I am 21-years-old and experiencing my first real relationship.
It was when I was probably about 16 that I made the decision that I was an anti-boyfriend girl. I was going to be “the single friend.” This decision didn’t come out of empowerment. It didn’t come from this proud, fulfilled place. I don’t know if it had something to do with falling for unattainable boys, seeing unhappy relationships in so many adults or just feeling overwhelmed with reciprocated feelings, but it happened. Let’s face it. This was not actually a decision; this was a way for me to protect myself from feeling like I was hiding from something.
My situation isn’t any different or more tragic than that of many other girls that I know. “Commitment issues” and “fear of intimacy” aren’t expressions reserved for men in romantic comedies anymore. I wanted to be a strong woman, and at that time, being strong meant going places and doing things alone and knowing that I was fine with being by myself. By the time I hit college I would not mix boys with feelings. No way, no how. College continued, one bizarre “dating” or “hanging-out thing” after another. In the meantime, I was constantly encouraged to think about my future, what would make me happy and what I wanted to accomplish. All these thoughts, for me, were based on being independent.
I wanted to be a strong woman, and at that time, being strong meant going places and doing things alone and knowing that I was fine with being by myself.
For many people I know, planning the future includes a partner. As they start to graduate and look forward, they plan what to do with their boyfriend of 4 years, they think they’ll meet “the one” someday. I thought and planned and considered everything that I would want from my life as though it would be just me forever. I don’t mean to sound dramatic or heart-wrenching or like some dweeby “forever alone” meme. I simply mean that I saw my future and couldn’t even consider it involving another person, and I was content with it. I had mastered the art of being alone, had no plans for kids, and no plans for marriage. I saw people I knew from highschool getting engaged or having babies on purpose and I was just sitting there thinking I’ve never been in love. I haven’t even been in a situation that could maybe turn into love after a while. I’ll be okay if it stays this way. Marriage, babies, futures, these things all require a level of trust that I hadn’t even begun to experience with someone.
Up until this time in my life, the declaration of my certainty of solitude wasn’t having an effect on my semi-existent dating-life. But now someone is here, and I can tell it does matter. The amount of trust required to imagine the future that I often feel like I am supposed to want is sometimes unfathomable. Still, now, being strong means not succumbing to the feeling in my chest that I am free-falling into the dark and trusting him when he tells me that he isn’t going anywhere.
The fact is, there is no pride in being scared, and there is no pride in being cynical.
I can imagine one month from now and two and three months from now. I imagine myself still wanting him around me, and still wanting to know when he woke up in the morning and still getting goosebumps when he puts his hand on my leg and this is no doubt the most terrifying situation I have ever faced. I went from not being able to imagine a life with someone to not being able to imagine a life without him. Sometimes I literally cry with fear that it will all go away. The fact is, there is no pride in being scared, and there is no pride in being cynical. There is a difference between not finding someone and being too scared to give yourself to someone. I can have that beautiful, independent strength I found in my single life while in my relationship.