Alison Taylor on relationships: I feel like I'm on the ledge. The ledge between being single and not

 

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The Independent Online

I took myself away last weekend. It was a solo retreat and I had the lyrics of my friend Guy Garvey's song "Starlings" in my head as I travelled there: "The truest love that's ever found is for oneself". "Starlings" is about a man and a woman's fledgling and faltering love. He's in awe of her – "You are the only thing in any room you're ever in" (swoon) – but ultimately, for him, the truest love is for oneself. The woman in the song's response to this? "A weary and disinterested sigh." I'm with him, though. Before you think I've gone full mung bean, let me explain.

Right now, I feel like I'm on the ledge. The ledge between being single and not. The thrilling but definitely unnerving not-quite-no-man's-land between 'Is this something or not?'. The biggest question, though: can I give myself to it? Or even part of myself?

This is where the retreat and Guy's lyrics come into play, because you have to 'love yourself' before you can love someone else. Or them you. Now I can feel the collective groan this Saturday morning among the hungover, the jaded and the, well, British, but I'd really recommend a little self-love and solitude for everyone. Emotional ledge or no emotional ledge.

I think it's the phrase 'love yourself' that slightly sticks in the throat. I know it does with me. What does it actually mean, beyond a cheap masturbation joke? Last weekend it was about focusing on myself, understanding myself and taking a bit of time to calm down. The problems we all face in life, love and relationships is that we're constantly switched on. We're always moving, responding, doing: we're very 'verby'. And when we're in our heads all the time, fizzing from the neck up, it can make it difficult to let somebody else in. Especially if there hasn't been a somebody else for a while, not properly anyway, with real feelings. It's kind of scary. Good-scary but scary all the same.

Being alone gave me time to reflect. It also gave me time to miss him – the new man taking up my time, thoughts and data allowance. Instead of being electronically in touch, he was floating around my mind. Retro.

You know what's guaranteed to make you remember them when you're away? A kiss that you won't soon forget. You're sat down on the Tube, he leans in slowly from where's he stood, and you have this moment that's a sort of private thanks. "Have a good time, sweetheart," goes the goodbye after the amazing kiss.

Just like that, I'm desperate to return.

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