The pain of the unattainable

Mo Isu
5 min readJan 2, 2023


After my first breakup, my interest and ability to visualise romance in my life disappeared.

Where I had always dreamed of marriage, the ending of that relationship spelt the Thanos-Esq fading away of those dreams.

The breakup wasn’t the cause of this happening, it had been a wonderful time and no part of it can I speak ill of, even now. There was just something complicated about how I felt in those moments after my return to the streets. Something that dissolved all my illusions of romantic happiness. Dissolved it and created for me a disinterest so strong that for 4 years later, I could not even fathom a committed relationship of any kind.

And it started first, as the clearest of feelings that I deserved to remain alone for the rest of my life. Perhaps even that this was better for me. A feeling, I am feeling again. A feeling, I don’t think ever quite went away as I have noticed in the moments I say ‘if I get married’ rather than ‘when I get married.’

I am a romantic. I must admit it to you. It is possible you have read my essays in the past or will read them in the future and this post will seem an odd contradiction in their midst. But these two things are true, I am a romantic but I also envision for myself a dearth of romance.

I felt a lot of loneliness in 2019 and 2020. I was (alone) in my house more times than I was anywhere else. I wasn’t as depressed as I had been the two previous years but I was still pretty sad a lot of the time. Life was a little hard during this period as well. I started a job that I really struggled with. My anxiety levels shot through the roof and I started to feel really unqualified to be in charge of my own life. During this time, there was one recurring thing, I wished I had someone.

I often have the conversation with people about why they want to be in a relationship and they say that they want to have ‘their person.’ I mean, they say much else, but this concept of having one’s person is a fairly consistent reason. They want to have, in their corner, the one person that can always be there for them, their partner. It is a concept that baffles my current version of self because I have a community of people and I am very content with them. I don’t feel a void for one person.

But in 2019, I often felt it. I wished I didn’t do life so alone.

The evolution of my emotions is in this way.

  • I spent a period of time being completely closed to the idea of a relationship
  • I started to feel really lonely (still unavailable to relationships)
  • I was sad a lot, often wishing for a lover because life was so hard and I thought companionship made it just that bit easier, (but still unavailable)
  • I grew an appreciation for my friendships that helped me with the loneliness and with life. (but still mostly unavailable)

I recently (sometime in the past two years) reopened myself to the possibility of relationships. I do not chase them but I do not have the same disinterest in them.

When I look down the road of my future, I still see myself unmarried but I don’t see myself walking alone, I see my friends with me.

But I still feel lonely — sometimes.

It is one of my biggest fears that I end up alone.

I am not afraid in that I dread the idea of it happening. What I dread, is that if it happens, I would be devastated by it. I want to be at peace with being alone.

Some of my most miserable moments are the times when I do not want to be alone. When I want someone else to be with me, around me, close to me. These are the times when I find that I am most unable to conjure this physical company. No one will be there to hold me in my sleep. No one will be there to kiss me or hold my gaze. No one will be there to brush my shoulder. No one wants to spend this time with me as I want to.

I should add that I am not craving someone to love in these moments, I am craving company. Perhaps this is my toxic trait — that I do not want this companionship all the time. I want it to end but be there again when next I need it.

I don’t enjoy the feeling of craving company when it is so unattainable. I enjoy less the feeling of liking someone that doesn’t like me back. It is so painful, isn’t it?

Sometimes, I catch myself spending time with someone and not wanting it to stop. I want to speak to them again. But I stop myself, to remain socially appropriate. I text them and ask if they had a good time and tell them that I did too.

Or I catch myself having even a small bit of liking towards the small details that make them up. Liking- that we have so much in common but they are still unpredictable to me. I like what they have to say about the world and for a small moment, I will look down the road and put them in the pictures, holding my hand and gaze. Then I will wash it off.

Very early on, in most of my interactions with women, I choose what I want the relationship to be. I think that women likely get enough men that make advances to them and I choose to offer friendship instead. It is the only thing I am good at offering. I am horrid at flirting — I think. Thing is that when you are already friends with someone, the possibility of being anything else often closes up. So when I start to catch myself, liking a woman that I am already friends with, I will stop myself. Maybe most out of fear.

I just want to not want that anymore you know. I want to be content only and always with friendships. I want to let go of this occasional idealisation of romance. I want to look down on that part and see that I am alone and be fine with it. I spend a lot of time with myself and I genuinely enjoy it but occasionally wish for company. I don’t want to feel this way anymore. It makes me so miserable to crave company without being able to get it. It makes me really sad to make plans to spend time with someone and they have to cancel.

I don’t like how susceptible to loneliness I am.

I want to be alone forever hugely because I am very damn terrified of the pain of the unattainable



Mo Isu

Writing what I can| Being Vulnerable and confused| Making podcasts