As a child, I never pictured the adult me saving lives or battling it out in courtrooms as a hotshot lawyer; nor did I didn’t imagine myself venturing to other planets and having a good ole time – at least not alone. Instead when I pictured myself doing, well, anything it was always with someone else; there was always someone beside me. Note: I also imagined myself dying in some sort of robot-caused nuclear inferno, like in The Terminator, but that’s another story.
At this point that person I pictured didn’t have corporeal form, ‘it’ was just an idea. An imaginary entity that I’d cling too to fend of the chill of loneliness. As I got older and started developing crushes on guys, that faceless fantasy partner of mine slowly morphed into whoever I had feelings for at the time – my version of them anyway. My vision of who they were was always strikingly different to the flesh and blood reality – the most notable difference was the qualities they had versus the qualities I wanted them to have. The reality was always less spectacular.
I never pictured myself as I am now; single, depressed, aggressively shopping for dog clothes online even though I don’t have a dog. I never thought I’d be a fully-grown adult slowly losing the will to live as he hunts with all the success of wounded animal for a mate. Let’s be clear about this, looking for love is not the thing dreams are made of. By this point young me was hopeful he’d have settled down, be happily married, maybe even have a kid or be arguing over what washing machine we’re going to buy. I didn’t think I’d be staying out till 3:00am worried that if I went home, I’d miss meeting that perfect, amazing guy who would walk into the club at 2:44am. After too many late nights and a cluster of brutal mornings I’ve realised that the magical, brilliantly tailored husband-material men are all in bed at that time – or they’re taken. And that usually the sort of single guys out this late are less the ‘amazing/marriage’ material sort and more the ‘nightmare/train-wreck’ variety.
As I keep climbing in age, I’m starting to despise the bar/club scene. In the last three years I’ve experienced every version of those nights. Some nights were more successful than others, seeing me get lucky and the flame of romantic possibility being lit. Others were easier still, as God had the decency to make me look ugly, thereby removing 87% of the guys I’m attracted to from the equation and thus simplifying the decision-making process. I choose guys on a night out the same way I order wine in a restaurant: Avoid the cheapest cause it’ll undoubtedly be nasty; steer clear of the second cheapest on the basis that it will probably be even worse, avoid the expensive options cause they can’t possibly be worth it, and wind up randomly picking something in the middle – a strong but not overly robust 5/10, like myself.
I’m beginning to feel like I’m the only single person in the mix. 98.3% of my friends have partners right now and here I am yelling at my washing machine as I shove all my dirty boxers into it, whilst listlessly kicking at my one shins. I complain about the tragic life of singledom a lot and I’m always told that being single is great – by people who are in relationships. If being single was such great fun, then why aren’t you single, hmm?
What’s on offer then? An endless string of first dates? That’s about as fun as someone breaking wind on your front door. Getting to say the same shit over and over again only in different places? Eventually your voice becomes a perpetually low flat line. Hitting the scene casually is sometimes fun, sure, but mostly you leave with a feeling of emptiness. The only way to ensure a good time in a bar is to walk in, getting a double gin, down it, go to the bathroom, jerk off and leave. Seriously how do we expect to meet someone in bars and clubs? All I’m doing is going to horrible places and meeting horrible people and then complaining about it; staying out like a lunatic and moaning about how I only ever meet other lunatics. Someone needs to take the single scene to the next level and launch a chain of bars that categorise its single clientele by their personality/compatibility and thus reduce the stress of the whole thing. I do something similar with my friends – except I organise them by what type of medication they take. Waiting for love to find you in a club is like going to Argos and the staff member walking to a stockroom in a neighbouring country, whilst someone else methodically harasses you about taking out a three-year-plan with them.
Having a partner is heavily advertised as an integral part of adulthood, and a lot of us single folk feel as though we’re failing at being grownups because of it. All the while our relationship friends mutter startlingly dull quips in attempt to be uplifting. They say stuff like, ‘You’ve still got loads of time’ or ‘you don’t look your age, you look great’ and other patronising blatant lies, whilst I stand there gawking and radiating a sense of forced bonhomie.
Then there’s the flip side, the fear of settling down and the fear of settling. When the opportunity to settle down presents itself suddenly all the glamour of single life looms above your head; it’s become a fully sentient being with thoughts and feelings and opinions: ‘You can do better’, ‘He isn’t the one’, ‘Look at his scabby toenails, do you want your kids to have scabby toenails? It’s genetic, you know!’ In this romantic climate I feel a lot of us are plagued by this ‘upgrade’ problem. One that sees us constantly wondering if there’s something, or rather someone, better out there. It’s because there’s so much choice these days.
Before the world was invaded by dating sites and their bratty offspring, such as Tinder, Grindr, ChristianMingle or MuggleMatch.com (that isn’t a site, but oh, my god, imagine it was) it must have been a lot easier to meet someone and be content. There weren’t endless options for us to choose from. Meeting someone you clicked with was a lot harder and happened in a more natural way – now they click on you, then you click back. These apps stack single people onto shelves and let you, literally, flick through them. Once you’ve picked someone you’re sure you’re happy with, you get to the checkout and then change your mind. Why? Because the single person in front of you just put their purchase back and he looks a lot better than yours. Y’know, one day these apps are going to rise-up and strange us in our beds. It’s a world where we sit around all day in our pajamas and swipe right on the photoshopped faces of our dreams. Then the option problem rears its ugly head: Sure, you’ve got someone great, but are you sure they’re the greatest?
A quests for love are essentially fruitless. To summarise: There’s clubs which offer a sea of potential guys, and that sea will get wider and deeper the more you and they drink, so wide you’ll eventually drown in a bad decision. You can go out, get lucky, then you have the embarrassing Snapchat story of your drunken mistake haunting you for the next 24 hours – which you can’t delete because that’s just fucking rude. You have dating apps, which we download and use as we sit on our sofa, as the creatives and advertising companies that developed them dangle other attractive singles in front of us; then after you’ve paid them they start throwing buckets of shit in your face. Then you have the guy that would love you, support you, cares about you, but there’s a list of reasons you wouldn’t work. A list that you, and only you, can justify.
Here your options if you’re Single as Fuck. You meet someone great but you don’t feel anything back – it happens. Other times you meet someone via an app. You get to know them and think they’re as wonderful as Santa, then after a few meetings you start admonishing that opinion when you realise they have the same appeal as a serial murderer. If you fancy a laugh and don’t mind pissing money up the wall like a champagne socialist, you can spend your nights in bars and clubs searching for Mr Right, but you’ll probably have more fun stuffing your balls down a chimney. Whatever you do, you get to then moan about it to your friends in relationships whilst they give you pep talks that are as motivational as a Mars Bar. All the while you get to sit there looking as bored as a cleaner methodically wiping a smudge from a surface. Still single.
After everything that’s happened to me lately, I don’t have the buffering capacity to handle any heartache so, guys, stay away.