I’ve been thinking about this lately and I’m not really sure why but I thought I’d try and formulate my thoughts into some sort of coherence.
First, a little background: I’ve only ever had three boyfriends. I’ve had the other odd casual relationships but not what I would call boyfriends. I went out with the first of these three for about three months when I was at Sixth Form. I was sixteen at the time and he was a year older than me (although in the same classes as me) and he was the boy I lost my virginity to – a rather embarrassing encounter which was never repeated with him. In fact the very same night I went out without him and met the man (for at 22, he was a man) who was to become my next boyfriend.
Yes, boyfriend number two was a whole six years older than me. Which if I’d have been 22 and he’d have been 28 wouldn’t really have been a problem but surely there’s something wrong with a 22 year old man going out with a 16 year old girl? Of course, at the time I didn’t think so and I couldn’t understand why my parents (and my brother) were so against us. As it turned out we went out for nearly two (mostly happy) years. Then when I went to university I think I grew up; I was at uni in Manchester, only a 45 minute drive from Blackpool and so my boyfriend came to stay with me the first three weekends I was there. He refused to come out of my room and socialise while I was trying my best to make new friends. So on the fourth weekend of university I went back to Blackpool and split up with him. Shortly after, he met another girl (also called Sarah-Jane, which is a bit odd), and proceeded to have to kids with her. Rather her than me in the end.
After that I made the most of enjoying my university years, and wasn’t really looking for another boyfriend. In between my second and third years at uni I went and worked on a campsite in France for two and half months, where I continued in the vein of having fun; whichever way that came. All in all I spent six summers working in France, and for the first three of those (and the ski season in between summers two and three) I never had any problems finding guys willing to sleep with me but none who wanted anything more than that. Maybe my willingness to oblige was part of the problem but I had pretty low self-esteem at the time and I think I used sex as a way of proving to myself that boys still found me attractive.
Then in March 2001, I went back to France for my fourth summer season, this time as an Area Manager. On the first night of the training course I met a boy who was going to be working for me for the summer. We got on really well….and we ended up going out together (and living and working together) until August 2002, when he decided he didn’t love me any more. I was devastated and took a long time to get over it. In fact I spent the next few months trying to get him to change his mind. That never happened. We didn’t really talk at all for the next six months but the following summer we sort of got back to being friends again. In November 2003 we both moved to Dunfermline to work in the head office of the company we worked for in France. And at this point we embarked on a really rather ill-advised retro-sexual relationship. This mostly involved getting drunk and sleeping together every couple of weeks, but neither of us really wanted to get back together properly. For a year or so we worked together and got on really well (although the drunken sex stopped after the first few months)…and then it all took a turn for the weird when he got together with a friend of ours, who was also manager to both of us. They now live together back in England and have a baby…and I still find it a bit weird if I’m completely honest.
So anyway, that’s the back story; I’ve been single since 2002. And lately I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. I’ve always assumed ever since I was tiny that one day I would get married and have two kids, just like my Mum. I come from a a very unexciting middle class family; my Mum and Dad have been married 35 years and live in the house they moved to in 1983. They got married, had their first child exactly two years later, and me exactly two years after that (my brother’s birthday is four days after our parents’ wedding anniversary and is the day after my birthday), and that’s the life I always saw for myself. And that’s most definitely the life my Mum wants for me too. As more and more of my parents’ friends’ kids have got married, the more my Mum seems to wonder if her daughter is ever going to oblige. At least my brother got married last year and that took some of the pressure off me.
I’ve spent the last eight years thinking that all I wanted was a boyfriend and wondering why I couldn’t seem to find one. Now I reckon I’m pretty average – at 5’5” I’m not that tall, but I’m not that short either; I’m neither fat nor thin; I don’t think I’m very pretty, but I’m not ugly either…so pretty much average then. I’m quite intelligent, I’ve got a ‘good sense of humour’, I have lots of different interests – and yet there’s clearly something about me that makes me shag-able rather than date-able. I’ve tried various methods to meet new men over the years; new hobbies (although there is rather a dirth of straight men in the world of amateur dramatics) , a new job (all right – finding a man wasn’t the only reason I changed my job, but it was a consideration!), and about 18 months ago I bit the bullet and gave internet dating a go. I did get some interest and went on three dates; the first, although very entertaining and erudite online, struggled to string a sentence together in person (and he was too short!) The second was nice enough and we got on quite well, but even with the benefit of a second date I just didn’t fancy him. The third one, I did fancy, and I thought we’d got on well but it turns out he didn’t have the same opinion as me. And after that I started going to lots of comedy shows and gave up on my online search for love. So now I’m back to my previous ‘if I’m going to meet someone, it’ll just happen one day and I shouldn’t have to do anything to make it happen’.
And the point that all this has been leading to…lately I’ve been thinking; I’m really quite happy on my own! I’m very independent; I’ve been living on my own for over 5 years (apart from a couple of temporary flatmates) and I really like my own space and being able to do exactly what I like, when I like. Maybe it’s selfishness but I rarely have to consider anyone else when making plans, or in my day to day life. Being in a relationship seems to involve a lot of doing stuff you don’t really want to do. Take my brother for example – he has to watch Eastenders (I can’t think of anything worse!) and the other day he had to eat Chinese food even though he doesn’t like it. I can watch whatever I want on TV, and eat whatever I want, get out of bed whenever I want, go out when I want, and go on random trips around the UK to see comedy shows when ever I feel like it. And at the moment, my freedom and independence wins. Of course, I get a bit lonely sometimes but I have lots of friends to talk to, either in real life or online. And there are times when I’d like someone to give me a cuddle when I’m sat at home on the sofa but that’s OK. I just can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had to make room for someone else in it.
And like I said, I always assumed I’d have kids but I’m not at all broody. I know I’m only 31 and there’s plenty of time but at the moment I don’t really get the appeal of babies. Quite a lot of my friends have kids now but I’m just not that bothered by them. Maybe if I do meet a man one day then my opinion might change, and I can’t say the prospect of maternity leave isn’t appealing, but slowly my view of myself in the world is shifting and perhaps I will be one of those people who just never has kids.
I think what I’m trying to say in all this, is that I’m pretty happy with my lot. Maybe one day I’ll meet ‘Mr Right’ whoever he might be, and maybe I won’t. And that’s OK by me.