Guest Spot: Being the Single Friend

This is a guest post written by our overseas HTLYT babe, Elodie McClean. It’s the first of her contributions but won’t be the last, so get hyped. Do your best making sense of her weird English spellings and please don’t send us emails correcting the ‘s’ she used in ‘realising’ since we know it’s there and yes, it hurts out patriotic little souls too.

Until recently I hadn’t been that bothered by my single status. Despite my mum, with the best of intentions, telling me I shouldn’t let myself get left behind while my friends moved in with their boyfriends, I was quite content with my lot in life: I have a steady and very sociable job in London, see my friends pretty regularly, and am lucky to have enough disposable income to allow me to do whatever I want (within reason). Pretty sweet, right?

Well, it is and it isn’t. As with everything, there are pros and there are cons but it only seems to be lately that I think about the cons more – or rather, they are thrown into sharper relief.

My first relationship as a teenager was very long-term and lasted well into my first year at university. Even though it ended on my terms, it was a hard thing to move on from. I didn’t want to be a rebound girl and I took a measured step back from anything remotely close to a proper relationship for the next couple of years. He, on the other hand, despite being apparently blindsided and heartbroken, got a new girlfriend within two months – boys, right?

Combine that experience with a rocky time navigating university and realising I actually had to study to pass exams, and before I knew it four years had passed and I was graduating without ever having really dipped a toe back into the relationship game. And, tragically, technology and social media and all that jazz had taken over the world while I hadn’t been paying attention. Thankfully, I had other focuses like finding myself a job post-graduation and figuring out my next steps for me, so I was in no rush.

image (2)Hahahahahah I’m not crying, you’re crying.

But yet again, time got away from me. Now here I am, another four years later and still not settled with anyone. And now I’m the only one. (Not ever in the world, obviously, but for the point of this post let’s allow me some exaggeration, okay?)

I’ve got a great close group of girlfriends and we have always been pretty evenly split between being comfortably coupled up and being single. But then 2016 happened and suddenly us single gals were down to two and the previously fun meet-ups where ‘partners are invited, of course!’ were slightly less appealing.

In a bit of a resigned panic after being a fifth wheel on New Year’s Eve, Tinder was suddenly re-downloaded onto my phone. I once again began the laborious task of judging guys on appearance alone to try and get myself more pro-actively into the dating scene.

I hate ‘dating’, I always have, but my circumstances being what they are (graduate of an all-girls secondary school and then graduate of a 90% female degree course with my only extra-curricular interest being the very “girly” world of horse-riding) I can’t really afford to be too disparaging of app-dating when my ‘pool’ is so shallow. Besides, where else do people find each other these days?

(Don’t even get me started on the ‘eligible men’ in my workplace – I use ‘eligible’ and ‘men’ as very loose terms for what my options are here. They’re great for a fun night out and some cheeky banter, but not the kind of guys you wanna take home to your mum. The fact that I have also witnessed up close just how complicated it can get when you quite literally mix work with pleasure makes me even less inclined to dip my pen in the company ink.)

But the main problem with the whole Tinder thing, which I’m resigned to now that I’m forced to wade in on it, is that first dates are the worst.

The. Worst.

Trust me on this – I’ve been on plenty, more than my fair share probably. Having the same inane ‘getting to know you’ conversation over and over again with the added pressure of trying to impress the other party is tough. To be fair to myself, it’s no wonder I give up every few months.

Unfortunately, those already loved-up couples don’t get it, and probably never will unless they’re some of the lucky ones who found their soulmate on Tinder after being on it for a grand total of three weeks (true story), so it is far too easy for them to keep on asking if I’m ‘having any luck’ on there.

image (1)Three little words I simultaneously yearn for and dread. Hooray, self-validation! Oh, you mean I have to make small talk with a stranger now? Great.

Being asked ‘but don’t you want a boyfriend??’ on a semi-regular basis by well meaning family and being told that I ought not to be so picky (like they’re lining up down the street and I’m saying ‘nah, thanks’) does get tedious in an eye-rolling, dismissive kind of way, but it also has an annoying tendency to wheedle under my skin and linger there despite my general ‘it’ll happen when it happens’ attitude. I find myself thinking negatively about being the one turning up solo to a friend’s engagement party, or receiving an invitation to a wedding with no option for a plus one and wavering between resenting the implication of ‘what’s the point, she’ll be on her own’ and just shrugging it off because that’s fair enough and I am indeed Chronically Single.

Don’t get me wrong, this does not make me any less made-up for my newly engaged friends or my really-soon-to-be married ones. It just magnifies the introspection as to exactly why I am still single, and probably explains why I hit the pub at lunchtimes more often these days. (That’s a joke, please don’t tell my mum.)

Let’s take a break for a moment from the crybaby stuff and think about the pros I mentioned way up there. There are a few but here are the best:

  • I don’t have to factor anyone else into my decision making – Want to up and leave for a spontaneous night out? Can do! Want to eat an entire tub of Sainsbury’s Onion & Garlic dip with some BBQ Kettle Chips? Done! What about delaying that hair-wash that’s already a day overdue? A-OK! Ain’t nobody else to impress (thanks Bey).
  • I can binge watch an entire Netflix series as and when I want – Watching a series with someone in the same room is tough enough for a TV-aficionado like me, since I can’t bear interruptions. And what if your schedules don’t match up? What if there’s nothing else on and all you want/need is one more intense fix of Broadchurch or some comic relief with Parks & Rec? Bite the bullet and watch it anyway, I say, as I let Netflix autoplay all remaining episodes.
  • Maybe best of all, actually, is that I can starfish across my double bed and not kick anyone – There is so much space to fling my arms and legs about (except when my ‘little’ dog Django comes to share with me) and honestly I think that’s what I will find the hardest to adapt to when (!) my singledom ends.
imageAn actual live picture of what I was snacking on while I wrote this.

I’m not pessimistic, in general, and fully expect Prince Charming (yah, sure) to be right around the corner lying in wait. But it definitely can be hard to be the only one – or feel like the only one – without a fella, and it can be a real rollercoaster; sometimes it barely feels like an issue at all, and even makes you feel freer and grateful to not have any reliance or obligation to include someone else in your decision making (see above re: Netflix binges).

But sometimes it feels a little isolating, especially when you watch the group Whatsapp fill with invitations to events where everyone else’s boyfriends get invited by name. It definitely makes you wish you had someone else there with whom to share some private jokes, someone who doesn’t mind listening to you whine about your tedious day at the office.

Or at, the very least, someone to attend all those engagement parties with.

Elodie McClean is a blue-lipstick wearing business bitch living in London, England. She’s learning her twenties the same as the rest of us: slowly, and with a heavy injection of gin and tonics. If you want to see entirely too many pictures of her dogs, check out her instagram at @elodiehope.

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