More than a Boyfriend

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By  Ma. Doreen Era E. Murata, The FORUM for Family Planning and Development

There is a dormant part of me that always longs to be in a relationship. I miss the feeling of hugging someone tight, especially when the weather gets cold: when I am surrounded by couples getting sweet and mushy, when the night sky is filled with the colorful bursts of fireworks, and during those ‘down’ moments when I feel so bad that I yearn for the warm hugs and kisses that would make things better. And yet, here I am, single and uncommitted with Christmas looming around the corner.

I was totally cool with being single. (Heck, being single for a year is already a record for our generation.) I was, until I got this pesky series of text messages from a close friend. The SMS exchange went like this:

Friend: Sis, where u at?
Me: Home. Not feeling well. Don’t feel like going out.
Friend: U take meds na?
Me: Done na. Anything I can do to help you?
Friend: Nah. Who’s with u there?
Me: Myself, who else. I live alone, remember?
Friend: So, still single and uncommitted, ei?
Me: Yeah. Thankfully, I am.
Friend: What’s wrong with you?!
Me: Except that I am sick, nothing. Why?
Friend: Well, why are you still single? You’re good-looking (not beauty queen material but good enough ) and you’ve got the brains ( when you decide to use it, rarely) and yet you’ve been single for A YEAR!!!??? What the hell is wrong?

My friend’s text message awoke in me certain thoughts that had remained dormant for some time. Is there something wrong with me? Am I unattractive? Have I lost all that charm and appeal that I used to carry wherever I go? I know it’s selfish to have thoughts like that. And, more so, it’s also a very petty issue to think about. But yes, it triggered in me deeply buried insecurities and fears. So, there. I lay in my bed and pondered the earth-moving question of, “Why am I single and loveless this Christmas?”

And if that wasn’t enough, I got this text message again from a guy I knew: “You up? Can we meet? I miss you. I’m tired with (girlfriend/ex-girlfriend’s name here) She’s so unlike you.”

To which I immediately replied: “Okay. Yeah. See you at the Tea House in an hour.”

On my way there, I pondered some thoughts. Why do I even bother to go out with this guy when I know for myself that it’s not going to be easy since he’s in a messy, complicated relationship with another girl? Why do I love getting myself associated with men whose habits are so contrary to mine? Why do I end up each day feeling miserable when the bed turns out to be (again) my solitary companion for the night? Am I being clingy or needy or pathetic for being like this? Am I not being an empowered woman for feeling this way? All these questions were driving me crazy and it was probably visible on my face because the first thing the guy asked me when I arrived was: “Dora, are you okay? You need anything?”

“I’m fine,” I replied. “But a glass of cold water will do.”

So there we sat, lotus position and knees almost touching, surrounded by the sound of water from the makeshift fountain. We ate, talking quietly and slowly as the day turned into night. I enjoyed his company. I liked the sweet way he treated me, but I still kept in mind that I am a woman who knows how to take care of herself and that I don’t like being treated as weak or helpless.

As the night progressed and our conversation got deeper, a realization hit me. I can’t be with this guy–or any other guy, for that matter. Not now. Not while I am still in the process of finding and knowing myself. Not when I am at that point of letting my family know that they are my priority, that they are far more precious than any other strange man that might enter my life. Besides, I don’t want to get entangled again with a guy with a messy and complicated situation.

As I kissed him on the cheek when he brought me home, I held his hand and said, “I appreciated your company. I loved exchanging stories with you and the good laughs we shared, but I don’t think I will go out with you again. Maybe, when you’re totally free, I may be amenable to going out with you again.”

So, I am single and loveless this Christmas. Maybe that will be the case for more Christmases to come. But I will no longer wrack my brain figuring out why because I already did. I am more than satisfied with the people in my life. I am overflowing with love from my family and friends, and I am happily journeying in life showered with good thoughts and actions. I need not feel alone.

I know now that, if ever, I will need more than a simple boyfriend. I need an individual who will help me grow as a better woman, with due recognition of my rights, my strengths, my weaknesses. and my womanhood.

My Christmas wish is for every young Filipino to realize that being in a relationship is not the be-all and end-all in life.

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