It’s that time again: My Single Male Friend Friday! Unlike last week, this week’s post is actually about one of my single male friends although if you’d rather read about my continued misadventures in the world of Match.com, check out my new column over at AOL’s City’s Best: Philadelphia.
So, getting down to business: today’s bachelor is a rather new friend named Carl. Carl’s a senior at Berea College in Kentucky and we met at a retreat for young adult Quakers earlier this year. (Actually that’s not true. We first met at a Quaker book reading last summer and I struck up a conversation with him based on my fascination with his shoes. He likes to wear those weird toe-sock sneaker things and when I saw him again at the retreat a few months ago, I found myself once again striking up a conversation based solely on his footwear. “Are those things comfortable?” I asked. He replied in the affirmative and it was only then that I realized we’d already met and I’d already asked him about his shoes.)
Anyway, readers of the Friendly persuasion may know Carl personally; the rest of your will probably recognize him from his rather extensive-yet-eloquent comments on previous posts. (He sure does like to talk about relationships!)
At 22, Carl’s well below my “datable” threshold but our conversations have given me hope for my younger, Midwestern sisters. He’s the sort of guy who wants to change the world and although he could easily land a job in one of the fancy, well-paying Quaker schools when he graduates, he wants to teach in the public school system where the need for good teachers is the greatest.
He also writes poetry and plays ultimate frisbee so he’s got the whole manly-yet-sensitive thing going for him. (He even shared a poem with me for the purposes of this post but given the humorous and often sarcastic nature of my blog, I didn’t want to cheapen his words by presenting them in the wrong context.) Despite all of this, Carl has never been in a long term relationship.
In his own words, “My hesitancy about ‘making a move’ stems from several things. I fear rejection and I have a strong ability to read emotions off of others. This causes me to dislike making people feel bad or uncomfortable.”
Carl also notes that his “total lack of experience seems like a vicious cycle sometimes.” In regards to physical intimacy, he’s the polar opposite of my last Single Male Friend and while I find this somewhat refreshing, it makes life rather difficult for men like Carl, especially since guys are generally expected to make the first move.
When I asked Carl why he thinks so many people our age have trouble forming meaningful relationships, he said it has to do with the prevalence of “choice culture” in the US. According to Carl, “American advertising is all about ‘the latest and greatest new thing’, and about discarding old items instead of repairing or reusing them. I think that this extends to interpersonal relationships as well. When problems occur in relationships, people tend to ‘throw it away’ and find another one, as opposed to trying to fix their existing relationship.”
I know that I for one am most definitely guilty as charged. (I heard Eartha Kitt’s “My Discarded Men” for the first time as the dance competition I attended a few weeks ago and I’m seriously considering making it my official theme song.)
But getting back to this week’s eligible bachelor…
I really wish I had a younger sister I could set him up with because he really is a great guy—in the meantime it’s nice to know that chivalry is not entirely dead, even if being too chivalrous in this day and age can be problematic for guys like Carl.