I feel like there are too many social pressures to meet most of the expectations driven by popular culture... besides, my lousy job and other factors make it nearly impossible to find, much less maintain, any meaningful relationships.

Anybody else find themselves in the same situation, or am I the only ape here left grooming themselves in the corner?

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I could say the same thing about myself, except for the following: Christian culture in my town is probably weaker than in your town, I don't drink and I rarely go to bars, and I'm 27, so older than the typical college student.  And my town has 787,000 people; the population goes up to 1.9 million when you add in the surrounding surburbs. 
You're close enough to college age that it doesn't matter.  A five year gap in age is nothing.  I've got a twelve year gap going, in my current relationship.
I found evidence of the existence of "the Humanist Community of Central Ohio."  www.hcco.org  Even if I give every problem that might happen if I go out and try to be social with various people or groups, I'm going to go out and be social anyway.  That said, maybe I'll go to HCCO activity and I'll feel like I'm in the middle of sombody elses activity.  Maybe it will be just people or couples with children who talk about stuff like home repair or problems between their kids and the kids teachers.  Maybe I'll go to some talk sponsored by a freethought organization at a university and they will think I'm a perverted pedophile. 

Umm, dude, chasing after college girls ... 18 - 22, on average.  What part of that sounds like pedophilia?  Last time I checked, college girls were well past puberty.

That aside, I would avoid the freshmen anyway, even if they are legal.  Most freshmen girls are still in the silly, high-school mentality.  Give them a couple years to grow up a little more.

Then, there are graduate students.  They're only 3 or 4 years younger than you, if they didn't take a few years off between getting their 4 year degree and going back for their Masters.

 

Anyway, yeah, go out and meet the group.  If they're at all like my local group, they'll spend a lot of time talking about politics and social issues ... a good bit of bitching about religion ... just basic stuff.  They tend to be much more intellectual than the population at large, though.

People of all ages go to university lectures.  Besides, a city that size would probably have a lot of different clubs and organizations.  You have a much better chance of meeting women if you just get out and meet people.  I rarely go to bars myself, but there aren't very many where I live--a very small town--and most of them have sawdust on the floor and country music in the bathroom.  But if I thought there were available women there with all their teeth and no tobacco bulging out of their cheeks, I think I might go.
Have you seen a therapist?  You sound really depressed to me.

 You ought to be me.  I am a total Existentialist, severely Buddhist influenced, Social Nihilist, Minimalist, Atheist and I have never met a woman that would even have a clue what I just typed except the Atheist part and probably heard of Buddhism. Oh yea... people keep telling me I'm old. I don't watch television, don't care about grownups playing with toys or driving things around in circles or increasing my personal wealth or possessions. Everyone I know lives to distract themselves from real life and looks for someone that likes the same distractions.  Even though my chances are nil of finding someone I remain optimistic. Not to be confused with I'm hopeful that I find someone. It's a Buddhist thing. Why waste your life wishing it was different? It's the only one you have and it is what it is.  To wish it was different only diminishes your life experience. Your only life.

So I guess you didn't see the Bruins game last night?  Just kidding.  I guess I'm an existentialist and Buddhist influenced, but the only "ism" I trust very far is humanism.  Systems are too simplistic, I think, to explain the complexities of life.  Most reasonably well educated people have some sense of existentialism and Buddhism, probably less of atheism, which is often misunderstood.  Buddhism teaches that things always change, and that conquering desire or craving conquers suffering.  Doesn't it also stifle accomplishment?  Why does the woman have to know all about your "isms" to be interesting?  Maybe you could learn from each other?  We probably do distract ourselves from real life by having fun, but having fun feels good.  Sure, feeling good is not a permanent state, but it's fun while it lasts.  The Bruins won last night; I really enjoyed it.  But when they lose to Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals two weeks from now, I won't enjoy.  I'll suffer--but not that much, not enough to undo the enjoyment I've gotten from this year's playoffs.  Why should anyone care about hockey?  Because I like it.  I also like motorcycles, art, literature, films, bicycling, and a bunch of other things just because they feel good.  A loving relationship feels good.  Intimacy physical, emotional, and intellectual feels good.  There's nothing wrong with trying to improve your life, as long as you know you can't win them all.  Besides, if you take love, sex, entertainment, and work away, what do you have left to call "real" life?

 

 I was just trying to cheer up Apeman Jim. I have plenty of love, entertainment and work. Sex... well... And it is true that my personal philosophy makes me a bit of an under achiever, but I don't care. I'm sooo content just to flow, in the Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi sense, with things as they are.  The point is I am way outside the norm, and I like where I'm at, but just try to start up a conversation about the nature entangled photons with the girl sitting next to you at the bar and you will get a sense of the futility of being me. Not that I care, but it should cheer Jim up.        

it is the same with myself. I find speaking with others to be futile, I am not into sports or the television, but I do however enjoy a good game of halo.
My story is similar except that I went right from Judaism to atheism with no intermediate stages where I was into buddism or any other isms.  I started to follow the Cincinatti Reds one week ago, listening to games on the radio but barely following, so I might have something to talk about, but I don't have a TV, I don't care about the fact that I don't watch TV (unless comeone can convince me that I need to watch TV), and I never know what to say to people.  I did recently find a group called students for freethought and had some good conversation a few days ago but it was all other men and I don't want a date who is another man.  There is a large university here (and a few small ones) but I'm 28.

See?  Should have stopped off at Paganism, like some Christians do.  Those Wiccan chicks are crazy.  :-D

 

Why do you keep saying that being 28 means you can't date university girls?  5 or 7 years difference isn't really that much, as long as both people are a few years over 18 and well out of the silly, high-school phase.

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