I haven’t had a “boyfriend” in approximately two years and eight months. Before the amicable end of that relationship, I had not been single for more than three weeks in 10 years (or since I started dating in fifth grade). Throughout junior high and highschool, I changed boyfriends like mechanics change oil. For various reasons, every few weeks or months, I was “onto the next one” © Jay-Z. I switched schools, zip codes and area codes incessantly, yet nothing affected my propensity to be in a relationship. And around my 19th birthday, I thought I had found the one I was going to spend my life with. I know that sounds dramatic, but if you’d been dating for eight years, you’d feel like you’d seen it all too. When he and I ended two years later (on good terms), I was devastated. I thought I would never find anyone else. Two full years later, I haven’t. Now, I’m completely over him, perpetually single and wanting a boyfriend.
Today, I began to think….
There are a few things I have resolved not to do the next time I am in a serious committed relationship: gain weight, skip hair appointments, neglect writing…oh and tell my single friends that they will find love once they stop looking.
What does that even mean?
I know that my friends who have given me this advice right now mean well, but I don’t really understand why anyone would think that is helpful.
Why is it that if I even mention my desire to have a boyfriend to people who are in a relationship I either get: “You’ll find love when you stop looking” or “work on yourself first and love will come to you”? These two inevitable responses are equally condescending, illogical and unhelpful.
These statements are condescending because it’s as if the person giving me this advice has “found” themselves completely and therefore been placed in the position of telling me that I am not “ready” for a relationship. (And if I happen to meet the love of my life tomorrow then that means “I’m ready”? That’s ludicrous. What is tomorrow to today? ) The statements are illogical because they assume that there is a place of “completion” in myself to arrive to that opens up some cosmic universe and attracts love to me out of nowhere. It’s magic, I guess. The statements are unhelpful because they assume I’m not working on myself or that I’m spending all of my time looking for love. For these reasons, every time one of these statements is uttered, the skin around my neck threatens to curl up around my ears and begin yanking them away from my head to stop the bleeding.
First of all, I resent the insinuation (or outright accusation) that I am spending all of my energy looking for love. Au contraire.
In case there is any confusion, and as much as I love her, I am not Carrie Bradshaw. Far from it actually. I don’t sit around with my three closest girlfriends at posh diners in New York City lamenting my love life every day. I don’t know any single girl who does. That’s not real life. The only thing Carrie and I have ever had in common was writing and an addiction to the exquisite pain of wanting someone who is unattainable. I am past that and Sex and the City is in syndication.
Am I spending all of my time looking for love? No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend any of my time wanting it.
I can want a boyfriend while living a full, hectic, complete-in-every-other-way life.
I wanted a boyfriend in college while I was pulling marathon all-nighters and cranking out straight A’s like it was elementary school all over again.
I wanted a boyfriend while I was interning 40-50 hours a week at FOX News Channel in New York City.
I wanted a boyfriend while I was interning at CNN in Atlanta and going home writing scathing, well-informed blogs about Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
I wanted a boyfriend while I was on the panel for Fox and Friends and when my article was featured on the front page of CBSNews.com
I wanted a boyfriend while I graduated Magna Cum Laude from one of the top journalism schools in the country.
I wanted a boyfriend while I got the phone call ten short days after my graduation telling me that my dad died suddenly leaving me on my own in Columbus.
I wanted a boyfriend when I got my first apartment, car and full-time job.
I want a boyfriend when I meet with my estate lawyer, tax advisor and financial planner.
I want a boyfriend when I’m paying bills on time and increasing my credit score
I want a boyfriend when I’m at church either volunteering or attending four out of seven days a week.
I want a boyfriend when I am waking up at 5am every Saturday morning for a three hour dance practice.
I want a boyfriend when I’m running around town trying to visit all five of my nieces and nephews.
I want a boyfriend when I’m poring over books/articles teaching myself about the stock market and investing.
In fact, the fuller and more complete my life gets, the more obvious it is to me what I am missing: Love.
And I do work on myself. I have so many personal development books, I’m beginning to think that therapy would becheaper. Some of them are about relationships, but most are dealing with finances or my spiritual well-being. I’m a reader and I’ve been obsessed with personal development books since I read 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens when I was 12. I have magazine subscriptions to Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health and Fortune. I pray. I go to church. I self-examine. I write. I grow. I change. And when I am in a relationship I will still work on myself.
So to tell someone like me that I need to work on myself or stop looking for love, doesn’t make sense. Are these people suggesting that I can get to a place in my life where I don’t care about being single? Can I walk through Walmart and not see the Valentines Day stuff everywhere? Can I be in the bookstore and not notice the couple holding hands in front of me in the checkout line? Can I run into one of my exes on my way to the gym and (while glad that relationship didn’t work out), not hope it works out soon with someone else? Can I get to a place in my life where my instincts to love and be loved completely shut-off?
I don’t believe that. Not for one minute. I need love in my life like some people need food, shelter and clothing. I believe in love. I admire love. I’m not obsessed with love, but I want it in my life again.
And I don’t believe there is anything wrong with wanting.
I’ve made some colossal mistakes in the relationship department in the last two years, but nothing so detrimental that I should be banished to singledom forever.
So, to tell me that I’m doing something wrong because I am not in a relationship is counterproductive and borderline rude.
The fact is, there are unanswerable questions in life and my single state may be one of them. When this phase of my life will be over is another. I don’t believe I will be alone forever. Murphy’s Law says “given a sufficiently long time, an event which is possible (non-zero probability) will almost surely take place.” So I haven’t joined the legions of hopeless women who cite statistics to reinforce their belief that they will never find love. That’s not me at all. But, I am also not one of those women who (IMO, pretends) she doesn’t care that she is alone. (And I will never be one of those women who gets in a relationship and is unable to empathize with my single sisters because I’ve forgotten what it is like to not be in love, yet feel ready for it.)
Who says love is something you have to be ready for anyway?
I am not perfect, but who is? There are plenty of emotionally unstable, financially ruined, physically horrid, co-dependent men and women in love. So, to imply that I am somehow less than them because I am not in a relationship boggles my mind.
There is more to life than love, but love is definitely a part of my ideal life.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Or me.
***I feel like I should note here that having a boyfriend doesn’t not equate being in love, but for the purposes of this blog, I interchanged the two things. I do not envision loveless relationships.***
***I also know that having a boyfriend is not the ultimate goal in life, and therefore I am not willing to date every John Doe I meet. Chemistry and compatibility are paramount.***
***I am not talking about marriage.***