subject line: too late to start.

 

austin, texas

What are you supposed to do when your 30 and you’ve never been on a date, never so much as asked a woman out?

I feel sometimes like I never learned how to swim or ride a bike. Like I’m missing one of those fundamental experiences you have growing up, and maybe you can learn later on in life, but it’s never the same. And don’t you always feel kind of like a failure, that it took you so long to figure out what everyone’s known for years?

But dating isn’t like swimming or riding a bike. You ride a bike, you fall down, you get back up, dust off the knees and try again. The only person bruised is you. With relationships, with romance, there’s someone else. And when you’re younger and new at it, so are they. You both make mistakes, and it’s okay because neither of you really knows.

But at my age, aren’t I supposed to know? Except I don’t, and it’s not entirely for lack of trying.

And I wonder how am I supposed to start now?

And it’s not like I’m looking to play the field; I’d be just happy to finish.

But how do you finish a race you don’t feel like you’ve started?

And why does it feel like all the self-help books are about steps 15 through 30, and here I am stuck on step 5?

Why does all the advice assume you already know how to ask a woman out without your head exploding just from the thought of it?

And how do you believe it’s going to happen when all you’ve known is rejection, passive and active?

But the most damn frightening question of all: what if I waited too long to start?

What if I waited too long to start?

Because your teens and twenties are when you make all the stupid mistakes you make when you’re young and dumb and still figuring out relationships. Because that’s how you learn, by making those mistakes.

Only I never did, and I’m 30. How am I supposed to start now? How am I supposed to get better without making those mistakes? Because I desperately want to get it right the first time out. Because I don’t feel like I have a lot of chances or time to waste. And what if I fail? What if I fail and it’s not just me who gets bruised? What if I ruin the best thing by doing everything wrong? What if I miss it because I was too scared to even try?
How can I have a relationship when I’m still figuring all this out?

And an even more frightening question occurs to me: what woman is going to want to put up with me while I am?