I’m awful at relationships (and it’s ok)

Hi there,

I’m J, possibly the worst person at relationships in the world.

A while back, I wrote about how modern love is a battlefield. I talked about how dating is harder than ever  because it’s actually too easy. And I figured (out loud) that finding love and relationships will never be the same as just fifteen years ago.

My article probably came across a little grim. But honestly, I don’t feel mine is a ‘glass half-empty’ viewpoint. It’s just the way things are. At least in my experience.

So after my original ‘love’ article, I decided to write tons more about modern dating. I can’t explain why I did it, especially since relationships aren’t exactly my strong point. Even so, I penned two books on the topic and published sarcastic blogs like this and this. I was pretty harsh, essentially mocking the entire process of dating and relationships. The whole thing felt funny to me. Not just funny, but laughable. I’m not really sure why.

But then I got to thinking. What if, instead of taking enjoyment in deconstructing everyone else’s love lives, I actually tried to forge something meaningful for myself. As in, a real relationship. Or at least a thriving presence in the dating underworld. What if I crawled out of my subterranean writing lair and began a legitimate search for love? At the very least, it’d be a fun experiment. At the worst…

Well…

Before I set out into the dating wilderness, I stopped to reflect on my life up to that point. It wasn’t a pretty picture. I’d been married, and I’d been pretty awful at it. I’d had girlfriends, but I’d carved my way through their lives, always finding some tiny reason to justify an instantaneous breakup. I’d worked way too hard to forge a persona that was cold, indifferent, and to be honest, pretty damn selfish. I sucked at relationships, and I knew it.

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Ok. I’m bad, but maybe not THAT bad.

It was then I realized, even if my destiny was to be a lifelong bachelor, I had to change things up. Being a perma-jerk really wasn’t a good life plan, even if I confined it to dating. If I was gonna bother to meet new people and light some fresh romantic fires, I had to take it seriously. I had to be *gasp* a nicer human being.

So out I went into the wide, wild world. I had a dating plan, and I tried…really tried…to embrace it. I dressed better than in previous years. I hit the gym hard. I made a conscious effort to be extra polite, to smile more than once a day, and to compliment people without being sarcastic. I even tried not to laugh if a woman said she liked country music. That last one was particularly hard for me. Actually, it still is.

And so…dating, real dating instead of just crazy, midnight, one-evening collisions, started happening…

…and let’s be honest. I continued to suck at it.

I remember one night in the dead of winter.  My date, already tipsy from several glasses of wine, started kissing my face while we were in the middle of a restaurant. I don’t mind PDA, and certainly not from a good-looking girl, but I probably didn’t handle my reaction too well. I sat there, dead as a fish, and made a face like I was being murdered. Fail.

After a few weeks of steadily seeing a beautiful girl I genuinely liked, I randomly decided to blow off our (always awesome) Friday date-night to party with friends. The party wasn’t much fun. Naturally, we broke up a few days later. Fail.

While dating a smart, funny, and possibly out of my league younger woman, I flubbed every major conversation. I was too sarcastic, too blunt, and too indifferent. When, despite my idiocy, she came to me with the big ‘L’ word, I looked her in the eyes and said…nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was like someone had hit me in the head with a shovel. We dated for a little while afterward, but what human wants their big ‘L’ revelation to be greeted with silence? The answer: no one. Anything would’ve been better than nothing. Fail.

The stories gathered. The fails piled up. My effort waned. And within a few months, I was right back where I started. Single. A bachelor. A perpetual third wheel.

The weird part was – I didn’t really mind.

I like to think of myself as a pretty introspective person. When I eff up, which is often, I tend to look inward to find out what I did wrong, why I did it, and what I can do better the next time.

So inward I looked. And here’s what I came up with:

If you go into a relationship expecting it to be dull, crappy, or short-lived, it will be. Trust me. I know from personal experience.

But if you go in with sky-high expectations, you’ll be disappointed just the same.

If your favorite thing to do in life involves locking yourself in a dark room for long hours every night to write novels, relationships will be hard.

And if, when you finally come out of the room, you find yourself wanting to either: A. Go back in …or B. Hit the town hard to expel all your pent-up energy, relationships will be extra hard.

If you’re a guy, and your favorite things in life are attending death metal concerts, painting deathy landscapes, cooking huge piles of meat, playing tons of sports, and basically doing whatever you want whenever you want to, you might have trouble finding a girl with similar interests.

Especially if you have a young kid who’s exactly like you.

And double especially if you’re rapidly approaching 40.

* * *

I could go on. I really could. I have all kinds of stories about my relationship suck-itude. I mean, did you know RBF (Resting Bitch Face) is also a guy thing? Yep. I have it. Have you ever looked up the meaning of ‘aloof?’ Yep, I am it. Have you ever had a date or a significant other tell you they thought you had a terrible, dreadful night when you actually had a blast? Yep, happens to me every time. Apparently I suck even when things aren’t sucking.

Now, let’s be clear about something. I’m not writing this to earn sympathy. I’m not bemoaning my life story as a lousy relationship-er. I’m all about the facts, and I’m completely at peace with my suck-itude. I’m just here to tell you that if and when you start to think you suck at finding love and meaningful companionship, rest assured someone sucks worse than you.

Me.

🙂

J Edward Neill

Author of all kinds of relationship-y books:

101 Qs for Couples Front Cover

101 xxxy Questions Front Cover

101QSP

 

 

 

 

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