It is a random Sunday afternoon. One could argue, (the one arguing is obviously me), that my heart is physically shaking. Not beating. Shaking. Trembling. Like…I am 10 again and performing at my fifth-grade choir competition. Or even worse, sitting cross legged across my first ever date at TGI Friday’s wondering which choice of dish will make me seem more attractive, mysterious and “healthy”: the caesar salad or the veggie burger? .
My heart is shaking because I happen to have a 3.000-word essay on nationalism with a deadline in approximately 18 hours, for which I have already been gracefully granted an extension and I am trying my BEST to submit regardless of my current lack of interest in the political and economic state of the world. But I have other things on my mind. Something more pressing…..my boyfriends.
The topic of boyfriends will arise in mine and Amelie’s conversations maybe once, or twice a day for whatever reason.
But be careful.
The term “boyfriend” is not used only as a synonym for male-identifying individuals who you are in a mutually exclusive relationship with. It is, in fact, a socially constructed heteronormative term used to successfully identify any form of intimacy or connection coming from a mediocre man who happens to reside in London!
Did you go on approximately 5 dates only for him to stop talking to you until you happen to post an Instagram thirst trap? Classic boyfriend problems. Or is this another story of: “I do really appreciate you helping me overcome my personal troubles, because I can finally commit to a woman that of course is not you” Ugh, silly boyfriends.
Maybe you don’t relate to these examples because you have lived in a metropolitan city for way too long. Maybe you don’t believe them when they tell you they are in love with you after smoking your weed and staying in your house for two continuous days because “East London is way too far” and they “did put the effort of coming all the way here”, afterall, even if you didn’t come. Boys, boys, boys!
It can even be that none of these scenarios are real for you. You’ve reached such high levels of “London dating leaderboard” that you, an unintentional veteran, are now the problem. Between me and my best friend, these are all shared experiences. Walking and talking, talking, and walking, I scream in high pitched frustration as an attempt to vocalise the air of romantic hopelessness surrounding me. Maybe I should lower my standards? Would that stop me from falling in love for an average of 48 hours with a new “boyfriend” who will not reciprocate my love every other week?
“I will never get married, it’s not happening”, I whine dramatically after another unsuccessful talking stage (that I personally do not think should be labelled as a “talking” stage, since we have met 12 times in the last 2 months, but I don’t want to come off as a psycho and push him off, you know?) reaches its end.
I may be only 20 with zero intentions of becoming a fiancé in the next 10 years, but I am also extremely tired of dating. My back hurts as an elderly woman who has just finished her weekly rural co-op shopping type of exhaustion. And maybe I really do believe there will never be a ring on my finger when I’m older. And maybe I won’t want there to be a ring on my finger when I’m older. But there are some vulnerable days like this, where this male deception doesn’t fail at making me feel frustrated and inadequate.
“Why would you be saying you will never get married just because men treat you like shit, it’s just London” Amelie says.
I begin listing all my perceived flaws, interpreted as “flaws” by a Cosmopolitan guide that was probably labelled “the type of woman men REALLY want” that received an average of 60 views in the summer of 2010, and then was forever etched into my mind.
As I begin listing my disadvantages, ranging from the simplest “I may come off as too intense too early on” (I’m mediterranean) all the way to “I’m an active viewer of sit-coms like Young Sheldon” (I have a very good sense of humour), she shuts me up while curling up on the sofa stuffing her beautiful face with Samyang noodles:
“I’ve never been close to having a boyfriend. But you view me as the most amazing person in the world, and of course you think I will get married at some point, so why do you not think the same about yourself?”
I stop my ranting and shift my focus on my feelings for Amelie.
She often gets frustrated with herself because it takes her 2 hours to decide what to order for food, performing the most thorough research anyone has ever seen, maybe even more thorough than her psychology degree, but I love that. It ensures I will always get the best deal, and the best takeaway, all while having my beautiful best friend sit next to me while browsing.
I think of the way my smile radiates every evening when I walk past our navy blue house door and I’m greeted by her child-like giggle, before she starts analysing to me her show- stopping profound business idea on how she is going to become a successful TikTok influencer in just one week!
The pride and gratefulness that resides inside me, for having the opportunity to notice such a charismatic, kind, and talented soul grow right under my nose.
Her ability to show resilience, patience, compassion to every living being while never failing to stand up for herself and others at any given time.
If only we started viewing ourselves the way we view our girl friends, maybe that would be the antidote for feeling bitter and at times, unlovable. Maybe if we accept that it’s fine sometimes that we have these sexist and patriarchal ideologies embedded in our heads and maybe they won’t leave after we read a second bell hooks book, and maybe they will stay forever.
But we can learn to ignore them occasionally, through focusing on the pure, innocent and unconditional love and admiration that blooms from our female friendships.
I love Amelie, and she loves me too. And I love myself, and she loves me too.