“But what if you get a boyfriend?”
That was the initial reaction I had to approaching the idea of a dating column. Well, this is now my final column, and I am still very much without a bae. Does this feel like a loss of sorts? Is the accusingly cold side of my double bed finally starting to bug me? No, I can honestly say it isn’t. Although it never felt like it at the time, I feel I’ve done nothing but learn from my losses, my waterproof mascara purchases and awkward post-date briefings with the girls. (I also bought a hot water bottle.)
Of course, romantic rejection and the embarrassment and confidence setback that comes with it never does feel like it’s doing any good when it’s happening to you, and it’s taken me a year of being back on the dating game to realise that. Never when they stop texting back and you’re not sure why, when you realise they’re only in it for one thing, or even when you realise they’re texting other girls, all of whom appear to have smaller noses than you. It’s a big ask to remain sassy and still manage to strut into uni the next day all whilst quietly thinking “you’re going to regret being a dick to me if I feel a bit bitchy and play this one out for qmunicate”.
So what do you do instead? Shrug it off? Be “rough with love”? Yet what Mercutio didn’t seem to understand here is that if “love” (or at the very least, wild and persistent infatuation with some bloke off OkCupid) is rough with you, it’s easier to just accept defeat in battle. Instead, you slump. You get familiar with a takeaway service of choice, create a supportive group Whatsapp chat with your girls and stumble your way to Viper for a slut drop to Beyonce’s Naughty Girl, where you will inevitably end up crying to strangers in the toilet and being sick on yourself. This rarely helps.
But more than ever now, I recognise what does help; and I mean sincerely healing, not just concealing heartache through a Happy Hour haze. You don’t mend your heart by making these huge life altering decisions. You won’t find your pride again through new plans to travel the world, to dye your hair a brighter colour or by going out and kissing boys who are clearly a bit better looking than he ever was, anyway. You’ll start to feel like yourself again, but slowly. You will start to find pleasure again in the acts you couldn’t bear to face before. You’ll make it to class. You’ll make it to Morrisons, even if it’s just to get some biscuits. You find your giddiness again – you will. This I know first-hand, now.
That hasn’t been all. Obviously, not every romantic predicament I’ve been through has been published in this column over the year. Some were brief; some were a little more meaningful, with roots tracing back even further past this academic year. But I took two main lessons away from those ill-fated dates, brief evenings in bed and intense spells of lust in abundance; firstly, you must remove yourself from any romantic predicament in which you feel you’re competing for attention. You should always be enough as you are, with your bigger nose and all. God forbid you change a thing.
Secondly, Apps like OkCupid and Tinder offer immediate gratification when somebody has really just thought “you know what, that chick has got a cracking face”. However, I now believe that use of these apps leading into anything more serious is a rarity – can you ever really be on the same page? My experience has led me to believe that they’re only a good call if you’re lonely and need some brief validation, which I’m all for. We all like knowing somebody thinks our face is cracking. We’re only human, but relationships are genuinely more likely to grow organically.
“Only human” – I think this says so much. In my first column, I wrote that according to the movies and the magazines, the dating game should be an easy one to navigate. Of course, it’s still a lie. It IS tricky, it is embarrassing, you have to laugh at your mishaps or you’ll weep and only foresee yourself as this barren hag, unfit for human consumption. But my one piece of advice? If all else fails in your dating shenanigans, aim to be Beyonce of the “Survivor” era, rather than the “Why Don’t You Love Me?” I think with those awful matters of the heart, you should aspire to take a leaf out of Beyonce’s book. All things considered, she’s probably a good person to listen to. I believe that now. I truly do.
[Floraidh Clement – @FloraidhCC]