One of my favourite things about my friendship group is that we all have an undying love for books. Books get recommended and passed around like goods on the black market between us girls and due to all being young females our thoughts and feelings can be comfortingly similar, so I always enjoy their ‘must reads’. After my best mate recommended me Henry Fraser’s autobiography ‘Little Big Things’, an incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking little paperback about a young, fit, active lad who became paralysed after diving under the water on a beach in the Algarve and hitting his head on the seabed, severing one of his spinal vertebrae- I was left with a feeling of complete awe about life in general. His motivation to move forward and the things he has been able to achieve since left me feeling tingly for days. Little Big Things kicked me out of the reading coma that had fallen heavily upon me after a couple of months of sporadic-mind-syndrome, leaving me unable to concentrate on anything but my own tangled thoughts. But now I’m back with full force and after smashing four books during my two week tour of Italia just gone, I am currently half way through the ‘OMG YOU ABSOLUTELY MUST READ THIS’ copy of Dolly Alderton’s ‘everything I know about love’.
It makes me laugh when I read books like this and I haven’t read many. It seems such honest, simple and un-flowered writing has only really made its debut in the last year or so, young women realising that it’s okay to talk about things without sugar coating them in a ladylike mixture of secrecy and discretion. That when we say sex, we don’t always necessarily mean ‘delicate love making’ and that sometimes we actually do just mean raw, unfiltered, locker-room filthiness, and that’s okay. And that despite our grandma’s telling us to cross our legs because it’s ‘un-ladylike’ to leave them wide open in sort of slob-like sitting squat, we are actually allowed to act like men sometimes.
It seems as though if you’re a female between the ages of 20-26 and you came from the UK, chances are you had pretty much the exact same upbringing as every other girl between the ages of 20-26 that came from the UK. And I actually love this. Because give or take a few family dramas, traumatic experiences and parental techniques, we all laughed at the same jokes that circulated, we all watched the same shit late night TV and all lived by the advice given to us from the girls in Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Wild Child. We all drank the same cheap shop-brand spirits. We all fancied the same celebrities and listened to the same awful pop songs (Pop Princesses where u at), and we all have the same hilarious stories to tell about what we thought we knew about boys, crushes and love.
Love (as in, sexual/relationship love) isn’t really something I often talk about in my blogs as I’ve sort of been off it for a good while now, it’s been shoved down to the bottom of my list of priorities, completely over taken by my desires to build strong relationships with the women in my life, my job, my family, travelling etc. And to be quite honest my last relationship put me off so much that even though it ended well over a year ago now I still feel a bit sick at the thought of having a boyfriend. The thought of a commitment to another person, a stagnant, unfulfilling obligation to someone who after three months is going to view me with the same boredom and nonchalance as they do their living room sofa makes me shudder with a big wave of No Thank You. I guess when you dissect the reasoning behind why I hate the idea of a relationship so much it falls down to a few key factors, I expect a lot from the person I’m with. Not in an ‘I must see you every single day until the day we die’ way, but in a you must continue to surprise me because the day you stop is the day I know we’ve peaked. And by surprises I don’t mean gifts or showers of love and affection, I mean I want our conversations to be stimulating, I want to continuously learn from you, suck up your knowledge like a sponge and respect you for the vastness of it.
I want you to have a thirst for life that matches mine. I want you to be ambitious about the things that matter, not money or wealth, but growth and progression. I want to have limitless conversations about the environment, conspiracy theories, past kings and queens, war techniques, why you love the Polish but can’t stand Americans, why travelling is important and why materialism isn’t, I want to laugh so much my stomach hurts at your clever, clever humour.
Basically, without sounding gross, I want you to be like my Dad. My Dad who is utterly hilarious, witty and silly, a walking encyclopaedia and black hole of both useful and useless knowledge. The answer to all my questions and problems, the most interesting and intelligent man I have ever and will ever meet. Who never says no to anything, and whose interests (mostly) run parallel to mine in a never-ending trail of adventure and exploration. I’ve been completely spoilt from day one with the male influence I’ve had, meaning that if any guy that comes along doesn’t entertain me or love me like my dad does then I’m just not interested, I’ve had a taste of what true companionship is like and won’t settle for anything short.
Another major factor in my anti-relationship mindset is that I know, without a shadow of a doubt that one of us will cheat. I say one of us because there is a chance it could be me. There’s no point trying to deny the fact that I get extremely fed up of feeling unwanted and unloved thus probably resulting in me finding someone else to fulfil the needs that are being ignored. And if I’m thinking like that, then why would any man think differently. Why would any guy say no to temptation if it was staring at them in the face? Why would a guy stop himself from doing something he so desperately wanted because I’m sat at home waiting for him? A man thinks with his penis, and the penis will always win. So to save myself from all the pain and drama that will inevitably unfold in a long term relationship I have just decided to not have them. Simple.
But of course, I am only twenty one and there’s plenty of time for me to change my mind, to alter my perspectives blah, blah, blah. And today as I put down EIKAL to contemplate about the part I just read about what she ‘knows about love at 21’, I begin thinking about what I (think) I know about love at 21, I’ll try to put my narcissism to one side. So here’s my little list of things I came up with:
Monogamy is overrated.
Unpopular opinion- you’re not made for one person and one person only. This is something I’ve only recently given much thought after a few restless nights wondering why I feel relationships are like a sickly, claustrophobic prison. I personally find the whole ‘together forever, you and I’ scenario utterly terrifying, nothing turning me off more than the thought of waking up to the same face every day for years on end, them looking at me with a blank expression and vice-versa. I like the sensation of fresh passion, the unpredictably of a person you’ve only just met; the heat and the fire that come from exploring someone new. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling. I don’t want ever want to have to lose that feeling because I’ve devoted my life to someone who gave me that feeling at the start but who quickly slotted me in to his routine with the same indifference as shoving an old book to the back of the shelf. But of course I am torn as I do want companionship, that ‘team’ feeling where you know everything about them and they know everything about you. I (think) I may want children at some point, and to do that I’m going to have to commit myself to someone for a large portion of my life and I just don’t think I’m up to it.
Lust is NOT love.
A big one for me, and something I often get confused with. Personally I find the feeling of lust way more powerful that feelings of love, and you can go ahead and say ‘well you haven’t properly been in love yet then’ and yes I have, once, but it was more like a general warming up of the heart whereas feelings of lust, they knock me off my feet and take the air from my lungs, in a good and bad way simultaneously. I have made the mistake a few times thinking that because I have such undiluted feelings that harass my mind 24/7 that I must be head over heels in love with the person. And of course, this is never the case and after a short amount of time those feelings of lust fizzle out and I’m left noticing all the things that were wrong about the situation that I was unable to see at the start.
Love is more pain than pleasure.
I think because of the person I am, and because I often can’t help but get completely emotionally invested in a person, I find love makes me hurt far more than it makes me happy. I am getting better as I get older at building sturdy fronts and huge defences so that I can be as protected as possible be from potential heartbreak. Being so cool to the point of standoffish and perhaps a little mean- just because I actually can’t allow myself even a taste of the waters of emotion for fear I’ll fall in head first. I reckon I spend 80% of whatever it is I have with a guy feeling anxious, stressed, self conscious and upset, worrying about them and their problems more than me and my own, wondering if they still like me the same or whether I’m doing something wrong. I hate, hate, hate it.
Self love is the most valuable love.
Another one of my absolute favourite traits about myself (NOT!) is that I completely lose myself in the person I love. For some weird reason unknown to me, I decide that everything I have worked for over the time I’ve been single means absolutely nothing and I need to give up all my passions, opinions, morals and aspirations to tend to the needs of my partner. I completely abandon myself like an unwanted Christmas present and show myself no care or love. Any care and love I have is channelled straight to the other person who funnily enough, is always more than willing to soak it up and offer nothing in return. Taking care of yourself and putting yourself first is absolutely imperative in maintaining a healthy relationship with ANYONE. I have invested so much time over the years in friends and boyfriends, putting myself on the line and being prepared to literally do everything and anything for them. Putting their needs before my own, going to extreme lengths to do something to make them feel happy and loved and I’ll tell you what, it never comes back around. The majority of people won’t even notice you, your value or the effort you put in so instead of wasting that energy on people who will never reciprocate, invest it in yourself and reap in the benefits.
There’s no love like first love.
I was one of those kids at school who got into a really deep and serious long term relationship at age 15 and then struggled to find anything remotely similar in the years after. The blissful, care-free childish love that you experience when you’re young is sadly just something you will never find in your adult life. The lack of stresses, cares and concerns combined with the deliciousness of firsts will only ever be available to you in your teenage years, and however hard you might try you just won’t get that giddy feeling of pure wonderment from anyone else, ever again. Now that’s not me being doomy-gloomy because the love you experience as an adult is so much more fulfilling and important in so many other ways, the love you feel when you have a family with someone, or buy a house or travel the world- these factors are all so enriching, but that naive, clumsy love you have as a kid is something to be treasured but sadly never again experienced.
You don’t have just one soul mate, and not every soul mate is the ‘right person’ for you.
I am a strong believer in this one, as I feel that all the loves in my life are my soul mates. My mum, my dad and brother, my best friends- all these people have connected with me on a soul to soul basis, on a deeper level than I will have with most. And the same goes for love. Every guy I’ve ever had some sort of a relationship with has breached the barrier of first layer interaction and has delved deeper than I would usually allow. This means that out of everyone I’ve met, a particular attraction both physically and mentally have merged together to create a penetrative force that has weakened me in some way, going further into the ‘inner me’ than others. So in simple terms, there’s something special about you. But that doesn’t go without saying that your ‘soul mate’ will be absolutely perfect and have zero flaws or things you dislike about them. Absolutely no one is perfect and there will always be something that doesn’t sit quite right with you, it’s just the size and shape of said thing that will determine whether you can actually look past it and be with the person or not. And also saying that, not every soul mate you meet is the ‘one’ for you. I have met a few guys in the past who I absolutely adore. Their character, their confidence and their charm- I have been in awe of some of the men I’ve met. I enjoy so many parts of a person and depending on what qualities they possess I can say I love parts of a person- the way we laugh hysterically together, the way we kiss, the knowledge they have, the way they are with other people, their facial expressions and mannerisms. I have said before, stick 100 men in a room with blank faces and I won’t be able to pick one I’m attracted to. But let me have a two second conversation with them and my whole idea of them will change, true attraction really does come from within. But there lifestyle doesn’t fit with yours, your interests don’t quite match. Your lives might on different paths or there are complications which mean it just won’t work, and although it’s painful and upsetting you have to just say goodbye, be thankful for everything you gave each other and move on.
You physically can’t live without love.
For all the negative feelings I have towards love which mostly stem from the fear I have of rejection and disconnection, I understand and appreciate the necessity of it in life. Believe it or not I was a hopless romantic between the ages of 10-18 and it’s only in the past three years I have developed this icy outlook on relationships. I simply won’t allow myself to fall in love, and when I do through no fault of my own I get angry with myself for being weak. But you actually can’t do anything about it, and I know this to be true because you can’t help who you love. You can’t choose who you love and who loves you, and you can try all you want to go through life hard as nails but there will be someone at some point who cracks the surface. I hate that I cry at marriage proposals, and that I pine for intimacy on cold winter evenings. I can’t stand the fact that I love the simplicity of holding hands so much and that I still scribble slushy quotes from literature into my notebooks. But I have to remember I am only human and although I am so independent and self sufficient, that 95% of the time completely satisfied with my own company and the company of my girls, there will be times where I do crave the love of another, and I should probably stop giving myself a hard time about that.
I wrote this quote in my diary when I was a hopeful, doe-eyed pre-teen watching The Notebook mouthing each and every word and believing it wholeheartedly- but I still think it’s one of the most beautiful quotes I’ve ever read.
‘I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride. I love you in this way because I do not know any of loving but this, in which there is no I or you. So intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close’ Pablo Neruda