Originally published in February 2015
When I was 13, in the eighth grade, my best friend got a boyfriend. Out of all of us, she was probably the last one you would have expected to start dating first. She was ‘too smart’ for that and kept to herself.
I was super invested in their relationship because this was basically the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me (I know). After this, I became even more obsessed with getting a boyfriend. Now that she had one, it was only a matter of time.
But according to her boyfriend, it wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
He said that in a way, once you get a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s kind of all downhill from there, because from then on you’ll be gripped by the fear of losing them. So basically, being single is better because then you don’t have a care in the world.
And at the time I was kind of like, “Yo, check your privilege,” or whatever the 13-year-old version of that is, because he had no idea what it was like (even though they had literally just started dating). I was dying alone and he thought he had problems?
But of course, he was totally right. Anyone who’s ever been in a committed relationship will probably tell you that. Until you’ve passed every single milestone you possibly can, you worry if you’re going to make it to the next one. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe some people feel a lot more secure than that much faster and are so confident that things will work out that they have very few doubts.
Lately, a thought that crosses my mind way more frequently than it should is, “What if this is the last time?”
I was both overly confident and insecure about my last relationship, which was an interesting combination.
On the one hand, I could see a long future ahead of us, complete with a house and kids and careers and a wedding and all that. It seemed to me that we would definitely end up together, no matter how many bumps we experienced along the way, because we were best friends and we’d known each other forever and it just made sense. So I didn’t hesitate to call him out on things that bothered me because I wasn’t afraid that he’d leave me if I did. I felt comfortable talking to him.
But on the other hand, maybe I was too comfortable. Pre-medication me wasn’t the MOST logical person in the world and I probably made a big deal out of things that I shouldn’t have. And I basically said anything that came to mind with little to no filter. Even though most of the time I was confident of the big picture future, in those illogical moments I was unable to see that and only saw the immediate future, which in my opinion sucked. And I would be like OH MY GOD NO DON’T TAKE AWAY OUR PERFECT FUTURE!!! And he’d be like I’M NOT WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT?!?!
I let fear take over what once could have maybe been great, and since it ended, I’ve wished that I could have known when our last good day would be. Obviously, it was a good day anyway, but maybe if I’d known it could have been better, or I’d have done something I wish I did.
So now every time I see my new boyfriend, I think, what if this is the last time we fall asleep together? Wake up together? Eat pizza? Make horrible, horrible jokes? What if I never learn how to stop while skating?? WHO WILL TEACH ME?!
I’m always the last one to fall asleep and while I’m lying there is usually when it hits me. Once it got too much for me and I started crying so I had to get up to go deal with that, and of course THEN he woke up and asked me if I was okay. And I said yeah, because what was I supposed to say? So I sat on the bathroom floor and cried it out while petting the cat just like I used to do when I was definitely, 100%, without question dying alone. Or sometimes I’ll think about it randomly in the middle of the day, and I usually kind of just stare or blink really fast for some reason, and he goes, “What?” and I say, “Nothing,” instead of, “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME,” because you can’t just SAY that.
Except you can.
It’s just a terrible idea, as I’ve learned the hard way.
But as a result of that, I now pretty much don’t say anything. Ever. I don’t want us to explode before we even have a chance to fully get off the ground.
And I’m having an extra-hard time focusing on my work, partially just because I have more of a social life now, but also because of this fear that I can’t seem to stop thinking about.
It’s true, sometimes I really do think, “Man, maybe I should have just stayed single,” thinking that none of my work problems would be happening in that case and I’d just be happy and coasting along with no worries. But was I doing that before? Um, definitely not. I couldn’t function sometimes because I was so lonely. I was still crying on the bathroom floor, for different reasons. Both lifestyles have their ups and downs.
I thought that being in a happy and caring relationship would solve most of my problems, but it’s not. That’s not how that works. It certainly did solve some, at least for now, but new challenges in life arise all the time whether you want them to or not. But that doesn’t mean that it’s worse than being single or that it’s not worth having.
I guess you just have to learn to find the right balance between saying EVERYTHING and saying nothing. I don’t want to push people away, but I’ll only grow resentful and awkward (okay, more awkward) in silence. It’s learning how to be realistic but erring on the side of optimism rather than pessimism.
No clue; I’ll update you when I find the answer.
Hey, I never said this was going to be helpful.