Your twenties was a time of sexual awakenings, sexual mistakes and sexual fantasies that awkwardly became realities wasn’t it? At least mine was. I think, in some way, everyone’s was.
One of the most memorable moments was the agonising crushes. The does he like me or is he like this with everyone? Question. Will it ruin everything if I ask him out. Surely he knows I like him so if he hasn’t done anything about it he must not be interested? Or maybe he’s scared in case it ruins everything? Maybe he doesn’t know I like him? Am I even his type? How does he view me? OMG he’s so perfect I could just die.
As agonising as those crushes were, they were the all consuming romances that ate up our time and our conversations. We would sit with our friends, talking it to death over a bottle of wine (or four), hypthosing the outcome of all of the hypothetical situations and conversations we might find ourself in with our crush. And more often than not, never act on any of the advice, or well thought out plans or firmly – made ‘I’ve moved off the wine to vodka’ decisions.
My question is, when did that stop?
I can remember who my last crush was. I was 27. He was 25. His name was Owen. A 6 foot something, six pack, lip pierced, long-haired God that I had met on Plenty of Freaks (ahem, sorry, Fish), who was only ever meant to be a bit of fun, and by fun I mean Friday night booty call. Of course, in my head, it quickly became more. And his name was never far from my lips when the topic of men or crush material came up. The crush may have become a bit of an obsession, OK, it became a full – blown obsession (I’m talking making YouTube videos of the two of us together here), and the constant agonising over whether he would ever ask me to be more than a Friday Night Girl was painful, and destructive, and unhealthy, but it made me feel alive, it made me hope and want for something, it made me feel like a Girl. It also made me a bit of a mug, and looking back I was nothing short of a delusional fool, but that’s another story.
At 32, I can look back at that crush and laugh. Now that I’m engaged to a man who actually notices and cares that I’m alive, in a healthy, loving, and grown – up relationship, I can scoff at the silly little girl who crushed for over a year on a man who didn’t want or deserve her attention. And I can’t imagine, in my wildest dreams, ever feeling that way about someone again, or rather allowing myself to waste so much time on someone like that again.
One theory I have about this is that by the time we reach our 30s we have firmly drawn the lines that we will base our ethics, morals and actions inbetween. In our 20s sleeping with a married man was just a naughty tale to tell your bff about on Monday morning over the ‘why the fuck am I awake at this time of day’ coffee. There was no accountability or guilt. And the guy you went on a date with three weeks ago who still hadn’t called yet was still a potential bf, instead of dumped in the ‘loser, don’t answer him even if he does ever call again’ pile like he should have been. The lines were blurry. It was all about the chase, being chased and the crack. (For any foreign readers ‘crack’ is a word we use in the UK to describe having a good time, it does not mean I was on drugs).
In your 30’s you’ve become almost clinical in your choices. Did he call within two days? No? Then he’s not interested. Move on.
Does he have a wife? Yes? Then he’s not fair game. Move on.
Has he told you that he likes you and would like to take things further? No? Then you have two options: forget him and move on or tell him how you feel, and if he doesn’t respond accordingly, forget him and move on.
Is there any point in crushing on the hot guy from the legal department in work if you’re engaged? No. Nothing can happen so what’s the point.
Our brains are full, and information and interactions starts being viewed on a ‘do i need to know or remember this?’ basis.
There’s no time to crush on Matt from legal anymore, you’re too busy trying to figure out how you’re going to incorporate your ‘things to do before I’m 30’ list into your ‘things to do before I’m 40’ list, largely because you spent your 20s either procrastinating, agonising over your crush, or with your ankles up around your ears. And I can’t help but wonder, have we just got sensible, or have we lost something special? As dysfunctional as the crush is, isn’t there something beautiful about the element of hope, the desire for something that in your mind is pure and beautiful? Have we stopped wanting?
Personally, I’m happier now. I’m happy waking up to my gorgeous fiancé and knowing that he loves me more than any other woman in the world. I’m happy not sitting in my bedroom listening to ‘sad FM’ wondering if he will call. I’m happy that when I look towards my future, I can picture what it will look like and that he will be in it. These things make me secure and they make me feel like I’ve nailed at least one area of my life down.
But there’s a part of me that wonders if that little girl who hopes, has gone forever.
Side note: I’m aware this post makes it sound like I spent my 20’s either in bed, in lust, or boiling bunnies. I did other things too! I spent 5 years in a domestic abuse relationship (not exactly an achievement but a HUGE life learning curve). Went to the USA on a mini road trip twice and went back to university and got my degree. I’ve had a full life so far. This was just a reflection on a small part of it.