On Straight Edge And Real Love

One of the many shitty sayings I hear sxe kids saying is this:

“If you’re not now, you never were.”

Depending on how you count it, I’ve been straight edge for thirty-two (last time I was drunk) or eight years (last time I had caffeine). I actively avoid any psychoactive substances. I tried smoking once as a kid, never took it up. And it’s so long since I last had sex that, technically, I’m a virgin again. I think you’ll find my edge credentials are all in order, officer.

So, when I hear some motherfucker who’s been edge for a month or whatever whining about people who “broke edge” and saying the old “If you’re not edge now, you never were,” bullshit, it really fucks me off.

Firstly, it’s the irony of them being so vehement in their hatred of ex-edgers when it’s very likely that in another month, I’ll seem them off their tits again, slopping beer out of a cheap plastic cup. For most people, edge is a cool badge to pose with for a week or month or year. It’s a healthy phase of their life before they return to the unhealthy norms of society. You know, like when people join the gym as a New Year’s Resolution and then stop going by February. That’s edge for maybe 95% of the people who ever claim it.

Secondly, let’s extend this to other areas. Straight edge is simply a lifestyle choice, the same as being veggie or wearing odd socks to be wacky at Uni. It’s not morally any better or worse than either than of those options, it’s not some key to a path of spiritual enlightenment and holiness. It’s not a fucking religion.  (Personally, I would say being religious is a de-facto edge break, desiring to have that much filler crammed into your head.) Basically, you don’t want to get fucked up because you don’t need to / don’t enjoy it / are a recovering addict.

That’s it. 

So when I hear “If you’re not now, you never were,” I hear a ridiculous assertion. For example:

“I used to live in France.”

“Used to?”

“Yeah, I moved back to England after a couple of years.”

“Dude, if you’re not living in France now… YOU NEVER DID.”


“Of course, I didn’t always work here, I used to be a fireman.”

“Dude, if you’re not a fireman now… YOU NEVER WERE.”

Do you see my point? It’s an asinine thing to say.

People try being straight edge. The vast majority give it up because of peer pressure or because they miss getting wasted or because they can’t cope without the crutch of alcohol / drugs. They tried it, it wasn’t for them. Big deal. But don’t try to re-write reality and claim they were never really edge in the first place.

Now, here’s where the edge constituent of this article plummets and the emo quotient rises to 100. The one time, the only time, I’ll use the phrase “If you’re not now, you never were,” is about love.

Real love involves a permanent, irrevocable re-writing of yourself. It cannot be erased, elided, replaced or otherwise forgotten. 

One of the reasons I left Facebook is because of the degradation and misuse of the word ‘love’ I saw on my newsfeed. You’ve probably experienced it yourself: couple goes from just shagging each other to ‘Facebook Official’ and instantly their respective feeds turn to shit. Instead of messaging each other private loving moments, which would be sweet, they feel the need to broadcast them to all their Facebook friends, which is as pleasant to experience as licking dog turds.

Helplessly, you see their overblown dedications, passionate paeans, in-jokes about vociferous sexual intercourse, all the while gagging and scrolling as fast as you can.

Then, in a week or a month or a year, they’re done and onto the next one.

True story: I used to have a Facebook acquaintance who did this. All of her updates were about ‘breakfast with the boy,’ ‘park with the boy,’ ‘me and the boy snuggling,’ blah blah blah urgh. Then her feed went quiet for a bit. Then, it was back to ‘dancing with the boy,’ ‘shopping with the boy,’ ‘off to Paris with the boy.’ Business as usual, I thought.

Then, I bumped into her on a night out and asked how (insert name) was? She gave me the craziest look and said, “What?? I finished with him aaages ago! I’m with (insert new boy name) now!” I hadn’t even noticed the change in partners. She went from LOVE OF MY LIFE A to LOVE OF MY LIFE B in the blink of a fucking eye. Seamless.

For most people, a boyfriend or girlfriend is a passing phase. They like fucking, they’re attracted to someone and their bodies pump them full of happy hormones for a while so they think they’re in love. But when the sex inevitably loses it shiny newness, they move on.

That love they were were ranting about, that person they said was The One, they just replace them. After all, boys and girls are all the same, they’re just identical dolls to be played with and then swap when you grow bored.

The truth is, they were never in love. They were infatuated, they were horny, they were blinded by the temporary wash of bonding hormones. But that’s not real love. 

So what is real love? Here’s a simple test. Think of someone you claimed to be in love with:

If you’re not now, you never were. 

Love isn’t convenient, it doesn’t get put away, it doesn’t fade and it never, ever falters. If you fall in love with someone, it’s with you forever, like that scar on your knee from when you were a kid.

Love is something that, when that person leaves you, you try to erase, you try to replace, you try to move on.

And you fail.

Love, real love, is immutable, intractable, unreasonable. It can be years, decades since you lost them and you still think of that person every day. You still see things you wish you could share with them or imagine what they’d say. You carry a detailed model of that person in your brain. They’re always there. You dream about them, sing songs about them, write poetry, paint pictures. But no exorcism works: their ghost is still there.

That’s real love.

Love isn’t a pretty little arrow shot into your wittle heart by a fat baby cupid. Love is a an iron rod being driven through your fucking brain. It is eternal or it wasn’t love.

It is not a lifestyle choice like being straight edge, living in France, or ballroom dancing, it is the removal of volition.

If you’re not in love now, you never were.