People I personally know sometimes wonder why I don’t really seek out a relationship. The answer to that question also serves to elucidate why I mix mushrooms with San Pedro cactuses, why I order Changa off the darkweb, why I smoke Salvia from my bong in the forest at dusk and display a whole variety of other behaviors that most people don’t. My brain is simply wired differently than most people’s. Fundamentally, I’m stuck with a psychological problem that prohibits me from forming normal romantic relationships.
At this point in my life, I know what I can handle and I know what I can’t. Relationships with other people primarily cause me problems. Most people go out, talk to a few people, figure out a few times that it won’t work, find someone they get along with, pair up for a few years, break up, feel sad for a while and move on with their lives and repeat the cycle. For me it doesn’t really work that way.
To start with, rejection and abandonment for me are world-shattering events. If you try to explain this to someone, they’ll say that you’re overreacting and responding like a teenager, but the problem is that you don’t control this reaction. As an example, long ago I went out on a date with an “expat” girl from Israel. As the zoo was about to close, she asked me what my father does for a living. I simply told her the truth, but it wasn’t good enough and I could tell how her demeanor immediately changed. Eventually she told me on Skype that she didn’t feel a “spark”.
For a normal person, this is where it ends. “She’s a golddigger, you’re better off with someone else.” You think to yourself. But my brain doesn’t do that. It starts to idealize her, but only once she has rejected me. For the next few months, every interaction repeats endlessly in my mind, it ends up engraved in granite. And perhaps most importantly, my own brain betrays me. It blames me. “How can you blame her? If you had a choice, what would you choose? Would you give up a comfortable bourgeois existence to spend your life with some poor white trash dude from Rotterdam?” Other people shake such a thing off, but for whatever reason, I don’t. I spent a year barely able to function, a danger to myself.
In general, this is what relationships for me consist of. Obsessive longing, frustration and grief. It started as a teenager, when I felt attracted to an older Belgian girl who was convinced that she’s asexual. Of course she never explicitly said no to me, she was continually flirting with me. Suffice to say, in her late twenties she figured out she’s not asexual after all, but at that point I had fortunately long moved on.
I don’t really believe in monogamy. One of the main reasons I don’t believe in monogamy, is because of the fact that I’m well aware of how difficult it makes my own life. It yanks up the speed on something that is already an emotional rollercoaster ride. It might have helped our ancestors pass on their genes (if they didn’t exchange bodily fluids with every person they ran into, they didn’t get infected with STD’s that make you infertile or cause brain damage in the unborn child), but it can be profoundly damaging to your own mental wellbeing when your world revolves around one person. The ideal I favor is that suggested by Aubrey de Grey, where you don’t really think differently about a sex partner than you do about a person you regularly play chess with.
So, for all practical purposes, I don’t really actively pursue romantic relationships. I have a handful of good friends around the world I speak to regularly and that is about it. It’s not easy to explain this concept to people. When my boss asks me out of the blue “Why don’t you install *some dating App*, it worked for me!” I’m not really eager to respond “thanks for the suggestion, but relationships are a danger to my mental health”. I don’t really blame someone else for this situation either. I’ll readily say that I have been mistreated in some relationships. However, the impact that such mistreatment has on me is simply different from how it affects most people.
Some of these symptoms fit in the autism spectrum. Some fit a borderline personality disorder. Neither of those can be cured, you just have to live with them. It could also be something entirely different. I know that I’m not unique in this problem. I think it is more common than most people expect. In Japan, 40% of young unmarried people say they don’t want a relationship. I think a sizeable fraction of them have made the same observation I have made, that relationships cause them more pain than pleasure. It’s theoretically possible that I overcome this problem, but at age 29 that doesn’t really seem likely.
Psychedelics have made my problems more bearable, but they’re not a panacea and don’t somehow turn me into another person. I don’t think this situation would somehow miraculously change the sixth or seventh time I experience ego death, cease to have a physical body and witness the birth of the universe. I’ll acknowledge that I haven’t had 5-Meo-DMT and Ayahuasca yet, but I struggle to imagine them offering something beyond an ego-death dose of mushrooms.
There’s a common misconception that if you don’t have relationships that you must be some sort of horrible mutant, the bottom of the genetic barrel, scraped up and injected into the womb of some woman who wanted a discount on her IVF treatment. Obviously you’re left over because you’re too short, too fat, too poor, too bald, too smelly or too socially incompetent.
None of these problems really apply to me to a degree that it should prohibit me from having a relationship. I quite regularly had girls who developed a crush on me as a teenager and as a young adult. Without exception, this led to disappointment for both parties. And if I am really a mutant, that problem pales in comparison to the real problem I encounter, the fact that I end up far more emotionally and psychologically dependent on other individuals than the average person does, to the degree that it poses a severe threat to my wellbeing.
Similarly, if you’re a seemingly normal man who doesn’t seek out relationships with women, people will start to wonder if you’re gay and somehow in denial about it. Being gay would probably make my life easier, but alas. I’m primarily heterosexual and have been for as long as I can remember. I can certainly feel affectionate towards guys in a manner that’s unusual for a heterosexual guy, but my brain is hardwired to feel physically attracted to women.
Of course you could say that I miss out on something and will regret not having children. I don’t think this is true. At an instinctive level I have the same desire to raise children most people have. But when I think rationally about it, it’s clear to me that it’s a bad idea. I didn’t have a happy childhood and I’m quite sure that any child I have would suffer the same problem. As a child I wanted to escape from school. I wasn’t bullied, I simply deeply resented the experience of being told what to do.
The world already has far more people than it needs. All put together, we weigh about ten times as much as the world’s wild land animals do put together. I don’t think it is in anyone’s best interest to add even more people. Most importantly however, I think any child born now faces a really unpleasant future. Hundreds of millions of climate refugees will move into Europe in the coming decades. Most people will have no real access to wild nature, as they will be stuck living in overpopulated cities and the birds and insects are dying out around them. The fabric of society is falling apart, as people live surrounded by people they have nothing in common with and find themselves unable to relate to. I don’t fear someone else’s children inheriting the world, because I don’t expect there will be something left I would consider worth inheriting.
The main problems I encounter instead are practical. I need to spend more time doing household chores than you do when you live together. A few months ago I could buy a house on one salary, but unless I played my cards right I would live next to white trash who bought their house on two salaries, whereas on two salaries I would buy something in a respectable middle class neighborhood. That problem is now solved too, thanks to my online trading activities. I can now buy something in a decent neighborhood on one salary.
I think my situation is not unique, but it is rarely talked about. The fact that I can’t properly explain it to people I personally know makes me eager to explain it online.
The acknowledgement of our instinct against our better judgment is a truly depressing juxtaposition. From time to time I spontaneously remember some moment from my youth, something my father had the strength and fortitude to say to me in reprimand over something I had done or the way I acted, some problem I faced with school or motivation that I would have to deal with my children facing, and I realize just how paralyzed I would be as an authority figure myself, whether it’s a lack of confidence in my ability or having to instill values that my parents might have held but that I don’t just so that my own children could function. I know in the back of my mind that I would probably be a poor parent, yet there’s no denying that not only is the impulse there, but here I am at 25 still wishing I knew what the warm, loving embrace of a human being felt like. I could lie to myself like people on reddit that I could just find a partner and live together childless and be just as happy with a pile of money and contraceptives, but unfortunately it’s too late for the blue pill of denial that there’s a clear end that romantic relationships point to–i.e. the reason that they exist in the first place.
Of course, it would require me to become comfortable being alone in a room with a woman approximately my age before any sort of decision-making regarding this even comes into play, so I suppose I can find some solace in the hopelessness of my insurmountable mountain of roadblocks.