Fuck. It appears that I’ve entered the age-bracket where everyone’s either settling down or getting knocked up. In the last week I’ve seen a cousin get married, a friend get engaged, and met about five kids in my own family that I didn’t even know existed. But most monumentally of all, I’ve ignored three boomerang texts (boys that come running back after rejecting you). As happy as I am for my coupled counterparts, that is what you call growth.

When I was 17 and worked as a checkout assistant at Sainsbury’s, I befriended a fellow gay shelf-stacker. When I say befriended, obviously I’m referring to getting white girl wasted at Bright Pride, and then to second base. I’d love to say this kind of misjudgment was a one-off, but unfortunately these went on for the next 10 years.

About 4am one night shift, he tells me that he’s never had a boyfriend. Honestly, my first thought was, ‘Wait… NEVER?! Oh my God, what is wrong with you?!’  Of course, what I said out loud was probably “there’s plenty of fish on the scene”, or whatever comfort bullshit you spoon-feed someone who’s been single since the Ice Age (the event, not the movie).

What I actually said to my friends was, “If I ever get to 27 and am still single… Shoot me!” So you can understand why at my recent birthday I was quivering in a bulletproof vest, screaming ‘it was a joke, bitches! I’m not done yet!’ Well, unless you can count a three-week joyride with a drug dealer in my early 20s a relationship.

Women often talk about a ‘scary age’ when they begin to panic that they’ll never meet someone and have children before they dry up like a raisin. But men have them too. We don’t necessarily have to fear about not having children as much, but it’s not unusual for gay men to have similar worries regarding the loss of their looks and the slippery essence of time. I’d reached the Dating Decade, which is kind of like the Seven Year Itch… you still scratch it yourself.

Sure, 27 may not seem like such a ‘scary age’, but what struck me was not only that I was fast becoming exactly what I feared, but also that the last 10 years had gone so quickly. I suddenly felt like the rabbit running around Wonderland, pocket-watch in-hand. I no longer had time to be wasted with men that wanted to play games or use me for an ego boost. Especially when I was still flirting with men I’d fooled around with at 18.

Though I didn’t feel the desperate urge to settle down (unless anyone’s got Jake Gyllenhaal’s number), I realised I needed to start getting real with some of my decisions. Things hadn’t changed with these men in the last 10 years, and they weren’t going going to now. It was time to cut the emotional umbilical cord. Nobody wants to blink, be 40, and still sexting their teenage flings just because it would make for a well-rounded ending.

An entire decade, and I’d achieved nothing more than a string of mistakes and a few noteworthy orgasms. Not even a romantic Valentine’s to check off the list. Even at school, the only cards I got were from my big sister. And for the next decade, I’d watch people celebrate something I’d never experienced: love. But as with a clean slate, it was time for positive changes, not past dwellings.

To say I’d achieved nothing would be a lie, however. Sure, I may still get tongue-tied talking to men I like, and then say things I probably shouldn’t, but I’ve grown loads within myself. And that deserves to be celebrated as much as any other coupled milestone. And seeing as there’s no day to celebrate loving yourself, I’ve decided to highjack on theirs:

And it’s not about being boastful; no more so than an engaged friend showcasing their sparkly wedding ring. If Samantha Jones can throw a “I’m-not-having-a baby shower”, and Carrie Bradshaw can get engaged to herself, then I can certainly buy myself an impractical first car for “Be-your-own Valentine’s Day”.

And people were happy for me:

 

Well, my nieces at least. They already get it… that’s how you know I’m gonna help raise two bad bitches.

Last year I wrote about the importance about loving yourself, but it’s also important to show it. You can’t put a price on independence, or never having to squelch into an Uber of Shame ever again. Besides, now I’m no longer restricted to Zone 3 dick, it’s kind of like an investment for my love life. Just make sure your dad isn’t within earshot when your best friend asks: “So have your driven for a fuck, yet?”

Anthony Gilét is a London-based writer, blogger and YouTuber – follow him on Twitter @Anthony_Gilet.

To read more from the Single & Fabulous? series click here.

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