Here is a simple fact of life: not all people are the same. Everyone is different, which is something basic that so many forget. Some people thrive on companionship, whilst others go crazy if they have to spend more than a few hours in someone else’s company, no matter how much they may like them. I have a very close friend who, when having to spend most of her hours with me at school, jabbed me in the arm with a pencil in annoyance one day. It sounds harsh, but it wasn’t as bad as another friend’s treatment at her hands; she received the pointy end of a pair of compasses to the upper arm. This particular woman’s cabin fever and unnecessary violence aside, my point is that some people prefer to be alone, and will not react well to being forced to spend time with others, even with people they like. For some, this dislike of social interaction extends to romance – and why should it not?
Some people never want to be in a romantic relationship because it would take too much effort for them to want to be around someone else for so long (or at least to pretend that they weren’t itching to get away). Even if they were completely in love with another person they’d still need time and space to do their own thing. I’ve known people who say they only want someone around for sex and maybe a cuddle if they’re feeling low, then they’d just get bored and send them on their way. Mostly, these people aren’t lonely, though it would be an equally unfair generalisation to say that none of them are lonely as to say that all of them are. They may enjoy their own company more than other people’s, or they may not. The point is that it’s a personal choice that has a lot of, perhaps undue, attention focussed on it.
But there’s this strange cloud of suspicion that our culture places around single people of a certain age, especially women. You may often be asked by aunts, uncles and grandparents at family occasions whether or not you have a boy/girlfriend when you’re growing up, and if you don’t then you’ll usually be asked if you’re too busy focussing on your studies. General applause all round from your family, who commend you on your practical nature. However, you come under a different kind of scrutiny in your late teens and through your twenties. The go-to introductory conversation includes asking you if you’re in a relationship, who you’ve kissed, how far you’ve gone, etc. In all likelihood, you’ve experienced this yourself, especially if you’ve been thrown into the plethora of new social situations that come with attending university.
I’ve said this previously, but it bears saying again: you don’t need a romantic relationship in your life to validate you, and you’re perfectly normal whatever choice you make. You can kiss everyone, or no-one; can change your mind and be flighty; you can marry the first person you date or spend your life in the company of books. It’s incredibly freeing when you realise just how autonomous you can be.