I’m the type of guy who has no trouble going up to a girl at a bar, getting her number, and getting her to go on a date with me. I’m Chinese mestizo with piercing eyes, a commanding jaw, and a thick head of hair that would make Stranger Things’ Steve Harrington proud. On top of all that, I’ve got blinding self-confidence built up over decades of constantly being told by friends and family how pogi I am.
To me, getting a girl is easy. It’s making her my girlfriend that’s the hard part.
I’ve had three girlfriends in the past, yet all of these relationships took place when I was a teenager who lacked the maturity to make those things last. Naturally, none of them lasted more than two months.
I had my first girlfriend in my fourth year of high school, and it wasn’t serious. I was just a kid, after all. I had my second relationship in college, an LDR that fizzled soon after it started. My last relationship happened in my fourth year of college with a girl who dumped me unceremoniously upon the wishes of her parents who were super controlling and didn’t approve of her going off with a boy they didn’t know.
That last relationship fucked me up bad—I ended up being so crushed that I wouldn’t speak to anyone for a month. I’ve since moved on from her and have dated quite a lot in the last few years, but the fear that I would be left out in the cold again has made me terrified of being too vulnerable with a woman again.
Here’s what normally happens when I date someone: I go up to her while I’m out or chat her up after coming across her profile on social media, we go out and do all sorts of couple-y stuff for three weeks, and once we reach the three-week mark, like clockwork, things sputter and die.
I think I subconsciously sabotage these near-relationships to protect myself. Once I start falling way too hard for a girl, or once I see little red flags that would be no big deal for other men, the fear that things would go the route of my last relationship begin to creep up on me. Plus, the fact that I’ve never been in a long-term relationship shoots down any confidence I might have had at the start and paralyzes me from trying any further. So I ghost them, or they ghost me, and I just…let them go.
The women I've gone out with in the last six months have been a different kind of torture, because they have turned me into a convenient rebound. One girl I met on Tinder ended up ghosting me because she had gotten back together with her ex. Another girl who was fresh out of a broken engagement dated me yet wouldn’t stop comparing me to her ex-fiancé. Another girl asked me out then gave me the boot the day after; apparently she had just gotten out of a relationship and was using me to get over her ex. And the last one just casually said that she was still hanging out with her boyfriend—she said “boyfriend,” not “ex,” which means that they had gotten back together, or that they never really broke up at all.
While being a constant rebound sucks, I can’t say I’m too surprised. A girl I dated years ago actually admitted that she went out with me because she just liked being seen with me. Maybe that’s why I’ve become rebound material; being seen with me is an ego boost to a broken heart.
The last girl I dated—the one who was still hanging out with her “boyfriend,” not “ex”—blamed me for why she chose her ex over me. She said I was “gago” and “ma-pride” and too much of a flirt; she said, “Maybe it’s your fault kaya walang nagtatagal sayo na babae.” I was indignant; who was she to say that when she was the one who played me? But I guess that last statement stung so hard because part of me believed she was right.
People call me a “fuckboy,” and I let them. While I don’t agree with the label—I don’t sleep around indiscriminately and only date one person at a time—I would rather be called that because at least it suggests that I can get anyone I want. At least I don’t look pathetic. At least I don’t look like someone who’s always lonely.
But the truth is, I’m always lonely. At the end of the day, after I’ve gone out and there’s no one sitting beside me in my car or texting me to ask if I’ve gotten home, it hits me how utterly alone I am. I call my friends up to invite them to hang out, and a lot of the time they say they can’t because they’re with their wives or girlfriends, and I envy that. That’s why I end up contacting these short-term partners instead; at least they’re available, and at least I have someone to kill the time with. But I would trade in my freewheeling dating life, my fuckboy reputation and all the machismo it suggests, to be in a great relationship with a great girl. I want to get past the three weeks I normally last when dating and get to three months, or three years, or even longer.
Still, the people around me continue to encourage this freewheeling dating life, this fuckboy reputation, every time they tell me “ang pogi mo,” “ang swerte mo,” “just date around,” “you have lots of time before you have to settle down.” Meanwhile, they head home to their cozy houses with their long-term loves, not knowing that I’d do anything to be in their place.
People assume many things about me because of my looks. Besides pegging me as a fuckboy, people think I’m an unapproachable snob or dismiss me as shallow and stupid. Not everyone bothers to look beyond the exterior to discover that I’m a geek who could nerd out on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, that I’m into music and have a penchant for poetry, and that I like making people laugh and could kengkoy my dignity straight out the window.
And not everyone believes that I really just want to be with one girl who makes me happy and to whom I can bring happiness, too. All they see is the Chinese mestizo with the piercing eyes, the commanding jaw, and the thick head of hair that would make Stranger Things’ Steve Harrington proud.
*Name has been changed