Welcome to the Desert of the Weird

There are some days it strikes me that I’m always kinda excluded, like the people I know and who act like they like me, and even tell me to my face that they’re my friend, will all chat up each other in their little sociable group…without me. This even happens when they’re all literally right in front of me and I’m right there not even busy with anything.

“Put yourself out there!” they say. Well, sure, I put myself out there, but whenever I try to chat people up I’m all but ignored most of the time; even the minority of the times when other people do reciprocate, they turn away from me and do their own thing or speak to someone else at the first opportunity. Everyone has their little club, their “friend group”, that they like to socialize with, but I never seem to be in it. I almost never seem to be anyone’s first choice to talk to or do anything with; I’m fortunate enough that it happens for me occasionally, but I can count on one hand the number of times that happens in any given year. It’s a notable event for me in my social life.

“It’s just a numbers game!” they say, “Approach more people!”. Well, sure, if I put in that much effort I could get to know and perhaps befriend more people; that is pretty much how I’ve gotten the friends I do have. But the rub is that I see other people all the time, an absolute majority of people I see whenever I go out, who just don’t have to do that. Other people don’t have to put in 100% of the work 100% of the time to socialize, so why should I have to?

Even with the actual friends I have, 99% of the time it’s me reaching out to them, me trying to make plans with them, almost never the reverse. I observe that for most other people that’s just not what they have to do. So what is it about me that makes me unworthy of being treated like most people’s friends are treated; what is it about me that makes people not want to reciprocate or proactively reach out to me? The latter in particular pretty much never happens; sure, most people might be kinda skittish or shy, but I’d expect somebody once in a while to approach me instead of the reverse.

I don’t know what it is about me, but it’s certainly not me being hideously ugly, which seems to be the most common form of whining online about being lonely. I get unsolicited compliments about how good I look regularly, and I am (for want of a better term) objectively attractive. The opposite sex’s eyes wander toward my face, not away from it. So it’s not that. I’ve also been described as nice and as having a very active mind, and I don’t seem to come off as intimidating or unapproachable; people don’t seem to be scared of me when they’re near me or anything like that. Which makes it even weirder.

It’s striking to me that the people I know, even my true friends, make virtually no effort to include me in their friend groups (they have them; I’ve seen them with them). They never take the initiative to introduce me or let me into the club or make any plans to do anything together. Granted, I wouldn’t even particularly want to socialize with the vast majority of them, to be honest (and it’s not me putting them off because of that; the behavior from most people I am interested in socializing with is the same), but I would really appreciate it if someone at least tried. The fact no one does makes me feel like I’m not really included or really welcome anywhere.

Welcome, but only among Foreigners

Well, that might not be entirely true. I’ve noticed a striking tendency over the years: the degree to which I can befriend people is very highly correlated with how far away their origin is from my hometown, but in the opposite direction than it is for most people it seems. For me, the further away someone’s origin is from my own geographically, the friendlier they are.

Locals from the same area I live in are the very worst, people from the nearest major city are a bit better, people from states in way different parts of the country from my own are substantially better, and people from other countries are by far the best. Indeed, every single person I know who doesn’t display the unfriendly behavior I describe here, including every single one of my actual friends, are not native-born Americans!

All of my friends without exception are from Europe and/or the former Soviet Union; they’re the only people who I don’t have to put in 100% of the work 100% of the time to maintain our relationship, and I’ve also noticed they’re about the only people I can actually feel connected with or understood by and who don’t think I’m some kind of weirdo or whatever it is more local people think I am.

As an aside, I have inveighed on Twitter that “oh, the labor shortage is a myth; why can’t these employers just hire the legions of jobless Americans instead of saying we need more immigrants!”. Well, it struck me that I’m one to talk! It’s much more likely for me to find a friend from the Dzungarian Gate than from my own neighborhood, so maybe this idea immigrants from god-knows-what-country are easier to find than native-born Americans right down the street isn’t nearly as far-fetched as one might think. Real life is weird.

Happier Abroad?

In that light, the experience described by Winston Wu and company at “Happier Abroad” is more plausible than I thought when I first encountered the website. I was like “Naw, it’s just not possible for almost every single country in the world to be better than the United States!”, but maybe for some Americans that’s really true. Maybe there are more Americans than we might suspect for whom America is one of the worst countries to live in. It’s not just men, by the way; “Happier Abroad” is pretty incel-y and misogynistic, but even in the opposite sort of scenes, e.g. “Female Dating Strategy”, it’s far from unheard of for women to also have much better experiences socializing, dating, and living abroad.

It’s not the norm, mind you; it’s not common, but it seems to be true for quite a few people. And it’s not just a matter of going abroad to a place where people love your American money (the less-developed countries) or might fetishize a white person for being exotic (e.g. East Asia); no, these people report much the same improvement by going to places like western Europe too.

A Change of Scenery is in Order?

In my case, admittedly, I’ve just socialized with immigrants from Europe and the former Soviet Union; I’ve never been there to meet the native-born populations who don’t come to me in the United States, who no doubt are a considerably more insular, closed-minded, less cosmopolitan, and less impressive group. Immigration and travel self-select for certain kinds of people, and that might be what I’m connecting with, at least in part. On the other hand, it’s definitely not all of it; I don’t connect well with immigrants from Latin America, East Asia, or South Asia (I do, however, get along well with people from the Middle East).

Anyway, I can’t help but think I really should change locations. From what I’ve seen even a global city in California, for instance, would be much better for me than where I am now, let alone abroad, but I can’t really afford to do anything. *sigh* Someday…

It might also be worth noting that for all I know dating might be much easier for me abroad too. Socializing and friendship is the mother’s milk of dating and romance, after all; it’s kinda hard to fall in love with someone (at least in any actionable way) if they’re not willing to even talk with you.

Amnesia of the Future

There’s a lot of credence in my view for the idea that you’re already in love with a certain someone, you just don’t know it. Take me, for example: I’ve long known I had a rather specific type, but I never even quite realized how specific it was until I took J. Sanilac’s “submit four faces you find especially attractive” challenge on Twitter. Get a load of these two girls, by far my favorites of the pictures I submitted:

They could almost pass as the same woman; their faces are almost identical but for the smallest of differences. Their poses are the same, their expressions are the same; even the lighting and the backgrounds in the pictures are almost the same. The similarity is more striking still when you behold a fade-in overlay progression between the two. Notice their facial features line up precisely:

The revelation is downright creepy. As J. Sanilac points out at her “Dispelling Beauty Lies” post, men’s body preferences tend to be rather generic, but the sort of pretty face a man is searching for is usually specific, very often a shockingly specific face (this applies to women’s tastes too, by the way, not just men’s!). Even more strikingly, people, even me (a person who’s pretty self-aware of what I like and dislike) it seems, tend to be unaware of just how specific their tastes are!

Like so many others, it’s like I have amnesia and can’t remember who exactly my beloved is or where she is, but I find myself irresistibly and all-but-unconsciously drawn to girls who remind me of her. Except it’s like the reverse of amnesia: not a past, but rather a future unremembered. Or is it? There’s all manner of woo from the “soul mate” school of romantic thought about past lives and reincarnation.

At the more physical level, it’s been pointed out to me that the girls I like resemble myself in appearance surprisingly closely, and surprise surprise, it turns out people who have similar faces have more similar genes, even if they’re not related. And both romantic compatibility and the quantity and quality of offspring are helped by closer genetics (as long as they’re not closer than third cousins or so). Hmm.

The world is a weirder and even creepier place than we usually think. Where this all ties into what I said above? A soul-mate face draws people in and is a sign of compatibility much more so than specific ancestry is, but it might be worth noting that neither one of the two darlings in these pictures is American: one is French and the other’s English. Hmm.

Local Vibes are the worst Vibes

And true to form, from what I can tell I like their mindset, worldview, and ineffable vibe, which is European, much more than what the American environment tends to produce in even the most physically attractive women. Though I will say I do find myself (in terms of mindset, worldview, and vibe in the most physically attractive women) positively drawn to California girls (they’re good!), and to a much lesser extent South Florida, Las Vegas, and New York girls (they’re okay); the rest of the country makes me go “blech” to varying degrees. Like, even if the woman is otherwise attractive, the vibe is just wrong for me. Compatibility just isn’t there.

Maybe the people I tend to meet who are remotely local or regional can sense that about me too (after all, they’re probably searching for compatible vibes too), and that’s why I have such a curious time of it in my social life. Like they can sense “checks all the boxes, sure, but the vibe’s kinda off, obviously just not one of us; eh, I think I’ll befriend someone else”.


For all I know moving locations might not prove a panacea for my social ills, but at this point I’m sure it would help a lot. And there’s a lesson there for all the rest of you who might have puzzlingly difficult social lives and love lives: it might not be you, it might not be anything they perceive about you that’s deficient or unattractive per se; it might just be your location, it might just be your vibe, it might just be their vibe, it might be that you’re just not their type, it might be that they’re just not your type.

In the main all these factors weigh on people and shape their existence at the subconscious level, so offhand, I’d contend the vast majority of the time people affected by these pitfalls don’t even know it. If that’s you, and you become aware of these things, you have the chance, however small, to make some of the greatest improvements to one’s life it’s possible to make. For those of us whose lives look good on paper but can’t quite seem to get it together into something that truly fulfills us, our lives might seem much worse than they look at first glance to an outsider, but the good news is that the room for improvement is correspondingly much bigger, the outlook much more hopeful, than we on the inside of it tend to think. Real life is weird.

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