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When I was in junior high, you always knew when two people started dating, because they were always together. They sat next to each other at lunch. If they had a class together, they sat next to each other and passed notes, or they met up in the hallway between class, or they snuck out with a hall pass to meet up in some covert stairwell. They were together after school and on weekends, at parties and at football games. That’s just how people dated in junior high.

It never ceases to amaze me when people do it as adults, and it makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me because I don’t think I’ll ever love someone enough to make them my life. I don’t think I’ll ever love someone enough to forget about my friends or my hobbies or my need for personal space.

I’ve fallen madly in love with people before, but I’ve never wanted to spend every minute of my spare time with them. I’ve never been a hiberdater.

In fact, living alone for the past three years has made me wonder how I will negotiate living with someone again. Will I need to date an ER surgeon or a lawyer? Someone who works massively long hours or travels regularly? Or just live in a big enough house that I can have my own wing? Or, maybe most radical of all, will I date someone who enjoys time alone and the occasional separate activity?

About a year ago, I introduced two of my single friends to each other. It seemed like a great idea at the time. Maybe they’d hit it off, find love and happiness and sexual fulfillment, and, at the same time, the three of us could continue hanging out, together and as pairs.

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What I failed to anticipate was the pull of hiberdating, the junior high-ness that lurks long after the last Trapper Keeper is gone. Rather than strengthening my friendship with these two lovebirds by bringing them together, I ended up losing them both. I could have sent out an Amber Alert for all the good it did me. They were gone, lost to each other’s love, lust, and enthusiastic co-dependence.

A year later, there has yet to be a flare, a sign, a note in a bottle washed up on shore. The only clue that they are still alive are the photos (and more photos) of the two of them in various stages of bliss all over Instagram.

Hiberdating’s claws cling deep and don’t let go.

Which makes me wonder, am I still trapped in junior high? Is it a state of mind that never fully goes away? Is this how real life (and real love) operates? And if so, how will I ever make love work for me? Because, no matter how awesome you are, I don’t think I’ll ever like you that much. You’ll never be my everything. And, to be honest, the thought of being your everything kind of makes me want to run really far away without leaving a forwarding address.

original_YouAreMyEverything

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