Footloose Man

What it’s like trying to break out of the single life

by Will Dodds

Play this (“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones) for full effect

She had blue eyes. Brown hair. Calmed, relaxed, an overall good person. My type. We had classes together and we talked to each other on the bus nearly every day. I would have to look away from her, the way she looked at me. A few weeks later and I decided it was time to ask her out. I decided to look her up on Facebook to be sure. It’s creepy, but everyone does it. Her profile picture is of her with another guy. I look him up; they have different last names. I ask a friend of hers to give the final strike: she does have a boyfriend.

I’ve been up to the want-to-date plate a bunch of times, and have an average of 0.0000. I have to add the extra zero to make sure people don’t think I have had an average of 0.0001. I didn’t even have those fickle two-day relationships back in middle school. I’ve never been on a date. Never been kissed. Never felt that connection that every other woman or man in my life has felt.

I don’t want to date just to date; if I’m going into a relationship, I want it to be serious and hopefully long-lasting. I hate complaining about this, but I’ve got to write about relationships, so why not write about something I know nothing about?

It’s not that I can’t always get what I want, it’s that I never get it. When every woman you meet is already in a relationship to a great guy you start wondering why you even try.

Is there something wrong with me? Josh Sundquist of the “We Should Hang out Sometime” book fame says no. I should instead look at what has been holding me back. Thanks, but you’ve gone on dates. You have the prerequisites to get into a relationship. I don’t.

Is it because of my body type? I’m skin and bones with no muscle; I’m not Channing Tatum. But unlike Tatum I have a personality. But then I see all these thousands of men on campus who have the Tatum bod and a personality. With people like that, what girl would ever want me?

Do women think I’m gay? I do have an active personality and have many lady friends I get along with, some of whom are my best friends. Do women see me with them and think I’m gay or, God forbid, taken?

Am I too picky? I do have a type: physically a blue-eyed brunette, emotionally relaxed, kind, gentle, caring, self-motivated and active. But I don’t limit myself to that type. I’m attracted to different people for different reasons. The shyness of someone is just as attractive as the assertiveness of another. The physical characteristics barely matter to me.

People always tell me I simply have to “wait” for that “special someone” to come into my life. That’s a bunch of bull. How do I wait? What if my waiting is stopping me from meeting that all-encompassing and mysterious “special someone,” whoever she is? She must hang out with the Little Red-Headed Girl from “Peanuts” and the Loch Ness Monster.

Maybe there really is nothing wrong with me at all. Maybe it’s the universe, God, whatever, that sucks. I’ve got the flush, and life lays down a full house of boyfriend.

Our culture is always pushing us men to feel inferior to the Tatums, Henry Cavills, and Chris Pratts of the world. The culture fuels the attraction for the Bad Boy over the Nice Guy. Yes, I should blame the culture! Don’t blame myself, blame the culture!

I think you’re going about this the wrong way, says my Mind as it strokes its Freudian facial hair. Let’s take a more internal look at things. Just sit in that comfy lounge chair right here. Now, tell me about your family?

I have a father and a sister.

Where is your mother?

She’s passed away about two years ago

How did she die?

From ovarian cancer. It was quite horrible.

And how did her death make you feel?

Empty. It left a deep hole in my heart. I’ve been trying to fill it ever since.

How have you been filling it?

By doing things with people. Joining clubs, double majoring and double minoring in widely different subjects. I meet people and friends that way.

What about your family?

I’ll always love my family. But they’ve always been there for me and always will. I’m connected to them because I’m a branch on the family tree. But when a branch from another tree wants to connect to you, even though they have no reason to, it’s not a biological connection, it’s an emotional connection. A love connection.

And the friends you’ve made have not been enough?

You can celebrate birthdays with friends, tell them your problems, but your love for them can only go so deep. But with a girlfriend, you can never go too deep. That emotional connection, that ever-developing love of a romantic relationship can fill the hole. There’s just that something — the mystique, the promise that a girlfriend can provide.

So this search for a girlfriend has really been about filling the hole of love the death of your mother gave you?

Yes.

Thought so.

Then my Mind goes poof and disappears so I can figure out the rest of the revelation for myself. So really, my search for a girlfriend has really been just about my need. Isn’t my need a bit selfish? Is that need more based on attachment than on what people call “true love”? Maybe, when I think about who I want to date, I need to think about her needs more than mine, and the only way to know her needs is to ask and learn more about her as a person. My mom wouldn’t want me to keep lamenting about my failures over and over and over again. I just need to keep trying, because if you try sometimes you just might find…

She has blue eyes. Brown hair. Calmed, relaxed, an overall good person. My type. We always talk when we see each other at club meetings. Sometimes a group of friends and us eat breakfast together. The way she looks at me… It’s been a few months and I have come to the decision that it’s time to ask her out. I check her Facebook, no man in her pic. I ask her friend to make sure; she doesn’t think she’s seeing anyone. Good enough. But she hasn’t been coming to church because of homework and research. If she says yes, then my strikeout streak is broken and I can celebrate with the Cubs on making the playoffs for the first time in forever. If she says she’s too busy, then I’m left with a question that can never be answered by my Mind or myself: Why is life so cruel?