HENRY ROLLINS Says He Sucks At Romantic Relationships

June 14, 2020

Punk rock icon Henry Rollins has confirmed that he hasn't had a serious romantic relationship in years. "I'm super-serious not good at it," he tells Daily Beast in a new interview: "I mean, I just suck at it! Not that I'm steeped in infidelity — one relationship is more than I can handle. I fail. I'm a workaholic, and that gets worse when I get older. When an amazing woman says, 'What are we doing this weekend?' I'm like, 'I'm working.' It's not their fault. They're expecting you to be an adult man and be 50 percent of something, and I simply can't deliver it. For me, it's not defensible, and there's nothing I can say that makes me look good. I don't ever raise my voice and call them mean names, but I just say, 'You know what? I really suck at this. I thought I could do it.' They're holding a handful of sand and after two weeks there's one grain left — and then they've lost that one too.

"And so I have decided that I'm really good at two or three things: I can really work. I can really sit alone for days at a time and write, edit, make a radio show. I can go to crazy parts of the world by myself with a backpack, get out the other end with all 10 fingers. Turn me loose in North Korea and Central Asia? I've done 'em both, and here I am. Showing up for dinner on time? I really want to be, but I've just figured out I'm not good at it. It's probably a combination of emotional arrested development and some kind of thing on the spectrum. It all hits a certain part of the adult relationship where I got no game, and I'm, 'Madam, I'm wasting your time.' It's cool when you're 15 to be a young idiot. You should, so you can learn not to be one later. At 59? There's no excuse, because you're dating a real human adult person in the world who has more life behind them than in front of them, if you're dating age-appropriately, and they don't want to waste any time with someone who shows up one day and is like, 'Hi, I'm 17 and I'm gonna go on eBay to win this thing' — which I'm so going to do this weekend. I'm not really a part of the adult world.

"So… I suck. And I wish I didn't, because I think women are the most amazing thing. I've had girlfriends over the years and it all gently fades away, and one day I show up and I say, “Hi. I'm not really attending class, am I?” and they say, “No, you're really not.” And I say, “Ow. OK.” That's way too much information. [Laughs] But it's happened enough times where, as an adult, you figure out what you're good at and what you're not good at. There was an amazing woman who's married to one of the most amazing men in American music. She's passed away, but she would invite me to her birthday parties. I can't tell you how nerve-wracking it was showing up, finding a corner, and standing in it for two hours. All her friends are there like voulez-vous and I'm standing there like the Ritalin kid at school—which I was. I'm good at being onstage in front of people. With people? Not so much. As I got older, this has become more profound: I am a kook."

Rollins, whose outspoken views and activism work have made him one of punk's most political alumni, spends his time taking on various acting roles, curating a radio show for Los Angeles-based KCRW and going on extensive spoken-word tours.

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