Two years ago today, I found myself suddenly single.
OK, so I guess it wasn’t that sudden. I’d known it was going to happen more than a month earlier. And I wasn’t that certain I was single either. In August, we had been planning to split up, but by the third week in September, it was something more of a trial separation. Neither of us wanted to go our separate ways, but life … it happens.
The next few months – well, several months, actually – were unbelievably hard. I was still struggling to come to terms with, first of all, the death of my beautiful Sam in June, and then Milly’s death less than two months later, and now I found myself totally alone.
But not really totally alone. I had Jimmy and Luna, I was feeding Zack and Harry, and I’d already arranged to adopt Rufus. But my whole family, my family of the last 11 years, was gone, and I was left trying to salvage something from the mess.
It took over 6 months for me to come to terms with the fact that it really was over. I even considered going back to the UK in an attempt to recover our relationship. But I finally had to admit it wasn’t going to happen. Once I’d got over hating being single more than I loved living in Spain, I started to remember why I’d wanted to live in Spain in the first place. Plus, spring came, and then summer, and once the sun came out, I started to wonder what ever possessed me to want to go back to cold, rainy England.
But I was still single, and I didn’t like it.
I created profiles on a couple of dating sites. One was exclusively for gays and lesbians, so I presented myself as looking for a female partner. The other was a more general site, and there I set up my account to say I was looking for a male partner. The truth was, I didn’t care. I don’t connect with people based on their gender. I’m attracted to interesting people, to people I can relate to, and it makes no difference what bits they have between their legs.
But there was the sex thing. This was going to be a new relationship, so I was going to have to do the sex thing. I considered it coolly and analytically:
“Lesbian bed death is a real thing. I’ll probably have to have sex with a female partner for 2 years at the most, and then it will – kind of – stop happening. I’ll just have to get through those first 2 years.
But a woman doesn’t always need to be so active in sex with a male partner. I can just be submissive sexually, so all I have to do is tolerate it and fake an orgasm occasionally.”
My logical, analytical mind preferred the second option, but inwardly, I could feel myself cringing in horror at what I was proposing. I hated being single, and desperately wanted some human company, but if the price was forcing myself to have sex and pretending I enjoyed it … I didn’t think I could bring myself to do it.
Then, one day, I found myself scouring profiles on the gay dating site, wondering if I could possibly find someone for me, and I accidentally clicked on a profile belonging to someone less than half my age. And there it was – asexual. I googled it, and finally everything started to make sense.
It’s now 2 years since I broke up with my ex, and everything has changed.
Am I happy being single? Yes – for now.
If the right person came along, would I enter another relationship? Yes, without hesitation.
But what are the chances of finding the right person for me? Pretty low, I think.
We get pickier as we get older, we get set in our ways, we’re more selective about who we’re willing to spend our time with. And asexuality is one of those “new fangled” ideas that mostly gets talked about on places like Tumblr. Most of the people in the FaceBook group where I like to hang out are half my age. Finding someone my own age who also identifies as asexual is likely to be hard.
People say age doesn’t matter, and it doesn’t matter … except when it does. Would I date someone who could be my son or daughter? Would they date someone who could be a parent? Even if we were fine with that, would we have anything in common, or did the world change so much in the two decades between my childhood and theirs that we have no frame of reference?
I don’t really know the answers to any of those questions, but what I can say is that two years single is something to celebrate. I’ve learnt far more about myself in those two years than in the 11 years that preceded them, and if being single is what it took, then so be it.