Slouched in my pyjamas, displaying posture any grandmother would be mortified with; hair untied revealing a kinked, messy mane; one hand mindlessly shovelling popcorn into the centre of my face while the other swipes left or right based on a snap judgement I didn’t consciously make. Each face fading into the abyss just like the popcorn as it hits the acid in my stomach. I don’t feel any emotion, not from the potential suitors nor the food, just numbness. My nightly routine, more out of habit than true desire.
It’s hard to explain but if you have ever found yourself on a dating app, you’ll understand this pattern and how it can so easily consume your life. As I have mentioned (and continue to mention) I’m single. A title I’m reluctant to give up yet resent at the same time. It’s a strange battle, to be at war with your relationship status. As silly as it sounds, I think we let our relationship status define our stage in life. Like climbing onboard the property ladder, once you’ve got a house (or spouse…or anyone), you’re on that road to success. Being singles is almost like renting. It’s not necessarily shameful, nor does it mean you’ve failed at life however, the older you get, the less desirable it becomes and the more you want to hop on to that ladder. Now, people jump on to the property market at different ages, different times in their lives and for all kinds of reasons. Some find their forever home straight away. Some put in offers but constantly get rejected, Some decide to upgrade mid-mortgage. Some people are happy renting with limited commitments and some decide to have one home in England and another in Spain.
I hope you’ve realised by now that we aren’t talking about actual houses here. In terms of the dating game, I find myself strong and independent one minute then lonely and longing for someone to cuddle, the next. It’s a type of emptiness that can only be filled with love and admiration for another being and while I scan and flick and swipe these other lonely souls one way or the other, nothing quite fits. I hold back. Frankly, it’s turned into an irrational fear. While that emptiness can feel so very overwhelming, like a tsunami engulfing every fibre of my body, weighing down and coating it in thick sludge, it’s not worth losing what I’ve created. What I’ve discovered about myself.
I’ve come to see partners as anchors and I don’t like being weighted. I’m a free spirit and I have fought for that all my life. Beyond the relationships and back to my childhood, my freedom, my existence had always been taken for granted. Stolen from me and held at ransom by some man I was supposed to call “Dad”. Giving into love now, it feels like a long war has been surrendered mid-battle and the confused soldiers are wandering around aimlessly.
With the hours I work, it’s hard for me to socialise. 12 hour shifts, several times a week. Mix in a couple of night shifts in-between and you have no really hope of planning anything. By the end of the day, my feet are so swollen and sore that all I really want to do is bury my head into a good book or seek inspiration for another blog post. Going out is the absolute last thing on my mind. So, naturally, I tried online dating (again). I go through phases; every six months or so, I reactive all my accounts, scroll through the mismatched head shots, finding faults with every single one of them. I do this because deep down, I don’t want to meet someone online again. It takes the thrill of the chase away. The whole harmless flirting as you try to workout if, A) this person is single and B) if this person actually likes you. Plus… it’s an anchor. To fall in love in Norfolk would be my ball and chain, keeping me here for the rest of my life and I can’t accept that. Not yet, at least.
A perk of online dating is the attention. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not one of these girls who cakes their face in make-up. I’m not a drinker or partially adventurous. I do what makes me happy and that’s exactly what I say on my profiles. I make it clear that I don’t need ‘saving’ (it comes across a little stand-offish in all honesty. It’s my form of defence.) As it turns out, my attitude seems to be a turn on and my inbox is never empty. A collection of “Hey” litter my screen with very little substance. Every so often there will be a message that breaks the mould. There’s always the chap that feels the need to write three paragraphs, explaining why they are single, their hobbies, how many pets they have and their mother maiden name. Usually finished off with a simple “If you fancy a chat…”
Of course, there are also the seedy messages. The people who are only here for hook ups. To relieve some tension… I will never be a strangers relief. In the summer 2019, during a lonely phase, I received a message. Something I’d never received before. It read:
“Hey, You look stunning. Now this may sound weird but please hear me out. I have a fantasy to be treated like an inanimate object. Like a table or a chair. Does this is something you’d like to explore with me?”
Well… You’ve got to admire the honesty. It’s certainly isn’t a request I’ve had before. It’s definitely intriguing but the logistics of it do confuse me. I have visions of introducing this guy to my family and before I have chance to say his name, he’s already laying on my mum’s floor pretending to be the rug (I should have made a doormat joke… either way, I’d no doubt walk all over him. Your welcome). I didn’t reply. He had been bold, honest. We all have our things but this was just a tad too strange for me to get on board with. Unfortunately I don’t find inanimate objects sexy.
I’m back in my “I don’t need no man” phase. A new sense of purpose and goals that would be easier to achieve on my own for now. There are some things you can only get from being in a relationship and these things are amazing and something I think every human craves at some point in their life but there are somethings in life that you need to do on your own, without distractions, to grow and better yourself. Finding the balance takes time and everyone is on a different road. This isn’t how I expected my life to be but I am not sad about that. Nobody is responsible for my happiness but me and when I find a way to maintain my happiness on my own, then I’ll notice the right person regardless of their flaws. I look forward to that day while enjoying my journey.