A friend of mine has just met a new Possible Someone. The timing isn’t great and she worries that ‘with my track record’ it’s all going to go disastrously wrong.
And I had a thought, which is this particularly profound little gem. Of my friends, aged between about 18 and about 22, I know one couple who have been together for five years, a smattering of people who have been together for over a year, and perhaps a gaggle more who have made it past a demi-anniversary as we speak. A vague guess (without doing any kind of mental headcount, so we’re going on that ‘it feels like all my friends are…’ feeling) would suggest that perhaps half to two-thirds of my friends are currently taken, which, actually, seems pretty high, but is also probably about right.
However, this ‘poor track record’ thing. I would say I have a poor track record with men. I’ve had one ‘proper’ relationship (which for argument’s sake can safely be said to have lasted roughly three months) and about five or six years of total fuckwittery before that. One of my friends, who went out with her first boyfriend when she was fourteen and lasted a few months, and is now onto her fourth at the age of eighteen, would probably also say that her track record wasn’t great, because four relationships means three break-ups which means in her terms at least three weeks of her life spent sobbing over jigsaws with the cats. Another of my friends spent two years with her first boyfriend and the subsequent two years being angry at him and wouldn’t exactly call herself lucky as far as men were concerned either. I could tell you similar stories for all of my friends – lots of short-lived relationships and heartbreak, a hideous tendency to fall for people who haven’t grown up enough to treat them with any decency yet, long-term serious relationships which broke down into protracted glimpses of hell-on-earth, weeks and months of anger and recriminations or sadness and heartbreak and drunken rebound sex, people who always fall for the unavailable or the best friend and who then spend the next year or five moping about it, whatever it is.
And I realised, that’s par for the course. We’re too young not to have a ‘bad track record’ for whatever reason. Most of us haven’t met whoever it is we’ll spend the rest of our lives with, or certainly don’t know it yet if we have. Some of us won’t even end up with that kind of relationship. The point is, at our age, having not met that person, it’s kind of inevitable that we will therefore meet other people who aren’t going to last and that’s going to be, basically, tough. We’re all unlucky in love – which surely means, really, that none of us are, not really. Or at least not most of us. It’s part of being the age we are that so far we’ve been hurt and we’ve had good times and bad and the balance, at the moment, if it can even be called that, swings towards the ‘bad’. That doesn’t mean that I know a bunch of depressive emos; because they’re not. Just that a lot of people I know would answer the question, ‘how is your love life’ with a derisive snort.
As for me, these days, I don’t feel unlucky at all. I’ve lived and I’ve got a lot out of everything I’ve experienced and there have been some great times as well as iconically awful moments where I’ve found myself crying far too loudly in the city park on the way home in the rain.
Basically, you don’t have a poor track record, you’re not unlucky, and what’s gone before cannot possibly inform what will be. You’ll be fine. Maybe, my dear, this amusing-haired coat-donating coursemate will whirl you off into the sunset; or maybe you’ll have a great few months and then one or other of you will cheat, or fall out of love, and so it goes on; or maybe it’ll come to nothing. It is how it is. Anyway, does that ‘particularly profound little gem’ make any sense…?