(AUTHOR’S NOTE: This follows my earlier blog post published back in February 2014 – On Being And Living Single. I encourage you to read this one in its entirety, instead of simply browsing and leaving a general comment.)
One must not sulk too much after a breakup.
And this is exactly what I did when my first relationship fell apart. I had no excuse to say that I can’t meet other women anymore, now that I was single. I downloaded dating apps such as Tinder, Bumble, and TanTan — and accompanying messaging apps such as Telegram and Kik. I also signed up for Reddit and frequented the Philippine edition of the r4r subreddit. I also frequented Omegle aside from the steps I mentioned. All this — with the hope of meeting someone, talking to her, dating exclusively, until the relationship forms. I’ve read success stories about men who find their wives on dating apps and websites like Omegle and Reddit. Easy, right? I mean, I’m an introvert myself and I prefer a one-on-one approach than firing a shotgun loaded with bird shot.
Boy, I was dead wrong. Those things were the exception rather than the norm.
My height and brain were the only weapons I had. The attractive ones were usually picky and demanded a lot more from men. I did get some matches and talked to them for some time, but the conversations fell through and ended in radio silence. This went on for months with no apparent resolution whatsoever. These sites look at external factors such as face value and muscle structure, which I lack. I thought I’d stand a chance on dating apps, but let’s face it – extroverts will rule here!
Interestingly, I’ve read some articles about incels (involuntary celibates) whilst working on this post. These are men who cannot find romantic love, sex, or both despite their efforts to do so. Notorious mass killers such as Elliot Rodger and Alek Minassian have been linked to this movement, stemming from frustration brought about by failed romantic pursuits and things beyond their control. To borrow incel terminology, the girls fall for Chads. I’m no Chad; I lean more towards Kevin the accounting manager. I used to have disdain for incels, but now that I am in their shoes – that disdain has turned to a deeper understanding. You develop pity, compassion, even sympathy when you are chopped down and driven to the ground.
Until one day…the heartbreaks, disappointment, and frustration simply boiled over. I deleted my accounts in the dating apps I signed up for, deleted my Reddit account, and removed the apps on my phone. Concurrently, I also removed the messaging apps after deactivating my account. All my efforts do not pay off, so why waste further time? If I had bad luck when it came to meeting women offline, it sure followed me on cyberspace. For the first time, I understood how Elliot Rodger felt. It came full circle; I finally felt how to be under-appreciated for being who you are. Surely, revenge is but a tempting proposition, but I’m thankful that it never crossed my mind. The Lord decided to step in through this seminar, and I can also credit it for keeping me away from doing something bad.
I’m single again and I’ve returned to where I began. Now, permit me to continue my story and share what I have learned.
1. Learn to forgive.
It is tempting to lash out at the world when your heart has been hurt. Letting go of the hate and sadness in your heart fills it with compassion; you look at the world and your past circumstances with serenity. What you cannot change, you accept with passive yet merciful stoicism. In turn, you gain wisdom and realize that negative things that happen to other people are but products of their bad actions and worse choices to justify the latter. You feel pity instead of disgust, compassion instead of revulsion. The Buddha once said that anger is like holding a piece of white-hot coal in your hand with the intent of throwing it at an enemy. Instead of your enemy being hurt, it’s you.
I’ve been ghosted by women many times before, but none was so poignant as this encounter. I matched with this 20-year-old on Bumble, who happened to be a fellow Atenean and northerner. We talked for a few weeks and even planned out how our first date would go. This went on for a month, until that dreaded day arrived. She stopped replying altogether and blocked me on the chat app we were on. I checked my previous messages, wondering if something I said ticked her off. Obviously, I felt a strong emotion because I tried my best to reach out despite my introversion — and this is what I get in return. Now that some time has passed and I have the gift of hindsight, I felt sad for her. One must have been really broken inside to lead people into meaningful conversations and then pull off a fast one. If anything, this incident reflects who she really is more than who I am.
2. Do not repay evil for evil.
These words aren’t mine, as they belong to the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie (born Tafari Makonnen). Emperor Selassie gave this as a reminder during a speech he delivered upon his return to Abyssinia. During World War II, Fascist Italy (under Benito Mussolini) occupied Ethiopia from 1936 to 1941. However, Ethiopian forces backed by the British were able to reclaim the country and drive out the Italians, paving the way for Selassie’s return on May 5, 1941. Selassie, considered by the Rastafarian movement as the promised messiah, has a good point. Why? Life is too short to hold grudges. Repay evil with another vile act, and it makes you no different from the perpetrator. You simply went down to their level.
I distinctly remember a recent instance wherein this user from Reddit attacked me for “not being honest.” Instead of actively engaging this user and triggering a flame war, I replied cordially. I eventually stopped replying after this user insisted on arguing and using ad hominem attacks. Besides, is a victory in an internet argument worth celebrating? If anything, it’s a waste of time – time that could have been used for more productive endeavors. This reminds me of an image shared by a Facebook friend: “in a world where you can be anything, be kind.” A lot of women have outright rejected me on the r4r subreddit and the temptation to lash out was always present. In the end, I replied in a cordial manner thanking them for considering my message from square one.
3. Stop pursuing altogether.
Do not blame yourself for the lack of love that comes your way. You do not and are not obliged to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Who are you, Atlas the titan of Greek mythology? Some things happen just because! The world turns on its axis, the river flows downstream and empties into the sea, the leaves turn red and fall off the tree during autumn. Blaming elements such as your skull shape, wrist size, height, bone structure and what-have-you is a exercise in futility. The French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec only stood 4’8″, but he left an indelible legacy in the work of art.
The ideal is what it is: an ideal, an intangible and perfect concept that does not exist in the imperfect world. It is a fool’s errand to continue pursuing that which you cannot obtain, all possibilities considered. I have an ideal woman that I dream of marrying: tall, short boyish hair, and slim. If not all qualities, maybe two of these will do – which my first relationship had. But sadly “forever” isn’t forever and this one didn’t work out. There are times that I feel jealous of men and women in a relationship, both in real life and online. I would also ask myself whenever a woman of my standards would pass by or I would see this female user’s posts on social media: would she give me the time of day? Eventually, good reason would prevail – if no one gives you the time of day, what more these types of people?
Here’s one to conclude. Years ago, I complained about the lack of a love life – and God took pity on me. I could say I definitely screwed up four years later, but things just happen. I do not know if God will give me another chance at love after seeing how I failed or this will be my last one. But all I know is this: I’ve had my shot at love and I’m thankful for it despite not ending happily. I am lucky to have experienced romantic love, something that most would wait a lifetime for. Now that it’s gone, it’s back to reality for me. Experience is the best teacher, and the tuition it imparts is worth more than its weight in gold.
God compensates with understanding that which is lacking in your heart. Such is the price to be paid for wisdom!