From the time I was old enough to understand the soap operas my mother would watch when I was home sick from school, I wanted a relationship. Sure, a daytime soap isn’t exactly the benchmark for healthy couplings. But between that, my parents’ seemingly ideal marriage, and a barrage of fairy tales in both books and Disney films, love seemed to be a pretty consistent theme in my life from a young age. And finding the dude who I could spend my days with, and who would kiss me and save me and tell me how amazing I was on the regular? Well, for my young brain, that became the goal.
But as I grew up, and actually was put in situations where I was interacting with the opposite sex, I quickly realized something. Declaring that you wanted a relationship wasn’t something that made you more likely to find yourself in a coupling. In fact, the opposite was true. The more obvious you made it that you were searching for love, the less lucky you were in your search. Claiming I wanted a boyfriend didn’t make me desirable. According to my friends, to romantic interests, and to pop culture, it made me desperate.
That “D” word has been one that I’ve silently rebelled against since I was a teenager. Once I figured out that to be boy crazy was a negative, I quickly tried to conceal the part of me that longed for love and romance. In the time that we live in, coolness is currency. The more chill you are, the more desirable you are. And the more desirable you are, the more likely it is that men will be falling over themselves to take you out on a date—right? So I tried to be a chill chick, and play it cool when it came to relationships.
But here’s the issue—I am not a cool girl. I am a neurotic girl. I’m obsessive and excitable, and I tend to pole vault to conclusions. So even though, on the outside, I tried to play down my desire for a relationship, the reality was different. And my desire for love made me feel weak. Why do I let myself get so worked up over this shit? I’d ask myself after a particular breakup. Other women seemed to be able to bounce from relationship to relationship without even batting an eye. I, on the other hand, felt defeated every time a dude from Tinder would ghost me. Why couldn’t I get this one thing that I wanted so badly?
Declaring that you wanted a relationship wasn’t something that made you more likely to find yourself in a coupling. In fact, the opposite was true.
And then, one day, life intervened—as it is wont to do. I lost my job, and my priorities shifted. Finding a relationship wasn’t the most important thing in the world to me anymore. It was still something I wanted, sure. But what I really wanted was to be able to feed myself, to pay my bills, and to turn my writing into something I could make money off of. So I worked my ass off at that instead, and put the relationship hunt on the back burner. And what I soon realized was that the more I focused on other aspects of my life, the more important they became.
I still wanted a relationship, sure. But my lack of love wasn’t something that kept me up at night anymore. It became a more passive goal of mine—something to work toward, but that wouldn’t dictate my entire life. I still want a relationship. I go into every new year setting intentions for love, and still get butterflies when I meet a new person I like. But I don’t see that desire as a weakness anymore. Instead, I see it as a strength. I’m always someone who has been pretty clear about my goals. I’m a big believer in The Secret—the more I put something into the universe, the more likely it is that the universe will return it to me. I’ve seen it happen in other parts of my life. And now, I’m treating my desire for a relationship the same way.
Declaring yourself open to love is akin to declaring yourself open to all the heartache and vulnerability that can come along with it. It’s a way of recognizing that you’re a full enough person on your own, but you’d still like someone around to watch reality TV with at the end of the day. At least that’s what wanting a relationship means to me at the moment, and, to me, that is the opposite of weak. It’s saying “I want this, and I have faith that it will happen to me.” If you find that desperate, than that’s on you. For me, it’s my own little daily act of bravery.