I can’t say I’ve ever been in a true romantic relationship in good conscience. I did have a boyfriend from the spring to the fall of 2004 when I was 13-14, but it was a summer romance at best and a weird experiment at worst. He had been my good friend for a couple years, and remained a good friend even after our “breakup.” (Though I was a sobbing mess for a few weeks, and we did make out a lot when we were together, so I suppose you could say it was real.)
Other than that, it’s been nothing but uncomfortable flirtation and the sporadic bad first date (and a couple good dates, and one second date with a great guy I just didn’t spark with! It wasn’t all bad). For a long time, this lack of a love life made me feel awful about myself. What kind of person am I that I can’t get a frigging partner? They seem to be a dime a dozen, all of my friends have had at least one or two in their lifetimes (quite often it’s a significantly higher number). And don’t even get me started on being a virgin at my age. Most of my friends started having sex at 16. I must be some kind of ugly, loony freak to not even come close to a romantic relationship past middle school.
With hindsight, I’m glad I’ve been single for the grand majority of my life. I’ve been able to discover what I truly want for myself, and how to function comfortably on my own. I look the way I want, dress the way I want, and act the way I want, and I’ve never been manipulated into thinking I should mold myself into what someone else specifically desires. None of the traditional aspects of romance ever really interested me; going on dates, being around one another (apparently) all the time, constant touching…it’s really no wonder I never worked towards being with someone. It simply didn’t interest me. The idea of being in a relationship interested me, and I also considered it some sort of “pretty validation” to have a romantic partner. But in the end I just didn’t care enough to go for it. Flirting was boring, and dating was uncomfortable AND boring, I just had better things to do (like pine away for a friend who emotionally manipulated me for years, but that’s a post for another time).
But I’m finally coming to terms with all that. I think I look pretty good, and I think that if I actually stepped out and attempted to flirt and date I’d have a chance at romance. But the overwhelming problem I’m facing now is that I have NO IDEA what I would be like in a romantic relationship.
I’m not afraid of being clingy, overly emotional, or manipulative – I’m afraid of being cold, distant, and impatient. Being single for so long has allowed me the luxury of solitude, and I really don’t know if I’d be willing to give that up for someone else. A large majority of my friends are currently seeing someone, and hanging out with them and their partners can often send me to shiver city. The constant touching. Leaning on your partner’s knees, draping your legs over theirs, your hand on the back of their neck, arms over their shoulders…the combinations never end. And all I can think is, “Aren’t you getting sweaty? Crampy? Stiff? Or does your romantic relationship build some kind of buffer between you where all the gross human body stuff cancels out and you just feel fluffy and comfortable?” Why can’t couples ever seem to sit on a couch without being all over one another?
I also don’t understand how two people can happily share a bed, or (worse) look forward to it. Isn’t one of the great privileges of this world being able to sleep alone in a room where no one else is making noises or shuffling on the bed or audibly farting (or vice versa)? Sleeping is an exceptionally private thing for me, and sharing a bed with another person is akin to not getting any sleep at all. To that end, I certainly don’t think I could happily live with a romantic partner. I literally need my alone time or I will lose my mind, and the fear of what to do after breaking up would weigh too heavily on me. (I consider breaking up to be an inevitability in the majority of romantic relationships, by the way. WONDER WHY I’M STILL SINGLE?!)
I know I know, there are all kinds of compromises people make in relationships. You don’t have to constantly touch someone else or sleep in the same bed to be in a functioning, healthy relationship. But it’s hard to unlearn that behavior when it’s all I’ve ever witnessed. How could anyone want to be with me when I seem like such a cold, calculating person? I mean, I can’t even stand to let my family see me brush my teeth, how am I supposed to let anyone else in that close?
Maybe I’m still just in love with the idea of being in love. Maybe I’m simply not cut out for romantic relationships. Maybe I’m too stubborn, or too unfeeling, or too self-centered.
Or maybe I’m just afraid because I’ve never experienced that sort of closeness before, and like everything else it’s the lack of experience that I’m most afraid of, not the relationship itself.
Or maybe I’ll find someone who likes sleeping in separate rooms. Who knows? I’ll just have to try.