As I entered the eleventh year of singledom, something shifted. I’d gone from basking in the bliss of eating takeaway in my knickers, snogging inappropriate men and only shaving my legs from shin to ankle when I wore culottes, to feeling as though a change was due.
Until then, I’d been so definingly single, I’d even made it my career, writing and performing a comedy cabaret show entitled ‘Song of the Single Girl’.
But around me, my friends were all suddenly in serious relationships, moving in with their partners and moving on with their lives. I’d come to the realisation that actually, I did want to be with someone. I was turning thirty soon and it would be pleasant to have someone to be the other half of my team.
But could I find him? Could I balls. I did however find a whole load of unsuitable chaps who, politely speaking were less than gentlemanly.
Not politely speaking, they were emotionally stunted idiots.
I was bemoaning the sorry state of my now unwanted singledom to a friend one evening – specifically the amount of unwanted explicit pictures I’d been sent on Tinder.
She said if I wanted to find a decent bloke I should ask my friends who actually knew me and stop leaving it to the fate of algorithms.
Something struck a chord, and I don’t mean the drunk guy hammering out ‘Agadoo’ on the wonky old piano in the corner of the pub.
It made me really think. If the internet couldn’t find me a man, maybe my squad could. The next day I posted this on Facebook:
As notifications began to flood my phone, I did a little sick in my mouth. “Flaming nora!,” I cried (to myself, not out loud, I was in Costa)
“People will think I’m sad and desperate!”
But, I was wrong. People were, without exception, lovely.
The post was shared hundreds of times, and my inbox and comments flooded with messages.
Friends giving testimonials as to how great they thought I was (they are wise), strangers tagging eligible men, women telling me I was ‘brave’ and ‘inspirational’ (thanks huns) and men sending lovely messages to introduce themselves and see if I’d be game to go for a date sometime.
The self-confidence boost I had been so lacking when it came to love and relationships was phenomenal.
I suddenly felt ‘good enough’ to go on dates with lovely, handsome men. I felt good on those dates, whereas before I’d been all dicky-tummied and word vomit. I felt as though I deserved to be there. Although no great love flourished, I was finally going on dates that made me feel good, not ones that made me think, ‘Oh well, it’ll be a funny story to tell.’
I’m on holiday in Australia. Killing some time between meeting pals, I was lurking on Facebook (as you do) and suddenly stumbled into a hidden inbox – a sort of ‘spam folder’ if you will.
Lo and behold, there was another batch of messages there that I had seemingly ignored for two months. One message in particular caught my eye.
His name was Ryan. He explained our mutual friend had suggested he message me to see if I fancied a drink sometime. He was laughing in all his profile pictures (in a charming way, not an ‘I’m a psycho Disney Villain’ kind of way) which immediately made me smile in turn.
So, we met. And within five minutes I knew it was him I’d been waiting for. Reach for the sick bucket if you like, but it’s honestly true. It was the first ever date I’d been on where I felt like I wasn’t playing a ‘version’ of myself. He didn’t even mind my word vomit.
And that was that. We’ve been inseparable ever since. So inseparable in fact, that on New Years Day 2018 during a country walk, he brought out a ring and asked if I’d spend the rest of my life with him. And reader, I accepted.
Finding the love of my life aside, I learned a huge amount from this whole experience. When it’s right, it’s easy and there’s no game playing. No wondering whether it’s too soon to text back, dissecting every conversation to find any hint as to ‘where you’re at’, no mixed signals – it just works. I learned that it’s not shameful to openly desire love and companionship.