Monday, January 13, 2014


What If I Am Never Anyone's Shorty, and Other Fears

I might be single, but I am also allergic to cats. Life is full of surprises! I am 27 years old—when and how did this happen—and have had exactly three serious relationships my entire life. I’m not even sure if boyfriend #2 counts as a relationship, due to the fact that he cheated on me incessantly with not one but four of our coworkers. Nevertheless, after these three doomed relationships, and countless horrible dates (how could I forget the Russian who took me to the 99 Cent Store, or the tattooed hipster who showed up at my doorstep at two in the morning crying), I’m afraid that I have lost hope.

What if I never become anyone's Shorty?

Part of me has succumbed to a life of being single. I have my routine. I go to my local Trader Joes at an awkward enough hour that no one will ever see me (10am or 8:45pm) and buy so much dessert that the cashier will always, without fail, tell me to have fun at my party. I sleep with a facemask, pee with the door open, and flush every other time. I leave dishes out. Sometimes I let bananas get fruit flies. I only shower, shave, and wash my face for special occasions. Somewhere along the way, I’ve become a caricature of the single lady, with only the cats not included, and part of me likes it.

The other part, though, secretly wants to buy a boyfriend pillow. The other part sometimes spoons a giraffe stuffed animal that was given to me as a present to cure my crippling loneliness. Sometimes after several days alone in my apartment I’ll talk to myself or make up songs about what I’m doing (my album I’m Eatin’ a Meatlovers Pizza and Watchin’ Real Housewives drops in March). I find myself actually feeling guilty about sometimes, maybe, just for a second, not wanting to be alone. 

As it tends to, the process of looking for reasons leads me nowhere. I might have a lazy eye, a fivehead, a pronounced nose, and hair that has been ravaged by extensions, but you know what: I look okay. I have above-average intelligence, despite the findings of an online IQ test that found me to be legally brain dead, and a pretty good sense of humor. I have a good family. Why is it so difficult for me to find a good, normal man?

I have met guys at bars, in clubs, from mutual friends. I had a one-day stint on OKCupid that was so terrifying I unplugged my Wifi for a week. I met my last boyfriend on Twitter after drunkenly sending him a direct message. I have chatted up virtual (get it) strangers on Facebook on the sole basis of finding them attractive, and even had a date that stemmed from an Instagram comment. But at the end of the day, they were all a bunch of freak-of-the-weeks. Nothing sticks.

That’s when I came to the hardest and most logical conclusion of my life: it’s me. And not in the “I’m not ____ enough, I need to ____” way, because that is all bullshit. But I unknowingly bring so much drama, baggage, and expectations to the table that it has damaged every relationship I’ve ever had, and my friendships too. I don’t know how to be vulnerable or affectionate, I hide behind walls (and computers), and I’m incredibly selfish and demanding. I do not know how to give or receive lovingly—intimacy makes me uncomfortable. I pretend not to care to prevent getting hurt. Why am I surprised nothing has ever worked out? There is so much home improvement I need to do on myself before I can attract, and deserve, the kind of adult, committed, healthy relationship that I want. I’m not ready.

So, how do I even go about this so-called self-improvement? As silly as it sounds, I’ve made some resolutions, and I plan on sticking to them. I’ve learned that the best way to improve yourself is through small, achievable and esteemable acts. I make my bed every morning. I sit on a bench by the harbor and read for 20 minutes a day. I’ve made it a point to contact old friends I’ve lost touch with. I tip more at restaurants. I ask people how they are and I listen for their answer. I’ve started flossing.

So maybe I will never be anyone’s Shorty. But along the way, I’m hoping to at least fall in love with myself.

Alison Segel is an aspiring writer from Los Angeles, California. She recently dyed her hair pink and attributes it to her quarter life crisis and Mercury being in retrograde (is Mercury always in retrograde?). She cannot keep a cactus alive, and a boy once told her this means she is “less nurturing than the desert.” You can follow her on Twitter @OnlineAlison or on her website.

31 Comments / Post A Comment


i hear that L.A. is one of the more difficult places for a women to find herself a shorty, so keep on keepin' on! sounds like you are taking the best and only possible tack in addressing the situation. warm wishes!

for courage and learning to be a better person on one's own alone, i recommend barbara dodson's Cassandra at the Wedding!


@harebell I live in L.A., and I agree with this statement. The entire population suffers from a deadly combination of vanity, insecurity, ambition and completely reasonable unwillingness to sit in one's car for an hour minimum to go get a $15 cocktail (after which you are trapped with an asshole until you have metabolized the alcohol). Awwwww I am part of the problem!


Very well done this article!@j


Cacti are some of the most difficult plants to keep alive, even for experienced gardeners. If you keep killing your kalanchoe, you might have a nurturing problem, but the cactus is not sufficient evidence. That boy sounds like a dick.


In my experience, love is not a thing that arrives on the doorsteps of the worthy like an overnight Amazon Prime order. So while I completely support decisions to tip more, floss, read outdoors, and generally treat yourself with kindness, don't convince yourself that no one will love you until you're perfect, because most of the time people fall in love with you for being imperfect.


Three relationships by the time you're 27 actually seems completely average and not at all anomalous to me?


@Kath 3+a bunch of one-off dating.


@Kath Yeah, I hesitated on that point. At least in my group of friends (small sample size ~ 10) that's definitely above average.

or Elsa!

I go to my local Trader Joes at an awkward enough hour that no one will ever see me (10am or 8:45pm) and buy so much dessert that the cashier will always, without fail, tell me to have fun at my party. I sleep with a facemask, pee with the door open, and flush every other time. I leave dishes out. Sometimes I let bananas get fruit flies. I only shower, shave, and wash my face for special occasions.

All but two of those things are true of me* and yet I am the worthy recipient of romantic love. I just had to find the person who loves me, not some imaginary idealized version of me, and whom I love in the same way.

I did, of course, have many years of single life during which:

A) I decided I'd rather be alone forever than live with someone who doesn't like me;
B) I learned how to moderate my own habits as a courtesy to housemates, which was great training for living considerately with a partner.

*fun guessing game ensues.


@or Elsa! Ooh ooh! You...don't buy dessert at TJs at random hours and you flush more than every other time?

or Elsa!

@angelinha Oh, golly, I'm for sure not going to specify which of those habits are mine, except that I CANNOT LET THIS SLANDER STAND: more than once, the cashier at TJ's has cast an eye over my cart and said "Looks like a great party!" when I was just stocking up on sweets, salties, cheap wine, and weird sodas.

apples and oranges

@or Elsa! Just as you shouldn't ask a lady whether she's pregnant, you shouldn't tell someone at the grocery checkout that you hope they have a good party. NEW RULE.

chickpeas akimbo

@or Elsa! yeah I pretty much do all of this stuff, or similar. Anyone who thinks I am gonna shave daily JUST BECAUSE is gonna have a rude fuckin' awakening, let me tell you.


@chickpeas akimbo I like to aim for shaving quarterly.


@apples and oranges
Bonus - if you go through the line looking pregnant, they do not mention your party.


@or Elsa! Those are also the only good things to BUY at TJ's, pretty much. It's not like I'm shopping for produce there.


Most of this post describes me, including a Labbit stuffie (see pic) my ex gave me that I still cuddle to sleep. Don't judge, it's TOO CUTE to give up. Lately I've been so busy with my hobbies and fantasizing about kicking ass in the various sport events that I do, I'm so glad I'm single as I don't have to compromise on reaching those goals. Well maybe except for the lack of sex.
My ex used to talk about typical guy dreams like building his own house, living outside the city, touring the world on motorbikes, etc., and I would try to figure out how to fit myself into his dreams, when really I should be thinking of all the adventures I want to embark on as well.
Then I got a motorcycle during my quarter life crisis. No regrets.


@lucia_engel Huh, I am currently dating somebody who talks a lot about building a house and it creeps me out. If he talked motorcycle I would conceivably try to poke him in the eye to shut him up.

That is not germane to my point which is that giraffe spooner: Are you sure you feel 'guilty' about wanting to be in a couple? For years, I felt ashamed (not guilty) whenever I admitted even for a second that I wanted a functional relationship. It took years, and a few dineros worth of therapy, before I realized that my shame about wanting a partner was actually fear of being vulnerable. Based on your last three paras (ie; posturing about being afraid of intimacy etc..) you sound a bit similar. It's a very intimate thing opening yourself up to strangers via an article on the Hairpin, so you have the courage to tell a person you want to be their shorty, just be patient and wait until somebody who is worthy of having you as their shorty comes along. It will happen, I know 27 feels all used up, but take it from a 36 year old. The years just keep getting more intimidating but people will love you no matter how old you are.
PS; annoying house-talker happens to be my soul-mate I am pretty sure, and I am jazzed as shit to be his shorty and I thought I would be humping a long pillow for the rest of my natural life. Trust. You sound lovely, just be patient.


I love this. I'm a 28-year-old lady who just moved from LA to Chicago (as in, this week). I found it SO difficult to meet people in LA, it was a super isolating place to be. But you seem like you've got a good attitude about it, and I nodded along to most of this entire essay. <3


This'll sound super dumb, but I encourage you to go back on OkCupid. Yes, you'll get inundated with terrifying messages, but you'll also hear from some good ones, and if you message guys who catch your eye first, you'll have even better results. Two of my cousins (27 and 30) met their husbands on OkCupid, and I (20) have met some wonderful guys. Don't give up on it yet.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

"But I unknowingly bring so much drama, baggage, and expectations to the table..."

This sounds a lot like what I've been going through. I'm somehow finding myself on the cusp of a relationship(?), which by the way came as a total surprise, and a few of these worries are just even more intensified as a result of it. I guess it's just kind of a relief to know that other people are having these same thoughts.


I always had problems with intimacy in relationships. I was afraid of being hurt or rejected and more than one guy told me he had no idea what I was thinking or feeling most of the time. So I had a bunch of therapy to deal with that, since I wasn't happy and was very afraid of ending up alone due to my bullshit. One night over a decade ago I had a dream that ended with me getting a heart tattoo on a visible part of my body. I interpreted that as a reminder to work on being emotionally available and open with people I cared about. The next day I got a heart tattooed on the part of my body where it appeared in my dream. A few weeks later I met the guy I would marry.

...It's still work, though. I still have to look at the tattoo sometimes and remind myself why it's there.


Ugh, this is so me. I've had to come to terms with the fact that is largely my fault that I barely date at all. Emotional intimacy = my Waterloo. Therapy is helping, bit by tiny bit.

But I do have good experiences through OKC. I get my share of "hello gorgeous" emails that get mass sent, of course, but I've never gotten anything creepy or inappropriate. Most are tailored to my profile and engagingly written. And even though I have on there that I'm such a WW2 history geek that I've done pinup photoshoots, the only time that comes up is when guys ask me about my favorite aspect of the war. I mean, seriously? I am both super lucky and sort of feeling like I'm being left out!


@sydwi You sound like a perfect match for my ex! You probably aren't in the DC area, though, otherwise I'm sure you would have found each other on OKC.


I am 30 and am in the first real relationship of my life, because humans are awful and I don't like them. Actually being with someone I care about and letting them care for me blows chunks everyday...yet... it is worth it. I miss being single, though. And we met on OKCupid, after all the people I met through friends of friends turned out to be awful dicks who would dump people they'd been dating for a couple of months by not responding to texts, and then posting pictures of breakfasts they were eating with some lady, who would make comments like "That breakfast is almost as yummy as you!" Okay, maybe that was only one guy. But learn from me... you don't have to be perfect, and maybe give OKCupid another shot?


"I might be single, but I am also allergic to cats. Life is full of surprises! I am 27 years old—when and how did this happen—and have had exactly three serious relationships my entire life."

Well then. May as well just give up! You're over the hill! Expired. Nigh thee to Carrousel, renew, and try again.


@Brunhilde I am old and cranky. Apologies.


@Brunhilde I think it's always easy to forget, when you feel like life is passing you by, that life is long and by and large doesn't have many deadlines.

But you're welcome to come sit on my porch and gripe about kids these days. I'll even make cocktails.


You are going about this in all the right ways. Get yourself where you want to be…not perfect, just where you want to be. Nothing else needs to be said. You nailed it!

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