Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ambivalence




I read this article titled Japan singletons hit record high earlier today and I found myself drifting off and imagining a life where I'm still single past 34. It's never really crossed my mind to think that I'd still be single that age. That's in a little over 6 years. I graduated from college 6 years ago.

Whoa.

I can only speculate why this is so high in Japan compared to other countries. My guess is that while it's very modern and its standard of living is still very high in comparison to many other nations around the world, it's also gone through a brutal recessionary period the past 20 years. So you have a culture where traditional gender roles are still pretty prominent, but men can no longer be providers because there are no opportunities. Because of this, the men find different ways to occupy their time instead of on women, and with the women not being approached by men they do the same in return. Because of the bad economy, these people also tend to live at home with their parents well into "adult" age.


Think about all the vastly different things Japan has in terms of hobbies, foods, literature, and all the activities you can do. You can occupy your time in endless ways. It's a totally repressed culture that has some of the craziest ways to let loose...game shows and fashion for example. It's easy to stay single well into your 30s with all these factors at hand.

Anyway...relationships are interesting to think about. The longest relationship I've had ended over 7 years ago, and lasted roughly 2 years. Since then I've had 3 girlfriends and I've dated several other women. Throughout these years I've tried several approaches to meeting women; through friends, through organisations I've participated in, volunteering, at the bar, from yoga class, at the grocery store, online, and chance encounters.


One of the main things I've learned is that you have to be genuine...you have to be doing whatever you're doing for the right reasons or people will see right through it. Like if you go to yoga, you have to really want to do yoga and meeting women needs to be a secondary objective or it's not going to happen. You can see how well that worked out. Just kidding...I do enjoy yoga, but I hate it when there are only 2 guys in the class including myself, and of all the places the other guy can place his mat, he places it in front of mine...party foul man, party foul.

Another thing I've learned is that when you meet a new woman, you have to immediately act a certain way in order to not be slotted into the so called dreaded "friend zone." The friend zone sucks! Imagine getting to know someone really well, who laughs at your jokes and has a lot of fun with you. You think there might be something there, so you take your time to build courage up to say something, and while you're doing this you're building up expectations or an idea of who they are in your head and not who they really are.


You end up pining away for someone who enjoys your company but in the end they don't reciprocate your feelings because they don't see you "in that way." It makes you wonder why and causes you to think about how you would do all these things for them and you make yourself out to be a martyr and what not. It's self-pity and unhealthy really. This is something that took me a while to learn in and after college, as I was a naive young boy instead of a well adjusted young man.

So...the way you have to act is expressing your interest in her as more than a friend...or in other words, flirting (revelation of the ages, I know.) The context can be in terms of dating, just a hookup, or marriage if you so choose...anything. If you don't do this then they'll just assume you're not interested in them in that way (no duh) or if they didn't consider you in that way in the first place, they will now. You have to do this in the beginning before you get to know each other too well or it's the fast lane to the friend zone.


Ever since I came to that realisation shortly after college, a couple things changed. I started dating more women (this is a relative term, as it was not many at all before) and my relationships became shorter. My initial reaction to why this was happening is because I became more direct in my intentions so less time was wasted if someone wasn't interested, and I now had more options if things weren't working out (as bad as that sounds.)

Upon further inflection I think it's because I didn't get to know these women on a deeper level, and I wasn't ready for commitment, at least not the level they were looking for...or they would feel that way about me. When you primarily communicate with someone by flirting and don't get serious with them...they don't really get to know who you are and vice versa. It feels like you're wearing a mask; I didn't feel like I was being myself; the version they got of me when I was around them was not who I really was, but a caricature. You get caught up so much with not being in the friend zone that you force yourself not to act in a way you think may place you in there, so in the end you're witholding yourself and being disingenuous. You're not really there.


So where do you go from here? I have a lot of platonic female friends...a lot of guy friends give me crap for it but what can I say, I enjoy the company of women even if I'm not seeing them "in that way." It's been a blessing because I've learned a lot about women because of these relationships and they are not nearly as foreign to me as before. The problem with this is because I am friends with several different types of women who are amazing in their own regard, when you date a woman whose personality isn't as awesome as one of your female friends it's a bother, especially after the honeymoon period when all the sexual tension ends and you see them for who they are without their "mask."

I've come to an impasse in my life about how to get into a relationship with a woman.

I heavily prefer getting to know someone first before getting involved with them physically or intimately. It feels more natural and not as forced...like hitting on someone at the bar. You want someone to want to be with you for who you really are, and not how they imagine you to be or off first impressions. However, if you do that you run the risk of getting slotted into the friend zone. If you don't, at least from my experience, you don't really get to know the woman for who they are and they of you...because it's a superficial getting to know you that's mostly based on sexual attraction and tension. How do you reconcile the two? It's something I'll need to figure out in the future...


Don't get me wrong, I'm content being single at the moment, but I don't imagine I'll be single when I'm 34...at least, I'd rather not be.

Relationships are interesting.

Maybe I'll turn Japanese.

Maybe not.

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