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A few nights ago, I was counselling a friend of mine who was grieving the end of a 2 year relationship. My advice to her was to put herself out there. Embrace singlehood, get on Tinder and meet some good looking (?) men.

Her expression told me she didn’t take me seriously, but she then remarked: “I love how you’re still so positive about love in spite of your past experiences with men”.

“Past experiences with men”: 7 years of dating, the good, the bad, and the ugly, summed up in a neat phrase that sounded so very mature.

My love life has been a source of endless amusement (and sometimes concern) to my friends, my family, my parents’ friends, relatives and pretty much anyone else you can think of.

7 years is quite a while, and it’s been marked by my choices in men that I can only politely describe as…diverse.

I was a fairly awkward teenager (and I’ve carried that social anxiety with me through to my twenties), and my interactions with men were limited. Suffice to say, I wasn’t the epitome of grace and poise those days, waiting outside school so that I’d catch a glimpse of that guy I had a massive (still an understatement) crush on, only to stutter and make an ass of myself in front of him. Young love…sigh.

My first relationship (if you can call it that) was with perhaps one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. He was a drummer in a well known band, smelled amazing (!) and was lovely to me. I guess my 17 year old self didn’t know how to cope with the affection and I eventually had to admit to myself that unfortunately good cologne couldn’t be the basis of a strong relationship.

Soon enough, I met the (first) love of my life- again, such a good guy, The Bengali Intellectual, and I, the Rajma Eating Punjabi. We had a good run, only to figure out that no matter how much you tried, Rabindra Sangeet and Daler Mehndi would just not go together (I feel like I need to apologize for the metaphor, but you get the drift…).

Little did I know that my next heartbreak was just around the corner- the (second) love of my life, a man of few words (and I mean, REALLY few) with a fascination for guns and cars (yup, I told you it’s pretty diverse). I absolutely adored him, and perhaps my adoration spiralled into obsession and the few words he said to me quickly turned into zero.

That one took me a while, and some questionable decisions to move on from: the stoner with delusions of grandeur, the so-called ‘relationship ‘with a guy who had shockingly dismal knowledge of American Presidents (Kennedy? Who’s that?)… It’s an eclectic list.

A college internship led to the start of my longest relationship- I was (still) young and impressionable, he was older, smarter and charming. For the first time I felt like a real “grown up”, I felt like this could be it- but of course, it wasn’t. It was the first time I realized I couldn’t be with someone whose politics differed so vastly from mine. That ended rather badly but I remain thankful to him for some valuable life lessons (and for numerous plates of momos that were consumed in the many, many evenings I spent in his house)

A close friend then tried to set me up with The Doctor: my first blind date and for a change, I felt confident. My palms weren’t cold and sweaty and I walked into the restaurant and knew I’d have a great time. Several cocktails later, I knew I’d see him again, and I did. However, that fizzled out due to my own stupidity, because why be with a perfectly nice guy who you have a good time with, when you can pine over men who treat you like shit?

And then I moved to a new city: I was struck by the severe lack of men on campus and beyond, and decided to download Tinder (as detailed in an earlier post). I met someone, went on a few fun dates, (Netflixed and chilled?), but that met with a rather unfortunate and quick end.

The past year has been peppered with rather brief and disappointing encounters (except one or two :D) , yet I remain, like my friend said, positive.

If there’s anything I’ve gathered from my myriad experiences, it’s that every relationship has something to teach you. Honestly, there are a range of lessons to be learnt: from don’t date a guy when you can’t tell the difference between when he’s sober and when he’s high, to never date a man who belittles your achievements and makes you feel like you aren’t enough.

So yes, I continue to look forward to meeting new people, forming relationships (no matter how short lived), because I love the feeling of liking somebody, of being with someone. But I also now know that I am enough. There’s no such thing as a “better half”. We are all enough, by ourselves, just as we are.

Picture Courtesy: Dead Poets Society