As of writing this post, I am 23 years, 2 months, 3 days, and…about 7.5 hours old. I have only ever had one boyfriend, and I have never been on a date.
To some people that’s outrageous. I mean, I have friends getting married and having children. To others it’s normal – they’re in a similar boat.
There’s a lot of reasons to be single for so long, and it’s totally dependent on each person. For me, it’s a combination of intimacy issues, self-esteem problems, and enjoying being alone a little too much. I’ll elaborate on those points later.
I was in my one-and-only relationships during high school. It was an online, long-distance relationship that started the summer before 9th grade and ended just around graduation. While we had some off-and-on periods, I was essentially taken for all of the four years of high school. I think this was really good for my personality, having a boyfriend yet not being able to see him often. It meant that I wasn’t too distracted by boys in school, or worried about being ahead or behind everyone’s romantic timelines (which are a load of b.s.), but it did kind of regress my personal experiences in terms of dating. I mean, we got in a relationship via a messenger system, we saw each other four times in four years. We never dated or anything like that. It was difficult in the obvious ways but also a hell of a lot easier than starting a normal, in person relationship.
Once I went to university, I wasn’t in a hurry to enter another relationship, because four years was a long time to be emotionally invested in someone else, yet I was still crushing on people. My best friend with a girlfriend, and the guy in my dorm house who enjoyed the close proximity to hormonal girls…I had a couple of distractions from any typical relationship fallout, but nothing ever really happened with either of them. Again, in my second year, I crushed on a coworker with a girlfriend.
Are you seeing the trend? I have always fallen for guys I can’t have. Sure, I had a four-year-long relationship, but he lived in another country. Physically, I couldn’t have him. Then it was all boys I couldn’t have emotionally: coworkers, taken, not ready for a relationship. I didn’t care, I wanted them. I guess I like a challenge. But it’s not like it ever got me anywhere. It was foolish of me to even consider.
My four years of a relationship have proven that I’m good at relationships. I have communication down pat, I can be considerate of someone else and their needs, I’m excellent at messaging back (and messaging too much), I know about compromise and listening to each other. But I can’t date for shit.
I know, I know, Amanda, just get Tinder already. Bleck. I still don’t really want a relationship. I don’t need one. I’m really good by myself, so I’m not that interested in dating anyway. When I find someone I want, then I want a relationship with them. If I’m not interested in anyone, I don’t even think about dating.
So why is it that when I am interested in someone, it’s always someone I can’t have? This is where we get back to those intimacy issues and self-esteem problems.
I really like being alone. I am the one person I can trust and rely on. I’m excellent company. I’m highly independent. The idea of bringing another person into that is nothing short of terrifying. How am I supposed to explain all of my quirks to another person? How am I supposed to accept everything that they are? How am I supposed to just let them in and expect that they’ll be comfortable?
I can’t. People aren’t predictable. I know myself really really well. I am highly predictable. But other people? They’re rogue canons. And I hate that. It makes me feel…well it makes me not want to have another one so close. It comes from my own need to be in control, particularly emotionally. I get it, I just don’t know how to fix it.
And the self-esteem problems. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before: someone confesses that they like you, and you feel bad that you don’t like them, and maybe you even think they’re a little weird now. Instead, you want the person you can’t have. They seem cool and collected, and probably won’t go for you. You can pine after them from a distance and daydream about what could, but ultimately won’t, be.
Psychology suggests that this phenomenon is due to a lack of self-respect: we think the person who confesses to us is weird because we don’t see what they like in us, whereas we understand why the person we’re pining after wouldn’t want to be with us. What’s more, the pain is familiar. It’s comfortingly predictable.
Growing up and in university that’s probably what it was for me: I had a lot of self-esteem issues and thought people who liked me must be crazy. I subconsciously chose to chase people who I believed wouldn’t want me.
Now? Now it’s the intimacy issues. I subconsciously choose to chase people who I can’t have, because the pain of it is familiar, and it won’t lead to the scary start of a relationship.
So that’s where I’m at after the past 23 years: good at relationships, bad at dating.
I’m learning, though. I’m learning that I no longer have those big self-esteem issues, because in the most recent case of this falling for someone and not being able to have them, I never thought he was better than me. He was unobtainable, sure, for plenty of reasons, but not because I thought he was out of my league or whatever. And with the final fallout that has solidified it as being only something that would happen in my head, I don’t think it’s my fault. I’m a fucking catch. He has his own issues.
I could make a more conscious effort to chase people who are available and be more assertive rather than beating around the bush so much; I deserve the self-respect of telling people that I’m interested in them, because why wouldn’t they be interested in me?
As a demi-sexual woman, I’m not interested in people very often as it is, and, as I said, I’m not that interested in dating for the sake of dating. Even if I was interested in an available person, I largely lack the social skills to speak up about it and make a move…
It’s a little complicated, but I believe the more aware I am of all of these issues and the better I am about addressing them when I feel attraction for someone, the better I will do the next time (and time after that, because let’s be real, this shit takes practice).
And what’s more, I like being single almost to prove a point. So what if I’m 23 and I’ve only had one boyfriend? Who cares? I know I’m biased, but I’d rather be scared of being in a relationship than be scared of being alone. Anyway, there’s no point in judging anyone either way. We’re all just trying to do our best.
And what’s even the point of dating? I’m just ranting now…I’m sure I’ll do it someday.
In the meantime, I’m more than happy on my own.