Original Link : https://psiloveyou.xyz/the-other-side-of-single-e0a1feb6b0ba

One eligible bachelor’s take on masculinity, love, and unsuccessful adventures in dating.

Errisson Lawrence is a self-aware, heterosexual male seeking companionship. He’s not afraid to be vulnerable and may even overshare at times. His physical appearance is one that most would consider traditionally attractive — average height, slim build, strong features, well-kempt, and dimples for good measure. More importantly, Errisson is what one would deem a good person. He’s a man of integrity and discipline. He’s a feminist — as evidenced by his proudly sporting a Nasty Woman t-shirt around the streets of L.A.

But wait, there’s more. Errisson is also thoughtful and supportive. When dating an ambitious woman, he bought several books aligned with her goals, plus one about Paris as they’d discussed traveling there when the relationship grew to a level that warrants such lofty plans. He put all the books in a Harry Potter backpack he also bought because she mentioned an affinity toward the character. After a few days, he left the care package with her just before departing on a nine-day trip to South America. It was still early in their courtship and Errisson didn’t want her to forget about him while he was away.

Are we swooning yet?

This considerate professional photographer who’s financially stable and easy on the eyes has made it to age 38 still single, despite valiant attempts at building lasting romantic relationships. After knowing him for almost 10 years, my curiosity sparked as to how this is the case. I wanted to understand the root of his desire going unfulfilled.

The “why are you single?” question bothers me for several reasons. Mainly because it implies that there is something inherently wrong with the status that requires an explanation. It suggests there must be a reason — one can’t just be single, and certainly can’t enjoy it. I’ve cringed every time the question has been presented to me. Naturally, it’s one that I aim to avoid asking of others. So, with Errisson, my inquiry was more along the lines of, “why has this been such a struggle?,” since he’s a man pursuing partnership who, at least on paper, I believe many women would consider an ideal partner.

Women are often viewed as spinsters when notoriously single. Men, on the other hand, in the same situations are deemed eligible bachelors just having fun. Both stem from our historical established gender roles that push the notion that women should aspire to marriage and motherhood, and thus are always looking to tie a man down.

Take Emma Watson’s recent revelation that she’s “self-partnered,” for example. Though she was applauded by countless women, she was also ridiculed. It sparked a debate on how we’re always looking for alternatives to the term “single,” as if it’s a dirty word. For women especially, it can carry a stigma due to societal expectations that we should be partnered off.

Due to this bias, the struggle to find love and being reluctantly single isn’t often discussed as it pertains to men. The idea is that women are always looking and prepared to settle down. So, when a man is ready, he should have no shortage of willing options at his disposal.

Yet, Errisson exists — a man who desires companionship and despite working to be a supportive, caring, honest lover who openly communicates, has found this a challenge to achieve. Stories like his are worth exploring because they’re so frequently overlooked.

“Control … is a word I keep hearing,” Errisson says. “The women I’ve dated recently don’t want to be controlled. But I’m not even controlling. It seems because they’re younger they take my concern and advice as parental behavior. Things like me asking the woman I’m dating to let me know when she makes it home have been perceived as trying to keep tabs on her. I don’t get it.”

Errisson references the ruin of his last relationship. The first time he was around his ex while drinking, he says she got blackout drunk. Later, once she’d sobered up, he expressed to her his feelings about what he’d witnessed. “I told her I didn’t like it and that getting that wasted isn’t safe,” he says. “I didn’t want her to be in situations where she could be taken advantage of because she wasn’t aware of her surroundings or in a position to protect herself. That scared me. But she took it as overbearing and broke up with me.”

In full disclosure, Errisson admits that he also told his ex that her behavior that night was irresponsible and doesn’t align with her self-proclaimed priorities. Brutal honesty is another of his defining attributes. This may be considered an admirable trait, but as we know, this is also a pill not everyone wishes to swallow.

Errisson has frequently been referred to as a jerk in the past when offering his perspective on situations. He and I have had conversations about his delivery, and he’s grown in this area — learned how and when to pick his battles and express his views in a more respectful, less condescending manner. Yet, for the most part, results have been the same.

Could this be what has turned women off? I don’t like the idea of insinuating that anyone has a fatal flaw as I believe there is someone who would mesh well with each of our personalities as-is. Though I’m a proponent of personal development, I think the most fruitful, genuine connections are fostered when someone knows exactly who you are and still chooses you — as opposed to presenting a façade that fits into the mold of who someone would like you to be. So, I can’t perpetuate the “this is why you’re single” statement.

Having someone show concern for your well-being, and care whether or not you made it to your destination safely seems like behavior most women would appreciate. So, Errisson may be on to something with attributing the generational gap between him and his latest partners as factors in the undesirable reactions he’s received. A woman in her 20s has often just managed to escape the watchful eye and instruction of her parents. She’s enjoying newfound freedom and probably not eager to feel as though someone else is trying to tell her what to do.

The dating pool for Errisson has gotten considerably younger because his views on relationships have changed. He sees his ideal relationship as existing outside of social constructs, stating, “I just started to realize that a lot of what I did was because I’d been taught that’s what you’re supposed to do. We just do things without really thinking about what it means or if it’s what we want. It’s important to us because society has made it important, and I don’t agree with that. So, I guess you could say I’m non-traditional. This is something younger women seem to be more open to than those closer to my age.”

Errisson no longer believes in the idea of marriage but will walk down the aisle if it’s important to his partner. “That’s the thing,” he says. “I’m open. I just don’t want to feel obligated to do anything. Especially when it stems from baseless reasoning.”

The women who he’s fallen for in recent history have been at least 10 years younger than him. So, he gets the open-minded and less conservative approach that he seeks, but also has to combat the dad tag, and deal with perceived immaturity that he’s long outgrown.

However, the biggest hurdle that Errisson has had to overcome may seem surprising for a man. It’s his vulnerability that he’s found to sometimes be off-putting. See, his brutal honesty doesn’t just apply to the opinions he offers, but to the expression of his own feelings. He says that for previous women it’s been “unnerving and annoying.” “It’s like here we go again, TALKING. (laughs) I can’t keep my thoughts bottled inside. That will eat me up. So, I let people know. From I’m falling for you, to that made me feel a little jealous, to I find getting sloppy drunk unattractive, I have to let you know!”

Friends of Errisson caution him against relinquishing his power in the dating game, but that’s where they differ. He doesn’t approach dating as a game. His perspective is that if you really care for someone, you’re going to be hurt regardless if it doesn’t work out. So, there’s no reason to hold back.

“I don’t know how to be any other way,” is Errisson’s explanation for why he gives what others may deem too much too soon. “Again, because we’re taught that everything should follow predetermined steps, and we’re not supposed to do or say certain things early on, it seems like I’m moving fast when I tell a woman I care about her, express a desire for us to commit to one another, or ask why she posts pictures with other guys but not me. But I’m only being honest. And that’s all I want in return.”

Vulnerability can be difficult for most because it leaves us exposed and undermines our penchant for self-preservation. We feel we no longer have the upper hand in the situation once we’ve put all our cards out on the table. This can be especially tough for men because of toxic masculinity and harmful ideologies that encourage their emotional suppression. Take Utah Jazz Center Rudy Gobert becoming the target of relentless mocking after publicly crying when discussing how he felt about not making the NBA All-Star team earlier this year. Many of his fellow athletes considered the act unacceptable. Harmful ramifications of the “be a man” pseudo directive have been well-documented as of late.

Errisson believes that vulnerability is hard for most men because they’re too concerned about what other men think of them. “I don’t care if my friends think I’m being weak, acting like a woman, or whatever else they want to call it,” he says. “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me, really. As long as I’m being true to myself. That’s why being forthcoming with my feelings doesn’t bother me. Nobody’s judgments matter more to me than my authenticity.”

Gestures such as his aforementioned book and backpack surprise are especially telling coming from Errisson as he’s not the type to do much of anything that isn’t genuine. His gift and his curse is an aversion to activities that he’s been told or expected to do, even if it would be in his best interest. While generosity and romantic acts can sometimes be manipulative tactics, you can trust that any care he shows is heartfelt.

Giving up on meaningful romantic partnership frequently crosses Errisson’s mind. “It’s exhausting,” he confesses. “I give so much of myself when seriously interested in a woman. I tailor my courtship to who she is and what she likes. I work to learn her, not just on a surface-level; I want to learn her nuances and how she came to be the person that she is. So, when the relationship fails, I’m tired. I’m hurting. It’s a lot to keep doing over and over.”

When asked what keeps him coming back and trying again, Errisson credits the women that he encounters. After his last relationship ended, he decided to just date and sleep around (safely), a phase he’s never experienced. That mission was again aborted after meeting someone with whom he connected. He doesn’t want to pass up the opportunity to have something special.

Despite heartbreak, ridicule, unabashed and unpopular opinions, an evolved belief system, and feeling chronically misunderstood, Errisson remains a hopeless romantic.

Surely, he isn’t the only open-minded, honest, thoughtful person on the planet, or even in his city. Someday he’ll meet his equal, as we all will. Perhaps he already has. One thing Errisson believes would help is if more women were less inclined to be guarded. “Just let the walls down,” is his plea. Not that women should do anything to make themselves easier for any man — but that love and connection would be easier for us all if we just allowed it to be.