I am 24 and I have never been in any kind of relationship.
Yup, you read that right, any kind of relationship, including casual ones, not even puppy loves. I’ve never even been close to someone. I’ve never held hands with a romantic partner. I’ve never hugged anyone romantically, I’ve never kissed anyone, I’ve never been intimate with anyone. Never. And no, I’m not aromantic or asexual.
When people ask me about my love life, I usually just shrug and say “It’s nonexistent.” Most of them would react by saying “Huh? What do you mean nonexistent? Did you just break up?” As if having a nonexistent love life is not normal.
The fact that I’m tattooed all over and have purple hair baffled them even more. Perhaps my appearance suggests that I fool around, or that I’m at least a serial dater – someone even asked me if I was only into BDSM relationships.
One of the reasons why I’ve never been in a relationship is because I suffer from social anxiety. I’ve missed potential opportunities, experiences, friendships, and, of course, relationships. I’m too terrified to approach people, and I think that nobody would like me that way. The fact that I’ve never been in a relationship makes total sense to me. Other than my social anxiety, I personally think that it’s totally normal for anyone to have no experience in romantic relationship.
Once I was having dinner with a bunch of colleagues, and as the night grew darker and the alcohol grew stronger, we started to talk about sex and relationship. Sitting in the corner in my attempt to be a wallflower, I tried to relate to the conversation by laughing at my friends’ stories. I almost got away with it, until one of them noticed that I’d been quiet the whole time.
“What about you?” One of my friends asked, “You haven’t said anything.”
I was about to shrug and say that I had nonexistent relationship like I usually do, but this time I hesitated. Why? Because one of them had earlier said that he found people who had never done anything extremely prude and naïve. So I lied and said I’d been with some guys, but I liked to keep it private.
This was how I used to be when people asked questions, feeling the pressure to lie because, apparently, it is easier for some to accept that I have six ex-es than to believe that I have no experience in the relationship department at all.
Back in school the single shaming was worse. Other students used to call me a lesbian just because they had never seen me dating anyone. I had no problem with the label, but when the gossip spread out in my homophobic school, some of my girl-friends started to keep their distance from me. As I didn’t want to lose all my friends, I created an imaginary boyfriend, and started ‘dating’ him for a while.
Single shaming has something to do with the way our society perceives relationship as an obligation. If you’re not in one, then you have failed in life. You are not wanted. It means you need to grow your hair. You need to wear more make up. You need to shave your body hair and groom yourself better. You need to dress more femininely. You need to go out more. You need to learn how to flirt. You need to start posting selfies to your Instagram to make people notice you more. You need to try dating apps. And so on.
Now that I’ve fully accepted myself, I always tell people that I’ve never been in any kind of relationships whenever the topic comes off. I’ve promised myself to never lie about it again because there is nothing wrong with it.
Still, rarely do I get a normal response from people when I do this. Once people found out, they would always try to make me “feel better.” They would tell me that it is unbelievable, that I would meet somebody soon, and that I shouldn’t be galau. They say they would pray for me, and offer to introduce me to their friends. The thing is I’m fine and I don’t care. I may not know a lot of guys, but I know where to find interesting life in the corners of Jakarta.
I wish I would get a normal reaction the next time I tell people about my status. I wish they believe me that it does not concern me at all. I’m very happy with my life right now; I have a fulfilling hobby and a good career. When it comes to relationship, maybe it’s just not my time yet.
Fieni Aprilia is a socially anxious misfit. They enjoy people-watching, reading, and street photography.