Romance makes the world go round. Or so they say…don’t they? For Michael Burrill, the romance of Beatles songs and Richard Curtis films seems like it’s on the way out…


It was the first time I had seen her in months, the first time since I told her the feelings I had for her made it too difficult for me to be her friend.

“I can’t see myself in a relationship right now,” she said looking away as her top lip began to quiver like it always did when she was nervous. “Recently I’ve been indoctrinated in all this political theory like polyamory and relationship anarchy. I can’t offer you monogamy, but we can be intimate friends…”

I was pretty certain what she was implying but found myself asking, “What does that imply?”

“Well,” she smirked, timidly moving her hand to my thigh, “it means we’re best friends that have sexy times.”

Before I knew it I had leaned in and we were kissing and she giggled as a massive smile spontaneously burst over my face.

“I don’t need to be your boyfriend, I just want to be your lover,” I whispered in her ear as our noses and cheeks danced tenderly.

Later and on my own, in the deep recess where night and morning meet, I typed “Relationship anarchy” into Google.

“May as well do some research,” I told myself.

I came to gather that the basic principle of relationship anarchy is that every relationship you have is self contained and no one is held specially above another. It was unconventional, sure, but I had no problem with it – I didn’t need to own her. It didn’t bother me if she saw other people. A girl you’re in love with offers you an acceptable relationship, you jump up at the chance without thinking twice, right?

Not this idiot.

There was something else troubling me, gnawing at my guts.

Why the sudden change of heart? Just a couple of months ago she was telling me she only had platonic feelings for me – so was she just offering this to keep me around?

“You’re just being paranoid,” I told myself, but the itch remained.

After a night so boozy I broke my golden rule and suckled from my silver teat, I stumbled home, mouth tasting of sulphites and cat piss. Deciding honesty was the best policy, I unleashed a Facebook message (pathetic, I know) outlining my love for her and imploring her to be sure she was doing this for the right reasons – that she wanted me too.

Days passed without reply and, as I drank a lot of booze and ate not very much food, it began to feel like I might shit fire, but most of all I just had that sinking feeling.

Sure, I was hurt she as of yet found it too awkward or couldn’t be bothered to reply to me laying my feelings on the table, but I also had to question myself.

Why couldn’t I have just kept my mouth shut?

Why did I always have to go in all guns blazing like this?

An upbringing involving Beatles records and Richard Curtis films has implanted a naive romanticism at the very core of my being. Underneath all the cynicism lies this naive voice that really believes love is all you need and that if a bumbling guy is honest about his feelings and makes a grand romantic gesture then everything will work out for him in the end.

That the star of so many of those Richard Curtis films, Hugh Grant – at one time in a relationship with Liz Hurley – was arrested with a prostitute in 1995 should maybe have suggested to me that real life was nowhere near the fiction.

The incestuous bed hopping clusterfuck that is my social group’s romantic history and, that seemingly from experience I am at my most attractive to the opposite sex at the end of sordid three day binges when I don’t give a fuck about anything, may even suggest that the romance is outright dead in our society.

Of that I am unsure, but with a growing silence and the gradual realisation that this one isn’t going to go my way looming over me, I do know one thing…

The romance in my head is fucking killing me.


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