My relationship with women has been much like my relationship with the Reading Rooms at the British library, in that my attempts to be inside them continue to be unsuccessful.
People, generally happily-married females like my sister, tend to espouse platitudes such as ‘Love will come along when you’re not looking for it’ or ‘just be yourself.’ This is rather specious reasoning. Take the first phrase. If I spent my efforts not actively looking for love I would spend most of my time festering in the confines of my room, indulging in unbridled feats of onanism only limited by the bandwidth of my internet connection and my capacity to resist repetitive strain injury. As for ‘be yourself,’ this would be my modus operandi if my main predisposition in life was to alienate anybody with whom I ever came into contact.
I recently read Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground and I’m ashamed to say I felt a great affinity with its lonely, unnamed protagonist. While it’s certainly pleasurable to wallow in self-pity and further embrace misanthropy and nihilism, I’ve decided to become a man of action. Even it is only to get some action with a wo-man. For too long I have dwelled in my hole. It’s time to come out… If only I was talking about the closet; my gay friends seem to have much easier time finding love. I can only assume this is due to more favourable numbers if you’re a man looking for another man, and nothing to do with the fact that they’re alright whereas I’m a twat.
Gay or not, it seems most people tend to meet in ‘real world settings.’ According to a paper by Finkel et al (2012) published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, (a paper that I, a member of public, couldn’t be arsed to read), of around 2,200 couples in America questioned in 2005, 38% met at school or work, 34% through family and friends and 13% at a nightclub, bar or social gathering. A reluctance to date other medics, a bunch of friends exclusively made up of nerds and introverts, and a lack of rudimentary social skills have respectively made these avenues impenetrable. Actually, in truth, it’s probably just the latter of these.
Fortunately the same Finkel paper alludes to another study conducted 4 years later which suggested that 22% of US couples met online. Augmenting this, a study by parship.co.uk reckons that two-thirds of Britons have tried online dating. Clearly the taboo has dissipated, online dating has brought a significant number of people success and it’s not as if I’m going to meet anyone in the real world anytime soon.
Having given some free dating sites a shot, it seems that they’re like the contents of Bernard Matthews’ burgers, that is, they’re cock-heavy. One would have to send hundreds of messages just to sequester a single reply. That person would then invariably leave the website before I could respond with an offer of meeting up. I felt like a gambling addict futilely placing coins into a slot machine that had been cunningly tampered with by the casino so that I would never win.
Oh dear, it seems like I’m going to have to pay handsomely to meet a handsome gentlewoman. More accurately, I’m going have to pay handsomely for the chance to potentially meet a handsome gentlewoman. Even more accurately, I’m going have to pay £96 over 6 months for the chance to potentially meet a handsome gentlewoman.
Yes, I decided to join Guardian Soulmates. Several people I know have extolled the virtues of this site. What’s more, I actually read the Guardian, and it seems I’m more likely to meet someone else who rides a bicycle, reads Noam Chomsky in a transparent effort to be cool and suffers from the same internal cognitive dissonance and bourgeois guilt that stems from supposedly empathising with the proletariat yet simultaneously feasting on a diet exclusively consisting of organic hummus and quinoa.
The overarching reason for joining the website was actually that the gender ratio is close to 50:50. Ironically, I believe the whole notion of actual soulmates to be ridiculous. First of all, if you can forgive the Rain-man analysis, why would soulmates be asymmetrically distributed so that the majority of them just happen to be in the same workplace, school, swingers’ convention etc.? Secondly, the concept of ‘the one’ is just some wistful Hollywood fallacy. Let’s face it; we’re just biological organisms who assortatively mate for looks, IQ, socioeconomic status, all supposed markers of our primal genetic and immunological fitness. While many a poet may eulogise love as a paragon of some transcendental human virtue, I opine that love, at least romantic love between a man and woman, is just another state of our neural reward system designed to sustain pair-bonding and eventually child-rearing, again with the ultimate aim of passing on our genes.
Oh God, that sounds so cynical. It reminds me of a poem by Dorothy Parker that my consultant showed me:
“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Lady make note of this –
One of you is lying.”
Yet such cynicism is just a masquerade for an unrelenting yearning for love. My family love me, that’s more than a lot of other people have, but I continue to be possessed with a desire to love and be loved by a lady. Perhaps I’m being greedy? Despite my previous comparison of humans to animals, one of the distinguishing features of humans is the ability to inhibit these primitive instincts in the pursuit of a higher, abstract idea or philosophy. Consider the political prisoner who tolerates overwhelming hunger to make his protest. I’ve tried the same, but the abstract concept of nihilism or the ability to heighten my enjoyment of Scorsese’s Taxi Driver through better empathy with Travis Bickle is not strong enough to abnegate the need for love.
Shit, I’m starting to ruminate, I better go, log on and ping some messages.