You know that friend that’s perpetually single? That’s me. I’ve never had a boyfriend. In high school, no one asked me to homecoming or prom. I didn’t even have my first kiss until well into my sophomore year of college. Everyone told me it wasn’t my fault, that I just needed to keep waiting to find the right person, but I never really believed them. So naturally, when I found a guy I really liked who also seemed pretty into me, I almost couldn’t believe it — I thought my seemingly endless single streak might finally come to an end.
My friends all told me I was overthinking the situation; although he never asked me to officially claim the title of girlfriend, I was assured by everyone in my life that we were very much definitely “a thing” (whatever that means). With that paranoia came excitement. Even though I didn’t get a label, I felt thrilled to finally come out of my forever-single rut. I loved having someone to talk to all the time. Most of all, I loved feeling like I truly mattered to someone other than my mom.
I have pretty bad anxiety, so it was a huge personal victory to even talk to this guy. But once I did, conversations seemed to flow easily. We had a lot in common, and I soon found myself telling him things that not even my closest friends knew about me.
As fall semester ended, I celebrated how awesome I thought things were going by knitting a hat to give him for Christmas. But over winter break, the guy who had been talking to me almost 24/7 for several months started getting more and more distant. I felt like I was annoying him and nothing I did was good enough. I kept unraveling the hat and starting over. Maybe in the back of my head, I thought that if I made him a really nice hat, he would remember that he still liked me.
Once I finished the hat (finally deeming it acceptable), I wrapped it up and asked the guy (who I’ll call Hat Boy) to finally hang out at some point over break so that I could give him his present. But Hat Boy started to become Excuse Boy. Christmas came and went, and Hat Boy still wouldn’t let me give him his hat. I started getting really worried that a hat couldn’t fix the problem, and that maybe I couldn’t either.
Finally, on Jan. 1, I decided to get to the bottom of things. I texted Hat Boy to reconfirm our “thing.” At first, I thought everything is going to be fine. Of course he still liked me, he had just been busy or sick or tired recently. After he read my text, I assumed he would reply immediately and I could put my fears aside. But he didn’t.
As the minutes passed and the three little dots at the corner of my screen indicated he was still typing, I got pretty nervous. What could be taking so long? Nothing good. When I finally got a reply, I burst into tears. I essentially read a text messaged version of the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” speech.
My non-relationship, which I thought was too good to be true, suddenly ended.
For a while, I felt unlovable. But as the weeks went by, I became more and more determined to prove to myself that I deserved more than Its Not You Its Me Boy. I started doing all the things that I hadn’t had time to do in the fall: going to the gym, getting a healthy amount of sleep, blogging and reading. Although I still miss Hat Boy, I refuse to let the time he spent in my life unravel me. I decided not to give him the hat I spent all that time knitting.
Relationships remind me of hats. Some people have a lot of them. Other people, like me, only get the occasional aloof headband. A small group of people may tell you they don’t want one via a very long, dramatic text message, and an even smaller group of people might have an irrational fear of them (okay, maybe that last one doesn’t really apply to hats). Just like a hat, a relationship won’t always be a good fit for someone, even if they really want it to be. But alas, like a relationship, you can’t make someone else stay in a hat if they’d rather let the mane run free.