I don’t even want a boyfriend. I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me. And it makes me feel very stupid to tell you this because it makes me sound like a girl who wants to, like, go to brunch. And I really don’t want to go to brunch*, and I don’t want you to sit on the couch while I shop or even meet my friends. – Hannah Horvath
Before my most recent encounter, I’d been single for nearly a year and a half. No biggie, I know. But this alone spell was my longest since the age of 16 (I’m 27).
When me and my long-term boyfriend parted ways in 2013, I felt jittery at the newness. This would be an adventure, I decided. “A journey of self-discovery.” And, granted, I’ve learnt a ton about myself since then. Like how much I still have to learn about the world. How to change a lightbulb (or how, if you leave the new bulb on the side for long enough because you can’t seem to screw it in, your flatmate will do it for you). How lazy I am when it comes to cooking for one. How gut-wrenchingly hard I fall (and apparently only for the most unavailable of men).
The truth is, at the end of last year, I was only just steadying myself after being knocked for six by an unrequited longing that refused to be shaken for the longest time. How ironic that I’d spent so much of my self-imposed “self-discovery time” musing in my Moleskine about how crappy it feels to want someone who doesn’t want you back.
“I don’t even want a boyfriend,” I’d protest (perhaps too much). “I want to live my own life. I’m having a blast right now. (But if we could hang out on a regular basis and you could only be spending your nights with me and you could tell me you quite like me a lot, then that’d just be swell, K?)”
Who was I kidding?
The thing is, I’m a girl who loves to love. A male friend of mine recently enlightened me as to exactly how obvious that fact is. There’s so much of that mushy L-shaped emotion positively bursting out of my chest, you can practically smell it. Or so I’m told. So when I was approached five months ago by someone who was seemingly up to the task of receiving it (on the surface, at least), I was ready. I gave and I gave – and then I obviously gave some more.
Because this is me.
Here, this is what my heart looks like. In fact, take it. I’ll even put it on a plate for you, dress it up and make it look fancy. It’s yours. Do what you will with it. Just please take good care. Now. What else do you need?
Denials aside, what can’t be ignored is my subconscious pursuit of a person to be with. To do stuff with. To go places with. To dress up for and to dress down with. To curl up to and eat out with. To text when I see silly things that remind me of them or references to that trashy TV show we both secretly love.
Despite my assurances that I’m alright by myself (honest)… I think we’re all meant to be with someone really. Of course, I’m learning that the trick is being OK without someone else. When another person would be the cherry on your chocolate cake, that’s when they’re meant to come along, all randomly and stuff, and sweep you off your feet. When you’re in your sweats and no make-up, casually scanning the Co-op shelves on a Friday night for the biggest jar of Nutella they stock. That’s when smiles get swapped and numbers get exchanged and recipes for the best Nutella-banana toasties get written on the backs of receipts. Or when you’re walking your dog in the park on a sunshiney day and you’ve got grass stains on your hands and dog poo on your shoes and you’re holding a see-through bag of actual steaming dog poo, but it doesn’t matter, because then your leads entangle and your eyes meet and fake bluebirds start chirping above your heads.
In both of those scenarios, you’re just ambling along quite nicely by yourself thankyouverymuch before some handsome devil goes and pokes his nose in. And then you’re like, “Oh, hey. I don’t need you. I’m good, thanks. But you look pretty. And you seem nice. So maybe stay a while.”
So. I’m getting on with the ambling. Or, as my friend put it today, “immersing myself in what makes me happy.” Writing. Reading. Incessantly voice-noting my friends (which, in case you’re wondering, involves singing, doing impressions and spending ten minutes disclosing the most intimate details of my current emotional state. Come, let’s be Whatsapp buddies). Filling my diary with gigs and tea dates. Making time to do nothing but watch Made in Chelsea and drink hot chocolate with almond milk (which – it pains me to say – will just never be the same as hot chocolate with cow’s milk). Letting my big-sister heart burst with pride. Sleeping. Walking. Yoga-ing. Running. Doing squats ’til I can’t squat no more. Finding new music. Seeing new places. Learning about cultural/historical/meaningful stuff I never knew. Becoming a person I’d quite fancy myself if I were so inclined.
Sometimes, with all this talk of self-love and independence and doing it allllllll by ourselves, it can feel like a weakness to want to be with someone. I’ve decided that it isn’t. Some people are just predisposed that way. But, as I’ve also decided, do let’s try and make it so that when that someone arrives, we don’t pour our hearts out onto plates and serve them up to be caressed and filled. Because they’ll already be brimming with so much good stuff that anything else someone might be able to squeeze into them will represent nothing more than that bouncy little cherry. Because we’ve been spending Friday nights in our sweats if we wanted and being good citizens by picking up our dogs’ crap and walking for miles and cracking our minds open and moving cross-country and doing it all because we wanted to – while leaving a little room for that someone who might want to do it all with us.
* Hannah may not want to go brunch but I actually would love to go to brunch, thanks.