What prevents Harold from having a girlfriend in "Soldier's Home"?

Quick answer:

What prevents Harold from having a girlfriend is his commitment issues. Although he wants to have a girlfriend, he's not prepared to put in the effort to build a relationship with someone. This indicates perhaps that he had a painful experience with a woman in the past.

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Harold's experiences of war have not dimmed his attraction to the opposite sex. He enjoys admiring the young ladies of his hometown, with their beautiful faces and fancy clothes. What's more, he'd dearly love to enter into a relationship with one of them.

And yet he's unable to do so. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, Harold is as estranged from the girls he watches as all the other people in town. They're complete strangers to him, and he doesn't understand how he might possibly get acquainted with them.

But more importantly, Harold is held back by commitment issues. He may like to have a relationship, but he's not prepared to put in the necessary effort to make one happen. The whole process of courting a girl is just so incredibly boring to him, so he prefers to watch the girls go by instead of making any serious attempt to enter into a relationship with any of them.

We don't know for sure, but perhaps it's also the case that Harold had a painful relationship with a woman before he went away to war. That would explain why he's not so keen on dating and why the very thought of a romantic relationship is something he's not prepared to contemplate.

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