Feelings are like colds. You catch them and oh boy have I caught them. But unlike a cold, you cannot just take two pills and sleep it off. This is much more complicated and harder to figure out. If you have been single for a long time like me, you become somewhat immune to feelings. Then one day you wake up and realise that you get excited when you see someone’s name flash up on your phone. You catch yourself with that dumb smile on your face and you know it’s happening. Those inconvenient, dangerous, potentially heart ruining feelings.

Now I have tried many times to do a Taylor Swift and shake them off but it is not that simple. When you have spent so much time not feeling any connection to anyone, apart from the local pizza delivery guy who knows that you are going to open the door in your PJ’s and a face mask, feelings are a hard pill to swallow. All of a sudden you have emotions that you have not allowed yourself to feel in a long time. How do you go from pretending that the delivery for two is actually for one to realising that your heart is making decisions on your behalf? If you are like me, what comes next is what any self-respecting single girl does. Less emphasis on the self-respecting part of course.

You overthink and panic

Seems like a dramatic reaction. But if you aren’t in the business of catching feelings easily, this is out of your comfort zone. Your brain cannot keep up with the heart calling the shots. The brain wants answers, logic, rational thinking. Mostly it wants simplicity. Yet your heart wants none of that. Feelings have nothing to do with logic, rationale, or simple living. Feelings, dating, and love all involve complicated human emotions. Similar to trying to solve a crossword puzzle blindfolded after a bottle of wine. If you are not used to having feelings for someone else, there is a tendency to overthink it.

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Panic takes over and you start to go from a standard 40% psycho to at least a 75% psycho. Where is the effortlessly cool girl? She is gone, along with your ability to not reply to his text message instantly. The effortlessly single girl never replies immediately because she doesn’t care. But now, you begin to unravel to the point where you begin to even overthink your use of emoji.

The thing is about having feelings for someone is that there are equal amounts of excitement mixed with complete and utter agony. You can feel yourself losing control. But control your emotions to minimise the risk of being hurt. It allows you to be single without actually caring. It allows you freedom in your single years but now there are feelings and I have no idea what to do with them. Do I send for help? Sweep them under the carpet? Accept defeat and make a complete idiot of myself in the process? Well, my brain is no longer consumed by what I am having for breakfast because of these feelings my morning routine has cut down drastically.

Pretend that nothing is happening

When people ask you how you are, you quickly change the subject because you can feel the heat running to your face. Just talk about the weather or the ASOS sale instead. Someone says something that has zero correlation to your situation and you believe that they have figured out your dirty little feelings secret. The irony is that you want to tell everyone but you are terrified of admitting it out aloud. You carry on like it is business as usual. Apart from the fact that you are dying a slow and painful death by feelings. If you hear from him, you pretend like nothing is happening. You tell yourself that this is all in your head, and that it is impossible for you to develop such feelings for someone without your consent.

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Maybe alcohol helps? Only if you delete his number first. Even change his name for the night to something that drunk you will listen to. Something like “You are drunk. Abort mission”. Just make sure you know your drunk self because she may not follow instructions. Bury that head in the sand. Flick the elastic band on your wrist to make a pain association to trick your brain. Distract yourself with Tinder even when you know you are half-arsing the swiping. Whatever it takes to pretend that you have your shit together because you cannot let this happen.

Tell him about the feels? No!

In your head, the man who made you catch the feels will feel the same way. It will play out like a scene out of Notting Hill. He’ll be the “boy standing in front of a girl asking her to love him”. Reality check, he doesn’t even remember the colour of your eyes or realise you are flirting with him because you’re as good at flirting as Zac Efron is at being ugly. You know you should probably develop lady balls and tell him that you like him. Or at least ask him out for a drink but the sheer fear of rejection will stop you dead in your stiletto heel tracks. It does not matter how confident you are, when you like someone, the fear of being shut down will ultimately stop you.

Fear of rejection is one thing, but the fear of getting hurt again is overwhelming. Your past heartbreaks all of a sudden stir up. Every feeling that you thought you got over, comes back stronger and you just don’t know if you have it in you. Can you afford another broken heart, if there is anything left intact at all? That’s the thing about being single for a long time. It’s not that you are incapable of finding someone. Anyone can find someone to be with for the sake of it. It is because you don’t want to let anyone in.

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You have built walls around your heart because your last heart break was so bad. You vowed you would never get hurt again but here you are. Having those same feelings that have gotten you hurt every time before. It always starts with the best of intentions. Then, it always ends up with you crying on the bathroom floor, wondering why you didn’t see it coming. So tell him how you feel? I personally don’t like sitting on bathroom tiles in the middle of winter for extended periods of time so that is a firm ‘no’ from me.

Feelings are fantastic. If you can guarantee they are reciprocated and there is a clause that you would not get hurt. Love isn’t a contract though. That’s what makes it magical and inconvenient. You can’t solve them like science solves colds. My feelings are very much real and eventually I will have to deal with them in a more adult manner. But for now, I am hoping that they will go away. Like a rogue pimple or a hangover that only lasts for half a day. Which funnily enough is as likely as that Notting Hill fantasy from happening in real life. Feelings are just like men. You can’t live with them, and you can’t live without them.

Ashleigh is a writer, blogger, poet and completely knee-deep in the dating world. She likes to talk about love and relationships because those who can't do, write about it from the comfort of their own home whilst wondering if peanut butter and wine are a nutritious dinner.

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