Answer #293 …

… to the question, “Why are you alone?”

“No one needs anything from me.”

I like it, because it’s not directly accusatory or self-deprecating enough for anyone to be able to immediately argue with me about it. It’s a little of both, but it will require a moment of sober reflection (sober being the key) for someone unprepared to frame an argument expressing their offense.

I also like it because it is fairly cynical, and the truth of the cynicism is undeniable.

It’s also untrue. There are plenty of people out there who need what I have to offer. The real problem is that women are bad at identifying me as someone who can provide what they need.

Not Allowed to Love

I am a giving person. For most of my adult life, I have aspired to generosity. Furthermore, I have a lot to give. I experience pleasure from giving. I want to give. I want to care. I want to help.

However, it is generally believed that when a man does something nice for a woman, it is because they have an agenda (romantic or sexual). Trying to prove that they have value or something. When you look at it logically, it’s a ridiculous thing to do, unless you’re talking about monkeys bringing food to potential mates. Nevertheless, it’s a thing that guys do. It’s one of the first things guys are taught about attracting women.

And in my social circle, I am known to be single.

So when I try or offer to do something nice for a female friend, especially if they are married or in a relationship, I am required to justify myself. Literally, the intended recipient will feel confused and conflicted and ask me to explain until I provide a satisfactory explanation. They want to know why I would do that. What isn’t asked, but it is what they are trying to determine, is whether I’m trying to be nice to them so I can get inside their pants. Only when another explanation is understood am I allowed to be nice.

It’s a deeply humiliating conversation. (Let’s not even think about how horrible it would be if I was trying to express an interest in someone, and how degrading it is that even my friends would be so careful to avoid it.) It usually makes the giving not worth it, and as a result, I have (mostly) learned to not offer any of the kindnesses that occur to me.

I am dangerous because I am single. You might inadvertently obligate yourself to have sex with me if you accept help from me.

It is perhaps this more than anything that has caused me to withdraw from my social circle.

Dating Sites

One of the girls I follow on IG has been posting about needing to meet someone. (She lives far away, so I’m out of the question.) She’s probably been single for a whole week or something and is having a crisis about it. However, she posted about a dating site/app I hadn’t previously known, intended for a narrow class of people, a class that includes me, and it got me thinking, or rather daydreaming.

The daydream is as follows: I overcome my hatred of dating sites, and I actually find someone who I am interested in and who is interested in me. (It’s this girl in my fantasy, even though I know it cannot happen.) I subject myself to the tortures of dating, I’m on my game, she’s not a disaster, and we hit it off. This continues, and I strategize about how I will communicate with her toward being a couple. Then I consider all of my deeply entrenched bachelor ways that will change, and how I will happily accept those losses in trade for not being alone anymore.

And then I remember all my other attempts to use dating sites. They don’t work for me (obviously).

First I have to make a profile. I have to write something about myself, and maybe a little about what I want out of a relationship. Honesty and openness doesn’t work here, not because there’s anything wrong with me, but because honesty and openness is so extremely unusual that it sets off alarm bells. I have to answer a bunch of categorical questions, and I feel judged by them, because so many don’t really apply. My age? My height? My education (even though I am more intelligent, learned, and skilled than most “educated” people). My income (which is impressive, but seems unlikely given my education).

Then do I sit back and let the candidates come to me? Oh, no. Because even on a dating site, women feel constrained against to not make the first move. The exceptions, of course, are the scammers and the desperate women.

The scammers are plenty. Frequently, after I’ve paid money to join, and then paid more money to be upsold the basic functions of a dating site, I find that there are no real women, just fake profiles. They are easy to spot, though. They are 18-24 years old, gorgeous, have a profile that says nothing about themselves, and suggest right away that they are interested in men my age, for no-strings sex. It’s frequently obvious that they haven’t read my profile.

(The scammers want my email address, to direct my browser to some hack site, or simply money.)

I don’t want to speak ill of the desperate women, but they are what they are, and I’m not interested in them either.

Then assuming there are any real women on the site, if I find some that aren’t hideous, there’s a long list of disqualifiers. You can argue that this is a significant reason I’m still alone, and you’re not wrong, but I just can’t imagine being happy with someone who has these issues.

So then what? I have to contact them, because they won’t contact me. Form letters are no good. One word messages are no good. I end up writing individually crafted messages based on what I’ve read in their profiles (being obsessive about this is also no good). Again, openness and honesty is still no good. It’s a significant amount of effort, and it’s all wasted, because …

Maybe 10% of the people I contact will respond. 7% of them will be scammers I hadn’t managed to weed out previously. The other 3% will apologize and inform me that they don’t date people like me.

After a week or two of obsessing over the site, I will have squeezed every drop of possibility out of it, with nothing to show for it. My little spark of hope will be fully trampled, and I will be sufficiently depressed to stay away from dating sites for another year or two.

FB has been advertising their dating app to me. They do this by showing photos of me, captioned with my age. That probably works better for people whose age isn’t a liability.

The Treatment of Creepy Men

Once upon a time, there was a guy who we will call “N”. Let’s just accept as a given that N was very, very creepy. He was going to a lot of shows, and all the female performers had him on their radar. He came by himself, he always sat up front, and he always walked around with a shit-eating grin on his face. He was undoubtedly on the spectrum. He followed all the performers’ public Facebook pages. He drove quite some distance to attend shows.

I was talking to one of the performers, and the topic of N came up. The performers were worried about N. Something needed to be done about him.

I went into problem-solving mode when I heard that. Also, I felt some distant kinship to N, and I figured if I could do something about him, then perhaps it would serve to make up for some of my own creepiness.

So I started probing. What was N doing that was a problem? What were the performers worried he would do? To make a long story short, he hadn’t done anything. He was just as I’ve described him, nothing more. N hadn’t done anything to anyone, he hadn’t threatened or even implied anything inappropriate. He hadn’t said anything offensive, demeaning, or suspicious. In fact, there wasn’t a drop of toxic masculinity in him. He was just extremely creepy.

I did end up chatting him up one evening shortly after. N was a quintessential geek, but he seemed like a pretty nice guy to me. He worked in IT. He had no style sense. As I said, he was probably on the spectrum. In fact, I question whether N had ever had a malevolent thought in his life.

He was just creepy.

And because he was creepy, and for no other reason, he was nearly ostracized — from a community that preaches acceptance and tolerance, no less.

I want to be careful about generalizations, but it seems that women have an aversion to creepy men. I don’t just mean women don’t want to date them. They want them gone. They get angry about creepy men. To hear women talk, when a creepy guy talks to them, it is some kind of injustice. Again, I don’t want to make generalizations, but when I’ve heard women commiserate about creepy men, they all agree.

What if ugly women were treated that way?

Okay, ugly women are treated that way. However, it’s not condoned. The general consensus is that it is an awful way to behave. This is so universally espoused that a whole movie was made about it. It is immoral, or at least “shallow”, to treat a woman like less of a person because she is unattractive. The guys who do it tend to be ashamed enough that they rarely talk openly about it. Most of us have mothers, and we are taught early on.

What harm is done by creepiness? None. They are simply unattractive.

It is shallow to treat a woman as less of a person if she is unattractive, which for women is a mostly physical characteristic. However, it is completely normal and accepted to treat a man as less of a person if he is unattractive, which for men is mostly about personality. Do men with unattractive personalities really deserve to be treated the way they are?

A Real Consequence of Loneliness

Here is a ridiculous truth: Being attracted to a woman makes me depressed. I’ll meet a woman who is attractive and has a great personality, we’ll hit it off, and I’ll think to myself how awesome it would be to engage in a romantic relationship with her. However, she is unavailable. She doesn’t have to explicitly reject me, but the rejection is implicit because she is married, “has a boyfriend”, or we have met in a context where making advances toward a woman is not allowed. So I’ll be depressed, because I will have had a glimpse of what I cannot have in my life.

Eventually, I will detect a pattern. I will learn to associate some activity with depression and loneliness. Engaging in that activity frequently puts me in contact with attractive, unavailable women. The activity becomes more and more unpleasant because I become increasingly aware of the painful side-effect.

So, I cut the activity out of my life.

Without revealing too much about myself, I can think of three activities that were once a major part of my life, but I stopped doing them, going completely cold turkey*. Two of them I was quite passionate about.

Now, I am contemplating a fourth.

Years ago, when I quit the first one, and then the second one, I thought they were temporary. I thought that I would inevitably meet someone and be in a relationship again. If that had happened, then I would no longer feel lonely and depressed when interacting with desirable women. Thus, I could return to those activities, a healthy male who doesn’t have to view every desirable woman as an opportunity and/or a rejection. However, that never happened (a fact which should be obvious, since I’m writing this blog).

It is ironic, perhaps, that each of these is to some degree a social activity. Technically, I am helping to seal my fate of being alone the rest of my life.

Perhaps instead I should come up with some other coping mechanism than running away. However, the coping mechanisms I’ve tried so far suck.

[* The etymology of the phrase “cold turkey” is fascinating.]


For men, creepy is the opposite of attractive. Socially confident men are attractive. Men who are not socially confident are unattractive. Men who are not socially confident, but who pretend to be, are creepy.

When a woman puts on a fake smile, she is sparing someone’s feelings, or she is behaving professionally, or something else innocuous. You may be able to tell her smile is fake, but there’s nothing wrong with it. When a man puts on a fake smile to talk to a woman, it’s creepy.

[This is not a lesson for men on being attractive. For that, read the PUA literature.]

The difference between attractive and creepy can be razor thin, and it’s completely subjective. That’s probably the reason it’s such a problem for women. It’s also the reason I have so much anxiety about whether I’m creepy or not.

My father was creepy sometimes, and I am much like him. During the few years he was divorced, he used to hit on girls, mostly cashiers half his age at the grocery store, and he was so bad at it. It was obvious to me at the time. Was it obvious to him? Did he know his dry humor was going over like a lead balloon? He didn’t seem to. If he was blind to his own creepiness, then it stands to reason that I am too. Did my mom know he was creepy when they dated and got married? She certainly knew after they divorced. I’m fairly certain part of my mom’s self-esteem issues result from having been married to such a small man.

I’ve basically asked women, though not in so many words, if I’m creepy, but who’s going to give you an honest answer to a question like that? Anyway, I’ve only asked this of women who were into me one way or another. I can’t rationally put any value in their responses. It’s no different than all the women who told me they liked my mullet.

I’ve certainly done some things that, in retrospect, were definitely creepy. Sending flowers to a girl, or kissing a girl, who I mistakenly thought was interested in me; that kind of thing. [Actually, I can’t think of any examples of creepiness on my part outside of that. Interesting.] Worse, they didn’t just happen; they were reputational. They occurred in the presence of people who were central to my social circle.

The more time that passes, the creepier I get. This isn’t because I’m getting old (although if I didn’t act my age, it would contribute to my real creepiness). It’s because I have been intentionally embracing antisociality, and I am shedding social habits. I guess that’s not creepy by itself, but it seems creepy when I imagine myself then trying to meet a woman.

Layers of Loneliness

Loneliness is felt in many different ways, each with different triggers. You can think of them as layers. Loneliness isn’t just one of these layers, it is all of them combined.

There’s horniness. I probably don’t need to explain that.

There is the absence of having someone to share your life with, someone to care about you. This is probably what most people think of when someone uses the word “lonely”. It comes at all times of the day, at all of those moments where you would normally share something with someone else. If you have ever been in a long term relationship, you have settled into all kinds of sharing habits. Hey, here is something interesting, something beautiful. Hey, I have good news. Hey, I’m feeling bad about something and I need consoling. Then, when there is no one around to fill that role, you’re constantly turning to empty air, sharing yourself with no one. What before was a constant link to someone special is now a constant reminder that there is no one there.

Beyond those layers, it gets complicated, because you begin to grapple with the reasons why you are alone.

First, you struggle to understand why you are alone. Other people make it seem easy to fall into the next relationship. If you can’t, then there must be something wrong, something wrong with you. Deep introspection is called for, and knowing yourself is difficult. If you’re like me, you’ll actually come up with a long list of reasons. Some of them aren’t necessarily bad things, but they still serve to keep you alone. Perhaps you can work to improve some of them. But sometimes you can’t, or you don’t want to, or you’ll feel like a fake if you change those things. Worst of all, however, is that you’ll never fully understand why. Some of the reasons you come up with will be wrong. Some may be overemphasized.

Even if ex-partners have given you reasons why they are leaving, you don’t know whether they are telling the truth, whether they are telling you something easier to spare your feelings, whether they are mistaken about you, whether what is important to them is important to everyone, whether their problem with you really stems from their own problem, or if they’re just saying things to try to hurt you.

Ultimately, you’ll never know. You’ll come up with a long list, but you have no reliable way to verify or confirm from an outside source which are correct, which are wrong, and which are the most responsible. It’s a list of possibilities with no conclusion. In the end, you just don’t know. Not knowing is something you have to find a way to live with, and that’s part of what it means to be alone.

(One of the problems with this part of loneliness is that you feel like you can’t talk about it with friends. Friends can see you from the outside, the way potential romantic partners might see you. However, it’s humiliating to ask people about the things that are wrong with you. More importantly, no one will be honest with you. What friend wants to be brutally honest with you about the things that are wrong with you? It’s what you really need, but no one will do that for you. It’s even harder for them if the things they see about you are things you can’t change. It’s harder for you too, but even if you can’t do anything about those things, it would still be better to know. Not knowing is just endlessly frustrating.)

The next layer after that is the way you feel about each of those reasons. How does it make you feel, for example, to know that you suck at talking to strangers? Other people do it, and they make it seem effortless. They even seem to enjoy it, and some of them even take special pride in their ability. Why can’t you do it? You’ve tried to learn how, tried to learn how to break past the barriers, but it’s so exhausting, and in the end you’ve really only managed it occasionally as a matter of dumb luck. What kind of person are you if you can’t do this basic human function? It makes you feel like shit, that’s how it makes you feel. Like you are broken.

Which is the next layer. You are broken. Honestly, everyone is broken in some way or another. So now you must revise your self image to include this broken aspect of yourself. Which hurts. And honestly, it’s hard not to dwell on this. Many people make a full time job of dwelling on their inadequacies, but even if you’re not one of those people, all of the constant reminders that you are alone are going to send you back to thinking about this.

Fine. You are broken, so accept it, right? Wrong, for two reasons. For one thing, as I’ve mentioned above, you don’t actually know which things are broken and which things you’ve maybe just over-thought. How can you revise your self-image with a set of flaws, accept it, and move on, if you don’t actually know which flaws are real? And secondly, accepting it and moving on doesn’t actually solve your loneliness. The best you can really do is stop worrying about while you struggle with your loneliness. “Moving on” in this case is just continuing to be alone.

And then there are layers of humiliation.

Every person you have met and desired, and with whom you are not now in a relationship, is a story of humiliation. They may have explicitly rejected you. They may have implicitly rejected you by having or showing absolutely no interest in you. Your own limitations may have prevented you from making your interest known to them. They may be in a relationship already and have, by implication, already chosen someone better than you. Your desire for them does not go away, and you think about them, perhaps often, and when you do, replay and relive the rejection and all of your failures and inadequacies.

Everyone can see that you are alone. Every time you show up at a gathering where everyone but you has brought a +1. Every time your friends are making small talk and make the innocent blunder of asking you if you have met anyone, or why you are still alone. Every time they ask you why you are still alone (!). Every time one of your friends tries to set you up with someone. Any time you break pattern and actually bring a date, someone new they haven’t met before, and your friends all want to know if this is going to work out so they can congratulate you on breaking your loneliness.

Your friends of the opposite gender, or their significant others, who view you as a threat and treat you reservedly because you’re single.

For men, who are attractive because of their confidence and therefore unattractive because of their feelings of inadequacy, these feelings just compound the problem and dig the hole deeper. For women, who view attraction through this lens, these feelings compound their own depression.

Eventually, it all resolves into a general and unspecific feeling of being a lesser person. Some people wake up in the morning and take stock of the good things in their life. That’s almost impossible for me, because when I wake up, the realization sets in immediately that I am alone, because I suck, and nothing I do today is going to change that. Every reminder of my loneliness now skips rational thought and goes directly to this vague feeling of being set aside by fate for special punishment.

Why am I Antisocial?

I just worked out a short, simple, and straightforward explanation about why I have turned toward an antisocial mindset:

It uses significant energy, emotional and otherwise, to find a relationship partner, to maintain a relationship, and to maintain one’s self to be a worthy relationship partner. After two decades of constantly expending that energy, with nothing to show for it, I decided to stop.

Why a Blog?

Hi. My name is Michael, and this is my loneliness blog.

I’ll go ahead and christen this blog with a post explaining why I’ve created it, which is simply this: to be heard.

Being heard is not easy for someone who is alone. Loneliness is a constant burden of pain and suffering. (I’m sure I will elaborate on that at length another time.) I want to tell someone. I want to be comforted. But who? And how?

The woman with whom I am in a relationship, who loves me and supports me by listening to me explain my inner pain, and comforts me, and tells me it’s alright? Obviously not.

My platonic friends are no good, either. They all want to understand, in a conversation, the reason I am alone, and then help me solve it. However, there is no single reason. There are many factors, some which I understand, and some which are mysteries to me. Soon, there will be a whole blog full discussions about of the various factors that contribute to my loneliness. Ultimately, the overall cause of my loneliness is unknowable. And solutions? I’ve already tried them all. Don’t think I haven’t, and don’t think you’re going to suggest something I haven’t thought of in all these years. The bottom line is that these conversations are always repetitive, humiliating, and not helpful.

I will also add that some of my friends are women with whom I would rather have a romantic, rather than platonic, relationship. Their existence aggravates my feelings of loneliness that much more. Worse, some of them know this, and I can’t even mention my loneliness without implying some kind of blame.

I have tried using fiction as an outlet. I haven’t completely given up on this, but let me tell you, no one wants to read about a lonely character who stays lonely. Readers expect some kind of happy ending. The girl falls for the guy in the end. The character learns to be content with his loneliness. I have done neither, and I’m not happy. I can’t write that.

So that leaves what, Facebook? Anonymous pleas to be heard but not helped? I’ll assume that everyone reading this has learned the hard way that Facebook is only to be used for happy thoughts and politics.

Many years ago, when my loneliness was still kind of new, I frequently wrote about it in a journal along with everything else about me, in an online venue where I thought I might actually meet someone. That backfired, because instead of being viewed as a possible romantic partner, I was regarded as something more like a science experiment or a reality TV show. I was interesting only as a source of insight.

Once I figured that out, I switched to writing in a private journal. It has been very beneficial to me for structuring my thoughts, but obviously I am not heard. Everything is contained, and I am even more isolated.

The other day, I unloaded on someone, explaining why I don’t like to talk about my loneliness. Ironically, it felt good to talk about why I don’t want to talk about it. I realized that I do want to talk about it, but in a way that lets me control the conversation.

So here we are. What do I expect this blog to become? Possibly a guide to understanding people who are chronically lonely. Possibly a comfort to others who suffer from loneliness. I don’t know. All I do know is that I want to write it and be heard.