Can You Miss Something You’ve Never Had?

Whenever I play “Never Have I Ever” my first play is always to say that I’ve never eaten a cheeseburger. Reactions vary from laughter to outright horror, but I usually respond by saying the same thing:

“You can’t miss what you’ve never had.”

I don’t crave cheeseburgers because I can’t even imagine the taste of them. It’s a combination of meat and cheese together that I’ve just never had before and therefore can’t miss out on the way I crave chocolate or fresh baked bread.

But I wonder: could you apply the same thought to relationships?

I’ve never been in what I would call a real relationship. (That is to say that while I’ve been on a few dates, I’ve never been in a relationship with someone who didn’t still live with their parents or have SATs to worry about.) But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m starting to read more and more internet laments about being single or how to get through the day on your own. In fact, the entire month of February seems to encourage this idea of romantic love as the only solution to life’s otherwise inevitable loneliness. (Because anyone single must be desperate and seeking companionship; they couldn’t possibly be happy on their own or with family/friends.) Only, I’m twenty three years old and single and, to be completely honest, I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

In that respect relationships and cheeseburgers have a lot in common for me; since I’ve never had either, I don’t really know how to miss them. On Valentine’s Day or any other of the 364 days of the year.

Other than some close friends and family, I don’t know what it’s like to have a go-to person for good news. And while I know what it feels like to have a crush on someone or to like them, I don’t know what it’s like to have those feelings exclusively returned to me. I don’t have that special shared connection with any one person and until I know what that experience feels like, I really can’t miss it.

I don’t even feel like I can crave it because relationships between individual couples and the feelings they share for one another are completely unique. Whenever you ask someone what being in love feels like they try and describe it. They fumble over their words, make some analogies, and then after a few failed attempts to get their point across they just stop and say, “Actually I can’t describe it. You’ll just know when you feel it.” How can I crave something so unique to each person that no one can actually describe it in a way that paints a picture I can comprehend?

I want to know what it’s like to love and be loved romantically. But to say that I miss it wouldn’t be quite right. I don’t miss it. Maybe once I’ve had an opportunity to know and appreciate those feelings shared between two committed people and maybe once I’ve been in a real relationship, then I’ll know what it’s like to miss being with someone. But for now…

For now I’m content to spend my Valentine’s Days cheeseburgerless and with friends.

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