I'm 32 And Have Never Been In Love

Photo: Christin Lola / Shutterstock
woman meditating in sunset

Here’s the thing: I’ve never been in love. At 32, that seems like a big deal and it’s taken on this fictional, unreal quality to it.

Being in love is something that happens to other people.

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It’s something to read about in books or sing along to on the radio, but it’s not something I’ll ever experience.

I’ve experienced love, to be sure. I have friends that have been in my life longer than they haven’t, and I don’t know how not to love them. I have a best friend who came into my life unexpectedly and has taught me more about love and friendship than I thought possible.

I have a godson that I love so much, I want to shout it at him every time I see him. I have family that loves hard and is a bit awkward at times.

I’m more attached to my animals than is probably socially appropriate.

So I’ve got love, but I’ve never been in love.

When I was younger, I watched everyone around me fall in love (or, more realistically, lust).

I read about it in books, tried to plan it out in my head, and shape what this eventual love would look like for me.

I’d pick different aspects from books and movies, and parse them out until I had built myself a little patchwork love map.

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I liked the bits about having been in love for decades and decades. I liked the parts about someone else knowing me almost better than I knew myself. I’d dream about a faceless love who knew about the freckle on my left pinky.

I’d keep these parts secreted away for someone else to discover — little meaningless details that I’d build up in my head.

I’d keep adding to it as time went on. Storing these little phrases or ideas away to put to use at a later date. 

It’s silly to think about now and probably even then, because that’s not how love works, right? 

But it made me feel in control of something I have no control over. Something I could point to and say, “Ah! This is it! This is what being in love looks like, feels like.”

But a later date never came. I went through my teen years and I went through college, and now here I am, firmly planted in my thirties and I’ve never come close to needing the little love map I’d made when I was a child.

Over the years, I’ve mentally marked things out, whittling the list down and scratching things off that wouldn’t work anymore.

High school sweethearts? Out. Friends turned lovers? Out. Having been together longer than we haven't? Probably out.

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But despite knowing it’s foolish, I still keep that love list squirreled away, just in case. 

And it’s a weird feeling sitting on the outside of being in love. At this point, it’s not even a sad feeling; it just feels more like something that happens to other people, like winning the lottery or having siblings.

I know love happens.

I even know people that have experienced it but try as hard as I can, it just doesn’t seem like something that I'll ever experience.

Is it something I want to experience? Sure.

Is it something I still read about, sing along to, and watch in the movies with hope, awe, and longing? Yes.

But it's still not something I can fully see for myself.

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Shireen Dadkhah is a freelance writer, photographer, and blogger who writes about depression and her relationship with it.