Why I’m Bad At Dating

I am bad at dating. This probably won’t come as a surprise to those of you who know me in real life, but sometimes people do express some shock if I admit to that. I don’t know why – I don’t really understand what they’re shocked about. You’d think I’d just told them that I fancy goats or skip around shopping centres wearing red stockings and singing a song about Gretel the farmer’s daughter and her illicit supply of rainbows. I don’t do that, by the way. That’s not why I’m bad at dating.

But, anyway, however shocking you personally might find it, I am bad at dating from start to finish. First off, getting a date. I very much suck at this. You know how when you’re out and about, minding your own business, and you see a stranger and they look pretty? You see them and they see you and they don’t begin to vomit immediately? That does happen from time to time with me. I’ll bet you go over to them, make conversation or find a reason to talk to them? Yeah, I can’t do that.

I say “can’t”. Obviously, I could. But I never have and can never bring myself to do so. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly, I am absolutely terrified of rejection because my self-esteem is about as low as the Fens I come from. We’re talking parts below sea level. Secondly, because I can never think of what to say that sounds normal and then I overthink what normal sounds like and by that time they’ve left the café, bookshop, or Batcave I’m in.

So before I’ve even started I don’t give myself a chance, partially because I’m thinking about everything far more than is strictly necessary and partly because I think I’m a terrible human being and who would want me anyway? Meeting people is hard, especially if you’re not able to talk to them.

But it’s not just strangers – I do a lot with a local amateur theatre society and I suppose I meet a lot of people there, although primarily people already in relationships or not in my age range. Not that I expect the theatre to provide me with a harem to choose from, of course, but it’s my only real social activity. I have no social life as such. I have been to the pub twice in the past week – once alone, because it was cold and I was hungry, and then with my Dad to watch football. Mostly I sit at home and write.

I’ve cracked on two occasions and entered the confusing world of Tinder in an effort to meet people. It didn’t work for me. Mostly because I got no matches at all the first time. Actually, I had one match from someone who offered me the girlfriend experience for $200. Only spambots are interested in me. The second time I had the app for less than an hour, which probably wasn’t going to get me anywhere, but I got bored of it almost as soon as I’d opened it. This is because it exacerbates a natural tendency in me to be picky. I’m very picky.

Okay, so everyone who knows me just cracked up laughing. Quiet in the Gods! No, it’s seriously true. I am very picky about the people I spend time with. Not physically, so much, although I do have certain things that I find more attractive in people – but, you know, I don’t care what colour hair you have, particularly. But even where people write anything in the profile part, what’s written is a breeding ground for my inner critic. In short, unless you use proper spelling and grammar, write words out in full, don’t use acronyms or emojis (emoticons are acceptable), and actually say something about who you are and what you like, then I will not be swiping right. This is mostly because I am an insufferable pedant and also a colossal cockhole. Also, because if you don’t do those things, I suspect we wouldn’t get on all that well as possible partners.

This is my pickiness before I’ve met them. There are whole levels of pickiness beyond that: how they sound, what they say, whether they have irritating vocal ticks or speech habits, the list goes on. For example, I once went out on three dates with someone who was very nice, but she told me the same story on all three dates. I didn’t tell her the second time that she’d already told me the story, but it was a fairly boring story to begin with so the third time she told it, I cut her off by telling her the end. She wasn’t thrilled by that. Another person I dated constantly narrated her actions. Every thought was said aloud. “I need to brush my hair”. “I might have an apple today”. I still don’t know if I was meant to respond to these musings or not.

I don’t want you to think that these are bad people, because they’re not. They’re just people. It’s me that’s the bad one. I’m being a judgemental fuck; in some cases, quite literally. If I was to offer a defence for this behaviour, it’s that my favourite love song when I was young was (Everything I Do) I Do It For You by Bryan Adams, largely because it was the song from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. I was obsessed with castles, knights, honour and all that sort of thing. Still am. But that has given me a false sense of what love is. I want the fairytale. I’m a romantic at heart and a cynic in mind. They don’t mix well. Because I know that fairytale isn’t real. I know that love doesn’t just happen, that real relationships require work and effort, and that women I fancy are unlikely to be kidnapped by the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Life fails to live up to my high expectations, so it’s little wonder that humans with all their flaws and foibles rarely make the grade. All the more problematic when someone does and I can’t speak to them or they are in a relationship or it just doesn’t work out because that’s how these things are. So I drift on, alone, not talking to women I see, not going out to places where women might be (not that I could talk to them once there), and tearing down many of the options I actually do have. Sometimes I wonder if I actually want myself to be happy.

Obviously, I know the answer. No. I don’t. Because happiness is for other, less judgemental, insecure, overthinking, people.

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