Is It Me?

In Columns, Life With Laura by Laura Stinson

For, well, 23 years, I’ve been pretty sure that the reason I can’t meet a guy or get a guy I do meet to date me has had to do with my chair. Now, I’m second-guessing that theory.

I’ve jumped back into the fray of online dating. I’ve signed up on a couple of dating sites. (Only free ones. I’m not quite desperate enough to spend money to meet a guy.) But, they haven’t exactly been a boon of potential dates. In fact, I’ve only been approached by two men: the first contacted me twice, was my father’s age and offered to pay me to allow him to perform an act that someone should only want to do for free. I quickly blocked him from any contact. The second was younger, but still much too old for me.

Now, I contend that I have an old soul, but come on!

I’ve put myself out on the line and contacted some guys, all to no avail. I would venture that I’ve contacted about six and nary a word from one of them.

In another situation, I would blame my disability, but these sites, while offering the option of checking “disabled” as body type, don’t require utmost honesty. The picture I put up is only a headshot so, without my telling them, there is no way for anyone to know that I am in a wheelchair. So the lack of responses is quite a blow to my ego.

It’s a sad realization to know that my disability has always been a fallback scapegoat for my lacking love life. It was easy to say that guys my age simply couldn’t handle the fact that I was in a wheelchair and just weren’t mature enough to be with someone who didn’t fit the image of the perfect woman. But, if the disability is nonexistent, at least as far as these other guys are concerned, and I’m still not getting a response, I’m afraid I have to look a little deeper to figure out what exactly is turning them off.

I’d like to think that I’m intelligent, fairly charming, funny and maybe even attractive. At least attractive enough to qualify for a computer screen date. Over the years, male and female friends alike have expressed complete ignorance as to why I can’t find a decent guy to hang out with. They know who I am and, amazingly enough, like me. But, despite a multitude of efforts, I can’t seem to get the wonder that is Laura across to the rest of the male species.

Maybe I exude desperation. Maybe I exude fear. I’d like to believe that I’m not desperate, but I cannot escape the fact that I am afraid. After all, I’m 23 and I’ve never had a relationship. For most people, dating is old hat by 23. For me, it’s an entirely new experience that I have yet to take part in, and the longer I must wait, the more frightening it becomes.

The whole point of this disjointed rant is simply this: Is it me or is it them? If it’s them, then that makes my life easier. “They” can’t see beyond the physical or “they” are only looking for sex and fun. “They” just aren’t worth my time.

If it’s me, then there’s no easy answer. How do I figure out what’s turning the guys off? Is anything turning them off or is it simply not yet my time? If it’s not my time, how long do I have to wait and tell me how to be patient! Am I too serious? Am I too romantic? Am I wrong to believe in “true love” or “soul mates”?

I really hope not. I know that people can fall in love more than once in a lifetime. But I also believe that there is true love in this world, that two people no matter their race, creed or gender can fall in love and stay in love forever. I believe that, on some level, our souls do connect with one another and that soul mates aren’t limited to romantic interests. The problem with that is that every guy who claims to be a romantic is of Orlando Bloom status and totally unattainable by me. (But, if you happen to know Orlando Bloom, give him my number, because, clearly, I’m available.) They admit to being romantics because it ups sex-symbol status and that means more fans shelling out more money. (Although, my dear Orlando would never do such a thing.) Regular guys would never admit to being a romantic for fear of losing face in front of their buddies.

So, yes, I’m cynical about love. In this world, who isn’t? More divorces take place than marriages. Adultery is no longer considered a mortal sin; in fact, it’s practically expected. People raise a riot over homosexual unions, but these are couples that have been together for years, if not decades, making a pledge to each to spend the rest of their lives together. If that isn’t love, then what is? What makes love more pure when it’s between a woman and a man than when it’s between two men or two women?

It’s hard. That’s the only way I can sum this up. It’s hard being 23 and never knowing if I’m going to find love. It’s hard not knowing if I’m doing something wrong. It’s hard to keep trying. But, we do.

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