Anyone who knows me knows that I am without a doubt, unquestionably, 100% a relationship person. There is just one small issue. I hate relationships. I’ve been single now for 10 months which is the longest time I’ve been unattached since I was 14 (that makes a total of 12 years of relationships for anyone counting). To be fair, the only reason I am is because my last partner shattered my heart into a million teeny, tiny pieces then stepped on them until they were paste. My heart was paper-mâché trodden into the carpet, so, I’ve been working on that. It still hurts, I won’t lie, and it’s definitely been a part in some bad decisions over the last few months (although luckily, they’re becoming fewer and far between). It’s also been the best months of my life in so many ways. Doing what I want, when I want to without the obligation of explaining anything to anyone is a real freedom I have never experienced. When you have an intense relationship with someone like I have always had, you tell them every moment of your day. If there are minutes missing, then there are questions. That doesn’t mean I wanted to cheat, or even flirt, but it’s given me the space to have that extra pint or extra-large pizza, or even take an extra shift at work without repercussions. I have always had my own bank account and my own money but I still felt a weight of pressure to spend my money wisely so we, as a couple, could work towards whatever common goal we were working for. That pressure has been lifted and now I own too many pretty outfits and shoes that I don’t need. I can date who I like and because of that I have met many good friends who I would never have even met before before. I can dance in my underwear and take selfies to send to no one.
It’s not all roses, that’s true. I get lonely. I’ve stayed out all night drinking when I should’ve been looking after myself better and I’ve spent nights with men who have no respect for women in general, let alone me. When I struggle, I have to ask for help. There is no one there to pick up on the minute changes in my posture or attitude. Even when I do ask for help, sometimes people aren’t free or willing to listen to me ramble about my issues once again. When I feel chubby and my skin is bad, there is no one there to tell me I look pretty. I’m a cuddler and right now my bed is empty of a spooning partner which I aggressively make up for whenever I share a bed, to the annoyance of my friends (although, to be fair, that’s nothing new). Of course, there are bad points to being single, but this is true to any situation and right now, I’ll take the lonely nights over the stifling pressure of a serious relationship that’s not working.
The first problem with relationships is they seem so shiny from the outside. It’s all drinks and adventure and flirting and sex in the afternoon. It’s learning everything you can about each other and the optimism that you’ve found your “soul mate” (whatever that means) . You both make an effort with your appearance and get a thrill out of noticing every crease on your sparkly new partners face. You play with each others hair and give each other shoulder massages that last longer than 15 seconds. Then comes the trigger moment. In hindsight, it’s these moments, these decisions and sacrifices that make things change. For me, in both of my serious relationships, I guess you could pin point that moment as the time I agreed that my partner can fart in front of me. Fatal error. And from that second, the romance and wonderment wafted away with the methane.
Despite my solid 10 years of serious, adult relationships, I’ve not yet learnt how to be my own person when I’m in one. I am the kind of person who will throw myself in front of a bus for someone I love (friends and family included). My expectations are immense, and it’s taken a lot for me to learn that just because my other half wouldn’t take that fatal dive, doesn’t mean they don’t love me. Love is a difficult mistress to define and everyone reads her differently. Since I’ve been dating, I have had more than one man tell me that they like me or even love me while I sit there bewildered, feeling like I don’t even know the person sat in front of me, absolutely sure that they don’t know the real me. Being able to sync that with the person you choose to be with is important. So far, I don’t think I’ve experienced this and I’m thankful for that. If I had been with someone who feels feelings as strongly as I have, I may have drowned myself in them. I have been lucky enough to have my heart torn up which has allowed me to come up for air. In that air I found things that I didn’t know were important to me, because before they weren’t important to the person I loved. I’ve found things I detest and things that make me laugh and people that I connect with on a completely unexpected level. This time is a gift and I am grateful for it. I don’t want to be single forever. I still get that rush when I meet someone I think I could really fall for. The difference this time is I am more cautious. I am in love with my life, I am excited about the future and I’m only just getting to know myself. I’m not ready to give that up for someone who isn’t without a doubt, unquestionably, 100% the right person.