I have been single for close to a decade now.
As with many elements of my life, I am rather contradictory; sometimes I enjoy my lonely lifestyle and react with puzzlement when others insist that life can only be experienced to the full with another person by one's side; sometimes I yearn for companionship and, to be sickeningly romantic, someone to love me unconditionally (other than family, obviously).
Modern life is not propitious to the single person, certainly not financially. To live alone one has to earn close to double the amount of others just to enjoy the benefits of socialising - as all the money tends to go on rent and bills. A life shared is an expenditure halved. I cannot deny that part of my eagerness for partnership actually lies in the desire to get out of debt once and for all.
Whenever I even contemplate venturing out to seek a potential date or partner, the sheer terror that pervades my mind can be somewhat crippling.
One of my biggest issues about the prospect of dating is that I honestly believe that it would be cruel to inflict this neurotic mess upon some poor soul eager for fun times and shenanigans.
When I do the introspective dance of negativity, I only see flaws, foibles and irritations which would surely drive another to despair. I know there are good things about me, though. I am clean; I can (sort of) cook; I am caring; and I know how to stack a dishwasher properly. These things don't exactly make me "a catch" but it's a start to a reasonably attractive C.V.
Sex is one of the largest barriers preventing me from achieving full marks in the relationship exam. I have never been perfectly content with carnal intrigue and experimentation. I am one of those bizarre little freaks who find it all a bit unpleasant and dirty. I often look around at others and realise that humans have been sticking protuberances into orifices for millennia, sometimes even without resistance or regret. This knowledge does not stop me from feeling slightly appalled and uncomfortable about it all. Believe me when I say that I don't mind a bit of a hug and snuggle. I don't even mind a bit of a snog, but the full-on rampant anarchy of intercourse panics me as would an overflowing lavatory.
Everyone I know seems to take to mutual physical admiration and subsequent climaxes as easily as they might eat, drink or breathe. It's just another function of their bodies. Couples frequently follow up a date by retreating to either one's abode and partaking in a game of "hide the sausage" or equivalent ("stuffing the taco"?), whereas I would much rather stay in the living room and have a game of Cluedo. The only problem is, that particular entertaining pastime requires at least three people, so most nights I'll submit to a lengthy game of Solitaire.
In addition to this, I also have the monstrous burden of slight body dysmorphic disorder. I absolutely despise my body and feel deeply ashamed of the colour of my pasty flesh, the sagginess of my buttocks, the lack of tone and definition… the list goes on. I even have issue with my face, but I'm not so bad that I feel the need to resort to putting a balaclava on backwards just to pop to the local butchers.
My self-consciousness creates an unintentional vibe that others perceive and it warns them off like a skunk's anal secretions. No wonder I don't feel like anyone has ever "checked me out"; they're far too busy pinching their noses and running a mile.
It doesn't stop me from eyeing-up the various aesthetic beauties who pass me by as I perambulate around the city. As each beauteous Adonis falls into my range of vision, I straighten up, my eyes widen and a drop of saliva escapes down my hairy chin. I often wonder if my reaction is as obvious as a Tex Avery cartoon spying a buxom young caricature. Admittedly, the game is given away when I point like a body-snatching alien and expel an inappropriately loud (yet inadvertent) "Oh, hello! Yes, you'll do, matey!" As soon as these awkward slips-of-the-tongue issue from my uncontrollable mouth, I automatically crumple back into the impenetrable shell of self-loathing with the undeniable knowledge that these models of perfection are way out of my league and, of course, they would never even consider allowing me to buff their shoes, let alone nibble on their bottom lip. Thus, I stomp forth trying to work out how to simultaneously kick myself up the backside and turn invisible without breaking my stride.
This is why I have "straight dates". I have a number of heterosexual male friends with whom I can enjoy all the pleasantries of an evening out with none of the undesirable fears or sweat-inducing panics of inadequacy that usually accompany the malarkey of husband-hunting. Sure, my straight boyfriends and I are not exclusive; they always return to the bosom of their lovers or solitary lives, but at least I know that we have both been treated decently; without disrespect; without irrational judgment; nor do our moods plummet afterward with feelings of self-pity and woe.
In a perfect world, I would live with a handsome, fit and lovable guy (like Ryan Kwanten, perhaps) who brings home good cash (ooh, like Ryan Kwanten) and who isn't aggressive or arrogant (Ry-ry McKwanten!) and I can stay at home, keep things clean, cook the meals and, upon his (Ryan's) return home from work each day, we can snuggle up on the settee, chat and watch an old movie together before retiring to the boudoir for 1950s TV style sleeping arrangements… somewhere that's green.