Scapegoat

I look at beauty and
can think only of
what I lack.

How selfish I am to
believe that I could give
nothing, and simply
take advantage.

She could never love me?
No, that’s not
the truth.

It isn’t fair, to put
so much of
the blame on
her
when my own belief that
I am unlovable
is closer to clarity.

So I take a step back,
vanishing into electronic ether;
never to be heard from again for fear
that I may hurt her feelings, or
she shatter mine.
Rejection is easy; building
something successful
is not.

by Erik Shinker

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Dating Apps

The beautiful youth, who cause
lust-infatuation, thoughts of
ravishing disappointment.

The elegant and seasoned, who promise
tender understanding, coupled with
subversive condescension.

They all begin to
runtogether,
molding into an
amalgam of silent responses.

A “conversation” killed makes
ghosts of one of us, and
the transition into this text-afterlife
eases with each disappearance.

Don’t explain yourself to me;
I have gotten along just fine, and
would hate to
have sympathy for you.

by Erik Shinker

Power

With words unspoken,
we communicate through text.
Writing, typing, messaging.

A notification could lift the spirit,
a digital chime causes a
quickening heart and
releases adrenaline in a rush.

The hope of a
connection, a
companion, a
match.

Idle
with attention always
slightly
diverted;
waiting for
another chance at
love, or
lust, or
just something
to pass the time.

Relishing the possibility with
no thought
of reality.
Wishing away boredom with
daylight hallucinations
we would incorrectly call
fantasy.

We allow the
other
end of a chat to
determine our worth, while
the imagination runs
rampant
with the worst scenarios.

She holds the power,
and I both
hate and love
every second of waiting,
as I both
hate and love
myself.

And I check
and there is nothing
and I hate myself a
little more
and I love myself a
little less.

by Erik Shinker

Seeking Sincerity

Seeking sincerity has become
such a chore.
To accept
mediocrity has its own
attraction.
Optimism begins to fester and
slowly rots
until it becomes a
physical weight
in my chest.

Suffocating.
We drown ourselves in
cliches until they
leak through our pores and
create a sheen
of self-deception

Restart. Reset.
Overandoverandoverandoverandover
again.
Expect disappointment and rebound quickly;
no longer assets, but necessities.

We try to convince ourselves
this time will be
different, but
how long until
depleting reserves of potential
and possibility
run out?

How can I decide the
amount of time to
spend searching when
I’m told by
almost everyone
that I’ll find something when I least expect to.
Something;
someone.
This is all
counter-intuitive
when every success story both
emboldens and makes me
question what it is
exactly
that I’m doing wrong.

How many times must I be lied to?
“It’s not you, it’s me.”
“I’m just not ready for a relationship.”
“You’re so great, but…”
Is there some sort of conspiracy
that they’ve all agreed to play the game?
To see if I’ll
chase? If only it
were that easy.

How long before they
begin blending into variations of
the same carbon copies? The same
university-branded drinking photos, the same
vacation spots, the same
pursed beaks, flexing facades.
How long until they start
to run together and I  start
to wonder if there is
anyone
worth getting to know?
Plastic permutations of
the same theme; a blueprint
with minor tweaks that
don’t improve,
just diversify

Soon I parse out and
MAGNIFY
parts of my personality to
try and find some common ground
to make things work;
only when things fall through do
I realize how
unimportant they are and that
I was only injecting air to
fluff them up.
The temptation that maybe
this time will be different, maybe
I will finally
break through
if I stay here a little longer.
But after five years of
disappointment, why would now be any
different?

Over-analyze every aspect.
Was I too interested?
Not interested enough?
Did I talk too much? Too little?
Did I focus too much on
one topic of conversation?
Am I too shallow?
Was there something I
fixated on
in her appearance that
I didn’t like at first
so that’s all I could see,
which in turn soured me?

How much is
my fault?
Is that even worth asking?
All of it.
Why does it seem to be
so easy
for others?
I know I don’t see the whole story,
but
I can’t help but wonder.
I see and
feel and
know
my worth;
why can’t they?

by Erik Shinker

Are You Ok, Cupid?

When people hear the name “Cupid”, they usually picture a winged, infant archer who brings love, lust, and romance. I have come to think of him as a smirking little brat who enjoys setting up the select few while making the rest of us fumble through forced icebreakers, awkward dates, and the eventual repetition of it all.

Since beginning my online dating journey in 2014, I have: been on five dating sites, three dating apps, gone on five actual dates, been catfished twice, and entered zero relationships, meaningful or otherwise. I have spent hundreds of dollars over the last five years in membership fees with close to nothing to show for it. I have tried to put almost every permutation of my personality into my profiles: my humor, my intention for a serious relationship, my likes and dislikes; all to no avail.

So what’s the appeal? Is it just a game where you swipe through and shop for a person? When is it reduced to sending a message in the hopes of a response notification that shoots dopamine to your brain without understanding that there is another person on the other side of those messages? Perhaps it is the last hope of those of us fighting the gravity of the realization that we may be single forever. Sure, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but what happens when no one thinks you’re a catch worth keeping?

Continue reading “Are You Ok, Cupid?”