"Why?" is what people often ask me when I tell them I've never had a long term relationship. As they look me up and down and scan for any obvious "clues". I never really feel I offer an explanation that satisfies them. I think most people would feel more content if I said that I’d been in a coma since puberty or that I had the sexual inclinations of a flower and my only way of reproducing was through insect pollination.
The simple truth is I just haven’t. I have a fantastic job, a great group of friends and a loving family. A serious relationship just happens to be something I have not yet experienced.
That’s not to say I haven’t been in love. In fact, you could say I have developed a slight aversion to relationships precisely because of my first love. I was 17 and fell for a greasy-haired man in skinny jeans. He had — as rumour had it — slept with most of the women in my city. Maybe because his jeans were so tight, he needed someone to help him out of them every night.
We enjoyed a teenage romance and after six weeks, I decided I was ready to give him my virginity. We were on a romantic date at Burger King and something about the way he tore into his burger with such manly force made me sure he was the one for the job. Two weeks after that "magic" five minutes between the sheets, he dumped me for another girl. But as I was young and naïve, we continued to date on and off for another two years until one day I decided to bow out while I still had a shred of dignity and a clean bill of sexual health.
And thus ended my first and only experience of love to date. If you can even call it that. The story eventually came to a very satisfying conclusion (for me at least). I bumped into him years later to discover he was married with kids. Then a few weeks after, he popped up on my friend’s Tinder looking for some action. Proof you can lead a bad boy to the marriage altar but you can’t stop them from sending dick pics to strangers.
I’ve genuinely not met anyone I’ve connected with enough to imagine a full-blown relationship with.
So, maybe I do slightly fear falling in love based on past experiences. But it’s not as if I have a plethora of Casanovas knocking down my door either. In the years since my first love, I’ve dipped my toe in the dating pool, sure. But I’ve genuinely not met anyone I’ve connected with enough to imagine a full-blown relationship with. I’ve not been on more than five dates with someone before it just fizzled out. Sometimes I seriously do question whether I’m asexual, for example, but then I see photos of Jamie Dornan without his top on and my lady parts go beep.
Maybe I'm just picky. A lot of my first dates feel like I’m sitting opposite the dumb, the dire and the depressingly dull. My friends say I shouldn’t write first dates off so quickly. But that’s hard to do when you find yourself sharing a drink with a lad who refers to his friendship group as "The Dick Dons" (true story).
I’ve also seen my close friends go through enough relationship bullshit to last me a lifetime. It always comes in waves. One minute, all my coupled-up friends are sunshine and rainbows and the next thing, I’ve got a mate dumped by text, another who has been ghosted by her boyfriend of ten years and one poor soul whose bloke says he sees marriage and kids in his future — but with a different girl he met a few weeks ago in a bar.
It’s enough to make you see relationships like eating hot wings from that fried chicken shop that also doubles up as a men’s hairdresser and fixes your phone screen for $40... Not worth all the shit that follows.
A fear of falling in love and getting hurt is, for me, paired with the oh-so-joyful ticking of a biological clock. It hit me at 27. Fuck. 30 is going to happen to me soon. I never really thought I’d turn 30. I think as a teenager, I just saw my life up to 29 and then the end credits rolled. There’s this annoying pressure twenty-something women can feel about finding love before they are 30. It can feel like a terrifying countdown. Like a shit New Year’s Eve where at midnight, you die alone. Aside from biology, I think rom-coms could also be to blame. The other week, I watched Bridget Jones and nearly spat out my Blossom Hill when I realised she’s only 32 years old. Just five years my senior and labelled a "spinster" by all her friends and family. Until she finds her Mr Darcy, of course.
Most of my concern over never having experienced a serious relationship is what others may think. What if I do meet someone and they’re freaked out that I’ve never had a proper boyfriend? I sometimes think about that scene from Girls where Shoshanna is telling Hannah about the game show Baggage. Contestants have three suitcases which reveal a little, a medium and a big secret about them and the potential suitor has to decide whether they’re worth love or they get eliminated. I imagine myself standing on the stage, with the presenter telling the audience, “Here’s Kat. She’s never had a serious relationship and she also gets gassy when she eats cheese. Thoughts?”
I’ve changed and grown and become a stronger woman without needing someone to hold my hand.