Friday, 17 January 2014

I am not your manic pixie dream girl.

Nobody wants to date me.

Yes, I say this, despite having turned down the painfully sweet advances of a guy I love as a friend but do not want to date. Despite the few-month relationships that characterised my 2013. Nobody wants to date me, as an actual living breathing crying bodily-function-having person. People want to date the person they think I am: a manic pixie dream girl.

I kind of can't blame them, to be honest. I have inadvertently stumbled into MPDG territory. I have short, brightly coloured hair. I'm a creative sort. I'm spontaneous and scatter-brained and clumsy and have a habit of grabbing people and dragging them with me on madcap adventures (or, more likely, to pub quizzes and Willow).

But the manic pixie dream girl trope reduces women down into merely these cartoon versions of themselves, who laugh and smile and exist to help direct the eternally-puzzled man puzzle out his eternally directionless life. I've been guilty of it, too (for a boy); thought how nice it would be to date the Welsh guy who I had a crush on for two years based purely on our mutual love for Fire Emblem games. What did I know about him? Not much. But he was attractive, and he represented a break from the ordinary.

And that's the problem. When someone dates you under MPDG assumptions, they are with you because they feel you will bring sparkle and impulse into their otherwise-lacking world. Like you will turn up and suddenly paint the trees a brighter shade of green, and open their eyes to the hitherto unnoticed beauty of Milan Kundera novels and fake glasses. Obviously, people can't do that: we're not magic, not one of us. We cannot force you to alter perceptions unless that capacity to change exists within yourself already.

Once people realise you exist as more than this human-shaped life-brightener, that is when I find the attraction wanes. I am not a manic pixie dream girl. I am not going to support you through every facet of your life. I have my own emotions to chart, my own existential crises to ponder. I get moody and vent about my feelings at inappropriate times; I talk about myself a lot, and I talk far too much when I'm nervous. I can be manic to the point of reckless, and I don't think about consequences enough, unless I'm thinking about them too much. I'm a perfectionist and spend tens of minutes wondering whether I can start this many sentences with "I" (answer: yes, because it's anaphora for rhetorical effect). I do things purely for the stories they will create, and steadfastly stand by principles even when my opponent is a friend.

I will not make your life better.

This is something my dear friend does not understand. Since I've turned down his advances - gently, and then more firmly to drive the message home - he has turned into the person I vent my woes to. He makes sure I know he's never more than a text away and knows just how to make me smile. It's sort of brilliant. He has manic pixie dream boyed himself. (But I'm still not going to date him.)

The thing is, you do not want to date me, V. S. Wells, semi-professional self-pitier and chronic complainer. You want to date Vee, the Facebook profile I present as my best version of me, the girl who dyes her hair monthly and bakes cookies in her knickers at 2am.

I'm not waiting for The One who loves me just as I am - because, honestly, I am a terrible girlfriend and do not want to inflict that upon anyone. This is not a plea for love. It is a request for the stereotyping to end. Just because Nicholas Sparks and Stephen Moffat can reduce women to personality quirks and value-added tits doesn't mean it works in real life.

I might be shiny on the surface, but - to quote the inimitable Andrea Gibson - "I know all of us are scratched, even if you can't hear it when we speak". I'm scratched. Stop thinking the record's perfect, and don't be disappointed when it starts to skip.

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