I spoke earlier in the week about the concept of ‘not finding love’. It’s a pretty flexible idea, traveling, as it does between those who feel thoroughly depressed at the thought of not finding ‘the one’ and those who positively relish the freedom and choice that comes from never having to commit to one person. But what’s the fall out of this situation? How have the younger generations fared? Have we got it all ‘sussed out’ in a way that our parents never quite managed?
I saw a hilarious comic on Thursday night – which is a bit of a contradiction in terms seeing as one does usually assume that a comic is going to make you laugh but I digress. He was funny and one of his ‘bug bears’ was the whining, whinging ways of today’s young people. ‘Its soooo harrrrrrd being young’ one of them squeaked at him recently. And I hear him, I really do. Today’s young have much to be thankful for. Opportunities abound, gap years are pretty much compulsory and bars are open much later than they were in the 1980’s but I do see their point. As post 1960’s kids, we are all stuck in the middle of a no man’s land as far as I can work out. We don’t have to live by the morals and values that our grandparents did. Tick. Marriage is no longer necessary for survival. Tick. But the downside is that we have fewer tangible reasons to be committed or find ‘the one’…if things don’t work out with one person, we give up quickly and move onto the next. The glue, the impetus to hold our grandparents marriages together simply doesn’t exist any more so where have we got to? What do we actually want? Does anybody even know? I can tell my explorations into ‘love’ are going to be interesting.
Today’s 17-year-old storyteller is a classic example. Is she seeking a ‘perfection’ that doesn’t actually exist, no matter how good our relationships are? Is she in denial about her sexuality? Is she, at 17, too young and insecure to have a relationship? Or is he just not ‘the one’?
It is hard being young these days.
‘I’m a 17-year-old girl, currently in a five month relationship – nearing its sixth month – with a boy that I am not in love with. My story is a kind of two-for-one; I fell into unrequited feelings with one person at the age of 15, and now find myself no longer returning the feelings that my boyfriend professes… When I look at it that way the two situations seem like reflections of each other, like two sides of a mirror.
Two years ago, when I was 15, I met and became infatuated with a girl who attended my school for a few months. She was forced to move to another country the summer after I met her, and that winter I visited her there. After eighteen months and many late night calls to her I finally got over my feelings – and I still don’t know if I did love her, or if it was just an intense crush.
What I have since come to realize is that she is an extremely selfish person, or at least she is when it comes to our ‘friendship’. I met up with her very recently and found myself observing from a detached perspective how our conversations are one-way therapy sessions where she offloads her problems onto me, and barely pays attention when I talk. I don’t lay the blame for this on her though: If I had been more assertive in the beginning of our friendship she wouldn’t be treating me this way now, but at that time I could find no fault in her; I thought she was perfect. Well they do say love is blind, don’t they?
Four months after recovering from my feelings for this girl, at the age of 17, I met my (now) boyfriend. A month after our meeting we began our relationship, and for the first four months everything was great; it was my first ‘serious’ romantic relationship and I was enjoying it entirely - enough to say ‘I love you too’ when I wasn't sure if I did.
Actually, I can’t fault our relationship thus far. We haven’t had a single argument (which some of my friends believe, and I sometimes agree, is reason enough in itself to worry), he’s never been disrespectful, distrusting or possessive, and has never given me reason to suspect or distrust him. Compared to those around me who have various stresses on their own relationships, such as familial pressure or a boyfriend who thinks ‘fuck off’ is an acceptable way to end an argument; I have nothing to warrant my current feelings of dissatisfaction. But I am dissatisfied, despite having found what I idealized and fantasized about for much of my early teenage years: a ‘perfect’ relationship, with someone who honestly seems to care about me. I am dissatisfied with my relationship, and somehow with this kind, considerate, emotionally engaged boy – and I feel guilty for it.
To complicate things I recently and drunkenly kissed my best friend, who is having relationship troubles of her own, and have thought about this frequently since. I am trying to balance a worrying lack of repentance regarding this with the guilt I feel every time I tell my boyfriend that I Love Him Too. I currently have plans to break up with my boyfriend; plans which are delayed by his impending exams, and until then have to navigate the minefield of being physically intimate with someone I am no longer attracted to.
Apparently I can’t do right for doing wrong: I was unhappy when infatuated with a self-centered, insensitive girl, and equally miserable when in a functional relationship with a boy who does his best to support and comfort me.
After rereading this story I notice my tone comes across as very self-pitying which was not my intention at all. I was just trying to lay down the facts. I claim full responsibility for the mistakes that I have made, and hope all parties concerned in this story find fulfilling relationships in the near future: the ‘selfish’ girl, my boyfriend, my best friend, my best friend’s boyfriend and maybe even myself – but I think I’ll spend this summer single.’