The word “girlfriend” without a name attached to the beginning sounds emotionless and impersonal. It’s the name that precedes the title that supplies it with meaning, giving the title of “girlfriend” its identity. The installment of his name declares, “I am his.” My own name is not there, just my role: “girlfriend.” It all becomes about my relation to him. Ironically, being part of a couple means losing part of myself.
Choosing to be a girlfriend is my conscious way to avoid the loneliness of being with myself. By doing so I am lowering my guard and allowing someone else in. I am okay with exposing myself to someone else because it keeps me from exposing my true identity to myself. This conscience act of deferral is my favorite role to play. As a girlfriend I have taken on new sides of myself with each relationship. Once a means of evasion, entering relationships has also become an outlet for my minor acting passion. I can become a new Sara with every new boyfriend. This may sound slightly disturbed and manipulative, but I promise it is never a conscious thing. I truly believe the new traits I take on or his passions that I claim as my own. I have been a handful of different Saras in my life, each time rejuvenating a new sense of self while also losing any semblance of honesty.
I was in the 6th grade when all my friends became fixated on getting boyfriends. Suddenly everyone started to pair off. As I watched all my friends become part of a couple, my desire for a boyfriend of my own grew. After a week of whispers and he said she said conversations between everyone except my crush and me, I had a boyfriend. Brian (names will be changed from here on out) asked me out. Well technically he didn’t say the words, but Sam told me he liked me and I told Lindsey that I liked him and the decision was final: we were dating, which only works in the 6th grade. Brian was my first “boyfriend” and we never once hung out alone. Our lack of a connection didn’t matter. I was Brian’s girlfriend. The alliteration made me smile as the words rolled off my tongue. I was part of a couple for the first time, and defined myself by this. In spite of the fact we never had a private conversation, I referred to everything in the “we.” We were meant to be. We both had brown eyes, older siblings, and lived within a block of the school. It was destiny. One “date” (a chaperoned excursion with a group of friends to the movies) and four lunch periods later we broke up. The quickness of our relationship didn’t matter; for that one week I loved him. Well I puppy loved him, and claimed to really really like him! The break up was even less official than the initial decision to date had been. Brian fainted in the school play (he had locked his knees and lost blood circulation) and things went downhill from there. We started talking even less than we had before (if that was even possible) and we were soon both single again. I was devastated for a day, cried to my mom, thought my life would never go on, and then found a new and inconsequential relationship.
High school started and so did my search for the perfect boyfriend. In my mind, the next four years had already been mapped out for me by episodes of Saved by the Bell and I was determined to find my Zach Morris. Who I found sophomore year was more a combination of Zach with a heavy dose of Screech. Casey and I started dating halfway through the year and what started as a goofy friendship never evolved into anything else. For two months I was Casey’s girlfriend, the guy everyone loved to invite along for a good time and who insured laughter. Casey was the class clown, hardly taking himself seriously, and while I was with him my sense of humor multiplied. Dating the comedian meant people expected me to be funny. So I stopped taking myself so seriously and gave the audience what they wanted. In the two months that Casey and I were together we may have kissed once, but its awkwardness and uncomfortably led to no future make out sessions. As soon as my braces came off and the same old jokes stopped being funny, Casey and I broke up. I can’t say whether he dumped me or I dumped him, or perhaps it was the most mutual break up in history. It had been platonic from the beginning and it ended without a kiss or a tear shed.
The label that has stuck with me the longest was Andy’s girlfriend. I sometimes catch myself still thinking this is who I am and we broke up two years ago. My high school career ended with Andy and half my college experience was defined by him. For over three years I was his girlfriend. As the time progressed in Andy and my relationship I continued to fall. Whether I was falling for Andy or for the identity he gave me I cannot really be sure. In essence he offered me something I had never experienced before. He showed me that I was capable of being a part of a couple. Over the course of three years I came to find that I could work and function seamlessly as a part of a team. It all came to a halt the day I realized I wanted to just is on my own team.
When Andy and I ended I lost more than half of myself. I didn’t understand who I was anymore and what it meant to not be some one’s girlfriend. After a few months of the break up we eventually got back together because I wasn’t brave enough to stand-alone. He had become all I knew and I grew exhausted in the months we were separate trying to figure out who I was. Instead of trying to find myself, I fell back into the comfort that I knew and took up the role of girlfriend once again.
I managed to remain single for six months after Andy. I had an entire summer to myself. It was time I spent isolated and depressed, avoiding friends and watching myself fade into nothing. I was single and in my mind that made me worthless.
My solution? Date! This is when I met Henry, who I dated through most of Junior year. Only to break with him when my emotional health plummeted and I took time off school. Senior year brought Jamie. The rock star conservative type who pushed me to try new things and who I attached to because I was determined to meet a husband in college. Graduation rolled around and my moving to Ohio ended things. Home and single less than two months I met Greg. Online dating and insecurity combined to both create and finish that relationship.
So here I am. Single for sixty days. My two month threshold usually makes me antsy. I have been a Me for long enough to wonder if I work better as a We. For now the comfortable choice is not an option, I just need to keep reminding myself of that before I end up with the label of New Guy’s Girlfriend.