Falling in love fucks you up. It seriously does. At one point in my life I was completely and totally happy with being single, in fact, I preferred it. I saw all of my other friends get into relationships, I saw them fall into the “relationship trap,” I saw how they changed and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. The single life, which I was living, was where it was at, and no boy was going to pull me away from it. In my mind, being able to go out all the time with my girlfriends, prowling the room for the hottest guy there, having the freedom to make out with said guy right smack dab in the middle of the dance floor, that my friends, that was the life for me.
People in relationships always seemed a bit sad. At parties they would pretend to have fun, meanwhile checking the clock on their phone at 15-minute intervals, wondering when the appropriate time to dip out, while still seeming cool, would be.
They’d no longer have any interesting boy gossip to share during girl talk, unless it consisted of “my boyfriend and I had this fight today because he went out last night and came home really drunk and just started being super inconsiderate, blah, blah, blah”. Far less interesting than “I ripped his shirt off as he pushed me back against the wall, my heels digging into his calves, knocking picture frames onto the ground…” People in relationships always seemed like they were missing their significant other when they weren’t around them, even if they were amongst their best friends, and that was something I just didn’t understand.
I liked my freedom, I liked being wanted by multiple different guys, playing the field, teasing some and getting teased by others. I liked the chase, in fact the chase was what it was really all about for me. I liked spotting a guy from across the room, someone totally new and making them fall in love with me, maybe just for the night, but for me, a night was enough. I know what you’re thinking: slut. But it wasn’t always about sex, in fact, sex didn’t even need to factor into the evening at all. Because guess what, guys like the chase.
I remember the first time I felt truly lonely. The first time I felt like maybe I did want someone who cared about me, for more than just my appearance. I was looking at my legs, I had just taken a shower and they were so soft. As I was looking at them I suddenly felt this painful sadness build up within me. No one has ever really looked at my legs before, I thought to myself. They’d seen them, sure, they’d touched them, maybe, but no one has ever really looked at them. No one has noticed the freckles placed upon them, no one has asked about the small scars on my knees and consequently heard the story of my drunken fall the summer before, no one has traced the lines there, no one has loved my legs, and no one has loved me.
I was shocked by my sadness, and there was no going back from it. I felt as if maybe it was time to turn over a new leaf. I had learned to love myself, now I wanted someone who would love me; someone to love me passionately, simply, completely, and in return someone who I could love in just the same way.
People say that you can’t find love if you are searching for it, and in some ways I believe that is true. And perhaps it is true, the more I searched for love, the more unattainable it seemed to become. But in one fateful moment, when the road to love had beaten me down and I was ready to throw in the towel, I found it. And it was fucking unbelievable. Devastating, and all-consuming, and everything like I’d imagined, and like nothing I could’ve prepared myself for.
This is not, however, a love story.
The problem with falling in love is that when it’s over, it’s already too late. You have had a bite of the forbidden fruit and going back is not an option. Once you’ve experienced what it is like to lay in bed with someone who you are completely comfortable with, someone who knows every curve of your body, someone who wants to know the things that make you tick and has a desire to learn the reason your smile gets a little bit sad sometimes, it’s hard to forget. Once you know what it is like to have someone who will be there to squeeze you tight and kiss you like they mean it, when work has knocked you flat on your ass; once you know what it’s like to be completely and totally caught up in another human being, so much so, that the thought of being without them for even a second makes your heart hurt; once you know what it’s like to be in love – strangers in the night become a lot less appealing.
Certain aspects of being single will never not be fun, don’t get me wrong. That feeling of having a new crush, those butterflies you get in your stomach, the adrenalin rush that occurs when you kiss someone for the first time. But one day, once you know what it is like to have loved and lost, and you look across the pillow at a guy you just met, who doesn’t know your middle name, let alone the importance of clitoral stimulation for a woman during sex (uh hello!), the single life becomes a lot less charming.
There is so much importance placed upon the ‘single life’ when you are in college. No one wants to miss out on all these supposed hot hook-ups that everyone assumes everyone else is having. Isn’t that the number one reason people usually break off relationships in college, because they don’t want to be “tied-down”? But when it comes down to it, hooking up with someone for the first time isn’t always that hot. My “knocking picture frames onto the ground” example is a rare case in a sea of awkward encounters. A recent article in Huffington Post reports that only 48% of Americans are sexually satisfied. In Spain that number is 90% – apparently we need to step up our game. The thing I think people get wrong about sex in America is that it takes time with another human being to get it right. Maybe for guys it’s a little easier, but for women at least it takes a little bit of finesse, a little bit of time, and a little bit of understanding.
Being in a relationship, or falling in love, allows for this kind of understanding of another, one night stands, not so much. Falling in love allows for a deeper understanding of the human body and is what takes an “eh” experience and turns it into an “oh my fucking god” experience. So maybe the guys who have no interest in being “tied-down” or the girls who run from every nice guy they meet, have simply never been in love. They don’t understand how good it can be, how satisfying it can feel. Or maybe it isn’t about love at all. Maybe it is a changing of the times. Maybe it is a growing acceptance that the single life means one night stands and a general indifference to whoever is in your bed. Or maybe I just need better taste in men.
But what if we looked at single life through a new lens? What if we decided to incorporate a little more love into our random hookups; don’t freak out, I don’t mean you need to fall in love with them, but what if we acted like we cared about each other a little bit more? What if we spent a little bit more time to get to know each other, to become comfortable with each other. What if we took the time to ask about each other’s bodies. What if we held each other a little bit closer, for the simple reason that everyone needs closeness sometimes. What if we were more interested in each other. What if we were more honest with each other about what kind of relationships we were looking for right off the bat. What if it wasn’t pre-determined that the girl you are hooking up with wouldn’t be hearing from you again after a 24 hour window. Maybe you would find a person whom you actually really enjoy, and maybe not, but like all things, only time would be able to tell.
What if we looked at every person we were sexually attracted to and expanded our minds to new possibilities? If we practiced love a little bit more within our single lives, then maybe, just maybe, even one-night stands would be something worth bragging about.