I Can See

Aug 10, 2015 by

“But everybody knows that a broken heart is blind.”

Little Black Submarines, The Black Keys


          “How long were you with the girlfriend you had before the girl you’re seeing now?” I asked one of my coworkers three Saturday nights ago, during a weekend trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake courtesy of our employer.

          “A year,” he told me. “Why?”

          I’m just relationship nosey, I thought to myself.

          “Just wondering,” I answered.

          “How about you? How long were you with the guy before the – before your current situation?” he politely worded around my just-got-over-someone thing.

          “There was no guy,” I told him. “I’ve never had a boyfriend.”

          “What? No. I reject that,” he said, making me laugh. “Just so you know.”

          I’ve since thought about his reaction to my lifelong single status and my response to him: “I get that a lot.”

          I get that a lot.

          People are surprised to find out that I’ve always been single; but because all I know is single life, I’m surprised to find that people expect a relationship history of me. To be honest, until very recently, I believed that I couldn’t get a boyfriend, which is funny considering how confident I am that I’m girlfriend material. I caught notice of this in July. I was driving somewhere, and all of a sudden I had one of those epiphany moments: Holy shit, I realized, I think I can’t get a boyfriend. This mentality has got to fucking go, I immediately thought next.

          Believing I can’t get a boyfriend only makes that belief real, as it subconsciously has for years. I’m not going to save face and say I’ve been single all this time because I’ve wanted to be or I’ve been “focusing on my career” (though working too much in my early twenties was certainly a contributing factor to why I was both single and without a social life at that point) or some other excuse that singles-wanting-relationships give. I’ve wanted a boyfriend since I was a teenager, but it didn’t happen that way.

          I’m glad it didn’t happen that way. I was in no shape to be in a relationship in my teens or early twenties. I wasn’t happy, and I believe you need to enter a relationship knowing how to make yourself happy in order for that relationship to be a healthy one. At 23, once I started to make myself happy, I was still better off single. I had a lot to learn about happiness, the most important lesson being that my happiness comes from me. As badly as I wanted a boyfriend, I’m retrospectively grateful that I didn’t have one. Had I been in a relationship, I might have attributed my newfound happiness to another person instead of to myself.

          All of that aside, I’ve spent my mid-twenties up until last month set on one guy, causing me to appear uninterested in a relationship to everybody else. This came to my attention last summer, while out with a guy I was kind of seeing, who said to me, “I’m not looking for anything too serious. I don’t think you are either.” At the time, I thought that was a strange assessment for him to make of me, because I absolutely did want a relationship. I would quickly realize that I seemed uninterested in a relationship because I was – with him and with any other guy who wasn’t the one I wanted. Not only did this impact how guys perceived me, it impacted how I perceived the dating pool: empty of all but one extremely confusing fish.

          Lately, however, I’ve begun to see that the pool is populous. I was oblivious to its other occupants before; but now that I’m no longer fixated on being rejected by that one guy, suddenly I’m aware that other guys exist. That sounds simple because it is. It’s a basic change in perspective. Being single without feelings for anyone makes the world look completely different than it did while I was single and so into someone that I couldn’t see. I’m more productive. I’m more present. I’m less desperate. I was desperate. I admit it. Let me say it again: I was desperate. I limited my dating options to one person, and that one person wasn’t interested in me. Of course I was desperate. I felt hopeless. I don’t feel that way anymore, which makes that I-can’t-get-a-boyfriend mentality seem just as ridiculous as that there’s-only-one-fish-in-the-sea mentality. There are options. I can see them now.

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