(Originally published in Attitude magazine)
The census at the end of this month is likely to see the number of single people exceed those in couples. Obviously the primary drawback of being single is the expectation that you go on dates, something which I avoid in much the same way as surgeons avoid amputating limbs (it happens, but only as an absolute last resort). There are a multitude of reasons for this. The first is that when I meet a boy I like, it can take between a year and 18 months before they have any idea, largely because my modus operandi involves not looking at them, speaking to them, or being in the same room as them. After such a lengthy build up, my expectations of the date tend to be unattainably high. I also have quite stringent requirements of the boys themselves. Things that have put me off in the past have included everything from chunky wrists (I don’t like anything too clumsy looking) to poor spelling and grammar (I once discounted a boy for spelling Geri Halliwell’s name with a J in a text; a judgement which I still stand by).
The crux of the issue is, I hate dating because dating makes me hate myself. As soon as I attempt any self-censorship in conversation, I dry up; and, unfortunately, spending an evening in the company of someone I can think of nothing to say to not only convinces them that I’m a moron, but also goes some way to convincing myself of the same thing. Dating is, therefore, damaging to my self-esteem. I also struggle to tell whether I’m having a terrible time because the person I’m with is a dud, or because I find dating itself so painful and humiliating. I think a lot of my fear stems from the trauma of a formative date that culminated in a high-five at a bus depot - an experience that I am still reeling from six years later.
One of the problems with avoiding dating as much as I do is that by the time I embark on another ill-fated attempt, it’s been so long since the last one that the memory of how hideous the whole thing was becomes muted. I get a false confidence, and start speculating that perhaps without even realising it I’ve ascended to normal person status. In the world populated by self-help books I’m sure that this would have some kind of placebo effect where my own delusion makes me somehow less of a wreck, but unfortunately I haven’t found this to be the case, and I always end up back at square one on the night. Luckily for me, I’m not one of those people that relies on having a boyfriend as a distraction from the miseries of my life (I have the Spice Girls for that). If I ever do require a relationship, I’m sure I can just as easily resort to more old fashioned methods of courtship, like an arranged marriage, or the ancient traveller tradition of grabbing – especially if I get a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding out of it.