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Breaking away from Boyfriends: On campus and single

My name is Jessica, and I’m a recovering addict. It’s not what you think – I don’t crave hard drugs or gamble excessively. I do drink, but I’m far from wanting to curb my quietly raging alcoholism. No, my real addiction (now fortunately in remission) is far more insidious, more emotionally damaging and yet more socially acceptable. The thing I can’t live without is a boyfriend.

I’m not trying to say that I’m madly in love with one man. Any boy will do, really. It’s the relationship itself I crave. I seem to have been born a serial monogamist. Neither of my parents display such a tendency; it must be a recessive trait. It’s also not something I picked up by hanging around with the wrong crowd. None of my friends seem to share my irrepressible need to be attached to someone else.

It’s only quite recently that I’ve begun to recognize and actively fight my addiction. It started innocently enough. My first romance was with a friend-turned-high-school-sweetheart-turned-best-friend that ended up lasting an epic three years. By the time I hit campus, this was the only guy I had ever been with, physically and emotionally. Our breakup sophomore year was tough, but it was a long time coming. I was young, restless and totally stoked to be a single co-ed.

A mere three weeks later, I started seeing a guy I met at work. Two weeks flickered by at breakneck speed and before I knew it, we were serious. For 18 dreary, protracted, sex-filled months, I was convinced that he was “the One.” It took several attempts before I managed to finally wrest myself out of that relationship. Each time we broke up, I was astonished to find that I was even more wretched without him than I was when he was there. Call it love. So a couple of weeks would pass and we would get back together, only to breakup again, thus ensnaring ourselves in a truly moronic and incomprehensible cycle of misery.

It was easy to claim that we were star-crossed lovers, always fighting, never in the same place in life, but unable to live without each other. Really though, I just couldn’t bear being alone. Disregard the fact that I’ve never actually been alone in life, or that I have plenty of marvelous friends to occupy my time and to serve as the recipients of my adoration and affection. There’s just something about being in a couple, being part of an exclusive pair, without which I have been unable to function.

With painful tardiness, I eventually wised up to this unpleasant fact about myself. Shortly thereafter, I gave my woefully mismatched companion the boot once and for all and set about the task of becoming a single girl in earnest.

Overcoming my unfortunate urges has not been easy. Step one was admitting I had a problem. Check that off the list. What comes next? Per my stoic, Appalachian-style upbringing, step two would be to suck it up and stop having that problem, starting immediately. This two-step program is not particularly helpful for the weak-willed, but it is a lot faster than the exhaustive modern 12-step approach, which involves searching moral inventories, acknowledging higher powers, issuing uncomfortable apologies and things of that ilk.

Thus, I set about quitting love cold turkey. It turned out to be a

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if(document.getElementById(“hideMe”) != null){document.getElementById(“hideMe”).style.display = “none”; document.getElementById(“hideMe”).style.width = “0px”; document.getElementById(“hideMe”).style.height = “0px”;} lot more difficult than giving up smoking. At first, I just couldn’t help becoming hopelessly enamored with whatever guy happened to saunter past. This simply would not do. Of course, I didn’t want to miss out on all the hedonistic pleasures life has to offer the modern young adult. But at the same time, I had to somehow avoid developing excessive emotional attachments to my partner in the pursuit of debauchery. 

It has been a tricky predicament, but not an impossible one to overcome. For example, I have discovered (inadvertently, of course) that an easy way to become physically intimate with someone without becoming emotionally involved is to do the former deed with someone you’ve only just met. This is particularly helpful if you’ve somehow skipped the whole name-exchanging, introduction part of meeting, which I can cop to doing. 

However, this porridge has grown cold.

I therefore devoted the summer to finding a balance between being an emotional slut and a regular slut, with wavering degrees of success. I left campus and returned to my parents’ abode, leaving behind a couple of false-starts from my last weeks at UMass. Going out every weekend afforded me plenty of opportunity to meet eligible bachelors, and meet them I did. A whole range of men, none of whom particularly struck my fancy until I met a certain film student at a party. He turned out to be my first real fling, and while I have a feeling I’m going to be listening to a lot of Don Henley in the coming weeks, I somehow managed to keep things reasonably casual. Does this mean I’m healed? Probably not – only time will tell. With a brand new semester on the horizon and my first baby steps towards normalcy a success, only one thing is certain: this story is far from over.

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