I was never any good at flattery. All I could do was express myself honestly and simply, and even that only if I felt comfortable with someone.

But I didn’t get it, not for a long, long time. I spent my twenties, much of my young adulthood, trying to fit in. That meant, for a young man in the U.S. (at least as I interpreted it**) that I had to be going out, socializing, asking women on dates, dancing and buying them drinks.

To do this I’d have to be out and about where people congregated for this type of behavior, namely at bars and nightclubs. I never liked those places, so I put myself at a disadvantage to begin with. And then, in order to fit in and be successful with the ladies….there was the flattery.

Okay, look, I’m not saying this was really the way to do it, but it’s how I understood it. Why? Because I did not have anyone guiding me, I did not have anyone telling me what I would learn a decade or so later: do your own thing, follow your heart and do what you love; the people you need to be around, friendly or romantic, will appear. Because if you are not doing your own thing, if you engage in activities that don’t feed your soul, you are only going to find others that you cannot relate to.

But in those early days, with youthful hormones raging and perceived societal pressures bearing down, I tried to find companionship through false efforts, including flattery–which, fortunately for me as I look back on it, I was wholly unable to engage in.

Ah youth. I’ll take maturity and patience any day.

**A disclaimer: I never really believed in this way of relating. I was confused and full of self-doubt, so I tried to do what I saw as the socially-acceptable thing men and women do. I never once asked a woman to dance at a nightclub; I never bought a drink for anyone. I was lost and confused, and the only saving grace I can find in all of this is that I failed miserably in my efforts, so I never dragged anyone else through my confusion.