My friend Leah is a single mum who has also been “weggentrifiziert” down South. Unlike me, she’s been banished to Schöneweide and, annoyingly, depressingly, predictably, it still takes us an hour to get to each other’s places.
“So that guy I’ve been seeing wrote to me,” she says. We’re sitting in the little garden outside her place, our kids are playing in the tiny play area.
If he wants you to be completely emotionally disconnected, he needs to work on his biceps.
Leah’s been seeing a guy from her gym, once every two weeks, the weekend when her kids go to their dad’s, for one night, only. What I mean by this is the kids go to their dad’s every fortnight for the whole weekend, and Gym Bunny gives her one whole night. I met Gym Bunny once, he’s kinda hot. It seems, to me, like an okay arrangement.
“Oh?” I say.
“Yeah,” she says. “He wants us to stop seeing each other.”
“Oh?” I say.
“Yeah,” she says. “It’s a bit depressing, really.”
“What did you do?” I ask.
“Well, my baby-daddy wants to take the kids more often. He wants to take them every Wednesday night and every other weekend. So I asked my guy if he fancied seeing me every week instead of every two weeks.”
“He said I was getting too emotionally connected.”
“Yeah,” I say.
“He said I was expecting too much.”
“Yeah,” I say.
“He said I was demanding too much.”
“Yeah,” I say.
“Jacinta,” Leah says. “Tell me the truth. Am I completely unlovable? Will I ever find love?”
“You’re a very lovable person!” I shout. She bursts out laughing. “You’re one of the most lovable people I know!” I say. I start laughing too. What does it mean, to be a lovable person, if you can’t persuade the guy you are fucking to come over once a week? What does it fucking mean? Too emotionally connected? These Berlin men need to fuck sex robots, and leave the single mums alone.
What does it mean, to be a lovable person, if you can’t persuade the guy you are fucking to come over once a week?
“I literally don’t know how I could possibly expect any less,” she says.
“It’s not you, it’s him,” I say.
“The weird thing is,” she says, “I am actually not that emotionally connected. I am actually slightly dead inside. Because of all the trauma and stuff.”
These are the things single mums do which make men want to stop seeing us: cry because the washing machine is broken, cry about the electricity bill, cry because our ex has grassed us up to the Jugendamt for feeding our kids too much Fruchtzwerg/Pommes, ask them if they want to meet our kids, ask them if they could put up a shelf for us, ask them if they could dismantle a wardrobe for us, cry about a Betriebskostennachzahlung, tell them we love them, ask them if they could imagine coming to the zoo with us and our kids some time.
Berlin men and single mums and dating don’t mix. Berlin men should just hook themselves up to fucking machines, and single mums should just buy vibrators, and we should love – we should completely love – we should fill our lives with love – but not each other. Single mums are, I think, completely capable of finding love. We can find love. We can love Bridgerton and we can love Amber Heard movies and we can love sausages wrapped in bacon and we can love taking our kids to Schlachtensee and we can love stand-up paddling and we can love our nieces and nephews and our best friends’ kids and we can even, if we are honest, on our kid-free weekends, love taking a bit of ketamine and laying in Tiergarten like we’ve never even heard of the word pain.
Berlin men should just hook themselves up to fucking machines, and single mums should just buy vibrators.
We can find out what love is, by loving our children and watching them grow. We can look at their noses and their ears and their cheeks and their mouths while they eat and recognise that this feeling inside of us, kind of like a pebbley feeling, satisfying, but also a bit sad, that’s true love. We can love.
“He’s kinda hot, your gym guy,” I say.
“He’s not bad,” she agrees.
“But he’s not hot enough for you to have this completely emotionally disconnected sex with. If he wants you to be completely emotionally disconnected, he needs to work on his biceps more. And his six-pack.”
“Yeah,” she says. “You’re right. “If he wants me to be completely emotionally disconnected, his body needs to be a bit harder.”
“He’s kinda hot,” I say. “But that just won’t cut it anymore.”
My kid comes up to me and gives me a pebble.
“I present you this” he says gravely. “Because I love you.” Then he whispers: “I only love you because you are my mum. If you weren’t my mum, I would only like you.”
“Thanks,” I say. “That means a lot to me.”