Being a hopeless romantic in the 21st century is a special kind of torture whereby conventional dates are replaced by a swipe to the right and sex is a given rather than a privilege shared between two souls. Ghosting has become the newest way to break up with someone and cryptic tweets are now the norm to tell your partner something rather than sitting down and having a decent conversation.
In this era, when things get tough, we give up rather than fight for the ones we love.
And trust me, fighting for someone can be tragically painful when all the other person wants to do is let go of you. In the 21st century, it’s sex first and getting to know the person last. Monogamy is slowly going out of fashion and being replaced with new concepts of relationships — some of which are tough for me to fathom being a traditional romantic.
So is it such a bad idea for a hopeless romantic like me to give up on love when it has been degraded from being something so pure and beautiful to being a tool people use to get laid (and to fill their Instagrams with the illusions of #relationshipgoals)?
Don’t get me wrong, some people do experience romantic love and it’s beautiful and I am happy for you but from a single person’s perspective I want to get out of the dating pool before I drown.
So several ‘almost relationships’ and heartbreaks later, I decided to become celibate and stop looking for love.
While this came as a shock to some of my closest friends — as I’m well known to be a huge advocate of love and a ginormous hopeless romantic — I felt quite liberated with my decision. While it may hurt to give up on love, suffering the pain of heartbreak and broken promises is more painful and I’d rather not go through it anymore.
There comes a time when you have to look out for your heart instead of always putting it out on the line. This decision like many other decision, will take a while to get used to. I sometimes slip back to old habits of craving for love but are abruptly woken up by the cold reality of love that made me make the decision in the first place.
Sometimes the pangs of loneliness in the middle of the night catch me off guard and I jump up gasping for air like a fish out of water.
I guess that’s what we call the withdrawals of love. But the decision I made has liberated me. I now go out in my sweatpants and a cap on because I no longer imagine I’m going to run into the love of my life while doing laundry or getting groceries.
When someone I like flirts with me now, I no longer shift into a daydream of the white picket fence but instead I take it at face value as just a flirtation. When I am met by kindness, it is now just that, kindness, instead of it being some indirect way of someone telling me they love me.
Giving up on the preoccupation of finding love has allowed me to focus my energy on other things.
I now bake and cook more and I enjoy the process without thinking about how great it would be if I was cooking for my partner. I volunteer so much more and I read more books of various genres.
I take myself out on dates and I have learnt how to enjoy my own company. It is also liberating to finally be able to plan the trajectory of my life without having it revolve around someone else.
I am finally learning to live for me. I am slowly discovering my self-worth and it makes me sad how I allowed myself to be treated by former lovers. I have also learnt that maybe love is not in my deck of cards and that’s okay. Happily ever after does not need to involve someone else. It can just be you picking yourself up and doing what makes you happy and contributing to humanity.
Love is a drug and I was addicted. But now I am sober.