I had lunch with a friend the other day and while complaining about our love lives we started to wonder whether we were losing our best years this way… I mean, I feel like I’ve always had a boyfriend. I’ve been trying to fulfil the duties of a girlfriend since I was 15 years old.
I have this image of the independent single girl with her own place and her career and all her friends and I totally support this idea and I feel bad sometimes that I’m not her and have never been her. I’m always involved with somebody and have been carrying the guilt and the fear of that around for the past 10 years…
Fear; Because I’m constantly scared that I’m doing something wrong. I didn’t used to be… but over the years I’ve been shouted at so much (don’t get me wrong, I’ve done more than my fair share of shouting too) that I second guess everything I do or say at 25 years old. Example: A friend of mine tagged me in a photo on Instagram, alluding to a wild night out I had years ago, right before him and I were ‘official’. My immediate reaction was to smile, giggle, agree with her that we need a similar night out again. But that night is a very sensitive subject for him. So almost immediately I’m worrying: Can he see this post? Can he see my response? Am I going to get in trouble for this?
I actually looked through every one of her two hundred-odd followers to see if he was one of them before I commented with the giggly monkey emoji. And I’m still worried that he’ll see it and have an almighty fall out with me.
I’ve spoken before about my contradictory nature and this contradiction is one I particularly hate. I’m always a girlfriend who’s censoring and limiting herself for the sake of her boyfriend. I’m not trying to sound like a victim because I can be a nightmare girlfriend. I mean… yeah. It’s bad, when I haven’t got a handle on it. I’m only a victim of my own choices. And I strongly believe that a woman should be able to be herself, to do what she wants, to say what she wants, to be unapologetic about her past and that her partner should accept her entire being; the uncensored version that her partner fell for in the first place. Yet in every one of my three relationships (which isn’t many, but they’ve managed to span the past 10 years of my life so I feel like a pretty seasoned monogammer. Yeah, just made a word.) I have changed and subdued myself. I’ve lost all my male friends and at this point lost any ability to talk to a male of similar age naturally, because I’m too worried that I’m ‘giving him the wrong impression’ or simply that he finds me attractive (because I get in trouble for that, too). I don’t speak as candidly as I would like. I don’t go out very much, I hardly ever get drunk anymore lest the real me reveal herself (although to be fair, she’s a total train wreck sometimes). I’m downright anti-social.
At this point, I feel like being in a relationship allows me to only be half of myself. How different would I have been had I been single for at least some years of the past decade? But that question is double-edged. Yeah, I might have been more conscientious, more driven, more focused, more creative, more fun… But I may also have been a hot mess. I feel as though I need a boyfriend to keep me in check, but I’ve never really found out for myself. I imagine if I were single right now I’d be spending my weekends dancing on drugs until I sweat my makeup off and start moving like a zombie before sleeping it off in a cold, dark room… And then I think, is that how I should be spending my last youthful years? Am I missing out on partying until zombification?!
I feel as if I really know myself now. I know that I’m full of contradictions but I can recognise them and I’m at peace with probably 90% of my flaws. But the ‘me’ I know is girlfriend me. I’m not sure that I know single me (when she’s not completely and truly heartbroken, that is). Would I be a liability? A total boss babe? Or a lonely cat lady who spends Saturday nights in beds with cups of tea and sudoku? (Actually, that’s me currently.)
So I’ve been wondering if getting back with him was me relinquinishing my last chance to find out what kind of life single blonde would carve for herself. At the time I felt as though I didn’t have a choice… I loved him, so how could there be a choice? Surely I had to give it a go? And I think I love that idea because there is an ironic kind of freedom in it. I was free from taking responsibility, which is probably my biggest fucking fear ever ever ever. It was the easy way out… and yet it’s not been easy. It’s been a lot of sad, lonely nights peppered with attacks of anxiety. Where is he? Who’s he with? Is he thinking of me? Why doesn’t he want to see me? Of course, it’s not all bad; there’s also been lots of laughs and fun.
So, to be single would mean losing so many things that I love and so many that I hate. I risk losing the person the past 10 years have shaped me into; shedding my skin and starting all over again. Which is a fucking terrifying concept, but there’s something very alluring about the image of that single, independent woman. It should be the case that I can be that woman, who is unapologetically herself, independent, with her own career, her own place, her own life… full autonomy, while being in a relationship – that’s the dream, tbh. That’s 100% a vision worth working towards.
Still feel like I’m missing out on going to raves and getting fucked up, though. If I ever get hitched I’m gonna need a week-long hen do of pure debauchery. You’re all invited!