Updated: Jun 2, 2020
Ever since I can remember, I’ve felt the pressure to be in a relationship. Growing up, Disney taught us boys and girls that the men and women we were watching lived happily ever after because they found ‘true love’ and that our life ambition should be to find ‘the one’. Think about it; Aladdin ends up with Jasmine, Belle ends up with the Beast and Cinderella ends up with Prince Charming. Do I really need to keep going or have I made my point? You’ll soon understand why I think Brave is the best Disney princess, but that’s an argument for another day.
As we get older, it doesn’t get much better. Hollywood is still ramming rom coms down our throats every 5 seconds (yet to be chatted up by Ryan Gosling in a bar, may I add), Love Island is adapting their show for audiences across the world and our Facebook newsfeeds are always filled with some sort of celebrity dating gossip. Sometimes, I think we need a time out.
The whole ‘are you in a relationship’ question is a conversation I honestly dread. When I know it’s coming, I am internally screaming at the top of my lungs for them not to ask in the hope some telepathic message will get through in time. Sadly, it never does. And, more often than not, the conversation always follows a similar format; people pose the question, I tell them the answer, and a sympathetic look soon sweeps over their face. It’s not the coronavirus, huns, I will live. I’ve even had a few occasions where people have suggested I try dating women, as if people become lesbians because there isn’t a man that wants them. Not only is that incredibly offensive to lesbians who, like all of us, haven’t chosen their sexuality, but it’s just a bloody ridiculous comment really. Let’s try and engage our brains before we open our mouths, shall we?
People often forget that being single can actually be a choice. Personally, I think it’s bloody wonderful that unlike 200 years ago, I have the right to be single for as long as I want to be. Some of us know what we are looking for and simply refuse to budge until we find it. Yes, I'm branded 'fussy' but I can't fake how I feel and I'm definitely FAR too young to settle.
One thing I have recently realised I am very good at when it comes to this whole dating and feelings malarkey is that I’m very quick to forget about the dates I’ve been on where I’ve been the uninterested party. The inner saboteur in me instantly focuses on the dates where someone wasn’t interested in me, so much so that I forget that people haven’t fit what I'm looking for either. Oh how the mind plays tricks on us, hey?
My last relationship was five years ago. That’s right, a whole five years. In that space of time, we’ve had three Prime ministers, two royal weddings, two Dr Whos and 765 votes on a Brexit deal. So, in summary, it’s been a while and a lot has happened between now and then, both in my personal life and on the global stage. I’ve had many weird and wonderful dates (more weird than wonderful though, I have to admit) and downloaded and deleted Tinder, Hinge and Bumble more times than I even care to count. Not the definition of success, I’m sure we can agree.
One thing that has really triumphed over the last five years, however, is my self hatred as a result of being ashamed to admit I’m single, even at times when I haven’t wanted a relationship. I’ve really punished myself for not ‘being enough for anyone’, blaming myself every single time something didn’t work out. I’d feel guilty that my mum had to tell people I was single, still, as if she’d brought up an unloveable child and was somehow to blame. I felt like I was letting her and the rest of the family down. I’d sit with friends and hear them all chatting about their relationships, feeling completely useless because I couldn’t relate or contribute to the conversation because no one had felt that way about me in years. I’d hide the fact I was going on a date or was speaking to someone because I knew they’d soon realise they could do better and I couldn’t bring myself to have the same conversation with those closest to me about how, yet again, there was something wrong with me. You can see how this way of thinking takes its toll on your self esteem.
It’s really hard not to feel the pressure to be in a relationship when you’re surrounded by SO many happy couples. They are literally EVERYWHERE in my life. Of course, I’m really happy for my friends and family, but it does make you feel like a total failure when you’re the ONLY single one in nearly every group. Third wheeling is bad enough but, as I experience when my family congregate, thirteenth (that’s right, THIRTEENTH) wheeling really is a joke. I've felt so embarrassed at times that I've tried to convince myself on numerous occasions that I liked people who now, I realise, I didn't just to balance out the table numbers. Now I realise I don't need someone to share a naan and a portion of rice with at the curry house. I'm a strong independent woman who will demolish her own portion of rice and peshwari naan without help from no man. My lord Beyonce would be proud. This is what her, Kelly and Michelle were so obviously singing about in Independent Women.
I've always wanted to be more self confident and be my own cheerleader. Now I realise I’m never going to possess the levels of self confidence I want if I keep bad mouthing myself every day for being single. So, things have got to change.
The fact is, I’m a decent human being and I have all the qualities people often say they’re looking for in a good partner. I know that sounds arrogant but it’s simply a fact; I’m loyal, I’m honest, I’m empathetic, I’m trustworthy and, so I’m told, my company is not half bad. In fact, I can even sometimes be funny when I put my mind to it. If that’s not good enough for someone, then so be it. I’ve never settled for anything in my life and I don’t intend to start today just to change my relationship status on Facebook. Those who know me and matter know I have much more to offer than simply being a girlfriend to someone and those are the opinions that truly matter.
I don’t want to seem as though I’m hating on love. I’ve been lucky enough to experience it in all its intensity and think it is one of the most incredible feelings we can experience as human beings. But, searching for that feeling just isn’t a priority for me right now and I shouldn't feel embarrassed or awkward saying that. Getting through the newest season of Sex Education, however, mostly certainly is a priority right now and it should be yours too - TRUST ME.