion.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            Inability to read facial expressions is characteristic of Asperger syndrome. I'm inclined to cut you some slack, since I suspect this is something that's simply harder for you than it is for most people, but it's something that can be learned, and I think your life would get better if you put some effort into learning it rather than dismissing it out-of-hand.

          • hobbesian says:

            Woah there, that's an awfully big label to attach to me.. I've never been diagnosed with anything like that. I simply am only one step above being a wild boy raised by wolves because I've never had many friends or social experiences. I learned VERY early on that social experiences lead to people not talking to me at school for reasons that I was never quite clear on.

            But if we're going to talk about this, being picked last for team sports is also data that can be correlated with future earning potential.

          • You know, I really don't know what to make of you. Just the other day in the forums you were saying something how you have lots of friends who quite like you in real life. I'm not sure how you can say all these different things unless some of the time you are lying or at least fudging the truth just so you can argue with people.

            Not saying OBS was right to try to give you a clinical label, just, if you're trying to have an honest discussion, exaggeration is not really helpful. (And if you're not trying to have an honest discussion, why are you here?)

          • hobbesian says:

            It varies from day to day how I feel about my friends. They so often don't follow through with things they say they are going to do and I begin to doubt them.

            I currently have around 4ish friends.. that I know I can actually trust.. with maybe that many who I'm still on the fence about. For me, 8 friends is something of a record. Considering I went years in school with none.

          • Having four friends you know you can trust is a *lot*. Lots of people don't have more than one or two close friends.

            Why is it so hard for you to appreciate what you have? Because you clearly do have things that are of value.

          • hobbesian says:

            Not appreciating what I have, and wanting more, is kind of the basis of the entire western mindset.. Protestant work ethic, capitalism, manifest destiny, and all that.

            The difference is, I'm also jealous as a dragon when it comes to guarding my hoard. I will not sacrifice even the merest trifling ring even if it meant it had the chance to net me another hoard.

          • So basically you're justifying your dismissal of the good things you have in your life because that's "the entire western mindset"? Why are other people capable of appreciating what they have, then? It's obviously not impossible.

            And that justification is particularly ridiculous coming from someone who spends half his time snarking about how pathetic you find people who mindlessly follow popular culture and societal norms to be. So these "values" that you're so concerned about not compromising are actually not yours but just something imposed on you by the "western mindset"? Why are you so keen to stick by them, then?

          • hobbesian says:

            There is a big difference between traditional values and consumption of reality tv and pop culture..

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            oh? and what would that be? How is mindlessly following one set of popular values defined in the last ~80 years (the so-called "Western Mindset") different from mindlessly following another set of popular values defined in the last 80 years (in media)? The point is you are following mindlessly, and then mocking those who do the same.

            Of course, now that you are enlightened as to your mindless following of values that have led you to be unappreciative of those who are truly valuable, you are going to eschew those useless values and take on new ones in order to make yourself a stronger, better human being, right? After all, part of the freedom we have as humans is to be able to slough off old traditions and values that are outdated and harmful.

          • hobbesian says:

            Which traditions per say are "Outdated and harmful"?

          • The ones that say that only men can work and women have to raise children? The ones that say anyone who doesn't fit a strict normality scheme must be shunned? The ones that encourage victim blaming and hide abuse?

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Or going out and meeting people rather than staying home to play video games. Attitudes determine actions.

        • Your thoughts can color your perception of the world around you, which can change the way you act, which has a tangible effect on the world around you.

          You can't see the future any more than an optimist can. You will be much less happy then they are though. The world may not be doing anything to help you, but it is not out to get you.

        • I find it odd that people seem to think pessimism = giving up. Pessimism is preparing for the worst case scenario. I don't believe I'll ever have a long term partner, so I prepare for a life where I am self-sufficient. I am slowly learning the things I need to so I can continue living alone, and I prepare for a financial future where I am single for a long period of time. In a few years, I'll probably start looking into options for having kids alone. That doesn't mean I don't go out and I don't date. I probably date more than my optimistic friends who are sure that it's only a matter of time before Prince Charming arrives at their doorstep. I have seen too many of friends sure that it's only a matter of time end up alone and unprepared to deal with that reality.

          If I stocked my basement full of food and survival gear for an upcoming hurricane, no one would call me a pessimist.

    • Under my kind of feminism, no one would feel societal pressure to partner up or reproduce if they don't want to. I'm pretty confident than there are enough people who want to that we could still keep the species going ;)

    • The Doctor does gloss over this, doesn't he. Though, I would argue that men do feel the ticking biological clock – I've talked to several male friends in their 30s who fear becoming an older parent and complain that all the women in their dating age range are already married off. It's not as pervasive a pressure on them as it is for women, but it's there.

      As for me, I'm a woman, 90% determined to be childfree. The other 10% is the guilt that I should be passing my excellent genes down into the world thanks to Idiocracy-induced fears. The really stupid part of this is that I'm 25. I still have time left on my clock, and yet I keep feeling this low-level but pervasive anxiety that I'll somehow change my mind when I'm 30 and wind up pushing out disabled children or something. But I have about 0 affinity with children. But it's a shame that my parents won't have grandchildren. And so on. Blargh.

    • CaseyXavier says:

      What about women who DON'T want children and have never had a ticking bio clock? Many of my female friends do not want children, and are happily bucking the pressure to have kids. I'm 30, and my major worry is finding a guy who's both loyal and 'family-oriented' whose idea of family is just me, him, and maybe an awesome dog or two. In my area there are usually family-oriented guys (the few of them) who want children, and the non-children-having guys who just want to party all the time into their 30s and 40s (and 50s). Guys who are both homey and relationshippy but don't want kids are rare enough, thanks! The idea of the vast majority of men feeling overwhelming societal pressure to settle down and have children horrifies me.

      • Don't worry, that middle ground guy does exist.

      • I feel like I meet tons of those guys. Maybe it's the circles I swim in. And they are great amazing guys. I would jump at the opportunity to be in a serious relationship if they weren't so set on no kids. All the guys I meet who want kids are boring and conservative.

  4. Glad things worked out for Karen.

    If you aren't happy on your own you are very unlikely to be happy with someone else. Relationships are not therapy.

    Moxie of "and that's why you're single" has also written very eloquently on the fear of Forever Alone, and how it's fundamentally irrational (so, amusingly enough, have a number of PUA blogs, arguing against the cultural myth that settling down is some kind of necessary always-desirable norm).

    The desperate search to find "The Right Person" is very often completely counterproductive, and the more desperate it becomes the more counterproductive it is. The more content you are with your life, the more likely you are that high quality people will be interested in joining in. Life is something you live for yourself; it's a ship you sail and other people can come board if that's mutually agreeable. If not, who cares?

    • fakely_mctest says:

      "If you aren't happy on your own you are very unlikely to be happy with someone else. Relationships are not therapy."

      A billion times this. I'll add that, intentional or not, it's pretty cruel to your partner to enter a relationship with this mindset. In my experience, having ended up in the therapist role in way too many relationships: setting up a partnership this way can create an ongoing imbalance where one person has all the problems and the other person is the designated problem-solver. A healthy relationship should be mutually supportive.

      Times when I was having a rough go of it in these past relationships? The other person was nowhere to be found/couldn't be bothered. And because it was such a shaky way to establish a connection, when they did get a handle on their problems I was left feeling at a loss because I couldn't imagine what else I could bring to the table apart from problem-solving, mood-elevating strategies.

      • Yes the partner-as-therapist role is confirmed awful. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. Never going back.

    • In the words of RuPaul Charles "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love anyone else?"

    • So much this. There are a couple guys I know who are intelligent, well-dressed, creative, witty…and absolutely, crushingly, desperate. Romantic histories consist of a string of crazies whom they fell for because they were grabbing onto whatever they could find, which did nothing for their self-esteems when the relationships ended. So far I haven't had the heart to sit them down and tell them bluntly, "You're not going to find Princess Peach in this castle, the way you are now. You're going to have to work on being happy with yourself first and most importantly, stop reeking that desperation so strongly that even *I* can smell it from over here."

  5. Gentleman Horndog says:

    There's an angle you haven't considered, Doc: kids. If having children is a priority but you're pushing 40 and haven't met the right person, you may need to let that go. And depending on how big a part that was of the life you imagined for yourself, that can really suck.

    That is, of course, a bit beyond your normal purview; this blog is about finding relationships, not establishing families. But given that one is generally viewed as a prerequisite for the other, it's worth acknowledging that in this case, age-related concerns are legit and not just cultural baggage.

    • StarlightArcher says:

      It's a very interesting paradox we've created for ourselves, isn't it? From a biological stand point, you really should reproduce when you're younger (ie- healthier). However, due to the nature of our culture (education, finances, etc) most people aren't always best equiped to actually care for their offspring when they're young. To me it seems that if you have to wait till you're "past your prime" physically but really want to be a parent, then adoption should be seriously considered as the best option.

      • To be honest I think the culture of endless education is entirely artificial and has little validity beyond satisfying the arbitrary requirements of corrupt licensing cartels. I speak as someone regrettably sucked into the process myself in order to pursue the career I want. But luckily if all goes to plan I'll be done by my mid-twenties and have emerged with minimal debt.

        That is very fortunate; many people get whacked with brutal debt levels and the process takes far longer.

        Hopefully this process will reverse itself over time and career paths will begin to follow more sane trends, so people can start earning younger and beginning families younger.

        • Or, you know, sometimes people fall in love with subjects and decide to get advanced degrees. It's not all ~being slaves to the sheep filled educational-industrial complex~

    • My solution is to try to raise my earning power enough that I can afford to be a single mother (software programmer, so I hope I have a shot?) It isn't the ideal solution, but if 37 comes creeping up on me, at least I could have that option.

    • Your advice is sad but true.

    • If you have a stable income and situation, you can always choose to have children on your own if that is important to you. There are over one hundred thousand children ready for adoption in the United States. Surrogacy and sperm donation are viable in many areas. I understand that many people want the whole package – white picket fence, two kids, and a spouse – and not simply one piece of it alone, but if having children is a big deal to you, you can do that on your own.

      • And chances are pretty high that even if you find a spouse and get married to start the process, you'll finish it alone.

    • jenfullmoon says:

      I like that the Doctor admits that yeah, some people may not find someone until late or never. But…that applies to kids too. Some people are never, ever going to have a spouse and their own biological children because well, I guess God doesn't want 'em to or whatever. Some people will have to resort to adoption, surrogacy, IVF, or stepkids because they just weren't meant to have love at the proper biological time. But…again, not everyone's gonna get what they want.

      I don't even want kids, as some other folks here don't, but you still do kind of feel that pressure to catch a man before you expire, somehow.

    • You know, I had a somewhat morbid but interesting thought about this.

      Thing is, you can be a young parent and still get hit by a bus and die tomorrow. Likewise you could have kids at 45 or 50 and live for another 60 years.

      Notwithstanding the health concerns associated with having kids later in life (and the research suggests the burden of this applies equally to men and women, perhaps even moreso to men).

    • >> If having children is a priority but you're pushing 40 and haven't met the right person, you may need to let that go.<<

      I'm sure legendary Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese is happy his wife book editor Helen Morris never read that. She successfully had their first child at age 56.

      Francesca Scorsese is healthy, non-autistic and a big fan of EDM pop music and film, among other things.

      You never know.

  6. "Forever Alone" is a bit of an insult to friends, family and that random bloke on the train whom you had a great convo with but will likely never see again in your life. There's no relationship(be it romantic, familial or bro-esque) in which people share 100% of each other's lives. Heck, I'd even argue that there isn't really a constant, intrinsic self to share with them. Does this mean one should go all Gendo and consider all these interactions meaningless and superficial?

    Heck no. It makes everything meaningful. That great convo probably will be forgotten in half a year, but who cares? It makes you happy now. And a happy moment like it has just as much validity as all the ones you would share with the ideal soulmate. This is what makes it really, really hard for me to even conceive of a situation in which one is truly alone.

    • WarriorGoddess81 says:

      This is my FAVORITE response to this article. I'm with you, 100% Everything happens for a reason, we never are really alone, and we can find love and happiness and fulfillment in tons of sources outside of romantic love. I kinda feel like if we make a conscious effort to be happy and optimistic and physically/emotionally/mentally/spiritually healthy then we experience love constantly, and the potential for romance and passion would only sweeten the already scrumptious pot.

      • Actually, most things don’t happen for a reason. The universe is innately random.

        • This is a good point: there are a lot of people who think that it's not possible for them to take that kind of joy in life because they don't believe that everything has an inherent purpose.

          But I think it's totally possible to take happiness in the moment and seek fulfillment in many different sources without believing in an innate purpose to everything. In my view, the response to the universe being random is not despair, but holy shit, look at all this cool, complex stuff that's going on ALL the freakin' time, totally at random! It's kind of awesome! I kind of like Camus' ideas on the absurd for this (though I can't stand his actual books!)

          • The Plague is I think one of the most strangely uplifting books I have ever read.

          • I found it one of the most strangely boring books I'd ever read. :P Like I said, I like his philosophy, but not so much his writing…

          • Yup, exactly. Also, there’s something kinda insulting about the whole “everything happens for a reason” thing when people say it to you when shit is not going well in your life. As in, “oh so you think I deserve this suffering?”

          • CaseyXavier says:

            This is exactly the reason why I hate that saying. I feel it's pithy and rather tone-deaf as well; how does one say something like this right to the faces of those who've lost homes, children, parents, limbs, etc. in horrific accidents, disasters, or attacks, without realising what a clod they sound like? The recipient would be well-justified in throttling the speaker.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            Voltaire's "Candide" is all about this.

          • x_Sanguine_8 says:

            Why do you assume that if everything happens for a reason, and someone is suffering, that the reason for the suffering is that the person deserved it somehow? There could be other reasons besides punishment for suffering.

          • even if that suffering leads to positive outcomes later, that saying is utterly unhelpful while the person is suffering. Sometimes people suffer and there is no positive outcome at the end. Sometimes a person's suffering leads to something positive happening to someone else. That doesn't matter, because when you tell a person that everything happens for a reason you are being a completely unempathetic clod to the other person. It's shitty, unhelpful, and no one should do it, whether a reason exists or not, mentioning that to a person who is suffering does absolutely nothing to alleviate the present suffering.

          • That's only if you're a sufficiently unempathetic clod to be insencere about it. Especially coming from religion or somesuch, ascribing deeper purpose to suffering is immensely helpful emotionally, and in many cases you can share that.

          • I disagree profoundly. I've had a person who had strong religious convictions say that to me quite sincerely, and I found it hurtful and insulting. I don't think I've talked to her since.

            If someone who shares your religious beliefs comes to you looking for advice on the meaning of their suffering? Sure. But you shouldn't assume that others either find religious perspectives in general helpful or will agree with that particular one, and the grieving process is not the right time to take chances on those things.

        • I agree, and, for me, that's all the more reason to appreciate the situation. If a moment is truly random, then better enjoy it while it lasts.

          Unless it's a bad situation. Then you can appreciate…not dying? Presuming you're not dead, and have the ability to appreciate things.

          • Well, for a bad thing, you can know that it's not something personal the universe is doing to you or a sign that you're a bad person, just one of those things that happens sometimes. That seems like a good thing to me.

          • Unfriendlyghost says:

            Yup, I was a lot happier once I accepted that the universe owes me nothing and doesn't give a monkeys what happens to me. The less entitlement you have in your life, the better.

  7. Temeraire says:

    Just a quick request – could the articles about couples include some pictures of queer couples? This site has a pretty broad readership, and not everybody is straight!

  8. Thanks for this article. One of my big issues is that besides not having a girlfriend is that I’m left out of the casual sex loop. I’m just not a good fit for the community in terms of what I’m looking for and quite frankly, I’m not really the type of person that gets selected for casual sex. This leaves me really frustrated.

    • "gets selected for casual sex"

      You say this like it's a raffle.

      • It’s not a raffle but there is a certain type of person that attracts casual sex more than others. They tend to have flashy, outgoing personalities. I’m not that person. I’m small and relatively fit, friendly but not that charming. I really would have no idea how to get casual sex either.

        • This is so false. The doc talked about it too. Women want to have casuals sex with men who they think will make it worthwhile for them. All of my casual sex partners (10+) have been a bit reserved but friendly, and exuded *kindness* not flash. Your issue might be that you exude desperation, which women pick up on and it sleeves them out, as well as makes them feel unsafe.

          • I think I don't come across as remotely sexual to women at all, either in a flashy, suave way or in a desperate way. As I mentioned I dance as a hobby. I've looked around at the dance floor and seen women give men looks that I never got. Women my age or younger tend to treat me as a friend or sibling, somebody they can trust not to be a creep. Women who are older than me treat me maternally.

            On dates I may or may not come across as desperate, I really can't say. I make serious attempts not to act desperate. Women certainly don't treat me as desperate. If I come across as desperate, its becaue I am desperate. Its like trying to tell a hungry person not to act hungry.

          • Desperate for what? Sex?

          • A bit yes, I'd like some non-platonic physical affection that involves another. Kissing, romantic hugs, making out, whatever.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            I have that problem of coming off as asexual, too. Most people refer to it as being stand-offish. When someone out it that way to me it became pretty obvious what I was doing and how it was taken that way.

          • Trust I don't come off as stand-offish, I'm very friendly in real life. Its just that women rarely seem to see me as a sexual being.

      • Meyer N Gaines says:

        Right, all of us FAs were social losers in high school and are losers now. We need your pickup artistry to save us from a lifetime of celibacy!

        Look, we don't care about what you're selling us, so leave us be.

        • …Who are you talking to? I don't see anyone in the comment thread you're replying to trying to "sell" pickup artistry.

          • Robjection says:

            It looks like he replied to Max's comment about making it sound like a raffle. Not that this explains where he got the idea of him selling anything to us from.

          • Yeah, looking at the thread it appears that's the comment his was after… I am just bewildered as to how Meyer's response has anything to do with it. :P It's so random I was wondering if maybe he meant to reply to a different thread or something.

    • Have you tried the casual sex Craigslist listings? It works for lots of people.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        Perhaps it's different in other cities, but in Pittsburgh, the Craigslist casual W4M ads are a hellish wasteland of spambots. (Last I checked, at least, which was a few years ago.) I wouldn't recommend Craigslist to a straight male friend unless he confided in me he that he gets turned-on by shitty porn site ad copy, or by failure and frustration.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          I get the impression that many of the escorts have migrated to w4m.

        • I’ve been successful with them before…

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I'd be curious to know how the guys responding to your ad found it. Has Craigslist improved since I was last there? Is your city less spamtastic? Did those guys have a good way of sorting out the fakes? Was it a successful counterspam campaign where they sent identical charming messages to everybody who looked appealing?

          • hobbesian says:

            It's entirely spam bots and scams here. I won't post on craigslist looking for free dirt for my garden, let alone for casual sex.

          • I've had a lot of success with Craigslist, albeit not looking for casual sex. My past two apartments were both found there, and my couch is from there, and the ridesharing section was really useful.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Now you have me imagining what Craigslist would be like if other sections were like the blighted W4M area. Responses to apartment ads would probably be something like….

            "Hey, sexxxy! I've got SUCH an apartment for you! It's so warm and clean, you'll want it all for yourself as soon as you see it! Unfortunately, at the moment I'm too busy to schedule a time for you to visit, but if you come over to my site at http://www.naughtyyoungapartments.com/locationslut6969, you'll be able to chat with me and look at all the pictures of it you want! You won't BELIEVE the views — it'll be the best $4.99 you've ever spent!"

          • hobbesian says:

            seems legit.

          • eselle28 says:

            In certain cities, that is what the apartment section looks like! It's full of brokers who list large, lovely places at reasonable rates. When you call, you find out that unit has mysteriously rented, but there are a bunch of freakishly overpriced studios in fringe neighborhoods that they'd love to show you. Either that or they want your email address, and while you never hear from them again, you get a huge increase in the amount of spam you receive.

          • thesurfmonkey says:

            Things I've found on Craigslist (4 different cities at various times): a job, an apartment, a date, a car, a casual sex hookup, a friend, a person to buy something, a writers group, a guy to meet up with in Vegas.

            One city in which I posted in the W4M casual section, every ad I posted got flagged down as spam within an hour, despite the fact that I was genuinely attempting to find a hookup. (I did manage to, but it was so tremendously annoying to have the ads removed like that.)

            Given my experiences with the casual W4M ads, I certainly got the impression that the vast majority of the initial responses sent were cut and paste identical charming messages sent to every ad in hopes of getting lucky. The ones that succeeded in charming me, I replied.

            That said, one of my personal pet peeves of guys using Craigslist (or any similar thing online) is the endless variation on "proving you're real". I felt personally insulted every time I saw that.

          • Thereal McCoy says:

            I usually won't answer an ad where someone wants me to prove I am real (no, I'm your imaginary friend. my how you have grown.) especially b/c in my town they all want the intersection where you like, as though spammers in India don't know how to use Google maps. If they ask me later, I get snarky, which usually it drives them away. I'm actually ok with that. I'm tired of it to the point that next time somebody says that to me, I am going to say "Prove you aren't going to roofie me." As the person taking on 99% of the physical risk in this meetup, I don't feel that I have to prove shit.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            "That said, one of my personal pet peeves of guys using Craigslist (or any similar thing online) is the endless variation on "proving you're real". I felt personally insulted every time I saw that."

            It's backlash. When every woman who looks appealing is actually — surprise! — some asshole who thinks you're such a moron that paying to see some dirty pics on a low-rent porn site is somehow going to get you laid, it's not easy to stay chipper.

            Which is no excuse for spreading the insults, of course. But living on the other side of the monitor from you, I get where they're coming from.

          • thesurfmonkey says:

            Yeah, it's not that I don't get where they're coming from, but I've still never felt particularly inclined to spend time with someone who started out our interaction by insulting me. A bitter or angry or anti-woman attitude is so often correlated with someone who's potentially dangerous to meet in person that it would be insane of any woman to respond well to those traits. And yes, to me anyway, the "prove you're real" attitude comes across as bitter, angry, and anti-woman.

            Also, the notion that it's backlash is an interesting one. Is it backlash against me, the individual woman posting a real individual ad? Or is it backlash against the spammers, but somehow you're saying it's appropriate for the anti-spammer frustration to be taken out on the real live individual woman posting a real ad? The attitude that I should be punished for something that someone else did is another one I would consider a serious red flag that would keep me from wanting to meet someone.

          • I think anyone with half a brain can tell the difference between spam and a real person. Look at sentence structure and content. It's really not that hard. Also, post an ad of your own.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I used to think that, too. I had a set of heuristics I'd use, and sentence structure and content were only part of it. I was also looking for specificity — was there something in there that ONLY could have come from my city, and not just a general message that could apply to any city?

            I found several ads that fit that description, and responded to them.

            Spam. Every last one.

          • first of all, post your own ad.

            second of all, tell me your city, and I will link you to non-spam ads

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I have no particular desire to use it at the moment; OKC is doing just fine.

            It would be more useful to describe HOW to find the non-spam ads. Back when I was trying to use Craigslist to meet women, the signal to noise ratio was so ghastly that I ruled it out as a viable tool after a week. Yes, many are obvious. But many aren't.

          • I can't describe the difference. I think ads with real people sound like a real person talking and not an ad.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I apologize for my relentless negativity on this topic, but: Tried that. Didn't work. I answered ads I was absolutely convinced had to be written by a real live person living in my area, and was shocked when they responded back with a link to a pay site.

            Again, maybe it's better where you live, maybe it's gotten better since I last tried. But my experience makes me regard Craigslist as an option of last resort when trying to meet people.

          • thesurfmonkey says:

            I think the way you'd know if an ad was non-spam is if you replied to it and didn't get a response. Of course, that doesn't help your actual situation if you're trying to meet up with someone.

          • This. A lot of men think that if you don't get a response, then it's spam, whereas it's just a woman who is uninterested.

      • Some how I think that "short, slight, hairy man with little experience" is going to be a great success.

        • How about "slim, fit, attractive man who loves dancing and cultural activities?" Those are all things you've said before.

  9. The other issue is one of time. The real big advantage of being in a relationship when your young, especially if you don’t really have to worry about money, is time. Your life probably has less commitments and you could devote more time to being in a relationship. When your older, work and the other realities of life can consume a lot of time and you can’t really put things off.

    Another issue is kids. I want to be a father eventually but I’d like to be in a relationship without kids for awhile rather than having to rush to have them because of fertility issues or because we don’t want to be older parents. It’s not really a good idea to have kids after 40 IMO. I really do not want to raise another man’s kids. I want my own blood children.

    • Your sperm is still good after 40, don't worry.

      I think your view of youthful relationships is somewhat idealistic. Yes we may have fewer commitments but we also have less independence and less money. These things bring their own set of stresses.

      I can only afford to live with my girlfriend next year because I'm very fortunate. A friend of mine has been living at home for a good 4 years now after graduating while working full-time at his dream (but lamentably ill-paid) awesome job, while trying to do his PhD part-time, all the while saving money so he can buy a flat with the girlfriend whom he eventually plans to marry (when they can afford that). That's the typical reality for a lot of people. Yes, they may not be under any pressure to have kids, but this quite conventional situation definitely comes with other heavy burdens.

      • Yes! This! Most of the time, youthful dating is trying to figure out how to date while poor and finding places where to have sex. It sounds fun, but it’s not. I can’t wait till I’m stabler and have money and have a guy who is also stable, and we can have a nice stable relationship where we can go out to dinner and have sex on coordinated sheets. Seriously this is my fantasy right now.

        • Married people, oh my god, so annoying! ;)

          I mean my god, do they not realize how many opportunities they have to have sex that I would kill for? They have access to each other more or less seven days a week, for the most part. They don't, for the most part, have to worry about their mother and little sister overhearing. Grrr.

          So tilting…;)

          • I know! Right! It must be so horrible to have that!

            This is why I don’t understand commitmentphobia. Please tell how you’d rather attempt to sleep around than have someone you get along with that wants to have sex with you on the regular.

          • Because sleeping around has its own set of charms, especially if you luck into a good social situation? It can be a rush, it's an enormous ego boost, and you get to have nice friends plus sex. Also, not everybody takes to monogamy easily.

            I've done both the long-term committed living together thing, and also the sleeping around thing. I've been happy doing both. Let's not generalize here.

          • I'm not talking about people who are non-monogamous. I'm talking about people who will essentially avoid commitment, yet are unable to sleep around either. Whether it's childhood divorce trauma or fear of opening up to someone, they are perpetually afraid of committing to a person, even if they like them.

          • Well, in that case, I think you already answered your own question. Past trauma and mental baggage aren't things you can just get over – and since it's rarely rational, you can't just reason yourself out of it.

          • … like I said, I don't understand it. I've been used and hurt and dumped and all other bad things that other people can inflict on you. And yes, it's normal to be guarded, but I'm constantly surprised how many people will refuse to call a relationship a relationship, as if that label is legally binding. It's kinda ridiculous. Blah blah blah empathy blah blah, but I really don't have the patience for it anymore. It's like "grow the bleep up already!"

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            …until you have kids, at which point you go back to no longer have any privacy.

          • Sex on the coordinated sheets = huge plus! Trying to coordinate enough nights where you both still have energy after all the kids have gone to sleep = huge challenge. It's a trade off, but I like it.

      • fakely_mctest says:

        "I think your view of youthful relationships is somewhat idealistic. Yes we may have fewer commitments but we also have less independence and less money. These things bring their own set of stresses."

        Not to mention that young people are more likely to be jerks to each other because they're still trying to get the hang of "How to Relationship." Not to say that this doesn't happen with older people, but time and maturity count for a lot, in my experience (even if you haven't dated a lot of people!). People get better with their boundaries; they get better at dealing with/accepting the foibles of others; they get better at expressing what they're feeling and what they want. I remember my early 20s relationships as being equal parts insecurity, lust, and feeling like I had no earthly idea what I was doing or how I was supposed to act beyond "don't be clingy."

        • As college days continue to recede behind me, I keep having these thankful thoughts that I don't have to deal with college boys anymore. :) The people I'm getting involved with now are SO much easier to communicate and negotiate boundaries with. And everybody is less likely to be fazed by life-related craziness.

      • My sperm is still good a forty but other aspects of me aren't necessarily going to be. Also, its not necessarily fair to kids to saddle them with a parent in decline while they are still young.

        I realize that my description of youthful relationships might be a tad idealistic, thats why I added the economic qualifier.

        • Oh, come on "in decline"?

          With good diet and lifestyle you are perfectly fine to have a kid at 40 and older. There is nothing wrong with that at all. My mother had her last child (no. 6!) at that age and my father was 47.

          We don't live in a world where your body at 40 is likely to be shattered from years of backbreaking labour in a coal mine, luckily enough.

          • hobbesian says:

            Quite a lot of people still consider 40 to be 'Old'.. Me included. I view my life as basically over at 45. Anything that comes after that is just taking up hobbies and waiting for the end.

          • eselle28 says:

            What about life at 27 or 37 is valuable that can't still be pursued at 47?

            I stress about aging sometimes because it seems like there is a point where it becomes rather difficult to change careers or relocate, but it doesn't seem like there's anything so horrible about life in general at those ages.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            I feel like I'm in a social holding pattern until my kids go off to college. It's not so much that I feel old now as that I'm thinking about the age I'll be once I'll be able to have a social life again, and *that's* old, and that recognition makes me feel like I'm that much closer to that age already.

          • hobbesian says:

            1, being attractive gets exponentially more difficult with every year you age. I'm personally lucky in the fact that I don't look nearly as old as I really am.

            2, being able to be spontaneous diminishes considerably once you begin establishing root systems wherever you are, which by that point in time I should have long since accomplished or else, I'm a failure. That is to say, Marriage, Mortgage, 2 cars, 2 kids, a dog, and a membership to the local YMCA pool should they be wanted.

            3, there are simply things which are unseemly for a 47 year old to do but are okay for a 27 year old to do.. though really even that seems to be frowned on.

            I don't have to justify my opinions to you beyond this.. I simply see the world differently from you. I consider the period after 45 to be a nebulous space of 'Old' which I would rather never face. But this is primarily because my parents waited until they were nearly 40 to have me, so I never even got to know them when they were.. well.. fun… and not.. old.

          • My mom also had me when she was perilously close to what you consider "old," but I don't think of her as old, even now. "Old" is not merely chronology. She acts more vibrant and youthful than some people half her age.

            Also, I have a hard time thinking of anything that's fine for a 27-year-old but not for a 47-year-old. If you want to do something–and it is legal, ethical, and feasible for you to do so–then do it! I still read books written for children or teenagers, and I haven't been one in years. I've seen people with gray hair riding roller coasters. My mom got remarried in her late 50s, and she was every bit as twitterpated as a college student when she and her husband started dating. Life doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) all downhill past 30.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "Also, I have a hard time thinking of anything that's fine for a 27-year-old but not for a 47-year-old."

            Under the standard creepiness rule, dating a 21-year-old would qualify.
            http://xkcd.com/314/

          • I did think of that, and almost added it in, but I figured it might derail things. But yes, it is almost always a stupendously bad idea to be trying to date someone less than half your age. Doing so is also unlikely to meet the "legal, ethical, and feasible" disclaimer. Certainly not feasible in most cases, anyway. I don't know any college students who want to date middle-aged people, or any well-adjusted middle agers who want to date twentysomethings.

          • hobbesian says:

            See, I suppose I consider anything over that age old because my parents haven't been in great health and I've had to deal with that. So I just associate "Old" with 'Poor health'.

          • Trooper6 says:

            You know, some people are old and no fun at the age of 20, and I know lots and lots of people who are healthy and fun and young at 40+.

            I mean I am 40, and I'm young and fun and in good health, many of my peers are as well.

            The whole world is not your parents.

          • This whole conversation is also creeping into a really ableist place. Being "unhealthy" is not the end of the world, hobbesian. If it is for you, you suck.

          • That's just the panopticon talking, bb.

          • Are you kidding? I am so excited about retirement (40 years from now….) Last year, I visited my grandparents down in Arizona. They live in an exclusive "trailer park," only for seniors. I say trailer park because, while they are trailers, they are incredibly nice ones, with fun decorations and styles…. miniature houses, in fact. Everybody drives golf carts and they go sit by the pool every morning or do crafts and have "sock bops" and Block Parties every week. Frankly, it seemed just like college, except with older people, and no homework/classes.

            Obviously money helps to have such an experience when you're older, but if I have the money to afford such a thing, retirement seems like a blast!

          • hobbesian says:

            yeah, that's great. I'd rather have Fun now while I'm young and then drop dead rather than be old.

            Logan's Run must have been an awesome world to live in…

          • *Rolls eyes* Talk about being pessimistic. On your timeline, you've got…. what, 15, 20 years tops to find love, have "5-10" of romantic adventure, have kids, and get a steady career going. No wonder you're so desperate. Wouldn't it be so much easier to expand your thinking and consider if maybe, *just maybe*, life doesn't end at 45?

            You remind me of a kid I supervised when I worked at a youth treatment facility who, at 16, told me he was going to kill himself once he hit 30 because by then he'd be "ugly" and life would be over. Pretty ridiculous, eh?

          • hobbesian says:

            Actually that was my plan until life kept fucking everything up and delaying stuff… I don't see it as being that bad of a plan personally.

          • What is WRONG with you?? Are you trolling? I don't want to believe there are actually people out there as ridiculous as this.

          • No, it is a bad plan. It is a terrible, terrible plan. People get old. They still do stuff when they're old. That's how life works. You can't have a plan that entirely hinges around half of your life not existing, because according to you, "old" is over forty.

          • hobbesian says:

            If I've managed to make it to 45 and failed at achieving everything I wanted to achieve.. I see no reason to continue when 1) I've missed all the deadlines, 2) all the evidence is pointing towards continued failings. I don't believe in grey areas.

          • Please contact a therapist or counselor. Please. There are also chat rooms and lines if you'd prefer one of those; I can pull up a list. I know distant thoughts of suicide can seem like they're not serious, but they are. Making contracts where you have to check off all the boxes on some list in order to be worthy of living are dangerous. I understand that people have wronged you and things in your life are messed up, but there are people who can help you get a clearer picture about your life and I think it would be good if you sought out one of those people.

          • Why not push those deadlines until you're on your death bed? At that point, if you fucked up, not gonna matter much longer.

            Disclaimer: I think there are way, way better ways to look at life. But this could be one that works for hobbesian.

          • Yeah I'd seek therapy right away. These are not healthy reasonable thoughts.

          • hobbesian says:

            I suppose you're welcome to your opinion.

          • Not my opinion. The thoughts you are conveying are objectively neither healthy nor reasonable.

          • hobbesian says:

            and on what authority are you basing this statement?

          • I don't know what qualifications Max has, but I've been trained in recognizing depression and potential suicide victims as a volunteer counselor, support group supervisor, and childcare worker. I find the things you have said about what makes you worthwhile as a person extremely concerning and disconcerting, and I genuinely think finding someone you can talk to about these feelings in your real life would be extremely beneficial.

          • hobbesian says:

            I really don't think it would be fair to bore some poor shrink half to death with my existentialist lovecraftian theories of the general uncaringness of the universe.. I appreciate the concern but I honestly don't think it would help.

          • That's what therapists are there for – to listen to you no matter what and to help you. They don't mind. If you aren't a good fit for the first therapist you try (each has their specialities), they can always recommend someone who might be able to better help you. Going into it wanting to change and feel better certainly helps, but even if you're dubious and skeptical, it can be worthwhile. Therapists can be extremely helpful for bouncing ideas off of and getting second opinions about what you've been thinking.

          • hobbesian says:

            But that's just it, I don't feel bad at all. I'm just lonely. Talking about how the universe is enormous and uncaring isn't going to make it less so, just as talking about wanting a companion to help me navigate said universe isn't going to get me said companion.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            If the universe doesn't care about us then all that matters is what we care about. Things don't mean anything until we give them meaning. If you've decided something is meaningles, it is. . . Because you made it that way.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "and then drop dead rather than be old."
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=594WLzzb3JI

            Keith Moon got his wish, though Pete and Roger have both lived to be rather long in the tooth.

          • hobbesian says:

            Yup. Sadly Roger and Pete are both obnoxious old duffers who need to pack it in… maybe they can convince Mick and the boys to do the same.

            I tried to watch Zeppelin's Celebration day and jesus was that depressing..

          • There's a retirement community that was just built next door to my office. We were invited to an open house after it was completed and some of the residents moved in, and frankly, I almost wanted to move in, too! They had a movie theater, a gym with a pool and sauna, book clubs and knitting clubs, and all kinds of fun-looking stuff. I thought the same as Marty, that it was almost like college for old people, with activities to join and your friends right down the hall.

          • Honestly, living in such a community would be hell on earth for me. Its like living on cruise ship and my entire family hates cruises.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            If there are private rooms, it might not be so bad. Sit in your room all day if you like. Emerge for meals.

          • Play video games! Roam TVTropes to your heart's content! You literally get to spend 90% of your time doing whatever the heck you are capable of. I am saving money and exercising NOW, because retirement sounds friggin great!

          • I'm kind of hoping that by the time I retire, there will be Geek retirement communities where there's a weekly LARP (ok, I've never done that, but it sound fun) in the common room every week and a room where we can all congregate to play old video games and complain how the new ones just aren't up to par anymore.

          • hobbesian says:

            It is fun, and you should do it.

          • I think it really depends on the circumstances. If your in relatively good health and good condition financially than being a senior citizen isn't so bad. It could be pretty fun if you know what your doing. If your health or finances aren't so good, well than you have the same problems as younger people in poor health and finances.

          • My mom started ultramarathoning at 45. She had five kids, starting at 32. She started travelling internationally alone at age 55. It'll be a lot more years before I'm as awesome as her, and honestly, I'm somewhat offended by the idea that she isn't having a hell of a lot more fun than you are despite (because of) being twice your age.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Quite a lot of people under 30, that is.

    • As for the time thing: you need to decide what's important in your life. If it's incredibly important to you that when you have a relationship to have plenty of free time to spend with your partner, then you need to make that time. Beyond college age, I'm not sure there are any parts of life that necessarily consume time other than work. Everything else would be things that you control. You need to make the choices that make you happy, and do the things that make you happy. Once you're an adult and no longer living on someone else's dime, you have all the power to make that happen.

      As for having kids and being a father of your own blood children, there are many arguments (and orphans) against that being a need. But if it's important to you, then you need to find someone else who shares your ideas on that specific topic. That would be one standard that you don't lower or change.

      Also, if I may, it seems like you're equal parts wanting to prepare for the future with your job and thinking about kids and wanting a care-free relationship. I don't remember how old you are (I wanna say mid-/late-twenties?), but you have time for both of those things. So maybe focus on one now, and the other later. But, either be flexible with that choice, or be prepared to sacrifice whatever you put off.

    • StarlightArcher says:

      "I really do not want to raise another man's kids. I want my own blood children."

      I guess I just don't understand this mindset. Why is this idea so abhorent? How are the offspring of some other person not still in need of love? I remember vividly what I was like as a child, and I wouldn't raise a little me. Not for all the fairy dust in Neverland!

      • Part of it is about not wanting to enter into a relationship with children already in the picture. As I mentioned before, I want at least a couple or a few years that are relatively carefree. You can't really do this if children are in the picture, unless your dating a person whose neglectful of his or her children, which isn't somebody I'd want to date. The other issue is I want my own children.

        • StarlightArcher says:

          There's a guy on the internet, you may have heard of him, named Wil Wheton. He talks fairly openly about the experience of marrying a single mom and raising her kids (he even formally adopted one of them). He is the first and loudest one to say that even though they weren't from him, those kids are *his* kids.

          He also talks quite a lot about how now that both those kids are grown and out of the house, he and his wife (in their 40s) can go have their newly wed/honeymood period. Bonus points, they have the money to spend on all that fun stuff they wouldn't have been able to when they were first together. Just because it doesn't happen sequentially doesn't mean you can't have the *dream*

          • I can appreciate that story and I know lots of people who have formed great relationships where one partner is a single parent and the other isn't, but I don't think it's something that can be recommended universally. The prospect of a honeymoon period in ten or fifteen years isn't going to hold much appeal to someone who's just forming a relationship, and I think that for things to work, both partners have to be relatively satisfied with the relationship with kids as it is now.

          • StarlightArcher says:

            True, it's an ideal situation, but the way I see it, it's also there to show that "yes Virginia it can happen that way". I'm child-free, so I too don't see the appeal in dating a person who already has children. But I read things like this and know that if I love the person, it could be worth changing my expectations and have a situation as wonderful as Mr Wheton had.

            I guess the main crux of my argument is that I don't understand the need to have children by growing them inside myself, especially when there are so many waiting for loving families. But again, this is colored by my desire to be child-free, so really it's just my lense on life and what the hell do I know.

          • I think there are a couple of things going on in the desire to meet someone who doesn't have children and then to have a biological child with that person. The first is the desire for biological rather than adopted children. I'm also childfree and don't understand the impulse either, but I can acknowledge that lots of other people have it and that it's important to them.

            The second is for there to be some kind of courtship period that matches those of your peers, and not the substantially altered one that seems to be necessary when someone has regular custody of a small child. I can identify with that one, and after having tried it a couple of times, am not willing to make any further attempts. Some people can adjust to that situation for the right person and for some people's lifestyles, I suspect it's a better fit than standard dating might be. Other people might find it hard to even develop the right kind of attachment when the choice is between only seeing each other very occasionally and spending a lot of time together doing child-friendly activities and not having much one-on-one time.

          • This for the second paragraph.

          • I agree with the second as well. You can't really have spontaneous trips or even plans when there are children around, and you are never first priority (or second or third sometimes). I can deal with coming second occasionally, but not all the time.

          • I realize that I'm not going to be at the center of my theoretical girlfriend's universe 100% of the time and it actually be quite scary if I was. I would like to feel that I'm at the center of her life or her first priority at least some of the time and this isn't really possible if there is a kid in the picture. Any sort of spontaneity is also impossible even for something like a walk in the park or even around the block let alone something more complex like a weekend gettaway. Spontaneous trips or activities are something that I'm really looking forward to.

          • eselle28 says:

            My other big issue was that you're basically dealing with a group of people who've known each other a long time, care about each other a lot, already have their established way of doing things, and want to make sure they get those activities in during the limited time they have together. I'd be willing to give up some amount of spontaneity, but it was much harder for me to deal with always being the extra who was tagging along on things picked out by other people, or with being seen as the fun ruiner if I suggested anything different.

          • Thats a good point. Very few people really like being a third wheel. I'm sure that nobody likes being a third wheel with their boyfriend or girlfriend. If your dating a single-parent, you have a good chance of feeling this way more often than not.

          • I'm also childfree, but if I were to ever change my mind, I've got this mess of guilt and expectations in the back of my mind pressuring me to have at least one kid out of my own body. Mostly they have to do with genetics and heritage – I do have great genes and I almost feel like it's my duty to put them out into the world. It's not quite rational, but there it is.

            So I can understand why someone would want to have biological children (though to me it's a bit more disingenuous when a man says it because HE'S not going to have to carry those children he wants).

            On the other hand, the stigma against adopted children is stupid, and I wish we could break free of what essentially boils down to the middle-ages mentality about bloodlines and heirs.

          • How is it more disingeous for a man to want to have his own children? Being a good father is a big responsibility. Its a responsibility that I eventually want but I want it to be for my own children. I fail to see how disingenuous this is.

          • Because when you say you want your "own" children, you are still talking about putting them into someone else's body? I know fatherhood is a big responsibility, but surely you've been around on this site long enough to know that biologically, culturally, socially, women still bear the biggest onus and responsibility for children no matter how egalitarian you try to make your relationship. It's very laudable to try, don't get me wrong, you should still do that – but even then, at bare minimum you are still talking about making someone else spend 9 months with the swollen ankles, hormonal changes, and risk of bodily harm.

          • That's just how the world works at the moment – unless you wish to donate money to science to develop artificial wombs. Which, frankly, should be funded way more.

          • Yes, I know that women are the ones who carry the children during pregnancy and bear the main responsibility for rasising the kids. That doesn't mean its disingeous for me to want my own.

          • hobbesian says:

            My main thing is, I wouldn't even go on a date with someone who has children.. so it would therefore be impossible to love a person enough to change my views.. I did date and nearly marry someone who couldn't actually have children.. but that was something I found out after I'd already really started to like her. It's much easier to to not mention that, than it is to mention that you have an 8 year old at home.

            In regards to kids.. I'm not 100% sure I want them, I simply want to know I have the ability to have them. I'm happy for people who adopt, as was said earlier, those kids need love also, but I'm not interested in doing that unless I cannot for some reason have kids of my own should me and my partner choose to do so. It's not financial, it's simply that I know myself well enough to know, I'll always have it in the back of my mind "Those are not *My* children". The main problem is that I want a period of 5-10 years with just me and my partner before we have kids.. which basically means I'm stuck looking for a partner in her early 20's, even though I'm much more likely to find one in her early 30's. 5-10 years with a 30 year old woman and suddenly the ability to have kids is basically gone… it adds far more pressure to finances and to the whole "we need to make up our minds right now!" thing.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "My main thing is, I wouldn't even go on a date with someone who has children."

            As someone with kids, I'm coming to terms with the reality that nearly everyone who doesn't have kids feels the same way you do. I don't really see much point in asking anyone out unless they also have kids. The other problem is that I'm old enough that some people my age with kids already have empty nests, and they're available for honeymoon periods now, whereas I put off having kids for a long time, and it's going to be a long time before I'm in that situation again.

          • hobbesian says:

            I definitely don't want to come across as being dismissive towards people who are single parents, It's just that at the moment it isn't something i'm ready to tackle.. I really want to have that period of time when you and your partner are the focus of each other's attentions with no huge interruptions. Work and School already are there.. kids would just be to much.

            On the other hand I know a 21 year old guy who's started dating a 22 year old single mom and they seem to be getting along famously.. he loves her little girl and it all seems to be working out.. though I'm sure the fact she lives with her parents and thus has access to endless babysitting on evenings helps..

          • BritterSweet says:

            I'd feel hesitant to date a parent, but for a different reason. I like children, and would like to have some of my own someday, whether biological or adopted. If I start dating a dad, I may become attached to the kids (possibly even more than to the dad himself!) So if the relationship between me and John Doe doesn't go well, my attachment to his kids could impair my judgment.

          • This is coming from a very different perspective, but why in the world would you want 5-10 years without kids?? I mean, that's a HUGE chunk of time, even for a guy in his mid-20's… you really don't want to start having kids until you're 35? You want to be chasing after 8 years olds when you're hitting middle age? Or getting ready for retirement at the same time you're worrying about sending them to college? And you're really going to stick so closely to your time line that even at 35, you'll be trying to score with girls who are in their early 20's?

            I can understand wanting a few years of childless fun, but having been in relationships that were 6 months-3 years, after a certain time mark, you really do get bored with the status quo and kind of want to move onto the next level. Even if you did find a woman in her early 20's, I'm not sure you'd have an easy time convincing her to not want kids for another 10 years.

            PS: I've heard the same advice from every single parent I've ever encountered: "You are NEVER financially ready for kids. The best you can do is be decently good at budgeting, and then pray."

          • I'm like this. I would want a good chunk of time with my partner before having kids. To travel and have fun and enjoy each other.

          • Again, maybe I'm weird and it is significant that I want kids sooner rather than later, but… how much time do you really need to do those things, ya know? A good 3-4 years seems like a decent chunk of time. But maybe I also say this because I frankly will never have the money for big trips anyway, and I came from a family where my parents frequently went camping on weekends once I (the older child) was in my mid-teens.

            My mother said her 40's were the happiest time of her life and where she got to do the most stuff… we kids were old enough to fend for ourselves, but could also have fun with our parents, and my parents were finally financially comfortable enough but not "too old" to take trips. She says if we kids had been any younger, or if they had tried to take trips when they were older, it wouldn't have worked because of the bad cross-over with my parents' decline in health. (They have to take a camper instead of sleeping in a tent now, for example.)

          • I get it. I don't know, I guess I want to have a partner for more than just reproduction. I want time with just them for a while before kids start taking over our lives. Honestly, I don't even know if I want kids at all. The prospect of just being with a partner and being in love and spending our lives together is enough for me. Also, the career change I am undertaking is going to take me 8+ years by the time I would have more disposable income and time. So, if I meet someone by then, I would like to spend that time and money with that person. Again, this is just how I feel. I don't see kids as a requirement for me.

          • As someone with no interest in kids (and who has yet to find the childless status quo boring!), I'm not crazy about the idea of treating it as a level thing.

            I think how common it is to find a woman in her early 20s who doesn't want kids for a long time depends a lot on area and social group – in the crowds I run with, anyone having kids under 27 or so would have practically been treated as a teen mom!

          • Seconded. I have to check myself because I often notice myself giving early 20-somethings with kids the side-eye. Like, what are you doing?

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            I generally assume it's a religious thing. If you marry young and start popping out kids immediately, it means you're doing what the church teaches regarding contraception and abortion, and you're perceived as being righteous. If you put off having kids, you're obviously using contraception (or worse, abortion) and are damned.

          • eselle28 says:

            Sometimes. It can be a purely cultural issue, though. A lot of people have children in their early 20s where I live, and most of them will use birth control or get sterilized after the second or third child. Their picture of their 20s always involved young married couples having small children, and that's when their friends started having kids for the most part. People who waited longer were the odd people out, so there weren't a lot of social reasons to delay things, and most people's professional ambitions were on track by then as well.

          • It's not always that. In the case of my high school classmates, it's that they really didn't have any other prospects. A lot of them couldn't afford or couldn't get into college…. they're stuck in a small town, working a manufacturing or retail job, with very little prospects of anything else. Why NOT get married and start having kids? In their experience, their 19 is rather equivalent to my 25 (when I got my first "adult," 40-hour a week in a professional capacity job.)

          • hobbesian says:

            Honestly I don't want to chase after kids at all. I want to have them yes, but raising them is best left to the help, I'd like to see them for maybe an hour in the evening. < This is a joke.

            well at the moment my financial situation is so screwed it's more along the lines of "Can I afford to eat the whole packet of Ramen Noodles tonight, or should I save part of it for tomorrow?" And it's effectively been that way for my entire 20's.

          • jenfullmoon says:

            This may be an example of "too picky" here, perhaps. Having this rigid timeline thing going on just doesn't really work with actual life.

          • Oh, I'm not thinking in terms of five or ten years. More like three or four years. Maybe one or two years before marriage and one or two years after marriage.

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            My main thing is, I wouldn't even go on a date with someone who has children..

            Who exactly would you go on a date with? I really haven't seen you define much of anything in terms of what you do want, only what you don't want.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'll know it when I see it. It's about the most honest answer I can give you.

          • I'd actually happily adopt, and choose the whole "grow them inside me" thing purely for financial reasons. Adoption is ridiculous expensive, unless you happen to be married to one of the parents. I as a single woman just don't have that kind of dough to adopt, whereas semen is relatively cheap. (If I turn out to be infertile, I'm not gonna bother with IVF and all that.)

            I'm not open to dating people with children now, but I think by the time I'm in my 30's it'll be less of a deal-breaker and more of a preference, because that is around the time when I myself would want to have kids. I do worry about the horror stories I hear of blending families, but if the person was awesome enough at that time of my life, I'd probably consider it.

          • I think I would prefer to adopt. So that I could do it later in life. I don't want kids anytime soon, I want to actually enjoy my youth. :-P

          • Eh, I think you gotta be careful about that phrase, "enjoying youth." It all depends on what your priorities are. Frankly, I don't enjoy the idea of having to wake up 4-5 times a night and survive on 4 hours of sleep while chasing a bunch of munchkins when I'm in my late 30's…. it's something that would be far easier in my mid to late 20's. (Probably even easier in my late teens, early 20's where I did frequent all-nighters without ill effects, but I was way too irresponsible to take care of little kids on a daily basis.)

            I'd much rather spend my youth on the young, and then "enjoy" my old age with sleeping and non back-problems!

          • See above comment, and also, when I say enjoying my youth, I mean I don't want to finally have alone time with my partner when my estrogen is at a record low and I can't even slick up for him. I am still able to pull all-nighters and do reckless things, which would be harder with osteoporosis and the fear of breaking a hip. Like I mentioned before, kids are just not a priority for me. If it happens, it happens. I refuse to have kids until I'm financially stable and in a committed relationship, age notwithstanding. I am OCD about birth control, and have no qualms with terminating a pregnancy even if I'm 30+ (abortion is not just for teenagers!) in the case of epic BC failure.

          • Look, I'm not talking down to people for whom kids are a priority. It just isn't for me, and if I find love, I want to be able to enjoy it, because that and my career are my priorities for the foreseeable future.

          • I know you're not trying to talk down, but saying things like "I want to enjoy love" IS kind of talking down, because it assumes people with kids can't "enjoy love." You can say for YOU…. that you would have a hard time "enjoying it" with kids around, but I think there are plenty of people who can do both, who can both have kids and enjoy love.

          • eselle28 says:

            I think it's just a difference in how people picture their future relationships. Some people's ideal of love involves one-on-one time with the other person, without there being any next level. Some people's is very focused on the idea of building things together, whether it be raising a child or starting a business, and think that brings people closer together rather than displacing the one on one time. Some people want some of the first followed by some of the second.

          • Yes. This. There is also different types of "building". I would enjoy having dogs with my partner. And getting a house and working on it. Seeing the world together. Not everything is about kids. I want to be able to wander around the Louvre with my partner for hours without a cranky 5 year old whining that he/she is hungry. If my definition of travel was family cruises and Disneyworld (nothing wrong with it, just not much new to gain). You can't drag even most teenagers to ancient ruins without having to deal with whining or complaining (I know because I was that teenager, and I remember how many perfectly good trips I ruined for my parents).

          • It can be done, my parents did it with me.

            Art museums were the only thing where they had to deal with whining, everything else (including other types of museums) I was totally happy as long as I could play music in the car. Well, I admit, I did whine about being hungry if not fed very regularly, but I still do that now, so I don't think it's fair to put that down as a kid thing :)

            That said, I sure as hell wouldn't do it, but I don't want kids. World travel/cultural activities with kids is not for everyone, for sure, just wanted to point out that it's not an impossibility.

          • eselle28 says:

            I adored museums of all sorts when I was a child and a teenager, and I was always a good traveler. But I'm not really sure that's a difference in parenting. Sometimes I think kids just have their own personalities and tastes – sometimes ones that match up well with the parents and sometimes ones that don't. I think that from an ethical point of view, people should at least be prepared to deal with the prospect of getting a kid who's very different from them and who's not necessarily going to be on board with whatever adventures they have in mind.

          • Yeah, I don't know if it's a parenting thing, a personality thing or a combo, didn't mean to suggest that it was.

            But I do think there are lots of in-between alternatives beyond family cruises and Disneyland for families whose kids won't put up with a museum – I think most kids can find entertainment from a fairly wide variety of things, so if the parents have the resources to do other things (those are often the cheapest alternatives for families with kids) and the energy and willingness to make sure their kids are having fun too, being a parent doesn't have to mean being doomed to a lifetime of Disneyland.

            But definitely, someone who wants to be free to travel at an adult pace and see stuff that kids might not enjoy should think about that before having kids. Not trying to talk anyone into kids, here! :)

          • Oh, I loved traveling with my parents, but I was a bossy little biddy. We would see the stuff *I* wanted to see, no more no less. As a teen, I would constantly try to abandon them in foreign lands because I wanted to experience things on my own and interact with local culture by myself. Knowing me, I would probably raise a difficult little twat just like myself.

          • I am saying it for myself. I just spent this whole week babysitting a 2 year old. Do you know how much time you get to yourself when you're around a 2 year old? The answer is none. I think all of my comments have been about me, and how I feel about kids and partnerships for myself. I've babysat/nannied part time for most of my life, and a bunch of my friends have kids ranging from 9mos to 18 years. So, for me, I know how easily I become exhausted with them, even with older ones. You were the one who mentioned your inability to understand why people would put off having kids for so long, and I explained why I would choose to do so.

            My parents had me when my mom was 23 and dad was 25. but they had the support of 3 grandparents and my great grandpa nearby. They are now in their 50s, and they are just starting to enjoy their life, because kids are expensive, well beyond 18 years of age.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            "Do you know how much time you get to yourself when you're around a 2 year old? The answer is none."

            Well, they do sleep, but you're best advised at those times to follow their example if you can.

          • hobbesian says:

            Exactly.. that's what I've been trying to do for the last 10 years, enjoy my youth, unfortunately women haven't been cooperating, neither have jobs, school, cars, housing, the stock market, or the government.

          • The government is somehow destroying your youthful fun? Really?

          • hobbesian says:

            Yes, by downsizing my job. I used to work for them you see, and made fairly good money doing so.

          • This nicely some up my views on the matter. I know that delayed gratification is supposed to be good for you and everything but there are limits to how long I'm willing to delay my gratification. Waiting for your honeymoon period might not be bad if you were in previous relationships with honeymoon periods. I was only in one relationship and we definitely did not have a honeymoon phase. The idea of having to waiting at least ten years for a honeymoon period is nightmarish.

      • Anonyleast says:

        For me, it's I want to have my first relationship to not also be a 'will her six year old like me?' experience.

  10. Holy cow, I feel as if this was written for me! Thank you so much for addressing this, Doc!

    I have decided to go back to school for software development-one, because I really like computers and two, in hopes of bringing up my income potential so that someday I can afford the things I want even if I'm single…. a house, a dog, some travel, and maybe even some kids on my own. I am also saving up for a trip to London-Scotland a year from now.

    It's still tough to know I can't achieve some things for another 3 years at least (how long it will take to finish my program) but the real key is that it's giving me some sense of control and independence. I still get very bummed at the idea of being "forever alone," and at the amount society shames single people ("something must be wrong if they can't attract a man!"), but knowing I have something to look forward to, and I could still have at least some of the things I want, really helps me keep my head off and keep the bitterness at bay.

    • Funny, I’m switching careers too- away from software dev. I decided I hate being a code monkey. Let me know if you need any books, I have tons of ebooks and regular books I can give you to help you on your way :-)

      • What career are you going into? My thinking is, I enjoy coding enough (I work in IT right now, just not doing any kind of programming) that as long as I don't wake up every morning despising me, I should be good. My parents raised me to think that a job is just the thing you do to afford doing what you love.

        • I hated the solitary work and the long term deadlines. I was miserable and I burned out quickly. I don’t want to discuss my plans publicly here, but feel free to message me on Facebook or my email, and I can talk more in depth with you and send you any coding resources you need.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            Huh. I was curious about your plans myself. I'm a code monkey who's decided he's a bit "meh" about the field. There are parts of this job I like (other than casual Internet slacking), but there are other parts that are tiresome as hell. Then again, the job isn't intolerable, I earn more here than I would doing anything else, and EVERY job is going to have its crappy bits. It's not like people become garbage men because they cherish the smell of spoiled milk. If you've found any other careers paths for which software development prepares you, I'd be curious to hear what they are.

          • GH, you’re welcome to get at me on the forum or on Facebook. My name is Yeva Buzhor.

        • I started working as a project manager for a developer last year and I've been surprised by how much I enjoy it. Definitely wasn't what I planned to be doing but so far it has been fulfilling. (Random aside: I'm about to have a layover in your city Marty!)

    • At least with getting a cat or dog over a person is that in a year's time the cat or dog will be pleased to see you when you get home.

      • Granted, I've only been in two relationships that lasted past 6 months (6 months seems to be my Curse Date), but even towards the end of those relationships, they were still happy to see me come home. Ya-might want to check on the bitterness?

        • 1 year = 12 months.

          • I'm up to almost 12 years now, and she's happy to see me come home.

            Also, dude, have you ever MET a cat?

          • Cats get a bad rap. Mine's at the doorway screeching in her Siamese voice when she hears my car pull up in the driveway. Though sometimes I really wish she wasn't.

          • fakely_mctest says:

            Ha!

            One of mine waits right behind my apartment door and then falls really ungracefully onto his side and rolls over for belly scratches.

            Cats: so much less dignified than advertised.

          • I think it's a Siamese thing. I have a Himalayan, and he is the most needy, cuddly thing I have ever met. I looked up the breed, and apparently they are known as the "dogs" of the cat world…. very sociable and human-loving.

          • My Siamese/Tabby mix is like that too. Her world is not complete unless she is snuggling with someone. I've never met a more social cat.

          • eselle28 says:

            Mine is kind of bimodal, maybe because she's only half Siamese. She's very cuddly and a bit clingy around the people who she adores (who aren't always chosen logically or with much consideration as to whether they like her back), and tends to vanish when people she doesn't like as much are around. Since I'm the most adored of the adored ones, she follows me from room to room, tries to hop in the shower with me, and spends a lot of time waiting for a lap to form so she can jump on it.

          • Told you.

          • It was a joke. Perhaps I should have put a :P to make it clear.

            But still, Gil, have you never encountered anyone in a happy, long-lasting relationship? From the way you talk, it seems like you might have had some bad experiences, but you know those aren't the only kind of experiences people have in relationships, right?

          • Robjection says:

            Not only that, but the fact that it is possible for some people to have better experiences in relationships means that, for all you know, it is possible for you to have better experiences in relationships. The only way to disprove this is to try to have a relationship with literally every being on the planet and, after that, still not having the better experiences. Previous experiences may speak to the probability of you having better experiences in your lifetime, but they cannot make that probability 0% or 100%.

    • If you’re going into computer science then at least you won’t be swamped by people of the same gender.

      I had to take up a strictly and entirely non-me evening course in dancing to get away from all the guys. Guys everywhere. EVERYWHERE!

  11. Thanks for this article. It's been hard for me to deal with the fact that I'm unlikely to find the kind of relationship where I want living where I am now, and also with the difficulties in finding work cross-country in a recession. It's nice to have a reminder that there isn't some "settle or ELSE!" clock ticking.

  12. Best advice from an early episode of "The Simpsons":

    "Mrs Krabappel, how will we know when we fall in love?"

    "Oh, don't worry children. Most of you will never fall in love, but will marry out of fear of dying alone."

    • I picture you as being the Gloom Fairy, flitting about and tagging people in unflattering Facebook pictures and leaving articles about abused animals under their pillows.

    • hobbesian says:

      Just an FYI, I'm not afraid to die alone.. I really don't care how I die.. I'm afraid of losing what's left of my youth to being alone.

    • No, this is the best advice Mrs Krabapple has ever given:

      *Skinner gets cold feet and almost runs away from the wedding, but decides to show up late*
      Lovejoy: We are gathered together today to join Seymour and Edna in holy matrimony. Does anyone present know any reason why these two should not be wed.
      Edna: I do!
      Lovejoy: No, you say that part later.
      Edna: I deserve to marry someone who wants to marry me!

  13. hobbesian says:

    And people say I'm depressing to talk to..

    • well there's your problem.

      • hobbesian says:

        no, I was inferring this ARTICLE is depressing.. far more so than I am.

        This article is just pushing the "Well.. just wait.. it will all work out in the end" fairy tale.. It's a way to get people to keep hoping and thus keep them from doing anything rash.

        I'd find it marginally less trite if at the end he'd stuck with his "And Karen still hasn't found anyone and is currently miserable in her apartment in London" ending..

        • But that isn't how most people's lives work. Most people do eventually find love if love is something they value. I definitely think it can be important to be okay with being single, so maybe it could have ended "Karen is still single but looking and okay with that", but it would be inaccurate to suggest that people end up alone and miserable all the time. They don't.

          • Ray Patterson says:

            I'd go a step further and suggest that "Karen is still single, no longer looking and okay with that" is an ending that would be even more consistent with at least the last section of the article before the tacked-on ending.

        • Anything rash… like what? I don't think the article's saying everything will definitely work out, it's just saying you don't know until the end, so you might as well make the best of what you have and see what comes rather than give up as if your life is already over. I'm not sure why you think giving up on your life is a better or healthier option than making the best of what you have.

        • She's in London, how could she possibly be miserable? Her life sounds fantastic!

          • hobbesian says:

            Oh trust me, if you're there during a Tube Strike you will know misery..

          • eselle28 says:

            Eh. I've lived through a couple of subway strikes. They're really inconvenient, but everyone else is in the same boat, so I don't think they lead to a lot of abject misery.

          • I live in Minnesota. It is mid-April, and we had a snow/rain/ice storm yesterday so severe that I couldn't drive up the incline out of my parking garage. I had to take a vacation day because I was literally unable to leave the house. I'm sure public transportation can be annoying, but boy howdy, what I wouldn't trade for not having to drive through a freaking snow storm *in April.*

          • hobbesian says:

            … it was a joke.

          • It was an illustration that life can suck wherever you look, and life can be awesome wherever you look.

          • Oh, we had that freezing rain couple of days ago. I managed to make to work, but I have an AWD and chains. Half the office worked at home, and I kind of wished I'd said I couldn't make it so I could stay in my pajamas all day. But they made you take a vacation day? That's shitty as hell.

        • To add: I'm not going to get into your discussion in the other thread about how long it's worth it to *you* to stay alive, because yes, you can have whatever opinions you want about what you do with your own life. What I have a problem with is you trying to tell everyone else that this article is pushing the the wrong message and that it would be better if we all never hoped for anything. You're obviously not happy with your life, the way you're living it. Other people here are happy, in spite of not having a relationship at the moment, and not knowing if they ever will have one. Why should they switch to your way of looking at things? Why would it be better for them to feel the way you do instead of being happy? Why do you seem to want other people to be miserable?

        • Nah, you're way more depressing than this article, because it depresses me that you have the POV that you do. You can't see the future, how do you know it will turn out bad?

          • hobbesian says:

            Simple: all evidence points that way. I mean, really, you're operating on the same mindset that Christians operate on.. "Well.. my life sucks now.. but at least I can go to Heaven when I die!" "Well.. my life sucks now.. but it might get better if I get it long enough!"

          • Robjection says:

            Well of course he's operating on that mindset. He doesn't have the power to see the future. He knows that what happened in the past does not dictate what happens in the future, only that it can influence the probability of what happens in the future. Now, if you happen to have this power to see the future, then can you tell us all what the next lottery numbers are gonna be?

          • How about, "My life sucks now, so I'm going to do my best to make it not suck."

          • This is a philosophy I can get behind.

          • hobbesian says:

            The Shoots & Ladders philosophy to life isn't something I'm particularly interested in.

          • It'll happen anyways whether you want it to or not.

          • Shoots and Ladders is a game where you have literally no control over what happens to you and everything is determined by random chance. So I'd say that describes your life philosophy pretty well.

        • Sad but true. DNL has worn the low-hanging fruit advice and has sunk back to fatalism.

          • . . . worn out . . . :(

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't think he's worn out any advice, I just think in this particular case he's not giving a very accurate picture considering. I realize he was writing about a real person, but if you're going to write a story about a person who is having trouble dating, and then gives up on dating.. try and focus on all these other supposedly meaningful things the person is supposed to be spending their lives doing.. rather than then turning around and talking about how, when they least expected it, they found love and are getting married! Oh rah yay.

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Hobbes, I've never seen you presented with a silver lining you couldn't find a cloud to.

      • hobbesian says:

        I guess I'm just really hard to impress Johnny… what can I say.

        • Gentleman Johnny says:

          That's kind of on you. When I think of random subatomic particles in an uncaring universe coming together over 12 billion years to produce something that can be upset by an uncaring universe, I'm pretty impressed. Even on the largest macro scale' there's about a dozen blindingly improbable and impressive things that had to happen as prerequisites. If the universe realty is uncaring, with no higher power guiding it, those things are even more amazing, like random grains of sand combining into a working space shuttle.

          • hobbesian says:

            Oh yes, I'm aware of the bill bryson take on it.. where each person living today had about a billion random interactions between two people that had to happen just perfectly in order to exist at all. It's amazing sure, but then all i can think about is what about all the billions of interactions that didn't happen and didn't work out and I just get startlingly glum. It's all staggeringly huge and is thus rendered rather meaningless when put next to the here and now. "Both Sky high and Fucked"

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Right. The meaning, the caring, the importance of a thing that happened or of the many that didn't, that's all decided by humans. You've chosen to focus on the things that make you unhappy to the exclusion of the things that might. So yes, you're deprseiing to talk to because you can't allow a single positive statement to go un-pissed on.

          • hobbesian says:

            It's not like I chose to do it. Not consciously anyway. It just happens, like terminator vision, my brain simply zooms in on the cracks and exacerbates them. Tell me, by the by, have you ever read 'And they shall know our velocity!" by Dave Eggers?

          • But, as you may have noticed some of us mentioning in this thread and others, it's possible to change what your brain focuses on by practicing and getting it running in different tracks. It's not easy, but if you wanted to change it, it's something you can do.

          • hobbesian says:

            yeah, I have noticed.. but unless it comes in pill form and takes effect immediately… I don't have a great deal of patience for stuff that takes a long time or a lot of practice.. it's why I suck at learning languages.. instruments.. picking up almost any skill..

          • Yeah and all those plague victims, man.

  14. I liked the ending. Yes, there is "dream" vs "reality". It reminded me to "be happy, the rest will take care of itself".

  15. hobbesian says:

    Well, no, I just said I wish I could tell when someone was lying. I don't really care about their expressions. I just want to know they are or are not lying.

    • So you have not interest in how a person is feeling when they talk you; you're only interested in only whether or not they are lying to you. That's not a great way to get through life.

      • hobbesian says:

        Where did you get that idea? Of course I care how some people are feeling.. those whom I care about.. I just don't care to study their expressions and try and decipher them as if they were some sort of hieroglyphics etched onto their faces.

        • Um, it's not heiroglyphics. You can tell the difference between someone smiling out of joy and someone frowning on the verge of tears, right?

          People don't go around trying to deciphering other people's faces–the vast majority of us can pick up on at least the basic signs of how someone's feeling, even if some of that is unconscious.

    • Their expressions are something that could tell you if they were lying, so that seems a rather short-sighted view of things.

      • hobbesian says:

        or they could.. I dunno.. just not lie. But I know.. silly me.. that's far too much to ask of a bunch of barely out of the savanna hominids…

        • Well gosh, I wonder what would be easier: You controlling the entire human race so that no one lied ever, or you learning a few basic body language signs that someone's being untruthful? Why is it silly for someone suggest to suggest that the latter has a better chance of success, based on what you personally can do about the situation?

          • hobbesian says:

            I never said anything about controlling the whole human race. Each individual human has the capacity to lie.. just as they have the capacity not to lie, I simply said they could chose not to lie.

          • Yes, but we're talking about what *you* can do about the situation where people are lying to you. *You* can't choose for the other people whether they lie to you or not. So you can either accept that people are going to lie to you and you won't know, or you can try to get better at telling when people are lying. "They could just not lie" is not a solution that you can enact yourself.

        • Okay, so we live in an imperfect world, and humans are imperfect within it. It's hard and it's painful. But do you really think putting all your energy into being bitter it's not perfect is the best way to cope with that? I'd think you'd get more benefit from developing skills and strategies to better handle the inevitable imperfections.

          • hobbesian says:

            What good would that do? It would still leave the world imperfect, but would require me to possibly compromise my values in order to navigate it.

          • What values do you have that would completely disallow the possibility of developing any skills or strategies that would allow you to better navigate an imperfect world?

            And what good does being bitter do that developing skills and strategies wouldn't?

          • So basically you want everyone and everything else to change so you don't have to.

  16. hobbesian says:

    No, I'm not trolling. I simply obviously see the world in a very very different way than you do.

    • I think if your perception of the world is "I should kill myself before I'm 30, because then I'll be ugly and OLD," I think it might behoove you to do some re-thinking on your perspective.

      • Yeah speaking as someone about to turn 30 I'm in better health both mentally and physically now than I was at 20. I'm in a better relationship… I've got a better job so I live in a better place. If I could go back to being 20 tomorrow I wouldn't do it. My dad's coming up on 60 and while you might convince him to go back to 50 I'm pretty sure that's about as far back as he'd go.

        It's not a guarantee that life gets better as it goes along but it certainly doesn't automatically get worse.

        • hobbesian says:

          Mine's getting worse.

          "I'm in a better relationship… I've got a better job so I live in a better place. If I could go back to being 20 tomorrow I wouldn't do it."

          You see I'll be 30 in 2 years also, and I'm actually worse off now than I was at 20. At least if I could go back to being 20 again, it would be more socially acceptable for me to be in the position I'm in right now.

          • Robjection says:

            But you wouldn't be in the position that you're in right now, unless you wish to claim that in 8 years you have not made any progress whatsoever, in which case I find it extremely hard to believe that your lack of progress in 8 years is entirely due to external forces shitting in your cornflakes. Partly due to that, I can believe quite easily.

          • eselle28 says:

            I'm willing to believe that's true if we're looking at two fixed points in time. If the first point chosen was a pretty high point and the second a low one due to setbacks, then yes, it makes sense. I'll say that while I've made a lot of progress since I was 22, especially intellectually and socially, it's hard for me to say that my life today is in any way better than it was when I was 27. Things were going well during that time period, professionally, in terms of friendships, and romantically, followed by a nasty crash in all respects when the recession hit.

            But it doesn't follow that life at 37 or 42 will necessarily be worse than it is now. I expect there will be both ups and downs, and hopefully the overall trend will be toward things getting better. Now, if someone's been on a slow downward slide for 5 or 10 years, then I think it's worth getting concerned about.

          • Robjection says:

            The way it keeps coming across from hobbesian is that there was never anything that he made progress in. If it's more like what you describe, where he made progress in some aspects but this was cancelled out (and then some) by setbacks like the recession, then I could believe that his situation now is worse than it was when he was 20.

            In which case, he is just extrapolating from his current timeline to his future timeline, and any data you get from extrapolation is going to be unreliable.

          • eselle28 says:

            Despite the attitude about things, his description of his life before he was laid off showed some upward trends – finding a fiancee, for instance, even if that relationship didn't work out.

            Extrapolating to the future seems unfortunate, though, since few people's lives are a straight trajectory.

          • hobbesian says:

            lets put it this way, 20 was a pretty good time, I got to travel to europe for 8 weeks, got laid while I was there, came back, got a good full time job, sure I lost every weekend but most of my friends were doing pretty well too and we did stuff during the week, never did have a girlfriend until I was 25, hours started getting cut back, so I started doing school full time. then by the time I was 26 the job crapped out, I went to school full time, I managed to maintain some momentum, and then the rug got pulled out from under me entirely.

            So yeah, at 20 I had a Car, Full Time Job, roommates, and by 27 I was back living with my mom, with no car, and no job, and the added fact of no fiance. So basically I'm back to where I was when I was just starting out, and I feel as though I've lost 8 years now as a result of it.

  17. eselle28 says:

    Karen seems to be a real person, though. It's not like he can make up a different ending.

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      In fairness, if Karen had still been miserable in her apartment in London, he might simply have picked a different example. Not every story is going to be a success story.

      • eselle28 says:

        That's true. I think an interesting addition might have been a person like Karen who ended up alone in her apartment in London, but not so miserable about it.

        Talking about someone who's both alone in her apartment and miserable kind of defeats the point of the blog – especially since I think a lot of readers are already good at conjuring up depressing worst case scenarios (or at least I am).

  18. So, about that demographics thing: how much of a difference is too much of a difference?

    I'm a single, heterosexual man in the early-mid 20s living in New York City. I certainly haven't noticed an advantage coming from the gender ratio – most of the guys I know have a lot of trouble finding anyone, and most of the women I know are extremely picky and usually considering multiple options at once. One thing I've definitely noticed is that the early 20-something women around me often want to date men who are noticeably older, so maybe this situation flips around in 3 or 4 years. Or maybe it's just a confirmation bias that prevents me from seeing all the lonely women around.

    That's no longer of my concern, though, as I am moving. To where, I am still deciding. I am trying to figure out just how much I should take gender ratio into account. Would taking a 53-47 oversupply of men be worth it for better career opportunities? Would it just be marginally more difficult in this type of situation, or does a small difference in gender ratio create a large difference in difficulty?

    • OldBrownSquirrel says:

      It's your age. Women coming out of college are sought after by older men. Men coming out of college aren't sought after by older women to nearly such a degree, and those older women are sought after by still older men, up until the supply of men starts to dwindle. If you don't have an impressive career, or at least a promising one, you may not really be considered relationship material by many women your age. On the other hand, these are your prime years for casual sex, especially since plenty of women your age aren't looking to settle down right away in any event. If you want to compete with the older men, hit the gym. Your youth is your only valuable asset at this point, and you won't have it forever. If you're looking for a relationship, things will turn around as you get closer to thirty; many women will start wanting to settle down and lose interest in casual sex, whether because of biological clocks or fleeting youth and beauty, but you'll need to be a bit older before they'll consider you.

    • From what I remember when I was 22-25, I was looking for a relationship at that point, since I partied really hard until I was 22. Many guys my age were still into just hooking up or dating around and didn't want to make that commitment, so that's why I tended to date slightly older (usually late 20s – early 30s).

  19. BTW, for those who would suggest that your mood and attitude don't have an impact on the rest of your life, I'd like to point out there's quite a bit of scientific research on this subject. A brief google search turned up this article–search for "the benefits of frequent positive affect" with the quotations marks, the second link is a pdf for the entire article–which seems like a good start, because it examines several studies on happiness. From the abstract (bolding mine):

    "Numerous studies show that happy individuals are successful across multiple life domains, including marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health. The authors suggest a conceptual model to account for these findings, arguing that the happiness-success link exists not only because success makes people happy, but also because positive affect engenders success. Three classes of evidence–crosssectional, longitudinal, and experimental–are documented to test their model. Relevant studies are described and their effect sizes combined meta-analytically. The results reveal that happiness is associated with and precedes numerous successful outcomes, as well as behaviors paralleling success. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that positive affect–the hallmark of well-being–may be the cause of many of the desirable characteristics, resources, and successes correlated with happiness."

    This isn't just feel good hand-waving; there is actual scientific data on this stuff.

    • hobbesian says:

      I still don't see how being happy can manifest itself in having good things happen to you? Please explain how your personality or your outlook on the world can do this?

      Or is it perhaps possible that these individuals they tested are happy because good stuff happens to them? But they would rather believe that the good stuff happens to them because they are happy since that gives them agency rather than the universe at large?

      Was their a control group of people who identified as realists? how long did they follow this group of optimists? so much that I need to know..

      • Seriously? Google the article, as I explained in the comment. If you actually want to know this stuff, you could, y'know, read about it rather than casting doubt without bothering to even check the source.

        I mean, I suppose I could go and copy and paste all the relevant sections for you, but then you'd probably just accuse me of leaving out important information that contradicts those things, so it makes far more sense for you to go directly to the research.

        • hobbesian says:

          I wasn't asking you to copy and paste it. I've read plenty of these articles. But these are Statistics based science.. therefore they cannot be accepted at face value. Statistics is the art of lying with numbers to support the hypothesis you prefer. You can change, skew or subtly alter any data you want by just changing the sample size, or the method by which you select your sample population. Even what town or city it's done in, if it's done on the phone, if it's done by a college or by a company can subtly change the data.

          • If you even bothered to read the abstract properly, you'd know that the data is not just from random phone surveys. It includes *experimental* data, which means controlled experiments.

            And if you aren't willing to look at the article to find the answers to your questions, yet weren't expecting me to answer them either, why did you bother to ask them?

      • But as to the first question, of how this could be the case… Most people enjoy being around people who appear to be happy more than people who appear to be angry or sad. Happy people say positive things and behave in pleasant ways. This makes the people around them feel happier too. Those people then want to have that person around them more, so they're more likely to try to hang out with them/date them/hire them/etc.

        Also, being happy is a lot less stressful than being angry or sad. (If you look at the list of major life stresses, the majority of them are completely bad.) Stress affects your physical health. And your good looks, which you consider so important.

        This is pretty basic stuff.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          Cool! Where can I buy some Happy? Is it available in pill form?

          • hobbesian says:

            I think it comes in bottles labeled Vodka actually..

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            Yes, I've noticed the people who drink that are often more popular. Drunk people at parties often seem to be happy.

          • DNL has articles on how to change your attitude to be more positive–these seem the most relevant:
            http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/02/dating-mind
            http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2012/01/change-atti

            I also recommend CBT if you're having trouble changing your attitude toward life.

          • OldBrownSquirrel says:

            The notion that one is sad because one isn't happy seems trite, not to mention tautological. It reminds me of the suggestion that clinically depressed people simply cheer up. CBT is at least more rigorous in its approach, even if it's similar in essence; my therapist is regularly on my case about my automatic negative thoughts.

            I'm rather curious, though, whether the authors made note of other ways in which marriage, friendship, income, work performance, and health can be interconnected. For example, a serious decline in health can easily lead to a decline in work performance and income and cause marital stress. If the fundamental problem is a decline in health, platitudes aren't going to fix it; the unhappiness is secondary.

          • "The notion that one is sad because one isn't happy seems trite, not to mention tautological."

            Who expressed that notion? Changing your attitude isn't saying "just cheer up", it's about changing your thinking so you view and approach events in your life in a more positive way, which allows you to be more happy. How bad you feel when something sad happens can depend a lot on whether you're thinking, "Oh my god this is the most horrible thing ever, why is my life so awful?" vs. "That's horrible, and I'm sad now, but at least I can turn to X for comfort," or whatever. Just as how happy you feel when something good happens depends a lot on whether you're thinking, "Oh crap, this is good, which means any second now I'm going to blow it, because nothing ever works out for me" vs. "Wow, this is awesome, let me celebrate!"

            If you're curious about what the authors made note of, you could try reading the article, which as I said is available for free in its entirety online. But I don't think anyone would argue that being happy will fix everything. The point seems to be that having a positive attitude makes it *more likely* (not guaranteed) that you will be *more* (not completely) successful in various areas than if you had a less positive attitude. Which means a positive attitude is still probably to your benefit even if, yes, other bad things can happen that it won't help.

        • Wellllll, this probably says more about me, but I've found I like being around intellectually stimulating people who are content, more than people who are happy a lot. I'm not saying people should be angry or bitter, but I just come from the philosophy that if you're experiencing one emotion most of the time, there is *probably* something a little off. For example, a lot of the 80%-of-the-time happy people I've encountered seem to be notoriously dense; not stupid, just not very involved in the world outside their happy little bubble. The constant-cheerfulness seems to be some sort of shield against actually dealing with negativity. Instead of getting down and actually discussing unpleasant or negative things, they instead cling to their happy persona and insist everything is all right and fantastic, even while the ship is going down.

          Now take contented people. They are not always happy; they are happy sometimes, sad sometimes, angry sometimes, understanding sometimes. The key commonality across all of these emotions is that they are calm and steady. Instead of a roller coaster, or a plateau in either extreme, they are instead a gentle current flowing between the feeling-but-controlled excess of the human experience. They know how to feel sadness and happiness, but they also know how to just feel that thing without using it as a club or a shield against the world. They can deal with and process negative experiences and opinions without letting these feelings rule them. They can be happy without being obnoxious about it.

          My goal is not to be happy in life. It's to be contented, to be able to feel the range of emotions in a calm and comfortable manner. I think trying to be happy all, or even most, of the time is not reasonable for me, but being content and satisfied with my life seems highly achievable, if that makes sense.

          • Well thought and expressed! Thanks for this.

            I often feel weird on this blog going around espousing more positive attitudes all the time, because I'm like you, I don't really get on particularly with people who have that constantly cheery attitude; but at the same time, I can see there's a third option between that and relentless, hopeless cynicism. That third option is something I struggle to express in a way that doesn't just read as the constantly cheery thing to people who lean more towards cynicism (or as cynicism to people who are constantly cheery – I'm always contrary!), and I think you've got it pinned down here.

          • Looking at the article, it appears that they defined "happiness" as "long term propensity to frequency experience positive emotions". They don't say those positive emotions have to be particularly intense. I think "content" would count.

            And I agree, someone who's aggressively happy all the time is probably putting on a false front and not dealing with issues they need to. But I honestly doubt those people really *feel* positive about themselves or their life on the inside–they just put a lot of energy into faking it to others.

          • thesurfmonkey says:

            Huh, that's really interesting. The way you define contented is what I would call happy. It contains an element of maturity and perspective on life that I consider essential to happiness, whereas I don't consider bubbliness or perkiness to be essential to happiness at all. Hmm.

          • When I think "contented," I think someone who comes into the office at a casual stroll, smiles and nods at some people and says "Good morning" in passing. When I think "happy," I think of someone who comes bounding in and is all," Oh my gosh, isn't it an *amazing* morning? Today is so wonderful! I am going to be my very best today! Well, isn't *someone* Ms. Grumpy-pants!"

            The happiness probably is genuine, but it's also incredibly obnoxious. Like when you're sitting next a PDA-heavy couple in a restaurant. They probably ARE that into each other, but it just seems…. in my face. Whereas the contented couple are sitting in the corner, maybe holding hands but are "low key" about being into each other so no one else would ever know it.

            Maybe by contentedness, I mean "low-key happiness." I think I just connect the word happy with obnoxiousness because our culture encourages happiness abundance, and so people feel the need to ACT.OUT.THEIR.HAPPY! and it grates on my natural cynic/melancholic nature. Contented people, on the other hand, almost never grate on my nerves. No idea if that makes any sense to any of you guys.

      • Happiness isn't about what happens to you, it's how you react to what happens to you.

        • hobbesian says:

          This is circular. I still disagree just as much now as I did the last 300000000 times someone told me this. Happiness is 100% external. If something good happens to me, if my plans work out, if I have a nice evening out, if I eat something tasty, if I read a book that is good, I'm happy. If stuff doesn't go how I want it, doesn't work according to plan, isn't tasty, isn't a good book.. I'm not happy.

          I'm sorry, Happy isn't just a state of mind, it's a reaction to external stimuli.

          • If I'm starting out in a bad mood, I'm not likely to actually land up having a nice evening out. If I'm completely miserable, I may not appreciate the tasty food. OTOH, if I'm in a good mood, I might laugh off a stupid evening, I might hate the book I read but enjoy figuring out the mechanics of why it was so terrible. Your thinking is very black and white.

          • hobbesian says:

            well see you're equating "Good Mood" with "Happy", I'm not.

            Right now, if you had to ask, would you guess I was in a bad mood? or Glum? based on my replies to this topic?

            I can be in a perfectly good mood and people still find my company depressing. I'm very rarely in a bad mood.. stressed yes.. sometimes a trifle melancholic.. but just as often ready to go have a good time. But ultimately still discontent.

          • I see what you mean. But my post would be equally true for me if I were to substitute "generally of a positive/negative mindset," or "happy." It depends a little on what kind of definition we're using for happy, because I think it's been meaning different things at various points in the conversation. But overall, I don't think they'd change my point.

          • But I think that's their point, it's a reaction. You can *choose* your reaction. So if stuff doesn't go as planned, you could be pissed off-or you could shrug and try to make the best of it. If it isn't a good book, you can say "Oh well, I know not to read <X Series> or <Y Author> again," and go pick out a different one.

            We are not lab rats in the maze of life, completely unable to make decisions. Sometimes you do end up in a situation that sucks, but you can choose to not let it effect you as dramatically as it could, or you can choose to try to find a way around the suckiness into something better.

            Tomorrow I am buying very expensive knit fabric to try a project I have been dreaming about for over a year. It is barely an exaggeration to say it was *the thing* that got me into sewing. It's an incredibly demanding pattern, something I have never attempted before. I am nervous I will screw it up, because I will probably ruin the fabric… or that it won't turn out as nicely as I want. I have some control over this project, but not so much control I can guarantee it will go perfect.

            Still, I am *choosing* to take this risk. I am choosing to really test my abilities and shoot for something I am going to adore. I am choosing to take a deep breath and remind myself that even if I screw up, the experience will teach me many valuable things.

            Happiness is a reaction, but it's also a reaction we can somewhat control. You can't always control it-we are human, after all-but you can choose to make the best of what you can, and learn from the experiences that are outside your control.

          • I keep trying to hit the thumbs up button again, but it's telling me I've already voted. Either way, +1000.

          • Plus infinity!

          • I disagree with that to the extent that I think the way you're using "happy" is not the way that Mel was using happy back up in her comment. Perhaps it would have been more precise to say that people prefer to be around others with a positive outlook rather than a negative outlook.

            Your outlook IS a state of mind… if Mel gives advice on having a positive attitude/being happy and a person responds by insisting that she's wrong and that his happiness is entirely outside of his control, he has made the CHOICE to respond to her advice with negativity. People generally don't like negativity in others, particularly when it is negativity in response to an attempt to be helpful, so most folks would probably downvote his comment, offer arguments against his point of view, or in an extreme case be snarky and dismissive.

            If instead he said something along the lines of "I see where you're coming from, I probably could work on the way I respond to different things and try to avoid being so negative all the time," all of a sudden people would be offering support and possibly even additional advice about what they tried when they decided they were unhappy with their own attitudes.

            I'm using this example to try and illustrate the way that a person's response to a situation, which is entirely in his control, is the primary determinant of how others will react to him. It isn't about "feeling" happy or "feeling" unhappy, it is about having perspective and adopting a positive attitude even when things aren't going your way.

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't understand this at all. Why should I be happy that stuff isn't going how I want it? That makes no sense to me at all.

            There's not always a workable Plan B in a lot of cases. If something bad happens, I'm going to be justifiably angry about it.

            This seems to be the same breakdown of communication that happens when I say 'I can't, I'm broke" and people hear that as saying 'I've got no cash, I need to go to the ATM"…

          • New word for the day: sisyphean

          • You should be happy for the things that are going right in your life instead of brooding on the shit that's going wrong. There's nothing wrong with being angry that something bad happened, but brooding on it and declaring that life's over and every day where the things you think you deserve don't come to you is a waste, and that any day now you'll be old and then you might as well just kill yourself… well that makes you a pretty miserable person to be around. Why would another person that isn't miserable to be around (or even another person that is miserable to be around) want to spend any time with you when you spend so much time focused on what has gone wrong.

            If your response is "nothing is going right in my life" well there are some of DNL's other posts that are a little more on topic for that discussion.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'd be lying if I said *Nothing* was going right. But it's not the things I consider the most important, those, those always get fucked up.

          • Robjection says:

            Incidentally, what are the not-as-important things that are going right?

          • hobbesian says:

            Losing weight, I've dropped from a 32 in december to a 30 now. Got a new-ish car. Started going to a team fan club for soccer. joined the honors society at school. student of the semester. and currently tracking all A's for the semester..

            They are good things, they are good things for the long run, they just aren't the things I want right now.

          • Um, but maybe you don't want them right now because you already have them right now? Because if you were unable to lose weight, had no regular social activities, were bottom of the school rankings, and getting solid F's all semester, something tells me that you would be including that in your list of stuff that is wrong with your life, and yet another example of why it is hopeless to try.

            This is why I'm personally suspicious of your assertion that happiness is entirely external for you – in your comments you seem determined to see the world through shit coloured glasses, and it is affecting your interpretation of the world around you. So the stuff in your life that is bad is seen as evidence that nothing will improve, while the good things (which could be taken as signs of gradual improvement!) are discounted as unwanted for the time being.

            Many, many people struggle with losing weight, or getting the courage to join a social group, or doing well at school, and would love to be as successful as you have been of late. Health, social interaction and educational attainment are not things to be sniffed at, and I get the feeling that you would be counting them as extremely important if you were having serious trouble with them.

          • Apparently he's incapable of being happy about the things that are going right because of the "Western mindset" and capitalism and stuff. :P

          • It would seem like someone hasn't seen Pollyanna. (My fictional Patronus) Finding the beauty in darkness is strength. Smiling in the face of adversity means you never let the bastards when. They can take my freedom, but they can't take my GLADNESSS!!!

          • Indeed. Happiness is that short elation you get when something good occurs to you. After all "hap-" means "luck" as in happenstance, hapless, happen and happy. If people here don't like that then they should thinking of another word. E.g.: contentment, fulfillment, etc.

          • http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/happine

            Happiness: "a state of well-being and contentment".

            I'm going to have to take the Miriam Webster dictionary definition over yours, given that it's been the standard of the English language for more than 200 years. Words shift in meaning from their basic root etymology all the time.

            Not to mention that, this whole thread is in reference to a scientific article that defines "happiness" in a similarly general way–as "long term propensity to frequency experience positive emotions". So when discussing the data in the article, it only makes sense to go by the article's definition.

          • Or people fudge it around until the proper meaning being to get lost:
            http://www.cracked.com/article_19376_5-scientific

          • I don't recognize Cracked as an ultimate source on the definitions of words that defeats all others. That article is talking about a particular sort of "happiness". Since apparently you're having trouble reading again, let me repeat:

            This whole thread is in reference to a scientific article that defines "happiness" in a similarly general way–as "long term propensity to frequency experience positive emotions". So when discussing the data in the article, it only makes sense to go by the article's definition.

            Obviously it's possible for people to experience "happiness" as meant this way, or there wouldn't have been anything for the (dozens!) of studies and experiments covered in the article to collect data on.

          • If this were true, if emotions were solely determined by external circumstances and not at all affected by a person's mental state, attitudes, etc., then everyone would feel the *exact same way* when a particular thing happens to them. I can't imagine how anyone could believe that's true, given that just here in the comments you can see various people expressing various emotions or levels of emotion to the exact same ideas and imagined or real scenarios.

          • hobbesian says:

            that would require everyone also having the same personality.

            If you gave me a toy as a child, and another child the same toy, we would both have been happy about it. If you took the toy away, we would both have been unhappy about it. The differences emerge when you view how we Played with the toy.

            He would have played with the toy, had fun, blah blah blah. I'd open the toy, look at it, put it on the shelf.. and then go looking for another new toy. Once I *Have* the toy, it ceases to make me happy. It's only the act of receiving the toy which makes me happy.

          • So you admit that happiness is not "100% external" then? Because your personality is about as internal as it gets. I'm not sure how this disproves anything I said.

          • And BTW, what makes you think that having any of your "checklist" items is going to make your life any better, then? Once you "receive" your steady job, or your stable relationship, or whatever, aren't you going to feel this same apathy once you have it? Why would you think you won't? Did you feel content simply having the well-paying government job you had before you were downsized? Simply having your past girlfriends before the break-up?

            Either you are capable of being content with what you have, and you can't really say your whole life has sucked so much just because at this particular moment you don't have certain things (it might suck *now*, but there were other times when it didn't). Or you aren't, and that inability to be content or take enjoyment out of what you have is the real problem, not whether you're lacking any particular thing.

          • hobbesian says:

            Nope, I was never content with the job because I wanted a promotion. I'll admit, I was perfectly content with my fiance, you got me there. I was content every single morning when I woke up and found her still here, and that I wasn't imagining it all. I was content every afternoon when we both got home from work/school.

            So if that is what content feels like.. then that is a very, very, very rare feeling for me indeed.

            However, I don't like this idea that just because things "Didn't suck" in the past that somehow changes how I should feel about them now. I'm sure the people in Rome who lived through the vandals sacking the place thought it was shit.. and I doubt very much if you reminded them 'Well it USED to be awesome" would have made them feel any better…

          • Well, I'm confused then. You've suggested that someone having been part of a couple and then having lost their partner at a young age and having no romantic relationships after that didn't count as "forever alone" because they had it once. If you'd had a kid with your girlfriend, would that have magically fulfilled that "biological imperative" and now you wouldn't have any reason to feel lonely even though you don't have your girlfriend anymore? At what point does having a romantic partner become "fulfilling" enough that you don't count as "alone" after you lose them?

            And if you now want to think that all that time with your girlfriend sucked even though you felt content at the time, I guess that's your prerogative. Most people recognize that their life had some good parts even if things aren't great right now, and remembering the good parts is what gives them hope that they can have good things again in the future. I would venture to say that a life where you never felt content with a girlfriend at all would be a much worse life to have lived than one where you did, all other things being equal. If you're going to be totally existential about it, in a hundred years you'll no longer be around to feel lonely or content, so I guess your loneliness right now shouldn't matter, because it won't then. So what'll be the difference if it "used" to suck?

          • hobbesian says:

            See unfortunately, the only part that matters is the part that i'm living in right now.

            You're right, in 100 years it won't matter, but I won't be here to know it doesn't matter.

          • Or it can be motivation to be as great as it once was. You can be upset about something while also trying to move on from it.

          • Read better books and eat tastier food. Happiness achieved.

          • I like this plan.

          • It is a state of mind. Someone in a positive mindframe can better enjoy things that they do and things that happen to them. Someone in a negative mindframe has more difficulty with both.

            Innocent example, video games. I've spent years in a negative mindframe. When I'd beat a video game, or reach all my goals in a video game, or even 100% a video game, I'd get a momentary rush, then feel horrible because I'd "wasted" all that time and effort on something meaningless. It was a further tool to beat myself up with.

            Been in a better state of mind over the last few weeks. It took me just over 100 hours to hit all my "goals" for a video game I recently played. It felt better because I decided it was a mostly fun 100 hours, I'd completed what I'd wanted to, and it's the most enjoyable gameplay-wise the series has ever been. Vastly different reactions from a simple mood change.

          • It's really great to hear that you've been able to get into a less negative mindset and enjoy things more! :)

          • Gentleman Johnny says:

            Disagreement noted. Do you have any evidence that unhappiness is more productive or produces better outcomes?

    • My life is on average pretty good. I have friends, hobbies, etc. My issue is that I also feel lonely a lot because I don't have a girlfriend, that I'm not even close to having a girlfriend, and that trying not to feel lonely is an exercise in frustration. I am lonely, I want companionship. I'm tried of going to every event alone and coming back to my apartment alone. On dates, I really do my best to suppress this but its hard. I'm still bummed that my Sunday date got cancelled, it was something that I was really looking forward to. I thought that this date would be the best in a long time. When you combine loneliness with sexual frustration, its not that easy.

    • My life and experiences certainly agree with that research. But I know it is incredibly difficult to change one's attitude. My brother and I are basically polar opposites in this department. He is one of the most pessimistic and dismissive people I've ever met, and I'm incredibly optimistic. I've spent time with him and tried talking to him to understand him better. After talking with him, I wonder how much people are, for lack of a better word, 'stuck' in their happiness or unhappiness (or satisfaction or dissatisfaction or whatever adjectives you'd like to use). My brother and I have different fathers, and only spent about 40% of our childhood in the same place (with our mother). I'd like to be a very big believer in nurture over nature, because it creates accountability and also gives people freedom to change, but how much of his discontented attitude was he born with? And how much of my roll-with-the-punches attitude was I born with? It's a really intriguing question, and it's pretty central to this entire idea. I've been able to control my attitude in the past, but maybe that is a trait I was born with. It's a question I really don't think we'll ever have a set answer for. Until we do, it's basically the [insert positive adjective] people saying "Be [insert positive adjective]", and the opposite asking, "How?"

      I do absolutely think that attitude affects the outcome of events. More specifically, it affects our reaction and recollection of events. When I make a mistake, and I mean a really big mistake, I view it as a learning opportunity. It's not a painful memory, but an instance where I was less than what I want to be. If it's something I've already fixed, it's an example of how much better I am today. And if it's something where I haven't had the opportunity to be better, then I look at it just like that – an opportunity. I've known less positively-inclined people to have less positive attitudes towards mistakes. They heap loads of (usually a mix between undeserved and deserved) blame upon themselves, and shut down to a degree. When faced with the instance to be better, they spend too much time thinking about past failure, and they often then repeat the mistakes.

  20. Should have left out that last bit. Gives false hope. There's no point in going on if you truly will be alone for the rest of your life. Granted, you can't know, but that kind of desperation doesn't make life worth living.

    • Do you mean there's no point to life at all if you can't have a romantic relationship? There is truly nothing else that gives you joy? Or could at least give you some sense of satisfaction in life? I completely understand wanting to rail against false hope…. by all means, I'd love to give up looking, just like Karen did. But giving up on a relationship wouldn't make me give up on life; it'll make some parts of life tougher, but having a satisfying life may not be impossible.

    • Jeebus, is something in the Doctor Nerdlove comment section's water tonight? This has to stop. This is not okay. I am concerned.

      Anyone reading this: you are worthwhile as an individual person. You do not need a significant other to be worthwhile. It is statistically unlikely you will end up without a long-term significant other, but you are worthwhile even before you meet them or even if you don't. If you feel so desperate that you are even remotely considering harming yourself or think harming yourself in the future would be okay if you don't meet someone, please talk to someone about how you're feeling – a friend, a family member, a therapist, a counselor, etc. Someone. You should get to be happy and reaching out to someone will help.

      • hobbesian says:

        Personally, I think you're taking it too personally.

        None of my friends really feel any differently than I do. My family members don't want to hear it. Therapy.. well. I can't afford it for one thing.. and I don't think there is anything wrong with me for another. I talked to the school shrink every 2 weeks for a semester and it accomplished nothing except taking her valuable time away from the people who really needed it.

        • Honest truth: you do not see what's a big red flag about the idea that life ends at 45, and you are worthless as a human being just because you don't have a girlfriend?

          Well, then, let's play this out to a logical conclusion. I am closer to 45 than you are. I don't have a boyfriend. Not even the glimmer of one on the horizon. In fact, I've been assured by many corners of the Male Internet that I will never have one, due to my looks (which as you have pointed out, are of utmost importance.) Guys my age won't date me, because they think like you.

          In your estimation, am I worthless? Should I be planning to take drastic action the closer I inch to middle age? Or should I make the cut-off at 35, when my fertility plummets?

          If you are worthless because of these things, why aren't I?

          • hobbesian says:

            Personal choice? I'm not trying to tell anyone else how to feel here.

          • Except you are. You're taking the time to try to argue your viewpoint as something other people should consider and adopt. You're taking great pains to support anyone who does agree with you. Your "existential" bullshit is harmful if it is spread and encouraged, so you spreading and encouraging it is not good. Please stop.

          • hobbesian says:

            Look, I'm not going around telling anyone to believe the way I do. If they already do, well then that gives me and them something in common. If a person can substitute companionship and sex and romance with knitting or cats or cooking or watching telly or memorizing the life of brian well more power to them.

          • Personal choice is one thing. That is not what I am asking. I am saying, if you have this view of yourself, why don't you adopt the view of others? If you think you are worthless because you lack a relationship, then logically, you think others who lack a relationship are also worthless. Why would they be worthwhile, if you're not?

          • hobbesian says:

            Because I don't hold other people to the same standards I set for myself.

          • Robjection says:

            Double standards are a dumb thing.

          • hobbesian says:

            Why is it dumb to holds one's self to a higher standard? I mean sure, I could hold everyone else to my standard.. always be on time.. never lie or cheat.. always do your work on time.. never cut in line.. do the speed limit.. be courteous to others.. But then I'd be constantly disappointed.

          • Oh, a *higher* standard. I see. So, really, you're not saying I'm worthless…. you're just saying I'm stupid for having low standards. For being able to still be happy even without a relationship, I am not living up to the "higher" standards you have set for yourself. Being happy with my hobbies and my life, even without a boyfriend, is somehow equivalent to being rude and deceptive. That seems completely logical.

          • hobbesian says:

            Sure, I suppose if you want to see it that way, who am I to stop you.

          • Robjection says:

            I really think you're overstating the strength of the disappointment. For example, if you see someone going 5 or 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, that should evoke a feeling of disappointment in that other person's recklessness … for about 3 seconds, 5 at most, unless you see them cause an accident. Any more than that and you're entering mountains out of molehills territory. And I don't know about the area where you live, but while I see a lot of people do stupid things while they're driving, it's not common enough for 3 to 5 seconds per incident to put a damper on my entire day.

          • If that's true, then why do you complain about people who are happy (or, we'll say, content) and say things like that they're ignoring "reality"? Obviously you do think that they should feel depressed like you do, that your way of seeing things is an objective "reality" and not just your personal attitude.

          • Ah yes, "Higher Standards for Myself." I've been there. Sometimes I go back to visit. It's not a nice place. It usually ends with beating yourself up for perceived failures.

          • Not only is it not a nice place–or a particularly healthy one, often resulting in the aformentioned and frequently undeserved self-recrimation–it's really sort of insulting to everyone else, when you think about it. Almost a backhanded way of implying you're better than they are.

          • Yes, how silly of all us people who can find joy in trivial things like developing skills, loyal friendships, discovering more about the world, creating things, etc., rather than basing all our hopes of happiness on a romantic partner who will save us from our crushing misery.

          • Wait, I'm supposed to be living in crushing misery because I'm single? I must have missed the memo. Maybe it's still sitting in the tottering pile of unopened junk mail on the kitchen table.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Just a reminder Marty many people in this part of the internet have repeatedly told you that you are attractive.

        • I am actually okay with you doing whatever the hell you want with your life. I would like to help you if I could, but I can't. You are free to do what you want.

          I am not okay with the multiple people in the comments going around trying to convince other people that thinking like this is healthy for them. Y'all need to shut up because that is not what people need to be hearing. So yeah, I do take people trying to normalize detrimental ideas personally and I am okay with being invested in it.

  21. One of the biggest problems is the biology part- if you have plans to have the healthiest, best chance at birthing your own children, it's better to have them when your body is within the "sweet spot" (ie: anywhere from 20 to 35 years of age at the latest). Add in a career, school, a social life outside of dating and family, and you've got a crazy mess of trying to prioritize your life and who you spend your time with.

    Pretty much no one I know met their long-term relationship partner in a bar, through speed dating or any other dating-specific situations.

    99% of them met someone they really clicked with either at a shared interest-based event (convention, conference, concert, etc)

    OR

    through a friend.

    Ostensibly, this is generally when you're not looking for it, so Murphy's Law and all that, but it still rings true. Pretty much everyone I know who is still together falls into the above category.

    ALSO.

    I really wish that people would stop thinking about "forever alone" as such a fucking horrible thing. Being without a relationship partner doesn't mean you never get to have sex, never get to experience intimacy or are forgotten.

    You're only truly "forever alone" if you don't have any connections- no family ties, no close friends who care about you, no one who checks in with you and makes sure you're ok if you don't post on Facebook more than one day in a row.

    And, frankly, the pressure of making your relationship partner the end-all-be-all of all your intimacy, friendship and socialization needs is a pretty terrible idea, and beyond the limerence phase, it can get pretty frustrating and even drive a wedge between people.

    I think that we as a society need to reunite ourselves with the idea of a "family"- not necessary blood relations, but people who you forge close bonds with who you don't want to fuck- people who have your back and whose backs you have.

    Also, think of how living by yourself is living on your own terms.

    You can make split second decisions that affect no one else but you- go on vacation somewhere at the drop of the hat without having to take another person's preferences into consideration.

    You can go out every night of the week and it's not nearly as expensive as a couple or family meal.

    You can decorate your living space however you want and things always stay where you left them.

    You can watch what you want, eat what you want, pee with the door open to the bathroom. Hell, you can drink from the milk carton because no one is going to be sharing.

    You can sit and think, or compose, or write or……(insert creative thing here) without being interrupted.

    Instead of thinking of it as a prison sentence, perhaps it is better to think of it as a liberation.

    My grandfather died when my father was in high school. My grandmother lived to be 98 years old. She never remarried and lived at home until she passed away in the front room suddenly from a heart attack. Her home was a safe place, where everyone came, where everyone was welcome. People spent the night, stayed if they needed to, were always offered a place at the table. She worked slowly and tirelessly to keep the home clean but simple, watching 20/20 and falling asleep in her chair before going to bed for the night. She was always getting calls, letters, pictures from friends, extended family and people who knew her through family members from as far away as Italy. She watched children, grandchildren, cousins, great grandkids, and when we grew old enough, we helped her out without her ever needing to ask (often at her protest).

    My grandmother did not live a wasted life, even though she never remarried or showed interest in a love or sex-based relationship.

    No one can honestly say that the reason they wasted their life was because no one put a ring on it.

    Take responsibility for the things that make you unhappy in your life and either accept them or fix them. Don't just bitch and moan that all you need is someone to come in and fix everything for you. Do that shit yourself and be the person that someone WANTS to come home to.

    • For a lot of people being "forever alone" does mean that you never get to experience sex. Not everybody gets casual sex easily. For a lot of us its a very hard thing to get. Some people do not want it. Other people aren't simply the type that gets selected for it. I've never had a date that led anywhere more than a hug or kiss on a check in terms of physical affection. There is no evidence that this is going to change even the far future.

      • Yeah S. Soldate view sounds like "I have plenty of money and it's not a panacea to life's problem so being poor isn't that big of a deal."

        • dualityheart says:

          To be fair, you can live a graceful economically poor life alone as well. The poor actually tend to rely on bonds of family and friendship than the rich, out of necessity. If you have no children, the amount of money needed to sustain a single life is lower than you think, as long as you are smart about it. My grandmother was a child of the Great Depression and the kind of person who wouldn't buy something unless it was on sale. She lived on a pittance left from when her husband died and social security and that was all.

          It's not my fault if you're terrible at budgeting money.

          • hobbesian says:

            Honestly I'd treat this the same way, If I could magically see into the future and see that at 45 I was going to be just as broke as I am now, still never being able to go and travel and experience the stuff I want to do..

            At least having a partner softens that blow.. but if I don't have either of them then it's just like.. what the fuck is even the point in waking up in the morning? I can't do what I want, I can't spend my time with a person I care about.. I have no family.. My friends are all leaving and going other places just as fast as they can..

            There is a question on OkCupid which is "What's worse, being Poor or being Alone" .. Being alone is obviously the worst of the two.. but being poor is pretty close second.

          • johnny doe says:

            then get to work and get a job. I've read all of your posts today and you don't even have some of the basics handled – full-time work is pretty important – it beats sitting on your ass at home all day.

      • dualityheart says:

        Sex isn't really as amazing as everyone makes it out to be. I mean, maybe this is because as a female human, I have complicated junk while most guys are point and shoot, but most sexual experiences really don't do it for me unless I'm with someone for awhile and I have a really good connection with that person. Honestly, I don't understand why some people think that they NEED sex- there is always masturbation, and I don't understand why people are so fucking ashamed of that as an option. And as for non sexual intimacy (which is pretty important), you can always cuddle with people you care about, or have a dog that loves you unconditionally. There are ways to get your emotional and physical needs met no matter what your romantic relationship status. And, in fact, most of the people that I've met who have trouble getting into a good relationship are so focused on that aspect that they neglect their other social connections, which creates that frantic hum, a desperation that easily broadcasts to all that this person can't make healthy social connections unless they can also stick it in. Plus, no one with a healthy mental or emotional life is going to want to be the hyper focus and sole recipient of someone else's affection. We idealize this in our society, but the reality is both creepy and stifling.

        Some people might argue that getting one's dick wet is some kind of "right," and that having someone come along and fix all the shit that you're too lazy or deluded to fix yourself is a tenable goal. Well, there's your problem right there. It's your choice if you want to do anything about it, but if you keep going the way you are going, there is no one to blame but yourself.

        The first step is admitting you have a problem, and that finding someone codependent enough to love and fuck you isn't going to solve your problems.

        • You know, most of us sexually frustrated people know about masturbation and do masturbate. Its not necessarily the relief for sexual frustration that your making it out to be. Nor does everybody have people whom they could cuddle with. Most of my female friends are either married and off-limit for cuddling or not into platonic cuddling. Stop assuming that these options are universally available.

          • I actually don't know what to say to you at this point, Lee. Other than, I'm sorry. That sucks.

            Your chosen way of going about things is by its very nature slow. Finding an awesome person who likes you and wants to have sex with you is rare, even if you're doing everything right (you know like DNL mentions in this article).
            But you aren't willing to try Craigslist or deliberately pursue casual sex. You've previously rejected the idea of hiring an escort or sexual surrogate. You're sick of masturbating and don't find it all that helpful.

            Yeah, I'm out of ideas.

          • I 'haven't so much as written off deliberately pursuing casual sex. I certainly would not refuse it if offered in most circumstances. However, many of the paths for casual sex are froth with all sorts of perils and downsides that I'd prefer to avoid. Craiglist, from what I heard, does not seem to be a safe option for getting casual sex if you are completely inexperienced. The risks to a man are less than risks to a woman but there are still risks and if I'm entrusting loosing my virginity person there needs to be an amount of trust.

            As to escorts and surrogate sex, they are illegal and expensive.

      • Maybe you need to more of an egotistical assholes – they never want for women.

        • WOMEN ONLY LIKE ASSHOLES I'M NOT ALPHA ENOUGH EVO PSYCH FEDORAS NICE GUY LADDER THEORY
          -you

          Maybe women would like you if you weren't a walking billboard of utterly cliche bitter misogyny. Try reading this blog and internalizing a lot of what the Doc says. Or would that be scarier than kvetching about shallow bitches who won't fuck you?

          • Hollywood Chick says:

            Thank you, because I am one of those women who loves hunting assholes then wrecking them psychologically so they can never attain a hardon again :D

            The trouble with you "nice guys" is twofold: one, you're pussies, and two, you're often fat. Hit the gym and we'll fuck you. Working you out is NOT WOMEN'S JOB. If we have to look good, so the fuck do you. Job done here.

      • Seriously Lee? Sex is not everything. Yes, it's fun and pleasurable. Yes, most people enjoy it. Yes, you can live without it happily.

        "Not everyone gets casual sex easily."
        Sex is not a commodity you get. It's an activity you do. We talk about sex as if it's basic human need, but it's really not. You can live a normal, adjusted life without ever having sex. No one has ever died from not having sex. You keep repeating the same thing over and over again about your inability to progress further than one date with a woman. You don't need a sexual partner to satisfy a basic need for human affection. Many people are affectionate with close friends. You've compared sexual need to hunger previously, but to eat, you don't need subject another human being to your need. Sex takes 2 people (or more). The way you talk about "getting" sex literally makes my skin crawl, and at this point, I'm 100% sure that women you date can pick up on it as well, and are just as repulsed at the thought of you "getting" sex from them. It really does not sound even remotely enjoyable.

        • Says the girl who has probably had several relations ships and flings- its kind of like a rich person telling a poor one how while money is great and wonderful and can lead to you to do and experience wonderful things its not everything and that poor person should not want money and that it is not a basic human need but focus on 'finding himself' of being his 'best' or whatever 2-cent witticism he/she picked up from poorly written self help books while the poor sod starves.

          Bottom line its incredibly condescending on your part and offensive to those you give this advice to. It implicitly says that all the suffering and struggles they have gone through are pointless and over nothing, as sex/companionship is so cheap and cavalier to YOU and that if they could just 'cheer up' things would be going wonderfully.

          Check your privilege and try to at least inculcate an imitation of empathy for the person you just derided and realize that as a woman you are almost guaranteed several potential suitors, and men, especially the socially awkward and ugly can only dream of their love lives being so easy.

          • Having sex is not privilege. Don't appropriate words used by the social justice movement for whatever bullshit you just spewed at me. I didn't give him any 2-cent witticism, I told him to get over this thinking that sex is a commodity. Sex involves 2 people. When one person thinks and acts as if the other person is something to get sex out of, like a mine to get gold out of or a fruit to squeeze juice out of, then he is subjecting the other person to a bad experience for the sake of his good experience.

            Also, you don't know anything about my life, or my success in relationships or love. Sex is not everything. I know because I have had plenty of it, with little love to go along with it. You won't die from not having sex. You are not oppressed because you are not having sex. We have offered Lee so much fucking empathy he is swimming in it. We have given him countless helpful advice about how to do better with women. He refuses to follow any of it, so my empathy done run out. At this point, I am sick of the whining, and co-opting of comment threads of every blog entry with the same thing over and over again. I'm sick of him talking about sex like the world owes it to him. It doesn't. It isn't a right or a privilege. Sex is a social interaction, and if he (or you) can't step up to the social task because of your own sense of entitlement, then I have no empathy for you.

    • I really like this S.S.

      I've always tried to think of my default setting as being single. Any relationship is just going to be a bonus.

      So I pursue things that make me happy, or that will make me happy. I have friends. I work and volunteer and manage to pay my bills on time. Is life perfect? Haha, hardly. But I'm not going to sit around waiting for someone, who may or may not be out there for me.

      And Lee, I like sex. A lot. It's awesome. And it's even more awesome with someone I really care about and have a relationship with. But I can't sit around and wallow in my horniness, because that doesn't do me any good. I have hands and toys and an imagination which frankly are better than most of the casual sex options that I have ever managed to find (and that's not a lot).

      And so life goes on, with or without a partner. That's how I live and it's what makes me happy.

      • You know what, I don't wallow in my horniness either. I'd like to have some physical activity that involves another living person at some time though, preferably sooner than latter. The people with ready access to casual sex come across incredibly privileged and condescending towards those that don't. They regal us with tales of their sexual adventures while patronizingly us in various ways. Yes, sex with intimacy is probably better than casual sex but I'd like to at least have a little. I'm incredibly sexually frustrated.

        Finally, one thing that I did not like the attitude was that waiting till your sixties and seventies for your relationship still means that your not forever alone. Please, having to wait near towards the end of life, till your a senior citizen, is practically the same thing as being forever alone. Its close enough.

        • The "wallowing" comment wasn't mean to imply anything about you, but I can see how you read it as such. Sorry about that. What I meant was, I can be happy without a partner and that doesn't mean I have a low sex drive. Hardly, ha! For me, I deal with my immediate frustration by masturbating and then focus on other things. Because I don't enjoy focusing on things I don't have/get to do at the moment.
          Yes, I've got a different history than you and what works for me isn't universally applicable. People are all different, blah blah blah.

          • I'm at the point where masturbation is loosing its effectiveness as a form of relief. I need a sexual encounter that involves another person.

          • Not to be snarky or mean, but I doubt that the "other person" is going to enjoy being your living sex toy. And, no, this isn't what you said, but this is how it comes across.

          • You know what, I just really don't care anymore. I have my romantic and sexual needs to. What about my desires, needs, and wants. I want to touch and be touched, kiss and be kissed, embrace and be embraced, and fuck and be fucked now.

          • I'm not sure that this was Anthony's point, but only caring about your own romantic/sexual needs and seeing the other person as a living sex toy is not an appealing quality in a romantic/sexual partner, so I think giving in to that attitude might make things harder for you.

          • You don't think that I realize this? Yes, I know that being self-centered is not an appealing trait in romantic and sexual partner. Yes, I realize that being mindful and considerate of the needs of your partner is very important in romance and love. The problem is that I constantly feel that I'm being walked over and that nobody is going to be considerate of my needs and desires. On every date I've been on, nobody has ever made attempt to try to convince me to go out with them again. I've been the one that had to determine (A) do I want to see this woman again and (B) if yes than make the attempt to convince her by building chemistry.

            Its always my schedule that gets disrupted by the dates. I've been the one that has to make adjustments. I've had too many requests for delays, last minute cancellations, and requests for plan changes. I feel that I'm being walked on like a push over. I remember one remarkable almost date, where my date asked for a change of plans only a couple hours before the date. I agreed and then she cancelled on me. Likewise with the date that I was supposed to have this Sunday. I previously asked to go out last Sunday. She said she couldn't because of work and asked for a delay. I agreed and then cancelled on me because of work. Its just all the same.

          • Continuing, at this point I'm feeling very burned and used. At the same time, I'm lonely and frustrated so I have to just solider on. I want to go on date where the woman makes at least a slight attempt to make me feel desired and wanted and does some of the chemistry building herself rather than sitting in judgment. I'm exhausted of dates where I sit and lesson to a person complain about their day or life like a psychologist. I'm sick of all the requests for delays and last minute cancellations that I have to accept in good humor. There isn't much I could do about but it sucks. I have feelings to.

          • You do realize that *you* have complete control over whether your schedule gets disrupted, right? There's nothing wrong with saying, "No, unfortunately that time/day won't work for me, I'm available these other times instead, let me know if those work for you" if someone asks to change plans in a way that is inconvenient for you. In fact, I suspect you'd come across as more appealing if you set a few boundaries rather than bending over backward to accommodate every woman completely. A guy who's *acting* like a pushover is going to be seen as a pushover, which isn't an attractive quality.

            Maybe it means you'll go on fewer dates, but the women you'll be eliminating? Will be the women who are least enthusiastic to actually meet you anyway. So all you're doing is sparing yourself some of those dates you already find so depressing–that might actually be a good thing!

            As to other people making an effort to convince you to go out with them again… If they aren't that interested in you, then why would they? The problem isn't that you're meeting inconsiderate people, it's that you're meeting people who aren't that into you. Which I agree is frustrating. But I think across all the time you've been talking about this, people have given you lots of suggestions and you've basically tossed out every one, so I'm not sure what you expect us to tell you now.

          • Then do what the Doc suggested; lower your standards. You have made it very clear in these comments that you only go for top-shelf women. If you are so desperate to be pursued, to have women fawn over you, to have a sexual partner… then lower your physical standards and see what happens.

          • You first.

          • Robjection says:

            Playing the "You first" game doesn't really get anyone very far, y'know.

          • I've decided to be happy without a relationship. I've decided a relationship, any relationship, isn't worth it unless I actually enjoy it, so I strove to change my attitude instead. If you are sitting there refusing to change either…. you won't lower your standards, and you won't let go of the idea that you can't be happy and satisfied in life without one…. that's your problem.

            Paradoxically, I don't need to lower my standards, because I am not desperate enough to need a relationship no matter the cost.

            …. Also, I don't continuously point out how I am "only" satisfied by really hot, attractive people like Lee does.

          • It's okay when anyone does it, as long as they're willing to accept that their current standards may mean they don't find anyone. Marty's accepting that, because she's happier without a relationship than with one that doesn't meet her standards. This seems pretty straightforward to me.

          • Gil, seriously, shut up. Marty is the last person you should be accusing of "holding [out for] some perfect man"–right here in this thread she's talked about how it seems *no one* is interested in her, which is why she's decided to stop stressing about dating, and she's discussed her difficulty getting attention from *any* guy many times in the past. You're basically kicking someone who's already down, and there's no excuse for that. Especially when Marty's original comment to Lee wasn't remotely hostile, unlike this one you're making to her.

          • Most women have much lower physical standards than men do.

          • What!?!? Since when?

          • dualityheart says:

            Women are more likely to be socialized to take other things than appearance into consideration. For example, having similar interests, being funny, having great conversation skills, and smelling good (well, at least for me, a dude has to smell right- not like perfume but his actual, physical scent). It can be other things, like the sound of his voice (I prefer deep voices, but I once dated a guy with a nasally lady-sounding voice).

            Men, on the other hand? They tend to have a "type" and don't like venturing outside of that type.

            At least, that's my experience. It may be socialization or it may be inherent, but all I can tell you is that it's a trend I see on a regular basis.

          • I think it is mostly socialization. I haven't seen anything sound to suggest it is inherent and there is some good evidence to how much socialization can warp men's standards. Studies have shown that men's higher physical standards tend to be linked to their tendency to view women as objects and other studies have shown that socialization and social influence plays a huge part in how much individual men view women like objects.

            Plus it is hard to argue something is inherent when it is only a vague trend, not a sound rule. Plenty of women have high physical standards. Plenty of men care more about other aspects of their partners.

          • NO they do not- some women look better than their male counterparts because of make up/dresses not because they are actually goodlooking

          • You need to remember that it's not the other person's fault for not liking you. This is the internet, and tone, attitude, and intent are really hard to discern just from someone's words alone. But, if any of the attitude that you show here shows up on dates, it's not surprising that women haven't reacted as positively as you would've liked. Desperation is an incredibly scary trait to recognize in others, because it can mean a lot of potentially awful things. You've put some much pressure and so much focus on this one aspect of your life, it's not surprising that you're desperate. And I would honestly be shocked and amazed if you were able to hide this completely during a date. I would be shocked and amazed if anyone could hide as much desperation as you have.

            It sucks to be lonely. It sucks to not have someone to share intimate moments with. A lot of people have suffered through that pain in their lives. I certainly have. But being able to get over it is what separates the people who let that pain define them, and those who choose to define themselves.

            Oh, and to my original point – I was pointing something out to you. Good that you already knew it. Doesn't change the fact that while you put so much emphasis on wanting physical contact and so little emphasis on whom that contact will be with, getting said contact increases in difficulty. You know the problem; work on fixing it.

          • eselle28 says:

            These women aren't using you. They're not making things easy for you, but they're not using you, either. After all, they're not getting anything out of these interactions except for exchanged messages.

            There's a reason why so many romance novels and porn plots center around someone being pursued aggressively by an extremely attractive partner – it's not something that happens very often in real life. Of the people I know who are most insistent that others pursue them and do the legwork in the early stages of the relationship, several are women who are dating or married to men who are quite a bit older and less attractive than themselves and a very conventionally attractive man whose tendency to date average-looking women is so pronounced that he's been called out on it a few times (plus, he was involved with not-exactly-gorgeous me for awhile). Flipping that around, most of the guys who have really gone after me have been ones who I either wasn't interested in at all or who I became interested in, but only after a period of being a little unsure.

            I think it's reasonable to expect that the women you meet up with not be so finicky that they expect you to totally cater to them, but looking for the opposite means you're going to have to go looking for the women who are feeling a little desperate themselves and who haven't been on a date in awhile. That will probably mean asking out women who are a little older than your ideal, or a little plainer, or a little frumpier. Since I don't recommend anyone date people they're not generally interested in, I think you might strive for some kind of equal back and forth level of interest – which might require you to take a step back and be less eager to accommodate inconvenient requests.

            (That being said, I notice that both of your suggestions for dates with this most recent woman were on Sunday, and that her excuse both times was work. Is it possible Sunday is just a horrible day for her to meet? You haven't said what she does for a living, but there's a world of difference between, "Um, I really should go into the office and catch up on some paperwork," and, "Ugh, sorry, my boss called. They want to schedule an extra server for Sunday brunch and saying no really isn't an option." If you're asking out someone who's in the service sector or who works part-time and who doesn't get as many hours as they'd like, that's pretty much par for the course, even if they're madly in love with you.)

          • thebutterfly says:

            A quality sex worker? I am not going to tell you "sex isn't all that amazing" because that's BS and frankly insulting (IMO), but there are definitely ways and ways to get your sexual needs met outside of the society-approved LTR.

          • If that's the point you're at, I suggest pursuing sex over a relationship. Like, if both happen, yay awesomeness. But if you're so unhappy about your dry spell, then maybe Craigslist or the equivalent for NSA sex seeking would be a better bet for you than online dating.

          • My dry spell has been my entire life and I have no idea where to even begin looking for NSA sex for people with limited experience.

          • Trooper6 says:

            BiSian just told you were to start looking. Craigslist Casual Encounters.

            Lucky for you, you have a hook, you are a virgin. You can put up an ad saying "Virgin guy looking for a woman to show him the ropes NSA" see if anyone picks you up on that. That is definitely a fetish for a bunch of women.

          • Other people pointed out that there are some definite problems with using Craiglist and that you have to seriously guard against being spammed or worse.

          • And yet again, you're dismissing a suggestion without even trying it.

            It sounded to me like it was pretty easy to figure out the spammers–you email them, you get a link to a paid site. All you have to do is… not pay for the site. Pretty easy not to get scammed. Set up a separate Yahoo email to use for that purpose so you don't have to worry about spammers getting a hold of your main one. Some people have pointed out problems, but other people have said Craiglist worked for them. What do you honestly think is the worst thing that could happen if you gave it a shot? That's any worse than what could happen meeting some random woman off a dating site?

          • hobbesian says:

            it's perfectly reasonable to dismiss such a suggestion if he doesn't feel it's worth his time to pursue.

          • So, I stop talking to you about your issues, and now you have to come criticize what I'm saying to other people about their issues?

            Lee has been posting about the same problem in the comments of almost every article DNL posts for months. Many people, including me, have made a huge variety of suggestions. I am not aware that he has tried any of them. Usually he immediately dismisses them or ignores them. And yet he keeps coming back and complaining that there's nothing he can do. This is why I get a little frustrated.

            He doesn't have to try anything people suggest, but it's hard to listen to someone complaining about how awful their situation is and that they have no idea what to do when they've actually been given dozens of ideas of what they could do.

          • hobbesian says:

            well if it's anything like some of the suggestions I've been given.. then i can understand why he's not tried any of them.

            I mean, don't get me wrong, you're being perfectly reasonable to get frustrated. I'll tell you why I don't follow the advice given to me 99% of the time, since I cannot speak for Lee.

            Every piece of advice that I've yet been given on this site has essentially boiled down to telling me that if I want to achieve something I have to 1) Change my personality, 2) take risks that I'm not comfortable with taking, and 3) then be happy even if I still didn't achieve anything.

            About the only thing I've yet mentioned on this site that got any kind of positive reinforcement was when I said I had joined a fencing class, which meant I had spent money.

          • People have given Lee lots of basic practical suggestions which do not involve any major risk or changing his personality. If you'd like to get an idea of it, you can skim back through the archives; it's come up a lot, like I said.

          • Hobbesian, I know you've gotten quite a lot of pushback, but over the time you've been posting here and on the forum, you've also gotten a fair bit of advice, encouragement and sympathy that doesn't involve any of those three things. I'm not saying that any of it's necessarily good advice – we're just random folks on the internet, not professional advice-givers – or that you need to follow any of it, but I'd really appreciate it if you could try to remember that we have in fact been giving quite a lot of it and doing our best to be helpful.

          • johnny doe says:

            how come hobbesian doesn't get a job? How does he support himself?

          • Instead he's spending his time here writing out increasingly long comments and not taking any advice. Doing something active-ANYTHING active-would be a huge boon.

          • hobbesian says:

            No I agree. It just may not be anything that anyone has thought of so far.

            For instance, I've joined a fan club for my favorite soccer team, we meet every time there is a game on at a specific pub and watch the game. Doesn't help me meet women though I'm afraid, but at least it's getting my photo on the pubs facebook and twitter pages, and might help me meet some people in town.

          • If you're meeting more guys, many of them presumably know women, so over time your wider social pool will likely come to include more women, so it may even help with that in the long run!

          • hobbesian says:

            In theory yes, but in practice I doubt it. Most of these guys I'm watching soccer with are old enough to be my dad.. so unless they have daughters I doubt they know too many girls my age.

          • Quite likely a lot of them probably do have daughters, then, especially since your area sounds pretty get-married-and-have-children-y. And nieces, younger coworkers, mothers' friends' masseuses, and so forth. Expand a social pool far enough, it's likely to increase the number of women you encounter sooner or later. Not a direct strategy, for sure, but often indirect ones turn out to be the most effective.

          • hobbesian says:

            We will see, one of them owns the pub anyway so he's got waitresses.

          • hobbesian says:

            People, this was a Joke, since some of you obviously didn't get that.

          • Intent doesn't make it okay.

          • hobbesian says:

            … Is there a rule against dating waitresses or something that I didn't know about?

            Did I miss a memo? They work there, if I hang out there a lot I might get to know them, they might be interesting people, What is wrong with pointing that out?

            This forum sometimes I swear.

          • No, not at all. I just didn't like the way you worded it.

          • hobbesian says:

            Oh, well in that case, quit being a pedantic little shit and get a life.

          • I don't think it's helpful for you to think of your football fan club friends as potential date getters for you. I especially didn't like the "he's got waitresses" comment. I'm not telling you to agree with my statement. Feel free to downvote my stuff if you disagree with it.

          • Hi there! You seem to be a misogynist! Who gets very bratty when informed that he is a misogynist! But you are a misogynist, and perhaps you are alone because women don't like misogyny!

            ~*~The More You Know~*~

          • Use a spare e-mail account with a blank contact book. Make sure your computer has virus, spyware, and malware protection. Delete any e-mails that look or sound suspicious. Carry pepper spray. Meet anyone you do contact in a public place the first time. Tell people where you'll be and when to expect you back when you first meet them.

            I've honestly had more problems with guys and very rarely girls I've been on regular, met-in-RL dates with than people I've connected with via the internet, but that's the usual safety gambit. It should cover your bases.

          • Lee, I have personally had multiple casual encounters from Craigslist. I've never had a dangerous encounter and I've never been scammed…more often than not, I get some email exchanges that don't really go anywhere. But I've also had a few great encounters…and if what you want is to have some casual sex and you don't want to go to a sex worker, Craigslist has worked for me.

            My only tips are, meet in public first and don't send naked photos that have your face attached.

          • just use an email account separate from your regular email, and you should be fine. What is the worst thing that can happen? You get sent a link? OMG! not a link! Just delete the email and move on. I feel like an issue here is laziness in trying things that you need to address.

          • I think Dan Savage has given advice about this subject, specific websites, etc… but I am far too lazy (5 beers will do that to a person) to look through his archives at this moment.

          • Hannah Solo says:

            Lee, have you thought about hiring an escort? Seriously, that's what we're here for. Physical intimacy, talking/venting, companionship.

          • Yes but there are several problems with that. The main issue is that hiring an escort is illegal, and while chances of getting caught are low, the downside of getting caught are great. Even ignoring the legal penalties, I'd basically sever many of my relationships if it came out that I used an escort. The other issue is that I have no idea where to find a reputable escort and this is a person I'd be putting a lot of trust in, especially for the first encounter.

          • thebutterfly says:

            I'm fairly sure it's not all that hard to find a quality escort, some fairly quick googling should tell you where to start looking at least.

            Yes there is a potential obvious downside, but there is also a very clear downside to not getting your very real needs for sex and intimate touch met. I think we can see those downsides right in this thread.

          • johnny doe says:

            don't go for an escort. That will make you feel even worse than you do now, lol

          • I like how only men hire escorts- regardless of the gender of the escort- and women have the gall to suggest that their sex drives match or even exceed men's (as a group)

          • 1) Women do hire escorts. Not as often as men, sure, but…

            2) How we express sexual desire can be restricted by societal mores and controls regardless of how much we actually feel, so no particular behavior is indicative of what's going on mentally/emotionally, unless you create a society where attitudes about women having NSA sex are the same as for men.

            3) I have never seen anyone here suggest that on average women actually have more of a sexual drive than men do.

          • But the fact that men hire escorts way more than women proves that they have a harder time getting sex than women, as if they could get sex as easily as women they would hire escorts as often as women. And I like how Lee was implicitly insulted- as he clearly is not good enough for any woman he might as well spend a small fortune to get a similar facsimile from an escort Only when he has further bettered himself into some sort of superstar should he even bother trying the dating scene and if he thinks otherwise to many in this board he is a chauvinist pig worse than Hitler.

          • eselle28 says:

            You can be desperate or you can be picky. If you try to be both, you're going to come across as a bit of a whiner. In this case, Lee says he's desperate for sex and can't be patient about dating anymore, but he also has a pretty limited age/appearance/personality range of women who he finds appealing and may require some time to meet one who feels similarly about him.

            Personally, I'd recommend patience or being more open-minded about who to date and how to meet them, but I can see how an escort is a solution that comes to mind when someone says he wants to have sex with a younger, conventionally attractive woman right now.

            And of course he's not a chauvinist pig. He's just stuck in that ugly place where he can't make all the different things he wants line up with each other. There are certainly some women here who have had to go through that stage.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            And I'm guessing you're not actually here for, y'know, discussion. Call it a hunch.

          • Even without the Godwin's law bit going on here, this is just silly. Lee has been seeking advice on dating here for some time, and people here have given him a wide range of suggestions on how he might improve his dating success; we've also given him a lot of encouragement – certainly no one has told him he's not good enough for a woman.

            So, he's finding that dating has not been meeting his needs, despite our attempts to help. He's also ruled out seeking a casual sex partner, and he's indicating that he wants sex ASAP. What else would you have us suggest? If you have another idea, I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you'd suggest it instead of just criticizing the people who are already doing their best to give him suggestions.

          • Hollywood Chick says:

            Oh yes we do hire escorts. I'm a woman in LA who works behind the camera in film, and I hire hot male escorts all the time. Why?

            THE PAY IS SO THEY WILL GO AWAY AFTERWARD.

            It's not for the sex. That's as sad and lackluster as you are. It's so I don't have to dodge texts and calls after it. You'd be surprised how hot you men get for a woman who palpably doesn't give a. :)

            I may hire one TONIGHT

        • Omg "privileged"?? Tell us more about the privilege and oppression relationship between those who are currently having sex and those who aren't.

    • hobbesian says:

      I've never considered a partner to be the totality of lifes socialization either, but there are some things your friends just cannot participate in.. well unless their all Bi/poly and you're into that kind of thing.

      My point is, there are simply activities which you don't go to with 'Friends'. Yes, you can go off as a group of people and have dinner, you can go to a show with a friend.. but honestly some things are just better with a romantic partner rather than a platonic partner. It changes the way people interact with you, it changes the feel of the venue, it changes stuff.

      But, to be honest, if it comes down to going out alone, or not going out, I chose to not go out. I don't enjoy going out to eat alone.. I don't enjoy going to concerts or plays or anything alone. About the only place I'll go alone is to watch soccer, but thats because the place is filled with other people supporting the team I like. instant camaraderie.

      as far as your grandmother.. I hate to be mean about this.. but the keyword as to why she is disqualified is right in her title "Grand-Mother" She already fulfilled her biological imperative. further she had family who stayed in touch and talked to her.

      • "fulfilled her biological imperative"…What are we computers? Okay computers wouldn't have biological anything, but you get the point.

        • hobbesian says:

          Seriously?

          Wow, so it's alright for people to equate us to Bonobos when they are trying to shoot down Monogamy.. but it's not okay for me to use the phrase "Biological imperative"…

          • Dude, you even admitted you were being "mean" to say that in your own comment. And now you're offended that someone took issue with it?

            Anyway, I'm pretty sure none of us have said that people are disqualified from monogamy because bonobos, which is the equivalent of you saying someone is disqualified from discussions of loneliness because she "fulfilled her biological imperative".

          • hobbesian says:

            No I've seen the bonobo thing brought up PLENTY of times "Well.. those apes don't have long term pair bonds.."

            And yes, I parsed my sentence with that because it is a bit mean to simplify human existence to such crude concepts.. but the concept is still the issue. Loneliness is psychological, "Biological imperative" is physiological. It's possible to be IN a relationship and still be lonely. Just as many people on here have said, repeatedly, that it's possible to be alone and not be lonely..

            But my point was that she had already had children and thus had family, and then grandkids, to add depth to her life. Not everyone is so lucky. And to cut you off, YES *I* have friends, but I'm not strictly speaking only about me here.. other people don't have relationships, friends, family, any of it.

            It doesn't matter what I say though does it? I'm not toeing the party line so I'll get downvoted or shouted at. Some people just aren't "happy" but it doesn't mean we deserve to be Lonely because of that.

          • I'm sure there are people who feel that way, but I don't think any of the specific people who you've been speaking to agree. I actually think evolutionary psychology is held in fairly low esteem by most people who comment here – both the monogamous and the polyamorous ones.

          • Hobbesian, I'm not saying you have to be happy. Hell, feel however you like.

            Now, there's the problem when you say fulfillment, happiness, whatever, HAS TO involve a romantic partner. Because frankly that might not happen, for me, for you, for quite a few people in the world.
            Or I could find someone awesome, and then lose them to a sudden accident or illness. Or I could fall out of love. Or he could leave me for someone else. Shrug. Life is long and famously unpredictable.
            Point being, there's no guarantees for any of this. So tying your happiness to finding love is…well kind of precarious. All of the eggs in one basket as they say.

          • "Some people just aren't "happy" but it doesn't mean we deserve to be Lonely because of that."

            No one has said that people "deserve" to be lonely if they're not happy. What people have said is that it's going to be harder to find social companionship if you're not just not happy, but overtly negative about things all the time. Not because you don't deserve social companionship, but because people don't tend to enjoy social companionship from negative people. Do you really think it's unfair for people to prefer to hang out with and date people with whom they'll find the experience enjoyable?

          • hobbesian says:

            It boils down to the same thing, regardless of how you phrase it. I don't like to hang out with people who *ARE* happy. I consider them obnoxious and oblivious to the way the world actually is, but I have to do it on a daily basis, and if I want to date someone I pretty much have to put up with it, and with them inevitably telling me that I'm too negative or depressing..

          • If you like hanging out with negative and depressing people, then why don't you spend your time with those people instead? You're far from the only one who exists in the world.

            If you behave in a way that *all* the people around you don't enjoy, you can't expect *all* of them to magically change their tastes and preferences to accommodate you. For one thing, that's pretty much impossible (just like you can't decide that losing your job is going to make you happy, they can't decide that being around someone who's constantly negative makes them happy). For another, it's unreasonable to expect vast numbers of people to change for your benefit rather than just seeking someone other than you who fits what *they* want better. Why would you expect them to change for you when you're not willing to change for them?

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't expect them to change for me, but I'm also not looking for a negative or depressing person because I'm not negative or depressed, I'm just looking for someone who doesn't treat the world as if it's all made of sunshine and rainbows all the time.

          • And you're saying that everyone around you treats the world as if it's all made of sunshine and rainbows all the time? I have never seen such a place in the entire world.

            The vast majority of people I've met in my life are in that middle place between "sunshine and rainbows" and "negative or depressing"–just generally okay, not amazing, not awful. It sounds to me like what you consider "normal" is what other people consider "negative or depressing" (or else… why do they inevitably tell you you're too negative or depressing?) and what you consider "sunshine and rainbows" is what other people consider a normal level of well-being (or else… why would you have so much trouble finding someone who isn't that way?).

          • And, seriously, how can you claim you're not a negative person? Just a small selection of things you said, sticking to this particular comments section:

            "I don't like to hang out with people who *ARE* happy. I consider them obnoxious and oblivious to the way the world actually is."

            "the things I consider the most important, those, those always get fucked up."

            Someone asks how you can know the future will turn out bad, you reply: "Simple: all evidence points that way."

            "I view my life as basically over at 45."

            In what way are any of the above even neutral statements? They look pretty blatantly negative to me, and they seem to be your primary attitudes.

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't see anything inherently negative about those statements. They are simply true.

          • I don't think you understand what "negative" means. Something being true wouldn't stop it from being negative. Negativity is about focusing on the bad or worst aspects of a situation or idea, true or not.

            e.g., Looking at the future, a positive statement would be, "We have lots of time for better things to come!"; a neutral statement would be, "Who knows what the future will bring, we'll have to wait and see," and a negative statement would be, "There are so many horrible things that could happen." All of those statements are true. Someone who continually says things along the lines of the latter is talking in a negative way nonetheless.

          • hobbesian says:

            See, If lots of good things happened, then I'd probably assume that good things were going to continue to happen into the future. If neither good nor bad things happened, I'd assume it would pretty much continue that way.. but considering mostly bad stuff happens.. I'm pretty confident that bad stuff will continue to happen.

            I still don't see how being realistic about my chances is negative. I'm not going to set myself up for crushing disappointment by only believing positive stuff is going to happen, or that bad stuff won't continue to happen.

          • That sound like a rather…simplistic model of prediction.

            Being realistic about the chances that bad things will happen is probably sensible, if your solution is to make sensible preparations and develop good coping skills to handle them when they do.

            If being realistic means assuming that everything's going to be terrible, and avoiding opportunities, rejecting human connections and developing an attitude of resentment and hopelessness about it, I don't quite see how the outcome benefits you any more than throwing yourself into things with blind, stupid optimism and being disappointed would.

          • hobbesian says:

            This is far less effort. Those other things require me to actually do something, all this requires me to do is sit here and let the bad stuff happen.

            I mean, I look at it this way, the universe has had 28 years to right itself and stop throwing bad stuff at me, it's done it once or twice, and then it's almost as if some one realizes.. holy shit I was copping z's on the job and this kid's life doesn't suck right now.. well ho ho ho this cannot stand! and then the rug gets pulled out from under me again.

            It's happened, without fail, every time my life starts going in the direction I want it to go in.. I mean hell, just in the last 18 months I've lost my Car, my Fiance, My Job, and because of my mom's health deteriorating, and my financial situation I've had to move back in with her. It took me years to get all those pieces put together just right.. but someone had to come and kick my sandcastle over and now I've got to start all over again.

          • So it's not that you believe the universe is random, but that it's directed by a malevolent force?

            I'm sorry all these lousy things have happened to you, and I can understand why you're feeling so angry and discouraged.

            But don't you think that expending the energy to try and set yourself up to better cope with future bad things might be worth it in the long run? Let alone try and create some good things for yourself? Even if the universe truly is out to get you, it's got to sleep sometime.

          • hobbesian says:

            Entropy basically dictates that shit will fall apart, no matter how much duct tape you use. But I believe Entropy is at it's core hateful due to it's opposition to order. Does that make sense? It's not a directed malevolence.. it's just.. malevolent by default.

          • Is order a benevolent force, then?

          • hobbesian says:

            Order is… tricky. Because on the one hand you can have Order and do really really really horrible things to achieve it. After all the fascists made the trains run on time.. On the other hand… Sodium Chloride is tasty table salt when it's components are both toxic.

            So Order can be both malevolent and benevolent depending on a case by case basis.

          • If so, then couldn't entropy also sometimes be said to be a benevolent force, when it's breaking down malevolent order? …this is getting REALLY abstract here.

          • hobbesian says:

            Welcome to my brain.

            Entropy is never a good thing, and really it's simply benevolent order replacing malevolent order. Say, the allied forces liberating france and ending nazi germany was a type of order removing another type of order using vast amounts of entropy (bombs & death) to do it.

          • You have quite a unique take on things.

          • hobbesian says:

            That's probably the most polite way anyone has ever said that to me..

          • It's over-logicing and under-emotionaling. Vulcan-izing yourself.

            Seen (and done) this before.

          • hobbesian says:

            I'm way more Bones Mccoy than Spock..

          • I don't think this particular topic is much about logic or emotion. I just think his take on anthropomorphized entropy and order are interesting!

          • hobbesian says:

            Here is an example. The Old Marvel Transformers comics.. has two gods. Unicron (The god of chaos and entropy, he litterally eats the entire universe since only through that can he put everything back the way it was before the big bang ruined the perfect point in the void) and Primus the god of Order. Primus builds the Transformers.. to fight Unicron.. but he makes two types.. and then pits them against each other so they get stronger through constant war. In other words.. Entropy is insatiable and Order is a bit of a dick.

          • Slightly off-topic, but IDW Publishing's actually taken up continuing that series

          • You are misunderstanding what entropy actually is. It has nothing to do with order and disorder in the macro-sense that you speak of.

            See here: http://www.science20.com/train_thought/blog/entro

            I do remember a better reference but not off the top of my head….

          • Negativity = expecting the worst. Therefore, if you expect the worst from life, you are being negative. That is the definition of the word. Whether it's realistic or not *does not stop it from being negative*. This is basic logic. You might as well be saying that you don't see how snow can be cold when it's also white. One does not change the other.

            I'm not even asking you to stop being negative. If that's how you feel most comfortable being, that's up to you. I'm just asking you to recognize that other people are seeing you as negative *for a reason*, not because they're stupid or unrealistic or some such. They see you as negative because you meet the definition of the word. If you don't agree with that definition, well, that's also up to you, but you should at least be intelligent enough to recognize that everyone else is going to go by the standard English definition, not the hobbesian definition.

            And if you can't understand even that much, then I don't see much point in continuing trying to reason with you.

          • hobbesian says:

            Then stop.

          • I intend to, after this comment. But I just want to point out one more thing. The awful things that have happened to you in the recent past, particularly losing your job, which led to a lot of other problems, did not happen through some malicious act of the universe. A whole lot of people have lost their jobs and gone into financial straits in the last few years. You know why? Because the US economy completely tanked, because a bunch of greedy CEOs and other business higher-ups decided to play with the market in a way that meant they won and everyone else lost. Because they had those "values" and "mindset" that you espouse–that all that matters is getting as much as you can, that it's never enough and you always need more. Yay capitalism!

            If you're going to blame something, you might as well put the blame closer to the right place.

          • hobbesian says:

            well regulated capitalism is better than the alternative.

            But if you're looking to join red faction direct or something.. I can't help you there sorry.

          • You have *control* over whether good things or bad things happen. Your issue is you are placing all value on the one thing that is primarily outside your control… a relationship. You are putting yourself into the horrible situation you are in.

            I used to think like you, until I realized that I have control over things like my job title and thus my income. Controlling these things means I could introduce lots of good things into my life, things that would make it more fulfilling and satisfying. Going back to school means I am again being mentally stimulated, which makes me happier. Adding onto my technological skills means I could angle for a pay increase or even get a better-paying job, thus being able to afford more sewing equipment (maybe I could open my own custom costume business on the side!), I can travel, I can go to more cons and have a dog so I'm no longer so lonely….

            I cannot control if a person loves me. If I put all of my focus on that, I would be miserable, because I'd not only be alone, but feel powerless to change it. Even with my uptick in attitude, I still feel powerless in changing it. So instead I am trying to focus on what I can control, and let that which I can't figure itself out.

            Ask yourself: why are you only placing value on the one area of life you cannot control? Are you afraid that if you take control in other areas, you will fail and only have yourself to blame? Are you lazy? What is behind your excuse of not trying to make a change in areas where you could?

          • Just want to say, I love your viewpoint Marty. It's definitely encouraging and happy-making. Virtual fistbump!

          • hobbesian says:

            The fact I cannot control is the reason it has to much value. Essentially speaking, I view not having a partner as a long term value judgement on me. I'm not worth enough to have as a partner, so no one has me as a partner. That's the reason it's so important.

            I can join a religion so long as I have a pulse, I can go to college so long as I can open the door, I can joy the country club if I can front the fees, but as you said, I cannot control if another person loves me or not. It's the one aspect of my life which is entirely dependant on another person. That's why it's so important.

          • Your theoretical romantic partners and their approval are not the magical keys to your happiness. No one wants to be dragged down by your inability to love yourself.

          • hobbesian says:

            Not even the remotest bit true. Personally I think I'm about the greatest person on the face of the planet. If I didn't love myself, I wouldn't be bothering with all the other stuff I'm doing. It's everyone else who seems to consider me worthless. Thats why it bugs me so much. I know how awesome I am, but I can't seem to get others to see it.

          • It's interesting that you say you think you're the greatest person on the face of the Earth and can't get why other people don't see it. It's the extremity which I find interesting, because confident/content/satisfied people do *like* themselves, but they rarely see themselves as the end-all-be-all. That is much more a narcissistic point of view… and ironically, depression/anxiety go closely hand in hand with narcissism.* I think your inability to take any other perspective that is not your own, and your extremest views of both yourself and the world, is telling.

            *This is not to say everyone who is depressed is a narcissistic, but that most people who are narcissistic are depressed.

          • hobbesian says:

            I just can't win. If I call myself worthless, I'm depressed. If I say I'm pretty cool, I'm also depressed!

            Which is it?

          • There is pretty vast middle ground between "I'm worthless" and "I'm about the greatest person in the universe". And I think that's what most of us would consider the most healthy place to be.

            BTW, what is it about yourself that you love and think makes you especially great? Not being snarky, just asking because how you get people to see that would depend on what that is.

          • That's because it isn't about what you say directly. Our view of you is shaped less by your direct statements and more by your views: believing suicide after forty-five is a sound idea; placing all of your worth as a human in having a relationship; lack of interest in being aware of other's emotions via body language unless it benefits you; etc. You have said a lot of concerning things.

          • Yes, you can't win existing in extremes. That's exactly the point. Saying "I'm the best person ever" is just as pointless as saying "I am absolutely worthless." There are degrees.

            You are big on truth and reality…. well, truth and reality very rarely exist at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Saying instead," I am depressed about my lack of a relationship, but these things are good in my life and I'm a cool person otherwise" is probably a much more accurate description of both yourself and your situation than "I am the most fantastic person but I better have a relationship or I will kill myself by 45."

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't think of them as extremes so much as binary. Yes/no, open/closed, eaten/uneaten.

            "We will either be victorious.. or in our graves"

          • Well in that case I guess you have to consider yourself victorious, regardless of what you dislike about your life right now, because you're clearly not in your grave. :P

          • hobbesian says:

            But against what did I win the victory, that is still to be determined.

          • Partners aren't assigned on the basis of your worth; generally, people get a partner based on if they connect with someone romantically. It's not actually a value judgement.

          • Saying something is true doesn't make it so. I think someone who insists their random observations and beliefs are fact is far more oblivious than someone who just happens to be happy and cheerful.

          • Yeah, I'd say you're the one who's oblivious to the way the world actually is. Also you are too negative and depressing. That's just a fact.

      • dualityheart says:

        I have never understood why people think that sex is so amazing to the point that nothing else should be prioritized over it. In my experience, sex is ok most of the time, but unless you find someone who is completely 100% compatible with your desires, there's always going to be something missing, and most people who do match your sexual tastes don't match much else (or may not be safe people).

        I've heard all the fucking stupid excuses already. I'm female, fat, older than 25, a total geek, and roughly zero casual sex experiences. I have only ever had two sex partners (one of whom is my spose). And I'm still totally ok with it. I even have a higher than average sex drive. So i understand the frustration. But after having sex the first time, I seriously wondered what all the hype had been about.

        Sometimes I think that this is really the problem with virginity. People with no experience act like it's so important because they don't have the experience. It's like kids who think that the adults have it easy because they get to go to jobs instead of school.

        Having sex or even breeding doesn't mean that you can't live a good life without a sexual/romantic relationship. Some people seem to think that having a relationship is forever. This leads to people taking one another for granted and often they lose the other person. Nothing is forever. Nothing is guaranteed. Until a person can learn to be at peace with their life, nothing that they experience or consume will fulfill them.

        • Agreed, so much. Nothing can be guaranteed in relationships and it's a terrible idea to make your romantic relationship the center of your happiness.

          • hobbesian says:

            I don't think it's any more terrible than making a Hobby the center of your happiness, or a TV series, or a comic book or anything else. At least the other person can reciprocate and also hopefully gain fulfilment and happiness out of a relationship..

          • To quote our fearless leader: How's that workin' out for you?

      • Omg evo-psych. Are you also a redditor?

  22. . . .begins . . . 8(

  23. hobbesian says:

    *School part time

  24. Here, I've solved everybody's dating problems:
    http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ly8065S5051r9nw

  25. Thanks, Doc. I really, really needed to read this today.

  26. DrThemoWorm says:

    Not only would I get ass-pats and ego boosts, I'd also get any platitude/cliche bit of advice you can think of. "Don't worry, you're a great guy, you'll find someone!," "There's someone for everybody, just be patient," "Don't chase after love, let love come to you!" etc etc etc.

    It's gotten to a point where I don't really talk to anybody about my (lack of a) dating life. I tend to seek out sites like this one and see if maybe I can get an insight that could possibly help me grow and become something desirable to someone.

    Moving elsewhere wouldn't work, I think. I've already got a roommate who has nowhere else to go and I just got a new job. Maybe just attending something in Ft Worth or Dallas on my days off?… That's no guarantee of meeting people, but I guess it's better than either being at home or at work.

    • dualityheart says:

      You know what? Finding a person to pair off with is a full freaking time job. It was actually a very specific goal for me- Find someone compatible for a long term relationship/marriage/kids before 30. And I've basically fulfilled that goal. But at the same time, it wasn't effortless. People can MAKE it look effortless, but it doesn't make it so.

      The complexity of human interaction, from meeting, to friendship to more than friendship but not quite sexual to sexual to relationship to long term relationship to living together and pretty much married to engaged to married to married and probably having a kid or two is long. And beyond that? There's married with babies, with toddlers, with school age kids, with teens with young adults, empty nest as the kids go to college, dealing with Advanced Age health problems and changing bodies and on and on. NOTHING is static, even if you stay with one person your whole life. There is really no time in a relationship where you can go "ah, well now I can just treat you like shit and take you for granted and never think of you or do things with you because I got that ring on your finger" and have everything be fine. All relationships require careful tending to stay healthy and continue.

      When I hear people (not you specifically, but people in general) complaining about how they've been waiting around trying to get someone to make the first move, or talking about how people need to come to them like they're some kind of fucking flower and potential relationship partners are pollinating bees, it makes the bile rise in the back of my throat. I worked hard to get where I am today. Not all of my endeavors paid off, and I have had some bad break ups, abusive boyfriends, and being raped really sucked.

      But unfortunately, in order to journey towards great happiness, there is also some suffering involved.

      This is how I have always viewed my life, even if I do the same motions each day- it's a journey. And that journey is the one and only travel that I will ever get. So even if it sucks and it hurts and it feels like shit, I'm going to reach for my goals. Because that takes courage, and courage is a skill.

      So the question doesn't become whether or not you're a great person, or even if you are worthy of love- it's whether or not you are willing to build your courage, brick by brick, and build yourself into the person you want to be.

      Or if you're going to be that person sitting in the shadows complaining about how there is no fucking way you'll ever build a structure so high.

      Brick by brick, people. That's how it's done.

      • DrThemoWorm says:

        I want to make something perfectly clear: I never said that I shouldn't or that I'm not taking the initiative as far as relationships go. I simply said that (among other bits of worthless advice) I've been told more than once that I should "let love come to me." I mean, obviously, if all I do is pity myself and do nothing but be at home or go to work, then nothing productive shall happen.

        Here's the thing, I've had to piece together from the ground up on what it is that I need to do and what I need to be in order to be successful with the kind of women that I want to be with. I had no father figure that could put his beer down for a second and give me helpful advice, as I said most of the friends I've talked to about my frustrations haven't had anything particularly helpful to say, and there is a vast sea of contradictory, vague, broad and/or just downright crappy advice on the internet about what I should do and obviously it's kinda hard to know exactly which one is the one I should listen to. This site is as close as it gets to being helpful because at least it tackles issues specific to what I'm confused about (such as this article).

        I am learning, though. Don't get me wrong, like I said, I know that doing nothing has not been helpful and hoping I would meet someone at work (soon to be previous work as of next month, btw) has rarely worked out for me. I feel that being honest here with my frustrations will bring me closer to the truth than just holding out in fear of being ridiculed.

        Anyway, I know this rant of yours was directed at other people than myself as well, but I don't think it was quite as relevant to me as you thought.

    • Have you even read *one* of any of the other articles littering this site? YES, you young grasshopper, GO FORTH AND ATTEND THINGS.

      I spent about a year doing nothing but going to work and sitting at home. I did not meet people in this time. Then I got involved with volunteering for a pirate festival, joined an exercise group, and looked up old friends still in the area. I did meet people in this time. Some of them turned out romantically. The formula is not guaranteed, but it certainly slides the probabilities in your favor. Plus you get to exercise and develop cool hobbies, which increases your desirability anyway.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        Geez, that's a lot of anger over someone who just said they were getting crappy advice – like a lot of us have. Someone says all the advice they get kinda sucks and they're not sure what to do and you get *angry* at them? That seems kinda low.

    • Paul Rivers says:

      "Not only would I get ass-pats and ego boosts, I'd also get any platitude/cliche bit of advice you can think of. "Don't worry, you're a great guy, you'll find someone!," "There's someone for everybody, just be patient," "Don't chase after love, let love come to you!" etc etc etc."

      Yeah – honestly, I think part of this is advice meant for women being misapplied to guys – particularly visually attractive women, or women who have made dating into to much of a drama game (I've known women who are making an honest effort, not realizing that so much of the "advice" they're applying is hurting them).

      My family said that kind of stuff to me to, and I finally told them something like – "This is *really* unhelpful advice – clearly it's logically impossible for me to meet the 'right' girl when I'm not meeting any single girls at all" and they stopped with it already. Actually – at a certain point, I would deliberately ask my family for advice – and then if they didn't like something do *the exact opposite*. Not kidding. It actually worked a fair number of times. Sometimes your family is the reason why you are the way you are – both for good, and for bad (or just ineffective).

      "It's gotten to a point where I don't really talk to anybody about my (lack of a) dating life. I tend to seek out sites like this one and see if maybe I can get an insight that could possibly help me grow and become something desirable to someone."

      Oh man, lol, yeah that's a huge mixed bag to. There's so much of a mix of good and absolutely *terrible* advice on this site. I guess that's what you find anywhere with online advice though. As long as you're looking for "ideas" it's probably fine.

      "see if maybe I can get an insight that could possibly help me grow and become something desirable to someone"

      Do you really think you're undesirable to everyone?

      "Moving elsewhere wouldn't work, I think. I've already got a roommate who has nowhere else to go and I just got a new job. Maybe just attending something in Ft Worth or Dallas on my days off?… That's no guarantee of meeting people, but I guess it's better than either being at home or at work."

      The #1 rule for meeting women is – in order to meet the right girl, you have to come into contact with at least a few girls. That doesn't mean that you have to go where you're "supposed" to go to meet girls – I know a guy who met his girlfriend through world of warcraft – but just take a look at what you do and if *nothing* you're doing brings you into contact with single girls in your age range, then you need to drop something you're doing and start trying other stuff out. This doesn't necessarily mean "change everything you do!" – but *something* you do generally needs to bring you into contact with women, if you don't meet at least a few women then you're not going to meet a girlfriend.

      It would be nice if there were easy and simple answers to these kind of things, wouldn't it? Like a giant computer that matches people up or something… :D

      • DrThemoWorm says:

        I'll reply to all of this when I get home from work and will therefore not have to type it all on my phone :P

      • DrThemoWorm says:

        Yeah, my frustration mainly these days is that every time I meet a girl that I'm even remotely interested in, the ship's long since sailed before I even got a chance to say hello. So, get over it and move on, right? That's the thing though, it happens pretty much EVERY TIME unless she just recently broke up with her boyfriend (in which case I keep my distance for fear of being a rebound yet a third time even if it turns out that I wouldn't have been after all).

        So, here's the point where lots of people would be like "Just lower your standards, you can't expect to meet women if your standards are like super freakin' high, man!" (I don't know why I phrased that like a hippy just now), but that's just a vague statement in itself. First of all, do you even know what my standards are? Here's a hint: it's not the extreme everybody goes to (i.e. she must be Ms. Perfect Superwoman while I don't change ANYTHING about myself). Second, wouldn't it be fair to say that "lowering my standards" would likely turn out to be dishonest and hurtful to the women I end up dating? I might as well come out and say "You weren't my first choice, I don't even know that I like you, but you were willing to go out with me and that's good enough, I guess." All that gets me is a slap in the face and a date with my right hand.

        And for those reading this, no, I'm not looking for a relationship just to get sex. That was a joke I made in the previous paragraph, now calm down.

        Anyway, now that I've gotten a new job that pays me pretty much a lot more than I've ever made and well beyond what I need, along with a car that can actually take me places without me fearing its sudden demise, I can now actually go find things to do that would up my chances of actually meeting someone I'm interested in. I guess from here on out, it's learn by experience, right?

  27. Okay, branch off-question: let's say you've finally been able to wrap your brain around the idea of just living life, and letting love find you (if it does) and finding happiness where and when you can in other ways (pets, possessions, adventures, family, friends, whatever you prefer.)

    How do you deal with the external judgement of being single?

    The thing I am currently struggling with is OTHER people's reactions to my singlehood. There is this overwhelming idea that if you are single, then you are somehow broken. No one wants you, because you have no value. I've had about five boyfriends-four of them were huge jerks. Yet several of them are married, and I am not. I know for a fact that they look down their noses at me, believing they have "won," and are vindicated in how they treated me (read: horribly), because they found someone, and I haven't.

    It is really easy to let that slip into my brain and poison whatever independent happiness I have achieved. I think I am now dealing in a healthy fashion with the lack of a relationship, but the judgment and "told ya so" from my exes is really wearing me down. So how do you be okay with "being alone forever" when people are telling you that single means there's something wrong with you? (You're crazy/ugly/smelly, etc.)

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      There're a couple books that you might want to check out that are about the pressure that single people feel, even when they're happy being single.

      This one has been recommended by Dan Savage on his podcast: Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone, which is all about the mistaken impression that single people are inherently broken somehow.

      Another you might like: Party of One: The Loners' Manifesto

    • For one thing, I'd cut the particularly poisonous people out of your life. Anyone who looks down on you like that and is judging you and wearing you down, I have trouble believing they're contributing enough good alongside it to make staying friends with them worthwhile. Don't hang out with them in person; if you think it'd create drama to unfriend them online, just surreptitiously block them on FB or whatever. Surround yourself by the most supportive people you can.

      With the people who are bringing more good than bad into your life, can you tell them how important this is to you? When they make a comment about how sad it is that you're single or whatever, say something like, "I know you're worried about me because you care, but I really am okay being single right now, and it actually makes me a little sad when you bring it up. Can we take that topic off the table for now?" And then if they bring it up in future, redirect ("Let's not talk about that. Hey, how about that last episode of ____?").

      • Agreed. I mean if your ex's are giving you hell about being single it's best to stop hanging out with them.

        And keep in mind that life doesn't end after marriage. Just because someone is married doesn't mean they're happy. There are plenty of awful marriages and relationships and plenty of happy single people.

      • Oh I don't talk or hang out with any of them. It's stuff I hear through the grapevine… whispered things behind my back of "See, *I* knew she was crazy, and now I have a fantastic, beautiful, smart girlfriend/fiancee/wife, so that proves I was right" sort of thing.

        It also makes me wonder if they ARE right. My exes have two modes: either they forget they have dated me (really), or they despise me. What if you are single because something IS wrong with you?

        • eselle28 says:

          If you are, all you can do is pay attention to those things and move on.

          If people who you do like are relaying the information to you, I think you'd be completely reasonable to let them know you really don't want to hear about your exes anymore. Also, if you're only hearing about things through the grapevine, I think you might want to take the stories with a grain or a shaker of salt. Most people's lives aren't as shiny and perfect as they make them out to be, especially not when they're talking about their exes. I don't think it's healthy to imagine them in secretly horrible relationships, either, but I think you can remind yourself that most people's relationships are a little more complicated than they let come across. I'd say that in particular, it strikes me as a little odd for someone to go harping on about a "crazy" ex when it's been long enough ago for them to have gotten married or engaged and when their new lives are supposedly quite happy.

          • That's true I probably phrased that poorly. I mean there are no perfect people and there are no perfect relationships. And I really would question why someone who's happily married would still be complaining about an ex years later.

        • johnny doe says:

          ok, I'm going to keep this super real – the psyche of an ex who speaks badly – because if they are still talking about you after they got married – thats just strange. Pretending you never exist is more standard protocol – but to say things like you are saying, that makes no sense to me from a guy's perspective. I don't badmouth someone I may have went out with or whatever – if they are in the past, they are out of my mind. And if I am talking about them, good or bad. . .well i think thats somewhat unhealthy, cuz we aren't in contact anymore. I hope that makes sense. You don't really despise people after you go out with them, you just go with the flow and move on because it didn't make sense for whatever reason. If they're being dipshits and running their mouth long after you dated, it says way more about them than it does about you.

    • eselle28 says:

      Does anyone have any good short replies to, "So, are you dating anyone?…No? Why not?" or "You haven't found someone? Not with all the single guys around here?"

      I'm fine with brushing off comments and usually manage to avoid the topic by just not bringing it up, but some of my parents' friends are nosy.

      • "They all have STDs."

        It depends on what generation/age-group they're from, I guess.

        • eselle28 says:

          Very funny, Moose.

          I'd actually rather not get into it at all. The actual answer – that I don't find most of the men in town to be compatible in terms of interests or lifestyle and that I'm wary of doing anything that will tie me here too permanently – ends up being insulting at worst and inviting discussion at best. After all, the guys I'm talking about are their husbands and sons. Plus, I don't actually have a relationship with most of these people and don't feel I owe them any explanation. I guess I'd be looking for something along the lines of either an evasive, "Mmmmph. Uh. How about the weather?" or a, "How rude! Mind your own business!"

          • A cool "I'm not really looking to discuss my dating life" might work, or it might really not. I'm thinking Captain Awkward might have some good suggestions for this one, I think she's had a post or two about similar.

          • eselle28 says:

            That might work! And, that's a good suggestion. She has lots of good posts about telling other people to mind their own business. I should go looking through the archives.

          • Mrrrmmmmm. "Not what I'm looking for." "Not ready to settle down." "Get your boys checked for STDs pronto." "Just haven't found the right guy yet."

            That's extremely tricky.

          • eselle28 says:

            "Not ready to settle down yet," is somewhat true, but gets oddly hard for people to say after a certain age. There's a really strong assumption that if you're not ready to settle down by your 30s, especially if you're a woman, there's something really broken about you.

            "Just haven't found the right guy yet," is my usual go to. It's great 90% of the time, and 10% of the time seems to get interpreted as a signal that I'd be interested in blind date suggestions.

          • I wonder if you could use the same reason you've mentioned here before–that you're hoping/planning to move soon, so it seems unfair to get serious with anyone?

          • eselle28 says:

            I really wish that could be the case and I suspect it would work for a lot of people in similar situations, but no, that's the last thing I want to bring up in situations where my family members are present or that will get reported back to them. It's a major hot button issue in my family and tends to result in screaming fights, attempts to undermine my job search, and other drama.

            Also, it's a small town, and I'd really rather quit my job than be fired from it!

          • It sounds like they want to keep you there.

          • eselle28 says:

            Oh, yes. So I need to work around that when I interact with them.

          • I'm at a loss. Anything I can come up with seems more suited or acceptable coming from a guy when dealing with people like that (even family).

          • eselle28 says:

            I think I'm going to go with absurdist humor, like Marty suggests, and see how that works. I'm pretty good at deadpan jokes, so I can pull it off.

          • Urgh, sorry to hear that!

            Hope you're able to get out of there before too much longer! Sounds like a really difficult situation.

          • Just tell that 10% you've "been down that road before, don't care to repeat it" or something similar.

          • "I found your nose; it's in my business!"

            I always go for self-deprecating humor at such times, such as cheerfully saying," None of them seem willing to worship my cat. I mean, what else are they expecting in a relationship?" Or blankly staring and saying in the most monotone voice," My voodoo dolls don't seem to have kicked in yet."

            But such replies do need to be carried off with aplomb and involve some amount of gamble (ie, people taking you seriously.)

          • eselle28 says:

            You know, that seems like it actually might be the best option. I'll maybe have to practice that voodoo line. Being funny might change the topic entirely, and if they think I'm weird…well, they probably already think I'm weird anyway. I don't think I'd mind that so much. Thanks!

          • I love this so much!

      • I usually go with a broad smile, and a "Oh don't you worry about me, I'm just happy as a clam," works especially well with a bit of a southern drawl. :-) The keys are to show no signs of distress and to keep everything very vague, so they have nothing to hone in on and critique. I've been known to repeat this statement several times to someone until they get bored/frustrated and move on, but I'm not stuck justifying why I didn't get married at 20, so I still call it a win.

      • dualityheart says:

        Generally what works the best is to ask them a question.

        "No, but what have you been up to?"

        or

        "No, but I have been working on [insert interesting thing here].'

        Change the subject, get them talking about themselves.

      • "I keep trying to find someone who isn't intimidated by my incredible wit, beauty and success, but it's so hard. It's lonely at the top, but it sure is fun to look down on all the people below you."

        One of my favorite pastimes is coming up with snarky answers for my parents' nosy friends. Do it enough and they'll stop bringing it up.

    • Ultimately, you just have to endure the external judgment of being single and work or hope for a change in societal attitudes. Your asking for an answer to the relationship equivalent of theodicy, why do many good people have sucky love lives while bad people have great love lives?

    • I've been purposefully single before, and I have definitely gotten attitude about it from both men and women. I suggest answering stupid questions with stupid answers:

      Them: "Why don't you have a date to <event>?"
      You: "Because my current boy toy, while great in bed, is too stupid to bring out in public."

      Them: "Why are you still single?"
      You: "Why aren't you single? Last time I checked, I don't need anyone's permission to go for a drink with my friends or hang out with my boys. You, on the other hand…"

      Them: "Yea, I told ya you wouldn't find anyone after me."
      You: "Yea, you've kinda turned me off men in general… I think it was the smell…"

      • From men too, eh?

        • Actually, especially from men. There is something about a woman who does not have a man, but who vehemently does not want one, makes men go crazy. Like, how dare I exist in a female body without allowing someone access to it.

          • dualityheart says:

            That's kind of what being fat and not obsessing over my diet is like.

            People just CANNOT wrap their tiny little minds around a large lady who isn't starving herself, beating herself up or acting like she must apologize to everyone for having to look at her.

            Fuck that shit right there.

          • TELL ME YOUR SECRETS.

            Seriously, how do you do it? Deep down, I really kind of don't care about my weight anymore (I love cheese and bread, dammit) but I feel as if I constantly have to pretend I do, or apologize, or not eat that thing that would make me fat (which is pretty much anything but a salad with no dressing) in front of people. I feel like this is especially true in dating…. I can only "get away" with being fat by explaining in great length how I'm trying to fix it.

          • dualityheart says:

            The Fat Nutritionist has some great articles on this phenomenon:
            http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/eat-food
            http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/the-rule

            But I think the most useful part of learning how to block out "Jerk Brain" from telling you bad things is to focus on other people.

            Seriously.

            I started looking, really paying attention to other people when they went on diets. Watching them lose some weight, watching them go through the same struggle as when I used to diet. I watched them look smaller, go on and on about how they'd never again look the way they did….

            And then somehow, 6 months to a year later, they were back looking the same as they had before they had begun, maybe even a little pudgier.

            And I realized….I DO NOT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS PERSON WHO GAINED THEIR WEIGHT BACK.

            I did not love, or dislike or [insert feelings here] any more or less than I had already. Even when they lost weight, I didn't really change my opinion of them as a person, as much as I got annoyed at the Born Again Christian vibe I got from their diet lecturing to the world at large.

            So I thought to myself- hmm, that's likely how other people view me….

            And after awhile (I do sometimes have moments where I see someone I don't know staring at me and get uncomfortable, but generally it's because I'm wearing a silly hat or a geeky shirt or something), I started realizing that I didn't need to apologize for myself. That my choices are my own and I'm a fucking adult and fuck you if you don't think that I deserve to exist because if I don't deserve to exist than no one deserves to exist because NO ONE IS PERFECT.

            If "I wouldn't fuck you" or "oh god, I can't stand to look at you" is the worst thing that people have up their sleeves because of my weight, then seriously, fuck them. They can just NOT fuck me or NOT look at me- something tells me that their version of sex or company is not something I'd want anyway (and pretty much everyone I know who knows one of these people has confirmed my suspicions).

            Because, you see, these people are scared. Not of you. They are scared because when they see fat people (or people with nose hair or stubble or funny moles) and they worry about themselves. These people say things because they are terrified of being what they think you represent. It's all about themselves.

            That's why "No, but what are you doing" works well with people who are nosy about your relationship status. Most of them are either dealing with singleton issues of their own or they're having relationship problems. So they project their own fears and sadness onto you.

            Once I actually fully understood this, it was easy. The problem is, it does take awhile to understand fully because the jerk brain hates letting stuff go.

          • johnny doe says:

            you'd be surprised how many people have that opinion of a man. I love the powerful assumptions that go with statements that women and men make to me "you need to get out there and date!" as if I can go get a date with the same ease I can order a beer.

    • Legit. The next person who, after hearing that I'm still single, blinks and says BUT YOU'RE GORGEOUS!!! is getting a swift kick up the ass. Especially since I just told you how happy and fulfilled I feel as a graduate student.

    • johnny doe says:

      Marty, I can so so relate to on this point – I try to be single and happy, and get judged left and right by family, by society, everyone. My sibling tells me that I probably look weird to my company since I never bring any dates to company parties, and they want someone who reminds them of them at my age, and I better start worrying about marriage, otherwise it will be to late in a few years. How's that for trying to not think about it -)

  28. QuintDefenestration says:

    After trying to improve my dating life over the past couple years (and trying to follow your advice since your site's inception) I recently started thinking about putting it all aside for a while. I'm graduating, and even though in college I was The Smart Guy I didn't get into grad school, and I'm not really qualified for any kind of great job, seeing as how my college career was designed to be qualified for a professor track. So that means, in addition to not having any kind of success in the past few years, in the next few years I won't really have anything to offer anyone.

    The point is, all of the above made it seem logical to just set dating aside and focus on figuring out what the hell I can do with my life; dating didn't work out in college, and all signs pointed to it working even less for the near future after college. But I that decision *really* felt cowardly to me. Like I was giving up or something. But this post put setting dating aside for a while in a positive light. So thanks for that, I am definitely much less conflicted now.

  29. This Karen lady had an active sex life. Therefore, I'm not entirely sure why she was so miserable.
    Just another example of someone refusing to count their own blessings. if you're having sex often, you have no right to complain. Some of us can't even do that.
    Seriously, Doc, go tell her that for me.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      No.

    • Where does it say Karen was "so miserable"? The article just says that she wanted more than what she was finding, and she was trying to figure out how to fix that problem. What's wrong with that?

      I might as well say to you, well, you have a place to live and enough money to feed and clothe yourself. Many people don't even have that. You have no right to complain about not having sex too. Just another example of someone refusing to count their own blessings. :P

      (Except I wouldn't say that, because it's ridiculous to suggest that people should never want more than what they currently have if they currently have more than someone else in the world.)

    • With such a charming outlook on the world, I'm surprised sex partners aren't lining up for a turn.

    • Um, not sure exactly where it says she had an active sex life? There's a good bit in there about people objectifying her and trying to use her for sex, but the doc says she wasn't interested?

  30. Well, I am 30 years old, never had a girlfriend and only managed to have sex with prostitutes. Therapy, therapy and more therapy and nothing. Medicine and nothing.

    I wish I could rip my own heart out. Kill the need of love.

  31. beabillionaire says:

    Thanks for this article. I have never came to this site or read anything here, but I can really relate to this well thought out post.
    I have been what I consider "single" for pretty much 3 years now. Ever since I jumped ship from Philly to Tampa for a job opportunity. No relationships have worked out down here. And a bitter and resentment has built up inside me. I don't like it. I try to find reasoning in everything in dating now. I sit here and believe I have been cursed for leaving a girl in Philly and coming here. I think maybe God or the Universe lost me when I moved and has forgotten about me. I think the women here don't want to date, etc.
    I need to learn to be happy and cheerful without a relationship. I do have fun going out and all that, but the end of the day I am still.. alone.

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  1. […] Here’s the hard part: it may be that you will have to wade through a lot of false positives and bad matches to find the right relationship. Unfortunately, that’s a part of dating and something that everyone has to go through. Dating is, to a certain extent, a numbers game. Sometimes you have to sort through a lot of dross to find the gold, and there will be times that it feels absolutely hopeless. […]