"Support for the dating-challenged," proclaims the front page. Many of the site's users have gone years, decades, or even their entire lives without romance.Some identify themselves as suffering from "love-shyness," a condition, though not recognized by any mental health authority, that is characterized by extreme anxiety over any romantic or sexual interaction.But the more time we spent together, the more I saw him react with curiosity or amusement, his mouth smiling almost against his face's will, his gray eyes lighting up, calling to mind the image of an affable high school teacher still excited by his material—the kind of high school teacher you wouldn't be surprised to find had a cute spouse at home."Really, I want to know," the woman continued. "People on frequently commiserate over moments like these: moments where the assumption is that everyone is having sex, no big deal."Really," Michael said.
Rodger described his rampage as vengeance against attractive women for denying him sex and affection.Previous mass shooters—from Marc Lépine in Montreal in 1989 to Pittsburgh's George Sodini in 2009—had expressed similar sentiments.(One of Michael's terms for participating in this story was that I not include his last name or exact age, only that he's on the older end of the millennial spectrum.) The woman, still petting the beagle, started teasing Michael.She'd seen him with his dog at a party a few weeks back.He frequently went off the record or sidestepped answering me directly. It's late, the sun has set, and we're both exhausted.
He emphasized that he'd never liked the "incel" idea in the first place ("It's just a dumb term") and that he no longer even thinks of himself as love-shy. Michael is tired because, on and off for more than 24 hours, he's been stitching together a story he rarely tells in full, even to those closest to him.
His one high school girlfriend, with whom he'd lost his virginity, completely drove their relationship.
"She started kissing me," Michael recalls, obviously still a little proud.
But nothing ever materialized—not a single kiss in four years.
Looking back now, Michael blames his inability to read signs.
In his immediate family, which includes his divorced parents, a sister, and a brother, his mom is the only one he talks to about his nearly nonexistent love life, and then only sparingly.