I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

When I was 18, I wrote about what kind of relationship I wanted. I still re-visit that old blog post, and I find that I still want the same things (with some additions).

I still want emotional security, a best friend I can do sexual things with, a person who loves me enough to show me how I could change for the better, would love me while I work on those things and love me when I do the same for them.

I feel like the longer I'm single, the more time I have to dream up my ideal hypothetical relationship. I've had actual dreams in my sleep in the last two months of having boyfriends. I thought to wish for a romantic partner was already pathetic, but having a vague memory of having one because of a dream feels dumber, missing something I never had.

It's really easy to slip into the trap of looking at the people I know in relationships and feel envious.  I see their relationship as a mark of how I fail to be in one (and failure is the word I use).

When I'm reasonable, I understand that being in a relationship requires stars to align to meet someone in a similar life stage, someone with a compatible vision of love, the future, and family, someone whom I share mutual attraction and respect with.

When I'm reasonable, I tell myself that romance is not a lifetime achievement on which to measure my worth.

I know that.

But there are some moments, some days, and sometimes a whole week where I crave romantic intimacy: sex, sure, but only if it's coupled with the intimacy of people who have bared their souls as well as bodies.

In these moments of loneliness (many of them including alcohol), I have dusted off phone numbers I really should have deleted ages ago and sent that dreaded Hey. Or I call. Or worse, I call several times.

Sometimes they're my exes, sometimes they're old hookups, and worse, people who I've talked to online and have never met.

Actually no, the very worse was ringing a friend, but it woke his wife up. I know, I know, I suck. Especially because she was genuinely worried I was in trouble. My friend, who knows me too well, mumbled its probably just a drunk dial and went back to sleep.

The point is (I'm sure there's one here somewhere), being without a romantic partner can, and does, make me feel so lonely.

I've grown up consuming art and media that not only puts romantic relationships on a pedestal but describes it as inevitable. Normal. The countries and communities I've lived in have married couples as the most stable and reliable foundation for life: financially, socially, emotionally, even spiritually.

But I'm also a young woman surrounded by messages of the Strong Independent Woman. I love these stories of girls and women who aspire to and work towards other life goals other than romance.

I love stories that show the value of the many other (non-abusive) intimate relationships that have been overshadowed by romance for eons. Platonic friends, parent-child, mentor-apprentice, teacher-student, siblings, spiritual guides, people who find themselves in strange circumstances and form lasting bonds with people they endured them with.

I have learned to appreciate other people in my life more. To cultivate a more profound sense of trust and vulnerability - something I've previously only reserved for romance. I've not had to feel alone because my sisters and friends are more than willing to listen to the thoughts I can only but whisper, and see some of the darkness within me.

I am loved by them more than anyone who has been in me.

And so...

I feel guilty for wanting... more. Is it more? Or just different? I don't know.

I feel weak for wanting something that women have been socially conditioned to need.

I feel stupid for feeling unwanted when I am lucky to have an abundance of people who choose me.

I feel insecure that I am too fat and thus gross, to be wanted romantically, sexually.

I feel embarrassed for being insecure.

And how do I get through this? Well, like most things... time and love. I just have to wade out feeling gross, lonely, and insecure. I've read that pain demands to be felt, and I suppose there are just many variations of that pain.

When the worst of it passes, I remember to love myself again, to be more understanding to my being a human and to forgive myself for being mean to me. And if I really can't, my friends to this.

And when I'm ready to listen to reason again, I remember (or friends remind me) that many people still feel alone in romantic relationships. Many people in relationships are unhappy and insecure.

There can be a lot of reasons why people are in relationships, and not all of them are because they found someone who they love and respect and they feel loved and respected back.

And even when people are in loving and committed relationships with honest communication, mutual respect, laughter, and sex - it's still fucking hard.

People are complicated, and we do things for reasons sometimes we don't truly understand. We have histories and insecurities and things we do out of habit more than reason. And bearing witness to and being affected by the fullness of that, well, it's no easy gig.

If we're getting really existentialist (and dark times can really take me there), there will always be a sense of loneliness within me. I'm the only one in my head, I'm the only one who understands and feels myself the way I do. Only I see into the weird nooks and crannies of my being that I don't have the language to describe. (Although, if you believe God is within you, maybe this doesn't apply to you). But as for me, I need to make peace with this loneliness that no one can ever soothe. It's a loneliness that is a part of me...

I try to keep this in mind when people present themselves to me and the only thing going for them is that I will no longer be alone.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for, but I'm also not actively searching. I'm kind of just glancing around every now and then. Scanning the room. Holding contact if I happen to catch someone's eye. Open to possibilities, some might say.

I'm trying to resist calling exes and fuckbois.

I'll wade out the loneliest nights and send SOS texts to my friends when it gets really bad.

I'll keep being a third wheel for my friends with cool boyfriends.

I’ll keep in mind that wanting what I don't have is a very human thing, so wanting romance shouldn’t make me feel guilty.

But it’s not something to dwell on.

This article was written by Laura Toailoa