You probably know one. In fact it’s more than likely you do. She’s nestled in most friend circles. But let’s say you were in a shop, and she was in there too, right up beside you, holding up the same pair of Nike Roshes as you. You wouldn’t notice her.
It’s not that easy. This kind of girl can’t be picked out based on her physicality, how well she dresses or whether her hair is ghd’ed daily. No exterior characteristics flag this girl as different. It’s something intrinsic. It could be pheromones or it could be something a little bit secret, but whatever it is, it’s potent. It created the WANB: Women who Always Need a Boyfriend.
WANBs are an accepted group in society. Coffee shops take their orders, Instagram admin doesn’t take down their couple selfies, and supermarkets continue (!!) allowing them to self-checkout. Everyone treats the WANBs normally, because they believe they are normal. Except for me. I know they’re not.
Orson Welles said, “We’re born alone, we die alone.” So I set out to investigate: What is different about these girls who need constant companionship?
My first hypothesis was that they’re a genetic defect: 18th century chromosomes got into a proportion of our female genes, and as a result of this, God gave us the WANB.
I had to revise this hypothesis, for I remembered women only needed men post-marriage in the 18th century. Pre-marriage, Victorian women ate solo, slept solo and yarned with just the girls in the sun room. Granted, Victorian women weren’t actually allowed to associate with men 24/7 like WANBs do, but they did kind of accept this independence. WANBs do not. I know one WANB who has a boyfriend-shaped pillow. She sleeps with it on the alternate nights her boyfriend stays at his own place. The WANBs could not possibly have genetic correlation with our content ancestors. They must be the result of something else.
I thought this result would be bad parenting tactics. WANBs don’t know how to be autonomous because their parents did not teach them. They only taught them how to eat, sleep and play in a boy compatible manner. WANBs can’t help it; they’ve been programmed for male-dependency.
This hypothesis was also disproved. I interviewed a friend/WANB and she told me her parents had in fact not shoved a male baby bjorn into the crook of her back when she was sleeping as I thought had been the case; she’d become a WANB due to two unforeseen factors: firstly, she’d watched her sister model the lifestyle, and secondly, through high school her boyfriend had provided more support than her friends.
This evidence was frankly disappointing. I’d wanted physical evidence that the WANB was somehow alien, and there was none. I had to accept the conclusion: The WANB and I are similar beings. We’re both teenage girls subject to influence and I have to stop marginalising them. Our narratives are only slightly different.
Our family members both shaped our perception of relationships. However, unlike the WANB, my sibling didn’t ingrain monogamy in me. He taught me relationships are like Wikileaks; they have to be guarded carefully. My brother highlighted this to me one afternoon when, after leaving my phone unattended on my dresser, I turned up to dinner to find out he was reading out its romantic contents to my parents. He also extended this pain by spending the next month calling out “Todd” at intermittent times around the house. As a consequence of this Julian Assange antic, I now rarely venture into relationship territory. I’ve even found it hard to commit to saving boys’ numbers under their real names. My last boyfriend was 027456793 until our second year anniversary.
Friends are something I’ve never had commitment issues with though, and I would say this is the key difference between the WANB and I. I’ve consistently prioritised my girlfriends over any boy. Lena Dunham said that her “first real relationship” was with the character Marnie is based on, and I feel the same goes for my friends. They are my first real relationships and I’ve been shaped to treat them as such. I’ve spent so much time with them, gossiping, playing, and creating small businesses that never got off the ground. I’m conditioned to place them as a priority.
So it turns out the WANB and I just have different priorities, and that’s not a good or a bad thing. It’s just different. Like psychologically ill leaders before me, I shouldn’t be marginalising these girls because of this difference. I should be accepting it. I can’t say I’m going to increase the quota in my current friend group, but I am going to take small steps, the first of which is retiring my jingle set to Lady Gaga’s “Boys, Boys, Boys” with accompanying hand movements.