Oh Shit, I’m Gonna Be Single For Life
By David Metcalfe
Something Doesn’t Add Up…
I’ve always been a talented person. When I was six I skipped a grade because I was too advanced. When I was 9 I led the soccer league in scoring. When I was 13 I got the MVP award for my baseball team. I’ve always performed music. I’ve always had a lot of friends and was well liked in school. When I was 10 or 11 years old, I remember my parents telling me, “David, you’re intelligent, athletic, and good looking; you won’t have any trouble finding a girlfriend when you’re older.”
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
I sat in Starbucks across from one of my long time friends. He’s married now, and during our conversation, he asked if I was seeing anyone. I replied, “well, you know, girls have always found me repulsive for some reason.” He responded, “what do you mean ‘some reason’? It’s obviously your horrible looks.” We both laughed. We’ve always had that kind of mutually understood humor.
But we both know there’s a very serious aspect of that joke. Something so serious, in fact, that it’s caused me very intense depression at times. I wish that my inability to have romantic relationships could be understood in some capacity. Like, that there could be an identifiable thing that makes me unlovable: a flaw in my personality, a lack of personal hygiene, an ugly face, etc., but so far, no one can figure it out. I’m doing my best to solve it, and this article is an attempt to do that.
Out of my three best friends from high school, two of them are married, and one is engaged. Out of my three siblings, one is married, one is in a year long relationship, and the other gets boyfriends so easily she literally has a new one every time I see her. Won’t it be great to go to yet another family Christmas as the only single person?
I remember attending Stephen’s wedding near Grande Prairie, Alberta. Logan, Michael and I were all groomsmen, and we drove up together and hung out the whole time. We all enjoyed hanging out before the ceremony and taking part in the festivities. After the reception, there was a dance, which is something I always enjoy. After the fun songs, there were some slow songs to partner dance to. Michael and Logan both had girls who wanted to dance with them right away. I looked around for a girl to dance with, and after quite a while I found a girl sitting by herself, and I asked her to dance; she said no.
Michael and Logan then spent the rest of the evening talking with their respective dance partners. I went back to my table and filled up my wine glass…about six times. The next morning, before we left, Logan and Michael hugged the girls goodbye, and added their numbers into their phones. No girl hugged me. No girl added her number in my phone.
Now, you might say, “that’s an isolated incident; you were just unlucky that time”, but really, that story is just one example to represent the myriad of examples that have overtaken my life. There’s no substantial difference between me and my friends. It’s not as if they are better looking, wealthier, more social, etc. than me. And, in the last year, I’ve kind of become a crazy philosophical person who rejects social norms and all that, but actually, for my whole life before this last year, I was very socially normal. Of course, I was quite a comedian, doing stand up routines and skits for my friends whenever we got together, but it was always within social acceptability, and people always found me funny. The point is, I was the exact same as them, and there doesn’t seem to be a reason for why I failed at dating when they succeeded.
Girls NEVER Want To Date Me
Some people might object, saying, “But David, you’ve had relationships with girls here and there, right?” Well, sort of. It’s actually something so humiliating to me that I often kind of misrepresent certain relationships I’ve had. The sad reality, and holy shit this depresses me to even say, is that no girl has ever actually wanted to be in a romantic relationship with me.
There was one girl I went on several dates with when I was in my third year of university. However, she often cut our dates short, and was often busy when I asked her to hang out. I basically had to schedule dates a couple weeks in advance, and then one time she cancelled last minute for no reason. I called her and asked her, “be honest, do you actually want to date me?” and she said, “Umm…sorry, no.” I said, “So why didn’t you just say that?” and she said, “Well, you’re a really nice guy and I know you like me a lot and I didn’t have the heart to hurt your feelings.”
Even Jill, a girl I hung out lots with and fell very in love with, never actually wanted to be in a romantic relationship with me. She was fine to do things that a romantic couple would do, but never wanted to be in an actual relationship.
The weird thing is, nothing seems to work. My friends have suggested a million different pieces of advice to me. I’ve gone through significant life and identity changes, and never have any of my “selves” been marketable for dating. But I shouldn’t say that literally no girls ever want to date me, but they are girls that I’ve not had any interest in.
I’m surprised, and insulted, at the fact that my friends don’t set me up on dates. The rare times they have, they’ve been with obviously low quality girls. And not that I have high standards, but if I’m on a date with a girl who flunked out of high school, hasn’t showered in a week, and works part time at Wal-Mart, that’s not a relationship that interests me. And I know that they know good quality single girls, but for some reason, they refuse to even set me up on a date with them.
One thing I’ve also realized is that in the Mormon church, all of the young single adults are very fixated on dating. After all, marriage is the only way to get to heaven and to have sex (the latter being the more important for most YSA, it would seem). But the girls there that I’ve met have not been interested in dating me in the least. And in the case of the former sister missionaries, that is fine, and probably a good thing, because I think it’s better that our relationship remains platonic and focused on the gospel. But, dang it, I honestly think I could be in the Mormon YSA for an infinitely long time and no girl would ever take interest. But more so, as I’ve hung out with the Mormons, I’m not so sure I would even want to have a relationship with any of these girls. They are very simple, boring, and socially regulatory, for the most part, as is consistent with the majority of Mormon people in general.
What Kind of Girl Would I Even Want?
I was once at a law and philosophy conference at the University of Toronto, and as always, the speakers were all 50 year old professors. However, one lady was still doing her PhD, and was in her late twenties. She was very pretty. She talked about free speech legislation on social media platforms, and I couldn’t tell whether I loved the speech or whether I loved her. Afterwards, I noticed there was an empty spot beside her at lunch, and I sat next to her. We had so much to talk about regarding law and philosophy, and a host of other academic and life topics that we related on. Of course, she was like 28 and lived in Toronto, so that was never going to be a relationship, but to this day she still emails me from time to time to tell me about her latest studies.
I think I have a crush on Simone Weil, although, it’s entirely imaginary, since I’ve never met her, and she’s been dead for like 70 years. But when I read her books, I get such a sense of who she was as a person, and based on the old black and white photographs taken of her, she seems pretty. In fact, historians say she was so pretty, she used to wear glasses, cover her hair, and wear manly clothes so as to not attract attention to herself. She was a very intellectually and morally passionate young woman, who eventually died as a result of her commitment to solidarity with the people of Nazi occupied France.
As I think more about it, I start to realize that the right girl for me is probably someone who is a rogue academic weirdo like myself. Or, at the very least, someone who can understand and appreciate that sort of attitude and lifestyle. But I also care very much about morality and commitment. I don’t want her to be one of those progressives who believes in “open relationships” and “free sexuality”, for example. The commitment to virtue and chastity is one of the things that makes me think I should date a Mormon girl. But the Mormon girls are such simpletons…uhhh…I wonder if there exists a devout, academic, and good looking Mormon girl? Oh yeah, they probably do exist, but they’re in the married couples ward, because girls like that get taken very quickly.
One thing a friend told me is that you only need to meet one person. The 20 girls or so that I’ve been on dates with and been rejected by (or, in rare cases, that I’ve rejected) don’t matter at all in the big picture. The main thing that matters from those is what I learn about myself, that I learn to act with kindness and respect towards them (regardless of whether things go well), and that I develop resilience through the process.
Sometimes I get so depressed about being single that I consider going to night clubs or even purchasing a prostitute. While those things would enable me to lose my virginity, they wouldn’t fulfill the thing I’m actually concerned about: having someone to develop a selfless, committed, loving relationship with.
And god, dating can be frustrating sometimes. It can go from humbling to just plain humiliating when things don’t work out. Some guys develop disdain for women in general just because they can’t get a girlfriend. But that is a stupid response. The best thing to do is respect women no matter what their decision is, and be kind to all people regardless of whether you will ever get anything in return.
My Heroes Are All Single…?
Something I was shocked by is that pretty much all of my heroes are lifetime bachelors (or close to): Henry David Thoreau, John Locke, Bill Maher, Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Paine, etc.
I still can’t decide whether that’s a good thing or bad thing. I guess these guys are incredibly successful, so it’s optimistic that you can still be fulfilled without a wife. But also, the reason these guys are my heroes is because I relate really well to them as people. Basically, I’m the same type of person that they are. Is it possible that intellectually passionate men are somehow more inclined to singleness?
Of my married heroes, Bertrand Russell had three different wives, and Jean-Paul Sartre had a long term open relationship with Simone De Beauvoir. Not exactly pinnacles of the ideal marriage.
I guess what I want is the same as many people: to fall in love, to have that love reciprocated, and to stay in love for the rest of my life. But it’s not an easy thing to find. And for myself, I repulse most women, for some reason. Hopefully it’s the same reason that Henry David Thoreau repulsed women, because he was a freaking legend, and certainly his lack of romance was no shortcoming on his part.
Sometimes I think about how literally all of my friends have had dramatically greater success with dating than I have, and it’s quite frustrating. Sometimes I get very lonely and wish I had companionship, and it’s quite depressing. However, I think there are ways to work through it that can make the best of it.
I will keep going on dates with girls from time to time, because hey, out of 1000 dates, you’d think at least one would lead to marriage, and after all, you only need one. But if none of them work out, it doesn’t mean I can’t live a fulfilling life in other areas. There will always be that small hole in my heart, but that lack of fulfillment can actually manifest itself in some cool ways. I’ve noticed that when men get married, they often get complacent; they’ve already accomplished that aspect of life, and feel content. But the lack of fulfillment can restrict contentedness and therefore prevent complacency. It can drive one to accomplish more in other areas, and that’s why I think many of the greatest, large scale, intellectual contributions to society have come from single people.
But being in no relationship is better than being in a bad one. In fact, even being in a mediocre relationship kind of sucks. If you only get one person your whole life to actually marry, then you should probably hold out for a really good one. I occasionally get infatuated with good looking, virtuous, academic young women who care passionately about topics that interest them, and so far these women have been already married, too old, live too far away, or dead. But one of these days, there’s going to be a single, young, close proximity, alive woman who I will love, and who will love me back.
Or, if not, I guess I’ll overcompensate in other areas, and become very successful in career and life achievement, like my heroes, and I’ll find friendships through which to express brotherly and sisterly love. And whenever I cross paths with a nice young lady, I’ll ask her out, and hope for the best.
5 thoughts on “Oh Shit, I’m Gonna Be Single For Life”
If Chandler Bing can find a Monica Geller, then there surely is hope for all of us! Everything in its time…
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In hopes to offer encouragement, I’ll give you my two cents. A big thing about the successful people that you named that never got married or had crappy relationships that you forgot to mention is the cost of opportunity. A good relationship requires time and love. It’s easy to completely miss the time part. It is hard to give time and love when academics calls and you to push out an academic paper, or a 78-hour assignment under tight time constraints. In many ways, I wish the nature of academics was not like that, but it is up to us to be able to time manage effectively. I don’t know if you remember me telling you my testimony, but I resonate very well with your feelings of singleness. My current girlfriend, I met at a concert that I went to in Edmonton that I met through prayer (astronomical chances of meeting). It was a diamond in the rough kind of moment.
I also resonate with the similarities of my story with yours so I will tell you my observation from a fellow academic.
Sect 1, paragraph 5: Weddings are honestly the worst place to pick someone up, out of every wedding I have gone too, it is not a good place. Besides from the risk of dating my cousin, love, and infatuation being in the air, anything that happens is just hot air.
Sect 1, paragraph 7: Your differences are quite substantial and can be a strength in finding someone that fits your criteria for a future life partner. “I’ve kind of become a crazy philosophical person who rejects social norms and all that.” If I could put a difference between you and me is that I accept societal norms and I know that from working within the system I can make an adequate change. This makes you a polar opposite of me.
Sect 2, paragraph 1: I disagree from the conversations I can recall in the past of girls never wanting a romantic relationship with you. It’s just inconsistent with you being funny and smart, and what I have been told an all-around nice guy who always had something good to say.
Sect 2, paragraph 3-4: I am very happy to hear that you are not settling. Friends who set up dates tend to be the worst possible dates so that I would count that as a blessing.
Sect 2, paragraph 5: You have given yourself a fundamental categorical error when it comes to dating; Mormons tend to only date Mormons or be out for breaking tradition. All of the sister missionaries that I have met are looking for good Mormon families to marry into because it matters hugely beyond this life.
Sect 3, paragraph 3: What would happen if you date a non-Mormon? I know a few good conservative Christian women who fit your criteria, but they would not transfer to Mormonism. A categorical issue that goes to the moving force of religious belief, which in many cases can be much stronger in determining a lifelong partner.
Sect 4 ALL: Do you have any hero’s or marriages that you look up to that you know personally? This goes beyond just reading what they put down in a book. Just sitting in a living room of a couple that deeply loves each other and their children, willing to discipline them when needed regardless of who’s watching for correction, will trump all of the relationship books that have been forced down my throat in church or by family. It in itself is a religious experience, especially in today’s culture. It is criteria that makes me never settle.
Conclusion: 1/1000 dates is still better odds than 1/1000000, its miracle odds. If you averaged just meeting one new girl a week, you would meet the girl that you want in a short 19 years. Significantly better odds than the lottery!
One funny thing is that one of my friends ended up getting married to the girl he met at Stephen’s wedding. That’s probably the exception but still it’s funny how even a silly environment full of infatuation like a post wedding party can actually create a legitimate relationship. But more so, that story was just to exemplify the peculiar circumstances of my friend’s superior ability to date.
I agree with the time thing, but also there is a kind of lack of fulfillment from being single that can propel itself towards exceptionalism. Married men are concerned with providing for a family, so they can’t take the same kind of risks financially or in regards to career. And then, of course, their lack of relationship gives them more time for other things (kind of a chicken or the egg as to whether the lack of romance caused the devotion to academia or if the devotion to academia caused the lack of romance).
I do have a legitimate belief in Mormonism and as much as I complain about it, there are a lot of things I really like about it. I guess I like the actual beliefs a lot more than the way it gets practiced, and the culture around it. It’s difficult to say whether I would date an evangelical, since that is one of my least favorite types of Christianity, other than Jehovah’s Witness. But there are certainly young women of many Christian-ish worldviews who are very reasonable about it and interesting to talk to, and it certainly could work…but who knows.
It is interesting to think about the people I know who have successful marriages. My peers generally have marriages that I do not envy in the least, but I’ve known many people who have what I would call a very good marriage. I don’t relate to them super well, unfortunately. For the ones with good marriages, it really seemed like things just kind of happened. Like, they met each other, liked each other right away, and then got married and everything was fine.
And yes, 19 years would be ok, but hopefully a little sooner.
That was such an open, and honest, letter. You laid some things bare there, I suppose. Well, I thought I might be able to give some useful insights and/or advice . . .
For one thing, I know I have not walked in your shoes, exactly, but I am thinking that may be a lie that women find you repulsive. Even if you have had experience(s) that suggest this, in my humble opinion, you should not think that way. Think about yourself as attractive, etc., and I advise to even tell yourself words along those lines, out loud.
And yes, you brought up young single adults (and I suppose this could apply to any single adults) being driven by desire to have sex. Well, I think this is a very legitimate thing indeed. As a Christian, I am not sure that I can say that there are completely correct solution(s) to this, outside of marriage, but . . .okay, I’ll just use this as a segue to get to another point . . .
Perhaps rather than thinking about your love-life with women in terms of “dating” and “romantic relationships”, it may be much more helpful for you to think of it in terms of having a friend with whom you can also have a sexual relationship with (ideally within marriage). This concept of being both friends and lovers at the same time.
Look, the true God, Jehovah, God, who said “I Am that I Am”, is so rich in mercy! Really, come to Him and ask Him for mercy in this area of your life! I mean for connection, etc. to an attractive woman. Of course, nothing else in God’s creation compares to the human female. To me they can be better than a spring in the desert, or better than a bonfire on a cold night. And maybe there-in lies a key for you too . . .having an appreciation for women.
And put God first, in terms of your relationships. I remember being on a mission trip, and one of the other college-aged men on our team talked about having been in a time in his life where he was “romanced” by God. And, he was quite desirable to, well, for one thing, the women on our team. I would suggest pursuing this also. You might find listening to (you can find this on Youtube) Praying the Song of Songs with Mike Bickle.
Another insight I have seen, and was also reminded of by a dear friend, is that women like to see that you are going somewhere, if you know what I mean. So focus on you know, going onwards and upwards, and sort of running up your track, and I think you will find a woman running alongside you at some point(s), and (as someone told me), then you and her might join into the same track.
I advise to do what God wants you to do, and work for Him. Look at a mate as a cheerleader and/or running-mate.
Actually I have not officially had a girlfriend, per se (and there is one reason in-particular for that, which is basically my own fault, i.e. from choices I made) before, but I really am so thankful for the awesome young women who have been in my life, and for the favour that God has given me in this area of my life. He has been merciful to me via young women, whom He designed.
Thanks for sharing! As I talk to more people about these things, I realize that the vast majority of people have a lot of issues in romantic relationships. Even people we deem as “successful” actually have just as many issues as less “successful” people; it’s just a different style of problems.