I’ve been dating someone for most of the last ten years. Not the same someone, and not a rotating door of short-term someones; I’m not a floozy, I’m a serial monogamist.
But not a cereal monogamist, because I buy, like, four kinds of cereal at once and open them all simultaneously and sometimes mix them in the same gigantic bowl with a half-gallon of lactose-free milk and choke it all down with a gluttonously enormous spoon.
Serial monogamist, cereal polygamist. Keep those Lucky Charms under lock, bruh.
I’ve always been this way (with cereal and monogamy): the Pre-College Boyfriend cheated on me a little after we moved across the state to start college together, when we’d been together for a little over year; a month later I was dating College Boyfriend, who lasted about a year as well, and then it was Post-College Boyfriend for six months, then First California Boyfriend for maybe six weeks (he wasn’t really a boyfriend – more on that here), then Only Real Boyfriend Who I Lived With For Two Years and Dated for Three and Had a Dog With and it Fucking Sucked When We Broke Up (three years with him), then Long-Distance Guy on Tour (eight months), then Dude Who Wanted to Get Married Immediately (who actually got married yesterday, so I’m not being mean with that nickname), and finally there was Really Attractive but Emotionally Unavailable guy who just broke it off (or I did? I don’t know, actually) a month ago.
I have no interest in marrying, or dating, or really even talking to any of these guys again. I don’t dislike or hold grudges (mostly), but those chapters of my life aren’t meant to be re-read so I’m leaving them be. Also, three of the aforementioned dudes (Pre-College Boyfriend, Post-College Boyfriend, and Dude Who Wanted to Get Married Immediately – go figure!) are now married, and one I think might be engaged. So, even if I had interest in re-boarding those ships, they’ve proverbially “sailed.”
But I don’t live in the past: that’s what makes me a serial monogamist! A constant, crippling craving to be moving away from the past and into the future to something new, better, and permanent.
However, I’m finding it more and more challenging to be positive about my romantic future and abate the fear of Ending Up Alone. I love my beautiful little life – and I’m a viciously independent person – but serial monogamy gets dangerous in your late 20s, and turns into serial divorce and a cereal diet on your Mom’s couch if continued into the 30s.
I can hear my mom’s, friends’, therapist’s voices all chorally yelling IT’S NOT A RACE, IDIOT and I know they’re right, but I also know that I’m neck-deep in the period of my life when dating is really fucking complicated.
I’m 27 – 28 in December. I want to have a partner in life, and I potentially want to have a couple shitty little kids. If I want to do these things, I realistically should do them in my 30s. Doing them in my 30s means starting them soon, since it takes time to get to know a person and also, if I’m being honest with myself, there’s bound to be a few more frogs along this path to the prince.
But if I put “Looking for a partner in life who loves beer and books and bad jokes and also wants to potentially settle down and have some kids in, like, five years” in my Tinder bio, I don’t think that’d get too many right-swipes.
This romantic juncture severely limits the pool of potential… applicants? These things aren’t aligned by age per se, but that’s the easiest way to illuminate my point: guys who are younger than me are generally not ready to start thinking about settling down, because their lives tend to be less figured out and they’re not usually as emotionally mature; guys who are older than me are either the same as guys younger than me only more disillusioned and therefore creepy aggressive and ugly chubby, or they’re really ready to immediately settle down right now. Guys my age act like the younger or the older guys, because like I said this isn’t really an age thing.
But everyone is either a million miles behind or ahead of me, and I’m over here in the middle with Goldilocks and some pissed-off bears. And I’m not Turmund. I won’t fuck a bear, let alone go steady and think about eventual marriage with one.
What’s a girl to do? People say these “things happen naturally” and to “be patient” and “let it come to me when I least expect it” but to those people I would like to say SHUT UP because that’s not helpful, it’s irritating and also I already know it’s true I just don’t know how to abide by it.
Fortunately, I’m going back to work tomorrow and starting my master’s in a month so I’ll have a handful of things to distract me from the rapid decay and dehydration of my ovaries, and I love the life I’ve built for myself so I know I’ll be content in my alonelyness. More than content – happy.
But happy alone, with two cats and a propensity toward reading, is a dangerous sort of happy if lifelong spinsterhood isn’t the goal.