I recently had a relationship end, again. Somehow I’m still not used to it. As I pendulum between the self-righteous (I deserve better) and the self-pitying (I thought he was my best friend), a question arises over and over that I can’t evaluate the relevancy of: Why not me? Why my friends, and not me, why choose some other girl, and not me, what is wrong, with me. Why am I alone?
The answer, of course, depends on who you ask. Most people have nothing to tell me (You just haven’t found the right person). “Relationship experts” offer conflicting advice ranging from the philosophic (Make adventure happen) to the absurd (Send Facebook messages to guys you crushed on in high school!). The truth is, they don’t know when or if or why it will happen. I have a decent amount of self-awareness, but the truth is, I don’t know why I am still single. I don’t know what I am doing so differently than my friends who have a permanent date to dinner parties, a New Year’s kiss, a life partner—while I cycle through another round of Tinder, or “take time for myself,” or pretend being alone is OK. It is getting hard to believe I’m not worthless or defective.
I am not giving up.
I will text the same basic information combined with witty jokes over and over to people I haven’t met and who bore me to varying degrees. I will exchange multitudes of messages with people who are amusing and know within five seconds of meeting them that I am not interested. I will go on other mediocre dates and have a fine time but feel nothing. I will go through mini-breakups and send the awkward “I’m not interested” text, several times a month. It’s entire relationships condensed into weeks, days.
I will change tactics. I will subscribe to the “fuck yes or no” theory that I should be enthusiastic about a date or it’s not worth it. I will wonder if this is too picky, if instant feelings are conducive to long-term compatibility, if I am judging too harshly. I will hope maybe someone will be more interesting in person (sometimes this is true, but usually not). I will wonder which of my values I should be flexible about. Are guns really so bad? Religion? Drugs?
I have now concocted a first-date persona: agreeable bars, flattering outfits to wear, a collection of stories to pull from. It is me, but it has been me so many times and I feel it is fading with each presentation. I long for someone to wake me from the haze.
I will get tired of presentations. I will delete the app.
I will think back to the man that I loved. It was so easy with him, until it wasn’t. The unfairness of memory is such that I can only remember the good things right now—the way we stayed up all night talking and giggling like a high school sleepover, the nervous way he told me he loved me first—as opposed the equally true and more recent reasons we broke up. It is hard to go from one person who loves you to a bunch of people who don’t give a shit. I will search for that accumulated comfort in someone else, obviously unable to find it.
I am not giving up.
I have been sure. I was SO sure. Everything faltered when the person I was certain about proved me wrong. But this is not new, and it has gotten easier to function through my heart straining against its new, smaller, confines. I have learned it can grow again.
Each time I think, no, I can’t love like this again. Statistically, it is not possible for me to find this joy in another place. It is true—each experience of love is unique and cannot be replicated. But there is hope in that.
Perhaps there is another kind of love I will find. I keep trying, hoping someone will teach me to love in this new way, the better way, the permanent way. I will grieve, I will cry, I will be devastated for the love that no longer is with me. But I will keep trying.
I don’t know what else to do. I have taken time for myself, I have had adventures abroad, I have learned from my mistakes. Finding a relationship is hard. Keeping a relationship is hard. Uncertainty is unpleasant. Not knowing when or how or if. And so I suffer.
But I believe love is out there. In its many, multifaceted forms, it exists, and there is only one way to find it. I have to keep going.
I am not giving up.
I am trying so hard not to give up.