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On not having a boyfriend

Hands up who’s been with family over Christmas? And hands up who’s had to have the obligatory conversation with relatives about why you’re still single? Well, If I weren’t typing I’d be waving my hands frantically in the air, then using them to smash things in frustration about people’s unnecessary interference in my life.

Why does anyone think it is OK to ask me when I’m going to get a boyfriend? If you confide in someone that you’re lonely and they offer you dating advice, they’re responding to a specific request. But it’s a hell of a leap to assume that you can quiz your single friends/family members on their relationship status, and then hint to them that they should be working harder to ensure that they’re soon safely ensconced in a loving couple which, by the way, should really get on and pop out some babies soon.

I’m single because I like it

I think I might get this printed on a t-shirt that I can wear to the next family gathering so that I don’t need to waste my breath saying it over and over again.

Being single is brilliant. I can see people I like, avoid people I don’t, fill my diary with dinners and dates and drinking. If I’m in the pub and having a bad time I can go home, safe in the knowledge that I haven’t “thrown a strop” and dragged a partner home with me. If I’m bored of an evening, I can flip through my black book and see who wants to come over.

I can love people, fuck people, get drunk and be sick in the gutter and moan with hungover shame in a pile on the sofa the next day – and none of this will be of significance to anyone other than me.

Don’t assume that ‘alone’ means ‘lonely’

The question ‘when are you going to get a boyfriend?’ rests on the gargantuan assumption that the life I lead is incomplete. I think some family members imagine that I sit at home every night crying into a romance novel, lamenting the gaping, boyfriend-shaped hole in my lonely, miserable heart. I say “I don’t want a boyfriend.” They hear “I can’t get a boyfriend.”

This implies that no one in the history of the world has ever or could ever make an active choice to be alone, because being alone is a Bad Thing.

But of course, those of us who are alone know that it’s not. Being alone is a joyful, wonderful thing. We get to go out when we like, stay in when we like, spend time doing crap DIY, writing blogs or committing ourselves to whimsical projects. We get to drink all the gin in the cupboard, eat whatever food we’ve scraped from the back of the fridge, and then have a victorious wank right in the middle of the lounge.

My biological clock is of no importance

At 27 years old I am now officially ‘pushing 30’, which apparently means that I should be clawing my way into the heart of any available gentleman in the desperate hope that he fertilises my rapidly-dwindling stash of eggs so I can spit out a child or two to give my parents something to coo over.

This isn’t going to happen. Perhaps, years into the future, I’ll change my mind. But for now, the thought of getting pregnant brings me out in a cold, terrified sweat and makes me want to hug close to me all the things I love – my independence, my freedom, my time alone, my beautiful flat with all the things in it that aren’t covered in sick and dribble, and – perhaps most of all – my goddamn money.

I don’t care if time’s running out. Time’s also running out for me to retrain as a barrister or shag John McCririck. I’m not going to rush to do either of these things – they are undesirable things to do, and they aren’t going to become any more desirable just because there’s a limited time in which to do them.

Love hurts

My final and perhaps most important reason for staying single: love hurts. A relationship is the all-or-nothing option. You give everything you have to someone who has the power to destroy the lot on a whim.

If you’re in a relationship, then I’m impressed. You’re willing to lay your heart out on the chopping-block of their affections and trust them not to pound it into a miserable, bloody slab of pain.

At least when I’m single I know that my misery is my own. If I’m wretched it’s because I’ve made myself so, and I’m probably in a reasonable position to fix whatever’s wrong. But in a relationship it’s possible for someone else to make a decision that brings your whole world crashing down around you.

When I wake up in the morning I feel safe knowing that the only person with the power to destroy me is me.


  • Jon says:

    Quite. (I especially liked, ‘to lay your heart out on the chopping-block of their affections’.)

  • SNT says:

    Thanks for reminding me at a time when I was about to go into a grump about being on my own. Think I’ll listen to some shitty music and watch Twilight and/or Harry Potter for the millionth time with no one to complain about it.

    • girlonthenet says:

      An excellent choice. May I also recommend ‘loudly caterwauling showtunes whilst drunkenly burning food in the kitchen’? That’s one of my favourite alone-time activities.

  • MrSmith says:

    It’s easy to get sucked into that alone=lonely trap. This is an excellent post and a timely reminder – thanks.

  • Kate says:

    This is glorious. I actually want a partner but I only want a partner who’s kind, generous and lets me do my own thing. Being single is infinitely better than being with someone who’s not good for me, and it’s better for many people just in general. Bravo.

  • Golden_delight1980 says:

    Yawn, doth protest too much me thinks.

  • TheComedian says:

    My return to my family home over the festive period brought up similar issues, as it has done many times in the past.
    It doesn’t help that it’s always at this time when my singledom feels most like a flaw, as I long for the social buffer-zone that my ex-wife used to provide.
    This was largely because whilst she was speaking to my parents I didn’t have to, so could coast by in a socially acceptable mute daze. But mostly it was because the simple fact that I was married served as an unshakeable stamp of life achievement.
    They didn’t have to worry about justifying my dodgy career choices over dinner with the Davidsons, because that document we signed to circumnavigate visa restrictions meant I was a proper person.
    When I told them of the split, one of my mother’s first responses was, “but… what will we tell people?”

    I wish I could have given them the link to this post to have passed on to the Davidsons.

    • girlonthenet says:

      See, I reckon you’ve got a rock-solid ‘get out of marriage chat free’ card here. Upon being quizzed about it, you can always tell them that you’ve done it already, so it’s someone else’s turn. Then look pointedly at the nearest relative, and give a cheeky wink.

  • Russ says:

    I don’t think that single males get this question as often as single females. I’m I chap and I don’t get this question often. Sometimes, but not often.

  • The underlying bout of humour in this post is a welcomed distraction from the otherwise interpretation that this post has been written by somebody who has had their heart broken in the past. I don’t care. I’m single too, but a guy. I’ve had bad experiences in the past but have been single for over a year now. Like you I enjoy the freedom but am open that I will hopefully meet somebody of significance in the future. Those who desperately want relationships are easy to pick out in a crowd, it is such an “off putter”. I’ll just enjoy my life and see what happens.

    On another note I love your writing style and will subscribe to this blog.

    • girlonthenet says:

      “this post has been written by somebody who has had their heart broken in the past.”

      But of course – who hasn’t? =)

      Glad you like it. And I think your plan to enjoy life and see what happens is definitely something I’d endorse.

  • @SingleEve says:

    Brilliant blog. In a slightly different position with my family, most think as I’m a single parent I’ve had my chance and I’ll likely die alone because no one would ever take me and 2 children on right?

    After years of entrapment in an unhappy relationship I am revelling in being single, and having no one to answer to. I don’t need a man to complete me but maybe as an added bonus at some point.

  • Chaz says:

    I could have written this blog myself, even though I’m *coughs* years older than you. The only difference being, nobody ever quizzed me as to when I’d get a boyfriend, as it was understood that I wasn’t the sort of girl who had boyfriends.

    The whole “married with kids” thing has never been in my life plan and I’m far too old to consider parenthood at this late stage. Marriage is equally unlikely, as the thought of sharing my living space with anyone else fills me with horror!

    I like being single. I do get lonely from time to time, but I don’t instantly think, “Oh! I must get a boyfriend so I don’t feel lonely.” No, I think, “I need to get out and do stuff instead of sitting in the house chatting on Twitter or watching TV every night.”

    I date occasionally. I don’t have a little black book full of numbers I can dial for a booty call, but sometimes I like to have male company, so I’ll go looking for it. But that doesn’t mean I want it in my life 24/7. I don’t “do” relationships. I’ve never had a long-term relationship and I really don’t want one. This is a choice, not something I’ve resigned myself to. We’re not all cut out for coupledom and those who think these are empty words clearly aren’t comfortable with singledom. Each to their own, I say.

  • Alisha says:

    Absolutely love this post, I definately agree with all the points you mentioned especially the last one even if it is a bit of a cynical way of looking at things. Even so it sums up what I was thinking but never put into words so nice work :)

    I think a lot of people who are desperately seeking a relationship do so because they’re unhappy with their lives as they are and think a relationship will change that. It’s better to make the effort to improve your life on your own and be happy as a single person, then if you do get into a relationship it’ll be because you found someone you liked rather than to fill a void in your life. Also that way if things don’t work out you can move on a lot more easily and after some time go back to being happily single rather than spending forever wallowing in heartbreak.

  • anonymouse says:

    feeling this post so goddamn hard. i mean, sure, i’m head over heels for someone right now but it would be such a goddamn bad idea to stop being single. plus i was just crying! earlier! over the memories of awful relationships in the past (yeah, they cut me pretty deep). love! fucking! hurts! and it still does. so i may be miserable now, but at least the other person hasn’t actively done anything to make me miserable. which is 10 on the awesome scale.

    (confession: i share your tastes for the occasional wank in the lounge. with the curtains half open.)

  • Bella says:

    Sometimes I feel like at least this question means they believe I at least could get a boyfriend, considering the holidays just serve to remind me how much no-one fancies me… I guess that’s an optimistic way to look at it.

  • Kelly says:

    I can’t help but feel that you just haven’t met the right one yet. If you had…you wouldn’t feel that way at all. I remember thinking at one time that I would never be stupid enough to fall in love…but it happened and, for the record, it’s worth every second of my heart being on the chopping block! Just find a decent guy that you can trust (don’t be cynical enough to believe they don’t exist!)!

  • Kelly says:

    I feel I must add…at the same time I completely respect the fact that you are happy to be alone. I think until people are able to be happy alone, they are in no way ready for a relationship. No-one should never enter a relationship because of what other people expect of them.

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