I am unfit for companionship.
It’s not that I’m terribly unattractive – I have two eyes, teeth which point roughly in the right direction, and I smell okay on most weekdays – it’s just that somehow, somewhere in my past, it entered my head that I’m destined to be a martyr on behalf of single people everywhere. And unfortunately, an idea, like some cruel virus of the mind, is a difficult thing to shake.
Such it is that I jeopardize my romantic prospects before they’re even prospects, using awkwardness or ineptitude as a conscious scapegoat to hide the delusional truth: I actually believe in some bizarre yet essential destiny for myself, a reluctant destiny of emotional destitution, about which I find myself asking Fate, “Why? Why must a fulfill this role in the world? Why did you choose me, of all people, to bear this awkward and terribly unnecessary cross?”
Sometimes, perhaps for practice, I envision a break up with no one in particular, in which I say, “It’s not you. It’s not even me. It’s a condition of the universe,” and then, instead of explaining myself, scuttling away Zoidberg-style such that the last memory she may have of me is one which frees her of any desire she might have ever felt.
But in reality, I could be having a lovely conversation with a beautiful woman, when suddenly my imaginary spiritual leader descends from the heavens and says:
– No, Quack. It’s not your time. Your time will come later. You must preserve your purpose in life. Initiate CockBlock Sequence 104B.
– Awww… do I have to? I like this person!
– Yes, Quack. Yes, you must.
“…sorry if it starts smelling funny here. I just farted.”
– Are you happy now, Destiny?
– Tee hee… yes. Yes I am.
But why martyr? For what purpose?
I suppose I do this out of spite for the dating game. As I approach my later twenties, I’ve noticed air of fatalistic impatience surrounding courtship. People have enough life experience to know what they’re looking for in a partner, and dates proceed accordingly like reluctant yet cordial job interviews where both parties are at once the interviewer and applicant, checking traits and idiosyncrasies off an imaginary compatibility checklist before consulting the business partners (i.e. friends) and having a conference to discuss the applicants, whose differences are often trivial and meaningless.
“I just watched a movie with Applicant C. It turns out he likes romantic comedies, which is a +1, but also pops his collar, which is a -2.”
“That still puts him ahead of Applicant F [who lives with his mother], doesn’t it?”
“Applicant F does listen to punk rock though, which I also happen to enjoy, and he makes me laugh. Making me laugh is a +3.”
“Can they both be moved to the next round?”
“I suppose, but only if neither of them finds out.”
It’s this sort of calculated analysis combined with the fatalistic need for companionship that makes the adult dating world particularly intolerable. That is to say: the whole, “I’m 25 and single, so by the end of this month, I will be in a relationship with whoever has the highest score over +10,” and thus by the 31st, Applicant B with a +16 shall summoned to some movie where he shall lean in for the kiss and not be rejected, as is the custom.
Because God forbid anyone be single for any length of time in their twenties.
It’s almost as if, by this age, people suddenly feel the need to fulfill some greater destiny and partake on the Great Ritual of Courtship, and whoever happens to be tolerable and available at the crossroads of desire is He/She Who Shall Be Mine, Forever. I’m just not ready to accept a reality in which my entire future is determined by intersection of complete random chance and opportunism.
It’s this kind of sober and objective determination combined with this generation’s ever-growing desire for matrimonial eternity that makes me nostalgic for the bumbling awkwardness of teen romance, when dating was confusing yet exciting because no one had any idea what they were doing, so everything was fair game (to an extent). Expectations didn’t exist because they didn’t have a past to which to be compared. People did what they wanted to do, whether or not it actually did anything good.
To be fair, perhaps the objective-analysis approach to the dating game is a little better than the early-twenties “College Bro” approach:
Such it is that I somehow believe I’m fighting the Good Fight: some silent and frustrating war between the accepted conventions of dating and whatever ideal I feel should exist in spite of not actually knowing what that ideal would look like. And therein lies the fundamental problem with my foolish battle: I don’t know what I’m fighting for. I know what I’m fighting against, but I can’t figure out the end goal. What’s the point in martyrdom if it has no vision? Why am I doing this to myself?
No really, why am I doing this to myself? Why am I allowing myself to be blinded by talk of these senseless and lofty ideals – this elevated talk about ‘martyrdom’ and crusades against accepted conventions? Why can’t I just admit to myself that it’s all a front, an elaborate psychological front to keep me feeling noble and proud in my distractedness from the truth that I’m nothing more than afraid? Afraid of what? Afraid of finding out that I’ll be disappointed with my future, unless I accept one that’s intentionally jeopardized in advance on behalf of some ‘noble cause’? Were my naively idealistic expectations for adult companionship so unbelievably high such that I have to defend myself from growing disillusioned with their underwhelming realities by not allowing myself to partake in their joys? Am I afraid to find out that maybe my future isn’t some star-crossed destiny, but rather is the trivial result of random chance encounters at a convenient time?
Maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to avoid vacuuming my apartment.