On Being (and Not Being) That Guy

No one will ever mistake me for a ladies' man, or some sort of Cassanova.  My track record with women has been, on the whole, not very successful.  I am 36 years old, and I am still single.  I would like to think that, in general, I am OK with this reality, but the truth is that I sometimes struggle coming to terms with this.  Despite the fact that I have wonderful friends and an amazing family, there are definitely times that I feel lonely.  There are also times when I look at being single as a failure, a black mark, a sign that I am somehow flawed and broken and defective.  That is not a pleasant feeling.

Before he ended the lives of six people on Friday, Elliott Rodger took to Youtube and posted a video manifesto.  I won't link to it, because I am uncomfortable with supporting in any way what he did.  But I read a transcript of what he said in the video.  He basically claims that he is going to shoot a bunch of people, especially women, because they would not date him.  He raged against these women, and the (in his mind) inferior men who get to have sex and be in relationships with them.  It was their fault he was lonely.  They deserved whatever they got.

I've had those same thoughts.

For me, unlike Rodger, these thoughts have been transient, leaving as quickly as they come.  I've never dwelt on them, the way he clearly seemed to have done.  And it has never occurred to me to take out my frustrations about women on someone else, especially women themselves.  But I have seethed with resentment over women who chose someone else over me, and at the men who were selected.  I have felt the sense of entitlement expressed by Rodger--I, too, like to think of myself as a "nice guy," and I have felt that women as a Collective were being unjust in not "rewarding me" for that fact.  I've stamped my feet and shaken my fist at the sky at the unfairness of all of it.  The unfairness to me, of course.

It bothers me very much that I have had some of the same thoughts as Rodger.

I know where these thoughts come from--a very deep and profound sense of insecurity and a lack of sense of self-worth.  The pursuit of a person of the opposite sex ceases to be about the other person at all, and becomes an exercise in warding off those feelings inside yourself.  The woman becomes a talisman, a prop--it doesn't matter who she is.  She becomes a thing, a thing that is used as a medicine for your own internal sickness.  It is a profoundly sick and self-involved place where those thoughts come from.  I know, because I have been to that place.

I am not Elliott Rodger.  Generally, when my thoughts turn black, I turn the lash on myself rather than on others.  But there is a part of me that is Elliott Rodger, because I know some small segment of the thoughts in his head.  And, until now, I have not fully grasped how dangerous these kinds of thoughts are.  And how dehumanizing they are to women.

Sometimes you need to hear your own thoughts repeated back to you to really hear them.  Sometimes you need something to happen to check yourself.  Reading that manifesto caused me to check myself.  No one, and certainly no woman, owes me anything.  I am not entitled to the affections of anyone.  And I need to be on guard against thinking that any person, especially a woman, exists for the purpose of fulfilling my needs.

Maybe I needed that reminder.  Too bad it had to come under these circumstances.


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