It’s Tom here again with some background about me to help put this whole love quest thing into context.
Let’s see. I’m a 48 year old single white male. I never married, never had children, nor do I want to. I’m 5’ 8’’ tall at 179 pounds. Currently, I live where I grew up, in central, PA. However, in my working life of nearly 20 years, I’ve lived in Dayton, OH, Pittsburgh, PA, and Philadelphia, PA.
I began my education in public school. At that time, I lived at home with my parents and sisters, like most kids. But in third grade, I switched to a special needs school in Pittsburgh due to weak eyesight, which affected me since birth.
Well, if I had it my whole life you may ask, then why didn’t I switch schools sooner? Because the low vision did not lower my grades in the early years, and I liked being close to my family. The teachers in kindergarten through second grade accommodated me lovingly. They liked me and were eager to help. So my grades stayed very good, my self-confidence kept pretty high, and I got along well with the other kids.
But it got harder to keep up as the lessons grew more complicated, as they had in third grade. Kids teased me then about my thick glasses, threw rocks at me, and beat me up in the school yard at recess. I grew frustrated since I could no longer follow the training, and teachers grew impatient as I got angrier. I missed more and more of the lessons, as teachers taught more with chalk boards, overheads, and copies of their handwritten notes; which I could not read well without getting very close. If I was going to have any chance at a good education, I needed a different school; one equipped to handle low-vision kids like me. So, in February, 1970, I left the school across the street for, hopefully, a more positive learning experience in Pittsburgh.
Of course, this meant living much of the school year away from home since each way to Pittsburgh took more than two hours. So with the new school over a hundred miles away, I stayed there overnight during the week. The only times I saw my family were the weekends and on summer breaks. Initially, this adjustment hurt all of the family, and my Mom agonized for years over whether she should have sent me away. In the end though, we all agree that she chose wisely, and I’m grateful to her for sticking to it though she missed me and cried over it often. I cried too, especially on Sunday nights, for the first couple years. But I’m glad we all stuck with the new school, as it did what we’d hoped it would by giving me a second, much better chance at a decent education.
Though my vision is low, it’s always been stable, thank goodness. I have enough to be productive in many “sighted” activities. I read large print, take buses, and watch TV. I know what colors are. My favorite is a deep yet vibrant blue. I maintain the house, doing most repairs and enhancements myself. I fix computers, mow the lawn, do light construction, perform plumbing and electrical repairs, and I paint. I know how to use power tools like drills, saws, sanders, and heat guns. That great school in Pittsburgh taught me well how to better apply the vision I had to maximize my independence and productivity.
However, the biggest drawback of my reduced sight is that I cannot drive. This fact has complicated my love quest greatly since good old sweet sixteen. In fact, many women who’ve rejected me confirmed this. “I can’t date you,” they’d say with a tone that challenged my audacity to ask them out in the first place. “You don’t drive,” as though I should have known better than to seek their affections. Nonetheless, finding sustained pleasure in love remains my top priority. Though my eyes are weak, everything else is strong; including a desire to enjoy fulfilling erotic relationships.
The search has been hard for different reasons at different times. During high school, I struggled because there weren’t many girls there that I wanted. Why? The high school was small, with less than 150 boys and girls combined, and of all the girls, only four to six interested me romantically. Of these, three were too old. Plus, the remaining three were quite popular with the other boys. Thus, competition was fierce, leaving the pickings quite slim. So I had few dates in high school, and no one ever asked me out first.
I was also quite shy. The prettiest girls scared me most. The more I wanted them, the more I feared approaching them. This meant that the girls I desired most were the least likely to know that I wanted them. I never quenched my teenage thirst for great sex. Not until well after finishing high school (which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing), did I ever score. Looking back on that time from here in 2009, I’m glad I didn’t have sex and am thankful that I never got anyone pregnant. But in the 70s, I hated this abstinence forced on me as it was by the circumstances at the school, by what some described as my average looks, and my own fears.
My fear seemed my worst enemy. So, I spent the first decade or two of my love quest, trying to rid myself of it; striving first to understand it, then learning how to beat it, and finally, once I realized that I couldn’t beat it, learning to happily live with it. I’ll share how this came about in upcoming episodes.
Fear turned out to be quite the foe. I could neither silence it with alcohol, nor marijuana, nor a hundred self-help books, nor direct confrontation, and not with years of psychotherapy. Fear has been such an encompassing and basic part of my conscience that eliminating it completely proved impossible. So I’ve not destroyed it. However, I do go after what I want, even though the fear accompanies me everywhere. I negotiate with it and sometimes, it allows me to speak.
I’ve made peace with fear, and learned to tell my desires to women, not so much in spite of it, but rather through working with it. What do I mean by that? Well nowadays, I see fear as a protective parent or older brother, watching over and guiding me, using its strong but gentle hand to steer me away from situations likely to be fruitless. But I didn’t discover until well into adulthood that fear almost never the bad guy, and there are times when it does not restrain me, even around the tallest, thinnest, most attractive women. Sometimes, it allows me to approach. And those situations were the most likely to turn into full-blown, happy relationships; more so than when I chose to ignore it and press on without considering its counsel. Few (if any) times where I defied my fear ever turned out good. In retrospect, I should have listened to it more that I did. It has wisdom and so it knows when the women like me and when they don’t, and it permits me to approach those that do and pushes me away from those who’d rather I fly a kite. I’ve come to understand how that works and I hope you’ll check out future episodes for more details.
Though in my teens, fear kept me away from almost every pretty girl, at times I rose above it and made my interest known. However, usually the very thing happened that I feared: They rejected me and threw in some distain and jeers for good measure. My fear knew what it was talking about when it said, “Stay clear of this one.” Nonetheless, I enjoyed some potent romantic times. A few girls said yes. A few girls, my fear permitted me to seek out.
One case was our tenth grade prom. That date turned out to be perhaps the best romantic date I ever had before or since. I asked this female employee if she’d go with me. When she agreed, I almost fainted with thrill. The date turned out well and even today, I remember most every minute of it. But because I was a minor (sixteen at the time), she wouldn’t go out with me again. And by the time I came of age, she had left the school and I, in this pre-Internet era, could not locate her though I tried.
Besides the prom date, I had a “first love”, called [First Love] in the blogs here, and it was in eleventh grade that my passion for her really ignited. But for various reasons, anxiety tainted that association because her first love was someone other than me, and, I knew it. Plus, she and I had very different values. I was too young to understand that intellectually, although my conscience got it loud and clear. And so, at least during high school, we never connected romantically; although I daydreamed about her often during class, as I watched her much more than I paid attention to the teacher. She was just so beautiful, and I’m certain I failed a few exams due to focusing too much on her.
She and I had a few encounters. But she’d never come as my date to school activities. True, we’d dance sometimes and she’d let me hold her hand once every several blue moons, though she never squeezed back. She’d allow me to nuzzle her shoulder during a slow dance. But her arms only rested on my shoulders; never drawing me closer. Not in high school anyhow. Once in a while, she’d even come out with me for pizza or movie, at my prompting of course. But she never invited me to go with her anywhere. Any activity where we’d be announced as a couple, she rejected. In fact, I had asked her to our tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade proms as well as numerous dances and field trips. But she always said no, though she said yes to others. This hurt, and the pains of her repeated rejections followed me though many of the early years of my love quest. Let’s just call her [First Love]. She really was that and to me, because [First Love] always came first. I would have taken her to the tenth grade prom. But I took the employee instead, since [First Love] rejected me. Nowadays, I don’t see the employee lady as second best even though she was not my first choice, because I ended up falling in love with her afterwards, once I realized just how memorable that prom date was. Still though, my feelings for [First Love] never wavered and I would continue chasing her for many years; long after the employee departed, and long after high school ended.
Of course I did more than just quest for a girlfriend as a student. I enjoyed repairing electronic devices and dabbling in amateur radio; I loved anything electronic. Additionally, I worked several little jobs as a teen, which included a kitchen helper, a telephone switchboard operator, and receptionist. I sold Christmas trees each December to raise funds for the school, and I played music at our dances. I also managed the school radio station and interned at KDKA radio in 12th grade. These jobs made me feel important and confident, and this I thought, gave me a leg up on the competition for girls. Though I loved the fun of this work, I did it to attract more girls as well. The jobs paid money and as I saw it, girls liked money and guys who had it. So anything I could do to make more of it, I did.
Electronics, specifically radio, fascinated me. This was a good thing too because aside from a few friendships, it was the only pursuit that distracted me from feeling sad for not having a girlfriend. I cried often after seeing girls I wanted hanging out with men I deemed beneath me. Yet those girls avoided me like I was beneath them! They seemed to view me as badly as I did their loser boyfriends. They saw me as the loser, and those losers as winners. Go figure. I didn’t get it. How they could want those cads and not me? I thought this was because I appeared ugly to them. Indeed, some of them said this to me. But over all, I didn’t believe them. So, I kept pressing for a good date. True, I got frustrated often for not finding good ones. But never did I consider my looks a curse, nor did I obsess over them.
I rarely used cologne or dressed up, and did little to enhance my appearance beyond the daily bathing, shaving, nail cutting, hair grooming, teeth brushing, and wearing clean clothes and deodorant. I was secure about my looks even though some said I was plain and unappealing. I never wore designer clothes, gold necklaces, or name brand shoes because I was fine and whole without them. Indeed, as I looked in the mirror to straighten my hair, I liked the guy looking back. He was reasonably handsome with much going for him, and he should be able to attract the girls he liked. Yet in high school, no girl ever desired him back. They laughed as he passed or scurried away on the street as they walked arm-in-arm with their thuggish boyfriends; those guys with the rap sheets that terrorized us civilized folk. The girls preferred these “bad boys” to him. To me: me who never had a police record; me, who got drunk only seven times in high school; me, who never beat up anyone; me, who had better grades; and me who had the promise of a good career in electronics. All these good things that I had, those losers did not. So what did they have that drove the girls wild? With all the jobs and good performing I was doing, I thought I should have been more attractive than the losers. But the girls disagreed. The fact that I wasn’t confounded and confused me, and I’d spend many an hour pondering why this was so through the rest of my love quest.
My powerlessness to answer led me through years of depression, which stretched way beyond high school, and sometimes, affects me to this very day. But as I entered adulthood, electronics kept me sane and made all this bearable. It gave me something besides dating to focus on. While studying, I could forget the nasty looks and words from pretty girls. So, I continued studying radio and TV repair into the mid 80s.
In fact, upon my 1979 graduation, I attended trade school for two years. There as well as at the school for blind children, I only saw a few ladies at Connelley that I liked, but more than in high school. There weren’t many female students in the electronics classes, although the school taught other subjects that drew more just down the hall. Still, I was too scared to approach any ladies. I liked one woman in my advanced electronics class. As usual though, I was too afraid to tell her. But she figured it out after catching me watching her a few times. Flattered she was, but not interested in dating me. So while I did well in trade school scholastically, I had still made no love connections. No matter though because two months after graduation in 1981, I was onto my next adventure; my first full-time job.
In August, I got a temporary job as an electronics technician, also in Pittsburgh. The first few months were hectic because I had no direct supervisor to teach me about the equipment I’d be repairing. There was no senior technician because that fellow had taken ill some months earlier. With him gone, his office soon filed up with hundreds of broken audio visual devices. So once that pile got real big, they felt compelled to bring in someone temporary to repair some it. So they hired me.
I was all alone with this mountain of malfunctioning projectors, TV monitors, and video cassette recorders. My mission: To fix it all. It was nice though, because no one pressured me. They understood that I, fresh from trade school and the only technician there, was in way over my head. Soon however, I could repair three to six items per day once I learned how things worked and how to order parts. Fortunately, most projects were simple — such as frayed power cords, broken belts, missing knobs, and burned out lights. Yet, there was much to do, simple though it was.
As in trade school, again I feared failing and so, spent many extra hours at the office and took home manuals to read over the weekends. I so wanted not to screw it up. Thus until the senior technician returned, I didn’t have time to think about women. I was all about the job at that point.
But ten weeks after I started, the boss man returned. I thought that I’d be laid off. However, the directors liked my work so much that they voted to keep me on to assist, until we finished fixing that massive pile of equipment. With two guys working, it soon disappeared. Then, they asked me to stay for over a year more, and I soon realized that I didn’t have to work so hard to please them. So I had time to resume my love quest, and resume it I did.
Four ladies at work caught my eye. I was still too afraid to say to ladies that I liked them directly. So I’d let them know by just hanging around them until they got it. Then, either they’d pull me aside and say that they knew I was interested and that they’d love to go out (which never happened at that job). Or they’d say sadly that they already had boyfriends and that, while they’d love to go out, they couldn’t. This always happened. I wrung out all four ladies this way, and you guessed it. None were available. So, with no one there left to pursue, that familiar ache of loneliness soon came back again. The excitement of the new job along with the hope of meeting a special lady there was gone.
To cope, I sought religion. Perhaps while following this story, you’ve wondered about my religious background. So let me say that I am neither religious nor spiritual these days. Though raised Catholic, as I matured, believing in things through sheer faith became impossible; especially once my beloved and devout grandmother passed away in 1980. I’ve always been a terrible follower, and so believed in nothing in my early twenties, simply because another said I should. I’m a concrete guy, and so, must sense it for myself to believe it with conviction. However, all of that notwithstanding, as a young adult I attended church often. In 1982, church was good. The people welcomed me and that felt nice. But it was just a distraction, for it left my heart still empty once the services were over. I enjoyed that temporary respite though, because anything (even church) was better than sitting at home on a pretty Sunday morning, alone, with nothing to do. With each passing year, I grew less and less spiritual. But it would be fourteen more years until I completely dismissed the church as a useful means to feel less lonely for having no lovers.
My interest in church came in spits and spurts. So after several months, church lost its appeal as this particular spurt came to an end. I knew that I’d probably not meet my lady there because all of them seemed to believe more strongly than I in God. The whole speaking-in-tongues thing and the faith-healing was just plain crazy to me, and so I could not respect women who believed so strongly without proof. Blind Faith and I never got along, and so I felt guilty attending. Parishioners questioned me about why I was going and suggested I stop until I “saw the light.” So I did stop going regularly in late 1982 once I realized that love questing in church would probably be a fruitless endeavor.
Currently, I’m agnostic – neither believing nor disbelieving in God. He may be out there. He may not. I can’t prove it either way; nor can anyone else for that matter. That’s good enough for me, but not so for women at large who generally believe in a greater entity that regulates their lives and helps them succeed when they follow his rules. They call me a humanist and one even said that I was a son of the devil and kept her children away from me, fearing that I’d corrupt their views about heaven and hell and how God wants us to serve him. I fear not the possibility of no life after death as they do. I’m fully prepared to embrace this if it turns out that way. But without strong faith and hope in a life hereafter, the love quest got harder; not because God was thwarting me, but because the women I encountered looked down on me for questioning. Staying true to my beliefs has cost me dearly in my love quest.
Long ago, I stopped arguing religion. Nonetheless, when I was a stronger believer in the 70s and early 80s, I spent hours a week praying to God, asking him to brighten my dark heart, and bring the woman of my dreams to me. Well, he never did, even after two decades of praying. Indeed I’ve done better in my search by myself, once I stopped believing that he’d do it for me. God was not going to win my love quest for me. No, if this would ever happen, I’d have to do it myself.
But I digress. So let me get back to my job.
Eighteen months into the job, in the spring of 1983, I realized that I could not earn the money I wanted fixing home entertainment devices. Nor had I found a true love at Pitt. It didn’t look like I would either, for I had quickly run through all the women in mine and surrounding departments. Like I said, none would date me. Though I made my own money, aloneness still followed me everywhere. Thus far, the women weren’t impressed with my achievements, hard to achieve as they were, and successful as I was at achieving them.
So when that tech position ended, I went in a new direction; to college for computer programming, a career that promised a higher wage, and would bring more desirable ladies to me, which it eventually did. But during the first two years, I made only three new friends because I was a bookworm. As usual, I was terribly afraid of failing, and since I’d been out of high school for nearly five years, rusty in my reading and writing skills too. So, besides the usual college level work, I also had to relearn many of those forgotten skills. This left little time for socializing between 1984 and 1986, as I spent most every hour outside of class studying. Even the summers were full in those days, as I took my Calculus courses during the first two summers, computer classes in 1986, and a writing class in 1987. Actually, I’m glad I didn’t meet a lady then, because I’d have surely flunked out. There wouldn’t have been time for managing both an education and a relationship although occasional sex without strings was nice.
I longed for my dream girl just the same. So much so, that I visited my first psychotherapist in the fall of 1986. For nine months, we met each week, and though I couldn’t put my finger on any particular insights I got, I did start feeling better about being alone, and less afraid to talk to college women. At times in therapy, I just wanted to get rid of the desire for women rather than satisfy it. No doubt you’re wondering, “How could you want something, and then wish that you didn’t?” Well, at this time the rewards in my love quest were so few, and the disappointment so great, that the longing had become painful, leading me into many humiliating situations and leaving me feeling ashamed. Often women reacted so negatively when I showed them interest that I began feeling that my desires were wrong. At 25 years of age, I believed that though the world was full of beautiful women, none would ever think me beautiful.
Now a few women agreed to date me. So I could attract some, but not those I really desired. I was so disenchanted with the love quest by then, that I’d have been relieved to find that why hadn’t yet found Her was simply because no such person existed. At least that way, my aloneness could not be my fault. That would have been easier to swallow than the idea that there might be some correctable thing wrong with me that was keeping them away.
The therapist listened patiently, offering a consoling voice. I liked discussing the love quest with someone who understood my pains of loneliness and the dilemmas of how to satisfy it. But he refused to assure me that She was just a figment of my imagination. He also assured me profusely that I was not defective in any way, even with my low vision. He thought that She was out there and that I just had to find her. He thought I was fine and that if I was going to ever find Her, I’d have to search harder and smarter. I’ll tell you how I did these things in upcoming episodes.
Therapy encouraged me to intensify my love quest efforts, though I left it with more questions than I had going in. I don’t know how. But even with those questions unanswered, I was, while not cured, markedly better. Maybe it was the therapist’s cheering me on or his unwavering confidence in me. I’m not sure. But I felt more confident asking ladies out. I had achieved the objective of that therapy, which was to get more women into my life. That therapy gave me a big push that got me very far along the journey of my love quest.
Meanwhile back at college, I also improved at the coursework, which meant that I could study less. So in the fall of 1986, I joined a computer users group of sixty students. We sent email back and fourth, and met each other for meals between classes. At night we partied, and so I drank back then, quite a bit. I was known for carrying this round black bottle that had the words “Get Bombed” printed in white letters on the side. I’d fill it with a quart of Jim Beam whiskey and take to many a gathering. In fact, this flask looked like a bomb and the girls seemed charmed by my tipsy displays as I held onto it. I did make a couple close female friends from all that. Yet this life style was not quite what I was after. I wanted them to like me for the sober me; not the intoxicated version. But thinking that I’d have to sacrifice my values a little to get what I wanted, I went along with the drinking for a good while. I attended all sorts of college parties, visited bars, dances, festivals, and hung around the student union, looking for ladies who would come to my bed and please me.
But, with my collegiate education nearly complete, I thought I might have to leave Pittsburgh for a job. So, I avoided serious relationships, though I ached for one. I knew that if I found it, that it would only be temporary. But I didn’t care. Anything would be better than nothing, even a one-night stand. Also, the ladies I met, while very nice, either did not attract me or vice versa. Yes, that same problem once more. I always seemed to interest the ones I didn’t care about. Nonetheless, I made lots of lady friends; a real change from life before college. So while college didn’t drop a dream girl in my lap, it, along with therapy, moved me closer to Her, for I had more female friends and was asking more of them out than ever before. The odds of finding Her thus, had improved much.
While I asked more for dates than ever before in a given year, I also got more rejections. In a way, this was also rewarding. Rejections were better than nothing at all, as they proved that I had begun to master my fear of approaching ladies. The more rejections I got I reasoned the less afraid of ladies I must be. So the rejections themselves became a measure of success in my love quest. At least now, I was hunting, trying different approaches, and acquiring the emotional scars to show it. So at last, in college, I finally managed to break out of my shell.
I finished school in 1988, with a Bachelors degree in Computer Science along with a minor in mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh; the same place I’d worked some five years earlier. From there, I went on to spend fifteen years, working as a software engineer for a fortune 500 company.
My hope that the computer field would bring more women into my life came true. Indeed, during my first two years, I met hundreds of women; more than in my entire adult life prior. Now that I had more money than ever, I could afford to try dating services, attend weekend-getaways, and go to dances and meetings with singles groups. I signed up for my first dating service immediately after cashing my first big paycheck. I then applied for a second one a year later.
Then in 1992, I bought a nice home after a few sweet raises. This, I thought, would surely impress the ladies and I was certain that only a little more time stood between me and my dream girl, who would, at any moment, waltz right in and complete my life. In fact, I bought an extra-large refrigerator, reserved space for her things in my bedroom alongside my king sized waterbed, and saved a spot in the garage for her car.
One day in 1994, a neighbor called as I was sealing my back deck, and invited me to his church. Eager to bond with my new neighbors, I forgot about why I had abandoned church in 1982, and I went with him, just to check it out. To my surprise, I found lots of eligible women. But soon, just as had happened some twelve years earlier, II quickly grew bored with it. I was no more a believer in 1994 than I had been in 1982. The truth was, I wasn’t there to worship. Instead, I went to meet women. That was it, and they knew it quickly. Once again, none would go out with me. Another strategy tried in the love quest, and another one failed.
Meanwhile, at work, I asked over a hundred ladies for dates, hoping that now that I was in my own home, they’d surely say yes. I invited them for lunch and hosted a couple team-building sessions and parties, so that all would see how well I was doing and appreciate how good a provider I could be. They came, they complimented me, and some stayed a couple hours. They liked my house and how well I kept it. But in the end, like my latest church stint, the big house and good salary never won any hearts. So no one ever parked her car in my garage. No one ever put her underwear in those empty drawers in my bedroom. No one ever brought any food to keep in my refrigerator for her next visit. I had instead, this cold draft that I felt against my face every night I ascended the steps to the second-floor master bedroom; a daily reminder that no one was up there waiting for me, and that no one I’d met so far wanted to be up there. So, after four years, with my dressers, garage, refrigerator, and heart still empty, I came to the conclusion that once again, a big change would be necessary to move me ahead in my love quest. I could not turn that great house into a wonderful home full of love thought I put every spare hour I had into the quest. I began feeling tethered to that house and soon, came to hate it there.
So in 1996, in that final year in the house, I came to look forward to Mondays and dread Fridays while my coworkers felt the opposite. They couldn’t wait for Fridays but hated Mondays. Why was I so different? Because I knew that come Friday, I’d likely spend the entire weekend alone, and that come Monday, I’d at least have people around me again when the new work week began. The loneliness burned in my heart. Career-wise I’d come so far. But socially, I ached as much as ever for sustained eroticism, and love.
As fate had it, I discovered Philadelphia, a city with way more single women. Some friends from there invited me to visit. So in December, 1996 I went, and loved it from the minute I arrived. Pretty ladies adorned every city block downtown. Plus, with the extensive public transportation, I could get to the social spots much easier than where I was currently living in Ohio. So, it didn’t take long to decide to sell my house and move there.
The Philly move turned out to be another big step forward in the love quest. For the first time, I could access thousands of women easily, without transportation worries. So I made friends, went to bars, boat trips, restaurants, skating parties, a trip to New York City, and any event I could to place myself among potential mates. One day even, I had two dates; one in the afternoon, and one that night. Each weekend, I’d pick a spot in the city, and then learn how to get there on the bus or train, and then go there, striking up conversations with beautiful strangers along the way. The thrill of learning a new city kept me from feeling too lonely, for the first year at least.
But after three plus years there, and only a few delightful but short-lived relationships (Cathy, Violet, Carol, Joyce, Karen, [Vee], [Lynn], [Tina], Joanna), I was still alone. Now I did meet more women per year in Philly than in any other place prior, and I did have a few wonderful erotic encounters. During my last year there in 2001, I asked at least a thousand women to dance, and also launched numerous campaigns on the online and telephone dating services, where I contacted thousands more. I approached more women than ever that year. However, all but ten rejected me flat. And of those that agreed to meet me, only four wanted a second date. And of those romances, none lasted longer than a few months and all but one fizzled after just a few weeks. So while the move to Philly provided the target-rich environments I sought to move further in my quest, I left there in December of 2001 empty-handed, unfulfilled, and extremely disappointed. I was fresh out of ideas of what to try next and didn’t even want to try anymore.
This love quest had by this time cost me lots of money too! There was the move from Ohio, the loss of money when I sold the house, and all the household stuff I had to just about give away so I could downsize from that four-bedroom, two-story house with a double garage, to a two-bedroom apartment in a high rise building. Also in Philadelphia, the quest cost the most as I paid for most all my dates as well as my own drinks and transportation to the various hot spots around town. My desire for companionship was strong as ever, but after three decades, I still had no idea how to get it. I felt I had to do something radical but wasn’t sure what. But then, fate laid another clue in my path.
During my last year in Philly, I started having problems at work. The job was getting harder, I received no raises my last two years there. To add insult to injury, I still had not found my dream girl after thirteen years of building that career and the wealth that went with it. That’s when I surmised that corporate life was not for me anymore. All the hard work and extra hours to build a happy, successful life had not paid off though I had done everything a fellow was supposed to do to succeed. I got educated, held a good job for a long time, and set up several great living quarters. Unfortunately, ladies never lingered, if they even came at all.
I grew weary of the increasing pressures to step up my work performance. While I liked the raises and promotions which were more plentiful during the 90s, I found the rewards emptier and harder to get, the higher in the company I got. Working harder just didn’t make sense eventually, since all I had when I turned off the computer was an empty, cold dwelling. My place.
So the question occurred: Why fight so for a career whenever only cold rooms, a quiet kitchen, and an empty bed were my reward each night? I couldn’t answer this except to say that I shouldn’t. I understood that I couldn’t fix whatever was keeping her away, while working myself to death as a senior software engineer. I also knew that finding her was more important than anything, including making lots of money as a corporate big shot. Life was marching on too, as I was already well into my forties without having solved my happiness problem. So I promised myself in the summer of 2001 to either find my dream girl or die trying. If that meant devoting full time to the quest, then that’s what I would do.
It would be some months before I appreciated fully what that promise meant. But I knew right off that I’d have to free up lots of time to work on me. I would need to quit my job and learn once more how to live cheaply, at least until I found Her. But I agonized over doing this because the job treated me better financially than I could do on my own; guaranteeing me a spot among the middle class as long as I kept working. Plus, after reading hundreds of thousands of ladies’ profiles on the dating sites, it was clear that lots of women find richer men more attractive than those with modest incomes. So quitting would exclude me from consideration by many attractive women and thus, set me way back in my love quest. These and other truths made leaving one of the toughest choices I’ve ever made.
I suspected that I’d never find another position that paid as well; at least not initially. But so what? What good was the money if I wasn’t happy? Money had not made me happy to date. In fact, the joy of having it did not counterbalance the hardship of earning it. In the end, I was indeed worse for the wear.
True. The job qualified me for, and surrounded me with, lots of women. But simply being among ladies and having lots of money in my pocket and a nice suburban home was not enough. While the job exposed me to more women, the fact that I had it did not interest the ladies, any more than did my previous endeavors. They still saw me as, at best, too plain, and at worst, too ugly to date. The job with all its trimmings therefore, did not end this now-monotonous love quest.
Plus, and most sadly, women still looked down their noses at me, the same as they had twenty-five years earlier in high school. The fact that I was now earning close to ninety thousand dollars a year didn’t matter. The results of my approaches had remained essentially the same as it was in my teens. Zilch. I was still as lonely as I’d been in the 70s, yet still just as eager to win at love. Working so hard at a career just hadn’t gotten me where I thought it should, and I was ready to give it up in order to try something different.
So, in late 2001 I began preparing to resign: I saved money, moved back home with Mom, fixed up her house while I still had my software engineer’s salary, and spent thousands of hours journaling and mentally turning myself inside out. I looked for ways to change for the better, all the while seeking tools I could use to finally end my love quest victoriously.
This effort became my full-time job. Everything else, including my real job became a distraction. I substituted self-help books about relationships and dating for computer and software manuals. In the evening, time that I’d normally spend working extra hours on some programming project, I instead spent trolling the Internet for ideas and dates. My day job had become second priority, especially after business hours. Imagine that!
Now I’d planned to keep working for three years once I knew that I’d be leaving. But as the first of those years progressed, the job changed into an irritating distraction from my true purpose. That purpose, which I now understood since making the promise to myself in 2001, was to finally win the love quest. I wanted to really give the quest my all.
Though I had given up the extra hours, I was still putting too much time into the job, and too little into finding fulfillment in love. Not only did I wish to spend my evenings and weekends working the quest, but wanted to throw in the forty regular weekly work hours as well. As usual, the loneliness which had been with me since the age of twelve continued pounding at my soul, and I was getting really tired of it, and more eager than ever to find relief. From my history of many things tried and many things failed, I figured that I wouldn’t silence its doleful voice unless I could fully focus on it – something I’d never really done before. What else could I do?
It seemed like I’d done everything else. Let’s see. As I mentioned earlier, I:
• Acquired a good self image,
• Reduced my teenage fears of talking to women.
• Held jobs all through grade school and high school,
• Stayed out of serious trouble,
• Successfully completed high school and trade school,
• Held an electronics technician job for nearly two years,
• Completed psychotherapy,
• Joined the computer users group in college,
• Successfully completed college,
• Got a good job,
• Owned a nice home,
• Learned how to maintain a home,
• Attended singles groups and churches,
• Approached more than ten thousand women,
• Achieved a respected status at work,
• Earned close to ninety thousand dollars a year at the end,
• Which enabled me to give a lady a very good time,
• I avoided drugs and immoral behavior,
• I was stable and kind,
• Threw myself into lots of new environments and cultures throughout the quest so I might find the best areas in which to search.
But the one thing I hadn’t done so far was to completely devote my entire life to the pursuit. Up to this point, the love quest had always been more of a hobby; one that I worked during weekends and sometimes on weeknights. I’d never really gone at it full tilt before. Yet I knew that I would never be as happy as I could be unless I could find Her, and I was convinced that the way to do that the most effectively, was to sink every last waking hour into the search and into fixing myself.
So it came about some fifteen months after I began executing my plan to resign, that I did indeed quit. Was this too early? Perhaps. True. I didn’t make it to the end of 2004 as in the plan. I actually resigned in March of 2003. Nonetheless, I managed to pay off all debts and finish all the maintenance projects on Mom’s home too. I cancelled any magazine and music subscriptions I no longer needed, hauled away a ton of junk, and began saving coupons. This resignation was a pivotal moment in my love quest, and I’ll discuss more about this difficult choice in future episodes as well as what happened subsequently.
An all-time approach to this problem (as opposed to a full-time or part-time approach) proved to be grueling. So I devised a few diversions. One was part time DJing. Others included writing, computer repair, reading a lot, buying and selling on eBay, and watching classic movies. I enjoy watching Dr. Phil McGraw and Dr. Joy Browne as well, as my philosophies generally align with theirs. I’ve written numerous articles and stories which are, as of yet, unpublished. But they will be, in this blog and podcast. I’ll share some of my best works, which center on the quest. In fact, most of them do actually. Also, as in high school, I still enjoy ham radio, and hold an extra class Amateur Radio license (my call sign is N8UBU). Also, I got certified by Microsoft as an expert on various versions of their Windows operating system. Nowadays, I’m butler and caregiver for my Mom, who is recovering from open-heart surgery. I just finished re-plumbing her house last March and installing a wooden banister alongside the bridge from the parking lot into the side walk, so she has something to hold on to when entering. I do keep busy, which is one way of reducing the feelings of emptiness I discussed earlier. It’s not a cure. But it is good, temporary relief.
Perhaps my love quest talks will sound humanist or Buddhist in that they encourage us to tap our own inner strengths rather than looking to greater, outside, and improvable forces. This is my mantra now and it is an essential premise in my philosophy throughout the love quest. This should help clarify why I chose as I have as well as why I’ve tried doing much of it myself.
Through no other force than my own hard work and lady luck, I think I’ve found Her. But I’m not sure. I’ve enjoyed a wonderful relationship with [Emmy] for going on six years now, and prefer this association far over being alone. We get along quite well; we’re lucky if we fight once a year, and even then, we never yell at each other. We always maintain respect for each other and never go to bed mad. Although we have problems sexually that we’re working on currently, [Emmy] is among the most caring and understanding woman I’ve known. I have 95% of the relationship I’ve sought, and feel that once we work out the issues of eroticism, I’ll officially be able to end my love quest.
So since I’ve not yet actually won the love quest, I admit that I’m no expert. So while you’ll see many success stories here, you’ll see much sadness and despair as well. Indeed, the bulk of my experiences have been sad, sorry to say. For every one hour of joy I’ve experienced in my quest, I’ve probably had a hundred hours of pain and disappointment. In my search, sorrow has been a big part of the reality. Many have suggested that I express more of the joys than the sorrows. But to preserve the truest essence of my quest, I must relate completely my sad times because as painful as they were, they made it possible for me to have the good times that I do now. So I’d trade none of those sorrowful years away.
Not all the stories are sad. There are many pleasant ones. I’ll tell you about my introspections and the changes to my philosophy and approach to the problem that enabled me to reduce depression. In short, I’ll let you know how I learned to cope with being alone. Merely coping however is not ideal. So I’ve not given up. I hope through this blogcast that I can persuade those of you who have abandoned your search, to keep trying. In 2001, I declared that I would either win at this game, or die trying. You’ll need this same resolve if you’re ever going to experience true happiness, and I hope that through sharing my experiences and insights, that they’ll help you find the resolve to press on yourself.
I am no psychologist and have little formal training in this subject. My writings come not from any large-scale clinical studies or other systemic techniques for deducing human behavior. They come however, from my own three plus decades of experience chasing “the perfect woman”. So any advice I give should be considered no more than inspirational, and is not intended to replace bona fide professional help. This blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be construed as anything other than me, telling my story of my love quest.
What is “the perfect woman,” you ask? Well, stick around and I’ll tell you about my vision of her. But not now. However, I will tease you and say that the word “perfect” here does not mean absolutely without flaws. More on that in future episodes, along with much more about the struggle to find perfection and the many strategies I’ve tried, to get it.
So thanks very much for stopping by and I hope you’ll visit again soon. There’s lots more to say.