As a “newly turned adult”, I’m often faced with the question of whether or not I’m in a relationship. By family, family friends, friends, acquaintances, work colleagues. Even my general practitioner whom I only visit when I’m sick and dying and in need of antibiotics or a blood test referral.
Let’s clear some things up.
I’m 18 years old. I have never been in a relationship. I have never been kissed. I have never been with someone with no strings attached. I have never hooked up or fooled around with someone. And, I am a virgin.
And yes, I know that list sounds really tame and boring. For an 18-year-old to not have experienced at least one of the above mentioned things seems so strange in today’s day and age. Sure there have been asks to formals, dances and events by guys and a couple of Valentine’s Day roses given over the years, but there’s never been anything serious with a guy that would constitute a relationship.
Taking all of this into consideration has shown me one thing.
I’m perfectly content with not being in a relationship. I’m perfectly content with being single. I’m happy with my relationship status, or lack thereof.
And to answer the mystery of why I’m not in a relationship, I can tell you that I don’t know why I’m not.
In fact, why am I still single? Is there some sort of magical ritual I’m meant to partake in that’ll make me “relationship worthy”?
As much as my friends and I joke about our singleness and our desires to be with someone, and all those fantasies and goals we want to achieve with bae like travelling, waking up together, watching the sunrise together, creating memories and in-jokes and pet names etc etc etc, I can firmly say that I am perfectly happy with my single status.
And here’s why:
I am not ready. Not emotionally, not physically, not mentally.
I am not ready to open myself up to someone. To show them all the sides of me. The good, the ambitious, the crazy, the free spirited, the motivated, the anxious, the self conscious, the grumpy, the moody, and the sad and insecure.
We all have those life plans we construct when we’re young. You know, the ones that project our futures and the things we want.
This is how mine goes: I want to be married at 24/25 and adopt two kids at 27 (pregnancy is not for me, and there are so many children who deserve to shine and be loved and have families). I want to be married to a man I’m hopelessly in love with. Someone I’ve dated for a while (5 years probably) and that would include having lived with him because marriage cannot be done without knowing how someone works within the house.
And looking at that plan, it’s still something I want, and I know its attainable.
But I also know that jumping into a relationship isn’t a simple process. It isn’t all fairies and rainbows and glitter and love, because you find yourself suddenly sharing your space with someone. Sharing your secrets, showing your flaws and revealing who you truly are to someone.
That terrifies me.
The last time I opened myself up to someone, it was so wonderful and then it dissolved. We don’t talk anymore. I’ve messaged him maybe 8 times this year and every time, the conversation has left me in angry tears.
Maybe it’s the hurt and despair talking, but that experience has shown me that I’m not ready to get into a relationship. I’m not mature enough because I’m still trying to figure myself out. I’m still trying to understand what I need and require from myself and later, from someone who isn’t my family yet, or my closest friends.
Living in a first world society and being encapsulated by social media has shown me a lot. Possibly the most important thing I’ve learnt is that our society is constructing these ideals and values about being in a relationship that are so shallow. Platforms like snapchat and Instagram transmit images to millions of people worldwide who see a very poised and perfect version of reality.
I follow quite a few celebrities and have often caught myself thinking, “damn x and y have such a great life. Their relationship is goals”. But I’m fooling myself. The society we live in has constructed this expectation that relationships are going to be a series of picture perfect moments. My relationship is going to be full of beautiful moments and love and happiness and it’s going to be perfect. I’m not saying that I won’t be happy and have beautiful moments in a future relationship, but human interaction isn’t always nice and sweet. Compromise and arguments are sometimes the only way things work. Even the most in love couples fight and argue and have “ugly” moments.
We’re surrounded by these goals to achieve and these expectations that we should fulfil. And that’s what distorts our judgement of whether or not we’re ready for a relationship. Society has constructed this belief that if you aren’t in a relationship, then there’s something wrong with you. And, for a period of time, I did question my self worth because I was single and emotional and probably on my period. I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t in a relationship with the guy I wanted to be with. But then I realised that queens don’t settle for anything less than the best. And just like that, I snapped out of my pity-party.
Looking at myself, I know I’m not ready because I’m so self-motivated and independent that sometimes having someone next to me might feel overbearing or slow me down. I’m driven by my goals, ambitions and work. And when I’m focused, nothing can get in the way of stopping me from achieving what I want to.
I can’t take compliments and I’ve been told that I’m emotionally unreachable. I strongly dislike large displays of affection and gift exchange. To me, buying me something on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary is simply not as special as being spontaneous and surprising me. I prefer the intangible and the experiences I can create with someone over receiving a necklace or flowers on an assigned day of love. Cheesy text messages make me shudder. Yes, certain aspects of being in love and loving someone are requisite to being cheesy, but honestly speaking, if you love me and want to be with me, tell me outright rather than doing it in some over-the-top dramatic fashion. Guys who are straight forward and talk smart are insanely attractive to me. I don’t enjoy excessive displays of affection. It just isn’t an appeal.
I need space. If I’m upset or angry, I need time to come to terms with it myself. I need to cry by myself and recollect my thoughts alone before I’m ready to talk to someone. And if I don’t have access to this in a relationship, I will go mad. If I’m not ready to talk about something, then pressuring me will just make me angry and it’ll result in an unnecessary fight. Which I don’t want. Because I cry when I’m angry and it makes me less formidable.
The first thing I need to ask myself when opening up to anyone, be it family, friends or a potential boyfriend, is if I’m ready to tear down my armour. I’ve built walls to guard me from getting hurt after years of bullying, the loss of a friendship that hurt me a lot, and continues to do so, and certain life circumstances that forced me to mature faster than people my age. Frankly, I’m not ready to make myself vulnerable. I don’t think it’s something I can do right now. It takes a lot of time and patience to be able to know that someone you love and are ready to commit to will love you for who you are, flaws and vulnerabilities included.
And on a less intense note, I’m simply not ready because I don’t have the time for a relationship right now. In between studying a double degree, working as an accounts clerk, increasing my extracurricular activities, writing, travelling, taking photos and working on making myself a more well-rounded and employable individual, I don’t have the time for even a little TLC. My TLC includes the satisfaction of a great workout because my muscles are protesting and I’m pleasantly sore all over. My TLC includes binging tv shows at 1am or cooking. It isn’t great.
If I don’t have time for myself, how am I going to have time for someone else?
To answer society’s prevailing question, I am single. And I’m proud and happy with my relationship status. I’ve never been in a relationship. I’ve never been kissed. And I’m not ready for a relationship right now. I’m at a stage in my young life where I thrive on my motivation and independence and want to develop my own unique personality and outlook.
Yes I want a relationship and goddamn I’m excited for one. I’m excited for the day I get married. I want a relationship built on a foundation of growth, trust, honestly, laughter and love. I want those moments where I’ll be surprised with brunch during a working day. I want to travel the world with the man I love and take photos and create unforgettable memories. I want a relationship built on cooperation where we mutually become better people for ourselves and each other.
But falling in love and getting into a relationship doesn’t happen if you search and force it. Moments like these strike us at the most surprising of moments, and that’s what makes it so terrifying yet exhilarating.
After all, we are falling.