Why I've never had a boyfriend
"You’re probably wondering “Why is she so single? What is wrong with her?”
The following is a conversation that took place a few years ago between my late grandmother and I, in the communal dining room of her nursing home. It helps if you imagine her lines said in broken English with a thick Polish accent.
Nanna: You know, when your mum was alive, I asked her if you are a lesbian, and she said you aren’t?
Me: I did know that, actually.
Nanna: And you know, I once asked your sister if you’re a lesbian, and she also said you aren’t?
Me: Yup, I knew that too.
Nanna: And you know, at your father’s funeral, I asked one of your friends if you’re a lesbian, and she said you aren’t?
Me: Nope, that one I didn’t know. But WOW.
Nanna: Are you a lesbian?
Nanna: Because it’s okay if you are, I won’t be upset. I like lesbians.
Me: Thanks Nanna, I like lesbians too, but I’m just really not one.
(Fade to black.)
My name is Nadine von Cohen and, much to my late grandmother’s dismay, I am not a lesbian. What I am is a 30 year-old heterosexual woman who’s never had a proper boyfriend. I’ve dated several men, and had a few extended casual “arrangements”, but never have I been in a bona fide committed relationship with another human being. I have thus spent an inordinate amount of time convincing my family I’m not gay, and that just because I spend a lot of time with my new friend Jessica (or Alexandra or Nicole) does not mean I’m touching Jessica (or Alexandra or Nicole) on the vagina. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, etc.
The closest I’ve come to having a proper boyfriend was during the summer holidays when I was 16 and a lovely boy named Matthew called me his girlfriend for a few weeks before breaking up with me so he could focus on his (terrible) ska band and his marijuana. But apart from those halcyon days my love life has been equal parts sporadic and shambolic. This didn’t used to bother me so much, and until about a year ago I was content dating casually and having my whole bed to myself every night. However since I turned 30 it’s been troubling me more and more (stupid biological clock!), especially as the majority of my friends are now settled with long-term partners and dogs and babies, and none of them ever want to play with me anymore!
So I’ve decided it’s time to get me one of those boyfriend things. The problem is, I have no idea how to go about doing this, as every attempt at a relationship I’ve ever had has ended rapidly in confusion and/or tears (not always mine). There was the dude who broke up with me – immediately after sex – by telling me he didn’t want to “settle for second best” and then proceeded to try and fuck my best friend. Then there was the guy who wooed me incessantly for months, despite my constant rejections, who finally wore me down only to dump me unceremoniously and move to Melbourne with the girlfriend I never knew he had. And, last but certainly not least, was the man who broke up with me via text message when he was already 45 minutes late to meet me for dinner. I told you it was shambolic.
You’re probably wondering “Why is she so single? What is wrong with her?” But unfortunately there is no simple answer. It could be the fact that, as evidenced above, my taste in male persons is questionable at best, leading me into romantic trysts with “love ‘em and leave ‘em” types (often without even the love part). It could be that I’ve been so focused on my family and my career for so long that I forgot I’m supposed to have a love life. It could be the fact I live alone and work from home and don’t like leaving the house too much and thus I rarely meet anyone new. It might be because I’m too fat, too loud, too ugly, or too crazy, all of which I have convinced myself over time. Or perhaps it has something to do with my own innate fear of commitment, which is so strong that yesterday I shouted “STOP TRYING TO CONTROL ME” at my personal trainer for asking if we could make a regular time for our sessions. Form an orderly queue, fellas.
My sister says it’s because I sleep with men too quickly; my therapist says it’s because I’m scared of love; my friends say I’m too guarded with my feelings; and a psychic once told me it’s because I was Cleopatra in a past life and for some reason I am thus doomed to a life of spinsterhood and unusually thick eyebrows. Whatever the real reason/s, there’s really nothing I can do but be open to meeting that special someone and occasionally leave the house. I’ve never been the type of person who needs someone else to look after me or make me happy or any of the other nice things I’m told significant others do, but I think it’s time I found out what that’s like. In the words of Foreigner, the poets laureate of our time, I want to know what love is.