You May Think You Want A Boyfriend, But Maybe All You Need Is A Pet

by Shireen McCleary

When we’re adults, there’s a lot going on.

There is so much fluctuation in our lives, it’s hard to get a handle on what’s permanent and what’s still shifting.

But I think there are three main pillars or categories of things we have control over. Our ability to manage them in this crazy time determines whether or not we are living comfortable lives.

These pillars are work, home and love.

Think about it: When you have a good job, a nice place to call home and a partner to share your life with, you’re friggin’ set.

But especially in your “transitional 20s,” it’s actually pretty hard to have all of those pillars align at the same time.

Maybe you have one (or two, if you’re lucky) of the pillars solidly in place, but it’s rarely all three.

I feel like I have reached that point in my 20s where I’ve got two of the pillars comfortably in place.

You’ll feel it when you’re there. Suddenly, you’re looking around at your life and noticing you have your sh*t together.

You’re seeing your apartment with its fairly nice furnishings, and feeling proud you’re at a point where you can actually afford to buy the frilly things in home decor stores that have the funny names, like shams and credenzas.

Your fridge stays full with foods in multiple colors: foods that are required to stay healthy.

Gone are the bottles of vodka and random packets of hot sauce stolen from Taco Bell.

The ultimate sign of a happy, healthy home? Your laundry gets done more than once a month, and not even at your parents’ house.

The second most establishing pillar stems from the job you’re finally making gains at.

You come to work feeling confident and ignited, challenged and supported.

You’re no longer a grunt, and you’re stoked to be at the office every day. If you’re really rocking and rolling, you’ve set up accounts for retirement, and you’re setting money aside each month.

You are slaying it.

So two of your three pillars are solidly in place, and you’re ready to invite in the third.

Sadly, this is the most fickle and nimble of the three. This is the pillar of love.

What does that even look like?

For a long time, I thought it looked like a boyfriend.

It looked like holding hands and walking down grocery store aisles together, gazing lovingly at the organic sugar options for the gluten-free cookies you’re going to bake his mother for her birthday.

It looked like planning weekend getaways with your boo by packing up a bag containing a perfect balance of cute and sexy jammies, along with fuzzy socks and glasses.

(Hey, he adores you. He can see your nerdy side.)

You can take selfies together, you can spoon in bed and you can share all of your secrets with him.

But then, when I step back from the daydreams of what my faux relationship could look like, I remember the reality of real life.

I remember that relationships take work.

I spend Monday to Friday working my ass off at the office. I come home and feel absolutely brain dead.

There is no way in la vida loca that I could seriously pull myself together enough to plan dinner, go to a restaurant or (God forbid) have you over.

I can't shave my legs and redo my makeup, and still stay alert and charming until way past my single girl bedtime to entertain you.

Screw that.

All I want to do is eat some Thai, cuddle under a blankie while watching "OITNB," and go to bed at 9:30 pm so I can wake up for an early morning workout.

My weekends are my time to catch up with my gal pals, grab a free meal at my parents’ house, clean my spectacular apartment (including laundering those shams) and do the things I want to do.

I ain’t got time for some man and his demands.

So, I wonder.

As I think about fulfilling that last pillar at this sort of crazy (but exciting), fast-paced time in my life, I consider a very important question.

Does that love I want come in the form of a man?

Or do I really just want a dog?

(Pretty sure it’s a dog.)