Sunday, 6 January 2013

Love, relationships, and other crazy things you might not know about me (Part 3)

For the longest time I thought there might be a chance to change my situation for the better. Perhaps if I keep fit going to the gym or perhaps if I run 12-15 kilometres three times a week I can look good. My body will be attractive, potentially offsetting my other unattractive aspects. Not to blow my own trumpet but, apparently I do have a well-structured body. I do actually look pretty good when I’m fit. But the problem is not those genes, I’m actually pretty lucky with those ones, the problem is other genes.

I’ve come to realise that my genetic skin problems will never be surmounted without expensive Western medicine. Screw alternative medicine or that Eastern crap. That stuff never worked. I’ve struggled with skin problems for my whole life, and I can’t really see that changing in the future. There are a number of ways I can keep on top of the problems, but suffice it to say everything has not gone to plan in my life.

The skin is a huge thing. It’s the biggest organ on a person’s body and there’s a lot that can go wrong if the skin is sensitive. I have very sensitive skin. I cannot do many manual or physical tasks for too long before my hands become too dry and I have to stop. Otherwise I’m fighting to keep them from getting worse for months afterwards. This I inherited from my father’s side I believe. He’s struggled with bad skin his entire life and knows exactly what I’m talking about. The constant vigilance of what we touch and for how long, or the dangers of certain climatic changes, is intensely frustrating. The limiting nature of poor skin precludes me from many vocations and activities outright. I can spend a certain amount of time doing almost anything. It’s not a completely debilitating affliction, but there’s a limit on what I can actually do.

Dad seems to cope with it all, there’s nothing holding him back from experiencing life as much as he can. He just knows how far he can go and when he needs to stop. I take a lot of courage from that. The fact he’s in a long-term relationship that’s one of the most stable I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around is remarkable to me. He’s a constant reminder this problem is only as big as I make it. But obviously I don’t know the complete story. There may be things he hasn’t verbalised about his life that would show just how much his skin affects each day. I don’t know if it’s held him back in any way, but he does have a wife and five cool kids. So I think he’s pretty successful.

I’m well aware of the procedures I need to take control of my annoying skin problem, but there’s probably a long learning path ahead. I also have a problem with the skin on by face that’s led to some pretty bad scarring in the past. One could say I was hit like a ton of bricks at puberty (good old flowery language). I’m pretty jealous of those people who’ve largely escaped the terrors of adolescent skin changes. They perhaps have absolutely no idea how it feels to realise people look not at you, but at your skin condition.

I inherited my facial skin problems from my mother’s side, but it’s hard to apportion blame for any of this. She also struggles and understands what it’s like to position oneself correctly with a room’s light source so as not to unnecessarily highlight the skin problems. She knows the feeling of seeing a person’s eyes flick from your skin to your eyes and realise the other person is revolted. No words can assuage realising the other person now knows you not for your intelligence or your works, but for your skin condition. They don’t say it, but they think it. I know this because for me, a person’s skin is the first thing I look at. It’s such a big part of my life that it probably plays too heavily on my conscience but it happens nonetheless. I know I probably notice my skin more than others do, but that’s hardly any consolation.

Sure, we all have the little personal aspects people remember us for. In fact, I think everybody has a little something they wish people wouldn’t see. Something they wish they could conceal. Even beautiful people are remembered for superficial things. Nice clear skin is remembered in a positive way. Long straight legs are seldom forgotten. Bright eyes are recalled vividly long even after a brief introduction. And to a certain extent I think these people know what it’s like to be remembered for something they have little to zero control over. I’ve been told that none of us are perfect, but that doesn’t really help. If you’re without skin problems and are one of the beautiful people, you can’t say this. That phrase is meant to console ugly people. It isn’t meant to be uttered by beautiful people.

Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but from experience I believe skin problems are probably the worst thing a person can have. Someone could be blind and still be normal if they have good skin. Someone could by autistic or slow and still have good skin, they would be better off in first impressions than I am. And a person could be a paraplegic and bald yet still have good skin and be more attractive than me. I know this is my perspective, but this is what I feel.

The problem, I’ve come to realise, keeping me from attaining the lofty heights of a relationship with a girl, is those skin problems. If I didn’t have such a history of poor skin I wouldn’t look the way I do and I might actually be attractive to a female. It’s as simple as that, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I understand why girls are not attracted to me. It’s an evolutionary, almost instinctual, reaction from implicitly knowing I’m in some way I’m not fit for breeding. They may not know the details as to why they’re correct, but I do. Someone like me could not survive in the wild for very long. The modern marvels of medicine and housing keep me alive every day. Take away these amenities and I’ll die from my genetics just as surely as a person would perish from living without their left leg caught on the savannah as nasty hyenas chase them down.

The fact that any of my offspring will have half their DNA from my side will probably weaken the child. Women, in the deep recesses of their unconscious brain, know this. They also realise this from a purely rational standpoint. They know I’m a physically and genetically unfit partner and so they’re not attracted to me. Skin problems are a universal signal of an unhealthy lifestyle or of some sort of genetic abnormality rendering such humans unfit for breeding. The skin is a shield against all types of bacteria and viruses. If it’s damaged then bad things can happen. Without modern medicines the body would perish once the skin is broken. A female, no matter how rational they believe they are, cannot overcome the glaring fact that a person may be smart, fast, and charming but because of terrible skin problems are actually an outright preclusion. 

I used to be attractive. I have had females in the past obsessed with me. That time is long gone and the reality of living as an adult, and coming to grips with my genetics is upon me.

I have been asked, once or twice, why I don’t have a girlfriend and I try to avoid the topic. I usually turn the question around or a bat it away as if I don’t really want a girlfriend after all. But the truth is I do want a relationship. I know that truth deep down. Sometimes when I come home from work or go to an event, I’d love to have someone to be with. A person to talk to or unload upon with my daily troubles, to express my personal problems, to discuss whatever’s bothering me or my future plans and machinations. I’ve had to make do wrestling with everything by myself. Only rarely do I actually sit down and really discuss with another person, and I never go too far. If I had a significant other, I might actually be able to do this. I think I’d be a lot healthier.

But I can’t get a girl because no girl is attracted to me, and it’s not for lack of trying either. I think I’m comfortable with that though, in a bizarre kind of way. I don’t want to turn into a weird uncle or that strange guy who’s 50 and never had a decent relationship. That should really be avoided, obviously.

I think my problem is because I set my standards too high. I know my ideal woman but I know there’s simply no way I can ever get her. I don’t know if I’ve met here yet, so I honestly can’t say if I’ve given her a decent shot. But even if she’s around, I’m pretty sure I’m out of her league. There are a number of things I could probably do to “win” her, but there will always be my skin problems to turn her away. Maybe my answer is to lower my standards and find a girl who’ll take me as I am, not as I could possibly be with some decent work. This would be the Disney thing to do. It would also be the thing that could secure a relationship.

Yet for someone to take me as I am is a foolish notion. Many people have managed to find a beautiful person even though they’re not attractive themselves. Clearly they’ve actually done something to get the girl. Females aren’t stupid. They aren’t going to see the great guy hidden beneath his unkempt hair playing computer at home all alone. Females are in this game for the same reason males are. They want to find someone beautiful and smart and fun too. They can’t be seen as simple trophies or goals in themselves. Girls certainly have a ideal men to watch out for, and they have lists of “attraction multipliers” like money, intelligence, good looks and other things. In no way are females the passive recipients of proposals one hundred percent of the time, waiting longingly on their balcony for the handsome prince to woo them. Perhaps sometimes it’s the female who is “settling” for the man.

If I’m so convinced I’m a good guy, then why don’t I do something to show it? Why don’t I work at my writing skill or try to create something that’ll garner respect from other humans? The worst thing would be to assume the person I am “deep down” is enough for a relationship. Or that it’s enough for the beauty to be attracted to without ever having done anything to reinforce it. Perhaps narcissistically, it’s up to the other person to discover the treasure below. No, this is a na├»ve way of treating yourself and others, not to mention entirely unfair. If I want to be attractive, I’ll have to actually do attractive things. I can’t just sit there and look amazing, because I’m not beautiful. There are so many other ways of being attractive, it just requires getting up and working on something to create.

And what’s with the vocabulary of relationships anyway? I’ve always struggled with the idea that girls can be “gotten” or “won” as if they’re common objects sitting out there in the forest like so many mushrooms. To “have” a girl is synonymous to “having” car or a house. I can’t get there in my head. I’m not going to get into a relationship with a girl just so I can feel complete. It has to be real; it has to be more than just a next step in life.

But maybe I don’t want a relationship just for the sake of having one. I’ve got nothing to prove to people. I’m pretty much always happy with the way I am right now. (That might be hard to believe when reading this moaning treatise…) Of course these happy feelings may be a little bit of the old Stockholm syndrome creeping in. Maybe I’m happy this way because I can’t change things, and my brain has to keep up. Things would be different, if they were different, after all. But I really do think I’m happy with being on my own for now. Sometimes I want to have someone to turn to, but other times I’m absolutely fine being alone. I’ve heard from wise people the best time to get into a relationship is when each person is entirely comfortable with being on their own. By all reckoning I would say now is a perfect time for me. I can’t tell if that’s a joke.

It’s probably not a sex thing. And to be honest, I want a relationship I could call decent and not built around sex. Right now, females I find attractive for a potential relationship are also sexually attractive. This is hardly surprising since I’m a normally functioning male. For the base reasons of my evolution, this is driving factor to whom I’m actually attracted. After all, getting into a decent relationship for the overriding factor of sex is a terrible idea. Girls mainly stay sexually attractive for only a quarter of their lives, and once the physical attraction of youth has inevitably waned, the person is still there, just without the sexual attraction. That would be something I’d have to deal with too. Of course, men are the same. We don’t hold onto our looks forever either. But it just proves relationships built on sex or aesthetic attractions are doomed from the beginning. Perhaps this gives some legitimacy to falling in love based on love.

This could mean I simply need to become more mature and grow up from my desire for an outwardly attractive partner. This seems like a bit of wishful thinking though. After all, the reason I’m attracted to attractive people is hardwired into my brain. And as I mentioned earlier, it’s the exact reason I am not attractive to other people. It swings both ways. 

Evolution's not something to thumb one’s nose to, and there’s no getting rid of it. I’m sure the old fairy-tale that everyone’s attractive in their own way comforts many people, but I’m of the opinion most people aren’t attractive. I know I’m not going to get into a relationship with an attractive person who fits my ideal list, so there’s no reason to desire it. And there’s especially no reason to feel dejected, as I do, when it doesn’t happen. It’s just such a difficult thing to discard.

Part 2 here, Part 4 here


Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

I have to say. I'm shocked! I had no idea the struggle you seem to be going through.

I want to say I have never ever noticed your skin being bad. Most people don't really notice those things, or even think it. It's like me being deaf, do you look at me and think about my deafness all the time when you are talking to me? (I'd be super surprised if you said yes!!). Yet I can understand how you feel, because I feel that I'm single because most men don't want put up with a disability in a woman. But in truth, its simply because the right person hasn't come along.

You haven't met a girl yet, simply because the right one hasn't come along. But they will, and it will happen. And it will take you by surprise when it does. And she will accept you warts and all and everything will pale to insignificance.

You might want to put yourself out there a bit though, join some club (mensa?) or something like it. Something that you're passionate about, where you will meet like people! Even if it's a short term thing.


Ryan said...

"Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but from experience I believe skin problems are probably the worst thing a person can have."

Haha yeah that or AIDS. But on a serious note, my wife (again haha, you're right about people talking about them a lot..) gets eczema occasionally on her arms and her hands can get particularly dry and crack very easily causing much pain physically and emotionally (think she's ugly etc.). While I can look at her hands and honestly say "yes they are not the most attractive hands in the world to say the least, they resemble the hands of an elderly chimpanzee at times" this does not throw a blanket over the numerous other attractive qualities about her.

And I would say the same with you. I personally don't notice your skin problems myself (I dunno, maybe I don't get close enough) and I certainly don't think they do anything to quell your plethora of attractive characteristics, e.g. wit, intelligence, fitness, life experience, career path, etc.

I think you're more of a 'catch' than you might think.