Sunday, 24 June 2012

'My Single Life' Warning: This is NOT a Rom-Com

Enchanted: is waiting for a prince really so enchanting?

Most of the time I enjoy being single.

I don’t like the term single though; I prefer independent. I like spending time with my girlfriends. I genuinely like spending time alone. I like sitting in cafés by myself drinking coffee and feeling utterly content. I like flirting with the cute waiter and not feeling guilty or expecting him to bring me anything more than an Americano. I like that the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning is breakfast.

There are times though when the thought occurs to me that perhaps it might be nice to have a boyfriend. Maybe I’ll be struggling to put suncream on my shoulders or cooking myself dinner and I will suddenly think, ‘Hey, it would be good to have someone do this for me.’ When it happens it is more than just a thought though – it is an all-consuming madness that turns me from a sane independent young woman into a crazy single girl.

I entirely blame romantic comedies.

Romantic comedies, sitcoms and a weakness for soppy tear-jerker novels, were my romantic education. I just didn’t realise that the lessons they taught me were about as useful as a paper raincoat in a hurricane.

I’d like to think of myself as a not altogether unintelligent woman, so in theory I should know that rom-coms are not representative of real life. They are fiction made for Malteser-munching girls and nights in with mud facemasks.

However much I tell myself that the stories in films really are just stories and that no, Friends is not real life, when the ‘I want a boyfriend’ moment strikes all reason disappears and my expectations hit Love Actually heights.

The thing is, real life doesn't read like the script of a rom-com...

The Situation:

I am wearing my favourite dress and sat in a café, by the window, reading The Man Who was Thursday and drinking coffee. Every now and then I look up and smile coyly out into the street.

What happens in the Rom-Com:

As I take another sip of my coffee and turn another page of my book, Dream Guy crosses the road. It is a warm day and his sleeves are rolled up to reveal tanned, muscular arms that are perfectly built for DIY and spooning (he is the big spoon, of course). He is a graphic designer who has had commitment issues in the past, but as he walks past the café and catches my eye he suddenly realises what he has been looking for. Me (der). 

He walks confidently into the café and makes a comment about my book. We have an intelligent and witty conversation. He buys me coffee and we begin a happy relationship that is accompanied by many a walk along the beach and an offbeat soundtrack.

What really happens:

Every guy who walks past the window is holding the hand of a very beautiful girlfriend. I finish The Man Who Was Thursday and am left feeling more confused than intelligent. 

It depresses me that I just spent £2.20 on average coffee. So I buy a brownie.

A family with young children sit down at the table next to me. The children start throwing food. I decide it is time to leave. It starts raining just in time for my walk home.

The Situation:

I am sat on the grass in Hyde Park, admiring the view and enjoying the sunshine. There is something in the air – perhaps it is the feeling that something wonderful is about to happen.

What happens in the Rom-Com:

A golden retriever bounds towards me and jumps onto my lap. The dog is followed by an attractive young man in a checked shirt who is running towards me and carrying a dog lead.

“I’m so sorry,” he says, revealing a wide smile of abnormally white teeth, “he doesn’t normally like women at all.”

I smile. 

“I’m Sam,” he says, shaking my hand, “Can I buy you dinner some time?”

He does buy me dinner, and one day several years later he buys me a golden retriever puppy with a pink bow tied around its neck.

What really happens:

I realise that the only thing that is in the air is pollen. My eyes begin to puff up as though I have been punched and I have a rather loud sneezing fit. People sat within a 10-metre radius of me move their picnic blankets further away.

The Situation:

My best single girlfriend and I go to my local pub for drinks and dinner. We sit at a table near the bar and scan the candlelit room for potential interesting men.

What happens in the Rom-Com:

My friend and I chat and laugh and swish our hair in slow motion in such an inviting way that we catch the attention of two dashing single guys at the bar.

“These drinks are from those two men at the bar,” says the waiter. We invite the guys over. It turns out that my friend has SO much in common with guy one and I have SO much in common with guy two. We agree on a double date and my friend and I leave the pub and skip all the way home.

What really happens:

My friend and I are so engrossed in conversation that the two single guys at the bar assume we are a couple and proceed to chat up the two girls at the other end of the bar.

I love a soppy story. I often clap at the end of particularly happy films. But the films also skew my sense of what’s real and what’s not and paint an unrealistic picture of what my life should look like. Neat hair, killer shoes and a knight in shining armour about to come around the corner at any moment.

Maybe love, actually, is all around me. But I’m certainly not going to find it by watching rom-coms in my room with a packet of biscuits or by sitting in cafés waiting for my dream man to find me.

The other thing about rom-coms is that they imply a woman is incomplete until that fateful day when ‘the love interest’ makes his entrance into the story. The last time I looked in the mirror there was a fairly whole human being looking back at me. When the ‘I want a boyfriend’ cloud lifts and I am able to see clearly again, I ask myself: do I really even want to be found? 

Stay tuned. 



  1. totally understand this, great post! x

  2. How on earth I ended up here I don't know...but rather glad I did...great post.