Thursday, December 22, 2011

Spiral of Despair

So I'm taking a break from Star Wars: TOR and catching up on blog reading. I was over at NSWATM when I came across a series on Nice Guys. In part 3 of the series there was a comment that caught my eye.
Schala:
You can’t get relationships because you’re not conventionally attractive? Then the thing to do is obviously to go die in a ditch, right?
RocketFrog:
No, the thing to do is to learn how to be happy without a relationship.
To me that's easier said than done.

As I've talked about here before when it comes to relationships I'm basically 0-Infinity. Yeah its like that.

You see to me, one who has never had anything resembling success when it comes to romance and dating (and one sexual encounter to my name), the idea of learning to be happy without a relationship seems like a cop out. It doesn't feel like the idea of "be happy without a relationship" comes from a place of "this isn't working I'll just move on" but rather a place of "I'm just a terrible person that was a fool to think about wanting to try my hand at relationships".

Now as you can see my conclusion is not quite what RocketFrog came up with. Now by all means this doesn't mean that RF is wrong. In fact I don't even want to get into right vs wrong on this. What I do want to take a moment to note is how different people in the nearly exact same circumstance can come to such different conclusions. Further down my exchange with RF continues:
I know. I am such a person. Throughout my twenties I painfully and embarrassingly attempted to figure out how I could turn myself into something that could be attractive, lovable, and able to function in a romantic relationship. After having spent the better part of a decade in such a condition, I sat down and thought about it for a long time, and concluded that for a creature like myself, expecting romantic success is, in fact, unreasonable – much like aforementioned one-legged asthmatic wishing to win Olympic gold in the 100 meter dash.

I still sometimes feel very lonely, but have discovered that there are some unexpectedly pleasant side effects to opting out of the whole dating racket. I am trying to find my happiness – at least as far as my identity as a gendered creature goes – in that. There is a certain serenity in no longer having to perform in the “how can I turn myself into an attractive, real man” discipline.
Thinking back on my younger days it seems that I didn't really try too hard to figure out what I could do to change into that would make me attractive. No it seems I had given up on trying to fit the conventional idea of these things and went my own way fairly quickly (body image problems will do that do you). Problem is I have a hard time thinking that out of all the people I've crossed paths with the man that I've decided to be has been written off in terms of dating by all of them. Well in the past I had a hard time, I think I went my own way so long ago that I've been thinking on it for long its not that hard to believe anymore.

So where it seems that RocketFrog decided to leave the dating market and then realized that there was relief in not performing a certain discipline anymore I decided on not performing the discipline but then realized that I was out of the dating market after making the leap. But it gets worse.

Even though I don't want to perform the discipline and therefore seem to have been left out of the market I'm still left with the desire to date, have relationships, and have and be a companion. Now consider all that you see of people saying that everyone "is beautiful in their own way" or those who say something to the effect of "there's someone out there for everyone" or various other remarks and phrases meant to give encouragement to people with self esteem issues. Consider how those messages sound to a person who hears this stuff and still strikes out horribly. Or to one that has given up not because they have decided to find happiness elsewhere but because they see that despite there being so many different people with different tastes out there they are still lacking in success.

Now I'm not trying to make a play for sympathy here but I do think this may be worth looking at because I think these feelings are at the border of Nice Guy territory and I think understanding these feelings is a big step in helping such guys not cross that line (and maybe even bring back a few that did cross it). And I'll bet I'm not the only man (or woman) that is trapped in this cycle of dark despair.

So how about it guys (bear in mind I'm not excluding the non-men out there its just that is where my main focus lies)? Have you been lost in these feelings? Are you currently lost in their feelings? How did you overcome them or what did you try to overcome them but didn't succeed?

8 comments:

Dan_Brodribb said...

I've been lost in those feelings. I still get them from time to time. What helps for me is recognizing them as feelings and not as objective reality. Just because I think or feel something doesn't necessarily make it so.

I think what surprised me most about going from romantic failure to being more succesful was that getting a girlfriend or two didn't really make me any more or less happy like I thought it would. It reinforced what I have come to believe over the years...that happiness really doesn't come from external things. Happiness comes from making the decision to be happy.

That said, the process of working at improving my dating life really taught me a lot about myself. It can be a painful, frustrating process at times, but the lessons, even the hard ones, have really made me stronger.

Danny said...

Thanks for dropping by Dan.

What helps for me is recognizing them as feelings and not as objective reality. Just because I think or feel something doesn't necessarily make it so.
I think what makes this recognition so tough is that when feeling that way it actually is a part of your reality. One's lack of success is real, not made up. That's what you have right in front of you, that's what upsets you, that's causes you to feel lost.

I think what surprised me most about going from romantic failure to being more succesful was that getting a girlfriend or two didn't really make me any more or less happy like I thought it would.
Agree. As I said in a past post (http://dannyscorneroftheuniverse.blogspot.com/2009/12/finding-ones-swagger.html) the goal isn't so much as amassing as many sex partners, finding into a relationship, etc... as it is believing that such possibilities are actually just that, possible.

Its real easy for people who have experienced these outcomes to tell others, "Oh you're beautiful" or "You're a great person in your own way". The problem is as one of those others its there's no actual evidence to prove it.

I recognize that loops around to the idea of needing external things to verify one's happiness. The difficult part is as I say in this post that to just up and say I'll be happy without relationships feels like a cop out.

Dan_Brodribb said...

So if I'm reading you right, what's hard for you is believing that a romantic relationship is possible, especially with no evidence to support it. At the same time, just blindly accepting that feels like quitting or giving up on yourself. Is that close to what you're saying?

Danny said...

So if I'm reading you right, what's hard for you is believing that a romantic relationship is possible, especially with no evidence to support it.
Yes. There is a conflict of reassuring messages that "there's someone out there for everyone" and the simple proof that is the fact that I've had 0 romantic luck through my entire life.

Which leads to believing that my 0 fortune means something is wrong with me. (And of course the overall point was that this is one possible outcome of these feelings, where some become what is called Nice Guys, and many other possibilities.)

If this is my reality in world where supposedly there is someone for everyone...

At the same time, just blindly accepting that feels like quitting or giving up on yourself. Is that close to what you're saying?

Yes. As if I were to just say that relationships are for me it would be pretty much saying that I'm a failure at them and that the idea that "there's someone out there for everyone" isn't true.

Anonymous said...

"There's someone out there for everyone" is a platitude, not a verifiably true statement. Sorry about that.

tidingsfromthetower said...

...that happiness really doesn't come from external things. Happiness comes from making the decision to be happy.

This. I used to think I needed a relationship to make me complete. I still catch myself thinking that way sometimes.

I'm not conventionally attractive and don't look for relationships. I want to be happy and content with my life whether I have a girlfriend or not.

Danny said...

This. I used to think I needed a relationship to make me complete. I still catch myself thinking that way sometimes.

I'm not conventionally attractive and don't look for relationships. I want to be happy and content with my life whether I have a girlfriend or not.


How goes it tidingsfromthetower (I think I've seen you on my tumblr).

I understand that its pretty superficial to think one needs a relationship to feel complete but it just feels cheap almost to stop looking when your life amasses to one long losing streak on that front.

Thanks for dropping by.

Danny said...

"There's someone out there for everyone" is a platitude, not a verifiably true statement. Sorry about that.
You're probably right Anonymous.

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