I should’ve known this was going to be a shit week. On Friday night, I left the office and promptly burst into tears because I’d missed a deadline and let the designer down (in my defence, the designer is *hot*). Then, I went to M&S and bought steak, which was the only thing I wanted for dinner – something which only happens when my body is screaming for iron. I got home and my period had started. Obviously.
I was talking to a friend the other day about New Year’s Resolutions. Her theory was that you should save them for Spring, because the desire for change is greater when the weather’s warmer and the whole world feels like it’s renewing itself. It’s not a bad theory, but I’m even more in favour of an even gentler approach: that we put too much pressure on ourselves generally and resolutions should be avoided at all times. Life is pretty damn hard: be kind to yourself.
With that conversation in mind, as well as this blog post which I wrote a few weeks back, I spoke to another friend. I told her that my plan is (eventually!) to stop focusing on my short term pleasure/happiness, and instead to dedicate myself to the long game. She assumed, unsurprisingly, that by ‘the long game’ I meant finding a guy to settle down and have children with. I didn’t, actually, or at least, not entirely, I more meant that I want to find a calmer, more steady sense of contentment than the one I have now. Quite a few people have commented on my post about babies, saying that yes, it probably is best to call it quits on friends-with-benefits type relationships, and work harder at finding something more meaningful if that’s what I want in the long term. I agree, with the first part, at least, and so 2014 will be the year I stop sleeping with the boy. Honest.
‘Great,’ she said, ‘I’m sure you’ll meet someone fantastic, there are loads of great guys online.’
‘I’m going to stop internet dating, too.’
There was a pause. A long pause. Then she said ‘Well, I can understand why you’d want a break, but I’m sure you’ll feel more like it if you have a month off.’
‘No,’ I said, ‘I mean it. I hate it, and I’m not doing it any more.’
We went back and forth like this for a while – her trying to persuade me that I’d feel better about it after some time off; me increasingly pissed off that she just didn’t seem to get what I was saying. Sure, OKCupid and Tinder can be fun; and can be flattering, but they also exhaust me and play havoc with my already fragile mental health.
Earlier this year, I had a few weeks of back and forth flirting with a guy on OKCupid. The conversation repeatedly came back to his desire that we should meet for drinks, and then get a hotel room and fuck each other senseless. The bit that made me wary was that we couldn’t just go back to his. When I mentioned it to a friend, she said ‘He’s married.’ And so I asked him outright. And sure enough, yes, he was. His wife though, apparently, was ‘fine with it,’ so I went along with it too, enjoying the flirting and the potential for some dirty, no-strings sex like I used to have. I was nervous, sure, but I had no intention of backing out. He, however, did – the night before we were supposed to meet.
That was my last serious interaction with anyone on the site. I still have an active profile, still reply to the odd message, but not really with the intention of it going anywhere – I genuinely hate the emotional ups and downs, as well as just how hard you have to work at the communication, all, it seems, with very little return.
So, I plan to start 2014 by deleting both my OKCupid and Tinder profiles. Meeting someone is important to me, but feeling calm and emotionally stable is so much more so. I have much more to say about this blog post by Juniper, but suffice to say for the moment that the first few months of this year will be given over to rediscovering the state of solo contentment that she describes so beautifully. Maybe, eventually, I’ll rejoin one of what I consider to be the more serious dating sites – match.com or the like, but for now, I’m giving myself a break from boys.
One of my best friends turned 30 today – the first in my uni friendship group to do so. I’m in the slightly strange position of being young for my school year, but old for my uni year because I took a gap year, which means that roughly half of my friends will be turning 30 before I do, while the others still have a year to go.
Let’s get one thing clear: I’m far from having a breakdown at the idea of turning 30. Casual sex aside, I’m really not a massive fan of a lot of things you’re supposed to spend your late teens and twenties doing – clubbing, getting blind drunk, travelling the world – so I’m quite happy to, shhh, whisper it, ‘settle down.’
Quite happy, that is, apart from one thing – I want to be a mum, and I’m worried that the things that need to fall into place for that to happen won’t fall into place until it’s too late. And when I say ‘want to be a mum,’ I don’t say it lightly – I’m the girl at dinner parties cuddling the babies of mere acquaintances, the one who inevitably doesn’t get to eat dessert because my hands are taken up cradling someone else’s kid who’s fallen asleep on my shoulder. I’ve wanted it for as long as I can remember and I don’t see that feeling going away any time soon.
Society’s views on women like me aren’t often very helpful either – I know I shouldn’t let the Mail rile me, but god I was fucked off when Liz Jones wrote this piece. You might steal men’s sperm as payment for microwaving the odd ready-meal, love, but don’t you dare imply that it’s something the rest of us would do. I think a woman in her early 30s should be able to be open with a man about wanting to have a child without the man automatically assuming that that means that she wants to have one with him, and feeling accordingly threatened because that’s not something he’s interested in.
That, plus the fact that I can’t quite get my head around how I will meet, fall in love with and build a sufficiently strong relationship with a guy before the mental cut-off point that I’ve established by which I need to make this a reality (35, if you must know), means that my usual, defensive position is: ‘I don’t need a man in my life to have a baby, I’ll have one by myself.’ That line though, I’m increasingly realising, is just self-preservation – it’s my way of persuading myself, and other people, that I’m in control and have a game plan, even though the reality is, yeah, not so much.
More and more I’m realising that, while I would still have a baby on my own, I’d rather have one with a guy who I love and who I’m in a relationship with. The question is: if I know that that’s something I want from my life, should I give up the relationships happening in my life now that clearly aren’t leading to that in order to dedicate myself more fully to what I want in the long term, or should I stick with what’s working in the short term and assume that the bigger picture will sort itself given time?
I meant to start November by writing about NaNoWriMo (or writing for NaNoWriMo, at least), but instead I’ve decided to write about something I watched over three weeks ago, which bothered me at the time and which has continued to bother me more and more as the weeks have passed. That thing is Channel 4’s documentary Diary of a Teen Virgin.