Earlier today my friend Dan sent me a link / also here to a really sad story about George Sodini, a 48-year-old-man who took his own life after killing several people and injuring many more at an LA Fitness Gym in Pittsburgh.
“Sure that’s sad and all,” you might say, “but what does that have to do with me?”
The thing is, Sodini had more in common with a lot of us than we’d like to believe. Most psychologists are saying he wasn’t a deranged serial killer who lacked any moral compass. Nor was he a psychotic lunatic that spent his days sniffing glue and eating paint.
No, George Sodini was simply an AFC. An Average, Frustrated, Chump. A very lonely, depressed, AFC. Note: For those of you who aren’t regular readers here, “AFC” is simply the term we use in the dating coaching community to describe a frustrated individual who is tired of being single. It is not meant to be disparaging.
Maybe Sodini was older and more lonely and more psychotic than most of us, but I suspect not. I suspect that he simply lacked one thing. The one thing that this community gave me when I found it.
Hope, and the idea that society was wholly incorrect and that I did not in fact have to just accept that I would always remain at the bottom of the social pecking order.
I’m no psychologist, but I’ll bet that Sodini was less of a psycho and more a man who had simply given up because it seemed hopeless. Most of us can certainly relate to that feeling. He recounts his feelings and plans on his blog (I have a cached copy if that link to abcnews gets taken down), and I can’t help but think that all of this sounds very familiar. A computer programmer who doesn’t believe in himself and lacks the social skills to meet and attract women. That hits a bit too close to home. It’s disturbing because I’d like to believe that someone who could cause this much destruction is a monster who has nothing in common with me.
December 24, 2008:
“Moving into Christmas again. No girlfriend since 1984, last Christmas with Pam was in 1983. Who knows why. I am not ugly or too weird. No sex since July 1990 either (I was 29). No shit! Over eighteen years ago. And did it maybe only 50-75 times in my life. Getting to think that a woman now would just, uh, get in the way of things. Isolated. I have extra money and enjoy traveling, too, wtih my 25-30 days of vacation. LA was the best! But going alone is not too fun. Invited to a party on Christmas day tomorrow. Seems about 15-25 people will actually show. I like her parties; I can meet new people and talk. Got the next 8 days off. I should have exit plan done and practiced by then. I know nothing will change, no matter how hard I try or what goals I set.”
That doesn’t sound like the rantings of a psychotic lunatic hell-bent on revenge. Rather, it sounds more like the field reports and journals that get posted to our forums every day.
I remember feeling those pangs of unrequited love and crying my eyes out at the thought that there was nothing I could do about it. I remember being lonely. I remembering being depressed. I remember it like it was yesterday.
And perhaps if any one of us had not found the support of the community to help us through this part of our lives, maybe we would have turned out just like Sodini.
Don’t get me wrong. What he did was a horrific, awful act that all of us — me especially — wish we could have prevented. But the thing is, I think this was preventable, and not by shooting him before he shot those people, either. I think this was avoidable because I’ve had guys just like Sodini in my workshops and seminars. Because I’ve had guys who have told me through tears that they were on the verge of suicide — actually standing on a bridge about to jump off — and that were it not for the community, they would have done it.
And we’ve all been at Lair Meetings where there are 100 guys that are all feeling these same things. Hell, I might have been another Sodini had I not found the community. So instead of judging this man and disassociating ourselves from his plight, let us instead seek to understand and make sure that this never happens again.
“Result is I am learning basics by trial and error in my 40s, followed by discouragement. Seems odd, but that’s true. Writing all this is helping me justify my plan and to see the futility of continuing. Too embarrassed to tell anyone this, at almost 50 one is expected to just know these things.” –George Sodini
As individuals, we see guys like Sodini all the time. He could be your friend. Your brother. Your co-worker. Your son. Your “wingman.” But oftentimes we see the warning signs and we ignore them. Or we dismiss it as “angst,” or “he just needs to relax and be himself.” Even those of us who are actively seeking to improve our dating and relationship lives sometimes see the Sodini’s of the world and think, “not my problem.” I’ve been plenty guilty of that myself, and I’m a coach. But as the famous saying goes (arguably credited to English philosopher Edmund Burke), “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
So the next time you come across someone like Sodini, resist the temptation to look down upon him. And if you’re realizing this feeling of despair and hopelessness describes you, do not be afraid to seek help. Society will have you believe that this makes you a kook, a nutjob, and potentially a criminal. But I can tell you for a fact that all of us have felt that at some time or another. There is no shame in asking for help or in being proactive about improving your dating or relationship life. On the contrary, bottling all of that up only causes it to fester into hate or rage, and we’ve just seen the long term effects of that.
This is why I take my job very seriously. Some people may mock that belief, saying that it’s not that serious– that we’re just teaching guys how to get laid. But I vehemently disagree. I believe that as coaches, gurus, and instructors, we are not merely dating coaches. We are LIFE coaches. We are people who not only need to be able to holistically change and improve a person’s life, but we also need to lead by example.
And so in addition to this being a call to action for individuals and for society as a whole, it is also a call to action for fellow coaches and instructors. It is a call to action to genuinely CARE about your students and to really understand just how much we can change and influence someone’s life. In my opinion, that is not a task to be taken lightly.
Finally, for those of you who are struggling with this self-improvement process and possibly becoming discouraged, keep your head up and don’t ever give up. Because the rewards are worth it. They’re worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears you put into this. Just remember that ultimately, it’s up to you. You and you alone are responsible for your life and your destiny. Dream big and go after it. Don’t wait around for luck or chance or for the shining white knight. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Shallow men believe in luck; wise and strong men believe in cause and effect!”.Posted on August 6, 2009