In the first in a series of regular columns about modern gay life, sex and relationships, Anthony Gilét reflects on single life after attending a Valentine's Day house party only to run into a room full of 'settled and sorted' couples...
To quote the oddly hot maître d on First Dates
, “everybody is looking for love”.
And it’s true. Though I couldn’t figure out if it was that which emotionally crippled me every Valentine’s Day, or the annual reminder that I was one year closer to dying alone. One minute I’m sashaying through Soho, lip-synching to some empowering 'I Don’t Need A Man' vocals, but as soon as it struck midnight on February 14th, I’d turn into tatters and tears. Basically, Cinderella, but leaving behind traces of dignity instead of a glass slipper.
Although, being single never really bothered me, I just wanted a boyfriend when it suited; hangovers, weddings, the whole of winter, whenever I was too skint to go clubbing, and of course, Valentine’s Day. Half the time I was tempted to settle just so that I didn’t have to go through life’s hardships on my own. So during those times, it always felt like something was missing. I’d just assumed because I felt lonely, that it was a boyfriend. Which is probably why I fell hard and fast for every bloke that sent me a photo of his knob.
It was daunting being alone on the most romantic day of the year. And it was ten-fold because behind I’m a hopeless romantic, too. Flourishing friendships are fabulous, but they’re not the same as Sunday spooning on the sofa. Hook-ups suffice for a while, but as much fun as inebriated tuggings in smelly nightclub toilets are, you gradually tire of sex without intimacy. Not to mention pulling nameless jocks with cock-breath.
Hence why this time last year I was at house party; scouting out my future husband. Isn’t that the only reason people go to house parties anyway? I was fully aware that the chances of meeting an attractive, interesting, funny adrenaline junkie that had the means to drop everything and go travelling with me were extremely slim. But he had to exist, right? Otherwise why bother?
Sure enough, the room was full of checked shirts, with quiffs as high as the horses they rode in on. Gathered around the cheeseboard, ferociously debating politics and all that stuff I didn’t understand because Britney Spears hadn’t said it. I mean, a cheeseboard? I’ve used one once or twice in my time, but it wasn’t to rack up slices of Brie. I suddenly felt like Bridget Jones in the bunny costume.
But what really struck me was the number of couples, (thankfully only one that I’d had a threesome with). And there it was again, that feeling that something was missing. Feeling personally victimized at every public display of affection, I remained in the kitchen intimately cradling a case of White Zinfandel.
But of course, it felt personal. The room was littered with guys that I’d fumbled, fucked or flirted with. The Facebook invitation forgot to mention that you wouldn’t be able to swing this season’s YSL rucksack without knocking over half a dozen queens that you have history with. Oral sex counts as history, right? I couldn’t tell you their names, but I knew their girth. Now they were all ‘loved up’. I’d heard that phrase at least four times, and had to refrain from blowing my brains out over the cold meat platter. I tried to think of the most romantic thing a guy had done for me in a desperate bid to compete. But for some reason, “swallowed” didn’t seem as touching as their love stories.
Anyone who’s ever had the pure delight of being in the same room as one of their one-night stands knows how you pray for the ground to eat you up – or at least the smouldering ginger over by the speakers. But these couples were the kind of gays I wished I was; “settled and sorted”. And boring AF, of course. I decided to go home and eat my feelings before I finished the wine and got to second-base with the coat rack. 'What am I doing wrong?' I asked the tub of Hagen Daaz between my thighs before devouring the entire thing.
I felt deflated for a couple weeks after that. This is the bit where Adele is on repeat and I start wondering what could’ve been with Harold the old guy that used to stalk me on Face Party. And insomnia was in on the gig too, deconstructing why that one-night stand from six years ago never called.
Butn the months that followed, most of the couples I’d felt envious of gradually broke up through one means or another. So maybe the grass was always greener on the other side, (unless you’re at my gaff, getting baked), but what I was starting to realize was that all this time, I’d been letting boys dictate my happiness, when relationships can finish just like that.
And it became clear that the thing that was missing all that time, was love. But it just wasn’t somebody else’s… it was my own. My insecurities had led me to believe that whenever I was lacking attention or affection, that I was lonely. I was so concerned about what boys liked me, that I forgot to like myself. The reality is that you can have a hundred boyfriends, and never truly be happy – but if you love yourself, you don’t crave validation from men that aren’t good enough to begin with.
So yes, everybody is looking for love. You just don’t need it from someone else.
This year there’ll be no singles bar crawl, as all my friends are currently coupled. A year ago, the thought would have paralysed me. You’d have found me under the influence, and probably under someone I shouldn’t really have been under. But right now, I couldn’t be happier. They’re not a reminder of what I don’t have, they’re a reminder of what I have to look forward to.
So sure, my love life is far from perfect. But until I meet the right guy, I’m content ordering Dominos on a Friday night with my boys. And you know, if the cute delivery guy wants to drop everything to go backpacking across Europe, then things might be perfect…
Words: Anthony Gilét
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