There are many types of single girls, who usually roughly fit into two groups – those desperately seeking a partnership, and those desperately avoiding them. I was both. Friday nights, with my little black dress and my credit card- I was the penultimate independent woman. I bought guys I fancied drinks at the bar. I knocked back whiskey neats and would take home whatever man looked like he’d be good in bed. I would also call him a cab afterwards.
I took myself on dates. I had wonderful meals at nice restaurants, I did the lame touristy things on my own. When I craved company I spent time with my incredible group of friends, when I craved sex I simply went online or went out, and got it. It was easy. I had all of my needs fulfilled, and I didn’t feel like I was lacking a damn thing.
But sometimes, something amazing would happen and I would have this sneaking, guilty feeling of – ‘it would be nice to share this with someone’ Even though my life was complete, I did sometimes feel like the last one on the dance floor. Most noticeably when all of my friends went home with their partners, and I was literally the last one on the dance floor… Sometimes, I wanted a partner in crime. I wanted to look beside me during the good times and have someone there, thoroughly enjoying life as much as I do. And sometimes, I just wanted someone whose desert I could eat half of without overstepping the lines of friendship.
And just like a bad Hollywood rom com, in swept a tall, dark and handsome stranger. He didn’t buy into my bullshit one little bit. He took me out for dinner on our first date, so rather than getting white girl wasted and having crazy drunk sex – we had a conversation. He intrigued me. I won’t lie, at first it was somewhat of a challenge – I wanted him naked and then I wanted to move on, like I always do. But somewhere along the way he got under my skin. Other guys paled in comparison. I looked forward to seeing him, and every time I did I wanted to see him again. Before long I was deleting my dating apps, and then reinstalling them – absolutely terrified and confused about what was happening. Now, 4 months in – here are the bits of advice I wish someone had told me.
1. You will feel like a hypocrite.
All those proud proclamations of ‘I don’t need anyone!’ will reverberate in your head. You will feel like you have let down the independent woman movement. You will have a sneaking suspicion that all of your romantically inclined friends will be quietly smiling to themselves and thinking ‘ah, she’s finally seen the light’. It’s true – pride can be a bitch. But who the hell said you have to be single to be independent or strong? Oprah Winfrey seems to be doing a pretty badass job of it, coupled and all.
2. And you will be terrified.
You will be scared absolutely shitless. Every time he does something adorable and you smile to yourself, and get that warm fuzzy feeling in your chest- it will be replaced almost instantly with the cold sense of dread. What the actual fuck. You remind yourself that this is just another fling – this is what you do, right? You don’t know the rules outside of the life you’ve been living. You don’t know what this means, you don’t speak this language. You feel inadequate because you feel so out of place. You never asked for this. Are you going to have to go through a breakup now? Does he want you to meet his parents? Do we have to talk about how many kids he wants? When do you use the ‘R’ word?? (Relationship, that is!) These thoughts almost had me hyperventilating into a paper bag at about date 4. I wish I had known to take a deep breath, calm the fuck down and remember that I am strong woman – whatever this guy and this situation could throw at me was nothing I can’t handle.
3. You will feel awkward.
For years, I was comfortable single. I owned that shit. I knew what to say, when to say it. I had played the role a million times and it always played out just like a well-rehearsed script. I knew what I wanted, I knew how to get it. Suddenly, dates with this gorgeous head fuck started to feel like the first day at a new job as a fighter pilot. What does he mean by ‘how was my day?’?? Why is he asking how many brothers and sisters I have? And why is he holding my hand? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it. I was excited, and I liked knowing that he cared about me beyond my presence between the sheets, but I just legitimately did not know how this worked. I didn’t know the social graces, I didn’t know what was appropriate. Hindsight tells me that he probably didn’t either, and I wish I had enjoyed those awkward, shy early days for what they were. After all, it was sort of nice to be out of my comfort zone.
4. You will convince yourself to walk away – about a billion times.
And then you will question your gut instincts. Humans are creatures of habit, and when something threatens your way of life you will instinctually resist change. You’ll hunt for faults, and you will blow things out of proportion. Then you’ll realise you are being crazy. Then you’ll think you are actually crazy. Then you’ll think that you are settling if you stay with someone whose ears are pointy or who has a bad singing voice. Then you will ask advice from friends, and then you will decide it’s all too hard and you will feel justified in re-downloading tinder. This period was deeply unsettling for me, someone who has always been completely logical and a quick decision maker. I swayed back and forth for a long time before finally deciding to just get out of my own way, and to see how things play out. It was the best decision I could have made.
5. You will feel like you are on a roller coaster- and it is so worth it.
From the uncertainty, the misplaced guilt, the fear and the awkwardness to the warm feeling you get when you see a text from him, and the butterflies you have when getting ready for a date. The first few months will be a mix of highs and lows. Looking back, the lows were mostly in my head – a reaction to an unknown situation that I was quickly losing control over. And I am still terrified, I am still awkward. I still sometimes think I should walk away and resume my life as it was. But then something great happens, and I turn to my side and he is there – laughing with me, holding my hand and making everything seem a million times better.
He doesn’t complete me. I was already complete. He isn’t my other half. But he adds another dimension to the tapestry of my incredible life. And who knew how much better sex would be when there’s actually a connection? To all the other single girls out there, trying to learn this new language – take a deep breath. The worst thing that can happen is that you resume your kick ass single life, and the best thing could be that you end up with something you may have never had before. Win-win right? Enjoy the roller coaster, ladies!