I’ve been single my entire life. Like the majority of us, I had a fictional relationship with One Direction for a few years (don’t kid yourself, you did, too) and that relationship was perfect. There were five of them, and I could switch out one boy for another whenever I wanted, making myself the Carrie Bradshaw of 13-year-olds. But like all relationships, you either make a life-long commitment, or you break things off (or I guess, in this case, Zayn leaves the band and you eventually move on and tell the British boy band “it’s not you, it’s me”). Well, five years later and I’m over my breakup with the boy-band, but I’ve had no dating experience, no prospective romances, and no tragic heartbreaks.
The other night, in one of the typical college roommate heart to heart sessions, my friends were talking about their previous relationships, their loves, their problems, and their “ones who got away.” I paused my three-hour Netflix session and decided to join the conversation, knowing I couldn’t offer any advice or contribute in any way like a freshman in an all upperclassmen philosophy class. But regardless, I felt like I owed it to my friends to listen to them. I couldn’t bring up my love affair with the British pop boy band, but I could try to empathize with their struggles.
Then something strange happened. I almost didn’t want to help.
In the past, I would try to meddle in my friends’ relationships and offer any help or amount of ice-cream I could. It was in that moment that I realized—at some point in my life—I became a bitter and nihilistic opposer of romance and relationships. Instead of trying to help my friends and support their relationships, I opted for saying “just drop him/them, sis” whenever even the slightest problem would occur. When did this happen? When did I decide I didn’t believe in the romantic implication of love? Was I just envious because I had never experienced that?
I asked my friends who are in relationships about how they met their significant others, and 7/10 said Tinder. Are people not falling in love with strangers anymore? I’ve never had a boyfriend, so how did romance work in a world without Tinder. It started to occur to me that all my preconceived notions of romance were set off of movies and T.V. shows, but the worst part of all of it is that I don’t even watch romance movies. I’ve never seen The Notebook, I just recently watched Titanic, and the closest thing I’ve ever watched to a romance show is Jane The Virgin (*spoiler alert*), a show about a girl whose husband dies and she gets artificially inseminated with a millionaire’s sperm). I watch The Office, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, That 70’s Show, and the occasional John Mulaney comedy special. These shows aren’t about love, yet they have epic romances. Jim and Pam, Kelso and Jackie, and Michael and Holly were my only markers of romance. So where did I get this idea that I deserved some cute rom-com plot where I meet an architect on the Q train after all the items fall out of my bag and he’s the only person in New York who would stop to help a stranger in distress?
I began to think back on the 7/10 who met their partners off Tinder, the other two came to college with partners, and only the last one said that they met in the cafeteria (when they both were in line for fries). Okay, so what I’ve collected from that is that I have a 1/10 chance of finding love without using dating apps and that I need to stand in line for fries way more often. It’s not that I’m against finding someone on Tinder, it’s that I’m way too insecure to ever meet up with anyone from Tinder. My nightmare scenario and what I honestly expect to happen is that I meet someone in the park, they take one look at me, and they run away. No, obviously this doesn’t happen, and people are typically not that brutal, but don’t I deserve to have just one shot at a meet-cute?
Are dating apps really the only way to find a partner in New York, or am I just doing it all wrong? Worse yet, am I so repulsive that no man could ever love me?
It’s moments like these where I think of RuPaul’s iconic quote, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?” Maybe I have met someone amazing waiting for fries; maybe somebody would help me with my disaster on the Q train, maybe it’s not about them, it really is about me. I’m not in a funk, I’m not in a dry spell, I don’t have bad luck, I just need to work on self-love and care before I can even think about starting a relationship. It took me a while to realize that, but there’s nothing wrong with that.
You are allowed to be selfish and take time for yourself; you are allowed to spend an extra 20 minutes in that bubble bath, and you are allowed to eat those fries by yourself in your room. Take time for yourself, work on loving yourself in whatever way that means for you, and remember that it is perfectly normal to be alone. And when I’m ready, I’ll get on Tinder, I’ll meet someone, but first I have to work on loving myself before I can even tolerate someone else. And who knows, maybe I can trick Harry Styles into falling in love after “accidentally” running into him in Central Park.