I Almost Became an Nigcel Because I Couldn't Get a Girlfriend
It’s ok to be a sucker for love, it’s not ok to be a monster.
When I started this essay series, I hoped to use my failed relationships and poor decisions as a filter to discuss important issues. Things like consent, rape culture, and entitlement. I was hoping to do it in a way that would encourage men to assess the way they view and engage with women, while also doing a deeper reflection on themselves. I’m not sure how many people I have been able to help/enlighten, but in the time writing these essays I have learned a lot about myself. This is why I want to close out this chapter of my essay series with a story that I never intended to share. Don’t worry, it wasn’t because of anything egregious, but as I was putting an outline together and thinking of topics to cover this one didn’t even crack the top ten. After some deep reflection, I think it’s important I share this experience, as well as the lesson.
There are three women who define my adolescent and young adult years. There was my first ever girlfriend, Jeana, my long-term but never revealed crush on my next-door neighbor, Desire, and my Jr. high and high school crush, Samantha Mendez. Samantha was a short Puerto Rican girl who lived on the edge of East New York. Our relationship started out contentious because as a musty 12-year-old youth, I was committed to making fun of her and her friends for their obsession with boy bands. I did this while secretly loving all of the same bands, but being too afraid to admit it because people might call me gay.
By the end of eighth grade, I realized that it didn’t matter what I did, people would make fun of me regardless, so if I was going to be bullied, I might as well get bullied for things I enjoyed. No longer shackled by the opinion of others, I started discussing my love of Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, O-Town, and 98 degrees. Sam took a liking to this and before you knew it, we were friends. Initially, I wasn’t interested In her romantically. I was just happy to have a friend of the opposite sex who liked me for me, not because I got high scores in our Global Studies class. However, the more I got to know Samantha, the more my feelings started to evolve.
In hindsight, I think it's pretty easy to see what drew me to her. She was a bubble of energy with a wicked sense of humor, elite skills in the art of petty, and an ear for music that went far beyond bubblegum pop. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was in “love” with her. Like most of the women I fell for back then, I fantasized about what our relationship could be before I ever considered telling her how I felt, asking her out, or even seeing if she was interested.
I had the entire thing mapped out in my head, the only thing left to do was secure Sam. She wasn’t interested.
A relationship between me and Sam made so much sense when I fantasized about it, I never considered that she wouldn’t agree. But she didn’t. While she also felt like we had a lot of chemistry and she cared for me, her feelings were plutonic.
I was crushed by her rejection, but had just finished re-watching the early 2000’s classic, “10 Things I Hate About You” Instead of accepting reality, I decided to use friendship as a trojan horse and trick her into falling in love with me. That plan also failed miserably. That second rejection hurt more than the first, and I think I spiraled a bit. As an insecure teenage boy with low self-esteem, I spent a lot of time living inside of my own head. Reality sucked. I was poor, depressed, and lonely. After spending the earlier part of my life in a home where physical and verbal abuse from my stepmother was the norm my dad finally clocked into his parenting duties and moved us out. Unfortunately for him, that meant breaking up with said stepmother. A woman he loved so intensely, I suspect he held some resentment towards me for being forced to part ways with her. But enough context, let's get back to the story.
I was dealing with the fall-out from that traumatic experience in my formative years, and while I didn’t know it then, it colored my relationship with women in ways that I’m still unpacking today.
After the plan to trick Sam into falling in love with me crashed and burned, we continued our friendship. As a result, she did what most attractive and single people do, date. I couldn’t handle this level of open disrespect and immediately began to lash out. I would purposely start arguments to upset her, flirt with her enemies to make her jealous, and threaten her boyfriends. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, she refused to love me! I didn’t know how to deal with that level of consistent rejection.
I was doing everything in my power to show her that I was the one, and she just wasn’t interested. I would leave school every day with a pang in my chest while fighting the urge to cry. I felt small, unimportant, and hollow, it was a set of feelings I was very familiar with; because that’s how my Stepmother used to make me feel.
When I realized that Samantha’s treatment made me feel the same way my stepmother did, I started to resent her (Sam). I didn’t know what to do with this newfound rage, so I went to my usual outlet, music. With the help of Limewire, and an ungodly amount of Blank CDs I started crafting playlists full of angry songs to help me cope with the pain. Eminem, Papa Roach, Eamon, and Limp Bizkit were the only things I would listen to, and their lyrics were raw, angry, and very very violent. Sam noticed the shift in my behavior and with the help of our guidance counselor organized an intervention, an act that may have changed my entire life.
I don’t remember how the actual “intervention went” but I do remember Sam expressing to me how much she loved me, and how worried she was. She told me that I was becoming increasingly angry in ways that didn’t just scare her but others. Thankfully, I was smart enough to listen. I was 16 years old, sitting in a small conference room with my guidance counselor, a handful of friends, and the girl I tricked myself into thinking I was in love with. Something had to change, so I did.
“According to Beyonce’s internet, an Incel is a member of an online subculture who defines themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one. They’re often characterized by resentment, misogyny, misanthropy, self-pity and self-loathing, racism, a sense of entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active people.” I was becoming that, but the Black version. A Nigcel.
Here’s another fun fact about Nig/incels, “At least six mass murders, resulting in a total of 44 deaths, have been committed since 2014 by men who have either self-identified as incels or who had mentioned incel-related names and writings in their private writings or Internet postings.” Why is this relevant? Well, I grew up in the late 90’s early 2000’s, and limited access to the internet. If I had discovered an online space like this before Sam’s intervention, I would have absolutely identified with the people within this sub-culture. As shameful as it is to admit, I was headed down a path that was full of hate for women, myself, and the world.
And sure, not everyone in the Incel community is trying to murder women, but I would bet all of the money in my wallet that they are more susceptible to violence towards women, and folks in the LGBT+ community. And sure, I had some very specific issues at home that impacted my mental health. But my idealization, and then subsequent resentment of women is not abnormal for young boys, or even grown men, It is the norm. It’s a terrifying reality that we (men) have a responsibility to face head-on and do the work necessary to protect women, save little boys all over the world, and finally save ourselves. It’s ok to be a sucker for love, it’s not ok to be a monster.