When you’re the one who has crushes, who thinks it might work, who stretches out an imaginary life with someone for years on end, but who never really makes it happen, you know it. You know that there is something wrong with you, that you can’t just have a normal relationship where two people fall into place and everything is happy ever after. Even when someone does fall for you in return, you immediately pull away, so sure that anyone who loves you couldn’t be someone you’d want to be with.
Maybe it’s because you never fell in love with yourself, never saw yourself the way others can, never made a real list of all your best qualities and forced yourself to read it. Maybe you thought love was just never in the cards because there are so many better things to do in life — travel, career, friends, new restaurants to try — and you kept putting it off again and again. And now, here you are, older than you thought you would be when you were in your “forever” relationship, and totally alone.
You don’t know how to fall in love. You don’t know what happens after the first few good dates, where it can actually go, except one of two places: Either you desire the person deeply because they withhold everything real for you, or you lose all respect for them because they want to be with you for real. There is never a third option, never a healthy one, never something that you can hold onto. You think you’ve been in love, maybe, but you’ve never really fallen. You’ve never held someone as the both of you let go completely.
You ask yourself all the time if you’re missing out, if your friends know that you’re making it up as you go when you’re all talking about the weddings and children and lives with someone that you want. You don’t know if you want it, because you don’t know if it’s possible. You don’t know if anything is particularly wrong with you, you just know that there is a storyline of love that everyone else gets to follow except for you. There is a secret club out there for people who have figured out how to fall in love, and you don’t know the password.
So you keep trying. You sign up for online dating and you let your friends set you up and you hope that one of these days, everything will change and you will get to live the kind of love that you have always imagined will happen in your “adult” life. You keep hoping that you won’t finish your life as the girl who couldn’t find love, as the girl who couldn’t let herself truly fall, the girl who only loved the people she knew would never love her back. Because being alone is okay today, when there is so much else to do, but one day you know you will be tired — and all you’ll want to do is hold someone.