Technologically and linguistically adventurous EFL teacher, trainer, writer and manager

A would love letter

I’m 30. I’m single. I’ve never had a boyfriend.

Society tells me this is strange. Culture tells me that the time to find first love is when you’re young. That if you’ve Never Been Kissed by the age of 25, there’s something wrong.

Josie Geller (Drew Barrymore), a baby-faced junior copywriter at the Chicago Sun-Times, must pose as a student at her former high school to research contemporary teenage culture. […] Josie infiltrates the inner circle of the most popular clique on campus. But she hits a major snag in her investigation — not to mention her own failed love life — when she falls for her dreamy English teacher, Sam Coulson (Michael Vartan).

Drew Barrymore plays Josie Geller, a dowdy 25-year-old newspaper copy editor with dreams of investigative journalism.
– Bob Smithhouse’s review

Does this mean I have a failed love life? What does it mean if you’ve never had a love life? Have you failed? And in what world could Drew Barrymore be considered ‘dowdy’? What does that even mean? gives me these synonyms:

Synonyms for dowdy in word cloud, containing the words: antiquated dingy drab frumpy rundown shabby unkempt bygone plain vintage archaic baggy bedraggled blowsy dated dull frowzy homely

Really? Drew Barrymore? Number 1 in People magazine’s ‘World’s Most Beautiful People’ list 2007? What hope have the rest of us got?

Does that mean I have to be beautiful to find a partner? Society tells me that I shouldn’t worry about my body or my looks. That I’m ‘more beautiful than I think‘. That people will love me anyway. Maybe I’m unusual, in that I don’t often worry about it. But as I get older and I’m still single, I have to wonder. I very rarely wear make-up. I’ve never really wanted to. If I did, would it make a difference? My weight has changed a lot over the last couple of years, so I’ve seen what I look like when I’m slimmer, and I have to say that my favourite photo of me is when I was nearly at my lightest…


…and that I don’t always like seeing photos of me when I was at my most overweight. Why should it even matter what I look like? And why should culture bombard me with images of women telling me that I should look different?

My facebook feed is full of children growing up, weddings, proposals. I love seeing it. I’m happy for my friends. I really am. I love seeing their lives progress and their babies grow. But with that happiness comes a little pang of jealousy.

The grass is always greener on the other side, right?

I know that so much of what I’ve done would have been much more difficult or even impossible with a family. It would have been hard to consistently have to leave people behind. Not that I didn’t and don’t miss my friends and other members of my family when I’m not with them, which is all the time now they’re all over the world. It’s not quite the same when it’s your partner and kids though, is it?

My life is amazing. There is no pressure from my family to provide grandkids. I’m incredibly lucky. I know that I have been privileged to experience so many things that it would be difficult or impossible for large portions of the world to experience. Middle-class guilt, of course.

But it doesn’t stop me wondering if I’ll ever have kids. If I’ll ever have somebody to share my life with. And if I do, when it’ll happen. I know it’s not too late, yet. I should still have time. But as the Reduced Shakespeare Company say:

Cut the crap, Hamlet! My biological clock is ticking and I want babies now!

Of course, in the classic complaint of single women, all the men I like are in serious relationships, gay, or both. Statistically, there must be single, straight, decent men who want to settle down and have a family out there, but so far they’ve proved elusive. Who knows? Maybe I’ve already met the ‘right’ person, but we just haven’t realised it yet. And yes, I’ve tried internet dating.

And then there’s that question which they must be asking about me too. Single? 30? What’s wrong? Am I too independent? Too focussed on my career? Do I move around too much, not leaving me time to develop deeper relationships? Do I not drink enough? Not go out often enough? Not that I plan to start drinking to find a partner. And of course, I know there’s nothing wrong with me, or with them for that matter. We are who we are, and I’m happy with who I am.

When I tell people I’ve never had a boyfriend, the first thing they normally ask is ‘Why?’ Erm, because it just hasn’t happened. In China, I’m well into the age of being a leftover woman. In Crimea, most people seem to be married and have kids by their mid 20s, and not wearing make-up or elegant clothes made me stand out like a sore thumb. I went to Durham University, which apparently has the highest number of alumni married to each other in the UK, including many of my friends, but not including me. I don’t begrudge them this, but I would love to join them.

So that’s what this ‘would love’ letter is about. A bit of self-indulgence. And making public those private desires, the ones which strike hardest at every holiday, every Christmas, every birthday, every New Year, every Friday night at home alone. Not because I want pity. Not because I want eligible bachelors to come pouring out of the woodwork. But because it’s a part of me, of who I am, that yearning to share my life with someone and to have children, to see the amazing world we live in through the eyes of a little one discovering it for the first time. Not a new desire, but one which seems to come with more pressure with each passing year.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


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