Let’s be honest. We’ve all heard this once or twice in our life. Or, if you’re like me, all the time.
Holidays, birthdays, phone calls to relatives, parties, and everywhere in between. This question is one that I have to keep my eyes from rolling straight out of my head.
Short answer: No.
No, I don’t have a boyfriend (or girlfriend, significant other, insert your preferred pronoun here). Yes, I am almost 20 and haven’t had a boyfriend yet. No, it doesn’t bother me.
Your question bothers me.
This question used to make me think that maybe I did need a boyfriend. Even when my answer was no my family or parents’ friends would say “You don’t need a boyfriend.” Or, “You don’t need to get one until you’re at least 30.”
I was getting this question at too young ages. Elementary school, I think. At that age we are easily molded. If you ask a child if they have someone they see as more than a friend, they might think no I don’t…but I must need one if they ask me this. I grew up thinking I needed a boyfriend. That I needed something else to make me complete. Because surely if all they ever talk about is whether or not I have a boyfriend then I need one. Maybe the questions would stop, too.
As I grew older, I watched almost all of my friends get into relationships, go on dates, tell me about their firsts of all kinds and the boys they had crushes on, and I wondered what’s wrong with me? I even watched my younger cousins date people before I ever even had something. What’s wrong with me? the voices used to echo.
That’s what the question makes me wonder.
As I say no, I used to wonder: why not? Am I not as pretty as my friends? Is there something wrong with me? I hung out with people of the opposite gender, I helped set friends up with the people they liked, and yet I kept getting older and staying single without a single prospect in sight.
I’ve never been on a date. I’ve never been kissed. I’ve never “gone steady” with anyone. I didn’t have that experimental stage in high school. I had none of that.
And being told you are beautiful anyway doesn’t make me feel better. I know what I am. The lack of a significant other doesn’t make me less of anything.
Of course, society wants to look down on those like me when I say these things and make me feel like there’s something wrong with me. And trust me, there are days when it’s hard to look in the mirror and try to see what I like about myself. There are days when I let those horrible voices inside my head grow louder. Some days I’m too weak to stop them. And on those days, I am the most vulnerable. I’ve been called lonely because I don’t have a significant other. I’m not lonely. Most of the time, I’m content with my life, my friends, my family. Everyone has days when they are lonely and having a S.O. doesn’t prevent that.
We are all human and it’s okay to feel every emotion we can. I have gotten good at suppressing my emotions and growing numb to the world. I am a pro at faking a smile and retreating into the corners of my mind where I am most comfortable. It’s not something I want to do, but after years of people shaming me into doing what they think is right has left me a shell of who I once was.
While the question may seem harmless at the surface, it scratches at me. It crawls under my skin, burrows itself in my head, and the doubts grow.
There were many years where I let other people’s opinions control me. Control what I liked, control how I acted towards certain things, control who I was. Then one day I looked into the mirror and I didn’t like who I saw.
The girl staring back at me was someone I didn’t recognize. She let people walk on her. She morphed herself to be who she needed to be to fit in. She wasn’t a full person. Instead, she was hiding behind a mask that changed constantly.
Slowly, I began to figure out who I was again. It was a long process. Hell, I’m still going through it. Every day is a battle with those voices inside my head and there are some days I don’t feel like fighting. There are times I regress and it’s easy to let my guard down and let everything come rushing in. But I like who I’m becoming. I’m becoming someone who now has a voice. I’m learning how to use it. And I’m learning how to be stronger.
So, no, I don’t have a boyfriend. And the purpose of this was not to tell people they can’t ask. When you ask, be careful of how it might be received.
I want girls to know they don’t need someone else to make themselves complete. You are a whole person all on your own. You are strong, beautiful, and independent. You are perfect the way you are and adding a significant other doesn’t make you less so. And the same goes for not having one. And when/if those days come where you don’t feel strong enough to find yourself again, I am with you. There’s no shame in admitting you have weak moments. There is a strength in doing so. You are not alone.
tl;dr: Society puts a lot of pressure on us women and I want to reassure you that you are strong. You are a warrior in this world and you can do whatever you set your mind to. I want nothing but happiness for you. And this goes for everyone because society puts pressure on us all.
This is for all of the ladies from the girl who is fed up with how society wants to make me feel. And I’m not having any of it.