Tag Archives: alone

Wristbands, really?

I’m just a little flabbergasted.  Apparently we need to brand single people now so you know they’re single (like how you totally know someone is unavailable if they wear a ring their left ring finger).

There are two major problems I see with this concept:
(1) Despite Facebook’s insistence that you’re either are, were or wish to be married, there’s actually a lot more nuance to relationship statuses, even if you’re single.  I mean, heck, at the moment I’m “single but seeing someone,” what color wristband would that be?
(2) It’s downright degrading!

Jezebel’s coverage of the issue is actually pretty thorough, and I appreciate the seething sarcasm.  They certainly cover the problem of nuance, “seven colors cannot possibly contain the multitudes of relationship statuses within singleness.” True story.

Perhaps the creation of these isn’t as insidious as I suspect… Creator Rob says: ‘Whilst working at my previous office of 3,500 people, I realised that I saw hundreds of people each day that could potentially be a suitable partner, yet there was no way of knowing their relationship status.’  Then again, maybe it is.

Really, Rob? NO WAY of knowing? So it’s safe to assume you cut out your tongue to win a bet and that’s why you can’t simply TALK to people to find out what their deal is? REALLY? I mean, it’s not even hard nowadays: you can talk, text, skype, chat, tweet, post, like, etc. etc. The ways we communicate keep expanding, but you need a special colored wristband to know who’s single so, HEAVEN FORBID, you don’t accidentally have a conversation with someone who’s romantically unavailable but may, nevertheless, make a great friend? I call shenanigans.

I really do find this degrading.  Maybe that seems a little out of proportion.  Granted, it’s hardly the same as the pink triangle, and it’s still a form of branding.  Branding a person to reduce them to a single characteristic and separate them accordingly.

Not only is it degrading because it reduces me to my status as “single” and nothing else, but it also springboards off the assumption that there’s simply no way I would willingly choose to be single.

“The new MY Single Band bracelet aims to take some of the complication out of looking for love, enabling singletons to easily spot each other.” 

Clearly, I am a “singleton” against my will, but thanks to this nifty colored wristbands (that happen to look exactly like the colored wristbands people wear for causes or those “shag bands” kids were into for a minute) will solve all my problems!  All I need to do is find someone wearing the right color wristband– no need to waste time talking or getting to know people!

Sinceriously– it’s degrading.  And they absolutely reinforce the idea of there being ONE TRUE LOVE out there, waiting for you with baited breath.  “The silicone wristbands are embossed with the words fate, destiny and future.”  I think I might gag.  If “fate” and “destiny” were REALLY at play here, then why would you need a stupid silicone wristband to find each other???

This idea does vaguely remind me of a quirky film I saw on Netflix called “TiMER.”  The concept is that science knows who your soulmate is and you can get a timer installed in your wrist which will tell you when you’re going to meet them!  It’s an interesting idea, and despite my general cynicism I actually adored this movie.  Why? I thought it did a fabulous job of challenging the traditional narrative about how you’re supposed to fall in love and raises some interesting questions.  In a world where you can know who your soulmate is, does dating have a purpose? What if you meet someone you like, but know they’re not your soulmate per the timer?  What if you meet someone you like and they don’t HAVE a timer?  Ultimately, the point I took home is that there isn’t a right way to love.  There’s just love.

So, in response to disgusting wristbands: No thanks, I’d rather continue having meaningful conversations and getting to know people without being focused on their relationship status.  Cool?

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Our Job

I know what you’re thinking.  “Hey, Jade, where’s the bitter Valentine’s Day post?”  After all, what else do us singles do on V-Day beside grumble? Truth be told, I was earnestly trying to ignore Singles Awareness Day this year.  And I thought I was going to get away with it, too!  But then the sun came up.  I rolled out of bed, got myself to work and had the misfortune of witnessing this encounter:

Coworker1: “Hey, why aren’t you wearing red today?”
Coworker2: “Oooh, I don’t have a Valentine.  I’m a rejected Valentine!”
CW1: “What?? Noooo, we love you!! We all love you!!”
CW2: “No, no, it’s OK, you don’t have to cheer me up.”

This was around the time I vomited all over everyone and promptly put a stop to the conversation.  No?  OK, that didn’t happen, but I wish it had!  Because all this Valentine’s self-pity makes me nauseous.

Listen, I agree that V-Day mostly blows.  It glorifies couples (heterosexual couples, in particular) and shames single people into hiding.  It’s a dumb holiday created for profit– and as such greeting card companies, chocolate makers, florists and restaurants alike rejoice.  But if you do not own one of these establishments and you’re single, Valentine’s Day probably sucks.  Because it’s not just about “celebrating Love,” that I could get behind!  No, it’s about flaunting your coupled privilege if you have it. (Which is pretty rich considering how we constantly talk about gay people “flaunting” their relationships with hand-holding .. Can you imagine what hell would break loose if we behaved like straight couples do on V-Day? Kissing– in public?! Why I NEVER!)

I’m sure there are plenty of couples out there who celebrate V-Day quietly.  And for every one of them, there are pairs that have to have the BIGGEST Teddy Bear, the MOST flowers, the FANCIEST dinner and overall the most adoration poured over themselves.  In high school, I remember the popular girls would compete over who got the most flowers/gifts/admirers on Valentine’s Day.  Sadly, life after high school isn’t much different in this respect, except some of us have figured out how trivial it all is.  So you’re pretty and someone brought you flowers.  BIG DEAL.  What have you done to contribute to society besides look pretty?  No, seriously.  Looking pretty isn’t in and of itself something commendable, yet there is nothing we commend more (in women in particular).  No wonder this holiday has turned into a kind of pissing contest.  It’s all about being superior!

And the whole thing just makes me sad.  It seems like if you’re not busy feeling superior to the singles, then you’re busy throwing yourself a pity party.  JEEZEUS, Stop!  Seriously, stop competing with one another for the titles of Most and Least Loved of the Year.  Can’t we just Love? Can’t we just be grateful for the people in our lives who Love us and those whom we Love? Can’t we just see this as an opportunity to remind them that we care?

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.
-Thomas Merton

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Sad Singletons Go Hungry

Hey Singles,

Did you know we apparently can’t even cook for ourselves?  OK, maybe this article didn’t say that explicitly, but I don’t know what else to make of the title: Sad Singletons Go Hungry After 500,000 Lean Cuisines Recalled Because They Are Full of Glass.  The rest of the article doesn’t mention single people whatsoever, so why the cheap shot in the title? What the hell does this story have to do with being single? Absolutely nothing.  I’m guessing the author thinks she’s using some witty alliteration, but the title annoyed me so much it distracted from everything else about the article (like what it’s about).

Why am I “sad singleton”? Am I sad because I’m single? Or because, as a single person, I don’t know how to cook for myself and/or don’t think it’s worth cooking for just myself and eat only Lean Cuisine? Seriously? I’ve never even had a Lean Cuisine. I don’t even like typing Lean Cuisine.  Which isn’t to say I don’t indulge in junky food sometimes–I definitely do.  But if I’m going to buy something frozen and processed, let’s be real about it.  Don’t “lean” me anything.  I don’t drink “diet” soda for the same reason (also aspartame tastes terrible, but it’s mostly on principle).  I’m not being proud.  I definitely eat Hot Pockets when I’m depressed (and who doesn’t love the theme?), but not Lean Cuisine (fortunately– since apparently it is full of glass).

More to the point, though, what’s with the stereotype that single people can’t or won’t cook?  I know Ms. West didn’t invent the trope, but if anything shouldn’t single people have more time to cook? Fast food seems handy if you’re running late and you don’t have the time or energy to cook for 6 people.  So why the reverse that single people are just sad and depressed and either don’t know how to cook (many folks don’t know how to cook– but many still do, men and women alike) or won’t because, why just cook for yourself?

And I guess this is why the whole thing sticks in my craw so much.  I think this is an extremely important question, one I ask myself often– why just cook for yourself?  I have come to the conclusion that cooking for yourself is an act of radical self-love and is therefore one of the most beneficial things any person, especially a single person, can do for him/her/zirself.  I’m not saying you have to cook if you really hate it, or when you’re tired or just don’t feel like it.  I have just found that, occasionally,  the idea that it’s not worth cooking for just myself enters my mind.  It’s one thing to be genuinely tired or to eat out instead of eat in, but out of laziness or loneliness… that’s a problem.

Cooking is actually fun.  It’s part science and part art.  And thanks to the Internet, recipes are easy to find.  I like to read a bunch of difference recipes for similar dishes, and then improvise it in the moment.  Think of cooking like a kid would– like you’re a mad scientist searching for the perfect concoction!  You will fail sometimes, but those will always be the best stories… as long as you don’t burn the house down.  Don’t burn the house down.  (TIP: Always put food on a tray when you’re cooking it in the oven or toaster oven; things that drip catch fire.)  And if you’re concerned about the expense of fresh food like me, look around for local farmer’s markets and farm shares– they’re usually a great deal!

Most of us probably associate cooking with something our mothers did for the family (though I have a lot of fond memories of cooking with my Dad).  While it is essentially a domestic chore, we also consider it to be nurturing.  And why shouldn’t it be? Food is supposed to nurture our bodies.  I hate that so many of us wage war on food, or don’t have access to it, or have too much and throw it away.  I hate that we demonize calories, cause people to fear and love and loathe food at all once, this thing that is supposed to be just fuel and nutrients (and pleasure to some extent).  So why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves? We cook for our families, of course, but why shouldn’t we cook for ourselves also? Make our favorite dish, just because we can? Just because we like ourselves enough to put time and energy and imagination into something nurturing?

Sad Singletons Go Hungry? Nah, I’d rather cook.

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Normalcy

I’ve been thinking a lot about normalcy lately, and the fleeting desire for it.

Let’s get this straight (pun intended)–I’ve never felt normal.  And I’ve probably never been “normal” by anyone else’s standards either.  I’m part hardcore, bibliophile introvert, more likely to be seen with a book than a buddy, and part “Dyke Diva”– with the right genderbending attire, I’ve been known to strut and even swagger.  But none of it makes me normal, except insofar as my proclivity for emotions is just as human as anyone else’s.  But let’s face it, there is a difference between human and “normal.”  After all, we made up the latter.  Social construct–it’s all relative, yadda yadda yadda.  You know the drill.

So what IS “normal,” anyway? Is it routine? Is it commonality or majority? Or is it simply whatever is familiar? We like to talk about “normal” as though it’s some fixed, universal principal, but in reality whatever seems “normal” to us only seems that way because it is familiar to us.  What’s “normal” in the West is unlikely to be the “normal” in the East (though, globalization is quickly chipping away at that via television, business and the internet).  Leviticus, which people so love to cite to bash gays, is really just a list of normal practices for Jewish tribes back in the day.  Leviticus is the rules that separated them from outsiders.  Nowadays, though, eating dairy with your meat and getting haircuts are commonplace.  “Normal” is anything but fixed and universal.

So why worry so much about being normal?  Well, I must say friends, there is some comfort in normalcy.  There is comfort in being able to fly under the radar unmolested.  And as someone who’s spent much of her life as a painfully confused wallflower, normal seems pretty appealing. It’s the chance to not have an entire room stare at you and not having to pretend you don’t hear them talking under their breath about you.  (Though, I’ve taken to inventing my own dialogue when I hear people talking about me– “Oh Jade, she’s so cool! I’m so jealous of her cool, collected nature.”  It works better than you’d think.)

The “normal fallacy,” as it were, can be quite tempting.  Heck, I even fell prey to the assumption that I was normal during puberty.  As a queer person, I get asked about my coming out quite often.  And, frankly, it’s a little embarrassing.  When did I know I was gay? Well, it’s a bit murky.  I knew that I was attracted to women by the time I was 15, but I didn’t make the connection that said fact meant I could date women or that, heck, I might be gay, until I was 20!  Ridiculous, right? But it truly never occurred to me that (1) my attraction to women was out of the ordinary or (2) that it said anything about my sexuality.  After all, we’re all born straight! Right? Right..? Wait…

I even went so far as to date boys (rather, a boy) for nearly four years before I finally had to admit to the world that I was a raging dyke (and so many other parts of my life suddenly made sense).  I could not have been more oblivious at the time.  “Well, yeah, of course girls are sexy! Have you met my boyfriend? He’s pretty, isn’t he?”  The desire for normalcy is powerful and blind.

And so it is with relationships too.  That is, sometimes I wonder if my occasional longing for a relationship isn’t just a longing for the path more traveled.  In some ways, being a part of a couple is like getting into a special club.  You can go on double dates with other coupled friends, you get a plus one at weddings and special events, heck you have built in company for just about any event, and you can even bring your partner to a class reunion as a big middle finger to those asshats who said you’d always be alone.  Especially as you get older, others expect you to pair off, and reality becomes ever starker as your friends gradually pair off and you remain the ever-vigilant quirkyalone, who receives pitiful offers from friends to “live with me and my husband and kids someday,” as though all I ever wanted was to be a gay, glorified nanny for my straight friends.

None of this even mentions the financial or emotional benefits of being in a couple, just the social ones.  Sometimes it just seems like it would be easier to be part of a couple (which is ironic since any worthwhile relationship actually requires a lot of work and commitment!).

But there’s some trouble with normal… The Trouble with Normal… I kept  uttering this phrase to myself this morning until it hit me– I have a book with that title! (As a bibliophile, I often go on book-buying-binges when I’m depressed, and hence have a lot of books I adore, but have yet to read.)  I ran to my bookshelf and yes! There it was! The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life by Michael Warner.  I just started reading it, obviously, but I am so excited about this book.  Mr. Warner promises to present some seemingly radical ideas–like that marriage is itself unethical and there’s a principled defense for pornography–and I’m really quite giddy about the concept of dismantling sexual shame.

The culture has thousands of ways for people to govern the sex of others–and not just harmful or coercise sex, like rape, but the most personal dimensions of pleasure, identity, and practice.  We do this directly, though prohibition and regulation, and indirectly, by embracing one identity or one set of tastes as though they were universally shared, or should be.

And who says they should be?  I’ve felt like a total weirdo, sore-thumb sticking out, my whole life.  Or, almost my whole life.  Times when I didn’t feel weird? At NYC Pride.  At a drag show.  At queer dance parties.  I don’t feel like such a freak of nature when surrounded by my LGBTQ friends and allies.  In these queer safe spaces, I’m not constantly hearing about what an abomination against God I am, how I’m flaunting my sexuality just by being true to myself, or how the way I Love is “unnatural.”  And that makes all the difference.  We are what we fill our heads with– and when our heads are constantly filled with damaging messages about how we’re freaky, or weird, or flat out immoral just by being who we are… it’s easy to see why we sometimes feel like “normal” is right and we are “wrong.”  Pile this on top of all the other messages we’re bombarded with–about gender, about race, about creed, about body size and type–it’s perhaps a wonder that we aren’t all huddled in a corner in the fetal position.  There are so many qualifications to be “normal,” and none of them guarantee you happiness.  Just ask Ashley Riggitano.

Friends, I end this entry with a call to action:  Do not be satisfied with normal! Do not be satisfied with what you already see in the world (especially on television/in movies)! Go out, create, be true to yourself, be what you feel in your heart, and confidence and happiness will eventually find you.  I commit to this, too.  That I will embrace my “Dyke Diva” side instead of my social anxiety, and I bet you that “normal” will quickly lose it’s shine.  More reviews of The Trouble with Normal to come.

Oh, and I’ve said the phrase “Dyke Diva” enough times that I’m now required to show this:

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Great Expectations

(Cheesy title, I know, but it’s my favorite Dickens novel and it fits the topic perfectly!)

As much as we all know we shouldn’t be held to anyone’s expectations in our pursuit of happiness, except perhaps those we impose on ourselves, the expectations exist nonetheless.  I had a wonderful, impromptu conversation with a coworker the other day who shared with me some of the pressure she regularly gets from friends and family about the progression of her relationship.  In anything new this usually happens: the people who care about us want to know every last detail and sometimes they do more harm than good in their relentless quest for details and updates.   And in relationships, there’s even an expected timeline for relationship progression.

Don’t believe me? You must be under 18.  Otherwise, you’ve lived long enough to notice that even if you don’t jump on this timeline personally, your friends will, and they’ll do it in waves.  Between 18 and 25 you will attend more weddings than you knew you had friends and relatives.  From 25-40 you’ll be invited to so many baby showers that you’ll take up knitting just to cut costs.  And after 40? The divorce wave cometh.

My aforementioned coworker is married, and she and her husband have been together for nearly 8 years.  However, they’ve only been formally married for a little over a year.  Despite never having been married, I know what this means, at least in terms of expectations.  The public likes hot romances and fast families.  That is, we consider it fairly normal to marry someone if you’ve been dating for anywhere from 3 months to 2 years.  Beyond that? “What are you waiting for?” “When are you getting married?” “When is he going to propose??”  Personally, I have a much more conservative timeline.  I wouldn’t marry anyone I hadn’t lived with, and I wouldn’t move in with someone who I haven’t been dating at least a year (I know, I’m shattering all your lesbian=Uhaul stereotypes!).  Then after you get married, you have exactly ONE year to get yourself knocked-up or family and friends give themselves the liberty to comment on your reproductive choices and lack of reproductive promptness.  Think of the children! Literally.

We laughed as she went through a sampling of the torrent of comments she receives: “When are you going to start your family?” “Are you hoping for a boy or a girl?” “Are you trying very hard? You know the longer you wait…” “Tick, tick, tick! That’s your biological clock!” “You should try [insert sexual position or type of medical intervention here, along with a personal anecdote]!”

Do you see it? How there’s also an assumption with the expectation?  Never has my coworker been asked if she even wants to have children, that is just assumed, but people have no problem asking if she’d prefer a boy or a girl before she’s even pregnant! Audacious doesn’t begin to cover it.  But the truth is, our friends and family absolutely think this is not just their business, but their sworn duty to ask.  Without pressure from our social circles, I’d wager some of us would never get married or have children.

The other thing that strikes me about this is how incredibly sexist it is.  My coworker noted that while she receives these kinds of burning inquiries on a weekly basis, her husband has received them… never.   Some questions are absurdly offensive, like “When are you going to start a family?” as though two people who love each other do not make a family already!  And some of the questions, like “When is he going to propose?” just make no sense.  Who says he’s going to be the one to propose?  If he is proposing, isn’t it likely a surprise?  What if they haven’t discussed marriage yet?  For some a lack of interest in getting married is viewed as an unwillingness to commit and a dealbreaker, but to others it’s just not that big of a deal.  I could go on.  Even still, these are the questions women receive and men do not.  In the case of lesbians, I’ve found that when one partner is more masculine (like me!), they’re often treated like the man in the relationship (which, ironically, is rarely the case in my experience; butches are like Cadbury Eggs, we’re tough and chocolately on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside!).  Or, to quote a friend of mine, “There is no man in the relationship! That’s why we’re lesbians!” For gay men… I have no idea.  (Twinks, Bears, Gay men of all varieties– Enlighten me!)

All in all, these are intensely personal decisions that, for some reason, people feel entitled to inquire about.  Obviously, it depends on the relationship, but there are some friends with whom I truly have no desire to discuss my relationship plans.  But the sad truth is we do have an established structure in our society.  It approximately goes: Go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, buy a house, send your kids to school (cycle starts over with them), then work until your dead or can afford to retire.   Nowhere is it written that this is how you have to lead your life, but people will expect that this is what you want and eventually what you’ll settle on, if you haven’t already.

Gosh, it almost seems bleak.   But let me say what I said to my coworker:  “You’re allowed to not want children.”  Likewise, you’re allowed to not want to get married, you’re allowed to not actually get married, you’re allowed to not have children, you’re allowed to forgo a “regular” job for one of your own creation, you’re allowed to buy a boat or a hot air balloon instead of a house, heck, you’re allowed to run away to the nearest island and eat papayas all day.  It’s all about what makes you happy.  You are not required to live up to ANYONE’s expectations, no matter whose they are or how great they may seem.

As for single people, we have expectations too.  But the question we get is the same every time… So what’s new in your love life?!” 

Of course, I assume when I hit 40, it’ll change to, “When are you going to adopt another cat?” or “Have you purchased your grave-site yet?”

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Single vs Alone

Have you noticed that when describing people (be it yourself or someone else) who are not in a committed relationship or currently dating, we use the words “single” and “alone” interchangeably?  Everyone does it.  Don’t believe me? Read any column about dating or the quest for marriage and you’ll find that those two words are, in fact, used as though they had the same connotation.

And perhaps we do live in a time and place where some, very ignorant, people consider being alone and being single the same thing.  Well, I’m here today to tell you that they’re not.

“Single” mean you’re not dating/seeing anyone, whether by choice or otherwise.  “Alone,” literally speaking, means you have no one else.

Now, I would think it should be fairly obvious that no one is truly “alone” in this day and age.  I think one would be hard pressed just to find one’s self in a room without a television or a computer.  We are not alone.  Be it because of friends, family, coworkers, fellow weirdos on the internet–whatever–none of us are alone… even if it feels like it some days.   Knowing this fact, we’re forced to assume one of two things: Either no one actually understands what “alone” means, or using “alone” interchangeably with “single” is actually a judgement statement.  Unfortunately, I think the latter is far more likely.

This rhetorical misstep sends a clear message to the public, whether they realize it or not: Being single is “wrong,” if you’re single you’re actually all alone, singledom is an indication that no one wants you.  After all, usage of the word “alone” automatically implies that this is a negative, something that needs to be altered.  NO one wants to be alone!  “Single” doesn’t have quite the same impact, since “single” doesn’t inherently mean you’re not supposed to be.  What a load of crap, huh?  Well that’s how we talk about relationships in this country.  To quote Kelly Clarkson on this, “Doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone.”

Here’s a fun fact: I get lonely, sure, but rarely when I’m actually alone in a room.  Being alone recharges me as an introvert, and it’s often when I’m most productive and creative.  Alone time for me is fuel.  No, I’m more likely to feel lonely in a room full of people where I don’t know anyone, or if I do they’re entertaining or some such.  I get lost in crowds, and I know I’m not the only one.  I’m the type that prefers a few close friends rather than a huge network of acquaintances.  I would suspect that even extroverts feel lonely from time to time.

But I can’t help thinking how absurd the idea of “being alone” really is.  I mean, on the one hand, we’re all alone– we were born alone, we’ll die alone, etc. with only ourselves having the knowledge of the inner most workings of our minds and hearts.  Sure, that’s true.  But on the other hand, if you are “being” in the world, there is no way for you to actually “be” whilst “alone.”  Even if you’re alone in your room, there are people still all around you outside of said room.  The world is a big place!

It’s an effective scare tactic, though.  “Hurry up and buy our products so you can land a wo/man or else you’ll be sad and alone forever!”  Riiiight.  Listen up, advertisers: I’m single by choice and I am NOT alone.  I don’t need your products, or a partner, to complete me or make me more palatable for you and your agenda.  Unless you’re selling vibrators… in which case I’ll take one of those. 😉

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Please Bring…

Last week our department hit our 90%-before-the-end-of-March fundraising goal.  Obviously, we were all pretty excited! But the department VP asked that we keep low-key about it for the moment.  Today, I received an email invitation to a celebration party.  Our VP’s husband is a chef, so she’s inviting us all over to her house for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon.  Sounds great, right? Good food and a reason to celebrate! But I’m not sure if I’m going…

Well, why the hell not?!  The invitation was short and sweet.  It said:

Now it is time to celebrate!!!

[Date, Time, Location]

Please bring your significant other and join us for a few hours to celebrate hitting 90%!!!

See the problem? It’d be one thing if she said, “Feel free to bring your significant other,”  but this “please” business has me confused as to whether or not I am actually invited to attend should I NOT have a significant other to bring.  Seems far-fetched, right? It is a work event… but even if we dismiss that notion, there’s still the fact that every other person there will have a significant other with them, and I am straight up not sure if I will even have anyone to talk to!  The last thing I want to do is be mopey in front of my co-workers, but if I go and I’m the only single person there, that’s a very real possibility.

To clarify, here’s a quick breakdown of everyone in my department at work by relationship status: 8 of them are married, 3 others are in committed relationships, and one is single.  You already know which one is me.  To be fair, I’m also the youngest person in my department, but not by a heck of a lot!  The two co-workers closest in age to me (they’re a year or two older than me) are both married.

It’s not like this is a new problem, it’s just one that’s complicated by work.  I’ve routinely not been invited to events or suddenly was not able to spend as much time with a friend because I don’t have a significant other to bring to said events or double dates or whatever it is couples do with other couples.   I’ve never really understood couples-only events, to be honest.  Are your single friends less interesting? Do you have less in common with them? I just don’t see what there is to be gained by excluding people on the basis of their relationship status.

So here we have an event I might not even be invited to if it weren’t for work, again, on the basis that I do not have an S.O. to bring to the party.  So what do I do? Go alone? Skip it? Bring a friend? Bring my cat just so we can all be super clear about who the spinster is?

This seems like an unnecessary amount of heartache for what would otherwise sound like a fun Sunday to me.  Excluded before the party has even started.

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The Dreaded “Why?” Part 2

As a single gal, there’s another why I find myself asking fairly often.  Namely, “Why didn’t it work out?”

I love to learn, so mistakes are fine as long as I’m learning from them.  I don’t know that I always do, but I really try.  Though, that might be part of the problem.  I’m always trying to see what I did wrong that I can learn from.  And in life, sometimes shit just doesn’t work out.  I’m getting a lot more comfortable with the fact that there’s a lot in my life I can’t control, but I’m taking responsibility for the things I can.

Reasons why it hasn’t worked out in my past relationships:

  • I came out.
  • (Very) Long distance for too long of a duration.
  • Lying (on their part)
  • Manipulation (on my part)
  • Lack of communication.
  • Moving way too fast (on either end)
  • Misunderstanding.
  • Ego (I told you I date narcissists!)
  • Illness

I’ve definitely learned that open communication and honesty are paramount to a successful relationship.  I’ve also learned that sometimes “great chemistry” can be explosive… and not in a good way.  Dating someone too much like yourself? You share strengths, but weaknesses also.  Better to be with someone who you compliment rather than mirror.  But your heart is going to do what it wants.

And timing is everything.  A good third of my relationships may have worked out if the timing had been better.

My first (and only) boyfriend lived an ocean away from me, but we were together for nearly five years.  It was a strange relationship, based more on intellectual attraction than physical.  Not to say that when we did see each other we didn’t fuck like bunnies– we totally did.  But so much of our relationship took place via online conversations.  It eventually ended when I came out, but the distance had been straining things for a long time.

Much later I did try a distance relationship again, but this was with someone only 100 miles away from me.  In some ways, that was more frustrating, since they felt close by, but without a car I maybe saw them twice a month.  So while I can see long distance working on a temporary basis, it’s pretty much a deal breaker for me personally.

My best friend once outlined four factors that are required for successful relationship: physical attractiveness, proximity, similarity, and reciprocity.  Usually physical attractiveness and similarity aren’t my problems– reciprocity and proximity are.  I like someone, but they don’t move in the same social circles I do, or even live in the same town.  And often I fall for people who wouldn’t look twice in my direction (I’m open to being proven wrong).

At the end of the day, though, I think I have to let both the “Why?”s go.  All relationships end for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean that days, weeks, months, or years you had together weren’t worthwhile, or that perusing relationships in the future aren’t worthwhile.  I hate when folks write off an entire relationship because it ultimately ended.  People ebb and flow in our lives, some stay longer than others, but all hold a purpose.  Or at least that’s what I like to think.

So I keep sailing along, following the current, eager to see what shore I end up on next.

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The Dreaded “Why?”

Despite being overwhelming busy between work and volunteering, I’ve actually gone on a few dates recently.  Single doesn’t mean I’m not trying, right?

I met this person through a social networking site, we e-mailed back and forth for a while, and then finally met in person this past weekend.  Some of you caught that I said “person” rather than “girl.”  And some of you are thinking, “Aren’t you gay?” No, actually, I’m queer.  Which generally means I’m dating other women, but in reality I’m attracted to fellow queers and genderqueers.  So this person is a transguy.  And boy is he ever cute!

Anyhow, we had a really lovely first date.  Lots of strolling around down town and talking, stopped in at the LGBTQ film festival, and had some fantastic conversations.  I guess he liked me, too, ’cause we’re still talking!  A few days ago we were chatting online and he asked me the dreaded question…

“So why are you single, anyway?”

Oh god.  He’s looking for something.  He thinks I’m great, but I’m single, so there MUST be something wrong with me– right? RIGHT? OK… BREATHE.

The truth is, I don’t know.  I’ve asked myself that same question approximately a hundred million times, to date.  And I don’t have an answer.  I have a lot of good qualities– I’m smart, funny, affectionate, compassionate, patient, spontaneous and curious, to name a few.  I do have some theories about my singledom, though:

  • That I’m queer rather than feminine, and a lot of people don’t know what to do with this.
  • That I’m fat, and fat people are highly stigmatized in our society since we like to conflate it with health and self-control.
  • That I’m shy, and less likely to make the first move unless our chemistry is such that I’m the more dominant partner.
  • That I work… A LOT, and have less time (and money, ironically) to go out than I would like in an ideal world.
  • I’m often attracted to narcissists.  No joke.  And co-narcissism does not make for a strong foundation to a fulfilling, long-term relationship.
  • I don’t date arbitrarily.  I’ve recently discovered this is called being a “quirkyalone.”  What it means, basically, is that I’m not going to ask out someone I don’t already like.  I won’t ask out a complete stranger, or go to bars to pick up people.  I want to get to know you at least a little first.
  • I lack confidence.  I do.  I’ve worked on this a lot through the years and I’m more confident than I’ve ever been, but it’s still not where I want need it to be.

I told him some combination of the above.  I hope he’s not looking for that something “wrong” with me.  I’m quirky as all hell, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  I’ve never been called “boring,” for what it’s worth!

Anyhow… I’ll have to let you know how it goes.  We did have a second date last night.  It ended with some delicious kisses, and now I can’t stop thinking about his soft lips.  There is, naturally, a catch: He’s poly, and I’m not.  So we’ll see how it all plays out.

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