Saturday, 13 February 2016

A cheeky Nando's, a badly timed flash, and an outrageous ego.

When I was a child, my boyfriend (who was also a child) gave me a bag of peach rings for Valentine’s Day. When I say that he gave them to me, I mean that he handed them to me as if he was dealing smack (they do start young in Grimsby), and then he ran away. It later transpired that his mother forced him to give me the bag of sugary heaven. It was then that I realised how much of an influence some mothers have, and how much of a forced affair Valentine’s Day is.

I know it’s easy for a single girl to say that she hates Valentine’s Day, but I really do. I hate Valentine’s Day when I’m single, and when I’m not single. I may be into organised fun, but Valentine’s Day is too organised, and it’s never as fun as you think it’ll be.

My first, and only, Valentine’s Day that I’ve ever celebrated was with my first boyfriend. I went to visit him at his University, and he took me out for a cheeky Nando's (because we were obviously total lads). Our chicken was too hot, and we spent the entire meal crying. If it was any other night, we probably would’ve laughed at how absurd we must’ve looked to everyone else. But, because it was Valentine’s Day, we both refused to admit that we were having a terrible time, and didn’t even mention the fact that we were both violently sweating.
On our way back to his place, we bumped into a guy from back home. When this guy found out that my boyfriend had taken me to Nando's for Valentine’s Day, he mugged off my boyfriend royally. My boyfriend’s spirit was crushed. Our night ended with me trying to convince my boyfriend that I wasn’t going to dump him just because he didn’t take me to a fancier restaurant. Really, if he knew me at all, he would’ve known that I enjoy any free food. Apart from anything tuna based, because tuna doesn’t come from the sea; tuna actually comes from the fiery pits of hell.
From that night on, I’ve seriously disliked the social pressure that comes with Valentine’s Day, and I’ve not gone out of my way to celebrate it. Sure, I’ll still buy a card and write something less insulting than normal in it (I’m secretly a massive softy), but I hope that I’ll never become someone who expects a huge bouquet of flowers, and a night of forced romance. Although I’ll never say no to breakfast in bed, because breakfast is the best meal of the day, and it’s even better in bed.   

Even though I don’t like the idea of Valentine’s Day, it’s hard to avoid it completely. It’s especially hard when you’re extremely single, and people in happy relationships are flaunting their horrid happiness in front of your bitter face. A friend asked me this week if I’d like a boyfriend now, and it was hard to answer. I truly believe that being in love with someone, who loves you too, must be great. But I think quite often, people (including myself) are with someone because they love the idea of having someone to love, rather than loving the actual person. I’ve made a lot of cock-ups in my past (pun intended), and I think I’m finally beginning to learn from them.
Everyone has a list of qualities that they’re looking for in an ideal partner. When I was younger, I would’ve wanted a guy to have been tall, good-looking, and ‘cool’. Given that I was donning an impressive mullet, and I’ve always been terribly uncool, I was asking for a lot.   

If a guy fit this description, I’d be keen to impress him, and I was easily persuaded into sending a nude. Unsurprisingly, sending nudes to a guy never blossomed into a beautiful relationship. At best, there might have been some heavy petting, and some awful foreplay. I could talk the talk, but I definitely couldn’t handle a handy.
That’s not where the embarrassment ends. One night I’d drank an excessive amount of Lambrini in a field (I’ve always put the class into classy). I was only sixteen, so I obviously had to be home by 11pm. When I got home, I thought it’d be a great idea to send a nude to this guy that had been asking for one. For the record, if a guy I barely knew asked for a nude now, there’s a high chance they’d just get a picture of a Chewbacca (although, when I haven’t shaved, that's actually an accurate nude for me). Back in 2007, I was naïve, and I stupidly thought that if a guy asked for a nude, it must mean that he likes you.

Anyway, back to the Lambrini fuelled photo shoot; due it being 2007, the only way to get a good selfie on your phone was to put it on self-timer and stand on the other side of the room. Due to the excessive amount of Lambrini, I didn’t hear my dad approach my bedroom. He opened the door, just as the flash on the phone went off, and I was naked. So, so naked.
Needless to say, my dad didn’t believe the ‘oh, I just wanted to see what I looked like’ excuse. It might’ve been more believable if I didn’t have a full length mirror in my bedroom, but I did, and my dad wasn’t falling for my lies. Thankfully, he was too embarrassed to question me further, and rapidly left my room. Seriously, the only other time I’ve seen my dad move that quickly was when I was drowning in our local swimming pool.  In that moment, otherwise known as the mortifying flash incident of 2007, I bet he wished that he’d left me struggling in the deep end.  
When I grew up a little bit, I stopped sending nudes to sleazy guys, and I got really into guys with tattoos and beards. Yeah I know, I was more cliché than girls who go wild with Ben and Jerry's and trashy rom-coms (which I also did, and still do).
If you haven’t realised already, I was pretty superficial, and I’d immediately like a guy if they were nice to me. My second boyfriend was bearded, heavily tattooed, and ridiculously into me. On paper, he was exactly my type. In reality, we didn’t really have much in common. During our relationship, I slowly became someone that I didn’t recognise. I stopped seeing my friends. I stopped adventuring, and causing minor havoc. I even stopped reading (I may have grew up in Grimsby, but I can still read ‘scratch and sniff’ books). All of my time was spent with my boyfriend, and I genuinely couldn’t tell you what we did.

Whenever I did see old friends, they knew that I wasn’t happy. It just took me a while to admit that when I said ‘maybe it’ll get better’, I was just trying to convince myself. It wasn’t going to get better, because he wasn’t into me. He was into the version of me that he’d created in his mind.  
Eventually, we broke up, but it was my most recent ex that taught me the most valuable lesson (I use the word ‘recent’ very loosely). When we broke up, I wasn’t devastated because it was over (it was a mutual split), I was devastated because she wasn’t bothered by it, and my ego couldn’t handle it. Eventually, I learnt that you shouldn’t let someone else’s opinion of you impact your own self-worth (unless you are actually a complete tosser). Just because someone isn’t that into you, it doesn’t mean that you’re not attractive, or that you’re a complete bore.
Being single has been great for me. I’ve learnt to be myself, and to be comfortable with who I am. Weirdly, my ego has never been better, which might surprise some (my hair is shitter now, and I’m slightly chubbier than I was a few years ago). It’s great, because I no longer fall for people just because they compliment me. Nor would I stop being myself to simply please someone else.

Nowadays, if I was to become someone’s girlfriend, I’d want to really know them first. I’d want to know that they won’t tell me off too much when I gate-crash the stage at a gig. I want to know that they’ll never tell me that I’m too old to suggest a game of pancake tennis. I definitely don’t want them to put me on a pedestal, because I’d want them to mug me off. I’d want them to argue with me, and to tell me when I’m wrong. Most importantly, I’d want them to aggressively dance with me, and to still love me when they’ve seen how unattractively competitive I get when I play any game, especially Cluedo.
I strongly believe that your boyfriend, or girlfriend, should be your best friend. Except, unlike a best friend, they should want to have adult sleepovers with you…all of the time. There’s a chance that my expectations are too strongly based on Jim and Pam’s relationship from The Office, and that I’m being way too unrealistic. Honestly, I’d much rather be stubbornly delusional than terminally unhappy.

Don’t get me wrong, being single isn’t always great. Sometimes being single can really suck. It sucks when the guy you’ve fallen off for will only ever see you as a friend. It sucks when you can’t bribe someone into bringing you a tea in the morning. It most definitely sucks when you want to frolic, but your friends are too busy with their significant others. Despite these moments, being single will never be worse than being with someone just to prevent loneliness (in my opinion).
By moving to Manchester, I’ve learnt that Pat Benatar was wrong. Love isn’t a battlefield. It’s actually quite easy, even for a social novice like me, to find people to love. It only becomes a battlefield when you’re trying to find someone who wants to have regular adult sleepovers with you, and genuinely loves you too (yeah, I might’ve just written this paragraph to make it clear that I’ve somehow managed to make friends).

To all of my friends in relationships: I am genuinely happy for you, and I hope it works out.
To all of my extremely single friends: stop worrying, and embrace it. If you do ever get lonely, remember that you can always just sit on your hand, until it goes numb, and pretend for a moment that you do actually have a significant other.
Happy Valentine’s Day