“So, when was your last relationship?” he asks. “Umm…” I respond, buying myself time. Despite the amount of times I’ve gotten this question, I’m still not 100 percent sure how to handle it.
This type of exchange has been going on since I was about 16-years-old, when I emerged from the depths of awkwardness and in-between growing pains as a full-fledged young adult. For nearly ten years, I’ve managed to dodge every one of these moments without having to utter the words, “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”
Let this be known as the first time I’m publicly uttering these words: I am 25-years-old, and I’ve never been in a relationship. That’s right – I’m an amateur in the romance department. To clarify, I’m not a virgin – I’ve been with a handful of guys, and have even dated a bit, but none have stuck to the point of receiving the coveted “boyfriend” title.
Now, to many people, this announcement might seem shocking, as if I could earn a Guinness World Record for going so long without a relationship. But I’m far from the only relationship virgin out there – it’s just that I’ve, unfortunately, never met another one.
So, what’s with us loners? Well, nothing, actually. Though everyone’s single sagas are different, mine isn’t too complicated. I simply haven’t found the right person to commit to, for both the short term nor the long term. Throughout high school, college, and beyond, I’ve always remained the level-headed one in my friend group when it came to relationships. I looked on from afar as my friends cried, fought, and got their hearts broken over guys who promised them the world. That wasn’t for me, I decided. So I waited, and waited, and waited some more. And now, here we are, at age 25, and I’m still waiting for a guy to pop my relationship cherry.
You might think I’m desperate or pining for a hardcore relationship, but I’m not. I spend my days focusing on my work and my own self – two important details that many often neglect in their mid-20s. Here’s what that looks like: Waking up at 7 A.M. (when my body permits), heading to the gym for a quick sweat sesh, treating myself to my favorite breakfast sandwich and coffee, doing my very best at work, heading to happy hour with friends, and finishing the day off by cuddling in bed with a book. It’s these little details, I presume, that are often forgotten when preoccupied with a relationship (which, of course, doesn’t mean that these things can’t happen with dating someone).
If nothing else, it’s always interesting to see people’s reactions to my confession. For some, it’s complete shock – they just cannot comprehend the idea. Others simply don’t believe me, which is a funny notion, but one not worth wasting time on. Regardless, there are times when my lack of boyfriend seems be a focal point not of my choosing.
I can recall countless instances of my parents awkwardly asking, “When are you going to date more?” or dropping hints at wanting grandchildren (which, of course, can’t happen in their traditional eyes until I first get a boyfriend and get married). Some of my closest family and friends are those folk who aren’t comfortable with the fact that a 25-year-old can consistently have SINGLE written under the “RELATIONSHIPS” tab. Not surprisingly, they’re the ones who are married, engaged, or plan on being married or engaged by the age of 27.
As for the reactions of guys? They vary. I can recall a few instances in particular when I shared the news with guys I’ve casually dated. These, for one reason or another, sting harder. Some took it better than others, but in general, the post-confession vibe was that I’m an alien, a freak, or both and I just haven’t revealed my true self yet. Score! One stuck more than others: I was forced to tell a guy I was seeing that I was nervous to get into a serious relationship with him, mostly because I’d never been in one. When I finally spilled the beans, the dude looked like he saw a ghost, and he asked quite a few embarrassing, intrusive questions regarding commitment issues that I wasn’t exactly ready to open up about. “How?” was how he started it off. “But, you’ve dated before, right?” he inquired, hoping that at least had something of substance in my past history.
Ultimately, he got past it – mostly, I think, because of his strong feelings for me. But at the time, I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had never heard from him again. We no longer speak, and though unrelated to this issue, I still think my relationship-less past posed as a threat to him.
Through the ups and downs, back and forths, I have made my progress in terms of accepting the fate set for me. This didn’t happen by way of any big revelation or anything like that. Instead, it was simply a matter of taking it day by day, focusing on other things, and keeping busy. Of course, I feel much different now than I did at the age of 18 or 20. I’ve learned to greet my single-ness with open arms, embrace it, and make it an integral part of who I am. I’ve learned how to shut out the outside voices telling you that a committed relationship is the only option, and singledom is horrific. Sure, there are moments when I’m embarrassed of it (at a wedding, perhaps, when a slow song comes on) but just like anything else, it passes – and without anyone getting hurt, too.
Despite being unapologetic of my past, I do eventually want to find someone – if and only if all the stars align. I would not want it to happen simply for the fact of being able to say that I “finally” have a boyfriend. This would only hurt, and ultimately lead to a life of settling. Being open to the possibility of a full-blown, real relationship is scary, though. I often find myself approaching the cusp of something new – I like him, and he likes me – and yet, I hold back, fearing that a relationship is so foreign that I won’t be able to handle it, won’t know what to say, what to do, or will simply miss my “me” time. But if I were to listen to my grandma’s most pertinent advice (which I sometimes do, if I’m smart enough) it would be this: You never know unless you try, and it’s never so bad that it can’t be fixed with red lipstick.
Are you also perpetually single? If so, share your own story in the comments!