I’ve Been In Relationships For So Long, I’ve Forgotten How To Be Single

I’ve Been In Relationships For So Long, I’ve Forgotten How To Be Single ©iStock/gradyreese

I’m a serial monogamist. I fall hard and fast and with every certainty that what I feel in my heart will last forever, even though it never does. I take comfort in the calm after the whirlwind courtship, when candlelit dinners become pizza on the couch and sweatpants are totally acceptable date-wear — but I’ve been in relationship after relationship for so long, I’ve actually forgotten how to be single.

  1. I don’t know how to hook up. I’ve never had to try and “close the deal” with a stranger at a party, and Tinder is still an absolute mystery to me. Hooking up is pointless when your kink is emotional support and stability. I’ve never fully pursued the casual fling, the “Netflix and chill” or the one-night stand, and at this point, I’m not sure that I could even if I wanted to.
  2. I friendzone people by default. Quickly setting intimacy boundaries with new friends and acquaintances is such a talent, I ought to list it on my resume. I mentally tag everyone I meet as “just a friend” so fast that I don’t give myself a chance to consider them as a romantic prospect. When someone expresses interest in me, the phrase “I have a boyfriend” comes spilling out of my mouth before I even stop to consider whether I actually do in the moment or not.
  3. When people are attracted to me, I’m oblivious.  I don’t ever strike out when I’m trying to play the field because when I go up to bat, I’m not even facing the pitcher (or in the right stadium). Part of staying romantically unavailable to other people when you’re attached to a significant other is blatantly ignoring the signals of would-be suitors. So when it comes to figuring out whether that guy at the party was trying to flirt when I’m actually single, I’m usually already convinced that he just found my in-depth knowledge of ancient military history totally fascinating.
  4. I’m extra awkward on first dates. I haven’t been on many first dates because they inevitably always turn into second dates and 43rd dates and then years of happy monogamous bliss. This means that when I do end up having dinner with a new guy for the first time, I’ll babble nonsensically, share embarrassing intimate details and generally make a total ass of myself. Their first impression any blind dates have of me is usually that I’m pretty talented at putting my foot in my mouth.
  5. I don’t play by the rules because I don’t know them. How long is a gal supposed to wait before she texts back these days? Is there a timeline to go by for how fast getting physical should progress? I genuinely have no idea because dating rules are totally foreign to me. I might come off as a loose cannon who plays by nobody’s rules but her own because she has nothing left to lose, but in reality, I just don’t know what I’m doing and I’m making it all up as I go.
  6. Without a significant other, I question who I am. When you’re with someone for long enough, your relationship to that person can start defining you. Strip that “girlfriend” descriptor away and I lose a little bit of my sense of self. My identity as a long-term attachment is something that I’ve come to love about myself. But when I’m a party of one, suddenly I’m caught up in an identity crisis. Who am I without my ex? It’s hard to say because I’m always caught up in a new romance before I can find out.
  7. I have no idea how to be alone. I don’t know what single girls do with their nights and weekends, and I haven’t the slightest clue what to do with my unattached free time. My relationships have dominated all of the spare hours of my day and all the minutes in between for so long that “me time” is a concept that I’m entirely lost with. Watching movies feels alien when there’s no one cuddling on the couch next to me. Making dinner for one? I wouldn’t even have a clue where to start.
  8. I’m scared of falling into something new. Every new romantic interest my heart skips a beat for has a good chance of enabling my same old behaviors, so I have to try my best to hold myself at a distance. Unfortunately, I usually fail. Old habits die hard and I’m a habitual relationship person. When it comes to choosing a new partner, I have to choose extra wisely because there’s a good chance that things between us will last for a good long while— just the way I like it.