What If I Am Never Anyone’s Shorty, and Other Fears

by Alison Segel

I might be single, but I am also allergic to cats. Life is full of surprises! I am 27 years old — when and how did this happen — and have had exactly three serious relationships my entire life. I’m not even sure if boyfriend #2 counts as a relationship, due to the fact that he cheated on me incessantly with not one but four of our coworkers. Nevertheless, after these three doomed relationships, and countless horrible dates (how could I forget the Russian who took me to the 99 Cent Store, or the tattooed hipster who showed up at my doorstep at two in the morning crying), I’m afraid that I have lost hope.

What if I never become anyone’s Shorty?

Part of me has succumbed to a life of being single. I have my routine. I go to my local Trader Joes at an awkward enough hour that no one will ever see me (10am or 8:45pm) and buy so much dessert that the cashier will always, without fail, tell me to have fun at my party. I sleep with a facemask, pee with the door open, and flush every other time. I leave dishes out. Sometimes I let bananas get fruit flies. I only shower, shave, and wash my face for special occasions. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become a caricature of the single lady, with only the cats not included, and part of me likes it.

The other part, though, secretly wants to buy a boyfriend pillow. The other part sometimes spoons a giraffe stuffed animal that was given to me as a present to cure my crippling loneliness. Sometimes after several days alone in my apartment I’ll talk to myself or make up songs about what I’m doing (my album I’m Eatin’ a Meatlovers Pizza and Watchin’ Real Housewives drops in March). I find myself actually feeling guilty about sometimes, maybe, just for a second, not wanting to be alone.

As it tends to, the process of looking for reasons leads me nowhere. I might have a lazy eye, a fivehead, a pronounced nose, and hair that has been ravaged by extensions, but you know what: I look okay. I have above-average intelligence, despite the findings of an online IQ test that found me to be legally brain dead, and a pretty good sense of humor. I have a good family. Why is it so difficult for me to find a good, normal man?

I have met guys at bars, in clubs, from mutual friends. I had a one-day stint on OKCupid that was so terrifying I unplugged my Wifi for a week. I met my last boyfriend on Twitter after drunkenly sending him a direct message. I have chatted up virtual (get it) strangers on Facebook on the sole basis of finding them attractive, and even had a date that stemmed from an Instagram comment. But at the end of the day, they were all a bunch of freak-of-the-weeks. Nothing sticks.

That’s when I came to the hardest and most logical conclusion of my life: it’s me. And not in the “I’m not ____ enough, I need to ____” way, because that is all bullshit. But I unknowingly bring so much drama, baggage, and expectations to the table that it has damaged every relationship I’ve ever had, and my friendships too. I don’t know how to be vulnerable or affectionate, I hide behind walls (and computers), and I’m incredibly selfish and demanding. I do not know how to give or receive lovingly — intimacy makes me uncomfortable. I pretend not to care to prevent getting hurt. Why am I surprised nothing has ever worked out? There is so much home improvement I need to do on myself before I can attract, and deserve, the kind of adult, committed, healthy relationship that I want. I’m not ready.

So, how do I even go about this so-called self-improvement? As silly as it sounds, I’ve made some resolutions, and I plan on sticking to them. I’ve learned that the best way to improve yourself is through small, achievable and esteemable acts. I make my bed every morning. I sit on a bench by the harbor and read for 20 minutes a day. I’ve made it a point to contact old friends I’ve lost touch with. I tip more at restaurants. I ask people how they are and I listen for their answer. I’ve started flossing.

So maybe I will never be anyone’s Shorty. But along the way, I’m hoping to at least fall in love with myself.

Alison Segel is an aspiring writer from Los Angeles, California. She recently dyed her hair pink and attributes it to her quarter life crisis and Mercury being in retrograde (is Mercury always in retrograde?). She cannot keep a cactus alive, and a boy once told her this means she is “less nurturing than the desert.” You can follow her on Twitter @OnlineAlison or on her website.