By Brian McKay
I haven't formally dated since the summer of 2013. Wow. That's over 2 ½ years. Before that there was a period from 2010 to August 2012 as well. The relationship in the interlude was simply unexpected and never sought out to begin with. In the long past there might have been breaks of a few months; maybe up to 6 months if I was serious about it, but I was still always looking. There were a lot of relationships. Probably too many of those and too many flings as well. It all changed right about the time the recession stripped everything away from me.
This time has been very different. There hasn't been anything except a couple dates a year and half were disasters. At times it has been amazing, educational and freeing. Other times there have been short twinges of loneliness. Ok, sometimes it was more than a twinge but quickly suppressed by the next day.
Overall the learning wins out over the other experiences. So much so that I have become suspicious of those that are serial daters or always looking. You must wonder if they have ever taken the time to learn about themselves.
So what has been learned?
Me. That is what has been learned. Biology is fucking strong thing. When you remove it from the equation you start to see yourself as you really should.
I have had the opportunity to learn the things that I love about myself and the things that need improvement. Often I have expressed to others that I didn't actually find self love until 44 and 10 months. 44 and 10 whole months! That is a long time, but looking around there are so many others I see that haven't found it either. Some of them are much older. They might never...
Eventually I figured out that I have a person ethos, I am big on manners, courtesy to all people regardless of stature. I believe “class” is a word that should only be used to describe a place with desks where learning is expected. I am big on protecting others (sometimes to my detriment). Continual learning is important to me and inner peace is a big deal. The most important thing I have learned is that when we understand the essence of who we are and pursue simplicity the complex world makes much more sense.
Watching others in the mating dance from a distance also has yielded a ton of insight. In America seduction capital (the items and expectations required before the mating dance commences) matters for guys and not so much for women. Most of my gender does really stupid shit like walk around a bar looking desperately at attractive women and posting penis pictures to women they meet online (female friends have told way too many horror stories). Guys wear t-shirts with beer logos on them and still try to impress women. Women will gather in groups and evaluate the sole males roaming the territory they wish to own.
How many times have I just wanted to go up to a fellow male, give him a hug and say, "If you spend a $100 on clothes and let me coach you for two days, I can turn your dating life around."
Puffery is a big deal among the sexes. She wears uncomfortable shoes and he is wearing a tie on a Saturday night. Who the fuck dresses like they just came from the office on a Saturday night? I might give you a pass on a Friday, but on a Saturday I am calling your bluff. Men try to mimic the mating dance of birds of paradise like they have watched Planet Earth a 100 times. They often seem like the poor bird that keeps dancing to no avail though.
You also start to realize that is hard being single. There is a social stigma. I have actually been derided for it. It seems like the perfect insult for someone to toss when they decide they have a problem with you. The funny thing is that some of those people might be threatened by the fact that you are comfortable with yourself. Challenging the accepted norms outside of taking a vow of celibacy seems to do that.
You become really knowledgeable about the mating dance you have removed yourself from. Now I often offer dating advice to all my friends and it seems to work. Some take it but most choose to violate it because biology usually trumps strategy. All those dating books you read? Yeah, you still won’t act that way, and even if you do it won’t last past the first strong emotion taking you over. Once attraction takes hold you will give in to the irrational.
I am convinced that the only way you get control of coupling and life, is in that break where you get to know yourself. Just this last week, a female friend told me that while at a local bar women were dying to meet me because of an air of calmness and security. It was a huge compliment and honestly I didn’t know I had that going for me now. Taking time to get to know myself and love myself obviously shows.
So here is the kicker. As much as I would love a mate to share life with, I now see how the game is played. I personally don’t think I have the seduction capital that those biological instincts look for and that kills my chances. Also, after years of living in singledom I might have actually developed a bit of a fear of commitment.
It seems it is really good to get to know yourself and take time away from dating and relationships, just don’t take as long as I did.
Hmm… did I just accomplish the opposite of what I wanted too? Did I become a great guy to be with but now I don’t know how to use it? Maybe I made the mistake of going so far down the rabbit hole that I now only see myself as a constant work in progress and never quite yet ready.
Oh well. I might give coupling a another try in another 5 years or so when I know more about myself.
Brian McKay is a co-founder of zenruption. There are probably a ton of reasons he is single that he hasn't yet figured out. One is surely his squirrel watching addiction. Another must be that his car doesn't have automatic door locks.