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Back in June I finally ended a long and poisonous relationship. I'm sure we've all been there. The difference, for me, is that this wasn't any long and poisonous relationship. It was the long and poisonous relationship. The "I was a lonely loser at school and she was my first love" relationship.

Yeah, that one.

So here I am, footloose and fancy-free for the first time since I was 16. Problem is, I have no idea what to do about it. I'm 22 and now I have to learn the rules of this crazy and terrible game. Everyone else my age seems to be quite experienced at it.

Not that I'm regretting my decision to end that relationship. If anything, I wish I'd done it sooner. Nor am I intending to get involved in another serious relationship any time soon -- I'm having far too much fun doing life My Way. But that doesn't make this situation any less intimidating.

What's bothering me is, I can't see a way out. I can't tell where my options are. I don't want a relationship now, but basic social observation shows that, someday, not too far in the future, I will. And when that happens, what am I going to do about it? I've had five years to thoroughly tune myself out of the single world. Now I'm stuck out here, and I have nowhere to go, nor means to get there. I got myself out of a prison cell, only to find myself in a prison with no walls.

I suppose I should have seen it coming, but I didn't expect it to be this ... desolate.

I'm lost, unsure and afraid. Given a sufficient timespan, I'll add 'desperate' to that list. Nobody finds those traits attractive. It's confidence that draws people to you, and I'm seriously lacking in that department right now. Even given the (extremely rare) situation that I find someone who has a compatible personality with mine and is available, I'm going to be so busy frantically stuffing my own feet into my mouth that it's very unlikely to work out.

The world promised me that being a successful early-twenties bachelor was a glamourous and exciting lifestyle. I should never have listened. Maybe I lack the charisma to make my life exciting, or maybe being a bachelor is actually just damn boring. Either way, I often find my way into depressing thought cycles, asking myself stupid cliché questions and getting stupid cliché answers. "Why doesn't anybody want me?" "Where did all the single girls go?", et al.

I find myself wondering how long it'll be before I'm lame enough to use internet dating services, or "accidentally" look through the personals in the newspaper. How many months before I give up and go to a hooker? Before I become that guy at the party who clumsily cracks on to anything female?

Because, right now, it seems like I'm going to be stranded out here for a long, long time.