Monday, June 30, 2008

On being single

Most of my posts over the last few months have mainly been space-fillers and I've struggled to come up with anything that I feel is either creative or interesting. I'm sure there are many reasons behind this, chiefly it's because I've been running around working hard, enjoying myself and not really paying that much attention to my online activities. There's also another reason, a subject that I've been avoiding bringing up because I wasn't too sure how I felt about it.

I've been single now for a grand total of 26 years. Obviously I wasn't expected to start dating as soon as I'd been born but it's a figure that I use which reminds me that it's been a long time. My thoughts on the subject had been kept quiet for a number of years, churning over and over inside my head until I was finally ready to talk to anyone. Until about two weeks ago, only two people in the entire world had discussed it with me - both are good friends who I could trust to not laugh or just give me the "It'll be okay" line. Recently I'd decided to be far more open about the length of my single-ness. This of course has turned on the tap of other people’s opinions and I've been getting very mixed messages.

Here's my take:-
The majority of the time I'm not bothered with being on my own, I have free reign to be where I want, when I want and spend time with who I want. There's no-one to answer to, no-one to feel guilty about spending time away from and no-one for me to worry about. This enables me to live in a happy, care-free manner which many people find to be one of my appealing features. Whilst noting that my time as a single guy is getting longer and longer (and complaining about it occasionally) I'm not entirely convinced that I have a want or a need for a girlfriend - years of singledom have created a very independent Curly. I'm not a repulsive person, quite the opposite in fact. Despite spending most of my time around male friends, I obviously spend plenty of time with women too. It amuses me when people who have been browsing through my facebook profile have asked why there are so many girls writing on my wall, or appearing in pictures with me. It perhaps give the impression that I'm running around humping every single girl I know - which I can assure you isn't the case. I've actually been called a 'male slag' on more than a couple of occasions - which creases me up further as I've just passed the year mark since I last slept with anyone. The memory of the last girl that I kissed has faded into the distance too. I like to think of myself as decent guy and I don't lead girls on if I'm not interested (unless I'm very, very drunk, I'll admit that), I'm just worried that I'm getting a little too fussy and unwittingly distancing myself from any kind of attachment. I also suffer from some incredibly bad luck, such as falling for girls who live overseas (or are about to move), girls who already have boyfriends or just the plain old girls that aren't interested in me.

So, having brought it up a few times, I was expecting at least one or two people to have the same opinion. It turns out that I'm the only one that thinks like that. Only one male friend has piped up on the issue and he wants to keep me single because everyone else is calming down and spending all their time with their respective girlfriends, so the majority of the below quotes come from women:-

"You just make friends with girls rather than aim for anything else"

"You're far too blatant when chatting up girls"

"You talk to some really lovely, beautiful girls but you don't show any sign of interest in them" (This surprised me, considering the above comment)

"I've seen the instant you get bored with talking to a girl, you just make your excuses and walk off"

"You're too good for just anyone, you'll find someone I'm sure"

While I would expect encouraging comments from my friends (and I very much appreciate them), none of them have really given me any reason for why I'm still single. One friend has offered to 'coach' me in the art of chatting-up girls as opposed to chatting-to girls (at which I'm an expert). Whilst another has promised to get me a girlfriend within the next year. The first saw me talking to a pretty blonde on Friday evening, her only 'coaching' was a single sentence afterwards saying "You didn't have a chance" (Which I argued, because I was actually trying to get away and she kept talking to me), the second is just about to leave the country for three months. I was glad that my friends would look after me like that, but became deflated after each event. I'm not convinced that I need 'coaching' either, I'm of the opinion that if you like someone and they like you, then there's no need to talk them into anything. Perhaps this is a failing.

I suppose this is just an exercise in writing out my thought process, but it's occupying more and more of my thoughts and I feel as though I should be doing something to rectify the situation. I just don't really know how to do it. I now go out less frequently (believe it or not), so the opportunities to meet girls decrease - yet I feel as though I'm involved in the social circuit enough to avoid online dating (I signed up for that once and found two girls I knew from the local pub listed - I didn't like either of them and I bolted). The unfortunate effect of numerous people telling me how great I am is that I'm now wondering what else could be causing me to stay single if I'm so bloody great?



At 11:12 pm, Blogger Dune thought it was best to say...

Oh love, now we're in MY territory.

*ahem* excuse me while I get comfortable - it's gonna be a long chat.

I have to say, I was particularly annoyed on your behalf by the 4th comment - the one where they accuse you of walking off when you get bored with a girl. Excuse me? So, you're in the company of some dull as dishwater girl who's not only boring you to tears but wishing you were swallowing razor blades because that would at least be a bit more interesting? Is it doing HER any favours if you put up with her company because you feel you ought to, rather than want to? Is it doing YOU any favours spending time with someone who you discover you don't really like? No! So where's the problem in you acknowledging that and moving on? Gah!! People who say stuff like that REALLY irritate me. They seem to think that the cure to being single is to date any schmuck that has a heartbeat and that you should be grateful for it. Please. Just because you're long-term single doesn't mean you have to be desperate.

I too have been single all my 26 years. Never had a relationship although thank CHRIST have had some fun flings, otherwise I would have exploded from underused sexual energy (as I'm sure you can appreciate, tending to yourself only goes so far).

I also find it difficult to pinpoint *why* I've never met someone who not only I want to have a relationship with, but who also wants a relationship with me. I can get quite down about it and it annoys me when people say I need to cheer up and not worry about it so much. No doubt their advice is good but how does one keep their self-confidence up after a lifetime of relationship knockbacks? You may love yourself (as I do) but how long can you believe in yourself when your constantly told by men (by word or action) that you're ok for a shag but they don't actually want to spend any time in your company as a friend or partner? It's easy to keep up your confidence on a 3-6 month stretch (heh, sounds like prison ;)) but when you're on a lifer? IT WEARS YOU DOWN. It takes a lot of strength to keep at it, keep believing that it's not a personal rejection of you and to keep going back for more plays at the game.

I don't know why it hasn't happened for you or for me. My solution has been to keep actively looking but without hoping for anything... and to distract myself with a million projects to keep me from worrying that I really will end up 80 and alone!


At 11:17 pm, Blogger Dune thought it was best to say...

PS Stick to your guns and continue to chat to girls rather than chatting them up. Chat them up if you want to get play, chat to them if you want anything more... you'll get more scores with the 1st technique, but something worthwhile (eventually) with the 2nd.

Also, don't discount online dating. I haven't met the man of dreams on it (clearly) but I have been on a lot of nice dates and met some really interesting people. It's worth giving a second look.

At 11:54 am, Blogger Léonie thought it was best to say...

I guess you're single just are. Life is funny. Not because women in general respond in a certain way to certain things, not because you do anything or don't do anything, and not because you are too picky. Just, because. What are you supposed to do? Go around taking everyone else's advice when all they have is their own (flawed) experiences to go by?

I too hate the platitudes because they assume that 'finding someone' is a state of nirvana where life plateaus and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Everyone has their own experiences and lives to live and all we can do is persevere and trust that things will work out for the best.

Things will turn out how they will. You will continue to make choices which have consequences which will lead to more choices and so it continues. Obviously it is good to write about the way you feel about it but I put it to you that there is no "answer", and that you will not change your behaviour to get a girlfriend, but will hopefully continue being open about the way that you feel about it.

I'm not sure I have expressed myself very well here. Your post is great.

That's all. x

PS. Good to see you at the weekend.

At 1:46 pm, Blogger Curly thought it was best to say...

Dune - Good commenting skills there! I like the line "Just because you're long-term single doesn't mean you have to be desperate", you are of course completely right. I mention how long I've been single and occasionally people sort of wince in response, I point out that it's not really that bad - I just haven't felt as though I've needed to be in a relationship. You're also right about it wearing you down, it's hard to keep a smile on your face sometimes when there's that constant rejection (or fear of it, in my case). I admire you for your attitude of constantly plugging away at it and keeping your mind occupied. A

As for online dating, some of those initial questions are really hard... :)

Léonie - You make a good point about peoples flawed experiences. I'm constantly told how to do things, but mainly by people who I've seen have arguements with their other halves, are unhappy or have been through numerous breakups. I'm aware that finding a girlfriend will not solve the worlds problems but I feel as though I've been missing out on something. The surprised looks and remarks from people upon hearing that I've been single for so long worry me too, I've obviously duped myself into not being too worried about it.


It was also lovely to see you on the weekend, as it always is. x

At 3:26 am, Blogger Coffee-Drinking Woman thought it was best to say...

The best sort of people to be with are the ones who you can actually talk with! Keep chatting to rather than up - just get a phone number in the conversation at some point, and make a point to get together for another chat sometime.

At 2:13 pm, Blogger Neal thought it was best to say...

I've spent most of my life single, with three separate 2-year interludes of being in committed relationships. Here are some things I've learned:

1) Being single only sucks because all of your friends aren't.

2) The chase is NOT more fun than the actual relationship. It's just different.

3) Online dating is like any sort of dating, you'll get more out of it if you put more into it.

4) If you like a girl that is about to leave, follow her. If you like a girl in another country, go there. If you are about go somewhere and there's a girl you like, take her with you. If she feels the same about you, she would do the same for you.

5) When you find that girl, the right one, the one...then you'll know why relationships are worth all of the hassle.

6) I don't have much dating advice*. Watching other people in action I realize that really they all have one trick that worked once, back in the 90s, and they keep using it over and over because of that one scrap of positive reinforcement. If you what you're doing fits that description, maybe it's time to reevaluate the situation.

*Editor's note, I should mention that I have no game when it comes to women. Usually I just hope that ladies notice that I'm really tall & furry and confuse me for a friendly wookie.

At 2:14 pm, Blogger mo** thought it was best to say...

everyone already mor or less said what I would say;
So, the way I see it, is that when the right lady comes along, it'll just happen ;)
you just haven't found the right person yet, and therefore can't be bothered; I always say, better be single then badly set up.

At 9:32 pm, Blogger deanne thought it was best to say...

Best discussed over a beer (b/c I just typed out this long ass comment, and thought "Jeez.").

Frankly, I concur with Dune's points - she's covered all the areas I would, but I particularly agree with chatting up vs. chatting to. Personally, I find being chatted up a bit dull and predictable. But I totally dig being chatted to, and having a random flirt thrown in, just to keep me on my toes.

Next time you're in London, we can discuss all this further over a pint!

At 11:19 am, Blogger Curly thought it was best to say...

CDW - Does the phone number have to be mine? What if I can't think of a good phone number? I didn't know that they were such hot conversation topics ;) Phone numbers aren't so good for me, I'm awful at talking on the phone to anyone, let alone girls that I'm interested in.

Neal -
no 4) I have nowhere near enough faith in humanity to move just for a girl - Even she had the same feelings for me as I did for her. I like the wookie comment.

Mo - Nice to hear from you :) It's not good to be badly set up, you're right. Surely it's good to get some practice in? One of my biggest fears is making some kind of massive relationship faux-pas (Like sleeping with the girls sister or something). I'd rather do that with someone that "wasn't right for me anyway" than "the one".

Deanne - It's a big conversation topic for a bl*g, isnt' it? I find 'chatting girls up' to be a high-pressure situation, that's why I'm no good at it. If I charge in there without a hint of a sexual inclination then I'm fine, but often unaware of any sexual inclinations the girl may have towards me. That'd be cool, I'll give you a shout when I'm in London next!

At 2:13 pm, Blogger Christian thought it was best to say...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2:14 pm, Blogger christianoshi thought it was best to say...

I have been single for five years and it sometimes bothers me but I think society has become far too fussy of late. Myself included. My desire for the unattainable is so extreme that I'm often only attracted to straight guys, which is fruitless to say the least for a gayer like me.

I have had two long-term relationships in my short life but I've friends and colleagues who, like your good self, have never experienced anything more than dating so it's not unusual. I don't have the answer though. I doubt anyone does, I just recommend lots of continued self-loving and a broadening of the social horizons.

And I heartily suggest you give online dating a proper go. Personally I feel I've exhausted those options due to the eventual tedium of unrequited chasing. But without a profile how would anyone know you are single or that you even exist?

At 4:03 am, Blogger Coffee-Drinking Woman thought it was best to say...

Did I say you had to TALK on the phone? How about a quick text message - as in "meet me at the coffee shop this afternoon?" Then you a) avoid talking on the phone and b)get to see her again.

I'm assuming everyone involved has a cell phone of course, perhaps a bad assumption.

At 2:57 pm, Blogger Curly thought it was best to say...

Oshi - That desire for the unattainable is pretty prevalent in my life too, I wonder why we do it to ourselves? But then again, what's wrong with wanting something and setting out to go and get it?

CDW - I know, I was only pulling your leg. Most people have cell phones these days. When I was in Canada recently, I noticed the coffee-shop culture a lot more - there were so many more of them than over here and everyone inside seemed as though they were on a date. Perhaps it'll catch on in a few years, Wales is usually behind.


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