The following conversation happened this morning while I was eating my bowl of brown sugar and maple oatmeal. It all started when I filled my mother in and let her know that my cousin asked me if I would like to be a bridesmaid in her wedding this coming fall. We were gushing about how excited we are that my cousin is getting married. But, sure enough, my mother asked the evitable question.
“So when is your turn? You know I’m waiting.”
I laughed, reached for the bottle of honey in the cabinet and responded, “I need a boyfriend first!”
“But what about (insert guy’s name here)???”
“That’s not my boyfriend.”
“Mom, I’ve known him for five minutes! Can I get to know someone first?”
“But aren’t you guys dating?”
“I mean maybe? I don’t know. We’ve been out once! We’re just getting to know each other.”
“Back in my day, dating and talking to someone meant that he was your boyfriend.”
“Then imagine how many ‘boyfriends’ I would have had if that were true in 2014. (Insert name here) and I are friends.”
I found this conversation to be hysterical for the first 10 minutes. Since meeting and hearing about this guy, my friends but mostly family have been really excited. I have a reputation of “loving them and leaving them.” I’m never into a guy for more than a week before I find something that bothers me and I lose interest. When it comes to men, I have the attention span of a toaster oven. So now that I’ve been conversing with someone on a fairly regular bases for more than a millisecond and I’ve even been on the phone, it’s as if Leonardo DiCaprio finally won an Oscar (I love you, Leo! Screw The Academy!).
“So why isn’t he your boyfriend?” she quizzed.
“Because I just met him. Who’s to say he’s what I want in a boyfriend or if I’m even what he wants in a girlfriend? Who knows if he wants a girlfriend at all! We have to know if we can even be regular friends before we are anything else,” I explained.
Alright, I’ll admit that I like the guy. I won’t pretend that managing to get me to want to be on the phone with you isn’t a pretty sizable feat because it is. We find each other attractive, and have similar interests. But I just assumed my mom understood that at 24 years old in the new millennium, liking the same music and movies isn’t exactly the sturdiest foundation to build a committed relationship on. Just because he can quote lines from my favorite action/comedy sequel doesn’t mean that we are betrothed to be wed next May (although when I found out his favorite pizza topping is the same as mine I was ready to put a ring on it.).
“You know, Noelle, you’re not getting any younger. I just want you to settle down and be happy. I don’t want you to be like me.”
Her voice began to crack and I could see that she wanted to cry. The conversation stopped being funny. To be honest, the women in my family have pretty shitty judgment when it comes to the men we love and I totally understand a mother’s desire for her only daughter to fall in love, have a family and be happy in ways that she couldn’t herself. But along with feeling sad for my mother, I felt frustrated.
You see, I went through a few years of my life wanting nothing more than to be in a relationship. I just wanted to be somebody’s girlfriend. I put up with shitty treatment from subpar and often unavailable men just to feel like I was wanted and loved. But I soon realized that those men didn’t care about me. They didn’t love me. And I was looking for the wrong things in the wrong people. I don’t NEED to be in a relationship right now. 24 years old and single is not a death sentence. There’s no expiration date anywhere on my body that indicates that my time is running out. I’m fresh out of college with so much more living to do. Not to say that having a boyfriend stops you from living. In fact, my ideal relationship would be to be with a guy that lives WITH me. We can travel together. Learn together. Grow together. It would all be beautiful. But I can still do those things without a boyfriend. I still want to do those things even if I’m single. Let me focus on my career path. Let me live alone for a few years in my own space, with my own things. Let me be comfortable with me. It took a long time for me to come to these realizations and to be okay with them. It’s liberating. And truthfully it makes liking someone that much more enjoyable. There’s no pressure. I can just like him. He can just like me. And whatever comes from that, will come on it’s own. And even if its nothing more than a platonic friendship and not a destination wedding followed by a gaggle of curly haired children, that’s fine. I will be fine. I will be happy. I will be happy because I will continue to live for myself and to love myself until someone who loves himself in these same ways comes into my life. Then we will love each other.
So relax, Mom. No, I don’t have a boyfriend yet. But I’ve got this. I’ll be fine. Besides, my little brother has a girlfriend so it’s not a total loss on the whole grandchildren thing. You’ll just have to wait a bit longer.