Probably for almost as long as I've had this blog.
Every now and then, especially around Valentine's Day, the temptation has cropped up for me to write it. But I've never really gotten around to it.
For someone who, if you know me in real life, is a bit of a hopeless romantic, and for someone who, if you know me on social media, talks a hell of a lot about my life and things important to me on social media, then there's one thing that has remained largely absent from my posts...
And that's love.
Not love in a general sense. Familial love, or platonic love, features pretty heavily on my social media profiles and postings.
But anything relating to romantic love, certainly in relation to myself, then I've just not talked about it.
I suppose, there is an argument that says that the reason for that is that I've had nothing really to say.
And yet, by the same token, I've had quite a lot to say.
But, possessing the self-awareness that I do, then one of the things that always has stopped me writing such a blog post is the thought that, as a middle-class, straight, white man, with a wonderful, loving family, amazing friends, a good degree course, a nice part-time job, all that...
Well, I've often thought it might come across as a little ungrateful and self-indulgent to write a big post essentially saying "Woe is me, nobody loves me, I can't get a date..."
Okay, admittedly that's not strictly true. I have had relationships of sorts...just nothing really to write home about...
My "relationships" could be summed up as follows: Really sweet conversations, hugs, hanging out, first-dates-that-they-didn't-know-were-dates, nothing-really-happeneds, and Oh-this-might-actually-be-going-somewheres that then fizzled out within a week (made more embarassing by having excitedly told some friends about them).
Given that track record, it's probably unsurprising that I was starting to think it was physically impossible for anyone to really 'love' me in that way. People getting cold feet a week or two in isn't exactly an encouraging sign, even if they did maintain it was an issue more with them than me (which, clichéd though that is, I've had no reason to disbelieve in those circumstances). But still, a combination of that and just being flat-out turned down while asking people out did wonders for my self-confidence in the dating department throughout my teenage years, let me tell you...
What I never predicted, and it's daft in a way that I didn't, is ending up in a relationship with my best friend.
I think the first proper conversation I had with Mollie was when I bounded up to her after one of our lectures to compliment her on her impeccable taste in British sitcoms. One of our possible essay topics was to compare Blackadder or Fawlty Towers to commedia del'arte, and in the lecture on the subject, when this was announced as an essay question, Mollie audibly went "YES!".
Towards the end of second year though, Mollie was noticeably having more trouble with her mental health problems - during her time at university, Mollie was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and this made things incredibly tough for her. There were definitely moments, particularly as second year rolled into third year, where Mollie was really struggling, and she spent a good few nights crying into my shoulders - simply because she needed a friend, and I was there for her.
|Stu and I - We're very close...|
I am, and always have been, a bit of the ambivert in our house. I'd spend a few hours each evening up in my room, on my laptop, on social media, reading, watching TV, reading a book...and then I'd come downstairs and spend a bit of time with the housemates - usually Stu, Mollie and Dave.
When Stu moved out, the dynamic shifted. I was chatting to Mollie a lot more of an evening. We had Stand-Up Comedy together twice a week, and were working very closely together on it. We worked on many a presentation together, left the house together in the morning, went home together. And at times, when I've been struggling myself this year with looking after other friends who've struggled with their mental health, Mollie has been there for me - solid as a rock. My crutch and my support.
When New Year's Eve came around, who was one of the first people I called on the phone, as the clock struck midnight? Mollie. It says something about the closeness of our friendship and how I felt, and feel about her, that I rang her then.
It's hard really to work out why this all didn't happen a bit sooner. Knowing each other nearly three years, and living together for two, you'd think it would have. But no.
I suppose there are various reasons. The classic adage that you shouldn't "shit where you eat", if you'll pardon the language, probably was there in the backs of our minds. And yet, somehow, especially since the start of this year, we just kept getting closer and closer.
On the 3rd March, 2017, in the early hours of the morning, Mollie-Ann Star asked me to be her boyfriend.
I could not have been more thrilled to say yes.
Two months later, where do we stand?
And as I type this, on the eve of two months having elapsed, then Mollie is on her way back from an Ed Sheeran gig at the O2 (I know, I'm really jealous). But as Ed sang "How Would You Feel", she rang me, and sang along down the phone. I don't think I have ever felt so loved and appreciated, or had such a romantic gesture directed at me, and I sat bawling my eyes out because of how touched and moved I was. Two months in, she still know how to set me off...
I don't know what's going to happen in the future. This is still early days - and yet it's already the longest relationship I've ever been in, and right now I feel I have every cause to be optimistic. I'm having fun, I'm enjoying myself, I'm loving being in her company, and in a personal sense, I am truly, deeply, happy - and God knows, Mollie still keeps me sane.
And I can honestly say that, two months in, I have fallen even deeper in love with Mollie than I was at the start of our relationship.
After so many years of being rejected, of short-lived relationships that went nowhere, and wondering whether anyone could ever feel that way about me at all, I feel I've finally found a woman who loves and appreciates me for who I am. Who cares for me. Who I feel comfortable with.
You know when you're 16? And you have a crush on someone? And your stomach just turns and you go weak at the knees every time you talk to them?
I don't feel that way with Mollie. Yes, she sometimes still gives me butterflies, with that cute smile and her big, gorgeous eyes. But as I've said, the foundation of this relationship was that we were the best of friends, first and foremost. And so there's no awkwardness. No long pauses in conversation where we aren't sure what to say.
This is Mollie-Ann Star. My best friend, turned girlfriend. She's lovely, and down to earth, and hilarious, and amazing - and after years looking for someone, I found her right under my nose.
Yesterday was two months to the day since we got together.
I hope you get to meet her soon.
I love her.
And I hope you will, too.