Why Won’t Anyone Love Me?

When I come home from college for Christmas break, my mother picks me up from the airport, along with spicy vegan noodles from my favorite local Chinese restaurant. As the noodles fill my belly and I share memories from the past semester, I can see the happiness in my mother’s eyes as she looks up from the road to show she’s listening. I want this drive to last forever, for the warm sounds of my mother’s laughter at my self-indulgent stories to remain trapped in the car. The flavor of the noodles stains my taste buds and I can’t imagine ever asking for more.  

But then my mother asks, “So, how are boys? Do you have a boyfriend yet?”,  and I’m reminded that the love I thought was fulfilling isn’t; that the love I thought I had within my grasp is not good enough. Familial love is not what I’ve been told valuable love is, so I’m forced to wonder: when will I be loved? Why won’t anyone love me? Why won’t anyone wait outside my room window in the pouring rain with a boombox, risking hypothermia in order to declare their devotion in a suitable manner? What about me is so abhorrent that no man will interrupt me with a passionate kiss conveying their passionate affection for me? Even during instances such as this when I think the ultimate question is answered, when I believe that I am loved, that age-old voice born from romcoms and Jane Austen novels whispers, “are you?”

I’ve always done all that I was told to earn love: flirted like a true coquette at parties; gave blowjobs when I didn’t want to; had snapchat streaks with guys who barely held my interest; dialed myself down to be an “easy” girl; toned down my complexities to be the girl who will solve all their problems, who will listen, who won’t be difficult. I read the rulebook, and I followed the directions precisely, so why won’t anyone love me?

All that I do is subconsciously laced with the hope that someone will notice me and fall madly in love with me. When I’m doing things I like- walking down the street in a killer outfit, browsing in bookstores, taking the train to new places in the city- they are tainted with the unwanted yet persistent desire to be interesting enough to catch someone’s eye. What more must I do to be loved? According to all my favorite movies and books, I should have someone deeply in love with me by now, someone who I love back, yet here I am unloved.  

My entire life, I’ve been told by tabloids declaring an actress’s life over because her husband left her, by romcoms glamorizing the woman who sacrifices her career to be with the man who is deeply in love with her, and by novels idealizing the heroine who sacrifices her ideals and values in order to love the “misunderstood bully,” that romantic love is to be sought after and cherished at all costs. While the love I have for my family and friends and the love that they have for me is valid, it is not romantic love and thus cannot be wholly satisfactory on its own.  Of course, this is not the case and it shouldn’t be expected of anyone, especially the women who are forced to believe that they are not enough if they have not found a spouse. Women are neither unhinged nor unlovable for not being romantically engaged; they have families and friends and animals that love them, and they should not be vilified for having nonsexual love as their only source of affection. I, for one, am perfectly happy with the karaoke sessions I have with my friends, with the thoughtful gestures done by my family, with the countless ways my body makes sure I stay healthy, and with the myriad of other ways people show me that I am loved, and I refuse to use romantic love as my only form of validation.